Cadwan is made king of the Britains in the citie of Chester, he leuieth a power against Ethelfred king of the Northumbers, couenants of peace passe betwixt them vpon condition, the death of Ethelbert king of Kent, where he and his wife were buried, of his lawes; Eadbald succeedeth Ethelbert in the Kentish kingdome, his lewd and vnholie life, he is an enimie to religion; he is plagued with madnesse; Hebert king of the Eastsaxons dieth, his three sonnes refuse to be baptised, they fall to idolatrie and hate the professours of the truth, their irreligious talke and vndutifull behauiour to bishop Melitus, he and his fellow Iustus passe ouer into France, the three sonnes of Hebert are slaine of the Westsaxons in battell, the Estsaxons by their idolatrie prouohe archbishop Laurence to forsake the land, he is warned in a vision to tarie, whereof he certifieth king Eadbald, who furthering christianitie, sendeth for Melitus and Iustus, the one is restored to his see, the other reiected, Melitus dieth, Iustus is made archbishop of Canturburie, the christian faith increaseth.
The Xxiiii. Chapter.
AFTER that the Britains had cōtinued about the space almost of 24 yéeres without anie one
CADWAN king of Britaine.
speciall gouernour, being led by sundrie rulers, euer sithens that Careticus was constreined to flée ouer Seuerne, and fought oftentimes not onelie against the Saxons, but also one of them against another, at length in the yéere of our Lord 613, they assembled in the citie of Chester,
and there elected Cadwan that before was ruler of Northwales, to haue the souereigne rule & gouernement ouer all their nation, and so the said Cadwan began to reigne as king of Britaine in the said yéere 613. But some authors say, that this was in the yéere 609, in which yéere Careticus the British king departed this life. And then after his deceasse the Britains or Welshmen (whether we shall call them) chose Cadwan to gouerne them in the foresaid yéere 609, which was in the 7 yéere of the emperour Phocas, and the 21 of the second Lotharius king of France, and in the 13 yéere of Kilwoolfe king of the Westsaxons.
This Cadwan being established king, shortlie after assembled a power of Britains, and went against the foresaid Ethelfred king of Northumberland, who being thereof aduertised, did associate to him the most part of the Saxon princes, and came foorth with his armie to meet Cadwan in the field. Herevpon as they were readie to haue tried the matter by battell, certeine of their friends trauelled so betwixt them for peace, that in the end they brought them to agréement, so that Ethelfred should kéepe in quiet possession those his countries beyond
the riuer of Humber, and Cadwan should hold all that which of right belonged to the Britains on the south side of the same riuer. This couenant with other touching their agréement was confirmed with oths solemnelie taken, and pledges therewith deliuered, so that afterwards they continued in good and quiet peace, without vexing one an other.
What chanced afterward to Ethelfred, ye haue before heard rehersed, which for that it sonndeth more like to a truth than that which followeth in the British booke, we omit to make further rehersall, passing forward to other dooings which fell in the meane season, whilest this Cadwan had gouernement of the Britains, reigning as king ouer them the tearme
of 22 or (as some say) but 13 yéeres, and finallie was slaine by the Northumbers, as before hath béene, and also after shall be shewed.
In the 8 yéere after that Cadwan began to reigne, Ethelbert king of Kent departed this life, in the 21 yéere after the comming of Augustine with his fellowes to preach the faith of Christ here in this realme: and after that Ethelbert had reigned ouer the prouince of Kent the tearme of 56 yéeres (as Beda saith, but there are that haue noted thrée yéers lesse) he departed
Wil. Malm. Beda li. 2 cap. 5.
this world, as aboue is signified, in the yeere of our Lord 617, on the 24 day of Februarie, and was buried in the Ile of saint Martine, within the church of the apostles Peter and Paule, without the citie of Canturburie, where his wife quéene Bartha was also buried, and the foresaid archbishop Augustine that first conuerted him to the faith.
Amongst other things, this king Ethelbert with the aduise of his councell ordeined diuers lawes and statutes, according to the which decrées of iudgements should passe: those decrées he caused to be written in the English toong, which remained and were in force vnto the daies of Beda, as he declareth. And first it was expressed in those lawes, what amends he should make that stole anie thing that belonged to the church, to the bishop, or to anie ecclesiasticall person, willing by all means to defend them whose doctrine he had receiued.
AFTER the deceasse of Etthelbert, his sonne Eadbald succéeded in the gouernment of his kingdome of Kent, the which was a great hinderer of the increase of the new church amongst the Englishmen in those parties: for he did not onelie refuse to be baptised himselfe, but also vsed such kind of fornication, as hath not béene heard (as the apostle saith) amongst the Gentiles, for he tooke to wife his mother in law, that had béene wife to his father. By
The princes example occasion of euill.
which two euill examples, manie tooke occasion to returne to their heathenish religion, the which whilest his father reigned, either for the prince his pleasure, or for feare to offend him, did professe the christian faith. But Eadbald escaped not woorthie punishment to him sent from the liuing God for his euill deserts, insomuch that he was vexed with a certeine kind of madnesse, and taken with an vncleane spirit.
The foresaid storme or vnquiet troubling of the christian congregation, was afterwards greatlie increased also by the death of Sabert or Sebert king of the Eastsaxons, who was conuerted to the faith of Christ, and baptized by Melitus bishop of London (as before is mentioned) & departing this life to go to a better in the blissefull kingdome of heauen, he left behind him thrée sonnes as true successours in the estate of his earthlie kingdome, which
Ran. Cest. Bedali. 2. cap. 5. Serred, Seward, and Sigebert, the sonnes of Sabert.
sonnes likewise refused to be baptised. Their names were Serred, Seward, & Sigebert, men of an ill mind, & such as in whome no vertue remained, no feare of God, nor anie respect of religion, but speciallie hating the professours of the christian faith. For after their father was dead, they began to fall to their old idolatrie, which in his life time they séemed to haue giuen ouer, insomuch that now they openlie worshipped idols, and gaue libertie to their subiects to do the like.
And when the bishop Melitus, at the solemnizing of masse in the church, distributed the eucharisticall bread vnto the people, they asked him (as it is said) wherfore he did not deliuer of that bright white bread vnto them also, as well as he had béene accustomed to doo to their father Saba (for so they vsed to call him.) Vnto whome the bishop made this answer: "If you will be washed in that wholesome fountaine, wherein your father was washed, ye may be partakers of that holie bread whereof he was partaker, but if you despise the washpoole of life, ye may by no meanes tast the bread of saluation." But they offended herewith, replied in this wise: "We will not enter into that fountaine, for we know we haue no néed thereof; but yet neuerthelesse we will be refreshed with that bread."
After this, when they had beene earnestlie and manie times told, that vnlesse they would be baptised, they might not be partakers of the sacred oblation; at length in great displeasure they told him, that if he would not consent vnto them in so small a matter, there should be no place for him within the bounds of their dominion, and so he was constrained to depart. Wherevpon he being expelled, resorted into Kent, there to take aduise with his fellow-bishops, Laurence and Iustus, what was to be doone in this so weightie a matter. Who finallie resolued vpon this point, that it should be better for them to returne into their countrie, where with frée minds they might serue almightie God, rather than to remaine amongest people that rebelled against the faith, without hope to doo good amongest them. Wherefore Melitus and Iustus did depart first, and went ouer into France, minding there to abide till they might sée what the end would be. But shortlie after, those brethren the kings of Essex, which had expelled their bishop in maner aboue said, suffered woorthilie for their wicked dooings. For going forth to battell against the Westsaxons, they were ouerthrowen
The sonne of king Sebert slaine.
and slaine altogither with all their armie, by the two kings Kinigils and Quichelme, But neuerthelesse, albeit the authors of the mischiefe were thus taken awaie, yet the people that countrie would not be reduced againe from their diuelish woorshipping of false gods, being eftsoones fallen thereto in that season by the incouragement and perilous example of their rulers. Wherefore the archbishop Laurence was in mind also to follow his fellowes Melitus and Iustus: but when he minded to set forward, he was warned in a dreame, and cruellie scourged (as hath béene reported by the apostle saint Peter, who reprooued him) for that he would so vncharitablie forsake his flocke, & leaue it in danger without a shepherd to kéepe the woolfe from the fold.
The archbishop imboldned by this vision, and also repenting him of his determination, came to king Eadbald, and shewed to him his stripes, and the maner of his dreame. The king being herewith put in great feare, renounced his heathenish worshipping of idols, and was baptised, and as much as in him laie, from thenceforth succoured the congregation of the christians, and aduanced the church to his power. He sent also into France, and called home the bishops Melitus and Iustus, so that Iustus was restored to his sée of Rochester.
But the Eastsaxons would not receiue Melitus to his sée at London, but continued in their wicked mawmetrie, in obeieng a bishop of their pagan law, whom they had erected for that purpose. Neither was king Eadbald of that authoritie and power in those parties, as his father was before, whereby he might constreine them to receiue their lawfull bishop. But suerlie the said king Eadbald with his people, after he was once conuerted againe, gaue himselfe wholie to obeie the lawes of GOD, and amongt other déeds of godlie zeale, he builded a church to our ladie at Canturburie, within the monasterie of saint Peter, afterwards called
Beda lib. 2.
saint Agnes. This church was consecrated by Melitus, who after the death of Laurence succéeded in gouernance of the archbishops sée of Canturburie. After Melitus, who departed this life in the yeare of our Lord 624, Iustus that before was bishop of Rochester, was made
Beda. lib. 2. ca. 8.
archbishop of Canturburie, and ordeined one Romanus to the sée of Rochester. About that time, the people of the north parts beyond Humber receiued the faith, by occasion (as after shall appéere.)