Elfleda the sister of king Edward highlie commended for gouernment, what a necessarie staie she was vnto him in hir life time, what townes she builded and repared, hir warlike exploits against the Danes, hir death and buriall; the greatest part of Britaine in K. Edwards dominion, he is a great builder and reparer of tones, his death, the dreame of his wife Egina, and the issue of the same, what children king Edward had by his wiues, and how they were emploied, the decay of the church by the meanes of troubles procured by the Danes, England first curssed and why; a prouinciall counsell summoned for the reliefe of the churches ruine, Pleimond archbishop of Canturburie sent to Rome, bishops ordeined in sundrie prouinces; dissention among writers what pope should denounce the foresaid cursse; a succession of archbishops in the see of Canturburie, one brother hilleth an other.
The Xviij. Chapter.NOT without good reason did king Edward permit vnto his sister Elfleda the gouernment of Mercia, during hir life time: for by hir wise and politike order vsed in all hir dooings, he was greatlie furthered & assisted; but speciallie in reparing and building of townes & castels, wherein she shewed hir noble magnificence, in so much that during hir gouernment, which Hen. Hunt. Matth. West. Simon Dun. Tamwoorth was by hir repared, anno 914, Eadsburie and Warwike. continued about eight yéeres, it is recorded by writers, that she did build and repare these towns, whose names here insue: Tamwoorth beside Lichfield, Stafford, Warwike, Shrewsburie, Watersburie or Weddesburie, Elilsburie or rather Eadsburie, in the forrest of De la mere besides Chester, Brimsburie bridge vpon Seuerne, Rouncorne at the mouth of the riuer of Mercia with other. Moreouer, by hir helpe the citie of Chester, which by Danes had beene greatlie defaced, was newlie repared, fortified with walls and turrets, and greatlie inlarged. 915. So that the castell which stood without the walls before that time, was now brought Chester repared, 905. Sim. Dun. within compasse of the new wall. Moreouer she boldlie assalted hir enimies which went about to trouble the state of the countrie, as the Welshmen and Danes. She sent an armie into Wales, and tooke the towne of Brecknocke with the queene of the Welshmen at Bricenamere. Also she wan from the Danes Quéene of the Welshmen taken. Brecanamere. Ran. Higd. Hen. Hunt. the towne of Darbie, and the countrie adioining. In this enterprise she put hir owne person in great aduenture: for a great multitude of Danes that were withdrawn into Darbie, valiantlie defended the gates and entries, in so much that they slue foure of hir chiefe men of warre, which were named wardens of hir person, euen fast by hir at the verie entrie of the gates. 918. But this notwithstanding, with valiant fight hir people entered, and so the towne was woon: she Darbie won from the Danes. got diuerse other places out of their hands, & constreined them of Yorkeshire to agree with hir, so that some of them promised to become hir subiects: some vowed to aid hir, and some sware to be at hir commandement. Finallie, this martiall ladie and manlie Elfleda, the supporter of hir countriemen, and terrour Hen. Hunt of the enimies, departed this life at Tamwoorth about the 12 of Iune, in the 18 or rather 19 Anno Christi yéere of hir brother king Edwards reigne, as by Matth. West. it should appeere. But Simon 919. Dunelm. writeth, that she deceassed in the yeere of Christ 915, which should be about the Mett. West. Simon Dun. 14 yéere of king Edwards reigne. Hir bodie was conueied to Glocester, and there buried within the monasterie of S. Peter, which hir husband and she in their life time had builded, and translated thither the bones of saint Oswill from Bardona. The same monasterie was after destroied by Danes. But Aldredus the archbishop of Yorke, who was also bishop of Worcester, repared an other in the same citie, that was after the chiefe abbeie there. Finallie, in memorie of the said Elfleds magnanimitie and valorous mind, this epitaph was fixed on hir toome. “ O Elfleda potens, terror virgo virorum,
O Elfleda potens, nomine digna viri.
Te quóque splendidior fecit natura puellam,
Te probitas fecit nomen habere viri.
Te mutare decet sed solum nomina sexus,
Tu regina potens rexque trophea parans.
Iam nec Cæsareos tantum mirere triumphos,
Cæsare splendidior virgo virago, vale.
Translated by Abraham Fleming. O puissant Elfled, ô thou maid
of men the dread and feare,
O puissant Elfled woorthie maid
the name of man to beare.
A noble nature hath thee made
a maiden mild to bee,
Thy vertue also hath procurde
a manlie name to thee.
It dooth but onelie thee become,
of sex to change the name,
A puissant queene, a king art thou
preparing trophes of fame.
Now maruell not so much at Cæsars
triumphs [trim to vieu;]
O manlike maiden more renowmd
than Cæsar was, adieu.
” This Alfwen was sister to Edelfled, as H. Hunt. saith. Stratcluid or Stretcled, a kingdome in Wales. K. Edward a grest builder and reparer of townes. Nothingham bridge built. Matt. West. Manchester repared. Anno 815. Simon Dun. After the deceasse of Elfleda, king Edward tooke the dominion of Mercia (as before we haue said) into his owne hands, and so disherited his néece Alfwen or Elswen, the daughter of Elfeda, taking hir awaie with him into the countrie of Westsaxons. By this meanes he so amplified the bounds of his kingdome, that he had the most part of all this Iland of Brtaine at his commandement: for the kings of the Welshmen: namelie the king of Strercled, and of the Scots, acknowledging him to be their chiefe souereigne lord, and the Danes in Northumberland were kept so short, that they durst attempt nothing against him in his latter daies: so that he had time to applie the building and reparing of cities, townes, and castels, wherein he so much delighted. He builded a new towne at Notingham on the southside of Trent, and made a bridge ouer that riuer betwixt the old towne and the new. he also repared Manchester beyond the riuer of Mercia in Lancashire, accounted as then in the south end of Northumberland, and he built a towne of ancient writers called Thilwall, neere to the same riuer of Mercia, and placed therein a garrison of souldiers: diuerse other townes and Hear. Hunt. castels he built, as two at Buckingham on either side of the water of Ouse (as before is shewed) and also one at the mouth of the riuer of Auon. He likewise built or new repared the townes of Tocetor and Wigmore, with diuerse other, as one at Glademuth, about the last yéere of his reigne. Some also he destroied which séemed to serue the enimies turne for harborough, as a castell at Temnesford, which the Danes builded and fortified. At length, after that this noble prince king Edward had reigned somewhat aboue the tearme of 23 yeeres, he was taken out of this life at Faringdon: his bodie was conueied from thence vnto Winchester, and there buried in the new abbeie. He had thrée wiues, or (as some haue Polydor. written) but two, affirming that Edgiua was not his wife, but his concubine, of whome he begat his eldest sonne Adelstan, who succeeded him in the kingdome. This Edgiua (as hath béene A dreame, reported) dreamed on a time that there rose a moone out of hir bellie, which with the bright shine thereof gaue light ouer all england: and telling hir dreame to an ancienr gentlewoman, who coniecturing by the dreame that which followed, tooke care of hir, and caused hir to be brought vp in good manners and like a gentlewoman, though she were borne but of base parentage. Heerevpon when she came to ripe yéeres, king Edward by chance comming to the place where she was remaining, vpon the first sight was streight rauished with hir beautie (which in déed excelled) that she could not rest till he had his pleasure of hir, and so begot of hir the foresaid Adelstan: by hir he had also a daughter that was maried vnto Sithrike a Dane and K. of Northumberland. The Scotish writers name hir Beatrice, but our writers name hir Matt. West. Polydor. Editha. His second or rather his first wife (if he were not maried to Eguina mother to Adelstan) was called Elfleda or Elfrida, daughter to one earle Ethelme, by whom he had issue; to wit, The issue of K. Edward. two sonnes Ethelward and Edwin, which immediatlie departed this life after their father, and six daughters, Elfleda, Edgiua, Ethelihilda, Ethilda, and Elfgiua. Elfleda became a nun, and Ethelhilda also liued in perpetuall virginitie, but yet in a laie habit. Edgitha was maried Charles king of France, surnamre Simplex. And Ethilda by helpe Alias Edgius. Will. Malm. of hir brother Adelstan was bestowed vpon Hugh sonne to Robert earle of Paris, for hir singular beautie most highlie estéemed: sith nature in hir had shewed as it were hir whole cunning, in perfecting hir with all gifts and properties of a comelie personage. Edgiua and Elgiua were sent by their brother Adelstan into Germanie, vnto the emperor Henrie, who bestowed one of them vpon his sonne Otho, that was after emperor, the first of that name; and the other vpon a duke inhabiting about the Alpes: by his last wife named Edgiua, he had also two sonnes, Edmund & Eldred, the which both reigned after their brother Adestan successiuelie. Also he had by hir two daughters, Edburge that was made a nun, and Edgiue a ladie of excellent beautie, whom hir brother Adelstan gaue in mariage vnto Lewes king of Aquitaine. Whilest this land was in continuall trouble of warres against the Danes, as before is touched, Ran. High. Wil. Malm. Matth. West. small regard was had to the state of the church, in somuch that the whole countrie of the Westsaxons by the space of seuen yéeres togither (in the daies of this king Edward) remained without anie bishop, to take order in matters apperteining to the church. Wherevpon the pope England from accurssed. had accurssed the English people, bicause they suffred the bishops sees to be vacant so long a time. King Edward to auoid the cursse, assembled a prouinciall councell, 905, in the which Anno 905. the archbishop of Canturburie Pleimond was president. Wherein it was ordeined, that whereas the prouince of Westsaxons in times past had but two bishops, now it should be diuided into fiue diocesses, euerie of them to haue a peculiar bishop. When all things were ordered and concluded in this synod (as was thought requisite) the archbishop was sent to Rome with rich presents, to appease the popes displeasure. When the pope had heard what order the king had taken, he was contented therewith. And so the archbishop returned into his countrie, and in one day at Canturburie ordeined seuen bishops, as fiue to the prouince of Westsaxons, that is to say, Fridestane to the sée of Winchester, Adelstan to Winchester Cornwall. Shiredborne. Welles. Kirton. Mercia. Wil. Malm. saith that pope Formosus pronounced this curses. S. German in Cornwall, Werstan to Shireborne, Adelme to Welles, and Edulfe to Kirton. Also to the prouince of Sussex he ordeined one Bernegus, and to Dorchester for the prouince of Mercia one Cenulfus. ¶ Hcere ye must note, that where William Malme. Polychro. and other doo affirme, that pope Formosus did accursse king Edward and the English nation, for suffering the bishops sees to be vacant, it can not stand with the agreement of the time, vnlesse that the cursse pronounced by Formosus for this matter long afore was not regarded, vntill Edward had respect thereto. For the same Formosus began to gouerne the Romane see about the yéere of our 904. Lord 892, and liued in the papasie not past six yéeres, so that he was dead before king Edward Polydor. came to the crowne. But how so euer this matter maie fall out, this ye haue to consider: although that Pleimond was sent vnto Rome to aduertise the pope what the king had decréed & doone, in the ordeining of bishops to their seuerall sées, as before ye haue heard, yet (as maister Fox hath noted) the gouernance and direction of the church depended chieflie vpon the kings of this land in those daies, as it manifestlie appeereth, as well by the decrees of king Alfred, as of this king Edward, whose authoritie in the election of bishops (as before ye haue heard) seemed then alone to be sufficient. Moreouer, I thinke it good to aduertise you in this place, that this Pleimond archbishop of Canturburie (of whome ye haue heard before) was the 19 in number from Augustine the first archbishop there: for after Brightwold that was the 8 in number, and first of the English nation that gouerned the sée, succeeded Taduin, that sat three yeeres, Notelin fiue yeeres, Cuthbert 18 yéeres, Breth win thrée yéeres, Lambert 27 yéeres, Adelard 15 yéeres, Wilfred 28 yéeres, Theologildus or Pleogildus 3 yéeres, Celuotus or Chelutus 10 yéeres. Then succéeded Aldred of whome king Edward receiued the crowne, and he was predecessor to Pleimond. A Hen. Hunt. litle before the death of king Edward Sithrike the king of Northumberland killed his brother Nigellus, and then king Reinold conquered the citie of Yorke.