The Apocalypse Approaches III Harold: A Second Judas Maccabeus
Rhys ap Rhydderch (brother of Gruffudd) had evidently been mounting regular raids from southern Wales into England. He was killed on King Edward's orders, and his head was presented to Edward, at Gloucester, on the 5th of January. Later in the year: “the Welshmen slew a great number of English folk of the guard” (ASC, MS C). See: A Tale of Two Gruffudds.
Earl Godwine had fallen ill soon after his return to power in September 1052, but he had made a recovery. Godwine and his sons, Earl Harold, Tostig and Gyrth, were spending Easter 1053, with King Edward, at Winchester:
“Then on the second Easter-day he [Godwine] was sitting with the king at a meal, when he suddenly sank down by the footstool, deprived of speech and of all his strength; and he was then removed into the king's chamber;* and it was thought that it would pass over, but it was not so; but he continued so, speechless and strength-less, until the Thursday [15th April], and then resigned his life; and he lies there [at Winchester] within the Old Minster....
In the account of Godwine's death told by William of Malmesbury (‘GR’ II §197), which William attributes to Godwine's Norman detractors, mealtime conversation between King Edward and Godwine had turned to the subject of Edward's late brother, Alfred*:
“ “I perceive,” said he [Godwine], “O king, that on every recollection of your brother, you regard me with angry countenance; but God forbid that I should swallow this morsel, if I have done anything which might tend either to his danger or your disadvantage.” On saying this, he was choked with the piece he had put into his mouth, and closed his eyes in death; and being dragged from under the table by Harold his son, who stood near the king, he was buried in the cathedral of Winchester.”
Henry of Huntingdon tells a version of the story (VI, 23) in which no mention is made of Alfred, but, instead, “the traitor Godwine” says:
“ “It has frequently been falsely reported to you, king, that I have been intent on your betrayal. But if the God of heaven is true and just, may He grant that this little piece of bread shall not pass my throat if I have ever thought of betraying you.” But the true and just God heard the voice of the traitor, and in a short time he was choked by that very bread, and tasted endless death.”*
Ailred of Rievaulx added an embellished version of the tale to his ‘Life’ of St Edward the Confessor*:
“One day, on a popular festival, the king was sitting at the royal table in Godwine's presence, and while they ate one of the waiters stumbled carelessly against some obstacle and very nearly fell, but bringing his other foot neatly forward, he regained his poise with no ill result. Several people remarked on this among themselves, congratulating him for bringing one foot to the aid of the other: the earl as if joking added: “So it is when a brother aids a brother, and one helps the other in his needs.” The king replied: “So would my brother have helped me, if Godwine here had permitted.” Godwine was afraid when he heard this, and showed a sad enough face. “I know, my king, I know that you still accuse me of your brother's death, and you do not yet disbelieve those who call me a traitor to him and to you; but God knows all secrets and will judge. Let him make this morsel which I hold in my hand pass down my throat and leave me unharmed if I am innocent, responsible neither for betraying you nor for your brother's murder.” He said this, placed the morsel in his mouth, and swallowed it half way down his throat. He tried to swallow it further, and was unable: he tried to reject it, but it stuck firm. Soon the passage to his lungs was blocked, his eyes turned up, his limbs stiffened. The king watched him die in misery, and realising that divine judgement had come upon him, called to the bystanders: “Take this dog out”, he said. Godwine's sons ran in, removed him from under the table and brought him to a bedroom, where soon afterwards he made an end fitting for such a traitor.” (§22)
Ailred's story was versified into French in a mid-13th century ‘Life’ of St Edward.* This verse ‘Life’, though, is best known for its illustrations, which are accompanied by separate brief, rubricated, descriptive verses.
The corpse of the felonous glutton
Is dragged out of the house;
He is immediately buried
As befits an attainted traitor:
By this account one can learn,
Guilt is discovered after delay.
Says Earl Godwine at table,
This morsel be my death, to blame
If I am for the death of thy brother,
That all this court may see it.
Now he eats the morsel,
Which at once strangles and kills him.
(It would appear that one reader was so moved to hatred of Godwine that he attempted to erase his face.)
.... And his son Harold succeeded to his earldom [Wessex], and resigned that which he before had [East Anglia], and Ælfgar [son of Earl Leofric of Mercia] succeeded thereto.”*
“In the strength of his body and mind Harold stood forth among the people like a second Judas Maccabeus: a true friend of his race and country, he wielded his father's powers even more actively, and walked in his ways, that is, in patience and mercy, and with kindness to men of good will. But disturbers of the peace, thieves and robbers this champion of the law threatened with the terrible face of a lion.”*
“In this year Earl Siward [of Northumbria] went with a great army into Scotland, and [on 27th July] made great slaughter of the Scots, and put them to flight; and the king [Macbeth] escaped. Many also fell on his [i.e. Siward's] side, both Danish and English, and also his own son [named Osbeorn].” See: Toil and Trouble.
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript C
“In this year Earl Siward died ....
Manuscript C: “In this year Earl Siward died at York, and his body lies within the minster at Galmanho, which he himself had before built, to the glory of God and all His saints.”* Manuscript D says Siward's minster was: “hallowed in the name of God and St Olaf”. (It is assumed that the present St Olave's Church, Marygate, stands on the site of Siward's minster.)
Henry of Huntingdon (VI, 24): “Siward, the stalwart earl, being stricken by dysentery, felt that death was near, and said, “How shameful it is that I, who could not die in so many battles, should have been saved for the ignominious death of a cow! At least clothe me in my impenetrable breastplate, gird me with my sword, place my helmet on my head, my shield in my left hand, my gilded battle-axe in my right, that I, the bravest of soldiers, may die like a soldier.” He spoke, and armed as he had requested, he gave up his spirit with honour.”
.... and then was summoned a full council-meeting [“at London”, MS C], 7 nights before mid-Lent [i.e. on 20th March]; and Earl Ælfgar was outlawed, because it was cast upon him that he was a traitor to the king and to all the people of the land. And he confessed it before all the men who were there gathered; though the word escaped him involuntarily. And the king gave to Tostig, son of Earl Godwine, the earldom which Earl Siward had before possessed.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript E
The exact nature of the charge against Ælfgar is not known, but Manuscript C insists that he was “outlawed without any guilt” (a sentiment agreed with by Florence of Worcester), whereas Manuscript D says he was “almost without guilt”. At any rate, Ælfgar went to Ireland, where he raised a force of eighteen ships' companies. He then crossed over to Wales, and formed an alliance with Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, who was now ruler of all Wales.* Their joint forces marched into Herefordshire – the territory of King Edward's French nephew, Earl Ralph.* On 24th October 1055, two miles from Hereford, Ælfgar and Gruffudd were intercepted by Ralph. Ralph had attempted to introduce his English forces to Continental cavalry tactics. Unfortunately, his attempt proved to be unsuccessful:
“... before there was any spear shot the English folk fled, because they were on horses; and a great slaughter was made there, about four hundred men, or five; and on the other side not one.”
“The timid Earl Ralph ... ordered the English, contrary to their custom, to fight on horseback. But just as they were about to join battle, the earl with his Frenchmen and Normans set the example by flight; the English seeing this, fled with their commander; and nearly the whole body of the enemy pursued them, slew 400 or five hundred of them, and wounded a great number.”
Florence of Worcester
Ælfgar and Gruffudd sacked and burned Hereford, including the cathedral – seven canons who defended the doors were killed.
In response, a force, drawn from all over England, was mustered at Gloucester, with Earl Harold in command. The invaders carried their booty back into Wales. Harold pursued them a little way across the border, but Ælfgar and Gruffudd had no intention of stopping to fight.* Harold gave-up the chase, dismissed most of his force, returned to Hereford with the rest, and restored the town's defences.* Eventually, Harold, Ælfgar and Gruffudd agreed terms at a place called Billingsley:
“And Earl Ælfgar was then inlawed, and there was restored to him all that had before been taken from him. And the fleet went to Chester, and there awaited their pay, which Ælfgar had promised them.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript C
On 10th February, the bishop of Hereford, Athelstan, died:
“... and Leofgar was appointed bishop. He was Earl Harold's mass-priest; he wore his moustaches in his priesthood until he was a bishop. He forsook his chrism and his rood, his spiritual weapons, and took to his spear and to his sword after his bishophood, and so went campaigning against Gruffudd [Griffin], the Welsh king; and he was there slain, and his priests with him, and Æthelnoth the sheriff, and many good men with them; and the others fled away.+ This was 8 nights before Midsummer [i.e. on 16th June]. It is difficult to describe the misery, and all the marches, and the encamping, and the labour, and the destruction of men, and also of horses, which all the English army underwent, until Earl Leofric came there, and Earl Harold and Bishop Ealdred [of Worcester], and made peace between them; so that Gruffudd swore oaths, that he would be to King Edward a faithful and unfailing under-king. And Bishop Ealdred succeeded to the bishopric that Leofgar had before had for 11 weeks and 4 days.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript C
An entry in the Cheshire section of the Domesday Book reads: “King Edward gave to King Gruffudd all the land that lay beyond the water which is called the Dee. But after Gruffudd himself wronged him, he took this land from him, and restored it to the bishop of Chester and to all his men who formerly held it.” Whether Edward's grant of the territory west of the Dee – actually, Gruffudd had probably already overrun it – was made as part of the settlement of 1056 is a moot point, but Edward must have made significant concessions on that occasion.
Also in the the Domesday Book, in the Herefordshire section, is the following remark concerning Archenfield (to the Welsh: Ergyng), the region between the rivers Wye and Monnow, to the south of Hereford: “King Gruffudd and Bleddyn [presumably Gruffudd's half-brother, of whom more later] laid waste this land”.
In a story told by Walter Map, who was probably born in or near Hereford, Edward and Gruffudd (in fact, Walter confuses father and son, so always refers to Gruffudd as Llywelyn!), having agreed to parley, face each other across the Severn – Edward at Aust Cliff, Gruffudd at Beachley – unable to agree which was to cross the river to the other: “The passage itself was difficult from the violence of the waves, but it was not from that the contest arose; Llywelyn asserted his superiority, Edward his equality; Llywelyn that all England, with Cornwall, Scotland and Wales, had been conquered from the giants by his forefathers, whose direct heir he claimed to be. Edward that his own ancestors had received them from their conquerors. After this contest had been long continued, Edward at last entered a boat to approach Llywelyn. The Severn is there a mile in breadth. Llywelyn observing and recognizing him, threw off his mantle of state, for he had attired himself for the dispensation of justice, and entered the water up to his breast; when, cordially seizing the boat, he exclaimed, “Most prudent king, your humility has gained the victory over my pride, and your wisdom has triumphed over my absurdity; mount then the neck which I so foolishly erected against you, and thus you shall enter the land which your courtesy has this day made your own.” Thus, having taken Edward upon his shoulders, Llywelyn made him sit upon the mantle, and with clasped hands did him homage. This was a remarkable beginning of peace; but after the way of the Welsh, it was observed only until an opportunity of doing injury arrived.” (II, 23)
Back in 1054 Bishop Ealdred had gone “to Cologne, over sea, on the king's errand” (MS D). Florence of Worcester explains that the purpose of Ealdred's mission was to enlist the aid of Emperor Henry III in arranging the return to England, from Hungary, of Edward (the son of King Edward's half-brother, Edmund Ironside), who had been exiled by King Cnut, because, asserts Florence: “the king had determined to make him heir to the kingdom”. In 1057:
“In this year came the ætheling Edward to England; he was King Edward's brother's son, King Edmund who was called Ironside for his valour... We know not for what cause it was done that he might not see [the face] of his kinsman King Edward. Alas! that was a rueful hap, and harmful for all this nation, that he so quickly ended his life after he came to England, to the misfortune of this poor nation.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D
The ætheling Edward, who is generally known as Edward the Exile, died on 19th April, and was buried in St Paul's, London.* Perhaps he was already sick when he arrived in England, and that was the, perfectly innocent, reason he was not allowed to meet the king. We shall never know. It appears that the ætheling was accompanied by his wife, Agatha (“the emperor's kinswoman”, MS D), his daughters, Margaret and Christina, and his son Edgar, and that they remained in England after his death.
Two other notable deaths in 1057 were those of Earl Leofric, on either 31st August or 30th September,* and Earl Ralph, on 21st December. Earl Ralph was buried at Peterborough, and Earl Leofric:
“... was buried with great state at Coventry. Among his other good deeds in this life, he and his wife, the noble countess Godgifu (comitissa Godgiva), who was a devout worshipper of God, and one who loved the ever-virgin St Mary, entirely constructed at their own cost the monastery there, well endowed it with land, and enriched it with ornaments to such an extent, that no monastery could be then found in England possessing so much gold, silver, jewels, and precious stones. [A list of their numerous endowments to various religious establishments follows]... As long as he lived, this earl's wisdom stood the kings and people of England in good stead.”
Florence of Worcester
Leofric's wife, Godgifu,* is much better known than the earl himself, as Lady Godiva.
13th century chronicler Roger of Wendover tells, s.a. 1057, the earliest known version of a famous fable:
“The countess Godiva, who was a great lover of God's mother, longing to free the town of Coventry from the oppression of a heavy toll, often with urgent prayers besought her husband, that from regard to Jesus Christ and his mother, he would free the town from that service, and from all other heavy burdens; and when the earl sharply rebuked her for foolishly asking what was so much to his damage, and always forbade her ever more to speak to him on the subject; and while she, on the other hand, with a woman's pertinacity, never ceased to exasperate her husband on that matter, he at last made her this answer, “Mount your horse, and ride naked, before all the people, through the market of the town, from one end to the other, and on your return you shall have your request.” On which Godiva replied, “But will you give me permission, if I am willing to do it?” “I will,” said he. Whereupon the countess, beloved of God, loosed her hair and let down her tresses, which covered the whole of her body like a veil, and then mounting her horse and attended by two knights, she rode through the market-place, without being seen except her fair legs; and having completed the journey, she returned with gladness to her astonished husband, and obtained of him what she had asked; for earl Leofric freed the town of Coventry and its inhabitants from the aforesaid service, and confirmed what he had done by a charter.”
The character Peeping Tom, apparently, became attached to the yarn in the 17th century.
“And Earl Leofric died, and Ælfgar, his son, succeeded to the earldom which his father before had [i.e. Mercia].”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript E
Ælfgar's old earldom, East Anglia, was given to Gyrth, the brother of earls Harold and Tostig. Another brother, Leofwine, gained an earldom in the southeast. Herefordshire was acquired by Harold.* With most of England under the control of Godwine's sons, it would not be surprising if Ælfgar felt somewhat insecure and isolated. Maybe this prompted him to strengthen his ties with his western neighbour, Gruffudd ap Llywelyn – at some stage Ælfgar married-off his daughter, Ealdgyth, to Gruffudd – which in turn led to him being, once again, outlawed.
“In this year Earl Ælfgar was banished; but he soon came in again with force, through Gruffudd's aid. And this year came a ship-army from Norway. It is tedious to tell how it all went.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D
Florence of Worcester supplies a little more clarity than the evidently bored author of Manuscript D:
“Ælfgar, earl of the Mercians, was a second time outlawed by King Edward; but assisted by Gruffudd, king of the Welsh, and supported by a Norwegian fleet, which came to him unexpectedly, he soon recovered his earldom by force.”
According to the Irish ‘Annals of Tigernach’, the Norwegian assault on England amounted to nothing short of a full-scale invasion:
“A fleet [was led] by the son of the king of Norway, with the foreigners [i.e Norsemen] of the Orkneys and the Hebrides and Dublin, to seize the kingdom of England; but to this God consented not.”
Whilst Welsh annals report that:
“Magnus, son of Harald [King Harald III of Norway, i.e. Harald Hardrada], ravaged the lands of the English, with the assistance of Gruffudd, king of the Britons.”
Presumably the situation was defused by “tedious” diplomatic means – no doubt involving a considerable contribution to the Norwegian exchequer, as well as Ælfgar's restoration – otherwise, one must assume, if it had come to all-out war and great loss of life, the English chronicler would have been interested enough to make a note of it.
Stigand, archbishop of Canterbury, had acquired his position in irregular circumstances, in 1052, and his appointment had not been recognized by Rome. In 1058, however, Benedict X, the antipope (April 1058 – January 1059), sent him a pallium. When Benedict was deposed, by Pope Nicholas II, Stigand once more became persona non grata.*
“... when Earl Tostig ruled the earldom [of Northumbria], the Scots, since they had not yet tested him and consequently held him more cheaply [than they had Earl Siward], harassed him often with raids rather than war. But this irresolute and fickle race of men, better in woods than on the plain, and trusting more to flight than to manly boldness in battle, Tostig, sparing his own men, wore down as much by cunning schemes as by martial courage and military campaigns. And as a result they and their king preferred to serve him and King Edward than to continue fighting, and, moreover, to confirm the peace by giving hostages.”
Presumably it was so he could “confirm the peace” that the Scots' king, Malcolm III was, in 1059, conducted to King Edward's court by Earl Tostig, Archbishop Cynesige of York and Bishop Æthelwine of Durham.*
Archbishop Cynesige died on 22nd December 1060.
In the spring of 1061, Bishop Ealdred, newly appointed archbishop of York, travelled to Rome, in the company of Earl Tostig, to collect his pallium. It seems that Tostig had an able lieutenant, named Copsig, to govern Northumbria for him.* Whilst Tostig was abroad, however:
“... Malcolm king of Scots, furiously ravaged the earldom of his sworn brother Earl Tostig, and violated the peace of St Cuthbert in the island of Lindisfarne.”
There are no reported consequences of Malcolm's raid, and it would appear not to have permanently soured relations between him and “his sworn brother” Tostig.
At the time of Archbishop Cynesige's death, Ealdred, bishop of Worcester, was also bishop of Hereford – having taken-over the see following the killing of Bishop Leofgar, by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, in 1056. When he was chosen to succeed Cynesige, Ealdred resigned the see of Hereford, but retained Worcester.
On his journey to Rome, Ealdred was accompanied by Tostig and his wife, Tostig's brother, Gyrth, and also Giso, chosen bishop of Wells, and Walter, chosen bishop of Hereford (both ‘Frenchmen’), who were going to be consecrated by the pope – a task which, had it not been for the doubtful legality of his position, Stigand would normally have been expected to perform. The party arrived in Rome by Easter (15th April) 1061. Giso and Walter were duly consecrated. Ealdred's business, however, did not proceed as smoothly.
Manuscript D of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ makes the rather enigmatic comment: “the bishop and the earl suffered great hardship as they fared homeward.” The details of Ealdred and Tostig's Roman adventure are revealed in the ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’ (I, 5) and by William of Malmesbury, in ‘GP’ (III §115), and also in his ‘Vita Wulfstani’ (I, 10).
It has been mentioned that, when he was appointed archbishop of York, Ealdred had retained the bishopric of Worcester (a not unprecedented state of affairs).* This was unacceptable to Rome, however, and, after a long debate, Pope Nicholas II not only refused Ealdred the pallium, but also stripped him of his episcopal rank. Ealdred's case had taken so long that Tostig had already sent his wife and most of his entourage home. Soon after leaving Rome, Tostig and Ealdred's group were set upon and robbed. They made their way back to Rome, where a furious Tostig railed against the pope. At any rate, the combination of fear of Tostig, compassion for the group's distress, and Ealdred's previous humble acceptance of Nicholas' ruling, softened the pope's attitude. Ealdred was reinstated and given his pallium, but on the condition that he relinquish the see of Worcester. Tostig was placated with gifts, and the pair returned safely to England.
Florence of Worcester reports that, on the 8th of September 1062, at York, Wulfstan, prior of Worcester, was consecrated bishop of Worcester by Archbishop Ealdred.*
Though his passing is not recorded, it seems likely that Earl Ælfgar of Mercia died during 1062 (he simply disappears from the record), and was succeeded by his eldest son, Edwin.*
Perhaps Ælfgar's death gave Earl Harold the opportunity he had been waiting for: to destroy the Mercian earl's Welsh ally, Gruffudd ap Llywelyn. ‘Chronicle’ Manuscript D:
“In this year, after Midwinter [i.e. after Christmas 1062], Earl Harold went from Gloucester to Rhuddlan, which was Gruffudd's, and burned the residence, and his ships, and all the equipments which belonged thereto, and put him to flight....
.... And then, at the Rogation days [26th–28th May 1063], Harold went with ships from Bristol around Wales [Brytlande], and the folk made peace and gave hostages. And Tostig went with a land-force against them, and they subdued the land....
.... But in the same year, at harvest, King Gruffudd was slain, on the Nones of August [5th August], by his own men, because of the war which he warred against Earl Harold. He was king over all the-Welsh-race [Wealcyn]; and his head was brought to Earl Harold, and Harold brought it to the king, and his ship's figure-head, and the ornaments therewith. And King Edward delivered the land over to his two brothers, Bleddyn and Rhiwallon; and they swore oaths, and gave hostages to the king and to the earl, that they would be faithful to him in all things, and ready to [serve] him everywhere by water and by land, and to pay such requisitions from the land as had been done before to any other king.”*
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D
“... Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, the head and shield, and defender of the Britons, fell through the treachery of his own men. The man who had hitherto been invincible, was now left in the glens of desolation, after taking immense spoils, and innumerable victories, and countless treasures of gold and silver, and jewels and purple vestures.”
English philosopher John of Salisbury (‘Policraticus’, 1159), writes (VI, 6): “The recent history of the English tells how, when the Britons had made an irruption and were ravaging England, Duke Harold was sent by the most pious King Edward to subdue them. He was an able warrior with an illustrious record of praiseworthy achievements, and one who might have transmitted his own glory and that of his family to future generations had he not imitated the wickedness of his father and tarnished his titles of merit by disloyally assuming the crown. When, therefore, he discovered the nimbleness of the nation he had to deal with, he selected light-armed soldiers so that he might meet them on equal terms. He decided, in other words, to campaign with a light armament shod with boots, their chests protected with straps of very tough hide, carrying small round shields to ward off missiles, and using as offensive weapons javelins and a pointed sword. Thus he was able to cling to their heels as they fled and pressed them so hard that “foot repulsed foot and spear repulsed spear,” and the boss of one shield that of another. And so he reached Snowdon, the Hill of Snows itself, and wasted the whole country, and prolonging the campaign to two years, captured their chiefs and presented their heads to the king who had sent him; and slaying every male who could be found, even down to the pitiful little boys, he thus pacified the province at the mouth of the sword.+ He established a law that any Briton who was found with a weapon beyond a certain limit which he set for them, to wit the Fosse of Offa, was to have his right hand cut off by the officials of the king. And thus by the valour of this leader the power of the Britons was so broken that almost the entire race seemed to disappear and by the indulgence of the aforesaid king, their women were married to Englishmen.”
Norman-Welsh author Giraldus Cambrensis, in his Description of Wales (‘Descriptio Cambriae’, 1194), writes (II, 7): “He [Harold] advanced into Wales on foot, at the head of his lightly-clad infantry, lived on the country, and marched up and down and round and about the whole of Wales with such energy that he “left not one that pisseth against a wall”. In commemoration of this success, and to his own undying memory, you will find a great number of inscribed stones put up in Wales to mark the many places where he won a victory. This was the old custom. The stones bear the inscription: HIC FUIT VICTOR HAROLDUS [‘Harold was the victor here’].” No such inscribed stones have been found.
The unified Welsh kingdom of Gruffudd ap Llywelyn died with him. The north was in the hands of his maternal half-brothers, Bleddyn and Rhiwallon, sons of Cynfyn. Rule of the south-west reverted to the descendants of Hywel Dda, in the person of Maredudd ab Owain ab Edwin – nephew of Hywel ab Edwin, who had been killed in battle by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn in 1044. Whilst the dominant force in the south-east was Caradog – son of Gruffudd ap Rhydderch, who had been killed by Gruffudd ap Llywelyn in 1055.
Henry of Huntingdon (VI, 25): “It happened in the same year [i.e. 1063] that in the king's presence in the royal hall at Windsor, just as his brother Harold was serving wine to the king, Tostig grabbed Harold by the hair. For Tostig nourished a burning jealousy and hatred because, although he was himself the first-born [no, Harold was the older], his brother was higher in the king's affection. So, driven by a surge of rage, he was unable to check his hand from his brother's flowing locks. The king, however, foretold that their destruction was already approaching, and that the wrath of God would be delayed no longer. Such was the savagery of those brothers that when they saw any village in a flourishing state, they would order the lord and all his family to be murdered in the night, and would take possession of the dead man's property. And these, if you please, were justices of the realm! So Tostig, departing in anger from the king and from his brother, went to Hereford, where his brother had prepared an enormous royal banquet. There he dismembered all his brother's servants, and put a human leg, head, or arm into each vessel for wine, mead, ale, spiced wine, wine with mulberry juice, and cider. Then he sent to the king, saying that when he came to his farm he would find enough in salted food, and that he should take care to bring the rest with him. For such an immeasurable crime the king commanded him to be outlawed and exiled.”
The earlier part of this fable was adopted by Ailred of Rievaulx, in his 1163 ‘Life’ of St Edward the Confessor (§21). Ailred, however, shifted the incident to when Harold and Tostig were children. They have a fierce fight, at a banquet in front of the King and Godwine: “Now Harold made a stronger onslaught on his brother, seized his hair with both hands, dragged him to the ground, and would have throttled him with his greater strength, had he not been quickly rescued.” King Edward then prophesies the fate of the brothers.
Right: Harold and Tostig fight in the presence of Edward and Godwine, as depicted in the mid-13th century verse ‘Life’ of St Edward (Cambridge University Library MS Ee.iii.59).
“In this year, before Lammas [1st August], Earl Harold ordered a building to be erected in Wales at Portskewett [in Gwent], when he had subdued it; and there gathered much property, and thought to have King Edward there for the sake of hunting. But when it was all ready,+ then went Caradog, the son of Gruffudd [ap Rhydderch], with all the gang which he could get, and slew almost all the folk who were there building, and took the property which was there prepared. We know not who first counselled this folly [unræd].+ This was done on St Bartholomew's mass-day [24th August]....
A tale told in the ‘Vita Sancti Gundleii’ (Life of St Gwynllyw), composed round-about 1130, “may throw some light”, suggests Frank Barlow*, on Harold's invasion of south Wales. Some English merchants are said (‘Vita Sancti Gundleii’ §13) to have refused to pay the customary toll at the harbour at the mouth of the Usk (now Newport, a dozen miles west of Portskewett). As a result, the anchor of their ship was removed and taken to the church of St Gwynllyw. The English sailors and merchants complained to Earl Harold, who promptly collected an army and ravaged the area. Some of Harold's men broke into St Gwynllyw's church. They failed to find the anchor, but plundered goods that had been deposited in the church for safe keeping. When some purloined cheeses were cut into, they began to bleed, so the astonished earl's men returned all the stolen property. Harold made an offering at the altar, and promised he would never violate the sanctuary of St Gwynllyw's church. “More certainly”, writes Frank Barlow, “Harold ordered some buildings to be constructed at Portskewett a few miles south-west of Chepstow, in what is now Monmouthshire, presumably to provide the merchants with a safer base than Newport.”
* “The Godwins: the Rise and Fall of a Noble Dynasty” (2002), Chapter 6.
The south-eastern corner of Wales where this action takes place features in the Gloucestershire section of the Domesday Book. There is a reference to: “4 vills made waste by King Caradog.” It doesn't seem unreasonable to associate this devastation with the raid in which Harold's buildings at Portskewett were targeted.
.... +And soon after this, all the thegns in Yorkshire and in Northumberland gathered together and outlawed their earl Tostig, and slew all the men of his court that they could come at, both English and Danish, and took all his weapons at York, and gold and silver, and all his treasures which they could anywhere hear of ...”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D
“... all his earldom unanimously renounced and outlawed him, and all who raised up lawlessness with him, because he first robbed God, and bereaved all those of life and of land over whom he had power.”
“Shortly after the feast-day of St Michael the archangel, to wit, on Monday the 5th of the Nones of October [3rd October], the Northumbrian thegns Gamelbearn, Dunstan son of Æthelnoth, Glonieorn son of Heardwulf, entered York with 200 soldiers, and (in revenge for the execrable slaughter of the noble Northumbrian thegns Gospatric – whom Queen Edith, for the sake of her brother Tostig, had ordered to be treacherously slain in the king's court, on the 4th night after the feast of our Lord's Nativity [i.e. on 28th December 1064] – and Gamel son of Orm and Ulf son of Dolfin – whom Earl Tostig, while at York, the year before, had caused to be treacherously slain in his own chamber, although there was peace between them – and also on account of the heavy tribute which he unjustly laid on the whole of Northumbria) they on the same day, first of all, stopped in their flight his [Tostig's] Danish housecarls Amund and Ravenswart, and put them to death outside the city walls, and on the following day slew more than 200 men of his court, on the north side of the river Humber. They also broke open his treasury, and retired, carrying off all his effects.”
Florence of Worcester
“... [The Northumbrians] sent after Morcar, son of Earl Ælfgar, and chose him for their earl. And he went south with all the shire, and with Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire and Lincolnshire, until he came to Northampton; and his brother Edwin came to meet him with the men that were in his earldom [i.e. Mercia], and also many Welsh [Bryttas] came with him.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts D and E
Meanwhile, Tostig himself was with the king in Wiltshire, ostensibly for the consecration of a new church, funded by Queen Edith, at Wilton Abbey. When news of the trouble in the North reached the royal court, Edward despatched Earl Harold (at Tostig's request, says Florence of Worcester) to negotiate with the rebels.
“There [i.e. Northampton] came Earl Harold to meet them, and they laid an errand on him to King Edward, and also sent messengers with him, and asked that they might have Morcar for their earl... And the northern men did great harm about Northampton while he went on their errand, inasmuch as they slew men, and burned houses and corn, and took all the cattle which they could come at; that was many thousand. And many hundred men they took, and led north with them; so that the shire, and the other shires which are nigh there, were for many winters the worse.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts D and E
The ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’ makes no mention of Northampton, nor or of Harold's involvement, but says that, the rebels (“gathered together in an immense body, like a whirlwind or tempest”) made their way as far south as Oxford (on the Mercia/Wessex border). In Manuscripts D and E of the ‘Chronicle’ the rebels never move beyond Northampton. It is clear from Manuscript C, however, that Harold met with the rebel leaders at Northampton initially, but subsequently at Oxford. At any rate, in the ‘Vita’, on their first meeting with the rebels, King Edward's unnamed messengers told them that if they called-off “the madness” any proven injustices would be rectified:
“But those in revolt against their God and king rejected the conciliatory message, and replied to the king that either he should straightway dismiss that earl of his [i.e. Tostig] from his person and the whole kingdom, or he himself would be treated as an enemy and have all them as enemies. And when the most gracious king had a second and third time through messengers and by every kind of effort of his counsellors tried to turn them from their mad purpose, and failed, he moved from the forests, in which he was as usual staying for the sake of regular hunting, to Britford, a royal manor near the royal town of Wilton. And when he had summoned the magnates from all over the kingdom, he took counsel there on what was to be done in this business.”
‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’ I, 7
It appears that there was little support for Tostig at the meeting, several of those present seemingly sharing the rebels' view that he was cruel and rapacious. Further:
“It was also said, if it be worthy of credence, that they [the Northumbrians] had undertaken this madness against their earl at the artful persuasion of his brother, Earl Harold (which heaven forbid!). But I dare not and would not believe that such a prince was guilty of this detestable wickedness against his brother. Earl Tostig himself, however, publicly testifying before the king and his assembled courtiers charged him with this; but Harold, rather too generous with oaths (alas!), cleared this charge too with oaths.”
‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’ I, 7
The Northumbrian rebels persisted in their demand for Tostig to be removed from office. Edward attempted to mobilise an army to crush them:
“But because changeable weather was already setting in from hard winter, and it was not easy to raise a sufficient number of troops for a counter-offensive, and because in that race horror was felt at what seemed civil war, some strove to calm the raging spirit of the king and urged that the attack should not be mounted. And after they had struggled for a long time, they did not so much divert the king from his desire to march as, wrongfully and against his will, desert him. Sorrowing at this he fell ill, and from that day until the day of his death he bore a sickness of mind.”
‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’ I, 7
Anyway, Edward was forced to concede. On 28th October, at Oxford, Harold informed the rebels that Morcar would be earl of Northumbria, and, say Manuscripts D and E, he “renewed there the laws of Cnut”, i.e. justice was restored.*
“And Earl Tostig, and his wife, and all those who wanted what he wanted, went south over sea with him to Earl Baldwin [i.e. Count Baldwin V of Flanders], and he received them all, and they were all winter there [“at Saint-Omer”, MS C].”*
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts D and E
“And King Edward came to Westminster at Midwinter, and there caused the minster to be hallowed, which he himself had built to the glory of God and St Peter, and to all God's saints; and the church-hallowing was on Childermas-day [28th December]....
.... And he died on Twelfth-day eve [5th January 1066],* and was buried on Twelfth-day [6th January], in the same minster ...”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C and D
In the church of Westminster,
Which King Edward caused to be restored,
Is his body buried.
A deformed man there is cured;
So God does many cures
Through Edward, who is his loyal servant.
Above: The burial of King Edward in Cambridge University Library MS. Ee.iii.59.
As can be seen from the following passage in the ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’ (I, 6), Edward's magnificent new minster was built some distance from the existing church, enabling the small community of monks to carry on with their devotions during construction: “And so the building, nobly begun at the king's command, was successfully made ready; and there was no weighing of the costs, past or future, so long as it proved worthy of, and acceptable to, God and St Peter. The house of the high altar, noble with its most lofty vaulting, is surrounded by dressed stone evenly jointed. Also the passage round that temple is enclosed on both sides by a double arching of stone with the joints of the structure strongly consolidated on this side and that. Furthermore, the crossing of the church, which is to hold in its midst the choir of God's choristers, and to uphold with like support from either side the high apex of the central tower, rises simply at first with a low and sturdy vault, swells with many a stair spiralling up in artistic profusion, but then with a plain wall climbs to the wooden roof which is carefully covered with lead. Above and below are built out chapels methodically arranged, which are to be consecrated through their altars to the memory of apostles, martyrs, confessors, and virgins. Moreover, the whole complex of this enormous building was started so far to the East of the old church that the brethren dwelling there should not have to cease from Christ's service and also that a sufficiently spacious vestible might be placed between them.”
William of Malmesbury notes (‘GR’ II §228) that Edward was buried: “in the said church, which he, first in England, had erected after that kind of style which now almost all attempt to rival at enormous expense.”
Right: Westminster Abbey (with work still in progress), as depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry
Manuscripts C and D of the ‘Chronicle’ commemorate Edward's death in verse, and then, in a masterpiece of understatement, add:
“And in this year also Earl Harold was hallowed king; and he experienced little quiet therein, the while that he ruled the realm.”
Florence of Worcester says it was Godwine's sons, Harold, Tostig and Gyrth, who carried him into the king's chamber. Whilst ‘Chronicle’ Manuscript C mentions the presence of Harold and Tostig, it is only Florence who mentions Gyrth.
Judas Maccabeus was a Jewish guerrilla leader (d.160BC), noted for his successes against the forces of Antiochus IV, the Seleucid king of Syria, who was intent on imposing the religion of the Greeks on the Jews.
Henry errs in setting his story at Windsor instead of Winchester.
Bootham Bar, York, used to be called Galmanhithe.
Olaf Haraldsson, known as Olaf the Stout, erstwhile king of Norway (Olaf II), was killed in 1030, and was soon venerated as a saint. (See: Cnut the Great.)
This is the second time that Ælfgar had been made earl of East Anglia. When Godwine and Harold were banished in 1051, Ælfgar had been given Harold's earldom, East Anglia. The following year Godwine and Harold were reinstated, so Ælfgar lost the earldom.
Kari Maund* expresses the view that Ælfgar had already been negotiating an alliance with Gruffudd (“to help counterbalance the faction of Earl Harold and his brothers”), and that it was the “opening of private negotiations with this dangerous neighbour” which had led to the accusation of treason against him.
Michael and Sean Davies* go further. Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, king of Gwynedd, had, in fact, only just succeeded in killing his southern rival, Gruffudd ap Rhydderch, by which mechanism he won the rule of all Wales. Welsh annals, though, supply no details. The Davies' propose that it was the extra forces brought to the party by Ælfgar that provided Gruffudd ap Llywelyn with: “the firepower he needed to overcome his namesake and forge a kingdom of all Wales.”
* Kari Maund, ‘The Welsh Kings’ (2000), Chapter 3.
Michael and Sean Davies, ‘The Last King of Wales’ (2012), Chapter 3.
Earl Ralph was the son of Edward's sister, Goda (Godgifu), by her first husband, Drogo (Dreux), count of the Vexin.
The year-numbers 1055 and 1056 were omitted in Manuscript C, though spaces were left for them to be inserted and a ‘modern’ hand has supplied them in small Arabic numerals. After the entries applicable to 1056, there are no further entries until 1065 (again, the year-number was originally omitted).
A style of fortified lordly residence, developed on the Continent, introduced to England by Edward's ‘Frenchmen’. Its purpose was, not only to provide a defensible base for the lord, but to intimidate and dominate the local populace. Not to be confused with the later magnificent stone edifices, these were relatively crude earthwork and timber constructions.
‘Chronicle’ Manuscript C: “a force was gathered from very near all England, and they came to Gloucester, and so went out, not far into Wales, and there lay some while.”
Florence of Worcester: “the valiant Earl Harold ... pursued Gruffudd and Ælfgar, and boldly entering the Welsh borders encamped beyond Straddele; but they, knowing him to be a brave and warlike man, dared not risk a battle, but retreated into South Wales.” Straddele has been identified* as the valley of the Dore (to the south-west of Hereford), known as the Golden Valley.
* J. Horace Round, ‘Domesday Survey’ in ‘The Victoria History of the County of Hereford’ Volume I (1908).
‘Chronicle’ Manuscript C: “And Earl Harold meanwhile caused a ditch to be dug about the town [port].”
Florence of Worcester: “[Harold] encircled it with a broad and deep ditch, and fortified it with gates and bars.”
The implication would seem to be that Hereford had not previously been a fortified town (burh), but this is not the case. ‘Herefordshire Archaeology Report 310’ (January 2013):
“9th century. The first defended town, its gravel and clay rampart and ditch demonstrated by excavation on the west and north sides but the putative eastern side returning down the eastern side of the Cathedral Close remaining unproven.
c.900AD. The town was refortified with a turf, clay and timber rampart extended well to the east (proved by excavations at Cantilupe Street) to include the St Guthlac’s site. The defences were strengthened by stone walls later in the 10th century.
Late 10th to 11th century. There is evidence from both the west and east sides of the city for the neglect or abandonment of the defences before an episode of refurbishment involving the re-excavation of the ditch to the west and the provision of a timber fence or palisade on the east. These may be associated with the documented refortification of the city in 1055. Recent C14 dates from the Bishop’s Meadow Row Ditch south of the river suggest it may date from the same episode.”
Manuscript C Bylgeslege; Florence of Worcester Biligesleagea. Edward A. Freeman* believed that this was Billingsley in Shropshire, a village some 5 miles to the south of Bridgnorth. Most scholars, however, seem to prefer a Billingsley in Herefordshire – the site of a farm, about 4 miles to the south of Hereford.
* ‘The History of the Norman Conquest of England, Its Causes and Its Results’ Volume II, Second Edition, Revised (1870), Chapter 9 §2.
scirgerefa = shire-reeve = sheriff
Florence of Worcester: “at a place called Clastbyrig [usually identified with Glasbury on Wye]”.
Æthel (Æþel) means ‘noble’ (it features as an element of many Anglo-Saxon names), and an ætheling is a male of royal blood who is an eligible candidate for the throne.
Not in the manuscript, but, grammatically, something has to be here.
Manuscript D: “In the same year [i.e. 1057] died Earl Leofric, on the 2nd of the Kalends of October [30th September]. He was very wise before God and also before the world, which profited all this nation.”
Florence of Worcester, though, says that Earl Leofric: “of blessed memory, and worthy of all praise, died in a good old age, at his own manor of Bromley [King's Bromley, Staffordshire], on the 2nd of the Kalends of September [31st August]”.
Lady Godiva by John Collier (1850–1934)
Ailred of Rievaulx, in his ‘Life’ of St Edward the Confessor (§15): “His [Earl Leofric's] wife was called Godgifu [Godgiva], who complemented the meaning of her name with splendid practical action, for the name means ‘good gift’. Maybe Christ brought her to be a good gift to the Church, or maybe she offered herself as a most gratifying present to God through her faith and devotion.”
‘Chronicle’ Manuscript E: “In this year  the ætheling Edward, King Edmund's son, came hither to land, and shortly after died; and his body is buried within St Paul's minster at London.” The date of his death is provided by the ‘Crowland Psalter’ (Oxford, Bodleian Library MS Douce 296; third quarter of the 11th century).
The earls' territories can be inferred from charter evidence and from entries in the Domesday Book, but it is not an exact science. See Edward A. Freeman, ‘The History of the Norman Conquest of England, Its Causes and Its Results’ Volume II, Appendix Note G (available online), and the series of maps at the end of Stephen Baxter's paper ‘Edward the Confessor and the Succession Question’ (available online).
William of Malmesbury (‘GP’ I §23): “he [Stigand] never won a pallium from Rome, for all the efficacy of bribery there too, though a usurper known as Benedict did send him one, so glad was he that Stigand had addressed him as pope when other archbishops made mock of him. But Benedict was soon thrown out, and all his acts annulled; and it was decreed in a healing council that someone with no right to the papacy could not lawfully have bestowed a pallium. Stigand did not learn from this, but persisted in his course, with no thought for the salvation of souls so long as he went on enjoying his lay honours.”
A white, scarf-like, vestment worn by the pope, and bestowed by him on archbishops as a symbol of delegated papal authority.
Malcolm III, perhaps better known as Malcolm Canmore, secured the Scottish throne in 1058. It can often be read that Earl Siward's intervention in Scotland in 1054 was on this Malcolm's behalf, however, this view, though widely promulgated, does not seem to bear close scrutiny.
See: Toil and Trouble.
The bishopric of Worcester was held, simultaneously, by the archbishop of York between 971 and 1016, and again briefly in 1040–41.
Pope Nicholas died at the end of July 1061, and Florence of Worcester says it was his successor, Alexander II who sent two legates to England. These legates had been at Worcester during Lent 1062. They were impressed with Wulfstan, and it was thanks to their advocacy that he received the bishopric. William of Malmesbury, in ‘GP’ (III §115), says it was the pope's legates who, with Ealdred's consent, consecrated Wulfstan, though in the ‘Vita Wulfstani’ (I, 12) it is Ealdred who consecrates him.
Malcolm's journey to see Edward is recorded s.a. 1059 in the, so called, ‘Annales Lindisfarnenses et Dunelmenses’ (Annals of Lindisfarne and Durham), which have been attributed to Symeon of Durham. The notice has also been added to the ‘Historia Regum’ (History of the Kings) in the margin at the foot of the page.
Symeon of Durham notes (‘LDE’ III, 14) that Copsig “had charge of the whole earldom under Tostig”.
Ælfgar is said, by William of Malmesbury in his ‘Vita Wulfstani’ (I, 11), to have been present when Wulfstan was chosen to be bishop of Worcester, which was at Easter 1062. Earl Edwin does not appear in the record until 1065.
Manuscript D is absolutely clear that Gruffudd was killed in 1063, as, indeed, is Manuscript E.* Florence of Worcester, however, places the killing on 5th August 1064. The ‘Annals of Ulster’ also report the event s.a. 1064: “The son of Llywelyn, king of the Britons, was killed by the son of Iago.” Plainly, there is an area of doubt, but most scholars seem to accept Manuscript D's dating: Gruffudd ap Llywelyn was killed on 5th August 1063. As for the identity of “the son of Iago”, he is sometimes speculatively identified as Cynan ab Iago (this Iago, i.e. Iago ab Idwal, being the king of Gwynedd killed in the coup which brought Gruffudd ap Llywelyn to power in 1039), who evidently found refuge in Dublin following his father's downfall.
Manuscript E's entry s.a. 1063: “In this year Earl Harold and his brother, Earl Tostig, went both with a land-force and with a ship-army into Wales, and they subdued the land; and the folk gave them hostages and submitted; and then went after that and slew their king, Gruffudd, and brought his head to Harold; and he appointed another king thereto.”
This concludes Florence of Worcester's entries for 1063. The subsequent material assigned to 1063 by Manuscript D is placed s.a. 1064 by Florence (who adds no further detail).
The highlighted phrase implies that Gruffudd ap Llywelyn was killed in 1064. Nevertheless, the ‘Chronicle’ is clear he was killed in 1063.
The, somewhat enigmatic, highlighted comment is unique to Manuscript D.
Highlighted phrase in Manuscript D.
In Manuscript C (where the year–number, which was not originally inserted into the space left for it, has been supplied by a ‘modern’ hand in small Arabic numerals), the opening section of the annal being very similar to Manuscript D, the phrase is: “And when it was almost gathered”.
According to tradition, St Gwynllyw (St Woolos) was a son of Glywys, eponymous founder of, the ancient kingdom of south-east Wales, Glywysing. Gwynllyw was the father of St Cadog. Cadog's mother was St Gwladus (St Gladys), daughter of Brychan, eponymous founder of Brycheiniog. (See: The Birth of Nations: Wales.)
Actually, in Manuscripts D and E, the rebels never move beyond Northampton – it is to there that Harold conveys the news that the king has acceded to their demands: “on the eve of St Simon and St Jude's mass [27th October]”. Manuscript C, though, says that Harold first met with the rebels at Northampton, and subsequently: “at Oxford, on the day of Simon and Jude [28th October].” Florence of Worcester concurs with Manuscript C.
It is generally believed that this Gospatric is the last son of Uhtred, the erstwhile earl of Northumbria, who was killed on the orders of King Cnut.
(See: The Battle of Carham).
Housecarls (Old English huscarl, from Old Norse húskarl, literally ‘house-man’) were the household troops of the king or an earl.
At this point Manuscripts C and D, for the time being, diverge. However, Manuscript E's annal begins here. The highlighted phrase is as Manuscript D. Manuscript E has: “In this year the Northumbrians went together”, and then continues as per Manuscript D. However, in Manuscript E the events of 1065 are erroneously placed alongside the year-number 1064, which should have been left as an empty annal.
At this point, Manuscript E's annal ends. However, Manuscript D now continues as per Manuscript C.
Florence of Worcester says that Edward died on a Thursday, and 5th January was indeed a Thursday in 1066, but the ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’ dates Edward's death to 4th January (pridie nonas januarii).
Translation by Andy Orchard in ‘A Companion to Medieval Poetry’ (2010), Chapter 1.
In this year King Edward, lord of the English, sent his righteous soul to Christ, his holy spirit into God's keeping. He lived long here in the world in royal power, skilful in counsel, a noble ruler: for a tally of 24 and a half years he doled out wealth, ruler of men;+ Æthelred's son governed gracefully the Welsh and the Scots, the Britons too,* the Angles and the Saxons, mighty champions, those the cold seas surround, so that all the young warriors loyally obeyed the noble king. He was ever a kindly and a guileless king, though for long times past deprived of his land he had travelled paths of exile widely throughout the world, once Cnut overcame Æthelred's kin, and Danes ruled the dear kingdom of England for a tally of 28 years, doled out wealth. Thereafter there came forth, splendid in array, a king fine in virtues pure and mild, the noble Edward defended his homeland, country and people, until suddenly there came bitter death, and snatched that noble so dear from the earth; angels carried his righteous soul into the light of heaven. Nonetheless, the wise man entrusted the kingdom to a high-ranking man, Harold himself, the noble earl, who had always obeyed loyally his lord, and in no way held back what was the due of that great king.
The highlighted phrase, as in Manuscript C: XXIIII ... wintra gerimes ... 7 healfe tid, literally: ‘24 winters numbered and half time’. (Florence of Worcester correctly gives Edward's reign as “23 years, 6 months, and 27 days”.) In Manuscript D, however, in place of healfe, he hælo is written over an erasure, to produce: ‘24 winters numbered and he a prosperous time’.
Presumably (?), by referring to both “the Welsh” (Walum) and “the Britons” (Bryttum), a distinction is being made between the Britons of Strathclyde and the Britons of Wales – it may be that since the Welsh are paired with the Scots, it is they who are the Strathclyde Britons.
Walter Map's ‘De Nugis Curialium’ (Courtiers' Trifles) – an entertaining collection of gossip and anecdotes – was written, piecemeal, between about 1181 and 1192.
The ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis qui apud Westmonasterium requiescit’ (Life of King Edward who rests at Westminster) survives in a single, incomplete (eight pages are evidently missing), manuscript of c.1100 (BL Harley 526). It was commissioned by Queen Edith (d.1075), wife of King Edward and daughter of Earl Godwine. The anonymous author was probably a monk from the monastery of Saint-Bertin, at Saint-Omer in Flanders (now France), working in England. The work falls into two distinct sections. The first is historical in nature, and, in fact, King Edward is almost an incidental character – the focus being on Edith's family. This section would appear to have been begun in the autumn of 1065 and abandoned during 1066 (Edward's death in January 1066 is the last event mentioned), as the traumatic events that destroyed the family unfolded. The second section, being concerned with manifestations of Edward's sanctity, is in-effect a saint's ‘Life’ in embryo. The indications are that it was composed in 1067.
Henry, archdeacon of Huntingdon, first produced his ‘Historia Anglorum’ (History of the English) about 1130. He later revisited the work – revising and extending – several times. The final version concludes with the accession of Henry II in 1154.
‘Historia Regum’ (History of the Kings).
‘Gesta Pontificum Anglorum’ (Deeds of the Bishops of England).
King Edward was canonized in 1161. He is remembered by posterity as Edward the Confessor. Ailred of Rievaulx wrote his ‘Vita Sancti Edwardi Regis et Confessoris’ in honour of St Edward's enshrinement at Westminster Abbey in 1163. Ailred's work was based on the first real saint's ‘Life’ of Edward, by Osbert of Clare, prior of Westminster, produced in 1138 to promote Edward as a suitable candidate for canonization. The starting point of Osbert's work appears to have been the anonymous and snappily titled ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis qui apud Westmonasterium requiescit’ (Life of King Edward who rests at Westminster), which seems to date from 1065–7.
Based on the Latin ‘Life’ by Ailred of Rievaulx, ‘La Estoire de Seint Aedward le Rei’ was written around 1240, though the surviving copy (Cambridge University Library MS Ee.iii.59) is a little later, c.1250-60. The author may well have been Matthew Paris (d.1259), the famous chronicler and monk of St Albans Abbey.
‘Gesta Regum Anglorum’ (Deeds of the Kings of England).
William based his Latin ‘Life’ of Wulfstan (bishop of Worcester 1062–95) on a, now lost, vernacular ‘Life’ written by one Coleman, Wulfstan's chaplain of fifteen years. (Wulfstan was canonized in 1203.)
‘Libellus de Exordio atque Procursu istius hoc est Dunhelmensis Ecclesie’ (Tract on the Origins and Progress of this the Church of Durham).
Sulcard, a monk of Westminster Abbey, in his ‘Prologus de Construccione Westmonasterii’ (Prologue Concerning the Building of Westminster), of c.1080, may well have derived this material from a, now lost, passage in the ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis’.