In 1005, a severe famine caused a Viking army, commanded by Swein Forkbeard, king of Denmark, that had been marauding in England since 1003, to retreat to Denmark. England had been ruled by King Æthelred, remembered by posterity as ‘the Unready’, since 978.* He was about to enter the final, extremely turbulent, decade of his reign. In 1006, as reported in Manuscripts C, D and E of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’:
“... after Midsummer [“in the month of July”, Florence of Worcester] came the great fleet to Sandwich,+ and did all as was before their wont, harried, and burned, and slew as they went [“sometimes in Kent and sometimes in Sussex”, FoW]. Then the king commanded all the population of Wessex and of Mercia to be called out; and they then lay all the harvest-time in readiness against the army [i.e. the Viking army]; but it came to naught more than it had often done before. But for all this the army went as itself would; and the [English] expedition did every harm to the country people; so that neither did good to them, neither the in-army [i.e. the English] nor the out-army [i.e. the Vikings]....
.... When winter drew nigh, the force went home, and the army then came after St Martin's mass [11th November] to their sanctuary in the Isle of Wight, and procured everywhere there what they required. And then at Midwinter they went to their prepared quarters, out through Hampshire into Berkshire to Reading; and they did according to their old wont, kindled their beacons as they went. They then went to Wallingford, and burned it all down; and were then one night at Cholsey,+ and then went along Ashdown to Cwichelm's Barrow [Scutchamer Knob, near East Hendred], and there tarried for what had been proudly threatened, because it had often been said, if they came to Cwichelm's Barrow, they would never get to the sea.+ They then went home by another way. A force was then assembled at Kennet, and they there engaged together, and they [the Vikings] soon brought that troop to flight, and then conveyed their booty to the sea. There might the people of Winchester see an insolent and fearless army, as they went by their gate to the sea, and fetched themselves food and treasures from over 50 miles from the sea. The king had then gone over the Thames into Shropshire, and there taken his abode in the Midwinter's-tide [i.e. over Christmas]. Then was there so great awe of the army, that no one could think or devise how they should be driven from the country, or this country held against them; because they had cruelly marked every shire in Wessex with burning and with harrying. The king then began with his councillors [witan] earnestly to consider what might seem most advisable to them all, so that this country might be protected, ere it was totally ruined. The king then and his councillors decreed, for the good of all the nation, although it was hateful to them all, that they must of necessity pay tribute to the army.+ Then the king sent to the army, and commanded it to be made known to them, that he desired that there should be peace between them, and that tribute should be paid, and food given them. And they then accepted all that; and then they were provisioned from throughout the English nation.”
Meanwhile, away from the gaze of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, the Scots, lead by their new king, Malcolm II, were threatening Northumbria: The Siege of Durham.
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, Manuscripts C, D and E, s.a. 1007:
“In this year the tribute was paid to the army; that was 36 thousand pounds....
.... In this year also was Eadric set as ealdorman over the Mercians' kingdom.”
There had been no ealdorman of Mercia for more than twenty years – since Ælfric Cild was exiled, in 985. Eadric, who earned the epithet Streona (which apparently means ‘the Aquisitor’), is probably the most reviled figure of the whole Anglo-Saxon period.* Florence of Worcester, s.a. 1007:
“... he was a man of humble birth, but his tongue procured him both riches and high station; he was of a ready wit, of persuasive eloquence, and surpassed all his contemporaries in malice, perfidy, pride, and cruelty.”*
The tribute paid to ‘the army’ in 1007 evidently bought a brief respite from Viking raids. In 1008 Æthelred ordered ships to be built “strenuously” throughout England.*
By summer 1009 the new ships were ready. Manuscripts C, D and E:
“... there were so many of them as never before, from what books tell us, had been in England in any king's day. And they were all brought together at Sandwich, and were there to lie and hold this country against every foreign army.”
Sadly, the plan was soon in tatters. Brihtric, brother of Ealdorman Eadric, accused one Wulfnoth Cild, from Sussex, of some unspecified crime. Wulfnoth went on the run with twenty of the ships: “and he then ravaged everywhere by the south coast, and wrought every kind of evil.” Brihtric “thought that he should make himself much talked of”, and gave chase with eighty ships. Unfortunately, a storm blew up and shipwrecked Brihtric's fleet. Wulfnoth appeared on the scene and burned the beached ships.
“When this was thus known to the other ships where the king was, how the others had fared, it was as if everything was in confusion; and the king went home, and the ealdormen and chief councillors, and thus lightly forsook the ships; and the people then that were in the ships brought the ships again to London;+ and they let the toil of all the nation thus lightly perish ...”
No sooner was this shambolic episode concluded than:
“... soon after Lammas [1st August] came the immense army, which we have called Thorkell's army, to Sandwich ...+”
Thorkell is the Viking chieftain (Old Norse jarl, Old English eorl, i.e. ‘earl’) Thorkell the Tall. However, the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ is not telling quite the whole story here. Florence of Worcester provides a more comprehensive report:
“Thorkell, a Danish earl, came over to England with his fleet; afterwards, in the month of August, another countless fleet of Danes, under the command of earls Hemming and Eilaf, came over to the Isle of Thanet, and without delay joined the other fleet. Thence both fleets went to Sandwich ...+”
So this very large Viking army, with Thorkell the Tall in overall command, arrived at Sandwich. Manuscripts C, D and E:
“... and soon went their way to Canterbury, and would have subdued the town [burh], if they the more speedily had not craved peace of them. And all the East Kentish made peace with the army, and gave them 3 thousand pounds. And then, soon after that, the army went until it came to the Isle of Wight; and thence everywhere in Sussex, and in Hampshire, and also in Berkshire, harried and burned, as is their wont. Then the king commanded all the nation to be called out, that they might be resisted on every side; but lo! they went, nevertheless, how they would. Then on one occasion the king had got before them with all his force, when they would go to their ships, and all the people were ready to attack them; but it was then prevented by Ealdorman Eadric, as it ever was....
.... Then after St Martin's mass [11th November], they went again to Kent, and took them winter-quarters on the Thames, and sustained themselves from Essex, and from the shires which were there nearest, on both sides of the Thames. And they often fought against the town of London, but to God be praise that it yet stands sound; and they there ever fared ill. And then, after Midwinter, they took an upward course, out through the Chilterns, and so to Oxford, and burned that town, and then took their way, on both sides of the Thames, towards their ships. They were then warned that there was a force gathered against them at London; they went over at Staines; and thus travelled all the winter, and that Lent  they were in Kent, and repaired their ships.”
Having carried out their repairs – this was “after Easter” (Easter fell on 9th April in 1010) – the Vikings set sail for East Anglia. They landed at Ipswich, and promptly marched-off to engage an English force, that had been gathered from both East Anglia and Cambridgeshire, led by Ealdorman (?) Ulfcytel, at a site called Ringmere.* Battle was joined, but the East Anglian detachment are said to have soon fled – one Thurcytel Mare's-head being blamed for beginning the flight. The Cambridgeshire men held their ground, but, eventually, having suffered heavy losses, were overcome, and the Danes were victorious – the date was 5th May 1010.* After providing themselves with horses, the Vikings took control of East Anglia – spending three months ravaging the area:
“... ay even into the wild fens they went, and there slew men and cattle, and burned throughout the fens; and Thetford they burned, and Cambridge. And afterwards went again southward to the Thames; and the horsed men rode towards the ships; and then again quickly turned westward to Oxfordshire, and thence to Buckinghamshire, and so along the Ouse till they came to Bedford, and so forth as far as Tempsford, and ever burned as they went. Then went they again to their ships with their booty. And when they were travelling to their ships,+ then ought the force have again gone out to oppose them in case they should go inland; then the force went home. And when they were east, then was the force held west; and when they were south, then was our force north. Then were all the councillors summoned to the king, and they should then advise how this country could be defended. But though something was then resolved, it stood not even for a month. In the end there was not a chief man who would gather a force, but each fled as he best might; nor even in the end would any shire assist another. Then before St Andrew's mass-day [30th November], the army came to Northampton, and speedily burned that market-town [port], and thereabout as much as they themselves would;+ and thence went over the Thames into Wessex, and so by Cannings Marsh [Wiltshire], and burned all that. When they had gone as far as they would, they came at Midwinter to their ships.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C, D and E
Manuscripts C, D and E, s.a. 1011:
“In this year the king and his councillors sent to the army and desired peace, and promised them tribute and provisions, on condition that they would cease from their plundering. They had then overrun: 1st East Anglia, and 2nd Essex, and 3rd Middlesex, and 4th Oxfordshire, and 5th Cambridgeshire, and 6th Hertfordshire, and 7th Buckinghamshire, and 8th Bedfordshire, and 9th half of Huntingdonshire, and 10th much in Northamptonshire;+ and south of the Thames, all Kent, and Sussex, and Hastings, and Surrey, and Berkshire, and Hampshire, and much in Wiltshire. All these calamities befell us through unrædas [i.e. bad policies], in that tribute was not offered them in time, or they were not fought against;+ but when they had done the most evil, then peace and truce were made with them. And, nevertheless, for all this truce and tribute, they went everywhere in troops, and harried our miserable people, and robbed and slew them.+ And then, in this year, between the Nativity of St Mary [8th September] and St Michael's mass [29th September], they besieged Canterbury and entered it, through treacherous wiles, for Ælfmær betrayed it, whose life Archbishop Ælfheah had before saved. And they there took [captive] Archbishop Ælfheah, and Ælfweard the king's reeve, and Abbess Leofrun, and Bishop Godwine.* And Abbot Ælfmær they let go away; and they took there within all the men in orders [i.e. ecclesiastics], and men and women. It is not to be told to any man how many people there were. And afterwards they remained in the town as long as they would; and when they had searched all the town, they went to their ships, and led the archbishop with them....
.... Was then a captive he who was ere head of the English race, and of Christendom. There might then be misery seen, where oft before was seen bliss, in that poor town, whence came first Christendom and bliss before God and before the world.+ And they had the archbishop with them as long as to the time when they martyred him.”
During the Easter period of 1012 (Easter Sunday was 13th April), Eadric Streona, who by now had become senior-ranking ealdorman,* was in London overseeing the payment of 48,000 pounds to the Viking army, which, it later becomes apparent, was based at Greenwich. Ælfheah was, of course, still a prisoner.
“Then on the Saturday the army was greatly excited against the bishop [i.e. Ælfheah], because he would not promise them any money, but forbade that anything should be given for him....
They were also very drunken, for wine had been brought thither from the South. They then took the bishop, led him to their ‘husting’, on the Sunday eve [i.e. Saturday], the octaves of Easter, that was on the 13th of the Kalends of May [19th April];+ and there they then shamefully murdered him; they pelted him with bones and with ox-heads;+ and one of them then struck him on the head with the butt of an axe [i.e. the blunt end of an axe-head], so that with the blow he sank down, and his holy blood fell on the earth, and his holy soul he sent forth to God's kingdom....
.... And on the morrow the body was carried to London, and the bishops Eadnoth and Ælfhun and the townspeople received it with all reverence, and buried it in St Paul's minster.+ And there God now manifests the holy martyr's miracles.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C, D and E
Ælfheah's killing is also recorded, rather unexpectedly, by the German chronicler, Thietmar of Merseburg (d.1018).* He says (VII, 42–43) that the archbishop (“moved by human weakness”) had initially agreed to pay a ransom, but when the deadline set for him to make the payment arrived, he, having used the intervening period to prepare to meet his Maker, pleaded poverty. A group of Vikings surrounded him, and began collecting various weapons in order to kill him. Thorkell the Tall, who, it is implied, was a Christian, intervened – offering to give them all his possessions, except his ship, if they would spare the archbishop's life – but:
“The unbridled anger of his comrades, harder than iron or stone, was not softened by such gentle words, but it was appeased only by the shedding of innocent blood, which together they forthwith shed by the heads of oxen and showers of stones and a constant stream of blocks of wood.”
Given that Thorkell was seemingly at odds with some of his fellows, it comes as less of a surprise that, when the Vikings dispersed, having received their handsome payoff, Thorkell, with forty-five ships, remained behind and entered Æthelred's service:
“... and promised him that they would defend this country; and he was to feed and clothe them.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C, D and E
“... before the month August, came King Swein with his fleet to Sandwich; and went then very soon about East Anglia into the mouth of the Humber, and so upward along the Trent until he came to Gainsborough. And then straightways Earl Uhtred, and all the Northumbrians submitted to him, and all the people in Lindsey; and after that, the people in the Five Boroughs, and shortly afterwards all the army north of Watling Street; and hostages were given him from every shire.* After he understood that all the people were submissive to him, he commanded that his army should be victualled and horsed; and he then afterwards went southward with his full force, and committed the ships and the hostages to his son Cnut. And after he came over Watling Street, they wrought the greatest evil that any army could do. He then went to Oxford, and the townspeople immediately submitted and gave hostages; and thence to Winchester, and they did the same. Then he went thence eastward to London, and many of his people were drowned in the Thames, because they kept to no bridge. When he came to the town, the townspeople would not submit, but withstood with full war against him, because King Æthelred was therein, and Thorkell with him. Then went King Swein thence to Wallingford, and so over the Thames westward to Bath, and sat there with his force. And thither came Ealdorman Æthelmær, and the western thegns with him, and they all submitted to Swein, and gave him hostages.* When he had thus fared he went northward to his ships; and all the nation considered him then as full king. And after that the townspeople of London submitted and gave hostages; for they dreaded that he would destroy them. Swein then demanded full payment and provisions for his army during the winter; and Thorkell demanded the same for the army that lay at Greenwich; and for all that, they harried as often as they would.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts D, C and E
Æthelred sent his wife, Emma, and their sons, Edward and Alfred, to safety in Normandy, whilst he stayed with Thorkell at Greenwich. Leaving Thorkell, he spent the Christmas of 1013 on the Isle of Wight, and then joined Emma in Normandy. This was, however, not quite the end of Æthelred.
36 (xxxvi) thousand in Manuscripts C and D (and Florence of Worcester).
30 (xxx) thousand in Manuscript E (and, its abridged bilingual relative, Manuscript F).
Eadric's nickname and its meaning are first given by Hemming, a late-11th century Worcester monk: “In the time when Eadric, whose cognomen was Streona, that is adquisitor, first under King Æthelred, and afterwards for a while under Cnut, was set over the whole realm of the English, and held domain over it like an under-king, insomuch that he joined hamlets to villages and districts to districts at his will, for the county of Winchcombe, which then was independent, he joined to the County of Gloucester. He being possessed of so great power, by force and might stole from the possession of this monastery 3 villages in the time of Bishop Leofsige [1016–1033].” (‘Hemmings Cartulary’, British Library MS Cotton Tiberius A xiii. Translation by C.S. Taylor.)
Sir Frank Stenton: ‘Anglo-Saxon England’, Third Edition (1971), Chapter 11, p382 footnote 1.
Sir Frank says: “Eadric's notorious treasons in later life made him a person to whom mysterious crimes could safely be attributed, and the story told by Florence, which kills Ælfhelm during a hunting-party, does not inspire confidence.”
Incidentally, whilst he is dismissive of Florence's story, Sir Frank, in the main text of the same chapter, declares that William of Malmesbury's story about Gunnhild's death, in the St Brice's Day Massacre, is “a well-recorded tradition”. In contrast, Simon Keynes* suggests that: “William might have drawn inspiration here, as elsewhere, from his own imagination.”
* Simon Keynes: ‘The Massacre of St Brice's Day’, in ‘Beretning fra seksogtyvende tværfaglige vikingesymposium’ (2007).
The Old English cild equates to ‘child’ in modern English, but it is also used as an epithet that apparently denotes high status.
A ‘hide’ was a unit of assessment notionally equating to the amount of land required to support one household. According to the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, one warship (scegð) was to be produced per 310 hides, and “a helmet and corselet” per 8 hides.
Amongst the bequests made in the will (S1492) of Ælfwold, bishop of Crediton (who died between 1011 and 1015), to “his lord”, i.e. the king, is: “a 64-oared warship [scegð] – it is all ready except for the rowlocks; he would like to prepare it completely in a manner suitable for his lord, if God allows him.”
Highlighted words omitted in Manuscript C.
Highlighted phrase only in Manuscript C.
Florence does not use the vernacular title ‘earl’. Two terms commonly used by Latin-writers in lieu of both the English title ‘ealdorman’ and its Scandinavian equivalent ‘earl’, are dux and comes. In this case, Florence titles Thorkell comes, but Hemming and Eilaf duces (plural of dux).
The Latin dux is at the root of the later English title ‘duke’. The Latin comes is the source of the French title comte, Anglicized as ‘count’, a title that was not adopted in England (though ‘countess’ was – in the British peerage, an earl's wife is a countess).
The ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ does not name the site. Florence of Worcester says Ringmere (possibly Rymer Point, some 4½ miles south of Thetford), and this is substantiated by Scandinavian sources that say Ringmere Heath. For instance, in ‘Heimskringla’: “they had a great battle on Ringmere Heath in Ulfcytel's country. This realm was at that time ruled by Ulfcytel Snilling.” (‘Saga of Olaf Haraldsson’ Chapter 14). Ulfcytel's soubriquet, Snilling is usually translated as ‘the Bold’.
Ulfcytel's position is a little nebulous. ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C, D and E s.a. 1010, and also s.a. 1004 (at which time he had given ‘the army’ of Swein Forkbeard a run for its money outside Thetford), accord him no title, but on his death, in 1016, he is called “Ulfcytel of East Anglia”. Florence of Worcester, though, uses the Latin dux, i.e. ealdorman, to describe Ulfcytel s.a. 1010, and s.a. 1004 calls him: “ealdorman [dux] of the East Angles”. In the witness-lists of charters, however, he features as only a thegn (minister).
According to the Supplement to the ‘Jómsvíkinga Saga’ preserved in the late-14th century Flateyjarbók, Ulfcytel Snilling was married to a daughter of King Æthelred's called Wulfhild.
Florence of Worcester notes that Thurcytel Mare's-head (Old English Myranheafod) was, as if it explained his behaviour, “a Danish thegn [minister]”. However, the leader of the English force, Ulfcytel, was, his name suggests, also of Danish extraction. (Incidentally, Henry of Huntingdon renders Thurcytel's soubriquet ‘Ant-head’.)
In the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, the battle is said to have occurred on Ascension Day, which was the 18th of May in 1010. Florence of Worcester, however, dates it to the “3rd of the Nones of May”, i.e. the 5th of May. Florence would appear to be correct, since the obit of one of the victims of the battle, Oswig – “a noble thegn [minister]”, says Florence – appears in a late-12th century, Ely, calendar (Trinity College Cambridge MS O.2.1) under that date.
Manuscripts C and D: “were travelling”.
Manuscript E: “were dispersing”.
In Manuscript E the highlighted phrase reads: “and seized thereabout as much as they themselves would”.
10th item in list, highlighted, omitted in Manuscript E. The numeral x (10), however, is attached to item 9 (ix).
Highlighted phrase only in Manuscript C.
Highlighted section as in Manuscript C.
Manuscript D: “then truce and peace were made with them. And, nevertheless, for all this truce and tribute, they went everywhere in troops, and harried, and robbed [rypton] and slew our miserable people.”
Manuscript E: “then truce and peace were made with them. And, nevertheless, for all this truce and peace and tribute, they went everywhere in troops, and harried, and captured [ræpton] and slew our miserable people.”
Ælfheah, previously bishop of Winchester, had become archbishop of Canterbury in 1006. Leofrun was abbess of Minster in Thanet, and Godwine was bishop of Rochester. In fact, Manuscript E (and F), wrongly, have Abbot Leofwine instead of Abbess Leofrun.
This is a poetic passage – a “quasi-poem” is what Charles Plummer calls it (‘Two of the Saxon Chronicles Parallel’, 1892).
Manuscripts D and E add “to us” in this phrase, to give: “whence to us came first”. Manuscript E omits “oft”.
An ealdorman's seniority is indicated by his position in the witness-list of the king's charters. In a charter of 1009 (S922) Eadric is third of the four ealdormen in the list. For 1010 and 1011 there is no information, but from 1012 onwards Eadric is consistently first.
Also in 1012, recorded by Welsh annals, Eadric, in the company of another ‘Saxon’ (whose name is rendered as Ubis and Ubrich), for reasons which aren't recorded, ravaged St Davids, in south-west Wales. Now, it so happens that Geffrei Gaimar alleges Æthelred had an older brother, Edmund, who thought he should be king, and was intent on taking the crown by conquest:
“The Welsh were his [Edmund's] friends,
For his wife was of their country.
She was daughter of a king of the land.
With him they kept up the war.” (lines 4109–4112)
Æthelred did indeed have an older brother called Edmund, but he was dead by the time Æthelred became king. Clearly, there is confusion in Gaimar's story, but it need not be a total fabrication.
Manuscripts C and D have “eight and forty thousand”; Florence of Worcester has “48 [xlviii] thousand”; but Manuscripts E and F, presumably as the result of a scribal slip-up in their common ancestor, have “8 [viii] thousand”.
Highlighted date clarification not in Manuscript E.
Highlighted section in Manuscript C only.
Manuscripts C and D as highlighted.
Manuscript E: “And the bishops Eadnoth and Ælfhun and the townspeople received the holy body on the morrow, and carried it to London with all reverence”.
Eadnoth, bishop of Dorchester (on Thames).
Ælfhun, bishop of London.
Thietmar believed his source, one Sewald, to be reliable, however, since Archbishop Ælfheah is erroneously called Dunstan (who died in 988), his reliability is immediately rendered somewhat suspect. Nevertheless, Thietmar's account was composed within six years of Ælfheah's death, and it does sit comfortably with the events.
Incidentally, in the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ report it is not clear if the first Saturday mentioned (when “the army was greatly excited against the bishop”) is the same Saturday on which Ælfheah was killed. Florence, following Osbern's lead, says that the first mentioned was Holy Saturday (12th April in 1012), and that the Vikings “put off killing him” until the next Saturday (19th April).
Florence is, in fact, quoting directly from a Latin ‘Life’ of St Ælfheah (archbishop of Canterbury 1006–1012), written in the 1080s by Osbern of Canterbury.
Florence of Worcester, it may be recalled, says that, in 1009, Thorkell's fleet, which was already in England, was joined by another fleet, commanded by Hemming and Eilaf. It doesn't seem unreasonable to suppose that this Hemming, who is never mentioned again, was Thorkell's brother.
Another of Osbern's fights of fancy, not repeated by Florence of Worcester, places Eadric Streona, allied with the Vikings, at Canterbury. In this story, Eadric demands that King Æthelred punish some Kentish noblemen who have killed his (Eadric's) brother. The king refuses, saying that this unnamed brother got what he deserved. Eadric raises an army of ten thousand men, and sets out to take his own revenge on Kent. He makes little headway, however, and decides to seek an alliance with the Danes (whose chief, Osbern had previously mentioned, was Thorkell). Eadric proposes that they should together conquer, not just Kent, but the whole country, and divide it between them. The Danes agree to Eadric's plan, and their combined forces make a start by attacking Canterbury. Eadric then disappears from Osbern's narrative.
The Five Boroughs: Lincoln, Nottingham, Derby, Leicester and Stamford.
In this context, by “the army”, Scandinavian settlers, not a Viking army, are meant.
The territories submitting to Swein were dominated by settlers of Scandinavian descent, and are known collectively as the ‘Danelaw’ – the origins of which predate Swein's arrival here by over a century.
See: The Treaty of Alfred and Guthrum.
Florence of Worcester calls Æthelmær “ealdorman of Devon” (Domnaniae comes), but his jurisdiction was evidently bigger than that. Æthelmær was, almost certainly, the son of Æthelweard (the chronicler), who, in a charter of 997 (S891) is titled “ealdorman of the Western Shires” (Occidentalium Prouinciarum dux).
A burh (dative: byrig) is a fortified site; often, as in this case, a town (it is the source of the modern word ‘borough’, and the ...borough, ...burgh and ...bury endings of place-names), but not necessarily so.
burhwaru – inhabitants of a burh.
Florence, writing in Latin, uses the term dux in lieu of the vernacular title ‘ealdorman’ to describe Ælfhelm.
The Latin title dux later found its way directly into English usage, via the French duc, to become ‘duke’. (King Edward III made the Black Prince the first English duke, the duke of Cornwall, in 1337.)
s.a. = sub anno = ‘under the year’.
‘Gesta Regum Anglorum’ (Deeds of the Kings of England).
Wulfstan wrote this sermon under his Latin pseudonym Lupus (Wolf) – though the work itself is written in Old English. Wulfstan was bishop of London from 996 to 1002, then archbishop of York from 1002 until his death in 1023. (The bishopric of Worcester was held, simultaneously, by the archbishop of York between 971 and 1016).
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.
A collection of sagas chronicling the kings of Norway, written in Old Norse, by Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson, c.1230.
Anglo-Norman chronicler Geffrei Gaimar wrote his ‘L'Estoire des Engleis’ (History of the English), for a Lincolnshire patroness, in about 1136–37. The earliest known historical work to have been written in the French language, it is based on a now lost version of the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’, and is in verse (actually, octosyllabic rhymed couplets).