Contention amongest the peeres and states about succession to the crowne, the moonkes remoued and the canons and secular priests restored by Alfer duhe of Mercia and his adherents, a blasing starre with the euents insuing the same, the rood of Winchester speaheth, a prettie shift of moonks to defeat the priests of their possessions, the controuersie betweene the moonks and the priests ended by a miracle of archbishop Dunstane, great hope that Edward would tread his fathers steps, the reuerent lone he bare his stepmother queene Alfred and hir sonne Egelred, hir diuslish purpose to murther Edward hir slepsonne accomplished, his obscure funerall in respect of pompe, but famous by moanes of miracles wrought by and about his scpulture, queene Alfred repenting hir of the said pre pensed murther, dooth penance, and imploieth hir substance in good woorkes as satisfactorie for hir sinnes, king Edwards bodie remoued, and solemnlie buried by Alfer duke of Mercia, who was eaten vp with lice for being against the said Edwards aduancement to the crowne, queene Alfreds offense by no meanes excusable.
The Xxv. Chapter.
AFTER the deceasse of king Edgar, there was some strife and contention amongst the
lords & péeres of the realme about the succession of the crowne: for Alfred the mother of
Some write that the father king Edgar appointed Edward to suceced him. Siman Dun. John Cops.
Egelredus or Ethelredus, and diuers other of hir opinion, would gladlie haue aduanced the same Egelredus to the rule: but the archbishop Dunstan taking in his hands the baner of the crucifix, presented his elder brother Edward vnto the lords as they were assembled togither, and there pronounced him king, not withstanding that both queene Alfred and hir friends, namelie Alfer the duke of Mercia were sore against him, especiallie for that he was begot in vnlawfull bed of Elfleda the nun, for which offense he did seuen yeares penance, and not for lieng with Wilfrid (as maister Fox thinketh.) But Dunstane iudging (as is to be trought)
Alfer duke of Mereia and other immediatlie vpon Edgars death before the crowne was established, remoned the moonka and restored the canens. Simal Dun.
that Edward was more fit for their behoofe to continue the world in the former course as Edgar had left it, than his brother Egelred (whose mother and such as tooke part with hir vnder hir sonnes authoritie were likelie inough to turne all vpside downe) vsed the matter so, that with helpe of Oswald the archbishop of Yorke and other bishops, abbats, and certeine of the nobilitie, as the earle of Essex and such like, he preuailed in his purpose, so that (as before is said) the said Edward, being the second or that name which gouerned this land before the conquest, was admitted king, and began his reigne ouer England in the yeare of our Lord 975, in the third yeare of the enmperour Otho the second, in the 20 yeare of the reigne of L ar king of France, and about the fourth yeare of Cumelerne king of Scotland. He was
consecrated by archb. Dunstane at Kingston vpon Thames, to the great griefe of his mother in law Alfred and hir friends. ¶ About the beginning of his reigne a blasing starre starre was seene,
signifieng (as was thought) the miserable haps that followed. And first there insued barrennesse of ground, and thereby famine amongest the people, and morraine of cattell.
Also duke Alfer or Elfer of Mercia, and other noble men destroied the abbies which king
Alfer or Elfer duke of Mercia.
Edgar and bishop Adelwold had builded within the limits of Mercia. The priests or canons, which had beene expelled in Edgars time out of the prebends and benefices, began to complaine of the wrongs that were doone to them, in that they had beene put out of possession from their liuings, alleging it to be a great, offense and miserable case, that a stranger should come and remoue an old inhabitant, for such maner of dooing could not please God, not yet be allowed of anie good man, which ought of reason to doubt least the same should hap to him which he might sée to haue béene an other mans vndooing About this mattrer was hard hold, for manie of the temporall lords, and namelie the same Alfer, iudged that the priests
Iohn. Copg. Hil Malm. Run, Higd. Mall. West. Simon Dun.
had wrong. I so much that they remoued the moonks out of their places, and brought into the monasteries secular priests with their wiues. But Edelwin duke of the Eastangles, & Alfred his brother, with Brightnoth or Brightnode earle of Essex, withstood this dooing, & gathering an armie, with great valiancie mainteined the moonks in their houses, within the
countrie of Eastangles. Herevpon were councels holden, as at Winchester, at Kirthling in Eastangle, and at Calne.
At Winchester, when the matter was brought to that passe that the priests were like to haue had theirpurpose, an image of the rood that stood there in the refectorie where they sat in councell,
A pretic shift of the moonks to disappoint the priests. Polydor.
vttered certeine woords in this wise; God forbid it should be so, God forbid it should be so: ye iudged well once, but ye may not change well againe. As though (saith Polydor Virgil) the moonks had more right, which had bereft other men of their possessions, than the priests which required restitution of their owne. But (saith he) bicause the image of Christ hanging on the crosse was thought to speake these words, such credit was giuen thereto, as it had béene an oracle, that the priests had their sute dashed, and all the trouble was ceassed. So the moonks held those possessions, howsoeuer they came to them, by the helpe of God, or rather (as saith the same Polydor) by the helpe of man. For there were euen then diuers that thoight this to be rather an oracle of Phebus than of God, that is to say, not published by Gods power, but by the fraud and craftie deceit of men.
The matter therefore was not so quieted, but that vpon new trouble an other councell was
had at a manour house belonging to the king, called Calne, where they that were appointed to haue the hearing of the matter, sat in an vpper loft. The king by reason of his yoong yéeres was spared, so that he came not there. Héere as they were busied in arguing the matter, either part laieng for himselfe what could be said, Dunstane was sore reuiled, and had sundrie reproches laid against him: but suddenlie euen in the verie heat of their communication, the ioists of the loft failed, and downe came all the companie, so that manie were slaine and hurt,
Dunstane by woorking miracles had his will, when arguments failed.
but Dunstane alone standing vpon one of the ioists that fell not, escaped safe and sound. And so this miracle with the other made an end of the controuersie betwéene the priests and moonks, all the English people following the mind of the archbishop Dunstane, who by meanes thereof had his will.
In this meane while, king Edward ruling himselfe by good counsell of such as were thought discréet and sage persons, gaue great hope to the world that he would walke in his fathers vertuous steps, as alreadie he well began, and bearing alwaie a reuerence to his nother in law,
Polydor. ill. Malms.
and a brotherlie loue to hir sonne Egelred, vsed himselfe as became him towards them both. Afterward by chance as he was hunting in a foruest néere the castell of Corfe, where his mother in law and his brother the said Egelred then soiourned, when all his companie were spred abroad in following the game, so that he was left alone, he tooke the waie streight
The wicked purpose of quéene Altred.
vnto his mother in lawes house, to visit hir and his brother The quéene hearing that he was come, was verie glad thereof, for that she had occasion offered to woorke that which she had of long time before imagined, that was, to slea the king hir sonne in law, that hir owne sonne might inioy the garland. Wherefore she required him to alight, which he in no wise would yéeld vnto, but said that he had stolne from his companie, and was onelie come to see hir and his brother, and to drinke with them, and therefore would returne to the forrest againe to sée some more sport.
The shameful murther of K. Edward.
The queene perceiuing that he would not alight, caused drinke to be fetched, and as he had the cup at his mouth, by hir appointment, one of hir seruants stroke him into the bodie with a knife, wherevpon féeling himselfe wounded, he set spurres to the horsse thinking to gallop awaie, and so to get to his companie. But being hurt to the death, he fell from his horsse, so as one of his féet was fastened in the stirrup, by reason whereof his horsse drew him foorth
Matth. West. Fabian. Sim. Dun. Wil. Malm.
through woods and launds, & the bloud which gushed out of the wound shewed token of his death to such as followed him, and the waie to the place where the horsse had left him. That place was called Corphes gate or Corfes gate. His bodie being found was buried without anie solemne funeralls at Warham. For they which enuied that he should inioy the crowne, enuied also the buriall of his bodie within the church: but the memorie of his fame could not so secretlie be buried with the bodie, as they imagined. For sundrie miracles shewed at the place where his bodie was interred, made the same famous (as diuerse haue reported) for there was sight restored to the blind, health to the sicke, and hearing to the deafe, which are
easilier to be told than beleeued.
Queene Alfred also would haue ridden to the place where he laie, mooued with repentance (as hath beene said) but the horsse wherevpon she rode would not come neere the graue, for anie thing that could be doone to him. Neither by changing the said horsse could the matter be holpen: for euen the same thing happened to the other horsses. Heerevpon the woman perceiued hir great offense towards God for murthering the innocent, and did so repent hir afterward for the same, that besides the chastising of hir bodie in fasting, and other kind of penance, she imploied all hir substance and patrimonie on the poore, and in building
Building of abbeies in those daies was thought to be a full satisfaction for all maner of sinnes.
and reparing of churches and monasteries. She founded two houses of nuns (as is said) the one at Warwell, the other at Ambresburie, and finallie professed hirselfe a nun in one of them, that is to say, at Warwell, which house she builded (as some affirme) in remembrance of hir first husband that was slaine there by king Edgar for hir sake (as before is mentioned.)
The bodie of this Edward the second, and surnamed the martyr, after that it had remained thrée yéeres at Warham where it was first buried, was remooued vnto Shaftesburie, and with great reuerence buried there by the forenamed Alfer or Elfer, duke of Mercia, who also did
sore repent himselfe, in that he had beene against the aduancement of the said king Edward (as ye haue heard.) But yet did not he escape woorthie punishment: for within one yéere after, he was eaten to death with lice (if the historie be true.) King Edward came to his death
after he had reigned thrée yéeres, or (as other write) thrée yéeres and eight moneths. ¶ Whatsoeuer
hath béene reported by writers of the murther committed on the person of this king Edward, sure it is that if he were base begotten (as by writers of no meane credit it should appéere he was in déed) great occasion vndoubtedlie was giuen vnto quéene Alfred to seeke reuenge for the wrongfull keeping backe of hir son Egelred from his rightfull succession to the crowne: but whether that Edward was legitimate or not, she might yet haue deuised some other lawfull meane to haue come by hir purpose, and not so to haue procured the murther of the yoong prince in such vnlawfull maner. For hir dooing therein can neither be woorthilie allowed, nor throughlie excused, although those that occasioned the mischiefe by aduancing hir stepsonne to an other mans right, deserued most blame in this matter.