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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 m() pi«wv fiepieftou,'' 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 lripi <pvaituv (itp/ff/iarof; meaning much the same thing.
tain points. In some respects he has certainly deviated from the track of the Latins hy keeping his eyes intently fixed upon the Greeks; for which reason he has been even considered a heretic, and a certain Florus wrote against him. And, indeed, there are in his book, 'xipl tpuaetav, 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 instrumentss 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 Kant, 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
* 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.
** The river which divides Essex from Suffolk. 10 A.D. 880. "Judith.
King Alfred, after the burning of cities and the slaughter of the inhabitants, rebuilt London with great honor, and made it habitable, and gave it into the charge of Ethered, earl of Mercia. To this king all the Angles and Saxons, who before had been dispersed in all quarters, or were with the pagans12 but not in captivity, came, and voluntarily submitted to his sway. At this period, Plegmund was archbishop of Canterbury.
In the year 886, the above-mentioned army left Paris, being unable to gain their object, and steered their fleet thence along the Seine, as far as a place called Chezy. There having taken up their quarters for a year, in the year following they entered the mouth of the river Iona," and, making great ravages to the country, remained there a year.
In the same year, Charles, king of the Franks, departed this life, in the sixth week after his expulsion from his kingdom by Ernulph, his brother's son. After his death the kingdom was divided into five parts, but the principal part devolved on Ernulph, to whom the other four, of their own accord, took the oath of fealty; inasmuch as not one of them could be legitimate heir on his father's side, except Ernulph alone: with him, therefore, remained the supreme power.
This, then, was the division of the kingdom: Ernulph received the countries on the eastern side of the river Rhine; Rhodulph the inland parts of the kingdom; Odo the west; and Beorgar and Wide14 Lombardy and all the lands on that side of the mountains. But these kingdoms, thus divided, afflicted each other with mighty wars, and the kings expelled one another out from their dominions.
In this year Ethelhem," earl of Wiltshire, carried to Rome the alms of king Alfred.
In the year 887, among the numberless good things that king Alfred did, he founded two most noble monasteries; one for monks, at a place which is called Ethelingege,16 or the "the island of nobles," where, collecting monks of various
M Asser seems to say that those submitted "who were in captivity with the heathens." This is clearly wrong, for they had not the opportunity of so doing. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Roger of Wendover agree with our author.
u Yonne. 14 Witha, or Guido.
15 Roger of Wendover erroneously calls this person Athelm, bishop of -Winchester. 16 Or Athelney, in Somersetshire.
orders, he first appointed John to be abbat, a priest and monk, and an ancient Saxon by birth; the other a noble monastery also near the east gate of Sceaftesbrig," he erected for the reception of nans, and over it he appointed as abbess his own daughter Ethelgiva, a virgin consecrated to God. These two monasteries he enriched with possessions in land, and riches of every kind.
In the year 888, Ethelfrid, archbishop of Canterbury, departed this life, and was succeeded by Plegmund.
In the year 889, king Guthrum, whom, as I have previously mentioned, king Alfred raised from the font, giving him the name of Ethelstan, departed this life. He, with his people, dwelt in East Anglia, and was the first who held and possessed that province, after the martyrdom of the king Saint Edmund.
In the year 890, Wulpher, archbishop of York, died, in the thirty-ninth year of his archiepiscopate.
In the year 892, Hasting, the pagan king, entered the mouth of the Thames, with eighty piratical ships, and threw up fortifications at Middletun.1s
In the year 893, Cuthred, king of Northumbria, died. The pagans of Northumbria ratified the peace with. Alfred by oath.
In the year 894, the pagans brought their ships up the river Thames, and after that, up the river Lige,19 and began to throw up their fortifications near the river, at the distance of twenty miles from London.
In the year 895, in summer time, a great part of the citizens of London, and a considerable number from the neighbouring places, attempted to destroy the fortifications which the pagans had constructed; but on their making a stout resistance, the Christians were put to flight, and four of the thanes of king Alfred slain.
In the year 896, the army of the pagans in East Anglia and Northumbria, collecting plunder by stealth on the coast, grievously laid waste the land of the West Saxons, and especially by using long and swift ships, which they had built many years before. To oppose them, by order of king Alfred ships were constructed, twice as long, sharp, and swift, and not so high,20 by the onset of which, the said ships of the
"Shaftesbury. 1s Milton, near Gravesend.
"Probably the same as the Limen or Rother, in Kent. *• The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle says they were higher.