Page images


Simeon In the summer-time; the Thus, during the three years army of the pagans, which aforesaid, namely from the time that the Danes had had wintered at Quatbricge, entered the port of Limene, these did much harm to the went partly to East-Anglia, English, but themselves suffered much greater harm. partly to Northumberland, But in the 4th year, the army was divided : some went into Some of them remained there Northumberland, some into East-Anglia, and others but others, getting possession crossing the sea, entered the Seine. of some ships, went to the But afterwards, some ships of the Danes came near the river Seine before-mentioned. shores of Wessex, and making frequent invasions, at O with what frequent vexa- one time plundering, and at another fighting, they did no tions, with how severe suffer- small damage to the provincials of Wessex. ings, in what a dreadful and Of the many fights that then took place, I will relate one, lamentable manner, was all as having been attended with an unusual issue. England annoyed, not only King Alfred caused some long ships, of 40 oars or more, by the Danes, who had then to be got ready against the aforesaid ships of the Danes. occupied the parts of Eng- And whilst six of the Danish ships were lying somewhere land, but also by those chil- on the coast of Devonshire, they were surprised by nine dren of Satan. But it suf- of the king's ships. The Danes seeing this, moved fered much more, for three against them with three only of their ships, for the other years, by a murrain among three were stranded and could not move because the tide the cattle, and the death of was out. Six ships, therefore, of the English fought against noble men, who about that three of the Danes: whilst the other three went against time departed this life. the three Danish ships that were stranded. The three Among whom was Suithulf Danish ships fought long and desperately against the six ; prelate of the church of but numbers at last prevailed, and two of the Danes were Rochester, Ealheard bishop taken ; the third fled, after all her crew had been killed of Dorchester, Ceolmund except five. This being done, when the English wished to duke of Kent, Beorhtulf return to their companions which were near the Danish duke of Essex, Eadulf the ships on the opposite shore, they were stranded ; and the Danes king's officer in Sussex, seeing this, left their own ships and fought against the Beornulf provost of Winches- English who were in the three ships. Then might you have ter, Ecgulf the king's strator, seen the English people of the six ships looking at the and many others, but these battle, and unable to bear them help, beating their were the most uoble.

899 Florence

breasts with their hands, and tearing their hair with their

nails. The English fought manfully, and the Danes In the same year, the army bravely attacked them. Forty two Eaglishmen were of the pagans, settled in East- slain, and 120 of the Danes. But the Danes slew LucheAnglia and Northumberland, man the commander of the king's fleet who pressed upon carrying off booty along the them too boldly; on

which account the English sea-coasts, severely harassed gave way a little, and the Danes almost seemed to be the land of the West-Saxons, victorious. But, lo! the tide came up, and floated the mostly in long and swift gal- vessels : the Danes got out to sea, and the 9 English ships were leys, which themselves had too late to overtake them. But a foul wind assailed the made some years before. To victorious Danes and cast two of their ships on shore : oppose these other ships were the crews were taken, brought before the king, and hanged made by Alfred's orders, at Winchester : but those who were in the third ship, twice as long, higher, swifter landed, much crippled, in East-Anglia. and less shaky, so as to beat In that same year, 20 ships with their crews were cast the above-named ships of the away round the northern coasts. enemy in strength. When these were sent out to sea, the king ordered them to take alive all they could, and to slay the rest. Wherefore it came to pass that 20 ships of Danish pirates were taken alive in that same year; of whom some were slain, some brought alive to the king, and hanged on the gallows.



In the year 899

[ocr errors]



Saron Chronicle


Ethelwerd 901 A. 900.

A. 900. A. 901.

Lastly, in the same year, This year died Ælfred, son Alfred, truly so called, a man king Alfred departed out of of Æthulf, six days before most strenuous in all things

this world; All-Hallowmass (Oct. 26). in battle, and the noble king that immoveable pillar of He was king over the whole of the West-Saxons, but pru- the Western Saxons, that English nation, except that dent and religious and most man full of justice, bold in part which was under the wise, this year, to the great arms, learned in speech, and, dominion of the Danes; and sorrow of all his people, went above all other things, imhe held the kingdom one the way of all flesh, on the bued with the divine instrucyear and a half less than 7th before the calends of

tions. thirty years. And then November (Oct. 26) in the For he had translated into Edward his son succeeded to 29 and half 'th year of his his own language, out of the kingdom. reign : in the 51st year of his Latin, unnumbered volumes,

age, Indiction 6.

He was

of so varied a nature, and Florence buried becomingly and with so excellently, that the sor900.

kingly honour in the royal rowful book of Boethius Heahstan bishop of London city of Winchester, in the seemed, not only to the died ; to whom succeeded church of St Peter prince of learned, but even to those Theodred. Eardulf bishop the apostles. His tomb also who heard it read, as it were, of Lindisfarne died, to whom is still extant, made of the brought to life again. succeed the religious Cuth- most precious porphyry The monarch died on the ard.


seventh day before the feast 901.

of All Saints (Oct. 25), and That famous, warlike, victo

his body rests in peace in CHARTERS IN 900. rious (KING]; the zealous

the city of Winton. protector of widows, pupils,

Pray, O reader, to Christ our orphans, and poor; skilled

Redeemer, that lie will save CHARTERS IN 901. 1. ETHEL in the Saxon poets; dear to

his soul ! RED duke of Mercia, II, 136. his own race, affable and Anonymous, II, 133.

The first of these, is given after Oct. liberal to all ; endued with

Simeon 26, when king Alfred died, belongs to prudence, fortitude, justice, the reign of his son Edward the Elder. King Elfred died when he and temperance; most pa

latter no to its exact date. Three other Charters,

had reigned 28 years. tient under the infirmity, found at II, 135, 138, 140, 141, bear To whom succeeded his son which he daily suffered ; a the date of 901, and the name of Ed. Edward, who had been dilimost discreet" inquisitor in

ward : they were consequently given
after Oct. 25, 901.

gently admonished by his executing justice; vigilant

father especially to honour and devoted in the service

Saint Cuthbert. of God; Alfred king of the


Bishop Eardulf also died in Angul-Saxons, son of the

King Alfred, having reigned Cunceceastre, wither he had pious king Atheluulf; having 28 years and half over all transferred the body of Saint reigned 29 years and 6 England, except those parts Cuthbert; with which he had months, died, in the 4th In- which were subject to the fled during 9 years from diction, on Wednesday the Danes, felt the sting of death. place to place, in much hard6th before the calends of No- of his toilsome rule, and ship, and went before the vember, [Oct. 27], and was irremediable afflictions, we

army of the pagans. buried at Winchester in the have thought it right to To whom succeeded CuthNew Minster, where with

speak in versification : eard in the bishopric. the just he awaits a glorious

Innate nobility hath given thee honour, resurrection.

Brave Alfred; and thy honour hath brought toil, • Some of the MSS. of Asser re

Thy toil hath given thee lasting reputation. cord, in a note written by a later

Joy mixed with grief was thine, hope blent with fear, hand, that king Alfred died on the

When victor, thou didst fear to fight o'the morrow; 26th of October, A. D. 900, in the thir

Beaten, wast ready for tomorrow's fight, tieth of his reign ** The different

Thy robes dropp'd sweat, thy sword dropp'd blood, and shewed, dates assigned to the death of Al

How heavy task it was to be a king. fred," says Sir Francis Palgrave,

Through all earth's climes none but thyself e'er lived, " afford a singular proof of the un

With power to breathe 'neath such calamities. certainty arising from various modes

Defeat ne'er struck the sword from his hand's grasp,

Nor could the sword cut short his thread of life. of computation. The Saxon Croni. cle and Florence of Worcester agree

But now his toils of life and rule are done, in placing the event in 901. The

And may Christ give him rest and rule for ever. first 'six nights before All Saints ; the last, with more precision, 'Indictione quarta, et Feria quarta, 5 Cal. Nov.' Simeon of Durham, in 899, and a Sixon Chronicle, in another passage, in 900. of Florence of Worcester seem to afford the greatest certainty, and

the date of 901 has therefore been preferred."

The concurrents




Although the researches of English and Continental Antiquaries prove the very close resemblance in many respects between the manners and customs of the Franks and the Anglo-Saxons, one vast difference is clearly apparent; namely, the constitution of their mints. While the coinage of the Franks consisted, for the far greater part, of gold, that of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, with the exception of the styca of copper, struck in the mints of Northumbria only, consisted almost exclusively of silver, of which the sole denominations that have come down to us, are the penny and the half-penny, very few specimens, however, of the latter being known.

Ruding, in his Annals of the coinage of Great Britain, has the following remarks : “ Those, who deny that the Saxons possessed any knowledge of the art of coinage before they landed in Britain, will find it extremely difficult to point out the source from whence they derived it after their arrival; for the Anglo-Saxon money bears not, either in form, type or weight, the least resemblance to those coins which at that time were the current specie of this Island.”

After observing that “the barbarous workmanship of the British coins could not have excited their attention,” he expresses his surprise that the Britons should have continued their own rude method of coining “ in preference to the beautiful specimens of Roman art, which were constantly before their eyes."



It is very clear from this that the laborious author of the Annals had but slight practical acquaintance with the subject, however valuable his work may be regarded as a compilation from written documents. To the general reader a detailed description of the various rude coins which must have been struck and circulated in this country after the departure of the Romans, would be tedious, and, without the assistance of illustrations, wholly impracticable. Long ere the once masters of the world withdrew for ever from their Island possession, their coins had ceased to be “ beautiful specimens of art,” and long previous to the introduction of Christianity among the Anglo-Saxons, they attempted to copy the degenerate types of the Roman money.

Nor was the desire to imitate better examples abandoned on the introduction of Christianity, as we may perceive in some of the pennies of Edweard the first, on which is an evident attempt to copy the representation of the gate of the prætorian camp as found on the coins of Rome, from the reign of Diocletian to that of Theodosius. A coin of Ciolwulf, found at Preston, furnishes still stronger evidence, since the reverse is a palpable copy of the common reverse of the gold coins of Valentinian, on which are represented the two sitting figures of the emperors crowned by Victory hovering above them."

It is thus evident that the Anglo-Saxons did not disdain the best models of coinage then existing, and that the rudeness of their own money is not attributable to an unwillingness to copy but rather to a want of ability to execute coins equal to the rude examples of the Roman currency at its worst period.

As regards the weight of the Anglo-Saxon penny, it was originally of 24 grains, hence the term “penny weight.” Now the Quinarius or half denarius of the Roman Empire, from the time of Arcadius and Honorius to the reign of Justin, is of very common occurrence even at this day, and no doubt circulated abundantly throughout the Roman dominions. It weighs on an average 24 grains, a fact which leads to the inference that the Saxon penny was accommodated in weight to the Roman coins which must have continued in circulation long after they were minted, and were pro

(1) This coin is engraved in the Numismatic Chronicle, vol. v, p. 10. It is not unlikely that the Victory here represented is intended by the Anglo-Saxon artist to represent the third personage of the Trinity : see on this subject a note by the writer in the Numismatic Chronicle, vol. xii,

p. 79.



bably, for a considerable period, current throughout those countries which had been wrested from the Romans by the Teutonic tribes. It is not contended that these tribes had not a style of their own, but it may be safely asserted that the influence of Roman art is visible in their ornaments and utensils; while the necessity of some conformity with an almost universal coinage was imperative. Notwithstanding this, we find many Saxon coins totally dissimilar in type to those of the Romans; on a considerable number the name of the King, and that of the Moneyer alone appears without any attempt to represent an effigy, but this, as before observed, cannot be attributed so much to design as to want of skill; on the contrary, when it does appear, as on many of the pennies of Alfred, it is very plainly an attempt to imitate the Imperial effigy on the coins of the lower empire with the diadem encircling the head. In the reign of Athelstan, notices of the Saxon mints first

In the laws of that King it is declared that no one shall mint money except within the walls—BUTAN ON PORT, ' that those who work in a wood or elsewhere unauthorised shall suffer amputation of the hand, and that there shall be in Canterbury seven moneyers; in Rochester, three; in London, eight; in Winchester, six ; at Lewes two; at Hastings, one ; at Chichester one ; at Hampton, two; at Wareham, two; at Exeter, two; at Shaftsbury, two; at the other towns one."

The English numismatists of the last century have discussed at considerable length the possibility of the Anglo-Saxons having struck gold in their mints. We shall not here review their arguments; it will be sufficient to observe that the evidence on either side is often inconclusive, and at times at utter variance with facts, while examples are cited which only serve to shew the utter want of practical acquaintance with the subject. While one side maintained that no gold was ever coined in the Anglo-Saxon mints, simply because we have no written record of the fact, the other produced examples in opposition to this opinion, in utter ignorance that the pieces thus adduced as evidence were of Merovingian origin. Pegge not only attempted to prove the Anglo-Saxon origin of one of these coins, but did not hesitate to assign it to the mint of York in the beginning of the tenth century. (2) Æthelstanes Domas, c. 14. (3) slea man of þa hand be he þæt fúl mid worhte. IBI D (4) Elles to þam ofrum burgum, I. Æthelstanes Domas, c. 14.

« PreviousContinue »