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This type seems to call for particular remark. Although in common with the rest it has the name and title of Alfred on the obverse, yet it has on its reverse a legend which seems to give us the name and title of Ethelstan followed by the name of a mint GELDA. This may be Geldestone in Norfolk, or it may be read EDELS tani Regis GELDA i. e.“ tribute or money of king Ethelstan.” I leave these conjectures to the reader's judgement, myself preferring the former as being most in analogy with other contem
+ EL FR ED RE
+ ELFRED RE
58. + EL FR EDRE
PL. V, Fig. 7.
BRITISH MUSEUM. Pl. V, Fig. 8. 60, + ÆL FRE DRE A small cross. The reverse legend of this coin is in characters which have hitherto eluded all attempts to explain them.
PL. 'V, Fig. 9. 61. + ÆLFREDEE A small cross. EAVVALD In two lines.
PL. V, Fig. 10.
Same type as the last.
PL. V, Fig. II. On this type we have the following names of moneyers :
even more so.
Some of the above readings are blundered, and there are others
Some of these moneyers add to their names their designation MO. MON. MONE. MONET. or MONETA, and two, ELDA and SIMVN the words ME FECit.
The most remarkable feature on the coins 51 to 58 and indeed on 48 to 50 is the division of the obverse legend into four groups so as to give to the type a cruciform appearance. This is a feature so peculiarly English, being found only on these coins of Alfred, and on those of his contemporary Ethelstan (Guthrum) of East-Anglia, that its appearance on the money of Siefred, is another strong argument for their English origin. There is nothing of the kind to be observed on any continental coins; one of the emperor Otto III struck at Verona, about the close of the century, which at first sight might be taken to resemble these, is really of a very different design: it must in fact be read as the cross is formed, VE. RO NA and the letters are so placed that they can be read at one view without turning the piece, just as in No. 50. Nos 59, 60 present a variation from this, dividing the obverse legend into three groups instead of four. This coinage, which from its resemblance to that of Ethelstan (Guthrum) of EastAnglia, I feel justified in supposing, commenced between A. D. 880 and 890, must have been continued until the end of the reign of Alfred. We do not indeed observe the peculiarity just noticed on the coins of Alfred's son and successor: for the greater length of the name Eadweard would not admit of such an arrangement: but some coins of this, ex. gr. No. 59, in every other respect correspond exactly with those of Edward the Elder.
As the work of which these pages form a part is devoted to the illustration of the life and writings of Alfred, this seems a proper place for introducing a few remarks supplementary to what I have advanced in my Essay on the coins of East-Anglia, and the result of subsequent research. I there endeavoured to shew the probability that Ethelstan, known in history as the eldest son of Ethelwulf, and king of Kent, was also a king of East-Anglia and a predecesser of S. Edmund. I was not then aware how intimate a connexion existed between this Ethelstan and his youngest brother Alfred, supposing as I then did that he died when Alfred was but two or three years old. Now however, I am convinced, and that chiefly by Dr Whitaker's arguments in his life of S. Neot, that S. Neot, who exercised so remarkable an influence over Alfred, was no other than this Ethelstan under a religious name.
In the year 823, Egbert King of Wessex sent his son Ethelwulf with an army into Kent, and the latter subdued and wrested from the Mercian yoke, not only that kingdom but those of Essex, Surrey and Sussex as well. These kingdoms then became and for many years continued to be an appanage of the West-Saxon crown. They were bestowed at first upon Ethelwulf, who upon the death of Egbert and his own accession to the throne of Wessex in 837, bestowed them upon Ethelstan his eldest son, by some supposed to have been of illegitimate birth, by others the fruit of an earlier marriage than that which produced the four brothers, Ethelbald, Ethelbert, Ethelred, and Alfred. Ethelstan continued to govern these kingdoms until the year 851, when he is mentioned as having defeated the Danes at Sandwich. But after that year he appears no more in history, and that about that time he ceased to govern Kent, seems probable from the fact that two
years later, A. D. 853, Duke Ealhere, who had been his colleague at the battle of Sandwich, is mentioned as fighting another battle but without him. Further, in the year 855, we find Ethelbald, his brother, the eldest son of the second marriage, styled king, and that whilst Ethelwulf was living; and his dominions would seem to be the same as those which Ethelstan had governed, viz. Kent, Essex, Surrey, and Sussex. In that year, Ethelwulf being then at Rome, King Ethelbald conspired with Alhstan, Bishop of Sherborne, and Eanwulf Earl of Somersetshire, to deprive his father of his dominions, and on his return they actually attempted to drive him from his kingdom. A compromise was made whereby Ethelbald was raised to the West-Saxon throne, and Kent with the other three provinces were left to his father Ethelwulf, who in the following year, A. D. 856, signs himself simply king of Kent, in a grant by himself of the Lordship of Lenham, to that Duke Ealhere who has already been mentioned in connection with Ethelstan. It appears, further, that about the year 851, Ethelwulf was a great benefactor to the monastery of Glastonbury, conveying thereto several manors, and that with his consent Earl Ethelstan gave other lands to the same monastery, together with his own person.
The life of St Neot, by John of Tynemouth, tells us that he was a son of Edulph, king of the West-Angles and of Kent, that he retired from the world and became a monk at Glastonbury: that some years afterwards with only one attendant he retired to a solitude in Cornwall; that after seven years spent there he went to Rome, and on his return gathered together a Society of monks and became their superior: that at this time he was frequently visited by Alfred for the purpose of obtaining his counsel and blessing : that before his death, which must have taken place about the year 876 he foretold the troubles that were coming on Alfred: that after his death he appeared to Alfred on two occasions, once in his retreat in Athelney to announce the end of his troubles, and again before the battle of Ethandune to encourage him with the promise of victory.
Besides this life there are two others, both said to have been written by William Ramsay a monk of Croyland, (though for my part I cannot believe them to be by the same hand), one in verse the other in prose. The former speaks of St Neot as the son of Edulph king of Kent, and of his being of the same blood as king
Alfred (called Ælvred), the latter that he was born of a royal race which reigned in the eastern parts of Britain, and that he was a near relation of Alfred (called Helored). Lastly, the pictured life of St Neot in the windows of his church in Cornwall, expressly tells us that he was a king, and that he resigned his crown to his younger brother.
This much then is common to Ethelstan and to St Neot; each was a son of Ethelwulf king of Kent, and brother of Alfred, and each was a king succeeded by a younger brother. But Ethelstan disappears from the page of history in 851, and about that time St Neot appears for nineteen or twenty years later : at the beginning of the reign of Alfred he was abbot of a monastery in Cornwall, and the various changes which had chequered his career since his retirement from the world, his noviciate at Glastonbury, his successive ordinations, his monastic life, his seven years' solitude in Cornwall, his journey to and return from Rome, and his establishment of his monastery, would well fill up that space of time. Glastonbury was the monastery to which St Neot retired, and to Glastonbury about the year 851 we find Ethelstan giving lands together with his own person. All this to me is conclusive that Ethelstan and St Neot were one and the same person : that Ethelstan when he left the world took another name vewtòs i. e. “the renewed one,” indicative of his purpose of walking in newness of life, and that by this name he was ever after known. Admitting this identity, we see the reason why, when Guthrum embraced the Christian faith, Alfred his godfather chose for him the name of Ethelstan (whilst he allotted to him as his kingdom one of the ancient dominions of Ethelstan) for it was that of one very dear to him, and lately deceased, the last survivor of his four brothers, who had been to him more than a brother, a spiritual father whilst living, and after his departure to receive the heavenly crown for which be laid aside his earthly one, a protecting saint. The name he gave to Guthrum, as well as the dominions he assigned him were those which his brother Ethelstan had given up for the love of God. Ethelstan, then, born probably at the commencement of the ninth century (for he is said to have been an old man when he retired into Cornwall, which could scarcely have been later than 863), succeeded his father Ethelwulf in the kingdom of Kent in 837; yet reigned also in East-Anglia before that time, and even as early as the days of Beornwulf and