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bury and Athelney; he called from other lands learned
Translation of Pastoral Care.' - One of these works
Ælfréd kyning háteð grétan Alfred, king, biddeth greet
hither to this land, and how we
abroad, if we would have them.
Swæ feáwa hiora wæron Hæt ic
other side of Humber. So few of
Translation of Orosius.--Another work chosen for
Othere séde his hláforde.
Hé wæs swide spédig mann on
Othere said to his lord king
He was a very wealthy man in
THE SAXON CHRONICLES. ANOTHER work of King Alfred was the translation of Bæda's noble history, and it is possible that to this we owe the most precious remnant of Saxon literature ---the Chronicles. There are seven of these Chronicles now existing ; they are designated by the letters A, B, C, D, E, F, G, and the one marked A is probably the parent of all the rest. At the time of the Reformation it was in the library of Christ Church monastery at Canterbury; Archbishop Parker gained possession of it and bequeathed it to Benet (now Corpus Christi) College in Cambridge, and there it now is. Internal evidence connects it with Winchester rather than Canterbury, and it is often cited as the Winchester Chronicle. It is the work of several scribes, and the first handwriting ceases at 891, the year in which Phlegmund became archbishop, and it is extremely probable that so far at least it is the work of King Alfred's reign.
The Chronicle begins with the year 60 B.C., and from thence to A.D. 449 it is compiled from various Latin authors, and chiefly from Bæda. From 449 to 731 (where Beda ceases) there are many such entries, mingled, however, with gleanings from the half-lost history of Wessex and Kent, gained from songs, runic stones, and rolls of kings. Of such a kind is the entry for the year 473 :
Her Hengest and Æsc gefuhton Here (at this time) Hengist wi8 Walas, and genamon unari- and Aesc fought with the Welsh medlico here reaf, and Na Walas (Britons), and took innumerable flugon da Englan swa fyr.
spoil, and the Welsh fled from the English like fire.
The period of thirty years ending with 855 bears marks of contemporary freshness. It records among other things Alfred's visit to Rome with his father, and it may, perhaps, be the work of the saintly Swithun, bishop of Winchester, who also went with the king to Rome. The period closes with the death of Ethelwulf, and with a great genealogy of the Wessex kings, ascending up to Wodin, thence to Hrathra, who was born in the ark,' thence to · Adam primus homo et pater noster, id est Christus. Amen.'
The period from 894 to 897 is described as the most remarkable piece of writing in the whole series of Chronicles. It is a warm, vigorous, earnest narrative, free from the rigidity of the other annals, full of life and originality. It reads more like a narrative of our own time than Alfred's.' 1
The following is part of the entry for 896 :--
On 8y ylcan gere worhte se fore In the same year wrought the sprecene here geweorc be Lygan before-mentioned army a fort by xx mila bufan Lunden byrig. Da the Lea twenty miles above London
sumera foron micel dæl town. Then in the summer went Para burgwara, and eac swa odres forth a great part of the townsmen, folces. Dæt hie gedydon æt Sara and also of other folk. Thus they Deniscana geweorc, and Jær wur did to the Danish fort, and there don gefliemde, and sume feower they were put to flight, and some cyninges Hegnas ofslægene. Da four king's thanes
were slain. Hæs on hærfæste da wicode se Theu after this, in harvest, the cyng on neaweste Pare byrig, da king encamped in the neighbourhwile de hie hira corn gerypon, hood of the town the while they Dæt Ha Deniscan him ne mehton reaped their corn, that the Danes Bæs ripes forwiernan.
might not prevent them from the
reaping. Down to the year 924 the narrative is of the same.
character but more subdued, but the record from 925 to 975 is extremely meagre. The years 937, 942, 973, 975 have no prose entry, but a poetical piece is inserted in each of these years, and the first is the noble ode on the Battle of Brunanburg, which begins thus :
Her Ædelstan cyning Here Æthelstan the king
of earls the lord
and his brother also Eadmund ædeling
Eadmund the prince geslogon æt sæcce
fought in battle sweorda ecgum
with edge of swords ymbe Brunanburh.
near Brunanburg. At the end of the year 1001 the handwriting again changes, and from thence to the close of the Chronicle in 1079 there are only eleven scattered entries, consisting of matters interesting to Canterbury rather than to Winchester. It has therefore been thought that the Winchester Chronicle ceased in 1001, and that when Lanfranc became archbishop in 1079 it was brought to Canterbury and that the few additional entries were made there.
The Chronicles marked B, C, F, G are little more than copies of A, though each has some entries peculiar to itself. Chronicle D, the Worcester Chronicle, is specially rich in entries relating to Mercian and Northumbrian affairs during the eighth and ninth centuries, and it is thought to owe its origin to Wærferth, the Bishop of Worcester, the friend of King Alfred. In recording the events of Edward the Confessor's reign it has a strong and distinct character of its own, and it is the only one of the Chronicles which gives an account of the Battle of Hastings.