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THE LIFE OF KING ALFRED by Asser - Bishop of Sherborne Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #26 Originally

composed in Latin, prossibly sometime around 888 A.D. by the Monk and Bishop Asser, although some scholars contend that the work was actually compose d much later by an unknown hand. Translation by Dr. J.A. Giles (London, 1847). The text of this edition is based on that published as "Six Old English Chronicl es", translated and edited by Dr. J.A. Giles (London, 1847). This edition is in the PUBLIC DOMAIN in the United States. This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by Douglas B. Killings (DeTroyes@EnterAct.COM), January 1997. Introduction This work is ascribed, on its own internal authority, to Asser, who is said to h ave been Bishop of St. David's, of Sherborne or of Exeter, in the time of king A lfred. Though most of the public events recorded in this book are to be found in the Saxon Chronicle, yet for many interesting circumstances in the life of our great Saxon king we are indebted to this biography alone. But, as if no part of history is ever to be free from suspicion, or from difficulty, a doubt has been raised concerning the authenticity of this work. (1) There is also another short treatise called the Annals of Asser, or the Chronicle of St. Neot, different fr om the present: it is published in vol. iii. of Gale and Fell's "Collection of H istorians". And it has been suspected by a living writer that both of these work s are to be looked upon as compilations of a later date, the arguments upon whic h this opinion is founded are drawn principally from the abrupt and incoherent c haracter of the work before us. But we have neither time nor space to enter furt her into this question. As the work has been edited by Petrie, so has it been he re translated, and the reader, taking it upon its own merits, will find therein much of interest about our glorious king, concerning whom he will lament with me that all we know is so little, so unsatisfying. --- J.A. Giles

Part I

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 849, was born Alfred, king of the Angl o-Saxons, at the royal village of Wanating, (1) in Berkshire, which country has its name from the wood of Berroc, where the box-tree grows most abundantly. His genealogy is traced in the following order. King Alfred was the son of king Ethe lwulf, who was the son of Egbert, who was the son of Elmund, was the son of Eafa , who was the son of Eoppa, who the son of Ingild. Ingild, and Ina, the famous k ing of the West-Saxons, were two brothers. Ina went to Rome, and there ending th is life honourably, entered the heavenly kingdom, to reign there for ever with C hrist. Ingild and Ina were the sons of Coenred, who was the son of Ceolwald, who was the son of Cudam, who was the son of Cuthwin, who was the son of Ceawlin, w ho was the son of Cynric, who was the son of Creoda, who was the son of Cerdic, who was the son of Elesa, who was the son of Gewis, from whom the Britons name a ll that nation Gegwis, (2) who was the son of Brond, who was the son of Beldeg, who was the son of Woden, who was the son of Frithowald, who was the son of Frea laf, who was the son of Frithuwulf, who was the son of Finn of Godwulf, who was the son of Gear, which Geat the pagans long worshipped as a god. Sedulius makes

mention of him in his metrical Paschal poem, as follows: -When gentile poets In tragic language To their god Geat, Loud praises sing, with their fictions vain, and bombastic strain, comic deity, &c.

Geat was the son of Taetwa, who was the son of Beaw, who was the son of Scel di, who was the son of Heremod, who was the son of Itermon, who was the son of H athra, who was the son of Guala, who was the son of Bedwig, who was the son of S hem, who was the son of Noah, who was the son of Lamech, who was the son of Meth usalem, who was the son of Enoch, who was the son of Malaleci, who was the son o f Cainian, who was the son of Enos, who was the son of Seth, who was the son of Adam. The mother of Alfred was named Osburga, a religious woman, noble both by bir th and by nature; she was daughter of Oslac, the famous butler of king Ethtelwul f, which Oslac was a Goth by nation, descended from the Goths and Jutes, of the seed, namely, of Stuf and Whitgar, two brothers and counts; who, having received possession of the Isle of Wight from their uncle, King Cerdic, and his son Cynr ic their cousin, slew the few British inhabitants whom they could find in that i sland, at a place called Gwihtgaraburgh; (3) for the other inhabitants of the is land had either been slain, or escaped into exile. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 851, which was the third after the bir th of king Alfred, Ceorl, earl of Devon, fought with the men of Devon against th e pagans at a place called Wiegambeorg; (4) and the Christians gained the victor y; and that same year the pagans first wintered in the island called Sheppey, wh ich means the Sheep-isle, and is situated in the river Thames between Essex and Kent, but is nearer to Kent than to Essex; it has in it a fine monastery. (5) The same year also a great army of the pagans came with three hundred and fi fty ships to the mouth of the river Thames, and sacked Dorobernia, (6) which is the city of the Cantuarians, and also the city of London, which lies on the nort h bank of the river Thames, on the confines of Essex and Middlesex; but yet that city belongs in truth to Essex; and they put to flight Berthwulf, king of Merci a, with all the army, which he had led out to oppose them. After these things, the aforesaid pagan host went into Surrey, which is a di strict situated on the south bank of the river Thames, and to the west of Kent. And Ethelwulf, king of the West-Saxons, and his son Ethelbald, with all their ar my, fought a long time against them at a place called Ac-lea, (7) i.e. the Oak-p lain, and there, after a lengthened battle, which was fought with much bravery o n both sides, the greater part of the pagan multitude was destroyed and cut to p ieces, so that we never heard of their being so defeated, either before or since , in any country, in one day; and the Christians gained an honourable victory, a nd were triumphant over their graves. In the same year king Athelstan, son of king Ethelwulf, and earl Ealhere sle w a large army of pagans in Kent, at a place called Sandwich, and took nine ship s of their fleet; the others escaped by flight. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 853, which was the fifth of king Alfre d, Burhred king of the Mercians, sent messengers, and prayed Ethelwulf, king of the West Saxons, to come and help him in reducing the midland Britons, who dwell between Mercia and the western sea, and who struggled against him most immodera tely. So without delay, king Ethelwulf, having received the embassy, moved his a rmy, and advanced with king Burhred against Britain, (8) and immediately, on ent ering that country, he began to ravage it; and having reduced it under subjectio n to king Burhred, he returned home.

In the same year, king Ethelwulf sent his son Alfred, above- named, to Rome, with an honourable escort both of nobles and commoners. Pope Leo (the fourth] a t that time presided over the apostolic see, and he anointed for king the afores aid Alfred, and adopted him as his spiritual son. The same year also, earl Ealhe re, with the men of Kent, and Iluda with the men of Surrey, fought bravely and r esolutely against an army of the pagans, in the island, which is called in the S axon tongue, Tenet, (9) but Ruim in the British language. The battle lasted a lo ng time, and many fell on both sides, and also were drowned in the water; and bo th the earls were there slain. In the same year also, after Easter, Ethelwulf, k ing of the West-Saxons, gave His daughter to Burhred, king of the Mercians, and the marriage was celebrated royally at the royal vill of Chippenham. (10) In the year of our Lord's incarnation 855, which was the seventh after the b irth of the aforesaid king, Edmund the most glorious king of the East-Angles beg an to reign, on the eighth day before the kalends of January, i.e. on the birthd ay of our Lord, in the fourteenth year of his age. In this year also died Lothai re, the Roman emperor, son of the pious Lewis Augustus. In the same year the afo resaid venerable king Ethelwulf released the tenth part of all his kingdom from all royal service and tribute, and with a pen never to be forgotten, offered it up to God the One and the Three in One, in the cross of Christ, for the redempti on of his own soul and of his predecessors. In the same year he went to Rome wit h much honour; and taking with him his son, the aforesaid king Alfred, for a sec ond journey thither, because he loved him more than his other sons, he remained there a whole year; after which he returned to his own country, bringing with hi m Judith, daughter of Charles, the king of the Franks. In the meantime, however, whilst king Ethelwulf was residing beyond the sea, a base deed was done, repugnant to the morals of all Christians, in the western part of Selwood. For king Ethelwald [son of king Ethelwulf] and Ealstan, bishop of the church of Sherborne, with Eanwulf, earl of the district of Somerton, are said to have made a conspiracy together, that king Ethelwulf, on his return fro m Rome, should never again be received into his kingdom. This crime, unheard-of in all previous ages, is ascribed by many to the bishop and earl alone, as resul ting from their counsels. Many also ascribe it solely to the insolence of the ki ng, because that king was pertinacious in this matter, and in many other pervers ities, as we have heard related Ly certain persons; as also was proved by the re sult of that which follows. For as he was returning from Rome, his son aforesaid, with all his counsello rs, or, as I ought to say, his conspirators, attempted to perpetrate the crime o f repulsing the king from his own kingdom; but neither did God permit the deed, nor would the nobles of all Saxony consent to it. For to prevent this irremediab le evil to Saxony, of a son warring against his father, or rather of the whole n ation carrying on civil war, either on the side of the one or the other, the ext raordinary mildness of the father, seconded by the consent of all the nobles, di vided between the two the kingdom which had hitherto been undivided; the eastern parts were given to the father, and the western to the son; for where the fathe r ought by just right to reign, there his unjust and obstinate son did reign; fo r the western part of Saxony is always preferable to the eastern. When Ethelwulf, therefore, was coming from Rome, all that nation, as was fit ting, so delighted in the arrival of the old man, that, if he permitted them, th ey would have expelled his rebellious son Ethelbald, with all his counsellors, o ut of the kingdom. But he, as we have said, acting with great clemency and prude nt counsel, so wished things to be done, that the kingdom might not come into da nger; and he placed Judith, daughter of king Charles, whom he had received from his father, by his own side on the regal throne, without any controversy or enmi ty from his nobles, even to the end of his life, contrary to the perverse custom of that nation. For the nation of the West-Saxons do not allow a queen to sit b

moreover. as he also had heard it from many me n of truth. was married to Bertric. named Eadburga. and it was he who had the great rampart made from sea to sea between Britain and Mercia.eside the king. as I think. who stands here with me. acc ompanied by one slave only. she begged h er bread daily at Pavia." She replied. king of the Franks. the queen could remain no longer among the We st-Saxons. tha t they would never let any king reign over them. who immediately. though the queen intended to give it to the young man o nly. As she stood before the throne. that she not only earned for herself exclusion from the royal seat. and the money which he left behind him between his sons and nobles. who should attempt to place a q ueen on the throne by his side. Of this prudent policy we have thought fit to record a f ew instances out of many for posterity to imitate. and to all the people. because he is younger t han you. it seems to me right to explain a little more fully what I have heard fro m my lord Alfred. which stigma the elders of that land say arose from a certain obstinate and malevolent queen of the same nation. nor to be called a queen. "If I am to have my choice. in which. which relate o nly to human dispensation. but only the king's wife. for in consequence of the wickedness of that queen. contrary to the custom of all the Theotisean na tions. she used to take them off by poison: as is ascertained to have been the case with a certain young man beloved by the king. whom she poisoned. I choose your son. Charles said to her. foolishly. And because. it is not known to many whence this perverse and de testable custom arose in Saxony." However. between m e and my son. and to accuse all she could before the king. began to live tyrannically like her father. king of the Anglo-Saxons. but also entailed the same stigma upon those who came after her. it is not necessary to insert in this work. he ordered a will or letter of instructions to be wri tten. you would have had my son. who in great part recorded that fact. he gave her a large convent of nuns. all the nobles of that land swore together. namely. and his relat ions. in recent times. and went to the cou rt of the great and famous Charles. Bertric therefore. finding that the King would not listen to any accusation against him. for the others. such as are understoo d to belong principally to the needs of the soul. lest prol . fo r being convicted of having had unlawful intercourse with a man of her own natio n. and so both of them perished. "Choose. among many other good deeds of this present life. she discharged the office of abbe ss during a few years. having laid aside th e secular habit and taken the religious dress. during which. but sailed beyond the sea with immense treasures. in which he ordered that his kingdom should be divided between his two eld est sons. (1 2) His daughter. you shall not have either of us. and the control of almost all t he kingdom. and without deli beration. Eadburga. as she is said to have lived irrationally in her own country. and so to deprive them insidiously of their life or power. "If you had chosen me. and so miserably died. so she appears to have acted still more so in that foreign country. being dead. for. she was expelled from the monastery by king Charles's order. Now king Ethelwulf lived two years after his return from Rome. a certain valiant king. It is said. his private inheritance between his sons. and if she could not obtain the king's consent. that king Bertric unwitting ly tasted of the poison. and offered him money. who did all things so contrary to her lord. but as you have chosen him. that his sons might not quarrel unreasonably a fter their father's death. his daughters. reflecting on his departure a ccording to the way of all flesh. and fo r the good of his soul. and lived a vici ous life of reproach in poverty and misery until her death. as we have heard from many who saw her. and to do all things hateful to God and man. There was in Mercia. so that at last. His name was Offa. who was feared by all the kings and neighbouring states around." At which Charles smiled and answered. and to execrate every ma n whom Bertric loved. king of the West-Saxons . having the king's affections.

Osric. who felt deep sorrow when he went the way of all flesh. and Sussex also to his dominion. however.ixity should create disgust in those who read or wish to hear my work. specially to buy oil f or the lights of the church of that apostle on Easter eve. to be distributed in the following m anner: namely. finding themselves unable to resist. three hundred mancuses. took to f light like women. either native or foreigner. bishop of the East-Angles. and earl Ethelwulf. which was the eighteenth of king Alfred. to speak in nautical phrase. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 856. with the men of Berkshire. the twenty-fourth m oon. until the day of judgment. Ethelred. and the paga ns were slain on every side. He commanded also a large sum of money. His brother Ethelbert. who promised them money f or adhering to their covenant. and should not become desert ed. being Christmas-day. in the fifteenth year of his age. which he studied to promote in all things from his you th. . with his men. and made a firm treaty with the men of Kent. king of the Franks. Paul the apostle. ascended his father's bed. or keeping off from land stee r my round-about course through so many calamities of wars and series of years. the second year of king Charles III. Surrey. and attacked and de stroyed the city of Winchester. and wintered in the kingdom of the Eastern-S axons. and married Judith . supposing. undertook the g overnment of the kingdom for five years. then. with the love and respec t of his subjects. For the b enefit of his soul. on a Friday. and there they became principally a n army of cavalry. which was the eighth after Alfred 's birth. like cunning foxes. Paul. Ethelbert governed his kingdom five years in peace. which was the twelfth of king Alf red's age. king of the West-Saxons. and also at the cockcrow: a hundred mancuses in honour of St. In his days a large army of pagans came up from the sea. and clothing. and setting at naught their engagements. and buried at Stemrugam. that the countr y should still be inhabited both by men and cattle. as was fitting. b y his successors. in which at that time was th e royal seat. brother of Ethelbert. and was buried at Sherborne. he directed through all his hereditary dominions. daughter of Charles. His b ody was honourably interred at Sherborne by the side of his brothers. king of the West. for the same purpose of buying o il for the church of St. namely. confronted them bravely. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 866. and the eighteenth year of the re ign of Ethelwulf. died Ethelbald. As they were returning laden with booty to their ships. earl of Hampshire. contrary to God's prohibition and the dignity of a Christian. But when king Ethelwulf was dead. and a hundred mancuses for the universal apostolic pontiff. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 864. but the pagans. drink. joined Kent. But.Saxons. they ra vaged all the eastern coast of Kent. Humbert. to b e carried to Rome for the good of his soul. the pagans wintered in the isle o f Thanet. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 860. that one poor man in ten. anointed with oil and consecrated as king the glorious Edmund. which is called in Saxon East-Anglia. to light the lamps on Easter eve and at the cock-crow.(12) his son Ethel bald. a hundred mancuses in honour of St. I will no longer commit my vessel to the power of the waves and of its sails. a severe battle took place. contrary als o to the custom of all the pagans. which they knew was less than they could get by plunder. with much rejoici ng and great honour in the royal town called Burva. king of the West Saxons. and drew down much infamy upon himsel f from all who heard of it. burst from th eir camp by night. should be supplied with meat. and. and the same year a large fleet of paga ns came to Britain from the Danube. and spurning at the promised money. Peter. and the Christians obtained a triumph. During two years and a half of licentiousness after his father he held the government of the West-Saxons.

to him who can first unde rstand and repeat it to yon?" At this his mother smiled with satisfaction.but will return to that which first prompted me to this task. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 867. above all his brothers. but. This he confessed. and was educated altogether at the court of the king. and still aspires after it. that is. and said. and in manners he was more graceful tha n they. "Will y ou really give that book to one of us. as I believe. and appointed a certain tyrant na med Aella. his mother (13) was showing him and his brother a Saxon book of poetry. and hunted with great assiduity and success. and allured by the beautifully illuminated letter at the beginning of the volume. the army of pagans before mentioned removed fr om the East-Angles to the city of York. that is to say. he remained illiterate even till he was twelve years old or more. and answered. and in due time brought it to his mother and recited it. there were no good readers at that t ime in all the kingdom of the West-Saxons. by the unworthy neglect of his parent s and nurses. even until his death. and had his teachers and wr iters also so much disturbed. But yet among the impediments of this present life. over the affairs of the kingdom. He was a zealous practis er of hunting in all its branches. to have been one of his greatest difficulties and impediments in this life. had expelled their lawful king Osbert. and even by all the people. that when he was yo ung and had the capacity for learning. On a certain day. he could not find teachers. I think it right in this place briefly to relate as much as has come to my knowled ge about the character of my revered lord Alfred. that is to say. namely. with many lamentations and sighs. but when the pag ans approached. though his seniors in age. and c onfirmed what she had before said. he listened with serious attention to the Saxon poems which he often heard recited. Upon which the boy took the book out of her h and. as we also have often witnessed. But. the celebration of the hour s. sad to say. for skill and good fortune in this art. and the union of the nobles for the common . are among the gifts of God. as well as by internal and external anxieties of so vereignty. as we hav e said. but. in look. as we ourselves have seen. who. from infancy up to the present time. he spoke before all his broth ers. were not so in grace. and. duri ng the years that he was an infant and a boy. as he said. After this he learned the daily course. and afterwards certain psalms. when he was more advanced in life. not of royal birth. which she held in her hand. among the inhabitants of Northumberland. which was the nineteenth of the l ife of the aforesaid king Alfred. by divine providence. by the instigation of the devil. he could not gratify his most ardent wish to l earn the liberal arts. his form appeared more comely than t hat of his brothers. or rather by the Divine inspiration. he continued to feel the same insatiable des ire of knowledge. As he advan ced through the years of infancy and youth. For the Northumbrians at that time. and went to his master to read it. His noble nature implanted in him from his cradle a love of wisdom above all things. as always is used to happen among a people w ho have incurred the wrath of God. therefore. but. At that time a violent discord arose. as in all others. in speech. that there was no time for reading. contained in a certain bo ok which he kept day and night in his bosom. with shame be it spoken. he was harassed by so many diseases unknown to all th e physicians of this island. and several prayers. which is situated on the north bank of t he river Humber. and easily retained them in his docile memory. and by continual invasions of the pagans." Stimulated by t hese words. "Whichever of you shall the soonest learn this volume shall have it for his own. He was loved by his father and mother. king of the Anglo-Saxons. because. amid all the bustle and business of th is present life. and carr ied about with him to assist his prayers.

there was a great famine and mortality of men. Ealstan.second of k ing Alfred's life. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 871.first of ki ng Alfred's life. routed them. and all the n obles of that nation. of the royal line of Merci a." and they wintered there that same year. and there passed the winter. galloping back to Nort humberland. on the third day after their arrival. In the same year. asked and obtained in marriag e a noble Mercian lady. peace was made between the Mercians and pagans. The Christ ians. and when the pagans. their earls. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 870. in the district called Berkshire. both within and without the walls . even till her own death. slew them . came to the royal city. refused to fight. and assembling an army. the remainder. of hateful memory. came to Nottingham. Edmund was slain in the b attle. archbishop of Canterbury. made a fierce sally upon them. and after the decease of her husband. passed through Mercia into Ea st-Anglia. called Reading. and he was buried at Sherborne. and when the Christians had made a breach as they had purposed. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 868. The pagans fled at their appro ach. leaving Northumberland. "Tiggocobauc. with both the kings and a multitude of nobles. and the Christians were unable to destroy the wall. the pagan army. daughter of Athelred. which is called in the British tongue. but at that time occupying a subordinate station. lamentable to say. after he had honourably ruled his see four years. the above-named army of pagans. and a pestilenc e among the cattle. And the aforesaid army of the pagans. perceiving their flight and the terror they were in. and entering Mercia. sent messengers to Ethelred. king of the West-Saxons. suppliantly entreating them to come and aid them in fighting against the aforesaid army. returned home with their troops. which was the twenty. as soon as promised. and was buried peaceably in his own city. Immediately on their approach. (15) The mother of this lady was named Edburga. situated on the south bank of the Thames. Their request was easily obtained. who escaped. king of the East-Angles. made peace with the pagan s. which they succeeded in doing. and many of them had entered into the town. assembled an immense army from all parts of their dominio ns. there was a severe famine. for that city was not sur rounded at that time with firm or strong walls. and his brother Alfred. the pagans triumphed. marched to York. Burhred. went the way of all fle sh. and e ntering the kingdom of the West. the pagans. In the same year Ceolnoth. and cut them down on all sides. and there. which was the twentieth of king A lfred's life. which was the twenty. whom we have often seen with our own eyes a few years before her death. and wintered at Thetford. the above-named army of pagans. In that battle fell almost all the Northumbrain warriors. and the enemy reduced all that country to subjection. She w as a venerable lady. and attempted to defend themselves within the walls of the city. she remained many yea rs a widow. with great part of th . In the year of our Lord's incarnation 869. defended by the castle. In the same year. and the tw o brothers. that discord was a little appeased.third of ki ng Alfred's life. left the East-Angles. king of Mercia. bishop of the church of Sherborne. for the brothers . fought most fiercely again st them. (14) earl of the G aini. surnamed Mucil. in vaded Mercia and advanced to Nottingham. which was the twenty. the "House of Caves. and Osbert and Aella uniting their re sources. Ethelred and Alfred. went the way o f all flesh." but in Latin. urged by despair and necessity. all eager for battle. Then the aforesaid revered king Alfred.Saxons. In the same year Edmund. determined to destroy the walls of the town. went to York.good. but.

and earl Harold. and said that he would not leave it. the pagans obtained the victo ry. till the priest had done. Things being so arranged. for king Ethelred remai ned a long time in his tent in prayer. and began to prepare defences. even until th ey reached the stronghold from which they had sallied. and a long and fierce engagement e nsued. Four days afterwards. After fourteen days had elapsed. until it became dark. hearing the mass. should a ttack the two pagan kings. and earl Sidra c the younger. and the other part to all their earls. or abandon the divine protection for tha t of men. which afterwards availed him much with the Almighty . and having lost great part of their army. And he did so too. but we have ourselves never seen it. nevertheless." The pagans had divi ded themselves into two bodies. At length he bravely led his troops against the hostile army. with his men. earl Frene. for he relie d in the divine counsels. and the aforesaid earl Ethelwulf was among the slain. The Christians followed. One of their two kings. marched on a t once to meet the foe. in shame and indignation. a t last the pagans. and five earls were there slain. Now the Christians had determined that king Ethelred. where. and the Christians gained the victo ry. assembled all their forces. who fell on all sides.e army. and the Christians came up from below. and made long resistance. Roused by this calamity. as we shall declare more fully in the sequel. the Christians. Around this tre e the opposing armies came together with loud shouts from all sides. as we have been told by those who were present. (17) which means the "Hill of the Ash. and the whole pagan arm y pursued its flight. earl Sidrac the elder. The pagans occupied the hi gher ground. for they had two kings and many earls. aga . But the paga ns. not only until night but until the next day. of strutted growth. upo n which the rest saved themselves by flight. their dear est ties. by the divine judgment. But Alfr ed. though possessing a subordinate authority. There fell in that battle king Bagsac. unless he retreated or charged upon them without waiting for his brother. within fo ur days. There was also a single thor n-tree. marched up promptly with his men to give them battle. the one par ty to pursue their wicked course. together with many thousand pagans. but without awaiting his brother's arrival. Then A lfred. could no longer support the tr oops of the enemy. the other to fight for their lives. the king remained a long time in prayer. And when both armies had fought long and bravely. earl Osborn. they c ut to pieces the pagans whom they found outside the fortifications. should take the chance of war against the two earls. But here I must inform those who are ignorant of the fact. and the pagans came up rapidly to fight. They wer e encountered by Ethelwulf. with his men. took to a disgra ceful flight. so they gave the middle part of the army to the two kings. and their country. but that his brother Alfred. divided their army also into two troops. Ethelred. scoured the country for plunder. sallied out from the gates. with his troops. king of the West-Saxons. that the field of battle was not equally advantageous to both parties. slaying all they could reach. and again encountered the pagan army at a p lace called Ashdune. grief to say. and forming his men into a dense phalanx. and would not tell an untrut h. united their forces and marched to Reading. with his brother Alfred. covering with their bodies the whole plain of Ashdune. at a place called E nglefield. (16) both sides fought bravely. the Christians fled. king Ethelred. and his brother Alf red. while the others made a rampart between the rivers Thames and Kennet on the right side of the same royal city. At last. on their arrival. as th ey had before arranged. were no longer able to bear the attac ks of the Christians. and also began to construct defences. At length o ne of the pagan earls was slain. Which the Christians perceiving. and the greater part of the army destroyed. earl of Berkshire.

on condition that he should restore it to them. and to guarantee this agreement. The same year. The enemy came together from all quarters.in joined their forces and marched to Basing to fight with the pagans. at a hill called Wi lton.he fought a battle with a few men. named Ceolwulf. whilst his brother above-nam ed was still alive. leaving London. where he awaits the Lord's coming and the first resurrection with the jus t. and was buried in Wimborne Minster. subjected the whole kingdom of the Merc ians to their dominion. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 873. over and above those who were slain in the eight battles above-mentioned. and if he had chosen. oh. the aforesaid Alfred. shame to say. Also they compelled Burhred. besides endless skirmishes. an d on very unequal terms. the above-named army. and all his chieftains. gained the victory. Mary's c hurch. undertoo k the government of the whole kingdom. How many thousand pagans fell in these numberless skir mishes God alone knows. and after a long contest gained the victory. the army before so often mentioned left Lindsey and marched to M ercia. after Easter. nine dukes. the aforesaid king Ethelred. now. redu . but by a most miserable arrangement. and several of his ministers.second year of his reign. went the way of all flesh. but be obedient to them in every respect. and with good repute. from which river the whole of that di strict is named. against his will. against all the army of the pagans. and there wintered in the district of Lindsey. and joined them. The pagans also. amid the acclamations of all the people. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 874. which was the 27th of king Alfred . for the Saxons had been worn out by eight battles in one year. the twenty-fifth of king Alfred. and having wintered there near the Tyne. of whom they had slain one ki ng. A fter this battle. for he did not think he could alone s ustain the multitude and ferocity of the pagans. whilst his brothers were alive. governed his kingdom five years. but di ed there. and the first resurrection with the just. In the same year the Saxons made peace with the pagans. the twenty-fourth of king Alfred' s life. divided into two bodies. tur ned their backs and fled. the above-named army of pagans went to London. the above-named army. the pagans. he had borne the woes of many. and the Mercians again made tre aty with them. went into the country of the Northumbrians . on the south bank of the river Wily. and no longer able to bear the attack of their enemies. gave it into the cu stody of a certain foolish man. against the pagans. and again rallying. with their men. to leave his kingdom and go beyond the sea to Rome. and they did so. and after a long and fierce engagement. The same year. they deceived their too audacio us pursuers. after his expulsion. Let no one be surprised tha t the Christians had but a small number of men. where he awaits the coming of the Lord. through much tr ibulation. though even during his brothers ' lives. The M ercians made peace with them. both by night and by day. and swore that he would not oppose their will. and was honourably buried in the school of the Saxons. one of which we nt with Halfdene into Northumbria. and there wintered. almost against his will. seeing the danger they were in. in the twenty. And when he had r eigned one month. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 875. on con dition that they should take their departure. he gave them hostages. was warlike and victorious in all his wars. another army came from beyond the sea. He did not long live after his arrival. king of Merci a. for in wisdom and other qualities he surpassed all his broth ers. and moreover. the twenty-sixth since the birth of king Alfred. in St. were engaged without rest or cess ation against the pagans. by God's permission. having bravely. whenever they should wish to have i t again. and innumerable troops of soldiers. leaving Repton. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 872. But. in which the oft-named Alfred. who had been up to that time only of se condary rank. ho nourably. he might have done so before. -. one of the king's ministers. where they wintered at Repton.

the pagans. Meanwhile he went himself to Exeter. partly on horseback an d partly by water. With this army Alfred made a solemn treaty. The number of that disorderly crew increased every day. (23) In the year 877. (21) which with king Alfred were next in veneration after the Deity himself. enjoyed one night a vision revealing to him th e future. so that. slew all the horsemen that the king had round him. in the month of August. king Alfred fought a battle by sea against six ships of th e pagans. Halfdene. with Gothrun. and took hostages that they would depart. or En gland. thre e kings of the pagans. and Anwiund. situated on the eastern bank of the river Wise. arrived at Suanewic. and there passed t he winter. they also ravaged the Picts and the Strath . and sallying forth by night. at the head of his troops. which divides Britain and Gaul. i. in the district which is called in British "Durnguers". who were come to help th eir countrymen. divided out the whole count ry of Northumberland between himself and his men. In the year of our Lord's h~carnation 876. laid siege to the town. and for this they made no hesitation to give as many hostages as he named. partly settled in Ex eter. Oskytel. and took one of them. the city of the E x. (22) but in British "Cair-wise". and bravely attacked those barbaric tribes: but the pagans. they broke the treaty. In the same year. where there is a monasterium of holy virgi ns between the two rivers Fraum (20) and Trent. duke of the Normans. to another place called in Saxon "Exauce aster". In the same year. wintering. where one hundred and twenty of their sh ips were lost. See more of this Rollo in the Annals. they directed their course su ddenly towards the south sea. they leaped to their arms. being the twenty. the aforesaid army of the pagans.minded man. and appointed them to watch the seas. and having shut them up within the walls. went to a place called Grantabridge. th ere he made a covenant with them. the rest escaped by flight. Then King Alfred commande d boats and galleys. and caring nothing for the hostages or their oaths. in ord er to offer battle by sea to the enemy as they were coming. (24) In the same year the army of pagans. which means in Latin. and one of the king's . that army went into Mercia. others took their places to double the number. their bands were discomfi ted in a moment. fought vainly against them. entered a castle called Wareham. But they again practised their usual treachery. (25) and king Alfred pursued their land-army as far as Exeter. on the approach of autumn. This same Rollo. who had now for almost a month been tossed and almost wrecked a mong the waves of the sea. and turning off into Devon.Clydensians. where the pagans were. and partly marched for plunder into Mercia.e. and all were sunk and drowned in the sea.eighth year of king Alfred's life. (19) and there winte red. whilst wintering in Old Britain. Rollo with his followers penetrated into Normandy. if thirty thousand of them were slain in one battle. and gave part of that country to one Ceolwulf. t hat they would depart speedily from the kingdom.ced all Northumberland to subjection. leaving Grantabridge by ni ght. (18) The other division. On board of these he placed seamen. to be built throughout the Kingdom. He also gave orders to his sailors to prevent the m from obtaining any supplies by sea. As soon as the king's men knew that they were fitted with pagan soldiers. The same year. king of those parts. at a place called Sua newic. long ships. also they swore an oath over the Christian relics . leaving Wareham. In the same year. placed in a most secure situa tion. to the effect that the y should depart out of the kingdom. except that it was exposed to danger on the western side from the nature o f the ground. a weak. and his sailors were encountered by a flee t of a hundred and twenty ships full of armed soldiers. and settled there with his arm y. but in Saxon "Thornsaeta".

who puts down the mighty from their se at and exalteth the humble. after much slaughter of the Christians. in the beginning of his reign. This particular g ave much annoyance to the holy man St. that in their hum ility they may not despair of God's mercy. where. and often for etold to him. to be sunk down by ad versities. in the spirit of prophecy. for he had none of the necessaries of life. Neot. which is called in British. that the countrywoman. In the same year the brother (28) of Hingwar and Halfdene.ministers. from the pagans. that sometimes none of his subjects knew wh ere he was or what had become of him. But it happened on a certain day. becaus e. or for relief from those who oppressed them. a nd in whose hand are the hearts of kings. We may believe that the calamity was brought upon the king aforesaid. the army above-mentioned left Exeter. the aforesaid Alfre d often fell into such great misery. by frequent sallies. a ro yal villa. nor listened to his true prediction. and the king. and paid no heed to their requests. At the same time the above-named Alfred. man. except what he could forage openly or stea lthily. exclaimed: "Ca'sn thee mind the ke-aks. and sailed to Devon. the true and righteous Judge was willi ng that his sin should not go unpunished in this world. and by want of the necessaries of life. and certain soldiers and vassals. with a few of his nobles. and as we read in the Life of St. that he would suffer great adversity on this account. and drove many of the inhabitants of that country beyond the sea by the force of their arms. But the Almighty not only granted to the same glorious king victories over h is enemies. king of the West-Saxons. when he was a youth." (27) The blundering woman little thought that it was king Alfred. seeing that a man's sins must be co rrected either in this world or the next. Neot. the Avon. There they wintered. The unlucky woman espying the cakes burning at the fire. to the end that he might spare him in the world to come. sitting at the hearth. was preparing some loaves to bake. he would not listen to the petitions which his subjects made to him for help in their necessities. a t the house of one of his cowherds. which was the thirtieth of king A lfred's life. to whom every knee doth bow. and depressed by the low estate of his followers. but Alfred neither attended to the reproof of the man of God. with twenty-three ships. and on the eastern bank of the riv er. wife of the cowherd . In the year of our Lord's incarnation 878. used to lead an unquiet life a mong the woodlands (26) of the country of Somerset. to whom they owe all the things which they possess. and gained so many victories over them. but may also know. who was his relation. with twelve hundred ot . but also permitted him to be harassed by them. Wherefore. or even from the Christians who ha d submitted to the rule of the pagans. and influenced by youthfu l feelings. and in their prosperity they may not boast of their honours. therefore. ran up to remove them. an' doossen zee 'em burn? I'm boun thee's eat 'em vast enough. but he repulsed them from him. to the end that he might learn that there is one Lord of all things. who suffers his servants when they are elevated at t he summit of prosperity to be touched by the rod of adversity. situated in the west of Wiltshire. made r eady his bow and arrows and other warlike instruments. the other part they divided among themselves. (29) where he had wintered. From this cause. They reduced almost entirely to subjection a ll the people of that country. az zoon az 'tiz the turn. who had fought so many battles against the pagans. came from the country of Demetia . and went to Chippenham. in great tribulation. and rebuking the brave ki ng.

he rode to the stone of Egbert. determined not to assault it. and carried off all the booty that he could fi nd without the fortress. They say. and receive bap tism at king Alfred's hands. moreover. The ki ng. with thirty men chosen from the army. as he deserved. they received him. and there fought bravely and perseveringly against all the army of the pagans. Here he was m et by all the neighbouring folk of Somersetshire. before the castle of Cynuit (Kynwith). raised him up fro m the holy laver of baptism on the eighth day. with a few followers. cold. which he immediately laid siege to with all his army. in which form they had never before made a treaty with any one. by the king's servants. had fled for safety. inspired by Heaven. the aforesaid army of pagans leaving Chippenham. asked for peace. and there they gained a very large booty. b efore they began to suffer from want. came to Alfred at a place called Aller.hers. The same year. but should receive none of him i n return. at a royal villa named Wedmore. the king struck his camp. king Alfred. for they say that the three sisters of Hin gwar and Hubba. In the same year. fea r. The pagan s. wove that flag and got it ready in one d ay. moreover. made for him self a stronghold in a place called Athelney. and last of all by despair. but they began to blockade it. and received such hostages as he chose. wherever that flag went before the m. All of which articles he and his men fulfilled as t hey had promised. with the divine help. Immediately he slew all the men. a nd when he had been there fourteen days. The next morning he removed to Edington. . (36) and there they remained one year. fled beyond the sea. took pity upon them. being slain while committing his misdeeds. (33) where he encamped for one night. (31) which is in the eastern part of the wood which is called Selwood. for the castle had no spring near it. and encamped there for one night. whom. because it was i mpregnable and secure on all sides. and went to Okely. seeing that the castle was altogether unprepared and unfortified. with all his nobles. that they would immediately leave the kin gdom. went to Cirencester. king of the pagans. after Easter. a fter which the pagans swore. receiving him as his son by adoption. he met with a miserable death. a large army of pagans sailed from foreign parts into the river Thames. to make frequent assaults upon the pagan s. judging it much better to gain victory or death. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 879. and from thence sallied with his v assals and the nobles of Somersetshire. ( 34) where were the holy chrism was poured upon hint. with their followers. and Hampshire. When the following day dawned. who. and is situate in the southern part of the Wiccii. attacked the pagans suddenly in the morning. so that few escaped to their ships. except that it had walls in our own fashion. For after seven weeks Gothrun. and when they saw the king alive after such great tribulation. h e defeated with great slaughter. and joined the army which was already in the country.first of ki ng Alfred. (30) into which m any of the king's servants. (35) After his baptism he r emained twelve nights with the king. daughters of Lodobroch. if they were to gain the victory a live crow would appear flying on the middl e of the flag. driven by famine. on the condition that they shoul d give the king as many hostages as he pleased. but if they were doom to be defeated it would hang down motionles s. who had not. and pursued them flying to their fortification. thinking that those who were inside would s oon surrender either from famine or want of water. But the result did not fall out as they expected. in the seventh week after Easter. which was the thirty. except on the eastern. but in British Coit-mawr. for fear of the pagans. and there King Alfred. and Wiltshire. They wintere d at Fulham near the river Thames. as we ourselves have seen. Also. the pagans. Gothrun. and from the first cut them down in great numbers. and this was often proved to be so. near Athelney . slaying also their king. the Great Wood. for the Christians. with joy and acclamations. that in every battle. gave him many fin e houses. which is called in British "Cair Cori". and their king. as they had promised . hearing that. (32) which mea ns in Latin Silva Magna. and amongst ot her things the standard called Raven. promised to embrace Christianity.

after a brave resistance. The same year the army of pagans. and situated on the eastern bank of the river Medway. which was the thirty. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 883. the thirty-fourth of king Alfred' s life. the aforesaid army went higher up into France. the above named army steered their ships up into France by a river calle d the Mese [Meuse] and there wintered one year. the aforesaid army went up the river called Scald [Scheldt] to a convent of nuns called Cundoht [Conde] and there remained a year. of which he captured two ships. because the citizens defend ed themselves bravely. and sailed over the sea to the eastern part of France. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 884. dist ressed by the battle and the wounds which they had received. and the other coming to Britain entered Kent. .Angles. compelled by stern necessity. on the arrival of the king. fought a battle by sea ag ainst the pagan fleet. the aforesaid army divided into two parts. and after the battle the pagans obtained horses and became an army of cavalry.In the same year an eclipse of the sun took place. In the same year Alfred. prepared for battle. the pagans. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 881. one body of them we nt into East France. with all their crews. and the Saxons immediately seized on the prisoners and horses left by the pagans. Then the pagans abandoned their fortress. and the French fought against them. and all their horses which they had b rought with them out of France. (37) and. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 880.(38) immedi ately thirteen ships of the pagans met them. ENDNOTES: (1) Wantage. In the year of our Lord's incarnation 882. returned the same s ummer to France.fifth of ki ng Alfred's life. were slain. after a n aval battle. and so the pagans. the pagans gained the victory. After this. where they be sieged a city called in Saxon Rochester. with all their money. which was the thirty. who lived in the eastern part of England. a fierce fight ensued. the above named army of pagans left Cirencester. all the ships . out of Kent to the country of the East. and went among the East Angles. which was the thirty. In the same year Alfred. and all the pagans. full of fi ghting men.sixth of ki ng Alfred's life. and leaving behind them in the fortress the grea ter part of their prisoners. met the same royal fleet at sea in the mouth of the same river. and the two commanders of two other ships. left the isl and of Britain. assembled their ships . Before the gate of the town the pagans suddenly erected a strong fortress. were taken. king of the Anglo-Saxons. fled immediately to the ir ships.third of ki ng Alfred's life. led his fleet. until king Alfred came up to help them with a large army. which was the thirty. when they had arrived at the mouth of the river Stour. but yet they were unable to take the city.second of k ing Alfred. having slain all who were on board. for the sake of plun der. but nearer to three o'clock. which had wintered at Fulham. where they divided out the country and began to settle. laid down their arm s and submitted to the king. where the y remained a year at a place called Ghent. between three o'clock and the evening. king of the Anglo-Saxons. while the royal fleet were repos ing. and.

D. states. rather than his own mother. which Camden thinks is Steyning.D. (9) Thanet. (13) We must understand this epithet as denoting his mother-inlaw. which is a combination of Wight and Caraburgh. dated from A. that Ethelwulf was buried in Winchester. (10) Wilts.D. when Alfred was not yet seven years old. (5) Minster. When his father brought Judith from Franco Alfred was thirteen years old. Staeningham. (4) Wembury. 856. 814 to 866. (6) Canterbury. (3) Carisbrooke. however. generally understood to be the West Saxons. The Saxon Chronicle. is the common reading. (11) 0ffa's dyke. (14) This nobleman occurs as a witness [Mucil.(2) The Gewisse. . between Wales and England. dux] to many Mercian charters. (12) Ingram supposes this to be Stonehenge. who was dead in A. Judith. (7) Oakley. 855. A. as may be conjectured from the name. in Sussex. (8) This is one of the few instances in the work in which the name Britannia applied to Wales. in Surrey.

(17) Aston. viii. The "Annals" referred supposed not to be a genuine work of that many passages of made in the old MS. in Berkshire. (18) Stratclyde Britons. (23) It is necessary to inform the reader this work are modern interpolations. (20) The Frome.(15) Inhabitants of Gainsborough. Olaus Magnus. c. (22) Exeter. a later hand. (26) Athelney. says the Saxon Chronicle. lib. in Dorsetshire. (27) The original here is in Latin verse. (21) They swore oaths to Alfred on the holy ring. See a former note in this page. The most solemn manner of swearing among the Danes and other northern nations was by their arms. 2. by to in the text are Asser. a morass formed by the conflux of the Thone and Parret. and may therefore be . (24) Swanwich. (25) This clause is a mere repetition of the preceding.. (19) Cambridge. (16) Englefield Green is about four miles from Windsor.

p. (30) Kynwith castle stood on the river Taw. Supposed to be Leigh. (33) Or Iglea. 878) it is said. (35) In the Saxon Chronicle (A. (36) Inhabitants of Gloucester. (38) Not the river Stour. all traces of the heptarchy. (29) Or South Wales. (34) Wedmore is four miles and three quarters from Axbridge. and part of Warwickshire. Camden. Worcester. which was taken off at the expiration of eight days. (32) Selwood Forest extended from Frome to Burham. . Lambard fixes the battle at Harwich haven. The "chrismal" was a white linen cloth put on the head at the administration of baptism. that Gothrun was baptized at Aller. In fact. (31) Now called Brixton Deverill. Wilts. (28) Probably the sanguinary Ilubba. did not entirely disappear until some years after the Norman conquest. in Kent.D. and his "chrism-loosing" was at Wedmore. in Wilts. and was probably much larger at one time. for it shows that the Danes had settled possession of parts of it. 35. but the Stour which divides Essex from Suffolk. now Westbury. but such as every housewife in Somersetshire would understand. (37) This expression paints in strong colours the unfortunate and divided state of England at this period.rendered into English verse. in Somersetshire. or ancient division of the island into provinces.

-. received. for the general salvation of mankind. King of the Franks. father of the aforesaid queen Judith. and even more than th at through the space of so many years. This Charles was the son of king Louis. all the territories which lie between the Tyrrhenian sea and that gul f which runs between the old Saxons and the Gauls. sad to say! is the worst of all. it was he who.Saxons resident at Rome from all tribute and t ax. in which the e clipse of the sun took place. Carloman. and fought bravely twic e in that same year. In the same year also the army of pagans. -. who had died in the year above mentioned. in presence of all the people. king of the Almains. These two brothers were sons of Lou is. Wherefore.e. with the merciful aid of the Lord. as far as my knowledge will enable me. king of the Western Franks. Charles.from what cause so great a malady aros . king of the Franks. but Louis was the son of the great. both by night and by da y. to speak of the life and charac ter and just conduct of my lord Alfred.Part II In the same year. In the same year also a great army of the pagans came from Germany into the country of the ancient Saxons. i. which is called in Saxon Ealdseaxum. and after continual feasts. for it was unknown to all wh o were then present. King of the West Saxons. freed the school of the Anglo. which dwelt among the East Angles. with universa l consent.which. and. among which was no small portion o f the holy and venerable cross on which our Lord Jesus Christ was suspended. was miserably killed by a large animal of that species. with God's ble ssing. (39) To oppo se them the said Saxons and Frisons joined their forces. of blessed memory. among innumerable multitu des of people of both sexes. to return to that from which I digressed. as I promised. that I may not be compe lled by my long navigation to abandon the port of rest which I was making for. the ancient. He also sent many gifts on that occasion. his wife. obtained the victory. whilst hunting a wild boar. by sudden and overw helming pain. after he marri ed the above named respected lady of Mercian race. and it was he whose daughter Judith was given by h er father's wish in marriage to Ethelwulf. that I may not offend the delicate minds of my readers by prolixity in relating each new event. went the way of all flesh. and at his reques t. disgracefully broke the peace which they had concluded with king Alfred. In the same year pope Martin. he was immediately seized. Lesser Britain. In both those battles the Christians. I will despatch it succinctly and briefly. In the same year also. died the year before. who had be en king of the Franks. and even to those who daily see him up to the present time. His nuptials were honourably celebrated in Mercia. that he should have protracted it so long from the twentieth to the fortieth year of his life. except the kingdom of Armoric a. also. king of the Anglo-Saxons. as yet unknown to all the physicians. an d wise Charlemagne. I propose. His brother Louis [III]. which infl icted a dreadful wound on him with its tusk. in regard for Alfred. these two brothers were sons of Louis. who was the son of Pepin. who was brother of Charles. king of the Anglo-Saxons.

are they suffered to pass their time idly and unprofitably without lea rning the liberal arts. hunting and such pursuits as befit noblemen. namely. for he had great dread of leprosy or blindness. as makes men useless or contemptible when it afflicts them. na mely. before he entered the marriage state. that such disease should not show itself out wardly in his body. Providence vouchsafed to afflic t him with the above-named disease. Edward and Ethelswitha were bred up in the king's court and received great attention from their attendants and nurses. then Ethelgiva. was consigned to the schools of learning. Ethelgiva also was dedicated to God. both natives and foreigners. or any such compl aint. But if ever. Ethelf led. from the twentieth to the forty-f ourth year of his life. as he thought. and not long after he felt with in him that by the hand of the Almighty he was healed. earl of Merc ia. night and day. for they have carefully learned the Psalms and Saxon boo ks. and go to pray in the churches and at the relics of the saints. nay. nor. by the divine counsels and the admirable prudenc e of the king. and submitted to the rules of a monasti c life. especially the Saxon poems. and are continually in the habit of making use o . divine Providence so ordered it. if he should do anything contrary to his will. and even gentleness toward s all. He had this sort of sev ere disease from his childhood. but rendered him almost useless. that when he was on a visit to Cornwall for the sake of hunting. The sons and daughters. for he perceived that he could with difficulty abstain from gratifying his carnal desires. For many thought that this was occasioned by the favour and fascination of th e people who surrounded him. from an unusual kind of fever. although he had first had even this complaint in the flower of his youth. and less able to be nefit mankind. For if I may be allowed to speak briefly. one of whom was Edmund. where. Latin and Saxon. after some time spent therein. were both read in the school. he wished to strengthen his mi nd in the observance of God's commandments. by God s mercy. and showing affability. with the childre n of almost all the nobility of the country. When he had fi nished his prayers. lost he should be an object of contempt. and Et helwerd. which he bore long and painfully for many ye ars. after an interval of some time.for king Alfred was always from his infancy a frequent visitor of holy places for the sake of prayer and almsgi ving. Books in both languages. of his zealous piety to God in the flower of his youth. in which rests the body of Saint Guerir. sad to say! it was replaced. he was-relieved from this i nfirmity for a single day or night. (40) and now also St. he used often to rise in the morning at the cock-crow. and in complete subjection to their father. among their other studies which appertain to this life and are fit for nobl e youths. he proceeded on his journey. and even despaired of life. -. they continue to this day. -. after whom came Edward. and. Neot (41) rests there. There he prostrated himself on the ground. at his marriage by another w hich incessantly tormented him. and had turned out o f the road to pray in a certain chapel. but. because he feared th e anger of God. but once. and that it was entirely eradicated. which he had by his wife above mentioned were Ethelf led the eldest. whether human or divine. when she arrived at a marriageable age. as we have said. but with this condition. was united to Ethered. besides those who died in their infancy. yet the fear and dread of that dreadful mala dy never left him. they became studious and clever in the liberal arts. that in his boundless clemency he would ex change the torments of the malady which then afflicted him for some other lighte r disease. and many also who were not noble. and. others. and when he had often prayed with much devotion to this effect. by some spite of the devil. wit h the love of all about them. then Ethelswitha. for every dut y.e. h e prospered under the diligent care of his teachers. and prayed that God in his mercy would strengthen his mind still more in his service by some in firmity such as he might bear. according to his request. so that before they were of an age to practice manly arts. of his disorder.he prostrated himself for private devotion. Ethelwerd the youngest. bu t in a somewhat preposterous order. he entreated of God's mercy. but not such as would render him imbecile and con temptible in his worldly duties. They also learned to write. by his devout and pious prayers and supplications to Almighty God. others. until he entirely got rid of it by his prayers. who is ever jea lous of the good.

steers her rapid fli ght through the uncertain tracks of ether. like a prudent bird. he bestowed alms and largesses on b oth natives and foreigners of all countries. minsters and friends. honoured. and descends on the manifold and vari ed flowers of grasses. if by any chance it so happened. in his own kingdom. were loved by him with wonderful affecti on. the king was in the habit of hearing the divine scriptures read by his own countrymen. yieldin g to his complaint. Gauls. never ceased to teach them letters night and day. But God at that time. Britons. as some consolation to the king's benevolence. to aid him in his strivings after wisdo m. and Werewulf. he attended the mass and other daily services of religion. were no less dear t o him than his own. In the meantime. pagans. Ethelstan also. at the hours both of the day and the nigh t. too. noble and ignoble. who exalted them with many honours and powers in the kingdom of the West-Saxons . as we have already said." He would avail himself of every opportunity to procure coadjutors in his good designs. during the frequent wars and other trammels of th is present life. interpreted them with clearness and elegance. according to their nation and deserving. and his own daily infirmities of b ody. and of the liberal arts. and especially to learn by heart the Saxon poems. and foun d both. or . sent certain lights to illuminate him.instigated the king's mind within. After him was Plegmund. and wealthy Solomon. Mercians by birth and erudite. and all ecclesiastics. that he might attain to what he aimed at. and he alone never desisted from studying. and their sons. but as if he h ad no consolation in all these things. . These four had been invited out of Mercia by king Alfred. as it is written. he had them instructed in all kinds of good mortas. and th e instigator of all good intentions. by the king's command. that she may bear it to her home. and curiously eager to investigate things unknown. despising all present glory and riches. "I will hearken what the Lord God will say concerning me. and shrubs. archbishop of the church of Canterbury. he was frequent in psalm-singing and prayer. He also went to the churches. the king. who. and. in t his emulating the pious. that Al mighty God had made him ignorant of divine wisdom. submitted voluntaril y to his dominion. to teach his workers in gold and artificers of all kinds. which ris ing in summer with the early morning from her beloved nest. to the best o f his ability. in company with foreigners. who is always the inspector of the thoughts of the mind within. from Latin into Saxon. and Armoricans. that which he had not within. loved. his earls and nobles. the invasions of the pagans. and to make others learn them. that he complained to God. so did he direct his eyes afar. he was affable and pleasant to all. who at first. namely. "Seek first the king dom of God and his righteousness. majestic and good beyond all the prec edents of his ancestors. and to all who were admitted to his familiar love. namely. essaying that which pleases most. his falconers. that good desir es may be formed. by his new mechanical inventions. and a most plentiful aider. and suffered to other annoyance either fr om within or without. the wise. wer e ruled. Many Franks. and enriched with money and power. a venerable man. and to exercise hunting in all its br anches. By their teaching and wisdom the king's desires increased unceasingly .f books. besides the privileges which archbishop Plegmund and bishop Werefrith enjoyed in Mercia. king of the Hebrews. unless he also amply supplied that which the man justly and properly wishes to have. herbs. most diligently. and all of them. bi shop of the church of Worcester. his disciple. his priests and chaplains. who were bred up in the royal household. a Merci an by birth. and all these things shall be added unto you. first turned the books of the Dialognes of pope Gregory and Peter. His bishops. continued to carry on the government. namely. -. in the night-time to p ray. Werefrith. and sometimes putting sense for sens e. wisdom and worldly glory.for he would not instigate a man to good intentions. and unknown to his courtiers. a man well versed in divine scripture. asked wisdom of God. and he attended t o it with sedulity and solicitude. to recite the Saxon b ooks. as it is written. yet he was harassed by daily and nightly affliction. Frisons. to build houses. Scots. and endowe d with wisdom. and amon g other things. hawkers and dog-keepers. secretly. and seek without." But God. Moreover.

and when I had given him a pledge to return at the appointed time. a venerable man. a violent fever seized me in the city of Winchester. wher efore he sent messengers beyond the sea to Gaul. let me have your service in part: spend six months of the year with me here. he commanded such men as these to read books to him. if in a ny manner I could secure the notice and friendship of the king. Deguus. and among other familiar conversation. I arrived in the country of the Saxons. and devoted myself to his service. (47) who often plundered that monastery and the parish of St. on the condition that I should remain with him six months in every year. and by the advice and conse nt of all my friends. and Brocmail and Fernmail. My complaint left me. thre e months in Britain and three in Saxony. who live on the right hand. for he had not yet learned to rea d any thing. After our departure. either continuously. he said. By the teaching of these men the king' s mind was much enlarged. and the o ther six in Britain. and mos t learned in holy scripture. with all the inhabitants of the region of Demetia. though I knew not why. on the fourth day we left him and returned on horseback towards our own country. king of Gleguising. unless by compulsion. (48} and sometimes expelled the pr elates. At the appointed time. and there I first saw him in the royal vill. and assure him that. and to inquire the cause of my delay. adorned with every kind of ecclesiastical discipline and good morals. But the king's commendable avarice could not be gratified even in this. I promised him th at. (49) my relation. with such a r eply as should be agreeable to him as well as advantageous to me and mine. king Hem eid. In these times. Night and day. if I recovered from my infirmity. and he enriched and honoured them with much influence. (42) priest and monk. for the benefit of that holy place. had submitted to the dominion of the King. whenever he had leisure. and myself. I also came into Saxony out of the furthest coasts of Wester n Britain. and long before. and were gratified. and skilled in many other arts. Upon this." At length. and crowned. however. when I perceiv ed that he was anxious for my services. at least. I sent a second messenger to tell him the cause of my delay. and of all who dwelt t herein. He also obtained from thence John. and learned in all kinds of literary science.. that I shou ld leave those sacred places in which I had been bred. if my life was spared. all the countries on the right hand side of B ritain belonged to king Alfred and still belonged to him. and he sent messengers to hasten my journey. to leave every thing which I possess ed on the left. I would return to him after six months. without hope of recover y. wherefore he possessed a knowledge of every book. son of Ris. I replied that I could not inca utiously and rashly promise such things. a man of most energetic talents. if I could spend six months with him at once. to procure teachers. which in Saxon is called Sussex. or alternately. compelled by the violenc e of the six sons of Rotri. With this answer he was satisfied. "I could not even promise that easily or hastily without the advice of my friends. Howel als o. At that time. I could not fulfil my promise of visiting h im. and good singe r. and he promised he wuld give more than an equivalent for it in his own dominions. As I was unable to ride to him." To this. and when I had proposed to go to him through many intervening provinc es. "If you cannot accede to this. or western bank of the Severn. for he never suffered himself to be without o ne of them. for the sake of any earthly honour and power. ki . for it seemed to me unjust. For instance. though of himself he could not yet understand anything of books. sons of Mouric. I replied. therefore. (46) For my friends hoped that they sho uld sustain less tribulation and harm from king Hemeid. I wou ld fulfil what I had promised. (4 5) and at last ordained. under the guidance of some of that nation. and he inv ited from thence Grimbald. night and day. (44) He received me with kindness. wh ere I lay for twelve months and one week. which is called Dene. he asked me eagerly to devote m yself to his service and become his friend. I did as I had promised to the king. educated. (43) also priest and monk. as they expelled archbishop Novis.

The king received him honourably. after the burning of the cities and the slaying of the people. adding t hese words. son of Tendy r. compelled by the violence and tyranny of earl Ethered and of the M ercians. during which I read to him whatever books he liked. either himself to read books. even as t he king with his men could protect himself. besides gifts every day. When therefore I had come into his presence at the royal vill. of their own accord sought king Alfred. in every kind of worldly wealt h. Alfred. earl of Mercia. those who desired his friendship. called in Saxon. bu t by the merciful favour of God. for in the course of time he unexpectedly ga ve me Exeter. but that I might certify to those who are igno rant. I call God to witness. he called me to him at twilight. obtained power. Ethere d. and presented him with many gifts. because he was unwi lling hereafter to give me greater. also. as far as the bridge. which it would be too long to enumerate here. called Leonaf ord. or both money and friendship. he then at once gave me permission to ride to those two rich monasteries and afterwards to return to my own country. In the year of our Lord's incarnation. (51) and on that same day he delivered to me those two monasteries with all the things that were in them. King of the Anglo-Saxons. and in like way. of incense. Nor was it in vain that all these princes gained the friendship of the king. directing their ships to the river called the Seine. and went into the country of the Western Franks. with all the diocese which belonged to him in Saxony (52) and in C ornwall. that I have not done so. and Anarawd. amid hi s many other occupations of mind and body. that he did not give me these trifling presents. the army so often before mentioned again fled the countr y. They besieged that city a whole year . voluntarily turned a nd submitted themselves to his dominion. who before had been dispersed everywhere. for the city is situated on a small island in the middle of the river. succeeded in getting what they wanted. 886. in the same way as Et hered with the Mercians. came into king Alfred's presence and eagerly sought his friendship. and a silken pall of great value. of his own accord sought the government of the aforesaid king. that he should be obedient to the king's will in all respects. to which king all the Angles and Saxons.ngs of Gwent. But all of them gained his love and guardianship and defence from every quarter. king of Brecon. and such a s he had at hand. how profuse he is in giving. or were in captivity with the pagans. And when I frequently asked his leave to depart. But let no one suppose that I have mentioned these presents in this plac e for the sake of glory or flattery. and there they wintered and measured out their camp. compelled by the force of the same sons of Rotri. on the same condition. that they might prevent the inhabitants from making use of it. and could in no way obtain it. or to obtain greater honour. from which he received no good but harm. He gave it into the custody of his son-in-law. for this is his most usual custom. lest they should make my reader tired. and the brave defence of citizens. at length abandoning the friendship of the Northumbrians. the army cou ld not force their way inside the walls. and a lead for a strong man. and gave me tw o letters. those who desired money. For those who desired to augment their worldly power. Thu s he became subject to the king with all his people. . I was honourably received by him. Ambresbury (50) and Banwell. son of Rotri. w ith his brother. In the same year. received him as his so n by confirmation from the bishop's hand. without number. honourably rebuilt the city of London. that they might enjoy his gover nment and protection from him against their enemies. gained money.eighth sin ce the birth of Alfred. and sailed up it as far as the city of Paris. on Christmas eve. and remained that time with him at his co urt eight months. in which was a long list of all the things which were in two monaster ies. at length when I had made up my mind by all means to demand it. both night and day. or to l isten whilst others read them. Helised. which was the thirty. an d made it again habitable.

Beorngar and Guido. although the number of scholars was smaller than in ancient time. and those countries which are in that part of the mountains. and forms of praelection instituted by the same Grimbald. Rodulf the inner parts of the kingdom. sailed up the river Se ine under the bridge. they arrived at a place called Chezy . and drove each other out of their dominions. where they wintered one year. on his arrival. He therefore le ft them with this decision. modes. but they did not keep these large dominions in peace. went the way of all flesh. six weeks before he died. though the five kings were appointed im mediately on the death of Charles. Kentigern. at length. went to Oxford to put an end to the controversy. betw een Grimbald. Et . D uring three years there had been no great dissension between them. as was Arnulf. and also. by the undoubted testimony of ancie nt annals. but there was a secret enmity which afterwards broke out with great atrocity. In the same year in which that [pagan] army left Paris and went to Chezy. refused altogether to embr ace the laws. but not without much labour. at the time when he went through Britain to preach against the Pelagian heresy. clearer than th e light itself. where they left the Seine. and ordered a tomb to be carried to Winchester. with those learned men whom he had brought with him. In the following year they entered the mouth of the river Ionna [Yonne]. and preserve their own institutions.(53) [In the same year there arose a foul and deadly discord at Oxford. Lombardy. in which he proposed. as for instance by Saint Gildas. he wonderfully approved o f the customs and institutions above-mentioned. who had all grown old there in literature. therefore. Grimbald. his brother's son. and. Arnulf received the countries o n the east of the river Rhine. listened to both sides carefully. They also proved and showed. Nenni us. immediately depa rted to the monastery at Winchester. and others. Melkinus. To appease this quarrel. the above mentioned army of the pagans. (54) which had been recently founded by Kin g Alfred. following for a long time the course of the Mar ne. because they could not succeed against it. The substance of the dispute was this: the old scholars contended. that his bones should be laid in the vault which had been made under the chancel of St. Oda the we stern part. for none of these four kings was hereditary on his father's side in his share o f the kingdom.] In the year of our Lord's incarnation 887. and endured much trouble in hearing the arguments and co mplaints which were brought forwards on both sides. but the principal rank in the kingdom justly and deservedly devol ved on Arnulf. In tho same year Charles. that Saint Germa nus had come to Oxford. then. but Arnulf. who. leaving the city of Pa ris uninjured. which was the thirty. After his death five kings were appointed. that each party should follow their own counsel. Such. was the division of the kingdom. that literature had flourished at Oxford before the coming of Grimbald. a royal vill. which church the same Grimbal d had built from its foundations. and exhorted them again and again with pio us and wholesome admonitions to cherish mutual love and concord. until they reached the mouth of the river Materne [Marne]. The other four kings promised fidelity and obedience to Arnulf. having bee n informed of the strife by a messenger from Grimbald. because several had been driven away by the cruelty and tyranny of the pagans. The king. displeased at this. save only that he committed an unworthy offence against his uncle . not without doing much damage to the coun try. with unheard-of humili ty. of stone polished with great care. and there remained one year. that invincible king Alfred. and the kingdom was split in to five parts. for they twice fought a pitched battle. that the orders and institutions of that place had been sanctioned by certain pious and learned men. and stopped there half a year. and often mutually ravaged their kingdoms. and happil y administered everything there in peace and concord. Peter's church in Oxford. as was proper. yet the empire remained in the hands of Arnul f. had expelled him from his kingdom.ninth of ki ng Alfred's life. after this life. and the old s cholars whom he had found there. king of the Franks.

earl of Wiltshire. remember me when thou comest into t hy kingdom!" for it was only at the end of his life that he began to learn the r udiments of the Christian faith. talking o n all kinds of subjects. and on that same day. between that happy robber and the king." so must I be watchful. "Lord. began. and address ed me with a thoughtful mind. on one and the same day. king of the Anglo-Saxons. . But the king. but that I may explain this more fully to those who are ignorant. as usual. But as has already been written by a certain wise man. he flew here and there. and perceiving his ingenuous benevolence. and I gladly made haste to get ready a sheet. cried. and by degrees passes to greater things. because he carefully kept it at hand day and night. as he was hanging n th e blessed cross. Martin (Nov. and prayers which he had read in his youth. aye. although mixed one with another. I gave. inspired by God. no small consolation therein. and found out other quotations which pleased him. But I could not find any empty space in that book wherein to write th e quotation. carried to Rome the alms of king Alfred and of the S axons. 11) . and f ound. though in dissimilar manner. like a most productive bee. who had implanted such a love of wisdom in the kin g's heart. and to interpret in Saxon. who recognized his Lord. In the same year Alfred. endure with pain and sorrow that which he is suffering. "Of watchful minds are they whose pious care It is to govern well. so that t he sheet became full. he was eager at once to read. wherefore I made a litt le delay. and he continued to learn the flowers collected by certain masters. But what can he do. and deservedly so. and from that time we da ily talked together. I wrote therein. until he had eagerly and unceasingly collected many various flowers of d ivine scriptures. asking questions. Upon his urging me to make has te and write it quickly.helhelm. wherein the daily courses and psalms." said h e. we shall be glad that we have kept them apart. Now when that first quotation was copied. saluting him with his bodily eyes only. boun dless thanks to Almighty God. "Are you willing that I should write tha t quotation on some leaf apart? For it is not certain whether we shall not find one or more other such extracts which will please you. with which he thickly stored the cells of his mind. He heard it attentively with both his ears. as I had anticipated. in the beginning of which I wro te what he bade me. wherever there is suffering. because elsewhere he was all pierced with nails. This book he called his ENCHIRIDION or MANUAL. until it became almost as large as a psalter. to read and to interpre t. were written. Hearing this. if he cannot save himself or escape thence? Or by what art can he remain the re and improve his cause? He must. "The just m an builds upon a moderate foundation. I said to him. in that I just now drew a kind of comparison or simil arity. though in secret. as h e went. so often before mentioned . the Lord of all men. and it happened that I read to him a quotatio n out of a certain book. I will rela te the cause of this long delay in beginning. for it was already full of various matters. and devo ut desire of studying the words of divine wisdom. and to red uce them into the form of one book. showing me at the same moment a book which he carr ied in his bosom. as he was then able. whether he will or no. according as it is written. and." Thus. as he told me." "Your plan is good. On a certain day we were both of us sitting in the king's chamber. and if that should so hap pen. for the cross is hateful to every one. therefore. and then to teach others. principally that I might stir up the bright intellect of the king to a higher acquaintance with the divine testimonies. even as we read of that happy r obber. no less than three other quotations which pleased him. began to study t he rudiments of divine Scripture on the sacred solemnity of St. and he commanded me to write the same quotatio n in that book. by divine inspiration.

as often happened. were never finished. next to God and the king. therefore. owing to the sluggishness of the people. and command. when they were disobedient. servant-men. What shall I say of the cities and towns which he restored. (55) he has been constantly afflicted with most severe attacks of an unknown complaint. which is a place surrounded by impassable marshes and rivers. h e would reprove them severely.Now the king was pierced with many nails of tribulation. from the Tyrrhenian sea to the far thest end of Ireland? (56) For we have seen and read letters. which. i nto the safe and much desired harbour of his country. he was disturbed by the quar rels of his friends. so that he has not a moment's ease either from sufferin g the pain which it causes. or by a bri dge laboriously constructed between two other heights. his wars. and grieved at their incautious neglect of the king's commands. as is fitting . the constant invasions of foreign nations. and handsomely rebuilt by the king's command in more f itting places? Besides the disease above mentioned. and they praised the royal wisdom wi th one voice. and his long patience was exhausted. but he alone. strove to steer his ship. sustained by the divin e aid. when it was too late. these admonitions of the king were either not fulfilled. or from the gloom which is thrown over him by the ap prehension of its coming. as they have not wherewith to sustain even their own lives. who. favourite ministers. and censure at pleasure their vulgar folly and ob stinacy. or redeem those who are captive from captivity? For they are not able even to assist those who have escaped. sad to say. exhortation. had the whole government of the kingdom. of beautiful work. earls. nobles. one for monks at Athelney. namely. by command of the afore . I speak of repentance when it is too late. servant. for I will say nothing of the castles which he ordered to be built. without any interval of qui et. the thwarters of the royal ordinances rep ented when it was too late. nay. like a skilful pilot. because the hostile troops broke in upon them by land and sea. wonderfully erected b y his command. wher eby numberless persons have had cause for too much sorrow when many insidious ev ils have been wrought. and suffered them not to faint or hesitate. wh ere none had been before? Of the royal halls and chambers. concerning the erection of castles. and tried with all their power to fulfil what they had before refu sed. children. or were begun late at the moment of necessit y. for from the twentieth year of his age to the present year. and of others which he built. I cannot with advantage now omit to speak. at last. which is his fortieth. what is th e use of hateful repentance when their kinsmen are dead. Of his fixed purpose of holy meditation. though sailing amid the manifold waves and eddies of this present life. on the testimony of Scripture. being b egun late. respect. and blushed at their non-performance of his commands . For all his bishops. which were sent to him by Abel the patriarch of Jerusalem. Moreover.maids. But. whereas he often thought of the necessities of his soul. but which. laden with much wealth. among the other good d eeds to which his thoughts were night and day turned. they may be bitter ly afflicted and roused to sorrow by the loss of fathers. though almost all his crew were tired. though it w as for the common necessity of the kingdom. he ordered that two monast eries should be built. were a just cause of disquiet. continually received from him instruction. and other things generally usef ul to the whole kingdom. They repented. minis ters. though placed in th e royal seat. b y which he was continually harassed by land and sea. and. accompanied with p resents. and so ended less to the advantage of those who put them in execution. For. who would voluntarily endure little or no toil. and incessant occupations of government? Of the da ily embassies sent to him by foreign nations. What shall I say of his repeated expeditions against the pagans. at the western end of whi ch bridge was erected a strong tower. and in this way he directed their attention to the common interests of the kingdom. in the midst of prosperity a nd adversity he never neglected. and prefects. wives. where no one can enter but by boats. with stone and wood? Of the royal vills constructed of stone. rem oved from their old site. and furniture and household stuff. But though by these means. and they cannot aid the m.

For w hereas he had two servants. being children. It was for this reason that king Alfred sought to gather monks of different kinds t o place in the same monastery. the above men tioned John. and excited by some se cret jealousy. and vengeance. as w e have heard say. Gauls by birth. for what reason I cannot say. that in the night. At length. of whom. therefore. In the middle of the nig ht John. be . When. to await in the church for the arrival of the abbat. John (57) the priest and monk. and two of the aforesaid monks. and their imitators be reproved with all odium. and wait for the moment when the abbat should enter the church alone. that they may be censured and avoid ed. The two ruffians rushed upon him with drawn swords. frustrated in great part the wicked design of the wicked men. he procured as many as possible of the same Gallic race. wicked deeds are there related. because he had no one of his own nation. by the instigation of the devil. adding crime to crime.said king. as no one directed the rule of that kind of life in a regula r way. and in this monastery he collected monks of all kinds. yet. whom he had hired out of Gaul. when he should come alone t o pray. as if he had been slain whilst on a visit to her. he ordered to be taught in the same monastery. they circumvented and betrayed their master. and by no means the hindmost of them all. if he had not b een a follower of a better calling. because for many previous years the love of a monastic life had utterly decayed from that na tion as well as from many other nations. and shuttin g it behind them as usual. or because that people abounde d in riches of every kind. that. who was willing to enter the monastic life. and knelt before the altar. as usual. as it is said. as tares and darnel are sown among the wheat: good deeds are recorde d that they may be praised and imitated. some of whom. which I would utterly con sign to oblivion. with a promise of impunit y. they taught these suc h wicked practices. I have myself seen a young lad of pagan birth who was educated in that monast ery. But he. the two armed ruffians were placed. and. This was their machi nation. and that their imitators may be held in all honour. finding that he had not as large a number as he wished. and at a later period to be admitted to the monastic habi t. though many monasteries still remain in that country. they should make their way into the church armed. and throw it down before the house of a certai n harlot. who could neith er choose good nor avoid evil in consequence of their tender years. for throughout the whole of S cripture the base deeds of the wicked are interspersed among the blessed deeds o f the just. and the night which had been fixed on as most fit was come." But the divine mercy. and try to slay him on the spot. For once upon a time. First he placed there as abbat. except children. from every qua rter. There was also a deed done once in that monastery. then certain priests and deacons from beyond the sea. They then should drag his lifeless body out of The church. and so looked with contempt on the monastic life. noble and free by bir th. which always delights to aid the innocent. "The last error shall be worse tha n the first. For at first. entered the church to pray. became so embittered in secret against their abbat. contempt. although it is an unworthy deed. the whole of the evil counsel had been explained by those w icked teachers to their wicked agents. and. hide themselves therein. either from the invasions of foreigners whi ch took place so frequently both by sea and land. being a man of a brave mind. without any one's knowing of it. no sooner heard the sound of the robbers. so that it should not turn ou t in every respect as they had proposed. not unacquainted with the art of self-defence. bending his knees. the men should rush o n him with hostility. like Jews. an old Saxon by birth. bow before the holy altar. and dealt him some severe wounds. when all men were enjoying the sweet tran quillity of sleep. and placed them therein. a certain priest and a deacon.

and also spent two months at home. near the eastern gate of Shaftesbury. Encouraged by this example. the ruffians who perpetrated it. what more he could do to augment and show forth his pi ety. and as Solomon had said. The third company also gave place to the first in the same w ay. dwell in that monastery. These things being thus disposed of. and the others who knew nothing of the matter. and he kne w that the Lord had kept his promise. and wishing to exceed the practices of his predecess ors." . and were relieved by the second company. sought to betray t heir master. and. where they spent two months. These two edifices were enriched by the k ing with much land. at the end of whi ch they returned to their homes. were taken and put in prison. where. that he might.fore he saw them. struggled against them. they came to a di sgraceful end. as adhered to with equally beneficial result. But God's mercy did not allow so bold a dee d to pass unpunished. roused by the noise. and all who urged them to it. who returned to their homes. until their services were again wanted. was plac ed in it as abbess. also. for he himself knew no better. but before they got there those ruffians escaped. for he had heard it out of the b ook of the law. whom he had collected from every nation. that the Lord had promised to restore to him tenfold. shout ing as loud as he could. as was his practice. the king began. and thoughtfully conceived for the public benefit . that his officers should first divide into tw o parts the revenues of every year. what he had begun wisely. and also to his mi nisters. and had actually restored to him tenfold. The king's at tendants were most wisely distributed into three companies. When this division was made. Ethelgiva. and ordered that one-third of it should be paid to his soldiers." he considered how he might divide aright that which he had vowed to God. night and day. At the end of the second month." that is. as he thought that no men would da re to attempt such a deed. the second to the operatives. than he rose up against them before he was wounded. his counsel he ordered with wise policy. wounded before any of his people cou ld come to his help. he vowed humbly and faithfully to devote to God half his services. and also half of all his wealth. Let us now return to our narrative. But. and this vow. Another monastery. whether t hey asked money of him or not. With her many other noble ladies bound by the rules of the m onastic life. men skilled in every kind of construction. he skilfully and wisely endeavoured to fulfil. as far as human discretion can perceiv e and keep. w ith his usual caution. and had about him in la rge numbers. such as lawfully and justly came an nually into his possession. was built by the same king as a residence for nuns. crying out that they were devil s and not men. in the same way. Thus was the threefold division of the co mpanies arranged at all times in the royal household. rushed together to t he doors of the church. according to what is written: "God lo veth a cheerful giver. The monks raised the old man. he cheerfully gave to each with wonderful munific ence according to their respective merits. avoid that which scripture warns us against: "If you offe r aright. To these therefore was paid the first of the three portions aforesaid. he assigned the first part to worldly uses. the third portion was as signed to foreigners who came to him out of every nation far and near. which could come only from above. nor did those two deceitful monk s shed tears less than the innocent. His attendants. in a fainting condition. as well as personal property. to consider within himself. He was. both day and night. so that the first co mpany should he on duty at court for one month. however. like Jews. to ea ch according to their respective dignities and peculiar services. but do not divide aright. the nobles who dwelt at court where they discharged divers duties. for so the king's family was arranged at all times into three classes. the third company relieved the second . by various tortures. and both those two who. "The heart of th e king is in the hand of God. and his own daughter. you sin. leavin g the abbat half dead. were frightened when t hey heard the word devils. an d carried him home with tears and lamentations.

was wonderfully made of wood. b y a door made of horn. each of equal length. th e plankings. (58) he caused the c haplains to make six candles thereof. voluntarily. and horn. which shone as brightly without as within. as we before said. as we have mentioned above. This lantern. "Whosoever will give alms. and so by a useful and cunning invention. a night and day. and h e caused it to be weighed in such a manner that when there was so much of it in the scales. for t he opening of the lantern was also closed up. he at length. and to those who therein had dedicated themselves to God's service. The third portion was assigned to the school. but sometimes when they would not continue burning a who le day and night. on account of the storms and clou ds. so that each candle might have twelve divisions (59) marked longitudinally upon it. and also during some years. as we mentioned a little before. North umbria. he began to consider. and by night a candle was put into it. but. according to the king's command. Gregory should be followed: "Give not much to whom you should give little. therefore. which. the fissures of the divisions. when these were extinguished. and. Moreover. to give up to God the half of his services. by a useful and shrewd invention. before the sacred relics of many of God's elect. neither more nor less. When the king had arranged these matters. or the wall. nor nothing to whom somethi ng. the king. by night and by day. on the condition that the first part should be disc reetly bestowed on the poor of every nation who came to him. by what means and without any difficulty. and sometimes also in Ireland. or the thin canvass of the tents. then." The second of the four portions was given to the two monasteries which he h ad built. lasted four a nd twenty hours. eager to give up to ." and prud ently began to reflect what he could offer to God from the service of his body a nd mind. inasmu ch as he could not equally distinguish the lengths of the hours by night. other s were lighted. nor little to whom much. and was not extinguished by the wind. withou t fail. in turn.But the second part of all his revenues. relying on t he mercy of God. Gaul. when skilfully planed till it is thin. they then unavoidabl y burned out and finished their course before the appointed time. lighted in succession. Armorica. from the violence of the wind. to the churches and servants of God dwelling in Britain (Wales). When all these things were properly arranged. consisting of many of the nobility of his ow n nation. on acc ount of the darkness. and was included in the receipts of the exchequer. and with all his might. th erefore. which he had studiously collected together. After long reflection on these things. Cornwall. with ready devotion. By this plan. he promised. or afterwards. commanded his chaplains to supply wax in a sufficient quantity. ordering his ministers to divide i t carefully into four parts. according to his means. he either distrib uted to them beforehand. bodily a nd mental. ought to begin from himself. gave to God. he. for he proposed to consecrate to God no less out of this than he had do ne of things external to himself. which always accompanie d him wherever he went. as far as his infirmity and his means would allow. those six candles burned for twenty-four hours. and on this subject he said that. he ordered a lantern to be beautifully constructed of wood a nd white ox-horn. the king there fore considered by what means he might shut out the wind. six candles. as far as human discretion could guarantee. The fourth portion was for the use of all the neighbouring monasteries in all Saxony and Mercia. he might discharge the promised tenor of his vow until his deat h. which came yearly into his possessi on. as would equal the weight of seventy-two pence. he remembered that sentence of div ine scripture. and ofttimes of the day. nor something to whom nothing. the remark of pope St . is no less trans parent than a vessel of glass. which blew day and night without intermission through the doors and windows of the churches. till the same hour that they were lighted the preceding evenin g. if life and success should not fail him. By this contrivance.

his own freedman or serva nt. and this especially for the sake of the poor. t hat they had not learned these things in their youth. in Cornwall. Old Saxons. you have neglected the studies and labour s of the wise. If he perceived there was iniquity in those judgments. therefore. or. whereas by God's favour and mine. so that. (60) ENDNOTES: (39) Or. would allow him. and no wonder. they are unable. Guerir's church was at Ham Stroke. to whose interest. choosing rather labo riously to acquire the knowledge of a new discipline than to resign their functi ons. wonderf ul to say. (40) St. or through others of his faithfu l servants. who happily could be instructed in the liberal arts. whether thro ugh ignorance or malevolence. as he had vowed.. and in consequence of this pertinacious and obstinat e dissension. . he discreetly and moderately reproved their inexperience and folly in such terms as these: "I wond er truly at your insolence. however relu ctant. and they lament ed with deep sighs. prefects. if there was no other person to be had. But if any one was conscious of injustice on his side in the suit. whenever he had any leisure. he commanded his son. why they had judged so unjustly. He strove also. that in their youth they had never a ttended to such studies.God the half of his daily service. showed himself a minute investigator of the truth in all his judgments. for the benefit of both the noble and the ignoble. if he had one." At these words the earls and prefects would tremble an d endeavour to turn all their thoughts to the study of justice. i. He inquired into almost all the judgments wh ich were given in his own absence. for all the powerful and noble of that co untry had turned their thoughts rather to secular than to heavenly things: each was more bent on secular matters. if the judges ackn owledged they had given judgment because they knew no better. to his own profit. if his abilit y on the one hand. and officers. all desired to have the judgment of the king. Either. for the king was a most acute investigator in passing sente nce. that. or hatred of others. yet with his own good will he never would consent to go. so that hardly one of them admitted the justice of what had been decided by the earls and prefects. and his malady on the other. that in the king's presence no part of his wrong would be hi dden. or one of hi s kinsmen. he summ oned the judges. or endeavour more zealously to study the lessons of wisdo m. besides him. almost all his earls. and asked them mildly. or also for the desire of money.e. Such are my commands. than on the public good. he ever was wonderfully attentive. whether they wer e just or unjust. For in the whole Kingdom the poor. day and night. we have explained to the knowledge of the aforesaid king. though by law and agreement he was compelled. who often perversely quarrelled at the meetings of his earls and of ficers. whilst they execrated their own lot. in his own judgments. but if any one of them from old age or slowness of talent was unable to mak e progress in liberal studies. you have occ upied the rank and office of the wise. and both sides sough t at once to gratify their desire. and now. though unlearned from t heir cradles. For he knew. when they are old . and more also. were sedulously bent upon acquiring learning. as he was in all other things. either through his own agency. At length. and they blessed the young men of our days. to go before the king. whether for the love or fear of any one. among other duties of t his life. to recite Sa xon books before him night and day. had few or no protectors. though wishing to learn them. But this skill of young and old in acquiring letters. in their inmost hearts. whom he had some time before advanced to the office of reading. throughout all his dominion. at once give up the discharge of the temporal duties which you hold.

(48) Or St. (43) John had been connected with the monastery of Corbie.(41) An interesting account of St. David's. Degnus is meant the "diocese" of St. (45) This expression alludes to the tonsure. (50) Amesbury. which was undergone by those who became clerks. There are also other villages of the same name near East Bourne. and therefore cannot translate. tamen pro viribus. in Wilts. Hence it is said." which I do not understand. David's. (44) East Dene (or Dean) and West Dene are two villages near Chichester. Neot's". Probably by the "parish" of St. (49) Archbishop of St. (47) A petty prince of South Wales. "Et illa adjuvaretur per rudimenta Sancti Degui in omni causa. Dewi. (52) Wessex. . Neot will be found in Gorham's "History and Antiquities of Eynesbury and St. (51) In Somersetshire. For a description of the ecclesiastical tonsure see Bede's "Ecclesiastical History" p. that Alfred gave to Asser the whole parish (omnis parochia) of Exeter. 160. Omer's. (46) The original Latin continues. (42) Grimbald was provest of St.

(58) Denarii." says Sir Francis Palgrave. Nov.): "Asser's Life of King Alfred" (Oxford University Press. excerpts from the writings of King Alfred.H. "afford singular proof of the uncertainty arising from various modes of computation. 1904). 1983). OTHER TRANSLATIONS -Keynes. Simon & Michael Lapidge (Ed. `Indictione quarta. record. et Feria quarta. in another passage. and the date of 901 has therefore been preferred. 900.D. London. The concurrents of Florence of Worcester seem to afford the greatest certainty. "Spain". in 900. in 889.' Simon of Durham. (57) Not the celebrated John Scotus Eregina. (Ed. The `Saxon Chronicle' and Florence of Worcester agree hi placing the event in 901. with more precision. in this passage. copy.D. that king Alfred died on the 26th of October. in the thirtieth of his reign. Includes translations of Asser's "Life of King Alfr ed". (59) Unciae pollicus. Oxford. W. the last. 888. "The different dates assigned to the death of Alfred. (54) Hyde Abbey.(53) The whole of this paragraph concerning Oxford is thought to be an interpolation. (56) Wise conjectures that we ought to read Hiberiae. & Trans.): "Alfred the Great" (Peng uin Classics. because it is not known to have existed in more than one MS. (55) This must consequently have been written in A. in a note or appendix written by a later hand. 5 Cal. "Ireland". (60) Some of the MSS. and a number of miscellaneous or . and the Saxon Chronicle. A. The first `six nights before All Saints'. and not Hiberniae." SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY: ORIGINAL TEXT -Stevenson.

: "Anglo-Saxon England" (Oxford University Press. Contains translations of several works by King Alfred.Text 17. 1996). 1975. Ev eryman Press. Anonymous: "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (Trans. Stenton. Sir Frank W. G. London. 1985. 1972). James Ingram. Contains side-by-side tra nslations of all nine known texts. 1943. 1947. London. Garmonsway. RECOMMENDED READING -Anonymous: "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (Ed. London . & Trans. 1823.iginal sources on the riegn of King Alfred. 1993). O xford. Michael (Trans. Reissued: Online Medieval and Classical Library E.N.): "Anglo-Saxon Prose" (Everyman Press. 1953. Rev. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. 1979. . 1971) Swanton.

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