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 world.]

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 with him.

[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 Canterbury.]

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 battle.

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 could.

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 Evesham.

[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 Ethelred, hither to land, from Weal-land; he was brother of King Hardecanute: they were both sons of Elfgive; Emma, who was daughter of Earl Richard.]

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.]

ENDNOTES:

(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.