In William of Jumièges' version of events, Alfred, with his "considerable force", was clearly intent on pressing his claim to the throne. Having arrived at Dover, Alfred advanced inland, and was met by Earl Godwine:
The 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle', Manuscript C, annal for the year 1036:
and he dispersed his companions and killed some in various ways;
some were sold for money, some were cruelly killed,
some were put in fetters, some were blinded,
some were mutilated, some were scalped.
No more horrible deed was done in this land
since the Danes came and peace was made here.
Now we must trust to the beloved God
that they rejoice happily with Christ
who were without guilt so miserably slain.
The ætheling still lived. He was threatened with every evil,
until it was decided to take him thus
in bonds to Ely.
As soon as he arrived, he was blinded on the ship,
and thus blind was brought to the monks,
and he dwelt there as long as he lived.
Then he was buried as well befitted him,
very honourably, as he deserved,
in the south chapel at the west end, full close to the steeple.
His soul is with Christ."
Manuscript D's annal is virtually identical, but has one significant difference - all reference to Godwine is omitted. Manuscript E does not record the incident at all. Florence of Worcester, however, in his rendition of the 'Chronicle' annal, emphasises Godwine's antipathy to Alfred:
Florence weaves extra elements into the version of events described by the 'Chronicle'. He says that both Edward and Alfred:
At this time, Edward was, purportedly, at Winchester. When Emma heard of Alfred's capture, she hastily despatched Edward back to Normandy. The rest of Florence's account, in essence, follows the 'Chronicle'. He adds, however, that six hundred of Alfred's men were killed, and that the massacre took place at Guildford.
The 'Encomium Emmae Reginae' provides an extraordinary account of the circumstances leading to Alfred's death. The Encomiast says that Harold ("the usurper") hatched a plan to kill Emma's children ("that henceforth he might be able to reign in security"). He had a letter written, as if from Emma, to Edward and Alfred in Normandy:
The brothers, thinking they were replying to their mother, sent word back that "one of them would come to her", giving the time and place. The information was taken straight to Harold's agents ("the foes of God"). In the event, it was Alfred ("the younger prince") who, "with his brother's approval", and accompanied by an unspecified number of companions, undertook the journey. He travelled to Flanders, and (declining an offer of additional forces made by Baldwin V, count of Flanders, but taking on "a few men of Boulogne") from there crossed the Channel. Noticing that there was opposition waiting for him, Alfred abandoned his first attempt to land. Believing he had avoided ambush, he landed elsewhere, and set out to meet Emma (whom the Encomiast, it is apparent, believed was in London):
After Alfred's soldiers had retired for the night; "behold, men leagued with the most abominable tyrant Harold" entered their billets, removed their weapons, and placed them in irons. The following day, nine out of ten of them were executed.
Of course, it is possible that Harold sent the forged letter, as quoted by the Encomiast, to Edward and Alfred. It is also possible that Emma sent the letter herself. Whilst it seems likely that Emma did, in fact, encourage Edward and Alfred to return to England, the general consensus is that the Encomiast's letter is an invention - designed to absolve Emma of all responsibility for Alfred's death, and place the blame entirely with Harold. The Encomiast also pussyfoots around Godwine's involvement in the affair, which, given that Godwine was at the height of his power when the ''Encomium' was written, is, perhaps, not surprising.
Both William of Malmesbury and Henry of Huntingdon date Alfred's death incorrectly. William of Malmesbury dates it to 1040. He lays the blame for Alfred's blinding "chiefly" with Godwine, but places the incident at Gillingham. He mentions "nine-tenths of his companions being beheaded", and says Alfred subsequently died at Ely. Henry of Huntingdon contrives to incorporate Alfred's death into the events of 1042. He moves the massacre back to Guildford, and says that when nine out of ten had been beheaded, there were still too many left, so the process was repeated ("very few indeed escaped"). Alfred was taken to Ely, his eyes were put out, and he died. Blame for the whole thing is placed firmly with Godwine ("the bold earl and consummate traitor"). Both William and Henry believed that Alfred was older than Edward - Henry claiming that Edward "was the younger and the more simple of the two brothers". The Encomiast (a contemporary, though, admittedly, not unimpeachable, source) says that Edward was the elder. However, the statement of the 'Anglo-Saxon Chronicle', that he acted as Æthelred's representative, in 1014, is highly suggestive that Edward was indeed the eldest.