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Earl crossed over to Baldwines land, the land of his wife's CHAP. X. brother. Under his protection he passed the whole of the winter at Saint Omer.1


§ 4. The Last Days of Eadward. 1065–1066.2

last sick


dation at

The life of Eadward was now drawing near to its end; Eadward's we are approaching the close of the first act of our great drama. From the sickness into which Eadward was thrown by the excitement of the Northumbrian revolt, he never thoroughly recovered. He barely lived to complete the great work of his life. The royal saint deemed himself His founset upon the throne, not to secure the welfare or the Westminindependence of his Kingdom, but to build a church and ster. endow a monastery in honour of the Prince of the Apostles. If we were reading the life, not of a King, but of a Bishop or Abbot, we might well look on this as an object worthy of the devotion of a life. It was no small work to rear that stately minster which has ever since been the crowning-place of our Kings, and which for so many ages remained their place of burial. It was no small work to call into being that mighty Abbey, whose chapter-house plays so great a part in the growth of the restored freedom of England, and which has well nigh supplanted the

1 Chronn. Ab. Wig. Petrib. and Flor. Wig. The Abingdon Chronicle and Florence alone mention Saint Omer.

2 Since this section was written, Dean Stanley has published his Memorials of Westminster Abbey, in the early part of which he goes over nearly the same ground. But I find a good deal of difference between my ideas of historical evidence and those of the Dean.

Flor. Wig. "Post hæc Rex Eadwardus paullatim ægrotare cœpit." Vita Eadw. 423. "Quo dolore decidens in morbum, ab eâ die usque in diem mortis suæ ægrum trahebat animum." Will. Malms. iii. 252. “Quare ex animi ægritudine majorem valetudinem corporis contrahens, non multo post decessit." The hagiographers do not feel called on to enlarge on the real cause of the death of their hero-baffled wrath against his own people.


K k

CHAP. X. Kentish mother-church itself as the ecclesiastical home of the English nation. The church of Saint Peter at Westminster, the great work of Eadward's life, has proved a more than equal rival of the older sanctuaries of Canterbury and York and Winchester and Glastonbury. But when looked at as the work of a King in such an age, it awakens very different feelings from those with which we look on the ecclesiastical works of Ælfred or Æthelstan or Harold. In the eyes of those great princes, a care for ecclesiastical administration and ecclesiastical reform, the establishment of foundations designed to spread piety and enlightenment among their people, naturally and rightly seemed an important part of the duty of a ruler. But in Eadward we can discern no sign of the higher aspirations of a sovereign; a monk rather than a King, he seems never to have risen beyond a monk's selfish anxiety for the welfare of his own Eadward's soul. The special object of Eadward's reverence was the for Saint Apostle Peter,' and his reverence for that Saint did no good



to the Kingdom of England. His devotion to the Apostle led to a devotion to his supposed successor, and to that increased frequency of intercourse with the Roman See which is a marked characteristic of his reign. There seems no reason to doubt, though his Biographer is silent on the subject, that, as I have told the tale in earlier chapters, Eadward vowed a pilgrimage to Rome, that his Witan dissuaded him from leaving his Kingdom, that Pope Leo


1 Vita Eadw. 417. "Ob amorem principalis Apostoli, quem affectu colebat unico et speciali."

2 The Biographer assigns no motive for the foundation of Westminster beyond this special reverence for Saint Peter, and the other usual motives for the foundation of monasteries. But his statement does not exclude the account given by the legendary writers about the vow, the dispensation, and the embassies to Rome. This I accept in the main, of course without binding myself to any legendary details, because it fits in so exactly with the statements of the Chroniclers and other authentic writers, who mention the two embassies without describing their object.



dation in

order of



dispensed with his vow, and imposed on him, instead of CHAP. x. a personal visit to the tomb of the Apostle, the duty of founding or enlarging a monastery in his honour within his own Kingdom. We have seen that the two missions of Ealdred and other Prelates to Rome were probably connected with this design. The earlier one was sent to obtain the remission of the vow, the later one to obtain the Papal confirmation of the privileges of the house. We thus His founget a clear notion of the chronology of the foundation honour which occupied Eadward during the last fourteen years of of the Apostle. his reign. It must again be remembered that the founda- 1051-1065. tion of a monastery followed a course exactly opposite to the foundation of a secular college. In a secular college Reverse the Canons or other clergy are ministers appointed, for the proceeding common advantage of the Church and realm, to maintain at Westdivine worship in a particular building. In a monastery, and at the monks are men who go out of the world to save their own souls, and who need a church of their own to pray in. In a college then the minster comes first; the clergy exist only for its sake and for the sake of those who worship in it. In a monastery the society of monks comes first, and the minster exists only for their sake. Harold therefore, in his great work at Waltham, first built his church; he then settled the exact details of his foundation, the number, the duties, the endowments, of the clergy whom he placed in it.2 Eadward no doubt began to build his church as soon as he had formed the scheme of his foundation; but the church was not the same primary object which it was at Waltham, nor did its building need to be pressed forward with the same special speed. At Waltham the charter of foundation dates two years later than the consecration of the minster.3 At Westminster the foundation itself, the establishment and endowment of the 2 See above, pp. 441, 464.

3 See above, pp. 445, 464.

1 See above, pp. 114, 453.


tion of the

CHAP. X. monastic society, no doubt the building of the refectory, Comple: dormitory, and other buildings needed for their personal foundation, use, had all been brought to perfection at least four years Consecra- before the minster itself was ready for consecration.1


tion of the



The rescript of Pope Leo required Eadward either to found a new, or to enlarge an old, monastery in honour of Saint Peter. He preferred the latter course. And we are monastery told that the visions of a holy recluse named Wulfsige,


of Thorney

or West- probably the same who had finally determined Saint Wulf


stan to accept his Bishoprick, guided him to the predestined site. At a little distance from the western gate of London lay what was then an island of the Thames, which, from the dense bushes and thickets with which it was

Its founda- covered, received the name of Thorney.3 There stood a


653-660. monastery whose origin was carried up to the earliest days of English Christianity. There Sigeberht, the first Christian King of the East-Saxons, had begun a foundation in honour of Saint Peter, to balance, as it were, the great minster of

1 It is somewhat dangerous to use the two doubtful charters which will be found in Cod. Dipl. iv. 173, 181. If I could fully trust them, I should find it easy to add many details to my story. But I do not dare to refer to them except when their statements seem either to have great probability in themselves or to be confirmed by some other evidence. The two embassies to Rome seem to imply that in 1050 nothing had been begun, but that in 1061 the foundation was complete. The words of the second charter (p. 81) agree with this. Eadward says "Quum ergo renovâssem eam," &c. of the time when he sent the second embassy, four years before the completion and dedication of the church.

2 Cod. Dipl. iv. 175. "Revelavit beatus Petrus cuidam probabilis vitæ monacho incluso nomine Wlfsino voluntatem suam esse ut restruerem locum, qui dicitur Westmonasterium." On Wulfsige, see above, p. 462.

3 Wace (10653) enlarges on the name, and his phonetic spelling illus trates his natural difficulty in pronouncing the letter þ.

"En un islet esteit assise,
Zonée out nom, joste Tamise;
Zonée por ço l'apelon,
Ke d'espine i out foison,

E ke l'ewe en alout environ.

Prevost's note is worth reading.

Ee en engleiz isle apelon,
Ee est isle, zon est espine,
Seit rainz, seit arbre, seit racine;
Zonée ço est en engleiz

Isle d'espine en françeiz. '



Saint Paul within the city.1 Legends gathered round the CHAP. X. spot; the Bishop Mellitus, when about to hallow the church, was warned not to repeat the ceremony; the church had been already hallowed by the Apostle himself in his own honour.2 The church of Saint Peter, from its position with regard to the church of the brother Apostle, obtained the name, so familiar and so historical in the ears of every Englishman, of the West Minster. But for Its state in several centuries its reputation remained altogether inferior time. to that of its eastern rival. We are told that in Eadward's time the foundation was poor, the monks were few, the buildings mean.3 Yet against this description we must set Burial of the fact that Westminster was chosen as the burial-place of son of at least one King, and that a King who had not died in Cnut. the immediate neighbourhood. We have also seen that the death of at least one Abbot of the house was thought worthy of record in the national Chronicles, and his successor had received a benefaction from Eadward before his great enlargement of the house had begun. The temporary burialplace of the first Harold was now chosen by Eadward as the place for his own burial, as the place for the redemption of his vow, as the place which should become the sacred hearth of the English nation, the crowningplace of its future Kings. The site, so near to the great

Harold the



1 So says Æthelred, X Scriptt. 385.

2 Æthelred, 385, and more briefly in the charter, iv. 181.

3 Vita Eadw. 417. "Parvo quidem opere et numero, paucioribus ibi congregatis monachis sub Abbate in servitio Christi."

See vol. i. pp. 504, 764.


5 See above, p. 112.

He made a grant, restoring a gift of Eadgar, while Beorn was Earl, therefore in 1045-1049. See Cod. Dipl. iv. 190.

7 Vita Eadw. u. s.

"Eligit ibi habere sibi locum sepulcri."

So at least says Pope Nicolas' letter in Æthelred, 389; Cod. Dipl. iv. 184. "Ut amplius imperpetuum regiæ constitutionis et consecrationis locus sit, atque repositorium regalium insignium." Here, whether the text be genuine or not, the immediate application of the church to the use spoken of proves the truth of the statement.

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