The Fourth Book of The Chronicle of Æthelweard

Ælfthryth looks on as Edward is stabbed to death: from a Victorian edition of Foxe's Book of MartyrsÆthelweard, an ealdorman during the late tenth century, was the author of a Latin Chronicle extending to the year 975. Up to the year 892 he is largely dependent on the other sources with a few details of his own; later he is largely an independent source. The following section republishes the fourth book of this chronicle, which details events between 860 and 975. The dates are put in brackets.

Behold, the prologue of the fourth book begins

The three preceding books having been finished in the above pages, it is now our task to direct our pen to the fourth, in which the presence of profit is greater, and [in which] the origin of those descended from our family is indicated more clearly. And although I may seem to be sending you a burdensome quantity of reading, darling sister of all my desire, may I not be judged too severely by you, but as [these things] were written in our love for you, so may they be read in your love for us. May God, who is praised in trinity and in undivided power, preserve you under the shadow of his wings, and your companions with you. Amen.

The prologue ends

The chapters of the fourth book begin

1. The rule of the sons of King Æthelwulf, Æthelbald and Æthelbyrht
2. The reign of King Æthelred
3. The reign of King Ælfred and his warfare
4. The rule of King Eadweard and his warfare
5. The reign of King Æthelstan, his warfare and deeds
6. The rule of King Eadmund
9. The reign of King Eadgar
The rule of King Eadweard and his murder
The reign of King Æthelred and his deeds

The book begins

1. After the death of King Æthelwulf, his sons were put into power, Æthelbald over the West Saxons, and Æthelbyrht over the people of Kent, and the East, South and Middle Saxons. [860] King Æthelbald, however, died at the end of a period of five years, and Æthelbyrht, his brother, succeeded to either dominion. In his days, a very large fleet of the pagans touched land, and they sacked the royal city called Winchester. And Osric, ealdorman of Hampshire, and Æthelwulf, ealdorman of Berkshire, met them, and when battle was joined, they put the pagans to flight, and won the victory. [864, A865] Four years after King Æthelbald’s death, however, the pagans established a base on the Isle of Thanet. They promised peace to the people of Kent, and they, on their part, produced money, being unaware of what was to follow. But the Danes broke the treaty, made a sally in the night without exciting notice, and ravaged the whole eastern area of Kent.[865, A866] King Æthelbyrht died after a year, and his body rests in peace in the monastery known as Sherborne.

2. Æthelred succeeded to the kingdom after the death of his brother Æthelbyrht. In the same year, the fleets of the tyrant Inwær arrived in the land of the English from the north, and they wintered among the East Angles. And there they strengthened their armaments, mounted their horses, and concluded peace with the natives. [866, A867] After a year, that army, leaving the eastern area, was transported across the river Humber into the province of the Northumbrians, and to the city of York, which is now called Eoforwic by the common people. And there was then internal dissension on a large scale among the people of that country. They [were] moved by rage to such a degree that they expelled their king Osbyrht from the throne which was properly his. They agreed their plan, and all unanimously elected an ignoble king. And they gave their attention to this matter quickly, that is to take up arms against the weapons of the nearby army. They gathered large contingents, and approached the enemy, who were now lodged within their rampart. One after the other they worked up their fury. When they began fighting, there was, alas, a slaughter of both nations, and the kings fell there. The survivors concluded peace with the enemy force. In the same year Eanwulf, ealdorman of Somerset, passed away, and also Bishop Ealhstan, fifty years after his succession to his see in the bishropric called Sherborne. And there his body now rests, and that of the ealdorman just mentioned in the monastery called Glastonbury. [867, A868] After a year, the army of pagans, whose arrival we mentioned above, laid out a camp in Nottingham, and wintered there, and Burgred, king of the Mercians, and his nobles granted them [the right of] remaining without challenge. [868, A869] At the end of a year, that army went up to the city of York, and there also they laid out a camp in the winter. [869, A870] After a year they moved again, and struck across the kingdom of the Mercians to East Anglia, and there laid out a camp in the winter season at Thetford. And King Eadmund decided on war against them, and after a brief interval he was killed by them there. And his body lies entombed in the place called Bury St Edmund’s. And then the barbarians had the blessing of victory as the death of their king grew near, for their king, Inwær, also died in the same year. Archbishop Ceolnoth also passed away in that year and was buried in Canterbury. [871] After the lapse of one year, the army of barbarians mentioned above set out to Reading from thence [i.e. from East Anglia], and above all that most impious people [were] considering attacking the West Saxons with war. And three days after they had come there, two of their earls marched forward. Now by means of the equestrian equipment which nature had denied them, having cast their fleet from mind, they ranged through fields and woods as swift indeed as scouts or as the eternal spirit. But Ealdorman Æthelwulf [came] in their way, and although his band was small, their reserves of courage were mighty. They aimed their weapons, put the enemy to flight and rejoiced in the spoils of victory. Then after the passage of four days, King Æthelred arrived with an army, and an indescribable battle broke out violently between them. Now one troop and now another went into action with sharp weapons. Ealdorman Æthelwulf fell, who had won the victory shortly before, and the barbarians were victors. The body of the ealdorman mentioned above was carried away secretly, and was taken into Mercia, to the place called Northworthig, but in the Danish language Derby. After four days, King Æthelred with Ælfred, his brother, renewed the fight against the whole pagan force in Ashdown, and losses occurred on a great scale on either side. Afterwards, however, King Æthelred won the crown of victory. Our task is to reveal one by one the names of the leaders who were killed there Berse, one of their kings, Sihtric the elder, one of their earls, also Sihtric the younger, Earl Osbearn, Earl Fraena, Earl Harold, and as I may say, all the nobler youth of the barbarians fell there, so that neither before nor after has such a slaughter been heard of since the race of the Saxons won Britain in war. Amid these events they [i.e. the West Saxons] took heart again, and after fourteen days went into position for battle in the place called Basing. They soon joined battle against one another, and the barbarians gradually got control of the field, and conceived among themselves their customary hope; the royal force was withdrawn, and then the captains [of the barbarians] held the battlefield, and won the victory, but took no spoil. Then after two months, the above-mentioned King Æthelred, and with him his brother Ælfred, renewed the fight against an army of barbarians on a wide front at Merantun, and a multitude was killed on either side. The barbarians won the blessing of victory. Then fell Bishop Heahmund, killed by the sword, and his body lies buried at Keynsham. Many fell in the same battle, and [many were] put to flight, concerning whom it seems extravagant for us to indulge in expansive detail. Then after the occurrence of the above-mentioned battle, after the Easter of that year, King Æthelred, from whose root I spring, passed away. Having just retraced my steps, O revered cousin Matilda, I will begin to give you confirmation with added clarity. Just as a ship which has been carried through the turmoil of the waves for great distances, which she has explored on her careful voyage, comes at last to port, so we enter [port] as if in the manner of sailors, and as I formerly stirred your memory by means of my original letter, and similarly also in the introductory passages of this book, so I stir it again without incivility, and now at this moment send again something on a larger scale for your reflection concerning the stock of our family, taking full advantage of the zeal of your sincere self, although I break the course of my work constrained not by necessity, but by love of your loving self. So setting aside my less even style, I will speak of the sons of Æthelwulf. The brothers were five in number. The first was Æthelstan who had taken up the government at the same time as his father. The second was Æthelbald, who was also king of the West Saxons. The third was Æthelbyrht, king of the people of Kent. The fourth was Æthelred, who succeeded to the kingdom after the death of Æthelbyrht, and who was my great-great-grandfather. The fifth was Ælfred, successor after all the others to the entire kingdom, who was your great-great-grandfather. Accordingly, sweet cousin Matilda, having gathered these things from remote antiquity, I have made communication to you, and above all I have given attention to the history of our race as far as these two kings, from whom we derive our descent. To you, therefore, I dedicate this work, most beloved, spurred by family affection. But as for other people, may they be banned from our feasts as unworthy, if they receive them with scorn; otherwise, I urge all men that the things put before them be read in love. Therefore let us return to our neglected subject, and the death of the above-mentioned King Æthelred. The years of his reign were five, and he was buried in the monastery called Wimborne.

3. When these things had happened, Ælfred got the kingdom after the death of his brothers. He was the last son of King Æthelwulf [to rule] over all provinces of Britain. An innumerable summer army arrived at Reading, and opened hostilities vigorously against the army of the West Saxons. And the ones who had long been ravaging in that area were at hand to help them. The army of the English was then small, owing to the absence of the king, who at that time was attending to the obsequies of his brother. Although the ranks were not at full strength, high courage was in their breasts, and rejoicing in battle they repel the enemy some distance. However, overcome with weariness, they desist from fighting, and the barbarians won a degree of victory which one might call fruitless. Afterwards, they dispersed, carried off plunder, and ravaged places. And in their hateful period of ascendancy there were three time three battles [fought] by the English, not including those mentioned above, and eleven of their consules fell, whom they usually call earls, and one king. Then in the same year the West Saxons made peace with them. Then down to the encampment of the army of barbarians at Reading, and to the death of King Æthelred and the succession of Ælfred his brother, the number of years seventy-one had passed since their grandfather King Ecgbyrht had taken the kingdom under control, and forty-seven since the Mercians and West Saxons waged civil war at the place called Ellendun, and King Ecgbyrht enjoyed the blessing of victory. Furthermore, the years were twenty-six from when a battle was fought at the Parret, twenty from the fight which took place by the forest called Acleah, and from the arrival of the pagans in the territories of the East Angles five years, and their arrival in Reading [was] then no distant land­mark in time.[872] After the lapse of one year from when they come to Reading, they laid out a camp near London, but the Mercians settled with them an agreement in treaty-form, and fixed cash payments. [873] After a year the barbarians changed their encampment to the area near Lindsey in the place called Torksey. The Mercian people renewed their peace treaty with them. [874] After the revolution of one annual circle, the barbarians at length changed their encampment to Repton, and expelled King Burgred from his kingdom across the sea. Already the days were added up to twenty-two years from when he ruled his ancestral realms [first]. They [i.e. the Danes] broke the peace and ravaged the fields of Mercia. The above-mentioned king did not lose hope in Christ, but began to travel, desiring [to reach] Rome, and died there. His body, placed in a worthy tomb, lies in the church of Christ’s holy mother, which now has the name ‘English schools’. At that time Ceolwulf held the kingdom of the Mercians. [875] Then after a year the barbarians divided up the kingdom for themselves into two shares. A leader of the barbarians by name Healfdene took the area of the Northumbrians. There he made encamp­ments in winter time near the river called Tyne, and there they ravaged the country all round, and made war quite often on the Picts and the Strathclyde Britons. Oscytel, Guthrum and Annuth (these were three kings of theirs) went from Repton to the place called Cambridge, and were encamped there twelve months. Then in the summer of that year Ælfred went out to sea with a naval force, and a barbarian fleet met him, tall swift ships in number seven. The battle began, the Danes fled over the water, and one ship was captured by the king. [876] After a year, the tyrant Healfdene divided the kingdom of the Northumbrians, having subdued all men. And in the course of that year, the army which had been in Cambridge encamped in the same position as the West-Saxon army, a thing which they had not previously done, near the town called Wareham, and the greater part of that province was ravaged by them. Moreover the king made a treaty of peace with them, and gave them money at the same time. They themselves, as a matter of fact, gave him hostages, who then seemed choice men in the regard of their kings, and they made an oath to him upon their sacred armlet, a thing they never did elsewhere, to leave their [i.e. the West-Saxon] shores as soon as possible. But they contravened the peace and suddenly broke the agreement, and [877] in the following year entered Devon on a wide front, and there laid out a camp in winter-time in the city of Exeter. Then their ships raised sail, and put to sea, but a grim tempest fell on them, a large part [of the fleet] was lost, in number a hundred tall ships, near the cliff known as Swanage. The barbarians made peace treacherously, being in the same frame of mind as before, hostages were given more than were asked, and the leaders promised King Ælfred to withdraw from the jurisdiction of his boundaries. They acted accordingly, and they ravaged the kingdom of the Mercians, drove away the natives everywhere, and with one involved movement encamped in the town called Gloucester. So in [the course] of that year …[878] That very foul people broke the agreement made under strong oath with the West Saxons, and made their winter quarters in Chippenham. By riding through [the lands of] many, they would have subjected them, [but] so far as the inhabitants were not [already] quiescent under their domination, they all quickly changed their minds. Then they [i.e. the Danes] with cruel force expelled others across the sea to the shores of Gaul. King Ælfred, indeed, was then in greater straits than was befitting. Æthelnoth, the ealdorman of Somerset, also lurked in a certain wood with a small force. And they made something of a fort in the island of Athelney, which lies in a marsh. The above-mentioned king did not, in truth, cease from daily battle against the barbarians with the help of the men of Somerset only. He had then no other reinforcements except servants who had royal maintenance. In the same year, the brother of Healfdene and of the tyrant Inwær arrived with thirty ships in the country of the West Saxons, and besieged Odda, ealdorman of Devon, in a certain fortress, and within and without battle raged. The king of the barbarians fell, and eight hundred men with him. In the end the Danes held the field of victory. While these things were going on, King Ælfred after Easter of that year joined battle at Edington against the army stationed at Chippenham, and they [the West Saxons] enjoyed the blessing of victory. After action was broken off, the barbarians promised peace, asked for a treaty, gave hostages and swore an oath, while their king accepted the water of baptism, and King Ælfred, acting as witness, received him from the font in Aller, the marshy island. Ealdorman Ethelnoth, also, purified him at Wedmore after baptism, and there King Ælfred showered honours upon him. [879] Then after a year from when the army of pagans left the city of Gloucester, it set out for the town of Cirencester, and encamped in the winter season. And in the course of the same year, the sun was darkened. [880] After a year from when Phoebus lost his brightness, the above­mentioned army left Cirencester, and departed to the country of the East Angles, and laid out a camp there, and brought all the inhabitants of that land under the yoke of their overlordship. And then fourteen years had passed since the barbarians wintered in the fields of the above-mentioned country, and were provided with horses. Then in the same year, after the country in question was subjected to them, the ones who formerly laid out a camp at Fulham sought Gaul by ship, and stationed themselves in the place called Ghent. [881] After one year they sought to go farther, the forces of the Franks sprang in arms against them, and enjoyed the blessing of victory, putting the barbarian army to flight. [882] After the passage of one year, the above mentioned army crossed into the upper Meuse territory, and laid out a camp at Elsloo. In the same year King Ælfred boarded ship, and met four light vessels. Two were overcome by him and destroyed. The remaining two laid down their arms and submitted. [883] When the year was passing away, the above-mentioned army set out up into the districts by the Scheldt to Conde, and took a winter station there. [884] When the course of one year was completed, the hostile pest of the above-mentioned army, of the throng, departed into the upper regions of the Somme to Amiens, and there laid out a camp in the winter season. [885] After a year they divided by lot among themselves the fields of the country itself into two parts, one adjoining Louvain and the other Rochester, and they besieged those towns. They also built other small camps for themselves, and already lack [of men] was the lot of the natives, until King Ælfred arrived with a West-Saxon force. At last the foul plague was overcome. They [i.e. the English] sought help, and the king gave his orders to the leader of the men of Sarauara. With many horses they [i.e. the Danes] sought the shore and their proper stations [i.e. their ships.] Some of them sought places beyond the sea. In the course of this same year under discussion, those left behind renewed their exchange of hostages with the English, and by deceit had to their account twice in the year raids in the afforested parts of the country where the river Thames touches its southern shores. The foul people who then held East Anglia gave support, and suddenly made an expedition outside their own boundaries to Benfleet. There the allied force was divided by a grim quarrel, some remained, some sought places beyond the sea. And in the same year the above­mentioned King Ælfred sent a fleet to East Anglia, and as soon as they arrived, ships sixteen in number met them at the mouth of the Stour. These were cleared by force of arms and the officers were put to the sword. The rest of the pirate fleet came on its course in their way. They plied their oars, and then dropped their rowing-gear. The clashing weapons shone on the sea. Finally the barbarians achieved victory. In the same year died Charles the Magnificent, king of the Franks, killed by a violent death before the completion of one year [of his reign], and his uterine brother, who at that time had been ruling the western part of Gaul, succeeded him. And both were sons of Louis, who had the entire empire previously, and his ultimate days were at the time of the above-mentioned eclipse. And he was the son of Charles the Great, whose daughter Æthelwulf, king of the English, had married. And in the course of that year an onset was made which raged along the coasts of the Old Saxons with a naval [force] of the barbarians, and fighting took place twice on the same occasion. Finally the Saxons were the victors. Frisians were also present in the battle on that occasion. In the same year Charles the Lesser succeeded to the government over all the western parts of Gaul, and [countries] extending to the Tyrrhene Sea, and as I may say over the dominions of his great-grandfather in all directions, except the province of Brittany. And his father Louis was the brother of the middle Charles, whose daughter Æthelwulf, king of the English, married. And they were both the sons of Louis, and Louis was the son of Charles the Great, and Charles the Great was the son of Pippin. In the same year, the blessed Pope Marinus passed away, who set free the school of the English, which is now at Rome, by previous arrangement with King Ælfred, and who on three occasions sent gifts made from the blessed cross of Christ, in whom the salvation of the world beams forth. In the course of the same year, the pest we spoke of above broke the treaty and attacked King Ælfred in arms. [886] Then after a year they sought the lower parts of Gaul, and forthwith established themselves by the river Seine before winter time. Meanwhile the city of London was besieged by King Ælfred, and all men and especially the race of the Saxons, excepting the barbarian race and those then held captive in their power, received the man as their saviour whom savage internal war could overcome through neither guile nor open challenge. Ealdorman Æthelred was set up there by the above-mentioned king to guard the citadel, after the ranks of the garrison had been strengthened. [887] The army which was then ravaging Gaul cut its way through the bridge of the fortress of Paris, and ravaged the whole nearby Seine country as far as the Marne, and beyond the upper part of this as far as Chezy, and there they made three winter camps. In the same year Charles, king of the Franks, died and Arnulf, his nephew, had succeeded to the kingdom seven weeks before the death of his uncle. Then the empire was divided into five, and a corresponding number of kings were active in it. Yet everything was done by Arnulf’s permission, and they [the kings] promised to be under his control, and [to be] supporters of his government, because they were not from the male line as he was, not one of them. And after taking up the government, he resided on the east side of the river Rhine, but Rudolph got the middle parts of the empire, Odo the western part, and Berengar and Guido the kingdom of the Lombards from the boundary of the Alps, and there they waged civil war, one people harried the other, often the lands of both were in confusion, nor was the outlook ever favourable in their territories. Then in the same year in which the army settled on the bridge at Paris, Ealdorman Æthelhelm went to Rome on behalf of the people of the church of the English, having received a large sum of money from the king…. [888] . . . in the same year Queen Æthelswith died. Archbishop Æthelred also died in the course of that year, and Æthelbald, ealdorman of Kent…[890] With the expiry of the course of one year, Byrnhelm took alms to Rome for the people, and above all [those] of the West Saxons and of King Ælfred. And then Guthrum expired, the king of the Scandinavian English, who had also taken the name Æthelstan from the font, [receiving it] from his godfather King Ælfred. And his settlement lay principally in East Anglia, for there he had had the first colony. In the same year the above-mentioned army moved from the river Seine to the place called in the vulgar tongue St Lo, of which the position is between the Bretons and Franks. At their meeting with these people, the Bretons gave battle and won the blessing of victory, and they pursued them to the winding course of a certain river, where many were drowned in the waters. [891] After an interval of one year, the bands of the above-mentioned army entered the eastern empire of the Franks King Arnulf, meeting them, began a battle of the mounted [arm], before their fleets arrived on the sea. A force of East Franks was there, also Saxons and Bavarians. The pagans took to flight. In the same year three chosen men, on fire with belief, withdrew from the Irish nation. They sewed a boat from bull’s hide in secret, they provided a week’s food for themselves, they kept sail up seven days and seven nights, and they arrived in their boat in Cornwall. Leaving their boat, which had not been brought by tackle nor by ample shoulders, but rather by the nod of him who sees all things, they went to Ælfred, king of the English. And the witan rejoiced equally with the king at their arrival. Then they directed their course to seek Rome as Christ’s teachers are wont frequently to do. Their minds proposed going thence to Jerusalem. Soon the more eminent of them departed this life. One brother set apart under guardianship the relics of his companion and associate, and it would be right to describe in this compendium all the great miracles performed. Another returned home, shaking the dust from his feet, and thus stated the names of the absent ones: first Dubhslaine, second Macbeathadh, and third Maelinmhein, a man blossoming in the arts, learned in literature, an eminent teacher of the Irish. And in the same year after Easter about Rogation time the comet star appeared, which some rustics think to be a reflection of sorry times in the past; but in this the best proven method of calculation of the philosophers is seen: they point to the things it foretells as about to be, as has been borne out in many cases. [892] Then after a year from when the barbarians made war against King Arnulf, they went to Boulogne, and there built a fleet, and set their sterns to the wind. The vessels sped to England and into the harbour of the Lympne. The ships were stationed at the place called Appledore in east Kent, and there they destroyed a fort of primitive structure, because there was [only] a small band of rustics in it. They made their winter quarters at that place. In the course of this year a fleet and [with it] Haesten arrived by the banks of the river Thames, and they built a fort in the bounds of Kent at the place called Milton and there they laid out a camp for all winter. [893] And now the number of years 900 was complete except for seven from the glorious birth of our Saviour. Afterwards at Easter of that year the army which had come from Gaul, following the thickets of a huge wood called Andred by the common people, spread as far as Wessex, and gradually wasted the adjacent provinces, that is Northamptonshire and Berkshire. These matters then came to the notice of Prince Eadweard, the son of King Ælfred. He was at that time moving forces through the southern part of England [? or through Sussex]. Later, however, they [the Danes] penetrated Wessex. He [the prince] came clashing in dense array into collision with the foemen at Farnham. There was no delay, the young men leaped against the prepared defences, and having slipped on their armour they duly exulted, being set free [from care] by the prince’s arrival, like sheep brought to the pastures by the help of the shepherd after the customary ravaging. The [barbarian] king was wounded there, and they drove the filthy bands of his supporters over the river Thames to the areas of the north. Then the Danes were held besieged in Thorney, an island of marshy land. King Ethelred set out from the city of London, and gave the prince help. The barbarians asked for peace, and for conditions set out by treaty. Hostages were given. They undertook to go from the realm of the king mentioned above under obligation. Deed and word together were completed at the same time. They set out then for East Anglia, the former realm of blessed King Eadmund, under the protection of the army stationed in that area, and their ships sped round from the harbour of the Lympne to [meet] them at Mersea, a place in Kent, and they made a good voyage. In the courses of the same year Haesten made a rush with a large force from Benfleet, and ravaged savagely through all the lands of the Mercians, until he and his men reached the borders of the Welsh; the army stationed then in the east of the country gave them support, and the Northumbrian one similarly. The famous Ealdorman Æthelhelm made open preparation with a cavalry force, and gave pursuit together with the West-Saxon army under the general­ship of Æthelnoth. And King Æthelred of the Mercians was afterwards present with them, being at hand with a large army. They launched mutual strife with a clash of the two nations, the young Englishmen on that occasion kept possession of the field of victory in the end. These events, which occurred at Buttington, are vaunted by aged men. Furthermore, their effort was evidently an ineffective one for the Danes. They confirmed peace again, they did not refuse hostages, they promised to leave that region. In the same year the rampart of the Danes at Benfleet fell down, having received a downward push from the natives, who divided ancient treasure among themselves. When these events had so happened, Sigeferth the pirate arrived from the land of the Northumbrians with a large fleet, ravaged twice along the coast on that one expedition, and afterwards sailed back to his own land. [894] Then, when two years were complete from when a huge fleet arrived from the fortress of Boulogne bound for Lympne, a town of the English, Ealdorman Æthelnoth set out from Wessex. In the city of York he contacted the enemy, who possessed large territories in the kingdom of the Mercians, on the western side of the place called Stamford. This is to say, between the streams of the river Welland and the thickets of the wood called Kesteven by the common people. [895] When the course of one year was at an end Guthfrid, king of the Northumbrians, died on the nativity of St Bartholomew, the apostle of Christ [24 August]. And his body is entombed in the city of York in the high church. [899] Then after four years from when the above-mentioned hateful king died there was a disturbance on a very great scale among the English, that is the bands who were then settled in the territories of the Northumbrians. Then in the same year, there passed from the world Ælfred, king of the Saxons, unshakable pillar of the people of the west, a man full of justice, active in war, learned in speech, steeped in sacred literature above all things, for from the ornate Latin tongue he turned unknown numbers of books into his own language with such variety and richness, that not only for scholars, but for any who might hear it read, the tearful passion of the book of Boethius would be in a measure brought to life. The king died on the seventh day before the festival of All Saints [25 Oct.], and his body rests in peace in the city of Winchester. Only say, reader, ‘Saviour Christ, save his soul’.

4. Then Eadweard, successor to the monarchy, and son of the above-mentioned king, was crowned with the royal crown on Whitsunday, having been elected by the chief men, [900] when the hundredth one of the years was passing, from when his great-grandfather Ecgbyrht enjoyed royal authority in his own person. In the same year Æthelbald in the fortress of London undertook episcopal authority over the city of York. And the year-number completed since the arrival of Christ, who assumed human flesh, was fully the 900th successive one. [902] When the customary passage of the year had been twice completed, hostilities soon developed at the Holme against the eastern enemy five days after the feast of the Holy Mother. They clashed shields, brandished swords, and in either hand the spear was much shaken. And there fell Ealdorman Sigewulf, and Sigehelm, and a part of the Kentish gentry nearly all-inclusive; and Haruc, king of the barbarians, was there let down to the lower world. Two princes of the English, soft of beard, then left the air they breathed ever before, and entered a strange region below the waves of Acheron, and so did much of the nobility on either side. In the end the barbarians were victors, and held the field with exultation. [905] Then after a period of three years the number of years 6100 was passed from the foundation of the world. [908] After a period of three years Archbishop Plegmund dedicated a very high tower in the city of Winchester. Its foundations had been laid a little before that time in honour of Mary, mother of God. In the course of the same year the bishop just mentioned conveyed alms to Rome for the nation and also for King Eadweard. [909 = 910] After a year the barbarians broke the peace with King Eadweard, and with Æthelred, who then ruled the Northumbrian and Mercian areas. The fields of the Mercians were ravaged on all sides by the throng we spoke about, and deeply, as far as the streams of the Avon, where the boundary of the West Saxons and Mercians begins. Then they were transported across the river Severn into the west country, and there they ravaged great ravagings. But when rejoicing in rich spoil they returned towards home, they were still engaged in crossing to the east side of the river Severn over a pons to give the Latin spelling, which is called Bridgnorth by the common people. Suddenly squadrons of both Mercians and West Saxons, having formed battle-order, moved against the opposing force. They joined battle without protracted delay on the field of Wednesfield; the English enjoyed the blessing of victory ; the army of the Danes fled, overcome by armed force. These events are recounted as done on the fifth day of the month of August. There fell three of their kings in that same ‘storm’ (or ‘battle’ would be the right thing to say), that is to say Healfdene and Eywysl, and Inwær also hastened to the hall of the infernal one, and so did senior chiefs of theirs, both jarls and other noblemen. [910 = 911] After a year Æthelred, lord of the Mercians, passed from the world and was buried in peace in the fortress known as Gloucester. [912 = 913] When the established period of a biennium was expiring, Eadwulf died in the lands of Northumbria. He ruled as reeve of the town called Bamborough. [913 = 914] After a year a very large fleet arrived at the shores of the English, in the estuary and the streams of the Severn, but the fighting was not seriously protracted there in that year. Then the major part of that army went to Ireland, formerly called Britannis by the great Julius Caesar. [914 = 915] Then after the seasons of one year, the nativity of Christ fell on a Sunday. And the calmness of that winter turned out so great as nobody can remember, either before or after. [917 = 918] When a period of three years was complete Æthelflæd, the king’s sister, passed from the world, and her body was buried in the fortress of Gloucester. [926, A925] When the ninth year afterwards was completed, Eadweard, king of the English, died. This was the end: here ended his name and his perseverance.

5. In the year in which the very mighty king Æthelstan enjoyed the crown of empire, 926 years were passed from the glorious incarnation of our Saviour. [939 = 937] After thirteen years a huge battle was fought against the barbarians at Brunandun, wherefore it is still called the ` great battle’ by the common people. Then the barbarian forces were overcome on all sides, and held the superiority no more. Afterwards he [i.e. the king] drove them off from the shores of the ocean, and the Scots and Picts both submitted. The fields of Britain were consolidated into one, there was peace everywhere, and abundance of all things, and [since then] no fleet has remained here, having advanced against these shores, except under treaty with the English. [941 = 939] After a period of two years Æthelstan, a king worthy of honour, left the world.

6. After him Eadmund succeeded to the relinquished kingdom. [948 = 944, 946] After the passage of the seventh year, Bishop Wulfstan and the ealdorman of the Mercians expelled certain traitors, that is to say Rægnald and Anlaf, from the city of York, and reduced them to submission to the king mentioned above. And in the same year Queen Ælfgifu died, the wife of King Eadmund, and afterwards she was held to be a saint. And at her tomb, with the help of God, down to the present day, very many miracles take place in the monastery known by the common people as Shaftesbury. King Eadmund also died in the same year on the festival of St Augustine the Less, who is also the apostle of the English [26 May]. He exercised rule for six years and a half.

7. His successor to the kingdom was Eadred, his brother. And to him all the Northumbrians submitted, and the Scots swore oaths and immutable faith. [955] These things having happened so, he himself departed in peace on the natal day of the blessed Clement, pope and martyr [Nov. 23]. He had held the kingdom nine years and a half.

8. His successor in the kingdom was Eadwig, and he for his great beauty got the nick-name ‘All-fair’ from the common people. [959] He held the kingdom continuously for four years, and deserved to be loved.

9.The Edger was crowned to rule, an admirable king. [The work then concludes with two poems, and a note from Æthelweard ending this book.]

This text is from The Chronicle of Æthelweard, ed. A. Campbell (London, 1962)


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