The Apocalypse Approaches I
Edward: King, as was his Natural Right

Edward, son of Æthelred the Unready, having spent most of his life exiled in Normandy, was recalled to England in 1041, seemingly with the intention of establishing him as the heir of his, possibly ailing, half-brother, King Harthacnut.*


Harthacnut died on 8th June:

“And all the people then received Edward for king, as was his natural right.”
Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript C

Edward was about thirty-nine years old when he succeeded to the English throne in 1042. After his death he came to be regarded as a saint – he was canonized in 1161 – and is known as Edward the Confessor.

Harthacnut's death had also left the Danish throne vacant. According to Scandinavian tradition, as related by Snorri Sturluson, Harthacnut and Magnus Olafsson, king of Norway (Magnus I ‘the Good’), had agreed that if one of them died without a son, then the survivor would inherit the kingdom of the other.* Accordingly, Magnus assembled a fleet and sailed to Denmark, where he was accepted as king without opposition. Magnus, though, believed that his agreement with Harthacnut entitled him to rule England also.

Snorri tells how Magnus installed Swein – the son of King Cnut's sister, Estrith, and Earl Ulf Thorgilsson – as his regent in Denmark. Swein's father, Ulf Thorgilsson, had acted in a similar capacity under Cnut. Ulf subsequently betrayed Cnut, and Cnut had him killed.* Snorri says that after Magnus had been acclaimed king in Denmark, Swein, who had been a refugee in Sweden since his father's death, travelled to Norway and submitted to him. Swein ingratiated himself with Magnus, and the king decided to make him an earl and put him in charge of Denmark. Before long, however, Swein assumed the title king, and began to contend with Magnus for the Danish throne. This ‘like father, like son’ story of betrayed trust is, however, contradicted by a rather better placed source.

Swein Estrithsson, himself,* was an informant of Adam of Bremen, so presumably Adam's reportage reflects Swein's own account of events. The resulting story, though, contains obvious distortions, which serve to bolster Swein's interests. In this instance (II, 74), Magnus' success in establishing himself as king of Norway (actually 1035) and his take-over of Denmark are blurred together, the combined event being placed just before Harthacnut's death. Harthacnut is said to have put his kinsman Swein in charge of a fleet to oppose Magnus.* Having been defeated, Swein returned to England to discover that Harthacnut had died and Edward had been chosen as his successor. Adam (i.e. Swein himself) maintains that Edward was afraid Swein would press his own claim to the English throne, and so, to mollify him, agreed that, even if he had sons of his own, Swein would be his heir. Happy with the deal, Swein returned to Denmark to carry-on the fight against Magnus.

The foremost earl in England, Godwine, an Englishman who owed his position to Cnut, was married to Swein's aunt, Earl Ulf's sister, Gytha, and Swein's brothers, Beorn and Osbeorn, evidently lived in England. It was apparently thanks to Godwine's advocacy that Edward was chosen to be king, but it is hard to believe there were any feelings of friendship between the two men – Godwine had previously favoured Cnut's sons and had delivered Edward's brother, Alfred, to his death in 1037.*


Edward's coronation took place, at Winchester, on Easter Day (3rd April).*

A mid-13th century illustration, from a verse ‘Life’ of St Edward the Confessor (Cambridge University Library MS Ee.iii.59)*, showing Edward's reception in England, on the left-hand side, and his coronation, on the right.*

On 16th November, Edward, apparently acting on the advice of the witan, rode from Gloucester to Winchester, accompanied by the three great earls of England, Godwine of Wessex, Leofric of Mercia and Siward of Northumbria, with their retinues, and descended unannounced on his mother's residence:

“... and they bereaved her of all the treasures which she owned, which were untold; because she had before been very hard to the king her son, inasmuch as she had done less for him than he wanted before he was king, and also since then. And after that they let her reside therein.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D
“... the king caused all the lands which his mother possessed to be seized into his hand; and took from her all that she possessed in gold and in silver, and in untold things; because she had before held it too firmly from him.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C and E*
“And soon after, Stigand was deposed from his bishopric [East Anglia], and all that he owned was seized into the king's hand; because he was closest in his mother's counsel, and she went as he advised her, as it was supposed.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript C

According to the ‘Chronicle’, then, Emma had seemingly incurred Edward's wrath by neglecting his interests before he became king, and by subsequently withholding wealth he believed was rightly his. Emma had, of course, abandoned Edward in Normandy, so he no doubt felt resentment on that score, and she had a track-record for keeping royal funds to herself,* but the sudden, dramatic, action taken in November 1043 seems like a response to something more pressing. The ‘Translation of St Mildrith’, written half-a-century after the event, provides a surprising (and completely uncorroborated) motive for the king's swift retribution:

“While he [Edward] was reigning in peace like unto Solomon, his own mother was accused of inciting Magnus, king of Norway, to invade England, and it was said that she had given countless treasures to Magnus. Wherefore this traitor to the kingdom, this enemy of the country, this betrayer of her own son, was judged, and everything she possessed was forfeited to the king.”*

St Mildrith, in spirit of course, intervenes on Emma's behalf (which is the whole point of the story) – Edward regrets his actions, begs his mother's pardon, and reinstates her.


Whatever the truth of the matter, Emma and, indeed, Stigand do seem to have quickly recovered their positions (though probably without the help of St Mildrith). Manuscript E of the ‘Chronicle’ notices Stigand's restoration to his bishopric in 1044, and Emma appears in the witness-lists of two charters (S1001, S1006), first after Edward, before 25th July 1044.*

In the same year, presumably in anticipation of an invasion by Magnus Olafsson, Edward:

“... went out to Sandwich with 35 ships ...”*
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C and E


On 23rd January, Edward married Edith (Old English: Eadgyth), the daughter of Earl Godwine and Gytha (sister of Earl Ulf). Charter evidence indicates that, about the same time, both Harold, son of Godwine and Gytha, and Beorn Estrithsson (Swein's brother), nephew of Godwine and Gytha, were given earldoms – Harold's earldom was East Anglia, Beorn's included Hertfordshire. Harold's older brother, another Swein (OE: Swegen), of whom much more later, had already been given an earldom that included Gloucestershire and Herefordshire at the beginning of Edward's reign.*

In the summer of 1045:

“... King Edward gathered a great ship-force at Sandwich [“no man had seen any greater ship-army in this land”, Manuscript C], on account of the threatening of Magnus of Norway; but his and Swein's [Swein Estrithsson's] war in Denmark hindered him from coming hither.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D*


“... and Magnus won Denmark.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D

Snorri Sturluson tells of the three battles thus far fought by Swein and Magnus. Each had ended in victory for Magnus and Swein's flight. At this stage, Snorri suggests that Magnus, after a diplomatic exchange with Edward, shelved his invasion plans.* There now appeared on the scene Magnus' uncle (a half-brother of his father), Harald Sigurdsson, later known as Harald Hardrada (literally ‘Hard-counsel’, implying ruthlessness), who had had an adventurous career in southern and eastern Europe. Harold and Swein met at the Swedish court (where Swein had taken refuge), they formed an alliance, and, having collected an army, invaded Denmark. Magnus made preparations to oppose them. Before battle was joined, however, Magnus, secretly, made an offer to share the rule of Norway with Harald. Swein was suspicious of Harald's loyalties, and, after an argument, had an assassin make an attempt on Harald's life. This act of treachery persuaded Harald that he should join Magnus.*


“And Swein also sent hither, praying for aid against Magnus, king of Norway; that 50 ships should be sent to his aid. But it seemed unadvisable to all folk; and then it was prevented, by reason that Magnus had a great strength in ships....
.... And he then ousted Swein, and with much man-slaying won the land; and the Danes paid him much money, and received him for king. And that same year Magnus died.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D*

Magnus died on 25th October 1047. Snorri Sturluson says that Magnus decreed from his death-bed that Harald Sigurdsson should rule Norway, but Swein should rule Denmark – an arrangement that Harald, who thought it was his hereditary right to rule both Norway and Denmark, was obliged to accept.


“In this year Swein came again to Denmark, and Harald, the paternal uncle of Magnus, went to Norway after Magnus was dead; and the Norwegians received him; and he sent hither to this country about peace.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript D

The threat of invasion had passed (for the time being anyway).


In the opening years of his reign, when the threat of invasion was ever present, Edward expelled a number of high-profile figures – presumably they were suspected fifth-columnists. Manuscript D of the ‘Chronicle’ reports:

“And in this year [i.e. 1044] the noble woman Gunnhild, King Cnut's kinswoman, was banished; and afterwards she long resided at Bruges, and then went to Denmark.”

Whilst in 1046, all manuscripts of the ‘Chronicle’ report that a worthy called Osgod Clapa was exiled. It was at the wedding-feast of Osgod's daughter that Harthacnut had his fatal seizure. At some stage, Osbeorn Estrithsson (brother of Swein and Beorn) was banished from England.


Florence of Worcester adds further information regarding Gunnhild. He says (s.a. 1044) that she was the daughter of a sister (unnamed) of Cnut, and that she had been widowed twice. Her first husband was Earl Hakon (he was the son of the Norwegian earl Eric of Hlathir and Cnut's sister Gytha; he drowned in the winter of 1029/30), and her second was a certain Earl Harald. Florence notes that Gunnhild's sons, Hemming and Thorkell, accompanied her into exile. Now, Thorkell the Tall had a son called Harald, and he also had a brother called Hemming. It seems a pretty safe bet that the Earl Harald who was married to Gunnhild was Thorkell the Tall's son (he may well be the son of Thorkell brought up, in England, by Cnut), who named his own sons after his father and uncle. Neither does it seem unreasonable to assume that the Earl Harald (Harald dux) who is signatory to a charter of 1042 (S1396) is the same Harald. This charter associates Earl Harald with Worcestershire, so he appears to have not only married Hakon's widow, but to have succeeded to his earldom also.* It is further widely believed that the “innocent Danish prince” called Harald, whom Adam of Bremen reports (II, 75) was murdered on behalf of Magnus whilst returning from Rome, “because he appeared to stand nearer the sceptre than did Magnus”, by Ordulf (son of Duke Bernhard II of Saxony), who had just married Magnus' sister. This Harald's death has been dated to 13th November 1042.
In 1046:    “Osgod Clapa was outlawed before Midwinter.”  Manuscript C
“Osgod the staller was outlawed.”  Manuscript D
“Osgod Clapa was driven out.”  Manuscript E
Osgod's nickname, Clapa, suggests he was a coarse, rough, person. As a result of doubling-up the year-number 1043, Manuscript E is now running two years behind the true date. Osgod's fall from grace is, therefore, correctly placed s.a. 1046 in Manuscript C, but s.a. 1047 in Manuscript D and s.a. 1044 in Manuscript E.
Adam of Bremen records Osbeorn Estrithsson's expulsion (III, 13), but the scenario into which it is fitted bears little relation to reality! Adam also says that both Beorn and Osbeorn were earls (Latin duces) in England, but no Earl Osbeorn features in the witness-lists of English charters.

Earl Godwine's eldest son, Swein, held an earldom that included Gloucestershire and Herefordshire. Actually, according to a late-11th century Worcester monk called Hemming*, Swein claimed that his father was not Godwine at all, but was King Cnut. His appalled mother is said to have gone to great lengths to prove that Godwine was, indeed, his father, but Swein persisted with his claim. Anyway, in 1046 Earl Swein allied himself with Gruffudd ap Llywelyn, king of Gwynedd, in a raid on, their common neighbours, the southern Welsh*. On his way home from the raid, Manuscript C of the ‘Chronicle’ reports that:

“... he ordered the Abbess of Leominster to be fetched to him, and had her while it suited him, and then let her go home.”

Florence of Worcester says (retrospectively, s.a. 1049) that the abbess “whom he had corrupted” was called Eadgifu. The Worcester monk Hemming maintains that Swein kept the abducted abbess as his wife, for a full year, until he was threatened with excommunication by Eadsige, archbishop of Canterbury, and Lyfing, bishop of Worcester. To get his own back, Swein appropriated three estates from the church of Worcester. Sadly for the veracity of Hemming's testimony, Lyfing died on 23rd March 1046, and Eadsige resigned, for health reasons, in 1044 (he returned to office in 1048). Nevertheless, a year after the abduction, Swein was compelled to quit England, and Florence of Worcester presents the two events as cause and effect. Manuscript E of the ‘Chronicle’ notes that he “went out to Baldwin's land [i.e. Flanders]” in 1047. He overwintered at Bruges, and then departed in the summer. It is evident that he went to Denmark – presumably entering the service of his cousin, Swein Estrithsson.


“In this year there was a great earthquake widely throughout England.* And in the same year Sandwich and the Isle of Wight were ravaged, and the best men who were there, slain.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript C

Manuscript E provides some details of this Viking raid. The fleet of twenty-five ships was led by two chieftains, Lothen and Yrling. After plundering Sandwich, they sailed to Thanet, but were beaten off by the locals. Crossing the Thames, they then ravaged Essex. Manuscript C says that “King Edward and the earls went out with their ships”, but the Vikings must have escaped capture, since Manuscript E reports that they sold their ill-gotten gains in “Baldwin's land”.


Baldwin V, count of Flanders, had joined a rebellion against Henry III, Holy Roman Emperor. Baldwin had devastated Henry's palace at Nijmegen. In 1049, Henry assembled a large, multi-national, force against Baldwin:

“Moreover Swein [Estrithsson], king of the Danes, was there, at the emperors bidding, with his fleet, and swore fealty, for that occasion, to the emperor.”
Florence of Worcester
“He [Henry] sent also to King Edward, and craved naval-aid [scipfultumes] from him, that he would not allow him [Baldwin] to escape from him by water. And he [Edward] went then to Sandwich, and there continued to lie with a great ship-army [sciphere], until the emperor had from Baldwin all that he wanted.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscripts C and D

Whilst Edward was at Sandwich, Swein Godwinesson (the abbess corrupter), having committed some serious offence which had forced his departure from Denmark, arrived with eight ships at Bosham, Sussex.* Swein travelled overland, to Sandwich, to seek the king's pardon. It would appear that Edward was prepared to restore Swein to his earldom, but this was vigorously opposed by Swein's brother, Earl Harold, and his cousin, Earl Beorn Estrithsson, between whom Swein's estates seem to have been divided.* Swein was sent away empty handed, and given four days safe-conduct to return to his ships. In the meantime, Henry and Baldwin had come to terms. The Mercian contingent of the English fleet was allowed to return home. Edward remained at Sandwich with a few ships, but a detachment of forty-two ships of the Wessex contingent, plus two royal vessels, commanded by Godwine, Beorn and, another of Godwine's sons, Tostig, set-off to deal with “hostile ships” which “lay westward and were harrying” (MS E). These “hostile ships” were a Viking fleet of thirty-six ships, from Ireland, which had formed an alliance with Gruffudd ap Rhydderch, king of South Wales, and were raiding along the river Severn*.

Edward had just dispersed his forces when he was informed that Osgod Clapa, whom he had outlawed in 1046, was in Flanders with a substantial fleet. In preparation for the impending attack, Edward recalled as many ships he could. Exactly what happened next is difficult to fathom. It isn't clear if Osgod himself participated in the ensuing raid, which ended badly for the Viking fleet.


The Osgod incident is not reported in Manuscript E of the ‘Chronicle’.
Manuscript C: “Then it was made known to the king that Osgod lay at Wulpe with 29 [xxix] ships. The king then sent after those ships which he was able to summon, which lay within the Northmouth. But Osgod placed his wife in Bruges, and went back again with 6 ships; and the others went to Essex, to Eadulfsness [the Naze], and there did harm, and went again to their ships.”
Manuscript D: “Then it was made known to the king that Osgod lay at Wulpe with 39 [xxxix] ships, and the king then sent after those ships which he was able to summon, which had before gone home. And Osgod placed his wife in Bruges, and went back again with 6 ships; and the others went to Sussex [an obvious slip-up, Essex being meant], to Eadulfsness, and there did harm, and went again to their ships. And then a strong wind came against them, so that they were all destroyed but four, the crews of which were slain beyond sea.”
As interpreted by Florence of Worcester: “When it was told him [Edward] that Osgod Clapa was lying with 29 [xxix] ships at Wulpe, he recalled as many as possible of the ships which he had dismissed. But Osgod, taking with him his wife, whom he had left at Bruges, returned with six ships to Denmark. But some of them went to Essex, and returned, having taken great spoil about Eadulfsness. However, a great storm overtook them on their return, and sunk them all except two, which were taken at sea, and all on board were slain.”
Manuscripts C and D both report Osgod's sudden death, in his bed, in 1054, which might suggest he was in England at the time.

The fleet commanded by Godwine et al. was lying weather-bound at Pevensey, when Swein, the proverbial bad penny, turned-up. He persuaded Beorn to accompany him to Edward, at Sandwich, and help him regain the king's favour. Fearing no treachery from his cousin, Beorn and just three of his men rode-off with Swein. Beorn, however, was led to Swein's ships at Bosham. He was taken captive and carried onboard. They sailed to Dartmouth, where Beorn was killed and buried.* No motive for the crime is given. Of Swein's original eight ships, six deserted him. Two of them were captured by “the men of Hastings and thereabouts” (MS D). Their crews were killed and the ships taken to Edward, at Sandwich.

“And Swein then went east to Baldwin's land, and resided there all the winter, at Bruges, with his full protection.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript E

Earl Harold, Swein's brother, had Beorn's body reburied in the Old Minster, Winchester, adjacent to King Cnut.

“And then the king and all the army declared Swein a nithing.”
‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ Manuscript C


It seems that King Edward's standing navy comprised fourteen ships. His confidence that the threat of invasion was over is reflected by the fact that early in 1050 he paid-off nine crews, who “went away, ships and all” (MS C).*

Also in the first quarter of 1050, Bishop Ealdred of Worcester and Bishop Hereman of Ramsbury travelled to Rome: “on the king's errand” (MS C).* Presumably it was on the return journey that Ealdred met-up with Swein Godwinesson. Ealdred must have been persuaded that Swein was a reformed character, since he accompanied him back to England, and, says Florence of Worcester, “set him at peace with the king”.  Swein was restored to his earldom.

See: End of the Line.
Much scholarly ink has been expended speculating on possible reasons for the considerable delay between Edward's election in 1042 and his coronation in 1043. There need not necessarily be sinister implications, however. Edward had evidently already sworn his kingly oaths in 1041. Perhaps he simply felt that the holiest day in the Christian calendar would be the most auspicious time for his coronation ceremony.
The sequence of events presented by the ‘Anglo-Saxon Chronicle’ is:
1) In 1041, Edward was recalled to England, at which time he was “sworn in as king”.
2) In 1042 Harthacnut died and Edward was promptly chosen as his successor, “as was his natural right”.
3) In 1043, “Edward was hallowed king at Winchester, on the first day of Easter, with great honour”.
In the various ‘Lives’ of Edward, however, this sequence is shortened and simplified – Harthacnut dies, Edward is chosen to be king in absentia, he is recalled to England and consecrated king.
Manuscript E did not have an entry for 1039, but the chronicler failed to leave the annal blank, and incorrectly assigned his 1040 entry to 1039. Since then Manuscript E has been one year behind the true date – the entry for 1043 appearing s.a. 1042.
The king's advisory council, composed of important secular and ecclesiastical personages.
‘Translation of St Mildrith’ (§18). This snippet is provided as a footnote in ‘The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: A Revised Translation’, edited by Dorothy Whitelock with David C. Douglas and Susie I. Tucker (1961).
Manuscripts C and D of the ‘Chronicle report that, following the death of King Cnut on 12th November 1035, his son (but not Emma's), Harold Harefoot: “sent thither [to Emma, in Winchester], and caused to be taken from her all the best treasures [“which she could not withhold” adds MS C] that King Cnut had possessed”.  (See: End of the Line.)
In S1001 and S1006, Emma is called by her English name, Ælfgifu, and is titled regis mater (‘king's mother’). Ælfweard, bishop of London, also features in the witness-lists, and he died on 25th July 1044.
OED: A coward, a villain; a person who breaks the law or a code of honour; an outlaw.  William of Malmesbury notes (‘GR’ IV §306) that the English: “thought nothing more disgraceful than to be stigmatized by such an appellation”.
This notice is preceded by the report that: “in this year there was a very great famine over all England, and corn so dear as no man before remembered, so that the sester of wheat went to 60 pence, and even further.”
‘Heimskringla’, ‘Saga of Magnus the Good’.
See: Cnut the Great.
In a writ of King Cnut (S991), Hakon is directly addressed as earl in Worcestershire. This document is rather dubious, but as Edward A. Freeman* points out: “A forger would hardly have inserted a name so little known as that of Hakon in a spurious writ, unless he had seen it in a genuine writ.”
* ‘The History of the Norman Conquest of England, Its Causes and Its Results’ Volume II, Second Edition, Revised (1870), Appendix, Note G.
Swein is generally called, by modern English historians anyway, Swein Estrithsson (Snorri Sturluson calls him Swein Ulfsson), after his mother, who, like King Cnut of course, was the daughter of Swein Forkbeard, king of Denmark and, briefly in 1013–14, England (see: The Wrath of God).
Though since the year number 1044 was omitted, this entry appears s.a. 1045.
In two writs of King Edward (S1073, S1074), Harold is directly addressed as earl in East Anglia. Similarly, Beorn is addressed as earl in Hertfordshire in two, albeit dubious, writs (S1122, S1123). Also, Florence of Worcester, s.a. 1051, defines Harold's earldom as “Essex, East Anglia, Huntingdonshire and Cambridgeshire”, and Swein's as “Oxfordshire, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, Somerset and Berkshire”.
Because the year-number 1044 was omitted, Manuscript D is now one year in advance of the true date. This entry, therefore, appears s.a. 1046, rather than, the correct, 1045.
Frank Stenton* writes: “The later development of the Old English royal household is obscured by the indiscriminate use of a word staller, apparently borrowed from the Norse stallari, as a term which could be applied to anyone with a permanent and recognized position in the King's company.”
* Sir Frank Stenton, ‘Anglo-Saxon England’, Third Edition (1971), Chapter 17.
‘Heimskringla’, ‘Saga of Harald Sigurdsson’.
Manuscript D begins its entries for 1047 (which are erroneously placed s.a. 1048) with the comment: “In this year was the hard winter”.  Manuscript C is more dramatic: “after Candlemas [2nd February], came the severe winter, with frost and with snow, and with all kinds of bad weather, so that there was no man alive who could remember so severe a winter as that was, both through mortality of men and murrain of cattle; both birds and fishes perished through the great cold and hunger.”  Manuscript C is evidently using the convention of starting the year on the 25th March after the 1st of January which currently marks the start of the year (see: Anno Domini), so, though referring to February 1047, this report concludes the entries s.a. 1046. (Similarly, the marriage of Edward and Edith, which took place “ten nights before Candlemas”, i.e. on 23rd January, 1045, concludes the entries s.a. 1044 in Manuscript C.) In the entries s.a. 1047, Manuscript C notes: “And there was over all England a very great mortality in the same year.”
A note added after the original text was written.
Manuscript E is running two years behind the true date, so the events of 1047 are placed s.a. 1045.
Manuscript D: “And in this year was also an earthquake, on the Kalends of May [1st May], in many places, at Worcester, and at Droitwich, and at Derby, and elsewhere; and there was also a great mortality among men, and a murrain among cattle; and the wildfire also did much evil in Derbyshire and elsewhere.”
Manuscript D: “Thither came also Earl Swein, who had before gone from this land to Denmark, and had there ruined himself with the Danes.”
Manuscripts C and D, and Florence of Worcester, say Swein had eight (viii, in Roman numerals) ships, Manuscript E says seven (vii, in Roman numerals).
Manuscript D is still one year in advance of the true date, so the events of 1049 appear s.a. 1050. Manuscript E, however, by repeating the year-number 1046, has now slipped three years behind the true date – the events of 1049 being placed s.a. 1046.
This whole episode is reported, at length, by Manuscripts C, D and E of the ‘Chronicle’. They each provide different details from which the overall picture emerges. However, Beorn's attitude to Swein is difficult to pin down – he is presented as both hostile and sympathetic.
See: A Tale of Two Gruffudds.
The northern end of the Wantsum Channel, that separated the Isle of Thanet from mainland Kent. Sandwich was a major seaport at the southern end, on the mainland side, of the channel. Today, however, the Wantsum Channel is silted-up, Thanet is an island in name only, and Sandwich is a couple of miles from the coast.
Manuscripts C and D say Beorn was killed at Dartmouth. Manuscript E implies it was Axmouth. Manuscripts C and D say that Beorn's body was: “deeply buried.”  Manuscript E says: “they took the body and buried it in a church.”
In Manuscript C, the convention of starting the year on the 25th March after the 1st of January which currently marks the start of the year is in operation. Accordingly, this event appears towards the end of the entries s.a. 1049. Manuscript E implies that the decision was taken at “a great meeting in London at mid-Lent” (although, Manuscript E being three years adrift, this notice appears s.a. 1047).
In the later ‘Lives’ of St Edward, Edward is said to have made a vow to go on pilgrimage to Rome. His council was fearful of the consequences of his absence, so the two bishops were dispatched to ask the pope (Leo IX, 1049–54) to release him from his vow. The pope agreed, on condition that Edward donated the money he would have spent on his pilgrimage to ‘the poor’, and that he should build, or rebuild, an abbey, to be dedicated to St Peter. To fulfil the second condition, Edward decided to rebuild the dilapidated monastery at Thorney – an island in the marshes on the north side of the Thames, to the west of London. The site became known as Westminster.
Marc Morris* reckons that Harthacnut appointed Swein Estrithsson to act as his regent in Denmark whilst he ruled in England.
* ‘The Norman Conquest’ (2012), Chapter 4.
This verse ‘Life’ (‘La Estoire de Seint Aedward le Rei’) was written, in French, around 1240 (though the surviving manuscript is a little later, c.1250-60). The author may well have been Matthew Paris (d.1259), the famous chronicler and monk of St Albans Abbey. It is based on a Latin ‘Life’ by Ailred of Rievaulx, written in honour of St Edward's enshrinement at Westminster Abbey in 1163. Ailred's work was, in turn, based on the first real saint's ‘Life’ of Edward, by Osbert of Clare, prior of Westminster, produced in 1138 to promote Edward as a suitable candidate for canonization. The starting point of Osbert's work appears to have been the anonymous and snappily titled ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis qui apud Westmonasterium requiescit’ (Life of King Edward who rests at Westminster), which seems to date from 1065–7.
The ‘Vita Ædwardi Regis qui apud Westmonasterium requiescit’ (Life of King Edward who rests at Westminster) survives in a single, incomplete (eight pages are evidently missing), manuscript of c.1100 (BL Harley 526). It was commissioned by Queen Edith (d.1075), wife of King Edward and daughter of Earl Godwine. The anonymous author was probably a monk from the monastery of Saint-Bertin, at Saint-Omer in Flanders (now France), working in England. The work falls into two distinct sections. The first is historical in nature, and, in fact, King Edward is almost an incidental character – the focus being on Edith's family. This section would appear to have been begun in the autumn of 1065 and abandoned during 1066 (Edward's death in January 1066 is the last event mentioned), as the traumatic events that destroyed the family unfolded. The second section, being concerned with manifestations of Edward's sanctity, is in-effect a saint's ‘Life’ in embryo. The indications are that it was composed in 1067.
‘Translatio Sancte Mildrethe Virginis cum Miraculorum Attestatione’, written around 1090 by Goscelin of Saint-Bertin (a monk from Flanders who worked as a hagiographer in England). It gives an account of the history of Minster-in-Thanet following Mildrith's death (after 732), the translation of her relics to St Augustine's Abbey Canterbury (probably 1030, but possibly 1035), and the subsequent miracles attributed to her.
Charters are referred to by their number in Sawyer's catalogue.
Available online: The Electronic Sawyer.
Icelandic historian Snorri Sturluson's ‘Heimskringla’ – a collection of sagas chronicling the kings of Norway, written in Old Norse – was composed about 1230. The work begins with the statement: “In this book I have had written old stories about those rulers who have held power in the Northern lands and have spoken the Scandinavian language, as I have heard them told by learned men, and some of their genealogies according to what I have been taught, some of which is found in the records of paternal descent in which kings and other men of high rank have traced their ancestry, and some is written according to old poems or narrative songs which people used to use for their entertainment. And although we do not know how true they are, we know of cases where learned men of old have taken such things to be true.”
The ‘Gesta Hammaburgensis Ecclesiae Pontificum’ (Deeds of Bishops of the Hamburg Church) was written between 1072 and 1076, though Adam continued to revise it until his death c.1081.
‘Hemmings Cartulary’, British Library MS Cotton Tiberius A xiii.
‘Gesta Regum Anglorum’ (Deeds of the Kings of England).