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Archdeacon. *f Cleveland &" Recto* of Crayke. 


HonTion : 


Founded in truth ; by blood of martyrdom 
Cemented ; by the hands of wisdom reared. 









UEFACK ......... XI 

Ihe ancient British Church ... - , . 1 

The Saxons. Mission of Augustine. Conversion of KeOT 22 


Conversion of Northumbria . . . . . .44 


From the death of King Edwin to the death of Archbishop 

Theodore. Establishment of Christianity . . 59 

._ar-" English Monasteries ...... 87 


Effects of tht Monasteries on Society. Benefits and De 
fects. Pilgrimages and Hermits . . . .106 




Eminent Teachers of the early English Church : Aldhelm, 
oishop of Sher.oi ae ; Aecu, bishop of Hexham ; and 
the Venerable Bede . . . . .132 


Early English Missionaries. Conversion of Friesland 
and Saxony. Wilbrord, first archbishop of Utrecht 
Winfrid, first archbishop of May ence ... 154 


Progress of Arts and Learning among the English Saxons, 
acnool of \ork. Archbishops Egbert and Albert. 
Alcuin and Charlemagne . . . .166 


Short view of the state of the Church at the close of the 
Seven Kingdoms. Reign of Egbert, Ethelwolf, and 
his sons. Inroads of the Danes. Destruction of the 
Cnurches in the North ... , . 183 

Reign of Alfred 203 All. 

From the reign of Alfred to Archbishop Dunstan. Trou 
bles of n,urope and England in the Dark Ages . 




From the reign of Edmund the Elder to Ethelred. Rise 

of the Benedictine Monks, and acts of Dunstah . 236 


Reign of Ethelred. Religious Noblemen of old England. 
Byrthnpt, earl of Essex ; his death. Archbishop 
Elfric. Archbishop Elfege ; his martyrdom. Danish 
reigns, and Edward tlie Confessor . . 215 


Troubles and changes made in the Church by tLe Merman 
Conquest. Last Saxon Bishops ; Aldred, archbishop 
of York ; Wulfstan, bishop of Worcester. William 
the Conqueror, and Lanfranc .... 27* 


Reigns of Rufus, Henry I., and Stephen. Archbishop 
Anstlm and Queen Matilda. Beginning of Popery 
in England. Oppression of Norman Kings and 
Barons. Death of Thurstan .... 297 

Norman Monasteries, and new Religious Orders . . 319 


Becket and Henry II. Stephen Langton and King John. 
The Clergy forbidden to marry. Married Bishops 
nd Priests afterwards ..... , 344 




Popery at its height. Privileged Monasteries. Begging 

Friars. Corruptions. Persecutions . . . 360 


d men in evil times. Bishop Grostete and his Friends, 
t ious Founders of Churches and Colleges. Tyranny 
of Heury VIII. Conclusion . . 431* 


HE aim of the 
writer of the fol 
lowing pages has been, 
by searching the earliest 
records of English his 
tory, to lay before the 
English reader a faithful 
picture of the life and 
manners of his Christian 
forefathers. To write the 
Church -history of Eng- 

land, as it is too often 

written, as if the religion of former days had 
been nothing but superstition on the one side, 
and imposture on the other; as if there had 
been nothing pure or holy from the time of Pope 
Gregory to the Reformation, this would have 


been a much easier task. But inasmucli as tru 
religion is never lost, though it is sometime 
dimly seen, the providence of God being en 
gaged to preserve it in all ages, it is surely 
rather the duty of the Christian to inquire and 
mark how that Providence has from time to time 
raised up faithful witnesses, whose lives and doc 
trine have shone forth even in dark times, and 
whose deeds of mercy have tempered with good 
the evil that is in the world. The eye of the 
worldling or infidel is quick to mark defects; 
but it is a more grateful and profitable exercise 
to discern and trace a character guided by the 
love of virtue and praise. It has, therefore, been 
the aim of the writer, while he has not disguised 
the errors or crimes of former ages, to dwell 
more gladly on the bright days in the calendar, 
on the lives and acts of good and peaceable 
men, who founded churches or religious houses ; 
established schools, and colleges^ and hospitals; 
softened the rudeness of the people s manners, 
improved their laws; and who, while they en 
larged the bounds of the Church, and taught 
the knowledge of the true faith, were also the 
teachers of useful arts, and promoters of indus 
try and happiness in society. 

Many as are the popular Church-histories of 
our country, there is yet none which seems to 
have been written with this aim, to shew ho\f 


from time to time Christianity gained ground 
among our Sax or, Danish, or Norman forefa 
thers ; to point out the changes it wrought in 
governors and people, and how its own condi 
tion was improved or made worse by the changes 
in the sovereignty of the realm. For this it is 
necessary to look much into the records of old 
times, and to dwell not so much on days of 
trouble and public conflict, as on times of quiet 
ness, when the arts of peace had more room to 
shew themselves. And it seems the duty of a 
writer of Church-history to relate many things 
which belong to private and domestic life, from 
which examples of character and manners may 
be drawn; leaving to general history the re 
cords of more public events, good or bad, and 
touching on wars and conquests, victories or de 
feats, only so far as the state of the Church or 
the character of some eminent Christian is con 
cerned in them. 

And this plan is recommended to us by the 
pattern of Scripture. The historical books of 
the Old Testament, which, being the history of 
God s ancient Church, should be the pattern 
for a Christian historian to follow, are as much 
a record of private as of public life. Even of 
those more eminent persons, whose office it was 
to be rulers, or teachers, or reformers of the 
ancient Church, of Moses and David, of Elijah 


and Elisha, we see almost as much in more pri 
vate scenes, as in those public acts, by which 
they guided the people in the way of truth, or 
restored the altars of God. Besides which, some 
portions appear to have been more especially 
written to furnish a view of the state of society 
in peaceful times, when religion had some hold 
upon the daily conduct of men. When we read 
in different parts of the book of Judges, that the 
land had rest forty years, or fourscore years j 1 or 
what is said of those two judges, who presided 
over the tribes of Israel successively for the 
space of fifty years, 2 without any war or public 
disorder recorded ; we are led to suppose that at 
such times the fear of God so far prevailed as to 
preserve the land in peace, and that no scourge 
of war or other judgment was then needed to 
alarm the slothful or destroy the guilty. And 
the pleasing book of Ruth, which immediately 
follows, the time of which is laid during the 
government of the judges, seems intended to 
represent the peaceful order of society and do 
mestic life, which might be found at such a 

There is another common fault in writers 

who treat of distant times. They seize on some 

remarkable instances of great crimes or ferocity 

of manners at a particular period, and take these 

1 Chap. iii. 30, v. 31. * Chap. x. 1-5. 

as proofs of the general character of the age in 
which they occurred: whereas, in many cases, 
if such things had been common, they would 
not have been recorded by the historians of 
those times ; for they would not have been no 
ticed as being remarkable. It is less flattering 
to our own pride, but the more humble view is 
more likely to be true, if we believe that human 
nature does not differ much at one time from 
another; and as we should complain of any one 
who should judge of the manners of our time 
from the crimes of the greatest miscreants, so 
let us believe that robber-knights and squires of 
the highway were not the common sort of old 
English gentlemen in the middle ages. 3 There 
can be no doubt that there were in those times 
which we call most rude, many good men, whose 
manners were refined and hearts softened with 
the spirit of Christian love : of these good men 
not a few are still remembered in the good 
works they have left behind ; of others the me 
morial on earth is lost ; but they did not live 
in vain. And an Englishman has reason to be 
proud of his country, which above all others has 

8 Mr. David Hume, when he records any atrocious deed 
of these ages, commonly sums it up in his history with the 
remark, " Such were the manners of the times." See his 
History of England, chap. xii. 24. If the manners of the 
times had sanctioned such atrocities, we should not find tha 
punishment of the offenders also recorded. 


abounded in offerings of its wealth to the honour 
of God: sometimes it may be that the means 
used were not the best, but the end was noble ; 
it was a noble triumph over self, which led them, 
without sparing for cost, to dedicate their sub 
stance at the altars of their Church. The deeds 
of such public, benefactors are a pattern for all 
times ; they have done more for the good of 
mankind than many warriors and conquerors; 
they are partakers of the blessedness of those 
free givers, who sold their land, and brought 
the money, and laid it at the apostles feet. 4 

One particular institution of the middle ages 
it has been the aim of the writer to set forth in 
a different light from that in which it is usually 
seen, the institution of monasteries and religi 
ous orders. Whatever good or harm there may 
have been in this institution, it is impossible not 
to lament the common misrepresentations which 
have prevailed respecting it. It is impossible 
for a serious mind to suppose that a rule of life 
so early introduced into the Christian Church, 
so approved by the most eminent fathers and 
confessors of those early times, and so long kept 
up in almost every Christian country, can have 
been allowed without some providential purpose. 
It is a great mistake to think that the institution 
of these religious houses was as faulty in its first 

4 Acts ir. 37. 


siate, as alter it was made, in the Western partr 
of Europe, the chief engine for advancing the 
usurpation of the popes of Rome. When this 
kind of Christian discipline arose in the East, 
it was regarded with favour by St. Athanasius, 
St. Basil, St. Chrysostom, and St. Augustine; 
men whose names are mentioned with honour 
in the Prayer-Book and Homilies of the English 
Church, and who will be honoured as long as 
the name of Christianity endures. And it flou 
rished most in times of public disorder ard vio 
lence in later days ; that in such places of refuge 
the oppressed might find shelter, learning and 
useful arts might find exercise, and the spark 
of religion might be kept alive, when it was in 
danger of being put out through the wars and 
tumults, the fierceness and ignorance of man 
kind. It has, therefore, ocen attempted to give 
the English reader a faithful picture of the life 
and manners of these houses and societies, not 
disguising their faults or corruptions, but setting 
forth what is too much forgotten, the many bene 
fits, both to the state and to private life, which 
proceeded from them. 

For authorities on these subjects, the writer 
has had recourse to the earliest records, and 
authors who lived nearest the times of whici 
*.hey treat ; to the Saxon histories and chronicles 
rrom the time of Bade and Akuin, and th* 


Norman from Ingulf, Eadmer, and Malmsbury. 
For access to many stores of English antiquity, 
he is indebted to the kindness of the Dean and 
Chapter of York, who have liberally granted 
him the use of such books as he needed from 
the Minster Library. 

Much help has been derived from the la 
bours of Archbishop Usher, Bishops Tanner, 
Stillingfleet, and Collier, the learned Henry 
Wharton, and the Rev. Henry Soames ; to 
which must be added a work not yet complete, 
but of great value to the knowledge of old Eng 
lish history, Mr. Kemble s collection of Anglo- 
c>axon Charters. The writer has also to express 
his best thanks to his friend the Rev. James C. 
Stafford, Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, 
who furnished him with the use of a manuscript 
Church History of his own preparing, for the 
advancement of this work ; and to the Rev. H. 
B. W. Churton, his brother, for much useful 
information from the Oxford Libraries ; to the 
Rev. John Williams, of Llan Hirnant, near Bala, 
for a letter on the ancient Welch Church ; and 
to many other literary friends. 

The common popular Church-histories have 
been less consulted. Thomas Fuller is a writer 
who will always be a favourite with English 
readers ; but he is rather a humorous moraliser 
ou old history than an historian. He seems 


to have ranged through ancient records to find 
subjects on which he could play off his quaint 
fancies, rather than to record facts ; and though 
his pen is often punted witli moral truth, he 
sometimes sports with historic truth for the 
sake of a droll thought, which at the moment 
seems to have crossed his brain. For instance, 
near the outset, he speaks of the old British 
tradition, that in each of the Roman cities of 
Britain there dwelt a flamen or Roman priest, 
under a superior, called in the tradition an arch- 
flamen; in place of whom, when the country 
became Christian, were substituted bishops un 
der an archbishop. " These flamens and arch- 
flamens," says he, "seem to be flams and arch- 
flams, notorious falsehoods." Whereas, when 
Roman paganism was the established religion, 
what can be more likely than that there should 
have been a priest of that religion in every 
place, and that these priests should have had a 
superior, as they had at Rome ? 

There are many notices of early English 
Church-history in Foxe s Acts and Monuments ,- 
but it must be considered as a misfortune that 
so much credit has been given to this writer, 
and that he has found so many imitators ; for 
his style is that of a coarse satire rather than of 

The work of Mr. Southey is of a very differ- 


ent character; but his plan has led him to no 
tice very briefly those facts on which the writer 
of this volume has thought it necessary to en 
large ; and in some instances it has been deemed 
right to pronounce a milder opinion of men and 
things, remembering Mr. Southey s own admir 
able maxim, " He who is most charitable in his 
judgment is generally the least unjust." 

Much help in the study of ancient manners 
has been afforded by the French work of M. 
Guizot, the History of Civilization in France, a 
work written in a very different spirit from some 
historical speculations of that country. And 
still more acknowledgment is due to the author 
of some Letters on the Dark Ages, published at 
intervals, for several years past, in the British 
Magazine. Works of this kind will enable the 
world before long to see that these ages have 
been called dark, chiefly because the moderns 
have chosen to remain in the dark about them. 
And the author of these Letters deserves the 
thanks of every candid inquirer for the excellent 
warnings he has given against the rash censures 
pronounced on antiquity. May the spirit which 
dictated the following sentence be found to have 
guided the pen of the writer of these pages ! 

" If there is any subject which should make 
the historian s hand tremble, while he guides 
the pen of truth, it is the Church of Christ, 


which He has purchased with His blood ; which 
is, by His dispensation, militant here on earth, 
dispersed through this naughty world, and every 
page of its history rendered obscure by the 
crafts and assaults of the devil, the weakness 
and wickedness of the flesh, the friendship and 
the enmity of the world, the sins of bad men, 
the infirmities of good ones ; and by the divine 
ordinance, that it shall ever be a body consisting 
of many members, often incapable, not merely 
of executing, but of appreciating the office of 
each otner. * 


THE demand for more than one reprint of this 
little work has enabled the writer to avail him 
self of the suggestions of friends and critics, to 
whom he is much indebted, to make a few addi 
tions and corrections, which it is hoped may 
render it more complete. The additions will 
be found chiefly to relate to the history of the 
Saxon period ; as, the Metrical Creed in chap, 
vii. ; the mission of Winfrid, chap. viii. ; the 
changes in the Church attempted by king Offa, 
chap. x. ; the account of St. Olave, chap. xiv. ; 
and a few of less importance. The corrections 
do not affect any material fact or opinion ex 
pressed in the former editions of the work, but 
only a few trifling mis-statements ; as, one into 
which the writer had been led by T. Warton 
expecting the old font at Winchester, which 
any reader will now be able to correct, who has 
seen the well-executed cast of that font, taken 
by order of the Cambridge Camden Society. 
The only exception is the account formerly 


{riven of the doctrine of Berenger in chap, .vx 
The writer has lately perused the work of Be 
renger, which has been discovered and published 
in Germany a few years since ; 5 and is now of 
opinion, with Bishop Cosin, that he maintained 
the true doctrine respecting the Holy Commu 
nion. See also Mr. Massingberd s History of 
the Reformation, chap. ii. p. 39, 40. 

On other points, on which some objections 
have been made, particularly the account of Arch 
bishop Becket, the writer has re-examined his 
statements, and altered a few words and phrases ; 
but he has not found reason to change his view 
of that portion or period of Church-history. It 
is true that the majority of modern English 
writers have judged differently ; but their judg 
ment has been formed with too exclusive a re 
gard to the errors of the religious creed of those 
days, forgetting the errors on the other side in 
the state of the civil government ; how all free 
dom of the subject was subverted, justice was 
bought and sold, and the goods of the Church 
made over to simoniac priests, or invaded to 
support the prince s private prodigality. The 
authorities to be consulted are the historians of 
the time, and the existing letters of the actors 

1 Berlin, 1834. 


in those troubled scenes ; not Lord Lyttleton s 
panegyric on Henry II., or the sceptical philo- 
sophy and loose morality of Hume. 




Prowess an;l arts did ta me 

And tune men s hearts, before the Gospel came ; 
Strength levell d grounds ; art made a garden there; 
Then shower d religion, and made all to bear. 


HE apostle Si. Paul, after his first im 
prisonment at Rome, is reported by the 
early Church-historians to have fulfilled 
his intention of preaching the gospel in 
Spain, and to have gone to the utmost 
bounds of the West, and the islands 
that lie in the ocean. It has therefore been 
supposed that he was either himself in Bri 
tain, or that he sent some of the companies 
of his travels to make known on these shores 
the name of Christ. It is certain that a Christian 
Church was planted here in the time of the apos 
tles, and, as it would appear, at the date of St. Paul s 
travels to the West, A.D. 63. 


The country was at that time partly held by 
colonies of the Romans, partly still under its old in 
habitants, the Britons, a tribe of those nations who 
were descended from Gomer, son of Japheth, and the 
first who went to dwell in the western parts of Europe. 
These Gomerians, or Kimmerians, appear to have 
oeen settled in Spain, France, and Britain, at least 
six hundred years before the birth of Christ; as the 
prophet Ezekiel speaks of the merchants of Tyre as 
then bringing home from Tarshish, or Portugal, the 
tin and lead, which they seem to have procured, as 
they did about two centuries later, from the coasts 
of Cornwall (Ezek. xxvii. 12). The Britons, like all 
other ancient heathens, were idolaters, the know 
ledge of the true God being clouded by the prevail 
ing superstition of Druidism ; which, taking its rise 
from among the inhabitants of this island, had spread 
far among the tribes of the neighbouring continent. 
The knowledge of letters was only learnt by them 
from other nations ; and what other knowledge they 
had was preserved chiefly by songs committed to 
memory; the learning of such songs, describing the 
nature of things in heaven and earth, and recording 
the deeds of their forefathers, being the main part of 
the education of the young. Like all other idolators, 
it was a common practice with them to offer human 
victims to their gods : sometimes a man who suffered 
from a fit of sickness would devote himself to be 
sacrificed by the Druid s hand, or in a time of dan 
ger of life or limb, he would vow to offer another 
life as a price and ransom for his own. The pri 
soners whom they took in battle, and malefactors 
whom the Druid had judged, were commonly sen 
tenced to be burnt by fire. What seems to have 
made them more reckless of shedding blood was, 
their belief that the soul, when driven out of rhe 
body, only changed to a new lodging, either passing 


into another man, or going for a time to animate 
the form of some brute creature. 

The Romans, where they gained dominion, esta 
blished a different religion from the Druids ; but 
their own pagan rites and cruel laws were scarcely 
less destructive of human life. At this very period, 
when by the mercy of God the light of truth began 
to enlighten the Gentiles, and the feet of apostolic 
men first trod the shores of Britain, a Roman of high 
rank was murdered by a domestic slave, to whom he 
had promised liberty, but had not kept his promise. 
According to the law of their forefathers, when a 
slave lifted his hand against, his master, the whole of 
the family of slaves were to be put to death with the 
offender: and on this occasion, though the people 
rose in tumult to resist the law, the senate and the 
prince were deaf to the calls of mercy. A body of 
soldiers restrained the multitude, while four hundred 
innocent persons were led to death, and among them 
many aged men, women, and children, that no mas 
ter of slaves might in future feel himself exposed to 
a like peril. 

Such was the state of the world, civil or bar 
barous, when the gospel was first preached abroad 
among the nations, and St. Paul wrote to commend 
the slave Onesimus to the brotherly love of his mas 
ter Philemon. It was then, when the earth was full 
of violence and cruel habitations, that the Prince of 
Peace came to set up his throne. 

The wars and persecutions which followed the 
first preaching of the gospel in Britain have de 
stroyed all certain records of Christianity in these 
early times. It is said that persons of rank among 
the Roman inhabitants, and kings of different pro 
vinces under the Romans, who were left, like Herod 
and his sons in Judaea, to rule under the conquering 
power, embraced the yoke of Christ. The Romans 


were now spreading their conquests over the greatet 
part of the island ; but the doctrine of the cross 
spread faster and more far. In the following cen 
tury it is recorded, that places to which the armies 
of the invaders had never approached, were known 
to the heralds of the Redeemer s kingdom. And a 
proof of their success is the dying out of the super 
stition of the Druids ; Avhich is no longer to be me 
with in the history of the country after the secor u 
century of Christianity. 

The Romans held twenty- eight cities in England 
and Wales, besides many other stations along the 
great roads which they made from one end of the 
kingdom to the other. Some of these cities, as Lon 
don, were settled as places of trade and commerce ; 
others were given to old soldiers, as colonies for hus 
bandry, as Colchester and Maldon; others, as York, 
Chester, and Caer-leon on Usk, were more especially 
places of defence, to keep i; obedient the less 
peaceful provinces, or to be ready against attack 
from the northern Britons, who were never entirely 
subdued. As each of these cities was founded, a 
temple was raised to the emperor in whose reign it 
was founded, and priests were appointed for the ser 
vice of the temple ; the Roman religion in that age 
being rather the worship of the living prince, than of 
the idol-gods of their fathers. It is most likely that 
as Christianity gained ground, and the people came 
no longer to burn incense to Csesar, the temple was 
shut up or turned to other uses, and a Christian 
bishop resided in these cities instead of a heathen 
priest. For in the early ages of the Church, wher 
ever the Christian religion prevailed, it was the cus 
tom to have a bishop placed in almost every well- 
inhabited city. 

It was not, however, without many sore struggles 
that the Christian religion maintained this conflict. 

Cn. I.] CONSTANT1X7S. 5 

The earlier persecutions, from the time of Nero, had 
been short in duration, or confined to other parts o* 
the Roman empire : but at length, in the time o* 
Diocletian, it pleased the Almighty to permit the 
cause of truth, for the space often years (A.D. 303), 
to undergo the most severe trial which the world had 
ever known. Gildas, the earliest British historian, 
tells us that at this time " the Christian churches 
throughout the world were levelled with the ground, 
all the copies of the Scriptures which could any 
where be found were burnt in the public streets, and 
the priests ar:d bishops of the Lord s flock slaughtered, 
together with their charge; so that in some provinces 
not even a trace of Christianity remained." Ancient 
letters, carved on stone, were found many ages after 
wards in Spain, which were inscriptions set up by 
the persecutors, in memory of what they called "the 
destruction of the Christian superstition," and the 
" extinction of the Christian name." 

In Britain the persecution was less severe than 
in other parts of the empire; Constantius, the father 
of the Christian emperor CONSTANTINE, having the 
government of some of the western provinces, and 
residing chiefly in Britain. Constantius was a hea 
then, but an enemy to persecution ; his authority, 
however, was not independent of the emperor s, and 
he was obliged to comply so far as to order that the 
Christian churches should be pulled down. When, 
after two years, he received a share of the empire 
for his own, he commanded a restoration of the 
buildings; but in the meantime there were many 
Roman officers and magistrates, and many of the 
pagan people, who were re tdy to take advantage of 
the emperor s edict, to cany the Christians to prison 
and to death. Where Constantius himself resided, 
at Eboracum or York, w hear of none who suffered, 
but at many other pla< :-s the Britis/i Church was 



found worthy to supply its martyrs to the cause of 
truth ; and many of both sexes died confessing the 
faith with great constancy and courage. 

Among the foremost of this noble army were 
Aaron and Julius, two citizens of Caer-leon, and 
ALBAN, an officer in the Roman troops, who resided, 
at the Roman town of Verulam, near the site of the 
town which has since been called St. Alban s, after 
his own name. Alban, before the persecution arose, 
was a heathen ; but a Christian priest who had fled 
for shelter from his pursuers to Alban s house, be 
came the instrument of his conversion. Struck with 
the devout behaviour of his guest, who passed great 
part of the night as well as his days in watching and 
prayer, Alban began to inquire of his religion ; and 
the end was, that he was soon persuaded to turn from 
idolatry, and to become a hearty Christian. He had 
for a few days enjoyed the company and instructions 
of this new friend, when the Roman governor of 
Verulam, hearing that the priest was hidden at Al 
ban s house, sent a party of soldiers to take him. 
Alban presented himself at the door in the cassock 
usually worn by his guest, and, before the mistake 
was discovered, was brought before the magistrates 
for the person whose dress he wore. There boldly 
declaring himself a Christian, after enduring to be 
beaten with rods, he was sentenced to be beheaded. 
The place of his death was a rising ground beyond 
the little river Ver, to which the passage was by a 
bridge, then thronged with a great crowd of people, 
flocking to behold the spectacle. Alban, eager to 
reach tha place before the close of day, instead of 
waiting to cross the bridge, made his way through 
the stream; and this act of devoted zeaHs sa, I vo 
have had such an effect on the soldier who was dp- 
pointed to be his executioner, that he threw down 
the sword, ?nd asked to die with him. The requCX 


was granted, and the two comrades received toge 
ther the palm of martyrdom. The heathens, seeing 
the ill success of this example, by which Christianity 
was still further advanced, instead of being put down, 
gave over their deeds of bloodshed ; and the Chris 
tians returning from the woods and wastes, in which 
they had lain concealed, came back to the abodes of 
men, and began to restore their worship and rebuild 
their churches. In after-years, the wonder of a simple 
a"-e was shewn in tales of miracles which were said 
to have attended Alban s martyrdom. What was bet 
ter, and a due honour to the first martyr of Britain, 
a church of beautiful structure was built upon the 
place. This was standing in the time of Bede, about 
four hundred years after Alban s death. Offa, king 
of Mcrcia, in the eighth century, founded an abbey 
there; and the abbey-church, partly built by the 
Saxons with Roman bricks, taken, as it seems, from 
a still older sacred building, is one of the most noble 
standing monuments of the ancient Christianity of 
Britain. 1 

In the time of the Emperor Constantme, whose 
reign shortly followed, the Christians in Britain were 
in peaceful enjoyment of their churches, and reli- 
o-ion flourished. Constantine himself was a native 
of this island, the son of St. Helena, a British lady ; 
and he seems to have honoured the British bishops, 
who were sent for to attend at councils, held by his 
authority at different places, for the settling of order 
and promoting the true faith. There were bishops 

* It is much to be regretted, as the learned and pious 
Joseph Mede used to observe, that St. Alban s has never been 
made the seat of a bishopric. The place is well suited for it ; 
the pood name of the martyr would be fitly honoured by it ; 
and the wrong done to the church by those who spoiled and 
sold it, after the abbey was broken up, would thus be amended 
as it ought. 


from Britain, whose names are recorded, at the coun 
cil of Aries in France, A.D. 314. They seem aso 
to have been at Nice, or Nicea, in Asia, at the great 
council held there, A.D. 325, where the excellent 
creed, since called the Nicene creed, was received, 
as the historians tell us, " with the unanimous con 
sent of the Churches of Italy, Africa, Egypt, Spain, 
France, and Britain, and in the Asiatic dioceses." 
And among other good laws for the ordering of the 
Church, it was determined both at Nice and at Aries, 
that no bishop should be constituted without the 
consent of all the bishops of his province, and that 
three bishops should be present at his consecration ; 
a law which is still observed in the Church of Eng 
land at this time. From this it would appear, that 
the Church of Britain was, like all other Christian 
Churches, from the first under the government of 
bishops, and that these bishops, in different pro 
vinces, were subject to a patriarch or archbishop. 
There were at this period three Roman provinces in 
Britain : one, which included the southern counties 
of England ; a second, which took in most of the 
midland, and some of the northern counties ; and a 
third, which consisted of Wales, and part of England 
bordering on Wales. In each of these provinces 
were bishops, who seem to have been under an arch 
bishop respectively of London, York, and Caer-leon 
on Usk. This was the common order of Church- 
government at the first settlement of Christianity 
throughout the world. " There was no Church," as 
Bishop Stillingfleet well observes, " founded by the 
apostles, which had not a succession of bishops from 
them too." And these were, in all the provinces, 
subject to a primate of their own number, who was 
to confirm them in their different sees, to call toge 
ther councils of bishops and clergy, and to hear 
appeals that might be made to him from the suoor- 


dinate bishops. Thus, the bishop of Rome was, at 
this period, patriarch oi the middle part of Italy ; the 
bishop of Milan of the northern part; and the bishops 
of Jerusalem, Antioch, and /Vlexandria, had the same 
authority in some of the Eastern provinces. There 
was no bishop, whether at Rome or elsewhere, who 
at this time pretended to any authority beyond his 
own province. 

Shortly after this, the peace of the Church in the 
East being troubled with the doctrines of the Arians, 
who denied that the Son of God was from ever 
lasting, and so made him to be a creature like angels 
or men, the British bishops were summoned by Con 
stantius, son of Constantine, A.D. 34-7, to another 
council at Sardica, near the site of the modern city 
of Sophia in Bulgaria, now a part of the Turkish 
dominions. And again they were sent for to a 
council at Ariminum, now Rimini, in Italy, A.D. 360. 
At these councils, the artifices of the Arians had 
gained them support from men of power in the 
state ; but though they thus obtained a short ad 
vantage, the firm spirit of St. Athanasius, bishop of 
Alexandria, who underwent the severest persecutions 
from them, supported many to stand up in defence 
of the true faith. And both St. Athanasius, and St. 
Hilary, the famous father of the Church, bishop of 
Poictiers in the country now called France, have 
borne testimony that the Christians of Britain kept 
the faith as it is taught in the Nicene creed, and 
preserved a good conscience with unshaken sted- 

The Picts, who then inhabited the North, and 
Scots, coming fre>m Ireland in the reign of Constan- 
tius, were now first found to be troublesome neigh 
bours to the Britons. Their inroads appear to have 
left the British Christians in a state of much poverty; 
so that the bishops, who went to the council a* 


Ariminum, were obliged to depend on the emperor s 
bounty for board and lodging. But this distress 
was removed by the Roman generals, who were at 
this period sent into Britain, and drove back the 
Picts and Scots. It may be that these sufferings 
tended to keep the minds of Christians humble and 
devout, so that the impiety of the Arians did not at 
first gain ground among them. 

But towards the close of the fourth century, 
there were Arian teachers in Britain; and this error 
was soon followed by another, which has commonly 
been found to prevail with it, and which was now 
first publicly taught by Pelagius, or Morgan, a 
native of Wales. Morgan was a man of learning, 
who had left Britain in early life, had travelled in 
Italy and the East, and passed much of his time in 
acquiring knowledge and conversing with the most 
eminent teachers of Christian doctrine. He had 
become acquainted with St. Chrysostom and St. 
Augustine, who both flourished at this time : and 
they were the more grieved at his fall into heresy, 
as his piety and talents had gained him their affec 
tion and respect. The doctrines he taught were 
such as to overthrow man s need of God s grace, and 
to make human nature sufficient for itself. " God 
made me," he said ; " but if -I am made righteous, 
it is my own work." He did not himself teach in 
Britain, having died abroad ; but his doctrines are 
said to have been brought into this country by Agri- 
cola, son of Siverian, an eastern bishop, who was 
noted for his enmity against St. Chrysostom. The 
British Christians, finding that the Pelagian doctrines 
were gaining disciples in the country, and wishing 
for the help of some skilful champions of the faith, 
sent to the bishops of Gaul or France ; who, at a 
council held at Troyes, chose ST. GERMAIN, bishop 
of Auxerre, and Lupus, bishop of Troyes, to visit 


Britain. This Lupus was brother to Vincent of 
Lerins, a famous Christian teacher of that time, 
whose book, called " A Defence of the Catholic 
Faith," was afterwards of the greatest use to Arch 
bishop Cranmcr and Bishop Ridley at the time o*" 
ie English Reformation. 

Germain and Lupus were received by the Bri 
tish Christians with the greatest respect ; and so 
great was the desire to see and hear them, that they 
were obliged on some occasions to preach in the 
streets and in the open fields, as there were then no 
village churches. They were enabled to speak with 
such conviction to the conscience of their hearers, 
that the Pelagians soon lost the public favour ; and 
when a public council was called at Verulam, A.D. 
429, though there were many persons of wealth and 
influence who had espoused their cause, and who 
made a show of supporting them, the two champions 
poured forth such a torrent of eloquence, well en 
forced by texts from the gospels and writings of 
the apostles, that the vanity and unfaithfulness of 
their opponents were completely detected. The 
very leaders in the dispute are said to have ac 
knowledged their errors ; and the decision of the 
council against them was received with shouts of 
joy by the assembled* people. 

But in the mean time the state of Britain had 
begun to be exposed to other troubles. The great 
empire of Rome was now falling to pieces, weak 
ened bv divisions within itself, and attacked by the 
Goths and Vandals, and other warlike nations from 
the north of Europe and Asia. The policy of the 
Romans was, to govern the subject provinces by 
military stations, and to deprive the natives, except 
such as were enlisted in their armies, of the use oi 
arms ; so that when their masters were no longer 
able to protect them, the Britons were left, like the 


Israelites under the Philistines ; " there was neither 
sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the 
people." 2 Added to this, they had about this time 
leen compelled to send out of the country a great 
portion of their young men to fight for several 
pretenders to the empire, who were set up by the 
soldiers in Britain, and seized upon some of the 
provinces beyond sea. Most of these young men 
never returned. One large party of them settled in 
that part of France which has since received from 
them the name of Brittany, or Bretagne, where the 
country people still speak a language like the Welch ; 
and this settlement, as we shall see, afterwards be 
came a place of refuge to the distressed Christians 
of Britain. 

Rome was taken by Alaric, king of the Goths, 
A. i). 409; but as he died shortly after his victory, 
and his forces were broken up, the empire was not 
utterly ruined. The Romans still sent troops into 
Britain till the year 426, and assisted the natives to 
build again the wall of the Emperor Severus, which 
extended across from the mouth of the Tyne to that 
of the Esk, beyond Newcastle and Carlisle, as a 
protection .against the Picts and Scots. No sooner, 
however, had they departed, than these enemies 
from the North broke through the wall, which the 
Britons were unable to defend, and continued their 
bloody inroads ; and at the same time the sea-coast 
being left unguarded, the Saxons from Germany 
crossed over, and carried off spoil from the nearest 

So that when Germain with his companions 
visited Britain, though the Saxons had as yet made 
no fixed conquests in the country, there was much 
<Jang2r and alarm ; and it seems that the Britons 

2 1 Sam. xiii. 22. 


began to draw off and strengthen themselves in the 
mountainous parrs of Wales, as well as in Cumber 
land, Westmoreland, and Cornwall, to which the 
rest of them, who preserved their independence, 
afterwards retired. It was in Flintshire, near the 
town of Mold, where the B.ritons were assembled, 
and Germain was sent for to encourage them by his 
presence and exhortations. An army of Saxons had 
joined with the Picts, and had crossed the river Dee, 
when by a stratagem of Germain they were sur 
rounded by the Britons, and defeated with great 
loss. The battle was fought at Ea^er, when many 
of the young soldiers had been newly baptised; and 
from the shout which they raised as they hurled 
the rocks suddenly down upon the heads of the 
invaders, it was called long afterwards the Hallelujah 
victory. 3 

It seems to have been at this period that St. Ger 
main, who again visited Britain a few years later, 
advised the Britons to found monasteries, as places 
to preserve religion and useful learning in troubled 
times. While the Roman empire lasted, the em 
perors, from the time of Constantine, had taken 
pains to establish schools in the principal towns 01 
the provinces ; and they gave an allowance from the 
state to the teachers of grammar and other branches 
of learning, more especially to the teachers of the 
art of speaking ; which, while books were only to be 
multiplied by writing, was of much more importance 
than it is now. For people were then obliged to 
learn, by listening to public readers or reciters, what 
they may now learn from books. At these schools 
the principal teachers were Christian clergymen. So 

3 This battle is supposed by Archbishop I) slier to have 
been fought at Maes-Garmon (i.e. "the field of Germain") 
in Flintshire. 


that when Julian the apostate became emperor, who 
had renounced Christianity, he took great pains to 
drive out the Christian teachers from these schools : 
If they are not content," he said, " with what the 
old authors say of the mighty gods, let them go to 
the churches of the Galileans" (so he used to call 
the Christians), "and expound Matthew and Luke 
there." This has always been the practice of un 
believing governors, to separate true religion from 
education. As Julian died in the third year of his 
reign, his attempt had but little success; but the 
bishops of the Christian Church saw r the danger, 
and began to provide against it. 

At this time, St. Ambrose was bishop of Milan, 
and St. Martin bishop of Tours in France, whose 
name is in our calendar, and to whom many of our 
old churches are dedicated. These bishops began 
to promote the building of monasteries in Italy and 
France, as places of education, where the will of the 
reigning prince might not prevent Christian youths 
from being taught the principles of their religion. 
And as they were both men of rank and fortune 
before they were chosen to preside over those bi 
shoprics, they employed much of their wealth in this 
good work. As the troubles of the Roman empire 
increased, the monasteries in the western parts in 
creased. They were now wanted, both to supply 
the loss of the Roman schools, and as houses of 
refuge, which some of the rude nations who had 
heard of Christianity might be willing to respect. 
For some of the Goths had, before the fall of the 
Roman empire, received the knowledge of Christ ; 
and their bishop, Ulphilas, had taught them the use 
of letters, and translated the Scriptures into their 
language, about A.D. 365. in the lifetime, of St. 
Martin and St. Ambrose. 


It was, therefore, according to their example, 
that St. Germain recommended the Britons to found 
monasteries. He brought with him at his second 
visit two eminent Christian teachers, Dubricius and 
Iltutus the first was elected bishop of Llandaff: 
the second had a college of pupils at a place called 
from him Llanyltad, or " St. Iliad s," in Glamorgan 
shire. Both were of great service to the distressed 
Britons. A more famous place of education was 
that which St. Germain seems to have founded in 
North Wales, the monastery of Bangor-Iscoed, near 
Malpas and Wrexham, on the Dee ; the remains of 
which were still visible, after the lapse of a thousand 
years, a short time before the Reformation. The 
memory of St. Germain, and of the benefits he did 
to the British or Welch Church, is preserved in the 
name of Llanarmon, " St. Germain s," in Denbigh 
shire, and the town named after him in Cornwall, 
which was afterwards for a short time under the 
Saxons made a bishop s see. He died on a visit to 
Italy, A.D. 448, the year before the Saxons first 
established themselves in Britain. 

At the time of the departure of the Romans lived 
FASTIDIUS, bishop, as it is supposed, of London, who 
is the only Christian teacher among the ancient Bri 
tons of whom any doctrinal work yet remains. He 
has left a short treatise on the character of a Chris 
tian life, addressed to a pious widow named Fatalis : 
in which, after modestly excusing his own want 
of knowledge and little skill, and begging her to 
" accept his household bread, since he cannot offer 
her the finest flour," he shews, with very plain and 
good arguments, that Christians are called to imi 
tate Him whom they worship ; that without a life 
of piety and uprightness, it is vain to presume on 
the mercy of God, or to boast of the name of 
Christian ; that it was always the rule of God s deal- 


ings with mankind to love righteousness and hate 

" It is the will of God," says he, " that his people 
should be holy, and apart from all stain of unrigh 
teousness ; so righteous, so merciful, so pure, so 
unspotted by the world, so single-hearted, that the 
heathen should find no fault in them, but say with 
wonder, Blessed is the nation whose God is the 
Lord, and the people whom he hath chosen for his 
own inheritance. 

" We read in the evangelist that one came to our 
Saviour, and asked him what he should do to gain 
eternal life. The answer he received was, If thou 
wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. Our 
Lord did not say, Keep faith only. For if faith is 
all that is required, it is overmuch to say that the 
commandments must be kept. But far be it from 
me that I should suppose my Lord to have taught 
any thing overmuch. Let this be said only by those 
whose sins have numbered them with the children 
of perdition. 

" Let no man then deceive or mislead his brother: 
except a man is righteous, he hath not life ; except 
he keep the commandments of Christ, he hath no 
part with him. A Christian is one who shews mercy 
to all ; who is provoked by no wrong ; who suffers 
not the poor in this world to be oppressed ; who re 
lieves the wretched, succours the needy; who mourns 
with mourners, and feels the pain of another as his 
own ; who is moved to tears by the sight of another s 
tears; whose house is open to all; whose table is 
spread for all the poor ; whose good deeds all men 
know ; whose wrongful dealing no man feels ; who 
serves God day and night, and ever meditates upon 
his precepts ; who is made poor to the world, that 
he may be rich towards God ; who is content to ne 
inglorious among men, that he may appear glorious 


before God and his angels ; who has no deceit, in his 
heart; whose soul is simple and undefiled, and his 
conscience faithful and pure ; whose whole mind 
rests on God; whose whole hope is fixed on Christ, 
desiring heavenly things rather than earthly, and 
leaving human things to lay hold on things divine." 

He concludes this excellent character of a Chris 
tian life by applying it to the good widow to whom 
it is addressed : " If all those who are called Chris 
tians ought to be such as I describe, you need not 
be told what kind of widow you ought to be ; for if 
you are indeed Christ s widow, you ought to be a pat 
tern to all who lead a Christian life. What Christ s 
widow ought to be, the apostle tells you : She that 
is a widow indeed trusteth in God- and continueth 
in supplications and prayers night and day. And 
elsewhere the same apostle marks out the deeds and 
conversation of a true widow : Let a widow be 
chosen who is well reported of for good works : it 
she have brought up children (that is, if she have 
brought them up to God) ; if she have lodged 
strangers; if she have washed the saints feet; it 
she have relieved the afflicted ; if she have dili 
gently followed every good work. 

" Be then you such as the Lord has taught you 
to be ; such as the apostle would have set forth as a 
pattern. Be holy, humble, and quiet, and employed 
without ceasing in works of mercy and righteousness. 
Above all, ever study the commandments of youv 
Lord ; earnestly give yourself to prayers and psalms : 
that, if it be possible, no one may ever find you em 
ployed but in reading or in prayer. And when you 
are so employed, remember me." 

This doctrine of the ancient British bishop is 

suited to all times. And it may be judged by this 

only remaining specimen, that there were, in the- 

age of the fathers of the Church, in this country 

c 2 


also teachers well deserving of the name of Christian 

It was at this time also, in the midst of the 
troubles of Britain, that the Britons sent a mission 
to preach the gospel to the Picts, then inhabiting 
the southern parts of Scotland. The leader of thW 
mission was ST. NINIAN, whose name is still pre 
served in the traditions of that country. He is said 
to have converted many of these wild people from 
their idolatry, and to have founded a church, which 
was long the seat of other bishops after him, at 
Whitherne, on the coast of Galloway. The old 
British historian, Gildas, speaks of the Picts and 
Scots, before they were converted, as a very savage 
race, "wearing more hair on their ruffian faces than 
they had clothes on their bodies." 

Another eminent Christian teacher of this time 
was ST. PATRICK, the apostle of Ireland. He seems 
to have been a native of North Britain, and a pupil 
of St. Germain ; but the history of his life is so 
darkened by strange legends of later ages, that it is 
very difficult to learn the truth about him. This, 
however, is certain, that Celestine, bishop of Rome, 
about A.D. 430, ordained a bishop called Pallady, to 
go on a mission to the Scots in Ireland ; who, find 
ing little success there, crossed over to the Picts in 
Galloway, among whom he died not many years after 
the mission of St. Ninian. But after his death, St 
Patrick was sent by Celestine, or by St. Germain, 
and had a much more favourable reception. 4 There 
is no reason to doubt that he established Christianity 
in that country. He appears to have taken with him 
several other teachers, by whose help he was enabled 
,o found churches, and to set up monasteries with 
,r^ols, as St. Germain had done in Wales. The 

4 Malmsbury, Hist. i. . 22. 


Isic of Man is said also to have received its first 
bishop from St. Patrick, about A.D. 447. The rude 
people, among whom these Christian missionaries 
laboured, have handed down to us only doubtful 
legends and stories of strange wonders, instead of 
history of their times. But it is plain that after the 
mission of Patrick to Ireland, the people, who were 
before ignorant of arts and letters, became acquainted 
with both; and the light of Christianity, once kindled 
there, has never since entirely expired. 

It is impossible to find any thing more disastrous 
than the state of Britain at this time, when the Chris 
tian part of the population made such efforts to pre 
serve both their religion and their country, and zeal 
ous men went out to spread the gospel among the 
neighbouring nations. A famine had followed the 
ravages of the Picts and Scots ; then arose a bloody 
civil war among the native chiefs, and the Roman 
Britons, those who had lived with the Romans in 
their cities, and learnt their language, Avere cut off 
almost to a man. While they were in this state of 
weakness, the Picts and Scots again returned ; and 
the sad and suffering people of South Britain, with 
Vortigern their prince, resolved to invite the Saxons, 
A.D. 449. 

From this time Christianity began to disappear 
from the most important and fruitful provinces of 
Great Britain. As the Saxons founded, one after 
another, their petty kingdoms, they destroyed the 
churches, and the priests fled before them. Some 
found refuge in the colony of Brittany ; others es 
caped to the borders of Wales. There, it would seem, 
they were still in safety ; and the names of St. David, 
St. Asaph, and St. Patern, who founded churches and 
bishoprics long after the arrival of the Saxons, at the 
places still called by their names, shew that Chris 
tianity was still held in honour by the ancient l?ri- 


tons. 5 There were British bishops still dwelling in 
the parts invaded, as long as there were any means 
of assembling a flock of Christians round them. But 
it is an accusation to which they lie open, that they 
made no attempt to convert the. Saxons. St. Samp 
son, bishop of York, retreated kito Brittany as soon 
as the north of England began to be troubled by in 
vaders. He was there the founder of a bishopric 
and monastery at Dol, where many other British 
Christians afterwards found shelter; particularly SL 
Malo, or Machutus, St. Brice, also founders of towns 
and bishops sees in Brittany, and the learned Giltias, 
surnamed the Wise, the earliest Christian historian of 

It was at the same period, about A.D. 565, that 
ST. COLUHBA, from one of St. Patrick s monasteries, 
Durrogh in Ireland, undertook his mission to the 
Picts of the northern parts of Scotland, and founded 
his famous monastery and school of learning at lona. 
one of the Western Islands. There is scarcely any 
other institution which Englishmen have reason to 
remember with feelings of equal gratitude ; for from 
this retreat of piety came forth those heralds of the 
gospel, who taught the greater part of our rude fore 
fathers. From this retreat, called from its founder 
Icolmkill, or " St. Co.^mba s Isle," the savage clans 
of the Highlands received the benefits of knowledge 
and the blessings of religion. And no doubt it was 
so appointed by God s providence, that Christianity 
should be planted in North Britain at the very time 
when it was nearly driven out from the South, that 
the means of its restoration might be at hand. A 
very few years afterwards, the last British bishops, 

6 St. David s, instead of the old see of Caer-leon, founded 
A.D. 519 ; St. Asaph, about A.D. 580 ; Llan Badarn .Vawr, or 
" Great St. Patern s," a fine old church in Cardiganshire, and 
for SDme time a bishop s see, A.D. 540. 


Thconas of London, and Thadioc of York, retreated 
with the remnant of their flocks into Wales : and 
thus, the pagan Saxons having overrun all the low 
land portion of the country, the saints whose me 
mory is honoured in Wales, and St. Columba in the 
North, were the only remaining teachers of 
Church of Britain. 



The heavenly city, in the days of its pilgrimage on earth, enlists 
citizens out of all nations, and assembles a company of pilgrims out 
of all tongues; not caring for differences of manners, laws, and cus 
toms, but rather seeking to preserve them for the sake of earthly 
peace, if only they hinder not the religion which teaches the worship- 
of the only Most High and True. 

ST. AUGUSTINE. City of God, b. xix. 

HE Anglo-Saxons, from whom we have 
received the language Avhich we speak, 
and from whom the far greater portion 
of Englishmen .are sprung, were of the 
tribes of nations inhabiting ancient Ger 
many, who, when the appointed time was come, were 
employed by God s providence in breaking up the 
great empire of old Rome. It is plain that the laws 
and manners of the Romans were too little amended 
by the footing which Christianity had gained among 
them. The later emperors, after Constantine, had 
generally professed themselves Christians, and it was 
the public religion of the empire; the service of the 
more eminent Christian bishops was also found use 
ful in promoting obedience to the laws : but a great 
part of the people were still pagans, stubbornly per 
sisting in their old enmity to the cross. Even after 
Rome had been taken by the Goths, this pagan 


party made a struggle to revive the persecutions 
against the Christians, persuading their countrymen 
that their misfortunes were owing to their having 
cast off their idol-gods ; as the Jews in Egypt re- 
plied to Jeremiah, that their captivity came from 
their leaving off to burn incense to the queen of 
heaven. 1 Among such a people there were many 
who lived abandoned to the most shameful vices of 
heathenism ; and the laws of Rome were never able 
to reach them. So that there can be no doubt that 
the confession of one of their own poets spoke the 
truth : 

The far-off Irish shores 

And Orkney isles have seen our conquering flet, 
Orkney, where summer eve and morning meet ; 
But the bold Briton, by our arms o ercome, 
Scorns the foul deeds his victors do in Rome. 

On the contrary, the Goths and Germans, whom 
they called Barbarians, though their habits were 
fierce and warlike, were alive to the shame of these 
unmanly morals, and severely punished such of 
fenders. They sentenced traitors to die by hang 
ing; but the worst transgressors against chastity 
they drowned by night in ponds or marshes. " It 
was well done," says a Roman who speaks of it; 
" for bold crimes ought to be punished openly, but 
base and shameful ones to be hidden in darkness. 
When they heard of the Romans giving up their 
leisure hours to theatres and public shows, " The 
people who have devised such amusements," they 
said, " act as if they had neither children nor wives 
at home." 2 They had therefore a far more strict 
regard to the sacred tie of marriage, and to the 
honour of woman ; not permitting, what has been 

Jer. xliv. IS. 

St. Chrysostom, Homily xxxviii. on St. Matthew. 


common with other heathen nations, that a man 
should have more wives than one. No doubt the 
finger of God was in those wars, which made them 
masters of the Roman empire, that they might, in 
due time, promote the advancement of his Church 
by means of customs more suited to a union with 
Christianity than the corrupt state of society in 
Home, now fast tending to its own decay. 

The Saxons were idolaters, as the names of the 
days of the week, which we have received from them, 
still remain to remind us. They worshipped the sun 
and moon ; Thor, the thunderer ; Woden, or Odin ; 
Tiow, god of war ; and other deities, whom it is not 
necessary to inquire after. As all false religions 
began in corruptions of the true, it would seem that 
they had still some dim belief of One great Being 
more excellent than these : for they had among them 
the name of God, which we have received from them ; 
it is a name which means the Good. And though in 
rude and warlike times the notion of goodness is ap 
plied to bravery in war rather than deeds of mercy, 
and so their imaginations may have seen in Him a 
Being able to destroy, rather than ready to save, yet 
it is a proof of a purer tradition which they had from 
the beginning. But more than this dim shadow of 
the religion of the patriarchs, they do not seem to 
have possessed ; and the want of a Mediator between 
God and man left their religion without hope or com 
fort, and drove them to seek from the spirits of dead 
warriors or kings such help as they knew not how to 
ask from One higher but unknown. 

The first of the Saxons who established them 
selves in Britain were Hengist and Horsa with their 
followers, who founded the kingdom of Kent about 
A.D. 450. Before the end of that century were 
founded also the kingdoms of the South and West 


Saxons ; and thus all the provinces along the south 
ern coast of Britain, except Cornwall and part of 
Devonshire, were lost to Christianity. In the year 
527, another great body, of Angles, invaded the 
eastern and midland districts, and by degrees con 
quering their way, established the kingdoms of Es 
sex, East Anglia, and Mercia. The kingdom of 
Northumberland had its rise still earlier, but it was 
not firmly settled till about a century after the 
landing of Hengist in Kent. 

Against these invaders the Britons made no 
effectual resistance but in the west of England, 
where their king Emrys, called also Aurelius Am- 
brosius, one of the last Roman Britons, gained a 
great victory over Hengist, and drove him back into 
the province he had first occupied. When the West 
8axons afterwards, under Cerdic, made an attempt 
to gain possession of Somersetshire, they were de 
feated with great loss by the famous king Arthur, at 
the British town of Cair-Badon, near Bath, to which 
they had laid siege, about A.D. 520. These victories 
seem to have settled the freedom of the Britons for 
that time in the West; and they remained for many 
years afterwards in Somerset, part of Devon, and 
Cornwall, under their own princes, as well as in 
Wales. In the North they defended themselves also 
for a long time in the mountains of Cumberland and 

It was not long after the founding of these seven 
kingdoms, that the Saxon princes began to dispute 
with each other about the division of the land. 
Ceaulin, king of the West Saxons, A.D. 560, being at 
war with all his neighbours, the other Saxon kings 
made league against him, and appointed ETHEL- 
BERT, king of Kent, commander of the joint forces. 
Ethelbert was an able and moderate prince, who, 


after defeating Ceaulin, was honoured by the allies 
with the title of Bret-walda, or " Lord of Britain." 
This title was, after his death, enjoyed by other lead 
ing princes among the Saxons. It gave him autho 
rity to preserve the public peace of the different 
kingdoms, and to prevent the encroachments of one 
warlike prince on the territory of another. By his 
power and prudence the new people were kept from 
destroying themselves ; and his long reign of fifty- 
six years gave them time to turn their attention to 
husbandry and peaceful occupations. 

At this period GREGORY, surnamed the Great, 
bishop of Rome, was happily inspired with a zeal for 
the conversion of the Anglo-Saxons. He was of 
Greek extraction, but born of honourable parents at 
Rome, where his grandfather Felix had been also 
bishop ; for at this early period it was common for 
the bishops of Rome to be, like their first apostle 
St. Peter, married men. Gregory had been a great 
benefactor to the people of Rome, as governor of 
the city under the emperor of Greece, before he be 
came a priest. When he determined to leave his 
civil duties and become a minister of the Church, 
he gave most of his wealth to build religious houses, 
and lived himself as a monk in a monastery of his 
own founding at Rome. He was a man of great 
piety and learning : but after the inroads of the 
Goths, almost all Christian learning was mixed with 
something of superstition. Nor ought this to move 
our wonder, if we consider how much of lawless 
violence was then let loose into the world. It was 
natural that at such times the suffering Christians 
should have fancied there was something wonderful 
and divine in what we should now call accidents, 
when they turned to the preservation of their lives 
or churches; as when they imagined that angels 


came in the form of beggars to ask their alms and 
warn them of danger in their way, or when the 
sword or fire suddenly stopped before the threshold 
of their homes. Nor should we pity these errors of 
rancy, as if all the advantage was on our side. It is 
far better for religion, when men live under a con 
stant sense of the truth of things unseen, than when 
a better knowledge of what are called the powers of 
nature makes men forget that the hand of God is in 
all these. 

Among other evils of this troubled period, it was 
a common practice for men to be employed in car 
rying off and making a traffic of slaves. St. Bavon, 
a holy man, whose memory is honoured in the Fle 
mish town of Ghent, lived at the same time with 
Gregory. He is said to have been engaged in his 
youth in this hateful traffic and when he had be 
gun to lead a life of repentance, he saw one day 
coming towards him a man whom he had sold. 
The pangs of remorse, which seized him at the 
sight, may be imagined. He threw himself at his 
feet, and cried aloud, "It is I who sold you bound 
with thongs; remember not, I beseech you, the 
wrong that I did you ; but grant me one prayer. 
Beat me with rods, and shave my head, as is done 
to thieves, and cast me bound hand and foot into 
prison. This is the punishment I deserve; and 
perhaps, if you will do this, the mercy of God will 
grant my pardon." Nothing would content Bavon, 
till the sufferer by his old injustice did as he was 
desired. The story shews at once the misery of the 
time, and how the moral power of Christianity 
struggled in rude breasts for its amendment and 

Gregory s first emotion of pity to the Saxons was 
called forth by a sight of like affliction, which indeed 
no Christian could behold unmoved. A number of 


merchants had arrived with a large importation of 
foreign merchandise ; and a crowd of people flock 
ing to the market-place to see what was there for 
sale, Gregory came among the rest, and saw some 
boys set forth to be sold as slaves. The fairness of 
their complexion, handsome form, and flaxen hair, 
so different from the dark olive hue and jetty locks 
of the Italians, struck him as remarkable. He in 
quired from whence they came; and being told from 
Britain, where the natives were commonly of that 
complexion, he asked further whether those islanders 
were Christians or pagans. When he heard that they 
were pagans, he sighed deeply: "Alas for grief !" 
he said, " that such bright faces should be under the 
dominion of the prince of darkness." In answer to 
his next question, learning that their nation were 
called Angles, " It is well," said Gregory ; " angels 
they are in countenance, and ought to be co-heirs of 
angels in heaven." Thus he continued to sport 
with the names of the province from which they 
came, and the king in whose territory they were 
born, ./Ella, king of Deorna, or " Deer-land," a 
name given by the Saxons to the northern part of 
Yorkshire. It was a kind-hearted mood, which 
concealed under an innocent jest a more serious 
feeling ; for from that day he determined himself 
to go on a mission into England. This was some 
years before his election to the see of Rome ; but 
his character was then so publicly esteemed by his 
countrymen, that they would not suffer him to quit 
them. When he became pope (a name given in 
early times to all bishops, and meaning no more than 
the common title now given to bishops, of " father 
in God"), his desire to benefit the Saxons was very 
soon put into effect. He instructed the agent of 
his estates in France to redeem the Saxon youths 
whom he might find in slavery in that country, that 


they might be placed in monasteries, and trained in 
Christian knowledge, to go afterwards as mission 
aries into their own country. And he sent AUGUS*- 
TINE, a Roman monk, at the head of forty mission 
aries, from his own monastery at Rome, to make 
his way to Britain. They were on their way de 
tained some time in France, and discouraged by 
the reports they received of the country. But when 
Augustine had returned to Gregory, to intreat that 
he would recall them from this dangerous and doubt 
ful enterprise, he was sent again with letters of en 
couragement to the party, bidding them to remem 
ber, that they could not without loss of credit give 
up the good work they had begun, and that they 
should look to the greater glory and crown which 
would follow the greater difficulty and toil. Thus 
confirmed, Augustine went forward, and taking with 
him interpreters from France, landed in the isle of 
Thanet with his company, in the month of August, 
A.D. .596. 

Ethelbert had received notice of their coming, 
and was not unwilling to receive them. Indeed, it 
would seem that the reports were spread bv some 
malicious persons; for there was no ground for the 
supposed danger. The wife of this " Lord of Bri 
tain" was BERTHA, daughter of Charibert, king of 
the Franks, who were then settled about Paris. She 
was herself a Christian ; and on her marriage it 
was agreed that she should be allowed to worship 
God according to the rites of her own religion, and 
should bring with her a bishop, by name Liudhard, 
as her instructor in the faith. Queen Bertha ac 
cordingly made use of a church, first built by the 
Romans while they had possession of Britain. This 
she repaired or rebuilt, and had it dedicated to the 
honour of St. Martin of Tours, already mentioned, 
an eminent saint among the Christians of her native 




country. A church still stands upon the spot, a 
piece of elevated ground, a little way out of the city 
of Canterbury. 

When, therefore, the messenger sent by Augus 
tine came to tell the king that these strangers had 
come from Rome with tidings which concerned his 
everlasting happiness, he gave orders that they should 
be entertained in the island of Thanet till he could 
determine further. A few days afterwards, Ethel- 
bert himself had a meeting with them in the island ; 
but the place he chose was in the open air, as it 
was a part of the belief of the old Saxons, that if the 
strangers were wizards or enchanters, they could not 
hurt a person unless under the same roof with them. 
Augustine and his company walked in procession to 
the meeting, chanting the litany, and bearing be 
fore them a silver cross and a sacred banner with a 


painting of our Saviour. Seats had been prepared 
for them ; and at the command of the king, they 
preached to him and his nobles the words of life. 
" They told," says an old Saxon author, " how the 
mild-hearted Healer of mankind, by his own throes 
of suffering, set free this guilty middle-earth, and 
opened to believing men the door of heaven. 3 
When they had ended, " These," said Ethelbert, 
" are fair words, and good promises, that you have 
brought ; but forasmuch as they are new and un 
known, we may not yet agree to forsake the ways 
which we with all the Angles have so long holden. 
However, as you have come hither from a foreign 
land, and it seems that you wish to make known to 
us the things that you believe to be good and true, 
we will not distress you. We will give you friendly 
entertainment, and supply you with what you want; 
and we do not forbid you to convert and bring over 
to you by your preaching whomsoever you may." 
He then gave them a dwelling in the city of Canter 
bury, the chief city of his dominions; and they were 
there maintained for some time, and had liberty 
to preach and teach the faith of Christ. It is said, 
that when they drew near for the first time to the 
city, going in procession as before with the cross and 
holy banner, they chanted this prayer : " We pray 
thee. O Lord, of thy great mercy, let thine anger and 
thy fury be turned away from this city, and from thy 

3 The longer account of this address, given by Mr. Southey, 
p. 18, from the " Acta Sanctorum," seems to be the invention 
of a later age. Augustine would not have called Gregory " the 
father of all Christendom." These assumptions of the popes 
did not begin till much later. Even Pascal IT., A.D. 1 100, only 
claimed to be head of the Church within the borders of Europe. 
And it is well known that the title of " universal bishop" ia 
one which Gregory did not assume himself, and called it blas 
phemous for any bishop to assume. 


holy house, though we have sinned against thee.* 
Praised be thy name, O Lord !" 

The zealous preaching of the monks, with the 
plain and frugal life they led, was not long without 
success. Many of the people believed and were 
baptised, admiring the peaceful manners of the 
preachers, and the sweetness of their heavenly doc 
trine. The queen gave them the use of the church 
of St. Martin s, where they met for prayer and praise, 
and preached and administered the sacraments, till 
the king himself becoming a convert, they had a 
greater liberty, and began to build new churches, or 
to restore those which had been standing in the 
British times. The behaviour of Ethelbert through 
out was such as to prove his conversion to be sincere. 
When great numbers, following his example, came 
to hear the gospel, and ^ n themselves to the Churcn, 
he is said to have rejoiced at it; but to have taken 
care that no man should be driven to embrace Chris 
tianity against his will : " only shewing more hearty 
love to those who believed," says Bede; "as if they 
were become his fellow-citizens, not only in an 
earthly, but in an heavenly kingdom." He began at 
once to provide a certain endowment for the Church, 
giving^a piece of ground for a cathedral church and 
bishop s residence in Canterbury, and appointing 
other possessions for it. 

When now more than ten thousand of the Eng 
lish had been baptised, within little more than a year 
after Augustine s arrival, he went in the latter part 
of A.D. 597 to his friends, Virgil archbishop of Aries, 
and Etherius, of Lyons in France, to obtain conse 
cration as first bishop of the English Church at 
Canterbury. In this, and most of the steps he took, 
he followed the advice of Gregory, to whom the 
Church of England must always look back as one o/ 
4 Froai Dan. ix. 16. 


its greatest benefactors. His name has accordingly 
been preserved, as it well deserves, in the calendar 
prefixed to our Prayer-book, with that of St. Alban 
and the old British saints. To his care in preserving 
the more ancient prayers and sacramental services of 
the Church, we owe much of the Prayer-book itself, 
as it now stands ; which was not taken from the 
Mass-book, as the Romanists boast, and Dissenters 
ignorantly believe, but is in these portions older than 
the beginning of the corrupt doctrine of the mass. 
He was, however, so far from obliging Augustine to 
observe rigidly the service in the form then used 
at Rome, that he charged him to search diligently 
if he could find any thing more edifying in other 
Churches. He mentions particularly the old Church 
of Gaul, or France, which seems to have been in his 
mind the same with the old British or Welch Church ; 
and we have seen in the mission of St. Germain how 
closely these Churches were united. " We are not 
to love customs," he said, " on account of the places 
from which they come ; but let us love all places 
where good customs are observed. Choose, there 
fore, from every Church whatever is pious, religious, 
and well-ordered ; and when you have made a bun 
dle of good rules, leave them for your best legacy to 
the English." 

It is a pity that Augustine s mind was not equally 
alive to the true catholic spirit of this advice. But 
man is the creature of habit ; and he had been used 
all his life to the Roman service and customs, so that 
he gave them a valae in some unimportant things, 
which, it is to be feared, prevented the union of the 
British and Saxon Christians. All England to the 
south of the Humber was now at peace, and the 
authority of Ethelbert reached from Canterbury to 
Chester and the borders of Wales. Near to the 
frontiers of the kingdom of Mercia, in this direction, 


tood the great monastery of Bangor-Iscoed, already 
mentioned, the chief nursery of the Church, and 
home of the priests of North Wales. To this quar 
ter Augustine took a journey, some years after his 
arrival, having invited the bishops and some of the 
most eminent, teachers of Wales to a conference. 
They readily came to a meeting with him, at a 
place called for some time -after Augustine s Oak, 
near the banks of the Severn. It is very likely that 
they assembled in the open air, under some large 
tree, as it was long after the custom of the Saxons 
to hold their meetings for civil purposes, their shire- 
moots or county meetings, where matters of law and 
justice were decided, at a wood-side, marked by 
some great oak-tree. Here were seven Welch bi 
shops, probably from St. David s, Llandaff, Llanba- 
darn, Bangor, and St. Asaph, with two from Somer 
set and Cornwall ; and their most learned men from 
Bangor-Iscoed, with Dunod their abbot. To them 
Augustine, after some length of conference, proposed 
that, if they would consent to three things, he would 
give them the right hand of fellowship. " For," said 
he, " you have many practices which are against the 
custom of the whole Church, not only that of the 
Church of Home. But yet, if you will keep Easter 
at the proper time ; if you will celebrate the rite of 
baptism as the holy apostolic Church of Rome does ; 
and if you will join with us in preaching the word of 
God to the Anglo-Saxons, we will bear with all other 

In explanation of these words, it must be ob 
served, that the British Church at this time kept 
their Easter-day on a Sunday, from the fourteenth 
to the twentieth day of the paschal moon inclusive ; 
whereas the Roman Church kept it on the Sunday 
wh^ch fell between the fifteenth and twenty-first. 
The rule of the Church laid down at the council of 


Nice, A.r>. 325, mentioned in the preceding chapter, 
was, that Easter should be kept on the first Sunday 
after the full moon next following the twenty-first 
day of March. Some old Churches of the East had 
kept it on the fourteenth day of the moon, which 
was the day of the Jews passover, on whatever day 
of the week it fell. The Britons seem to have had 
this custom, which they supposed to be observed 
in the Churches founded by St. John in Asia; but 
after the council of Nice, wishing to correct their 
practice, they had still begun one day too soon. It 
was no doubt desirable that all the Churches should 
observe one day. And in the course of time the 
Welch Christians, by the advice of Elfod, bishop of 
Bangor, A.D. 755, followed the rule M hich Augustine 
now wished to impose on them. 

The time which he took, however, to require 
their conformity was very ill chosen. It was his 
duty rather to have yielded to them in all things not 
absolutely necessary to be observed. And his de 
mand respecting the way of administering baptism 
was still less justifiable. It was indeed a practice 
which many of the primitive Christians observed, 
that the infant or adult person should be dipped 
three times in water, in memory of the Three Per 
sons of the blessed Trinity, or of our Saviour s 
having been three days in the heart of the earth. 
But Gregory, writing to Leander, bishop of Seville 
in Spain at this time, approved of his judgment 
about this question : " It is true," said he, " we use 
three immersions at Rome ; but in such a matter as 
this, while the faith of the Church is one, there is no 
harm in a little difference of custom." Augustine, 
on the contrary, seems to have thought it a practice 
handed down from the apostles, which it was not 
lawful in any degree to change. 

Another thing the Britons observed in the beha- 


viour of Augustine, which made them less willing to 
listen favourably to any thing he might say. It is 
said that, when on their way to the conference, they 
had turned aside to the cell of a hermit of high cha 
racter for his piety and wisdom, and had asked him 
what he would advise them to do. " If Augustine is 
a man of God," he said, " follow his counsel." " But 
how," they asked, " shall we have proof of this ?" 
" Our Lord has said," replied the hermit, " Take my 
yoke upon you, and learn of me ; for I am meek and 
lowly in heart. If, therefore, Augustine is meek and 
lowly, you may believe that he bears the yoke of 
Christ, and will offer it to you to bear : but if he is 
ungentle and high-minded, it shews that he is not of 
God." "And how," they asked again, "shall we 
discern the one from the other ?" " See that he 
come first with his company to the place of meeting, 
and when he is seated, make your approach. If ne 
rises before you at your coming, then be sure that 
he is Christ s servant, and hear his word. But if he 
despises you, and will not rise, you have the greate-- 
number on your side, despise him again." There 
was a little of Welch blood betrayed in the last part 
of this advice : and it took effect accordingly. Au 
gustine was seated when they came, and did not 
rise. They took it as a proof of pride, and said 
to each other, " If he treats us thus now, what may 
we expect if we submit to put ourselves under him 
as our primate?" To his proposals they answered 
they would not admit them, nor would they esteem 
him as archbishop. Dunod spoke last : " We are 
bound to serve the Church of God, and the bishop 
of Rome, and every godly Christian, as far as helping 
tdem in offices of love and charity : this service we 
are ready to pay; but more than this I do not know 
to be due to him or any other. We have a primate 
of our own, who is to oversee us under God, and 


to keep us in the way of spiritual life." Augustine 
shewed something of disappointment at this close of 
a scheme of union for which he had taken so much 
pains. " I foresee," he said, " that if you will not 
have peace with brethren, you will have war with 
foes ; and if you will not preach the way of life to 
the English, you will suffer deadly vengeance at 
their hands." Thus they parted ; and shortly after 
Augustine and his friend Gregory died, A.D. 604. 

His closing words, however, were remembered as 
having something prophetic in them, when a few 
years later, Ethelfrid, a warlike Saxon king of North 
umberland, made war upon the Welch. A number 
of priests and monks from the monastery of Bangor 
had taken their post on an eminence near the field 
of battle to pray for the success of their countrymen. 
The pagan chief observed them, and inquired who 
they were, and what they were doing. On being 
told ; " Then," said he, " if they are praying to their 
God against us, though they bear no weapons, they 
fight against us, and harm us with their curses. 
Let them be assaulted first." A Welch chief, who 
had been appointed to defend them, fled at the ap 
proach of the Saxons, and the unhappy Christian 
flock was left to the wolves of war, without means 
of resistance. Twelve hundred of them are said 
to have perished, and not more than fifty to have 
escaped from this cruel slaughter. 

Some modern writers, who have noticed these 
events, have accused Augustine of having stirred up 
the pagan Saxons against these poor Welch Chris 
tians. It is an accusation quite unfounded. Bede 
tells us that Augustine was dead long before ; and 
if he had been living, he was quite without any 
means of communication with Ethelfrid, who lived 
too far north to be under any control from the au 
thority of Ethelbert. The slaughter of the monks 


at Bangor, however, did not take place till A.D. 607, 
or, as some accounts say, A.D. 613. 

Augustine s success seems to have made him 
believe there was some miraculous power displayed 
in it; as it was the common belief of the Italian* 
long afterwards, that miracles would be shewn to 
aid the work of missionaries among barbarous na 
tions. On this subject he also received a letter of 
pious advice from Gregory, not to suffer himself 
to be uplifted by vain-glory, but to remember our 
Lord s words to his disciples, " Rejoice not in this, 
but that your names are written in heaven." He 
suffered him to turn the temples of Saxon idols into 
churches, and advised only that the idols should 
be destroyed, holy water sprinkled about the place, 
and relics of saints or martyrs placed there. In this 
there was something of superstition. The practice 
of the earlier Christians had been, not to make use 
of heathen temples, but rather to take their halls of 
justice, or other public buildings, which had not 
been used for acts of religion. And this was better, 
as it marked more distinctly the difference between 
the true faith and the pagan errors; for it would 
be almost impossible that, while the worship was in 
the same place, the people s minds should not mix 
up some remembrance of their old worship. As to 
the use of relics, it seems to have begun before 
Gregory s time. When one of their brethren suf 
fered martyrdom, the persecuted Christians used to 
gather up the ashes from the flames, or the bones 
\vhich were left by the wild beasts, and to give 
them Christian burial in churches or churchyards. 
They remembered how Moses had carefully brought 
the bones of Joseph out of Egypt to lay them in the 
sspulchre of his fathers; and they thought it wrong 
to leave the remains of their dear friends in the 
eaods of unbelievers. This was a true and right 


feeling. But it became a superstition, when after 
wards these remains were sought for to be placed 
in other churches, when they were carried in urns 
and caskets from one country to another, and no 
place was accounted holy enough which had not 
some of these relics preserved near the altar. The 
use of holy water was also superstitious. In early 
times it was common in the East, and in Africa and 
other hot countries, to have a large stone basin or 
fountain of water in the court before the entrance 
to the church, that the people might, if they pleased, 
wash off the heat and dust,-and refresh their faces, 
before they went in t worship. Afterwards the 
priest sprinkled the congregation within the church, 
as used to be done by heathens in their temples ; 
and it seems that Gregory thought it a ceremony 
to be used in consecrating the building itself. It 
may be that he only advised this sprinkling as an 
outward sign of purification for Christian worshio. 
It was not yet that the holy water was made a kind 
of charm against diseases, and to drive away evil 

In all other points the counsels of Gregory were 
praiseworthy. He sent over to Augustine, A.D. 601, 
a new company of missionaries, among whom were 
Mellitus, Justus, and Paulinus, all men who laboured 
zealously in promoting Christianity in England ; and 
with them they brought, besides the relics already 
mentioned, a number of holy vessels for the sacra 
ments, altar-cloths, and vestments for the priests. 
What was of still greater value, they brought a 
manuscript copy of the Bible in two volumes, two 
copies of the Psalms as they were sung in churches, 
two copies of the Gospels, a book of Lives of the 
Apostles and Martyrs, and a Commentary on the 
Gospels and Epistles. These were perhaps the first 
written books which made their appearance am 


our Saxon forefathers. They also brought to Au 
gustine a pall, a kind of scarf wound round the nedi 
with the end hanging down before ; by which Gre. 
gory appointed him primate or archbishop of the 
English Church. 

It was the order taken in the ancient Church, 
after Christianity became settled in the old Roman 
empire, that the bishops of the capital cities in the 
provinces were called patriarchs ; and they had the 
right of ordaining archbishops under them, and 
some authority over all the Church in that province. 
Thus the bishop of Lyons, the oldest Christian 
Church in France, the bishop of Milan in the north 
of Italy, and the bishop of Rome in the south, were 
patriarchs ; as were also the bishops of Constan 
tinople, Antioch, and Alexandria, in the eastern 
parts of Christendom. It is also supposed that the 
bishop of York was patriarch of Britain, while this 
island was a Roman province. It was therefore an 
act of Gregory s, by which he claimed to be patri 
arch of the Anglo-Saxon Church, when he sent 
Augustine a pall. It was natural that he should 
claim something of respect and consideration from a 
Christian community converted by his missionaries; 
and it was no more than his due. He had no notion 
that any of his successors would make it a pretence 
for exacting money from the English, or set their 
power above the king s. It was his wish to have 
appointed two other archbishops, of London and 
of York; and to have sent them palls. His whole 
scheme was, to have had twelve bishops ordained 
for south Britain, and twelve for the north, under 
the archbishop of York ; the kingdom of Northum 
berland at this time, under the warlike Ethelfrid, 
having been enlarged from the Humber into a great 
part of the lowlands of Scotland, where most of the 
country people have ever since been of Saxon race. 


These designs, however, were far too great to be 
carried into effect in the life of Gregory or Augus 
tine. What was now done was the building of the 
cathedral church of Canterbury, on a site given by 
Ethelbert, where an old Roman church had once 
stood. This Augustine dedicated in the name of 
our blessed Saviour, by the title of Christ s Church. 
He also built a house for the bishop near it ; and 
a little way out of the city he began to found a 
monastery for his monks and clergy, and a church 
belonging to it in honour of St. Peter and St. Paul. 
This he did not live to finish : it was completed by 
Laurence, whom he ordained to succeed him as 
archbishop after his death. He was also enabled, 
by the bounty of Ethelbert, to found another 
bishopric at the city of Rochester, and another at 
London, then the chief city of the little kingdom of 
Essex, which extended over the county so called 
and part of Hertfordshire and Middlesex. Sebert, 
king of Essex, was sister s son to Ethelbert, and was 
easily persuaded to follow the example of his uncle, 
and receive Mellitus to preach the Gospel among 
his subjects. He became accordingly first bishop 
of the Saxons in London, which was then, as it had 
been in the time of the Romans, the chief place of 
resort for foreign merchandise. Rochester was also 
a Roman town, but had received a new name from 
the Saxons. Justus was appointed its first bishop. 
In both these cities, churches were built for the 
bishops at the expense of king Ethelbert: that in 
London was called St. Paul s; and that in Roches 
ter, St. Andrew s ; by which names the cathedrals, 
standing on the same ground, are still known. At 
the same date, king Sebert also founded the ancient 
abbey of Westminster. The charter or deed, by 
which king Ethelbert gave a portion of land to the 
Church of Rochester is preserved to this day. It 


is remarkable as the oldest deed or legal writing 
preserved in England; for before the time of Chris 
tianity the Saxons had no letters in use, except such 
as were carved on stones or wooden staves, such as 
Lapland witches use, and which their wizards and 
conjurors used as spells and charms. 5 

The good king Ethelbert in this charter, dated 
A.D. 604<, shortly after Augustine s death, addresses 
himself to his son Edbald, who was still a pagan, 
wishing him a hearty conversion to the catholic 
faith ; and at the end of it pronounces a heavy curse 
upon those who should hereafter diminish from or 
hinder the effect of his gift. This was accompanied 
by a good prayer for those who should increase it; 
and was probably occasioned by the danger he saw 
would hang over this newly-founded grant, if his son 
did not become a Christian. 

The first great public benefit which came to the 
Saxons from Christianity, was a collection of written 
laws or decrees in their own language, the old Eng 
lish or Saxon tongue, put forth by the authority 
of Ethelbert, with the advice of his parliament, or 
council of wise men. These were the earliest Eng 
lish written laws ; and were afterwards in part taken 
by the great king Alfred into the collection of laws 
which he made for the English people. Ethelbert 
died in the fifty-seventh year of his long and pro 
sperous reign, A.D. 616. He was buried in St. Mar 
tin s porch, where his queen Bertha had been buried, 
adjoining the church of St. Peter and St. Paul, after 
wards called, in honour of the first English arch- 

1 King Alfred, in his version of Bede s History, tells a 
story of a Christian Saxon taken prisoner by the pagans ; 
whose chains being found loose, the earl whose captive he was 
asked him " whether he knew the loosing rhyme, or had with 
him the written stones, that he could not be bound." B. iv. 
c. 22. 


bishop, St. Augustine s. There also Augustine and 
the early Saxon primates were all buried. 

Archbishop Laurence, when he hail succeeded 
to Augustine, and completed this church, made 
another attempt, by sending letters fo the Welch 
bishops, to bring them to an agreement. He sent 
letters also to the Scottish bishops, the greater part 
of which nation then inhabited Ireland, whose cus 
toms were the same with those of the ancient Bri 
tish Church. But these letters were of no effect; 
and Laurence, when he had paid the last duties to 
the remains of Ethelbert, soon found other difficul 
ties to call his attention nearer home. 



They listen d : for unto their ear 

The word, which they had long d to hear, 

Had come at last, the lifeful word. 

Which they had often almost heard 

In some deep silence of the breast : 

For with a sense of dim unrest 

That word unborn had often wrought 

And struggled in the womb of thought ; 

And lo ! it now was born indeed, 

Here was the answer to their need. R. C. TRENCH. 

Y the death of Ethelbert, the newly 
founded English Church lost its best 
protector. He left for his successor 
his son Edbald, a prince who during his 
father s lifetime had refused to be in 
structed in the Christian faith, and a widow, a second 
wife whom he had married after the death of Bertha. 
This widow Edbald by an incestuous union took to 
himself. His wild temper in other respects was such 
as to wear the symptoms of madness. And now all 
those, whom respect or hope of reward had led to 
embrace the faith, openly renounced it. 

About the same time died Sebert, king of Es 
sex, and left his dominions to three pagan sons. It 
is said that these barbarian princes, entering the 
church of St. Paul s while Mellitus was adminis 
tering the Lord s supper, desired him to give them 
some of that white bread which he was distributing 


to the people. As he knew that they had refused 
to be baptised, he said, " If you despise the laver of 
life, you cannot partake of the bread of life." Upon 
this, complaining of his refusal to oblige them in so 
small a matter, they told him to quit the country. 
He left London with his monks and clergy, and 
came with Justus, who had left Rochester, to a 
conference with Laurence at Canterbury. It was 
determined that it was better to go where they 
could serve God without distraction than to dwell 
among enemies. Mellitus and Justus crossed over 
to France, leaving Laurence, who was preparing to 
follow them in a few days afterwards. 

His departure was prevented by a remarkable 
vision, which appears to have had in it something 
of a providential character. On the night before 
the day fixed for his journey, he ordered his pallet- 
bed to be laid in the church of St. Peter and St. 
Paul, that he might take his last rest in that holy 
place before he quitted these shores. " He passed," 
says Alfred, " a long night in prayers, and poured 
forth many tears, and sent up many a supplication 
to God for the continuance of the Church, till he 
was spent and weary, and put his limbs in posture 
for sleep." In a dream he seemed to see the apostle 
St. Peter, who sternly reproved him for thinking 
of flight, when he would leave behind the flock of 
Christ in the midst of wolves. " Have you for- . 
gotten my example," said the vision ; " the chains, 
the stripes, the bonds and afflictions, nay, the 
death which I endured for those lambs, whom 
Christ committed to my care and bade me to feed, 
as the test by which he would prove my love ?" 
Laurence awoke, and in the pangs of remorse for 
his weakness afflicted his body with the discipline 
of the scourge ; and thus, under the zeal inspired 
by what he believed to be a divine warning, came 


for the last time to make an appeal to the conscience 
of Edbald. The earnestness with which he spoke, 
and the sufferings of mind and body displayed in 
his appearance, awakened the king s better feelings. 
As his refusal of Christianity had been from enmity 
to its moral standard rather than want of conviction 
of its truth, he was now changed at once ; he gave 
up his idolatry, renounced his unlawful union, and 
became a baptised Christian. Mellitus and Justus 
were recalled ; and from this time Christianity was 
fixed in the kingdom of Kent, though some years 
were to elapse before it could be replaced in Lon 
don. It is not wonderful, if the simple superstition 
of the Saxons, or the natural tendency in men " to 
magnify the mighty things they hear," led them to 
tell the story of this vision as if the spectre himself 
had inflicted the scourge on the back of Laurence. 
The Bretwalda, or lord of Britain, who suc 
ceeded to Ethelbert in the authority conveyed by 
that title, was Redwald, king of the East Angles. 
His power was established by a battle in which 
Ethel frid of Northumbria was defeated and slain, 
A.D. 617. Redwald, on a visit which he paid to 
Ethelbert in Kent, had been persuaded to receive 
baptism ; but on his return home, finding his queen 
and other counsellors averse to the new faith, he 
attempted to compromise matters, and had a Chris 
tian altar for the holy communion set up in a 
pagan temple, where other rites of an idolatrous 
kind were still continued. At this period EDWIN, 
a Northumbrian prince, flying from the malice of 
Ethelfrid, his uncle, who had usurped his throne 
and sought his life, came for refuge to his court. 
He was courteously received ; but it was soon seen 
that the same irresolute conduct, which shewed 
itself in the religion of Redwald, endangered also 
Lis word of promise to his guest. Ethelfrid sent 


messengers more than once, offering a price for 
Edwin s head, and threatening war if he was still 
protected. On the arrival of the last of these mes 
sengers, Edwin, who had just withdrawn to his 
chamber for the night, was called out by a trusty 
friend into the open air, who informed him that the 
king had promised either to give him up to Ethel- 
frid s messengers, or to put him to death in his own 
court. " Now then, if you will be guided by me, I 
will lead you to a place where neither Redwald nor 
Ethelfrid shall ever find you." Edwin thanked him 
for his good will ; but weary of his life of danger, 
he declared his resolution to remain where he was, 
and rather to abide his death from the king than 
from any meaner hand. 

His friend having left him, Edwin remained 
alone in the gloom of the night; and sitting on a 
stone before the palace-door, gave himself up to 
the uncheerful musings of his situation. Suddenly 
he saw a figure of a man coming towards him, 
whose step and stature were unlike any that he 
knew. While he gazed towards it in some alarm, 
a strange voice asked him why he sat watching 
there while others slept. " It matters not," said 
the unhappy prince, somewhat impatiently ; " let it 
be my choice to watch and pass the night out of 
doors rather than within." " Do not think," said 
the stranger, " that I am ignorant of the cause of 
this lonely watch, or of the evil which you fear. 
But tell me, what meed would you bestow on him 
who should set you free from this distress, and assure 
you that Redwald will neither himself do you any 
wrong, nor give you up to the foes that seek your 
life?" " For such a kindness the meed that would 
be his due would be whatever good I had it in my 
power to bestow." " But what if you should find 
him to have truly promised not only this, but that. 


after the downfal of your foes, you shall excel in 
might and rule all the kings that have been before 
vou ; will you hereafter be ready to follow his 
counsel, if he shall shew you a better rule of life 
than you or your forefathers have ever known ?" 
Edwin, whose hopes of deliverance rose as this 
conversation went on, gave a ready promise that he 
would in all things obey his counsel. With this the 
stranger laid his hand upon the prince s head, and 
said, " When this token shall come to you again, 
remember this time, and the words that have passed 
between us, and delay not to fulfil your promise." 
He then disappeared ; and Edwin, wondering at 
the appearance and the message, thought he had 
seen a spirit. It is most likely that this mysterious 
person was a Christian, who had accompanied Red- 
wald from Kent ; and having become acquainted 
with his change of purpose, took this way of com 
municating it to Edwin, in the hope, which was not 
disappointed, of making it hereafter serviceable to 
the advancement of the faith among the Saxons in 
the north. 

He had not long departed, when Edwin s friend 
made his appearance again, and reported that Red- 
wald s queen had turned her husband from his weak 
and treacherous counsel, and that he was now pre 
pared to defend his cause to the uttermost of his 
power. The messengers of Ethelfrid had scarcely 
left his territory, when Redwald assembled his forces, 
and attacking the fierce pagan before he had time to 
prepare for his defence, slew him in battle, and de 
livered his kingdom into the hands of Edwin. The 
field of this slaughter, in which Regner, son of Red 
wald, fell, was on the banks of the river Idel in 

It was about eight years later, A.D. 625, when, 
after the death of Redwald, Edwin had sticce?ded to 


his title of lord of Britain, and had by his successes 
obtained a more ample dominion than any former 
king, having a realm extending from the northern 
shore of the Humber far into the lowlands of Scot 
land, and having added to it the Welch province of 
Cumberland and the two islands of Man and Mona, 1 
that a distinguished visitor at his court reminded 
him of this memorable interview. Edwin sought 
in marriage Ethelburga, daughter of Ethelbert of 
Kent. Her brother Edbald, at this time turned from 
his errors, refused to give her to a pagan ; till Edwin 
promised that she, with her household, should enjoy 
the free exercise of her religion ; that he would re 
ceive her bishop or other ministers, and would him 
self become a convert to her creed, " if his wise 
counsellors found it to be more holy and more pleas 
ing to God than his own." On this answer, it was 
determined at the Kentish court that PAULINUS 
should accompany her as domestic chaplain ; and as 
the answer gave the hope that the Northumbrians 
might through him receive the word of God, he was 
consecrated as a missionary bishop to Northumbria. 
Laurence and Mellitus, the second and third arch 
bishops of Canterbury, were now dead ; and it was 
from Justus, who had succeeded Mellitus, that he 
received consecration. 

The men whom Gregory had sent over on his 
English mission appear to have been men of pru 
dence as well as piety ; and this was the character of 
Paulinus. He was not at first forward in attacking 
the pagan superstitions, but waited for a favourable 
time to speak a word for Christianity ; contenting 
himself with a careful regard to the Christian mem 
bers of the queen s household, and inviting others, 

1 Called from this time Angles-ege, " Angles Island," or 


who might be willing to hear, to attend his preach 
ing. The following year an attempt was made to as 
sassinate Edwin. A messenger from Cwichelm, king 
of Wessex, arrived at his court with a pretended 
embassy; and watching his opportunity, while Edwin 
was giving him an audience, drew a poisoned dagger 
from his vest and rushed towards the royal seat. The 
king s life was saved by the self-devotedness of his 
faithful thane, Lilla, who, having no other means for 
his defence, presented his own body to receive the 
murderer s weapon. Such, however, was the force 
with which it was aimed, that the point reached the 
king through the body of his slaughtered friend; and 
it was not till after a severe struggle, in which another 
of the attendants lost his life, that the assassin was 
despatched. In the same night, Ethelburga was 
safely delivered of a daughter, who was named 
Eanfleda, and lived to be a distinguished patroness 
of the Northumbrian Christians. When Edwin gave 
thanks to his gods for her safety, Paulinus offered 
his thanks to the true Saviour, and ventured to tell 
the king that it was not to those idols, but to Him 
to whom his prayers were addressed, that this benefit 
was owing. The king listened without displeasure, 
and promised that if he were prospered with life 
and victory over the prince who had suborned this 
murderer, he would himself openly choose the service 
of Christ. In token of the sincerity of his promise, 
he gave his infant daughter to be baptised by Pau 
linus, who thus was made the first-fruits of the Nor 
thumbrian mission ; and with her, eleven members of 
the royal household were also baptised. The wound 
which Edwin had received being shortly healed, he 
inarched against the West Saxons, and gave them a 
great defeat, in which five of their princes are said 
to have fallen. His power being thus established 
over the whole country, he returned and held fre- 


<\uent conferences with Paulinus, giving up the ido 
latry of his fathers, but taking some time to meditate 
what course he should next pursue. The successors 
of Gregory, at Rome, were regularly informed, by 
the missionaries, of the state of things in England ; 
and at this time, pope Boniface took the pains to 
write letters both to Edwin and Ethelburga, exhort 
ing the king to receive the word that was preached 
to him, and the queen to use her influence with her 
husband for his spiritual good. These letters were 
accompanied with presents ; for the king, a soldier s 
shirt of proof or hauberk ornamented with gold, and 
a camp-cloak or gabardine of strong and precious 
cloth ; for the queen, an ivory comb set in gold, and 
a mirror of polished silver. 2 Still Edwin delayed to 
declare his conversion ; he often passed his hours in 
solitude, and seemed to be in perplexity ; sometimes 
he asked the advice of the nobles of his court, who 
had the greatest esteem for wisdom ; but without 
coming to any conclusion. Paulinus now suspected 
that something of kingly pride was struggling in his 
breast against his better conviction ; and seeking him 
one day as he sat alone, laid his right hand on his 
head, and asked him whether he remembered that 
token. The king, startled at the question, was ready 
to fall at his feet; but Paulinus preventing him, 
went on : " Behold," he said, " thou hast by God s 
grace escaped from the hands of the foes whom thou 
didst dread ; and through his bounty thou hast ob 
tained the kingdom thou desiredst : remember now 
the third thing, the fulfilment of which depends on 
thine own promise ; that he who has raised thee 
to a short-lived worldly kingdom, and put down thy 

2 An ivory comb of this century, supposed to have been the 
property of St. Cuthbert, is still to be seen at Durham. I he 
mirrors of this period were commonly of polished steel or some 
other metal, the art of silvering glass being much more modem. 


earthly foes, may deliver thee from eternal woe, ami 
give thee a part of his eternal kingdom in heaven." 

The mysterious message thus recalled to mind, 
a message which had been so exactly fulfilled,. 
overpowered the soul of Edwin. He called his 
friends and counsellers together, that they might 
deliver their opinions on the new faith proposed for 
their acceptance, and if they were found to agree 
with his own, that they might altogether be hallowed 
at the font of life in the name of Christ. The first 
to speak was Coifi, the chief priest of the Northum 
brians. " It is your part," said he to the king, " to 
see what is this new doctrine which is preached to us. 
This at least I know, that there is neither virtue nor 
profit in what we have hitherto held and taught. If 
these gods whom we have served were of any power, 
they would have helped me to honour and advance 
ment from you, rather than others whom you have 
advanced ; since I have served them most. But since 
they cannot protect their most zealous worshippers, 
my advice is, that if what is now preached to us 
stands on better and stronger proofs, let us receive 
it at once." 

Another noble delivered himself in a speech 
more befitting a consultation on the highest inte 
rest of man : " The present life, O king, weighed 
with the time that is unknown, seems to me like 
this. When you are sitting at a feast, with your 
earls and thanes in winter-time, and the fire is 
lighted, and the hall is warmed, and it rains and 
snows, and the storm is loud without, then comes 
a sparrow and flies through the house. It comes in 
at one door, and goes out at the other. While it is 
within, it is not touched by the winter s storm ; 
but it is but for the twinkling of an eye ; for from 
winter it comes, and to winter it soon again returns. 
So also this life of man endureth for a little space ; 


what goes before, or what follows after, we know 
not. Wherefore if this new lore bring any thing 
more certain or more profitable, it is fit that we 
should follow it." 

Others having spoken to the same purpose, Coifi 
at length proposed that they should hear Paulinus 
speak of the God whom he preached to them. His 
address was such as to move the aged priest to a 
kind of revenge against his old paganism, in which 
he had long sought for satisfaction of his doubts in 
vain. He besought the king that, as it was now 
determined all should renounce their idol-worship 
and become Christians, he might be the first to 
profane the temples. With the king s permission, 
he mounted the king s own war-horse, girded with a 
sword, and brandishing a spear; and thus equipped 
he rode to the sacred enclosure surrounding the 
temple, which was the highest place of heathen wor 
ship in Northumbria. This was at Godmundingham, 
" the home protected by the gods," now called God- 
mundham, near Market Weighton, in the East- 
Riding of Yorkshire. It was unlawful for the Saxon 
priests to bear arms, or to ride except on a mare ; 
so that the strange appearance of Coifi attracted the 
notice of the people, who thought that he was seized 
with madness. Their surprise was still greater, when 
they saw him hurl his spear and fix it fast in the 
temple-wall. His followers then quickly set fire to 
the wooden structure, broke down the fences round, 
and thus publicly abolished the pagan worship of 

King Edwin was baptised at York, on Easter- 
day, A.D. 627, in a small church built of timber, and 
dedicated by the name of St. Peter s. From such a 
humble beginning arose the splendid minster of that 
ancient city. Here he fixed the seat of a bishopric 

for Paulinus, and wrote to Honorius, then bishop of 

v * 


Rome, to obtain for him the honour of a pall. After 
his baptism he immediately began to erect a church 
of stone, which was to enclose the wooden walls al 
ready erected, and to be itself of larger dimensions; 
but this was not completed till the reign of Oswald, 
his successor. The old Saxon kings commonly re 
sided at country villages, where they had their halls 
or hunting-seats, and changed from one of these 
residences to another. Edwin had owe of these, if 
not more, in each of the Ridings of Yorkshire, ami 
others farther to the north. Paulinus removed from 
place to place with the court ; at one time preaching 
and baptising at Yeverin in Glendale, near the river 
Till in Northumberland, at another at Catterick on 
the Swale, near Richmond, and another at Donafeld, 
which is supposed to be near Doneaster. In the 
first of these places it is said that the number of 
people who flocked to him was so great, that for six- 
and-thirty days he was engaged from morning till 
evening in giving them daily instruction. When 
they could answer to the catechism he taught, they 
were baptised in the little river Glen, and in the 
clear waters of the Swale ; " for as yet there were 
no houses of prayer or baptisteries built," says Bede, 
" in the first years of the infant Church." However, 
at Donafeld the king built a second chnreh near hrs 
royal hall ; but this, together with the mansion, was 
shortly afterwards destroyed by the pagan Angles of 

Edwin s zeal did not rest satisfied with the care 
of his own subjects; he persuaded Eorpwald, son of 
Redwald, to receive Christianity into East Anglia. 
This prince being stain in an insurrection of his 
pagan subjects, his brother Sigebert succeeded to 
his dominions ; and he is said to have been a very 
zealous promoter of the new doctrine. He had 
passed some years in France, where he had not only 


been instructed in the Christian faith, but had ac 
quired more learning than was common among the 
Saxon princes. When he came to take the govern 
ment into his hands, he brought with him Felix, a 
Burgundian bishop, who was sent, with the consent 
of Honoring, then the primate, as missionary into 
East Anglia. There is no part of England into 
which Christianity was more favourably introduced 
than this, or where it flourished more in later Saxon 
times. Here too was the first school founded for 
the instruction of boys in letters, according to the 
model of those which king Sigebert had seen in 
France. It has, indeed, been conjectured, by some 
who are anxious to prove the antiquity of our uni 
versities, that this school was planted at Grantches- 
ter, afterwards called Cambridge : but it is more 
likely that it was at Dunwich, on the Suffolk coast, 
which was for a long time under the Saxons the see 
of a bishop, and where Felix resided. The name of 
this bishop appears to be still preserved by the village 
of Felixstow, " the dwelling of Felix," on the same 

The kingdom of Edwin at this time extended 
into Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire : and Pauli- 
nus crossed the Humber to preach the Gospel at 
Lincoln. Here his first convert was the reeve, or 
governor, of the city, a man of wealth named Blecca, 
who, after he had received baptism with all his family, 
devoted part of his substance to build a handsome 
stone church. He also visited the banks of Trent, 
and baptised near Southwell, where, in Bede s time, 
about one hundred years afterwards, the tradition of 
the place preserved some memorial of the personal 
appearance of this first bishop and missionary of the 
province of York, of the height of his stature above 
the middle size, his dark hair, his aquiline nose, and 
pale and dignified countenance. 


At these public baptisms the king was usually 
present: and from the time of his conversion to the 
breaking out of the war in which he lost his life, the 
realms over which he ruled are said to have enjoyed 
a most prosperous state of peace. And so watchful 
was he in maintaining justice, that it became a pro 
verb in after-time to describe a good government as 
like king Edwin s reign, when a mother with a ten 
der infant might have travelled in safety from one 
sea to the other. It is also recorded, to the praise 
of his beneficence, that wherever a fountain of clear 
water welled forth beside the public way, he pro 
vided for the refreshment of wayfarers an iron jack 
or drin king-vessel, fastened to a post set in the 
ground ; and such was the love and fear of his 
name, that none of his subjects would remove these 
vessels, or touch them for any purpose but that for 
which they were designed. 

In the rivalry ot so .nany small kingdoms, how 
ever, peace was not easily preserved. Penda, a rude 
pagan warrior, who had succeeded at an advanced 
age to the throne of Mercia made league with Cad- 
wal, king of Wales, again? Edwin. In a battle 
fought at Hatfield Chase, near Doncaster, the Nor 
thumbrian monarch was defeated and slain ; and the 
country which he had so well governed was laid 
open to the inroads of two fierce chiefs, who made 
havoc of all that fell into their hands, sparing neither 
women nor children. Cadwal was, indeed, a Chris 
tian : but his vengeance against the Saxons, whom 
he naturally considered as foreign invaders, aimed at 
nothing short of their destruction. In the midst of 
this confusion and calamity, Paulinus, taking with 
him Ethelburga, Edwin s widow, with her children, 
guarded by one of the bravest of the king s thanes, 
made his way by sea into Kent, where he and they 
were honourably received by Honorius, whom he 


had shortly before consecrated at Lincoln to the see 
of Canterbury, and by king Edbald. It is a strong 
proof of the fidelity of his escort of Christian so.- 
diers from Northumberland, that he was enabled 
not only to preserve his life and the lives of the 
women and children on this dangerous journey, but 
even to convey and deposit at Canterbury some 
precious vessels and ornaments presented by Edwin 
for the service of his church, particularly a large 
cross of gold, and a golden chalice for the holy 
communion. He left behind him in the north his 
deacon James or Jacob, the companion of his mis 
sionary labours, who continued to preach and re 
ceive converts by the rite of baptism, residing chiefly 
at Akeburgh, "Jacob s Town," near Richmond; and 
who afterwards, when peace was restored, taught 
the Christians at York the use of chanting, as it was 
already practised at Canterbury, in the manner 
which Augustine had learnt at Rome. Paulinus 
did not himself return any more to York ; but the 
see of Rochester being then without a bishop, he 
was invited by Edbald and Honorius to that charge, 
in which he died at a good old age about ten years 

The death of Edwin took place on the twelfth 
of October. A.D. 633, six years and a half from the 
date of his baptism, in the forty-ninth year of his 
age, and the eighteenth of his reign. His name, 
which has passed, like that of Oswald, Alfred, and 
Edward, his successors as Christian princes and de 
fenders of the faith, into a common English Christian 
name, is a memorial of the veneration paid to his 
memory by our forefathers. A faithful retainer car 
ried his head from the field of battle to York, where 
it was honourably buried in a porch of St. Peter s 
Church, called St. Gregory s porch, after the good 
pope from whose disciples he had received the word 



of life. His widow Ethelburga retired from the 
world into the monastery of Liming in Kent, found 
ed for her by her brother Edbald, where her holy 
and exemplary life caused her to be revered as a 
eaiiit after her death, in A.D. 64-7. 



I like a blunt indifference ; 
Affections which, if put to proof, are kind ; 
And piety tow rds God. Such men of old 
Were England s native growth. 


have thus far seen the work of the 
Gospel among our Saxon forefathers 
done only by the Italian missionaries, 
and a few fellow- labourers from the 
shores of France. But we shall now 
see how the truth, taught by the ancient Britons to 
the wild nations of Ireland and Scotland, came back 
to enlighten the country from which it had at first 
been spread. The sons of king Ethelfrid, after Ed 
win had succeeded to his throne, had taken refuge 
among the Picts and Scots, with a large body of 
young nobility attached to their party. Here the 
disciples of Columba, from lona, had taught them 
the Christian faith, and they had been baptised. 
After the fall of Edwin, one of whose sons by a 
former wife had fallen by his father s side, and the 
other was a prisoner in the hands of Penda, Ethel- 
burga having carried his children of the second 
marriage into Kent, there were none of his line 
left to dispute the succession with them. Accord 
ingly they returned ; and Eanfrid, the eldest, took 


possession of Northumberland and Durham, called 
by the Saxons Beorna-ric, or " Bear-land," either 
from the fierce creatures which then infested it, or 
because it was by the name of " bears" that the old 
pagans of the North distinguished their bravest war 
riors. 1 A nephew of Edwin s, by name Osric, was 
at the same time set up by the Saxons of Yorkshire 
to be king of " Deer-land." 2 The choice was un 
happy. Osric, who had received baptism from the 
hands of Paulinus, no sooner was declared king, 
than he renounced the Christian faith ; and then 
marching to York, which had surrendered to Cad- 
wal, attempted to besiege him there. The Welch 
chieftain, seeing him ill provided for the attack, 
sallied out and destroyed him and his forces; and 
after long harassing the province, contrived to slay 
Eanfrid also, who had likewise become an apostate, 
at a conference. Oswald, the second son of Ethel- 
frid, was at hand with a small but resolute band of 
followers ; and by a victory near Hexham entirely 
changed the fortunes of the contending parties. 
Cadwal and his large host were left in heaps of 
slaughter on the field ; and thus ended a war, in 
which the Britons seemed for a short time likely 
to regain their old possessions, but which was dis 
graced by too much cruelty to be crowned witli 
lasting success. 

There is no Saxon king whose name has been 
more honoured in old traditions than that of OS 
WALD, whom this victory raised at once to the 
throne of Northumbria, and to the title of "Lord of 

1 To be called a bear in these degenerate days is not con 
sidered a compliment; but in old times, in the" North, as the 
bear was the strongest animal known, it was as high a title to 
be called Beorn-mod, or Beorn-red, bear-hearted, as to ha\e 
the surname of William the Lion, or Richard Coeur-de-Lion. 

3 See above, p. 28. 


Britain," and all tlie power of Edwin. It is said, that 
before he led his men to this dangerous onset, he 
planted an ensign of the cross in front of their ranks, 
and kneeling with them before it, prayed for de 
liverance and victory. " This sign of the holy rood," 
he said, " is our token of blessing ; at this rood let 
us bow, not to the tree, but to the almighty Lord 
that hung upon the rood for us, and pray him to 
defend the right." When he was established in the 
kingdom, he sent ambassadors to the Scottish princes, 
with whom he and his thanes had found refuge, and 
prayed them to send him some bishop, from whom 
the English people might receive the precepts of 
the faith which he had learnt among them. They 
sent him without delay a man of great gentleness 
and piety, as Alfred describes him, full of zeal and 
of the love of God. This was AIDAN, to whom, 
at his own choice, Oswai.i gave for his see the 
island of Lindisfarne, on the coast of Northumber 
land, near to Bambrough, his own royal seat, A.D. 
635. This was the first foundation of the bishopric 
of Durham. 

Aidan was a monk of lona, the monastery of St. 
Colurnba before mentioned, 3 which in this century 
had sent forth many missionaries, who had founded 
other monasteries in the north of Scotland, and was 
the chief seat of dignity in the Scottish Church. 
After he had come to Lindisfarne, many other Scot 
tish monks and priests came to associate themselves 
with him. They followed the Welch or ancient 
British way of calculating Easter, which afterwards 
led to some inconvenience with those who had been 
taught the Roman calendar; but nothing could be 
more exemplary than the life and behaviour of these 
northern churchmen. Aidan himself was a pattern 

Ch i. p. 20 


of that frugal and self-denying life, of which his 
countrymen in later times have shewn so many 
praiseworthy examples. " He was one," says Bede, 
" who seemed neither to covet, nor love any of this 
world s goods: and all the gifts he received from 
princes or rich men, he distributed in alms to the 
poor. Wherever ne went, whether to town or vil 
lage, he went on foot, never riding on horseback, 
unless some urgent need required it, and inquiring 
of rich and poor whom he met whether they were 
Christians ; if they were not, he invited them to 
learn the faith ; if they were, he sought by dis 
course to establish them in what they had learnt, 
and by words and deeds to encourage them in works 
of mercy. His attendants, clergy or laymen, wher 
ever he journeyed, were seen employed either in 
reading the Scriptures or in learning psalmody, 
whenever they were not engaged in holy prayers. 
If ever he was invited to the king s table, he went 
with one or two of his priests ; and when he was 
refreshed, he soon rose and took his leave to return 
to read or pray. By his example, the religious men 
and women were taught to observe the fasts of Wed 
nesday and Friday, abstaining from food till the 
ninth hour of the day; and this they did throughout 
the year, except from Easter to Whitsunday. To 
the rich and powerful he gave his reproofs without 
fear or favour ; offering them no fee or present, but 
entertaining them when they visited his house with 
hospitable cheer. Besides the bounty which he 
shewed to the poor out of the worldly goods which 
were presented to him, he employed a great portion 
)f them in redeeming those who had been unjustly 
sold for slaves ; and many of those whom he had 
thus redeemed, he afterwards made disciples in the 
faith ; and when they were well instructed, pro 
moted them to the sacred order of priesthood." 

CH. IV.] AIDAN. 63 

We may see in this character a pleasing picture 
of the life of a good Christian bishop in those simple 
times, and the social evils which it was part of his 
task to remedy. In those days, the governors seem 
to have expected bribes from the people ; in ours, 
the people elect their governors and receive bribes 
from them. It may be doubted whether this old 
Christian bishop would have approved of either 
practice ; and surely no reform will be complete till 
it provides against both; but this, it must be feared, 
is beyond the power of law, and only Gospel can do 
it. Of the amendments which Christianity brought 
into the world, none is more remarkable than the 
relief which it has ever sought to administer to the 
unhappy condition of slavery. In this part of his 
works of mercy, Aidan had many imitators in the 
teachers of the Church in later Saxon times. 

It is said, that when Oswald first sent to lona 
for a Christian guide, there was sent before Aidan a 
man of sterner mood, who, not being well received 
by the Northumbrians, returned to his countrymen 
with many complaints against the untamed and harsh 
nature of the people. " You seem to me," said 
Aidan, "to have been too hard with these unlearned 
hearer*. Remember the apostle s practice, to feed 
them first with the milk of gentler doctrine, till they 
are prepared for that which is more perfect." The 
remark appeared to the council of Scottish Church 
men so discreet, that they unanimously chose Aidan 
for the mission which he so meritoriously discharged. 
It appears, that when he first came to Lindisfarne, 
he was too little acquainted with the Saxon language 
to preach to the natives in their own tongue ; and 
that Oswald, who in his years of banishment had 
become master of the Scottish or Gaelic language, 
was often seen acting as his interpreter, while he 
preached to his earls and thanes. " It was a fair 


sight," says Bede, " to see a Christian king so em 
ployed ;" and a striking instance of the care of Pro 
vidence, turning the misfortunes of his youth to a 
means of blessing. 

Oswald married the daughter of Cynegil, or 
Kingil, king of Wessex; at whose court when he 
was received as a suitor, he found there Birinus, a 
new Italian missionary, sent from Genoa under a 
promise which he had made to Pope Honorius, to 
preach to the pagan provinces of England. Kingil 
and his people had listened favourably to his mes 
sage, and they were now many of them prepared 
to receive baptism, when Oswald came and stood 
godfather to his future father-in-law. The Italian 
bishop, who had received consecration in his own 
country, was then placed by the two kings at Dor 
chester near Oxford, A.D. 635. From this see, a 
few years afterwards, arose the bishopric of Win 
chester; and other sees at Leicester and Sidnacester 
probably now called Stow, which, after the Norman 
conquest, were removed to Lincoln. Thus the king 
dom of the West Saxons, one of the most extensive 
and well-peopled, became converted to Christianity. 

The Scottish bishops of Lindisfarne, however, 
seem to have taken the steps that most effectually 
led to the establishment of Christianity in the hearts 
of the people. The Italian missionaries do not ap 
pear to have ordained many of the native Saxons to 
the ministry, though they had now been nearly forty 
years settled in Kent; and in the reign of Ercon- 
bert, son of Edbald, A.D. 640, the old idol-gods were 
everywhere destroyed. The first five archbishops 
of Canterbury were all Italians ; and Honorius the 
last, dying in A.D. 656, left the see vacant, without 
having named, as his predecessors had done, the 
person who was to succeed him. Then, after a 
vacancy of a year and a half, Frithona, a West 


Saxon priest, was consecrated by Ithamar, bishop of 
Rochester; but the name sounding barbarous in 
Roman ears, the monks of Canterbury changed it to 
Deusdedit, or " God s gift," names of like meaning 
being often taken by Christians at their baptism in 
the primitive Church. It is true that archbishop 
Honorius had in his lifetime consecrated this same 
Ithamar, a native of Kent, to succeed Paulinus at 
Rochester; and Thomas, a man of the fen-country, 
and Boniface of Kent, to succeed Felix at Dunwich: 
but the two scriptural names given to the first two, 
and the Italian name of the last, whose Saxon appel 
lation was Bertgils, proves something of unwilling 
ness to turn the Roman plantation into an English 
Church. The Scottish Churchmen, on the contrary, 
being less anxious to prolong their own mission than 
to make Christians of the Saxons, began very soon 
to associate natives of the country with them in 
their labours; and did not make a point of turning 
their converts into Scotchmen. When Peada, son 
of Penda, invited them into Mercia, A.D. 653, they 
sent for the first bishop one of their own country 
men, Dwina or Duma, accompanied by three Saxon 
priests. The see of Duma was probably at Repton, 
in Derbyshire ; but it was shortly afterwards re 
moved to Lichfield, where his successors have con 
tinued till this time. One of these Saxon priests, 
Cedda, was afterwards consecrated by Finan, second 
bishop of Lindisfarne, to restore Christianity in Es 
sex. London was at this time in the hands of the 
Mercians; so that the king of Essex could not 
restore him the see of Mellitus at St. Paul s, but 
gave him two other seats in the present county of 
Essex ; Tilbury on the Thames, and Ithancester, a 
town which stood near Maldon, but has since been 
destroyed. Thus the whole of England, with the 
exception of Sussex, had received the preachers of 



the Gospel within fifty-five years after the landing 
of Augustine ; but its rapid progress in the latter 
portion of this period was especially owing to the 
disciples of Columba, whom the zeal of Oswald had 
brought to Lindisfarne. 

In the mean time the wars and troubles of the 
little Saxon kingdoms were often a hinderance to 
the progress of the faith. The fierce old Penda, 
ill brooking his subjection to Northumbria, renewed 
the war against Oswald, who fell in a battle against 
him in the ninth year of his reign, A.D. 64*3. Sige- 
bert of East Anglia, and his successor Anna, both 
recorded as excellent Christian princes, were also 
slain by Penda in two different wars, at some in 
terval of time from each other. Another Sigebert, 
surnamed the Good, who had called Cedda from 
Lastingham to restore Christianity in Essex, met 
with his death from two of his own relatives, in a 
manner which strongly marks the struggle which 
was made between Christianity and the old pagan 
ism. The two brothers who had done the murder, 
on being brought to trial, and questioned why they 
did it, could only say that they were provoked be 
cause the king was so ready to spare his foes, and so 
mildly granted forgiveness to all that asked it. The 
Christian spirit of King Oswald, which had shone 
so eminently in his life, did not desert him in the 
hour of death. When he saw himself surrounded 
by the enemy, and was on the point of receiving hi* 
death-wound, he looked upwards ; and those who 
were near him, and lived to tell of that disastrous 
day, reported that the last words on his lips were, 
" Spare, Lord, the souls of my people." 

Oswy, brother of Oswald, obtained the Northum 
brian throne after the battle in which Oswald fell ; 
but he was for some time master of only part of the 
province, another competitor keeping a part, and 


was also for his first years subject to the authority 
of Penda. That warlike pagan being at length 
slain in a bloody conflict near the river Aire, Oswy 
became for the remaining years of his reign undis 
puted "lord of Britain." At the close of it, the 
arrival of THEODORE of Tarsus to be archbishop 
of Canterbury, A.D. 669, brought further eminent 
benefits to the English Church. 

On the death of Frithona, three years before, 
Oswy, and Egbert then king of Kent, had sent a 
Kentish priest named Wighard to be consecrated 
archbishop at Rome by Vitalian, the pope of thai 
period. Wighard died at Rome before he could be 
consecrated ; upon which news being received, they 
sent a second message to Vitalian, desiring that he 
would himself find some good religious man, worthy 
of the office, and they would receive him for pri 
mate. It was some time before the good pope, who 
was anxious to do his duty to the Saxons, was able 
to meet with such a character as he thought fit for 
the station. 4 He had no one at Rome, or of Italian 

4 Vitalian, in his letter to king Oswy, preserved in Bede s 
History (iii. 29), has these words : "A man of good instruc 
tion, and in all things well accomplished for archbishop, such 
as your letter asks for, I have not yet been able to find ; for 
the person to whom I have sent resides at some distance." It 
appears from this, that the king had requested this pope to 
send the Saxons an archbishop appointed by himself. When 
some modern writers therefore say, that this was done with 
" Italian subtlety," and that the pope made an experiment on 
English patience, they mistake the fact. If the English had 
been unwilling to receive a primate from Rome, there was 
plenty of time, after they had heard of Wighard s death, to 
send another of their native priests to be consecrated by the 
pope. When Kalian subtlety filled the vacant preferments in 
England, in the time of king John and Henry III., they were 
not left open for two or three years before an appointment 
was made. Hence Malmsbury (b. i. c. 50) says, that " to 
king Oswy belongs the principal honour of having procured the 
mission of Theodore, though Egbert shared in the act as prince 


birth, whom he could fix upon ; but at a monastery 
near Naples there resided a reverend abbot born of 
African parents, named ADRIAN, famous for his 
knowledge of the Scriptures, and very learned in 
the Greek and Latin languages. Adrian was sent 
for, but modestly declined the office ; and a friend 
whom he recommended to the pope also declined, 
his health being too infirm. In the midst of their 
difficulties, Theodore happened to visit Rome, and 
as he was well known to Adrian, Vitalian made 
choice of him for the see of Canterbury. He was 
at this time sixty-six years of age, but a firm and 
vigorous old man, having lived the temperate life 
of a monk in his native country. And he lived 
twenty-two years more as archbishop, devoting all 
his powers of mind and body to the good of his 
adopted country. 

As he was by education a member of the Greek 
Church, which after the division of the Roman 
empire soon began to vary in some of its practices 
from the Western Church, Vitalian thought it right 
to guard against the risk of his introducing any of 
these practices among the Saxons. For this reason 
he required that Adrian should accompany him to 
England. In all other respects, nothing could be 
more truly catholic than the spirit of this mission. 
Here were three churchmen, born in three distant 
countries, Africa, Greece, and Italy, all led by one 
wish to benefit a fourth, to serve the cause of the 
Gospel in England ; and for this sacred purpose two 
of them at once renounced the ties of country, kin 
dred, and friends, to go among strangers, and one at 
that advanced age when nature commonly asks only 
for rest and repose. Their journey to England was 

of the province of Canterbury." He says not a word of Vita 
lian as acting beyond their wishes, not even mentioning his 


not without inconvenience and delay. A powerful 
minister at the French court, suspecting that they 
came with a message from the Grecian emperor 
against his master to the English kings, kept them 
prisoners at large for several months at Paris ; and 
it was not till the king of Kent had sent his reeve or 
ambassador into France, that Theodore was allowed 
to proceed, Adrian being still detained a short time 

They found the newly-planted Church labouring 
under something of division. Oswy had married 
Eanfleda, the daughter of Edwin and Ethelburga, 5 
who, having been educated in Kent, had learnt to 
prefer the Itoman way of calculating Easter. Hence 
when she came, with her Kentish chaplain, to Bam- 
brough, it happened that one part of the household 
were keeping the Lent fast, while the others were 
rejoicing in the Easter festival. This led to disputes 
between those of the clergy who had been ordained 
by the Scots, and the disciples of Augustine and 
Paulinus ; and a few years before the arrival of 
Theodore, a famous council was held on this ques 
tion at the abbey of Whitby, A.D. 664. Agilbert, a 
French prelate, who had resided some time in Ire 
land, and was now bishop of Dorchester, was the 
leader of one party ; and Colman, third bishop of 
Lindisfarne, was chief speaker for the other. Agil 
bert, however, who was not master of the Saxon 
language, and shortly afterwards retired to France, 
where he died archbishop of Paris, took little part in 
the debate ; but deputed Wilfrid, a young Northum 
brian priest, who had passed some years in study at 
Rome and Lyons, to plead for the rule of Italy and 
France. Oswy, who presided at this council, after 
listening in turn to Colman and Wilfrid, one of whom 

* See above, p. 50. 


traced \i\s practice to St. John, the other to St. Peter, 
on hearing the text, " Thou art Peter, and I will 
give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," 
stopped the debate. " Is it true, Colman," he 
said, " that our Lord spoke these words to Peter?" 
" Most true." " But can you prove that any such 
power was given to your saint Columba?" " We 
cannot." " Then," said the king, " I dare not with 
stand this door-keeper of heaven, but must obey his 
rule, lest, when I come to that door, and ask for 
entrance, he should refuse to turn the key." This 
kingly jest was received as the jests of great men 
usually are by their dependants, and the assembly of 
earls and commoners decided that it would be expe 
dient to leave the erroneous calculation and adopt 
the better. It is most likely that the influence of 
Queen Eanfleda had before persuaded Oswy to take 
the part he did ; for it is impossible to suppose that 
he could have been seriously turned to a new opinion 
in the debate by such an argument as this. It was 
unfortunate in its result, however, as it gave offence 
to Colman, a plain sincere Christian, who shortly 
after resigned his bishopric, and retired to a monas 
tery in Ireland, taking with him several Saxon reli 
gious persons, as well as the greater part of his Scot 
tish monks and clergy. The Scottish Church after 
wards reformed their calendar, A.D. 710. 

It is much to be regretted that this difference 
could not have been left to time and friendly inter 
course on both sides ; in which case it is probable 
that the change, which both the Scottish and Welch 
Churches afterwards admitted, would have been 
made in concert with the English. As it was, the 
Northumbrians lost a body of Christian teachers, 
whose sojourn had been of the greatest benefit to 
thorn, and whose life and manners were above all 
praise. Their frugal habits and abstinence from 


all worldly indulgences were attested by the condi 
tion in which they left the place, to which their 
abode had gained the title of the Holy Island Be 
sides the humble church of wood, cased with lead, 
both walls and roof, there were only a few of the 
most simple dwellings in which civilised man can 
live. Money they had none : their only riches 
were their flocks and herds. All that they had 
they gave to the poor ; and if the king came to 
visit them, or to pray in their church, he either 
departed as he came, with a few attendants, or re 
ceived from them no better entertainment than their 
daily fare. It is no wonder that the influence of 
such men in promoting Christianity was very great: 
the people flocked to the churches and monasteries 
on Sundays to hear their preaching ; and if one of 
them came to a village as he journeyed, they would 
crowd round him to ask for an exhortation from 
the words of life. Even on the way, the peasants 
who met them would run up, and ask them to sign 
their foreheads with the cross, and to give them 
their blessing. And indeed, says Bede, they had 
no other errand wherever they went, than to preach, 
to baptise, to visit the sick, and to take care ot 

The first year of Theodore s primacy was em 
ployed in visiting all the places in England where 
there was any religious foundation standing, whether 
bishops sees or monasteries, and setting in order 
what was wanting. Before the time of Theodore 
there seem to have been no parish churches or re 
sidences of single clergymen ; but whether married 
priests or monks, they dwelt together near the bi 
shop s see, or where a monastery was founded. Theo 
dore was received every where with a hearty wel 
come ; and under his instructions the right way of 
keeping Easter was soon received in all the English 


Church. Both he and his companion Adrian were 
well instructed in sacred and other learning ; and 
finding the Saxons as yet very little acquainted with 
letters, it was one of their first labours to found 
schools, where the Greek and Latin language could 
be taught, together with arithmetic, some knowledge 
of astronomy for the calculation of time, and rules 
for making verses. From this time also the use of 
chanting was taught in all the churches ; and Theo 
dore was himself perhaps the first who practised 
the art of medicine in England. He seems to have 
obtained grants of land from some of the Saxon 
princes at Cricklade in Wiltshire, and at Oxford, 
where his first schools were established ; but the 
monastery of St. Peter s, or St. Augustine s, at Can 
terbury, where Adrian presided as abbot, was for 
some time after the most distinguished seat of learn 
ing in the south of England. There were many of 
their disciples, as Bede testifies, in his time, who 
knew Latin and Greek as well as they knew their 
own tongue. For the advancement of learning, 
Theodore had brought a number of manuscripts 
with him, and procured others from Rome or from 
the East. Among these are said to have been copies 
of the poems of Homer, the writings of Chrysostom 
and Josephus, besides several portions of the Scrip 
tures. Nothing can prove more remarkably the 
effect of his diligence in training the minds of the 
young Saxons, than the change which it wrought in 
the state of society. And it was so ordered by a 
good Providence, that the greater part of the Saxon 
kingdoms at this time, and for some years later, en 
joyed an interval of peace, without the interruptions 
of continued war. " The kings were brave and 
Christian," says Bede, ready to defend their own 
rights, and not invading the provinces of each other. 
Their number, moreover, was by this time sonio 


thing lessened. Wulfhere, king of Mercia, had be 
come master of Essex, and the kings of East Anglia 
were subject to him. Cedvvalla, king of Wessex, 
A.D. 685, conquered the little province of Sussex; 
9o that there remained only the two kingdoms of 
Kent and Wessex south of Thames. And North- 
umbria had already obtained something of firmness 
and security, which, with little interruption from 
the Picts and Scots, it continued to enjoy. 

Theodore was received as primate of all Eng 
land, to the north as well as to the south of the 
Humber. There hud been a pall sent from Rome 
to Paulinus, to give him the honour of archbishop 
of York ; but the death of Edwin, and his flight 
from the province, took place before he had received 
it. The see remained vacant for thirty years, while 
the Scottish bishops of Lindisfarne governed the 
Church of Northumbria; and at the time of Theo 
dore s arrival there was some dispute about it. Wil 
frid, abbot of Ripon, the Northumbrian priest who 
had taken so prominent a part in the council at 
Whitby, had been appointed shortly after to the 
bishopric of York ; and as there was then no arch 
bishop at Canterbury, and Rochester was also vacant, 
lie would not receive consecration from the Scottisli 
bishops of Lindisfarne or Lichfield, but went over to 
France to obtain it from A gilbert at Paris, and from 
other French bishops. King Oswy, not altogether 
approving the slight which was thus put upon the 
Church from which he had himself received his first 
Christian instruction, sent for a worthy Saxon abbot 
from the monastery of Lastingham in Cleveland, to 
have him made bishop. This was ST. CHAD, the 
Saxon saint, whose memory is duly honoured by the 
beautiful cathedral church at Lichfield, dedicated to 
his memory ; honoured also it is by a church called 
after him at Shrewsbury, though riot of the propor- 


tions or style of that in which he used to worship/ 
He went for consecration to Wina, bishop of Wessex, 
for whom king Coinwalch, or Kenwal, had just built 
the cathedral church of Winchester, founded A.D. 
660. On this occasion we find the first act of com 
munion between the Welch and English Christians ; 
two Welch bishops having come, probably from 
Cornwall and Somerset, to assist Wina at the conse 
cration of Chad. It is not, however, to be wondered 
at, if these old inhabitants of Britain continued still 
unwilling to join in Christian fellowship with the 
people who had driven them out of the best and 
fairest portion of the island, and with whom their 
own independent spirit still kept them at frequent 
war ; especially when these new converts to the faith, 
instead of coming to them for instruction, accused 
them of errors in their practice, and wanted them to 
conform to ordinances of their own. 

Chad, being thus consecrated bishop of York, 
shewed himself in all things a pupil of the good 
Scottish bishop Aidan, living in the most self-deny 
ing manner, and journeying about on foot to preach 
at cot or castle, villages or towns. Wilfrid, finding 
his see occupied by another, made no complaint; but 
staying in Kent, where there was then no bishop, 
continued to ordain priests and to exercise the acts 
of his function there, till Theodore came. It seems 

6 St. Chad s at Shrewsbury was an abbey church founded 
by the Mercian princes, soon after the death of this good bi 
shop, when they had taken Shrewsbury from the Welch. Hut 
the present parish church, in which there is a jumbling mixture 
of Doric, Ionic, Rustic, and Corinthian, built about fifty years 
ago, with its large round body and small head, has been com 
pared to an overgrown spider. Quarterly Review, No. cxxvi. 
p. 410. The beautiful old Saxon church at Lastingham, as 
Mr. Stevenson has well observed, if not the original building of 
Cedda or his brother Chad, is one of the oldest churches in the 
kingdom. Stevenson s Bede, p. 212. 

CH. IV. "| ST. CHAD. 75 

that Theodore had no intention to interfere with 
Chad as an intruder, for he considered that the king 
had a right to dispose of the bishopric; but he had 
some doubts whether the consecration of the British 
bishops was according to order. " If you doubt it," 
said Chad, " I willingly resign my bishopric. I ever 
thought myself unworthy of the dignity, but con 
sented to take it oufc of obedience to my king." 
Theodore replied, thai he by no means wished him 
to resign his bishopric; but if he had not been duly 
consecrated, he was himself ready to complete his 
consecration. This he did ; but Chad, probably see 
ing that there was a division of parties in the pro 
vince, withdrew to his humble retirement at Lasting- 
ham ; and Wilfrid entered upon the duties of the see. 
Theodore, struck by the worth of this primitive- 
mannered Christian, when the see of Lichfield shortly 
after became vacant, recommended Chad to Wulf- 
hfcre, king of Mercia. He had now a province not 
much less in extent than the Northumbrian kingdom, 
having all the counties which compose the midland 
circuit, and Staffordshire, with part of Shropshire 
and Cheshire, beside. Theodore, therefore, at an 
other meeting, having for some time in vain entreat 
ed him to use a horse for more expedition on his 
journeys, at length ordered one of his own horses to 
be brought, and insisted upon mounting him himself. 
The archbishop is said also to have made him pro 
mise to have with him in case of need a horse-waggon, 
or jaunting-car; which was probably the kind of car 
riage then used by persons of quality on peaceful 

Thus provided, the good old Saxon journeyed 
diligently about the midland counties, and in a few 
years gained a high reputation for his Christian vir 
tues. Wulfhere gave him a grant of land in Lin 
colnshire, on which he founded a monastery, \vhich 


is supposed to have stood at Barton upon Humbei, 
where there is still standing a very ancient Saxon 
church. He died in March, A.D. 672, within three 
years after he had been appointed to the see of Lich- 
field ; at which city he resided with seven or eight of 
his clergy in a private house, employing himself \vit\\ 
them, whenever he was not visiting his diocese, in 
study and prayer. It is recorded of him, that he was 
deeply moved to adore the power of God in the mys 
terious wonders of the wind and storm. If he heard 
the sound of it, as he sat reading, he would stop to 
utter a prayer that God would be merciful to the 
children of men. As it increased, he would shut the 
book, and, falling on his knees, remain fixed in in 
ward prayer. But if it grew very violent, or thunder 
and lightning shook the earth and air, then he would 
go to the church, and pass the time in earnest sup 
plications and psalms. " Have you not read," he 
would say, "how it is written, The Lord thundered 
out of heaven, and the Highest uttered his voice? 
God moves the clouds, wakens the winds, shoots 
forth the lightning, and thunders from heaven, that 
He may arouse the dwellers upon earth to dread 
Him, and put into their hearts the remembrance of 
the doom that is to come, to bend their haughty 
boldness, and drive away their pride. Therefore it 
is our part to answer his heavenly warning with 
due fear and love, to implore his mercy, arid exa 
mine the secrets of our hearts ; that we may not be 
stricken by his hand when it is stretched forth to 
judge the world." 7 

Wilfrid, his successor at York, was a person of 
very different character, much superior to Chad in 
learning and accomplishments, and more disposed to 

7 This pious custom of St. Chad is dwelt upon at some 
length by the excellent Bishop Jeremy Taylor, Life of Christ, 
Disc, xviii. 

CH. IV.] 


advance the cause of the Church by outward state 
and wealth. He was born of noble parentage, and 
in early youth had been sent by his father to try his 
fortune at court. " He went," says the friend who 
wrote his life, " with arms, and horses, and good ap 
parel for himself and his attendants, that he might be 
fit to stand before a king." Queen Eanfleda became 
his patroness, and from her advice he seems to have 
determined to enter upon a religious life. He re 
tired from Bambrough to Lindisfarne with one of the 
king s thanes, whose infirm health had inspired him 
with a wish to pass the end of his days in that mon 
astery. There he lived some time under the disci 
pline of the Scottish monks ; but his active mind was 
not satisfied with their simple rules. He went to ask 
the queen s leave to pay a visit to Rome. It was 
easily granted ; the more so, as she was herself edu 
cated under the discipline of the Roman missionaries 
in Kent; to whom, and to the king, she instructed 
him to go, with a letter of introduction, on his way. 
He was well received at Canterbury, where he made 
acquaintance with Benedict Biscop, another youth 
of promising talents, who accompanied him abroad. 
There, both at Lyons and at Rome, he saw some 
thing of the pomp and state of the Church in foreign 
lands , and after passing some years in study at both 
places, he returned to England, and became abbot of 
a monastery at Ripon, till those events occurred in 
his life which have been already mentioned. 

He was only thirty years of age when he went 
over to France to be consecrated bishop of York ; 
and it was now five years later when he took posses 
sion of the Northumbrian province. He found the 
church built by Edwin and Oswald in a state of mi 
serable neglect, the old roof dropping with rain-drops, 
and the windows open to the weather, and giving 
entrance to the birds, which made their nests within. 



He repaired it substantially, " skilfully roofing it 
with lead," (it was probably of thatch before), "and 
prevented the entrance of birds and rain by putting 
glass into the windows, yet such glass as allowed 
the light to shine within. At Ripon he built a new 
church of polished stone, with columns variously or 
namented, and porches." 8 It was, perhaps, in bad 
imitation of the marble buildings he had seen in Italy, 
that he washed the outer walls of this original York 
minster, "and made them, as the prophet, says, whiter 
than snoiv." And it was a piece of splendour, very 
strikingly in contrast with the plain manners of good 
St. Chad and his Scottish instructors, when he made 
a great feast of three days to king Egfrid and his 
brother, his reeves and thanes, and all the abbots 
and other persons of dignity, whom he could muster 
in the Northern kingdom, at the dedication of this 
first minster of Ripon. This custom, however, of 
exhausting a good portion of the Church s wealth 
at dedication-feasts, which prevailed both in Saxon 
and Norman times, was not without a munificent 

8 This is the account of Stephen Eddy, the writer of 
Wilfrid s life, a writer older than Bede, who tells us that he 
was a Kentish man, and precentor, or teacher of chanting, 
under Wilfrid, at York or Ripon, A.D. 670. It is extraor 
dinary that many modern writers should speak of the Saxons 
before the Conquest as having only wooden churches, when 
there is in this oldest piece of Saxon history such an account, 
as may be found in the text. The glass which the Saxons had 
then learnt to fuse was not quite of such fine transparency as 
may now be seen in the large plates of every haberdasher s 
window ; but probably something more thick and green than is 
still to be found ia old country churches, where it has stood for 
many centuries. Still it was good enough to keep out wind 
and weather, and it was their best. And if it cast " a dim re 
ligious light" through the interior, they did not want those 
ugly green or red curtains, which are needed in modern temples, 
to shut out the violence of the summer sun. Since this note 
was first written, a manufactory of glass adapted for cnurch- 
windows has been founded at Newcastle. 



k-nrt of chanty; and it was founded on i,he example 
of Solomon at the dedication of his temple. 

It must be observed, that in these early times, 
before the division of the country into parishes, al 
most all the income of the church was paid to the 
bishop. The tithes were sent by Christian land 
owners to the bishop s see, which were before paid 
to the heathen priest; for this religious offering, 
which was paid by the patriarchs before the law, 9 
was never lost in the heathen world before the time* 
of Christianity. Besides these, we find before Bede s 
time there was established in Northumberland and 
Wessex a payment called church-scot, or first-fruits, 
to be paid at Martinmas ; which was probably ap 
plied to building or repairing of churches, as the 
name seems to imply, and has been supposed to be 
the origin of modern church-rates. The bishop 
therefore travelled about in those times, wherever 
he went taking with him not only his chaplains and 
clergy, who taught chanting and psalm-singing, but 
a company of builders and stone-masons, plumbers 
and glaziers, and carpenters, to build churches and 
baptisteries about the country, in places where the 
noblemen and country gentlemen (earls and thanes) 
gave them ground for building. There were many 
places where the ancient British clergy had held 
churches, which were now deserted. It was the 
aim of Wilfrid to recover these for holy uses; and 
in many instances his labours were crowned with 

As this account of the dedication of Ripon is the 
earliest account of the kind which is left to us of the 
dedication of an English church, it may be well to 
give it a little more at length. On the assembly ot 

Gen. xiv. 20; rxviii. 22. 


princes and people coming together, Wilfrid, or one 
of his priests, appears to have offered a prayer taken 
from the prayer of Solomon (1 Kings viii.), to con 
secrate the house of God and the prayers of the 
people in it. They then dedicated the altar, which 
was raised on steps, and laid over it a purple cover 
ing embroidered with gold ; the sacred vessels were 
then placed on it, and all the congregation partook 
of the holy communion. Then the bishop, standing 
in front of the altar, delivered a sermon, turning to 
wards the people, and enumerated in it all the gifts 
of land which the princes of Northumberland had 
given to the minster of Ripon ; and exhorting them 
to go on in such good works, made mention of the 
old British churches, which were still lying waste 
about the country where they dwelt. Among the 
other precious gifts presented by Wilfrid on this 
occasion, was "a wonderful piece of workmanship 
unheard of before his time." This was a copy of 
the four Gospels, written with gilded letters, on 
parchment, adorned with purple and other colours, 
the cover of which was inlaid with gold and pre 
cious stones, " the work of jewellers." After the 
service was concluded, the festivities began ; and the 
princes and nobles were as affable and courteous 
among the monks of Ripon as the occasion de 

The reign of Egfrid, son of Oswy, was as pro 
sperous at the outset as his father s had been ; and 
for some time Wilfrid and his sovereign were the 
best of friends. But the zeal of the Northumbrians 
to enrich the Church, and the many monasteries 
which they founded in that wide province, was now 
such as to awaken some alarm and jealousy in the 
breast of the king. The abbots and abbesses of 
these monasteries, who were of the best blood in 


Northumberland, often made presents to Wilfrid of 
their wealth, or left him heir of their possessions; 
and thus the king s heriots 10 and other revenues were 
impaired. Many persons seem to have kept their 
money back in their life- time, under pretence that it 
was consecrated to pious uses. Others, who were of 
noble rank, sent their sons to be educated by Wil 
frid, that they might choose whether to serve the 
Church or the king ; and it is likely that the bishop, 
who was young and fond of power> would engage as 
many of them in his own way of life as he could. 

This was, indeed, his weak side. His influence 
was dangerous for a subject to possess ; and he used 
many popular arts to promote it. His gifts to clergy 
and laymen were so large, that they were beyond all 
example. His retinue was princely both in number 
and apparel. Egfrid s first queen, Etheldreda, seems 
to have been obliged by her relatives, against her 
will, to enter upon a married life. When she had 
retired into a monastery, the second queen, Irmin- 
burga, not being a favourer of monasteries, was often 
reminding the king of Wilfrid s splendour, his large 
housekeeping, the number of monasteries, like pa 
laces, that were rising round them, and his army of 
followers. Egfrid, who had reason to complain of 
some encroachment on his rights, summoned Theo 
dore to hear his accusations against him. Theodore 
seems to have proposed that Wilfrid s great bishopric 
should be divided into two ; but as Wilfrid refused 
any lessening of his power, he was deposed. After 
his departure, the province of Northumbria was di 
vided between the sees of York and Hexham, and 
again a few years afterwards into four, Ripon and 

:o The Saxon kings, on the death of an earl or thane, had 
a claim to some of his best horses and suits of armour, and a 
sum in sold. But if he left his property to the Church, it 
passed vithout these heriots. 


Lindisfarne being added ; and a fifth bishop was 
appointed for the part of the kingdom which lay 
in Scotland, whose see was at Abercorn or Whi- 
them, in Galloway. It is said that Wilfrid left 
some thousands of monks in North umbria to be 
governed by these bishops. 

Wilfrid s character was active and enterprising; 
and he did not remain quiet under this misfortune. 
He determined to go to Rome ; and it is the only in 
stance of an English churchman before the Conquest 
who tried to use the pope s authority against the sove 
reign and the Church of his own country. He found 
pope Agatho and a council of bishops assembled to 
debate upon some heresy of the time ; and having 
given a good account of his own faith, he was sent 
back with letters to the king ornamented with a bull" 
and waxen seal ; an unusual sight to the Saxons, 
who only signed their letters with a rood-token, or 
mark of a cross. When Wilfrid displayed this en 
sign of victory before king Egfrid, that monarch 
was rude enough to say he had bribed the pope; 
and treating him as a rebel, sent him to prison at 
Brunton in Northumberland, and afterwards at Dun- 
bar. After he had remained here nine months, St. 
Ebba, a pious woman, to whose honour one of the 
churches at Oxford is dedicated, abbess of Colding- 
ham, the king s aunt, procured his release ; but he 
was not now permitted to remain in the country. 
He went to Mercia, and afterwards to Wessex ; but 
the influence of Egfrid drove him out from both. 

Affliction mends the heart, and often quickens a 
zeal for the cause of God, when prosperity had gone 

11 The pope s letters have been called bulls, from the bull 
or leaden seal, with the image of St. Peter and St. Paul, hang- 
ing to them. In former times kings and emperors on the con 
tinent used to bang such seals at the bottom of their letters of 


near to quench it. The banished man, finding the 
Christian kingdoms shut against him, went to try his 
fortunes with the poor pagans of Sussex, who were 
yet almost excluded from the society of the rest of 
England. Their king had, indeed, received baptism, 
and had married a Christian princess from another 
province; and a Scottish monk had estaolished a 
small monastery at Bosham, near Chichester. But 
the poor men lived here, and sung their psalms, like 
the pilgrim-fathers in New England; 

Amidst the woods they sung, 

And the stars heard, and the sea : 

but not one of the people of the province came to 
learn their rule of life or hear their preaching. It 
happened, however, shortly before Wilfrid came 
among them, there had been long-continued drought 
in their country, and a severe famine had followed. 
Without resource in this distress, there would go 
forty or fifty of them in companies, shrunken and 
pined for lack of food, to the heights along their 
coast, and desperately joining their hands together, 
that if one s resolution or strength should fail, he 
might be dragged on by his next fellow, throw them 
selves down to be dashed in pieces by the cliffs or 
swallowed by the waves below. In the midst of this 
wreck of life came \Vilfrid among them ; and finding 
the misery greatly enhanced by their ignorance of the 
art of fishing (for except the few eels which they 
picked out of the miller s dam, their skill was unable 
to guide them to any other supply), he collected all 
the nets they could muster, and joining them together, 
directed an experiment to be made upon the sea ; 
and this proving very successful, both the people 
whom he had rescued from perishing and the king 
received him as a messenger of truth with the great 
est willingness. The king gave him a large grant of 


land at Selscy, which was long afterwards a bishop s 
ee, before it was changed to Chichester; and on the 
day that Wilfrid held his first public baptism among 
them, a shower of mild abundant rain seemed to 
shew that a. God of mercy was restoring the earth, 
for the sake of those who had turned to acknowledge 
His power. 

After ten years of banishment, Egfrid being slain 
in a battle with the Picts, Aldfrid his brother and 
successor recalled Wilfrid, who had before been re 
conciled with Theodore. He was not, however, a 
character fitted to remain at rest; and after the death 
of the aged archbishop, trying to undo his arrange 
ments of the sees in the north, he was again deposed 
by a council of bishops ; and refusing the monas 
tery of Ripon, which was offered him as a residence, 
again appealed to Rome. Pope John wrote to Ald 
frid, but with no better success than his predecessor; 
but as Bertwald, archbishop of Canterbury at that 
time, and Ethelred, king of Mercia, who had become 
an abbot, took his part, his restoration was procured 
after Aldfrid s death. He died at Oundle, a monas 
tery he had founded in Mercia, A.D. 709, ending his 
remarkable and troubled life forty-five years after 
his first consecration to the bishop s office. 

It would have been happy for the Church, if a 
man of such ability to serve it had been more free 
from ambition, and more ruled by the prudent 
counsels of Theodore, who, during the first years 
of Wilfrid s trials, was pursuing his own designs of 
peaceful improvement. A war having broken out 
between Ethelred, king of Mercia, and Egfrid, A.D. 
679, the Christian mediation of Theodore restored 
peace. He first introduced a practice, which was 
long continued with great benefit to the Church, of 
frequently holding councils or assemblies of bishops 
and clergy for the regulation of the Church in dif- 


ferent provinces, and laying down laws or canons 
for faith and practice. Among other good rules 
passed at the first council, held at Hertford, A.D. 
673, it was resolved that the number of bishops 
should be increased as the faith was spread into new 
provinces, and that they should take occasion, as 
they could, to obtain the consent of the Saxon kings 
to this increase. Agreeably to this resolution, beside 
the new sees which he had founded in the north, lie 
was enabled to found the bishopric of Hereford A.D. 
675, that of Worcester A.D. 679, and in A.D. 686 to 
appoint a bishop at Selsey, where Wilfrid had so hap 
pily prepared the ground. He was also an encou- 
rager of the building of country churches apart from 
monasteries, having, as it is likely, seen the benefit of 
having parish priests, according to the institutions of 
Justinian, the Grecian emperor, in his native coun 
try; arid for this end he seems to have begun the rule, 
which afterwards became a Saxon law, that the thanes 
or country gentlemen, who built such churches on 
their estates, should pay a portion of the tithes to 
the priest of their own church, instead of paying all 
to the minster or cathedral. From this beginning, 
of which perhaps there were only a few examples in 
Theodore s lifetime, arose our excellent arrangement 
of parish churches. 12 It does not belong to this His 
tory to speak of a book which he wrote on the rule 
of priests for dealing with penitents; which was for 
a long time held in high value at home and abroad. 
He is said to have been harsh towards the Welch 
Christians, not allowing them to receive the sacra 
ment with the English, unless they conformed. But 
his merit is proved by the great advancement of 
Christianity in his time, the work of his wise and 
vigorous old age. He found the people rude and 

12 Parishes are mentioned in Theodore s Penitential, c. xliii. 
2 ; ant 1 Alcuin, Epist. Ix. 


ignorant, and gave them the means of good instruc 
tion; he found the Church divided, and left it. united; 
he found it a missionary Church, scarcely fixed in 
more than two principal provinces, he left it what it 
will ever be, while the country remains in happiness 
and freedom, the established Church of England. 
He died at the advanced age of eighty-eight, A.D. 

Conversion of Kent began . . A.D. 596 

Essex, under Mellitus .... 604 

, under Cedda, bishop of Tilbury . 6.53 

Northumbria, under Paulinus . . . 627 

, under the Scots . . . 635 

East Anglia, under Felix, a Burgundian . 631 

Wessex, under Birinus of Genoa . . 633 

Mercia, and the Middle Angles, under the 

Scots and their disciples . . . 653 

Sussex, under Wilfrid . . . W* 



A life by solemn consecration given 

To labour and to prayer, to nature and to heaven. 


E English reader will have an imper 
fect view of the state of Christianity 
in these early times, if we do not at 
tempt to give some account of those 
ancient monasteries which we find were 
established, together with the faith of the gospel, 
among the Saxons, and which were before received 
among the Welch, Irish, arid Scottish Christians, 
when as yet they did not acknowledge the patriarchal 
authority of the bishop of Rome. 

We "have been so long used to hear of thp 
ignorance and idleness of monks and friars, that it 
requires some effort of mind to come to the belief 
that the old monks of the primitive Church were 
neither ignorant nor idle, but patterns of active 
virtue, and zealous promoters of learning and useful 
arts. One of the earliest patrons of monasteries was 
the excellent St. Basil; archbishop of Csesarea in the 
lesser Asia, whose rules have been the foundation of 
all such institutions in the Greek Church. St. Basil 
died A.D. 378, the same year in which the Roman 
emperor Valens was overthrown and slain in a great 
battle with the Goths, and left the empire open to 


the inroads of those fierce nations which shortly af 
terwards gained possession of it. This good bishop, 
perceiving that many Christians in his time were in 
trouble from the public disorders, and seeki: g for 
some way of life in which they could serve God 
without distraction, many having chosen to live as 
hermits in solitary places, advised them rather to 
unite together in colleges or monasteries, where they 
might have help from each other in cases of sickness 
or infirmity, and provoke each other to love and 
to good works. " This solitary life of hermits," he 
would say. is a life of self-pleasing ; it leads us to 
forget that are members one of another; it makes 
a man bury his talent in the earth ; it lays him open 
to the temptation of idleness, and how dangerous 
that temptation is, all who have read the gospel 
know. How can a man exercise any spiritual gift, 
when he deprives himself of all opportunity for its 
exercise? How shall he shew his humility, where 
there is no one to whom he can humble himself? 
How shall he shew compassion, when hf has cut 
himself off from the society of his fellow-men ? How 
shall he exercise himself to patience, when there is 
no man to resist his will ? True, he may read the 
Scriptures, and their doctrine is enough for reforma 
tion of life; but if it is not put in practice, it is as if 
a man should learn the art of building, yet never 
build, the art of working in brass, and make no use 
of the materials given him. Behold, Low good and 
pleasant a, thing it is, brethren, to dwell together in 
unity. This good and pleasant tiling, which the 
Holy Spirit compares to the breathing odours of the 
precious ointment of the high-priest, how can it be 
obtained in solitary living? The place to run our 
Christian course, the good way of advancement, the 
life of long exercise and practice of the Lord s com 
mands, is where brethren dwell together." 


With this view he promoted these religious so 
cieties about the East, having himself passed many 
years of his early religious life in visiting those which 
were then established in Egypt and other provinces, 
and afterwards having founded a monastery on an 
estate belonging to his own family in the neighbour 
hood of his birth-place. It was a high mountain, 
clothed with deep woods, from which many waters 
cool and clear flowed down, and uniting at the foot 
of the steep formed a river, enclosing on one side a 
eloping plain, which was fenced in on all other sides 
by the rising heights of the mountain behind, or by 
precipices which raised it above the level country 
below. A natural belt of trees enclosed this space 
of ground ; and on it, near the only outlet to the 
adjoining lands, Basil built a dwelling large enough 
to admit a society of his religious friends, and in 
vited them by letters to come and share his retire 
ment. Near to his door, the river, falling over a 
ridge of rock, rolled down into a deep basin, afford 
ing him the sight of one of the greatest natural 
beauties, and furnishing the inhabitants of the place 
with a plenteous supply offish, which made a prin 
cipal portion of their fare. In the neighbouring 
woods, where the deer and wild goats browsed with 
out disturbance from the brothers of the convent, 
and whose quiet was only broken by a wandering 
hunter now and then, were trees of every kind, 
flowering and fruitful shrubs; and the climate and 
soil were such as to give them every kind of pro 
duce for cultivation : but, most of all, it was a spot 
which gave to Basil, who had passed his first years 
in the turmoil of the bar, the fruit of religious rest 
and peace of mind. 

The eastern monks, whose habits were formed 
under his rule, were not for the most part priests, 
but laymen ; but they had always one or more 


priests in the community, who guided their worship 
and administered the sacraments among them. They 
met together seven times a day for a short prayer, 
and to sing a hymn or psalm ; l at daybreak, at nine 
o clock, at twelve, at three, and again at six in the 
evening, at nine, and at midnight. Their monas 
tery was a house of hospitality to travellers, and they 
gave the same frugal fare, on which they lived, to 
rich and poor, that the one might see a pattern of 
Christian poverty and plainness, and the other might 
not think of the hardship of his lot, when he saw 
that those who were born to more abundance had 
cheerfully embraced it. They were constantly em 
ployed at other times in such labours as gave them 
occupation without anxiety ; for which reason those 
arts were preferred which combined cheapness with 
simplicity, not requiring costly materials, or minis 
tering to vanity. Building and carpentry, working 
in brass, weaving and shoemaking, were the most 
common. Others tended the flocks (for they com 
monly had flocks near the monasteries), or tilled the 
ground ; and this kind of occupation Basil particu- 

1 One of the earliest hymns of the Christian Church, sung 
by St. Basil and his monks as an evening hymn, is preserved, 
and has been translated by the Rev. John Keble. It is ad 
dressed to the true Light of light, our Saviour : 

Hail, gladdening Light, of His pure glory poured, 
Who is the immortal Father, heavenly, blest, 

Holiest of holies Jesus Christ our Lord . 
Now we are come to the sun s hour of rest, 

The lights of evening round us shine, 

We hymn the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit divine ! 
Worthiest art Thou at all times to be sung 
With undefiled tongue, 

Son of our God, Giver of life, alone ! 

Therefore in all the world thy glories, Lord, we own. 

Some notice of St. Basil s hours of prayer may be also found 
in Bishop Cosin s Devotions, of which a new edition has been 
lately published. 


/arly encouraged. When the artificers had prepared 
a stock of clothing or other things for sale, they 
i were sent in small companies to places where they 
were likely to be well received, and held a kind of 
charity-bazaar. There were some convents which 
had these sales within their walls ; but this practice 
was less approved. Their own clothing was very 
.plain, and belonged to a common stock, none being 
allowed to possess any property separate from the 
(community ; but Basil discouraged any excess of 
iplainness, justly observing that there may be a de- 
isire of popular praise, and somewhat of vanity, in 
affecting meanness of dress, as well as in needless 

In the social evils of the people they often found 
employment for benevolence and charity. Some- 
itimes a poor slave would fly to the monastery, to 
lentreat their intercession vith a hard master; and 
they would use their influence to obtain some miti 
gation of his lot. If they were unsuccessful, they 
prepared him to suffer as a Christian should, and 
were ready to suffer for him rather than neglect 
whatever they could do for his relief. Their house 
was a school for orphans, whom they clothed and 
fed and educated, together with the children of 
; such parents as chose to commit them to their 
charge. For these they had a separate building 
and chambers set apart, that they might be em 
ployed in their studies and at play, without dis 
turbing their elders. But they met together at 
prayers ; " for children," said Basil, " are moved 
to sad and serious thought by imitating the aged ; 
and the help is great which the aged receive from 
children in their prayers." In other respects, the 
care and tenderness with which he directed their 
teachers to watch over them, to correct their child 
ish faults, to encourage their studies by rewards, 


were such as none of our later systems of education 
have surpassed. 

It would naturally happen that the children 
thus brought up, and especially the orphans, when 
they grew to years of discretion, would wish to 
remain in the monastery, and make their profession 
of abiding by the rules. This Basil would not allow 
them to do, till their reason was come to its full 
power, that there might be no doubt of the choice 
being deliberately made. At this period those who 
did not choose to become monks were allowed to 
go where they pleased ; those who entered the so 
ciety signed an agreement before the heads of the 
monastery, which was kept as a record of it. He 
gave direction also, that if any parents brought 
their children to be received into his rule, they 
should not be received till they were able to judge 
freely for themselves. The novice took upon him 
no vows ; but the elders offered prayers for him, as 
for one that had more immediately consecrated him 
self to the service of God. Still further to guard 
against any rash engagement, the young person 
who offered himself was charged to take some days 
to consider and inquire what it was that he engaged 
to do, before he was received. But if after this 
they chose to renounce their profession, the rest 
\vere taught to consider it as a forfeiting of their 
Christian integrity and truth. Such were the rules 
arid practices of the best monasteries in the East ; 
under such discipline had archbishop Theodore lived 
for the early part of his life, and something of this 
kind we may expect to find introduced by him into 

But there were other monasteries before his time, 
as we have already seen ; those which St. Germain 
introduced into Wales being the earliest that were 
known in Britain, and next to them those which St. 


Patrick, the pupil of Germain, established in Ire 
land. From Ireland was founded lona; and from 
lona the Scottish missionaries had founded Lmdis- 
farne, and other religious houses in the south a? 
well as the north of England. We have seen that 
they had settled in Sussex, before the people of that 
province were converted by Wilfrid. And another 
monastery, in Wessex, of the greatest name in old 
English history, Malmsbury, " Maidulf s borough." 
owes its name and foundation to Maidulf, a Scottish 
monk, who fixed himself there and taught a school, 
about the same time 

A friendly intercourse between the Saxon Chris 
tians and the monks of Scotland and Ireland con 
tinued to be kept up from the time of Aidan to the 
time of Bede, Alcuin, and Alfred. And tnoagh 


these monasteries were situated in the midst of 
countries ruled by barbarous chiefs, and never suc 
ceeded far in reforming their wild manners, yet it is 
certain that they were long in high repute for their 
Christian discipline. The learned teachers of Ire 
land came not only into Great Britain, but into 
France and Italy, to instruct and edify the churches 
of Christ in those countries. 2 And we have seen 
how Agilbert, the French bishop of Dorchester, 
had visited Ireland for the sake of study and im 
provement, and how many Saxons went with Colman 
into that country, to which others continued to go 
after his departure. It is necessary, therefore, to 
ask what was the character of the discipline of these 
native monasteries, as they must have had great in 
fluence in forming the early Saxon religious houses. 
There is every reason to believe that their rule 
was most like St. Basil s. It may be judged of in 
some measure by what we have seen of Aidan and 
his monks at Linclisf arne. We have also some means 
of learning its character from the writings of Colum- 
ban, an Irish missionary, who, while Augustine and 
Mellitus were in Kent, was employed in founding 
monasteries in France, Switzerland, and Italy ; dying 
at Bobbio, in the last-mentioned country, A.D. 615. 
His exhortations to his monks speak something of 
austerity, but are marked by simplicity and good 
sense. " Think not," he says, "that it is enough to 
weary these bodies, formed of the dust of the earth, 
with watching and fasting, unless we reform our 
manners. To make lean the flesh, if the soul bears 
no fruit, is like working the ground without being 
able to make it bear a crop ; it is like making an 
image of gold on the outside, and of clay within. True 
piety dwells in humbleness of soul, not of body ; for 

* Alcuin, Epist ccxxi. 


of what use is it to set the servant to fight with pas- 
,sions, while those passions are good iViends with the 
piaster ? It is not enough to hear talk or to read of 
jvirtue. Can a man cleanse his house of defilement 
Iby words only ? can he without pain and toil ac- 
Iconiplish his daily task ? Gird up your loins, there- 
jfore, and cease not to maintain a good fight : none 
but he who fights bravely can gain the crown. 

Such plain speaking shews the active character 

of the life which was led in these ancient British 

j monasteries. The members of such societies lived 

i under a rule enjoining labour, abstinence, and hours 

of prayer. The houses governed by the disciples of 

i Germain were the nurseries of the Church also, that 

| the young who were educated there might do the 

; Church service afterwards. 3 Nor was there any ma- 

: terial difference made in those which were founded 

! after the arrival of the disciples of Gregory ; as we 

hear of no dispute or variance between the Roman 

and Scottish monks, except on the subject of keeping 

Easter, and the mode of shaving the head. There 

was then no rivalry of different orders, such as arose 

subsequently in the history of the Church. 

St. Benedict, to whom, at a later period, most 
of the monks in western Europe looked back as to 
their founder, was born at Nursia in Italy, about 
A.D. 480, and his order was first instituted in A.D. 
529, more than a century after the time of Germain. 
Some of the early Saxon monks had heard of Bene 
dict and his rule ; but it was either not at this time 
received into England, or it was not of the same 
character as it afterwards assumed under subsequent 
reforms. The beginning of this order in England 
will be noticed as having taken place two or three 
hundred years later, in the time of St. Dunstan. 

5 Bishop Stillingfleet. 


The character of the earlier Saxon monasteries will 
best be seen, if we take an example from one of the 
most famous, that in which the Venerable Bede re 
ceived his education, the monastery of Jarrow in 

BENEDICT BISCOP, a Northumbrian nobleman, 
one of the ministers at the court of king Oswy, at 
the age of twenty-five determined to quit his worldly 
honours and embrace a religious life. He went to 
Rome about A.D. 663, and again a few years later; 
and having studied for some time there, went to 
reside for two years as a novice in the famous mon 
astery of Lerins in the south of France. He then 
paid a third visit to Rome, just at the time that The 
odore was about to be sent as archbishop to England. 
He was glad of the opportunity to make his acquaint 
ance, and accompanied him to this country, bringing 
with him so many books and manuscripts, and also 
relics of apostles and martyrs, as were the wonder of 
the Christians in Northumberland. 

King Egfrid, who had now succeeded his father 
Oswy, received him kindly, and gave him a large 
grant of land to build a monastery near the mouth 
of the river Wear, at the place now called Monk 
Wearmouth. To this place he brought skilful ma 
sons and artificers of glass from France ; 4 and sparing 
nothing in cost or labour, soon completed the work. 

4 These were the first artificers of glass, says Bede, who 
were known among the Saxons. They glazed the windows of 
the church and the lodgings of the monastery ; and from them 
the English learnt the art, A.D. 678. " It is an art," says 
Bede, " not to be despised for its use in furnishing lamps tor 
cloisters, and many other kinds of vessels." It is most likely, 
however, that the Romans had taught the ancient Britons this 
art before, if they did not themselves know it ; for the Druids 
nre said to have used glass rings for amulets or charms. And 
the glass used by Wilfrid at York minster was a few years 
earlier than this at Jarrow. See p. 78. 


The church was dedicated by the king s direction to 
I St. Peter, the first pastor of Rome. Scarcely was 
I this monastery reared, when this active and liberal 
I Saxon again went abroad, paid a fourth visit to 
I Rome, and returned with rich gifts and ornaments 
I for the church, and another collection of books. He 
I also obtained a letter from pope Agatho approving 
ft, the regulations of the monastery, as the king had re- 
I quested, and brought with him as a visitor a Roman 
|; abbot, who was very skilful in the art of chanting 
B and church-music. The monks of Wearmouth were 
I thus instructed perfectly in the manner of divine 
I service as it was used at Rome. The king now 
I increased his grant of land; and Biscop determined 
I to raise a second monastery near the other. This 

was dedicated to St. Paul, and was Bede s monastery 

; of Jarrow. The founder of these religious houses 

[it passed most of his life in these travels ; and it was 

i . not till he had made five journeys to gather stores 

; for his great foundation, that he returned to die at 

I home. 

In a monastery like this, where the advancement 
! of learning was so much the aim of its founder, 

we might have expected there would have been no 

room for such arts and labour as St. Basil enjoined. 

But it was not so. When Biscop was abroad on 
I some of his later journeys, he entrusted the charge 
i! of one of the houses to Ceolfrid, a learned friend; 

the other to his own nephew Osterwin, a young 
I nobleman who had become a monk at Wearmouth. 

This young noble, who had come from an office of 
dignity in the court of king Egfrid, used to thrash 

and winnow the corn with the other monks, with all 
| cheerful obedience, to milk the cows and sheep, 5 to 

s It was common to milk sheep in England when Tusser 
wrote his " Five Hundred Points of Good Husbandrie," A.D. 
1537. It is still usual in some parts of Wales. 


work at the mill, in the garden, in the kitchen, auJ 
to share all the labours of the monastery. When he 
was made abbot, he was still the same ; ready to take 
a part at whatever task he found the brothers en 
gaged ; at the iron-forge, or guiding the plough, or 
shaking the winnowing-fan. He slept in the com 
mon dormitory, as was usual in these houses, where 
the monks had one dress for night and for day, that 
they might rise without delay to prayer, till feeling 
the attack of a fatal disease upon him, five days 
before his death, he retired to a private chamber. 
On the morning of the day on which he died, he had 
a seat placed for him in the open air; and, calling all 
the brotherhood together, who were moved to tears 
at the early death of so kind a friend and pastor, 
gave them the kiss of peace, and quietly breathed 
his last. He died at the age of thirty-six, at tho 
hour of singing the morning psalms. 

Such was the kind of life which was led by the 
greater part of the members of these communities. 
But others, who had the charge of instructing the 
young, or those who had taken any of the offices of 
the ministry, were less employed in these manual 
labours. Bede himself must undoubtedly have 
passed his spare time in study, when he was not 
employed in teaching his pupils; or rather, he made 
the two employments meet in one, as a skilful 
teacher will, and was learning himself while he in 
structed others. It was a common regulation in 
early monasteries, to employ some of the younger 
monks in making copies of the Gospels, the Psalter, 
and the books used in the services of the Church; 
and the want of a supply of these books must have 
been so great, that no doubt the practice was begun 
soon after the introduction of learning into the coun 
try. In all the larger monasteries was kept a chro 
nicle nr register of the reiffn and life and death of 


kings, the election of bishops, and all remarkable 
events of war and peace. One of these chronicles, 
kept at the old Saxon monastery of Medhamstead, 
or Peterborough, has been preserved to this time, 
and is one of the most valuable records of ancient 
times in this country. There was also another regis 
ter-book, in which the monks kept copies of all the 
decrees made at councils of the early English Church, 
the priests who attended there being ordered to bring 
ink and parchment to write them down. And it is 
most likely, that the copies of the laws passed by 
Ethelbert and other Christian princes after him were 
kept at some of the principal monasteries, where the 
bishops held their sees ; as the Saxon kings had no 
other record-office than those the Church supplied. 
It is plain that the Saxons, as soon as they em 
braced Christianity, were eager to abound in gifts 
of land to the Church, and to favour the building of 
monasteries ; arid however we may judge of their way 
of proving their zeal, we must admire the spirit with 
which they so freely gave to advance the cause of 
God. Many of the churches which they founded 
with these religious houses have preserved a place 
sacred to divine worship from their time until now; 
and we owe to them, after twelve hundred years of 
chance and change, the best institutions that can 
belong to a Christian land. And at the time when 
Christianity began among them, there was scarcely 
the means of living a religious life, except by be 
coming a member of such communities as these. 
Persons of the highest rank, weary of the noisy feast 
ing which made up most of the state of a Saxon 
court, undertook the quiet rule of a monastery, as 
a charge more suited to a peaceful and thoughtful 
mind. St. Hilda, who founded the abbey of Whitby, 
was one of these : she was a niece of king Edwin, 
and received baptism from Paulinus ; and chose the 


life of a recluse, under the approval of bishop Aidan, 
at the first nunnery which was founded among the 
Northumbrians, at Hartlepool. When some way 
advanced in life, she bought an estate at Whitby, 
where she built the abbey over which she presided, 
and where she died A.D. 680. She was a person of 
eminent ability and prudence, as well as piety; so 
that her counsel in difficulties was sought, not only 
by persons in the common class of life, but also by 
kings and princes. The discipline of her monks, and 
their attainments, were so remarkable, that five of 
them were at different times called from their cells 
to take upon them the office of bishops : but the 
fame of the place remains still greater from its hav 
ing been the abode of C^EDMON, the earliest English 
sacred poet, whose songs on the subjects of history- 
contained in the Bible contributed to enlighten the 
people s minds with divine truth, and to inspire them 
with the love of holiness. Etheldreda, the wife of 
Egfrid, having left the partnership of a crown to 
enter upon the same way of life, enjoyed a high re 
putation for her remarkable self-denial and devoted 
piety ; making it her practice to pass her whole time 
in prayer in the church, from the time of singing the 
midnight hymn to the dawn of day. She was the 
founder of the abbey of Ely, which became, after the 
Norman Conquest, a bishop s see. Of like name for 
piety in high station were St. Ethelburga, sister of 
Erconwald, bishop of London, first abbess of the 
great monastery of Barking ; St. Osith, wife of Sig- 
here, a king of Essex; and St. Werburga, of Chester, 
daughter of Wulfhere, king of Mercia, the founder 
of what is now the cathedral church of that ancienf 

It is true that the places which these pious 
Saxons chose for the seat of monasteries were not 
always so full of natural beauty as St. Basil s moun- 


tain-side. Many were built in fens and marshes ; as 
Medhamstead, " the home in the meadow," after 
wards Peterborough ; and, in later Saxon times, 
Crowland and Ramsey. Bede truly describes Ely, 
as it must have been before the marshes were 
drained : " It is a district of land," he says, " like 
an island, compassed all about with fen and water 
so that it has its name, Elige, Eel-island, from the 
number of eels that are caught in these same fens." 
Of much the same description was Boston, " Bo- 
tolph s Town," founded about this time by a Saxon 
saint, whose name was great in early times, though 
little is known of him now, except that he was a 
nobleman who, having learnt the monastic life in 
France, returned to found this monastery at a place 
called Icanhoe, since called after his name. But his 
reputation must have extended far in Mercia ; as 
not only in London and Lincolnshire, but in all the 
midland, many churches are dedicated in towns and 
villages to his memory. 

It is likely that these situations in tne marshes 
and fen-districts were chosen as places of security, 
at a time when the more frequented parts of the 
country were often the scene of war. For the same 
reason, after the Norman Conquest, the last Saxon 
who held out against the Conqueror, Hereward, 
" the hardy outlaw," retreated to Ely as his place of 
defence ; and a party of the barons here made their 
last resistance against Prince Edward, afterwards 
Edward I., when they had lost the battle of Eves- 
ham. The choice of such places seems to have 
been taught to the Saxons by the Scots, who had 
fixed their monasteries at lona and Lindisfarne, tr 
be out of the way of public disturbance. They 
chose also places surrounded by deep woods, such 
as Bosham in Sussex, before mentioned, and Last- 
ingham, which, when Cedda founded it, was a spoi 



among the Cleveland hills, high and far from all 
abode, except the dens of wild beasts, and of rob 
bers, who led as wild a life as they. 

The Britons also had consecrated such retreats to 
religious uses. The famous Dubritius retired in his 
old age to Bardsey island, near the coast of Caernar 
vonshire ; and the island of Holyhead had an ancient 
monastery built upon it. The celebrated abbey of 
Glastonbury was probably a Welch monastery before 
king Ina of Wessex, at the close of the seventh cen 
tury, took Somerset from the Welch, and raised his 
own great foundation there. There seems 110 reason 
to doubt that king Arthur was buried in the island 
of Avalon, or Ynis-vitryn, "the glassy island," as it 
was called by the Welch, being surrounded at that 
time with a wide lake of still waters, before the 
streams that encircle it were confined to their banks; 
and here there was a church founded by the Saxons, 
built, as they sometimes built their churches, of that 
kind of stud-building still in use in many parts of the 
country, where it has not given way to brick or stone. 6 
In all likelihood the Britons had a monastery here, 
for at such places their princes were buried ; and 
whatever may be thought of St. Patrick s coming to 
Glastonbury to die, and of the legend about Joseph 
of Arimathea, the tomb of Arthur discovered in 
Henry II. s reign is a strong proof of the ancient 
religion of the place. 

And this practice the Welch again seem to have 

6 The notion which some modern accounts would give of 
this old Welch church is, that it was a hovel made of wattled 
brambles, like a modern cow-shed. Is it likely that the ancient 
Britons should have had the Romans four hundred years in the 
country, and yet, after all, be something lower than Hottentots 
in the scale of civilisation ? No doubt it was a stud-building, 
with glazed windows ; for how should the Welch have called 
the place " the glassy island," as the Saxons called it " Glass- 
town- bury," if they had no notion what glass was ? 


beerj taught by St. Germain and his disciples. Ger 
main was a disciple of Honoratus, first abbot of 
Lenns, from whose monastery came Hilary bishop 
of Aries, and many other famous and learned Chris 
tian teachers, in that time of public confusion when 
the Goths were breaking up the Roman empire. 
Here, in the small island of Lerins, now called the 
island of St. Honorat, near Marseilles, the Gallic 
Christians found an asylum ; while the Italians fled 
to Gorgona near Leghorn, or to the islands in the 
Adriatic Sea, from whom the city of Venice took its 
rise. The pagan Romans, in the hour of their de 
struction, scoffed at these religious retreats. " This 
sect of monks," said one of their last poets, " use 
worse enchantments than the old witch Circe ; for 
she only changed men s bodies, but they change the 
spirit and the soul." But thus, while the old hea 
thendom perished, it was the providence of God to 
preserve a small remnant of Christians, to kindle 
again the light of religion, and restore the love of 
brotherhood in the Christian world. 

Besides the famous monasteries already men 
tioned, there arose in almost every part of England 
religious houses of the same character ; particularly 
in Kent, at Dover, Reculver, and Minster in the 
isle of Thanet, built by Egbert, a king of Kent, 
A.D. 670, for his daughter St. Mildred ; at Bedrics- 
worth, afterwards Bury, in Suffolk ; at Bardney, in 
Lincolnshire ; at Beverley, and at Melrose on the 
Tweed, then within the borders of Northumbria, 
where St. Cuthbert was one of the first abbots ; at 
Repton, in Derbyshire ; at Oxford, St. Fridiswide s, 
now the cathedral of Christ Church ; atWimborne 
Minster, Dorset ; and at Bath. This ancient city, 
whose warm springs were known to the Romans, 
and made it a favourite residence with them, seems 
also to have been used as a resort of sick persons by 


the Saxons, who called it Akemanchester, " aching 
men s city." The nunnery, which was founded there 
by Osric, a petty king of the Wiccas (or men of 
Worcester and Gloucestershire), A.D. 676, was pro 
bably a house in which the pious maidens might be 
employed in ministering to the infirm and aged, who 
came thither for relief. 

Wherever a bishop s see was established in a 
province, the next step taken was to found monas 
teries in different places. Theodore had no need to 
stir up the Saxons to such works, for he found them 
quite ready to undertake them. Kings, nobles, and 
bishops, were all vying with each other in their 
efforts to promote the best means, as it then seemed, 
to spread the faith of Christ into all quarters of the 
land. It was Theodore s care, while he forbade any 
bishop to disturb the monks, and " maidens serving 
God," as they called the nuns, in their property and 
dwellings, to order, at the council of Hertford, that 
no monks should go wandering about the country, 
or leave one monastery for another, without the 
abbot s leave. By this rule he prevented those 
vagabond habits, of which St. Augustine and St. 
Jerome had before complained, and provided for 
that obedience to their superior, which is necessary 
to the well-being of every community formed among 


Specimen of an catlp Saion Barter, 


IN the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Ruler 
and Guide ! On the sixth of July, A.D. 680. 

We brought nothing into this world, neither may 
we carry any thing out ; therefore we must provide 
heavenly things with earthly, and eternal with those 
that perish and decay. For which cause I, bishop 
Eddi, 7 freely give to abbot Hemgils three hydes of 
land at Lantocal ; and also land in another place for 
two dwellings, that is, in an island, which is surrounded 
on each side by a marsh, or pool, the name of which 
is Ferra-mere. And I pray that no man after my 
death presume to undo this gift; but if any one shall 
attempt it, let him know that he will be called to give 
an account to Christ. 

J< I, Eddi the Bishop, sign it with my name. 

7 Eddi, or Hedda, was bishop of Winchester, A.D. 677-704. 
A hyde of land was about sixty acres. Hemgils was abbot of 
Glastonbury ; and Ferra-mere seems to be the village of Meare 
near Glastonbury. 



Go to the ants or bees, as the Proverbs of Solomon bid you; and 
from those little people learn the good order of a kingdom, or ol 

a monastery. 


T will now be well to take a view both 
of the benefits and of the evils of the 
monasteries, and of other practices which 
were brought in with them. It has never 
been the fault of the English people to 
enter coldly on any plans of public reform which 
they have once taken up : and this was proved in 
the zeal of our Saxon forefathers in rearing these 
religious houses. It was a great benefit that there 
should be places of education, where the young 
might be trained for the service of the Church or 
state : it was well that there should be places of 
retirement, where the aged might end their days in 
penitence and prayer ; and places of refuge, where 
the orphan and friendless might find support and 
protection. But these places were multiplied be 
yond the need of the country ; and the rage for 
them led improper persons to enter upon this way 
of life, to the neglect of more pressing duties. It 
may be, that if those who lived under the rule of 
a monastery thought this life more favourable to 
"eligion than one burdened with married cares, the 


apostle St. Paul was of the same opinion : but it 
was never meant that .husbands and wives should 
therefore separate from each other, and go into 
different monasteries. It might have been piety in 
parents to permit their children, when they were 
old enough to make this choice, to take upon them 
selves the religious habit ; but it was a superstitious 
tyranny when parents determined this without con 
sulting their children s inclination, and while they 
were of tender years. Thus king Oswy, before his 
battle with Penda, is said to have vowed that he 
would dedicate his daughter Elfleda, then scarcely 
a twelvemonth old, to live in holy maidenhood. She 
was placed under the charge of St. Hilda, whom 
she afterwards succeeded as abbess of Whitby. In 
her case it does not seem to have put a force upon 
her own inclination ; but if such an example was 
followed by other parents, it must in many cases 
have led to great misery ; and no sacrifice, can be 
acceptable to God, where the will does not con 
sent to the offering. We may, indeed, believe that 
such acts were not common ; for the Saxons had 
in general a scrupulous regard to the liberty and 
proper influence of women ; they were sometimes 
governed by queens ; and their -monasteries, which 
sometimes consisted of men and women dwelling 
under separate roofs, were placed, like St. Hilda s, 
under the government of an aged female. And 
Bede, who tells us of this vow of Oswy s, informs 
us that this king was not a perfect Christian cha 
racter; that he was led too much by ambition, and 
not very scrupulous about the means he took for 
compassing his ends. It is often found that the 
religion of such characters is mixed with supersti 
tion ; they try to compound for their crimes by 
splendid offerings ; and their sense of natural affec 
tion teing dulled or lost, they are ready to sacrifice 


any thing rather than their own besetting sins. If 
there is any other way of accounting for such an 
act as this, it probably arose from a mistaken imita- 
ion of the vow of Jephtha, or of Hannah the mo 
ther of Samuel. 

We are not to suppose, however, that all those 
monasteries were of the same character, under the 
government of single men or single women. Many 
of them were kept by married persons, widowers 
or widows ; and the inmates, though they did not 
there live with their families, were persons who had 
done their duty in their generation, and retired to 
serve God in their old age, without always re 
nouncing the ties of kindred. Ostrytha, another 
daughter of Oswy, was the queen of Ethelred, 
king of Mercia, and a great benefactress to the 
monastery of Bardney, in Lincolnshire. Here she 
often retired to pass her time in acts of devotion 
and charity. In the year A.D. 697? she was un 
happily slain in a tumult of the Lincolnshire people; 
and Ethelred, after a few years, having first taken 
his brother Conred for a short time to share his 
throne, in his old age retired to die at Bardney 
It is most likely that such monasteries as these, into 
which aged princes withdrew, were inhabited by 
persons who had seen the world, and having tasted 
enough of what it has to give, were content to bid 
it farewell ; and we may look back with some 
respect upon the memory of those, who, raised to 
the height of worldly dignity, found out its deceit- 
fulness, and instead of turning their brief authority 
to a means of oppression, sought a purer satisfac 
tion for the soul in tne pursuit of an hereafter. 
Such was Bede s friend and patron Ceolwulf, king 
of Northumbria, who, A.D. 737, two years after the 
death of Bede, resigned his crown, and became a 
monk at Lindisfarne. Such was his successor Eg- 


hert, who, after a brave and hap^v reign of more 
than twenty years, laid down his greatness, and 
lived for ten years more under the discipline of 
his brother Egbert, archbishop of York, A.D. 768. 1 
Others there were, who, with the enthusiasm of 
youth, devoted themselves at the outset of life to 
the same service ; such as Offa, a prince of Essex, 
who, with Conred of Mercia, betook himself to a 
monk s life at Rome, A.D. 709. He was a youth of 
great personal beauty, says Bede, and his pleasing 
manners made him most acceptable to the people, 
who looked forward with hopes to the time when 
he should be called to govern them. He was also 
honourably betrothed to a princess of Mercia : but 
he left all the wealth, and power, and pleasure that 
courted him, for Christ s sake and the Gospel s ; 

" He gave his honours to the world again, 
His better part to heaven " 

We must confess, though a mistaken sense of duty 
ruled his choice, that it was no common power of 
religion, which could take him at so early an age 
from all the advantages of birth and state, to live 
in a foreign land, in unknown society and undistin 
guished habits, and to giv-* himself up to a life of 
prayer, and fasting, and alms-deeds. 

To come, however, to more common life. It 
appears that many of the monasteries were private 
property, founded by clergymen or laymen, whc 
turned their country houses into colleges for reli 
gious persons. Earl Osred, A.D. 743, obtained a 
grant of an estate from Ethelbald of Mercia, at 
Aston and Turkdean, Gloucestershire, on condition 
that he should support "a family of God s servants" 
on it. A clergyman, named Hedda, about A.D. 787, 
gave a charter of some estates in Worcestershire to 

1 See Chap. IX. 


his kinsman, bishop Hathored, as a security that the 
land should remain with his own heirs of the male 
line, as long as there should be any in holy orders to 
take the government of a monastery he had founded ; 
but if they should fail, as he did not wish the monas 
tery to be governed by laymen, he left it to the ca 
thedral at Worcester, that the bishop for that time 
might appoint a priest for abbot. This arrange 
ment was plainly a step towards turning the monas 
tery into a parsonage, and endowing a parish church. 
And it is plain that the worthy clergyman who drew 
this deed was neither a monk himself, nor wished his 
children after him to be so. Another deed of earlier 
date, about A.D. 737, drawn up by Nothelrn, a friend 
,~>f Bede s, who had been a London clergyman, and 
was now archbishop of Canterbury, speaks of a nun 
nery at Huddingdon in Worcestershire, which had 
been the property of a Saxon lady named Dunna, 
granted her by king Ethelred. On her deathbed 
she had bequeathed this nunnery and the estate to 
her daughter Rothwara, then of tender age ; whose 
father having married a second wife, the step-mother 
had taken possession of the lands, and also of her 
mother s will, which she pretended to have been 
stolen from her. The deed, which is signed by all 
the bishops of the province of Canterbury, declares 
the property to belong to Rothwara, on condition 
that the nunnery should be kept up, and pronounces 
the displeasure of God upon those who had attempted 
to defraud her of it. It is a proof of the same kind, 
that these monasteries or religious houses were pri 
vate property, that they were often presided over by 
married persons, who had the power of leaving them 
to their heirs. 

It is true that Bede himself did not approve of 
some who, with too little inclination for the disci 
pline of a monastery, undertook the care of such 

CH. vi. 1 BEDE S ADVICE. Ill 

places. The fashion had gone too far. . There were 
many sheriffs of counties, and town-reeves, or mayors 
of boroughs, who had taken upon themselves to set 
up monasteries, and passed their time half in the 
business of their magistrate s office, half within the 
walls of the religious houses. The king s thanes, or 
officers of the court, were doing the same ; so that 
they were acting the part of abbots and ministers of 
state together. And Bede, who was himself a monk, 
did not wish to see persons in the charge of abbeys, 
who were, as he say-s, dividing their time between 
the observance of a religious rule and the company 
of their wives and children. Indeed, there was some 
ground for his fear that this rage would lead to pub 
lic inconvenience. The privileges which the kings 
had granted to these lands were such as to tempt 
many, who only desired idleness, to take refuge in 
the loosely governed monasteries from their duties 
to the state. So that Cuthbert, archbishop of Can 
terbury, at one of the councils held at Cliff s-hoe, 
near Rochester, A.D. 742, thought it necessary to 
decree, that the monasteries should not be made 
places of retreat for singers, minstrels, or jesters. 
The advice of Bede, which he gave to Egbert, 
archbishop of York, a short time before his own 
death, was therefore no doubt well timed and ne 
cessary. He reminded him that it was his business, 
as bishop, to visit the monasteries, and to take care 
that the places consecrated to God should not be 
pven up to the dominion of the devil. He recom 
mended that the number of bishops should rather be 
increased, and that some of the larger monasteries 
should be turned into bishops sees. This letter of 
his, which he wrote about the year A.D. 735, is sup 
posed to have been the last work of his hand ; and 
it is a remarkable monument of his love of his coun 
try and prudent foresight. If these houses went on 


increasing, he said, without a check to their abuses, 
liie country would be overstocked with them ; there 
would not be estates left for the nobles and country 
gentlemen ; and the persons who were wanted to 
defend the country against invaders would not be 
found at the time of need. " We have had a long 
time of peace and calm in Northumbria," he said; 
" and now many of our people, themselves and their 
bairns, gentle and simple, are more bent upon going 
into minsters, and taking the shaven crown, than 
upon going to the camp-exercise. What the end of 
this will be, another age will shew." It is probable 
that archbishop Egbert, and Adelbert or Albert, his 
learned successor, acted upon Bede s advice ; for 
the misfortunes which afterwards befell the North 
umbrians did not arise, as some have supposed, from 
their being too devout, but from their civil dissen 
sions and wars. 

The form of privilege which the monasteries en 
joyed is said to have been first granted by Wihtred, 
king of Kent, A.D. 694-725 ; and it was continued in 
the other Saxon kings charters before the Norman 
Conquest. The monastery-lands were set free from 
gable or land-tax ; and the tenants obliged only to 
attend the king in war, and to pay burgh-bote and 
brig-bote, a kind of county-rates, levied for the repair 
of town-walls and bridges, but which were often paid, 
like other taxes in those early times, by personal ser 
vice and labour. These lands, therefore, were com 
monly free from the most burdensome kind of tax, 
which all other lands had to pay to the king. This 
was confirmed by Ethelbald of Mercia, A.D. 742, at 
the council of Cliffs-hoe ; and all the assembly o f 
earls, bishops, and abbots, declared it to be a statute 
most worthy of a noble and prudent prince. Yet if 
the church-lands were greatly increased, it must have 
made some difference in the income of one of these 


kings of provinces. The value of the gable or land- 
tax was in those days estimated in produce or stock 
instead of metal ; and most likely the tax itself was 
often paid in live-stock or in grain. Thus in the 
laws of king Ina, of Wessex, about A.D. 692, the 
value of the tax of ten hydes of cultivated land, 
from six hundred to a thousand acres, is set down 
at ten pints of honey, three hundred loaves, twelve 
barrels of Welch ale, thirty of clear ale (perhaps pale 
ale), two old oxen or beeves, ten wethers, ten geese, 
twenty hens, ten cheeses, a tun of butter, five trout, 
one hundred eels, and a small weight of hay or 
fodder for cattle. 2 The givers of lands to monas 
teries did not always like to grant away this gable. 
Ethelwald, prince of the Wiccas, A.D. 706, makes it 
a clause in a grant to Egwin, bishop of Worcester, 
that if the wood-land at Ombersley, on the Severn, 
bear a good crop of acorns in any year, nis swine 
herd is to have the right of pasturing one herd 
of swine within the borders of the land he grants. 
And Offa, king of Mercia, A.D. 791, in renewing a 
charter and large grant of his predecessors to the 
abbey of Westbury, in Worcestershire, bargains that 
the land shall still pay the gable of two tuns of clear 
ale, a coomb (or kilderkin) of mild ale, a coomb of 
Welch ale, seven beeves, six wethers, forty cheeses, 
thirty bushels of rye-corn, 3 and four measures of 

- Honey was a produce of high value in all ancient bus- 
bandry. The Saxons especially used it for their metheglin or 
mead, the only royal beverage before the Normans brought 
over French wines. Honey still continued to be a tax levied 
in kind till the time of the Conquest. Trout there must have 
been plenty in the Hampshire and Wiltshire streams, in king 
Ina s time ; but the art of fly-fishing not being known till after 
Izaak Walton wrote, they were not so easily caught by the old 
Saxons, and therefore, it seems, were of greater value. 

3 Rye-corn perhaps means that mixture of rye and wheat, 
grown together, which in Cheshire is still called monk-corn. We 
have in this charter mention made of three kinds of ale ; tho 


meal. It was also a common condition of holding 
land under the Saxon kings, that the owner should 
once or twice a year entertain the king and his court 
for a day and a night. The monasteries were often 
set free from t is demand ; or, if the king visited 
them, they were not required to furnish a great feast, 
but only what they would give with good will. And 
it would doubtless be some benefit to society, if the 
Saxon clergy, who had the care of monasteries, were 
anxious to enforce this condition, entertaining their 
visitors as bishop Aidan did at Lindisfarne ; for it 
would be one way of checking the vice of drunken 
ness by example as well as precept, a vice to which 
the Gothic and German nations were much addicted, 
which was much indulged at the Saxon courts, more 
by the Danes, and which is still the besetting vice of 
the English people. 

The scarcity of the precious metals among the 
Saxons made a very small sum to be considered a 
good price for a large allotment of land. Edric, 
king of Kent, A.D. 686, sold to Theodore and Adrian 
for ten silver pounds, about thirty pounds sterling, 
about three hundred acres near the city of Canter 
bury, for the abbey of St. Peter and St. Paul, over 
which that learned abbot was then presiding. And 
Beonna, abbot of Peterborough, about a century 
afterwards, sold to earl Cuthbert a lease of three 
lives of the manor of Swineshead, about a thousand 
acres, for a shilling an acre, only reserving a yearly 
rent of thirty pence, or one night s entertainment. 

The form of delivering up possession of an estate 

Welch ale would seem to be the strongest. Our Saxon fore 
fathers were not unlike their descendants in their opinion of the 
rrrerits of this native and wholesome liquor. " Hwset drincst 
thu ? Eala, gif ic hsebbe ; oththe wseter, gif ic ne haebbe 
eala." Elf ric s Colloquy : i. e. " What drinkest thou ? Ale, 
if 1 have it ; or water, if I have not ale." 


among the pagan Saxons was to give a turf cut from 
the land to the purchaser or receiver, with a few words 
spoken to signify the intention of him who parted 
with it. At the shire-moot, or county-court, it was 
sufficient evidence about property, if a witness or two 
could prove that a person had spoken words declaring 
an intention to give or bequeath property to another. 
Thus, a son having claimed some lands that were in 
the possession of his mother, at a county-court, the 
judges, or sheriff, sent a small party of jurymen to 
hear what answer she would make. The poor woman 
was at that moment very angry with her son ; and 
pointing to a kinswoman who was with her in the 
house, said, " Here sitteth my kinswoman Leofleda, 
to whom I give both gold and land, gown and kirtle, 
and all that I have, after my own day." The persons 
who heard this, having borne witness that such words 
had been spoken, the court gave judgment that Leo- 
fleda s husband was entitled to the property. 4 Such 
a way of making property change hands must cer 
tainly have left great temptation to bear false wit 
ness ; and we find from the Saxon laws, that this was 
an evil which they were much perplexed to remedy. 
It was therefore a public benefit when the Christian 
counsellors required property to be made over by 
written deeds and charters ; not only such as was 
given to monasteries, but that which the kings gave 
to their thanes, or one private person sold to another. 
The Saxons at first thought this a superfluous cau 
tion. When king Suefred of Essex, A.D. 7(H, gave 
Twickenham meadows, and some of the land which 
may be seen from Richmond Hill, to Waldhere bi 
shop of London, he said, in the preamble to his deed, 
A word spoken is enough for evidence ; but that 
ne may hereafter ignorantly incur guilt, and since 

Preface to Mr. Kemble s Anglo-Saxon Charters, p. cxi. 


parchment is cheap, it is as well to confirm it by a 
record that may last for time to come." "It is a 
good pattern that the Greeks have left us," said ab 
bot Hedda of Worcestershire, alluding, as it seems, 
to archbishop Theodore, " to set down in writing 
whatever they would have to be known, that it may 
not be washed out of the memory." Still, the form 
of giving a piece of the sod was sometimes continued; 
and the sod was sometimes laid upon a copy of the 
Gospels, to make the form more sacred. There can 
be no doubt that all this had the effect of making 
property more safe and secure, and improving the 
industry and social order of the people. 

Another improvement which the monasteries 
brought in, with the advance of internal peace, was, 
an increase of communication between one part of 
the kingdom and the other. It may perhaps be a 
surprise to some of those who think that all such 
commerce has begun with canals and railroads ; but 
there were certainly persons living in the seventh 
and eighth centuries in England who saw the benefit 
of importations and exchange of produce between 
one part of the kingdom and another. And though 
they did not dream of turning earth into water, or 
hill into plain, yet they saw that the rivers flowing 
through the most inhabited parts of the country 
were many of them navigable, and that it would be 
useful if they could find conveyance for their heavy 
goods by water rather than by land. St. Mildred 
and her successors, abbesses of Minster in the isle 
of Thanet, had a vessel which regularly traded with 
the London markets about A.D. 747; and probably 
it conveyed wheat, which that island so plentifully 
produces ; for which the church in Bread Street is 
properly placed to preserve the memory of her sup 
plies. But this was an easy voyage, the distance 
being so small. It was a much longer trip which 


was performed about the same time by two vessels 
of bishop Milred s of Worcester, which appear to 
have sailed from the Severn down by the Bristol 
Channel, and round by Cornwall to London up the 
Thames. There were salt-works at this time at 
Droitwich and Salwarp, which the bishop s tenants 
occupied ; there were also lead-works at Hanbury ; 
and the Welch are said to have had the art of mak 
ing cider, which the Worcestershire and Hertford 
shire men were not slow to learn from them. 5 It 
is possible that some part of their cargo consisted 
of these commodities ; or they might have brought 
wool to exchange with foreign merchants, who at 
that time scarcely visited any part of England but 
London and the ports in Kent. However it might 
be, Ethelbald, king of Mercia, thought it well to let 
these vessels trade at " London-town-hythe" free of 
toll. Where religion has brought peace, the arts 
of peace will follow. As in later times the earliest 
colonies formed in America were promoted by cler 
gymen, as Hackluyt and his friends, 6 so it was the 
Church which led the way in pointing out to the 
English people the beginnings of commerce, in these 
first ages after the settlement of Christianity. What 
ever intercourse there was between different English 
ports, or with foreigners, was owing to the spirit of 

5 In the reign of Edward the Confessor, the Worcestershire 
people paid salt-tax in kind. Seider, which the Saxons called 
" apple-wine," is said to be an ancient British word. The 
" strong drink" in our Bibles, St. Luke i. 15, is in Wickliffe s 
old English version called " sydyr." 

6 Richard Hackluyt. prebendary of Westminster, published 
the first English Collection of Voyages, many of them trans 
lated from Spanish and Portuguese voyagers, A.D. 1589. Ht 
was the promoter of several of our earliest expeditions to North 
America, A.D. 1603 and 1605 ; and aided in founding the Vir 
ginian Company. " His name," says William Gifibrd, " is 
never to be mentioned without praise and veneration." 


improvement thus fostered. Copies of the Bible from 
the continent were among the first imports; and it 
became a customary law, that a merchant who had 
traded three times beyond sea, on his own account 
and in his own vessel, should be entitled to a thane s 

" Wherever monasteries were founded," says Mr. 
Southey, "marshes were drained, woods were cleared, 
wastes were brought inu> cultivation, the means of 
subsistence were increased, and new comforts were 
added to life." "A colony of monks," says M. Gui- 
zot, "in small numbers at first, transported themselves 
into some uncultivated place; and there, as mission 
aries and labourers at once, in the midst of a people 
as yet pagan, they accomplished their double task 
with as much of danger as of toil." Their diffi 
culties, too, were doubtless much increased by the 
number of wild beasts, especially wolves, which then 
abounded in the country; as is testified by the name 
wolf-month, given by the Saxons to distinguish the 
month of January. The continual ravages of these 
fierce creatures on the flocks and herds must have 
caused an amount of destruction, which at this time 
and in this country it is not easy to imagine. The 
monks who went out first into uncultivated spots, 
must no doubt have gone, as St. Owen of Gloucester 
went to Lastingham, in a woodman s dress, armed 
with an axe and mattock, to clear away the forests, 
and with dogs and spears to guard their stock from 
the wolf, and their tillage from the wild boar. 7 

7 Elfric describes the duties of a shepherd in his time, about 
three centuries after Bede : " In early morning I drive my sheep 
to their lea, and stand over them in heat and cold, with dogs, 
lest the wolves swallow them." Elfric s Colloquy. It is said 
that in the Russian province of Livonia, a few years since, the 
number of cattle destroyed by wolves was given in a govern 
ment-return, horses and foals, 3084; horned cattle and calves, 
2540 ; sheep and lambs, 15,908 ; swine, 4190 ; besides a great 


But amidst these hard labours, the useful arts 
were not forgotten. The women who followed this 
religious plan of life soon became skilful at needle 
work and embroidery. The monks taught children 
the common arts of life, and also of carving wood 
and stone, working in metal, and setting jewels : 
and jewels in those days were as much used in orna 
menting copies of the word of God, as in embel 
lishing the person. And that these arts were not 
without their value to those who exercised them, 
may be judged from an old deed of bishop Denbert 
of Worcester, A.D. 802, in which he grants a lease 
for life of a farm of two hundred acres, to Eans- 
witha, an embroideress at Hereford, on condition 
that she is to renew, and scour, and from time to 
time add to, the dresses of the priests and ministers 
who served in the cathedral church. It is also clear 
that the talents of the best artists were employed 
very early in England in making ornaments for the 
churches as well as for the ministers ; in adorning 
the altars, preparing lamps and candlesticks, and 
more particularly in furnishing communion-vessels, 
which, even at this early period, were often made of 
the most costly metals. Of these works some notice 
will occur, as we speak of eminent persons in the 
Saxon Church in the following chapters. 

But to return, to speak of the faults and defects 
in the monasteries and religious practices of this age. 
In the first place, notwithstanding the precautions of 
Theodore, there was always something too much of 
a taste for pilgrimages and hermitages. The ancient 
British Christians, as we learn from St. Jerome, often 
went to visit the Holy Land ; but he speaks as if he 
thought the practice likely to lead to abuse. "It is 

number of goats and kids, and the loss of more than 700 dogs. 
It is somewhat more than a century since the wolf was finallf 
extirpated in Britain. 


as easy," he says, " to find the way to heaven in Bri 
tain as at Jerusalem." There were but few of the 
Saxons at this time who are said to have gone to 
Jerusalem; but Adamnan, abbot of lona, in Bede s 
ifetime, wrote an account of the holy places, which 
was taken from the description of Palestine given 
by Arcvvolf, a French bishop. Arcwolf had visited 
.Jerusalem and the neighbouring country, Damascus, 
Constantinople, and Alexandria ; and on his return 
home, being carried by a storm to the coast of Scot 
land, had happily found shelter at lona. 8 From him 
Adamnan received an exact account of Jerusalem, 
the Mount of Olives, Bethlehem, and the other holy 
places, as they were at this period, before they were 
overrun by the Saracens, and while the churches 
built by the Christian emperor Constantine and his 
mother St. Helena were in their first beauty. This 
book Adamnan sent, A.D. 704-, to Aldfrid, king of 
Northumbria, who was a man of learning himself, 
and did much to encourage learning in his country. 
It was a very acceptable present to the Northum 
brian Christians. However, it does not seem at this 
time to have kindled in them any desire of visiting 
Jerusalem, though one or two such pilgrimages are 
mentioned in this century. The Saxon Christians 
took all their pilgrimages to Rome. The first emi 
nent person of whom such an act is recorded was 
Cedwalla, king of Wessex, a young and warlike 

8 No doubt these monasteries on islands, or near dangerous 
coasts, were often places of refuge to shipwrecked men. The 
Bell rock, on which a lighthouse is now erected near the Frith 
of Forth, is said to owe its name to a bell formerly fixed upon 
it by the monks of the abbey of Aberbrothock. or Arbroath : 

When the rock was hid by the surge s swell, 
The mariners heard the warning bell ; 
And then they knew the perilous rock, 
And bless d the abbot of Aberbrothock. 



prince, who was brought up in paganism; and after 
making great havoc in Sussex and Kent, was seized 
with a fit of remorse on hearing something of Chris 
tian truth, and determined to go to Rome to be bap 
tised. He was well received there by pope Sergius, 
A.D. 689 ; and having been partaker of the rite on 
Easter Sunday, died within seven days afterwards. 
His successor, king Ine, or Jna, after a reign of near 
forty years, followed his steps to Rome in his old 
age, A.D. 728. And by their example, the fashion 
of pilgrimages to the see of St. Peter became very 
popular : noble and simple, laymen and clerks, men 
and women, all took up this rage, wishing, as Bede 
says, to live as pilgrims on earth in the neighbour 
hood of saintly places, that they might b welcomed 
by the saints when they were called away from their 
earthly sojourn. Bede, however, did not follow their 
practice ; and as he was well acquainted with the 
works of St. Jerome, perhaps he knew what the 
good sense of that plain-spoken father had led him 
to say about it. " Jerusalem," said he, " is now 
made a place of resort from all parts of the world ; 
and there is such a throng of pilgrims of both sexes, 
that all the temptation, which you might in some 
degree avoid elsewhere, is here collected together." 
So it fared with these mistaken old English pil 
grims. A few years after the death of Bede, Win- 
frid, an English missionary in Germany, wrote to 
archbishop Cuthbert to say, that there was then 
great need to check the practice of pilgrimages; for 
many, both men and women, only went abroad for 
the purpose of living licentiously, without the re 
straints they would find at home, or had been tempted 
by the vices of the cities in France and Lombardy to 
fall from the paths of virtue. There were few cities 
on the way to Rome, he said, where such persons 
were not to be met with, who were lost both to reli- 


gion and their friends. It must, however, be remem 
bered, that these pilgrims were often the persons to 
bear peaceful messages between warlike nations; and 
that to them were owing some communications of 
useful knowledge from Rome and from the East. 

With regard to hermitages, the evil which they 
caused was of a less destructive kind, but one which 
hindered the pure progress of truth. There can be 
no doubt that it requires something of devout reso 
lution to undertake such a life as this; there can be 
no concealed purpose of self-indulgence in it ; and all 
we read of the old English hermits in these or the 
Norman times, leads us to believe that they were 
led by sincere though mistaken piety. There is also 
reason to suppose that while the country was thinly 
inhabited, and there were few village-churches, the 
cell of the hermit in a wild region was often the re 
sort of peasants from the neighbouring hamlets, who 
listened to his preaching, and learnt from him some 
plain rules of faith and life. And in unsettled times, 
while the religion of the age gave these retreats a 
kind of sacred character, the stranger who came to 
lodge for a night beneath the hermit s roof, and to 
share his frugal repast, was safer than he could have 
been in a more public resting-place : 

For who would rob a hermit of his weeds, 
His few books, or his beads, >r maple dish, 
Or do his grey hairs any violence ? 

It may be said also, that this was one design for 
which hermitages were founded, in an age when 
there were no inns except in a few of the principal 
towns, and the monasteries were the only places of 
public hospitality. Again, many of these hermits 
were skilful artificers, who were able to teach the 
country people some of the arts that would be most 
useful to them, as basket-making, the construction of 


bee-hives, grafting and pruning, and the best ways 
of gardening. So far all was well. But the best 
way of honouring God is to keep the path of duty 
among our fellow-men ; and it is not good to be 
alone. St. Jerome had pointed out some of the 
dangers of a solitary life, and especially that it is 
unfavourable to self-knowledge. " Pride soon steals 
on a man in solitude," he says ; " if he has practised 
fasting for a short time, and has seen nobody, he 
oegins to think that he is a person of consequence, 
ind forgets himself, who he is, and whence he comes, 
ind whither he is going. I do not condemn a soli 
tary life; I have often praised it. But let the soldier 
of Christ who attempts it be well trained in a monas 
tery first ; let him be one who will not be frightened 
when he finds the hardship of it ; who is content to 
be esteemed the least of all, that he may become the 
first of all ; one who knows how to abound and to 
suffer need, to deny himself in plenty, as well as to 
endure hunger; whose dress and speech, and his very 
look and walk, are a lesson of Christian grace ; and 
who is above the folly of some, who invent wonder 
ful stories of the conflicts of foul spirits with them, 
that they may make themselves the admiration of 
the vulgar, and turn it to a gainful trade." 

This was the case with some of the first hermits 
who dwelt in Egypt, in the time of the fathers ; and 
it was too much the case with the early English her 
mits. Their cells were the nurseries of superstition. 
It is found that the body, when not fed with sufficient 
or wholesome food (and the hermits sometimes mixed 
their flour or pottage with wood-ashes and burnt 
herbs), deludes the senses with strange dreams by 
night or day, and the quick vigour of the under 
standing is lost in wandering imaginations. We are 
not to suppose that all the wonderful stories of the 
kind that St. Jerome speaks of were mere imposture; 


fte persons who recounted them may have believed 
that they saw and felt the attacks of the great enemy. 
And there was often something of method in their 
madness ; the strange fancy serving a good moral 
purpose. Thus it is said, in the life of St. Benedict, 
that he frightened an idle monk who used to desert 
the church at the hour of prayer, by saying that he 
saw a dark cherub hovering over him, and without 
his knowledge dragging him away to indulge his va 
grant habit. Thus among the old English stories, 
it is told of a vicious man, that being on his way to 
commit a crime to which he was addicted, he fell 
through a broken bridge into the river below, and 
supposed himself to have really gone through the 
agonies of death before he was rescued. He declared 
to the bystanders, when he was recovered, that his 
soul had been separated from his body, and that he 
had seen the bad and good angels disputing for it; 
that when neither would resign it, they had agreed . 
that he should be restored to life again, and his 
sentence should depend upon his choice at that mo 
ment, whether to go on to the commission of his 
crime or to return. 

Other stories there are, which shew the progress 
of opinion towards those errors which at a later time 
were more generally received. Bede tells a story 
which had been told to him, of Imma, a Northum 
brian, who had been taken prisoner in a battle with 
the Mercians. His brother Tunna, abbot of a mon 
astery, hearing that he had been slain in that battle, 
went to the field to search for his body, and carried 
off by mistake the body of another person. This he 
had honourably buried; and took care to have many 
masses said for the deliverance of his soul. The 
prisoner is said to have found the benefit of these 
masses in the bodily captivity which he endured; 
for whenever the earl who held him prisoner ordered 


him to be kept in bonds, the fetters and manacles 
were shortly afterwards discovered to have fallen 
from his limbs. Many persons, says Bede, were 
persuaded by this story to pray and give alms, or 
to procure masses to be said, for the rescue of 
their friends who had departed this life ; for they 
understood from it that the sacrifice of the altar was 
able to procure eternal redemption both of soul and 

Of the same kind is the vision which the famous 
Alcuin of York tells us, of Walter, a hermit who 
seems to have lived at Flamborough Head. He 
saw, as he dreamed or fancied, the ghost of a priest 
followed through the air by a host of foul fiends, 
who were endeavouring to seize it, and to drag it to 
the place of torments. The sin for which he was 
thus harassed was, that he had kept back one of his 
offences unconfessed in his prayers. " Thirty days 
have I been chased to and fro in the air," said the 
ghost to the hermit, " and this is the last day allow 
ed ; if I cannot now obtain some good man s prayers, 
I am lost for ever." The hermit prayed for him, 
and believed he was released. 

It might be supposed, from the first of these 
stories, that the Saxons at this early period believed, 
as the Church of Rome does now, that there was 
a place called purgatory, where the souls of those 
who have been on earth, as the northern proverb is. 
" over bad for blessing, and over good for banning," 
are to be kept till the prayers and masses of the living 
set them free. But it would be a mistake to think 
that this opinion was at all an article of their faith ; 
they had only some uncertain notions about the 
cleansing which an imperfect soul was to undergo 
after death, before it could be received into para 
dise. They founded these notions upon the words 
of St. Paul, 1 Cor. iii. 13-15. There were some who 


thought that the fire there spoken of should be at 
the clay of judgment. " Then," says an old Saxon 
preacher, " our Lord cometh to doom all mankind, 
not in heaven, nor yet in earth, but in the midst of 
the two, in the welkin. Fire cometh before him, as 
the prophet saith (Ps. 1. 3), and shall burn up his 
enemies round about him. Fire burneth the earth, 
and all that is thereupon ; and cleanseth all faithful 
men of all sins that they have fore-let (left off), or 
amended, or begun to amend, and maketh them seven 
fold brighter than the sun." This was an old inter 
pretation of some of the fathers, and has little danger 
in t. But another was, that there was such a cleans 
ing fire prepared after death for all little sins which 
did not destroy the habit of faith, or make a man 
lead a life altogether irreligious. Of this last Bede 
speaks tenderly, because pope Gregory, who had 
been so great a benefactor 10 this country, had rather 
favoured it. " I do not dispute against it," he says ; 
" for possibly it may be true." We are not there 
fore to suppose, that he, or all the Saxon Christians 
of his time, heartily believed in such a purgatory, or 
thought the story of Imma and his wonderful masses 
as true as the gospel. It is plain, that Bede did not 
himself believe that alms or masses could change the 
state of the dead ; and indeed the story itself only 
goes to prove, that the prayers used at the mass 9 or 
Lord s supper, for all that were in trouble or adver 
sity, as we now pray, might profit the living. " God," 
says Bede, " has made heaven the seat of truth and 
happiness; he has given a place for inquiry and re 
pentance upon earth ; but misery and despair are 
the portions of hell." 

So also Alcuin, though he tells the above story 
of hermit Walter, did not himself believe that prayer 

9 Mass in the old English or Saxon language meant a feast 
the holy feast of the Lord s supper. 


couid help one who had died without repentance. 
" He that hideth his sins," he says in one of his 
sermons, " and is ashamed to make a healthy con 
fession, God is now a witness of them, and will here 
after punish them. Confession, with true penitence, 
is the angels medicine for our sins. God s mild- 
hearted pity helpeth them that now repent ; but in 
death there is no repentance." And Egbert, arch 
bishop of York, says of the practices which the 
story of Imma had led to : " He who fasteth for the 
dead, it is a comfort to himself, if it helpeth not the 
dead : God only knows whether his dead are helped 
by it" 

The common belief, however, was, in early Saxon 
times, that there were four places for the departed 
spirits ; as they had it taught them in the famous 
vision of Drythelm, the hermit of Melrose, which 
was very popular in old England, and may be read 
with some interest still. Drythelm was a religious 
man, a thane or gentleman, living with his wife and 
family at Cunningham, now within the Scottish bor 
der. One night, in a fit of long sickness, he ap 
peared to have breathed his last ; but at the dawn of 
day, to the great alarm of those who were weeping 
rornd his bed, he recovered and sat up. His wife 
was the only one who had courage to stay in the 
room ; but he comforted her by saying there was 
nothing to fear; he had indeed been restored from 
death to life, and must for the future live a very 
different man from what he had been before. He 
arose immediately, went to the village-church, and 
remained some time in prayer ; then returning home, 
divided his substance into three portions, one of which 
he gave to his wife, the second to his sons, and dis 
tributed the third in alms to the poor. In a few 
days afterwards he went to Melrose Abbey, took the 
habit of a monk, and retiring for the rest of his life 


to a hermitage given him by the abbot, kept himself 
to such hard discipline of mind and body, that it was 
plain, says Bede, even before you had heard his tale, 
that he had seen more than other folk. 

He told how, in the space of time while he lay 
as dead, he seemed to be guided by one of shining 
countenance and bright array towards the north 
eastern quarter of the sky. 10 Here first he saw a 
wide and hollow dell, without a bound to its length, 
in which the souls of men were tossed from burning 
flames on one side to driving snow and hail on the 
other. This, his guide afterwards told him, was 
a place for trying and cleansing the souls of those 
who had put off repentance ; but those, however, if 
they had repented in the hour of death, would at 
the day of judgment come to heaven s bliss ; and 
the prayers, alms, and fasting of their living friends, 
and especially the observing of masses, would help 
many out of that place before. Beyond this, he saw a 
place which, from the more dismal sights and sounds 
it offered to his senses, he knew to be the mouth 
of the bottomless pit. Here his guide for a time 
seemed to desert him ; but just as the dark spirits 
from the abyss were about to seize upon him, he 
saw at a distance a star advancing through the 
gloom, at whose approach they fled. It was soon 
seen to be his guide returning, who then led him to 
the south-east into a region of pure and lightsome 

10 It was the belief of many in the early Church, that the 
seat of Christ was in the east, and from thence he should come 
to judgment. See St. Matt xxiv. 27. " Let us think that 
Christ dyed in the este, and therefore let us pray into the este, 
that we may be of the nombre that he died for. Also let us 
think that he shall come out of the este to the doom." Old 
Kngl. Homily on Wake- days. On the contrary, they held that 
the realm of Satan was to the north, from Isa xiv. 13. Purga 
tory, therefore, to which Drythelm first approached, lay between 
the two. 


air. Here first he saw before him a long high wall, 
to which there was neither entrance nor window, 
nor any means of ascent; but with his guide he 
found himself at the top, in a wide and pleasant 
plain, full of spring-flowers, and inhabited by crowds 
of spirits bright and fair. This seems to have been 
what the Saxons called paradise, or the fields of rest, 
which they supposed to be situated between heaven 
and earth, and was a place for good men, who were 
yet not perfect enough to be admitted into heaven 
at once. He was then led on to another abode, 
round which a far brighter light was spread, and 
from which he heard the sound of the sweetest songs, 
and sweeter fragrance breathed from it than he had 
perceived in the pleasant fields before ; but just as 
he was hoping to enter into the joyful place, his 
guide stopped, and turning round led him back by 
the way by which he came. 

This strange vision, in which wild fancies and 
hurtful superstition have mixed with them some 
shadows of noble truth, had such an effect on poor 
Drythelrn, that he determined to put his aged body 
to such mortifications as in all likelihood must soon 
have worn out his life. His cell near Melrose was 
on the banks of the Tweed, into which river he 
would frequently go down, and, standing in the 
water up to his waist, or sometimes up to his neck, 
repeat his prayers or psalms as long as he could 
bear the cold ; and when he came out would never 
change his cold and wet garments, leaving them to 
be warmed and dried by the action of his body. 
Sometimes in winter, when the Tweed came down 
with broken particles of ice, he would still pursue 
the same rigours ; and if any of his friends were 
amazed at his endurance, his answer was, " I have 
seen a colder place and harder discipline than this." 

It is to be feared, therefore, that though some 


persons of better understanding did not put much 
value on such visions and tales as these, they had a 
great influence on the mind of the people. There 
was a great reverence felt for hermits, and wonderful 
things were told of them. Some were certainly men 
who joined active labours to their solitary life ; as the 
famous St. CUTHBERT, who, after living many years 
as abbot of Melrose, where he did not confine his 
labours to the walls of his monastery, but often spent 
days and weeks in preaching to the people in the 
hamlets and mountainous districts round, at length 
retired to live in the little solitary island of Fame, 
in the midst of the sea, off the coast of Northumber 
land. From this retreat he was drawn by king Egfrid, 
A.D. 684, to be made bishop of Lindisfarne. This 
office he undertook very unwillingly ; but when he 
was in it, discharged his duty like a man who was 
influenced by love to God and to his neighbour, till, 
finding his end was near, he went back to his cell to 
die. When he used to celebrate the holy commu 
nion, says Bede, he shewed his devotion, not by lift 
ing up his voice, but with earnest tears commending 
his vows to God. His life in his retirement was not 
without labour ; as he had to build first a cell for 
himself, then, with the help of other monks, a small 
monastery and church, to dig a well, as there was no 
fresh water there, and to dig and plough the land. 

It was not uncommon for some of those who had, 
like Cuthbert, done their part in the charge of mon 
asteries, to choose such retirement after labour. But 
there were others who seem to have been led only 
by a mistaken piety to afflict their souls, and shut 
themselves out from the community of their fellows. 
Walter of Flamborough Head chose out a cliff which 
overhung the sea ; a narrow path led to it, and here 
the spirits of the air seemed to come to tempt him, 
and gave him matter for such stories as St. Jerome 


complains of. Guthlac of Croyland, living on a her 
mitage in the midst of swamps and marshes, often 
thought he was summoned to battle with four fiends, 
when he saw the wisp-fires in the night. Etha of 
Crayke dwelt on a lonely hill surrounded with a deep 
forest, so thick, that, according to old tradition, a 
squirrel could hop from thence to York from bough 
to bough. " Here in the depth of the wilderness," 
says Alcuin, " he led an angelical life:" but an ange 
lical life is best described by good archbishop Leigh- 
ton, "a life spent between ascending in prayer to 
fetch blessings from above, and descending to scatter 
them among men." In this last part the life of a 
solitary must fail. And as it was well said by one 
of old. he who can live in solitude must be either a 
wild beast or a god ; it is not a life for man. It is 
therefore to be regretted that this life was in so 
much honour with our Christian forefathers. These 
half madmen, who dreamed dreams, and saw phan 
toms of their own imagination, 

distracted in their mind, 
Forsook by heaven, forsaking human kind, 

were accounted by the people as prophets almost 
inspired. Though there were some who may have 
gone out to the wilds and wastes with better purpose, 
to reclaim the rude people who were farthest from 
means of grace and unacquainted with useful arts, 
the sort of life they led was not good for themselves. 
The hermits, much more than the monasteries, were 
chargeable with promoting superstitions ; which 
among a people newly reclaimed from heathenism, 
and having been used to place great faith in charms 
aiid spells, and fables of the unseen world, were very 
hurtful to the progress, of purer truth. 



Such persons, who served God by holy living, industrious preaching, 
and religious dying, ought to have their names preserved in honour, 
and their holy doctrines and lives published and imitated. 


BRIAN, abbot of Canterbury, the fel 
low-labourer of Theodore, survived his 
friend for many years, dying A.D. 710, 
forty-one years" after his first arrival in 
England. * All this time he was em 
ployed in teaching the young Saxons, who were to 
fill high offices in the Church. Among his pupils 
were Bertwald, abbot of Reculver, \vho afterwards 
succeeded Theodore as archbishop of Canterbury, 
where he presided nearly forty years; Tobias, bishop 
of Rochester, a man of great learning and piety ; 
and Alcuin, afterwards abbot of Canterbury, who 
aided Bede in his History of the Church. 1 Ano 
ther was Aldhelm, one of the royal family of VVes- 

Alcuin of Canterbury is often confounded, by Warton 
and others, with Alcuin of York, who flourished about fifty 
years later. See Chapter IX. 


sex, afterwards abbot of Malmsbury and bishop of 
Sherborne, a man who conferred great benefits 
upon his countrymen the West Saxons, and who&e 
memory was honoured in a life of him written by 
the great king Alfred. 

ALDHELM was indeed a man who deserved this 
honour ; and it is a great pity we have not his life 
by Alfred now remaining to us, instead of such ao- 
counts as the monks of later ages have mixed jup 
with too many legendary tales. He was the founder 
of the abbey of Malmsbury, and of the town adjoin 
ing ; for many of our old English towns arose, like 
this, from the neighbourhood of the monastery. His 
own wealth and interest enabled him to endow it 
with a good estate, so large that it is said it would 
take a man a good part of the day, if he set out 
early in the morning, to go round the borders. Here 
he built two churches, one within the monastery, one 
without its walls, for the villagers or townspeople ; 
and at different periods of his life he built other 
churches in Wessex, particularly at Dorchester, Dor 
set. At this period the organ is said to have been 
first used in churches by Vitalian, the pope whom 
we have seen engaging himself in the mission of 
Theodore. And the first organ used in England 
seems to have been built under the directions of 
Aldhelm, who has left in his writings a description 
of it in verse, as " a mighty instrument with innu 
merable tones, blown with bellows, and enclosed in a 
gilded case." The instrument, however, which was 
most in use among the Saxons was the harp, as it was 
also the instrument of the ancient Britons and Irish, 
and of the Danes and other tribes of the North. The 
kings thought it a part of their state to entertain 
harpers at their court ; and before the introduction 
of Christianity and letters, those who sung to the 




harp, called scalds or minstrels, were the only histo 
rians of the past, singing songs of the warlike deeds 
of their forefathers. It was still, after the gospel was 
known, considered almost a necessary accomplish 
ment of the educated in the middle ranks of society 
to be ready to sing a song at an entertainment, when 
the harp was passed round. This custom and prac 
tice Aldhelm endeavoured to reform, or to adapt to 
the service of religion. When he resided as abbot 
at Malmsbury, finding that the half-barbarous coun 
try-people, who came to hear divine service, were in 
a great hurry to return home without paying much 
attention to the sermon, he used to go and take his 
seat, with harp in hand, on the bridge over the Avon, 
and offer to teach the art of singing. 
Here a crowd soon gathered round him; 
and after he had indulged the common 
taste by singing some trifling song, by 
degrees he drew them on to more se 
rious matter, and succeeded at last in 
making them sing David s psalms to 
David s strings. 
The good service of Aldhelm in this particular is 
now placed beyond a doubt by the late discovery of 
a Saxon version of the Psalms, which seems to have 
been preserved in an old French monastery, founded 
by John duke of Berri, at Bourges, A.D. 1405. This 
prince, who was brother to Charles V. king of France, 
gave the book with many others to his monastery, 
where it remained without being of much use to the 
French monks, who thought the old English letters 
were Hebrew. But somehow or other, it has escaped 
all the French revolutions since, and is now in the 
French king s library at Paris ; from which a copy 
has lately been taken and printed by the University 
of Oxford, A.D. 1835. 


The writer who made this copy of the Saxon 
Psalter was an Englishman, who seems to have lived 
about A.D. 1000. The first fifty of the Psalms are 
in prose, and the rest in verse. It is likely that the 
version is altogether Aldhelm s : at least there is no 
reason to doubt that the metrical part is his. In 
one or two places he seems to speak as if he aimed 
to suit the meaning of the psalm to the way of wor 
ship and customs observed in the monasteries. Thus, 
in the eighty-fourth psalm his version in modern 
English is nearly this : 

Lord, to me thy minsters are 

Courts of honour, passing fair ; 

And my spirit deems it well , 

There to be, and there to dwell : 

Heart and flesh would fain be there, 

Lord, thy life, thy love to share. 

There the sparrow speeds her home, 

And in time the turtles come, 

Safe their nestling young they rear, 

Lord of hosts, thine altars near ; 

Dear to them thy peace, but more 

To the souls who there adore. Ver. 1-5. 

Again, in the sixty-eighth : 

God the word of wisdom gave ; 

Preachers, who his voice have heard, 
Taught by him, in meekness brave, 

Speed the message of that word. 

Mighty King, with beauty crown d ! 

In his house the world s proud spoil. 
Oft in alms-deeds dealt around, 

Cheers the poor wayfarer s toil. 

If among his clerks you rest, 

Silver plumes shall you enfold, 
Fairer than the culver s breast. 

Brighter than her back of gold. Ver. 11-13. 

When Aldhelm wrote, there were no copies of 
the Hebrew Psalter in England, and in the last of 


these verses he seems to have mistaken a word in 
the Greek or Latin version of the Psalms ; but in 
many places, where the meaning is more plain, his 
verse is both true and full of good poetry, and it is 
every where marked by a spirit of devotion, break 
ing forth into words of thankful wonder and praise; 
and the mistakes which here and there occur in the 
sense, are not such as to have taught any false doc 
trine. The version of the Psalms, therefore, into 
their own language, and adapted to their own na 
tional melody to accompany the harp, was a most 
valuable gift to the Saxons. The words in the last 
verse seem here to invite the hearer to take up his 
abode among God s clerks in a monastery ; and, in 
the second to speak of the alms, or doles of food and 
clothing, which the charity of Christians in .those 
days gave away at the gates of religious houses. 
The words were prompted by the state of religious 
society at that time. 

Again, in some of the Psalms he speaks of the 
peace-stool, or stone seat, which was placed near the 
altar in some old English churches, as a place of 
refuge, to which, by king Alfred s laws, if an ac 
cused person fled, he was not to be disturbed for 
seven days. 2 The intention of the law was, to give 
a culprit opportunity to confess his crime to the 
bishop or clergyman, in which case the fine, com 
monly paid for all offences in Saxon times, was, miti 
gated. " God," says this version, Ps. ix. 9, " is the 
place of peace to the poor." " The Lord God is 
become my peace-stool ; my help is fast fixed and 
established in the Lord," Ps. xciv. 22. It can easily 
be imagined how this way of speaking was suited 
to the understanding and affections of the people 
among whom such a custom prevailed. 

2 An ancient peace-stool is still preserved in the minster of 

CH. VII.] ALDI1KLM. 13? 

It is a singular proof of the great eagerness for 
learning in these days, that A .dhelm had two kings 
of North Britain for his correspondents, Aldfrid the 
Wise, as he was called, king of Northumbria, and 
Arcivil, or Archibald, a king of the Scots ; to whom 
he sent some of his writings, and who had sufficient 
acquirements to value them. He also corresponded 
with learned men, not only in his own country, but 
abroad; particularly Cellan, an Irish monk, who 
lived a hermit s life in France. He was one of 
many Saxons who at this time visited Rome ; going 
both from a feeling of devotion, and in pursuit of 
knowledge. There he became a proficient in the 
study of the Roman law, and also gained a good 
acquaintance with the poetrj jf the Romans, so as 
to write verses with ease and elegance in their lan 
guage. This is an art now taught in almost every 
grammar-school ; but it is a great credit to Aldhelm, 
that he was the first Englishman who mastered it 
What is much more to his praise, is, that he em 
ployed his talents in works designed to set forth 
the glory of God ; and as his mind was enlarged by 
study and travel, he spoke with deeper feeling of 
the things in heaven and earth. It is impossible to 
give the simple force of his verse in modern English 
metre ; but the following passages may serve as a 
specimen of his turn of thought : 

Where the tempest wakes to wrath 

Many waters wide and far, 
On the ocean s dreadful path, 

Loud and high their voices are : 

Wondrous ways those waters move, 
Where the sea-streams swiftest flow ; 

But more wondrous far above, 
Holy Lord, thy glories shew. 

Ps. xciii. 3, 4. 

As the beacon -fire by night, 
That the host of Israel led ; 


Such the glory, fair and hright, 

Round the good man s dying bed : 
Tis a beacon bright and fair, 
Telling that the Lord is there. ... 

King Ina of Wessex being now at peace with 
Gerent, or Grant, the Welch king of Cornwall, a 
council of the Saxon Church was held about the year 
A.D. 700, in which Aldhelm was appointed to write 
a letter to that prince, to exhort him to adopt the 
Roman rule for Easter, and to conform to the other 
practices of the Saxon Christians. It appears from 
his letter, that the Welch of South Wales at this time 
would neither pray in the same church, nor eat at 
the same table with a Saxon ; they would throw the 
food which a Saxon had cooked to the dogs, and 
rinse the cups which a Saxon had used with sand 
or ashes, before they would drink out of them : if a 
Saxon went to sojourn among them, they put him to 
a penance or quarantine of forty days, before they 
would shew him any kindness or act of good neigh 
bourhood. Of this Aldhelm complained, as a man 
of peace and charity might complain ; but he seems 
to have laid too much stress on some trifling differ 
ences, which he pressed the Welch clergy to adopt, 
particularly a mode of shaving the head, in imitation 
of our Saviour s crown of thorns, which they called 
St. Peter s tonsure. He seems also to have thought 
that there was something of necessity laid upon 
all Christians to follow the statutes of the Church 
founded by St. Peter. He acknowledges that the 
Welch Christians at this time held all the doctrines 
of the catholic faith, but tells them their want of 
charity will destroy the benefit they would otherwise 
receive from it; " for a true faith and brotherly 
love," he says, " always go hand in hand." This is 
true ; but the Welch Church might justly have an 
swered, It is for you, Saxons, who came last into a 

en. vii.] KIXG INA S LAWS. 129 

country where there was an independent Christian 
Church, rather, by the rule of charity, to conform 
to us ; but if not, at least not to require from us 
any thing more than the profession of that catholic 
faith, which, as it is sufficient for salvation, should 
be enough to secure to all fellow-Christians commu 
nion with each other. Aldhelm, however, though his 
arguments were not all sound, wrote with a spirit of 
kindness; and peace was preserved between Ina and 
Grant as long as Aldhelm was alive. He died A.D. 
709, in the discharge of his duty, as he was visiting 
his diocese. Finding a mortal stroke upon him, he 
caused his attendants to remove him into the nearest 
village-church a little wooden church at Doulting, 
near Shepton-Mallet in Somersetshire, where, com 
mending his soul to God, he tranquilly breathed his 

In the early wars between the Saxons and the 
Welch, while the Saxons were yet pagans, it is to 
be feared that the prisoners whom they took were 
all made slaves ; but now the introduction of Chris 
tianity made a difference. In the laws of king Ina, 
we find the Welch in Somerset and Devonshire were 
allowed to keep possession of their lands, and to live 
as the king s subjects like the Saxons. Accordingly, 
these districts, as well as Cornwall, continued long 
after to be called the Welch districts : 8 only, a wise 
precaution was now taken to prevent them, under a 
heavy fine, from entering into a deadly feud with an 
Englishman ; for there would be danger that a pri 
vate war, or duel, would lead to a general discord 
between the two nations. It was the rude warlike 
disposition of the old Saxons, which made this kind 
01 private war very common ; and their laws, long 

1 King Alfred s Will, about A.D. 880. 


after the introduction of Christianity, did not entirely 
put it down, appointing no other punishment, when 
a man was slain in a quarrel, than that the slayer 
should pay a fine to the king, and another to the 
nearest relations of the slain. If the man was unable 
to pay this, or any other fine, for an offence, he lost 
his freedom. The slaves, however, among the Saxons, 
were not, as among the old Greeks and Romans, 
made to dwell under one roof, or to work in gangs : 
every slave had a cottage to himself on his master s 
estate, and tilled a portion of land, for which he paid 
rent, commonly in kind, furnishing his master with a 
given quantity of wheat or other grain, poultry, but 
ter, and eggs; or, if he had charge of pasture, with 
oxen or sheep. His slavery consisted in his not 
being able to quit his occupation like a free tenant: 
he was a slave to the soil where he laboured. Thus, 
when landlords gave their slaves liberty, the cere 
mony was, to take them to a place where four roads 
met, and bid them go where they pleased : but 
Bertwald, archbishop of Canterbury, to give more 
solemnity to this ceremony, at a synod held at Berk- 
hamstead, A.D. 697, directed that the master should 
bring his slave to church, and declare his freedom 
before the altar. 

In these LAWS OF KING INA, which, he says in 
the preamble, were drawn up with the ad^ ice and 
instruction of Hedda, bishop of Winchester, and 
Erconwald, bishop of London, as well as his earls 
and wise counsellors, there are several marks be 
sides the good policy shewn towards his Welch sub 
jects of improvements suggested by Christianity. 
If a master made a slave to work on Sunday, the 
slave was to have his liberty, and the master to be 
fined. If he worked by his own choice, he was to 
pay a fine himself, or to be whipped. A free labourer 


was to pay a heavier fine, or to lose his liberty. A 
priest who broke this law was to incur a double 
penalty. So strictly did these Christian legislators 
provide for the observance of the Lord s day. If a 
slave had committed some offence, for which he in 
curred a whipping, and ran for refuge to a church, 
he was to be forgiven. A woman, who took up and 
nursed a child which had been exposed, was to re 
ceive an increasing allowance of public money from 
year to year, till the child grew up. It would seem 
from this, that it was not uncommon for a poor pagan 
mother to forsake her child ; as is still the case in 
countries where paganism prevails. It had been also 
the custom of the old Saxons, in their rude law, if a 
man was convicted of theft, to condemn his whole 
family to slavery with him ; so that, as one of their 
early Christian lawgivers speaks of it, " the child 
that lay in the cradle, and had never bitten meat, 
was made as much answerable as if it had known all 
that was done." The laws of Ina forbade that any 
child, under ten years of age, should be held account 
able ; and enacted, what was afterwards repeated in 
the laws of later kings, that the wife should not be 
made to share her husband s punishment, unless it 
could be proved that she had locked up the stolen 
property in some private cupboard or store-place of 
her own. 4 Another law speaks of one of those prac 
tices, embittering the lot of slavery, to which allusion 
has already been made in the story of St. Bavon, 5 and 
which was not entirely abolished in England before 
the Norman Conquest : " If any man sell his own 
countryman, be he slave or free, although he be guilty 
of some crime, and send him beyond sea, he shall pay 

4 It appears that every good Saxon housewife, in ordinary 
life, had three locks and keys under her charge ; that of hei 
store-room or closet, her linen-chest, and her money-box. 

* See p. 27. 


the value of his life, and make deep amends to God." 
There were pirates who visited the coast, and mer 
chants, as they were called, at London, Bristol, and 
other places, who were ready to give a price for their 
fellow-men, to carry them to a slave-market abroad. 
In the time of paganism this traffic was allowed; and 
it was a common thing for the earls, or thanes, to 
carry the prisoners they had taken in their little wars 
to London, to sell them to some Frieslander or Ita 
lian, and ship them off to foreign climes. It was now 
forbidden, under a heavy penalty ; but as long as 
slavery continued, there would often be a temptation 
to an oppressive master to get rid of a troublesome 
slave, or such as overburdened his land, by this kind 
of transportation. It is likely also, that, as the law 
above speaks of one who had been guilty of some 
crime, the mode of turning culprits into land-slaves 
was calculated to fill the country with thieves and 
depredators, whom it would be inconvenient for a 
landlord to keep as tenants. A.S to the last clause 
of it, which made it necessary for the offender to do 
penance, it was a piece of godly discipline : it was fit 
that, for such an offence, he should forfeit his right 
to Christian communion; and we may well admire 
the spirit of our forefathers, who took such pains to 
make Christianity a part and parcel of the law of 
the land. 

These laws also enact that every child should 
be brought to be baptised within thirty days after 
its birth, under penalty of forfeiting its inheritance. 
And godfathers and godmothers appear to have con 
sidered the tie which they contracted for the child 
at the font to put them in the place of natural rela 
tions. Thus earl Osric, a nobleman of Wessex, in 
punishing some traitors who had slain king Cyne- 
wolf, A-D. 784s spared the life of one who was his 
godson, though he had been wounded by him in 


battle. A more remarkable instance of this feeling 


was shewn afterwards by king Alfred, when in his 
Danish wars having taken prisoners the two sons of 
Hasten the Dane, A.D. 894, he immediately set them 
free, to be restored to their father without ransom, 
because he had stood godfather to one, and an earl 
of his court to the other. These were feelings which 
may put to shame an age when this sacred tie is so 
near to be forgotten. 

While the kingdom of Wessex was thus learning 
to put on the yoke of Christ in the south of England, 
the labours of other eminent Christians advanced 
the knowledge of the truth still more effectually in 
the north. Among these were ACCA, bishop of 
Hexham, and the Venerable BEDE. Acca was the 
builder of a noble church at Hexham, which he or 
namented with many precious gifts; and there he 
also collected a valuable library of books, particu 
larly of lives of saints and martyrs who had served 
God by holy living and dying. He was also, like 
Aldhelm, an expert rm dcian, and took great pains 
in providing for this part of the public service by 
securing good teachers for his choir. It must be 
observed, that the hymns and prayers commonly 
used in the churches of the Saxons were in the 
Latin language, as was taught by the first mission 
aries from Rome ; but often in the daily service 
they chanted the Lord s Prayer, the Creed, and 
many portions of the Psalms, in their own tongue. 
And it seems, from some copies of their daily ser 
vice now remaining, that these portions were taken 
from Aldhelm s version. Every priest also was en 
joined to teach the people the Creed and the Lord s 
Prayer in English. It is to be regretted that the 
prayers weie not altogether in the language of the 
people, who must have listened to them at best in 
the state of mind described by St. Paul, li their 


spirit might have prayed, but their understanding 
was unfruitful." Afterwards this evil increased, as 
the old Saxon or English language grew out of use 
in the Norman times, and nothing but the Latin re 
mained. Another custom, vhich Acca and others 
zealously introduced into their churches, was the 
adorning of the side-walls with little tabernacles or 
shrines, arching over altars in honour of apostles 
and martyrs ; at which the people often knelt in 
prayer, and on which were placed little caskets con 
taining relics of such holy persons, to whom they 
either did or were imagined to belong. This prac 
tice had been attempted in the time of St. Ambrose, 
A.D. 370-390; when the Roman emperor Theodo- 
sius made a law to forbid persons to rob graves 
under pretence of removing the bones of martyrs ; 
advising them rather to build churches over their 
burial-places, and to leave the remains undisturbed. 
Afterwards, however, this superstition gained ground ; 
and the Saxons, who had learnt it from pope Gre 
gory s missionaries, soon had many stories prevalent 
about miracles shewn at the place wher^ holy men 
had died, or where their relics were deposited. It 
was also a dangerous practice to allow any altars in 
churches beside that which was set apart for the 
only Christian sacrifice. This custom was early re 
ceived among the Saxons ; and in A.D. 780, when 
archbishop Albert consecrated a new and spacious 
church at York, it contained no fewer than thirty 
altars. In other respects, Acca did good service in 
adorning the holy place with candlesticks and holy 
vessels, and in the pains he took to promote church- 
music, which by his instructions became very general 
in the north. 

It may perhaps serve to give the English reader a 
notion of the psalmody of the Anglo-Saxon Church, 
if we here insert a nearly literal rendering of the 


Apostles Creed from the ancient measure in which 
it was sung to the harp in their church-service: 

Father of unchanging might, 

Set above the welkin s height. 

Who the unsullied tracts of air 

Didst in their own space prepare, 

And the solid earth more fast 

With its deep foundations cast, 

Thee, the Everlasting One, 

With believing heart I own. 

Life itself from Thee had birth, 

Lord of angels, King of earth; 

Thou the ocean s mighty deep 

in its pathless caves dost keep ; 

And the countless stars that glow, 

Thou their power and names dost know. 

And with faith assur d I own, 
Lord, thy true and only Son, 
King of might to heal and save ; 
Whom thy pitying mercy gave 
Hither for our belp to come 
From the blissful angels home. 
Gabriel, on thine errand sent, 
Through the crystal firmament 
Glancing with the speed of thought. 
Thy behest to Mary brought. 
She, the virgin pure and blest, 
Freely bowed to thy behest, 
And the Father s wondrous pow r 
Prais d in that rejoicing hour. 
There no earth-born lust had room : 
Spotless was that maiden s womb, 
As a casket meet to bear, 
Brightest gem, heav n s first-born heir. 
But such bliss as angels know 
Thy pure Spirit did bestow ; 
And the maid and mother mild 
Gave to earth her heaven-born child, 
Born as man, our needs to prove, 
Maker of the hosts above ! 
Heavenly comfort at his birth 
Dawn d upon the sons of earth 


And by David s lowly town 
Angels brought glad tidings dowo, 
That the Healer of all woe 
Sojourn d now with men below. 

Then , when under men of Rome 
Pilate held the power to doom, 
Our dear Lord gave up his breath, 
Bore the bitter throes of death 
On the rood as sinners die, 
King of endless majesty ! 
Sadly Joseph made his gravf 
In his own sepulchral cave : 
But his soul was gone to quell 
Foes that held the spoil of hell 
In the fiery cells that keep 
Spirits long imprison d deep, 
Whom his summons call d away 
To their home in upper day. 6 

Then, when came the third day s 
Rose again the Lord of might ; 
Freshly from his clay-cold bed, 
King of light and life he sped 
Forty days his followers true 
To his heavenly lore he drew 
Holy rune i 1 unfolding, ne er 
Heard before by mortal ear ; 
Till his hour to reign was come, 
And he sought his glorious home : 
But his promise left to man, 
From the hour that reign began, 
That no more distraught with dread 
Faithful men his ways should tread ; 

6 It seems to have been the belief of some of the early 
Saxon Christians, that the soul of our blessed Saviour descended 
into the place of torments ; (Calvin and Bishop Latimer had 
this belief;) and that he set free from thence the souls of Adam 
and Eve and others, who were held captives by Satan till that 
time. This was called in early times, The Harrowing of Hell. 
It waa the belief of Csedmon, who describes it in his Para 
phrase, ii 8 ; and it appears to have been the belief of the 
author of this version of the Creed. 

Runes, mysteries : alluding to Acts i. 3. 


But with patience standing fast, 
Of his free deliverance taste. 

I the Spirit of all grace 
With unswerving faith embrace, 
"Whom the tongues of nations own, 
"With the Father and the Son, 
Everlasting God. Though three 
Named by name, yet one they be ; 
One the Godhead, one alone, 
Whom in differing names we own. 
Faith receives the mystery, 
Yielding truth the victory. 
Wheresoe er the world is spread, 
Lord, thy glory-gifts are shed, 
To thy saints in wonders shewn ; 
And eternal is thy throne. 

Furthermore, I keep and hold, 
Ever-loved of God, the fold 
Of his faithful ones, that are 
Ever the good Shepherd s care, 
That true Church, that to heaven s King 
Doth accordant praises sing : 
And the fellowship bestow d 
To the saints on earth s abode, 
With the souls that dwell with God. 

Free forgiveness for each sin 
Penitent I hope to win : 
And with faith assured, I trust 
That this flesh, return d to dust, 
Shall arise, with all the dead, 
At the day of doom and dread ; 
When our endless state shall be, 
Judge of all men, fix d by Thee, 
As on earth our works are still 
Measured by our Maker s will. 8 

Such was probably in substance the creed which 
was sung in the choirs at Malmsbury and Hexhani 
in the seventh century. But the most eminent 
Christian teacher of the time was the VENERABLE 

8 Elstob s Anglo-Saxon Hours, p. 21. 



BEDE, to whom bishop Acca owes all the knowledge 
we have of his life and labours, and without whom 
the English Church would be left with little inform 
ation as to its early history. 

Bede was born about the year of our Lord 671, 
on the domain of the monasteries of Wearmouth and 
Jarrow; and at the age of seven, being, as it seems, 
an orphan, was entrusted by his nearest relations to 
the care of the abbot Biscop to be educated. From 
that time he never left the monastery; but as he 
grew up, employed all his time in studying the Scrip 
tures, observing the rule of discipline of the religious 
house, and the daily service of psalmody in the 
church: "for," he says, "I found it delightful 
always either to learn, to teach, or to write." When 
he was aged eighteen he was ordained a deacon, 
and at thirty a priest, by John, bishop of York, first 
founder of the minster at Beverley. At the request 
of his friend Acca, he undertook to write a large 
commentary on the greater part of the books of 
Scripture, selected from the writings of the Chris- 
tiau fathers, and with many additions of his own a 

CH. VII.] BEDE. 149 

work of great labour. and value. Besides this, he 
wrote many treatises, and letters to friends, on reli 
gious and moral subjects, on the nature of the world, 
on the art of calculating time, and on metre ; a great 
number of sermons or homilies ; and a history of 
the Church of England from the mission of Gregory 
to his own time, from which the greater part of the 
information contained in the foregoing pages has 
been extracted. 

At the age of sixty-three, A.D. 735, this faithful 
servant of God received his summons to a better 
world. He was seized at the latter end of March, 
about a fortnight before Easter, with a shortness of 
breath, unaccompanied by other pain, but which he 
perceived to have in it the symptoms of mortal dis 
ease. He lived on till the eve of Ascension-day, 
May 26, in continual piayers and thanksgivings, still 
giving daily instructions to his pupils, and discours 
ing with them ; and at night, when his disorder al 
lowed him but short intervals of rest, watched only 
to utter psalms of praise. He had often on his 
tongue the words of St. Paul, " It is a fearful thing 
to fall into the hands of the living God ;" and other 
texts of Scripture, by which he admonished his 
hearers to awake from the sleep of the soul, by 
thinking beforehand of their last hour. To the same 
purpose he repeated some solemn verses in the old 
Saxon language: 

Ere the pilgrim soul go forth 

On its journey far and lone, 
Who is he, that yet on earth 

All his needful part hath done ? 

Who foreweighs the joy or scathe 
That his parted ghost shall know, 

Endless, when the day of death 
Seals his doom for weal or woe ? 

He also repeated some of the collects used in the? 

o i 


service of the Church, particularly that of which 
he was reminded by the holy season of the Lord s 
ascension : " O King of glory, Lord of might, who 
didst this day ascend in triumph above all the hea 
vens ; we beseech thee, leave us not orphans, but 
send to us the promise of the Father, the Spirit of 
truth. Praised be thy name!" When he came to 
the words, " leave us not orphans," he burst into 
tears, remembering perhaps how the God of the 
fatherless had been his protector from his youth, 
and continued for some time weeping and silently 
pouring out his heart to his heavenly Benefactor; 
while all who were with him mingled their tears 
with his. Often he said with thankfulness, " God 
scourgeth every son whom he receiveth ;" and spoke 
with gladness of the mercy that was shewn him in 
the infirmity which he was now counted worthy to 
suffer. Of his approaching departure he said, in 
the words of St. Ambrose, " I have not so lived as 
that I should be unwilling to live longer among 
you ; but neither do I fer to die, for we have a 
merciful God." 

All the time of his sickness he was still employed 
upon two works ; one, a stt of extracts from the 
writings of Isidore, bishop of Seville, which he 
thought valuable, but requiring selection, and "I 
do not wish my boys," he said, meaning his pupils, 
" to be employed after my death in reading what is 
unprofitable;" the other, a translation of the Gospel 
of St. John into the old English or Saxon language. 
On Tuesday before Ascension-day his breathing 
became more difficult, and his feet began slightly 
to swell ; yet he continued all day to teach and dic 
tate to his pupils with his usual cheerfulness, saying 
sometimes, " Learn your best to-day ; for I know 
not how long I may last, or how soon my Maker 
may call me away." His pupils perceived that he 

CH. VII.] BHDE. 151 

foresaw his end approaching. He lay down to rest 
iViat night, but passed it without sleep, in prayer and 

At the dawn of the next day, he called his young 
companions, and bade them lose no time in writing 
the rest of the task he had begun with them. So 
they continued employed till nine o clock, when, as 
the office of the day required, they went in proces 
sion with the relics of the saints. One, however, 
remained with him ; but fearing it might be too 
much for his weakness, he said, " There is still, my 
dear master, one chapter wanting to complete the 
translation ; but I must not ask you to dictate any 
more." " Nay," said Bede, " it is easy to me. Take 
your pen and write ; only lose no time." He did so, 
and the work was nearly finished ; when, about three 
o clock in the afternoon Bede called to Cuthbert, 
afterwards abbot of Jariow, who wrote the account 
of his death : " I have," said he, " in my little private 
chest some few valuables, some pepper, frankincense, 
and a few ecarfs ; 9 run speedily, and bring the priests 
of our monastery to me, that I may distribute to them 
such little gifts as God has put it into m^ power to 
give." While he did so, he begged them to offer 
masses for him, and to remember him in their 
prayers ; which they readily promised. " It is now 
time," he said, " that I should return to Him who 
created me. I have lived long, and my merciful 
Judge has well provided for me the kind of life I 
have led. I feel the hour of my freedom is at hand, 
and I desire to be released and to be with Christ." 
Thus he passed the time in peace and holy joy till 
the evening. The youth, who had before attended 
him, then wishing to liave the work completed, once 

9 Pepper, being then a scarce foreign produce, was a valu 
able spice. A silken scarf, or handkerchief, in old English 
times was a common gift of affection and friendship. 


more reminded him that the last sentence still re 
mained. " Write quickly, then," said Bede, and 
gave him the closing words. " It is now finished," 
said the youth, when he had set them down. "You 
say well," replied Bede, "it is finished! Support 
my head between thy hands, and let me, while I sit, 
still look towards the holy place in which I used to 
pray, that though I can no longer kneel, I may still 
call upon my Father." Shortly afterwards he sunk 
from his seat to the floor of his cell, and uttering 
his last hymn of praise, "Glory be to the Father, 
and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," when he 
had named the name of the Blessed Spirit he 
breathed away his gentle soul. 

No man had a purer love of holiness, or lived 
in more entire dependence upon divine grace, than 
Bede. "Who," said he, "shall dare to boast of 
the power of nature, and the freedom of the will to 
good? If I had not the words of the apostle to 
teach me, my own roving thoughts might warn me, 
that the soul s motions are not free. How often, 
when I have desired and striven earnestly to fix my 
mind in prayer, have I not been able! Yet, if the 
soul were free, it would be my choice to keep it 
intently fixed in the time of prayer, just as I can 
with ease place my body in the place and in the 
posture in which prayer is made." 

W T ith regard to his desire that prayers should be 
said for him and masses offered after he was dead, 
it is plain, that he did not ask for them in expecta 
tion that they would help his soul out of purgatory, 
for he died in joyful confidence that his labours had 
been accepted, and that he should be soon with 
Christ. He believed that in the holy communion it 
was fit that a remembrance should be made of the 
faithful departed, and that God should be entreated 
to keep them, as it is his will, in mercy and peace 

TH. VII. ] 


until the resurrection of the last day. It were well 
if such a prayer had never been per v erted to danger 
ous superstitions, and if it had been thus retained, 
as it was in the first communion-service put forth 
for the use of the English Church alter the Reform 
ation, the first prayer-book in king Edward VI. s 

The name of Bede ha^ been pmtivtd, with the 
honour which he so worthily obtained in his own 
days, through many later generations. 
His chair, an old massive oaken seat, 
is still shewn at Jarrow. His bones 
were conveyed long afterwards to 
Durham, and a princely Norman bi 
shop, Hugh Pudsey, nephew of King 
Stephen, enclosed them in a casket of 
gold and silver in that part of the 
cathedral called the Galilee, which 
was erected by him. A plain stone now lies ove? 
the place with the following inscription : 

Here rest the bones of Venerable Cede. 



He, who holds the heaven in ward, 
Holy spirits had prepar d, 
Who to rebels wild and stern 
Gave the lore of truth to learn. 

C/EDMOM, { 50. 

after the gospel had been re 
ceived by the Anglo-Saxons, the zeal 
of many devoted men among them was 
shewn in undertaking missions to the 
tribes of the same race, and who spoke 
c% language like their own, on the continent of Eu 
rope. Wilfrid, bishop of York, before mentioned, 
was the first who attempted this, when on one of 
his voyages towards Rome he was driven by a storm 
to the coast of Friesland. It was the character of 
Wilfrid s life, that he did the best service to Christi 
anity when he was farthest from home; "like the 
nightingales," says Thomas Fuller, " that sing the 
sweetest when farthest from their nests." Finding 
a hospitable welcome with the king of that country, 
lie stayed through the winter preaching Christ to 
them, and with such success that multitudes came 
to him to ask at his hands the sacrament of baptism. 
A few years later, Egbert, a Saxon hermit of 
great piety, was prepared to take a missionary voy- 


age to Friesland ; but being discouraged by a vision, 
he recommended the enterprise to another hermit, his 
friend Wicbert, who, after passing two years among 
the pagan people, finding none willing to hear or in 
quire after the truth, returned to his cell. At this 
time Pepin, duke of the Franks, great grandfather 
of Charlemagne, had just conquered Friesland, when 
a party of twelve English missionaries led by WIL- 
BRORD, a priest educated at the monastery of Ripon, 
presented themselves at his court. Pepin protected 
them; and as they were thus enabled to preach with 
out annoyance from the enemies of their faith, they 
soon turned many from their idolatry. When Pepin 
himself had received baptism from the hands of Wil- 
brord, he took a journey, by that prince s advice, to 
Rome, to consult pope Sergius on the best way of 
continuing the work of his mission. By him lie was 
consecrated bishop of the Frieslanders ; and Charles 
Martel, the grandfather of Charlemagne, afterwards 
fixed his see at Utrecht, tor forty-six years this 
zealous Englishman with his companions laboured 
unceasingly in the work of the gospel, and planted 
churches in most of the provinces bordering on the 
lower part of the course of the Rhine. As nrst 
bishop of this territory, Wilbrord also compiled a 
set of canons or laws" for the government of his 
Church, and provided for its good instruction by 
founding schools and monasteries, and encouraging 
preachers both by precept and example. He seems 
never to have returned to England, but continued tc 
hold intercourse by letters with his friends in the 
country, from which he had voluntarily become an 
exile for the sake of Christ particularly with Acca, 
bishop of Hexham, who visited him on one occasion, 
as he took a voyage from Northumberland to Rome. 
His valuable writings have been lost; but his name 
was long honoured both in England and abroad. 


lie died at the advanced age of eighty-one, having 
now the title of archbishop of Utrecht, and leaving 
Christianity well established round him, about A.D 

The example of this eminent man was soon fol 
lowed by other English Saxons. Two priests, who 
had also " for the love of a heavenly kingdom" gone 
to live in banishment in Ireland, went out on a 
mission to Saxony, to try what success they might 
find with the inhabitants, who were originally of the 
same race with the majority of the people of Eng 
land. These were both of one name, Hewald or 
Ewald, a name still remaining in Germany ; but to 
distinguish them from each other, one was called, 
from the colour of his hair, the black Ewald, the 
other, the white or fair. They went among the 
i>agan people without fear or thought of disguising 
heir holy errand; and were heard and seen daily 
offering prayers, chanting psalms, and celebrating 
the Christian sacrifice on a small communion-table, 
which with holy vessels they carried on a sumpter- 
horse with them. Thus they sought out the earl or 
chief of the province, which was governed without 
a king; but the pagans, seeing that their aim was 
to bring in a new religion, and not being friendly 
to such a change, seized them before they could 
accomplish their mission, and put them to a cruel 
death, the white Ewald being shortly released by a 
sword-stroke, but his comrade mangled limb by limb 
and thrown into the Rhine. Their martyrdom took 
place near Cologne, where they were afterwards 
snterred, their bodies being recovered by some of 
their^fompanions, on the third of October, A.D. 695. 
\Yhile Wilbrord was absent on one of his two 
journeys to Rome, the English missionaries in Fries- 
land !ind sent one of their number, Switlihert, to 
be consecrated bishop bv archbishop Theodore fo 


a mission into Prussia ; but on his arrival, finding 
Theodore dead, and his successor not yet appointed, 
he obtained consecration from Wilfrid, who was then 
residing at Leicester among the Mercians. Swith- 
bert had good success in preaching among the Prus 
sians; but they being shortly afterwards driven out 
of their province by the old Saxons, his flock was 
scattered, and the bishop retired to close his life in 
a small monastery, which Pepin gave him leave to 
build upon an island in the Rhine. 

A still more eminent missionary followed the 
steps of these good men in the next generation. 
This was WINFRID, a native of Crediton in De 
vonshire, who, after passing his younger days at 
the monastery of Exeter, was advised by the abbot 
Winbert, who had the charge of his education, to 
enter into holy orders. He was ordained priest, 
and devoted himself diligently to preaching and the 
instruction of his countrymen ; but in the midst of 
the esteem and success with which he laboured at 
home, he conceived a strong desire to become a 
partaker of the labours of the aged Wilbrord, whom 
he joined at Utrecht about the year A.D. 716. He 
then returned for a short time to England, but 
-efused the offer of the abbacy of his own monas 
tery, which was then vacant, and again set out for 
Hesse and Friesland, with recommendatory letters 
from Daniel, bishop of Winchester, A.D. 718. After 
enduring many great hardships and dangers with 
his English companions, Winfrid went to Rome, 
A.D. 723, and was consecrated by pope Gregory II. 
as missionary bishop of the Germans eastward of 
the Rhine. "This pope gave him the Italian name 
of Boniface, as pope Sergius had before given to 
Wilbrord the name of Clement, and as we have 
seen the Italian missionaries in England give a new 
name to the Saxons whom they ordained as bishops. 


Great numbers of missionaries now came to join him 
from England, and numbers of the people of the 
provinces of the upper Rhine were converted and 
baptised. After a long and honourable course of 
missionary labours, having received the dignity of 
archbishop of Mayence, he suffered martyrdom with 
several of his clergy in a tumult of the pagans near 
Dockum, in East Friesland, A.D. 755. 1 

From several letters of this remarkable man, 
which the respect of his disciples has preserved to us, 
we are able to form some notion of his Christian 
zeal, and the active character of his life. Among 
the earliest is one addressed in common to the 
bishops and clergy of the English Church, asking 
their united prayers for the success of his mission. 
It might almost serve as a form and model for a 
missionary prayer : " Knowing my own littleness," 
he says, " I am the more earnest to implore you 
with the tenderness of brotherly love to remember 
me in your prayers ; that I may be delivered from 
the snares of the fowler, and from violent and wicked 
men ; and that the word of God may have free course, 
and be glorified. Pray, with a sense of pity for their 
need, for those Saxons who are yet pagans ; that 
God and our Lord Jesus Christ, who will have all 
men to be saved, and to come to the knowledge ot 
the truth, may turn their hearts to the Catholic faith, 
that they may recover themselves from the M iles of 
the devil, by which they are held captive, and be 
numbered with the children of the Church, our holy 
mother. You would compassionate them, if you 
heard them say, as they often do to me, We are 
all of one blood and one bone : and remember, how 
soon man goeth the way of all the earth, and that 
none in the grave confess unto the Lord, death can- 

1 An excellent account of his missionary life will be found 
in Mr. Palmer s Ecclesiasticai History, chap xiii. pp. 1414i, 


not celebrate him." Know that in tins prayer of mine 
I have received the encouragement, consent, and 
blessing of two successive bishops of the Roman 
Church. Deal therefore so with my request, that 
your crowns of reward may grow bright and in 
crease in the angels court above ; and as the com 
munion of your love shall flourish and advance in 
Christ, may the Almighty Creator keep and pre 
serve it evermore." Not less striking is another 
letter, written in his old age to his friend Daniel, 
asking for a copy of the six first books of the pro 
phets, which his master, Winbert, had left him as a 
legacy at his death. It was written, as most Eng 
lish manuscripts of the Saxon period were, in a clear 
and legible character ; and he could find none like 
it beyond sea. His eyes were now growing dim, 
and he could not well read small contracted letters ; 
but, like other aged devout Christians, he took great 
delight in the prophetic books of holy Scripture. 
"If God shall inspire your heart to do me this kind 
ness," he says, " you cannot send me a greater com 
fort for my age." 

All the time that he was abroad he took a lively 
interest in the welfare of his native country and the 
good of the English Church, frequently writing to 
the Saxon princes and bishops, and giving and re 
ceiving advice on the affairs of Christianity in Eng 
land and beyond sea. He did not spare to admonish 
the great and powerful, whose lives or conduct ne 
thought a hindrance to the cause of truth. Thus, 
in a letter to Ethelbald, king of Mercia, after com 
mending his charity to the poor, his defending the 
widow s cause, and the justice of his government, he 
sharply reproves him for the luxury and debauchery 
of his private life, and bids him to remember how 
such vices in king Roderick of Spain had lately 
brought down the vengeance of God upon the 


Christian people of that country, 2 whose flourishing 
churches were now trodden under foot by the Sara 
cens. The letter is written in a strain of earnest 
affection, reminding him how even the old pagan 
Saxons detested such crimes as he was charged \vith, 
often punishing adulterers and unchaste persons by 
burning or scourging; "how shameful then in one 
whom God has adopted for his son, and the Church 
our holy mother borne anew to a spiritual life in 
baptism !" Then pointing to the worldly deceits 
by which the young and prosperous are too easily 
beguiled, he repeats many texts of holy Scripture 
against the vanity of life, and ends with the solemn 
words, " What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain 
the whole world, and lose his own soul !" 

To gain a favourable hearing for this letter Win- 
frid sent with it another to announce a present of 
some falcons, used in the old English sport of hawk 
ing, of a breed not easily procured in England; 
and he desires Herefrid, the king s chaplain, to take 
a convenient time to read the letter of reproof to 
Ethelbald, translating it from Latin into his native 
tongue. The king, who knew the worth of his cha 
racter, took his admonition patiently, and at length 
reformed his dissolute life. 

Ethelbert II., king of Kent, was another of Win- 
frid s correspondents, who sent him friendly gifts, and 
helped him in the expenses of his foreign mission. 
This worthy prince seems to have been fond of the 
same field sport of hawking, common to most old 
English gentlemen ; for he desires Winfrid to send 
him some German hawks, which he heard were bet 
ter trained, or more powerful than those which he 

* The wrong done by king Roderick to the daughter of 
count Julian led that nobleman to invite the Moors or Saracens 
i-ito Spain, where they had pained possession of the best pait 
of the country a few years before Winfrid wrote, A.D. 711. 


Jiad in Kent, to bring down herons to the ground. 
But the occasion of a letter, which is still preserved, 
was his hearing from a religious lady at Rome that 
Winfrid prayed for him. " It is a great comfort to 
me," he says, " to know this ; and it would add much 
to my satisfaction to receive a letter or a messenger 
from vou." He sends him as a remembrance a small 
silver" cup inlaid with gold. "The days," he says, 
"are evil ; therefore pray for me as long as you hear 
that I am in this mortal flesh ; and after my death, if 
vou survive me, remember me still in your prayers." 
Among the bishops with whom Winfrid kept up 
A friendly intercourse by letters, was Cuthbert, arch 
bishop of Canterbury, to whom he sent, A.D. 745, 
some canons of a synod lately held at Augsburg, 
giving more authority to the bishop of Rome over 
the Churches in that part of the country than was 
allowed him in the English Church. Cuthbert, who 
was a wise and prudent prelate, did not imitate his 
example in binding himself to obey in all things the 
orders of St. Peter, as they called the pope s com 
mands ; but at a synod held at Cliff s -hoe, near 
Rochester, A.D. 747," he and the other English bi 
shops engaged to maintain their own laws against 
encroachment, keeping up a free correspondence 
with foreign churches and a union of affection, but 
not flattering any person because he held a station 
of higher dignity"in the Church. In other respects, 
the advice of the missionary archbishop to his brother 
in Kent was excellent, shewing the deepest sense of 
the responsibilities of such a station, on which is 
laid the care of all the churches. " Remember," 
he says, " the word of God to those shepherds who 
feed themselves and not the flock : (Ezek. xxxiv.) 


Trust, then, to the protection of the Almighty ; be 
bold in the cause of truth ; be prepared to suffer 



reproach, or even violence. Let us not be dumb 
dogs watchmen that give no warning ; nor so care 
ful of ourselves as to retreat from danger when the 
wolf conies to devour. Let us stand upon our watch, 
and preach to high and low, rich and poor, and do 
our utmost to bring all within that law of life which 
makes the obedient happy." Again he says, "The 
post of honour which we fill is of more danger than 
a lower station : it cannot be held without its trials. 
The helmsman must not leave his place when the 
seas are smooth ; but to fail to steer the ship in a 
storm is unpardonable cowardice. Such is the office 
of a prelate in times of persecution : dangerous to 
hold, but ruinous to betray." He speaks of Clement 
and Cornelius, bishops of Rome, of St. Cyprian and 
St. Athanasius, who all underwent trials of this kind, 
but guarded well the flock of Christ, choosing rather 
to suffer loss of goods and loss of life than fail in 
any part of their high trust. By such examples and 
encouragement did this devoted Christian cheer his 
friend, and prepare his own soul against the dreadful 
deatli which for him had no terrors. 

Though he had bound himself and the Christians 
under him to such a strict subjection to the see of 
Rome, this did not lead him blindly to follow opi 
nions and practices, which, though in favour with 
the Romans, appeared to him unfounded on any 
Scriptural warrant. Thus he wrote to Nothelm, 
archbishop of Canterbury, to ask him whether it 
was forbidden by the old Catholic fathers for a 
man to marry the widowed mother of a child to 
whom he had stood godfather. The Romans at 
this time had begun to multiply prohibitions of mar 
riage among kindred, which was afterwards a fruit 
ful source of encroachments on the part of the pope; 
and this was one of their prohibitions. The good 
sense of Winfrid was revolted at it : "I cannot un- 


derstand," he said, " wliy a man, whc has entered 
once into this kind of spiritual relation with a pa 
rent, commits a deadly sin if afterwards he is joined 
together with her in lawful matrimony. By this rule 
prohibitions might extend to every member of the 
Church ; for Christians are all sons and daughters 
of Christ and his Church, and so made in holy bap 
tism brothers and sisters to each other." Again, 
he complained very freely to pope Zachary of some 
heathenish customs and abuses which he heard of 
at Rome. " These rude Germans, Bavarians, and 
Franks," he says, " if they see any thing done at 
Rome which we forbid them to do, think that your 
priests permit it, and hold our admonitions in con 
tempt. They say that every year, on the first of 
January, they have seen at Rome, both by night 
and day, near the churches and in the public places, 
such dances as the pagans use, the same profane 
shouting and heathenish songs; and during this day 
and night there is no one who will lend out of his 
house to his neighbour either fire or steel, or any 
household utensil. 3 They say also that there are 
women, whom they have seen with charms and 
bands bound about their arms and legs, like pagan 
witches, who carry on a trade of spells with any 
customers they may find. All these things, seen by 
carnal and ignorant men, are a great hindrance to 
our preaching and the progress of the faith. If you, 
my good father, will forbid these pagan customs at 
Rome, you will do a good service, and assure us of 
great advancement in the doctrine of the Church." 

Winfrid had the greatest affection for Bede, often 
sending requests to the bishops and clergy in North 
umberland for his writings, calling him " the candle 
of the Lord, sent for the spiritual enlightenment of 

3 A remnant of this pagan custom still prevails about 
Christmas in the north of England. 


the Church." He corresponded also with many 
religious persons in more private life, particularly 
a Saxon lady called Buga, the head of a religious 
family in Kent, to whom he sent many letters of 
beautiful Christian consolation. His most intimate 
friends in the English Church were the bishops of 
hi* native province of Wesscx, Forthere bishop of 
Sherborne, the successor of Aldhelm, and Daniel 
bishop of Winchester. Daniel, as was before men 
tioned, sent him out as a missionary, with a letter 
to recommend all the Christians in the mission to 
receive him in the name of Christ, and continued 
afterwards to write to him to encourage him in his 
excellent labours. " I rejoice," he says, "and thank 
God for the strength of faith which has enabled you 
to do such good works among rud? heathens, turn 
ing the wilderness into a fruitful field by the plough 
of gospel preaching." Then he gives him some very 
judicious advice how to converse with the pagan 
people, to gain their attention and put them upon 
inquiry. " Ask them," he says, "such questions as 
these: Had your gods and goddesses a beginnin"? 
had the world a beginning? what is the good for 
which you worship these gods ? is it for the present 
enjoyments of this life, or for that happiness which 
you expect to come in another world ? which is 
most worthy of your thanks and praise? Then 
sometimes shew them the superiority of the Chris 
tian faith : Are your gods almighty ? why then dc 
they suffer Christians to come and pervert theii 
worshippers? why are those good countries now 
possessed by Christians, which were lately held by 
pagans ? Only the cold and barren countries of the 
north are left to you. But it is the power of truth 
which has given this increase." The good bishop, 
when he wrote this letter, was confined to his house 
by a fit of sickness, and he entreats his friend - 

en. vrti.] FRT.UTS OF THE MISSION. 165 

prayers for him; but he speaks of such sufferings 
with the confidence of a Christian in the faithful 
ness of God, and repeats the text, " In the multi 
tude of my sorrows in my heart, thy comforts have 
given peace to my soul." 

Such was the kind of religious correspondence 
kept up by our Christian forefathers, and with such 
zeal did they labour in the Lord s cause. To them 
is owing almost all the light of truth and civilisa 
tion which was spread through the Netherlands and 
the north of Germany. Wilbrord and Winfrid, and 
their companions, were the founders of churches 
which have ever since remained in those countries; 
and while the Mahometans were making their first 
great inroads on the Christian nations in the East, 
and overran Africa and Spain, they thus provided 
a means to counterpoise the loss, by converting a 
large portion of the nations which came to people 
and subdue Europe. Wilbrord baptised Pepin d He- 
ristal, the father of Charles Martel, whose great vic 
tory over the Saracens at Tours in France, A.D.732, 
effectually checked the Mahometan power in Europe, 
and drove them back into Spain ; and Winfrid bap 
tised Pepin, the son of Charles Martel and father rf 
Charlemagne, whose valour and prudence most of all 
laid the foundation of social order and fixed govern 
ment in the unsettled warlike tribes over whom he 
ruled. How much Charlemagne himself owed of his 
fame and greatness to one of our Christian country 
men will be seen from the following chapter. 



Still in my mind 

Is fix d, and now beats full upon my heart, 
Thy mild paternal image, as on earth, 
1 recept on precept, line on line, it taught 
The way for man to win eternity. 


jht of learning and Christian know 
ledge, which shone so brightly in the 
north of England during the lifetime of 
Bede, was not put out with his death. 
Besides the monastery of Jarrow, where 
liis pupils still promoted the truths they had learned 
from him, Lindisfarne and Hexham were schools of 
Christianity and nurseries of the Church. St. Alk- 
mund, bishop of Hexham, was a man long remem 
bered for his piety and charity after his death, A.D. 
781. Eadfrid, bishop of Lindisfarne, a contemporary 
of Bede s, was the author of a translation of the Gos 
pels into Saxon, which is said to be still preserved 
in the British Museum. He was followed by other 
teachers, whose names are recorded in old history ; 
particularly Iglac, an eminent expounder of Scrip 
ture, and Ethelwolf, whose historical work on the 
church of Lindisfarne still remains to us. 

But the most eminent school of Christianity in 
the north in the eighth century was at York, under 


the two eminent archbishops EGBERT and ALBERT, 
on whom it may be said with truth that some portion 
of the spirit of Bede rested. We have already seen 
how Bede, a short time before his death, addressed 
a letter to archbishop Egbert, giving him his last 
thoughts on the state of the English Church. He 
delivered his mind to him with the greatest freedom, 
as to one of whose sentiments he was well assured. 
This prince and prelate, for he was a brother of the 
ling of Northumbria, after obtaining from Rome a 
renewal of the pall which was held by Paulinus, set 
himself in earnest about the good government of the 
Church in his province. They were happy times for 
Northumbria, says Alcuin, when the king and the 
bishop ruled each their province with perfect con 
cord in the administration of the laws, the one as 
brave as the other was good ; one distinguished for 
active enterprise, the other for deeds of mercy. The 
king, Edbert, however, at length retired from busy 
life, and gave his kingdom to another, dying in his 
brother s monastery, about a year after Egbert s 
death, A.D. 768. The archbishop, after ably ruling 
the Church for more than tliirty years, and compos 
ing a book of rules for priests to observe with peni 
tents, and also a collection of Church-laws or canons 
in the English language, was succeeded by a near 
relation, Albert, a man well qualified to pursue the 
improvements he had begun, and still further to 
promote religious and useful learning. 

Albert, says Alcuin, was a pattern of goodness, 
justice, piety, and liberality ; a teacher who taught 
the catholic faith with a spirit of love ; an excellent 
ruler of the Church in which he was brought up : 
when he spoke of the law, it was as the call of the 
trumpet to awake to judgment; but he was still the 
herald of salvation : stern to the stouthearted u ho 
refused to bend, but kind and gentle to the good , 


the hope of the poor, the solace of the distressed, 
the father of orphans ; and the more humble, the 
more he was exalted. While Egbert lived, he was 
the principal teacher of the college at York, where 
the Saxon youth born between the Tees and H um 
ber were instructed : it was a college for education, 
adjoining the religious house, where the monks and 
unmarried priests resided, who were more imme 
diately under the orders of the archbishop. Here 
Albert shewed the excellence of his talents, and the 
extent of his acquirements, by leading his pupils 
tli rough such branches of learning and science as 
would not be easily exceeded at any modern uni 
versity ; for he taught himself, or by the help of 
other teachers, the art of grammar, rhetoric or elo 
quence, jurisprudence or the science of law, poetry, 
particularly Latin metres, astronomy and natural 
history, mathematics and chronology, and, above all, 
the exposition of holy Scripture. It is not to be 
supposed that he imposed this course of reading and 
study on all his pupils, but according to their abi 
lities and inclination chose out different branches of 
instruction for them. If he marked any young men 
who shewed signs of talent and good disposition, like 
a good master he made them his friends by an affec 
tionate regard to their improvement ; and thus he 
had many who, out of kindness to their instructor, 
after they had gono through some of the arts and 
sciences, sought his guidance to help them to un 
derstand their Bible. 

His love of acquiring knowledge led him to take 
more than one journey to the continent of Europe, 
to find out any new books or new plans of instruc 
tion in other countries. He also visited Rome, rather 
from feelings of devotion, than to increase his learned 
stores. He was received on his return to England 
with great honour; and some of the Saxon kings in 


the south would gladly have kept him at their courts; 
but wishing to profit his native province, he resumed 
his post of instructor at York. The people are said 
to have made it their petition to the king of North- 
umbria, on the death of Egbert, that he might be 
his successor. 

As he had borne his part with such excellent 
diligence before, his care did not relax in this higher 
station. He fed his flock with the food of the divine 
word, says Alcuin; guarded the lambs of Christ from 
the wolf, and bore back on his shoulders the sheep 
that had wandered in the wild. He spoke the truth 
to all, not sparing kings or earls, if they misbehaved. 
Nor did he suffer the weight of his high charge to 
prevent his studying the holy Scriptures as much as 
ever. His table was not changed, nor his dress more 
splendid than before ; but while he avoided all deli 
cacy, he took care to shun the other extreme of 

About two years and two months before his 
death, when he had filled the office of archbishop 
for thirteen years, he retired into the monastery, 
that he might have leisure to serve God alone. He 
was now full of days and honour; and calling to 
him his two favourite pupils, Eanbald and Alcuin, 
he gave up to the first the bishop s office, to which 
he had been appointed, and to the other, what he 
valued as much, his chair of instruction and his 
books. These were placed in a library, which he 
had built for their reception ; and a list of them is 
given by Alcuin, long enough to shew the character 
of the books which were studied in the early English 
Church. It is likely that at Lindisfarne, and Jarrow. 
and Hexham, and perhaps also at Whitby, there were 
libraries of nearly equal value. There can be no 
doubt that there was one as large at Canterbury ; 
and probably at Rochester, nt Winchester, and at 


Malmsbury, and Oxford, there were good stores of 
books before the Danish invasions. Alcuin does not 
give the names of all the volumes, but of those which 
he thought most valuable. First, what was of most 
esteem in the eyes of an old English bishop, next to 
the inspired writings, and what, it is to be hoped, 
will always be in high esteem with the ministers of 
the English Church, the library contained many of 
the works of the primitive fathers ; St. Basil, St. 
Athanasius, St. Chrysostom, St. Hilary, St. Ambrose, 
St. Augustine, St. Jerome, popes Leo and Gregory, 
Fulgentius, and Lactantius, Boethius, Prosper, and 
some of later date. There were also a few of the 
Roman historians, orators, and poets ; the Greek 
philosopher Aristotle; 1 a number of writers on 
grammar ; and the works of Alcuin of Canterbury, 
Aldhelm, Bede, and Wilbrord, proving that the col 
lector of 4hese treasures had a just value for the 
writings of his own countrymen. 

It is necessary to mention, as shewing the pro 
gress of art and improvement, the two churches 
which were now erected in York, and the ornaments 
given to them by archbishop Albert. The old 
church of king Edwin, repaired by Wilfrid, was now 
adorned with a great altar, or shrine, over the place 
where that king had been baptised. This shrine 
was adorned itself with gold, silver, and precious 
stones, and was dedicated to the honour of St. Paul, 
the teacher of the Gentiles. Over it was hung by 
a chain from the roof a large chandelier, with nine 
rows of lights, three in each row, to light it up by 
night. A large cross was raised at the back of this 

1 It has been often said that the learned men of modern 
Europe knew nothing of this Greek philosopher till they heard 
of him through the Arabians, by means of the crusades. It is 
plain that Alcuin had studied his writings ; and what is so 
likely as that Theodore brought them into England? 


altar, of equally precious workmanship. Another 
altar, in honour of the martyrs or All Saints, 2 was 
also set up and adorned with not much less of cost. 
These, with a flagon, or sacramental wine cup, of 
pure gold, were his gifts to the old minster. But 
he found the increase of population and worshippers 
in York required a new church to be built ; and of 
this his pupils, Eanbald and Alcuin, were the archi 
tects. It was several years in building, and was a 
very handsome structure; lofty, with an arched roof 
supported on strong columns, and several porches, 
which, with their different projections, made a pleas 
ing variety of light and shade as the sun shone upon 
them. This church, with its thirty little shrines, 
was finished only ten days before its pious founder 
breathed his last. He came out of his monastery to 
assist his successor in the dedication of it; and shortly 
after a crowd of clergy and people, old and young, 
followed his honoured bier to the grave, A.D. 782. 

We must now give an account of that famous 
man, who next to Bede was the most eminent teacher 
of the early English Church, and who, under the 
patronage of the emperor Charlemagne, became the 
great restorer of learning on the continent of Europe. 
This was ALCUIN of York, a man of the most active 
spirit and enlarged mind, and only second in his 
well-earned reputation to Charlemagne himself. 

Alcuin appears to have been born at York about 
the year of Bede s death, A.D. 735 : he was educated, 
as we have seen, at the school founded by archbishop 
Egbert, under the able instruction of Albert; and 
when he succeeded to the charge of the see, Alcuin 
was appointed to preside over this school. At this 
time the state of learning in Great Britain and Ireland 

2 Many of the Saxon churches were dedicated to All Saints. 
Indeed it is probable that wherever there is a church so dedi 
cated, it is of Saioii foundation. 


was far superior to that of any other part of Europe. 
There had been no teacher of any eminence in Italy 
since the time of pope Gregory the Great ; and 
though his successors were commonly men of some 
learning, their influence had little effect in advancing 
the state of knowledge in Italy or in France. King 
Ina of Wessex, among other works of piety and pub 
lic benefit, had founded an English school at Rome, 
where it seems likely that many of the missionaries 
who aided Wilbrord and Winfrid received a portion 
of their education. But though some of the English 
churchmen studied for a longer or shorter time there, 
the most eminent were those who were entirely 
trained at Canterbury or York, and other schools 
in their native land. And the state of England 
was at this time much more favourable to learning 
and civilisation than that of France, or Italy, or 
Spain. Though there were often short wars be 
tween the different kings of the north, the midland, 
and the west, yet the boundaries continued much 
the same. From the time of Theodore s arrival to 
the great invasion of the Danes, A. D. 668-832, there 
was a period of more than one hundred and sixty 
years, during which the country was for the most 
part in a settled state. But in Italy and France all 
this time the kingdoms were constantly changing; 
the Lombards and Greeks fought many bloody 
battles in Italy, and the Visigoths, Franks, and 
Burgundians, were bringing trouble and disorder 
into France. And Spain and part of France were 
thrown into still greater confusion by the Saracens. 
It was not till the victories of Pepin and his distin 
guished son and successor Charlemagne, that these 
countries were free from the inroads of new in 

It was after the death of Albert, when Alcuin, 
according to the custom of the English Church at 


that period, was sent to Rome to obtain a renewal 
of the honour of the pall for his successor Eanbald. 
His fame was by this time spread far among places 
of learning on the continent: when on his return, 
at Parma in the north of Italy, he met with Charle 
magne, who sought him out to invite him to establish 
himself in France. The offer was a tempting one; 
but Alcuin did not accept it till he had obtained 
the consent of the king and archbishop of his native 
province. He then went to present himself at the 
emperor s court ; and Charlemagne, who knew his 
value, immediately gave him the preferment of three 
abbeys, made him the instructor of his children, and 
his own confidential counsellor and friend, A.D. 783. 
From this time for several years we may regard 
Alcuin as the minister of public instruction over 
the greater part of Christendom ; for the empire of 
Charlemagne extended from the river Ebro in Spain 
to the eastern frontiers of Germany, and southward 
it included all the Italian provinces as far as to 
Rome. In this capacity his care divided itself into 
a number of useful labours, which the authority of 
his patron enabled him to pursue with great advan 
tage to the cause of religion and learning. First, 
his attention was given to the restoration of correct 
copies of the holy Scriptures, and books of prayer 
and other holy offices used in churches ; for, during 
the many years of war and disorder in France, these 
had not only become very scarce, but such copies as 
there were had often been taken by persons whose 
knowledge was by no means equal to the task. When 
these had been well examined, a number of scribes 
were employed in writing out correct copies, and 
one was sent to each of the principal abbeys or 
cathedral churches, where the more learned and 
zealous of the bishops and abbots had the number 
still further increased. The art of copving manu- 


scripts thus became a means of reputation and pro- 
ht to the ingenious; and the Roman letters, it) 
which all books are now printed, became from this 
time, instead of the Saxon or other characters, the 
common form of writing adopted by all scholars. 
Next to the holy Scriptures, he employed himself in 
making extracts, as Bede had done, from the Chris 
tian fathers, the best interpreters of the Scriptures. 
These were sometimes put into the form of sermons, 
or were themselves the sermons or homilies written 
by the fathers on different portions of Scripture; 
and were recommended to be read on festivals or 
the Sundays throughout the year ; on the same 
principle as the English Church, at the time of the 
Reformation, adopted in putting out the Books of 
Homilies. But, knowing that human learning, pro 
perly employed, is the faithful handmaid of divine 
learning, he did not neglect to promote the pro 
curing and copying of manuscripts of such classical 
authors, grammarians, orators, and poets, as he had 
himself studied and taught at York. " I want," he 
said to Charlemagne, " such books as will serve to 
educate a good scholar, such as I had in my native 
country through the industry and devoted zeal of 
my good master archbishop Egbert; let your ex 
cellency give me permission, and I will send over 
some of my pupils here, who shall copy out and 
bring over into France the flowers of the libraries 
in Britain ; that there may be not only an enclosed 
garden at York, but plants of paradise at Tours 
also. In the morning of my life, I sowed the seeds 
of learning in my native land ; now, in the evening. 
, though my blood is not so quick as it was, I spare 
l not to do my best to sow the same seeds in France; 
and I trust that, with God s grace, they will prospei 
well in both countries." 

That this good man, however, did not run an\ 


risk of forgetting the study of that volume which is 
above all human learning, may be judged from the 
letter he wrote to Charlemagne from the abbey of 
Tours, A.D. 801, with a copy of the whole Bible 
carefully corrected by himself throughout. 

" I have for a long time been studying," he says, 
" what present I could offer you, not unworthy ot 
the glory of your imperial power, and one which 
might add something to the richness of your royal 
treasures. I was unwilling, that while others brought 
you all kinds of rich gifts, my poor wit should re 
main dull and idle, and that the messenger even of 
so humble a person as myself should appear before 
you with empty hands. I have at last found out, 
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, a present 
which it befits my character to offer, and which it 
will not be unworthy of your wisdom to receive. 
Nothing can I offer more worthy of your great 
name than the book which I now send, the divine 
Scriptures, all bound up in one volume, carefully 
corrected by my own hand. It is the best gift 
which the devotion of my heart to your service, and 
my zeal for the increase of your glory, has enabled 
me to find." 

When Alcuin wrote this letter, he was residing, 
in the retirement of his age, at his monastery of 
Tours, to which Charlemagne had unwillingly per 
mitted him to withdraw from the court a few years 
earlier. His patron, too, was then past the meri 
dian of life, and he appears to have been struck with 
admiration of such holy diligence; for it is recorded 
of him, that the year before he died, he employed 
much of his leisure, with the help of some Greek 
and Syrian Christians, in correcting a copy of the 
four Gospels in Greek. 

There were in those days many persons who read 
books, but had not much skill in writing. Such pro- 


bably was Wihtred, king of Kent, one of the earliest 
English lawgivers, before mentioned, who yet at 
the end of one of his charters says that he puts the 
sign of the cross, not knowing how to form a letter. 
Such also was Charlemagne, who not having learned 
to write when he was young, at an advanced age 
attempted to teach himself, and is said to have car 
ried abont his tablets and writing materials, and to 
have laid them under his pillow when he slept, that 
he might practise at any leisure moment in private. 
But he never made good progress in the art. Hence 
it was the more usuai practice for almost all but the 
clergy and monks to employ a secretary or clerk to 
write for them ; and it became a separate profession. 
It is said of Charlemagne, that having once a skilful 
scribe with him, who was accused of holding a cor 
respondence with the enemy, he was about to order 
him to lose his right hand, but he checked himself 
with the words, " If I cut off his hand, where shall 
I find so good a writer?" We must not, however, 
suppose, that all who eould not write were also un 
able to read ; for it is certain that Charlemagne was 
well acquainted with Greek and Latin authors, and 
his skill in speaking was so great, that he might 
have been a master in the art of eloquence. He was 
therefore well able to see the great want of learning 
and of schools in the empire, and was anxious to 
remedy it. He had received addresses from the 
heads of monasteries, full of good and pious senti 
ments, and assuring him that the writers remembered 
him in their prayers ; but the words were often mis 
applied, and the spelling false. How should such 
men be fit to explain the Scriptures, in which there 
are many things hard to understand, figures of speech, 
and sentences requiring spiritual explanation? He 
saw, therefore, that it was necessary to provide 
teachers. With Alcuin s advice, be founded schools 


in all the cities where a bishop resided, and at all the 
great monasteries ; and to these he invited the most 
learned men that were to be found in other countries. 
And the greater part of these places of education 
were filled with teachers who were pupils of Alcuin. 
As long as Alcuin resided at the court, he was 
himself the head master of what was called the 
School of the Palace. Here his pupils were Charles, 
Pepin, and Louis, the three sons of Charlemagne, 
with other young noblemen ; and the interest which 
was thrown into his instructions by the skill of the 
teacher attracted several of the older persons of the 
court, princes, councillors, and bishops, and some 
times the ladies also, to listen to his lectures. He 
encouraged the pupils to ask questions, and made it 
a part of his plan to give such striking short answers 
as would impress the memory. Thus we have a 
dialogue between Pepin and Alcuin : 

" Pepin. What is speech ? 

Alcuin. The interpreter of the soul. 

Pep. What gives birth to the speech ? 

Ale. The tongue. 

Pep. How does the tongue give birth to the 
speech ? 

Ale. By striking the air. 

Pep. What is the air ? 

Ale. The preserver of life. 

Pep. \Vhat is life ? 

Ale. An enjoyment for the happy, a grief for the 
wretched, a waiting-time for death. 

Pep. What is death ? 

Ale. An inevitable event, an uncertain voyage, 
a subject of tears for the living, the time that con 
firms wills, the thief that makes its prey of man. 

Pep. What is sleep ? 

Ale. The image of death. 

Pep. What is liberty for 


Ale. Innocence. 

Pep. What is that waking sleep, of which I hav* 
hrard you speak ? 

Ale. Hope, a waking dream, cheering our tuiw 
though it lead to nothing. 

Pep. What is friendship ? 

Ale. The likeness of souls. 

Pep. What is faith ? 

Ale. The certainty of marvellouc. things aim 
tilings unknown." 

Sometimes he would try the wits of his young 
pupil \vith riddles or puzzling questions in turn. 

" Ale. I have seen a dead man walking, oue 
that never was alive. 

Pep. How can that be ? explain. 

Ale. It was my own leflection in the water. 

Pep. Why could not I guess it, having myself 
so often seen the like ? 

Ale. Well, you have a good wit; I will tell you 
some more extraordinary things. One whom I ne 
ver knew talked with me, without tongue or voice ; 
ne had no life before, nor will he live hereafter; and 
I neither knew him, nor understood what he said. 

Pep. Master, you must have been troubled with 
a dream. 

Ale. Right, my child : hear another. I have 
seen the dead beget the living, and the dead have 
been then consumed by the breath of the living. 

Pep. You speak of a fire kindled by rubbing 
dry sticks together, and consuming the sticks after 

Such ways of exercising the first efforts of an 
inquiring mind are not quite out of date with gentle 
teachers in our time. The kind-hearted ingenuity 
of Alcuin displayed in them may not be unworthy 
of the imitation of a more refined age. But this 
was only the lighter play of a mind which was full 


of noble designs, and watchful to extend the reign 
of truth and mercy in the world. 

In A.D. 796, Charlemagne having gained some 
victories over the Huns, Alcuin wrote to congratu 
late him on his success, and to advise him how to 
proceed with the conversion of these people. " Send 
to them gentle missionaries," he said, " and do not 
immediately require them to pay for their support ; 
it were better to lose the tithes than to lose the 
means of extending the faith." For the order used 
in their instruction he recommended the plan laid 
down by St. Augustine in one of his treatises: 
" First, teach them the immortality of the soul, the 
certainty of a life to come, the eternal reward of the 
righteous, and the judgment of the wicked, and what 
deeds they are by which man shapes his course to 
heaven or to hell. Then let them with great care 
be taught the faith in the holy Trinity, nd the com 
ing of the Son of God into the world for the salva 
tion of mankind." He wrote to this great monarch 
more than once, to pray him in the midst of his con 
quests to be merciful to his prisoners, and to spare 
the vanquished ; and did not lose the occasion, when 
the death of the empress had opened a way to milder 
thoughts, to address him in words of spiritual con 

When Charlemagne went on his famous visit to 
Rome, A.D. 800, on which occasion pope Leo III. 
placed on his head the imperial crown, he was very 
anxious to take Alcuin with him. " For shame," 
said he, " that you should like better to stay under 
the smoky roofs of Tours, than to be entertained in 
the gilded palaces of Rome." But Alcuin was now 
sensible of the infirmities of advancing age, and 
begged that he might be permitted to end his pil 
grimage in his retirement. The great abbeys vjiirh 
ho had held, with their large estates, had given Him 


a princely income ; and he had on the lands which 
belonged to them as many as twenty thousand ten 
ants or labourers. But he now, with Charlemagne s 
consent, divided these monasteries among his prin 
cipal pupils ; and though he continued to write to 
his patron, as when he sent him his corrected Bible, 
he was now engaged till his death, May 19, A.D. 
804-, in little else but the care of his soul. 

He appears from his writings to have had a great 
delight in that part of God s service which consists 
in praise. " As often as we are so employed," he 
says, " we imitate on earth the life of angels. When 
the Psalmist has said, Blessed are they that dwell in 
thy house) that we may know in what that blessed 
ness consists, he adds the words describing their 
employment, They will be for ever praising Thee" 

He was zealous to promote preaching, writing 
to Charlemagne to complain of some priests who 
neglected it, and said it was the bishop s duty and 
not theirs. Writing to the English bishops, Uhard 
and Tilfrid, of Elmham an 1 Dunwich, he says: "You 
have authority to speak as holding the keys of hea 
ven, power to open to the penitent, to shut against 
those who withstand the truth. Live therefore so 
that you may acquit yourselves of so excellent a 
trust ; and remember that it is the praise of bishops 
to be constant in preaching." 

He did not however forget the end of preaching, 
saying of compunction, or the devout affection of 
the heart : " It is a treasure in the heart better than a 
hoard of gold. Three things make up this sweet com 
punction : remembrance of sins past, consideration ot 
our fleeting pilgrimage through this life of misery, 
and desire of our heavenly country. And when 
through prayer it finds utterance, sorrow flies away, 
and the Holy Ghost keeps watch in the heart." 

Charlemagne and others of his court seem some- 


times to have asked liin questions on Scripture diffi 
culties. Some questions of this kind may be found 
among his writings. " It is said, No man hath seen 
God at any time; and the apostle calls him the 
King immortal and invisible. Yet our Lord says, 
Blesse<! are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 
Answ. God may be seen according to the gift of 
his grace ; that is, He may be understood in this 
either by angels, or by the souls of the saints. But 
the full nature of his godhead neither any angel nor 
saint can perfectly understand; therefore he is called 

There was one Felix, bishop of Urgel in Spa:n, 
who wrote at this time against the godhead of our 
blessed Saviour, calling him only the adopted Si.n 
of God. Against him Alcuin wrote more than one 
treatise ; and it is to be hoped that he sincerely re 
tracted his error, for which a council of the Church 
degraded him from his bishopric. At least the con 
troversy had a remarkable end ; for Felix after his 
deposition lived on terms of friendship with Alcuin, 
and passed much of his time with him at his monas 
tery of Tours. 

A more remarkable dispute arose in Alcuin s 
time about the worship of images in churches. In 
A.D. 792, Charlemagne sent over into England a 
book which had been forwarded to him for that pur 
pose from the East, containing the decrees of a coun 
cil of the Greek Church in favour of the religious 
adoration of images. It seems that Alcuin was at. 
this time on a visit to England ; and the bishops of 
the English Church being of one mind in condemn 
ing this new doctrine, a doctrine which, they de 
clared, " the Church of God holds accursed," en 
gaged him to write to Charlemagne against it. He 
did so ; and writing in the name and with the au 
thority of the English Church, and using the soundest 


scriptural arguments, notwithstanding that Adrian, 
the pope of that time, had approved of the idolatrous 
practice, he effectually engaged Charlemagne to use 
his influence to check it. In A.D. 794-, that monarch 
called together a council at Frankfort-on-the-Maine, 
in which three hundred bishops solemnly condemned 
the doctrine of the Greek council and the pope ; and 
this step prevented for a long time afterwards the 
progress of the error in Great Britain. 

Such were some of the services of this remark 
able man, both to his own country and that which 
had adopted him, and to the Church of Christ. His 
writings were highly valued in England, and often 
made a portion of instruction from the pulpit ; and 
to France he was a benefactor, whose good works 
left a blessing behind them more durable than the 
victories of Charlemagne- 



To shake the Saxon s mild domain, 
Kush d in rude swarms the robber Dane, 
From frozen wastes and caverns wild 
To genial England s scenes beguil d : 

And in his clamorous van exulting came 

The demons foul of famine and of flame : 

Witness the sheep-clad summits, roughly crown d 
With many a frowning foss and airy mound, 

Which yet his desultory march proclaim. 


must now return to the state of the 
Church in England, whose teachers 
and chief bishops, both in the north 
and south, were often in correspond 
ence with their distinguished country 
men in France. During the period from the death 
of Ina of Wessex to the rise of Egbert, the Mercian 
kingdom had taken the lead among the Saxon 
states. All the kingdoms south of the Humber, 
when Bede wrote his history, had acknowledged the 
supremacy of Ethelbald, who reigned for a term of 
forty years, A.D. 716-756. Shortly after his death 
arose another powerful king, Offa, whose reign ex 
tended over forty years more, to A.D. 796. Offa, 


not content with the submission of the neighbour 
ing kings, sought by force or treachery to put an 
end to their sovereignties. He is charged with the 
murder of a prince of East Anglia, whom he had 
invited in friendship to his court; and he made war 
upon the little kingdom of Kent, which stubbornly 
maintained its independence. 

In this dispute the Churches of Canterbury and 
Rochester, and other seats of religion in Kent, were 
exposed to suffering. Offa thought it concerned the 
honour of his crown to diminish the honour of the 
see of Canterbury, and persuaded pope Adrian, the 
same who wrote in defence of image-worship, to 
send an archbishop s pall to Higbert, bishop of Lich- 
field, making the six other bishoprics between the 
Thames and Humber subject to him instead of 
archbishop Eanbert. It i:* no gr^at credit to pope 
Adrian, that he consented so easily to this project, 
for which there was no reason but the worldly ambi- 
t.ion of Offa ; and his honesty is somewhat impeached 
by it, inasmuch as Offa began a practice, which was 
long afterwards continued, of sending a yearly pre 
sent in money, called " Peter-pence," to Rome. 
The Saxon laws speak of this present as " the king s 
alms ;" it was not a tax paid to the pope, but to the 
king s officers : it led, however, afterwards to help 
the encroachments of the bishops of Rome. 1 

The popes about this time were men of very dif 
ferent character from the good pope Gregory, who 
had given so freely of his own without expecting any 
return. The Romans, indeed, say that this Adrian I. 
did not degenerate from his predecessors, and that 
he is fit to be compared with the best of them. But 

1 Peter-pence were paid on St Peter s-day for alms to the 
poor at Rome, and for lighting up the church in honour of St. 
Peter. The sum was 3(J5 marks, mark for every day in the 
year, or about 120/. ; no very great sum even in those days. 

CH. X.] OFFA, KING OF MERflA. 185 

archbishop Eanbert and the English bishops, who 
had opposed him on the question of image-worship, 
were probably of a different opinion ; and this opi 
nion might have been fostered when he was so easily 
persuaded to disturb Gregory s arrangement for the 
two archbishoprics, an arrangement which experi 
ence had shewn then, as it has ever since, to be good 
and convenient. A council of the English Church, 
held at Cliff s -hoe a few years afterwards, A.D. 803, 
censured this act of Offa, as an act of the greatest 
fraud, and Adrian s consent to it, as " obtained by 
surreptitious means and deceitful arguments ;" a plain 
proof that, if they thought he might have been ua- 
bribed, they did not count him infallible. 

At this pei iod also the popes had begun to require 
a very inconvenient custom, which they afterwards 
renewed with more success, that the archbishops of 
England should go to Rome in person for their palls. 
Against this Alcuin protested, and wrote a letter to 
king Offa to prevent it: "The right order is," he 
said, " that when York is vacant, the archbishop of 
Canterbury shall consecrate to that see ; when Can 
terbury is vacant, the archbishop of York shall con 
secrate ; and the pope ought to send the pall." The 
English bishops took occasion, in a letter to pope 
Leo III., to protest likewise against this custom. 
They reminded him that Gregory had never required 
it, nor his successors; but that Honorius particu 
larly had laid down the rule as " the great scholar 
Alcuin" had stated it in his letter; that the new 
custom had begun through the disputes of their 
kings, meaning, as it would seem, the dispute be 
tween Offa and the princes of Kent. They also hint 
rather plainly, that they suspect the love of money 
to be at the bottom of the business. " In the be 
ginning of our Church," they say, "the holy and 
apostolic men of Rome fulfilled the excellent precept 



of our Saviour, Freely ye have received} freely give. 
The heresy of Simon Magus had then no strength 
or power; for the gift of God was not then purchased 
by money, but freely given. Let those who sell the 
grace of God fear what Peter said to Simon, Thy 
money perish with thee" With these strong words 
the letter concludes. It appears to have been suc 
cessful, as, for some time afterwards, the archbishops 
received their palls without going to Rome. 

OfFa is commended by Alcuin, after his death, as 
a prince of engaging manners, and studious to pro 
mote good Christian morals among his people. At 
the same time, he does not disguise that these better 
qualities were tarnished by deeds of avarice au<< 
cruelty ; and he mentions it as a probable mark ot 
divine vengeance, that his only son Egfrid, whom 
he had made the sharer of his throne, died a few 
days after his father in the flower of his age. Among 
the oppressive acts of OfFa towards the Church, he 
seems to have usurped the property of bishops and 
abbots in the monasteries ; not suppressing the re 
ligious houses, but giving them as preferments to 
his friends, particularly one at March in Cambridge 
shire, and the abbey of Bath, which he made bishop 
Heathored of Worcester surrender to him. To esta 
blish his power the more, he enriched the abbeys of 
Bredon and Evesham, founded by his grandfather, 
with lands taken from the same bishopric or its de 
pendent monasteries. But at a late period of his 
life he was led, by some remorse of conscience, to 
found the famous abbey of St. Alban s, which he 
endowed with large estates in Hertfordshire, and 
which became one of the most splendid of the old 
Benedictine houses in early Norman times. 

King Alric of Kent, the antagonist of OfFa, and 
the last of the royal line of Ethelbert, in the sam* 
Year followed his rival to the grave. Aftei h 


the little realm was distracted by new competitors of 
uncertain title ; and the archbishop Ethelhard, by 
the advice of his clergy, left Canterbury, to find a 
home in another province. In his distress he wrote 
to Alcuin for his friendly counsel ; from whom he 
received a very candid reproof, conveyed, however, 
with all the delicacy of true Christian feeling. "What 
can so humble a person as myself say but acquiesce 
in the advice of so many of Christ s priests ? Yet if 
they have authority to persuade you that the shep 
herd ought to fly when the wolf comes, in what 
value do you hold the gospel, which calls him a 
hireling, and not the shepherd, who is afraid of the 
fury of the wolf?" He begs him earnestly to re 
consider the motives of his flight ; and however he 
may justify it by the text, If they persecute you in one 
city, flee into another, to remember also, that the good 
shepherd layeth down his life for the sheep. He ad 
vises that, on his restoration, the council of the realm 
should institute a public fast, as an act of public 
penitence, on the part of the primate for his flight, 
and on the part of the people for having occasioned 
it. " Return," he says, " and bring back to the 
house of God the youths who were studying there, 
the choir of singers, and the penmen with their 
books ; that the Church may regain its comely order, 
and future primates may be trained up under her 
care. And for yourself, let your preaching be con 
stant in all places; whether in presence of the bishops 
in full synod, whom it is your duty to admonish to 
be regular in holding ordinations, earnest in preach 
ing, careful of their churches, strict in enforcing the 
holy rite of baptism, and bountiful in alms; or whe 
ther it be for the good of the souls of the poor in 
different churches and parishes, especially among the 
people of Kent, over whom God has been pleased 
to appoint you to preside. Above all, let it be your 


strictest care to restore the reading of the holy Scrip 
tures, that the Church may be exalted with honour, 
and that the holy see, which was first in the faith, 
may be first in all wisdom and holiness ; where the 
inquirer after truth may find an answer, the ignorant 
learn what he desires to know, and the understand 
ing Christian see what may deserve his praise." 

May this good prayer for the archbishop and the 
church of Canterbury, offered by a Christian patriot 
more than a thousand years ago, find an answering 
chord in every English Christian s heart 1 Ethel- 
hard returned to his see ; but either before or shortly 
after his return, Kent became a province of the king 
dom of Mercia. Her last independent king, Edbert 
Pryn, waging war with Ccenwulf, who now filled the 
throne of Offa, was taken captive; and Ccenwulf gave 
the government to Cuthred his brother. The begin 
ning of this reign was beneficial to the archbishop. 
He obtained the consent of the Mercian princes to a 
recovery of the rights which OfFa had transferred to 
Lichfield ; and was the bearer of a letter of Ccen 
wulf to pope Leo III., in which he was requested to 
annul the act of his predecessor Adrian. This jour 
ney was altogether successful. Ethelhard, with the 
Saxon nobles who accompanied him, was honourably 
entertained at the court of Charlemagne on his way; 
Alcuin sent him his own horse to ride, furnished 
with a bishop s saddle of the newest French fashion 
of the time, as he came towards Tours; and "the 
noble and holy pope Leo, as the English called 
him for restoring the honours of Augustine s se&, 
made no difficulty of acceding to his request. 

The archbishopric of Lichfield lasted only four 
teen or fifteen years, A.D. 785-800, while Higbert 
held that see. 2 Since this period there has been no 
interference with the rights of York or Canterbury; 
3 Saxon Chronicle, and Charters. 


and Alcuin, who was anxious to see the arrangement 
of Gregory restored, prays that the two sees may 
long continue, like the two eyes in the body, giving 
their light to the whole of Britain. In this prayer 
also let the English and Christian patriot heartily 

Archbishop Eanbald, who now presided at York, 
the second of that name, A.D. 796-812, was one of 
Alcuin s pupils ; and with him, as with other north 
ern bishops and churchmen, he maintained a frequent 
correspondence. In these letters he now and then 
exhorts this prelate to check his priests and monks 
from the practice of fox-hunting, which it seems was 
even then sometimes too strong a temptation for the 
Yorkshire clergy. Among other presents which he 
sent him from abroad was a cargo of copper, to be 
used in roofing the bell-tower at York, which Alcuin 
wished to be completed in the handsomest style then 
known. In a letter of excellent pastoral advice, sent 
to him on his promotion to the see, he exhorts him 
to be especially careful of the learning and good dis 
cipline of the school at York ; and to found hospi 
tals in different places, where a number of poor and 
strangers might be daily entertained. " Act not as 
the master of this world s wealth, but as the good 
steward. Lay not up an inheritance for your many 
kinsmen ; at least let them not make you covetous or 
uncharitable. You cannot have a better heir than 
Christ; none who will more faithfully keep your 
treasure committed to his keeping. And the hand 
of the poor man is the treasury of Christ." These 
good designs, however, were much interrupted by 
the civil discords which now arose in the decline of 
the Northumbrian kingdom ; and Eanbald was for 
a time driven from the province by a band of con 
spirators who slew king Ethelred, and was not in 
equal favour with the succeeding king. 


After the death of Ethelhard, Wulfred, who held 
the see of Canterbury, A.D. 803-832, was not happy 
cnough to retain the good will of Ccenwulf. This 
prince, following the course taken by OfFa to enrich 
his own family, took many of the Church-lands in 
Kent to give to his daughter Wendritha. for whom 
he had founded a new abbey at Wiuchcombe in 
Gloucestershire, threatening the archbishop with 
proscription and banishment, if he did not consent to 
his own undoing. "Neither pope nor Caesar," said 
this imperious prince, " shall make me receive you 
back, if I once send you into exile." Poor Wulfred 
submitted to the loss of two of his abbeys, and some 
of his best manors, to obtain peace : and after Ccen- 
wulf s death, when there was a time for more right 
eous law to be restored, he with some difficulty- 
recovered his rights from the princess-abbess. It 
was in this way, and not only by the inroads of the 
Danes, that the first -founded monasteries, were 
ruined, being turned into estates for young persons 
of rank, who only sought to enjoy their privileges, 
without much regard to the service of learning or 

Wulfred was a peaceable, charitable man ; but 
the state of learning had much fallen off since the 
time of Bede and the pupils of Adrian. In the 
midst of the troubles of Kent, he was still able to 
promote works of charity, and many of the religious 
people of that province made him their almoner. 
It was a common practice at this time for English 
gentlemen to charge their estates with a yearly gift, 
or dole of meat and drink, to be given away at the 
door of the monasteries to the poor, under the direc 
tion of the abbot. At the same time the inmates of 
the monastery received a stock of provisions, broad, 
mutton and beef, flitches of bacon, poultry, vi 
cheese, sundry casks of Welch ale, honey, or mead- 


wine ; or if the day happened to be a fasting daj , 
instead of meat, some store offish, butter, and eggs. 
The abbot \vas to give notice of such days before 
the anniversary came round, and there was enough 
sometimes at Canterbury to feed a thousand of the 
poor. In giving his orders for such a charity, which 
he had received from a nobleman called Oswulf, and 
Beornthryda his wife, the archbishop directs that on 
the day, " every priest of Christ Church shall sing 
two masses for Oswulf s soul, and two for Beorn- 
thryda s ; every deacon shall read two passions, or 
lessons from the Passion-book, which contained 
stories of martyrs ; two for his soul, and two for 
hers ; and every servant of God (meaning the monks 
or lay-brothers) shall sing two fifty-first Psalms, for 
his soul and for hers ; that they may be blessed 
before the world with worldly goods, and their souls 
with heavenly goods." It is plain that this injunc 
tion was given while the persons who gave the alms 
were yet alive ; and there was nothing wrong that 
the priests should pray for them, as we do for all 
members of the Church militant here on earth in 
our communion-service; or that the monks should 
use the Psalm which we say for ourselves and our 
brethren on Ash-Wednesday ; but it seems rather a 
sign of ignorant superstition, when he directs that 
the deacons shall read for the good of their souls 
a lesson from the Passion-book. It does not, how 
ever, shew that the custom of offering masses for the 
dead was now generally received ; but where it was, 
that it probably began in a mistaken charity, con 
tinuing to do for the departed what it was only law 
ful to do for the living ; 3 for it is seen in many of the 

3 Charlemagne sent presents of vestments to all the cathe 
dral churches in England, entreating that the bishops would 
offer prayers for pope Adrian, who had lately died A D. 795 ; 
" nothing doubting," he says, " that his blessed soul is in rest, 


writings of the time, that the devout Christians of 
the age of Bede and Alcuin were constant in prayer 
for each other and in entreating each others prayers. 
The great truth, that " where the tree falleth, there 
it shall lie," was too strong to be set aside at once 
by this growing superstition. Thus, in an old Saxon 
copy of the Psalms, on the text, " No man shall 
redeem his brother" the note follows, " Let a man 
therefore loose his own soul, while he is in this life ; 
for if he have no will to it himself, and does no good 
Wiiile he lives, his brother either will not, or may 
not. though he will." And again, in early Norman 
imes an English rhyme says: 

Send thy good before thee, man, 
The whilst thou may, to heaven : 

For better is one alms before, 
Than bin after seven. 

Accordingly, Wulfred himself in his lifetime charged 
his own estates with a provision of daily food to 
about twenty-seven different poor persons, who were 
also to receive six-and-twenty Saxon pence, about 
seven shillings, a year, to provide themselves with 
clothing. This is one of the earliest records of old 
English charity. 

Egbert, king of Wessex, came to his throne A.D. 
802. He had passed some of his earlier years at the 
court of Charlemagne, and was the ablest prince of 
his time. The Welch in Cornwall submitted to him 
about twelve years after he had been in possession 
of his kingdom ; and after defending his own terri 
tories against the Mercians for some years longer, 
at length, A.D. 825, by a great overthrow which he 
gave to their king Beornwulf at Allingtori in Wilt 
shire, he gained himself the name of "lord of Bri 
tain," which no other king had enjoyed since (he 

out that we may shew our faith and love to a dear friend." 
Malrnbb. i. 93. 


time of Oswy of Northumberland. From this time 
is commonly dated the conclusion of the Heptarchy, 
or seven Saxon kingdoms, as the dignity which Eg 
bert gained became hereditary in his family ; and 
though there were kings over some of the other 
provinces in the following century, they were sub 
ject to Wessex, or were themselves princes or nobles 
whom the kings of Wessex sent to govern those pro 
vinces. 4 In a short time, instead of kings, they .ad 
the title of earls of those provinces, and Ensr-.and 
became one kingdom. 

But before this union was cemented, tne woie 
realm was to feel the violence of a new and ternolc 1 
enemy, the Danes. The people who are so called 
in old English history came not only from the 
country which is now known by the name of Den 
mark, but from Sweden and Norway. They bad 
grown too populous for the cold and unfruitful rli- 
niate in which they lived; and their resource was, 
to live by war and plunder from the neighbouring 
coasts. They were wild pagans, and their creed 
was full of such superstitions as mark a people that 
delight in war. Their gods were fabled giants and 
monstrous forms of evil power; their heaven, called 
Valhalla, was a place where the spirits of the dead 
were feasted with unfailing cups of ale or mead. 
And thither all who fell in battle were borne by tho 
Fatal Sisters, who hovered round the field, and chose 
out the best from among the slain. It was the cus 
tom with these people, when one of their kings died, 
if he left more sons than one, to prevent disputes 
about the succession, to choose one to reign, and to 
send the rest with a company of followers to sea in 
ships, with the title of sea-kings. These outlaws there 
fore had no way left them for living but by the sword. 

4 Malmsb. i. 96. 


As early as the year A.D. 787 parties of Danes 
had landed and plundered some places on the Eng 
lish coast. In 793 they had made a descent on the 
island of Lindisfarne, and slew the monks and burnt 
the monastery. A few years later there was another 
descent of these pirates at Wearmouth ; where they 
plundered the abbey, but were cut off as they at 
tempted to regain their ships. The civil wars of 
the Northumbrians in the mean time were no less 
destructive of their own internal prosperity. They 
were so weakened by these dissensions, that when 
Egbert, after his conquest over Mercia, marched to 
their borders, A.D. 827, they offered no resistance, 
but at once submitted themselves to him. That 
king, however, had not long established his autho 
rity, when a more formidable inroad of Danes ap 
peared in the south of England. Thirty-five ships 
crews had landed at Charmouth in Dorsetshire ; and 
when Egbert had encountered them in battle, the 
enemy remained masters of the field, A.D. 833. And 
in this first lost battle, as an omen of the destruc 
tion these invaders were to bring upon the Church, 
the two West Saxon bishops, having gone to fight 
for their country, Wilbert bishop of Sherborne, and 
Herefrid bishop of Winchester, with other noblemen, 
were slain. 

The Danes did not come into the country to take 
possession, but to go from place to place and support 
themselves by spoil. Theirs were armies of robbers, 
quartering themselves wherever there was a space 
of cultivated country, feeding as long as the supply 
lasted, and then burning and wasting the land, and 
removing to a new position. The face of the coun 
try, as is observed by the poet who wrote the lines 
standing at the head of this chapter, still in many 
places bears witness to the kind of warfare they 
pursued ; as we may find in all parts of England, 


and particularly those furthest from the sea, on high 
grounds and open downs, the oval or circular mounds 
of old Danish camps. The destruction of property, 
the famine and misery, caused by these roving bands, 
would have been dreadful, even if they had been 
guilty of no worse cruelties ; but they were bloody 
and remorseless, and their swords spared neither 
young nor old. 

Egbert had driven out the first invaders by the 
better success he had in a second battle in Cornwall, 
where the poor Welch had joined them, to make 
a last effort against their Saxon foes. And dying 
shortly after, he left his kingdom to Ethelwolf his 
son, A.D. 838. 

During the whole of the reign of Ethelwolf, the 
southern part of the island was exposed to continual 
ravages. The Danes were often beaten, sometimes 
they were successful. They had the great advantage 
of possessing ships, which the Saxons had not, and 
had no means of guarding their coast. Hence they 
could make descents where they pleased, and often 
carried off spoil and regained their ships before they 
could be followed. But b legrees they came in 
larger bodies ; they began to winter in the isle of 
Thanet and the isle of Shepey ; and the danger was 
every day increasing. Ethelwolf, however, having 
obtained a great victory in a battle at Ockley in 
Surrey, took a step, at such a time marking more 
piety than prudence, he went on a visit in much 
state to the pope at Rome. 

This prince, who had come to the throne by the 
death of an elder brother, had been educated for the 
priesthood under the care of St. Swithin, afterwards 
bishop of Winchester. It has sometimes been sup 
posed that he was himself a bishop before he was 
king ; but the mistake seems to have arisen from 
confounding his name with another Ethelwolf, who 


was bishop of Selsey about this time ; the name being 
very common among the Saxons. It is certain that 
Ethelwolf was not a priest; he was made by Egbert 
king or prince of Kent, and ruled that province 
during the lifetime of his father. His journey to 
Rome, however, at this time was unfortunate for 
himself and his kingdom. He remained there a full 
twelvemonth ; and then on his return, in his way 
through France, being now past the meridian of life, 
he married a second wife, Judith, a daughter of 
Charles the Bald, great granddaughter of Charle 
magne. In the mean time his subjects were very 
ill-contented with his absence ; and Ealstan, bishop 
of Sherborne, who was a great warrior against the 
Danes, but rather an ambitious soldier than a church 
man, had advised his eldest eon Ethelbald to seize 
on the government. The return of Ethelwolf was 
the more acceptable to the loyal part of his people ; 
and, it seems, he might have easily put down this in 
surrection ; but to avoid the evil of inward dissension 
at so hazardous a time, or out of affection to his son, 
he gave up to him a part of his dominions; and that 
no dispute might arise after his own deatii, he pro 
vided that Ethelbald should then have Wessex, and 
Ethelbert, his second son, Kent, Sussex, and Surrey. 
The other acts of Ethelwolf, which belong more 
directly to the history of the Church, were that he 
rebuilt the English school at Rome founded by Ina, 
which he had found destroyed by fire ; and that he 
gave a tenth part of his own lands to the support of 
the Church in his kingdom. 5 This gift has some 
times been supposed to be the beginning of tithes in 
England ; but the notion is a mistake, as tithes were 
paid long before. They are mentioned in archbishop 
Egbert s canons, A.D. 740, and were no new thing 

* Ethelwerd Chron. A.D. 855. 


then. It is most likely that Ethehvolf intended to 
found several new monasteries in Wessex, where the 
number had hitherto been less than in other parts of 
England, as the words of his charter say that the 
grant is made "to confirm the possession of such as 
already held lands, of whatever order or degree in 
the Church, and to God s servants and handmaids 
(monks and nuns), and to poor laymen." But be 
fore Ethelwolf had time to do many acts in execu 
tion of this design,, he died, A.D. 856. His three 
elder sons in turn succeeded him, and during their 
short reigns had to contend with parties of the Danes, 
one of which took the capital city of Winchester, 
A.D. 860, but was shortly afterwards expelled. Ethe- 
red, the last of the three, died in A.D. 871. In his 
time, the invaders, who had before been allured to 
the milder southern provinces, made their great de 
scent upon the north, arid with such fatal force, that 
within a few years the whole kingdom of North- 
umbria was entirely at their mercy. 

It was in the year A.D. 867 that this dreadful in 
vasion was made. A large army had landed the year 
before in East Anglia, where the people had made 
peace with them, and supplied them with horses. 
Thus armed for inroad, they rode towards the Hum- 
ber in the following spring, were ferried over, and 
took the city of York. The inhabitants of the pro 
vince were never worse prepared for resistance. Two 
different parties were contending for the possession 
of the kingdom. Osbert, the rightful king, had been 
disowned by a large party of his subjects, who had 
set up Ella, another chief, who had no claim of 
kindred to entitle him to that dignity. The Scots 
had a few years before subdued the Picts, and taken 
from the Northumbrian kingdom all its territory to 
the north of Tweed. So that even if they had been 
united, it would have been no easy thing to resist au 


enemy, whose forces, increased by new floets. soon 
amounted to 200,000 strong. But the two unhappy 
competitors, instead of immediately coming to terms 
with each other, and marching against the common 
foe, suffered the greater part of the summer to pass, 
while the Danes were entrenching themselves at York, 
and making spoil of all the country round. When at 
last they had determined to leave their private dif 
ferences for the securing of the public safety, their 
measures were as ill taken as they were late. There 
was nothing done to ascertain the numbers or force 
of the enemy ; but the two kings advancing by dif 
ferent roads to York, were both slain, and their fol 
lowers cut to pieces at the first sally made by the 
besieged. It was noted long afterwards, that this 
evil overtook them not only as a punishment for their 
own dissensions, but as a mark of divine anger for 
their impiety ; for Osbert had seized on the Church- 
lands in Northumberland, and Ella, besides several 
other spoliations in the county of Durham, had turned 
the bishop s lands at Crayke, given by king Egfrid 
to St. Cuthbert, into a hunting-seat for himself, and 
had lodged there the night before he went on his 
disastrous expedition. 

Wulfhere, who was then archbishop of York, fled 
with some of his priests to Addingham near Skipton. 
Here he seems to have remained, or in some obscure 
place in Mercia, to the close of his life, about thirty 
years afterwards. The Danes immediately overran 
the whole province as far as the Tyne, and wher 
ever they went, their course was tracked with blood ; 
churches and monasteries were left in ruinous heaps ; 
the priests and monks cruelly slaughtered ; and the 
only Saxons whom they spared became the slaves of 
the soil, or, as their old chronicle forcibly speaks of 
it, "were made harrowers and ploughers" to their 
heathen conquerors. In A.D. 875, Halden, one of 


their sea-kings, led his army across tne Tyne, and 
completed all that was yet wanting to the work of 
destruction. The Yorkshire monasteries, Beverley, 
Ripon, Whitby, and Lastingham, with others of 
smaller note, had been already laid low ; now, Jar- 
row, where Bede had taught and shewn the graces 
of a Christian life, Hexham, Lindisfarne, and others, 
were levelled, many of them never to rise again. 

In the midst of this desolation, however, there was 
not wanting a remarkable testimony to the power of 
Christian faith. EARDULF, bishop of Lindisfarne, 
had now for twenty years done faithful duty in his 
charge, not failing, in the midst of the civil wars 
which distracted his province, to visit his diocese, 
and to preach and send diligent preachers to fill the 
office of evangelists in the north. When the pagans 
approached Holy Island, he reminded his priests and 
monks of the dying charge which St. Cuthbert was 
believed to have given to his friends, that if his abode 
should be endangered by barbarians, they should ra 
ther change their dwelling than bow the neck to do 
their impious bidding; and that if they ever removed, 
they should carry his bones with them, and not leave 
them to rest in what would then be a pagan soil. 
The religious society obeyed their bishop s com 
mands ; they took up the bones of Cuthbert, and also 
of Aidan, and king Oswald, and set out in melan 
choly procession from the place where the gospel 
had now been planted and had flourished for two 
hundred and forty years. 

There were in the monastery of Lindisfarne a 
number of boys and youths, who had been brought 
up from infancy there, and taught by the monkish 
teachers. They had been accustomed to wear the 
dress of clerks or choristers, and had learnt to chant 
the Psalms. They offered themselves with the ardour 
of youth to follow the bishop wherever he would 


lead them. Besides these, a number of Christians of 
both sexes, husbands with their wives and children, 
thronged together, and followed the monks with the 
bier, carrying the relics, and the holy vessels and 
church-books which they bore with them, thinking 
they had preserved all, house, lands, and goods, as 
long as they had these sacred companions of their 
flight. Seven stout Northumbrians devoted them 
selves especially to the charge of the bier, which they 
bore on their shoulders over such ground as was not 
passable for a horse and wain. They took their way 
across to the Cheviot-hills and Cumberland, where 
they were joined by Eardulf s friend Edred, abbot of 
Carlisle; then, seeing the course of the Danes by the 
fires which they kindled, they took a favourable op 
portunity to assemble at the mouth of the Cumber 
land river Derwent, where a ship had been provided 
to convey the bishop and abbot, with a few select 
followers, to the Irish shores. The body of St. Cuth- 
bert and the other relics and furniture were placed 
on board ; and those who were to share their exile 
withdrew with their spiritual fathers privately, and 
set sail, leaving the remainder of the flock in great 
dismay when they found they were deserted. Eard- 
ulf, however, appears to have taken this step with a 
doubting conscience ; and when a contrary wind and 
storm arose, he took it as a mark of the displeasure 
of God, and was right glad when he was landed after 
some perils at Whitherne, the ancient seat of Chris 
tianity in Galloway. A copy of the Gospels, of great 
value, beautifully written in Latin and Anglo-Saxon, 
and preserved in a case adorned with gold and jewels, 
was supposed to have been lost in the sea, but to 
their great joy it was shortly afterwards discovered 
on the shore. The Christians at Whitherne gave 
them a. hearty reception, and they remained here for 
some time; but the bishop was anxious to revisit his 


suffering and scattered flock in Northumberland. At 
length, hearing of Halden s death, he determined to 
return. They were joined, as before, by many de 
voted friends, and wandering about the hills and 
hiding in woods, they continued to assemble round 
the bier of St. Cuthbert for many months for their 
daily service of psalmody and prayer. There was 
at this time still preserved a small monastery at 
Crayke, the situation, in the midst of deep woods, 
having protected it from the Danes. Here the abbot 
Geve offered them a refuge; and they remained four 
months till the victories of Alfred having restored 
some degree of safety to the Christians in the north, 
Eardulf was enabled to fix his see, where it remained 
for more than a century, at Chester-le-Street, to the 
north of Durham. The other bishoprics of Ripon, 
Hexham, and Whitherne, were never afterwards re 

It is no wonder if, in the ages following, this 
flight of Eardulf, the preservation of the relics, and 
the strange escapes of this Christian flock, became 
the subject of many legendary tales. The almost 
total destruction of Christian priests and teachers had 
left the poor people of these northern counties in a 
state of religious destitution ; and the Danish con 
verts, who were henceforward mixed with the Saxons, 
were more ignorant and more superstitious than their 
predecessors, and never were equally enlightened or 
softened by the great truths of Christianity. But it 
is owing to the zeal and devoted patience of Eardulf, 
that the Church of Northumbria was still preserved. 
Without the public testimony afforded by his perilous 
journeys, it is probable that the labours of Columba s 
disciples, and the remembrance of Bede and his ex 
cellent associates, must have come in that province 
to a perpetual end. It was therefore with better rea 
son that the Christians of Northumbria in the next 



generations were proud of tracing their descent to 
some of those who had helped to protect the wan- 
flerers, and especially to the true-hearted band whc 
had guarded St. Cuthbert s bier. 



Where shall the holy cross find rest 
On a crown d monarch s mailed breast: 

Like some bright angel o er the darkling scene, 

Through court and camp he holds his heavenward course serene. 

The Christian Year. 

AN S necessity is God s opportunity. 
When the Christian realm of ancient 
England seemed to be on the brink of 
destruction, his providence raised up a 
man qualified by many eminent gifts 
both to restore the altar and maintain the throne. 
ALFRED, the fourth son of Ethelwolf, had been sent 
by his father at the age of seven years to Rome, to 
receive the rite of confirmation from Leo IV. It 
would seem that his father, not then expecting he 
would ever be called to wear the crown, had some 
thoughts of training him up for the service of the 
Church ; but the Saxons afterwards interpreted the 
anointing of the pope as a token of his future royalty. 
It was a custom in these times for godfathers to be 
present at a confirmation, and receive the candidate 
from the bishop s hand ; but the pope, in kindness to 
the English prince, called him his own godson. 1 His 

1 Ethelwerd, Chron. A.D. 854. 


education, however, was neglected, or he shewed no 
desire for instruction, till he was caught, as other un 
willing students have been, by the love of poetry and 
song. His mother-in-law Judith shewed him one day 
a beautifully written manuscript, with a capital letter 
elegantly adorned. This, she told him, contained the 
?ong to which he and his brothers had lately listened 
in the king s presence : " I will give it," she said, 
" to him who first learns to read it." Alfred began 
to learn his letters; and though good instructors 
were then scarce, from the destruction of learning 
in the wars, he from this time laid the foundation of 
that knowledge which has raised his name so fai 
above the generation in which he was born. 

Nothing could be more disastrous than the state 
of England when he came to the crown. He was no 
more than twenty-three years of age when his bro 
ther Ethered died, leaving a large Danish army in 
the country, with which he had fought many bloody 
battles, arid with which Alfred continued to fight 
after his death, till in one year he had met them nine 
times in open field. But their ships were still pouring 
fresh forces into the country ; and at the close of 
the year they were masters of all the province of 
Wessex, wherever they directed their march. The 
next year they wintered in London, then overran 
East Anglia and Mercia, and drove the last Mercian 
king Burhred, who had married Alfred s sister, over 
sea to take refuge and die at Rome. His wife ended 
her days in an Italian nunnery. They were now in 
possession of all England north of Thames, the Mer 
cians offering no resistance. But while they were 
thus engaged in other provinces, Alfred began to 
build a fleet, and in A.D. 875 gained his first victory 
over a small fleet of these pirates at sea. In the 
following years they were again in the west ; and in 
fbe seventh year of his reign their successful inroads 


had so broken the spirit of his people, that many 
began to fly across the sea to Ireland or France ; 
and the king with difficulty saved himself, with a 
small band of followers, by taking refuge in the 
woods and fastnesses of the Somersetshire moors. 
The first hope of better fortune shone upon the 
Saxons in Devonshire, where they slew one of the 
sea-kings and eight hundred of his men, and took a 
kind of sacred standard, the loss of which broke 
somewhat of the spirit of these fierce pagans. It 
was woven by the sisters of Inguar and Ubba, the 
brothers of the slain chief; and they are said to 
have divined by it the fortunes of the day. If the 
figure of a raven, which was represented on it, moved 
briskly in the wind, it was a sign of victory ; but if 
it drooped and hung heavily, their hopes fell with 
it. Not long after, Alfred returned from his retreat ; 
and by skilful marches cutting off the plundering 
parties, and at length with a superior force shutting 
them up within their camp at Edingdon in Wilt 
shire, drove them by terror and famine to terms of 
peace. Their king Godrun received baptism ; and 
obtaining from Alfred permission to keep the king 
dom of East Anglia, whose last king, Edmund, the 
saint of Bury, had been slain by the Danes a few 
years earlier, he died and was buried at Hadleigh in 
Suffolk, A.D. 890. There was a new and formidable 
invasion again towards the close of Alfred s reign ; 
but he had now found a way of building ships of 
better force than the Danes possessed ; and though 
the conn! ry suffered great ravages, he was victorious 
by sea and land. 

" It pleased God," says his friend who wrote his 
life, Asser, bishop of Sherborne, " to give this illus 
trious king the experience of both extremes of for 
tune ; to suffer him to be hard pressed by enemies, 
to be afflicted by adversities, to be humbled by 


losing the respect of his friends, as well as to gain 
victories over his foes, and to find prosperity in the 
rnidst of reverses ; that he might know that there is 
one Lord of all, to whom every knee shall bow, and 
in whose hand are the hearts of kings ; who putteth 
down the mighty from their seat, and exalteth the 
humble ; who willeth that his faithful ones in the 
height of success should sometimes feel the rod of 
adversity, that they may neither despair of his mercy 
when brought low, nor when exalted be proud of 
the honour they enjoy, but know to whom they owe 
it all. And these reverses came upon Alfred not 
without cause ; for in the beginning of his reign he 
was led astray by his youthful spirits : he neglected 
his graver duties ; and the poor, who came to him 
for justice against the mighty, obtained no redress. 
And when his kinsman St. Neot 2 warned him of his 
fault, and prophesied that great calamities would 
come upon him for it, he paid no regard to his ad 
monition. Since, therefore, the sins which men are 
guilty of must meet with punishment either in thi 
world or in that which is to come, it was a mark 
both of the truth and mercy of our Judge, that he 
suffered not the folly of the king to be unpunished 
in this life, designing to spare him in the day of 
strict account." 

Such is the sound moral lesson which this Chris 
tian teacher drew, and which, no doubt, Alfred him 
self drew, from his early afflictions. It is very sur 
prising that a prince, who during the thirty years of 
his reign had scarcely ten which were free from wars 
and inroads, and engagements by sea and land, while 
he was constantly commanding fleets and armies in 

1 Nothing is known further of this saint, whose name has 
remained appropriated to a town in Huntingdonshire, but that 
he went many times, probably with the charge of Peter-pence, 
which Ethelwolf and Alfred sent, to Rome. 


person, should yet have been able to accomplish so 
many of the most valuable works of peace. He not 
only checked the progress of ignorance and barbar 
ism in those troubled times, but revived learning 
both by encouragement and example ; he invited 
learned men into the country from other nations; 
he raised up new religious houses; he improved the 
whole plan of government and administration of the 
laws ; and became himself the best teacher of reli 
gion and restorer of Christianity in his realm. 

The school at Oxford, which seems to have been 
founded in archbishop Theodore s time, or, accord 
ing to Asser, had been an older foundation of Bri 
tish times, was now fallen into great decay. It was 
one of Alfred s first labours to restore it; and it was 
never afterwards lost, till the days when the two 
Universities became the resort of all the learning of 
England. Among the teachers whom he placed there 
was a learned clergyman from France, called Grim- 
bald, who was also, like Alcuin, a skilful architect. 
The ancient church of St. Peter in Oxford remains 
in great part as he built it. It is also not imnro- 

bable that some portions of the cathedral of Christ 
Church in that city are of his work ; and he also 
built the cathedral church at Winchester, the capital 
.city of Alfred s kingdom, which still shews some re- 


mains of Grimbald s architecture. 3 Another famous 
learned man whom he invited into the country was 
John Scot, commonly called Erigena, one of the 
Scots of Ireland, who had passed many years at the 
court of Charles the Bald, grandson of Charlemagne, 
in France. He was a man of lively wit ; but his wit 
sometimes tempted him to make imprudent attacks 
upon the great people with whom he associated. 
He did not spare the French monarch himself, when 
he was in one of these moods; and having been one 
day very severe upon a nobleman who was dining 
with them, Charles provoked him by asking the 
question, " What is the difference between a Scot 
and a sot?" " No more than this table s breadth," 
said Erigena, looking the emperor in the face, who 
sat opposite to him. When he had come to Eng 
land, Alfred gave him a pension and placed him at 
Oxford. When he had taught there foi some time, 
he removed to the abbey of Malmsbury, and assem 
bled a body of pupils in the seat where Aldhelm had 
done such good service to learning. Here, however, 
the poor teacher came to a miserable death. The 
long-continued wars in England had tended to make 
men s minds fierce and cruel ; and even the tender 
ness of youth is lost, when it is made familiar with 
scenes of blood. Whether Erigena had provoked 
the youths he taught by his caustic wit or severity 
of manner, or whether their own hatred and aver 
sion to discipline was the cause, they rushed upon 

s It has been supposed that Grimbald was the first archi 
tect in this country who raised an arched roof, such as is to be 
seen at St. Peter s, Oxford, and at Winchester, in the crypts or 
vaults of those churches. But it is plain from Alcuin s account 
of the church built by him and Eaubald at York, one hundred 
years earlier, that that church had an arched roof. Florence of 
Worcester, who lived soon after the Norman conquest, speaks 
of the magnificence of Alfred s buildings, of which probably 
some were then standing. 


him one day in his chair, with the iron pens which 
they then used in schools to write on waxen tablets, 
and murdered him with many stabs. 

In the lifetime of Erigena, a French monk named Radbert first taught the doctrine of tran- 
substantiation, as it is now taught by the Church of 
Rome ; that after the bread and wine have been 
consecrated in the holy communion, they become 
the same body and blood which our blessed Saviour 
took from the Virgin his mother; that their own 
substance is changed, and only this new substance 
remains. Erigena strongly opposed this novel and 
dangerous doctrine ; but it is doubtful, as his own 
work is lost, whether he did not run into the oppo 
site error of making the sacramental emblems only 
a sign or token of remembrance. He was rather a 
man of learning than a sound teacher of Christi 
anity. By his writings on the hard question of pre 
destination he gave great offence to pope Nicholas 
the First, who wrote to Charles the Bald to procure 
his dismissal from the court of France ; and this 
seems to have induced him to take refuge in Eng 
land. In other respects, he was a great help to the 
cause of knowledge, having travelled into Greece 
and other countries; and his name was long in high 
rori own at Oxford and abroad. 

The Church of England and king Alfred, who 
was the most enlightened member of it, did not 
receive the doctrine of transubstantiation ; else they 
would hardly have sheltered Erigena. Their doc 
trine was at this time much the same as was put 
forth by Bertram, or Ratram, a monk of Corbey in 
Saxony, who addressed a treatise upon the body and 
blood of our Lord to the emperor against Radbert s 
doctrine. Archbishop Elfric and other English 
teachers, about a hundred years afterwards, taught 
the same doctrine as Bertram s ; and it was this book 

1 2 



which first opened the eyes of bishop Ridley and 
archbishop Cranmer at the time of the Reformation. 

There is a curious story of three Scottish monks 
from Ireland, who in Alfred s reign landed in Corn 
wall, and w^re kindly received. They had put to 
sea in a small boat without oars or sail ; and taking 
seven days provision with them, were drifted on 
the seventh day to the English coast. It seems they 
had made a vow to live as pilgrims in the first 
foreign land to which the waves should carry them. 
Ireland still continued to send out men of learning 
at this time, and Alfred perhaps employed these 
monks also in the work of education ; but their 
strange venture shews that their learning was not 
unmixed with ignorant superstition. 

Alfred imitated the practice of Charlemagne and 
his successor in having a school at the court. Here 
he himself continued his studies with Plegmund, who 
became, A.D. 890, archbishop of Canterbury, Wer- 
ferth bishop of Worcester, and Asser, a learned 
Welchman from St. David s, who was afterwards 
bishop of Sherborne. With their help he translated 
into the old English language many portions of 
Scripture ; the History of the English Church by 
the Venerable Bede ; St. Gregory s Pastoral Care, 
a manual of useful directions to the clergy ; and the 
Consolations of Boethius, a treatise of a Christian 
philosopher of the sixth century, full of piety and 
beauty. In these and other works Alfred did not 
simply translate from the originals, but often added 
thoughts of his own. This is more especially true 
of his translation of Boethius, which he so altered as 
to make it in some degree a new work. Here his 
eldest son Edward, who succeeded him in the king 
dom, and some of the young noblemen of his court, 
were trained up, and taught to learn the Psalms of 
David, and to read books of history and poetry in 


their own tongue. His second son, Ethehvard, ne 
sent to study at Oxford ; and there he died, with the 
reputation of a very erudite man, before the death 
of his elder brother. 

The intention of these learned labours was, how 
ever, more especially to improve the state of know 
ledge among the clergy, that by them it might be 
spread among the people. He saw, what Bede had 
remarked to archbishop Egbert, that it would be 
better for them to use their native language in the 
public service of God, than to use Latin prayers, 
which they could neither explain nor understand. 
He found that there were but few of the English, to 
the south of the Humber, who could translate an\ 
Latin writing into English. It must be remembered 
that the Danes, wherever they went, had destroyed 
the monasteries and slain the monks ; and particu 
larly at Winchester they had massacred the whole 
number in A.D. 867- With their destruction learn 
ing had also perished. The other clergy of those 
times, who resided on country estates or in villages, 
were generally destitute of learning, and were often 
employed in the office of reeves or country magis 
trates ; an office which in those days it was not easy 
to make suit with the office of a parish-priest. But 
at this time the disposition of the people towards 
monasteries had undergone a great change. The 
piety of Alfred had led him to found a new mon 
astery, when peace was restored, at Athelney in 
Somerset, the place where he had found refuge from 
the Danes. But there were no clergymen in Wessex 
who had any inclination to become monks. His first 
abbot was a native of Saxony, bred in the Christian 
colony of Winfrid. And here, again, an act followed 
strongly marking the savage spirit of the time. There 
were two monks, one a priest, the other a deacon, 
natives of France, who had. come to serve under hi* 


rule ; but some quarrel having arisen, these two 
Frenchmen murdered the Saxon abbot, as he prayed 
before the altar ! The bishops of Winchester, after 
the destruction of the monks, for nearly a hundred 
years later, chose to have only secular canons, or 
clergymen who might be either married or single, to 
do the service of the cathedral, without subjecting 
them to any monkish rule ; and this was done gene 
rally in all the other cathedrals throughout England. 
Alfred did not interfere with it; but wishing to have 
a monastery and school for the church at his capital, 
he built and endowed what was called the New Min 
ster, and placed Grimbald at the head of it, in one 
of the last years of his reign. This minster was 
completed by his son Edward, and became after 
wards known by the name of Hyde Abbey, near 

The improvements which Alfred made in the 
government and laws of England do not belong so 
much to the plan of this work, except as they shew 
the progress of Christian principles on society. The 
division of the realm into counties was probably older 
than Alfred s time; as it was the custom for the Saxon 
princes to give shires, or shares of their kingdoms, to 
be governed by earls or eldermen, according to the 
old Gothic or German practice. By degrees these 
became of fixed boundaries, and at a very early 
period were not much different from what they are 
now. But Alfred divided the shires again into hun 
dreds and wapentakes, and subjected these to a larger 
division called a lath, containing three or more hun 
dreds. Thus the magistrates of hundreds were sub 
ject to the magistrate of the lath, and those of the 
laths, again, to the sheriffs of counties, or shire-reeves. 
By this means a great step was made towards the 
subordination of the whole country under one plan 
of government : and every person who thought him- 


self aggrieved had the means of finding justice near 
his own abode, by bringing his cause first before the 
hundred-court, from which he might appeal to the 
lath or county-court ; and, after all, to the king and 
his council, if he could not otherwise be satisfied. 
To discourage the constant occurrence of private 
war, or quarrels in which nobles and commoners 
often met together and fought with weapons, and 
lives were continually lost, he obliged every man 
to find bail or securities for his conduct; who, if 
he transgressed the law and was unable to pay the 
fine, were obliged to share it among them. This 
was a regulation which made it much more the in 
terest of private persons to keep the peace of their 
neighbourhood from suffering disturbance. He was 
equally watchful in the care which he took of the 
administration of the laws, having the decisions of 
the county-court? constantly reported to him ; and 
if he found an ignorant sentence, he sent for the 
magistrate, and threatened him with the loss of his 
office, if he would not study to qualify himself 
better. So that it was now a common thing for 
earls and sheriffs, who had been ill taught in their 
youth, to be seen taking to their books, and reading 
the records of adjudged cases in Anglo-Saxon law. 
Capital punishments were very rarely inflicted 
by the laws in Anglo-Saxon times. Even secret 
murderers, or poisoners as they were called, were 
only ordered to be banished. There was only one 
crime which the laws of Alfred excepted from this 
general mercy. If a vassal or slave was proved to 
have betrayed his master, he was to die the death. 
His crime is compared to that of the Jews who 
betrayed and crucified their Lord. With the same 
feeling the old Italian poet Dante, in his Vision of 
the place of torments, places Brutus and Cassius, the 
murderers of Julius Caesar, in the lowest depths of 


misery with Judas Iscariot. Still it may, perhaps, 
be doubted, strange as such opinions may now 
appear, whether they were not founded on some 
thing more like Christian principles, than theirs who 
in these days follow the old heathen republicans in 
exalting these patriots of the dagger to the skies, 
and write themselves under the names of Junius 
Brutus in the newspapers. 

We must not, however, praise even Alfred at 
the expense of truth. In the preface to his laws, he 
begins by reciting the parts of Scripture which con 
tain such moral laws as are the foundation of all 
law. Most of these are from the twentieth chapter 
of Exodus, and the three following chapters. But 
where he should give the second commandment, we 
find it left out, and instead of it, after the other 
nine, the twenty-third verse of the twentieth chap 
ter : " Make not to thyself gods of gold or of silver." 
Alcuin would not have done this. It is a sign that 
by this time the popes had taught the English some 
thing of favour to the practice of image-worship ; 
for that verse is not enough to express the law, 
without the commandment that goes before it, and, 
indeed, speaks of a different kind of idolatry, the 
worshipping of false gods ; while the other speaks 
of worshipping the true God under a false image. 
The omission, indeed, falls far short of the com 
mon practice in popish catechisms at the present 
day ; where the second commandment is left out, 
and the tenth, to make up the number, is divided 
into two. 3 

Another sign of corrupt superstition, which was 
brought from Rome not long before Alfred s time, 

3 Some have supposed that the Jews anciently divided the 
tenth commandment into two ; but the contrary is evident from 
Philo s Treatise on the Decalogue. See Bp. Taylor s Rule of 
Conscience, b. ii. c. ii. 6. 


and is mentioned in his laws, is, that the Christians 
were now taught to keep the festival of the assump 
tion of the Virgin Mary. This festival seems to have 
begun in some legendary tale of the blessed Virgin 
having been taken up into heaven, like Enoch and 

The laws of Alfred shew a regard to the liberty 
and safety of the poorer classes. One of them enacts 
a penalty against a kind of grievance, which throws 
some light on the state of old English manners. No 
man is to shave the head of a churl, or slave bound 
to labour on the soil, to make him look like a lord s 
fool or like a priest. The penalty is ten shillings 
for the one insult, and thirty for the other. It was 
a common practice, as is well known, for noblemen 
and rich commoners in early times, as well as kings, 
to retain a domestic fool, or licensed jester, to divert 
his master at an idle hour, or relieve his melancholy 
These poor fellows, who, if they had no-t much wit 
in themselves, were the cause of wit in others, were 
condemned to wear a fantastic dress, and often dis 
tinguished by a shaven crown. It would be a coarse 
kind of practical jest to shave the head of one who 
was not ambitious of wearing the cap and bells, after 
the fool s fashion ; but to make him in mockery wear 
the look of a priest seems to have been properly 
considered a more grave offence. It was an injury 
sometimes done in cruel scorn by chiefs to their 
captives in war. 

The piety of Alfred was deep and sincere. He 
divided the twenty-four hours of the day into three 
equal parts, giving eight hours to sleep and refresh 
ment, eight to the public duties of government, and 
eight to the service of religion. In this third por 
tion we must reckon not only the hours of praver 
and of the holy communion, which he received daily, 
but also those that were employed in studies and 


writings, all designed to set forth the glory of God. 
The way of measuring time then known to the 
Saxons, if any of them possessed an instrument for 
it, was by the hour-glass , an instrument which 
required continual turning, and was unserviceable 
unless constantly attended to at the end of the hour. 
The first clock of which we have any account was 
sent by Abdalla, king of Persia, A.D. 807, by the 
hands of two monks of Jerusalem, as a present to 
the emperor Charlemagne. It was a very curious 
instrument, with a number of little brazen balls, 
which at the close of each hour dropped down or 
played upon a set of bells underneath, and sounded 
the end of the hour: it had also twelve figures of 
horsemen, which were made to move out and in 
again when the twelve hours were completed. This 
invention, however, was not imitated in Europe till 
long afterwards, unless by one or two artists, whose 
ingenuity was not enough to recommend it. It was 
not commonly known till the time of the crusades, 
when the Christians of Western Europe seem to have 
learnt it, with other mathematical inventions, from 
the Saracens. Alfred had found a description of 
an instrument for measuring time in Boethius, which 
appears to have suggested to him an improvement. 
He caused some wax candles to be made, which at 
this time were commonly used in churches and at 
private houses of the rich, of such size and thick 
ness as to burn each exactly for four hours ; and by 
marks set upon them he could at any time tell how 
far the hours were gone. These were enclosed in a 
horn case, that they might be secure from the effect 
of drafts of air, and that the light might be less 
offensive to the eye by day than if they stood within 
glass or unguarded; 4 they were always with him 

I see no reason for supposing, as Warton and Mr. Soamefc 
<to, that this was done for want of glass. Bede tells us that the 


wherever he went, in his tent in the field, as well as 
at home in his palace ; and his domestic chaplains 
were instructed to watch them, and at certain times 
to give him notice of the hour. 

Alfred devoted half his revenues to religion and 
works of charity. This portion was divided into four 
parts ; one of which he gave in alms to the poor, 
the second to his OAVH two monasteries, the third to 
the schools which he had founded, and the fourth to 
any occasional calls for the aid of Christianity, either 
to help the distressed religious houses at home, or 
assist suffering Christians abroad. Thus, hearing, 
probably by the report of pilgrims who had visited 
the Holy Land, that the Christians c-f St. Thomas 
in India were in great distress from the Saracens, he 
sent Swithelm, bishop of Sherborne, with Athelstan, 
one of his thanes, to carry his alms to them. These 
Christians seem to have lived in Arabia Felix, where 
the gospel is said to have been first planted by St. 
Thomas or St. Bartholomew ; and the inhabitants 
of this region were called Indians in early Christian 
times. From thence they seem to have gone to the 
island of Socotora, near the mouth of the Red Sea, 
and afterwards sent missionaries to the East Indies 
and China. In these days a man who wore a pil 
grim s dress could travel safely in lands that were 
full of danger. The Christians venerated a pilgrim s 
staff ; and even the Mahometans allowed the holy 
man, although of a different faith, peacefully to visit 

Saxons had learnt to make church-lamps and other vessels on 
glasi two hundred years before. Nor do I see any reason for 
believing that the palace of Alfred, or of the Saxon kings before 
him, when the art was once known, were so much worse than 
the monks dormitories at Jarrow, as to be without glass to the 
windows. The notion of Alfred s using a stable lantern to read 
by, instead of a wax light without a case, is not a happy one 
the object of this invention was not light, but the measurenwi 
of time. 


the holy sepulchre. Swithelm fulfilled his errand, 
and returned prosperously home, bringing some 
Eastern jewels and spices with him, about A.D. 884. 4 

It was not only by his laws that Alfred sought 
to better the condition of the poor, and not merely 
by the uncertain gift of alms. His will, which, ac 
cording to the custom of those times, he brought 
before his Council of the Wise to be ratified during 
his life, about the year A.D. 885, makes mention of 
a great number of slaves, particularly on his estates 
at Cheddar and Domerham in Somerset, whom he 
had raised to the condition of free tenants, only 
making his petition to them, that they would after 
his death continue to cultivate those lands with his 
son Edward for their landlord, rather than take to 
a new occupation. 

Thus did this good man fulfil the office of a 
Christian king. His own high view of his duties 
he has left recorded in his Paraphrase of Boethius 
already mentioned, and most truly did he act up to 
them : " I never well liked," he says, " nor strongly 
desired the possession of this earthly kingdom ; but 
when I was in possession, I desired materials for the 
work I was to do, that I might fitly steer the vessel, 
and rule the realm committed to my keeping. There 
are materials for every craft, without which a man 
cannot work at his craft ; and a king also must have 
his materials and tools. And what are these? He 
must have his land well peopled ; he musi have 
prayer-men, and army-men, and work-men. Wun- 
out these tools r.o king can shew his skill. 

" His materials are, provision for these three 
brotherhoods, land to dwell in, gifts, and weapons, 
and meat, and ale, and clothes, and whatever else 
they need. Without these he cannot keep his tools* 

* SM- Chron. A.D. 883. Malmsb. ii. 122. 


and without his tools he cannot do any of those 
"hings that it is commanded him to do. Therefore 
I desired materials, that my craft and power might 
not be given up and lost. 

" But all craft and power will soon be worn out 
and put to silence, if they be without wisdom. What 
ever is done through folly, man can never make that 
to be a good craft. Therefore I desired wisdom. 
This is now what I can most truly say. I have 
desired to live worthily while I lived, and after my 
death to leave to men that should be after me a 
remembrance in good works." 

Such a remembrance he did obtain. His own 
life, always weak, and often afflicted with bodily 
disease, ended A.D. 901, at the age of fifty-two. He 
left a son to succeed him, who, though "inferior to 
his father in many ways, did much to strengthen the 
kingdom by his successes against the Danes, and 
laboured to preserve good government. And this 
son, king Edward the Elder, is supposed to have 
founded a school of learning at Cambridge, like 
that of Alfred s at Oxford ; thus giving a begin 
ning to the second English university. His eldest 
daughter Ethelfleda married Ethelred, earl of Mer- 
cia; and, being early left a widow, most bravely 
aided her warlike brother, fortifying many towns as 
places of strength and refuge in the chances of war, 
and yet following her father s works of mercy, set 
ting free her vassals, and founding religious houses 
at Chester, Shrewsbury, and other towns ; which 
from this time began to be more inhabited than 
while there was no dancer of invasion. 



If the rude wasto of human error bear 

One flower of hope, oh, pass and leave it there. 


JIBERTY and religion being thus nobly 
maintained in England, nothing mean 
while could be more miserable and dis 
graceful than the state of the see of 
Rome. After the death of pope For- 
mosus, A.D. 901, there arose a bitter strife for the 
succession, and one wicked and ambitious priest 
after another was exalted to a short-lived power, 
which they most unworthily administered. Stephen 
VI., who held the office for about a twelvemonth, 
not long after Formosus, ordered all the consecra 
tions made by his predecessor to be annulled ; then 
another pope succeeded for three months ; then one 
of twenty days ; then came Leo V. and Christopher, 
who gained the chair by bribery or violence ; and 
in A.D. 907, Sergius III., who threw Christopher 
into prison, and taking up the body of Formosus 
a second time, as Stephen is said before to have 
mutilated it of its fingers, cut off the head of the 
mouldering corpse, and threw the remains into the 
river Tiber : "An act full of horror," says a Spanish 


historian, who records it ; " and no wonder if at 
such a time abuses and false doctrines crept into 
the Church." But indeed such scenes as these were 
of no uncommon occurrence at Rome for many 
generations after this period. And scarcely one 
good or salutary act can be shewn as done by any 
pope for more than one hundred and fifty years. 

England was, therefore, left to the counsels or 
its own bishops, and the intercourse with Rome was 
much broken off. Plegmund, archbishop of Canter 
bury, the friend and fellow-student of Alfred, now 
seeing the kingdom of Edward much increased in 
the west, advised, A.D. 910, that three new bishop 
rics should be founded in those counties one at 
Wells, which still remains ; one at St. Petroc s, or 
Bodrain, afterwards at St. Germain s in Cornwall : 
and one at Crediton, Devon ; which two last have 
since been united at Exeter. The bishopric of 
Sherhorne was also divided, a new see being founded 
at Wilton. Three other bishoprics having become 
vacant a short time before, he consecrated seven 
bishops in one day. It is said by some historians 
favourable to the pope, that pope Formosus put him 
upon this task; but seeing that unfortunate pon 
tiff., by all accounts, died nine or ten years before, 
it does riot seem probable. It is much more likely 
that Plegmund, who is said to have been a venerable, 
wise, and diligent prelate, did not need a pope to 
prompt him to do his duty. And as this was done 
in the days of that wolfish pope Sergius, of whom 
we have just made mention, it is much more likely 
that king Edward the Elder followed the counsel o"f 
his father s friend, than the admonitions of such a 
person as then presided at Rome. 

There was great need of good counsel for the 
Church at this period. In all the northern and east- 
ern provinces of England, Christianity had hardly a 



place to shew its head. The two bishops of Ea&t 
Anglia, Humbert of Elmham and Wilred of Dun- 
wich, had been slaughtered by the Danes ; and these 
heathens had obtained such complete dominion over 
Norfolk and Suffolk, that for more than eighty years 
no new bishop was appointed. Elhard, bishop of 
Dorchester, had also fallen in battle ; for at such a 
time many of the Saxon bishops buckled on their 
armour, and died doing their best for the defence of 
their country. To his see Plegmund now appointed 
a successor. At such a time, we may well suppose 
that, notwithstanding the labours of Alfred to restore 
the learning of the clergy, the troubled state of the 
country hindered those labours from taking due ef 
fect. Superstition continued to increase. Of Fri- 
thestan, appointed by Plegmund to the bishopric of 
Winchester, it is recorded that he often Avalked by 
night with his clerks round the churchyard of the 
minster, singing psalms for the repose of the dead. 
" May they rest in peace !" he said, as he concluded 
his prayers on one occasion ; and in the solemn 
pause that ensued, he thought he heard a sound as 
of a full choir from the tombs, answering " Amen." 
He most likely heard some echo of his own voice 
in the stillness of the night, to which his mistaken 
piety gave this unearthly character. Byrnstan, who 
succeeded him, is by some accounts stated to have 
done this ; but it is probable that this superstition 
had many imitators. Together with such mistaken 
devotion, however, was often united much sincere 
piety, humility, and charity. This bishop was the 
founder of an hospital for the poor at Winchester, 
and daily ministered to the wants of a number of 
unfortunate persons ruined by the disasters of the 
war, bringing water for their feet, and waiting on 
them himself as they were fed at his table. He died 
suddenly, in the act of prayer, before the altar; and 


his death was so unforeseen, that for a time his 
friends thought he had been poisoned, till one of 
them had his suspicions removed by a dream. 

A less innocent kind of superstitious practice was 
the trial by ordeal. We hear very little of it in early 
Saxon times, though it is mentioned in some copies 
of king Ina s laws. But it prevailed much after the 
coming of the Danes. It was derived from the old 
paganism. 1 It is plain, in the later Saxon kingdom, 
and under the first Norman sovereigns, that this kind 
of trial was very popular, and that many had great 
faith in it. The laws seem never to have commanded 
it in Christian times, but permitted it, if an accused 
person chose to resort to it, and gave directions how 
it was to be applied. The Church-teachers provided 
a form of prayer to be used with it, and so sanctioned 
it as an immediate appeal to the judgment of God. 
The usual cases were, when either a person, who had 
once been convicted of false swearing, tried by this 
means to regain his credit ; or when a person, against 
whom there was presumptive proof of crime, at 
tempted to gain an acquittal. He was to give no 
tice to the priest three days before, and on those 
three days to taste nothing but bread and salt, and 
herbs and water. On each day he was also to hear 
mass and make his offering. On the day of his trial 
he was to receive the Lord s supper, and swear that 
he was innocent in law of the charge made against 
him. If the trial was to be made with hot iron, nine 
feet were measured on the pavement of the church, 
and the plate being laid on a supporter at one end 
of the nine feet, he was to carry it to the other. As 
soon as he had reached it, he threw down his weight 
and hastened to the altar, where his hand was bound 

1 A practice of the same kind was known to prevail among 
tbe ancient Greeks and Romans ; and several ways of ordeal are 
be in use among the Hindoos. 


and sealed up, and was not to be examined till three 
days after. Another ordeal was, to remove a stone 
at the depth of a man s wrist, or sometimes at the 
depth of his elbow, when the charge was more se 
rious, out of boiling water. A third was, to plunge 
an accused person by a rope an ell and a half deep 
in water; and if he sank immediately, he was drawn 
out and declared innocent. This strange super 
stition did not come to an end in our native coun 
try for many centuries. It was first forbidden by 
law in the time of king Henry III. about A.D. 1219 ; 
but some remnant of the old paganism remained long 
among the rude and ignorant, who are known to 
have tried such experiments as the water-ordeal 
only a few generations back, on poor women who 
were suspected of witchcraft. 

This superstition came entirely from our Gothic 
or Saxon or Danish forefathers. The popes never 
encouraged it. On the contrary, Alexander II., the 
godfather of William the Conqueror, absolutely for 
bade it ; and when it was put down by law in Eng 
land, itAvas a benefit which the pope s lawyers brought 
in by the canon-law ; Henry III., in his letter to the 
justices who were on the northern circuit, giving as 
his reason that it was forbidden at Rome. It was de 
clared by the canon-law to be an invention of Satan 
against the commandment, " Thou shalt not tempt 
the Lord thy God." But this was long afterwards. 
The superstitious Saxons compared it to the deliver 
ance of Noah in the flood, and of the three children 
in the furnace. So hard is it to root out a false opi 
nion once popularly received, to keep faith pure from 
superstition, and neither to reject nor add to sacred 
truth. May God grant that his Church, which no 
longer strays in the wilderness of superstition, may 
never be delivered over to the bondage of unbelief! 

The laws of Edward the Elder and other Saxon 


kings contain, besides some notice of ordeals, an 
order for the punishment of witches and wizards. 
Before we condemn this, we must remember that 
such arts are still professed in the northern parts of 
Europe ; that gipsy fortune-tellers may still be seen 
under a hedge, able to impose on the weak and cre 
dulous ; and that there is still a slight regard paid 
by country people to Moore s Almanac, and a hank 
ering after some very simple charms and spells. The 
reliance which is now placed on such things is some 
thing between jest and earnest; but there is still 
enough to shew how this superstition held sway for 
merly among the natives of this country. It is most 
likely that, in old times, there were many bold de 
ceivers, who practised the same arts that are com 
monly to be found in all heathen countries, and 
made them a cloak for hateful crimes. It was, 
therefore, a right act of the Christian lawgivers in 
Edward s and his son Edmund s reign to put them 
down. And the law which speaks of them very re 
markably points out the kind of crimes which were 
commonly joined with witchcraft; it passes a penalty 
of transportation on all witches, wizards, perjured 
persons, poisoners, secret murderers, and brothel- 
keepers. Some of these characters may have walked 
disguised as witches even in this nineteenth century. 2 

2 I take the following example from a respectable York 
shire weekly journal : 

On the 20th of March, A.D. 1809, Mary Bateman, a mur 
deress, was executed at York. She was born at Asenby, near 
Thirsk, A.D. 1768, and having married and taken up her abode 
at Leeds, at the age of thirty became a witch or dealer in charms 
by profession. Her instrument was poison. After practising 
her arts upon a number of persons, whom she seems to have 
persuaded that they were labouring under an evil wish, by ad 
ministering baneful drugs in small quantities, and extorting 
money for the spells by which she pretended to deliver them, 
she was directed by a young woman, whom she had duped, 
to the family of William Perigo, a small clothier at Bramley. 


This is not the proper place to inquire whether 
there may or may not have been more than cheat or 
imposture; whether, in other ages of the world, there 
may have been persons, like the magicians of Pha 
raoh, who were enabled to do wonders beyond the 
powers of nature, by the help of evil spirits. The 
business of true religion is always to contend against 
the rulers of the darkness of this world ; and the law 
against witches, as well as that against shaving the 
jjead of a poor churl, may now be laid by, for other 
statutes more suited to meet the evil of the day. But 
it was probably not ill-timed when first enacted; it 
marks rather the power of Christianity over one de 
ceit of Satan, though others were still mixed up with 
forms of worship and administration of the law. 

The period from the time of Alfred to the Nor 
man Conquest was indeed one of the darkest that the 
Christian Church has ever undergone. On the con 
tinent of Europe, the empire of Charlemagne was 
broken up, and miserable wars of petty kings threw 
all back into the old confusion The Danes and 
Northmen were making descents upon France and 
Germany, and inflicted upon those countries losses 
not much less grievous than England had suffered 

This man s wife was in ill health, and u was supposed some 
evil eye had been turned upon her. The witch attributed it to 
an imaginary person, whom she called Miss Blythe ; and keep 
ing up the delusion, found means to get from them all their 
money, about 70/., their best clothes, and a great part of their 
furniture. At length, when they had no more to give, and be 
came clamorous for the fulfilment of her promises of health, 
wealth, and happiness, she determined to secure herself from 
detection by putting an end to their lives. She gave them poi 
son, under the pretence of administering a charm. The wife 
died ; but the man after dreadful sufferings, recovered ; and 
now his eyes being opened to the miserable cheats by which he 
had so long been deluded to his ruin, he laid his case before the 
magistrates, and this led to the committal and following trial 
and execution of this remarkable culprit. 


And at this time there was scarcely any power in 
the teachers of Christianity to check the progress of 
misrule. The monasteries were plundered, or abused 
by their own presiding rulers to licentious living 
and disorder. One name only, that of Odo, abbot 
of Clugny, is mentioned with respect. He was born 
in the French province of Anjou, of humble parents, 
about A.D. 880; and after obtaining a great reputa 
tion for his learning and piety, which gained him 
employment as an ambassador among the barbarous 
kings and princes of those days, when few but poor 
monks like himself would undertake the office, he 
became a great reformer of monasteries ; and in A.D. 
927 was made abbot of Clugny in Burgundy, where 
his rule was in such reputation, that the order of 
Cluniac monks became a new religious order in the 
Church. It afterwards produced many men of learn 
ing ; and some monasteries under this rule were 
founded in England. It is told of Odo, (hat his 
piety was owing to the care of a good father, who 
constantly read the Gospels at his table. He was 
once on a journey with a few of his monks on some 
public business, when he fell into the hands of a 
band of robbers ; but being employed at that mo 
ment, according to their custom, in chanting one of 
the daily services of psalms and prayers, they walked 
on without attending to the danger, though they saw 
the robbers waiting for them in advance ; and this 
fearless trust in the divine protection had such an 
effect on the captain of the lawless band, that he 
would not suifer his men to lay a hand upon them. 

In England, when Athelstan, son of Edward, 
A.D. 938, at the great battle of Brunton in North 
umberland, 3 had completely broken the power of the 

3 The place has been disputed ; but Dr. Bosworth supposes 
it to hive been here. It seems to be the same with " Broninis 
urbs," mentioned in Eddy s Life of Wilfrid. 


northern Danes, and the Saxon sway and Christianity 
were restored, the pagans who were now settled in 
the northern and eastern provinces began to receive 
the knowledge of the truth, which was always im 
posed as a condition of peace by the Saxon lawgivers. 
On this occasion, as before among those Danes whom 
Edward had reduced to submission, some laws were 
passed to enforce their payment of tithes and church- 
offerings, which were not at first willingly observed. 
By degrees, however, the number of sincere converts 
increased ; and thus it was providentially ordered, 
that before the second more successful invasion under 
Sweyn and Knute towards the end of this century, 
many of their own countrymen were ready to aid the 
Saxon Christians in the work of the gospel. It is 
remarkable also, that at this dark time the Welch 
Christians enjoyed an interval of prosperity under 
the reign of Howel the Good, who joined together 
the three provinces of North and South Wales and 
Powysland under his sceptre, A.D. 907-948. From 
him these ancient Britons received a code of laws, 
which are said to have remained in force till the 
principality was at last united to England under the 
Norman Edward ; and this prince wisely provided 
for the peace of his dominions by sending presents 
and doing homage to Edward the Elder and Athel- 
stan. 4 

4 The Howel mentioned in the Saxon Chronicle A.D. 922, 
926, is called in one place king of North Wales ; in the other, 
king of West Wales, which in other places means Cornwall. 
But Cornwall was subdued by Egbert a century before. Burh- 
red, king of Mercia, had subdued North Wales, with the assist 
ance of Ethelwolf, A.D. 853. All the princes of Wales had sub 
mitted to Alfred, who had a viceroy ruling it for him, A.D. 897. 
After the reign of Alfred, the native princes seem to have held 
it more or less independently. 

Mr. Soames stems to suppose that this Howel was a king 
of Cornwall, which he considers to have been independent till 
Athelstan s time. Anglo-Saxon Church, p. 163. John of 


The Church, however, did not immediately re 
cover from the blows inflicted in these long wars. 
A difference arose within itself, whether the monas 
teries should be restored, or whether the Church 
should be left entirely to the bishops and the secular 
clergy. Many of the bishops and earls were against 
the revival ot the monasteries ; and Wulf helm, arch 
bishop of Canterbury, who was one of the chief 
, ounsellors of Athelstan, seems to have been of this 
party. In the laws of this king, which appear to 
have been passed after the battle of Brunton, with 
the advice of Wulf helm and the other bishops, there 
are many enactments for the increase of country- 
churches, and the payment of tithes, and the respect 
to be paid to priests; but nothing is said of monas 
teries. The king direct that his reeves, or bailiffs, 
on all his estates, afford food and clothing, each to 
one poor person, from the property under their 
charge, " as they value God s mercy and the king s 
love." If this is neglected, they are to pay a fine of 
thirty shillings, to be distributed to the poor in the 
nearest town, in the presence of the bishop ; not by 

Tinmouth is his authority, a chronicler of the fourteenth cen 
tury. But he seems to have mistaken a statement of Malms- 
bury, who says that Athelstan expelled the Welch inhabitants 
of the town, dwelling as they then did conjointly with the 
Saxons. We have seen that Winfrid was educated at a Saxon 
monastery in Exeter two centuries before. Edward the Elder 
dates his laws at Exeter. And archbishop Plegmund founds 
two sees, Crediton in Devon, and St. Petroc s, Cornwall, A.JJ. 
910. And Alfred in his will leaves many estates in Devon to 
his relatives, and speaks of " Tregony-shire," or Cornwall, as 
part of his dominions. That he was also master of South Wales 
appears from the further fact, that two Welch bishops of St. 
David s, and one of Llandaff, came to archbishop Ethered for 
consecration. Edward the Elder, in A D. 918, paid forty pounds 
for the ransom of a Welch bishop from the Danes. I conclude, 
therefore, there is some error in the second entry in the Saxon 
Chronicle, and that the Howel mentioned is the famous Welch 
Hywel Dha. 


the abbot of the monastery. Priests ordained to the 
second order of ministry in the Church are to be 
esteemed as holding the rank of thanes or gentle 
men. And what is of most importance, a thane s 
rank might be obtained by a Saxon churl or franklin, 
if he was rich enough to possess about five hundred 
acres of land, a seat at the town-gate (in the grand 
jury), to be entitled to a place in the Council of the 
Wise (to be elected as a member of parliament), and 
if he had a church with a bell-tower on his estate. 
There can be no doubt that such a law as this had 
a great effect in increasing the number of country- 
churches. It seems to have been passed in further 
ance of the designs of archbishop Theodore ; but it 
is almost the earliest certain notice that we have 
of the progress of parish -churches under the Saxon 
kings. It has sometimes been supposed that there 
were but few country-churches in these early times ; 
but it may be questioned whether the number was 
not better proportioned to the wants of the popula 
tion than it is at present. There were many parts of 
the country where there were more than two-thirds 
of the land left in the old wild forests; and the popu 
lation was very small, scattered in a few hamlets here 
and there. Some of these were undoubtedly far from 
a church, and could scarcely have heard a preacher, 
unless when a charitable monk went on his travels, 
or a hermit fixed his cell among them. But still 
there were many villages in the most woody di-stricts, 
where a church had been built and a priest resided. 
In Northamptonshire, where three of the old forests 
are yet left in part, and which was most thinly in 
habited in Saxon times, there were at the Conquest 
more than sixty village-churches, while the county- 
town contained eight or nine three or four more 
than it has now. In Derbyshire there were not 
fewer than fifty, and five at least in the county-town. 


These are exclusive of monasteries and the churches 
belonging to them ; of which there were three or 
four in Northamptonshire, without reckoning Peter 
borough. In the town of Newark and the manor 
round it, including twelve or fourteen villages, were 
ten churches. In Lincolnshire, which was one of the 
most populous and thriving counties before the Con 
quest, there were more than two hundred village- 
churches, a third of the present number, without 
reckoning those in Lincoln and Stamford, or the 
monasteries. 5 

Yet it seems right to believe, that at this time 
the state of society was not such that the business 
of religion could be carried on without these houses 
of education for the young and friendless, and of 
refuge for the oppressed. Besides which, there 
would be a natural feeling of nity for those who had 
borne their full part in the sufferings from the pagan 
foe. By the effect of long-continued distractions the 
people had become wild and turbulent ; bands of 
robbers infested the country; and "the inhabitants 
of the villages ceased in Israel." Edmund, who suc 
ceeded Athelstan, in his attempt to put these ma 
rauders down, was mortally stabbed by a bold thief 
at his own board, A.D. 946. It is probable, there 
fore, that many religious and merciful men were at 
this time inclined to revive the monasteries, as a 
means of restoring peace to the country, and soften 
ing the people s manners. 

We must already have remarked how often these 
religious retreats served in ancient England for places 
of refuge to unfortunate or aged princes. The time 
was not yet come when this use was to be discon 
tinued. Wiglaf, the last independent king of Mercia, 
when he fled from Egbert of Wessex, found shelter 

* See the map of Lincolnshire at the end of this chapter. 


for some time in the abbey of Croyland ; and in his 
warm gratitude to the faithful monks, he gave them 
his coronation-robe to turn into church-vestments; a 
splendid suit of embroidered hangings, representing 
the siege of Troy, for the ornament of the church ; 
his silver cup or crucible, embossed with figures of 
savage men fighting with serpents ; and also his 
drinking-horn, that the elders of the monastery might 
drink out of it on the festivals of the saints, and 
amidst their benedictions might sometimes remember 
the donor. 6 There was now an unfortunate king of 
the Scots, who had taken the mighty name of Con- 
stantine; but being allied with the Danes against 
Athelstan, and having partaken of their overthrow at 
Brunton, was glad to shave his head and live quietly 
as a monk at St. Andrew s for the rest of his days. 
An old Scottish chronicle tells his history : 

Heddi s son, callit Constantino, 
Kyng was thritty years and nine ; 
Kyng he cessit for to be, 
And in St. Androi s a kyldee ; 7 
And there he liffit yeres five, 
And abbot made endit his lyve. 

Athelstan himself, whether feeling something of pity 
for such a change, or under a sense of remorse for 
the death of a brother, whom he is said to have 
caused to be drowned at sea, became a founder of 
monasteries. He restored Beverley, before he re 
turned from his campaign in the north. He also 
restored Bury St. Edmund s, as it now was called in 
memory of the martyred king ; and founded several 
new religious houses in the west of England. 

It was a purer spirit which animated Theodred 
the Good, bishop of Elmham and London, who re 
built the cathedral of St. Paul s, to found some reli- 

6 This drinking-horn is said to be still preserved. 

7 A Scottish Dame for a monk. 


gious houses in Suffolk, to revive Christianity in that 
paganised province. And a purer spirit, which let! 
Turketul, a noble Saxon of the court of king Ed 
mund and king Edred, to restore the abbey of Croy- 

The Danes had done their worst in the fen-dis 
trict with the old abbeys. In A.D. 870, the year of 
the great inroad, Bardney with all its monks, said to 
amount to three hundred, had fallen into their hands; 
Peterborough, with the abbot and eighty-four of his 
monks, had shared the same fate; and the stragglers, 
running from the desolate country, now brought 
news to Croylaml of the enemy s approach. It is 
the most particular account which remains of this 
dreadful time. No wonder that the early English 
Church long afterwards had in their litany a peti 
tion, " That it may please thee to quell the cruelty 
of our pagan enemies, we beseech thee to hear us, 
good Lord !" The aged abbot, Theodore, resolving 
to die upon his post, commanded the younger and 
strono-er monks to escape, if possible, into the marshes, 
and carry with them the relics, a few jewels, and the 
deeds of the monastery, which they had now learnt 
to value. Most of king Wiglaf s plate they sunk in 
the well ; some precious things were buried ; and 
now, as the fires came nearer and nearer, the party 
who were to attempt a flight, pushed off in the boat, 
and gained a hiding-place in a wood not far distant. 
The abbot, with a few aged men, and the young 
children, dressed themselves for divine service ; which 
they had scarcely finished, when the Danes broke in. 
Some they slew outright, the old abbot among the 
first, who fell at the altar. Some they tortured, to 
make them discover where their treasure was, and 
then murdered. A little child, called Turgar, often 
years old, kept close to the sub-prior, Lethwyn, who 
had fled into the dining-hall or refectory; and seeing 

v o 


him slain there, besought them that he might die with 
him. The young earl Sidroc, who led the party, was 
touched with pity at the beauty and innocence of the 
child : he drew off the little cowl which Turgar wore, 
and throwing a Danish tunic over him, bade him keep 
close to his side. His protection saved the child a 
life: he soon afterwards regained his liberty, and 
going back to Croyland, found the young monks 
returned and attempting to extinguish the fire, which 
was still raging in many parts of the monastery. 
From this time the survivors continued to dwell 
among the ruins in great poverty and affliction, and 
with ti>"ir numbers decreasing from year to year, 
from tweiity-eight to seven, then to five; and at last 
Turgar only, with two who had grown up with him, 
remained alive. 8 

Turketul was travelling on king Edmund s ser 
vice towards York, A.D. 942, when he passed by 
Croyland. The three aged monks, who had now 
weathered eighty winters, invited him and his train 
to be their guests. How they contrived to entertain 
him is a wonder: it would perhaps be known in 
the neighbourhood, and the Lincolnshire freeholders 
would send some supplies. They took the minister 
of state to prayers in a little chapel, built in a cor 
ner of the ruined church, told him their story, and 
besought him to intercede with the king for them. 
He was struck by this picture of patience and aged 
piety ; he gave them a timely supply for their pre 
sent need ; and after a few years more obtained 
leave from king Edred to rebuild the monastery, to 
endow it with some of his own manors, and he be 
came the first abbot of the new foundation. He 
carried about the old monks in a litter to see his 
new works as they were in progress ; set up a new 

8 Ingulf. Gale and Fell s Collection, i. p. 22, 3. 


school, which he visited every day, to attend to th<; 
advancement of every pupil in it, and, by a practice 
not yet quite out of date, was attended by a servant, 
who carried dried fruits, or apples and pears, to re 
ward those who made the best answer to the pains 
of their teachers. Here he passed a tranquil old 
age after his public labours, and died about thirty 
years from the time of his first visit to the ruins. 

The time was, however, now approaching when 
a new rage for building monasteries, and under n 
different rule, arose in England, through the influ 
ence of the celebrated D U^taix. 



Me lists not of the chafi nor of the straw 
To make so long a as of the corn. 


j O man was more honoured by the gene 
ration in which he lived, and for many 
following generations, than ST. DUN- 
STAN. On the other hand, no man has 
been more charged with fraud, impos 
ture, and cruelty, by the writers of later ages. The 
cause of this has been, that the monks, who owed 
much to his efforts, and wished to honour his me 
mory in their own way, several years after his death 
invented many wonderful stories of deeds which he 
never did, and embellished some that he really did 
in such new colours, that their true character is lost. 
It is very necessary, if we wish to judge of such a 
nan, to follow the accounts which were written near 
est to the time at which he lived, and not those which 
the monks afterwards made to serve their own pur 
poses, or to amuse their readers. He was neither 
50 good nor so bad as they have made him out. 

Dunstan was born of a noble family in the West 
of England, not far from Glastonbury, in A.D. 925, 
the year in which Athelstan succeeded to the throne. 1 

1 This is the year in the Saxon Chronicle. All the stories, 
therefore, of his going to the court of Athelstan, and his ad- 




He went at an early age to be educated at the mon 
astery of Fleury, near Rouen, in France, and came 
back to England with a great love and zeal for the 
monkish life. At his return king Edmund appointed 
him one of his chaplains, and, though he was then 
not more than about twenty- Kie years of age, gave 
him the ruined abbey of Cxiastonbury to restore, and 
to assemble a society of monks under the rule of 
discipline which he had learnt abroad. The sudden 
and violent death of Edmund, immediately after, 
prevented Dunstan from at once proceeding with 
this work, to which he might also have thought his 
own age unequal. He continued to live for some 
years longer at the court of king Edred, with whom 
he was in great favour ; and it was not till A.D. 954, 
that his foundation of Glastonbury was finished. 

Among the first monks who joined his society, 
was Ethelwold, who afterwards became bishop of 
Winchester, and for his great zeal in the same cause 


ventures there, being thrown into a pond for a conjuror, and 
his strange escape must be pure invention. It is said that 


was called " the father of monks." Another was 
Oswald, wl J was made bishop of Worcester and 
archbishop of York. Through Dunstan s influence 
the king now restored the abbey of Abingdon, which 
was put under the charge of Ethelwold, and con 
tinued one of the most famous Benedictine abbeys 
till the time of Henry VIII. 

While, however, these three friends were planning 
great things, king Edred died, and the two sons of 
Edmund divided the kingdom. It must be observed 
that the kings were in Saxon times chosen by the 
Witenagemot, or Council of the Wise, after the death 
of a former sovereign, unless he had made a will to 
dispose of his dominions, as was done by Ethelwolf, 
the father of Alfred. It seems that on this occa 
sion, both the princes bein^ very young, the Council 
thought them unfit to be entrusted with the entire 
charge, and therefore divided it. Edwy, the eldest, 
succeeded to the government of Kent and Wessex ; 
and Edgar was placed or 1 the throne of Mercia and 
Northumberland. 2 Edwy was no friend to monk 
hood ; and in the year following his accession, for 
some offence which is not certainly known, he ba 
nished Dunstan beyond sea. It is said that on his 
coining to the throne he p-ave a feast to his nobles; 
and here the behaviour of Dunstan gave offence. 
The Danes had brought in an ill custom of drinking 
to great excess, and pledging one another as long as 
the brains could bear ; and this custom the Saxons 
unfortunately learnt from them. Thus Alfred is 
said to have suffered all his life afterwards from the 
excesses he was obliged to submit to at his corona- 
Archbishop Athelm introduced him at court. But Athelm died 
the same year that Dunstan was born ; and Wulfhelm was arch- 
bishop A.D. 925-940. 

2 Sax. Chron. A.D. 955. The story of Edgar having been 
set up afterwards in rebellion against Edwy seems therefore 


tion-feast ; and Edred, at the foundation of Abing- 
don Abbey, remained all day drinking mead with 
his nobles. Edwy withdrew from this heavy-headed 
revel ; but his reason is said to have been, that he 
might pay a visit to a married woman with whom 
he was too intimate. His departure gave great of 
fence to his nobles, and they deputed Dunstan to 
go and remonstrate with him and bring him back. 
He did so ; and finding him in the company of the 
woman and her daughter, using something between 
force and persuasion, led him back to the banquet- 
ing-hall. For this it is said that Edwy took occasion 
in the following year to banish Dunstan. It appears 
that he also resumed the lands which Edmund and 
Edred had given to Glastonbury and Abingdon, and 
broke up those establishments. 

Edwy was married in the third year of his reign 
to Elgiva, who appears to have been his cousin. The 
Roman Church, from the time of pope Gregory, had 
disapproved of marriages between persons so related; 
and in the laws of some of the Saxon kings it was 
forbidden. By degrees the following popes carried 
it further, and by forbidding marriages among cou 
sins in very remote degrees, turned the law to great 
abuse. At present, however, the opinion in Eng 
land being that the marriage of first cousins at least 
was unlawful, this match of king Edwy was a new 
offence ; and archbishop Odo, who then presided 
at Canterbury, and had the authority of the law 
to interfere in such cases, obliged thf new-married 
couple to separate from each other. 3 There are 
some strange stories of cruelty, invented by the wri 
ters of legends in later ages ; as, that Odo caused 
Elgiva to be branded in the forehead ; and on her 
attempting to rejoin the king, to have the tendons of 

3 Sax. Chron. A D. y58. 


her legs severed; and finally, that he had her put to 
death. But as it is certain that the Saxon law gave 
no bishop any power to require any thing from a 
culprit of any rank but the doing of penance, and as 
the earliest accounts contain nothing of the kind, 
and there is no authority for it but a lying legend 
written one hundred and fifty years afterwards, we 
may very well believe it to be a fiction. 4 It seems 
that Edwy was on bad terms with his people ; some 
of them rose in rebellion against him ; and a party 
of these are said to have slain Elgiva in a tumult at 
Gloucester. The king himself died at an early age, 
in October, A.D. 959. 

Odo, whom many late writers have described 
rather as a monster than a man, was esteemed in 
his own age as a strict religious prelate, and was 
called " Odo the good." He was by birth a Dane, 
being the son of one of the followers of Inguar and 
Ubba, who at the beginning of Alfred s reign had 
settled in East Anglia. His parents were pagans ; 
but he is said to have shewn from childhood a 
strong desire to be instructed in Christianity, and, 
by the patronage of a Christian nobleman, in his 
native province, entered the service of the Church. 
He was then recommended to king Athelstan ; and 
having been made bishop of Sherborne, was, in the 
beginning of Edmund s reign, raised to the primate s 
office. It is more fair to judge of him from his own 
mouth, than from such witnesses as have been made 
to support the evidence against him. He has left 
behind him a set of ten canons, or Church-laws, 
drawn up by him in the reign of king Edmund, 
and a pastoral letter to the bishops of the province 
of Canterbury. These writings shew him to have 

< " The holy canons forbid both bishops and priests to con 
sent to any man s death, if they call themselves God s minis 
ters." Saxon Homily on St. Edmund s day. 


been zealous to promote the discipline of penitence, 
<nd give excellent rules for the conduct of kings, 
magistrates, bishops, priests, and all orders of clergy ; 
they are full of Scripture, and betoken a character 
of grave and godly simplicity, tempering the strict 
ness of duty with a feeling of charity. 

" Let the Church," he says, " be one, united in 
faith, hope, and charity, having one head, which is 
Christ; whose members ought to help each other 
and love each other with mutual charity, as he has 
said, By this shall all men know that ye are my dis 
ciples." He does not add to this acknowledgment of 
Christ as the head, that the pope is Christ s vicar, 
jbr that was not the doctrine of Odo s time. 5 He says 
,hat kings and princes ought to pay great regard 
to the advice of their bishops, and to obey their 
directions in matters of religion ; for to them this 
authority is given, and whatsoever they bind or 
loose on earth is confirmed in heaven. He says 
much of the great responsibility of kings for those 
whom they employ in offices under them, if they 
are unworthy. He says still more of the duties of 
bishops, and the great danger they undergo, if they 
do their office lukewarmly or negligently ; if they 
are swayed by love of gain more than godliness ; or 
if they fear or flatter any man out of regard to his 
person. He exhorts them every year to visit their 
dioceses, and to preach as they make their visitation. 
He tells the parish-priests, they must be a pattern 
to their flock, teaching them all needful truth, and 
distinguishing themselves by their religious lives as 
much as by the habit which they wear. Monks he 
exhorts not to ramble about, or remove from one 
monastery to another ; but, after the example of the 

5 The king of England was the only person at this time 
styled vicar or vicegerent of Christ ; and thus king Edgar styles 
himself in the acts of his rei^n 


apostles, to work with their own hands, to exercyu* 
themselves continually in holy reading and prayer, 
and to have their loins girded and lamps burning, 
so waiting for the great Householder, that when he 
comes he may make them enter into his eternal rest. 
He bids all Christians to avoid prohibited marriages, 
reminding them of Gregory s rule before mentioned ; 
and pronounces excommunication against offenders 
who break this rule, or those who marry a nun. 
This is the only punishment which he thought it 
lawful for the Church to inflict : there is not a word 
of branding, which indeed was not a kind of punish 
ment used in Saxon times. It may be observed, 
also, that in the laws of king Edmund, passed with 
the counsel of the two archbishops Odo and Wulf- 
stan, the only injunction is, that persons thus wrong 
fully joined together in marriage are to be separated. 
These laws containing more particular directions 
about the way of contracting marriage among our 
Christian forefathers, than we find in any other 
ancient laws of the Saxon kings, it may be well to 
state the substance of them. They direct that a 
man, who wished to wed maid or widow, \vas first to 
appoint a meeting, at which both parties were to be 
attended by their friends. He was then to declare, 
and his friends to give their word for him, that he 
wished to have her to wife according to God s law 
and the rule of Christian truth. The woman and her 
friends giving their consent, he was then to shew to 
them that he had property enough to maintain his 
wife ; and his friends were to assure this also : he 
was next to say what part of his goods he would 
settle upon her, and let her choose a gift for herself. 
Then, if all was agreed, her friends were to promise 
her to him, " to wive and to right live," and take 
security from the bridegroom for the completion of 
the marriage. If she survived him, the law gave her 


half his property, until she might marry again, or the 
care of the whole, if there were children. When 
she was to be given away, the law required that the 
priest should be present, who should " rightfully with 
God s blessing join them together to all fulness of 

Such was the religious care taken by our fore 
fathers for this holy engagement ; which nothing but 
the decay of religion among us has brought down of 
late to a lower standard, and made laws to regard it 
only as a civil contract. God grant that a better 
spirit may speedily be restored ! It was Odo s duty, 
therefore, having been one of the principal promoters 
of this sacred law of marriage, to notice what was 
then considered a breach of it, in the union of two 
cousins, though of the highest rank, that the law- 
might not be despised. He therefore, as it seems, 
threatened Edwy and Elgiva with excommunication. 
The rest of the story is, as before said, only the gar 
nish of an age when legends were written for the 
entertainment of the reader. He had certainly an 
extreme view of the importance of Church-discipline, 
and considered offenders against its laws as " guilty 
of as great impiety as the soldiers who pierced the 
side of Christ." But with all this he speaks a lan 
guage so earnest, that it could only be taught him 
by a hearty zeal for godliness. " If it could be," he 
ays to his bishops, "that the wealth of the whole 
world were set before my eyes, so as to serve me in 
die enjoyment of the highest kingly power, I would 
willingly spend it all, and with it "my own life, for 
the health of your souls ; by whom I trust to be ad 
vanced in the pursuit of holiness, and strengthened 
for the work of that harvest, to which the Lord God 
has appointed as fellow-labourers both you and me." 
Surely it is not easy to believe that a man who could 
write thus, still under a humble sense of his own 


sins and infirmities, could have been any thing else 
than his words paint him to be. 

On the death of Edwy, his brother Edgar became 
king of all England. Two years after his accession 
Odo died ; 6 and Dunstan, who had been before re 
called from banishment, and was in great favour, was 
made archbishop. It seems that he had been enter 
tained by Edgar before his brother s death, and had 
been made bishop of Worcester and of London, 
which were both in the province of Mercia. Being 
now possessed of great power and influence, and 
aided by many powerful noblemen, as well as his 
two frie"nds Oswald and Ethelwold, who held the 
two other most important sees of York and Win 
chester, he had for nearly twenty years full scope 
for executing his great designs. The king, Edgar, 
was scarcely yet more than twenty-one, and in what 
regarded the Church suffered Dunstan to rule mat 
ters almost as he pleased. In the course of his ad 
ministration about forty monasteries were built or 
restored, and most of them richly endowed. Among 
these were the old foundations of Ely, Peterborough, 
Tewksbury, Malmsbury, Glastonbury, Evesham, 
Bath, and Abingdon ; the new abbeys of Ramsey, 
Hunts; Tavistock and Milton Abbot s, Devon; 
Cerne Abbot s, Dorset; and many more. The rage 
for these new monasteries was so great, that a 
change now took place at many of the cathedral- 
churches. Here the bishops had formerly held a. 
monastery in some places near the cathedral, where 

6 A.D. 961. Sax. Chron. This date disproves the story of 

his ghost to reproi 

journey to Rome, and being frozen to death on the Alps. Why 
should he have gone to Rome at all, when neither Odo nor 
Duastan went ? The pali was sent by a messenger at this period. 


<such priests as had taken the habit of monks lived 
with the other monks; but the other clergy, who 
were not under the rule, resided in private houses 
of their own, having an estate for their common 
maintenance, such as the deans and cathedral-clergy 
have now. Thus at Canterbury there were the secu 
lar clergy, who were in one society at the cathedral 
of Christ-church, and the monks, who were in an 
other at St. Augustine s. Dunstan did not attempt 
to change this arrangement in his own see ; but 
Oswald turned out all the clergy at Worcester who 
did not choose to become monks ; Ethelwold did 
the same at Winchester; and their example was 
followed by Elfric, after Dunstan s death, at Can 
terbury, by Wulfsine bishop of Sherborne, and 
other bishops. 

These were unjustifiable measures, and they 
naturally led to a great enmity between the monks 
and secular clergy ; which was kept up, more or less, 
as long as monasteries remained in England. The 
success, which began with injustice, was too often 
afterwards maintained with fraud. Lying wonders 
were told of the holiness of these patrons of monkery; 
and whatever good qualities they possessed were lost 
in the legendary tales which their admirers invented. 
False charters were also produced, where the origi 
nals had been destroyed by the Danes; and this 
soon led to encroachment upon manors and lands 
to which their claim was doubtful, and bred awk 
ward lawsuits. 

Another evil was, that the English people not 
being yet altogether so eager to become monks as 
the patrons of the new foundations wished, they 
brought in many foreigners ; the king particularly, 
who lost something of his own popularity by his pa 
tronage of outlandish men and foreign fashions. 

But the rule of monkhood itself, which was now 



established in England, had one or two great faults 
in it. It required, as all orders from this time did, 
that the novice who entered it should make a vow 
a solemn vow and promise, before God and his 
saints, in the chapel of the monastery, that he would 
remain for ever in that rule of life, reform his man 
ners by it, obey its laws, as one who knew that by 
departing from it he should forfeit his eternal salva 
tion. This was done in the presence of the abbot 
and other witnesses ; a copy of it was made in writing, 
which he was to sign, and place it with his own hand 
on the altar. From that moment he was to have 
nothing which he could call his own ; his estate and 
goods were to be given to the poor or to the monas 
tery, and he was to receive no private gift, even of a 
book, or writing-desk, or pen ; nay, he was no longer 
to consider himself master of his own person or his 
own will. 

Again, St. Basil s rule, as we have seen, dis 
couraged any offering of children by their parents, 
and any thing which took away the liberty of free 
choice from the young, before they came to age. 
On the contrary, the rule of Benedict allowed pa 
rents to present their children at the altar, and to 
take an oath and make a vow, that they would 
thenceforth neither give them land or goods, nor 
permit any thing to be done for them, which might 
give them occasion at any time afterwards to leave 
the monastery. 

Another bad change was, that the priests who 
were monks were not to discharge any priestly office 
without the abbot s leave ; a regulation which made 
them unserviceable for the duties of the Church be 
yond the monastery, and took them out of the way 
of obedience to their bishop. It is uncertain how 
soon this rule of St. Benedict became general in the 
west of Europe : it had no certain footing in Eng- 


land before the Danish invasion ; but from the time 
of Dunstan there was no other to be found in the 
country till after the Norman Conquest. 

The reign of Edgar was peaceful and prosperous. 
The kings of Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, sought 
his friendship, and did him homage ; and by keeping 
a good fleet at three different stations on the coast, 
which at regular seasons cruised about to watch for 
the Danish pirates, he prevented the country from 
being exposed to their inroads. Some good laws 
were passed for the civil government, and many 
very particular regulations for the government of 
the Church ; which no doubt were chiefly the work 
of Dunstan. Before this remarkable man had com 
pleted his career, the death of Edgar, in the prime 
of life, left him exposed to new troubles, A.D. 975. 

Alfere, earl of Mercia, had been an unwilling 
looker-on while the monasteries were rising in his 
province during Edgar s life; and when he died, 
leaving only a boy of fifteen to succeed him, he 
raised an armed faction, and drove out the monks, 
and began to raze the abbeys to the ground. Ethel- 
win, earl of East Anglia, and Byrthnot, earl of Essex, 
and other nobles, who had founded monasteries or 
favoured their foundation, raised a force to oppose 
him. Ethelwin was founder of Ramsey Abbey; 
Byrthnot had given many of his lands to Ely : " We 
will never suffer the monks to be expelled," said 
they ; " it is the same thing as to expel all religion 
from the country." By their resolute conduct these 
violent proceedings were checked ; but not before 
Alfere had procured the banishment of Oslac, earl 
of Northumberland, who was thus prevented from 
restoring some of the northern monasteries. 

W 7 hile the dispute was still continued, a eoynr>il 
of the kingdom was held at Calne in Wiltshire, 
where Dunstan presided. It is said that the senators 


were here about to decide in favour of the expellea 
clergy against the monks, when the floor of the town- 
hall gave way, and the assembly fell with it into the 
space below. Some were severely bruised or had 
limbs broken, and some did not escape with life. 
Dunstan alone was left standing upon a beam. This 
calamity seerns to have broken up the council, so 
that no decision was come to. 7 The young king 
Edward was shortly afterwards barbarously mur 
dered by his stepmother Elfrida. The miserable 
reign of Ethelred, truly named the Unready, now 
began. In A.D. 980, and several following years, 
the Danes came again, first in small parties, burning 
and plundering; and the poor king, instead of op 
posing them, was at war with his own subjects. He 
besieged Rochester, having some quarrel with the 
men of Kent. Dunstan preserved the town, by 
sending him one hundred pounds to keep the peace, 
and shortly after died, A.D. 988. 

The honour paid to the memory of the unfor 
tunate Edward, surnamed the Martyr, has been 

7 It is strange that not only Hume, but Mr. Turner and 
Mr. Southey, have followed the impossible supposition, that 
this was a trick of Dunstan. If it was, as Fuller well observes, 
Dunstan was a better contriver than Samson, who could not so 
sever himself from his foes, but both must die together. What 
is more strange is, that such very respectable writers should 
have supposed this, when there is a precisely similar accident 
on record as having occurred, in the latter part of the last cen 
tury, to the excellent chief-justice Sir Eardley Wilmot, at a 
country assize. The floor gave way ; many were bruised and 
maimed, some were killed. The judge was left with his seat 
" sticking to the wall like a martlet s nest," as one of the eye 
witnesses described it. The good man wrote an admirable 
letter to his family on the occasion, which may be seen in his 
Life by his son, John Wilmot, Esq. 

It may be granted, however, that if the monks had not 
afterwards made a miracle of it, the enemies of Dunstan s 
memory would never have been reminded to call it an impos 


supposed to prove the triumph of the inonks, to 
whom he had shewn signs of favour; that they had 
some ends to gain by having him made a saint, and 
keeping a day in honour of his memory, which still 
stands marked in our calendar as the twentieth of 
June. But it is rather a sign of the natural pity 
and sorrow felt by our Christian forefathers for the 
untimely fate of a promising young prince; just as 
they paid the same honour to St. Kenelm, a prince 
of Mercia, who was murdered A.D. 819; to St. 
Edmund of East Anglia, killed by the treachery 
of the Danes ; and to St. Olave, a prince of Nor 
way. Thus the honest writer of the Saxon Chro 
nicle no doubt expresses the public feeling, when 
he says of Edward s murder: "No worse deed 
than this was ever done by Englishmen, since the 
time when first they sought the Britons land. He 
was murdered by men, but God has magnified him. 
He was in life an earthly king ; he is now after 
death a heavenly saint. His earthly kinsmen would 
not avenge him ; but his heavenly Father has well 
avenged him. The earthly murderers would have 
blotted out his memory from the earth ; but the 
Avenger above has spread abroad his memory in 
heaven and in earth. They who would not before 
bow to his living body, now bow on their knees 
before his dead bones. The wisdom of men, and 
their designs, and their counsels, are as nought be 
fore the appointment of God." It was this public 
feeling which led to his being sainted. There is no 
proof that it was especially the act of Dunstan or 
his friends, or if it was, that they had any other 
ends to serve by it. It is more worthy of belief, 
that when Elfrida, the mother of Ethelred, was too 
powerful a person to be punished as her crime de 
served, Dunstan brought her to a sense of compunc 
tion, and persuaded her to do such woiis of repent- 


ance as he thought most serviceable to the cause 
of religion ; namely, to found two monasteries, at 
Amesbury, Wilts, and Wherwell in Hampshire. 

Having now gone through the only public acts 
of Dunstan s life which are reported by writers of 
good credit, and those who lived nearest his own 
time, it may be well to give a short account of his 
private character. He was a skilful artist, a musi 
cian, and painter, an organ-builder, and, according 
to some accounts, also a bell-founder. Many of the 
church-vessels at Glastonbury, censers, crosses, and 
copes, are said to have been the work of his hands. 
Some of his writings and drawings are still preserved 
at Oxford. There can be little doubt that he was 
also an ingenious architect. He is said to have re 
built not only the decayed abbeys and churches, but 
some of the king s halls or palaces on a splendid 
scale. And he was a great promoter of useful arts, 
which might benefit the Church and the public : so 
that, as it is said with much appearance of truth, no 
man since the days of Alfred was so active a patron 
of them. 

One contrivance of his is commonly recorded, as 
designed to check the prevailing vice of drunken 
ness. He was the inventor of a way of ornament 
ing the drinking-cups, which were passed round the 
table, with little nails or pegs, one above another, 
of gold or silver, as the material of the cup might 
be ; that every guest, when called to drink his por 
tion, might know how much the law of the feast re 
quired of him, and might not be obliged to swallow 
a. larger draught against his will. 8 Hence seems to 
have come the old English proverb, which speaks of 
a man as being a peg too high or a peg too low, 
according to the state of his spirits. 

8 Malmsbury, ii. 149. 


The Church-laws passed in king Edgar s reign, 
are still remaining to us; and these most likely were 
the work of Dunstan. Many of them are very good, 
and such as the Church still acknowledges ; as, that 
every clergyman is to do his duty in his own parish, 
not to interfere with another ; that lit, must not 
appear in the church, or at least not do any minis 
terial act, without his surplice ; that he must not 
administer the Lord s supper in a private house 
except to the sick ; that every parish-priest must 
preach every Sunday to his people. Good direc 
tions are very particularly laid down about the bap 
tism of infants ; which parents are directed to bring 
to the font within six weeks from their birth ; and 
to teach them, as soon as they can learn, the Apostles 
<;reed and Lord s prayer; and not to keep them too 
long unconfirmed by the bishop. " He who will 
not do this," says Dunstan, " is not worthy of the 
name of Christian, not fit to receive the holy com 
munion, nor to stand godfather to another s child, 
nor to be laid in hallowed ground when he is dead." 
In regard to the education of the young, every priest 
who keeps a school is to understand some handicraft 
himself, and while he diligently teaches his pupils, 
must take care to teach them some craft, which may 
hereafter be profitable to the Church. When Dun 
stan enjoins works of penance or alms of repentance 
to the rich, he bids them build churches and give 
lands to them; or repair public ways; or build 
bridges over deep waters, or arches over miry 
ground ; or give alms thankfully of their goods to 
needy persons, widows, orphans, and strangers ; or 
set free their own slaves, and redeem those of other 
men. But he goes on to say, as had been enjoined 
at the synod of Cliff s-hoe, A.D. 74-7, that such alms 
were not to stand in place of the discipline of fasting, 
and otherwise mortifying the body, or going on 


pilgrimage. " For it is the most right way," he says, 
" for every man to wreak his own misdeeds upon 
himself." So that it was not yet thought that a 
man could make amends by employing others to 
offer prayers or masses for him. The works also 
which he requires of the rich are not merely for 
the benefit of monasteries, but well-chosen works of 
mercy and public usefulness. 

Dunstan gives many very good directions about 
the celebration of the holy communion; that it should 
be administered with attention to comely order; that 
there should be nothing unclean or of mean appear 
ance about the altar ; that the chalice should be of 
pure metal, not of wood; that the priest should not 
trust his memory, but have his book before him, and 
have it " a good book, or at least a right book ;" that 
there should be pure oblation-bread, pure wine, and 
pure water to mix with it. " Wo to them," he says, 
" who neglect these things : they are like the Jews 
who mixed gall and vinegar for Christ." This is 
rather strong, like the remark of Odo on the offend 
ers against Church-discipline. " Also we direct," he 
says, " that no mass-priest mass alone, lest he have 
no one to answer him." He therefore would not 
have approved of the later practice of solitary masses. 
Another Saxon bishop, giving the same injunction, 
bids the communicating priest to remember the pro 
mise of Christ to the two or three gathered together 
in his name. 

Dunstan was a man of ready wit, as may be 
judged from the phrase of many of these laws, which 
speak of the vices, or indulgences, against which he 
wished to guard his clergy. " Let no priest," he 
says, " be a singer at the ale, nor in any wise play 
the jester, to please himself or others; but be wise 
and grave, as becometh his order. Let him not love 
woman s company too much ; but love his right wife, 


that is, his church. And let him not be a hawker 
or hunter, or a player at the dice ; but play on his 
book, as befits his order." Could the cheerful hu 
morist, who dre\v up these rules, be the contriver of 
such wholesale murder as some have endeavoured 
to charge his memory with ? 

At the same time that we refuse belief to this 
and other impossible stories, we must allow that his 
proceedings in forcing the system of Benedictine 
monkhood on the Church were very blamable ; that 
the friends who acted with him were allowed to 
take very unjustifiable measures; and that the rule 
itself was not so easily to be approved as the rule 
of the more early monasteries. Dunstan was also 
a great promoter of penances for crimes; and it 
would seem that he was willing to take under his 
discipline in this way culprits who were more fit for 
the jailor s, if not for the hangman s charge. This 
was done to increase the power of the Church in a 
way by no means to be approved. His was a com 
manding spirit, that enforced this kind of discipline 
with great strictness. It is said that an off endrr, 
who had contracted an unlawful marriage, finding 
nothing would induce Dunstan to admit him to 
communion unless he should put away her whom 
he had so married, applied to one of the bad popes 
who was then in St. Peter s chair, and, using such 
persuasions as were then best received at Rome, 
obtained a letter entreating and commanding the 
archbishop to dispense with his fault and grant him 
absolution. " God forbid," said Dunstan, " that I 
should do it. If he shews me that he repents of his 
crime, I will obey the pope s instructions ; but while 
he lies in his guilt, he shall never insult me by a 
triumph over the discipline of the Church. I will 
forfeit my life sooner." There can be no doubt 
that, with this independent spirit, whatever faults 


Dunstttn was guilty of were owing to his own mis 
taken conscience, his love of monkhood or love o; 
power, and not to his blind devotion to any foreign 



Full many may the sceptre bear; 

But lands their native law must own, 

And earls that seek a lasting throne 
Must make the people s weal their care. 

Saxon Song. 

"REVIOUS to the death of Dunstan, 
the Danes had been for some years 
troubling the country with new in 
roads. In A.D. 982, their fleet had 
sailed up the Thames, and burnt Lon 
don. There was now no prince like Alfred on the 
throne, nor any good counsel near it, to rouse the 
strength of the country, and renew the well-tried 
plans of defence, which in Edgar s reign had pre 
served its peace. The power of England was fully 
able to cope with the invaders ; but it was wasted 
in disunited efforts, while the Danes commanded 
\he sea, and landing where they pleased, carried off 
their spoils. The weak and ill-advised king trusted 
his command to unworthy noblemen, whom he had 
good reason to suspect of treachery, but had not 
resolution to dismiss. At length when a fleet was 


raised, larger than had ever been known before, and 
the hopes of the country were roused to certain 
victory, it was found that the enemy, by intelligence 
sent them from the English side, h?^ withdrawn 
their ships out of danger s way. The traitor, whom 
Ethelred continued to employ even after this mani 
fest treason, was Elfric, who had succeeded Alfcre 
as earl of Mercia. 

In the years shortly following Dunstan s death, 
Sigeric was archbishop of Canterbury. He was a 
man of learning; but his counsels were unworthy of 
the primate of an independent country ; he was the 
first adviser of paying the tax called Dane-gelt, a 
sum of money given almost every year to the Danes 
to bribe them to keep the peace. The amount first 
paid in A.D. 991, is said to have been 10,000/. ; but 
this was soon after more than doubled, as the enemy 
improved the advantage he had gained. It is most 
likely that Sigeric advised this poor expedient from 
a distrust of the character of the king, and a despair 
of better success by more w r arlike measures. 

Even in these disastrous times there were not 
wanting men, who, if they had lived under a better 
prince, and had guided the counsels of the state, 
might have saved the country from ruin. Few of 
the old nobility of England deserve a higher praise 
as Christian patriots than BYRTHNOT, EARL OF 
ESSEX. We have seen him with his friend Ethelwin, 
earl of East Anglia, after the death of Edgar, oppos 
ing the violent proceedings of Alfere against the 
monks of Mercia. He was in his lifetime a great 
benefactor to the church of Ely, and had done his 
part to restore the monasteries in his province. And 
whatever faults were to be found in these founda 
tions, for w r hich we may justly blame Dunstan and 
his friends, there can be no doubt that the religious 
noblemen who protected them were guided by a pure 


desire to promote the knowledge of the truth, and 
advance the peaceful arts, which would, under God, 
tend most to the happiness and improvement of their 
country. With this aim they freely gave of their 
lands and of their wealth. And the cost of rearing 
such monasteries as Turketul s at Croyland, Ethel- 
win s at Ramsey or Ely, was something more than 
the price of digging foundations and raising the 
walls. They had first to make the ground on which 
the foundation was to stand ; to bring boat-loads of 
hard soil from the uplands, or shingles from the coast, 
to bury deep, and drive in with rammers, lest the 
walls should give way. Sometimes, to bring the 
stone from inland, they had need to make a road, or 
sometimes to meet it as it came to the nearest place 
of water-carriage. Thus Egelric, bishop of Durham, 
in the reign of Edward the Confessor, being then re 
tired to the abbot s office at Peterborough, made a 
road from Deeping to Spalding, where the Welland 
becomes navigable for ships of good burthen. It 
was made by mixing loads of chalk, from the wolds 
of Lincolnshire, and sea-sand, the materials of which 
the roads in Lincoln fens are still composed. The 
ground being prepared, and the stone brought, the 
Avorkmen laboured zealously, believing that it was a 
good work, and that where religion was the motive, 
they would be well rewarded for their pains. The 
Saxons at this period were not ignorant of the use of 
cranes and pulleys, to raise the stones for building. 
The old Saxon abbey of Ramsey was built in the 
shape of a cross : it had two towers, one over the 
centre of the cross, and another at the west end; 
and as this was perhaps one of the earliest attempts 
to raise a tower on four columns (the plan fol 
lowed aftenvards in almost all cathedral and abbey- 
churches), arches were thrown across from one co 
lumn to another to strengthen the support, as has 


since been done by Sir Christopher Wren in the 
cathedral of Salisbury. 

Ethelwin, the founder of Ramsey, was now lately 
dead; and Byrthnot, in the increasing troubles of 
his country, was left alone. Perhaps it will be ex 
pected that he retired into his monastery of Ely, 
that he might at least die quietly. He had seen the 
treachery of Elfric, and seems to have been at Can 
terbury when Sigeric gave his miserable counsel. 
But Byrthnot resolved that he would neither excuse 
the weak nor encourage the wicked by his example. 
He left a deed in the hands of Sigeric, by which he 
gave three estates at Hadleigh, Monks Eleigh, and 
Lillings, in Suffolk, to the church at Canterbury, 
retaining only Hadleigh for his widow s use, if she 
survived him, having no son; 1 and retiring into his 
own province, trained his young men for war, pro 
vided arms and horses, and waited for the fleet of 
the Danes, which was already at sea. It was led by 
Anlaf, or Olave, one of their sea-kings, who, with 
ninety-three ships, after plundering Sandwich and 
Ipswich, came up the Blackwater to Maldon. The 
Danish host encamped on one side of the river, and 
Byrthnot on the other ; the invaders having before 
his arrival carried off spoil, and waiting for the tide 
to re-embark. When they saw the small force of 
Byrthnot, the sea-king sent a herald : " Deliver to 
us," they said, " thy treasures for thy safety : buy 
off the conflict ; and we will ratify a peace with 
gold." " Point and edge shall first determine," said 
the devoted warrior, " before we pay you tribute. 
Nor shall you carry your booty to your ships with 
out a battle. Here stands an earl who will defend 
the land of his sovereign Ethelred, and you shall 
perish before you force him from the field." The 

1 Evidences of Christ Church, Canterbury, in Twysden s 
Collection, p. 2223. 

C. I. XIV.] BYRTHNOT. 259 

first post of conflict was a bridge over the Black- 
water. This the men of Essex resolutely defended ; 
Byrthnot sent thither the bravest of the band of his 
followers, and the Danes vainly attempted to force 
it. It was near high water in the estuary or mouth 
of the river ; and as they were thus divided, the rest 
of the battle was with bows and arrows. 

At length, as the tide ebbed, the stream became 
fordable ; and Byrthnot, in the pride of his heart, 
seeing the courage of his men, sent a message to the 
enemy, inviting them to a free passage and a fair 
field on his own side. Here, after a stubborn con 
flict, the East Saxons fell, overpowered by numbers. 
Byrthnot displayed the greatest valour, killing with 
his own hands a Danish chief, and, after he had re 
ceived his death-wound, laying prostrate with his 
battle-axe a soldier who had come to spoil him. An 
aged vassal stood over his corpse, and encouraged 
the rest not to turn foot. " Our spirit shall be the 
hardier, and our soul the greater," he said, " the 
more our numbers are diminished. Here lies our 
chief, the brave, the good, the much -loved lord, 
who has blessed us with many a gift. - Old as I am, 
I will not yield ; but avenge his death, or lay me at 
his side. Shame befall him that thinks to fly from 
such a field as this." The same spirit animated old 
and young ; and few returned from that fatal en 
counter, when night divided the combatants. 

There was one faithful retainer, who had marked 
the bearing of Byrthnot in the field, and had the 
skill of a minstrel to sing to the harp the fortunes 
of the day. 2 He praised the duty and loyalty of 
many of the earl s gallant followers ; but none gave 
so eminent a pattern, as his lord, of a Christian sol 
dier s death. " When his large-hilted sword now 

Conybeare s Anglo-Saxon Poetry, p. xciii. 


drooped to the earth, and his hand, unstrung by 
death, could no longer wield his blade, still the 
hoary warrior strove to speak his commands, and 
bade the warlike youths, his brave comrades, to ad 
vance. But then he could no longer stand firmly on 
his feet. He looked to heaven : I thank thee, Lord 
of nations, for all the joys that I have known on 
earth : now, O mild Creator, have I the utmost need 
that thou shouldest grant grace unto my spirit, that 
my soul may speed to thee, with peace, O King of 
angels, to go into thy keeping. I sue to thee, that 
thou suffer not the rebel spirits of hell to vex my 
parting soul. " 

Such a record of the dead is never made, except 
where the good deeds of a life have left affection 
and gratitude behind, and stamped something of 
their own goodness on the minds of the survivors. 
And surely not Leonidas, or any patriot of old re 
nown, devoted himself with purer love for his suffer 
ing country. It was the death of a crusader in a 
purer cause : 

He lay, not grovelling low, but as a knight 
That ever did to heavenly things aspire ; 

His right hand closed still held las weapon bright, 
Ready to strike and execute his ire ; 

His left upon his breast was humbly laid, 

That men might know that while he died he pray d. 

The Church, too, was not without a few worthy 
men to minister at her altars. Of these the most 
eminent was ELFRIC, archbishop of Canterbury, a 
man who laboured most abundantly to advance the 
knowledge of the gospel among his countrymen, 
even in the midst of all their difficulties and distress. 
He was educated among the monks of Abingdon, 
under the famous Ethelwold, "the father of monks," 
already mentioned, whom he afterwards followed to 
Winchester. He was then invited bv Ethclmcr, or 

CH. XIV.] ELF1UC. 2G1 

Aylmer, earl of Cornwall, to take the charge of 
Cerne Abbey, Dorset, which he had founded A.n. 
987. From thence he removed to St. Alban s, 
where he presided as abbot; then he became bishop 
of Wilton ; and on the death of Sigeric was made 
primate, where he governed from A.D. 994? to 1005. 
He was the author of the most ancient English 
grammar and dictionary which has remained to our 
times. He wrote two volumes of sermons, which 
were in part translated from the fathers of the 
Church into the old English language. He trans 
lated the five books of Moses, and other portions of 
the Old Testament, into the tongue then spoken by 
the people ; and by corresponding with other bishops 
and learned men of his time, did much to keep up 
a sound knowledge on other subjects, and also on 
the doctrine of the Lord s supper, before the strange 
and monstrous notion of transubstantiation was re 
ceived in England. 

" When the Lord said, He that eateth my flesh 
and drinketh my blood hath everlasting life, he bade 
not his disciples," says Elfric, " to eat the body 
wherewith he was enclosed, nor to drink that blood 
which he shed for us ; but he meant that holy housel, 
which is in a ghostly way his body and blood ; and 
he that tasteth it with believing heart hath everlast 
ing life. 

" The bread is truly his body, and the wine his 
blood, as was the heavenly bread which we call 
manna, that fed for forty years God s people, and 
the clear water which then ran from the stone in the 
wilderness : as St. Paul wrote in one of his epistles, 
All our fathers in the wilderness ate the same ghostly 
meat, and drank the same ghostly drink ; they drank 
of the ghostly stone, and that stone was Christ. At 
that time Christ was not born, nor his blood poured 
out, when the people of Israel ate of that meat, and 


drank of that stone. It was the same sacrament in 
he old law ; and they betokened that ghostly house! 
of our Saviour s body which we hallow now." 

Elfric turned the book of Judith into English, 
thinking, as he says, that the example which he gives 
of the valour of the Bethulians might encourage 
his countrymen to defend themselves courageously 
against the invasions of the Danes. His sermons or 
homilies were well received by the English Church ; 
copies of them were taken by order of the bishops, 
and appointed to be read in churches. 

Elfric required that every clergyman, before he 
was ordained priest, should have a collection of all 
the books used in the service of the Church, as, his 
Psalter, a book containing the Epistles and Gospels, 
another of the communion-office, a book of lessons, 
a guide for penitence, a calendar, a book of chants 
and hymns, and one containing an account of the 
saints whose days were kept by the Church. It re 
quired some labour of the scribe to prepare copies 
of all these, before printing was invented. The 
clergy were directed to expound the meaning of the 
Gospel every Sunday to the people in English, and 
the Creed and the Lord s Prayer as often as they 
could contrive to do it. " We must not be dumb 
dogs," he said, " that cannot bark : we must bark, 
and teach the lay people, lest we lose them for lack 
of lore. If the blind man be the blind man s leader, 
they will both fall into a blind place. And blind is 
the teacher, if he kens no book-lore." He exhorted 
them also to be constantly at their churches, and 
take care that they were not profaned to any im 
proper use. " For God s house is the house of 
prayer, hallowed to ghostly words, and for them 
that with faith receive the Lord s body." 

His monkish education unfortunately led him 
into some errors of doctrine and practice. He fol- 


lowed the example of his teacher, bishop Ethelwold, 
nnd removed the secular clerks or canons of Christ 
Church, Canterbury, to make room for a new society 
of monks. When some of the married clergy ex 
postulated with him, and told him that St. Peter 
was a married man, " True," he said, "but that was 
under the old law ; when he became a disciple of 
Christ, he forsook the company of his wife." The 
wrong step he had taken was not much mended by 
such a tradition as this; since it is plain from the 
New Testament, that the wife of St. Peter went 
with her husband on his travels (1 Cor. ix. 5). The 
time, however, was not yet come when such doc 
trine as this was generally received. The canons 
of Canterbury were restored after Elfric s death ; 
and as yet the secular clergy were at full liberty to 
marry. Elfsy, bishop of Winchester in Elfric s 
time, was a married prelate, whose son, Godwin, 
died in battle against the Danes. Aldhun, bishop 
of Durham, was also married, having a daughter 
who became the wife of one of the earls of North 
umberland. This prelate is worthy of mention, as 
the founder of the ancient city of Durham. The 
Danes were making an inroad in the north, about 
A.D. 995, when the bishop, remembering the ex 
ample of Eardulf, took his departure from Chester- 
;e-Street, and carried the church- vessels, books, and 
relics, to Ilipon. After a short stay here, peace 
being restored, he took his way back towards the 
place where Eardulf had fixed his see ; but when 
they had reached the spot where Durham now 
stands, either some fancied omen, or the goodness 
of the situation as a place of strength, persuaded 
them to remain. It was then a place fortified by 
its natural position, but not easily to be made fit 
for habitation ; a thick wood grew on every part of 
the ground, except the small level at the Inches 



part, on which the cathedral church and its priests 
houses now stand, which one or two peasants cul 
tivated. Here Aldum, A.D. 998, first raised a 
wooden church or stud building, which was speedily 
prepared for divine service, while he proceeded to 
lay the foundations of another church of stone, of 
some extent and a comely edifice. His son-in-law, 
earl Uhtred, and all the people between Coquet and 
Tees, came in bodies to aid in building the church 
and fortifying the city, which became for ages after 
wards the stronghold of the kingdom towards the 


In the time of Elfric s primacy we read of the 
last mission which was undertaken by the English. 
Church before the Eeformation ; for after the Nor 
man conquest, the spirit of missionary enterprise 


was ill exchanged for the crusades. This mission 
was led by Sigefrid, archdeacon of York, who was 
accompanied by Rudolf, Bernard, and several other 
priests ; and the country to which it was sent was 
Sweden and Norway ; Olave, a prince of Sweden, 
having requested king Ethelred to furnish his coun- 
try with teachers of Christianity. This prince had 
a few years before commanded the host of invaders 
in the battle in which Byrthnot fell ; but having 
since become a Christian, and made alliance with 
Ethelred, he received confirmation from an English 
bishop, and the king took him for his godson. 
Sigefrid, after labouring successfully in planting the 
gospel in Sweden, died bishop of Wexio, in the 
province of East Gothland, in that country. Two 
of his nephews had first been martyred, as well as 
others of his companions, by the pagans ; which was 
also the fate of Godbald, another English mission 
ary, who founded a Christian church in Norway 
shortly after, of which he was the first bishop. 
From this mission was also founded another in the 
Orkney and Zetland isles, which were then and for 
many centuries afterwards subject to the king of 
Norway ; and the bishop of Orkney, whose see was 
fixed at Kirkwall, was made a suffragan of the arch 
bishops of York, 

Elfric was succeeded by Elfeah, or Elphege, 
A.D. 1006. In his time the misery of the kingdom 
had come to its height. The ravages of the Danes 
were followed by a severe famine ; then, after a 
short interval, the spoilers returned, and wasted 
the whole country as before. The nobles were at 
variance with each other, and cruelty and treachery 
were in every quarter. In the sixth year of his 
primacy Canterbury was taken. Elfmar, abbot of 
St. Augustine s, whose life the archbishop had saved, 
wh^n he was accused of treason before the king, is 


charged with the heavy guilt of having betrayed 
the city to the Danes. It was felt by the Christian 
people as one of the greatest calamities that befell 
them in these cruel wars, when their Christian ca 
pital, the place from which the gospel had been 
spread through all the land, fell into the hands of 
pagan enemies. The Danes carried the archbishop 
away a prisoner, together with Godwin, bishop of 
Rochester, and all the clergy and other persons 
whom they thought able to pay a ransom for their 
lives. How these fared in their captivity we are 
not informed. In the following spring, A.D. 1012, 
there was a conference between the English coun 
sellors and Danish chiefs at London, where the tri 
bute, amounting to 48,OOOA, was paid down. After 
receiving it, they caroused largely, according to 
their custom, and the chiefs brought forth the arch 
bishop, whom they had before urged to pay a large 
ransom, 3,000/. for his life, but in vain. The aged 
man was weary of the sufferings of his country, and 
determined that no man should incur further loss 
on account of a life, which in the course of nature 
could not continue long. The pagans, maddened 
with disappointment, and inflamed with wine, hewed 
him down with the bones and remnants of their dis 
orderly feast, till one, with a savage kind of pity, 
struck him on the skull with a battle-axe. " His 
holy blood was poured upon the earth," says the 
old chronicler, " and his holy soul mounted upward 
to the realm of God." The English honoured him 
as a saint and martyr; and his name still stands in 
our calendar on the nineteenth day of April, the 
day of his cruel death. 

It is said that when Lanfranc, the first Norman 
archbishop, was newly settled in England, he was 
not well satisfied with the calendar of Saxon saints, 
and particularly with the honour paid to the me- 


mory of Elphege ; of which he one. day complained 
to his friend Anselm, who succeeded him as arch 
bishop. " How unreasonable is it," he said, " to call 
this man a martyr, who died not for the Christian 
faith, but because he would not ransom his life from 
the enemy !" " Nay," replied Anselm, " it is certain 
that he who chose rather to die than offend God by 
a small offence, would much rather have died than 
provoke him by a greater sin. Elphege would not 
ransom his life because he would not allow his de 
pendents to be distressed by losing their property 
for him ; much less, therefore, would he have denied 
his Saviour, if the fury of the people had attempted 
by fear of death to force him to such a crime. He 
who dies for the cause of truth and righteousness is 
a martyr, as St. John the Baptist was ; who suffered, 
not because he would not deny Christ, but because 
he resolved, in maintaining the law of God, not to 
shrink from speaking the truth." There was much 
wisdom and charity in this answer ; and Elphege has 
a better title to the name of saint and martyr than 
many whom the pope has canonised. 

There was now so little safety for king Ethelred, 
that, in the following year the whole country hav 
ing submitted to Sweyne, the Danish king, he fled 
to Normandy, to Richard the second duke of that 
name, whose sister Emma he had married. In the 
course of a few months Sweyne died ; and the 
Council of the Wise sent a message to entreat Ethel- 
red to return, telling him -that " no lord was dearer 
to them than their natural lord, if he would govern 
them better than he did before." He came ; and 
his liegemen fulfilled their promises by raising a 
great force to restore him to his capital. To his 
aid came also king Olave from Norway with a 
powerful fleet, and anchored in the Thames. The 
Danes had then possession both of London and of 


South wark, " a mickle cheap," or market-town, as 
the old Danish history calls it, 3 at that time. This 
they had fortified with a strong mound, and posted 
a large body of troops within ; with whom they had 
a communication from the city by the then London 
bridge, a wooden structure supported on piles, but 
wide enough for two carriages to pass, and sur 
mounted by towers at certain intervals, and a breast 
work on the side which looked down the stream. 
The object of the English and their allies was to cut 
off this communication; an exploit, which, under 
the directions of Olave, they achieved. He con 
structed, from the materials found in old houses 
near the river, some wide platforms or floating bat 
teries ; these were stretched over the decks of his 
ships, so that while the fighting men could annoy 
the enemy from the batteries, the rowers might 
work the vessels below. Rowing up to the bridge, 
under a heavy shower of stones and javelins from 
the Danes behind the breastwork, they succeeded, 
however, in tying strong cables round the wooden 
piles or piers, fastening the other end to the floating 
batteries. It was now only necessary to row off 
again with all the force they could apply ; and the 
wooden piers, loosened by many tugs and pulls in 
all directions, at length gave way. Many of the 
Danes were drowned in the river ; the rest fled into 
the city, or into Southvvark ; which place being 
stormed by the Saxons, those in London surrender 
ed. There can be little doubt that gratitude for 
the remembrance of this service led the English to 
preserve the memory of St. Olave in the churches 
called by his name at each end of London bridge. 
The conversion of this brave warrior to the Chris 
tian faith is said to have been owing to an interview 

Snorro, in Johnstone s Collection, p. 89- a 2. 

CH. XIV.] ST. OLAVE. 269 

with a hermit in the Scilly islands, whom he met 
with in one of his naval expeditions, and who in 
formed him of some danger that awaited him. This 
led to his request for the mission from England, 
which planted Christianity among his countrymen ; 
and to his subsequent alliance with Ethelred. We 
cannot but feel sorrow that it should also have led 
to his untimely death. The enmity of Knute, the 
son of Sweyne, stirred up factions against him in 
his own country ; and he was slain in a tumult of 
his own subjects, A.D. 1030. 

Ethelred, by the bravery and skill of Olave, was 
thus restored to his kingdom ; but his confidence 
was as ill-placed as ever. Edric, earl of Mercia, a 
worse traitor than his father Elfric, after ruining 
his cause, and murdering most of the loyal nobles 
that remained, went over to Knute or Canute, who 
had succeeded to his father s power. In A.D. 1016 
Ethelred died ; and though his warlike son, Ed 
mund Ironside, for a short time raised the hopes of 
the Saxons, his early death, and the destruction of 
their best forces at Assingden, or Essendon, in Hert 
fordshire, left them no choice but submission. 

Knute did one act of public justice soon after 
Edmund s death, in punishing Edric s treasons by a 
well-merited bloody end. In the beginning of his 
reign he was guilty of an act of cruel homicide to 
secure his throne, having slain a brother of Edmund s 
who was heir to the kingdom. He then espoused 
the widow of Ethelred, who had been the second 
wife of that monarch, Emma of Normandy. The 
country by degrees became settled, though the dif 
ferent races of Saxons in the west, Mercians in the 
midland, and Danes in the north, retained some dif 
ferences of coinage and other customs. In the first 
years of Knute, however, a grievous inroad was made 
into Northumberland by the Scots, who destroyed 


great numbers of the inhabitants, earned off greater 
numbers whom they reduced to slavery, and left the 
country almost drsolate. 

The Danes, at this second invasion, do not appear 
to have been such relentless enemies of Christianity 
as at the first. Knute professed himself a Christian ; 
and by the advice of Ethelnoth, a noble Saxon whom 
the Church had elected to the see of Canterbury, he 
sanctioned some good laws both in Church and state. 
He also founded a religious house at Essendon, where 
he had obtained his decisive victory, and aided with 
benefactions three or four older foundations. He 
seems evidently to have considered it necessary to 
his safety that he should establish Christianity by 
law. " First of all," his code of laws begins, " let 
men above all other things ever love one God, and 
constantly keep one Christian faith ; and let them 
love and with right truth obey king Knute." He 
declares that he will administer equal justice to rich 
and poor, and distinguish between offenders, young 
or old, misleading or misled. He directs his magis 
trates to shew mercy, and not to inflict death for 
slight offences, remembering the prayer, " Forgive as 
we forgive." "God s image in man, and his handi 
work, which he so dearly bought, is not to be wasted 
or defaced for a small matter." To the same pur 
pose Alfred had bidden his judges, when they sat on 
the seat of justice, to remember the sentence, " What 
ye would that other men do to you, do ye to other 
men." He who thinks on this, he said, before he 
dooms in a question of right, will need no other 
rule. There is the same repeated here. 

Among the heathenish practices forbidden, be 
sides the worshipping of idols, sun and moon, or 
flowing streams, wells or fountains, or stones, or any 
kind of tree, is a repetition of the law against witches, 
wizards, and poisoners, as in Edward the Elder 1 * 


time ; and mention is made of the practice of heathen 
witches in drawing lots, or burning sticks, or by other 
juggling tricks " framing murder s work" against life 
or limb. There can be no doubt from this exact 
description, that there were cheats and profligates, 
who were still in the habit of practising such mali 
cious charms. 4 

In all these laws of old England religion and law 
were joined together; and God forbid that they 
should ever be parted asunder. But in these more 
simple times the style of the laws is often that of a 
sermon, which was the more natural when the clergy 
were the principal lawgivers, and the way of publish 
ing the laws was for the bishops and the clergy to 
read them to an assembly of the people. " We di 
rect," says one of the laws of king Knute, " that 
each Christian man rightly understand his belief, 
and learn by heart the creed and Lord s prayer. 
For with the one will he rightly pray to God, and 

4 The worthy archbishop Bradwardine, who flourished in 
the reigns of the Norman Edwards, and died A.D. 1349, tells a 
story of a witch, who was attempting to impose on the simple 
people in his time. It was a fine summer s night, and the moon 
was suddenly eclipsed. "Make me good amends," said she, 
" for old wrongs ; or I will bid the sun also to withdraw his 
light from you." Bradwardine, who had studied the Arabian 
astronomers, was more than a match for this simple trick, 
without calling in the aid of Saxon law. " Tell me," he said, 
" at what time you will do this ; and we will believe you. Or 
if you will not tell me, I will tell you when the sun or the moon 
will next be darkened, in what part of their orb the darkness 
will begin, how far it will spread, and how long it will continue." 
It is needless to add that the witch was quite dumb-founded. 
This was two hundred years before the Reformation. How 
miserable to think that one hundred years after it, in the six 
teen years of Cromwell and the Long Parliament, more than 
300 unhappy persons were tried for witchcraft, and the greater 
part were executed ! There had been only fifteen executions for 
a century before, and probably not so many suffered by Saxon 


with the other declare a right belief in him. Christ 
himself first spake the Lord s prayer, and taught it 
to his learning-knights (the Apostles). In that godly 
prayer are seven petitions. He that hath his heart 
in tune with them, speedeth his errands to God in 
every need that man may feel, both for this life and 
for that which is to come. But how may ever man 
pray it inwardly to God, except he have inwardly 
right belief towards God ? Never after death will 
he be in Christ s company in holy rest, nor here in, 
life is he meet to partake the holy housel (the com 
munion), nor is he truly a Christian, who will not 
learn the creed." 

It is remarkable that these laws contain almost 
the earliest mention of the pope as having any legis 
lative control over the English clergy. They direct 
that if a priest commit a murder, he is to be banished 
to a place which the pope shall direct. They ap 
point St. Dunstan s day to be kept, as well as king 
Edward the martyr s ; and in one or two of their 
enactments shew that the archbishop, who was the 
chief adviser, was a friend of monkhood : as, for 
example, whereas it was before ordered that every 
priest should be held equal in rank to an inferior 
thane or gentleman, they were now told that they 
were to be unmarried, if they valued this distinction 
In almost all other respects they shew a spirit of 
mildness and piety. 

Knute had a prosperous reign of nearly twenty 
years, being for the greatest part of the time king of 
Norway and Denmark as well as of England. He 
taxed the English at first heavily, exacting more than 
80,0001. for Dane-gelt on his coming to the throne; 
but he repressed the Scots in the north, and kept his 
army in subjection, so that there was no plundering 
or burning in his time ; and this, after the long suf 
ferings of the country, was cheaply purchased at any 


price. His two sons, Harold and Harthacnute, suc 
ceeded in turn to a short reign ; the younger dying, 
as it appears, at a drunken feast, in A.D. 1042. The 
Saxons, finding the line of Knute come to an end, 
sent for Edward, surnamed the Confessor, the last 
surviving son of Ethelred, from Normandy ; and 
enjoyed a time of peace and prosperity, disturbed 
only by the factions of earl Godwin and his sons, 
and the Norman favourites of the king, until the 
death of Edward made room for the ambition of a 
greater than earl Godwin, William the Conqueror. 

During the twenty-four years of Edward the 
Confessor, the English Church was quietly governed. 
The king, from his Norman education, was biassed 
in favour of foreign churchmen, and made many of 
his chaplains bishops, who were Lorrainers or Nor 
mans by birth. One of these, Herman, having ob 
tained the see of Wilton, created in Edward the 
Elder s reign, found means to unite it with Sher- 
borne ; and not agreeing well with the clergy at 
those places, removed his bishopric to Old Sarum, 
where it remained for about one hundred and seventy 
years. Robert, a monk of Jumieges, having been 
made, in A.~L>. 1050, archbishop of Canterbury, and 
William, another Norman, bishop of London, and 
Ulf of Dorchester, were banished by earl Godwin s 
faction ; but William, who was much esteemed, was 
soon afterwards restored. 5 He was a great bene 
factor to the city of London by his influence with 
William the Conqueror. Leofric, bishop of Exeter, 
though a Burgundian by birth, suited himself so well 

5 The story of Robert s accusing the queen-mother of incon 
tinence, and how, by St. Swithin s help, she walked over the 
burning ploughshares, and that this proof of her innocence led 
to Robert s banishment, must be a fiction. The lady was at 
this time, if ib^was living, about seventy years of age at least, 
for she was jrvarned to Ethelred in A.D. 1002. 


to his adopted country, and took such pains to pre 
serve old English books in his library, that his name 
is still remembered as one of the best patrons of 
learning in Saxon times. But these were exceptions. 
The natural inclination of foreign bishops would be 
to bring in foreign clergy. Another effect of Ed 
ward s foreign preferences was, that with him began 
the mischievous system of founding Alien Priories. 
A priory was a religious house in subjection to an 
abbey, governed by a monk sent from the abbey, 
and obedient to the laws of the society to which it 
was subjected. This was a new kind of foundation, 
which began in England at this time, and helped to 
raise the power of the monasteries. But Edward 
made his priories subject not to any English house, 
but to the abbeys of Normandy : St. Michael s 
Mount in Cornwall, to St. Michael s Mount near 
Avranches in France; Steyning in Sussex, to the 
abbey of Fescamp near Rouen ; Deerhurst in Glou 
cestershire, to St. Denys the famous abbey near 
Paris, where the kings of France were all buried. 
This way of giving English property to the French 
or Norman Church planted little colonies of Nor- 
rnans in England, who were ready, when the time 
came, to advance the interests of the Conqueror. 

Earl Godwin s power stood in opposing these 
proceedings ; but as he was a bold unscrupulous man, 
and his sons more profligate, his cause was not such 
as to command the united support of the country. 
Leofric, earl of Mercia, had been in high trust with 
Knute, and he continued to exercise a useful in 
fluence with Edward. He was also liberal in his 
gifts to the Church, founding several famous abbeys, 
at Coventry, at Chester, at Wenlock in Shropshire, 
and at Derby. The famous Siward, earl of North 
umberland, who put down the Scottish usurper Mac 
beth, was of Danish extraction, and had something 


of religious Feeling joined to his warlike virtues. 
He was the founder of a monastery at York, whici 
is supposed to have stood on the spot now occupied 
by the ruins of St. Mary s abbey. This is the only 
minster which seems to have been built in the north 
of England, as a new foundation, since the coming 
of the Danes. Here Siward was buried, as he had 
desired, having been laid out, as he is said to have 
died, with his armour on. 

It is pleasing to see, at the close of the Saxon 
period, that the enmity between the Welch and Eng 
lish Churches had been much softened. The unfor 
tunate Ethelred had made a mutual alliance with the 
mountaineers against the Danes, which at least put a 
stop to their injuries committed on each other. The 
Welch bishops after this came sometimes on friendly 
visits to the English. There was now, in Knute s 
and Edward s reign, A.D. 1012-1056, a good bishop 
of Hereford named Athelstan, who had rebuilt his 
cathedral church, and for his good deeds was called 
" the worthy." During the last thirteen years of his 
life he had become totally blind, and was unable to 
discharge any of his public duties. All this time 
Tremorin, bishop of St. David s, regularly came to 
visit and confirm for him ; and his visits were ac 
cepted well by the English, who knew him to be 
a religious and holy man. And though war was 
shortly afterwards renewed, when these pious pre 
lates were in their graves, and Leofgar, a warlike 
priest, who succeeded Athelstan, was slain in battle 
by Griffith ap Llewellyn, this beginning of unity no 
doubt led to a more friendly spirit, which at length 
joined together Briton and Saxon by a firmer bond 
than conquest. 



Hard steel succeeded then ; 
And stubborn as the metal were the men. 


DWARD the Confessor had just wit 
nessed the consecration of Westmin 
ster, which he had rebuilt and largely 
endowed as a Benedictine abbey, when 
he died on Epiphany-eve, A.D. 1066. 
His abbey still remains, as the place where the 
kings of England from the time of the Conquest 
have received their earthly crown ; but of these 
none were to be heirs in blood to the pious founder. 
William had visited England fifteen years before, 
and had made some stay at the court of his cousin. 
There seems to have been an expectation among the 
Saxons that he would set up a claim to the throne ; 
and this, perhaps, made them more readily pass over 
Edgar Atheling, the grandson of Edmund Ironside, 
whose youth and want of ability were unequal to the 
public danger, and allow Harold, son of earl God 
win, the late king s brother-in-law, to take the go 
vernment. But in the following autumn, Tosti, 
Harold s brother, who thought his own claim as 
good, brought over the king of Norway with a large 


fleet to support his pretensions ; and scarcely had 
the party of Harold defeated and slain these in 
vaders in the north, when they heard within five 
days afterwards that William was landed. The battle 
of Hastings followed ; and though the grandsons, of 
earl Leofric, Eduin and Morcar, and Waltheof, son 
of Siward, and other Saxon nobles, made many 
efforts to regain their liberty, the end was only to 
bring their country more completely into subjection 
to a foreign yoke. By degrees all the great estates 
which these earls had held were given to William s 
Norman barons ; and the old possessors every where 
banished and outlawed, or in the next generation 
reduced to occupy as tenants the lands that were 
once their own. The worst calamity, however, fell 
upon the poorer classes. The opposition that Wil 
liam had met with in the west and in the north pro 
voked him widely to lay waste the country; and 
thousands are said to have died of famine. 

The Normans, who now came into possession of 
the fairest portion of England, were a people of the 
same original stock as the Danes. One of their 
chiefs or sea-kings named Rolla or Rollo, had gained 
a settlement for his followers in France, in the reign 
of king Alfred ; and his descendants had ruled there 
with the title of dukes of Normandy for nearly two 
hundred years. At first these invaders had burnt 
and plundered, much as they did in England; but 
finding less resistance, they had by degrees become 
settled, and being for the most part at peace with 
the French, had adopted their language, loarnt their 
manners, and for some length of time before the 
Conquest had professed the Christian religion. 

William, at his first coming to the crown, had 
pleaded as his title the will of his cousin Edward; 
but distrust of the Saxons, and the difficulty of se 
curing his new kingdom, made him shortly drop this 


plea for the right of conquest. He indeed treated 
the Church as a conqueror, no less than the state. 
In the course of a few years almost every English 
man was removed, or had given room by death, for 
Normans to succeed them as bishops and abbots of 
the principal monasteries ; and the only way for the 
native clergy to obtain even subordinate offices was 
to conform their manners to the new possessors, and 
learn their language. 

Stigand archbishop of Canterbury, and Ethelsy 
abbot of St. Augustine s, were among the first who 
fell under the Conqueror s displeasure. It is a com 
mon tradition that these two churchmen were the 
advisers of a bold stratagem practised on the in 
vaders by the freeholders of Kent, who are said to 
have assembled in groat force at Swanscombe just 
after the battle of Hastings, and, disguising their 
position by large boughs of trees, took the Con 
queror unawares, and forced him to grant them 
better terms than he imposed upon the rest of the 
nation. The country people in this part of Kent 
still make it their boast that their fathers never were 
conquered ; and it is a remaining proof of the truth 
of the tradition, that the customs respecting pro 
perty in the weald of Kent still keep more of the 
Saxon character than is to be found in other parts 
of England. Stigand appeared after this to be re 
ceived into favour with William ; but he soon took 
occasion to deprive him of his archbishopric, on the 
plea that he had intruded into it while Robert of 
Jumieges was still living, and that pope Benedict X., 
who gave him his pall, was never properly elected 
pope. The means by which this was done was by 
sending to pope Alexander II., and desiring him to 
send a legate or ambassador into the country to act 
with his authority. He sent Ermenfrid, bishop of 
Sion in Switzerland, by whom Stigand was deposed. 


And this is the first instance of a pope s legate being 
received in England. Ethelsy, finding the Normans 
were not likely to spare him, and that they began to 
seize on the lands of his abbey, got together such 
valuables as he could, and sailed to Denmark, where 
many Saxons took refuge, and many others in Scot 
land and Ireland, at this crisis. Stigand for the rest 
of his life remained imprisoned in a monastery at 
Winchester. He is accused of having been a very 
avaricious man ; and this charge is supported by the 
awkward fact that he held the two sees of Canter 
bury and Winchester together. But the accounts 
we have of him come chiefly from Norman writers, 
who were no friends to his memory. 

Egelwin, bishop of Durham, had continued in 
possession of his see for about three years after the 
Conquest, when William, who had laid waste all the 
country between York and Durham in revenge for 
an insurrection of the Saxons in the north, sent a 
baron called Robert Comyn to govern the province 
of Northumberland. Comyn came to Durham with 
a body of nine hundred Normans. The bishop, 
knowing the temper of the Northumbrians, and see 
ing that his force was insufficient, bade him be on 
his guard against a surprise; but he neglected the 
warning, thinking that the dread of William s ven 
geance would secure him from danger. His follow 
ers began to commit some excesses on the inhabit 
ants ; and the people, seeing him unguarded, rose in 
great numbers, took Durham, besieged and burnt 
the bishop s house with Comyn in it, and slew his 
Normans to a man. This dreadful calamity was the 
ruin of Egelwin. He had entertained the unfortu 
nate baron with all courteous hospitality and honour; 
but after what had happened, he foresaw that there 
would be no way of retaining William s confidence 
He resolved, after some hesitation, to join Hereward 


at Ely, the last Saxon who held out against the 
foreign yoke. The Norman, on hearing this, seized 
his brother Egelric, who had formerly been bishop 
of Durham, but had now retired for some years into 
the abbey of Peterborough, where we have seen him 
expending his wealth in works of public usefulness 
and charity. Him he sent prisoner to Westminster, 
where he patiently ended his days in mortification and 
prayer, and was honoured as a saint after his death. 
- Egelwin, with earl Morcar and others, surrendered 
in A.D. 1071; and being imprisoned at Abingdon, 
is said to have died heart-broken, refusing to take 
the sustenance necessary to support life. 1 

Still a few Saxons were left, who by more happy 
circumstances had made their peace with William, 
or gained respect from his imperious temper. Egel 
ric, bishop of Selsey, after whose death the see was 
removed to Chichester, in his infirm old age was 
honoured by the Conqueror as an interpreter of the 
Saxon laws. He received his crown from the hands 
of ALDRED, archbishop of York. Aldred had ad 
vised with the citizens of London, after the battle of 
Hastings, about proclaiming Edgar Atheling ; but 
as there was no help at hand, it was determined to 
receive William, who lost no time in securing his 
advantage. The see of York had very slowly reco- 

1 This is told by a trustworthy chronicler, Simeon of Dur 
ham ; and it bears a remarkable likeness to another anecdote 
of the time, in the Chronicle of the Cid, the great champion of 
Spain, who was the contemporary of William the Conqueror. 
Count Raymond of Barcelona, being taken prisoner by the Cid, 
in like manner disdaining life, refused the food which was offered 
him : " Non combre un bocado," says he, 

" I will not eat one mouthful, not for all the wealth of Spain ; 
Not to redeem my body s life, or my soul from mortal pain, 
Since by such ragged rascal loons I have been forced to yield." 

It was with great difficulty that the Cid broke this stubbornness 
by offering him his liberty without ransom. But poor Egelwin 
was in less merciful hands. 




vereu i^elf from the inroads of the Danes ; and it 
was for a long time so impoverished, these invaders 
having seized on the Church-lands, which were not 
restored, that it was the common practice from the 
time of Alfred for the archbishops of York to hold 
the bishopric of Worcester with that see, as had 
been done by Dunstan s friend OsVald and many 
others. Aldred had held both for about three years 
in the reign of Edward the Confessor ; and while 
he was at Worcester, which he held previously, he 
founded the abbey-church at Gloucester, A.D. 1058 
a foundation which has ince the Reformation be 
come a bishop s see. After he came to - York, he 
secame also the founder or restorer of Ripon Min- 

B B2 


ster, which has remained from his time, and now at 
length has been made once more, what it was in the 
first ages of English Christianity, the church of a 
Christian bishop. He was a man whose talents had 
recommended him to offices of high trust with Ed 
ward the Confessor, having been sent on an embassy 
to the German emperor Henry III. After found 
ing his church at Gloucester, he went on a journey 
to the Holy Land, not as a pilgrim, but worthily 
attended ; and there, as the old chronicle speaks of 
him, " betook himself to God," solemnly renewing 
his vows of obedience, and devoting himself with 
prayer and fasting more earnestly to his Saviour s 
service. In advising his countrymen to submit to 
William, he gave the counsel which eventually proved 
to be the best; but his was no mean submission. 
When he heard of a Norman baron, who had begun 
to build a castle within the precincts of the cathe 
dral-close at Worcester, he hastened to the place, 
and by his bold denunciations of the wrath of God 
against such sacrilege, he alarmed the offender s con 
science, and put a stop to his attempt. 2 Besides this, 
it is said that he did much while Ire lived to soften 
the fierce spirit of William ; and bound him by a 
religious promise to preserve his people, and defend 
the rights of Christianity. 3 It was happy for him 
that he died just before the fatal attempt of the 
Saxon nobles at York, A.D. 1069, when the cathedral 
was burnt to the ground, and the dreadful slaughter 
and wide-wasting famine that followed laid desolate 
the whole county. Yet even then the respect for 
Aldred s memory seems to have had some weight 

2 His address is said to have begun in very plain Saxon : 
" High test thou Urse ? Have thou God s curse:" i.e. Art 
thou called Urse ? &c., that being the name of the Norman 
baron. Malmsbury, de Pontiff. 1. iii. 

3 William of Newborough ; quoted by Hooker, E. P. vii. 1 


with the revengeful Conqueror. When, fifteen years 
afterwards, the survey of Domesday Book was taken, 
almost the only estate that was left populous and 
prosperous was the archbishop s at Sherborne, a 
little southward of York. This still continued to 
pay the land-tax as in Edward s time, while the 
manor of Whitby had fallen from 112/. to sixty 
shillings, and others in much the same proportion, 
being ieft without dwellings or inhabitants ! 

WULFSTAN, bishop of Worcester, was a man 
whose holy simplicity of life gained him al.-o a 
peaceful possession of his see both in the reign of 
the Conqueror and William Rufus. There was in 
deed an attempt made to deprive him of it. W T hen 
the removal of Stigand had enabled the Norman 
churchmen to follow up in the Church the pattern 
their master had set them in the state, there was a 
council held in Westminster Abbey, under Lanfranc 
the new primate, in which many English prelates 
and priests were displaced ; and among other pre 
texts, it seems that ignorance of the Norman or 
French language was then thought a sufficient rea 
son for depriving them. Wulfstan was called to 
give up his pastoral staff. He arose, and holding it 
in his hand, " I confess," he said, " I am not worthy 
of this dignity, nor sufficient for its duties. I knew 
it when the clergy elected me, when the prelates 
forced it upon me, and my master summoned me to 
the office. But you require of me the staff which 
you did not deliver, and take from me the honour 
which you did not confer. I am ready to obey the 
decree of this holy council ; but I resign the staff not 
to you, but to him by whose authority I received 
it." With these words he advanced to the tomb of 
king Edward, and, as if addressing himself to the 
dead, " Master," he said, " thou knowest how un 
willingly I took upon myself this charge, forced 


upon me more by thy pleasure than the choice of 
the brethren, the wishes of the people, or the con 
sent of the prelates and favour of the nobles, though 
none of these was wanting. Behold, new people 
fill the land, a new king is on the throne, a new pri 
mate, and new laws. They accuse thee of error in 
having commanded, and me of presumption in having 
obeyed. To thee, therefore, I resign the charge 
which I never sought : thou, who art now with God, 
canst best tell whether in committing it to me thou 
wast deceived." So saying, he laid his crosier upon 
the tomb, and took his seat a*- a simple monk among 
the monks. This solemn appeal from a grave and 
venerable man moved the consciences of those who 
heard it. Lanfranc was struck by it ; he persuaded 
William to allow him to retain his see, and conti 
nued the firm friend of Wulfstan ever after. 4 

Wulfstan was a great admirer of the Venerable 
Bede, and had dedicated a church to his name in the 
beginning of his ministry as bishop. On the occa 
sion of his dedicating a church he used always to 
preach ; and great crowds flocked to hear his preach 
ing; and no wonder, for he took that way of preach 
ing which must always command hearers. He so 
managed his text, that he always spoke of Christ, 
always set Christ as it were in view of those who lis 
tened to his words, nay, he brought in Christ, when 
the mention of his name might seem almost cross to 
his matter. He was a favourer of monasteries, en 
couraging Alwin, a monk or hermit, to build one at 
Great Malvern ; the fine church of which founda 
tion, though the building is of a later age, still re 
mains. This monastery arose at that time on the site 
of a hermitage in the wild forest which surrounded 

4 Tte miracle, which is commonly appended to this story 
must be left out of present consideration. 


it on every side. He also rebuilt the cathedral 
church at Worcester. On the day that he began 
this work, he was observed by one of his monks 
standing in silent sadness in a corner of the church 
yard, groaning inwardly. The monk modestly ex 
postulated with him: "Surely," he said, "you ought 
rather to rejoice that such things can be" done for 
your church in your time ; that buildings are now 
erected in a style of beauty and splendour unknown 
to our fathers." I judge differently," said Wulf- 
stan ; we are pulling down the labours of holy 
men, that we may gain honour and reputation to 
ourselves. The good old time was, when men knew 
not how to build magnificent piles, but thought any 
roof good enough, if under it they could offer them- 
selves a willing sacrifice to God. It is a miserable 
change, if we neglect the souls of men, and pile 
together stones." These words were only too pro 

It is said that in Wulfstan s time the practice of 
selling men and women for slaves was still secretly 
kept up by some traders at Bristol, who carried them 
over into Ireland. The laws of the Conqueror for 
bade this, as it had before been forbidden by Alfred 
and the earliest Christian monarchs; but" neither 
the fear of the king nor the love of God was strong 
enough to break off the iniquitous traffic. The good 
man was bitterly grieved at it; and paying more than 
one visit to Bristol, he stayed there two or three 
months at a time, preaching every Sunday, and la 
bouring to turn their hearts to mercy and brotherly 
love. The effect of these pastoral admonitions was 
something beyond what he had expected. The prac 
tice was not only abolished, but public opinion was 
strongly aroused against the slave-dealers. And when, 
a few years afterwards, one viler than the rest at 
tempted to revive the trade, the people rose in tumult, 


led him out of the city, and inflicted such wounds on 
his face and eyes, that he was blind ever after. 

Wulfstan was a mild and affectionate counsellor 
in cases of conscience, making friends of all who 
chose him for their confessor. His charity to the 
poor was most abundant ; his purse was their trea 
sury. His devotion was much moved by the sight 
of beauty in childhood : " What must be the fair 
beauty of the Creator," he said, " whose creatures 
are made so fair !" He divided his hours carefully, 
so that every day he found time for devotional read 
ing and prayer, often in company with the younger 
clergy who were part of his household, and sometimes 
alone. Whether he was walking or sitting, says one 
who wrote his life, whether he rose up or lay down, 
the psalm was ever on his lips, and Christ always in 
his thoughts. He died at the advanced age of eighty- 
eight, A.D. 1095. 

Among the writings of the early English Church 
is a sermon in the Saxon or ancient English lan 
guage, which is thought to be bishop Wulfstan s. 
It is an excellent plain discourse on the Catholic 
faith, explaining Scripture mysteries in an easy fami 
liar style ; as may be seen by the following example, 
where he speaks of the generation or begetting of the 
blessed Son of God : 

" The Son is not wrought or shapen, but be 
gotten ; and yet he is alike old and alike everlasting 
with his Father. His begetting is not as our beget 
ting. When a man begetteth a son, and his child is 
born, the father is greater and the son is less ; and 
while the son waxeth, the father groweth old. Where 
fore thou findest not among men father and son to be 
equal or alike. But I will give thee an example how 
thou mayest understand God s begetting. Fire be 
gets of itself brightness ; and the brightness is alike 
old with the fire : the fire is not of the brightness, 


but the brightness is of the fire : the fire begets the 
brightness, and is never without its brightness. As 
then thou hearest that the brightness is all as old as 
the fire that it cometh of, so grant that God may be 
get a Son as old and as everlasting as himself." 

Another Saxon who retained the favour of Wil 
liam was Ingulf, abbot of Croyland. He had served 
the Conqueror as a private secretary at his court in 
Normandy during the reign of Edward, and was thus 
enabled to provide for his own safety, and to do some 
good to his suffering countrymen. He was by birth 
a Londoner. His history of his own abbey is one of 
the most valuable records of the age of the Conquest. 

Turgot, a native of Lincolnshire, another histo 
rian of this time, was a Saxon of good family; and in 
his youth, after the Normans had gained possession 
of England, was kept, with other youths, as a hostage 
in Lincoln castle for the peace of that part of the 
country. Hence he contrived to escape to Grimsby, 
and took ship to the coast of Norway, where he got 
an introduction to the king s court, taught sacred 
learning and psalmody to the Danes, and made some 
stay in that country. Then returning to England, 
he became a monk at Durham, prior of the society 
there, and at length bishop of the see of St. Andrews, 
in Scotland, erected by king Malcolm III. as the 
primate s see, A.D. 1108, but for that time and long 
after subject to the archbishops of York. 

We must now take a short view of the effect of 
these changes upon the English Church. In the first 
place, they went far to deprive the people of a native 
ministry. For nearly one hundred years after the 
Conquest, not a single Saxon was promoted to any 
bishopric or other eminent place in the Church. 
These places were filled by Normans or foreigners, 
few of whom could speak a word of English ; so that 
Thomas, the first Norman archbishop of York, re- 


quested Wulfstan to visit his churches for him, fear 
ing the dislike of the people, whose language was 
unknown to him ; and it was nearly a full century 
Jter the death of Wulfstan before they heard an 
other sermon from a bishop which they could under 
stand. The only preachers, except where a Saxon 
landlord was left here and there, who might pro 
mote a countryman to a village-church, were the 
poor Saxon monks, who sometimes followed the 
good example of St. Cuthbert, and wandered over 
the moors to the villages which lay within a short 
distance of their monasteries. After the wide-wast 
ing war and famine of bread, followed another fa 
mine of hearing the word of the Lord. And whereas, 
in the time of Aldhelm and Alfred and Elfric, the 
people had been accustomed to hear the Apostles 
creed, the Lord s prayer, and the Psalms, in their 
own language, all was now locked up in Latin, and 
the whole public service became to them only a show 
and a sound. 

Another evil was, that the greater proportion of 
the Normans, whom their kings sought to advance, 
had more of the temper of military chiefs or barons 
than of bishops. There were many Saxon bishops 
and abbots who died in battle during the Danish in 
vasions ; but war was not a part of their profession; 
it was undertaken in the extremity of their country s 
danger against pagan enemies, to give their defence 
something of a sacred character. When the old 
English chronicler speaks of one who died fighting 
against the Welch, he says, as if it were something 
very different, " he wore his knapsack in his priest 
hood, until he was made a bishop. After his bishop- 
hood he abandoned his chrism and his cross, his 
ghostly weapons, and took to his spear and to his 
sword, and so marched against Griffith the Welch 
king. But he was there slain, and his priests with 

CH. XV. J \ja.aiAH uISHOl S. 289 

him." The Normans, on the contrary, were as often 
in the field as in council; and not only partook in 
the civil business and political parties, but led their 
troops to battle, fortified castles, and governed as the 
king s lieutenants in provinces, or took the adminis 
tration of the whole realm. It was a bad sign when 
Robert of Jumieges held the first bishop s castle in 
England. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, brother-in-law of 
the Conqueror, was a great warrior. Ranulph Flam- 
bard, made by William Rufus bishop of Durham, 
after having filled the office of treasurer or procura 
tor of taxes, went to build castles and plot treasons 
in the north. Roger, bishop of Old Sarum in the 
reign of Henry I., his nephew Alexander bishop of 
Lincoln, and Henry of Blois bishop of Winchester 
and brother of king Stephen, built and held an enor 
mous number of castles. It is plain that if the Nor 
man kings had continued, without a check, to fill the 
Church with such bishops, the sees would have been 
occupied by cunning lawyers, plotting statesmen, or 
bluff swordsmen, instead of ministers of truth and 

The union of offices so ill assorted was in itself 
an evil, even where the man was one whose charac 
ter did not misbecome his profession. The Conque 
ror having fortified the castle of Durham, after the 
death of Comyn gave it to the keeping of the new 
bishop Walcher, whom he made earl of Northum 
berland and his governor in the north. Walcher 
was a mild-tempered man, who invited monks from 
the southern provinces, and began to restore Bede s 
monastery of Jarrow, Whitby, and other places of 
ancient name for learning. But he was too gentle 
for his office of civil governor. There was a Saxon 
thane or noble, who had been stripped of most of his 
property, but resided at Durham, and was highlv 
esteemed for his virtues and ialents by the people 


The bishop became acquainted with him, and was 
much guided by his counsel in the government of 
the province ; and nothing could be better contrived 
to appease the spirits of the Northumbrians, smarting 
under the cruel oppressions which they had suflered. 
But there was a vile priest among the retainers of 
Walcher, who saw with a jealous eye the increasing 
influence of the Saxon Leolf. The Norman sheriff 
was equally provoked by it, as it checked his own 
acts of rapine and extortion. These men, the arch 
deacon Leobwin and the sheriff Gilbert, caused Leolf 
to be assassinated. The bishop, who ought to have 
seen justice done upon the murderers, contented him 
self by publicly protesting that he was not privy to 
their crime ; and in the mean time they continued to 
hold their offices, and to pillage, one the property of 
churches and churchmen, the other of the English 
freeholders. The Northumbrians meditated revenge. 
Walcher, accompanied by Gilbert and Leobwin, had 
gone to Gateshead, one of the most ancient Saxon 
towns, and the seat of an ancient monastery in the 
north. Here some of the old inhabitants were to 
meet him, and counsel was to be taken for preserv 
ing the public peace. But hearing that their two 
enemies were in his company, the people rose in tu 
mult and demanded that they should be surrendered 
to them. The bishop, with his attendants, retreated 
into a church, from which he came forth and at 
tempted to speak and pacify the angry multitude, 
when a voice was heard from the midst of them, 
" fhort rede, good rede (the shortest counsel is the 
best); slay ye the bishop." The words were scarcely 
spoken, when a shower of javelins was hurled against 
him, and he fell, pierced with many wounds. The 
Northumbrians slew the sheriff by a like death ; and 
as Leobwin would not come out from the church, 
fired it over his head, and despatched him as he was 


discovered half-burnt to death amidst the blazing 

The monasteries had their full share of the mise 
ries of this bitter time. In one of the first years of 
his reign, William, hearing that many Saxons had 
placed their treasure in these religious houses, as in 
i place of safety, ordered them to be generally rifled. 
His barons often seized upon their lands, and the 
abbot had sometimes yielded them in hope of re 
taining peaceably what was left. But nothing was 
more felt as a grievance than the attempt which was 
made to change their service-books. A fierce old 
Norman priest, Thurstan, who had obtained the 
abbey of Glastonbury, began to command the Saxon 
monks to lay aside the old order of pope Gregory, 
which had been in use from the foundation of the 
English Church, and to adopt a new form com 
posed by William of Fescamp, a monk of Normandy. 
When they refused, to terrify them into compliance, 
he brought a body of Norman archers to the door 
of the abbey-church. The monks attempted to bar 
the door, and a fray ensued, in which three of them 
were shot to death and eighteen wounded. It is 
true that Thurstan was shortly after deprived of his 
office; and this evil was remedied, when OSMUND. 
a learned and pious bishop of Old Sarum, A.D. 1078- 
1099, compiled the Salisbury missal and manual, a 
prayer-book in Latin, containing many which still 
have a place in the English Prayer-book, and which 
was used in the greatest number of English churches, 
and in \Vales, Scotland, and Ireland, to the time of 
die Reformation. 

Nor was the oppression of the Church by any 
means so grievous in the time of William the Con 
queror, as it was in the reign of some of his succes 
sors, notwithstanding these outrages. LANFRAKC, 
who was now placet 1 at the head of it, was a man of 


wisdom and prudence, who had skill enough to re 
strain some of the outbreaks of his imperious mas 
ter, and to check the encroachments of his barons. 
Lanfranc was a native of Pavia in the north of Italy; 
and being left an orphan at an early age, took 
to the profession of teaching for his support. The 
schoolmasters of those times were a wandering race, 
who often shifted from one city to another, as the 
chances of assembling scholars were more promis 
ing. He taught with some reputation in Italy and 
in France, and at Avranches in Normandy ; when, 
hearing that another countryman of his was found 
ing the abbey of Bee near Rouen, he determined 
to become a monk under him. He was afterwards 
prior of this monastery; from which came several of 
the early Norman archbishops of Canterbury. Here 
his learning and talents recommended him to the 
notice of William, who in a short time made him his 
chief counsellor. But this friendship was soon inter 
rupted. William was desirous of marrying a daughter 
of a count of Flanders, who was too near a cousin to 
be approved as a match for him by the churchmen 
of that age. Lanfranc opposed it. The fiery duke 
banished him his court, and shortly after from his 
dominions ; and suiting his action to the word, to 
shew that he meant to make Normandy too hot to 
hold him, burnt a village belonging to the abbey. 
Lanfranc set out on his journey, riding a lame horse, 
the best the monks could furnish him with, but which 
at every step lowered its head almost to the ground. 
Thus ill-equipped for speed, he met his master going 
to the chase : " I wish," said he, " to obey your man 
date ; but I see I must leave your dominions on foot, 
unless you will have compassion and furnish me with 
a better horse." William, like other angry men, was 
softened by a harmless jest: "Who ever heard," 
said he, "of a culprit asking his judge to make him 


a present?" In short, he gave him a hearing, and 
restored him to a favour and influence which he 
never lost. The burnt village was rebuilt, and the 
abbey enriched with new grants. 

William had discernment enough to perceive the 
advantage his government had derived in Normandy 
I rom the counsels of Lanfranc. He had promoted 
him to the abbey of Caen, and had offered him the 
archbishopric of Rouen. He had gone on several 
embassies about the affairs of the Norman Church 
to Rome; for the ties between that Church and the 
pope were much closer before the Conquest than 
those of the Church of England. In these embassies 
Lanfranc had conducted himself with strict loyalty 
towards his master; and this virtue he eminently 
displayed when he was placed at Canterbury. He 
was entrusted with the administration of the king 
dom while William was absent on a visit to Nor- 
mandy ; and his promptitude in sending information 
of the conspiracy of the earls of Norwich and Here 
ford greatly contributed to the putting down of that 
dangerous attempt. He continued after the Con 
queror s death to support the cause of Rufus, whom 
he considered to have the title of his father s will ; 
and this king is said to have owed most of his secu 
rity to the firmness of Lanfranc and Wulfstan. 

As a churchman, he did not omit to do what 
seemed requisite for the good government of his 
own province. He procured first a restoration of 
the property which the foreign barons had seized, 
citing the Conqueror s half-brother Odo, bishop of 
Bayeux, whom he had made earl of Kent, to give 
back the lands of the church of Canterbury, and 
gaining the king s order for a general restitution. 
He took some pains to see that the clergy were 
every whore furnished with correct copies of the 

service-books. He then rebuilt the cathedral- church 


of Canterbury, procuring for that purpose stone from 
beyond sea from the quarries near Caen in Nor 
mandy, where he had resided. The western tower 
of this cathedral, as it was built by Lanfranc, was 
standing only a few years since, the rest having been 
destroyed by h re about a hundred years after his 
time. When the clergy of the cathedral of Canter 
bury lately found it necessary to rebuild this also, 
they followed Lanfranc s example, and brought over 
their stone from Caen. He placed his friend Gun- 
dulph, a monk of the abbey of Bee, in the see of 
Rochester, who was a man of excellent character 
for wisdom and charity ; and he appointed Paul, a 
monk of Caen, to the abbey of St. Alban s, which 
this abbot rebuilt in a style of magnificence hitherto 
unknown in England. 

Lanfranc was a man of great liberality, and a 
kind patron of the distre*H. He founded two hos 
pitals or almshouses near the city of Canterbury 
and endowed them with a yearly income for thei 
support. And he made the same provision which 
we have seen made by archbishop Wulfred for the 
yearly maintenance of a certain number of helpless 
poor from his manors. His preference for monk 
hood was shewn in a new collection of rules which 
he drew up for the Benedictine monasteries, which 
we shall have occasion shortly to refer to. What 
was worse, he began the attempt, which was after 
wards repeated by Anselm, of enforcing single life 
upon all the clergy. This was done in compliance 
with pope Hildebrand, or Gregory VII., who had 
succeeded to the pontificate shortly after the Con 
quest, A.D. 1074, and is the great founder of what 
is properly called popery ; who had issued his com 
mands that all priests should either quit their livings 
or their wives. He was also the first teacher in this 
country who maintained t.bc doctrine of transub 


stantiation. He was led into it by a dispute in 
Italy with a French clergyman called Berenger, arch 
deacon of Angers, and a teacher of eminent learning, 
who seems to have held the true primitive doctrine, 
" that the holy bread on the altar is the body of 
Christ, but that it is still bread after consecration." 
On the contrary, Lanfranc says, " I believe that the 
earthly substances, which are consecrated on the 
Lord s table by the ministry of the priests, are in 
an unspeakable, incomprehensible, and wonderful 
manner, by power from above, turned into the sub 
stance of the Lord s body, though the appearances 
of the things themselves, and some other qualities, 
remain ; and though the Lord s body itself is in 
heaven at the right hand of the Father, remaining 
immortal, whole, unbroken, and unhurt : so that it 
may be truly said that we receive the same body 
which he took from the Virgin, and yet not the 
same ; the same as to its substance, and proper 
nature, and virtue, but not the same if regarded as 
to the appearance of bread and wine." It is a pity 
he did not see that a true declaration of Christian 
faith does not lie in reconciling contradictions; that 
though we find in Scripture much that is above our 
reason, we are not required to believe what is con 
trary to it. He did not, however, press this belief 
as an article of faith upon the Church ; and both he 
and his successor Anselm spoke with caution and 
reverence on the subject " It is a safe way," says 
Lanfranc, " to believe a mystery of faith ; curiously 
to question about it is unprofitable." 

One remarkable change was brought in, perhaps 
in consequence of this new doctrine. The commu 
nion-tables in the Saxon churches were almost always 
made of wood ; they were now taken down, and stone 
tables or altars generally set up. 1 It was most likely 

1 Malmsbury, Life of Wulfstan. It has been objected to 
this statement, that Bede speaks of a stotie altar (ii. 14), and 


with a knowledge of this fact, that bishop Ridley at 
the Reformation ordered the v/ooden tables to be 
restored. The restoration would have been unneces 
sary, had not the sacrifice of the mass made so great 
an abuse of the stone altars. As it was, it was well 
to return to the more general ancient practice of 
the early English Church. 

that in archbishop Egbert s collection of canons there is one for 
bidding any form of consecration to be used over altars not made 
of stone. But the passage in Bede seems to prove that stont 
was not the common material ; and the canon referred to was 
not passed by the Saxon Church, but copied by Egbert, among; 
many from different sources, from one enacted at the synod of 
Epone in France, A.D. 509. In the primitive Church either 
material was used indifferently, as St. Athanasius bears witness. 
Nor is there any reason why either may not be used now. Bui 
tl,e case was different when the Norman bishops destroyed the 
Tt-oden altars, and mcroduced a new doctrine to^^er with the 
nse of stone. 



So pass d we with slow steps through that sad realm 
Of storm and spirits foul ; and, as we pass d, 

Still touch d a little on THE LIFE TO COME. 


AD the nations of Europe been governed 
by wise and generous sovereigns, who 
sought to reign in the love and loyal 
affections of their people, or had the 
people been in the secure enjoyment 
of their liberty and property, such a power as that 
of the Roman popes could never have arisen. Still 
less would it have found abettors in the friends of 
religion and virtue, and those whose desire was to 
restore the cause of justice and equal laws. But 
when this new dominion arose, the world was out of 
joint ; might was exalted against right : warlike lords 
established an iron rule by force of arms, and gave 
the subject people to be the prey of their military 
chiefs, whose castles were turned into prisons and 
houses of torture to all who refused to do their 
bidding or submit to their exactions. To those who 
were groaning under this heavy yoke, the name of 


the good father of Christendom came as the signal 
of deliverance, the watchword of liberty, the refuge 
in distress. It was the name of the only power on 
earth that was able to check the course of wrong 
and robbery, to provide a place of shelter for suffer 
ing innocence, to bow down the neck of pride. 

This was the secret of the power of the popes, 
which never prevailed in England but when the 
rulers were tyrannical and licentious, and was suc 
cessfully withstood and controlled when laws were 
well administered, and when there was prudence 
and stedfastness in the counsels of the state. But 
when pope Hildebrand began his encroachments on 
the power of kings, there was great need that there 
should be some one, who like him should proclaim 
himself the assertor of justice, the reformer of 
morals, and restorer of religion. That which other 
proud bishops of Rome had before attempted in 
vain, he and his successors easily accomplished ; 
for the Church, which early Christian princes had 
cherished and protected, was now treated as a cap 
tive or a slave, pillaged and spoiled, or turned to 
a means of provision for worthless favourites, who 
wasted in thriftless luxury the portion given them 
for the service of God. 

After the death of Lanfranc, the see of Canter 
bury was left to the disposal of William Rufus, who 
kept it open for four years, while he plundered its 
revenues. Other bishoprics, abbeys, and priories, 
as they fell vacant, he took in the same way into 
his own hands. How long this would have con 
tinued rs uncertain, had not a fit of sickness alarmed 
his conscience. ANSELM, abbot of Bee, happened 
at this time to be in England, on a visit to a Nor 
man baron. He was mentioned to Rufus as a fit 
man for the primacy, acceptable to the clergy, to 
whom he was known from his intimacy with Lan- 


franc, and one who had been in high esteem with 
the king his father. Anselm was sent for; but un 
dertook the office with great unwillingness, saying 
to those who persuaded him to it, "It is like yoking 
a poor old sheep to the same plough with a young 
untamed bull." And so it proved. The king re> 
covered, and became a sincere penitent in a wrong 
sense ; he repented earnestly that he had given up 
the archbishopric and other sees, and desired Anselm 
to furnish him with a thousand pounds. Anselm 
honestly refused ; and lost his favour for ever. He 
was made to suffer as many grievances as could well 
be inflicted, without direct violence to his person. 
He was attacked with groundless lawsuits, his friends 
were imprisoned or banished without the pretence 
of justice; and at length he retired to France, whence 
he proceeded shortly to Rome. 

It is nothing surprising if such injustice made 
Anselm more earnestly bent upon providing for the 
Church that succour and means of defence, which 
his Italian education had taught him to consider 
as appointed for this end. This excellent man, for 
such he was, became the means of gaining to the 
popes the right of investiture, the ceremony of de 
livering a ring and crosier, or pastoral staff, to a 
bishop or mitred abbot, on his succeeding to his 
preferment. The kings of the countries in Western 
Europe had enjoyed this right, till Gregory VII., in 
the first year of his popedom, had claimed it for the 
see of St. Peter, and forbade sovereigns to exercise 
it under pain of excommunication. But this decree 
had no effect in England, till Anselm obtained the 
right for pope Pascal II., after a long contest with 
Henry I. It seems to us at this day astonishing 
how the kings, whose power was in other respects 
almost absolute, should have been obliged to yield 
to a claim of this kind, which took out of their 


hands in a great measure the power of giving awav 
the preferment of the Church, or of keeping their 
due influence over it. But tyranny is weak : their 
own abuse of their power had prepared the way for 
the loss of it. The cause of the Church s independ 
ence was felt, as it will ever be in the like hazard, 
to be the cause of righteousness and truth, and the 
i avour of the people attended it. As Anselm came 
out from one of his interviews with Rufus, a com 
mon soldier stepped forward from the ranks of the 
king s guard : " Be comforted, good father," he said ; 
" your children pray for you. Remember, while 
you suffer these humiliations, how Job on the dung 
hill gave Satan the foil, which Adam could not give 
in paradise." When he went down to the coast, to 
take his last journey to Rome in the reign of Henry, 
he was attended by crowds, not only of clergymen, 
but of the citizens of Canterbury and country-people, 
who prayed for his success and safe return. 

How could it be otherwise ? The whole coun 
try, saving the portion of the Church, where that 
was left unimpaired, had been portioned out to 
no more than about seven hundred foreigners, too 
powerful for subjects, and often raising conspiracies 
and wars against their king, and who had no way 
of securing their own safety from the provoked 
commoners, but by going every where armed and 
attended, executing military law on a country that 
%vas at peace. 1 The king, having little help from 
them, and often not daring to enforce obedience on 
such refractory spirits, sought to supply his extra 
vagance or need by the spoil of the unresisting. 

1 Godfrey, bishop of Coutances, one of the Conqueror s 
chief counsellors, held more than two hundred and fifty manors, 
principally in Somerset and Devon. Ivo Talbois, about one 
hundred in Lincolnshire only. Odo, bishop of Bayeux, and 
the countess Judith his niece, William Peverel, William de 
Warenne, and others, had equal or still larger grants. 


Even Henry I., though justly reported as one of 
the mildest and most accomplished of the early 
Norman kings, followed with the Church the plan 
pursued by Rufus. His preferments were sold for 
money : and the clergy were taxed, as by others of 
his successors, to a large proportion of the yearly 
amount of their livings. On his first coming to the 
crown, he recalled Anselm from the banishment into 
which he had been driven by his brother ; but the 
proceedings of the archbishop in a council held at 
London, A.D. 1103, where he deprived several abbots 
rt ho had bought their offices, gave him an alarm. 
OP Anselm s refusing to consecrate a bishop whom 
he had appointed, he first agreed that each should 
appeal to the pope ; but when the sentence was 
given against him, he directed his minister to tell 
the archbishop, that he would not receive him again 
into the kingdom without submission. Anselm was 
then on his return from Rome, and on receiving this 
message remained at Lyons ; while for a year and 
four months Henry seized on the lands of Canter 
bury, and converted all to his own use, in defiance 
of his plighted word. 

Before the Conquest, the bishops, after being 
elected by the clergy, were approved by the Witen- 
agemot, where the bishops, some of the abbots, earls, 
and king s thanes, sat together. But in reality the 
appointment belonged to the Church. 2 At first, the 
bishops of the province elected; after Dunstan s time, 

2 King Wihtred of Kent, A.D. 604, gave this law for the 
election of bishops : " When it happens that a bishop dies, let 
it be made known to the archbishop, and let such a one as is 
worthy be chosen with his advice and consent. And let the 
archbishop make inquiry into his character ; and let no man be 
chosen or consecrated to so holy an office but with the arch 
bishop s advice. Kings ought to appoint earls and sheriffs and 
dnornsmen (judges) ; and the archbishop ought to teach and 
govern God s Church, and to choose and appoint bishops." 


the monks or clergy of the vacant cathedral often 
claimed it. There are very few instances, and those 
chiefly in the time of Edward the Confessor, when 
their election was set aside. At the same time, the 
wishes of a wise or powerful sovereign often influ 
enced the election, but by no means controlled it; 
for it was the common preamble to their laws, thai 
the Church should be free. 

William the Conqueror, notwithstanding the 
wrongs done at the beginning of his reign to the 
Saxon bishops, yet respected this liberty ; and after 
he had gained the primacy for Lanfranc, was chiefly 
guided by his counsel in all that concerned the 
Church. On the other hand, Lanfranc was in no 
haste to admit pope Hildebrand s claim to the inves 
titure; so far from it, that he did not presume, with 
out the consent of his master, to acknowledge him 
for pope. In A.D. 1080, the German emperor Henry 
IV., with a large party of his own bishops, having 
set up an archbishop of Ravenna against Hilde- 
brand, with the title of Clement III., cardinal Hugo, 
one of the emperor s ministers, wrote to Lanfranc in 
behalf of this anti-pope. His answer was wise and 
cautious, and shews how far he was from wishing to 
surrender the liberty of the English Church to Rome 
while the rights of the Church were secured by tht 
protection of the king : 

" I have received your letter," he says, " and 
read it ; but some part of it has not satisfied me. I 
do not approve of your calling pope Gregory Hilde- 
brand, or the abuse you give him, or your speaking 
of his legates as little thorns in your side. You 
sopak very much in praise of Clement, and in my 
opinion too much ; for we are not to praise a man 
without reserve till death has sealed his character, 
and even then we know little, and cannot tell with 
certainty what he is, or how he may appear in the 

CH. XVI. J HENRY I. 303 

sight of God. I believe, however, that the emperor 
has not ventured on so bold a step without reason, 
and has not prospered so far without great help 
from God. I cannot advise you to come into Eng 
land, unless you first receive the king of England s 
leave. For our island has not yet refused the first- 
elected pope, nor published any resolution whether 
we are to obey the last. When the cause has been 
heard on both sides, we shall be able to see more 
clearly what ought to be done." William continued 
to acknowledge Gregory. 

Henry I., on coming to the throne, had issued a 
charter promising full amendment of the grievances 
inflicted by Rufus ; who left at his death the arch 
bishopric of Canterbury, the bishoprics of Winches 
ter and Salisbury, and eleven abbeys, all let to farm. 
" I promise," the words of this charter run, " that 
I will neither sell nor let to farm, nor on the death 
of any archbishop, bishop, or abbot, take any fee 
from the domain of his church, or from his tenants, 
till his successor enters upon it. In reverence to 
God, and out of the love I have to all my subjects, 
I make God s holy Church free." After this pro 
mise, besides treating the property of Canterbury 
as has just been mentioned, in the following year 
having gained possession of Normandy, and his fears 
and respect for the English being removed, he gave 
up the country almost to the license of military 
plunder. " It is not easy to describe," says the old 
English chronicler, 3 " the misery which the land 
was now suffering through various and manifold 
unright. Fines and impositions never ceased ; and 
wheresoever the king went, there was harrowing 
without check allowed to all his servants upon the 
wretched people : and with it often was joined burn- 

3 Sax. Chron. A.D. 1104. 


ing of houses and manslaughter. All was done Ihht 
could provoke the anger of God and vex the miser 
able nation." " You might see," says another who 
lived at the time, 4 " those who had nothing to give 
to the exactors, driven out of their little homes ; or 
their houses, the doors torn off the hinges and carried 
away, offered to public pillage." This was done in 
the land where the old Saxon law had made every 
man s house his castle. As to the clergy, " every 
parish-church was put under a fine, and the parson 
was to pay a ransom for his liberty." About two 
hundred parish -priests, clothed in surplices and 
barefoot, as if they had been doing penance or on a 
pilgrimage, went in a body to wait at the king s pa 
lace-door in London, and entreat his mercy; but with 
no success. . Such was the scene in one year of the 
reign of this most gentle of the Norman Conqueror s 
sons; who yet is acknowledged to have maintained 
much authority for the laws, and left behind him 
the character of a king who protected the property 
and lives of his subjects, and made misdoers afraid 
of his vengeance. 

There is one name in his reign deserving mention 
in the Christian history of old England, and it is the 
name of one to whom probably the king owed the 
few redeeming qualities he seems to have possessed. 
This was his queen MATILDA, the niece of Edgar 
Atheling, and daughter of Malcolm king of Scot 
land. His marriage with her at his accession to the 
throne went far to reconcile the English to a sove 
reign who thus restored what they thought " the 
right royal race of England." She had been edu 
cated in a nunnery; such religious houses being at 
this period the only places of education, as well as 
the best places of security, for the modest innocence 

* Eadmer. 

CH. XVI.] 



of voung women of the highest rank. Many 
wno had taken such refuge in the Conqueror s 
reign were afterwards restored to their friends by 
tne mediation of Lanfranc. When she became queen, 
she did not forget the lessons of piety and mercy she 
nad received there ; she was the advocate with her 
r.usband for the oppressed, and she had a warm and 
affectionate veneration for the character of Anselm. 
She was frequently in correspondence with the aged 
prelate both before and during this second banish 
ment ; and at length she seems to have persuaded 
Henry to restore a man whose presence was so ne 
cessary to the prosperity of his government. 

" I look for your return," she says in one of her 



letters to him, 6 " as a daughter for the return of her 
father, as a handmaiden for her lord and master, as 
a sheep for the shepherd s care. And I am encou 
raged to expect it by the confidence I have in good 
men s prayers, and the good will which, after close 
examination, I am persuaded the king my husband 
feels towards you. His mind is not so provoked 
against you as some men think; and by God s good 
will, with my suggestions, which shall not be want 
ing, he will become more disposed to concord. He 
now allows you to receive a portion of the income 
of your estates; hereafter he will allow you a larger 
portion, if you will make your request to him sea 
sonably. And though in this he acts rather as one 
who has the power in his hands than as an equitable 
judge, yet I do beseech you, in the abundance of 
your compassionate spirit, lay aside all rancour of 
human bitterness, which is not natural to you, and 
turn not from him the gentleness of love. Nay, 
rather be a kind intercessor with God both for him 
and me, and our little ones, and the prosperity of 
our kingdom." 

She had heard on another occasion, while Anselm 
was in England, that he was injuring his health by 
practising a kind of daily fast, having no regular 
table served, and only taking food as his servants 
chanced to bring it, when they thought he must be 
almost famished : " I know," she says, " that many 
examples in Scripture encourage you to practise 
tasting; your constant reading of the Bible tells you 
frequently, how Elijah was fed by the raven, Elisha 
by the widow, and how Daniel was supported. No 
doubt you have also read in your Gentile learning 
of the frugal fare of Socrates, and Pythagoras, and 
Antisthenes, and other philosophers, whom it is un- 

* Among Anselm s epistles. 


necessary, and would take me too long, to mention. 
Let me come, then, to the times of grace and the new 
law. Christ Jesus, who consecrated the practice of 
fasting, consecrated the use of eating also, by going 
to the marriage-feast, where he turned water into 
wine; by going to the feast at Simon s house, where 
he fed with spiritual food the woman whom he had 
delivered from seven devils; and not refusing to dine 
with Zaccheus, whom he called from the power of 
the service of this world to a heavenly service. Re 
member the advice of St. Paul to Timothy, Drink 
no longer water; he bids him to leave off his fasting 
diet; and whereas he had drank nothing but water 
before, he now tells his best-beloved disciple, Use a 
little wine for thy stomach s sake, and thy often infir 
mities. Follow the example of good pope Gregory, 
who relieved fair.tness and weakness of stomach by 
taking comforting food and wine, that he might 
manfully quit himself as a preacher of God s word. 
Do what he did, as you hope to come to His pre- 
oence before whom he now stands, to Christ Jesus, 
the fountain of life and rock oi salvation. Pray for 
me, holy father, as for a handmaid of yours, who 
Joves you with all the affection of her heart : and as 
this letter is not the 3.~prjsion of a pretended kind 
ness, but is sent in a spMt of faithful and firm cha 
rity, vouchsafe to receive it, to read it, to hear my 
petition, and comply with my request." 

It is impossible to read such a letter, and not to 
feel that the spirit of Christian kindness is the same 
in all ages. No doubt this excellent woman, whose 
education seems to have been something more learned 
than one would perhaps expect in the dark ages, was 
not without a kindly influence in the court in which 
she presided, and her example tended to preserve 
religion in honour. She died before her husband; 
having been the founder of a bouse for Augustin 


Canons, a new religious order which then was lately 
.ome into England, and a hospital for poor incur 
ables, both near London. Anselm was dead many 
fears before. The king, who was a man of profli 
gate private life, again kept the see of Canterbury 
void for five years, and then appointed a poor infirm 
monk of Caen to it, who resided chiefly in a sick- 
chamber, admitted no Englishman to his presence, 
and gave all his preferments to Normans. This old 
monk, Ralph of Seez in Normandy, was succeeded 
by William of Corboil, a French priest, born near 
Paris, who was the instrument by whom the popes 
gained a more lasting dominion over the independ 
ence of the English Church. 

It is right to make a strong distinction between 
such men as Anselm, and those less praiseworthy 
prelates, who were led by worse motives to exalt the 
power of the popes. Anselm desired only the Church s 
liberty. He was born in a country where all gave 
the bishop of Rome primacy and honour, and he 
thought the same was his clue in England. But he 
did not mean to grant him more than this. " The 
Church is yours," he said to king Rufus, " to defend 
and guard it as a patron : it is not yours to invade 
its rights and lay it waste. It is the property of God, 
that his musters may live of it, not that your armies 
and wars should be supported from it." And again, 
in a letter to Baldwin, second king of Jerusalem, 
which kingdom had been founded by the crusaders 
while Anselm was primate: "It is of the greatest 
importance," he says to him, " how, in this revival of 
the Church of Palestine, you provide for its establish 
ment; for such as you make it, it is likely to remain 
to future generations. Think not, then, as many 
bad princes do, that the Church of God is given to 
serve you as a vassal serves his lord ; but that it is 
intrusted to you as a patron and defender. There 


is nothing in this world more dear to God than the 
liberty of his Church. They who desire not so much 
to advance her cause as to exercise dominion over 
her, without doubt are striving against God. Our 
Lord would have his bride a free woman, not a 
bondmaid. They who pay her the honour due to a 
mother are indeed her children and God s children. 
They who tyrannise over her, as subdued to them, 
make themselves not sons but strangers, and will 
therefore be justly disinherited from her promised 
inheritance and portion." 

William of Corboil had been prior of St. Osith s 
in Essex, a new religious house of Augustin Canons, 
who being an order of priests, and not monks, his 
appointment was unpopular with the monks, thej 
having supplied the see of Canterbury and most 
other sees with bishops ever since the time of Dun- 
stan. To fortify himself against their dislike, the 
year after he came to the primate s office he procured 
a bull from Rome appointing him pope s legate in 
ordinary ; which was as much as to acknowledge 
that all the power or authority he was to exercise 
must come from the pope s commission. Up to this 
time the pope had no jurisdiction in England. An- 
M 1m had acknowledged him as the head bishop in 
the Christian Church, and in virtue of this eminence 
wished him to have the investiture of the archbi 
shops, but not to interfere with elections of prelates, 
or to give laws to the Church of England. The 
Church was under a head of its own, governed by 
the king in temporal matters, and by the archbishop 
of Canterbury in spiritual. William of Corboil made 
the primacy of England consist in acting as the pope s 
deputy. This will be seen from a copy of the bull 
(which follows) from pope Honorius II. It may serve 
as a common specimen of these singular epistles. 

" Honorius the bishop, servant of the servants 


of God, to my beloved brethren the bishops, abbots, 
barons, and all other clergymen and laymen in Eng 
land and Scotland, health and the apostolic benedic 
tion. The holy Church, the bride of Christ, rooted 
on the foundation of the Apostles faith, as a devoted 
and kind mother, is accustomed to minister to her 
mild arid humble children far and near the food of 
life. Those that are near are visited by our per 
sonal presence ; those who are distant by the ministry 
of our legates. Since, therefore, we know that you 
will be as the dutiful and loving sons of St. Peter, 
we have entrusted to our very dear brother, William 
archbishop of Canterbury, the office of our vicar in 
England and Scotland ; that, appointed there by us 
the legate of the apostolic see, relying on the help of 
your charity, he may amend what needs amendment, 
and confirm what needs confirmation, to the honour 
of God and the holy Roman Church, and the health 
of your souls. Wherefore we command and instruct 
your whole body, that you, one and all, shew him 
humble obedience as our legate, and unanimously 
meet at his bidding, and hold councils with him for 
the welfare of the Church and advancement of the 
Christian religion. Given at our Lateran Palace, 
Jan. 25, 1125." 

The French archbishop, who thus betrayed the 
liberty of the English Church, soon found reason to 
repent of his folly. In the same year the same pope 
sent his cardinal, John of Crema, an Italian priest, 
as legate extraordinary into England. The cardinal 
called a council to meet in London ; where, as the 
legate extraordinary ranked above the legate in ordi 
nary, the Italian priest sat on a higher seat than the 
archbishop, that all might see how low the humility 
of the poor primate had brought him. A few years 
afterwards, A.D. 1131, another pope, Innocent II., 
took away the legate s office from him altogether, to 


give it to a warlike young bishop of royal blood, 
Henry of Blois, a grandson of the Conqueror and 
brother of king Stephen, whom Henry I. had just 
appointed to the see of Winchester. And though the 
next archbishop, Theobald, abbot of Bee, recovered 
it for his primacy, it was with much difficulty, and 
not without paying an enormous sum of money, that 
the following archbishops gained the privilege of 
being considered the pope s legates in virtue of their 
office. But this did not prevent the Roman pontiffs 
from sending their legates extraordinary from time 
to time into the country, who when they came super 
seded the archbishops, and held councils, passed laws 
for the Church, and extorted enormous taxes from 
the clergy in later times for the needs of their foreign 
master. Thus was the independence of the English 
Church lost by the folly of one French priest ; and 
it cost a struggle of full four hundred years, till in 
the Reformation its freedom was restored. 

It may perhaps be thought that at this time the 
whole Church and nation were in such haste to esta 
blish popery, that they were all ready and glad to 
take this leap in the dark. Far from it. The writers 
of the time never speak of William of Corboil with 
out expressing contempt for his meanness ; and his 
name became a standing jest in merry old England. 
" He ought not to be called William of Curboil," 
says John Bromton, abbot of Jorval, " but William 
of Turmoil." " Truly I would speak his praises, if 
I could," says Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon- 
" but they are beyond expression, for no man has yet 
discovered them." 

The popes, however, did not immediately think of 
making the archbishops. In the troubles of Stephen s 
reign the Norman bishops elected Theobald, a man 
of some ability and prudence. He took no part un 
becoming a Christian bishop in that time of public 


confusion; but while Henry of Blois, Roger bishop 
of Salisbury, and other of king Henry s bishops, were 
holding camps or castles, and busy in state-intrigues, 
he endeavoured to be quiet and do his own business, 
encouraging the native talent of Englishmen; and at 
length, after a long and miserable civil strife, he was 
the means of making peace between Stephen and the 
young prince Henry, who shortly succeeded as Henry 
II. to the crown. 

Stephen himself was a singular character among 
usurpers ; mild, and good natured, and easy, without 
one kingly virtue, it seems to have been a strange 
freak of ambition which tempted him to seize upon 
the crown. It is among the other bad merits of Wil 
liam of Corboil, that he was the person who placed 
it on his head, and thus gave him all the authority 
which that sacred ceremony could confer. But the 
barons, who had sworn to be his subjects, sought only 
liberty for their own oppressions. Every noble be 
came the tyrant on his own domain, ruled in it as if 
he had been the king, and with greater ferocity, as 
his needs and danger were the more pressing and 
constant. No fewer than twelve hundred castles 
were built and fortified during these nineteen years; 
" and when the castles were made," says the old 
chronicler, 6 " they filled them with devils and evil 
men. They took those whom they supposed to have 
any goods, both by night and by day, labouring men 
and women, and threw them into prison for their 
gold and silver; and never were any martyrs so tor 
tured as they were. Some they hanged up by the 
feet, and smoked them with foul smoke ; and some 
by the thumbs or by the head, and hung coats of 
mail for weights on their feet. They tied knotted 
strings about their heads, and twisted them, till the 
pain went to the brains. They put them into dun- 
6 Sax. Chr.n. A.D. 1137. 


geons wherein were adders, snakes, and toads ; and 
so destroyed them." These and other horrid cruel 
ties he describes ; and the destruction of life which 
ensued by war, by torture, and by famine. " Never," 
he says, " did the heathen Danes do worse than they 
did ; for after a time they spared neither church nor 
churchyard, but took all the goods that were therein, 
and then burnt church and all together. They spared 
neither bishop s land, nor abbot s, nor priest s, but 
plundered both monks and clerks. Every man robbed 
his neighbour who could. To till the land was to 
plough the sea : the earth bare no corn ; for the land 
was all laid waste by such deeds; and men said openly, 
that Christ slept, and his saints, or such wickedness 
could not go unpunished." 

In this reign of confusion and blood, there is yet 
one name which cannot be remembered by English 
men without respect, the name of THURSTAN, arch 
bishop of York. He had the same notions as Anselm 
had held about the right of investiture ; and having 
been elected by the clergy, as it appears by the wish 
of king Henry, whose chaplain he was, he went abroad 
a few years after, to be invested by pope Calixtus, 
who in A.D. 1119 was holding a council or synod at 
Rheims. This act gave great offence to Henry, who 
banished him for a year or more ; but he was after 
wards restored, and gained from the pope the privi 
lege that his see should be independent of and equal 
to that of Canterbury. This was one of many points 
of contention in those times, and changes were often 
made. The Irish archbishops were made by pope 
Eugene III., A.D. 1152; the bishops having before 
been sent over toLanfranc and Anselm from Ireland 
for consecration. The Welch, whose Church was 
now almost united with the English, wanted the pope 
i to allow the archbishopric of St. David s to remain : 

but Bernard, chaplain to Adelais, the second queen 


of Henry I., having gained possession of that see, 
submitted to the see of Canterbury, and thus its in 
dependence came to an end, about A.D. 1115. York 
was sometimes subject to Canterbury, and sometimes 
independent, the popes favouring either, as they liked 
them best: Canterbury, however, at length prevailed. 
These contests of Norman pride helped on the pope s 
usurpations. Thurstan himself was a compound of 
the Norman baron with the Christian bishop ; and his 
character may serve as a specimen of many of the 
great churchmen of his days ; but there were in him 
great and good qualities mixed with the darkness and 
the superstition of his time. When he was fixed in 
his exalted station, he was remarkable for the strict 
ness of his life and the firm uprightness of his con 
duct. His mode of living was frugal, and yet as 
generous as became a bishop, who ought to be given 
to hospitality. 7 He was abundant in alms-deeds, 
and instant in prayer. In the celebration of the holy 
communion he was often moved to tears. He pro 
moted men of good life and learning; was gentle to 
the obedient, and unbending, though without harsh 
ness, to the opponents of good discipline. He was 
as severe to himself as to others; and was remarked 
for the severity of his penances, going on fast-days 
attired in sackcloth, and, what now was a common 
practice, afflicting his body with the scourge. 

He had attained an advanced age, when, in the 
third year of Stephen s reign, A.D. 1 138, David, king 
of Scotland, having declared in favour of his niece, 
the empress Matilda, collected his forces, and made 
a dreadful inroad into the northern counties, turning 
his pretext of opposing a usurper into a plea for plun 
dering and massacring the inhabitants of the country 
at peace with him. There was neither council nor 
conduct among the barons of the north : some whc 
7 1 Tim. iii. 2. 


dwelt nearest to the border had joined the invading 
army, that they might partake the spoils, when Thur- 
stan invited the rest to a conference for the defence 
of the country. He represented to them the disgrace 
that was brought upon the realm of the Norman con 
querors, if they, who had overcome a people often 
victorious over the Scots, were now to quail before 
such less worthy antagonists ; he shewed them that 
the nature of the inroad made it no longer a question 
whether the Scots came as allies of the empress or 
enemies of England ; and that whoever might be the 
rightful sovereign, it was their duty to protect the 
soil and the people against such wanton injury and 
destruction. The barons, Walter 1 Espec of Cleve 
land, Roger Mowbray, William Percy, and other 
large landed proprietors in Yorkshire, assembled an 
army, with which they encamped at Northallerton. 
To impress on the people the conviction that they 
vere to fight, not for a doubtful title, but for the 
:ause of religion, their churches and their homes, 
there was no royal banner carried to the field ; but 
a tall ship-mast, erected on a waggon, bore a sa 
cred ensign, such as was used in the processions of 
the Church, representing our Saviour on the cross, 
pierced with his five wounds. Round this the Nor 
man barons, with their retainers, vowed to stand or 
fall. Ralph, bishop of Orkney, a suffragan of Thur- 
stan, who was too infirm to come in person, mounted 
the waggon, and animated the soldiers to fight with 
the confidence that it was a holy war. The Scots, 
after a stubborn conflict, were completely routed, and 
fled in disorder: thus an end was put to the most 
successful attempt they ever made on the borders, 
and one which, but for Thurstan s devout energy, 
would in all probability have given them possession 
of the whole country north of the II umber. 

Within two years after the battle of the standard, 


the aged Thurstan felt his vital vigour decay, and 
prepared for a more solemn hour of conflict. 8 He set 
his house in order ; and assembling the priests of the 
cathedral of York in his own chapel, made his last 
confession before them ; and lying with bared body 
on the ground before the altar of St. Andrew, re 
ceived from some of their hands the discipline of 
the scourge, with tears bursting from his contrite 
heart. And remembering a vow made in his youth 
at Clugny, the famous monastery in Burgundy al 
ready mentioned, he went to Pontefract, to a newly 
founded house of Cluniac monks, followed by an 
honourable procession of the priests of the church 
of York, and a great number of laymen. There, on 
the festival of the conversion of St. Paul, he took 
the habit of a monk in the regular way, received 
the abbot s blessing, and for the remainder of his 
life gave himself entirely to the care of the salva 
tion of his soul. On the 6th of February, A.D. 1 140, 
twenty-six years and six months after his accession 
to the archbishopric, the canons of the church of 
York and other religious persons standing round, the 
hour of his departure being at hand, he celebrated 
the vigils in commemoration of the dead in Christ, 
read the lesson himself, 9 and with a clear voice, paus 
ing and sometimes groaning in spirit, chanted the 
solemn verses of the hymn Dies irce: 

Day of wrath ! the dreadful day 
Shall the banner d cross display, 
Earth in ashes melt away ! 

Who can paint the agony, 
When His coming shall be nigh, 
Who shall ill things judge and try ? 

8 John of Hexham, in TwysJen s Collection, p. 267. 

9 Probably the tenth chapter of the book of Job. The 
hymn which follows is given in the faithful and striking trans 
lation of the Rev. Isaac Williams, of Trinity College, Oxford. 


When the trumpet s thrilling tone, 
Through the tombs of ages gone, 
Summons all before the throne ? 

Death and time shall stand aghast, 
And creation at the blast 
Rise to answer for the past : 

Then the volume shall be spread, 
And the writing shall be read, 
Which shall judge the quick and dead. 

Then the Judge shall sit ; oh, then 
All that s hid shall be made plain, 
Unrequited nought remain. 

Woe is me ! what shall I plead ? 

Who for me shall intercede, 

When the righteous scarce is freed i 

King of dreadful majesty, 
Saving souls in mercy free, 
Fount of pity, save thou me ! 

Weary, seeking me, wast thou, 
And for me in death didst bow, 
Let thy pain avail me now 1 

Thou didst set the adultress free. 
Heardst the thief upon the tree, 
Hope vouchsafing e en to me. 

Nought of thee my prayers can claim, 
Save in thy free mercy s name ; 
Save me from the undying flame ! 

With thy sheep my place assign, 
Separate from the accursed line ; 
Set me on thy right with thine ! 

When the lost, to silence driven, 
To devouring flames are given, 
Call me with the blrtst to heaven ! 

Suppliant, lo ! to earth I bend, 
My bruised heart to ashes rend ; 
Care thou, Lord, for my last end ! 
E E2 


At the close of this solemn service of humiliation 
hfi sank to the earth, and while the monks gathered 
round and prayed for him, breathed his last. The 
account presents in some respects a painful contrast 
to the calm piety of Bede s last moments ; but it is 
an affecting picture of the power of a strong faith 
triumphing amidst the growing superstition of the 
time. The beautiful Cistercian abbey of Fountains 
was founded by the charity of this remarkable Chris 
tian bishop. He was also founder of the see of Car* 
lisle, A.D. 1133. 



Prayer was in a barren land, and without food. Our King, whose 
Bature is goodness, moved by Prayer s tears, exclaimed, " Whom shall 
we send?" Then said Charity, " Here am I, Lord; send me." 

ST. BERNARD, Parable t/ftiie Holy fFar, 

ERY great and remarkable alterations 
in the monasteries were consequent on 
the changes made by the Normans in 
the English Church. The reader, who 
has seen in the last two chapters how 
the frame of societ} r was broken up, and the pro 
tection of law taken away from the great bulk of 
the nation, will be at 110 loss to conceive why there 
should at such a time have arisen a strong and widely 
extended desire, in the minds of peaceable and de 
vout persons, to increase the number of houses con 
secrated to religion, and places where life and pro 
perty might still in some measure be secure. But 
this was not only the case in England ; the same 
causes were at work far and wide among foreign 
nations; and as there was no other way by which a 
man could in those days serve God without distrac 
tion, or a woman live a virtuous single life, it is no 
wonder that the number of persons who entered into 
religious orders was greatly multiplied. At the same 
time, there were also less praiseworthy motives at 
work. The kings and nobles thought it a part of 


their dignity to found places where they might have 
a stately tomb and a religious remembrance after 
death, and where priests might be engaged in a con 
tinual service of dirges and prayers, according to the 
superstitious practice of the time, for their departed 
spirits. Many of the Norman barons, whose lives 
were none of the best, found it a cheap way of satis 
fying their consciences, even if they gave away a 
few of their best manors, out of the enormous num 
ber which they possessed, for the support of a family 
of monks or nuns. With darker and sterner moods 
these superstitions feelings took a deeper hue. When 
king Knute founded his monastery at Essendon, or 
William the Conqueror his Battle Abbey, was it done, 
as now sometimes we hear of Te Deum being sung 
after a victory gained in an ill cause, or with some 
thought of offering an expiation for the slaughter 
they had made ? Was it the pride of conquest, or 
remorse ? Remorse seems to have guided other 
bleed-stained mm, like Ott a of Mercia, or the vile 
and cruel king John, when he founded ihe stateiv 
abbey of Beaulieu in Hampshire. Sometimes, too, 
these foundations arose in the mistaken piety and 
kindness of a survivor towards a parent or near rela 
tive, for whose condition after death his doubtful 
life made his heir to be concerned : as Shakspeare 
represents to us Henry V. endowing charities for a 
memorial of Richard II., whom his father had put 
f.o death : 

Five hundred poor I have in daily pay, 
Who twice a day their wither d hands hold up 
Toward heaven, to pardon blood : and I have built 
Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests 
Still sing for Richard s soul. 

However much of this there may have been, still the 
darkest day is not all dark. There were many bright 
of sunshine amidst the prevailing clouds; tnj 


gentleness, goodness, and faith, even among those 
who made up what the scurrilous John.Foxe calls 
" the rabblement of religious orders." 

Of these orders we must now give a short ac 
count; and the more, as it must be remembered 
that as they were in the first century after the Nor 
man conquest, such they continued, with little other 
change than what arose from their decline in public 
steem, to the reign of Henry VIII., their great de 

I. THE BENEDICTINES, the first distinct order, 
which arose in the western part of Christendon, now 
received their last reform from the statutes of arch 
bishop Lanfranc, who was, as well as Anselm, a 
member of this order. His statutes were given at a 
council in London, A.D. 1075 ; and must be here 
briefly noticed. It has been before mentioned that 
the founder of this sect of monks was Benedict of 
Nursia in Italy, who flourished about A.D. 530. His 
rule by degrees became so general in the western 
Church, that in all the dominions of Charlemagne, 
when that monarch made inquiry, there was no 
other to be found. In England we know nothing 
with certainty of its introduction before the time 
of Dunstan; and the account we have of the earlier 
Saxon monasteries makes it appear that they were 
not so much on the Benedictine as on some more 
primitive plan. 1 The principal defects in this rule 
have been mentioned where we spoke of Dunstau ; 
and these defects were never corrected. But it must 
be confessed, that no sect which ever arose in the 

1 The writer is aware that this is disputed by the learned 
French Benedictines of St. Maur : but though it may be proved 
that Bede and Aldhelm had heard of Benedict, and knew who 
he was, the facts about these monasteries, collected from Saxon 
authorities, in former chapters, shew that their regulations weie 
different from the Benedictine rule. And this is the opinion 
of the best English inquirers into antiquity. 


Church, before the Reformation or since, has done 
so much for the promotion of good Christian learn 
ing as the sect of the Benedictines. And so it con 
tinued to the last, till it was almost destroyed in the 
bloody French Revolution. 

The fourth of the rules of St. Benedict was 
entitled, " The means of doing good works." It 
has been said that these rules are full of forms, con 
taining little of the spirit of godliness. Yet it may 
be questioned, whether it would be easy to find a 
better summary of Christian duties in a short com 
pass than this rule contains: 

" In the first place, to love the Lord God with 
the whole heart, whole soul, whole strength. Then 
his neighbour as himself. Then not to kill. Then 
not to commit adultery. Not to steal. Not to covet. 
Not to bear false witness. To honour all men. And 
what any one would not have done to him, let him 
not do to another. To deny himself, that he may 
follow Christ. To chasten the body. To renounce 
luxuries. To love fasting. To relieve the poor. 
To clothe the naked. To visit the sick. To bury 
the dead. To help in tribulation. To console tfie 
afflicted. To disengage himself from worldly affairs. 
To set the love of Christ before all other things. 
Not to give way to anger. Not to bear any grudge. 
Not to harbour deceit in the heart. Not to make 
false peace. Not to forsake charity. Not to swear, 
lest haply he perjure himself. To utter truth from 
his heart and mouth. Not to return evil for evil. 
Not to do injuries, and to bear them patiently. To 
love his enemies. Not to curse again those who 
curse him, but rather to bless them. To endure 
persecutions for righteousness sake. Not to be 
proud. Not given to wine. Not gluttonous. Not 
addicted to sleep. Not sluggish. Not given to 
murmur. Not a slanderer. To commit hi 


to God. When he sees any thing good in himself, 
to attribute it to God, and not to himself. But let 
him always know that which is evil in his own doing, 
and impute it to himself. To fear the day of judg 
ment. To dread hell. To desire eternal life with 
all spiritual longing. To have the expectation of 
death every day before his eyes. To watch over his 
actions at all times. To know certainly that in all 
places the eye of God is upon him. Those evil 
thoughts which come into his heart, immediately to 
dash to pieces on Christ, and to make them known 
to his spiritual senior. To keep his lips from evil 
and wicked discourse. Not to be fond of much 
talking. Not to speak vain words, or such as pro 
voke laughter. Not to love much or violent laughter. 
To give willing attention to the sacred readings. To 
pray frequently. Every day to confess his past sins 
to God in prayer, with tears and groaning ; from 
thenceforward to reform as to those sins. Not to 
fulfil the desires of the flesh. To hate self-will. In 
all tilings to obey the commands of the abbot, even 
though he himself (which God forbid) live not up 
to his own rule; remembering our Lord s command, 
What they say, do ; but what they do, do ye not. 
Not to desire to be called a saint before he is one, 
but first to be one, that he may be truly called one. 
Every day to fulfil the commands of God in action. 
To love chastity. To hate nobody. To have no 
jealousy ; to endulge no envy. Not to love con 
tention. To avoid self-conceit. To reverence se 
niors. To love juniors. To pray for enemies in the 
love of Christ. After a disagreement, to be recon 
ciled before the going down of the sun. And never 
to despair of the mercy of God." 

He who should examine himself by such a rule 
as this, setting aside one or two points which are 
peculiar to the inside of a monastery, would surely 


/earn something of a Christian temper ; he could not 
use it long without becoming a better man, or learn 
ing how to become so. Many others of the regu 
lations are admirable for the purpose of uniting a 
society of old and young : as the third, which directs 
that, in important questions, all shall be called to 
council, " for God often reveals to the youngest and 
simplest minds what is best;" and the thirty-sixth 
and thirty-seventh, which direct the treatment of 
the old, and sick, and infirm. But instead of copy 
ing these for the reader, it may be well to shew by 
an example how they were acted upon in some of 
the principal monasteries in England. 

Ingulf, abbot of Croyland, tells us what his own 
practice was. The old monks, who had borne the 
burden and heat of the day, when they were past 
the ability for active labour, were to have a good 
chamber furnished them in that part of the monas 
tery called the infirmary, and have a clerk or servant 
specially appointed to wait upon them, who was to 
receive his allowance of provisions, as was given to 
the squire s servant when his master paid them a 
visit, in the abbot s hall. The prior was to send to 
the old man every day a young monk to be his com 
panion, and to breakfast ai d dine with him. As for 
the senior himself, he was to sit at home or walk out, 
to go or come, according to his own will and pleasure. 
He might visit the cloisters, the refectory or dining- 
hall, the sleeping-room, and every other part of the 
monastery, in his monk s dress or without it, just as 
he pleased. Nothing unpleasant about the affairs of 
the monastery was to be mentioned in his presence. 
Every one was charged to avoid giving him offence : 
and every thing was to be done for his comfort of 
mind and body, that he might in the utmost peace 
and quietness wait for his latter end. It would not 
be easy to find a more ^leasing picture of the care 


that Christian love would direct " to rock the cradle 
of declining age." 2 

The statutes of Lanfranc and Ingulf prescribed 
the order of divine service to be observed in the 
abbey-churches throughout the year; and we learn 
from them what principal officers there were in every 
large abbey. Next to the abbot came the prior, 
who in the abbot s absence had the chief care of the 
house ; and under him were often one or more sub- 
priors. These were all removable at the will of the 
abbot, as all the other officers were. 

Another was the almoner, who had the oversight 
of the alms of the house, which were every day dis 
tributed at the gate to the poor ; and on the anniver 
sary of the founder, or other benefactors to the mon 
astery, took charge of the larger gifts or doles which 
were then commonly given away in food or clothing. 
He was also to make inquiry for and visit the pool 
who needed relief at home. 

Another was the sacrist, or churchwarden, who 
took care of the holy vesseL for the communion, 
which was usually celebrated every day ; prepared 
the host, or communion-bread, with his own hands, 
as it was kept distinct from ordinary bread ; pro 
vided the wine, and water to mix with it ; kept the 
altar-cloths neat and clean ; and furnished wax can 
dles for the evening or early morning-service, when 
they were required. It was his business to ring the 
bell at service-time, and to see to the order of burial 
for the dead ; for all which duties he was allowed the 
help of others to assist him. 

The chamberlain had the care of the dormitory, 
provided beds and bedding for the monks, razors, 
scissors, and towels, and the chief part of their 
clothing and shoes. Their beds were commonly 
stuffed with hay or straw. He was also to provide 

2 Letters on the Dark Ages, no. xviii. 
FF 8 


iron tools for shoeing the horses of the abbot am< 
prior, and all strangers who visited the abbey. 

The cellarer, or house-steward, had to provide all 
the meat and drink used in the monastery, whether 
for the monks or strangers ; as flesh, fish, fowl, wine, 
bread-corn, malt for their ale and beer, as well as 
wood for firing, and all kitchen utensils. 

There was also the hospitaler, or hosteler, who had 
the special charge of the entertainment of guests, 
shewing hospitality to all comers, and particularly 
travellers, being a chief part of the duties of a mon 
astery. He was to have beds, stools or seats, tables, 
towels, napkins, basins, cups, plates, and spoons; and 
servants to wait on him, and bring the food for the 
guests from the cellarer s department. 

There was the master of the infirmary, who with 
his servants had the care of the sick and aged. And 
for their especial comfort, he had often a separate 
cook and kitchen, where the food was prepared most 
suitably to their infirm condition. 

The head-chanter, or precentor, had the chief 
care of the service in the choir, presided over the 
singing-men and organist and choristers, provided 
books for them, and paid them their salaries. He 
had also the charge of the abbey-seal, kept the chap 
ter-book, or record of the proceedings of their public 
business, and furnished parchment, pens and ink for 
the writers, and colours for the painters or draughts 
men, who adorned the old missals or prayer-books. 

All the order of proceedings was to be under the 
most exact discipline. The rules of St. Benedict 
directed that six hours every day were to be given 
to manual labour ; and for this purpose there were 
little offices or shops in different parts of the monas 
tery, where the monks employed themselves in their 
different occupations. Some were the tailors and 
shoemakers of the monastery ; some worked at jewel- 


lery, book-binding, carving or sculpture, or cabinet- 
making; some were writing or painting. To see 
that all at such times were on their duty, some were 
chosen out of the number, persons of tried character 
and prudence, who were called cursitors, or round- 
goers, whose business it was to go round from time 
to time separately to the workshops, and, without 
speaking, to notice if any were absent, or standing 
idle, or sitting to talk with their neighbours. When 
they were in the church or choir at the night-service, 
they were to go about in the middle of the psalms 
and prayers, carrying a dark lantern ; and if they 
found any one asleep, to make some little sound to 
awake him, or if he slept too fast to be so awaked, 
to open the dark lantern and turn the light full in 
his face. 

There was commonly a school kept near the great 
abbeys, and at the expense of the monasteries. The 
loss of these schools was one of the public evils felt 
when Henry VIII. so rapaciously broke up these re 
ligious houses. In the beginning of queen Elizabeth s 
reign, A.D. 1562, the speaker of the house of com 
mons, Williams, complained that more than a hun 
dred flourishing schools had been destroyed, which 
had been maintained by the monasteries, and that 
ignorance had greatly increased from it. These 
schools, however, do not seem to have done much 
to advance the state of learning among the people. 
The masters were not paid at such a rate as to invite 
the best teachers. John Somerset, who was after 
wards tutor and physician to king Henry VI., began 
life as master of the grammar-school at Bury St. 
Edmund s, A.D. 1418. The abbot of that rich mon 
astery gave him a salary of forty shillings a year; 
which, even according to the value of money at that 
time, would not be more than about the salary of a 
village schoolmaster now ; and this was to a man 


who taught arts and languages, and was one of the 
most learned of his period. In earlier times the 
schools were within the abbey ; and the children who 
were admitted to them were taught by the monks, 
under the inspection of the prior : but these were 
chiefly intended for the little monks, or children 
whom their parents, according to the permission of 
this rule, which cannot be commended, dedicated in 
infancy to monkhood, without any choice of their 
own. The neighbours were, however, permitted in 
most monasteries to send their children to these 
schools, where they might, without expense, be 
taught grammar and church-music : and no doubt 
they thus served to keep up a certain degree of ne 
cessary knowledge. 

The churches of the old Benedictine monasteries 
were remarkable in many places for their very great 
beauty and magnificence. Whatever skill in build 
ing the Saxons possessed, and we have seen that 
they had skill enough to erect arched roofs, and 
ornamental windows, and pillars supporting towers, 
still it was far outdone by the Norman church 
men, who began, very soon after they were possessed 
of the English bishoprics and abbeys, every where to 
pull down the old churches, and raise up new ones 
on a scale of much greater magnificence. And, in 
deed, the early Norman architects, whether church 
men and monks, or professional builders, soon at 
tained to an excellence and skill which now, at the 
distance of five or six hundred years, we admire, but 
cannot imitate. The best attempts at church-archi 
tecture which are made now are but imperfect copies 
from the models which they have left. Much ig 
norance has prevailed upon this subject; and for a 
long time these buildings were treated with a base 
contempt, by persons who had no other notion of 
architecture than to raise up ugly high brick walls 


wui holes through them for windows. But noxv 
thAt this excellent art has been revived, Englishmen 
Lave begun to feel a proper pride in these noble 
monuments of the piety and large charity of their 
forefathers. The old abbey-churches which are yet 
left have been restored from the mutilation and 
shameful disfigurements which they had suffered ; 
and though more yet remains to be done, enough 
is done already to remove what was a crying na 
tional disgrace. 3 Among the Benedictine churches 
still remaining to this day, are to be reckoned, St. 
Alban s, which, except the Saxon portions yet left, 
was begun in the time of Lanfranc and William the 
Conqueror, but has received some later alterations ; 
Westminster Abbey, which, though handsomely built 
by Edward the Confessor, was rebuilt in Henry III. s 
time, chiefly at that king s expense ; Selby Abbey, 
founded by the Conqueror himself; Tewksbury, in 
Gloucestershire ; Rumsey, in the New Forest, Hants, 
the beautiful church of an old Benedict : ne nunnery, 
founded by bishop Ethelwold, in king Edgar s reign ; 
Peterborough, turned, happily, into a cathedral- 
church at the Reformation ; Bath, Gloucester, and 
Chester, preserved by the same means ; Shrewsbury, 
Great Malvern, and Brecon. Among those of equal 
magnificence shamefully destroyed, in many cases 
to the great injury of religion, (for whatever became 

8 Bishop Tanner, who wrote about one hundred years ago, 
says of the old abbeys: " they were really noble buildings, 
though not actually so grand and neat, yet perhaps as much 
admired in their times as Che/sea and Greenwich hospitals art 
now!" This amiable man was a lover of antiquity ; yet this 
was all he ventured to say against the miserable notions of his 
time. The great archbishop Fenelon, who lived in France at 
the same period, compares a style of vicious ornament in speak 
Ing to the style of one of the cathedrals built by our Norman 
forefathers in Normandy ! ^ch was English and French taste 
in the beginning of the last century. 
F F 2 


of the monks, the churches ought to have been 
spared,") were Ramsey and Thorney, Hunts; Tavi- 
stock, Devon: Colchester; Hyde Abbey, near Win 
chester ; St. Augustine s, Canterbury, the abode of 
the first English mission, now, all but the beautiful 
gateway, utterly levelled to the ground ; Croyland 
and Spalding, Lincolnshire ; Reading Abbey, the 
foundation and burial-place of Henry I. ; Bury St. 
Edmund s ; Glastonbury ; Malmsbury ; Evesham ; 
Whitby; and St. Mary s, York; not to mention 
some hundreds of priories and lesser religious houses; 
king Alfred s nunnery, founded for his daughter at 
Shaftsbury ; king Edward the Elder s, at Wilton, 
and many more : of all which, scarcely, in one or 
two places, any trace is to be found. 

The portion of the buildings next in beauty to 
the churches was the chapter-house, or council- 
chamber, where all rose at the coming of the abbot, 
and received him with every mark of reverence. 
The style of homage and respect paid by the mem 
bers of these religious houses to their superiors was 
in accordance with the homage paid by vassals to 
their lord ; but when the power of the abbot seemed 
to exceed the rules, it might be checked by the de 
cision of the chapter. The practice of obedience is, 
doubtless, one of the hardest things for human na 
ture to learn ; and no institution provided for it so 
well as the monasteries, if it could have been always 
duly regulated and limited. But the abbots, like 
the bishops, in Norman times often became great 
barons, and took more than their share both of 
the revenues and government. The style of these 
beautiful buildings may be judged of from those 
which still remain in the precincts of our cathedrals, 
particularly at Salisbury. 

Adjoining the church and chapter-house were 
the cloisters; where the monks read, or walked and 


conversed, and where the children sometimes were 
brought to say their lessons in summer-weather to 
the prior. The refectory, or dining-hall, was often 
a part of the building of great size and beauty ; but 
of this few specimens yet remain. The dormitory, 
where the monks slept in a common chamber, wa 
a large upper room, sometimes built over the clois 
ters ; and in large monasteries there were sometimes 
more than one. Old and young were to sleep in 
the same apartment and not the young alone 
that the presence of the aged might serve as a check 
to indiscreet mirth. There were to be not fewer 
than from ten to twenty in one chamber; and they 
had a lamp burning. 

In every great abbey there was a large room 
called the scriptory, or writing-room ; where several 
writers were employed in copying books for the use 
of the library, or to supply religious persons who 
sought some portion of Scripture or a devotional 
treatise. They also frequently copied some parts 
of thf writings of the fathers, or the Latin classics, 
and made histories and chronicles. The abbots of 
St. Alban s did good service in this way. The abbot 
Paul built the scriptory in Lanfranc s time, which 
had afterwards an estate settled separately upon it; 
and John Whethamsted, an abbot, who built a new 
library in Henry VI. s reign, is said to have had 
copies of eighty different works made while he was 
abbot. The same was done at Glastonbury, at St. 
Augustine s, Canterbury, at Bury St. Edmund s, and 
other places ; for the larger monasteries were all 
careful of their libraries. 4 

4 " Libraries were formed in all the monasteries, and 
schools founded in them, for teaching the literature of the 
times." BP. PORTEUS, vol. ii. Serm. vii. It has been sug 
gested to the writer, since the first edition of this work ap 
peared, that this assertion wants confirmation. Perhaps it is 


The rules of St. Benedict advise his monks to 
have their abbeys situated near a running stream, 
that they may have a mill on the premises. This 
was generally observed. They were also to have a 
garden, a bakehouse and brewhouse, that there might 
be as little need as possible for sending abroad for 
their supplies. And, for the same reason, they were 
recommended to have all necessary arts practised 
among themselves, that they might supply themselves 
with clothing, and whatever else they wanted. As 
the abbeys became more rich, these arts, however, 
were not exercised so much by the monks as by tJsff 
servants of the monastery. And it must be confessed 
that learning did not advance among them in the 
same proportion as manual labour decreased. 

It was common for the early Norman kings to 
come and keep Christmas, or other of the chief feasts 
of the Church, in some of the principal monasteries, 
as Hyde Abbey, near Winchester, Westminster, or 
St. Alban s. This was the time when the abbot s 
hospitality was most especially exerted, as the num 
ber of retainers the kings brought with them was no 
trifle. At St. Alban s, in Henry III. s time, there 
was stabling provided for three hundred horses. 

The Benedictines, as they were the most ancient 
and numerous, so they were much the richest order 
of monks in England. The Saxon kings and nobles, 
particularly in Dunstan s time, had given them large 
manors and estates ; and the native English, as well 
as the Normans, seem to have been chiefly attached 

too general ; for the lesser monasteries, priories, and cells, were 
usually without libraries : but when John Boston, the monk of 
Bury St. Edmund s, travelled round to make his catalogue of 
all the books in different abbeys, about A.D. 1400, he found more 
than two hundred libraries containing books fit to be entered 
in his catalogue, being various works of near seven hundred 
authors, beside various copies of the Scriptures, and comments. 


to them. A great number of bishops were taken 
before and after the Conquest from their monaste 
ries : and the three archbishops who presided next 
after the Conquest, and others in the following 
reigns, were Benedictines. It was to this order, 
also, that those who were called mitred abbots or 
mitred priors belonged ; of whom twenty-nine had 
commonly the dignity of peers in parliament, rank 
ing, like bishops, as barons. But this was at a later 
period, after the reign of Henry III. The first Nor 
man kings did not govern by parliaments. 

II. The next order in the rank of time was that 
of the CLUNIACS. It was founded by Odo of Clugny 
in Burgundy, as has been already mentioned, 5 from 
whose monastery it took its name. These monks 
were, indeed, only a reformed order of Benedictines. 
They lived under their rule, and wore the same dress, 
a black frock or cassock, with a white tunic or wool 
len shirt underneath, and a black hood or cowl to put 
over the head. The nuns wore a dress of like colour. 
Shortly after the Conquest, William, earl Warenne, 
son-in-law to the Conqueror, and one of his richest 
barons, brought these monks into England, and 
built their first house at Lewes in Sussex, about 
A.D. 1077- In the reign of Henry I. it was an order 
in some esteem among the Normans ; and an at 
tempt was made to turn some of the old Benedictine 
abbeys into Ctuniac priories ; but it did not succeed. 
The English monks were not favourable to this 
order, which was rather a French than an English 
one. Its houses were for the most part filled with 
Norman or French monks ; and they were all subject 
to the abbot of Clugny, who sometimes, when he 
had interest enough with the pope, levied contri 
butions upon the priories in England. This was not 
done at first, however, but when the authority of the 
* See p. 227. 


pope was at its height. There was in Henry 1/9 
time an eminently good and learned man at the 
head of the order, Peter the Venerable, abbot of 
Clugny, who in A.D. 1130 paid a visit to England 
He had an honourable reception ; and by his advice, 
an Englishman, called Robert of Ryton, who had 
been on a crusade and taken prisoner by the Sara 
cens, attempted to translate Mahomet s Koran, which 
he had brought from the East, to give the Christians 
in Europe a better knowledge of the religion of 
that impostor. This was the first beginning of the 
knowledge of the languages of the East. The prin 
cipal Cluniac house in England, besides that at 
Lewes, was afterwards the abbey of Bermondsey, in 
Southwark. There were never more than twenty 
of these houses in the country. 

III. THE CISTERCIANS, also, like the Cluniacs, 
a reformed order of Benedictines, were much more 
numerous. They derived their name from Cisteaux 
or Citeaux, a village in the same province where 
Clugny is situated, between Dijon and Chalons. 
Here an Englishman, Stephen Harding, who had 
gone to try his religious fortunes abroad about the 
beginning of Henry I. s reign, had become abbot of 
a little abbey. He was not the first founder of the 
new sect ; but when Robert of Moleme, who had 
attempted to keep together a society there, had left 
it for want of encouragement, he persevered, and was 
enabled at last to succeed. The Cluniacs had abated 
something of the rigorous labour enjoined by Bene 
dict, and professed to keep more to reading and im 
provement of the mind. On the contrary, the Cis 
tercians chose rather to increase the bodily labour; 
M hence the abbot Peter charged them with pre 
ferring the part of Martha, cumbered witli much 
serving, to the part of Mary, who sat at the feet of 
Christ, and heard his word. Stephen Harding was 


growing old at the head of his small society, b;it 
persevered in his discipline of silence, watching, and 
fasting; till in A.D. 1113, he was rewarded by the 
arrival of the famous ST. BERNARD, followed by 
thirty companions, who came to enlist themselves as 
monks of the Cistercian order. From that time it 
began rapidly to flourish ; St. Bernard s excellent 
talents and remarkable piety made him in his life 
time the most influential person in Christendom. 
William Giffard, bishop of Winchester, in A.D. 1128, 
founded the first Cistercian abbey in England, at 
W T averley, in Surrey. The beautiful ruined abbey 
of Tin tern on the Wye was founded three years after. 
Then, in A.D. 1132, Walter 1 Espec, a baron in the 
north, founded the still more beautiful abbey of Rie- 
val ; Roger de Moubray, a few years later, was the 
founder of Byland ; and Thurstan encouraged the 
prior of the Benedictine at St. Mary s, York, to 
found Fountains. The order reached its height of 
power in A.D. 1145, when Eugene III., a Cistercian 
and pupil of St. Bernard s, became pope. King Ste 
phen had appointed his nephew William to succeed 
Thurstan at York ; but the Yorkshire Cistercians 
persuaded the chapter of the cathedral to elect for 
archbishop Henry Murdoch, abbot of Fountains; 
and by the help of pope Eugene they gained their 
point. It continued in favour long afterwards, w hen 
king Edward I., though he was jealous of the power 
of other monasteries, founded the Cistercian abbey 
of Vale Royal. 

The Cistercians were called white monks, from 
their dress, which was a white frock or cassock, over 
which they wore a black cloak when they were 
beyond the walls of the monastery. Their abbeys, 
which have all been ruined, are still left in their ruins 
in the lovely spots where they were first fixed by the 
disciples of Bernard, out of the way of the common 


haunts of men, in lonely mountain-valleys, when* 
they taught the barren wilderness to smile. Bernard 
himself was guided by his peculiar piety to make 
choice of such places : " Believe me," he says to 
Henry Murdoch, " you will find more lessons in the 
woods than in books. Trees and stones will teach 
you what you cannot learn from masters. Have you 
forgotten how it is written, He made him to suck 
honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock ? 
(Deut. xxxii. 13.) You have need not so much of 
reading, as of prayer: and thus may God open your 
heart to understand his law and his commandments." 
No doubt such was the feeling of many of our coun 
trymen who dwelt at Tintern, or at Fountains and 
Rieval. But here, as the ea*-ly Benedictines had re 
claimed the marsh-lands, so the Cistercians reclaimed 
the moors. No man who surveys the places which 
they chose for their dwellings, but must wonder at 
the patient industry and love of toil, amidst the 
glories of nature, but without her wealth, by which 
they raised those graceful churches to hymn the 
praises of redemption in the desert ; and where the 
wrathful Conqueror had left a waste without inha 
bitant, covered the hills with sheep, and made the 
valleys stand thick with corn; and planted orchards, 
dug fishponds, and laid out gardens. They laboured, 
and others have entered into their labours : it is well; 
but let us confess that Bernard of Clairval had the 
spirit of a saint, and the soul of a Christian patriot, 
to guide his choice; for what modern sect has con 
ferred such benefit upon their country as the labo 
rious Bernardines ? 

6 One impulse from a vernal wood 

May teach you more of man, 
Of moral evil and of good, 
the sages can. 





There were about one Hundred houses of Cister 
cian monks and nuns when Henry VIII. destroyed 
them. Some of the most remarkable, besides those 
founded by king John and Edward L, already men 
tioned, were Furness in Lancashire, founded by king 
Stephen; Lantony, Monmouthshire ; JorvalorJer- 
vaux, and Kirkstall, Yorkshire ; Melrose, in Scot 
land ; Vale Crusis, Denbighshire, and several others 
in Wales ; and Woburn, Combermere and other 
choice spots, where English noblemen have turned 
the whole abode of monkhood to a scene of more en 
lightened, if not more generous, hospitality of their 
own. And no doubt a sense of the religion which 
once hallowed those abodes has often taught their 
new possessors to make them still a house of refuge 
for the oppressed, and a seat of more discerning 

Reader, if you are led to visit one of these spots, 
revere the religion which chose such places of earthly 

G G 


sojourn ; and believe that, however blemished by 
mistaken vows, and disgraced sometimes by foul de 
partures from the promise in which it began, yet 
true piety and mercy raised those stones ; and while 
you are thankful that such retreats are no longer 
needed for those who would live to God apart, se 
cured from wrong, grant that, if they were, no fitter 
scene of retirement could be found ! 

IV. THE CARTHUSIANS were a sect who did 
not aim to be numerous, but rather prided them 
selves on being select and few. Bruno of Cologne, a 
priest of the cathedral in that city, was their founder, 
about A.D. 1084. Their discipline was strict and 
severe ; and their dress coarse, and so contrived 
a? almost to disfigure their persons. They had no 
abbot, but were under a superior, who was called 
the grand prior. Their laws professed to limit very 
narrowly the quantity of land and the number of 
flocks and herds they should possess. They had 
but nine houses in England, the first being founded 
at Witham, Somerset, A.D. 1181 ; and the most re 
markable, that which is still called the Charterhouse, 
London, now the excellent Thomas Sutton s school 
and hospital ; and the priory of Shene in Surrey, 
founded by king Henry V. This sect produced some 
men of very strict and holy life, particularly Hugh, 
bishop of Lincoln, whose name is in the calendar for 
November the seventeenth. Even the wicked and 
dissolute king John shewed respect to his remains; 
when happening to be at Lincoln for a meeting with 
the Scottish king, hearing that the bishop was about 
to be carried to his grave, he took his place with king 
Alexander among the pall-bearers 

These were the only orders of monks, properly 
so called, which were established in England ; if we 
except a few houses of the monks of Grandmont, 
and other French monks and nuns, which decayed 


before the Reformation. But there were also orders 
of priests called REGULAR CANONS, or clergymen 
living under a common rule, to which rule also cer 
tain communities of females subjected themselves, 
like the other orders of nuns. 

I. AUGUSTIN CANONS. They took their name 
from the great St. Augustine, bishop of Hippo in 
Africa, A.D. 395 ; but their order was not founded till 
the time of pope Alexander II., 1061. They came 
into England in the reign of Henry I., were very fa 
vourably received, and soon rivalled the Benedictine 
monks in public esteem. They had in all about one 
hundred and seventy houses, dispersed in almost 
every quarter of the kingdom : of which the largest 
were at Plympton, Devon ; at Carlisle ; at Chick, 
or St. Osith s, Essex ; at Leicester ; at St. Bartho 
lomew s, London ; at Walsingham, Norfolk, where 
they had a remarkable image and chapel of the 
blessed Virgin, which drew the ignorant people to 
make superstitious pilgrimages, and present costly 
offerings, believing that some miraculous power re 
sided there, shortly before the Reformation; atHagh- 
mon Abbey, Shropshire; Cirencester ; at Oseney, 
near Oxford ; Newstead Abbey, Notts ; at Bristol, 
which is now the cathedral-church ; at Kenilworth, 
Warwickshire ; and Gisborough, Bridlington, and 
the beautiful Bolton Abbey, Yorkshire. They were 
not all alike in dress, but were commonly called black 
canons; wearing a long black cassock with a white 
rochet over it, and over all a black cloak or hood. 
The monks always shaved their chins ; but the ca 
nons wore their beards, and caps or bonnets on their 
heads instead of cowls. 

II. PREMONSTRANTS, or white canons, who wore 
a white cassock, and the rest of their dress white 
instead of black. In other respects their rule was 
the same. The chief of their houses, which were 


thirty-five in number, was Welbeck Abbey, Notts 
Their name was derived from Premonstre, a town of 
Picardy, in Prance, where the superior of this order 

III. GILBERTINES. This was an order of canons 
of English foundation, having been settled under a 
rule of a Lincolnshire priest, called Gilbert of Sein- 
pringham, A.D. 1148. The rule was made for both 
men and women, out of the two rules of St. Benedict 
and the Augustin canons ; the women living chiefly 
like the Cistercian nuns, and the men like the Au- 
gustins. The order was acceptable to many poor 
females in the miserable reign of Stephen ; and Gil 
bert is said to have enlisted fifteen hundred of them 
in the course of a few years. The peculiarity of his 
plan was, that he built his convents for men and 
women adjoining each ether, with separate apart 
ments for each. It is said to have been much more 
popular with the gentler sex than with the other. 
There were twenty-five houses of Gidbertines, chiefly 
in Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, the principal being 
at Sempringham, and Watton, in the East Riding, 
which still in part remains. This last house bore no 
very high character when it was first instituted ; and 
the order itself seems to have been ill-contrived 
though the founder, is said to have been an honest 
simple-minded man. He died A.D. 1181, at the 
extraordinary age of one hundred and six. 

Lastly ; we must briefly mention the two MILI- 
TAKY ORDERS which arose at this remarkable period 
out of the crusades, and were a striking proof in 
themselves, how completely the spirit of war had 
seized upon the minds of men, since they could thus 
turn war into a service of religion. 

I. THE KNIGHTS OF ST. JOHN, or Hospitalers, 
had their name from a hospital built at Jerusalem 
for the use of pilgrims coming to the Holy Land, 


and dedicated to St. John the Baptist. Their busi 
ness there was to entertain pilgrims at that hospital, 
and to defend them from the Saracens as they went 
and returned. Godfrey of Bouillon, and Baldwin, the 
two first kings of Jerusalem, favoured these knights, 
finding them serviceable in their wars with the Ma 
hometans. They soon spread into societies about 
Europe ; and after a hundred and fifty years from 
their first beginning are said to have possessed nine 
teen thousand manors in different parts of Christen 
dom. It was not long after their first appearance, 
when they came over into England, and had a house 
built for them in London. This stood near Smith- 
field Bar, where the ancient gateway may still be 
seen ; and it became one of the richest houses be 
longing to any religious order in England. Their 
superior was held of such dignity, that he sat as the 
first baron of the lay barons in parliament. Their 
dress, over their armour, was a black cloak with a 
white cross upon the fore-part of it. 

II. THE KNIGHTS TEMPLARS were instituted 
A.D. 1118, about thirty years later than the Hospi 
talers, and were named from their having apartments 
first given them by king Baldwin near the sup 
posed site of the Jewish temple, in his own palace 
erected there. The rule of both these orders was 
like that of the Augustin canons; but the Templars 
wore a white cloak, instead of a black one, with a red 
cross on their left shoulder. They came into Eng 
land early in king Stephen s reign, and first gained 
possession of a house in Holborn, but afterwards re 
moved to the place now called from them the Tem 
ple ; where they have left a beautiful church, and 
some of their tombs may yet be seen in it. This was 
their chief possession and head-quarters in England; 
but they had other houses in towns and in the 
country. Their houses were called preceptories, as 

G G 2 


the Knights Hospitalers were called 
Their superior was called the master of the Temple, 
as the chief of the Hospitalers was called the grand 
prior of St. John. 

The Templars were the only religious order 
which was not allowed to remain here till the Re 
formation. They lasted only about two hundred 
years; when in A.D. 1312, king Edward II. received 
a bull from pope Clement V. for their suppression, 
and directing him to give their estates to the order 
of Hospitalers. He refused to execute the last part 
of the pope s instructions for about a twelvemonth; 
but this poor prodigal king was not able to keep the 
property in his own hands. He was in the midst of 
trouble with his own barons, and wanted the pope s 
friendship, that he might have his name to use 
against them. He was therefore obliged to make 
over the estates to the grand prior ; and thus that 
order continued to hold them till the time of Henry 
VIII., when the whole number of their commandries 
amounted to eight and twenty. The history of these 
two orders belongs to the history of the crusades. 

There were, besides all these abbeys and religious 
houses, a great number of ALIEN PRIORIES, founded 
on the plan which Edward the Confessor had begun, 
in subjection to foreign abbeys. The Norman kings 
or barons, who had a kind of family-interest in some 
of the Norman abbeys, gave lands to them in Eng 
land ; on which the Norman monks built priories, 
or cells, which was the name given to the smallest 
kind of religious house. These alien priories were 
all broken up before the Reformation. When our 
kings lost Normandy, there was no prudence in let 
ting abbots, who were become subject to France, 
keep hold of English lands or manors. Edward III. 
seized on them, before he made war upon France ; 
and in the second year of Henry V., an act of par- 


liament was passed, which put an end to them, A.D. 

Such is a short account of the religious societies 
that sprang up as thickly in these warlike and trou 
bled times, as ever did the new sects of Protestants 
in the civil wars of king Charles I. and the Covenan 
ters. Such changes are the fruit of troubled times 
and evil days. In part they repair the evil ; but 
they bring their own evil with them. 



I pray you, 

When you shall these unlucky deeds relate, 
Speak of me as I am ; nothing extenuate, 
Nor set down aught in malice. 


HE plan of this little work will not allow 
room for any long account of a per 
son who is commonly brought in to fill 
many pages in the history of the reign 
of king Henry II., the eminentTnoM AS 
BECKET, archbishop of Canterbury, A.D. 1162-70. 
This unfortunate prelate has not been treated with 
much tenderness by modern historians who have un 
dertaken to write accounts of this period of English 
history. " His whole conduct," we are told, " was 
odious and contemptible, and his industry directed 
to the pursuit of objects pernicious to mankind." 1 
There is, indeed, little satisfaction to be derived 
from a view of the conduct of either party in the 
dispute ; but something of respect is due to one 
who chose rather to sacrifice his life than abandon 
the principles for which he had long contended 
under a conviction of their truth. And a judg 
ment of the cause, for which he was cruelly mur- 
1 David Hume. 


dered, will best be formed from a short statement 
of the facts. 

It has been seen that the Saxon kings governed 
England with the help and advice of their Witen- 
agemot, or council of wise men, an assembly which 
answered very much to our present houses of par 
liament. It was an assembly which met once a year 
or oftener, wherever the kings kept their Christ 
mas, Easter, or Whitsuntide. Bishops, and earls, and 
abbots, and thanes, who had property of a certain 
value, were all entitled to a seat in it. It was the 
chief court of justice, as well as the public council 
of the nation; and the kings could do nothing of im 
portance nay, they could not dispose of their own 
estates by will, without the consent of this council. 2 
When the seven kingdoms were united by Egbert 
(for there was no independent kingdom except in 
such provinces as were held by the Danes, after his 
times), this king, with his son Ethelwolf, gave a 
charter, signed by his earls and thanes met in Witen- 
agemot at Wilton, A.D. 838, in which he confirmed 
to archbishop Ceolnoth the liberty and property 
of the churches and monasteries in Kent, with the 
right of electing bishops and abbots, on condition 
that they should accept him and his successors as 
their patrons and protectors, as the kings of Kent 
had been before. 

When William the Conqueror came to be king 
of England, he did not like these frequent parlia 
ments ; and, first of all, he took away from them all 
their authority as a court of justice, by setting up 
the court called the Kings Hall, which consisted of 
the great men who attended at his palace, as the lord 
high constable, the lord mareschal, the lord high ste 
ward, the high chamberlain, the lord chancellor, who 

a King Alfred s WilL 


kept the king s seal and examined all his letters and 
grants which were to pass under his name, the lord 
treasurer, who was his chief adviser about taxes, 
and a few of the chief barons, whom the king might 
choose to summon. These were assisted by some 
persons learned in the laws, who were commonly 
Norman clergymen. They were called the king s 
justices ; the chief of them, who had great power in 
the state, being distinguished by the title of chief 
justice. This king s hall, which afterwards was fixed 
at Westminster, be<iame the final court of appeal in 
all causes; and the old shire-moots, or county-courts, 
of the Saxons, had very little power left. 

In the next place, William the Conqueror de 
stroyed the freedom of the Saxon parliament, by 
making it no longer a matter of right for those who 
had a seat in it, but summoning only such barons as 
he pleased ; and, instead of allowing them to meet 
once or oftener every year, he assembled them only 
as it suited his own pleasure. Thus, instead of a 
free government, the persons who composed the 
council of state, and those who had the administer 
ing of the laws, were to be appointed, controlled, 
and removed, according to the absolute will of the 

There was only one of the institutions of the 
country which the Conqueror left free from these 
encroachments. This was the Church, which was 
still to be governed by its own laws, as it had bee; 
in Saxon times; but in order to prevent bishops 
from interfering at the county-courts, where in 
Saxon times they used to sit with the sheriff, they 
were now bidden to try all causes, in which they 
er their archdeacons were concerned, in courts of 
their own, according to the canons and laws by 
which bishops were guided. This separation, which 
was intended to diminish the power of the Church, 


in fact increased it. The punishments inflicted in 
the Norman courts of justice were not much differ 
ent from those sometimes inflicted in the Saxon 
times, but they were cruelly multiplied for the most 
petty offences. Maiming of hand or foot, putting 
out the eyes, branding, and the like, were most 
common. In Saxon times, every man might follow 
his game, or invite his friend to do it, on his own 
estate. But William made it a high privilege, granted 
to very few; and turned large tracts of country 
into forests, driving out the "inhabitants, that he 
might preserve beasts of chase for his own sport. 
Under his forest-laws, if a man slew hart or hind, 
hare or partridge, he was to lose his eyesight. Loss 
of life, which under the Saxon laws was of rare oc 
currence, was now so common, that we read of forty 
or fifty suffering at one assize. This cruelty alone 
led persons to seek admission into some of the lower 
orders of the priesthood, that they might be rather 
punished by hard penances, than be tried and sen 
tenced without a jury ; for this institution, founded 
by Alfred, if not earlier, was also taken away for a 
full century after the Conquest. And the bishops 
and^higher clergy naturally were disposed to extend 
the jurisdiction of their own courts; while the kings, 
becoming jealous of their power, sought to deprive 
them of it. 

Thus matters stood, when Henry II. raised 
Becket, an Englishman born in London of parents 
who were of the higher class of citizens, to the pri 
macy. He had been his chancellor, and, as a mem 
ber of the king s hall or high court of justice, had 
shared his counsels ; he had also been his companion 
in more private hours, and was his intimate friend. 
There can be no doubt, that, by raising him to the 
highest place in the Church, the king expected to 
find in him a man altogether fitted to aid his own 


intentions of changing the laws under which f.l:e 
Church was governed. But Becket, immediately on 
becoming archbishop, gave up his chancellor s office, 
changed his dress and habit from that of a lawyer s 
robes to a prelate s mitre and cope ; wore sackcloth 
next to his body; and soon made it appear that his 
mind was equally changed. He refused to appoint 
a friend of the king s to be archdeacon of Canter 
bury ; and he declined giving his pastoral blessing 
to a bad man, named Clarembald, who had been 
made abbot of St. Augustine s. 

Other quarrels arose between Becket and some 
of the barons of Kent, one of whom he excommu 
nicated. This gave the king great offence ; for he 
thought his authority dishonoured, when his knights, 
who held their lands by his grant, were excommu 
nicated without his leave. And the use of excom 
munication for slight occasions, private quarrels and 
the like, was one of the bad practices of the Church 
in these troubled times. 

But now came the great contest. Henry called 
together a council of the realm, it is incorrect to 
call this a parliament, as many writers do, con 
sisting of the two archbishops, twelve of the bishops, 
and forty-three lay barons, at Clarendon near Salis 
bury, on the 25th of January, A.D. 1164. Here 
he laid before them some laws, which he called the 
customs of England, for bringing all the Church- 
laws under the control of the king s hall, subjecting 
the courts of the archbishop and other bishops to 
an appeal to the king s chief justice ; in other words, 
to make the whole government of the Church depend 
upon what the king, with his council of state, should 
appoint for its laws. We must not judge of this 
dispute by the state of government and law as it is 
now, or as it has been for some time past; but must 
ask how things were in Becket s time. On the one 


side, the number of persons exempted from the juris 
diction of the king s courts had increased in such a 
way as to create a public inconvenience : for under 
the name of clergy were included not only priests 
and deacons, but sub-deacons, acolytes, and others 
who filled offices like those of beadles and sextons 
in our time ; and not only these, but the officers 
and domestic servants of bishops, abbots, and other 
dignified ecclesiastics. Many of these had nothing 
clerical about them but the name ; and some, to eke 
out a maintenance, appear to have exercised need 
ful arts, to have kept shops and even taverns. The 
king s party complained that these persons presumed 
on their immunity from the common law, that many 
disorders were committed by them, and even homi 
cides were not unfrequent ; which might be true in 
an age when almost all went armed, and if a fray 
ensued, blood would often follow. 

The occasion which was taken for this motion 
of the king s was an offence of still deeper dye. A 
wicked priest in the diocese of Salisbury, where this 
council was held, had committed murder. For this 
crime he had been sentenced by a Church-court to 
perpetual penance and imprisonment in a monastery; 
a kind of punishment not unlike that inflicted on cul- 
prib in penitentiaries : it was very lately practised in 
Spanish monasteries ; and was often so severe, con 
sisting of hard fare, solitude, and silence, that many 
have thought it worse than death. But the king 
demanded that such offenders, whether clergy or 
laymen, should be tried in his courts, and, if guilty, 
suffer the highest penalty of the law. The punish 
ment he required was according to the law of God ; 
out it was not, as he represented it, according to 
the customs of England; for the old English laws 
imposed this perpetual penance, sometimes adding 


banishment, but they left the culprit in the power 
of the Church. 4 

O._ the other hand, these constitutions of Cla 
rendon went to establish the great grievance, under 
which the Church had suffered in the time of llufus 
and Henry I., that when bishopric, abbey, or priory 
should be vacant, it should be placed in the king s 
hands, and he should receive the revenues, as if 
it had been part of his own domain ; that the per 
sons should be elected by him in council, by what 
ever councillors he should be pleased to call. To 
Cuiisent to such a law was plainly to deliver up tne 
Church, her goods, chattels, and estates, to the will 
of a despot, who might pillage it and deprive it of its 
ministers and pastors without check or control. In 
fact, Henry II., who has been called " the greatest 
prince of his time for wisdom, virtue, and abilities ; 
whose character, in public as well as in private life, 
is almost without a blemish ; who possessed every 
accomplishment both of body and mind, which 
makes a man either estimable or amiable," 5 besides 
a few instances of shorter duration, held the see of 
Lincoln alone in his own hands for seventeen years, 
while his base-born son received the income. 

Becket signed these acts of the council of Cla 
rendon, but revoked his assent to them, and ap 
pealed to the pope, who refused to confirm them. 
The king, not daring, as it seems, to impeach him 
for disobedience to laws so enacted, took another 
way to drive him to submission. He accused him 
for not appearing in person, but sending a deputy 
to appear for him, to a summons he had received ; 
and the council at Northampton sentenced all his 
goods to be confiscated. This was in October fol- 

4 Laws of Alfred, Ethelred, and Henry I. 
* Hume, Hist, of Engl. chap. ix. 


lowing. He was also accused of some breach of 
trust in his chancellorship three or four years be 
fore ; but this charge it is scarcely possible for any 
one to suppose to have been more than a pretence. 
He behaved at this council with great courage and 
firmness, having almost all the bishops and barons, 
by fear or favour, or honestly thinking it the best 
course, united against him ; and then seeing there 
was no safety for his property or personal liberty, he 
secretly withdrew to France. 

With what fortitude he endured a banishment of 
six years in that country, persevering in the strong 
resolve of a mind made up to abide the worst, sted- 
fast in the midst of the greatest dangers, with the 
pope and king of France now favouring him and 
now deserting his cause, it would take too long a 
space to relate. One or two facts, commonly omitted 
by the modern historians, respecting the much-praised 
sovereign who drove him to seek that place of refuge, 
it may be well to mention. 

King Henry II., provoked at the good reception 
given to Becket by the king of France, banished and 
seized on all the goods of every person who was in 
any way related to the exiled archbishop, sparing 
neither old nor young, women nor children. They 
flocked to him in great numbers at Pontigny in 
France, where he was residing, and their destitute 
appearance increased his distress. He sent them 
about, however, to different friends, with letters of 
recommendation, and they were well relieved at 
monasteries, or by charitable persons in France. So 
that this expedient did not injure Becket so much 
as it increased the indignation felt against the king. 

Next to this, hearing a report that Gilbert of 
Sempringham and his canons had been sending 
money abroad to Becket, he obliged him, with all 
the superiors and treasurers of his convents, to come 


before his high court of justice. The judges, re 
specting the age and piety of Gilbert, offered to 
dismiss him, if he would take an oath that lie had 
not done what was laid to his charge. It does not 
appear that any other kipd of trial was thought 
of; evidence before a jury was out of the question. 
The aged man, who was now beyond his eightieth 
year, replied that he would rather go into banish 
ment than take such an oath. The Gilbertines were 
kept in prison, and on the last day of term were 
expecting sentence of exile and confiscation, when 
a messenger arrived from the king who was then in 
Normandy, directing the business to be put off till 
he could return and take more ample cognisance of 
it. The religious were at this message set free ; and 
Gilbert, on regaining his liberty, declared at once 
before the judges that the charge was altogether 
false ; " but," said he, " I would not clear myself as 
from a crime, from the charge of having helped a 
prelate suffering for the Church." 

The Cistercians had almost as narrow an escape. 
Henry threatened to seize on all their monasteries, 
because Becket was harboured at a house belonging 
to their order at Pontigny ; but the banished man, 
when he heard of it, removed to Sens, where he was 
protected by the king of France. 

On the other hand, Becket himself was not a 
pattern of Christian meekness. He did not bear his 
banishment with the gentle spirit of Anselm. He 
continued to write threatening letters to the bishops 
and barons of the king s party, and he excommuni 
cated his chief councillors. It is plain, that if the 
public feeling had not been in his favour, these sen 
tences of excommunication would have done but 
l : ttle harm ; they would have had little or no effect, 
like those which the popes sent out afterwards against 
good bishop Grostete and his friends. But Becket 


had been grievously wronged ; and the people, who 
groaned under the same tyranny, looked upon him 
as the champion of religion and liberty. When he 
parted from the meeting of the council of Northamp 
ton, they crowded around him in such throngs, that 
it was with difficulty he could find his way out of the 
multitude, who on their knees besought his blessing. 
And when at length he returned, only thirty days 
before his murder, Nov. 30, A.D. 1170, on which day 
he landed at Sandwich, the poor of the place flocked 
to his landing, having seen out at sea the archbishop s 
silver cross on board the vessel, and cried aloud, 
"Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the 
Lord, the father of orphans, the judge of the widow s 
cause !" 6 

King Henry II., who, with his officers, had held 
all the property of the see for the last six years, 
though he had made peace with Becket in July, had 
seized on all his rents due at Martinmas, and had 
made such clean work on his estates, that he found 
little but empty houses and ruined farms. Oppres 
sion has driven many a wise man mad. Can it be a 

6 11 

" The impious application of Scripture must have been 
suggested by the priests, when these simple people spread their 
garments in the way, and sang, Blessed is he that cometh in 
the name of the Lord." SOUTHEY, Book of the Church, 
chap. viii. The spreading of these garments in the way is 
mentioned only in the manuscript Life of Becket by his chap 
lain, Herbert of Bosham : the historians of the time do not 
mention it ; and it seems to be an exaggeration. As to the 
words, they were commonly used in the middle ages as words of 
welcome to religious persons. Thus when the French king St. 
Louis, in A D. 1249, took Damietta from the Saracens, the poor 
Christian slaves and captives flocked from their places of retreat, 
and met him with shouts, as he entered the city in procession, 
" Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." And 
this use of them seems to be approved by an excellent writer of 
the reformed Church of England. See Dr. Edward Hyde s 
Christ and his Church, 1658, p. 221. 
H H 2 


matter of wonder, that a man, whose offence at first 
was no more than that he had sought to maintain the 
liberties of the Church as they were fixed by the 
laws, should have had his spirit embittered by such 
manifold oppressions ? He was not, indeed, a man 
of gentle temper, but rash and vehement. And now 
he fell, not as a martyr should, but refusing to re 
lease from excommunication three prelates who were 
his brethren in office, though they were the king s 
friends ; and one of whom, Gilbert Foliot, bishop of 
London, was a wise and moderate man, who acted 
in honest prudence, thinking that, in a choice of 
evils, the best course for the Church was for a time 
to suffer and be silent. 

It is well known that he was murdered by four 
knights or barons of king Henry s court; who, hear 
ing their master, in one of his fits of distempered 
passion, in which his friend Peter of Blois says 
he behaved more like a wild beast than a man, 
complain that no one would avenge him against one 
turbulent priest, took an oath either to compel Bec- 
ket to withdraw his excommunications, or to carry 
him out of the kingdom ; or at his refusal to do 
either, to kill him. They found him altogether in 
tractable, and hewed him down with their swords in 
the cathedral. He fell on the altar-steps, having 
knelt in the posture of prayer; and his last words 
were, " To God, to the holy Virgin, to the saints 
the patrons of this church, to the martyr St. Denis, 
I commit myself and the Church s cause." 7 

There is no need to believe that the king author 
ised this murder. On the contrary, he is said to have 

" Surely in these solemn words, however mixed with the 
superstition of the day, there is something more becoming the 
immortal hopes of man, than in the last scene of David Hume, 
the most bitter assailant of his memory, who died talking with 
the pagan mockery of an old blasphemer of the cross, of his 
last voyage in Charon s barge ! 


been anxious to prevent it, and submitted to the most 
humbling penance at Becket s tomb, to manifest his 
sorrow for the angry speech which had prompted 
the four knights to undertake it. These miserable 
men retired first to Yorkshire, to the house of a 
baron, who was their friend ; but finding themselves 
avoided by every one, and that none would eat or 
drink under the same roof, they took a voyage to 
Rome, whence, by the pope s order, they went on a 
pilgrimage to Jerusalem, spent the remainder of their 
lives in a penitential discipline, and were buried near 
a door of the Templars church there, with an in 
scription over their tomb : " Here lie the wretched 
men who martyred St. Thomas, archbishop of Can 

It is the curse of kings to be attended 

By slaves, that take their humours for a warrant 

To break within the bloody house of life ; 

And, on the winking of authority, 

To understand a law ; to know the meaning 

Of dangerous majesty, when perchance it frowns 

More upon humour than advis d respect. 

Becket was a man whose -mind was cultivated 
with ancient and modern learning ; and while he 
was allowed a life of peace, he lived much in the 
society of scholars. He was above some of the fool 
ish superstitions which were now prevailing in many 
of the monasteries, and were generally mixed up with 
the religion of the time. A Cistercian abbot, dining 
at his table, having taken up a good part of the con 
versation with stories of the miracles of Robert oi 
Moleme, one of the founders of his sect, Becket lis 
tened patiently for a while, but then broke off the 
subject, by turning to him with some indignation 
and contempt, and exclaiming, " So these are yout 
miracles !" 

What is more remarkable is, that neither Becket, 
nor STEPHEN LANGTON, who, in king John s time- 


played as distinguished a part, did much to inornate 
the dominion of the pope in England, however they 
were placed in opposition to their sovereigns. It was 
one who is generally passed over by our historians 
the French priest, William of Corboil, as before 
mentioned who brought the yoke upon the neck 
of the English Church. This is the very essence of 
popery, to give the pope the authority of universal 
bishop, and to act only as his deputy. Other errors, 
and superstitions, and bad practices, may be reme 
died ; but if there is only one authority in the Church, 
from which all reformation must come, we are with 
out resource until the pope is pleased to grant it. 
Stephen Langton is a remarkable person in Church- 
history, as having made the convenient division of 
the Bible into chapters, as we still keep it. He was 
a diligent preacher and commentator on Scripture. 
It is well known that king John and the monks of 
Canterbury being at variance about the election of 
an archbishop, pope Innocent III. took the matter 
into his own hands, and sent over Stephen Langton, 
A.D. 1206. He was, however, one who preferred 
the liberty of his Church and country to the interests 
of either pope or king ; and he took a leading part 
in the efforts made by the bai-ons to procure a better 
government in the struggle in which Magna Charta 
was obtained. Pope Innocent did himself no honour 
in that struggle ; for, after having humbled king 
John to his heart s content, he took his part against 
the barons, absolved him from fulfilling the terms to 
which he had given his promise, and told Langton 
to excommunicate the champions of liberty. But he 
chose rather to abide the pope s ban with them. 

What was much less to his praise, he took a lead 
ing part also in the law first attempted to be forced 
upon all clergymen by pope Gregory VII., to bind 
them to a single life. Anselm had tried to make 


the English Church receive this law ; and it is much 
to be lamented that so good a man should have been 
so misled. William of Corboil made a great stir 
about it in A.D. 1129; and wished to make all the 
archdeacons and priests put away their wives in the 
foggy month of November, when their company to 
make a home cheerful was particularly desired. It 
all came to nothing, for Henry I. only made the poor 
clergy compound and keep their wives. But Stephen 
Langton, A.D. 1225, put out a fierce decree, that 
married priests should do penance, as if they had 
committed adultery ; and as to their wives, they were 
to be excommunicated, or worse, if they did not. re 
pent and live separate. From this time, for about 
three hundred years, till the Reformation began, the 
bishops who were themselves married, or who per 
mitted the clergy to marry, were obliged by the 
abominable popish law to do it secretly ; and as 
their wives were not publicly allowed, the pope s 
lawyers called them their mistresses, and caused their 
children to be reputed bastards. It v/as this vile 
law which made the martyr Laurence Saunders, at 
the time of the Reformation, say with indignation, 
" What man, fearing God, would not lose this pre 
sent life, rather than, by prolonging it, not avouch 
his children to be legitimate, and his marriage law 
ful and holy ?" We are not obliged to believe the 
foul stories which are raked together by some writers 
on this subject ; for there is no reason to suppose 
that it was often worse than this. The poor priests 
were married secretly, and kept their wives under 
another name. The bishops gave them private license 
to do it, and tolerated them in it. And it was no 
unusual thing for the bishops of the Norman-English 
Church to be married men before Langton s time. 
Sampson of Bayon, bishop of Worcester, where he 
succeeded Wulfstan, A.D. 1096, was the father of 


Thomas, archbishop of York, the second of that 
name, who was raised to the see A.D. 1 109. Richard 
Peckett, bishop of Coventry A.D. 1161, was the son 
of Robert Peckett, a married bishop of the same see. 
Reginald Fitz-Joceline, archbishop of Canterbury 
A.D. 1191, was the son of Joceline bishop of Salis 
bury. Geoffrey Rydal, A.D. 1174, who built a ca 
thedral at Ely, sent this excuse to the pope for not 
going to Rome to be instituted to his bishopric, that 
" he had a gospel-dispensation for it ; he had married 
a wife, and therefore he could not come." When 
pope Innocent III., who took king John s crown from 
him, had also, by Langton s means, caused the open 
profession of marriage to be prohibited, there were 
still bishops privately living with their wives. One 
of these was Boniface, a Savoyard, and kinsman to 
the queen of Henry III., who was made archbishop 
of Canterbury A.D. 1244. 

Many of the early popes were married men, or 
sons of married bishops and priests. Pope Hor- 
misdas was not only married, but left a son, Silve- 
rius, who was also pope some time after him. Evea 
after the time that pope Gregory VII. had forbidden 
priests marriages, pope Adrian IV., whose proper 
name was Nicholas Breakspeare, an Englishman, 
and the only Englishman who ever became pope, 
was the son of a married priest who lived at Lang- 
ley, near St. Alban s. He was raised to St. Peter s 
chair A.D. 1154. More than a hundred years later, 
A.D. 1265, pope Clement IV., a married priest, who 
had a wife and children, after having become a 
widower was made bishop, cardinal, and pope. And 
no bad pope either. He had two daughters ; one 
of whom choosing to be a nun, he gave her thirty 
pounds only, that he might not do any thing to help 
her to break her vow of poverty. The other he 
married to an honest gentleman of a middle rank, 


and gave her three hundred pounds, telling her it 
was all she was to expect from him. He had also 
a nephew, who, when he came to be pope, was hold 
ing three pieces of preferment. " Choose which you 
please," said the uncle ; " but you must keep one, 
and give up two." Some of his friends remonstrated 
against this strictness ; but Clement was firm. " It 
is my business," he said, " not to seek to gratify my 
natural inclination, but to behave as one put in trust 
by God." It would have been well, says the honest 
writer who tells this, if all the popes had followed his 



Here is my throne: bid kings come bow to it. . 


EADERS who have followed us thus far 
will have seen that the first and great 
cause of the success of the pope was 
the ill government of the Norman kings, 
who destroyed the old free parliament 
of the Saxons, and, while they professed to keep the 
ancient laws, took away the old courts in which jus 
tice was administered, and made the last appeal to be 
to judges who would lose their office if they once 
resisted the pleasure of the sovereign. The same, 
oppressions which drove the barons to make league 
against king John, drove the Church, in earlier reigns, 
*o form a closer union with the pope, against sove 
reigns who broke their oath, and, regardless of human 
law or divine right, used their power only to plunder 
and destroy. The favour of the people attended 
these struggles for liberty : and in these days the 
only portion of society which preserved their pro 
perty in peace were the members of those religious 
iouses which charity had reared and placed under 
the protection of the Church. 

Still, however, the power of the pope would never 
have been established, if the kings themselves had not 
at last found it more for their own advantage to make 


agreement with the Roman pontiff than to continue 
at variance with him. The Church of England had 
now become, with the vast number of religious houses 
founded since the Conquest, very rich; and there was 
enough both for pope and king to turn to a means 
of spoil. It was naturally the growth of those dis 
ordered times. The great men, who had been guilty 
of so many deeds of rapine and cruelty in the reign 
of Rufus and of Stephen, were sometimes struck by 
the remorse of conscience, and stood forth, like the 
extortioner Zacchaeus, to give half of their goods to 
the poor. A wise government, guided by free coun 
cils, would have interfered sooner to put a check to 
this, lest it should encourage too many to eat the 
bread of idleness, living on the alms of the monas 
teries, when they were able to profit the state by 
honest industry. As it was, it went on without a 
check from the reign of the Conqueror to that of 
Edward I. more than two hundred years ; till about 
one-fifth of the land of the kingdom was in the pos 
session of the monasteries. 1 At this period, king 
John having set the first example, the kings began to 
make that sort of agreement with the pope, which 
lasted about three hundred years longer, exercising 
such rights as the pope allowed over the Church, 
and dividing with him the taxes which were laid 
on the Church s inheritance. The more able kings, 
as Edward I. and Henry VII., kept the pope s share 
low ; but in the time of weak kings, as Henry III., 
or those who had no good title, as Henry IV., the 
abuses of this usurpation were multiplied. The sum 

1 H. Wharton, Remarks on Burnet, p. 40. Bp. Burnet 
says, " the best part of the soil of the kingdom was in such ill 
hands." Pref. pt. ii. p. xii. If he means the best-cultivatea 
part, this is true ; for the monks took much better care of their 
lands than the Norman barons. If he means that they had 
more than half the soil, it is one of the foolish tales which this 
credulous writer was much too ready to believe, 
i I 


annually paid for Peter-pence had been restored by 
William Rufus ; but nothing more was sent out of 
the country till king John had opened the road to 
all kinds of exaction. 

The lesson to be learnt from this surrender of 
the liberties of Church and State, is one which every 
Englishman may read in the causes in which it be 
PERY. There can be no revival of popery in Eng 
land while the Church is free : but if wicked go 
vernors seize on the Church s goods, destroy her 
bishoprics, or give them to false teachers and un 
worthy men attempt, as the apostate Julian did, to 
deprive her of the power of educating her own child 
ren, and if the people love to have it so, it can 
only end in the exaltation of some power, which will 
defile the altar and cast down the throne. Let the 
Church be secured by the state in those rights which 
the law of Christ has given her let her be free, as 
other institutions are free, enjoying her property 
under the protection of equal laws, and the state 
and nation that so protect her, in her freedom will 
secure their own. 

There were many other causes which helped on 
the encroachments of the pope, besides this chief and 
greatest one. There were many ways in which his 
authority was brought in, secretly at first and unsus-. 
pected, till it was too late to apply a remedy. It was 
begun and fostered within the Church itself by in 
troducing the Dissenting Principle. The different 
orders of monks, canons, and friars, were all, in fact, 
so many sects, each collecting a body of partisans of 
their own, and withdrawing themselves from the con 
trol of the bishop. No doubt the bishops appointed 
by the Norman kings were often of such a character, 
that it was difficult for the monks to live at peace 


under them ; so that there were faults on both sides. 
But the love of power on the part of the great ab 
bots urged them on the more eagerly in that ruin 
ous course, which was the occasion of their great 
overthrow in Henry VIII. s time. The first abbey 
which was exempted from the jurisdiction of the 
bishop was Battle Abbey, founded by the Conqueror, 
and privileged in this extraordinary manner by his 
charter. From this example others were led either 
to purchase the same privilege at Rome, or, what 
was in these bad times no uncommon thing, to forge 
old charters, pretending to give their abbeys such 
privileges at some period before the Conquest. Thus 
the popes began to establish an interest for them 
selves by a means which they have ever since em 
ployed (through the begging friars, when the monks 
were not obedient, and when the begging friars were 
become unserviceable, by the Jesuits), by setting up 
dissenting societies to oppose the rightful authority 
of the bishops. 

The first order which seems to have attempted to 
gain this exemption was the order of Cluniac monks; 
but before the time of Gregory VII. it was not so 
easy to find bishops willing to allow it. At a coun 
cil of French bishops held at Ause, near Lyons, A.D. 
1025, it was resolved that the privilege granted to 
the Cluniacs, taking them out of the jurisdiction of 
their bishops, was not valid; for it was not according 
to the old laws of the Church, and particularly it was 
contrary to the fourth canon of the council of Chal- 
cedon, one of the early councils whose authority is 
acknowledged in every Christian Church. 2 These 
monks, however, did not lose sight of the advantage 

* See Mr. Palmer s Ecclesiastical History, chap. vii. p. 70. 
The canon runs thus : " It is decreed, that no man shall any 
where build or establish a monastery or house of prayer with 
out the consent of the bishop of the city or province ; and that 


to be gained to their sect by it ; and when it was 
once established, the abbot of Clugny became a 
powerful head of a large body of dissenters in Christ 
endom. Though their houses in England were fe\v, 
tbrir property was large: they had the great tithes 
of many livings settled upon them ; and being chiefly 
foreigners, they had no interest in leaving a fair por 
tion to the English parish-priest. The pope found 
them very useful allies in England and other places. 
The old Benedictine abbeys, founded by Dun 
stan s friends, were induced often to seek this privi 
lege, by the trouble which the Norman bishops gave 
tiiem. As long as the bishops were monks of their 
own order, the monks and they, in the cathedral 
towns, agreed well enough ; but when they came to 
be secular priests, or> canons, or of any other order, 
they were often at variance : for the bishop in the 
cathedral city, according to Dunstan s plan, was to 
be abbot of his own monastery ; but when this could 
no longer be, there was to be a division of the reve 
nues ; and this occasioned disputes. There was sad 
work at Canterbury in Richard I. s time or just be 
fore, when Baldwin, an Englishman, born at Exeter, 
and of the Cistercian order, was made archbishop of 
Canterbury. He tried in every way he could to de 
stroy the exemption of the abbot and monks of St. 
Augustine s, but the popes Urban III. and Clement 
III. effectually prevented him. This prelate was in 
great esteem with the clergy who were not monks; 
and, as he afterwards accompanied Richard on his 
crusade, was the means of doing some good in re 
straining the disorders and relieving the wants of the 
English soldiery. He is one of the first bishops 

the monks in each city or province shall be subject to the 
bishop, and love peace and quietness, and apply themselves to 
fasting and prayer, in those places in which they have IB- 
nounced the world." A.D. 451. 


after the Conquest who is mentioned as having been 
a preacher ; the majority of them being still Nor 
mans, who could not speak English, as William de 
Longchamp, bishop of Ely, whom Richard left to 
govern England in his absence. 

It appears, indeed, that the Cistercians were an 
order of a more English feeling, and more disposed 
to respect the authorities of the Church. Their 
great teacher, St. Bernard, in his lifetime, was very 
Eealous to keep his monks in obedience to their bi 
shops, and wrote very indignantly to some abbots 
who had applied for exemptions and higher digni 
ties. " What new presumption is this," he says, " to 
withdraw from the obedience you have promised ? 
Are you not still monks, though you are abbots ? 
Though you are set over monks, this does not make 
you cease to be monks yourselves. But you say, 
We do not seek it for ourselves ; we only desire the 
liberty of our church. O liberty, more slavish than 
any slavery ! God preserve me from such a liberty, 
which would make me only the miserable slave of 
pride ! For I am well assured, that if ever I pretend 
to shake off the yoke of my bishop, I shall put myself 
under the yoke of Satan. If I had a hundred spi 
ritual pastors, how should I fare the worse? Should 1 
not be led the more securely in the green pastures, 
and fed by the waters of comfort ? Amazing folly ! 
that a man should have no fear when he assembles 
a great number of souls to guard them, and that 
he should be offended at the thought of having one 
guardian to watch over his own !" There cannot 
be a more touching rebuke to the pride which lurks 
at the bottom of the Dissenting Principle. 

Meantime the remedy which these abbeys had 
sought was soon proved to be worse than the griev 
ance which occasioned it. The pope sent his le 
gates and proctors into England, and those who 



had received the most of his protection were to pay 
the most dearly for it. The great abbots were to 
go to Rome for investiture, and were not to go 
empty-handed. The Benedictines, being the rich 
est, were to be visited by persons deputed from 
other orders ; and these, armed with their brief 
authority, did nothing to favour those whom they 
looked upon as rivals. Still, matters went on toler 
ably till the begging friars arose ; and these light 
artillery of the pope were shortly employed on all 
his services. 

The BEGGING FRIARS began in the days of 
king John and pope Innocent III. Their two prin 
cipal sects were the Dominicans, or Preaching Friars, 
and the Franciscans, or Minorites. But there were 
also two others, which had some favour in England 
the Carmelites and Austin Friars. Their pro 
fession was to live on alms, to possess neither houses 
nor lands, but to travel, and abide in any house to 
which they were bidden, like the seventy disciples. 
In fact, they never did possess large landed estates 
in England, though they soon abated the rigour of 
their rules as to holding houses. They were not 
long without splendid houses in London, in Oxford, 
Bristol, York, and other places in town and country. 
The popes gave them the privilege of going where 
they pleased, and preaching or administering the 
sacraments to whom they pleased ; to hear con 
fessions from any who chose to confess to them ; 
and to hold schools and teach wherever they might 
be able to assemble scholars. Thus they could come 
into the domain of any monastery, or fix themselves 
in any parish, without leave of bishop, abbot, or 
priest. They were suddenly raised to the greatest 
popular esteem ; so that, as a Benedictine monk 3 of 

8 Matt. Paris. 


the time complains, the monasteries did not in three 
or four hundred years obtain such a height of great 
ness as the friars minors and preachers within 
twenty-four years after they began to build their 
first house in England. They were soon able to 
raise costly edifices, and to spend immense treasures. 
They were sent for to attend nobles and rich men 
at the point of death, whom fear or an evil con 
science prevented from sending for their parish- 
priest, or ordinary religious adviser ; and thus, often 
influencing the making of their wills, they took 
care to recommend their own order to charitable 
consideration. They were as well received by the 
common people, to whom they preached, like White- 
field, in the streets or fields; and in contempt of the 
pomp and dignity of the altars in abbey-churches, 
they carried about a small stone altar, which they 
set up on a wooden table, and so administered the 
communion. Such was the beginning of what is 
now called the Voluntary Principle. 

Francis of Assisi, an Italian, and Dominic Guz 
man, a Spaniard, were the founders of the two prin 
cipal orders of begging friars. They were both 
famous preachers. Francis preached constantly on 
Lord s days and festivals, in parish-churches where 
they admitted him, or else in conventicles of his 
disciples. His sermons are said to have been short 
and impressive ; and he himself seems to have been 
a man of simple mind and sincere piety. Dominic s 
character as a preacher was to introduce pithy 
stories, something in the way of Rowland Hill, but 
with still less, probably, of gravity or reverence. 
His disciples imitated his practice ; and if we may 
trust the account of an Italian religious poet, who 
lived in the same century with Dominic, their arti 
fices by such means to catch the applause of their 
hearers were paltry enough. 


Christ said not to the convent of his twelve, 
" Go forth, and preach buffooneries to the world;" 
But gave them truth to build on ; and the sound 
Was mightier on their lips than shield or spear. 
The preacher now provides himself with store 
Of jests and gibes ; and if his hearers laugh, 
His big cowl swells with pride, and all goes right. 
But such a dark lird nestles in his hood, 
That, could the vulgar see it where it sits, 
They scarce would wait to hear the pardon said, 
Which now the dotards hold in such o.teein. 

This, which the poet mentions, was one chief 
errand of the Preaching Friars, to sell the pope s 
pardons, which were first given to those who chose 
to pay a price to be quit of their vow to go on a 
crusade. And where the friars established schools 
or gave lectures, they aimed rather to teach the 
canon law, set up by the popes against the common 
law of the different countries in Christendom, than 
to advance the knowledge of Scripture or any use 
ful science. This the same poet justly complains 

The accursed love of coin 

Hath driven from the fold both sheep and lambs, 
The shepherd turn d into a wolf. For this, 
The Gospel and great teachers laid aside, 
The decretals, 4 as their stuff d margins shew, 
Are the sole study : pope and cardinals, 
All bent on these, think not of Nazareth, 
Where Gabriel lighted down on golden wing. 

What they did teach, however, in explanation 
of the Scriptures was too often a corruption of the 
truth, and beguiled men from the simplicity of faith 
into disputes of words and strange or impious fancies. 
Their chief doctors were called schoolmen. Of these 
there were many eminent men ; particularly Thomas 
of Aquino, a Dominican, and Bonaventura, a Fran- 

4 The name of a portion of the canon law. 


ciscan, who both lived about A.D. 1250. The first, 
however, by his subtle refinements, much injured the 
doctrine of grace ; the other was given to a super 
stitious veneration, which now very widely prevailed, 
of the blessed Virgin Mary. 6 They reached their 
highest degree of favour in England in the reign of 
Edward I., when two Franciscan friars, Robert Kil- 
warby and John Peckham, were each in turn arch 
bishops of Canterbury, and this king s private con 
fessor was Thomas Joyce, a Dominican, who, as 
well as Kilwarby, was made a cardinal. The follow 
ing may serve as a specimen of what he preached 
before the king : 

" The philosopher commends the wisdom of a 
bird, which knowing itself weak and unable to defend 
its young, lays them among the young of another 
brood. So ought we to do. Our young are our 
works. Since, therefore, we are weak in doing good 
works nay, most weak, for as the apostle says, ice 
are not sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of 
ourselves ; we cannot defend our works against our 
enemies. Let us then place our good works among 
the works of Christ ; that is, let us ascribe to him 
whatever good there is in our works, as it is written 
in Isaiah, Lord, thou hast wrought all our works 
in us." 

Such language proves that, though the doctrine 

* There is a common story of these two doctors, that, as 
they were once both entertained at the king of France s table, 
Thomas sat studying some deep argument that was then in his 
mind, and at last exclaimed, " I have it ; the Manichseans are 
heretics, and clearly in the wrong." Bonaventura gazed reve 
rentially at the countenance of the queen, till the king asked 
him what his thoughts were. " O sire," he said, " if an 
earthly queen is so beautiful, what must be the beauty of the 
queen of heaven ! If this is true, it shews who was the best 
politician, and may account, in some degree, for the popularity 
of the Franciscans with the ladies. 


of grace was not yet denied, it was endangered and 
disgraced by mean comparisons. It ought to be a 
warning to us, how we listen to such preaching, 
Avhich, professing to explain heavenly mysteries in 
familiar language, in fact destroys their heavenly 
nature, and puts only an unseemly fancy in their 

Yet, as it is the way of a gracious Providence to 
bring good out of evil, the unprofitable or mischie 
vous learning of these friars led the way to some 
thing better. They set up schools at their convents 
in Oxford and Cambridge, and, as they were really 
zealous in teaching, and took a more popular way 
of conveying instruction than had been known be 
fore, their schools were the means of drawing many 
students to the universities. It is surprising what a 
great number of poor scholars there were in those 
days, who flocked together from Ireland and Wales, 
as well as from all parts of England. The English, 
whose language had been almost banished by the 
Normans from churches, courts of law, and schools, 
now began to acquire more instruction ; and the 
different classes of society were brought nearer 
together by these teachers, who knew how to make 
themselves acceptable to high and low. The Nor 
mans began to learn English, and the Saxons to 
mix up their old language with Norman-French 
words ; and from this union our native speech has 
gained something of the polish of old classical 
phrase, without losing its German simplicity and 
strength. John Peckham, already mentioned, when 
raised to the primacy, A.D. 1279, became a very 
praiseworthy reformer of church-discipline; and par 
ticularly, finding a Norman bishop of Lichfield who 
could not speak English, and would not reside on his 
see, he obliged him to appoint a coadjutor-bishop, 
to whom he was to pay a good salary for doing his 


duty. This is the last instance to be found of an 
abuse, which was thus put down about two hundred 
years after it began with the Conquest. 

The Dominicans having touched the pride of the 
monks, by expressing contempt for their neglect of 
learning, this also led to good. They told the Be 
nedictines, they were living the life of fat citizens 
proud of their wealth, and too fond of good cheei. 
As to the Cistercians, they were poor clowns and 
farmers, living like country bumpkins rather than 
learned clerks. The monks accused them in turn 
of being intriguers, match-makers, proctors of the 
pope s exactions, and flatterers of the rich for gain. 
In both which charges there was some truth. But 
the jealousy of the monks, and indeed the danger 
which threatened them, led them also to found hails 
or schools at the universities, and to send pupils to 
study there from the monastery -schools. By de 
grees, from this time, both learning and religion be 
gan to flourish at Oxford and Cambridge. ROGER 
BACON, a Franciscan friar, A.D. 1284, was the first 
adventurer in experimental science; and WYCLIFFE 
became the forerunner of the Reformation. 

But when the abject wickedness of king John 
had destroyed at once the liberty of his crown and 
of the Church, misrule and errors of all kinds were, 
multiplied. The pope had no need any longer to 
observe moderation or discretion in his demands ; 
and in the reign of Henry III., the two popes, Gre 
gory IX. and Innocent IV., carried on a system of 
levying contributions to an extent which seems al 
most incredible. They sent over orders to the arch 
bishops and bishops (Walter Gray, archbishop of 
^Tork, was one of the most complying), to give their 
best preferments to persons named by themselves. 
Gregory is said in one letter to have demanded no 
fewer than three hundred benefices: and the per- 


sons sent to fill them were Italians or Romans. Hig 
legate, Otho, had before demanded two prebends in 
every cathedral, and two monks portions in every 
monastery, as an acknowledgment in place of all 
fees at Rome. Then came a demand of the tenth 
of the annual income of all benefices. Then, a few 
years afterwards, no less than a fifth, to help this 
pope in a war against the German emperor. Inno 
cent IV. sent an order, that if any clergyman died 
without making a will, the pope should have his pro 
perty. And he is said to have occasioned so many 
foreigners to be sent over into England, and ob 
tained them such good preferment, that their yearly 
receipts amounted to seventy thousand marks ; more 
than the king then received from his own estates. 
The cause that these popes succeeded so wonder 
fully well was, that Henry III., a weak prince, cc-r> 
sidered himself to be in danger from his barons, and 
could see no safety but under the pope s shadow. 
Wherefore he was always glad to have a legate re 
siding in the country, and did every thing to sup 
port him in his taxations ; though it was commonly 
said that Otho carried off more bullion than he left 
within the realm. 

It may be asked, how the barons, bishops, and 
clergymen themselves, behaved under all these griev 
ances, when the king pillaged them by his minis 
ters, and the pope by his legate, both without right 
or law. There were many signs of the smothered 
fire, before it broke out into the barons war ; but 
the change of an "unpopular minister from -time to 
time, and the king s good-natured weakness, dis 
armed the stubbornness of opposition. There was, 
however, a secret society formed for the expulsion 
of the foreign churchmen, A.D. 1231. This club 
sent out a number of letters to different bishops, 
abbots, and the clergy of the cathedrals, telling them 

en. xix. 1 CLERGY S REMONSTRANCE. 373 

not to admit the Italians, and signing themselves, 
" the company of those who had rather die than be 
confounded by the Romans" The letters were sealed 
with a seal bearing the device of two swords ; and 
threatened vengeance if what they ordered was not 
obeyed. ArmH bodies of men were sent to empty 
the granaries c the Roman clergymen; it was done 
in form and order; they sold to those who chose to 
buy, and gave the rest to the poor. Walter de Can- 
tilupe, a baron s son, and bishop of Worcester, ap 
pears to have been a member of this society ; to 
which also belonged several of the noblemen, gen 
tlemen, sheriffs of counties, archdeacons, deans, and 
other clergy. Robert Twing, a young military man, 
was the chief leader in these disorders, which it 
appears were connived at by the magistrates. The 
king, finding that he was only the agent of others 
whom he was afraid of, did not punish him ; but as 
the pope had complained, told him to go to Rome to 
clear himself. The barons sent after him a letter 
of remonstrance to the pope; and the pope, finding 
it best to be civil, wrote a complimentary answer, 
and carried it no further. 

There were other gentler spirits, who took an 
other way to resist these corrupt encroachments. 
It appears that the parish-priests in many parts of 
the country met together, to protest against the 
pope s proceedings; and there is good sense and 
intelligence, together with good Christian feeling, 
in the following declaration of the clergy of Berk 
shire, A.D. 1240: 

" The rectors of churches in Bercshyre, all and 
each, say thus : First, that it is not lawful to contri 
bute money to support a war against the emperor ; 
for though the pope has excommunicated him, he 
has not been convicted or condemned as a heretic 
by any sentence of the Church. And if he has seized 

K K 


or invaded the estates of the Church of Rome, still it 
is not lawful for the Church to resist force by force, 

" Secondly, that as the Roman Church has its 
own estates, the management of which belongs to 
the lord pope, so have other Churches theirs, granted 
them by gift and allowance of pious kings, princes, 
and noblemen ; which are in no respect liable to 
pay tax or tribute to the Church of Rome. 

" Thirdly, although the law says, All things be 
long to the prince, this does not mean that they are 
part of his property and domain, but are under his 
care and charge : and in like manner the churches 
belong to the lord pope as to care and charge, not 
as to dominion and property. And when Christ said, 
Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my 
Church, he committed only the charge, and not the 
property, to Peter ; as is plain from the following 
words, Whatsoever thou shalt bind and loose upon 
earth shall be bound or loosed in heaven: not, What 
ever thou shalt exact on earth shall be exacted in 

" Fourthly, inasmuch as it is plain from the au 
thority of the fathers, that the income of churches 
is appointed for certain uses, as for the church, the 
ministers, and the poor, it ought not to be turned to 
other uses but by the authority of the whole Church. 
Least of all ought the goods of the Church to be 
taken to maintain war against Christians. 

" Fifthly, that the king and nobles of England, 
by inheritance and good custom, have the right of 
patronage over the churches of England ; and the 
rectors, holding livings under their patronage, can 
not admit a custom hurtful to their property without 
their leave. 

" Sixthly, that churches were endowed that 
rectors might afford hospitality to rich and poor 
according to their means; and if the intention of 


patrons is thus frustrated, they will not in future 
build or found churches, or be willing to give away 

" Seventhly, that the pope promised when he 
first asked for a contribution, never to repeat his 
demand : and that as a repeated act makes a custom, 
this second contribution will be drawn into an un 
usual and slavish precedent." 

These reasons and a few more, prove that there 
was by no means a general consent on the part of 
the Church of England to the tithing and tolling of 
the pope ; on the contrary, that there were those 
who would with prudence and firmness have sup 
ported the liberty of the Church, had not the weak 
ness of the king and his ministers, who were many 
of them foreigners, betrayed them. Other proofs of 
the same determination will be seen in one or two 
eminent characters, whom we shall have occasion to 
mention in the closing chapter. It is now the place 
briefly to mention a few of the evils which were 
thus fastened on the Church. 

First, the practice of excommunication, or, as 
our forefathers called it, in plain English, cursing, 
whomsoever it pleased the pope to curse. Becket 
was unjustifiable in carrying this so far as he did; 
but the popes now made it a kind of custom to lay 
a whole realm under an interdict or curse, putting 
a stop to all religious services, except baptising, or 
burying the dead. Pope Innocent III. began this, 
laying an interdict on the realm of England, A.D. 
1208, in order to gain his point with king John. 
The legate cardinal Gualo, A.D. 1218, did the same 
to all Scotland. It was as bad for the clergy as for 
the laymen at the time this curse was laid on ; be 
sides that, while it lasted, the people paid them no 
tithes or offerings, and they were never set free with 
out a sum of money. The poor Scots came clovrn 


from the north, and had very little to give, while 
they knelt, with bare head and foot and shanks, be 
fore the legate s deputy, or pope s gentleman s gen 
tleman, to receive absolution. And this tyrannous 
custom became so common, that pope Clement IV. 
and other popes, in granting a privilege to any fa 
voured monastery, made it an article, that when 
ever there should be a general interdict, they might 
shut their church-doors, and *aking care to shut out 
the excommunicated, and not ringing the ehurch- 
bells, might celebrate divine service by themselves. 
Some more gentle-spirited monks took advantage 
of this permission to set up an inner door of glass, 
which they kept shut, and the poor interdicted peo 
ple could thus come into the nave of the abbey- 
church, and see from without what was going on in 
the choir, as well as hear ; but this kindness occa 
sioned another prohibition. At length this cursing 
naturally lost all effect; and the common people, 
dressing up a mock bishop or priest, brought him 
into the streets, and giving him a tallow-candle or 
lighted wisp of straw in an earthen pipkin, he turned 
it over and put it out, pronouncing the same curse 
against the excommunicators as they had pronounced 
in the pope s name. 

The stories of false miracles, all tending to the 
undue honour of dead saints, also were multiplied. 
And such stories, though the monks had done some 
thing in this way, were more especially the inven 
tion of the begging friars. There was an old super 
stitious belief on this subject, as is shewn by some 
very simple stories in Bede ; particularly one of a 
sick horse, which was said to have recovered won 
derfully by rolling itself over the place where king 
Oswald died in battle. The poor animal most likely 
had a fit of the staggers ; and his rider, who had 
uever seen any thing of the sort, waa surprised, and 


in his piety, knowing nothing of second causes 
thought only of the First Great Cause, and inter 
preted it, according to the belief of his time, as a 
sign that God had taken king Oswald to a state of 
bliss. 6 Again, about the time of William the Con 
queror, a belief of the same kind was still commonly 
prevalent, as may be seen in a wild story told in the 
Chronicle of the Cid, the Spanish hero; how his 
body was wonderfully supported on horseback after 
death, and the Moors were put to flight by the view 
of it ; arid how he gave a box on the ear to a Jew, 
who came to feel his chin when he was laid out on 
his bier in the cathedral at Valentia. Perhaps such 
things were believed, as a schoolboy now believes a 
ghost-story, half incredulous, and half afraid. The 
following extract from the Chronicle, or a ballad of 
the time, may serve to shew how it was : 

Quantos dicen mal del Cid. 

Bad tongues that rail against the Cid shall spend their spite in 

For a noble knight he was in fight, and the best good lance of 


True servant to his king he was, and the champion of his land ; 
A foe to traitors, to true men he gave both heart and hand ; 
And in his life and in his death did earn immortal praise, 
Whate er ill-temper d rhymers say in these unfaithful days. 
Says one, " The deeds they tell of him are but an idle tale : 
Away with old wives fables ; let simple sooth prevail." 
If folks deny your principle, philosophers agree 
There is no room for argument ; and this my rule shall be. 
For why ? it is but ignorance that makes the man deny 
And quarrel with true history, because he loves to lie. 
High deeds are not for his poor creed: " Let fools," says he, 

" believe, 

That the Cid, when dead, great victories in battle did achieve." 
A s if it were impossible, or any way too hard, 
For him, whom living or in death the blessed saints did guard ! 

6 This story is mentioned, because it is particularly selected 
for the scorn of the unbelieving historian David Hume. 
K. K.2 


" How may it stand for truth," he says, " that his sword haif- 

dra\vn he rear d, 
When to his corpse the false Jew stole to pluck him by the 


Dull heretic, as far from wit as thou art far from grace ! 
What ! shall not Heaven regard its own, to shield them froaa 

disgrace ? 
The laws of knighthood, in such case, no more might nerve 

his arm ; 
But the law of faith, for which he fought, would keep him aye 

from harm ! 

This ballad may be taken as a record of the 
times of which we write. It would seem that there 
were, before the false legends began, some who had 
not much faith for such things ; but it was plainly 
held more religious to believe them. " The super 
stition of the day supposed the glorified saints to 
know what was going on in the world," says an ex 
cellent writer on this subject, 7 " and to feel a deep 
interest and possess a considerable power in the 
Church on earth. I believe that they who thought 
so were altogether mistaken ; and I lament and abhor 
and am amazed at the superstitions, blasphemies, 
and idolatries, which have grown out of that opinion: 
but as to the notion itself, I do not know that it was 
wicked ; and I almost envy those, whose credulous 
simplicity so realised the communion of saints, and 
the period when the whole family in heaven and 
earth shall be gathered into one." Such is the 
right estimate to be made of the belief of Bede and 
the simpler olden time. But the case was altered, 
when the poor ignorant people were taught to come 
to our Lady of Walsingham, or to Becket s shrine, 
for the health of their souls and bodies ; and when 
one saint s miracles were set out against another s 
to draw gifts to churches and altars, and prayer to 
these was taught so as to throw into the shade the 

7 Letters on the Dark Ages, no. v. 


true One Mediator between God and man. And 
when rnen have begun to practise such deceits on 
others or on themselves, persecution follows next.; 
they punish in others a denial of what they scarcely 
themselves believe, and hate a faith which seems 
purer or more earnest than their own. Still, amidst 
these errors and crimes, the light was not extin 
guished ; and it will now be our more grateful task 
to point out a few in whose breasts it burnt brightly 
to u>e end. 



Yet, in that throng of selfish hearts untrue, 
Thy. sad eye rests upon thy faithful few; 
Pause where we may upon the desert road, 
Some shelter is in sight, some sacred safe abode. 

The Christian Year 

ROSTETE, or Greathead, bishop of 
Lincoln, was born at Stradbrook in 
Suffolk. He studied at Oxford, and 
also at Paris, which was a famous seat 
of learning in the middle ages. He 
then returned to Oxford, and was a tutor or master 
in the Franciscan school there. He took holy or 
ders from the bishop, and became rector of St. Mar 
garet s, Leicester, and was soon afterwards made 
archdeacon. He was an intimate friend of Simon 
de Montfort, the famous earl of Leicester, who af 
terwards unfortunately was led by too daring an 
ambition to make war against his sovereign. In 
A.D. 1235 Grostete was elected bishop of Lincoln. 
On his coming to his see, which then took in a wide 
extent of nine or ten counties, he found the country- 
churches in many places left without a proper main 
tenance for the parish-priests, the tithes having been 
improperly given to the monasteries, who were to 


provide a vicar to do the duty. He made a diligent 
visitation of his diocese, and compelled the monas 
teries to give a more fitting allowance to the vicars. 
In some places, it seems, they sent over only a monk 
to do the duty on Sundays. Finding also that the 
privileges given by the popes to the monasteries, 
and even to the nunneries, led to many abuses, he 
determined, in spite of the exemptions which had 
been granted against the proper rights of bishops, 
to put them to a strict visitation. In this he met 
with great difficulties. In the beginning of his ef 
forts for reform he had some support from pope 
Innocent IV., whom he had known in his youth ; 
but either his love of money, or his necessities (for 
he was at war with the Italian states), drove him, 
for filthy lucre s sake, to take part with the pri 
vileged orders. At last, having summoned all the 
abbots, priors, and other religious superiors, to a 
synod at Leicester, and finding that many Templars, 
Hospitalers, and others, had appealed to the pope, 
he went himself to Rome to accuse the pontiff to 
his face of not acting up to his own letters and pro 
mises. " Be content," said pope Innocent; " you 
have delivered your own soul by your protest ; but 
if I please to shew grace to these persons, what is 
that to you ?" The bishop returned to England ; 
and finding how little trust was to be placed in Ro 
man honour, began to act on his own authority. 

He had before summoned the abbot of the Bene 
dictines at Bardney to attend at one of his courts 
of law, to answer to a suit for debt, which a clergy 
man brought against him. The popedom was then 
vacant, and the abbot tried to escape trial at his 
court by applying to the prior of Christ-church, 
Canterbury, who was, by the constitution of the 
former pope, at the head of the exempt houses, or 
dissenting interest, of the Benedictine order. The 


bishop knew that this step was not approved by all 
the abbots in his diocese ; and sending for those of 
Ramsey, Peterborough, Wareham, and other places, 
to a synod at Hertford, he laid the case before them. 
These honest abbots declared that their brother of 
Bardney was guilty of contumacy, and ought to be 
deposed. But the prior and monks of Canterbury, 
calling together fifty priests, most likely from their 
own livings, and putting fifty monks to hold a synod 
with them, excommunicated Grostete. There was 
at this time for three years no archbishop at Can 
terbury ; so that these insolent monks had it all their 
own way. When one of them delivered the letter 
of excommunication to Grostete, he trod it under 
foot, and said with some contempt, " Tell those who 
sent you that such curses are the only prayers I beg 
from them for ever." 

He deposed the abbot of Peterborough after 
wards, for having wasted the property of his monas 
tery in order to enrich his relations. Such abuses 
were likely to be fostered by the pope s exemptions. 
He then, in defiance of these irregular privileges, 
visited every religious house in his diocese, and 
made strict inquiry into every case where either 
man or woman was suspected of not living accord 
ing to the rule, or of having broken their vows. 

He was very much disposed, at first, to favour 
the Begging Friars ; but when he saw them riding 
about the country in boots and spurs, collecting the 
pope s taxes, his eyes were open to their fraudulent 

His independent spirit, and bold determination 
to do his duty, often led him to oppose the king 
and his ministers. Henry III. acted as might be 
expected from so weak a character in disposing of 
his preferment. He had a chaplain, who was a 
half-witted sort of jester, with whom Matthew Paris 


saw him and his brother-in-law amusing themselves 
in the monastery -garden at St. Alban s, pelting 
each other with turfs and raw fruit. Was such a 
man fit to have the cure of souls ? Grostete com 
plained of this.. He prevented also another king s 
chaplain from holding a second living in his diocese. 
On this occasion, as the king yielded to his remon 
strances, he took the opportunity, as he preached 
before him, to praise his sense of justice. "A king s 
righteousness," he said, " when he rules according 
to the laws, is like the sun s beams, shining equally 
on all." But when, a few years later, the pope 
and king had made an iniquitous bargain, that the 
pope should give him a tenth of all the Church s pro 
perty for three years, under pretence of a crusade, 
and the other prelates were in a strait, not knowing 
what to do, Grostete said to the king s ministers, 
"Marry, what is this? Do you think we shall 
submit to this hateful exaction ? God forbid !" 
Ethelmar, the king s brother-in-law, who had been 
elected to the see of Winchester, but was too young 
to be consecrated, said to him, " Father, how can 
we resist the pope and king together ? The French 
have consented to such a contribution, and they are 
stronger than we; they are more used to resist; and 
yet they contributed to aid their king, when he was 
going, as ours is, on a crusade." " If they have con 
tributed," rejoined Grostete, " we have the more 
reason to resist. For we see too well what has 
been the end of this extortion with the king of the 
French. 1 The money that he has exacted from his 
own kingdom he has had to pay to ransom his 
own pevson from the captivity of the Saracens. 
That we may not, like him, incur with our king 
the heavy wrath of God, I give my voice freely 

1 St. Louis, or Louis IX. 


against this injurious tax." Yet he offered, if tlie 
king would allow this tax to be disposed of, when 
collected, according to tl e advice of his faithful 
barons, to give his consent to it ; provided the 
liberty of the Church froiu all extraordinary taxes 
were also secured under a new charter. But this 
being refused, the council was adjourned without 
deciding any thing. It is plain that this good pre 
late s eyes were opened to the false principles which 
had wasted so much blood and treasure on the cru 

He was suspended by Innocent, at length, ftf 
refusing to give a rich benefice to an Italian. But 
his character was too high for such a sentence, even 
from the pope, to take effect. He continued to 
preach and rule his diocese ; and sent a letter of 
remonstrance to Rome, which is said to have run 
in these terms : " Let your wisdom be assured, that 
I obey all apostolic commands devoutly and reve 
rently, with the love and duty of a son ; but those 
which are contrary to apostolic, in zeal for your 
honour as for a father s, I withstand and oppose. 
For by divine command I am bound to do both. 
For apostolic commands are not and cannot be 
other than such as are agreeable to the doctrine of 
the apostles, and of our Lord Jesus Christ himself, 
the Master and Lord of the apostles ; whose cha 
racter and person, in the sacred government of the 
Church, my lord the pope most especially bears. 
For our Lord Jesus Christ himself says, He that 
is not with me is against me. But the divine 
Holiness of the apostolic see is not and cannot be 
against Christ. 

" Now the letter which I have received is not 
agreeable to apostolic holiness, but most contrary to 
it. First, because the clause, which this and other 
etters sent into this realm contain, that I am to do 


what it commands, notwithstanding all law and pri 
vilege to the contrary, is against all natural equity ; 
and, if this is once allowed, it will let in a flood of 
promise-breaking, bold injustice, and wanton insult, 
deceit, and mutual distrust ; and after them a train 
of innumerable crimes, to the defilement of pure 
religion, and disturbance of the peace of society. 
Next, because there cannot be a sin more opposed 
to the doctrine of the apostles and evangelists, or 
more odious to Christ, than to kill and destroy 
souls, by depriving them of the pastoral office and 
ministry ; a crime which they are plainly guilty of, 
who take the milk and fleece of the flock of Christ, 
but neglect to lead their charge into the pastures 
of life and health. Not to administer the pastoral 
duties is, by the testimony of Scripture, to ruin and 
destroy the flock. 

" As in good things, the cause of good is better 
than the good of which it is the cause, so in evils, 
the cause is worse than the evil which it brings. 
They who bring in these destructive practices be 
tray a high and divine power, given them for edifi 
cation, not for destruction. It is impossible, there 
fore, that the holy apostolic see, put in charge as 
it is by Christ Jesus the Lord of saints, can com 
mand any thing that tends to a crime so hateful. 
For it would be a manifest treason to Christ, and a 
foul abuse of the high and holy power which be 
longs to that see, a choice of darkness rather than 
light, and a seeking of banishment from the throne 
of the- Lord s glory. Nor can any one with pure 
and sincere obedience obey such commands or pre 
cepts, or instructions of whatever kind, coming from 
whom they may, even though they were given by 
an archangel ; but he must needs with all his might 
oppose and withstand them. 

" In short, the holy apostolic see has power to 

L L 


do only those things which are for edification, not 
those which are for destruction. And why should 
it desire more ? For this is in truth, and this only, 
the fulness of power, to be able to do all things for 
edification. But these things, sent over to this 
realm under the name of provisions, are not for the 
edification, but for the destruction of souls. The 
holy apostolic see, therefore, cannot allow them. It 
is flesh and blood which hath revealed them, and not 
the Father of our Lord who is in heaven. 

" For these reasons, most reverend lord," he 
says in the conclusion of his letter, " since the com 
mands I have received are so contrary to the holi 
ness of the apostolic see, destructive to the souls of 
men, and against the catholic faith, the very spirit 
of unity, the love of a son, and the obedience of a 
subject, command me to rebel." 

Not long after he had penned this remarkable 
letter, he was seized with his last illness. The suf 
ferings of the Church, under what was then a new 
tyranny, were the subject of his latest thoughts ; and 
he spoke of the extortions and abuses, the cheating 
pretences and broken promises of the Italian pontiff, 
with such pointed words as shewed how deeply he 
felt the evils which he deplored. He spoke also of 
the employment of the Begging Friars in the pope s 
merchandises with becoming indignation, as per 
sons who, after renouncing the world under a vow 
of poverty, had become more entirely busied in 
worldly business than before ; and he ended with 
the prophetic words, " The Church will never be set 
free from this Egyptian bondage, but by the edge of 
a blood-stained sword I" 

Bishop Grostete was, as might be expected from 
his own superior acquirements, a great promoter of 
religious learning, preaching diligently himself, and 
requiring the same from his clergy. He gave 


port to many poor scholars at the university, and 
wrote himself many treatises on sacred subjects, in 
English and Latin, He had many eminent friends 
in high stations in the Church, one of whom was 
EDMUND, archbishop of Canterbury, who strove for 
some time to bring the king to better counsels ; but 
at length finding no success, and being unwilling to 
witness evils which he could not remedy, retired and 
died under a discipline of severe self-denial at Pon- 
tigny, the place of Beeket s retirement in France. 

Among the friends of Grostete was also SEWELL, 
archbishop of York, who had been dean of that 
church. On his election, A.D. 1256, pope Alexander 
IV. gave the deanery to one Giordano, an Italian 
who could not speak a word of English, and sent 
him to gain possession as he might. The manner 
was curious. Three strangers came into York min 
ster at noon, when the citizens and clergy were at 
dinner, and inquired of a person praying there alone, 
which was the dean s stall. On being shewn it, the 
two said to the third, " Brother, we install you by 
the authority of the pope." When the proceeding 
came to the ear of the archbishop, he pronounced 
the appointment invalid ; for which when the Italians 
returned to Rome, he was laid under an interdict, 
and put to imsneiase expense and trouble. When the 
pope afterwards sent some more Italians for prefer 
ment, Sewell refused to admit the strangers into his 
diocese. Giordano, fisading himself ill at ease, gave 
up the deanery for a pension of a hundred marks. 
But the pope was so enraged against Sewell, that, 
having already suspended him, and ordered the sil 
ver cross which was carried before archbishops to 
be taken from him, he now excommunicated him; 
all which the holy prelate bore with a patience 
befitting a disciple and friend of Edmund of Can 
terbury aaad of Grosteie. The more he was cursed 


by the pope, the more he was blessed by the peo 
ple, but secretly, for fear of the Romans. He 
wrote shortly before his death a very humble and 
respectful remonstrance to the pope, not yielding 
the pokits at issue, but maintaining his own inte 
grity in refusing to prefer his nominees. He died 
under sentence of excommunication, but the people 
crowded to his funeral, and honoured his tomb 
There are many who are martyrs, says Matthew 
Paris, like St. John the Evangelist, without shed 
ding their blood. 

A third of the friends of Grostete was RICHARD, 
bishop of Chichester, a man of the greatest piety 
and charity. 2 It is remarkable that the influence 
of these good men was so great with the barons of 
England, that even after they had been defeated at 
Evesham, a party who held out at Ely, A.D. 1267, 
still endeavoured to stipulate for the terms which 
Grostete had required in the council. They refused 
to allow the king a tax of three years tenths on be 
nefices for a crusade : " The war," they said, " was 
begun through these unjust exactions. It is time to 
cease from them, and consult for the peace of the 
realm." When they were now excommunicated by 
the pope, and outlawed by the king, and were sum 
moned to return to their faith and allegiance, their 
answer was, " That they firmly hold the same faith 
which they have learned from the holy bishops, St. 
Robert, St. Edmund, and St. Richard (Grostete, Ed 
mund of Canterbury, and Richard of Chichester,) 
and other catholic men ; that they believe and hold 
the articles of faith as they are contained in the 
creed and in the gospel, and the sacraments of the 
Church ; and for this faith they are prepared to live 
or die. That they acknowledge obedience to the 

2 See an account of him in Palmer s Church History, 
p. 201. 


Church of Rome as the head of all Christendom ; 
but not to the avarice and exactions of those who 
ought to govern it, but do not." These brave men 
were soon after defeated and dispersed by prince 
Edward. Though they were mistaken in taking up 
arms, it is impossible not to respect their high prin 
ciples, and the cause for which they stood. And it 
is plain that had there been wisdom in Henry III., 
or moderation in his son Edward, the deliverance of 
the Church would have been accomplished two cen 
turies earlier than the period of the Reformation. 

The pope s power was indeed effectually checked 
by the wise laws of Edward I. ; but he was content 
to secure the dignity of his crown, without regard 
to the improvement of the state of doctrine in the 
Church, having no knowledge of the need. The 
supremacy of the pope was not touched by these 
laws; and thus there was no means of reforming the 
most important corruptions, unless the reformation 
began at Rome. The Church, however, continued 
from this time without those shameful invasions of 
its property, which had been going on from the reign 
of Rufus to Henry III. It was taxed for the king 
under his own laws. 

From this time the building of monasteries de 
clined. The laws rightly restrained persons fron. 
giving more lands, or settling further annual fees 
upon them. Charitable people still founded friaries; 
but, what was better, the more enlightened Christian 
statesmen and bishops began to found colleges at 
Oxford and Cambridge. WALTER DE MERTON, 
bishop of Rochester, and lord chancellor, founded 
Merton College in Edward I. s rei^n. He was a 
contemporary of HUGH DE BALSKAM, the founder 
of Peterhouse, Cambridge. Thesf are the two oldest 
foundations, as they now remain at the two Univer 
sities. They were followed bv many other pious 



founders, particularly WALTER STAPLETON, bishop 
of Exeter, and founder of Exeter College ; a good 
and upright statesman, who was murdered by the 
rebels in Edward II. s reign ; WILLIAM OF WYKE- 
HAM, the founder of New College and Winchester 
College and School, in Edward III. s reign, and the 
architect who built Windsor Castle; and WILLIAM 
OF WAINFLEET, who was a good and charitable 
man in more dangerous times, but, doing his duty 
and fearing God, was preserved in safety, and was 
able to found Magdalen College, in the midst of the 
wars of York and Lancaster. Nor should we omit 
to mention one of the latest yet most excellent of 
the list, the LADY MARGARET, countess of Rich 
mond and Derby, and mother to king Henry VII., a 
great benefactress to both Universities, and foundress 
of St. John s College, Cambridge. She was a rare 
example of devotion and charity in the highest rank, 
giving not only her wealth, but her time and personal 
attention to the sick and the distressed, often watch 
ing by a poor person s dying bed, that by such ex 
perience she might learn to die. 3 From the colleges 
so founded came forth those enlightened Christian 
men, who, studying Scripture by the help of the wri 
ters of the primitive Church, were at length enabled 
to see how the false and corrupt doctrines had from 
time to time crept in ; and from their sound learning, 
firm faith, and high self-devotion, we have gained all 
that was done well in the Reformation. To the his 
tory of the Reformation their names belong ; and 
also the names of the excellent archbishops BRAD- 
WARDINE and FITZRALPH, whose piety and zeal 

3 Her Funeral Sermon, by Bishop Fisher, and other memo 
rials of this excellent person, have lately been collected and 
published by Mr. Hymers, fellow of St. John s, Cambridge. 
It is a volume worth the attention of the student of Church- 


for truth raised them far above the spirit of their 
times; and that of. JOHN DE THORESBY, archbishop 
of York, A.D. 1360, who was a diligent preacher 
himself, and commanded his people to come and 
hear preachers. He also promoted the reading of 
the Scriptures in English : " Hear God s law," he 
said, " taught in thy mother-tongue. For that is 
better than to hear many masses." 

There were many, too, who did excellent service 
in building not only the splendid cathedral-churches 
which we see in every cathedral-city, and which 
were most of them built during this period, but also 
in rearing many of those handsome, and often very 
elegant, churches in country-villages. The succes 
sors of bishop Grostete, following his example in 
taking care of the country-parsons, reared several of 
those parish-churches which are to be found in 
Lincolnshire, a county full of well-built ovnamental 
churches. And it would t<x be easy to find a cha 
racter more befitting a Christian bishop than that oi 
Richard Poore, the founder not only of the beautiful 
cathedral, but of the town of Salisbury. 

RICHARD POORE, dean of Salisbury, was con 
secrated bishop of Chichester A.D. 1215, and of 
Salisbury in 1217- This prelate, by a bold and me 
morable effort, transferred his cathedral-church from 
Old Sarum, a situation on many accounts inconve 
nient, to the place where it is now situated. The 
old church was built by Herman, the first bishop 
who resided there ; but as he left it scarcely com 
plete, Osmund finished it. But the powerful bishop 
Roger so enlarged and beautified it, that he may be 
almost said to have built it new : and Malmsbury, 
who wrote at that period, reckons it among the most 
splendid churches in England. But Richard Poore, 
annoyed with the insolence of the garrison-soldiers 
of the neighbouring castla the want of water, and 


the bitterness of the weather on a high, naked, and 
stony hill, advised both the townspeople and clergy 
to leave the situation, and make a new settlement, 
building a new town and church in a meadow-ground 
one mile distant, watered by a river, and called for 
its pleasantness by the name of Merry-field. To 
this place inviting the most celebrated workmen, 
who could any where be found, he laid the founda 
tions of a church, which is at this day one of the 
most beautiful in England. Pandulpho, the legate, 
laid the first five stones, one for the pope, one for 
the king, the third for the earl of Salisbury, the 
fourth for the countess, and the fifth for the bishop. 
King Henry III. gave money towards the edifice ; 
and the citizens of Old Sarum all shifting their 
abodes, there was nothing left in the old spot except 
the Norman castle. 

Bishop Poore did not remain at Salisbury to finish 
the church; for after founding an hospital and a 
nunnery, he was translated to Durham. When he 
felt his end approaching, having assembled the peo 
ple, he preached to them as usual, and told them 
that his death was at hand. Again, on the follow, 
ing day, his illness increasing, he preached another 
sermon, bidding his flock farewell, and asking par 
don if he had offended any one. On the third day, 
having called together his household, especially the 
wards who had been entrusted to his care, he dis 
tributed to them what he thought reasonable, to 
each according to his services : and having thus de 
liberately disposed of every thing, and said a few 
words to each of his friends, late at night repeating 
the compline, or last evening service, when he came 
to the verse / will lay me down in peace, and take 
my rest, the good bishop happily fell asleep in the 
Lord. Before his death he had paid a great debt, 
which was contracted by his predecessor. 


The oublic favour toward the monasteries had 
greatly declined long before the time of their de 
struction. Some of the smaller ones had been broken 
up ; and some few had been turned over with their 
lands to the endowment of colleges, the only societies 
in this co.untry which now keep up a picture of old 
monastic life. Yet in the midst of the bloody wars 
of York and Lancaster, they were again the refuge 
of many of all ranks, and particularly of the weaker 
sex, who had seen their protectors slain or banished, 
and houses and lands torn from them. It is sad to 
think of the gross injustice and rapacity of the tyrant 
Henry VIII., displayed in their last overthrow. The 
worthy Latimer raised his honest testimony against 
it. He knew the prior of Great Malvern, in his own 
diocese of Worcester. "He is an old worthy man," 
he said to Cromwell, Henry s minister, " a good 
housekeeper, and one that hath daily fed many poor 
people. He only desires that his house may stand, 
not in monkery, but so as to be converted to preach 
ing, study, and prayer. Alas, my good lord, shall 
we not see two or three in every shire changed to 
such a remedy ?" He pleaded to a deaf ear. The 
destruction was total ; and the following want of 
ministers and preachers was so great, that queen 
Elizabeth was obliged in some parts of the country 
to pay a number of clergymen a salary to do the 
duty in places, particularly Lancashire, where they 
could obtain no maintenance. 

Still more remorseless was the destruction of 
nunneries, houses maintained at little expense, and 
for poor females, who could not have troubled the 
peace of a realm which was once separated from 
Rome. The writer has before him a copy taken 
from a book of devotion evidently drawn up for the 
use of a nunnery, in which are many of the prayers 
and meditations of RICHARD OF HAMPOLE, a pious 


hermitj whose writings were highly prized by reli 
gious readers, and who did much to aid devotion, 
as a true lover of the cross of Christ, about the be 
ginning of Edward lll. s reign. It contains, among 
other pious rules, the following " seven marks to 
know when the Spirit of God works in the soul : 

" 1. It makes a man or woman to set the world 
at nought, and all the worldly worships and vanities 

" 2. It makes God dear to the soul, and all the 
delight of the flesh to wax cold. 

" 3. It inspires both delectation and joying in 

" 4-. It stirs thee to the love of thy neighbour, 
and also to compassion of thine enemy. 

"5. It inspires to all manner of chastity. 
" 6. It makes to trust in God in all tribulations, 
and to joy in them. 

" 7. It gives desire to will to be departed and to 
be with God, more than to have worldly prosperity." 4 
The poor maidens, serving God, and studying 
such a manual as this, were surely not leading such 
a life as some of their revilers have represented. 
But there are also testimonies from -the very men 
who were sent on Henry s hardhearted errand, who 
were moved to pity by the sight of piety and suffer 
ing innocence, and in more instances than one endea 
voured to save a few of these abodes, which were so 
doomed to cureless ruin. It is a remarkable letter 
which the visitors sent up in behalf of the nunnery 
at Catesby, Northamptonshire: 

" The house of Catesby we found in very per 
fect order ; the prioress a sure wise, discreet, and 
very religious woman, with nine nuns under her obe 
dience, as religious and devout, and with as good 

4 Not a word has been altered in this paper : only the old 
spelling has been changed. 


obedience as we have time past seen, or belike shall 
see. The said house standeth in such a quarter, 
much to the relief of the king s people and his grace s 
poor subjects, as by the report of divers worshipful 
near thereunto adjoining, as of all other, it is to us 
openly declared. Wherefore, if it should please the 
king s highness to have any remorse, that any reli 
gious house shall stand, we think his grace cannot 
appoint any house more meet to shew his most gra 
cious charity and pity over than the said house of 
Catesby. As to their bounden duty towards the 
king s highness in these his affairs, also for discreet 
entertainment of us his commissioners and our com 
pany, we have not found, nor belike shall find any 
such. And lest peradventure there may be labour 
made to their detriment and other undoing, before 
knowledge should come to his highness and to you 
from us, it may therefore please you to signify unto 
his highness the effect of these our letters, to the in 
tent his grace may stay the grant thereof, till such 
time we may ascertain you of our full certificate in 
that behalf." 

This letter, signed by Edmund Knyghtley 6 and 
three others, tells us very plainly the scant measure 
of justice that was dealt to these poor women. The 
commissioners would have inclined the king to mercy 
if they could ; but the cause was judged first and 
heard afterwards. The lands of the nunnery were 
granted away to persons who bid high enough for 
them, before the certificate of the state of religion 
and discipline was sent up. 

The mischiefs which arose from this sudden injus 
tice were great and multiplied. The nunneries were 
commonly ladies schools, where young persons of 

5 Ancestor of the present Sir Charles Knightley, of Faws- 
ley, Bart., M P. for the county of Northampton; .a family 
distinguished at that time for their zeal for the Reformation. 


the richer and middle condition of life went to be 
educated ; here was a little estate left for the main 
tenance of instructors; and charitable persons some 
times left them land or fee, expressly on condition 
that they should keep such schools, and teach needle 
work and embroidery, and how to work some of that 
fine old tapestry which may still be seen in seats of 
English noblemen and country-gentlemen s houses. 
And together with this they were religiously taught 
and brought up in the fear of God; for true piety 
was never banished in the worst of times from the 
breasts of English women. It is greatly to be de 
sired that there should be still some such religious 
houses, where, without ensnaring and mistaken vows, 
persons might find an asylum from the disquiet of 
the world, and meet with society of that kind which 
would be the best suited to relieve them from the 
trials to which, in our railroad-making, money-get 
ting age, they are often exposed, without the sym 
pathy of a friend. 6 

We now conclude. The lesson to be learnt from 
all Church-history is a lesson of faith in the Author 
of all truth, the Founder and Preserver of that re 
ligion of which the Church is His appointed keeper 
and witness in the world. However the errors and 
crimes of men may have dimmed the pure light of 
the gospel in times past, as they do now ; yet we 
may see in these records that the old Christian bishops 
and fathers of our native land lived and died in the 
same faith which we cherish ; they founded or main 
tained a Church in doctrine and discipline the same 
as ours ; they sought, by one Saviour s blood, an 
inheritance in the same heaven in which we hope to 
dwell. These pages will not have been written in 

5 An English lady has of late years founded such a house 
at Clifton near Bristol. It is to be wished that there were 
more of them. 

CH XX. j 



vain, if they shall remind one Englishman, who reads 
the record of the trials and deliverances of his Church, 
to offer more solemnly his prayer of confidence in 
the almighty Protector : " O God, we have heard with 
our ears, and our fathers have told us, the noble 
works which thou didst in their days, and in the old 
time before them;" and to entreat, that "his con 
tinual pity may still cleanse and defend his Church ;" 
and " that the course of this world may be so eace- 
ably ordered by his governance, that his Church may 
joyfully serve him in all godly quietness, through 
Jesus Christ our Lord. 


M Jf 



I- In the time of king Alfred. A.D. 890. 

Fader ure, thu the eart on heofenura, 
Si thin nama gehalgod ; 
To-becume thin rice ; 


Urne dBBghwamlican hlaf syle us to-dsg. 

u/ltyltend^. gyItaS ^ - W 
d ne gelaedde thu us on costnun ff e 
alysusofyfele. Sothlice. 


Father our, thou that art in heaven 
n thy name hallowed 

so as 

But loose m from evil. SootUy (truly, or amen). 


II. In metre, sent by Nicholas Breakspf.arr 
(pope Adrian IV.) into England, in the time of 
king Henry II. A.D. 1160. 

lire Fadyr in neaven-rich, 1 
Thy name be hallved everlich.* 
Thou bring us thy imchel blisse. 
Als hit in heaven y-doe, 3 
Evar in yearth beene it also. 
That holy bread that lasteth ay, 
Thou send it ous this ilke day. 4 
Forgive us all that we have don, 
As we forgivet uch 5 other mon. 
Ne let ous fall into no founding, 
Ac shield ous fro the fowle thing. 

III. Another, of Henry III. s time, about A.D. 

Fadir ur, that es in hevene, 

Halud be thy name to neven : 7 . 

Thou do us thy rich rike : 8 

Thi will on erd 9 be wrought alike 

As it is wrought in heven ay ; 

Ur ilk-day brede give us to-day ; 

Forgive thou all us dettes urs, 

As we forgive till ur detturs ; 

And ledde us in na fanding, 10 

But shuld 11 us fra ivel thing. 

1 the kingdom of heaven. 2 hallowed evermoi 6. 
a as it in heaven is done. 4 this same. day. 

* each. 6 confounding, confusion. 

7 hallowed be thy name in the naming. Thus the old Eng 
lish poet Chaucer, A.D. 1380 

" There saw I syt in other sees (seats) 
Placing upon other sundry glees, 
Which that I cannot neven 
Mo than starres ben in heven." 

8 reach us thy kingdom ; put It within our reach. 9 earth, 
10 confounding ; as before. n shield, or defend. 

ACCA, bishop of Hexham. 
143, 4. 

Adrian, abbot, 68, 69, 132. 

Aidau, bishop, 61-63. 

Alban, St. 6, 7. 

Alban s (St.) abbey, 186,832. 

Albert, archbishop, 167-70. 

Alcuin of Canterbury, 132. 

ofYork, 125, 171-182. 

Aldfrid, king, 84, 120. 

Aldhelm, bishop, 133-189. 

Aldhun, bishop, 263. 

Aldred, archbishop, 280-283. 

Alfred, king, 203-219 

Alkmund, St. 166. 
Alien Priories, 274, 342. 
Andrew s (St.), see of, 287. 
Anselm, archbishop, 267,298- 


Asaph, St. 19. 
Asser, bishop, 203-207. 
Athelstan, king, 227-232. 

, bishop, 275. 

Augustine, archbishop. 29- 

, St. xvii., 10. 

Bacon, Roger, 371. 
Baldwin, archbishop, 364. 
Bangor monastery, 15. 34- 


Barons war, 388. 
Basil (St.), rule of, 87-92. 
Bath, ancient city of, 103. 
Battle abbey, 320, 363. 
Bavon, St. 27. 

Becket, archbishop, 344-355. 
Bede, venerable, 98.110, 148- 

Benedict (St.;, rule of, 246, 

Berks, clergy of, 37.1, 

Bernard, St. 335-359. 

Bertha, queen, 29. 

Bertram, 209. 

Birinus, bishop, 64. 

Biscop, Benedict, 96, 97. 

Botolph, St. 101. 

Bradwardine, abp. 271,390. 

Britons, ancient, 3, 4. 

Bury St. Edmund s, 232. 

Bulls, popes , 82, 309. 

Byrthnot, earl, 256-260. 

Canterbury, see of, 41. 

Carlisle, see of, 318. 

Castles, 289, 297, 312. 

Chad, St. 7*3-76. 

Charlemagne, emperor, 171 

Clocks, 216. 

Colman, bishop, 69, 70. 
Columba, St. 20. 
Constantine, emperor, 7. 

, king, 232. 

Council of Nice, 8, 35. 

Verulam, 11. 

Augustine s Oak, 


Whitby, 69. 

Hertford, 85, 104. 

Cliff s Hoe, 111, 

161, 185. 

Crediton, see of, 221. 
Creed, metrical, from \\at 

Anglo Saxon, 145. 
Croyland abbey, 101, 233, 



Cuthbert, St. 130. 
Danes, the, 193, 194. 
Daniel, bishop, 164. 
David, St. 19. 

Deeds, use of brought in, 115. 
Dominican friars, 366-371. 
Dorchester, see of, 69. 
Drythelm, hermit, 127-129. 
Dubricius, St. 15. 
Dunod, abbot, 36. 
Dunstan, archbishop, 236- 


Durham founded, 263. 
Eadfrid, bishop, 166. 
Eardulf, bishop, 199-202. 
Ebba, St. 82. 
Edbald, king, 42. 
Edbert, king, 167. 
Edmund the elder, king, 231. 

saint, 249. 

archbishop, 387. 

Edred, king, 233, 238. 
Edward the elder, king, 219, 

martyr, 248, 9. 

confessor, 273- 


Edwin, king, 46-58. 
Egbert, archbishop, 111, 112. 

, hermit, 154. 

. , king, 194. 

Egelric, bishop, 257, 280. 
Egelwin, bishop, 279. 
Egfrid, king, 80, 81. 
Elfege, archbishop and mar 
tyr, 265-267. 
Elfod, bishop, 35. 
Elfric, archbishop, 209, 260- 


Elfrida, 249. 
Ely monastery, 101. 
Erconbert, king, 64. 
Etha of Crayke, hermit, 131. 
Ethelbald, king, 117, 159. 
Ethelbert, king, 25, 29, 41- 

Ithelbert II., king, 160. 
Ithelhard, archbp., 187, 188. 
Ethelred of Mercia, king, 

the unready, 248,256, 


Ethelwin, earl, 256. 
Ethelwold, bishop, 237, 244. 
Ethelwolf, king, 195-197. 

of Lindisfarne, 166. 
Ewalds, martyrs, 156. 
Fastidius, bishop, 15. 
Felix, bishop, 55. 
Fitzralph, archbishop, 390. 
Fools, 215. 

Fountains abbey, 318. 
Friars, orders of, 366. 
Germain, St. 10-15, 103. 
Gilbert of Sempringham, 340, 


Gildas, 5, 18. 

Glastonbury abbey, 102, 237. 
Gloucester founded, 281. 
Godbald, bishop and martyr, 


Godwin, earl, 273. 
Gregory the Great, 26, 32-40. 

VII., 294, 299, 358. 

IX., 371. 

Grimbald, 212. 

Grostete, bishop, 380-387. 

Guthlac, hermit, 131. 

Hadrian, abbot, 68,72, 1?2. 

Hampole, Richard, hermit, 

Hereford, see of, 85. 

Hexham, see of, 81, 201. 

Hilda, St. 99. 

Howel the good, 228. 

Hyde abbey, 212, 330. 

Jarrow monastery, 96, 97. 

Jerome, St. 123. 

Image -worship, 181. 

Ina, king, 121, 140, 172. 

Ingulf, abbot, 287, 324._ 

Innocent III., pope, 356, 375. 



Innocent IV., pope, 372. 
John of Beverley, bishop, 148. 
John Scott, or Erigena, 208. 
Justus, archbishop, 41. 
Kenelm, St 249. 
Kenwal, king, 74. 
Kingil, king, 64. 
Lanfranc, archbishop, 266 

291-295, 302. 
Langton, Stephen, archbishop. 


Lastingham monastery, 101. 
Laurence, archbishop, 41.48. 
Laws of Saxon kings, 42, 113, 
229, 240-3, 271, 301. 
Leofric, 273. 
Lichfield, see of, 65. 
Lindisfarne, see of, 61. 
London, see of, 40. 
Malmsbury abbey, 133, 147. 
Man, Isle of, converted, 19. 
Margaret, countess of Rich 
mond, 390. 
Marriage- laws, 242, 243. 

of priests, 263,357,358. 

Martin, St. 14, 29. 
Matilda, queen, 304-307. 
Mellitus, archbishop, 41. 45. 
Mildred, St. 116. 
Missions to Germany, 154- 

India, 217. 

Sweden and Nor 
way, 265. 

Monasteries, Eastern, xvi.. 
89, 92. 

, British, 15, 92. 

, Saxon, 95-119. 

-, destruction of, 199, 

211, 233, 393. 




, Cluniac, 333. 

; Cistercian, 334. 


Monasteries, Carthusian, 338. 

, of regular canons, 

Augustins, Premonstrants, 
Gilbertines, 339, 340. 

knights of St. John 

and Templars, 340, 341. 
Neot, St. 206. 
Ninian, St. 18. 
Normans, the, 277. 
Norman barons, 300, 312. 
Nothelm, archbishop, 110,162. 
Nunneries, 304, 393-396. 
Odo of Clugny, 227. 

, archbishop, 240-244. 

, bishop of Bayeux, 293, 

Offa of Essex, 109. 

Mercia, 113,183-186. 

Olave, St. 265, 268. 

Ordeals, 223. 

Organs, 133. 

Orkney, see of, founded, 265 

Osith, St. 100. 

Osmund, bishop, 291. 

Oswald, king, 60-66, 376. 

, archbishop, 238, 244. 

Oswy, king, 68-70, 107, 8. 

Otho, legate, 372. 

Palls, 40, 185. 

Parish -churches, origin of, 

85, 230, 231. 
Patrick, St. 18. 
Paulinus, archbishop, 49-54. 
Peckham, archbishop, 370. 
Peterborough abbey, 101,231. 
Petroc s (St.) see, 221. 
Pilgrimages, 119, 122. 
Plegmund, archbishop, 210 


Poore, bishop, 391. 
Purgatory, 125, 126. 
Ramsey abbey, 244, 247. 
Richard, bishop of Chichester, 


Ridley, bishop, 210, 296. 
Rieval abbey, 337. 


404 INDEX. 

Tlipon, see of, 78-80, 281. 
Rochester, see of, 41. 
Salisbury, see of, 391. 
Sampson, St. 20. 
fcaxons, ancient, 22, 23. 
Schools at Canterbury, 72. 

York, 166-169. 

Lindisfarne, 63, 



Malmsbury, 93, 

- Oxford, 72, 207. 

in monasteries, 327. 

Scots at Lindisfarne, 71, 72. 
Scriptories, 331. 
Selsey, see of, 85. 
Sewell, archbishop, 387. 
Sidnacester, see of, 64. 
Sigebert, king, 66. 
Sigeric, archbishop, 258. 
Siward, earl, 274. 
Slaves, 139-142, 218, 285. 
Stigand, archbishop, 278. 
Swithbert, bishop, 156. 
Swithelm, bishop, 217. 
Swithin, St. 195. 
Theodore, archbp. 67-85, 104. 
Thurstan, archbp. 313-318. 

:, abbot. 291. 

Tithes, 79, 196. 
Tranmb&tantiation, 209, 295. 
Turgot bishop, 287. 

Turketul, 234. 
Vale-Royal abbey, 335. 
Vitalian, pope, 67, 68. 
Ulphilas, bishop, 14. 
Wainfleet, bishop, 390. 
Walcher, bishop, 290. 
Walsingham, our ladyof, 339. 
Walter, hermit, 125, 130. 
., Stapleton, bp. 390. 

Welch Church, 275, 313. 
Wells, see of, 221. 
Werburga, St. 100. 
Werferth, bishop, 210. 
Westminster abbey, 41, 276. 
Wihtred, king, 112. 
Wilbrord, archbishop, 155. 
Wilfrid, bp. 69,76-84, 157. 
William, bishop of London, 

of Corboil, archbp. 


Winchester, see of, 74. 

Winfrid, archbishop and mar 
tyr, 157-165. 

Worcester, see of, 85. 

Wulfhelm, archbishop, 229. 

Wulfred, archbishop, 190. 

Wulfstan, bishop, 283-288. 

Wycliffe, 371. 

Wykeham, William of, 390. 

York, see of, 40, 53. 

Zachary, pope, 163.