King Edgar’s Private Life

Book 2, Chapter 8, Edwy the Fair from 955 AD to 975 – Archbishop Dunstan and the Clergy

Notwithstanding the praises lavished upon King. Edgar by his priestly encomiasts, it is evident that those praises were far from being disinterested, and even the writers had not cleverness enough to suppress facts most damaging to the character of their idol. Without soiling these pages with the disgraceful particulars given in the chronicles of the time, it may be observed that the king is proved to have been most coarse, low, and self willed in the gratification of his passions, on one occasion forcibly entering a convent and carrying off a beautiful nun, on another, demanding the daughter of a nobleman at whose house he was staying when on a journey.

Yet the punishment decreed by Dunstan for the former, which involved the grave ecclesiastical crime of a , violation of sanctuary, was abstinence from wearing the crown for a period of seven years, and a prolonged fast, which, according to the custom of the times, might be performed by deputies in a few hours or days. Enough is recorded, even by his eulogists, to prove that Edgar was one of the most vicious and profligate of the Saxon kings, but his sins, though indeed a multitude, were covered, not by true Christian charity, but by human expedients of benevolence and penances, for in the eyes Of the church, vast ecclesiastical endowments were sufficient atonement for the most flagitious conduct, and Edgar was not loth to purchase immunity in this way.

Chapter 8, Edwy the Fair


Origin of Anglo Saxon Surnames

Conflicting Testimony Concerning Edwy

Incident on His Coronation Day

Treatment of Elgiva

Edgar the Pacific

Chapter 8, Origin of Monasteries in England

Introduction of Celibacy

Their Rules and Practice

The Benedictines

Chapter 8, Dunstan

Sketch of Dunstan

His Alleged Visions and Miracles

Becomes Abbot, Bishop and Archbishop

Chapter 8, Archbishop Dunstan and the Clergy

His Character and Policy

Aided by Bishops Oswald and Ethelwald

The Secular Clergy Supplanted by the Monks

King Edgar’s Private Life

The Worth of the Eulogies Pronounced on Him by the Monks

The Canons of Edgar

His Position Among the Anglo-Saxon Kings

Policy Towards the Danes of Northumbria


Categories: Book 2

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