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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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