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Eadred succeeded, and was ordained by archbishop Eanbald and bishop Higbald at a place which is called "Widford.
In the year 798, a conspiracy having been entered into by the murderers of king Ethelred, "Wada, the leader in the plot, together with the others, fought a battle against king Erdulph, at a place -which is called by the English Billingahon, near Wallalalege, and after many were slain on either side, earl Wada with his men was put to flight, and king Erdulph bravely gained a victory over his foes. In the same year, London was destroyed by a sudden conflagration, together with a vast multitude of people.
At this period, Kenulph, king of the Mercians, with all tho strength of his army, entered the province of Kent, and laid it waste with dreadful slaughter. At the same time, Eadbert, king of Kent, was taken prisoner, and the king of the Mercians ordered his eyes to be put out, and his hands to be cut off without mercy, as a punishment for their pride and treachery; then, having obtained the suffrage of the Lord, he added the rule of his kingdom to his own sway, placing the crown upon his head and the sceptre in his hand. In the same year also, being the third year of the above-named king Kenulph, a synod was held at the place which is called Wincanhele,60 under the presidency of archbishop Eanbald, many ecclesiastics and men of princely dignity attending thereat. They devised many things for the benefit of the Holy Church of God, and of the nation of Northumbria and all the provinces, as to the observance of Easter, feasts, and judgments, both holy and secular. These enactments rendered those days distinguished for just kings, virtuous nobles, and holy bishops, and other wise men, namely, priests and monks; through the foresight and justice of whom, and their holy deeds, the state of the kingdom of Northumbria sent forth a sweet fragrance in those times. The lord archbishop Eanbald commanded the profession of faith in the articles of the five synods to be repeated, concerning which it is thus written in the history of the English: ""We do agree to the holy and universal decrees of the five synods of the fathers, holy and acceptable to God, in such form as the text of the present book contains," &c.
In the year 799, in the British seas a very great number of ships were tossed and wrecked, or dashed against each other, and sunk, together with a vast multitude of men. In the same
10 Finchale, in Durham. VOL. I. c year, Brorda, a prince of the Mercians, who was also called Hyldegils, departed this life. An abbat also, whose name was Altilthegno,61 was murdered by his deputy, and died a shocking death. At this period, Osbald, who was formerly an exile and a patrician, and king for a time, but afterwards an abbat, departed this life, and was buried in the church at York. Earl Aldred, the murderer of king Ethelred, was slain by earl Thormund, in revenge for his master the said king. - In the year 800, Heardred, bishop of Hagustald,62 died in the third year of his episcopate, and was succeeded by Eanbrith. At the same period also, on the ninth day before the calends of January, the day before the Nativity of our Lord, a mighty wind blowing either from the south or the west, by its indescribable force destroyed very many cities, houses, and towns in various places, and levelled them with the ground; innumerable trees were also torn up from the roots, and thrown to the ground. In the same year an inundation took place, the sea flowing beyond its ordinary limits. An extensive murrain also prevailed among the cattle in various places.
In the year 801, Edwin, also called Eda, who had formerly been a duke of Northumbria, but was at that time, by the grace of the Saviour of the world, an abbat, being firmly rooted in the service of God, breathed his last, in the presence of his brethren, on the eighteenth day before the calends of February. At this time, Eardulph, king of Northumbria, led an army against Kenwulph, king of Hercia, because he had entertained his enemies; the latter also collected an army, and obtained very considerable aid from other kingdoms. A long war having been waged between them, at length, by the advice of the bishops and chief men among the English on both sides, and through the intervention of the king of the Angles,63 they agreed to a truce; and a most solemn treaty of peace was concluded between them, which, by oath upon the gospel of Christ, both kings ratified, taking God for their witness, and giving sureties, that all their days, so long as they should live and be invested with the insignia of royalty, there should remain between them lasting peace and true friendship, unshaken and inviolate.
In the same year Hathubert, bishop of London, departed this life, and shortly after a great part of the city itself was de
61 This passage is probably corrupt. e2 Hexham.
63 Probably this alludes to the king of East Anglia.
stroyed by a sudden conflagration. In this year diarles, the most mighty king of the Franks, was declared supreme emperor at Bome, by all the senate, the imperial crown being placed upon his head by our lord the pope.
In the year from the incarnation of our Lord 802, Brithric, the king of the West-Saxons, who had most gloriously reigned over that nation for seventeen years, departed this life, and was succeeded by Egbert. The said king Brithric had taken in marriage Eadburga, daughter of Offa, king of the Mercians, who ordered the great dyke to be made between Britain64 and Mercia, that is to say, from sea to sea. Now this Eadburga, being the daughter of a king and surrounded with much pomp, was inspired with wonderful ambition, and, after the manner of her father, began to live in a tyrannical manner and to despise all men, insomuch that she was hated not only by nobles and magistrates, but even by all the people. She did not cease uttering accusations continually against all the religious before the king, and by her evil speaking so wrought upon her husband by means of her blandishments, that those whom she accused, she caused to be put to death or banished the realm; and if she was unable to effect this, she did not hesitate secretly to take them off by poison.
There was at that time a certain illustrious youth, very dear to the above-named king, and greatly beloved by him, whom, when she wished to accuse him to the king, and could not accomplish it, with wicked intent she cut off by poison, the king in ignorance having tasted which, he expired. But she had not purposed to give the poison to the king, but to the youth, whereas the head of all the nobles partaking of it first, they both drank of the deadly draught, and both perished through the extremely bitter taste thereof. He being slain by reason of this wicked deed, this most wicked poisoner was smitten with fear, and crossing the seas in her flight with innumerable treasures, repaired to Charles, the most famous king of the Franks.
As she stood before him in his chamber, and offered the king precious gifts, he thus addressed her; "Choose, Eadburga, which of the two you would prefer, myself or my son, who is standing with me in the room; on which she, without any deliberation, foolishly made answer and said; "If the option were 64 Meaning Wales.
given me, I would sooner choose your son than yourself, because he seems to be the younger;" on which king Charles iB said to.have replied:—" If you had chosen me, you should have had my son, but inasmuch as you have chosen him, you 6hall have neither me nor him for your own." However, on account of her wickedness, the king conferred on her a most excellent monastery, in which, laying aside her secular dress, and hypocritically assuming the garb of the nuns, she spent a very few years. For as this execrable woman lived wickedly in her own country, so much more the miserably and wickedly was she discovered to have been living in a foreign land. For, a short space of time having elapsed, while by some she was supposed to be performing her appropriate duties, she was debauched by a certain low fellow of her own nation. "Let cloudy error give way before justice; let it cease, in fact, to seem a wondrous thing, that a woman should be taken in adultery." There is nothing for one to wonder at; "Nothing is there concealed which shall not be known."
After this, by order of the emperor Charles the Great, she was, with great weariness and anguish of mind, expelled from her holy monastery, and, exposed to the reproaches of all, passed the rest of her life in poverty and misery; attended to the last by one poor servant, and begging daily at houses and castles and in cities, she died miserably at Pavia.65
Brithric, the glorious king of the West-Saxons, being dead, king Egbert succeeded him in the rule and sway, and, springing from the royal stock, placed the diadem of the whole kingdom on his head, being encircled with a most ample crown. For he was a most active man, and, distinguished for his power, he subjected many realms to his dominion. He reigned thirty-six years and seven months.
To Egbert succeeded his most mighty son Etbelwulph, who by his noble wife had four sons, whose names were Ethelbald, Ethelbert, Ethelred, and Alfred, all of whom in turn succeeded to the kingdom.
Cuthred, therefore,66 the above mentioned king of Wessex, after having conquered the most valiant earl Edelhun,61 as I have already68 mentioned elsewhere, when, in the thirteenth
85 Asser says that he had conversed with persons who had seen her begging there. 66 He now reverts for a period of about fifty vears.
68 This is an error, as lie has not mentioned the victory over Edelhun.
year of his reign, he was no longer able to endure the exactions and insolence of Ethelbald, king of Mercia, met him, with his troops ranged under their banners, at Bereford,69 having postponed all hopes of surviving to liberty. . He also brought with him Edelhun, the above-named warlike earl, who was then reconciled to him, and relying on whose valour and counsel he was enabled to incur the hazards of war. On the other hand, Ethelbald, the king of kings, together with the Mercians, had brought the men of Kent, and the West Saxons, and numerous forces of the Angles. The armies, therefore, being drawn up in battle array, marching straight onward, were drawing close to each other, when Edelhun going before, and bearing the standardTM of the king of Wessex, which was a golden dragon, pierced the enemy's standard-bearer. On this, an outcry arising, the party of Cuthred was greatly encouraged, and immediately thereupon the hostile ranks closed, and rushed on to mutual slaughter, with dreadful blows and a terrific crash.
In this battle, with all their pride, the Mercians were so humbled, that for a long series of succeeding years fortune rendered them subject to Wessex. Anyone, who had just before seen the ranks shining with coats of mail, bristling with helmets, rough with lances, variegated with standards, and resplendent with gold, might shortly afterwards have seen them steeped in blood, with lances broken, scattered in ruin, bespattered with human brains, and frightful to look upon. With determined obstinacy, and displaying the greatest bravery, they rallied beneath their standards, and waged the combat with swords and battleaxes, and with direful intent line rushed on against line, each side having an assured hope of victory. There was no thinking of flight; the Mercians were urged on by the swelling pride of their proud dominion, the men of Wessex were inflamed by the dread of slavery. But in every direction Edelhun, the abovenamed earl, penetrated the ranks, and a road lay open, strewed with ruin, while in the dreadful carnage his battle-axe was hewing through both bodies and armour.
Ethelbald, the most valiant king of the Mercians, rushed on in every direction, and slaughtered the enemy, while to his
m Burford. 10 Roger of Wendover makes a mistake in representing Edelhun (whom he calls Athelun) as the standard bearer of Ethelbald, the king of the Mercians.