Polydore Vergil.

Polydore Vergil's English history, from an early translation preserved among the mss. of the old royal library in the British museum online

. (page 14 of 30)
Online LibraryPolydore VergilPolydore Vergil's English history, from an early translation preserved among the mss. of the old royal library in the British museum → online text (page 14 of 30)
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selfe, Edbertus, Ethelbertus, and Alricus, whoe reigned most
prosperuslie after himme. Tlie kinges which folowed after these
didde so degenerat from there predecessors, and weare soe drowned
in sluggishenes and impudencie that this onlie worthie the memo-
rie I have to say of them, that throughe their verie supine idelnes
the Kentishe meun weare browght under the dominion of the
westeme people. There names weare these which ensewe ; first
Edbertus, or Edelbertus, whoe, geevinge greater attemptes on There
the people named Mercij then was fittinge to his power, was ap- donations
prehended and bownde of them, and, after beinge releaced, cowlde *J« *»«"-
not bee receaved of his owne yassailes, they made so small pressed,
accounte of himme ; it is incertaine what was his finall ende : in all
he reigned but ij. years. The next wear, Cuthredus, Baldredus,
and Ethewelphus, whoe was the xviij. and laste in the discours of
these kings, for, being taken prisoner of Egbertus, kinge of the
weste partes, yealded uppe his large dominion to the conquerer.
Somm have lefte in writinge that hee escaped, and after ledd a pri-
vate life. Thus was the kingdom of Kente united to the west
Saxons. The time of the reigne.in Kente unto the losse of their
libertie, from the time of Hengistus, was aboute ccclxiij. years.

The second kingdom was of the Sowthe Saxons, which tooke the
originall of the Saxon EUa the xxxi. yeare after the arrivall of the
Englishemenn in the He; for hee, whilest the Britons weare
tossed with divers and variable waves of battayle, bie littell and
littell engroched on the sowthe partes of the He; there ordering
his kingdom, and levinge it to his posteritee, who weare for this
cause termed Sowthe Saxons, biecause the south winde, blowinge
owt of the southe, hadde full recours throwghe there contrie. But
there reigned verie fewe kinges, for as it beganne soone, soe it en-
dewred not longe, for as muche as they, being trodden downe in
civile dissention, did first of all enter under the dominion and
appellation of the West Saxons. The greatest parte of men sur-
mise that those weare the bowndes of their imperie, wherin at this
day the dioceses of Winchestre and Chichester are limited. After

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138 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

Ella ther ensewed but onlie iiij. kings^ Sisca, Ethelvalchius, Bera*
tiuSj and Aldinus, whome Inas, the westeme kinge^ deprived bothe
of life and kingdom^ as herafter more plaine declaration shall bee
made.

The third kingdom was of the Est Angles, or Englishmen^ bie
cause they inhabited that parte of the He which bowndeth est-
warde; havinge therbi there denomination; which space at this
daye is comprehended in the dioceses of Norwiche and Elye,
beinge devided into three sheeres, that is to weete, Sowthefolke^
Norffolke, and Cambrigeshier. Of these Ufia was the firste kinge,
after whome shortele ensewed TituUus and Redovaldus; diis
mann being excellent in martiall prowes, achieved a luckie battayle
againste Ethelfredus kinge of Northe Humberlande, as in an
other place wee will declare in the life of Ethelfredus himselfe^
(restoringe that kingdom to one Edwinus^ a young&man of goodlye
disposition,) and receaved the Christian relligion after his renowne
gotten in warfare^ that he mighte semblabie bee as well beloved of
Godde as redowbted of menne. But, alas ! hee profited not longe
in this good purpose, for, beinge invegled with the wicked devises
of his wife, a moste importunate and ungodlie creature, he re-
nounced Christe, and so, within shorte time dienge, fell into the
societee of the blacke Goddes. Next unto him succeeded his
«onne Carpwaldus, by instinct of nature verie well disposed, for
at the first, beinge baptised, hee beegan to leade an hollie lyfe ;
but the line thereof was soone cutte in sender bie the unmerdfull
treason of malicius menne. Then didde Sigibertus obteine the
kingdom, as brother unto Carpwaldus bie the mother's side, and
fifite from Uffa, whoe with all celeritee embraced the Christian
faythe, wonderuslie amplifienge the same in his dominion. This
wise prince, knowing nothinge to bee so comlie an ornament to
menne as leaminge, and that there was great defecte and scarcitee
thereof in his riolme, sumwhat the more bie the exortacions of
Bisshoppe Felix, a Burgonion bome^ and a verie skilfull manne^
hee fownded schooles eche wheare in his kingdom, and especiallie



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THE FOURTH BOOK. 139

at Cambrige, that children there from there verie childehoode
mighte reoeave erudition, wherebie in shorte time theye becamme
singoler learned menne; and from that time the oniversitee of
Cambridge oontinuallie flowrished in the gooddlie knowlege of all
disciplines and sciences ; wherefore Englonde, in that it hathe all-
ways hadd afterwarde learned menn, it is moste beholdinge and
cheeflie it hathe to thanck Sigibertus, as himme whoe layde the
£rst fowndadon of all goodd litterature, which was donne the
Dcxxx. yeare of our Salvation. Sigibertus beganne now to bee of
greate yeares, and so mutche the more studiuslie still to muse with
himseUe how harde a thinge it was soe to goveme a common
welthe as it beehooved a goodd prince; wherfor in fine he resolved
to leade a private life in the residue of his dayse, wherfor, surren-
dringe the administration to his coosine Egricus, hee cowched
him selfe in an abbay. But within shorte time after, when as
Penda, a moste tyrannicall kinge of the Mercians, didde sore anoy
Egricus in warrs, Sigibertus, to assiste and releeve his owlde peo-
ple, was constreyned to com forthe of the relligius howse; yet,
leaste hee might seeme unmindefull of relligion and former pre-
tence, carienge a wande insteade of a scepter, and havinge noe
other armor but his sworde, hee entred the skermish, there re-
oeavinge his deathe with Edricus, and allmoste the whole armie.
Thus this sincere mann, incowntering with Godd's adversarie,
semethe as a martir to have loste his life. The next king was
Annas, being the vij. from Uffit, whome Penda likewise with wea-
pons browght to his bale* Then ensewed Ethelberius, Ethelbal-
dus, Aldulphus, Elwoldus, Beomas, Ethelredus, and Ethelbertus,
being the xiiij. in the order of kinges from Uffa. This manne
from his tender age was soe fostered and trsdned of his father
Ethelredus that, being at defiance with vicious demaynor, didd
ovmlie cleave to the ingenius exercise of goodd artes. Manie, as
well his deades as suenges, may suffice for proofe, in that he was
suche a prince that none coulde bee mor industrius, or more
acceptable in all respects ; none more indewed with humanitee



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140 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

or popular humilitee, whoe was accustomed to have this per*
petuallie in his mowthe : that it beseemed all menn^ the greater
and mightier thei weare^ to be so much the mor humble and
affable, bie cause, quod hee^ the Liorde hathe throwne doune the
mightie, and hathe exalted the meeke harted. Beesides this hee
exercised the studdie of wisdom^ not so muche in woordes as in
sobrietie of manners and continence of life. Bie these vertewse did
he quicklie allure to him the benevolence and loove of all sortes,
and for bie cause he hadd allreadie brideled his affections^ he fullie
determined not to make effeminat and weaken his boddie bie the
companie of women, for the which cause heeernestlie refused mar-
iage. But contrarie wise hee hadde vehement instigation of his coun-
cellers to provide better for his posteritee, and the rather there-
fore to marrie. At the lengthe the matter being putt into the
handdes of the cowncell, hee being but one, was dissuaded bie
them all, in so mutche Alfreda, the dowghter of OfiiEt, king of the
Mercians, was empromised him to espouse. This moste jentil
prince, who liked well the loove of all men, beinge desierus to
comm in greater favor with his father in lawe, wente him selfe to
bringe home this mayden, whoe as hee wente was feared with
manie straunge things, and suche wonderus tokens as semed to
portende som infortunate ende of his Ufe; for when he tooke
horsse the earthe in appearaunce trembled under his feete ; and
while he jornied in the middest of the day hee was soe beeset
with a clowde that for a season hee sawe nothinge ; and, finallie,
in his dreame it appered to hime that the chefe toppe and pinnacle
of his pallace fell sodaynlie to the earthe. With these portentius
thinges albeit he was feared (for, indeed, well he might be
astonied,) yeat, fearing noe deceite, as a manne that measured all
menu's usage bie his owne, went forward on his waye. Offa
entertayned this noble impe civilie, but his wife, whose name was
Quendreda, a wight more wilie then piteus or goddlie, nothing
moved with loove, but of audacitee suflScient to attempt enie hainus
enterprise, wente abowte to persuade with her husbande that he



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THB FOURTH BOOK. 141

showld muriher Ethelbertus, and^ consequentlie^ season on the
whole dominion of the Est Angles. The kinge at the first abhorred
snche a crime^ bkminge greathe his wife; nevertheles at the lengthe,
at the importunate sute and steme behavior of this wooman^ hee
was clene turned, and agreethe to this blooddie facte. The busines
of hasteninge the deathe was committed to one of a prompte and
bowlde stomacke, which showlde espie time and place to accomplish
this purpose, whoe accompanienge divers other with him, as
though he hadde benne sent from Offa to call for Ethelbertus,
camme to him in the nighte time, and strangled this innocent
yownge manne, thinckinge on noe such matter ; and forthewith
Ofia invaded bie force his realme, and possessed the same : but
the good virgin Alfreda, knowinge the deathe of her espowse,
accursinge her parents in all her praiers, and stirred sodainlie with
divine inspiration, did longe beefore pronownce that it wold comm
to passe that her mother showlde suffer iuste penaltie for soe
develishe a deede, which in short time happened ; and she her-
selfe vowinge herselfe to Godde in her virginitee, convayed her-
selfe into a place named Crolande, and lived there moste devowtlie ;
the which place beinge a marishe grownde, liethe betweene Elie and
the river Nine, and in times past, abowte the dcxcv. yere of our
Salvation, beganne to bee famus throwghe the memoriall of Saincte
Guthlake, a monache, where he longe dwelled, and was buried.
Whearebie, in processe throughe the miracles there shewed manie
menn being browght thither, fownded there an monasterie of relli-
gius persons of the order of Sainte Benedict, hard bie the river
Nine, which even of late was extant; finallie, the corps of this
martyr Ethelbertus was buried at Hereforde, wheare miraculuslie
it resteth. After this the kingdom of the East Angles was som-
time under the jurisdiction of the Mercians, somtime under the
West Saxons, somtime under Kente, until Edmundus, an hollie
man, laste of the Englishe line, obteined the same, whoe, when
he aspired to the kingdom, governing with tranquillitee, and
using piete and liberallitee towardes eche degree, being at the
lengthe slaine, throughe the treason of barbarus people, attained



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142 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

martirdom, wherof this is reported to bee the occasion. Lothe-
bricus^ a Dane borne, the father of Agnerus and Hubo, (of whome
wee shall hereafter have oportunitee to entreate,) beinge greatlie
delighted in hawkinge, as menne saye, on a time, taking a littel
barcke, while hee wandered abowte the shore persewend the water
fowle, with sodaine blaste of the wiiide was driven into the maine
sea, wheare, being tossed to and froe two dayse and two
nightes, at the lengthe was blowne to the shore of the Est Angles,
and forthewith, for his good skill in flieng with haukes, was enter-
tayned into howsholde of Edmundus. Manie dayse weare not
passed, but that a servant of the king's, being a fawkener, hadd
slayne him for envie, that hee was conninger then himselfe in that
qualitee : for the which offence, when he perceaved that he cowlde
gett noe pardon of the kinge, hee fledd into Denmarcke, and there,
burning in hatred againste Edmundus, in that he would nott
release himme, bethoughte him of this develishe* devise. He cer*
tified for a trewthe Agnerus and Hubo (too verie sorefull orphans,
for the mischaunce of their father Lothebricus) that he was slaine
emonge the Este Englishemen, hie the commaundment of kinge
Edmundus. Agnerus, as soone as hee underscode of his father's
murthering, is sayde owt of hande to have hasted into the Hand
with noe small number of armed soldiers to revenge this injurie ;
and that as soone as hee camme to the Est Angles, that hee sente
one of his men as espiall weare Edmundus sojoniied, commaund-
ing himme that hee showlde exacte monnie of the kinge, and
other necessaries, as one all readie vanquished, declaring more over
that hee showlde no longer reigne, excepte withowte delay he
wowlde submitte himme selfe to the Danes; and hee him selfe all
this while not in farre distance followed the espie as a manne pro*
fessinge open hostilitee, and mindinge to make all thinges ether
boome with fier, or swimme in blodde. Edmundus, after hee
harde the message, marvelinge not a littel at the unseemlie rashnes
of this barbarus people, was marveluslie dismayde and appalled,

■ Villainous, maty.



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THE FOURTH BOOK. 143

and makinge som delaye in mnsinge and cogitation, delibered with
himselfe what might bee moste expedient in soe sodaine a terror •
at the lengthe,this moste innocent creature, remembringe thesaienge
of Christe, hee that loesethe his life shall finde the same, settinge
all feare aparte, made this aunswere to the messengere: Saye
unto thie haute capitaine that Edmundus, a Christian kinge, shall
never becomme servile to the Danes, abhorringe the ownelie
savinge relligion of Christe, onlesse hee shall firste embrace the
same allso. Hee hadde scarselie said these woordes, but Agnerus
was sodainlie present, and russhing into the pallace, slewe divers
menn, and apprehended Edmundus himselfe. Somm there are
which write that this goodde prince at the firste avoided them,
and afterward of purpose turned againe to them ; and being
demanded if hee knewe wheare the kinge was, made this aunswere :
While I was in the court there was allso Edmundus, whome you
seeke, and when I departed hee voyded likewise, whoe whither hee
shall escape youre handds or nott onlie Godde knowethe. When
the Danes, bie an exposition, understode that Godde was named,
perceavinge verie well that this was the kinge, they tooke hime,
they frushd him with clubbes all moste to deathe, they roved him
throughe with arrowse, and finallie smote of his hedde, while hee
called on the name of Godde ; and thus this woorthie kinge re-
ceaved the noble victorie of martirdom. Yet these rude raskaUs,
not thus content, raged on the dead carkas, and hidde it emonge
thicke shrubbes and briars, leaste the Christians showlde exhibit
there accustomable ceremonies therto. But humane impietee
prevayled nothinge against Divine providence; for while the
Christen menn, which founde the boddie, made dilligent searche
for the hedde, beeholde a voice was sodainlie hard in one comer
of the woodde, wherunto all menn approched, findinge the hedd
sownde and inviolate. There hooved faste bie it a woolfe, which
wonderuslie kepte and preserved it; and (that which was to bee
marveled at) this raveninge beaste didd not once taste of the
bloode, whidi continuallie dropped from it« This begunn to bee



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144 HISTORY OP ENOLAN-D.

notorius amonge the miracles of Saincte Edmunde. But on the
other side divers other have lefte in memorie that sharpe battayles
weare fowght beetweene him and the Danes, with great slaughter
on bothe sides, beefore hee cam under the yoke of his enemies.
This was the yeare of our Lorde dccclxxi. Edmundus lived
xxxiz. yeare, and reigned xrj. His boddie was enterred in a relii-
gius howse of thordre of Sainct Benedicte, founded of an holUe
bisshopp of that region called Alswinus, and dedicated unto him
in a towne in the countie of Suffolke named Berie. These are
the thinggs which certaine authors have alleged as the causes of
Saincte Edmundes martirdom, whose opinion I will not affirme to
bee alltogether trewe, for as much as it is evident that the Danes
camme nott at that time oute of Denmarcke to revenge the death
of the father of Agnerus and Hubo, but weare longe before in the
He, whoe at the lenghth overcomming the people of Northumber-
lande at Torcke, (as it shalbe mentioned in the life of Alured, the
kinge of the Weste parte,) they invaded the Est Angles, wheare
shortlie thei slainge Edmundus, reygned over them certaine years.
The which thinge one Saxo Grammaticus maketh especiall men-
tion to bee trewe, who writethe of the Danishe gestes. Trulie he
affirmethe that in the beginninge, firste, one Frotho, and then
Amlethus, subdued the Brittishe kinges and Scottishe, and in fine
that the Englishe kings allso, whoe beefore vanquished the Britons,
weare over commed of Frotho the thirde, Iverus and Regnerus, to
[whom] at the lengthe was geven a valient ruler, called Agnerus,
whoe sharpelie afflicted the people which weare unfaythefull unto
himme. This man of the Englishe cronographers is unfydie
called Juguares, even as of this Saxo hathe evellie termed the
Englishe kinges, I thincke throwghe the defaulte of the printer ;
but let us retome to the purpose. The Danes, when they hadd
geven the overthrow to the East Angles, they made kinge one of
their capitains, called Guthorinus, whoe, as hee was a prowde
mann, soe hee governed crewellie, mindinge to extirpe bothe the
stocke and name of Englishemenne ; but, beinge prevented with



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THE FOURTH BOOK. 145

death, hee cowlde not fullfill his bloodie intente. After him sue-
ceded Ericus, likewise a Dane, whoe in that hee alltogether fol-
lowed the stepps of Guthorinus, bie his insolent rewlinge, within
littell after the beginninge of his reygne, the Englishemenn being
browght to the utter desperinge of all thinggs, in a furie slewe
him ; which thing neyertheles proved noe great commoditee to
them ; for what with the Danes beinge desierus to revenge this
murther, what with the westerne kinges desierus to enlarge there
dominion, they weere so terriblie afflicted beetweene them, that in
conclusion they weare faine (as I will shewe ellswheare) to sub-
mitt themselves to the westerne kinge, called Edwardus, surnamed
Senior ; so at the lengthe loste bothe their kingdom, which had
leasted longest, and their name bothe at once.

The fowrthe kingdom was of the Este Saxons {if wee beeleeve
Beda, who maketh a difference betweene Saxons and Englishe-
menne). There kingdom tooke his originall of kinge Erchenwinus ;
the head and regall majestic therof was at London, which cittie
(as wee shewed beefore) the Kentissh kinge Ethelbertus afterward
enjoyed; it was limited with those veri bowndes wherewith, in
our memorie, the dioces of London is determined. But other
writers (unto whome I rather assent) surmise that the kingedom
of the Est Angles and Est Saxons was but all one in effecte, yeat
to have somtimes benne administered of two princes, in that they
are annexed ; for it is well knowne that London was the cheefe
and rioU seat of them both. The kinges, which in the beginninge
succeaded Erchenwinus, wear theas, Sladda and Sibertus. This
laste was baptized of Miletus, busshopp of London, to whome
they ascribe the abbay of Westmonaster. Howbeit, som authors,
to whome I easlie agree, do rather suppose the same to bee the
worcke of kinge Lucius. Sibertus begatt iij. sonnes, Serredius,
Sewardius, and Sigibertus, in whome shined nether sanctitee,
nether the feare of Godd, nor enie sparcke of relligion ; they soe
dispised the Christian name, they ranne to suche wonderus madd-
nes, that havinge in contempte the eucharisticall sacrament, moste

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146 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

grosslie and dispituuslie they receaved the same, in so muche that
Miletus^ denienge that he could ministre it to suche as hadd not
ben sprinckled with the celestiall dewe of helthefull baptisme^ was
>oommaunded bie them forthewith to departe owt of the kingdom.
Miletus being thus exiled^ made expedition towards Laurentius^
archebisshopp of Canterburie, wheare, when the good prelates
hadd a while consulted as menn ignorant what was best to bee
done, and how they might sustaine tiie relligion, being now eche-
whear in extreeme distresse, in the ende they agreed rather to
geeve place to this unbrideled tyrannic^ then to bee afflicted with
soe menie scathes, and nothing to availe the Christian common
wealthe ; wherefore, Miletus and Justus, the bisshop of Rochester,
went with all speede into Fraunoe, as Bedas is author. In the
meane time, Serredius havinge wanrs with the West Saxons, was
slaine, bothe hee and his breethren ; thus it was the pleasur of
AUmightie Godd that cruell tyrants showlde bee regrated with
juste penaltie for there great impietee.

After Sirredius succeded Sigibertus, sumamed Parvus, that is
to saye, littell, the sonne of Sewardus, whoe, farre dissentinge from
his father in judgement, willinglie receaved the Christian relligion ;
but suche is the worlde, that no mann knoweth whome bee maye
safelie truste, for not longe aftere hee was of his one people
prevelie murthered at home, bie cause hee was mercifull to his
enemies, folowinge this precept of Christe, wheare he saithe, Doe
well unto those which hate you. Next unto himme regned Suthe-
lanus, Sigerius, and Sigehardus, of whome, saving that they weare
baptized, I have no notable thinge to endite. After that these
menn hadde runne the short race of their life ensewed Offa, the
Sonne of Sigerius, being the ix^. from Erchenwinus, in the ordre of
the kinges, a yownge prince of exceadinge goodd nature, who moved
with devocion, wente unto Rome to be absolved, wheare he yeelded
uppe his ghoste unto Godde. Hee made Colredus his heire.
After whome succeeded Suthredus the xi. and laste of the Este
•Saxon kings, of whome wee will speake more afterward, in our



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THB FOURTH BOOK. 147

treatise of Egbertns kinge of the West Saxons^ who> with this
dominion of Est Saxons^ joyned allso Kente and the kingdom of
Northumberlande nnto his power and jarisdiction.

The fifthe kingdom was of the Mercians or Middel Saxons,
havinge originall of Crida the Saxon, which was farre the greatest
and moste riche, bothe biecause they inhabited the moste plenteus
soyle of the Ilonde, and allso that theye cheeflie flourished in the
prospenis propagation of menne. Of the breadthe and lengthe
thereof is noe certeyntee lefte in memorie, but menne doe well
accounte that they inhabited those places wheare now are Lincolne,
Coventree, Lichefielde, and Worciter diocesses, and that parte of
Hereforde dioces was within the limits of this kingdom, as it is
to be seen in oulde monuments, for in the moste auncient
cronacles wee maye reade that it was distributed into v. dioceses, whod
eeven as there are som that put a diversitee betwene the Mer- T?**^®, ^®
cians and the Middel Saxons, which weare on this side the nver and what
Trent, wheare as the others say thei, nameUe the Mercians, weare doth"oV-'
placed more westwarde, albeit indeade I thincke them to bee all ^°e^
one people. Crida, beinge a manne bothe opulent in treasure and
renowned in fame, in bickeringe with the Britons, bie littel and
litel obteyned that kingdom, which at the lengthe hee surrendered
to his Sonne Vibbas ; whoe, beinge in haute corage nothing inferiop
to his father, did not ounlie preserve the same, but allso aug^
mented it, eche wheare over comminge the borderinge Brittons.
Then Cearlus seased on the kingdom; after whome succeaded
Penda the sonne of Vibbas, the fourthe from Crida. Som write
that this man was the author and beginner of the Meroians^
which I am not able to saye. Hee was a man of great wisdom,^
witte in forecaste, easlie brideled with reason, yet in stoutenes of
stomacke and warlike valiance passinge excellent : thease vertewse
weare counterpeased with the equallitee of vices. He was verie
sharpe in manners, steme of nature, exceading crewell, verie
fallse and deceytfuU, wonderuslie dispiteus and envius towards
the Christian name. With this trust and confidence of his vertewse
and vices, the firste day that ever hee was crouned king, as.



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148 HISTORY OF ENGLAND.



Online LibraryPolydore VergilPolydore Vergil's English history, from an early translation preserved among the mss. of the old royal library in the British museum → online text (page 14 of 30)