This Egelred (as you haue heard) had euill successe in his warres against the Danes, and besides the calamitie that fell thereby to his people, manie other miseries oppressed this land in his daies, not so much through his lacke of courage and slouthfull negligence, as by reason of his presumptuous pride, whereby he alienated the hearts of [Sidenote: The pride of king Egelred alienated the harts of his people.] his people from him. His affections he could not rule, but was led by them without order of reason, for he did not onlie disherit diuerse of his owne English subiects without apparant cause of offense by plaine forged cauillations; and also caused all the Danes to be murdered through his realme in one day, by some light suspicion of their euill meanings: but also gaue himselfe to lecherous lusts, in abusing his bodie with naughtie strumpets, forsaking the bed of his owne lawfull wife, to the great infamie & shame of that high degree of maiestie, which by his kinglie office he bare and susteined. To conclude, he was from his tender youth more apt to idle rest, than to the exercise of warres; more giuen to pleasures of the bodie, than to anie vertues of the mind: although that toward his latter end, being growen into age, and taught by long experience of worldlie affaires, and proofe of passed miseries, he sought (though in vaine) to haue recouered the decaied state of his common wealth and countrie.
In this Egelreds time, and (as it is recorded by a British chronographer) in the yeere of our Lord 984, one Cadwalhon, the second sonne of Ieuaf tooke in hand the gouernance of Northwales, and first made warre with Ionauall his coosen, the sonne of Meyric, and right heire to the land, and slue him, but Edwall the yoongest brother escaped awaie priuilie. The yeere following, Meredith the sonne of Owen king or prince of Southwales, with all his power entered into Northwales, and in fight slue Cadwalhon the sonne of Ieuaf, and Meyric his brother, and conquered the land to himselfe. Wherein a man maie [Sidenote: See the historie of Cambria pag. 62, 63.] see how God punished the wrong, which Iago and Ieuaf the sonnes of Edwall Voell did to their eldest brother Meyric, who was first disherited, and afterward his eies put out, and one of his sonnes slaine. For first Ieuaf was imprisoned by Iago; then Iago with his sonne Constantine, by Howell the son of Ieuaf: and afterward the said Howell, with his brethren Cadwalhon and Meyric, were slaine and spoiled of all their lands.
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Edmund Ironside succedeth his father in the kingdome, the spiritualtie favouring Cnute would haue him to be king, the Londoners are his backe friends, they receiue Edmund their king honorablie and ioifullie, Cnute is proclaimed king at Southampton, manie of the states cleaue vnto him, he besiegeth London by water and land, the citizens giue him the foile, he incountreth with king Edmund and is discomfited, two battels fought betweene the Danes and English with equall fortune and like successe, the traitorous stratagem of Edrike the Dane, king Edmund aduisedlie defeateth Edriks trecherie, 20000 of both armies slaine, Cnute marching towards London is pursued of Edmund, the Danes are repelled, incountred, and vanquished; queene Emma prouideth for the safetie of hir sonnes; the Danes seeke a pacification with Edmund, thereby more easilie to betraie him; Cnute with his armie lieth neere Rochester, king Edmund pursueth them, both armies haue a long and a sore conflict, the Danes discomfited, and manie of them slaine; Cnute with his power assemble at Essex and there make waste, king Edmund pursuith them, Edrike traitorouslie reuolteth from the English to succour the Danes, king Edmund is forced to get him out of the field, the Englishmen put to their hard shifts and slaine by heapes; what noble personages were killed in this battell, of two dead bodies latelie found in the place where this hot and heauie skirmish was fought.
THE NINTH CHAPTER.
[Sidenote: EDMUND IRONSIDE.] After that king Egelred was dead, his eldest sonne Edmund surnamed Ironside was proclaimed king by the Londoners and others, hauing the assistance of some lords of the realme, although the more part, and [Sidenote: The kingdom goeth where the spiritualtie fauoreth.] speciallie those of the spiritualtie fauoured Cnute, bicause they had aforetime sworne fealtie to his father. Some write, that Cnute had planted his siege both by water and land verie stronglie about the citie of London, before Egelred departed this life, and immediatlie vpon his deceasse was receiued into the citie; but the armie that was within the citie, not consenting vnto the surrender made by the citizens, departed the night before the day on the which Cnute by appointment should enter, and in companie of Edmund Ironside (whome they had chosen to be their king and gouernour) they prepared to increase their numbers with new supplies, meaning eftsoones to trie [Sidenote: The author of the booke intitled Encomium Emmae saith that it was reported that Edmund offered the combate unto Cnute at this his going from the citie but Cnute refused it.] the fortune of battell against the Danish power. Cnute perceiuing the most part of all the realme to be thus against him, and hauing no great confidence in the loialtie of the Londoners, tooke order to leauie monie for the paiment of his men of warre and mariners that belonged to his nauie, left the citie, and imbarking himselfe, sailed to the Ile of Shepie, and there remained all the winter. In which meane while, Edmund Ironside came to London, where he was ioifullie receiued of the citizens, and continuing there till the spring of the yeere, made himselfe strong against the enimies.
[Sidenote: 1016.] This Edmund for his noble courage, strength of bodie, and notable patience to indure and suffer all such hardnesse and paines as is requisite in a man of warre, was surnamed Ironside, & began his reigne in the yeere of our Lord 1016, in the sixteenth yeere of the emperor Henrie the second surnamed Claudius, in the twentieth yeere of the reigne of Robert king of France, & about the sixt yeere of Malcolme the second king of the Scots. After that king Edmund had receiued the crowne in the citie of London by the hands of the archbishop of Yorke, he assembled togither such a power as he could make, and with the same marched foorth towards the west parts, and made the countrie subiect [Sidenote: Ran. Higd.] to him. In the meane time was Cnute proclaimed and ordeined king at Southampton by the bishops and abbats, and diuerse lords also of the temporaltie there togither assembled, vnto whome he sware to be their good and faithfull souereigne, and that he would see iustice trulie and vprightlie ministred.
[Sidenote: Hen. Hunt. Simon Dun.] After he had ended his businesse at Southampton, he drew with his people towards London, and comming thither, besieged the citie both by water and land, causing a great trench to be cast about it, so that [Sidenote: London besieged.] no man might either get in or come foorth. Manie great assalts he caused to be giuen vnto the citie, but the Londoners and others within so valiantlie defended the wals and gates, that the enimies got small aduantage, and at length were constreined to depart with losse. [Sidenote: Cnute at Gillingham in Dorsetshire put to flight. Polydor.] Cnute then perceiuing that he might not haue his purpose there, withdrew westward, and besides Gillingham in Dorsetshire, incountred with K. Edmund in the Rogation weeke, and after sore & sharpe battell was put to the woorse, and constreined to forsake the field by the high prowesse & manhood of the said Edmund. King Cnute the same night, after the armies were seuered, departed towards Winchester, so to get [Sidenote: Salisburie besieged.] himselfe out of danger. Shortlie after, king Edmund hearing that an other armie of the Danes had besieged Salisburie, marched thither to succour them within, and immediatlie Cnute followed him, so that at [Sidenote: Simon Dun. Matth. West. Wil. Malm. A battel with equall fortune.] a place in Worcestershire called Scorastan, on the foure and twentith of June, they incountred togither, and fought a verie cruell battell, which at length the night parted with equall fortune. And [Sidenote: An other batttel with like successes.] likewise on the next day they buckled togither againe, and fought with like successe as they had doone the day before, for towards euening they gaue ouer well wearied, and not knowing to whome the victorie ought to be ascribed.
[Sidenote: Edrike de Streona his treason. Simon Dun.] Writers haue reported, that this second day, when duke Edrike perceiued the Englishmen to be at point to haue got the vpper hand, he withdrew aside, and hauing by chance slaine a common souldier called Osmear, which in visage much resembled king Edmund, whose head he cut off, held it vp, & shaking his swoord bloudie with the slaughter, cried to the Englishmen; "Flee ye wretches, flee and get awaie, for your king is dead, behold heere his head which I hold in my hands." Heerewith had the Englishmen fled immediatlie, if king Edmund aduised of this stratagem, had not quicklie got him to an high ground where his men might see him aliue and lustie. Heerewith also the traitor Edrike escaped hardlie the danger of death, the Englishmen shot so egerlie at him. At length, as is said, the night parting them in sunder, they withdrew the one armie from the other, as it had beene by consent. The third day they remained in armor, but yet absteining from battell, sate still, in taking meate and drinke to relieue their wearied bodies, and after gathered in heapes the dead carcases [Sidenote: Twentie thousand dead bodies.] that had beene slaine in the former fight, the number of which on either partie reckoned, rose to the point of twentie thousand and aboue.
[Sidenote: The armies dislodged.] In the night following, Cnute remooued his campe in secret wise, and marched towards London, which citie in a maner remained besieged by the nauie of the Danes. King Edmund in the morning when the light had discouered the departure of his enimies, followed them by the tract, and comming to London with small adoo remooued the siege, and [Sidenote: The Danes ouercome at Brentford. Wil. Malm. Hen. Hunt. Fabian. Caxton. Polydor.] entered the citie like a conqueror. Shortlie after he fought with the Danes at Brentford, and gaue them a great ouerthrow. In this meane while queene Emma the widow of king Egelred, doubting the fortune of the warre, sent hir two sonnes Alfred and Edward ouer into Normandie vnto hir brother duke Richard, or rather fled thither hirselfe with them (as some write.)
Moreouer, earle Edrike, perceiuing the great manhood of king Edmund, began to feare, least in the end he should subdue and vanquish the Danes, wherefore he sought meanes to conclude a peace, and take such order with him as might stand with both their contentations, which yer long he brought about. This was doone (as you shall heare) by the [Sidenote: Henr. Hunt.] consent of Cnute (as some write) to the intent that Edrike being put in trust with king Edmund, might the more easilie deuise waies how to betraie him. But Cnute disappointed of his purpose at London, and fetching a great bootie and preie out of the countries next adjoining, repared to his ships, to see what order was amongst them, which a little before were withdrawen into the riuer that passeth by [Sidenote: The river of Medwaie.] Rochester called Medwaie. Heere Cnute remained certeine daies, both to assemble a greater power, and also to hearken and learne what his enimies ment to doo, the which he easilie vnderstood.
[Sidenote: King Edmund's diligence] King Edmund, who hated nothing woorse than to linger his businesse, assembled his people, and marching forward toward his enimies, approched neere vnto them, & pitcht downe his tents not farre from his enimies campe, exhorting his people to remember their passed victories, and to doo their good willes, at length by one battell so to ouerthrow them, that they might make an end of the warre, and dispatch them cleerelie out of the realme. With these and the like woords he did so incourage his souldiers, that they disdaining thus to haue the enimies dailie prouoke them, and to put them to trouble, with eger minds and fierce courages offered battell to the Danes, which Cnute had prepared to receiue whensoeuer the Englishmen approched: and heerewith bringing his men into araie, he came foorth to meet his [Sidenote: The battell is begun.] enimies. Then was the battell begun with great earnestnesse on both sides, & continued foure houres, till at length the Danes began somewhat to shrinke, which when Cnute perceiued, he commanded his horssemen to come forward into the forepart of his dawnted host.
[Sidenote: The Danes put to flight.] But whilest one part of the Danes gaue backe with feare, and the other came slowlie forward, the arraie of the whole armie was broken, & then without respect of shame they fled amaine, so that there [Sidenote: The number of Danes slaine. Polydor. Fabian. Ran. Higd. Matt. West. Hen. Hunt. Will. Malmes.] died that day of Cnutes side foure thousand and fiue hundred men; and of king Edmunds side, not past six hundred, and those were footmen. This battell was fought as should appeere by diuerse writers, at Okefort or Oteford. It was thought, that if king Edmund had pursued the victorie and followed in chase of his enimies in such wise as he safelie might haue doone, he had made that day an end of the warres: [Sidenote: Edriks counsell.] but he was counselled by Edrike (as some write) in no condition to follow them, but to staie and giue time to his people to refresh their wearie bodies. Then Cnute with his armie passed ouer the Thames into Essex, and there assembled all his power togither, and began to spoile and waste the countrie on each hand. King Edmund aduertised thereof, hasted foorth to succour his people, and at Ashdone in Essex three miles from Saffron Walden, gaue battell to Cnute, where after sore and cruell fight continued with great slaughter on both sides a long time, duke Edrike fled to the comfort of the Danes, and to the discomfort of the Englishmen.
Heerevpon king Edmund was constreined in the end to depart out of the field, hauing first doone all that could be wished in a woorthie chieftaine, both by woords to incourage his men, & by deeds to shew them good example; so that at one time the Danes were at point to haue giuen backe, but that Cnute aduised thereof, rushed into the left wing where most danger was, and so relieued his people there, that finallie the Englishmen, both wearied with long fight, and also discouraged with the running awaie of some of their companie, were constreined to giue ouer, and by flight to seeke their safegard, so that king Edmund might not by anie meanes bring them againe into order. Heerevpon all the waies and passages being forelaid and stopped by the enimies, [Sidenote: [*Sic.]] the Englishmen wanting both carriage* to make longer resistance, and perceiuing no hope to rest in fleeing, were beaten downe and slaine in heapes, so that few escaped from that dreadfull and bloudie battell.
[Sidenote: Noble men slaine at the battell of Ashdone. Simon Dun. Wil. Malm.] There died on king Edmunds side, duke Edmund, duke Alfrike, and duke Goodwine, with earle Vlfekettell or Vrchell of Eastangle, and duke Aileward, that was sonne to Ardelwine late duke of Eastangle; and to be briefe, all the floure of the English nobilitie. There were also slaine at this battell manie renowmed persons of the spiritualtie, as [Sidenote: King Edmund withdraweth into Glocestershire.] the bishop of Lincolne, and the abbat of Ramsey, with others: king Edmund escaping awaie, got him into Glocestershire, and there began to raise a new armie. In the place where this field was fought, are yet seuen or eight hils, wherein the carcases of them that were slaine at the same field were buried: and one being digged downe of late, there were found two bodies in a coffin of stone, of which the one laie with his head towards the others feet, and manie chaines of iron, (like to the water-chains of the bits of horsses) were found in the same hill. But now to the matter.
* * * * *
London & other great cities & townes submit themselues to Cnute, he hasteth after Edmund with his power, both their armies being readie to incounter by occasion are staied, the oration of a capteine in the hearing of both hosts; the title and right of the realme of England is put to the triall of combat betweene Cnute and Edmund, Cnute is ouermatched, his woords to king Edmund, both kings are pacified and their armies accorded, the realme diuided betwixt Cnute and Edmund, king Edmund traitorouslie slaine, the dissonant report of writers touching the maners of his death, and both the kings dealing about the partition of the realme, Cnute causeth Edrike to be slaine for procuring king Edmunds death, wherein the reward of treason is noted; how long king Edmund reigned, and where he was buried, the eclipsed state of England after his death, and in whose time it recouered some part of its brightnesse.
THE TENTH CHAPTER.
In the meane while that Edmund was busie to leauie a new armie in Glocester, and other parties of Mercia, Cnute hauing got so great a victorie (as before is mentioned) receiued into his obeisance, not onelie the citie of London, but also manie other cities and townes of great name, and shortlie after hasted forward to pursue his enimie king Edmund, who was readie with a mightie host to trie the vttermost chance of battell if they should eftsoones ioine. Heerevpon, both [Sidenote: Polydor.] the armies being readie to giue the onset, the one in sight of the other at a place called Dearehurst, neere to the riuer of Seuerne, by [Sidenote: Matth. West. Simon Dun.] the drift of duke Edrike, who then at length began to shew some token of good meaning, the two kings came to a communication, and in the end concluded an agreement, as some haue written, without anie more adoo. Others write, that when both the armies were at point to [Sidenote: Matth. West. saith this was Edrike.] haue ioined, one of the capteins (but whether he were a Dane or an Englishman, it is not certeinlie told) stood vp in such a place, as he might be heard of both the princes, & boldlie vttered his mind in forme following.
The oration of a capteine in the audience of the English and Danish armie.
"We haue, most woorthie capteins, fought long inough one against another, there hath beene but too much bloud shed betweene both the nations, and the valiancie of the souldiers on both sides is sufficientlie seene by triall, & either of your manhoods likewise, and yet can you beare neither good nor euill fortune. If one of you win the battell, he pursueth him that is ouercome; and if he chance to be vanquished, he resteth not till he haue recouered new strength to fight eftsoones with him that is victor. What should you meane by this your inuincible courage? At what marke shooteth your greedie desire to beare rule, and your excessive thirst to atteine honour? If you fight for a kingdome, diuide it betweene you two, which sometime was sufficient for seuen kings: but if you couet to winne fame and glorious renowme, and for the same are driuen to try the hazard whether ye shall command or obeie, deuise the waie whereby ye may without so great slaughter, and without such pitifull bloudshed of both your guiltlesse peoples, trie whether of you is most woorthie to be preferred."
[Sidenote: The two kings appoint to try the matter by a combat.] Thus made he an end, and the two princes allowed well of his last motion, and so order was taken, that they should fight togither in a singular combat within a litle Iland inclosed with the riuer of [Sidenote: Oldney.] Seuerne called Oldney, with condition, that whether of them chanced to be victor, should be king, and the other to resigne his title for euer into his hands. The two princes entering into the place appointed, in faire armour, began the battell in sight of both their armies ranged in goodlie order on either side the riuer, with doubtfull minds, and nothing ioifull, as they that wauered betwixt hope and feare. The two [Sidenote: Matt. Westm.] champions manfullie assailed either other, without sparing. First, they went to it on horssebacke, and after on foot. Cnute was a man [Sidenote: Cnute of what stature he was.] of a meane stature, but yet strong and hardie, so that receiuing a great blow by the hand of his aduersarie, which caused him somewhat to stagger; yet recouered himselfe, and boldly stept forward to be reuenged. But perceiuing he could not find aduantage, and that [Sidenote: Cnute ouermatched.] he was rather too weake, and shrewdlie ouermatched, he spake to [Sidenote: Cnutes woords to Edmund.] Edmund with a lowd voice on this wise: "What necessitie (saith he) ought thus to mooue vs, most valiant prince, that for the obteining of a kingdome, we should thus put our liues in danger? Better were it that laieng armour and malice aside, we should condescend to some reasonable agreement. Let vs become sworne brethren, and part the [Sidenote: H. Hunt.] kingdome betwixt vs: and let vs deale so friendlie, that thou maist vse my things as thine owne, and I thine as though they were mine." King Edmund with those woords of his aduersarie was so pacified, that immediatlie he cast awaie his swoord, and comming to [Sidenote: They make vp the matter betwixt themselves.] Cnute, ioined hands with him. Both the armies by their example did the like, which looked for the same fortune to fall on their countries, which should happen to their princes by the successe of that one battell. After this, there was an agreement deuised betwixt them, so that a partition of the realme was made, and that part that lieth fore against France, was assigned to Edmund, and the other [Sidenote: Wil. Malm.] fell to Cnute. There be that write, how the offer was made by king Edmund for the auoiding of more bloudshed, that the two princes should trie the matter thus togither in a singular combat. But Cnute refused the combat, bicause (as he alledged) the match was not equall. For although he was able to match Edmund in boldnesse of stomach, yet was he farre too weake to deale with a man of such strength as Edmund was knowne to be. But sith they did pretend title to the realme by due and good direct meanes, he thought it most conuenient that the kingdome should be diuided betwixt them. This motion was allowed of both the armies, so that king Edmund was of force constreined to be contented therewith.
Thus our common writers haue recorded of this agreement, but if I should not be thought presumptuous, in taking vpon me to reprooue, or rather but to mistrust that which hath beene receiued for a true narration in this matter, I would rather giue credit vnto that [Sidenote: Encomium Emmae.] which the author of the booke intituled "Encomium Emmae," dooth report in this behalfe. Which is that through persuasion of Edrike de Streona, king Edmund immediatelie after the battell fought at Ashdone, sent ambassadors vnto Cnute to offer vnto him peace, with halfe the realme of England, that is to say, the north parts, with condition that king Edmund might quietlie inioy the south parts, and therevpon haue pledges deliuered interchangeablie on either side.
Cnute hauing heard the effect of this message, staied to make answer till he heard what his councell would aduise him to doo in this behalfe: and vpon good deliberation taken in the matter, considering that he had lost no small number of people in the former battell, and that being farre out of his countrie, he could not well haue anie new supplie, where the Englishmen although they had likewise lost verie manie of their men of warre, yet being in their owne countrie, it should be an easie matter for them to restore their decaid number, it was thought expedient by the whole consent of all the Danish capteins, that the offer of king Edmund should be accepted.
Herevpon Cnute calling the ambassadors before him againe, declared vnto them, that he was contented to conclude a peace vpon such conditions as they had offered: but yet with this addition, that their king whatsoeuer he should be, should paie Cnutes souldiers their wages, with monie to be leuied of that part of the kingdome which the English king should possesse. "For (this saith he) I haue vndertaken to see them paid, and otherwise I will not grant to anie peace." The league and agreement therefore being concluded in this sort, pledges were deliuered and receiued on both parties, and the armies [Sidenote: This is alleged touching the partitiō of the kingdome.] discharged. But God (saith mine author) being mindfull of his old doctrine, that Euerie kingdome diuided in it selfe cannot long stand, shortlie after tooke Edmund out of this life: and by such meanes seemed to take pitie of the English kingdome, lest if both the kings should haue continued in life togither, they should haue liued in danger. And incontinentlie herevpon was Cnute chosen and receiued for absolute king of all the whole realme of England. Thus hath he written that liued in those daies, whose credit thereby is much aduanced.
Howbeit the common report of writers touching the death of Edmund varieth from this, who doo affirme, that after Cnute and Edmund were made friends, the serpent of enuie and false conspiracie burnt so in the hearts of some traitorous persons, that within a while after [Sidenote: K. Edmund traitorouslie slaine at Oxford. Fabian. Simon Dun.] king Edmund was slaine at Oxford, as he sat on a priuie to doo the necessaries of nature. The common report hath gone, that earle Edrike was the procurer of this villanous act, and that (as some write) his sonne did it. But the author that wrote "Encomium Emmae," writing of the death of Edmund, hath these words (immediatlie after he had first declared in what sort the two princes were agreed, and had made [Sidenote: This is alleged againe for the proofe of Edmunds natural death.] partition of the realme betwixt them:) But God (saith he) being mindfull of his old doctrine, that Euerie kingdome diuided in it selfe can not long stand, shortlie after tooke Edmund out of this life: and by such meanes seemed to take pitie vpon the English kingdome, least if both the kings should haue continued in life togither, they should both haue liued in great danger, and the realme in trouble. With this agreeth also Simon Dunel. who saith, that king Edmund died of naturall [Sidenote: Fabian.] sicknesse, by course of kind at London, about the feast of saint Andrew next insuing the late mentioned agreement.
[Sidenote: Ranul. Hig. Hen. Hunt.] And this should seeme true: for whereas these authors which report, that earle Edrike was the procurer of his death, doo also write, that when he knew the act to be done, he hasted vnto Cnute, and declared vnto him what he had brought to passe for his aduancement to the gouernment of the whole realme. Wherevpon Cnute, abhorring such a detestable fact, said vnto him: "Bicause thou hast for my sake, made away the worthiest bodie of the world, I shall raise thy head aboue all the lords of England," and so caused him to be put to death. [Sidenote: Some thinke that he was duke of Mercia before, and now had Essex adioined thereto.] Thus haue some bookes. Howbeit this report agreeth not with other writers, which declare how Cnute aduanced Edrike in the beginning of his reigne vnto high honor, and made him gouernor of Mercia, and vsed his counsell in manie things after the death of king Edmund, as in banishing Edwin, the brother of king Edmund, with his sonnes also, Edmund and Edward.
[Sidenote: Diuerse and discordant reports of Edmunds death. Ran. Higd. Wil. Malm.] But for that there is such discordance and variable report amongst writers touching the death of king Edmund, and some fables inuented thereof (as the manner is) we will let the residue of their reports passe; sith certeine it is, that to his end he came, after he had reigned about the space of one yeere, and so much more as is betweene the moneth of Iune and the latter end of Nouember. His bodie was buried at Glastenburie, neere his vncle Edgar. With this Edmund, surnamed Ironside, fell the glorious maiestie of the English kingdome, the which afterward as it had beene an aged bodie being sore decaied and weakened by the Danes, that now got possession of the whole, yet somewhat recouered after the space of 26 yeers vnder king Edward, surnamed the Confessor: and shortlie therevpon as it had beene falne into a resiluation, came to extreame ruine by the inuasion and conquest of the Normans: as after by Gods good helpe and fauorable assistance it shall appeare. So that it would make a diligent and marking reader both muse and moorne, to see how variable the state of this kingdome hath beene, & thereby to fall into a consideration of the frailtie and vncerteintie of this mortall life, which is no more free from securitie, than a ship on the sea in tempestuous weather. For as the casualties wherewith our life is inclosed and beset with round about, are manifold; so also are they miserable, so also are they sudden, so also are they vnauoidable. And true it is, that the life of man is in the hands of God, and the state of kingdoms dooth also belong vnto him, either to continue or discontinue. But to the processe of the matter.
* * * * *
Cnute vndertaketh the totall regiment of this land, he assembleth a councell at London, the nobles doo him homage, be diuideth the realme into foure parts to be gouerned by his assignes; Edwin and Edward the sonnes of Edmund are banished, their good fortune by honorable mariages, King Cnute marieth queene Emma the widow of Egelred, the wise and politike conditions wherevpon this mariage was concluded, the English bloud restored to the crowne and the Danes excluded, queene Emma praised for hir high wisedome in choosing an enimie to hir husband; Cnute dismisseth the Danish armie into Denmarke; Edrike de Streona bewraieth his former trecherie, and procureth his owne death through rashnesse and follie, the discordant report of writers touching the maner & cause of his death, what noble men were executed with him, and banished out of England, Cnute a monarch.
THE XJ. CHAPTER.
[Sidenote: CANUTE, KNOUGHT OR CNUTE.] Canute, or Cnute, whome the English chronicles doo name Knought, after the death of king Edmund, tooke vpon him the whole rule ouer all the realme of England, in the yeere of our Lord 1017, in the [Sidenote: 1017.] seuenteenth yeere of the emperour Henrie the second, surnamed Claudus, in the twentith yeere of the reigne of Robert king of France, and about the 7 yeere of Malcolme king of Scotland. Cnute shortlie after the death of king Edmund, assembled a councell at London, in the which he caused all the nobles of the realme to doo him homage, in receiuing an oth of loiall obeisance. He diuided the realme into foure parts, assigning Northumberland vnto the rule of Irke or Iricius, Mercia vnto Edrike, and Eastangle vnto Turkill, and reseruing the west part to his owne gouernance. He banished (as before is said) Edwin, the brother of king Edmund; but such as were suspected to be culpable of Edmunds death, he caused to be put to execution: whereby it should appeere, that Edrike was not then in anie wise detected or once thought to be giltie.
[Sidenote: Wil. Malm. Ran. Higd. King of churles. Wil. Malm.] The said Edwin afterwards returned, and was then reconciled to the kings fauor (as some write) but shortlie after traitorouslie slaine by his owne seruants. He was called the king of churles. Others write, that he came secretlie into the realme after he had beene banished, and keeping himselfe closelie out of sight, at length ended his life, and was buried at Tauestocke. Moreouer, Edwin and Edward the sonnes of king Edmund were banished the land, and sent first vnto Sweno king [Sidenote: Ran. Higd.] of Norweie to haue bin made away: but Sweno vpon remorse of conscience sent them into Hungarie, where they found great fauor at the hands of king Salomon, insomuch that Edwin maried the daughter of the same Salomon, but had no issue by hir. Edward was aduanced to marie with Agatha, daughter of the emperour Henrie, and by hir had issue two sonnes, Edmund and Edgar surnamed Edeling, and as many daughters, Margaret and Christine, of the which in place conuenient more shall be said.
[Sidenote: Polydor. King Cnute maried to queene Emma the widow of Egelred, in Iulie, anno. 1017.] When king Cnute had established things, as he thought stood most for his suertie, he called to his remembrance, that he had no issue but two bastard sonnes Harold and Sweno, begotten of his concubine Alwine. Wherefore he sent ouer to Richard duke of Normandie, requiring to haue queene Emma, the widow of king Egelred in mariage, and so obteined hir, not a little to the woonder of manie, which thought a great ouersight both in the woman and in hir brother, that would [Sidenote: Polydor.] satisfie the request of Cnute herein, considering he had beene such a mortall enimie to hir former husband. But duke Richard did not onelie consent, that his said sister should be maried vnto Cnute, but also he himselfe tooke to wife the ladie Hestritha, sister to the said Cnute.
Here ye haue to vnderstand, that this mariage was not made without [Sidenote: The couenants made at the mariage betwixt Cnute and Emma.] great consideration & large couenants granted on the part of king Cnute: for before he could obteine queene Emma to his wife, it was fullie condescended & agreed, that after Cnuts decease, the crowne of England should remaine to the issue borne of this mariage betwixt hir & Cnute, which couenant although it was not performed immediatlie after the deceasse of king Cnute, yet in the end it tooke place, so as the right seemed to be deferred, and not to be taken away nor abolished: for immediatlie vpon Harolds death that had vsurped, Hardicnute succeeded as right heire to the crowne, by force of the agreement made at the time of the mariage solemnized betwixt his father and mother, and being once established in the kingdome, he ordeined his brother Edward to succeed him, whereby the Danes were vtterlie excluded from all right that they had to pretend vnto the crowne of this land, and the English bloud restored thereto, chieflie by that gratious conclusion of this mariage betwixt king Cnute and [Sidenote: The English bloud restored. The praise of queene Emma for hir wisdome.] queene Emma. For the which no small praise was thought to be due vnto the said queene, sith by hir politike gouernement, in making hir match so beneficiall to hir selfe and hir line, the crowne was thus recouered out of the hands of the Danes, and restored againe in time [Sidenote: Encomium Emmae.] to the right heire, as by an auncient treatise which some haue intituled "Encomium Emmae," and was written in those daies, it dooth and may appeare. Which booke although there be but few copies thereof abroad, giueth vndoubtedlie great light to the historie of that time.
[Sidenote: Matth. West.] But now to our purpose. Cnute the same yeare in which he was thus maried, through persuasion of his wife queene Emma, sent awaie the Danish nauie and armie home into Denmarke, giuing to them fourescore and two thousand pounds of siluer, which was leuied throughout [Sidenote: Wil. Malm. 1018.] this land for their wages. In the yeare 1018, Edrike de Streona earle of Mercia was ouerthrowen in his owne turne: for being called before the king into his priuie chamber, and there in reasoning the matter about some quarrell that was picked to him, he began verie presumptuouslie to vpbraid the king of such pleasures as he had before time doone vnto him; "I did (said he) for the loue which I bare towards you, forsake my souereigne lord king Edmund, and at length for your sake slue him." At which words Cnute began to change countenance, as one maruellouslie abashed, and straightwaies gaue sentence against Edrike in this wise; "Thou art woorthie (saith he) of death, and die thou shalt, which art guiltie of treason both towards God and me, sith that thou hast slaine thine own souereigne lord, and my deere alied brother. Thy bloud therefore be vpon thine owne head, sith thy toong hath vttered thy treason." And immediatlie he caused his throat to be cut, and his bodie to be throwen out at the chamber window into the [Sidenote: Edrike put to death.] riuer of Thames. But others say, that hands were laid vpon him in the verie same chamber or closet where he murdered the king, & straightwaies to preuent all causes of tumults & hurlieburlies, he was put to death with terrible torments of fierbrands & links; which execution hauing passed vpon him, a second succeeded; for both his feet were bound together, and his bodie drawne through the streets of the citie, & in fine cast into a common ditch called Houndsditch; for that the citizens threw their dead dogs and stinking carrion with other filth into it, accounting him worthie of a worse rather than of a better buriall. In such hatred was treason had, being a vice which the verie infidels and grosse pagans abhorred, else would they not haue said, Proditionem amo, proditorem odi; Treason I loue, but a traitor I hate. This was the end of Edrike, surnamed de Stratten or Streona, a man of great infamie for his craftie dissimulation, falshood and treason, vsed by him to the ouerthrow of the English estate, as partlie before is touched.
[Sidenote: Simon Dun. Encomium Emmae.] But there be that concerning the cause of this Edriks death, seeme partlie to disagree from that which before is recited, declaring that Cnute standing in some doubt to be betraied through the treason of Edrike, sought occasion how to rid him and others (whome he mistrusted) out of the way. And therefore on a day when Edrike craued some preferment at Cnuts hands, & said that he had deserued to be well thought of, sith by his flight from the battell at Ashendon, the victorie therby inclined to Cnutes part: Cnute hearing him speake these words, made this answere: "And canst thou (quoth he) be true to me, that through fraudulent meanes diddest deceiue thy souereigne lord and maister? But I will reward thee according to thy deserts, so as from henceforth thou shalt not deceiue anie other," and so forthwith commanded Erike one of his chiefe capteines to dispatch him, who incontinentlie cut off his head with his axe or halbert. Verelie Simon Dunelmensis saith, that K. Cnute vnderstanding in what sort both king Egelred, and his sonne king Edmund Ironside had beene betraied by the said Edrike, stood in great doubt to be likewise deceiued by him, and therefore was glad to haue some pretended quarell, to dispatch both him and others, whome he likewise mistrusted, as it well appeared. For at the same time there were put to death with Edrike earle Norman the sonne of earle Leofwin, and brother to earle Leofrike: also Adelward the sonne of earle Agelmare and Brightrike the sonne of Alfegus gouernor of Deuonshire, without all guilt or cause (as some write.) And in place of Norman, his brother Leofrike was made earle of Mercia by the king, and had in great fauour. This Leofrike is commonlie also by writers named earle of Chester. After this, Cnute likewise banished Iric and Turkill, two Danes, the one (as before is recited) gouernor of Northumberland, and the other of Northfolke and Suffolke or Eastangle.
Then rested the whole rule of the realme in the kings hands, wherevpon he studied to preserue the people in peace, and ordeined lawes, [Sidenote: Hen. Hunt. Lords put to death.] according to the which both Danes and Englishmen should be gouerned in equall state and degree. Diuers great lords whome he found vnfaithfull or rather suspected, he put to death (as before ye haue heard) beside such as he banished out of the realme. He raised a tax [Sidenote: A taxe raised.] or tribute of the people, amounting to the summe of fourescore & two thousand pounds, besides 11000 pounds, which the Londoners paid towards the maintenance of the Danish armie. But whereas these things chaunced not all at one time, but in sundrie seasons, we will returne somewhat backe to declare what other exploits were atchiued in the meane time by Cnute, not onelie in England, but also in Denmarke, and elsewhere: admonishing the reader in the processe of the discourse following, that much excellent matter is comprehended, whereout (if the same be studiouslie read and diligentlie considered) no small profit is to be reaped, both for the augmentation of his owne knowledge and others that be studious.
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Cnute saileth into Denmarke to subdue the Vandals, earle Goodwins good seruice with the English against the said Vandals, and what benefit accrewed vnto the Englishmen by the said good seruice, he returneth into England after the discomfiture of the enimie, he saileth ouer againe into Denmarke and incountreth with the Sweideners, the occasion of this warre or incounter taken by Olauus, his hard hap, vnluckie fortune, and wofull death wrought by the hands of his owne vnnaturall subiects; Cnuts confidence in the Englishmen, his deuout voiage to Rome, his returne into England, his subduing of the Scots, his death and interrement.
THE TWELFTH CHAPTER.
[Sidenote: 1019. King Cnute passeth into Denmarke.] In the third yeare of his reigne Cnute sailed with an armie of Englishmen and Danes into Denmarke, to subdue the Vandals there, which [Sidenote: Earle Goodwin his seruice in Denmarke.] then sore annoied and warred against his subiects of Denmarke. Earle Goodwine, which had the souereigne conduct of the Englishmen, the night before the day appointed for the battell got him forth of the campe with his people, and suddenlie assailing the Vandals in their lodgings, easilie distressed them, sleaing a great number of them, and chasing the residue. In the morning earlie, when as Cnute heard that the Englishmen were gone foorth of their lodgings, he supposed that they were either fled awaie, or else turned to take part with the enimies. But as he approched to the enimies campe, he vnderstood how the mater went; for he found nothing there but [Sidenote: Cnute had the Englishmen in estimation for their good service.] bloud, dead bodies, and the spoile. For which good seruice, Cnute had the Englishmen in more estimation euer after, and highlie rewarded their leader the same earle Goodwine. When Cnute had ordered all things in Denmarke, as was thought behoofefull, he returned againe into England: and within a few daies after, he was aduertised that the Swedeners made warre against his subiects of Denmarke, vnder the [Sidenote: 1028. Cnute passeth againe into Denmarke.] leding of two great princes, Vlfe and Vlafe. Wherefore to defend his dominions in those parts, he passed againe with an armie into Denmarke, incountred with his enimies, and receiued a sore ouerthrow, [Sidenote: Will. Malm.] loosing a great number both of Danes and Englishmen. But gathering togither a new force of men, he set againe vpon his enimies, and ouercame them, constreining the two foresaid princes to agree vpon [Sidenote: Matt. Westm.] reasonable conditions of peace. Matth. West. recounteth, that at this time earle Goodwine and the Englishmen wrought the enterprise aboue mentioned, of assaulting the enimies campe in the night season, after Cnute had first lost in the day before no small number of his people: and that then the foresaid princes or kings, as he nameth them Vlfus [Sidenote: Albertus Crantz.] and Aulafus, which latter he calleth Eiglafe, were constrained to agree vpon a peace. The Danish chronicles alledge, that the occasion of this warre rose hereof. This Olauus aided Cnute (as the same writers report) against king Edmund and the Englishmen. But when the peace should be made betweene Cnute and Edmund, there was no consideration had of Olauus: whereas through him the Danes chieflie obteined the victorie. Herevpon Olauus was sore offended in his mind against Cnute, and now vpon occasion sought to be reuenged. But what soeuer the cause was of this warre betwixt these two princes, the end was thus: that Olauus was expelled out of his kingdome, and constreined to flee to Gerithaslaus a duke in the parties of Eastland, and afterward returning into Norwaie, was slaine by such of his subiects as tooke part with Cnute, in manner as in the historie of Norwaie, appeareth more at large, with the contrarietie found in the writings of them which haue recorded the histories of those north [Sidenote: Magnus Olauus.] regions.
[Sidenote: Fabian. Polydor. Hen. Hunt.] But here is to be remembred, that the fame and glorie of the English nation was greatlie aduanced in these warres, as well against the Swedeners as the Norwegians, so that Cnute began to loue and trust the Englishmen much better than it was to be thought he would euer [Sidenote: Other say, that he went forth of Denmarke to Rome. Simon Dun. Anno 1031. 1032. Wil. Malm. Matth. West. 1033.] haue doone. Shortlie after that Cnute was returned into England, that is to say (as some haue) in the 15 yeare of his reigne, he went to Rome to performe his vow which he had made to visit the places where the apostles Peter and Paule had their buriall, where he was honorablie receiued of pope Iohn the 20 that then held the see. When he had doone his deuotion there, he returned into England. In the yeare following, he made a iournie against the Scots, which as [Sidenote: Scots subdued. Hen. Hunt. Anno 1035. Wil. Malm.] then had rebelled; but by the princelie power of Cnute they were subdued and brought againe to obedience: so that not onelie king Malcolme, but also two other kings Melbeath and Ieohmare became his subiects. Finallie after that this noble prince king Cnute had [Sidenote: The death of king Cnute. Hen. Hunt. Alb. Crantz.] reigned the tearme of 20 yeares currant, after the death of Ethelred, he died at Shaftsburie, as the English writers affirme, on the 12 of Nouember, and was buried at Winchester. But the Danish chronicles record that he died in Normandie, and was buried at Rome (as in the same chronicles ye may reade more at large.)
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The trespuissance of Cnute, the amplenesse of his dominions, the good and charitable fruits of his voiage to Rome redounding to the common benefit of all trauellers from England thither, with what great personages he had conference, and the honour that was doone him there, his intollerable pride in commanding the waters of the flouds not to rise, he humbleth himselfe and confesseth Christ Iesus to be king of kings, he refuseth to weare the crowne during his life, he reproueth a gentleman flatterer, his issue legitimate and illegitimate, his inclination in his latter yeares, what religious places he erected, repaired, and inriched; what notable men he fauoured and reuerenced, his lawes; and that in causes as well ecclesiasticall as temporall he had cheefe and sole gouernement in this land, whereby the popes vsurped title of vniuersall supremasie is impeached.
THE XIIJ. CHAPTER.
[Sidenote: The large dominion of K. Cnute. Hen. Hunt. Alb. Crantz.] This Cnute was the mightiest prince that euer reigned ouer the English people: for he had the souereigne rule ouer all Denmark, England, Norwaie, Scotland, and part of Sweiden. Amongest other of his roiall acts, he caused such tolles and tallages as were demanded of way-goers at bridges and streets in the high way betwixt England and Rome to be diminished to the halfes, and againe got also a moderation to be had in the paiment of the archbishops fees of his realme, which was leuied of them in the court of Rome when they should receiue their palles, as may appeare by a letter which he himselfe being at Rome, directed to the bishops and other of the nobles of England. In the which it also appeareth, that besides the roiall interteinment, which he had at Rome of pope Iohn, he had conference there with the emperour Conrad, with Rafe the king of Burgongne, and manie other great princes and noble men, which were present there at that time: all which at his [Sidenote: Grants made to the benefit of Englishmen, at the instance of king Cnute. Fabian. Polydor. Matt. West.] request, in fauour of those Englishmen that should trauell vnto Rome, granted (as we haue said) to diminish such duties as were gathered of passingers.
He receiued there manie great gifts of the emperour, and was highlie honored of him, and likewise of the pope, and of all other the high princes at that time present at Rome: so that when he came home (as some write) he did grow greatlie into pride, insomuch that being [Sidenote: He caused his chaire to be set there, as Matth. West. saith. Hen. Hunt.] neere to the Thames, or rather (as other write) vpon the sea strand, neere to Southhampton, and perceiuing the water to rise by reason of the tide, he cast off his gowne, and wrapping it round togither, threw it on the sands verie neere the increasing water, and sat him downe vpon it, speaking these or the like words to the sea: "Thou art (saith he) within the compasse of my dominion, and the ground whereon I sit is mine, and thou knowest that no wight dare disobeie my commandements; I therefore doo now command thee not to rise vpon my ground, nor to presume to wet anie part of thy souereigne lord and gouernour." But the sea keeping hir course, rose still higher and higher, and ouerflowed not onelie the kings feet, but also flashed vp vnto his legs and knees. Wherewith the king started suddenlie vp, and [Sidenote: The saieng of king Cnute.] withdrew from it, saieng withall to his nobles that were about him: "Behold you noble men, you call me king, which can not so much as staie by my commandement this small portion of water. But know ye for certeine, that there is no king but the father onelie of our Lord Iesus Christ, with whome he reigneth, & at whose becke all things are [Sidenote: Zealouslie inough, if it had bin according to true knowledge.] gouerned. Let vs therefore honor him, let vs confesse and professe him to be the ruler of heauen, earth, and sea, and besides him none other."
From thence he went to Winchester, and there with his owne hands set his crowne vpon the head of the image of the crucifix, which stood there in the church of the apostles Peter and Paule, and from [Sidenote: Ran. Higd. Polydor. Matth. West.] thenceforth he would neuer weare that crowne nor anie other. Some write that he spake not the former words to the sea vpon anie presumptuousnesse of mind, but onelie vpon occasion of the vaine [Sidenote: Polydor.] title, which in his commendation one of his gentlemen gaue him by way of flatterie (as he rightlie tooke it) for he called him the most [Sidenote: Flatterie reproued.] mightiest king of all kings, which ruled most at large both men, sea, and land. Therefore to reprooue the fond flatterie of such vaine persons, he deuised and practised the deed before mentioned, thereby both to reprooue such flatterers, and also that men might be admonished to consider the omnipotencie of almightie God. He had issue by his wife queene Emma, a sonne named by the English chronicles Hardiknought, but by the Danish writers Canute or Knute: also a daughter named Gonilda, that was after maried to Henrie the sonne of [Sidenote: Polydor.] Conrad, which also was afterwards emperour, and named Henrie the third. By his concubine Alwine that was daughter to Alselme, whome [Sidenote: Alb. Cranz.] some name earle of Hampton, he had two bastard sonnes, Harold and Sweno. He was much giuen in his latter daies to vertue, as he that [Sidenote: Polydor. Fabian.] considered how perfect felicitie rested onelie in godlines and true deuotion to serue the heauenlie king and gouernour of all things.
He repared in his time manie churches, abbeies and houses of religion, which by occasion of warres had beene sore defaced by him and his father, but speciallie he did great cost vpon the abbeie of saint Edmund, in the towne of Burie, as partlie before is mentioned. He also built two abbeies from the foundation, as saint Benets in Norffolke, [Sidenote: Which is supposed to be Barclow: for Ashdone it selfe is halfe a mile from thence.] seuen miles distant from Norwich, and an other in Norwaie. He did also build a church at Ashdone in Essex, where he obteined the victorie of king Edmund, and was present at the hallowing or consecration therof with a great multitude of the lords and nobles of the realme, both English and Danes. He also holpe with his owne hands to remooue the bodie of the holie archbishop Elphegus, when the [Sidenote: 1020. Simon Dun.] same was translated from London to Canturburie. The roiall and most rich iewels which he & his wife queene Emma gaue vnto the church of Winchester, might make the beholders to woonder at such their exceeding and bountifull munificence.
Thus did Cnute striue to reforme all such things as he and his ancestors had doone amisse, and to wipe awaie the spot of euill dooing, as suerlie to the outward sight of the world he did in deed; he had the archbishop of Canturburie Achelnotus in singular [Sidenote: Leofrike earle of Chester.] reputation, and vsed his counsell in matters of importance. He also highlie fauoured Leofrike earle of Chester, so that the same Leofrike bare great rule in ordering of things touching the state of [Sidenote: King Cnutes lawes.] the common wealth vnder him as one of his chiefe councellors. Diuerse lawes and statutes he made for the gouernment of the common wealth, partlie agreeable with the lawes of king Edgar, and other the kings that were his predecessors, and partlie tempered according to his owne liking, and as was thought to him most expedient: among the which there be diuerse that concerne causes as well ecclesiasticall as temporall. Whereby (as maister Fox hath noted) it maie be gathered, that the gouernment of spirituall matters did depend then not vpon the bishop of Rome, but rather apperteined vnto the lawfull authoritie of the temporall prince, no lesse than matters and causes temporall. But of these lawes & statutes enacted by king Cnute, ye may read more as ye find them set foorth in the before remembred booke of maister William Lambert, which for briefenesse we heere omit.
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Variance amongest the peeres of the realme about the roiall succession, the kingdome is diuided betwixt Harold the bastard sonne and Hardicnute the lawfullie begotten son of king Cnute late deceassed, Harold hath the totall regiment, the authoritie of earle Goodwine gardian to the queenes sonnes, Harold is proclaimed king, why Elnothus did stoutlie refuse to consecrate him, why Harold was surnamed Harefoot, he is supposed to be a shoomakers sonne, and how it came to passe that he was counted king Cnutes bastard; Alfred challengeth the crowne from Harold, Goodwine (vnder colour of friendlie interteinment) procureth his retinues vtter vndooing, a tithing of the Normans by the poll, whether Alfred was interessed in the crowne, the trecherous letter of Harold written in the name of queene Emma to hir two sons in Normandie, wherevpon Alfred commeth ouer into England, the vnfaithfull dealing of Goodwine with Alfred and his people, teaching that in trust is treason, a reseruation of euerie tenth Norman, the remanent slaine, the lamentable end of Alfred, and with what torments he was put to death; Harold banisheth queene Emma out of England he degenerateth from his father, the short time of his reigne, his death and buriall.
THE XIIIJ. CHAPTER.
[Sidenote: HAROLD. Matth. West. Wil. Malm.] After that Cnute was departed this life, there arose much variance amongst the peeres and great lords of the realme about the succession. The Danes and Londoners (which through continuall familiaritie with the Danes, were become like vnto them) elected Harold the base [Sidenote: Controuersie for the crowne.] sonne of king Cnute, to succeed in his fathers roome, hauing earle Leofrike, and diuerse other of the noble men of the north parts on their side. But other of the Englishmen, and namelie earle Goodwine earle of Kent, with the chiefest lords of the west parts, coueted rather to haue one of king Egelreds sonnes, which were in Normandie, [Sidenote: Simon Dun.] or else Hardicnute the sonne of king Cnute by his wife queene Emma, which remained in Denmarke, aduanced to the place. This [Sidenote: The realme diuided betwixt Harold and Hardicnute.] controuersie held in such wise, that the realme was diuided (as some write) by lot betwixt the two brethren Harold and Hardicnute. The north part, as Mercia and Northumberland fell to Harold, and the south part vnto Hardicnute: but at length the whole remained vnto Harold, bicause his brother Hardicnute refused to come out of Denmarke to take the gouernment vpon him.
[Sidenote: The authoritie of earle Goodwine. H. Hunt.] But yet the authoritie of earle Goodwine, who had the queene and the treasure of the realme in his keeping, staied the matter a certeine time, (professing himselfe as it were gardian to the yoong men, the sonnes of the queene, till at length he was constreined to giue ouer his hold, and conforme himselfe to the stronger part and greater number.) And so at Oxford, where the assemblie was holden about the election, Harold was proclaimed king, and consecrated [Sidenote: The refusall of the archbishop Elnothus to consecrate king Harold.] according to the maner (as some write.) But it should appeere by other, that Elnothus the archbishop of Canturburie, a man indued with all vertue and wisedome, refused to crowne him: for when king Harold being elected of the nobles and peeres, required the said archbishop that he might be of him consecrated, and receiue at his hands the regall scepter with the crowne, which the archbishop had in his custodie, and to whome it onelie did apperteine to inuest him therewith, the archbishop flatlie refused, and with an oth protested, that he would not consecrate anie other for king, so long as the queenes children liued: "for (saith he) Cnute committed them to my trust and assurance, and to them will I keepe my faith and loiall obedience. The scepter and crowne I heere lay downe vpon the altar, and neither doo I denie nor deliuer them vnto you: but I forbid by the apostolike authoritie all the bishops, that none of them presume to take the same awaie, and deliuer them to you, or consecrate you for king. As for your selfe, if you dare, you maie vsurpe that which I haue committed vnto God and his table."
But whether afterwards the king by one meane or other, caused the archbishop to crowne him king, or that he was consecrated of some other, he was admitted king of all the English people, beginning [Sidenote: 1036.] his reigne in the yeere of our Lord a thousand thirtie and six, in the fouretenth yeere of the emperor Conrad the second, in the sixt yeere of Henrie the first, king of France, and about the seuen and twentith yeere of Malcolme the second, king of Scots. This Harold for his [Sidenote: Harold why he is surnamed Harefoot.] great swiftnesse, was surnamed Harefoot, of whome little is written touching his dooings, sauing that he is noted to haue beene an oppressor of his people, and spotted with manie notable vices. It [Sidenote: Harold euill spoken of. Ran. Higd. ex Mariano.] was spoken of diuerse in those daies, that this Harold was not the sonne of Cnute, but of a shoomaker, and that his supposed mother Elgina, king Cnutes concubine, to bring the king further in loue with hir, feined that she was with child: and about the time that she should be brought to bed (as she made hir account) caused the said shoemakers son to be secretlie brought into hir chamber, and then vntrulie caused it to be reported that she was deliuered, and the child so reputed to be the kings sonne.
[Sidenote: Matth. West.] Immediatlie vpon aduertisement had of Cnutes death, Alfred the sonne of king Egelred, with fiftie saile landed at Sandwich, meaning to challenge the crowne, and to obteine it by lawfull claime with quietnesse, if he might; if not, then to vse force by aid of his friends, and to assaie that waie foorth to win it, if he might not otherwise obteine it. From Sandwich he came to Canturburie: and shortlie after, earle Goodwine feining to receiue him as a friend, came to meet him, and at Gilford in the night season appointed a number of armed men to fall vpon the Normans as they were asleepe, and so tooke them togither with Alfred, & slue the Normans by the poll, in such wise that nine were shine, & the tenth reserued. But yet when those that were reserued, seemed to him a greater number than he wished to escape, he fell to and againe tithed them as before. Alfred had his eies put out, and was conueied to the Ile of Elie, where shortlie after he died.
[Sidenote: Ran. Higd.] How Alfred should claime the crowne to himselfe I see not: for verelie I can not be persuaded that he was the elder brother, though diuers authors haue so written, sith Gemeticensis, & the author of the booke called "Encomium Emmae," plainlie affirme, that Edward was the elder: but it might be, that Alfred being a man of a stouter stomach [Sidenote: See maister Fox acts and monuments, pag. 112. Simon Dun.] than his brother Edward, made this attempt, either for himselfe, or in the behalfe of his brother Edward, being as then absent, and gone into Hungarie, as some write: but other say, that as well Edward as Alfred came ouer at this time with a number of Norman knights, and men of warre imbarked in a few ships, onelie to speake with their mother, who as then lay at Winchester, whether to take aduise with hir how to recouer their right heere in this land, or to aduance their brother Hardicnute, or for some other purpose, our authors doo not declare.
But the lords of the realme that bare their good wils vnto Harold, and (though contrarie to right) ment to mainteine him in the estate, seemed to be much offended with the comming of these two brethren in such order: for earle Goodwine persuaded them, that it was great danger to suffer so manie strangers to enter the realme, as they had brought with them. Wherevpon earle Goodwine with the assent of the other lords, or rather by commandement of Harold, went foorth, and at Gilford met with Alfred that was comming towards king Harold to speake with him, accordinglie as he was of Harold required to doo. But now being taken, and his companie miserablie murthered (as before ye haue heard) to the number of six hundred Normans, Alfred himselfe was sent into the Ile of Elie, there to remaine in the abbeie in custodie of the moonks, hauing his eies put out as soone as he entered first into the same Ile. William Malmesburie saith, that Alfred came ouer, and was thus handeled betwixt the time of Harolds death, & the comming in of Hardicnute. Others write, that this chanced in his brother Hardicnuts daies, which seemeth not to be true: for Hardicnute was knowne to loue his brethren by his mothers side too dearelie to haue suffered anie such iniurie to be wrought against either of them in his time.
Thus ye see how writers dissent in this matter, but for the better clearing of the truth touching the time, I haue thought good to shew also what the author of the said booke intituled "Encomium Emmae" writeth hereof, which is as followeth. When Harold was once established king, he sought meanes how to rid queene Emma out of the way, and that secretlie, for that openlie as yet he durst not attempt anie thing against hir. She in silence kept hir selfe quiet, looking for the end of these things. But Harold remembring himselfe, of a malicious purpose, by wicked aduise tooke counsell how he might get into his hands and make away the sons of queene Emma, & so to be out of danger of all annoiance that by them might be procured against him. Wherefore he caused a letter to be written in the name of their [Sidenote: A counterfet letter.] mother Emma, which he sent by certeine messengers suborned for the same purpose into Normandie, where Edward and Alfred as then remained. The tenour of which letter here insueth.
The tenour of a letter forged and sent in queene Emmas name to hir two sonnes.
"Emma tantum nomine regina filijs Edwardo & Alfredo materna impertit salutamina. Dū domini nostri regis obitum separatim plangimus (filij charissimi) dumq; dietim magis magisque regno haereditatis vestrae priuamini, miror quid captetis consilij, dum sciatis intermissionis vestrae dilatione inuasoris vestri imperij fieri quotidie soliditatē. Is enim incessanter vicos & vrbes circuit, & sibi amicos principes muneribus, minis, & precibus facit: sed vnum e vobis super se mallent regnare quam istius (qui nunc ijs imperat) teneri ditione. Vnde rogo vnus vestrum ad me velociter & priuate veniat, vt salubre a me consilium accipiat, & sciat quo pacto hoc negotium quod volo fieri debeat, per praesentem quoque internuncium quid super his facturi estis remandate. Valete cordis mei viscera."
The same in English.
"Emma in name onelie queene to hir sons Edward and Alfred sendeth motherlie greeting. Whilest we separatelie bewaile the death of our souereigne lord the king (most deare sonnes) and whilest you are euerie day more and more depriued from the kingdome of your inheritance, I maruell what you doo determine, sith you know by the delay of your ceassing to make some enterprise, the grounded force of the vsurper of your kingdom is dailie made the stronger. For incessantlie he goeth from towne to towne, from citie to citie, and maketh the lords his friends by rewards, threats, and praiers, but they had rather haue one of you to reigne ouer them, than to be kept vnder the rule of this man that now gouerneth them. Wherefore my request is, that one of you doo come with speed, and that priuilie ouer to me, that he may vnderstand my wholesome aduise, and know in what sort this matter ought to be handled, which I would haue to go forward, and see that ye send mee word by this present messenger what you meane to doo herein. Fare ye well euen the bowels of my heart."
These letters were deliuered vnto such as were made priuie to the purposed treason, who being fullie instructed how to deale, went ouer into Normandie, and presenting the letters vnto the yoong gentlemen, vsed the matter so, that they thought verelie that this message had beene sent from their mother, and wrote againe by them that brought the letters, that one of them would not faile but come ouer vnto hir according to that she had requested, and withall appointed the day and time. The messengers returning to king Harold, informed him how they had sped. The yoonger brother Alfred, with his brothers consent, tooke with him a certeine number of gentlemen and men of warre, and first came into Flanders, where after he had remained a while with earle Baldwine, he increased his retinue with a few Bullogners, and passed ouer into England, but approching to the shore, he was streightwaies descried by his enimies, who hasted foorth to set vpon him; but perceiuing their drift, he bad the ships cast about, and make againe to the sea; then landing at an other place, he ment to go the next way to his mother.
[Sidenote: Godwin was suspected to do this vnder a colour to betray him as by writers it seemeth.] But earle Goodwine hearing of his arriuall, met him, receiued him into his assurance, and binding his credit with a corporall oth, became his man, and therwith leading him out of the high way that leadeth to London, he brought him to Gilford, where he lodged all the strangers, by a score, a doozen, and halfe a score togither in innes, so as but a few remained about the yoong gentleman Alfred to attend vpon him. There was plentie of meat and drinke prepared in euerie lodging, for the refreshing of all the companie. And Goodwine taking his leaue for that night, departed to his lodging, promising the next morning to come againe to giue his dutifull attendance on Alfred.
But behold, after they had filled themselues with meats and drinks, [Sidenote: Not onelie Goodwine but other such as king Harold appointed, took Alfred with his Normans.] and were gone to bed, in the dead of the night came such as king Harold had appointed, and entring into euerie inne, first seized vpon the armor and weapons that belonged to the strangers: which done, they tooke them, and chained them fast with fetters and manacles, so keeping them sure till the next morning. Which being come, they were brought foorth with their hands bound behind their backs, and deliuered to most cruell tormentors, who were commanded to spare none but euerie tenth man, as he came to hand by lot, and so they slue nine and left the tenth aliue. Of those that were left aliue, some they kept to serue as bondmen, other for couetousnesse of gaine they sold, and some they put in prison, of whome yet diuerse afterwards escaped. This with more hath the foresaid author written of this matter, declaring further, that Alfred being conueied into the Ile of Elie, had not onelie his eies put out in most cruell wise, but was also presentlie there murthered. But he speaketh not further of the maner how he was made away, sauing that he saith he forbeareth to make long recitall of this matter, bicause he will not renew the mothers greefe in hearing it, sith there can be no greater sorrow to the mother than to heare of hir sonnes death.
I remember in Caxton we read, that his cruell tormentors should cause his bellie to be opened, & taking out one end of his bowels or guts, tied the same to a stake which they had set fast in the ground; then with needels of iron pricking his bodie, they caused him to run about the stake, till he had woond out all his intrailes, & so ended he his innocent life, to the great shame & obloquie of his cruel aduersaries. But whether he was thus tormented or not, or rather died (as I thinke) of the anguish by putting out his eies, no doubt but his death was reuenged by Gods hand in those that procured it. But whether erle Goodwine was cheefe causer thereof, in betraieng him vnder a cloked colour of pretended freendship, I cannot say: but that he tooke him and slue his companie, as some haue written, I cannot thinke it to be true, both as well for that which ye haue heard recited out of the author that wrote "Encomium Emmae," as also for that it should seeme he might neuer be so directlie charged with it, but that he had matter to alledge in his owne excuse. But now to other affaires of Harold.
[Sidenote: Simon Dun. Queene Emma banished.] After he had made away his halfe brother Alfred, he spoiled his mother in law queene Emma of the most part of hir riches, and therewith banished hir quite out of the realme: so that she sailed ouer to Flanders, where she was honourablie receiued of earle Baldwine, and hauing of him honourable prouision assigned hir, she continued there for the space of three yeeres, till that after [Sidenote: Polydor. Harold degenerateth from his father. Hen. Hunt.] the death of Harold, she was sent for by hir sonne Hardiknought, that succeeded Harold in the kingdome. Moreouer, Harold made small account of his subiects, degenerating from the noble vertues of his father, following him in few things (except in exacting of tributes and paiments.) He caused indeed eight markes of siluer to be leuied of [Sidenote: A nauie in a readinesse. Euill men, the longer they liue, the more they grow into miserie. Wil. Malm. Hen. Hunt.] euerie port or hauen in England, to the reteining of 16 ships furnished with men of warre, which continued euer in readinesse to defend the coasts from pirats. To conclude with this Harold, his speedie death prouided well for his fame, bicause (as it was thought) if his life had beene of long continuance, his infamie had beene the greater. But after he had reigned foure yeeres, or (as other gathered) three yeeres and three moneths, he departed out of this world at Oxford, & was buried at Winchester (as some say.) Other say he died at [Sidenote: Wil. Malm.] Meneford in the moneth of Aprill, and was buried at Westminster, which should appeare to be true by that which after is reported of his brother Hardiknoughts cruell dealing, and great spite shewed toward his dead bodie, as after shall be specified.
* * * * *
Hardicnute is sent for into England to be made king; alteration in the state of Norwaie and Denmarke by the death of king Cnute, Hardicnute is crowned, he sendeth for his mother queene Emma, Normandie ruled by the French king, Hardicnute reuengeth his mothers exile upon the dead bodie of his stepbrother Harold, queene Emma and erle Goodwine haue the gouernment of things in their hands, Hardicnute leuieth a sore tribute upon his subiects; contempt of officers & deniall of a prince his tribute sharpelie punished; prince Edward commeth into England; the bishop of Worcester accused and put from his see for being accessarie to the murthering of Alfred, his restitution procured by contribution; Earle Goodwine being accused for the same trespasse excuseth himselfe, and iustifieth his cause by swearing, but speciallie by presenting the king with an inestimable gift; the cause why Goodwine purposed Alfreds death; the English peoples care about the succession to the crowne, moonke Brightwalds dreame and vision touching that matter; Hardicnute poisoned at a bridall, his conditions, speciallie his hospitalitie, of him the Englishmen learned to eate and drinke immoderatlie, the necessitie of sobrietie, the end of the Danish regiment in this land, and when they began first to inuade the English coasts.
THE XV. CHAPTER.
[Sidenote: HARDICNUTE, or HARDIKNOUGHT.] After that Harold was dead, all the nobles of the realme, both Danes and Englishmen agreed to send for Hardiknought, the sonne of Canute by his wife queene Emma, and to make him king. Heere is to be noted, that by the death of king Canute, the state of things was much altered in those countries of beyond the seas wherein he had the rule [Sidenote: Alteration in the state of things. Simon Dun., & Matt. West. say, that he was at Bruges in Flanders with his mother when he was thus sent for, having come thither to visit hir. 1041.] and dominion. For the Norwegians elected one Magnus, the sonne of Olauus to be their king, and the Danes chose this Hardiknought, whome their writers name Canute the third, to be their gouernor. This Hardiknought or Canute being aduertised of the death of his halfe brother Harold, and that the lords of England had chosen him to their king, with all conuenient speed prepared a nauie, and imbarking a certeine number of men of warre, tooke the sea, and had the wind so fauorable for his purpose, that he arriued upon the coast of Kent the sixt day after he set out of Denmarke, and so comming to London, was ioifullie receiued, and proclaimed king, and crowned of Athelnotus archbishop of Canturburie, in the yere of our Lord 1041, in the first yeere of the emperour Henrie the third, in the 9 yeere of Henrie the first of that name king of France, and in the first yeere of Magfinloch, alias Machabeda king of Scotland. Incontinentlie after [Sidenote: Queene Emma sent for.] his establishment in the rule of this realme, he sent into Flanders for his mother queene Emma, who during the time of hir banishment, had remained there. For Normandie in that season was gouerned by the French king, by reason of the minoritie of duke William, surnamed the bastard.
Moreouer, in reuenge of the wrong offered to queene Emma by hir sonne [Sidenote: The bodie of king Harold taken vp, and throwen into Thames.] in law Harold, king Hardicnute did cause Alfrike archbishop of Yorke and earle Goodwine, with other noble men to go to Westminster, and there to take vp the bodie of the same Harold, and withall appointed, that the head thereof should be striken off, and the trunke of it cast into the riuer of Thames. Which afterwards being found by fishers, was taken vp and buried in the churchyard of S. Clement [Sidenote: S. Clement Danes.] Danes without Temple barre at London. He committed the order and gouernement of things to the hands of his mother Emma, and of Goodwine [Sidenote: A tribute raised. Hen. Hunt.] that was erle of Kent. He leuied a sore tribute of his subiects here in England to pay the souldiers and mariners of his nauie, as first 21 thousand pounds, & 99 pounds, and afterward vnto 32 ships [Sidenote: Simon Dun. Wil. Malm. Matth. West. Sim. Dun.] there was a paiment made of a 11 thousand and 48 pounds. To euerie mariner of his nauie he caused a paiment of 8 marks to be made, and to euerie master 12 marks. About the paiment of this monie great grudge grew amongst the people, insomuch that two of his seruants, which were appointed collectors in the citie of Worcester, the one named Feader, and the other Turstane, were there slaine. In reuenge of which contempt a great part of the countrie with the citie was burnt, and the goods of the citizens put to the spoile by such power of lords and men of warre as the king had sent against them.
Shortlie after, Edward king Hardicnutes brother came foorth of Normandie to visit him and his mother queene Emma, of whome he was most ioifullie and honorablie welcomed and interteined, and [Sidenote: Matt. West. Ran. Higd. Marianus.] shortlie after made returne backe againe. It should appeare by some writers, that after his comming ouer out of Normandie he remained still in the realme, so that he was not in Normandie when his halfe brother Hardicnute died, but here in England: although other make [Sidenote: Polydor.] other report, as after shall bee shewed. Also (as before ye haue heard) some writers seeme to meane, that the elder brother Alfred came ouer at the same time. But suerlie they are therein deceiued: for it was knowne well inough how tenderlie king Hardicnute loued his brethren by the mothers side, so that there was not anie of the lords [Sidenote: The bishop of Worcester accused for making away of Alfred.] in his daies, that durst attempt anie such iniurie against them. True it is, that as well earle Goodwine, as the bishop of Worcester (that was also put in blame and suspected for the apprehending and making away of Alfred, as before ye haue heard) were charged by Hardicnute as culpable in that matter, insomuch that the said bishop was expelled out of his see by Hardicnute: and after twelue moneths space was restored, by meanes of such summes of monie as he gaue by waie of amends.
[Sidenote: Earle Goodwin excuseth himselfe.] Earle Goodwine was also put to his purgation, by taking an oth that he was not guiltie. Which oth was the better allowed, by reason of such a present as he gaue to the king for the redeeming of his [Sidenote: The gift which earle Goodwin gaue to the king.] fauour and good will, that is to say, a ship with a sterne of gold, conteining therein 80 souldiers, wearing on each of their armes two bracelets of gold of 16 ounces weight, a triple habergion guilt on their bodies, with guilt burgenets on their heads, a swoord with guilt hilts girded to their wastes, a battell-axe after the maner of the Danes on their left shoulder, a target with bosses and mails guilt in their left hand, a dart in their right hand: and thus to conclude, they were furnished at all points with armor and weapon accordinglie. [Sidenote: Polydor.] It hath beene said, that earle Goodwine minded to marie his daughter to one of these brethren, and perceiuing that the elder brother Alfred would disdaine to haue hir, thought good to dispatch him, that the other taking hir to wife, hee might be next heire to the crowne, and so at length inioy it, as afterwards came to passe.
Also about that time, when the linage of the kings of England was in maner extinct, the English people were much carefull (as hath beene said) about the succession of those that should inioie the crowne. Wherevpon as one Brightwold a moonke of Glastenburie, that was afterward bishop of Wincester, or (as some haue written) of Worcester, studied oftentimes thereon: it chanced that he dreamed one night as he slept in his bed, that he saw saint Peter consecrate & annoint Edward the sonne of Egelred (as then remaining in exile in Normandie) king of England. And as he thought, he did demand of saint Peter, who should succeed the said Edward? Wherevnto answer was made by the apostle; Haue thou no care for such matters, for the kingdome of England is Gods kingdome. Which suerlie in good earnest may appeare by manie great arguments to be full true vnto such as shall well consider the state of this realme from time to time, how there hath beene euer gouernours raised vp to mainteine the maiestie of the kingdome, and to reduce the same to the former dignitie, when by anie infortunate mishap it hath beene brought in danger.
[Sidenote: The death of K. Hardicnute. Sim. Dunel. Matth. West. 1042.] But to returne now to king Hardicnute, after he had reigned two yeers lacking 10 daies, as he sat at the table in a great feast holden at Lambeth, he fell downe suddenlie with the pot in his hand, and so died not without some suspicion of poison. This chanced on the 8 of Iune at Lambeth aforesaid, where, on the same day a mariage was solemnized betweene the ladie Githa, the daughter of a noble man called Osgot Clappa, and a Danish lord also called Canute Prudan. His bodie was buried at Winchester besides his father. He was of nature [Sidenote: K. Hardicnute his conditions and liberalitie in housekeeping. Hen. Hunt.] verie curteous, gentle and liberall, speciallie in keeping good cheere in his house, so that he would haue his table couered foure times a day, & furnished with great plentie of meates and drinks, wishing that his seruants and all strangers that came to his palace, [Sidenote: Of whom the Englishmen learned excessiue feeding.] might rather leaue than want. It hath beene commonlie told, that Englishmen learned of him their excessiue gourmandizing & vnmeasurable filling of their panches with meates and drinkes, whereby they forgat the vertuous vse of sobrietie, so much necessarie to all estates and degrees, so profitable for all common-wealthes, and so commendable both in the sight of God, and all good men.
[Sidenote: The end of the Danish rulers.] In this Hardicnute ceased the rule of the Danes within this land, with the persecution which they had executed against the English nation, for the space of 250 yeres & more, that is to say, euer since the tenth yeere of Brithrike the king of Westsaxons, at what time they first began to inuade the English coasts. Howbeit (after others) they should seeme to haue ruled here but 207, reckoning from their bringing in by the Welshmen in despite of the Saxons, at which time they first began to inhabit here, which was 835 of Christ, 387 after the comming of the Saxons, and 35 neere complet of the reigne of Egbert.
But to let this peece of curiositie passe, this land felt that they had a time of arriuall, a time of inuading, a time of ouerrunning, and a time of ouerruling the inhabitants of this maine continent. Wherof manifest proofes are at this day remaining in sundrie places, sundrie ruines I meane and wastes committed by them; vpon the which whensoeuer a man of a relenting spirit casteth his eie, he can not but enter into a dolefull consideration of former miseries, and lamenting the defacements of this Ile by the crueltie of the bloudthirstie enimie, cannot but wish (if he haue but "Minimam misericordiae guttam quae maior est spatioso oceano," as one saith) and earnestlie desire in his heart that the like may neuer light vpon this land, but may be auerted and turned away from all christian kingdomes, through his mercie, whose wrath by sinne being set on fire, is like a consuming flame; and the swoord of whose vengeance being sharpened with the whetstone of mens wickednesse, shall hew them in peeces as wood for the fornace.
Thus farre the tumultuous and tyrannicall regiment of the Danes, inferring fulnesse of afflictions to the English people, wherewith likewise the seuenth booke is shut vp.