The Holinshed Project

Holinshed Project Home

The Texts

Previous | Next

5.96. Edgar.


Compare 1587 edition: 1 2 3 4 5 [figure appears here on page 231] Edgar. EDgar the ſeconde ſon of Edmonde late Kyng of Englande, af|ter the deceaſſe of hys elder brother ye fore|ſayd Edwin, beganne hys raigne ouer this Realme of England in the yere of our Lord God .959.959 in the .22. yeare of the Emperour Otho the firſt, in the fourth yere of the raigne of Lotha|rius K. of France .510. almoſt ended after the cõ|ming of the Saxons .124. after the arriuall of the Danes, and in the laſt yeare of Malcolme K. of Scotlãd.Polidor. He was Crowned and ſacred at Bath, or as ſome ſay, at Kingſtõ vpõ Thames, by O|do the Archbiſhop of Canterbury, being as then not paſt .16. yeres of age, when hee was thus ad|mitted K. Hee was no leſſe endowed with com|mendable giftes of mind, than with ſtrength and force of body.Edgar a fauo|rer of Monks. He was a great fauorer of Monks, and eſpecially hee had Dunſtane in high eſtima|tion. Aboue all things in this world he regarded peace, and ſtudyed dayly howe to preſerue the ſame, to the commoditie and aduancement of his ſubiects. And when he had eſtabliſhed thyngs in good quiet, and ſet an order in matters as ſeemed to him beſt for the peaceable gouernement of hys ſubiectes, he prepared a great nauie of Shippes, and deuiding them in three partes,The diligent prouiſion of K. Edgar for defence of the Realme. hee appoynted euery part to a quarter of the Realm, to waſte a|bout the coaſt, that no foraine enimie ſhoulde ap|proch the lãd, but that they might bee encountred and put backe before they could take land. And e|uery yeare after Eaſter, he vſed to giue order, that his Ships ſhoulde aſſemble togither in theyr due places. And then would he with the Eaſt nauie, ſaile to the Weſt parties of his Realme, & ſen|ding thoſe Ships backe, he would with the Weſt nauie ſayle into the North partes, and with the North nauie came backe againe into the Eaſt. This cuſtome he vſed, that hee mighte ſcoure the Seas of all Pirates and Theeues. In the Win|ter ſeaſon and ſpring time, he would ride through the prouinces of his Realme, ſearching out howe the Iudges and greate Lordes demeaned them|ſelues in the adminiſtration of Iuſtice, ſharply puniſhing thoſe that were found faulty of extor|tion, or had done otherwiſe in any poynte than dutie required. In all things he vſed ſuche poli|tike diſcretion, that neither was he put in daun|ger by treaſon of his ſubiects,VVil. Malm nor moleſted by fo|rayne enimies. He cauſed diuers Kings to binde themſelues by oth, to bee true and faithfull vnto him, as Kinadius or rather Induf king of Scot|land, Malcolme K. of Cumberland,Maſcufius. Maſcutius and Archpirate as we may call him a Maſter Ro|uer, and alſo all the Kings of the Welchmen,Kings of Welchmen. Geff [...]rib Hu|val as ſame copies haue. as Duffuall, Gyffrith, Huvall, Iacob, and Iudit|hill, all which came to his court, and by their ſo|lemne othes receyued, ſweare to bee at his com|mandement: and further for more manifeſt teſti|monie thereof, he hauing them with him at Che|ſter, cauſed them to enter into a Barge vpon the water of Dee,King Edgar roweth on the water of Dee. and placing himſelfe in the fore|part of the Barge at the helme, cauſed thoſe eight high Princes to rowe the Barge vp and downe ye water, ſhewing therby his princely prerogatiue and royall magnificence, in that he might vſe the ſeruice of ſo many kings that were his ſubiectes. And therevpon he ſaid (as hath bin reported) that then mighte his ſucceſſors accompte themſelues kings of England, when they enioyed ſuche pre|rogatiue of high & ſupreme honor. The fame of this noble Prince was ſpredde ouer al, as well on this ſide the Sea, as beyõd, in ſo much that great reſort of ſtraungers chanced in his dayes, whyche came euer into this land to ſerue him, & to ſee the ſtate of his Court, as Saxons & other, yea & alſo Danes, whiche became very familiar with hym. Ran. Higd. King Edgar fauoreth Danes. He fauored in deede the Danes (as hath bin ſayd) more than ſtood with ye cõmoditie of his ſubiects, for vnneth was anye ſtreete in Englande, but Danes had their dwelling in ye ſame amongſt ye Engliſhmẽ, wherby came great harme: for wher as the Danes by nature were great drinkers,Engliſh lear|ned to quaffe of the Danes. the Engliſhmen by cõtinuall conuerſation with thẽ learned the ſame vice. King Edgar to reforme in part ſuch exceſſiue quaffing as thẽ begã to grow in vſe, cauſed by ye procuremẽt of Dũſtane,VVil. Mal. nailes to be ſet in cups of a certaine meaſure, marked for ye purpoſe, yt none ſhuld drinke more thã was aſ|ſigned by ſuch meaſured cups Engliſhmen alſo EEBO page image 232 learned of the Saxõs,Engliſhmen larne other [...]oes of ſtran|gers. Flemings, and other ſtrã|gers, their peculier kind of vices, as of the Saxõs a diſordred fierceneſſe of mind, of the Flemings a feeble tenderneſſe of body, where before, they re|ioyced in their own ſimplicitie, and eſteemed not the lewde and vnprofitable maners of ſtrangers. [figure appears here on page 232] Dunſtane was made Biſhoppe of Worceter, [...]unſtans pre| [...]rrement. & had alſo the ad|miniſtration of the See of Lõ|don committed vnto him. He was in ſuch fa|uor with ye K. that hee ruled moſt things at his pleaſure.Ethelwolde made biſhop of VVinche|ter. E|thelwold which beeyng firſte a Monke of Gla|ſtenbury, and after Abbot of Abington, was like|wiſe made Biſhop of Wincheſter, and might doe very much with the K. Alſo Oſwalde which had bin a Monke in the Avbey of Flory in Fraunce,Oſwalde. Floriacum. & after was made Biſhop of Worceter, and from thence remoued to the See of Yorke,Monkes muſt needes write much in praiſe of Edgar, who had men of their coate in ſuch eſtimatiõ was highly in fauour with this King, ſo that by theſe three Prelates he was moſt councelled. Iuſtice in hys dayes was ſtraightly obſerued, for although hee were courteous and gentle towards his friendes, yet was he ſharp and hard to offenders, ſo that no perſon of what eſtate or degree ſo euer he was, eſ|caped worthy puniſhment if he did tranſgreſſe the lawes and ordinances of the Realme. Ther was no priuy theefe nor common robber that durſt lay hands of other mens goods but that he might looke to make amendes with loſſe of his lyfe if hee were knowen to be giltie. For howe myghte men that did offend, thinke to eſcape his hands, whych deuiſeth wayes howe to ridde the countrey of all wilde rauening beaſtes, that liued vppon ſucking the bloud of others?A tribute in [...]tituted of Welfeskins. For as it is ſaid, he appointed Iudweall or Ludweal K. of Wales, to preſente him with three hundred Woulfes yerely in name of a tribute, but after three yeares ſpace, there was not a Wolfe to be found, and ſo that tribute ceaſ|ſed in the fourth yere after it began to be payed.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 2 3 Osborne and Capgrauehold that she was not his wyfe, but a Nunne. VV. Mal. In this meane time, Alfred the wife of Kyng Edgare, as ſome ſaye, or rather as other write, his concubine, dyed, of whome he had begote a ſon named Edward. The death of this woman oc|caſioned the K. to committe an heynous offence. For albeit the ſame time, the fame wẽt, that Hor|gerius Duke of Cornewal,Orgar. or rather Deuonſhire had a daughter named Alfred, a Damoſell of ex|cellent beautie, whome Edgar minding to haue in marriage, appointed one of his noble men cal|led Earle Ethelwolde, to goe with al ſpeede into Cornewall or Deuonſhire, to ſee if the yong La|dyes beautie aunſwered the report that wente of hir, then hee to breake the matter to hir father in his behalfe. Ethelwold being a yong iolly Gen|tleman, tooke his iourney into Cornewall,Erle Ethel|wold ſupp [...]|ted the king of his wyfe. & com|ming to ye Duke, was well receiued, & had a ſight of his daughter, wt whoſe beautie he was ſtraight rauiſhed ſo farre in loue, that not regarding the kings pleaſure which had ſent him thither, he begã to purchaſe the good will of both father & daugh|ter for himſelfe, and did ſo much, that he obteyned the ſame indeede. Heerevpon returning to the K. hee enformed him that the Damoſell was not of ſuch beautie and comely perſonage as mighte hee thought worthy to matche in marriage with hys Maieſtie. And ſhortly after perceyuing the kyngs mind by his wrongfull miſreport to be turned, & nothing bent that way, he began to ſue to hym yt hee mighte with his fauour marry the ſame Da|moſell: which the K. graunted, as one that cared not for hir, bicauſe of the credite whiche he gaue to Ethelwolds words. And ſo by this means E|thelwold obteined Alfrid in marriage, which was to his owne deſtruction, as the caſe fell out. For whẽ the fame of hir paſſing beautie did ſpred ouer all ye Realme now that ſhe was married & came more abroade in ſight of the people, the K. chan|ced to heare therof, and deſirous to ſee hir, deuiſed vnder colour of hunting to come vnto the houſe of Ethelwolde, and ſo did: Where he had no ſoo|ner ſet his eye vpon hir, but he was ſo farre wrap|ped in ye chaine of burning concupiſcence,King Edgar ſeeketh the deſtruction of earle Ethel|wold. that to obteine his purpoſe, he ſhortly after contriued E|thelwolds death, & married his wife. Some ſay, that the woman kindled the brand of purpoſe: for where it was knowen, that the K. would ſee hir. Ethelwold willed hir in no wiſe to trimme vp hir ſelfe, but rather to diſfigure hir in foule garmẽts, & ſome euill fauored attire, that hir natiue beautie ſhould not appeare, but ſhee perceiuing howe the matter went, of ſpight ſet foorthe hir ſelfe to ye vt|termoſt, ſo that ye K. vpon the firſt ſight of hir be|came ſo farre enamored of hir beautie, that taking hir huſbande foorthe with him on hunting into a forreſt or wood called then Werlewood,King Edgar a murtherer. and after Horewood, not ſhewing that hee meante hym any hurt, till at length hee had gote him within ye thicke of the woode, where hee ſuddaynely ſtroke him through with his darte, and as his baſtarde ſon came to ye place, the K. aſked hym how he li|ked ye maner of hunting, wherevnto he anſwered, very wel if it like your grace, for yt that liketh you ought not to diſpleaſe me: wt which anſwer ye K. was ſo pacified, yt he indeuored by pretendyng his fauor towards the ſonne to alleuiate the tyranni|call murder of the father. Then did the K. marry EEBO page image 233 the Counteſſe Alfred, & of hir begat two ſons, Ed|mond which died yõg, & Etheldred or Egelthred.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Beſides this cruell acte wrought by king Ed|gar for the ſatiſfying of his fleſhly luſt, hee alſo played another part greatly to the ſtayne of hys honour, mooued alſo by wanton loue, wyth a yong Damſel named Wilfrid, for after yt ſhe had (to auoyde the daunger of him) eyther profeſſed hir ſelfe a Nunne, or elſe for a colour (as the moſt part of wryters agree) got hir ſelfe into a Nunrie, and clad hir in Nunnes weede, he tooke hir forth of hir Cloyſter, and lay by hir ſundrie tymes, and begat on hir a daughter named Edith, who com|ming to conuenient age, was made a Nunne.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 2 His licencious life and in|continencie.A thirde example of his incontinencie, is writ|ten by Authours, and that is this. It chaunced on a time that he lodged one night at Andauer, and hauing a minde to a Lordes daughter there, he commaunded that ſhe ſhould be brought to his bed, but the mother of the Gentlewoman woulde not that hir daughter ſhoulde be defloured: and therefore in the darke of the night, brought one of hir mayd ſeruants, and layde hir in the kings bed, ſhe being both fayre, proper and pleaſant. In the morning when the day beganne to appeare, ſhee made haſte to ariſe: and being aſked of the king why ſhe ſo haſted, that I may goe to my dayes worke (if it pleaſe your grace) quoth ſhe. Herewith ſhe being ſtayed by the king, as it were againſt hir will, ſhee fell downe on hir knees, and requyred of him that ſhe might be made free, in guerdon of hir nights worke. For (ſayth ſhe) it is not for your honour, that the woman whiche hath taſted the pleaſure of the kings bodie ſhould any more ſuf|fer ſeruitude vnder the rule and appoyntment of a ſharpe and rough miſtres.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 The King then being moued in his ſpirites, laughed at the matter, though not from the heart, (as he that tooke great indignation at the doings of the Ducheſſe) and pitied the caſe of the poore wenche. But yet in fine (turning the matter to a bourd) he pardoned all the parties, and aduaun|ced the wenche to high honour, farre aboue thoſe that had rule of hir afore: ſo that ſhee ruled them (willed they nilled they) for he vſed hir as his par|amour, till time yt he maryed the foreſaid Alfrede.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 For theſe youthfull partes, and namely for the rauiſhing of Wilfrida (which though ſhe were no Nunne) yet the offence ſeemed right haynous, for that he ſhoulde once touche any woman ſha|dowed vnder that habite,Note the depe hypocriſie of Dunſtan. hee greatly diſpleaſed Dunſtan, ſo that by him hee was put to hys vij. yeares penance, and kept from the crowne till the .xij. yeare of his raigne or more.Ran. Higd. Fabian out of Guido de Columna. VVil. Malm. For ſome write that hee was not crowned nor annoynted king, till the .xxx. yeare of his age, which ſhoulde be about the .xiij. or .xiiij. yeare of his raigne, by that account, ſithe hee entred into the rule of the kingdome about the .xvj. yeare of his age.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 In deede one Authour witneſſeth, that he was ſacred at Bathe on a Whitſunday, the .xiij. yeare of his raigne,Hen. Hunt. Ran. Higd. and that by Dunſtan Archbiſhop of Canterburie, and Oſwolde Archbiſhop of Yorke. But ſome which ſuppoſe that he was ſacred king immediately vpon the death of Edridus, affyrme that he was crowned and annointed by the Arch|biſhop Odo,Polidor. Dunſtan as then remayning in ex|ile, from whence he was immediately reuoked by Edgar, and firſt made Biſhop of Worceter (as hath beene ſayde) and after the deceaſſe of Odo was aduaunced to be Archbiſhop of Canterburie.Mat. VVeſt Simon Dun. But by ſome writers it appeareth, that Dunſtan was reuoked out of exile immediately vpon the partition of the Realme betwixte Edwyn and Edgar, which chaunced in the yeare .957. by the rebellion of the people of Mercia, and others (as before ye haue heard.) And that in the yeare fol|lowing the Archbiſhop Odo died, After whome ſucceeded Alfin biſhop of Wincheſter, the whiche alſo died the ſame yeare that K. Edwin deceaſed, as he went to fetch his Pal from Rome, and then Brighthelme Biſhop of Dorcheſter was elected Archbiſhop. But bycauſe he was not ſufficient to diſcharge ſo great an office, by king Edgars com|maundement hee was conſtrayned to giue place to Dunſtan.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Toward the latter end of king Edgars dayes, Fabian. Ran. Higd. The Welch men rebell a [...] are chaſtiſed. the Welchmen moued ſome rebellion agaynſte him. Wherevpon he aſſembled an armie, and en|tring the Countrey of Glamorgan, did muche hurt in the ſame, chaſtiſing the inhabitants right ſharpely for theyr rebellious attempts.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Amongſt other ſpoyles taken in thoſe parties at that time by the men of warre, the Bell of S. Ellutus was taken away, and hanged aboute a horſes necke, and (as hath beene reported) in the after noone, it chaunced that king Edgar layde him downe to reſt, wherevpon in ſleepe there ap|peared one vnto him, and ſmote him on the breaſt with a Speare. By reaſon of which viſion hee cauſed all things that had beene taken away, to be reſtored againe. But within .ix. dayes after the king dyed.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 Whether any ſuch thing chaunced, VVil. Malm H. Hunt. King Edgar departed th [...] life. or that he had any ſuch viſion, it forceth not. But truth it is that in the .xxxvij. yeare of his age, after hee had raigned .xvj. yeares and two Monethes he depar|ted this life, the .viij. daye of Iuly, and was bu|ried at Glaſtenburie.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 This Edgar is higly renowmed of writers for ſuch princely qualities as appeared in him, but chiefly for that hee was ſo beneficiall to the Church, namely to Monkes, the aduauncement of whom he greatly ſought,Wherefore Edgar is pra [...]+ſed of ſome writers. both in buylding Ab|bayes newe from the grounde, in reparing thoſe that were decayed: alſo by enriching them wyth EEBO page image 234 great reuenues, and in connecting Collegiate Churches into Monaſteries, remouing ſecular Prieſts, and bringing in Monks in their places. There paſſed no one yeare of his raigne, wherein he founded not one Abbay or other. The Abbay of Glaſtenburie which his father had begon he fini|ſhed. The Abbay of Abingdon alſo he accompli|ſhed and ſet in good order. The Abbayes of Pe|terborough and Thorney hee eſtabliſhed. The Nunrie of Wilton he founded & richly endowed, where his daughter Editha was profeſſed, and at length became Abbateſſe there.

[figure appears here on page 234]

Compare 1587 edition: 1 2 3 To be briefe, he builded (as the Chronicles re|corde) to the number of .xl. [...]abian. [...]n. Higd. [...]en. Hunt. Abbayes and Mona|ſteries, in ſome of which he placed Monks, and in ſome Nunnes. By his example in thoſe his dayes, other noble men, as well Prelates as of the Laitie, did begin the foũdation of ſundrie Ab|bays and Monaſteries: as Adelwolde Biſhop of Wincheſter buylded the Abbay of Ely, and as ſome ſay Peterbourgh, [...]il. Malm. & Thorney, though they were eſtabliſhed by the king (as before is mentio|ned.) Alſo Earle Aylewin at the exhortation of the ſame Biſhop Adelwold, builded the Abbay of Ramſey,Hunt. though ſome attribute the doing thereof vnto Oſwold the Archbiſhop of Yorke, and ſome to king Edward the elder. But to conclude, the religious orders of Monkes & Nunnes in theſe dayes floriſhed, [...]t. VVeſt. [...]nkes eſtee| [...] and ſecu| [...]ori [...]ts litle [...]arded. & the ſtate of ſecular Prieſts was ſmally regarded, inſomuch that they were con|ſtrayned to auoyd out of diuerſe Colledges, and leaue the ſame vnto Monks, as at Worceter and Wincheſter, where in the new Monaſterie, by|cauſe the prieſts liued not in ſuch ſort as was thẽ thought requiſite, [...]. Higd. [...]. cap. 9. the prebends were taken from them and giuen to vicars. But when the vicars were thought to vſe thẽſelues no better, but rather worſe thã the other before thẽ, they were likewiſe put out, & Monkes placed in their roomes by au|thoritie of Pope Iohn the .xiij. And this reforma|tion or rather deformatiõ was vſed by K. Edgar in many other places of the realm. He was (as ap|peareth by writers) namely in his beginning, cru|el againſt his own people, and wanton in luſting after yong women (as you haue heard before.) Of ſtature and proportion of bodie he was but ſmal & low but yet had nature encloſed within ſo little a perſonage ſuch ſtrength,VVil. Mal. Ran. Higd. Tho. Elias. that he durſt encounter & combat with him that was thought moſt ſtrong, only doubting this,Edgar ſmall of ſtature but ſtrong and hardie. leaſt he which ſhould haue to do with him ſhould ſtand in feare of him. And as it chanced at a great feaſt (where ofentymes men vſe their tongues more liberally than needeth,) the king of Scottes Kinadius caſt out certaine wordes in this maner:Kenneth king of [...].

It may (ſayeth he) ſee [...] a maruel that ſo many Countreys and prouinces ſhould bee ſubiect to ſuche a little ſilly bodie as Edgar is.
Theſe wordes being borne away by a ieaſter or Minſtrell, and afterwardes vttered to Edgar with greate reproche, hee diſſembled the matter for a tyme, althoughe hee kept the re|membraunce thereof incloſed within his breaſt: and vpon occaſion, at length he faigned to goe on hunting, taking the king of Scots forth with him: and hauing cauſed one of his ſeruaunts to conuey two ſwordes into a place within the for|reſt by him appoynted in ſecrete wiſe, of purpoſe he withdrew from the reſidue of his companie, & there accompanied onely with the Scottiſh king, came to the place where the ſwordes were layde: And there taking the one of them, deliuered the o|ther to the Scottiſh king,The noble co|rage of king Edgar. willing him now to aſ|ſay his ſtrength, that they might ſhew by proufe whether of them ought to be ſubiect to the other: & ſtart not away but trie it with me (ſaith he) for it is a ſhame for a king to be ful of brags at bankets and not to be ready to fight when triall ſhould be made abrode. The Scottiſh king herewith being EEBO page image 235 aſtonied and maruellouſly abaſhed, fell downe at his feete, and with much humilitie confeſſed hys fault, & deſired pardõ for the ſame, which vpõ ſuch his humble ſubmiſſion K. Edgar eaſily granted.

Compare 1587 edition: 1 This noble prince had two wiues, Egelfrida, or Elfrida, ſurnamed the white, the daughter of a mightie duke named Ordmer, by whome he had iſſue a ſonne named Edward that ſucceeded him. His ſeconde wife hight Alfreda the daughter of Orgar duke of Druon. or Cornewall (as ſome haue by whom he had iſſue Edmõd that died be|fore his father, and Egelthred which afterwardes was king. Alſo he had iſſue a daughter named E|ditha, begotten baſe of his concubine Wilfrid (as before ye haue heard.) The ſtate of the realme in king Edgars dayes was in good poynt:VVil. Mal. for both the earth gaue hir encreaſe very plẽteouſly: the E|laments ſhewed themſelues very fauourable, ac|cording to the courſe of times: peace was main|teyned and no inuaſion by forraine enimies at|tempted. For Edgar had not onely all the whole Ile of Britain in ſubiection, but alſo was ruler & ſouerain Lorde ouer all the kings of the out Iles that lie within the ſeas about all the coaſts of the ſame Britain euen vnto the realme of Norway. He brought alſo a great part of Irelande vnder his ſubiection with the citie of Dublin,Ireland ſubiect vnto king Edgar. as by au|tentike recordes it doth and may appeare.

Previous | Next