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L a. 101 






FROM Z^*^ -fe^"''x 

'. ^ ■; A. 

THE EARLIP:ST period to the ^Vr;^l<^ 








^^^. ^. /^/. 


SpoTTiffwooDBs and Shaw, 






Alfbed'« Intellectual Character. 

A.C. Page 

He learns to read . . . . i 

State of the Anglo-Saxon mind - - - 4 

Illiteracy of the clergy - - - - 9 

Alfred'^ self-education - - - - 10 

His subsequent instructors - - - 12 

His invitation of Asser - ~ - - 13 

And of Grimbald - - - - 15 

His attainment of the Latin language - - 16 

His preface to Gregory's Pastorals - - 17 

CHAP. n. 

Alfred** Translation o/* Boetius'* Consolations ofPhilo- 
sophy. -* Alfbed considered as a Moral Essayist, — 
His ThoughtSy TaleSy and Dialogues on various StAjects. 

His Translation of Boetius - - - 20 

His feeling of connubial felicity - - - 22 

His story of Orpheus and Eurydice - - 23 

His thoughts on wealth and liberality - - 24 

His thoughts on a good name - - -25 

On the value of jewels - - - - 26 

On the advantage of the rich - - - ib. 

On power - - - - - 29 

A 2 


A. C. Page 

On the mind - - - - - 30 

On his principles of government - - 31 

Alfred on the golden age - - - ib. 

His thoughts on glorj - - - - 32 

On adversity - - - - - 35 

On friendship - - - - - ib. 

His ideas of the system of nature - - 36 

His story of Ulysses and Circe - , - - 37 

His thoughts on the Supreme Good - -38 

On wisdom - - - - - ib. 

On real greatness - - - - 40 

On birth - - - - - 42 

On kings - - - • - 44 

On the benefits of adversity - - - 47 

His philosophical address to tlie Deity - - 50 

His metaphysics - - - - - 53 

His thoughts on chance - - - - 54 

On the freedom of will - - - - ib. 

Why men have freedom of will - - - 55 

On the Divine Providence - - - 56 

On human nature and its best interests - - 59 

On the Divine Nature - - - - 61 

CHAP. ni. 

Alfred'^ Geographicaly Historical, Astronomical, 
Botanical, and other Knotolege, 

His translation of Orosius - - - 67 

His geographical knowlege - - - ib. 

Alfred's Notitia of Germany - - - 68 

Ohthere's voyage - - - - 69 

Wulfstan's voyage - - - - 72 

Alfred's historical knowlege - - - 73 

His translation of Bede - - - - 74 

His astronomy - - - - - ib. 

His botanical knowlege - - - - 75 

His translation of Gregory's Pastorals - - 76 

Werefrith's dialogues of Gregory - - 77 

Alfred's selections from St. Austin - - 79 

His Psalter - - - - - 80 

His Bible - - - - - ib. 

His iEsop - - - - - ib. 


A. C. I'age 

His taste Iq the arts - ~ - 83 

Architecture - - - - - ib. 

Ship-building - - - - •• ib. 

Workmanship in gold - - - - ib. 

Alfked'* Poetical Compositions. 


From Boetius on serenity of mind - - 86 

On the natural equality of mankind - - 88 

On tyrants - - - - - 89 

On covetousness - - - - 92 

On sel/-govemment - - - - 93 

On the excursiveness of mind - - - 94 

His picture of futurity - - - - 96 

His address to the Deity - - - 98 


Alfred'^ Moral Character^ 

His education of his children - - - 103 

His arrangement of officers - - - 107 

His management of his time - - - 108 

His piety 110 

Extracts from his translation of St. Austin's 

Meditations - - - - -114 

Character of St. Neot - - - - 118 

Alfred surnamed the Truth-teller - - 120 


Alf&ed'j Public Conduct. 

His efforts to improre his countrymen - - 121 

His embassy to India - - - - 125 

His laws 128 

His police - - - - - ib. 

His administration of justice - - - 131 

901. His illness and death - - - - 132 

Antiquity of Oxford and Cambridge - - 134 
Essay on the Christians in India in the time of 

Alfred 136 

A 3 



JTie Reign of Edwabd the Elder. 

A. C. Page 

901. Edward chosen by the nobles - - - 143 

905. Ethelwold by the Northmen - - - ib. 

Edward's conflict with the Danes - - 144 

924. His death and character • - - - 149 

CHAP. n. 
The Reign of Athelstan. 

924. Athelstan's accession - - - - 151 

His sister's marriage to Sigtryg - - - 152 

Anlaf 's formidable invasion - - - 155 

He visits Athelstan's camp - - - 156 

The night attack - - - - 157 

934. The main battle at Brunanburh - - - 158 

Athelstan first monarch of England - - 162 

His connections with Bretagne - - - 164 

with France - - - 165 

Louisy king of France - - - - 167 

His friendship with England - - - ib. 

His connection with the emperor Henry I. - 168 

Otho marries Athelstan's sister - - - 170 

Athelstan's transactions with Norway - - ib. 

He educates Haco - - - - 172 

Athelstan's books - - - - 176 

His character - - - - - 177 



Sketch of the Ancient History of Bbetagne^ and 
Athelstan'^ Reception' of its Chiefs. 

Bretagne - - - - - 179 

Armorica - - - . . igO 

513. Britons emigrate to Armorica - - - 182 

Armorican Cornwall - - - - 188 

Britons fly to Athelstan - - - - 190 



On the Colon I of the Roman Empire. 

It will assist us in forming more correct ideas of the state of 
the peasantry of the Anglo-Saxons, if we consider that j)or- 
tion of the agricultural population in the Koman empire, 
when the Gothic nations overran it, who were termed the 
Colani. It is probable that this order of peasants was esta- 
blished in Britain while the Romans occupied it, as in the 
other parts of their dominions ; and that the Anglo-Saxons 
found them there when they invaded it. 

Mr. Savigny has given one of the latest and best accounts 
of this class of the Koman husbandmen in his Memoir to the 
Acad. Roy. at Berlin, in 1822 ; and as they seem to come 
nearest to the Anglo-Saxon ceorls than any others of the rustic 
class of the lower empire, we will subjoin some of the in- 
formation which he has industriously collected. 

" The Coloni were by their birth attached to the soil, not 
as day-labourers, but as farmers, cultivating, on their own 
account, a certain extent of soil, and obliged to pay for their 
enjoyment of it an annual canon or a rent, usually in kind, 
but sometimes in money. They do not seem to have been 
subjected to any personal services for the proi)rietor of the 
lands they occupied, who was often called the Pair onus. 
They had no actual right in the land ; yet as they could not 
be 8ei)arated from it, nor their rent be arbitrarily increased, 
their tenure was as secure as if they had been proprietors. 

" The land could not be alienated without the coloni, nor 
the coloni without the lan^ They were subjected to a per- 
sonal contribution to the stat^^ which was entered on the rolls 
after the land tax on the prc^rty. 

" The owner paid bot^^ these assessments to the govern- 
ment, and collected them from these tenants ; with whom 
the personal tax was so closely connected, that when the law 
suppressed it in some ^fcvinces, it added a declaration that 
this should not change the condition of the coloni. 

" They differed from slaves in being freemen : capable of 
contracting man-iage, and of possessing property of their own, 
which their patronus could not take, though they could not 

VOL. U. L L 


alienate It without his leave. But they got released from this 
restriction^ if they became one of the three classes into which 
the free citizens of the empire were divided : Gives ; Latini; 
Percgrini. Their obligatory attachment to the soil occa- 
sioned them to be sometimes called Servi terra; and from 
their taxation they were also named adscriptitii ; trihutarii; 
censiti ; a more rare appellation was inquilini. The largest 
part of them were in this state from birth ; some by prescrip- 
tion ; and some^ less frequently, by contract." Ferrussac's 
Bull. Univ. 1827, No. 3. Hist pp. 200—202. 


LuNDOh : 

i^roTTiswooiiBs Mid Shaw, 


CHAP. m. 
The Reign of Edmund the Elder. 

A. C. ^ Pnge 

941. Edmund succeeds - - - * - 191 

Anlaf 's struggles with him - - - ib. 

946. Edmund's assassination - - - - 193 


The Reign of Edbed. 

946. Edred's accession .... 195 

War with Eric - - - - - 197 


The Reign of Edwin. 

955. Edwin succeeds ----- 199 

The Benedictine order - - - . 200 

Life of Dunstan ----- 204 

He insults the king and queen - - - 217 

Flies from court - - - . 218 

Cruel persecution of Elgiva - - - 219 

959. Edwin's death - - - - - 220 

JTie Reign of Edgab. 

959. Edgar's accession .... 222 

Dunstan prosecutes the monastic reformation - 223 

His friends Oswald and Ethelwold - - ib. 

969. Edgar supports the monks ... 226 

His character ..... 230 


Reign of Edwabd the Martyr y or Edward the Second of 

the Anglo-Saxon Kings. 

975. Edward succeeds - . - . 233 

Contests of the monks and clergy - - ib. 

978. Edward assassinated .... 286 
Review of the evidence as to Dunstan's conduct 

atCalne - - - - - 237 


CHAP. vm. 

Review of the State and History of Denmark and Norway 
at the Accession of Ethelbed, and of the last Stage of 
the Northern Piracy. 

A. C. Page 

State of Denmark - - - - 241 

City of Jomsburg - - - - ib. 

Svein's reign ----- 243 

Norway — Haco's reign - - - - 244 

Life of Olaf Tryggva's Son - - - 248 

Last stage of northern piracy - - - 250 

The Reign of Ethelred the Unready, 

978. Ethebed's accession ... - 260 

Country discontented - - - - 261 

980. Danes begin to invade - - - - ib. 

Byrhtnoth's conflicts in Essex, and the Saxon 

poem upon him - - - - 262 

991. Danes bought off - - - - 263 

1002. Massacre of the Danes - - - - 269 

Calamities of the nations - - - 272 

Ethebred's flight - - - - - 275 

Death of Svein the Danish king - - - ib. 

1013. Canute continues the contest - - - 276 

Picture of the internal state of England . - 277 

The Reign ofEDMUND Ironside. 

1016. Edmund accedes - . . _ 279 

His battles with Canute - . - . 280 

He challenges Canute .... 283 

He is assassinated . - - . 284 

Rise of Earl Godwin - - - - ib. 

The Reign of Canute the Great. 

1016. Canute chosen king .... 287 

He punishes Edric - . . . 289 


A. C. Page 

1018. Marries Emraa - - - - - 290 

1025. His wars in Denmark - - - - ib. 

His assassination of Ulfr . - . 292 

1028. Death of St. Olave of Norway - - • - ib. 

Canute's greatness of mind - - • 293 

His patronage of the Scallds . - - 295 

1031. His journey to Rome - - - - 296 

His noble feelings - - - - ib. 

The Reign of Harold tlie Firsts sumamed Harefoot. 

1035. Harold succeeds his father ... 300 

1040. His death - - - - - 302 

CHAP. xni. 

TJie Reign of Hardicanute. 

1040. He succeeds his brother - - - - 303 

1042. His sudden death - - - - 304 


The Rfiign of Edward the Confessor. — The Saxon 

Line restored. 

1042. Edward's accession - - - . 305 

He marries Editha - - - - ib. 

Magnus of Norway threatens an invasion - ib. 

Edward's character - - - . 307 

He befriends the Normans - - . 308 

Godwin's rebellion - - - - ib. 

1051. William of Normandy visits Edward - - 311 

1053. Godwin's death - - - - - 313 

Civil factions - - - - -315 

Harold's victories in Wales - - - 316 

Macbeth defeated by Siward ... 319 

106(). Edward dies ----- 319 



The Reign of Harold the Second^ the Son of Godwin, 
and the last of the Anglo-Saxon Kings. 

A. C. Page 

1066. Competition between Harold and William - 321 

Harold's transactions in Normandy - - 322 

The tapestry of Bayeux - - - - 324 

Harold's coronation - - . - 329 

His brother Tostig invades him - - - 331 

William accedes in Normandy - - - 332 

His message to Harold .... 333 

Harold's answer - - - . 334 

King of Norway invades . . - 336 

His defeat and death « - - - 341 

William sails from Normandy ... 343 

28th Sept. he lands at Pevensey . . - 345 

Harold marches against him ... 349 

Battle of Hastings - - - - 352 

Harold falls - - - - - 356 

On the Language of the Anglo-S AXONS. 


On its structure - . - - - 363 

On the verba - . - . . 366 

On the nouns ----- 369 

On the Finnish branch of Languages - - 375 

CHAP. n. 

On its originality - - - - 376 

CHAP. m. 

On its copiousness - - - . 379 

Specimens - - - - - 381 


On its affinities and analogies . . - 387 

Alphabetical catalogue of the Affinities of the 

Anglo-Saxon - - • • . 388 


A. C. Page 

Its affinities with the Persian, Zend, and Pehlvi - 406 

Do. with the Arabic - - - - 407 

Hebrew - - - - 411 

Chinese - - - - 413 

Sanscrit - - - - 414 

Greorgian ... 416 

Malay - - - - 418 

— — Mantchou - - . 419 

Japanese - - - - ib. 

Caribbee - - - - 420 

Turkish - - - - ib. 

Susoo - - - - ib. 

Tonga - - - - 421 

Lapland - . - - 422 


Money of the Anglo-Saxons ... 425 

The HUtory of the Laws of the Anglo-Saxons. 


Distinction between vices, crimes, and sin - 436 

Homicide ... - - 437 
Specimen of Anglo-Saxon violences daring Alfred's 

reign ---..- 443 

CHAP. n. 

Personal injuries .... 445 


Theft and robbery - . - - 448 


Adultery - ... - 450 


On the were and mund - - . - 452 


Their bail or borh - - - . 454 



A. C. Page 

Their legal tribunals ... - /ir57 


Their ordeala and legal punishments - - 461 

The trial by jury . . ~ - 464 


On the Agriculture and Landed Property of the Anglo- 


Their husbandry - - . - 470 

On their seasons - . - - 476 


Their proprietorship in lands and tenures - 479 

CHAP. ni. 

The burdens to which the lands were liable, and 
their privileges - - - - 435 

CHAP. rv. 

Their conveyances - - - - 491 


Some particulars of the names and places in Mid- 
dlesex and London, in the Anglo-Saxon times - 496 

Law-suits about land - - - - 499 

Their denominations of land ... 503 

Note on the Colon! of the Roman Empire - 505 







Alfred*^ intellectual Character, — State of the Anglo-Saxon 
Mind. — Illiteracy of its Clergy, — Alfred** Self -education. 
— His subsequent Instructors, — His invitation of Asser and 
of Grimbald. — His attainment of the Latin Language. — His 
Preface to Gregory** Pastorals. 

The incidents which principally contributed to excite 
Alfred's infant mind into activity^, and to give it 
ideas more varied and numerous than childhood 
usually obtains, have been noticed in the preceding 
pages; as well as the fact that he was passing the 
first twelve years of his life without any education.^ 
But although thus neglected, his intellectual faculty 

' Alfred hud the felicity of possessing a literary friend, Asser, of Saint David's, 
who compoied some biographical sketches of his great master's life and manners. 
His woric Is somewhat rude and incomplete ; but it is estimable for its apparent 
candour and unaffected simplicity. It is the effusion of a sensible, honest, observ- 
ing mind. The information which it conveys has never been contradicted, and 
harmonises with every other histor>' or tradition, that has been preserved concerning 
Alfred. The merits of Alf^d, therefore, are supported by a degree of evidence 
which seldom attends the charactfrs of ancient days. But we shall be able to 
exhibit him still more satisfactorily, in his own words from his own works. 

* See before, VoL L p. 431. Asser, 16. Malmsb. 45. Jam duodenis omnis 
literature expers fiiit. 



BOOK was too powerful to be indolent, or to be contented 
^' . with the illiterate pursuits which were the fashion of 
the day. It turned, from its own energies and sym- 
pathies, towards mental cultivation ; and attached 
itself to that species of it, which, without the aid of 
others, it could by its own industry obtain. This 
was the Saxon popular poetry. In all the nations 
of the North, whether from the Keltic or Teutonic 
stock, persons were continually emerging, who pur- 
sued the art of arranging words into metrical com- 
position, and of appljdng this arrangement to express 
their own feelings, or to perpetuate the favourite 
subjects of their contemporaries or patrons. By this 
verbal rhythm, however imperfect ; by the emotions 
Avhich it breathed or caused ; or by the themes with 
which it has been connected, the rudest minds, that 
have been most adverse to literature, have been al- 
ways found to be impressible. Hence, before Alfred's 
birth, Saxon poems had been written ; and, in the 
court of his father and brothers, there were men who 
were fond of repeating them. Wherever they were 
recited, either by day or night, Alfred is recorded to 
have been, before he could read, an eager auditor, 
and was industrious to commit them to his memory.^ 
This fondness for poetry continued with him through 
life. It was always one of his principal pleasures 
to learn Saxon poems, and to teach them to others ^ ; 

' Sed Saxonlca poeniata die noctuque solers auditor relatu aliorum uepissime 
audiens, docibilis memoriter retinebat Asser, 16. 

* Et maxime carmina Saxonlca memoriter discere, aliis imperare. Asser, 43. 
Many princes were at this period fond of poetr>'. Eginhard mentions of Charle- 
magne, that he transcribed and learnt the barbara et antiquissima carmina quibua 
veterum regum actus et bella canebantur, p. II. In 844 died Abdalla, son of 
Taher, a Persian king, in Chorasan, who composed some Arabic poems, and was 
celebrated fn his talents in many elegies, by the poets who survived him. Mir- 
chond, Hist Reg. Fers. p. 9. In 862, Mustansir Billa, the caliph of the Saracens, 
died by poison ; he wrote verses, of which Elmacin has preserved twa Hist Sarac. 
c. xii. p. ISA. Wacic, the caliph, who died 846, was a poet Elmacin cites some 
of his verses. His dying words were " O thou, whose kingdom never passes away, 
pity one whose dignity is so transient" lb. His successor, Mutewakel, was also 


and we have specimens of his own efforts to compose 
them, in his translation of the metres of Boetius. 
The memory of his children was also chiefly exer- 
cised in this captivating art. ^ It had a powerful 
effect on Alfred's mind : it kindled a desire of being 
sung and celebrated himself: it created a wish for 
further knowledge ; and began a taste for intellectual 
compositions. The Muses have in every age had 
these effects. Their lays have always been found to 
be most captivating and most exciting to the young 
mind. They are the most comprehensible form of 
lettered intellect ; and being, in their rudest state, 
the effusions of the feelings of the day, they excite 
congenial feelings in those who hear and read them. 
Poetry is sympathy addressing sympathy ; and if its 
subjects were but worthy of its excellences, it would 
lead the human mind to every attainable perfection. 
Alfred, though young, felt forcibly its silent appeal 
to the noble nature that lived within him ; and when 
his mother promised the book of poems, already men- 
tioned, to whichever of her sons would learn to read 
it, he sought an instructor, and never ceased his ex- 
ertions till he had enabled himself to obtain it.^ 

The merit of Alfred in voluntarily attaining this state of 
important though now infant art, was more peculiar, g^^^*^ 
because not only his royal brothers, and most, if not mind, 
all, of the contemporary kings were without it ; but 
even that venerated class of the nation, in whom the 
largest part of the learning of their age usually con- 
centrates, was, in general, ignorant of it. Such facts 
induce us to consider our ancestors with too much 
contempt. But we may recollect that literature was 
not despised by them from want of natural talent, 
or from intellectual torpidity. Their minds were 

* £t maxime Saxonica carmina studioee didicere, et frequentissime libris utuntur. 
Asfer, 43. 
' Asscr, 16. Malmsb. 45. ^ 

B 2 


BOOK Vigorous, and in great and continual exertion ; but 
■ the exertion was confined within the horizon, and 
directed to the objects, around them. The ancient 
world stood, in its recording memorials, like an un- 
known continent before them, shrouded from their 
sight by its clouds and distance, and kept so by their 
belief of its inutility. It was too unlike their own 
world, and too little connected mth their immediate 
pursuits for them to value or explore. They did 
not want its remains for their jurisprudence; their 
landed property ; the rules of their nobility and 
feudal rights ; their municipal institutions ; their re- 
ligion ; their morals ; their internal traffic, manners, 
amusements, or favourite pursuits. On most of these 
points, and in their legislative assemblies and laws, 
as well as in their private and public wars, they 
were so dissimilar to the Greeks and Romans, that 
the classical authors were as unserviceable to them 
as those of the Chinese are to us. This may explain 
that indifference of our ancestors to literature which 
we can scarcely conceive. If a magician could offer 
us a fairy wand, by which, at our own pleasure, 
we could transport ourselves to the busy streets of 
Athens or Rome, to hear Demosthenes harangue, or 
Socrates teach ; or Virgil and Horace recite their 
immortal compositions ; or could make all the past 
ages live again before our sight, with all their ap- 
plauded characters, and interesting incidents, who, 
that is not insane, would refuse the stupendous gift ? 
The art of writing, combined with an ability to 
read, provides us with this wondrous i)ower, and yet 
the highest ranks of the Anglo-Saxons would not 
acquire such a fascinating privilege. But their aver- 
sion, or their apathy, did not arise from proud ig- 
norance or brutal stupidity. They neglected what 
we so dearly value, because it neither coincided with 
their habits of life, nor suited their wants, nor pro- 


moted their worldly interests. They had to fight for 
several generations to win their territorial possessions, 
and afterwards, from their mutual independence, to 
defend them against each other. The whole frame of 
their society, and the main direction of their spirit 
and education, was essentially, because necessarily, 
warlike. The continual attacks from the Sea-kings 
and Vikingr of other countries also contributed to 
make the preparation for battle, military vigilance, 
and repeated conflicts, the inevitable and prevailing 
habits of their life and thoughts. Classical literature 
could then have been only a subject of speculative 
curiosity to their retired clergy, inapplicable to any 
of the daily pursuits of the laity ; and, by its pagan 
mythology, rather impeding than assisting the de- 
votion of their monasteries. For their religion and 
morals they had higher sources in their revered 
Scriptures ; and for their rights and ceremonies they 
had sufficient teachers, occasionally from Rome, and 
generally in their native clergy. To these, indeed, a 
small portion of Latin was necessary for the correct 
reading and due understanding of their breviaries. 
But to the rest of society it was not more practically 
essential than the scientific astronomy of a Newton 
or La Place to ourselves. It would have improved 
their minds, and enlarged their knowledge, and pro- 
duced beneficial effects ; but all the daily business of 
their lives could be, and was, very ably transacted 
without it. Hence the intellects of our ancestors 
are no more to be impeached for their ignorance of 
classical literature, than ours are for our inability to 
perform their martial exercises; or for the absence 
of that great mass of discoveries and improvements, 
which we hope that a few more centuries will add to 
the stock we now possess. We may likewise add, 
that there is no convincing evidence that the Anglo- 

B 3 


BOOK Saxon public were mucli more deficient in the art or 
^' habit of reading, than the public of the Roman em- 
pire, whom the Gothic nations subdued. It is pro- 
bable that the bulk of mankind in the ancient world, 
was always as illiterate as our Saxon forefathers. We 
too gratuitously ascribe a literary cultivation to the 
whole Grecian and Roman population. Many en- 
lightened minds and great authors emerged from the 
various provinces, and produced that stream of in- 
tellect which has so highly enriched the world, and 
given a new source of happiness to human life. But 
we must not take the writers in the Latin language 
that have survived to us, as the general samples of 
their contemporaries. The more this subject is 
studied, the more clearly it will be perceived, that 
there was less difference between the intellectual 
state of the mass of the people before and after the 
Gothic irruptions, than has been usually supposed. 
It is the art of printing which, by making the dif- 
fusion of knowledge so easy, has created that vast 
distinction in this respect, which is now every where 
observable in Europe, and in which we so justly 
exult ; and yet, until lately, how many, even amongst 
ourselves, have passed through life, not unreputably, 
without that instruction, for the absence of which 
our predecessors have been so strongly arraigned ! 
What was our national multitude in this respect 
even a single century ago ? Before Addison made 
reading popular, what were our farmers, artisans, 
tradesmen, females, and the generality of our mid- 
dling gentry ? It was therefore a defect, but no pe- 
culiar stain, that our Anglo-Saxon ancestors were an 
illiterate population. More gratitude is due to those 
who, in an age so unfavourable, could desire and 
attain an intellectual cultivation. 

But in this state, even before increased wealth and 
population had given to some part of society both 



leisure and desire for objects of mere intellectual chap. 
curiosity, a few soaring minds occasionally emerged 
among the Anglo-Saxons, who became inquisitive be- 
yond the precincts of their day. One of these was 
Alfred. Led by the encouragement of his step- 
mother to attain the art of reading, it was happy for 
his country that he endeavoured to pursue it. If he 
had not made this acquisition, he would have been 
no more than many of the race of Cerdic had been 
before him. But the love of study arising within him, 
and gradually bringing to his view the anterior ages 
of human history, and all their immortalised charac- 
ters, the spark of moral emulation kindled within him ; 
he strove for virtues which he could not else have 
conceived ; he aspired to the fame which only these 
will bestow ; and became a model of wisdom and ex- 
cellence himself, for other generations to resemble. 
In no instance has an immortal renown been more 
clearly the result of literary cultivation, than in our 
venerated Alfred. It was his intellectual improve- 
ment which raised him from a half-barbaric Saxon 
to a high-minded, patriotic, and benevolent sage, 
whose wisdom, as will be presently shown, still lives 
to instruct and interest even an age so superior 
as our own. 

But the Anglo-Saxon poetry, to which Alfred first 
directed his application, was but scanty and barren, 
and must have been soon exhausted. To gratify his 
increasing intellectual propensities, he had to go far 
beyond his contemporaries, and to become himself the 
architect of his knowledge. Modem education de- 
prives modern men of this merit, because all parents 
are at present anxious to have their children taught 
whatever it is honourable to know. To be intelli- 
gent now is even more necessary than to be affluent, 
because Mind has become the invisible sovereign of 
the world ; and they who cultivate its progress, being 

B 4 


BOOK diffused every where in society, are the real tutors of 
' the human race ; they dictate the opinions, they 
fashion the conduct of all men. To be illiterate, or 
to be imbecile in this illumined day, is to be despised 
and trodden down in that tumultuous struggle for 
wealth, power, or reputation, in which every indi- 
vidual is too eagerly conflicting. In the days of 
Alfred, the intellect was a faculty which no one con- 
sidered distinct from the pursuits of life : and there- 
fore few thought of cultivating it separately from 
these, or even knew that they possessed it as a dis- 
tinct property of their nature, 
nuteracy of It is difficult to conccivc how much even church- 
"*''* men partook of the most gross ignorance of the times : 
"Very few were they," says Alfred, "on this side 
the Humber (the most improved parts of England), 
who could understand their daily prayers in English, 
or translate any letter from the Latin. I think there 
were not many beyond the Humber ; they were so 
few, that I indeed cannot recollect one single instance 
on the south of the Thames, when I took the king- 
dom."^ On less authority than his own, we could 
hardly believe such a general illiteracy among the 
clergy, even of that day : it is so contrary to all our 
present experience. The earls, governors, and ser- 
vants of Alfred, were as uninformed. When the 
king's wise severity afterwards compelled them to 
study reading and literature, or to be degraded, they 
lamented that in their youth they had not been in- 
structed ; they thought their children happy who 
could be taught the liberal arts, and mourned their 
own misfortune, who had not learnt in their youth ; 
because in advanced life they felt themselves too old 

' Spithe reape psppon behionan |>aiDbpe the bioria thenansa cutben unbep- 
fcanban on enslifc ocbche rapcbum an cpenbseppic oj Leebene on Cnslirc 
apeccan anb ic pene cbiec re naabt monise beseonban )>umbpe naepen : fpa 
reape biopa pspon ehacre ic rupcbum anne aniepne oe mss setbencean be 
rucban Temefe tha tba ic to pice jrens. A1flred*8 Prr&ce, p. 82. Wlse'a Asser. 


to acquire what Alfred's commands imposed as a duty, 
and his example had made a wish.^ 

When Alfred began his own education, he had not Aiflred's 
only to find the stimulus in himself, to cherish it in ttonr*"**" 
opposition to the prejudices and practice of his coun- 
trymen, and to search out his own means, but he had 
also to struggle against difficulties which would have 
extinguished the infant desire in a mind of less 
energy. His principal obstacle was the want of in- 
structors. " What," says his friend, who happily for 
posterity has made us acquainted with the private 
feelings as well as public pursuits of this noble-minded 
sovereign, " what, of all his troubles and difficulties, 
he affirmed, with frequent complaint and the deep la- 
mentations of his heart, to have been the greatest, 
was, that when he had the age, permission, and ability 
to learn, he could find no masters."^ When Alfred 
had attained the age of maturity, and by the dignity 
to which he succeeded, had gained the means of ob- 
taining instruction, he was almost disabled from 
profiting by the advantage. A disease, his daily and 
nightly tormentor, which his physicians could neither 
remedy nor explore ; the duties and anxieties inse- 
parable from his royal station ; the fierce aggressions 
of the Northmen, which on sea and land demanded 
his pi'esence and exertions, so afflicted and consumed 
his future life, that though he got a few masters and 
writers, he was unable to enjoy their tuition. ^^ It is 
admirable to see, that notwithstanding impediments, 
which to most would have been insuperable, Alfred 
persevered in his pursuit of improvement. The desire 
of knowledge, that inborn instinct of the truly great, 
which no gratifications could satiate, no obstacles dis- 
courage, never left him but with life. ^^ If Alfred 

•Aaser, 71. • Ibid. 17. 

"• Ibid. 17. »» Ibid. 17. 



BOOK succeeded in his mental cultivation, who should 
.; despair? 

It has been already hinted, that the Anglo-Saxon 
language had been at this period very little applied 
to the purposes of literature. In their vernacular 
tongue, Cedmon and Aldhelm had sung, but almost 
all the learning of the nation was clothed in the Latin 
phrase. Bede had in this composed his history, and 
his multifarious treatises on chronology, grammar, 
rhetoric, and other subjects of erudition. The other 
lettered monks of that day, also expressed themselves 
in the language, though not with the eloquence of 
Cicero. In the same tongue the polished Alcuin ex- 
pressed all the effusions of his cultivated mind. The 
immortalised classics had not been as yet familiarised 
to our ancestors by translations ; he, therefore, who 
knew not Latin, could not know much. 

From the period of his father's death in 858, to his 
accession in 871, Alfred had no opportunity of pro- 
curing that knowledge which he coveted. Such feel- 
ings as his could not be cherished by elder brothers, 
who were unacquainted with them, or by a nation 
who despised them. When he verged towards man- 
hood he was still unable to obtain instructors, because 
his influence was small, and his patrimony was with- 
held.^^ The hostilities of the Northmen augmented 
every obstacle: on every occasion they burnt the 
books which the Anglo-Saxons had collected, and 
destroyed the men who could use them, in their pro- 
miscuous persecution of the Christian clergy. Their 
presence also compelled Alfred repeatedly into the 
martial field, and from these united causes his ardent 

^ Alfred details the particulars In bis will : he says, that Ethelwulf left his in- 
heritance to Ethelbald, Ethelred, and Alfred, and to the survivor of them ; and 
that on £thelbald*8 death, Ethelred and Alfred gave it to Ethelbert their brother, 
on condition of receiving it again at his decease ; when Ethelred acceded, Alfred 
requested of him, before all the nobles, to divide the inheritance, that Alfred might 
have his share, but Ethelred reftised. Asser, 73. 


thirst for knowledge remained ungratified, until the 
possession of the crown invested him with the wealth 
and influence of the West-Saxon kings. 

But on receiving the crown he exerted himself to 
remove the ignorance of divine and human learning 
which he had been so long lamenting in himself. He 
sent at various intervals to every part, abroad and at 
home, for instructors capable of translating the learned 
languages. Like the sagacious bee, says his honoured 
friend, which, springing in the dawn of summer from 
its beloved cells, wheels its swift flight through the 
trackless air, descends on the shrubs and flowers of 
vegetable nature, selects what it prefers, and brings 
home the grateful load ; so Alfred, directing afar his 
intellectual eye, sought elsewhere for the treasure 
which his own kingdom did not afford.^® 

His first acquisitions were Werfrith, the bishop of Alfred's 
Worcester, a man skilled in the Scriptures; Pleg- SSSiirtOTL 
mund, a Mercian, who was made archbishop of Can- 
terbury, a wise and venerable man; Ethelstan and 
Werwulf, also Mercians, and priests. He invited 
them to his court, and endowed them munificently 
with promotions ; and, by their incessant exertions, 
the studious passion of Alfred was appeased. By day 
and by night, whenever he could create leisure to 
listen, they recited or interpreted to him the books he 
commanded ; he was never without one of them near 
him : and by this indefatigable application, though 
he could not himself understand the learned languages 
as yet, he obtained a general knowledge of all that 
books contained.^* 

The information which the king acquired, rather 
disclosed to him the vast repositories of knowledge, 
of which he was ignorant, than satisfied him with 
its attainment. The more he knew, the more tuition 

» AMcr, pw 46. ■ " IWd. p. 46. 




tion of 

he craved. He sent ambassadors over the sea into 
France, to inquire for teachers there. He obtained 
from that country, Grimbald, the priest and monk, 
who had treated him kindly in his journeys, and 
who is described as a respected man, learned in the 
writings he revered, adorned with every moral ex- 
cellence, and skilled in vocal music. He obtained 
another literary friend, of talents and acquisitions 
much superior, and indeed worthy of Alfred's so- 
ciety. This was Johannes Erigena, or John the 
Irishman, a monk of most penetrating intellect, ac- 
quainted with all the treasures of literature, versed 
in many languages, and accomplished in many other 
arts. By these acquisitions the mind of Alfred was 
greatly expanded and enriched, and he rewarded 
their friendship with princely liberality.^^ 

The celebrity of Asser also reached the king's ear, 
which was open to every rumour of extraordinary 

" I was called by the king," says this plain, but in- 
teresting biographer, " from the western extremities 
of Wales. I accompanied my conductors to Sussex, 
ftnd first saw him in the royal city of Dene. I was 
benignantly received by him. Amongst other con- 
versation, he asked me earnestly to devote myself to 
his service, and to become his companion. He re- 
quested me to leave all my preferments beyond tlie 
Severn, and he promised to compensate them to me 
by greater possessions." ^^ Asser expressed an hesi- 
tation at quitting without necessity, and merely for 
profit, the places where he had been nourished, and 
taken orders. Alfred replied, " If this will not suit 
you, accommodate me with at least half of your 
time. Be with me six months, and pass the rest in 
Wales." Asser declined to engage himself till he had 

'* Asser, pp. 46, 47. 

» Ibid. 47. 


consulted his friends. The king condescended to chap. 

repeat his solicitations, and Asser promised to return ■ r 

to him within half a year ; a day was fixed with a 
pledge for his visit ; and, on the fourth day of their 
interview, Asser quitted him to go home.^^ 

A fever seized the Welshman at Winton, and con- 
tinued to oppress him for a year.^® The king, not 
seeing him at the appointed day, sent letters to in- 
quire into the cause of his tarrying, and to accelerate 
his journey. Asser, unable to stir, wrote to acquaint 
him with the disease ; but, on his recovery, he ad- 
vised with his friends, and, on receiving their assent, 
he attached himself to Alfred for a moiety of every 
year. The clergy of St. David's expected that Alfred's 
friendship for Asser would preserve their patrimony 
from the depredations of Hemeid.^^ " I was honour- 
ably received in the royal city of Leonaford," says 
Asser, " and that time staid eight months in his 
court. I translated and read to him whatever books 
he wished, which were within our reach ; for it was 
his peculiar and perpetual custom, day and night, 
amidst all his other afflictions of mind and body, 
either to read books himself, or to have them read 
to him by others." Asser states the donations with 
which Alfred remunerated his attachment. ^^ No 
eloquence can do more honour to any human cha- 
racter, than this unadorned narration. The con- 
descension, benignity, the desire of improvement, 
and the wise liberality of Alfred are qualities so 

»» Asser, 47, 48. " Ibid. 48. 

* Ibid. 49. Hemeid was one of the Welsh princes contiguous to St DaTid's. 

** Ibid. 50. On the morning of Christmas eve, when Asser was determining 
to visit Wales, the king gave him two writings, containing a list of the things which 
were in the two monasteries at Ambresbury, in Wiltshire, and Banwell, in Somerset. 
In the same day, Alfred gave him those two monasteries, and all that they contained, 
a silk pall, very precious, and as much incense as a strong man could carry ; adding, 
that he did not give him these trifUa as if he was unwilling to give him greater 
things. On Asser*8 next visit, the king gave him Exeter, with all the parishes, 
belonging to it in Saxony and Cornwall, besides innumerable daily gifts of all sorts 
of worldly wealth. He gave him immediate permission to ride to the two monas- 
teries, and then to return home, pp. 50, 51. 




*— % 

and of 

estimable, as to ensure the veneration of every 

The manner of his obtaining the society of Grim- 
bald, was an evidence of the respect and delicacy 
with which he treated those whom he selected for 
his literary companions. He sent an honourable em- 
bassy of bishops, presbyters, deacons, and religious 
laymen, to Fulco, the archbishop of Rheims, within 
whose district Grimbald resided.^^ He accompanied 
his mission with munificent presents ^, and his peti- 
tion was, that Grimbald might be permitted to leave 
his functions in France, and to reside in England. 
The ambassadors engaged for Alfred, that Grimbald 
should be treated with distinguished honour during 
the rest of his life.^^ The archbishop, in his letter 
to Alfred, speaks highly of the king's administra- 
tion of his government^*, and commends the merit 
of Grimbald.^^ Fulco adds, that it was with great 
personal pain that he permitted him to be taken 
from France. The liberality of Alfred overcame his 
reluctance, and Grimbald became a companion of the 
king of Wessex. 

In 887, Alfred obtained the happiness he had long 
coveted, of reading the Latin authors in their ori- 
ginal language. Asser has noted the date of the 
circumstance, and described its occurrence. As the 
monarch and his friend were sitting together, and, as 
usual, discoursing in the royal apartments, it hap- 

'* Fulco*8 letter to Alfred on this sulyect is yet extant It is printed at tbe end 
of Wise's Asser, p. 123-129. He says, pp. 128., "Eum ad voa mittendum cum 
suis electoribus et cum nonnuilus regnl vestri proceribus vel optimatibus tarn Epis- 
copis scilicet, Presbyteris, Diaconibus, quam etiam religiosis Laicis,** &c. In p. 1 26., 
he starts a curious metaphor. He says, " Misistis siquidem nobis licet generosos 
et optimos tamen corporales atque mortales eemeg" Ice This rhetorical metamor- 
photto is pursued for thirteen lines. These noble dogs were to drive away tbe 
Irreligious wolves ; and he says, they came to desire some other dogs, not the dumb 
dogs mentioned by the prophet, but good noisy dogs who could bark heartily, ** Pro 
domino suo magnos latratus fundere." One of these was Grimbald. Fulco may 
have strayed into a joke, but he intended a serious compliment. 

« Wise's Asser, p. 126. » Ibid. p. 128. 

^ Ibid. p. 123. » Ibid. p. 127. 


pened that Asser made a quotation. The king was chap. 
struck with it, and taking from his bosom his little t , > 
book of devotion, he required that it might be in- 
serted in it. Asser found no room in the little manual 
of his piety, and after some hesitation, calculated to 
increase his desire, proposed to put a few other leaves 
together, for the purpose of preserving any passages 
that might please the king. Alfred assented ; the new 
book was made ; the quotation was entered, and soon 
two more, as they occurred in the conversation. The 
king, pleased with the sentiments, began to translate 
them into Saxon. The book became full of diver- 
sified extracts. The first were from the Scriptures, 
others from all subjects. Alfred was delighted with 
his new talent; and the book became a perpetual 
companion, in which he declared he had no small 

To John Erigena, to Grimbald, to Asser, and 
Plegmund, Alfred himself ascribes his acquisition of 
the Latin language.^^ 

His desire to improve his people was so ardent, 
that he had scarcely made the attainment before he 
was active to make it of public utility. He beheld 
his subjects ignorant and barbarous, and he wisely 
judged that he should best amend their condition 
by informing their minds. Let us hear his own 
phrases giving voice and perpetuity to his patriotic 
and intelligent feelings. 

He first recalls to the mind of his correspondent, auwhi's 
that even the Anglo-Saxons had once been more ^ 
learned than he found them. " I wish thee to know 
that it comes very often into my mind what wise 
men there were in England, both laymen and eccle- 

* Asser, 56, 57. In quo non mediocre, sicut tunc aiebat, habebat solatium. 

^ Spe fpe ic hie seteofinobe sc Plesmunbe, miDam aepcebifcepe ; anb aeC 
Afirepie, mionm bifcepe ; anb ufc Erninibolbe, minum nienrepneofte ; anb sr 
Jobanne, roinum Dierr^ppooiTe. Alfred*8 Preface to his Oregor}'*s Pastoral's 
Wise, p. 85. 



BOOK siastics, and how happy those times were to England ! 
J how the kings, who then had the government of the 
people, obeyed God and his messengers ! how they 
both preserved their peace, their customs, and their 
power at home, and increased their territory abroad, 
and how they prospered both in wisdom and in war ! 
The sacred profession was diligent both to teach and 
to learn, and in all the offices which they should 
do to God. Men from abroad sought wisdom and 
learning hither in this country, though we now must 
go out of it to obtain knowledge, if we should wish 
to have it." ^s 

The king contrasts with this account the state of 
England in his time. 

" So clean was it fallen out of England, that there 
are very few on this side of the Humber who under- 
stand to say their prayers in English, or to translate 
any letter from Latin into English ; and I know that 
there were not many beyond the Humber; so few 
were they, that I indeed cannot think of a single 
instance south of the Thames, when I took the 

Recollecting here the success of his own exertions, 
he exclaims, " Thanks be to Almighty God, that we 
have now some teachers in our stalls ! " ^^ 

The father of his people, and the benevolent man, 
appear strikingly in the expressions which he con- 
tinues to use : " Therefore I direct that you do, as I 
believe that you will, that you who have leisure for 
the things of this world, as often as you can, impart 
that wisdom which Gt)d has given you, wherever you 
can impart it. Think what punishments will come 
upon us from this world, if we shall have neither 
loved it ourselves, nor left it to others : we shall have 


" This preface is published by Wise, at the end of his life of Asser, from the 
Bodleian MSS. Jun. 53. 
» Wise, p. 82. 


had only the name of Christians, and very few of 
their proper habits. 

*' When I recollect all this, I also remember how I 
saw, before that every thing was ravaged and burnt, 
that the churches through all the English nation 
stood full of vessels and books, and also of a great 
many of the servants of God." 

This statement alludes to the times in which Bede 
flourished, and when Alcuin was educated ; but after 
that period, the Saxon mind declined from its begin- 
ning literature. Other occupations occurred during 
the interval in which their octarchy was passing into 
a monarchy, from the feuds and wars, and mutations 
of fortune which this political crisis occasioned, which 
the Northmen's invasions increased, and which mono- 
polised their time, passions, and activit)\ 

" They knew very little of the use of their books, 
because they could not understand any thing in them, 
as these were not written in their own language, 
which they spoke. Our ancestors, that held these 
places before, loved wisdom, and through this they 
obtained abundance of it, and left it to us. Here we 
may yet see their treasures, though we are unable to 
explore them ; therefore we have now lost both their 
wealth and their wisdom, because we have not been 
willing with our minds to tread in their steps. **^ 

" When I remembered all this, then I wondered 
greatly that of those good wise men who were for- 
merly in our nation, and who had all learnt fully 
these books, none would translate any part into their 
own language ; but I soon answered myself and said, 
they never thought that men would be so reckless, 
and that learning would be so fallen. They inten- 
tionally omitted it, and wished that there should be 
more wisdom in the land, by many languages being 

» Wise, p. 83. 


BOOK " I then recollected how the law was first revealed 
' in the Hebrew tongue, and that after the Greeks had 
learned it, they turned it all into their own language, 
and also other books; and the Latin men likewise, 
when they had learned it, they, by wise foreigners, 
turned it into their tongue ; and also every other 
Christian nation translated some part." ^^ 

The wise, the active-minded, but unassuming king, 
proceeds modestly to say to tlie bishop he addresses, 
" Therefore I think it better, if you think so, that 
we also translate some books, the most necessary for 
all men to know, into our own language, that we all 
may know them ; and we may do this, with God's 
help, very easily, if we have stillness ; so that all the 
youth that now are in England, who are free men, 
and have so much wealth as that they may satisfy 
themselves, be committed to learning, so that for 
a time they may apply to no other duty till they first 
well know to read English writing. Let them learn 
further the Latin language, they who will further 
learn, and will advance to a higher condition." ^^ 

" When I remembered how the learning of the Latin 
tongue before this was fallen through the English 
nation, and yet many could read English, then began 
I, among much other manifold business of this king- 
dom, to turn into English the book named Pastoralis, 
or the Herdsman's Book, sometimes word for word, 
sometimes sense for sense, so as I had learned of Pleg- 
mund, my archbishop ; and of Asser, my bishop ; of 
Grimbold, my mass priest ; and of John, my mass 
priest ; and as I understood and could most intellec- 
tually express it, I have turned it into English. "^^ 

" Wise, p. 84. " Ibid. p. 85. 

" Ibid. He concludes with " I will send one copy to every bishop*8 seat in my 
kingdom ; and on every one there shall be an cstel that shall be of fifty mancuses ; 
and I entreat In God*8 name, that no man take the sstcl from the book, nor the 
book from the minster. It is uncertain how long there may be learned bisihops 
such as now, thank God, there are every where. Ilence I wish that they should 


What a sublime, yet unostentatious, character ap- chap. 

pears to us in these artless effusions ! A king though 
in nation, age, and education, almost a barbarian 
himself, yet not merely calmly planning to raise his 
people from their ignorance, but amid anxiety, busi- 
ness, and disease, sitting do^vn himself to level the 
obstacles by his own personal labour, and to lead 
them, by his own practice, to the improvements he 

We proceed to notice the translations of Alfred. 
The preceding preface mentions his determination to 
translate some books. The life of St. Neot says, that 
he made many books. ^ Malmsbury affirms, that he 
put into English a great part of the Roman composi- 
tions^^ ; and the more ancient Ethel werd declares, that 
the number of his versions was not known. ^^ The 
first of these, which we shall consider as the most ex- 
pressive exhibition of his own genuine mind, is his 
translation of Boetius. 

always be at these places, unless the bishops should desire to have it with them, or 
to lend it any where, or to write another from it." Ibid. p. 86. What the estel 
meant that was to be so costly is not precisely known. 

** '* eac ir CO pjn:ene cba fe kins ^Irpeb manesa baec rhupb Lobef TSft 
Sebjrhre." Viu Sancti Neotl, p. 147. MSS. Cott Vesp. D. 14. 

" Malmsb. p. 45. 

" Nam ex Latino rhetorico fasmate in propriam verterat linguam volumina, nu- 
mero ignoto, &c. Ethelwerd, 847. 

r 2 


CHAP. n. 

Alfred*^ Tramlaiion of Boetius'^ Consolations of Philosophy, 
— ^ Alfred considered as a Moral Essayist •— His Thoughts^ 
Tales, and Dialogues on various Subjects. 

BOOK BoETros flourished at the close of the fifth century. ^ 
I / > He was master of the offices to Theodoric, king of 
J^JJ^ the Goths, who liad the discernment to appreciate 
Boetius. his intellectual acquisitions^, but who at last destroyed 
him, from a political suspicion, in 524.^ While he 
was in prison on this charge, he wrote his celebrated 
book, de Consolatione Philosophiae, whose object is to 
diminish the influence of riches, dignity, power, plea- 
sure, or glory ; and to prove their inadequacy to pro- 
duce happiness. 

He fancies that philosophy visits him in prison, 
and by expanding these views, reconciles his mind 
to the adversity he was suff^ering. The Author of 
existence is suggested to be the sovereign good*, 
and all that the reasonings of a Cicero could supply 
is adduced to show that worldly prosperity is, of it- 

I See Gibbon on the character, studies, honours, and death of Boetius, vol. iv. 
p. 33 — 39. 

* The letter of Tbeodoric to Boetius, fUll of panegyric on his studies, yet exists 
among the Ep. Cassiod. lib. L ep. 45. p. 33. 

" Fab. Bib. Med. vol. L p. 687. 

* The first and last part of his address to the Supreme, is thus beautifully trans- 
lated by our great moralist and critic : 

O Thou, whose power o*er moving worlds presides ; 
Whose voice created, and whose wisdom guides ; 
On darkling man, in pure efFUlgence, shine. 
And cheer the clouded mind with light divine. 
'Tis thine alone to calm the pious breast. 
With silent confidence and holy rest : 
From thee, great God 1 we spring ; to thee we tend ; 
Path ; motive ; guide ; Original, and £nd. 

BamHUrt No. 7. 



self, as inferior in value and comfort as it is uncer- chap. 
tain in its duration, and capricious in its favours. - ^' 

The book of Boetius is praised by John Erigena, 
whom Alfred admitted into his friendship.^ That the 
king translated it is stated by Ethelwerd ^, who was 
his kinsman, and almost his contemporary ; by Mahns- 
bury ^, and by other chroniclers ® ; and by the Saxon 
preface to the work itself, which reads like the king's 
own language.^ A MS. of the Anglo-Saxon transla- 
tion exists in the Bodleian library, with the metrums 
rendered in prose.^^ Another copy existed in the 
Cotton library with the metrums in Anglo-Saxon 
verse ^^, the preface to which also mentions Alfred as 
the translator. ^^ 

In this translation of Boetius there is a value which Aiftwi 
has been hitherto unnoticed. It is that Alfred has "^^ 
taken occasion to insert in various parts, many of his ««yJ^ 
own thoughts and feelings. He has thus composed 

' Malms, p. 45 and 248. 

■ See his Dlv. Nature, p. 32. 34. 1 13. and 174. Gibbon calls the book of Boe- 
tius ** a golden volume, not unworthy of the leisure of Plato, or Tully.'* Hist. 
I>ecl. rol. It. p. 38. 

• EtheL Hist p. 847. 

■ Henry de Silgrave ; MSS. Cott Cleop. A. xlL p. 15. and Joh. Bever, MSS. 
Hari 641. p. 21. 

* Its literal translation is : — 

** Alfred, king, was the translator of this book ; and from booklatin Into English 
turned it, as it now is done. Awhile he put down word for word : awhile sense 
for sense, so as he the roost manifestly and intellectually might explain it, for the 
various and manifold worldly occupations that oft, both in mind and in body, 
busied him. These occupations are very difficult for us to number, which in his 
days came on this kingdom which he had undertaken. He learned this book, and 
turned it firom Latin to the English phrase, and made it again into song, so as it is 
now done. 

** And now may it be, and for God's name let him beseech every one of those 
that desire to read this book, that they pray for him, and do not blame him if they 
should more rightly understand it than he could ; because that every man should, 
according to the condition of his understanding, and (h>m his leisure, speak 
what he speaks, and do that which he doeth.*' See the original in Rawllnson's 

>* See Wanley's CataL p. 64. 85. From this Rawlinson published his printed 

I* It was MS. Otho. A. 6, when it was collated by Rawlinson. It has been since 
burnt Wanley thought this MS. was one written in Alfred's life-time. The 
versification of the metrums seems to be what the prose preface alludes to — " and 
made it again into song.'* The plan of Boetius is to add to each division of his 
prose dialogue a metrum on the same sul^ect in Latin verse. 

^ Sec BawlinsoD. 

G 3 


several little moral essays, and by them has trans- 
mitted himself to posterity in his own words and 

It is highly interesting, at the distance of nearly 
one thousand years, to hear, as it were, our most 
revered sovereign speaking to us in his own language, 
on some of the most important topics of human life. 
Right feeling and true wisdom appear in all these ef- 
fusions, and entitle him to be deemed the first moral 
essayist of our island. As this is new ground, which 
has been hitherto unexplored, we will extract and 
translate literally several of the passages which Alfred 
has added to his version. 
Hif fteiing Boetius had made philosophy call upon him to re- 
^wjMiuhiti jjjgjjjtjgp that, amidst his misfortunes, he had comfort 

yet left him — a celebrated father-in-law, his wife, 
and children. 

Alfred, after adding, " It is untrue, as thou thinkest, 
that thou art unhappy," proceeds to enlarge on the 
short description of Boetius with such emphatic 
repetition, that it may be read as his own feeling of 
the value of an affectionate wife. 

The passages in italics are the additions of Alfred: — 

" LivetU not thy wife also! — She is exceedingly prudent, and 
very modest. She has excelled all other women in purity. I may, 
in a few words, express all her merit: this is, that in all her 
manners she is like her father. She lives now for thee : thee alone. 
Hence she loves nought else but thee. She has enough of every 
good in this present life, but she has despised it all for thee alone. 
She has shunned it all because only she has not thee also. This 
ofie thing is now wanting to her. Thine absence makes her think 
that all which she possesses is nothing. Hence for thy love she is 
wasting, and full nigh dead with tears and sorrow." ^^ 

Alfred dwells on the " vivit tibi " of Boetius with 
manifest delight, and dilates upon the thought as if 
with fond recollections of the conduct of his own wife, 
who shared his adversity with him. 

» Alfred's Boet p. 17. BKntl £<L Boet lib. li. proM 4. 


Congenial with this subject is the narration which chap. 
he has given of Orpheus and Eurydice. Boetius, in - 

a metrum of Latin verses, has in a more general 
manner described the incident. But Alfred tells the 
story so completely in his own way, and with so 
many of his own little touches and additions, as to 
make his account an original tale: — 

" It happened formerly, that there was a harper in that nation nis ttory of 
which is called Thracia. It was a country in Greece. This harper Orpheog 
was incomprehensibly good. His name was Orpheus: he had an andEury- 
incomparable wife : she was called Eurydice. ^^' 

" Men then began to say of that harper, that he could harp so, 
that the woods danced, and the stones moved, from its sound. The 
wild deer would run to him, and stand as if they were tame ; so 
still, that though men or hounds came against them, they would 
not shun them. 

" They mention also that this harper's wife died, and her soul 
was led into hell. Then the harper became very sorry, so that he 
could not be among other men. But he withdrew to the woods, 
and sat upon the mountains both day and night, and wept and 
harped. Then the woods trembled, and the rivers stopped, and 
no hart shunned the linn ; no hare the hound. No cattle knew 
any mistrust or fear of others, from the power of his songs. 

*' Then the harper thought tliat nothing pleased him in this 
world. Then he thought that he would seek the gates of hell, and 
begin to soothe with his harp, and pray that they would give him 
his wife again. 

" When he came there where he should come, that hell-hound, 
whose name was Cerverus, attacked him. He had three heads, 
but he began to sport with his tail, and to play with him for his 
harping. There was also there a very terrible gate-warder ; his 
name should be Caron ; he had also three hends, and he was very 
fierce. Then began the harper to supplicate him for his protection 
while he was there, and that he should be brought out from thence 
sound. Caron promised him this, because he was pleased with 
his uncommon song. 

" Then he went on further, till he met the grim goddesses that 
the multitude called Parcas. They say that they provide honour 
to no men, but punish every man according to his deserts, and that 
they govern every man's fortune. 

" Then he began to entreat their mercy, and they began to weep 
with him. Then he went further, and all the citizens of hell ran 
against him, and led him to their king. And all began to talk 
with him, and to ask what he prayed. 

** The restless wheel that Ixion, the king of Larista, was 
bound to for his guilt, stood still for his harping ; Tantalus, the 
king that in this world was immoderately covetous, and whom the 

c 4 



BOOK same evil passion followed, his covetousness was stayed ; and the 
V. vulture forbore to tear the liver of Titius, the king that before was 
* ' thus punished ; and all hell's citizens rested from their torments 
while he harped before the king. 

" When he had long and long harped, the king of the citizens of 
hell called him and said, * Let us give this slave his wife, for he 
hath earned her by his harping. Bid him, then, that he may well 
know, that he must never look back after he is gone from hence;' 
and he said, * If he look back, he shall lose this woman.' 

" But men can with great difficulty forbid love. Wel-a-way ! 
What ! Orpheus then led his wife with him, till he came to the 
boundary of light and darkness, then his wife went after him : then 
he came forth into the light: then he looked back towards the 
woman, and she died away from him."^^ 

In another part we have his sentiments on riches. 
He has added to the reflections of Boetius the several 
following passages : 

Boetius has merely said — 

Hlg " Are riches precious in their own nature, or in yours ? Which 

thoughts on of them do you prefer, gold or accumulated money ? But these 

wfilthand shine more by being poured out than by being heaped up; for 

Ubenlity. avarice makes us always odious, but liberality illustrious." i* 

On this text Alfred has expatiated into these 
effusions : — 

" Tell me now whether thy riches, that in thine own thought 
are so precious, be so from their own nature. But yet, I tell thee 
that what is so of its own nature, is not so from thee. If then of 

^* P. 100. I have made the translation strictly literal ; aiid will add as literal ti 
one of the original of Boetius, that the reader may observe for himself what Alfred 
has made his own. ** Formerly the Thracian poet, mourning the death of his wife, 
afterwards compelled, by his plaintive measures, the woods to run, and the move- 
able rivers to stand : the hind joined her intrepid side to the cruel lion's ; nor did 
the hare fear the visible dog, made placid by the song. When the interior fervour 
of his bosom burnt more violent, those strains which subdued all could not soothe 
their master. Complaining of the cruel deities, he went to the infernal regions. 
There attempering his bland lays to the sounding strings, whatever he had imbibed 
flrom the chief fountains of the goddess mother ; what impotent grief gave ; what love, 
groaning In grief, wept, he expressed ; and moving Tanarus, solicited with a sweet 
prayer the lords of the shades. Caught by the new song, the threefold porter was 
stupifled. The guilty, whom the goddesses, avengers of crimes, agitate with fear, 
now sorrowful, dissolve in tears. The swift wheel revolves not the head of Ixion ; 
and Tantalus, perishing with thirst, despises the long streams. The vulture, satis- 
fled with the harmony, drew not the liver of Titius. At length, * We are con- 
quered ! ' exclaims the pitying arbiter of the shades : * Let us give the roan his 
companion, his wife, bought by his song.' But a law restricted the gift, that while 
he should leave Tartarus he should not bend back his eyes. Who shall give a law 
to lovers ? Love is a greater law to Itself. Alas I near the borders of night, 
Orpheus saw, lost, and killed his Eurydice.** Lib. \\l met 12. 

>* Boet lib. 11 prosa 6. 


its own nature it be so, and not of thine, why art thou then ever CHAP, 
the better for its good ? IL 

" Tell me now which of these thou thinkest the most dear. Is ' 
it gold ? I know that gold avails something. But though it now 
be gold, and dear to us, yet he will be more renowned, and more 
beloved, who gives it, than he who gathereth it, or plunders it 
from others. So riches are more reputable and estimable when 
men give them, than they are when men gather and hold them. 

" Hence covetousness maketh the avaricious odious both to God 
and man ; while bounty maketh us always pleasing and famous, 
and worthy both to God and to men who love it 

" Now as property may then belong both to those who give it 
and to those who take it away, it is therefore always better and 
more valuable when given than when held." i® 

On this subject a passage may be read as an in- 
stance of the intelligent ease and force, with which the 
king partly translates, and partly imitates his author 
when he means to render him exactly. 

Boetius says — 

" Your riches, unless broken into pieces, cannot pass to many, 
and when this is done they must make those poor whom they quit. 
O narrow and impotent riches, which cannot be had entire by 
many, and yet cannot come to each without the poverty of the 

Alfred's version is : — 

" Though thou shouldest divide them as small as dust, yet thou 
couldst not make all men to possess them equally ; and when thou 
hadst divided them all, thou wouldest then be poor thyself. So 
worthy of a man are the riches of this world ! No man may fully 
have them. They can make no man happy except they make 
others poor." 

Alfred has taken occasion to insert the following onagood 
thoughts from his own mind, on reputation, obviously 
expressing his own feelings of the value of that bless- 
ing which has accompanied his memory : — 

'* This is clear enough, that a good word and good fame are better 
and more precious to every man than any riches. The word filleth 
the ears of all who hear it ; and it thrives not the less with those 
who speak it. It openeth the vacancy of tlie heart : it pierces 
through other hearts that are locked up and in its progress among 
them it is never diminished. No one can slay it with a sword, nor 
bind it with a rope, nor ever kill it." ^^ 

M Alfred's Boet. p. 23, 24. >' Alfired, p. 24. 





On the 
▼slue of 

On the ad- 
the rich. 

He has so expanded the thought of Boetius on the 
value of jewels, with turns and feelings of his own, 
and expressed them with so much more energy than 
his author, as to be in a great measure original even 
where he copies : — 

" Why should the beauty of gems draw your eyes to them to 
wonder at them, as I know they do ? What is then the nobility 
of that beauty which is in gems ? It is theirs ; not yours. At 
this I am most exceedingly astonished, why you should think this 
irrational, created good, better than your own excellence : why 
should you so exceedingly admire these gems, or any of those 
dead-like things that have not reason ; because they can, by no 
right, deserve that you should wonder at them. Though they be 
God's creatures, they are not to be measured with you, because 
one of two things occurs ; either they are not good for you them- 
selves, or but for a little good compared with you. We too 
MUCH UNDERVALUE OURSELVES whcu wc lovc that which IS inferior 
to us, and in our power, more than ourselves, or the Lord that has 
made us and given us all these goods.''^^ 

Alfred's translation of the passages on the other 
advantages possessed by the rich is also so animated, 
that we quote it as a specimen of his own genuine 
feelings on the subject, with a version of the Latin ^^, 
that the reader may make his own comparison : — 

" * Dost thou like fair lands?' 

" Then Mind answered to Reason, and said — 

" * Why should I not like fair lands ? How ! Is not that the 
fairest part of Grod's creation? Full oft we rejoice at the mild 
sea, and also admire the beauty of the sun^ and the moon, and of 
all the stars.' 

<' Then answered Wisdom and Reason to the Mind, and thus 
said : — 

" * How belongeth heaven's fairness to thee ? Durst thou glory 

" Alfred, p. 24. The literal English of Boetius is : — *' Does the brightness of 
gems attract your eyes ? But the chief part of the splendour with them is the light 
itself of the jewels, not of the men ; which indeed I wonder that any should so 
vehemently admire ; for what is there in that which wants the motion of the soul, 
and the combination of limbs ; which can seem by right to be beautiful to animate 
and rational nature ? Although they are the works of the Creator, and by this 
distinction attract something of the final beauty, yet placed below your excellence, 
they by no means deserve your admiration.*' Lib. ii. pr. 5. 

"• The passage in Boetius is : — " Does the beauty of the fields delight you ? — 
Why not ? It is a fair portion of the fairest work. So sometimes we delight in 
the fkce of the serene sea. So we admire the sky, the stars, the sun, and the moon. 
But do any of these touch you ? Do you dare to boast of the splendour of any 
iuch ? ** Boet lib. 11. pr. 5. 


that its beautj is thine ? It is not, it is not How I Knowest CHAP, 
thou not that thou madest none of them. If thou wilt glorj, glorj n. 
in God. ' •— ^ 

" ' Whether now dost thou rejoice in the fairer blossoms of 
Easter, as if thou hadst made them^; canst thou now make any 
8uch ? or hast thou made them ? Not so, not so. Do not thou 
thus. Is it now from thy power that the harvest is so rich in 
fruits ? How ? Do I not know that this is not in thj power ? 
Why art thou then inflamed with such an idle joy ? or why lovest 
thou strange goods so immeasurably as if they now had been thine 

'* < Thinkest thou that fortune may do for thee, that those things 
be thine own, which of their own nature are made foreign to thee? 
Not so, not so. It is not natural to thee that thou should possess 
them ; nor does it belong to them that they should follow thee. 
But the heavenly things, they are natural to thee: not these earth- 
like ones. 

" * The earthly fruits are made for animals to subsist on ^^ ; and 
the riches of the world are made to deceive those men that are like 
animals ; that are unrighteous and insatiable. To these they also 
oftenest come. 

" * If thou wilt then have this moderation, and wilt know what 
necessity requires ; this is, that meat and drink, and clothes, and 
tools for such craft as thou knowest nre natural to thee, and are 
what it is right for thee to have. What advantage is it to thee 
that thou should desire these temporal riches above measure, when 
they can neither help thee nor themselves. With very little of 
them hath nature enough : with so much she has enough, as we 
before mentioned. If thou usest more of them, one of two things 
happens : either they hurt thee ; or they are unpleasant. Incon- 
venient or dangerous is all that thou now doest beyond moderation. 
If thou eatest now, or drinkest immoderately ; or hast more clothes 
on than thou needest, the excess becomes to thee either sorrow or 
nauseous, or unsuitable or dangerous. 

" * If thou thinkest that extraordinary apparel be any honour 22, 
then I assert the honour to belong to the workman who wrought 
it, and not to thee. The workman is Grod, whose skill I praise in 

* " Are you yourself distinguished by the vernal flowers ? Or does your abund- 
ance swell in the summer fruits ? Why are you carried away by empty joys ? 
Why do you embrace extenial goods for your own ? Will fortune make those things 
to be yours which by the nature of things she has made foreign to you ? ** Boet 
lib. 11. pr. 5. 

** " The fruits of the earth indeed are, without doubt, provided for the nourish- 
ment of animals. But if you wish to supply your wants by what is sufficient for 
nature, there is no reason that you should seek the affluence of fortune, for nature 
Is contented with very little ; whom if you urge into satiety by superfluities, what 
you shall pour in becomes unpleasant and hurtful.** Boet lib. 11. pr. 5. 

^ ** Do you think it beautiful to shine in various garments ? But if their ap- 
pearance be agreeable to look at, I would admire either the nature of the materials, 
or the Ingenuity of the artificer.*' Ibid. 


BOOK ^* * Thinkest thou that a great company of thy servantfl will 

y. make thee happy ?^ Not so, not so. But if they be evil, then 
are they more dangerous to thee : and more troublesome, if bound 
to you, than if you had them not, because evil thegns will always 
be their lord's enemies. If they be good and faithful to their lord , 
and not of double mind — How! Is not this their virtue? It is 
not thine. How canst thou then possess their virtue? If thou 
now gloriest in this — How! Dost thou not glory in their merit? 
It is not thine.' " 

Alfred has added the following remarks of his own 
on the intrinsic value of worldly advantages : — 

<* Now then, now, every creature shunneth that which is con- 
trary to it, and toils very diligently that it be removed from him. 
But what two are more contrary between themselves than good 
and evil ? They never will be harmonious together. 

*' By this thou mayest understand, that if the prosperities of this 
present life, through themselves, possessed power of themselves, 
and were good from their own nature; they would then always 
cleave to those who work with them good, and not evil. 

** But there, where they be a good, then are they good through 
the goodness of the good man that doeth good with them ; and he 
is good through Grod. If then a bad man hath them, then are they 
evil through the badness of that man who doeth evil with them ; 
and through the devil."** 

He has followed up these remarks by adding to 
Boetius's metrum on Nero, the following observ- 
ations : — 

*' What cruelties ; what adulteries ; and what crimes ; and what 
impiety, that unrighteous Caesar Nero committed : 

'^ He commanded at some time that all Rome city should be 
burnt after the example, formerly, when Troy's city burnt. It 
pleased him also to see how it burnt, and how long, and how light, 
compared with that other. 

" Thinkest now that the Divine power could not have removed 
the dominion from this unrighteous Ca»ar, and have restrained 
him from that evil if he would ? Yes. Oh yes ! I know that he 
might, if he had willed. Oh ! how heavy a yoke he slipped on all 
that in his times were living on the earth, and how oft his sword 
was sullied with guiltless blood ! How ! Was it not there clear 
enough that power, of its own worth, is not good, when he is not 
good to whom it comes ?''^ 

" ** But will a long train of servantu make you happy ? who, if they be vicious 
in morals, are the pcmicioui burthen of a house, and grievously an enemy to their 
lord himself^ If honest, how can another's probity be reckoned among your wealth ? '* 

•« AlAned, p. 84, 36. » AMW, p. 36. 


He has enlarged on the remark of Boetius on chap. 


power, so as to exhibit his own sentiments in addi- - 
tion to those of his original. 
Boetius had only said — 

" If ever, which is very rare, honours are conferred on the up- 
right, what is pleasing in them but the integrity of those who use 
them ? Thus honour accrues not to the virtues from the dignity, 
but the dignity from the virtues." *® 

Alfred, a king, expands this to insert his own 
feelings on this subject : — 

** If then it should ever happen, as it very seldom happens, that On power, 
power and dignity come to good men, and to wise ones, what is 
there then worthy of pleasing but the goodness and dignity of 
these persons : of the good king, not of the power. Hence power 
is never a good unless he be good that has it ; and that is the good 
of the man, not of the power. If power be goodness, why then is 
it that no roan by his dominion can come to the virtues, and to 
merit ; but by his virtues and merit he comes to dominion and 
power. Thus no man is better for bis power : but if he be good, 
it is from his virtues that he is good. From his virtues he becomes 
worthy of power, if he be worthy of it.** ^ 

He adds to this, entirely his own, and as if he in- 
tended it to be the annunciation to his people of his 
own principle of government : — 

*' Learn therefore wisdom, and when ye have learned it, do not 
neglect it. I tell you then, without any doubt, that by that you 
may come to power, though you should not desire the power. You 
need not be solicitous about power, nor strive after it. If you be 
wise and good, it will follow you, though you should not wish 

M 28 

Connected with the subject of power, Alfred has in 
another place inserted these passages of his own : — 

" * If thou now saw some very wise man that had very good 
qualiti&s but was nevertheless very poor, and very unhappy, 
whether wouldst thou say that he was unworthy of power and 
dignity ? * 

** Then answered Boetius and said — * Not so« Oh, not so. If 
I found him such, I would never say that he was unworthy of 
power and dignity, for me thinketh that he would be worthy of 
every honour that is in this world.* ** ^ 

" Boet lib. li. pr. 6. ^ Alfred, p. 31. 

« Alfred, p. 31, 32. » Alfred, p. 69, 60. 


BOOK With the same freedom he amplifies another idea 
• / ' of Boetius, and applies it to express hb own high 
estimate of the human mind. 
His author says — 

** If jou saw among mice, one claiming a right to himself, and 
power over the rest, to what a horse-laugh would you be moved ? 
Bat if 70U look at the bodj, what can jou find weaker than man, 
whom a bite of his flesh or of something within secretlj creeping 
destroys ? " *> 

Alfred's paraphrase : — 

On tlM ** If you now saw a mouse that was lord over another mouse 

and established laws for him, and compelled him to pay taxes, how 
wonderlike you would think it ! What derision you would have of 
this ; and to how much laughter would you not be excited. How 
much more then would it be so to compare the body of man with 
the mind, than the mouse with the man ? You may easily conceive 
it If you will diligently inquire about it, and investigate, you 
will find that no creature's body is tenderer than that of man's. 
The least fly may hurt it, and the gnats with their little stings may 
injure it; and also the small worms that crawl within and without 
him, even sometimes nearly kill him. Indeed the little fleas may 
sometimes destroy him. Every living thing may hurt him, either 
inside or out." *' 

He then adds, partly translating and partly imi- 
tating Boetius : — 

" But where can a man hurt another except in his body, or in 
that wealth which we call happiness? No one can injure the 
reasoning mind, nor make it that it should not be what it is." ^^ 

We now come to a noble effusion of Alfred's mind 
and heart, on his own power and government. 
Boetius had said — 

" You know that the ambition of mortal things governed us but 
little, but we desired materials for acting, that virtue might not 
grow old in silence." 

On these few words Alfred has thus expatiated, to 
express from himself, and on his own situation, his 
views and feelings as a king, and his principles of 
conduct. We cannot avoid remembering, on reading 

» Boot. lib. II. pr. fi. « Alfired, p. 32. 

« Ibid. 



this, that he hesitated about accepting the crown at chap. 
his accession. He seems to allude to this circum- ■ 
stance. — 

" O Reason ! thou knowest that covetousness and the possession on Us 
of this earthly power, I did not well like, nor strongly desired at prtndplet 
all this earthly kingdom, except — Oh ! I desired materials for the ^ goveni- 
work that I was commanded to do. This was that I might un- ™*°** 
fractiously and becomingly steer and rule the power that was com- 
mitted to me — What ! thou knowest that no man may know any 
craft nor rule, or steer any power without tools and materials. 
There are materials for every craft, without which a man cannot 
work in that craft. 

'* These are the materials of a king's work, and his tools to 
govern with ; that he have his land fully peopled ; that he should 
have prayer-men, and army-men, and work-men. What I thou 
knowest that without these tools no king may show his skill. 

'* These are also his materials, that with these tools he should 
have provision for these three classes ; and their provision then is, 
land to inhabit, and gifts, and weapons, and meat, and ale, and 
clothes, and what else that these three classes need ; nor can he 
without these keep his tools ; nor without these tools can he work 
any of those things that it is commanded to him to do. 

'* For this purpose I desired materials to govern that power with, 
that my skill and power might not be given up and concealed. 
But every virtue and every power will soon become oldened and 
silenced if they be without wisdom. Therefore no man can bring 
forth any virtue without wisdom ; hence whatsoever is done 
through folly, man can never make that to be virtue. 

" This I can now most truly say, that I have desired to live 

WORKS." ^ 

It may amuse us to read Alfred's picture of the 
Golden Age, in which he has added some marking 
circumstances from his own sentiments to his author's 

" Oh, how happy was the first age of this world, when every Alfred on 

man thought he had enough in the fruits of the earth ! ^ There ^* golden 


» Alfred, p. 36, 37. 

'* Boetius*s lines are : ** Too happy was the prior age, contented with their faith- 
ful ploughs, nor lost in sluggish luxury : it was accustomed to end its late fasts 
with the ready acorn ; nor knew how to confuse the present of Bacchus with liquid 
honey ; nor to mingle the bright fleece of the Seres with the Tyrian poison. The 
grass gave them healthful slumbers. The gliding river their drink. The loftiest 
pines their shades. They did not yet cut the depths of the sea ; nor did the 
stranger see new shores with bis merchandise collected firom every side. The cruel 






on glory. 

were no rich homes, nor varioas sweet dainties, nor drinks. Thej 
required no expensive garments, because there were none then ; 
they saw no such things, nor heard of them. They cared not for 
luxury ; but they lived naturally and temperately. They always 
ate but once a day, and that was in the evening. They ate the 
fruits of trees and herbs. They drank no pure wine. They knew 
not to mix liquor with their honey. They required not silken 
cloathing with varied colours. They always slept out under the 
shade of trees. The water of the clear springs they drank. They 
saw no merchant from island or shore, nor did any one hear of 
ship-armies, nor speak of battle, nor was the earth yet stained with 
the blood of slain men, nor were men then wounded, nor did they 
behold evil*willing men, nor had they any dignities, nor did men 
love them. Oh, that our times now might be such ! but now 
man's rapacity is as burning as flame, in that hell which is in the 
mount called ^tna, in the island named Sicilia. That mountain 
is always burning with sulphur, and it consumes all the places 
near and about it. Oh ! the first covetous man was he that the 
earliest began to delve the earth after gold, and after gems ; and 
found those dangerous valuables which before were hidden and 
covered by the earth." ^ 

This sentence of Boetius — 

" There is one thing which can seduce even minds excellent in 
their nature, but not yet brought to the full perfection of their 
virtues, that is the desire of glory, and the fame of the greatest 
merit towards the state ; consider how slender and light a thing 
this is." ^ 

Alfred has thus amplified : — 

" Oh, mind ! one ! oh ! one evil is very much to be shunned. 
This is that which very unceasingly and very heavily deceiveth 
the mind of all those men who in their nature are select, and yet 
be not come to the roof of their full-framed virtues. This is then 
the desire of false glory, and of unrighteous power, and of im- 
moderate fame of good works above all people ; for many men 
desire power that they may have a good fame, though they be un- 
worthy of it ; and even the worst of all desire the same. But ho 
that will wisely and diligently seek after this fame, let him very 
truly perceive how little it is, and how slight, and how tender, 
and how distinct from every good ! " ^7 

trumpets were silent ; nor did the effused blood with bitter hatred tinge horrid 
arms. Why should an ancient fury move any army against enemies, when no cruel 
wounds, and no rewards of blood were seen? I wish our times could return to the 
ancient manners. But the raging love of possessing bums fiercer than the fires of 
^tna. Alas ! who was he that first dug up the weight of the covered gold and 
gems, desiring to be hid, — those precious dangers ? " Boet lib. U. met 6. 

" Alf^^. p. 29, 30. « Boetius, lib. li. pr. 7. 

" AlfVed, p. 37, 38. 


Boetius, after remarking, that but a fourth part of chap. 
the earth was inhabited, continues : — 

** And that many nations, differing in language, manners, and 
all the habits of life, inhabit this small inclosurc, which, from the 
difficultj of the journey^ as well as from the diversity of their 
speech, and want of commerce, the fame not only of each man, 
but even of cities, cannot reach." ^* 

Alfred has thus enlarged upon this sentiment, with 
the insertion of more knowledge as to the number of 
the languages of the world. 

" Why desire ye, then, so immoderately, that you should spread 
your name over the tenth part ? for with the sea, with fens, and 
with all else, there is not more. 

" Bethink ye, also, that in this little park many nations dwell, 
and various ones ; and very unlike, both in speech and customs, 
and in all their manners, are all these nations, that you now so 
immoderately desire that you should spread your name over. This 
you can never do ; because their speech is divided into two and 
seventy languages, and each of these is divided among many na- 
tions. They are distinguislied and separated by sea, and by woods, 
and by mountains, and by fens, and by many and various wastes 
and unfrequented lands, so that merchants indeed do not go to 

" But how can then the name of any powerful man come there 
separately, when they do not indeed hear there the name of his 
city, nor of the people where his home is fixed. This I know, 
with what folly you are yearning, when you would extend your 
name over the whole earth. This you can never do, nor indeed 
never nearly so."'^ 

Boetius having said, from Cicero, that the Roman 
name had not passed Mount Caucasus, Alfred, ex- 
hibiting his own study of geography, adds : — 

" Nor among the Scythians who dwell on the other side of 
these mountains : where they had not heard of the names of the 
cities nor of the people of Rome.*® — 

** No man hath the like praise in every land ; because that 
which they do not like in some lands, they like in others. — 

" Writers, from their negligence and from carelessness, have 
left unwritten the manners and deeds of those men, who, in their 
days, were the worthiest and most illustrious." ^^ 

Boetius having said — 

" Boetius, lib. it pr. 7. » Alfred, p. 39. 

«• Ibid. p. 39. « Ibid. p. 4a 



BOOK '^ Wliat is there that attaches from fame to the eminent men 

^* who seek glory by virtue, after the dissolution of their body ? ** 

Alfred thus dilates the thought : — 

" What then has it profited the best men that have been before 
us, that they so very much desired this idle glory, and this fame 
after their death : or what will it profit those who now exist! 

" There is more need to every man that he should desire good 
qualities than false fame. What will he have from that fame, 
after the separation of the body and the soul. How ! do we not 
know, that all men die bodily, and yet their soul will be living. 
But the soul departs very free-like to Heaven. Then the mind 
will itself be a witness of Grod's will." *^ 

Boetius in the accompanying metrum had impres- 
sively sung : — 

" Why do the proud strive to raise their necks from this mortal 
yoke in vain ! Though their diffused fame, pervading many people, 
should be expressed in their languages, and the great family should 
shine with illustrious titles, death spurns the lofty glory; alike 
involves the high and humble head, and equals the lowest with the 
greatest. Where now lie the bones of the faithful Fabricius, or 
Brutus, or the rigid Cato ? "** 

Alfred has thus expanded, and added to these 
suggestions, with a little error as to Brutus and 
Cassius : — 

" Oh, ye proud ! why do you desire to put this death-like yoke 
upon your neck ? or, why regard such idle toil, to spread your 
name among so many people ? 

" Though it now should happen that the uttermost nations 
should upheave your name, and celebrate you in many countries, 
and though any one should increase his birth with much nobility, 
and flourish in all wealth, and in all honours, yet death careth not 
for such : but he despiseth the noble, and devoureth alike the rich 
and the poor, and thus equals the powerful with the low. 

" Where are now the illustrious and the wise Goldsmith's bones, 
those of Weland ? I call him the wise man, because the skilful can 
never lose his skill ; nor can men take it away from him easier 
than they can turn the sun from his place. 

" Where are now the bones of Weland, or who knows now where 
they were ? or, where is now the illustrious and recorded Roman 
citizen, the heretoga, that was called Brutus, his other name 
Cassius ? or, the wise and steadfast Cato ? he was also a Koman 

« BoeUus, lib. ii. pr. 2. met 7. « Alfred, p. 42. 

*• Boetius, lib. IL met 7. 


heretoga : he was openly a philosopher. How ! did they not chap. 
anciently die, and no man knoweth where they now are ? " ** ii. 

He exclaims from himself in another part : — 

" Oh, glory of this world ! why do silly men with a false voice 
call thee glory ? Now thou art not so ; for more men have much 
pomp, and much glory, and much worship, from the opinion of 
foolish people, than they have from their own works." ^® 

Alfred adds on adverse fortune : — 

" I dread it not myself ; for it often happens, that deceitful On adver- 
fortune can neither give man any help, nor take any away.*^ — ■^^y* 
Adverse fortune is the true happiness, though one does not think 
so; for it is to be depended upon, and always promises what is 
true." « 

Boetius remarks : — 

*' Departing fortune takes away her own creatures and leaves On friend- 
thine. For how much would you, when entire, and as you seemed sWp. 
to yourself, fortunate, have bought this ? Cease now to seek after 
your lost wealth; you have found friends, which are the most 
precious kind of wealth." *^ 

Alfred reiterates the thought ; and, by the em- 
phasis of his repetitions, displays strongly his own 
sensibility, and probably his own experience of the 
diflferent value of false and real friends : — 

*^ But the false riches, when they depart from thee, they take 
away their men with them, and leave thy few true ones with thee. 
How woulde^t thou now have bought this, when thou wert the 
most happy, and thought that thy fortune went most to thy will ? 
With how much property wouldest thou have purchased this, that 
thou mightest manifestly know thy friends from thine enemies ? I 
know, that with great property, thou wouldest have jbought this, 
that thou mightest know to discriminate them well. Although 
thou thinkest that thou hast now lost a precious property, yet thou 
hast bought with it one much more valuable. These are true 
friends. These thou mayest now know, and thou perceivest what 
thou hast of them. This is of all things the dearest possession." ^ 

In another part he takes occasion to add to his 
original the same feelings : — 

" True friends ! I say then, that this is the most precious of all 

• Alfred, p. 42, 43. *■ Ibid. p. 66. 

*^ Ibid. p. 43. *■ Ibid. p. 43, 44. 

* Boetius, lib. ii pr. 2. met 8. ^ Alfired, p. 45. 

D 2 


BOOK the riches of the world. They are not even to be reckoned among 
V. the goods of the world, but as divine ones ; because false fortune 

' can neither bring them nor take them away. 

" Nature attracts and limes friends together with inseparable 
love. But with the riches of this world, and by our present pros- 
perity, men oftener make an enemy than a friend.** 

" The friends that loved him before for his wealth, they depart 
away with that wealth, and then become enemies ; but the few 
that loved him from affection, and with truth, they would love him 
still, though he were needy. They would remain with him." ** 

Alfred, from the text of the eighth metre of Boe- 
tius, has taken occasion to enlarge upon it, to express 
his philosophical views of the divine government of 
nature : — 

His ideas of << One Creator is beyond any doubt ; and he is also the Governor 
the system of heaven, and earth, and of all creatures visible and invisible. 
of nature. iji|^jg jg q^^ Almighty. All things serve Him that serve thee ; 
both those that know thee and those that do not know thee ; both 
they which understand that they serve Him, and they which do 
not perceive it. The same has appointed unchangeable laws and 
customs, and also a natural harmony among all His creatures, that 
they should now stand in the world as He hath willed, and as long 
as He wills. 

" The motions of all active creatures cannot be stilled, nor even 
altered from their course, and from the arrangement which is 
provided for them. But He hath power over all His creatures ; 
and, as with his bridle, confines, restrains, and admonishes them ; 
so that they can neither be still, nor more strongly stir, than the 
space of His ruling reins permits. The Almighty God hath so 
coerced all his creatures with his dominion, that each of them 
striveth against the other ; and yet is so wreathed with it, that 
they may not slide away from each other, but are turned again to 
that same course that they ran before. Thus will it be again 
renewed. Thus he varies it, that although the elements of a con- 
trary kind contend betwixt themselves, yet they also hold a firm 
peace together. Thus do fire and water, now, and sea and earth, 
and many other substances. They will always be as discordant 
among themselves, as they are now ; and yet they are so har- 
monised, that they can not only be companions, but this further 
happens, that indeed none can exist without the rest. The one 
contrariety for ever restrains the other contrariety. 

*' So the Almighty God has most wisely and pertinently es- 
tablished the successive changes of all things. Thus now spring 
and harvest. In spring things grow. In harvest they become 
yellow. Again, summer and winter. In summer it is warm, and 
in winter cold. So the sun bringeth light days, and the moon 

»' Alfred, p. 61. m Ibid. p. 88. 


enlightens the night through the same Deity's might. So the CllAP. 
same Power admonishes^the sea, that it must not overstep the !'• 
threshold of the earth. But he hath appointed its boundaries that * 
it may not extend its limits over the quiet earth. 

" By the same government is the like interchange directed of 
the flood and the ebb. He permits this appointment to stand as 
long as he wills it. But then if ever he should let go the reins of 
those bridles with which he has now restrained his creations, tho 
contrariety of which we have before spoken, if he were to allow it 
to escape, would destroy the peace that he now maintains. Each 
of them would contend with the other after his own will« and lose 
their combination, and destroy all this world, and bring them- 
selves to nothing. The same Grod combines people in friendship 
together, and associates their families with purer love. He unites 
friends and companions, so that they trulj retain their peace and 
attachment. How happy would mankind be from this, if their 
minds were as right, and as established, and as well ordered, as 
those of other creatures are ! " ** 

He tells the story of Ulysses and Circe in his own 
way, and with his own additions, which will show 
the nature of his historical knowledge : -r- 

" It happened formerly, in the Trojan war, that there was a king His gtoiy 
of the name of Aulixes (Ulysses). He had two nations under the of UlyMoi 
Cesar. These were called Ithacige and Ketie, and the Cesar's "*** Circe, 
name was Agamemnon. Then Aulixes went with that Cesar to that 
battle. He had then some hundred ships. Then were thej some 
ten years in that war. 

" Then the king returned home from that Cesar, when they 
had won the country. He had not then more ships than one ; 
but that was a three rower. Then a high tempest and a stormy 
sea withstood him, and he was driven into an island beyond the 
Wend el Sea. There lived a daughter of Apolline, the son of Job 

'^ This Job was their king, and it pleased them that he should be 
their highest god, and these foolish men believed in him because 
he was of a kingly race, and they knew no other god in that time, 
but they worshipped their kings for gods. Then should Job's 
father be also a god. His name was Saturnus, and they had him 
also the same for a god : and one of them was the Apolline that 
we have mentioned. 

'* This Apolline*s daughter should be a goddess. Her name was 
Kirke. They said she was a very great magician ; and she lived 
in that island that the king was driven on. She had there a great 
retinue of her thegns, and also of other maidens. 

" Soon as she saw the forth.driven king, that we spoke of before, 
whose name was Aulixes, she began to love him, and each of 

"" Alfred, p. 45, 46. A comparison withBoetlus, lib. ii. met. 8., wili show Alfred's 
great additions. 

D 3 




them the other, so immoderately, that he for love of her abandoned 
all his kingdom and his family, and remained with her, till the 
time that his thegns would not stay longer with him ; but for 
love of their country, and from being exiled from it, they resolved 
to leave him. Then began false men to make spells, and they 
said, that by their magic they would spread and turn these men 
into the bodies of wild animals ; and al'terwards throw them into 
chains and fetters. 

" Some they said they should transform into lions, and when 
they should speak then they roared. Some became boars, and 
when they lamented their sorrow they furiously grunted. Some 
were changed into wolves, and, when they thought to speak they 
howled. Some were turned to that deer kind, which tnen call 
tigers. Thus were all the company transformed into various 
kinds of deer, every one to some deer^ except only the king. 
They shunned every meat that men eat, and desired those things 
which the deer eat. They had no likeness of man, neither in 
their body, nor in their voice ; yet every one knew in his under- 
standing as he did before. This understanding sorrowed very 
much for the miseries which they suffered." ** 

He has inserted the following observations of his 
own, on the Supreme Good : — 

" This blessedness is then God. He is the beginning and the 
end of every good, and he is the highest happiness. 

'^ There is no man that needs not some increase, but Grod alone. 
He hath enough in his own self. He needs nothing but that which 
he has in himself. — 

"By these things, we may manifoslly understand, that every 
man desires this, that he may obtain the Supreme Good, where he 
can know it, or is enabled to seek it rightly. But they seek it not 
in the most right way. It is not in this world. — 

" There is no creature made, which does not desire that it may 
proceed thither, from whence it came before. This is to rest and 
felicity. Its rest is with God, and that is God." " 

He has added these remarks on wisdom : — 

" Wisdom is the highest virtue, and he hath in him four other 
2!SSl*' ^ virtues. One of these is prudence ; another moderation ; the 
"" third is courage; the fourth is righteousness. Wisdom maketh 
those that love it wise, and worthy, and constant, and patient, and 
righteous, and with every good habit filleth him that loveth it. 
They cannot do this who have the power of this world ; nor can 
they give any virtue from their wealth to those who love them, if 
they have it not in their nature. From this it is very evi- 
dent, that the powerful in this world's wealth have no appro- 
priate virtue from it ; but their wealth comes to them from 

»• Alfred, p. 116. See BocUus, lib. iv. met. 3. » Alfred, p. 49. 63, 64, 55. 


on the 8a- 




without, and thej can have nothing from without which is their chap. 
own." *« II. 

He turns a sentence of Boetius^^, which he enlarges 
on, into a commendation of wisdom : — 

" Do you see any thing in your body greater than the elephant ; 
or stronger than the lion, or the bull ; or swifter than that deer, 
the tiger ? But if thou wert the fairest of all men in beauty, and 
shouldest diligently inquire after wisdom, until thou fully right 
understood it, then mightest thou clearly comprehend, that all 
the power and excellences which we have just mentioned, are not 
to be compared with the one virtue of the souL Now wisdom is 
this one single virtue of the soul; and we all know that it is 
better than all the other excellences that we have before spoken 
about." ^ 

He pursues the next sentence of Boetius^^, with 
his own original sentiments. 

'' Behold now the spaciousness, and the constancy, and the swift- 
ness of the heavens. Yet we may understand that all this is not 
to be compared with its creator and its governor. But why do 
ye not let yourselves be weary of admiring and praising that 
which is unprofitable : this is worldly riches. For as heaven is 
better, and loftier, and fairer than all within it, except man alone ; 
60 is man's body better and more precious than all his posses- 
sions. But how much more, bethink thee, is the soul better and 
more valuable than the body. Every existence is to be honoured 
according to its proportion, and always the highest most. There- 
fore the divine power is to be honoured, admired, and worshipped 
above all other existences." ^ 

His free translation of the eighth metrum of 
Boetius^^ is a specimen of his easy and flowing 

«• Alfred, p. 60. 

" The passage in Boetius is : <* Can you excel elephants in bulk, or bulls in 
strength, or precede tigers in swiftness ? '* Lib. ill. prosa 8. 

» Alfred, p. 70. 

" The words In Boetius are only : " Survey the space, firmness, and rapidity 
of the heavens, and cease sometimes to admire vile things." Boetius, lib. iii. 
prosa 8. 

• Alfred, p. 70. 

•* The text of Boetius is : " Oh, how ignorance leads wretched men from their 
right way I Tou do not seek gold on the green tree, nor pluck gems from the 
vine. Tou do not place nets on high mountains to enrich your tables with fish ; 
nor, if you wish to follow the roe, do you hunt the Tuscan waves. Men know the 
recesses of the sea, that are hidden by the waves ; and which wave is more fruitful 
of the snowy gems ; which, of the blushing purple ; and what shores excel in the 
tender Ash, or the rough sheii-fish. But how is it, they who desire good, blindly 
endure to be ignorant of it, and, degraded, seek that on earth which lies beyond the 
starry pole ? What that is worthy shall I implore for the foolish minds ? They 

D 4 






on real 

style, and at the same time a picture of the manners 
of his time. In this he also turns the ideas of his 
author, to express his own sublime piety and moral 

" Oh ! woe ! how heavy and how dangerous the folly is, which 
misleads unhappy men, and draws them from the right way. 
This way is Grod. Do ye now seek gold on trees ? I know that 
you do not seek it there ; nor find it on them, because all men 
know that it does not grow there. No more do jewels grow in 
vineyards. Do you now set your nets on the highest mountains 
when you would fish ? I know indeed that you do not place them 
there. Do you lead your hounds and your nets out into the sea, 
when you would hunt ? I think you would set them on hills and 
in woods. It is wonderful that industrious men understand that 
they must seek by sea- voyages, and on the banks of rivers, for 
both white gems and red ones, and jewels of every kind. They 
also know on what waters, and at the mouths of what rivers, they 
should seek for fishes ; and where they should search for all their 
present wealth ; and most unweariediy they seek it. But it is a 
very pitiable thing, that weak men are so blind of all judgment, 
that they do not perceive where the true riches lie hid, and have 
no pleasure in inquiring for them. Yet they think, that in these 
frail and mortal things, they may find out the true good, which is 
God. I know not how I can express their folly so clearly, nor tell 
it so strongly as I would ; because they are more deplorable, and 
sillier, and unhappier than I am able to explain. They desire 
wealth and dignity, and when they have them, they irrationally 
think that they possess true happiness. ** *^ 

Boetius had merely said : — 

" If any one, who had enjoyed several consulships, should go by 
chance among barbarous nations, would his honours make him 
venerated by them ? ^ 

Alfred on this brief passage pours out the follow- 
ing ideas : — 

" If any powerful man should be driven from his country, or 
should go on his lord*s errand, and should then come to a foreign 
people, where no man knew him, nor he any one, nor indeed the 
language; dost thou think that his greatness would make him 
honourable in that land ? But I know that it could not. If, then, 
dignity were natural to power, and were its own ; or if the wealth 
of the rich were their own affluence, then they could not lose it. 

crave wealth and honours ; and when they have prepared the false things in a great 
mass, let them then discern the true goods of life.'* Lib. ill. met 8. 
« Alfred, p. 71, 72. • Boetius, lib. ilL prosa 8. 



Were a person on any land soever, he would be there with what CHAP, 
he possessed. His riches and his dignity would be with him ; but IL 

because wealth and power have no merit of their own, they 
abandon him ; and hence they have no natural good in themselves. 
Hence he loseth them, like a shadow or smoke, though false hope 
and imagination of weak men make power to be their highest 

" Great men will be in one of two conditions, either in a foreign 
country^ or in their own nation, with reasonable men : but both 
with these wise men, and with the foreigner, their power would be 
deemed nothing, after they understood that they had not received 
it for any virtues: but from the praises of silly men. Yet, if 
wealth hiid any excellence of its own, or of nature, in its power, 
they would have it within them. Though they should lose their 
territory, they could not lose a natural good ; but this would 
always follow them, and make them worthy in whatsoever land 
they were."®* 

The following extract shows the ease with which 
he translates his author when he chooses to adhere 
to him. Boetius has a passage on the effect of the 
vices on the characters of men ^^, which Alfred thus 
expresses with a little expansion : — 

*' But as the goodness of men raiseth them above human nature, 
to this that they be exalted to divine ; so also their evilness con- 
verts them into something below human nature, to the degree that 
they may be named devils. This we say should not be so ; for if 
thou findest a man so corrupted, as that he be turned wholly from 
good te evil, thou canst not with right name him a man, but an 
animal. If thou perceivest of any man that he be covetous, and a 
plunderer, thou shalt not call him a man but a wolf. And the 
fierce person that is restless, thou shalt call a hound, not a man. 
And the false, crafty one, a fox. He that is extremely moody, 
and enraged, and hath too great fury, thou shalt call a lion, not a 
man. The slothful that is too slow, thou shalt term an ass, more 
than a man. The unseasonably fearful person, who dreads more 
than he needs, thou mayest call a hare, rather than man. Thou 
mayest say of the inconstant and light-minded, that they are more 
like the winds or the unquiet fowls, than steady men. And if thou 

•* Alfred, p. 61. 

* In Boetius it is : ** As probity alone can raise any one above homanity, it 
follows that those whom wickedness throws down from the human condition, it 
lowers below the merit of a man. Therefore when you see any one transformed 
by vices, you cannot think him a man. Does a violent plunderer of another*s pro- 
perty glow with avarice ? You may say he is like a wolf. Does a fierce and unquiet 
one exercise his tongue in strife ? He is to be compared to a dog. Does a betrayer 
r^oice to have surprised by secret fraud ? He is on a level with foxes. Does he 
rage with intemperate anger ? Believe that he carries the soul of a lion : '* &c &c 
lib. iv. pr. 3. 


BOOK perceivest one that pursues tlie lusts of his body, he is most like 

V- fat swine, who always desire to lay down in foul soils, and will not 

• wash themselves in clear waters; or if they should, by a rare 

chance, be swimming in them, they throw themselves again on 

their mire, and wallow therein."®^ 

Alfred adds much of his own to Boetius's remarks 
on nobility, as : — 

On Uirth. " Think now first of noble birth. If any one should glory in 

this, how idle and how fruitless would that glory be ! Because 
every one knows that all men come from one father and one 

This reason is the addition of Alfred : he also in- 
serts the following passages from himself: — 

" Or again of fame among the multitude, or their praise. I 
know that we rejoice at this; although those persons now seem 
illustrious, whom the people praise, yet they ai^e more illustrious 
and more justly to be applauded, when they are made worthy 
by their virtues ; for no man is so by right from any other ad- 

" Art thou more beautiful for other men's beauty ? A man will 
be full little the better, because he hath a good father, if he 
himself is but naught. 

" Therefore, I teach, that thou mayest rejoice in other men's 
goods, and their nobility ; for this chiefly that thou art thereby 
exempt from toiling thy own self; because every man's good and 
nobility is more in his mind than in his flesh." ^^ 

He now adds, paraphrasing the words of Boe- 
tius ^ : — 

<' This alone I yet know to be good in nobility : that it makes 
many men ashamed of being worse than their elders were ; and 
therefore they strive all their power, that they may become better 
in some habits, and may increase their virtues." 

With the same nobleness of mind, he paraphrases 
and adds sentiments to the sixth metrum of Boetius^^, 

•• Alfred, p. 113, 114. " Alfred, p. 66, 67. 

" Which are : '* If there be any good in nobility, I think it ia this alone, that a 
necessity seems to be imposed on the noble, that they should not degenerate fh>m 
the virtue of their ancestors." Lib. iii prosa 6. 

* Boetius says : " All the human race arises on earth Arom a like origin. There 
is one Father of things : one administers all things. lie gave the sun his rays, and 
he gave the moon her horns. He gave men to the earth, and stars to the sky. Ue 
has enclosed in limbs, souls derived from a lofty seat. Therefore a noble germ has 
produced all mortals. Why do you boast of your race and ancestors ? If you look 
at your beginnings and your Author, Ood, you would perceive that no one Uvea 
ignobly born.'* Lib. UL met 6. 


which would surprise us from any other king, than chap. 
the great-minded, wise, and moral Alfred : — ^ 

'* What ! all men had a like beginning ; because they all come 
of one father and one mother. They all are yet born alike. This 
is no wonder ; because God alone is the Father of all creatures. 
He made them all, and governs all. He gave us the sun's light, 
and the moon, and placed all the stars. He created men on the 
earth. He has connected together the soul and the body by his 
power, and made all men equally noble in their first nature. Why 
then do ye arrogate over other men for your birth without works ? 
Now you can find none un noble. But all are equally noble, if you 
will think of your beginning creation, and the Creator, and after- 
wards of your own nativity ; yet the right nobility is in the mind. 
It is not in the fiesh, as we said before. But every man that is 
at all subjected to his vices, forsakes his Creator, and his first 
creation, and his nobility ; and thence becomes more ignoble than 
if he were not nobly born."^° 

Alfred adapts to his own times a passage of Boetius, 
which he rather imitates than translates, and thereby 
gives us a lively picture of the habits and pursuits of 
his day, with an allusion to his own sufferings : — 

*^ Dost thou then mean to be covetous for money ? Now thou 
mayest no how else get it, except thou steal it, or plunder it, or 
Jind it hidden, or there increase thyself with it, where you lessen 
it to others. 

" Wouldest thou now be foremost in dignities ? But if thou wilt 
have them, thou must flatter very miserably and very humbly 
those that may assist thee to them. If thou wilt make thyself 
better and worthier than many, then shalt thou let thyself be 
worse than some. How! is not this then some portion of un- 
happiness, that a man so brave should cringe to those that can 
give it? 

" Desirest thou power ? But thou shalt never obtain it free 
from sorrows yr<w« foreign nations, and yet more from thine own 
men and kindred, 

" Yearnest thou for glory ? But thou canst never have it 
without vexations ; for thou wilt always have something contrary 
and un pleasing. 

" Dost thou wish to enjoy thine unrestrained desires ? But 
then thou wilt despise God*s commandments, and thy wearied 
flesh will have the command of thee ; not thou of that. How can 
a man become more wretched, than by being subject to his weary- 
ing flesh, and not to his reasoning soul P"^^ 

We now come to a series of thoughts on kings, 

• Alfred, p. 67. '» Ibid. p. 69, 70. 


BOOK in which Alfred largely adds to those of Boetius7* 

They display his feelings on kingly power used for 
oppression ; his magnanimity in alluding to his own 
anxieties and vicissitudes ; his estimate of sovereign 
greatness ; his reasoning cast, and effusion of con- 
secutive thought, and his flowing style : — 

On kings. *' Dost thou now think that the friendship and society of kings, 

and the wealth and power which they give to their favourites, may 
make any man happy or powerful ? 

" Then answered I, and said : * Why may they not ? What is 
in this present life more pleasant and better than the retinue of 
the king, and to be near him and the wealth and power that 

" Then answered Wisdom, and said : * Tell me, now, whether 
thou ever heardest, that these things always continued with those 
who have been before us ; or dost thou think that any men always 
keep what they now possess ? Dost thou not know that all books 
are full of the examples of men that lived before us ? and every 
man knows, that of those who now are alive, the power and 
affluence have changed with many kings, till they have become 
poor again/ 

" * Oh, this is a very admirable felicity, that neither may sup- 
port itself nor its lord, so that he need no more help, or that they 
be both retained ! ' 

" * How ! is your highest happiness the power of kings, and yet, 
if there be any failure of his will to any king, then that diminishes 
his power and increaseth his misery ! Hence this your happiness 
will always be in some things unblessed. 

" But kings ! though they rule many nations, yet they rule not 
all those that they would govern ; and for this they are so wretched 
in their minds; because they have not something which they 
would have. 

" * Therefore, I know, that the king who is rapacious hath more 
misery than power.' " ^^ 

Alfred continues the theme with a direct allusion 
to himself : — 

" The passage of Boetius is : "Do kingdoms or the familiarity of kings make 
you powerful ? Why not ? Since their felicity lasts perpetually. But antiquity 
is full of examples, the present age is full of them, in which the felicity of kings has 
been changed by calamity. Oh, excellent power I which is not found to be sufficiently 
efficacious to its own preservation. Tet if this power of kingdoms were the author 
of blessedness, would it not, if failing in any part, lessen our felicity and introduce 
misery ? But though human empire should be widely spread, yet it must abandon 
many nations, over whom every king cannot reign. Wherever the power that 
makes us happy ceases, that Impotence enters which makes us miserable. There- 
fore kings must have a larger portion of miser}-." Boetius, lib. Hi. prosa 6. 

'* Alfred, p. 62, 63. 



Thus is it said, formerly, of a king that unrightfully seized cilAP. 
his power.^^ Oh ! what a happy man was he, that always had a il 
naked sword hanging over his head from a small thread I 80 as to < v 
me it always yet did, 

*' How I dost thou think now that wealth and power are pleasing, 
when they are never without fear, and difficulties, and sorrows '( 
What ! thou knowest that every king would wish to be without 
these, and yet have power, if he might ; but I know that he 

" This I wonder at ; why they should glory in such power. 

'* Whether dost thou think now, that a man who has much 
power is very happy, that always desires what he may not obtain ; 
or believest thou that he is very happy that always goes out with a 
great train ; or, again, he that dreads both those who dread him, 
and those who fear him not ? 

" Whether dost thou think that the man has much power, who 
himself fancies that he has none, as now many believe that they 
have none, except they have many persons to obey them ? 

" What need we now more speak of kings and their followers, 
except that every wise man may know that they be full wretched 
and full unmighty? How can kings deny or conceal their un- 
mightiness, when they cannot display their dignity without the 
help of their thanes?"^* 

He enlarges greatly on the short metre of Boetius, 
on tyrannical kings ^^, and describes them with the 
costume of his own times. A sovereign himself, he 
displays the superior nobility of his mind in perceiv- 
ing so impartially, and painting so strongly the 
vicious feelings of bad and weak-minded rulers. 

" Hear now a discourse on proud and unrighteous kings. We 

''* The Latin original of this part expresses ** the tyrant who had experienced 
this sort of danger, compared his fear' to the terror of a sword hanging over his 
head. What then is this power which cannot expel the gnawings of cares, nor the 
stings of apprehensions ? They who wished to have lived secure could not, and 
yet boast of their power. . Do you think him powerful who you see wishes what he 
cannot effect ? Do you think him powerful who surrounds his side with a guard ; 
who himself dreads those whom he terrifies ; who, however powerful he may seem, 
is placed in the hands of his servants ? Why should I dissert on the companions 
of kings, when I have shown their own government to be so full of imbecility ? '* 
Boetius, lib. iii. prosa 5. 

» Alfred, p. 63, 64. 

*• The English of Boetius is : " If, from the proud kings whom you see sitting 
on the lofty summit of the throne, splendid in their shining purple ; hedged with 
sad arms ; threatening with their stem countenance ; breathless with the fury of 
their hearts ; any one should draw aside the coverings of a vain dress, you would 
see the lord loaded with strong chains within. Here the lust of rapacity pours its 
poison on their hearts. Here turbid wrath raising its waves lashes their minds, or 
grief wearies its captive, or disappointing hope torments them. Then as you see 
one single head bears so many tyrants, how can he that is oppressed by such wicked 
masters do what he wishes.** Boetius, lib. iv. met 2. 


BOOK see tbem sitting on the highest high seats. They shine in garments 

V. of many kinds, and are with a great company of their thegns 

' • ' standing about them; who are adorned with belts, and golden- 

hilted swords, and manifold warlike appendages. They threaten 

all mankind with their majesty; and of those they govern, they 

care neither for friend nor foe, no more than a maddened hound. 

They are very incomprehensibly puffed up in their minds from 

their immoderate power. 

*' But if men should divest them of their clothes, and withdraw 

from them their retinue and their power, then might thou see that 

they be very like some of their thegns that serve them, except 

that they be worse. And if it was now to happen to them that 

their retinue was a while taken away, and their dress and their 

power, they would think that they were brought into a prison, or 

were in bondage ; because from their excessive and unreasonable 

apparel ; from their sweet-meats, and from the various drinks of 

their cup, the raging course of their luxury is excited, and would 

very powerfully torment their minds. Then would increase both 

their pride and their inquietude ; then would they be enraged ; 

then would their minds be lashed M'ith the fervour of their hot- 

heartedness, till they were overcome with their own sadness, and 

were made captives. After this were done, the hope of their 

revenge would begin to cheat them, and whatsoever their anger 

desired they would promise themselves that this would be their 


" 1 told thee formerly in this same book, that all creatures desire 

some good from nature ; but unrighteous kings can do no good. 

Hence I said it to thee. This is no wonder, because they subject 

themselves to all the vices that I before named to thee. Thus 

they are necessarily under the power of these masters, whom at 

first they might have subdued. And, what is worse, they will not 

oppose these when they might begin to do it; and thus cannot 

continue in the struggle, though then they would have had no 

The warmth of feeling, and voluntary additions 
and amplifications here exhibited by Alfred, on this 
delicate subject, in which he was so personally in- 
volved, tempt one to recollect his own faults in the 
first part of his reign, and to believe that he is de- 
scribing, with a generous self-reproach, some of his 
own former tendencies and imperfections, and some 
of the effects of his own humiliations. 

The freedom which Alfred has taken in adding to 
his author what he pleases ; in substituting opinions 

"Alfred, p. no, 111. 


and reasoning of his own, instead of those he found ; chap. 

and of enlarging upon the topics that pleased him, 
makes this work a record of the king's own feelings. 
Hence many parts in which the king paraphrases 
his original become interesting to us as evidences of 
his own sentiments, although the substance of them 
be found in Boetius. One of these is the conver- 
sation on adversity. Alfred had become well ac- 
quainted with this unwelcome visitor, and he repeats, 
enlarges, and sometimes alters, what Boetius had said 
upon it, sufficiently to show that he has given us the 
effusions of his own heart and mind upon the sub- 
ject. From a king, and one who did not write, like 
Seneca, in the full enjoyment of every luxury, which 
he never lessened ; but who formed and penned his 
thoughts amid vicissitudes, difficulties, privations, 
and dangers that would have overwhelmed most 
other men, a statement of the uses of adversity is 
peculiarly valuable for its sincerity, as well as its 
practical wisdom. Nor are the ease and breaks of 
the dialogue, and flow of style, less remarkable than 
the justness of the feeling, in the following pas- 
sages ^^ : — 

" * Dost thou now understand whither this discourse will lead On the 
^g p > benefits of 

" * Tell me whither it will/ ^ adyenity. 

" * I would say, that every fortune is good ; whether men think 
it good, or whether they think it evil/ 

" * I imagine it may easily be so, though we should at times 
think otherwise/ 

" * There is no doubt that every fortune is good in those things 
that be right and useful : for this reason, every fortune, whether 
it be pleasant, or whether it be unpleasant, cometh to the good for 
the purpose that it may do one of two things : either it urges them 
to this, that they should act better than ihey did before, or it 
rewards them for what they have done well before. And again, 
every fortune of those things that come to evil men, cometh for 
these two purposes, whether it be severe, or whether it be 
pleasant; if severe fortune cometh to evil men, it comes as a 

" To see how much Alfred has added of his own, both of dialogue and sentiment, 
on this part, the reader may compare Boetius, lib. iv. prosa 7. 


BOOK retribution for their evils, or for correction, and to teach them 
V. that they do not act so again.' 

" Then I began to wonder, and said — 

^' ' Is it from inwardly right observation that thou explainest 
this so ? ' 

** * It is as thou sayest. But I would, if thou art willing, that 
we turn a little while to the popular discourse on this subject, lest 
they should say that we are talking above man's understanding.* 

" * Speak as you wish.' 

'' * Dost thou suppose that that is not good which is useful ? ' 

" ' I suppose that it is good.' 

" * Then every fortune is useful that happens to thee. It either 
teaches or it punishes.' 

« * This is true.' 

" ' Adverse fortune is a good to those who strive against vices, 
and inclineth them to good.' 

" * I cannot contradict this.' 

" < What dost thou suppose of that good fortune which comes 
often to good men in this world so as to be a foretoken of eternal 
blessings ? Whether can people say of this that it is evil fortune?* 

" Then I smiled, and said — 

" * No man would say that, but would declare that it is very 
good. So also it would be.' 

"'What thinkest thou of that invisible fortune that often 
threatens the evil to punish them ? Whether would this folk sup- 
pose that that was good fortune ? ' 

" * They would not suppose that it was good, but would think 
that it was very miserable.' 

** ' Let us then pause, that we may not think so as the people 
think ; if we should ^think on this as the people suppose, then we 
should lose all reason and all rightwiseness.' 

" * Why should we lose these ever the more ? ' 

" * Because the populace say that every severe and unpleasant 
fortune is an evil. But we should not believe this ; because that 
every fortune is good, as we before mentioned, whether it be 
severe, or whether it be pleasant.' 

** Then I was afraid, and said — 

" * That is true which thou sayest. Yet, I know not how I 
dare to mention it to foolish men, because no foolish man can 
believe it.' 

" Then Wisdom severely opposed, and said — 

" ^ For this reason no wise man should tremble or lament at 
what may happen to him in this way, whether severe or agreeable 
fortune comes to him, no more than a brave vassal should lament 
about how often he must fight. Nor will his praise be less. But 
the hope is that it will be greater. So also will the meed of the 
wise be greater, the more angry and severer fortune that befalls 
him. No wise man should desire a soft life, if he careth for any 
virtues or any worship here from the world, or for eternal life 
after this world. But every wise man should struggle both against 


hard fortune and against a pleasant one : lest lie should presume cnAP. 
upon his good fortune^ or despair of his bad one. But it is needful ^'• 
to him that he should find out the middle way between severe and 
agreeable fortune, that lie may not desire a more pleasant one, nor 
more enjoyment than will be suitable to him ; nor again, a severer 
fortune; for this reason, that he may not suffer any thing un- 
becoming. But it is in their own power which of these they 
should choose. If then they will find out this middle path, then 
shall they themselves moderate their good fortune^ and their 
enjoyments. Then will God mitigate to them all severe fortune, 
both in this world and that which is to come, so as that they may 
bear it.' " ^9 

Alfred now omits all the seventh metre of Boetius 
but the last three verses and a half^; and these he 
enlarges upon into this animated exhortation, which 
obviously issues from his heart : — 

" Well ! O wise men ! "Well ! Go all into the way in which the 
illustrious examples of those good men, and those worthy heroes 
that were before you, lead you. Oh ! ye slothful and idle loiterers, 
why will ye be so unprofitable and so enervated ? Why will ye 
not ask after the wise and the worthy ; such as they were that 
lived before you ? and why will ye not then, after you have in- 
quired into their customs, listen to them the most earnestly you 
may ? For they struggled after worship in this world, and toiled 
for a good fame by good works, and wrought a good example for 
those that should be after them. Hence they dwell now above the 
stars in everlasting blessedness for their good works." ®* 

After a discussion that the five most desired 
things of human life are, wealth, power, worship, 
fame, and pleasure ; and that all these fail to give 
true happiness, their conversation turns upon what 
is the supreme good in which this can be obtained. 
All this part is translated by Alfred with the same 
spirit and freedom, and vivacity of dialogue, of which 
we have already given specimens. Alfred, at length, 
adds of his own : — 

" That, methinketh, would be the true and perfect felicity, that 
would give to its followers permanent affluence and eternal power, 

» Alfred, 136-138. 

■• There are in Boetius : " Go now, ye brave ! where the lofty way of a great 
example leads you. Why should ynu, inert, uncover your backs ? The earth, when 
conquered, gives us the stars.'* Lib. iv. met. 7. 

•» Alfred, p. 138. 





cal address 
to the 

and perpetual reverence, and everlasting fame, and fulness of 


and asks Wisdom to inform him where this is to be 
found ; who reminding him that Plato advised us to 
implore the Divine help in small things as well as in 
great, proceeds to utter that noble address to the 
Deity, of which Dr. Johnson has so finely translated 
the beginning and the conclusion into those beautiful 
lines already cited. 

Parts of this address are very fine in Boetius, but 
the whole is finer in Alfred ; for it is made more na- 
tural, more flowing from the heart, and more ex- 
panded, both in the feeling and the illustrations. It 
is a noble specimen of Alfred's lofty and enlarged, 
and even philosophical theism — the best foundation, 
and most attractive support of Christianity. He 
mingles with his devotion all the natural philosophy 
he possessed. Our ancient king has added to it so 
much of his own as to make it almost his original 

The extent of his additions will be perceived when 
the reader is told that the passage occupies 28 lines 
in Boetius ^^, and 131 in Alfred: — 

" O Lord ! How great and how wonderful art thou ! Thou ! that 
all thy creatures, visible and also invisible, hast wonderfully made, 
and wisely dost govern. Thou ! who the courses of time, from 
the beginning of the world to the end, hast established in such 
order, that from Thee they all proceed, and to Thee return. 
Thou ! that all moving creatures stirrest to thy will, while thou 
Thyself remainest ever tranquil and unchangeable. Hence none 
exists mightier than Thou art ; none like Thee. No necessity 
has taught Thee to make what thou hast made ; but, of Thine 
own will, and by Thy own power, Tiiou hast created all things. 
Yet Thou hast no need of any. 

" Most wonderful is the nature of Thy goodness^ for it is all 

" That the reader may perceive what is Alfred's own, we shall add a version of 
his original. It begins, *' O Tmou, who govemest the world with continual reason I 
Author of the earth and heaven I who commandest time to move from eternity, 
and, stable and enduring thyself, giveat all things to be moved J Whom external 
causes have not impelled to form the work of flowing matter, but the innate form 
of the supreme good, void of all envy." Boi'tius, lib. iil. met 9. 


one. Thou and Thy goodness. Good comes not from without to chap. 
TuEE ; but it is Thine own, and all that we have of good in this ^l- 
world, and that is coming to us from without, proceeds from Thee. * 
Thou hast no envy towards any thing. 

" None, therefore *^ is more skilful than Thou art. No one is 
like Thee ; because Thou hast conceived and made all good from 
thine own thought. No man has given Thee a pattern ; for none 
of these things existed before Thee to create any thing or not. 
But TnotJ hast created all things very good and very fair ; and 
Thou Thyself art the highest and the fairest good. 

"As Thou Thyself didst conceive, so hast Thou made this 
world ; and Thou rulest it as Thou dost will ; and Thou dis- 
tributest Thyself all good as Thou pleasest. Thou hast made all 
creatures alike, or in some things unlike, but Thou hast named 
them with one name. Thou hast named them collectively, and 
called them the World. Yet this single name Thou hast divided 
into four elements.^'* One of these is Earth ; another. Water ; the 
third, Air ; the fourth. Fire. To each of these Thou hast esta- 
blished his own separate position ; yet each is classed with the 
other; and so harmoniously bound by Thy commandment, that 
none of them intrudes on the limits of the other. The cold 
striveth with the heat, and the wet with the dry. The nature of 
the earth and water is to be cold. The earth is dry and cold ; the 
water wet and cold. The air then is called either cold, or wet, or 
warm ; nor is this a wonder, because it is made in the middle 
between the dry and the cold earth, and the hot fire. The fire is 
the uppermost of all this world's creations. 

" Wonder-like is Thy plan, which Tuou hast executed, both 
that created things should have limits between them, and be also 
intermingled ; the dry and cold earth under the cold and wet 
water, so that the soft and flowing water should have a floor on 
the firm earth, because it cannot of itself stand. But the earth 
preserves it, and absorbs a portion, and by thus imbibing it the 
ground is watered till it grows and blossoms, and brings forth 
fruits. But if the water did not thus moisten it, the earth would 
be dried up and driven away by the wind like dust and ashes. 

" Nor could any living creature enjoy the earth, or tlie water, or 
any earthly thing, for the cold, if Thou didst not a little intermix 
it with fire. Wonderful the skill with which Thou hast created 
that the fire should not burn the water and the earth. It is now 
mingled with both. Nor, again, can the water and the earth 
entirely extinguish the fire. The water's own country is on the 

" Boetius proceeds : " Thou Icadest all things by thy superior example. Fairest 
of all thyself I Thou bearett the fair world in thy mind, forming it in a resembling 
image, and commanding the perfect to have perfect parts." Lib. iii. met 9. 

•* " Thou bindest the elements by numbers, that cold may suit with flame, and 
the dry with the liquid, lest the purer fire should fly off, or their weight lead the 
earth to be submerged. Thou connecting the middle soul that moves all things of 
threefold nature, resolvest it through consonant members. When divided, it as- 
sembles motion into two orbs, goes on to return into itself, circles round the pro- 
found mind, and turns heaven with a similar impren.** Boetius, ibid. 

E 2 


BOOK earth, and also in the air, and again, above the sky : but the fire's 
V. own place is over all the visible creatures of the world ; and though 

it is mingled with all the elements, yet it cannot entirely overcome 
any of them ; because it has not the leave of the Almighty. 

" The earth, then, is heavier and thicker than the other ele- 
ments, because it is lower than any other except the sky. Hence 
the sky is every day on its exterior ; yet it no where more ap- 
proaches it, but in every place it is equally nigh both above and 

'* Each of the elements that we formerly spoke about has its 
own station apart, and though each is mingled with the other, so 
that none of them can exist without the other, yet they are not 
perceptible within the rest. Thus water and earth are very diffi- 
cult to be seen, or to be comprehended by unwise men, in fire, and 
yet they are therewith commingled. So is also the lire in stones 
and water very difficult to be perceived ; but it is there. 

" Thou bindest fire with very indissoluble chains, that it may 
not go to its own station, which is the mightiest fire that exists 
above us, lest it should abandon the earth, and all other creatures 
should be destroyed from extreme cold in case it should wholly 

" Thou hast most wonderfully and firmly established the earth, 
so that it halts on no side, and no earthly thing falls from it ; but 
all earth-like things it holds, that they cannot leave it. Nor is it 
easier to them to fall off downwards than upwards. 

" Thou also stirrest the threefold soul in accordant limbs, so 
that there is no less of that soul in the least finger than in all the 
body. By this I know that the soul is threefold, because foreign 
writers say that it hath three natures. One of these natures, is 
that it desires ; another, that it becomes angry ; the third, that it 
is rational. Two of these natures animals possess the same as 
men : one is desire, the other is anger. But man alone has reason, 
no other creature has it. Hence he hath excelled all earthly 
creatures in thought and understanding ; because reason shall 
govern both desire and wrath. It is the distinguishing virtue of 
the soul. 

" Thou hast so made the soul that she should always revolve 
upon herself as all this sky turneth, or as a wheel rolls round, 
inquiring about her Creator or herself, or about the creatures on 
the earth. When she inquireth about her Creator she rises above 
herself; when she searches into herself, then she is within herself; 
and she becomes below herself when she loves earthly things, and 
wonders at them. 

"Thou, O Loud! wilt grant the soul a dwelling in the 
heavens »*, and wilt endow it there with worthy gifts, to every 
one according to their deserts. Thou wilt make it to shine very 

•» Boctiiu adds : « Thou with like causes coiiveycst souls and inferior life, and 
adapting the sublime beings to lighter chariots, thou sowcst thein in heaven and in 
earth, and by a benign law maketh them, converging, to be brought back to thee 
like the flame of a torch." Boetius, lib. iii. met 9. 


bright, and yet with brightness very various; some more CHAP. 
splendidly, some less bright, as the stars are, each according to ^^ 
his earning. * 

" Thou, O Lord ! gathcrest the heaven-like souls, and the 
enrth-like bodies ; and Thou minglest them in this world so that 
they come hither from Thee, and to Thee again from hence aspire. 
Thou hast filled the earth with animals of various kinds, and then 
sowed it with different seeds of trees and herbs. 

" Grant now, O Lord^, to our minds that they may ascend to 
Thee, from the difficulties of this world ; that from the occupations 
here they may come to Thee. With the opened eyes of our mind 
may we behold the noble fountain of all good ! Thoq art this. 
Give us then a healthy sight to our understanding, that we may 
fasten it upon Thee. Drive away this mist that now hangs before 
our mental vision, and enlighten our eyes with Thy light. For 
Thou art the brightness of the true light. Thou art the soft rest 
of the just. Thou causest them to see it. Thou art the begin- 
ning of all things, and their end. Thou supportest all things 
without fatigue. Thou art the path and the leader, and the place 
to which the path conducts us. All men tend to Thee." ^^ 

One of the most curious parts of Alfred's Boetius AMned's 
is his metaphysical reasoning. ^S^^^' 

When he comes to the fifth book, he leaves off 
translating his author, and indulges his own medita- 
tions on chance, free will, the Divine prescience, 
providence, the perceptions of animals ; on the dif- 
ference betwixt human reason and the understanding 
of angels ; and on the Divine nature. 

That an Anglo-Saxon, when his whole nation was 
so illiterate, and both public and private affairs so 
disturbed,. should attend at all to metaphysical studies 
is extraordinary ; but that Alfred, the king whose life 
was so embarrassed by disease and warlike tumult, 
should have had either leisure or inclination to culti- 
vate them, and should have reasoned upon them with 
so much concise good sense as the following extracts 

"* TbU, which is the best part of the roetrum of Boclius, is literally thus : 
** Grant iny mind, O Father ! to ascend to thine august seat. Grant it to survey 
the source of good ; grant it, with the attained light, to fix the visible eyes of iti 
intellect on thee. Cast off the clouds and weight of this terrestrial mass, and shine on 
it in thy splendour ; for Thou art serenity ; thou are rest to the pious. To behold 
thee is our end, O origin, supporter, leader, path, and termination !'* Lib. iii. met 9. 

"^ Alfred, pp. 77 — 80. May we not say, without exaggeration, that Alf^red has 
improved upon his original ? 

E 3 

54 mSl'ORY OF THE 

BOOK will show that he did, is not the least surprising cir- 
■ cuinstance in his chamcter. But a sagacious judgment 
attended him in every thing that he attempted. 

How clearly has Alfred apprehended, and with 
what congenial enlargement and philosophy of mind 
has he in his own way stated and condensed, the rea- 
soning, more diflFused and not so clear, of Boetius, on 
chance. The sentence in italics is rather implied than 
expressed, in Boetius^^: — 

On chance. « < It is nought wlien men say that any thing happens by chance, 
because every thing comes from some other things or causes^ there- 
fore it has not happened from chance ; but if it came not from any 
thing, then it would have occurred from chance.' 

" * Then,' said I, 'whence first came the name ? ' Then, quoth 
he, ' My darling, Aristotle mentioned it in the book that is called 
Fisica.' Then said I, * How does he explain it ? ' He answered, 
* Men said formerly, when any thing happened to them unex- 
pectedly, that this was by chance. As if any one should now dig 
the earth, and find there a treasure of gold, and should then say 
that this happened by chance. But yet, I know that if the digger 
had not dug into the earth, and no man before had hidden the gold 
there, he would by no means have found it. Therefore it was not 
found by chance.' *' ^^ 


Could any reasoner have put this philosophical doc- 
trine more correctly or concisely ? 

In the fifth book, we have Alfred's thoughts on the 
liberty of human actions. They are founded on the 
suggestions of Boetius ^^; but he not only selects 
from his original what he liked on this subject, and 
compressed what he found diffused, into a small and 
expressive compass, but he states it so much in his 
own manner, as to sliow that he had well considered 
the subject, and has given us his genuine sentiments 
upon it : — 

On the " I would ask thee, whether we have any freedom or any power, 

freedom of what we should do, or what we should not do ? or does the Divine 
the wllU pre-ordi nation or fate compel us to that which we wish ? 

" Then, said he, * We have much power. There is no rational 

" See Boet. lib. v. prosa 1. » Alfred, p. J 39. 

^ In his fifth book. 


creature which has not freedom. lie that hath reason may judge CHAP, 
and discriminate what he should will, and what he should shun ; * ^^' 
and every man hath this freedom, that he knows what he should ' 

will and what lie should not will. All rational creatures have a 
like freedom. Angels have right judgments, and good will, and 
all tliat they desire they obtain very easily, because they wish 
nothing wrong. But no creature hath freedom and reason, except 
angels and men. Men have always freedom ; and the more of it 
OS they lead their minds towards divine things. But they have 
less freedom when they incline their minds near to this world's 
wealth and honours. They have no freedom, when they them- 
selves subject their own wills to the vices ; but, so soon as they 
turn away their mind from good, they are blinded with unwise- 
ness.' "91 

All the good sense of this much-agitated discussion 
seems to be condensed in these clear and forcible 

Alfred, instead of translating the subsequent ob- 
servations of Boetius, has inserted the follomng ques- 
tions, and their answers from his own mind. The 
answer contains an iUustration, that strongly shows 
his own high-mindedness as a king, in loving to have 
free men in his court : — 

** I said, * I am sometimes very much disturbed.' Quoth hc> why men 
* At what ? ' I answered : > bave flnee- 

" * It is at this which thou sayest^ that God gives to every one ^™ ^ 
freedom to do evil, as well as good, whichsoever he will ; and thou 
sayest also, that God knoweth every thing before it happens ; and 
thou also sayest, that nothing happens, but that God wills, or 
consents to it ; and thou sayest that it shall all go as he has ap- 
pointed. Now, I wonder at this : why he should consent that evil 
men should have freedom that they may do evil, as well as good, 
whichsoever they will, when he knew before that they would do 

" Tlien quoth he, * I may very easily answer thee this remark. 
How would it now look to you, if there were any very powerful 
king, and he had no freemen in all his kingdom, but that all were 
slaves ? ' 

" Then said I, * It would not be thought by me right, nor also 
reasonable, if servile men only should attend upon him.' 

" Then quoth he, * It would be more unnatural, if God, in all 
his kingdom, had no free creature under his power. Therefore he 
made two rational creatures free ; angels and men. He gave them 
the great gift of freedom. Hence they could do evil as well as 

•> Alfred, p. 140. 
F. 4 





On theDi- 
▼ine Pro- 

good, whichsoever they would. He gave this very fixed gift, and 
a very fixed law with that gift to every man unto his end. The 
freedom is, that man may do what he will ; and the law is, that he 
will render to every man according to his works, either in this 
world or in the future one ; good or evil, whichsoever he doeth. 
Men may obtain through this freedom whatsoever they will ; but 
they cannot escape death, though they may by good conduct 
hinder it, so that it shall come later. Indeed, they may defer it to 
old age, if they do not want good will for good works.* 
" Then said I, * Thou hast well removed that doubt' " »* 

This solution of the difficulty proposed, shows that 
Alfred was the true king of an English people. He 
felt from his own great heart, that the Divine Sove- 
reign must prefer to govern free men rather than 
slaves ; because such were his own sentiments as a 
king. The force of his answer rested on this noble 
feeling. If it be derogatory to the dignity of an 
earthly monarch, to have only slaves for his subjects, 
how much more unnatural would it be, that the King 
of kings should have no creatures with free will. 

The following passages on the same metaphysical 
subject are also Alfred's own compositions, which he 
inserts instead of the reasoning of Boetius. They 
obviously express his own feelings, and investiga- 
tions, and the arguments by which his doubts were 
satisfied : — 

" But I am yet grieved with much more trouble, even to 

" What is thy grief about ? 

" It is about the Divine Providence. Because we heard it, 
some while since, said, that all shall happen as God, at the be- 
ginning, had appointed, and that no man can change it. Now 
methinketh, that he errs, when he honoureth the good, and also 
when he punishes the evil ; if it be true, that it was so shaped by 
him, that they cannot do otherwise. We labour unnecessarily 
when we pray, and when we fast, or give alms, if we have no more 
merit from it, than those that in all things proceed according to 
their own will, and run after their bodily pleasures." 

The answer begins by a reference to Cicero, whom 
Boetius had cited for the argument, for which Alfred 

« Alft«d, pp. 141, 142. 


had substituted his own difficulty. But he deviates chap. 
immediately into reasoning of his o\vn. 

" I tell thee, if this be true, we ought to say, that it was an 
unnecessarj commandment in the divine books, that God should 
order man to forsake evil and do good: and, again, the saying 
which he expressed, that the more a man*laboureth the greater 
reward he shall receive. I wonder why thou hast forgotten all 
that we spoke about before. We said before, that the Divine 
Providence wrought every good and no evil, nor appointed any to 
be made, nor ever made any ; but that indeed we are directed to 

" It is thought evil by common people that He should avenge 
or punish any one for his evil. 

'* But, did we not also say in this same book, that God had 
appointed freedom to be given to men, and made them free ; and 
that if they held this freedom well, he would greatly dignify them 
with everlasting power ; and that if they injured this freedom, that 
he would then punish them with death ? 

** He has appointed, that if they sin in any thing against this 
freedom, they shall, by penitence, compensate for it, to recover 
that freedom ; and if any of them will be so hard-hearted, that he 
will do no repentance, that he shall then have a just punishment. 

" He has appointed all creatures to be servants, except angels 
and men, and hence they are the servants of these other creatures. 
They have their ministerial duties till doomsday. But men and 
angels, they are free. He dispenses with their servitude. 

" What ! can men say, that the Divine Providence has appointed 
this, that they should not fulfil these duties, or how ? May they 
neglect them ; that they may not do good ? Now it is written that 
God will render to every man according to his works. Why then 
should any man be idle, that he work not? — 

" Then said I, ' It is obvious enough to me, that God knew it 
all before, both good and evil, before it happened. But I know 
not, whether that shall all happen unchangeably, which he knows 
and has appointed.' 

" * Then,* quoth he, * There is no need that all should 
HAPPEN unchangeably: though some of it shall happen un- 
changeably. This will be that, which will be best for our neces- 
sities ; and that will be his will. But there are some so instructed 
that tliere is no necessity for this; and though its being done 
would neither injure, nor benefit, nor be any harm, yet it will not 
be done.' 

" ' Think now, by thyself, whether thou hast appointed any 
thing so firmly, that thou thinkest that it shall never be changed 
by thy will, nor that thou canst be without it : or whether thou 
again art so divided in opinion, on any thought, whether it shall 
happen to help thee, or whether it shall not. Many are the things 
which God knows before they happen ; and he knows also whether 
it will hurt his creatures that they should happen. But he knows 


BOOK not this for the purpose of willing that they should liappen, but 
V. that he may take previous care that they should not happen. Thus 
a good ship-steerer perceives many a stormy wind before it occurs, 
and folds his sail, and awhile also lays down his mast, and then 
abides the beating, if, before the threatening of the adverse wind, , 
he can warn himself against the weather.'"*^ 

In this train of original reasoning, it is remarkable, 
that Alfred's sound and practical understanding 
has fixed itself on the true solution of this diflScult 
question. The Deity foresees, when He pleases, all 
things that can happen, not that every thing which 
He foresees should happen ; but that He may select 
out of the possibilities which his foresight anticipates, 
those things which it will be most beneficial to his 
creation to take place; but He does not even will 
these unalterably. He binds himself in no chains. 
His laws are not made to be immutable, when the 
course and changes of circumstances make alteration 
advisable. " There is no need," as our royal sage 
intimates, *' that all things should unchangeably 
happen." Alfred felt it to be wiser, from his own 
experience, to reserve and exercise the right of making 
new determinations and arrangements as new exi- 
gencies occurred ; and he has reasonably applied the 
same principle to the Divine Government. The Deity . 
could make all things unchangeable if he pleased, and 
could from all eternity have so appointed them. But 
there was no need for his doing this. It was wiser 
and more expedient that he should not do so. He is 
under no necessity, at all times, or at any time, to 
exert all his possibilities of power. He uses on every 
occasion so much of it as that occasion requires, but 
no more. He involves himself in no fetters of ne- 
cessity. He is always doing what it is the best and 
fittest to do, and reserves to himself the right and 
the freedom of making at every period whatever new 

" Alfred, pp. 142—144. 



arrangement the progress or the new positions or chap. 
the welfare of his creation requires. ^ 

Thus Alfred has hit upon the real wisdom of opinion 
on this contested subject, which both theologians and 
metaphysicians have failed to attain. He could not 
have left a more impressive instance of the penetrat- 
ing sagacity of his clear and honest mind. 

Boetius was advancing to the point, but missed it ; 
for he seems to have thought, like most, that what- 
ever was foreseen must occur. Alfred's idea of an 
exerted foresight to choose from, without the neces- 
sity of the thing foreseen therefore unalterably oc- 
curring, was a beautiful distinction of his correct 
j udgment. 

Instead of the reasoning of Boetius, in the fifth 
prosa of his last book. Alfred substitutes the fol- 
lowing of his own : — 

'* Then said I, ' Thou hast very well helped me by this speech. On haman 
I wonder why so many wise men should have laboured so much Jl**^^** 
on this subject, and have found out so little that was wise.* '" "" 

" Then, quoth he, * Why wonderest thou so much ? Is it so 
easy to be understood ? How ! knowest thou not, that many things 
are not understood so as they exist ; but according to the quality 
of the understanding of him that inquires after them. Such is 
wisdom. No man from this world can understand it, such as it 
really is ; though every one strives according to the quality of his 
understanding, that he may perceive it if he can. Wisdom may 
entirely comprehend us, such as we are, though we may not 
wjiolly comprehend that, such as it is in itself; because wisdom is 
Grod. He seeth all our works, both good and evil, before they are 
done, or for this purpose, thought. But he compels us not to this, 
that we must necessarily do the good ; nor prevents us from doing 
evil; because he has given us freedom. I can teach thee also 
some examples, by which thou mayest the easier understand this 
speech. What ! thou knowest the sight, and the hearing, and the 
taste : they perceive the body of man, and yet they perceive it not 
alike. The ears perceive so that they hear, but they perceive not 
yet the body entirely as it is : our sense of feeling must touch it, 
and feel that it is the body. We cannot feel whether this be black 
or white, fair or not fair ; but the sight at the beginning turns to 
these points ; and as the eyes look on things, they perceive all the 
appearance of the body. But I will give thee some further ex- 
planation, that thou mayest know that which thou wonderest at.' 

its best in- 


BOOK " Then said I, * T\'hat is tliis?' 

V. " He said, * It is that man understands onlj that which ho 

separately perceives in others. He perceives separately through 
his eyes ; separately through his ears ; separately through his 
nostrils ; separately by his reason ; separately by his wise com- 
prehension. There are many living things that are unmoving, 
such as shell-fish are; and these have yet some portion of per- 
ception ; or they would not else live, if they had no grain of per- 
ception. Some can see, some can hear, some taste, some smell ; 
but the moving animals are more like man, because they have nil 
that the unmoving creatures have, and also more too. This is, 
that they obey men. They love what loves them, and hate what 
hates them ; and they fly from what they hate, and seek what they 
love. But men have all that we have before mentioned, and also 
add to them the great gift of reason. Angels have a still wiser 

" ' Hence are these creatures thus made, that the unmoving shall 
not exalt themselves above the moving ones, nor contend with 
them ; nor the moving ones above men ; nor men above angels ; 
nor angels strive against God. 

" * But this is miserable, that the greatest part of men look not 
to that which is given to them, that is, reason ; nor seek that which 
is above them, which is what angels and wise men have ; this is 
a wise understanding. But most men now move with cattle, in 
this, that they desire the lusts of the world like cattle. If we now 
had any portion of an unhesitating understanding, such as angels 
have, then we might perceive that such an understanding would 
be much better than our reason. Though we investigate many 
things, we have little ready knowledge free from doubt. But to 
angels there is no doubt of any of those things which they know, 
because tlieir ready knowledge is much better than our reasoning ; 
as our reasoning is better than the perceptions of animals. Any 
portion of understanding that is given to them, is either to those 
that are prone, or to those that are erect. But let us now elevate 
our minds as supremely as we may towards the high roof of the 
highest understanding, that thou mayest most swiftly and most 
easily come to thine own kindred from whence thou camest before. 
There may thy mind and thy reoson see openly that which they 
now doubt about ; — every thing, whether of the Divine prescience, 
which we have been discoursing on, or of our freedom, or of all 
such things.' "»^ 

What an easy flow of reasoning, on topics, which 
the Aristotelian schoolmen afterwards bewildered 
without improving ! 

If it be interesting to read the philosophical rea- 
sonings of great men on the sublime subject of Deity, 


Alfred, pp. 144— 146. 




and on that which constitutes the supreme good, it is 
peculiarly so to observe how Alfred treats of it, when 
we recollect the age he lived in, and the barbaric 
ininds with which he was surrounded. He has en- 
larged so copiously on the suggestions of Boetius^^, 
added so much to his text, inserted so much vigour 
of reasoning, and also thrown it so much more into 
dialogue, that it claims our attention as another spe- 
cimen of his original composition. He argues and 
thinks like a Platonic philosopher. 

" I would ask thee first one thing. Whether thinkest thou that On the 
any thing in this world is so good as that it may give us full Dlylne 
happiness ? I nsk this of tliee. I do not wish that any false '^*"'*» 
likeness should deceive you and me, instead of the true comfort ; 
for no man can deny that some good must be the most superior. 
Just as there is some great and deep fountain, from which many 
brooks and rivers run. Hence men say of some advantages, that 
they are not complete good, because there is some little deficiency 
in them, which they are not entirely without. Yet every thing 
would go to naught, if it had not some good in it. 

" From this you may understand, that from the greatest good 
come the less goods ; not the greatest from the less : no more than 
the river can be the spring and source, though the spring may 
flow into a river. As the river may return again to the spring, so 
every good cometh from Grod, and returns to him ; and he is the 
full and the perfect good ; and there is no deficiency of will in 
him. Now you may clearly understand that this is God himself. 

" Then answered I, and said, * Thou hast very rightly and very 
rationally overcome and convinced me. I cannot deny this, nor 
indeed think otherwise, but that it is all so as thou sayest.' 

" Then said Wisdom, * Now I would that thou shouldest think 
carefully till thou understand where true happiness is. How! 
knowest thou not, that all mankind are with one mind consenting 
that God is the beginning of all good things, and the governor of 
aU creatures? He is the supreme good. No man now doubts 
this, because he knows nothing better, and indeed nothing equally 
good. Hence every reasoning tells us, and all men confess the 
same, that God is the highest good. Thus they signify that all 
good is in him ; for if it were not, then he would not be that which 
he is called; but something has existed before him or is more 
excellent. Then that would be better than he is; but nothing 
was ever before him, nor more excellent than he is, nor more 
precious than himself. Hence he is the beginning, and the 
fountain, and the roof of all good. This is clear enough. Now it 

•* The reader may compare, with the king^s effusion, Boetius, lib. ili. prosa 10. 


BOOK is openly shown, that the true felicities are in no other existing 
V. thing but in God/ 

' ** Then said I, * I am consenting to this.' 

" Then he answered, *I conjure thee that thou rationally under- 
stand this ; that God is full of every perfection, and of every good^ 
and of every happiness.' 

" I then replied, * I cannot fully understand it. Wherefore tell 
me again, the same that thou didst mention before.' 

" He said, * Then I will say it again. I would not that thou 
shouldest think this, that God is the father and the origin of all 
creatures, and yet that his supreme goodness, of which he is full, 
comes to him from any where from without. I also would not 
have thee think that any other can be his good and happiness but 
himself; because, if thou supposest that the good which he hath 
comes to him any where from without, then that thing from which 
' it comes to him would be better than he, if there were such. But 

, it is very silly, and a very great sin, that men should think so of 

God ; either to suppose again, that any thing were before him, or 
better than he is, or like him. But we should agree that he is the 
best of all things. 

" * If thou now believest that God exists so as men are, either 
he is a man that hath soul and body, or his goodness is that which 
gathereth good elsewhere^ and then holds it together, and rules it. 
If thou then believest that it is so with God, then shalt thou 
necessarily believe that some power is greater than his, which it 
so unites as that it maketh the course of things. But whatever 
thing is divided from others is distinct, — is another thing, though 
they may be placed together. If, then, any thing be divided from 
the highest good, it will not be that highest good. Yet it would 
be a great sin to think of God, that there could be any good 
without him, or any separated from him. Hence nothing is better 
than He is, or even as good. What thing can be better than its 
creator? Hence I say, with juster reason, that He is the supreme 
good in his own nature, which is the origin of all things.' 

" Then I said, * Now thou hast very rightly convinced me.' 

" Then quoth he, * Did I not before tell thee that the supreme 
good and the highest happiness were one ? ' I answered, * So it 
is.' He replied, * Shall we then say that this is any thing else but 
God ? ' I said, * I cannot deny this ; because I assented to it 
before.'" »6 

The following passages are from Alfred's own pen. 
Speaking of the Deity, he adds : — 

" * He is the stem and the foundation of all blessings. From 
Him all good cometh, and every thing tends to Him again. He 
governs them all. Thus He is the beginning, and the support of 
all blessings. They come from Him so as the light and brightness 
of the planets come from the sun : some are brighter, some are less 

»• Alfred, pp. 81^83. 



bright. So also the moon ; he enlightens as much as the sun chap. 
shines on him. When she shineth all over him, then is he all ii* 

'* When I heard these observations I was then astonished, and 
much awed, and exclaimed, ' This is a wonderful, and delightful, 
and reasonable observation which thou now expressest to me ! ' 

" He answered, * It is not more pleasant nor wiser than the 
thing that thy discourse was about. We will now talk about that ; 
because methinketh it good that we connect this with the former.' 
Then replied I, * What is that ? ' "^^ 

After this, the concise question of Boetius, whether 
"the several things of which beatitude consists do 
not unite, as it were, in one body of blessedness, with 
a certain variety of parts, or whether any one of 
them hath it complete to which the rest may be 
referred^®," is thus amplified and commented upon by 
Alfred with his own illustrations and reasonings : — 

" * What I expressed to thee before was, that God was happi- 
ness ; and that from this true felicity come all the other goods 
that we discoursed about before ; and return to him. Thus from 
the sea the water cometh into the earth, and there freshens it- 
self. It proceedeth then up into a spring ; it goeth then into a 
brook ; then into a river ; then along the river till it floweth again 
into the sea. But I would now ask thee how thou hast under- 
stood this assertion? Whether dost thou suppose that the five 
goods which we have often mentioned before, that is, power, 
dignities, celebrity, abundance, and bliss ; — I would know whether 
you suppose that those goods were limbs of the true felicity, so 
as a man*s limbs are those of one person, and belong all to one 
body ? Or dost thou think that some one of the five goods makes 
the true felicity, and afterwards that the four others become its 
goods : as now the soul and body compose one man ? 

*' ' The one man hath many limbs, and yet to these two, that is, 
to the soul and the body, belong all this man's comforts both 
spiritual and corporeal. It is now the good of the body that a 
man be fair and strong, and long and broad, with many other 
excellences besides these. Yet they are not the body itself; 
because, though he should lose any of these good things, he 
would still be what he -was before. Then the excellences of 
the soul are, prudence, moderation, patience, righteousness, and 
wisdom, and many such virtues ; and yet, as the soul is one thing, 
60 the virtues are another.' 

"I then said, *I wish that thou wouldest explain to me yet 
more clearly, about the other goods that belong to the true felicity.' 

" He answered, * Did I not inform thee before, that the true 

«" Alfred, p. ^4. " Boct lib. UL pr. la 


BOOK happiness is Gk>d ? ' ' Yes/ I replied, ' thou hast said he was the 
V. supreme good.' Then quoth he, ' Art thou now consenting that 

power, and dignities, and fame, and plenty, and joy, and happiness, 
and the supreme good, are all one ; and that this one must be the 
Deity ? ' 

" I said, * How should I now deny this ? ' Then he answered, 
^ Whether dost thou think that those things which are the limbs 
of the true felicity is that felicity itself? ' 

" 1 replied, * I know now what thou wouldest say ; but it will 
please me better that you should speak to me some while about it 
than ask me.' He then said, * How ! couldest thou not reflect that 
if these goods were limbs of the true felicity, they would be some- 
what distinct from it as a man's limbs are from his body ? But 
the nature of these limbs is that they make up one body, and yet 
are not wholly alike.' 

" I then remarked, * Thou needest no more speak about it. 
Thou hast explained it to me clearly enough that these goods are 
no-whit separated from the true felicity.' 

" Then quoth he, * Thou comprehendest it right enough. Thou 
now understandest that all good is the same that happiness is, and 
this happiness is the supreme good, and the supreme good is God, 
and God is always inseparably one.' 

" I said, ' There is no doubt of it. But I wish you now to dis- 
course to me a little on what is unknown.' "^^ 

All the preceding is the addition of Alfred to the 
short suggestion already given from Boetius. 

Shortly after the above occurs the tenth metrum 
of Boetius ^^, which Alfred paraphrases, or rather 
imitates, so as to make the whole of it, in point of 
composition, his own, and nearly so in its thoughts. 

It is Alfred's corollary from the preceding dialogue. 

** Well ! O men ! Well ! Every one of you that be free tend to 
this good, and to this felicity ; and he that is now in bondage with 
the fruitless love of this world let him seek liberty, that he may 
come to this felicity. For this is the only rest of all our labours. 
This is the only port always calm after the storms and billows of 

"• Alfred, pp. 84 — 86. 

** The original is : " Come here, all ye that are thus captivated ; whom de- 
ceitful desire, dulling your earthly minds, binds with its wicked chains ; here will 
be rest from your labours ; here, a serene port where you may remain quiet This 
is the only asylum open to the wretched. Tagus never gave any thing in its 
golden sands, nor Ilermus from his ruddy bank, or Indus near the heated circle, 
mingling green with white stones. They blaze to the sight, and the more conceal 
the blinded mind within their darkness. In this, whatever pleases and excites the 
mind, the low earth nourishes in its caverns. The splendour with which heaven 
is governed and flourishes shuns the obscure ruins of the soul. Whoever can note 
this light, will deny the bright rays of Phoebus." Boet lib. iU. met 10. 


our toils. This is the onlj station of peace ; the only comforter cHAP. 
of grief after all the sorrows of the present life. The golden n. 
stones and the silvery ones, and jewels of all kinds, and all the * 
riches before us, will not enlighten the ejes of the mind, nor 
improve their acuteness to perceive the appearance of the true 
felicity. They rather blind the mind's eyes than make them 
sharper ; because all things that please here, in this present life* 
are earthly ; because they are flying. But the admirable bright- 
ness that brightens all things and governs all ; it will not destroy 
the soul, but will enlighten it. If, then, any man could perceive 
the splendour of the heavenly light with the pure eyes of his mind, 
he would then say that the radiance of the shining of the sun is 

not superior to this, — is not to be compared to the everlasting 
brightness of God." 101 

The last chapter of his Boetius is Alfred's composi- 
tion. He has taken a few hints from his originaP^, 
but he has made what he has borrowed his own, by 
his mode of expression, and he has added from his 
own mind all the rest. It is a fine exhibition of his 
enlightened views and feelings on that great subject, 
which has, in every age, so much interested the truly 
philosophical mind ; and we may add, that no one has 
contemplated it with more sympathy, rationality, and 
even sublimity, than our illustrious king. His de- 
scription of the Deity is entirely his own. — 

'' Hence we should with all our power inquire after God, that 
we may know what He is. Though it should not be our lot to 
know what He is, yet we should, from the dignity of the under- 
standing which he has given us, try to explore it. 

"Every creature, both rational and irrational, discovers this 
that God is eternal. Because so many creatures, so great and so 
fair, could never be subject to less creatures and to less power 
than they all are, nor indeed to many equal ones. 

" Then said I, * What is eternity ? * 

" He answered, * Thou hast asked me a great and difficult thing 
to comprehend. If thou wilt understand it, thou must first have 
the eyes of thy mind clean and lucid. I may not conceal from 
thee what I know of this. 

" ' Know thou that there are three things in this world : one is 
temporary ; to this there is both a beginning and an end : and I 
do not know any creature that is temporary, but hath his begin* 

»» Alfred, pp. 87, 88. 

^ How few these are may be seen by those who read the last chapter of Boetius. 
Lib. V. pr. 6. 



BOOK ning and his end. Another thing is eternal which hath, a begin- 
V. ning, but hath not an end : I know not when it began, but I 
' know that it will never end : such are angels and the souls of 

men. The third thing is eternal, both without end, and without 
beginning : this is God. Between these three there is a yery 
great discrimination. If we were to investigate all this subject 
we should come late to the end of this book, or never. 

" ' But one thing thou must necessarily know of this previously 
— Why is God called the Highest Eternity ? ' 

" Then said I, * Why ? ' 

" Then quoth he, * Because we know very little of that which 
was before us, except by memory and by asking ; and yet we 
know less of that which will be after us. That alone exists 
rationally to us which is present ; but to HiH all is present, as 
well that which was before as that which now is : and that 
which after us will be. All of it is present to Him. 

" * His riches increase not, nor do they ever diminish. He 

never remembers any thing, because He never forgets aught : He 

seeks nothing, nor inquires, because He knows it all : He searches 

for nothing, because He loses nothing : He pursues no creature, 

because none can fly from Him : He dreads nothing, because 

He knows no one more powerful than Himself, nor even like Him. 

He is always giving and never wants. He is always Almighty, 

because He always wishes good, and never evil To Him there 

is no need of any thing. He is always seeing : He never sleeps : 

He is always alike mild and kind : He will always be eternal. 

Hence there never was a time that He was not, nor ever will be. 

He is always free. He is not compelled to any work. From His 

divine power He is every where present. His greatness no man 

can measure. He is not to be conceived bodily, but spiritually, so 

as now wisdom is and reason. But He is wisdom : He is reason 
itself."* 103 

We can scarcely believe that we are perusing the 
written thoughts of an Anglo-Saxon of the ninth cen- 
tury, who could not even read till he was twelve 
years old ; who could then find no instructors to 
teach him what he wished ; whose kingdom was over- 
run by the fiercest and most ignorant of barbarian 
invaders ; whose life was either continual battle or 
continual disease ; and who had to make both his own 
mind and the minds of all about him. How great 
must have been Alfred's genius, that, under circum- 
stances so disadvantageous, could attain to such great 
and enlightened conceptions ! 

"■ Alfred, pp. 147, 148. 


CHAP. in. 

Alfred*^ Geographical^ Historical^ Astronomical^ Botanical^ and 

other Knowledge, 

Alfred's translation of Orosius^ is peculiarly va-* chap. 
luable for the new geographical matter which he ^ ^^ 

inserted in it.^ This consists of a sketch of the HiitnuM- 
chief German nations in his time, and an account of orwiiul 
the voyages of Ohthere to the North Pole, and of 
Wulfstan to the Baltic, during his reign. Alfred 
does in this as in all his translations : he omits some 
chapters, abbreviates others ; sometimes rather imi- 
tates than translates ; and often inserts new para- 
graphs of his own. 

It is clear, from these additions, that Alfred was hii geo- 
fond of geography, and was active both to increase Sww- 
and diffuse the knowledge of it. Some little insertions '•^«*- 
in his Boetius implied this fact; for he introduces 
there a notice of the positions of the Scythians®, 
and derives the Goths from them*; and mentions 
Ptolemy's description of the world.^ But it is in 
his Orosius that the extent of his researches is most 
displayed. The first part of his original is a geogra- 
phical summary of the nations and kingdoms of the 
world in the fifth century. Alfred has interspersed 

* OroeiuB ends his summary of ancient history and geography in 41 6, when he 
was alive. He quotes some historians now lost ; as Claudius on the Roman conquest 
of Macedonia, and Antias on the war with the Cimbri and Teutones ; and appears 
to have read Tuberous history, and an ancient history of Carthage. 

' The principal MS. of Alfred's translation is in the Cotton library, Tiber, h. i. 
which is very ancient and well written. A transcript of this, with a translation, 
was printed by Mr. Daines Barrington, in 1773. 

> Alfred's Boet p. 39. ^ Ibid. p. 1. 

* Ibid. p. 38. He enlarges on Boetius*i account of Etna. 

r 2 




notitU of 


in this some few particulars^, which prove that he 
had sought elsewhere for the information he loved. 
Having done this, he goes beyond his original, and 
inserts a geographical review of Germany, as it was 
peopled in his time ; which is not only curious as 
coming from his pen, and as giving a chorographical 
map of the Germanic continent of the ninth century, 
which is no where else to be met with of that period ; 
but also as exhibiting his enlarged views and inde- 
fatigable intellect. No common labour must have 
been exerted to have collected, in that illiterate age, 
in which intercourse was so rare and difficult, so 
much geographical information. It is too honour- 
able to his memory to be omitted in this delineation 
of his intellectual pursuits. 

** Then north against the source of the Donua (Danube), and to 
tlie east of the Rhine, are the E^st Francan ; south of them are 
the Swsefas (Swabians); on the other part of the Danube, and 
south of them, and to the east, are the Bsegthware (Bavarians), 
in the part which men call Regnes-burgh^ ; right east of them 
are the Berne (Bohemians) ; and to the north-cast the Thyringas 
(Thuringians) ; north of them are the Eald Seaxan ; and north- 
west of them are the Frysan (Frisians). 

" West of the Eald Seaxan is the mouth of the -ZElfe river (the 
£lbe), and Frysland ; and thence west-north, is that land which 
men call Angle and Sillende (Zealand), and some part of Dena 
(Denmark) ; north of them is Apdrede® ; and east-north the Wilds 
that men call ^feldan ; and east of them is Wineda land, that 
men call Sysyle (Silesians), and south-east over some part Maroaro 
(the Moravians) ; and these Maroaro have west of them the 
Thyringas and Behemas (Bohemians), and half of the Bavarians ; 

' Thus, OruBiuH says, Asia is surrounded on three sides by the ocean. Alfred 
adds, on the south, north, and east What Orosius call? •• our sea," meaning the 
Mediterranean, Alfred names Wenbel fw* Sarmaticus, he translates fepmonbirc. 
O. speaks of Albania. A. says it is so named in Latin, " anb pe b^ hatarh nu 
rnobene." O. mentions the boundaries of Europe ; A. gives them in different 
phrases, mentions the source of the Rhine and Danube, and names the Cr«n r** 
Speaking of Oades, he adds, «« On fch«m ilcan Wenbel ra on hype Wercenbe ir 
Scofclanb." He adds also of the Tygris, that it flows south into the Red Sea. 
Several little traits of this sort may be observed. 

* Ratisbon ; the Germans call it Regensburgh. The modem names added to 
this extract are from J. R.For8ter's notes. I have in this, as in all the extracts 
from Alftred*s works, made the translation as literal as possible, that his exact phrases 
may be seen. 

• The Obotritae setUed in Mecklenburgh. 


south of them, on the other half of the river Danube is the knd CHAP; 
Carendre (Carinthia.) South to the mountains that men call i^^* 
Alpis. To these same mountains lie the boundaries of the ' 
Bavarian's land, and Swabians : and then by the east of Carendra 
land, bejond the deserts, is Pulgara land (Bulgaria) ; east of this 
is Creca land (Greece) ; east of Maroaro land is Wisleland^ ; east 
of this is Datia, where formerly were the Grottan (the Goths). 

*' North-east of Maroara are the Dulamensan ^^ ; and east of the 
Dalomensan are the Horithi ; and north of the Dalomensan are 
the Surpe^^ and west of them are the Sysele. North of the 
Horiti is Msegthalond ; and north of Msegthalande is Sermende 
(the Sarmatse), to the Riffin (Riphsoan) mountains. 

'* South-west of the Denum is that arm of the ocean which lieth 
about the land Brittannia, and north of them is that arm of the 
sea which men call Ost Sea.^^ To the east of them, and to the 
north of them, are the North Dene, both on tlie greater lands 
and on the islands ; and east of them are the Afdrede ; south of 
them is the mouth of the river ^Ife, and some part of Eald 

" The North Dene have on their north that same arm of the 
sea which men call Ost ; and east of them are the Osti*' nation, 
and Afdrede on the south. The Osti have on the north of them 
the same arm of the sea, and the Winedas and Burgendas ^^ ; and 
south of them are the Haefeldan. 

" The Burgendan have the same arm of the sea west of them, 
and the Sweon (Swedes) on the north; east of them are the 
Sermende ; south of them are the Surfe. The Sweon have to the 
south of them the Osti arm of the sea ; east of them are the 
Sermende ; and north over the wastes is Cwenland ; north-west 
are the Scride Finnas ; and west, the Northmenn." 

Such are the notitia of Germany, which Alfred 
has inserted in his Orosius. As they display the 
ideas of an inquisitive king, on the positions of the 
German nations in the ninth century, they are va- 
luable to geographers. 

To this delineation of Germany, Alfred adds an 
interesting account of the voyage of Ohthere towards 

' Wisleland is that part of Poland which b commonly called Little Poland, for 
here the Vistula rises, which in Polish is called Wisla. 

^ Dalamenss are those Sclavonians who formerly inhabited Silesia fh)m Moravia, 
as fu* as Glogau, along the Oder. Wittekind calls them Sdavi Dalamanti. 

" The Sorabi, Sorbi, or Sorvi, who lived in Lnsatia, and Misnia, and part of 
Brandenburgh and Silesia, below Glogau ; their capital was Soraw, a town which 
still exists. I vary the orthography as the MS. does. 

>' The Germans have for the Baltic no other name than the Ost Sea. 

" The same whom Wulfttan calls the Estum. The northernmost part of Livonia 
stUl bears the name of Estland. 

** Bomholm, the contraction of Borgundeholm, Wulfstan calls Burgundaland. 

T 3 


BOOK the North Pole ^^, and of the voyage of Wulfstan in 
' the Baltic. As it is the king's composition, and gives 
a curious sketch of several nations in the ninth cen- 
tury, we think it a duty to insert it. 

^'Ohthere said to his lord, king iElfred> that he abode the 
northmost of all the NorthmeD. He declared, that he abode on 
those lands northward against the West Sea. He said, that that 
land is very long to the north, and is all waste except in few 
places : the Finnas dwell scattered about ; they hunt in winter, 
and in summer they fish in the sea. 

^* He said, that on some occasion he wished to find out how long 
that land stretched to the north, or whether any man abode to the 
north of those wastes. Then went he right north of those lands, 
leaving the waste land all the way on the starboard, and the wide 
sea on the back-board (larboard). He was for three days as far 
north as the whale-hunters farthest go. Then went he yet right 
north as far as he might sail for three other days ; the land bent 
there right east, or the sea in on that land, he knew not whether ; 
but he knew, that he there expected a west wind, or a little to 
the north. He sailed thence east of the land, so as he might 
in four days sail. Then should he there abide a right north wind, 
because that land inclined right south, or the sea in on that 
land, he knew not whether. (He knew not whether it was a mere 
bay or the open sea.) 

^* Then sailed he thence right south of the land, so as he might 
in five days saiL Then lay there a great river up in that land. 
Then returned they up from that river, because they durst not 
sail forth on that river from hostility, for that land was all in- 
habited on the other side of the river. Nor had he met before 
any inhabited land, since he went from his own home, but to him 
all the way was waste land on the starboard, except the fishers, 
fowlers, and hunters ; and these were all Finnas : on his lar- 
board, there was a wide sea. 

*' The Beormas had very well inhabited their land, and he durst 
not come there ; but Terfinna land was all waste, except where 
the hunters, or the fishers, or the fowlers settled. 

" The Beormas told him many accounts both of their own lands 
and of the lands that were about them ; but he knew not what 
was truth, because he did not see it himself. He thought the 
Finnas and the Beormas nearly spoke one language. He went 
chiefly thither to each of these lands looking for the horse-whales, 
because they have very good bone in their teeth. He brought 
some of the teeth to the king ; the hides are very good for ship 

*» Whoever now reads Ohtbere*8 voyage will hardly think it possible that any 
one could have so mistaken it, as to say it was a voyage to discover a northern pas- 
BOfft to the Ea»t Indiet, Tet so Kattet and Voltaire have represented or rather 
misrepresented it 


ropes. These whales are much less than the other shales ; they chap. 
are not longer than seven ells long. III. 

" On his own land are the best whales hunted ; they are forty- ' 
eight ells long, and the largest fifty ells. Of these, he said, that 
he was one of six who slew sixty in two days. 

** He was a very wealthy man in those possessions that be their 
wealth ; that is, in wild deer. He had then yet when he sought 
the king 600 unbought tame deer ; these deers they call hranas 
(rain-deer). There were six decoy hranas ; they are very dear 
amid the Finnas, because they take the wild hranas with them. 

** He was amid the first men in those lands, though he had not 
more than twenty horned cattle, and twenty sheep, and twenty 
swine ; and the little that he ploughed, he ploughed with horses. 
But their wealth is most in those gafol that the Finnas pay to 
them. These gafol are in deer-skins, and in birds' feathers, and 
whales' bones, and in the ship-ropes that be made of the whales' 
hides, and of seals. 

" Every one pays according to his birth. The best bom (or 
richest) shall pay fifteen martens' skins, and five hranas, and one 
bear skin, and ten ambra of feathers, and a kyrtel of bears' or 
otters* skin, and two ship-ropes, each to be sixty ells long ; some 
are made of whales' hide, some of seals'. 

" He said, that Northman na land was very long and very small ; 
all that men could use of it for pasture or plough lay against the 
sea, and even this is in some places very stony. Wild moors lay 
against the east, and along the inhabited lands. In these moors 
the Finnas dwell. 

<* The inhabited land is broadest eastward, but northward be- 
comes continually smaller. Eastward, it may be sixty miles broad, 
or a little broader ; midway, thirty or broader ; and to the north, 
he said, where it was smallest, it might be three miles broad to 
the moors. The moors are in some places so broad, that a man 
might be two weeks in passing over them. In some places their 
breadth was such that a man might go over them in six days. 

" Even with these lands, southward, on the ether side of the 
moors is Sweo-land ; to that land, northward, and even with those 
northward lands, is Cwenaland. The Cwenas make depredations, 
sometimes on the Northmen over the moors (sometimes the North- 
men on them) ; and there are many great fresh lakes over these 
moors, and the Cwenas carry their ships overland to the lakes, 
and thence plunder the Northmen. They have ships very little 
and very light. 

'* Ohthere said, the shire was called Halgoland that he abode 
in. He declared that no man abode north of him. There is one 
port on the southward of these lands ; this men call Sciringes- 
heale ; thither he said a man might not sail in a month, if he 
rested at night, and every day had a favourable wind : all the 
while he shall sail by the land and on the starboard, the first to 
him would be Iraland, and then the islands that are betwixt Ira* 

F 4 





land and this land ; then is this land till he comes to Sciiinges* 

*' All the way on the larboard id Norway ; against the south of 
Sciringes-heale a very great sea falleth upon that land. It is 
broader than any man may see oyer. Gotland is opposite on the 
other side, afterwards Sillende. The sea lieth many hundred 
miles up in on that land. 

*' He said, he sailed from Sciringes-heale in five days to that 
port which men call set Hethum. It stands between the Winedum 
and Saxons and Angles, and belongs to Denmark. 

''When he thitherward sailed from Sciringes-heale, Denmark was 
on his larboard, and on his starboard was a wide sea for three 
days ; and then two days before he came to Hsethum. Gothland 
was on his starboard, and Sillende and many islands ; on those 
lands the Engle dwelt before they came to this country ; and for 
two days the islands were on his larboard that belong to Denmark." 

This voyage of Ohthere presents us with an in- 
teresting and authentic picture of the manners and 
political state of a great portion of the north. The 
next is the voyage of Wulfstan towards the east of 
the Baltic. 

'^Wulfstan said, that he went from Haethum; that in seven 
days and nights he was in Truso ; that the ship was all the way 
running under sail. Weonothland was to him on the starboard, 
and on his larboard was Langaland and Leland, and Falster 
and Sconeg, and all these lands belong to Denmark ; and then 
Burgenda land was to us on the larboard, and they have to 
themselves a king. 

" Then after Burgenda land were to us those lands that wore 
called first Blecinga-eg and Meore, and Eowland and Gotland on 
the larboard. These lands belong to Sweon. Weonod-land was 
all the way to us on starboard to the mouth of the Wisla. The 
Wisla is a very great river, and towards it lieth Witland and 
Weonod-land. This Witland belongeth to the Estum, and the 
Wisla fiows out of Weonod-land, and flows in the East Lake. 
The East Lake is at least fifteen miles broad. 

"Then cometh the Bfing east into the East Lake. Truso 
stands on the banks of this lake^ and the Ilfing cometh out in 
East Lake, east of Eastlande, together with the Wisla south of 
Winodland ; and then Wisla takes away the name of Bfing, and 
tends west of this lake, and north into the sea ; therefore men call 
it the mouth of the Wisla. 

"This Eastlande is very large, and there be a great many 
towns, and in every town there is a king ; and there is a great 
quantity of honey and fisli. The king and the richest men drink 
tnare's milk, and the poor and the slaves drink mead. There be 


very many battles between them. There is no ale brewed amid chap. 
the Estum, but there is mead enough. ^ J ^'' 

" And there is a custom amid the Estum, that when there is * 
a man dead, he lieth within unbumt, a month amid his relations 
and friends — sometimes two months ; and the kings and the 
other principal men so much longer, as they have more wealth : 
sometimes they be half a year unbumt. They lie above the earth 
in their house, and all the while that the body is within, there 
shall be drink and plays until the dsj that they bum them. 

'^ Then the same day that they choose to bear them to the pile, 
his property that remains after this drink and play is divided into 
five or six parts, sometimes more, as the proportion of his wealth 
admits. They lay these along, a mile apart, the greatest portion 
from the town, then another, then a third, till it be all laid at one 
mile asunder ; and the least part shall be nearest to the town 
where the dead man lieth. 

"Then shall be collected all the men that have the swiftest 
horses in the land, for the way of five miles or six miles from the 
property. Then run they all together to the property. Then 
Cometh the man that hath the swiftest horse to the farthest portion 
and to the greatest, and so on one after the other, till all be taken 
away ; he taketh the least who is nearest the town, and i*uns to it ; 
then each rides away with his prize, and may have it all ; and 
because of this custom the swift horse is inconceivably dear. 

" And when the wealth is all thus spent, then they bear the 
man out and burn him, with his weapons and garments. Most 
frequently all his wealth is spent during the long lying of the 
dead man within. What they lay by the way, strangers run for 
and take it. 

"This is the custom with the Estum, that the men of every 
nation shall be burnt ; and if a man finds a bone unburnt, it much 
enrages him. There is with the Estum the power of producing 
cold, so that there the dead man may lie thus long and not be foul ; 
and they make such cold among them, that if any one sets two 
vessels full of ale or water, they so do that these shall be frozen 
the same in summer as in winter. ^^ 

The attachment of Alfred to history appears, from his histo- 
his translations of Orosius's Abridgment of the His- ledge. °°''' 
tory of the World, and of Bede's History of the 
Anglo-Saxon Nation, and from his short sketch of 
the History of Theodoric the Gothic king, by whose 
order Boetius was confined. ^^ But from the want 

'* For a commentary on this perlplus, the reader may consult 2 J^ngbeck*8 
Script Dan. pp. 106 — 123., and the notes of Mr. Foster added to Barrington*s Oro- 
sius. As it would occupy too large a portion of this work to do it justice, I have 
not attempted it here. 

»' Alf. Boet p. I. 


BOOK of proper books, Alfred's acquaintance with ancient 

' history appears, from his allusions to it in his 

Boetius^^, to have been but slight, and not always 


nif tram. His great historical work was his version of Bede's 


history into Saxon.^^ In this he omits or abridges 
sometimes single passages, and sometimes whole chap- 
ters. He frequently gives the sense of the Latin in 
fewer and simpler words ; but he for the most part 
renders his original with sufficient exactness. The 
style of the translation is more stately ^^ than the 
dialogues of his Boetius, and therefore has not the 
charm of their lively ease and graceful freedom ; but 
it shows the variety of his powers of composition. 
nu^Mtro. His attention to astronomy appears from his trans- 
lation of a metrum of Boetius, in which he rather 
imitates than translates his original, and expresses a 
few more astronomical ideas than he found there.^^ 

"Which of the unlearned wonder not at the journeying and 
swiftness of the firmament ? How he every day revolves round 
all this world, outside ! Or who does not admire that some stars 
have shorter revolutions than others have, as the stars have that 
we call the Waggon-shafts ? They have a short circuit, because 
they are near the north end of that axis on which all the firmament 
revolves. Or, who is not amazed, except those only who know it, 

" Thus he mentions, p. 39., Cicero's other names ; touches on the Trojan war, 
p. 114. ; on the Hydra, p. 126. ; notices Virgil, p. 140. ; and adds a few addi- 
tional circumstances, in other places, to the names of the persons mentioned by 

" ThU translation was formerly published by Wheloc, from three MSS., two at 
Cambridge, and one in the Cotton Library ; but the best edition of it is that ap- 
pended by Smith to his Latin Bede, CanUb. 1722, with the various readings and a 
few notes. Alfred's translation is mentioned by Elfric, who lived in 994, in his 
Anglo-Saxon Homily on St Gregory, "anb eac ijTonia Anslopum tha the 
AeJrneb cjrnms or Lcben on Coslirc apenb.** Elstob. Sax. Hom. p. 2. 

" Dr. Ilickes says of it, that neither Ca»sar nor Cicero ever wrote more perfectly 
in the middle species of composition. Pref. Gram. Angl. Sax. This is too warm 
an encomium for a translation. 

" The passage in Boetius is : ** If any one should not know that the stars of 
Arcturus glide near the pole ; or why Boetes slowly drives his wain, and immerges 
his fires late in the sea, while he urges rapid their ascent ; he will wonder at the 
law of the lofty sky. The horns of the full moon may grow pale, affected by the 
departure of the dark night, and Phebe, overshadowed herself, discovers the stars 
which her radiant face had concealed. A general error then disturbs the nations, 
and they tire their cymbals with ftwquent blows." 




that some stars have a longer circuit than others have, and the 
longest, those which revolve round the axis midwaj, as now 
Boetes doth ? So the planet Saturn comes not to where he was * 
before till about thirty winters. Or, who does not wonder at some 
stars departing under the sea, as some men think the sun doth, 
when she goeth to rest ? But she is not nearer the sea than she 
was at mid-day. Who is not amazed at this, that the full moon is 
covered over with darkness ? or, again, that the stars shine before 
the moon, but do not shine before the sun ? 

" They wonder at this^^ and many such like things, and do not 
wonder that men and all living animals have perpetual and un- 
necessary enmities betwixt themselves. Or, why should they 
wonder at this, that it sometimes thunders, and sometimes that 
there begins a conflict of the sea and the winds, and the waves 
and the land ? or why that this should be ; and again, that the 
sun should shine according to his own nature ? But the unsteady 
folk wonder enough at that which they most seldom see, though 
this is less surprising. They think that all else is but old creation, 
but that the casual is something new. Yet, when they become 
curious, and begin to learn, if God takes from their mind the folly 
that it was covered with before, then they wonder not at many 
things which now amaze them."^ 

This latter part, in which he has enlarged upon 
his concise original, shows how much his mind rose 
above the superstitions both of his own times and of 
the ancient world on the phenomena of nature. 

The additions which he has made to a passage in his botanu 
Boetius show that botany, as then known, had been udge?^''" 
an object of his attention and acquisition. The sen- 
tences in italics are the additions of Alfred, and 
evince that he had interested himself with studying 
the progress of vegetation, as far as its process was 
then known, and as its principles could from that 
knowledge be understood : — 

** I said, I cannot understand of any living thing ; of that which 
knows what it will and what it does not will, that uncompelled it 
should desire to perish ; because every creature wishes to be 
healthy and to live, of those that I think alive ; excepting that I 

" " Yet no one wonders that the breath of the north-west wind beats the shore 
with the raging wave, nor that the frozen mass of snow is dissolved by the fervour of 
Phebus. Ilere the mind is alert to perceive causes ; there the unknown disturbs 
it, and what is rare amazes the movable vulgar. Let the errors of ignorance depart 
with their clouds, and the wonderful cease to amaze/* Boet lib. iv. met 6. 

» Alf. Boet pp. 126, 126. 




nis tnmii- 
lation of 

know not how it maj be with trees and herbs, and such substances 
that have no souL 

** Then he smiled and said, * Thou needest not doubt it of these 
creatures, any more than of others. Hato I canst thou not see, 
that every herb and every tree grows on the richest land that best 
suits ity and that is natural and customary to it, and there it 
hastens to grow the most quickly, that it may, and the latest 
decays ? The soil of some herbs and some woods is on hills ; of 
some in marshes ; of some in moors ; of some on rocks ; some on 
bare sands. 

" * Take any wood or herb whatsoever thou wilt from the place 
that is its earth and country to grow on, and set it in a place un^ 
natural to it, then it will not grow there, but will fade away ; for 
the nature of every land is, that it nourishes like herbs and like 
trees ; and it so doeth, that it defends and sustains them very care^ 
fully, so long as it is their nature that they may grow. 

*' ' What thinkest thou f Hence every seed grows within the 
earth, and becometh grass and roots in the earth without. For 
this they are appointed, that the stem and the stalk may fasten 
and longer stand. 

'* ' Why canst thou not comprehend, though thou mayest not see 
it, that all the portion of these trees, which increases in twelve 
months, begins from their roots^ and so groweth upwards to the 
stem, and then along the pith, and along the rind to the stalk, and 
thence afterwards to the boughs, till it springs out into leaves, and 
blossoms, and fruit f 

" ' Why may you not understand, that every living thing is 
tenderest inward, and its unbroken outside the hardest ? Thou 
canst see how the trees are clothed without, and protected by their 
bark against winter, and against stark storms, and also against 
the sun*s heat in summer. Who may not wonder at such works 
of our Creator, and not less of their Creator f And though we 
may admire it now, which of us can properly explain our Creator's 
wiU and power, and how his creatures increase and again decline? 
When that time cometh, it occurs again, that from their seed they 
are renewed. They then become regenerated, to be what they 
then should be again, and become also in this respect alike : such 
they will be for ever,ybr every year their regeneration goes on.^^^^ 

The book written by Pope Gregory, for the in- 
struction of the bishops of the church, called his 
Liber Pastoralis Curae was much valued in Chris- 
tendom at that period. ^^ It was the best book at 
.that time accessible to Alfred, by which he could 


«« Alf. Boet pp. 89, 90. Boet lib. ill. pr. 1 1. 

*• Alcuin twice praises it. The council of Toledo ordered that it should be 
studied by all bishops. 


educate his higher clergy to fulfil their duties ^^ ; and chap. 
though it tends to make them too inquisitive into - 
human actions, and would insensibly lead them to 
erect a tyranny over the human mind, incompatible 
with its improvement or its happiness ; yet, as it con- 
tains many moral counsels and regulations, and was 
written by the Pope, who was called the Apostle of 
the English, and no other book was then at his hand 
which was equally popular or likely to be as effectual, 
it was an act of patriotism and philanthropy in the 
king to translate it.^ 

It was uot Alfred, but his bishop, Werefrith, who Diiiogoes 
translated the Dialogues of Gregory. The king di- ^ ®'*«^'"y* 
rected the translation, and afterwards recommended 
it to his clergy. ^^ The subjects are chiefly the 
miracles stated to be performed in Italy by religious 
men. They display the pious feeling of the age, 
but these words comprise almost the whole of their 
merit ; for the piety is unhappily connected with so 
much ignorance, superstition, credulity, and defective 
reasoning, that we are surprised it should have in- 
terested the attention of Alfred. But as it had not 
then been determined what was true, or what was 
false in history, geography, philology, or philosophy, 
criticism was not at that time practicable. The weight 
of evidence, the natural guide of the human belief, was 
then its only criterion ; and as Gregory professed to 
relate what he himself had known concerning perfect 
and approved men, or what he had received from 
the attestations of good and faithful persons, these 
legends seemed to have an adequate support of human 

* The MSa of it in the Cotton Library, Tiber, B. 11., was supposed to be the 
copy which Plegmund possessed. It Is nearly destroyed by Are. There is another 
ancient MS. of it in the Bodleian, Hatton, 88. 

^ Alfred had complained to Fulco, archbishop of Rhcims, that ** the ecclesiastical 
order, from the frequent irruptions and attacks of the Northmen, or from age, or 
the carelessness of the prelates and the ignorance of the people, had declined in 
many.** Ep. Fulc. p. 124. 

* Alfred's recommendation of this work appears in the preface which he prefixed 
to it, and which is printed by Wanley, p. 71., firom the Bodleian MS. Hatton, 100. 



BOOK testimony. We are now wise with the experience, 
' thought, reading, comparisons, and inferences of a 
thousand additional years ; and with this knowledge, 
the slowly-formed creation of so many centuries be- 
yond the time of Alfred, we can detect those errors 
of judgment and of vulgar tradition, which he had 
no materials that enabled him to question. Let us, 
however, not impeach our Anglo-Saxon ancestors for 
peculiar credulity, nor consider it as an index of 
their barbarism. They believed nothing on these 
points, but such things as came recommended to 
them by the analogous belief of the classical and 
Roman empire which had preceded them. What 
Athens and Rome alike supposed of the powers and 
agencies of their gods and goddesses, heroes, demons, 
and genii, the imperial Christians attributed to their 
saints and most venerated clergy. Pope Gregory 
was not more credulous in his religion than the Em- 
peror Julian was in his paganism ; or Apuleius, and 
perhaps even Lucian, in common with his age, of 
witchcraft. ^^ Philostratus, Jamblichus, Porphyry, 
Ammonius, and other heathen philosophers, of the 
third and fourth centuries, in their belief of the mi- 
racles achieved by the sages whom they patronised ^, 
were the precui'sors of the Catholic biographers oi 
their respected saints ; and our Alfred may be par- 

* Julian*s works show abundant evidences of bis credulity, and Lucian describes 
tbe powers of witchcraft as fully, and witb as much seriousness, as Apuleius. 

• See Phllostratus's Life of Apollonius Tyanieus, written by the desire of the 
empress of Scptimlus Severus, to be run against the life of our Saviour, and therefore 
written accordingly ; Jamblichus's Life of Pythagoras ; Porphyry's De Antro Nym- 
pharum, and other remains. It was such a favourite point with declining paganism 
to set up Apollonius against the Christian legislator, that in the reign of Dioclesian, 
when such a bitter war was waged against Christians, Uierocles, the intolerant pre- 
sident of Bithynia, took up his pen to maintain the superiority of the Tyanaan 
sophist. He was such a xealous defender of the pretended miracles which were 
now ascribed to this upheld competitor, above two centuries after his death, that 
both Eusebius and Lactantius thought it necessary to refute his exaggerating sup- 
porter. Some modem opponents of religion have emulated both the credulity and 
literary efforts of Hierocles In fiivour of the Tyanxan ; although time, the great 
decider between truth and falsehood, has long since verified the dying exclamation 
of Julian,*' Vicinti, Galiitte /" 


doned for following the stream, not only of his own 
age, but of the most cultivated classical periods, in 
believing such wonders on the authority of Gregory, 
which every age of the world had concurred to admit 
to be both practicable and practised by those whom 
its diflferent sects and parties revered. With such 
sanction, from both philosophical and popular belief, 
it then seemed irrational to doubt them.^^ One of 
Alfred's favourite objects was the moral improve- 
ment of his people. He wisely considered religion 
to be the most efficacious instrument of his bene- 
volence ; and Gregory's dialogues were as adapted to 
excite pious feelings at that time, as they would now 
operate rather to diminish them. We feel that piety 
allied with nonsense or with falsehood only degrades 
the Majestic Being whom it professes to extol. He 
whose wisdom is the most perfect intelligence and 
the fountain of all knowledge to us ; He whose crea- 
tions display a sagacity that has no limit but space, 
and which appears in forms as multifarious as the 
countless objects that pervade it; should be adored 
with our sublimest reason and knowledge united with 
our purest sensibility. Alfred possessed this noble 
feeling in its full aspiration, but he was compelled to 
use the materials which his age afforded. He chose 
the best within his reach, which was all that was with- 
in his power. That they were not better was his mis- 
fortune, but leaves no imputation on his judgment. 

In the Cotton Library there is an Anglo-Saxon Aifred'i 
MS. of some selections from St. Austin's solilo- ^"J^"!^ 
quies^^, or as the MS. expresses it, " The gathering ausud. 

'^ So much self-delusion and mistake have been connected with miracles ; so 
many are resolvable into accidents, natural agencies, imagination, false perceptions, 
erroneous judgments, and popular exaggeration, independent of wilful falsehood, 
that the cautious mind will believe none but those mentioned in the Scriptures, as 
no others have that accumulation of evidence, both direct and inferential, which 
impresses these upon our belief. 

" It is in Vitellius, A. 16. After three pages of preface, It says, •« Ansufrmnr 
Captama biceop pojihce fpa bxc be bif esnuro s^thance ; tba b«c pot sehatene 





nU Bible. 

His iEsop. 

of the flowers," from St. Austin's work. At the end 
of these flowers is this imperfect sentence : " Here 
end the sayings that king Alfred selected from those 
books that we call "^ Here the MS. terminates. 

Malmsbury mentions that Alfred began to trans- 
late the Hymns of David, but that he had hardly 
finished the first part when he died.^^ There are 
many MSS. of the Anglo-Saxon translation of the 
Psalter extant ^^ ; but it is not in our power to dis- 
criminate the performance of Alfred. 

That the king translated the Bible or Testament 
into Anglo-Saxon has been stated on some autho- 
rities, but the selections which he made for his own 
use appear to have been confounded with a general 

In the Harleian Library there is a MS. of a trans- 
lation of fables styled jEsop's, into French romance 
verse. At the conclusion of her work, the aifthoress *^ 

roliliquioiuim, tba if be mobcf rmeaunse "j tpeounsa>" The first part closes as 
*' lep enbiatb rbe blojxman rbejie ropman bocuin ;*' and the next part begins 
with ** aep opismth feo sabo uns tbepe blorcmena tbepe srcepan bee*' MS. 
p. 41. 

"* Acp enbiatb tba cpibaf the eirpeb Kinins al«r or tbaepe baec the pe ha- 

tatb on MS. p. 56. Wanley says of this MS. '* Tractatos iste quondam fiiit 

ecclesie, B. Maris de Suwika ut patet ex fol. 2. litteris Normanno-Saxonicis post 
conquaestum scriptus,*' p. 218. A transcript of this MS. made by Junius is in the 
Bodleian Library, Jun. 70., and this has the same abrupt ending. Wanley, 96. 

** Psalterium transferre aggressus vix prima parte explicata vivendi finem fecit. 
Malmsb. 45. 

** Wanley says, p. 182., there is a MS. very elegantly written about the time of 
Ethelstan, which contains Jerome's Latin Psalter, with an interlineary Saxon ver- 
sion. In the King*s Library. Tbere is another interlineary version in the Cotton 
Library, Vesp. A. 1., written 1000 years ago, very elegantly, in capital letters. 
Wanley, 222. There is another written before the conquest in Tiberius, 0.6. 
p. 234. This contains many figures of musical instruments, alleged to be Jewish, 
and several coloured drawings on religious subjects. There is another interlineary 
version in the Lambeth Library, written in Edgar's reign, or a little before, which 
contains the curious and valuable addition of ancient musical notes. Wanley, 268. 
Spelman has published an Anglo-Saxon Psalter. 

** Flor. Wig. says, that in 887, on the Feast of Saint Martin, he began it It is 
clear, on comparing the passages, that he only meant what Asser had mentioned, 
p. 57., that he then began to translate some parts. The history of Ely asserts, that 
he translated all the Bible ; but Boston of Bury says, that it was " almost all the 
Testament." Spelman*s Life, p. 213. Yet as no MSS. of such a work have been 
seen, we cannot accredit the fact beyond the limits mentioned in the text. 

" This authoress was Mary, an Anglo-Norman poetess. She states herself to have 
been bom in France, and she seems to have visited England. The thirteenth 
volume of the Archftologia* published by the Antiquarian Society, contains a di8« 
sertation upon her life and writings, by the Abb^ La Rue, pp. 36—67. 


asserts that Alfred the kine: translated the fables aiAP. 

• • • HI 

from the Latin into English, from which version 
she turned them into French verse. ^ Mary, the 
French translator, lived in the thirteenth century. 
The evidence of her assertion as to Alfred being the 
EngUsh translator of the fables, can certainly only 
have the force of her individual belief; and as this 
belief may have been merely founded on popular 
tradition, it cannot be considered as decisive evi- 
dence. Such an assertion and belief, however, of an 
authoress of the thirteenth century, must be allowed 
to have so much weight as to be entitled to notice 
here.^^ The completest MS. of Mary's translation 
contains a hundred and four fables, out of which 
thirty-one only are ^Esop's.*^ 

But it would seem that Alfred's extensive mind 
had even condescended to write on one of the rural 

" Mary's words are : — 

" Por amur le cunte Willarac 

Le plus vaillant de nul realme 

Meintenur de cest livre feire 

E del Engleis en romans treire 

.£9ope apelum cest llvre 

Qull translata e fist escrire 

Del griu en Latin le tuma 

LI reis Alurez qui mut Tama 

Le translata puis en Engleis. 

£ ieo la rimee en Francels.** 

HarL MS. 978. p. 87. 
** Mons. La Bue thinks, that Alfired was not the author of the English translation 
which Mary used. His reasons are by no means conclusive : 1st Asser mentions 
no translations of Alfred's, and therefore his omission of .£sop is of no consequence. 
2d. Though Malmsbury does not particularise ^sop among the translations he 
enumerates, this argument is indecisive, because Malmsbury expressly states, that 
the king translated more books than those which he enumerates. His words are, 

** Denique plvrimam partem Romans Bibliothece Anglorum auribus decit, 

cujus praeipui sunt libri Orosius,** &c. Malmsbury only names the chief of his 
translations ; a monk would hare hardly ranked .£sop in tbb honourable class. 
Sd. The abba's doubt, whether Mary could, in the thirteenth century, have under- 
stood Alfred's language, is of no great force, because we cannot think it unlikely 
that there should be persons in England who knew both Norman and Saxon, or 
that Mary should have learnt Saxon if she wished it 4th. As to the feudal ex- 
pressions which Mary uses, as we have not the English MSS. which she translated, 
and therefore cannot know what were the actual expressions in that, I think no 
argument can be rested on them. Alfined, in his Boetius, puts king in one place, 
and heretogas in another, fbr Roman consuls. 
* Archseologla, p. 53. 



BOOK sports of his day ; for in the catalogue of MSS. which 
' in 1315 were in the Christ Church library we find a 
treatise of this king on keeping hawks mentioned. 
" Liber Alured, regis de custodiendis accipitribus." ^ 
This book corresponds with the fact mentioned by 
Asser, that Alfred was accustomed " to teach his 
falconers and hawkers, and hound-trainers." ^ 

It has been declared that the Parables of Alfred 
had great edification, beauty, pleasantry, and noble- 
ness.^ It is a great loss to our curiosity, perhaps 
to our education, that we have not these tales, or 
moral apologues, which were existing in the reign of 
Henry the Second.** 

Alfred is also praised for his excellence in prover- 
bial sajdngs.*^ Some collections of this sort have 
been noticed by his biographer, Spelman, which may 
l)erhaps contain some of his ideas, as they were pre- 
served by tradition, and in a later age committed to 
writing; but they are probably not wholly in the 
phrases of his own composition.*^ 

Of Alfred's manual or memorandum book, which 
wi^oins to have existed in Malmsbury's days*^, and 

♦• WnnlryVi prcfiicc. « Asser, 43. 

*^ No \\\p M8S. rhroo. Join. Ozenedes says : — 

•• ISttHilMili^ i^un |>)urimum habentes ediflcationis, yentistatis, jocunditatis et nobili- 
Irtlli/' K\\X\. \A\\ MSS. Nero, D. 2. 

** Alii N(i>v.* who then lived, declares, *< i?jrtaNlparabol«ejus,** &c, using nearly 
|h»> "nttu* wimli an Oxenedes, p. 366. 

** •• Ih |tiMVt>rUUii tU enltult ut nemo post Ulurn ampUua.** Ann. EccL Wint 
I K\s^\. ^\'\%k )K t^\y> Some of these are noticed in the old English dialogue be- 
|«^iM«H \\\p (»w) l^\^^\ ihr nightingale. 

** ( MlK of thiMiis (ht^ VfWi likely to be AlAwd^s, may be seen in Dr. Hickes^s Anglo- 
N4«Mli (4h«inHMl'i \^^ ttHH. The other, which suits better Alfred*s wisdom, has been 
MttMtMit h^ N|t«>lhiau, 111 hU \»\h of AlAned, and translated fh>m the MS. in tlie Cotton 
lillttM^r- ^^^ IK P4> ^^ WalkcrVi edition, and 127. of Heame's. Spelman's extracts 
»HH|r t)M tttiMii vnluriU MM i\\t KW\%\\\ MS. of Oalba, A. 19., was ruined by the fire 
Hftltit (tttvlHt^riMl \\\\w\i vmIiimMv antiquity. 

*^ MnltMvlMtfir'p iiify>ivmH>« to thts, show that it was not a mere receptacle for 
i\¥im\ iillhli'Ni iMit WM mthiT a iteneral common-place book; for hedtes flnom it 
M0^«* (MM* Mf liliiMhiMliyt Nltit olMH^rvalUmt on a piece of poetry. «' Qui enim legit 
mnHHi^\¥m MIimimi I¥«|U KlfltHll, tviicrtet Kenterum Beati AldheUni patrum non 
fiH«Mi f^i^U httfi MfritiHlUHH Mfil aiH*ltwilma necessitudine consanguiueum,** lib. v. 
Ih Vmk, fl4)i AmnIMi «)MitlilHM uf AUIhclm, he sa>'s, he cultivated Anglo-Saxon 


which would have been such a curiosity to modem chap. 
times, not even a remnant has been found. . '"' . 

The genius of Alfred was not confined to litera- his ta.*tc in 
ture : it also extended to the arts ; and in three of "** "^ 
these, architecture, ship-building, and gold and silver 
workmanship, he obtained an excellence which corre- 
sponded with his other talents. 

Asser mentions, " that he caused edifices to be Architcc- 
constructed from his own new designs, more venerable *""*' 
and precious than those which his predecessors had 
raised." ^^ These not only consisted of halls and 
royal apartments, made of wood or stone, in pur- 
suance of his directions, to the surprise of his con- 
temporaries: but he also formed cities and towns, 
some of which he repaired, and others built ; some he 
destroyed on their ancient sites, to raise them of 
stone, in positions more useful and appropriate.*^ 
He was so earnest in these improvements, that he 
procured from many nations numerous artificers, 
versed in every sort of building, and he regularly 
appropriated a sixth of his yearly revenues to pay 
their expenses, and remunerate their labour.^ 

His talent and cultivation of naval architecture sbip- 
have been already noticed. ^""***"«- 

He also taught his artisans and workers in gold^^, workman- 
and by his instructions occasioned many things to be ^Ij.^" 
incomparably executed (we use the epithet of his 

poetry, *< Adeo ut, teste libro Elftrdi, de quo superius dixi, nullo unquam aetate par 
ei fuerit quisquam poesio AnKlicam posse facere, tantura componere, eadem apposite 
vel canere vel dicere. Denique commemorat EIAredus carmen triviale quod adhuc 
vulgo cantitatur Aldbelraum feclsse.*' By the next paragraph, Alftvd seems to have 
reasoned upon the sul^ect His manual was therefore the repository of his own 
occasional literary reflections : for Malmsbury adds, speaking still of Alf^*ed, ** Ad- 
jiciena cautam qua probet rationabiliterf tantum virum his qu» videantur frivola, 
instituisse populum eo tempore semibarbarum, parum divinis sermonibus intentum, 
statim cantatis missis, cursitare solitum,** p. 342. 

^ ** £t ledificia supra omnem antecessorum suorum consuetudinem venerabiliora 
et pretiosiora nova sua machinatione facere.** Asser, 43. 

« Asser, 58. " Ibid. 66- 

" Ibid. 43. 

G 2 

64 msjxmi cf the 

tf^^ ccmtempanrj) in gdd and atrer.^ Chie spramen 
- / - c^ hh talent in this art yet exists to os in a jewd of 
gold, fiiiich was found near Athelnqr.^ 

In the less TaloaUe purmits of faontingy Cdconiy, 
hawldngy and conning, he was ako disdngaished.^ 



AlfbedV Poetical Composition. 

To the other accomplishments of his mind Alfred ch^^- 
endeavoured to add that of poetry. Fond of Saxon 
poems from his infancy, he found a pleasure in at- 
tempting to compose them; and the metrums of 
Boetius afforded him the opportunity of practising 
his powers of language in this interesting art. 

The great characteristic of Saxon versification was 
the position of a few words in short lines, with a 
rhythmical effect. As far as we can now discern, there 
were no rules of artificial prosody to be observed ; but 
the ear was to be gratified by a rhythm or musical 
effect in the pronunciation ; and any brief sequence of 
syllables that would produce this pleasure was used 
and permitted. 

It would be presumptuous, now that the Anglo- 
Saxon has so long ceased to be spoken, to decide 
peremptorily on the merit of Alfred's versification, 
which must have depended so much on the colloquial 
tones and cadences of his day. But as far as can be 
judged from a comparison of it with the compositions 
of Cedmon, the odes in the Saxon Chronicle, and the 
poem on Beowulf, it has not their general strength 
and fulness of rhythm. Though at times sufficiently 
successful, it is weaker and less elevated than their 
style, and is not often much more musical than his 
own prose. Of its poetical feeling and mind we can 
better judge, as he has translated the metrums also 
into prose ; and it may be said, without injustice, 
that his verse has less intellectual energy than his 

o 3 


BOOK prose. The diction is amplified to admit of its being 
made nearer to poetry, but it is rather diluted than 
improved. Here and there a few expressions of greater 
vigour occur, but, in general, the prose is not only 
more concise, but also more spirited and more clear. 

Yet it is only in comparison with his own prose 
that the merit of Alfred's poetry is thus questioned. 
His superior intellect in imitating and emulating, and 
sometimes passing beyond his original, has given it 
a value of thought and feeling, an infusion of moral 
mind, and a graceful ease of diction, which we shall 
look for in vain, to the same degree and effect, among 
the other remains of the Anglo-Saxon poetry. 

The reader who compares the description of the 
Golden Age, and the stories of Eurydice and Circe, 
inserted before from Alfred's prose, with his transla- 
tions of the same into verse, will perceive that his 
poetry has not increased their interest. They are too 
long to be inserted here. But it will be a just respect 
to his memory to insert some of his other versifica- 
tions of the metrums of Boetius, as specimens of the 
usual style of his poetical diction. He has so ampli- 
fied and varied his originals as to make much of them 
his own compositions. The amount of the poetry of 
the king's mind will best appear from comparing the 
following effusions with the originals in Boetius, 
which arc also given : — 


Alfred. Boetius. 

Thou mlghtc«t of tlio sun With black clouds hidden, no 

MftnlfdjMtly think ; light can the stars emit. Lib. i. 

And of all the other stars ; met. 7. 

Of those that l>chind cities 
Bhine the brightest, 
'lliat if before them wan 
The atmospliere should hang, 
TIm'v cannot then 
KencI forth the beams of their 

While the thick mist prevails. 



If the rolling sea the turbid 
south wind should mingle, the 
wave, before glassj and serene, 
sordid with diffused mud, would 
obstruct the sight. Lib. L met. 7. 

So often the mild sea, 
Clear as grey glass. 
The southern wind 
Grimlj disturbs ; 
Then mingle 
The mightj waves : 
The great whales rear up. 
Then rough that become.s 
Which b^ore serene 
Was to the sight 

So often a spring As wandering from the loftj 

Wells up from a hoary cliff, mountains, the devious river is 

Ck>ol and clear, often resisted by the obstructing 

And flows spaciously right on. stone, loosened from the rock. 

It runneth over the earth Ibid. 

Till itjgets within it 

Great stones from the mountains 

And in the midst of it 
Lie, trundled 
From the rock. 
In two parts afterwards 
It becomes divided. 
The transparent is disturbed ; 
The streams mingle ; 
The brook is turned aside 
From its right course, 
Flowing into rivers. 


So now the darkness 

Of thy heart 

WiU of my Ught 

The doctrine withstand, 

And thy mind's thoughts 

Greatly disturb. 

But if now thou desirest 

ThaJb thou mayest well 

This true light clearly know ; 

To believe in that light 

Thou must dismiss 

The idle excess of riches : 

Unprofitable joy. 

Thou must also the evil 

Fear wholly dismiss 

Of the world's difliculties. 

Nor must thou be for them 

At all in despair : 

Nor do thou ever let 

Prosperity weaken thee ; 

If thou also wilt, with a clear 
light, behold the truth, in the 
right path direct your steps: 
drive away joys ; drive away fear; 
chase hope. Ibid. 

Q 4 



BOOK Alfred. 

V. Lest thon shouldst become, 
V ' With arrogance from that, 

Again confounded ; 

And be too elevat^ 

Bj the enjoyments 

(^ this world's riches. 

Nor, again, too weakly 
Despair of anj good 
When in the world. 
Adversity of most things 
Oppresses thee ; 
And thou thyself 
Most strongly pressest forwards. 
Because always is 
The mind's thought 
Much bound with sorrow 
If these evils can disturb it 
With which it struggles within. 
Because both these two 
Draw together, over the mind 
The mists of error ; 
So that on it the eternal sun 
May not hence shine upon it 
On account of the black mists 
Before that it has become strength- 
ened. P. 165. 


Nor let grief be present. The 
mind is in a cloud, and bound 
with chains where these reign. 
Lib. L met. 7. 


The citixens of earth, 

Inliabitatitii of the around. 

All hml 

One liko huffiriiiiit^. 

llMiy of two only 

All ciiuui \ 

Mitn ami woiimn, 

Within tiMt wtiiUl 

And iUi*.y almi iiuw yt^t 

All uilk«t 

Cututi ifitii iUtt wfii'iil 

The Mplttndid niu{ tlin lowly. 

This U no wonchir, 

BticttUHo all know 

That there is one Go<l 

Of all creatures ; 

Lord of mankind : 

Father and the Creator. 

All the human race arises on 
the earth from a like origin. 
There is one father of events : 
one administers all things. 



He the 8un*8 light 
Giveth from the heavens ; 
The moon, and this 
Of the greater stars. 

He made 

Men on the earth ; 

And united 

The soul to the bodj. 

At the first beginning 

The folk under the i^ies 

He made equally noble ; 

Every sort of men. 

Why then do ye ever 

Over other men 

Thus arrogate 

Without cause ? 

Now you do not find 

Any not noble. 

Why do ye from nobility 

Now exalt yourselves ? 

In his mind let 

Every one of men 

Be rightly noble. 

As J have mentioned to thee» 

The inhabitants of the earth 

Nor only in the flesh ; 

But yet every man 

That is by all 

His vices subdued 

First abandons 

His origin of life, 

And his own 

Nobility from himself; 

And also which the Father 

At the beginning made for him. 

For this, will 

The Almighty God 

Unnoble him ; 

That he noble no more 

Thenceforth might be, 

In the world ; 

Nor come to glory. P. 171. 

He gave to Phcebns his rays, 
and to the moon her horns. 



He gave men to the earth, and 
the stars to the sky. He in- 
closed in limbs the minds sought 
from the lofty seat Therefore 
he made all mortals a noble race. 

Why do you clamour on your 
birth and ancestors ? If you con- 
sider your beginning and your 
author, God, no one exists that 
is not noble. Lib. iii. met. 6. 


Hear now one discourse 
Of those proud. 

The kings whom you see sit- 
ting on the lofty elevation of the 
throne, splendid with their shin- 




Kings of tbe earth. 
That now here with many 
And various garments^ 
Bright in beautj, 
Wondrouslj shine 
On high seats ; 
Cloth^ in gold 
And jewels. 

Without these stand around 
Thcgns and earls 
That are adorned 
With warlike decorations ; 
Illustrious in battle ; 
With swords and belts 
Very glittering ; 
And who attend him 
With great glory. 
They threaten every where 
The surrounding 
Other nations ; 
And the lord careth not, 
That governs this army, 
For either friends' or enemies' 
Life or possessions ; 
But he, a fierce mind. 
Rests on every one, 
Likest of any thing 
To a fierce hound. 
He is exalted 
Within in his mind 
For that power 
That to him every one 
Of his dear princes 
Gives and supports. 

If men then would 
Wind ofi* from him 
These kingly ornaments, 
Each of his garments. 
And him then divest 
Of that retinue 
And that power 
That he before had. 
Then thou shouldest see 
That he would be very like 
Some of those men 
That most diligently 
Now, with their services, 
Plress round about him. 


ing purple; hedged with dismal 
weapons ; threatening with grim 
countenance ; breathless with the 
rage of the heart. 

If from these proud ones any 
one should draw aside the cover- 
ing of their gaudy apparel, he 
will see that the lords are bound 
with chains within. 


Alfred. Boeiius. CHAP. 

If he be not worse IV- 

I think he will be no better. 
If to him then ever, 
Unexpectedly^ chance should 

That he should be deprived 
Of that glory, and garments, 
And retinue, and that power 
That we have spoken about ; 
If from him any of these things 
Were taken away, 
I know that he would think 
Then he was crawling in a prison, 
Or indeed bound with ropes. 

I can assert For here greedy lust pours 

That from this excess of every venom on their hearts : here tur- 

thing bid anger, raising itsVaves, lashes 

Of food and clothes, wine, the mind ; or sorrow wearies her 

drinks, captives ; or deceitful hope tor- 

And sweetmeats, ments them. 

Most strongly would increase 
Of that luxuriousness 
The great furious course. 
Much disturbed would be 
His intellectual mind. 
To every man 
Thence must come 
Extraordinary evils. 
And useless quarrels ; 
Then they become angry. 
To them it happens in their 

That within are afflicted. 
Their thoughts in their minds 
With this strong fire 
Of hot-heartedness, 
And afterwards fierce sorrow 
Also bindeth them 
Hard imprisoned. 
Then afterwards beginneth 
Hope to some 
Greatly to lie 

About that revenge of battle 
Which the anger desireth 
Of one and of the other, 
It promises them all 
Which their contempt 
Of right may enjoin. 





I told thee before Since, then, joa see that one 
In this same book, head has so many tjiants, press- 
That of the various creatures ed bj their iniquitous swaj, it 

Each single one 

Some good 

Always desired 

From his own 

Ancient nature ; 

But the unrighteous 

Kings of the earth 

Cannot ever 

Accomplish any good 

From the evil 

That I have mentioned. 

It is no wonder, 

Because they love the vices 

Which I named before. 

And to which only 

They are always subject. P. 186. 

performs not what it wishes. 
Lib. iv. met. 2. 



What will the rich man be, 
The worldlv, covetous one, 
In liis mind the better. 
Though he should much pos- 
Of gold and gems 
And of every good : 
Possessions mnumorablo ; 
And for him men 
Should plough every day 
A thousand acres ? 

Though this world 

And this race of men 

Should be under the sun 

South, west, and east. 

To his power 

All subjected. 

He could not 

Of these acquisitions 

Hence lead away 

From this world 

Any thing more 

Pf his treasured property 

~ he hither brought. P. 169. 

Though the rich miser should 
be in a Sowing whirlpool of gold 
he could not satisfy his appetite 
for wealth. Let him adorn his 
neck with the berries of the Bed 
Sea, and cleave his rich soils 
with a hundred oxen. 

Biting cares will not quit him 
while he lives, nor can his trivial 
riches accompany him when dead. 
Lib. iii. met. 3. 




He that would 

Possess power 

Then let him first toil 

That he of his self 

In his mind have 

Power within ; 

Unless he ever 

Would be to his vices 

Entirely subjected : 

Let him expel from his mind 

Manj of those 

Various anxieties 

That to him are useless : 

Let him dismiss some 

Of his complaints and miseries. 

Though to him should 
All this worldy 
So as the great streams 
Surround it without^ 
Be given to his possession, 
Even so wide 
Als now westmost is, 
Where an island lieth 
Out on the ocean ; 
Li which is no 
Night in summer, 
Nor more in winter 
Of any day 

Distinguished by time ; 
Which is called Tile. 
Though now any alone 
Governed all 
To this island ; 
And also thence 
To India eastward ; 
Though he now all that 
Might possess, 
Why should his power be 
Aught the greater 
If he afterwards hath not 
Power over himself 
In his thoughts. 
And does not earnestly 
Guard himself well 
In words and deeds 
Against the vices 
That we before have mentioned 
P. 170. 


Boeiius, iv. 

He that would be powerful let ' 
him tame his fierce mind, nor 
submit to foul reins his neck 
bowed down by lust. 

For though the 'remote Indian 
earth should tremble at thy com- 
mand, and farthest Thule serve 
thee, yet it is not in their power 
to expel gloomy care, nor to 
drive away your miserable com- 
plaints. Lib. iii« met 5. 





I have wings 
Swifter than the birds : 
With them I can flj 
Far from the earth, 
Over the high roof 
Of this heaven. 
And there I now must 
Wing thj mind, 
With my feathers,* 
To look forth 
Till that thou mayest 
This world 

And every earthly thing 
Entirely overlook : 
Tliou mayest over the skies 
8port with thy wings, 
Vkr up over 
The heavens to wind 
Afterwards to view 
Above over alL 
Thou mnyost also go 
Above the fire 
1'hnt nmny years ascends far 
Dctwixt the air and the firma- 
Ho as to it at the beginning 
The Father appointed. 

That thou mayest afterwards 

With the Sun 

Go betwixt 

The other stars. 

Thou mightest full soon 

In the firmament 

Above afterwards advance ; 

And then continuously 

To the coldest 

Only star 

That outmost is 

Of all the stars. 

This Sat urn us 

The inhabitants of the sea call 

Under the heavens. 

He is the cold 

All icy planet. 

He wanders outmost 

I have rapid wings that can 
ascend the hdghts of die pole, 
which the swift mind puts on 
when she looks down on the 
hated earth : surmonnts the 
globe of the immense air, and 
sees the clouds behind her. 

Warmed by the motion of the 
agile odtlier, it transcends the 
vortex of fire, till it rises to the 
star-bearing domes, and touches 
on the paths of Phoebus. 

Or it may accompany the 
journey of the chill old man, as 
a soldier of the radiant star; 
or shining wherever night is 
painted, it may retrace the circle 
of the star; and when suffi- 
ciently satiated, it may leave the 
extremity of the pole, and par- 
taker of the revered light, press 
towards the summit of the swift 



Over all, 

Above the other stars. 
Afterwards thou then 
From this may upheave thyself 
To go forth ; 

Thou mayest proceed farther : 
Then wouldest thou afterwards 

Ascend above the firmament 
In its swift course. 
If thou goest on right 
Thou wouldest then the highest 
Heaven leave behind. 
Then mightest thou afterwards 
Of the true light 
Have thy portion.' 
Whence the Only King 
Widely governs, 
Above the firmament. 
And below ; 

And in like manner rules 
All the creatures 
Of the world. 

This is the Wise King, 

This is he that governs 

Over the nations of men, 

And all the other 

Kings of the earth. 

He with his bridle 

Hath restrained around 

All the revolutions 

Of earth and heaven. 

He his governing reins 

Well coerces. 

He governs ever 

Through his strong might 

All the swift cars 

Of heaven and earth. 

He the only judge is steadfast, 


Beauteous, and great. 

If thou turnest right in thy 

Up to that country. 
Thou wilt find it 
A noble place : 
Though thou now yet 
Hast not obtained it. 



Here the Lord of Kings holds 
the sceptre and governs the reins 
of the world, and, stable himself, 
rules the swift car, the splendid 
arbiter of things. 

If that road should meet thee 
returning, which now forgetful 
you inquire for, you may say : — 




If thou ever again 
There canst come. 
Then wilt thou say, 
And soon declare : — 



This is entirely 
Mj own kindred, 
Earth, and country* 
Formerly from hence 
I came, and was bom 
Through the might of this ar- 
I will never 
Depart hence from it, 
But I always here 
WiU sofdy 

With my wings desire 
Firmly to stand." 

If to thee then 

It should ever again happen, 

That thou wilt or must 

The world's darkness 

Again try ; 

Thou mightest easily look on 

The unrighteous kmgs of the 

And the other arrogant rich, 
That this weary folk 
Worst torment. 
And see that always 
They be very wretched ; 
In every thing ; 
Even the same 
That they, wretched folk, 
Some wlule now 
Most strongly dreaded. P. 184. 

" I remember that this is my 
country : this is my birth-place : 
here I will rest." 

If you should like to revisit 
the earthly night you have left, 
you would see what fierce ban- 
ished tyrants the miserable peo- 
ple fear. Lib. iv. met. 1 . 


O children of men, 
Over the world ! 
Every one of the free ! 
Try for that eternal good 
That we have spoken of. 
And for those riches 
That we have mentioned. 
He that then now is 
Narrowly bound 
With the useless love 

Hither come all ye captives, 
whom deceitful desire, blunting 
your earthly minds, binds in its 
vicious chains ! 



Of this large world, 
Let him seek speedily 
Full freedom. 
That he may advance 
To the riches 
Of the soul's wisdom. 

Because this is 

The only rest of all labours ; 

A desirable port 

To high ships ; 

Of our mind 

The great and mild habitation. 

This is the only port 

That will last for ever ; 

After the waves 

Of our troubles, 

Of every storm, 

Always mild. 

This is the place of peace. 

And the only comforter 

Of all distresses. 

After this world's troubles. 

This is the pleasant station 

After these miseries 

To possess. 

And I earnestly know 

That the gilded vessel. 

The silvery treasure, 

The stone fortress of gems, 

Or riches of the world 

To the mind's eye 

Can never bring any light. 

Nothing can recompense 

Its acuteness. 

But the contemplation 

Of the truer riches ; 

But such things strongly 

The mind's eye 

Of every one of men 

Blind in their breast. 

When they to it 

Are made brighter. 

But all things 

That in this present 

Life so please. 

Are slender, 

Earthly things. 

And to be fled from. 




Here will be the rest to your 
labours. Here, the serene port ; 
a tranquil abode. Here, the only 
asylum open to the wretched. 

Not all that Tagus may give 
in its golden sands, or Hermus 
from its glittering bank, or Indus 
near the warm circle mingling 
green gems with white, can en- 
lighten the sight ; but they make 
the mind more bUnd from their 
darkening effects. 

Whatever of these pleases 
and excites the mind, earth 
nourishes in its lowest caverns. 




BOOK Alfred. 

y. But wonderful is that 
Bcautj and brightness, 
Which every creature 
With beautj illuminates^ 
And after that 
Governs all : 
This Governor will not 
That we should destroy 
Our souls, 

But he himself will them 
Enlighten with light ; 
The Ruler of Hfe. 

If then any man 

With the clear eyes 

Of his mind, 

May ever behold 

Of heaven's light 

The lucid brightness, 

Then he will say, 

That the brightness of the sun 

Will be darkness. 

If any man 

Should compare it 

With the superior light 

Of God Ahnighty. 

That wiU be to every spirit 

Eternal without end ; 

To happy souls.— P. 181, 182. 

The radiance by which Hea- 
ven is governed and flourishes, 
shuns the obscured ruins of the 

Whoever can remark this 
light will deny the beams of 
Phoebus their lustre. lib. iii. 
met. 10. 


O thou Creator ! 

Of the shining stars ; 

Of heaven and the earth : 

Thou on high throne 

Eternal govemest, 

And thou swiftly all 

The heaven turnest round, 

And through thy 

Holy might 

Compellest the stars 

That they should obey thee. 

Thus the sun 

Of the black night 

The darkness extinguishes 

Through thy might. 

With pale light 
The bright planets 

Oh Framer of the starry 
world ! who, resting on thy per- 
petual throne, turnest the heaven 
with a rapid whirl, and compel- 
lest the stars to endure a law. 
Lib. L met. 5. 

As now the moon, with her 
full horn of light imbibing all 



The moon tempers 
Through the effect of thy 

A while also the sun 
Bereaveth that of its 
Bright light 
When it may happen 
That near enough 
It necessarily comes. 

So the greater 

Morning star 

That we with another name 

The even star 

Here named : 

Thou compellest this 

That he the sun's 

Path should precede, 

Every year 

He shall go on 

Before him to advance. 

Thou, O Father, 

Makest of summer 

The long days 

Very hot. 

To the winter days, 

TVondrously short 

Times hast thou appointed. 

Thou, to the trees 

Givest the south and west, 

Which before, black storms 

From the north and east 

Had deprived 

Of every leaf 

By tlie more hostile wind. 

Oh ! how on earth 
All creatures 
Obey thy command. 
As in the heavens 
Some do 

In mind and power. 
But men only 
Against thy will 
Oftenest struggle. 
Hail ! Oh thou Eternal, 
And thou Almighty, 
Of all creatures 


her brother's flames, hideth the 
lesser stars : now pale with ob- 
scure horn, nearer to Fho&bus 
loses her lustre. 

As Hesperus in the first hours 
of night emerges with chilling 
beams; and again as the morn- 
ing star, when Phoebus rises, 
changes his accustomed rule. 

Thou, with the cold of the 
leaf-fiowing frost, confinest the 
light to a shorter stay: thou, 
when the fervid summer shall 
come, dividest the active hours 
of the night. 

Thy power tempers the va- 
rious year, so that the leaves 
which the breath of Boreas takes 
away, the mild zephyr re-clothes; 
and the seeds which Arcturus 
beheld, Sirius bums in their tall 

Nothing, forsaking its ancient 
law, quits the work of its own 
station. Governing all things 
with a certain end. Thou, de- 
servedly our ruler ! disdainest to 
restrain the actions of men only. 

u 2 




Creator and ruler. 
Pardon thy wretched 
Children of the earth, 
In the course of thy might 

Why, O eternal Gk)d ! 

Wouldest thou ever 

That fortune 

At her will 

Should go 

To evil men ? 

That in every way so strongly 

She full oft 

Should hurt the guiltless. 

Evil men sit 

Over the earth's kingdoms 

On high seats. 

They tread down the holy 

Under their feet 

Who know no crimes. 

Why should fortune 
Move so perversely ? 
Thus are hidden 
Here on the world 
Over many cities 
The bright arts. 
The unrighteous always 
Have in contempt 
Those that are, than them 
Wiser in right ; 
Worthier of power. 
The false lot is 
A long while 
Covered by frauds. 

Now, in the world here, 

Impious oaths 

Hurt not man. 

If thou now, O Ruler, 

Wilt not steer fortune, 

But at her self-will 

Lettest her triumph, 

Then I know 

That thee will 

Worldly men doubt 

Over the parts of the globe, 

Except a few only. 


Why should slippery fortune 
take so many turns ? Noxious 
pain due to crime presses the in- 

But perverse manners sit on 
the lofty throne, and the guilty 
tread on the righteous necks by 
an unjust change. 

Virtue hidden in obscurity 
lives unseen, bright in its dark- 
ness. The just endure the crime 
of the wick^. 

These, no perjury, no fraud, 
dressed with falsehood, hurt; 
but when they choose to use 
their strength, they rejoice to 
subdue the greatest kings, whom 
innumerable people fear. 



Oh, my Lord ! 
Thoa that overseest all 
Of the world's creatures, 
Look now on mankind 
With mild eyes. 
Now they here in many 
Of the world's waves 
Struggle and labour, 
Miserable earth citizens ! 
Forgive them now. — P. 153. 

O now behold thy wretched 
earth, who connectest the union 
of all things. We mankind, not 
a vile part of so great a work, 
are shaken by the sea of fortane. 
O Ruler, repress the rapid waves, 
and with the law that rules the 
immense heaven, keep steady thy 
solid earth. 


The preceding facts of Alfred's studies, translations, 
additions, and compositions, enable us to perceive the 
great improvements which they diffused upon the in- 
tellect of the Anglo-Saxon nation. By his Orosius 
and Bede, he made the general history and geography 
of the world, and the particular history of England, a 
part of the mind of his countrymen ; and, by his 
Bede, he made historical fame an object of ambition 
to his royal successors ; for that exhibited to their 
own eye-sight how their predecessors had been re- 
corded and applauded. By transmitting to posterity 
the detail of Ohthere and Wulfstan's Voyages, he 
made such expeditions interesting to the nation, fixed 
them in their memory, and ensured their future imi- 
tation. By his Boetius he poured a great number of 
moral thoughts and feelings among his rude Anglo- 
Saxons, which they had never considered or expe- 
rienced before; and by cultivating poetical versification 
he increased the popularity and improvement of that 
pleasing art. He found the English mind unformed 
and barren, and he led it to knowledge, civility, moral 
sentiment, and moral reasoning. His attachment to 
religion increased its influence among his descendants 
and in his country. 

But there is another point of view in which the 
intellectual benefit that Alfred conferred upon his 
country has not yet been considered. This is the easy, 
fluent, and lively prose style, which it may be seen 

II 3 


BOOK from the extracts already given, that he so peculiarly 
' contributed to form by his translations and additions 
to Boetius. The work is not a mere literal version 
of the Latin diction, into a servile corresponding one, 
as the Anglo-Saxon Psalter, published by Spelman, 
in which every Latin word is rendered, however 
harshly, by a similar English one. Alfred's Boetius, 
even where he translates exactly, is done with the 
freedom of a master who uses his own style without 
departing from his author's meaning. The best prose 
style of all countries is that which men of superior 
intellect use, who, to much literary cultivation, add 
much intercourse with public affairs, and with the 
highest classes of the society in which they live. The 
activity of their daily life gives a spirit and freedom 
to their minds and thoughts, which pervade their 
colloquial diction ; and this, when polished by the 
most cultivated urbanity of the day, and enlarged by 
the more extensive subjects of their studies, and the 
greater correctness of meditative composition, be- 
comes superior to any that the world or the closet 
can singly create. Alfred's Boetius in every part dis- 
plays these excellences. Its form of dialogue favoured 
their union. It is clear, easy, animated, attractiv.e, 
and impressive. It comes the nearest to our present 
best English prose style of all the Anglo-Saxon prose 
writings that have survived to us, and entitles Alfred 
to be considered as the venerable father of our best 
English diction, as well as our first moral essayist. 

We may close our review of his intellectual cha- 
racter with remarking, as an additional subject for 
our admiration, that not above two centuries and a 
half elapsed between the first appearance of literature 
among the Anglo-Saxons and the formation of Alfred's 
mind. Has any country, within so short a period, 
produced in itself an intellect amongst its sovereigns 
that combined so many excellences ? 



Alfred's Moral Character. 

We have contemplated Alfred as the student, and chap. 
the man of literature, and in his public character. . ^' 
Let us proceed to review his conduct in more inter- 
esting relations. 

To educate our children in the best improvements 
and noblest virtues of our times, is to perform a duty 
the most sacred which we owe to society, and its 
parent. If, as reason hopes, and Revelation assures 
us. He, who called man into being, is interested in 
his concerns, no event can more propitiate his favour, 
than the gradual improvement of his creation. If 
one idea can predominate over others in the divine 
economy of human affairs, it is reasonable to believe, 
that it must be the plan of our moral and intellectual 
progression. Whoever leaves his offspring more in- 
formed and more virtuous than himself, accelerates 
this favourite scheme of supreme goodness, and claims 
the gratitude of society whom he benefits. 

Alfred was a great example to posterity in this 
path of duty. He was as solicitous to improve his 
family as himself. He had several children; some 
died in their infancy.^ iEthelfleda, Edward, Ethel- 
giva, Alfritha, and iEthelweard, survived him. 
Edward and Alfritha were educated in the royal 

* Asscr, mentioning his living children, adds, << Exceptis his qui in Infantia morte 
prsveniente pneoccui>ati sunt," p. 42. Rudborne'mentions that Edmund was his 
flrst-bom, whom his fkther had crowned as his intended successor. He died a little 
hefore his father, and was buried in the old monastery at Winchester, ** as appears,** 
says Rudbome, " by hb marble on his tomb, on the north side of the altar, which 
is inscribed, Hie jacet Edmundus Rex, filii Aldredi regis.*' Hist Mag. Wint. 
p. 207. 

H 4 


BOOK court with great attention. They were accustomed 
. ^' . to filial duty towards their parent, and to behave 
with mildness and afiibility towards others, whether 
strangers or natives. Asser remarks, that they re- 
tained these estimable qualities at the period in which 
he wrote. They were induced to improve their 
minds with all the liberal learning which could then 
be obtained. Besides the hymns of devotion, they 
were studiously taught Saxon books, and particularly 
Saxon poetry ; and they were accustomed to frequent 

^thelweard, his youngest son, received a sort of 
public education ; he was committed to the diligent 
care of proper teachers, with almost all the noble 
children of the province, and with many of inferior 
ranks. There they were all assiduously instructed 
in Latin and Saxon: they learned also the art of 
writing, to which literature owes its existence. By 
these institutions, the season of their youth was em- 
ployed to inform and enlarge their minds. When 
their matured age gave the requisite strength, they 
were exercised in hunting, and those robust arts, 
which by the habits of society at that time were 
made honourable and popular.^ 

The most exquisite luxury which aged parents can 
enjoy, when the charms of life and all the pleasures of 
sense are fast fading around them, is to see their 
parental care rewarded by a dutiful, affectionate, and 
intelligent offspring. Alfred enjoyed this happiness, 
which he had so well merited. JEthelfleda, his eldest, 
became a woman of very superior mind : such were 
its energies, that they even reached a masculine 
strength. She is extolled, in the ancient chronicles, 
as the wisest lady in England. Her brother Edward 

* Asser, 43. 

* Asser, 43. ^tbelweard lived twentf-one years after his fi&ther, and died 922, 
in the beginning of the reign of Athelstan. Matt West 359. 


governed his life in its best actions by her counsels. 
After she was married to Ethered, the governor of 
Mercia, she built several cities, and upon all occasions 
displayed a statesman's skill, and an Amazonian 

The reign of Edward was distinguished by its 
vigour and prosperity. Some of the last instruc- 
tions of Alfred to his son have been populariy pre- 
served^, and they deserve to be quoted, for their 
pathetic simplicity, their political wisdom, and the 
proof which they afford of this monarch's anxiety 
for the welfare of his subjects. 

" Thou," quoth Alfred, " my dear son, set thee 
now beside me, and I will deliver thee true instruc- 
tions. My son, I feel that my hour is coming. My 
countenance is wan. My days are almost done. We 
must now part. I shall to another world, and thou 
shalt be left alone in all my wealth. I pray thee 
(for thou art my dear child) strive to be a father, 
and a lord to thy people. Be thou the children's 
father, and the widow's friend. Comfort thou the 
poor, and shelter the weak ; and, with all thy might, 
right that which is wrong. And, son, govern thy- 
self, by law ; then shall the Lord love thee, and God 

* The difficulty and sufferings of ber first parturition deterred her from the 
chance of a repetition. She protested, that it did not become a king*s daughter to 
pursue any pleasure which was attended with such inconvenience. Mabnsb. 46. 
lie describes her, " Favor civium, pavor bostium, immodici cordis fiemina. — Virago 
potentissima multum fratrem juvare consiliis, in urbibus extruendis non minus 
valere, non discemas potlore fortuna, an virtute ; ut mulier viros domesticos pro- 
tegeret, alienos terreret.*' lb. 46. The Chronicle MS. Nero. A. 6. says of her, 
** Per cigus anlmum frater suus Edwardus multo melius in regno actus suos diri- 
gebat." P. 6. 

* This b the conclusion of the Cotton MSS. mentioned before, p. 80. Of thii 
work Spelman says, fairly, ** I cannot think it fit to offer them into the world aa 
an instance of what the king composed ; for they are not his very work in the 
Saxon tongue, but a miscellany collection of some later author, who, according to 
his own fiurulty, hath, in a broken English, put together such of the sayings of king 
Alfred as he met withal.** P. 125. Wanley says, the fragment is in Norman Saxon, 
** circa tempus Ilenrici IL aut Richardi T. conscriptum in quo continentur qucdam 
ex pruverbiis et apothegmatis ^Ifinedi regis sapientissiml,*' p. 231. A copy of 
the Oalba MS. of this work is sUted to exist in MS. at Oxford, in the Bodleian 


uooK above all things shall be thy reward. Call thou upon 

v_J » him to advise thee in all thy need, and so shall he 

help thee, the better to compass that which thou 

-^thelweard became a man celebrated for his 

Alfritha obtained an honourable^ marriage. We 
have mentioned, in a preceding^ chapter, Baldwin, 
with the iron arm, count of Flanders, who carried off, 
with friendly violence, Judith, the widow of Ethel- 
wulf, and of Alfred's brother Ethelbald. The son of 
this marriage, which the king of France at last sanc- 
tioned, was Baldwin the Bald. It was he who ob- 
tained the hand of Alfritha; their offspring was 
Amulf ^^, who is mentioned with expressions of cele- 
brity, and who succeeded his father in 918.^^ From 
a descendant of Arnulf was born Mathilda, the wife 
of William the Conqueror. 

* Spelman, p. 131. This collection begins thus : — 

" At SijTopb f eren Thamef manie, 
Fele Bijxoper anb rele boc lepeb, 
Cpler ppabe 1 Knihcei* eslocbe. 
Thep Hcf eple Alrpich op che lase FTUtb pife, 
Anb CO Alrpeb f Gn^Xe hipbe, 6nsle baplins* 
On Cnslonb he par kios* Dem he s^i lepen 
Spo him bepen mibcen, bu bi bepe lip leben pcolbco. 
Alfred he was on Englelond a king well swithe strong. 
He was king and clerk. Well be luvied Ood*8 werk : 
He was wise on his word, and war on his speeche. 
He was the wUette man that woi on Englelond,** 

Ibid. p. 127. 
The 5th article is worth quoting in Spelman*s translation. ** Thus,*' quoth 
Alflvd, '* without wisdom, wealth is worth little. Though a man had an hundred 
and seventy acres sown with gold, and all grew like com, yet were all that wealth 
worth nothing unless that of an enemy one could make it become his friend. For 
what differs gold fh>m a stone, but by discreet using of it ? *' p. 130. 

' To this son, Alfred, by his will, devised land in seventeen places, beside that of 
the Weal district, and 500 pounds. 

* Alfred bequeathed to her 100 pounds, and three manors. 

* VoL L p. 427. 

^ Her relation Ethelwerd thus speaks of this marriage : ** Alfred misit Alfthry the 
llliam suam ad partes Germanise Baldwino in matrimonium qui genuit ab ea Alios 
duos, Athulfum et Eamulfum; duas Alius quoque, Ealshwid et Earmen truth.** 
Prologus Ethelw. p. 831. The Chronlcon Sithense in Bouquet's Recueil, tom. ix. 
p. 74., places the marriage in 698. The Cbronicon Alberici mistakes both the 
name and parentage of the lady, for it calls her Ethelwinda, and makes her Alfk^'s 
grand-daughter, Aliam fllis suse. Bouq. torn. ix. p. 61. 

11 Bouquet's Recueil, tom. ix. p. 152. 


It is the invariable dictate of benevolence never to 
be inattentive to the comforts of others. Alfred dis- 
played this accomplished temper in his arrangement ^ "'^^^ 
of his household. He divided all his noble attendants of his 
into three bodies, and he regulated their personal **®*"' 
services with a kind regard to their convenience, as 
well as to his own. He exacted the attendance of 
one of the divisions for a month, and afterwards 
allowed the persons who composed it to return home 
to their families and aflFairs, while another supplied 
their place for the same period.^^ By this regular 
routine, Alfred was carefully served, and an ample 
time was afforded to his attendants to watch over 
their private concerns. He was also scrupulously 
exact in the distribution and application of his yearly 
revenue. He ordered his officers to divide it into 
two general portions. These portions he again sub- 
divided, and appropriated each division to a peculiar 
and inalienable service. 

One of his allotments, a sixth of his income, he 
set apart for his warriors and noble attendants ; he 
gave to each according to his dignity and to his 
services. Another sixth he devoted to the work- 
men in architecture, whom he collected from several 
nations. Another sixth he appropriated to foreigners 
who came to him, whatever might be their country, 
whether remote or near, whether they claimed his 
bounty, or awaited its voluntary descent; they re- 
ceived each a portion according to their worthiness, 
which was given with admirable discretion.^^ 

The other half of his revenue was consecrated to 
religious objects. This he also separated again, and 
commanded his officers to put it into four shares. 
One of these, being one-eighth of his whole income, 
was prudently administered to the poor of every 

" Asser, 65. " Asser, 65, 66. Florence. 


BOOK nation who came to him. In distributing this, he 
' remembered the axiom of pope Gregory : " Give not 
little to him who needs much, nor much to him who 
needs little ; refuse not to the man who should have 
something, and give not to him who deserves nothing." 
Another eighth was paid to the two monasteries he 
built, for their maintenance. Another eighth was 
for the school which he had diligently made up from 
many nobles of his nation. Another eighth was dis- 
persed among the neighbouring monasteries of West 
Saxony and Mercia. In some years he made dona- 
tions to the churches and clergy in Wales, Cornwall, 
France, Bretagne, Northumbria, and Ireland, accord- 
ing to his ability. ^^ 

Alfred was an exact economist of his time, without 
which indeed nothing great can be achieved. He 
had not those heralds of its lapse which we can make 
so minute and exact ; but he was sensible, that to do 
all he projected, he must divide his day, and appro- 
priate every part. 

The darkness of the night aflTorded him no natural 
means of measuring the progress of the revolving 
globe; and as clouds and rain often concealed the 
sun, which is the only chronometer of uncultivated 
man, he was compelled to frame some method of 
marking his day into regular intervals. ^^ Mechanics 
were then so little known, either in theory or prac- 
tice, that Alfred had not the aid of this science, from 
which most of our comforts, both domestic and 
political, have arisen. He used a simple expedient : 

»* Asser, 67. 

" The king of France had an advantage in this respect above Alfred; for, 
in 807, Charlemagne was presented by the king of Persia with a superb clock. 
** Horologium ex orichalco, arte mechanica miriflce coropositum, in quo duodecim 
horarum cursus ad clepsydram vertebatur, cum totidem cereis piluUs, qua! ad com- 
pletlonem horarum decidebant et casu suo sutyectum sibi cymbalum tinnire facie- 
bant; additis in eodem (jusdem numeri equitibus qui per 12 fenestras completls 
horis exibant et impulsu egressionis sus totidem fenestras que prius erant aperts, 
claudebant." Annates Car. Mag. Astron. p. 35. Reuberi. 


his chaplains, by his orders, procured wax, and he ^"^p- 
ordered seventy-two denarii of it to be made into six <■■ , ' * 
equal candles, each candle to be twelve inches long, 
which were separately marked. These candles, suc- 
cessively used, lasted through the whole twenty-four 
hours, and of course every inch marked the lapse of 
twenty minutes ; but sometimes the mnd rushing in 
through the windows and doors, the numerous chinks 
of the walls ^^, or the slender covering of the tents, 
consumed the candles with undue celerity. To cure 
this evil, which confused his calculation, he thought 
skilfully and wisely, says Asser^^ ; and the result of 
this skill and wisdom was the invention of lanterns. 
He found that the white horn became pellucid like 
glass^®, and with this and wood a case for his candle 
was (mirabiliter) admirably made. By these schemes, 
which our clocks and watches make us deride, he 
obtained what he wanted, an exact admeasuifement 
of the lapse of time. We have not a correct detail of 
its appropriation, Asser's general statement, that he 
consecrated half his time to God^®, gives no distinct 
idea, because we find, that his liberal mind, in the 
distribution of his revenue, thought that to apportion 
money for a school was devoting it to the Supreme. 
Malmsbury's account is, that one third of the natural 
day and night was given to sleep and refreshment ; 
one third to the affairs of his kingdom ; and one third 
to those duties which he considered as sacred.^^ This 
indistinct statement cannot now be amplified. 

He had been fond of hunting and sporting ; but as 
he became older, we may infer, from his paraphrase 
of Boetius*s conditional assertion, that if a man rode 
for his health, he did not desire the motion but its 

^ It is of a royal palace that he Is thus speaking. 

*' Consilio que artiflciosc atque saplenter invento, p. 68. 

» Asser, 67. " Malmsbury, 45. 


BOOK eflTect, that our afflicted king did not take this exer- 
s—^ ' cise for pleasure. He says : — 

" No man rides out because it pleases him to ride ; but he rides 
because by the excursion he earns something. Some earn by it 
that they shall be healthier ; some that they shall be more active ; 
and some because they would come to some other place which they 
desire to be at" 20 

His piety. One of the principal features of Alfred's useful life, 
was his earnest piety. From the gross and illiberal 
superstitions which have been connected with religion, 
and from the frauds and hypocrisy which have been 
sometimes practised under her venerable name, piety, 
although one of the native flowers of the uncorrupted 
heart, has lost much of its influence upon mankind. 
Philosophy has justly taught us to discredit priest- 
craft ; and the dread of the evils which this has pro- 
duced, has greatly alienated many from religion 
itself. Whenever a mischief tends to accompany a 
blessing, the good is undervalued till the evil can 
be removed. 

But although this state of opinion results, not un- 
naturally, from some part of the former experience of 
mankind, it is not a decision which wisdom and 
knowledge will ultimately sanction. Religion is as 
necessary to the happiness and improvement of man, 
and to the healthful continuance and expected melior- 
ation of society, as superstition, artifice, tyranny, and 
ignorance are injurious and debasing; and of all 
religions, none can be compared with Christianity, 
either in intellect, morals, or beneficence. It has 
raised the kingdoms where it has prevailed, to a 
proud superiority over the rest of the world ; and 
it has given a beauty, a richness, and an utility to 
the human character, which we shall in vain look 
for under any other system. No religion is either in 
spirit or in precept more adverse to those systems 

» Aif. Boet. p. 20, 


of delusion and selfishness to which it has been per- chap. 
verted, and from which it is ever appealing ; none - 

can better claim the support of the wise, and the 
sympathy of the good. 

Religion was one of the earliest ofisprings of the 
human intellect, and cannot long be separated from 
it without certain deterioration to both. As it is the 
best guide and guardian of mind as well as of virtue, 
if it be allied with our reason, and enriched with 
our knowledge, many of the greatest characters of 
their day have in all ages upheld it. But there are 
some dispositions to whom it is peculiarly congenial 
and gratifying ; and Alfred was one of that order of 
intelligence which has delighted in its exercise. 

By other men, piety may have been taken up as a 
mask, or worn as a habit ; by Alfred it was applied 
to its great and proper use ; to the correction of im- 
morality, to the advancement of virtue, to the en- 
couragement of knowledge ; and to become the asylum 
of happiness. 

Alfred, like other men, inherited the passions and 
frailties of mortality: he felt immoral tendencies 
prevalent in his constitution, and he found that he 
could not restrain his objectionable desires. With 
this experience mankind in general rest satisfied: 
they feel themselves prompted to vicious gratifica- 
tions: they take the tendencies of nature as their 
excuse, and they freely indulge. 

But the mind of Alfred emancipated itself from 
such sophistry : he disdained to palter with his moral 
sense : he knew that his propensities were immoral ; 
and though a prince, he determined not to be their 
slave. He found the power of his reason to be in- 
adequate to subdue them ; and he therefore had re- 
course to the aids of religion. His honoured friend 
assures us, that to protect himself from vice, he rose 
alone at the first dawn of day, and privately visited 


BOOK churches and their shrines, for the sake of prayer. 
There, long prostrate, he besought the great moral 
Legislator to strengthen his good intentions. So 
sincere was his virtuous determination, that he even 
implored the dispensation of some affliction which 
he could support, and which would not, like blind- 
ness or leprosy, make him useless and contemptible 
in society, as an assistant to his virtue. With fre- 
quent and earnest devotion, he preferred this request ; 
and when at no long interval the disorder of the 
ficus came upon him, he welcomed its occurrence, 
and converted it to a moral utility, though it attacked 
him severely .^^ However variously with their pre- 
sent habits, some may appreciate the remedy with 
which Alfred chose to combat his too ardent passions, 
we cannot refuse our applause to his magnanimity. 
His abhorrence of vice, his zeal for practical virtue, 
would do honour to any private man of the most 
regular habits: but in a prince who lives in that 
sphere of society where every object and every asso- 
ciate tempt the passions, and seduce the reason, it 
was one of those noble exertions of soul which 
humanity rarely yet displays, and which words can- 
not adequately applaud. 

Asser repeatedly describes his sovereign's religious 
disposition : " He was accustomed to hear divine 
service, especially the mass, every day, and to repeat 
psalms and prayers, and the devotions for the hours 
of the day and for night ; and he often frequented 
churches alone, without his state, in the night-time, 
for the sake of praying." ^^ 

Asser also adds : " It was his habit, attentively and 
solicitously, to hear the sacred Scriptures read by his 
own subjects, or by foreigners when any came to hirn 
from abroad, and also prayers. 

" AsMr, pp. 41, 42. a Asser, p. 44. 


" He lamented continually, with sorrow and sigh- 
ing, to all who were admitted into his intimacy, that 
the Deity had made him void of Divine wisdom and 
the liberal arts. But He who beholds the internal 
mind, and promotes every virtuous meditation and 
good inclination, increased this inward impulse, till 
the king had acquired, from every quarter within his 
reach, coadjutors of this pious disposition who were 
able to assist him in the wisdom he desired, and to 
conduct him to the proficiency he coveted." ^^ 

In another place Asser informs us that Alfred 
carefully carried in his bosom a little book, in which 
were written the daily offices of prayer, and some 
psalms and pious supplications which he had read in 
his youth.^* 

Asser intimates that one of the king's first uses of 
his knowlege of Latin, and his mode of learning it, 
was to translate passages of the sacred Scriptures, 
and to insert them in the book which he called his 
manual, because he had it always at his hand, and 
from which, he then said, he derived no small 

Nearly a thousand years have elapsed since Alfred's 
reign, and yet no plan of acquiring moral and philo- 
sophical wisdom has been suggested which will be 
found to be more efficacious than this invaluable 
habit of our Anglo-Saxon king. They who have 
profited from it can attest its efficacy. 

But, independently of Asser s account, we have two 
written records still remaining of the pious feelings 
of this admirable king, from his own heart and pen, 
in his Anglo-Saxon selections and translations from 
St. Austin's meditations, and in his additions to his 
version of Boetius. As the truth is every day be- 
coming more apparent, and will be ere long admitted 

* These are Asserts words, p. 45. ** Aner, p. 65. 

• Ibid. p. 67. 

VOL. n. I 



hy the most philosophical, that enlightened religion 
■ V • is the best guide to wisdom, virtue, and social order, 
and their surest basis, we will make no apology for 
adding a few extracts on this subject. 

Alfred's imitation of the fourth metrum of Boetius 
consists chiefly of the additions of his own piety : — 

** He that would firmlj build his house ; he should not set it 
upon the highest hill ; and he that would geek heayenlj wisdom 
must not be arrogant. And again, 

'' As he that would firmlj build his house will not place it upon 
sand-hillsy so, if thou wouldett build wisdom, set it not up on 
covetousness ; for as the drinking sand swalloweth the rain, so 
covetousness absorbs the frail happiness of this worid, because it 
will be always thirsty. 

** Nor can a house stand long on an high mountain if a full 
raging wind presses on it. Nor hath it on the drinking sand that 
which will continue against violent rain. 

'* So also the mind of man is undermined and agitated from its 
place, when the wind of strong troubles or the rain of immeasurable 
anxiety shake it. 

** But he that will have the eternal riches, he will fly from the 
dangerous beauty of this middle earth, and build the house of his 
mind on the fast stone of lowliness ; for Chrbt dwelt in the yalley 
of humility and in the meditation of wisdom. 

" Hence the wise man will lead all his life to the joy that is 
unchangeable, endless, and without care. Then* he will despise 
both earthly good, and ^evil also ; and hope for the future, which 
will be eternal. Because God, who for ever abides, will preserve 
him every where in the riches of his mind, though the wind of 
this world's difficulti(*s, and the perpetual cares of its prosperities 
should blow on him," *« 

From the diffuse meditations of St. Austin^, Alfred 
selected the parts which most pleased him, and has 
translated these into Saxon, with that freedom, and 
with those additions which make his versions so often 
breathe his own feelings. As the king's heart is laid 
open before us in these chosen effusions, it may not 
be uninteresting to insert some extracts from them, 
as u further delineation of his real character : — 

" I^ird I Thou who art the maker of all creation, grant me first 
that 1 iniiy rigiitly know thee and rationally address thee ; then 

^rmAihlH^* "****• '*• ^'''- '^^^ t^o l*«t paragriphB, and some phmses of the others, 
w 1j?2 •.*^" wrnipwltlon. 
mUU, Urit. Mut. Vluil. A. 16. 


may I earn that I shall become worthy that thou, from thy mild- 
heartedness, shouldest redeem and free me. 

" I call to Thee, Lord ! Thou that abandonest none of thy 
creatures to become nought. To thee I call; Thou that lovest 
all that can love Thee ; both those which know what they should 
love and those which do not. 

" O Thou I that didst make all creatures very good without any 
evil ! Thou ! who wilt not openly show thyself to any others but 
to those who are cleansed in their mind ! To Thee, O Lord ! I 
call, because Thou ail the father of sincerity and wisdom, and 
true life, and of the supreme life and the supreme felicity, and of 
the highest good and the supreme brightness, and of intellectual 

" O Thou who art the Father of that Son which has awakened 
us, and yet urgeth us out of the sleep of our sins, and exhorteth 
us, that we become thine : to Thee, Lord ! I pray, who art the 
supreme truth, for all the truth that is, is truth from Thee. 

" Thee, I implore, O Lord ! who art the highest wisdonL 
Through Thee are wise all those that are so. Thou art the true 
life, and through Thee all that live subsist. Thou art the supreme 
felicity, and from Thee all have become happy that are so. Thou 
art the highest good, and from Thee all beauty springs. Thou 
art the intellectual light, and from Thee man derives his under- 
standing ! 

" He that loveth Thee, seeketh Thee : he that foUoweth Thee, 
be will obtain Thee." 

After indulging in these lofty feelings awhile, he 
proceeds more earnestly : — 

" Come now to help me, O Thou, who art the only Eternal ; the 
true God of glory : Father and Son, and so art now ; and Holy 
Spirit, without any separation or mutability, and without any 
necessity or diminution of power, and who never diest. Thou art 
always dwelling in the highest brightness, and in a highest 
happiness; in perfect unanimity, and in the fullest abundance. 
With Thee there is no deficiency of good, but Thou art ever 
abiding, replete with every felicity, through endless time. 

" To Thee, O God I I call and speak. Hear, O hear me I 
Lord ! for thou art my God and my Lord ; my father and my 
creator; my ruler and my hope ; my wealth and my honour; my 
house ; my country ; my salvation, and my life ! Hear, hear me, 

Lord ! Few of thy servants comprehend Thee. But Thee alone 

1 love, indeed, above all other things ; Thee I seek ; Thee I will 
follow ; Thee I am ready to serve. Under Thy power I desire to 
abide, for Thou alone art the Sovereign of all. I pray Thee to 
command me as Thou wilt.'' 

One extract more, breathing the same warmth ot 
feeling, may be added : — 

1 2 


BOOK " Now I hare sought Thee : unlock thy door and teach me how 

'V. I may come to Tliee. I have nothing to bring to Thee but my 

' good will ; but I myself have nothing else. I know nothing that 

18 better than to love Thee, the heavenly and the spiritual One, 

above all earthly things. Thus I also do. Good Father ! because 

1 know of nothing better than thyself. 

" But I know not how I can come to Thee unless Thou per- 
mittest me. Teach it to me, and help me. If those through Thee 
find the truth who find Thee, give me that truth. If they through 
Thee obtain any virtue who obtain Thee, impart that virtue to 
me. If wisdom, grant me that wisdom. Add to me the hope of 
the everlasting life, and pour thy love upon me. 

" Oh ! how Thy goodness is to be admired, for it is unlike all 
other goods. I wish to come to Thee, and the more earnestly, 
because of all things I need this path. My desire is to Thee, and 
this most chiefly because without Thee I cannot come to Thee. 
If thou abandonest me, then I shall be removed from Tiiee : but 
I know that Thou wilt not forsake me unless I forsake Thee. 
But I will not forsake Thee, because Thou art the highest good. 
There is none of those who seek Thee rightly that may not find 
Thee. But they only will seek Thee rightly whom Thou in- 
structest to seek Thee, and teachest how to find Thee."*® 

From the preceding extracts, and from those before 
given from his Boetius, it will appear that Alfred 
connected his belief in Christianity with high-minded 
feelings. In his Boetius he takes repeated occasions, 
and with a peculiar pleasure, to expatiate upon the 
power, perfections, and providence of the Deity, with 
all the clearness of perception, and largeness of 
thought, and warmth of sentiment, of a Platonic or 
Pythagorean philosopher, though with the superior 
light of a Christian thinker. 

The subject never occurs to his pen but he dilates 
upon it with such visible affection, as to show that 
it was the habitual and predominant feeling of his 
cultivated mind. Yet, frequently as he has discussed 
it, he never betrays any narrow-minded superstition. 
All his conceptions are intelligent and expanded. 
He views the greatest of beings not only as the sove- 
reign, but as the father, the guide, the instructorj 
and the benefactor of his creatures. He loves to 

» These extracU are taken from the Cotton MS& VitelL A. 16. * 


contemplate this awful theme, and to interest others chap. 
with his contemplations. It is surprising, in an age < / > 
so dark and tumultuous, and amid cares and employ- 
ments so harassing and multifarious, and when relics 
and rites were the religion which was most valued, 
that the mind of Alfred could have thus enlarged its 
religious meditations, have conceived them so justly, 
and expressed them so rationally, and yet so fervently. 
Nothing displays more emphatically the habitual 
greatness of his mind than his pure, and lofty, and 
affectionate theism, and the natural and earnest 
diction into which it effuses. 

That Alfred, who lost both his parents before he 
was ten years old ; who was on the throne at the 
age of twenty-one, and was immersed so long in the 
occupations and vicissitudes of the most deadly war- 
fares ; who lived amid such desolations and ignorance, 
and had no education but such as in his rnaturer life 
he was enabled to give himself; should yet have 
formed his mind to that admirable combination of 
great piety with great wisdom, enlarged intellect, 
liberal feelings, and as much knowledge as his in- 
quisitive curiosity could obtain, is a phenomenon 
that, in far happier times, has rarely, if ever, been 
exhibited on the throne. As all effects have adequate 
causes, we are led to inquire into the origin, or first 
author, of this attainment. The individual within 
his reach to whom the commencement of his religious 
feelings can be most justly attributed is his kins- 
man^^, St. Neot. Alfred is declared to have fre- 
quently visited this pious man ; to have conversed 
much with him on devotional subjects ; to have pro- 
fited greatly, both in his moral conduct and know- 
lege of Christianity^^, from these interviews; and 

* Asser calls Neot ** Cognatus suus/* p. 32. Ingulf says, be was ft^quently at 
the feet of St. Neot and Werefrith, p. 27. 

** The Saxon life of Neot says, ** Oo cbaa Cime paef Alrpeb kins ^nb Co cban 
balsen selomen (often) com emb bif p^ple sbeapFe." MS. Vesp. D. 14. p. 145 

I 3 


^^^ to have been reproved by him, as already mentioned, 
/ » for his faults. 

It is not clear whether St. Neot was his brother or 
his uncle.^^ He was a king before he abandoned the 
world ^, but as to what province he reigned in in 
England, and of his former name, we have no satis- 
factory information^ ; and where this is wanting, no 
conjecture, however ingenious, can in history be sub- 
stituted for it.^ But of his spirit and subsequent 
conduct the details are clear and abundant. 

Neot is described to have been a very meek and 
mild man : to have become a monk at Glastonbury ; 
to have visited Rome seven times ; and to have retired 
to a wild solitude in Cornwall, which he afterwards 
quitted to build a monastery.^ He died before 878. 
The principal feature in his moral character is the 
resolution which he formed of copjdng the predomi- 
nant virtue of every person in his cloister that had 

The oldest LtUn life adds, that Neot recfived him as bis lord with honour, and 
as his brother with love, Messed him, taught and instructed him, and showed him 
the way of prudence. Claud. A. 5. p. 153. Ramsay's prose life mentions that 
Neot taught him ** multa in divinis et que Christiauismo pertinehant, regi dis- 
seruit" Whit Neot p. 347. His metrical life mentions that •'ad sanctum 
ptr—jM requirlt** Ibid. p. 334. 

*' The MSS. Claud. A. 6. makes him the son of Ethelwulph, and therefore 
brother of AlfKnl. So does the metrical life of Ramsay, Whit p. 318., and the 
lives of St. Neot extracted by Leland in his Collect vol. iv. p. 13., and so Leiand 
himself. De Script Brit p. 143. Other authorities state him to be the son of 
Egbert I think if he had been Alfired*s brother, Asser would have hardly called 
him "cognatus," 

" So the Claudius MS. Intimates : " Neque enlm allenus vel ipso genere inferior 
lanctus erat Neotus \ seU $x §odem sanguint ereahu rrx,** p. 153. One of the in- 
scriptions on the window In his Cornish church was, ** Hie tradidit coronam flratri 
stto JunloH." Whit. Neot p. 74. 

" Ramsay's prose life Implies East Anglia, p. 340., and so Leland understood it 
Itin. Iv. p. 1 35. 

** Dr. Whltaker*s theory Is, that he was Ethelstan, the son of Ethelwulph, and 
king of Kent V* 73. It Is a very spirited conjecture, and not wholly improbable ; 
but Malmsbury has declared that he did not know what end Ethelstan had ; and 
the Saxon life says of Neot ** He was in his youth addicted to book-like learning, 
Mid to religious practices, and diligently inquired about the eternal life, and how 

might most firmly live for God." MSS. Vesp. This does not exactly suit with 

liitMi's reign In Kent and battle in 851 with the Danes. See before, voL L 

Itc fordun, who mentions his death in a conflict with the Scots, does not 

MiMrtltr ittthorlty for this incident On the whole, we cannot identify the 

jHtt ttMlOng M in historical certainty. 

Pt fto yvNtdlng Uffs» and Whitaker*s account 


any, — the continence of one man, the pleasantness chap. 
of another, the suavity of a third ; the seriousness, - 

humanity, good nature, and love of singing, and of 
study, in others. Hence the summary of his cha- 
racter is thus transmitted to us: "Humble to all, 
affable in conversation, mild in transaction of business, 
venerable in aspect, serene in countenance, moderate 
even in his walk, sincere, upright, calm, temperate, 
and charitable." ^^ 

It is not extraordinary that such a man should 
have led the mind of Alfred to favourable impres- 
sions of sincere religion. 

It is an agreeable instance of Alfred's good humour, 
that after his restoration, he was in the habit of nar- 
rating to his friends the adventures of his adversity, 
with lively pleasantry. *^ 

There is one little incident attached to the memory 
of Alfred, which, as it exists in an author who seems 
to have been curious in searching into ancient re- 
mains^, may be mentioned here, that nothing con- 
cerning so great a man be lost. 

One day as he was hunting in a wood, he heard the 
cry of an infant in a tree, and ordered his huntsmen 
to examine the place. They ascended the branches, 
and found at top, in an eagle's nest, a beautiful child, 
dressed in purple, with golden bracelets, the marks 
of nobility, on his arms. The king had him brought 
down and baptized, and well educated; from the 
accident, he named the foundling Nestingum. His 
grandson's daughter is stated to have been one of the 
ladies for whom Edgar indulged an improper passion. 

We will close our account of Alfred's moral cha- 

** Ramsay *f life, p. 341. ; Whitaker, p. 93. ; and see bis furtlier accoont. 
pp. 94, 95. 

" Malmsbuiy, 43. 

** This is Johannes Tinmuth, whose MSS. have not yet been published, though 
they appear to contain some curious particulars. I find an extract from his ^story 
in the Bodleian library, lib. zzi., quoted by Dngdale, Monasticon, i, p. 256. 

I 4 



WOK racter by one remarkable trait. An author who 
^ lived at the period of the Norman conquest, in men- 
tioning some of the preceding kings with short ap- 
propriate epithets, names Alfred, with the simple 
but expressive addition of "the truth-teller ^V' ^s if 
it had been his traditional character. 

** Hermannl miracula Edmundi script, drca 1070. MS. Cotton Library, Tibe- 
rias, b. ii. It follows Al)lx>'8 life of this king. It is very beautifully written. P. 21. 
he says *' Elueredi Veridki." In his epithets of the kings, he seems to have Hosely 
followed their traditional biography, for he calls Edred ** debilis pedlbus," which is a 
fery marking tralL 



Alfreo*5 Public Conduct. 

The conduct of kinprs affects the whole nation which chap. 
contemplates it. The fortunes of human nature are . ^^ 
in their hands. Virtue and intellect flourish as their 
conduct is wise and moral ; and nations prosper or 
decline, as the measures of the executive authority 
are salutary or ignoble. 

Although his conduct in the first part of his reign 
was objectionable, few sovereigns have shaped their 
conduct with more regard to the public happiness 
than Alfred, after his restoration. He seems to have 
considered his life but as a trust to be used for the 
benefit of his people ; and his plans for their welfare 
were intelligent and great. His military exertions 
for the benefit of the nation, and their final successes, 
have been already commemorated. But although 
performed by him as necessary duties, they were un- 
congenial with his heart and mind. These turned, 
as soon as they were at liberty to pursue their natural 
bias, to nobler objects than war and bloodshed. 

His predominant wish was the mental and moral im- 
provement of his countrymen. His letter to his bishop, 
prefixed to his translation of Gregory's Pastorals, 
and already cited ^, breathes this principle throughout. 
To communicate to others the knowlege which we 
possess, he even states to be a religious duty. He 
laments the ignorance which overspread his land ; he 
desires that all the youth, who had pecuniary means, 
should learn to read English ; he gently censures 

* From p. 1 1. of this Tolume. 


BOOK former students who had not put their knowlege 
- into a popular form, by translating it into the verna- 
cular tongue ; he devotes his own leisure, and he 
calls upon his literary clergy to devote theirs, to the 
translating into English the books they possessed. He 
led the way with taste and judgment in his historical 
and philosophical translations : he seems to place 
his glory in the intellectual advancement of his rude 

His correspondent, the French archbishop, also 
bears testimony to the same spirit.^ The translation 
of Gregory's Pastorals could have no other meaning 
than to rouse the clergy to labour for the moral 
emendation of his people ; and, at the same time that 
we surrender this book to disapprobation, for its ten- 
dency to enchain the mind, it may be proper to 
remark, that the principle upon which the king re- 
commended it to his clergy was unquestionably just. 
We cannot look round the world without perceiving 
how much the morality of a people depends upon the 
sagacity, the knowlege, and the virtue of its sacred 
preceptors. Why is the fair influence of true reli- 
gion lessening among us, but because the appointed 
guardians of our morals are not always careful to ac- 
quire the talents to display the enlarged views, and 
to exert the conduct which will interest the thought- 
less, impress the dissolute, and satisfy the doubting ? 
In every age the world requires, from its moral 
teachers, example, persuasion, and conviction. The 
clergy of Alfred were not distinguished for either ; 
and the king knew no other book which at all aimed 
at educating them, to influence honourably, as well as 
to exhort ; nor was any other way at that time likely 
to be more efficacious than to increase the influence 
of the ecclesiastical order. 

' See befort, p. 12. of this Yolumc 


In the first days of society, and in its most im- chap. 

proved period, when religion and philosophy have be- 
come duly united and firmly seated in the heart, the 
patriarchal and the priestly character may be often 
most usefully united ; but in the intermediate eras, 
when so many myriads are ignorant of religion, or indif- 
ferent to it, or prejudiced against it, if there be not a 
well educated, respected, and authorised clergy, it 
will depart from the young intellect amid the pres- 
sure of worldly objects, and become associated with 
degrading superstitions in the vulgar and older minds. 
Alfred could not at that time have pursued a wiser 
or more patriotic object than that of endeavouring to 
enlighten and improve the ecclesiastical body. 

The school which he established for his nobles^, 
and the masters which he provided for high and low, 
who were educated with his son iEthelweard*, are 
proofs of his desire to augment the knowlege of his 

His invitations to his court of learned foreigners 
and skilful artisans ; his search around his dominions 
for men of literary attainments ; and his munificent 
patronage to all whose talents came within his notice, 
concur to demonstrate his laudable anxiety to improve 
his people. 

He lived in an age, when to promote the general 
welfare was an idea which seldom influenced the con- 
duct.^ His plans to benefit his subjects were there- 
fore counteracted by their prejudices and their ig- 
norance. Many of his royal exhortations were not 
obeyed; even the castles which he advised, or or- 
dered his nobility to build, to protect their own lands, 

* Scholx quaro ex multis sus propris gentis nobilibus studiosisslme congregaverat 
Asser, 07. 

* Cum omnibus pene totius regionis nobilibus InCmtlbus et etiam multis igno- 
bilibus, sub diligent! magistrorum cura traditus est. Aiser, 43. 

^ This is a feature which Aner gives of his contemporaries, ** Qui nullum aut 
parvum voluntarie pro communi regni necessitate vellent tubiie laborem.'* P. 58. 


BOOK against the Northmen, were reluctantly begun. It 
- often happened that the ravages, which his advice was 
meant to prevent, occurred before the landholders 
would obey his foresight. Then, when they had lost 
their families and property, they mourned their folly 
with a repentance, says Asser, that could neither 
restore their slain relations, redeem their captive 
friends, nor even support themselves with common 

But Alfred was not discouraged by the tardiness of 
his subjects. By mild expostulation, by reasoning, by 
gentle flattery, or by express command ; or, in case 
of obstinate disobedience, by severe chastisement, he 
overcame the pertinacity of vulgar folly; and wisely 
made his bishops, earls, ministers, and public officers, 
exert themselves for the common benefit of all his 
kingdom.^ Among other things, he was inflexible 
in exacting from all a competence for their offices. 
To produce this he compelled them to study litera- 
ture. Even they who had been illiterate from their 
infancy, earls, governors, and ministers, were com- 
pelled to learn to read and write ^, choosing rather to 
endure the painful toil, than to lose their preferment. 
If from age, or peculiar dulness of intellect, they 
could not be taught themselves, their son or some 
kinsman, or if none, some freeman or slave, educated 
for the purpose, was ordered to recite before them 
Saxon books, both day and night.^ 

His public demeanour was very affiible, mixed with 
decorous pleasantry; he was eager to join in the 
investigation of things unknown ^^, for the curiosity of 
his mind was insuppressible. 

Many Francs, Frisians, and other neighbouring 

* Afser, 60. * IWd. 69. 

* So I conntrue the expresslont, <' Literatorlc arti ftuderent.** Aner, 71. 

* Asser, 71. These passages of Asser are very curious. 
» Et nuatma et InoomparahlU contra omnes hominos aflkbUltate atque jocun- 

ditete et Ignotanmi reram InTeftlgatloDi solerttr se Jungebat Alter, 44. 


nations, willingly came to submit to his authority, chap. 
both noble and ignoble. He loved them all like his . 
own people, received them honourably, and gave 
them both money and power.^^ 

His bishops and clergy, his nobles and servants, he 
treated with paternal affection ; he was indefatigable 
in his endeavours to educate such of their children as 
were in the royal court, in every valuable morality ; 
and he himself did not disdain to assist in their scho- 
lastic tuition.^^ 

His embassy to India, to the shrine of St. Thomas, hii Em- 
is as expressive of his mind and public spirit as any J^*** 
other action of his life. No other potentate in Europe 
could in that day have conceived it ; because no other 
had acquired that knowlege which would have in- 
terested them in a country so remote and unknown. 
The embassy displays not only the extent of Alfred's 
information, but that searching curiosity, which char- 
acterised his understanding. 

The journey is stated by several chroniclers. The 
Saxon Chronicle ^^, Florence of Worcester^*, Radulph^^, 
and Bromton^^, simply mention, that Suithelm, the 
bishop of Shirebum, carried the benevolence of Alfred 
to India, to Saint Thomas, and returned in safety. 
Huntingdon ^^, and Alured of Beverley^®, express 
that the embassy was sent in a discharge of a vow 
which the king had made. Matthew of Westminster ^^, 

" A«ser, 44. 

^ This I presume Is the meaning of omnibus bonis moribus instituere et Uteris 
imbuere »olu» die noctuque inter cstera non dednebat. Asser, 44. 

" Sax. Chron, p. 86. 

*^ 8s3. A&sero Scirebumensi epi^ropo defuncto succedit Suithelmus qui r^ls 
Alfred! eleraosynam ad ^. Thomam, Indiam detulit, indeque prospere retulit. Flor. 
Wig. 320. 

^ Rad. Die. 451. He dates it 887. 

" Bromton, 812. 

" Alfredus autem niisit elemosynam suam Roma; et eiiam In Indiam ad S. Tho- 
mam secundum votum quod fecerat quando hostilis exercitus hyemavit apud Lon- 
doniara. Hunt. 350. 

" Lib. vii. p. 106. 

^ Biatt West. 333. He says that Suitbelm brought hack precious stones. Malm, 
calls him Sighelm. 


®^^ and Malmsbury, mentions the curiosities which Suit- 
*— r — ' helm brought back with him. 

Malmsbury, who gives the fullest account of the 
incident, says that the king sent many presents over 
sea to Rome, and to St. Thomas, in India ; that Sig- 
helm, the bishop of Shireburn, was his ambassador, 
who penetrated with great success to India, to the 
admiration of the age ; and that he brought with him, 
on his return, many foreign gems and aromatic 
liquors, the produce of the country.*^ In another 
passage, Malmsbury declares, that some of those gems 
were to be seen in his days, in the monuments of the 

In the former editions of this work, for the pur- 
pose of verifying this extraordinary incident, a careful 
investigation was pursued, in order to show that it 
was long before believed that Saint Thomas had been 
in India ; that in the age of Alfred he was presumed 
to have died there ; and that at that time there 
were Christians living there. It was also proved that 
such journeys were in those days attempted, and the 
inference was drawn from these facts, that the asser- 
tions of our chroniclers were not counteracted by 
any improbability in their assertions of this remark- 
able embassy.^ 

^ £t trans' mare Bomam et ad Sanctum Thomam in Indiam multa munera 
misit. Legatus in hoc missus Sigelmus Scirebumensis episcopus cimi magna pros- 
peritate, quod quivis hoc seculo miretur, Indiam penetravit : inde rediens exoticos 
tplendores gemmarum et liquores aromatum, quorum ilia humus ferax est, reportavit 
De Gestis, p. 44. 

•^ NonnuUs Ularum adhuc in ecclesis roonumentis visuntur. Malms, de Pont 

" In the Saxon life of St. Thomas in MaCalig. A. 14., which is ascribed to 
ElfHc in Jul. £. 7., the legendary account there is, " The Saviour himself came to 
him from heaven, and said to him, * A king of the Indians, who is called Gundo- 
forus, will send his gerefa to Syrians land to seek some labourer who is skilful in 
arts. I will soon send thee forth with him.* Thomas answered, ' Send me whither 
thou wilt, except to the Indians.* But, on the command to go being repeated, he 
assented, and, when the regal officer came, they went together to the ship and reared 
their sail and proceeded with the wind ; and they sailed forth then seven nights 
before they reached a shore, but it would be long to tell all the wonders that he did 
there. They came next to the king in India, and Abbanes boldly brought Thomas 
to the speech of the king, who said to him, • Canst thou build me a kingly mansion 


The journeys and writings of the late Claudius chap. 
Buchanan, and of other travellers ; and the subse- - ^ 
quent efforts and correspondence of our Bible and 
Missionary Societies, have completely confirmed the 
facts, not only that Syrian Christian churches were 
early founded in the Indian peninsula, but that they 
are still existing in the same parts. And as the 
curious reader may desire to see our former collec- 
tion of authorities, it is reprinted in the appendix to 
this chapter. 

No others of Alfred's foreign correspondencies 
have been transmitted to us, besides the compliment 
from the Jerusalem patriarch ; except some donations 
from the pope^, and several messages and presents 
from Alfred to Rome. The king appears to have 
sent embassies or couriers to Rome in several succes- 
sive years.^* 

When the measures are mentioned by which Alfred 
endeavoured to excite in his subjects a love of letters, 
it will not be forgotten that the University of Oxford 
has been connected with his memory. 

The concurring testimonies of some respectable au- 
thors seem to prove, that he founded public schools 
in this city ; and therefore the University, which has 
long existed with high celebrity, and which has en- 
riched every department of literature and science by 
the talents it has nourished, may claim Alfred as one 
of its authors, and original benefactors. 

But this incident, plain and intelligible as it ap- 
pears to be, is environed with a controversy which 
demands some consideration ; for it involves nothing 
less than the decision of the superior antiquity of 

in the Roman manner ? ** Thomas tried and succeeded, and had then liberty to 
preach, and baptised, and constructed a church, and Migdonia, the king's wife's 
8ist«r, believed what he Uught" Cott MSS. Calig. A. 14. pp. 112—118. 

" Asser, 39. The pope, at Alfred's request, liberated the Saxon school in Rome 
from all pecuniary payments. Ibid. 

^ Asser, 65. The Saxon ChroDide states that in the years 883, 887, 888, 889, 
890, Alfred's alms or letters were successively sent to Rome. 


BOOK the two Universities of England. We leave to abler 
' / ■ pens the determination of the dispute, and shall only 
notice in the note a few particulars concerning the 
first periods of the contest, and the point on which it 
Hit Uwi. This indefatigable king made also a code of laws, 

with the concurrence of his witena-gemot or parlia- 
ment, which has been called his Dora-boc. In this, 
for the first time, he introduced into the Anglo-Saxon 
legislation, not only the decalogue, but also the prin- 
cipal provisions of the Mosaic legislation, contained 
in the three chapters which follow the decalogue, 
with such modifications as were necessary to adapt 
them to the Anglo-Saxon manners. In the laws 
attached to them, he mentions, that, with the con- 
currence of his witena-gemot, he had collected to- 
gether, and committed to writing, the regulations 
which his ancestors had established ; selected such of 
them as he approved, and rejected the rest. He 
adds, that he had showed them to all his witena, who 
declared that it pleased them all that these sliould be 
observed. Forty heads of laws then follow, on the 
most important subjects of the Anglo-Saxon juris- 
prudence, and legislation, obviously tending to in- 
crease the national civilisation.^^ 
Hit police. When Alfred regained his throne, and with that, 
the kingdom of Mercia, he found that the Danish 
invasions had so destroyed the ancient police of the 
kingdom, and the regular habits of the inhabitants, 
that the Anglo-Saxons were infesting each other 
with predatory depredations.^^ 

The means which he took to remedy this evil, and 

* See note 42 at the end of this chapter. 

" See those in Willcin's Leg Sax. pp. 28 — 46. I cannot doubt that these com- 
pose the dom hoc which Fome ancfent writers alluded to. 

" Ingulf, 28 ; .Malmsbury, 44. ; and the Chronicle of Joannes de Oxenedes, 
Cott MSS. Neio, D. 2. This chronicle is not much more than an abridgment of 


also to provide an efficient force to repress the chap. 
Danes, are stated to have been some modification of ^'' 
the ancient provincial divisions of England, which 
had long before been known as shires. The alter- 
ations which he made with these are not detailed. 
But it is expressly declared that he began the system 
of dividing them into hundreds, and these into ten 
parts or tithings. Under these nominal divisions, 
the population of the country was arranged. Every 
person was directed to belong to some hundred or 
tithing. Every hundred and tithing were pledged to 
the preservation of the public peace and security in 
their districts, and were made answerable for the 
conduct of their several inhabitants. In consequence 
of this arrangement, the inhabitants were speedily 
called out to repel an invader, and every criminal 
accused was sure to be apprehended. If he was not 
produced by the hundred or tithing to which he was 
attached, the inhabitants of these divisions incurred 
a general mulct. Thus every person in the district 
was interested in seizing or discovering the offender. 
If he fled, he must go to other districts, where, not 
having been marshalled within their jurisdiction, he 
would be known and punished as an outlaw, because 
unpledged ; for he who was not pledged by some 
hundred and tithing experienced all the severity 
of the law.^® It is added to this statement, that 
Alfred divided the provincial prefects into two offi- 
cers, -judges and sheriffs.^^ — Until his time there 

" Ingulf, 28. Malrasb. 44. 

™ Pnefectos vem provlnciarum qui atitea vicedoiiiini vocabantur in duo ofHcia 
divisit, id est, in judices quos nunc justiciarios vocamus et in vice comites qui adhuc 
idem nomen retinent Ingulf, 26. We will briefly remark here, that the Wflah 
anciently had the territorial divisions of cantref, a hundred, which contained two 
cymmwd ; each of these had twelve maenawr, and two tref ; in every maenawr 
were four tref, or towns ; in every town four gafoel, each of which contained four 
rhandir ; every rhandir was composed of sixteen acres. Thus every cantref con- 
tained, as the name imports, a hundred towns, or 25,600 acres. Leges Wallice, 
pp. 157, 158. The preface to these laws states South Wales to have contained sixty- 
four cantrefs, and North Wales eighteen. Ibid. p. 1. The cantref and the cymmwd 
had each a court to determine controversies. Ibid. p. 389. On finding these in 



BOOK were only sheriffs. He separated, by the appointment 
' of justices or judges, the judicial from the executing 
department of the law, and thus provided an im- 
proved administration of law and justice. That 
golden bracelets were hung up in the public roads, 
and were not pilfered, is mentioned as a fact, which 
evidenced the efficacy of his police. 

The unsettled state of society in Saxon-England, 
and that twilight of mind, which every where appears 
at this period, may have justified these severe pro- 
visions. They are, however, liable to such objections, 
that though we may admit them to have been neces- 
sary to Alfred, no modem government can wish to 
have them imitated. They may have suppressed 
robbery; they may have perpetuated public peace; 
but they were calculated to keep society in a bondage 
the most pernicious. They must have prevented 
that free intercourse, that incessant communication, 
that unrestricted travelling, which have produced so 
much of our political and literary prosperity. They 
made every hundred and tithing little insulated 
populations, to which all strangers were odious. By 
causing every member of each district to become re- 
sponsible for the conduct of every other, they con- 
verted neighbours into spies; they incited curiosity 
to pry into private conduct ; and as selfishness is 
generally malignant, when in danger of meeting in- 
jury, they must have tended to legalise habits of 
censoriousness and acrimonious calumny. 

That Alfred was assiduous to procure to his people 
the blessing of a correct and able administration of 
justice, we have the general testimony of Asser. He 
not only gave the precept, but he exhibited the ex- 
ample ; he was a patient and minute arbiter in judicial 

the laws of Hoeldha, we are tempted to suggest they may have been introduced 
among the Romanised Britons ; and from the Welsh bishop Asser's communications 
have been imitated by Alfred in his English polity. 


investigations, and this, chiefly for the sake of the chap. 
poor, to whose afikirs, amongst his other duties, he ^^' 
day and night earnestly applied himself.^^ 

When we reflect that Alfred had, in the beginning 
of his reign, transgressed on this point, he claims our 
applause for his noble self-correction. It was highly 
salutary to his subjects ; " for," says Asser, " in all 
his kingdom, the poor had no helpers, or very few 
besides him. The rich and powerful, ingrossed with 
their own concerns, were inattentive to their in- 
feriors. They studied their private, not the public 
good." ^^ The poor at this period comprised all the 
lay branches of population which were not gentry 
or noble. 

Alfred applied to the administration of justice, be- 
cause it was then so little understood, and so little 
valued by the people, that both noble and inferior 
persons were accustomed to dispute pertinaciously 
with each other in the very tribunals of justice. 
AVhat the earls and legal oflicers adjudged, was dis- 
regarded. All resorted to the king's judgment, which 
was then respectfully fulfilled. Burdensome as so 
many legal appeals must have been, he never hesi- 
tated to sacrifice his own comfort for the welfare of 
his subjects. With great discernment, and wonderful 
patience, he examined every dispute ; he reviewed 
the adjudications made by others in his absence. 
When he saw that the judges had erred, he called 
them mildly to him, and either personally, or by 
confidential persons, inquired if they had erred from 
ignorance, or malevolence, or avarice. When he 
found that ignorance had produced a wrong deci- 
sion, he rebuked tTie judges for accepting an office 
for which they were unqualified, and commanded them 
to improve themselves by study, or to abandon their 

* Asser, 69. " Ibid. " Asser, 70, 71. 

K 2 




diaease and 

The statement of Asser is in general t^rms. We 
have already alluded to the ancient law-book, the 
Mirroir des Justices, which presents to us many in- 
stances of Alfred's punishing judges for misconduct. 
Andrew Home, who wrote this work in Norman 
French, in the time of Edward the Second^, has 
been attacked with severity, by Dr. Hickes, because 
he makes the institution of juries to be anterior to 
the Conquest.^ The objections of this respectable 
critic are, however, weakened by the recollections 
that lord Coke and Spelman, before Hickes wrote, 
and bishop Nicholson ^^ since, have maintained, with 
others, that the Anglo-Saxons had juries, and we see 
that Home professes to have taken his facts from the 
records of the court. 

Some of the cases stated in the Mirror show that 
Alfred was assiduous in protecting the independence, 
the purity, and the rights of jurymen. He punished 
capitally some judges for deciding criminal cases by 
an arbitrary violation of the right of jury. 

" He hanged Cad>vine, because he condemned 
Hachwy to death without the assent of all the jurors, 
in a case where he put himself upon the jury of 
twelve men, and because Cadwine removed three 
who wished to save him against the nine, for three 
others into whose jury this Hachwy did not put 

" He hanged Markes, because he adjudged During 
to death by twelve men not sworn." 

" He hanged Freberne, because he adjudged Harpin 
to death when the jurors were in doubt about their 
verdict ; for when in doubt, we ought rather to save 
than condemn." ^^ 

The numerous occupations, both public and private, 

"* It was printed In London, 1642. A translation appeared in 1646. 
•• See Hickes^s Dissertatio Epistolaris, p. 34 — 43. 

* See the bishop's pre&ce to Wilkins's Leges Anglo-Saxonics. 

* Mirror, pp. 296—298. 


to which this active-minded king directed his atten- chap. 
tion, seem sufficient to have occupied the longevity - 

of a Nestor. Yet Alfred died at the age of fifty-two, 
and his life was literally a life of disease. The ficus 
molested him severely in his childhood. ^^ After 
distressing him for many years, this malady disap- 
peared, but at the age of twenty was replaced by 
another of the most tormenting nature. It attacked 
him before all the people, suddenly with an immense 
pain, during, and probably caused by, the protracted 
banquets, " day and night," of his nuptial festivities ; 
and never left him.^^ Its seat was internal and in- 
visible^^; but its agony was incessant. Such was the 
dreadful anguish it perpetually produced, that if for 
one short hour it happened to intermit, the dread 
and horror of its inevitable return poisoned the little 
interval of ease.^^ The skill of his Saxon physicians 
was unable to detect its nature, or to alleviate its 
pain. Alfred had to endure it unrelieved.^ It is 
not among the least admirable circumstances of this 
extraordinary man, that he withstood the fiercest 
hostilities that ever distressed a nation, cultivated 
literature, discharged his public duties, and exe- 
cuted all his schemes for the improvement of his 
people, amid a perpetual agony, so distressing, that 

" Asser, p. 40. 

* Post diutuma die noctuque convivia sublto et immensa atque omnibuB medicis 
incognito confestim coram omni populo correptus est dolore. Asser, 40. It was 
afflicting him in the forty-fifth year of his life, when Asser wrote the paragraph 
which mentioned it The expressions of Asser, ** daily banquets by day and night," 
imply that they were continued for some days ; and this exhausting continuation 
may have given Alfred*s constitution the irretrievable blow. 

* Asser describes it as incognitum enim erat omnibus qui tunc aderant et etiam 
hue usque quotidie cementibus, p. 40. 

^ Sed si aliquando Dei misericordia miius diei aut noctis vel etiam unius hore 
Intervallo ilia inflrmitas seposita fuerat, timor tamen ac tremor illius execrabilis 
doloris unquam eum non deserit Asser, 42. 

^> From this disorder continuing so long with such acute pain, without destroying 
him sooner ; from the period of his life when it began ; from its internal situation ; 
from its horrible agony, and tram its not appearing to have ceased till his death, 
some coixjecture may be formed of it ; at least, I understand, there are some diseaan 
incident to the human frame, as internal cancer, or some derangement of the biliary 
ftinctions, to which these circumstances are applicable. 

K 3 


BOOK it would have disabled a common man from the least 


< >. 9 


* We bare referred to thb place a ciinory reriew of the former dfacuMSons be- 
tween Oxford and Cambridge, which hare been connected with (be menHNy of 
AlArcd. This dispute did not bunt out publiclr till the reign of Elisabeth. When 
the queen viiited Cambridge in 1564, the orator of the university unfortunately 
dcdared in bb harangue, that Cambridge truly claimed a superior antiquity to 
Oxford. Enraged that an attempt should have been insidiously made to prepossess 
the ear of nuOesty to its prejudice, Oxford retaliated the aggressioo, by asserting. 
In a written composition, to the queen, when she came to the uniTenity in 1566, 
that it was Oxford, and Oxford only, which could truly boast the earliest foundation. 
Wars, horrid wan ! became then the business and the amusement of erery 
student Cantabs and Oxonians arranged themselves to battle ; and every weapon 
of polemical erudition and polemical fury was raised against eac^ other. 

Caius, one of the leaden in this discussion, published a quarto, in defence of 
Cambridge, in 1574. He said, he came to restore peace ; as if, I7 assuring the 
worid that Cambridge was in the right, he could ever give tranquillity to Oxford. 

Oxford denied the right of an insidious partisan to be a peacemaker ; and at last 
Brian Twyne appeared, with a book as large and as fiill as that of Caius, in which 
the glory of Oxford was sturdily and angrily maintained. Many combatants at^ 
▼arious intervals succeeded, and the conflict became as ardent as, from the firagility 
of the materials, it was InefTectuaL 

Some of the friends of Cambridge managed to see the first stones of their univer- 
sity laid in the 1 73d year after the flood. Others, however, who were not blessed 
with optics which had the faculty of seeing what had never been visible, very wisely 
postponed the existence of their favourite till about four centuries before the Chris- 
tian «ra. At that period, they found out that one Cantaber, a royal Spanish 
emigrant, who came to England in the days of Gurguntius, had sent for Greek 
philosopben fn>m Athens, and given to Cambridge a local habitation, and a name. 
It was easy for Oxford to otyect, that Cantaber was but one of those airy nothings 
which the poet or the antiquary, in his frenzy, discerns. It was not more diflBcult 
to laugh at the wise and learned giants, who were placed as the aborigines of our 
IslaiHl, and who fint cultivated letters. But the Oxonian champion did not content 
himself with destroying all the supentructures of Cambridge vanity. The heralds 
of national ancestry are as fond of their own chimeras as they are intolerant of the 
antiquarian progeny of others. Hence, though the advocate of Oxford denied to 
Cambridge its Cantaber, he conceived it to be just to claim for Oxford a colony of 
Greek philosophers, who came into the island with Brutus, and established a college 
at Cricklade, which was afterwards translated to Bello Situm, where Oxford now 
stands. See Caius Ant. Cantab, and Twyne's Antiq. Acad. Oxon. 

The fame of Oxford was, however, not wholly intrusted to phantoms. A basis 
more secure was found for it in a passage printed under the name of Asser ; and 
it is this unfortunate passage which has connected the dispute with the history of 

An edition of Asser was published from a MS. of Camden, In 1603 ; in which a 
paragraph appeared, stating, that in 886, a discord arose at Oxford between Gr}'m- 
bold and his learned friends whom be had brought with him, and those ancient 
schoolmen whom he found there, and who refused to obey entirely his institutions. 
Three years the dissension lasted. Alfred, to appease it, went to Oxford. The 
ancient schoolmen contended, that before the arrival of Grymbold, lettere had 
flourished there, though the scholan had been fewer ; and they proved, by the in- 
dubitable testimony of ancient annals, that the ordinations and institutes of this 
place had been established by some pious and erudite men, as Glldas, Melkin, Nen- 
nius, Kentigcm, and othen, who there grew old in letten ; and that St. Germain, 
who resided half a year at Oxford, had also approved of them. The king recom- 
mended peace ; but Grymbold, dissatisfied, withdrew to Winchester. 

Such is the Import of this contested paragraph. If it had been genuine. It gave 
tht evidence of Asser, that there had been public schools at Oxford, at least In the 


fifth and sixth centuries, when Germain and others lived. NoV Cambridge had CHAP, 
no such plausible documents as this. Its friends had indeed talked of Arthur's yj^ 

charters, but these were soon descried as surreptitious. The most ancient his- « 
torical dress that it could assume, with any decorous attention to probability, was 
Bede*s paragraph, about Sigebert establishing schools in East Anglia ; and Sigebert 
lived above a century after Gildaa. 

But unfortunately for the fame of Oxford, Parker, archbishop of Canterbury, had 
published, in Saxon types, an edition of Asser, in 1574, from a MS. in which this 
passage was not to be found. The ancient MS. of Asser, in the Cotton Library, 
which has been thought to have been written within a century after its author's 
death, was also without this clausie. It was Otho, A. 12., since burnt. 

Here, then, was the point of an elaborate controversy : was this passage written 
by Asser ? Did Parker insidiously omit it, or did Camden surreptitiously insert It, 
or was it really wanting in the one MS. and really existing in the other ? The 
controversy had begun before Parker published his Asser, but it was then in its 
infimcy. When Camden*s Asser appeared, it was raging in all its vidence. Cam* 
den's MS., which he thought to have been the age of Richard II., was never pro- 
duced after it was printed ; and no other MSS. can now be obtained to determine 
the question. See Wood, Hist Oxf. p. 9. 

Oxford and Cambridge have since produced such great scholars in every depart 
ment of knowlege, and such distinguished men in the most honourable paths of 
active life, that controversies like these are felt to be unworthy of their attention, 
and are not now even thought of. The point of emulation is known to be, which 
can now produce the ablest men ; not which first began their formation. 

K 4 





BOOK In considering Alfred's Indian embassy, we are led at the 
V. outset to inquire whether Saint Thomas ever had been in 
India ; whether in the age of Alfred he was believed to have 
died there ; and whether at that time there were Christians 
living there. Our scepticism may also desire to know if 
Buch journeys were in those days attempted, because if these 
four questions can be answered affirmatively, the assertion of 
our chroniclers will not be counteracted by any improbability 
in the circumstance which they attest. 

That St. Thomas the Apostle extended his annunciations 
of Christianity into India, is asserted by several fathers ^ by 
the Syrian authors ^, and by the Christians, who have lived 
and are living in the Indian peninsula.' 

It is not of great importance to our subject to ascertain 
whether Saint Thomas really taught in India ; we know of 
the circumstance only from tradition, and tradition is a ca- 
pricious sylph, which can seldom be allowed to accompany 
the dignified march of authentic history ; but it is essential 
to inquire, if in the time of Alfred it was believed that the 
Apostle had been there, because if it had become an article 

* Fabricius remarks, that vulgo India Thorns tribuitur, and dt«8 Ambrosius, In 
Ps. 45. Hieronymum Eplst. 148. and Micetas, with others, Codex Apocryph. i. 
p. 687. Assemanni, in his elaborate Bibliotheca Orientalis, quotes most largely on 
this sul^ect Origen, Eusebius, Ruflnus, Socrates, and others, assign Parthia to 
Thomas. To this India is added by Gregory Mazlanzen, Hippolytus, Sophronius, 
and all the Martyrologists. Tom. ill pars 2. p. 25. ed. Boms, 1728. 

' The collection of Assemanni is peculiarly valuable for its introducing to the 
knowledge of Europe many Syrian authors, fh>m whose works he translated copious 
extracts out of the Syriac into Latin, lie asserts of the Syrians, that Thomam 
Indis prsedicusse ubique affirmant, p. 30. — Again, non Indianim Christiani sed 
etiam Assyris ac Mesopotamia; Nestoriani affirmant eum Indorum, Sinensiumque 
Apostolum fuisse, p. 436. He adds his Syriac authorities. The Orientalist Du 
Ouignes, says, " Une foule des auteurs tant Grecs que Syriens paroissent ne pas 
doubter que St. Thomas n'ait penetre dans Tlnde pour y precher la religion Chre- 
tlenne." Acad, des Inscript v. liv. p. 323. 

■ Mr. Gibbon says, " When the Portuguese first opened the navigation of India, 
the Christians of St Thomas had been seated for ages on the coast of Malabar, and 
the difference of their character and colour attested the mixture of a foreign race. 
In arms, in arts, and possibly in virtue, they excelled the natives of Hindostan,** 
ToL iv. quarto, p. 699. J 



of the popular creed (whether rightly or not) that Saint 
Thomas had died in India, this persuasion would have been 
the motive which, operating on Alfred's curiosity, may have 
suggested the Indian embassy. 

That the opinion had been afloat before, is obvious, from 
the assertions of the fathers ^ ; that it was accredited in the 
west of Europe, in the sixth century, is proved by a curious 
passage of Gregory of Tours, the parent of Frankish history, 
who has transmitted to us the narration which he had received 
from one Theodore.* This man professed to have travelled 
to India, and described the monastery which had been erected 
there, over the body of St. Thomas. That the same notion 
remained to the days of Alfred, is as clear; because the 
account drawn up by Elfric, who lived at the close of the 
tenth century, states at length the romance which the re- 
spected fables of preceding ages had preserved concerning 
the Indian journey of St. Thomas.^ It was in full credit in 
the twelfth century, for Odericus makes it a part of his 
ecclesiastical history.^ 

But were there any Christians at that time living in India? 
Because, if not, the embassy was ridiculous. The generally 
diffused tradition may have suggested to Alfred the idea of 
the scheme ; but unless there was the local truth of Christians 
residing in a particular part of India, the king must have 
been a dreamer. To have delegated a mission to wander 
over the extensive district of India, till they had found a 
city called Calamine, and the shrine of St. Thomas, without 
any previous topographical indication of a particular district, 
was too wild a thought to have been countenanced by an 



* What Hippolytus states of Thomas is the epitome of every other tradition. It 
is that he perished in the Indian city of Calamine, and was buried there. Fab. Cod. 

* Ordericus Vitalis says of Gregory, whom he quotes, ** Scribit quod a Theodoro 
quodam de Sancto Thoma audivit qui tunc temporis in Indiam percgrinatus fuerat 
et inde revorsus hiec inter cstera narravit,** p. 414. As Gregor>' of Tours accre- 
dited Theodore, it is obvious that bis narration, whether true or false, was admitted 
in our hemisphere in the sixth century. 

' The narration of Elfric has been noticed before in note 22, of this chapter^ 
pp. 126, 127., and its substance quoted. He says, he translated it on the importunity 
of the venerable Dux Ethelwold ; that he had himself doubted for some time whether 
he ought to put it into English, because St Austin ol^ected to one part of the nar- 
ration ; but that at last he determined to omit this, and to translate the rest con« 
cemlng St Thomas's death. This Anglo-Saxon history of St Thomas contains an 
abridgment of the Apostolical History ascribed to Abdias. The amiable Melancthon 
says of this, " Legat has qui volet — Ac suaserim potius ne legant omnino. Sunt 
enim ilUiscripta mirifica et referta falsitate manifesta.'* See Fabricius Cod. Apoc 
393. and 687. for the Legend. 

' See it pp. 410 — 414. Hie in Anglia natus est, 1075. Du Chesne prsfktiou 


BOOK But on invedtigatiDg ancient remains, we find the fact to 

^- be as authentic as it is curious, that there were Christians 
' then flourishing in the Indian peninsula. 

The Syriac letter of Jesujabus Abjabenus the Nestorian 
patriarch, to Simeon the metropolitan of the Persians, written 
m the seventh century % yet exists, and satisfactorily ex- 
presses the fact. It calls to the metropolitan's recollection, 
that he had *^ shut the doors of the episcopal imposition of 
hands before many people of India." It states that " the 
sacerdotal succession is interrupted among the people of 
India, nor in India only, which, from the maritime borders 
of Persia, extends to Colon, a space of above 1200 parasangs, 
but even lies in darkness in your Persian region." ^ 

That Christianity had in these times obtained footing in 
India, is a reasonable inference, from the larger fact of its 
existence in China, in the seventh and eighth centuries. ^^ 
About the year 720, Salibazacha, the Nestorian patriarch, 
created metropolitans in China, as well as at Samarcand ^^ ; 
and Timotheus, who had the same dignity from 788 to 820, 
appointed David to the head of the ecclesiastics in China. '^ 
If in the eighth and ninth centuries, Christianity so flourished 
in China, as to support a metropolitan dignity, no one will 
hesitate to believe that it was exbting in India. 

The most detailed statement on this subject, is that of the 
Grecian traveller Cosmas, sumamed Indico Pleustes ; if that 
really be the name of the author of the Christian topography *', 
he performed his voyage in 522.^^ He mentions Christians 
not only in other places of the East, but in India, in Ceylon, 

■ JesiUabus died 660. Assemanni Bib. Or. T. ii. p. 420. and T. ill. p. 616. 
AvMMimnni gives the Syriac, with a Latin version. 

* ** QikmI sicuti fores Impositionis manus Episcopatus coram raultis Indis popuUs 
(KU'luvlHtls." Tom. iii. pars 2. p 27. " Intemipta est ab Indiae populis sacerdotalis 
■urcrMlo ncc India solum qus a maritlrois regni Persarum flnibus usqne ad Colon 
kiwtlu ducontarum supra nulle parasangarum extenditur, sed et ipsa Persarum regie 
vc^t ra — in tenebris jacet " Ibid. 

•• On this 8ul^jcct I follow, as I think I ought, the guidance of the learned Aaae- 
frianni. lie says, ** Sub cognomine Gadalensi An. Cli. 636, prsedicatores Evangelii 
III liMarum Sinarum rcgnum penetrasse, ex monumento lapideo, anno 781, erecto 
tmuppfUim wt." V. 28. 

** ** HiilibAxarha item Ncstorianorum patriarcha (Bib. Or. t 3. p. 346.) drca 
Nfiiiiitii 7Un llcrlir, Snmarcands et Sinarum metropolitas creavit** Assem. p. 88. 

*" " 'IMmiiihruii, qui ab anno 778 ad annum 820 Nestorianis, Pnefuit, Davidem 
O'MM n. p. 4 Mil,) Nincnsibus metropoliUm dedit" Assem. p. 28. 

*• OlMwMi fiiliows the learned in so naming him, v. 4. p. 79. quarto. Fkbridos 
UitUimltm that as Indlroplcustrs alludes to his Indian navigation, so Cosmas may 
«rM|»rirM tlmt h« wr«»te the topography of the world. Bib. Graxa, 2. p. 612. This 
•• «if tut fiumii'til. The author was an extensive merchant ; he lived long in Egypt ; 

*r?Jl* « ^'•"■'wlrta. and was, or became a monk. Fabr. p. 613. 
^ " if M TfjWfmpblca ChrisUana Is In Montfkucon's Collections of the Fitiien, 

» H> I Ii— 4M. Mid purt of It in Thevenot Relations Curieufles. GIWmo, pu 79. 



and, what comes nearest to our subject^ in Male, which we 
call Meliapour.^^ 

It is to the zeal and activity of the Nestorian Christians, 
that this extensive dissemination is chiefly to be attributed. 
Their traditions, or history on this subject, demand our re- 
spect. In 1504, their Indian bishops stated to the then 
Nestorian patriarch, that there was a place called the house 
of St. Thomas ; that it was twenty-five days' journey from 
Cananore ; that it was on the sea in the city of Meliapour.^^ 

From the ninth century to the sixteenth, the state of the 
Indian Christians varied J^ Ludovicus, who travelled in 
India, and in many parts of Asia and Africa, about the year 
1500, mentions, that he found Christians in an Indian city, 
who called themselves of St. Thomas ^^; and in 1504, the 
bishops in India stated these Christians to be about 30,000 
in number. ^^ The archbishop of Gon, who visited the Malabar 
coast in 1599, mentions, that he found Christians there, and 
that their chief churches and cities were Angamale, Cranganor, 
Cochinum, Coulanum, Melinpora, Calicut, and Cananor.^ 
Tachard found them in the mountains of Malabar in 1711 ^' ; 
and the latest accounts declare, that they exist in these parts. 

Thus then we find, that in the days of Alfred, it was be- 
lieved that St. Thomas perished in India ; that there were at 
that time, and have been up to this century. Christians in 
the Indian peninsula ; and that Meliapour, on the Malabar 
coast, has been for ages the spot pointed out by local tra- 
dition, as the scene of St Thomas's fate. These facts afford 
a good ground for Alfred's embassy. It only remains to 
inquire if such journeys were in those days undertaken, and 
if it is probable that the ambassadors, having commenced such 
an expedition, could have been able to have completed it. 

** In Taprobana Insula ad interiorem Indlam ubi Indicum pelagua eitat Ecclesia 
Christianorum habetur ubi clerici et fldeles reperiuntur — Similiter in Male ut 
vocant ubi gignitur piper — Itemquc apud Bactros Hunnos Persas, rellquos Indos, 
kc. ecclesiie inflnits sunt.*' Co6ma!^ cited by Assem. p. 437, and 28. 

** Assemanni, p. 34. The Mahometans sanction the account of the early estab- 
lishment of the Christians in India. Ferishtah, in his general History of Ilindostan, 
says, ** Formerly, before the rise of the religion of Islam, a company of Jews and 
Christians came by sea into the country (Malabar) and setUed as merchants. 
They continued to live until the rise of the Mussulman religion.*' Asiatic Register, 
MisceL p. 151. 

" Assemanni relates their prosperity and vicissitudes until the arrival of the 
Portuguese in India, and their fortunes afterwards, p. 441. Renandot declares, that 
Meliapour was known by the name of St Thomas Be-tuma for ages among the Arabs. 
Ancient Account of India, p. 80. 

^ "Illic (hoc est in Caicolon Indix urbi) nacti sumus non nullos Christianot 
qui Divi Thonue nuncupantur.'* L. 6. c. 1. ap. Assem. 451. 

^ Assemanni quotes them, p. 450. 

^ Assem. 446, and 635. >* Assem. 449. 





BOOK That a Persian ambassador should visit Charlemagne ^^ ; 

^' that Arcuulfus should^ in the eighth century, travel to Je- 

• rusalem, Damascus, and Alexandria *' ; and that Abel, the 

patriarch of Jerusalem, should have sent letters with presents, 

and of course messengers to Alfred ^^, are circumstances which 

make the Indian embassy credible. 

We have the account of another journey in the same cen- 
tury, which also proves that there were spirits then existing^ 
whose curiosity for such distant expeditions prevailed over 
their fears. 

In 870, three monks, desirous to see the places so cele- 
brated in the Christian writings, undertook a journey to 
Palestine, and the Egyptian Babylon. Their itinerary, 
written by Bernard, one of the travellers, is extant.** They 
first went to Mount Garganum, in which they found the 
church of St. Michael. This is near the Gulf of Manfre- 
donia. A hundred and fifty miles brought them to Barre, 
then a city of the Saracens, but which had once been subject 
to the Beneventans. This is on the south-east side of Itfdy ; 
they sought admission to the prince of the city, who was 
called a suldan, and obtained leave to prosecute their journey 
with letters to the chief of Alexandria and Babylon, de- 
scribing their countenances, and the object of their journey. 

From Barre, they walked ninety miles to the port of 
Tarentum, where they found six ships, two going to Tripoli, 
and two to other parts of Africa, with some captives. After 
thirty days' sailing they reached Alexandria : here the master 
of the ship exacted six pieces of gold before he would let them 
leave it.** 


^ See the iLitronomer*8 Annales FraDCorum, ann. S07. in Reuberi Germ. Script, 
p. 35. 

" See the first volume of thU history. 

** Asser declares, that he saw and read these letters. ** Nam etiam'de Hieroso- 
lyma Abel patriarchs epistolas et dona iUi directas vidimus et legimus,'* p. 58. It 
appears to me very likely, that the emissaries of Abel supplied Alfre<l with the 
local information that he wanted. Mesopotamia was the great seat of ihe Nesto- 
rians, and it is very reasonable to suppose, that the patriarch of Jerusalem and his 
officers, were well acquainted with the diffusion of this party. 

^ It is in MS. in the Cotton Library. Faustina, B. I., and it has been printed 
by Mabillon in his Acta Benedict fh>m another MS. ; he dates it 870. The latter 
MS. has 970. It begins thus : ** Anno ab incamatione Domini nostri Jesu Christi, 
970. in nomine domlni volentes videre loca sanctorum qu« fuerunt Jerosolymis. 
Ego Bemardus duobus memet ipsum sociavl fhitribus in devotione caritatis ex quibua 
erat unus ex monasterio Beati Vincentl Beneventani nomine Theudemundus, alter 
Hispanus nomine Stephanus; igitur adeuntes in urbe paps Nicolal pnesentiam 
obtinuimus cum sua henedictione nee non et auxilio pergendi desideratam licen* 

* He says, that wishing to go ashore they were hindered, *< A principe nau- 
tarum qui erat super 60, ut autem nobis copia daretor exeundi dedimus aureos x.** 




They produced to the governor of Alexandria the letter of 
the suldan of Barre, but it did them no good ; a present of 
thirteen denarii a»piece was more serviceable. Bernard re- 
marks, that it was the custom of Alexandria to take the 
money by weight ; he says, six of the solidi and denarii which 
they carried out with them, weighed only three of those at 
Alexandria. The governor gave them letters to the chief of 
Babylon ; but by Babylon, it is obvious that Bernard means 
a principal city in Egypt, and* not the famous Babylon which 
spread along the Euphrates. 

Sailing up the Nile south for six days, they came to the 
city of Egyptian Babylon." The guards of the place con- 
ducted them to the governor ; their letters were useless, and 
they were sent to prison ; a present of denarii as before re- 
leased them. In return for this, he made them out letters, 
which, he said, whoever saw, would in no place or town 
exact any more. They could not leave this Babylon without 
a sealed permission, which some more denarii were required 
to obtain. 

Bernard proceeds to describe his journey from Egypt to 
Jerusalem ^, which need not be given here, as- enough has 
been extracted to give some idea of the practicability and 
course of oriental expeditions. He mentions one trait of 
Jerusalem, which shows, that some intercourse was main- 
tained by devotion between these distant places, and the 
west of Europe. He says, ** we were received there in the 
mansion of hospitality of the most glorious Charlemagne, in 
which all are received who visit this place for devotion, and 
who speak the Roman language.'' ^ From Jerusalem they 
sailed in sixty days, with an unfavourable wind, to Italy. 

These particulars show, that it was very practicable to 
get to Alexandria and up the Nile, into the interior of 
Egypt, and to traverse Egypt and Palestine, although among 
Mahometans. What then should make it more difficult for 



" lie states, that Alexandria was on the sea ; on the east and west was a monas- 
tery ; north was the gate of the city. " A meridie habult introitum Gyon sive 
Niltis qui regat Egyptum et currit per mediaro civitatera intrans in mare in pne- 
dicto portu. In quo intrantes navigimus ad meridiem diebus sex et venimus ad 
dvitatem BabiIoni«e Egypti ubi regnavit quondam I'harao rex.** MSS. 

" It is shortly ; back up the Mile in three days to Sitinuth ; thence to Maalla ; 
thence they sailed to Amiamate, qus habuit ab aquilone mare ; thence sailed to 
Tanis, to Faramea ; here was a multitude of camels. The desert of six days* 
Journey began fh>m this city ; it had only palm-trees ; in the middle were two 
hospitia ; the earth was fertile to Gaza ; thence to Alariza, to Ramula, to Emaus 
Castle, to Jerusalem. 

" Cui adjacet ecclesia in honore S«e Maris nobillssimam habens bibliothecam 
studio prgedicti Imperatoris. Ibid. 

142 tilSTORY OF TUE 

BOOK a traveller to go on through Egypt to Suez, or at Suez to 
^' ^ find shipping for the coast of Malabar ? 

Some further circumstances may be nwted which must 
have considerably facilitated the progress of Alfred's ambas- 
sadors. Of these the great influence of the Nestorian 
Christians, in the courts of the Mussulman princes, may be 
ranked among the chief. 

Nestorians were frequently appointed by the Saracen 
caliphs, to the government of cities, provinces, and towns, 
especially in Adjabene, and in Assyria.*^ In the ninth cen- 
tury, these districts were actually under the Nestorian 

The scribes and physicians of the Caliphs, and chiefs of 
Arabia, were also in general Nestorians.^ This courtly 
situation gave them great influence among their own party *', 
and must have frequently enabled them to extend to their 
friends a very powerful protection. 

Now as the Nestorians abounded over Persia, Chaldea, 
Mesopotamia, Syria, Arabia, and Egypt ^, and as Alfred's 
mission was to one of their Indian colonies, and to do honour 
to the apostle whom they so much reverenced, and whose 
remains they professed to have preserved, his ambassadors 
would of course experience all the friendship and protection 
which their leaders could display or obtain. If, from Jeru- 
salem, the Saxon bishop took his journey to the Euphrates, 
to sail to India from the Persian gulph ; or if, from Alex- 
andria, he went to Suez, and thence navigated from the Red 
Sea to the coast of Malabar; yet both tracts abounded with 
Nestorians, and of course with persons willing and able to 
instruct, to guide, and to protect him. 

We may therefore infer, from all these facts, that there is 
nothing improbable, nor even romantic, in Alfred's embassy 
to India. The authorities which affirm it are respectable, 
and from the credibility which they derive from the other 
circumstances alluded to they may be trusted. 

"^ Hlnc piimo adbibiti a chaliphis ad regimen provinciarum urbium oppidorunt 
ex eadem secta pnefecti quorum mentio in hlstoria Nestoriana frequenter occurrit ac 
pnesertim in Adjjabene et in Assyria ubi plurimi babitabant Assemanni, p. 96. 

'* Assem. ib. 

** Secundo tam Chalipbs quam regni Arabici proceres Nestorianls scribis medi- 
cisque usi. He adduces a great many instances, both of physicians and scribes, or 
secretaries. Assem. 97. 

" Horum scribanim mcdiconimque tanta erat in christianos suae sects auctoritas 
ut neque patriarcbarum electiones neque ecclesiastica negotia ipsis inconsultis con- 
fleerantur. Assem. ib. 

** See Assemanni, SI. 





The Reign of Edward the Elder. 


Alfred had been called to the crown in preference to chap. 
the children of his elder brother. Their pretensions j^Jl^ 
were equally neglected at his death ; and Edward, his the EWer. 
son, who had distinguished himself against Hastings, 
was chosen by the nobles as their king.^ 

Ethelwold, one of the disregarded princes, in oppo- 
sition to the decision of the Anglo-Saxon witena, 
aspired to the crown, and seized Wirabum, declaring 
that he would keep it or perish.^ But when the king 
advanced with an army against him, he fled, at night, 
to the Northumbrian Danes ; and exciting their sym- 
pathy, was appointed their sovereign at York, over 
all their other kings and chiefs.^ 

By this incident he became formidable both to 
Edward and his people. The Northmen colonists, by 
occupying all Northumbria and East Anglia, inde- 
pendently of Edward, possessed one-third part of 
England ; and if Ethelwold's abilities had equalled 
his ambition, or if Edward had been a weaker charac- 
ter, the Northmen might have gained the sovereignty 
of the island. But Ethelwold seems not to have long 
pleased his new subjects ; for he was afterwards on 


* A primatis electus. Ethelwerd, 847. He was crowned at the Whitsuntide 
after bis father's death. Ibid. 

2 Sax. Cb. 100. Hen. Hunt 352. Matt West 351. At Whnbum, he possessed 
himself of a nun by force, and married her. Ibid. 

* Hen. Hunt 352. Matt West. 351. Sax. Ch. 100. Flor. 337. The king 
replaced the nun in her retreat 






the Elder. 



the seas a pirate *, and sailed to France in quest of 
partisans to distress the king.^ He returned with a 
great fleet, and subdued Essex ^ ; persuading the East 
Anglian Danes to join him, he entered Mercia, and 
ravaged as far as Cricklade. He even passed the 
Thames into Wessex, and plundered in Wiltshire ; but 
the Anglo-Saxons not supporting him, he returned. 
The army of Edward followed him, and ravaged, in 
retaliation, to the fens of Lincolnshire. When the 
king withdrew, he directed his forces not to separate. 
The Kentish troops neglected his orders, and remained 
after the others had retired. Ethelwold eagerly at- 
tacked them with superior numbers. The Kentish 
men were overpowered, but their defence was despe- 
rate. Their chiefs fell ; and the author of the quar- 
rel also perished in his victory.^ His fate released 
the island from the destructive competition ; and a 
peace, two years afterwards, restored amity between 
the Anglo-Saxons and Anglo-Danes.^ 

But war was soon renewed between the rival 
powers. With his Mercians and West-Saxons, Edward, 
in a five weeks' depredation of Northumbria, de- 
stroyed and plundered extensively. In the next year, 
the Northerns devastated Mercia.^ A misconception 
of the Danes brought them within the reach of the 

* Id exillum trusus pirates adduxerat Ifalm. 46. 

* Matt West 351. 

* Hunt 352. Sax. Ch. 100. 

' Sax. Ch. 101. Hunt 352. Eohric, the Anglo-Daniiih king, fell in the struggle. 
Ethelwerd places this battle at Holme, 848. Holme in Saxon means a river island. 
In Lincolnshire there is one called Axelholme. Camd. 474. The printed Saxon 
Chronicle makes a battle at Holme in 902, besides the battle wherein Ethelwold 
fell ; but the MS. Chron. Tib. b. iv. omits the battle in 902. So the MS. Tib. b. L 
With these Florence agrees ; and therefore the passage of 902., in the printed 
Chronicle, may be deemed a mistake. 

■ Sax. Chron. Matt West adds, that the king immediately afterwards reduced 
those who had rebelled against him : £t maxime cives Londonlenses et Oxonienses, 
p. 352. In 905, Ealhswythe, the widow of Alfred, died ; and her brother, Athulf, 
an ealdorman, in 903. Sax. Ch. 101. She had founded a monastery of nuns at 
Winchester. Mailros, 146. 

* Sax. Ch. 102. Hunt. 352. The MS. Saxon Chronicles mention, that the 
defratcd at this time the Danes at Totanheale. Florence and Hoveden 

coDiUct and place in Staffordshire. 



king's sword. While he was tarrying in Kent, he 
collected one hundred ships, which he sent to guard 
the south-eastern coast '^, probably to prevent new 
invasions. The Danes, fancying the great body of his 
forces to be on the seas,*advanced into the country to 
the Avon, and plundered without apprehension, and 
passed onwards to the Severn. Edward immediately 
sent a powerful army to attack them ; his orders were 
obeyed. The Northerns were surprised into a fixed 
battle at Wodensfield, and were defeated, with the 
slaughter of many thousands. Two of their kings 
fell, brothers of the celebrated Ingwar, and therefore 
children of Ragnar Lodbrog, and many earls and 
officers. ^^ The Anglo-Saxons sung hymns on their 
great victory. ^^ 

The event of this battle established the superiority 
of Edward over his dangerous neighbours, and checked 
the progress of their power. He pursued the plans 
which Alfred had devised for the protection of his 
throne. As the Danes possessed the north of Eng- 
land, from the Humber to the Tweed, and the eastern 
districts, from the Ouse to the sea, he protected his 
own frontiers by a line of fortresses. In the places 
where irruptions into Mercia and Wessex were most 
practicable, and therefore where a prepared defence 
was more needed, he built burghs or fortifications. 
He filled these with appointed soldiers, who, when in- 
vaders approached, marched out in junction with the 
provincials to chastise them. No time was lost in 
waiting for the presence of the king, or of the earls 
of the county : they were empowered to act of them- 
selves on every emergency; and by this plan of 
vigilance, energy, and co-operation, the invaders were 
so easily defeated, that they became a derision to the 



the Elder. 

* » » 

*» Sax. Ch. 102. » Flo, 340. Ethelw. 848. Sax. Ch. 103. 

" Hunt 353. £thelwerd*8 account of £dward*s battles have several poetical 
phrases, as if he had translated some fragments of these songs. 




BOOK English soldiery.^ Ethelfleda oo-opented in thns 
Edward fortifying the country. She became a widow in 912; 
the Eider. ^J^^. gj^^ continued in the sovereignty of Merda", and 
»io. displayed great warlike activity. 

The position of the fortresses, which soon became 
inhabited towns, demonstrates their utility. Wig- 
more, in Herefordshire; Bridgnorth and Cheibaiy, 
in Shropshire ; Edesbury, in Cheshire ; and Staffonl 
and Wedesborough, in Staffordshire ; were weO chosen 
to coerce the Welsh upon the western limits. Ron- 
corne and Thelwall, in Cheshire, and BakewdL in 
Derbyshire, answered the double purpose of awing 
Wales, and of protecting that part of the north finon- 
tier of Mercia, from the incursions of the Xorthnm- 
brian Danes. Manchester, Tamworth in Staffordshire, 
Leicester, Nottingham, and Warwick, asdsted to 
strcn^rthen Mercia on this northern frontier; and 
Stamford, Towcester, Bedford, HartfonL Colchester, 
Witham, and Maiden, presented a strong bonndaiy of 
defence against the hostilities of the East Anglian 
Danes. The three last places watched three rivers 
important for their affording an easy dehiitation 
from foreign parts. 

The strength of Edward was tried by an inTuskm 
of Northmen from Armorica, and his nulitanr policy 
was evidenced by its issue. Two chieftains led the 
hostile fleet round Cornwall into the Severn, and 
devastated North Wales. They debarked and plun- 
dered in Herefordshire. The men of Hereford, 
Gloucester, and the nearest bui^hs or ^Dnified places, 
defeated them Tk-ith the loss of one of their chie&« and 
the brother of the other, and drove the rest into a 
woody which they besi^ed. Edward directed armed 
fcodiea to watch' the Severn, fivm Cornwall to the 



Avon. The enemy endeavoured one night to escape 
in two divisions, but the English overtook them in 
Somersetshire. One was destroyed in Watchet ; the 
other in Porlock bay. The remainder sheltered 
themselves in a neighbouring island, till, urged by 
famine, they fled to South- Wales, whence in the au- 
tumn they sailed to Ireland.^^ 

The Anglo-Saxon monarchy received new security 
from Edward's incorporation of Mercia with Wessex, 
on Ethelfleda's death. 

Both Edward and Ethelfleda had many struggles 
with the Northmen in England; but their triumphs 
were easy, for they attacked enemies, not in their 
compact strength, but in their scattered positions. 
Thus Ethelfleda warred with them in Derby. In 
assaulting the castle, four of her bravest and most 
esteemed generals fell ; but she still urged the com- 
bat, and at last mastered the place : she also obtained 
Leicester ^^, Derby, and even York. 

Edward endured, and perhaps provoked similar 
conflicts. The Danes attacked his fortress at Tow- 
cester, but the garrison and the provincials repulsed 
them. In Buckinghamshire, the invasion was formid- 
able, and many districts were overrun, till Edward 
rescued his people by new victories. In some parts 
they seemed to copy his policy. They built hostile 
fortresses at Huntingdon, and at Temesford in Bed- 
fordshire, and assailed Bedford ; but the garrison and 
its supporters defeated them with slaughter.^^ 

A peculiar spirit of hostility seemed in the latter 
years of his reign to have exited the Anglo-Danes ; 
for scarcely had they experienced the defeats already 
noticed, before another aggression was attempted, and 

" Sax. Chron. 105. Flor. S43. 

" Hunt 353, 364. Sax. Chron. 106. Ingulf says of her : «* Ipsam etlam ur- 
bibus extruendis, castelUs muniendis, ac exerdtlbus ducendis deditam, sezum mu- 
tasse putaris,*' p. 28. 

1' Matt West 358. Sax. Cbron. 107. 

L 2 


the Elder. 

' . ' 








the Elder. 

^— V » 



was punished.^® The progress of Edward's powei* 
endangering their own, may have caused their ani- 
mosity. But happily for the Anglo-Saxons and 
Edward, their love of freedom, and the independence 
of their chiefs, made their kirigs weak in actual power, 
and prevented their permanent union under one 
sovereign. Before they retrieved their former disas- 
ters, the king collected a large army from the burghs 
nearest his object, and attacked them at Temesford. 
A king, and some earls, perished against him; the 
survivors were taken, with the city. Pressing on his 
advantages, he raised another powerful force from 
Kent, Surrey, Essex, and their burghs, and stormed 
and mastered Colchester. The East Anglian Danes 
marched against Maiden, in alliance with some 
vikingr, whom they had invited from the seas ^^ ; but 
they failed. Edward secured his conquests by new 
fortifications; and the submission of many districts 
augmented his realms, and enfeebled his competitors.^^ 
The East Anglian Danes not only swore to him, " that 
they would will what he should wilF^," and promised 
immunity to all who were living under his protec- 
tion ; but the Danish army at Cambridge separately 
chose him for their lord and patron.^ 

These examples of submission spread. When the 
king was at Stamford, constructing a burgh, all the 
people about the north of the river received his do- 
minion. The Welsh kings yielded to his power. 
Howel, Cledauc, and Jeothwell, with their subjects, 

>• See Sax. Chron, 108, 109. 

• I>esabpobe micel hepe bine op Eajt; eDSlum, sstheji se tba]* lanb hepep, 
Se ibnpaWicinsa che bie bira to rulcume arpanen bserbon. Sax. Chron. 108. 

^ Sax. Chron. 109. Thus the king went to Pasham in Northamptonshire, and 
staid there while a burgh was made at Towcester ; then Thurferth £orl and his 
followers, and all the army fh>m Northampton to the river Weland in that county, 
sought him to Hlaforde, and to Mundboran. Ibid. 109. 

^' Tba bie eall cba polbon tba be polbe. Ibid. 

^ Dine seceaf rynbeplice hini im Dlaropbe anb ro Munbbopan. Sax. Chron. 



submitted to him as their chief lord*^^, and the king 
of the Scots chose him for his father and lord. If 
princes almost beyond the reach of his ambition 
acquiesced in his superiority, it is not surprising that 
the kings of Northumbria and the Strathcluyd popu- 
lation should follow the same impulse.^* After these 
successes, Edward died at Farrington in Berkshire.^^ 

Edward the elder must be ranked among the 
founders of the English monarchy. He executed TN^ith 
judicious vigour the military plans of his father ; and 
not only secured the Anglo-Saxons from a Danish sove- 
reignty, but even prepared the way for that destruc- 
tion of the Anglo-Danish power which his descendants 

It has been said of Edward, that he was inferior to 
his father in letters, but superior to him in war, glory, 
and power.^^ Jhis assertion is rather an oratorical 
point than an historical fact. Edward had never to 
struggle with such warfare as that during which Al- 
fred ascended his throne, in which he lost it, and by 
whose suppression he regained it. Edward encoun- 
tered but the fragments of that tremendous mass 
which Alfred first broke. 

Edward had many children besides Athelstan. He 
was twice married. His first marriage produced two 
sons, Ethelward and Edwin, and six daughters. Four 

^ Sax. Chron. 1 10. The Welsh had previously suffered from the warlike Ethel- 
fleda. She took Brecon and a Welsh queen, and signalised herself afterwards in 
another invasion. Howel was the celebrated Ilowel Dha, the legislator of Wales. 
He held both Powys and South Wales. Clydauc was his brother. Wynne's Hist. 
44, 45. Powys and Dinefawr were tributary to the king of Aberfraw. The laws 
of Howel Dha mention the tribute to the king of London thus : ** Sixty-three 
pounds is the tribute from the king of Aberfraw to the king of London, when he 
took his kingdom from him ; and besides this, except dogs, hawks, and horses, 
nothing else shall be exacted." Lib. iU. c. 2. p. 199. Wotton*s edition. 

« Mailros, 147. Sax. Chron. 1 10. Flor. 347. Matt West 359. Hoveden, 422. 
Malmsbury, 46. Ingulf, 28. Bromton, 835. 

» The year of his death is differently stated : 924 is given by Matt West 359. ; 
Bromton, 837. ; Flor. 347. ; Malm. 48. ; MaiL 147. ; Chron. Petrib. 25. ; and by 
the MS. Chron. Tib. b. i. and also b. iv. The printed Saxon Chronicle has 925, 
p. 110. Hoveden puts 919, and Ethelwerd 926. The authorities for 924 pre- 

" Malmsb. 46. Flor. 336. Ingulf, 28. 

L 3 




the Elder. 







the Elder. 


of the latter were united to continental potentates.^ 
His second union^® was followed by the birth of two 
more sons, Edmund and Edred, who in the course of 
time succeeded to his sceptre ; and of three daughters. 
One of these, a lady of exquisite beauty ^^, was wed- 
ded to the prince of Acquitaine. 

Edward imitated his father as well in his plan of 
education as in his government. The first part of 
his daughters' lives was devoted to letters : they were 
afterwards taught to use the needle, and the distaff. 
His sons received the best literary education of the 
day, that they might be well qualified for the oflSces 
of government to which they were bom.«^ 


** Malmsb. 47. 

* His second wife was JEtnAf^fa, whose wfll is printed in Saxon, with a Latin 
translation, in the'Appendix to Lye's Saxon Dictionary. 

* Edgivam speciositatis eximis mulierem. Malmsb. 47. 

** Malmsb. 47. Edward was for some time under an excommunication from 
Bome, for keeping his bishoprics yacant. The king appeased the pope by filling 
seren sees in one day. Malmsb. 48. Edward was buried in the same monastery 
where his &ther and brother Ethelwerd lay. Ibid. 



The Reign <^ Athelstan. 

Immediately after Edward's interment, Ethelward, chaf. 
the eldest son of his first marriage, the pattern of AtheitMu 
the illustrious Alfred in manners, countenance, and ' — '— ' 
acquisitions, was taken* away from the hopes of his 
countrymen.^ On his death, the Anglo-Saxon 
sceptre was given by the witenagemot to Athelstan, 
and he was crowned at Kingston. He was thirty 
years of age at his accession. His father's will directed 
the choice of the approving nobles.^ 

Athelstan, the eldest but illegitimate son ^ of Ed- 
ward, was bom in Alfred's lifetime. He could be 
only six years of age when his grandfather died, and 
yet, interested by his beauty and manners, Alfred 
had invested him prematurely with the dignity of 
knighthood, and given him a purple vestment, a 
jewelled belt, and a Saxon sword, with a golden 
sheath. His aunt, Ethelfleda, joined with her hus- 
band in superintending his education ; and the at- 
tainments of Athelstan reflected honour on their 
attentions. * 

The Anglo-Saxon sovereign became a character of 
dignity and consequence in Europe, in the person of 
Athelstan. His connections with the most respect- 

> Malms. 46. Flor. 347. Sax. Ch. 111. Malrasbury says, the prince died in 
a few days after his feither. The MS. Saxon Chronicle, Tib. b. iv. particularises 
sixteen days, *' fyche bruibe tbep gerop jrmbe 16 basaf »t OxanFopba." 

* Malmsb. 48, 49. 

' His mother was a shepherd's daughter of extraordhiary beauty. Malmsb. 52. 
Bromton, 831. Matt West 351. She is called Egwina, illustris femina, by H. 
Silgrave, MS. Ceop. A. 12., and in J. Beyer's Chron. MSS. Harl. 641. It was her 
daughter who married Slgtryg. Ibid. 

« Mahnsb. 49. 

I. 4 


BOOK able personages on the Continent give to his reign a 

Atheistan. political importance. 

*~j^^ — ' Sigtryg, the son of Ingwar ^, and grandson of Rag- 
nar Lodbrog, was a reigning king in Northumbria at 
the accession of Athelstan. He is chiefly known in 
the Saxon annals for having murdered his brother ^ ; 
and in Irish history for his piratical depredations.^ 
He, therefore, deserves the character of barbarian, 
both in mind and in nation.® Athelstan, however, 
to conciliate his friendship during the first years of 
his government, gave him his own sister in marriage. 
Their nuptials were celebrated with magnificence.^ 
Perhaps the circumstance of the king's birth, and 
the existence of legitimate brethren, disposed him to 
court the alliance, rather than to encounter the 
enmity, of the Anglo-Danes, while his power was 
young. Sigtryg embraced Christianity on the occa- 
sion ; but soon repenting, put away his wife, and 
resumed his idolatry. ^^ Roused by the insult, 
Athelstan prepared to attack him ; but Sigtryg died 
before he invaded. ^^ His sons fled before the king ; 
the warlike Anlaf into Ireland, and Godefrid into 

Athelstan pursued Godefrid ; he sent messages to 
Eugenius, king of the Cumbri, and to Constantine, 
king of the Scots, to demand the fugitives. The 
Scottish prince obeyed the necessity, and came with 

* He is named the son of Ivar in the Annals of Ulster. See them, pp. 65, 66, 67. 

* 914. Miel rex occisus est a fhitre Sihtrico. Sim. Dun. 133. So Iluntingdon, 
354. The Annals of Ulster contain a similar incident, which they date in 887, 
p. 65. They call the brother Godfred. Whether this is a misnomer, or whether 
Sigtryg perpetrated two fratricides, I cannot decide. 

' See the Annals of Ulster. 

* So Malmsbury entitles him, gente et animo barbarus, p. 50. 

* Hoveden, 422. Flor. 328. The MS. Chronicle, Tib. b. iv. mentions the 
place and the day of this marriage. It says, that the two kings met and concluded 
the nuptials at Tam worth, on 30th of January, " 925, haen iEchelfxan cynms "J 
Sibrpic Noprbhymhpa cjrnins beo scpimnobon act; Taniepeoprbchise, 3 kal. 
Febpuapn t iGcheljTan hir rP^opcop him jropseajr." MSS. Tib. b. iv. 

»• Matt, West 360. 

" Sihtricus vita decessit Flor. 348. The Annals of Ulster express it thus : 
«* 926, Sigtryg Olvar died in his old age,*' p. 67. 



homage to England. Godefrid, with a friend, escaped chap. 
during the journey ; and endeavoured, but in vain, Ath-istan. 
to interest York in his favour. Retiring from this 
city, he was besieged, but again eluded the danger. 
His friend perished at sea ; the prince, after as much 
misery on the waters as upon land, submitted to 
Athelstan, and was honourably received at his court. 
Four days' enjoyment satiated him with the charms 
of civilised life. His early habits impelled him to 
abandon that tranquillity which is so grateful to the 
cultured mind, and he fled to maritime piracy.^^ 

Athelstan exerted his power with an effect to 
which Edward's superiority had never reached. He 
drove Ealdred from Bebbanburh, demolished the 
castle at York^^, and added Northumbria to his 
paternal dominions.^* 

But Athelstan was not permitted to enjoy his 
triumph unmolested. The Northmen chieftains saw 
that the progress of Athelstan's power was advanc- 
ing to their complete subjection. The states on the 
Baltic were still full of fierce and active adventurers 
who had to seek fame and fortune in other regions ; 
and descendants of Ragnar Lodbrog yet existed, 
both enterprising and popular. These circumstances 
occasioned a great effort to be made against Athel- 
stan, which not only threatened to emancipate Nor- 

" Malmsb. 60. 

" Malmsb. 50. In Edward's reign Reignwald, a pagan king* came with a great 
fleet and conquered York. Two of his leaders are mentioned, Scula, and the cruel 
Onlaf bald, to whom he gave possessions. He drove out Aldred and his brother, 
and defeated Constantine. Ibid. 74. Sim. Dun. 23. This was in 919. Ibid. 133. 
Begiwald had before attacked Dublin. Ibid. In 921, he submitted to Edward. 
Ibid. 153. The Annals of Ulster state, in 917, that the Gals, fh>m IreUnd, attacked 
the Scotch, and Northern Saxons, and that Reginald M'Beolach, one of the leaders 
of the Gals, attacked the Scotch and Saxons in the rear with great slaughter, p. 66. 

1' Matt West 360. Flor. 348. The MS. Tib. b. iv. gives a passage in Saxon 
not in the printed Chronicle, but of the same import with the Latin of Florence* ad 
an. 926. On comparing the two MS. Chronicles of Tib. b. L and lib. b. iv. I 
find that they contain in several places passages which are no where else preserved, 
but in Florence, or Matthew of Westminster, Hoveden, or in Huntingdon. The 
Annals of these writers and of Ethelwerd seem, therefore, to be but Latin transla* 
tions of Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, some of which are now lost 



BOOK thumbria from his authority, but to overwhelm 
Atheiston. l^is inherited government. The greatness of the 
confederacy and the preparations by which it was 
supported, excited great attention in Europe, as well 
as in England. It is narrated in a Northern Saga, as 
well as in the English Chronicles ; and from a careful 
comparison of all the documents, the following facts 
seem to be an authentic detail. 
934. In 934, Athelstan had ravaged Scotland with his 

army, as far as Dunfoeder and Wertmore, while his 
fleet spread dismay to Caithness. ^^ Constantine was 
then unable to withstand the storm, but he prepared 
for a day of retaliation. Anlaf also, the son of 
Sigtryg, though he had obtained a sovereignty in 
Ireland, was planning to regain his power in Nor- 
thumbria. In Wales, the princes, humbled by Athel- 
stan ^^, were ready to co- operate for the diminution 
of his strength. The Anglo-Danes (as, for convenience 
and despatch, we will hereafter term the descendants 
of the Northern colonists of North umbria and East 
Anglia,) beheld with displeasure the preponderance 
of the Saxon sovereign, and the petty state of Cum- 
bria had no choice but to follow the impulse of the 
potent neighbours who surrounded it. All these 
powers confederated ^^ against Athelstan, and the 
united mass of their hostilities was increased by 
fleets of warriors from Norway and the Baltic.^® By 

^ Mailros, 147. Sax. Chron. 111. Sim. Dun. 134. The cause of the invasion 
was Constantine*s violation of his treaty. The Scottish king gave up his son as an 
hostage, with many presents. Sax. Chron. 349. 

** Florence mentions the prior sut^ection of Huwal, king of the West Britons, 
and Wer, the king of Gwent, in 926, p. 348. Matt West names these princes 
Uunwall and Wilferth, p. 360. 

*' The members of the confederacy are stated fh)m Ingulf, 29. 37. ; Flor. Wig. 
349.; Sax. Ch. Ill — 114.; Hoveden, 422. ; and the Egilli-Saga, in Johnstone's 
Celto Scandice, p. 31. Florence, Alured Be v. and Hoveden, say that Constantine 
incited Anlaf to the attempt. 

» The British Chronicle in the Cotton Library, MS. Cleopatra, b. v. says, " Ac 
jr doeth gwyr Denmarc ^ geisiaw goresg^n yr ynys y amaw.** *' And the men of 
Denmark came who sought to conquer the island firom him." It adds, ** Ac y rodes 
^nter kyffi-anc jrdunt ac yny kyflhmc hwnnw y lias brenhin jrr yscottieit, phjrmp 
brenhin o Denmarc.*' ** And he gave them battle, and in this battle were slain the 


an attack of this magnitude, it seemed a certain cal- chap. 
culation that the single force of Athelstan must be Atheutan. 
overthrown. England had never been assailed before - 
with a confederacy^ of so much power, formed with 
so much skill, and consisting of so many parts. 

Such a combination of hostility could not be com- 
pleted, and the armaments necessary for its successful 
explosion could not be collected, without Athelstan's 

He prepared to meet the storm with firmness and 
energy ; and, to multiply his own means of defence, 
he circulated promises of high reward to every war- 
rior who should join his standard.^^ 

Thorolf and Egil, two of those navigating vikingr 
whose weapons were ready for any enterprise, heard 
the tidings as they sailed by Saxony and Flanders. 
They came in the autumn with three hundred com- 
panions, to proffer their services to Athelstan, who 
gladly received them.^^ And RoUo assisted him from 

Anlaf ^^ commenced the warfare, by entering the ^^ni*' 
Humber with a fleet of 615 ships.^^ The governors, 
whom Athelstan had left in Northumbria, are named 
Alfgeirr, and Gudrekr. Their forces were soon over- 
powered. Gudrekr fell, and Alfgeirr fled to his so- 

klng of Scotland, and five kings of Denmark. ** This Chronicle ends near the year 
1200. The Saxon song mentions Northmanna to have been in the battle. 
*'Tbflep serlemeb peapth Nopthmaona bpesu," p. 113. The Annals of Ulster 
call the struggle << a great and destructive war between the Saxons and Normans," 
p. 67. So Uunt mentions Froda as ductor Normannus, p. 354. Ingulf mentions 
Danorum and Norreganorum, 37. 

* Adalsteinn autem copias sibi contraxit, prsbuitque stipendia omnibus, exterls 
et Indigenis, qui hoc pacto rem fscere cupiebant Egilli Skallagrimi Saga, p. 31. 

* Egilli Saga, p. 31, 32. They are called Yikingum in p. 43. On SoUo, see 
W. Gem. 229. and Dudo. 

" In the Egilli Saga he is called Olafr. In the Annals of Ulster, Olave, p. 67. 
In the Brut Jeuan Breckfa, Awlaff, p. 485. In Brompton, Aulat Other English 
Chronicles call him Anlaf, Anlavus, Analapb, and Onlaf. 

*> Mailros, 147, and Sim. Dun. 25. Hoveden, 422. The ship in which Egil 
afterwards left England contained one hundred men or more. Egil. Saga, p. 65. 
If Anlafs ships were of this size his army must have been sixty thousand. We 
may take forty thousand as a safer average. 









vereign with the tidings.^ Among the allies of 
Anlaf, the Northern Saga names Hryngr, and Adils, 
as British princes. The latter perhaps may have 
been Edwal, the son of Anarawd, who was reigning 
in North Wales at this period ^^ ; but it is probable 
that Hryngr was a Danish leader.^^ 

The Northern account states, that the first array 
collected by the friends of Athelstan, being unequal 
to a contest, pretended negotiations, and that ficti- 
tious offers of money were made by the Anglo- 
Saxons, to gain time till all their army could be 
assembled. ^^ When their preparations were com- 
plete, Athelstan closed the intercourse by a message 
to Anlaf ^^, that he should have permission to with- 
draw from England unmolested, if he restored his 
plunder, and would acknowlege himself the subject 
of the Saxon king. 

The messengers reached Anlaf 's camp at night ; 
he arose from his bed and assembled his earls. The 
tidings were added, that Athelstan had that day 
marched into the city a powerful host. The Welsh 
prince exclaimed, that the negotiations had been 
mere artifice ; and proposed, that he and Hryngr 
should attempt a night-attack on the advanced part 
of Athelstan's army, commanded by Alfgeirr and 

Anlaf, brave and active, resolved to inspect the 

« Egllll Saga, pp. 33, 34. 

»* Eidwal Foel acceded in 9 13, on the death of Anarawd. Brut y Tywys, p. 435. 
The MS. Cleop. mentions that he fell against the Saxons, but misdates the year to 
941. p. 5. 

" There ^ an Icelandic fragment which expressly states, that Harald Blaatand, 
or Blue Tooth, sent his son Hryngr with an army to England ; but that Hryngr 
there, dolo circumventus et occisus est 1 Langb. 149. Now as the old Icelandic 
Annals (1 Langb. 187. ) place the accession of Harald in 907, and as he was reign- 
ing at the time of this battle, I think it highly probable, that Hryngr, the son of 
Harald, was the opponent of Athelstan. Langbeck wants to make this son of 
Harald the Eric who will be mentioned in the reign of Edred ; but that Eric was 
unquestionably the son of Harald Harfragre. 

« EgUli Saga, 38, 39. 

«' The Saga says, Adils, but the meeting seems to imply Anlaf. 

> EgilU Saga, 40. 42. 


array before he attempted the surprise, that the blow ^hap. 
•might be directed to the most important quarter. Atbebtan. 
He put off his regal vestments, and concealing him- ^^ — ' 
self under the disguise of a harper, he went singing 
through the Saxon army, till he reached the royal 
tent. His music and dancing gratified Athelstan, 
till the business of the camp demanded his presence. 
The minstrel was then dismissed with presents, but 
his pride revolted against accepting a gift from 
Athelstan. He took it, to avoid detection, but he 
disdained to keep it, and he buried it in the sand as 
he left the encampment. 

A soldier in the outer stations observed his move- iMacovered. 
ments, and knew him in his disguise. He did not 
betray him; but he hastened with the tidings to 
Athelstan. To a rebuke for not having seized him, 
he answered, " king, the oath which I have lately 
taken to you, I once gave to Anlaf. If I had broken 
it to him I might have been faithless to you; but 
deign to hear a servant's counsel, and remove your 
tent to another quarter." Athelstan thought the ad- 
vice sagacious, and the royal residence was placed in 
a distant part. The bishop of Sherborne soon after 
arriving with his soldiers, was lodged in the plain 
which the king had quitted.^^ 

At night Adils and Hryngr embodied their forces. Night at. 
and marched on the Saxon camp. The bishop was ^^ 
the victim of the surprise. ^^ But Thorolf and 
Alfgeirr, who commanded in the district, roused 
their warriors, and supported the attack. Adils as- 
saulted the division of Alfgeirr, and Hryngr directed 
himself to the allied vikingr. 

Vanquished by the impetuosity of his assailant, 
Alfgeirr fled from the field, and eventually the coun- 
try. Adils, flushed with his victory, turned on the 

» Malimb. 48. and 248. " Ingulf, 37. Malmsb. 48. 248. 







The main 

others. Thorolf directed his colleague, Egils, to 
meet him ; he exhorted his troops to stand close, and 
if overpowered to retreat to the wood. Egils obeyed, 
though with a force inferior. 

The battle became warm. Thorolf fought against 
Hiyngr with all that fury of valour, which was the 
pride of the day ; he threw his shield behind him, 
and, grasping his huge weapon with both hands^^, he 
prostrated the enemies with an irresistible strength. 
He forced his way at last to the standard of his 
adversary ; he reached and killed him. His success 
animated his followers, and Adils, mourning the death 
of Hryngr, gave way, and the combat discontinued.^^ 

Athelstan, hearing of this aflFair, united, and ar- 
ranged all his forces for a decisive engagement. 
Anlaf did the same. A night of rest preceded the 
awful conflict. Athelstan formed his array of battle. 
In the front he placed his bravest troops, with Egils 
at their head. He let Thorolf head his own band, 
with an addition of Anglo-Saxons, to oppose the 
irregular Irish, who always flew from point to point ; 
no where steady, yet often injuring the unguarded.^ 
The warriors of Mercia and London, who were con- 
ducted by the valiant Turketul, the chancellor of the 
kingdom, he directed to oppose themselves to the 
national force of Constantine. He chose his own 
West-Saxons to endure the struggle with Anlaf, his 

'^ The sword wielded with both hands was used by the ancient natives of the 
Hebrides. They called it the glaymore, the great sword. See Bo6well*s Tour» 
p. 210. 230. It was a weapon of most barbarous nations. One was sold in 
London this year, 1827, which had been used in Italy in Bourbon*s army about the 
year 1526. 

" Egil's Saga, 44, 45. I do not give the whole detail of the Saga ; I select the 
circumstances which are most entitled to notice, and which harmonise best with 
the Saxon description. No two nations describe the same particulars of a battle, 
although the narration of each is intended to be authentic. A great battle is com- 
posed of a multiplicity of incidents. Individuals, in different stations of the field, 
notice different circumstances. The Saga is minute about the part where Thorolf 
and Egils fought. The Saxons neglect these warriors, to record their Turketul and 
Athelstan. This is natural and allowable, perhaps inevitable. 

" Egil's Saga, 46, 47. 


competitor.^ Anlaf observing his disposition, in chap. 
part imitated it. He obeyed the impulse of his hopes Athcutm. 
and his courage, and placed himself against Athel- - 
Stan. One of his wings stretched to the wood against 
the battalia of Thorolf ; it was very numerous, and 
consisted of the disorderly Irish.^ It was the conflict 
of Alfred's grandson with the great-grandson of 
Ragnar Lodbrog, whose children had dethroned for a 
time our most celebrated Anglo-Saxon king. 

Brunanburh^^ was the scene of action ; and Thorolf at Bnman- 
began the battle he loved ; he rushed forward to the ^ ' 
wood, hoping to turn the enemy's flank ; his courage 
was too impetuous and indiscriminate ; his eager- 
ness for the fray impelled him beyond his companions. 
Both were pressing fiercely and blindly onward, 
when Adils darted from his ambush in the wood, 
and destroyed Thorolf and his foremost friends. 
Egils heard the outcries of alarm ; he looked to that 
quarter, and saw the banner of Thorolf retreating. 
Satisfied from this circumstance that Thorolf was not 
with it, he flew to the spot, encouraged his party, 
and renewed the battle. Adils fell in the struggle.^^ 

At this crisis, while the conflict was raging with 
all the obstinacy of determined patriotism and cou- 
rageous ambition; when missile weapons had been 
mutually abandoned ; when foot was planted against 

»* Ingulf, 37. » Egirs Saga, 47. 

" It is singular that the' position of this famous battle is not ascertained. The 
Saxon song says, it was at Brunanburh ; Ethelwerd, a contemporary, names the 
place Brunandune ; Simeon of Durham, Weondune or Ethrunnanwerch, or Brunnan 
byrge ; Malmsbury, Brunsford ; Ingulf says, Brunfurd in Northumbrla. These, 
of course, imply the same place : but where was it ? Camden thought it was at 
Ford, near Bromeridge, in NorthumberUud. Gibson mentions, that in Cheshire 
there is a pUce called Brunburh. I observe that the Villare mentions a Brunton \n 
North umberland. 

" Egil's Saga, 48, 49. In a MS. in the British Museum, Galba, A. 14., the 
prayer of Athelstan before the battle of Brunanburh is preserved. It begins, **JR\ti, 
thu Dpibrent JElft, tbu iElmishcisa Iiobl ^la, Lins ealpa ^nmsa, hhnb 
Hlapopb ealpa ralbenbpa I On rhaes mihta punach acic pse, anb aeic sepin peopth 
to bpyr," kc, " O thou Supreme Governor ! O thou Almighty God ! O King 
ot all kings, and Lord of all Rulers I All victory dwelleth in thy power, and every 
battle hapi)cneth according to thy governance," &c. 



fx>t. shield forced against shield, and manual vigour 
was exerted with everv enenrv of destruction ; when 
chiefs and vassals were perishing in the all-levelling 
confusion of war^, and the numbers cut down were 
fiercely supplied with new crowds of warriors hasten- 
ing to become victims, the chancellor Turketul made 
an attack which influenced the fortune of the day. 
He selected from the combatants some citizens of 
London, on whose veteran valour he could rely : to 
these he added the men of Worcestershire, and their 
leader, who is called the magnanimous Singin, He 
formed those chosen troops into a firm and compact 
body, and placing his vast muscular figure at their 
head, he chose a peculiar quarter of attack, and 
rushed impetuously on his prey. 

The hostile ranks fell before him. He pierced the 
circle of the Picts and the Orkneymen, and, heedless 
of the wood of arrows and spears which fastened in 
his armour, he even penetrated to the Cumbrians and 
the Scots. He beheld Constantine, the king of the 
Grampian hills, and he pressed forward to assail him. 
Constantine was too brave to decline his daring ad- 
versary. The assault fell first upon his son, who 
was unhorsed ; with renovated furv the battle then 
began to rage. Every heart beat vehement ; every 
arm was impatient to rescue or to take the prince. 
The Scots, with noble loyalty, precipitated themselves 
on the Saxons, to preserve their leader. Turketul 
would not forego the expected prize. Such, how- 
ever, was the fury of his assailants, so many weapons 
surrounded the Saxon chancellor, that his life began 
to be endangered, and he repented of his daring. 
He was nearly oppressed ; the prince was just re- 
leased ; when Singin, with an unpitying blow at the 

■• OsMntibus dto ferentariis armis, pede pes, ct cuspide cuspis uraboque umbone 
pcllebatur. Ceti multi mortales, confusaque cadavera rfgum et pauperum comie- 
l«nt Ingulf, 37. 6 F- *- 


royal youth, terminated his contested life. New chap. 
courage rushed into the bosoms of the Saxons on this Atheutan. 
event. Grief and panic as suddenly overwhelmed ' — • — ' 
their enemies. The Scots in consternation with- 
drew, and Turketul triumphed in his hard-earned 

Athelstan and his brother Edmund^, were, during 
these events, engaged with Anlaf. In the hottest 
season of the conflict, the sword of Athelstan broke 
at the handle, while his enemies were pressing fiercely 
upon him. He was speedily supplied with another*^ 
and the conflict continued to be balanced. 

After the battle had long raged, Egils and Tur- 
ketul, pursuing the retreating Scots, charged suddenly 
upon Anlaf's rear. It was then that his determined 
bands began to be shaken ^^ ; slaughter thinned their 
ranks ; many fled, and the assailants cried out 
" Victory ! " Athelstan exhorted his men to profit 
by the auspicious moment. He commanded his 
banner to be carried into the midst of the enemy. 
He made a deep impression on their front, and a 
general ruin followed. The soldiers of Anlaf fled on 
every side, and the death of pursuit filled the plain 
with their bodies.^ 

Thus terminated this dangerous and important 
conflict. Its successful issue was of such conse- 
quence, that it raised Athelstan to a most venerated 
dignity in the eyes of all Europe. The kings of 
the Continent sought his friendship^, and England 

" Ingulf, 37. Malmsbury and Ingulf, and the Welsh Chronicle, Cleop. A. 5. 
(y lias brcnhin yr yscottieit) assert, that Constantine fell ; but I think the Saxon 
poem a better, because a contemiiorary evidence, that it was his son that ];>erished. 
This says of Constantine, '3 bif pinu jronler on pael fcole, punbum popspunben 
Seonse sec sntbe, p. 113. The Scottish history confirms the escape of Cou- 

* The Saxon song attests the presence of Edmund in the battle, p. 112. 

^* This incident was thought of consequence enough to be dignified by a miracle, 
which the prayers of Odo produced. See his life by Osbeme ; and see Brompton, 
pp. 839. 863. 

« Egilli Saga, 49. « EglUi Saga, 60. Ingulf, 37. 

^ Hac itaque victoria per univcrsam Christianltatem citius ventilata, desiderabant 








flnt mo- 
uarch of 

began to assume a majestic port amid the other 
nations of the West. Among the Anglo-Saxons it 
excited such rejoicings, that not only their poets 
aspired to commemorate it, but the songs were so 
popular, that one of them is inserted in the Saxon 
Chronicle, as the best memorial of the event.*^ 

It celebrates both Athelstan and Edmund, the 
nobles, and the valour of the West Saxons and 
Mercians; it states the battle to have lasted from 
sun-rise to sun-set ; it mentions the death of five 
kings ; the flight of Anlaf, and the fall of seven of 
his earls ; the flight of Froda ; the retreat of Con- 
stantine, and the death of his son : it concludes with 
declaring, that the books of the old writers had never 
mentioned a greater slaughter in this island " since 
the Angles and the Saxons hither came from the 
East over the broad ocean, and sought Britain ; 
when the illustrious war-smiths overcame the Welsh ; 
when the earls, excelling in honour, obtained the 

Northumbria and Wales*^ fell into the power of 

omnes reget teme cum Athelstano rege amicitias feicere et quocumque mode sacra 
foedera pacis inire. Ingulf, 37. Ethelwerd, who ends his Chronicle with Eadgar, 
says, that, to his day, it was popularly called the great battle, p. 848. 

*» Sax. Chron. pp. 112—114. The song is also in the two MSS. Tib. B. I. and 
B. 4., with frequent variations in orthography from the printed copy. The MS. 
B. !• puts it to the year 937 ; and, among other readings, instead of -3 heopa lanb, 
p. 1 13. 1. 30., has ept Ypalanb. So the MS. B.4., instead of bopbpeal, p. 1 12. 1. 12. 
has heopb peal : for ealsobon, afterwards sealsoben, and many similar differences, 
which are worth collating, because in some instances, as in YpalaDb and heopb peal, 
they improve the sense. Langbeck has published it, with notes, and with thrx^e 
yersions, ▼. 2. p. 412. Henry of Huntingdon has inserted an ancient Latin ver- 
sion of it in his history, p. 354. Malmsbury has preserved a portion of another 
poem, written also on this occasion, p. 51, 52. 

** Sax. Chron. 114. The ancient supplement to Snorre Sturleson says, " Angli 
hoc prailium unum censuerunt inter maxima et acerrima que unquam cum Nor- 
mannis aut Danis commiserunt" 2 Langb. 419. 

^ Ac ef a jrst^ngawd jrdaw hoU brenhined Kymre ac aberys ydunt talu teymget 
ydaw meg^s f talawd brenhin Nortwei jrdaw. Sef oed hynny try chant punt o 
ariant ac ngaent punt cun a phymp mil gwarthec pob blwydjrn. S. of British 
History, Cleop. B. 5. " And he became possessed of all the kingdom of Wales, and 
It was made to pay a tribute to him like the payment of the king of Norway to 
him. This was 300 pounds of silver, and 100 pounds of wool, and 5000 cowa 
every year." Caradoc gives this tribute somewhat different He says, " 20 pounds 
in gold, 300 in silver, and 200 head of cattle.** Wynne, 48. 



Athelstan, by this victory. It eflFectually secured to chap. 
him the throne of his ancestors ; and the subjugation AtheiitM. 
of the Anglo-Danes was so decisive, that he has 
received the fame of being the founder of the English 

The claims of Egbert to this honour are unques- 
tionably surreptitious. The competition can only 
be between Alfred and Athelstan. Our old chroni- 
cles vary on this subject : some denominate Alfred 
the first monarchal; some give it to Athelstan.'*^ 
The truth seems to be, that Alfred was the first 
monarch of the Anglo-Saxons, but Athelstan was the 
first monarch of England. The Danish sovereigns, 
to whose colonies Alfred chose or was compelled to 
yield Northumbria and East Anglia, divided the island 
with him ; therefore, though he first reigned monarch 
over the Anglo-Saxons from the utter destruction of 
the octarchy, it was not until Athelstan completely 
subjugated the Anglo-Danish power, that the mon- 
archy of England arose. After the battle of Brunan- 
burh, Athelstan had no competitor: he was the 
immediate sovereign of all England. He was even 
nominal lord of Wales and Scotland. 

The fame of Athelstan extended beyond the island 

* Matt West 340. So the Chronicon de regibtu Anglic a Petro de Ickhanu 
MS. Cotton. Lib. Domit A. 3. Primus rrgum Anglorum super totam Angliam 
solus regnare coepit So the Chronicon Johannis de Taxton, ab initio mundi ad 
Ed. L MS. Cotton, Julius, A. 1. Alfl^dus exinde regnum Anglorum solus omnium 
regem obtinuit So Chronica Johannis de Oxenedes monachi S. Benedict! de Hulmo 
ab adventu Saxonum ad A. D. 1293. MS. Cotton, Nero, D. 2. ad regem Aluredum 
primuro monarcham totius Anglic — So a MS. in the same volume, p. 243. AIu- 
redus rex qui primus totum regnum Anglia possedit — So the Chronicon Roffense, 
lb. p. 79. Iste Alfredus primus monarcha fUIt regni Anglic ; and many others. 

* Edgar, in one of his charters, says of Athelstan, ** Qui primus regum Anglorum 
omnes nationes qui Britanniam incolunt sibl armis subegit,'* 1 Dugdale Monast. 
140. ; and see Alured. Beverl. 110. ; Sim. Dun elm, p. 18. and 24. ; and Stubb's 
Acta Pont Ebor. 1698. So the Compendium Hist de Regibus, Anglo-Saxon MS. 
Cott Domit A. 8. p. 5. Athelstanus qui primus regum ex Anglis totius Britannic 
monarchiam habuit So the Chronica of Tewkesbury, MS. Cleop. C. 3., and cited in 
Dugdale*8 MonasUcon, vol. 1. p. 154., has ** Adeistani regis qui primus monarcha 
fiilt** So the Historia Rameslensis, 3 Oall. 387., calls him JSthelstanl totius olhn 
Anglic BaslleL Ilermnnnus, who wrote 1070, says, ^delstanos regnat Angliamque 
diu ptitltam solus sibi sul^ugat, MS. Tib. B. 2. p. 22. 

M 2 



Ili« eon- 

BOOK he governed. His accomplishments, his talents; and 
Atheittan. his Buccesscs, interested Europe in his favour, and 
*"""* ' he received many proo& of the respect with which 
foreigners regarded him. He had connections with 
Bretagne, France, Germany, Norway, and Normandy ; 
and from this period England began to lose its in- 
sular seclusion, and to be concerned with the current 
transactions of Europe. 

^\Tien the Northmen who had settled in Normandy 
overran Bretagne, the sovereign, Mathuedoi, escaped 
to England with his family. The Breton lords fol- 
lowed; and all who preferred honourable poverty 
to the loss of liberty swelled the emigration. Athel- 
stan received the wretched exiles, who came to him 
under the same circumstances as those in which their 
ancestors had fled to Bretagne, vrith that humanity 
which ennobles the benefactor. 

The young Alan, the son of Mathuedoi, by the 
daughter of the celebrated Alain, he took into his 
palace, and was the sponsor at his baptism. Nour- 
ished and educated by Athelstan's liberality, the 
young Alan grew up to manhood with ability and 
honour. He beheld indignantly the suflerings of 
his country ; he projected a day of retribution. As 
soon as his age would permit, he assembled the sur- 
viving Bretons who had emigrated, and directed his 
course to the shores of Bretagne. He surprised Dol 
and St. Brieux. His appearance and first successes 
revived both patriotism and hope ; he was nume- 
rously joined; he drove the Northmen from his 
country and from the Loire, and received the sceptre 
of Bretagne as his well-merited reward.^^ 

*• Chronicon Namnetense restitutum, In tta^ppcndix to Lobineau, vol. U. p. 46. ; 
and in Bouquet, vol. vili. p. 276. ; and FlodoaiU Chron. ib. Such was the desolation 
which had attended the Northman invasion, that the civitas Namnetlca sine ullo 
habiutore vacua et oranino longo tempore deserta remansit lb. Of Alanus, the 
Chronicon says, " fuit vir potens ac valde adversus inimicos suos belligerator fbrtia 
habcns et possidens omnem Brltanniam, fugatis inde Normannia sibi subditam ct 
Ecdonlcam et Namnetlcum ct etiara trans Ligerim Medalgicum, TheoftOgicum et 
Herbtdillciun.- Bouquet, vilL 276. 


When Charles the Simple, the king of France, was chap. 
imprisoned and dethroned, his queen, Edgiva, fled Athdstan. 
into England to her father Edward the Elder, carry- ' — * — ' 
ing over her son Louis, but three years old.^^ Franw. 

The queen and her son continued the guests of 
Athelstan, who treated his unfortunate sister with 
aflPection and respect. 

Rodolf, a Frankish noble, who, after Robert's year 
of power, had assumed the throne of Charles, governed 
France, full of seditions, revolts, and hostilities, vnih 
those talents which gave celebrity to their possessor, 
and happiness to the people.^^ In 926, an inter- 926—939. 
course was opened with Athelstan by Hugues the 
son of Robert, whose dignity had been so fleeting. 
Ungues requested of Athelstan, his sister, Ethilda, 
in marriage. This was a very delicate negotiation. 
Hugues had co-operated with the other chiefs, that 
had dethroned and still kept imprisoned the king, 
who had married the sister of the lady he wooed. 
This sister was with Athelstan, with her infant child. 
Hugues, however, persevered in his suit, and con- 
ducted it with dexterity. He obtained for his am- 
bassador, Adulf, the son of the count of Flanders, 
and of Alfred's daughter, the aunt of Athelstan.^ 
The affinity of Adulf must have given interest to his 
negotiation. Splendid presents enforced the request ; 
perfumes never seen in England before; emeralds 
of fascinating verdure ; many fine coursers with rich 
caparisons ; a vase of onyx, so beautifully carved, 
that the corn, vines, and men seemed animated, and 
so polished, that it reflected like a mirror ; the sword 
of Constantine the Great; the conquering lance of 

" Daniel, 236. 

" His successful wars, the humiliation of the vassals of the crown, thirteen 
years* possession of an usurped throne, and la France pacift^e roalgre tant d'^priti 
inquiets, sont des preuves tres certaines dc sa prudence, de son courage, de sa 
fermeUi ct de ce g^nie superieur qui fait les grands hommes et lea Ilcros. Daniel, 250. 

'* Malmsbury, 51. The British Chronicle, Cleop. B. 5., mentions this: " Ac y 
dacth Edulf iarll Boloyn ap Baudewine iarll Flaudrys ac aurec gan Huges." 

M 3 






Louis quit! 

Charlemagne ; a diadem of gold and gems, so radiant 
as to dazzle ; and some venerated relics, composed 
the splendid gift.^ Policy, perhaps, taught the im- 
portance, even to the dethroned Charles, or to his 
family, of making Hugues a friend. His wishes were 
therefore gratified, and he became the brother-in-law 
of Athelstan.^^ 

When Rodolf died without male issue, the com- 
petition for the crown was renewed between Hugues 
and Vermandois. Their factions were too equally 
balanced to admit either to reign. Some persons, 
remembering the family of Charles, proposed the 
election of his son. Hugues, despairing of his own 
elevation, inclined to this idea. Athelstan under- 
standing the circumstances, exerted himself in behalf 
of Louis, the young prince, who was still at his court. 
He sent an embassy to the duke of Normandy^^, to 
engage his influence with the Frankish lords, who at 
last resolved to send to England to oflfer the crown 
to Louis.^^ 

The deputies, one of whom was the archbishop 
of Sens, reached England in 936, and supplicated 
Athelstan, on the part of the states of France, to 
permit their chosen king to join them. Athelstan 
had the glory of receiving this address, and of ex- 
pressing, in return, his joy at the event, and his 
anxiety for the safety of the young prince. The 
French ambassadors plighted their oaths, and saluted 
him king. Athelstan allowed him to depart a few 
days afterwards, and sent many Anglo-Saxon bishops 

** The presents are enumerated by Malmsburjr, p. 61., who says, "Equos plu- 
rimos.** The British Chronicle specifies, but with apparent amplification, ** Try 
chant emmys ac eu gwisgoed," " three hundred coursers with their trappings.*' MSS. 
Cleop. B. 5. 

** Athelstan returned the courtesy with non minoribus benefldis, in addition to 
the lady. Malmsb. 51. 

«• Dado de Act Norman, lib. ill. p. 97. 

" Hugo comes trans mare mittit pro accersendo Ludovico Caroli filio quem 
Alstannus avunculus ipsius nutriebat Flodoardi Hist Ecdes. Rhem. lib. iv. 


and lords to accompany him in honour. Hugues chap- 
and the nobles of France received him at Boulogne, Atheutan. 
and he was crowned at Laon.^® -^ 

The reign of Louis was not attended with the louIi 
friendship of Hugues. Differences, in time, arose, At^^a^ 
and Hugues increased his consequence by marrying 
Hadwida, the daughter of Henry the First, emperor 
of Germany.^^ Louis, to collect a power capable of 
securing himself against the aspiring nobles, procured 
the alliance of Athelstan, who promised to send a 
fleet to his succour. " This is the 6rst example," 
says a modern French historian, " which we have in 
our history, not only of an offensive league between 
France and England, but it is also the first treaty 
by which these two kingdoms concerned themselves 
about each other's welfare. Until this event, the 
two nations had considered themselves as two worlds, 
which had no connection but that of commerce to 
maintain, and had no interest to cultivate either 
friendship or enmity in other concerns." ^^ 

Athelstan performed his enffaffements. When Otho 939. 
passed the Rhine, in 939, Louis claimed of England aids Louis 
the stipulated aid. The Anglo-Saxon fleet sailed '^^ *■««*• 
immediately for his support. It appeared oft' the 
coast of Flanders, and protected the maritime cities : 
it ravaged some territories of the enemy, but re- 
turned to England without having had the oppor- 
tunity of any important achievement.^^ 

So much was Athelstan considered abroad, that 
Amulf, the count of Flanders, having taken the for- 

* Flodoardi, ibid. Louis, from bis residence in England, was turnamed Tnmi- 
marinus, or Outremer. 

** Cbronicon Flodoardi, 8. Bouquet, 184. Byberbe bad Hugb Capet, who 
completed tbe deposition of the family of Charlemagne, which his ancestors had 
begun, and whose dynasty that seemed violently terminated in oar days has been 
since restored. 

*" Daniel, p. 256. ** Cbronicon Flodoardi, 8. Bouquet, 193. 

M 4 







Uh con- 
nect Ion 
with the 
Henry L 

tress of the count Herluin, in 939, sent his captive 
wife and children to Athelstan.^^ 

The Emperor of Germany, Henry the First, per- 
mitted his son, Otho, afterwards surnamed the Great, 
to solicit a sister of Athelstan in marriage. 

In 919, the dignity of emperor was conferred on 
the prince nominated by Conrad, who has become 
illustriously known to posterity under the title of 
Henry the First, or the Fowler. 

The wars of Henry with the barbarous nations of 
Hungary, with the Danes, Bavarians, Suabians, Bohe- 
mians, Vandals, Dalmatians, and Francs, by their 
successful issue, produced to him a high reputation, 
and gave new dignity and power to the imperial 
crown ; but his mind soared above the praise of a 
barbarous conqueror. Such characters have a thou- 
sand rivals. The catalogue of men, whose successful 
courage or tactical management has decided fields of 
battle in their favour, is as extensive as time itself. 
Wars have every where deformed the world, and 
conquerors may of course every where be found. 
It is for those who display a cultured intellect and 
useful virtues ; whose lives have added something 
to the stock of human happiness; and whose cha- 
racters therefore present to us the visions of true 
greatness, that history must reserve its frugal pane- 
gyrics: Henry the Fowler was one of these most 
fortunate personages. He found his German subjects 
wedded to their barbarism by their agricultural and 
pastoral habits ; and while he provided for their safety 
he laboured to improve both their morals and their 

Bouquet, 19S. 

Oonrwl •eemt to hiTe foreseen this disposition in Ilenrx, for it is his reason 

tritetlnn the Saxon duke : ** Sunt nobis, frater, copi« exercitus congregandi 

duotndU sunt urhes et arma cum rcgalthus insignils et omne quod decus regium 

pmter fortunam atqut marts, Fortuna, frater, ctnn ncbUUsimiM monfrics, 

tMU Witttehlnd, p. 10. 



He determined, for this purpose, to draw the popu- chap. 
lation of Germany from their rude, unsocial, and Atheistan. 
exposed villages, into towns ^; into those happy 
approximations of society which present a barrier to 
the sword of war, which are the nurseries of the 
middle orders of men, which tame the ferocities of 
the human passions, give dominion to moral sympathy, 
communicate cultivation and knowlege by perpetual 
contagion, and cause the virtues to blossom amid 
general emulation, by daily lessons of their necessity, 
their diflPusion, and their fame. These towns he 
fortified with skilful labour .^^ 

To eflFect his purpose, he commanded, that of the 
men in the villages who bore arms, a ninth should 
be placed in towns, for whose benefit the rest should 
cultivate the labours of husbandry. The townsmen 
were to receive a third of the collected harvest ; and, 
in return, they built bams and habitations, within 
the city, for the peasants. When war summoned, the 
burghers hastened to the defence of their country. 
By this institution the ravages of enemies never in- 
troduced famine, because the granaries in the cities 
were an ultimate supply, and warriors were always 
ready to fly to the field when exigency called.^^ 

To induce the people to make towns their volun- 
tary residence, he forbad suburbs ; and ordered that 
the country habitations should be few and mean. He 
ordered all solemn meetings, the festivities of marri- 
age, and the traffic of merchandise, to be held in 
towns ; he directed the citizens to improve themselves 

** Before this period, excepting the castles on the mouDtaios, the seats of the 
nobility and convents, which happened to be surrounded with walls, there were 
only lonely farms and villages." Putter's Historical Developenient, vol. L p. 1 14. 

* *' In this respect Germany has undergone but little alteration. Most of the 
ancient cities, and even inconsiderable towns, are surrounded with walls, towers. Sic. 
which give them a singular and dismal appearance." Putter, ed. note, p. 115. 

" See the Instltuta of Henry apud Goldastum, sub anno 924. I find them 
cited in the Aquila Saxonica, p. 24. ed. Venet 1673. Wittichind mentions them 
briefly, p. 13. 

ries Athel 
8tan*i sister. 


BOOK by useful industry, and, in peace, to learn those arts 
Athebtan. which they might practise to their benefit.^^ 
*~J^ ' By his regulations, by his personal diligence, and 
by their own beneficial experience, the Germans gra- 
dually laid aside their aversion to live in towns, and 
these important seminaries of human improvement 
perpetually increased.^ 
932. Henry, during his life, extended his communica* 

tions to England; and in 932, by his permission, 
Otho sought a wife from the sisters of Athelstan. 
othoiiwr- Editha was residing in her brother Athelstan's 
court, when the ambassadors of Henry arrived to 
request her for his son. Athelstan received them 
benignly, his sister assented ^^, and a magnificent at- 
tendance, which his chancellor, Turketul, headed ^^, 
conducted her to her royal lover. Her sister Adiva 
went with her, that Otho might be more honoured, 
and might take his choice.^^ Editha was preferred 
by the too highly honoured Otho, and her sister was 
married to a prince near the Alps, who was one of the 
emperor's court.^^ 
Atheutan's Athclstau's trausactious with Norway were also 

transactions • . .• 

with Nor., mterestmg. ^ 

^*y- In the reign of Edward, and at the accession of 

Athelstan, Harald Harfragre was reigning the mo- 
narch of Norway. He had subdued all the little 
kings, who had divided it into many small states, and 
his victories had never been reversed. 

Harald, though a barbarian, was not merely the 

^ Instituta Henricl In AquUa Sax. p. 24. The latter precept Is enforced by a 
moral observation : *' Disdplina enim et labor magnum ad virtutem afferunt m<^- 
mentnm.** Ibid. 

* Soest, in Westphalia, Is probably one of the first cities founded by Henry. 
Next to this town, the most ancient are supposed to be Quedlinburg, Nonlhausen» 
Duderstadt, Merseberg, &c. Putter, note 117. 

* HrosTida. Foem de Oestis Oddonis, p. 165. She calls our island, temm $ai 

w Ingulf, p. 38. " Hrosvida, p. 165. 

" Ethelwerd*s prefiice. Ingulf, 38., and Malmsb. 47. Hrosvida mourns the 
death of Editha with great expressions of sorrow, p. 171. 


brutal soldier. The spirit of improvement, which at chap. 
this period influenced an Alfred and a Henry, seems Atheutan. 
to have been communicated to him. He also aspired ' 
to legislate as well as to conquer^^ He endeavoured 
to civilise the countries he subdued. 

The wars of Harald, though inevitably productive 
of much individual misery, have the great excuse, 
that defence first compelled him into the martial 
field. ^^ In a general view, his conquests had a bene- 
ficial effect. They dispersed several portions of the 
Norwegian population into countries then uninha- 
bited. Thus Iceland ^^ the Orkneys ^^, the Shetland, 
and the Feroe islands ^^, date their inhabitation in 
his reign, as well as Jamtia and Helsingia, provinces 
of Sweden. ^^ But his principal merit was his prohi- 
bition of piracy, and the termination of much of the 
bloodshed of the North, by conquering all the petty 
princes, and establishing a monarchy in Norway. 

The piracy of the North was a very active agent in 
perpetuating that barbarism and ferocity of which it 
was also the consequence. Like our modem slave- 
traffic, wherever it came it desolated ; and while it 
reigned, it kept down the human capacity in the bond- 
age of the most destructive warfare, penury, and 

That hour was therefore auspicious to man when 
the abolition of the petty kingships, the aggregation 
of dominion, and the rise of monarchies, created at 

" Snorre has preserved some of the laws of Harald, in his Haralld*8 Saga, c. vL 
p. 79. 

^* Post obitum Halfdani NIgri regnum ab eo relictum invasere prindpum multi. 
Snorre, Haralld's Saga, c. I. p. 75. He details the invasion, their issue, and Harald's 

^ Islandia inhabitatur primiim a Norwegls diebos Haraldi Harftiger. Ara Frode, 
c i. p. 6. Eo tempore erat Islandia sylvis concreta, c. il. p. 10. The Norwegian 
emigrants found some Christians in it, who went away on their arrival, leaving 
some Irish books behind. Ibi(^ Ara Frode was bom 1060. Snorre says, he was 
the first of all who wrote hac in regione sermone Norweglco tam prisd quam recen- 
tloris arvi monumenta. Preface, p. 3. 

^ Orkneylnga Saga, p. 3. ed. Hafhiic, 1780. 

" Snorre, Haralld's Saga, c 20. p. 96. *" Snorre, ibid. 



BOOK once both the power and the desire to suppress these 
Atheistan. pirates. When Harald had stret<;hed his sceptre over 
'^■^ — ' all Norway, every aggression of piracy was an attack 
on some of his subjects ; and as he raised a contribu- 
tion from their labours"^, every act of plunder upon 
them was a diminution of his revenues. 

Harald therefore published an edict, prohibiting 
piratical excursions on any part of his dominions.*^ 
He enforced his law by a vindictive pursuit of the 
race he discountenanced. He prepared armaments; 
they fled ; he chased them from his own dominions ; he 
followed them to Shetland, to the Orkneys, and to the 
Hebrides ; he overtook and destroyed them.^^ These 
exertions drove Rollo or Hrolfr from his dominions, 
and occasioned the Northman colonisation of Nor- 

The life of Harald stretched into the reign of Athei- 
stan. It is said, that Atheistan had, in his youth, 
visited Denmark.^ It is, however, certain, that when 
the Anglo-Saxon was on his throne, an intercourse, 
which announced high friendship, commenced be- 
tween the two sovereigns. Harald sent to Atheistan 
his son Haco, to be educated, and to learn the cus- 
toms of the English nation.^ The Anglo-Saxons 
were so much higher in the scale of civilisation than 
the Norwegians, who were but just emerging into 
visible humanity, that we may easily conceive that 
Haco was sent to Atheistan for his personal improve- 
ment, as in our days, Peter the Great, for the same 

** It was one of his laws that Regique census fundi solverent colonl omnesy 
ditforet sque ac pauperes. Snorre, Haralld*8 Saf^a, p. 80. He deputed to his larls, 
whom he placed over every tylki, the power of collecting the taxation, of which 
th«'y received a third to support their rank and expenditure. Ih. 

• llaraJWs Saga, c. 24. p. 100. " Snorrc, p. 98. 

** It Is WalHngford who afBrms this, in his Chronica, though Arom what more 
Mrw\t^i authority I know not : ** Descenderat enira aliquando in tempore patris sui 
•4 (iytrum In Daciam, p. 540. 

** Theodofic, one of the most ancient historians of Norway, so informs us : 
** UMf^m misrrat unum ex filiis suis Halstano regi Anglorura Hocon nomine ut 
Nv «t dlaeeret roorrm gentis." Uist Norw. c. ii. p. 7. 


purpose, travelled Europe. This simple explanation chap. 
may be allowed to displace the narration of Snorre, Atheiiun. 
which, on this subject, resembles more a chapter in 
the £dda than an historical chronicle. He talks of 
Athelstan sending ambassadors to present Harald 
with a sword, that when the Norwegians handled it, 
they might exclaim, " You are now his thane, be- 
cause you have taken his sword." To return the 
polite joke, Harald is stated to have sent his officer to 
England with his son. The officer placed the child 
on the knee of Athelstan, and said, " Harald com- 
mands you to nourish his illegitimate child." ^ 

The simple expressions of Theodoric, " ut disceret 
morem gentis," discountenance these idle fables — the 
children of ignorant rumour. That Athelstan caused 
his ward to be taught every becoming accomplish- 
ment, that he loved him, and that Haco excelled in 
his studies and exercises, are circumstances not re- 
pugnant to our belief. Harald sent to Athelstan the 
present of a magnificent ship, with a golden beak 
and purple sails, surrounded with shields, internally 
gilt.^^ Haco received from Athelstan a sword, which 
he kept to his death.^^ 

Harald had several wives, and a numerous pro- 
geny.®^ When his death approached, he selected his 
son Eric to be his successor. He divided some por- 
tions of his dominions among his other children.^ 
Their ambition was dissatisfied, and enmities and con- 
tests succeeded. Eric, like a crowd of others, saw no 
crime in actions which secured his greatness, and 
therefore earned the horrible surname of the slayer 
of his brothers.®^ The Norwegian people had more 

»« Snorre, Haralld*s Saga, c. xll. xlii. pp. 119, 120. 

" Malmsbury, 51. " Snorre, cxllil. p. 121. 

•^ They are enumerated by Snorre, p. 97. " Snorre, pp. 112, 113. 

•• Theodoric, c. il. p. 7. Snorre, in the last chapter of his Haralld's Saga, p. 123., 
states his fatal warfore against tno of his brethren. 


BOOK morality than ibeir soTereign, and invited Haoo to 
release them finom such a monster.^ Athelstan pro- 
vided his papil with an equipped fleet and warriors ; 
and with these Haco sailed to Trontheim.^^ Haco's 
countenance was beautiful, his person robust, his 
mind disciplined, his manners popular.^ He was re- 
ceived with joy. The chiefe and people deserted Eric, 
and Haco was chosen king in his stead.^ His con- 
duct and laws displayed the benefit he had received 
from the superior civilisation of the court of Athel- 
stan. He was rewarded for a virtuous reign, by a 
permanent and invaluable epithet. Though ten cen- 
turies divide him from us, his title still survives — 
** Haco the Good/' 

Thus it became the glory of Athelstan, that he 
nurtured and enthroned three kings in Europe. He 
educated and established Alan of Bretagne, Louis of 
France, and Haco of Norway ; and these actions are 
not recorded by English writers^, but are attested 
by the chronicles of the countries benefited by his 
liberality. Our own authors, by omitting these cir- 
cumstances, have concealed part of his fame ; but 
this moderation entitles them to credit in other 
similar events. We may therefore believe, on their 
evidence, that he returned to Howel the kingdom of 
Wales, and to Constantino the kingdom of Scotland, 

•• Theodoric, c. il. p. 7. 

*^ Snorre, Saga Uakonar Ooda, c. L p. 125. Itineri in Nonregiam hinc roox 
aceingitur, ad quod et copiis et classe bene armata, omnibusque rebus, neoeraarils, 
0|pe AilaUteini rffgis magniflce instrultur. 

•* Theodoric, c. Iv. p. 9. 

** Snorre, Hakonar Goda, c. i. ; and Theodoric, c. 2. His refgn occupies the 
Saga of Snorre, called Saga Hakonar Goda, p. 125 — 164. The agriculture and 
trade of his luUi^ts particularly prospered in the tranquillity of his reign. Hii 
modesty, benignity, prudence, and legislative nvisdom are extolled, 135. ; yet Ad. 
Bren. calls him ** cruel," p. 25. 

** For this reason they have been hitherto neglected by our historians. When 
we recollect the benefits which Athelstan produced to other sovereigns, and the 
numerous embassies to himself, we must feel that it is not with rhetorical praise 
that the abbot of Peterborough says, <* Rex Adalsteinus omnium ore laudatur ; 
ftfUcem se credebat quisquis regum cxtcrorum el afflnitate vel foDdere sociari potset** 
C^ron. Petri de Burgo, p. 25. 


declaring that he would rather bestow kingdoms than chap. 
enjoy them.^^ He gave another proof of his mag- Atheistan. 
nanimity in this respect, in his reception of Eric, ' • ' 
whom at the call of Norway and of humanity, he 
had assisted to dethrone. When Eric abandoned 
the sceptre of Norway, he went to the Orkneys, and 
having collected a great army, he plundered along 
Scotland. Athelstan heard of his vicinity, and sent 
a message to him, that his father and himself had 
been united in bonds of the strictest friendship, and 
that he wished to show his esteem for Harald in 
kindnesses to his son.^^ 

Eric gladly accepted his favours, and Athelstan 
placed him in North umbria, to reign in feudal sub- 
ordination to himself. ^^ Eric was baptized, and 
fixed his habitation at York.^® Eric is drawn by 
Snorre as a tall, active, powerful man; formidable 
and usually successful in war ; fierce, precipitate, 
selfish, and silent.^^ His wife Gunnhilda has obtained 
a niche in the uncouth temple of Norwegian history. 
She was uncommonly beautiful, very intelligent and 
engaging; but Nature had placed her among bar- 
barians ; and her talents only augmented her power 
of mischief. She became notorious for her cruelty 
and deceit. ^^ 

Athelstan maintained a friendship with Rollo of 

* Malmsbury, lib. ii. c. 6. p. 48., says, «Qao8 — miseratione infractos in anti- 
qaum statutn sub se regnaturos constituit, gloiiosius esse pronuncians regem fkcere 
quam rcgem esse.** Hume, with more national feeling than we shoald have sus- 
pected from his philosophy, disbelieves the feet of Constantine, because his country- 
men deny it, p. 105. ; as if they were less interested to disavow, than the Saxons 
to aflSrm it 

*" Snorre, Hakonar Ooda, c. iii. 

^ Saga Hakonar, c. iii. Theodoric sa3rs, " Ipse vero Ericus ad Angliam navigavit 
et a rege honoriflce susceptus ibidem diem obiit.'* c. iL p. 7. 

*" Snorre says at lorvik (York), " Ubi sedem olim habuisse femntur LodbroU 
fllli.** Saga Hakonar, c. ilL p. 128. He adds, ** Northumbria autem maximam 
pirtem erat a Nordmannis habitata. Linguae Norvegics nomina plurima tjus 
Kglonis ferunt loca, Grirab«r utpote, Hauksfliot aliaque multa.** lb. 

■• Haralld's Saga, c. xlvi. p. 24. 

^ Haralld*s Saga, ib. She is often mentioned in the Norwegian history, at this 
period* She poisoned her husband*! brother, Halfdan. Haralld*i Saga, p. 122. 



B^K/K Xorriiandy, and improved Exeter, which he separated 
from the British kiDgdom of Cornwall. 

Athebtan is represented to hare been a great 
benefactor to the monastic institutions. He rebuilt 
many ; he was liberal to most, of books, ornaments, 
or endowments. ^'^^ 
Athtiitao'f Athelstan had received, by his fathers care, a let- 
tered education. ^^^ His subsequent cultivation of 
knowlege has not been transmitted to us ; but there 
is a little catalogue of his books extant, which may 
not be unworthy of notice.^'^ 

** Malimh. 4S. There are two corioos MSS. in the CoCtoo Ubmr, vhkli 
were presenU of AtbelsUn. One, Tiberias, A. 2., i» a MS. of tike I^tln Gospek. 
Before tbem is a page of Latin in Saxon charactns, of which the first part is, 
'^Volumen hoc evangelii £tbel»tan Anglonim basyleos et cungnlus totius 
Britannic derota menie Dorobemensis catbedre primatui tribuit." One page is 
occupied by ttie letters LIB. in large gilt capitals, and by the rest of the first 
▼erse, in small gilt capitals, on a lilac ground. The following Terses, containing 
the genealogy, are in gilt capitals, on dark blue ground. Tbe first verses of the 
three other Gospels are in gilt capitals, on the uncoloured parchmenL To each a 
painting of the evangelist is prefixed. The rest is written in ink, without ablMV- 
viations. In the beginning of the Gospels is a page with, ** Incipit evangelium 
secundum AUttheum,** in large capitals. Below these words are two erodes; 
opposite to one is, ODDA REX, and to the other, MIHTHILD MATER REGIS. 
I am particular in describing tbe book, because it is declared to have been used 
for the coronation oath of our Anglo-Saxon kings, and because, from the names of 
fMda and Mihthild, I would venture to conjecture, that it was a present from 
Otho of Germany, who married Athelstan*8 sister, and from Mathilda, the empress 
of Henry, and mother of Otha Hrosvida, his contemporary, spells Otho*s name 
CMdo. Reuh. 164. There is also in the Cotton Library a MS. Claudius, B. 5., 
which contains tbe proceedings of the sixth synod of Constantinople, in the 
seventh century. Tbe first pai^ of this exhibits part of the title in very Urge 
capitals, partly red. The next page has tbe rest of the title in smaller capitals, 
and below these, in Saxon characters, are these words : ** Hunc codicem JEthel- 
stanus rex tradidit Deo et almce Christi genitricl Sanctisque Petro et Benedicto 
in Bathonls civitatis ccenobio ob remunerationem siue anima; et quisquis hos 
Icgerit caracteres omnipotenti pro eo proque suis amicis fundat preces.** At ttie 
end of tbe MS. is a paragraph, stating, that it was written in the time of pope 
Sergius. A marginal note is inserted by Sir Robert Cotton, stating, that as Sergius 
was pope in 690, and the synod was held in 681, the book must have been written 
in the tenth year after the synod. In the same valuable library, Galba, A. 18., is 
a small-sized MS. which has come down to us as the Psalter used by Athelstan. 
In the beginning is a very ancient calendar in Saxon letters, written in 703, ut 
apparet in cod ice. The rest is composed of prayers, the Latin Psalter, and several 
other hymns, very handsomely written. Every psalm is begun with gilt capitals, 
with a title preceding in red letters. It has several ornamental paintings. In the 
British Museum, among tbe MSS. of the Bibliotheca Regis, I. A. 18., is a MS. of 
the Gospels in Latin, with this remark, " Hunc codicem iEthelstan Rex devota 
mcnte Doroliernia* tribuit ecclesis." 

*•* Malmsbury, p. 49. 

*** It is in Saxon characters in the Cotton Library, Domitian, A. 1., in these 
words : '*Thir r5^nhon cba bee the .ScbeljTaner pepan, De Datura rerum ; Per- 


Athelstan, amid his greatness, remembered the chap. 
poor. He decreed, that each of his gerefas should Atheutan, 
feed in all ways one poor Englishman, if any such 
they either had or could find. He ordered that, from 
every two of his farms, one measure of meal, one 
gammon of bacon, or a ram worth four pennies, 
should be monthly given ; and clothing for twelve 
months, every year. He also commanded each of 
them yearly to redeem one miserable being who had 
forfeited his liberty by a penal adjudication. He left 
not these charities as mere precepts, which might be 
executed or neglected without consequences. He 
attached the interest of his gerefas to their obedience. 
" If any gerefa shall disregard this, he shall be fined 
thirty shillings, and the money shall be divided 
among the needy of the town." ^^^ 

It was a common saying of the Anglo-Saxons of 
Athelstan, that no one more legally or more learn- 
edly conducted a government.^^^ It is not at all sur- 
prising, that he was a favourite both among his own 
people and in Europe. ^^^ He was certainly a great 
and illustrious character. He appears to have been 
as amiable as great. To the clergy he was attentive 
and mild ; to his people affable and pleasant. With 
the great he was dignified ; with others he laid aside 
his state, and was condescending and decently fa- 
miliar. His stature was almost the middle size ; his 
hair yellowish, twisted with golden threads. His 
people loved him for his bravery and humility ; but 
his enemies felt his wrath. ^^^ 

The memory of Athelstan is stained with the 

si us, de arte metrica; Donatum minorem ; Excerptlones de metrica arte; Apo- 
calypsin ; Donatum m^jorum ; Alcbuinum ; Glossa super Catonem; Libellum de 

grainmatica arte qui sic incipit, &c. SeduUum -j I sepim psf Alrpolbef 

pfieorref, Glossa super Donatum, Dialogorum." MSS. p. 55 

^ Wilkhis, 56. »* Malmsb. 49. 

"* Tota Europa laudes ejus pncdicabat, virtutem in caelum ferebat, kc. 
Malmsb. 51. 

^ Malmsbury has given us this portrait, p. 50. 

VOL. 11. N 


BOOK murder of his brother. When Athelstan acceded, 

VL • • . 

Aiheutan. his elevatioH was opposed by one Alfred, who dis- 
""■"* ' dained his authority. On his apprehension, there 
appeared persons who arraigned Edwin, then a youth, 
the brother of Athelstan, as an accomplice in the re- 
bellion. Edwin, by himself and his friends, implored 
the confidence of the king, and denied the charge by 
his oath. But Athelstan ordered Edwin, with one 
attendant, to be put to sea in a shattered boat with- 
out oars. For some time the prince continued in 
sight of land, but the winds at last rose, and he was 
carried over the ocean out of hope. In despair, he 
sprung upon the waves, and was their immediate 
victim. His body was brought to shore between 
Dover and Whitsand. For seven years, Athelstan 
mourned his death with a penitence ^^ which proved 
that he gained nothing by the crime, but self-re- 
proach and infelicity — the most usual consequence 
of guilt ! 

^ Malmsb. 48. 53. 251. ; Sim. Dan. 134. 154. ; Hoveden, 422. ; Hunt 354. ; 
Matt West. 362. ; and Bromton, 836. 






As the authentic History of Bretagne is almost unknown, it 
may be gratifying to the curious reader, if I add some par- 
ticulars concerning it, which I collected with some labour 
and research, and printed in my first edition, but afterwards 
expunged as an episode. As they may save future students 
some trouble, I will reprint them here. 

Sketch of the ancient History of Bretagne, and AthelstanV 

Reception of its Chiefs. 

The event which connects the reign of Athelstan with Bretagne. 
the history of Bretagne was the appearance in England of 
the descendants of the expatriated Britons, who had retreated 
from the Saxon conquest into Armorica, now flying from 
the Northmen's swords to seek an asjlum, and a country, 
from the descendants of their most hated foes the Anglo- 
Saxons, who had driven their ancestors from their native 

This incident may be allowed to interest us so far with the 
history of these emigrants, as to admit an episode to be de- 
voted to their memory. It is the more necessary, because 
the first British colonists of Armorica have hitherto been 
almost excluded from European history. Wherever they 
have at all appeared, fable has wrapped the narration with 
her clouds ^ and conceals or disfigures that mild illumination 
with which their forgotten tombs ought in justice to be ac- 
companied. The Armorican exiles were the countrymen of 
Arthur ; they were of the race of the Aborigines of the 

* See the Ilistoire de Bretagne par Bertrand d*Argentre, 161 S. He begins with 
the fabulous Conan, the ally of Maximus. He mentions seriously about Hercules 
falling in love with Celtina, daughter of Brltannus, a king of Gaul, and that their 
Issue was Celtes, the father of the Celtic nation, p. 4. He asserts it to be true 
history that the inhabitants of Britain came from Annorica I p. 19. 

V 2 

180 AF2E>'DIX TO 

bLuMl. and they la«t their country, because they spumed a 
forvrigti yoke. Thou^ j^^wtrrful ind ambitioufl governments 
suirviunded and of pz«:ssei them, they pre:«enred themselves a 
di«tmct nation under their own chieftains till the close of the 
fifteeuih century. Such actions deserve a recording memo- 
rial in tlie temples of history. Their more recent transactions 
have been intemroven with our annals. It is their earliest 
fortunes that will her^ be traced. * 

The prv^vinccs of Gaul on the sea-coast, between the 
Seine a:.d the Loin?, were called Armorica by the Celtic 
natives, ia the davs v>f Cjesar.* He enumerates seven states 
which weiv included in that name, of which the modem 
Quimj^r, ReniH^s« and Vannes are part.* Excepting the 
single incident of the cv^nque$t of the Venetian territory by 
the |Vv*ple of Vannes, lt>4, U. C. they are not mentioned in 
existing: historv before the expeditions of the conqueror of 

Ot* the Annorican districts, Vannes was at that period the 
most distinguished. It excelled the others in the science 
and ufe of n;ivig;i:ion. It jvvssessed many ships, by which it 
carried on :;n iniere^^urse with Britain, a region then as un- 
known to R.*uie as i^(:ihoite was to £ni;land in the reism of 
George the First. The few ports which on this coast afforded 
a sheher from an imjietuous sea were in the command of 
the people of Vannes. and their imfKirtance enabled them 
to exact a tribute trem all who frequented the adjoining 

The inhabitants of Vannes detained two Roman envoys, 
and excited a confo\lonicy of their neigMxmrs against Csesar. 
The issue was disjistrvnis to the defenders of their country. 
Part was dostroycvl: the rest submitted: the conqueror, 
unpi tying, ordered their senate and the inhabitants to be 

- Thoc^b the uK>ient Bnr^Hfw luxe apfwvd little in hKtLvry. one work of con- 
»:der&!»!e men: has twen (SevvKol ro their xu::or. whsoh aulude$ to their early state, 
viih more jui*.i:Tcent am.) krK^vlevl^e thin I hive elM-wberv seen. I mean, 
I>!>^ineAu'* Ui>i^re %\^ BrrtJLcne. i ro'.Sw fol. He stJtes the tmt researches which 
the liTeriTT (otrooife of a bishop y<f Quinnpcr cai»e%i to l« nuule throcuh Bretagne, 
for aacieot ijucuinenr» of its hi>torT. The rit-.^bCe work of L<obineau was on« of 
the ccasequenvv^w Verto?** Nv»k i* rather the perJy.^rtajLaoe of a political cootro- 
Te^^ilIi$t than of an im;;urtiil hi*t\>mn 

' L. 7. c. 69. He mentvnf them a^n. L 5. c. 44.. and Hirtius, his con- 
tinnator. in L t". c. 2o. CelUrius places the Annoncan tract inter Lig«rim et 
Scqoanum. lild. Gt\>e. anL r. L p. l:^o. 

• See* C««ar'* names, L T. c. 6j>. F.inv. i. 4. c. 31. is alone in extending 
Armorica to the Pjrrv^i^^- ll<f >"«! Rutili'ts, L 1. r. ^13. and Sidonius Paneg. 
Arit. T. 369. speU the wonl ArenK^-ica. This exactly suits the meaning of the 
•figinal British, ar y mor uch on the sea>cliffs, 

• Lobincau, Hist. t. L p. 2. 

• Canr, L 3. c S. 

BOOK VI. CUAP. U. 181 

rigorously punished. ^ The natives of Britain aided them in Atheistan. 
their struggle ® ; and this assistance, and some similar act of 
friendship, became the pretext for Caesar's aggression upon 
our island. ^ 

The subsequent revolts of Armorica were easily suppressed 
by Csesar, and it withstood the Komans no more. Augustus, 
in his distribution of the provinces of Gaul, comprehended 
Armorica under the Lionnoise. Adrian divided this region 
into two districts, and put Armorica into the second. This 
second province experienced another subdivision, of which 
Tours was the capital ; and the commander of Tours sui>er- 
intended Bretaffne as well as other districts. ^^ 

Armorica remained in subjection to the Komans until its 
revolt and temporary independence in 410 ^*, when Britain 
also seceded from the empire ; but this freedom was of short 
duration. Kutilius, in his poetical itinerary, in the year 416, 
informs us that Exuperantius was teaching the Armoricans 
to love the returning wanderer, peace ^* ; that he had restored 
the laws, and brought back liberty — expressions which imply 
that they had re-admitted the Roman government. About 
the year 435, they aided the. revolt of Sibation, and the 
faction of the Bagaude. We find that -^tius, offended at 
what the author who has preserved the incident calls the 
insolence of the proud region, had commissioned Eocharich, 
the ferocious king of the Almanni, to attack them for their 
rebellion. The interposition of St. Germain appeased the 
storm. ^^ Three or four years afterwards they revolted again, 
and Eocharich then fulfilled his mission with all the cruelty 
of barbarian avarice. ^* The same author describes the Armo- 
ricans as an excitable and undisciplined people ; and another, 
after marking their locality as confined between two rivers, 
characterises them as fierce, stern, light, petulant, rebellious, 
and inconstant ; perpetually inconsistent, from their love of 
novelty ; prodigal of words, but sparing of deeds. ** 

In 452, they assisted in the defeat of Attila, In 477 we 
read of this province being again subdued by liittorius, who 

' Caesar, 1. 3. c. 16. His reason for the severity was, that the barbariant might 
in fiiture respect the jus legatorura. 

* L. 3. c 9. Aiudlia ex Britannia — accersunt 

» L. 4. c. 18. 

*• Lobineau, p. 2. 

'^ See the first volume of this history, p. 176, 177. and Zoiimus, 1. 6. p. 376. 

*^ Ills expre^ion is, postliminium pacis, ▼. 213. 

" Lobineau, p. 3. 

" Constantius vita S. German!, cited by Mascou in his hbtory, v. 1. p. 476. 
This author wrote in 488, 3 Gibbon, 274. 

»* Erricus Mod. Vit Germ. L 6. cited by Gibbon, p. 274. 

N 3 


Atheistao. led his forces against the Visi Goths. ^^ From all these cir- 

'— -* ' cumstances, though we cannot accredit the system of Du 

Bos, who erects an unshaken republic in Armorica, from the 
period of its revolt to the successes of Clovis *^ yet we may 
perceive that its subjection to Rome was not constant, nor 
were its liberties destroyed with impunity. 

About the year 500, the Armoricans were fighting for the 
empire against the Francs. This rising nation was then 
conducted by Clovis, the founder of the French monarchy, 
who reproached the Armoricans for deserting the liberty of 
their ancestors. They maintained their struggle with suc- 
cessful bravery against the Salian king, who at last proposed 
to them an alliance and a connubial connection. On the 
conversion of Clovis, the proposed incorporation took place. *• 

These sketches of history relate to the Armorican Celtse. 
In the commencement of the sixth century they received 
a new colony of British Celtas : and it is this event which 
gives us peculiar interest in the history of the fortunes of 

That Armorica, and the opposite district of Britain, had 
very anciently a friendly intercourse, is declared by Csssar, 
and this may have continued during their Roman subjection. 

The actual emigration of Britons has been dated from the 
year 383, when Conan Meriadoc and his followers are re- 
ported to have left Britain with Maximus. ^^ But this fable 
must be rejected from true history. It has been discarded 
by the best historian of Bretagnc, whose reasons are decisive.** 

M 1 Mascou, 477. 

" Du Bos, 1. p. 224. MQntesquiea, in attacking Du Bos*s opinion that the 
Franca did not hold Qrii\ by right of conquest but by invitation, takes occasion to 
intimate a disbelief that the Armoricans, during all this period, formed a parUcular 
republic. Esprit de» Loix, 1. 30. c. 24. 

^ Procopius de bell. Got 1. 1. c. 12. The consent, almost unanimous, of the 
learned has approved of the substitution of Apuopvxoi for hp€opvxoi in the pas- 
sage of Procopius. 

** There is a curious traditional account of Meriadoc in an old Jjatin parch- 
ment MS. in the British Museum, Faustina, B. 6. It is intituled, ** Vita Meria* 
doci Regis Cambris." This life is in direct contradiction to the JefAr Chronology 
of Conan's accompanying Maximus. According to this MS. Meriadoc was the 
son of Caradoc, a king in Wales, whose seat was penes nivalem montem qui 
Kambrice Snaudone resonat. Caradoc was assassinated by his brother. Meriadoc 
and his sister were sent away to the wood Arglud to be killed. The king's hunts- 
man found them alive, and brought them up secretly. Urien, the northern king, 
travelling with Kaius, one of Arthur's household, saw the children. They were 
afterwardi brought up with Arthur and Urien. Arthur punishes the assassination 
of Caradoc. The MS. ends with an account of Meriadoc*s expedition to the con- 
tinent I mention these particulars, merely to remark, that this MS., which is 
iUl of fables, yet places Meriadoc not in the fourth, but in the sixth century, his 
era ; for it makes him a boy when Arthur and Urien were men. 
Lobincau declines the insertion of it, because it is incompatible with the real 


While the Anglo-Saxons were prevailing in Britain, several Atheistan. 
assemblages of the natives quitted their paternal soil, and 
established themselves in Armorica.^* Their new settlements 
were in general named Llydaw^^; but each particular district 
received its appellation from the insular principality or resi- 
dence of the general of the colony. 

The few cities which, in the authors of this period, are 
mentioned on this coast, warrant the l>elief, that a large part 
of Llydaw was uninhabited.^ This supposition accounts 
for the selection of the spot, and for the ease with which the 
Britons effected their establishments. 

The regions which the Britons colonised were literally 
Llydaw, or on the sea-shore. Dol, St. Malo, St Brieux, 
Tregueir, St. Pol de Leon, Brest, Quimper, and Vannes, 
which now appear along the peninsula of Bretagne, mark the 
districts on which the Britons fii^st disembarked. As their 
population and power increased, they stretched into the inte- 
rior of the country to Bennes, and southward to Nantz. ** 
It is not known with what degree of violence they effected 
their occupation of the country. 

As soon as the first colonics had settled, new adventurers 
were incessantly arriving. The names of Devonshire and 
Cornwall, which some of the emigrants imposed on the dis- 
tricts they seized, are evidences that a large portion of tlie 
colonists were from these counties in Britain. '* 

The leader placed at the head of the earliest emigrants is 
Buval, who settled himself in all the north part of the pro- 
expedition of Maximus, which disembarked at the mouth of the Rhine, and not in 
Armorica; with the state of Gaul and Armorica, under Theodosius, and his 
children, after the defeat of Maximus and Eugenius ; with the Notitia of the 
empire, which places Roman garrisons not only in Rennet, and Vanne^ but even 
about Brest ; with the Armorican revolt in 40S, and the punishment inflicted by 
iCtius in 436, and 439 ; with the aid given by the Armoricans against Attila in 
452; with the government of this district given to Exuperantius, before 419; 
with what Gildas and Bede state of the true passage of the Britons ; and with Uie 
existence nf Judicliael, king of the Britons in 630, and of all his ancestors up to 
Ruval ; whose lives are authenticated by all the French authors of the seventh 
century, and by every thing that can be collected from the British legends. 

^' I have mentioned the authorities for adopting the year 513, as the year when 
the Britons arrived in Armorica, in the first volume, p. 140. I cannot assent to 
Lobineau's date in 458. It is much too early. 

" Llydaw implying, as it is said, the sea-coast, is litUe else than a synonime to 
Armorica. The author of the life of Gildas says, "In Armoricam quondam 
Galliac regionem tunc autem a Britannis a quibus possidebatur Letavia dicebatur." 
Bouquet, 3. 449. The MS. Vita Cadoci says, " Provincia quondam Armorica, 
delude Littau, nunc Britannia minor vocatur." Cotton Library, Vesp. A. 14. p. 32. 

" Lobineau, p. 6. 

'* Lobineau, p. 1. and 7. ; and Adelmus Bcnedictus, in the Corp. Franc Ilist. 
p. 396. 

" Lobineau, p. 6. 

N 4 



Atheisun. vincc, from Leon to Dol. '® In the time of Gildas, we also 
find Conomer, a British king, in the upper regions of Bre- 
tagne ^ ; and Weroc, who governed at Vannes. ^ When 
Gildas followed his countrymen to Llydaw, he passed a solitary 
life in the island of Houath. Grallon, a British prince, is 
then mentioned, who built a monastery for Gildas. ® 

The pestilence denominated the yellow plague, from the 
colour of its victims^, raged in the British island at the »ra 
of the Anglo-Saxon successes, and accelerated the Armorican 
emigrations.^* The British chieftains were the most con- 
spicuous among the crowding exiles. Fracanus, of noble 
descent, the cousin of Cato, a British king, went at this period 
with his family to Armorica ^^ the region where safety and 
tranquillity seemed then to reside. ^ He found unoccupied a 
tract surrounded with wood and bushes, which had been 
fertilised by an inundation of the adjoining river. In this 
spot he fixed his habitation.^ 

GniUon is mentioned with the epithet of the Great.'* He 
governed in that part of Bretagne called Cornwall.^ This 
was the district near Brest. ^ Quimper was its metropolis.* 

» Lob. 6, 7. 

*' Vita Gildae, p. 456. Gregory of Tours calls him Chonobrl, 1. 4. c. 20. 

" Vita Gild. ib. After 530, Eusebius is mentioned as a king of Vannes, Vita 
8. Melanii. Acta Sanct Boll. Jan. 331. 

" Acta Sanct 2 Jan. p. 954. The writers of these lives who lived near the 
times they speak of, though no authority for the facts of their legends, yet often 
preserve some curious historical traits. 

*® Pestis autem ilia flava vocabatur eo quod flavos es exangues universos quos 
invasit efficiebat — sseviente cnim in hominibus et jumentis ille peste. Vita S. 
Teliavi, Ap. Bolland. 1 Feb. 308. It was to escape this plague that Teliau 
went to Armorica. 

" Tandem ob pesUs late grassantis luem atque etiam irrumpentem hostium vim 
coacti incolae ac precipice quidem nobiles alienas petivere terras. Life of S. Win- 
waloc, an Armorican MS. printed in Boll. Act Sane 1 Martll, 256. 

'* This emigration is worth noticing in its particulars, as a probable specimen 
of many others : *' Vir in prsdicta insula perillustris Fracanus Catonis regis 
Britannicl consobrinus — per id tempus quo grassaretur pestis exult de terra et de 
cognationc sua cum geminis suis natis Guethenoco et Jacobe cum uxore sua quae 
Alba dicebatur; conscensa itaque rate contendit in Armoricam." Vlt: Winwaloc, 


** Ubi tunc temporis alta quies vigere putabatur. Ib. 

** Fundum ibi quendam sylvis dumisque alte circumseptum reperit qui ex inun- 
datione fluvii cui tiomen sanguis locuples est Hunc habitare coepit securus a 
morbis. Ib. 

** Gradlonus appellatus magnus. Vlt Winwal. 259. 

" Begem occiduorum Comubiensium. Ib. 259. 

" Solum Comubicnse non procul a Brestiensi tractu. Vit S. David. MS. of 
Utrecht, Ap. Bol. 1 Mart. 139. 

** The editors of the Acta Sanctorum (1 Feb. 305.) remark, that port of 
Armorica was called Comwallia ; they state, ( 1 Mart 246. ) that the bishop of 
the district is still intituled, '*£piscopus Comugallia; vulgo de ComoaiUe.** In 
Feb. I. 602, they express that some call Grallon, ** Regem Comubiae cujus ditionis 
metropolis est Quimper Coreutin.'* 

BOOK VI. CHAP. II. *185 

Grallon is also characterised for his ferocious mind. * During AthoisUn. 
his government, the city of Ys, near Quimper, is said to have 
fallen a prey to the invading waters.*® 

About the same time that Grallon and the other British 
princes in Armorica are mentioned, we also hear of Budic, a 
king in these regions. It is indeed obvious, from the tenor 
of the fragments of history and tradition which have come 
down to us on this subject, that the British settlers in Armo- 
rica reached it at different periods, and remained at first dis- 
parted into many petty, but independent sovereignties.** 

Grallon is mentioned with so many epithets and allusions 
which imply conquests, that it is probable that his contem- 
poraries felt the effects of his power. *' 

In the middle of the sixth century, a British king, who 
had been the friend of Arthur, also emigrated to Armorica. 
This was Caradoc Vreich-vras, a prince of great notoriety in 
the Welsh traditions.*^ He had governed Cornwall under 
Arthur **, and he is often mentioned with encomiastic epithets 
in the Triadcs.** He obtained a settlement of dignity among 
the Armorican Britons. 

What scene can appeal so forcibly to our compassionate 
feelings, as little colonies of families driven by the sword of 
invasive war from their paternal homes, and seeking an asylum 

» So the life of S. Wlnwal. 254. Gradlon. 

^ Argentre Ilist. 114. He adds, **£t encore aujourd'hui les habitans monstrent 
les mines et le reste des muraiUes si bien cimentes que la mer n'a peu les em- 
porter." My authority must be responsible for the circumstance. 

*^ It has been asserted by some, that these Bretons were never under inde- 
pendent sovereigns, but always suhjected to the Franlcish kings. The passages of 
Gregory of Tours on this sul^ect are rather contradictory. Valesius, who con- 
sidered the question maturely, decides, that the Bretons, though often subdued, 
yet were never sul^ject to the Merovingian or Carlovingian families, by any certa 
imperii confessione. See the note in Bouquet's Recueil, v. iii. p. 205. Their 
governors are called kings oftener than duces at first. I cannot avoid coinciding 
with Valesius. 

^ The Vita Winwal, says of Grallon, ** Qui post devictas gentes inimicas sib! 
duces subduxerat,** p. 259. So the ancient Breviary of Bretagne styles him, 
Orallonus Britonum, rex qui tunc temporis illius gentis monarchium tenebat* BoU. 
1 June 84. There is a grant of Gradlon to St. Guengalocus, in Lobineau, ii. 
p. 17., wherein he styles himself, ** Ego Gradlonus gratia Dei Rex Britonum.** 

** In illis diebus Caradauc cognomento brecbras — ad Letaviam veniens illam 
cepit imperio. Vita Paternl MS. Cott Lib. Vesp. A. 14. p. 79. So the Brevia- 
rium Venetense, ** Caradoco Britannia sul^ugata ad Letaviam quoque debellandum 
mare transgresso." Boli. 2 April, p. 381. These lives of Saints are certainly 
among the least eligible documents for history ; but on this period of the Breton 
history we have little else ; and we must admit, that however inventive they may 
be in their miraculous circumstances, they had no motive to be intentionally 
falAe in such collateral historical hints as are quoted here. 

*♦ Trioedd ynys Prydaln. vil. Arch. Welsh, il. p. 3. 

** The 23d Triad styles him one of the chadfarchawc, or the knights of battle 
of BrlUln; another calls him the pillar of Wales. The I9th Triad mentions his 
sou Chawrdaf ; and the 9th Trioedd y melrch, notices his daughter LIuagor. 


Athcistan. and Subsistence on some foreign shore ? Have we not often 
followed the interesting Eneas and his exiled friends, with 
the warmest glow of heart, with the most ardent hopes of 
their final tranquillity ? Emigrants, like theBritons, who go 
to colonise a foreign soil, reach their new country in misery 
the most afflicting. They have not only their luxuries, but 
every convenience to create. Long before they can even 
hope to enjoy comfort, they must extort from the uncultured 
soil the indispensable aliment of the passing day. The cottage 
must be built ; the wood must be cut down ; the marsh must 
be drained ; the town must be raised. These considerations 
would lead us to expect an age of peace, till happiness had 
produced satiety. What leisure can expatriated penury 
afford for civil feud ; what temptation can it present to am- 
bitious war. Alas ! misery is unfriendly both to virtue and 
to peace. It indurates the heart; it clouds the mind; it 
engenders cruelty, ferocity, and turbulence : it exiles bene- 
volence ; it cherishes malignity. Man, therefore, has seldom 
been in any states of want and pain, but his actions and his 
history have become too faithful mirrors of his misfortunes 
and his depravity. 

The British emigrants soon augmented the evils which 
accompanied their exile by political calamities. Their his- 
tory is confused by their numerous assassinations, wars, and 
usurpations. Soon after their full establishment, we read of 
Chanao, one of the princely exiles, killing his three brothers, 
and imprisoning Macliau the other. Macliau being liberated, 
rebels, flies, conceals himself from his pursuers in a chest 
within a tomb, turns monk and bishop; but on Chanao's 
death, takes his wife and kingdom.^^ 

We hear also of crimes like those of Arabian romance at- 
tached to the character of Conomer, or Conon Mawr, or the 
Great, another chieftain. As soon as his wives became 
pregnant, the wild tradition transformed into fable asserts, 
that he destroyed them.^' His political cruelties, the crimes 
of his ambition, are more probable, because more common. 
He killed lena, the grandson of Ruval, and by submitting 
himself to the Frankish king, he sought safety from the 
enmity of his countrymen. Judual, the son of lena, flew to 
the court of Childebert to escape the search of murder.^* 
Conon is also stated to have destroyed Canao, his wife and 

*• Gregory of Tours, 1. 4. c. 4. p. 70. Ed. Ilanov. 1613. 

*^ Vita Qilda, written by a Monacho Ruyensi about 1008. Boll. 2 Jan. 961. 

*■ Lobineau, i. p. 9. 

BOOK VI. CHAP. n. 187 

6on.^^ The Frankish sword, in 560, at last released Bretagne AtbeisUn. 
from his oppressions.^ * 

Soon afterwards Maclian expelled his nephew Theodoric, 
who, in return, in 577, killed his uncle and cousin. Waroc 
succeeded to the part of Bretagne which his father Macliau 
had held, and Theodoric to the other.** Waroc defeated the 
Frankish confederacy, and destroyed the Saxons of Bayeux.** 
Contests then ensued in the efforts of Waroc to possess 
himself of Bennes and Nantz.** 

In 590, Judual was reigning in Armorican Devonshire, 
and Waroc in Vannes.** Jiidual was succeeded by his son 
Judichael, whose moral and religious character impresses us 
like an apparition of benign beauty in a stormy night. At 
first he retired to a cloister on his father's death, but he was 
persuaded to accept the crown. In his time, about 635, some 
Bretons made incursions on the frontiers of Dagobert ; but 
Judichael, after receiving an embassy of expostulation**, paid 
a visit of peace to the Frankish court*® 

The good Judichael, in 636, choosing to secede from the 
cares and employments of royalty, wished to transfer his 
power to his brother Judoc ; but this prince had imbibed 
the love of a private life so strongly, that he fled to avoid the 
honours intended for him.*^ These unambitious characters are 
so rare, and the want of them sometimes causes such calamity, 
that whenever they appear they ought to be extolled. 

Of Judichael's children, we only know that he had two 
sons ; " by whom," says Ingomar, " long after his death, the 
Breton nation was so irradiated, that every province and 

• Lobineau, 1. p. 70. 

" Gregory of Tours, 1. 4. c. 20. Gregory nunes this person toraetimes 
Conorner, and sometimes Conober ; but so be calls Bobolen, 1. 8. c. 32. Sep- 
polen in c. 43. This diversity of orthography is inseparable from this period. 

" Gregory, p. 101. 

** When the Saxons invaded Britain, some went towards Armorica, and settled 
near Nantx and Bayeux. They mingled with the ancient inhabitants, and had a 
common appellation with them. Charles the Bald, in his laws, names their Ian- 
guage the linguam Saxon Icam. They were called Saxones Bajocassimi. Bouquet, 
V. iL p. 250. and 482. 

" Gregory, 108, 109. 110. 199. 224. 

^ Lobineau, 20. After Conon's death, Judual in tota cum sua sobole regnavlt 
Domnonia. Vit Sampsoni, by a contemporary in Bouquet, v. iil. p. 433. 

^ £Iigiu8 was the Frankish ambassador, an ecclesiastic of much skill in the 
goldsmith's art, and of much moral merit. See his life, Bouquet, ill. 552. 

** Aimonius de Gcst Franc. Bouquet, iii. 132. St Ouen, the chancellor of 
France, who was present at the interview, has mentioned it in his life of Eloi. 
lb. The Cronicon Britannicum, from the ancient MS. of the church of Nantx, 
dates this peace in 643. See it in Lobineau, v. ii. p. 30. 

*' See the Vita Judoci, by an author of the eighth century, in Bouquet, iii. 
p. 519. 




Athekun. country in their occupation continued to be governed by 
their descendants."** 

The kingdom or county of Armorican Cornwall has escaped 
the notice of the old annalists, who have reached us. We have 
a catalogue of its chiefs, written in the twelfth century, but 
no narration accompanies it.^ The ancient romances of the 
country, indeed, abound with matter. The heroic actions of 
Daniel Dremruz transcend in glory the greatest achievements 
that have amazed us ; but fiction has written in the page 
which history left a blank. We can only assert with truth, 
that Breton Cornwall had always its own counts to the time 
of Alain Cagnart ; and that in the eleventh century they rose 
from the possession of an inferior province of Bretagne to the 
government of all the country.^ 

In 753, the Bretons were defeated by Pepin, but not sub- 
dued. Under Charlemagne there was a Comte des Marches 
de Bretagne. This Comte was the famous Roland, who fell 
in 778, at the well known battle of Bonce val, and whose 
memory has been consecrated by the genius of romance, and 
the admiration of our forefathers.^* 

We are trespassing with an episode of some length, but we 
now hasten to its close. Charlemagne appointed the count 
Gui, a potent warrior, to watch the frontiers of Bretagne. 
The endangered people, instead of repulsing their general 
enemy, wasted their strength in civil wars, and for the first 
time all Bretagne was conquered and subjected to France by 
the indefatigable Gui. The troops were joined to the Im- 
perial armies ^^ ; disdaining a long submission they revolted. 
Vannes had been for 200 years the object of war between 
the Bretons and the French. It was the key of Bretagne, 
by which the French could enter at their pleasure into the 
very heart of the kingdom. The most violent efforts were 

** Lobineau, i. p. 26. 

" It may be worth inserting from Lobineau, ii. p. 17. " Catalogue des Comtes 
de Comouaille tlr^ des Cartulaires de Landevcnce et Quimper ecrits dans le dou- 
deme slecle ; " — 

Rlwelen Murmarthou 

Gradlon Mur 
Daniel Dremrud, Alamannis 

rex fuit 
Budie et Maxenti duo fhttres 
Johan Rheith 
Daniel Unva 
Gradlon flam 

Lobineau, L p. 27. 

Ix>b. p. 28. Eginhart, 5. 

Concar Chcrennoe 
Budic Mur 
Fragual Findleac 
Gradlon pluenevor 

Ulfres Alesruda 

Diles Heirgue- Ehebre 



Alan Cantaaiart (died 1058) 


" Lobin. ib. 


therefore made to take and to keep this city. The Bretons AtheUtan. 
mastered it in 809 ; the army of Charlemagne retook it in 
811. The miseries which this nation suffered at last ended 
their civil dissensions. In 814, Jamithin was reigning in 
Britain, and afterwards Morvan.^ 

Louis le Debonnair twice subdued Bretagne ^, and made 
Nominoe its lieutenant-governor.®* In 848, Nominoe was 
consecrated king of Bretagne at Dol.^® He baffled three 
Frankish expeditions of Charles the Bald.®^ In 851 he died» 
the most prosperous and powerful prince which the Bretons 
had yet enjoyed.^® At his accession, the history of Bretagne 
breaks out into distinct notice, and flows into a clear and 
regular stream. 

His son Erispoe defeated Charles again ; who, in revenge- 
ful policy, supported Salomon, the heir of Erispoe*s eldest 
brother, against him. Erispoe allowed Salomon to govern 
subordinately the county of Rennes.®* In 857, Salomon, by 
an atrocious act (he killed his cousin ^^), began a reign of 
ability, but of guilt. 

Salomon, assuming the sovereignty of all Bretagne, con- 
ciliated the French king, who, for his services against the 
Northmen, sent him a crown enriched with gold and jewelry, 
and abo the ornaments of regal dignity ^^ ; but in 874 he 
experienced the instability of all power which has been ob- 
tained by crime. So many minds are depraved by the ex- 
ample, and encouraged by the success, that usurpation is 
generally dethroned by usurpation, till it ceases to be en- 
viable. Pasquitan, count of Vannes, and also Gurvaint, the 
count of Rennes, who has obtained by his bravery a ray of 
fame, because all was gloom around him, caballed against 
Salomon, and destroyed him.^' The revolters then fought 
for the undivided sovereignty, and both perished in 877.'* 

Alain, brother of Pasquitan, succeeded at Vannes; and 
Judicbail, son of Erispoe's daughter, at Rennes. Their civil 
discord was overawed by a Northman invasion. They united 
for the time ; but in 878, Judichail, too eager for glory, fought 

" Lob. 28. •* Lob. ib. • Lob. 30. 

• Lob. 47. 
" Lob. 40 — 49. and see Daniel, History de France, v. 11. p. 42, 43. 46. 

• Lob. p. 60. • Lob. p. 52. *• Lob. p. 64. 

'* Lob. 62. Daniel states, 66., that the Council of Savonlers, held 869, men- 
tioned Salomon with the periphrasis qui Britanporum tenet regionem, to avoid 
calling him king. The Council of Soissons afterwards styled him merely dulce. 
Father Daniel follows this obligatory authority, and gives no higher title to any 
ruler in Bretagne. 

" Lob. 66. Gurvaint, called by Regino, Vurfandus, challenged Hastings. See 
Regino's detailed account in 874, p. 43. 
'» Lob. 67, 68. 


ikne wzdk, dse aasaij ami pmdheiL Akin, with better col- 
kirrai acrenc^ cooquereii diflii. wisk dec mi e fihnghter, 
sad wtm ackaowiedeeti dbe nverngn of all Bretwne.^^ He 
rozattd lul 9«>7 vick fotaaiaar ami trmqaflfitr. He attained 
Gfee fcraxisae cc dae Greas : bos mjc great firom oreqioirering 
insdLecc c-r suetEcr acxurfcoftenci : mx great becaoae he was 
a zsia^ b<n ^raiaie hs coaucmBen were dwaifik 

We aow accroach che Tmriiipnt which haa oomiected the 
hkcorr ct Breca^ae wich the rdgn of AthekSan. After 
AJaxa'i iea££* ooe ^miiny^ dood hw shaded the affinity of 
has recceseirr : bos we firni GmmhaikxL, called the monarch of 
Bnecaterne *~', Erin^ bi amhr with Bivak the count of Yannes, 
and Marr.aeAx. tLe ccost of Poher.^ 

3Iathxs«k-t had BBrxicd the dusrhier of AUn the Grreat ; 
tjiiAihrnr- bat the thnx&e of Akbi wv iaddenlj swept away by the 
^'°~ fnnoQs torreci or the Xcrthmoi, im>w becomii^ Normans 

nzMkr Rolks who in the b^^inning of the tenth century burst 
upon Breutgne widi desolanan and ruin. No exertion could 
check its ap{*nMches: it oT^rwhelmed the sovereign^ and 
the people with destnictiofi» and Mathoedoi escaped to Eng- 
land with his family^ aztd was receiTcd by Athektan as 
alreadr i&entii>ned. 

Aam2n Mtiftoar* Beo;wc t5L pl T\. : tkrr icttt; tkit oat of 16,000 
>^^<ncn. vit^ vbcoi A^un Ss^kL 400 mij cnfcd. Lr stjoar otdinaire 
le fnzad cvrctr ac i>.»tw: At Bar«x pRS * EmSml UAl L 7a 

Ko c^ %-afn : war <f FfciiifiMiBfc. He vat eridniUr tbe 

BF 3t>s^uK«kt KW'unf A RctcMuv A M poor tun oooflnncT Ics 

*' « « ?» ^ w 4«'3 fiit uu Eclsm^ Lo<k. pc TiX TW Cknnkle of ^Unts states, that 
the nt» of Alain tbe Gm: cftme poiRs ^vttifxa M m n nte* oamlDO defecU 
ftKTnPt. BooqiMt. TiiL 276. 

TherricaT be mne foondadcn fcr the mark of Daniel:— "D temble 

mrsBie que depu» fat mert do doc Alain pviace ^aiUant Q y awiit me opwe 
d .Vnarrhie, ec que Ie« cwnre* du Pit* f'etoiect rradw maistm chanin dans leur 
Gmtoo," p. 221. : bat there » noc foomiatioii for hi» pertioadtj in maintaining^ 
the ooortlr propocitioa : *- Que ee doche ctuit toqjovn tribatdre de fai Ftancc, et 
snjct a HKMnmage." Ih. 




Edmund the Elder, 

Athelstan having left no children, his brother Ed- chap. 
mund succeeded at the age of eighteen.^ Edmund 

Anlaf, the Northumbrian prince, who had fought .^*'^^*'^''\ 
the battle of Brunanburh against Athelstan, renewed 941. 
his competition with Edmund. The Anglo-Danes 
of Northumbria encouraged his hopes ; they invited 
him from Ireland, and appointed him their king.^ 

Collecting a great armament, he sailed to York, 
and thence marched towards Mercia, to wrest the 
crown of England from the head of Edmund.^ He 
assaulted Tamworth. Edmund, whom the Saxon 
song styles "the lord of the English — the protector 
of his relations — the author of mighty deeds," armed 
on the hostility, and marched against Anlaf to the 
" way of the White Wells, and where the broad 
stream of the Humber flowed."^ 

Edmund had less abilities or less fortune than 
Athelstan; or the power of the Anglo- Danes had 

> Flor. wig. 350. ; Sax. Chron. 114. ; Al. Bev. 110. ; Ing. 29. The Sue 
Cbron. Tib. B. 4. dates Athelstan *8 death in 940. So Tib. B. 1. 

* Malnub. 63. Flor. Wig. 360. The MS. Saxon Chronicle, Tib. R 4. has 
this passage, which is not in the printed one: *<941, brp Nopchymbpa aluson 
hi pa secpeopaclin -j Anlar of Yplanbe bim to cinse secupon." 

* Matt. West. 365. 

* The first iwragraph of the reign of Edmund, in the Saxon Chronicle, is ob- 
viously an extract fh>ni a poem : — 

|>ep ebmunb cjrnins, 
Cnsla theoben, 
Mas* munbbopa 
M^pce secobe : 
Dy^tit bieb niuQia 
Spabop rcabetb 
Hpiran pjrller seat 
*) Humbpa ea 
Upaba bpjrni ftpeam. 

P. 114. 

l!)S lusTOBr or r&i 

''*^Y^ lm*iiMised, for Anlaf was victorl:-ui i:: TinvcrtL' 
taiimiui Hut tliii Anglo-Saxon govemmen: Lii leEn »:• tor- 
thv huur. jjij^.^j jj,^, ^jj^ ^yjg^, adniinistration of :}lt% izl-e ^-i-tc- 

»»n. ivi«rns, that the first successes of Ailif cyzli noft 
ovi»rwhi'Iui it. At Leicester, the k::.g jcmuiided 
tlir invader and his friend Wulfsti^n. :be iziic::oas 
and (url)ulrnt archbishop of York: bu: iL-ev burst 
at ni^dit out of the city.^ A battle ensuei, ii: which 
tht» skill and activity of an earh who-ac daurLier he 
had nairried, gave to Anlaf the palm of viotoiy. after 
a tlav ofctonfiict/ 

Tht'si* (hjfeats inclined Edmund to listen to the 
ia'gt»!ia(ion of the archbishops of Canterbury and 
^^^rk. A peace* was concluded between the prli^cely 
rixals, on terms highly honourable to Anlaf, lu: less 
rrodifabh? to Kdnnind. To Anlaf was surrenier^ 
all fliat part of England which extended nor:h of 
Watling-strtjet. Edmund contented himself with the 
MiMiflirrn regions. Hut a condition, still more humi- 
liafin;^ fc» flu! Anglo-Saxons, was added: — whoever 
Miirxivi'd (la^ other was to be the monarch of the 
wliiili'." It happened that Anlaf died in the follow- 
in//, veiir; hut Ik; must have had great power, or 
yvnil lalrnts capable of creating power, to have esra- 
hlirthed t\iv himsell* so near a chance of the cn:»wn of 
Till' death ol' Anlaf removed a perilous competitor. 

* I liiiiri> anil iliU fui'f no where mentioned bu: in the MS. Su:c Ch7\.Ti:j^je. 
'UtmUtm, II 4. ♦• fM.I, liffi AiiUr »bn«c T»o;rrarr.e - aiicrl r*i !:rr«^: oa 
iHfitUitm fiNiif' ) rliii hi'imii »ij;e alicun -j oiicrle t.rjit bsrhc =.^ £ a aj^t; ^v^ 
htith 'lliiop pur M^iiln"Jri ^^riiuuien on zhacr-t hr^xucTc.** Il?<-<^ec hiris. :hi&: 
IHi tnhnwril lu 'J'uniwrrle, iind plundered, p. 423.; be: Ki:2tfr cjec::*:c» tie 
thiltMt vli lory, nor tUr rufiturr of Wulfnm. 

• 'lUU UtfUintt AjfpeAr* only in the MS. Succn thni-civle. T:b K 4. I: is =:« 

tlffi IffUiltut tmf, nor In Matthew, nor FToreace, nc-r U-:tfUzL. =:r E-ctir^c-.c, 

Multinhury, n#fr Ktbelwerd, nor Ingulf. Tte foasoK iztt* MS. ihr.-cjc> 

n t^ j b« U^ Tinp^ikou mcifare n«ri< ri* -: c- =.-r -r z< «rr ::,-»- 

* mm, W0tt, 7i0,r,. 

• $Mt W^wi, :i^r,. Iloveden, 423- adrcin iza ^3ct. ^--: 
4ltUm. tl^ Mnitrr^ 14^., and Sim. Dqd. 134. 

:::? lie jez cvc- 



and Edmund availed himself of the casualty to reco- 
ver the possession of Northumbria. ^ He also ter- 
minated {he dangerous independence of the five cities 
which the Danes had long occupied on the northern 
frontiers of Mercia and East Anglia. These were 
Derby, Leicester, Nottingham, Stamford, and Lin- 
coln. The preceding kings seem to have sufifered the 
Danes to retain them ; but " the heir of the warriors 
of Edward ^^ " adopted a new policy. He expelled the 
Northmen, and peopled them with Saxons. ^^ Two 
fleeting kings attempted, but in vain, to be permanent 
in Northumbria. 

Edmund extended his conquests to Cumbria, in 
946 : with the help of the king of South Wales, he 
ravaged the little kingdom ; he cruelly blinded the 
two sons of Dunmail, who reigned there, and gave it 
to Malcolm of Scotland, on condition of defending the 
north of the island against invaders. ^^ 

In the height of his prosperity the king was sud- 
denly killed. The circumstances of his death, how- 
ever, vary more than a transaction so simple, and so 
affecting, could be thought to occasion. At Canter- 
bury, according to some ^^ ; at Windechirche, accord- 
ing to another^'* ; at Michelesbcrith, as named by a 
third ^^ ; at Pucklecburch in Gloucestershire, between 
the Avon and the Severn, according to others ^^ ; the 

* Matt. West 365. ; the Saxon Chron. ; Mailros, and others, place Anlaf' s 
death at this time. 

** So the Saxon Chronicle styles him in a passage, which seems to be a part of 
an Anglo-Saxon song. 

Wissenbpa hleoapepa ebpapbep. 

Sax. Chron. 114. 

" Huntingdon, p. 355. 

^ Matt West 366. The condition in the Saxon Chronicle, which dates the 
event in 945, is, that Malcolm should be his mib rynbta both on sea and land, 
p. 115. The Welsh Chronicle places it in 944 : ** Ac y diffeithwyt Strat-clut y 
gan y saesson." ** Strat-clut was ravaged by the Saxons.** MS. Cleop. b. v. 
The MS. Cleop. states the death of Edwal and Elissed against the Saxons. 

" Thorn. Ch. p. 1779.; Bromton, 858.; Hist Ramos. 389. So the Welsh 
MS. ** 945, yd oed Edmund Vrenhin >'n kynnal gwled ^n manachloc Seint 
Austyn yngkeint" Cleop. b. v. 

" Mailros, 148. " Matt West 366. 

^ Malrasb. 54. AL Bev. 111. Hoveden, 423. Ing. 29. 





the Elder. 








the Elder. 

^ > * 


king was feasting on the day of Saint Augustine, which 
was always commemorated by the Anglo-Saxons. A 
man, one Leof, appeared among the company, whom 
Edmund had six years before banished for pillage. 
Warmed with the liquor which he had been drinking, 
the king jumped from his seat, seized the intruder by 
the hair, and threw him on the ground ^^ ; others state, 
that Leof had quarrelled with the king's cup-bearer, 
and was about to destroy him, when Edmund inter- 
fered ^® ; another, perhaps more truly, mentions, that 
amidst the bacchanalian jollity, a discord, as generally 
happens, suddenly arose among the guests. In the 
midst of their fury, the king rose from table to appease, 
perhaps to share in the tumult, when the exiled robber 
stabbed him with a dagger which he had secreted. ^^ 
It is, however, singular, that, on an incident so palpa- 
ble and so impressive, such a contrariety of rumours 
became popular, that Malmsbury states that his death 
opened the door for fable all over England ^^; and 
Wallingford was so perplexed as to aver, that it was 
to his day uncertain who was the murderer, or what 
was the cause. ^^ Instances like these, which often 

" Malrasb. 54. So the Welsh Chronicle : " Ac val ydoed yn bwrw golwc tr 
hyt y neuad ef a welei Lleidyr a rydaroed y dehol or yn^'S kynno hynny ar 
brenhin a gynodes jr vjrny ac a doeth hj^t yn He ydoed y lleidyr ac ymavael ac ef 
ger wallt y ben ay dynnv dros y bwrt" ** And, as he was casting his eye along 
the hall, he saw a robber, who had been given over to banishment from the island 
before. The king arose immediately, and went to the place where the robber 
was, and laid hold of him by the hair of his head to draw him over the table.** 
MS. Cleop. b. V. 

" Flor. Wig. 362. Hoveden, 423. It is said by Alur. Bev. HI. that the king 
wished to save his Dapifer from the hands of his enemies. Matt West narrates, 
that the king, seeing Leof, nodded to his cup-bearer, to turn him out Leof re- 
sisting, Edmund rushed in anger upon him, p. 366. 

»» Hist Rames. 389. 

^ Quo vulnere exanimatus fabule januam in omnem Angliam de interitu suo 
patefecit P. 54. 

2> Sed qua ratione vel a quo occisus fult usque ad prssens incertum habctur. 
Chron. p. 541. The MS. Saxon Chronicle has a passage on Edmund's death, not 
in the printed one, agreeing in the fact as stated by the authors quoted in note 1 6. 
''Tha psf pibe euth hu he hif basaf s^^^n^obe tha Liora hine srjTans ct 
Pulcan c5rpcaD. Tib. b. iv. Torfseus makes a Jatmund king of England to have 
been killed by one Owar-Oddi, In the third century. Hist. Norw. 1. vi. p. 72. It 
may be a traditional misplacement of this incident 






occur in the history of man, prove the truth of the ob- 
servation of our intelligent moralist, that " the usual 
character of human testimony is substantial truth ^^^ ^^^ 
under circumstantial variety." ^ 


*" Pftley'i View of the Evidences of Christianity, vol. ii. p. 289. 5th ed. 8vo. ; a 
work which ditplayi a highly-accompIlBhed and candid mind in the fuil exertion of 
its enli^tened eneigjci. 

o 2 




The Reign cf Edred. 

Edbed, who succeeded Edmund, was the third son of 
Edward, who had reigned after his father Alfred. As 
the preceding king, the elder brother of Edred, was but 
eighteen years of age when he acceded, Edred must 
have been less than twenty-three at his elevation. 
His reign was short. Disease produced to him that 
crisis which the arm of violence had occasioned to his 

The most remarkable circumstance of Edred's 
short reign was, the complete incorporation of North- 
umbria. It had been often conquered before. Its 
independence was now entirely annihilated. 

It has been mentioned, that Athelstan gave the 
Northumbrian crown to Eric, the son of Harald of Nor- 
way, who had been expelled his paternal inheritance, for 
his fratricides and cruelty. But peaceful dignity can 
have no charms except for the cultivated mind, the 
sensualist, or the timid. It is only a scene of apathy 
to those who have been accustomed to the violent 
agitations of barbarian life ; whose noblest hope has 
been an ample plunder; whose most pleasurable ex- 
citations have arisen from the exertion and the 
triumphs of war. Eric therefore still loved the acti- 
vity of depredation. The numerous friends with 
kindred feelings, who crowded to him from Norway, 
displeased or disappointed with the government of 
Haco, cherished his turbulent feelings ; and to feed, 
to employ, or to emulate them, he amused his summer 
months by pirating on Scotland, the Hebrides, Ire- 
land, and Wales. ^ In the reign of Edmund, per- 

' Snorre, Saga Hakonar Goda, c. iv. p. 128. 


ceiving that this king or his unquiet subjects desired ^^*^- 
a new regent, he hastened to his beloved ocean Edrwi. 
and its plunder. From the Orkneys he collected 945^ 
some companions. In the Hebrides he found many 
vikingr and sea-kings^, who joined their forces to aid 
his fortunes. He led them first to Ireland ; thence to 
Wales ; and, at last, reaching England, he plundered 
extensively. The Northumbrians again received him 
as their king^, and Eric became formidable to the 

It had happened that before this event, this people 
had sworn fidelity to Edred at Tad wine's Clifie.* 
Provoked by this rebellion, Edred assembled an army, 
and spread devastation over Northumbria. As he 
returned, the Northmen warily followed him from 
York, and at Casterford surprised and destroyed his 
rear-guard. Enraged at the disaster, the king stopped 
his retreat, and again sought Northumbria with aug- 
mented fury. Terrified at his power and its eff^ects, 
the people threw off Eric, and appeased Edred with 
great pecuniary sacrifices.^ 

But Eric was not to be discarded with impunity. 
He collected his forces, and gave battle to the re- 
volters. Snorre mentions Olafe as the friend of 
Edred.^ Simeon of Durham omits him, but notices 
his son Maccus.^ The Icelander states the battle to 
have lasted the whole day, and that Eric and five 
other kings, among whom he names Gothorm, and 
his sons Ivar and Harekr, probably sea-kings, pe- 

« Snorre, ibid. 

■ Flor. Wig. 352. He calls him Ircus. Saxon Chronlde rays. Trie, the son of 
Harold, p. 115. So Wallingford, 541. The Chronicle of Mailros also calls him 
Eiyric the son of Ilarold, p. 148. Ingulf names him Ilircius, p. 30. Simeon calls 
him Eiric, a Dane, 134. Matt West has Elric, p. 368. 

* Hoveden, 423. Flor. 352. The printed chronicle has nothing of this. The 
MS. Chronicle, Tib. b. iv. states it 

» Flor. Wig. 352, 353. Hoveden, 423. The MS. Saxon Chronicle, Tib. b. !▼., 
supplies on this incident the silence of the one printed, by a long passage, of which 
the paragraphs in Florence and Hoveden seem to be a translation. In the MS. 
Tib b. i. there is a blank from 946 to 956. 

• Hakonar Saga, p. 129. ' Simeon, 204, 

o 3 



BOOK rished ; Rognvalldr and others also fell.® Our chro- 
Ertred. Hicler, Matthew, admits such a catastrophe, but states 
that Osulf betrayed Eric, and that Maccus fraudu- 
lently killed him in a desert.^ 

Edred improved the moment by exerting all the 
power of conquest. He carried away in bonds the 
proudest nobles of the country, and overspread it 
with devastation ^^ ; he imprisoned Wulfstan, the tur- 
bulent archbishop ^^ ; he annexed Northumbria in- 
separably to his dominions; and to govern it the 
more easily, he partitioned it into baronies and coun- 
ties, over which he placed officers of his own ap- 
pointment.^^ Osulf, whose treachery had produced 
the destruction of Eric, was the first earl ; to whom 
in another reign Oslac was added.^^ 
955. In 955, Edred died ; but not worn out by old age, 

as some have dreamt.^* One expression has de- 
scended to us concerning him, dehilis pedibuSj weak in 
the feet.^^ We also learn from the writing of an 
author, almost, if not quite, his contemporary, that 
his indisposition, rather an ofiensive one, lasted all 

his reign ; and, by a gradual wasting, produced his 

* Snorre, 1 29. He em in placing the catastrophe under Edmund. 

* Matt West. 369. Sim. 204. Matthew says, «< that with Eric fell his son 
Henricus, and his brother Reginaldus. He perhaps means the Harekr and Rognvalldr 
of Snorre. Our writers mention no battle ; but this additional incident is hlgtily 
credible. Mailros calls Eric the last king of Northumbria, 148. 

^ Ingulf, 41. He adds a strong pictiure of Edred*8 invasion ; "Ensaque tota 
terra et in cineres redacta ita ut multis railliariis longo tempore sequent! sollltudo 

" Flor. 363. Matt. West 369. The MS, Chronicle, Tib. b. iv., is like the 
passage in Florence. 

w Wallingford, 541. » Mailros, 148. Sim. Dun. 204. 

" It is curious to read in Wallingford, p. 542., that old age greatly vexed Edred, 
and that multis Incommodls qus senes solent circumvenire ad extrema deduxit 
Among these evils of senility, he particularises the loss of teeth, debility, and the 
fluent cough, faroiliaris senibus. Tet this old roan could not have been much 
above thirty ; for he was under twenty-three at his accession, and he reigned nine 
years. The chronicler mistook the consequences of disease, for the natural effects 
of old age. 

^ It is Hermannus who has left us this trait His MS. is in the Cotton Library, 
Tib. b. ii. 

»• Vlto DunsUni, p. 76. MS. Cotton Library, Cleopatra, b. xlii 




The Reign of Edwin. 

Edwin ^, who has been usually called Edwy, the 
eldest son of Edmund the Elder, succeeded his uncle 
Edred, at the age of sixteen.^ 

It was his misfortune to live in one of those 
periods, which have frequently occurred in the his- 
tory of mankind, when new opinions and new systems 
are introduced into society, which essentially coun- 




> He is commonly called Edwy ; but the old authorities are numerous, which 
express his name to have been Edyrin. Of Chroniclers that have been printed, he is 
styled Edwin — by Ingulf, p. 41. ; by Alured of Beverly, p. 111.; by Simeon Dunelm* 
p. 135. ; by Wallingford, 541.; by Ethelridus Rievallensis, 359.; by Knyghton, 
2312.; by Hoveden, 425.; by Bromton, 863. ; by Malmsbury, 201. ; by the Ilist. 
Ramesiensis, 389. ; by Thorn, 2243. ; by Higden, 263. ; by Radulf de Diceto, 455. ; 
by Ann. Wav. and by the authors in L«land*s Collectanea, vol. i. pp. 241. 260. 304. 
and vol. liL p. 399. Rudbome says, £dwyi,8ive Edwini, p. 217. The unpublished 
MSS. in the Cotton Library, that I have seen, which name him Edwin, are also 
numerous. The Chronicles in Dom. A. xii. Pb 62. ; Dom. A. 3. ; Peter de Ickharo, 
p. 24. ; Yesp. E. iv. p. 1 10. ; Faustina, A. viii. p. 77. and b. vi. p. 66. ; Thomas de 
Elmham ; Claudius, E. iv. p. 54. ; Nero, A. vL p. 9. ; Yesp. b. xi. p. 1 . and 73. ; 
Cleop. b. xiii. p. 130. ; Yesp. A. xvi. p. 43. ; and Joh. Oxenedes, Nero, D. ii. p. 215. ; 
the Historiola OalUce, in Calig. A. ill. p. 19. ; also, the MS. in the King's Library, 
13. D. 1. ; so the Welsh Chron. Cleop. b. v. Boronius also calls him EdwinL 
But the Saxon Chronicle, 115.; Ethelwerd, 849. ; the Wilton Chartulary, and a 
coin (see it in Oough*s Camden, cxv.) have Eadwig. Matt. West, printed, has 
Edwios. A MS. of part of his book, erroneously entitled Oodefrid of Malmsbury, 
has Edwinus. Yesp. D. iv. p. 96. Edwin and Edwig have the same meaning ^ 
** prosperous in battle." His charter in Hist Abb. Claud, c. 9. is signed Edwi, others, 
Eadwi. On the whole, it appears to me, that Edwy, Edwin, and Edwig are the 
same name ; but as Edwy is apparently a familiar abbreviation, it cannot be entitled 
to a place in history any more than Willy or Harry : I have therefore inserted 
Edwin, which has most authorities in its favour. 

< For Edwin to have been sixteen at his accession, his father must have married 
at fifteen, because Edmund was eighteen in 941. This seems almost too early to 
be true ; and yet there is no alternative, for Edwin at his coronation appears to us 
also as married. It shows us, indeed, how early the Anglo-Saxons sometimes 
united — Edmund at fifteen ; his son Edwin at sixteen. If there be an error any 
where, it must be in Edmund's age at his accession, for that makes him and Edred 
to have been bom in the two last years of their father's reign ; yet Edmund's age 
is attested by Ingulf, Flor. Al. Bev. already quoted, and also by the Sax. Chron. 144. ; 
Sim. Dun. 155.; Malmsb. 53. ; and others. Eadgiva, the mother of Edwin and 
Edgar, left a will, which yet exists : in this she mentions Edwin, and she calls him 
a child. See it in the appendix to Lye's Saxon Dictionary. 

o 4 



B^*oK teract the subsistinor establishments. The ardour of 
Edvin. the discus??ions. and the opposition of interests and 
prejudices, inflame the mind and passions of the 
countrj'; cruelty and persecution, hatred and re- 
venge, usually accompany the conflict, and both the 
advocates for the revolution and its opponents become 
alike fanatical, ferocious, unjust, and implacable. 
The Bene- In the tenth centurv, a new relicfious discipline 

dictine * ' 

onier. was Spreading in Europe, which occasioned the mis- 
fortunes in the reign of Ed^-in. This was the Be- 
nedictine order of Monks — an order which, in the 
course of time, became celebrated in Europe beyond 
ever)^ other.^ 

It is a fact perpetually pressed upon the notice of 
the historian, that individuals often appear who seem 
to act at random, yet whose notions are destined to 
affect ages and nations. One of these was Benedict, 
an Italian, bom 480 \ whose peculiar associations of 
thought induced him to descend into a deep cavern 
in a desert, and to reside there for several years, 
kno>\'n only to a friend, who let down his provisions. 
His singularities attracted notice, and, being con- 
nected with a piety that seems to have been genuine, 
though enthusiastic, at last produced veneration. 
His admiring spectators were so numerous, that he 
was enabled to found many monasteries near him. 
He afterwards went to Mount Cassin, in the kingdom 
of Naples, destroyed some temples of idolatry which 
he found there, erected a monastery, and laid down 
a new series of rules for its governance.^ 

* It is not, however, safe to adopt implicitly the statement of Trithemlus, p. 238. 
tbouxh Baronius follows it This enumerates eighteen popes, above 200 cardinals, 
1600 archbishops, about 4000 bishops, 15,700 abbots, and 15,600 saints, to have 
been of the order before his time, who was bom 1462. 

* Dupfn, vol. it p. 45. sixth century. Fab. Bib. Med. 1 . p. 533. 

* The rule i« in the Bibliotheca Magna Patrum, vol. xv. p. 690. There are 
also some Anglo-Saxon translations of it in the Cotton Library ; and one exposition 
of it by Dunstan, with his picture. Bib. Reg. 10. A. 13. An Interesting account of 
Montc-C'asflino and its convent will be found In Mr. Keppcl Craven's ** Excursions 
In the Abruaxi." 


Benedict died about 643.^ Soon afterwards the ^^^• 
Lombards destroyed his monastery at Mount Cassin. Edwin. 
The monks fled to pope Pelagius, who, by giving ""^ • ' 
them an asylum, kept alive an institution destined to 
overspread the West. 

The memory of Benedict was preserved, and pecu- 
liarly honoured by the famous pope Gregory, who 
admired his regulations, and devoted one book of 
dialogues to record his supposed miracles^ By the 
influence of the third Gregory, who died 742, the 
monastery at Mount Cassin was rebuilt, and this 
new construction first began the establishment of its 
fame. Zachary, the following pope, sent them the 
MS. rule of Benedict, and gave them, as a mark of 
his favour, the important and attractive privilege of 
being under no bishop, and no jurisdiction, but that 
of the pope.^ 

The Benedictine rule began now to diffuse itself 
beyond Italy. Boniface, the Anglo-Saxon missionary 
to Germany, built a Benedictine monastery in Fulda, 
which the Pope sanctioned, and which Pepin ex- 
empted from all ecclesiastical jurisdiction, but the 
papal. ^ Boniface describes his monks as men of strict 
abstinence, who used neither flesh, wine, nor strong 
drink, nor servants, but who were contented with 
the produce of their own labour.^^ He interested 
Carloman so much in his favour, that in his reign 
the clergy of Gaul were urged to patronise it.^^ 

The order increased, though slowly, till the be- 
ginning of the tenth century. Berno, preferring it to 

' Fabricios mentions that others talk of 542, and 547. 

' Gregory's Dial. lib. ii. Gregory characterises his rule as, discretione praecipuam» 
serraone luculentaro. Dial. p. 275. 

* See Marsham's npoirvXiovo, prefixed to Dugdale's Monasticon, vol. i. 

* See the letters of Boniface and Zachary, 16. Mag. Bib. Pat 115. and of 
Pepin, p. 121. Our countryman describes the place thus: ** £8t pratterea locus 
sylvaticus in ereroo vastisslmie solitudinis." Ibid. 115. 

»• Bonif. ibid. 

" See the two councils held in 742, in Bib. Mag. Fftt pp. 84, 85. 


BOOK Other monastic rules, introduced it at Clugny in 9 10. 

Edwin. One of his pupils was Odo, who succeeded him, and 

" who seconded his partiality to this order; added 

something to its regulations, and endeavoured to 

introduce it at Fleury, whither the body of Benedict 

had been transported from Cassin.^^ 

Fleury having been plundered by the Normans, 
the monks who returned to it were living irregularly 
when Odo began his attempt. They opposed him at 
first even with weapons. His eloquence or sagacity 
so changed their feelings, that before his death, in 
994, it was so firmly established at Fleury, that this 
place became the chief seminary from which it was 
difi*used through the West. 

Its success as an instrument of discipline ; the 
sanctified celebrity of its author; the necessity of 
some reformation among the monks and clergy, and 
the novelty of this, gave it a sudden and extending 
popularity. Fleury became famous for its superior 
discipline and virtues, and its monks were sent for 
to other places, to reform and to regulate them. 
Thus it perpetually happens in human life, that new 
plans become popular, and spread far beyond their 
intrinsic merit, because they happen to soothe some 
momentary feeling, promote some meditated interest, 
or supply an existing deficiency. In the present 
case, it seems, that the Benedictine discipline, how- 
ever objectionable it may appear to us, was the best 
form of monastic life which had then been conceived ; 
and was therefore wisely adopted by those who 
valued monastic institutions. Hence the spirit of 
improvement at the same time passed also into Flan- 
ders, and eighteen monasteries there were reformed 
by the exertions of abbot Gerard. 

The monastery of Fleury was eagerly encouraging 

^ Blanbam abi sup. There is a MS. of one of Odo's works. Bib. Reg. 6. 


the rule, when Odo, an ecclesiastic in England, was chap. 
offered the see of Canterbury. He was the son of Edwin, 
one of those ferocious Northmen who had infested " 
England under Ingwar and Ubbo.^^ He had been 
himself a soldier in the first part of life, in the reign 
of Edward ^S and he quitted the mUitary profession 
to assume the ecclesiastic. He attended Athelstan 
in the battle of Brunanburh ; and, as other bishops 
often combated at that time, and as it is confessed 
that he knew immediately of the king's sword break- 
ing in the conflict, and supplied the loss, it is pro- 
bable that he partook of the fray^^, though his 
encomiasts talk only of his prayers. These circum- 
stances may be worth noticing, as they explain that 
stem severity of temper which was so unhappily 
exerted against Edwin and Elgiva. He was raised 
through other gradations to the primacy of England. 

When Odo was offered the see of Canterbury, he 
was unwilling to accept it, from his enthusiastic zeal 
for the new system, until he had become a monk; 
and he selected Fleury as the place wherein he chose 
to make his profession.^^ 

Odo came to his metropolitan dignity a decisive 
friend, and an aspiring patron, of the Benedictine 
order, from its superior piety and judicious discipline : 
but though high in favour with several sovereigns, 
he made no effort to compel the English to adopt the 
reform of Fleury. A letter of his to the clergy of 
the country, exhorting them to discharge their duty 
with zealous care, yet exists ^^ ; but it does not even . 
mention the Benedictine system. 

** Malmsb. 200. Osberne, 2 Ang. Sax. p. 79. 

" Malmsb. 200. Matt. West 369.* 

^ Though councils and kings expressly forbad ecclesiastics to mix in battle, (see 
pope Zachary*s letter to the bishops, 16 Mag. Bib. Pat pp. 110 — 116. and Boni- 
&ce, ibid. p. 106.) yet it was very frequent at this time, and afterwards, till the 

>* Chron. Petrib. 26. MalmsK 200. 

" See it in Malmsb. de Pont p. 200. Its flnt phme is tn unfortunate attempt 





'— V 

Life of 

The man whose more active mind roused England 
to establish the new discipline among its clergy was 
DuNSTAX, a character formed by nature to act a dis- 
tinguished part in the varied theatre of life.^® The 
following review of his life is made with a desire to 
be just towards him, without abandoning the right 
of free judgment on his actions, and of fair inference 
as to the principles by which they were directed. 

He was born in 925.^^ His parents were Heorstan 
and Cynethryth ^^, who seem to have lived near Glas- 
tonbury.^^ He frequently visited the old British 
church there.^- It is said that he had here a vision 
of his future greatness, and that a venerable phantom 
pointed out the place where he was to build a superb 

•t eloquent latinity. " MirablU cunctl potentis pnesulis polofura dementia opltu- 
Umte, Ego Odo," Sec Another sentence expivsites something of his temper, ** Spiri- 
tuali charitate, etiam eomitaiu$ ri^ore,** There is another letter of his in Wharton*t 
Anglia Sacra, vol. ii. p. 50. 

** There are several lives of Dunstan extant. One written by Osbeme, who 
flourished about the year 1070. See it in AVharton*8 Anglia Sacra, vol. ii p. bS. 
One also by Eadmer, p. 211. There are two ancient ones in the Cotton Library. 
One, Nero, C. 7., was written by Adalardus Blandiniensis Monachus, in the tenth 
century, or in the beginning of the eleventh, addressed to Elphegus, the archbishop 
of Canterbury, and composed at his request But the author says, ** Scias autem 
in opere isto hystoriam vits ^us non contineri sed ex eadem vita quasi brevem 
sermonis versiculum," &c This life is full of miracles and panegyric, with 
scarcely any biographical notices. The most curious and ancient life of Dunstan 
is in the same library, Cleopatra, B. 13. It was written by a person who was his 
contemporary, or nearly so. For, speaking of an incident in his monastery, he 
says, it happened when all the monks were absent, except Dunstan, parvoque scho- 
lastico qui postea Pontifex eflRectus hvc nobis intimavit. It has plenty of flattery 
and wonder, but It contains some curious traits of biography, which enable us to 
sketch his mind. Matthew of Westminster, Malmsbury, and Osbeme, have taken 
many things from it. It seems to be the one mentioned by Wharton, with the 
name of Bridferth ; and so printed in the Acta Sanctorum. 

** In the year of Athelstan's accession, which some place 924, and some 925. 
Bfatt West 360. 

• MSS. Cleop. R 13. Adelard, in Nero, C. 7., is so impatient to get at hia 
miracles, that he annexes one to Dunstan before he was bom. 

" Erat autem regalis in conflnio ^usdem praefati viri insula antiquo vicinonim 
▼ocabulo Glastonia nuncupata. MSS. Cleop. B. 13. This life of Dunstan had 
been read by Malmsbury, for he quotes this passage fh)m it ; and says, he saw the 
book at St Augustin*s in Canterbury, and at another place. De Ant Olast p. 293. 
The MS. in the Cotton Library is probably the identical book which our Malms- 
bnry saw ; for Joscelin has written upon it, that in August, 1565, he found it among 
j'Cttm old MSS. at the Augustine monastery at Canterbury. Usher has added a 
making the same inference. 

" The author*s phrase is, that the first Neophytes found there an old church 
Ml bunt with human hands. I translate his words to mean, that the Anglo- 
found one there ready built, and of course by the Britons. 


monastery.^ Ambitious talents, meditating much chap. 
on the honours they covet, may experience sometimes j^^n 
such illusions amid the nightly chimeras of the re- ' » '** 
posing though disturbed imagination. 

His parents encouraged him to study, and his 
penetrating abilities enabled him to excel his com- 
panions, and to run with easy rapidity through the 
course of his studies.^^ 

A fever interrupted his advancement, and all the 
horrors of a temporary frenzy ensued, accompanied 
with that debility which in this disease sometimes 
announces the departure of life, and sometimes a 
crisis which is to end in convalescence. In this state 
a sudden access of delirium came on. He leapt from 
his bed, eluded his nurse, and seizing a stick which 
was near him, he ran over the neighbouring plains 
and mountains, fancying that wild dogs were pursuing 
him. His wanderings led him towards night near the 
church. Workmen during the day had been mend- 
ing the roof. Dunstan ran wildly up their scaffold, 
roamed over the top, and with that casual felicity 
which frenzy sometimes experiences, got uncon- 
sciously to the bottom of the church, where a heavy 
sleep concluded his delirious excursion.^^ He waked 
with returned intellect, and was surprised at his new 
situation. As the church-doors had not been opened, 
both he and the attendants of the place wondered 
how he got there.^^ 

» MSS. Cleop. 

*• Adelard calls him, indole acerrimus. Nero, C. 7. The MS. deop. B. 13. says, 
coetaneos quosque pnecellerat et suorum tempora studlonim facili cursu transillret 

» This is the statement in the MS. Cleop. B. 13., which I think to be peculiarly 
valuable, because it shows us the simple and natural truth of an incident which 
the future biographers of Dunstan have converted into an elaborate and ridiculous 
miracle. It gives a good specimen how monastic fancy, by its peculiar machinery, 
has transformed natural incidents into celestial achievements. When reflection 
sobers the mind of Achilles, it is Pallas who descends to whisper in his ear ; when 
Dunstan runs over a church in a delirium, angels are called down to protect him 
fh)m the devil, to burst the roof, and to place him safely on the pavement 

" This ancient life gives to this event none of those appendages of angels and 
devils, which credulity afterwards added. After mentioning his sleep, it merely 


BOOK His parents obtained for him an introduction into 

Edwin, the ecclesiastical establishment at Glastonbury. He 

* continued his studious applications, and there is no 

reason to disbelieve the statement, that his conduct 

at this time was moral and religious. ^ 

Some Irish ecclesiastics had settled at Glaston- 
bury, and were teaching the liberal studies to the 
children of the nobility. Dunstan attached himself 
to their instructions, and diligently explored their 

The first part of his life was a laborious cultivation 
of mind, and he seems to have attained all the know- 
lege to which it was possible for him to gain access. 
He mastered such of the mathematical sciences as 
were then taught ; he excelled in music ; he accom- 
plished himself in writing, painting, and engraving ; 
he acquired also the manual skill of working in gold 
and silver, and even copper and iron.^^ These arts 
had not at that day reached any pre-eminent merit, 
but it was uncommon that a man should practise 
himself in aU. To have excelled his contemporaries 
in mental pursuits, in the fine arts, as far as they 
were then practised, and in mechanical labours, is 
evidence of an activity of intellect, and of an ardour 

uyt, ** Exsurgens autem post momenti Bpatimn ammirari admodum una com cus- 
todibui Gcperat, quo pacto, quove ingenio introierat, cernens etiam quod tempi! 
ostium clausum munitumque extiterat.** MS. Cleop. Its next phrase, that Dun- 
stan acknowledged the hand of Providence in his preservation, merely expresses hit 
pious feelings. It does not invest it with the miraculous colouring of later writen. 
The wonderful was, however, soon added, for we find it in Adelard ; and yet even 
his statement reveals the truth, and shows that the falsehood was the creature of 
ignorance. ** Ubi mane inventus cum consulerater qualiter llle incolumls adveniret, 
qui sero pene contiguus morti exterius erat relictus, hoc te ipnorare, rupomdit et 
rumorem miraculi graia ignorantia auxit" Adelard, MSS. Nero, C 7. 

^ MSS. aeop. B. 13. 

" Osbeme Vita Dunstani, p. 92. MS. Cleop. B. 13. 

* Osbeme, 93, 94. His attainments are thus enumerated in the MS. Cleop. 
R 13. : *• Hie itaque inter sacra litterarum studia — artem scribendi nee ne dtha- 
rixandi pariterque pingendi peritiam diligenter excoluit,atque ut ita dicam, omnium 
rerum utensilium vigil inspector fiilsit'* This MS. mentions a particular instance 
of his painting and embroidery : <• Quandam stolam diversis formularum scematibos 
perpingeret quam postea posset auro gemmlsque variando pompare.'* It also roen- 
tloos, that he took with him ex more cytharam suamquam, lingua patema, ii«ay7NMi 


for improvement, which, under a better direction of chap. 


their energies, might have advanced the progression ja^, 
of the social world. 

When his age admitted, he commenced his career 
of public life as a courtier. Some relation intro- 
duced him into the royal palace, and his musical 
talents interested and often recreated the king.^ 

No circumstance can more impressively attest the 
superiority of Dunstan's attainments, than his having 
been accused, while at court, of demoniacal arts.^^ 
Such charges give demonstration of the talents and 
knowlege of the person so accused. In the very 
same century another man of eminence suflfered 
under a similar imputation, because he had made a 
sphere, invented clocks, and attempted a telescope.^^ 
The charge of magic was of all others the most de- 
structive, because the most difficult to repel. Every 
exertion of superior intellect in defence was mis- 
construed to be preternatural, and confirmed the 

His enemies were successful. The king was in- 
fluenced against him, and Dunstan was driven £rom 
court ^; — from that Eden of his hopes, where, like 
another Wolsey, he was planning to be naturalised. 

His courtly rivals were not content with his dis- 
grace : they insulted as well as supplanted him ; they 

** Adelard says, <'De Glestonia egressus Arcbo Dorobemeusi Adelmo patruo 
scilicet suo se junxit et cohabltare csepit — in palatio cum pneseutavit et regi 
Atbelstano — magno affectu commendavit.'* Nero, C. 7. Osbeme implies tbe 
same, p. 94. But I tbink tbe king sbould be Edmund. Tbe MS. Cleop. R 13. 
mentions bis living in Edmimd's palace, wbere plans were formed against blm. 

** Asserentes ilium malls artibus imbutum, nee quicquam divino auxilio sed 
plaeraque dsmonum pra^tigio operari, Osb. 95. Tbe MS. Cleop. B. 13. tbus ex- 
presses it : ** Dicentes, [eum ex libris salutaribus et viris peritis non saluti animse 
profiitura sed avits gentUitatls vanissima didicisse carmina et bistriarum colere 

" Tbis was Gerbert, wbo became arcbbisbop of Rbeims and of Bavenna ; and in 
999 was made pope, under tbe name of Sylvester IL •* He bad learned tbe 
matbematics in Spain : bis knowlege made bim pass for a magician, and gave rise 
to tbe fable of bis being promoted to tbe papal cbair by a contract wbicb be made 
witb tbe devil." Dupin. 10 cen. p. 44. ; and see Matt West 348., and Malmtb. 66. 

*" MS. Cleop. R 13. 


BOOK pursued and threw him into a miry marsh. He ex- 
Edwin, tricated himself on their retreat, and reached a 
' friend's house about a mile distant.^ 

Thus far Dunstan appears neither unamiable nor 
uninteresting. Youthful ambition is the parent of 
much excellence; while subordinate to reason and 
duty it is an honourable energy in the spring-time of 
life, when the buds of expectation are incessantly 
shooting. Dunstan's pursuit of distinction, though 
perhaps questionable as to its prudence, was no im- 
moral impulse. His means were the most honour- 
able he could employ — the cultivation of his mind, 
the increase of his knowlege, and the fair exertion of 
his beneficial acquisitions. 

To be checked in the first madness of our juvenile 
ambition, may often introduce the invaluable trea- 
sures of moderate wishes, moral prudence, and be- 
coming humility. There is no evidence that the 
eflFects of Dunstan's disgrace were at first any other. 
He was repelled from the paths of political greatness, 
and he submitted to the necessity ; he turned his eye 
from the proud but tempestuous mountains of life 
to its lowly but pleasant vales, where happiness loves 
to abide, the companion of the industrious, the con- 
tented, and the good. After he left the court, he 
formed an attachment to a maiden whom he wished 
to marry.3^ 

It is with regret we read that such honourable im- 
pressions were deemed to be diabolical suggestions 
by the relations and biographers of Dunstan. The 
bishop jElfheag, his relation, opposed them. At- 

»• MS. Cleop. 

* It is the MS. Cleop. which informs us of this curious circumstance. It says, 
the devil primum enim mullerum illi injecit amorem, quo per familiares earum 
mmplexus mundanis oblectamcntis frueretur. Intcrea propinquus ipsius ^If heagus, 
cognomine Calvus, prKsulque fldelis, petitionibus multis et spiritualibus monitis eum 
rogavit ut fleret monachus. Quod ille instinctu priefati firaudatoris renuntians, 
maluit tpotaart juvenculam, cujus cotidie blanditiis foveretur, quam more mona- 
cborum bidentinis indui pannicuUs. 


tached by his own taste and habits to the ecclesi- chap. 
astical order, he conjured him to become a monk, a j.:,|^,n 
character then much venerated, and, notwithstanding ^ * ' 
its superstitions, allied to many virtues. 

Dunstan was at first insensible to his oratory. 
He replied to ^Ifheag's reasoning, that the man 
who lived from choice regularly in the world, was of 
greater excellence than he who, having entered a 
monastery, could not avoid doing what his order en- 
joined. The man in the world displays moral free- 
dom and voluntary rectitude; the monk was a creature 
of compulsion and necessity. ^Elfheag opposed the 
discriminating remark, by arguing on the future 
punishment, on the importance of extinguishing the 
fire of passion, and of avoiding its incitements by 
withdrawing from the world.^^ Dunstan still re- 
sisted ; his relation continued to importune liim. 

These unfortunate entreaties disturbed the mind 
of Dunstan. He became agitated by a tumult of 
contending passions. With the monastic habit were 
connected all the internal enjoyments of piety to 
those who valued them, and to those who were less 
devout it gave a release from the dread of futurity, 
the reputation and the means of peculiar sanctity, 
and an impressive empire over the minds of men. 
But it exacted a renunciation of the charms of 
mutual affection, of the delights of a growing family, 
and of those numerous gratifications with which 
social life in every age abounds. His health was 
unequal to the conflict : a dangerous disease attacked 
him^^ before he could decide, and his life was de- 
spaired of. He lay without a prospect of recovery, 
and so senseless that the pulse of life seemed to have 
ceased : at last it slowly returned, and life renewed 
in gradual convalescence. But he rose from the bed 

" Osbeme, 95. 

"^ MS. Cleop. And lee Osberae's statement, p. 96, 


210 HETOKT or THE 

■w« of sickDess frith an altered mind. 



the flatterinr: vorld. assnined 
and coDdemned himself to 

But to rive new directions to our fediogs, by the 
violence of terror, is to produce change* of thcmght 
and action, neither salutaiy to our moral priwapes, 
nor calculable in their oonseqnences. Duustan, whik 
ardent with jassions not dishonourable in youth, vas 
driven forcibly from civil honours, and was afte- 
wards excluded from social life. In obeaiencc w 
duty, fear, importunity, and some new impresacHis, 
but' in direct contradiction to his own earlier wishes 
and prospects, he became a monk. Does the moesr 
sant experience of human nature teach us to expect 
that an amiable, lienevolent, or virtuous character 
would result from these compulsions ? Checked m 
our dearest, and not immoral propensities,^ are we 
never soured by the disappointment, never irritated 
by the injustice? Driven by violence into the 
schemes of others, will not individuals of strong feel- 
ings become artificial characters? harshly coerced 
themselves, will they not be indurated towards 
others ? Is not selfishness^^ with all its power of 
mischief, most likely to become afterwards the ruling 
principle ? It is, indeed, true, that exalted virtue 
will rise superior to every temptation to misanthropy 
and vice. Many are the glorious minds who have 
withstood the fiery trial; and whoever loves virtue 
as he ought ^vill pursue it, unaffected by the follies 
of man, or the accidents of life. Many, however, 
fall the victims of their vicissitudes; and the re- 
mainder of Dunstan's life will best show how far he 
was of the number. 

■ M8. flcop. B. 13. Osberae, 96. Mr. Llngard talks of the « anile eredmlity** 
of (MxTne. If in epithets are just ; but how can he apply them ftiriy to Osberne, 
and not extern! them to all, or nearly all, the legends of his church which crowd 
thu hundred volumes of the Acta Sanctorum of the BoUandisto ? Is Osberne more 
■nil* ttian almost ■!! the writers of the Catholic Haglography ? 


The predominant features in Dunstan's character, chap. 
in addition to strong religious impressions, were Edwin, 
energy and ambition. The path of life to which he 
was forced did not extinguish these tendencies, though 
it may have added peculiarity and severity. His 
superior mind and all its acquisitions still remained : 
but it was necessary that all its peculiarities should 
thereafter be displayed in the language, garb, and 
manners of a monk. The aspiring soldier seeks dis- 
tinction in the field of battle by excelling in courage : 
the ambitious recluse pursues the phantom in his 
lonely cell, by extraordinary penances, and a supe- 
rior superstition. Dunstan had now only this way 
to fame ; and from his future actions we infer that 
he pursued it with an earnestness which every year 
became more separated from moral principle, and 
which at last poisoned his mind and injured his con- 
temporaries, but gratified his passion. 

He made with his own hands a subterraneous cave 
or cell, so unlike any thing of the sort, that his bio- 
grapher, who had seen it, knew not what to call it.^^ 
It was more like a grave than a human habitation. 
Cells were commonly dug in an eminence, or raised 
from the earth : this was the earth itself excavated. 
It was five feet long and two and a half wide. Its 
height was the stature of a man standing in the ex- 
cavation. Its only wall was its door, which covered 
the whole, and in this was a small aperture to admit 
light and air.^^ 

* Non enim invenio qua id appellatione quam proxime voccm ; cum non tain 
humani habitaculi quam formam gerat sepulchri, propriis luboribus fabricavlt. 
Osberae, 96. 

^ Osberne, 96. This author*s additional exclamation is worth translating, for 
its singularity : " Wretch and sinner as I am ; I confess that I have seen this holy 
place of his residence. I have seen the works of his hands. I have touched them 
with sinful hands, have brought them to my eyes, watered them with my tears, 
and adored them with bended knees. I remembered how often he has heard my 
petitions in my perils, and therefore I did not refrain my tears ; nor if I could 
have avoided it, would I have left the place.** Ibid. 

p 2 


BOOK Do not such singularities as these reveal either an 

VL • • • . . • /• 

Edwin, inflamed imagination in the sincere, or a crafty am- 
bition in the hypocritical ? Genuine piety is modest, 
private, and unaflFected. Piety, when assumed as a 
mask to cover or to assist inordinate ambition, or 
connected with a disordered fancy, labours to be 
ostentatious, absurd, extravagant, and frantically 
superstitious. If Dunstan's mind had been of weak 
texture, the selection of such a cell might be referred 
to its imperfections ; but in a man of his talents, it 
is more likely to have been the deliberate choice of 
his secret policy. 

One of the legendary tales which has been used to 
exalt his fame shows, if it ever happened, the arts by 
which he gained it. Dunstan carried to his sepul- 
chral cell a fragment of his former disposition. He 
exercised himself in working on metals. One night 
all the neighbourhood was alarmed by the most ter- 
rific bowlings, which seemed to issue from his abode. 
In the morning they flocked to him to inquire the 
cause ; he told them that the Devil had intruded his 
head into his window to tempt him while he was 
heating his work ; that he had seized him by the nose 
with his red hot tongs, and that the noise was Satan's 
roaring at the pain.*^ The simple people are stated 
to have venerated the recluse for this amazing ex- 
ploit. They forgot to recollect tnat he might him- 
self have made the clamour, to extort their morning 
wonder at his fabricated tale. 

All ages and ranks united to spread his fame^, 
and a substantial benefit soon accrued. A noble 
lady, Ethelfleda, of royal descent, who was passing 
a quiet life of wdowhood, was attracted into his 
vicinity, was charmed by his conversation, and re- 
ligiously loved him. She introduced him to the 

« Osberne, 96, 97. « Ibid. 97. 


king, who visited her; and, what gave him imme- cbkt. 
diately an importance of the most interesting nature, Edwm. 
she left him at her death, which happened soon ' 
afterwards, the heir of all her wealth.^ It is stated 
that he distributed his acquisitions among the poor, 

Dunstan's reputation and connection made him 
known to Edmund, who invited him to court.^ He 
eagerly obeyed. The prospects of his youth began 
to shine again; but he beheld them with very dif- 
ferent feelings. The world, and all its pleasures, 
would then have been his harvest ; but now the 
peculiar path of monastic life was that which he had 
to tread. 

At court, though he had many friends, he had 
also many enemies. He surmounted, however, all 
opposition ; for the chancellor Turketul supported 
him*^, and the first step of his future aggrandise- 
ment was laid by the acquisition of the monastery of 
Glastonbury, to which he was appointed abbot by the 

The Benedictine order being now, from its real 
merits, so popular in Europe, Dunstan introduced it 
into his monastery ^^, and made himself its most 
active patron. 

The new abbot gained so rapidly upon the pre- 
judices of his age, that his youth was no impediment 
to his aggrandisement. If the year of his birth is 
truly stated^, he could only be twenty-two at the 
accession of Edred, and thirty-one at his demise; 
yet before Edred's coronation, he was made abbot of 

« MS. aeop. B. 13. Osberae, 97. 

♦* Ibid, 99. « Ingulf, 38. 

^ MS. Cleop. This says, that the king took him to Glastonbury, et apprehensa 
ejus dextra causa placationis seu etiam dignitatis osculat*is est ilium. And see 
Adelard, Nero, C. 7. 

*^ MS. Cleop. MS. Nero; and Osbeme. Ingulf says, that Dunstan went to 
Fleury, to be initiated, p. 29. Dunstan's expoaitio of the rule of Benedict, with 
his portrait, is in the British Museum. MSS. Bib. Reg. 10. A. 13. 

* That he was bom in the year of Athelstan's accession, is declared by Sax« 
Chron. 111.; Flor.d48. ; Hoveden, 422. ; Osb. 90. 

p 3 


BOOK Glastonbury, and he was afterwards chosen by Edred 

Edwin, for his confidential friend and counsellor. To him, 

*■""* ' this king sent all his choicest treasures, and those 

amassed by the preceding sovereigns, to be kept in 

his monastery under his inspection.*^ 

From the next incident the policy of Dunstan 
seems to have been foreseeing and refined. The see 
of Winchester was offered to him by the king ; but 
he refused it, on the pretence of unfitness. The king 
entreated his mother to invite him to dinner, and to 
add her persuasions ; but Dunstan declared he could 
not leave the king, and would not, in his days, even 
accept the metropolitan honour. ^^ 

He went home. In the morning he told the king 
he had seen a vision, in which Saint Peter struck 
him, and said, " This is your punishment for your 
refusal, and a token to you not to decline hereafter 
the primacy of England." The king saw not the art 
of hisfriend, but interpreting the vision to his wishes, 
declared that it foretold he was to be the archbishop 
of Canterbury .^^ 

From an impartial consideration of all these cir- 
cumstances, will it be injustice to the memory of 
Dunstan to infer, that, as by his refusal of the dig- 
nity of Winchester, by the communication of this 
vision, and from its result, he acquired the credit of 
humility, of a divine communication, and a royal 
prediction of the highest grandeur to which he could 
attain, he had these objects in previous contemplation? 
If not, the coincidence and complexion of the inci- 
dents are unlike the usual course of accidental things. 
It need only be added, that Odo, who then governed 
the see of Canterbury, was very old. 

Edred, who had been ailing all his reign, felt an 
alarming crisis to be approaching, and desired his 

• MS. (Hoop. B. 13. *» MS. Clcop. B. 13. ; Adelard; NefX)» C. 7. 

" Osbcrnc, 103. Adelard. 


treasures to be collected, that he might dispose of 
them before he died. Dunstan went to bring those 
entrusted to him. Edred expired before he returned ; 
and the monk was either credulous or bold enough to 
assert, and the Anglo-Saxons were weak enough to 
believe, that on the road an ethereal voice had, in 
thunder, announced to him the royal demise.^^ 

The immature age of Edwin was tempting to a 
man of ambitious politics. A minor's reign is a 
favourable opportunity, which has never been ne- 
glected by those who covet power. The royal temper 
once subdued into obedience to any one, the govern- 
ment of England would be in that person's hands. 
We cannot penetrate into the motives of Dimstan's 
heart ; but if the ordinary spirit of the aspiring states- 
man prevailed in his breast above the purer objects 
of the saint, it is not improbable that projects of this 
sort had impressed his imagination, or why should he 
have attempted to coerce the king, so early as the 
day of his coronation ? 

On this day, Edwin, after the ceremony, quitted 
the festive table at which the chief nobles and clergy 
were regaling ^^, and retired to his apartments. Odo, 
who saw that the company were displeased, ordered 
some persons to go and bring back the king to par- 
take of their conviviality.^^ The persons addressed 
excused themselves ; but at last they chose two who 
were known to be the most intrepid — Dunstan, and 

" MS. Cleop. ; Adelard ; Nero. 

" The earliest account of this Incident is first entitled to notice ; it Is in the 
life of Dunstan, Cleop. B. 13. '* Post regale sacne instltutionis unguentum repente 
prosiluit lascivus linquens k^a eonvivia.** Malmshury wishes to intimate that 
affkirs of business were debating when the king retired, p. 55. But the other 
authorities agree in stating, that they were at table. Matt West says, Leta re- 
linquit convivia, p. 369. (>sbeme has jam pransus ; and Walllngford declares that 
they were at their cups, quibus Angli nimls sunt assueti, p. 542. 

** Et cum vidisset summus pontiflcum Odo regis petulantiam maxlme in conse- 
crationis sus die omni per gyrum considenti senatui displicere, ait coepiscopis 8ui# 
et cactcris principibus. ** Eant qua»o quilibet ex vobls ad reducendum regem quo 
sit, ut conducet in hoc regali convivio suorum satellitom jocundus concessor. 
MSS. Cleop. 

p 4 






liis relation Cynesius, a bishop — who were to bring 
back the king, either willingly or otherwise, to his 
deserted seat.^^ 

Dunstan and his friend, careless of the conse- 
quences, penetrated to the king's private apartments. 
He found him in company with Ethelgiva, or Elgiva, 
his wife ; but who being within the prohibited de- 
grees of affinity, is ranked, by the monastic writers, 
as his mistress.^^ The mother of the lady was also 
present. ^^ That in a visit to the beloved of his heart, 
the king should have lain aside the pomp of majesty, 
or have* caressed her, are circumstances so natural, 
that we cannot but wonder at the temper which has 
so emphatically described, that the royal crown was 
on the ground ^^, or that the king was toying with 
her when Dunstan entered. He exhorted the king 
not to disdain to be present among his nobles at the 
festivities of the day.^^ 

** Ad cxtremum vero eligerunt ex omnibus duos quos animo constantissimos 
noverant, Dunstanum, scilicet abbatum et Cyncsium cpiscopum ^us consanguineum, 
ut omnium jussui obtemperantes, regem volentem vel nolentem reducerent ad re- 
Hctam sedem. M8S. Cleop. On contrasting this account with the chroniclen, 
some variations of the circumstances occur, ^fhich is a very common accident to a 
popular story, narrated in a distant age. It seems safest to prefer the earliest 
account, ^fhen it carries the marks of internal probability. 

" Malmsbury, 66. ; Illst Rames, 390. ; and Wallingford, 643. ; speak of her u 
married to Edwin, but as his relation. A charter in the Hist. Abbend. MSS. Claud, 
c. ix. states the same fact. " Testes autcm fuerunt hi^jus commutationis .Slfgira 
regii uxor et iEthelgifa mater ejus, p. 11 2. llad this charter been even forged, 
the monks would have taken care that the names appended were correct. The 
author of the MSS. Cieop. obviously intimates the marriage, though he affixes a 
doubt whether the wife was the mother or the daughter. His words are, " quo 
sese vel etiam natam auam sub conjupali titulo illi innectendo sociaret*' MS. The 
sentence on the divorce of Edwin in the MS. Chronicle, quoted in note 63., implies 
also the fact of the marriage. It seems to mc to be sufficiently clear, that when 
the monkish annalists called the lady his mistress, they do not mean to deny her 
actual, but her legitimate marriage. Deeming the marriage unlawful trom their 
relationship, they con<}idered her only as his mistress. 

»' MSS. Cleop. B. 13. ; Matt West. 369. ; and Osl)eme. 106., state this Im- 
portant fact. Their indecent additions of Edwin's behaviour to both mother and 
daughter in each other's presence are incredible, and, if true, could not at all coik 
tribute to the jusUflcation of Dunstan's and Odo's conduct. Nor can I believe, 
with Mr. Lingard, that »• moderate readers will feel inclined to applaud the promp- 
titude with which he taught his pupil to respect the laws of decorum," by invading 
^is sovereign's privacy and insulting Elgiva. 

" By this contemporary author of the MS. aeop. the crown is thus described : 
Quaj miro mctallo auri vel argenti gemmarum que vario nitore couserta splendebat. 

•• Et ne spernas optlmatum tnorum Istis interesse convivus. MSS. Cleop. 



Whether Edwin disliked the drunkenness of an chap. 
Anglo-Saxon festival, or whether he preferred the Edidn. 
society of his Elgiva, it must be admitted that his 
retirement was indecorous according to the customs 
of the age. That Dunstan, as the ambassador of the 
nobles, should solicit the king's return, was not im- 
proper, though it seems rather a forward and disre- 
spectful action to have forced himself into his private 
apartments. But with the delivery of their message, 
his commission must have terminated ; and, on the 
king's refusal, it was his duty to have retired. As 
an ecclesiastic, he should not have compelled him to 
a scene of inebriety ; as a subject, it was treasonable 
to offer violence to his prince. 

But Dunstan chose to forget both Edwin's rights 
as a man, and his dignity as a sovereign. As if he 
had embraced the opportunity of breaking the royal 
spirit of independence, by a violent insult, he poured 
out his invectives against the ladies ; and because the 
king would not leave his seat, he pulled him from it ; 
he forced the diadem on his head, and indecently 
dragged him to the riotous hall.^^ To the most pri* 
vate individual this insolence would have been unau- 
thorised. To his sovereign, just consecrated, it was 
unpardonable. Elgiva reproached the monk for in- 
truding so daringly on the king's retirement ^^ ; and 
Dunstan, after the festival, thought proper to return 
to his abbey. 

Dunstan had acted impetuously, but not with 
judgment. The king was not a sickly Edred. He 

** At Duustanus primum increpitans mullerum ineptias, manu sua dum nollet 
exsurgere, extraxit eum de mschali gencarum occubitu, impositoque diademate, 
duxit cum secum licet vi a mulicribus raptum ad regale consortium. MS. Cleop. ; 
Malmsburyt 55. ; Osberae, 105. ; Wallingford, 542. ; and Matt West 370. ; state 
the violence strongly. 

•' MSS. Cleop. This author, and Adelard, Nero, C. 7., politely attach to the 
lady's name such epithets, as Impudcns virago, Jesebel, &c. Osbeme uses the 
delicate phrase of nefandse mcretricis, and sagaciously informs us, that the devil was 
her tutor, " Mulieris animum instigat Dhibolus,** p. 105. 


BOOK displayed a spirit of independence and generous feel- 
Edwin, ing, on which Dunstan had not calculated. Wounded 
^"^ ' in every sentiment of becoming pride and kingly 
honour, Edwin was alive only to his resentment. He 
deprived Dunstan of his honours and wealth, and 
condemned him to banishment. 

Dunstan fled before the increasing storm ; and so 
severe was the royal indignation, that the monk was 
scarcely three miles from the shore, on his voyage to 
Flanders, when messengers reached it, who, it was 
said, would have deprived him of sight, if he had 
been found in the country. ^'^ 

It was unfortunate for Edwin, that he suffered 
his angry passions to be his counsellors. When 
Dunstan presumed to dictate insultingly to his sove- 
reign, he was not the mere abbot of a distant monas- 
tery ; he was not an insulated individual, whom the 
arm of justice could safely reach; he was enshrined 
in the prejudices of the people ; he had the friendship 
of Turketul, the venerable chancellor, whose fame 
had become more sacred by his retreat to Croyland ; 
and he was supported by Odo, the primate of Eng- 
land. It was also probable, that most of the clergy 
and nobles, who had feasted on the coronation, con- 
ceived themselves bound to protect him, as his punish- 
ment arose from executing, however offensively, their 

The detail of the conspiracy against Edwin is not 
stated, but some of the operations of Odo, whose 
fierce temper made him among the most prominent 
in avenging his friend, have been noticed. He 
divorced the king from his wife, on the plea of their 

•* MS. Cleop. Edwin drove the Benedictine monks, introduced by Dunstin, 
from the two monasteries of Glastonbury and Abingdon. The loose language of 
0»beme implies, that many monasteries were put down ; but Wharton, on the 
authority of John of Tinmouth and AVolstan, judiciously reduces the many to these 



kinship.^ So powerful was his party, that soldiers chap. 
were sent to the palace to seize the queen : she was Edwin, 
taken violently from it ; her face was branded with 
red hot iron, and she was banished to Ireland.^ 
What duty of an archbishop could dictate this con- 
duct? It is not denied by the old chroniclers, that 
Odo was active in those measures ; why else is the 
passage added immediately after the murder, stating 
his being the inflexible enemy of all vice? Elgiva 
found no charms in her exile, and, nature healing 
her wounds, she returned to Gloucester in all her 
beauty. ^^ She was pursued and seized, and the 
nerves and muscles of her legs were divided, that 
she might wander from the vengeance of her enemies 
no more ! ^ But extreme cruelty cannot long retain 
its victim. Her sufferings at last terminated. Death 
released her from her murderers, whom no beauty 
could interest, no sjrmpathy assuage. 

To reflect that men have connected piety with 
these horrors ; and that their authors or abettors 
perpetrated them under His sacred name, whose crea- 
tion displays goodness ever flowing, and whose re- 
ligion enjoins philanthropy the most benign, is to feel 
human nature in all its depravity and madness. They 
may have been imitated. Marats and Robespierres 
may have even exceeded them in atrocity ; but the 
agents of cruelty, under whatever garb, whatever 
system, or whatever pretexts, are the enemies of 

"' The MS. Saxon Chronicle, Tib. B. 4., has a paragraph on Edwin*8 divorce, 
which is not in the printed one : ** 958, on ttijrfrum seape Oba apcebircop to- 
tpaembe Cabpi cynins T Mlisyye ron ctiaem the hi p«rion to sefybbe.** 

** Missis niilitibus, a curia regis in qua mansitabat, violenter adduxit et earn in 
facie deturpatam ac candenti ferro denotatam perpetua in Hibemiam exiiii relaga- 
tione detrusit. Osbeme, 84. 

" Qu» tamen cum nonnuUum temporis intervallum, jam obducta in cicatricem 
corporis forma, sed adhuc hiante impudicae mentis deformitate, relicta Hibemia, 
Angliam rediit et Glocestram csecatl cordis obscuritate imbuta punrenit. Os- 
beme, 84. 

** Ubi ab hominibus Mennt Dei comprehensa, et ne meretricio more ulterius 
yaga discurreret, subnervata, post dies aliquot mala morte prssenti vits sublata est. 
Osbcrne, 84. 



BOOK mankind, and oiurbi not lo be remembered, unless to 

EdviBL ^ abhorred. 

The remainder of Edwin's vcign is not distinctly 
narrated. But the raain results are dear. The 
Mercians and Xorthuinbrians rebeUed against him, 
drove him beyond the Thames, and appointed Edgar, 
his brother, a boy but thirteen years of age, to govern 
them in his st€iid. Dunstan was immediately after- 
wards recalled with honour. 

It is probable that the popularity of the Benedic- 
tine reformation, of which Dunstan had made himself 
both the champion and the martyr, was the great 
engine by which Edwin was oppressed. At length 
the kingdom was divided between him and Edgar : 
the Thames was made the bounding line. Edwin 
retained only the southern provinces of England, and 
but for a short interval Three vears after the rebel- 
lion of his subjects, his death occurred. One author 
W7. even states, that he was killed in Gloucestershire.^ 
If from the want of fuller evidence we hesitate at 
believing this, we must, at least, admit the affecting 
account, that his spirit was so wounded by his per- 
secutions, that, unable to endure unmerited odium, 
deprivation of power, a brother's rebellion, and the 
murder of his beloved wife, he sunk pining into 
death, before he had reached the full age of man- 

The monks, with indefinite phrase, declaim against 


" I derive the knowlege of this new and probable fact from the express assertioa 

r/f an old MS. Chronicle in the Cotton Library, the author of which was no fHend 

to the king. Yet he says. Rex West-Saxonura Edwinus, in pago Gloucestrensi 

Interfectwi fuit. Nero, A. 6. p 9. I never met with any other authority which 

ISplidtly aiBrmed the fact But yet the expressions of the MS. Cleop. B. 13. 

eonntenance It This says, ** Interea germanus ejusdem Eadgari qui justa 

jndlda devlando dereliqult novlssimum fiatum mUera morie exspiravit** 

ncftfthls : ** Edwyo Inquam rege regno pro suis criminibus dimmaio 

morU damnato," p. 84. The Hist Rames. implies a violent death : 

mbtoto,'* p. 393. 
Mora taati Infintunil usque ad mortem inflrmatus. Ingulf, 41. Qua 
talittrii TlfCTidl finem fecit BCalmsb. 55. 



Edwin as an unworthy voluptuary. But they have chap. 
judged him not impartially as between man and man, Edidn. 
but with a professional antipathy from his opposition 
to Dunstan. We know too little of his actions to 
decide with certainty on his real character ; but it is 
just to him to remark, that some annalists of high 
authority, and apparently less prejudiced, state that 
he was an amiable prince, whose conduct gave the 
promise of an honourable reign.^^ 

His youth was the source of his calamities ; a king 
of sixteen was incompetent to wage a war of policy 
and popularity with the hoary advocates of a new 
system, whose fanaticism envenomed their hostility ; 
whose affiliation and credit multiplied their power. 
The opinions of a calumniated and untried youth, 
had no weight with the nation, in opposition to all 
that they revered and obeyed. Had he complied a 
while vnth the imperious necessit)', and waited till, 
by manly prudence, he had acquired character, con- 
vinced the people of his good qualities, enforced habits 
of respect, and created friends capable of defending 
him, his ambitious dictators would have been baffled 
and humiliated. 

His catastrophe was a misfortune both to England 
and Europe. It made the enmity of the ecclesiastical 
power an object of terror. It exhibited a precedent 
of a king insulted, injured, persecuted, and dethroned 
by the agency or effects of sacerdotal enmity ; and 
as his successor obeyed the dictates or favoured the 
plans of the monastic leaders, it must have given a 
consequence to their future influence, which occasion- 
ally subjected even courts to their control. 

• The simple epithet of the ancient Ethelwerd is peculiarly forcible : " Tenult 
namque quadrennio per regnum amandus, p. 849. Huntingdon had also spirit 
enough to declare that Edwin, ** Non iUaudabilUer regni infulam tenult,** p. 356. 
He adds, that as, "in principio regnum ^us decentissimc floreret, prospera et Ueta- 
bunda exordia mors immatura perrupit." Ibid. To the same purport, and with an 
imitation of phrase, Ozenedes says, *< Cum in principio regni siii omnia prospem 
et Ictabunda florerent exordia.** MSS. Cotton Lib. Mero, D. 2. p. 215. — Edwin, 
from his extreme beauty, obtained the name UwKoKoy or All Fair. Ethelw. 849. 

222 rasTORY OF the 




The Reign of Edgar. 

BOOK Edgar, at the age of sixteen, succeeded to all the 
Edgar. Anglo-Saxoii dominion. He has been much extolled, 
but he was rather the king of a prosperous nation in 
a fortunate era, than a great prince himself. His 
actions display a character ambiguous and mixed. 
His policy sometimes breathes a liberal and enlarged 
spirit. At other periods he was mean, arrogant, and 
vicious; and the hyperboles of praise, by which 
monastic gratitude has emblazoned him, are as ques- 
tionable as to their truth, as they are repugnant to 
common sense and good taste.^ On the whole, if we 
recollect what he inherited, we must say that it was 
the fortuitous chronology of his existence, rather 
than his own bravery and wisdom, which has adorned 
his name with a celebrity, that in the pages of fana- 
ticism even obscures, by its excess, those illustrious 
characters from whose exertions his empire had 

Obtruded unjustly upon a brother's throne by 
vindictive partisans, his reign became their reign 
rather than his own: and the great object of the 
policy of the new government was to convert the 
clergy into monks, and to fill the nation with Bene- 
dictine institutions! The patrons of the measure 

^ For instance: £o namque regnante sol videbatur esse serenlor, maris unda 
pacatior, terra foecundior, et totius regni facies abundantior, decore Tcnustior. 
Ethelr. Abb. Rlev. 359. 

' Malmsbury is not content with' saying once, that nullus enim unquam regum 
Anglorum potuit certare laudibus Edgari, 3 Gale, 319. ; but in another place he 
deliberately affirms, that nullum nee c>lus nee superioris actatis rcgem in Anglia 
recto et lequilibri judicio Edgaro comparandum. Dc Gest Reg. 60. Was not 
Alfred, in just and equal judgment, to be compared with Edgar 7 




may have intended the moral improvement of the chap. 
country, and it may have raised a superior descrip- Edgar, 
tion of ecclesiastics in the nation ; but their means 
were violent, and their conduct unjust to the paro- 
chial clergy. 

Dunstan was made bishop of Worcester, and after- 
wards of London.^ His acquisition of metropolitan 
honours was at first checked. Odo had died before 
Edwin* ; and this indignant king appointed another 
bishop to succeed him. But the policy of the Roman 
pontiffs had established a custom, that all metro- 
politans should visit Rome to receive there the pal- 
lium, the little ornament on their shoulders, which gave 
and announced their dignity. In crossing the Alps 
the archbishop nominated by Edwin perished amid 
the snow.^ Another was appointed in his stead. 
But Edgar now reigned, and it was discovered that 
the new dignitary was a man of mild, modest, hum- 
ble, and benign temper.^ The expected consequence 
occurred: Byrhtelm was compelled to abdicate his 
promotion, and to retire to his former see. Dunstan 
was appointed the primate of the Anglo-Saxons^, 
and, in 960, he hastened to Rome.® He received the 
completing honour from the hands of the ambitious 
and unprincipled John the Twelfth.^ 

The coadjutors of Dunstan, in effecting his eccle- 96o. 
siastical reformation, were Oswald and Ethelwold. 
Oswald, a Dane by birth, and a kinsman of Odo, 
who had educated him, had received the habit at 
Fleury.^^ Dunstan represented him to the king as 

' MS. Cleop. B. 13. Osb. 108. He seems to have held both sees at the same 

• Odo died 968. Matt West 369. Flor. 366. 
» MSS. Oeop. B. 13. So Matt West 369. Flor. 365. 

• MSS. Cleop. So Matt West 371. ; who seems often to copy this author. 
' Matt. West 369. Flor. 355. Such was his cupidity of power, that he held 

also the see of Rochester. Osb. 110. 

• Matt West 370. Flor. 356. 

• That John XII. ruled at this period, sec Dupin, tenth century, p. 10. 
*^ Hist Rames. 391. 


224 nisTORT OF the 

BOOK a meek and humble monk, well worthy of the bi- 
bJI^, shopric of Worcester.^^ The king, though he had 
allowed meekness and humility to degrade a metro- 
politan, pliantly admitted them to be the proper 
virtues of a bishop, and gave to Oswald the honour 
requested. Oswald was, however, not more attached 
to the gentle virtues than Dunstan, or at least did 
not allow them to interrupt the prosecution of his 
patron's plans. 

Three years afterwards, Dunstan raised to the see 
of Winchester Ethelwold, abbot of Abingdon, who 
had been bred up by himself^-: Ethelwold, who 
adopted the feelings of Dunstan and enforced his 
plans, was decided and impetuous in prosecuting the 
monastic reformation of the clerg}\ He may have 
conscientiously believed this to have been his duty ; 
but it was carried into effect with a tyrannical seve- 
rity : and if a renovation of ecclesiastical piety was 
its object, its success in this point was of small dura- 
tion; for within a century after this Benedictine 
reformation, the manners of the clergy are repre- 
sented as unfavourably as at its commencement. 
The more pleasing part of Ethel wold's character was 
his attention to the literary education of the youth 
at Winchester.^^ These three the king made his 
counsellors and friends. 

The schemes of Dunstan to perpetuate his power 
and popularity cannot at this distant period be de- 
tailed, but the nature of them may be conjectured 
by one faculty which he claimed, and which has been 

" Flor. Wig. 366. 

*^ Flor. 357. So Adelard says, "Bcato igitur Athelwoldo a se educate.** MS. 
Nero, C 7. p. 75. Edgar made Dunstan, Oswald, and Ethelwold his counsellors 
and fHends. See Edgar*s charter, Dugdale, 140. 

" WoUtan says of him, ** It was always delightful to him to teach children and 

youth, and to construe Ijatin books to tbcm in Englbh, and explain to them the 

rules of grammar and Latin versification, and to ezbort them to better things by 

ideaiant conversations. Hence many of his disciples became priests, abbots, 

•nd even archbishops.** Wolst. Yit Ethelwold. 



transmitted to us from his own authority. The best chap. 
part of Dunstan's character was his taste for know- Edgar. 
lege and the civilising arts. The questionable fea- 
tures are those of his politics, and real or pretended 
enthusiasm. The Catholic hierarchy may accredit 
his supernatural gifts, but our sober reason cannot 
read but with surprise, that he claimed the power of 
conversing with the spiritual world. " I can relate 
one thing from himself," says his biographer, " that 
though he lived confined by a veil of flesh, yet, 
whether awake or asleep, he was always abiding 
with the powers above.'' ^* Hence he learned many 
heavenly songs. A particular instance is added of a 
vision which announces such extraordinary preten- 
sions in Dunstan, that if it had not come from his 
friend and contemporary, we might disbelieve the 
possibility that such presumption could have either 
occurred or been countenanced. 

In this vision, he declared he saw his own mother 
married to the venerated Saviour of the Christian 
world, with every nuptial pomp.^^ Amid the sing- 
ing, a heavenly youth asked Dunstan why he did not 
join in the rejoicings of so great a marriage for his 
mother; and, on his mentioning his ignorance, taught 
him a song.i« 

Dunstan promulgated this by summoning a monk 
to attend him on his pretended waking, who, from 
his dictation, committed the song to writing. All 
the monks, subject to him, were commanded in the 
morning to learn and to sing it; while Dunstan 
shouted his protestations of the truth of the vision.^^ 

" Unum autem ex ipso me posse referre proflteor, quod quamvls hlc carneo 
septus velamine deguisset, in imis mente tamen, sive vigUaret sive somno detentus 
quiescerat, semper manebat In superis. MS Cleop. B. 13. p. 81. 

»* MS. Cleop. ; and see Osberne, 114. ; and Eadmer Vit Dunst. 217. 

»• MSS. Cleop. 

'^ Sed continuo jussit eam Iltterarum in merooria priusque oblivioni daretur 
conscribere et conscriptam cuidam monacho tam recentem discere, &c. &c. MSS. 




To the credulous, the assertion of Dunstan was suffi- 
cient evidence of this impious story. The more in- 
vestigating were silenced by attempts to allegorise it. 
The mother so married, was Dunstjm's church in its 
new reformation.^^ Thus, whether it was believed 
literally, or interpreted allegorically, Dunstan de- 
rived from it the benefit he wished. It would seem 
that many thought him mad; but as his madness 
was systematical, persevering, and popular, it was 
more generally believed to be prophetic intuition.^* 

The first object of Dunstan was to expel the re- 
laxed ecclesiastics from the monasteries, to diffuse 
every where the Benedictine rule, and to give them 
the predominance in the estimation of the nation. 

But Edgar did not leave his Benedictine friends to 
attack the existing clergy by their own influence and 
means of aggression. He degraded majesty so far as 
to become himself the persecuting tool of Dunstan. 
He himself assumed the sword against a portion of 
his subjects ^^, who were respectable from their pro- 
fession, and who could have no protection but in the 
popular favour, or in his justice. 
969. At a public synod, convened to propagate the 

Benedictine revolution, Edgar delivered a speech^^ 
for the party he espoused. In consequence of which, 
the clergy experienced a general persecution, and the 
monks were every where diffused with honour.^ 
Edgar took such pride in his Benedictine scheme 
that, in 964, he boasted of having made forty-seven 
monasteries, and declared his intentions to increase 
them to fifty.^ 

" MSS. aeop. » Ibid. 

* In hl8 charter to the monastery at Hyde, in the year 966, he says, « Vitiorum 
cuneos canonicorum e diversis nostri regiminls Csnobiis Christi vicariuseliminavL" 
Spelman Condi. 438. In the 16th article the monks are engaged to defend him 
from devils, and in the seventeenth he contracts to defend them fhnn men. 
lb. 440. 

*> See it in Ethelred, p. 360. 

o See Spelman's Concilia, 479. ; Ingulf, 46.; Osbeme, 111.; Eadmer, 219.5 
Iloveden, 426. ; Matt West 372. 374. ; and Hist Rames. 393, 394. 400. 

" See Dugdale, Monaat L p. 140. 



Edgar talks proudly, in one of his charters, that chap. 
he had subdued all the islands of the ocean, with Edgar, 
their ferocious kings, as far as Norway, and the ' 
greatest part of Ireland, with its most noble city, 
Dublin.^* No wars, however, have been particu- 
larised to have been waged by him but his ecclesi- 
astical ones, except an invasion of Wales.^^ 

To complete the subjugation of Northumbria, he 
convoked the barons, and divided the province into 
two counties. The Tees was the river of separation. 
The districts beyond its southern bank to the Hum- 
ber were intrusted to Oslach. From the northern 
bank to Mereforth, in the maritime part of Deira, the 
carl Eadulf governed.^ 

It is stated, that with a great fleet Edgar sailed to 973. 
Chester on the Dee, and that eight kings, Kenneth 
king of Scotland, Malcolm of Cumbria, Macchus of 
Anglesey and the Isles ^^, three kings of Wales, and 
two others^^, repaired thither at his command to do 
him homage. He was not satisfied mth this confes- 
sion of his power; his puerile vanity demanded a 

^ Mihi autem concessit propitia divinitas cum Anglorum impcrio omnia re;;na 
insularum oceani cum suis ferocissimis regibus us^iue Norreglam, maximamquc 
partem IlibemiK cum sua nobiUissima civitate Dublinia Anglorum regno 8ul]|jugnre. 
1 Dugdale, 140. 

^ Caradoc mentions this in 965, and says, it produced the Welsh tribute of 300 
evolves, p. 56. 

» Wallingford, 544. 

^ Matt. West. 375. so entitles him, '* Macone rcge Mons et plurimanim insu- 
larum." Malmsbury calls him Archipirata, p. 56. In 971, he witnessed one of 
£dgar*8 charters, with that epithet added to his signature. Spelman, 486. Who 
this Macchus was we leam from the Welsh Chronicle often already quoted. This 
says, 969, " diffeithwyt Penn Mon y gan y Paganyelt a Mact* vab Ilarald : " — 
** The promontory of Anglesey was ravaged by the pagans under Mactus the ton of 
Ilarald.** In 970, he made it tributary. MS. Cleop. B. 5. On referring to Adam 
Bremensis, p. 25., we find two lines which express that Ilarald Blaatand, king of 
Denmark, sent his son Hiring to England, who, having conquered the island, was 
betrayed in Northumbria. So the Icelandic fragment in Langbeck, ii. p. 148. I 
have already, in p. 197., stated from Snorre the death of Eric, son of Harald liar- 
fragre, whom Langbeck wishes to make this Hiring or Hringr son of the Danish 
king. I think Snorre is correct, and that Mactus, the son of Harald, was the eon 
of Harald Blaatand the Dane ; not of Harfragre the Norwegian. In 946, there 
was another Mnccus, sen of Eric. See before, p. 197. The Danish Maccus did 
homage to Ed^'ar. Wallingford spells his name Oriccus, p. 545., which comes 
nearer to Hiring or Hringr. 

» Matt West styles these, Jacobo rege QalwalUs et Jukil Westmaric, p. 375. 

Q 2 




^VL^ more painful sacrifice ; he ascended a large vessel 
Edgur. with his nobles and officers ; and he stationed himself 
at the helm, while the eight kings, who had come to 
do him honour, were compelled to take the seats of 
the watennen, and to row him down the Dee.® 
Such actions are not the e>'idences of true greatness, 
and never confer a lasting dignity. 

Edgar was as tyrannical in the indulgence of his 
other passions : he had sent one of his earls, named 
Athelwold, on a >-isit to Ordgar, earl of Devonshire, 
to examine if the beauty of his daughter, Elfrida, 
was as great as fame reported. Athelwold saw her, 
and falsified his trust. He reported her unfavour- 
ably to the king, then courted her for himself, and 
married her. 

Courtiers are busy to supplant, and Edgar soon 
heard the truth. He dissembled his anger, and an- 
nounced to Athelwold his intention to see the lady. 
Alarmed at his danger, the nobleman entreated his 
wife to deform herself; but Elfrida was weary of 
domestic privacy, and, on the day of the royal visit, 
she added every charm of art to give brilliancy to " 
her beauty. She excited Edgar's passions. He 
caused Athelwold to be assassinated in a wood, and 
then married Elfrida.^^ 

At another time he had the brutality to violate a 
lady of noble birth, who used a nun's veil as an ex- 
pected, but an unavailing protection.^^ 

A third incident of his contempt for the welfare of 
others, when his own gratification was in question, 
has been recorded. Visiting at Andovcr, he com- 
manded a nobleman to bring hhn his daughter, whose 

» Mulmsb. 50. Mailron, 150. Ilovedcn, 426. Sim. Dun. 169; Al. Bev. 112. 
Flor. 359. Nothing can more stronRly display Edgar's vanity than the pompous 
and iMumtfiil tltlot which he assumes in hi<t charters. They sometimes run to the 
lenuth of flfteen or eij^hteen limns. How difTerent flnom Alfred's Ego occidentalium 
8axonum Kex ! 

■ Maimsh. 59. Bnimton gives the incident more In detail, 865, 866. 

» Malmsb. fM). TtaU was in his first wife's time. Eadmer Vit Dunst. 219. 



person had been praised to him ; but the mother of chap. 
the young lady sent her attendant to personate her Edgir. 
daughter.^^ For these actions Dunstan imposed only 
trifling penances on Edgar.^ 

Yet amid these defects, some traits of an enlarged 
and liberal policy appear, which reflect credit on 
Edgar or his ministers. The most important of these 
was his patronage of foreigners and trade. People 
from Saxony, Flanders, and Denmark, frequently 
came to him ^ ; whom he received so well as to excite 
a censure from one monkish chronicler, that he loved 
them too much ^, and from another, that they injured 
his people by the vices they imported.^^ He showed 
his care of trade by his exemplary punishment of the 
people of Thanet, who had seized and plundered some 
merchants coming from York.^^ His commuting the 
tribute from Wales into three hundred wolves' hcads^^, 
in order to extirpate these animals from the country, 
was a scheme of sound wisdom and generous policy. 
His reformation of his coin was also intelligent. It 
had become so diminished in weight, by the fraud 

" Malmsb. 60. This author's expression, nam octeris infamias — magis n^per- 
serunt cantilena^ p. 56., imply, that the Anglo-Saxon poets made £dgar*s dissolute 
conduct the subject of their i)octry. 

** As occasional fasting, and not to wear his crown for seven years. Malmsb. 60. 
Osb. 111. One part of the penance was artfully chosen to promote the monk's 
purposes. The king was to lavish his treasures upon a nunnery, to expel the 
clergy with new vigour, and to introduce monks. Osb. 

** Malmsb. 56. The Welsh Chronicle, MS. Clcop. B. 6. says, " Canys canneat 
agavas gwyr Denmarc ar drigaw yn yr ynys honn tra vynnynt y gan Edgar vrenhin 
Lloegyr : " — ** Because to the men of Denmark leave was granted by Edgar king 
of England, on their request, to dwell in this island.** 

^ Extraneos hue adductos plus xquo diligens. Hunt 356. 

* Malmsbury says, " A Saxonibus animorum in conditam ferocitatem a Flan- 
dritis corporum enervem mollitiem, a Danis potationem discerent. Homines ante 
haec in tallbus Integra et natural! simpllcitate sua defensare aliena non mirari," p. 56. 
The Welsh Chronicle adds to the last passage quoted another, which states, that 
the Danes became so numerous, that they were in every city and town in England ; 
that they gave themselves up to such drinking and idolatry, that they could not be 
governed ; and that this occasioned nails to be put in their cups to mark the 
quantity they were to drink. MS. Cleop. B. 5. Malmsbury says of Dunstan, that 
he caused silver or gold nails to be put into the drinking vessels, to prevent drunken- 
ness and quarrels, p. 56. 

•» Matt. West. 374. 

" Malmsbury says, the tribute ceased on the fourth year, for want of wolves, 
p. 59. 

Q 3 

— • 

-". -- ^ _-. .... : ....". : '-1= Li— '>:r would 

" ...-,: ■-.* :_-: .. - — .: —. -. -."-. — ^ ibf crrAiiuct 
■ '.: ~ -■-'-... " ." - '.: ^i-i. Lzi ::• punish 

-~:.-~ — . .-■ : . ..V T:.- . — :i"_'.c t: :le wants 

* ' • 


L?^ ij Kenneth 

:: ::^v ^rave the 

:ur.:-:5 oi pure 

^f- -^r/z rrocious 

■■ ■' .-..:---:*•:■■. -..:-* r ->-: ~ C'.j r- ■: - ^.^z-:-: :n !ho ap- 

^■/ '• ''-' -'^^ -^ - TV ■*'2-*T .= :; -...-.. ti" ::j - :: ':^rcj»rded; 
., ■■■' ■"' ■ ■ ■■ ■■-■"■ i--- ■--I.':-:--. L.-; : i- T .: r- -.i.tVi-^ n^.rv harmfuL 

^t .•/' . ,0 Mi.-^ -Ar-t. r.^s-^ 4 7" ^-..i.s^ :j iiiiz-: A nrrthern ileeL 
('•■'...« v.^.. -. ..r. ^. .. ,.- ^zjui-nzL.r^ Mi;™:...r- iOTj.:ij.: er<ry Eas:.;r they 
'.•'.: •'. .•,•: »r.^ ;iM.-.':. ;., y, 
'^' vf ».. . . ,0. M..;.- •, i.>o. Mi:-. w_^r. 37^. 

/^'/' //;.f. r.;4rj v-r/.r'.*: a n^rr ;-;:::ir. h- h.u^tcnr^i to trav<l ihroufb 
''"'/ '.•/ .;. •-.. k.r.jr.:-,,';, V, ;,r:ii.h :,, i? ; ir.-I iu.i ^i* his acutenc>f and elo- 
'I .^r,**.. ..,* r.i< i,.'.s(r4j,f.»:f, th;it n^thiaz coJl I* w:*tr. cr more Weasant Os- 

•• M■•lffl«^ iV'i 

*''*" ^"» «'y^ '''"i»h w.i=, plvfrn ftn rendition that Kenneth should come 
rrv!!.'.'^'" *" '•'''""''' I"-'"' il--*' f'-'«^f . Th«' kin^f LMv. him *fVcral huufos for hU 



that SO many provinces shonld obey a man so insig- chap. 
nificant. These words were carried to the king. He Edgar. 
led Kenneth apart into a wood, and bad him take 
one of two swords which he produced. " Our arms 
shall decide which ought to obey the other; for it 
will be base to have asserted that at a feast which 
you cannot support with your sword." Kenneth, 
confused, recollected his hasty remark, and apolo- 
gised for it as a joke.^ There is such an energy and 
a magnanimity in this incident, that if Edgar had 
attained his power at a later age, or had possessed 
better counsellors, he might have displayed a nobler 
character. Abstracted from his vices, he may be 
ranked in the superior order of our Saxon sovereigns. 

Edgar was twice married. By his first wife, El- 
fleda the Fair, daughter of Ordmer, he had Edward, 
his successor, and a daughter, who became a nun. 
Elfrida, whom he had made the widow of Athel- 
wold'*^, that had deceived him, bore him two sons; 
Edmund, who died before him ; and Ethelred, who 
also obtained the crown. 

Edgar's reign has been celebrated as the most 
glorious of all the Anglo-Saxon kings. No other 
sovereign, indeed, enjoyed his prosperity with such 
personal pomp; yet no other sovereign was more 
degraded in his posterity. With his short life, for 
he died at thirty-two, the gaudy pageantry ceased ; 
and all the dominion in which he had so ostenta- 
tiously exulted, vanished from his children's grasp. 
His eldest son perished by the scheme of his preferred 
Elfrida; his youngest reigned only to show, that one 
weak reign is sufficient to ruin even a brave and 
great people. 

« Malmsb. 59. 

*• The Saxon. Chron. MS. Tib. B. 4. dates E<lgar*s marriage with Elfrida in 965. 
Hearne places our illustrious Tom Thumb in this reign as an actual living character. 
He says, in his preface to Bcnedictus Abbas, " The Hbtory of Tom Thumb was 
certainly founded on some authentic history, as being nothing else, originally, but 
a description of King Edgar's dwarf." 

U 4 



I* a 121 insGuice :t "ie nuraiiZij of lumun great- 
n«3. ^iaz al::hi:ii2i Eipr moiie kfngs his watermen, 
yet uLc §cii ct ifs ctiij;v»id wif** h^xizat his kingdom 
fiT-i ciats frGin. L»nafsL nv^ar?: ihe fiiTOorites be- 
came tniiri:-«. and lie 5CZT^ii»iei?ed his thrcme to 
a fcrei^ xnTader. C^t Einr * graziisocs one perished 
yiolentiv six^i afr^ his ak^:esa<:*a. The other iras 
the last ot his race who ruled the Anglo-Saxcm 

ilnHiriiuiiiy ve JDil Snm "w.^^^^ wtid ^psv jbuI'i Ui ooBSBBBBOcvy. Hb 

* of an the kfna of t^ EjuSab sacun. :2&c ana powafaL And it 
ra tte Dtrfne will ^tac h^ ^w*"*!**- Mi kfius aai en^ vte canm tD Ub 
ikaiiUi^ 9ca<^ dbuiid. vidboor mf bKrSc. be niiecsii ai kmt to do' 



Edward theMartyry or Edward the Second of the Anglo-Saxok 


DuNSTAN had used the power of Edgar to plant Eng- chap. 
land with the new monks, and to exclude from their Edward 
seats the ancient clergy ; but he had not reconciled ^^ Martyr. 
all the nation to the severity of the measure or to 975. 
his own administration ; for on Edgar's death an 
attempt was made to humble his power, and to re- 
store the clergy. As Edward appeared subservient 
to the views of Dunstan, his accession was disputed. 
Some chose him, and others Ethelred.^ But Edward 
had been named by his father as successor, and Dun- 
stan took the shortest road to his object. He and 
Oswald assembled their ecclesiastic^ friends and 
«ome duces, and crowned Edward.^ Edward, like 
all the kings since Athelstan, was very young at his 

The quarrel between the two systems grew more 
vehement. The governor of Mercia turned out all 
the monks.^ The governor of East Anglia supported 
them.* Many tumults ensued.^ The clergy got hold 
of the monastic possessions, which they distributed 
to the governors in return for their protection.^ 

Elfrida opposed Dunstan. She joined the party of 
the clergy, and endeavoured to bias the minds of the 
great in favour of her son Ethelred. 

> nor. Wig. 361. Mailroe, 161. 

* Hist Raines. 413. Ifailros, 151. Eadmer, Vit D. 220. 

* Ingulf, 54. Malmsh. 61. * Hist Rames. 412. 

* Multus inde tumultus in omni angulo AngUs foetus est Ingulf, 54. 

* Ingulf, 54. One author says, he cannot express the suffierings of the monks. 
Hist Rames. 412. 


BOOK Though Dunstan had procured Edward's coronation, 
Edwvd ^^ could not recover the alienated minds of the no- 
the Martyr, bilitj. He attempted to govern them by the influence 
975. of superstition. He had forcibly expelled the clergy, 
who had been reinstated ; but on Edgar's death, they 
endeavoured to restore themselves ; and Elfere, the 
governor of Mercia, pulled down all the monasteries 
which had been built in that province. To appease 
these discontents, a synod was convened at Win- 
chester. While the opinions were forming, and the 
assembly expected his answer to a peculiar appeal 
which had been made to him, the crucifix in the wall 
became vocal. It commended the former proceed- 
ings : it forbad a change." " What wish ye more ? " 
exclaimed Dunstan, immediately ; " the dlvioe voice 
determines the aftair." ^ 

This artifice, for, unless we believe it to have been 
a miracle, no other name can be given to it, did not 
fully succeed. It was followed by another event, 
which, taken in conjunction with the preceding, leads 
the impartial mind to the strongest suspicion of it% 
having been a scheme of the most questionable cha- 
racter. The candid historian will alwa)'s regret when 
the nature of the incidents compels him to infer bad 
motives. But some facts justify the imputation ; 
and the following events, unless extreme charity can 

» Malmsbury, p. 61. Gervase gWes the words, " absit ut hoc flat ; absit ut hoc 
flat," 1647. So Osbernc, p. 113. 

• We have this speech of Dunstan in Eadraer*s life of him, p. 21 9. Wh. Ang. Sax. 
He and Osberae phice it under £dgar*s reign, which is less probable than the chro- 
nology of the others, because Edgar^s attachment to Dunstan and power made such 
aids useless. Mliatever afl^cta the character of Dunstan, Dr. Lingard wishes to 
believe a mere popular tale. If Dunstan*s enemies had written his life, Dr. Lin- 
gard*s incredulity would be a fair exertion of cautious though arbitrary pyrrhonism. 
But all we know of Dunstan ci>mes fh)m his friends and panegyrists. It is our 
moral sympathies that have improved, not our historical evidence which has 
diminished. Tet it is remarkable that the Papal church, in this enlightened day, 
should cling so tenaciously to such mixed characters as Dunstan and Becket, in 
opposition both to reason and impartial history. It would act more wisely if it 
discerned and abandoned the untenable and revolting, and suffered its legends to 
sink quietly into oblivion. They are unnecessary to it as a religion, and are not 
likely to assist its political power in an age wheu Che cunrnt of the human mind 
runs so strongly against all palpable credulity. 


believe them to have been' accidental, or credulity chap. 
can suppose them to have been miraculous, announce Edward 
premeditated plans which deserve the harshest epi- V"^^*^' 
thets. A council of the nobles was summoned at 975. 
Calne. The king was absent, on account of his age. 
While the senators of England were conversing vio- 
lently on the question then agitated, and were re- 
proaching Dunstan, he gave a short reply, which 
ended with these remarkable words : " I confess that 
I am unwilling that you should conquer. I commit 
the cause of the church to the decision of Christ." 

As these words, which lead the mind to the most 
unfavourable inferences, were uttered, the floor and 
its beams and rafters gave way, and precipitated the 
company with the ruins to the earth below. The 
seat of Dunstan only was unmoved. Many of the 
nobles were killed upon the spot ; the others were 
grievously hurt by wounds which kept them long 
confined.^ If no other achievement had revealed 
Dunstan's character, would not this be sufficient to 
startle the unprejudiced reader into a doubt of its 
sanctity ? It was followed by another circumstance, 
which leaves us no alternative between the supposi- 
tion of a purposed falsehood or an unworthy miracle. 

On the death of his friend and pupil Athelwold, 
the see of Winchester became vacant. As from the 
avowed dissatisfaction of the nobles, Dunstan's power 
was insecure, it became expedient that he should 
guard it by filling every high office with his friends. 
He fixed upon Elphegus as the successor, and, to 
abolish all opposition, he boldly declared, that Saint 
Andrew had appeared to him, and commanded him 
to consecrate Elphegus to the vacant see.^^ 

Such proceedings at last taught others to fight him 

' See the note at the end of the chapter. 

^ Osbcme, 1 14. The history of Dunstan is remarkably certain ; ttom the facts 
against him being stated and proved by his friends and encomiasts. 


■ ^ ^ M^ ^ K ^h* •■ K _ ■ J^^ ^ ^h ^ ^LJL^i^K 

1 Lci: T-.^. 

-■- 1 LlLj-ri :: r>lir.ii. :li: El-wini gave 
T-:-_?l_ri :.= - i:~:7. -^1:L & rival digDity 

iIt ?:^:t :: -\t V"'^r i:z: z^ve r-i^ver to her malice. 
Hrwvv:? tjiv : ::«:->.-iIr,r* a: Culr.-j nuv have affected 
the orcv;*.;I.::s r-i-'lr. :h^ surviving sufferers and 
thoir tViciuIs c.:*.:Ii Lirllv Live bct:n deceived; and 
it' tliov Ivliovod tr^-:- catastrophe to have been the 
olloct of ilosign, we may assume that they meditated 
to MvoUiTo it on r^unstan. But he was protected by 
IIm* favour of his sovereicrn ; Edward therefore be- 
i-nuw flu* first object of attack. A combination 
u^itinst him was formed ; and with no scruples as to 
nuMins. It is stated, that Elfrida and some 

€(!» conspired together to dethrone Edward in 
P of Kthelred, and that the death of the kinjj 

This IncMenk hu ncnpca the n<itic«" of our historians. It is in the Ilistoria 
■fc 8 Oale, 4DI, 492. 
WUllnKftinl, 646. 



was the crime devised for the accomplishment of their chap. 
purpose. The unsuspecting king facilitated the exe- Edward 
cution of the guiUy plot. He was hunting in Dorset- ?*^^^*^' 
shire, near Wareham, a few miles from which stood 978. 
Corfe Castle, the residence of Elfrida and her son. 
His companions were dispersed in pursuit of the 
game, and, in the course of the sport, Edward beheld 
the conspicuous walls of the castle. ^^ He rode thither 
to visit Ethelred and his mother. On the tidings of 
his arrival, she hastily settled her plan. She went 
out and received him with hypocritical kindness, and 
invited him in. The king declined to alight ; but 
desired some refreshment, and requested to see his 
brother. A cup of drink was brought to him, but 
while he was raising it to his lips, a wretch, stealing 
behind, stabbed him in the back. Feeling the wound, 
he spurred his horse to escape the assassin, but the 
blow had been too successful : he fell from his seat ; 
his feet hung in the stirrups, and the frighted steed 
dragged his expiring lord over the rugged way. His 
friends traced him by his blood, and found at last his 
disfigured corpse. It was burnt, and its ashes buried 
at Wareham.^* 

** The interesting ruins of Corfe Castle still remain. 

" Malmsb. 61. In/?ulf, 54. Mailros, 151. The chroniclers say, he was buried ; 
but Lupus, in his sermon, says, Occlsus est ct postea combustus, Hickes's Thos. 


As the conduct of Dunstan in the iuddent at Calne has become lately a sutjcct 
of public discussion, and it has been suggested, that a more atrocious crime than 
the charge against him cannot be imagined, <* that such a suggestion should not be 
brought without strong evidence ; " and, " that the slightest evidence neither has 
been nor can be produced for its support," (Butler's Oath. Church, p. 67.) the 
impartial reader may desire to know what the authentic evidence really amounts to. 

There are no contemporary histories now existing of the reigns of Edgar and 
Edward the martyr. But there is a tract on the life of Dunstan, written by Brid- 
forth, a priest, who knew him, and who calls himself, " Vilis Saxonum indigena," 
which exists in the Cotton MS. Cleop. B. 13., and which has been printed fh)m 
another MS. of St Vcdast's monastery at Rome, in the Acta Sanctorum for May, 
vol. iv. p. 346. This gives the fullest account of the earliest incidents of his life 
that exists, but scarcely mentions his transactions as archbishop. It omits all 
notice of the synod at Calne, and therefore of what happened there. If this omis- 
sion had not extended to Dunstan's other transactions as archbishop, it might have 


b uf iuia-if 

. 'IT!;"-^ 

r :.:-::>.!?.■ 

» "■".. 

■: :-*.-;. i! r.3} 

' m- '•'' "-^ 

M.: :i.-:cc » 

i» — 

•."^i.'t lit c-* 

: '^ ■ .::■-- 

'! c rnf?e is 

T'.. ! r"»r- 

•_Lt tn'iihop, 

.::■ -ir Ef 

rPTJ^S IZ C*1w. 

»-. " "-^'a.' 

lit ibow 

: i- ii •* .: 

v .-"-i.-. iii i? 

— ■ •' 

: :.^zr-;*bcti 

• » f-lZJ 

s-r. ^ riTt «iT. 

- z - ;.r.i 

t -7i£'Atxn. 


^ 1 r " ^ * 

.: • • ' 1—1-1 «":.rvi:cl« 

i:c H.7-3fr- 437., 

, i.1.:— « . tit t ZTou. 

^ - -; — 

^ :. 

;..- :.u. i.:>*rvi :2 our 
:.. • :•••:. :.-* cjkL*!r.iry 
1- .• ::f rZi-U ■■•f rhf 

T- L -t r-L.-:*^! iitiM to 

• ::* -_:-:".:'.-«i — all 
: Li.'-i: .'iLTJC hire 

. - - c^" : -:> -« William 

* ^ 

.i.-'.'brt excited 

-.-7. "..: the clercy 

1 :he mnnas- 

- • :.. :i : - Mr -^ Tbe fir?t 

. r: r • _ -zj^i . \; rt^*!y «;*'kr and 

.■ ■: : - ■ .- r : '• :".;}«: ajivaH-J. 

:,: rt. .r-- ::>i:.: fr t. hi* }outh. as 

T. -7.;".- '■1* -.: :.i!»->J wi!h crcut 

:=.j--j riircrbcr? titr>f thrown on 

:.:.-: r : r^5±o him. jHTSims of 

:^- .:-: : -. • :; ^ -: .- - «::. <_i-»z:y *:; the flt<or with ih 

i.T»; :*"i.-ij. -iCL.—*-. ::.: i.t. •:.. i.*-.-. All ^ini thrown to the earth.^. sCiT'i .m: -_:•.- j. :*i.- :^*: rt.r.iiSt-J. en::n!y t<cap*\J ; the rest 

k-K-: . - litj^Zi". -.z :'z -. :'. ::f r . : T«s.r;*:u:.l linju.-r. ThI* minidi* save 

:< 1.--2 ; .*r . : - ■ r\ v^r?:. K:j 1. ii. ;.»;]. M.itthew of WostniiiisiUT's 

^^' "-<■ vii-T. :;. :? :? :z# *ir::e ; urj. r:, an J nearly in the same words, 

'., anJ *K ;> K-i:». rT:i"<* 1 Ar.-"!. Sjk. p. I'L'j. 

aurhvrlii.'S i::jioh :o :Lc t\ir: the su^p:cl(iu5 circumstances, that it hap- 
in the njivis-t tfa \;.\n:»Ii?.-a»9i-'fi in ihr Aiijirk^Saxdn jmrliamcnt, in which 
fan* future* jv.. w\r an! fi-ftty mrv at flake; that it follnui-d a pn^ciding 
lamrntar}- di«r>ite which had l>een ilrcmatically and not uillin^'ly decided In 
&vour, li)- mu?t have liecn either miracle or fr.imlulent contrivance ; and 
by the afflfctin? catastrophe, ail future oppusiiion to his measures were 


silenced. ** Tbii miracle gave peace to the archbishop." The historical autho- CHAP, 
ritics referred to do not pretend that it was an accident ; they declare that it was yil. 
supernatural. Edwuti 

The evidence thus far will create in many minds an irresistible suq>icion against the liartyr. 
him. But, however justly this may seem to be entertained, we must still recollect ■ 
that the impeaching deductions of history are not actual evidence, and do not of 
themselves justify a positive charge of decided guilt. This charge arises from the 
account of two other authors, who are not the enemies, but the admirers and 
biographers, of Dunstan, and who detail these facts as articles of their warm 

There are two lives of this singular man, as ancient as any of the preceding 
chronicles, and written by persons who in their own days were respectable. These 
were Osbeme^the friend and counsellor of the archbishop Lanfianc, a great 
admirer of Dunstan ; and Eadmer, a disciple of Anselm, the successor of Lanfranc 
Osbeme lived about a century after Dunstan, and Eadmer a little later ; they detail 
the following account : — 

0:)beme, after mentioning the deciding effect of the speaking cmciflz, states that 
his opponents ** taking Beomhelm a Scottish bishop as a defender of their iniquity, 
a man almost unconquerable, both in his ingenuity, and in his loquacity, pressed 
on Dunstan in the town called Calne, and proposed their scandal with a swelling 
spirit Dunstan, broken by age and ecclesiutioU labours, had laid aside all things 
but prayer. Tet, lest the wicked party, defeated before by a divine miracle should 
now boast of obtaining a victory, he darted this answer upon his enemies : * Since 
you did not in such a lapse of time bring forward your accusation, but now that I 
am old and cultivating taciturnity, seek to disturb me by these antiquated com- 
plaints, I confess that I am unwilling that you should conquer me. I commit the 
cause of his church to Christ as the judge.* He spoke, and the wrath of the angry 
Deity corroborated what he said ; for the house was immediately shaken ; the 
chamber was loosened under their feet; his enemies were precipitated to the 
ground, and oppressed by the weight of the crushing timbers. But, where the 
saint was reclining toUh hit friends, there no ruin occurred.** Osb. AngL Sax. 
vol. ii. p. 112. 

EADMsa. — His editor, Wharton, remarks that he had never seen Osbeme*8 
work ; but like him had drawn his facts fh)m some more ancient author. Eadmer, 
therefore, stands before us not as a copyist of Osbeme, but as an independent nar- 
rator of what he has recorded. After mentioning Be<ytihelm's opposition, Eadmer 
thus states Dunstan*8 final reply, and its consequences : — 

** ' This calumnia which you are agitating has been already settled by the Divine 
voice ; nor do we think it should be again recalled into a new conflict I, indeed, 
am aged ; and I desire to pass the remainder of my life, which, I am aware, cannot 
be long, in peace, if it be possible. I have laboured as long as I have been able. 
Now, unfitted for all toil, I commit to the Lord Gk>d the cause of his church, to 
be defended against the insurgent enemies.' He spoke, and, lo, the floor under the 
feet of those who had come together against him fell from beneath them, and all 
where alike precipitated ; but where Dunstan stood with his friends no ruin of the 
bouse, no accident happened.** Yit Dunst Anglia Sax. vol. ii. p. 220. 

Capgrave gives the words that are so remarkable in Osbeme, with this slight 
change, ** I confess that I am unwiUing to be conquered,^* Leg. Nov. fol. 94. 

It is this speech of Dunstan, which implies that he expected some extraordinary 
event to follow it, that would benefit his side of the question, and it is also the 
alleged preservation of his supporters, as well as of himself, without which it would 
not have served him, which prevents us from ascribing the calamity to any acci- 
dent, and which attach to Dunstan the charge of a foreknowlege of what was to 
ensue. Such a foreknowlege must have been either a miracle or a premeditated 
Tillany. That the parts of the floor on which his opponents were placed should 
only fall, while the station of himself and his upholders remained safe, would justify 
any one for believing that the destmction was not a natural casualty. But the 
speech fixes on Dunstan a personal foresight, which warrants an historian for con- 
necting him with the planning and with the perpetration of the crime. The 
above evidence is all that now remains on this sulgect ; and every reader must 



BOOK determine fh>m it for himself, whether it is most probable that this catastrophe 

VI. was the result of accident, miracle, or crime. That the chroniclers do not detail 

Edward ^^^ speech like the two biographers is not extraordinary, because they omit all the 

the Martyr, other speeches which were made on this angry discussion. But Osberne and 

- Eadmer, who have transmitted to us this speech, record it as the accounting cause 

of what followed, and as indicating the event to have been the Divine answer to hb 

appeal. They insert it for no hostile purpose, nor obtrusively, but as a regular 

part of the real transaction. There is a particularity in their both mentioaing a 

Scottith prelate as the eloquent adversary whom the saint thus endeavoured to 

refute, which Norman or Saxon monks were not likely to have invented. My own 

inference is, that there is no more reason to doubt the authenticity of Uiis speech 

than of any other of Dunstan's extraordinary actions. 

I have looked Into the two most ancient lives of him, those of Athelard and 
Bridferth, to see if either Osberne or Eadmer have been peculiarly credulous, or 
more inclined to the marvellous than their predecessors on Dunstan*s biography. 
But I And in Atiiklard an account that Dunstan, one night when he was over- 
come with sleep at his vigils, was rapt up, as it were, into heaven, and heard the 
saints hymning the Trinity, and singing " Kyrie deisom,** or, ** Lord have meiry 
upon usl** He also narrates, that as the prelate was one day sitting with his 
attendants engaged in some manual work, his harp that was hanging on the wall 
began playing of itself, and, though untouched, performed the whole antiphon of 
** Gaudent in ccdis " to the very end. Bridferth, who declares that he was per- 
sonally acquainted with Dunstan, outdoes even these fancies ; for he mentions, 
Uiat as the saint was one night in his cloisters, Satan came to him in the shaggy 
form of a horrid bear ; being driven away, he returned in the figure of a dog ; 
again expelled, he came back as a viper ; and being forced out, he burst in once 
more as a furious wolf. This tale is soon followed by another, that as Dunstan 
once fcli asleep fh)m fatigue, before the altar of St. George, the devil came to him 
like a rugged bear, and, placing his paws on each shoulder, opened his jaws to 
devour him ; when he fortunately awoke, shook him off, struck at him with his 
staff, and, by chanting the 68th Psalm, drove him away. After this, a great stone 
was hurled at him, which carried away with it his cap ; and this he ascribed to the 
evil l)eing. 

lie seems to have been distinguished for his intercourse with devils and for hii 
power of discerning them ; for as he was travelling with a nobleman to a royal 
banquet, he suddenly perceived his enemy running playfully about among the 
royal trumpeters ; he bade the dux, who saw nothing, make the sign of the cross 
on his eyes, who then beheld a devil leaping about in the shape of a little black 
man. It was from seeing him again wandering among the servants of the house- 
hold, that he declared the king would die in three days ; and he beheld him a 
third time carrying great rolls of writing in his hands, at the very moment when 
his soverelgu Edmund was passing f^om mass to the banquet in which he was 
stabbed. These tales must have been invented for him, or told by himself ; if the 
latter, we must suppose either that he had a diseased imagination, or that he wilfully 
fabricated them. 

From these narratives of Bridferth and of Athelard, the contemporaries of Dun- 
stan, we have a right to say, that there is no anile credulity nor peculiar love of the 
marvellous In Osberne in what he relates, more than in any other of the Catholic 
hagiographers. All these report analogous improbabilities in greater or less number. 
Even the popes have distinguished themselves in this line of narration ; for no 
miracles exceeded those recorded by Gregory the Great, in his Dialogues, and by 
Calixtus II. in his Miracles of St. James. All the Catholic clergy not only accredit 
the miracles of their saints, but even build an argument for the superiority of their 
church upon their occurrence. The late Dr. Milner's works display fully as much 
of that quality, which has been called anile credulity in Osberne, as those of this 
now depreciated biographer. With every desire to be as impartial as I can be, I 
see, therefore, no sufficient reason for discrediting this portion of their friendly 



Review of the State and History q/* Denmark and Norway at the 
Accession of Ethelred, and of the last Stage of the Northern 

As the second year of the reign of Ethelred was dis- chap. 
tinguished by the re-appearance of those enemies ^"- 
whom the courage and wisdom of Alfred and his 
successors had subdued or driven from the English 
coasts, and who now succeeded in obtaining the 
English crown, it is expedient that we should turn 
our eyes upon the Baltic, and inquire what nations 
and what sovereigns possessed at this time the means 
of such formidable aggressions. 


The history of Denmark, from the death of Rag- The state of 
nar Lodbrog to the accession of Harald Blaatand, or ^'*™"^ 
Blue Tooth, is confused and inaccurate.^ Harald 
was the son of Gormo the Aged, and Thyra the 
Saviour of Denmark. He acceded in 936, on his 
father's demise. He suffered from a calamitous in- 
vasion of Jutland by the emperor Otho^, who mar- 
ried Athelstan's sister. 

He built the famous city of Jomsburg^ near the city of 
great Pomeranian lake, made by three rivers in their •^°"*^'*^' 

* The conftuion of this part of Danish history was observed and complained of 
by Adam of Bremen. ** Tanti autem reges, iromo tyranni Danorum, utrum simul 
allqui regnaverunt, an alter post alteruro brevi tempore vixit incertum est,** c. zlir. 
p. 1 7. Many chronicles and histories have appeared since Adam's time, but they 
have only made the confusion of the period more visible to all who collate their 

* To protect Denmark from the Germans, he completed the celebrated trench 
and wall called Dannewirke. See Snorrc*8 description of it, voL i. p. 217. ; and 
see Stephanius, 199 — 201. 

' Sazo, 182. 


242 niSTOHY OF tue 

BOOK conflux to the sea. This city became very distin- 
» guished for the courage of its inhabitants, their de- 

predations and opulence.* It was perhaps the only 
instance in the world of a government of pirates.^ 
Its first legislator, Palnatoko, enacted it as one of his 
laws, that no man should live at Jomsburg who 
breathed a word of fear, or who showed the least 
apprehension, in the most critical danger.^ Their 
depredations were conducted on a principle of equa- 
lity ; for all the plunder, whether small or great, was 
brought to the spear and divided.^ The modern 
WoUin, which has succeeded the ancient city, is not 
one-thirtieth part of its size. Ploughs now cut the 
soil on which splendid buildings stood. It became 
the emporium of the North. It was the last state of 
the North which admitted Christianity. All nations 
but Christians, who were interdicted on pain of death, 
were allowed to inhabit it, and each people had a 
separate street. They were idolaters, and for the 
most part polygamists.^ Their riches at last intro- 
duced factions, disorders, and civil fury, till Wal- 
demar took and destroyed it in 1170.^ 

Harald Blaatand had a successful war with Haco 
of Norway, but towards the close of his life, the dis- 
content of his subjects ^^ enabled his son Svein to 

* See Bartholin, 446. 

* Inter omnes vero Yikingos quos taistorls nostrs celebrant famosisBimi erant 
Jomsviklngr dlcti qui JuUnl ollm Jomsburg sedem flzam et rempablicam certls ac 
firmis Icgibus conititutam habebant Wormlus Mon. Dan. 270. 

* Jomsviklngr Saga, c. xW., dted by Bartholin, p. 3. This Saga gives a curious 
aocoont of the answers of eight men of Jomsburg who were captives, on their 
being brought out to be slaughtered. Bartholin, 41 — 51. If they can be credited, 
they evince a horrible fearlessness. They were taken prisoners in a great invasion 
of Norway by their countrymen. Snorre narrates the aggression, pp. 231 — 240. » 
and gives extracts from the Scallds who mention it 

' Bartholin gives extracts from the Hirdskra and the Jomsviklngr Saga, on this 
p. 16. 

the descriptions of Munster and Chrytcus, dted by Stephanius, 197, 198. 
was so interested by it, as to make a particular survey of its site and 


ndent Svcno Aggo thus mentions its fate : ** Whose walls I Sveno beheld 
to tlie grmmd by the archbishop Absalom,** c iv. p. 51. 
p. 51. 8axo^p.l85. 


commence an unnatural warfare against him.^^ Svein chap. 
required of his father a share of his dominions.^^ . ^^^ . 
This demand being refused, he pretended to be col- 
lecting a fleet against the pirates, and with this sur- 
prised Harald. The old king fled to Normandy with 
sixty ships, and the son of Rolla entertained him 
hospitably, until he prepared a fleet capable of re- 
gaining his kingdom.^^ A reconciliation for a while 
suspended the immoral war^^, and Harald gratefully 
returned to Richard of Normandy the aid which he 
had received from his father.^^ The conflict was 
soon renewed between Harald and Svein, whose 
tutor, Palnatoko, in revenge of an injury ^^ which he 
had endured, stabbed Harald. The wounded king 
fled to Jomsburg, where he soon died, in 985.^^ 

Svein, who has received the surnames of Otto svein'* 
from the emperor Otho, and Tiugoskegg from the "**^ 
shape of his beard, became now the undisputed 
master of a throne, which he had so foully earned. 
His life was romantic; but at a period when the 
manners of society, viewed with the eye of reason, 
seem unnatural and distorted, the actions will be 
often extravagant. He was three times taken pri- 
soner by the Jomsburgers, and was three times re- 
deemed. His last liberation was accomplished by 
the generosity of that sex whose pity is never asked 

" Adam. Brem. 26. ^ Snorre, vol. 1. p. 229. 

^ Will. Gemmet. lib. iii. c. 9. p. 237. Pontanus dates IIarald*8 arrival In Nor- 
mandy in 943. Hist. Dan. lib. v. p. 135. 

" Will. Oemmet lib. iv. c. 9. p. 243. Sveno mentions the agreement, though, 
in his additions to it, I think he confuses several distinct incidents. 

" Dudo, lib. iii. p. 122. Gemmet. p. 246. 

^ This ii^ury, as related by Saxo, p. 184., is the story of William Tell and 
Gelsler. Toko was a famous archer, and boasted of his skill. Harald bid him 
with his first arrow, on pain of death, pierce an apple on his son*8 head. Toko, 
compelled to obey, exhorted his sdh not to stir. He took out three arrows. The 
first was successful. The king inquired why three arrows. — "To have shot you 
If I had killed my son.** Saxo lived long before William Tell. 

" Saxo, 186. ; and see Ad. Brem. 25., Helmoldus, p. 14., Snorre and 2 Langb. 
149., for some variation in the circumstances. I take the date from the ancient 
Icelandic annals. 2 Langb. 189. 

B 2 


BOOK in vain ; whom nature has made lovely in person, 
' but still more lovely in heart. ^® 

New misfortunes divested the ill-gotten crown of 
its expected charms. Eric, the prevailing king in 
Sweden, invaded Scania, and after many battles 
expelled Svein, and for many years remained the 
master of the Danish isles.^^ 

The exiled Svein fled humbly to Tryggva of Nor- 
way, but was disdainfully spurned. England was 
his next resource, but Ethelred, offended at incur- 
sions of the Northmen, with which he had been 
harassed, would not admit him. He then sailed to 
Scotland, and there met an asylum, and a hospitable 
friend.^^ He resided there fourteen years. 

On the death of his enemy he returned to Den- 
mark, but was driven out again by the son of Eric, 
who at last reinstated him, and gave him Syritha 
his mother in marriage.^^ Soon after this period 
England felt his power. 


Haco's Haco the Good was reigning in the time of Athel- 

"**"* Stan. His character is interesting and great ; his 
hilarity of mind was peculiar ; his eloquence, his 
prudence, and his modesty were equally distin- 
guished. Peace, with her abundance and felicity, 
blessed both the agriculturist and the merchant of 
Norway during his reign, and he was diligent in his 
legislation. Two laws are particularised which h^ 
made, like the Anglo-Saxon kings, with the advice of 

*" On these Incidents, see Saxo, 186. ; Sveno, 54. ; Chron. Erici, 298. ; Adam 
Brem. 26. Saxo and Sveno mention, that in grateful return, the ladies were pre- 
sented with a law entitling them to a share of their paternal property, fh)m which 
till then they had been excluded. 

** Ad. Brem. c. IxxiL p. 26. Frag.Isl. 2 Langb. 150. Saxo, 188. 

* Ad. Brem. p. 27. says, Thrucco of Norway. Saxo, his son Olave, p. 189. 
Saxo, and Hector Boethlus, mention Edward as the English king. This is wrong. 
Adam is correct in stating Ethelred, who began his reign in 978. 

'* Adam, p. 28. ; and see Saxo, 1 89. 



his wisest men.^ Among others, he provided for chap. 
the defence of the maritime regipns of Norway by a « — , — » 
sort of coast militia. The country on the shore, and 
as far up the river as sahnon ascended, he divided 
into provinces, and these into territories, each of 
which was to be provided with a definite number of 
war-ships, of a stated size. The population of the 
district was to be always ready to act in these vessels 
whenever a hostile force drew near.^^ To give cele- 
rity to their movement he established a sort of tele- 
graph. On high mountains, piles of wood of the 
largest trees, to be fired on exigency, were so placed 
as to be visible from mountain to mountain ; by 
these means in seven days the news was transmitted 
from one end of Norway to the other.^^ 

Haco retaliated the invasion of the Danes on 
Vikia, by driving them into Halland and Jutland.-^ 
He passed into Zealand with successful outrage, took 
eleven Vikingr ships, and obtained great booty from 
the island ; he then turned his conquering arms upon 
Scania, and even ventured to attack, with equal good 
fortune, the Swedish province of Gothland. In the 
following autumn he returned to Vikia with an im- 
mense burden of booty .^^ 

Harald Blaatand, who at this time ruled Denmark, 
beheld, with unavailing displeasure, the desolating 
victories of Haco. To humble the Norwegian, he 
.admitted into his kingdom the children of Eric, the 
expelled king of Norway, whom Haco had succeeded, 
whom Athelstan had received into Northumbria, and 

° Snorre Hakonar Goda, p. 135. " Ibid. p. 146. 

** Ut in montll)U8 excelsis ex ingentibus arboribus pyrs ita struerentur (s. augari) 
ut ab una pyra ad alteram focilis et liber esset prospectus. Excitatus hoc pacto 
hostilis irruptionls nuntius, a prima in extremo regni ad meridiem angulo extructa 
pyra, ad remotis^imum boream versus publlcorum comitiorum in Halogalandia 
locum 7 dierum spatio volitasse fertur. Snorre Hakonar Goda, xxL p. 146. 

^ The Scalld Guthornir Sindrl records this invasion in his llakonar Drapa. 
Snono has quoted one of his verses. Saga ilak. c. vi. p. 131. 

^ Saga Ilak. c. vii. pp. 132, 133. 

B 3 


BOOK who at last had perished there. Harald gave them 
- possessions, and permitted them to pirate.^^ Thus 

encouraged and supported* the sons of Eric assailed 
Ilaco-'^; but the star of his prosperity still continued 
to beam. 

llaoo had long cherished a love for Christianity 
in secret. When he thought his power consolidated, 
he sent to England^ for ecclesiastics capable of 
teaohinsr the roliirion to the Norwe<]:ians. On their 
arrival he avowed his wishes, and exhorted the 
nation, in a public assembly* to adopt his faith ; but 
he exiK^ienceil from the peasantry such a decided 
oppi>sition, that he wiis even compelled by them to 
assist in their idolatrous sujK^rstitions.*^ 

Tryggvi, the si'^n of one of those children of Harald 
llarfnigiv who fell by the hostilities of their brother 
Eric, so often mentioneil in this historv. obtained 
fwnn Hakon the Gooil some little principalities to- 
wanls the south of Norwav, for which he assisted 
Hakon against his enemies, the children of Eric.^^ 
These restless enemies were frequently assaulting 
Ilakon with various devices, but he reigned prosper- 
ously for twenty years.^ 
961. At last IlaraUK the eldest of these sons of Eric, 

surprised Hakon at a disadvantage. He fought Avith 
his usual success, but a dart wounded him under the 
arm. He retinxl to his ship ; no art could stop the 
blood, and Hakon the Good sunk gradually into 
death. Friends and enemies enshrined his memory 
with a general lamentation. The exclamation was 
unanimous, that no king, his equal in virtue, would 

^^^^^^ S^t Hal 

S«9t Hak. c z. p. 134. » IbUl. c xx. p. 14o. 

in Ang lia m dudUIs. Epucopos aliotque doctoivs Mx»si¥it post quonim 
adTentum mentem suam aprniit rex Hakoniuc Soonv, p. 13S. 
139—143. « Ibid. 121—135. 

«■• €€ Ike adMnici to bafle the effect of Hakoo*t triegraphs. Snome, 


again bless Norway.^ Eywind the Scald has chap. 
honoured his memory Avith an ode, which gives dig- > 

nity to the character of Norwegian poetry.^ The ••^* 
civilisation of every country has been of such tardy 
vegetation, that such kings as Hakon must be hailed 
with blessings, for to them the precious plant owes 
principally its preservation and progress during these 
dark and stormy ages. 

On Hakon's death the sons of Eric predominated 
in Norway, and their mother Gunillda shared in the 
government; but they held at first only the middle 
regions, for three others were governing in other 
parts of Norway; as Tryggvi in the south-east; 
Gudrod in Westfold; and Sigurd Jarl in Thrond- 

Gunillda stimulated her sons to destroy Sigurd 
Jarl, as a step to the monarchy of Norway. Her 
soliciting prevailed. The brother of Sigurd was se- 
duced to conspire against him. The Jarl was sur- 
prised at a feast, and burnt alive, with the edifice, 
two years after Hakon's death. ^^ 

The indignant people of Throndheim chose Hakon, 
sumamed the Jarl, the son of Sigurd, their leader, 
and frustrated the ambition of the sons of Gunillda. 
Many battles ensued: it was at last settled that 
Hakon should enjoy Throndheim, and the other 
kings were to possess the rest of the dominions of 
Hakon the Good.^^ 

** Snorre, 155 — 161. One of his last actions was to request the sons of Eric 
to spare his fHends and relations, p. 160. The Icelandic Annals place his death in 
961. 2Langb. 188. 

»• Snorre, 161 — 165. This fine Runic ode is better known by the name of the 
Elegy or Eulogium of Ilakon. 

" Snorre Saga af Haralldi Graffeld oc Ilakoni Jarli, p. 165. Glimr the scalld of 
Haralld, by his verses, excited Eyvindr to an emulating eulogium of Hakon. This 
offended Haralld, but his displeasure was appeased by Eyvindr becoming his scalld, 
and resounding his fame, 166. 

** Snorre, 170 — 173. Sigurd had greatly assisted in the elevation of Hakon the 
Good, who, in return, made him Jarl of Throndheim. He is called by Snorre th# 
wisest of the Norwegians, 125. 

" Snorre, p. 175. 

« 4 



BOOK The future enmities between Hakon Jarl and the 
r sons of Eric need not be detailed.^ They enabled 

9^ Harald Blaatand to subject Norway, who sometimes 
was the friend, and sometimes was the enemy of 
Hakon Jarl.^^ This prince, who has come down to 
us with a fame so eclipsed as to be called Hakon the 
Bad, became at last the monarch of Norway.^ After 
a life of great warlike exertions, he fell in his age, 
before a new com[>etitor for the movable crown ; this 
was Olave the son of Tryggva. The aggressions of 
Olave on England connect his actions with the reign 
of Ethelred, and demand a corner in the history of 
the Anglo-Saxons. The little sketch Avill forcibly 
express the state of manners in these districts. 
Life of In 969, Tryggva his father suflFered that death of 

Tryggva's violcuce ^^ which usually closed the lives of those in- 
habitants of the North who stepped out of the path 
of industry into the adventures of heroism. His 
widow fled, pregnant with Olaf, and he was bom on 
an island in the lake where she was concealed.^^ In 
his childhood he was captured by Eastern pirates, 
and was sold. He was afterwards purchased and 
carried to Russia.^ He was there brought up by 
Waldemar, who employed him in his army. 

His favour declining, he quitted the Russian court, 
sailed to the Baltic, and settling in the isle of Born- 
holm, he began the dismal profession of a vikingr.*^ 
After marrying a queen, on whose coast he landed, 

** See Soorre, 1 75 — 1 84., and also his Saga of Olasi Tryggva, 1 95 — 203. Snorre 
adduces Ara Frode as an evidence on this sulyect. 

• Snorre, 202, 203. 230. 
^ Ibid. 245. In Hakon's reign Greenland was discovered and colonised by 

the Icelanders. Eric the Red first saw and gave it that name, in hopes that a 
country with an epithet so pleading might attract settlers. He found the traces of 
men both in the east and west regions, et assamenta fracta et lapidarum opera unde 
cognoscerent quod ejus generis ibi vlxerunt qui Vinlandiam incoluerint et quos 
Islandi vocant Screlingos. Ara Frode, c. vi. p. 40. 

^* Snorre, p. 177. Island. Ann. 2 Langb. 189. 

" Snorre Saga, Olafs Tryg. c L p. 187. 

• Snorre, 192, 193. *« Ibid. 211—213. 


But although this warrior was daring every danger 
that storms and battles could present, his rigid heart 
was found penetrable by the shafts of love. A 
princess of Dublin had promised her chiefs to choose 
a husband : they assembled that she might select, 
and Olaf, though uninvited, joined the meeting. The 
movements of the tender passions are more eccentric 
than the wanderings of the heathy meteor. Clothed 
in rough garments, made to keep off rain, and 
wrapped in a hairy gown, the figure of Olaf was not 
the vision of a cupid. But it was uncouth; and 
when Gyda's eye roved anxiously around, it arrested 
her notice: "Who are you?'* — "Olaf, a stranger/' 
It was enough ; and if Snorre has not slandered the 
lady, love, instantaneous love, supplied every other 
explanation. With all the simplicity of rude nature, 
she exclaimed, " If you desire me for your 'wife, I 
will choose you for my husband." 

Olaf was, however, less impetuous or less philoso- 
phical than the lady. He had the caution to inquire 
who she was, her name, and parentage : she declared 

^ Snorre, 215. «• Ibid. 221, 222. ^ Ibid. 223, 224. 



he commenced depredations on Scania and Gothland.^^ chap. 
On her death he extended the scene of his piracy, 
and Friesland, Saxony, and Flanders, mourned his 
visitations. From these the unwearied sea-kin<? 
turned towards England, and attacked Northumbria. 
As fortunate as enterprising, he made Scotland, the 
Hebrides, Ireland, Wales, Cumbria, and Normandy, 
feel the exertions of his valour.*^ 

Great and ardent spirits are liable to be impressed 
by the peculiar and the interesthig. Olaf, anchoring 
once off the Scilly isles, was converted to Christianity 
by the lessons of a hermit, whose age and seclusion 
had won from the rude population the fame of a 


BOOK her birth, and Olaf contemplated her again. She 
' was young and beautiful. At last his tardy sensi- 
bility was kindled, and he became her husband, after 
conquering a rival.^ 

The reputation of Olaf roused the crafty and cruel 
mind of Hakon the Bad, who sent a favourite to 
discover and to circumvent him.'*^ But Hakon's dis- 
orderly passions had offended the chiefs whose families 
he had dared to violate, and they were in insurrection 
against him, when Olaf, led by his pretended friend, 
was approaching Norway. Hakon had fled before 
the chiefs when Olaf landed. The Norwegians 
eagerly placed the crown on his head, as a descendant 
of Harald Harfragre ; and thus, in 995, Olaf became 
the monarch of Norway.^ 

One of Olaf's most zealous occupations was, to 
convert Norway. He proceeded, with his desire, 
from province to province, and at last accomplished 
it, but by methods repugnant to that freedom of mind 
which is man's dearest birthright, and as odious to 
the spirit and lessons of Christianity as the Paganbm 
he abolished.^^ 

Ethelred is stated to have sent the archbishop of 
York and two priests to Sweden to convert the 
natives. Olaf was baptized by him.^^ 
Last stage Harald Harfragre had pursued the vikingr with a 
piracy. pcrscvcrance which promised to annihilate the custom, 
but on his death they flourished again. His son 
Eric, after his deposition, occupied his summers in 
depredations on the British islands to maintain his 

« Snorre, 225, 226. • Ibid. 246. 

*» Ibid. 247—253. Hakon the Bad was killed in his hiding-place. I take the 
date from the Isl. Ann. 190. 

" Snorre, 258 — 266. Among Olaf 's Voyages, Snorre mentions his expedition 
to Vinland. As this was a country west of Greenland, it is obvious that the Nor- 
wegians or their colonies discovered and settled in part of North Araeiioa in this 
tenth century. 

" Locc. Hist. S. p. 62. ; and Ver. Suio-Goth. p. 60. 


associates.^ In the reign of Edmund they again char 
abounded, and made the Hebrides their resort.^ On 
Eric's death his sons passed their winters on the 
Orkney and Shetland isles, but devoted their summers 
to piracies on Scotland and Ireland.^ The Northern 
kings sometimes sailed against them with fleets of 
punishment to revenge aggressions on their own 
dominions. Thus Hakon the Good attacked eleven 
vikingr in Oresound, and hanged all those whom he 
met off Scania ^ ; but no combined system existed of 
repressing them. The practice, though from the 
rise of monarchies it was less frequent, had not yet 
excited the decided abhorrence of the northern so- 
ciety ; therefore Harald Blaatand ^^ of Denmark, and 
Tryggvi Gudrawd, and Harald Graffeld, three kings 
in Norway, indulged themselves in the practice.^ 

Olaf the son of Tryggvi was a sort of new Ragnar 
Lodbrog, in the activity, extent, and success of his 
marauding exploits. Bornholm, Scania, Gothland, 
Friesland, Saxony, Flanders, Normandy, and all the 
British islands, suffered from his presence.^^ The 
son of Hakon Jarl was a sea-king, whose summers 
were devoted to enterprises as fearless ^ ; but it is 
needless to multiply instances. The vikingr, who 
have been mentioned, were men of rank in their so- 
ciety, who flourished between 930 and 1000; and 
their habits show, that, notwithstanding the checks 
which the direful custom had experienced, it was 
again becoming prevalent and respectable. 

But yet while piracy was revivifying, other habits 

" Snorre, p. 128. »• Ibid. 

** Tunc autem Orcades et Hialldtlandiam suae ditionis fecere Eiriki fllii, census 
inde percipientes, ibique per hyemes commorantes. Per sstates autem mare ocd- 
dentale piratica infesUm reddidere praedas agentes circa littora Scotiie atque Hlber- 
nia*. Snorre, p. 130. 

*• Snorre, p. 132. *' Saxo Grammat 18a 

■* Snorre, 136—177. * Sec before. 

•• Snorre, 295. 



^v?'^ were also growing up which were destined to de- 
stroy it. 

The continuance of piracy had a tendency to pre- 
clude all traffic ; but wherever profit is seen to glitter, 
though danger guard every avenue, and the spectre 
of death even hovers over the path, men ^vill hasten 
to tread it, and dare the chances of its evils. Rude 
as the Northmen were in manners, arts, and virtues, 
they wanted commodities from each other, which the 
productive industry or resources of any one place 
could not supply. Hence skins for clothing were 
carried from Iceland to Norway.^^ Fish, cattle, and 
corn, their food, were often, from partial famines, 
required to be interchanged.^^ Hemp, or seal skins, 
or whale hides, were needed for ropes.^ Captives 
were to be sold, and, of course, slaves to be pur- 
chased ^ ; besides many articles of war and luxury. 

The necessity of conveying from coast to coast the 
wanted commodities turned a part of society into 
merchants : their places of resort became noted. Thus 
Tunsberg in Norway was much frequented by mer- 
chant ships, which came to it not only from the 
adjoining Vikia, and the more northern regions, but 
from Denmark and Saxony.^^ Birca in Sweden was 
another considerable emporium, in which vessels of 
merchandise came from all parts of the Baltic to ac- 
quire or to exchange the necessaries of life ^^, though 
its wealth and excellent harbours perpetually invited 

•» Snorre, 176. 

" Thus the Scalld £y vind, when a funine oppressed Norway, pecora emit fiunllic 
sustentandffi necessaria. He sent his ships to purchase herrings, and for that pur- 
pose parted with his property, and even with his arrows. Snorre, 186. 

« See Ohther's Voyage. 

** Lodinus was a rich man. Acddit quadara testate ut mercatum profectus 
Lodinus navi qus ^us unius erat, mercibus que dives, cursum ad Esthoniam diri- 
geret, ubl per sstatem mercatune operam dedit. Dum celebrantur nundlns ad 
quas comportatse sunt merces omnis generis, ducti etiam multi homines venales, 
p. 256. 

* Tunsbergam plurims tunc mercatoris frequentabant naves tam ex Vikia et 
borealibus regionibus Norwegiee quam ex Dania ct Saxonia. Snorre, 115. 

** Adam. Brem. 18, 19. Helmoldwv, p. 9. Rembert in 1 Langb. 444. 


depredations of the vikingr.^^ Our Dublin was in chap. 
those days much frequented for trade.^ 

It was auspicious to the future predominance of 
civilised liabits that commerce became honourable. 
This circumstance in such an age of general warfare 
is as remarkable as it was beneficial. Perhaps, the 
honour attached to commerce arose partly from the 
vikingr disposing of their spoils themselves, and 
partly from the necessity they felt for the objects of 
traffic. The merchants who ventured to sail through 
such ambushes of pirates could not at first have been 
very numerous, and this rarity gave them increased 
value, and even dignity. In time also kings became 
their patrons. 

Commerce was, however, in such credit, that Biorn 
prince of Westfold, the son of Harald Harfragre, be- 
came a merchant, and by his more warlike brothers 
was distinguished by that title.^^ Others also, of 
illustrious ancestry, were traders, and are mentioned 
for the afiluence acquired by it.^^ 

Traffic being thus respectable, it is no wonder that 
another circumstance arose which operated to sup- 
press piracy. This was the remarkable fact, that the 
two professions of pirate and merchant came in many 
instances to be blended. The same persons were at 
one time roaming to plunder, at another voyaging to 
trade : thus the people of Vikia are described as very 
commercial, at the same time that many of them 
were vikingr."^ Thus the friend whom Hakon the 

*^ Bircani etiam piratarum excunionibiu quorum ibi magna copla ett, tspius 
impregnati. Adara.Brera. 18. 

«■ Hunc Jussit Hakonus Jarl Dubllnum ire roercatorem, id quod plurlmis tunc 

temporis frequcns erat. Snorrc, 246. 

• Biomo regi suae etiam erant naves mercatoriaj quae in commeatu ezteras ad 
regiones, varias res Ingentis pretii que pluraque necessaria videbantur illi advehebant. 
Ilium igitur Navlgatorem aut mercatorcm (farmann eda Kaupmann) nominarunt 
ejus fratres. Snorre, 115. 

'• Snorre, 256, 257. 

^ Ipsl enlm Vikverienses in roercatura erant firequentes in Angliam et Sazoniam 


BOOK Bad had selected to circumvent Olaf, the son of 
Tryggva, had been long a pirate, but he was also a 
merchant, and was employed to visit Dublin in that 
capacity J^ Thus Lodinus, though he had sometimes 
pirated, was a merchant, and in his mercantile cha- 
racter visited Estland.^^ Biom, sumamed the Trader, 
had also practised piracy."* Thus the celebrated men 
of Jomsburg were as eminent for their commercial as 
for their depredatory activity. It was perhaps from 
their martial habits and equipments, arising from 
this alternation of pursuit, that merchants were en- 
abled to combat with the pirates who attacked them.^^ 
They sometimes secured the success of their defen- 
sive exertions by voyaging in companies. 

When we read that the pirates seized every movable 
commodity where they invaded, and destroyed by 
fire the habitations and growing produce of the field, 
when they could not remove it; that part of the 
inhabitants they slew on the spot, and carried away 
the others for slaves, sharing them by lot "^ ; that of 
these captives they killed such as were too old for 
labour, and were therefore unsaleable ^^; and that 
they exposed the others to the public market so un- 
sparingly, that we find, at one time, a queen, pale, 
worn out with fatigue and sufferings, and squalidly 

aut in Flandriam, aut in Daniam : quidara autera piraticam exercebant, hyemis in 
Christianorum terris transigentes. Snorre Saga, daf' s Helga, vol. ii. p. 71. 

" Diu hie in piratica, interdum etiam in mercatura versatus. Snorre, toL L 
p. 240. 

" Scpe ille in mercatura versabatur, interdum etiam in piratica. Snorre, 
yoL i. p. 256. 

'^ Biorno — in piratica parum frequens. Snorre, 115. 

^ Rembert, who lived in the tenth century, mentions a conflict of this sort. 
] Langb. 444. Snorre also mentions a merchant ship which endured a long conflict 
with a sea-Icing, voL L p. 215. So the Niala Saga says, ** Piratis in mercatores tela 
jadentibus, pnelium oritur, hique se pulchre tutantur." Celto Scand. p. 83. This 
was in the year 992. 

" Mare orientem versus sulcantes aggressi pirate quidam Estenses homines cap- 
tivosducunt, bona diripiunt, occisis nonnullis, aliis quos inter se sortiti in servitutem 
abstractfs. Snorre, vol. i. p. 192. 

"" Yisus est Klercono estate jam provectior ThoralAis quam ut servus esse ponet; 
nee laboribus satis idoneus ; quare eum occidit. Ibid. 


clothed^®; and, on another occasion, a prince ^^, cnxp. 
standing up to be purchased like cattle; when we 
see, that from the plentiful supply, so low was the 
price, that Olaf the prince, who afterwards became 
king of Norway, and the invader of England, was 
sold for a garment ^ ; and that a collection of boys 
were disposed of for a fine goat ®^ ; when we discover 
such things to be frequent, it seems absurd to look 
into the North for increased civilisation. 

And yet the happy change was beginning to 
emerge. The principle of improvement was in exist- 
ence, and its vegetation, though slow, was incessant 
and effectual. 

As soon as the vikingr stooped from the pursuit of 
sanguinary glory to collect profit from traffic, piracy, 
as a laudable custom, must have begun to be under- 
mined. It must have received another fatal blow, as 
soon as agriculture became reputable. Though valour 
was still the pride of the day, many chiefs were per- 
petually arising of peaceable and unwarlike habits.^ 
At the period of which we now speak, one Sigurd 
Syr the king, who educated Saint Olave of Norway, 
is particularly described to us as assiduous in his 
domestic occupations ; who often surveyed his fields 
and meadows, and flocks and herds, and who was 
fond of frequenting tlie places where the handicraft 
labours were carried on.^ His pupil, Olave, though 
in the first part of his life he became a sea-king, yet 
among other things was educated to manual arts as 
well as to warlike exercises.^ The sweets of landed 
property and peaceable occupations once experienced, 
the impulse of nature would urge the chiefs to favour 

»• Snoire, p. 256. *• Ibid. 193. 

■• Ibid. •» Ibid. 

" Many of these are noticed in Snorre's Helmskrlngla. 

" Snorre's Saga, Olaf *s Uelga, c. 1. p. 1. and p. 31. 

** Arcum tractandi atque natandl Imprimis peritiu. In pills et misslUbus manu 
jaculandis eximius, ad artes &briles a natura fonnatuB, lynceis que ocolis ad ea 
omnia que vrl ipse vel alii fabricaverant Snorre. Olaf' s Helga, p. I. 


BOOK husbandry, and to induce or to compel a part, ever 
^^ increasing, of the northern population, to pursue the 
labours of the field in preference to war. Every re- 
gular and settled monarch favoured the new habit. 
Though the disorderly reigns which followed Harald 
Harfragre made his law against pirates almost obso- 
lete, yet as soon as the government of Norway became 
established in Saint Olave, he revived the prohibition. 
He forbade all rapine.®^ He enforced his law so 
rigorously, that though the vikingr were the children 
of the most potent chiefs, he punished the offenders 
by the loss of life or limb; nor could prayers or 
money avert the penalty.®^ One of the Canutes was 
equally hostile to the habits of the vikingr. He pro- 
hibited all rapine and violence throughout his king- 
dom, and was highly displeased that Egill should 
have pirated in the summer. "In addicting your- 
self to piracy," said the king, "you have done an 
abominable thing. It is a Pagan custom, and I for- 
bid it." «7 

It was indeed a custom which had been so familiar 
and so extolled, that its suppression was difficult. 
Olaf 's severity against it excited an insurrection in 
his dominions.^ But though interested men strug- 
gled hard to uphold it, the good sense of mankind 
awaking, however tardily, to their real interests, 
was combating against it. The benefits emanating 
from the cultivation of agriculture were announced 
with impressive admonition to all, by the dismal 
famines which at times occurred. The augmented 
power, the more striking dignity, and the permanent 
happiness accruing to the chiefs from a numerous 
clan of quiet peasantry, from the annual riches ot 
tillage, and from the mercantile importation of every 
other luxury ; the lessons, though rude, of their new 

• Snorre, torn. I p. 316. •• Ibid. 316. 

» Knytlinga Saga, ap. Bartholin, 453. » Snorre, p. 317. 


Christian clergy ; the natural indolence and quietude chap. 
of human nature, when permitted to follow its own . — , — • 
tendencies, and when freed from the goading stings 
of want, by the fruitful harvests of regular labour ; 
must have alienated a large part of the northern 
society from the practice of their ancestors, and must 
have made piracy, in an accumulating ratio, un- 
popular and dishonourable. Human reason is never 
slow to amend its erring associations, whence once a 
new beam of light occurs to it ; and nothing can more 
strongly paint the progressive change of manners, 
than the rapid degradation of the meaning of the 
word vikingr. At first designating a soldier, it be- 
came appropriated by pirates, when every warrior 
pirated. But now that the condemning voice of 
society was rising against rapine, the vikingr hast- 
ened fast to become a synonyme of the robber.®^ Poets, 
who often stamp the morals of ages, and who always 
influence the population of the day, began to brand 
it with that opprobrium, which, from their numbers, 
falls with the most deterring effect,^ 

The improved feelings of society on this subject 
could not accumulate without communicating some 
contagion to the vikingr themselves. Though the 
novel sentiment might be unable to annihilate their 
evil habits, it awakened, in their fierce bosoms, a 
little sense of moral distinction ; it compelled them 
to seek some shield of merit to avert that most ter- 
rible of all ills, the contempt and hatred of the society 
to which we belong. They began to feel that it was 

** The editors of the Ounnlaugi Saga give many examples of this, pp. 298 — 300. 
"'Thus Sighvatr, the scalld of Olave, sang : 

Rapina* ita pati isti homines sus 

Pffinam debuere — 

Scclestorum genus et nequam homlnum, 

Hie sic furta est amolitus. 

Sexcentb jussit patris temc 

Custos, armis et gladiis pncscidi 

Piratis et hostibus capita regni Snoire, 316. tom. iL 



^y?^ not honourable for a brave man to prey upon the 
peaceful merchant, who feeds and benefits his con- 
temporaries, nor to murder the unoffending pas- 
senger whom various necessities enforce to roam. 
A new sort of pirates then appeared more suitable to 
the new-born morality of their feelings, and to the 
mental revolutions of the day. The peculiar and 
self-chosen task of these meritorious warriors was to 
protect the defenceless navigator, and to seek and 
assail the indiscriminate plunderer.^^ The exact 
chronology of these new characters is not clear, but 
they seem reasonably to belong to the last age of 
piracy. Their existence was, above all laws, effi- 
cacious in destroying piracy. They executed what 
society sighed for, and what wise kings enacted ; and 
their appearance must have hastened the odium of 
the indiscriminate pirate, who became gradually 
hunted down as the general enemy of the human 
race. It is pleasing to read of this distinction in so 
many authors. Some men associated with the so- 
lemnity of an oath, that they would in piracy acquire 
money honourably, because they would exterminate 
the bersekir and the malignant, and give safety to 
the merchant.^^ So others pursued piracy to deprive 
the plundering vikingr of the spoil they had torn 
from the husbandman and merchants.^^ With the 
same character, Eric the Good is exhibited in the 
Knytlinga Saga.^^ 

By the laws of the pirate Hialmar, we see that 
they bound themselves to protect trade and agricul- 
ture, not to plunder women, nor to force them to 
their ships if unwilling, nor to eat raw flesh, which 
was the practice of the savage pirate.^^ 

•' See the Torsteins Saga, ap. Verelius. Herv. Saga, 47. 
^ Bua Siiga, ap. Barth. 457. ^ The Vatzdsla, ap. Bartb. 458. 

** Knytlinga Saga, ap. Barth. 452. 

^ Bartholin states these laws from the Orvar Oddr Sogu, p. 456. ; and see the 
laws of the sea-khig Half, another of this band of naval chivahry, in Bartho. 455. 


On the whole, we may state, that after the tenth chap. 
century piracy became discreditable; and that in ■ 
every succeeding reign it approached nearer to its 
extinction, until it was completely superseded by the 
influence of commerce, the firmer establishment of 
legal governments, improved notions of morality, and 
the experience of the superior comforts of social 
order, industry, and peaceful pursuits. 

Sazo also describes another set of heroes, who, in the following age, fought against 
the common pirates, lib. ziv. p. 259. 

8 2 





Ethelred the Unready, 

Ethelred succeeded on his brother's assassination; 
but the action which procured his power was too 
atrocious to give all the effect to the policy of his 
adherents which had been projected. Dunstan re- 
tained his dignity, and at least his influence ; for 
what nation could be so depraved as to patronise a 
woman who, at her own gate, had caused her king 
and son-in-law to be assassinated ! In attempting to 
subvert Dunstan by such a deed, she failed. After 
no long interval, he excited the popular odium, and 
the terrors of guilt, so successfully against her, that 
she became overwhelmed with shame, and took shel- 
ter in a nunnery, and in building nunneries, from 
the public abhorrence- 

The reign of Ethelred presents the history of a 
bad govern menti uncorrected by its unpopularity 
and calamities; and of a discontented nation pre- 
ferring at last the yoke of an invader, whose visits 
its nobles either invited or encouraged. In the pre- 
ceding reigns, from Alfred to Edgar, the Anglo- 
Saxon spirit was never agitated by danger, but it 
acted to triumph. By its exertions, a rich and 
powerful nation had been created, which might have 
continued to predominate in Europe with increasino^ 
honour and great national felicity. But within a 
few years after . Ethelred's accession the pleasing 
prospect begins to fade. The tumultuary contests 
in the last reign between the monks and the clergy, 
and their respective supporters, had not had time to 
cease. Dunstan acquiring the direction of the govern- 



mcnt under Ethelred, involved the throne again in chap. 
the conflict, and the sovereign was placed at variance Etheired 
with the nobles and parochial clergy. The measures unr«I!ciy 
of the government were unsatisfactory to the nation. 
The chiefs became factious and disloyal, and the 
people discontented, till a foreign dynasty was at last 
preferred to the legal native succession. 

Etheired was but ten years of age when he at- 
tained the crown. His amiable disposition gave the 
tears of affection to his brother's memory; but El- 
frida could not pardon a sensibility which looked like 
accusation, and might terminate in rebellion to her 
will, and in disappointment to her ambition. She 
seized a waxen candle which was near, and beat the 
terrified infant with a dreadful severity, which left 
him nearly expiring. The anguish of the blows 
never quitted his remembrance. It is affirmed, that 
during the remainder of his life, he could not endure 
the presence of a light.^ Perhaps the irresolution, 
the pusillanimity, the yielding imbecility,, which cha- 
racterised him during his long reign, may have 
originated in the perpetual terror which the guardian- 
ship of such a mother, striving to break his temper 
into passive obedience to her will, on this and other 
occasions, wilfully produced. 

As her power declined, the feelings of the nation 
expressed themselves more decidedly. The com- 
mander of Mercia, and Dunstan, attended by a great 
crowd, went to Wareham, removed the body of the 
deceased sovereign, and buried it with honour at 
Shaftesbury.^ Dunstan might now triumph : though 
his opponents might equal him in daring, they were 
his inferiors in policy. 

After a flow of prosperity uninterrupted for nearly 980. 
a century, England, in the full tide of its strength, 
was insulted by seven Danish ships, which plundered 

> Maimsb. 62. ' Flor. 362. Sax. Chron. 125. 

8 3 





i >. * 



Southampton and Thanet. The same vikingr, in 
the next season, ravaged in Cornwall and Devon- 
shire.^ In the year following, three ships molested 
the isle of Portland.* 

The re-appearance of the Northmen excited much 
conversation at the time.^ Another attempt of the 
same sort was made at Wecedport, where the English 
gained the field of battle, though Goda, the governor 
of Devonshire, and the brave Stenwold, fell. In 
this year Dunstan died.^ He had enjoyed his power 
during the first ten years of Ethelred's reign, but 
the civil dissensions, which he appears to have begun 
and perpetuated, unnerved the strength of the 
country. The vices of the sovereign increased the 

Within three years afterwards, formidable inva- 
sions of the Danes began to occur. A large force, 
commanded by Justin and Gurthmund, attacked 
Ipsmch.^ They advanced afterwards along an un- 
guarded coast, or through an unguarded country, as 
far as Maiden. Byrhtnoth, the governor of Essex, 
collected some forces to oppose them, but he was 
defeated and slain.^ 

* Flor. Wig. 362. Sax. Chron. 125. Tib. R 1. As Olave Tryggrason was at 
this time marauding on the English coast, and at last reached the Scilly iilea, he 
may have been the sea-king who renewed the invasion of England. 

« Flor. 363. Sim. Dun. 161. » Malmsb. 62. 

* Flor. Wig. 364. Sax. Chron. 126. Dunstan died in the year 988. The MS. 
Chron. Tib. B. 1. and B. 4. merely mention his death, without the printed addition 
of his attaining heaven. Slric was consecrated to his see. The preceding year was 
memorable for its diseases. 

* The printed chronicle leaves the place an imperfect blank. The MS. Tib. B. 1. 
and B. 4. have both Oypeswic ; and see Flor. 364. The Ely Chronicle sa]^ that 
at this time frequent irruptions of the Danish pirates occurred on different parts of 
the coast. It represents Bjrrhtnoth as defeating the first invader at Maiden, but 
that another fleet, more numerous, came under Justin, and Outhmund the son of 
Stretan, to revenge the disaster. 3 Gale, p. 493. 

* It is on this event that the narrative poem was composed which Heame printed 
fhmi a Cotton MS. since burnt, and of which Mr. W. Conybeare has published an 
English translation. As it seems to have been written soon after the events it 
narrates, it may be regarded as an historical document for both the manners and 
the incidents it describes. A few extracts will illustrate the character of Byrhtnoth 
as a favourable specimen of the Anglo-Saxon nobility. The herald of the vikingr 
first demanded tribute. The conduct and answer of the Saxon ealderman on this 
request is thus detailed. <* Byrhtnoth upraised his buckler, he shook his slender 



The measure adopted by the government on this 
event, seems to have produced all the subsequent 
calamities. Instead of assembling the nobles with 
an army sufficient to chastise the invaders, the coun- 
cil of Ethelred advised him to buy off the invaders ! 
Siric, the successor of Dunstan, reasoned, that as 
they only came for booty, it would be wiser to give 

javelin ; stern and resolute, he uttered his words, and gave him answer : < Hear, 
thou mariner ! what this people sayeth. Instead of tribute, they will bestow on 
you their weapons, the edge of their spears, their ancient swords and arms of war. 
Herald of the men of ocean ! deliver to thy people a message in return ; a decla- 
ration of high indignation. Say, that an earl with his retainers here stands un- 
daunted, who will defend this land, the domain of my sovereign Ethelred, his 
people and his territory ; and the heathen shall |>erish In the conflict. I shall 
think it dastardly if you should retire to your ships with your booty without joining 
in battle, since you have advanced thus far into our land. Ye t>ha1l not so softly 
win our treasures. The point and edge shall first determine between us in the 
grim game of war before we yield you tribute.' " 

Byrhtnoth was so heroic as to allow the invaders an uninterrupted passage over 
the river before he attacked them. " The invading host began to move. They 
gave orders to advance, to cross the ford, and to lead their trooi>s onwards. The 
earl, meanwhile, in the haughtiness of his soul, gave free permission to many of 
the hostile bands to gain the land unmolested. Thus did the son of Byrthelm 
shout across the cold river : * Warriors, listen I Free space is allowed you. Come 
then speedily over to us. Advance as men to the battle. God alone knows which 
of us is destined to remain masters of the field of slaughter.' " 

The battle ensued. One of the invading leaders fell, and the personal conflict 
of Byrhtnoth with the other is thus described : ♦* The (Danish) chieftain raised 
up his weapon, with his buckler for his defence, and stept forth against that lonl. 
With equal eagerness the earl advanced against the carL Each meditated evil 
against the other. The sea-chief then sped a southern dart, which wounded the 
lord of the army. lie manoeuvred with his shield, so that the shaft burst, and the 
spear sprang back and recoiled. Incensed, the chief pierced with his dart the 
exulting vikingr who had given him that wound. Skilful was the hero ; he caused 
his franca javelin to traverse the neck of the youth, and speedily shot off another, 
so that his mail was pierced. He was wounded in the heart, through its ringed 
chains, and the javelin's point stood in his heart. Then was the earl blithe ; the 
stem warrior laughed, and uttered thanks to his Creator for the work of that day." 

The earl's catastrophe immediately followed his triumph. It is thus narrated : 
*' But then some one of the enemies let fly a dart from his hand, which transfixed 
the noble thane of Ethelred. There stood by his side a youth not fully grown, a 
boy in the field, the son of Wulfstan, Wulfmor the young. He eagerly plucked 
from the chief the bloody weapon, and sent it to speed again on its destructive 
journey. The dart passed on till it laid on the earth him who had too surely 
reached his lord. Then a treacherous soldier approached the earl, to plunder from 
the chieftain his gems, his vestment, and his rings, and his ornamented sword. 
But Byrhtnoth drew from its sheath his battle-axe, broad and brown of edge, and 
smote him on his corslet. Very eagerly the pirate left him when he felt the force 
of the chieftain's arm. But at that moment his large hilted sword drooped to the 
earth. He could no longer hold his hand-glalve nor wield his weapon. Yet the 
hoary warrior still endeavoured to utter his commands. He batle the warlike 
youths, his brave companions, to march forwards, but he could no longer stand 
firmly on his feet." Conyb. xciil. Hearne, 10. Glast, App. The contest was con- 
tinued after Byrhtnoth's death, but the fragment ends abruptly. The concluding 
part has not been preserved. 

8 4 








them what they wanted- Ten thousand pounds were 
accordingly disgracefully granted as the price of 
their retreat.^ Whether the king's ecclesiastical ad- 
visers were afraid of calling out the chiefs of the 
country, with their military arrays; or, like most 
clerical statesmen, were incompetent to devise the 
wisest public measures; or whether the nobles, in 
their contempt for the king and his administration, 
were not displeased at the invasion, and therefore 
did not oppose the payment, cannot now be certainly 
known ; but no measure could have been taken more 
likely to excite the Northmen to new depredations 
on a country that rewarded an invader for his ag- 

The payment is noticed by the annalists as having 
produced the evil of direct taxation. We now pay 
that, says the chronicler of the twelfth century, from 
custom which terror first extorted for the Danes.^^ 
The impositions were not remitted when the neces- 
sity had disappeared. 

Ethelred has been painted to us as a tall handsome 
man, elegant in manners, beautiful in countenance, 
and interesting in his deportment.^^ The sarcasm of 
Malmsbury gives his portrait in a sentence : he was 
" a fine sleeping figure." ^^ He might adorn a lady's 
cabinet ; he disgraced a council. 

When wiser thoughts had sway, the right means 
of defence were put in action. Powerful ships were 
constructed at London, and were filled with selected 
soldiers ^^ ; but all the wisdom of the measure was 
baffled by the choice of the commander. Alfric was 
the person intrusted to command the Anglo-Saxon 

* Malrosb. 62. 365. Sax. Chron. 126. Fl 365. The Saxon Chronicle makes 
Siric the author of this counsel. 

»• Hunt, 357. «> nor. Wig. 362. Matt. West 378. 

» Rex — pulchrd ad dormiendum foetus, p. 63. 

I* Flor. 365. In 992, Oswald the friend of Dunstan died. Sax. Chron.* 



Alfric, in 983, had succeeded his father in the 
dukedom of Mercia.^* Three years afterwards, from 
causes not explained, but probably connected with 
the dissensions above mentioned, he was expelled 
from England.^^ In 992, he was appointed to lead 
the new fleet, with another duke, and two bishops, 
whose addition to the military commission implies 
the prevalence of ecclesiastical counsels, and perhaps 
some mistrust of the nobles. Their instructions 
were to' surprise the Danes in some port at which 
they could be surrounded. The judicious scheme 
was foiled by Alfric's treason. When the Danes 
were traced to a station which admitted of the enter- 
prise, he sent them word of the intention, and con- 
summated his perfidy by sailing secretly to join 
them. The Anglo-Saxons found the enemy in flight, 
but could only overtake one vessel. The rest did 
not, however, reach their harbours unmolested; a 
division of the English fleet from London and East 
Anglia met them on their way, and attacked them 
with a bravery natural to the island. The capture 
of Alfric's vessels crowned their victory, but its igno- 
minious master escaped, though with difficulty. The 
king barbarously avenged it on Alfric, by blinding 
his son Algar.^^ The treason of Alfric and his com- 
panions seems inexplicable, unless we suppose it to 
have been an effx^ct of the national divisions or dis- 

This exertion, though its end was so disgraceful, 993. 
had driven the enemy from the southern counties. 
The northern districts were then attacked. An ar- 
mament stormed Bebbanburh, and afterwards, turning 
to the Humber, filled part of Lincolnshire and Nor- 
thumbria with their depredations. The provincials 
armed to defend their possessions, but they confided 

" Flor. 363. Sax. Chron. 126. 

^ Flor. 363. Sim. Dun. 161. ^ Flor. 366. Malnub. 62. 

266 msTORY OF the 

BOOK the command to three chiefs of Danish ancestry, who 
Etheired with fatal treachery fled at the moment of joining 
^Lw battle ^^ ; — another indication of the discontent of the 
'fc— -. — ^ nobles and the unpopularity of the government. 
^^' In 994, the breezes of the spring wafted into the 

Thames two warlike kings, Olave Tryggva's son, king 
of Norway, and Svein king of Denmark, in a tem- 
porary confederation. They came with ninety-four 
ships. They were repelled at London; but though 
their force was unimportant, they were able to over- 
run the maritime part of Essex and Kent, and af- 
terwards Sussex and Hampshire, with successful 
outrage.^® The progress of so small a force, and the 
presence of two kings accompanying it, may induce 
the reflective reader to suspect that they did not 
come without some previous concert or invitation 
from some part of the nation. But on this occasion, 
when a small exertion of the national vigour could 
have overpowered the invaders, Ethelred again obeyed 
a fatal advice. He sent to offer tribute and provi- 
sions, and to know the sum which would stop their 
hostilities! Sixteen thousand pounds was the sum 
demanded, by fewer than ten thousand men for the 
redemption of England. ^^ Can we avoid inferring 
treason in his councils? That the nobles should 
patronise such a measure looks like a scheme for 
abasing the power of their ecclesiastical opponents, 
who still governed the royal mind ; or of changing 
the dynasty, as at last took place, from Ethelred to 
Svein. Infatuation without treachery could hardly 
have been so imbecile, as to have bought off^ an in- 
vader a second time, when the nation was so powerful, 
and the enemy so inferior.^^ 

" Sim. Dun. 162. Sax. Chron. 127. 
" Sax. Chron. 128. Flor. Wig. 366. Sim. Dun. 162. 
» Sax. Chron. 129. Flor. 367. 

• The sermon of Lupus, preached about this time, implies the insubordination 
• of the country, and its enmity to the clergy. He calls the nation ** Priest-slayers,** 



Olave was invited to Ethelred's court, and, upon 
receiving hostages for his safety, he went to the royal 
city, where the king received him with honour. 
During his visit, he received the Christian rite of 
confirmation, and had rich presents. When he de- 
parted for his country in the summer, he promised to 
molest England no more, and he kept his word.^^ 

The army of Svein, on the last capitulation, had 998. 
wintered at Southampton. After three years' respite, 
it resumed its hostilities, sailed along Wessex, and, 
doubling the Land's End, entered the Severn, Wales, 
and afterwards Cornwall and Devonshire, were in- 
vested. Proceeding up the Thamar, they leaped from 
their ships, and spread the flames as far as Lydeford. 
The monastery of Tavistock fell amid the general 
ruin. Their ships were laden with the plunder, and 
the invaders wintered in security near the scene of 
their outrage.^^ 

Resuming their activity with the revival of vege- 
tation, they visited the Frome, and spread over great 
part of Dorset. Advancing thence to the Isle of 
Wight, they made alternate insults on this district 
and Dorsetshire, and compelled Sussex and Hamp- 
shire to supply them with provisions.^^ But was the 
powerful nation of England thus harassed with im- 
punity? When its enemies even stationed themselves 
on its coasts in permanent hostility, was no exertion 
directed to repress them ? The answer of history is, 
that often was the Anglo-Saxon army collected to 
punish, but as soon as the battle was about to com- 
mence, either some treason or some misfortune pre- 
vented. They quitted their ranks, and gave an easy 
triumph to the half- welcomed Danes.^* 

!nd robbers of the clergy, and laments the seditions that prevailed. See It ap. 
Ilckes's Diss. Ep. 99—106. 

" Malmsb. 63. Sax. Chron. 129. Sim. Dun. 163. 

*> Sim. Dun. 163. Sax. Chron. 129. Malmsb. 63. 

» Sax. Chron. 129. Sim. Dun. 164. 

** Flor. 368. Sim. Dun. 163. 



In the next year the Danish army, almost natural- 
ised in England, approached the Thames, and, turn- 
ing into the Medway, surrounded Rochester. The 
Kentishmen assembled to protect their city, but after 
a furious battle they yielded their dead to the in- 
vaders, who, collecting horses, almost destroyed the 
west of Kent.^^ 

A naval and military armament was now ordered 
against the invaders.^^ But again the consequences 
of the national disaflTection occurred. The com- 
manders, as if befriending the invaders, interposed 
wilful delays in the equipment of the force. The 
fleet, when ready, was merely assembled ; day after 
day drawled on without exertion, and injured only 
those who had been assessed to provide it. When- 
ever it was about to sail, some petty obstacle delayed 
it. The enemy was always permitted to increase and 
unite his strength ; and when he chose to retire, then 
our fleet pursued. Thus even the very means which, 
properly used, would have cleared the British ocean 
of its oppressors, only increased the calamity of the 
nation. The people were called to labour to no pur- 
pose; their money was wasted as emptily, and by 
such mock preparations the enemies were more en- 
couraged to invade.^^ When the Danish forces re- 
tired, the army of Ethelred almost depopulated 
Cumberland. His fleet set sail to coast round Wales 
and meet him ; but the winds repelling them, they 
ravaged the Isle of Man as the substitute.^ 
1000. A powerful diversion happened this year in favour 

of Ethelred ; for the quarrel between Svein and Olave 
attained its height. Assisted by a Swedish king ^®, 

" Sax. Chron. 130. Blatt West. 386. " Flor. 369. 

*» Sax. Chron. 130. « Flor. 369. Sax. Chron. 130. 

* Sweden was at this time in the hand of many kings : ** Isto tempore multi 
erant Uplandiarum reges, siue singuli provincix imperitantes — If eidmarkitc impe- 
rium tenucre duo ftratres — Gudsbrandalis Gudrodus ; etiam Raumarikia suus erat 
rex ; suus quoque Thotnis et Iladalandia! nee non suus Yaldresic.** Snorre, vol. li. 
pp. 36, 37. 



and the son of Hakon Jarl ^, Svein attacked Olave 
by surprise, near the Island of WoUin, with a great 
superiority of force. The bravery of Olave could 
not compensate for a deficiency of numbers. His 
ship was surrounded ; but, disdaining to be a prisoner, 
he leapt into the sea ^\ and disappeared from pursuit. 
Popular affection, unwilling to lose its favourite, gave 
birth to that wild rumour which has so often at- 
tended the death of the illustrious, that the king had 
escaped the fray, and was living recluse on some dis- 
tant shore.^^ Authentic history places his death in 
this battle.^ 

This diversion was made more complete by the 
Northmen also molesting Normandy .^^ But the in- 
terval brought no benefit to England. The Danes 
returned in 1001, with their usual facility. The 
same measure was adopted notwithstanding its ex- 
jM^rienced inefficacy; and twenty-four thousand 
pounds was the third ransom of the English nation.^ 
No measure could tend more to bring on the govern- 
ment the contempt of the people. 

The year 1002 has become memorable in the annals 
of crime, by an action as useless as imbecility could 
devise, and as sanguinary as cowardice could perpe- 
trate. On the day before St. Brice's festival, every 
city received secret letters from the king, command- 
ing the people, at an appointed hour, to destroy the 
Danes there suddenly by the sword, or to surround 
and consume them with fire. This order was the 
more atrocious, as the Danes were living in peace 





MuBMcre of 

the DaneiL 

* Tbeodoric, c. xiv. p. 23. Ara Frodc, p. 49. Snorre details the confederacy 
against Olave, 1. pp. 334 — 345. Saxo gives the Danish account, lib. x. p. 191. 

" Saxo, 191. SnoiTc, 34 f). 

■* Theodoric, 24. The tale must have made impression, for Theodoric declares, 
be knows not which relation was the truest. 

" Ara Frode dates it 130 years after the fall of Edmund In East Anglia, or in 
1 000, c viL p. 49. The conquerors shareil Norway, Snorre, 348. 

*• Sax.Chron. 130. 

^ Sax. Chron. 132. Both the MS. Chronicles have 24,000/. 




with the Anglo-Saxons. The expressions of IMalms- 
bury imply even an endeared amity of connection ; 
for he says, with correct feeling, that it was miserable 
to sec every one betray his dearest guests, whom 
the cruel necessity made only more beloved.^^ To 
murder those we have embraced, was an horrible 
idea, which exhibits human nature in one of its most 
degrading, yet most dreadful, possibilities, both of 
conception and execution. Yet while our indigna- 
tion rises against Ethelred and his counsellors for the 
atrocity, we may reflect that the day of St. Bartho- 
lomew, in the seventeenth century, shows that a 
period, a court, and a nation far more enlightened 
and polished, could imitate the barbarity. Such re- 
petitions are no extenuations of a crime that no cir- 
cumstance can make otherwise than detestable and 
demon-like ; but they rescue our ancestors from the 
stigma of being peculiarly ferocious. 

The tyrannical command was obeyed. All the 
Danes dispersed through England, with their wives, 
families, and even youngest babes, were mercilessly 
butchered. ^^ So dreadful was the excited spirit, that 
Gunhilda, the sister of Svein, who had married an 
English earl, had received Christianity, and had vo- 
luntarily made herself the pledge of Danish peace. 

*" Malmsb. 64. The Saxon Chronicle says that Ethelred ordered it, because it 
had been reported to him that they had a design to murder him first, and then all 
bis witan, and then>upon to possess his kingdom without opposition, an. 1002. Sec 
Miss Gumcy's translation of it, p. 158. 

" Matt West. 391.; Sax. Chron. 133. ; Flor. 370. ; Sim. Dun. 166. ; Ilovedon, 
429. ; Bad. Die. 461. ; Malmsb. 64. ; Hunt 360. ; Brompton, 885. ; Knyghton, 
2315. ; Walsingham Ypod. 18., unite in stating that all the Danes in England were 
killed. That only the Danish soldiers in English pay were killed, appears to me 
to have no foundation. Gunhilda and her family were not Danish mercenaries, nor 
were the women and children of whom Wallingford speaks, whose loose authority 
has been put against all the rest We find that Edgar admitted many Danes into 
England ; many more must have settled out of the different invaders in Ethelrvd's 
reign. To what Danish families the cruel order extended, cannot now be ascer- 
tained. I cannot think that it could possibly include those whose ancestors came 
into EngUnd in Alfred's youth, and who settled in East Anglia and Morthumbria, 
because the four or five generations which bad elapsed must have made them 
Englishmen. How many perished cannot be explored. The crime of the schemers 
depends not upon the number of the victims. 


was ordered to be beheaded by the infamous Edric. chap. 
Her husband and boy were first slain in her presence. Etbcind 
She foretold the vengeance which would pour upon jjjjj^^ 
the English nation, and she joined her lifeless *— v — ' 
£riends.3« *«^ 

Great villany has been supposed to proceed from 
great mental energy perverted. But Ethelred evinced 
an absolute incapability of the most common associa- 
tions of human reasoning. That Svein would return 
in vengeance was a natural expectation ; and yet the 
person appointed to rescue England from his fury 
was Alfric, whom the king had banished for his mis- 
conduct, who had proved his gratitude for his pardon 
by an enormous treachery ; whose son the king had 
in return deprived of eye-sight; and who now by 
some new intrigue was restored to favour. 

Svein did not long delay the provoked invasion ; 1003. 
he landed at Exeter, and by the treachery of the 
Norman governor, whom the king had set over it, he 
obtained and dismantled it.^^ He proceeded through 
the country to Wilts, avenging his murdered country- 
men. The Anglo-Saxons, under Alfric, met him. 
The instant that the battle was about to join, Alfric 
aflFccted a sudden illness and declined the contest. 
Svein, availing himself of their divisions, led his 
army through Salisbury to the sea-coast laden with 

In the next year, Svein came with his fleet to Nor- 1004. 
wich, and burnt it. Ulfketul, the commander of 
East Anglia, proposed to buy a peace ; yet finding 
the enemy advancing and plundering, he made one 
exertion against them^, but they regained their 
ships. A famine now afflicted England, and the 
Danes returned to the Baltic.** 

" Matt Wert. 391. Malmsb. 69. " Flor. 371. *• Flor. 372. 

*^ Flor. 372. Sax. Ctaron. 184. The fkmine is a strong evidence of the extent 
of Svein*s vindictive ravages. 




Ethelred had, in 1002, married Emma, the daughter 
of Richard I., the third duke of Normandy.^ The 
king's infidelity and neglect was resented by his high- 
spirited queen.^ The insult was personal, and her 
anger was natural ; but that her father should avenge 
it by seizing all the English who happened to pass 
into his dominions, by killing some and imprisoning 
the rest **, was an act of barbarity which announces 
the contempt into which England had sunk. 

Never was such a nation plunged into calamity so 
unnecessarily. The means were abundant of exter- 
minating Svein, and such invaders, if a government 
had but existed, with whom its people would have 
co-operated. The report of Turketul to Svein gives 
us an impressive picture of the English condition : 
" A country illustrious and powerful ; a king asleep, 
solicitous only about women and wine, and trembling 
at war ; hated by his people^ and derided by strangers. 
Generals, envious of each other ; and weak governors, 
ready to fly at the first shout of battle." ^^ 

Ethelred was liberal to poets who amused him. 
Gunnlaugr, the Scalld, sailed to London, and pre- 
sented himself to the king with an heroic poem^, 
which he had composed on the royal virtues. He 
sang it, and received in return a purple tunic, lined 
with the richest furs, and adorned with fringe ; and 
was appointed to a station in the palace.*^ By a 

*^ Sax. Chron. 1 32. He had married an earl's daughter before, who brought 
him Edmund. EtheL Abb. 362. 

*• Malmsb. 64. 

^ Matt West. 362. Walslngham narrates that Ethelred attempted an invasion 
of Normandy, which ended very unfortunately. Tpodigma Neustrs, p. 1 6. 

*» Malmsb. sa. ^ Gunnlaugi Saga, c. vii. p. 87. 

*' Gunn. Saga, p. 89. When he left Ethelred, in the following spring, the king 
gave him a gold ring which weighed seven ounces, and desired him to return in 
autumn, p. 99. The Scalld was lucky. He went to Ireland and sang. The king 
there wished to give him two ships, but was told by his treasurer, that poets had 
always clothes, or swords, or gold rings. Gunnlaugr accordingly received line gar- 
ments and a gold ring, p. 1 03. In the Orkneys a poem procured him a silver axe, 
p. 103. In Gothland he got an asylum for festivity in the winter, p. 105. At 
Upsal he met another poet, Rafh, and, what was worse, when both bad sung, the 


verse which remains of it, we may see that adulation chap. 
is not merely an indigenous plant of eastern climates, Etbeired 
or of polished times, but that it flourishes hardily, 
even amid Polar snows, and in an age of pirates. 



The soldiers of the kin^, and his subjects, 
The powerful army of England, 

Obey Ethelred, 
As if he teas an angel of the beneficent Deiti/^^ 

The history of successful devastation and pusillani- 
mous defence, is too uniform and disgusting to be 
detailed. In 1006, the Danes obtained 36,000/.-*^ In 
1008, the feeble king oppressed his subjects with a 
new exaction. Every 310 hides of land were assessed 
to build and present one vessel, and every eight hides 
were to furnish an helmet and breast-plate.^ The 
hides of England, according to the best enumeration 
of them which exists^\ were 243,600. If we take 
this as the criterion, the taxation produced an addi- 
tional force of 785 ships, and armour for 30,450 
men . 

Ethelred had now selected a new favourite in 
Edric ; a man of low birth, but eloquent, plausible, 
and crafty. He is noted for excelling all men in 
perfidy and cruelty. He was made Duke of Mercia 
in 1007.^- 

The fleet, the product of the new assessment, as- 
sembled at Sandwich. Brihtric, the brother of Edric, 
and as ambitious and deceitful, accused Wulfnoth, the 

king asked each for bis opinion on the other's composition. The catastrophe need 
hardly be mentioned. Rafn told Ounnlaugr, that there was an end of their fdend- 
ship, p. 115. 

• Gunnl. 89. 

*» The printed Sax. Chron. p. 136. says 30,000/. The MS. Chron. Tib. B.l. 
and B. 4. have 36,000/. Flor. 373. ; Mailros, 154. ; Hoveden, 430.; Peterb. 34.; 
Al. Bev. 114.; Sim. Dun. 166. ; and Rad.Dir. 462. also give 36,000/. 

*• Sax. Chron. 136. 

*> The very ancient cataloi^uc which Spelman oopied into his Glossary, 353., and 
Camden into his Britannia, presents to us a detailed account of the hides in Eng- 
land. Gale has published one almost similar, but not quite. Her. Ang. vol. ill. 
p. 74S. 

" Flor. Wig. 373. 









father of earl Godwin. Wulfnoth fled, and carried 
twenty ships with him, and commenced pirate. 
Brihtric pursued with eighty ships, but a tempest 
wrecked, and Wulfnoth burnt them. These events 
destroyed the confidence and the courage of the rest 
of the fleet. It dispersed and retired.^^ The annal- 
ists add, that thus perished all the hopes of England. 

In 1010, the triumph of the Danes was completed 
in the surrender of sixteen counties of England, and 
the payment of 48,000/.^* Thus they divided the 
country with Ethelred, as his father Edgar, the first 
patron of the civil dissensions, had shared it unjustly 
with the ill-used Edwin. 

The next '^invasion of Svein was distinguished by 
the revolution of the government of the country. 
The people gradually seceded from Ethelred, and 
appointed the Dane their king. The earl of North- 
umbria, and all the people in his district, the five 
burghers, and all the army on the north of Watling- 
street, submitted to his sovereignty.^^ He ordered 
them to supply provisions and horses, and committing 
their hostages and his ships to his son Canute, he 
commenced a visit of decisive conquest to the south. 
Oxford and Winchester accepted his dominion ; but 
London resisted, because Ethelred was in it. 

Svein marched to Bath, and the duke Ethelmere, 
and all the western Thanes, yielded themselves to 
him. The citizens of London at last followed the 

" Flor. Wig. 374. Sax. Cbron. 137, 138. In mentioning Wulfhoth, the printed 
Saxon Chronicle adds, that he was the father of earl Godwin, p. 137. The MS, 
Chron. Tib. B. 1. has not these words, nor the Tib. B. 4., nor the Laud MS. which 
Gibson quotes. As he only marks the Laud MS. to be without, I presume that 
his other MSS. had them. 

" Flor. 375 — 378. Sax. Chron. 139 — 142. For a particular description of this 
dismal period, see Osbeme's Life of S. Elphegus, who was taken into Canterbury 
and killed, because 3000/. were not paid for his ransom. They hurled bones and 
skulls of cattle upon him, till one struck him on the head with an iron axe. Gur- 
ney, Sax. Chron. 1 70. Was he one of the counsellors of Ethelred who were ob- 
noxious to the Danish partisans ? 

•» Sax. Chron. 143. 


Terrified by the universal disaffection, Ethelred chap. 
sent his children into Normandy^, and privately Etbeired 
withdrew to the Isle of Wight ^', where he passed his ^nJ^y. 
Christmas ; after which, on hearing of their good '— -• — ' 
reception by his queen's brother, Richard, he departed Etheirfd'i 
also himself, and was kindly received.^ ^^^^ 

The new sovereignty of Svein was severe in its svein'i 
pecuniary exactions ^^, but it was short. He died, 
the year after his elevation, at Gainsborough.^^ 

This event produced a new change in the Anglo- 1013. 
Saxon politics. The Danish soldiers in England, the 
Thinga-manna ^\ appointed Canute, the son of Svein, 
for their king ^'^ ; but the English chieftains sent to 
l^thelred to offer him the crown again, on condition 
that he should govern rightly, and be less tyran- 

" Sax. Chron. 143, 144. Flor. Wig. 379, 380. Malimb. 69. This author re- 
marks, that the Londonfrs did not abandon the king till he fled himself. He says 
of them in high panegyric : " I^udandi prorsus viri et quos Mars ipse collata non 
spemeret hasta si ducem habuissent '* 

^' ('unique clandesjtinis itineribus. Malmsb. p. 69. 

»♦ Malmsb. 70. Flor. 380. 

^ Hermannus, who wrote in 1070, thus describes his pecuniary exactions: 
** Sueyn insuixT lugubre malum scilicet ubique ponit tributum quod infortunium 
hodieque Init AngUa, multum felix, dives ac dulcis nimium n nan farent tributa,** 
MS. Tib. B. 2. p. 25. In 1821 Dr. Henderson found that near the banks of the 
Ladoga, in Russia, a number of coins had been dug up, bearing inscriptions of 
C-uflc characters, and also one with the Latin inscription, " Ethelred, Rex Anglo- 
rum." Ho justly thinks this to have been part of the Danengeld levied by the 
Danes in England. Bibi. Researches. Many adventurers fh>m the Baltic, beside 
Danes, fought under Svein. 

* The annalists are fond of stating, that he was killed by St. Edmond ; Snorre 
adds a curious comparison. ^ Just," says he, ** as Julian the Apostate was killed 
by Saint Mercury,^ Saga Olafl Ilelga, c. ix. p. 10. 

** The body of troops who, during Svein's prosperity, and the reigns of his pos- 
terity, became stationary in England, are called Thinga-manna by Snorre, torn. ii. 
p. 15. The Olaf Tryggvason*s Saga, p. 100. ; and the Knytlinga Saga (Celto 
Scand. p. 103.) say, they received appointed stipends. Their commander, Heming, 
kept the conquered country in suUJection to Canute. Two of their onlers were, 
not to disperse rumours, and not to go beyond their city of a night. Trygg. Saga, 
p. 100. Celto Sc. 

*^ The Saga state Canute to have l)een but ten years of age at Svein's death. 
But this is a mistake. 

•■ Flor. Wig. 381. " They assured him, that no one was dearer to them than 
their natural lord, if he would govern them more righteously than he did before.** 
Gur. Sax. Chron. 173. About this time occurred the war against Brian, king of 
Connaught. See the Niala Saga in Celto Scand. 107 — 116. and 120 — 129. I 
mention it, because to this battle belong the poetical vision of the Northern 
destinies, and the Scaldic Ode, which Gray has so vigorously translated in his Fatal 

T 2 






•— V 


Ethelred sent his son Edward to make the required 
promises of good government.^ Pledges were ex- 
changed for the faithful performance of the contract ; 
every Danish king was declared a perpetual outlaw^, 
and in Lent the king returned. 

Canute had now to maintain his father's honours 
by his sword. Confronted by a powerful force of the 
English, he sailed from East-Anglia to Sandwich, and 
landed the hostages -svhich his father had received for 
the obedience of the English. But in revenge for the 
opposition of the nation, he brutally maimed them of 
their hands and noses.^^ They were children of the 
first nobility.^^ Canute then retired to Denmark to 
watch his interests there, and to provide the means 
for stronger exertions to gain the crown of Eng- 

To make head against Canute, Ethelred dispersed, 
around the neighbouring countries, high promises of 
reward to every warrior who would join the English 
standard ^^ : a great number came to him. Among 
these was Olave the son of Harald Graenski, a Nor- 
wegian sea-king, who, in 1007, at twelve years of age, 
had begun his maritime profession under a military 
tutor. "^ He afterwards obtained the crown of Nor- 
way, and the reputation of a saint. He arrived in 
England in the year of Svein's death.'^ 

Canute called to his aid Eric the Jarl, one of the 
rulers of Norway, and one of the sons of Hakon the 
Bad ^^, and sailed to England. His abilities made his 

** Flor. 381. He said, " that be would amend all that had been complained of^ 
if they would return to him with one consent and without guile/* Sax. Chron. 
G. 173. 

« Sax. Chron. 143. •• Flor. 382. "^ Malmsb. 71. 

* Encomium Emms, written by a contemporary, 167. Svein's body was car 
ried to Roschild, and buried. The autumn closed with an inundation of the sea, 
which laid the towns and country for many miles under water, and destroyed tbe 
inhabitants. Flor. 382. Malmsb. 71. 

• Snorre Olafl Ilelga, c. vl. p. 6. " Snorrc, p. 3. 
'< Snorre, p. 9. Knytlinga Saga, p. 103. 

" Knytlinga Saga, p. 10. Eric had gained great fkme In two battles ; one 



advance the march of victory. The perfidious Edric chap. 
croAvned the treasons of his life by flying to Canute Etheired 
with forty ships. Wessex submitted to the invaders, u^rwiy. 

and gave hostages for its fidelity.^^ ' ' 

The hostilities of the contending parties were now 
fast assuming the shape of decision. To Canute's 
well-arranged army, Edmund, the son of Ethelred, 
endeavoured to oppose a competent force; but the 
panic of the king, excited by rumoured treachery, 
disappointed his hopes. Edmund then roused the 
Northern chiefs to predatory excursions, but the 
energy of Canute prevented success. The Danes 
marched through Buckinghamshire to Bedford, and 
thence advanced to York. Uhtred, the earl of North- 
umbria, and the people, abandoned Edmund, and 
gave hostages to Canute.^* Leaving his friend Eric 
Jarl in the government of the country, Canute re- 
turned to his ships. At this crisis, the death of Ethel- 
red released England from its greatest enemy.^^ 

against Clave, Tryggva's son, the other against the Jomsburgers, Snorre, ii p. 23. 
Svein had given Norway to Eric and his brother Hakon. When Eric came to 
England, he left his brother Ilakon to govern all Norway, whom St. Oiave expelled. 
Snorre, p. 211. Hakon was drowned. lb. 321. 

" Sax. Chron. 146. 

^^ The Knytllnga Saga gives a particular description of Canute's exertions, inter* 
spersed with many quotations from the scalld?, Ottar the Swarthy, Hallvardr, and 
Thordr, 104 — 107. Among the nobles who came with Canute were, Uifr Jarl, 
the son of Sprakalegs, who had married Canute's sister, Astrida. Iteming, and 
his brother, Thorkell the Lofty, sons of the Earl-street Haralldr, were also In his 
army. lb. 

'* We have a contemporary picture of the internal state of England during this 
reign, in the Sermon of Lupus, one of the Anglo-Saxon bishops. 

" We perpetually pay them (the Danes) tribute, and they ravage us dally. They 
ravage, bum, spoil, and plunder, and carry off our property to their ships. Such 
is their successftil valour, that one of them will in battle put ten of our men to 
flight. Two or three will drive a troop of captive Christians through the country 
from sea to sea. Very often they seize the wives and daughters of our thanes, and 
cruelly violate them before the great chieftain's face. The slave of yesterday be- 
comes the master of hb lord to-day, or he flies to the Yikingr, and seeks his owner's 
life in the earliest battle. 

** Soldiers, famine, flames, and effusion of blood, abound on every side. Theft 
and murder, pestilence, diseases, calumny, hatred, and rapine, dreadfully afflict us. 

" Widows are frequently compelled into unjust marriages ; many arc reduced to 
penury and are pillaged. The poor men are sorely seduced and cruelly betrayed, 
and, though innocent, are sold far out of this land to foreign slavery. Cradle 
children are made slaves out of this nation, through an atrocious violation of the 

T 3 




law for little stealings. The right of fireedom is taken away : the rights of the 
servile are narrowed, and the right of charity is diminished. 

" Freemen may not govern themselves, nor go where they wish, nor possess their 
own as they like. Slaves are not suffered to enjoy what they have obtained from 
their allowed leisure, nor what good men have benevolently given for them. The 
clergy are robbed of their ft*anchises, and stripped of all their comforts.** 

After mentioning many vices, he adds, that " far and wide the evil custom has 
prevailed of men being ashamed of their virtue ; of good actions even incurring 
contempt ; and of the public worship being publicly derided.'* Sermo Lupi ap. 
Hickes, Dissert Epist pp. 99 — 106. Elfric, another contemporary, thought the 
state of things so bad that he believed doomsday to be approaching, and the world 
very near its end. MSS. Yit St. Neot. 


The Reign of Edmund Ironside, 

At length the sceptre of the Anglo-Saxons came into chap. 
the hand of a prince able to wield it with dignity to Edmund 
himself, and prosperity to his people. Like Athel- ironstdc. 
Stan, he was illegitimately born ; but his spirit was loie. 
full of energy; and his constitution was so hardy, 
that he obtained the surname of Ironside. It was 
his misfortune that he attained the crown in a stormy 
season ; and, before his character and talents could 
be duly known or estimated, he had to conflict with 
a king, perhaps greater than himself. Had Edmund, 
like his father, acceded to the crown of a tranquil, 
united, and thriving nation, the abilities of a Canute 
might have been foiled. But Edmund succeeded to 
the care of a divided people, half of whose territory 
was in the occupation of his enemy. He had no 
interval of respite to recruit his strength, or reform 
his country. He was dishonourably killed in the full 
exertion of his abilities. 

An important struggle ensued between Edmund 
and Canute for the possession of London. It was 
long besieged in vain, sometimes by a part of Canute's 
forces, sometimes by all. London was at this time 
defended, on the south, by a wall which extended 
along the river. ^ The ships of Canute, from Green- 
wich, proceeded to London. The Danes built a 
strong military work on the south bank of the river, 
and drew up their ships on the west of the bridge, so 

* Stephanides, in his description of London, written about 1190, so declares: 
** Similiterque ab austro Lundonia murata et turrita fult,** p. 3. Lond. 1723. 

T 4 






Battle at 

as to cut off all access to the city. Edmund vigo- 
rously defended it a while in person ; and when his 
presence was required elsewhere, the brave citizens 
made it impregnable.^ 

During the siege, Edmund fought two battles with 
the Danes in the country: one at Pen in Dorset- 
shire: the other, the most celebrated, at Scearstan, 
about Midsummer. 

Edmund selected the bravest soldiers for his first 
line of attack, and placed the rest as auxiliary bodies ; 
then noticing many of them individually, he appealed 
to their patriotism and their courage, with that fire 
of eloquence which rouses man to energetic deeds. 
He conjured them to remember their country, their 
beloved families, and paternal habitations: for all these 
they were to fight ; for all these they would conquer. 
To rescue or to surrender these dear objects of their 
attachments, would be the alternative of that day's 
struggle. His representations warmed his soldiers; 
and in the height of their enthusiasm, he bade the 
trumpets to sound, and the charge of battle to begin. 
Eagerly his brave countrymen rushed against their 
invaders, and were nobly led by their heroic king. 
He quitted his royal station to mingle in the first 
ranks of the fight ; and yet, while he used his sword 
with deadly activity, his vigorous mind watched 
eagerly every movement of the field. He struggled 
to blend the duty of commander and the gallant bear- 
ing of a soldier. Edric and two other generals, with 
the men of Wilts and Somerset, aided Canute. On 
Monday, the first day of the conflict, both armies 

' Sax. Chron. 148. ; Flor. 385. ; and Knytlinga Saga, 135—137. Tbe verses 
of the scallds, Thordr, and Ottar the Swarthy, are cited on this sul^'ect. Snorre 
gives an account of Saint Olave, the Norwe^an sea-king, assisting in the struggle 
at London. The principal achievement of Olave was to destroy the fortified bridge 
from Southwark, which he calls a great emporium to the city, which the Danes 
defended. The effort, somewhat romantic, is sung by Ottar and Sigvatr. Saga af 
Olafl Haga, pp. 11—13. 



fought with unprevailing courage, and mutual fatigue ci^. 
compelled them to separate.^ Edmund 

In the morning the awful struggle was renewed. .^"^*^- 
In the midst of the conflict, Edmund forced his way loie. 
to Canute, and struck at him vehemently with his 
sword. The shield of the Dane saved him from the 
blow ; but it was given with such strength, that it 
divided the shield, and cut the neck of the horse 
below it. A crowd of Danes then rushed upon Ed- 
mund ; and, after he had slain many, he was obliged 
to retire. Canute was but slighty wounded.* While 
the kin^: was thus engaged, Edric struck off^ the head 
of one Osmear, whose countenance resembled the 
king's, and raising it on high, exclaimed to the Anglo- 
Saxons that they fought to no purpose. " Fly, yc 
men of Dorset and Devon ! Fly, and save yourselves. 
Here is your Edmund's head."^ The astonished 
English gazed in terror. The king was not then 
visible, for he was piercing the Danish centre. Edric 
was believed, and panic began to spread through 
every rank. At this juncture Edmund appeared re- 
ceding before the pressure of the Danes, who had 
rescued Canute. He saw the malice, and sent his 
spear as his avenger : Edric shunned the point, and 
it pierced two men near him. But his presence was 
now unavailing. In vain he threw off his helmet, 
and, gaining an eminence, exposed his disarmed head 
to undeceive his warriors. The fatal spirit had gone 
forth ; and, before its alarms could be counteracted, 
the army was in flight. All the bravery and skill 
of Edmund could only sustain the combat till night 

The difficulty of the battle disinclined Canute from 

« Flor. Wig. 385, 3S6. 

* I derive thisi paragraph from the Knytlinga Saga, p. 130. Ottar the Swartlij 
celebrates the battle, and places it near the Tees, p. 131., in Johnstone*8 Celto 
S candies. 

* Flor. Wig. 386. • Ibid. 






Battle of 

renewing it. He left the contested field at midnight, 
and marched afterwards to London to his shipping. 
The morn revealed his retreat to Edmund. The 
perfidious Edric, discerning the abilities of the king, 
made use of his relationship and early connection 
(he had married Edmund's sister, and had been his 
foster-father) to obtain a reconciliation. Edmund 
consented to receive him on his oath of fidelity.^ 

Edmund followed Canute to London, and raised 
the siege of the city. A conflict soon followed be- 
tween the rivals at Brentford.^ Both parties claim 
the victory.^ As Canute immediately afterwards 
beleagured London again, the laurel seems to have 
been obtained by him. Baffled by the defence, he 
avenged himself on Mercia, whose towns, as usual, 
were committed to the flames, and he withdrew up 
the Medway. Edmund again urged the patriotic 
battle at Otford in Kent, and drove him to Shepey. 
A vigorous pursuit might have destroyed all Canute's 
hopes ; but the perfidious counsels of Edric preserved 
the defeated invader.^^ 

When Edmund withdrew to Wessex, Canute passed 
into Essex ; and thence advancing, plundered Mercia 
without mercy. Edmund, earnest for a decisive ef- 
fort, again assembled all the strength of England, 
and pursued the Dane, who was retiring to his ships 
with his plunder. At Assandun, in the north part 
of Essex, the armies met. Edmund arranged his 
countrymen into three divisions, and, riding round 
every rank, he roused them, by his impressive ex- 

' It is the Knytlinga Saga which informs us that Edric had brought up Edmund : 
" Cujus tamen nutricius iste Ueidricus ftiit," p. 139. 

• Flor. Wig. 387. Sax. Chron. 149. The Knytlinga Saga quotes the verses of 
the scalld Ottar on this battle, p. 134. 

• Fiorencc and bis countrymen give the victory to Edmund. The Knytlinga 
Saga says, Canute conquered ; and adds, that the town was destroyed, p. 134. 

** Flor. 387. Snorre mentions, that St Olave fought at Canterbury ; and quotes 
Ottar the Swarthy upon it, p. 14. ; but I cannot be certain that it was at this 



hortations, to remember their own valour, and their chap. 
former victories. He entreated them to protect the Edmund 
kingdom from Danish avarice, and to punish, by a ' .^^^°°^^\ 
new defeat, the enemies they had already conquered. loie. 
Canute brought his troops gradually into the field. 
Edmund made a general and impetuous attack. His 
vigour and skill again brought victory to his arms. 
The star of Canute was clouded; when Edric, his 
secret ally, deserting Edmund in the very hour of 
success, fled from the field with the men of Radnor, 
and all the battalions he commanded. The charge 
of Canute on the exposed and inferior Anglo-Saxons 
was then decisive. The valour of Edmund was for- 
gotten. Flight and destruction overspread the plain. 
A few, jealous of their glory, and anxious to give a 
rallying point to the rest, fought desperately amid 
surrounding enemies, and were all cut off but one 
man. In this dismal conflict the flower of the no- 
bility of England perished.^^ 

The betrayed Edmund disdained the death of 
despair, and attempted new efforts to rescue his af- 
flicted country. He retired to Gloucester ; and, such 
was his activity and eloquence, that a fresh army 
was around him before Canute overtook him. Ed- 
mund then challenged Canute to decide their quarrel 
by a single combat.^**^ 

Some authorities^^ assert that they fought in the Edmund 
islet of Olney, near the bridge of Gloucester, a small c^uuf" 
plain almost encircled by the mnding of the river^*^; 

" Malmsb. 72. Flor. Wig. 388. Sax. Chron. 150. The Knytlinga Saga, and 
tbc scalld Ottar, notice this conflict, p. 134. Snorre places one of St, 0lave*8 battles 
in a pLice in which he calls llringmarahclde. He says, this was in the land of 
Ulf kell, p. 13. This expression somewhat approximates it to the battle of Assan- 
dun, for Ulf Icell governed the eastern districts of the island ; and Dr. Gibson places 
this conflict at Assington in Essex. Camden thought it was Ashdown, in the north 
part of that county. 

'^ I follow Malmsbury in ascribing the proposal to Edmund, p. 72. 

" Huntingdon, 363. ; Matt. West. 400. ; Peterb.36.; Knygt 2316. ; Brompton, 
905. ; Iligden, 274. ; Rieval, 364. ; Rad. Nig. MS. ; Yesp. D. 10. p. 25. ; mention 
the duel. 

" The kings arc stated to have caught each other*8 spears in their shields, and 






Rise of earl 

other chroniclers declare that Canute declined the 
meeting ^^; but the result was, that a pacification 
was agreed upon between the princes ; and England 
was divided between them. Canute was to reiern in 
the north, and Edmund in the south. The rival 
princes exchanged arms and garments ; the money 
for the fleet was agreed upon, and the armies sepa- 

The brave Edmund did not long survive the paci- 
fication. He perished the same year. The circum- 
stances attending his assassination are variously 
given. Malmsbury mentions that two of his cham- 
berlains were seduced by Edric to wound him at a 
most private moment with an iron hook ; but he 
states this to be only rumour.^^ The king's violent 
death, and its author, are less reservedly avowed by 
others.^^ The northern accounts go even farther. 
The Knytlinga Saga and Saxo carry up the crime 
as high as Canute. They expressly state that Edric 
was corrupted by Canute to assassinate Edmund.^^ 

A remarkable character began his progress to 
greatness in this reign: this was the famous earl 
Godwin, who possessed a power little less than sove- 

yrith their swords advanced to a closer conflict Their battle lasted till the strength 
of Canute began to fail before the impetuosity of Edmund. The Dane is then 
described as proposing to the Anglo-Saxon an amicable arrangement, by dividing 
the kingdom. 

^ These are Malmsb. 72. and the Encora. Emma^, 1 69., two important autho- 
rities. The Saxon Chronicle, Florence, Hoveden, and some others, neither mention 
the challenge nor the conflict The Knytlinga Saga is as silent, and this silence 
turns the scale against the combat 

w Flor. Wig. 389. Sax. Chron. 160. " Malmsb. 72. 

» As Hunt 363. ; Matt West 401. ; Hist EI. 502. ; Hist Ram. 434. ; Petrob. 
37. ; Ingulf, 57. ; and many others. Hermannus, who wrote within fifty years 
after this event, says, " Nocte siquidem scquentis did festivitatis Sancti Andrec 
Lundoni^e perimitur insidiis Edrici Streane perfidissimi ducis.** Cotton Lib. MS. 
Tib. B. 2. The encomiast of Emma says, he was long and greatly lamented by 
his people, p. 171. 

" " Erat tunc temporis inter Anglos vir potens, Heidricus Striona nomine. Is 
a rege (^anuto pecunia corruptus est ut Jatmundum clam intcrflceret Hoc modo 
Jatmundus rex perlit" Knytl. Saga, p. 139. To the same purpose Saxo, " Memo- 
rant alii Edvardum clandestiuo Canuti imperio occlsum,** lib. x. p. 193. Snorre 
says, ** Eodem mense Heinrikus Striona occidit Edmundum regem.** Olafl Helga, 
p. 24. Adam of Bremen says he was poisoned, p. 31 . 

man t ion. 


reign for three reigns, and whose son Harold was the chap. 
last of the Anglo-Saxon kings. His origin has never Edmund 
yet been mentioned in English history ; but as the ^">n»tde. 
rise of poverty to grandeur is always an interesting loie, 
contemplation, we will state the short history of God- 
win's elevations. 

That Godwin was the son of an herdsman, is a An herds- 
fact recorded in the MS. Chronicle of Radulphus 
Niger. This author says explicitly what no other 
has mentioned, ''Earl Godwin was the son of an 
herdsman." It adds, that he was brought up by 
Canute.^^ How the son of a Saxon herdsman came 
to be brought up by Canute, the note will explain.^^ 

=" It is a MS. in the Cotton Library, Vespasian, D. 10. In the second side of 
pa^c 27., it says, " Godwinus comes filius bubuici fuit." It adds, ** Hie Godwinus 
a rcge Cnutune nutritus processu temporis in Daciam cum breve regis transmissiu 
callide duxit sororem Cnutonis." 

-' The Knytlinga Sagsi gives us that explanation which no other document 

One of the Danish chieftains, who accompanied Canute to England, has been 
noticed to have been Ulfr, the son of Sprakalegs, who had married Canute's sister 
Astrida. In the battle of Slcorstein, between Canute and Edmund, he fought in 
Canute's first line, and pursued part of the English fiigitives into a wood so eagerly, 
that, when he turned to rejoin his friends, he saw no path ; he wandered about it 
only to bewilder himself, and night involved him before he had got out of it. In 
the morning he beheld near him a full-grown youth driving cattle to their pasture. 
He saluted the lad, and inquired his name : he was answered, ** Gudin," or 

Ulfr requested the youth to show him the track which would lead him to Canute's 
ships. Godwin informed him that he was at a great distance from the Danish 
navy ; that the way was across a long and inhospitable wood ; that the soldiers of 
Canute were greatly hated by the country people ; that the destruction of yester- 
day's battle at Skorstein was known around ; that neither he nor any soldier of 
Canute's should be safe if the peasants saw him ; nor would the person be more 
secure who should attempt to assist an enemy. 

Vlft, conscious of his danger, drew a gold ring from his finger, and proffered it to 
the youth, if he would conduct him to his friends. Godwin contemplated it awhile ; 
but that greatness of mind which sometimes accompanies talents even in a lowly 
state, glowed witliln him ; and, in an emanation of a noble spirit, he exclaimed, " I 
will not accept your ring, but I will try to lead you to your friends. If I succeed, 
reward me as you please." 

He led Ulfr first to his father's humble mansion, and the earl received an hos- 
pitable refreshment. 

When the shades of night promised secrecy, two horses were saddled, and Ulfnadr, 
the father, bade the earl farewell. *• We commit to you our only son, and hope, 
that if you reach the king, and your influence can avail, you will get him admitted 
into the royal household. Here he cannot stiy ; for, should our party know that 
he preserved you, his safety would be doubtful." Perhaps Ulfnadr remembered 
the high fortunes of his uncle EdriCj who was now duke of Mercia ; and hoped that, 






if his son could get a station in the royal palace, he might, like Edric, ascend from 
poverty to greatness. 

Godwin was handsome, and fluent in his elocution. His qualities and services 
interested IJlfir, and a promise to provide for him was freely pledged. 

They travelled all night, and in the next day they reached the station of Canute, 
where Ulfr, who was much beloved, was very joyfully received. The grateful Jarl 
placed Godwin on a lofty seat, and had him treated with the respect which his 
own child might have claimed. He continued his attachment so far, as afterwards 
to marry him to Gyda, his sister. To oblige Ulfr, Canute, in time, raised Godwin 
to the dignity of Jarl. Knytlinga Saga, 105. and 131 — 133. 




Canute the Great 

Canute, from his warlike ability, sumamed the Brave; chap. 
from his renown and empire, the Great ; from his ca^J'te 
liberality, the Rich ; and from his devotion, the ^^^ Q***^- 
Pious ^ obtained, on Edmund's death, the sovereignty loie. 
of all England at the age of twenty.'^ 

The Northerns have transmitted to us the portrait 
of Canute : he was large in stature, and very power- 
ful; he was fair, and distinguished for his beauty; 
his nose was thin, eminent, and aquiline; his hair 
was profuse ; his eyes bright and fierce.^ 

He was chosen king by general assent; his par- 
tisans were numerous in the country, and who could 
resist his power ? His measures to secure his crown 
were sanguinary and tyrannical; but the whole of 
Canute's character breathes an air of barbaric 
grandeur. He was formed by nature to tower amidst 
his contemporaries : but his country and his education 
intermixed his greatness with a ferocity that compels 
us to shudder while we admire. In one respect he 
Avas fortunate ; his mind and manners refined as his 
age matured. The first part of his reign was cruel 

^ Dr. Hickes*8 dedication to his Thesaurus. His baptismal name was Lambert 
Frag. Isl. 2 Lang. 426. 

* The Knytllnga Saga, and Olave Tryggvason Saga, state Canute to have been 
but ten years old at his father*s death. If so, he could be only twelve at his 
accession. This Is not probable. One document speaks more truly. Snorre, in 
his Saga af Magnusi Goda, states Canute to have been forty when he died. This 
was in 1035; and therefore in 1016, he must have been twenty-one. Snorre's 
words are, " Eodem autumno vita functus est rex Knutus potens in Anglia idibus 
Novembris natus tunc anno9 quadraginta" c. iv. p. 7. 

* Knytllnga Saga, p. 1 48. 






the Great. 


and despotic. His latter days shone with a glory 
more unclouded. 

His first policy was against the children of Ethel- 
red and Edmund. One of his scallds, Sighvatr, sings 
that all the sons of Ethelred he slew or banished.^ 
The Saxon annalist assures us that he determined at 
first to exile Edwig, the half-brother of Edmund; 
but finding the English nobles both submissive and 
adulating, he proceeded to gratify his ambition by 
taking the prince's life. The infamous Edric sug- 
gested to him a man, Ethelwold, a nobleman of high 
descent, who would undertake to accomplish his 
criminal desires. The king incited Ethelwold to the 
measure. " Acquiesce with my wishes, and you 
shall enjoy securely all the honour and dignity of 
your ancestors. Bring me his head, and you shall 
be dearer to me than a brother." This was the lan- 
guage of a northern vikingr, to whom human life 
was of no value. Ethelwold aflfected a compliance ; 
but his seeming readiness was but an artifice to get 
the child into his power, and to preserve his life. 
Edwig did not ultimately escape. The next year he 
was deceived by those whom he most esteemed ; and, 
by Canute's request and command, he was put to 
death. ^ 

With the same guilty purpose, he seized Edward 
and Edmund the children of the last king; but he 
was counselled that the country would not endure 
their destruction. Alarmed from immediate crime, 
he sent thein to the king of Sweden, to be killed. 
This prince was too noble to be a murderer, and had 
them conveyed to Salomon, the king of Hungary, to 

* Attamen singulo?. 
Deinceps flliorum Adelradl 
Vel interfecit Cuutus 

Vel proscripsit. 

Sigvatr Knutzdrapu, quoted in Knytl. Saga, p. 140. 

• rior. Wig. 390, 391. 



be preserved and educated.^ One died; the other, 
Edward, married Agatha, the daughter of Henry, 
the German emperor; and their issue was Edgar 
Atheling, who will be remembered in a future reign. 

Canute, reserving to himself the immediate govern- 
ment of Wessex, conmiitted East Anglia to Turketul, 
whose valour had greatly contributed to the subjec- 
tion of England. He gave Mercia to Edric, and 
North umbria to his friend Eric, the Norwegian 
prince. He made a public treaty of amity with the 
English chiefs and people, and by mutual agreement 
all enmities were laid aside. In the same year, the 
solemn compact was violated; for he slew three 
English noblemen without a fault.^ He banished 
Edwig, the king of the peasants^, and divided the 
estates of the nobles among his Danish friends. 

The punishment of Edric would have been a 
homage to virtue from any other person than Canute. 
The crime he prompted he should not have punished. 
But it is an observation almost as old as human na- 
ture, that traitors are abhorred by their employers. 
In the first days of Canute's unsettled throne, he 
confirmed Edric in his Mercian dukedom; but having 
used the profligate Saxon to establish his dignity, on 
tlic next claim of reward, he expressed his latent 
feelings. Edric imprudently boasted of his services : 
" I first deserted Edmund, to benefit you ; for you I 
killed him." Canute coloured ; for the anger of con- 
scious guilt and irrepressible shame came upon him. 
'* 'Tis fit, then, you should die, for your treason to 




the Great 


• Flor. Wig. 391. 

» Sine culpa. Flor. 391. Mailros, 155. The Encomium Emmie says, he killed 
many princes : ** Multos principum quadam die occidere pro hujusmodi dolo 
juberet" The dolus here alleged was, that they had deceived Edmund. Their 
real crime may have been that they were powerful, and that their submission was 
dubious. Ingulf, 58., and the Annals of Burton, 247., mention some of Edric's 
friends as killed. 

• Cyopla t-yns. Sajc. Chron. 151. qui rex appellabatur rusticorum. Flor. Wi?. 
398. Brompton says he was the brother of Edmund, 907. ; but I doubt that this 
is an error. 








God and me. You killed your o^vn lord ! him who 
by treaty and friendship was my brother ! your blood 
the Great. \yQ upon youF owu head, for murdering the Lord's 
1016. anointed ; your own lips bear witness against you." 
The villain who perpetrated the fact was confounded 
by the hypocrite who had countenanced it. Eric, 
the ruler of Norway, was called in, that the royal in- 
tention might be secretly executed. He struck down 
the wretch with his battle-axe, and the body was 
thrown from the window into the Thames, before 
any tumult could be raised among his partisans.^ 
The two sons of Ethelred, by Emma, were sheltered 
in Normandy. 

Canute married Emma, called also Elfgiva, the 
widow of Ethelred. He distinguished his next year 
by a most oppressive exaction: from London he 
compelled 10,500 pounds, and from the rest of the 
kingdom 72,000. 

To soothe the country, he sent home the largest 
portion of his Danish troops, keeping only forty 
vessels in England. In this he displayed the confi- 
dence of a noble mind. He maintained an exact 
equality between the two nations, in ranks, council, 
and war. In 1019, England was so tranquil, that 
he went to Denmark, and passed the winter in his 
native country. 

Canute maintained his dignity with a severe hand. 
Li 1020, after his return from the Baltic, he held a 
great council in the Easter festivity at Cirencester. 
At this he banished the duke Ethelwerd. In 1021, 
he also exiled the celebrated Turketul. 

In this year the Anglo-Saxons obscurely intimate 
that Canute went to Denmark, where he was attacked 


* Thit narration is taken from Malmsb. 73. compared with Encom. Emmc 
The circumstances of his death are told differently, as usual. Florence admits 
that he was killed in the king*8 palace ; but one says, that he was hanged ; another, 
that he was strangled; another, that he was beheaded. Human testimony is 
characterised by these petty variations. 





by Ulfr and Eglaf, with a fleet and army from 
Sweden. In one struggle Canute was unsuccessful ; 
but afterwards the young earl Godwin attacked the the Great 
enemies of Canute by surprise, with the English 1025. 
troops, and obtained a complete victory. This event 
raised Godwin and the English very greatly in the 
king's estimation. ^^ 

The Eglaf was St. Olave, who had possessed him- 
self of the kingdom of Norway. Canute, occupied 
by his English crown, made at first no pretensions 
to the Norwegian sceptre. ^^ The submission of 
England gave him leisure to turn the eye of ambition 
to the mountains of Norway.^^ Claims, those slight 
veils with which states desirous of war always cover 
their unjust projects, to conceal their deformity from 
the giddy populace ; claims adapted to interest the 
passions of vulgar prejudice, existed to befriend Ca- 
nute. His father had conquered Norway; his rela- 
tion, Haco, had been driven from it. Many of the 
people who had most loudly welcomed St. Olave, had 
become dissatisfied at his innovations, and invited 
Canute to interfere. ^^ 

The detail of the struggle between Canute and 
St. Olave need not be narrated here. Ulfr at first 
was among the enemies of Canute. He was after- 
wards pardoned and reconciled ^* ; and in the king's 
conflict with the Swedes, was the means of saving 
Canute's life.^^ 

At a feast in Roschild, Canute, according to Snorre, 
quarrelled with Ulfr at gaming. The indignant Jarl 
prudently retired. Canute taunted him on his 
cowardice for withdrawing. " Was I a coward when 
I rescued you from the fangs of the Swedish dogs ? " 
was the answer of the irritated Ulfr. Canute went 

» Sax. Chron. 164. Matt. West 405. " Snorre, vol. il. p. 144. 

» Ibid. p. 212. w Ibid. 212, 213. 

>* See Snorre, 26 — 69. ; and compare Saxo*i account, 195, 196. 
» Snorre, 271,272 

U 2 




the Great 
^— V ' 




to his couch, and slept upon his resentment ; but his 
fierce and haughty soul waked in the morning to 
demand blood. He sent his mandate, and Ulfr was 
stabbed in a church which he had entered. ^^ Canute 
descended so far beneath the courage of a hero, as 
to corrupt the subjects of Olave from their fidelity by 
money ^^^ Canute supported his insidious negotia- 
tions by a powerful fleet. Fifty ships of English 
thanes were with him ; and every district in Norway 
which he approached accepted him as its lord.^^ He 
exacted for hostages the sons and dearest relations 
of the chiefs of Norway, and appointed Haco, the 
son of his friend Eric, to be the governor of his con- 

St. Olave retired before the storm, which he was 
unable to confront, and took shelter in Russia. Haco 
sailed to England for his wife ; but he was doomed 
to visit Norway no more. The last time his ship was 
seen on his return, was, late in the day, off Caithness, 
in Scotland; a furious storm was raging, and the 
wind was driving him towards the Pentland Firth : 
neither the vessel nor any of its mariners appeared 
again/^^ In the next year, St. Olave returned; but 
perished from the insurrection of his subjects, whom 
he had offended by his laws to accelerate their civi- 

In 1031, Canute penetrated Scotland, and subdued 
Malcolm, and two other kings.^^ Snorre says, he 
conquered great part of it.^^ 

Canute had the fame of reigning over six king- 

" Snorre, 276, 277. 

" Flor. Wig. 393. Theodorlc, p. 29. Snorre, 278. 

" Snorre, 295. «• Ibid. 296. 

» Ibid. 321. Theodoric says, he was lost in tbc whirlpool of the Pentland 

" Sax. Chron. 154. Hen. Hunt. 364. A northern scalld calls the kings, the 
two kings of Fife. 

^ P. 144. The Knytllnga Saga ndds, that he appointed his son Harald to 
govern his conquests. On the gigantic bones said to be found, 1520, in the place 
of the conflicts between Canute and Malcolm, they who think it worth while may 
read Stephanius*s note on Saxo, p. 27. 



doms.^ As a soldier he was certainly eminent ; but, 
fortunately for his fame, a few incidents have been 
preserved concerning him, which rescue his character 
from the charge of indiscriminate barbarism, and 
claim for him the reputation of a lofty mind. 

He seems to have been one of those men, who feel 
that they are born to merit the approbation of future 
generations, and whose actions become sublimer, as 
their name seems likely to be perpetuated. He lived 
to posterity as well as to his country. It was in this 
strain, that, having in a moment of intemperance killed 
a soldier, and by that criminal deed violated a law 
which he had enforced on others, he assembled his 
troops, descended from his splendid throne, arraigned 
himself for his crime, expressed his penitence, but 
demanded a punishment. He proclaimed impunity 
for their opinions to those whom he appointed his 
judges; and, in the sight of all, cast himself humbly 
on the ground, awaiting their sentence. A burst of 
tears, at his greatness of soul, bedewed every spec- 
tator. They respectfully withdrew to deliberate, as 
he had required, and at last determined to let him 
appoint and inflict his own punishment. The king 
accepted the task. Homicide was at that time punish- 
able by a mulct of forty talents. He fined himself 
three hundred and sixty, and added nine talents of 
gold as a further compensation.^'* 

There is something in the incident of the sea, 
which discovers a mind of power, looking far beyond 
the common associations of mankind. Canute had 
conquered many countries. In an age of valour and 
enterprise, his exploits had equalled the most adven- 
turous. Poets embodied in tlieir melodies the admi- 
ration of his people, and directed to his heart those 

° Saxo, 196. ; and see Encom. Eramse, 492* He prevailed on Conrad. II to 
restore him to the Margraviate of Sleswick : and the Eider then became the northern 
boundary of Germariy. 1 Putt. Uist 1 54. 

»• Saxo, 199. 

u 3 


the Great. 






the Great. 

* ^ » 



praises, with which all Europe resounded. Encom- 
passed 'svith flattery and subjection, Canute's mind 
may have been swollen into temporary presumption. 
He may in the frenzies of vanity have fancied, like 
an Alexander, that he was scarcely a mortal. But 
his mind was too powerful to continue the slave of 
his conceit. The more he gazed on nature, the more 
he felt the adorable Being who governed him, as well 
as his people; the more he was humbled with the 
conviction of his individual insignificance. To com- 
municate his solemn sensations, with all their impres- 
sions, to his adulating friends, he ordered the chair 
of his dignity to be placed on the sea-beach. His 
courtiers formed around him ; the tide was undulating 
to the shore, and Canute seated himself before it. 
" Ocean, the island on which I sit is mine, and thou 
art a part of my dominion. None of my subjects 
dare to resist my orders ; I therefore command thee 
that thou ascend not my coasts, nor presume to wet 
the borders of my robes." 

In vain the mandate issued. He was not the 
master whom the waters reverenced ; and in con- 
tempt of his authority every wave drew nearer to his 
feet, till the general elevation of the ocean covered 
his legs with its billows. It was then that he ex- 
pressed the noble sentiment, which was impressing 
his mind. " Let every dweller upon the earth con- 
fess that the power of kings is frivolous and vain. 
He only is the Great Supreme, let Him only be 
honoured with the name of Majesty, whose nod, 
whose everlasting laws, the heavens, the earth, and 
sea, with all their hosts, obey." In conformity to 
this sublime feeling, Canute would never afterwards 
wear his crown.^^ 

Among the kingly qualities in which Canute strove 

» I have stated this Incident from Matt West p. 409. ; lien. Hunt 364. ; Bad. 
Die 469. ; Iligden and Brompton. 


to excel, his liberality was distinguished.^^ Master ^^^'^^' 
of the tributes of several kinofdoms, his resources cwiute 
were equal to the munificence of his heart. His ^ . 
journey from Flanders to Rome was a stream of ex- 1031. 
pensive generosity. Whoever approached him was 
fed and cherished without a request.^^ Canute's pre- 
sents in general had three objects ; charity, literature, 
and public services. 

The literature of his age was in the hands of two 
very different bodies of men; the clergy and the 
scallds. Both have extolled his liberality .^^ Of the 
scallds who attended him, the names and verses of 
many have survived to us. Sighvatr, Ottar the 
Swarthy, Thordr Kolbeinson, and Thorarin Loftunga, 
are among those whose historical poems or panegy- 
rics have been much cited by Snorre in his northern 

Thorarin was celebrated for the richness and ce- 
lerity of his muse. He gave a striking specimen of 
this faculty. He had made a short poem on Canute, 
and went to recite it in his presence. On approach- 
ing the throne, he received a salute, and respectfully 
inquired if he might repeat what he had composed. 
The king was at table at the close of a repast ; but a 
crowd of petitioners were occupying their sovereign's 
ear by a statement of their grievances. The impa- 
tient poet may have thought them unusually loqua- 
cious : he bore the tedious querulousness of injury 
with less patience than the king, and, at last, pre- 
suming on his general favour with the great, ex- 
claimed, " Let me request again. Sire, that you would 

* Knytlinga Saga, 143. 

^ Ibid. 1 44, 1 45. Encomium Emms, 1 73. 

» Eor his donations to tbc church, sec Matt. West 404, 405. 409. ; Encom. 
Emma?, 173. ; and others. In mentioning bis resources from his kingdoms, the 
Knytlinga Saga gives to our country the praise of that superior affluence which it 
seems, in every age, to have displayed : '** inter omnes septentrionales terras, opum 
ac thesaurorum Anglia facile sit diti<sima,'* p. 146. 

» In the second volume passim. Sighvatr was the son of Thordr, a scalld. 
Snorre, 45. 

U 4 


BOOK listen to my song ; it will not consume much of your 

Canute time, foF it is very short." The king, angry at the 

the Great petulant urgcucy of the solicitation, answered, with 

1031. a stern look, " Are you not ashamed to do what none 

but yourself has dared — to write a short poem upon 

me? Unless by to-morrow's dinner you produce 

above thirty strophes, on the same subject, your head 

shall be the penalty." The poet retired — not with 

alarm, for his genius disdained that, but with some 

mortification at the public rebuke. He invoked his 

Scandinavian Muses ; his mind became fluent ; verses 

crowded on it ; and before the allotted time he stood 

before the king with the exacted poem, and received 

fifty marks of pure silver as his reward.^^ 

As private anecdotes best display the real character, 
another may be permitted; and perhaps it will be 
most picturesque to give it in the words of the re- 
cording eye-witness. It occurred^ upon Canute's 
journey to Rome, at St. Omer's. 

" Entering the monasteries, where he was received 
with great honour, he walked humbly, he fixed his 
eyes on the ground with wonderful reverence ; and 
pouring out (if I may say so) rivers of tears, he im- 
plored the aid of the saints. But when the moment 
came of presenting his gifts upon the altar, how often 
did he impress tlie pavement with his kisses ! how often 
did he strike his venerable breast ! what sighs ! what 
prayers that he might not be found unworthy of the 
mercy of the Supreme ! At length his attendants 
stretched forth his munificent oblation, which the 
king himself placed on the altar. But why do I say 
the altar, when I remember that I myself saw him go 
round every part of the monasteries, and pass no 

* Knytlinga Saga, 146, 147. Snorre mentions this shortly, p. 297. The poet 
afterwards, in his Tugdrapa, sung the present. See the stanza in Knytl. p. 147. 
His short poem was of the kind which Snorre says, ** we call Flok.'* The longer 
was of the sort called Drapa. Snorre, p. 297. lie gives a long <ipecimen of the 
Drapa, pp. 298, 299., and a specimen of the Flok, p. 303. 


altar, however small, on which he did not leave a ciiap. 


present, and which he did not salute ? Then came Canute 
the poor, and were all separately relieved. These *^*^ ^^'^*^ 
and other bounties of the lord Canute, I your slave ! ' loai. 
Oh, St. Omer, St. Bcrtin, myself beheld in your mo- 
nasteries; for which do you pray that such a king 
may live in the heavenly habitations, as your ser- 
vants, the canons and monks, are daily petitioning."^^ 

This incident is inserted, because it aflfords a 
striking contrast to some actions of Canute's earlier 
life. A Dunstan might have acted such a scene for 
its theatrical effect. But in the proud master of so 
many conquered kingdoms, the emotions must have 
been those of his mind and heart. 

Canute has himself described his journey to Rome 
in a public document, addressed to all the orders of 
the English nation ^^: he says, he went for the re- 
demption of his sins, and the welfare of his subjects ; 
that he had projected it before, but had been hindered 
by business and other impediments. He adds : 

" Be it known to you, that there was a great as- 
sembly of nobles at the Easter solemnity, with the 
lord the pope John, and Conrad the emperor.^ 
There were all the princes of the people, from Mount 
Gargano to the sea, who all received me with dignity, 
and honoured me with valuable presents. I was 
particularly honoured with various gifts and costly 
presents from the emperor, as well with gold and 
silver vessels, as with very rich apparel. I spake 
with the emperor, the pope, and the princes, on the 
necessities of my English and Danish subjects, that 
a more equal law, and better safeguard, might be 
granted to them in their journies to Rome ; that they 
might not be hindered at so many fortified passages, 

" Encomium Emma, 173. 

« This letter of Canute's is in Flor. Wig. 394—397, ; Ingulf, 59—61. ; and 
Malmsb. pp. 74, 75. Its substance is stated in Matt. West 407., and elsewhere. 
" lie was the fourth emperor after Otho the Great 






the Great 


nor oppressed by such unjust exactions. The em- 
peror assented, and Rodolph, the king^*, who rules 
most of the passages, and all the princes established, 
that my subjects, whether merchants or travellers 
from piety, might go and return to Rome without 
detention or exaction. 

" I also complained before the pope, and expressed 
myself highly displeased that such an immensity of 
money should be extorted from my archbishops when 
they came to Rome for the pall. It was declared 
that this should not happen again." 

Canute, after mentioning that these concessions 
were ratified by oaths before four archbishops, twenty 
bishops, and an innumerable multitude of dukes and 
nobles, exclaims : " Therefore I return my liberal 
thanks to Almighty God, that all things which I 
desired, I have prosperously achieved as I had con- 
templated, and have fulfilled all my wishes." 

In the subsequent paragraphs of his public letter, 
he alludes nobly to his former conduct. In viewing 
his past actions with sentiments of regret, and in 
publicly confessing that he intends an amendment, 
he displays a greatness of mind which kings of such 
successful ambition have seldom reached. Canute 
is an instance, rarely paralleled, of a character im- 
proved by prosperity. His worst actions were in his 
days of peril. When the full glory of established and 
multiplied power shone around him, his heart became 
humble, pious, and ennobled. Educated among vi- 
kingr, his first misconduct may be referred to his 
tuition. His latter feelings were the produce of his 
improved intellect and magnanimity. 

** In Florence he is called Rodiilph ; so in Malmsb. 74. But in Ingulph, both 
in Gale's edition, p. 60. and that of Frankfort, p. 893., he is named Robert. The 
difference is not merely verbal. Rodulph was the king of Burgundy ; and Robert, 
the son and successor of Hugh Capet, was the king of France. But as the clausurc, 
or fortified passages, of which Canute speaks, were probably those of the Alps, which 
Rodulph commanded ; and as Robert died In 1030, and Canute's journey Is usually 
placed in 1031, there can be no doubt that Rodulph is the right reading. 


"Be it also known to all, that I have vowed to chap. 
Almighty God, to govern my life henceforward by Canute 
rectitude, to rule my kingdoms and people justly, and !^^ ^'^^ 
piously to observe equal judgment every where ; and loai. 
a/, through the intemperance and negligence of my youth^ 
I have done what was not justj I will endeavour here- 
afterj by God's help^ entirely to amend it. Therefore 
I beseech and command all my conciliarii, to whom 
I have confided the councils of my kingdom, that 
they in no shape suflTer or consent to any injustice 
throughout my realm, neither from fear of me, nor 
from favour to any person of power ; I command all 
the sheriffs and governors of all my realm, as they 
value my friendship or their own safety, that they 
impose unjust violence on no man, whether rich or 
poor; but that the noble and their inferiors, the 
wealthy and the needy, may enjoy their property 
justly. This enjoyment must not be infringed in 
any manner, neither in behalf of the king, nor any 
other man of power, nor on the pretext of collecting 
money for me, because there is no necessity that 
money should be obtained for me by unjust exaction." 

After alluding to some enemies whom he had paci- 
fied, and mentioning that he was returning to Den- 
mark, whence, as soon in the summer as he could 
procure shipping, he proposed to visit England; he 
continues : 

" I have sent this letter first, that all my people 
may rejoice in my prosperity, because, as you your- 
selves know, I have never forborne to apply myself 
and my labour, nor will I ever forbear to devote 
either to the necessary utility of all my people." 

These patriotic sentiments, from a royal pen, are 
highly valuable. Such kings give new splendour to 
their thrones, and secure to themselves that perpe- 
tuity of fame which mortality so covets. 



The Reign of Harold the Firsts surnamed Hakefoot. 

BOOK Canute, at his death ^, left three sons, Svein, Harold, 
Harold and Hardicanute. In his life he had placed Svein 
the First ^y^^ NoFway^ and he wished that Harold should 
1035. rule in England, and Hardicanute in Denmark, At 
the council which met at Oxford to elect a new sove- 
reign, the opinions were divided. The chiefs of 
Danish descent and connections chose Harold; the 
West-Saxons, headed by earl Godwin, preferred his 
brother Hardicanute, because his mother, Emma, 
"had been the wife of Etheired, and was a favourite 
with the Anglo-Saxons. The children of Etheired 
who were in Normandy were also remembered ; but 
the Danish dynasty was not yet unpopular, and 
Harold, by force or influence, obtained a portion of 
the kingdom, and seized the treasures which Emma 
possessed from the gift of Canute.^ Harold, at first, 
reigned at London, and north of the Thames; and 
Hardicanute in the west of England. 

The murder of Alfred, one of the sons of Emma 
by Etheired, lies heavy on the memory both of 
Harold and Godwin.* 

> He died at Shaftesbury, the 12th of November, 1034. MS. Tib. B. 1. 

' Snorre, Saga Olafl Helga, p. 383. Florence calls his mother Northamtunensis 
Alfgiv« fllie Alf helmi Duels, p. 398. Snorre names her Alfifo dottor AlfHms 

' Flor. Wig. 396. MS. Sax. Chron. Tib. B. 1, It is said of Harold that he was 
not Canute's son, but a cobler*s. The tnle is, that his mother, having given no 
children to Canute, pretended pregnancy, and introduced first Svein, and afterwards 
Harold, as her own children. As Snorre does not mention it of Svein, it is pro- 
bable that in both cases the rumour was the ofTspring of malignant competition. 
The author of Enc. Em., though he believes it, adduces only the irfurimorum assertio 
for it, which is a better description of a rumour than of a fact. Florence states it 
as a res in dublo. 

* I state this from the Encomium Emmie. The author addresses his acconnt to 


Harold, thouffh nominated king, could not obtain chap. 

O O' Til 

from the archbishop the regal benediction, because ii»roid 
the children of Emma were alive. The archbishop, }^^ ^*"^. 
instead of committing to Harold the crown and 1035. 
sceptre, placed them on the altar, and forbad the 
bishops to give their benediction. 

This conduct produced the eflfects which might 
easily have been foreseen. Harold despised the bene- 
diction as useless, and contracted a hatred against 
the Christian religion, and the children of Emma. 
When others were attending divine service, he called 
out his hunting dogs, or studied to occupy himself 
in some contemptuous pursuit. To get the youths, 
so imprudently set against him, into his power, he 
forged a letter to them in their mother's name, in- 
veigliing against himself, and desiring one to come 
to her to be counselled as to his conduct. The an- 
swer of the princes from Normandy expressed their 
obedience, and appointed a day and place. At the 
time so named, Alfred, the youngest, chose his mili- 
tary companions, and sailed. His waiting enemies 
too eagerly pressed on him when about to land, and 
he sailed to another part, still unconscious of the 
deceit. Godwin, now become a courtier to Harold, 
met him in the garb of friendship, and with the 
mockery of oaths. The innocent youth followed him 
to Guildford ; there his warlike friends were artfully 

the mother herself, by whose orders he wrote it. (See his prolc^ue. ) Uc apologises 
to her for his brevity on Alfred's sufferings, and says, "Posscnt cnlm multa dici 
ai non tuo parceremus dolori," p. 176. Considering, however, that he wrote to the 
youth's mother, his detail is sometimes horrible, for he descrilies part of their 
progress of operation. Malmsbury says, the deed to()k place between Harold's 
death and Hardicanute's election, p. 77. ; but this cannot prevail against the con- 
temporary above cited, strengthened as it is as to its occurrence under Harold, by 
Flor. 399. ; Matt. West. 410. ; and Hoveden, 438. Two of these make 600 men 
to have perished. The printed Saxon Chronicle has nothing of it. The MS Tib. 
B. 1., gives a long account of it It thus mentions the fate of the companions : 
" Dir ??ere|iaii he tobpaf T jiunie iuij*1ice orrloh, Turae hi man pith r*'0 r**^^» 
pime bpeolice ac pealbe, pinie hi man beiibe, fume hi man bltnbe, j*unie ba- 
melobe, f""'*? hwtxobc." It adds, ** Ne pcapth hpeopliepe ba"b Jibon on tbiroii 
eapbe fycbthan Dene comon. 



BOOK It was, however, a laudable trait of fraternal affec- 

VI • • • 

iiardu tion in Hardicanute, that he welcomed the arrival of 
Canute, j^jg half-brother Edward in England.^ The son of 
1040. Ethelred was a more grateful object to the English, 
than the son of a foreign conqueror. In caressing 
so kindly a brother so dangerous, Hardicanute dis- 
played a virtue in which an Athelstan was wanting. 

His health w^s frequently assailed by disease^; 
but he ended his two years' reign by an act of in- 
temperance, at a nuptial feast at Lambeth : a copious 
draught, as he stood in the mirthful company, occa- 
sioned him to fall senseless to the ground. He spake 
no more. He died in June, and was buried with 
Canute at Winchester.^ 

His death separated the crowns of England and 
Denmark ; and Magnus, the king of Norway, ob- 
tained the Danish sceptre. 

• Malmsb. 76. Flor. W!g. 403. 

' Ob morbos etiam quos frequenter paticbatur. Guil. Pict. 179. 

* Flor. Wig. 403. Ingulf, 62. MS. Tib. B. 1. and B. 4. contain passages on bis 
death not in the printed Chronicle. 




The Reign of £dward the ConfeMor. 

The Danish line had now become unpopular: the 
factions, which the administration of Dunstan had at 
first excited, had ceased, and a new generation had 
arisen. The nation inclined again to its ancient line; 
and Edward, the surviving son of Ethelred, and at 
that time in England, was chosen to be king. While 
Edward and his brother were friendless exiles, God- 
win was their enemy, and even projected their assas- 
sination ; but became the zealous partisan of Edward, 
and eagerly assisted to introduce him to the throne, 
when Canute's issue failed.^ The king was induced 
to marry Editha, the daughter of Godwin ^ ; but was 
neither ardent in his connubial nor filial attentions. 
At no long period after his coronation, he went, with 
three earls, suddenly to his mother, and spoiled her 
of all the property which she possessed.^ 

Edward was at first menaced with the competition 
of Magnus, the king of Norway, who had subdued 
Denmark into obedience. Magnus sent letters to 





Confessor. ' 


> Ingulf, 62. Malmsbury states at length a sort of bargain which Godwin 
made with Edward, before he supported him, 80. 

' Ingulf knew her, and describes her as very beautiful, meek, modest, fkithflil, 
virtuous, and the enemy of no one. She had none of the barbarism of her father 
and brothers. She was even literts apprime erudita, a lady of learning. He adds, 
*' I have very often seen her, when only a boy. I visited my father in the royal 
court. Often as I came from school she questioned me on letters and my verse ; 
and, wUllngly passing from grammar to logic, she caught me in the subtle nets of 
argument. I had always three or four pieces of money counted by her maiden, 
and was sent to the royal larder for refreshment,'* p. 62. But even this fair rose, 
as the chroniclers call her, was stained with blood. Sec further. 

* Flor.404. Sox. Chron. 157. In the Appendix to the Saxon Dictionary, a 
fragment of a Saxon Chronicle is quoted, £. Cod. MS. O. Lambardi exarata in 
Bib. Ecc. Chr. Canterb. The fragment begins with Edward's reign. It is not the 
same with the printed one, or with the two MSS. in the Cotton Library. I shall 
quote it as Lamb. MS. 








EdwarcP, claiming the crown, and Edward assembled 
a great fleet at Sandwich to dispute his landing.^ 
Embarrassed by a rival for his Danish sceptre, in 
Svein, the son of Ulfr, Magnus resolved not to risk 
the enterprise.^ 

Svein requested the aid of Edward against Mag- 
nus; and Godwin, whose first patron had been 
Svein's father, urged that fifty ships should be sent 
to him. But as Magnus was known to be well skilled 
in maritime affairs, the earl Leofric and the rest of 
the council opposed it as unadvisable.^ Magnus soon 
drove out Svein from Denmark, but died much la- 
mented the same year.^ Svein then obtained the 
Danish crown ; and Harald Hardrada, who after- 
wards perished in his invasion of England, the son of 
Syguard Syr, and, by his mother, the brother of 
St. Olave, succeeded in Norway.^ Harald is highly 
extolled for his wisdom. ^^ He sent letters of friend- 
ship to Edward, whose amicable answer established 
peace between their kingdoms. Thus passed over 
the disturbing question between England and the 
Baltic states. Edward and his council wisely suf- 
fered the hostility to die quietly away. Hence 
Svein's second application for assistance against 
Harald, though again supported by Godwin, was 
negatived by the good sense of Leofric and the com- 

• As the successor of Hardicanute. Snorre magncsl Goda, c. 38, 39. 
» Lamb. MS. Sax. Chron. at Cambridge. 

• « I think it," he declared, " right and most convenient that I should let Edwanl 
cixjoy his crown, and content myself with the kingdoms which God has given me." 
Snorre, p. 52. 

' Hor. 406, 407. Lamb. MSS. 

• Lamb. MSS. Snorre says, that he dreamt that his father appeared to him, 
saying, " Choose, my son, whether you will become my companion immediately, or 
live long the most powerful of kings, but by the commission of a crime that can 
never be expiated." The choice of Magnus was perplexed, but he decided with 
discreet virtue. " Father ! do you choose for me. " — "Be with me," was the answer 
of the vision. Snorre adds, that he awoke, told his dream, and afterwards died, 
liar. Hard. c. 28. 

• Snorre, c. 30, 31. Flor. 407. »• Snorre, c. 36. 
" Flor. 407. 



The character of Edward was amiable for its gen- 
tleness and kindness ; and laudable for its piety ; but 
it did not unite strength of mind with these interest- 
ing qualities. There is a simplicity in his exclamation 
to the low peasant who had displeased him, " I would 
hurt you if I were able," which almost implies imbe- 
cility. Men of rank and power, however inferior in 
understanding, know sufficiently their means of ag- 
gression against those of meaner condition who offend 
them. That Edward, when angry enough to desire 
to punish, should suppose that, although king, he 
had not the power, displays an ignorance of his 
authority that is not reconcilable with his intellect. 
But as he reigned with more virtue, so he had better 
fortune, than his father. His mild and equitable 
government was so popular, that a festival is said to 
have been annually celebrated in England, to express 
the national joy at the deliverance from the Danish 
kings.^^ His provinces were under the administration 
of men of talents appointed by his predecessors.^^ 
The unanimity of the country gave effect to their 
measures. England again became respected abroad, 
and no foreign power attempted to disturb its tran- 

But a new cause of internal discussion and con- 
test, and ultimately of a great revolution, was silently 
rising up from preceding events. The marriage of 
Ethelred to a princess of Normandy ; the residence 
of this king during his exile, and of his children 
afterwards, at that court: Canute's subsequent mar- 
riage with this lady : and Edward's education in the 
same country, had raised an attachment to the Nor- 
man manners and nation, not only in Edward's mind, 
but in those of the nobles who had resided abroad 





*2 Spelman, Gloss. Voc. Uocday. 

» Malmsb. 79. 

X 2 





with his father and himself, or had visited them in 

The Frankish nation had rapidly improved since 
the reign of Charlemagne. The effects of the Roman 
civilisation were extensive and permanent, and the 
ardent zeal of the Christian clergy had greatly con- 
tributed to humanise and soften their martial fierce- 
ness. The unwarlike characters of the successors of 
Charlemagne had tended to increase the civilising 
spirit. The Normans, from their contiguity, partook 
of the melioration of the French manners; and to 
Edward's milder temper these were peculiarly con* 
genial. The Anglo-Saxons could not have been 
equally improved by the ruder Danes. Hence Ed- 
ward found at first more that he could sympathise 
with in Normandy than in England, and therefore 
invited or admitted many Normans into his favour. 
Robert, one of them, was made, after various pro- 
motions, archbishop of Canterbury. Another was 
raised to an episcopal see ; others also attained offices 
of rank and power. From the king's partiality, the 
French manners came into use ; their language, and 
their legal forms, began also to be diffused.^* 

The Norman favourites awakened the jealousy of 
Godwin, and were obstacles to his ambition. But 
the counteracting power of Leofric, the wise earl of 
Mercia, and of Siward, the earl of Northumbria, and 
distinguished for heroic valour, kept Godwin tranquil 
till a cruel violence of one of the noble foreigners 
gave him a popular reason for expressing his dis- 

It was in 1051, that Godwin presumed to give 
defiance to the king. The count of Boulogne, who 
had married Edward's sister, came to Dover. In a 
foolish effort to obtain or compel entertainment, his 

M lognlf, 62. ; tnd sec Malmsbury, 80., on the enmity between Godwin and 


followers killed an Englishman. The citizens re-' 
venged it; the count, committing himself to the 
guidance of blind fury, rushed with his troops, killed 
many of both sexes in the city, and trampled some 
children under the feet of their horses. Provoked at 
his brutality, the people armed. The endangered 
count fled before their indignation, and went to 
Edward, who was then at Gloucester.^^ 

Availing himself of this event, Godwin raised im- 
mediately, from his own counties of Kent, Sussex, 
and Wessex, a military power. The same occasion 
enabled his son Svein to collect a powerful force 
from the counties of Oxford, Gloucester, Hereford, 
Somerset, and Berks, which he governed; and Harold, 
another son, embracing the same pretext, completed 
his formidable array by a levy from Essex, East 
Anglia, Huntingdon, and Cambridgeshire, which he 

The armies of Godwin and his children could not 
be completed without Edward's knowlege. Mes- 
sengers were immediately sent to his brave protectors 
Leofric and Siward. These governors were earnestly 
desired to come, with all the forces they could as- 
semble, with immediate speed. 

The loyal earls hastened immediately to court. 
Learning the necessity, they sent swiftly-circulated 
orders through all their counties, for armies to be 
raised. The son of the culpable count did the same ; 
and Edward had a prospect of being rescued from 
the tyranny of Godwin.^^ 

The rebellious family marched into Gloucestershire, 
and demanded of the king, under a menace of hos- 
tilities, the count of Boulogne and his followers, and 
the Normans and men of Boulogne, who were in 

The king, terrified, knew not how to act ; he fluc- 

" Flor. 410. >• Flor. Wig. 410. 41 1. 

X 3 











tuated in great anxiety, till he learnt that his friends 
were prepared to support him. An express refusal 
was then returned to Godwin. 

A fierce civil war seemed now about to consume 
the country ; but Godwin was not heroically adven- 
turous, and Leofric was wise. Leofric therefore pro- 
posed that hostages should be exchanged, and that 
Godwin and the king should meet on an appointed 
day in London, and have the alleged subject judi- 
cially determined by the witen-ogemot.^^ 

The proposition was too popular not to be accepted. 
Godwin returned to Wessex; the king ordered a 
^vitena-gemot ^^ to be assembled for the second time 
in London, at the autumnal equinox ; he augmented 
his army, and marched it to London. Godwin and 
his sons occupied Southwark, but soon discovered 
that their partisans were falling away. 

The witena-gemot made the thanes, who were with 
Harold, to find pledges to the king for their conduct, 
and outlawed Svein, who did not think fit to be pre- 
sent at the wither-male, or conciliary meeting. ^^ 
They also cited Godwin and Harold to attend the 
gemot. Godwin, finding his ambitious views darken- 
ing, and dreading a legal inquiry into his conduct, 
did not attempt to face the mtena, but fled in the 

In the morning, the king held the witena-gemot, 
and declared him, his army, and his children, to be 
outlaws.^^ Five days of safety were given them to 
quit the country.^*^ With three of his sons, Godwin 

" Flor.Wig. 411,412.; and see Sax. Chron. 163, 164.: and the MS. Chron. 
Tib. B. 4. 

Tlia s^pacbbe fc cj^nins t hif pican tha man fceolbc othpc r5^han liabbaa 
ealpa sepircna semoc on Lunbene to Iiwprejrcc eninihre. Sax. Chron. 164. 

** "J man bophraix tham c5'nin35 ealle rha rli»suar the paepon l>apolber eoplcf 
hir runa, &c. MS. Tib. B. 4. and Lamb. MS. 

» Siix. Chron. 164. Flor. Wig. 

** T r«J cynj haeph tha on mop7i;cn Witcna Leniot *] cpaeth bine utlase "j calle 
bepc; bine i ealle hif puna. MS. Tib. B. 4. 

^ Sax. Chron. 164. -] pceapebe him mann 5 nibca SPiCb ut op laobe to papenne. 



sailed away, with all the property he could hastily ch^^p- 
amass, into Flanders. Harold, and a brother from Edward 
Bristol, sailed to Ireland. A severe tempest put their 
lives in peril during the voyage. Tlieir sister, the 
queen, was sent to a monastery.^ 

Contrary to every natural expectation, and to his 
own, and to the astonishment of the Anglo-Saxons, 
the house of Godwin seemed now to have fallen for 
ever in England.^^ Released from his intimidations, 
the king became more attached to his Norman friends. 
Invited or obeying a sagacious policy, William, the 
reigning Duke of Normandy, came to England with 
a large company of liis nobles and knights at this 
period, and was received with great honour and 
courtesy by Edward, who entertained him for some 
time, conducted him to his cities and royal castles, 
and loaded him with presents when he returned.*'^'' 
This visit was of importance to William. It intro- 
duced him to tlie knowlege of many of the Englisli 
chiefs, and made his name familiar to the people. It 
began the fonnation of that interest which so power- 
fully assisted him in afterwards acquiring the crown. 
But Ingulf declares that no mention was made of his 
succession to the crown at this visit, nor had he then 
any hope of it. Yet it may have excited William's 
desire to enjoy such a crown, and must have made a 
lively impression on his memory. 

Edward was then living without a prospect of 
issue ; and, excepting one youth in Hungary, the 
crown had no heir. The family of William was con- 
nected with that of Edward by marriage, and Avith Ed- 

» MS. Chron. Tib. B. 4. Flor. 412. 

" The MS. Tib. B. 4. thus expresses the public surprise at the change : 
"Tliatc polbe th>'ncan puiiboplic slcuni men the on Cnsialanbe v^T S"P »"»S 
innn wp chani r«b« rl>a bic fPa Sepuprha fceolbe. Fopchnra be pje]* icp co chain 
rpiche upabareu yryla: be peolbe cbaf tynXtT 1 eallef Cnslalanber,** &c. 

» Flor. 412. Iiiiralf. C5. The MS. Tib. B. 4. mentions his coming, which the 
printed Chronicle omits. 

X 4 



BOOK ward himself by friendship and services. William was 
Edward ^ neighbour, and Edward esteemed him. The family 
^ *?* of Godwin was abased, and no competitor seemed 
likely to arise from the rest of the English. William 
therefore from this time could scarcely contemplate 
the throne of his friend, without coveting its acquisi- 
tion. Any valued good which seems bending to our 
reach, soon excites our cupidity. He may have had 
the pnidence to mark the hopeful ground in judicious 
silence ; but the scheme of his succession must have 
been a project which his mind revolved, and secretly 
prepared to execute. 
1052. The family of Godwin in their exile meditated new 

attempts to regain their power. Harold and his 
brother invaded the West of England with a fleet of 
adventurers collected in Ireland, defeated the king's 
officers, and plundered as they pleased. As Godwin 
was impending with a similar armament, a chosen 
force of forty ships was stationed at Sandwich to 
intercept it. He eluded their vigilance, reached Kent, 
and roused all his friends in the neighbouring counties 
to arm in his behalf. But the king's fleet pursued 
him. He sheltered himself in Pevensey; a storm 
checked the progress of the others, and when they 
made for London, he hovered about the Isle of Wight, 
where Harold joined him, after a voyage of plunder. 
With their united strength, swelled by every aid they 
could allure, they sailed to Sandwich. Edward found 
his friends more tardy than before. Other nobles 
became dissatisfied at the progress of the Normans in 
the king's favour ; and Godwin proceeded, with suc- 
cessful enterprise, to the Thames, and reached South- 
wark. He demanded the restoration of his family. 
His numbers and secret connections were formidable ; 
and to save the shedding of civil blood, Stigand, the 
archbishop, and the wise men, urged an accommoda- 



tion. Their recommendation prevailed. The Nor- 
mans beheld their fate sealed in the pacification, and 
fled in consternation. 

A great council was then convened out of London, 
and all the earls, and the best men that were in the 
land, attended it. Godwin there purged himself 
before the king, his lord, and all the assembly, that 
he was guiltless of the crime of which he had been 
suspected. The king received him in full friendship, 
and granted to him and to his family a complete res- 
toration of their honours. The Normans were all 
legally outlawed. Svein was the only one of the 
exiled family who received no benefit from the revo- 
lutions of its fortunes. He had foully murdered his 
cousin Beom, with every aggravated circumstance of 
abused confidence, and treacherous falsehood. There 
is a sting in murder which goads the consciousness 
long after the world has forgiven it, and which no 
increase of prosperity can destroy. Svein, though 
six years had passed away since his crime, found it 
still his torment ; and to soothe his sensations, he set 
off with naked feet on a walking pilgrimage from 
Flanders to Jerusalem. He died, on his return, in 

The remark of the Sacred poet, that man disquiets 
himself for a vain shadow, is often verified in human death, 
history. A life is sacrificed to suffering, that a fa- 
vourite object may be gained. We reach the seat of 
the felicity we have sighed for, and while our arms 
are extended to grasp it, we are received into the 
grave. Godwin experienced this mutability in human 
affairs. He had scarcely, by great toil and hazard, 
achieved his restoration, and recovered his prosperity, 
when he was deprived of it soon afterwards by death. 
In 1053, at the Easter festival, the eventful changes 








Sax. Chron. 167, 168. Flor. Wig. 414. 








of his life were closed. As he sat with the king at 
table, it is said, that the conversation turned on 
Alfred's murder, and that Godwin, with many sacred 
appeals to Divine Providence, denied that he was 
concerned in it.^^ But whatever was the preceding 
discourse, the attack of fate was as irresistible as un- 
expected. He suddenly lost his speech, and fell from 
his seat. Harold and two other sons raised him, and 
carried him to the king's chamber, hoping a recovery. 
He lingered in helpless and miserable agony, from 
Monday to Thursday, and then expired.^^ 

It is recorded with pleasure, by the annalists, that 
Edward took off the heavy tax called Dane gelt.^^ 
Ingulf ascribes the remission to the extreme dearth 
which raged in 1051, and in which so many thousand 
people perished. Touched with compassion for their 
sufferings, the king abolished the tax. It is added, 
that the royal mind, according to some rumours, was 
impressed the more deeply upon the subject, because 
one day, when the collected tax was deposited in the 
treasury, the king was brought to see the vast 
amount: the mass so aflfected his imagination, that 
he fancied he saw a little devil jumping exultingly 
about it.^^ His mind was certainly weak enough to 
believe such a fancy; and many about him were 
interested to frame some device that should give 
it a foundation. He ordered the money to be re- 
stored to its former owners, and no more to be raised 
on such an assessment. 

^ Ingulf. 66. Malmsb. 81. Hunt 366. 

» Flor.Wig. 415. The MS. Tib. B. 4., like the printed chronicle, merely 
states his death ; but the MS. Tib. B. 1. describes it lllte Florence, thus : ••Sare 
he niib rham cynincse aec s^Pt^opbe cha pspinsa i*ah he nirhen pich chirr 
rorfeClcr yppxcc benumen T ealpe hif nuhce •) hine man cha bpicb inCo char 
kinsep bupe t chohcan cha hic orep!i;nn rceolbt*. ac hic necf na rpa ae chnph 
punobe rpa unjrpecenbe -) mihcelear ropch och chooc chunp)* bajjs •) cha hir Up 

=» Flor. Wig. 410. Hovedcn, 441. 

* Ingulf, 65. Iloveden tells a similar story, and makes the queen and her 
brother Harold the persons who took the king to the treasury. 



The Welsh had often molested the English pro- 
vinces in their vicinity. In 1049, thirty-six ships of 
Irish pirates entered the Severn, and, with the help of 
Griffith, king of South Wales, obtained considerable 
successes.^^ In 1052, Griffith ravaged great part of 
Herefordshire, defeated the provincials, and obtained 
great plunder.^^ 

The death of Godwin rather exalted than abased 
his family. His character was tainted. He was ap- 
proaching the feebleness of age, without having 
secured its reverence. He had no influence but from 
his power; and greatness, which is only secured by 
terror, or extorted by force, is the creature of casualty, 
which the first tempest may destroy. But Harold 
had all the brilliancy of youth and active courage : 
his character was full of promise, because, being bom 
to dignity, he had sullied himself by no arts to attain 
it. There was a generous ardour in his actions 
which compelled admiration. When Edward raised 
him to his father's dignities, he gave new lustre to 
his family, and obtained all the influence to which 
his father had aspired.^ 

When Harold received the honours of Godwin, his 
own dignities in Essex and East Anglia were given 
to Algar, the son of the deserving and patriotic 
Leofric. But Algar's rise to power was no pleasing 
omen to the family of Godwin. AVithin less than 
three years afterwards he was made a victim by being 
banished without a fault.^ 

But Algar was too injured to be inactive : he fled 
to Ireland, collected eighteen piratical vessels, and 
interested Griffith, the king of Wales, in his favour. 








« Flor. Wig. 409. " Ibid. 412. 

" The great wealth of the family may be seen in Domcsday-book, where God- 
win's posseBsions are often mentioned. 

»» Flor. 41G. MS. Tib. 1. Bucan alcan Rylte, and MS. Tib. 4. jron neh butan 
^ylcc. The printed Chronicle says, that he was charged with treason, p. 169. 
Ingulf gives to Algar the aid of a Norwegian fleet, p. 66. 




With this aid, he suddenly appeared in Hereford with 
great success; and though Harold went to oppose 
him, yet such was the state of Edward's court and 
councils, that Algar, though rather by violent than 
legal measures, regained his patrimony and power. 
His allies went to Leicester, and were remunerated 
by his father. In 1058, he was exiled again, and by 
the same means restored.^^ The great were now di- 
viding into new factions. 

The Welsh made several efforts against the Anglo- 
Saxons in this reign. If any other feeling than per- 
sonal ambition had actuated the British leaders, they 
must have discerned, that however feeble the Saxon 
king's government from the new political parties may 
have been, yet, from the comparative state of the two 
nations, transient depredations were the utmost that 
the valour' of Wales could achieve. Such bounded 
triumphs were, however, certain of being followed at 
last by a powerful revenge. Griffith, for some years, 
molested, with good fortune, the counties near Wales, 
and for some years his aggressions escaped unchas- 
tised. In the year after he first reinstated Algar, his 
new insults, which occasioned the death of Harold's 
priest, just raised to a bishopric ^^, were again con- 
nived at by a peace; and in 1058 he again restored 
Algar; but in 1063 Harold resolved to repress hira, 
and there was nothing to restrain the full exercise of 
his ability. He marched into Wales with adequate 
force ; Griffith fled ; Harold burnt his palace and 
ships, and returned. In the beginning of summer he 
circumnavigated Wales with a marauding fleet, while 
his brother Tostig marched over it by land. The 
Welsh submitted with hostages and tribute, and 

» Flor. 417— 420. 

*■ Flor. 418. The MS. Tib. B. 1. says of this bishop, that he would forego hit 
spiritual arms, and take to bis sword and spear, and go against Griffith : « Se 
ropier liif cpirnian -) hip bpobe, hif saixlican psepna "j pens Co hii* fpepe "j Co 
hip TPeopbv, «FCvp hip bircupbabe, T rp» Fop Co pjrpbe onsean Dpinio/' Ita 



banished the obnoxious Griffith, who soon after pe- 

The means by which Harold obtained such imme- 
diate and decisive success are stated to have been a 
change of the armour of his soldiers. In heavy 
armour, the Saxons were unable to pursue the Welsh 
to their recesses. Harold observed this impediment 
to their success, and commanded them to use leathern 
armour and lighter weapons. By this arrangement, 
wherever the Britons could retreat, his men could 
pursue. He crossed their snowy mountains, defeated 
them on their plains, and spread destruction around, 
till terror and feebleness produced general subjec- 
tion.^ He raised heaps of stones wherever he had 
obtained victory, with this inscription : " Here Harold 
conquered." Such a depopulation of Wales ensued 
from his invasion, that to this disastrous cause Gi- 
raldus ascribes the tranquil acquiescence of the Britons 
under the Norman yoke.^^ Harold closed his efforts 
by a law, that every Briton found beyond Offa's 
Dike with a missile weapon, should lose his right 

Macbeth, the usurper of Scotland, condemned by 
the genius of Shakspeare to share for ever our sym- 
pathy and our abhorrence, was partly contemporary 
with Edward. In 1039, Duncan, after a five years' 
reign, was assassinated by Macbeth.^ 

The two sons of Duncan, Malcolm, surnamed Cean- 
more, or the Great-head, and Donald, called Bane, or 






' .r— ^ 


" Flor. 424. Ingulf, 68. MS. Lamb. Sax. Chron. 170. The head of Griffith 
was brought to Harold. 

" Ingulf, 68. This invasion ia fully stated by the elegant John of Salisbur}% 
whose writings reflect so much credit on the twelfth century. See his De Nugis 
Curialium, lib. vL c 6. p. 1 85. 

* Giraldus Cambriensis de illaudab. Wallis, c. tU. p. 431. 

^ Joan Salisb. De Nugis Cur. p. 185. 

^1 Mailros, 156. Duncan, in 1035, had been foiled in an attack upon Durham. 
Sim. Dun. 33. Lord Uailes says : 

«* It is probable that the assassins lay in ambush, and murdered him at a smith's 
house in the neighbourhood of Elgin.** Annals, p. 1. 



BOOK the fair, fled from Scotland. Malcolm sought refuge 
EdVird in Cumberland, and Donald in the Hebrides.'^ 
*^® Eleven years after his usurpation, Macbeth is men- 

tioned by the chroniclers of England, as distributing 
money at Rome.^ In 1054, while Macduff^, the thane 
of Fife, was exciting a formidable revolt in Scotland, 
the celebrated Siward, by some called the Giant, from 
his large size, and whose sister had been Duncan's 
queen, conducted his Northumbrians against Macbeth. 
Macbeth A fuHous couflict followcd, iu which thousands of 
klward. ^ both armies perished ; but Siward, though he lost his 
son and nephew, defeated the usurper. He returned 
with great plunder, having made Malcolm king.^ 

The glory of a warrior was the renown most pre- 
cious to Siward. On his return at York, he felt that 
internal disease was consuming his vital principle, 
and he sighed for the funereal trophies of a field of 
battle. " 1 feel disfi:raced that I should have sur- 
vived so many combats, to perish now like a cow: 
clothe me in my mail, fasten on my sword, and give 
me my shield, and my battle-axe, that I may expire 
like a soldier/' ^^ 
1057. In 1057, England lost Leofric, the duke of Mercia, 

by whose wisdom the reign of Edward was preserved 
from many perils and disorders, which the ambition 

^ Ilailes's Annals of Scotland, p. 2. 

^ ** 1050. Rex Scotorum Macbethad Roms argentum spargendo distribult** 
Flor. Wig. 409. So Sim. Dun. 184. and Iloveden, 441. Biailros, who names him 
Macbeth, p. 157., has a similar passage. 

** MS. Chron. Tib. B. 4. Lamb, MS. Flor. Wig. 416. MS. Tib. B. 1. Lonl Hailw, 
from Fordun, states, that " Macbeth retreated to the fastnesses of the North, and 
protracted the war. Ilis people forsook his standard. Malcolm attacked him at 
Lunfanan in Aberdeenshire. Abandoned by his few remaining followers, Macbeth 
fell, 5th of December, 1066." Annals, p. 3. Until this period the ancient kings 
of Scotland usually resided in the Highlands. It was this Malcolm Cean-more who 
removed the capital to the Lowlands. Dumstaffhagc, on the north-west coast of 
Argyleshire, whose ruins still remain, is supposed to have been his Highland palace. 
From this place, he removed his court to Scone, in the lowlands of Perthshire ; an 
important revolution, which made the southern provinces of Scotland to assume in 
time so distinct a cliaracter, and such a superior civilisation as they have since 

" Riid. Die. 477. 




of others would have introduced. His councils and chap. 

government have been much celebrated.*^ His son Edwani 

Algar succeeded to his dukedom.*^ ^ *?*' 

o , Confesaor. 

On Siwaras death, in 1055, Tostig, the brother of 
Harold, was appointed earl of Northumbria. By in- 
ducing the queen to cause some Northumbrian nobles 
to be treacherously killed ; by repeating the same 
atrocity himself at York, and by exacting a large 
tribute from the country; Tostig so alienated the 
minds of the provincials, that they revolted in 1065, 
expelled him, and seized his treasures. The in- 
surgents invited Morcar, the son of Algar, and chose 
him for their earl. At the head of the men of North- 
umberland, Morcar marched southward, and was 
joined by an armed force from other counties, and 
from Wales. Harold met him at Northampton with 
military array, but it was deemed prudent to comply 
with a request so powerfully supported ; Morcar was 
confirmed in the earldom, and the laws of Canute 
were restored. Tostig fled with his wife and friends 
to Flanders, where Baldwin entertained them.^ 

Edward, whose passive and peaceful disposition locc. 
seems to have left his nobles to their own quarrels 
without any interposition from himself, 'soon after 
these transactions began to sicken. At Christmas he 
held his court in London, and dedicated the church 
of St. Peter at AYestminster which he had rebuilt. 
On the eve of the Epiphany his malady assumed a 
fatal aspect, and he was buried the day following at 

*» Flor. Wig. 419. Ingulf, 6G. 

" Lcofric had another son, named Hercward, whose life seemed devoted to the 
tisk of supplying incidents to the genius of romance and heroic song. — Sec a 
further account of him in tlie chapter on the Anglo-Saxon chivalry, in the third 
volume of this work. Hcreward is also mentioned in the book de Pontificibus, 
n Gale, 372. 

« Sec the printed Saxon Chronicle, p. 171. Flor. Wig, 427. the MS. Chronicles, 
Til). B. 1. and B. 4. 

« MS. Tib. B. 1. and B. 4.; Flor. Wig. 427. ; and Sax. Chron. 171. Both the 
MS. Chronicles have a long addition in Saxon, which follows his death. It begins. 







In person, Edward was tall and well made; his 
hair and skin were remarkably white ; his complexion 
rosy.^^ His mind was gentle, if not weak ; but, in 
general, unless acted upon by others, his disposition 
was well meaning. He was averse to the imposition 
of taxes ; abstinent in his diet ; and on the public 
feast days, though, by the care of the queen, he was 
sumptuously arrayed, he assumed no haughtiness of 
manner in his pomp. His piety was sincere and 
fervent. His time was chiefly divided between his 
prayers and hunting, to which he was greatly at- 
tached. His charities were frequent and extensive ^^ ; 
and though his reign displayed no intellectual ener- 
gies, and reflected no honour on his ancestry, he was 
so fortunate as to escape any striking disgrace. 

* f>eji ebmpb kinse, CnsU blaropb, penbe rorbrefce," && This b not In 
Lamb. MS. 

*• Malmsb. 91. Rossi HUt Reg. Angl. 105. 

** Malmsb. 91. His memory was canonixed, and many monkish miracles have 
been appended to it. 



The Reign of Harold the Second^ the Son of Godwin ; and the 

last of the Anglo-Saxon Kings. 

Edward had intended to appoint his cousin Edward, chap. 
the son of Edmund Ironside, the successor to his i^jj 
crown. This prince had continued in Hungary thesewmj. 
since Canute had sought his life. Called from thence 
by Edward the Confessor, he came to England in 
1057, but died soon after his arrival.^ 

The death of this prince confirmed in two men the competu 
hopes of attaining the Anglo-Saxon sceptre. Harold, Iww^ 
and William duke of Nonnandy, after this event, "a">wand 
looked forward to the splendid prize with equal ar- 

Harold had sworn to William to assist him in 
ascending the throne of England; but afterwards 
pleaded that his oaths had been extorted by irresis- 
tible force, as William, having had him in his power, 
compelled him to swear. This charge thus repelled, 
the rivals were in other respects on a level. Both 
claimed from Edward a gift or testamentary appoint- 
ment in his favour^; both had been in Edward's 

» Flor. Wig. 419. 

' That Harold wait appointed by Edward to succeed bim, is asserted or intimated 
by the printed Saxon Chronicle, 172. By Flor. Wig. 427. Hoveden, 447. Sim. 
Dun. 194. Al. Bev. 122. Malmsbury informs us that this was the statement of 
the English (Angli dicant a rege concessum, 93.), but he thinks it was rather the 
rumour of partiality than of judgment On the other side, the Annales Margenses, 
p. 1. ; Wike's Chron. p. 22. ; Malmsb. 93. ; and the Norman writers, de<:lare, that 
Edward gave the kingdom to William. The MS. Chronicles which affirm this are, 
Peter de Ickham, Domit. A. 3. (Willo duel Normannis consanguineo suo sicut ei 
prius Juramento promiserat regnum teste dedit. ) So Will. Sheepheved, Faust B. 6. 
(adoptavit in regnum Willielmum ducem Normannorum.) So Th. Elmham. Claud. 
E. 5. (Willielmum ducem Normannlo; adoptavit heredem.) So Hermannus says, 
it was the rumor plurimum that Edward appointed the kingdom to William. Many 
other MS. Chronicles afllrm as much, as Chron. ab. adv. Sax. ad Hen, 4. Nero, 







the Second. 

friendship, and the family of Harold, as well as the 
family of William, had been connubially allied to 

There is perhaps no great event in our annals in 
which the truth is more difficult to be elicited, than 
in the transaction between Harold and William in 
the lifetime of Edward. We will state first the 
account of Harold and his friends, and contrast it 
with the Norman story. 

In revolving the history of the friends of Harold, 
we meet with the unpleasing circumstance of two 
narrations upon the subject, which counteract each 
other. According to some, Harold accidentally sailed 
in a little fishing excursion from Bosham in Sussex, 
and was driven, by a sudden tempest, on the opposite 
shore.^ According to others, Harold went to the 
Continent not accidentally, but deliberately. Two 
of his brothers had been committed by Edward, 
during the rebellion of Godwin, to the care of Wil- 
liam. Harold wished to procure their release, and 
for that purpose is said to have requested pennission 
of Edward to visit William in Normandy. The ap- 
pendage to this account is, that Edward dissuaded 
him in vain : and that when Harold returned, and 
stated to him that William had detained and made 
him swear to give him the English crown, the king 
reminded him that he had foreseen the misfortune.* 

The Norman historians declare that, on the death 

A. 6. ; Chron. S. Martini de Dover a Bruto ad Hen. 2. ; Vespasian, R 1 1. ; Chron. 
de Bruto ad 1346. Cieop. D. 2. ; Chron. de Ilale*8 ab initio raundi ad 1304. Cleop. 
D. 3. ; Annates de Gest Angl. ad 1377. Cleop. D. 9. ; Hist brevis, ending timip. 
Ed. 2. Domit A. 8. ; the Hist Abb. Claud. B. 6. We nuy add the words of WllUain 
lilmsclf, who, in one of his charters, says: <*I>eTicto Haraldo rege cum suis com- 
piicibus qui mibi regnura prudentia doroini destiuatum et beneficio concessionis 
domini et cognati mei gloriosi regis Edwanli concessum, conati sunt auferre.** 
Faustina, A. 3. The authorities are too contradictory to decide the question. 

* Matt Paris, p. 2. Matt. West 426.; and from hira Bever, in his MS. Chron. 
in the Ilarleian Library, 611. Malmsbury mentions it as a report 

« Eadmer,4. Al. Be v. 125. Sim. Dun. 195. Brompton, 947. Bad. Die. 479. 
Walt Uemingford, 456. I believe Hemingford*s Chronicle to be the same with 
the Chronica WUl. de Gisebume, in the Cotton Library, Tiberius, R 4. Higden, 283. 


of the son of Edmund Ironside, who had been in- chap. 

. XV. 

vited from Hungary, Edward obeyed the dictates of Harold 
personal regard, and appointed William to be his t^^^second. 
successor; that he sent Harold to announce to him 
this disposition ; and that Harold, sailing to Flanders 
for the purpose of travelling to the Norman court on 
this important mission, was thrown by a tempest on 
the coast of the count of Ponthieu, who seized and 
imprisoned him.^ 

To these circumstances it is added, that before 
Edward sent Harold, he had commissioned Robert 
the Norman, the archbishop of Canterbury, to make 
to William the same annunciation. 

This last assertion, however, cannot, for a moment, 
be believed, because Robert was exiled from England 
in the year 1052, on Godwin's reconciliation. He 
went to Normandy, not on public business, but fled 
with precipitation to secure his personal safety^; and 
so far was Edward from having adopted William in 
1052, that, in 1057, the son of Edmund Ironside 
came to England on Edward's express invitation, and 
for the avowed purpose of being his successor. It is 
also hostile to the tale of Robert's mission, that Wil- 
liam was himself in England after Godwin's rebellion, 
the year before Robert left it. If Edward had then 
determined on William's succession, it is more pro- 
bable that he should have imparted his intention to 
William himself than that in the next year he should 
have sent it in a message by a fugitive. The testi- 
mony of Ingulf of Croyland is also adverse. He ex- 
pressly declares, that while William was in England, 
he received no hopes of the succession ; it was not 
then mentioned.^ Robert may have exerted himself 

» Ingulf, a contemporary writer, p. 68. Guil. Plctav. 191. Will. Gemmet 286. 
Ordcric. Vital. 492. Ann. Petrob. 46. Walsingham Ypod. 28. Wike's Chron. 22. 
and many of the MS. Chronicles. 

• Sax. Chron. 168. and the filler Chronicle quoted there, 167. Hovedcn. 443. 

' De successione autem regni spes adhuc aut mentlo nulla fiicta inter cos fult. 

T 2 






the Second. 

The tapes- 
try of 

in nurturing William's secret wishes. He may, in 
revenge to the family of Godwin, have commenced 
intrigues in favour of William ; but it is not credible 
that Edward thought of William as his successor 
until after the death of his cousin from Hungary. 

The celebrated tapestry of Bayeux presents to us 
the Norman account of these transactions. 

In the cathedral church of Bayeux in Normandy, 
this ancient monument has been preserved : " The 
ground of this piece of work is a white linen cloth or 
canvass, one foot eleven inches in depth, and 212 
feet in length. The figures of men, horses, &c. are 
in their proper colours, worked in the manner of 
samplers, in worsted, and of a style not unlike what 
we see upon China and Japan ware; those of the 
men more particularly being without the least sjrm- 
metry or proportion."® It is in one piece; it was 
annually hung up and exposed to view, in the nave 
of the church, from the eve of Midsummer-day, and 
continued there for eight days. At all other times 
it was carefully locked up.® 

This tapestry is called, by the tradition of the 
country, "La toilette du Due Guillaume."^^ The 
same popular account ascribes it to his queen, Ma- 

Ingulf, 65. Ingulf defcribes himself as born in England, and as having studied at 
Westminster and Oxford. When William visited Edward, Ingulf joined his train, 
and sailed with him to Normandy ; he became his secretary and a sort of fiivourite. 
He went to Jerusalem through Germany and Greece, and returned by sea to Home. 
He says, that he and his companions went out thirty fat horsemen, and returned 
^arcely twenty, and emaciated pedestrians. He attended William to England, 

* DucarePs Anglo-Norman Antiquities, p. 79. M. Lancelot has written two 
memoirs on this tapestry, in the M^molres de TAcad^mie des Inscriptions, tom. is. 
pp.535 — 561.; and tom. xil. pp. 369— 469. M. Lancelot's description is thus: 
** C*est une pi^e de toile de lln de dix-neuf pouces de haut, sur deux ceus dix pieds 
onxe pouces de long, sur laquelle on a tnci des Hgures avec de la lalne couch^ 
et crois^e 4 peu pres comme on hache une premiere pens^e au crayon.** P. 370. 

* Lancelot, p. 371. Ducarel, 79. This tapestry is still at Bayeux. At the com- 
mencement of the war, after the peace of Amiens, while the invasion of these 
islands was in agitation, Bonaparte had this tapestry conveyed to Paris, for his own 
inspection. A comet having appeared about that time, he is said to have obaerved, 
with great earnestness, the comet represented in the tapestry. 

** Lancelot, 37 1 . This gentleman says of It, *• L'extr6mit£ commence k le gater.** 
This occasioned the Chapter to have it copied. 


thilda, and her work-woraen.^^ It has been engraved, cuap. 
and may be seen among the plates of the Acad^raie uum 
des Inscriptions, and in Ducarel's Anglo-NoKman *^^«s«^- 

It represents the transactions between Harold and 
William. The first figures are, a king with a scep- 
tre, sitting upon his throne; his right hand is pointed 
towards two men, as if giving them orders. Above 
is an inscription of two words, "Edward. Rex."^^ 
This has been fairly thought to portray Edward, 
directing Harold to go to Normandy. It therefore 
illustrates the Norman account, that Harold was sent 
by Edward to William.^^ 

The next figures are, five men on horseback, pre- 
ceded by a cavalier with a bird in his left hand, and 
with five dogs running before him. The inscription 
to this is, " Ubi Harold dux Anglorum et sui milites 
equitant ad Bosham." The dogs and the bird mark 
the cavalier to be a nobleman, and of course to be 
Harold, who is proceeding with his train to Bosham.^* 

A church follows, before which are two men with 
bending knees. Above is the word " Ecclesia." 
After this is an apartment where men are drinking, 
one from a horn, another from a goblet. 

Two men are descending from this place of refresh- 
ment, one of them with an oar. A person with an 
oar is standing next. Another holds a dog in his 

" Lancelot, 373. William of Foltou declares, that the English ladies excelled at 
their needle, and in gold embroidery. lb. 375. Lancelot thinks, ** qu*elle ne pent 
ctre d*un sidcle post^rieur it celoi de Guillauroe,** 374. Mathilda died in 1083. 
lb. 377. 

« Lancelot, 378. 

" II faut observer la simplicite du trdne du roi Edward, seroblable k cellc quA 
nous repr^sentent les iceaux et les autres roonumens qui nous restent de ces tems 

li. Les bras du tronc sont terminus par une tete de Chlen Ceux des empereun 

d*Allcmagne avoient ordlnairement un Lion. Son sceptre est termini en fleuron. 
P. 541. 

" The tapestry has sustained some injury at the beginning of this inscription. 
Lancelot, 378. " C'ctoit alors Tusage de la noblesse de marcher ou en ^uipage de 
guerre, quand 11 y avolt quelque exp^ltion k fidre, ou en ^uipage de chasse, quand 
la guerre ne Toccupoit point. — La noblesse srulc aToit le droit de porter rEpenrier 
ou le Faucons sur le poing.** P. 543. 

Y 3 






the Second. 

arm, looking towards a ship, close to which is Harold, 
with a dog under his arm, and a bird in his left 
hand. The inscription is, "Hie Harold mare navi- 
gavit." It of course represents Harold embarking 
at Bosham in Sussex.^^ 

Two ships follow in full sail. The remark of 
Lancelot is just, that in their equipment they are not 
at all like fishing vessels. The words are, " Et velis 
vento plenis venit in terra Widonis Comitis." 

The next figures represent Harold becoming the 
prisoner of Guy, the count of Ponthieu, who carries 
him to Belre^^, and detains him. The inscriptions 
will explain the figures which follow : " Here Harold 
and Guy converse ; here the messengers of William 
came to Guy; here a messenger comes to William; 
here Guy conducted Harold to William, duke of the 
Normans ; here William proceeds with Harold to his 

This part of the tapestry portrays the history as 
given in the chronicles. When Harold was detained 
by Guy, on whose coasts the winds impelled him, he 
sent information to William, whose menaces and 
gifts produced his release.^^ 

That William conducted Harold to Rouen, the 
chief city of his dominions, is the assertion of a con- 

, " Walter Mapes informs us of the punning trick by which Godwin got Bosham 
fW>m the archbishop of York. See it in Camden and Lancelot, p. 545. 

>' This was, says M. Lancelot, Beaurain le Chateau, two leagues from MansireuU, 
castrum de Bello ramo, p. 555. Le Roman de Rou par Robert Waice, est le seul 
des Auteurs de ce tems \k qui, en rapportant la circonstance de It prison de Harold 
i Beaurain, conflrme ce qu*en dit le monument dont il s*agit : 

" Guy garda Heralt par grant cure, 
Mout en creust mesaventure, 
A Belrem le fit envoyer 
Pour fere le Due esloingnier.** P. 379. 
>' In the tapestry, William is on his throne, with his sword in his left hand, his 
right is extended close to the face of a man, who is listening or speaking to him in 
a deprecating and intimidated manner. Lancelot says, ** Deux vers du Roman de 
Rou expriment ce que le Due fSsisoit et cette occasion : 

** * Tant pramist au Comte et offH, 
Tant manacha et tant blandi. 
Que Guy Heralt au Due rendi.* '* 
Ce sont les menaces qu^il semble que la tapisserle t voulu designer." P. 381. 


temporary chronicler.^® The tapestry says, to his c^ap. 
palace, and exhibits a kind of hall, where a chief iiarow 
upon his throne, resting one hand on his sword, is ^^^ second. 
attending to a person in the attitude of speaking, 
behind whom are some armed men. It is most 
likely Harold addressing William on the subject of 
his excursion; but there is no inscription on this 
part of the tapestry. 

The next figures represent William's warfare with 
Conan, a count of Bretagne, in which Harold as- 
sisted.^^ The inscriptions are : " Here duke William 
and his army came to Mount St. Michael, and passed 
the river Cosno^^; here Harold duke drew them from 
the sand ; and they came to Dol, and Conan fled. 
Here the soldiers of duke William fought against 
the Dinantes^^, and Conan extended the keys." 

All these circumstances are very expressively told 
by appropriate figures, which give a curious delinea- 
tion of the military equipments and manners of the 

The events which follow are peculiarly interesting 
to us. William, in complete annour, extends one 
hand to Harold's right temple; his other is upon 
Harold's right arm and breast. Harold is a little 
inclining towards him, and supports a lance with a 
banner in his left hand. The words above are, 
" Here William gave arms to Harold." A Norman 
historian mentions, that William rewarded the ex- 

» Guil. Pictav. 

^ See Lancelot, 388—401., on William and narold*s war in Bretagne. William 
of Poitiers is the only historian who has at all detailed this warfare, " roais il 8*en 
faut bcaucoup que son r^cit ne solt aussl circonstancie que ce qui se volt dans la 
tapisserie," p. 389. Lancelot's Observations on the weapons of the combatants are 
worth reading. 

^ C*est la riviere de Couesnon qui s^pare encore k present la Normandie de Ul 
Bretagne. Lan. 396. Les flots de la mer et les sables font changer souvent le lit 
de cette riviere, ce qui rend le gu^ difficile. La tapisseriere pr^nte le passage de 
cette riviere par les troupes de Ouillaume avec une exactitude tre8-d6taiilee. 
lb. 397. 

'■*• This circumstance the tapestry only has preserved. " C'est la prise dc Dinan 
villc de Bretagne k six licvcs dc Dol: aucun historien du terns n*en t parl^.** 
Lan. 399. 

T 4 


BOOK ertions of Harold with splendid arms, horses, and 

Jiia other insignia.22 
the Second. After three horsemen in armour, with the letters, 
" Here William comes to Bagias " (Bayeux), William 
appears without armour on his throne with a sword, 
his left hand extended. Near this are two reposi- 
tories of relics. Harold is between them, with a 
hand on each. Officers are at both ends. The in- 
scription is : " Here Harold swears to Duke William." 
The historians state, that Harold swore to pro- 
mote William's accession to the throne of England 
on Edmund's demise, to marry his daughter, and to 
put Dover into his power.^ Some other authorities 
mention that William, after Harold had sworn, un- 
covered the repositories, and showed him on what 
relics he had pledged himself; and Harold saw, with 
alarm, their number and importance.^* If this be 
true, these two great warriors were, at least in their 
religion, men of petty minds, or they would not have 
believed that the obligation of an oath was governed 
by the rules of arithmetical progression. 

The tapestry represents a ship under sail, expres- 
sive of Harold's return, and afterwards Harold making 

his report to Edward, The king's sickness and funeral 

The next figures show Harold's coronation. One 
man offers him the crown ; and another a battle-axe. 
Beyond this, Harold appears on his throne, with the 

^ Order. Vital, lib. ill. p. 492. Le Boman de Bou places the ceremony at 
Avranches ( Aurences) when the duke was going to Bretagne. Lan. 402. 

** Guil. Pictav. says this on the evidence of eye-witnesses : ** Sicut Teradstiini 
multa que honestate praeclarissimi homines recitavere qui tunc affbere testes,** 
p. 191. lie is so angry with Harold for his subsequent breach of this oath, that 
he apostrophizes to him with great warmth, p. 192. Both Pictar. and Ord. VitaL 
492. place the oath before the war in Bretagne. On the oath see Ingulf, Malmsb., 
M. Paris, Eadmer, and others. 

M So the Roman de Bou, and la Chronique de Normandie affirm. Lane 404, 
405. I may here mention that the author of the Boman is stated to be Robert 
.Waioe ; that he lived about fifty years after the conquest, and was a canon of 
Bayeux. Lan. 379. 

» The figures of the Amend seem to precede the sickness. 


globe and cross in his left hand, and a sceptre in his chap. 
right. On his right two men are presenting to him jutoia 
a sword ; and Stigand, the archbishop, is standing on *^ second, 
his left.26 " ' 

On the evening of Edward's funeral, which was nwoid's 
the day after his death, Harold possessed himself of ^7o6e°°* 
the crown of England. As there were other pre- 
tenders to the dignity, of whom one at least, Edgar 
Atheling, the grandson of Edmund Ironside, was 
invested with the interesting right of hereditary de- 
scent, delay was perilous to the ambition of Harold.^ 
Hence, while the nobles were agitated with divided 
minds, Harold boldly decided the splendid question 
by availing himself of the support of his friends ^®, 
and by obtaining an instantaneous coronation from 
the suspended archbishop of Canterbury.^^ 

That Harold used his authority with kingly dig- 
nity, and for the great ends of public utility, is as- 
serted^, and must be admitted, with the qualification 
that as his reign was so short, the panegyric must be 
referred to his intentions rather than to his actions. 
It is, however, essential to an usurper to be popular ; 
and human ingenuity cannot invent a spell more 
potent to excite the favour of its contemporaries than 
the practice of virtue. All rulers, whose right to 
power is ambiguous, and whose possession of it de- 

** The inscriptions are : *• Here they gave the crown to king Harold ; here sits 
Ilarold, king of the English ; Stigand, archbishop.** 

" Matthew says some of the proceres favoured William ; some Harold, and some 
Edgar, the grandson of Edmund Ironside ; but that Harold, extorta fide a mi^ribus, 
obtained the diadem, 433. Malmsbury intimates a violent seixure, p. 93. So 
Rudbome, p. 24. Ordericus says, he was consecrated sine communi consensu aliorum 
prxsulum et comitum procerumque, p. 492. ; and see Matt. West. 433. and M. 
Paris, 2. 

" Florence, Hoveden, Simeon of Durham, Kad. Die. and Saxon Chronicle, imply, 
that a very large part, if not all, of the nobles chose him. The tapestry, which 
certainly tells the story in the Norman way, hints nothing of a violent seixure. It 
represents two men offering the crown to Harold, who is uncovered. 

* Though most of the writers say that the archbishop of York crowned him ; 
yet, as the tapestry shows Harold on his throne, and Stigand, who held Canterbury, 
near him ; and as Guil. Pictav. 196. and Ord. Vitalls state that Stigand crowned 
him, I adopt this opinion, which M. Lancelot supports, 421. 

^ As Hoveden, Florence, and others. Malmsbury, 93. admits it 


BOOK pends on the public support, will affect to govern a 

Harold while with equity and popularity. The true cha- 

the Second, ractcr of Harold cannot therefore be judged from 

1066. his actions in the emergency of competition ; and he 

perished before the virtues of his disposition could be 

distinguished from those of his convenience. 

It is amusing to remark how industrious the chro- 
niclers of this period have been to record, that a 
comet appeared this year in the heavens, and that it 
foreboded the revolutions of greatness, and the blood- 
shed which The popular impression pro- 
duced by this comet is shown by its having been 
worked in the tapestry of Bayeux. This relic of 
ancient times contains, immediately after Harold's 
coronation, a rude figure of the comet, with several 
persons gazing at it with eager eyes and pointing 

The enjoyment of a favourite object is seldom the 
consequence of its violent acquisition. Harold found 
his crown full of the thorns which poets and moral- 
ists have been fond of describing. Three competitors 
prepared at the same time to wrestle with him for it ; 
each was formidable enough to have endangered his 
prosperity, but the combination of their hostilities 
could have hardly failed to overpower him. 

The rivals of Harold were, his brother Tostig, 
William duke of Normandy, and Haralld Hardrada, 
the king of Norway. The two last were sovereigns 
of long-established authority, and great military ex- 
perience ; and came with peculiar advantage into a 
conflict with Harold, whose ancestry was obscure, 

*> Will. Gem. p. 285. ; Matt. West 439. ; and many annalists. I believe that 
above ninety comets have been remarked in the heavens. 

*> The inscription over the men is : Isti mirant stella. The MS. Chronicles, 
Tib.R 1. and B. 4. thus mention the comet: '*Tba peapthseonb eall Cnsla 
lanb rrylc cacen on heojrenuni sefcpcn fpylct nan man ep ne sepeah. Sume men 
cpebon cha hic comeca fe jTconna pcpe thone fume men haracli chonr Fixebon 
(Teoppan *] he aeteopbe aepcfT on rbone tepen Lecania majop 8 K mai *] fP* fcan 
ealle rha feopon oihc" 


whose power was young, whose title was questionable, chap. 
and whose friends were but a party in the nation uarold 
which he governed. '^* second. 

Tostig was a man of talents and activity, but his loes. 
fraternal relation gave to his hostilities a peculiar 
venom. He had been expelled from Northumbria in 
a preceding reign, and he had not been recalled by 
Harold. His discontent and envy were fostered by 
William, who embraced the policy of multiplying the 
enemies and of dividing the strength of Harold. 

Eager to oppress his more fortunate brother, Tostig 
attempted, but in vain, to excite the king of Denmark 
to attack him. On the mind of Haralld Hardrada, 
king of Norway, he operated with more success. 
The Norwegian consented to invade England in the 

Tostig went to Flanders, to prepare the means of Tostig^s 
an aggression of his own. He visited William of *°^*'*°°* 
Normandy, of whose ambition he was made a con- 
venient instrument.^ He collected all the English 
who were willing to join him ; he raised many sup- 
plies from Flanders ^^, and with sixty ships proceeded 
to the English coast. 

He levied contributions from the Isle of Wight, 
and plundered along the shore till he reached Sand- 
wich. Harold was then at London. He collected a 
very numerous fleet and army, because he perceived 
that his brother's force was but the advanced guard 
of William. When Harold reached Sandwich, Tostig, 
whose friends were chiefly in the north, sailed hastily 
for Lincolnshire, and committed many ravages on 
Lindesey. The earls of Mercia and Northumbria 
allowed him no time to collect support, but com- 
menced an immediate opposition.^^ Tostig, defeated 

" Snorre, toI. iii. pp. 146 — 149. W. Gemmet, 285. 

»* Order. VitaL 492. " Snorre, 150. 

^ Malmsb. 94. ; Uunt 367. Matt West p. 433. says 4a The M& Chronicle 


BOOK by their energy, fled to Scotland with twelve ships *^, 
Harold to Wait the arrival of his allies, and Malcolm gave 

theSeoond. J^J^j qj^ asylum. 

1066. The first shaft of danger was thus happily averted 

from Harold ; but the feeblest arm of the confederacy 
had thrown it, and the triumph did not much aug- 
ment the security of the king. The two sovereigns, 
whose power singly was sufficient to endanger him, 
were now preparing a combined attack, 
wuiiam William, the rival of Harold, was the son of Robert, 

accedes in ^ n n t i i /» -kT i tt , . . 

Normandy, the fifth dukc of pformandy. He was not a legiti- 
mate child ^; but in these days this circumstance, 
though always a reproach ^^, did not prevent deserving 
talents from attaining the royal succession. William, 
like our Athelstan and Edmund Ironside, was ad- 
mitted to assume the dignity of his father. 

T\Tien Robert, obeying a fashion of his day, went 
to Jerusalem with a noble retinue, he appointed his 
boy William, though but a child, to govern Nor- 
mandy in his stead, under the superintendence of a 
wise and faithful administration ; and he engaged his 
nobles and the king of France to guard his arrange- 
ment.'*^ Robert died at Nice, on his return from 
Palestine, in 1035, the same year in which Canute 
the Great departed from this scene of his existence.*^ 
William, at the age of eight, became the duke of 
Normandy.^ His minority tempted many nobles to 

Tib. B. 4. mentions that Tostlg came to Wight, mib fpa miclam lithe fpa he 
bestcan tnilice. But in stating his entrance into the Humber, it adds, mib fix- 
rsum rcipuDi. 

" MS. Chron. Tib. B. 4. mib 19 boaccum. 

" His mother was Herleva, or Harlotta, the daughter of Fullbert, an officer of 
the duke*s household. After Robert's death she was married by Heriuin, a probus 
miles, and left him two sons, of whom one, Odo, became an archbishop ; the other 
also obtained reputation. W. Oeromet, lib. vii. c 3. 

" Therefore one of his nobles declared, quod nothus non deberet sibl aliisque 
Norroannis imperare. Gem. lib. vii. c. 3. Glaber Rodulphus says of the Normans : 
Fuit enim usui a primo adyentu ipsius gentis in Oallias, ex hujusmodi codcu* 
binarum commixtione iiloruro principes extitisse, p. 47. 

<• Glaber, p. 47. 

« Gcmmet, lib. vl c 12, 13. Ord. Vit Ub. Ui. p. 459. 

« Ord. Vit 469. 


rebel against him, and to be turbulent towards each 9?^^* 
other. The king of France also coveted his domi- Haroid 
nions. Normandy was for many years harassed by ^^^J^^^- 
wars, murders, and civil feuds; and William, like io««. 
Philip of Macedon, experienced adversity enough to 
excite his energies, and to discipline his judgment. 
The abilities of his friends at first, and afterwards 
his own good conduct, surmounted every difficulty.*^ 
He not only secured his own power, but having so 
often measured it against others with success, he was 
taught to know its strength, to nurture ambition 
upon that knowlege, and to look around him for new 
theatres on which his active mind could be employed 
with profit, and where increased celebrity would re- 
ward its exertions.^ 

The friendship of Edward, the visit of Harold, and 
the state of the English court, excited and determined 
him to aim at the sceptre of our island. 

The sudden coronation of Harold prevented the wiiiiam's 
efl^ect of any private intrigues, and left to William no SSSS! ^ 
hope but from his sword. William, however, knew 
that the combat was half gained if the moral impres- 
sions of society were in his favour ; and he therefore 
sent an embassy to Harold, gently expostulating upon 
the seizure of the crown, reminding him of the sworn 
compact, and announcing hostilities if he persisted in 
the violation. After Harold's coronation, such mes- 
sages could be only a theatrical trick, played off by 
the Norman, to call the attention of the people to the 
moral circumstances of the case, to introduce the 
claims of William publicly to their notice, to en- 
courage his partisans, and to assume the merit of 
peaceful discussion. William could never have sup- 

^ On William's struggles to maintain hb dignity, see Ouil. Picttv. ; W. Gcmniet, 
and Orderic Vitalis. Tbey may be also read in Daniers Histoire de France, toL i. 
pp. 362 — 368. 

" He married Mathilda, tbe daughter of Baldwin, count of Flanden. Oemmet, 
p. 277. Sbe was descended from Alfred's daughter. 






the Second. 




posed that upon a mere message Harold would have 
walked down humbly from the throne which he had 
been so hasty to ascend. 

Harold acted his part in the diplomatic farce, and 
gave a popular answer. His topics were as well 
selected as the case aflforded. An oath extorted by 
violence could not be binding on the conscience. 
Human laws admitted a maiden's vow to be annulled, 
which was made without her parents' consent: as 
void must be the promise of an envoy, pledged with- 
out his master's knowledge. Besides, how could any 
individual alienate the right of royal succession with- 
out the national consent ? And how could he abandon 
voluntarily a dignity with which the favour of the 
most potent nobles of England had honoured him?^^ 

By wedding Alditha, the daughter of earl Algar^^, 
instead of Adeliza, the daughter of William ^', Harold 
strengthened himself at home, because Mercia and 
Northumbria were governed by the brothers of the 

William held council with his chiefs on his project 
of invasion. Some thought the chance unfavourable 
to Normandy, and dissuaded it.^^ The influence of 
the duke surmounted opposition, and preparations 
were vigorously made. A great number of ships 
were immediately constructed.^^ The tapestry, after 
the representation of a ship arriving from England, 
shows William on his throne, with the inscription, 
" Here duke William gave orders to build ships." 
Men cutting down trees with axes, and planing them 
into planks ; others arranging and hammering these 
into vessels, are the next figures. Afterwards, five 

*» Matt Paris, p. 2. Matt West 434. Eadmer, 5. 

^ Gcmraet, 286. *' She died at this crisis. Matt Par. 2. 

• GuiL PicUv. 197. and Ord. Vital, p. 493. 

^ Guil. Pictav. 197. W. Gemmet, 28G., says, he had 3000 ships built; which 
seem too many either to be wanted by him or to be believed by iis. Ord. Vital, says, 
that many shiiis were diligently made in Normandy with their utensils ; and that 
both clergy and laity, by their money and liquors, assisted in the business, 496. 


men appear pulling ships after them by ropes. Above chap. 
are these words : " Here they drew the ships to the i^w 

ggg," the Second. 

Men carrying coats of mail, spears, swords, and lose. 
wine, and two others dragging a car, laden with 
weapons, and a barrel, are then exhibited. The in- 
scription is : " These carry arms to the ships, and 
here they draw a car with wine and arms." Such 
was the expedition of the workmen, that they were 
ready by the end of August.^ 

While the means of conveyance were providing, 
William was active in assembling soldiers sufficient 
for his attempt. His purpose was diflFused through 
every land, and the courageous adventurer was in- 
vited from every coast to share in the honour, the 
danger, and the booty of the conflict. Crowds of 
fighters came from all parts adjacent.^^ He collected 
powerful supplies from Bretagne, France, Flanders, 
and their vicinity ^^, which, joined with the soldiers 
whom he raised in his own Normandy, presented a 
mass of force not less formidable from their spirit of 
enterprise and their enthusiasm, than from their 
numbers and the military skill of William, who had 
been accustomed to warfare from his infancy. The 
emperor so far favoured the expedition as to promise 
to protect Normandy against any enemies who might 

"* The Roman de Rou thus describes these things : 

" Fevrcs et charpentiers manda, 
Dont vcissiez a granx effora 
Par Normendie k touz les pors 
Merriens k traire et ftist porter, 
Chevilles faire et bois doler 
Mesf et esquiez apparelilier, 
Velles estendre et mats drecier 
A grant entente et a grant ost. 
Tout un este et un Aost 
Mistrent au navie atonier.** Lancelot, 429. 

^* Convenit etiam cxtemus miles in auxilium copiosus. Guil. Pict 197. Bu- 
moribus quoquc viri pugnaces de vicinis regionibus exciti convenerunt. Ord. 
Vit 494. 

" In^cntem quoque exercitum ex Normannis et Flandrensibus ac Francis et 
Britonibus aggregavit. W. Gem. 286. Galli namque et Britones, Pictavini et Bur- 
gundiones aliique populi Cisalpiui ad helium transmarinum convolarunt Ord. Vit 494. 


BOOK invade it in the duke's absence.^ William was here 
Harold also peculiarly fortunate. The king of France, 
the Second , though SO much interested in preventing the duke 
1066. of Normandy from acquiring the additional power of 
the English crown, yet did not interfere to prevent 
the collection and departure of the expedition. Per- 
haps he judged it to be a desperate effort, and waited 
to profit by its failure. William availed himself of 
the oaths which Harold had broken, to give to his 
cause the appearance of religious sanctity ; he there- 
fore consulted with the pope, who sent him a con- 
secrated banner.^ 
King of While William was putting in action every means 

in^^ of offensive aggression, which talents hke his, so ex- 
ercised in warfare, could devise, the king of Norway 
was also summoning all the resources of his country 
to give prosperity to his ambitious hopes. It is a 
pleasing instance of the growing importance of Eng. 
land, that his notice to his subjects, of his intended 
expedition, did not meet with the unanimous con- 
currence of the Norwegian mountaineers. Though 
some, exulting in the recollection of their Haralld's 
achievements, thought disaster impossible ; yet others 
intimated that England abounded with valiant chiefs 
and soldiers.^ Like a part/ of the Norman nobility, 
they did not hesitate to foretell that the invasion 
would be a work of perilousf difficulty, and doubtful 

The time had been, when to mention an expedition 
against England was to collect speedily a numerous 
fleet of eager adventurers. But now that experience 
had made knoAvn the bravery of the natives, as the 
hour of attack drew near, ominous dreams began to 
flit through Norway. Snorre has detailed three of 

" Guil. Pict 197. 

•• Guil. Pict. 197. Ord. Vit. 493. 

** Snorre, Saga af Haralldi Ilardrada, c 82. p. 149. 


these, and mentions that many other portents oc- chap. 
curred of dire and ill-boding import.^^ The dark „a„,lci 
minds of the North discovered their feelings by their the second. 
superstitions. They began to dread the English loes. 
power, and they found deterring omens, because they 
were disposed to look for them. 

Haralld Hardrada, having appointed his son Mag- 
nus to govern Norway in his absence, sailed with 
his other son, Olaf, and with his queen, EUisif (Eliza- 
beth), and her daughters, Maria and Ingegerdr, across 
the British ocean. ^^ He reached Shetland ; and, 
after a short delay, he sailed to the Orkneys. He 
left there his family, and directing his course along 
Scotland, he landed with his multitude of warriors 
at the Tyne.^^ His aggression seems to have been 
unforeseen. The duke of Normandy absorbed the 
attention of Harold, who did not expect that his hour 
of difficulty would have been made more stormy by 
a competitor from the North. Hardrada found no 
opposition of importance on the English coasts. 
Tostig joined him.^^ They sailed onwards to Scar- 
borough, which they plundered and burnt. They 
turned the point of Holderness, and with above five 
hundred ships entered the Humber.^^ 

They proceeded up the Ouse as far towards York 
as Richale. The related earls, Edwine and Morcar, 
though taken unawares, prepared to oppose Haralld 
Hardrada with the same spirit which had before ex- 
pelled Tostig. On the 20th of September they gave 
battle to the invaders near York, on the right side of 

" Snorrc, 150—152. 

" For Haralld's actions, see Snorre, in the ode translated in the second volume 
of Mallet's Northern Antiquities; in Ad. Brem. 41. 43. ; and Stepb. in Sax. 215. 

* Snorre, I53.,says, Klifland. So Orkney in^ Saga, p. 95. Hoveden, Florence, 
and Simeon, place his first descent at the Tyne. 

^ Flor. 429. 

*» Snorre, 154. Hovedcn, 448. Flor. 429. Our writers differ on the number 
of Ilaralld's ships. Matt. Paris says, 1000. So Sigeb. Gemb. p. GOO. Ingulf states 
200 ; and Malmsbury and others have 300. 



BOOK the Ouse/'^ Hardrada formed his warriors into such 
nlroid ^^ arrangement, that one of his wings reached to the 
the Second, rivcr, and the other was flanked by a ditch and 
1066. marsh full of water. The banner of the khig and 
the flower of his warriors were on the river. His 
line at the ditch was weak, and tempted the attack 
of the earls, the brothers-hi-law of Harold. They 
drove the enemy from their position. It was then 
that Hardrada rushed into the battle, and, with his 
compact troops, pierced through and divided the 
pursuing English. Some were driven to the river ; 
some to the marsh and ditch. The slaughter was so 
great, that the Norwegians traversed the marsh on 
the bodies of the fallen.^'^ The Saxon account con- 
firms the Icelandic : it claims the first advantage for 
the English, and acknowleges that, in the disastrous 
close, more were pushed into the waters than were 
slain by the sword.^ The earls were besieged in 

Harold, watching anxiously the motions of the 
duke of Normandy, had stationed his troops on his 
southern coasts. The success of Haralld Hardrada 
compelled him to abandon this position of defence, 
and to march with his army into the North. To 
repel the king of Norway immediately was essential 
to his safety; and with this purpose he proceeded 
towards him so rapidly, as to reach York four days 
after the defeat of the earls. 

Hardrada had been as much reinforced by the 
friends of Tostig^^, and by those adventurers who 
always join the flag of victory, as the time would 

** Hunt 367. says, *<Cujus locus pugnie in Austral! parte urbis adhuc osten- 

•* Snorre, 155. Orkneyinga Saga, p. 95. The Northerns give the comraand 
of the Saxons to Walthiof and Morcar. Walthiof is not mentioned by the English 
chroniclers in Harold's reign ; but in William's reign he occurs with the Northum- 
brians, as in Ilovcden, p. 455. 

•■ Iloveden, 448. Flor. 429. •» Malmsb. 9*. 

• Snorre, 166. 


permit ; but the sudden presence of the king of Eng- c"ap. 
land was an incident which he did not anticipate. narold 

lie had committed his ships to the care of his son, t>ie second. 
Olaf, with a part of his forces, and had marched with "loee. 
the rest towards the city, to settle the government of 
the province. The day was beautiful and mild. The 
sun shone with those pleasing beams which exhilarate 
the spirits, and give new charms to irradiated nature. 
But, alas ! the drama of ambition was acting in the 
country, and its melancholy catastrophe was about 
to scatter round the dismal spectacle of death. Man 
was hastening to deform the smiling scene with all 
the massacres of a ferocious battle. On a sudden, the 
king of Norway saw an army marching towards him. 
He inquired of Tostig, who they were. Tostig stated 
his hope that they were a supply of his friends ; but 
he knew enough of his brother's activity also to add, 
that they might be the English forces. 

The advancing troops were soon discerned to be 
hostile; and Tostig, wishing a more elaborate pre- 
paration, advised a retreat to the ships, that the 
strength of Norway might join the battle in its most 
concentrated vigour. The king of Norway was hero 
enough not to decline an offered combat ; but he sent 
three swift couriers to command the immediate pre- 
sence of his other warriors. 

He drew out his men in a long but not dense line ; 
and, bending back the wings, he formed them into a 
circle every where of the same depth, with shield 
touching shield. In the centre the royal banner was 
planted, not unaptly surnamed the Kavager of the 
Earth. The peculiar mode in which the cavalry 
attacked was the cause of this arrangement. Their 
custom was to charge promiscuously in an impetuous 
mass, to fly off, and to return in the same or at some 
other point. Haralld Ilardrada was as yet weak in 
cavalry. It was now but the 25th September, and he 

z 2 


BOOK had not had time to mount many of his troops. The 

Harold king of England, on the contrary, came forth with 

tiieSccon«i . ^j^^ strength of the island, and of course a large part 

1066." of his army must have been horse. To secure himself 

against this superiority, was the first care of the 


The first line were ordered to fix their lances 
obliquely in the ground, with the points inclining to- 
wards the enemy, that the cavalry might impale them- 
selves when they charged. The second line held also 
their spears ready to plunge into the breasts of the 
horses when near. The archers were joined with the 
array of Haralld and Tostig, to contribute their efforts 
to the success of the day. ^^ 

Hardrada rode round his circle to inspect its order. 
His horse stumbling, he was thrown to the ground ; 
but he sprang up, and wisely exclaimed, that it was 
an omen of good. Harold, who observed the incident, 
thought otherwise. He inquired who that Norwe- 
gian was, clothed in a blue tunic, and with a splendid 
helmet, who had fallen. He was answered. The king 
of Norway. " He is a large and majestic person," 
replied Harold, " but his fortune will be disastrous." ^^ 

An offer was sent to Tostig, before the battle 
joined, to give him Northumbria, and other honours, 
if he would withdraw from the impending conflict. 
Tostig remarked, that such a proposition in the pre- 
ceding winter would have saved many lives : " But," 
added he, " if I should accept these terms, what is to 
be the compensation of the king, my ally ?" — " Seven 
feet of ground, or, as he is a very tall man, perhaps a 
little more," was the answer. This intimation closed 
the negotiation, for Tostig was faithful to his friend.^ 

The Norwegians, not having expected a battle on 
that day, are said to have been without their coats of 

• Snorre, 169. «» Ibid. ICO. « Ibid. 


mail. The king of Norway sung some stanzas on the chap. 
circumstance, and awaited the attack. His orders naroid 
were implicity obeyed. The charges of the English the second. 
cavalry were received on the implanted points ; and loee. 
while the Norwegians kept their circle unbroken, 
they repulsed every attack. Weary of their unpre- 
vailing efforts, the English began to relax in some 
confusion, and their adversaries were tempted to 
pursue. It was then that the fortune of Norway first 
drooped. The English returned to the charge. The 
Norwegians were out of their defensive arrangement, 
and felt the destructive fury of the English weapons, 
llardrada encouraged his men by the most heroic 
exertions ; but he could not bind victory to his 
standard. A fatal dart pierced his throat ; and his 
fall gave the first triumph to his kingly competitor. ^^ 

Tostig assumed the command, and the battle still 
raged, flarold again offered life and peace to his 
brother and the Norwegians, but the enraged Tostig 
was deaf to reconciliation. \'^ictory or death was his 
decision ; and the arrival of the division from the 
ships, under the command of Eysteinn Orri, gave 
new hopes to his fury. 

These fresh troops were completely armed. Their 
attack was so vehement, that the fortune of the day 
was nearly changed ; but they were exhausted by the 
speed with which they had hurried to the place of 
conflict. Their exertions relaxed as their strength 
ebbed ; and after a desperate struggle, Tostig and 
the flower of Norway perished. ^^ Harold, who had 
shown himself the ardent warrior through all the 
combat, permitted Olave, the son of the unfortunate 

* Snorre, 163. Sec Haralld's character in Snorre, 368. He was fifty years of 
age when he died. lb. 175. 

™ Ibid. 1(55. Huntingdon says, there never was a severer battle, p. SGl?. He, 
Malinsl)ury, and others, state, that at one period of the conflict, a Norwegian de- 
tended the bridge airainst the English army, and killed with his l)attlc-axe forty 
soldiers l>efore he was destroyed. Ord. Vit. mentions, that a great heap of bones in 
his time marked on the spot the dreadful slaughter of the day, 500. 

z 3 


BOOK Hardrada, and Paul, the earl of the Orkneys ^\ to 

Harold retire from the island with their surviving friends, 

the Second, g^^ J q^ f^^ ships. ^^ Olave went to the Orkneys, and 

1066. in the following spring to Norway, where he reigned 
jointly with his brother Magnus. '^ 

Two of Harold's competitors had now fallen ; and 
if an interval had elapsed before the assault of the 
other, of sufficient space to have permitted him to 
have supplied the consumption of the late battles, 
and to have organised a new force, it is probable that 
the duke of Normandy would have shared the fate of 
the king of Norway. But three days only intervened 
between the defeat of the Norwegians, and the land- 
ing of William. He arrived at Pevensey on the 28th 
of September ^^, and the king of Norway had fallen 
on the 25th. 

Harold, expecting an invasion from William, had 
in the spring assembled, on the southern coasts, the 
best bulwark of the island. He stationed his fleet off 
Wight, to encounter the Norman on the seas, and 
encamped an army in its vicinity. This guard was 
continued during the summer and autumn ; and 
while it watched at its allotted post, the throne of 
Harold was secure. But on the 8th of September ^^, 
the fleet, which had lain along the coast at Pevensey, 
Hastings, and the neighbouring ports, was, from the 
want of provisions, obliged to disperse. ^^ Harold 

'* Hoveden, 448. Ingulf, 69. On Paul's descent and family, sec the Orkneyinga 
Saga, pp. 91 — 93. 

" Ingulf, Hoveden, and others, say with 20. The MS. Chron. Tib. B. 4. has 
B. 24. This mentions Olaf 's departure thus : " Se Kyns tha jeap snyrhe Glare 
thffif Nopna cynjcr runa t heope bpe* t than eople or Opcan e??e ^ eallon Chan 
Cheon clia fcypu to lare psepon -) hi ropon tha upp to upan K5'nin5e i fhopon 
achar ch hi aerpe polbon rpyth i rpconbrcype mto rhifan lanbe halbau t fc cyms 
hi let ham rapan raib 34 rcypuni. Thaf cpa role sercoht pa>pon serpciunicbe 
bmnan pr nihtan." 

" Orkneyinga Saga, 93. Snorre, 171 — 176. 

'* The printed Chronicle says on Michaelma* day. But the MS. Tib. B. 4. says 
" On rce* Michaelr maerre aireii." So the Larabard MS. Ord. Vit. 500. agrees 
with the MS. 

'■ Hoveden and Florence mark the nativity of St Mary as the day. This was 
8th SeptemlMjr. 

^ The MS. Chron. B. 1. has a long paragraph on this. 


being immediately after occupied by the Norwegian chap. 
invasion, neglected to supply and reinstate it. By Harold 
this unhappy mistake, he removed the main obstacle ^^^ second , 
to William's expedition. loee. 

William had completed his armament in August, 
and it lay in the mouth of the Dive, a little river 
between Havre and Caen. Fortunately for his enter- 
prise, the wind was adverse. If it had been favour- 
able, he w«uld have sailed, and the fleet of Harold 
would have received the first shock of the storm. If 
the English navy had been defeated, an army was 
lining its coasts, which would have disputed his land- 
ing. Should victory still have followed him, his 
force must have been diminished by the combats, and 
he would have had then to wrestle with the strength 
of the island, directed by the active talents of Harold. 
15ut the contrary winds detained him for a month at 
the Dive ^^ ; and in this interval the English fleet left 
its position, and the invasion of Norway called Harold 
from the southern coasts. 

At last the currents of the atmosphere came into 
the direction he desired, and the fleet sailed from the 
Dive, round Havre, to St. Vallery, near Dieppe, which 
was the nearest port between Normandy and England. 
Some unfavourable events had occurred. Of the 
large fleet several vessels were wrecked ; and many 
of the adventurers, whose courage lessened from their 
leisure of reflection on the perils of the expedition, 
abandoned his standard. William caused the bodies 
of the drowned to be buried with speed and privacy ; 
he exhilarated the spirits of his army by abundance 
of provisions, and he animated their drooping hopes 
by his eloquent exhortations. To excite their enthu- 
siasm, he caused St. Vallery's body to be carried in 
procession, under the pretence of imploring, and per- 

" Ord. Vital. 600. Guil. Pict. 198. 
z 4 


took a cheerful refreshment. A second sailor as- chap. 


cended, and beheld four ships coming into the hori- narold 
zon. Another, at a farther interval, declared he saw ^^^^J^^- 
a sailing forest. The duke's heart swelled with joy, loce. 
and he anticipated all the triumphs of his daring 
adventure. ^^ 

At Pevensey their voyage ceased on the 28th Sep- 
tember. They landed peaceably, for no opposing 
force was near. ®^ They made no stay here, and pro- 
ceeded immediately to Hastings to procure food.^ 
As William landed from his ship, it happened that he 
fell. In these days, when the mind was still retaining 
many of the groundless fantasies of preceding ages, 
the accident was interpreted into an omen of dis- 
aster ; but the spreading panic was checked by the 
judicious soldier who raised William from the ground. 
Seeing his hands full of mud, he exclaimed, " Fortu- 
nate General ! you have already taken England. See, 
its earth is in your hands." ^'^ How excitable must be 
the mind of man, when a casual stumble can intimidate 
thousands, and a lucky expression re-assure them! 
How difficult must it be to lead such excitability into 
a steady course of Avisdom and virtue ! 

The duke forbad plunder, and built military works 
both at Pevensey and Hastings, to protect his ship- 

"' Ouil. Pict 1 99. To this repast of William, M. Lancelot refers that in the 
tapestry. I think his supposition is decidedly and obviously erroneous. 

*^ Gull. Pict. 199. The tapestry shows this. After representing many shiiw In 
full sail, some with armed men, and some with horses, with the inscription : " Mare 
transivit et venit ad Pevenesa*," it shows the landing of horses unmoleste<l. 

^ The tapestry details this curiously. Four armed horsemen are riding. The 
words over them are, *' And here the soldiers hastened to Hastings to seixe pro- 
visions." One man is leading a sheep; another is standing near with an axe, 
looking at an ox ; another is carr}'ing some bundle on his shoulders near a man 
with a pig. The cookerj', the serving, and the enjoyment of the repast, are then 
successively represented with appropriate inscriptions. The little anonymous 
narration, written in the reign of Henry I., and published by Taylor from a MS. 
at Oxford, after landing them at Pevensey, adds, " Bed non diutius ibi raoratus, 
cum omni exercitu suo venit ad aliumi>ortum non longe ab isto situra quam vocant 
Hastingas ibi(iue omnem suam militiam requiesccre jussit" P. 190. 

•*• Matt. West. 435. aud others. 






the Second. 


haps with the hope of obtaining, a propitious na- 

A general eagerness to embark now pervaded the 
expedition. The duke, more impatient than any, was 
every where urging his soldiers to hasten to their 
ships. To prevent disasters usual to an unknown 
coast, he enjoined all the vessels to anchor round his 
at night, and not to recommence their voyage till the 
lighted beacon on the top of his mast having given 
the signal, the general clangor of the trumpets should 
announce the time of resailing. ^^ 

With seven hundred ships ^^, or more, replete with 
horses^, and every implement of battle, he quitted his 
native shores. During the day, his ardent spirit not 
only led the van of his fleet, but his ship so far out- 
sailed the others, that when a mariner was ordered to 
look round from the top of the mast, he declared he 
saw nothing but the clouds and the ocean. William, 
though impatient for his landing, yet with dignified 
composure ordered his men to cast anchor, and calmly 

** These particulars are from the contemporary William of Poitou, whose valuable 
fragment was printed by Du Chesne, from a MS. in our Cotton Library. 

^ It has been already remarked, that W. Germmct gives to William 3000 ships. 
The very ancient author of the Roman de Rou says, he had read of 3000 ships, but 
that he had heard it declared to his father that there were 700 all but four. 

•* Ne V0U8 voil mie mettre en leitre, 

Ne je ne me voil entremeitre 

Quels barons et quels chevaliers, 

Granx vavasours, granz soudoiers 

Ont 11 Ous en sa compaingnie 

Quant li prist toute sa navic. 

Mef ceu oi dire a mon pere, 

Bien m*en souvient, mes vallet ere, 

Quer sept cent nesf quatrc mains furcnt. 

Quant de St Valcry s'esmurent. 

Que nesf, que batteaux, que esquiez 

A porter armes et hemoiz. 

Ai je en escript trouv^, 

Ne sal dire s'est verity, 

Que il y eut trois mile nesf, 

Qui porterent velles et trest" Lancelot, 431. 

La Chronique de Normandie intimates, that seme escriptures temoingnent neuf 
cens et sept grandes nesf a granz tresf et voiles, sans li menu vaisselin. lb. M. 
Lancelot remarks, that the menu vaisselin may supply somewhat of the great 
difference between the rumours. The expressions of Gull. Pictav. imply 1000 

" The tapestry of Bayeux has several ships with horses. 


took a cheerful refreshment. A second sailor as- chap. 


cended, and beheld four ships coming into the hori- naroia 
zon. Another, at a farther interval, declared he saw the second , 
a sailing forest. The duke's heart swelled with joy, loce. 
and he anticipated all the triumphs of his daring 
adventure. ®^ 

At Pevensey their voyage ceased on the 28th Sep- 
tember. They landed peaceably, for no opposing 
force was near. ^ They made no stay here, and pro- 
ceeded immediately to Hastings to procure food.^ 
As William landed from his ship, it happened that he 
fell. In these days, when the mind was still retaining 
many of the groundless fantasies of preceding ages, 
the accident was interpreted into an omen of dis- 
aster ; but the spreading panic was checked by the 
judicious soldier who raised William from the ground. 
Seeing his hands full of mud, he exclaimed, " Fortu- 
nate General ! you have already taken England. See, 
its earth is in your hands." ®^ How excitable must be 
the mind of man, when a casual stumble can intimidate 
thousands, and a lucky expression re-assure them! 
IIow difficult must it be to lead such excitability into 
a steady course of ^visdom and virtue ! 

The duke forbad plunder, and built military works 
both at Pevensey and Hastings, to protect his ship- 

"» Guil. Pict 199. To this repast of William, M. Lancelot refers that in the 
tapestry. I think his supposition is decidedly and obviously erroneous. 

*^ Gull. Pict. 199. The tapestry shows this. After representing many ships in 
full sail, some with armed men, and some with horses, with the inscription : " Mare 
transivit et vcnit ad Pevencsa;," it shows the landing of horses unmolested. 

^ The tapestry details this curiously. Four armed horsemen are riding. The 
words over them are, *' And here the soldiers hastened to Hastings to seize pro- 
visions." One man is leading a sheep; another is standing near with an axe, 
looking at an ox ; another is carr>'ing some bundle on his shoulders near a man 
witli a i>ig. The cookery, the serving, and the enjoyment of the repast, are then 
successively represented with appropriate inscriptions. The little anonymous 
narration, written in the reign of Henry I., and published by Taylor from a MS. 
at Oxford, after landing them at Pevensey, adds, ** Sed non diutius ibi raoratus, 
cum omni cxcrcitu suo venit ad alium jxirtum non longc ab isto situm quara vocant 
Hastingas ibi«|ue omncm suam militiam requiesccre jussit" P. 190. 

"• Matt. West. 435. and others. 

346 niSTOBY OF thk 

BOOK ping.^^ It is mentioned that he went out with 
iilroid twenty-five companions to explore the country. They 
the Second, fell into such a rugged course, that they were obliged 
10(56. to return on foot ; and the army remarked, >\ith high 
approbation, that William had burdened himself with 
the armour of one of his party, who was unable to 
get to the camp without putting it oflp.^^ William 
was now involved in an expedition which required 
the most zealous and self-devoting support of all his 
soldiers. Few things interest more strongly than 
the useful condescensions of the great, and it is an 
argument of William's discernment and true dignity 
of mind, that he seized such little occasions of ex- 
citing, in his army, an aflPectionate attachment. 

A Korman friend conveyed to William the tidings 
of Harold's victory over Norway. The counsel of 
alarm was added to the news. " He is coming against 
you with all his power, and I think you will be but 
as despised dogs against it. You have prudently 
governed all your aflfairs in Normandy ; be not now 
rash ; keep to your fortifications ; meet him not in 

William's mind was above these little agitations of 
fear. He had thrown his die. His spirit was fixed 
to stand the full venture, and to endure all the con- 
sequences, whether fatal or propitious. He returned 
for answer, that he should not entrench himself, but 
should give the battle as early as he could join it. 
He declared that this would have been his resolution, 
if he had headed only 10,000 men, instead of the 
60,000 who were assembled round his banners.^^ 

Harold received the information of William's land- 
ing, while he was dining at York.®^ The impressive 

■* Wil. Genimcf. 286. Ord. Vit 500. The tapestry represents this constniction 
of the castle at Hastings. 

" Giiil.lMct. 199. *' Ibid. » Hunt, 368. 


incident would have summoned a wary mind to the chap. 
most deliberate circumspection. A new enemy umu 
coming in such power, demanded the wisest exertions the second , 
of military intelligence. But the mind of Harold loee. 
I)ossessed not the judgment of his great adversary. 
His bravery had more vivacity than discretion, and 
its natural ardour was stimulated into presumption 
by his victory against the king of Norway. He 
looked upon William as his devoted prey ; and in- 
stead of collecting all his means of defence, and mul- 
tiplying these by the wisdom of their application, he 
flew to London, as if he had only to combat in order 
to conquer. 

This triumphant vanity was the instrument as 
well as the signal of his ruin. In the deadly contest 
against flardrada, he had lost many of his bravest 
warriors. By an ill-timed covetousness, he disgusted 
the surviving ; for he monopolised the plunder. When 
he marched to London against William, a large part 
of his army deserted him. Those only who served 
on pay, and as mercenaries, kept to him.^^ 

He sent spies to inspect William's force. The 
judicious duke, who knew his strength, and the good 
appointment of his army, had nothing to conceal : he 
caused the spies to be well feasted, and to be led 
through his encampment. On their return to Harold, 
they magnified what they had beheld; but added, 
that, from their shaven faces, they should have taken 
Iho Normans for an army of divines. ILarold laughed 
at the conceit, but had sense enough to remark, that 
tlie divines would prove very formidable soldiers.'-^ 

« Malmsb. J)l. Matt. West. 434. 

■'" Malmsb. 100. The English did not shave the upper lip. lb. The Roman de 
]{<ni m'.Mitii)ns the account of the spies. Lane. p. 4i«0. The forces of William greatly 
outnumbered tbo>e of Harold. Tile MS. of AValtham Al)bey» written by the canon 
whdni xhv la-t (jui'cn of Henry I. iiatnniis'ed, states the Nonnan army to have been 
four tiuhs as numerous as tliat of Han>iii. " Non potuit de pari conditione cen- 
ten<loro <iuL modico stipatus apiilne, (iUAnuui'Lo congrcssus cxcrcltu, sort! se dedit 
ancipili." O^tt. MSS. Jul. D. G. p. lol. 


BOOK It was the interest of Harold to delay a battle with 
Harold the invaders, but it was his passion to hasten it. His 
the Second , brother Gurth reminded him, that he had not re- 
1066. cruited his losses in the North. Such an observation 
was evidence of his judgment. His other remarks, 
that if Harold fought, it would be committing per- 
jury, and therefore that he, Gurth, had better lead on 
the English in his stead, were deservedly despised by 
Harold.'-*^ The perjury, if any, was in the resistance, 
and could not be diminished by the change of the 
commander. But with what energy could the troops 
be expected to fight in a quarrel of personal com- 
petition, if Harold was away ? His absence, on such 
grounds, would have sanctified the claim of William, 
and might have tainted his own fame with the peril- 
ous imputation of cowardice. 

Monastic messengers were reciprocally sent by the 
two rivals. The one from the duke is said to have 
ofiered Harold his option of three proposals. To quit 
the throne, to reign under William, or to decide the 
dispute by a single combat. 

The two first propositions Harold was too coura- 
geous to regard. The last was more compatible with 
his humour. But Harold had been William's guest, 
and well knew his personal prowess. The Norman 
excelled most men of his day in strength, stature, 
agility, and skill. As he possessed such notorious 
superiority, there was little courage in his offer of 
the* duel, and Harold could not be disgraced in re- 
fusing it. Harold therefore answered with unusual 
discretion, when he declared, that God should judge 
between them.^^ 

Harold stayed but six days at London to collect 
troops for the collision with the invaders ^^ ; his im- 

»' Malmsb. 100. 

« Malmsb. 100. Gull. Pict. 200. Matt Palis, 3. 

'" wm. Gcmmet. 287. 


patient presumption could not tarry for the force that chap. 
was wanted to secure success. He left the city, and Harold 
marched all night towards flastings.^ His hope <^«J«^^°^ 
was, to surprise the army of the duke ^^, as he had loee. 
surprised the Norwegians ; and so confident were his 
expectations, that he sent round a fleet of 700 vessels 
to hinder William's escape.^^ 

This was another measure of his ill-judgment. A 
very large part of his force must have been lost to 
him in manning these vessels ; and yet, though he had 
not had time to collect an army of great power, he 
deprived himself, needlessly, of a numerous support, 
by sending it on the seas. Prudence would have 
counselled him to have opened a passage on the ocean 
for his enemies' retreat. If he had cooUv reasoned, 
he must have seen that William placed the issue of 
his adventure upon a land battle. To wage this suc- 
cessfully, he concentrated all his strength. Harold, 
instead of meeting him with his most consolidated 
force, favoured the wishes of his enemies by manning 
a fleet, whose exertions could not have the least 
influence on the impending conflict. But when 
vanity assumes the helm of our conduct, discretion 

In projecting to surprise William, he proved how 
little he understood of the duke's character. Alert 
in obtaining notice of Harold's approach, William 
immediately commanded his men to remain all night 
under arms.^^ Deterred by this preparation, Harold 
ventured no night attack. 

On the spot afterwards called Battle, the English 
rested on an adjacent hill. The Normans quitted 

M Gemmet, 287. » Ord. Vit. 500. GuU. PIct 201. 

" Guil. Pict 201. Ord. Vit 600. L*Anclcnne Chronique dc Normandie, and 
the Roman dc Rou (Lane. 444 — 446.) mention that William burnt and destroyed 
his own shipping, to make his anny more desperate. 

•" Gemm. 287. 





Hastings ^^, and occupied an eminence opposite.^^ The 
niglit before the battle was spent by the English in 


oie Second, festivity, by the Normans in devotion. 
1066. While William was putting on his armour, it hap- 

pened that he inverted his coat of mail. This petty 
mistake was a fatal omen ; but William, like all great 
souls, disdaining such puerilities, said, with a calm 
countenance, " If 1 believed in omens, I should not 
' fight to-day, but I never credited such tales, and 

never loved the superstitious. In every concern 
which I ought to undertake, I commit myself, for the 
result, to my Creator's ordination." ^^^ 

At the command of their leader, the Normans, who 
were in the camp, armed. William, with solemn 
devotion, heard mass, and received the sacrament. 
He hung round his neck the relics on which Harold 
had sworn, and proceeded to arrange his troops ^^^; 
his standard was entrusted to Toustain the Fair.^^^ 

He divided his army into three bodies. In front 
he placed his light infantry, armed with arrows and 
balista). Behind these were the heavy-armed foot. 
His last division was composed of his cavalry, among 
whom he stationed himself. ^^^ 

He strengthened their determined valour by an 
impressive harangue.^^ He reminded them of the 
achievements of Hastings, whose actions these pages 
have commemorated. He bade them to recollect 

" The tapestry represents them as departing fh>m Hastings to the place o 

» Taylor's Anon. 192. » Malmsb. 101. 

*' " Si ego in sortem crederero, hodie amplius in bellum non introirem, sed ego 
nunquam sortibus credidi neque sortilegos amavi. In omni negotio quodcunque 
agere debui, Creatori meo semper me comroendavL" Taylor's Anon. p. 192. GuiL 
Pict. 201. mentions it 

«« Guil. Pict 201. Ord. Vit. 600. 

'" Le Roman de Rou mentions, that William first offered this honour to Raou 
de Conches, and Gautier Giffart, who declined it See it quoted, Lane. 450 — 453. 

»» Gull. Pict 201. Ord. Vit 601. 

** The tapestry represents William spealcing to his soldiers. The inscription 
imports : ** Here William exhorts his soldiers to prepare themselves manlily and 
wisely to battle against the English army." 


RoUo, the founder of their nation, and the uniform ^^^r- 
successes of their ancestors against the Franks. He narow 
noticed their most recent exploits. ^^^ He assured ^^^ second , 
them that they, were to fight not merely for victory, iocs, 
but for life. If they exerted themselves like men, 
glory and wealth were their rewards ; if they were 
defeated, a cruel death, a hopeless captivity, and 
everlasting infamy, were the inevitable consequences. 
Escape there was none. On one side, an unknown 
and hostile country ; on the other, the blockaded sea 
:)recluded flight.^^^ He added, " Let any of the Eng- 
ish come forward, of those whom our ancestors have 
an hundred times defeated, and demonstrate that the 
people of RoUo have ever been unfortunate in war, 
and I will abandon my enterprise. Is it not, then, a 
disgrace, that a nation accustomed to be conquered, 
a nation so broken by war, a nation not even having 
arrows, should pitch themselves in regular battle 
against you ? Is it not a disgrace, that perjured 
Harold should dare to face me in your presence? 1 
am astonished that you should have beheld those who 
destroyed your fathers, and my kinsman Alfred, by 
the basest treachery, and that they should yet be in 
existence. Raise, soldiers, your standards. Let 
neither diffidence nor moderation check your anger. 
Let the lightning of your gloiy shine resplendent 
from the east to the west. Let the thunders of your 
impetuous onset be heard afar, ye generous avengers 
of the murdered ! " ^^^ 

While he was yet speaking, his men hastened to 
engage. Their ardour could not tarry for his con- 
clusion. One Taillefer, singing the song of Roland 
and Charlemagne ^^^, even outstripped his friends, and 

'*» iren. Hunt. 368. Bromton. »<" GuiL Pict. 201. 

>" Hon. Hunt 3(58. 

*"* " Taillefer qui mout bien chantout, 

Sur un cheval qui tost alout, 

Devant euls aloit chantant, 



BOOK killed an English ensign-bearer. Another also be- 

iiaroid came his victim. A third overpowered him, and then 

*llf^ the armies joined.^^^ The cry of the Normans was, 

1066. " God help us." The English exclaiijied, " The holy 

cross ; the cross of God." ^^* 

The English, chiefly infantry, were arranged by 
Harold into an impenetrable wedge. Their shields 
covered their bodies. Their arms welded the battle- 
axe. Harold, whose courage was equal to his dig- 
nity, quitted his horse to share the danger and the 
glory on foot. His brothers accompanied him ; and 
his banner, in which the figure of a man in combat, 
woven sumptuously with gold and jewels, shone con- 
spicuous to his troops, was implanted near him.^^^ 

William, whose eye was searching every part of 
the field, inquired of a warrior near him, where he 
thought Harold stood. " In that dense mass on the 
top of the hill, for there his standard seems dis- 
played," was the answer. William expressed his 
surprise at his presence in the conflict, and his con- 
fidence that his breach of faith would on that day be 

The English had possessed themselves of the hilly 
ground, which was flanked by a wood. The cavalry 
dismounted, and added to the firm mass of Harold's 
array. The Norman foot, advancing, discharged 
their missile weapons with efibct; but the English, 
with patient valour, kept their ground. They re- 

De Kallemaigne et de Roullant, 

£t d'OIivler et de Yassaux 

Qui raoururent en Rains chevaux." 

Roman de Rou, p. 46 1 . 
Malmsbury and others mention, that the Normans simg the song of Roland. 
»>• Hen. Ilunt. 368. Rad. Diet 480. Bromton, 960. 
' ^" The Roman de Rou, p. 461. which say : 

" Alierot est en Engleii 
Qui Sainte Croix est en Franceiz 
Et Goderode est autrcment 
Comme en Fran9oi8 Dex tout pussant** 
»« Mahnsb. 101. »» Taylor's Anon. Ilist 192. 


turned the attack with spears and lances ; with their chap. 
terrible battle-axes, their ancient weapons, and with luroid 
stones, whose falling masses were directed to over- ^•second. 
whelm. The battle glowed. Distant weapons were loee. 
abandoned for a closer conflict. The clamour of the 
engaging soldiers was drowned in the clashing of 
their weapons, and the groans of the dying.^^* Valour 
abounded on both sides, and the chieftains fought 
with all the desperate firmness of personal enmity 
and ardent ambition. 

Befriended by the elevation of their ground, by 
the mass of their phalanx, and by their Saxon axes, 
which cut through all the armour of their adversaries, 
the undaunted English not merely sustained, but re- 
pelled every attack. Intimidated by such invincible 
fortitude, the foot and cavalry of Bretagne, and all 
the other allies of William in the left wing, gave way. 
The impression extended along all his line. It was 
increased by a rumour, that the duke had fallen. 
Dismay began to unnerve his army ; a general flight 
seemed about to ensue.^^^ 

William, observing the critical moment which 
threatened destruction to his glory, rushed among 
the fugitives, striking or menacing them with his 
spear. His helmet was thrown from his head. The 
indignant countenance of their leader was visible: 
"Behold me — I live; and I will conquer yet, with 
God's assistance. What madness induces you to fly ? 
What way can be found for your escape ? They 
whom, if you choose, you may kill like cattle, are 

driving and destroying you You fly from victory 

— from deathless honour You run upon ruin and 

everlasting disgrace. If you retreat, not one of you 
but will perish." ^^^ 

At these words they rallied — he led them to 

"« Gull. Pict. 202. »» Ibid. »*• Ibid. 



BOOK another onset. His sword strewed his path with 
Hmroid slaughter. Their valour and their hopes revived. 
the Second. Their charge upon their pursuers was destruction ; 
1066. they rushed impetuously on the rest. 

But the main body of the English continued un- 
moved and impenetrable. All the fury of the Nor- 
mans and their allies could force no opening. An 
unbroken wall of courageous soldiery was every 
where present. 

Depressed by this resistance, William's mind was 
roused to attempt a stratagem. He had seen the success 
with which his rallied troops had turned upon those 
who pursued them. He resolved to hazard a feigned 
retreat, to seduce the English into the disorder of a 
confident pursuit, and to profit by their difiiision.^^^ 

A body of a thousand horse, under the count of 
Boulogne, were entrusted with the execution of this 
manoeuvre. With a horrible outcry they rushed upon 
the English ; then suddenly checking themselves, as 
if intimidated, they affected a hasty flight.^^® The 
English were cheated. They threw themselves ea- 
gerly on the retreating Normans, and at first they 
prospered; for the Normans retired upon a great 
ditch, or excavation, somewhat concealed by its vege- 
tation. Driven upon this, great numbers perished, 
. and some of the English were dragged into the 
ruin.^^^ But while this incident was occupying their 

»" Guil. Pict 202. >" Taylor's Anon. Hist 193. 1 Dugd. 31 1. 

**" Iluut 368. Rad. Diet. 480. Bromton, 960. This ditch was afterwards 
called Malfossed. 1 Dugd. 311. The Roman de Rou stated this : 

" £n la champagne out un fo6s6 
Normans Tavlent eux adoss^ 
Embelinant I'orent pass^ 
Ne Tavolent mle esgard6. 
Engleis on tant Normans bastes 
£t tant empolns et tant boutez 
£z fossez les ont folt ruser, 
Chevaux et hommes gambeter 
Mout voissies hommes tomber, 
Les uns but les autres verser 
Et tresbuschfer et adenter 
Ne s*en poolent relever ; 


attention, the duke's main body rushed between the ^^ap. 
pursuers and the rest of their army. The English H.rold 
endeavoured to regain their position ; the cavalry ^|^f^. 
turned upon them, and, thus enclosed, they fell vie- 1066 
tims to the skilful movement of their opponents.'^ 
Twice was the Norman artifice repeated, and twice 
had the English to mourn their credulous pursuit.^*^ 
In the heat of the struggle, twenty Normans pledged 
themselves to each other to attack, in conjunction, 
the great standard of Harold. Eyeing the expected 
prize, they rushed impetuously towards it. In at- 
tempting to penetrate through the hostile battalions, 
many of the party fell ; but their object not having 
been foreseen, the survivors secured it.^^^ 

The battle continued with many changes of for- 
tune. The rival commanders distinguished them- 
selves for their personal exertions. Harold emulated 
the merit, and equalled the achievements, of the 
bravest soldier, at the same time that he discharged 
the vigilant duty of the general.^^ William was 
constantly the example to his troops. He had three 

Des Engleis y mourut assez 

Que Normans ODt a euls tires." Lane. 464. 

The tapestry seems to represent tbis. After the fall of Harold's brothers, it has 
the inscription : " Here the Englbh and Franks fell together in battle.'* The 
figures are warriors fighting, and horses in positions which imply violent &lls. 

'» Hunt 368. Bromt 960. At one period of the confiict, probably in this, 
Odo, the half-brother of William, and bishop of Bayeux, rendered him great ser- 
vices by rallying his men. The tapestry, immediately after the preceding incident, 
shows him on horseback in armour, with a kind of club, amid other cavalry. The 
words over are, " Here Odo, bishop, holding a stick, encourages the youths." The 
Roman de Rou also mentions his great and useful activity : 

'* Sor un chevai tout blanc seoit, 

Toute la gent le congnoissoit, 

Un baston tenoit en son poing. 

Li o^ veoit le grand l>e8oing 

Fasolt les chevaliers tomer, 

Et la bataille arrester. 

Souvent les faisoit assalUir, 

Et souvent les fesoit ferir. 

Des que le point du jour entra, 

Que la bataille commencha 

Dessi que nonne trespassa, 

Eu chi de ch^ fii si de la." Lane. 466. 

«» Guil. Pict 202. »« Hunt. 368. Bromt 960. 

•» Malmsb. 101, 

A A 2 


BOOK horses killed under him ^^* ; but, undaunted by periL 

Harold he was every where the foremost. Such was the 

the Second, general enthusiasm, that they who were exhausted 

1066. by loss of blood and strength, still fought on, leaning 

on their supporting shields. The more disabled, by 

their voices and gestures, strove to animate their 


The sun was departing from the western horizon, 
and the victory was still undecided. While Harold 
lived and fought, his valorous countrymen were in- 
vincible. ^^^ But an order of the duke's, by occasion- 
ing his fate, gained the splendid laurel. To harass 
the hinder ranks of that firm mass which he could 
not by his front attack destroy, he directed his archers 
not to shoot horizontally at the English, but to dis- 
charge their arrows vigorously upwards into the sky. 
These fell with fatal eflfect on the more distant 
troops.^^^ The random shots descended like impe- 
tuous hail, and one of them pierced the gallant Harold 
in the eye.^^® A furious charge of the Norman horse 
increased the disorder, which the king's wound must 
have occasioned ; his pain disabled hiipa, and he was 
mortally wounded. As the evening closed, one of 
the combatants had the brutality to strike into his 
thigh after he was dead, for which William, with 

^ Malmsb. 101. Gull. Plct. 203. Matt West 438. 

»» Gull Pict 203. " Malmsb. 101. Matt West 437. ^ Hunt 368. 

** Hunt 368. Malmsb. 101. Tbe Roman de Rou states the incident thus : 

«< Heralt A Testendart estolt, 

A son poer se deffendoit 

Mez mout estoit de Tceil grevex 

Pour ceu quUl li estoit crevez, 

A la douleur que il sentolt 

Du cop de Toeil que 11 doloit, 

Vint un arm^ par la bataille, 

Heralt feri sor la ventaille 

A terre le flst tresbuchier ; 

A ceu quMl se vout condreder, 

Un chevalier le rabati, 

Qui en la cuisse le feri. 

En la cuisse parmi le gros 

La plaie fu dlsi qu*a Tos.** Lane 467. 


nobler feelings, disgraced him on the field.^*^^ Panic chap. 
scattered the English on their leader's death.^^^ The Haroid 
Normans vigorously pursued, though the broken ^^Secopd . 
ground and frequent ditches checked their ardour. loee. 
Encouraged by observing this, a part of the fugitives 
rallied, and indignant at the prospect of surrendering 
their country to foreigners, they fought to renew the 
combat. William ordered the count Eustace and his 
soldiers to the attack. The count exposed the peril, 
and advised a retreat. He was at this instant vehe- 
mently struck in his neck, and his face was covered 
with his blood. The duke, undismayed, led on his 
men to the conflict. Some of his noblest Normans 
fell, but he completed his hard-earned victory.^^^ 

The body of Harold was found near his two 
brothers, and was carried to the Norman camp. His 
mother oflered its weight of gold, for the privilege of 
burying it ; but she was denied the melancholy satis- 
faction. ^^^ The two brothers of Harold fell also in 
the battle.^^ 

William escaped unhurt. ^^* But the slaughter of 
his Normans had been great.^^ 

^ Matt West 438. Malmsb. 101. The tapestry seems to represent this ; for 
under the vrords, ** Here Harold king was slain," an armed man is figured fallen 
dead, his battle-axe flying from him. Another upon horseback leans forward, and 
with a sword is wounding his thigh. 

** The tapestry ends with the flight of the English. ** On ne volt plus ce qui 
reste de la tapisserie que des traits qui tracent des figures ; peut-etre n'y-a-t*il 
jamais eu que ces traits ; Touyrage dessin^ et trac6 fut interrompu par la mort de 
la princesse Mathllde ; peut-etre aussi Ic tems et les diff(^rens accidens qu*a essuy^ 
cette extr^mit^ de la tapisserie ont roug^ le tissu.'* Lane 468. 

'" Guil. Pict 203. 

^ So says Guil. Pict 204. ** In castra Duds delatus, qui tumulandum eum 
GuiUelmo agnomine Maletto concessit, non mairi pro corpore dilects proHs auri par 
pondus offerenti — .£stimavit indignum fore ad matris libitum sepeliri cujus ob 
nimiam cupiditatem insepulti remanerent innumerabiles.** So, in his following 
aiK)9trophe, he says, " In cruore jacuistl et in litloreo tumulo jaces,** In opposition 
to this contemporary evidence, the English writers, as Malmsb. 102. and others, 
say, ** Corpus Haroldi matri repetenti sine pretio misit licet ilia multum per legates 
obtulisset** It is added, that the body was buried at Waltham. Orderic's state- 
ment, p. 502., is like Guil. Pict 

"* The tapestry places the death of Gurth and Leofwine, the two brothers, some 
time before Harold's. 

"* Matt West 439. » Uoveden, 449. Sim. Dun. 197. 

A A 3 


BOOK His victory was splendid ; but if Harold had not 
Harold fallen, it would have contributed very little to gain 
Uitfccood. fjjQ crown of England. It was the death of Harold 
1066. which gave William the sceptre. The force of Eng- 
land was unconquered. A small portion of it only 
had been exerted *^ ; and if Harold had survived, or 
any other heir at all competent to the crisis, William 
would have earned no more from his victory than the 
privilege of fighting another battle with diminished 
strength. When he landed on England, he came 
with all his power. The fleet of the Anglo-Saxons 
was afterwards ready to cut off further succour, if 
such could have been raised for him in Normandy ; 
and it is probable, that if by the fall of Harold, Eng- 
land had not been suddenly left without a chief, the 
battle of Hastings would have been to William but a 
scene of brilliant glory, speedily followed by a melan- 
choly catastrophe. 

In great revolutions much is effected by active 
talents ; but perhaps more by that arrangement of 
events over which man has no control. It was Wil- 
liam's intention to have sailed ^^^ a month sooner than 
he appeared. If his wishes had been fulfilled, he 

I" That Harold had rushed with Tain ooafldenoe to the battle, with an ioferior 
force, is a general assertion among our old chroniderv. 

^ At the foot of his anonymous MS. Taylor f6nnd this catalogue of the ships 
which were supplied for Wil1iun*s invasion : 

By Willelmo dapifero Alio Osbemi sexaginta naves. 

Hugone postea comite de Gestria totidem. 

Hugone de Mumfort quinquaginta naves et sexaginta milites. 

Romo Elemosinario Fescanni postea episcopo Lincoliensi unam navem cum viginti 

Nicholao Abbate de Sancto Audoeno quindecim naves cum centum militibus. 

Boberto Comite Augi sexaginta naves. 

Fulcone Dauno quadraginta naves. 

Oeroldo Dapifero totidem. 

Willelmo Comite Deurons octoginta naves. 

Rogero de Mumgumeri sexaginta naves. 

Bogero de Boumont sexaginta naves. 

Odone Episcopo de Baios centum naves. 

Roberto de Morokmer centum et vigintL 

Waltero Olffkrdo trlginta cum centum militibus. 
Extra has naves quae computats simul M efficiunt babuit Dux a quibusdam aula 
homtnlbus secundum possibilltatem unius ciiy usque multas alias naves, p. 209. 


would have invaded Harold before the King of Nor- chap. 
way, and would perhaps have shared his fate. For Harold 
if the English king, with the disadvantages of a loss ^"^^^^'V 
and desertion of his veteran troops, of new levies, of loee. 
an inferior force, and an overweening presumption ^^^ 
was yet able to balance the conflict with WilUam'a 
most concentrated, select, and skilfully exerted 
strength, until night was closing ; if the victory was 
only decided by his casual death, how different would 
have been the issue, if Harold had met him with the 
troops which he marched against the Norwegians! 
But Providence had ordained, that a new dynasty 
should give new manners, new connections, and new 
fortunes, to the English nation. Events were there- 
fore so made to follow, that all the talents of Harold, 
and the force of England, should not avail against 
the vicissitudes intended. While Harold's fleet 
watched the ocean, the adverse wind kept William in 
port. This fleet was dispersed by its stores failing ; 
and at the same time the invasion of the king of 
Norway compelled Harold to leave his coast un- 
guarded, and to hurry his soldiers to the north of the 
island. In this critical interval, while Harold was 
so occupied by land, and before his fleet had got re- 
victualled, the winds became auspicious to William, 
and he landed in safety. Immediately after this, the 
Saxon fleet was enabled to sail. 

Harold had in the mean time conquered the Nor- 
wegians ; but this very event, which seemed to insure 
the fate of William, became his safety. It inflated 
Harold's mind so as to disgust his own soldiery, and 
to rush to a decisive conflict in contempt of his ad- 

1* One chief reason of Harold's hastening to fight before he was fiiUy prepared, 
is declared to have been, that he might find the Normans before they fled out of 
the country. Previous to the battle, he is said to have aflSrmed (Taylor's Ma 
p. 191.) that he had never done any thing more willingly in his life than his 
coming to meet William. Mistaking thus his personal ardour for his military 
strength ; mistaking also his great adversary who, to courage and skUl, at least 
equal to his own, was more desperate from necessity, and had superior form 

A A 4 


BOOK versary, before he was prepared to meet hiin. When 

H^M the battle had begun, the abilities of Harold, and the 

tocsgcond . bravery of his countrymen, seemed again likely to 

io6«. ruin the hopes of his great competitor. The death 

of Harold then terminated the contest, while William, 

who had been in as much danger as Harold^ was not 

penetrated by a single weapon. 

But it was ordained by the Supreme Director of 
events, that England should no longer remain insu- 
lated from the rest of Europe ; but should, for its 
own benefit and the improvement of mankind, become 
connected with the affairs of the Continent. The 
Anglo-Saxon dynasty was therefore terminated ; and 
a sovereign, with great continental possessions, was 
led to the English throne. By the consequences of 
this revolution, England acquired that interest and 
established that influence in the transactions and 
fortunes of its neighbours, which have continued to 
the present day, with equal advantages to its inha- 
bitants and to Europe. 

NOTE ON Harold's alleged suRvnrAL. 

Th< Harleian MS., No. 3776., contains a curious legend on Harold, which a 
gentleman who has reviewed Dr. Lappenherg's Grerman History of England, in the 
second number of Cochran's Foreign Quarterly Review, has brought out to public 
notice. The author, from his expressions in his ninth chapter, seems to have lived 
about 140 years after the battle of Hastings. The story he narrates is, that al- 
though Harold was grievously wounded in this battle^ and to all appearance dead, 
yet that when those lying in the field were examined by some women searching 
fbr their friends, it was discovered that life was still lingering in his body. 

By the care of two men of middling station, whom the MS. calls * Francalanoa 
sive Agricolas,* that is, rural Franklins, he was secretly removed to Winchester, 
and was there nursed for two years concealed in a cellario by a woman of the 
Saracen nation who was skilled in the art of surgery. Her care restored him to 
health ; but when he had thus recovered he found that England had every where 
submitted to William, and that he was too strongly seated on his throne, and 
had such a military command of the country, that without foreign aid it would 
be impossible to dispossess him. Harold sought to interest Saxony to assist him, 
but finding his application refused, he proceeded to Denmark ; but William had 
secured the neutrality or fHendship of that nation. These disappointments changed 
the feelings of Harold from ambition or patriotism into those of piety, humili- 
ation, and repentance^ He became an altered man, both internally and exter- 
nally. In the hand which had wielded his spear he placed a pilgrim*s staiT ; he 
exchanged the shield on his neck for a wallet, and his helmet for a humble hat, 
and with feet half naked Journeyed to Palestine. He passed many years in his 
penitential travels and austerities, till age and infirmities induced him to return to 



England and die in his native land. He landed at Dover ; ascended the cliffs once 
so well known by him, and contemplated the land he had ruled. But he sup« 
pressed his natural and worldly feelings ; and concealing his worn features by a 
cowl, he assumed the name of Christian, and fh)m Kent journeyed on to Shropshire, 
and settled himself in a secluded spot which the MS. calls Ceswrthin. 

lie constructed himself here a cell, where he lived unknown by any for ten 
years ; but annoyed by the Welsh, who frequently beat him and stole his clothes, 
he quitted this abode, though not, says the MS., because he would not endure 
this affliction, but because he wished to give the rest of his life to meditation and 
prayer. He wandered thence to Chester, and was supematurally warned that he 
would And a residence ready for him at the church of St. John there. 

This occurred to him in the chapel of St James, which the MS. mentions to 
have been situated on the Dee, beyond the walls of the city, in the cemetery of 
St. John. 

On reaching the spot he found that a former hermit had Just died there, and 
he took possession of his retirement as his successor. Here he remained for seven 
years, leading a religious eremetical life until his death. 

While he was here, some suspicions arose that he had been a distinguished Saxon 
chief, and he was questioned about it To such inquiries he returned evasive 
answers, but never gave a direct answer to those who asked him if he had not been 
the King of England. He admitted that he had fbught at the battle of Hastings, 
and that no one had been dearer to Harold than himself. But as death came upon 
him he revealed the secret, and acknowleged in his last confession his real dignity. 

Such is the outline of this ancient narrative. The writer accounts for his own 
knowlege of these circumstances by stating that he derived them from a venerable 
anchorite, named Sebrccht, who had for many years ministered to Harold, and 
knew his regal character. 

On the king*s death Sebrecht quitted Chester, went on a pilgrimage to the Holy 
Land, and returning ilxed himself in the village of Stanton in Oxfordshire, where 
the writer became acquainted with him and learned these fiurts concerning Harold 
from hira, and obtained similar information also from others who were worthy of 

He declares that Gurth, the brother of Harold, also survived the fstal conflict, 
and lived to be presented to Henr>' IL at Woodstock. This Gurth assured Michael, 
a canon of Waltham, that the monks of his abbey had been deceived as to the body 
which they had buried as Harold's. Michael related this fkct to the author, and 
was alive when he wrote his narrative. 

His supplementary chapter contains the statement of the recluse who succeeded 
Harold in his cell, confirming tacts which this individual declares he had received 
fh>m Moyses, the confidential servant of Harold, and from Andrew, the priest of 
the church of St John, to whom Harold had made his confession. 

There is great plausibility and circumstantiality in these particulars, but we 
cannot admit the legend to be true history. It Is possible that there was such a 
hermit and not improbable that either from some hallucination of mind, or from 
a self-exalting imposture, he may have pretended to have been the king of 

This supposition would allow all the attestations to be true, without our be- 
lieving that the pretender was the real person whose title and character he assumed. 


the Second. 


No. I. 

On the jAinguage of the Anglo-Saxons. 

On the Structure or Mechanism of the Anglo-Saxon Language. 

To explain the history of any language is a task peculiarly chap. 
difficult at this period of the world, in which we are so very ^ 
remote from the era of its ori^nal construction. ' 

We have, as yet, witnessed no people in the act of form- 
ing their language ; and cannot, therefore, from experience, 
demonstrate the simple elements from which a language be- 
gins, nor the additional organisation which it gradually re- 
ceives. The languages of highly civilised people, which are 
those that we are most conversant with, are in a state very 
unlike their ancient tongues. Many words have been added 
to them from other languages; many have deviated into 
meanings very different from their primitive significations; 
many have been so altered by the changes of pronunciation 
and orthography, as scarcely to bear any resemblance to 
their ancient form. The abbreviations of language, which 
have been usually called its articles, pronouns, conjunctions, 
prepositions, adverbs, and interjections ; the inflections of its 
verbs, the declensions of its nouns, and the very form of its 
syntax, have also undergone so many alterations from the 
caprice of human usage, that it is impossible to discern any 
thing of the mechanism of a language, but by ascending 
from its present state to its more ancient form. 

The Anglo-Saxon is one of those ancient languages to 
which we may successfully refer, in our inquiries how 
language has been constructed. 

As we have not had the experience of any people forming 


CHAP, a language, we cannot attain to a knowl^e of its mechanism 
^ in any other way than by analysing it; by arranging its 
words into their different classes, and by tracing these to their 
elementary sources. We shall perhaps be unable to discover 
the original words with which the language b^an» but we 
may hope to trace the progress of its formation, and some of 
the principles on which that progress has been made. In 
this inquiry I shall follow the steps of the author of the 
Diversions of Purley, and build upon his foundations ; be- 
cause I think that his book has presented to us the key to 
that mechanism which we have so long admired, so fruitlessly 
examined, and so little understood. 

Words have been divided into nine classes: the article; 
the substantive, or noun ; the pronoun ; the adjective ; the 
verb ; the adverb ; the preposition ; the conjunction ; and the 

Under these classes all the Saxon words may be arranged, 
although not with that scientific precision with which the 
classifications of natural history have been made. Mr. Tooke 
has asserted, that in all languages there are only two sorts of 
words necessary for the communication of our thoughts, and 
therefore only two parts of speech, the noun and the verb, 
and that the others are the abbreviations of these. 

But if the noun and the verb be only used, they will 
serve, not so much to impart our meaning, as to indicate it. 
These will suffice to express simple substances or facts, and 
simple motions of nature or man; but will do, by them- 
selves, little else. All the connections, references, distinc- 
tions, limitations, applications, contrasts, relations, and re- 
finements of thought and feeling — and therefore most of 
what a cultivated people wish to express by language, cannot 
be conveyed without the other essential abbreviations — and 
therefore all nations have been compelled, as occasions oc- 
curred, as wants increased, and as thought evolved, to invent 
or adopt them, till all that were necessary became naturalised 
in the language. 

That nouns and verbs are the most essential and primitive 
words of language, and that all others have been formed 
from them, are universal facts, which, after reading the Di- 
versions of Purley, and tracing in other languages the ap- 
plication of the principles there maintained, no enlightened 
philologist will now deny. But though this is true as to the 
origin of these parts of speech, it may be questioned whether 
the names established by conventional use may not be still 
properly retained, because the words now classed as con- 


junctions, prepositions, &c., though originally verbs, are not chap. 
verbs at present, but have been long separated from their ^ 
verbal parents, and have become distinct parts of our gram- 
matical syntax. 

That the conjunctions, the prepositions, the adverbs, and 
the interjections of our language, have been made from our 
verbs and nouns, Mr. Tooke has satisfactorily shown: and 
with equal truth he has affirmed, that articles and pronouns 
have proceeded from the same source. I have pursued his 
inquiries through the Saxon and other languages, and am 
satisfied that the same may be affirmed of adjectives. Nouns 
and verbs are the parents of all the rest of language ; and it 
can be proved in the Anglo-Saxon, as in other tongues, that 
of these the nouns are the ancient and primitive stock from 
which all other words have branched and vegetated. 

The Anglo-Saxon adjectives may be first noticed. 

The adjectives, which are or have been participles, have 
obviously originated from verbs, and they are by no means 
an inconsiderable number. 

Adjectives which have been formed from participles, as 
aberendlic, bebeodenlic, &c., are referable to the same source. 

But the large proportion of adjectives are either nouns 
used as adjectives ^ or are nouns with an additional syllable. 
These additional syllables are or have been meaning words. 

Lie is an Anglo-Saxon word, which implies similitude, 
and is a termination which includes a large class of ad- 
jectives. ^ 

Another large class may be ranged under the ending leas, 
which implies loss or diminution. ^ 

Another class of adjectives is formed by adding the word 
sum, which expresses a degree or a portion of a thing.^ 

Other adjectives are made by putting the word full at the 
ends of nouns.* 

A large collection of them might be made, which consist 
of nouns, and the syllable ig, as blood-ig, bloody ; cHf-ig, 
rocky; craeft-ig, skilfuL Other adjectives are composed of a 
noun and cund ; others of a noun and bser, &c. &c 

* As Utb, evil, also pernicious ; lens* length, also long ; hise, diligence, also 
diligent, &c. 

' As ceoplic, vulgar, ceopl-Iic; cilblic, childlike, cilb-lic ; cipclic, ecclesias- 
tical, cipc-lic; cpepclic, workmanlike, crisFC-lic ; rpcolic, free, irpeo- (a lord) he; 
nieonblic, friendly, rpeonb-lic; sobhc, dirine, sob-lic; SPAmulic, furious, SPAmap 
(anger) he; F^cnlic, muddy, jren-lic ; &c. 

* As caplear, void of care, cap-leaf ; cpsFClear, ignorant, cpaerc-leaf ; nicen- 
lear, not deceitful, jracen-leaf ; jreoh-leaf, moneyless, bpeam-leaf, joyless, &c. 

As rnenifum, benign, rpeme-fum ; pinfum, joyful, &c. 

* As racen-Fu], deceitful; beopc-rull, dark; ese-rul, fearful, &c. 


cuAP. After theee examples it will be unnecessary to go through 
^' all the classes of adjectives^ to show that they are either par- 
ticiples of verbs, or have sprung from nouns. Every one 
who takes that trouble will be convinced of the fact, I will 
only remark, that the Saxon comparative d^ree is usually 
formed by the addition of er. Now er or ssr is a word whidi 
implies priority, and is therefore very expressively used to 
denote that degree of superiority which the comparative de- 
gree is intended to a£Srm. So est, which is the termination 
of the Saxon superlatives, is a noun which expresses muni- 
ficence or abundance. Tir is a prasfix which makes a super- 
lative, and tir signifies a supremacy and lordship. 

The Anglo-Saxon verbs have essentially contributed to 
form those parts of speech which Mr. Tooke has denominated 
the abbreviations of language. The verbs, however, are not 
themselves the primitive words of our language. They are 
all in a state of composition. They are like the secondary 
mountains of the earth — they have been formed posterior 
to the ancient bulwarks of human speech, which are the 
nouns — I mean of course those nouns which are in their 
elementary state. 

In some languages, as in the Hebrew, the verbs are very 
often the nouns applied unaltered to a verbal signification. 
We have examples of this sort of verbs in our English words, 
love, hate, fear, hope, dream, sleep, &c These words are 
nouns, and are abo used as verbs. Of verbs thus made by 
the simple application of nouns in a verbal form, the Anglo- 
Saxon gives few examples. 

Almost all its other verbs are nouns with a final syllable 
added, and this final syllable is a word expressive of motion, 
or action, or possession. 

To show this fact, we will take some of the Anglo-Saxon 
verbs : 

Bab, a pledge, bab-ian, to pledge. 

baep, a bier. bsep-an, to carry. 

bsech, a bath. basch-ian, to wash. 

bar, a club, beac-an, to beat. 

bebob, a command. bebob-an, to command. 

bitSbe, a prayer. bibb-an, to pray. 

bi^, a crown. bi^-an, to bend, 

h\\\Xyjoy. bhi*i*-iaii, to rejoice. 

blofcm, a flower. blofcm-ian, to blossom. 

bloc, a sacrifice. bloc-an, to sacrifice. 

bob, an edict. boS-ian, to proclaim. 

bop;, a loan. bop^-ian, to lend. 

bpibl^ a bridle. bpibl-ian, to bridle. 


bjioc, misery. bpoc-ian, to afflict. CHAP. 

bye, an habitation, b^-an, to inhabit. I. 

b^j-ej, business. byf^-ian, to be busy. ' 

byfmji, contumely. b^fmp-ian, to deride. 

b^la, a builder. bycl-ian, to build. 

cap, care. cap-ian, to be anxious. 

ceap, cattle. ceap-ian, to buy. 

cele, cold. eel- an, to cool. 

ceppe, a bending. cepp-an, to return. 

cib, strife. cib-an, to quarrel. 

cnyr, a knot. cnycr-an, to tie. 

comp, a battle. comp-ian, tojight. 

cpaepc, art. cpaepc-an, to buUd. 

cupf, a curse. cupp-an, to curse. 

cpib, a saying. cpybb-ian, to say. 

cypm, a noise. cypra-an, to cry out. 

cyrh, hnowlege. cjrrh-an, to make known. 

cof, a kiss. cyrr-an, to kiss. 

b£el, a part. beel-an, to divide. 

bse^ day. baej-ian, to shine. 

beaj, colour. beaj-an, to tinge. 

If we go through all the alphabet, we shall find that most 
of the verbs are composed of a noun, and the syllables an, 
ian, or gan. Of these additional syllables, gan is the verb of 
motion, to go, or the verb agan, to possess; and an seems 
sometimes the abbreviation of anan, to give S and sometimes 
of the verbs gan and agan. Thus deagan, to tinge, appears 
to me deag-an, to ^ve a colour ; dselan, to divide, dsel-an, to 
^ve a part ; cossan, to kiss, cos-an, to give a kiss ; cursian, 
to curse, curs-an, to give a curse: while we may presume 
that curian, to be anxious, is car-agan, to have care ; blost- 
mian, to blossom, is blostm-agan, to have a flower ; byan, to 
inhabit, is by-agan, to have a habitation. We may also say 
that cydan, to quarrel, is the abbreviation of cid-gan, to go 
to quarrel : bsethian, to wash, is baeth-gan, to go to a bath ; 
biddan, to pray, b bidde-gan, to go to pray. The Gothic to 
pray, is bidgan. 

That the words gan, or agan, have been abbreviated or 
softened into an, or ian, can be proved from several verbs. 
Thus fylgan, or filigian, to follow, is also filian. Thus fleo- 
gan, to fly, becomes also fleon and flion. So forhtigan, to 
be afraid, has become also forhtian. So fundigan has be- 
come fimdian; gethyldgian, gethyldian; fengan, foan and 
fon; and teogan, teon. The examples of this change are 

' It is probable that anan is a double inflnitiTe, like gan-gan, to go, and that an 
is the original infinitive of the verb to give. 


CHAP. This abbreviation is also proved by many of the parti- 

^ ciples of the abbreviated verbs ending in gend, thus show- 

* ing the original infinitive to have been gen ; as frefrian, to 

comfort, has its participle frefergend ; fremian, to profit, 

freomigend ; fiilian has fuligend : gssmnian, gsemnigend, &c. 

Many verbs are composed of the terminations above men- 
tioned, and of words which exist in the Anglo-Saxon, not 
as nouns, but as adjectives, and of some words which are not 
to be met with in the Anglo-Saxon, either as nouns or ad- 
jectives. But so true is the principle, that nouns were the 
primitive words of these verbs, and that verbs are but the 
nouns with the additional final syllables, that we shall very 
frequently find the noun we search for existing in the state 
of a noun in some of those languages which have a close 
affinity with the Anglo-Saxon. This language meets our eye 
in a very advanced state, and therefore when we decompose 
it we cannot expect to meet in itself all its elements. Many 
of its elements had dropped out of its vocabulary at that 
period wherein we find it, just as in modem English we have 
dropped a great number of words of our Anglo-Saxons an- 
cestors. In this treatise, which the necessary limits of my 
publication compel me to make very concise, I can only be 
expected to give a few instances. 

Beran is to bring forth, or produce ; there is no primitive 
noun answering to this verb in the Anglo-Saxon, but there is 
in the Franco-theotisc, where we find bar is fruit, or whatever 
the earth produces : ber-an is therefor^ to give fruit, or to 
produce. So msersian, to celebrate, is from segan, to speak, 
and some noun from which the adjective msera, illustrious, 
had been formed. The noun is not in the Saxon, but it is in 
the Franco-theotisc, where mera, is fame, or rumour ; there- 
fore msersian, to celebrate a person, is mera-segan, to speak 
his fame. I have observed many examples of this sort. 

In searching for the original nouns from which verbs have 
been formed, we must always consider if the verb we are 
inquiring about be a primitive verb or a secondary verb, con- 
taining either of the prefixes a, be, ge, for, on, in, to, with, 
&c &c. In these cases, we must strip the verb of its praefix, 
and examine its derivation under its earlier form. The verbs 
with a praefix are obviously of later origin than the verbs to 
which the praefix has not been applied. 

Sometimes the verb consists of two verbs put together, as 
gan-gan, to go ; so for-letan, to dismiss or leave, is composed 
of two verbs, faran, to go, Isetan, to let or suffer, and is 
literally to let go. 


The Anglo-Saxon nouns are not all of the same antiquity ; chap. 
some are the primitive words of the language from which ^ 

every other has branched^ but some are of later date. 

We have mentioned the nouns of which the adjectives and 
the verbs have been formed. Such nouns are among the 
earliest of the language. But the more ancient nouns having 
been applied to form the adjectives and the verbs^ a more 
recent series of nouns has been made by subjoining new ter- 
minations to the adjectives and verbs. Thus we have pur- 
sued the noun car to the adjective car-full. But this adjective^ 
having been thus formed^ has become the basis of a new 
substantive, by the addition of the syllable nysse, and thus 
we have carfulnysse. In the same way the new noun car- 
Icasness has been made. So facenfulness, &c. &c. 

A great many nouns have been made from verbs ; as, 
gearcung, preparation, from gearcian, to prepare ; gearnung, 
earning, from gearnian, to earn ; geascung, an asking, from 
geascian, to ask; gebicnung, a presage, from gebicnian, to 
show, &c. 

A new set of secondary nouns has been made by combining 
two more ancient nouns. Thus accorn, an acorn, is made 
up of ac, an oak, and corn ; and thus accorn is literally the 
corn of the oak : so ceapscipa is a merchant ship ; ceapman, 
a merchant, from ceap, originally cattle, and afterwards pro- 
perty, or business ; and the other nouns, scipa, a ship ; and 
man, a man. Thus ceasterwara, citizens, literally ceaster, a 
city, and wara, men. So burg-wara, citizens, from burg and 
wara. So eorldom, freondscip, &c. 

A great many secondary nouns have been made by adding 
nouns of meaning terminations, which are in fact other nouns, 
as esse, or nesse ; eld ; er ; ing ; leaste ; dom, rice, had ; 
scipe; scire. 

A very large proportion of nouns has been made by apply- 
ing the primitive noun in a variety of figurative meanings. 
Thus originally ceap, cattle, came afterwards to express 
business, also sale, and also food. So cniht, a boy, a servant, 
a youth, a disciple, a client, and a soldier ; craift, art, is also 
workmanship, strength, power, and cunning. But a hundred 
examples might be added on this topic. 

This view of the decomposition of the Anglo-Saxon lan- 
guage exhibits the same principles of mechanism which may 
be found in other languages. They appear very conspicu- 
ously in the Welsh language, which, from the long seclusion 
of the Welsh nation, has retained more of its ancient form 

VOL. n. B B 


ciiAP. than any other language now spoken in Europe. They may 
^ be also seen in the Graelic 

Having thus succinctly exhibited the Anglo-Saxon lan- 
guage in a state of decomposition, we may form some notion 
of its mechanism and progress. 

The primitive nouns expressing sensible objects, having 
been formed, they were multiplied by combinations with each 
other. They were then applied to express ideas more ab- 
stracted. By adding to them a few expressive syllables, the 
numerous classes of verbs and adjectives arose ; and from 
these again other nouns and adjectives were formed. The 
nouns and verbs were then abbreviated and adapted into con- 
junctions, prepositions, adverbs, and inteijections. The 
pronouns were soon made from a sense of their convenience ; 
and out of these came the articles. To illustrate these 
principles, from the various languages which I have examined, 
would expand these few pages into a volume, and would be 
therefore improper ; but I can recommend the subject to the 
attention of the philological student, with every assurance of 
a successful research. 

The multiplication of language by the metaphorical appli- 
cation of nouns to express other nouns, or to signify adjec- 
tives, may be observed in all languages. Thus, beorht, light, 
was applied to express bright, shining, and illustrious. So 
deop, the sea, was applied to express depth. 

As a specimen how the Anglo-Saxon language has been 
formed from the multiplication of simple words, I will show 
the long train of words which have been formed from a few 
primitive words. I select four of the words applicable to 
the mind. The numerous terms formed from them will 
illustrate the preceding observations on the mechanism of the 

Ancient noun : 

pyje, or hije^ mind or thought 

Secondary meaning : — care^ diligence^ study, 
po^a, care, 
poju, carCf industry, effort. 

Adjective, being the noun so applied : 

pije, diligent, studious, attentive, 
po^^a, prudent, solicitous. 

Verbs from the noun : 

po^ian, to meditate, to study, to think, to he wise, to be 

anxious : and hence to groan. 


!ln^ ' > to study^ to he solicitous, to endeavour. 

The verb, by use, having gained new shades of meaning 
and applications, we meet with it again ; as, 

hiC3;an, 1 to study, to explore, to seek vehemently, to endea^ 
hycjan, J vour, to struggle. 

Secondary noun derived from the verb : 
hojunj, care, effort, endeavour. 

Secondary nouns compounded of the ancient noun and 
another : 

hi^ecpaept, acuteness of mind. 
hi^eleaft, negligence, carelessness, 
hi'^efojij^a, anxieties, mental griefs. 

6 J P> {.prudence. 
hojofcip, J ^ 

hy3eieap:, folly, madness, scurrility. 

hy^ef ceapr, the mind or thought. 

Adjectives composed of the ancient noun and a meaning 

hyjeleaf e, void of mind, foolish, 

ijy^^ ^""^ \ magnanimous, excellent in mind. 
hije pop, f ^ ' 

h05F«rt, I ^^^. 

hojofeajT, f ^ 

hojpull, anxious, full of care. 

hije i^iob, wise, prudent in mind. 

hi^e leaf, negligent, incuriotu. 

hi^e ftpan^, strong in mind. 

hije thancle, cautious, provident, thoughtful. 

Adverbs from the adjective : 

hi^^eleaf lice, negligently, incuriously. 
hojpuU lice, anxiously. 

GDob, the mind ; also passion and irritability. 


mobian, 1 to be high-minded. 
mobijan, Vto rage. 
mob^^ian, J to swelL 

Adjectives composed of the noun and another word or 
syllable : 

mobe^ 'I irritable. 
mobi^ J f^ngry, proud. 

BB 2 


\ y I ^ 


CHAP. ]iiobpu1,yt<// qfmindf irritable. 

L mob^a, elated, proudy distinguished, 

mobhpatsif fervid in mind. 
mobilic, magnanimotis. 
mob leap, meek-minded, pusillanimous. 
mob ytacholy Jirm-minded. 
mobth]>ep, patient in mind, meek, mild. 

Secondary nouns composed of the ancient noun and some 
other : 

mob ^echanc, thoughts of the mind, council. 

mob ^echohc, strength of mind, reasoning. 

mob ^epmne, conflicts of mind. 

mobef mynla, the affections of the mind — the inclinations. 

mobhete, heat of mind — anger. 

mobleafte, folly, pusillanimity, slothfulness, 

mobnerre, pride. 

mobfepa, tne intellect — sensation — intelligence. 

mob fopX* grief of mind. 

Secondary nouns of still later origin^ having been formed 
after the adjectives, and composed of an adjective and another 


mobmeffe, moodiness, pride, animosity. 

mob f eocnepfe, sickness of mind, 

mob fcacholnyffe, y?rmw€M of mind, fortittide. 

mob fumnen*e, concord. 

mobchscpneffe, patience, meekness. 

Adverb formed from the adjective : 
mobi^lice, proudly, angrily. 


r * fc I ^^* w***'*^ — genius — the intellect — the sense. 
Secondary meaning : — wisdom — prudence. 

Noun applied as an adjective : 


pice^ wise — skilful. 

Eepica, conscious ; hence a witness. 

Verb formed from the noun : 

pican, to know, to perceive. 
^epican, to understand. 
pite^ian, to prophesy. 

Adjectives composed of the ancient noun, and an addi- 
tional syllable or word : 


picti^ vnsey skilled^ ingenious^ prudenL CHAP. 

je-pici^, knowing^ taise, intelligent ^ 

je picleaf, ignorantf foolish. • 

je picci^ intelligent^ conscious. 
je pitf coc, HI in mindj demoniac. 
pitol^ pictol, tnse^ knowing. 

Secondary nouns formed of the ancient noun and another 

pitebom, the knowlege ofjudgmenty prediction. 

piteja, a prophet 

pitejunj, prophecy. 

pice fa^^a, a prophet. 

^epitleayZy folly, madness. 

^e pit loca, the mind. 

je picnejT, witness. 

jepicfcipe, witness. 

pite dope, trifles. 

picpopby the answer of the wise. 

Nouns of more recent date^ having been formed out of the 
adjectives : 

jepici-eocnepf, insanity. 

pic inborn, knowlege, wisdom, prescience. 

picolneffe, knowlege, wisdom. 

Secondary adjective, or one formed upon the secondary 

picebomlic, prophetical. 
Conjunctions : 

" ,^ ' y indeed, for, but, to-wit. 

Adverbs formed from participles and adjectives : 

picenbhce, knowingly, 


Ce-thonc! J '*^ ^^^^ thought, opinion. 

chank, 1 the will. 

chonc, J thought. 
Secondary meaning : — an act of the will, or thanks. 

^u !• « council. 
Sechinj, J 

And from the consequence conferred by sitting at the 
council, came 

jechincch, honour, dignity. 

SB 3 


, J gider, 

' > to think. 
»n, f 

'' \to thank. 
an, J 

CHAP. Verbs formed from the noan : 

. thmcan, 1 to thinky to conceive^ to feely to reasoHy to con^ 

thencan, J sider, 

thm^^an, to address^ to speak^ to supplicate. 
jethancmetan, to consider. 

Adjectives formed from the ancient noun : 

thoncol' f^^^^^if^^y meditatingy cautious. 

je thancol, mindfuL 

thancful, thankful^ ingenious, content. 
thancpupch, grateful. 
thancolmob, provident, wise. 

Secondary noun formed from the verb : 

^etheaht, council. 
^etheahtepe, counsellor. 
chankiin;, thanking, 
chancmecunc^ deliberation. 

Secondary verb, from one of these secondary nouns : 
jetheahtian, to consult. 

More recent noun, formed from the secondary verb : 
2;etheahcin2;, council — consultation. 

Another secondary verb : 
Ymbethencan, to think about any thing. 

Adjective from a secondary verb : 
jetheahtenbhc, consulting. 

Adverb from one of the adjectives : 
chancpiipthhce, gratefully. 

These specimens will evince to the observing eye how the 
Anglo-Saxon language has been formed ; and they also indi- 
cate that it had become very far removed from a rude state 
of speech. These derivative compounds imply much cultiva- 
tion and exercise, and a considerable portion of mental dis- 
crimination. It is, indeed^ in such an advanced state^ that 
novels, moral essays, dramas, and the poetry of nature and 



feeling might be written in pure Anglo-Saxon, without any 
perceptible deficiency of appropriate terms. ^ 



^ It was remarked in our first yolume, that the three great stems of language in 
Europe were the Keltic ; the Gothic, of which the Anglo-Saxon is a main branch ; 
and the Sclavonic. We may here add, that other languages from Asia have also 
entered the northern and eastern parts of the European continent. The principal 
of these are the five related, but not identical languages of Lapland, Finland, and 
Hungary, and the Esthonian and Lettish. Professor Rask describes the Finnish 
as an original, regular, and graceful tongue, very melodious from the pleasing dis- 
tribution of its vowels and consonants, and rich in a great variety of compound 
words, and with a boundless power of creating them. Its nouns have twelve cases, 
though only two or three declensions ; and its verbs, though usually conjugated 
according to one common rule, have more forms tlian the Latin. AlUiough it has 
a great variety of adverbs and prepositions, all its nouns are susceptible of twelve 
or fifteen modifications of purpose, possession, time, and place. It is remarkable 
that this Finnish language should want the first five consonants of our language, 
b, c, d, f, g. Its alphabet consists of only twelve consonants, but it has eight 
vowels. It is supposed to form the connecting link between the Esthonian and 
the Laplandish. Like the latter, it exhibits afilnities with the Hungarian. The 
chief foreign works on it are Renvall's Dissertatio, Aboe, 1815. Oanander's 
Myth. Fennlca, Abo. 1789. Yhael's Oram. Fennica, Hels. 1821. Lenquist de 
Superst. Vet Fenn. and Oottlund de Proverb. Fennica. The best English account 
of it is in the West. Rev. No. 14. p. 317. " Among the most curiods fragments 
of ancient Finnish literature, are the fMe», They consist of dialogues between 
rocks and rivers and forests ; between birds, beasts, fishes, and human beings.*' 
Ibid. 339. The Finnish, Lettish, Esthonian, Laplandish, and Hungarian languages 
form the fourth and latest stream of human speech that has entered Europe from 
Asia, and probably came into it at the period of the first Hunnlsh Invasion. 

As some of the quotations from the Anglo-Saxon in these 
volumes are in its peculiar characters its Alphabet is here added 
for the convenience of the general reader : — 

S a 


I 1 



8 r 


B b 


K k 




E c 


L 1 




D b 


GO m 




€ c 






F F 











P h 




Z z 


• Sound k 

B B 4 



On the Originality of the Anglo-Saxon Language. 

CHAP. It is difficult to ascertain the originality of the Saxon lan- 
^^' guage ; because^ however rude the people who used it may 
have appeared to us, it is a fact that their language comes to 
us in a very cultivated shape. 

Its cultivation is not only proved by its copiousness — by 
its numerous synonymes — by the declension of its nouns — 
the conjugation of its verbs — its abbreviated verbs, or con- 
junctions, adverbs, and prepositions, and its epithets or ad- 
jectives ; but also by its great number of compound words 
applying to every shade of meaning. 

By the Anglo-Saxon appearing to us in a state so advanced, 
it is very difficult to ascertain its origintdity. It is difficult, 
when we find words corresponding with those of other lan- 
guages, to distinguish those which it originally had, like the 
terms of other tongues, and those which it had imported. 

The conjugation of its substantive verb, however, proves 
that it is by no means in its state of original purity ; for in- 
stead of this being one verb, with inflections of itself through- 
out its tenses, it is composed of the fragments of no fewer 
than five substantive verbs, the primitive terms of which 
appear in other languages. The fragments of these five words 
are huddled together in the Anglo-Saxon, and thus make up 
its usual conjugations. 

To perceive this curious fact, it will be useful to recollect 
the same verb in the Greek and Latin. 

In the Greek, the verb eijxi is regularly deflected through 
almost all its tenses and persons. In the Latin it is other- 
wise. We begin these with suniy and pass directly to the 
inflections of another word more like the Greek sijxi; but 
the inflections of sum are frequently intermixed. Thus, 

Sum, sumus, 

es, estis, 

est, sunt 

Here we see at one glance two verbs deflecting; the one 
into sum^ sumusy sunt; the other into eSy est, estis. In the 
imperfect and future tenses, eram and eroy we see one of the 


verbs continuing ; but in the perfect^ fui^ a new deflecting chap. 
verb suddenly appears to us : ^ 

fuiy fuistiy fuitf fuimiLSy fuistis, fuerunt 

In another of its tenses we have the curious exhibition of 
two of the former verbs being joined together to make a 
new inflection ; as, 

fuero, fuerisy fuerit^ &C. 

This is literally a combination o( fui and era ; which indeed 
its meaning implies^ ^^ I shall have beenJ* 

The Anglo-Saxon substantive verb is also composed out 
of several verbs. We can trace no fewer than five in its 
diflerent inflections. 

/am, com, eart^ ys, synd, synd^ synd. 
Iwasy waes, waere, waes, waeron, waeron, wseron. 
beo, byst^ byth, beoth, beoth, booth. 

The infinitive is been, or wesan, to be. 

These are the common inflections of the above tenses ; but 
we sometimes find the following variations : 

for / amy we sometimes have eom^ am^ om, beo, ar, sy ; for 
thou arty we have occasionally eart^ arth^ bist^ cs, sy ; for 

he isy we have ys, bith, sy ; 

and for the plural we have synd, syndon^ synt, sien, beoth^ 

and bithon. 

In these inflections we may distinctly see five verbs, whose 
conjugations are intermixed : 

com, es, ys, are ofone family, and resemble 

the Greek eijxi. 

ar, arth, and am, are, proceed from another parent, 

and are not unlike the Latin 

syj sy, sy, synd. are from another, and recal to 

our minds the Latin sum 
and ^7^72^. 

wajs, wasre, wass, wasron, seem referable to another 

branch, of which the infini- 
tive, wesan, was retained 
in the Anglo-Saxon. 

bcon, bist, bith, booth, belong to a distinct family, 

whose infinitive, beon, was 
kept in use. 


But it is curious to consider the source of the last verb^ beo, 
and beon^ which the Flemings and Germans retain in ik ben 
and ich bin, / am. 

The verb beo seems to have been derived from the Cim- 
merian or Celtic language^ which was the earliest that ap- 
peared in Europe; because the Welsh, which has retained 
most of this tongue, has the infinitive bod, and some of its 
reflections. The perfect tense is 

bum, buost, bu, buam, buac, buant 

The Anglo-Saxon article is also compounded of two words; 

Nom. Se, seo, that 

Gen. thaes, thasre, this. 

Dat. tham, thasre, tham. 

Ace thone, tha, that. 

Se and that are obviously distinct words. 

When we consider these facts, and the many Anglo- 
Saxon nouns which can be traced into other languages, it 
cannot be affirmed that the Anglo-Saxon exhibits to us an 
original language. It is an ancient language, and has pre- 
served much of its primitive form ; but a large portion of it 
seems to have been made up from other ancient languages. 

The affinities which I collected on the substantive verb 
were stated in a letter to the Royal Society of Literature, 
which has been printed in their Transactions, vol. i. p. 101. 




On the Copiousness of the Saxon Language. 

This language has been thought to be a very rude and chap. 
barren tongue^ incapable of expressing any thing but the ^^ 
most simple and barbarous ideas. The truth, however, is, 
that it is a very copious language, and is capable of expressing 
any subject of human thought. In the technical terms of 
those arts and sciences which have been discovered, or much 
improved, since the Norman Conquest, it must of course be 
deficient. But books of history, belles lettres, and poetry, 
may be now written in it, with considerable precision and 
correctness, and even with much discrimination, and some 
elegance of expression. 

The Saxon abounds with synonymes. I will give a few 
instances of those which my memory can supply. To express 

Man. Woman.' 

man. ibep. 

Dich. pyp. 

fipa. femne. 

calla. me^ch. 

^uma. epe. 

hcelecb. meopla. 

pep. blaeb. 

pine. mennen. 

pole. pija. 

Secjelbepbapnum. Debebba. 

For persons possessing power and authority they used 


















Besides the compounds 

polcep peppan. 


» The 

! Ftmiish word for 

woman is waimo. 


CHAP. pole t02;an. heathopinc. 

m- V^pna balbep. leoba pefpan. 

' bup^a ealbop. aethelbopen. 

pice man. ppjmcha paldenb. 

And besides the official names of 

c^inj. eopl. 

ealbopman. the^n. 

hepeco^af. jefichcunbemany &c. 

For property they had in use the terms 

jTipe. fceac. 

peap. r*^c. 

aehca. ceap. 

Besides the metaphors from the metals and coins. 

In a poem we find the following synonymous terms used 
to express convivial shouting : 

hlybbe. ptpymbe. 

hlyneb. jelybe. 


To the mind we find several words appropriated : 

mob. pepa. hijepcepc. 

^ethane. mob- pepa. mjehyjb. 

pepch. jemjrnb. niob-jechohc 

hije. ^eppaeje. ^ethohc. 

hpethep. ^e pic. ojithanc. 

jepit loca. puDCopa. anbpt. 

For knowlege and learning they had list, croeft, leomung, 
For the sea, 

bpym. maepe. e^peam. 

loje. yth, paetepep. 

pse. ^appec^. holm, 

ea. pcpeam. fepe, 

flobe. pillfiob. 

Besides numerous metaphors ; as 

8pan pabe. 
Iianotep bath, &c. 

For poetry and song, 

leoth. bpeamneppe. 

pitt. jechpepe. 

2yb. ppelL 

They had a great number of words for a ship ; and to 


express the Supreme, they used more words and phrases chap. 
than I can recollect to have seen in any other language. ^^ 

Indeed the copiousness of their language was receiving 
perpetual additions from the lays of their poets. I have 
already mentioned that the great features of their poetry were 
metaphor and periphrasis. On these they prided themselves. 
To be fluent in these was the great object of their emulation ; 
the great test of their merit. Hence Cedmon, in his account 
of the deluge, uses near thirty synonymous words and phrases 
to express the ark. They could not attain this desired end 
without making new words and phrases by new compounds, 
and most of these became naturalised in the language. The 
same zeal for novelty of expression led them to borrow words 
from every other language which came within their reach. 

We have a specimen of the power of the language in 
Elfric's Saxon Grammar, in which we may perceive that he 
finds Saxon words for the abstruse distinctions and defini- 
tions of grammar. A few may be added. 

verbum popb. 

accidentia jelimplic thin3. 

significatio jecacnunje. 

actio baebe. 

passio thjiopinje. 

tempus cib. 

modus je mec. 

species hip. 

figura Sejpesebnyn*. 

conjugatio jetheobnyfr. 

persona bab. 

nuraerus ^ecel. 

anomala unemne. 

inequalis unjelic. 

dcfectiva aceopi^eiibhc. 

frequentativa jelomlaecenbe. 

inchoativa onjmnenbhc 

To express indeclinables the natural resources of the lan- 
guage failed him, and he adopts the Latin word, and gives it 
a Saxonized form. 

The astronomical treatises which have been already men- 
tioned show a considerable power in the language to express 
even matters of science. 

But the great proof of the copiousness and power of the 
Anglo-Saxon language may be had from considering our own 
English, which is principally Saxon. It may be interesting 
to show this by taking some lines of our principal authors, 
and marking in Italics the Saxon words they contain. 




To he or not to be, that is the question ; 
Whether *tis nobler in the mind to suffer 
The stings and arrows o/* outrageous fortune, 
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles. 
And by opposing end them ! To die, to sleep ; 
No more ! and by a sleep to say we end 
The heart-ach, and the thousand natural shocks 
Thefiesh is heir to ! 'twere a consummation 
Devoutly to be wished. To die ; to sleep ; 
To sleep ? perchance to dream ! 


With thee conversing I forget all time. 
All seasons, and their change ; all please alike. 
Sweet is the breath of mom, her rising sweet. 
With charm of earliest birds ; pleasant the sun 
When first on this delightful lafid he spreads 
His orient beams on herb, tree, fruit, and flower. 
Glistening with dew ; fragrant the fertile ear^ 
After soft showers ; and sweet the coming on 
O/* grateful evening mild; then silent night 
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon. 
And these the gems of heaven, her starry train, 


Mark that swift arrow ! how it cuts the air. 

How it otUruns the following eye I 

Use all persuasions now and try 
If thou canst call it back, or stay it there. 

That way it went ; but thou shaltfind 

No track is left behind. 
Fool I 'tis thy life, and the fond archer thou. 

Of all the time thou'st shot away 

Til bid thee fetch but yesterday, 

And it shall be too hard a task to do! 

Translators of the Bible. 

And they made ready the present against Joseph came at noon : 
for they heard that they should eat bread there. And when Joseph 
came home, they brought him the present which was in their hand 
into the house, and bowed themselves to him to the earth. And he 
asked them of their welfare, and said. Is your father well, the old 
man of whom ye spake f Is he yet alive f And they answered, 
Thy servant our father is in good health, he is yet alive. And 
they bowed down their heads, and made obeisance. And he lift 
up his eyes, and saw his brother Benjamin, his mothet's son^ and 


said. Is this your younger hrotheVy of whom ye spake unto me ? CHAP. 
And he said, God be gracious unto thee, my son, Gren. xliii. U'* 

Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him^ she 
fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lordy if thou hadst been 
here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her 
weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he 
groaned in the spirit, and was troubled. And said. Where have 
ye laid him f They said unto him. Lord, come and see, Jesus 
wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him I John, xi. 


These as they change, Almighty Father I these 
Are but the varied God, The rolling year 
Is full of thee. Forth in the pleasing spring 
Thy beauty walks, thy tenderness and love. 
Wide flush the fields ; the softening air is balm. 
Echo the mountains round ; the forest smiles : 
And every sense and every heart is joy. 
Then comes thy glory in the summer months. 
With light and heat refulgent. Then thy sun 
; Shoots full perfection through the swelling year, 

Addison. ' 

/ was yesterday, about sun-set, walking in the open fields, till 
the night insensibly^// upon me, I at first amused myself with 
all the richness and variety q/* colours which appeared in the west' 
em parts of heaven. In proportion as they faded away and went 
out, several stars and planets appeared, one after another, till the 
whole firmament was in a glow. The blueness of the asther was 
exceedingly heightened and enlivened by the season of the year, 


Hard is the doubt, and difficult to deem. 

When all three kinds of love together meet, 

And do dispart the heart with power extreme. 

Whether shall weigh the balance down ; to weet 

The dear affection unto kindred sweet. 

Or raging ^re of love to woman kind. 

Or zeal of friends, combin'd with virtues meet: 

But of them all the band q/* virtuous mind 

Me seems the gentle heart should most assured bind. 

Book iv. c. 9. 



Every man, being conscious to himself^ that he thinks^ and that, 
which his mind is applied about whilst thinhing, being the ideas 
that are there ; it is past doubt, that men have in iheir minds 
several ideas. Such are those expressed by the wards, whiteness, 
hardness, sweetness, thinking, motion, man, elephant, army, drunken- 
ness, and others. It is in the first place, then, to be inquired, 
How he comes by themf I know it is a received doctrine thcU men 
have native ideas, and original characters stamped upon their 
minds in their very first being. 

Locke's Essaj, Book xi. eh. L 


How happy is the blameless vestal's lot ! 
The world forgetting, by the world forgot ; 
Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind I 
Each pray'r accepted, and each wish resign'd ; 
Labour and rest that equal periods keep ; 
Obedient slumbers that can wake and weep ; 
Desires compos'd, affections ever er'n ; 
Tears that delight, and sighs that waft to heaven. 
Grace shines around her with serenest beams. 
And whispering angels prompt her golden dreams. 
For her th^ unfading rose o/^Eden blooms. 
And wings o/* seraphs shed divine perfumes. 


Let Indians, and the gay, like Indians, ybn^ 
Of feather d fopperies, the sun adore ; 
Darkness has more divinity ybr me ; 
It strikes thought inward; it drives back the soul 
To settle on herself, our point supreme. 
Tliere lies our theatre : there sits our judge. 
Darkness the curtain drop^s o^er lifers dull scene ; * 
' Tis the kind hand of Providence stretch'd out 
' Twixt man and vanity ; ^tis reason's reign. 
And virtue's too; these tutelary shades 
Are mavLS asjlum yVom the tainted throng. 
Night is the good maris friend, and guardian too. 
It no less rescues virtue, than inspires. 


Wisdom is a fox, who, after long hunting, will at last cost you 
the pains to dig out, ' Tis a cheese, which by how much the richer 
has the thicker, the homelier, and the coarser coat ; and whereof, to 
a judicious palate, the maggots are the best, *Tis a sack posset. 


wherein the deeper you go you will find it tlie sweeter. But thcn^ CHAP. 
lastly y 'tis a nuty which^ unless you choose with judgmeDt, may cost m- 
you a tooth, and paj you with nothing but a worm. 


This great emperor, in the plenitude of his power, and in pos- 
session of all the honors which can flatter the heart of man, took 
the extraordinary resolution to resign his kingdom ; and to with" 
draw entirely yrom any concern in business or the affairs of this 
world, in order that he might spend the remainder of his days in 
retirement and solitude. Dioclesian is, perhaps, the only prince, 
capable o/ holding the reins o/ government, who ever resigned 
them from deliberate choice, and who continued during many years 
to enjoy the tranquillity o/" retirement, without fetching one penitent 
sigh, or casting back one look of desire towards the power or 
dignity which he had abandoned. 

Charles V. 


The beauties of her person, and graces of her air, combined to 
make her the most amiable o/ women ; and the charms of her 
address and conversation, aided the impression which her lovely 
figure made on the heart of all beholders. Ambitious and active 
in her temper, yet inclined to cheerfulness and society; of a lofty 
spirit, constant and even vehement in her purpose, yet politic, 
'gentle, and affable, in her demeanor, she seemed to partoA^ ordy 
so much of the male virtues as to render her estimable, without 
relinquishing those soft graces which compose the proper ornament 
of her sex. 


In the second century of the Christian aera the empire of Rome 
comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized 
portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy 
were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valour. The 
gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually 
cemented the union of the provinces. Their pectceful inhabitants 
enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury. The 
image of a free constitution was preserved with decent reverence, 


Of genius, that power which constitutes a poet ; that quality, 
without which judgment is cold and knowledge is inert; that 
energy which collects, combines, amplifies, and animates; the 
superiority must, with some hesitation, be allowed to Dryden. It 
is not to be inferred that of this poetical vigour Pope had only a 



CHAT, little, because Dryden had more; for every other tcriier since 
IIL Milton must give place to Pope ; and even of Dryden it must he 
" said, that if he has brighter paragraphs, he has not better poems. 

From the preceding instances we may form an idea of the 
power of the Saxon language ; but by no means a just idea; 
for we must not conclude that the words which are not Saxon 
could not be supplied by Saxon words. On the contrary, 
Saxon terms might be substituted for ahnost all the words not 
marked as Saxon. 

To impress this sufficiently on the mind of the reader, it 
will be necessary to show how much of our ancient language 
we have laid aside, and have suffered to become obsolete; 
because all our writers, from Chaucer to our own times, have 
used words of foreign origin rather than our own. 

In three pages of Alfred's Orosius I found 78 words which 
have become obsolete, out of 548, or about |. In three pages 
of his Boetius I found 143 obsolete, out of 666, or about ^. 
In three pages of his Bede I found 230 obsolete, out of 969, 
or about ^. The difference in the proportion between these 
and the Orosius proceeds from the latter containing many 
historical names. Perhaps we shall be near the truth if we 
say, as a general principle, that one-fifth of the Anglo-Saxon 
language has ceased to be used in modern English. This 
loss must be of course taken into account when we estimate 
the copiousness of our ancient language, by considering how 
much of it our English authors exhibit. 

I cannot agree with Hickes, in classing the works of Alfred 
under that division of the Saxon language which he calls 
Danish Saxon. The Danes had no footing in England till 
after the period of Alfred's manhood, and when they obtained 
a settlement, it was in East Anglia and Northumbria. We 
cannot therefore suppose that Alfred borrowed any part of 
his language from the Danes. None of their language could 
have become naturalised in Wessex before he wrote, nor have 
been adopted by him without either reason or necessity. We 
may therefore refer to the Anglo- Saxon laws before the reign 
of Athelstan, and to the works of Alfred, as containing the 
Anglo-Saxon language in its genuine and uncorrupted state. 




On the Affinities and Analogies of the Anglo-Saxon Language, 

All languages which I have examined, besides discovering chap. 
some direct ancestral consanguinity with particular tongues ; iv. 
as the Saxon with the Gothic, Swedish, Danish, &c. ; and the 
Latin with the Greek ; display also, in many of their words, 
a more distant relationship with almost all. Some word or 
other may be traced in the vocabularies of other nations; 
and every language bears strong marks, that events have 
happened to the human race, like those which Moses has 
recorded in his account of the confusion of tongues, and the 
dispersion of mankind. The fragments of an original tongue 
seem, more or less, to exist in all ; and no narrated phenomenon 
of ancient history accounts for the affinities and analogies of 
words which all languages exhibit, so satisfactorily as the 
abruption of a primitive language into many others, suflS- 
ciently different to compel separations of the general popu- 
Lition, and yet retaining in all, some indications of a common 
origin. * 

In such a confusion of mind, memory, and organs, as must 
have attended such an incident, most of the words and much 
of the structure of language would be materially altered in 
the future pronunciation, recollection, and use of the scattered 
families then existing, and consequentially in the orthography. 
But it is probable that many words would descend amid 
these variations into all the subsequent tongues : not the 
same words in every one, because various accidents would 
diversify what each retained ; but every tongue will be found 
to have several terms which exist with the same meanings, or 
display related analogies, in other distant and apparently un- 
connected nations. Some of these fragments of the primitive 
tongues, or of some primeval speech, or their derivatives, 
might with adequate labour and care and judgment be still 
collected ; but the task demands so much penetration — such 

* The letters which I sent on the affinities of languages to the Royal Society of 
Literature, and which have been printed in the first volume of its Transactions, 
contain copious illustrations on this curious sulu^ct. The examples there given of 
numerous similarities, present many, which nothing that history has recorded 
satisfactorily accounts for, except the Mo>aic nurnition of the incidents at Bat>el. 

c c 2 


CHAP, a solid discrimination — such an abstinence from all warmth 
^^' . of imagination — such a suspension of human egotism — and 
such an extensive acquaintance >vith the numerous languages 
of the world, that perhaps no single individual could be found 
capable of conducting the inquiry to a satisfactory termination. 
Such a curious collection would require many co-operators, 
and many successive efforts. 

But many persons, if they applied early to the subject, 
might gradually contribute to the accomplishment of the 
great task, by observing what affinities, or analogies, either 
directly or derivatively, some one particular language has 
with others ; not pursuing the delusive chimera of deriving 
it from any specific one, but endeavouring to trace its general 
relationship with all. I wished to have attempted this with 
the Anglo-Saxon language, but a defection of health, and 
adverse occupations, have interfered to prevent me from fully 
gratifying my own wishes. It may, however, be worth while 
to preserve a list of those analogies which I have noticed. 
They deserve our consideration, from the important infer- 
ences to which they lead. Though the affinities of some may 
be questioned, yet in most they will be found highly pro- 
bable : the whole are too numerous to have occurred by mere 
chance. Where the English is not repeated it is the same as 
that of the Saxon word. 

a, always. sen, one, 

a, lifcf New Zeal, «y, Greek, 

abiban, to remain^ to abide, unus, Lat, 

abadan, a dwelling, Pers, eenja, narrow, 

abi, an habitation, Tonga, angustus, Lat* 

ac, but* (cnjcl, angel, 

ac, Irish, avytko^, Greek. 

ace, ach, pain, aep, brass, 

«Xo^ Greek, sens, ofbrass. Lot* 

aebf, a fir-tree, 8epen, brazen, 

abies, Lat, asreus, Lat, 

aecp, afield ; an a^re, vtjyfood, 

ager, Lat, asha, a supper, Susoo, 

aypo^. eSj eat, Lat, 

ashta, eight, eacti, food, ib, 

octo, Lat, set, he eat, 

ael, oil, est, Lat, 

oleum, Lat, xx, an axe, 

seilebffire, «{*>'»?, a hatchet. 

celan, to flame, sex, an axle, 

al, light, Arab. axis, Lat, 

ilak, shining, ib. ai»v. 



apeppan, to take away. 

auferre, Lat. 
ajen, frightened, 

tig, fear, Irish, 
a^ wickedness. 

^yfighty Irish. 
ahpyppan, to turn away, 

avertere, Lat. 
ahraa, the spirit^ Goth. 

aiv, an age, Goth. 

aevum, Lat. 
af , brass, Sax. 

aes, Lat, 
allf, all, the whole, Goth. 

all, all. 

oXo;, the whole. 
alne, the arm. 

ulna, Lat. 
alpan, aloes. 

aloes, Lat. 
ambe)i, a vessel. 

amphora, Lat, 
amy, the shoulder. 


an, in, 

in, Lat, 
ancep, afi anchor. 


ancbora, Lat. 
abe, a heap. 

^^rjy, enough. 

aUrjv, abundant. 
ainf, one, Goth. 

unus, Lat. 
albop, elder. 
albian, to grow old. 

aids, age, Goth. 

aX^pu, to increase. 
alec, j^re. 

haul, the sun, Welsh. 

aXta, the heat of the sun. 
alenian, macerare. 

oKvu, to pine, 
ulh, a temple. 

a'Mo^, a sacred grove. 
amolfnian, to putrefy. 

afA^Xoq, soft, 

mollis, Lat, 

amunbian, to defend. 

afAvw, to succour. 
ana, over, above, Goth. 

avaS, a king. 
ancjel, a hook. 

oy/o/Xo^, crooked. 

ayKv'kti, a dart. 


coalition. New Zeal. 

cleaving together, ib. 
anakumbjan, to lie down. 

avoKUfAMi, to lie down. 

accumbere, Lat. 
anbanemf , pleasing, acceptable, 

avhaviv, to please. 
anje, sad, severely vexed. 

antsia, anxiety, Basque. 

ctvayKii, fate. 
anchpoe, causing horror. 

awBpmi, burning coals. 
upeof lan, to cut off. 

apj, bad, wicked. 

apyo^, idle, slothful, 
apob, ready, 

apa, I fit, 

afpanan, to allure. 

aurK(iX^fi\MA, I kiss, 
aftyppeb, starred. 

A^yip, a star. 
acrop, poison. 
accopian, to perish, to corrupt. 

arxa, to WOUnd, OF hurt. 

anxfumner, anxiety. 

anxietas, Lat, 
aplantan, to plant. 

plantare, Lat. 
ape, brass. 

sere, in brass, Lat 
ap, wealth. 

ar, tillage, Irish. 
ape, a chest. 

area, Lat. 
ajiian, to honour, to pardon. 

araiani, health, Susoo. 

aroha, loving. New ZedL 
afal, an ass. 


y u ^ 

c c 3 




' . ' 

afpa, an ass. 

asinus, Lat 

aston, Basque, 
afceacan, to shake off, 

excuterc, Lat, 
afCfieopan, to scrape, 

scribu, Russian, 
apce, ashes, 

asatj^re, Amharic, 
afe, as, 

a say, likcy Persian, 

aslia, like, ib, 
athchan, but, Goth, 

autem, Lat, 
auchep, other or either, 

alter, Lat, 
apejbsepan, to carry away, 

evehere, Lat, 

Bapm, a bay, 

bar, a friths the sea, Irish, 
bapn, a son, Goth, 
beapn, Sax, 

bar, Chaldee, 

barr, Irish, 
beo, a bee, 

neb, Amharic, 

nabowan, Gaftet, 

abeehon, Cantabria, 
beaph, a beard. 

bara, Mandingo, 

barba, Lat, 
bebfflan, to separate. 

bdl, Chald. 
bebelpan, to dig, 

bdil, tin, Chald. 
bellan, to bellow. 

bula, to make a thundering 
noise, Susoo. 
benam, he deprived. 

bana, castrated, Susoo, 
beopcan, to bark, 

bare, a dog, Susoo, 
bejian, to bear, or carry. 

hen, to bear, Susoo, 
becfie, better, 

bihter, Pers, 
bi, near. 

be, here, Susoo. 

bi, against, Goih. 

bi, Susoo. 
blec, black. 

belch a, Basq, 
blset, bleats, 

balat, Lat, 
bo^a, a bough, 

hoge, fruit, Sus, 
bulla, a round bofoL 

bola, a globcj Basq„ 
box, the box-tree, 

buxus, Lat, 
bjie^o, a king, 

rego, to govern^ Lat, 

regem, a king, ib, 
buan, to inhabit. 

bu, to stay long, Sus, 

bu, to continue, ib, 
bypel, a cupbearer, 

beri, intoxicating liquoTy Su, 
hi^\%, a stall. 

povq, a?i ox, 
bfiab, huge, vast, 

Ppatoq, heavy, 
bjiffiban, to roast, 

Ppal^ity, to boil. 
bpacchme, a 7imse. 

ppax^ty, to make a noise, 
bjiajj^en, the brain. 

burmuna, Basq. 
bpaec, he broke. 
bpic, a fragmefit. 
bp(»co|', broken, 

ppaxtj^y short, 
bpemman, fremere, 

PpsfAEiv, to threaten, 
bpoc, a brook, 

Ppexa^i I water, 
bpucan, to eat. 

Ppvx^iv, to bite, or swaUaw. 

ppocKitv, to eat, 
bapth, a skiff. 

pap);, a boat, 
beal, destruction, 
bil, a bill, or weapon, 

PiXdi;, a dart, 
bipian, to bury, 

obi rat u, Basq, 
bup5, a town, 

burqua, Basq. 



Caeje, a hey, 

quaw, ih, Loochoo, 

)^e(u, to take, 

«-;^&>, to hold. 
cselan, to he cold. 

gelu, frost, Lat 
csennan, to know, 

ytvoa-KUy I know, 
caennL'b, horn. 

ytyo(Aai, I am hom. 
caenpyn, a race, 

cap, quick, sharp, 

Kocfupfj, a fox, 
calb, cold. 

gelidus, Lat 

yeXv, frost, 
calic, a cup. 

calix, Lat, 
calb, called. 

akilli, Mandingo. 

/caXco), / calL 

KaWuy ih. 

calanga, to roar out, Tonga. 

kal, a voice, Tchut, Agow. 

to call, English, 
calo, bald. 

calvus, iMt. 
camp, afield of battle, a camp. 

campus, afield, Lat. 

camp, a feat, a circle, Welsh. 
cancejie, a crab, a disease, 

cancer, Lat. 
can be I, a candle, 

candela, Lat 
caiina, a can, a bowl. 

canistrum, iMt, 
canceciinj, horse-laugh. 

cachinnus, Lat 

KOLy^a^a, the verb, 
cafi, care. 

cura, Lat. 

kir, passion, Armenian, 

cardd, shame, disgrace^ Wei. 

cur, anxiety, ib, 

KTip, calamity. 

kharchar, anguish, Pers. 

khar, a thorn, ib, 

care, care, Welsh, 

c c 

capian, to be anxious* 
yvjpvuv, to complain, 

capp, a rocky a stone. 
careg, a stone, Welsh, 

cac, a cat 


cattus, Lat 

oath, Welsh. 

choaa, Hot 

catua, Basq. 
caul, colewort. 

cauli?, I^at. 
capl, a basket 

cawell, Welsh. 

cau, to enclose, ib, 
ceap, chaff, 


cealc, chalk, a stone. 

calx, a stone, Lat. 
ceap, cattle, 

yyivovua, agriculture. 

yrivloy, a farm, 
ceappan, to kill, to carve, 

Kap^puv, to break in pieces. 

Keip€)», to cut. 

ceapc, a strife, contention. 

cas, Welsh. 
ceapcep, a city, a castle. 

kostra, a castle, Chaldee. 

castrum, iMt, 
cejan, to call. 

KavxofAai, I boast. 

cen, bold, hostile. 

keno, bad. New Zeal. 
cennaii, to beget. 


cenedlu, Welsh. 
ceo, a croio. 


ceol, a ship. 

KtXy}^, swift. 
cepan, to covet, to entrap. 

captare, T^at 
cepnan, to churn. 

corddi, Welsh. 
cefipe, a bend, a turning. 

coredd, a winding, Welsh. 

corddi, to turn about, ib, 

cor, a round, ib. 





cefe, cheese, 

caseus, Lat 
cepan, to keep, or hold, 

capsa, a chest, Lat 
cicen, the young^ a chick, 

cy w, the youngy Welsh, 
cib^ contention, strife, 

cad, a battle, IVelsh, 
cimbal, a cymbcd, 

cymbalum, LmU 
cinb, a race, 

cenau, an offspring, Welsh. 

cenedl, a tribe, ib, 

kin, a wife, Armen, 
cinn, a kind, or race, 

genus, Lat, 
cipcol, a circle, 

circulus, Lat, 
cipclic, circular, 

circularis, LaL 
cifc, benignity, bounty, 

cbsd, Heb, 
cifce, a chest, 

cista, Lat, 
cifcen beam, a chestnut-tree, 

castanea, Lat. 
cite, a city, 

civitas, Lat, 
clujfa, a prison, 

clausus, shut up, Lat. 

kXhw, I shut up, 
cleop, a globe. 

globus, Lat, 
climan, to climb, 

kXi/am^, a ladder, 
cloccan, to clock. 

glocire, Lat. 
cleoffian, to call, 

K\oL)^tty, to make a noise, 
clop, a clew, 

glomus, LaL 

K\vOta, I spin. 
cliff, a hill, 

collis, Lat 
clufihc,/!/// of cliffs, 

clivosus, LMt, 
cnaep, a button, 

enap, a knob, Welsh, 

cneap, a ship, 
nav, Armenian. 
navis, Lat, 


cneop, the knee. 

genu, Lat, 

Kvi^lAyi, the leg. 
cnip, a knife, 

Kvaw, to cut. 

cnif, pain, Welsh. 
cnocian, to beat, to knock. 

cnociaw, Welsh. 
cnoban, to bestow, 

enod, a crop, Welsh, 

enidiaw, to yield an in- 
crease, ib, 
cnoll, a knoll, a top. 

cnoll, Welsh. 
cnucl, a joint, a knuckle. 

enuc, a joint, Welsh. 
cn^llan, to knelL 

cnull, a passing bell, Welsh. 
cnocta, a knot, 

necto, to tie, Lat, 

nodus, a knot, ib, 
cnyccan, to tie. 

nectere, Lat. 
coc, a cook, 

coquus, Lat, 
cobb, a wallet, 

cod, a budget, or bag, Welsh, 
cop, a cave, a cove, 

oof, a hollow trunk, Welsh, 

cavea, a cave, Lai, 
colla, a helmet, 

galea, Lat, 
copp^ an apex, a top. 

cop, the top, Welsh. 
copn, com, 

kieTyfood, Armen. 
copntpeop, a comel'tree. 

cornus, LaL 
cof, a kiss, 

cus, Welsh, 
copcliep, a multitude, 

cordd, Welsh. 
copf^ execration. 



opfian, to curse, 

clirm, he cursed, Heb, 

chrf, he upbraidedy ib, 
cofp, a fetter, 

cosp, Welsh, 

cospi, to chastise, ib. 
coc, a house, a cottage* 

cut, a hovel, Welsh, 
cocc, a chamber, 

Konn}, a bed-room. 
cpaceccan, to croak. 

crocitai*e, Lat, 

crocio, ib, 

Grecian, to scream, Welsh. 
cpabel, a cradle, 

crjd, Welsh. 
cpaejxa, a crest, 

crista, Lat, 
cpaec, a cart. 

carrum, Lat, 
epap, a crow. 

cor V us, Lat. 
cpeopan, to creep. 

repere, Lat, 
cjioh, saffron. 

crocus, Lat, 
cjiuce, a gibbet, or cross, 

crux, Lat. 
cruel, Engl. 

cruela, Basq. 
cpupc, a vault, a grot, 

crypta, Basq, 
cu, a cow, 

t'kau, a buffalo, Hottentot, 

t'gooe, a cow, ib. 

curcummi, Ethiop. 

chhui, a ram, Armen, 

kema, a cow, Falash, 

ghwa, Pushtoo, 
cucian, to be alive, 

kea, kja, he lived, Armen. 

chich, Heb. 

chich, life, ib. 
culpep, a dove. 

columba, Lat, 
cula, a cowl, 

cucullus, Lat. 
culcop, a ploughshare, 

culter, Lat, 

cunnan. to know, CHAP. 

ceniaw, to perceive, Welsh, IV. 

con, astute, Heb, ^ * 

gen, the intellect, Welsh, 
cupf, a curse. 

kier, passion, Armen. 
cufc, chaste. 

kuis, a virgin, Armen. 
cuch, known, 

get, knowing, Armen, 
cpeben, said. 
cpib, a saying. 

cwed, Welsh, 
cpsethan, to say, 

cwedla, to talk, Welsh, 
cpacan, to shake. 

quatere, Lat, 

9wyvan, to waver, Welsh, 

9waen, a sudden motion, ib. 
cpellan, to kill, 
cpelan, to die. 
cpealei), slaughter, 

KoXovilv, to cut off, 

cpeman, to please, to flatter, 

kam, desire, Pers. 

9wara, to play, Welsh, 

9weg, pleasant, ib, 

khrm, pleasing, Pers, 
cpen, wife, queen. 

kin^ wife, Heb, 
epic, alive, quickened, 

^vryth, life, Welsh, 

9weiaw, to quicken, ib. 
cpiman, to come, 

9 win, motion, Welsh, 
cpibol, evil'mouthed, 

cwidw, a sorcerer, Welsh, 
cpyj-an, to shake, 

quassare, Lat, 
cpychan, to lament, 

cwithaw, to be in a dilemma, 
cjcene, a kitchen. 

eoquina, Lat. 
cy^ean, to call, 

vocare, to call; vox, voice, ib, 
cylene, a kitchen. 

culina, Lat, 




cyn, the chin, 

gen, Welsh, 
cyn, an offspring, 

koo, a son, Hott, 

yfKoi, an offspring, 

genus, Lat, 
cyne, royal, 
cynej, king, 

kuin. Chin, 

cyn, a chief, Welsh* 

khan, Pers, 
cynn, a tribe, 

genus, a race, Lat. 
cynpen, a nation, 

gens, Lat. 
c^pa, a basket, 

cophinus, Lat, 
cyj)eleac, a monument, a grave- 


cippus, Lat, 
c^pbe, he turned, 

9wired, a sudden turn, 
cyppan, to return, 

cor, a circle, a round, Welsh, 

corawl, a turning round, ib, 
cypf-cpecp, a cherrg-tree. 

cerasus, Lat, 

Da, a doe, 

dama, Lat, 
bfleb, a deed, 

dad, ang thing, Egypt, 

dad, an act, Pers, 
bse^ a day, 

dies, Lat, 

diah, Gaelic, 

div, Armen, 

diaw, Welsh, 

diena, Lithuan, 
bael, a part, 

daily a share, Gaelic. 
bal, division. 

dal, a share, Gaelic, 
hale, a button, 

dal, to catch hold, Welsh, 
beab, dead. 

daudr, Gaelic. 

daf, Arab. 

bea^, colour. 

dakal, a dye, Arab, 
beah, a tincture, 

dean, colour, Gaelic. 
bejle, hidden, secret, 

daghl,ya&€, Arab, 

dagmar, a hidden thing, ib. 

dgi, dark, ib. 
bem, slaughter, 

dema, blood, Arab. 

din, slaughter, Heb, 
bema, a judge, 

din, ^e6. 

don, hejudgedj ib. 
bemn, a /io5;. 

damnum, Za^. 

damikal, a misfortuney Pers. 

damar, ruin^ Arab, 
benejan, to beat, to ding, 

ding, Sus, 
beopl, devil, 

diabolus, Lat, 
beop, deer, wild beasts, 

beopc, dark. 

dorcha, Gaelic. 

darka, a cloud, Pers, 

dghe, dark, Arab. 
biljian, to destroy. 

dileu, Welsh, 

delere, Ijat. 
bim, dim, obscure. 

dihms, dark, Pers. 

dins, dim, obscure^ Arab, 
boema, a judge, 

doms, Syriac, 
bochcep, a daughter. 

dokht, Pers, 

dokhter, ib. 

douktie, Lith, 
bofia, a door, 

doras, Gaelic, 
bpabbe, dirt, 

drab, a spot, Gaelic, 
bpajan, to drag, to draw. 

trahere, to drag^ Lai. 

draghan, to puU, Gaelic. 
.bpeam, melody, an organ, 

dran, a tune, Gaelic. 



bpecan, to torment. 

drag, angevy GaeL 

drice, angry, ib, 
bpepan, to disturb. 

drip, afflictioHy Gaelic* 
bpopian, to drop. 

dreogan, Gaelic* 
bpy, a magician. 

draoi, Gaelic. 
bujech, nobility, 

dux, a leader J Lat. 

duquea, Basg. 
bun, a hill, or downs. 

dun, 2L fortified hill, GaeL 
bunn, a dun colour. 

donn, Gaelic. 
abune, down. 

doom a, Mandingo. 
bup, a door. 

dar, Pers. 

da, Mandingo. 

dor us, GaeL 
bup:, dust. 

dus, Gaelic. 
by nan, to dine, to feed. 

dong, to eat, Susoo. 
b}nc, a blow. 

ding, to 6ea/^ Susoo. 
byban, to die. 

due, Gallas. 

Ga, water, river. 

ie, Susoo. 

awa, Mtf rirer, iVw Z^o/. 
eacan, /o a</(/. 

akeejee, Mandingo. 
eapop, a boar. 

a per, Lat. 
ea2>e, crw eye. 

oculus, LaL 

ako, ZtM. 
ealica, eight. 

octo, Za^, 
eahcafichon, Me eighth time. 

octies, Lat. 
eal, an awL 

sub-ula, Lat. 
eanian, to yean. 

eDitor, Lat. 

eap, an ear of com. 

arista, Lat. 
eape, the ear. 

auris, Lat. 
eax, an curie. 

axis, Lat. 
ecan, to increase, 

augere, L^t. 
eceb, vinegar. 

acetum, Za^ 
ec^ an edge. 

acies, Za/. 

aka, sharp, Loochoo. 
epfc, Aoj^e. 

festinatio, Lat. 
eppran, to hasten. 

festinare, Lat. 
ejle, a dormouse. 

glis, Za^. 
ejop, /Ae waves of the sea. 

eqaor, Lat. 
ele, oil. 

olioa, Bcuq. 

oleum, Lat. 
elehcpe, amber. 

electrum, Lat. 
ellep , otherwise. 

aliter, Lat. 

alias, another time, ib. 
ellop, elsewhere. 

alio, Za/. 

alias, t^. 
ellm, an elm. 

ulmus, Lat. 
elpenb, an elephant. 

elepbantus, Lat. 
eneb, a duch. 

anas, Lat. 
enje, sorrow. 

angustia, LaL 
eopob, a body of men. 

cohors, Lat. 
eoppa, anger, 

ira, Lat. 
eopfian, to be angry, 

irasci, Lat, 
eop, alas. 

heu, Lat, 

V8B, t^. 


< u * 


cnAP, eofol, an ass. 

paipp, a verse. 

rv. asinus, Lot, 

versus, Lat. 

' eopa, an ewe. 

paec, afoot. 

ovis, Lai. 

fisha,/^^^ Loochoo^ 

epc, a chest. 

paepchpabe, strong. 

area, Lat. 

fortis, Lat. 

epian, to plough^ Lat. 

psepten, afastnesSy a ciiadeL 

tpa, the earth. 

fastigium, a sumtnit, Lai. 

arare, to plough. 

paj, a colour, many-coloured. 

ecan, to eat. 

fucus, a painty Lat. 

edere, Lat. 

pajen, glad. 

etchemi, Ga/at. 

pajnian, to rejoice. 

fang, to love, Susoo. 

Facan^ to make, to acquire. 

pah, a foe. 

facere, to do^ Lat. 

ipavt to kill. 

fucan, Tonga. 

pah, discoloured. 

jracen, deceit. 

ipaioi, dusky. 

fuco, to counterfeit^ Lat. 

jalepe, fallow colour. 

facinus, wichedness^ ib. 

flay us, yellow, Lat. 

fseccean, to fetch. 

fulvus, tawny, ib. 

facesso, to procure, Lat. 

pana, cloth, Goth. 

fsecele, a little torch. 

pannus, Lai. 

fsecula, Lat* 

pann, a fan. 

faejeii, glad. 

Tannus, Lat. 


papan, to go. 

pacjep, beautifuly fair. 

fa, to come, to go to, Sus. 

^aiKQ^y splendid. 

psec, a vessel, a cup. 

ipse}e, faithful. 

pac, a vessel. 

fidelis, Lat. 

fete, a small basket, Sus, 

paellan, to offend. 

pacha, an enclosure, Goth. 

fallax, deceitful, Lat. 

iparvii, a stall. 

fallere, to deceive, ib. 



^avXo^, vile. 

pam, ybam. 

pea, money. 

pseman, to foam. 

peo, money. 

fumare, to smohe, Lat. 

fe, affairs, a concern^ Sus. 

paemna, a girl. 

feo, to givcj ib. 

femina, a womati, Lat. 

peallan, to fall. 

psep, sudden. 

^aXKiiv, to slip. 

fors, chance, Lat. 

fallere, Lat. 

ptrpan^ to terrify. 

pepep, a fever. 

fera, a wild beast, Lat. 

pebpian, to be feverish. 

ferus, wildy ib. 

iehiis, fever, Lat. 

ferire, to strike, ib. 

pecelx, a torch. 

iiiVOTi, fierce, ib. 

fax, Lat, 

pseplice, by chance. 

pebep, a wing. 

forte, Lat. 

^ai^po^, swift. 

psepm, supper. 

pell, a skin. 

far, com, Lat. 

pellis, Lat. 



ell, choler, anger, cruel, 

fel, bile, Lat, 
eoji, far off, 

feras, out of doors, Lai, 
epa, the borders, Got/i, 

epan, to bear, or carry, 
ferre, Lat, 

e\\OT\, fierce, 

ferus, Lat, 
ephc, fear. 

ferit, to fear, Amhar, 

feri, to fear, Gafat* 
ic, a fig, 

ficus, a^^, ZaI. 
inie, corrupted, 

finio, I end, Lat, 

finis, ^7t£^, death, ib, 

(pivta, I kill. 

mn, a^«. 

pinna, Lat. 
\no\y fennel. 

fasniculum, Lat. 
ipap, men. 

viros, Za/. 

ira, a man, Falash, 

piscis, Lat. 
ifcian, to fish, 

piscari, Lat. 
ichele, a fiddle, 

fidicula, Lat, 
lean, to flay, to unskin. 

leocan, to float. 

fluctuare, Lat, 
leopan, to flow. 

fluere, Lat. 
lepra, a flowing. 

fiuxus, Lat. 
locc, a flock of sheep. 

floccus, a lock of wool, Lat, 
lob, a flood. 

<p\v^au, I moisten, 
loh, a flaw. 

(pXau, I break. 
loca, a fleet. 

flota, Basq. 

pliccepain, to flutter. 

fiuctus, a wave, Lat, 

fluctuare, to fluctuate, ib, 
flum, a river. 

flu men, Lat. 
plyf, a fleece, 

^Aoto^, the bark, 
pon, to take. 

funis, a rope, Lat. 
\oi\, fire, Goth, 

(paivuv, to shine, 

^avof, a torch. 
pope, a fork, 

furca, Lat. 
ppaceb, vile, filthy, 

fraceo, to putrefy, Lat. 

fracidus, rotten, ib. 
ppsecen, dangerous, 

fragilis, brittle, Lat. 
Fpsene, a bridle, 

frsBnum, Lat, 
ppicca, a cryer, 

praeco, Lat. 
ppinan, to consult, to inquire, 

^pvjv, the mind, 
ppum, beginning. 

form are, to frame, Lat, 
ppypan, to freeze. 

frigus, cold, Lat, 
pujel, a bird. 

fuee, fowls, Loochoo, 

fugio, I fly, Lat. 

^av\o^, vile. 
pyllan, to fill, 

(pXtuv, to be full. 
pulfcan, to support, 

fulcire, Lat, 
pylnerre, soo(. 

fuligo, Lat. 

f u, ^fire. 

i'uri, heat, Susoo, 

{^^,Jire, lA>uchoo, 

afi, New Caled. 

or, Pushtoo. 

furor, fury, Lat. 






hat, hot. 


furaus, an averty Lai* 
YYfan, to hasten. 

atteisa, Loochoo. 
hsejle, hail. 

festinare, Lat, 

guly, Pushtoo. 

pel], the skin. 

heal, a haH, or court. 

f (XXo(, the bark. 


penman, to seize. 

aula, iMt, 

ffyciv, to plunder. 

haelm, a stalk, 
culmus, ZjOt. 

Irsec, a cuckow. 

heechen, a pagan. 

cuculus, Lat, 

ethnicus, Lat, 

jamol, a camel. 

haja, a farm. 

camel us, Lat, 

agellus, LaL 

jac, a gate. 

helan, to hide. 

gata, to keepy to preserve. 

eel are, Lat. 


hemecho, marriage. 

jea, t/es, truly. 


yt, certainly. 

hymen, LaL 

jeoc, a yoke. 

henep, hemp. 

jugum, Lat. 

cannabis, Lat. 

yugli, Pers, 

heno, lo I 

jeolape, a flesh^olour. 

en, Lat. 

gilvud, ijat. 

henon, hence. 

jijanc, a giant. 

hinc, Lat. 

gigantem, Lat, 

Iiifpan, to hiss. 

jof, a goose. 

seesee, Loochoo, 

gah, Chippeway. 

hour, a nuL 

kgou, Hott, 

nux, Lat. 

gas, Zap/. 

hnaeppian, to sleep. 

zansis, Lith, 

ncpan, Knisten. 

Jim, a ^em. 

hoi, a hole. 

gemma, Lat, 

cliuloa, Basq, 

job, M« supreme. 

hopn, a horn. 

khoda, Pers, 

cornu, LaL 

jpab, a degree. 

hpeh, an inundation. 

gradus, Lat. 

piVf to flow. 

jpeep, a ^rare. 

hpeman, to cry ouL 

graphum, Lat 

pt\[iMy a word. 

jpennian, to grunt. 

^tUi to speak. 

grunnire, Za/. 

hpin, touch. 

jpapan, to engrave. 

pivof, the skin. 


hpupan, to rush. 

ypa^uVf to write. 

ruere, Lat. 

jpaej, hoary, grey. 

hpylc, of what sort. 

ypata, an old woman. 

qualis, Lat. 

juibe, English, 

hpeppian, to he turned. 

guidaria, a leader, Basq. 

versari, T^it. 
hponne, when. 

pabban, to have. 

quando, Lat, 

habere, Lat, 


Ic, /. 

leon, a lion. 

ego, Lat, 

leo, Lat. 



ibef, a woman. 

liccian, to lick. 

£«So^, beauty. 

lakiel, Chald, 

lejipe, anger. 

lakiel, Syr, 

ipjie, anger. 

lakiel, Arm. 

liira, Basq, 

has, Jlames, 

ira, Z^Y. 

lya, Falash. 

il, Me *Mn, Goth. 

\y&,Jire, Teh, Agow. 



imne, a hymn. 

lage,^re, Agaw. 

hymnus, Lat, 

leoma, light 

in, in. 

\sjnh\Xy Jlamcy Pushtoo. 

in, Lat, 

linen, linen. 

lop, yow. 

lineus, Zjat. 

ya, Loochoo. 

lip, a lip. 

101 c, a joke. 

labium, Lat, 

jocus, Za^. 

lixan, to shine. 

If, he, Goth, 

lux, light, Lai. 

is, ZrO/ 

lof, praise. 

If, he is. 

luaidh, Gael. 

is, ZTe^. 

laus, Za/. 

ifc, he isy Goth. 

est, Zar. 

To match, English. 


matchat, to marry, Amhar. 

ic, fV. 

matchotch, Gafat. 

id, Za^ 

mas^ep, thin, meagre. 

macer, Lat. 

Lac, a lake. 

raael, a part. 

lacus, Zflf/. 

ml, to cut off, to divide, Heb. 

la JO, water y the sea. 

maelan, to say. 

lagea, a river^ Gallas. 

l^Koq, a song. 

lacfel, a let- el. 

msenan, to mean. 

libella, f^t. 

manian, to exhort. 

Isej^e, a law. 

mens, the mind, LaL 

legem, Lat, 


lacniiy long. 

mna, to reckon, Chald. 

long us, Lai. 

manawa, animal spirits. New 

lam, loam. 


limus, Lat. 

maenfumunj^e, a dwelling. 

lauepce, a lark. 

mansio, Lat. 

alauda, Lat, 

mebep, a meadow. 

lea J, a place. 

medse, a plain, An^aric. 


maepa, borders. 

locus, Lat, 

merae, Lat. 

leohc, light. 

maja, the stomach. 

lux, Lat. 

fAayupo^, a cook. 

Wjjire, Chin. 

mapm, marble. 

leaw, Hott. 

inarmor, Lat, 




rnxjen, power, 

magnua, great, Lat, 
' mngn, more, New CtiUd. 

jutyav, grinl. 
imcel, much. 

micbetl, Knisteti. 
mealpe mallow. 

malvB, Lat. 
mece, /i sword. 

machiera, l-at. 

inucro, a point, ib. 

l*axofta,, lojight. 
tnebume, great, dignified, 

Ijnta, to command. 

mano, Van. Diem. 
me Of, moss. 

tnuscus, Lat. 
mejifc, a marth. 

mariscus. Lat. 
mathelaii, to speak. 
mechel, a discourse. 

mecep, metre. 
nwtrtim, Lat. 

matu, /tesh, Ifew Zealand. 
inih, middle. 

mc<Uiis, Lat. 

miliare, Lot. 
ID lib, mild. 

mliiii. to be soothing, Heb. 
mulcco, I soothe, Lat. 

mi itC sweet. 
I Lni. 


moln, a milt Hone, Lai. 

mul.iii, to pulveriie. Chili. 
minfian, to make ttnall, 

minuere, Lat. 

Itmiaf, email. 

intia, to distribute, Heb. 
niiiite, mint. 

mciilhn, Lnt. 

mobep, mother. 

mater, Lat. 
iaat, Pushtoo. 
motina, Lith. 
mu. Chinese. 
moubulift, ^ew CaUd. 

mona, the moon. 

J, Lithua. 
manoc. New Caled. 
monach, a month, 

mCDsiH. Lat. 
mopch, death. 

mors, Lat. 

mot, Ileb. 

maoot, Malay. 

moot, llindaostan. 

murk, ib. 

malu. New Zeal. 

mats, Van. Diem, 

mota, to die, Amhar. 
mun, a hand. 

manufl, Lat. 

^idiX, council. 

mul, a mule. 

munr, II mount. 

mcndio, Basq. 
mupcnian, to murmur. 

murmurare, Lai. 
mur. a mouse. 

mus, Lat. 
murcel, a mutcle-fish. 

musculus, Lat. 
mii]-r, new wine. 

tnustuni, Lat. 
m^len, a mill. 

molondinim:, Xni. 
mud), month. 

mougui. Van Diem. 

mouangiiia, New Caled. 
mytcian, to milk. 

mulgere, Lat. 

mynejian, to admonish. 


nepa, a nephew. 


monere, Lat 

nepo8, Lat. 
nepene, a niece. 


mjrnec, money. 


moneta, Lat 

neptis, Lai. 
nellan, to be unwiUing. 

NaBgel, nail. 

nolle, Lat. 

nook, Pushtoo. 

senoce, nothing. 

neop, 7ieio. 

nude, notf Van Diem. 


novus, Lat, 

OpefC, haste. 

neopian, to make new. 

fcstinatio, Lat. 


opppian, to offer y to sacrifice. 

novo, Z^t. 

ofierre, Lai. 

innovo, t^. 

open, open. 

no, not. 

apertus, Lat. 

non, Lat. 

ope man, to open. 

nun a, Knisten. 

apcrio, I open, Lai. 

ny, Insu. 

op, beginning. 

nu, Pushtoo. 

origo, Lat. 

nu, now. 

oj»c, ajar. 

nunc, Lat. 

orca, Lat. 

nye, a nest. 

oxa, an ox. 

nidus, Lat. 

okous, a bully Curds. 

nacob, naked* 

vaKo<;^ a skin with itsjleece. 

Pal, a stake. 

naecan, to kill. 

palus, Lat. 

necare, Lat. 

pan, cloth. 

nae^an, to nod. 

pan n us, LaL 


panna, a pan. 

nuo, Lat. 

patina, Lat. 

niche, night. 

papij, the poppy. 
papaver, Lat. 

nocteni, Lat* 


papa, a peacock. 

naktis, Lith. 

pavo, Lat. 

naiiia, name. 

pic, pitch. 

neinn, ib. 

pix, Lai. 

nomcn, Lat. 


no^pe, a turnip. 

pil, a pile. 

napus, Lat. 

pi la, Lat. 

nacj'e, a nose. 

pilan, to drive with a pile. 

nnsus, Lat. 

voXXo;, to shake. 

nozis, Lith. 

pile, a pillow. 

noBffe, a promontory. 

pulvinar, Lai. 

yyia-o^t an island. 

pin, pain. 

naman, to name. 

psena, Lai. 

nominare, Lat. 


na, name, Loochoo. 

pman, to torture. 

nan, no one. 

vciva, hunger. 

nemo, Lat. 

xoyctf, to cause pain. 

nathaip, neither. 

voyo^, pain. 

neuter, Lat. 


^^ D 


CHAP pifa, pease. 

pejel, a rule. 

IV. pisa, Lat, 

regula, Lai. 

^^~' picc, a pity a well. 

pehc, right. 

puteu8, a welly Lai, 

rectus, ib. 

plajca, a street 

pice, a region. 

plntsea, Lat, 

regio, U). 

plant, €1 plant. 

picfian, to rule. 

planta, Lat, 

pixian, to rule 

pljTcce, a slap. 

rexi, I have ruled^ ib. 

pieman, to strike. 

]uhTce, justly. 


rite, ib. 

plannan, to plant. 

pube, rue. 

plant are, Lat. 

ruta, ib. 

plaf ceji, a plaster. 

eniplastrum, Lat, 

8aban, li?ien. 

plume, a plum. 

sabi, a shirt, Pers, 

prunum, Lat. 

sabibat, a vest. Arm. 

ponb, a pound. 

fac, contentioti, quarrel. 

pondo, Lat, 

sakhinat, rage, Arab, 

pope, a port. 

sukht, indignation, ib. 

port us, Lat. 

saklit, violent, Pers. 

pup, pure. 

skr, a falsehood, Heb. 

purus, Lat. 

race, a sack. 

pynjan, to prick. 

saccus, Lat. 

pungere, Lat. 


pypijean, a pear tree. 

8ok, Coptic, 

peroqui, a tree. Van Diem. 

sk, Heb, 

sakil, weighty, Arab, 

Race, historf/. 

rabian, to be full. 

ra, to do, Coptic. 

sat, sufficient, Lai, 

jiacb, a discourse. 

fce, sea. 

psa>, I speak. 

ooshu, Loochoo. 

prifxat, a word. 

faeb, seed. 

pa»b, quick, ready. 

sid, Copt. 

^atio^i easy. 

sat, to sow, ib. 

p8e2;n, rain. 

f aejen, a saying. 

paiyuy to pour. 

jae^an, to say. 

penc, glory, pride. 

sakliun, a saying, Pers. 

penc, proud. 

sag, to roar, Heb, 

ran, a name, Copt. 

saji, to speak, Copt. 

peapian, to rob. 

faejebnyrre, a sacrifice. 

peapejie, a spoiler. 

sgd, he adored, Heb. 


faejen, a sword. 

reftahe, Copt. 

a-ayapi^, m Persian stvord. 

refskiou, ib. 

fael, time. 

jieccepe, a ruler. 

salah, age, years, Pers, 

rect(»r, Lat, 

sal, a year, ib. 

pejt^n, a ruler. 

fael, well. 

regnum, a kingdom, Lat. 

saliui, safe, ib. 

rcgnare, to reign, ib. 

sal us, safety t Lat, 



faekh, prosperity. 

(rtka<;y splendour, 

siloh, to resty Ileh. 
j-al, a hally a palace. 

salar, a prince^ Pers. 
fa] a, a bond, 

saleby seizing, Arab. 
falh, a willow, 

salah, a wicker- basket, Pers, 
fair, salt. 

sal, Lat. 

salt, sharp, Arab. 

(TaXoi;^ the sea-coast. 
fame, the same. 

similis, like, Lat. 

sinod, likeness, Copt. 
fammocle, concordant. 

saml, reconciliation, Arab. 
famu, together. 
faiiiob, together. 

simul, Lat. 

simal, assistant, Arab. 
fanb, sand. 

sinna, Loocfioo. 
faenj, song. 

sensen, a sound, Copt, 

sensen, to sound, ib. 
fape, soap. 

sabun, Arab. 

sapo, Lat. 
fap, sore, sorry. 

sa, infirmity, Arab. 

sarisk, a tear^ Pers. 

sarsan, y<?rtr, ib. 
fauh, a sacrifice, Goth. 

sajjat, an idol, Arab. 

SMJjad, adoring, ib, 
fCcup, a ploughshare. 

skai, to plough, Copt. 
fcamian, to be ashamed. 

shaamat, adversity, Pers. 
fcaiic, the leg. 

iskana, Arab. 
fcacepe, a thief. 

sliaki, criminal, ib. 
fcealii, scales. 

scalar, Lat. 
fceam, shame. 

asbam, a crime, Pers. 
fceajib, a fragment. 

askardan, to bruise^ Pers. 

fceat, a part. 

shat, dispersed, distinct, Arab, 

sbatey, a share, ib. 
fcene, shining. 

askar, polishing, ib. 
fcep, a sheep, 

siia, ib. 

sbat, ib. 
fculbep, the shoulder, 

scapula, Lat. 
fcupf, scurf. 

iskuran, dross, Arab, 
fcylb, a crime. 

a-KvXoy^ plunder, 
fcj'pt, short. 

curtus, Lat, 
fcypcan, to shorten, 

curtarc, ib, 
fepa, the intellect. 

sufi, wise, Arab. 

sabe, Copt. 

sabo, to learn, ib. 
feyt, quiet. 

safa, content, Pers. 
fejlian, to saiL 

&&y\, flowing, Arab. 

<ra\o^, the sea. 
fe^nian, to sign, 

sign art*, Lat. 
fejne, a drag-net. 

sagena, ib. 
fejen, a sign. 

signum, ib. 
f el, good. 

salih, Arab. 

sahib, ib. 

salab, virtue, ib. 

<riXa<:, brightness. 

selsol, to adorn, Copt, 
fel, time, opportunity. 

scoi, time, ib. 
fema, a judge, 

si m met, a?i old man, Arab. 
f email, to adjust a dispute, 

samn, adjusting, ib, 

semne, to dispose, Copt. 
fenile, always. 

semper, Lat. 
fjrnb, they are. 

sunt, ib. 

D D 2 





enban, to send. 

sen, to pass ovevy Copt. 
eoc, sick, 

sakira, Arab, 

sakam, sickness, ib. 
eopen, seven. 

septem, Lat, 
eon, to see. 

sima, the/ace, Pers. 
eon, to Jlow. 

tf-ciw, to agitate. 
etan, to plant. 

set, to sow, Copt. 
etan, to set. 

set, the tail, ib. 
ethel, a seat. 

sedes, LaL 
ex, six. 

sex, ib. 

exca, the sixth part. 

sextus, Lat. 
I, be thou. 

sis, ib, 
lb, peace, 

sabatt rest, Heb. 
lb, a kinsman, 

sabab, affinity^ Pers. 
ibun, seven. 

sabia, Arab. 

sba, /^e6. 
ij:e, a sieve. 
ifcan, to «/?. 

safsafat, sifting, Pers. 

saftan, to bore, ib. 

suflidan, to per/orate, ib, 
ijel, a neck ornament, a button. 

(Tiy'kai, ear'rings. 
ilpep, silver. 

cillan, Basq. 
in, sin, 

sintajel, evil, Arab, 

sintayel, obscene, ib, 

snaah, hatred, Heb. 
mei^f, an old man, Goth, 

senex, Lat. 
itan, to sit. 

sitan, reclining, Pers. 
ictath, he sits. 

sedel, Lat. 

flibe, a fall. 

slat, Copt. 
flim, slime. 

limus, Lat. 
f mean, to inquire, 

sme, voice, Copt, 
f meoc, smoke. 

<rfA.vxa>y to consufne. 

(Tf^vyja, to inflame. 
j-mijuan, to smear. 

cfxiau, to wipe. 
fon, sound. 

sonus, Lat. 
jxeop, history. 

ustarah, a story, Arab. 
ftan, a stone, a rock. 

setoni, to stone, Copt. 

astnn, a column, Pers. 
fcanban, to stand. 

istandan, ib. 
fteb, a place or station. 

istandan, to stop, or dwell, id. 
fteofi, a steer. 

astar, a mule, ib. 
p:eoppa, a star. 
fcepp, a star. 

istarah, Pers. 

astar, ib, 

sitareh, ib. 

izarra, Basq, 

storee, Pushtoo. 
fcpsece, a bed. 

stratum, Lat 
p:peapian, to strew. 

stemere, ib, 
fCpeop, straw, 

stramentum, ib. 
p:yle, steel. 

stali, Copt. 
f uccan, to suck. 

sugere, Lat. 
f ii^u, a sow. 

sus, Lat. 
ful, a plough. 

suli, Pers, 

sulcus, a furrow, Lat. 
pim, some. 

suman, a little, ib. 
j'unu, a son. 

sunus, Lithuan. 



fup, sour. 

seesa, Loochoo, 
fucepe, a cobbler, 

sutor, Lat, 
f pa, so. 

se, nlsoy Cope. 
rpijx, swift. 

Bufuce, Arab. 

sufya, ib. 
fpi^a, silence. 

sukut, ib. 
fyn, «>i. 

Ta, the toe. 

teb, a finger^ Copt. 
cale, opprobrium^ calumny, 

tale, erring^ Arab. 

talan, plunder, Pers. 
tela, t£?e/i. 

talske, healthy Copt, 
call an, to tell, to count. 

tale, to add, ib. 
cym, a ^oAc o/ oxen. 

torn, to join, ib. 
cenban, to takejire. 

tan,y?rc, Welsh. 

temmo, to 6um, Copf. 
teoche, a leader. 

duce, Za^ 
thanne, then. 

tunc, t6. 
thee, a covering, 

tectum, ib. 
thecan, to cover. 

tegere, ib. 
thinnian, to thin. 

tenuare^ ib. 
thin, thin. 

tenuis, ib. 
thpe, three. 

tres, ib. 
thjiejian, to torture. 

torquere, ib. 
tlijiym, a crowd. 

turma, ib. 
thu, thou. 

tu, Lat. 
thunian, to thunder. 
thunepiaii, to thunder. 

tonare, Lat. 

cima, AW. 

tempus, ib. 
tiny, ^n^/. «;na//L 

tina, little, GalUu. 
tithian, to grant. 

tei, to ^'ve, (7(t>p^ 
to, to. 

ta. Per*, 
top, the summit. 

top, to raiie up, Copt. 

toor, a mountain, ib. 
topp, a tower. 

torrea, Basq. 

turres, Lat. 
tpoj, Ac drew. 

traxit, ib. 
tu, ftro. 

duo, ib. 


tujitl, a turtle-dove. 

turtur, Lat. 
tpi3, a twig. 

tog], a plant, Copt. 
t^man, to summon. 

tame, to ;;taAe known, ib. 
tijh, a /"ye. 

tighing, to /?yc, iVetr Caled. 

pur, t/pon, Pushtoo. 

lUej, a trory. 

via, Lat. 
paelcan, to ^<<m round. 

volutare, ib. 
peep, a man. 

wiras, Lith. 

vir, ZaA 
paef , water. 

wushu, a river, Agow. 

wai, water. New ZeaL 

waha, Amharic. 

wakka, Instu 
peobupe, a toidow. 

vidua, Lat. 
pefan, to be. 

wusiou, Pushtoo. 
pill, /Ae will. 

volitio, L^t. 

voluntas, t6. 
D o 3 



CIIAP. pillan, to will, 
IV. velle, ib. 

' pin, ivine, 

Yinum, ib, 
pell, tcelL 

elo, ^ew Caled, 
pinb, the wind, 

ventus, Lai, 
pjnjxpe, the left, 

sinister, Lat. 
f} ft, food, 

popb, a word. 

wardas, Lith, 

verbum, Lat. 

pypm, a worm. 

vermis, Lat, 
pul, wool, 

ulea, Basq. 

Ynce, an inch, 

uncia, Lat. 
ynbfa, an ounce. 

ymen, a hymn, 

ypjie, anger, 


The following affinities occur with the Anglo-Saxon for 
Sun, in many of the languages of the globe : 


The Sun. 




Ostiack, Lumpokel. 














Nogai Turk. 


Nias, Sumatra. 












He de Paw. 



Si a re, 

New Guinea. 


Meso Gothic 


Cbimanos, Brazil. 








Pan is. 
























Tcbouktche, Asiat. 




Tcbouktche, Amer. 

PERSIAN, ZEND, and PEHLVi affinities. 

Since I printed the fourth edition of this work, the probable 
derivation of the Saxon race from the regions near the Cas- 
pian led me to examine what affinities existed between the 
Asiatic languages in these parts, and the Anglo-Saxon. The 

1 In Arabic, sanat is a year, and sanan is clear ; both obviously alluding to tht 
term sun for that luminary. 



Hon. Mr. Keppel calls the country where the ancients placed 
the Sacao and Sacasaani, and which he visited^ '^ the beautiful 
province of Karabaugh." It lies between the Arrjxs and the 
Kur, wliicli are the ancient Araxcs and Cyrnus, near the 
northern parts of Persia. His travels induced me to compare 
the Anglo-Saxon language with the Persian, and afterwards 
with the Zend, the earliest speech that is known to have been 
used in Persia, and also with the Pehlvi, which succeeded it 
there. The result of tiie comparison was, that I found 162 
words in the modern Persian ; 57 in the Zend ; and 43 
in the Peiilvi, so similar in sound and meaning, to as many 
iu the Anglo-Saxon, as to confirm the deducticm of tiie pro- 
genitors of our ancestors from the regions of ancient Asia. 
I sent the list to the Royal Society of Literature, and the 
connnunication has been printed in Part II. of the Second 
Volume of their Transactions. 




I proceeded afterwards to inspect the Arabic language; 
and on comparing the Anglo-Saxon with the Arabic, the 

following 148 affinities occurred: 


sel, good, 
sibb, peace, 
sac, strife, 
sef'a, intellect, 
leogan, to lye, 
leg, flame, 
hlithe, quiet, 
leoinan, to shine, 
lufa, love, 
lippa, a lip, 
lust, Itixun/, 
hlyd, tumult, 
list, knoiclege, 
nn, a dead body, 
naecan, to kill, 
nacod, naked, 
nama, a name. 
neuli, 7ughn 
hscl, a7i omen, 
hador, seretie. 
hare, hoary, 
ist, is, 
isa, ice, 
huiid, 100. 
Dierran, to err. 


salih, good, 
sabb, loving. 
sakhb, tumult. 
sufi, wise. 
lay, lying, 
layak, flame, 
lim, peace, 
lamali, shining. 
laha, love. 
lab, the lip. 
lazzat, pleasure, 
lud, altercation. 
lasan, eloquence, 
nafs, the body, 
nikayat, killing, 
nakad, peeli?ig. 
ntkmwSy fame. 
nawb, near, 
halij, dreaming. 
hadu, tranquillity. 
harim, an old man. 
hast, is. 
husr, ice. 
hand, 100. 
mariek, deviating. 
D D 4 



CHAP. Saxon. 


^^' ^ merra, a seducer. 

murai, a hypocrite. 

^'■"""^ mirran, to offend. 

murahhat, provoked. 

mori, a marsh. 

murabit, standing water. 

missian, to err. 

musi, a sinner. 

misty a mist. 

mushtabih, obscure. 

mal, a speech. 

mulhat, a saying. 

mal, a stain. 

malam, disgrace. 

mile, milk. 

milka, pap for infants. 

mild, mild. 

malik, mild. 

menan, to mean. 

manwi, intended. 

myth a, a limiL 

mita, a boundary. 

mcl, time. 

iriilat, time. 

ma&dful, benign. 

maad, tender. 

macian, to make. 

makbiz, a bringing forth. 

mara, the night-mare. 

mtLTdz, falling sick. 

mara, greater. 

mar, a lord. 

maera, lofti/. 

marod, proud. 

mal, tribute. 

mal, riches. 

raurcnian, to murmur. 

rautkidan, to murmur. 

luatu, malignant. 

muttazir, criminal. 

mod, the mind. 

mudukat, the intellect. 

maegthe, a young woman. 

makhdur, a matron. 


marab, cheerful. 

myrnan, to mourn. 

marhun, pitied. 

marc, a mark. 

maram, marked. 

mearu, tender. 

marfak, gentle. 

beorht, bright. 

barikat, bright. 

burg, a castle. 

buruj, a castle. 

basing, a rich cloak. 

bizzat, a dress of honor. 

bered, vexed. 

barb, distress. 

beorth, birth. 

baraa, creating. 

bysmor, infamy. 

bazia, shameless. 

bita, a morsel. 

bit, provisio?ts. 

scearan, |^,^^^^. 

sharz, cutting. 

«?«■"•?' ] sharp. 
suearp, J ^ 

sharish, sharp. 

sceocca. '[^f.^aevO. 
sneocca, J 

shaki, wicked. 

^i™""' [to shine. 
sniman, J 

sbams, the sun. 

sceawinn, 1^^^^^ 
sheawian, J 

sliuwan, the eye. 

semau, to adjust a dispute. 

samn, adjusting. 

^'""P' \ sheep. 
sheap, J ^ 

sba, sJieep. 

sceotan, l^,;^^,^ 
sheotan, J 

sbatu, a shoot. 

T"^"' ] shame. 
ehama, J 

sLiman, modesty. 







to shake. 

sceat, 1 

shea^ )«'""•'• 

scealc, 1 

shealc, J 

scacan, 1 

sbacan, J 

till nan, to vanish^ to become 

tinterg, torment, 

thiret, a hole, 

tbearf, poor. 

tarn, mild. 

tingnysse, eloquence, 

tilian, to study, 

tille, quiet. 

til modig, mild. 

seoc, sick, 

swift, swift. 
ysla, a spark, 
bleo, a refuge. 
ser, brass, 
aide, help, 
tael, reproach. 
taelan, to blame. 
taer, a tear. 
taelg, a branch. 

teiss, affliction. 

tir, a prince. 
tir, glory. 
tan, a shoot, 
yrfe, inheritance, 
orf, cattle. 1 
oxa, an ox. J 
ar, wealth, 
card, Mc earth, 
earm, poor, 
claemian, to c/am. 
climan, /o climb, 
selan, to flame, 

atelic, ^o^e. 

aful, a fault, 

afylan, to be contaminated, 

an, in, 

ancor, an anchor, 

anda, rancour. 

shamit, malicious, 

shatej, a share, 

shakkat, a boy. 

shakhaz, tottering. 

thin, tanazzur, becoming small, 
tinkan, punishment, 
tirak, a cleft, 
tarh, poverty, 
tamanu, humane. 
tanj, expression, 
talyat, reading. 
tulunni, lazy, 
talyim, mitigating, 

{sikat, languid. 
sakuu, sick, 
sufuw, swift 
ililaj, hiding, 
ayar, brass, 
Ida, assistance. 
tilka, blame. 
talwin, reprehending, 
tarafuz, tears flowing, 
taalab, a tree, 

{taassur, sadness, 
tabazzur, grief. 
tarab, high. 
tawrim, proud. 
tandi gb, flowering, 
irr, fire. 
irs, inheritance. 

urkb, a bullock. 

arzak, riches. 

arz, the earth, 

armat, poor, 

iklaf, gluing, 

iklawla, climbing. 

Waky flashing, 
f atir, a crime, 
\ atlas, a stain, 

affak, a lyar. 

uffat, a coward. 

an, tn. 

anjar, an ancAor. 

indaghy doing eviL 






sifer, pure, 
Sffilth, prosperity, 
sigan, to fall, 
swig, silence, 
sefa, intelligence, 
siofotha, chaff, 
siftan, to sift, 
syb, peace, 
sac, contention. 

sung, sour, 

sad, a halter. 
salt, salt, 
sal, blach, 
sith, a />a/A. 
sid, a side, 
sum, ^ome. 
baean, to cooh, 
beorna, a man, 
balew^ depraved, 
balo, evil, 
beal, destruction, 
bald, 60^. 
belewita, simple, 
beado, cruelty, 
beado, battle, 
bil, a bill, 
bold, a town, 
byan, to inhabit. 
ang-breost, astJima, 

enge, anguish, 

ancsum, troublesome, 
anfeng, he tooh, 
anfindan, to seize, 
andeaw, arrogant, 
unan, to give, 
wuda, wood, 
waa, sorrow, 
wa, wo, 

wal a/a^/ 

^' \ crooked, 
wo, J 


safi, pure, 
sulwat, content, 
sakut, falling, 
sukat, silence, 
sliafin, intelligent. 
safa, dust, 
safsafat, sifting, 
sabt, rest. 
sakhinat, rage. 

{surkua, sour wine. 
surbat, sour milk, 
saad, strangling, 
salt, sharp, 
silai), a black habii. 

saw da, a path. 

sum an, a little, 
bukhtag, cooked. 
bamasa, men. 
balas, wicked, 
balijah, evil. 
bala, a misfortune, 
baltayi, bold, 
balabat, foolish, 
badawi, j^erce. 
badad, sallying to battle, 
bildan, a blunt sword, 
baldat, a city, 
bingain, a dwelling, 
anh, breathing hard. 

{inkas, injuring. 
ingbas, making life painful. 

inkas, injuring, 

anfal, plunder, 

anfaktan, to acquire, 

an fan, haughty, 

ihna, giving, 

ud, wood. 

awwat, sorrow, 

awwab, a sigher, 
r awwat, 1 ^^^, 
L awali, J 

awad, crooked. 




Instead of putting the Hebrew words in the orthography 
of their modern pronunciation, which, in many, differs ac- 
cording to the class of the Jews who express or spell them, 
I will only insert their written letters. The voweb omitted 
in their writing are supplied in their enunciation, as in many 




of the Eastern lan^ua«:es. 


sacc, a hag, 

saed, an halter. 

slaean, to strike. 

senian, to sign. 

sefa, the mind. 

scofian, to mourn. 

sip, sup (English.) 

searo, an instrument of tear. 

sur, sour. 

sib, peace. 

sceap, 1 I 
, ^' • sheep. 
sheap, J ^ 

secgan, to say. 

say (English). 

secan, to seek, 

ewellan, to kill. 

elusa, a prison. 1 

clam, a fetter. J 

hoi, a hole. 

\eg,^ame. 1 

leht, light. J 

lystan, I wish. 

lehun, to lend. 

liccian, to lick. 

meltan, to melt, 

moel, a part. 

milescian, to soothe. 

mil, among. 

mildsian, to pity. 1 

miUlse, mercy. J 

lac, a present. 

calo (calvus), bald, 

can, I can. 

are, honor. 

faeger, fair. 

ys, is. 

man, a crime. 

morn 1 ^ 

, > to-morrow. 

morhgen, J 


sk, a bag, 

sd, a fetter. 

slh, he struck down. 

smn, to sign, "LvifAnoif 

skph, thoughts. 

sphd, he mourned. 

sap, to sup, 

srh, a breast plate. 

sar, leaven, 

sbt, quiet. 

sha, a lamb, 

sob, to speak, 
sill, discourse. 
sok, he desired. 
clh, to be consumed. 

cla, to shut up, 

hi], to make a hole, 

\hXy flame. 

lo, / wish, 
luh, he lent. 

{Ihk, to lick. 
Ikk, he licked, 
mbb, to melt. 
ml, to divide^ cut off. 
mlts, to be soothing, 
mill, to mingle. 

mlits, a mediator. 

lak, a messenger, 
chlk, bald, 
cal, I can. 
ira, revering, 
is, if. 
man, a vice. 

mhr, Uhmorrow. 




hidd, hidden. 
Daman, to name, 
CDOcian, to knocks to beat. 
hwsete, wheats 
to be iU (Engl.), 
tor, a tower, 
will, wilL 
win, wine. 
cydung, chiding, 
tired (English), 
feobtan, to fight. 
sid, a side, 
saeltb, prosperity, 
cald, called, 
samod, together. 
cjst, a case^ a chest* 
cist, benignity. 
crawan, to crow. 1 

to cry out (English). J 
rarian, to roar, 1 
ream^ noise. J 
reafran, to plunder, 
reosan, to rush. 
dropian, to drop. 
setan, to place. 
scjan, to suggest. 
scjlan, to distinguish. 1 
skill (English). J 

ssecg, a small sword. 

socian, to soak. 

sel, prosperity, good, 
selan, to give, 
sal, a palace. 
sin, sin. 

T°' \skeen. ] 

shen, J I 

• J 

«f *''i»"' ] to behold. 
sheawian, J 

shout, (English). 

sipan, to sip, 

sceala, scales, 

scath, a thief, "I 

sceocca, the devil, J 

'^^'•P*"'' \ to, harper,. 
sherpan, J ^ 


chd, he hid. 

nam, he spoke. 

nkh, to strike. 

hih, wheat, 

blh, to be ilL 

tir, a tower. 

ial, will. 

iin, wine. 

ikh, to chide. 

trh, he tired himself. 

phtl, to struggle. 

tsd, o^icie. 

tslb, prosperous. 

kol, vou?«. 

tsmd, assembled, 

csh, to cover. 

csd, benignity. 

era, A^ called. 

rkm, to thunder. 

trf, to plunder, 

rash, to more, to shake. 

rkp, to efr(>/>. 

sot, A« placed. 

skoi, a thought. 

ski, ^e intellect 

sen, a Anr/e. 

{skh, to water. 
scoi, drink. 
sib, peaceful, quiet. 
slob, a ^rt/S^ 
sit, a rwfer. 
snah, hatred. 

sbnn, to sharpen. 

shkb, to behold. 

ahkt, shout, 
sph, Me /tp. 
sel, to weigh. 

sctz, detestable. 






ledun, to lead. 

leu, to /ead: 

longo, mightily. 1 
iHiigiun, to increase. J 

lang, strong. 

leii, a place. 

lee, to piiM. 

lyf, life. 

leik, ^irit. 

Irnin, icickedness. 

mang, wicked. 

mliiBian, to mince, to diminish. 

Diio, to pare o{7^ 

uiiwan, io mow. 

nto, to cut. 

mod, mind. 

mo, d%«t 

cina, afitiure. 

khan, to cut. 

col, coot 

ioo, Unfreeze. 

ciennan, to know. 

khan, to investigate. 

moTian, to iwggett 

feohtun, lojight. 

fuh, to jtrtAf. 

cegnn, to vail. 

keaou, to ea//. 

can, lean. 

ko, /ea«. 

ceapion, 1^„„ 
cheapian, J '^ **"■ 
liloh, he laughed. 

chow, to .e/t 

lo, to t«^A. 

lustaQ, to desire. 

Ian, to desire. 

si pan, to 4i^. 

GO, to (fn'nA. 

wo, pcrrerseli/. 1 
wigan, to retW. J 

woo, refractory. 

wafran, to be atlonithtd, to\ 
hesitate. J 

wei, to /ear. 

ange, vexed, angry. 

r hang, oMffry <pe«*. 
X hung, a»^ry. 

wcman, to expect. 

wan, to o*A. 

liyoan, to hinder. 

ho, to »/op. 

1.0C, hook. 

lio, toyoiM. 

luh, sound. 

liiu, a/of / 

heu, to ntoan. 

wn, tnoe. 

f wa, a child's sobbing. 
\ wo, a child's weeping. 

mango, muny. 1 
manig, much. J 

mang, large. 

lieuen, heaven. 

heen, Aeatvn. 

sugan, to iuci. 

ahun, to HM^ 

lud, noise. 

laou, noue. 

teon, to occMte. 1 
teon, slander. J 

tuh, railing. 

cnif, a Ani/ft 

khan, to cm(. ' 

■hiran, to *A«r. 

shan, to Meer. 

teon, to tug. 

tuj, to pull wUh force 

hleowan, to ^u. 

leuh, to /ou. 

Lleo, ort att/lum, a retreat. 




my, 1 
'evil J 


fah, an enemy, 

fian, to hate. 

feond, the devil. 

Cynn, a nation, 

thingan, to harangue, to plead. 

hwa, who. 

woli, injury. 

cyn, offspring. 

fah, revenge. 
fah, an enemy. 
tucian, to punish. 
weardian, to guard. 
nior, a marsh. 


morth, death. 

dun, a hilloch. 
fader, father, 
faiu, /alse. 
heafod, the head. 
ear, the ear. 
sen i an, to sign. 
wea, misfortune. 
heahmod, proud. 
sei, to say. 
sugan, to suck. 
haewen, putrid. 
macnan, to complain. 
lean, emolument. 
sican, to sigh. 
seofian, to groan. 
man, wickedness. 
lilyn, noise. 
eorh, sorrow. 
gnaigan, to gnaw. 
hwearfian, to revolve. 
liweol, a wheel. 
etan, to eat. 




pbei, wicked. 

kin, a multitude. 
ting, to debate. 
ho, who. 
woo, to injure. 

{chin, hoys. 
keen, a son. 

fe, to injure. 

tuh, to strike. 

wei, to guard. 

mo, mt///. 
J mo, to rfiV. 
\ mae, to Awry. 

tun, a hillock. 

foo, a father. 

i'ti, Jalse. 

liee, Mf Ara(/. 

urh, the ear. 

shin, to W^/i. 

wei, disquieted. 

heaou, proud. 

seay, sound. 

so, to f efcA. 

hew, to jutf//. 

ma, to «ro/ef. 

leo, profit. 

tseaj, to «/^/<. 

man, to ri/tM. 
hmg, a great noise, 
tsuh, sorrow. 
neih, to gnaw. 

iiwuy, to revolve. 

e, to ea/. 




yeong, young. 
mo^nan, to think. 

yuwan, young, 
munus, the mind. 

beon, to &f. 

bhu, to ^tf. 

riht, right, 
rice, ricA. 

rita, riyA/. 
raih, wealth. 

wer, a man. 

viroh, a //lait. 

cnawan, to Amni;. 

jna, to Aitott?. 

hffile, health. 
ma, larger. 
mod, excited mind. 
bald, bold 
earood, together, 

cwellun, to kill. 
thurst, thirst. 
naddra, a terptnl. 
serian, to put in order. 
galan, to sing. 
dance (Englbb). 
dictli, death. 

tan, a germen, 
Bceotan, 1 - . , . 
.hoolan, )<»'*»<"»«'■ 

liiciutli, /((■ neex, 
road (English), 
findeth, hejindetk. 
gan, to go, 
lean, a reward. 
La^nan, to stone. 
ende, the end. 
ys, w. 

toss up (Engliah). 
liliitan, to bend. 1 

■ lutan, to bend towards. J 
thyrslan, to ihirtt 
□Bte, not, 
nan, none. 

heeta, health, 
maha, great, 
mada, courage. 
bala, strength. 
Bam, together. 
sanjna, a sigh. 
inonuBchjo, a man. 
kala, death. 
torscho, thirst. 
naga, a serpent. 
sOTOh, a series. 
gai, to sing. 
taadovan, to dante. 
di, to decay, 
damn, tame. 
dbanu, to produce, 
ehu, to produce, 
lokote, Ae fee*, 
tnadu, to grow mad, 
fiadoli, hejinds. 
ga, toffo. 
la, to ^tt>«. 
hanu, to slag. 
onto, ;Ae end. 
asu, to &«. 
tasu, to toss up. 
lutu, to rolL 
trishu, thirst. 



na, a dead body, 
Jifiiiin, fa hurt. 
gar, a dart. 
tnorth, death. 
to lop (English), 
tredan, to bruise. 
bcran, to bear. 
teran, to tear, 
thecan, to cover. 
midde, middle. 
ioc, a yoke. 
nefan, to weave. 

jnjov, you. 
nasu, to perish. 
dharu, to hurt, 
garu, to A///. 

lupu, to /o/i. 
tridu, /o injure, 

bliri, /d Ar(/r. 

the, to cover. 
modjoh, middle. 
yugon, a j/ohe. 
\e, to weave. 




^ 8on, sound. 


grtedan, to cry. 

teon, injury. 

bindan, to bind. 

kessa, less. 

uppe, upon. 

yte, out. 1 

uter, outer. J 

lustan, to desire. 

wiscan, to wish. 

liccian, to lick. 

sadian, to be weary. 

wudewe, a widow. 

eacan, to addy to increase. 

habban, to have. 

moder, mother. 

cu, a cow. 

brother, brother. 

teran, to tear. 

swuster, sister. 


l'^'""'l> \ sound. 
I^svonoh, J 

cridan, to cry. 

tu, to injure. 

bhandu, to bind, 

ilasuy to grow less. 

upo, upon. 

itaru, out. 

luha, to covet. 
vasu, to wish. 
ilahu, to lick. 
sadu, to toither. 
vidohva, a widow. 
akshu, to heap up. 
aapu, have. 
matUy mother. 
^^ a cow. 
bbratri, brother. 
tari, to tear. 

(^ svostro, J 


There are many other affinities between the Sanscrit ai 
the Anglo-Saxon. 


The following similarities of some words in the Angl 
Saxon with the Georgian language may deserve our notice 


batho, a bath. 
bald (English), 
da^, a day. 
aloicgan, to place. 
ecled, fire. 
meegan, power. 
angel, a hook. 
anda, rancour. 
anrolan, to infiame. 
aglae, sorrow. 
arleas, vile. 
ase, as. 
bar, barren. 
diglian, to hide. 
elo, oil. 

erming, miserable. 
theoden, a lord. 


abano, a bath. 
belathi, bald. 
adi, a day. 
alaghi, a place. 

amaghlela, greatness. 
anghistri, a hook. 
andamari, calamity. 
an the, to inflame. 
aklia, sorrow. 
areule, abomincUion. 
asre, thus. 
barzi, barren. 
dagule, to shut up. 
eleo, oil. 
eremo, a desert. 
thaadi, a tioble. 




theowian, to minister. 
med, a reward. 
maedful, courteous. 
mago, powerful. 
mal, tribute. 
mal, a stain. 
martha, great deeds. 
sace, a sack. 
team, a posterity. 
wjrcian, to work. 
win, wine. 
win-beam, a vine. 
delay (English), 
tumbian, to dance. 
cat, a cat. 
msenan, to mean. 
na, a dead body, 1 
nsecan, to kill. J 

seoc, sick. 

sawl, the souL 

sop, a sop. 

locian, to look. 

lippa, the lip. 

talian, to narrate, to speak. 

talk (EngUsh). 

uuerse, worse. 

wyrse, worse. 

outcry (English). 

ut, out. 

gecrangan, to howl. 


fore, a fork. 

gan, to go. 

cleopian, to call out. 

sceacul, a shackle. 







sefa, the intellect. 

see, the sea. 

sucan, I suck. 

cyst, kindness. 

to gingle (English). 


thaascham, to minister. 
madili, a benefit. 
madlieri, courteous. 
megali, great. 
mali, tribute. 
malo, bctd. 

martheb, to conquer, 
sako, a sack. 
tomi, a nation. 
vich, to work. 
vino, wine. 
venachi, a vine. 
dila, to adjourn. 
thamascio, to dance. 
kata, a cat. 
mene, interpret. 

nakodi, slaughter. 

f sikduili, pestilence. 
\ sichudli, death. 

suli, the sold. 

supa, a sop. 

loca, the cheek. 

lasci, the lips. 

talkmasi, comedy. 

uuaresi, worse. 
uuaruar^ to make worse. 

uthchar, to cry out. 

futkari, yrom the foot. 
furka, a pitchfork. 

{gauilib, to go away. 
gauli, to go by. 
galob, to roar out. 

{sceikrua, to bind. 
scekrua, a shackle. 

sciau, black. 

cheva, the intellect. 
zea, the sea. 
zueni, I suck. 

{chesileba, kindness. 
chesilis, good. 
gingili, chains. 



E E 





rum, a place. 
ec, /. 
that, that. 
boc, book. 
beran, to endure, 
0amod, all together. 
same, like, 
scinan, to shine. 
bseran, to bear, 
bendan, to bend. 
tan, a shoot, 
boren, bom. 
bunda, bundles. 
a bunch (English), 
bi, Ay. 

caeppe, a cap. 

same, like. 
morth, dead. 
emtig, empty. 
gleam, splendour. 1 
glomung, the dawn. J 
bolla, a bowl, 1 
ball (English). J 
lappa, a lap. 
marm, marble. 

tellan, to tell, 

moder, mother. 
nama, name, 
ne, not. 

to cut (English), 
to pay (English), 
cidan, to quarrel. 
Bcoe, shoe. 
sec, sick, 
sweopan, to sweep. 


rooma, a house, 
ako, /. 
etoo, that, 
bacha, to read. 
bear, to suffer. 
Samoa, all together. 
sama, like as. 
sinar, sun's rays. 
bava, to bear. 
benko, bent. 
toonar, to blossom. 
beranak, bom, 
booncoos, a bundle. 
boongkoot, a bunch. 
bah, by. 

{capala, the head. 
copea, a hat, 
samaian, to compare. 
maoot, death, 
ampex, empty, 

gomelung, glitter. 

boolat^ a round balL 

lipat, a lap. 
marmar, marble, 

{teleleecan, to telL 
telelee, to publish. 
ma, mother, 
nama, name. 
nen, not. 
catan, to reap, 
bajar, to pay. 
chidera, to quarreL 
caoos, shoe. 
sakit, sick. 
sapoo, to sweep. 


heal, a hall, 
heafod, the head, 
leccian^ to lick, 
mere, the sea, 
morth, death, 
net, a net. 



aule, a hall. 
aphe, the head. 
legh, to lick. 
mer, over sea. 
mou, death. 
nebd, a net. 




sage, ivise. 

sabe, wise. 

Befa, the mind. 

sabo, to /earn. 

sedan, to sow. 

set, to sow. 

ssBgan, to say. 

sagi, a speech. 

son, a sound. 

sensen, a sound. 

staenan, to stone. 

setoni, to stone. 

saettan, to sit. 

set, the tail. 

slide, a sliding. 

slad, a sliding. 

sacc, a stick. 

soc, a sack. 

style, steel. 

stall, «toe^ 

sot, a sot. 

so, drink. 

con, he knew. 1 
cunnan, to knom J 

conon, to know. 

hal, healthy. 

talsoy health. 

boh, a bough. 

bai, a bough. 

hoi, a hole. 

chol, a Ao^. 

fot, afoot. 

phat, afoot. 

faether, a feather. 

phet, to^y. 

heah, high. 

hi, above. 

moder, mother. 

maau, mother. 

hap (English). 

haps, necessary. 

inne, in. 

en, m. 

nu, new. 

dnou, netr. 

{2diieVy father. 


ne, no^. 

ne, wor. 




ing, a meadow. 

Jng, a^eW. 

icton, they added. 

iktar, a heap. 

ombiht, a servant. 

ombi, to toorA. 

late, late. 

lata, late. 

mine, mtne. 

mini, of me. 

me, me. 

mim, 9716; 

sage, ii7»e. 

sa, know. 




maga, a kinsman. 

mago, a nephew. 

car, care. 

eocorogage, cart. 

sur, sour. 

su, vinegar. 

gos, a goose. 

gan, a goose. 

haccan, to cut. 

haka, a knife. 

ancer, an anchor. 

icari, ait anchor. 

nemnan, to name. 

notamai, to name. 

ac, an oak. 

qi, a tree. 

sand, sand* 

snna, «aitdl 

EB 2 







8ulh, a plough. 
bjrnan, to bum. 
morth, death. 
caeg, a hey. 
thecan, to cover. 
merran, to err. 
ess J (Englbh). 
sudden (English), 
yrre, angry. 
swine, labour. 
teoche, a leader. 
rowan, to row. 


sngi, I plough. 
aburi, to roast. 
moja, a dead body. 
cagui, a hey. 
togi, / shut up. 
maioi, to err. 
jasui, easy. 
sudeni, instantly. 
icari, anger. 
xinco, labour. 
taisco, a leader. 
ro, an oar. 


salt, salt. 
inne, in. 
eaga, the eye. 
hsep, adapted. 
leoraa, rays of light. 
ear, the ear. 



salou, salt. 
one, in. 

acou, the eye. 

apatara, to adapt, {apto.) 

illeme, j^re. 

aricae, Me ear. 


beon, to be. 
methle, a speech. 
beam, a son. 
er, a male agent. 
aewe, a wife. 
cegh, an eye. 
eorthe, earth. 
rad, a road. 
eom, I am. 
Bjnd, ye are. 



buden, to be. 
megele, a question. 
ibnun, a son. 
er, a man. 
aewret, a woman. 
aejn, an eye, 
erz, earth, 
reb, a way. 
um, I am. 
sjnuz, ye are. 



barm, a bay. 
beran, to bear. 
bat, a boat. 
beorcan, to barh. 

bog, a branch. 

buruh, a city, 
bord, a house. 
bur, a chamber. 



ba, the sea. 
beri, to bear. 
ba, to row. 
bare, a dog. 

{hoge, fruit. 
^Ffc, to grow to fruit. 

bore, a neighbour. 




buan, to inhabit, 
borian, to bore, 
bulgian, to bellow. 
bjldan, to strengthen, 
me, me, 
djnt, a blow, 
fyr, jftre. 
djnan, to feed, 
helao, to cover, 
ea, water, 
dyfan, to dive, 
leoht, light, 
losian, to lose, 
new, new, 
sape, ftoap, 
wilnian, to desire, 
henaD, to stone, 
gar, a dart. 
siwian, to sow, 
to cut (English). 

msedful, benign, 

na, not. 



bu, to continue. 

bo, to split. 

biUa, to make a rumbling noise. 

balang, strong, hard, 

em, me. 

ding, to strike. 

furl, heat. 

dong, to eat. 

geli^ to shut, 

ie, water. 

dulan, to dive. 

iling, light. 

loe, to lose. 

nene, neti?. 

safung, 5oap. 

whuli, desire, 

gene, to «tontf. 

geri, fighting. 

she, to fotr. 

khuo, to cut. 
I madunduhe, meek, 
\ madudidu, to be quiet. 

na, not. 



cwseth, he saith. 
munan, to think, 
mal, speech, 
mamma (English). 



quiae, you say, 
muenho, the mind, 
milonga, words. 
mama, mother. 

Of the affinities which occur in other languages, I have not 
at present time to collect more than the following : 



fir, fire, 
anan, to give, 
andget, die mind, 
afjran, to take away, 
bigan, to bend. 
blawan, to blow, 
cald, called, 1 

cljpian, to call out, J 
feon, to hate, 
feohtan, to fight. 


angi, to give, 
anga, the mind, 
ave, to take away. 
bico, crooked. 
boohi, to 6/oir. 

calanga, to roar out, 

fehia, to Aato. 
fetaagi, to fight. 

E B 3 

ch. J 

figan, to havt enmity. 
gnawan, to gnaw. 
hiw, the appearatuie. 
belan, to kuU. 
liefel, a leoel. 
beran, to exhort. 
^SB(, a Uaf. 
leoman, to shine. 
lift, cunnintf. 
leoh, he scolded.'\ 
lar, teaching. 

iithiaii, to soothe. 
leogan, to lie. 
lab, a lake. 
hlynn, noise, 
time, lime. 
leod, people. 
mutli, the mouth. 
meca, a sword. 
inona, the moon. 
mal, a stain. 
mal, a speech. 
mild, mild. 
msinan, to think. 
manig, many. 
miera, a boundary. 
morth, death. 
meltan, to melt. 
ombcbt, a servant. 
ODgean, again. 
ongalan, to ting. 
pol, a pole. 
tiiscan, to hiss. 
talian, to tell. 
tallic, blamable. 
tama, a boy. 
teoD, to drag. 
togan, to go away. 

fege, confrovertjf, 
gnow, to eheto. 
ha, to appear. 
lilo, to conceal. 
lea, speech. 
lo, a /eo/I 
laa, iunMtM«. 
loto, mind. 

low, to discourse. 

loho, to pay. 


loo, a /mV. 

longoa, noiw. 

lehe, /tme. 

lahi, fflan^J 

mu, a moiifhfiil, to ehev>. 

machela, sharp. 

mffihina, the moon. 

mala, ill lack. 

malanga, a speech. 

malo, rest. 

manatoo, to bethink, to consider. 

maaoo, ten thousand. 

maoo, a boundary. 

mate, death. 

moloo, soft. 

oloo, Jlame. 

omi, to bring, lo fetch. 

ODga, an echo. 

onga, sound. 

{pale, to jituA with poles. 
pale vaca, the poles, 
ftlai, to hiss. 
tala, to lelL 
talahooi, impudent. 
team, offspring. 
to lio, to rffflp, 
too goo, to ^uif. 

aide, Ae/p. 
lielig, holy. 
on, on«. 1 
onlu, only.] 


aide, ajavour. 
ailes, Ao/^. 
oina, only. 

asbe, athei, 

acer, a^tld. 

oceQnan, to hring/orlh. 

ncse, an axe, 

oia, an ox. 

alda, old. 

KT, early. 

orbi, inheritance. 

anan, to tpare. 

arm, wretched. 

bocan, to bake. 

bar, bare. 

beorce, the birch. 

beam, son. 

batbo, a bath. 
biddan, to pray. 
bera, a bear. 
bita, a bit. 
biter, bitter. 
blac, paU. 

\Aa^, fruit, a branch, a 
blendian, to mix. 
bleo, colour. 
bla:c, black. 
bonda, a husband. 
breech me, noise. 
brid, a bride. 
brucnn, to tue. 
brym, the sea. 
bod, a precept. 1 

biide, he commands. J 
bord, a table. 
borian, to bore. 
bygan, to buy. 1 
bjTga, a creditor. ] 
iMinc, a bench. 
dochter, daughter. 
deor, dtar, 
died, a (ieed 
diema, a judge, 
iom, judgment. 
duua, a dove. 
tc, an oaA. 
ece, eternal 

Mr, &raM. 

{aiset, to^amt. 
aisanet, to bum. 

aker, a/e/rf. 

akk, pregnant, afatus. 

aksjo, «H jyj'f. 

wuoxa, on or. 

alder, age. 

aret, early. 

arbe^ patrimony. 

arjot, to spare, 

armes, miserable. 

bakot, to 6a Ae. 
r baros, man'ifeit. 
\ bara, on/y. 

barko, M« £ircA 6arA. 

bart, a bath. 
biddet, to pray. 
bire, a bear. 
bitta, a bit. 
bittjes, bitter. 
blackok, pale, 
blade, blade, a leaf. 

blandet, to mix. 
blaw, blue. 
l)l<;kk, l/acA. 
bond, ft hushaiiJ. 
brukkohem, noise. 
brudefl, a bride. 
brukot, to use. 

buda, a precept. 

buorde, a table. 
baret, to bore. 

bargal, a merchant. 
bank, a bench. 
daktar, daughter. 
deuras, dear. 

Jill, a custom. 
dcibmar, a judge. 
dob mo, judgment. 

eik, an oah. 
ekewe, etemcd. 







fvAaei false. 
fang, a captive. 
fare, a journey. 

fat, a vessel. 


fieden, to feed. 

fsegnian, to rejoice. 
feobtan, to fight. 
frith, peace, 
ireoy free. 
frea, a lord. 
folgian, to follow. 
folc, people. 
feond, the devil. 
first, the first, 
got, a goat. 
grsess, grass. 
graef, a grave. 
growend, growing. 
gold, gold. 
hseg, a hedge. 
healdan, to hold. 
hoc, hook. 
ham, a house. 
hiw, the look. 
hell, Tartarus. 
hafoc, a hawk. 
hera, a lord. ■ 
hentaD, to pursue. 
horu, a strumpet. 
horingas, adulterers. 
hoga, care. 
haccan^ to hack. 
hige, mind. 
hselo, health. 
hale wese, «at?e yoti / 

There are many more affinities besides these between the 
Lapland and the Anglo-Saxon, which I omit, that I may not 
overburthen the attention of the reader. As the Laplandic 
is a branch of the Hunnish stock, which came latest into 
Europe, its affinities with the Saxon indicate a consanguinity 
from primeval ancestry which occurs with the rest to cor- 
roborate the ideas before mentioned of the original unity and 
subsequent dispersion of mankind. 


{fAskOy false. 
fang, a captive. 
faro, emigration. 

{fatte, the stomach of animals 
used as vessels Jor liquor. 
fa,UTOy fair. 

{fedo, nutriment. 
fedet, to nourish. 
fegen, rejoicing, 
fiktet, to fight. 
fred, peace. 
fnia, a lady. 
fuljet, to follow* 
fuolke, people. 
fuodno, the devil. 
forsta, a prince, 
gaits, a goat. 
grase, grass. 
graupe, a ditch. 
gruonas, flourishing. 
guile, gold. 
hagien, a hedge. 
haldet, to hold. 
hakan, hook. 
heima, a house, 
heiwc, the look. 
helwet, Tartarus. 
hauka, a hawk. 
herr, a lord. 
hinnet, to follow. 
hora, a strumpet. 
horawuot, adultery, 
hugso, care. 
hakkatet, to kill. 
hagga, life. 
halso, good health, 
halsalet, to salute. 


No. II. 

Money of the Anglo-Saxons. 

The payments mentioned in Domesdaj-book are stated in 
pounds, shillings, pence, and farthings, exactly as our pecu- 
niary calculations are now made. Twenty shillings constitute 
a pound, and a shilling is composed of twelve pence. The 
same computation occurs elsewhere. Elfric, in his translation 
of Exodus ^ adds, of his own authority, " They are twelve 
scy thinga of twelve pennies ; " and in the moneys mentioned 
in the liistoria Eliensis, edited by Gale, we find numerous 
passages which ascertain that a pound consisted of twenty 
shillings. Thus, three hides were sold by a lady to an abbot 
for a hundred shillings each. The owner is afterwards said 
to have come to receive the fifteen pounds. When seven 
pounds and a half only had been paid, the ealdorman asked 
the abbot to give the lady more of her purchase money. At 
his request the abbot gave thirty shillings more ; thus, it is 
added, he paid her nine pounds. On another occasion the 
money agreed for was thirty pounds. One hundred shillings 
were received, and twenty-five pounds were declared to re- 
main due. ^ 

The Saxon money was sometimes reckoned by pennies, as 
the French money is now by francs. Thus, in one charta^ 
three plough-lands are conveyed for three thousand pennies. 
In another, eighty acres were bought for three hundred and 
eighty-five pennies. In another, one thousand four hundred 
and fifty pennies occur.' 

The name for money, which is oftenest met with in the 
charters, is the mancus. On this kind of money we have 

1 Chap. xx!. 10. 

' 3 Gale, Script p. 473. and see 486. 488. 

* AsUe's MS. Chart Nos. 7. 22. 28. 


one curious passage of Elfric : he says, five pennies make one 
shillings and thirty pennies one mancus. ^ This would make 
the mancus six shillings. The passage in the laws of Henrj 
the First intimates the same. '^ Two passages in the Anglch 
Saxon laws seem to confirm Elfric's account of the mancus 
being thirty pennies ; for an ox is valued at a mancus in one, 
and at thirty pence in another. ® 

But there is an apparent contradiction in five pennies making 
a shilling if twelve pennies amounted to the same sum. The 
objection would be unanswerable, but that, by the laws of 
Alfred, it is clear that there were two sorts of pennies, the 
greater and the less ; for the violation of a man's borg was to 
be compensated by five pounds, nuerra peninga, of the larger 

The mark is sometimes mentioned ; this was half a pound, 
according to the authors cited by Du Fresne® ; it is stated to 
be eight ounces by Aventinus.^ 

The money mentioned in our earliest law consists of shil- 
lings, and a minor sum called scastta. In the laws of Ina, 
the pening occurs, and the pund as a weight. In those of 
Alfred, the pund appears as a quantity of money^ as well as 
the shilling and the penny; but the shilling is the usual 
notation of his pecumary punishments. In his treaty with 
the Danes, the half-mark of gold, and the mancus, are the 
names of the money ; as is the ora in the Danish compact 
with Edward. In the laws of Athelstan, we find the thrymsa, 
as well as the shilling and the penny; the scastta and the 
pund. The shilling, the penny, and the pound, appear under 
Edgar. The ora and the healfmarc pervade the Northumbrian 
laws. In the time of Ethelred, the pound is frequently the 
amount of the money noticed. The shilling and penny, the 
healf-marc, and the ora also occur. *® 

The Anglo-Saxon wills that have survived to us mention 
the following money : In the archbishop Elfric's will we find 
five pundum, and fifty mancusan of gold." In Wynflasd's 
will, the mancass of gold, the pund, the healfes pundes wyrthne, 
and sixty pennega wyrth, are noticed. In one part she de- 

« Hickes, Diss. Ep. 109. and Wan. Cat MS. 113. 

* Debent reddi secundum legem triginta solidi ad Manbotam, id est, hodie 
6 manes. Wilk. p. 265. So p. 249. 

' Wilk. p. 65. and ] 26. Tet this passage is not decisive, because the other 
accompanying valuations do not correspond. 

» Ibid. 35. • Du Fresne, Gloss. IL p. 437. 

• Ann. Boi. lib. vi. p. 524. 

>" See Wilklns, Leges Anglo-Sax. passim. 
» MS. Cott CUud. B. 6. p. 103. 


sires that there should be put, in a cup which she bequeaths, 
healf pund penega> or half a pound of pennies. In another 
part she mentions sixteen mancusum of red gold ; also thirty 
penega wyrth. *^ 

In Thurstan's will, twelf pund be getale occurs. In God- 
ric's we perceive a mark of gold, thirteen pounds, and sixty- 
three pennies. *^ In Byrhtric's will, sixty mancos of gold 
and thirty mancys goldes are mentioned ; and several things 
are noticed, as of the value of so many gold mancus. Thus, 
a bracelet of eighty mancysan goldes, and a necklace of forty 
mancysa : a hand sees of three pounds is also bequeathed, and 
tend hund penega. ** 

In Wulfwar's will, the mancus of gold is applied in the 
same way to mark the value of the things bequeathed, and 
also to express money. ** The mancus of gold is the money 
given in Elf helm's will ; in Dux Elfred's, pennies ; in Ethel- 
wryd, both pennies and the pund occur. In Athelstan's 
testament we find the mancosa of gold, the pund of silver, 
the pund be getale, and pennies. ^^ 

In the charters we find pennies, mancusa, pounds, shillings, 
and sicli mentioned. In one we find one hundred sicli of the 
purest gold ^"^ ; and in another, four hundred sicli in pure 
silver. *^ In a third, fifteen hundred of shillings in silver are 
mentioned, as if the same with fifteen hundred sicli. ^^ The 
shilling also at another time appears as if connected with 
gold, as seventy shillings of auri obrizi.^ Once we have 
two pounds of the purest gold. ^* The expressions of pure 
gold, or the purest gold, are often added to the mancos. 

That the pound was used as an imaginary value of money, 
is imdoubted. One grant says, that an abbot gave in money 
quod valuit, what was of the value of one hundred and 
twenty pounds. ^^ Another has four pound of lic-wyrthes 
feos*^, which means money or property agreeable to the 
party receiving it. We read also of fifteen pounds of silver, 
gold, and chattels^; also sixty pounds in pure gold and 
silver. ^ Sometimes the expression occurs, which we still use 
in our deeds, " One hundred pounds of lawful money. ^^ ^ 

As no Anglo-Saxon gold coins have reached modem 

» Hlcke«, Gram. Praf. ^ Hlckes, Diss. Ep. 29, 30. 

" Ibid. p. 51. " Ibid. p. 51. 

M Sax. Diet App. *' The late Mr. Astle's MS. Charters, No. 10. 

« App. to Bede, p. 770. » MS. Claud. C. 9. 

» Mr. Astle's Charters, No. 28. b. " Ibid. p. 25. 

« MS. Claud. C. 9. " Hemlng. Chart p. ISa 

*♦ 3 Gale, p. 410. * Hemlng. Chart. p.S. 

» IngiUf, p. 36. 

428 APPENDIX, n. 

times, though of their silver coinage we have nomeroiis spe- 
cimens, it is presumed by antiquaries that none were ever 
made. Yet it is certain that they had plenty of gold, and it 

GrpetuaUy formed the medium of their purchases and gifts. 
7 belief is, that gold was used in the concerns of life, in an 
uncoined state ^, and to such a species of gold money I 
would refer such passages as these : fifty *' mancussa asodenea 
gold," '^ sexies viginti marcarum auri pondo," '^ appensnrun 
novem librarum purissimi auri juxta magnum pondus Nor- 
manorum," '^ eighty mancusa auri purissimi et sex pondus 
elccti argenti,^ " duo uncias auri." I think that silver also 
was sometimes passed in an uncoined state, from such inti- 
mations as these : " twa pund mere hwites seolfres," and the 
above mentioned ''sex pondus electi argentL" The expressions 
that pervade Domesday-book imply, in my apprehension, these 
two species of money, the coined and the uncoined. Seventy 
libras pensatas, like two uncias auri, are obviously money by 
weight. But money ad numerum, or arsurum, I interpret to 
be coined money ; also the pund be getale. The phrases, sex 
libras ad pensum et arsuram et triginta libras arsas et pensatas, 
appear to me to express the indici^ted weight of coined money. 
The words arsas and arsuram I understand to allude to the 
assay of coin in the mint. 

Whether the mancus was, like the pund, merely a weight, 
and not a coin, and was applied to express, in the same 
manner as the word pound, a certain quantity of money, 
coined or uncoined, I cannot decide ; but I incline to think 
that it was not a coin. Indeed there is one passage which 
shows that it was a weight, ''duas bradiolas aureas fabre- 
factas quas pensarent xlv mancusas." ^ I consider the two 
sorts of pennies as the only coins of the Anglo-Saxons above 
their copper coinage, and am induced to regard all their other 
denominations of money as weighed or settled quantities of 
uncoined metal. ^ 

That money was coined by the Anglo-Saxons in the oc- 
tarchy, and in every reign afterwards, is dear from those 
which remain to us. Most of them have the mint-master's 
name. It does not appear to me certain, that they had 
coined money before their invasion of England, and con- 

" One coin has been adduced as a Saxon gold coin. See Pegge*s Remaina. 
But its pretensions bave not been admitted. 

* Heming. Chart p. 86. 

* It ifl the belief of an antiquarian friend, who has paid much attention to this 
WtHaiiKt, that even the Saxon scyllinga was a nominal coin ; as he assures me no 
tfivnr coin of that Talne has been found which can be referred to the Saxon times. 


It was one of Athelstan's laws^ that there should be one 
coinage in all the king's districts^ and that no mint should be 
outside the gate. If a coiner was found guilty of fraud, his 
hand was to be cut oflP, and fastened to the mint smithery.** 
In the time of Edgar, the law was repeated, that the king's 
coinage should be uniform ; it was added, that no one should 
refuse it, and that it should measure like that of Winchester.** 
It has been mentioned of Edgar, that finding the value of the 
coin in his reign much diminished by the fraud of clipping, 
he had new coins made all over England. 

We may add a few particulars of the coins which occur in 
Domesday-book. Sometimes a numeration is made very 
similar to our own, as 11/. 13«. 4(f. Sometimes pounds and 
sometimes shillings are mentioned by themselves. In other 
places some of the following denominations are inserted : 

Una marka argenti, 

Tres markas auri, 

Novem uncias auri, 

c solidos et unam imciam auri, 

xxiv libras et unciam auri, 

XX libras et unam unciam auri, et un. marcum, 

XXV libras ad pond, 

1 libras appretiatas, 

xiv libras arsas et pensatas, et v libras ad numerum, 

cvi libras arsas et pensatas, et x libras ad numerum, 

xxii libras de alb. denariis, ad pensum hujus comitis, 

xvi libras de albo argento, 

xlvii libras de albo argento xvi denariis minus, 

xxiii lib. denar. de xx in ora, 

XV lib. de xx in ora, 

iii solid, de den. xx in ora, et xxvi denar. ad numerum, 

V oris argenti, 

i denarium, 

i obolum, 

i quadrantem, 

viii libras et xx denar. '* 

» Wilk. I^g. Sax. p. 59. " Ibid. p. 78. 

^ The meaning of anas and arsuram, as applied to money, is explained in the 
Black Book of the Exchequer to be the assay of money. The money might be 
sufficient in number and weight, yet not in quality. It by no means followed 
that twenty shillings, which constituted a pound weight, was, in fact, a pound of 
silver, because copper or other metal might be intermixed when there was no 
examination. For this reason, the books say that the bishop of Salisbury insti- 
tuted the arsura in the reign of Henry the First It is added, that if the examined 
money was found to be deficient above sixpence in the pound, it was not deemed 
lawful money of the king. Liber Niger Scacarii, cited by Du Cange, Oloss. I. 
p. 343. The bishop cannot, however, have invented the arsura in the reign of 


It seems reasonable to say, that such epithets as purissimi 
auri and assodenes gold, that is, melted gold, refer to money 
paid and melted. 

But if the Saxon silver coins were only the larger and 
smaller pennies, what then was the scyllinga? In the trans- 
lation of Genesis, the word is applied to express the Hebrew 
shekels.'* In the New Testament, thirty pieces of silver, 
which the Gothic translates by the word siXi^bkin, or silver^ 
the Saxon version calls scyllinga.*^ 

The etymology of the word scyllinga would lead us to 
suppose it to have been a certain quantity of uncoined silver; 
for, whether we derive it from pcylan, to divide, or pceale, a 
scale, the idea presented to us by either word is the same ; 
that is, so much silver out off, as in China, and weighing so 

I would therefore presume the scyllinga to have been a 
quantity of silver, which, when coined, yielded five of the 
larger pennies, and twelve of the smaller. 

The Saxon word scaBt or sceatt, which occurs in the earliest 
laws as a small definite quantity of money, is mostly used to 
express money generally. I would derive it from fceat:, a 
part or division; and I think it meant a definite piece of 
metal originally in the uncoined state. The sceat and the 
scyllinga seem to have been the names of the Saxon money 
in the Pagan times, before the Boman and French eccle- 
siastics had taught them the art of coining. 

The value of the scaet in the time of Ethelbert would 
appear, from one sort of reasoning, to have been the twen- 
tieth part of a shilling. His laws enjoin a penalty of twenty 

Henry, because Domesday-book shows that it was known in the time of the Con- 
queror. In Domesday-book it appears that the king had this right of assay only 
in a few places. Perhaps the bishop, in a subsequent reign, extended it to all 
money paid into the exchequer. 

An intelligent friend has favoured me with the following extract from Domes- 
day : ** Totum manerium T. R. £. et post valuit xl libras. Modo similiter zl lib. 
Tamen reddit 1 lib. ad arsuram et pensum, qus valent Ixv lib.'* Domesday, vol. L 
fo. 1 5. b. This passage seems to express, that 65/. of coined money was only 
worth bOL in pure silver, according to the assay of the mint. Whether this de- 
preciation of the coin existed in the Saxon times, or whether it followed firom the 
disorders and exactions of the Norman conquest, I have not ascertained. 

" See Genesis, in Thwaite's Heptateuch. 

** Matthew, xxvii. 3. The following circumstance confirms my idea that the 
Anglo-Saxons used divided money. In January, 1832, some labourers, felling a 
pollard oak on the estate of Mrs. Shephard of Campsey Ash in Suffolk, discovered 
two parcels of ancient coins enclosed in thin lead cases ; one of them was quite 
imbedded in the solid part of the root They are chiefly pennies of Edward the 
Confessor and Harold U. Many are divided into halves and quarters, which show 
that these divided parts were circulated as balance and fiurthings. Bury Herald, 
Lit. Gas. 11th Feb. 1832. 


Bcyllinga for the loss of the thumb, and three scyllinga for 
the thumb-nail. It is afterwards declared that the loss of 
the great toe is to be compensated by ten scyllinga, and the 
other toes by half the price of the fingers. It is immediately 
added, that for the nail of the great toe thirty sceatta must 
be paid to bot.^ 

Now as the legislator expresses that he is estimating the 
toes at half the value of the fingers, and shows that he does 
so in fixing the compensation of the thumb and the great 
toe, we may infer, that his thirty sceattas for the nail of the 
great toe were meant to be equal to half of the three scyllinga 
which was exacted for the thumb-nail. According to this 
reasoning, twenty sceatta equalled one scyllinga. 

About three centuries later, the scaetta appears somewhat 
raised in value, and to be like one of their smaller pennies ; 
for the laws of JEthelstan declare thirty thousand scsetta to 
be cxx punda. * This gives two hundred and fifty sceatta 
to a pound, or twelve and a half to a scyUinga. Perhaps, 
therefore, the sceat was the smaller penny, and the pening, 
properly so called, was the larger one. 

We may be curious to enquire into the etymology of the 
pening. The word occurs for coin in many countries. In 
the Franco-theotisc, it occurs in Otfrid as pfenning ^ ; and 
on the continent one gold pfenning was decared to be worth 
ten silver pfennings.^ It occiurs in Icelandic, in the ancient 
Edda, as penning.^ 

The Danes stiU use penge as their term for money or coin; 
and if we consider the Saxon penig as their only silver coin, 
we may derive the word from the verb punian, to beat or 
knock, which may be deemed a term applied to metal coined, 
similar to the Latin, cudere.^® 

That the Anglo-Saxons did not use coined money before 
the Koman ecclesiastics introduced the custom, is an idea 
somewhat warranted by the expression they applied to coin. 
This was mynet, a coin, and from this, mynetian, to coin, and 
mynetere, a person coining. These words are obviously the 
Latin moncta and monetarius ; and it usually happens that 
when one nation borrows such a term from another, they are 

» Wilkins, Leg. Anglo-'Sax. p. 6. " Ibid. p. 72. 

" It Is used by Otfrid, 1. 3. c. U.^p. 188. 

* I. Alem. prov. c 299. cited by Schlltcr in his Glossary, P- 667. 
"> ^gis drecka, ap. Edda Ssmundi, p. 168. 

* Schlltcr has quoted an author who gives a similar etymology firom another 
language, <* Paenings nomine pecunla tantum numerata significat, a pana, quod est 
cuderc, signare." Gloss. Teut. p. 657. 

432 APPEin>ix, II. 

indebted to the same source for the knowlege of the thing 
which it designates. 

An expression of Bede once induced me to doubt, if it did 
not imply a Saxon gold coin. He says that a lady, foretell- 
ing her death, described that she was addressed in a Tision 
by some men, who said to her, that they were come to take 
with them the aureum numisma (meaning herself) which 
had come thither out of Kent. This complimentary trope 
Alfred translates by the expressions, gyldene mynet.** 

The passage certainly proves, that both Bede and Alfred 
knew of gold coins ; and it certainly can be hardly doubted, 
that when gold coins circulated in other parts of Europe, 
some from the different countries would find their way into 
England. The use of the word aureos, in the Historia Eli- 
ensis, implies gold coin ^^ ; and that coins called aurei were 
circulated in Europe, is clear from the journal of the monka 
who travelled from Italy to Egypt in the* ninth or tenth 
century. In this they mention that the master of the ship 
they sailed in charged them six aureos for their passage.*' 
But whether these aurei were those coined at Rome or Con- 
stantinople, or were the coins of Germany or France, or 
whether England really issued similar ones from its mint, no 
authority, yet known, warrants us to decide. 

That the pennies of different countries varied in value, is 
proved by the same journaL Bernard, its author^ affirms 
that it was then the custom of Alexandria to take money by 
weight, and that six of the solidi and denarii, which they took 
with them, weighed only three of those at Alexandria.** 

The silver penny was afterwards called, in the Norman 
times, an esterling, or sterling; but the time when the word 
began to be applied to money is not known.** 

There has been a variety of opinions about the value of 
the Saxon pound.*^ We have proof, from Domesday, that 
in the time of the Confessor it consisted of twenty solidi or 
shillings. But Dr. Hickes contends that the Saxon pound 

** Bede, 1, 3. c. 8. and Transl. p. 631. 

^ Laureos, p. 485. x aureos, ib. Izxx aureis, p. 484. c aureos, p. 486. 

*■ See before, p. 140. ** Jbld. 

** The laws of Edward L order the penny of England to be round, without 
clipping, and to weigh thirty-two grains of wheat, in the middle of the ear. 
Twenty of these were to make an ounce, and twelve ounces a pound. Spelm. 
Gloss, p. 241. 

*• The Welsh laws of Iloel dda use punt or pund as one of their terms for 
money. They have also the word ariant, which means literally silver, and 
ceiniawg; both these seem to imply a penny. See Wotton's Leges WallicK, p. 16. 
20, 21. 27. Their word for a coin is bath. 


consisted of sixty shillings*', because, by the Saxon law in 
Mercia, the king's were gild was one hundred and twenty 
pounds, and amounted to the same as six thegns, whose were 
was twelve hundred shillings each.** And certainly this 
passage has the force of declaring that the king's were was 
seven thousand two hundred shillings, and that these were 
equivalent to one hundred and twenty pounds ; and accord- 
ing to this passage, the pound in Mercia contained sixty 
shillings. Other authors*^ assert that the pound had but 
forty-eight shillings. 

We have mentioned that a scyllinga, or shilling, consisted 
of five gi-eater pennies, or of twelve smaller ones. But in 
the time of the Conqueror the English shilling had but four 
pennies: "15 solz de solt Engleis co estquer deners."*® 
This passage occurs in the Conqueror's laws. It has been 
ingeniously attempted to reconcile these contradictions, by 
supposing that the value of the shilling was that which varied, 
and that the pound contained sixty shillings of four pennies 
in a shilling, or forty-eight shillings of five pennies in a shil- 
ling. *^ To which we may add, twenty shillings of twelve 
pence in a shilling. These different figures, respectively mul- 
tiplied together, give the same amount of two hundred and 
forty pennies in a pound. Yet though this supposition is 
plausible, it cannot be true, if the shilling was only a nominal 
€um, like the pound, because such variations as these attach to 
coined money, and not the terms merely used in numeration. 

The styca, the helfling, and the feorthling, are also men- 
tioned. The styca and feorthling are mentioned in a passage 
in Mark. " The poor widow threw in two etycas, that is 
feorthling peninges, or the fourth part of a penny." *^ The 
helfling occurs in Luke: "Are not two sparrows sold for 
a helflinge ? " *^ We cannot doubt that these were copper 

The thrymsa is reckoned by Hickes to be the third part of 
a shilling, or four pence. ** Yet the passage which makes 
the king's were thirty thousand scaetta, compeared with the 
other which reckons it as thirty thousand thrymsas **, seems to 
express that the thrymsa and the scaetta were the same. 

On this dark subject of the Anglo-Saxon coinage, we must 

*' Hickes, Dissert. £p. p. 111. « Wilkins, Leg. AngU»-Sax. p. 72. 

^ As Camden, Spelman, and Fleetwood. 

** Wilkins, Leg. Anglo-Saz. p. 221. In the copy of these laws in Ingulf, p. S9. 
the expression is quer btner deners, or four better pennies. 

** Clarke's preface to Wotton's Leges Walllcaj, 

^ Mark, chap. xii. 42. '■■ Luke, chap. xii. 6. 

" Hickes, Diss. Ep. »* Wilkins, Leg. Anglo-Sax. p 72. and 71. 



however confess, that the clouds which have long surrounded 
it have not yet been removed. The passages in Alfred^s and 
in the Conqueror's laws imply that there were two sorts of 
pennies, the maerra or bener pennies, and the smaller ones. 
We have many Anglo-Saxon silver coins of these species; 
but no others. 

Some ecclesiastical persons, as well as the king, and several 
places, had the privilege of coining. In the laws of ^Ethelstan, 
the places of the mints in his reign are thus enumerated : 

" In Canterbury there are seven myneteras ; four of the king's, 
two of the bishop's, and one of the abbot's. 

** In Rochester there are three ; two of the king, and one of the 

In London eight, 

In Winchester six, 

In Lewes two. 

In Hastings one, 

Another in Chichester, 

In Hampton two, 

In Wareham two. 

In Exeter two. 

In Shaftesbury two, 

Elsewhere one in the other burgs." *^ 

In Domesday-book we find these monetarii mentioned : 

Two at Dorchester, 
One at Bridport, 
Two at Wareham, 
Three at Shaftesbury. 

Each of these gave to the king twenty shillings and one 
mark of silver when money was coined. 

The monetarii at Lewes paid twenty shillings each. 

One Suetman is mentioned as a monetarius in Oxford. 

At Worcester, when money was coined, each gave to Lon- 
don fifteen shillings for cuneis to receive the money. 

At Hereford there were seven monetarii, of whom one was 
the bishop's. When money was renewed, each gave eighteen 
shillings^ pro cuneis recipiendis ; and for one month from the 
day in which they returned, each gave the king twenty shil- 
lings, and the bishop had the same of his man. When the 
king went into the city, the monetarii were to make as many 
pennies of his silver as he pleased. The seven in this city 
had their sac and soc When the king's monetarius died^ the 

^ Wilkins, Leg. Anglo- Sax. p. 59. 



king had his heriot : and if he died without dividing his estate^ 
the king had all. 

Huntingdon had three monetarii, rendering thirty shillings 
between the king and comes. 

In Shrewsbury the king had three monetarily who, after 
they had bought the cuneos monetae^ as other monetarii of 
the country, on the fifteenth day gave to the king twenty 
shillings each: and this was done when the money was 

There was a monetarius at Colchester. 

At Chester there were seven monetarii, who gave to the 
king and comes seven pounds extra firmam, when money was 
turned. *^ 

" For these, see Domesday-book, under tiie different places. 

In April 1817, a plougbman working in a field near Dorking, in Surrey, struck 
his plough against a wooden box which was found to contain nearly seven hundred 
Saxon silver coins, or pennies, of the following kings : 

Ethel weard of Wessex, IS Edmund £. AngL 3 

Ethelstan Do. 3 

Ceolneth A. R Cant 86 

Eegbeorht Wess. 20 

Ethelwulf 265 

Ethelbearth 249 

Pepin K. of Soissons 1 

with about forty more that were dispersed. See Mr. T. Coombe's letter in 
Archol. V. xix. p. 110. 

But the Annals of the coinage, by the late Rev. R. Ruding, give the best account 
and plates of the Anglo-Saxon Coins. 

Since this work was published, about the beginning of this year, 1 820, a number 
of old silver coins, nine silver bracelets, and a thick silver twine, were found by a 
peasant, on digging a woody field in Bolstads Socked, in Sweden. Of the legible 
coins, eighty-seven were Anglo-Saxon ones. Eighty-three of these bear the date 
of 1 005, and are of king Ethelred*s reign : and two of them of his father's, king 
Edgar. The king of Sweden has purchased them ; and they are now deposited in 
the Royal Cabinet of Antiquities at StockholRL 

Ceolulf of Mercia, 


Biomwulf Do. 


Wiglaf Do. 


Berhtulf Do. 


Burgred Do. 


FF 2 


No. III. 

The History of the Laws of the Anglo-Saxons. 


To trace the principles on which the laws of various nations 
have been formed, has been at all times an interesting object 
of intellectual exertion ; and as the legislation of the more 
polished periods of states is much governed by its ancient 
institutions, it will be important to consider the principles on 
which our Anglo-Saxon forefathers framed their laws to 
punish public wrongs, and to redress civil injuries. 

There are three characters of transgression, under which 
the objectionable actions of mankind may be classed : Vices, 
CRiM£S, and sin. 

They are frequently intermingled, and rarely stand dis- 
tinct. Each commonly leads to the others, and they are re- 
peatedly seen to run into each other. But by a more exact 
discrimination of their individual nature, and of their general 
character, we may consider those actions more peculiarly as 
VICES, which injure the well-being of the individual, without 
being intentionally directed against the welfare of others ; — 
those as crimes, which unjustly invade the life, property, 
liberty, and happiness of our fellow creatures ; — - and those 
as SIN, which are offences committed against our Maker, or 
in violation of His promulgated laws, and revealed wiU, or 
which are considered and represented by Him to have this 
displeasing and dangerous character in His estimation; of 
which He alone is the proper judge, and on which we can 
know nothing but from his information. 

Sin is the proper subject of the consideration of the reli- 
gious instructor and philosopher; and vices, of the ethical 
treatises of the moral reasoner. But crimes are the express 
objects of all human legislation. It is against them that laws 


are more especially made ; and to repress them is the main 
principle and primary cause of all human government. 

The Deity Himself takes cognizance of sin ; appoints its 
punishment, and provides its remedies. Vices chastise them- 
selves by the disgrace and evil which they always, in time, 
produce, by their own agency, on those who will practise 
them. But cbimes have every where, by the common con- 
sent of all mankind, in all ages, and from an experienced 
conviction of the necessity or expediency of the reprehension, 
been taken out of individual liberty and choice, and made, by 
special laws, the subject of decided prohibition, of personal 
infamy, of social aversion, and of penal suffering. 

Nations have, indeed, at different periods of their political 
course, marked different actions with their legislative brand ; 
and neither the censure nor the deterring severity has been 
the same in every country of our many-peopled globe. But 
in all, some actions have been stamped as crime by their 
unwritten or written law ; and of these foub descriptions of 
human offence have been universally, more or less, forbidden 
and punished. 

These four offences, which have been every where con- 
sidered as crimes, though often with some modifications, 
varying with the manners of the age and place, are homi- 
cide, PERSONAL injuries, THEFT, and ADULTERY; and 
we shall select these as the fittest heads under which we can 
exhibit the main principles of the criminal law of our Anglo* 
Saxon ancestors. 

Their Laws on Homicide. 

The principle of pecuniary punishment distinguishes the 
laws of the Anglo-Saxons, and of all the German nations. 
Whether it arose from the idea, that the punishment of crime 
should be attended with satisfaction to the state, or with some 
benefit to the individual injured, or his family, or his lord; 
or whether, in their fierce dispositions and warring habits^ 
death was less dreaded as an evil than poverty ; or whether 
the great were the authors of most of the crimes committed^ 
and it was easier to make them responsible in their property 
than in their lives, we cannot at this distant aera decide. 

The Saxons made many distinctions in homicides. But 

all rauKS of men were not of equal value in the eye of the 

Saxon law, nor their lives equally worth protecting. The 

Saxons had therefore established many nice distinctions in 

this respect. Our present legislation considers the life of one 

man as sacred as that of another, and will not admit the 

F p 3 


CHAP, degree of the crime of murder to depend on the rank or pro- 
I- perty of the deceased. Hence a peasant is now as secured 
from wilful homicide as a nobleman. It was otherwise among 
the Saxons. 

The protection which every man received was a curious 
exhibition of legislative arithmetic. Every man was valued 
at a certain sum, which was called his were ; and whoever 
took his life, was punished by having to pay this were. 

The were was the compensation allotted to the family or 
relations of the deceased for the loss of his life. But the 
Saxons had so far advanced in legislation, as to consider 
homicide as public as well as private wrong. Hence, besides 
the redress appointed to the family of the deceased, another 
pecuniary fine was imposed on the murderer, which was 
called the wite. This was the satisfaction to be rendered to 
the community for the public wrong which had been com- 
mitted. It was paid to the magistrate presiding over it, and 
varied according to the dignity of the person in whose juris- 
diction the ofience was committed ; twelve shillings was the 
payment to an eorl, if the homicide occurred in his town, and 
fifty were forfeited to the king if the district were under the 
regal jurisdiction. ^ 

In the first Saxon laws which were committed to writing, 
or which have descended to us, and which were established 
in the beginning of the 7th century, murder appears to have 
been only punishable by the were and the wite, provided the 
homicide was not in the servile state. If an esne, a slave, 
killed a man, even " unsinningly," it was not, as with us, 
esteemed an excusable homicide ; it was punished by the 
forfeiture of all that he was worth. ^ A person so punished 
presents us with the original idea of a felon ; we consider 
this word to be a feo-lun, or one divested of all property. 

In the laws of Ethelbert the were seems to have been uni- 
form. These laws state a meduman Icod-gelde, a general 
penalty for murder, which appears to have been 100 shillings * 
The differences of the crime arising from the quality of the 
deceased, or the dignity of the magistrate within whose juris- 
diction it occuiTcd, or the circumstances of tlie action^ were 
marked by differences of the wite rather than of the were. The 
wite in a king's town was fifty shillings ; in an earl's twelve. 
If the deceased was a freeman, the wite was fifty shiUin^rs 
to the king as the drichtin, the lord or sovereign of the land. 
So, if the act was done at an open grave, twenty shillings was 

> Wilkins, Leg. Saxon, p. 2, 3. 
* WUklns, p. 7. • Ibid. p. 2. 


the wite ; if the deceased was a ceorl, six shillings was the chap. 
wite. If a laec killed the noblest guest, eighty shillings was the ^ 
wite ; if the next in rank, sixty ; if the third, forty shillings/ ' 

The wite and the leod gelde were to be paid by the mur- 
derer from his own property, and with good money. But if 
he fled from justice, his relations were made responsible 
for it.* 

The Saxon law-makers so far extended their care as 
to punish those who contributed to homicide by introducing 
weapons among those who were quarrelling. Twenty shillings 
composed the wite.^ 

The usual time for the payment of the wite and were is not 
stated ; but forty days is mentioned in one case as the ap- 
pointed period.^ 

As the order and civilisation of the Anglo-Saxon society 
increased, a greater value was given to human life, and the 
penalties of its deprivation were augmented. 

The first increase of severity noticed was against the esne, 
the servile. Their state of subjection rendered them easy in- 
strunients of their master's revenge; and it was therefore 
found proper to make some part of their punishment extend to 
their owner. Hence, if any man's esne killed a man of the 
dignity of an eorl, the owner was to deliver up the esne, and 
make a pecuniary payment adequate to the value of three 
men. If the murderer escaped, the price of another man was 
exacted from the lord, and he was required to show by suffi- 
cient oaths, that he could not catch him. Three hundred 
shillings were also imposed as the compensation. If the esne 
killed a freeman, one hundred shillings were the penalty, the 
price of one man, and the delivery of the homicide ; or if he 
fled, the value of two men, and purgatory oaths.® 

A succeeding king exempted the killer of a thief from the 
payment of his were.* This, however, was a mitigation that 
was capable of great abuse, and therefore Ina required oath 
that the thief was killed ** sinning," or in the act of stealing, 
or in the act of flying on account of the theflb. *® 

Humanity dictated further discrimination. A vagrant in 
the woods, out of the highway, who did not cry out or sound 
his horn (probably to give public notice of his situation), 
might be deemed a thief, and slain ^^ ; and the homicide, by 
affirming that he slew lum for a thief, escaped all penalties. 
It was, however, wisely added, that if the fact was concealed, 

* Wilklns, p. 1—7. » Ibid. p. 3. • Ibid. 

' Ibid. • Ibid. p. 7. 8. » Ibid. p. 12. 

"» Ibid. p. 17. 20. " Ibid. p. 12. 

pp 4 


CHAP, and not made known till long time after, the relations of the 
^* slave should be permitted to show that he was guiltless J* Mis- 
*"""""* take or malice was further guarded against by requiring that 

where a homicide had killed the thief in the act of flying, yet if 
he concealed the circumstance he should pay the penalties. '' 
The concealing was construed to be presumptive proof of an 
unjustifiable homicide. Modem law acts on a similar pre- 
sumption, when it admits the hiding of the body to be an in- 
dication of felonious discretion in an infant-murderer, between 
the age of seven and fourteen. 

In the days of Ina, the were, or protecting valuation of an 
individual's life, was not uniform. The public were arranged 
into classes, and each class had an appropriated were. 

Hank and property seem to have been the criterion of the 
estimation. The were of some in Ina's time was thirty shil- 
lings: of others, 120; of others, 200.*^ The same principle 
of protection, and of discriminating its pecuniary valuation, 
was applied to foreigners. The were of a Welshman, who 
was proprietor of a hide of land, was 120 shillings ; if he had 
but half that quantity, it was 80 ; and if he had none, it was 
60.^^ Hence it appears, that the wealthier a man was, the 
more precious his life was deemed. This method of regu- 
lating the enormity of the crime by the property of the de- 
ceased, was highly barbarous. It diminished the safety of 
the poor, and gave that superior protection to wealth which 
all ought equally to have shared. 

The were, or compensatory payment, seems to have been 
made to the relations of the defunct. As the exaction of the 
wite, or fine to the magistrate, kept the crime from appearing 
merely as a civil injury, this application of the were was 
highly equitable. But if the deceased was in a servile state, 
the compensation seems to have become the property of the 
lord. On the murder of a foreigner, two-thirds of the were 
went to the king, and one-third only to his son or rela- 
tions: or, if no relations, the king had one half, and tlie 
gild-scipe, or fraternity to which he was associated, received 
the other.*® 

The curious and singular social phenomenon of the gild- 
scipes, we have already alluded to. The members of these 
gilds were made to a certain degree responsible for one 
another's good conduct. They were, in fact, so many bail 
for each other. Thus, in Alfred's laws, if a man who had 
no paternal relations killed another, one-third of the were of 

» Wilklns p. 18. » Ibid. p. 20. >« JhUl p. 25. 

>* Ibid. p. 20. »• Ibid. p. 18. 


the slain was to be paid by the maternal kinsman, and one- chap. 
third by the gild ; and if there were no maternal kinsmen, ^• 
the gild |)aid a moiety. On the other hand, the gild had 
also the benefit of receiving one-half the were, if such a man 
of their society was killed.*' 

The principle of making a man*s society amenable for his 
legal conduct was carried so far, that by Ina's law, every one 
who was in the company where a man was killed, was re- 
quired to justify himself from the act, and all the company 
were required to pay a fourth part of the were of the de- 

The same principle was established by Alfred in illegal 
associations. If any man with a predatory band should slay 
a man of the valuation of twelve hundred shillings, the 
homicide was ordered to pay both his were and the wite, and 
every one of the band was fined thirty shillings for being in 
such an association. If the guilty individual were not 
avowed, the whole band were ordered to be accused, and to 
pay equally the were and the wite.*^ 

The Anglo-Saxons followed the dictates of re<isoa in 
punishing in homicide those whom we now call accessories 
before the fact. Thus, if any one lent his weapons to 
another to kill with them, both were made responsible for 
the were. If they did not choose to pay it in conjunction, 
the accessory was charged with one-third of the were and 
the wite. ^^ A pecuniary fine was imposed on the master of 
a mischievous dog. ^* 

Excusable homicide was not allowed to be done with im- 
punity. If a man so carried a spear as that it should destroy 
any individual, he was made amenable for the were, but 
excused from the witc.*^ 

Thus stood the laws concerning murder, up to the days of 
Alfred. The compact between his son Edward and Guthrun 
made a careful provision for the punctual payment of the 
were. The homicide was required to produce for this pur- 
pose the security of eight paternal and four maternal re- 
lations. ^ 

In the reign of Edmund, an imi)ortant improvement took 
place. The legal severity against murder was increased on 
the head of the offending individual ; but his kindred were 
guarded from the revenge of the family of the deceased. If 
the full were was not discharged within twelve months, the 

" Wilkins, p. 41. " Ibid. p. 20. » Ibid. p. 40. 

» Ibid. p. 39. " Ibid. p. 40. « Ibid. p. 42. 

« Ibid. p. 64. 

442 APPENDIX, m. 

relations of the criminal were exempted from hostility, but 
on the condition that they afforded him neither food nor pro- 
tection. If any supported him, he became what* would now 
be termed an accessory after the fact; he forfeited to the 
king all his property, and was also exposed to the enmity of 
the relations of the deceased. The king also forbad any 
wite or homicide to be remitted.^ And whoever revenged 
an homicide on any other than the criminal, was declared the 
enemy of the king and his own friend, and forfeited his pos- 
sessions. The reason alleged by the sovereign for these and 
his other provisions was, that he was weary of the unjust 
and manifold fights which occurred.^* The object was to 
extinguish that species of revenge which became afterwards 
known under the name of deadly feud. This was the fsehthe, 
the enmity which the relations of the deceased waged against 
the kindred of the murderer. 

Though the wite was all the penalty that society exacted 
to itself for murder, and the were all the pecuniary com- 
pensation that was permitted to the family, yet we must not 
suppose that murder was left without any other punishment 
There seems reason to believe, that what has been called the 
deadly feud existed amongst them. The relations of the 
deceased avenged themselves, if they could, on the murderer 
or his kinsmen. The law did not allow it. The system of 
wites and weres tended to discountenance it, by requiring 
pecuniary sacrifices on all homicides, and of course on those 
of retaliation as well as others. But as all that the law 
exacted was the fine and the compensation, individuals were 
left at liberty to glut their revenge, if they chose to pay 
for it. 

But this spirit of personal revenge was early restricted. 
Ina's laws imposed a penalty of thirty shillings, besides 
compensation, if any one took his own revenge before he had 
demanded legal redress.^ So Alfred's laws enjoined, that 
if any one knew that his enemy was sitting at home, yet that 
he should not fight with him until he had demanded redress ; 
but he might shut his adversary up, and besiege him for 
seven days if he could. If at the expiration of this time the 
person would surrender himself, he was to have safety for 
thirty days, and to be given up to his friends and relations. 
The ealdorman was to help those who had not power enough 
to form this siege. If the ealdorman refused it, he was to 
ask aid of the king before he fought. So if any one fell 

« Wllklns, p. 73, 74. » Ibid. p. 73. * m± p. 16. 


accidcntallj in with his enemy, yet if the latter was willing chap. 
to surrender himself, he was to have peace for thirty days. ^ 
But if he refused to deliver up his arms, he might be fought 
with immediately.^^ 

If any one took up a thief, he not only had a reward, but 
the relations of the criminal were to swear, that they would 
not take the faehthe, or deadly feud for his apprehension. ^ 
So if any one killed a thief in the act of flying, the relations 
of the dead man were to swear the unccastcs oath ; that is, 
the oath of no enmity, or of not taking the faehthe.^ 

Every man was ordered to oppose the warfsehthc, if he 
was able, or could dare to attempt it.^ 

Edmund the First interfered to check this system of per- 
sonal revenge, with marked severity, as before mentioned. 
He declared that the delinquent should bear his crime on his 
own head : and that if his kinsmen did not save him by 
paying the compensation, they should be protected from all 
fajhthc, provided that they afforded him neither mete nor 
mund, neither food nor shelter. ^^ 

We may add some specimens of the violences which were 
committed in the Anglo-Saxon society in the days of Alfred, 
as our ancient lawyer Home has stated them from the legal 
records of that period, which were subsisting in his time. 

Dirling was the ally of Bardulf, and yet he came and 
ravished his wife, and then killed Hakensen, her father. 
These facts Bardulf declared himself ready to prove upon 
the offender by her body, or as a mayhend (maimed) man, or 
as a woman or a clericus ought to prove. 

Cedde had a house with much com and hay, and Wctod, 
his father, lived in it. But Harding came and set it on Are, 
and burnt Wetod in it. 

Cady was living in peace, when Carlin came, and with a 
sword run him through the body so that he died. 

One Knotting was laying maimed on his bed; another 
came and carried him to a water-ditch, or marl pit, and 
threw him into it, and there left him to die without help or 

Omond had a horse ; Saxmund came and robbed him of it. 

« Wilkins, p. 43, 44. » Ibid. p. 19. 

" Wilkins and Lye call this the unceases oath, which they interpret unmean- 
ingly the oath not select. The reading of the Roff. MS. is unceastes, which U in- 
telligible, and is obviously an expression synonymous with the unftehthc oath 
mentioned in the preceding page. Both passages clearly mean, that the taker and 
killer of the thief were to be absolved from the fichthe of his relations. 

«• Ibid. p. 22. " Ibid. p. 73. 

444 APPENDIX, in. 

CHAP. Ath»lf was living in peace, when Colquin came with 

^ ^ violence, assaulted his house, and broke into it. 

Darliog was also living like a quiet person, but AViloe 
came and arrested him without any right, took him awaj, 
and put him into stocks or in irons. 

So Maiuaword attacked Umbred and cut off his foot. 

Olif with a weapon struck Baming, and w^ounded him, 

Atheling ravished Ameborough. 

These are not stated as unusual actions, or as deeds of the 
refuse of society, but as if occurring amid the ordinary course 
of the offences of the day. 



Personal Injuries. 

The compensation allotted to personal injuries^ arising chap. 
from what modem lawyers would call assault and battery, ^'• 
was curiously arranged. Homer is celebrated for discrimi- ' 
nating the wounds of his heroes with anatomical precision. 
The Saxon legislators were not less anxious to distinguish 
between the different wounds to which the body is liable, 
and which, from their laws, we may infer that they frequently 
suffered. In their most ancient laws these were the punish- 
ments : — 

The loss of an eye or of a leg appears to have been con- 
sidered as the most aggravated injury which could arise from 
an assault ; and was therefore punished by the highest fine, 
or 50 shillings. 

To be made lame was the next most considerable offence, 
and the compensation for it was 30 shilliDgs. 

For a wound that caused deafness, 25 shillings. 

To lame the shoulder, divide the chine-bone, cut off the 
thumb, pierce the diaphragm, or to tear off the hair and frac- 
ture the skull, was each punished by a fine of 20 shillings. 

For breaking the thigh, cutting off the ears, wounding the 
eye or mouth, wounding the diaphragm, or injuring the teeth 
so as to affect the speech, was exacted 12 shillings. 

For cutting off the little finger, 1 1 shillings. 

For cutting off the great toe, or for tearing off the hair 
entirely, 10 shillings. 

For piercing the nose, 9 shillings. 

For cutting off the fore-finger, 8 shillings. 

For cutting off the gold-finger, for every wound in the 
thigh, for wounding the ear, for piercing both cheeks, for 
cutting either nostril, for each of the front teeth, for break- 
ing the jaw bone, for breaking an arm, 6 shillings. 

For seizing the hair so as to hurt the bone, for the loss of 
either of the eye-teeth, or of the middle finger, 4 shillings. 

For pulling the hair so that the bone became visible ; for 
piercing the ear, or one cheek ; for cutting off the thumb- 

446 APPENDIX, 111. 

CHAP, noil, for the first double tooth, for wounding the nose with 
IL the fist, for wounding the elbow, for breaking a rib, or for 
wounding the vertebrae, 3 shillings. 

For every nail (probably of the fingers), and for every 
tooth beyond the first double tooth, 1 shilling. 

For seizing the hair, 50 sca^ttas 

For the nail of the great toe, 30 scaettas. 

For every other nail 10 scaettas. 

To judge of this scale of compensations by modem ex- 
perience there seems to be a gross disproportion, not onij 
between the injury and the compensation, in many instances, 
but also between the different classes of compensation. Six 
shillings is a very inconsiderable recompense for the pain 
and confinement that follows an arm or the jaw-bone broke; 
and it seems absurd to rank in punishment with these serious 
injuries the loss of a front tooth. To value the thumb at a 
higher price than the fingers, is reasonable ; but to estimate 
the little finger at 11 shillings, the great toe at 10 shillings, 
the fore finger at 8 shillings, the ring-finger at 6 shillings, 
and the middle finger at 4 shillings, seems a very capricious 
distribution of recompense. So the teeth seem to have 
been valued on no principle intelligible to us : a front tooth 
was atoned for by 6 shillings, an eye-tooth by 4 shillings, the 
first double tooth 3 shillings, either of the others 1 shilling. 
Why to lame the shoulder should occasion a fine of 20 shil- 
lings, and to break the thigh but 12, and the arm but 6, can- 
not be explained, unless we presume that the surgical skill of 
the day found the cure of the arm easier than of the thigh, 
and that easier than the shoulder.^ 

Alfred made some difference in these compensations, which 
may be seen in his laws.^ 

He also appointed penalties for other personal wrongs. 

If any one bound a ceorl unsinning, he was to pay ten 
shillings, twenty if he whipped him, and thirty if he brought 
him to the pillory. If he shaved him in such a manner as 
to expose him to derision, he forfeited ten shillings, and thirty 
shillings if he shaved him like a priest, without binding him ; 
but if he bound him and then gave him the clerical tonsure, 
the penalty was doubled. Twenty shillings was also the fine 
if any man cut another's beard off. ' These laws prove the 

' Wilklns, p. 4 — 6. In the compensation for the teeth, the iixjuiy to the 
personal appearance seems to have occasioned the severest punishment. The fine 
was heaviest for the loss of the front tooth. 

« Wilklns, p. 44—46. • n)id. p. 42. 


value that was attached to the hair and the beard in the chap. 
Anglo-Saxon society. ^^• 

Alfred also enjoined, that if any man carrying a spear on 
his shoulder pierced another, or wounded his eyes, he paid his 
were, but not a wite. If it was done wilfully, the wite was 
exacted, if he had carried the point three fingers higher than 
the shaft. If the weapon was carried horizontally, he was 
excused the wite.* 

* WUkiof, p. 42. 

448 APPENDIX, m. 


Theft and Robbery, 

CHAP. Theft appears to have been considered as the meet enormous 
^^^' crime, and was, as such, severely punished. If we consider 
felony to be a forfeiture of goods and chattels, theft was 
made felony by the Anglo-Saxons in their earliest law; for 
if a freeman stole from a freeman, the compensation was to 
be threefold ; the king had the wite and all his goods. ^ 

The punishment was made heavier in proportion to the 
social rank of the offender. Thus, while a freeman's th