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BR 7A6 .C58 v. 2: 1

The Church historians of

















The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle 1

The Chronicle op Florence of Worcester 169

Coutinuation of the Chronicle of Florence of Worcester 336

Appendix to Florence of Worcester —

The Names of the Archbishoi^s and Bishops of England —

Kent.— The Naraes of the Archbishops of the Church of Can-
terbury 373

The Names of the Bishops of the Church of Rochester ib.

East Saxony. — The Names of the Bishops of the Church of London . 374

Fast Anylki. — The Names of the Bishoi^s of the East Angles . . . ib.

The Names of the Bishops of Elmham ib.

The Names of the Bishops of Dunwich ib.

South Saxony. — The Names of the Bishops of the South Saxons . . . 875

The Names of the Bishops of the Church of Selsey . ib.

The Names of the Bishops of the Church of Chichester ib.

West Saxony. — The Names of the Bishops of the Chui-ch of Dorchester 37G

The Names of the Bishops of the Church of Winchester ib.

The Names of the Bishops of the Church of Sunning . 377

The Names of the Bishoj^s of the Church of Sherborne ih.

The Names of the Bishops of the Church of AVells . . ib.

The Names of the Bishops of the Church of Crediton . 378

Hccana. — The Names of the Bishops of the Magesetas, or people

of Herefordshire ib.

Huiccia. — How the Episcopal See came to be placed at Worcester il>.

The Names of the Bishops of the Hwiccias 379

Mercia. — The Names of the Bishops of Lichfield 3S0

Mid-Anglia. — The Names of the Bishops of Leicester 381

Lindsey. — The Names of the Bishops of the Lindisfari .... ib.

Deira. — The Names of the Archbishops and Bishops of the

Northumbrians 382

The Names of the Archbishops of York ib.

The Name of the Bishop of Ripon 383

The Names of the Bishops of Hexham ih.

Bernicia. — The Names of the Bishops of Lindisfarne ib.

The Territory of tU Plcts.— The Names of the Bishops of Whitherne . ib


The Genealogy of the Augles —

The Genealogy of the Kings of the Kentish Peoi)le 384

The Genealogy of the Kings of the East Angles 385

The Genealogy of the Kings of the East Saxons 386

The Genealogy of the Kings of the Mercians 387

The Genealogy of the Kings of the Lindisfari 388

The Genealogy of the Kings of the Northumbrians 389

The Genealogy of the Kings of the West Saxons 891

The Genealogy of the Kentish Kings 392

The Origin of the Kingdom of the Kings of the East Angles .... 393

East Saxony 394

Mercia 395

The Origin of the Kingdom of the Kings of the Beruieii 397

The Commencement of the Kingdom of the Kings of the Deiri . . . ib.

The Genealogy of the Kings of the ^Ye3t Saxons 400

Concerning the Kentish Kingdom 4u2

ConcernLng the West Saxon Kingdom 4n:i

Concerning the Mercian Kingdom ih.

Concerning the East Anglian Kingdom ib.

Concerning the East Saxon Kingdom ib.

Concerning the Northumbrian Kingdom ih.

Concerning the Archbishops of Canterbury and York 4 04

Concerning the Bishops' Seats in the Council lb.



§ 1 . This first portion of the second volume contains two histo-
rical documents of considerable value, the Saxon Chronicle and the
Chronicle of Florence of Worcester, with its Continuation and
Appendices ; upon each of which it is necessary for us to make a
few observations.

§ 2. Inferior, perhaps, in general importance to the Ecclesiastical
History of the Venerable Beda, yet possessing an interest which is
in some respects superior to that document, is the Saxon Chronicle.
Each of these two great authorities has its own distinct value. The
former claims to itself a more remote antiquity ; it exhibits a
regular continuity of narrative, and a systematic attempt to present
a connected history of the introduction of Christianity into England,
and its progress up to the time at which its author wrote — none of
which characteristics belong to the Saxon Chronicle. Its author-
ship, too, is an undisputed fact. We know when, where, and by
whom it was written ; and we can trace with remarkable pre-
cision the materials out of which Beda constructed his narrative.
And it has been transmitted to us in a degree of completeness and
purity which enables us to decide that we have it nearly as it was
left by its venerable author.

§ 3. But with the Saxon Chronicle the case is widely different.
We are left in some uncertainty as to almost every question con-
nected with its date, its origin, its progress, and its component parts ;
and the consequence naturally is, that its value is hereby seriously
affected. We very rarely can affirm that the statements which it
makes are those of a contemporary ; we can only say that such is
probably the case. It has come down to us through various MSS.,
each of which is in some degree independent of the other ; while
all of them exhibit sufficient uniformity of structure and language
to lead to the conviction that they must have proceeded from a
common original. We have to regret that this prototype of the
Saxon Chronicle has not reached us ; for, could it be recovered,
the results to be derived from its examination would be most
important. In its absence, however, we must endeavour to satisfy
ourselves by throwing together the few inferences which may be
gleaned from an inquiry into the condition of the existing copies — •
citing them by the designations which they respectively bear in the
notes and various readings to the present edition.

§ 4. A. In many respects this is one of the most important
copies which has come down to our times. It is preserved in the


Library of Corpus Christi College at Cambridge, having formed a
portion of the valuable collections of Archbishop Parker which he
presented to that society. It is now numbered clxxiii. It is written
upon vellum, in double columns, as far as a.d. 417, at folio 9 ; but
after that date, in a single column. It extends from the time of
Julius Cresar to the year 1070. The original handwriting ends witli
the year 891 ; and from that point onwards the entries have been
made from time to time by a variety of scribes, specimens of whose
writing may be seen in plates xxiii. and xxiv. of Petrie and Hardy's
Monumenta Historica. From the fact of the first portion of this
copy exhibiting some philological peculiarities which indicate a modi-
fied Anglian dialect, we may assume that it had its origin in the
kingdom of Mercia, although, at the same time, its earlier entries
relate chiefly to incidents which have no exclusive connexion with
that kingdom. An alteration in the range of its information takes
place about a.d. 806, after which date it becomes much more
general. Many passages have been inserted from a copy correspond-
ing with MS. E, and in several places it agrees closely with that
marked G. Its uniformity with C in some points is also worthy
of notice.

§ 5. B. The Cottonian MS., Tiberius A. vi., in small folio.
It suffered slightly in the disastrous fire of October, 1731. Appa-
rently it represents a copy which was compiled in the year 977, to
which period it extends from the incarnation of our Lord. It is
written in one uniform hand, which may be referred to about the
latter half of the tenth century, and of which a specimen is given
in Petrie and Hardy's volume, plate xxii. It is faulty (or, perhaps,
imperfect), by frequently omitting dates at the beginning of its
narrative of the respective years to which they refer. As far as the
year 918 it agrees very closely with MS. G, as represented by
Whelock's edition ; from that point to 934 there is a considerable
variation between these two texts ; but the similarity is again j)er-
ceptible from 934 to 977, where B ends. It has many points of
correspondence with MS. C, and these so minute as to argue either
a common origin, or that one has been constructed upon, or at least
influenced by, the othor. It is interesting as embodying what
appears to have been an independent Mercian Chronicle, having for
its object a narrative of the exploits of the lady Aethelfled.

§ 6. C. This copy is likewise one of the Cottonian MSS., being
distinguished by the press-mark, Tiberius B. i. Before it became
the property of Sir Robert Cotton it belonged to Bowser, the
Keeper of the Records in the Tower of London. Like its prede-
cessors, it is written upon vellum, in folio. It extends from the
invasion of Julius Cix'sar to a.d. lOGG, the original scribe carrying
it on from the beginning to 1047. Various hands have been
employed upon it from that ])()int to its conclusion. A fac simile
of the writing may be seen in l-*etrie and Hardy, ])latc xxi. There is
a marked degree of similarity between this copy and B, as fai as the
latter extends (that is, to a.d. 977), with this diHerence, however,
that in the present cojiy the chronology is complete ; after this date
it coincides with D, E, and F, to the end of the year 1050, from


which point to 1065 it is blank. It ends with a narrative of the
exploits of the Danish soldier at Stamford bridge, in 1066 ; but
this portion has been added by a hand of the twelfth century.

§ 7. D- The Cottonian MS., Tiberius B. iv., a folio volume,
written upon vellum, extending from the Incarnation of our Lord
to the year 1079. The original hand carries the narrative on to
1016, after which several scribes have been occupied upon its
continuation. A specimen of the writing of the earlier portion
of this copy is given by Petrie and Hardy, in plate xx. of the
work already cited. Sometimes (though neither so frequently nor
so decidedly as E) it gives indications of a northern influence,
touching upon the affairs of Northumbria or Mercia, respecting
which A, B, and C are either silent or comparatively uninformed,
and this chiefly about the middle of the tenth century. In one
place the writer speaks of himself as an inhabitant of the earldom
of earl Siward, which he calls "this north end," (a.d. 1052 ;) now
we know that Siward obtained possession of the earldom of
Northumbria, extending from the Humber to the Tweed. ^ Its
compiler appears to have had before him two texts, of which the
chronology did not exactly correspond ; and in order to remove
the difticulty thus occasioned, he has, in several instances, intro-
duced the same entry under two difterent years. The continuation,
after 1016, bears internal evidence of being, in some places, the
work of a contemporary. Thus, in the year 1036, the annalist
does not venture to speak openly of earl Godwine and his party,
but contents himself with designating them as " those persons who
have much power in the land." It is also worthy of notice that
during this period the year commences with Easter, contrary to the
usual mode of Anglo-Saxon reckoning ; thereby strengthening the
presumption that we have here the narrative of a Contemporary

§ 8. E. The Bodleian MS. 636 (formerly known as E. 80, and
as such quoted by Ingram), written upon vellum, in quarto, extends
from the Incarnation of our Lord to 1154. As far as a.d. 476 it
is written in double columns, afterwards in single. It appears to
have been transcribed as far as 1122 by a contemporary scribe,
from which date to the end various hands are perceptible. The
latter portion is much defaced, and at least one leaf, possibly more,
is lost at the end. Between the years 891 and 975 its information
is very scanty ; several years being blank. Its connexion with copies
resembling A, C, D, and F can be traced. It frequently agrees
with D in cases where these two texts deviate from F. It exhibits
jiroofs of a Northumbrian origin, speaking of " our royal families,"
(a.d. 449,) as distinguished from " those of the South-humbrians;"
inserting passages which relate to the history of that kingdom and
the pedigree of its sovereigns, and omitting events which have
reference to Mercia and Wessex, although introduced into other
copies. It is open to inquiry, however, how far these passages are
to be accepted as of primary authority.

' Simeon Dunelm. ap. Petrie aud Hardy, p. CS7. Dugd. Baron, i. 4.


§ 9. This text of the Chronicle, as we now have it, was reduced
to its present shape by the monks of Peterborough, to whom we
are indebted for the local information given, a.d. 665, 657, 675,
686, 777, 852, 963, &c. In the latter portion of this manuscript
we find a succession of proofs indicating contemporaneous author-
ship. In one place an expression points to Edward the Confessor as
being on tlie throne when it was penned (a.d. 1041). In another
the author gives a minute and graphic description of William the
Conqueror from personal observation (a.d. 1087). A pious ejacula-
tion for the welfare of Ernost, bishop of Rochester, upon his acces-
sion to that dignity in 1114, shows that the passage in which it
occurs must probably have been written at the time, certainly before
his death in 1124. A sentence which may be seen at the end of
the year 1127, proves that the writer when he penned it was
ignorant of the issue of a transaction, which however he presently
enters, as concluded in 1128. This portion of the Chronicle bears
indisputable marks of a contemporary hand on every page ; the
hopes and fears, affections and antipathies of the writer being all
distinctly recorded. It was not reduced to its present form, however,
until after the death of king Stephen, whose reign is mentioned
as having extended to nineteen years (a.d. 1137). Again, abbot
Martin is spoken of as dead when the narrative assumed its present
form, an event which we know did not occur until a.d. 1155.^
The writer or writers, whoever they were, seem to have been well
informed upon the transactions of the period, and at the same time
cautious in introducing statements, of the veracity of which they
had not reasonable evidence. In one place (a.d. 1106) they say,
speaking of some strange appearances in the sky, " But we do not
write more fully about it, because we saw it not ourselves." Upon
another occasion they express themselves with a degree of indepen-
dence of thought upon tlie delicate subject of the venality of the
court of Rome, which shows them to have been men who would
not scruple honestly to express their convictions. Upon the whole,
we may perhaps consider this manuscript as the most valuable copy
of the Saxon Chronicle.

§ 10. F. The Ci-.ttonian MS., Domitian A. vii., written in
quarto or octavo, upon vellum, in a continuous hand of the latter
end of the eleventh, or beginning of the twelfth centur)', and
extending from the Incarnation of our Lord to 1056. It is much
mutilated towards the end, and concludes abruptly : in its complete
state it probably extended considerably further. It frequently
betrays its Kentish origin, and appears to have belonged to Christ
Church, Canterbuiy, within the walls of which it was probably
compiled. (See a.d. 694, 796, 797, 995.) Some of these Kentish
additions occur in the margin of the manuscript, having been
added after the period of its first transcription. (See a.d. 870.)
Its correspondence with D and E is frequent and remai'kable.
This uniformity holds good more particularly up to 891, from
which date to 975 the entries are few and unimportant. It also

' See Chron. Petroburgeuse, p. 2 ; ed. Camden Society : aud another Chronicle
bearing the same title, edited by Dr. Giles, p. 97.


contains a Latin version of the Saxon, which, however, in some
particulars appears to be rather an independent narrative than a
mere translation.

§ 11. G. The Cottonian'MS. Otho B. xi., written upon vellum,
in small folio, but now a mere fragment, only three damaged leaves
remaining. A fac-simile of two of these pages, in their present
mutilated condition, may be seen in Petrie and Hardy's volume,
plates xviii. and xix. These extend from 837 to 871. We have
the less cause, however, to regret the loss of this manuscript, since
it is accurately represented in the edition of Whelock (concerning
which see § 17), of which it forms the basis ; and a comparison of
his text with the remaining fragments proves that his transcript
from it, made when it was perfect, was executed with care and
fidelity. Another transcript, by Lambard, is preserved among
Ussher's manuscripts at Dublin. This MS. extends from the in-
vasion of Julius Caesar to 1001. Several peculiarities seem to
point at a West-Saxon influence ; but upon this head it is necessary
to speak with considerable hesitation.

§ 12. Such, then, being the condition in which the Saxon
Chronicle has come down to us, as exhibited in existing copies,
three questions now appear to arise for our consideration.

i. The first is, " What light does history throw upon this diffi-

ii. " Does it ascribe the authorship of the Chronicle to any
locality, or to any period of time, or to any individual ? "

iii. " To what results are we led by a comparison of this external
evidence, when taken in connexion with the inferences furnished
by the manuscript copies themselves?"

§ 13. To each of these questions the attention of the reader is
now invited.

i. That our early historians were acquainted with a book of
annals written in the vernacular tongue, which was substantially
the same as the Saxon Chronicle, admits of no doubt. It is re-
ferred to by Florence of Worcester (a.d. 672, 674, 734) and
William of Malmesbuiy (Prol. in GestaRegum), besides having been
translated, to a large extent, by Ethelward, Asser, and others. In
some places the translation is so sei-vile that the Saxon idioms are
preserved, and even the errors of the original are retained. We
are justified, therefore, in believing that when these Latin historians
speak of a Saxon Chronicle, they mean that Saxon Chronicle with
which we are acquainted, and no other.

§ 14. ii. The authorship of this Chronicle is ascribed to king
Alfred, but upon evidence to which the greatest weight cannot be
awarded. The earliest writer who can be adduced for this state-
ment is Gaimar, who wrote in the middle of the twelfth century.
Speaking of this monarch, he says, —

" II fist escrivere un livre Engleis,
Des aventures, e des leis,
E de batailles de la terre,
E des reis ki firent la guere." — line 3i51.


§ 15. iii. Let us see if the hint thus furnished us by Gaimar
can be made to coincide with the internal evidence supphed by the
Saxon Chronicle itself.

It is by no means improbable that Alfred, a prince earnestly
devoted to literature, should write, or cause to be written, a chronicle
narrating the leading events of the history of his own country. That
he should do this in the Saxon language, if he did it at all, is no
less probable, when we remember that for the sake of extending
our national literature he translated some of the writings of Gregory,
Beda, Orosius, and Boethius into his mother tongue. The structure
of the existing copies of the Chronicle favours the presumption
thus raised. From the commencement of that document until the
year 851, it exhibits all the appearances of a compilation; but
from that period to 891 it assumes a more regular form, the nar-
rative is more detailed, and it has every mark of a contemporaneous
history. Again, from the year 891 onwards, the character of flic
document changes for the worse ; its entries are less frequent and
its information less valuable. These extreme dates of 851 and 891
limit, with tolerable accuracy, the period of Alfred's life.

§ 16, These considerations lead to the probable conclusion that
the Saxon Chronicle — in its conception, if not in its execution — ■
originated with king Alfred. We may further conjecture that,
about the year 891, he sent a copy of it to each of the cathedral
churches, or larger monasteries ; a supposition which will not be
considered extravagant, when we remember that he assuredly did
so in the case of his translation of the Pastorale of Pope Gregory,
the copies of which, transmitted by him to Canterbury, Wor-
cester, and Sherborne, are yet extant. In these several monas-
teries, in which Alfred placed copies of our annals, we conjecture
that the narrative was continued ; and that the existing copies are
framed from various combinations of these several manuscripts.
The Editor is not aware that any more probable solution of the
question as to the origin of the Saxon Chronicle has been offered ;
and he believes that this meets all the requirements of the case,
leaving no essential feature in the inquiry without a probable

§ 17. Four editions of the Saxon Chronicle have been pul)lishcd.

The first is due to Al)raham Whelock, the professor of xVrabic
and Anglo-Saxon at Cambridge. It forms a portion of the sup-
plemental matter appended to his edition of Beda, which appeared
in folio at Cambridge in 1044. This edition is not witiiout its
value, even at the present time, since it is based upon the destroyed
Cottonian MS., Otho B. xi. (see § 11), which we have reason to
believe it represents, with a commendable degree of accuracy.
Whelock also used our MS. A, of the value of which he does not
appear to have been fully sensible.

§ 18. In 1(392, Edmund Gibson, afterwards bishop of London,
gave an improved edition of the Chronicle, having corrected
Whelock's text by the aid of three important manuscripts, none of
which had l)oen omplovcd by that editor. These are the copies
B K. and A'nf our li>l.'


§ 19. Gibson's edition, in its turn, was superseded by that
published in 1823, by the late Dr. Ingram, at that time President of
Trinity College, Oxford. Ingram used all the existing manuscripts.
This edition (though now valueless as far as the year 1066) still
maintains its place in public estimation, since, from the date of
the Norman Conquest to the year 1154, at which the Chronicle
ends, we have no more satisfactory text than that which is here

§ 20. In 1848 appeared the first volume of the " Materials for
the History of Britain," prepared by the late Mr. Petrie, and
edited by Mr. Hardy. In accordance with Mr. Petrie's plan, this
volume contains the Saxon Chronicle no further than the Norman
Conquest. The text is entirely reconstructed, being based upon
the earliest existing MS., that, namely, which we have designated
as A, interwoven with which, however, are the additions furnished
by the other copies. From the year 891, at which the text of
MS. A ends, the narrative is framed from a comparison of all
the surviving transcripts. It is accompanied by an English trans-
lation, which adheres, as closely as our modern language will admit,
to the structure and idiom of the original.

§21. With the exception of a few unimportant corrections, the
English version of the earlier portion of the Saxon Chronicle which
is contained in this present volume, is a reprint of that which was
published in 1848 by Mr. Petrie. Tlie proprietors of the present
series of English Historians are indebted to the Lords of Her
Majesty's Treasury for permission to avail themselves of the result
of Mr. Petrie's labours, as far as this document is concerned. It
will be remembered, however, [§ 20,] that this translation extends
no further than the year 1066. From that date, to the end of the
work in 1154, a new translation has been prepared, and for this
the Editor is responsible. It will be found to differ, in many
instances, from the version furnished by Dr. Ingram. The text,
moreover, has occasionally been corrected by a collation with the
Laud MS. E. [§ 8.]

The Editor cannot conclude his observations upon the Saxon
Chronicle without expressing his regret that we are still unprovided
with a satisfactory critical edition of the whole of these Annals,
forming, as they assuredly do, one of the most interesting and
valuable remnants of our early national literature.

Leighton Buzzard,

lltJi November, 1853.

Online LibraryJoseph StevensonThe Church historians of England : Pre-Reformation period (Volume 2, p1) → online text (page 1 of 53)