The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Part 6: A.D. 975 - 1012
A.D. 975. Here ended
his earthly dreams
Edgar, of Angles king;
chose him other light,
serene and lovely,
spurning this frail abode,
a life that mortals
here call lean
he quitted with disdain.
July the month,
by all agreed
in this our land,
in chronic lore
the day the eighth,
when Edgar young,
rewarder of heroes,
his life -- his throne -- resigned.
Edward his son,
of earls the prince,
to England's throne.
Of royal race
ten nights before
Cyneward the good --
prelate of manners mild.
Well known to me
in Mercia then,
how low on earth
God's glory fell
on every side:
chaced from the land,
his servants fled, --
their wisdom scorned;
much grief to him
whose bosom glow'd
with fervent love
of great Creation's Lord!
the God of wonders,
victor of victors,
monarch of heaven, --
his laws by man transgressed!
Then too was driv'n
an exile far
from his native land
over the rolling waves, --
over the ganet-bath,
over the water-throng,
the abode of the whale, --
wise and eloquent,
of home bereft!
Then too was seen,
high in the heavens,
the star on his station,
that far and wide
wise men call --
lovers of truth
and heav'nly lore --
"cometa" by name.
Widely was spread
God's vengeance then
throughout the land,
and famine scour'd the hills.
May heaven's guardian,
the glory of angels,
avert these ills,
and give us bliss again;
that bliss to all
from earth's choice fruits,
throughout this happy isle. (45)
[A.D. 975. The eighth before the ides of July.
Here Edgar died,
ruler of Angles,
and Mercians' protector.
Known was it widely
throughout many nations.
"Thaet" offspring of Edmund,
o'er the ganet's-bath,
Kings him widely
bowed to the king,
as was his due by kind.
No fleet was so daring,
nor army so strong,
that 'mid the English nation
took from him aught,
the while that the noble king
ruled on his throne.
And this year Edward, Edgar's son, succeeded to the kingdom; and then soon, in the same year, during harvest, appeared "cometa"
the star; and then came in the following year a very great famine, and very manifold commotions among the English people.
In his days,
for his youth,
God's law broke;
and others many;
and rule monastic quashed,
and minsters dissolved,
and monks drove out,
and God's servants put down,
whom Edgar, king, ordered erewhile
the holy bishop
Ethelwold to stablish;
and widows they plundered,
many times and oft:
and many unrighteousnesses,
and evil unjust-deeds
arose up afterwards:
and ever after that
it greatly grew in evil.
And at that rime, also, was Oslac the great earl banished from England.]
A.D. 976. This year was the great famine in England.
A.D. 977. This year was that great council at Kirtlington, (46) after Easter; and there died Bishop Sideman a sudden death, on
the eleventh day before the calends of May. He was Bishop of Devonshire; and he wished that his resting-place should be at
Crediton, his episcopal residence; but King Edward and Archbishop Dunstan ordered men to carry him to St. Mary's minster that is
at Abingdon. And they did so; and he is moreover honourably buried on the north side in St. Paul's porch.
A.D. 978. This year all the oldest counsellors of England fell
at Calne from an upper floor; but the holy Archbishop Dunstan stood alone upon a beam. Some were dreadfully bruised: and some did
not escape with life. This year was King Edward slain, at eventide, at Corfe-gate, on the fifteenth day before the calends
of April. And he was buried at Wareham without any royal honour. No worse deed than this was ever done by the English nation since
they first sought the land of Britain. Men murdered him but God has magnified him. He was in life an earthly king -- he is now
after death a heavenly saint. Him would not his earthly relatives avenge -- but his heavenly father has avenged him
amply. The earthly homicides would wipe out his memory from the earth -- but the avenger above has spread his memory abroad in
heaven and in earth. Those, Who would not before bow to his living body, now bow on their knees to His dead bones. Now we
may conclude, that the wisdom of men, and their meditations, and their counsels, are as nought against the appointment of God.
In this same year succeeded Ethelred Etheling, his brother, to the government; and he was afterwards very readily, and with great
joy to the counsellors of England, consecrated king at Kingston. In the same year also died Alfwold, who was Bishop of
Dorsetshire, and whose body lieth in the minster at Sherborn.
A.D. 979. In this year was Ethelred consecrated king, on the Sunday fortnight after Easter, at Kingston. And there were at
his consecration two archbishops, and ten diocesan bishops. This same year was seen a bloody welkin oft-times in the likeness of
fire; and that was most apparent at midnight, and so in misty beams was shown; but when it began to dawn, then it glided away.
[A.D. 979. This year was King Edward slain at even-tide, at Corfe-gate, on the fifteenth before the kalends of April, and
then was he buried at Wareham, without any kind of kingly honours.
There has not been 'mid Angles
a worse deed done
than this was,
since they first
Men him murdered,
but God him glorified.
He was in life
an earthly king;
he is now after death
a heavenly saint.
Him would not his earthly
but him hath his heavenly Father
The earthly murderers
would his memory
on earth blot out,
but the lofty Avenger
hath his memory
in the heavens
and on earth wide-spread.
They who would not erewhile
to his living
body bow down,
they now humbly
on knees bend
to his dead bones.
Now we may understand
that men's wisdom
and their devices,
and their councils,
are like nought
'gainst God's resolves.
This year Ethelred succeeded to the kingdom; and he was very quickly after that, with much joy of the English witan,
consecrated king at Kingston.]
A.D. 980. In this year was Ethelgar consecrated bishop, on the sixth day before the nones of May, to the bishopric of
Selsey; and in the same year was Southampton plundered by a pirate-army, and most of the population slain or imprisoned. And the same
year was the Isle of Thanet overrun, and the county of Chester was plundered by the pirate-army of the North. In this year
Alderman Alfere fetched the body of the holy King Edward at Wareham, and carried him with great solemnity to Shaftsbury.
A.D. 981. In this year was St. Petroc's-stow plundered; and in the same year was much harm done everywhere by the sea-coast,
both upon Devonshire and Wales. And in the same year died Elfstan, Bishop of Wiltshire; and his body lieth in the minster
at Abingdon; and Wulfgar then succeeded to the bishopric. The same year died Womare, Abbot of Ghent.
[A.D. 981. This year came first the seven ships, and ravaged Southampton.]
A.D. 982. In this year came up in Dorsetshire three ships of
the pirates, and plundered in Portland. The same year London was burned. In the same year also died two aldermen, Ethelmer in
Hampshire, and Edwin in Sussex. Ethelmer's body lieth in Winchester, at New-minster, and Edwin's in the minster at
Abingdon. The same year died two abbesses in Dorsetshire; Herelufa at Shaftsbury, and Wulfwina at Wareham. The same year
went Otho, emperor of the Romans, into Greece; and there met he
a great army of the Saracens, who came up from the sea, and would have proceeded forthwith to plunder the Christian folk; but the
emperor fought with them. And there was much slaughter made on either side, but the emperor gained the field of battle. He was
there, however, much harassed, ere he returned thence; and as
he went homeward, his brother's son died, who was also called Otho; and he was the son of Leodulf Atheling. This Leodulf was the
son of Otho the Elder and of the daughter of King Edward.
A.D. 983. This year died Alderman Alfere, and Alfric succeeded to the same eldership; and Pope Benedict also died.
A.D. 984. This year died the benevolent Bishop of Winchester, Athelwold, father of monks; and the consecration of the following
bishop, Elfheah, who by another name was called Godwin, was on the fourteenth day before the calends of November; and he took
his seat on the episcopal bench on the mass-day of the two apostles Simon and Jude, at Winchester.
A.D. 985. This year was Alderman Alfric driven out of the land; and in the same year was Edwin consecrated abbot of the minster
A.D. 986. This year the king invaded the bishopric of Rochester; and this year came first the great murrain of cattle in England.
A.D. 987. This year was the port of Watchet plundered.
A.D. 988. This year was Goda, the thane of Devonshire, slain; and a great number with him: and Dunstan, the holy archbishop,
departed this life, and sought a heavenly one. Bishop Ethelgar succeeded him in the archbishopric; but he lived only a little
while after, namely, one year and three months.
A.D. 989. This year died Abbot Edwin, and Abbot Wulfgar succeeded to the abbacy. Siric was this year invested
archbishop, and went afterwards to Rome after his pall.
A.D. 991. This year was Ipswich plundered; and very soon afterwards was Alderman Britnoth (47) slain at Maidon. In this
same year it was resolved that tribute should be given, for the first time, to the Danes, for the great terror they occasioned
by the sea-coast. That was first 10,000 pounds. The first who advised this measure was Archbishop Siric.
A.D. 992. This year the blessed Archbishop Oswald departed this life, and sought a heavenly one; and in the same year died
Alderman Ethelwin. Then the king and all his council resolved, that all the ships that were of any account should be gathered
together at London; and the king committed the lead of the land-force to Alderman Elfric, and Earl Thorod, and Bishop
Elfstan, and Bishop Escwy; that they should try if they could anywhere without entrap the enemy. Then sent Alderman Elfric, and gave
warning to the enemy; and on the night preceding the day of battle he sculked away from the army, to his great disgrace.
The enemy then escaped; except the crew of one ship, who were slain on the spot. Then met the enemy the ships from East-Anglia, and
from London; and there a great slaughter was made, and they took the ship in which was the alderman, all armed and rigged. Then,
after the death of Archbishop Oswald, succeeded Aldulf, Abbot
of Peterborough, to the sees of York and of Worcester; and Kenulf
to the abbacy of Peterborough.
[A.D. 992. This year Oswald the blessed archbishop died, and Abbot Eadulf succeeded to York and to Worcester. And this year
the king and all his witan decreed that all the ships which were worth anything should be gathered together at London, in order
that they might try if they could anywhere betrap the army from without. But Aelfric the ealdorman, one of those in whom the
king had most confidence, directed the army to be warned; and
in the night, as they should on the morrow have joined battle, the selfsame Aelfric fled from the forces; and then the army
A.D. 993. This year came Anlaf with three and ninety ships to Staines, which he plundered without, and went thence to Sandwich.
Thence to Ipswich, which he laid waste; and so to Maidon, where Alderman Britnoth came against him with his force, and fought
with him; and there they slew the alderman, and gained the field of battle; whereupon peace was made with him, and the king
received him afterwards at episcopal hands by the advice of Siric, Bishop of Canterbury, and Elfeah of Winchester. This year
was Bamborough destroyed, and much spoil was there taken. Afterwards came the army to the mouth of the Humber; and there
did much evil both in Lindsey and in Northumbria. Then was collected a great force; but when the armies were to engage, then
the generals first commenced a flight; namely, Frene and Godwin and Frithgist. In this same year the king ordered Elfgar, son
of Alderman Elfric, to be punished with blindness.
[A.D. 993. In this year came Olave with ninety-three ships to Staines, and ravaged there about, and then went thence to
Sandwich, and so thence to Ipswich, and that all overran; and
so to Maldon. And there Britnoth the ealdorman came against them with his forces, and fought against them: and they there slew
the ealdorman, and had possession of the place of carnage. And after that peace was made with them; and him (Anlaf) the king
afterwards received at the bishop's hands, through the instruction of Siric, bishop of the Kentish-men, and of Aelphege
A.D. 994. This year died Archbishop Siric: and Elfric, Bishop
of Wiltshire, was chosen on Easter-day, at Amesbury, by King Ethelred and all his council. This year came Anlaf and Sweyne
to London, on the Nativity of St. Mary, with four and ninety-ships. And they closely besieged the city, and would fain have set it
on fire; but they sustained more harm and evil than they ever supposed that any citizens could inflict on them. The holy
mother of God on that day in her mercy considered the citizens, and ridded them of their enemies. Thence they advanced, and
wrought the greatest evil that ever any army could do, in burning and plundering and manslaughter, not only on the sea-coast in
Essex, but in Kent and in Sussex and in Hampshire. Next they took horse, and rode as wide as they would, and committed
unspeakable evil. Then resolved the king and his council to send to them, and offer them tribute and provision, on condition that
they desisted from plunder. The terms they accepted; and the whole army came to Southampton, and there fixed their winter-
quarters; where they were fed by all the subjects of the West-Saxon kingdom. And they gave them 16,000 pounds in money. Then
sent the king; after King Anlaf Bishop Elfeah and Alderman Ethelwerd; (48) and, hostages being left with the ships, they
led Anlaf with great pomp to the king at Andover. And King Ethelred received him at episcopal hands, and honoured him with royal
presents. In return Anlaf promised, as he also performed, that he never again would come in a hostile manner to England.
A.D. 995. This year appeared the comet-star.
A.D. 996. This year was Elfric consecrated archbishop at Christ church. (49)
A.D. 997. This year went the army about Devonshire into Severn- mouth, and equally plundered the people of Cornwall, North-Wales,
(50) and Devon. Then went they up at Watchet, and there much evil wrought in burning and manslaughter. Afterwards they
coasted back about Penwithstert on the south side, and, turning into the mouth of the Tamer, went up till they came to
Liddyford, burning and slaying everything that they met. Moreover, Ordulf's minster at Tavistock they burned to the ground, and brought to
their ships incalculable plunder. This year Archbishop Elfric went to Rome after his staff.
A.D. 998. This year coasted the army back eastward into the mouth of the Frome, and went up everywhere, as widely as they
would, into Dorsetshire. Often was an army collected against them; but, as soon as they were about to come together, then were
they ever through something or other put to flight, and their enemies always in the end had the victory. Another time they
lay in the Isle of Wight, and fed themselves meanwhile from Hampshire and Sussex.
A.D. 999. This year came the army about again into the Thames, and went up thence along the Medway to Rochester; where the
Kentish army came against them, and encountered them in a close engagement; but, alas! they too soon yielded and fled; because
they had not the aid that they should have had. The Danes therefore occupied the field of battle, and, taking horse, they
rode as wide as they would, spoiling and overrunning nearly all West-Kent. Then the king with his council determined to proceed
against them with sea and land forces; but as soon as the ships were ready, then arose delay from day to day, which harassed the
miserable crew that lay on board; so that, always, the forwarder it should have been, the later it was, from one time to another;
-- they still suffered the army of their enemies to increase;
-- the Danes continually retreated from the sea-coast;-- and they continually pursued them in vain. Thus in the end these
expeditions both by sea and land served no other purpose but to vex the people, to waste their treasure, and to strengthen their
A.D. 1000. This year the king went into Cumberland, and nearly laid waste the whole of it with his army, whilst his navy sailed
about Chester with the design of co-operating with his land-forces; but, finding it impracticable, they ravaged Anglesey.
The hostile fleet was this summer turned towards the kingdom of Richard.
A.D. 1001. This year there was great commotion in England in consequence of an invasion by the Danes, who spread terror and
devastation wheresoever they went, plundering and burning and desolating the country with such rapidity, that they advanced
in one march as far as the town of Alton; where the people of Hampshire came against them, and fought with them. There was
slain Ethelwerd, high-steward of the king, and Leofric of Whitchurch, and Leofwin, high-steward of the king, and
Wulfhere, a bishop's thane, and Godwin of Worthy, son of Bishop Elfsy; and of all the men who were engaged with them eighty-one. Of the
Danes there was slain a much greater number, though they remained in possession of the field of battle. Thence they proceeded
westward, until they came into Devonshire; where Paley came to meet them with the ships which he was able to collect; for he
had shaken off his allegiance to King Ethelred, against all the vows of truth and fidelity which he had given him, as well as the
presents which the king had bestowed on him in houses and gold and silver. And they burned Teignton, and also many other goodly
towns that we cannot name; and then peace was there concluded with them. And they proceeded thence towards Exmouth, so that
they marched at once till they came to Pin-hoo; where Cole, high-steward of the king, and Edsy, reve of the king, came against
them with the army that they could collect. But they were there put to flight, and there were many slain, and the Danes had
possession of the field of battle. And the next morning they burned the village of Pin-hoo, and of Clist, and also many goodly
towns that we cannot name. Then they returned eastward again, till they came to the Isle of Wight. The next morning they
burned the town of Waltham, and many other small towns; soon after which the people treated with them, and they made peace.
[A.D. 1001. This year the army came to Exmouth, and then went up to the town, and there continued fighting stoutly; but they
were very strenuously resisted. Then went they through the land, and did all as was their wont; destroyed and burnt. Then was
collected a vast force of the people of Devon and of the people of Somerset, and they then came together at Pen. And so soon
as they joined battle, then the people gave way: and there they made great slaughter, and then they rode over the land, and their last
incursion was ever worse than the one before: and then they brought much booty with them to their ships. And thence they
went into the Isle of Wight, and there they roved about, even
as they themselves would, and nothing withstood them: nor any fleet by sea durst meet them; nor land force either, went they ever
so far up. Then was it in every wise a heavy time, because they never ceased from their evil doings.]
A.D. 1002. This year the king and his council agreed that tribute should be given to the fleet, and peace made with them,
with the provision that they should desist from their mischief. Then sent the king to the fleet Alderman Leofsy, who at the
king's word and his council made peace with them, on condition that they received food and tribute; which they accepted, and
a tribute was paid of 24,000 pounds. In the meantime Alderman Leofsy slew Eafy, high-steward of the king; and the king banished
him from the land. Then, in the same Lent, came the Lady Elfgive Emma, Richard's daughter, to this land. And in the same summer
died Archbishop Eadulf; and also, in the same year the king gave an order to slay all the Danes that were in England. This was
accordingly done on the mass-day of St. Brice; because it was told the king, that they would beshrew him of his life, and
afterwards all his council, and then have his kingdom without
A.D. 1003. This year was Exeter demolished, through the French churl Hugh, whom the lady had appointed her steward there. And
the army destroyed the town withal, and took there much spoil. In the same year came the army up into Wiltshire. Then was
collected a very great force, from Wiltshire and from Hampshire; which was soon ready on their march against the enemy: and
Alderman Elfric should have led them on; but he brought forth
his old tricks, and as soon as they were so near, that either army looked on the other, then he pretended sickness, and began to
retch, saying he was sick; and so betrayed the people that he should have led: as it is said, "When the leader is sick
the whole army is hindered." When Sweyne saw that they were
not ready, and that they all retreated, then led he his army into Wilton; and they plundered and burned the town. Then went he
to Sarum; and thence back to the sea, where he knew his ships were.
A.D. 1004. This year came Sweyne with his fleet to Norwich, plundering and burning the whole town. Then Ulfkytel agreed with
the council in East-Anglia, that it were better to purchase peace with the enemy, ere they did too much harm on the land; for that
they had come unawares, and he had not had time to gather his force. Then, under the truce that should have been between them,
stole the army up from their ships, and bent their course to Thetford. When Ulfkytel understood that, then sent he an order
to hew the ships in pieces; but they frustrated his design. Then he gathered his forces, as secretly as he could. The enemy came
to Thetford within three weeks after they had plundered Norwich; and, remaining there one night, they spoiled and burned the town;
but, in the morning, as they were proceeding to their ships, came Ulfkytel with his army, and said that they must there come to
close quarters. And, accordingly, the two armies met together; and much slaughter was made on both sides. There were many of
the veterans of the East-Angles slain; but, if the main army had been there, the enemy had never returned to their ships. As they
said themselves, that they never met with worse hand-play in England than Ulfkytel brought them.
A.D. 1005. This year died Archbishop Elfric; and Bishop Elfeah succeeded him in the archbishopric. This year was the great
famine in England so severe that no man ere remembered such.
The fleet this year went from this land to Denmark, and took but a short respite, before they came again.
A.D. 1006. This year Elfeah was consecrated Archbishop; Bishop Britwald succeeded to the see of Wiltshire; Wulfgeat was deprived
of all his property; (51) Wulfeah and Ufgeat were deprived of sight; Alderman Elfelm was slain; and Bishop Kenulf (52) departed
this life. Then, over midsummer, came the Danish fleet to Sandwich, and did as they were wont; they barrowed and burned
and slew as they went. Then the king ordered out all the population from Wessex and from Mercia; and they lay out all the harvest
under arms against the enemy; but it availed nothing more than
it had often done before. For all this the enemy went wheresoever they would; and the expedition did the people more harm than
either any internal or external force could do. When winter approached, then went the army home; and the enemy retired after
Martinmas to their quarters in the Isle of Wight, and provided themselves everywhere there with what they wanted. Then, about
midwinter, they went to their ready farm, throughout Hampshire into Berkshire, to Reading. And they did according to their
custom, -- they lighted their camp-beacons as they advanced. Thence they marched to Wallingford, which they entirely
destroyed, and passed one night at Cholsey. They then turned along Ashdown to Cuckamsley-hill, and there awaited better cheer;
for it was often said, that if they sought Cuckamsley, they would never get to the sea. But they went another way homeward. Then
was their army collected at Kennet; and they came to battle there, and soon put the English force to flight; and afterwards
carried their spoil to the sea. There might the people of Winchester see the rank and iniquitous foe, as they passed by
their gates to the sea, fetching their meat and plunder over an extent of fifty miles from sea. Then was the king gone over the
Thames into Shropshire; and there he fixed his abode during midwinter. Meanwhile, so great was the fear of the enemy, that
no man could think or devise how to drive them from the land,
or hold this territory against them; for they had terribly marked each shire in Wessex with fire and devastation. Then the king
began to consult seriously with his council, what they all thought most advisable for defending this land, ere it was
utterly undone. Then advised the king and his council for the advantage of all the nation, though they were all loth to do it,
that they needs must bribe the enemy with a tribute. The king then sent to the army, and ordered it to be made known to them,
that his desire was, that there should be peace between them,
and that tribute and provision should be given them. And they accepted the terms; and they were provisioned throughout England.
[A.D. 1006. This year Elphege was consecrated archbishop [of Canterbury].]
A.D. 1007. In this year was the tribute paid to the hostile army; that was, 30,000 pounds. In this year also was Edric
appointed alderman over all the kingdom of the Mercians. This year went Bishop Elfeah to Rome after his pall.
A.D. 1008. This year bade the king that men should speedily build ships over all England; that is, a man possessed of three
hundred and ten hides to provide on galley or skiff; and a man possessed of eight hides only, to find a helmet and breastplate
A.D. 1009. This year were the ships ready, that we before spoke about; and there were so many of them as never were in England
before, in any king's days, as books tell us. And they were all transported together to Sandwich; that they should lie there,
and defend this land against any out-force. But we have not yet had the prosperity and the honour, that the naval armament should
be useful to this land, any more than it often before was. It was at this same time, or a little earlier, that Brihtric, brother
of Alderman Edric, bewrayed Wulnoth, the South-Saxon knight, father of Earl Godwin, to the king; and he went into exile, and enticed
the navy, till he had with him twenty ships; with which he plundered everywhere by the south coast, and wrought every kind
of mischief. When it was told the navy that they might easily seize him, if they would look about them, then took Brihtric with
him eighty ships; and thought that he should acquire for himself much reputation, by getting Wulnoth into his hands alive or dead.
But, whilst they were proceeding thitherward, there came such
a wind against them, as no man remembered before; which beat and tossed the ships, and drove them aground; whereupon Wulnoth soon
came, and burned them. When this was known to the remaining ships, where the king was, how the others fared, it was then as
if all were lost. The king went home, with the aldermen and the nobility; and thus lightly did they forsake the ships; whilst
the men that were in them rowed them back to London. Thus lightly did they suffer the labour of all the people to be in vain; nor
was the terror lessened, as all England hoped. When this naval expedition was thus ended, then came, soon after Lammas, the
formidable army of the enemy, called Thurkill's army, to Sandwich; and soon they bent their march to Canterbury; which
city they would quickly have stormed, had they not rather desired peace; and all the men of East-Kent made peace with the army,
and gave them 3,000 pounds for security. The army soon after that went about till they came to the Isle of Wight; and everywhere
in Sussex, and in Hampshire, and also in Berkshire, they plundered and burned, as THEIR CUSTOM IS. (54) Then ordered the king to
summon out all the population, that men might hold firm against them on every side; but nevertheless they marched as they
pleased. On one occasion the king had begun his march before them, as they proceeded to their ships, and all the people were
ready to fall upon them; but the plan was then frustrated through Alderman Edric, AS IT EVER IS STILL. Then after Martinmas they
went back again to Kent, and chose their winter-quarters on the Thames; obtaining their provisions from Essex, and from the
shires that were next, on both sides of the Thames. And oft they fought against the city of London; but glory be to God, that it
yet standeth firm: and they ever there met with ill fare. Then after midwinter took they an excursion up through Chiltern, (55)
and so to Oxford; which city they burned, and plundered on both sides of the Thames to their ships. Being fore-warned that there
was an army gathered against them at London, they went over at Staines; and thus were they in motion all the winter, and in
spring, appeared again in Kent, and repaired their ships.
A.D. 1010. This year came the aforesaid army, after Easter, into East Anglia; and went up at Ipswich, marching continually till
they came where they understood Ulfcytel was with his army. This was on the day called the first of the Ascension of our Lord.
The East-Angles soon fled. Cambridgeshire stood firm against them. There was slain Athelstan, the king's relative, and Oswy,
and his son, and Wulfric, son of Leofwin, and Edwy, brother of Efy, and many other good thanes, and a multitude of the people.
Thurkytel Myrehead first began the flight; and the Danes remained masters of the field of slaughter. There were they horsed; and
afterwards took possession of East-Anglia, where they plundered and burned three months; and then proceeded further into the wild
fens, slaying both men and cattle, and burning throughout the fens. Thetford also they burned, and Cambridge; and afterwards
went back southward into the Thames; and the horsemen rode towards the ships. Then went they west-ward into Oxfordshire,
and thence to Buckinghamshire, and so along the Ouse till they came to Bedford, and so forth to Temsford, always burning as they
went. Then returned they to their ships with their spoil, which they apportioned to the ships. When the king's army should have
gone out to meet them as they went up, then went they home; and when they were in the east, then was the army detained in the
west; and when they were in the south, then was the army in the north. Then all the privy council were summoned before the king,
to consult how they might defend this country. But, whatever
was advised, it stood not a month; and at length there was not a chief that would collect an army, but each fled as he could: no
shire, moreover, would stand by another. Before the feast-day
of St. Andrew came the enemy to Northampton, and soon burned the town, and took as much spoil thereabout as they would; and then
returned over the Thames into Wessex, and so by Cannings-marsh, burning all the way. When they had gone as far as they would,
then came they by midwinter to their ships.
A.D. 1011. This year sent the king and his council to the army, and desired peace; promising them both tribute and provisions,
on condition that they ceased from plunder. They had now overrun East-Anglia , and Essex , and Middlesex , and
Oxfordshire , and Cambridgeshire , and Hertfordshire , and Buckinghamshire , and Bedfordshire , and half of
Huntingdonshire , and much of Northamptonshire ; and, to the south of the Thames, all Kent, and Sussex, and Hastings, and
Surrey, and Berkshire, and Hampshire, and much of Wiltshire.
All these disasters befel us through bad counsels; that they would not offer tribute in time, or fight with them; but, when they
had done most mischief, then entered they into peace and amity with them. And not the less for all this peace, and amity, and
tribute, they went everywhere in troops; plundering, and spoiling, and slaying our miserable people. In this year,
between the Nativity of St. Mary and Michaelmas, they beset Canterbury, and entered therein through treachery; for Elfmar
delivered the city to them, whose life Archbishop Elfeah formerly saved. And there they seized Archbishop
Elfeah, and Elfward the
king's steward, and Abbess Leofruna, (56) and Bishop Godwin; and Abbot Elfmar they suffered to go away. And they took therein
all the men, and husbands, and wives; and it was impossible for any man to say how many they were; and in the city they continued
afterwards as long as they would. And, when they had surveyed all the city, they then returned to their ships, and led the
archbishop with them.
Then was a captive
he who before was
of England head
and Christendom; --
there might be seen
where oft before
great bliss was seen,
in the fated city,
whence first to us
and bliss 'fore God
and 'fore the world.
And the archbishop they kept with them until the time when they martyred him.
A.D. 1012. This year came Alderman Edric, and all the oldest counsellors of England, clerk and laity, to London before Easter,
which was then on the ides of April; and there they abode, over Easter, until all the tribute was paid, which was 48,000 pounds.
Then on the Saturday was the army much stirred against the bishop; because he would not promise them any fee, and forbade
that any man should give anything for him. They were also much drunken; for there was wine brought them from the south. Then
took they the bishop, and led him to their hustings, on the eve of the Sunday after Easter, which was the thirteenth before the
calends of May; and there they then shamefully killed him. They overwhelmed him with bones and horns of oxen; and one of them
smote him with an axe-iron on the head; so that he sunk downwards with the blow; and his holy blood fell on the earth, whilst his
sacred soul was sent to the realm of God. The corpse in the morning was carried to London; and the bishops, Ednoth and
Elfhun, and the citizens, received him with all honour, and buried him in St. Paul's
minster; where God now showeth this holy
martyr's miracles. When the tribute was paid, and the peace- oaths were sworn, then dispersed the army as widely as it was
before collected. Then submitted to the king five and forty of the ships of the enemy; and promised him, that they would defend
this land, and he should feed and clothe them.
(44) This poetical effusion on the coronation, or rather consecration, of King Edgar, as well
as the following on his death, appears to be imitated in Latin verse by Ethelwerd at the end
of his curious chronicle. This seems at least to prove that they were both written very near
the time, as also the eulogy on his reign, inserted 959.
(45) The following passage from Cotton Tiberius B iv., relating to the accession of Edward the
Martyr, should be added here
-- In his days,
On account of his youth,
The opponents of God
Broke through God's laws;
And others many;
And marr'd monastic rules;
Minsters they razed,
And monks drove away,
And put God's laws to flight --
Laws that King Edgar
Commanded the holy
Saint Ethelwold bishop
Firmly to settle --
Widows they stript
Oft and at random.
Many breaches of right
And many bad laws
Have arisen since;
Prove only worse.
Then too was Oslac
The mighty earl
Hunted from England's shores.
(46) Florence of Worcester mentions three synods this year; Kyrtlinege, Calne, and Ambresbyrig.
(47) Vid. "Hist. Eliens." ii. 6. He was a great benefactor to the church of Ely.
(48) This was probably the veteran historian of that name, who was killed in the severe
encounter with the Danes at Alton (Aethelingadene) in the year 1001.
(49) i.e. at Canterbury. He was chosen or nominated before, by King Ethelred and his council,
at Amesbury: vid. an. 994. This notice of his consecration, which is confirmed by Florence of
Worcester, is now first admitted into the text on the authority of three MSS.
(50) Not the present district so-called, but all that north of the Sea of Severn, as opposed
to West-Wales, another name for Cornwall.
(51) See a more full and circumstantial account of these events, with some variation of names,
in Florence of Worcester.
(52) The successor of Elfeah, or Alphege, in the see of Winchester, on the translation of the
latter to the archiepiscopal see of Canterbury.
(53) This passage, though very important, is rather confused, from the Variations in the MSS.;
so that it is difficult to ascertain the exact proportion of ships and armour which each person
was to furnish. "Vid. Flor." an. 1008.
(54) These expressions in the present tense afford a strong proof that the original records of
these transactions are nearly coeval with the transactions themselves. Later MSS. use the
(55) i.e. the Chiltern Hills; from which the south-eastern part of Oxfordshire is called the
(56) "Leofruna abbatissa". -- Flor. The insertion of this quotation from Florence
of Worcester is important, as it confirms the reading adopted in the text. The abbreviation
"abbt", instead of "abb", seems to mark the abbess. She was the last
abbess of St. Mildred's in the Isle of Thanet; not Canterbury, as Harpsfield and Lambard say.