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THE ANGLO-SAXON CHRONICLE.
A. 1084. This year Wulfwold abbat of Chertsey lied on the 13th day before the Kalends of May.
A. 1085. This year men said and reported as certain, that Canute king of Denmark, the son of king Sweyn, was coming hither, and that he designed to conquer this land, with the assistance of Robert earl of Flanders, whose daughter he had married. When king William, who was then in Normandy, heard this, for England and Normandy were both his, he hastened hither with a larger army of horse and foot, from France and Brittany, than had ever arrived in this land, so that men wondered how the country could feed them all. But the king billeted the soldiers upon his subjects throughout the nation, and they provided for them, every man according to the land that he possessed. And the people suffered much distress this year: and the king caused the country near the sea to be laid waste, that if his enemies landed they might the less readily find any plunder. Afterwards when he had received certain information that they had been stopped,* and that they would not be able to proceed in this enterprise, he let part of his forces return to their own homes, and he kept part in this land through the winter. At midwinter the king was at Gloucester with his witan; and he held his court there five days; and afterwards the archbishop and clergy held a synod during three days; and Maurice was there chosen to the bishopric of London, William to that of Norfolk, and Robert to that of Cheshire; they were all clerks of the king. After this the king had a great consultation, and spoke very deeply with his witan concerning this land, how it was held and what were its tenantry. He then sent his men over all England, into every shire, and caused them to ascertain how many hundred hides of land it contained, and what lands the king possessed therein, what cattle there were in the several counties, and how much revenue he ought to receive yearly from each. He also caused them to write down how much land belonged to his archbishops, to his bishops, his abbats, and his earls, and, that I may be brief, what property every
* Because there was a mutiny in the Danish fleet; which was carried to such a height, that the king, after his return to Denmark, was slain by his own soldiers. Vide Antiq. Celto-Scand. p. 228. See also our Chroz icle, A.D. 1087.—INGRAM.
inhabitant of all England possessed in land or in cattle, and how much money this was worth. So very narrowly did he cause the survey to be made, that there was not a single hide nor a rood of land, nor-it is shameful to relate that which he thought no shame to do was there an ox, or a cow, or a pig passed by, and that was not set down in the accounts, and then all these writings were brought to him.
A. 1086. This year the king wore his crown and held his court at Winchester at Easter, and he so journeyed forward that he was at Westminster during Pentecost, and there he dubbed his son Henry a knight. And afterwards he travelled about, so that he came to Salisbury at Lammas; and his witan, and all the land-holders of substance in England, whose vassals soever they were, repaired to him there, and they all submitted to him, and became his men, and swore oaths of allegiance, that they would be faithful to him against all others. Thence he proceeded to the Isle of Wight because he was to cross over to Normandy; and this he afterwards did; but first, according to his custom, he extorted immense sums from his subjects, upon every pretext he could find, whether just or otherwise. Then he went over to Normandy, and king Edward's kinsman Edgar etheling left him, because he received no great honour from him may Almighty God give him glory hereafter. And the etheling's sister Christina went into the monastery of Romsey, and took the holy veil. And the same was a very heavy year, and very disastrous and sorrowful; for there was a pestilence among the cattle, and the corn and fruits were checked; and the weather was worse than may easily be conceived: so violent was the thunder and lightning, that many persons were killed: and things ever grew worse and worse with the people. May Almighty God mend them, when such is his will!
A. 1087. The year 1087 after the birth of Christ our Saviour, and the one and twentieth of king William's reign, during which he governed and disposed of the realm of England even as God permitted him, was a very grievous time of scarcity in this land. There was also so much illness,
This is the famous Doomsday Book, or Rotulus Wintoniæ, called also Liber Wintoniæ. At the end of it is the date, Annc millesimo octogesimo szato ab incarnatione Dei, vigesimo vero regni Willelmi, &c.
that almost every other man was afflicted with the worst of evils, that is, a fever; and this so severe, that many died of it. And afterwards, from the badness of the weather which we have mentioned before, there was so great a famine throughout England, that many hundreds died of hunger. Oh, how disastrous, how rueful were those times! when the wretched people were brought to the point of death by the fever, then the cruel famine came on and finished them. Who would not deplore such times, or who is so hard-hearted that he will not weep for so much misery? But such things are, on account of the sins of the people, and because they will not love God and righteousness. Even so was it in those days; there was little righteousness in this land amongst any, excepting the monks alone, who fared well. The king and the chief men loved much, and over much, to amass gold and silver, and cared not how sinfully it was gotten, so that it came into their hands. The king sold out his lands as dear as dearest he might, and then some other man came and bid more than the first had given, and the king granted them to him who offered the larger sum; then came a third and bid yet more, and the king made over the lands to him who offered most of all; and he cared not how iniquitously his sheriffs extorted money from the miserable people, nor how many unlawful things they did. And the more men spake of rightful laws, the more lawlessly did they act. They raised oppressive taxes, and so many were their unjust deeds, it were hard to number them. And the same year, before harvest, St. Paul's holy minster, the residence of the bishops of London, was burnt, together with many other monasteries, and the greater and handsomer part of the whole city. At the same time likewise almost all the principal towns of England were burnt down. Oh, how sad and deplorable was this year, which brought forth so many calamities!
The same year also, before the assumption of St. Mary, king William marched with an army out of Normandy into France, and made war upon his own lord king Philip, and slew a great number of his people, and burned the town of Mante, and all the holy monasteries in it, and two holy men who served God as anchorites were burned there. This done king William returned into Normandy. Rueful deeds
he did, and ruefully he suffered. Wherefore ruefully? He fell sick and became grievously ill. What can I say? The sharpness of death, that spareth neither rich nor poor, seized upon him. He died in Normandy the day after the nativity of St. Mary, and he was buried in Caen, at St. Stephen's monastery, which he had built and had richly endowed. Oh, how false, how unstable, is the good of this world! He, who had been a powerful king and the lord of many territories, possessed not then, of all his lands, more than seven feet of ground; and he, who was erewhile adorned with gold and with gems, lay then covered with mould. He left three sons: Robert the eldest was earl of Normandy after him; the second, named William, wore the crown of England after his father's death; and his third son was Henry, to whom he bequeathed immense treasures.
If any would know what manner of man king William was, the glory that he obtained, and of how many lands he was lord; then will we describe him as we have known him, we, who have looked upon him, and who once lived in his court.* * This king William, of whom we are speaking, was a very wise and a great man, and more honoured and more powerful than any of his predecessors. He was mild to those good men who loved God, but severe beyond measure towards those who withstood his will. He founded a noble monastery on the spot where God permitted him to conquer England, and he established monks in it, and he made it very rich. In his days the great monastery at Canterbury was built, and many others also throughout England; moreover this land was filled with monks who lived after the rule of St. Benedict; and such was the state of religion in his days that all that would, might observe that which was prescribed by their respective orders. King William was also held in much reverence: he wore his crown three times every year when he was in England: at Easter he wore it at Winchester, at Pentecost at Westminster, and at Christmas at Gloucester. And at these times, all the men of England were with him, archbishops, bishops, abbats, and earls, thanes, and knights. So also, was he a very stern and a wrathful man, so that none durst do anything
From this we learn that this part of the Chronicle was written by a contemporary and eye-witness of the facts which he relates.
against his will, and he kept in prison those earls who acted against his pleasure. He removed bishops from their sees, and abbats from their offices, and he imprisoned thanes, and at length he spared not his own brother Odo. This Odo was a very powerful bishop in Normandy, his see was that of Bayeux, and he was foremost to serve the king. He had an earldom in England, and when William was in Normandy he was the first man in this country, and him did he cast into prison. Amongst other things the good order that William established is not to be forgotten; it was such that any man, who was himself aught, might travel over the kingdom with a bosom-full of gold unmolested; and no man durst kill another, however great the injury he might have received from him. He reigned over England, and being sharp-sighted to his own interest, he surveyed the kingdom so thoroughly that there was not a single hide of land throughout the whole, of which he knew not the possessor, and how much it was worth, and this he afterwards entered in his register.* The land of the Britons † was under his sway, and he built castles therein; moreover he had full dominion over the Isle of Man (Anglesey): Scotland also was subject to him from his great strength; the land of Normandy was his by inheritance, and he possessed the earldom of Maine; and had he lived two years longer he would have subdued Ireland by his prowess, and that without a battle. Truly there was much trouble in these times, and very great distress; he caused castles to be built, and oppressed the poor. The king was also of great sternness, and he took from his subjects many marks of gold, and many hundred pounds of silver, and this, either with or without right, and with little need. He was given to avarice, and greedily loved gain. He made large forests for the deer, and enacted laws therewith, so that whoever killed a hart or a hind should be blinded. As he forbade killing the deer, so also the boars; and he loved the tall stags as if he were their father. He also appointed con
*This is certainly an evident allusion to the compilation of Doomsday Book already described, A.D. 1085, as Gibson o serves; and it is equally clear to me, that the composition of this part of the Chronicle is by a different hand.-INGRAM.