Chronicles (1 of 6): The Historie of England (7 of 8) - The Seventh Boke of the Historie of England
by Raphael Holinshed
1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse




* * * * *

Egelred succeedeth Edward the martyr in the kingdoms of England, the decaie of the realme in his reigne, Dunstane refusing to consecrate him is therevnto inforced, Dunstans prophesies of the English people and Egelred their king, his slouth and idlenes accompanied with other vices, the Danes arriue on the coasts of Kent and make spoile of manie places; warre betwixt the king and the bishop of Rochester, archbishop Dunstans bitter denunciation against the king because he would not be pacified with the bishop of Rochester without moneie; Dunstans parentage, his strange trance, and what a woonderfull thing he did during the time it lasted, his education and bringing vp, with what good qualities he was indued, an incredible tale of his harpe, how he was reuoked from louing and lusting after women whereto he was addicted, his terrible dreame of a rough beare, what preferments he obteined by his skill in the expounding of dreames.


[Sidenote: EGELRED.] In the former booke was discoursed the troubled state of this land by the manifold and mutinous inuasions of the Danes; who though they sought to ingrosse the rule of euerie part and parcell therof into their hands; yet being resisted by the valiantnesse of the gouernors supported with the aid of their people, they were disappointed of their expectation, and receiued manie a dishonorable or rather reprochfull repulse at their aduersaries hands. Much mischiefe doubtlesse they did, and more had doone, if they had not beene met withall in like measure of extremitie as they offred, to the offense and ouerthrow of great multitudes. Their first entrance into this land is controuersed among writers, some saieng that it was in the daies of king Britricus, other some affirming that it was in the time of king Egbert, &c: about which point (sith it is a matter of no great moment) we count it labour lost to vse manie woords: onelie this by the waie is notewoorthie, that the Danes had an vnperfect or rather a lame and limping rule in this land, so long as the gouernors were watchfull, diligent, politike at home, and warlike abroad. But when these kind of kings discontinued, and that the raines of the regiment fell into the hands of a pezzant not a puissant prince, a man euill qualified, dissolute, slacke and licentious, not regarding the dignitie of his owne person, nor fauoring the good estate of the people; the Danes who before were coursed from coast to coast, and pursued from place to place, as more willing to leaue the land, than desirous to tarrie in the same; tooke occasion of stomach and courage to reenter this Ile, & waxing more bold and confident, more desperate and venturous, spared no force, omitted no opportunitie, let slip no aduantage that they might possiblie take, to put in practise and fullie to accomplish their long conceiued purpose.

Now bicause the Danes in the former kings daies were reencountred (and that renowmedlie) so often as they did encounter, and seeking the totall regiment, were dispossessed of their partile principalitie, which by warlike violence they obteined; and for that the Saxons were interessed in the land, and these but violent incrochers, vnable to keepe that which they came to by constreint; we haue thought it conuenient to comprise the troubled estate of that time in the sixt booke; the rather for the necessarie consequence of matters then in motion: and heere deeme it not amisse, at so great and shamefull loosenesse (speciallie in a prince) ministring hart and courage to the enimie, to begin the seuenth booke. Wherin is expressed the chiefest time of their flourishing estate in this land; if in tumults, vprores, battels, and bloudshed, such a kind of estate may possiblie be found. For heere the Danes lord it, heere they take vpon them like souereignes, & heere (if at anie time they had absolute authoritie) they did what they might in the highest degree: as shall be declared in the vnfortunate affaires of vngratious Egelred or Etheldred, the sonne of king Edgar, and of his last wife queene Alfred, who was ordeined king in place of his brother Edward, after the same Edward was dispatched out of the waie, and began his reigne ouer this [Sidenote: 979. Simon Dun.] realme of England, in the yeere of our Lord 979, which was in the seuenth yeere of the emperor Otho the second, in the 24 of Lothaire K. of France, and about the second or third yeere of Kenneth the third [Sidenote: Simon Dun.] of that name king of Scotland.

This Egelred or Etheldred was the 30 in number from Cerdicus the first king of the Westsaxons: through his negligent gouernment, the state of the commonwealth fell into such decaie (as writers doo report) that vnder him it may be said, how the kingdome was come to the vttermost point or period of old and feeble age, which is the next degree to the graue. For wheras, whilest the realme was diuided at the first by the Saxons into sundrie dominions, it grew at length (as it were increasing from youthfull yeeres) to one absolute monarchie, which passed vnder the late remembred princes, Egbert, Adelstane, Edgar, and others, so that in their daies it might be said, how it was growne to mans state, but now vnder this Egelred, through famine, pestilence, and warres, the state thereof was so shaken, turned vpside downe, and weakened on ech part, that rightlie might the season be likened vnto the old broken yeeres of mans life, which through feeblenesse is not able to helpe it selfe. Dunstane archbishop of Canturburie was thought to haue foreseene this thing, and therfore refused to annoint Egelred king, which by the murther of his brother should atteine to the gouernment: but at length he was compelled vnto it, and so he consecrated him at Kingston vpon Thames, as the maner then was, on the 24 day of Aprill, assisted by Oswald archbishop of Yorke, and ten other bishops.

[Sidenote: Will. Malmes.] But (as hath beene reported) Dunstane then said that the English people should suffer condigne punishment generallie, with losse of ancient liberties, which before that time they had inioied. Dunstane also long before prophesied of the slouthfulnesse that should remaine in this Egelred. For at what time he ministred the sacrament of baptisme to him; shortlie after he came into this world, he defiled the font with the ordure of his wombe (as hath beene said:) whervpon Dunstane being troubled in mind, "By the Lord (saith he) and his blessed mother, this child shall prooue to be a slouthfull person." It hath beene written also, that when he was but ten yeeres of age, and heard that his brother Edward was slaine, he so offended his mother with weeping, bicause she could not still him, that hauing no rod at hand, she tooke tapers or sizes that stood before hir, and beat him so sore with them, that she had almost killed him, whereby he could neuer after abide to haue anie such candels lighted before him.

[Sidenote: Polydor.] This Egelred (as writers say) was nothing giuen to warlike enterprises, but was slouthfull, a louer of idlenesse, and delighting in riotous lusts, which being knowne to all men, caused him to be euill spoken of amongst his owne people, and nothing feared amongst strangers. Heerevpon the Danes that exercised rouing on the seas, began to conceiue a boldnesse of courage to disquiet and molest the sea-coasts of the realme, in so much that in the second yeere of [Sidenote: Ran. Higd. 980.] this Egelreds reigne, they came with seuen ships on the English coasts [Sidenote: Simon Dun.] of Kent, and spoiled the Ile of Tenet, the towne of Southampton, and in the yeere following they destroied S. Petroks abbeie in Cornwall, Porthland in Deuonshire, and diuerse other places by the sea side, speciallie in Deuonshire & Cornwall. Also a great part of Cheshire was destroied by pirats of Norway.

[Sidenote: 982.] The same yeere by casualtie of fire, a great part of the citie [Sidenote: 983. Alfer or Elfer duke of Mercia departed this life.] of London was burnt. In the yeere of our Lord 983, Alfer duke of Mercia departed this life, who was coosen to king Edgar, & his [Sidenote: Alfrike or Elfrike duke of Mercia. Fabian. Wil. Malm. Matt. West.] sonne Alfrike tooke vpon him the rule of that dukedome, and within three yeeres after was banished the land. About the eight yeere of his reigne, Egelred maried one Elgina or Ethelgina, daughter of earle Egbert. In the ninth yeere of his reigne, vpon occasion of strife betweene him and the bishop of Rochester, he made warre against the same bishop, wasted his lordships, and besieged the citie of Rochester, till Dunstan procured the bishops peace with paiment of an hundred pounds in gold. And bicause the K. would not agree with the bishop without moneie at the onelie request of Dunstane, the said Dunstane did send him woord, that sithens he made more account of gold than of God, more of monie than of S. Andrew, patrone of the church of Rochester, and more of couetousnesse than of him being the archbishop, the mischiefs which the Lord had threatned would shortlie fall and come to passe, but the same should not chance whilest he was aliue, who died in the yeere following, on the 25 of Maie, being saturdaie.

[Sidenote: Vita Dunstani.] Of this Dunstane manie things are recorded by writers, that he should be of such holinesse and vertue, that God wrought manie miracles by him, both whilest he liued heere on earth, and also [Sidenote: Iohn Capgr. Osborne. Ran. Higd.] after his deceasse. He was borne in Westsaxon, his father was named Heorstan, and his mother Cinifride, who in his youth set him to schoole, where he so profited, that he excelled all his equals in age. Afterward he fell sicke of an ague, which vexed him so sore that it draue him into a frensie: and therefore his parents appointed him to the cure and charge of a certeine woman, where his disease grew so on him, that he fell in a trance, as though he had beene dead, and after that he suddenlie arose, & by chance caught a staffe in his hand, and ran vp and downe through hils and dales, and laid about him as though he had beene afraid of mad dogs. The next night (as it is said) he gat him to the top of the church (by the helpe of certeine ladders that stood there for woorkemen to mend the roofe) and there ran vp and downe verie dangerouslie, but in the end came safelie downe, and laid him to sleepe betweene two men that watched the church that night, & when he awaked, he maruelled how he came there. Finallie, recouering his disease, his parents made him a priest, and placed him in the abbeie of Glastenburie, where he gaue himselfe to the reading of scriptures and knowledge of vertue. But as well his kinsmen as certeine other did raise a report of him, that he gaue not himselfe so much to the reading of scriptures, as to charming, coniuring and sorcerie, which he vtterlie denied: howbeit learned he was in deed, & could doo manie pretie things both in handie woorke and other deuises: he had good skill in musicke and delighted much therein. At length he grew in such fauour, that he was aduanced into the seruice of king Adelstane.

Vpon a time, as he came to a gentlewomans house with his harpe, and hoong the same on the wall, while he shaped a priests stole, the harpe suddenlie began to plaie a psalme, which draue the whole houshold in such feare, that they ran out and said, he was too cunning, and knew more than was expedient: wherevpon he was accused of necromancie, and so banished out of the court. After this he began to haue a liking to women, and when Elfeagus then bishop of Winchester and his coosen, persuaded him to become a moonke, he refused it, for he rather wished to haue maried a yoong damesell, whose pleasant companie he dailie inioied. But being soone after striken with such a swelling disease in his bellie, that all his bodie was brought into such state, as though he had beene infected with a foule leprosie, he bethought him selfe, and vpon his recouerie sent to the bishop, who immediatlie shore him a moonke, in which life he liued in so great opinion of holinesse, as he in time became abbat of Glastenburie: where on a time as he was in his praiers before the altar of S. George, he fell asleepe: and imagining in his dreame, that an vglie rough beare came towards him with open mouth, and set his forefeet vpon his shoulders readie to deuoure him, he suddenlie wakening for feare, caught his walking staffe which he commonlie went with, and laid about him, that all the church rang [Sidenote: Polychron.] thereof, to the great woonder of such as stood by. The common tale of his plucking the diuell by the nose with a paire of pinsors, for tempting him with women, while he was making a chalice: the great loue that the ladie Elfleda neere kinswoman to king Adelstane bare him to hir dieng day, with a great manie of other such like matters, I leaue as friuolous, and wholie impertinent to our purpose: onelie this I read, that through declaring of his dreames and visions, he obteined in the time of king Edgar, first the bishoprike of Worcester, after of London, & last of all the archbishoprike of Canturburie. But leauing Dunstane and the fond deuises depending vpon the commemoration of his life, we will now returne to the dooings of Egelred, and speake of such things in the next chapter as chanced in his time.

* * * * *

The Danes inuade England on each side, they are vanquished by the English, Goda earle of Deuonshire slaine; the Danes in a battell fought at Maldon kill Brightnod earle of Essex and the most of his armie, ten thousand pounds paid to them by composition that they should not trouble the English subjects, they cease their crueltie for a time, but within a while after fall to their bloudie bias, the English people despaire to resist them, Egelred addresseth a nauie against the Danes vnder the erles Alfrike and Turold, Alfrike traitorouslie taketh part with the Danes, his ship and souldiers are taken, his sonne Algar is punished for his fathers offense, the Danes make great wast in many parts of this Iland, they besiege London and are repelled with dishonor, they driue king Egelred to buy peace of them for 16000 pounds; Aulafe king of Norwey is honorablie interteined of Egelred, to whome he promiseth at his baptisme neuer to make warre against England, the great zeale of people in setting forward the building of Durham towne and the minster.


[Sidenote: Wil. Malm. Matt. Westm. The Danes inuade this land.] Shortlie after the decease of Dunstane, the Danes inuaded this realme on each side, wasting and spoiling the countrie in most miserable wise. They arriued in so manie places at once, that the Englishmen could not well deuise whither to go to encounter first with [Sidenote: Alias Wecederport. H. Hunt. Simon Dun.] them. Some of them spoiled a place or towne called Wichport, and from thence passing further into the countrie, were met with by the Englishmen, who giuing them battell, lost their capteine Goda: but yet they got the victorie, and beat the Danes out of the field, and so [Sidenote: Danes vanquished. Simon Dun.] that part of the Danish armie was brought to confusion. Simon Dunel. saith, that the Englishmen in deed wan the field here, but not without [Sidenote: Goda earle of Deuonshire slain. Matt. West.] great losse. For besides Goda (who by report of the same author was Earle of Deuonshire) there died an other valiant man of warre named Strenwold. In the yeere 991, Brightnod earle of Essex, at Maldon gaue battell to an armie of Danes (which vnder their leaders Iustine and Guthmond had spoiled Gipswich) and was there ouercome and slaine with the most part of his people, and so the Danes obteined in that place the victorie.

[Sidenote: 991.] In the same yeere, and in the 13 yeere of, king Egelreds reigne, when the land was on each side sore afflicted, wasted and haried by the Danes, which couered the same as they had beene grashoppers: by the aduise of the archbishop of Canturburie Siricius (which was the second of that see after Dunstane) a composition was taken with the [Sidenote: Ten thousand pounds paid to the Danes. Danegilt.] Danes, so that for the sum of ten thousand pounds to be paied to them by the king, they should couenant not to trouble his subjects anie further. This monie was called Danegilt or Dane monie, and was leuied of the people. Although other take that to be Danegilt, which was giuen vnto such Danes as king Egelred afterwards reteined in his seruice, to defend the land from other Danes and enimies that sought to inuade his dominions. But by what name so euer this monie (which the Danes now receiued) was called, true it is that herevpon they [Sidenote: Wil. Malm. 992.] ceassed from their most cruell inuasions for a time. But shortlie after they had refreshed themselues, and recouered new strength, they began to play their old parts againe, dooing the like mischeefe by their semblable inuasions, as they had vsed before. By reason hereof such feare came vpon the English people, that they despaired to be able to resist the enimies.

[Sidenote: Hen. Hunt. A nauie set forth.] The king yet caused a nauie to be set foorth at London, whereof he appointed earle Alfrike (whome before he had banished) to be high admerall, ioining with him earle Turold. This nauie did set forward from London toward the enimies, who hauing warning giuen them from Alfrike, escaped away without hurt. Shortly after a greater nauie of the Danes came, and incountered with the kings fleet, so that a great [Sidenote: Alfrike a traitour to his countrie. Matth. West.] number of the Londoners were slaine, and all the kings ships taken: for Alfrike like a traitor turned to the Danes side. Matt. West, maketh other report of this matter, declaring that Alfrike in deed being one of the chiefe capteins of the fleet, aduertised them by forewarning of the danger that was toward them, and that when they should come to ioining, the same Alfrike like a traitor fled to the Danes, and after vpon necessitie being put to flight escaped away with them: but the other capteins of the kings fleet, as Theodred, Elstan, and Escwen, pursued the Danes, tooke one of their ships, and slue all those that were found therein. The Londoners also (as the same Matt. West, saith) met with the nauie of the Danish rouers as they fled away, and slue a great number, and also tooke the ship of the traitor Alfrike with his souldiers & armor, but he himselfe escaped, though with much paine, hauing plaied the like traitorous part once [Sidenote: Hen. Hunt. The son punished for his fathers offense. 993.] before, and yet was reconciled to the kings fauor againe. Vpon this mischiefe wrought by the father, the king now tooke his sonne Algar, and caused his eies to be put out.

About the same time was Bambrough destroied by the Danes, which arriued after in Humber, and wasted the countrie of Lindsey and Yorkeshire, on either side that riuer. And when the Englishmen were assembled to giue them battell, before they ioined, the capteines [Sidenote: Simon Dun. Polydor. Matth. West.] of the English armie, Frena, Godwin, and Fredegist, that were Danes by their fathers side began to flie away, and escaped, so giuing the occasion of the ouerthrow that lighted on their people. But by some writers it should appeere, that after the Danes had destroied all the north parts, as they spred abroad without order and good arraie, the [Sidenote: Aulafe king of Norway, & Swein king of Denmarke were capteins of this fleet, as saith Simon Dun. 994] people of the countrie fell vpon them, and slue some of them, and chased the residue. Other of the Danes with a nauie of 94 ships entered the Thames, and besieged London about our ladie daie in September. They gaue a verie sore assault to the citie, and assaied to set it on fire: but the citizens so valiantlie defended themselues, that the Danes were beaten backe and repelled, greatlie to their losse, so that they were constreined to depart thence with dishonor. Then they fell to and wasted the countries of Essex, Kent, Sussex, and Hamshire, and ceassed not till they had inforced the king to compound [Sidenote: Hen Hunt. Wil. Malm. The king compounded with the Danes for monie. Matt. West. Simon Dun. Aufale king of Norwey baptised. His promise.] with them for 16 thousand pounds, which he was glad to pay to haue peace with them.

Moreouer, whereas they wintered that yeere at Southampton, the king procured Aulafe king of the Norwegians to come vnto Andeuer (where at that time he lay) vpon pledges receiued of the king for his safe returne. Elphegus bishop of Winchester, and duke Ethelwold were appointed by king Egelred to bring Aulafe vnto him in most honorable maner. The same time was Aulafe baptised, king Egelred receiuing him at the fontstone, and so he promised neuer after to make anie war within this land. And receiuing great gifts of the king, he returned into his countrie, and kept his promise faithfullie: but the euils tooke not so an end, for other of the Danes sprang vp, as they had beene the heads of the serpent Hydra, some of them euer being readie to trouble the quiet state of the English nation. [Sidenote: Iohn Leland. Simon Dun. 995.]

About this season, that is to say, in the yeere of our Lord 995, bishop Aldaine which was fled from Chester in the street (otherwise [Sidenote: The church of Durham builded.] called Cunecester) with the bodie of saint Cuthbert for feare of the inuasion of Danes, vnto Rippon, brought the same bodie now vnto Durham, and there began the foundation of a church; so that the see of that bishoprike was from thencefoorth there established, and the woods [Sidenote: Earle Vthred] were there cut downe, which before that time couered and ouergrew that place, wherevpon it began first to be inhabited. Earle Vthred, who gouerned that countrie, greatlie furthered the bishop in this [Sidenote: Durham town and minster builded.] worke, so that all the people inhabiting betweene the riuers of Coquid and Theis, came togither to rid the woods, and to helpe forwards the building of the church and towne there.

* * * * *

The Danes inuading the west parts of this land make great hauocke by fire and sword, they arriue at Rochester, and conquer the Kentishmen in field, king Egelred ouercommeth the Danes that inhabited Cumberland and wasteth the countrie, the Summersetshire men are foiled; the miserable state of the realme in those daies; the English bloud mixed with the Danes and Britaines, and what inconueniencies grew thervpon, the disordered gouernement of king Egelred, sicknesses vexing the people, treason in the nobles, the tribute paid to the Danes vnmercifillie inhansed, the realme brought to beggerie; king Egelred by politike persuasion and counsell marrieth Emma the duke of Normandies daughter, vpon what occasion the Normans pretended a title to the crowne of England, they conquer the whole land, what order king Egelred tooke to kill all the Danes within his kingdoms, and what rule they bare in this realme yer they were murdered, the thraldome of the English people under them, whereof the word Lordane sprang.


In the ninteenth yere of king Egelreds reigne, the Danes sailed about [Sidenote: 997. The Danes inuade the west parts of this land.] Cornewall, and comming into the Seuerne sea, they robbed & tooke preies in the coasts of Deuonshire & Southwales, and landing at Wicheport, they burned vp the countrie, and came about vnto Penwithstreet on the south coast, and so arriuing in the mouth of Tamer water, came vnto Lidford, and there wasted all afore them with force of fire. They burned, amongst other places, the monasterie of [Sidenote: Tauestocke.] saint Ordulfe at Essingstocke. After this they came into Dorcetshire, and passed through the countrie with flame and fire, not finding anie that offered to resist them. The same yeere also they soiourned in the Ile of Wight, and liued vpon spoiles & preies which they tooke in [Sidenote: 998.] Hampshire and Sussex. At length they came into the Thames, and so [Sidenote: 999. The Danes arriue in the Thames.] by the riuer of Medwey arriued at Rochester. The Kentishmen assembled togither and fought with the Danes, but they were ouercome, and so left the field to the Danes. After this, the same Danes sailed into Normandie, and king Egelred went into Cumberland, where the Danes inhabited in great numbers, whome he ouercame with sore warre, and [Sidenote: 1000.] wasted almost all Cumberland, taking great spoiles in the same. [Sidenote: 1001. Exmouth] About the same time, or shortlie after, the Danes with their nauie, returning out of Normandie, came vnto Exmouth, and there assaulted the castell, but they were repelled by them that kept it. After this they spread abroad ouer all the countrie, exercising their accustomed trade of destroieng all before them with fire and sword. The men of [Sidenote: Pentho.] Summersetshire fought with them at Pentho, but the Danes got the vpper hand.

Thus the state of the realme in those daies was verie miserable, for there wanted worthie chieftains to rule the people, and to chastise them when they did amisse. There was no trust in the noble men, for euerie one impugned others dooing, and yet would not deuise which [Sidenote: Disagreement with councellors what fruit it bringeth.] way to deale with better likelihood. When they assembled in councell, and should haue occupied their heads in deuising remedies for the mischiefe of the common wealth, they turned their purpose vnto altercation, about such strifes, contentions and quarels as each one against other, and suffered the generall case to lie still in the dust. And if at anie time there was anie good conclusion agreed vpon, for the withstanding of the enimie, & releefe of the common wealth, anon should the enimie be aduertised thereof by such as were of aliance or consanguinitie to them. For (as Caxton, Polychr. and others say) the English bloud was so mixed with that of the Danes and Britains, who were like enimies to the Englishmen, that there was almost few of the nobilitie and commons, which had not on the one side a parent of some of them.

Whereby it came to passe, that neither the secret purposes of the king could be concealed till they might take due effect; neither their assemblies proue quiet without quarelling and taking of parts. Manie also being sent foorth with their powers one way (whilest the king went to make resistance another) did reuolt to his enimies, and turned their swords against him (as you haue heard of Elfrike and his complices, and shall read of manie others) so that it was no maruell that Egelred sped no better, and yet was he as valiant as anie of his predecessors, although the moonks fauour him not in their writings, because he demanded aid of them toward his warres, and was nothing fauorable to their lewd hypocrisie. But what is a king if his subiects be not loiall? What is a realme, if the common wealth be diuided? By peace & concord, of small beginnings great and famous kingdomes haue oft times proceeded; whereas by discord the greatest kingdoms haue oftner bene brought to ruine. And so it proued here, for whilest priuat quarels are pursued, the generall affaires are vtterlie neglected: and whilest ech nation seeketh to preferre hir owne aliance, the Iland it selfe is like to become a desert.

But to proceed with our monasticall writers: certes they lay all the fault in the king, saieng that he was a man giuen to no good exercise, he delighted in fleshlie lustes and riotous bankettings and still sought waies how to gather of his subiects what might be got, as well [Sidenote: The misgouernement of the king.] by vnlawfull meanes as otherwise. For he would for feined or for verie small & light causes disherit his natiue subiects, and cause [Sidenote: Sicknesse vexeth the people.] them to redeeme their owne possessions for great summes of monie. Besides these oppressions, diuers kinds of sicknesses vexed the people also, as the bloodie flix, and hot burning agues which then raged through the land, so that manie died thereof. By such manner of meanes [Sidenote: Treason in the nobilitie.] therefore, what through the misgouernance of the king, the treason and disloialtie of the nobilitie, the lacke of good order and due correction amongst the people, and by such other scourges and mishaps as afflicted the English nation in that season, the land was brought into great ruine, so that, where by strength the enimie could not be kept off, there was now no hope but to appease them with monie. By [Sidenote: The inhancing of the tribute paid to the Danes.] reason hereof from time of the first agreement with the Danes for 10 thousand pounds tribute, it was inhanced to 16000 pounds, (as you haue heard) & after that to 20000 pounds, then to 24000 pounds, & so to 30000 pounds, & lastlie to 40000 pounds, till at length the relme was emptied in maner of all that monie and coine that could be found [Sidenote: The death of queene Elgina.] in it. In this meane time died Elgina or Ethelgina the queene. [Sidenote: Emma. Hen. Hunt.] Shortlie after it was deuised that the king should be a suter vnto Richard duke of Normandie, for his sister Emma, a ladie of such excellent beautie, that she was named the floure of Normandie. This sute was begun and tooke such good successe, that the king [Sidenote: 1002. Emma daughter of R. duke of Normandie maried to K. Edgar.] obteined his purpose. And so in the yeare of our Lord 1002, which was about the 24 yeare of king Egelreds reigne, he maried the said Emma with great solemnitie.

This mariage was thought to be right necessarie, honorable, and profitable for the realme of England, because of the great puissance of the Norman princes in those daies: but as things afterward came to passe, it turned to the subuersion of the whole English state: for by such affinitie and dealing as happened hereby betwixt the Normans and Englishmen, occasion in the end was ministred to the same Normans to pretend a title to the crowne of England, in prosecuting of which title, they obteined and made the whole conquest of the land, as after shall appeare. Egelred being greatlie aduanced (as he thought) by reason of his mariage, deuised vpon presumption thereof, to cause all the Danes within the land to be murthered in one day. Herevpon he sent priuie commissioners to all cities, burrowes and townes within his dominions, commanding the rulers and officers in the same, to kill all such Danes as remained within their liberties, at a certeine day prefixed, being saint Brices day, in the yeare 1012, and in the 34 [Sidenote: 1012. The 18 of Nouember. The murder of the Danes.] yeare of king Egelreds reigne. Herevpon (as sundrie writers agree) in one day & houre this murther began, and was according to the commission and iniunction executed. But where it first began, the same is vncerteine: some say at Wellowin in Herefordshire, some at a [Sidenote: Hownhill, or Houndhill, a place within Merchington parish beside the forest of Needwood, somewhat more than two miles from Vtoxcester.] place in Staffordshire called Hownhill, & others in other places, but whersoeuer it began, the dooers repented it after.

[Sidenote: The miserable state of this realme vnder the thraldome of the Danes.] But now yer we proceed anie further, we will shew what rule the Danes kept here in this realme before they were thus murthered, as in some bookes we find recorded. Whereas it is shewed that the Danes compelled the husbandmen to til the ground & doo all maner of labour and toile to be doone about husbandrie: the Danes liued vpon the fruit and gaines that came thereof, and kept the husbandmens wiues, their daughters, maids and seruants, vsing and abusing them at their pleasures. And when the husbandmen came home, then could they scarse haue such sustenance of meats and drinkes as fell for seruants to haue: so that the Danes had all their commandements, eating and drinking of the best, where the sillie man that was the owner, could hardlie come to his fill of the worst. Besides this, the common people were so oppressed by the Danes, that for feare and dread they called [Sidenote: Hector Boet.] them in euerie such house where anie of them soiourned, Lord Dane. And if an Englishman and a Dane chanced to meet at anie bridge or streight passage, the Englishman must staie till the Lord Dane were passed. But in processe of time, after the Danes were voided the land, this word Lord Dane was in derision and despight of the Danes turned [Sidenote: Lordane whereof the word came.] by Englishmen into a name of reproch, as Lordane, which till these our daies is not forgotten. For when the people in manie parts of this realme will note and signifie anie great idle lubber that will not labour nor take paine for his liuing, they will call him Lordane. Thus did the Danes vse the Englishmen in most vile manner, and kept them in such seruile thraldome as cannot be sufficientlie vttered.

* * * * *

A fresh power of Danes inuade England to reuenge the slaughter of their countrimen that inhabited this Ile, the west parts betraied into their hands by the conspiracie of a Norman that was in gouernement, earle Edrike feined himselfe sicke when king Egelred sent vnto him to leuie a power against the Danes, and betraieth his people to the enimies; Sweine king of Denmarke arriueth on the coast of Northfolke, and maketh pitifull spoile by fire and sword; the truce taken betweene him and Vikillus is violated, and what reuengement followeth; king Sweine forced by famine returneth into his owne countrie, he arriueth againe at Sandwich, why king Egelred was vnable to preuaile against him, the Danes ouerrun all places where they come and make cruell waste, king Egelred paieth him great summes of monie for peace; the mischiefes that light vpon a land by placing a traitorous stranger in gouernement, how manie acres a hide of land conteineth, Egelreds order taken for ships and armour, why his great fleet did him little pleasure; a fresh host of Danes vnder three capteines arriue at Sandwich, the citizens of Canturburie for monie purchase safetie, the faithlesse deeling of Edrike against king Egelred for the enimies aduantage, what places the Danes ouerran and wasted.


Vpon knowledge giuen into Denmarke of the cruell murder of the Danes here in England, truth it is, that the people of the countrie were greatlie kindled in malice, and set in such a furious rage against [Sidenote: Hen. Hunt. Simon Dun. The Danes returne to inuade England.] the Englishmen, that with all speed they made foorth a nauie full fraught with men of warre, the which in the yeare following came [Sidenote: Excester taken. 1002.] swarming about the coasts of England, and landing in the west countrie, tooke the citie of Excester, and gat there a rich [Sidenote: Hugh a Norman conspireth with the Danes.] spoile. One Hugh a Norman borne, whome queene Emma had placed in those parties as gouernour or shirife there, conspired with the Danes, so that all the countrie was ouerrun and wasted.

The king hearing that the Danes were thus landed, and spoiled the west parts of the realme, he sent vnto Edricus to assemble a power to withstand the enimies. Herevpon the people of Hampshire and Wiltshire rose and got togither: but when the armies should ioine, earle [Sidenote: The counterfait sicknesse of duke Edrike.] Edricus surnamed de Streona feigned himselfe sicke, and so betraied his people, of whome he had the conduct: for they perceiuing the want [Sidenote: Wilton spoiled.] in their leader, were discouraged, and so fled. The Danes followed them vnto Wilton, which towne they rifled and ouercame. From thence they went to Salisburie, and so taking their pleasure there, returned [Sidenote: Simon Dun.] to their ships, because (as some write) they were aduertised that [Sidenote: 1004.] the king was comming towards them with an huge armie. In the yeare next insuing, that is to saie 1004, which was about the 24 yeare [Sidenote: Swein king of Denmarke.] of K. Egelreds reigne, Sweine or Swanus, king of Denmarke, with a mightie nauie of ships came on the coast of Northfolke, and there [Sidenote: Norwich taken by the Danes.] landing with his people, made toward Norwich, and comming thither tooke that citie, and spoiled it. Then went he vnto Thetford, and [Sidenote: Thetford burnt.] when he had taken and rifled that towne, he burnt it, notwithstanding [Sidenote: Vikillus or Wilfeketell gouernour of Norffolke.] a truce taken by Vikillus or Wilfketell gouernor of those parties with the same king Swaine after the taking of Norwich. In reuenge therefore of such breach of truce, the same Vikillus, or Wilfeketell, with such power as he could raise, assaulted the host of Danes as they returned to their ships, and slue a great number of them, but was not able to mainteine the fight, for his enimies ouermatched him in number of men. And so he was constrained in the end to giue backe: and [Sidenote: Hen. Hunt.] the enimies kept on their waies to their ships.

[Sidenote: 1005. Swaine returned into Denmarke. Simon Dun.] In the yeare following king Swaine returned into Denmarke with all his fleet, partlie constrained so to doo (as some write) by reason of the great famin & want of necessarie sustenance, which in that [Sidenote: 1006. Hen. Hunt. Swaine returned into England.] yeare sore oppressed this land. In the yeare of our Lord 1006, king Swaine returned againe into England with a mightie & huge nauie, arriuing at Sandwich, and spoiled all the countrie neere vnto the sea side. King Egelred raised all his power against him, and all the haruest time laie abroad in the field to resist the Danes, which according to their woonted maner spared not to exercise their vnmercifull crueltie, in wasting and spoiling the land with fire and sword, pilfering and taking of preies in euerie part where they came. Neither could king Egelred remedie the matter, because the enimies still conueied themselues with their ships into some contrarie quarter, from the place where they knew him to be, so that his trauell was in vaine.

[Sidenote: The Danes winter in the Ile of Wight. They inuade Hampshire, Barkeshire, &c.] About the beginning of winter they remained in the Ile of Wight, & in the time of Christmasse they landed in Hampshire, and passing through that countrie into Barkeshire, they came to Reading, and from thence to Wallingford, and so to Coleseie, and then approching to Essington, came to Achikelmeslawe, and in euerie place wheresoeuer they came, they made cleane worke. For that which they could not carie with them, they consumed with fire, burning vp their innes and sleaing their hoasts. In returning backe, the people of the west countrie gaue them battell, but preuailed not, so that they did but inrich their [Sidenote: Winchester.] enimies with the spoile of their bodies. They came by the gates of Winchester as it were in maner of triumph, with vittels and spoiles which they had fetched fiftie miles from the sea side. In the [Sidenote: 1007.] meane time king Egelred lay about Shrewsburie sore troubled with the newes hereof, and in the yeare next insuing, by the aduise of his councell he gaue to king Swaine for the redeeming of peace 30000 [Sidenote: 36000 pound saith Si. Dun.] pounds.

[Sidenote: Edrike de Streona made duke or earle of Mercia.] In the same yeare K. Egelred created the traitor Edrike earle of Mercia, who although he had maried Edgiua the kings daughter, was yet noted to be one of those which disclosed the secrets of the realme, and the determinations of the councell vnto the enimies. But he was such a craftie dissembler, so greatlie prouided of sleight to dissemble and cloake his falshood, that the king being too much abused by him, had him in singular fauour, whereas he vpon a malicious purpose studied dailie how to bring the realme into vtter destruction, aduertising the enimies from time to time how the state of things stood, whereby they came to knowlege when they should giue place, [Sidenote: Wil. Malm.] and when they might safelie come forward. Moreouer, being sent vnto them oftentimes as a commissioner to treat for peace, he persuaded them to warre. But such was the pleasure of God, to haue him and such other of like sort aduanced to honor in this season, when by his diuine prouidence he meant to punish the people of this realme for their wickednesse and sinnes, whereby they had iustlie prouoked his wrath and high displeasure.

[Sidenote: Henr. Hunt. Simon Dun. An hundred acres is an hide of land.] In the 30 yeare of king Egelreds reigne, which fell in the yeare of our Lord 1008, he tooke order that of euerie three hundred and ten hides of land within this realme, there should one ship be builded, and of euerie eight hides a complet armor furnished. In the yeare [Sidenote: 1008] following, the kings whole fleet was brought togither at Sandwich, and such souldiers came thither as were appointed to go to sea in the same fleet. There had not beene seene the like number of ships [Sidenote: Provision for ships and armour] so trimlie rigged and furnished in all points, in anie kings daies before. But no great profitable peece of seruice was wrought by them: for the king had about that time banished a noble yoong man of [Sidenote: Matt. West.] Sussex called Wilnot, who getting togither twentie sailes, laie vpon the coasts taking prices where he could get them. Brithrike the brother of earle Edrike, being desirous to win honor, tooke forth foure score of the said ships, and promised to bring in the enimie dead or aliue. But as he was sailing forward on the seas, a sore tempest with an outragious wind rose with such violence, that his ships were cast vpon the shore: and Wilnot comming vpon them, set them on fire, and so burned them euerie one. The residue of the ships, when newes came to them of this mishap, returned backe to London; and then was the armie dispersed, and so all the cost and trauell of the Englishmen proued in vaine.

[Sidenote: Danes land at Sandwich. 1009.] After this, in the haruest time a new armie of Danes, vnder the conduct of three capteines, Turkill, Henning, and Aulafe landed at Sandwich, and from thence passed forth to Canturburie, and had taken the citie but that the citizens gaue them a 1000 pounds to depart from [Sidenote: 3000 pound saith Sim. Dun.] thence, and to leaue the countrie in peace. Then went the Danes to [Sidenote: Sussex and Hampshire spoiled.] the Ile of Wight, and afterwards landed and spoiled the countrie of Sussex and Hampshire. King Egelred assembled the whole power of all his subiects, and comming to giue them battell, had made an end of their cruell harieng the countrie with the slaughter of them all, if earle Edrike with forged tales (deuised onelie to put him in feare) had not dissuaded him from giuing battell. The Danes by that [Sidenote: The Danes returne into Kent.] meanes returning in safetie, immediatlie after the feast of saint Martine, returned into Kent, and lodged with their nauie in the winter following in the Thames, and oftentimes assaulting the citie of London, were still beaten backe to their losse.

[Sidenote: 1010. Oxford burnt.] After the feast of Christmasse they passed through the countrie and woods of Chilterne vnto Oxford, which towne they burned, and then returning backe they fell to wasting of the countrie on both sides the Thames. But hearing that an armie was assembled at London to giue them battell; that part of their host which kept on the northside of the [Sidenote: Stanes.] riuer, passed the same riuer at Stanes, and so ioining with their fellowes marched foorth through Southerie, and comming backe to their ships in Kent, fell in hand to repare & amend their ships that were in anie wise decaied. Then after Easter, the Danes sailing about the [Sidenote: Gipswich in Suffolke. Simon Dun.] coast, arriued at Gipswich in Suffolke, on the Ascension day of our Lord: and inuading the countrie, gaue battell at a place called Wigmere or Rigmere, vnto Vikill or Wilfeketell leader of the English host in those parties, on the fift of Maie. The men of Northfolke and Suffolke fled at the first onset giuen: but the Cambridgeshire men sticked to it valiantlie, winning thereby perpetuall fame and commendation. There was no mindfulnesse amongest them of running awaie, so that a great number of the nobilitie and other were beaten [Sidenote: Capat formicae.] downe and slaine, till at length one Turketell Mireneheued, that had a Dane to his father, first began to take his flight, and deserued thereby an euerlasting reproch.

The Danes obteining the vpper hand, for the space of three moneths togither went vp and downe the countries, & wasted those parties of the realme, that is to say, Northfolke, and Suffolke, with the borders of Lincolnshire, Huntingtonshire, and Cambridgeshire where the fens are, gaining exceeding riches by the spoile of great and wealthie [Sidenote: Thetford. Cambridge. Hen. Hunt.] abbies and churches which had their situation within the compasse of the same fens. They also destroied Thetford, and burnt Cambridge, and from thence passed through the pleasant mountaine-countrie of Belsham, cruellie murdering the people without respect of age, degree [Sidenote: The Danes arrive in the Thames. 1011.] or sex. After this also they entred into Essex. and so came backe to their ships, which were then arriued in the Thames. But they rested not anie long time in quiet, as people that minded nothing but the destruction of this realme. So as soone after, when they had somwhat refreshed them, they set forward againe into the countrie, passing through Buckinghamshire, & so into Bedfordshire. And about saint [Sidenote: Northampton burnt by Danes.] Andrewes tide they turned towards Northampton, & comming thither set fire on that towne. Then turning through the west countrie, with fire & sword they wasted and destroied a great part thereof, & namelie Wiltshire, with other parties. And finallie about the feast of Christmas they came againe to their ships. Thus had the Danes [Sidenote: How manie shires the Danes wasted.] wasted the most part of 16 or 17 shires within this realme, as Northfolke, Suffolke, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Middlesex, Hartfordshire, Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire, and Bedfordshire, with a part of Huntingtonshire, and also a great portion of Northamptonshire. This was doone in the countries that lie on the northside of the riuer of Thames. On the southside of the same riuer, they spoiled and wasted Kent, Southerie, Sussex, Barkeshire, Hampshire, and (as is before said) a great part of Wiltshire.

* * * * *

King Egelred offereth the Danes great summes of moneie to desist from destroieng his countrie, their unspeakable crueltie, bloudthirstinesse, and insatiable spoiling of Canturburie betraied by a churchman; their merciles murthering of Elphegus archbishop of Canturburie, Turkillus the Dane chiefe lord of Norfolke and Suffolke, a peace concluded betweene the Danes and the English vpon hard conditions; Gunthildis a beautifull Danish ladie and hir husband slaine, hir courage to the death.


[Sidenote: The king sendeth to the Danes. Simon Dun.] The king and the peeres of the realme, vnderstanding of the Danes dealing in such merciles maner (as is aboue mentioned) but not knowing how to redresse the matter, sent ambassadors vnto the Danes, offering them great summes of moneie to leaue off such cruell wasting and spoiling of the land. The Danes were contented to reteine the moneie, but yet could not absteine from their cruell dooings, neither was their greedie thirst of bloud and spoile satisfied with the wasting and destroieng of so manie countries and places as they had passed [Sidenote: 1011.] through. Wherevpon, in the yeere of our Lord 1011, about the feast of S. Matthew in September, they laid siege to the citie of Canturburie, which of the citizens was valiantlie defended by the space of twentie daies. In the end of which terme it was taken by the enimies, [Sidenote: Canturburie wonne by Danes.] through the treason of a deacon named Almaricus, whome the archbishop Elphegus had before that time preserued from death. The Danes exercised passing great crueltie in the winning of that citie (as by sundrie authors it dooth and maie appeere.) For they slue of men, [Sidenote: Fabian ex Antonino.] women, and children, aboue the number of eight thousand. They tooke [Sidenote: The archbishop Elphegus taken. Hen. Hunt.] the archbishop Elphegus with an other bishop named Godwine; also abbat Lefwin and Alseword the kings bailife there. They spared no degree, in somuch that they slue and tooke 900 priests, and other men of religion. And when they had taken their pleasure of the citie, they [Sidenote: Antoninus. Vincentius. Wil. Lamb. ex Asserio Meneuensi, & alijs.] set it on fire, and so returned to their ships. There be some which write that they tithed the people after an inuerted order, slaieng all by nines through the whole multitude, and reserued the tenth: so that of all the moonks there were but foure saued, and of the laie people 4800, whereby it followeth that there died 43200 persons. Whereby is gathered that the citie of Canturburie, and the countrie thereabouts (the people whereof belike fled thither for succor) was at that time verie well inhabited, so as there haue not wanted (saith maister Lambert) which affirme that it had then more people than London it selfe.

[Sidenote: 1112. Henr. Hunt.] But now to our purpose. In the yeere next insuing, vpon the Saturday in Easter weeke, after that the bishop Elphegus had beene kept prisoner with them the space of six or seuen moneths, they cruellie in a rage led him foorth into the fields, and dashed out his [Sidenote: The archbishop Elphegus murthered.] braines with stones, bicause he would not redeeme his libertie with three thousand pounds, which they demanded to haue beene leuied of his farmers and tenants. This cruell murther was commited at Greenewich foure miles distant from London, the 19 of Aprill, where he lay a [Sidenote: Miracles.] certeine time vnburied, but at length through miracles shewed (as [Sidenote: Elphegus buried in London.] they say, for miracles are all wrought now by dead men, and not by the liuing) the Danes permitted that his bodie might be caried to London, and there was it buried in the church of S. Paule, where it rested for the space of ten yeeres, till king Cnute or Knought had the [Sidenote: Translated to Canturburie.] gouernment of this land, by whose appointment it was remooued to Canturburie.

[Sidenote: Wil. Malms. Turkillus held Norffolk and Suffolke.] Turkillus the leader of those Danes by whome the archbishop Elphegus was thus murthered, held Northfolke and Suffolke vnder his subiection, & so continued in those parties as chiefe lord and gouernor. But the residue of the Danes at length, compounding with [Sidenote: 48 thousand pound as saith Sim. Dun. and M. West. Henr. Hunt.] the Englishmen for a tribute to be paid to them of eight thousand pounds, spred abroad in the countrie, soiorning in cities, townes and villages, where they might find most conuenient harbour. Moreouer, fortie of their ships, or rather (as some write) 45 were reteined to serue the king, promising to defend the realme; with condition, that the souldiers and mariners should haue prouision of meate and drinke, with apparell found them at the kings charges. As one autor hath gathered, Swaine king of Denmarke was in England at the concluding of this peace, which being confirmed with solemne othes and sufficient hostages, he departed into Denmarke.

[Sidenote: Matth. West.] The same author bringeth the generall slaughter of Danes vpon S. Brices day, to haue chanced in the yeere after the conclusion of this agreement, that is to say, in the yeere 1012, at what time [Sidenote: Gunthildis the sister of K. Swaine murthered.] Gunthildis the sister of king Swaine was slaine, with hir husband & hir sonne, by the commandement of the false traitor Edrike. But bicause all other authors agree that the murther of Danes was executed about ten yeeres before this supposed time: we haue made rehearsall thereof in that place. Howbeit, for the death of Gunthildis, it maie be, that she became hostage either in the yeere 1007, at what time king Egelred paied thirtie thousand pounds vnto king Swaine to haue peace (as before you haue heard) or else might she be deliuered in hostage, in the yeere 1011, when the last agreement was made with the Danes (as aboue is mentioned.) But when or at what time soeuer she became hostage, this we find of hir, that she came hither into England with hir husband Palingus, a mightie earle, and receiued baptisme [Sidenote: Wil. Malm.] heere. Wherevpon she earnestlie trauelled in treatie of a peace betwixt hir brother and king Egelred: which being brought to passe chieflie by hir sute, she was contented to become an hostage for performance thereof (as before is recited.) And after by the commandement of earle Edrike she was put to death, pronouncing that the shedding of hir bloud would cause all England one day sore to rue. She was a verie beautifull ladie, and tooke hir death without all feare, not once changing countenance, though she saw hir husband and hir onelie sonne (a yoong gentleman of much towardnesse) first murthered before hir face.

* * * * *

Turkillus the Danish capteine telleth king Swaine the faults of the king, nobles, & commons of this realme, he inuadeth England, the Northumbers and others submit themselues to him, Danes receiued into seruice vnder Egelred, London assalted by Swaine, the citizens behaue themselues stoutlie, and giue the Danish host a shamefull repulse, Ethelmere earle of Deuonshire and his people submit themselues to Swaine, he returneth into Denmarke, commeth back againe into England with a fresh power, is incountred withhall of the Englishmen, whose king Egelred is discomfited, his oration to his souldiers touching the present reliefe of their distressed land, their resolution and full purpose in this their perplexitie, king Egelred is minded to giue place to Swaine, he sendeth his wife and children ouer into Normandie, the Londoners yeeld vp their state to Swaine, Egelred saileth oner into Normandie, leauing his land to the enimie.


[Sidenote: Turkillus discloseth the secrets of the Realme to K. Swaine.] Now had Turkillus in the meanetime aduertised king Swaine in what state things stood here within the realme: how king Egelred was negligent, onlie attending to the lusts & pleasures of the flesh: how the noble men were vnfaithfull, and the commons weake and feeble [Sidenote: Simon Dun.] through want of good and trustie leaders. Howbeit, some write, that Turkillus as well as other of the Danes which remained heere in England, was in league with king Egelred, in somuch that he was with him in London, to helpe and defend the citie against Swaine when he came to assalt it (as after shall appeere.) Which if it be true, a doubt may rise whether Swaine receiued anie aduertisement from Turkillus to mooue him the rather to inuade the realme: but such aduertisements might come from him before that he was accorded with Egelred.

[Sidenote: Swaine prepareth an armie to inuade England.] Swaine therefore as a valiant prince, desirous both to reuenge his sisters death, and win honor, prepared an huge armie, and a great number of ships, with the which he made towards England, and first [Sidenote: He landeth at Sandwich. 1013.] comming to Sandwich, taried there a small while, and taking eftsoones the sea, compassed about the coasts of Eastangles, and arriuing in the [Sidenote: Gainsbourgh.] mouth of Humber, sailed vp the water, and entering into the riuer of Trent, he landed at Gainesbourgh, purposing to inuade the Northumbers. But as men brought into great feare, for that they had beene subiect to the Danes in times past, and thinking therefore not to reuolt to the enimie, but rather to their old acquaintance, if [Sidenote: The Northumbers yeeld to Swaine.] they should submit themselues to the Danes, streightwaies offered to become subiect vnto Swaine, togither with their duke named Wighthred. [Sidenote: The people of Lindsey yeeld themselues to him.] Also the people of Lindsey and all those of the northside of Watlingstreet yeelded themselues vnto him, and delivered pledges. Then he appointed his sonne Cnutus to haue the keeping of those pledges, [Sidenote: Simon Dun.] and to remaine vpon the safegard of his ships, whiles he himselfe [Sidenote: South Mercia.] passed forward into the countrie. Then marched he forward to subdue them of south Mercia: and so came to Oxford & to Winchester, making the countries subiect to him throughout wheresoeuer he came.

With this prosperous successe Swaine being greatlie incouraged, prepared to go vnto London, where king Egelred as then remained, hauing with him Turkillus the Dane, which was reteined in wages [Sidenote: Sim. Dunel.] with other of the Danes (as by report of some authors it maie appeare) and were now readie to defend the citie against their countriemen in support of king Egelred, togither with the citizens. Swaine, bicause he would not step so farre out of the way as to go to the next bridge, lost a great number of his men as he passed through the Thames. At [Sidenote: Swaine assaulteth London.] his comming to London, he began to assault the citie verie fiercelie, in hope either to put his enimie in such feare that he should despaire of all reliefe and comfort, or at the least trie what he was able to doo. The Londoners on the other part, although they were brought in some feare by this sudden attempt of the enimies, yet considering with themselues, that the hazard of all the whole state of the realme was annexed to theirs, sith their citie was the chiefe and [Sidenote: Polydor.] metropolitane of all the kingdome, they valiantlie stood in defense of themselues, and of their king that was present there with them, beating backe the enimies, chasing them from the walles, and otherwise dooing their best to keepe them off. At length, although the Danes did most valiantlie assault the citie, yet the Englishmen to defend their prince from all iniurie of enimies, did not shrinke, but boldlie sallied foorth at the gates in heapes togither, and incountered with their aduersaries, and began to fight with them verie fiercelie.

Swaine whilest he went about to keepe his men in order, as one most desirous to reteine the victorie now almost gotten, was compassed so about with the Londoners on each side, that after he had lost a great number of his men, he was constreined for his safegard to breake out through the midst of his enimies weapons, and was glad that he might [Sidenote: Wil. Malm.] so escape: and so with the residue of his armie ceassed not to iournie day and night till he came to Bath, where Ethelmere an [Sidenote: Erle of Deuonshire as saith Matt. West.] earle of great power in those west parts of the realme submitted [Sidenote: Polydor.] himselfe with all his people vnto him, who shortlie after neuerthelesse (as some write) was compelled through want of vittels to release the tribute latelie couenanted to be paied vnto him for a [Sidenote: Swaine returneth into Denmarke.] certeine summe of monie, which when hee had receiued, he returned into Denmarke, meaning shortlie to returne againe with a greater power.

King Egelred supposed that by the paiment of that monie he should haue beene rid out of all troubles, of warre with the Danes. But the nobles of the realme thought otherwise, and therefore willed him to [Sidenote: Swaine returneth into England to make warre.] prepare an armie with all speed that might be made. Swaine taried not long (to proue the doubt of the noble men to be grounded of foreknowledge) but that with swift speed he returned againe into England, and immediatlie vpon his arriuall was an armie of Englishmen assembled and led against him into the field. Herevpon they ioined [Sidenote: King Egelred discomfited in battell.] in battell, which was sore foughten for a time, till at length by reason of diuerse Englishmen that turned to the enimies side, the discomfiture fell with such slaughter vpon the English host, that king Egelred well perceiued the state of his regall gouernement to bee brought into vtter danger. Wherevpon after the losse of this field, he assembled the rest of his people that were escaped, and spake vnto them after this manner.

The oration of king Egelred to the remanent of his souldiers.

"I shuld for euer be put to silence, if there wanted in vs the vertue of a fatherlie mind, in giuing good aduise & counsel for the well ordering and due administration of things in the common wealth, or if there lacked courage or might in our souldiers and men of warre to defend our countrie. Trulie to die in defense of the countrie where we are borne, I confesse it a woorthie thing, and I for my part am readie to take vpon me to enter into the midst of the enimies in defense of my kingdome. But here I see our countrie and the whole English nation to be at a point to fall into vtter ruine. We are ouercome of the Danes, not with weapon or force of armes; but with treason wrought by our owne people: we did at the first prepare a nauie against the enimies, the which that false traitour Elfrike betraid into their hands. Againe, oftentimes haue we giuen battell with euill successe, and onelie through the fault of our owne people that haue beene false and disloiall: whereby we haue bin constreined to agree with the enimies vpon dishonorable conditions, euen as necessitie required, which to ouercome, resteth onelie in God. Such kind of agreement hath beene made in deed to our destruction, sith the enimies haue not sticked to breake it (they being such a wicked kind of people as neither regard God nor man) contrarie to right and reason, and beside all our hope & expectation. So that the matter is come now to this passe, that we haue not cause onlie to feare the losse of our gouernement, but least the name of the whole English nation be destroied for euer. Therefore sithens the enimies are at hand, and as it were ouer our heads, you to whom my commandement hath euer bene had in good regard, prouide, take counsell, and see to succor the state of your countrie now readie to decay and to fall into irrecouerable ruine."

Herevpon they fell in consultation, euerie one alledging and bringing foorth his opinion as seemed to him best: but it appeared they had the woolfe by the eare, for they wist not which way to turne them. If they should giue battell, it was to be doubted least through treason among themselues, the armie should be betraied into the enimies hands, the which would not faile to execute all kind of crueltie in the slaughter of the whole nation. And if they stood not valiantlie to shew themselues readie to defend their countrie, there was no shift but yeeld themselues. Which though it were a thing reprochfull and dishonorable, yet should it be lesse euill, as they tooke the matter, for thereby might manie be preserued from death, and in time to come, be able to recouer the libertie of their countrie, when occasion should be offered. This point was allowed of them all, and so in the end they rested vpon that resolution.

[Sidenote: King Egelred determineth to give place vnto Swaine.] King Egelred therefore determined to commit himselfe into the hands of his brother in law Richard duke of Normandie, whose sister (as ye haue heard) he had maried. But bicause he would not doo [Sidenote: He sendeth his wife and sonnes ouer into Normandie.] this vnaduisedlie, first he sent ouer his wife queene Emma, with his sonnes which he had begotten of hir, Alfred and Edward, that by their [Sidenote: Richard duke of Normandie.] interteinment he might vnderstand how he should be welcome. Duke Richard receiued his sister and his nephues verie ioifullie, and promised to aid his brother king Egelred in defense of his kingdome. But in this meane while had Swaine conquered the more part of all England, and brought (by little and little) that which remained vnder his subiection. The people through feare submitting themselues [Sidenote: Simon Dun. Hen. Hunt. Turkill. 1014.] on each hand, king Egelred in this meane time (for the Londoners had submitted themselues to Swaine) was first withdrawne vnto Greenwich, and there remained for a time with the nauie of the Danes, which was vnder the gouernement of earle Turkill, and from thence sailed into the Ile of Wight, and there remained a great part of the winter, [Sidenote: King Egelred passeth into Normandie.] and finallie after Christmas himselfe sailed into Normandie, and was of his brother in law ioifullie receiued & greatlie comforted in that his time of necessitie.

* * * * *

Swaine king of Denmarke is reputed king of this land, he oppresseth the English people cruellie, and spoileth religious houses, the strange and miraculous slaughter of Swaine vaunting of his victories; the Danish chronicles write parciallie of him and his end, Cnute succeedeth his father Swaine in regiment, the Englishmen send king Egelred woord of Swaines death, Edward king Egelreds eldest sonne commeth ouer into England to know the state of the countrie and people of certeintie; Egelred with his power returneth into England; what meanes Cnute made to establish himselfe king of this land, and to be well thought of among the English people, Egelred burneth vp Gainesbrough, and killeth the inhabitants therof for their disloialtie; Cnutes flight to Sandwich, his cruel decree against the English pledges, he returneth into Denmarke, why Turkillus the Danish capteine with his power compounded with the Englishmen to tarrie in this land, his faithlesse seruice to Egelred, his drift to make the whole realme subiect to the Danish thraldome.


Swaine hauing now got the whole rule of the land, was reputed full king, and so commanded that his armie should be prouided of wages and vittels to be taken vp & leuied through the realme. In like maner Turkill commanded that to his armie lodged at Greenewich, wages and vittels sufficient should be deliuered, for the finding, releeuing, [Sidenote: Swaine handleth the Englishmen hardlie.] succouring, and susteining thereof. Swaine vsed the victorie verie cruellie against the Englishmen, oppressing them on each hand; to the intent that them being brought low he might gouerne in more suertie. The yeere in which he obteined the rule thus of this realme, and that king Egelred was constreined to flie into Normandie, was in the 35 yeere of the same Egelred his reigne, and after the birth of our Lord 1014. Swaine being once established in the gouernment, did not onelie vse much crueltie in oppressing the laitie, but also stretched foorth his hand to the church, and to the ministers in the same, fleecing them and spoiling both churches and ministers, without anie remorse of conscience, insomuch that hauing a quarell against the inhabitants within the precinct of S. Edmunds land in Suffolke, he did not onelie harrie the countrie, but also rifled and spoiled the abbeie of Burie, where the bodie of saint Edmund rested.

[Sidenote: Fabian. S. Edmund fighteth for the wealth, but not for the slaughter of his people. Simon Dun. 1015.] Wherevpon shortlie after, as he was at Gainesbrough or Thetford (as some say) and there in his iollitie talked with his Nobles of his good successe in conquering of this land, he was suddenlie striken with a knife, as it is reported, miraculouslie, for no man wist how or by whome: and within three daies after, to wit, on the third of Februarie he ended his life with grieuous paine and torment in yelling and roring, by reason of his extreame anguish beyond all measure. There hath sproong a pleasant tale among the posteritie of that age, how he should be wounded with the same knife which king Edmund in his life [Sidenote: Albertus Crantz. Saxo Grammaticus.] time vsed to weare. Thus haue some of our writers reported, but the Danish chronicles report a farre more happie end which should chance to this Swaine, than is before mentioned out of our writers: for the said chronicles report, that after he had subdued England, he tooke order with king Egelred, whome they name amisse Adelstane, that he should not ordeine any other successor, but onlie the said Swaine. Then after this, he returned into Denmarke, where vsing himselfe like a right godlie prince, at length he there ended his life, being a verie old man.

Notwithstanding all this, when or howsoeuer he died, immediatlie [Sidenote: Wil. Malmes. H. Hunt. Canute or Cnute.] after his deceasse the Danes elected his sonne Cnute or Knought to succeed in his dominions. But the Englishmen of nothing more desirous than to shake off the yoke of Danish thraldome besides their necks & shoulders, streightwaies vpon knowledge had of Swaines death, with all [Sidenote: Eglered sent for home.] speed aduertised king Egelred thereof, and that they were readie to receiue and assist him if he would make hast to come ouer to deliuer his countrie out of the hands of strangers. These newes were right ioiful vnto Egelred, who burning in desire to be reuenged on them that had expelled him out of his kingdome, made no longer tariance to set [Sidenote: Edmund K. Egelreds eldest sonne.] that enterprise forward. But yet doubting the inconstancie of the people, he sent his elder son (named Edmund) to trie the minds of them, and to vnderstand whether they were constant or wauering in that which they had promised.

The yoong gentleman hasting ouer into England, and with diligent inquirie perceiuing how they were bent, returned with like speed as he came into Normandie againe, declaring to his father, that all things were in safetie if he would make hast. King Egelred then conceiued [Sidenote: King Egelred returneth into England.] an assured hope to recouer his kingdom, aided with his brother in laws power, and trusting vpon the assistance of the Englishmen, returned into England in the time of Lent. His returne was ioifull and most acceptable to the English people, as to those that abhorred the [Sidenote: Canutes endeuor to establish himselfe in the kingdome.] rule of the Danes, which was most sharpe and bitter to them, although Cnute did what he could by bountifulnesse and courteous dealings to haue reteined them vnder his obeisance.

And of an intent to procure Gods fauour in the well ordering of things for the administration in the common wealth, he sought first to appease his wrath, and also to make amends to saint Edmund for his fathers offense committed (as was thought) against him: insomuch [Sidenote: S. Edmunds ditch.] that after he had obteined the kingdome, he caused a great ditch to be cast round about the land of saint Edmund, and granted manie freedoms to the inhabitants, acquiting them of certeine taskes and paiments, vnto the which other of their neighbours were contributarie. He also builded a church on the place where saint Edmund was buried, and ordeined an house of moonks there, or rather remooued the canons or secular priests that were there afore, and put moonks in their roomes. He offered vp also his crowne vnto the same S. Edmund, and [Sidenote: Polydor. Fabian.] redeemed it againe with a great summe of monie, which maner of dooing grew into an vse vnto other kings that followed him. He adorned the church there with manie rich iewels, and indowed the monasterie with great possessions.

But these things were not done now at the first, but after that he was established in the kingdome. For in the meane time, after that king Egelred was returned out of Normandie, Cnute as then soiourning at Gainesbrough, remained there till the feast of Easter, and made agreement with them of Lindsey, so that finding him horsses, they should altogither go foorth to spoile their neighbors. King Egelred aduertised thereof, sped him thither with a mightie host, and with great crueltie burned vp the countrie, and slue the more part of the [Sidenote: Canute driven to forsake the land.] inhabitants, bicause they had taken part with his enimies. Cnute as then was not of power able to resist Egelred, and therefore taking his ships which lay in Humber, fled from thence, & sailed about [Sidenote: He was driuen thither by force of contrarie winds as should appeare by Matth. West.] the coast, till he came to Sandwich, and there sore greeued in his mind to remember what mischeefe was fallen and chanced to his friends and subiects of Lindsey, onelie for his cause; he commanded that such pledges as had beene deliuered to his father by certeine noble men of this realme, for assurance of their fidelities, should haue their noses slit, and their eares stuffed, or (as some write) their hands and noses cut off. [Sidenote: The cruell decree of Cnute against the English pledges. Will. Malmes.]

When this cruell act according to his commandement was doone, taking the sea, he sailed into Denmarke: but yet tooke not all the Danes with him which his father brought thither. For earle Turkill perceiuing the wealthinesse of the land, compounded with the Englishmen, and [Sidenote: This Turkill was reteined in seruice with Egelred, as I thinke.] chose rather to remaine in a region replenished with all riches, than to returne home into his owne countrie that wanted such commodities as were here to be had. And yet (as some thought) he did not forsake his souereigne lord Cnute for anie euill meaning towards him, but rather to aid him (when time serued) to recouer the possession of England againe, as it afterwards well appeared. For notwithstanding that he was now reteined by K. Egelred with fortie ships, and the flower of all the Danes that were men of warre, so that Cnute returned but with 60 ships into his countrie: yet shortlie after, erle Turkill with 9 of those ships sailed into Denmarke, submitted himselfe vnto Cnute, counselled him to returne into England, and promised him the assistance of the residue of those Danish ships which yet remained [Sidenote: Encomium Emmae.] in England, being to the number of thirtie, with all the souldiers and mariners that to them belonged. To conclude, he did so much by his earnest persuasions, that Cnute (through aid of his brother Harrold king of Denmarke) got togither a nauie of two hundred ships, so roially decked, furnished, and appointed, both for braue shew and necessarie furniture of all maner of weapons, armor & munition, as it is strange to consider that which is written by them that liued in those daies, and tooke in hand to register the dooings of that time. Howbeit to let this pompe of Cnutes fleete passe, which (no doubt) was right roiall, consider a little and looke backe to Turkill, though a sworne seruant to king Egelred, how he did direct all his drift to the aduancement of Cnute, and his owne commoditie, cloking his purposed treacherie with pretended amitie, as shall appeare hereafter by his deadlie hostilitie.

* * * * *

A great waste by an inundation or inbreaking of the sea, a tribute of 30000 pounds to the Danes, king Egelred holdeth a councell at Oxford, where he causeth two noble men of the Danes to be murdered by treason, Edmund the kings eldest sonne marieth one of their wiues, and seizeth vpon his predecessors lands; Cnute the Danish king returneth into England, the Danish and English armies encounter, both susteine losse; Cnute maketh waste of certeine shires, Edmund preuenteth Edriks purposed treason, Edrike de Streona flieth to the Danes, the Westernemen yeeld to Cnute; Mercia refuseth to be subiect vnto him, Warwikeshire wasted by the Danes; Egelred assembleth an armie against them in vaine; Edmund & Vtred with ioined forces lay waste such countries and people as became subiect to Cnute; his policie to preuent their purpose, through what countries he passed, Vtred submitteth himselfe to Cnute, and deliuereth pledges, he is put to death and his lands alienated, Cnute pursueth Edmund to London, and prepareth to besiege the citie, the death and buriall of Egelred, his wiues, what issue he had by them, his unfortunatnesse, and to what affections and vices he was inclined, his too late and bootlesse seeking to releeue his decaied kingdome.


But now to returne to our purpose, and to shew what chanced in England [Sidenote: 1015. Matt. West. Simon Dun. Wil. Malm.] after the departure of Cnute. In the same yeare to the forsaid accustomed mischiefes an vnwoonted misaduenture happened: for the sea rose with such high spring-tides, that ouerflowing the countries next adioining, diuers villages with the inhabitants were drowned and [Sidenote: Matt. West.] destroied. Also to increase the peoples miserie, king Egelred commanded, that 30000 pounds should be leuied to paie the tribute due to the Danes which lay at Greenewich. This yeare also king Egelred [Sidenote: A councell at Oxford. Sigeferd and Morcad murdered.] held a councell at Oxford, at the which a great number of noble men were present, both Danes and Englishmen, and there did the king cause Sigeferd and Morcad two noble personages of the Danes to be murdered within his owne chamber, by the traitorous practise of Edrike de Streona, which accused them of some conspiracie. But the quarell was onelie as men supposed, for that the king had a desire to their goods and possessions.

Their seruants tooke in hand to haue reuenged the death of their maisters, but were beaten backe, wherevpon they fled into the steeple of saint Friswids church, and kept the same, till fire was set vpon the place, and so they were burned to death. The wife of Sigeferd was taken, & sent to Malmsburie, being a woman of high fame and great worthinesse, wherevpon the kings eldest sonne named Edmund, tooke occasion vpon pretense of other businesse to go thither, and there to see hir, with whome he fell so far in loue, [Sidenote: Edmund the kings eldest sonne marrieth the widow of Sigeferd.] that he tooke and maried hir. That doone, he required to haue hir husbands lands and possessions, which were an earles liuing, and lay in Northumberland. And when the king refused to graunt his request, he went thither, and seized the same possessions and lands into his hands, without hauing anie commission so to doo, finding the farmers and tenants there readie to receiue him for their lord.

[Sidenote: Cnute returneth into England.] Whilest these things were a dooing, Cnute hauing made his prouision of ships and men, with all necessarie furniture (as before ye haue heard) for his returne into England, set forward with full purpose, either to recouer the realme out of Egelreds hands, or to die [Sidenote: Encomium Emmae.] in the quarrell. Herevpon he landed at Sandwich, and first earle Turkill obteined licence to go against the Englishmen that were assembled to resist the Danes, and finding them at a place called Scorastan, he gaue them the ouerthrow, got a great bootie, and returned therewith to the ships. After this, Edrike gouernor of Norwaie made a rode likewise into an other part of the countrie, & with a rich spoile, and manie prisoners, returned vnto the nauie. After this iournie atchiued thus by Edrike, Cnute commanded that they should not waste the countrie anie more, but gaue order to prepare all things readie to besiege London: but before he attempted that [Sidenote: Wil. Malm. Hen. Hunt. Matth. West. Sim. Dun.] enterprise, as others write, he marched foorth into Kent, or rather sailing round about that countrie, tooke his iournie westward, & came to Fromundham, and after departing from thence, wasted Dorsetshire, Summersetshire, & Wiltshire.

[Sidenote: King Egelred sicke. Matth. West.] King Egelred in this meane time lay sicke at Cossam; and his sonne Edmund had got togither a mightie hoast, howbeit yer he came to ioine battell with his enimies, he was aduertised, that earle Edrike went about to betraie him, and therefore he withdrew with the armie [Sidenote: Edrike de Streona fleeth to the Danes. Simon Dun.] into a place of suertie. But Edrike to make his tratorous purpose manifest to the whole world, fled to the enimies with fortie of the kings ships, fraught with Danish souldiers. Herevpon, all the west [Sidenote: The west countrie] countrie submitted it selfe vnto Cnute, who receiued pledges of the chiefe lords and nobles, and then set forward to subdue them of [Sidenote: The people of Mercia would not yeeld. Matth. West. Hen. Hunt.] Mercia. The people of that countrie would not yeeld, but determined to defend the quarrell and title of king Egelred, so long as they might haue anie capteine that would stand with them, and helpe [Sidenote: 1016] to order them. In the yeare 1016, in Christmas, Cnute and earle Edrike passed the Thames at Kirkelade, & entring into Mercia, cruellie began with fire and sword to waste and destroie the countrie, and [Sidenote: Warwikeshire wasted by the Danes.] namelie Warwikeshire.

[Sidenote: King Egelred recovered of his sicknesse. He assembleth an armie in vaine.] In the meane time was king Egelred recouered of his sicknesse, and sent summons foorth to raise all his power, appointing euerie man to resort vnto him, that he might incounter the enimies and giue them battell. But yet when his people were assembled, he was warned to take heed vnto himselfe, and in anie wise to beware how he gaue battell, for his owne subiects were purposed to betraie him. Herevpon the armie brake vp, & king Egelred withdrew to London, there to abide his enimies within the walles, with whom in the field he doubted to [Sidenote: Wil. Malm. Edmund king Egelreds sonne.] trie the battell. His sonne Edmund got him to Vtred, an earle of great power, inhabiting beyond Humber, and persuading him to ioine his forces with his, forth they went to waste those countries that were become subiect to Cnute, as Staffordshire, Leicestershire, and Shropshire, not sparing to exercise great crueltie vpon the inhabitants, as a punishment for their reuolting, that others might take example thereby.

[Sidenote: Cnute, what countries he passed through.] But Cnute perceiuing whereabout they went, politikelie deuised to frustrate their purpose, and with dooing of like hurt in all places where he came, passed through Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Huntingtonshire, and so through the fens came to Stamford, and then entred into Lincolnshire, and from thence into Notinghamshire, & so into Yorkeshire, not sparing to doo what mischiefe might be deuised in all places where he came. Vtred aduertised hereof, was constreined to depart home to saue his owne countrie from present destruction, and therefore comming backe into Northumberland, & perceiuing himselfe not [Sidenote: Earle Vtred deliuered pledges to Cnute. Alius Egricus.] able to resist the puissant force of his enimies, was constreined to deliuer pledges, and submit himselfe vnto Cnute. But yet was he not hereby warranted from danger, for shortlie after he was taken, and put to death, and then were his lands giuen vnto one Iricke or Iricius, whome afterward Cnute did banish out of the realme, because that he did attempt to chalenge like authoritie to him in all points as Cnute himselfe had. After that Cnute had subdued the Northumbers, he pursued Edmund, till he heard that he had taken London for his refuge, and [Sidenote: Cnute prepareth to besiege London.] staied there with his father. Then did Cnute take his ships, and came about to the coasts of Kent, preparing to besiege the citie of London.

[Sidenote: King Egelred departed this life. Simon Dun. Matth. West.] In the meane time, king Egelred sore worne with long sicknesse, departed this life on the 23 of Aprill, being saint Georges day, or (as others say) on saint Gregories day, being the 12 of March, but I take this to be an error growen, by mistaking the feast-day of saint [Sidenote: He is buried in the church of S. Paul at London.] Gregorie for saint George. He reigned the tearme of 37 yeares, or little lesse. His bodie was buried in the church of saint Pauls, in the north Ile besids the queere, as by a memoriall there on the wall it maie appeare. He had two wiues (as before is mentioned.) By Elgina his first wife he had issue three sonnes, Edmund, Edwine, and Adelstane; besides one daughter named Egiua. By his second wife Emma, daughter to Richard the first of that name, duke of Normandie, and sister to Richard the second, he had two sonnes, Alfrid and Edward.

1  2     Next Part
Home - Random Browse