How Elfleda king Alfreds daughter (being maried) contemned fleshlie pleasure; the praise of Alfred for his good qualities, his lawes for the redresse of theeues, his diuiding of countries into hundreds and tithings, of what monasteries he was founder, he began the foundation of the vniuersitie of Oxford, which is not so ancient as Cambridge by 265 yeeres; king Alfred was learned, his zeale to traine his people to lead an honest life, what learned men were about him, the pitifull murthering of Iohn Scot by his owne scholers, how Alfred diuided the 24 houres of the day and the night for his necessarie purposes, his last will and bequests; the end of the kingdome of Mercia, the Danes haue it in their hands, and dispose it as they list, Eastangle and Northumberland are subiect vnto them, the Northumbers expell Egbert their king, his death; the Danes make Guthred king of Northumberland, priuileges granted to S. Cuthberts shrine; the death of Guthred, and who succeeded him in the seat roiall.
The Xvi. Chapter.IN the end of the former chapter we shewed what children Alfred had, their number & names, among whome we made report of Elfleda, who (as you haue heard) was maried vnto duke Edelred. This gentlewomen left a notable example behind hir of despising fleshlie plesure, for bearing hir husband one child, and sore handled before she could be deliuered, The notable saieng of Elfleda. she euer after forbare to companie with hir husband, saieng that it was great foolishnesse to vse such pleasure which therwith should bring so great griefe. To speake sufficientlie of the woorthie praise due to so noble a prince as Alfred was, might require eloquence, learning, and a large volume. He was of person comelie and beautifull, and better beloued of his father and mother than his other brethren. And although Will. Malmes. he was (as before is touched) greatly disquieted with the inuasion of forren enimies, yet did he both manfullie from time to time indeuour himselfe to repell them, and also attempted King Alfred his lawes. to sée his subiects gouerned in good and vpright iustice. And albeit that good lawes amongst the clinking noise of armor are oftentimes put to silence, yet he perceiuing how his people were gréeued with theeues and robbers, which in time of warre grew and increased, deuised good statutes and wholsome ordinances for punishing of such offendors. Amongst other things he ordeined that the countries should be diuided into hundreds and tithings, that is to say, quarters conteining a certeine number of towneships adioining togither, so that euerie Englishman liuing vnder prescript of lawes, should haue both his hundred and tithing; that if anie man were accused of anie offense, he should find suertie for his good demeanor: and if he could not find such as would answer for him, then should he tast extremitie of the lawes. And if anie man that was giltie fled before he found suertie, or after: all the inhabitants of the hundred or tithing where he dwelt, shuld be put to their fine. By this deuise he brought his countrie into good tranquillitie, so that he caused bracelets of gold to be hanged vp aloft on hils where anie common waies lay, to sée if anie durst be so hardie to take them away by stealth. He was a liberall prince namely in relieuing of the poore. To churches he confirmed such priuileges as his father had granted before him, and he also sent rewards by way of deuotion vnto Rome, and to the bodie of saint Thomas in India. Sighelmus the bishop of Shireborne bare the same, and brought from thence rich stones, and swéet oiles of inestimable valure. From Rome also he brought a péece of the holy crosse which pope Martinus did send for a present vnto king Alfred. Moreouer king Alfred founded three goodlie monasteries, one at Edlingsey, where he Foundation of monasteries. liued sometime when the Danes had bereaued him almost of all his kingdome, which was after called Athelney, distant from Taunton in Sumersetshire about fiue miles: the second he builded at Winchester, called the new minster: and the third at Shaftesburie, which was an house of nuns, where he made his daughter Ethelgeda or Edgiua abbesse. But the foundation of the vniuersitie of Oxford passed all the residue of his buildings, which he began by the good exhortation and aduise of Neotus an abbat, in those daies highlie estéemed for his vertue and lerning with Alfred. This worke he tooke in hand about the 23 yéere of his reigne, which was in the yéere of our Lord 895. So that the vniuersitie of Cambridge was founded 895. before this other of Oxford about 265 yeeres, as Polydor gathereth. For Sigebert king of Polydor. The vniuersitie of Oxford erected. the Eastangles began to erect that vniuersitie at Cambridge about the yéere of our Lord 630. King Alfred was learned himselfe, and giuen much to studie, insomuch that beside diuerse good lawes which he translated into the English toong, gathered togither and published, he also translated diuerse other bookes out of Latine into English, as Ososius, Pastorale Gregorij, Beda de gestis Anglorum, Boetius de consolatione philosophiæ, and the booke of Psalmes; but this he finished not, being preuented by death. So this worthie prince minded well toward the common wealth of his people, in that season when learning was little estéemed amongst the west nations, did studie by all meanes possible to instruct his subiects in the trade of leading The vertuous seale of Alured to bring his people to an honest trade of life. He is persuaded by his mother, to applie himselfe to learning. an honest life, and to incourage them generallie to imbrace learning. He would not suffer anie to beare office in the court, except he were learned: and yet he himselfe was twelue yéeres of age before he could read a word on the booke, and was then trained by his mothers persuasion to studie, promising him a goodlie booke which she had in hir hands, if he would learne to read it. Herevpon going to his booke in sport, he so earnestlie set his mind thereto, that within a small time he profited maruellouslie, and became such a fauorer of learned men, that he delighted most in their companie, to haue conference with them, and allured diuerse to come vnto him out of other countries, as Asserius Meneuensis bishop of Shirborne, & Werefridus Asserius Meneuensis Werefridus. Iohn Scot. the bishop of Worcester, who by his commandement translated the bookes of Gregories dialogs into English. Also I. Scot, who whiles he was in France translated the book of Dionysius Ariopagita, intituled Hierarchia, out of Gréeke into Latine, and after was schoolemaister in the abbeie of Malmesburie, and there murthered by his scholers with penkniues. He had diuerse other about him, both Englishmen & strangers, as Pleimond afterward archbishop of Canturburie, Grimbald gouernor of the new monasterie at Winchester, with others. Grimbald. But to conclude with this noble prince king Alured, he was so carefull in his office, that he Alured diuided the time for his necessarie v diuided the 24 houres which conteine the day and night, in thrée parts, so that eight houres he spent in writing, reading, and making his praiers, other eight he emploied in relieuing his bodie with meat, drinke and sléepe, and the other eight he bestowed in dispatching of businesse concerning the gouernement of the realme. He had in his chapell a candle of 24 parts, whereof euerie one lasted an houre: so that the sexton, to whome that charge was committed, by burning of this candle warned the king euer how the time passed away. A little before his death, he ordeined his last will and testament, bequeathing halfe the portion of all his goods His last will and testament. iustlie gotten, vnto such monasteries as he had founded. All his rents and reuenues he diuided into two equall parts, and the first part he diuided into thrée, bestowing the first vpon his seruants in houshold, the second to such labourers and workemen as he kept in his works of sundrie new buildings, the third part he gaue to strangers. The second whole part of his reuenues was so diuided, that the first portion thereof was dispersed amongst the poore people of his countrie, the second to monasteries, the third to the finding of poore scholers, and the fourth part to churches beyond the sea. He was diligent in inquirie how the iudges of his land behaued themselues in their iudgements, and was a sharpe corrector of them which transgressed in that behalfe. To be briefe, he liued so as he was had in great fauour of his neighbours, & highlie honored among strangers. He maried his daughter Ethelswida or rather Elstride vnto Baldwine earle of Flanders, of whome he had two sonnes Arnulfe and Adulfe, the first succéeding in the erledome of Flanders, and the yoonger was made earle of Bullogne. The bodie of king Alured was first buried in the bishops church; but afterwards, because the Canons raised a fond tale that the same should walke a nights, his sonne king Edward remoued it into the new monasterie which he in his life time had founded. Finallie, in memorie of him a certeine learned clarke made an epitath in Latine, which for the woorthinesse thereof is likewise (verse for verse, and in a maner word for word) translated by Abraham Fleming into English, whose no litle labor hath béene diligentlie imploied in supplieng sundrie insufficiences found in this huge volume.
NOBILITAS innata tibi probitatis honoremIn the daies of the foresaid king Alured, the kingdome of Mercia tooke end. For after that the Danes had expelled king Burthred, when he had reigned 22 yeares, he went to Rome, and there died, his wife also Ethelswida, the daughter of king Athulfe that was sonne to king Egbert followed him, and died in Pauia in Lumbardie. The Danes hauing got the Cewulfe. countrie into their possession, made one Cewulfe K. thereof, whome they bound with an oth and deliuerie of pledges, that he should not longer kéepe the state with their pleasure, and further should be readie at all times to aid them with such power as he should be able to make. This Cewulfe was the seruant of king Burthred. Within foure yeares after the Danes returned, and tooke one part of that kingdome into their owne hands, and left the residue vnto Cewulfe. But within a few yeares after, king Alured obteined that part of Mercia which Cewulfe ruled, as he did all the rest of this land, except those parcels which the Danes held, as Northumberland, the countries of the Eastangles, some part of Mercia, and other. The yeare, in the which king Alured thus obteined all the dominion of that part of Mercia, which Cewulfe had in gouernance, was after the birth of our Sauiour 886, so that the 886. foresaid kingdome continued the space of 302 yeares vnder 22 kings, from Crida to this last Matth. West. Cewulfe. But there be that account the continuance of this kingdome, onelie from the beginning of Penda, vnto the last yeare of Burthred, by which reckoning it stood not past 270 yeares vnder 18, or rather 17 kings, counting the last Cewulfe for none, who began his reigne vnder the subiection of the Danes, about the yeare of our Lord 874, where Penda began his reigne 604. The Eastangles and the Northumbers in these daies were vnder subiection of the Danes, as partlie may be perceiued by that which before is rehearsed. After Guthrun that gouerned the Gurthrun K. of the eastangles died 990. Eastangles by the terme of 12 yeares, one Edhirike or Edrike had the rule in those parts, a Dane also, and reigned 14 yeares, and was at length bereued of his gouernement by king Simon Dun. Edward the sonne of king Alured, as after shall appeare. But now, although that the Northumbers were brought greatlie vnder foot by the Danes, yet could they not forget their old Simon Dun. accustomed maner to stirre tumults and rebellion against their gouernours, insomuch that in 872. the yeare 872, they expelled not onelie Egbert, whome the Danes had appointed king ouer Egbert king of Northumberland expelied from his kingdome. Egbert départed this life. Ricsig. one part of the countrie (as before you haue heard) but also their archbishop Wilfehere. In the yeare following, the same Egbert departed this life, after whome one Rigsig or Ricsige succéeded as king, and the archbishop Wolfehere was restored home. In the same yeare the arme of Danes which had wintered at London, came from thence into Northumberland, and wintered in Lindseie, at a place called Torkseie, and went the next The Danes winter in Lindseie. yeare into Mercia. And in the yeare 975, a part of them returned into Northumberland, as before ye haue heard. In the yeare following, Ricsig the king of Northumberland departed this life: after whome an other Egbert succéeded. And in the yeare 988, the armie of the 975. Danes meaning to inhabit in Northumberland, and to settle themselues there, chose Guthrid Ricsig departed this life. the sonne of one Hardicnute to their king, whome they had sometime sold to a certeine widow at Witingham. But now by the aduise of an abbat called Aldred, they redéemed his libertie, 983. and ordeined him king to rule both Danes and Englishmen in that countrie. It was said, Guthred ordeined king of Northumberland. that the same Aldred being abbat of holie Iland, was warned in a vision by S. Cuthberd, to giue counsell both to the Danes and Englishmen, to make the same Guthrid kin. This chanced about the 13 yeare of the reigne of Alured king of Westsaxons. When Guthrid was established king, he caused the bishops see to be remoued from holie The bishops sée remooued frō holie iland to Chester in the stréet. Iland vnto Chester in the stréet, and for an augmentation of the reuenues and iurisdiction belonging thereto, he assigned and gaue vnto saint Cuthbert all that countrie which lieth betwixt the riuers of Teise and Tine. ¶ Which christian act of the king, liuing in a time of palpable blindnesse and mistie superstition, may notwithstanding be a light to the great men and péeres of this age (who pretend religion with zeale, and professe (in shew) the truth with feruencie) not to impouerish the patrimonie of the church to inrich themselues and their posteritie, not to pull from bishoprikes their ancient reuenues to make their owne greater, not to alienate acclesiasticall liuings into temporall commodities, not to seeke the conuersion of college lands into their priuat possessions; not to intend the subuersion of cathedrall churches to fill their owne cofers, not to ferret out concealed lands for the supports of their owne priuat lordlines; not to destroy whole towneships for the erection of one statelie manour; not to take and pale in the commons to inlarge their seueralles; but like good and gratious common-wealth-men, in all things to preferre the peoples publike profit before their owne gaine and glorie, before their owne pompe and pleasure, before the satisfieng of their owne inordinate desires. Priuiledges granted to S. Cuthberts shrine. Moreouer, this priuiledge was granted vnto saint Cuthberts shrine: that whosoeuer fled vnto the same for succour and safegard, should not be touched or troubled in anie wise for the space of thirtie, & seuen daies. And this freedome was confirmed not onelie by king Guthrid, but also by king Alured. Finallie king Guthrid departed this life in the yeare of our Lord 894. 894, after he had ruled the Northumbers with much crueltie (as some say) by the terme of Polydor. Will. Malmes. 11 yeares, or somewhat more. He is named by some writers Gurmond, and also Gurmo, & thought to be the same whome king Alured caused to be baptised. Whereas other affirme, that Guthrid, who ruled the Eastangles, was he that Alured receiued at the fontstone: Wil. Malm. Sithrike. William Malmesburie taketh them to be but one man, which is not like to be true. After this Guthrid or Gurmo his sonne Sithrike succeeded, and after him other of that line, till king Adelstane depriued them of the dominion, and tooke it into his owne hands.
Nobilitie by birth to the ( Alfred strong in armes）
(Armipotens Alfrede) dedit, probitásque laborem,
Of goodnes hath the honor giuen, and honor toilesome harmes,
Perpetuúmque labor nomen, cui mixta dolori
And toilesome harmes an endlesse name, whose ioies were alwaies mext
Gaudia semper erant, spes semper mixta timori.
With sorow, and whose hope with feare was euermore perplext.
Si modò victor eras, ad crastina bella pauebas,
If this day thou wert conqueror, the next daies warre thou dredst,
Si modò victus eras, in crastina bella parabas,
If this day thou wert conquered, to next daies war thou spedst,
Cui vestes sudore iugi, cui sica cruore,
Whose clothing wet with dailie swet, whose blade with bloudie stainte,
Tincta iugi, quantum sit onus regnare probârunt,
Do proue how great a burthen tis in roialtie to raine,
Non fuit immensi quisquam per climata mundi,
There hath not beene in anie part of all the world so wide,
Cui tot in aduersis vel respirare liceret,
One that was able breath to take, and troubles such abide,
Nec tamen aut ferro contritus ponere ferrum,
And yet with weopons wearie would not weapons lay aside,
Aut gladio potuit vitæ finisse labores:
Or with the sword the toilesomnesse of life by death diuide.
Iam post transactos regni vitæque labores,
Now after labours past of realme and life (which ke did spend）
Christus ei fit vera quies sceptrúmque perenne.
Christ is to him true quietnesse and scepter void of end.