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Ν the previous two Book I have recounted the wars and their results, thanks to which the rule of the English over Britain, which today is called England, originated, and how, if I may speak thus, it came of age. For just as a man first begins to live, then grows, acquires the bloom of youth, and finally begins to grow old, so kingdoms begin, grow, flourish, and finally fall. The first age of this kingdom, which was its infancy began with King Hengist in about the year of our salvation 449. Then after Hengist came its adolescence under seven, or sometimes eight, kings, ut as the appropriate place shows above, down to the time of Egbert, the seventeenth king of the West Saxons. He conquered the kingdoms of Kent, Northumbria, and East Anglia and was, as is said elsewhere, the first to call Britain England and the entire race the English. This age endured, gradually growing, about 350 years, and then most flourished in men and in arms. After Egbert it had its adult years, then at length dire old age approached, because of which, just as the human body begins to suffer from an assortment of maladies, so in human affairs idleness brings with it a host of woes. At that time, furthermore, first the Dacians, and then the Normans occupied the kingdom of the English. But these features of extreme old age, contrary to all men’s expectations, was transformed into youth. For the Norman name, gradually changed into the English, as will be made clearer below, and the people as a whole were called the English. Now, therefore, in this and the following Books I will tell what the English themselves accomplished in their mature and senile ages, at home and in war.
2. His son Edward succeeded Alured, the twenty-third in the line of kings, crowned in 900 A. D. by Athelred Archbishop of Canterbury, in accordance with ancestral custom. Above in Book IV of this work I related that Brithovald, the eighth archbishop after Augustine, the successor of Theodorus, was the first Englishman to have occupied that office. In the interval between him and Athelred, a matter of about 120 years, the archbishops were nine in number: Tadwin, who sat for three years); Noteline, for five; Cuthbert, , previously Bishop of Hereford, eighteen; Brethwin, three; Lambert, Abbot of St. Augustine, twenty-seven; Adelard, thirteen; Wilfred, appointed at Rome by Pople Leo IV, who sat for thirty-eight; Theologild or Pleogild, three; Celnot or Chelut, ten. And this last was succeeded by Bishop Atheldred of Winchester, the eighteenth from Augustine, a man supreme for his virtue and authority. But I must return to my purpose. At the beginning of this reign, thinking that from the very outset all his actions should be done for the benefit of the commonwealth, invested great energy in strengthening all places with garrisons, paying personal visits to those cities which he calculated were most useful for the enemy against himself, paying equal heed to the affairs of his subjects and his enemies, and forestalling barbarian stratagems. In this way he hoped to keep his subjects, accustomed to constant wars, steadfast in their duty and loyalty, partly lest they unexpectedly be oppressed by the enemy ranging more widely and freely in the absence of fear. And thus the opportunity to be begin a war might be taken away from the Dacians, who were particularly eager for innovation, and who at the time were lording it over the Northumbrians and East Angles. Nevertheless, war with Scotland suddenly took precedence over this effort, since their King Constantine was constantly harrying the English borderlands. Therefore Edward declared war on him as soon as he could, which was waged with much loss of life on both sides. But the King of Scots, suffering more reversals, was not unwilling to cease the fight, having obtained peace from the King of England. After this Edward recalled the wavering Welshmen to good order, and received all of Mercia, as will be recounted below, after the death of his sister Elfreda. But in this way he was scarcely able to slow down his enemies schemes or live in peace. For the Dacians who were in Northumbria at the time, taking it ill that English prosperity was increasing day by say, suddenly sought to stir up fraternal strife, so they might satisfy their wrath by other men’s arms. They secretly approached Edward’s brother Adelwold, a youth by nature greedy for power, and excited him with the advice that this was a fit time, when he could easily obtain the kingdom and banish his brother, if only he chose to do it, since at the present time Edward was already highly unpopular with his subjects and his neighbors since he was excessively striving to enhance his own fortunes and diminish those of others, contrary to law and right. And they volunteered their own help to speed this enterprise, saying they were prepared to assume all the risks and losses.
3. By these exhortations and promises they so provoked the boy that he immediately set his mind on his brother’s kingdom, and forthwith assembled and army and invaded it in hostile wise. But when the king was not behindhand in confronting this insult, then Adelvold, devoid of counsel, and doing everything rashly out of fear of danger, took to his heels and fled to the Dacians in Northumberland, so that with their help he might assemble a band. When the king found this out, he pursued with such speed that the boy was compelled to abandoned his intended route and head for the sea, and from there to seek overseas parts. And there he scarcely remained a year before returning to the Northumbrians for the sake of fomenting a rebellion. Fearing Edward, the Dacians gave him a most kind reception and appointed him their captain. Gaining this command, a wrathful Adelwold invaded his brother’s kingdom with a large number of fighters, marching against his brother. And the Dacians wasted everything with their steel and their fire. Then he turned against Mercia and likewise gave everything up for the plundering. Afterwards, heading in another direction, he crossed the Thames and cruelly ravaged all the region as far as the village called Basingstoke. For his part, the king went to oppose his brother with an organized army, and attacked him as he approached with his disorganized company. Both sides fought with might and main, the battle was savage and for a long time conducted on even terms, with many men falling on both sides. Adelwold died fighting bravely in the forefront against his enemies, but the Dacians did not cease the battle because of his death, since they had their own captains, and was because of their reliance on these that they had given the supreme command to Adelwold, so that the English might be slaughtered by their own weapons. This vigorous battle continued a while, but at length the royal forces were overcome and turned tail. But the Dacians, exhausted by the long fight, readily broke off pursuit. And having had the best in this fight, contrary to their expectations, they thought they should refrain fromw ar and asked peace from the king. But, so they might be more intimidated, agreed to a truce with them bit not to peace. Meanwhile there was a shortage of wheat due to a drought, and this was a reason why the Dacians did not immediately violate the truce. And yet, since they could not tolerate tranquility they incited Edward’s neighbors to make war, constantly having secret communications with them. Edward, thinking this impending danger needed to be countered, immediately hastened to the Northumbrians, and, wasting their fields, created such damage that henceforth they volunteered to stay loyal. War also threatened from another quarter, from the Dacians who governed the East Angles, whose king was Eric. He, a great enemy to the English race, secretly strove to bring the other Dacians into an alliance for war, so that that they could join arms and at a stroke gain possession of English wealth. But since he did this all rashly, his enterprise did not escape Edward’s notice, who anticipated his stratagems by invading the kingdom and most cruelly ravaging his land. The Danish king, who now had his own subjects under arms, burned with both anger and a craving for revenge, and was swept headlong against his enemy. And so a fierce battle was joined, and just as it was rashly begun by the Dane, so it was ruinous in its outcome. After a horrible slaughter of his men, Eric was bested and put to rout with nearly no trouble, and subsequently he was put to death by the East Anglians because of this hateful and fatal reversal, for they were annoyed with this over-cruel ruler for his harsh rule. Nor did this deed turn out to their advantage as they expected, since within a short while they were compelled to submit to Edward’s power, because of the frailty of their powers. And such was the downfall of the powerflu kingdom of the East Angles.
4. Having conquered the kingdom of the East Angles, Edward afterwards got all of Mercia in his power. For in the place of Ethelred, the governor of the Mercians, who had died childless, for several years his wife Elfreda ruled the Mercians with no less justice than prudence. Upon her death Edward regained all of Mercia. And in this way, finally, the king so advanced the borders of his kingdom that now he had gained control of all the island save Scotland, although some part of Northumbria was still under Dacian rule. Some claim that, having defeated the Dacians, Edward also gained control over Northumbria, but they are careless and self-contradictory in their writing, saying that this king had a daughter named Editha, who not much later, after the death of her father, married a certain Dacian named Sithric who at the time was ruling the Northumbrians, who, it is well known, died in the reign of Adelstan. Therefore, since Sithric was governing Northumbria at a time when Edward was still alive, it is clear that it did not obey him, as I shall make much clearer in my life of Adelstan below. In the end, his realm now pacified, Edward gave his attention to the making of laws, but these, albeit wholesome, were easily rendered obsolete by later men. He built a castle at Bedford, once a town, now more like a populous village, very well fortified by both nature and human effort, but today no trace of it remains. By Edgina, a girl of elegant beauty, he fathered a son named Adelstan, who was his successor. If I wish to satisfy the common sort of reader who delights in prodigies, it is worthwhile to insert mention of a foreboding which this girl Edgina had about giving berth to a son who someday would reign. For she dreamt that out of her womb arose a moon which illuminated all England with its light. She related this to some matron, who did not scorn the dream (which afterwards miraculously came to pass), but undertook to train this girl, born of obscure parents, in good manners. When this girl had grown ripe for marriage Edward chanced to seek out some manor for his relaxation and caught sight of her, and, being smitten with her beauty, slept with her soon afterwards, and by her, as I have said, he fathered his son Adelstan. Afterwards he also fathered children by his wife Elfreda. Ethelward and Edwin, who died immediately after him, Elfreda, Edgina or Elgina, Edburga, Ethilda, Ethida, and Elgida. Elfreda and Edburga, rejoicing in their viginity, became nuns. Edgina or Elgina married Charles the Simple, King of France, and Editha married Sithric, a petty king of the Northumbrians. By a second wife named Edgina, Edward sired two sons, Edmund and Eldred, who ruled after next after Adelstand. At this time Christian piety greatly languished among the East Anglians because there was no bishop to instruct the people, and this it a fault of the king that priests were not allowed to perform their office, since he was more devoted to war than to divine matters. For this reason a very troubled Pope John X wrote him a letter vigorously chastising him, threatening to excommunicate him and his people unless he quickly install bishops who could care for the preservation of pristine religious discipline. When the king was given to understand this, he was eager to make amends and so dealt with Pleimond Archbishop of Canterbury, who had a little earlier succeeded Athelred, who had died his the eighteenth year in office. And he convened a synod in which a number of bishops were consecrated to rule dioceses. Afterwards Pleimund, a man distinguished for his learning and uprightness, went to Rome to make amends and appeased the pontiff. Edmund was a man of handsome appearance, very comely at every time of his life, although its dignity began to decay in old age when he was beset by the diseases which frequently afflicted him, and finally killed him in the twenty-fourth year of his reign, which was the year of human salvation 925. His body was taken to Winchester for burial.
5. At about this same time died Rollo or Robert (for such was his name after his Christian conversion) Duke of Normandy, a man very famous in war, since scarce anybody else employed greater virtue in carving out a dukedome in a hostile land for himself and his posterity, a dukedom which (as will be told later) grew from the smallest beginnings to the point that it equaled in strength any great kingdoms you could care to name. Rollo left behind a son, William, in no wise inferior to himself in prudence or martial virtue, a man of great authority among the French. And to show this clearly, I must go back a little. As has been said, Charles the Simple, King of France, married Edward’s daughter Edgina or Elgina, by whom he fathered a son named Louis. After entering into his treaty with Rollo, he made himself so unpopular with his subjects that a good part of his nobility revolted. And afterwards they continually fought with varying success until at length the nobles, fearing worse things for their nation, were reconciled with the king, and then they joined forces against Robert Duke of Aquitaine, who was warring with the king. In a joined battle they destroyed the duke and all his forces. Disliking this and desiring to avenge his friend, Robert Count of Vermandois, met Charles, returning victorious, as if to congratulate him, and this crafty man, arranging his face so as to make his congratulation all the heartier, wearied the king with so many entreaties that he turned him aside into his own town of Perona, and there he cast him in chains. When she learned this, Charles’ wife Edgina took her son Louis and fled to her brother, King Adelstan of England. Meanwhile, so they would not lack a ruler, the French created as their king Rudoph, the son of Richard Duke of Burgundy, And when he died in the twelfth year of his reign, and when Charles was despoiled of his life in prison at about the same time, Duke William of Normandy was responsible for the French nobility sending ambassadors to recall Charles’ son Louis from England, and for hailing him as their king upon his return. Scarce five years had past when almost all the great lords of the realm revolted from Louis. And he was so destitute of his subjects’ support that he strove mightly to gain the good graces of Henry King of Germany, or, as some would have it, of Otto his son, and this he finally achieved thanks to the advice and intervention of Duke William. When the lords discovered this, of their own free will they asked for their sovereign’s good will. Thus William’s name was renowned with all people because of his virtue, since, being born for goodness, he was zealous to give his friends uncommon support, to help the wretched with his resources, to aid those who had been injured, and to serve as a protection of all men, without discrimination. As a result of these things, it came about that a nobleman, deprived of the castle of Monasteril by Prince Arnulph of Flanders took refuge with William as the universal avenger of injuries and lodged his complaint with him. Hearing the case, William so dealt that the castle was immediately returned to the young man, and he protected him from injuries. And this turned out to be to his own great harm, albeit undeservedly. For Arnulph, taking this thing in bad part, decided to set a trap for the duke at his own place, and deceived him without much effort by a false show of friendship. It soon came to pass that Arnulph brought the duke to a conference at Picquigny, where they had a long conversation about the matter under discussion. As soon as they parted, when William had boarded a small boat (they had held this conference on an island formed by the Seine at that place), he was suddenly called back to the shore by Arnulph’s henchmen, as if they wished to tell him something this faithless prince had forgotten, and there he was cruelly murdered. And the Normans ont he other bank shouted, but were impeded by the river’s depth and could bring their lord no hope. His body was later carried to Rouen and there given honorable burial. William had a son Richard, very much a boy, and Rodolph and Barnard, Normans surpassing all others in authority and reputation, undertook the protection of him and his dukedom. But it will be convenient to speak of these below. Now I must return to the point where I digressed.
6. Adelstan, the twenty-fourth from Cedric, Edward’s son by a concubine, was hailed by the people, and he was crowned in the town of Kingston, on the Thames about ten miles from London (today it is a populous village), in the ancesteral manner, by Athelm Archbishop of Canterbury. He, the twentieth prelate of Canterbury, succeeded Pleimund, and this was the year of salvation 925. When at the beginning of his reign rumor was brought to Adelstan that Constantine King of Scots was up in arms and gathering soldiers throughout his territory, and that the Welsh were looking to revolt, he regarded nothing as more important than to confront this danger hanging over his head. Therefore with a great force he set out against both of them, and with equal good fortune he put down and suppressed them both, and regained them as subjects. And he compelled the conquered Constantine to swear an oath (to which he in fact adhered) that he would henceforth enjoy the use of life and kingdom by his own permission. It is said that henceforth the Kings of Scotland did the same, although their more recent writers employ many arguments to deny this. But I think it no part of my task to do anything of the kind, since history is a narrative of things done, not an argument, and I have chosen to write what the oldest English annals say, so that I may complete this work I have begun without giving offence to any people. Thus I wish to say by way of preface that no man should ask, demand, or require that with respect to any deed done in bygone centuries a historian should perform the office of a judge. I return to my subject. Meanwhile King Sithric of the Northumbrians departed this life, and this thing was the occasion for Adelstan to seize power over Northumbria. For Sithric’s sons Analaph and Gottfred, being young men unreasonably desirous of rule, immediately began to form plans for new enterprises against the English king, secretly testing the minds of their neighbors and sending letters hither and thither. But the letters they wrote were in the end intercepted, and revealed the crime. Therefore, having learned his enemies’ counsel, he attacked the Northumbrians in unfriendly wise, and the youths, as inconstant in their plan as light-minded in their scheming, had no idea he was approaching. One escaped to Ireland, the other to Scotland. And the English king, fruitlessly pursuing them, easily compelled Northumbria to surrender, being bereft of a king and destitute of all protection. Thus Adelstan, taking consideration for his own affairs, thought it necessary to deprive his nephews by his sister Editha of their principality.
7. While these things were being done elsewhere, Gottfred collected no few men among the Scots and, relying on these, unexpectedly surrounded Durham with all the force he could, attempting to make the townsmen come over to him. And they, although they longed for their ruler, saw he was far too week to defend either himself or the city, and lest they be held accountable for a mutiny, they remained loyal although they were fearful. This thing made Adelstan angry at Constantine King of Scots to no small degree for giving aid to his foe. But soon the Scottish king excused himself of guilt and returned into his good graces. The other brother, Analaph, deciding to get revenge in some manner for the kingdom he had lost, by performing some bold deed, accompanied by a handful of his countrymen entered the English camp in disguise, to spy out in what way he might catch his enemy unawares, and he did this so carefully that he came extremely close to killing the king. For in the night he burst into the royal tent with such an onrush that he awoke Adelstan from sleep. And when he saw a hand was leveled at him he called his bodyguard to arms, and tried to draw his sword. But as happens in a fearful moment which robs men of their wits, he could not find it, and for a while he was hesitant, since he realized he was destitute of human help. So he called on divine aid, and at that moment he reached again for his scabbard, found it, and assaulted his enemy, did harm, and made him flee. Some say that Constantine King of Scots was present during the commotion but, just as they write this untruthfully, so they wrongly report that Analaph was king of Ireland. Doubtless they were misled because in his flight he had previously betaken himself to Ireland, as shown above. And that sword, since it bore witness to our great God’s kindness, was long preserved in the royal armory.
8. And by these means, having conquered his enemies everywhere, Adelstan gained a very great realm. This was the mature and adult age of the reign, when it most greatly flourished in its vigor and virtues. At that time there lived men great for their learning and holiness, Firthestan Bishop of Winchester, who was succeeded by Birstan, and likewise Wilfem or Wilselm Bishop of Wells and Vulstan Archbishop of York, whom Adelstan uniquely cherished for his mind’s singular vitue and the splendor of his life, and for his sake very much enriched the province of York. But far more men flourished in the martial art, whose names are not preserved because of the carelessness of writers. At this same time died Athelm Archbishop of York, who was succeeded by Wilfem Bishop of Wells. And in the place of Wilfem, who died after ten years, came Odo, the twenty-second in the series of prelates, a very thoughtful man. Finally Adelstan, having gained a great realm, turned all his energy to the nuture of religion and the fostering of peace, since he founded two Benedictine monasteries, one at the town of Melton in the see of Salisbury, the other at Micelney, a village in Somersethire, built in a marshy place so that the monks might not wander about, particularly in wintertime, contrary to the law of their order. For at that time the place is unapproachable except by boat. He richly endowed both places with property. Likewise he amended some old laws that were over-severe, and made many new ones of great utility, which were very advantageous for the commonwealth. And this was the last of his works on this earth. For immediately thereafter he died childless in the sixteenth year of his reign. His brother Edmund succeeded him, the twenty-fifth of his line, who only reigned six years, and the brevity of his life kept him from attaining the highest praises by which posterity might have extolled him to the skies. But whatever expectations he raised, his son Edgar afterwards fulfilled in abundance. They are those who mistakenly report that Edmund conquered the Northumbrians and vanquished the Scots, which things I have above attributed to Adelstan, out of authors I in no wise blush to follow. Edmund made no few laws very useful for the commonwealth, which, together with others, have passed into oblivion. Accounts of this king’s death vary. Some say that when with drawn sword he was coming to the aid of a servant under attack by his enemies, he was killed in the commotion. According to others, he chanced to catch sight of a man notorious for his thievery, and whom for this reason he had already come to hate. He attacked him and stretched him out on the ground, and then he was stabbed with a knife by the fellow, who was heedless of his future peril so that he might avoid his present one. And the thief was torn apart on the spot. By Elgida his wife he fathered Edwin and Edgar, and since these were still boys, they reigned after Eldred. Edmund was followed by his brother Eldred, the twenty-sixth after Cerdic, who was consecrated at Kingston by Odo Archbishop of Canterbury in the year of salvation 955. Made king, he immediately gained the liking of all men. For he was a supporter of innocence, and dead set against every manner of rascal, and in the eyes all of men was ranked as among the best in martial discipline. So, without resort to arms, he kept the Scots in good order, who had previously been received into allegiance by his brother Adelstan.
9. This convenient place requires me to speak of the condition of affairs in Scotland. Malcolm succeeded Constantine, whom I have shown above to have sworn fealty to King Adelstan. Kings Indulph, Duff, Culen, Kenneth III, and Constantine the Bald succeeded Malcolm. This last gained the throne by violence, and so the people divided into factions, which could not easily be extinguished in later days. Constantine was killed by sedition and Grim, a man of the same faction, succeeded him. He was followed by Malcolm II, who overcame and killed him in single combat. Then came Duncan and Maccabaeus, a man of unusual crime and daring, who gained the kingdom by violence. But let the thread of my discourse, which turned aside so briefly, return to its subject. With all places pacified, Eldred, devoting himself to the increase of religion, so he might be particularly acceptable to God and by conferring some benefit might win over Ethelwold, a most holy Benedictine monk, at the behest of his mother Edgina restored the monastery at Abindgon. This had once been founded by King Inas, but then pulled down. And, doing this good work, he died in the ninth year of his reign. It is held to his discredit that for a trifling cause he banished Ulstan Archbishop of York, who, however, was recalled a year later. He was succeeded by Oscitell, Oscitell by Adelwald, and Adelwald by Oswald, the nineteenth archbishop, a most holy man of whom I shall speak more elsewhere. Edwin II, the elder son of Edmund followed Eldred, the twenty-seventh king, and this was the year of salvation 894. This man was consecrated in a traditional divine service at Kingston presided over by Odo, but before I describe his life, albeit a short one, I must first return to Richard Duke of Normandy so I may write of those dukes in their due order.
10. As I have said a little above, Richard was a boy in the tutelage of Rodolph and Barnard, who were reckoned to be the leading men among the Normans. And then King Louis of France lusted to steal the dukedom from the boy under the guise of friendship. For when he heard that William had been murdered, he decided he must find some excuse for bringing this plan to fruition, and so he hastened to Rouen, pretending he wished to avenge his friend’s death although he had something quite different in mind. When he perceived that the Normans did not perceive his scheme, he had high hopes for obtaining his wish without delay, and so he forthwith asked for Richard to be handed over to him, as if his intention was to rear him at the royal court. But when he subsequently made this request threateningly (it is very hard not to let deceit slip in some way), the people developed a slight suspicion about him, and were now beginning to mutter that he not come to help Richard but rather (as was indeed the truth) to add Normandy to his possessions. And because of this there was a great popular tumult and schemes were devised against the king, since the citizens had already armed themselves to protect their liberty if someone should attempt to endanger it. Thinking this danger needed to be countered, he ordered the boy Richard to be produced in public for the sake of temporarily calming the people’s anger, and he showed him to the people, who were nearly beside themselves with rage, saying that this was their duke, and that he desired to care for the boy and retain him with himself than to have him trained in good manners. In this way the king swayed popular opinion. But he was none the slower in judging that in every way possible he should carry out this plan which he had devised, and so he appealed to individual noblemen, addressing them by name, that they permit him to carry of Richard to France. And, since he was especially bent on getting even for the insult the Normans had given him, he bided his time, awaiting the proper moment. In the meantime, so his intent would not become evident, he raised the boy in royal estate. This caused no little concerned for Prince Arnulph of Flanders, who had a little while earlier murdered Richard’s father by treachery and greatly feared someday being held accountable for that crime. So he hastened to Louis to excuse himself, and from him (who conducted all his business by craft) he purchased pardon for his crime for a great sum of gold, or at least pretended to purchase it. After this the king, having no good intentions, regularly spoke ill of Richard, now in private, now in public, partly that by this constant criticism he could spew forth this hatred, partly to make the boy hateful to all men, as if he was depraved by nature. Thus, after he died by some mishap, the people would not miss him. And he began to grow so hot for this that he openly called the boy a bastard and threatened to deprive him of his fortune and honors. And so the matter began to incline towards violence when Richard’s tutor Osmund, hating the king’s importunate savagery with all his heart, did not hesitate to take this boy whom he had instructed well, wrap him in a bundle of reeds, and arrange for him to be secretly conveyed to Laon. Next he related the affair in all its details to Barnard Count of Senlis, who embraced this youth with wonderful affection. He, leagued with Hugh Count of Paris, and with some armed men he gathered, brought Richard to Senlis. Meanwhile Louis, hearing that Richard had been snatched from, commanded Hugh to return the boy. And when Hugh indicated in a letter that the boy was not in his hands, he was summoned to Compiègne by the king. And there, after a lengthy conference, the king promised to give Hugh no few villages in Normandy in exchange for his support. Enticed by these promises, Hugh followed Louis’ party, and both of them joined arms in an attack on Normandy. Barnard of Senlis resisted them by craft rather than force, sending ambassadors to Louis who said in the name of the entire people, that the people of Normandy, their fortunes, and all that they had belonged to the king, and so they asked that the king come to them unarmed, since they were going to oblige him. This thing delighted the king’s mind, being more than he had hoped for, so he hastened to Rouen and there, having matters arranged in according to his wishes (as he imagined) he went to Laon.
11. And this Dacian Barnard, so that in the king’s absence he might keep Normandy loyal to Richard, he wrote a letter to King Harald V of the Dacians, who had recently been deposed by his son Sweno and come to Normandy with a goodly part of his nobility, and who then was lingering in the region of Cotentin, telling him that the time was at hand when the royal garrison could be driven out, and asking him either to give his prompt aid or to lend him his soldiers. For in this way it would come about that Louis would meet him for a parlay. Nor were his hopes dashed. For Harald appeared with his army, and Louis, learning of his sudden arrival, quickly went to meet him, and they met in conference on the bank of the Seine. While there the kings discussed the murder of William and every man held his hand, it chanced to happen that a certain Dacian caught side of Herlowin, and ran him through, for it was for his sake that William died. And so it came to pass that a sharp fight broke out on the spot, in which the French were routed and scattered, with great loss of life. In particular, Louis was captured, and later the Normans restored him to the French, having taken his son Lothar as a hostage. And they declared Richard, now come of age, to be their duke. Nor should I omit this, that certain historians wrongly identify this king of the Dacians who helped the Normans Aigrold or Aigrot, although nobody of this name ever ruled the Dacians (the so-called Danes), as can be gathered from Saxo’s history. And he clearly goes to show that at this time, as I have said, Harald had been dethroned by his son, as even those writers affirm, even though Saxo does not record this war against the French waged by Harald. After this Louis, avid for revenge, did not refrain from making frequent but fruitless attempts against the Normans, with the support of King Otto of Germany. They both marched against Rouen, making much trouble for the city, yet in the end they abandoned the attempt, not without disgrace and loss of life. The year was 955 A. D., particularly notable for Louis’ death, and he was succeeded by his son Lothar. He, at the instigation of Theobald Count of Chartres, began a great quarrel with Duke Richard, both because his father had always been antagonistic towards the duke, and because he had become so powerful that he was rightly regarded as a threat to his neighboring peoples. Therefore he first contrived schemes against the Norman, and when these did not go as he wished, he declared war against him, and they frequently skirmished with varying results. At the last, at the behest of a number of nobles who urged the two of them to enter into friendship, a peace was arranged. And then Richard, very notable both for the glory of his achievements and for his reputation for virtue, greatly strove to deserve well of the Christian religion, and founded a number of churches of excellent workmanship, endowing them with donatives. He had only two sons, as far as I am aware, Richard and Emma (who married Ethelred). He died in the year of human salvation 995, and was succeeded by his son Richard, whom I will mention later in a convenient place. But let me turn to Edwin.
12. Both the short duration of his reign and the turpitude of his life would prevent me from writing anything about this king, unless the order of my history demanded it. For on the very day he was made king he raped the wife of some nobleman, and did so in the manner of a brute beast, so that the rumor of this crime quickly spread throughout England. And so, when Dunstan, who a few days previously had been made Abbot of Glastonbury, chided him with good words and admonished him that henceforth he should withhold his hand from such great wrongdoing, the wicked man was so far from heeding these holy admonitions that, heaping crime on crime, he forthwith exiled this best of fathers. And this was the beginning of his misfortune. For the Northumbrians and Mercians revolted out of abomination of the king’s vices, proclaiming his brother Edgar to be king with every kind of gladsome praise. This thing caused Edwin such chagrin that he died soon thereafter, in the fourth year of his reign. Therefore Edgar acquired the kingdom, a man princely both for his mental virtue and physical strength. Archbishop Odo consecrated him at Bath (or, as some prefer, at Kingston) about the year of salvation 958. From the outset of his reign he held all human pursuits in low esteem in comparison with peace, for he knew that the name of this is sweet and the thing itself wholesome. Then, after peace had been obtained, he prepared a great fleet so that it might not be disturbed by foreigners, and this he divided into three squadrons and stationed it around the sea coasts so he might bar from the island the barbarians who continually haunted it. Likewise he kept the Scots and Welsh in their allegiance. I find in annals of the Welsh, who always obey English rule against their will, that at length they chose a king, and that during the reign of Edgar they had a petty king named Ludowal, and that he paid tribute to the King of England. Then for a number of years they had such princes. But it is scarce agreed at what time the Welsh obtained this benefit from the kings of England, nor, as far as I know, is this recounted by any serious author. Edgar bade Ludowal, this petty king of the Welsh, to pay for a tribute three hundred wolves a year, so that this kind of evil-working animal, so deadly to flocks, which abounded in that part of the island, might be wholly destroyed. And if the supply of wolves grew low, then they were to pay some small sum of money, I know not how much. Thus the king thought bordering peoples who resisted him were to be kept in their allegiance and loyalty, so that by this he would at all times prove himself to have been born for goodness. And for this reason he forthwith recalled Dunstan from exile, and appointed him Bishop of Winchester. And since at the time there was a dearth of good men who could deservedly preside over others, he also gave him the administration of see of London, which he accepted for the sake of serving the advantage of the people, but scarcely of his own. For at that time bishops had more learning, more sanctity, more prudence than other men, but no more wealth.
13. Meanwhile Queen Elfrida died, by whom the king had had a son, Edward, and her death was the reason why he committed a great crime. For at this same time a rumor had gone abroad that Horger Duke of Cornwall had a daughter named Alfreda, most elegant in her beauty, and Edgar decided to marry her. So at the first opportunity he charged his henchman Ethelwold with the task of visiting the girl and asking for her as a bride on his own behalf, but only if the girl’s beauty lived up to its reputation. Ethelwold went to the duke in Cornwall. And when he beheld the girl, he straightway began to burn with mad love, so much so that, heedless of his king’s charge, he earnestly asked that she be given to himself. And this he obtained. After this, he returned to the king and told him that the girl was not the sort a king ought to marry, and soon thereafter, when he perceived that for this reason the king was not minded to wed her, he gradually began to ask the king for his consent that he might marry the girl. And the king, now disdaining her beauty, freely consented. But then the rumor of Alfreda’s beauty grew day by day, since, now being a wife, she was more frequently seen in public. And the king, eager to have a look, purposely went out on the hunt and came to Ethelwold’s manor. And as soon as he set eyes on Alfreda, it is wonderful how quickly he came to adored her, with the result that soon thereafter he encompassed the death of Ethelwold and married Alfreda. This woman kindled love’s torch, whereby the king burned and conceived the desire for committing this kind of crime. For when her husband learned that the king was approaching, it is said that he confessed the whole business to his wife, and begged her that for the sake of their mutual safety she should show herself to this fervid young man in an unkempt condition. But the woman, heedless of conjugal love and of the son, that pledge of affection, she had borne to Ethelwold, and, ever true to herself (for she was fickle, greedy, and proud), made herself as handsome as she could, went to meet the king as he arrived, and of her free will abandoned her chastity. This thing disgraced the king’s reputation in the eyes of all men, and so he was often castigated by Dunstan. And although he was ashamed and repentant, yet he could not help indulging his love. And they say that Alfred herself not only refused to repent her crime, but grew very angry at Dunstan for giving the king sound advice. By Alfreda Edgar fathered Edmund, who lived but a few days, and Ethelred. This latter, while being baptized, is said to have voided his bowels in the sacred font, and Dunstan to have forecast that someday he would bring great harm and disgrace on his nation. Edgar likewise loved Wilfreda, a nun, or, as some prefer to tell it, a woman lodged in a nunnery out of fear lest she be seduced, but who took no vows. And by her he fathered a daughter, Editha, whom they say to have been canonized for her the sanctity of her life. These were the vices of Edgar’s youth, which he afterwards overcame with his virtues both physical and mental. He was also most skilled at arms and in writing, and unbelievably capable of tolerating hardships, and he always kept his own subjects within their allegiance, and from the very beginning he so terrorized the barbarians who had been wont to harry the islands with their frequent raids, that they never dared leave their homeland. Likewise he was very keen at investigating and punishing crimes, which, however, he did with no anger or savagery, since he did not refrain from winking at more trifling crimes, so as to show himself a king more wholesome than ambitious. And, apart from these virtues, he especially cultivated piety, thinking nothing should be increased as much as the Christian religion. He went out of his way to appoint men of great learning, sanctity, integrity and prudence for his privy council, and wished only them to be set over Christian people. Therefore, next to Dunstan, he embraced Erthelwold with wonderful affection, a man of singular wit and learning, who by the king’s intervention was first created Abbot of Abingdon, then Bishop of Winchester. Likewise thanks to his kindness Oswald, a monk of Fleury, was made Bishop of Worcester, then Archbishop of York, and Dunstan replaced him in the see of Worcester. The king placed so much value on the learning and holy life displayed by these three bishops (such as monks by their wonderful art are sometimes able to feign) that, partly at their request, and partly troubled that his chief prelates still kept wives, in despite of that which the fathers had decided a little earlier, he assaulted Pope John XIII with entreaties to concede that, for the good reasons that the monks had discovered by experience, they be permitted by apostolic authority to expel the so-called canonical priests from the colleges of Winchester and Worcester and replace them with their own monks, which he obtained. Likewise, at the behest of Ethelwold and Dunstan, in the second college or monastery at Winchester which Alured had established, as described above, in the village of Shirebury in the diocese of Salisbury, the priests were also ejected and monks introduced, and they called the one the abbey of Hide, the other the abbey of Shirebury. For there was located the chief episcopal seat of the West Saxons, and the one of the first bishops of this diocese was St. Adelm.
14. And at the same time, monks came into other priestly colleges elsewhere. Then, as if a law unto themselves, they began to mass immoderate wealth for themselves, which was the ruin of their posterity. For when monks enjoyed the freedom to devote themselves exclusively to holy things, they used to shun the company of mankind and sought out desert places (whence they obtained their names), then they duly observed the routine of the monastic life. On the other hand, when they abandoned solitude and associated with other men, when they chose to heap up riches, then it is incredible to say how greatly they degenerated from their ancestors. For it behooved them to refuse to be concerned with those human affairs which always preoccupy a large part of mankind. What about the fact that this same plague of riches spread equally through the rest of the clergy, so that a large part has turned from the ancient piety of their forefathers to the exercise of tyranny, since few indeed know to beware of the prophet’s injunction, if you wealth is abundant, refuse to set your heart on it? For the former enhanced the glory of priesthood, partly by the sanctity of their life, partly by the shedding of their own blood, whereas the latter do not sufficient preserve this by living in licentiousness. The former accepted honors with reluctance and bashfulness, and conferred them only on the best of men, but the latter often hunt after them by wicked arts, and as soon as they acquire them they employ them with insolence. And, just as there was much generosity and innocence in the former, so there is sometimes great avarice and unrighteousness in the latter. Finally, the former lived moderately, content with little, but the latter, if I may so speak, are oppressed by their wealth and cannot live as they please as long as they are compelled to show hospitality to others. And this so-called kindness (such it is commonly termed) is so far removed from kindness that for this reason it deserved to be deemed a kind of slavery, and by far the most pestilential kind, since it is for the sake of this that priests often sin. For who is the man whose senses are not tickled when he has had much to drink and stuffed himself with all manner of food? For is this what those priests do, willy-nilly, who are constrained by human laws to maintain houses of hospitality, when they feed others elegant meals. Now I return to my subject.
15. At this same time died Odo Archbishop of Canterbury, in his ninteenth (or, as others have it, the thirteenth) year in office. In this place succeeded Dunstan, the twenty-third in the order of Archbishops of Canterbury. Some say that Odo, together with Oswald Archbishop of York, consecrated Edgar in a great ceremony, a thing that is wrongly attributed to Dunstan by the carelessness of some writers. For, as I have shown, he was in exile at the time Edgar was made king, and it was by him that he was later recalled to his homeland. Edgar, the affairs in his kingdom thus settled, was only concerned with works of piety, and either freshly built, repaired, or lavishly endowed many monasteries. Among these was the Benedictine nunnery which he placed in Wilton, a village next to Salisbury. In that nunnery his own daughter, a virgin nun, after presiding over the chapter for several years (they call such person the Abess), ended her life there. For Salisbury, on the south shore, is set on a flat plain, watered in its interior by many streams, and by a river called the Nadder which, increased by the Wyle and the Avon, flows by the village of Wermistrum, and is borne southward to the ocean. Finally, to instruct his subjects in living well and happily, he instituted very useful laws which the passage of time has pretty well consigned to oblivion, and finally in thirty-seventh year of his life, which was the sixteenth of his reign, he paid his debt tonature. Edward the Second succeeded his good father, a son worthy of his sire, the twenty-ninth in the order of kings. This was the year of human savation 974, when Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury convened a synod for the reformation and improvement of religion. While these things were being done, some young men, zealous for honors for which they could not hope while the commonwealth was at peace, but imagined they chould achieve if it were in a state of upheaval, stirred up commotions which were increased by the anger of those priests who were ejected from their colleges by monks, as I have shown above, and who decided they should act to recover them. For this reason the matter was referred to judges, who in Winchester, at a conclave of monks, deliberated this matter in a crowded conclave, and the majority had already decided that the priests were to be restored to their old honors, when behold, suddenly a voice was heard saying they do not judge well who favor the priests, as if justice was on the side of monks who stole other men’s property, rather than with priests who sought to regain that which was their own. But since an image of Christ hanging from His cross, which was standing in their presence, seemed to have said this, they put such faith in this oracle that the priests lost their case, and the commotion was settled. And thus by divine, or rather human, aid (for men were not lacking who though this was an oracle of Phoebus rather than of Christ, that is, that it was produced by men’s deceit, not the will of God), they retained this privilege, however they obtained it. Against the wishes of his stepmother Alfreda, Edward was acclaimed king, who indeed as a lad of supreme sanctity and frugality began his reign with such modesty that he was very beloved to all, for he assiduously imitated his father’s virtues. And this greatly troubled Alfreda’s mind, for she had anticipated receiving the power herself, and desired her son Etheldred to rule, with Edward dead. Despairing of her ability to achieve this, like a wicked stepmother she decided to encompass the murder ofher stepson. And an accident of this kind gave her the chance to further this enterprise. The king had gone hunting in that woods which is commonly called the New Forest, and when the quarry burst forth on every side, then (as usually happens) every man took his own direction in pursuing beasts and hounds. And it chanced that Edward, separated from his companions, came to Alfreda’s house, which was nearby, either to have a drink or for the sake of visiting his brother Etheldred. This was the place where today stands the castle which they call Corphe. When the savage woman saw him coming, she ordered a servant to kill him unawares. But meanwhile, so the young man would develop no suspicion, she met him as he came, and with gentleness and reverence she offered him a drink. And while he was seated his horse and drank from the cup, her servant stabbed him. The wounded king spurred forward his horse that he might return to his men, but, overwhelmed with pain, he fell off the horse and died on the spot. Afterwards, lest her crime come to light, this impious stepmother gave orders that the body of this most innocent man be carried off and buried. Afterwards is memory began to be held in reverence. For the story goes that not much later, and not without the will of God, it entered the head of a certain blind woman to go this place and pray to the martyr that she be healed by his kindly intervention, and as soon as she had uttered this prayer her sight returned. Subsequently many miracles were performed, so that Edward was not undeservedly numbered among the saints. His body was translated from this humble place to the monastery at Glastonbury, and there given honorable burial. Meanwhile Alfreda repented her misdeeds, and she mortified her boyd with fasting and scourgings, and gave away all her patrimony, either bestowing it on the needy or by building and repairing churches. They say she founded two nunneries, one of Cluniacs at Amesbury, a village in the see of Salisbury, and `another of Benedictines at Wherwell in the diocese of Winchester, and in this she lived out her life. Edward was murdered in the third year of his reign, although some add three months to these six years. The end of the mature years of this kingdom followed upon the death of this excellent prince. For just as he suddenly died in the bloom of his youth, so the vigor of the kingdom so began to fail that afterwards its old age commenced in the reign of Ethelred, and its final infirmity came over it, as I will fitly describe in the next Book.
Go to Book VII