Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

the Danes had sold as a slave to a certain widow at Wintingham,95 and when redeemed must make him their king. This was accordingly done, in the tlurteenth year of the reign of king Alfred. Cuthred being thus raised to the throne, the episcopal see, which was previously in the island of Lindisfarne, was established at Cestre,96 anciently called Cuneceastre, seven years after its removal from the island of Lindisfarne. At this time also, the law of peace which Saint Cuthbert had also enjoined by means of the above-named abbat, (namely, that whoever should flee to his body, should enjoy peace without molestation from any one, for thirty-seven days,97) both king Cuthred and king Alfred enjoined as a law of perpetual observance. In addition to this, the above-named two kings, with the consent of all, had previously given, in augmentation of the former episcopal see, the whole territory between the Tyne and the Tees to Saint Cuthbert, for a perpetual possession: for long before this period, the bishopric of the church of Hagustald98 had ceased to exist. And whatever person, with what intent soever, should attempt to infringe these provisions, him with everlasting curses they condemned to the punishments of hell.

There belonged to the bishopric of Lindisfarne, from early times, Luguballia," or Luel, and Northamall the churches also, that lay between the river Tweed and the south Tyne, and beyond the uninhabited land, as far as the western side, at this period belonged to the above-named church. These houses also belonged to the see, Carnhum and Culterham, and the two Gedewerdes,2 on the southern bank of the river Tyne, which bishop Egred built; Meilros3 also, and Tigbre, and Tinigham and Colingham, and Brigham, and Tillemuthe, and Northam, above-mentioned, which was anciently called "Ubbanford. Mercwrede was also in the possession of this church, having been given with all its appurtenances by king Ceolwulph.

For this house the king, on renouncing the world, transferred

95 Whittingham, in Northumberland.

96 Chester-le-street, in Durham.

97 Roger of Wendover says a month. 58 Hexham.

99 Carlisle. 1 Or Norham, in Northumberland.

1 There is no doubt that the names of most of these places belonging to the bishopric of Lindisfarne, are shockingly misspelt in the text. * Melrose, in Roxburghshire.

together with himself to the church of Lindisfarne, of which, he became a monk, and fought for a heavenly kingdom. His body being afterwards brought into the church of the above-named town of Northam, became famous there, according to the report of the inhabitants of the place, for performing many miracles. It was through the agency of this king, after he had become a monk, that licence was granted to the monks of the church of Lindisfarne to drink wine or ale; for before that, they were accustomed to drink nothing but milk and water, according to the ancient tradition of Saint Aidan, the first bishop of that church, and of the monks, who, accompanying him from Scotland, had there, by the liberality of king Oswald, received a refuge, and with great severity of discipline, rejoiced to serve God.

Besides this, the above-named hishop Egred built a church at a place which is called Geinforde, and presented it to Saint Cuthbert; he also built Bellingham in Heorternesse, and two other towns, Becclif and "Wigeclif, on the southern bank of the river Tees, which he gave to Saint Cuthbert, for the maintenance and support of his servants; and in like manner, Wodecester, and "Whittingham, and Edulfingham, and Ecwlingham,5 being presented by king Ceolwulph, from an early period belonged to Saint Cuthbert.

In the year 883, pope Marinus, in his love for, and at the earnest entreaty of, king Alfred, obligingly made the school of the Saxons at Rome free from all tax and tribute; he also sent many gifts to that king, among which he gave him a large piece of the holy cross, upon which the Son of God was crucified for the salvation of mankind.

At this time the above-mentioned army of the pagans went up the river Sunne" to Amiens, and quartered themselves there one year.

In the time of king Alfred, there came into England one John, a Scot by birth, a man of shrewd intellect and of great eloquence. Having a long time previously left his country, he came to France to the court of Charles the Bald, by whom he was entertained with great respect, and was honored by him with his particular intimacy. He shared with the king both his serious and his more merry moments, and was the sole companion both of his table and his retirement. He was also a man of great facetiousness and of ready wit, of which

s Probably Eglingham, in Northumberland. e Somme.

there are instances quoted even to this day; as the following, for instance. He was sitting at table opposite the king, who was on the other side of it, and the cups having gone round and the courses ended, Charles becoming more merry than usual, after some other things, on observing John do something offensive to the French notions of good breeding, he pleasantly rebuked him, and said, "What is there between a sot and a Scot?" On which he turned back this hard hit on its author, and made answer, "A table only." What could be be more facetious than this reply? The king had asked him with reference to the different notions of manners, whereas John made answer with reference to the distance of space. Nor indeed was the king offended; for, being captivated by this prodigy of science, he was unwilling to manifest displeasure by even a word against the master, for by that name he usually called him.

At another time, when the servant had presented a dish to the king at table, which contained two very large fishes, besides one somewhat smaller, he gave it to the master, that he might share it with two clerks who were sitting near him. They were persons of gigantic stature, while he himself was small in person. On this, ever devising something merry, in order to cause amusement to those at table, he kept the two large ones for himself, and divided the smaller one between the two clerks. On the king finding fault with the unfairness of the division, "Nay," said he, "I have acted right and fairly. For here is a small one," alluding to himself, "and here are two great ones," touching the fishes; then, turning to the clerks, "here are two great ones," said he, pointing at the clerks, "and here is a small one," touching the fish.

At the request, also, of Charles, he translated the " Hierarchia," of Dionysius the Areiopagite, from Greek into Latin, word for word; the consequence of which is, that the Latin version can be hardly understood from having been rendered rather according to the Greek order of the words than according to our own idiom. He also composed a treatise, which he entitled itifi <pueim fiipisfiou,1 that is to say, "On the Divisions of Nature; very useful for solving the perplexity as to some questions, making some allowance, however, for him on cer

7 Roger of Wendover says that the title was jrepi Qvauc&v peptojiaroi;; meaning much the same thing.

tain points. In some respects he has certainly deviated from the track of the Latins by keeping his eyes intently fixed upon the Greeks; for which reason he has been even considered a heretic, and a certain Floras wrote against him. And, indeed, there are in his book, vipl piietuv, very many things which, unless they are most carefully examined, seem opposed to the Catholic faith. Pope Nicholas is known to have been of this opinion; for he says, in an epistle to Charles, "It has been reported to our Apostleship, that a certain man, named John, by birth a Scot, has lately translated into Latin the work of Saint Dionysius the Areiopagite, which he eloquently wrote in Greek, touching the divine names and the celestial orders. Now, according to the usual custom, this ought to have been sent to us and submitted to the approval of our judgment; and the more especially as the said John, though he is stated to be a man of great knowledge, has been said for some time past by general report not to be quite sound on certain points."

In consequence of this discredit he became tired of France, and came to king Alfred, by whose munificence he was appointed a teacher, and settled at Malmesbury, as appears from the king's writings. Here, some years afterwards, he was stabbed with their writing instruments8 by the boys whom he was teaching, and quitted this life in great and cruel torments; at a period when, his weakness waxing stronger and his hands shaking, he had often asked in vain that he might experience the bitterness of death. He lay for some time with an ignoble burial in the church of Saint Laurence, the scene of his shocking death; but, after the Divine favour for many nights had honored him by a ray of fire, the monks, being thus admonished, transferred him to the greater church, and placed him at the left side of the altar.

In the year 884, the above-mentioned army of the pagans divided themselves into two bodies; one of which entered East France, the other returned into Kent, and lay siege to the city of Rouecestre;9 but the citizens made a stout resistance, and king Alfred coming to their aid with his army, compelled the heathens to raise the siege and return to their ships, leaving the fortress which they had built there before the gates of the above named city, besides their spoil, and the men and horses

9 The " graphia," or "styli," the iron pens with which they wrote on wax tablets. » Rochester.

which they had brought with them from France. In this year also a fleet was sent by king Alfred for the defence of the places around East Anglia. "When they had come to the mouth of the river Stour,9* they found there sixteen ships of the pirates, which they took, slaying all on board of them. Those of the Danes, however, who were able to escape, collected their ships in various bodies in every quarter, and then engaging with the English in a naval battle, while, with inert supineness, they were asleep, a multitude of them unarmed were slain, and the Danes came off victorious.

At this period, Carloman, king of the Western Franks, that is to say, of the Alemanni, was killed in hunting, having been attacked by a wild boar when unattended, which mangled him with its tusk. His brother Louis had died the year before, who was also king of the Franks; for they were both sons of Louis, the king of the Franks, who had died in the year abovementioned in which 10 the eclipse of the sun took place. He also was the son of Charles, king of the Franks, whose daughter, Jutthitta,11 Ethelwulph, king of the West-Saxons, had taken for his queen.

In this year a great army of the pagans came in ships from Germany into the country of the ancient Saxons. The Saxons and the Frisians having united their forces against them, fought with them twice in one year, and were victorious. In the same year also, Charles, king of the Alemanni, with the voluntary consent of all, received the kingdom of the West Franks and all the territories which lie between the Tyrrhenian sea and the inlet of the ocean which divides the ancient Saxons and the Gauls. _ This Charles was the son of king Louis, who was brother of Charles, king of the Franks, and father of the above-named Judith; these two brothers were sons of Louis, the son of Charles the Great, that ancient and most wise sovereign, who was the son of king Pepin.

In the year 885, the above-mentioned army, which had first entered the kingdom of the East Franks, again returned to the West Franks, and sailed up the river Seine to Paris; but after having besieged the city for a year, the inhabitants making a stout defence, they were unable to effect an entrance within the walls.

9 * The river which divides Essex from Suffolk. 10 A.D. 880. "Judith.

« AnteriorContinuar »