A great waste by an inundation or inbreaking of the sea, a tribute of 30000 pounds to the Danes, king Egelred holdeth a councell at Oxford, where he causeth two noble men of the Danes to be murdered by treason, Edmund the kings eldest sonne marieth one of their wiues, and seizeth vpon his predecessors lands; Cnute the Danish king returneth into England, the Danish and English armies encounter, both susteine losse; Cnute maketh waste of certeine shires, Edmund preuenteth Edriks purposed treason, Edrike de Streona flieth to the Danes, the Westernemen yeeld to Cnute; Mercia refuseth to be subiect vnto him, Warwiheshire wasted by the Danes; Egelred assembleth an armie against them in vaine; Edmund & Vtred with ioined forces lay waste such countries and people as became subiect to Cnute; his policie to preuent their purpose, through what countries he passed, Vtred submitteth himselfe to Cnute, and deliuereth pledges, he is put to death and his lands alienated, Cnute pursueth Edmund to London, and prepareth to besiege the citie, the death and buriall of Egelred, his wiues, what issue he had by them, his mfortunatenesse, and to what affections and vices he was inclined, his too late and bootlesseseeking to releeue his decaied kingdome.
The Eight Chapter.
BUT now to returne to our purpose, and to shew what chanced in England after the
departure of Cnute. In the same yeare to the forsaid accustomed mischiefes an vnwoonted misaduenture happened: for the sea rose with such high spring-tides, that ouerflowing the
Matt West. Simon Dun. Wil. Malm. Matt. West.
countries next adioining, diuers villages with the inhabitants were drowned and destroied. Also to increase the peoples miserie, king Egelred commanded, that 30000 pounds should be leuied to paie the tribute due to the Danes which lay at Greenewich. This yeare also king
A councell at Oxford. Sigeferd and Morcad murdered.
Egelred held a councell at Oxford, at the which a great number of noble men were present, both Danes and Englishmen, and there did the king cause Sigeferd and Morcad two noble personages of the Danes to be murdered within his owne chamber, by the traitorous practise of Edrike de Streona, which accused them of some conspiracie. But the quarell was onelie as men supposed, for that the king had a desire to their goods and possessions.
Their seruants tooke in hand to haue reuenged the death of their maisters, but were beaten backe, wherevpon they fled into the steeple of saint Friswids church, and kept the same, till fire was set vpon the place, and so they were burned to death. The wife of Sigeferd was taken, & sent to Malmsburie, being a woman of high fame and great worthinesse, wherevpon the kings eldest sonne named Edmund, tooke occasion vpon pretense of other businesse to go thither, and there to sée hir, with whome he fell so far in loue, that he tooke and maried hir. That doone, he required to haue hir husbands lands and posessions,
Edmund the kings eldest sonne marrieth the widow of Sigeferd.
which were an earles liuing, and lay in Northumberland. And when the king refused to graunt his request, he went thither, and seized the same possessions and lands into his hands, without hauing anie commission so to doo, finding the farmers and tenants there readie to receiue him for their lord.
Whilest these things were a dooing, Cnute hauing made his prouision of ships and men,
Cnute returneth into England.
with all necessarie furniture (as before ye haue heard) for his returne into England, set forward with full purpose, either to recouer the realme out of Egelreds hands, or to die in the quarrell. Herevpon he landed at Sandwich, and first earle Turkill obteined licence to
go against the Englishmen that were assembled to resist the Danes, and finding them at a place called Scorastan, he gaue them the ouerthrow, got a great bootie, and returned therewith to the ships. After this, Edrike gouernor of Norwaie made a rode likewise into an other part of the countrie, & with a rich spoile, and manie prisoners, returned vnto the nauie. After this iournie atchiued thus by Edrike, Cnute commanded that they should not waste the countrie anie more, but gaue order to prepare all things readie to besiege London: but before he attempted that enterprise, as others write, he marched foorth into Kent, or rather
Wil. Malm. Hen. Hunt. Matth. West. Sim. Dun.
sailing round about that countrie, tooke his iournie westward, & came to Fromundham, and after departing from thence, wasted Dorsetshire, Summersetshire, & Wiltshire.
King Egelred in this meane time lay sicke at Cossam; and his sonne Edmund had got
King Egelred sicke. Matth. West.
togither a mightie hoast, howbeit yer he came to ioine battell with his enimies, he was aduertised, that earle Edrike went about to betraie him, and therefore he withdrew with
Edrike de Straona fleeth to the Danes. Simon Dun. The west countrie. The people of Mercia would not yéeld. Matth. West. Hen. Hunt.
the armie into a place of suertie. But Edrike to make his tratorous purpose manifest to the whole world, fled to the enimies with fortie of the kings ships, fraught with Danish souldiers. Herevpon, all the west countrie submitted it selfe vnto Cnute, who receiued pledges of the chiefe lords and nobles, and then set forward to subdue them of Mercia. The people of that countrie would not yéeld, but determined to defend the quarrell and title of king Egelred, so long as they might haue anie capteine that would stand with them, and helpe to order them. In the yeare 1016, in Christmas, Cnute and earle Edrike passed the Thames
at Kirkelade, & entring into Mercia, cruellie began with fire and sword to waste and destroie the countrie, and namelie Warwikeshire.
Warwikeshire wasted by the Danes. King Egelred recouered of his sicknesse. He assembleth an armie in vaine.
In the meane time was king Egelred recouered of his sicknesse, and sent summons foorth to raise all his power, appointing euerie man to resort vnto him, that he might incounter the enimies and giue them battell. But yet when his people were assembled, he was warned to take héed vnto himselfe, and in anie wise to beware how he gaue battell, for his owne subiects were purposed to betraie him. Herevpon the armie brake vp, & king Egelred withdrew to London, there to abide his enimies within the walles, with whom in the field he doubted to trie the battell. His sonne Edmund got him to Vtred, an earle of great
Wil Malm. Edmund king Egelreds sonne.
power, inhabiting beyond Humber, and persuading him to ioine his forces with his, forth they went to waste those countries that were become subiect to Cnute, as Staffordshire, Leicestershire, and Shropshire, not sparing to exercise great crueltie vpon the inhabitants, as a punishment for their reuolting, that others might take example thereby.
But Cnute perceiuing whereabout they went, politikelie deuised to frustrate their purpose,
Cnute, what countries he passed through.
and with dooing of like hurt in all places where he came, passed through Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire, Huntingtonshire, and so through the fens came to Stamford, and then entred into Lincolnshire, and from thence into Notinghamshire, & so into Yorkeshire, not sparing to doo what mischiefe might be deuised in all places where he came. Vtred aduertised hereof, was constreined to depart home to saue his owne countrie from present destruction, and therefore comming backe into Northumberland, & perceiuing himselfe not able to resist
Earle Vtred deliuered pledges to Cnute.
the puissant force of his enimies, was constreined to deliuer pledges, and submit himselfe vnto Cnute. But yet was he not hereby warranted from danger, for shortlie after he was taken, and put to death, and then were his lands giuen vnto one Iricke or Iricius, whome
afterward Cnute did banish out of the realme, because that he did attempt to chalenge like authoritie to him in all points as Cnute himseife had. After that Cnute had subdued the Northumbers, he pursued Edmund, till he heard that he had taken London for
Cnute prepareth to beslege London. King Egelred departed this life. Simon Dun. Matth. West. He is buried in the church of S. Paul at Loudon.
his refuge, and staied there with his father. Then did Cnaute take his ships, and came about to the coasts of Kent, preparing to besiege the citie of London.
In the meane time, king Egelred sore worne with long sicknesse, departed this life on the 23 Aprill, being saint Georges day, or (as others say) on saint Gregories day, being the 12 of March, but I take this to be an error growen, by mistaking the feast-day of saint Gregorie for saint George. He reigned the tearme of 37 yeares. or little lesse. His bodie was buried in the church of saint Pauls, in the north Ile besids the quéer, as by a memoriall on the wall it maie appeare. He had two wiues (as before is mentioned.) By Elgina his first wife he had issue thrée sonnes, Edmund, Edwine, and Adedstane; besides one daughter named Egiua. By his second wife Emma, daughter to Richard the first of that name, duke of Normandie, and sister to Richard the second, he had two sonnes, Alfrid and Edward.
This Egelred (as you haue heard) had euill successe in his warres against the Danes, and besides the calamitie that fell thereby to his people, manie other miseries oppressed this land in his daies, not so much through his lacke of courage and slouthfull negligence, as by reason of his presumptuous pride, whereby he alienated the hearts of his people from him.
The pride of king Egelred alienated the harts of his people.
His affections he could not rule, but was led by them without order of reason, for he did not onlie disherit diuerse of his owne English subiects without apparant cause of offense by plaine forged cauillations; and also caused all the Danes to be murdered through his realme in one day, by some light suspicion of their euill meanings: but also gaue himseife to lecherous lusts, in abusing his bodie with naughtie strumpets, forsaking the bed of his owne lawfull wife, to the great infamie & shame of that high degrée of maiestie, which by his kinglie office he bare and susteined. To conclude, he was from his tender youth more apt to idle rest, than to the exercise of warres; more giuen to pleasures of the bodie, than to anie vertues of the mind: although that toward his latter end, being growen into age, and taught by long experience of worldlie affaires, and proofe of passed miseries, he sought (though in vaine) to haue recouered the decaied state of his common wealth and countrie.
¶ In this Egelreds time, and (as it is recorded by a British chronographer) in the yéere of our Lord 984, one Cadwalhon, the second sonne of Ieuaf tooke in hand the gouernance of Northwales, and first made warre with Ionauall his coosen, the sonne of Meyric, and right heire to the land, and slue him, but Edwall the yoongest brother escaped awaie priuilie. The yéere following, Meredith the sonne of Owen king or prince of Southwales, with all his power entered into Northwales, and in fight slue Cadwalhon the sonne of Ieuaf, and Meyric his brother, and conquered the land to himselfe. Wherein a man maie sée how God
Sée the historie of Cambria pag. 62, 63.
punished the wrong, which Iago and Ieuaf the sonnes of Edwall Voell did to their eldest brother Meyric, who was first disherited, and afterward his eies put out, and one of his sonnes slaine. For first Ieuaf was imprisoned by Iago; then Iago with his sonne Constantine, by Howell the son of Ieuaf: and afterward the said Howell, with his brethren Cadwalhon and Meyric, were slaine and spoiled of all their lands.