Policy Towards the Danes of Northumbria

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

Edgar had been educated among the Danes of East Anglia, the Northumbrians had united with that people and the Mercians to raise him to the throne, and they respected him as a king whom they had not only chosen for themselves, but had imposed on the hostile kingdom of Wessex. He, whether from gratitude or policy, paid to them on all occasions the most marked attention, and the only blot which the southern annalists could discover in his character, was his partiality for the manners, and his zeal for the welfare of his Danish subjects. Still he appears to have kept a watchful eye over their conduct, and on the death of Osulf, their first earl, his jealousy taught him to diminish the power of Northumbria by dividing it into two earldoms, of which he gave one, extending from the Humber as far as the Tees, to Oslac, and the other, comprising the lands on the north of that river, to Eadulf.

Soon after this division the witan assembled at York, and Edgar addressed them in language, which, while it suited his own dignity, was soothing to the vanity of a high spirited people “It is my will,” said the king, “that with respect to worldly rights, the Danes choose fur themselves such laws as are best, and that the English observe the statutes which I and my counsellors have added to the ancient dooms. But one thing 1 would have to be common to all my people, English, Danes, and Britons, in every part of my empire, that both rich and poor possess in peace what they have rightfully acquired, and that no thief find a place where he may secure the property which he has stolen.” After a few regulations for this purpose, he proceeds “Again it is my will that the Danes select for themselves the best laws in their power. This permission I have granted you, and will grant you, as long as I live, for the fidelity which you have always borne to me. Among the English, I and my witan have fixed proportionate tines for different transgressions, and my wish is that you do the same with discretion and for my interest. And let the Earl Oslac and all the military men, who dwell in this earldom, observe it, and let copies be made, and sent to the ealdormen, that it may come to the knowledge of all, both rich and poor. As long as I live I will be to you a faithful lord, and most kind to all who shall be careful to keep my peace.” Edgar died in 975, after a reign of sixteen years.

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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