The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Part 1 out of 6
This electronic edition was edited, proofed, and prepared by
Douglas B. Killings (DeTroyes@AOL.COM), July 1996.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
Originally compiled on the orders of King Alfred the Great,
approximately A.D. 890, and subsequently maintained and added to
by generations of anonymous scribes until the middle of the 12th
Century. The original language is Anglo-Saxon (Old English), but
later entries are essentially Middle English in tone.
Translation by Rev. James Ingram (London, 1823), with additional
readings from the translation of Dr. J.A. Giles (London, 1847).
At present there are nine known versions or fragments of the
"Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" in existence, all of which vary
(sometimes greatly) in content and quality. The translation that
follows is not a translation of any one Chronicle; rather, it is
a collation of readings from many different versions.
The nine known "Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" MS. are the following:
A-Prime The Parker Chronicle (Corpus Christi College,
Cambridge, MS. 173)
A Cottonian Fragment (British Museum, Cotton MS. Otho B
B The Abingdon Chronicle I (British Museum, Cotton MS.
Tiberius A vi.)
C The Abingdon Chronicle II (British Museum, Cotton MS.
Tiberius B i.)
D The Worcester Chronicle (British Museum, Cotton MS.
Tiberius B iv.)
E The Laud (or "Peterborough") Chronicle (Bodleian, MS.
F The Bilingual Canterbury Epitome (British Museum,
Cotton MS. Domitian A viii.) NOTE: Entries in English
H Cottonian Fragment (British Museum, Cotton MS. Domitian
I An Easter Table Chronicle (British Museum, Cotton MS.
Caligula A xv.)
This electronic edition contains primarily the translation of
Rev. James Ingram, as published in the Everyman edition of this
text. Excerpts from the translation of Dr. J.A. Giles were
included as an appendix in the Everyman edition; the preparer of
this edition has elected to collate these entries into the main
text of the translation. Where these collations have occurred I
have marked the entry with a double parenthesis (()).
While I have elected to include the footnotes of Rev. Ingram in
this edition, please note that they should be used with extreme
care. In many cases the views expressed by Rev. Ingram are
severally out of date, having been superseded by almost 175 years
of active scholarship. At best, these notes will provide a
starting point for inquiry. They should not, however, be treated
ORIGINAL TEXT --
Classen, E. and Harmer, F.E. (eds.): "An Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
from British Museum, Cotton MS. Tiberius B iv." (Manchester,
Flower, Robin and Smith, Hugh (eds.): "The Peterborough Chronicle
and Laws" (Early English Text Society, Original Series 208,
Taylor, S. (ed.): "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: MS B"
OTHER TRANSLATIONS --
Garmonsway, G.N.: "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle" (Everyman Press,
London, 1953, 1972). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. Contains side-by-side
translations of all nine known texts.
RECOMMENDED READING --
Bede: "A History of the English Church and People"
(Penguin Classics, London, 1955, 1968).
Poole, A.L.: "Domesday Book to Magna Carta" (Oxford University
Press, Oxford, 1951, 1953)
Stenton, Sir Frank W.: "Anglo-Saxon England" (Oxford University
Press, Oxford, 1943, 1947, 1971)
ORIGINAL INTRODUCTION TO INGRAM'S EDITION 
England may boast of two substantial monuments of its early
history; to either of which it would not be easy to find a
parallel in any nation, ancient or modern. These are, the Record
of Doomsday (1) and the "Saxon Chronicle" (2). The former, which
is little more than a statistical survey, but contains the most
authentic information relative to the descent of property and the
comparative importance of the different parts of the kingdom at a
very interesting period, the wisdom and liberality of the British
Parliament long since deemed worthy of being printed (3) among
the Public Records, by Commissioners appointed for that purpose.
The other work, though not treated with absolute neglect, has not
received that degree of attention which every person who feels an
interest in the events and transactions of former times would
naturally expect. In the first place, it has never been printed
entire, from a collation of all the MSS. But of the extent of
the two former editions, compared with the present, the reader
may form some idea, when he is told that Professor Wheloc's
"Chronologia Anglo-Saxonica", which was the first attempt (4) of
the kind, published at Cambridge in 1644, is comprised in less
than 62 folio pages, exclusive of the Latin appendix. The
improved edition by Edmund Gibson, afterwards Bishop of London,
printed at Oxford in 1692, exhibits nearly four times the
quantity of the former; but is very far from being the entire (5)
chronicle, as the editor considered it. The text of the present
edition, it was found, could not be compressed within a shorter
compass than 374 pages, though the editor has suppressed many
notes and illustrations, which may be thought necessary to the
general reader. Some variations in the MSS. may also still
remain unnoticed; partly because they were considered of little
importance, and partly from an apprehension, lest the commentary,
as it sometimes happens, should seem an unwieldy burthen, rather
than a necessary appendage, to the text. Indeed, till the editor
had made some progress in the work, he could not have imagined
that so many original and authentic materials of our history
still remained unpublished.
To those who are unacquainted with this monument of our national
antiquities, two questions appear requisite to be answered: --
"What does it contain?" and, "By whom was it written?" The
indulgence of the critical antiquary is solicited, whilst we
endeavour to answer, in some degree, each of these questions.
To the first question we answer, that the "Saxon Chronicle"
contains the original and authentic testimony of contemporary
writers to the most important transactions of our forefathers,
both by sea and land, from their first arrival in this country to
the year 1154. Were we to descend to particulars, it would
require a volume to discuss the great variety of subjects which
it embraces. Suffice it to say, that every reader will here find
many interesting facts relative to our architecture, our
agriculture, our coinage, our commerce, our naval and military
glory, our laws, our liberty, and our religion. In this edition,
also, will be found numerous specimens of Saxon poetry, never
before printed, which might form the ground-work of an
introductory volume to Warton's elaborate annals of English
Poetry. Philosophically considered, this ancient record is the
second great phenomenon in the history of mankind. For, if we
except the sacred annals of the Jews, contained in the several
books of the Old Testament, there is no other work extant,
ancient or modern, which exhibits at one view a regular and
chronological panorama of a PEOPLE, described in rapid succession
by different writers, through so many ages, in their own
vernacular LANGUAGE. Hence it may safely be considered, nor only
as the primaeval source from which all subsequent historians of
English affairs have principally derived their materials, and
consequently the criterion by which they are to be judged, but
also as the faithful depository of our national idiom; affording,
at the same time, to the scientific investigator of the human
mind a very interesting and extraordinary example of the changes
incident to a language, as well as to a nation, in its progress
from rudeness to refinement.
But that the reader may more clearly see how much we are indebted
to the "Saxon Chronicle", it will be necessary to examine what is
contained in other sources of our history, prior to the accession
of Henry II., the period wherein this invaluable record
The most ancient historian of our own island, whose work has been
preserved, is Gildas, who flourished in the latter part of the
sixth century. British antiquaries of the present day will
doubtless forgive me, if I leave in their original obscurity the
prophecies of Merlin, and the exploits of King Arthur, with all
the Knights of the Round Table, as scarcely coming within the
verge of history. Notwithstanding, also, the authority of Bale,
and of the writers whom he follows, I cannot persuade myself to
rank Joseph of Arimathea, Arviragus, and Bonduca, or even the
Emperor Constantine himself, among the illustrious writers of
Great Britain. I begin, therefore, with Gildas; because, though
he did not compile a regular history of the island, he has left
us, amidst a cumbrous mass of pompous rhapsody and querulous
declamation some curious descriptions of the character and
manners of the inhabitants; not only the Britons and Saxons, but
the Picts and Scots (6). There are also some parts of his work,
almost literally transcribed by Bede, which confirm the brief
statements of the "Saxon Chronicle" (7). But there is,
throughout, such a want of precision and simplicity, such a
barrenness of facts amidst a multiplicity of words, such a
scantiness of names of places and persons, of dates, and other
circumstances, that we are obliged to have recourse to the Saxon
Annals, or to Venerable Bede, to supply the absence of those two
great lights of history -- Chronology and Topography.
The next historian worth notice here is Nennius, who is supposed
to have flourished in the seventh century: but the work ascribed
to him is so full of interpolations and corruptions, introduced
by his transcribers, and particularly by a simpleton who is
called Samuel, or his master Beulanus, or both, who appear to
have lived in the ninth century, that it is difficult to say how
much of this motley production is original and authentic. Be
that as it may, the writer of the copy printed by Gale bears
ample testimony to the "Saxon Chronicle", and says expressly,
that he compiled his history partly from the records of the Scots
and Saxons (8). At the end is a confused but very curious
appendix, containing that very genealogy, with some brief notices
of Saxon affairs, which the fastidiousness of Beulanus, or of his
amanuensis, the aforesaid Samuel, would not allow him to
transcribe. This writer, although he professes to be the first
historiographer (9) of the Britons, has sometimes repeated the
very words of Gildas (10); whose name is even prefixed to some
copies of the work. It is a puerile composition, without
judgment, selection, or method (11); filled with legendary tales
of Trojan antiquity, of magical delusion, and of the miraculous
exploits of St. Germain and St. Patrick: not to mention those of
the valiant Arthur, who is said to have felled to the ground in
one day, single-handed, eight hundred and forty Saxons! It is
remarkable, that this taste for the marvelous, which does not
seem to be adapted to the sober sense of Englishmen, was
afterwards revived in all its glory by Geoffrey of Monmouth in
the Norman age of credulity and romance.
We come now to a more cheering prospect; and behold a steady
light reflected on the "Saxon Chronicle" by the "Ecclesiastical
History" of Bede; a writer who, without the intervention of any
legendary tale, truly deserves the title of Venerable (12). With
a store of classical learning not very common in that age, and
with a simplicity of language seldom found in monastic Latinity,
he has moulded into something like a regular form the scattered
fragments of Roman, British, Scottish, and Saxon history. His
work, indeed. is professedly ecclesiastical; but, when we
consider the prominent station which the Church had at this time
assumed in England, we need not be surprised if we find therein
the same intermixture of civil, military, and ecclesiastical
affairs, which forms so remarkable a feature in the "Saxon
Chronicle". Hence Gibson concludes, that many passages of the
latter description were derived from the work of Bede (13). He
thinks the same of the description of Britain, the notices of the
Roman emperors, and the detail of the first arrival of the
Saxons. But, it may be observed, those passages to which he
alludes are not to be found in the earlier MSS. The description
of Britain, which forms the introduction, and refers us to a
period antecedent to the invasion of Julius Caesar; appears only
in three copies of the "Chronicle"; two of which are of so late a
date as the Norman Conquest, and both derived from the same
source. Whatever relates to the succession of the Roman emperors
was so universally known, that it must be considered as common
property: and so short was the interval between the departure of
the Romans and the arrival of the Saxons, that the latter must
have preserved amongst them sufficient memorials and traditions
to connect their own history with that of their predecessors.
Like all rude nations, they were particularly attentive to
genealogies; and these, together with the succession of their
kings, their battles, and their conquests, must be derived
originally from the Saxons themselves. and not from Gildas, or
Nennius, or Bede (14). Gibson himself was so convinced of this,
that he afterwards attributes to the "Saxon Chronicle" all the
knowledge we have of those early times (15). Moreover, we might
ask, if our whole dependence had been centered in Bede, what
would have become of us after his death? (16) Malmsbury indeed
asserts, with some degree of vanity, that you will not easily
find a Latin historian of English affairs between Bede and
himself (17); and in the fulness of self-complacency professes
his determination, "to season with Roman salt the barbarisms of
his native tongue!" He affects great contempt for Ethelwerd,
whose work will be considered hereafter; and he well knew how
unacceptable any praise of the "Saxon Annals" would be to the
Normans, with whom he was connected (18). He thinks it necessary
to give his reasons, on one occasion, for inserting from these
very "Annals" what he did not find in Bede; though it is obvious,
that the best part of his materials, almost to his own times, is
derived from the same source.
The object of Bishop Asser, the biographer of Alfred, who comes
next in order, was to deliver to posterity a complete memorial of
that sovereign, and of the transactions of his reign. To him
alone are we indebted for the detail of many interesting
circumstances in the life and character of his royal patron (19);
but most of the public transactions will be found in the pages of
the "Saxon Chronicle": some passages of which he appears to have
translated so literally, that the modern version of Gibson does
not more closely represent the original. In the editions of
Parker, Camden, and Wise, the last notice of any public event
refers to the year 887. The interpolated copy of Gale, called by
some Pseudo-Asserius, and by others the Chronicle of St. Neot's,
is extended to the year 914 (20). Much difference of opinion
exists respecting this work; into the discussion of which it is
not our present purpose to enter. One thing is remarkable: it
contains the vision of Drihtelm, copied from Bede, and that of
Charles King of the Franks, which Malmsbury thought it worth
while to repeat in his "History of the Kings of England". What
Gale observes concerning the "fidelity" with which these annals
of Asser are copied by Marianus, is easily explained. They both
translated from the "Saxon Chronicle", as did also Florence of
Worcester, who interpolated Marianus; of whom we shall speak
But the most faithful and extraordinary follower of the "Saxon
Annals" is Ethelwerd; who seems to have disregarded almost all
other sources of information. One great error, however, he
committed; for which Malmsbury does nor spare him. Despairing of
the reputation of classical learning, if he had followed the
simplicity of the Saxon original, he fell into a sort of measured
and inverted prose, peculiar to himself; which, being at first
sufficiently obscure, is sometimes rendered almost unintelligible
by the incorrect manner in which it has been printed. His
authority, nevertheless, in an historical point of view, is very
respectable. Being one of the few writers untainted by monastic
prejudice (21), he does not travel out of his way to indulge in
legendary tales and romantic visions. Critically considered, his
work is the best commentary on the "Saxon Chronicle" to the year
977; at which period one of the MSS. which he seems to have
followed, terminates. Brevity and compression seem to have been
his aim, because the compilation was intended to be sent abroad
for the instruction of a female relative of high rank in Germany
(22), at her request. But there are, nevertheless, some
circumstances recorded which are not to be found elsewhere; so
that a reference to this epitome of Saxon history will be
sometimes useful in illustrating the early part of the
"Chronicle"; though Gibson, I know not on what account, has
scarcely once quoted it.
During the sanguinary conflicts of the eleventh century, which
ended first in the temporary triumph of the Danes, and afterwards
in the total subjugation of the country by the Normans, literary
pursuits, as might be expected, were so much neglected, that
scarcely a Latin writer is to be found: but the "Saxon Chronicle"
has preserved a regular and minute detail of occurrences, as they
passed along, of which subsequent historians were glad to avail
themselves. For nearly a century after the Conquest, the Saxon
annalists appear to have been chiefly eye-witnesses of the
transactions which they relate (23). The policy of the Conqueror
led him by degrees to employ Saxons as well as Normans: and
William II. found them the most faithful of his subjects: but
such an influx of foreigners naturally corrupted the ancient
language; till at length, after many foreign and domestic wars,
tranquillity being restored on the accession of Henry II.,
literature revived; a taste for composition increased; and the
compilation of Latin histories of English and foreign affairs,
blended and diversified with the fabled romance and legendary
tale, became the ordinary path to distinction. It is remarkable,
that when the "Saxon Chronicle" ends, Geoffrey of Monmouth
begins. Almost every great monastery about this time had its
historian: but some still adhered to the ancient method.
Florence of Worcester, an interpolator of Marianus, as we before
observed, closely follows Bede, Asser, and the "Saxon Chronicle"
(24). The same may be observed of the annals of Gisburne, of
Margan, of Meiros, of Waverley, etc.; some of which are anonymous
compilations, whilst others have the name of an author, or rather
transcriber; for very few aspired to the character of authors or
original historians. Thomas Wikes, a canon of Oseney, who
compiled a Latin chronicle of English affairs from the Conquest
to the year 1304, tells us expressly, that he did this, not
because he could add much to the histories of Bede, William of
Newburgh, and Matthew Paris, but "propter minores, quibus non
suppetit copia librorum." (25) Before the invention of printing,
it was necessary that numerous copies of historical works should
be transcribed, for the instruction of those who had not access
to libraries. The transcribers frequently added something of
their own, and abridged or omitted what they thought less
interesting. Hence the endless variety of interpolators and
deflorators of English history. William of Malmsbury, indeed,
deserves to be selected from all his competitors for the
superiority of his genius; but he is occasionally inaccurate, and
negligent of dates and other minor circumstances; insomuch that
his modern translator has corrected some mistakes, and supplied
the deficiencies in his chronology, by a reference to the "Saxon
Chronicle". Henry of Huntingdon, when he is not transcribing
Bede, or translating the "Saxon Annals", may be placed on the
same shelf with Geoffrey of Monmouth.
As I have now brought the reader to the period when our
"Chronicle" terminates, I shall dismiss without much ceremony the
succeeding writers, who have partly borrowed from this source;
Simon of Durham, who transcribes Florence of Worcester, the two
priors of Hexham, Gervase, Hoveden, Bromton, Stubbes, the two
Matthews, of Paris and Westminster, and many others, considering
that sufficient has been said to convince those who may not have
leisure or opportunity to examine the matter themselves, that
however numerous are the Latin historians of English affairs,
almost everything original and authentic, and essentially
conducive to a correct knowledge of our general history, to the
period above mentioned, may be traced to the "Saxon Annals".
It is now time to examine, who were probably the writers of these
"Annals". I say probably, because we have very little more than
rational conjecture to guide us.
The period antecedent to the times of Bede, except where passages
were afterwards inserted, was perhaps little else, originally,
than a kind of chronological table of events, with a few
genealogies, and notices of the death and succession of kings and
other distinguished personages. But it is evident from the
preface of Bede and from many passages in his work, that he
received considerable assistance from Saxon bishops, abbots, and
others; who not only communicated certain traditionary facts
"viva voce", but also transmitted to him many written documents.
These, therefore, must have been the early chronicles of Wessex,
of Kent, and of the other provinces of the Heptarchy; which
formed together the ground-work of his history. With greater
honesty than most of his followers, he has given us the names of
those learned persons who assisted him with this local
information. The first is Alcuinus or Albinus, an abbot of
Canterbury, at whose instigation he undertook the work; who sent
by Nothelm, afterwards archbishop of that province, a full
account of all ecclesiastical transactions in Kent, and in the
contiguous districts, from the first conversion of the Saxons.
From the same source he partly derived his information respecting
the provinces of Essex, Wessex, East Anglia, and Northumbria.
Bishop Daniel communicated to him by letter many particulars
concerning Wessex, Sussex, and the Isle of Wight. He
acknowledges assistance more than once "ex scriptis priorum"; and
there is every reason to believe that some of these preceding
records were the "Anglo-Saxon Annals"; for we have already seen
that such records were in existence before the age of Nennius.
In proof of this we may observe, that even the phraseology
sometimes partakes more of the Saxon idiom than the Latin. If,
therefore, it be admitted, as there is every reason to conclude
from the foregoing remarks, that certain succinct and
chronological arrangements of historical facts had taken place in
several provinces of the Heptarchy before the time of Bede, let
us inquire by whom they were likely to have been made.
In the province of Kent, the first person on record, who is
celebrated for his learning, is Tobias, the ninth bishop of
Rochester, who succeeded to that see in 693. He is noticed by
Bede as not only furnished with an ample store of Greek and Latin
literature, but skilled also in the Saxon language and erudition
(26). It is probable, therefore, that he left some proofs of
this attention to his native language and as he died within a few
years of Bede, the latter would naturally avail himself of his
labours. It is worthy also of remark, that Bertwald, who
succeeded to the illustrious Theodore of Tarsus in 690, was the
first English or Saxon archbishop of Canterbury. From this
period, consequently, we may date that cultivation of the
vernacular tongue which would lead to the composition of brief
chronicles (27), and other vehicles of instruction, necessary for
the improvement of a rude and illiterate people. The first
chronicles were, perhaps, those of Kent or Wessex; which seem to
have been regularly continued, at intervals. by the archbishops
of Canterbury, or by their direction (28), at least as far as the
year 1001, or by even 1070; for the Benet MS., which some call
the Plegmund MS., ends in the latter year; the rest being in
Latin. From internal evidence indeed, of an indirect nature,
there is great reason to presume, that Archbishop Plegmund
transcribed or superintended this very copy of the "Saxon Annals"
to the year 891 (29); the year in which he came to the see;
inserting, both before and after this date, to the time of his
death in 923, such additional materials as he was well qualified
to furnish from his high station and learning, and the
confidential intercourse which he enjoyed in the court of King
Alfred. The total omission of his own name, except by another
hand, affords indirect evidence of some importance in support of
this conjecture. Whether King Alfred himself was the author of a
distinct and separate chronicle of Wessex, cannot now be
determined. That he furnished additional supplies of historical
matter to the older chronicles is, I conceive, sufficiently
obvious to every reader who will take the trouble of examining
the subject. The argument of Dr. Beeke, the present Dean of
Bristol, in an obliging letter to the editor on this subject, is
not without its force; -- that it is extremely improbable, when
we consider the number and variety of King Alfred's works, that
he should have neglected the history, of his own country.
Besides a genealogy of the kings of Wessex from Cerdic to his own
time, which seems never to have been incorporated with any MS. of
the "Saxon Chronicle", though prefixed or annexed to several, he
undoubtedly preserved many traditionary facts; with a full and
circumstantial detail of his own operations, as well as those of
his father, brother, and other members of his family; which
scarcely any other person than himself could have supplied. To
doubt this would be as incredulous a thing as to deny that
Xenophon wrote his "Anabasis", or Caesar his "Commentaries".
From the time of Alfred and Plegmund to a few years after the
Norman Conquest, these chronicles seem to have been continued by
different hands, under the auspices of such men as Archbishops
Dunstan, Aelfric, and others, whose characters have been much
misrepresented by ignorance and scepticism on the one hand; as
well as by mistaken zeal and devotion on the other. The indirect
evidence respecting Dunstan and Aelfric is as curious as that
concerning Plegmund; but the discussion of it would lead us into
a wide and barren field of investigation; nor is this the place
to refute the errors of Hickes, Cave, and Wharton, already
noticed by Wanley in his preface. The chronicles of Abingdon, of
Worcester, of Peterborough, and others, are continued in the same
manner by different hands; partly, though not exclusively, by
monks of those monasteries, who very naturally inserted many
particulars relating to their own local interests and concerns;
which, so far from invalidating the general history, render it
more interesting and valuable. It would be a vain and frivolous
attempt ascribe these latter compilations to particular persons
(31), where there were evidently so many contributors; but that
they were successively furnished by contemporary writers, many of
whom were eye-witnesses of the events and transactions which they
relate, there is abundance of internal evidence to convince us.
Many instances of this the editor had taken some pains to
collect, in order to lay them before the reader in the preface;
but they are so numerous that the subject would necessarily
become tedious; and therefore every reader must be left to find
them for himself. They will amply repay him for his trouble, if
he takes any interest in the early history of England, or in the
general construction of authentic history of any kind. He will
see plagarisms without end in the Latin histories, and will be in
no danger of falling into the errors of Gale and others; not to
mention those of our historians who were not professed
antiquaries, who mistook that for original and authentic
testimony which was only translated. It is remarkable that the
"Saxon Chronicle" gradually expires with the Saxon language,
almost melted into modern English, in the year 1154. From this
period almost to the Reformation, whatever knowledge we have of
the affairs of England has been originally derived either from
the semi-barbarous Latin of our own countrymen, or from the
French chronicles of Froissart and others.
The revival of good taste and of good sense, and of the good old
custom adopted by most nations of the civilised world -- that of
writing their own history in their own language -- was happily
exemplified at length in the laborious works of our English
chroniclers and historians.
Many have since followed in the same track; and the importance
of the whole body of English History has attracted and employed
the imagination of Milton, the philosophy of Hume, the simplicity
of Goldsmith, the industry of Henry, the research of Turner, and
the patience of Lingard. The pages of these writers, however,
accurate and luminous as they generally are, as well as those of
Brady, Tyrrell, Carte, Rapin, and others, not to mention those in
black letter, still require correction from the "Saxon
Chronicle"; without which no person, however learned, can possess
anything beyond a superficial acquaintance with the elements of
English History, and of the British Constitution.
Some remarks may here be requisite on the CHRONOLOGY of the
"Saxon Chronicle". In the early part of it (32) the reader will
observe a reference to the grand epoch of the creation of the
world. So also in Ethelwerd, who closely follows the "Saxon
Annals". It is allowed by all, that considerable difficulty has
occurred in fixing the true epoch of Christ's nativity (33),
because the Christian aera was not used at all till about the
year 532 (34), when it was introduced by Dionysius Exiguus; whose
code of canon law, joined afterwards with the decretals of the
popes, became as much the standard of authority in ecclesiastical
matters as the pandects of Justinian among civilians. But it
does not appear that in the Saxon mode of computation this system
of chronology was implicitly followed. We mention this
circumstance, however, not with a view of settling the point of
difference, which would not be easy, but merely to account for
those variations observable m different MSS.; which arose, not
only from the common mistakes or inadvertencies of transcribers,
but from the liberty which the original writers themselves
sometimes assumed in this country, of computing the current year
according to their own ephemeral or local custom. Some began
with the Incarnation or Nativity of Christ; some with the
Circumcision, which accords with the solar year of the Romans as
now restored; whilst others commenced with the Annunciation; a
custom which became very prevalent in honour of the Virgin Mary,
and was not formally abolished here till the year 1752; when the
Gregorian calendar, commonly called the New Style, was
substituted by Act of Parliament for the Dionysian. This
diversity of computation would alone occasion some confusion; but
in addition to this, the INDICTION, or cycle of fifteen years,
which is mentioned in the latter part of the "Saxon Chronicle",
was carried back three years before the vulgar aera, and
commenced in different places at four different periods of the
year! But it is very remarkable that, whatever was the
commencement of the year in the early part of the "Saxon
Chronicle", in the latter part the year invariably opens with
Midwinter-day or the Nativity. Gervase of Canterbury, whose
Latin chronicle ends in 1199, the aera of "legal" memory, had
formed a design, as he tells us, of regulating his chronology by
the Annunciation; but from an honest fear of falsifying dates he
abandoned his first intention, and acquiesced in the practice of
his predecessors; who for the most part, he says, began the new
year with the Nativity (35).
Having said thus much in illustration of the work itself, we must
necessarily be brief in our account of the present edition. It
was contemplated many years since, amidst a constant succession
of other occupations; but nothing was then projected beyond a
reprint of Gibson, substituting an English translation for the
Latin. The indulgence of the Saxon scholar is therefore
requested, if we have in the early part of the chronicle too
faithfully followed the received text. By some readers no
apology of this kind will be deemed necessary; but something may
be expected in extenuation of the delay which has retarded the
publication. The causes of that delay must be chiefly sought in
the nature of the work itself. New types were to be cast;
compositors to be instructed in a department entirely new to
them; manuscripts to be compared, collated, transcribed; the text
to be revised throughout; various readings of great intricacy to
be carefully presented, with considerable additions from
unpublished sources; for, however unimportant some may at first
sight appear, the most trivial may be of use. With such and
other difficulties before him, the editor has, nevertheless, been
blessed with health and leisure sufficient to overcome them; and
he may now say with Gervase the monk at the end of his first
"Finito libro reddatur gratia Christo." (36)
Of the translation it is enough to observe, that it is made as
literal as possible, with a view of rendering the original easy
to those who are at present unacquainted with the Saxon language.
By this method also the connection between the ancient and modern
language will be more obvious. The same method has been adopted
in an unpublished translation of Gibson's "Chronicle" by the late
Mr. Cough, now in the Bodleian Library. But the honour of having
printed the first literal version of the "Saxon Annals" was
reserved for a learned LADY, the Elstob of her age (37); whose
Work was finished in the year 1819. These translations, however,
do not interfere with that in the present edition; because they
contain nothing but what is found in the printed texts, and are
neither accompanied with the original, nor with any collation of
(1) Whatever was the origin of this title, by which it is now
distinguished, in an appendix to the work itself it is
called "Liber de Wintonia," or "The Winchester-Book," from
its first place of custody.
(2) This title is retained, in compliance with custom, though it
is a collection of chronicles, rather than one uniform work,
as the received appellation seems to imply.
(3) In two volumes folio, with the following title: "Domesday-
Book, seu Liber Censualis Willelmi Primi Regis Angliae,
inter Archlyos Regni in Domo Capitulari Westmonasterii
asservatus: jubente rege augustissimo Georgio Tertio praelo
mandatus typis MDCCLXXXIII"
(4) Gerard Langbaine had projected such a work, and had made
considerable progress in the collation of MSS., when he
found himself anticipated by Wheloc.
(5) "Nunc primum integrum edidit" is Gibson's expression in the
title-page. He considers Wheloc's MSS. as fragments, rather
than entire chronicles: "quod integrum nacti jam discimus."
These MSS., however, were of the first authority, and not
less entire, as far as they went, than his own favourite
"Laud". But the candid critic will make allowance for the
zeal of a young Bachelor of Queen's, who, it must be
remembered, had scarcely attained the age of twenty-three
when this extraordinary work was produced.
(6) The reader is forcibly reminded of the national dress of the
Highlanders in the following singular passage: "furciferos
magis vultus pilis, quam corporum pudenda, pudendisque
proxima, vestibus tegentes."
(7) See particularly capp. xxiii. and xxvi. The work which
follows, called the "Epistle of Gildas", is little more than
a cento of quotations from the Old and New Testament.
(8) "De historiis Scotorum Saxonumque, licet inimicorum," etc.
"Hist. Brit. ap." Gale, XV. Script. p. 93. See also p. 94
of the same work; where the writer notices the absence of
all written memorials among the Britons, and attributes it
to the frequent recurrence of war and pestilence. A new
edition has been prepared from a Vatican MS. with a
translation and notes by the Rev. W. Gunn, and published by
J. and A. Arch.
(9) "Malo me historiographum quam neminem," etc.
(10) He considered his work, perhaps, as a lamentation of
declamation, rather than a history. But Bede dignifies him
with the title of "historicus," though he writes "fiebili
(11) But it is probable that the work is come down to us in a
garbled and imperfect state.
(12) There is an absurd story of a monk, who in vain attempting
to write his epitaph, fell asleep, leaving it thus: "Hac
sunt in fossa Bedae. ossa:" but, when he awoke, to his great
surprise and satisfaction he found the long-sought epithet
supplied by an angelic hand, the whole line standing thus:
"Hac sunt in fossa Bedae venerabilis ossa."
(13) See the preface to his edition of the "Saxon Chronicle".
(14) This will be proved more fully when we come to speak of the
writers of the "Saxon Chronicle".
(15) Preface, "ubi supra".
(16) He died A.D. 734, according to our chronicle; but some place
his death to the following year.
(17) This circumstance alone proves the value of the "Saxon
Chronicle". In the "Edinburgh Chronicle" of St. Cross,
printed by H. Wharton, there is a chasm from the death of
Bede to the year 1065; a period of 330 years.
(18) The cold and reluctant manner in which he mentions the
"Saxon Annals", to which he was so much indebted, can only
be ascribed to this cause in him, as well as in the other
Latin historians. See his prologue to the first book, "De
Gestis Regum," etc.
(19) If there are additional anecdotes in the Chronicle of St.
Neot's, which is supposed to have been so called by Leland
because he found the MS. there, it must be remembered that
this work is considered an interpolated Asser.
(20) The death of Asser himself is recorded in the year 909; but
this is no more a proof that the whole work is spurious,
than the character and burial of Moses, described in the
latter part of the book of "Deuteronomy", would go to prove
that the Pentateuch was not written by him. See Bishop
Watson's "Apology for the Bible".
(21) Malmsbury calls him "noble and magnificent," with reference
to his rank; for he was descended from King Alfred: but he
forgets his peculiar praise -- that of being the only Latin
historian for two centuries; though, like Xenophon, Caesar,
and Alfred, he wielded the sword as much as the pen.
(22) This was no less a personage than Matilda, the daughter of
Otho the Great, Emperor of Germany, by his first Empress
Eadgitha or Editha; who is mentioned in the "Saxon
Chronicle", A.D. 925, though not by name, as given to Otho
by her brother, King Athelstan. Ethelwerd adds, in his
epistle to Matilda, that Athelstan sent two sisters, in
order that the emperor might take his choice; and that he
preferred the mother of Matilda.
(23) See particularly the character of William I. p. 294, written
by one who was in his court. The compiler of the "Waverley
Annals" we find literally translating it more than a century
afterwards: -- "nos dicemus, qui eum vidimus, et in curia
ejus aliquando fuimus," etc. -- Gale, ii. 134.
(24) His work, which is very faithfully and diligently compiled,
ends in the year 1117; but it is continued by another hand
to the imprisonment of King Stephen.
(25) "Chron. ap." Gale, ii. 21.
(26) "Virum Latina, Graec, et Saxonica lingua atque eruditione
multipliciter instructum." -- Bede, "Ecclesiastical
History", v. 8. "Chron. S. Crucis Edinb. ap.", Wharton, i.
(27) The materials, however, though not regularly arranged, must
be traced to a much higher source.
(28) Josselyn collated two Kentish MSS. of the first authority;
one of which he calls the History or Chronicle of St.
Augustine's, the other that of Christ Church, Canterbury.
The former was perhaps the one marked in our series "C.T."A
VI.; the latter the Benet or Plegmund MS.
(29) Wanley observes, that the Benet MS. is written in one and
the same hand to this year, and in hands equally ancient to
the year 924; after which it is continued in different hands
to the end. Vid. "Cat." p. 130.
(30) Florence of Worcester, in ascertaining the succession of the
kings of Wessex, refers expressly to the "Dicta Aelfredi".
Ethelwerd had before acknowledged that he reported many
things -- "sicut docuere parentes;" and then he immediately
adds, "Scilicet Aelfred rex Athulfi regis filius; ex quo nos
originem trahimus." Vid. Prol.
(31) Hickes supposed the Laud or Peterborough Chronicle to have
been compiled by Hugo Candidus (Albus, or White), or some
other monk of that house.
(32) See A.D. xxxiii., the aera of Christ's crucifixion, p. 23,
and the notes below.
(33) See Playfair's "System of Chronology", p. 49.
(34) Playfair says 527: but I follow Bede, Florence of Worcester,
and others, who affirm that the great paschal cycle of
Dionysius commenced from the year of our Lord's incarnation
532 -- the year in which the code of Justinian was
promulgated. "Vid. Flor. an." 532, 1064, and 1073. See
also M. West. "an." 532.
(35) "Vid. Prol. in Chron." Bervas. "ap. X." Script. p. 1338.
(36) Often did the editor, during the progress of the work,
sympathise with the printer; who, in answer to his urgent
importunities to hasten the work, replied once in the
classical language of Manutius: "Precor, ut occupationibus
meis ignoscas; premor enim oneribus, et typographiae cura,
ut vix sustineam." Who could be angry after this?
(37) Miss Gurney, of Keswick, Norfolk. The work, however, was
THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE
The island Britain (1) is 800 miles long, and 200 miles broad.
And there are in the island five nations; English, Welsh (or
British) (2), Scottish, Pictish, and Latin. The first
inhabitants were the Britons, who came from Armenia (3), and
first peopled Britain southward. Then happened it, that the
Picts came south from Scythia, with long ships, not many; and,
landing first in the northern part of Ireland, they told the
Scots that they must dwell there. But they would not give them
leave; for the Scots told them that they could not all dwell
there together; "But," said the Scots, "we can nevertheless give
you advice. We know another island here to the east. There you
may dwell, if you will; and whosoever withstandeth you, we will
assist you, that you may gain it." Then went the Picts and
entered this land northward. Southward the Britons possessed it,
as we before said. And the Picts obtained wives of the Scots, on
condition that they chose their kings always on the female side
(4); which they have continued to do, so long since. And it
happened, in the run of years, that some party of Scots went from
Ireland into Britain, and acquired some portion of this land.
Their leader was called Reoda (5), from whom they are named
Dalreodi (or Dalreathians).
Sixty winters ere that Christ was born, Caius Julius, emperor of
the Romans, with eighty ships sought Britain. There he was first
beaten in a dreadful fight, and lost a great part of his army.
Then he let his army abide with the Scots (6), and went south
into Gaul. There he gathered six hundred ships, with which he
went back into Britain. When they first rushed together,
Caesar's tribune, whose name was Labienus (7), was slain. Then
took the Welsh sharp piles, and drove them with great clubs into
the water, at a certain ford of the river called Thames. When
the Romans found that, they would not go over the ford. Then
fled the Britons to the fastnesses of the woods; and Caesar,
having after much fighting gained many of the chief towns, went
back into Gaul (8).
((B.C. 60. Before the incarnation of Christ sixty years, Gaius
Julius the emperor, first of the Romans, sought the land of
Britain; and he crushed the Britons in battle, and overcame them;
and nevertheless he was unable to gain any empire there.))
A.D. 1. Octavianus reigned fifty-six winters; and in the forty-
second year of his reign Christ was born. Then three astrologers
from the east came to worship Christ; and the children in
Bethlehem were slain by Herod in persecution of Christ.
A.D. 3. This year died Herod, stabbed by his own hand; and
Archelaus his son succeeded him. The child Christ was also this
year brought back again from Egypt.
A.D. 6. From the beginning of the world to this year were agone
five thousand and two hundred winters.
A.D. 11. This year Herod the son of Antipater undertook the
government in Judea.
A.D. 12. This year Philip and Herod divided Judea into four
((A.D. 12. This year Judea was divided into four tetrarchies.))
A.D. 16. This year Tiberius succeeded to the empire.
A.D. 26. This year Pilate began to reign over the Jews.
A.D. 30. This year was Christ baptized; and Peter and Andrew
were converted, together with James, and John, and Philip, and
all the twelve apostles.
A.D. 33. This year was Christ crucified; (9) about five thousand
two hundred and twenty six winters from the beginning of the
A.D. 34. This year was St. Paul converted, and St. Stephen
A.D. 35. This year the blessed Peter the apostle settled an
episcopal see in the city of Antioch.
A.D. 37. This year (11) Pilate slew himself with his own hand.
A.D. 39. This year Caius undertook the empire.
A.D. 44. This year the blessed Peter the apostle settled an
episcopal see at Rome; and James, the brother of John, was slain
A.D. 45. This year died Herod, who slew James one year ere his
A.D. 46. This year Claudius, the second of the Roman emperors
who invaded Britain, took the greater part of the island into his
power, and added the Orkneys to rite dominion of the Romans.
This was in the fourth year of his reign. And in the same year
(12) happened the great famine in Syria which Luke mentions in
the book called "The Acts of the Apostles". After Claudius Nero
succeeded to the empire, who almost lost the island Britain
through his incapacity.
((A.D. 46. This year the Emperor Claudius came to Britain, and
subdued a large part of the island; and he also added the island
of Orkney to the dominion of the Romans.))
A.D. 47. This year Mark, the evangelist in Egypt beginneth to
write the gospel.
((A.D. 47. This was in the fourth year of his reign, and in this
same year was the great famine in Syria which Luke speaks of in
the book called "Actus Apostolorum".))
((A.D. 47. This year Claudius, king of the Romans, went with an
army into Britain, and subdued the island, and subjected all the
Picts and Welsh to the rule of the Romans.))
A.D. 50. This year Paul was sent bound to Rome.
A.D. 62. This year James, the brother of Christ, suffered.
A.D. 63. This year Mark the evangelist departed this life.
A.D. 69. This year Peter and Paul suffered.
A.D. 70. This year Vespasian undertook the empire.
A.D. 71. This year Titus, son of Vespasian, slew in Jerusalem
eleven hundred thousand Jews.
A.D. 81. This year Titus came to the empire, after Vespasian,
who said that he considered the day lost in which he did no good.
A.D. 83. This year Domitian, the brother of Titus, assumed the
A.D. 84. This year John the evangelist in the island Patmos
wrote the book called "The Apocalypse".
A.D. 90. This year Simon, the apostle, a relation of Christ, was
crucified: and John the evangelist rested at Ephesus.
A.D. 92. This year died Pope Clement.
A.D. 110. This year Bishop Ignatius suffered.
A.D. 116. This year Hadrian the Caesar began to reign.
A.D. 145. This year Marcus Antoninus and Aurelius his brother
succeeded to the empire.
((A.D. 167. This year Eleutherius succeeded to the popedom, and
held it fifteen years; and in the same year Lucius, king of the
Britons, sent and begged baptism of him. And he soon sent it
him, and they continued in the true faith until the time of
A.D. 189. This year Severus came to the empire; and went with
his army into Britain, and subdued in battle a great part of the
island. Then wrought he a mound of turf, with a broad wall
thereupon, from sea to sea, for the defence of the Britons. He
reigned seventeen years; and then ended his days at York. His
son Bassianus succeeded him in the empire. His other son, who
perished, was called Geta. This year Eleutherius undertook the
bishopric of Rome, and held it honourably for fifteen winters.
To him Lucius, king of the Britons, sent letters, and prayed that
he might be made a Christian. He obtained his request; and they
continued afterwards in the right belief until the reign of
A.D. 199. In this year was found the holy rood. (13)
A.D. 283. This year suffered Saint Alban the Martyr.
A.D. 343. This year died St. Nicolaus.
A.D. 379. This year Gratian succeeded to the empire.
A.D. 381. This year Maximus the Caesar came to the empire. He
was born in the land of Britain, whence he passed over into Gaul.
He there slew the Emperor Gratian; and drove his brother, whose
name was Valentinian, from his country (Italy). The same
Valentinian afterwards collected an army, and slew Maximus;
whereby he gained the empire. About this time arose the error of
Pelagius over the world.
A.D. 418. This year the Romans collected all the hoards of gold
(14) that were in Britain; and some they hid in the earth, so
that no man afterwards might find them, and some they carried
away with them into Gaul.
A.D. 423. This year Theodosius the younger succeeded to the
A.D. 429. This year Bishop Palladius was sent from Pope
Celesrinus to the Scots, that he might establish their faith.
A.D. 430. This year Patricius was sent from Pope Celestinus to
preach baptism to the Scots.
((A.D. 430. This year Patrick was sent by Pope Celestine to
preach baptism to the Scots.))
A.D. 435. This year the Goths sacked the city of Rome; and never
since have the Romans reigned in Britain. This was about eleven
hundred and ten winters after it was built. They reigned
altogether in Britain four hundred and seventy winters since
Gaius Julius first sought that land.
A.D. 443. This year sent the Britons over sea to Rome, and
begged assistance against the Picts; but they had none, for the
Romans were at war with Atila, king of the Huns. Then sent they
to the Angles, and requested the same from the nobles of that
A.D. 444. This year died St. Martin.
A.D. 448. This year John the Baptist showed his head to two
monks, who came from the eastern country to Jerusalem for the
sake of prayer, in the place that whilom was the palace of Herod.
A.D. 449. This year Marcian and Valentinian assumed the empire,
and reigned seven winters. In their days Hengest and Horsa,
invited by Wurtgern, king of the Britons to his assistance,
landed in Britain in a place that is called Ipwinesfleet; first
of all to support the Britons, but they afterwards fought against
them. The king directed them to fight against the Picts; and
they did so; and obtained the victory wheresoever they came.
They then sent to the Angles, and desired them to send more
assistance. They described the worthlessness of the Britons, and
the richness of the land. They then sent them greater support.
Then came the men from three powers of Germany; the Old Saxons,
the Angles, and the Jutes. From the Jutes are descended the men
of Kent, the Wightwarians (that is, the tribe that now dwelleth
in the Isle of Wight), and that kindred in Wessex that men yet
call the kindred of the Jutes. From the Old Saxons came the
people of Essex and Sussex and Wessex. From Anglia, which has
ever since remained waste between the Jutes and the Saxons, came
the East Angles, the Middle Angles, the Mercians, and all of
those north of the Humber. Their leaders were two brothers,
Hengest and Horsa; who were the sons of Wihtgils; Wihtgils was
the son of Witta, Witta of Wecta, Wecta of Woden. From this
Woden arose all our royal kindred, and that of the Southumbrians
((A.D. 449. And in their days Vortigern invited the Angles
thither, and they came to Britain in three ceols, at the place
A.D. 455. This year Hengest and Horsa fought with Wurtgern the
king on the spot that is called Aylesford. His brother Horsa
being there slain, Hengest afterwards took to the kingdom with
his son Esc.
A.D. 457. This year Hengest and Esc fought with the Britons on
the spot that is called Crayford, and there slew four thousand
men. The Britons then forsook the land of Kent, and in great
consternation fled to London.
A.D. 465. This year Hengest and Esc fought with the Welsh, nigh
Wippedfleet; and there slew twelve leaders, all Welsh. On their
side a thane was there slain, whose name was Wipped.
A.D. 473. This year Hengest and Esc fought with the Welsh, and
took immense Booty. And the Welsh fled from the English like
A.D. 477. This year came Ella to Britain, with his three sons,
Cymen, and Wlenking, and Cissa, in three ships; landing at a
place that is called Cymenshore. There they slew many of the
Welsh; and some in flight they drove into the wood that is called
A.D. 482. This year the blessed Abbot Benedict shone in this
world, by the splendour of those virtues which the blessed
Gregory records in the book of Dialogues.
A.D. 485. This year Ella fought with the Welsh nigh Mecred's-
A.D. 488. This year Esc succeeded to the kingdom; and was king
of the men of Kent twenty-four winters.
A.D. 490. This year Ella and Cissa besieged the city of Andred,
and slew all that were therein; nor was one Briten left there
A.D. 495. This year came two leaders into Britain, Cerdic and
Cynric his son, with five ships, at a place that is called
Cerdic's-ore. And they fought with the Welsh the same day. Then
he died, and his son Cynric succeeded to the government, and held
it six and twenty winters. Then he died; and Ceawlin, his son,
succeeded, who reigned seventeen years. Then he died; and Ceol
succeeded to the government, and reigned five years. When he
died, Ceolwulf, his brother, succeeded, and reigned seventeen
years. Their kin goeth to Cerdic. Then succeeded Cynebils,
Ceolwulf's brother's son, to the kingdom; and reigned one and
thirty winters. And he first of West-Saxon kings received
baptism. Then succeeded Cenwall, who was the son of Cynegils,
and reigned one and thirty winters. Then held Sexburga, his
queen, the government one year after him. Then succeeded Escwine
to the kingdom, whose kin goeth to Cerdic, and held it two years.
Then succeeded Centwine, the son of Cynegils, to the kingdom of
the West-Saxons, and reigned nine years. Then succeeded Ceadwall
to the government, whose kin goeth to Cerdic, and held it three
years. Then succeeded Ina to the kingdom of the West-Saxons,
whose kin goeth to Cerdic, and reigned thirty-seven winters.
Then succeeded Ethelheard, whose kin goeth to Cerdic, and reigned
sixteen years. Then succeeded Cuthred, whose kin goeth to
Cerdic, and reigned sixteen winters. Then succeeded Sigebriht,
whose kin goeth to Cerdic, and reigned one year. Then succeeded
Cynwulf, whose kin goeth to Cerdic, and reigned one and thirty
winters. Then succeeded Brihtric, whose kin goeth to Cerdic, and
reigned sixteen years. Then succeeded Egbert to the kingdom, and
held it seven and thirty winters, and seven months. Then
succeeded Ethelwulf, his son, and reigned eighteen years and a
half. Ethelwulf was the son of Egbert, Egbert of Ealmund,
Ealmund of Eafa, Eafa of Eoppa, Eoppa of Ingild, Ingild of Cenred
(Ina of Cenred, Cuthburga of Cenred, and Cwenburga of Cenred),
Cenred of Ceolwald, Ceolwald of Cuthwulf, Cuthwulf of Cuthwine,
Cuthwine of Celm, Celm of Cynric, Cynric of Creoda, Creoda of
Cerdic. Then succeeded Ethelbald, the son of Ethelwulf, to the
kingdom, and held it five years. Then succeeded Ethelbert, his
brother, and reigned five years. Then succeeded Ethelred, his
brother, to the kingdom, and held it five years. Then succeeded
Alfred, their brother, to the government. And then had elapsed
of his age three and twenty winters, and three hundred and
ninety-six winters from the time when his kindred first gained
the land of Wessex from the Welsh. And he held the kingdom a
year and a half less than thirty winters. Then succeeded Edward,
the son of Alfred, and reigned twenty-four winters. When he
died, then succeeded Athelstan, his son, and reigned fourteen
years and seven weeks and three days. Then succeeded Edmund, his
brother, and reigned six years and a half, wanting two nights.
Then succeeded Edred, his brother, and reigned nine years and six
weeks. Then succeeded Edwy, the son of Edmund, and reigned three
years and thirty-six weeks, wanting two days. When he died, then
succeeded Edgar, his brother, and reigned sixteen years and eight
weeks and two nights. When he died, then succeeded Edward, the
son of Edgar, and reigned --
A.D. 501. This year Porta and his two sons, Beda and Mela, came
into Britain, with two ships, at a place called Portsmouth. They
soon landed, and slew on the spot a young Briton of very high
A.D. 508. This year Cerdic and Cynric slew a British king, whose
name was Natanleod, and five thousand men with him. After this
was the land named Netley, from him, as far as Charford.
A.D. 509. This year St. Benedict, the abbot, father of all the
monks, (16) ascended to heaven.
A.D. 514. This year came the West-Saxons into Britain, with
three ships, at the place that is called Cerdic's-ore. And Stuff
and Wihtgar fought with the Britons, and put them to flight.
A.D. 519. This year Cerdic and Cynric undertook the government
of the West-Saxons; the same year they fought with the Britons at
a place now called Charford. From that day have reigned the
children of the West-Saxon kings.
A.D. 527. This year Cerdic and Cynric fought with the Britons in
the place that is called Cerdic's-ley.
A.D. 530. This year Cerdic and Cynric took the isle of Wight,
and slew many men in Carisbrook.
A.D. 534. This year died Cerdic, the first king of the West-
Saxons. Cynric his son succeeded to the government, and reigned
afterwards twenty-six winters. And they gave to their two
nephews, Stuff and Wihtgar, the whole of the Isle of Wight.
A.D. 538. This year the sun was eclipsed, fourteen days before
the calends of March, from before morning until nine.
A.D. 540. This year the sun was eclipsed on the twelfth day
before the calends of July; and the stars showed themselves full
nigh half an hour over nine.
A.D. 544. This year died Wihtgar; and men buried him at
A.D. 547. This year Ida began his reign; from whom first arose
the royal kindred of the Northumbrians. Ida was the son of
Eoppa, Eoppa of Esa, Esa of Ingwy, Ingwy of Angenwit, Angenwit of
Alloc, Alloc of Bennoc, Bennoc of Brand, Brand of Balday, Balday
of Woden. Woden of Fritholaf, Fritholaf of Frithowulf,
Frithowulf of Finn, Finn of Godolph, Godolph of Geata. Ida
reigned twelve years. He built Bamburgh-Castle, which was first
surrounded with a hedge, and afterwards with a wall.
A.D. 552. This year Cynric fought with the Britons on the spot
that is called Sarum, and put them to flight. Cerdic was the
father of Cynric, Cerdic was the son of Elesa, Elesa of Esla,
Esla of Gewis, Gewis of Wye, Wye of Frewin, Frewin of Frithgar,
Frithgar of Brand, Brand of Balday, Balday of Woden. In this
year Ethelbert, the son of Ermenric, was born, who on the two and
thirtieth year of his reign received the rite of baptism, the
first of all the kings in Britain.
A.D. 556. This year Cynric and Ceawlin fought with the Britons
A.D. 560. This year Ceawlin undertook the government of the
West-Saxons; and Ella, on the death of Ida, that of the
Northumbrians; each of whom reigned thirty winters. Ella was the
son of Iff, Iff of Usfrey, Usfrey of Wilgis, Wilgis of
Westerfalcon, Westerfalcon of Seafowl, Seafowl of Sebbald,
Sebbald of Sigeat, Sigeat of Swaddy, Swaddy of Seagirt, Seagar of
Waddy, Waddy of Woden, Woden of Frithowulf. This year Ethelbert
came to the kingdom of the Cantuarians, and held it fifty-three
winters. In his days the holy Pope Gregory sent us baptism.
That was in the two and thirtieth year of his reign. And
Columba, the mass-priest, came to the Picts, and converted them
to the belief of Christ. They are the dwellers by the northern
moors. And their king gave him the island of Hii, consisting of
five hides, as they say, where Columba built a monastary. There
he was abbot two and thirty winters; and there he died, when he
was seventy-seven years old. The place his successors yet have.
The Southern Picts were long before baptized by Bishop Ninnia,
who was taught at Rome. His church or monastery is at Hwiterne,
hallowed in the name of St. Martin, where he resteth with many
holy men. Now, therefore, shall there be ever in Hii an abbot,
and no bishop; and to him shall be subject all the bishops of the
Scots; because Columba was an abbot -- no bishop.
((A.D. 565. This year Columba the presbyter came from the Scots
among the Britons, to instruct the Picts, and he built a
monastery in the island of Hii.))
A.D. 568. This year Ceawlin, and Cutha the brother of Ceawlin,
fought with Ethelbert, and pursued him into Kent. And they slew
two aldermen at Wimbledon, Oslake and Cnebba.
A.D. 571. This year Cuthulf fought with the Britons at Bedford,
and took four towns, Lenbury, Aylesbury, Benson, and Ensham. And
this same year he died.
A.D. 577. This year Cuthwin and Ceawlin fought with the Britons,
and slew three kings, Commail, and Condida, and Farinmail, on the
spot that is called Derham, and took from them three cities,
Gloucester, Cirencester, and Bath.
A.D. 583. This year Mauricius succeeded to the empire of the
A.D. 584. This year Ceawlin and Cutha fought with the Britons on
the spot that is called Fretherne. There Cutha was slain. And
Ceawlin took many towns, as well as immense booty and wealth. He
then retreated to his own people.
A.D. 588. This year died King Ella; and Ethelric reigned after
him five years.
A.D. 591. This year there was a great slaughter of Britons at
Wanborough; Ceawlin was driven from his kingdom, and Ceolric
reigned six years.
A.D. 592. This year Gregory succeeded to the papacy at Rome.
A.D. 593. This year died Ceawlin, and Cwichelm, and Cryda; and
Ethelfrith succeeded to the kingdom of the Northumbrians. He was
the son of Ethelric; Ethelric of Ida.
A.D. 596. This year Pope Gregory sent Augustine to Britain with
very many monks, to preach the word of God to the English people.
A.D. 597. This year began Ceolwulf to reign over the West-
Saxons; and he constantly fought and conquered, either with the
Angles, or the Welsh, or the Picts, or the Scots. He was the son
of Cutha, Cutha of Cynric, Cynric of Cerdic, Cerdic of Elesa,
Elesa of Gewis, Gewis of Wye, Wye of Frewin, Frewin of Frithgar,
Frithgar of Brand, Brand of Balday, and Balday of Woden. This
year came Augustine and his companions to England. (17)
A.D. 601. This year Pope Gregory sent the pall to Archbishop
Augustine in Britain, with very many learned doctors to assist
him; and Bishop Paulinus converted Edwin, king of the
Northumbrians, to baptism.
A.D. 603. This year Aeden, king of the Scots, fought with the
Dalreathians, and with Ethelfrith, king of the Northumbrians, at
Theakstone; where he lost almost all his army. Theobald also,
brother of Ethelfrith, with his whole armament, was slain. None
of the Scottish kings durst afterwards bring an army against this
nation. Hering, the son of Hussa, led the army thither.
((A.D. 603. This year Aethan, King of the Scots, fought against
the Dalreods and against Ethelfrith, king of the North-humbrians,
at Daegsanstane [Dawston?], and they slew almost all his army.
There Theodbald, Ethelfrith's brother, was slain with all his
band. Since then no king of the Scots has dared to lead an army
against this nation. Hering, the son of Hussa, led the enemy
A.D. 604. This year Augustine consecrated two bishops, Mellitus
and Justus. Mellitus he sent to preach baptism to the East-
Saxons. Their king was called Seabert, the son of Ricola,
Ethelbert's sister, whom Ethelbert placed there as king.
Ethelbert also gave Mellitus the bishopric of London; and to
Justus he gave the bishopric of Rochester, which is twenty-four
miles from Canterbury.
((A.D. 604. This year Augustine consecrated two bishops,
Mellitus and Justus. He sent Mellitus to preach baptism to the
East-Saxons, whose king was called Sebert, son of Ricole, the
sister of Ethelbert, and whom Ethelbert had there appointed king.
And Ethelbert gave Mellitus a bishop's see in London, and to
Justus he gave Rochester, which is twenty-four miles from
A.D. 606. This year died Gregory; about ten years since he sent
us baptism. His father was called Gordianus, and his mother
A.D. 607. This year Ceolwulf fought with the South-Saxons. And
Ethelfrith led his army to Chester; where he slew an innumerable
host of the Welsh; and so was fulfilled the prophecy of
Augustine, wherein he saith "If the Welsh will not have peace
with us, they shall perish at the hands of the Saxons." There
were also slain two hundred priests, (18) who came thither to
pray for the army of the Welsh. Their leader was called
Brocmail, who with some fifty men escaped thence.
A.D. 611. This year Cynegils succeeded to the government in
Wessex, and held it one and thirty winters. Cynegils was the son
of Ceol, Ceol of Cutha, Cutha of Cynric.
A.D. 614. This year Cynegils and Cwichelm fought at Bampton, and
slew two thousand and forty-six of the Welsh.
A.D. 616. This year died Ethelbert, king of Kent, the first of
English kings that received baptism: he was the son of Ermenric.
He reigned fifty-six winters, and was succeeded by his son
Eadbald. And in this same year had elapsed from the beginning of
the world five thousand six hundred and eighteen winters. This
Eadbald renounced his baptism, and lived in a heathen manner; so
that he took to wife the relict of his father. Then Laurentius,
who was archbishop in Kent, meant to depart southward over sea,
and abandon everything. But there came to him in the night the
apostle Peter, and severely chastised him, (19) because he would
so desert the flock of God. And he charged him to go to the
king, and teach him the right belief. And he did so; and the
king returned to the right belief. In this king's days the same
Laurentius, who was archbishop in Kent after Augustine, departed
this life on the second of February, and was buried near
Augustine. The holy Augustine in his lifetime invested him
bishop, to the end that the church of Christ, which yet was new
in England, should at no time after his decease be without an
archbishop. After him Mellitus, who was first Bishop of London,
succeeded to the archbishopric. The people of London, where
Mellitus was before, were then heathens: and within five winters
of this time, during the reign of Eadbald, Mellitus died. To him
succeeded Justus, who was Bishop of Rochester, whereto he
consecrated Romanus bishop.
((A.D. 616. In that time Laurentius was archbishop, and for the
sorrowfulness which he had on account of the king's unbelief he
was minded to forsake this country entirely, and go over sea; but
St. Peter the apostle scourged him sorely one night, because he
wished thus to forsake the flock of God, and commanded him to
teach boldly the true faith to the king; and he did so, and the
king turned to the right (faith). In the days of this same king,
Eadbald, this Laurentius died. The holy Augustine, while yet in
sound health, ordained him bishop, in order that the community of
Christ, which was yet new in England, should not after his
decease be at any time without an archbishop. After him
Mellitus, who had been previously Bishop of London, succeeded to
the archbishopric. And within five years of the decease of
Laurentius, while Eadbald still reigned, Mellitus departed to
A.D. 617. This year was Ethelfrith, king of the Northumbrians,
slain by Redwald, king of the East-Angles; and Edwin, the son of
Ella, having succeeded to the kingdom, subdued all Britain,
except the men of Kent alone, and drove out the Ethelings, the
sons of Ethelfrith, namely, Enfrid. Oswald, Oswy, Oslac, Oswood.
Oslaf, and Offa.
A.D. 624. This year died Archbishop Mellitus.
A.D. 625. This year Paulinus was invested bishop of the
Northumbrians, by Archbishop Justus, on the twelfth day before
the calends of August.
((A.D. 625. This year Archbishop Justus consecrated Paulinus
bishop of the North-humbrians.))
A.D. 626. This year came Eamer from Cwichelm, king of the West-
Saxons, with a design to assassinate King Edwin; but he killed
Lilla his thane, and Forthere, and wounded the king. The same
night a daughter was born to Edwin, whose name was Eanfleda.
Then promised the king to Paulinus, that he would devote his
daughter to God, if he would procure at the hand of God, that he
might destroy his enemy, who had sent the assassin to him. He
then advanced against the West-Saxons with an army, felled on the
spot five kings, and slew many of their men. This year Eanfleda,
the daughter of King Edwin, was baptized, on the holy eve of
Pentecost. And the king within twelve months was baptized, at
Easter, with all his people. Easter was then on the twelfth of
April. This was done at York, where he had ordered a church to
be built of timber, which was hallowed in the name of St. Peter.
There the king gave the bishopric to Paulinus; and there he
afterwards ordered a larger church to be built of stone. This
year Penda began to reign; and reigned thirty winters. He had
seen fifty winters when he began to reign. Penda was the son of
Wybba, Wybba of Creoda, Creoda of Cynewald, Cynewald of Cnebba,
Cnebba of Icel, Icel of Eomer, Eomer of Angelthew, Angelthew of
Offa, Offa of Wearmund, Wearmund of Whitley, Whitley of Woden.
A.D. 627. This year was King Edwin baptized at Easter, with all
his people, by Paulinus, who also preached baptism in Lindsey,
where the first person who believed was a certain rich man, of
the name of Bleek, with all his people. At this time Honorius
succeeded Boniface in the papacy, and sent hither to Paulinus the
pall; and Archbishop Justus having departed this life on the
tenth of November, Honorius was consecrated at Lincoln Archbishop
of Canterbury by Paulinus; and Pope Honorius sent him the pall.
And he sent an injunction to the Scots, that they should return
to the right celebration of Easter.
((A.D. 627. This year, at Easter, Paulinus baptized Edwin king
of the North-humbrians, with his people; and earlier within the
same year, at Pentecost, he had baptized Eanfled, daughter of the
A.D. 628. This year Cynegils and Cwichelm fought with Penda at
Cirencester, and afterwards entered into a treaty there.
A.D. 632. This year was Orpwald baptized.
A.D. 633. This year King Edwin was slain by Cadwalla and Penda,
on Hatfield moor, on the fourteenth of October. He reigned
seventeen years. His son Osfrid was also slain with him. After
this Cadwalla and Penda went and ravaged all the land of the
Northumbrians; which when Paulinus saw, he took Ethelburga, the
relict of Edwin, and went by ship to Kent. Eadbald and Honorius
received him very honourably, and gave him the bishopric of
Rochester, where he continued to his death.
A.D. 634. This year Osric, whom Paulinus baptized, succeeded to
the government of Deira. He was the son of Elfric, the uncle of
Edwin. And to Bernicia succeeded Eanfrith, son of Ethelfrith.
This year also Bishop Birinus first preached baptism to the West-
Saxons, under King Cynegils. The said Birinus went thither by
the command of Pope Honorius; and he was bishop there to the end
of his life. Oswald also this year succeeded to the government
of the Northumbrians, and reigned nine winters. The ninth year
was assigned to him on account of the heathenism in which those
lived who reigned that one year betwixt him and Edwin.
A.D. 635. This year King Cynegils was baptized by Bishop Birinus
at Dorchester; and Oswald, king of the Northumbrians, was his
A.D. 636. This year King Cwichelm was baptized at Dorchester,
and died the same year. Bishop Felix also preached to the East-
Angles the belief of Christ.
A.D. 639. This year Birinus baptized King Cuthred at Dorchester,
and received him as his son.
A.D. 640. This year died Eadbald, King of Kent, after a reign of
twenty-five winters. He had two sons, Ermenred and Erkenbert;
and Erkenbert reigned there after his father. He overturned all
the idols in the kingdom, and first of English kings appointed a
fast before Easter. His daughter was called Ercongota -- holy
damsel of an illustrious sire! whose mother was Sexburga, the
daughter of Anna, king of the East-Angles. Ermenred also begat
two sons, who were afterwards martyred by Thunnor.
A.D. 642. This year Oswald, king of the Northumbrians, was slain
by Penda, king of the Southumbrians, at Mirfield, on the fifth
day of August; and his body was buried at Bardney. His holiness
and miracles were afterwards displayed on manifold occasions
throughout this island; and his hands remain still uncorrupted at
Barnburgh. The same year in which Oswald was slain, Oswy his
brother succeeded to the government of the Northumbrians, and
reigned two less than thirty years.
A.D. 643. This year Kenwal succeeded to the kingdom of the West-
Saxons, and held it one and thirty winters. This Kenwal ordered
the old (20) church at Winchester to be built in the name of St.
Peter. He was the son of Cynegils.
A.D. 644. This year died at Rochester, on the tenth of October,
Paulinus, who was first Archbishop at York, and afterwards at
Rochester. He was bishop nineteen winters, two months, and one
and twenty days. This year the son of Oswy's uncle (Oswin), the
son of Osric, assumed the government of Deira, and reigned seven
A.D. 645. This year King Kenwal was driven from his dominion by
A.D. 646. This year King Kenwal was baptized.
A.D. 648. This year Kenwal gave his relation Cuthred three
thousand hides of land by Ashdown. Cuthred was the son of
Cwichelm, Cwichelm of Cynegils.
A.D. 650. This year Egelbert, from Gaul, after Birinus the
Romish bishop, obtained the bishopric of the West-Saxons.
((A.D. 650. This year Birinus the bishop died, and Agilbert the
Frenchman was ordained.))
A.D. 651. This year King Oswin was slain, on the twentieth day
of August; and within twelve nights afterwards died Bishop Aidan,
on the thirty-first of August.
A.D. 652. This year Kenwal fought at Bradford by the Avon.
A.D. 653. This year, the Middle-Angles under alderman Peada
received the right belief.
A.D. 654. This year King Anna was slain, and Botolph began to
build that minster at Icanhoe. This year also died Archbishop
Honorius, on the thirtieth of September.
A.D. 655. This year Penda was slain at Wingfield, and thirty
royal personages with him, some of whom were kings. One of them
was Ethelhere, brother of Anna, king of the East-Angles. The
Mercians after this became Christians. From the beginning of the
world had now elapsed five thousand eight hundred and fifty
winters, when Peada, the son of Penda, assumed the government of
the Mercians. In his time came together himself and Oswy,
brother of King Oswald, and said, that they would rear a minster
to the glory of Christ, and the honour of St. Peter. And they
did so, and gave it the name of Medhamsted; because there is a
well there, called Meadswell. And they began the groundwall, and
wrought thereon; after which they committed the work to a monk,
whose name was Saxulf. He was very much the friend of God, and
him also loved all people. He was nobly born in the world, and
rich: he is now much richer with Christ. But King Peada reigned
no while; for he was betrayed by his own queen, in Easter-tide.
This year Ithamar, Bishop of Rochester, consecrated Deus-dedit to
Canterbury, on the twenty-sixth day of March.
A.D. 656. This year was Peada slain; and Wulfhere, son of Penda,
succeeded to the kingdom of the Mercians. In his time waxed the
abbey of Medhamsted very rich, which his brother had begun. The
king loved it much, for the love of his brother Peada, and for
the love of his wed-brother Oswy, and for the love of Saxulf the
abbot. He said, therefore, that he would dignify and honour it
by the counsel of his brothers, Ethelred and Merwal; and by the
counsel of his sisters, Kyneburga and Kyneswitha; and by the
counsel of the archbishop, who was called Deus-dedit; and by the
counsel of all his peers, learned and lewd, that in his kingdom
were. And he so did. Then sent the king after the abbot, that
he should immediately come to him. And he so did. Then said the
king to the abbot: "Beloved Saxulf, I have sent after thee for
the good of my soul; and I will plainly tell thee for why. My
brother Peada and my beloved friend Oswy began a minster, for the
love of Christ and St. Peter: but my brother, as Christ willed,
is departed from this life; I will therefore intreat thee,
beloved friend, that they earnestly proceed on their work; and I
will find thee thereto gold and silver, land and possessions, and
all that thereto behoveth." Then went the abbot home, and began
to work. So he sped, as Christ permitted him; so that in a few
years was that minster ready. Then, when the king heard say
that, he was very glad; and bade men send through all the nation,
after all his thanes; after the archbishop, and after bishops:
and after his earls; and after all those that loved God; that
they should come to him. And he fixed the day when men should
hallow the minster. And when they were hallowing the minster,
there was the king, Wulfere, and his brother Ethelred, and his
sisters, Kyneburga and Kyneswitha. And the minster was hallowed
by Archbishop Deusdedit of Canterbury; and the Bishop of
Rochester, Ithamar; and the Bishop of London, who was called
Wina; and the Bishop of the Mercians, whose name was Jeruman; and
Bishop Tuda. And there was Wilfrid, priest, that after was
bishop; and there were all his thanes that were in his kingdom.
When the minster was hallowed, in the name of St. Peter, and St.
Paul, and St. Andrew, then stood up the king before all his
thanes, and said with a loud voice: "Thanks be to the high
almighty God for this worship that here is done; and I will this
day glorify Christ and St. Peter, and I will that you all confirm
my words. -- I Wulfere give to-day to St. Peter, and the Abbot
Saxulf, and the monks of the minster, these lands, and these
waters, and meres, and fens, and weirs, and all the lands that
thereabout lye, that are of my kingdom, freely, so that no man
have there any ingress, but the abbot and the monks. This is the
gift. From Medhamsted to Northborough; and so to the place that
is called Foleys; and so all the fen, right to Ashdike; and from
Ashdike to the place called Fethermouth; and so in a right line
ten miles long to Ugdike; and so to Ragwell; and from Ragwell
five miles to the main river that goeth to Elm and to Wisbeach;
and so about three miles to Trokenholt; and from Trokenholt right
through all the fen to Derworth; that is twenty miles long; and
so to Great Cross; and from Great Cross through a clear water
called Bradney; and thence six miles to Paxlade; and so forth
through all the meres and fens that lye toward Huntingdon-port;
and the meres and lakes Shelfermere and Wittlesey mere, and all
the others that thereabout lye; with land and with houses that
are on the east side of Shelfermere; thence all the fens to
Medhamsted; from Medhamsted all to Welmsford; from Welmsford to
Clive; thence to Easton; from Easton to Stamford; from Stamford
as the water runneth to the aforesaid Northborough." -- These are
the lands and the fens that the king gave unto St. Peter's
minster. -- Then quoth the king: "It is little -- this gift --
but I will that they hold it so royally and so freely, that there
be taken there from neither gild nor gable, but for the monks
alone. Thus I will free this minster; that it be not subject
except to Rome alone; and hither I will that we seek St. Peter,
all that to Rome cannot go." During these words the abbot
desired that he would gant him his request. And the king granted
it. "I have here (said he) some good monks that would lead their
life in retirement, if they wist where. Now here is an island,
that is called Ankerig; and I will request, that we may there
build a minster to the honour of St. Mary; that they may dwell
there who will lead their lives in peace and tranquillity." Then
answered the king, and quoth thus: "Beloved Saxulf, not that only
which thou desirest, but all things that I know thou desirest in
our Lord's behalf, so I approve, and grant. And I bid thee,
brother Ethelred, and my sisters, Kyneburga and Kyneswitha, for
the release of your souls, that you be witnesses, and that you
subscribe it with your fingers. And I pray all that come after
me, be they my sons, be they my brethren, or kings that come
after me, that our gift may stand; as they would be partakers of
the life everlasting, and as they would avoid everlasting
punishment. Whoso lesseneth our gift, or the gift of other good
men, may the heavenly porter lessen him in the kingdom of heaven;
and whoso advanceth it, may the heavenly porter advance him in
the kingdom of heaven." These are the witnesses that were there,
and that subscribed it with their fingers on the cross of Christ,
and confirmed it with their tongues. That was, first the king,
Wulfere, who confirmed it first with his word, and afterwards
wrote with his finger on the cross of Christ, saying thus: "I
Wulfere, king, in the presence of kings, and of earls, and of
captains, and of thanes, the witnesses of my gift, before the
Archbishop Deus-dedit, I confirm it with the cross of Christ."
(+) -- "And I Oswy, king of the Northumbrians, the friend of this
minster, and oś the Abbot Saxulf, commend it with the cross of
Christ." (+) -- "And I Sighere, king, ratify it with the cross of
Christ." (+) -- "And I Sibbi, king, subscribe it with the cross
of Christ." (+) -- "And I Ethelred, the king's brother, granted
the same with the cross of Christ." (+) -- "And we, the king's
sisters, Kyneburga and Kyneswitha, approve it." -- "And I
Archbishop of Canterbury, Deus-dedit, ratify it." -- Then
confirmed it all the others that were there with the cross of
Christ (+): namely, Ithamar, Bishop of Rochester; Wina, Bishop of
London; Jeruman, Bishop of the Mercians; and Tuda, bishop; and
Wilfrid, priest, who was afterwards bishop; and Eoppa, priest,
whom the king, Wulfere, sent to preach christianity in the Isle
of Wight; and Saxulf, abbot; and Immine, alderman, and Edbert,
alderman, and Herefrith, alderman, and Wilbert, alderman, and
Abo, alderman; Ethelbald, Brord, Wilbert, Elmund, Frethegis.
These, and many others that were there, the king's most loyal
subjects, confirmed it all. This charter was written after our
Lord's Nativity 664 -- the seventh year of King Wulfere -- the
ninth year of Archbishop Deus-dedir. Then they laid God's curse,
and the curse of all saints, and all christian folks, on
whosoever undid anything that there was done. "So be it," saith
all. "Amen." -- When this thing was done, then sent the king to
Rome to the Pope Vitalianus that then was, and desired, that he
would ratify with his writ and with his blessing, all this
aforesaid thing. And the pope then sent his writ, thus saying:
"I Vitalianus, pope, grant thee, King Wulfere, and Deus-dedit,
archbishop, and Abbot Saxulf, all the things that you desire.
And I forbid, that any king, or any man, have any ingress, but
the abbot alone; nor shall he be Subject to any man, except the
Pope of Rome and the Archbishop of Canterbury. If any one
breaketh anything of this, St. Peter with his sword destroy him.
Whosoever holdeth it, St. Peter with heaven's key undo him the
kingdom of heaven." -- Thus was the minster of Medhamsted begun,
that was afterwards called Peter-borough. Afterwards came
another archbishop to Canterbury, who was called Theodorus; a
very good man and wise; and held his synod with his bishops and
with his clerk. There was Wilfrid, bishop of the Mercians,
deprived of his bishopric; and Saxulf, abbot, was there chosen
bishop; and Cuthbald, monk of the same minster, was chosen abbot.
This synod was holden after our Lord's Nativity six hundred and
A.D. 658. This year Kenwal fought with the Welsh at Pen, and
pursued them to the Parret. This battle was fought after his
return from East-Anglia, where he was three years in exile.
Penda had driven him thither and deprived him of his kingdom,
because he had discarded his sister.
A.D. 660. This year Bishop Egelbert departed from Kenwal; and
Wina held the bishopric three years. And Egbert accepted the
bishopric of Paris, in Gaul, by the Seine.
A.D. 661. This year, at Easter, Kenwal fought at Pontesbury; and
Wulfere, the son of Penda, pursued him as far as Ashdown.
Cuthred, the son of Cwichelm, and King Kenbert, died in one year.
Into the Isle of Wight also Wulfere, the son of Penda,
penetrated, and transferred the inhabitants to Ethelwald, king of
the South-Saxons, because Wulfere adopted him in baptism. And
Eoppa, a mass-priest, by command of Wilfrid and King Wulfere, was
the first of men who brought baptism to the people of the Isle of
A.D. 664. This year the sun was eclipsed, on the eleventh of
May; and Erkenbert, King of Kent, having died, Egbert his son
succeeded to the kingdom. Colman with his companions this year
returned to his own country. This same year there was a great
plague in the island Britain, in which died Bishop Tuda, who was
buried at Wayleigh -- Chad and Wilferth were consecrated -- And
Archbishop Deus-dedit died.
A.D. 667. This year Oswy and Egbert sent Wighard, a priest, to
Rome, that he might be consecrated there Archbishop of
Canterbury; but he died as soon as he came thither.
((A.D. 667. This year Wighard went to Rome, even as King Oswy,
and Egbert had sent him.))
A.D. 668. This year Theodore was consecrated archbishop, and
sent into Britain.
A.D. 669. This year King Egbert gave to Bass, a mass-priest,
Reculver -- to build a minster upon.
A.D. 670. This year died Oswy, King of Northumberland, on the
fifteenth day before the calends of March; and Egferth his son
reigned after him. Lothere, the nephew of Bishop Egelbert,
succeeded to the bishopric over the land of the West-Saxons, and
held it seven years. He was consecrated by Archbishop Theodore.
Oswy was the son of Ethelfrith, Ethelfrith of Ethelric, Ethelric
of Ida, Ida of Eoppa.
A.D. 671. This year happened that great destruction among the
A.D. 672. This year died King Cenwal; and Sexburga his queen
held the government one year after him.
A.D. 673. This year died Egbert, King of Kent; and the same year
there was a synod at Hertford; and St. Etheldritha began that
monastery at Ely.
A.D. 674. This year Escwin succeeded to the kingdom of Wessex.
He was the son of Cenfus, Cenfus of Cenferth, Cenferth of
Cuthgils, Cuthgils of Ceolwulf, Ceolwulf of Cynric, Cynric of
A.D. 675. This year Wulfere, the son of Penda, and Escwin, the
son of Cenfus, fought at Bedwin. The same year died Wulfere, and
Ethelred succeeded to the government. In his time sent he to
Rome Bishop Wilfrid to the pope that then was, called Agatho, and
told him by word and by letter, how his brothers Peada and
Wulfere, and the Abbot Saxulf, had wrought a minster, called
Medhamsted; and that they had freed it, against king and against
bishop, from every service; and he besought him that he would
confirm it with his writ and with his blessing. And the pope
sent then his writ to England, thus saying: "I Agatho, Pope of
Rome, greet well the worthy Ethelred, king of the Mercians, and
the Archbishop Theodorus of Canterbury, and Saxulf, the bishop of
the Mercians, who before was abbot, and all the abbots that are
in England; God's greeting and my blessing. I have heard the
petition of King Ethelred, and of the Archbishop Theodorus, and
of the Bishop Saxulf, and of the Abbot Cuthbald; and I will it,
that it in all wise be as you have spoken it. And I ordain, in
behalf of God, and of St. Peter, and of all saints, and of every
hooded head, that neither king, nor bishop, nor earl, nor any man
whatever, have any claim, or gable, or gild, or levy, or take any
service of any kind, from the abbey of Medhamsted. I command
also, that no shire-bishop be so bold as to hold an ordination or
consecration within this abbacy, except the abbot intreat him,
nor have there any claim to proxies, or synodals, or anything
whatever of any kind. And I will, that the abbot be holden for
legate of Rome over all that island; and whatever abbot is there
chosen by the monks that he be consecrated by the Archbishop of
Canterbury. I will and decree, that, whatever man may have made
a vow to go to Rome, and cannot perform it, either from
infirmity, or for his lord's need, or from poverty, or from any
other necessity of any kind whatever, whereby he cannot come
thither, be he of England, or of whatever other island he be, he
may come to that minster of Medhamsted, and have the same
forgiveness of Christ and St. Peter, and of the abbot, and of the
monks, that he should have if he went to Rome. Now bid I thee,
brother Theodorus, that thou let it be proclaimed through all
England, that a synod be gathered, and this writ be read and
observed. Also I tell thee, Bishop Saxulf, that, as thou
desirest it, that the minster be free, so I forbid thee, and all
the bishops that after thee come, from Christ and from all his
saints, that ye have no demand from that minster, except so much
as the abbot will. Now will I say in a word, that, whoso holdeth
this writ and this decree, then be he ever dwelling with God
Almighty in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso breaketh it, then
be he excommunicated, and thrust down with Judas, and with all
the devils in hell, except he come to repentance. Amen!" This
writ sent the Pope Agatho, and a hundred and twenty-five bishops,
by Wilfrid, Archbishop of York, to England. This was done after
our Lord's Nativity 680, the sixth year of King Ethelred. Then
the king commanded the Archbishop Theodorus, that he should
appoint a general Wittenmoot at the place called Hatfield. When
they were there collected, then he allowed the letter to be read
that the pope sent thither; and all ratified and confirmed it.
Then said the king: "All things that my brother Peada, and my
brother Wulfere, and my sisters, Kyneburga and Kyneswitha, gave
and granted to St. Peter and the abbot, these I will may stand;
and I will in my day increase it, for their souls and for my
soul. Now give I St. Peter to-day into his minster, Medhamsted,
these lands, and all that thereto lyeth; that is, Bredon,
Repings, Cadney, Swineshead, Hanbury, Lodeshall, Scuffanhall,
Cosford, Stratford, Wattleburn, Lushgard, Ethelhun-island,
Bardney. These lands I give St. Peter just as freely as I
possessed them myself; and so, that none of my successors take
anything therefrom. Whoso doeth it, have he the curse of the
Pope of Rome, and the curse of all bishops, and of all those that
are witnesses here. And this I confirm with the token of
Christ." (+) "I Theodorus, Archbishop of Canterbury, am witness
to this charter of Medhamsted; and I ratify it with my hand, and
I excommunicate all that break anything thereof; and I bless all
that hold it." (+) "I Wilfrid, Archbishop of York, am witness to
this charter; and I ratify this same curse." (+) "I Saxulf, who
was first abbot, and now am bishop, I give my curse, and that of
all my successors, to those who break this." -- "I Ostritha,
Ethelred's queen, confirm it." -- "I Adrian, legate, ratify it."
-- "I Putta, Bishop of Rochester, subscribe it." -- "I Waldhere,
Bishop of London, confirm it." -- "I Cuthbald, abbot, ratify it;
so that, whoso breaketh it, have he the cursing of all bishops
and of all christian folk. Amen."
A.D. 676. This year, in which Hedda succeeded to his bishopric,
Escwin died; and Centwin obtained the government of the West-
Saxons. Centwin was the son of Cynegils, Cynegils of Ceolwulf.
Ethelred, king of the Mercians, in the meantime, overran the land
A.D. 678. This year appeared the comet-star in August, and shone
every morning, during three months, like a sunbeam. Bishop
Wilfrid being driven from his bishopric by King Everth, two
bishops were consecrated in his stead, Bosa over the Deirians,
and Eata over the Bernicians. About the same time also Eadhed
was consecrated bishop over the people of Lindsey, being the
first in that division.
A.D. 679. This year Elwin was slain, by the river Trent, on the
spot where Everth and Ethelred fought. This year also died St.
Etheldritha; and the monastery of Coldingiham was destroyed by
fire from heaven.
A.D. 680. This year Archbishop Theodore appointed a synod at
Hatfield; because he was desirous of rectifying the belief of
Christ; and the same year died Hilda, Abbess of Whitby.
A.D. 681. This year Trumbert was consecrated Bishop of Hexham,
and Trumwin bishop of the Picts; for they were at that time
subject to this country. This year also Centwin pursued the
Britons to the sea.
A.D. 684. This year Everth sent an army against the Scots, under
the command of his alderman, Bright, who lamentably plundered and
burned the churches of God.
A.D. 685. This year King Everth commanded Cuthbert to be
consecrated a bishop; and Archbishop Theodore, on the first day
of Easter, consecrated him at York Bishop of Hexham; for Trumbert
had been deprived of that see. The same year Everth was slain by
the north sea, and a large army with him, on the thirteenth day
before the calends of June. He continued king fifteen winters;
and his brother Elfrith succeeded him in the government. Everth
was the son of Oswy. Oswy of Ethelferth, Ethelferth of Ethelric,
Ethelric of Ida, Ida of Eoppa. About this time Ceadwall began to
struggle for a kingdom. Ceadwall was the son of Kenbert, Kenbert
of Chad, Chad of Cutha, Cutha of Ceawlin, Ceawlin of Cynric,
Cynric of Cerdic. Mull, who was afterwards consigned to the
flames in Kent, was the brother of Ceadwall. The same year died
Lothhere, King of Kent; and John was consecrated Bishop of
Hexham, where he remained till Wilferth was restored, when John
was translated to York on the death of Bishop Bosa. Wilferth his
priest was afterwards consecrated Bishop of York, and John
retired to his monastery (21) in the woods of Delta. This year
there was in Britain a bloody rain, and milk and butter were
turned to blood.
((A.D. 685. And in this same year Cuthbert was consecrated
Bishop of Hexham by Archbishop Theodore at York, because Bishop
Tumbert had been driven from the bishopric.))
A.D. 686. This year Ceadwall and his brother Mull spread
devastation in Kent and the Isle of Wight. This same Ceadwall
gave to St. Peter's minster, at Medhamsted, Hook; which is
situated in an island called Egborough. Egbald at this time was
abbot, who was the third after Saxulf; and Theodore was
archbishop in Kent.
A.D. 687. This year was Mull consigned to the flames in Kent,
and twelve other men with him; after which, in the same year,
Ceadwall overran the kingdom of Kent.
A.D. 688. This year Ceadwall went to Rome, and received baptism
at the hands of Sergius the pope, who gave him the name of Peter;
but in the course of seven nights afterwards, on the twelfth day
before the calends of May, he died in his crisom-cloths, and was
buried in the church of St. Peter. To him succeeded Ina in the
kingdom of Wessex, and reigned thirty-seven winters. He founded
the monastery of Glastonbury; after which he went to Rome, and
continued there to the end of his life. Ina was the son of
Cenred, Cenred of Ceolwald; Ceolwald was the brother of Cynegils;
and both were the sons of Cuthwin, who was the son of Ceawlin;
Ceawlin was the son of Cynric, and Cynric of Cerdic.
((A.D. 688. This year King Caedwalla went to Rome, and received
baptism of Pope Sergius, and he gave him the name of Peter, and
in about seven days afterwards, on the twelfth before the kalends
of May, while he was yet in his baptismal garments, he died: and
he was buried in St. Peter's church. And Ina succeeded to the
kingdom of the West-Saxons after him, and he reigned twenty-seven
A.D. 690. This year Archbishop Theodore, who had been bishop
twenty-two winters, departed this life, (22) and was buried
within the city of Canterbury. Bertwald, who before this was
abbot of Reculver, on the calends of July succeeded him in the
see; which was ere this filled by Romish bishops, but henceforth
with English. Then were there two kings in Kent, Wihtred and
A.D. 693. This year was Bertwald consecrated archbishop by
Godwin, bishop of the Gauls, on the fifth day before the nones of
July; about which time died Gifmund, who was Bishop of Rochester;
and Archbishop Bertwald consecrated Tobias in his stead. This
year also Dryhtelm (23) retired from the world.
A.D. 694. This year the people of Kent covenanted with Ina, and
gave him 30,000 pounds in friendship, because they had burned his
brother Mull. Wihtred, who succeeded to the kingdom of Kent, and
held it thirty-three winters, was the son of Egbert, Egbert of
Erkenbert, Erkenbert of Eadbald, Eadbald of Ethelbert. And as
soon as he was king, he ordained a great council to meet in the
place that is called Bapchild; in which presided Wihtred, King of
Kent, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Brihtwald, and Bishop Tobias
of Rochester; and with him were collected abbots and abbesses,
and many wise men, all to consult about the advantage of God's
churches that are in Kent. Now began the king to speak, and
said, "I will that all the minsters and the churches, that were
given and bequeathed to the worship of God in the days of
believing kings, my predecessors, and in the days of my relations
of King Ethelbert and of those that followed him -- shall so
remain to the worship of God, and stand fast for evermore. For I
Wihtred, earthly king, urged on by the heavenly king, and with
the spirit of righteousness annealed, have of our progenitors
learned this, that no layman should have any right to possess
himself of any church or of any of the things that belong to the
church. And, therefore, strongly and truly, we set and decree,
and in the name of Almighty God, and of all saints, we forbid all
our succeeding kings, and aldermen, and all lawmen, ever, any
lordship over churches, and over all their appurtenances, which I
or my elders in old days have given for a perpetual inheritance
to the glory of Christ and our Lady St. Mary, and the holy
apostles. And look! when it happeneth, that bishop, or abbot,
or abbess, depart from this life, be it told the archbishop, and
with his counsel and injunction be chosen such as be worthy. And
the life of him, that shall be chosen to so holy a thing, let the
archbishop examine, and his cleanness; and in no wise be chosen
any one, or to so holy a thing consecrated, without the
archbishop's counsel. Kings shall appoint earls, and aldermen,
sheriffs, and judges; but the archbishop shall consult and
provide for God's flock: bishops, and abbots, and abbesses, and
priests, and deacons, he shall choose and appoint; and also
sanctify and confirm with good precepts and example, lest that
any of God's flock go astray and perish --"
A.D. 697. This year the Southumbrians slew Ostritha, the queen
of Ethelred, the sister of Everth.
A.D. 699. This year the Picts slew Alderman Burt.
A.D. 702. This year Kenred assumed the government of the
A.D. 703. This year died Bishop Hedda, having held the see of
Winchester twenty-seven winters.
A.D. 704. This year Ethelred, the son of Penda, King of Mercia,
entered into a monastic life, having reigned twenty-nine winters;
and Cenred succeeded to the government.
A.D. 705. This year died Ealdferth, king of the Northumbrians,
on the nineteenth day before the calends of January, at
Driffield; and was succeeded by his son Osred. Bishop Saxulf
also died the same year.
A.D. 709. This year died Aldhelm, who was bishop by Westwood.
The land of the West-Saxons was divided into two bishoprics in
the first days of Bishop Daniel; who held one whilst Aldhelm held
the other. Before this it was only one. Forthere succeeded to
Aldhelm; and Ceolred succeeded to the kingdom of Mercia. And
Cenred went to Rome; and Offa with him. And Cenred was there to
the end of his life. The same year died Bishop Wilferth, at
Oundle, but his body was carried to Ripon. He was the bishop
whom King Everth compelled to go to Rome.
A.D. 710. This year Acca, priest of Wilferth, succeeded to the
bishopric that Wilferth ere held; and Alderman Bertfrith fought
with the Picts between Heugh and Carau. Ina also, and Nun his
relative, fought with Grant, king of the Welsh; and the same year
Hibbald was slain.
A.D. 714. This year died Guthlac the holy, and King Pepin.
A.D. 715. This year Ina and Ceolred fought at Wanborough; (24)
and King Dagobert departed this life.
A.D. 716. This year Osred, king of the Northumbrians, was slain
near the southern borders. He reigned eleven winters after
Ealdferth. Cenred then succeeded to the government, and held it
two years; then Osric, who held it eleven years. This same year
died Ceolred, king of the Mercians. His body lies at Lichfield;
but that of Ethelred, the son of Penda, at Bardney. Ethelbald
then succeeded to the kingdom of Mercia, and held it one and
forty winters. Ethelbald was the son of Alwy, Alwy of Eawa, Eawa
of Webba, whose genealogy is already written. The venerable
Egbert about this time converted the monks of Iona to the right
faith, in the regulation of Easter, and the ecclesiastical
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