The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Part 7: 1015 - 1043
A.D. 1015. This year was the great council at Oxford;
where Alderman Edric betrayed Sigferth and Morcar, the eldest thanes belonging
to the Seven Towns. He allured them into his bower, where they were shamefully
slain. Then the king took all their possessions, and ordered the widow of
Sigferth to be secured, and brought within Malmsbury. After a little interval,
Edmund Etheling went and seized her, against the king's will, and had her to
wife. Then, before the Nativity of St. Mary, went the etheling west-north into
the Five Towns, (58) and soon plundered all the property of Sigferth and Morcar;
and all the people submitted to him. At the same time came King Knute to
Sandwich, and went soon all about Kent into Wessex, until he came to the mouth
of the Frome; and then plundered in Dorset, and in Wiltshire, and in Somerset.
King Ethelred, meanwhile, lay sick at Corsham; and Alderman Edric collected an
army there, and Edmund the etheling in the north. When they came together, the
alderman designed to betray Edmund the etheling, but he could not; whereupon
they separated without an engagement, and sheered off from their enemies.
Alderman Edric then seduced forty ships from the king, and submitted to Knute.
The West-Saxons also submitted, and gave hostages, and horsed the army. And he
continued there until midwinter.
A.D. 1016. This year came King Knute with a marine force of one hundred and
sixty ships, and Alderman Edric with him, over the Thames into Mercia at
Cricklade; whence they proceeded to Warwickshire, during the middle of the
winter, and plundered therein, and burned, and slew all they met. Then began
Edmund the etheling to gather an army, which, when it was collected, could avail
him nothing, unless the king were there and they had the assistance of the
citizens of London. The expedition therefore was frustrated, and each man betook
himself home. After this. an army was again ordered, under full penalties, that
every person, however distant, should go forth; and they sent to the king in
London, and besought him to come to meet the army with the aid that he could
collect. When they were all assembled, it succeeded nothing better than it often
did before; and, when it was told the king, that those persons would betray him
who ought to assist him, then forsook he the army, and returned again to London.
Then rode Edmund the etheling to Earl Utred in Northumbria; and every man
supposed that they would collect an army King Knute; but they went into
Stafforddhire, and to Shrewsbury, and to Chester; and they plundered on their
parts, and Knute on his. He went out through Buckinghamshire to Bedfordshire;
thence to Huntingdonshire, and so into Northamptonshire along the fens to
Stamford. Thence into Lincolnshire. Thence to Nottinghamshire; and so into
Northumbria toward York. When Utred understood this, he ceased from plundering,
and hastened northward, and submitted for need, and all the Northumbrians with
him; but, though he gave hostages, he was nevertheless slain by the advice of
Alderman Edric, and Thurkytel, the son of Nafan, with him. After this, King
Knute appointed Eric earl over Northumbria, as Utred was; and then went
southward another way, all by west, till the whole army came, before Easter, to
the ships. Meantime Edmund Etheling went to London to his father: and after
Easter went King Knute with all his ships toward London; but it happened that
King Ethelred died ere the ships came. He ended his days on St. George's day;
having held his kingdom in much tribulation and difficulty as long as his life
continued. After his decease, all the peers that were in London, and the
citizens, chose Edmund king; who bravely defended his kingdom while his time
was. Then came the ships to Greenwich, about the gang-days, and within a short
interval went to London; where they sunk a deep ditch on the south side, and
dragged their ships to the west side of the bridge. Afterwards they trenched the
city without, so that no man could go in or out, and often fought against it:
but the citizens bravely withstood them. King Edmund had ere this gone out, and
invaded the West-Saxons, who all submitted to him; and soon afterward he fought
with the enemy at Pen near Gillingham. A second battle he fought, after
midsummer, at Sherston; where much slaughter was made on either side, and the
leaders themselves came together in the fight. Alderman Edric and Aylmer the
darling were assisting the army against King Edmund. Then collected he his force
the third time, and went to London, all by north of the Thames, and so out
through Clayhanger, and relieved the citizens, driving the enemy to their ships.
It was within two nights after that the king went over at Brentford; where he
fought with the enemy, and put them to flight: but there many of the English
were drowned, from their own carelessness; who went before the main army with a
design to plunder. After this the king went into Wessex, and collected his army;
but the enemy soon returned to London, and beset the city without, and fought
strongly against it both by water and land. But the almighty God delivered them.
The enemy went afterward from London with their ships into the Orwell; where
they went up and proceeded into Mercia, slaying and burning whatsoever they
overtook, as their custom is; and, having provided themselves with meat, they
drove their ships and their herds into the Medway. Then assembled King Edmund
the fourth time all the English nation, and forded over the Thames at Brentford;
whence he proceeded into Kent. The enemy fled before him with their horses into
the Isle of Shepey; and the king slew as many of them as he could overtake.
Alderman Edric then went to meet the king at Aylesford; than which no measure
could be more ill-advised. The enemy, meanwhile, returned into Essex, and
advanced into Mercia, destroying all that he overtook. When the king understood
that the army was up, then collected he the fifth time all the English nation,
and went behind them, and overtook them in Essex, on the down called Assingdon;
where they fiercely came together. Then did Alderman Edric as he often did
before -- he first began the flight with the Maisevethians, and so betrayed his
natural lord and all the people of England. There had Knute the victory, though
all England fought against him! There was then slain Bishop Ednoth, and Abbot
Wulsy, and Alderman Elfric, and Alderman Godwin of Lindsey, and Ulfkytel of
East-Anglia, and Ethelward, the son of Alderman Ethelsy (59). And all the
nobility of the English nation was there undone! After this fight went King
Knute up with his army into Glocestershire, where he heard say that King Edmund
was. Then advised Alderman Edric, and the counsellors that were there assembled,
that the kings should make peace with each other, and produce hostages. Then
both the kings met together at Olney, south of Deerhurst, and became allies and
sworn brothers. There they confirmed their friendship both with pledges and with
oaths, and settled the pay of the army. With this covenant they parted: King
Edmund took to Wessex, and Knute to Mercia and the northern district. The army
then went to their ships with the things they had taken; and the people of
London made peace with them, and purchased their security, whereupon they
brought their ships to London, and provided themselves winter-quarters therein.
On the feast of St. Andrew died King Edmund; and he is buried with his
grandfather Edgar at Gastonbury. In the same year died Wulfgar, Abbot of
Abingdon; and Ethelsy took to the abbacy.
A.D. 1017. This year King Knute took to the whole government of England, and
divided it into four parts: Wessex for himself, East-Anglia for Thurkyll, Mercia
for Edric, Northumbria for Eric. This year also was Alderman Edric slain at
London, and Norman, son of Alderman Leofwin, and Ethelward, son of Ethelmar the
Great, and Britric, son of Elfege of Devonshire. King Knute also banished Edwy
etheling, whom he afterwards ordered to be slain, and Edwy, king of the churls;
and before the calends of August the king gave an order to fetch him the widow
of the other king, Ethelred, the daughter of Richard, to wife.
[A.D. 1017. This year Canute was chosen king.]
A.D. 1018. This year was the payment of the tribute over all England; that was,
altogether, two and seventy thousand pounds, besides that which the citizens of
London paid; and that was ten thousand five hundred pounds. The army then went
partly to Denmark; and forty ships were left with King Knute. The Danes and
Angles were united at Oxford under Edgar's law; and this year died Abbot Ethelsy
at Abingdon, to whom Ethelwine succeeded.
A.D. 1019. This year went King Knute with nine ships to Denmark, where he abode
all the winter; and Archbishop Elfstan died this year, who was also named Lifing.
He was a very upright man both before God and before the world.
[A.D. 1019. And this winter died Archbishop Elfstan [of Canterbury]: he was
named Living; and he was a very provident man, both as to God and as to the
A.D. 1020. This year came King Knute back to England; and there was at Easter a
great council at Cirencester, where Alderman Ethelward was outlawed, and Edwy,
king of the churls. This year went the king to Assingdon; with Earl Thurkyll,
and Archbishop Wulfstan, and other bishops, and also abbots, and many monks with
them; and he ordered to be built there a minster of stone and lime, for the
souls of the men who were there slain, and gave it to his own priest, whose name
was Stigand; and they consecrated the minster at Assingdon. And Ethelnoth the
monk, who had been dean at Christ's church, was the same year on the ides of
November consecrated Bishop of Christ's church by Archbishop Wulfstan.
[A.D. 1020. And caused to be built there [Canterbury] a minster of stone and
lime, for the souls of the men who there were slain, and gave it to one of his
priests, whose name was Stigand.]
A.D. 1021. This year King Knute, at Martinmas, outlawed Earl Thurkyll; and
Bishop Elfgar, the abundant giver of alms, died in the morning of Christmas day.
A.D. 1022. This year went King Knute out with his ships to the Isle of Wight.
And Bishop Ethelnoth went to Rome; where he was received with much honour by
Benedict the magnificent pope, who with his own hand placed the pall upon him,
and with great pomp consecrated him archbishop, and blessed him, on the nones of
October. The archbishop on the self-same day with the same pall performed mass,
as the pope directed him, after which he was magnificently entertained by the
pope himself; and afterwards with a full blessing proceeded homewards. Abbot
Leofwine, who had been unjustly expelled from Ely, was his companion; and he
cleared himself of everything, which, as the pope informed him, had been laid to
his charge, on the testimony of the archbishop and of all the company that were
[A.D. 1022. And afterwards with the pall he there [at Rome] performed mass as
the pope instructed him: and he feasted after that with the pope; and afterwards
went home with a full blessing.]
A.D. 1023. This year returned King Knute to England; and Thurkyll and he were
reconciled. He committed Denmark and his son to the care of Thurkyll, whilst he
took Thurkyll's son with him to England. This year died Archbishop Wulfstan; and
Elfric succeeded him; and Archbishop Egelnoth blessed him in Canterbury. This
year King Knute in London, in St. Paul's minster, gave full leave (60) to
Archbishop Ethelnoth, Bishop Britwine, and all God's servants that were with
them, that they might take up from the grave the archbishop, Saint Elphege. And
they did so, on the sixth day before the ides of June; and the illustrious king,
and the archbishop, and the diocesan bishops, and the earls, and very many
others, both clergy and laity, carried by ship his holy corpse over the Thames
to Southwark. And there they committed the holy martyr to the archbishop and his
companions; and they with worthy pomp and sprightly joy carried him to
Rochester. There on the third day came the Lady Emma with her royal son
Hardacnute; and they all with much majesty, and bliss, and songs of praise,
carried the holy archbishop into Canterbury, and so brought him gloriously into
the church, on the third day before the ides of June. Afterwards, on the eighth
day, the seventeenth before the calends of July, Archbishop Ethelnoth, and
Bishop Elfsy, and Bishop Britwine, and all they that were with them, lodged the
holy corpse of Saint Elphege on the north side of the altar of Christ; to the
praise of God, and to the glory of the holy archbishop, and to the everlasting
salvation of all those who there his holy body daily seek with earnest heart and
all humility. May God Almighty have mercy on all Christian men through the holy
intercession of Elphege!
[A.D. 1023. And he caused St. Elphege's remains to be borne from London to
A.D. 1025. This year went King Knute to Denmark with a fleet to the holm by the
holy river; where against him came Ulf and Eglaf, with a very large force both
by land and sea, from Sweden. There were very many men lost on the side of King
Knute, both of Danish and English; and the Swedes had possession of the field of
A.D. 1026. This year went Bishop Elfric to Rome, and received the pall of Pope
John on the second day before the ides of November.
A.D. 1028. This year went King Knute from England to Norway with fifty ships
manned with English thanes, and drove King Olave from the land, which he
entirely secured to himself.
A.D. 1029. This year King Knute returned home to England.
A.D. 1030. This year returned King Olave into Norway;
but the people gathered together against him, and fought against him; and he was
there slain, in Norway, by his own people, and was afterwards canonised. Before
this, in the same year, died Hacon the doughty earl, at sea.
[A.D. 1030. This year came King Olave again into Norway, and the people gathered
against him, and fought against him; and he was there slain.]
A.D. 1031. This year returned King Knute; and as soon as he came to England he
gave to Christ's church in Canterbury the haven of Sandwich, and all the rights
that arise therefrom, on either side of the haven; so that when the tide is
highest and fullest, and there be a ship floating as near the land as possible,
and there be a man standing upon the ship with a taper-axe in his hand,
whithersoever the large taper-axe might be thrown out of the ship, throughout
all that land the ministers of Christ's church should enjoy their rights. This
year went King Knute to Rome; and the same year, as soon as he returned home, he
went to Scotland; and Malcolm, king of the Scots, submitted to him, and became
his man, with two other kings, Macbeth and Jehmar; but he held his allegiance a
little while only. Robert, Earl of Normandy, went this year to Jerusalem, where
he died; and William, who was afterwards King of England, succeeded to the
earldom, though he was a child.
A.D. 1032. This year appeared that wild fire, such as no man ever remembered
before, which did great damage in many places. The same year died Elfsy, Bishop
of Winchester; and Elfwin, the king's priest, succeeded him.
A.D. 1033. This year died Bishop Merewhite in Somersetshire, who is buried at
Glastonbury; and Bishop Leofsy, whose body resteth at Worcester, and to whose
see Brihteh was promoted.
A.D. 1034. This year died Bishop Etheric, who lies at Ramsey.
A.D. 1035. This year died King Knute at Shaftesbury, on
the second day before the ides of November; and he is buried at Winchester in
the old minster. He was king over all England very near twenty winters. Soon
after his decease, there was a council of all the nobles at Oxford; wherein Earl
Leofric, and almost all the thanes north of the Thames, and the naval men in
London, chose Harold to be governor of all England, for himself and his brother
Hardacnute, who was in Denmark. Earl Godwin, and all the eldest men in Wessex,
withstood it as long as they could; but they could do nothing against it. It was
then resolved that Elfgiva, the mother of Hardacnute, should remain at
Winchester with the household of the king her son. They held all Wessex in hand,
and Earl Godwin was their chief man. Some men said of Harold, that he was the
son of King Knute and of Elfgive the daughter of Alderman Elfelm; but it was
thought very incredible by many men. He was, nevertheless, full king over all
England. Harold himself said that he was the son of Knute and of Elfgive the
Hampshire lady; though it was not true; but he sent and ordered to be taken from
her all the best treasure that she could not hold, which King Knute possessed;
and she nevertheless abode there continually within the city as long as she
A.D. 1036. This year came hither Alfred the innocent etheling, son of King
Ethelred, and wished to visit his mother, who abode at Winchester: but Earl
Godwin, and other men who had much power in this land, did not suffer it;
because such conduct was very agreeable to Harold, though it was unjust.
Him did Godwin let,
and in prison set.
His friends, who did not fly,
they slew promiscuously.
And those they did not sell,
like slaughter'd cattle fell!
Whilst some they spared to bind,
only to wander blind!
Some ham-strung, helpless stood,
whilst others they pursued.
A deed more dreary none
in this our land was done,
since Englishmen gave place
to hordes of Danish race.
But repose we must
in God our trust,
that blithe as day
with Christ live they,
who guiltless died --
their country's pride!
The prince with courage met
each cruel evil yet;
till 'twas decreed,
they should him lead,
all bound, as he was then,
to Ely-bury fen.
But soon their royal prize
bereft they of his eyes!
Then to the monks they brought
their captive; where he sought
a refuge from his foes
till life's sad evening close.
His body ordered then
these good and holy men,
according to his worth,
low in the sacred earth,
to the steeple full-nigh,
in the south aile to lie
of the transept west --
his soul with Christ doth rest.
[A.D. 1036. This year died King Canute at Shaftesbury, and he is buried at Winchester in the
Old-minster: and he was king over
all England very nigh twenty years. And soon after his decease there was a meeting of all the witan at Oxford; and
Leofric, the earl, and almost all the thanes north of the Thames, and the "lithsmen" at London, chose Harold for chief of all England, him
and his brother Hardecanute who was in Denmark. And Godwin the earl and all the chief men of Wessex withstood it as long as they
could; but they were unable to effect anything in opposition to it. And then it was decreed that
Elfgive, Hardecanute's mother,
should dwell at Winchester with the king's, her son's, household, and hold all Wessex in his power; and Godwin the earl was
their man. Some men said of Harold that he was son of King Canute and of Elfgive, daughter of Elfelm the
ealdorman, but it
seemed quite incredible to many men; and he was nevertheless full king over all England.]
A.D. 1037. This year men chose Harold king over all; and forsook Hardacnute, because he was too long in Denmark; and then drove
out his mother Elgiva, the relict of King Knute, without any pity, against the raging winter! She, who was the mother of
Edward as well as of King Hardacnute, sought then the peace of Baldwin by the south sea. Then came she to Bruges, beyond sea;
and Earl Baldwin well received her there; and he gave her a habitation at Bruges, and protected her, and entertained her
there as long as she had need. Ere this in the same year died Eafy, the excellent Dean of
[A.D. 1037. This year was driven out Elfgive, King Canute's relict; she was King Hardecanute's mother; and she then sought
the protection of Baldwin south of the sea, and he gave her a dwelling in Bruges, and protected and kept her, the while that
she there was.]
A.D. 1038. This year died Ethelnoth, the good archbishop, on the calends of November; and, within a little of this time, Bishop
Ethelric in Sussex, who prayed to God that he would not let him live any time after his dear father
Ethelnoth; and within seven
nights of this he also departed. Then, before Christmas, died Bishop Brihteh in Worcestershire; and soon after this, Bishop
Elfric in East Anglia. Then succeeded Bishop Edsy to the archbishopric, Grimkytel to the see of Sussex, and Bishop Lifing
to that of Worcester shire and Gloucestershire.
[A.D. 1038. This year died Ethelnoth, the good archbishop, on the kalends of November, and a little after,
Ethelric, bishop in
Sussex, and then before Christmas, Briteagus, Bishop in Worcestershire, and soon after,
Elfric, bishop in East-Anglia.]
A.D. 1039. This year happened the terrible wind; and Bishop Britmar died at
Lichfield. The Welsh slew Edwin. brother of Earl Leofric, and Thurkil, and
Elfget, and many good men with them. This year also came Hardacnute to Bruges, where his mother was.
[A.D. 1039. This year King Harold died at Oxford, on the sixteenth before the kalends of April, and he was buried at
Westminster. And he ruled England four years and sixteen weeks; and in his days sixteen ships were retained in pay, at the rate
of eight marks for each rower, in like manner as had been before done in the days of King
Canute. And in this same year came King
Hardecanute to Sandwich, seven days before midsummer. And he was soon acknowledged as well by English as by Danes; though his
advisers afterwards grievously requited it, when they decreed that seventy-two ships should be retained in pay, at the rate of
eight marks for each rower. And in this same year the sester of wheat went up to fifty-five pence, and even further.]
A.D. 1040. This year died King Harold at Oxford, on the sixteenth before the calends of April; and he was buried at
Westminster. He governed England four years and sixteen weeks; and in his days tribute was paid to sixteen ships, at the rate of
eight marks for each steersman, as was done before in King Knute's days. The same year they sent after Hardacnute to
Bruges, supposing they did well; and he came hither to Sandwich with sixty ships, seven nights before midsummer. He was soon
received both by the Angles and Danes, though his advisers afterwards severely paid for it. They ordered a tribute for
sixty-two ships, at the rate of eight marks for each steersman. Then were alienated from him all that before desired him; for he
framed nothing royal during his whole reign. He ordered the dead Harold to be dragged up and thrown into a ditch. This year rose
the sester of wheat to fifty-five pence, and even further. This year Archbishop Edsy went to Rome.
[A.D. 1040. This year was the tribute paid; that twenty-one thousand pounds and ninety-nine pounds. And after that they paid
to thirty-two ships, eleven thousand and forty-eight pounds. And, in this same year, came Edward, son of King
to land, from Weal-land; he was brother of King Hardecanute: they were both sons of
Elfgive; Emma, who was daughter of Earl
A.D. 1041. This year was the tribute paid to the army; that was, 21,099 pounds; and afterwards to thirty-two ships, 11,048 pounds.
This year also ordered Hardacnute to lay waste all Worcestershire, on account of the two servants of his household,
who exacted the heavy tribute. That people slew them in the town within the
minster. Early in this same year came Edward, the son
of King Ethelred, hither to land, from Weal-land to Madron. He was the brother of King
Hardacnute, and had been driven from this
land for many years: but he was nevertheless sworn as king, and abode in his brother's court while he lived. They were both sons
of Elfgive Emma, who was the daughter oœ Earl Richard. In this year also Hardacnute betrayed
Eadulf, under the mask of
friendship. He was also allied to him by marriage. This year was Egelric consecrated Bishop of York, on the third day before
the ides of January.
[A.D. 1041. This year died King Hardecanute at Lambeth, on the sixth before the ides of June: and he was king over all England
two years wanting ten days; and he is buried in the Old-minster at Winchester with King Canute his father. And his mother, for
his soul, gave to the New-minster the head of St. Valentine the martyr. And before he was buried, all people chose Edward for
king at London: may he hold it the while that God shall grant it to him! And all that year was a very heavy time, in many things
and divers, as well in respect to ill seasons as to the fruits of the earth. And so much cattle perished in the year as no man
before remembered, as well through various diseases as through tempests. And in this same time died
Elsinus, Abbot of
Peterborough; and then Arnwius the monk was chosen abbot, because he was a very good man, and of great simplicity.]
A.D. 1042. This year died King Hardacnute at Lambeth, as he stood drinking: he fell suddenly to the earth with a tremendous
struggle; but those who were nigh at hand took him up; and he spoke not a word afterwards, but expired on the sixth day before
the ides of June. He was king over all England two years wanting ten nights; and he is buried in the old minster at Winchester
with King Knute his father. And his mother for his soul gave to the new minster the head of St. Valentine the Martyr: and ere he
was buried all people chose Edward for king in London. And they received him as their king, as was natural; and he reigned as
long as God granted him. All that year was the season very severe in many and various respects: both from the inclemency of
the weather, and the loss of the fruits of the earth. More cattle died this year than any man ever remembered, either from
various diseases, or from the severity of the weather. At this same time died
Elfsinus, Abbot of Peterborough; and they chose Arnwy, a monk, for their abbot; because he was a very good and benevolent man.
A.D. 1043. This year was Edward consecrated king at Winchester, early on Easter-day, with much pomp. Then was Easter on the
third day before the nones of April. Archbishop Edsy consecrated him, and before all people well admonished him. And
Stigand the priest was consecrated bishop over the East Angles. And this year, fourteen nights before the mass of St. Andrew, it
was advised the king, that he and Earl Leofric and Earl Godwin and Earl Siward with their retinue, should ride from Gloucester
to Winchester unawares upon the lady; and they deprived her of all the treasures that she had; which were immense; because she
was formerly very hard upon the king her son, and did less for him than he wished before he was king, and also since: but they
suffered her to remain there afterwards. And soon after this the king determined to invest all the land that his mother had in her
hands, and took from her all that she had in gold and in silver and in numberless things; because she formerly held it too fast
against him. Soon after this Stigand was deprived of his bishopric; and they took all that he had into their hands for the
king, because he was nighest the counsel of his mother; and she acted as he advised, as men supposed.
[A.D. 1043. This year was Edward consecrated king at Winchester on the first day of Easter. And this year, fourteen days before
Andrew's-mass, the king was advised to ride from Gloucester, and Leofric the earl, and Godwin the earl, and Sigwarth
[Siward] the earl, with their followers, to Winchester, unawares upon the lady [Emma]; and they bereaved her of all the treasures which she
possessed, they were not to be told, because before that she had been very hard with the king her son; inasmuch as she had done
less for him than he would, before he was king, and also since: and they suffered her after that to remain therein. This year
King Edward took the daughter [Edgitha] of Godwin the earl for his wife. And in this same year died Bishop
Brithwin, and he
held the bishopric thirty-eight years, that was the bishopric of Sherborne, and Herman the king's priest succeeded to the
bishopric. And in this year Wulfric was hallowed Abbot of St. Augustine's at Christmas, on Stephen's mass-day, by leave of the
king, and, on account of his great infirmity, of Abbot Elfstun.]
(58) The "seven" towns mentioned
above are reduced here to "five"; probably because two had already
submitted to the king on the death of the two thanes, Sigferth and Morcar. These
five were, as originally, Leicester, Lincoln, Stamford, Nottingham, and Derby.
Vid. an. 942, 1013.
(59) There is a marked difference respecting
the name of this alderman in MSS. Some have Ethelsy, as above; others, Elfwine,
and Ethelwine. The two last may be reconciled, as the name in either case would
now be Elwin; but Ethelsy, and Elsy are widely different. Florence of Worcester
not only supports the authority of Ethelwine, but explains it "Dei amici."
(60) Matthew of Westminster says the king took up the body with his own hands.