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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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