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Athelstan ‘Half King’ and his family

  • Cyril Hart (a1)
Extract

Anglo-Saxon genealogy is full of pitfalls, and it is not to be wondered that no one has followed the pioneer work of W. G. Searle in reconstructing the pedigrees of some of the noble houses. Much of the source material is suspect, or too vaguely worded for precise conclusions as to family relationships. The whole topic bristles with difficulties, yet its importance is fundamental; for this as for other periods, detailed examination of family ties and estates supplies essential background information for anyone seeking to uncover the interests and pressures which helped to formulate national policy.

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page 115 note 1 The following abbreviations are used in this article: Athelney = Two Cartularies of the Benedictine Abbeys of Mucbelney and Athelney, ed. E. H. Bates, Somerset Record Society 14 (1899); BCS = Cartularium Saxonicum, ed. W. de Gray Birch (London, 18851893); Cart Rams = Cartularium Monasterii de Rameseia, ed. W. H. Hart and P. A. Lyons, Rolls Series (18841893); Cbron Abingd = Cbronicon Monasterii de Abingdon, ed. J. Stevenson, RS (1858); Cbron Rams = Cbronicon Abbatiae Rameseiensis, ed. W. Dunn Macray, RS (1886); Crawford Charters = The Crawford Collection of Early Charters and Documents, ed. A. S.Napier and W. H. Stevenson (Oxford, 1895); CW = Hart, C., ‘The Codex Wintoniensis and the King's Haligdom’, Agricultural Hist. Rev. 18 (1970), Supplement, pp. 7–38; DB = Domesday Book, ed. A. Farley and H. Ellis (London, 17831816); ECDC = Finberg, H. P. R., The Early Charters of Devon and Cornwall, 2nd ed. (Leicester, 1963); ECEE = Hart, C., The Early Charters of Eastern England (Leicester, 1966); EGStP = Early Charters of the Cathedral Church of St Paul, London, ed. M. Gibbs, Royal Historical Society, Camden 3rd ser. 58 (London, 1939); ECW = Finberg, H. P. R., The Early Charters of Wessex (Leicester, 1964); ECWM = Finberg, H. P. R., The Early Charters of the West Midlands (Leicester, 1961); EHD = English Historical Documents 1, ed. D. Whitelock (London, 1955); Harmer, SelEHD = Select English Historical Documents of the Ninth and Tenth Centuries, ed. F. E. Harmer (Cambridge, 1914); Kemble, = Codex Diplomaticus Ævi Saxonici, ed. Kemble, J. M. (London, 18391848); LE = Liber Eliensis, ed. E. O. Blake, RHS, Camden 3rd ser. 92 (London, 1962); LH = Liber Monasterii de Hyda, ed. E. Edwards, RS (1866); Lines DB = The Lincolnshire Domesday and the Lindsey Survey, ed. C. W.Foster and Thomas Longley, Lincoln Record Society 19 (Lincoln, 1924); Memorials = Memorials of St Dunstan, ed. W. Stubbs, RS (1874); New Monasticon = W. Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum, ed. J. Caley, H. Ellis and B. Bandinel (London, 18171830); Robertson, , Charters = Anglo-Saxon Charters, ed. Robertson, A. J., 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 1956); StO = ‘The Anonymous Life of St Oswald’, The Historians of the Church of York and its Archbishops, ed. J. Raine, RS (18791894) 1, 399475; TRE = the time of King Edward the Confessor. Charters are quoted by the numbers assigned to them in their respective editions. The mark ‘×’ between two dates indicates that the event in question took place anywhere between these dates inclusively; the mark ‘mdash;’ between two dates indicates that they come from a single source - usually a charter – which cannot be dated more closely.

page 116 note 1 He was a descendant of King Cenwulf of Mercia and the brother of King Alfred's wife Ealhswith, and is named in or witnesses (sometimes as Æthulf) the following charters of the period 866 × 897: BCS 513, 522, 552, 557 and 575; ECWM 267; Harmer, , SelEHD XIV; and ECStP p. 2, n. 2 (a forgery utilizing a genuine witness list of the year 867). Two of these show that his ealdordom included the territory of the Hwicce. He died in 901 (ASC 902 A).

page 116 note 2 He witnesses the following charters of the period 884 × 896: BCS 537, 552 and 557; and Harmer, SelEHD XIV. Probably he is to be identified with the Alchelm who received land in Derbyshire from Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians, in 900 (BCS 583).

page 116 note 3 His wife was the lady named Æthelgyth to whom a large estate at Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire, had been left by her father Æthulf or Æthelwulf (BCS 603; it is unsafe to identify him with the Ealdorman Æthulf referred to above, n. 1). It is likely that the Mercian witenagemot which met at Princes Risborough in 884 (BCS 552) was being entertained by Æthelfrith, who was certainly in possession of the estate in 903. Ealdorman Æthelfrith figures in or witnesses the following charters of the period 883 × 904: BCS 552, 557, 595, 603 and 606–8; and Harmer, SelEHD XII and XIV. He also witnesses the doubtful BCS 632, dated Monday 9 September 916. He may be the thegn who witnesses ECStP p. 2, n. 2 (an authentic list dated 867) and BCS 522. His own charters were destroyed by fire (BCS 603 and 606 and ECStP p. 4, all constructed from the same formula. Of these, the two first are independent texts. The St Paul's charter is incomplete; it may be a copy of one of these, or a third independent text utilizing the same diplomatic.)

page 116 note 4 Wainwright, F. T., ‘Æthelflæd, Lady of the Mercians’, The Anglo-Saxons: Studies in some Aspects of their History and Culture presented to Bruce Dickins, ed. Peter, Clemoes (London, 1959), pp. 5369. esp. 56.

page 118 note 1 On this, see The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: a Revised Translation, ed. D. Whitelock, D. C. Douglas and S. I. Tucker (London, 1961), p. 60, n. 4; Crawford Charters p. 85; and Gordon, E. V., The Battle of Maldon, 2nd ed. (London, 1949), p. 16.

page 118 note 2 BCS 632.

page 118 note 3 He witnesses the following charters: BCS 620 (see ECW pp. 244–6), 623–5, 627, 632, 669, 1343, 674–7, 689, 692, 703, 696 and 635 (a charter of King Athelstan dated 11 January 933, which has been amended by the substitution of King Edward's name). Some of these charters contain spurious elements, but the witness-lists are mostly reliable. Ælfstan's son received an estate in Hampshire (Harmer, , SelEHD XX), and may have been the father of Æthelweard, ealdorman of the western shires.

page 118 note 4 BCS 703.

page 118 note 5 From similar evidence it seems likely that the West Saxon ealdorman Osferth, who was closely related to the royal house, perished during the same campaign. In addition, the following Scandinavian earls stop witnessing Athelstan's charters after 7 June 934: Regenwold, Thurferth, Haddr and Inwer. It seems likely that these too, or some of them, were killed in the fighting.

page 119 note 1 BCS 674, 677, 689, 702–3 and 706 are all witnessed by the two brothers in adjacent places in the lists. Other charters witnessed by Æthelwold as thegn are BCS 707, 714, 721, 730, 734, 742, 753, 758 and 762. Eadric witnesses as thegn, in addition to the group referred to above, the following charters: BCS 669, 1343, 675, 692, 635 (dated 933), 695–6, 705, 707 and 714, ECW 436 and BCJ 73O, 734, 742, 748, 753, 758, 762–3, 765, 767 and 770.

page 119 note 2 It is probable that he succeeded one Ælfwold, who witnessed as ealdorman the following charters dated 926 × 938: BCS 658–9, 663–6, 669, 1343, 675–7, 689, 691–2, 635 (dated 933), 695–6, 702, 703 (=1344), 705,714 and 716–18, Atbelney 97 and BCS 729–31. Æthelwold I witnesses the following charters as ealdorman: BCS 748, 758, 762–4, 767, 769–70, 772, 774–5, 777–8, 780, 782–4, 791–2, 795–6, 798, 801–2, 808 and 813–14.

page 119 note 3 This may be deduced from an entry in the Glastonbury landbook, recording King Edmund's gift of Chelworth to someone named Æthelwold who was presumably a thegn, since he was not given the title of ealdorman (ECW 257). The thegn Æthelwold who witnesses charters of the period 931 × 940 is almost certainly the brother, of the ‘Half King’, since, after the appointment of Æthelwold I as ealdorman in 940, no thegn of this name witnesses until 956. That Æthelwold I gave Chelworth to Glastonbury during his lifetime may be surmised from the absence of any reference to the estate in his will, together with the fact that the text of King Edmund's charter was preserved in the Glastonbury landbook.

page 119 note 4 Harmer, , SelEHD XX.

page 119 note 5 This estate has been identified with the ten hides at Codford and Stockton in the Wylye valley which belonged to Winchester Cathedral at the time of Domesday (ECW p. 88 and CW p. 13). Its interest for us lies in the fact that the same estate had been granted by King Edward the Elder to someone named Æthelwulf in 901 (BCS 595 and EHD p. 499). An Old English endorsement to this grant records that the land was settled by Æthelwulf on one Deorswith, presumably as part of a marriage agreement between them; Deorswith's relative (perhaps brother) named Deormod, who figures in the endorsement, was King Alfred's cellerarius and the most powerful royal official at court at this period (BCS 567). The descent of Wylye to Æthelwold I suggests that Æthelwulf was his ancestor, and in the genealogical table I have placed him provisionally as Ealdorman Æthelfrith's brother. Whatever the precise kinship, it is clear that Deormod was related by marriage to the family of the ‘Half King’. He witnesses as thegn the following Wessex charters, usually as the first of the thegns subscribing: BCS 549 (879); 568 (881–8); 550, 567 (as cellerarius) (892); 590. 594 and 596, Harmer, , SelEHD XVI (900); and BCS 588, 595, 597–8 (901); 601 (903); 604, 611–13 (904); 620 (inaccurately given as ‘Deormund’; see ECW 244–6), 623–5 and 627–8 (909). In 892–9 King Alfred granted him five hides at Appleford, Berkshire in exchange for land at Horn Down in East Hendred, Berkshire (BCS 581). Appleford descended to Abingdon, possibly via the family of the ‘Half King’.

page 120 note 1 ælfhere witnesses as ealdorman the following charters dated 939 X 941: BCS 734, 741–3, 748, 753, 762 and 764–5. Eadric witnesses as ealdorman the following charters: BCS 775, 777, 784, 787. 789, 814–15, 818, 874, 820–2, 824, 830, 832, (834), 864–6, 868–71, 875 and 883. J. Armitage Robinson assigned to this Eadric a group of Mercian charters of the period 878 X 925 (The Times of St Dunstan (Oxford, 1923), pp. 39 and 4250), but this supposes that he was active as an ealdorman until he was at least ninety, a phenomenal age for the period. It seems probable from the witness-lists that the Eadric of some of these early charters was the thegn who ceases to sign in 932.

page 120 note 2 BCS 769 and 981, charters from the Shaftesbury cartulary relating to lands at Beechingstoke, Wiltshire, and Mapperton, Dorset, which (as DB shows) were Shaftesbury property TRE.

page 120 note 3 BCS 834, relating to Washington in Sussex. Cbron Abingd 1, 141 states that Eadric gave this estate to Abingdon. According to a later charter, also preserved at Abingdon, it came into the hands of King Edgar, who gave it to Bishop Æthelwold, who had been abbot there (BCS 1125). He exchanged it for estates which he used to endow his foundations at Thorney and Peterborough (Robertson, , charters XXXVII; and ECEE pp. 162 and 179).

page 120 note 4 BCS 828, relating to Ashbury (see Gelling, M., Berkshire Arcbaeol. Jnl, 63 (19671968), 513); Eadric gave it to Glastonbury during Dunstan's abbacy (Oxford, Bodleian Library, Wood i, 245). Presumably the ‘Ælfsige mine brðder suna’ who was left land at Carcel by Æthelwold I (Harmer, , SelEHD xx) was a son of Eadric. Cartel has been located tentatively at Silchester, Hampshire.

page 120 note 5 Æthelsige witnesses as ealdorman charters dated 951 × 958 (no charters survive for 950). Early attestations include BCS 891, 887 and 905; late ones include BCS 1022, 1027–8 and 1033–4.

page 121 note 1 Alfred witnesses as ealdorman BCS 669, 674 and 677.

page 121 note 2 See below, Appendix I.

page 121 note 3 The viewpoint here put forward in detail, based on charter evidence, is in complete harmony with that of Chadwick, elaborated by Eric John, derived largely from a law of King Edgar, IV Edgar 15. See Chadwick, H. M., Anglo-Saxon Institutions (Cambridge, 1905), p. 178, n. 1, and John, E., Orbis Britanniae (Leicester, 1966), pp. 221–2.

page 121 note 4 The incident recorded in ASC 952 D, in which King Eadred ravaged Thetford in retaliation for the assassination by its citizens of Abbot Eadhelm of St Augustine's Canterbury, is perhaps an exception. The circumstances of this affair are quite obscure, but there is nothing to suggest anything in the nature of a revolt by the Danes.

page 122 note 1 Whitelock, D., ‘The Conversion of the Eastern Danelaw’, SBVS 12 (19371945), 159–76.

page 122 note 2 Cbron Rams pp. 52–4. Ælfwyn is said to have had inclyta genealogica (ibid. p. 11). Her brother Æthelsige witnessed a Ramsey deed in 975–92 (ibid. p. 75), and acted as surety when estates in Huntingdonshire were sold to Peterborough Abbey in 971–3 (Robertson, Charters p. 75; cf. ECEE p. 163). Ælfwyn died on 8 July 983. As with several other Ramsey benefactors, the date of her death can be reconstructed from lists in Cart Rams 111, 165–6, and New Monasticon 11, 566, on the reliability of which see Hart, C., ‘Eadnoth, First Abbot of Ramsey and the Foundation of Chatteris and St Ives’, Proc. of the Cambridge Ant. Soc. 56–7 (1964), 61–7, esp. 62.

page 122 note 3 BCS 924 and 949. In the former of these, the bishop of Winchester witnesses ‘cum cæteris coepiscopis’. Similar phrases recur in BCS 751 (940) and 890 (951), in which the archbishop of Canterbury witnesses ‘cum suffraganeis præsulibus’, and ‘cum ceteris suffraganeis’. See also BCS 658–9 (926), referring in parenthesis to ‘dux Æþelredo cum bceteris comitibus’.

page 122 note 4 He witnesses BCS 1343, 677,689 and 1344.

page 122 note 5 LE p. 111. He witnesses BCS 674–5, 677, 689, 702, 1344, 716–18, 812, 820 and 882–3.

page 122 note 6 LE p. xiv.

page 122 note 7 He witnesses BCS 674–5, 677, 689, and 1344.

page 123 note 1 He witnesses BCS 702, 1344, 716–18, 812 (the will) and 1044.

page 123 note 2 LE pp. 87–8.

page 123 note 3 He is to be distinguished from a second Uhtred, who witnesses from 930 to 934 as ealdorman, probably of north-west Mercia.

page 123 note 4 Ealdorman Ælfgar's family estates were disposed to either side of the Essex-Suffolk border. Later in the century, the jurisdiction of Ealdorman Byrhtnoth of Essex is shown by LE to have extended to Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire, which were clearly part of the East Anglian ealdordom; Byrhtnoth also held lands in Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Professor Chadwick thought that Byrhtnoth's ealdordom was subordinate to that of Æthelwine of East Anglia (Anglo-Saxon Institutions, p. 177, n. 1), an opinion shared by John, Eric (Orbis Britanniae, p. 222).

page 124 note 1 Chron Rams pp. 11 and 53.

page 124 note 2 Memorials pp. 44–5. It will be shown that Athelstan possessed substantial estates in Somerset, which he must have visited from time to time; later they all descended to Glastonbury. The early benefactions to Glastonbury of his brothers Æthelwold I and Eadric have been mentioned already. In my forthcoming Early Charters of Northern England and the North Midlands I put forward the thesis that the ‘Half King’ had control over the issue of royal diplomas for Mercia and the Danelaw in the period 942 to 955, and that they were produced by a Glastonbury scribe under the supervision of his friend Dunstan.

page 124 note 3 John, , Orbis Britanniae, pp. 159–60.

page 124 note 4 Robertson, Charters xxii.

page 124 note 5 Memorials pp. 46–8.

page 124 note 6 The south-east Mercian ealdordom was held by a second ealdorman named Athelstan, who witnessed from 940 to 949. There is no evidence that he was related to the family of the ‘Half King’.

page 124 note 7 Ealdorman Ealhhelm of central Mercia witnessed from 940 to 951.

page 125 note 1 Robertson, , Charters XXII concerning Uffington, Berkshire, dated perhaps 927–8.

page 125 note 2 BCS 777 dated 942. There is no direct evidence that Athelstan left this estate to Abingdon, but such a descent may be inferred from its proximity to Uffington, and from the fact that Athelstan's landbook was preserved at Abingdon, being entered in the abbey's cartulary.

page 125 note 3 LE pp. 79–80.

page 125 note 4 BCS 728 dated 938; six hides at Uplyme, Devon. In Proc. of the Dorset Nat. Hist. and Archaeol. Soc. 86 (1965), 160–1, I wrongly placed this estate at Lyme Regis, Dorset, but a recently discovered sixteenth-century perambulation of Uplyme has so many boundary marks in common with those of Athelstan's charter that the location at Uplyme is now fully established. The charter is preserved in the Glastonbury cartulary, and the gift of the estate by Athelstan is recorded in the abbey's list of benefactors. See further, Fox, H. S. A., ‘The Boundary of Uplyme’, Trans. of the Devon Assoc. 102 (1970), 3547.

page 125 note 5 BCS 799 dated 944. The gift of this estate to Glastonbury by Athelstan is recorded in lists of Glastonbury benefactors; see ECDC pp. 11–12.

page 125 note 6 BCS 606 dated 904. J. Armitage Robinson, The Times of St Dunstan, p. 46.

page 125 note 7 ECW 406. Æthelwulf had received this estate from King Æthelwulf of Wessex 839 × 858. He is not to be identified with Æthelwulf the father of Æthelgyth, mother of the ‘Half King’, for this second Æthelwulf was a Mercian; nor could he have been the Æthelwulf who obtained Wylye in 901 (EHD p. 499), although he may have been the latter's father (see above, p. 119, n. 5). Some slight support for my suggestion that the Æthelwulf who held Clutton was the paternal grandfather of the ‘Half King’ derives from the very strong alliterative tradition followed in naming members of the family. Æthelweard, killed at Assandun in 1016, was the son of Æthelwine, son of Athelstan, son of Æthelfrith, who died c. 916. If Æthelwulf was not the paternal grandfather of the ‘Half King’, he was doubtless some other close paternal ancestor. Moreover, it is likely that he had royal connections, for his descendant Æthelwine is described in the Vita Oswaldi as being ‘progenitus ex regali prosapia’, and in the Ramsey Chronicle as being ‘ab atavis regibus præclara ingenuæ successionis linea transfusus’ (Chron Rams p. 11).

page 126 note 1 ECW 431, a lost charter dated 924–39, details of which are preserved in lists of benefactors to Glastonbury.

page 126 note 2 BCS 776 dated 942, a Glastonbury charter. Athelstan's gift is recorded in lists of benefactors to Glastonbury; cf. ECW 445.

page 126 note 3 Harmer, , SelEHD xx.

page 126 note 4 If BCS 949 means what it says, Eadwig's adoptivus parens, i.e. foster-father, was one Ælric, otherwise unknown, to whom Eadwig gave an estate in Berkshire. Moreover BCS 810, a charter of King Eadwig dated 956 that survives only in a heavily modified version, confirms to a thegn called Æthelgeard ‘quod michi a puerili juventute exibere studuit’ the possession of estates in Berkshire (on this charter, see CW p. 17, n. 3, where it is referred to as no. 78 in the Codex Wintoniensis series). If Eadwig was brought up in Berkshire, one might hazard the suggestion that his later education, like that of his brother Edgar, took place under Abbot Æthelwold at Abingdon.

page 126 note 5 Cynesige witnesses the large majority of the surviving charters of King Eadred, but of the fiftyodd charters of King Eadwig issued in 956 with witness-lists that have survived, Cynesige witnesses only three (BCS 924, 949 and 921).

page 126 note 6 It is necessary to distinguish carefully between the three ealdormen named Athelstan who witness charters in the mid-tenth century. Athelstan ‘Half King’ of East Anglia commences to witness as ealdorman in 932. In 940 and 941 he usually appears as third, in 942 as second, and from 943 until midsummer 956 as first of the ealdormen subscribing. A second ealdorman named Athelstan commences to witness towards the end of 940 (BCS 757). By 944 he takes third place in the witness-lists, a position he retains until his last signature early in 949 (BCS 875). He always appears below the ‘Half King’ in the witness-lists, and it is very probable that his ealdordom lay in south-east Mercia. From early in 949 to the end of 955, only one ealdorman named Athelstan witnesses; this is the ‘Half King’ (BCS 883, 879, 880, 894, 892, 891, 895, 899, 900, 908, 903, 905 and 887, in chronological order). A third ealdorman named Athelstan commences to witness at the beginning of King Eadwig's reign, usually in third position until the retirement of the ‘Half King’. In BCS 917, dated 23 November-31 December 955, the first charter he witnesses, he is given the nickname Rota (?‘the Red’) to differentiate him from the ‘Half King’. After the retirement of the ‘Half King’, Athelstan ‘Rota’ jumps to first place among the ealdormen witnessing King Eadwig's charters; this group comprises, in chronological order, BCS 965, 978, 956, 948, 1009, 930 and 927 (all issued in the autumn of 956), 1029 (with an authentic witness-list dated Christmas 956), 988, 997, 999, 1001, 1003 and 994 (all dated 957). After King Edgar's revolt in the summer of 957, Ealdorman Athelstan ‘Rota’ ceases to subscribe to King Eadwig's charters, but in 958 he commences to witness those issued by Edgar as King of Mercia. Until Edgar's accession to the whole kingdom of England in 959, Athelstan ‘Rota’ usually witnesses in second place among the ealdormen; thereafter until 965 he witnesses in third place. In 966 he witnesses fourth, and from 967 to 970 his position varies between fourth and first. The last surviving charter witnessed by Athelstan ‘Rota’ is BCS 1268. He married Æthelflæd of Damerham, the daughter of Ealdorman Ælfgar of Essex and the widow of King Edmund; her sister Ælfflæd married Ealdorman Byrhtnoth of Essex.

page 127 note 1 Ealdorman Ælfhere of central Mercia commences to witness on 12 February 956 (BCS 919 and 1002). By 957 he is the third of six ealdormen habitually witnessing King Eadwig's charters. He then left court with Edgar, and from 958 until his death in 983 is always first among the ealdormen witnessing the charters of King Edgar and his son King Æthelred ‘Unræd’.

page 127 note 2 John, , Orbis Britanniae, pp. 190–1. The biographer of St Dunstan describes Eadwig as ‘losing the shrewd and wise who disapproved of his folly, and eagerly annexing ignorant men of his own kin’ (Memorials p. 35).

page 127 note 3 This statement rests on charter evidence, interpreted as follows. Charters issued during the reign of Eadred are not witnessed by any thegn named Æthelwold. Charters issued by King Eadwig during 956 can be divided into two groups, according to whether or not they are witnessed by an ealdorman named Æthelwold. Charters of the first group, without Ealdorman Æthelwold's signature, are often witnessed by a thegn named Æthelwold (as is BCS 917, dated 23 November-31 December 955), but no charter in the second group is witnessed by a thegn of this name. So many charters were issued in this year, that the division cannot be due to mere coincidence; the only reasonable conclusion is that the thegn Æthelwold witnessing many of the first group of charters is identical with the Ealdorman Æthelwold who witnesses the second group. No charter of King Eadwig dated later than 956 is witnessed by a thegn named Æthelwold. It cannot be doubted that the thegn Æthelwold who witnesses Eadwig's earlier charters (before being made ealdorman) was the recipient from King Eadwig of fifteen hides at Bleadon, Somerset (BCS 959), and four hides at W udetune (? North Wooton near Shepton Mallet, Somerset) (BCS 969), and land at Sharpham, Somerset (ECW 482), all in 956. These properties lie near other lands belonging to the family of the ‘Half King’. It seems likely that the thegn Æthelwold who received Camerton, Somerset, from King Eadred (ECW 463) was the same man. In 961 King Edgar issued a diploma granting to his faithful minister Æthelwold a small estate of one hide at Evesty in Somerset from (BCS 1074; cf. Finberg, H. P. R., West Country Historical Studies (Devon, 1969), p. 37, n. 2). The recipient, who does not witness Edgar's charters, has not been identified; he was not Ealdorman Æthelwold II, but he may have been related to the family of the ‘Half King’.

We have it on the authority both of Byrhtferth's Vita Oswaldi and of Florence of Worcester that Æthelwold's ealdordom was in East Anglia. The Vita establishes also that he was the son of the ‘ Half King’ and that he was the first husband of Ælfthryth, who was to become Edgar's queen. ASC D shows that Ælfthryth was the daughter of Ordgar, who became ealdorman of the western shires in 964. The Vita Oswaldi wrongly names her father Ordrmær.

page 128 note 1 The following charters were witnessed by both Athelstan ‘Half King’ and his son Æthelwold II, among the duces: BCS 934, 974, 983, 982, 945, 946, 925 and 957. These were all witnessed in addition by Athelstan ‘Rota’.

page 128 note 2 BCS 1004, dated 957, is witnessed by the duces Æthelsige and Ælfheah. BCS 1005, issued in the same year (King Eadwig's name was later erased and replaced by that of King Edgar in the introductory rubric), grants land to the dux Ælfheah, and the cartulary text is witnessed by the dux Ælfsige (in error for Æthelsige). Æthelsige continues witnessing King Eadwig's charters as ealdorman to the end of 958 (BCS 1002, 1027–8 and 1033–4).

page 129 note 1 Gaimar, Lestorie des Engles, ed. T. D. Hardy and C. T. Martin, RS (1888–9), 3843–8.

page 129 note 2 BCS1023, a charter from a late Wells register relating to land in Worcestershire, in which the name of Edgar the donor has been replaced by that of King Eadred by the copyist, who was doubtless responsible for deleting the dating clause. This otherwise unexceptionable charter is to be dated after 9 May 957, when Eadwig still retained control of the territory north of the Thames (BCS 999), and before 2 June 958 when Oda, archbishop of Canterbury, one of the witnesses, died.

page 129 note 3 My impression after a general review of tenth-century royal diplomas is that young noblemen at court often began to witness royal diplomas as thegns at about the age of seventeen or eighteen. While still in their early twenties they were sometimes raised to positions of rank and responsibility, either within the royal household or as ealdormen. Most of the ealdormen died in or before their forties; very few, such as Byrhtnoth of Maldon and Æthelwine of East Anglia, survived into their fifties or perhaps their early sixties, and none as far as I can discover reached the age of seventy. Ecclesiastics and noblewomen often survived longer. The precocity of the period is further illustrated by listing the ages of the tenth-century kings of England at the dates of their accession to the throne. Edward the Elder was at least thirty, and Athelstan at least twenty-six, but Edmund was only eighteen, Eadred perhaps twenty-four, Eadwig fifteen, Edgar fourteen (Mercia) and sixteen (all England), Edward the Martyr thirteen, and Æthelred ‘Unræd’ a child of ten. The opportunities for the ealdormen and bishops to direct national policy will be self-evident.

page 129 note 4 Probably Florence was following Byrhtferth's Vita Oswaldi, where Ordmær is incorrectly named as the father of Edgar's wife Ælfthryth (his second wife if we assume Wulfthryth to have been his concubine).

page 130 note 1 LE p. 79.

page 130 note 2 Finberg, H. P. R., ‘The House of Ordgar and the Foundation of Tavistock Abbey’, EHR 58 (1945), 190201; ‘Cbilde's Tomb’, Lucerna (London, 1964), pp. 186203.

page 130 note 3 Florence of Worcester, s.a. 964; ASC 965 D. The date is securely established as 964 by BCS 1143, a grant by King Edgar to his queen Ælfthyrth, in the fifth year of his reign.

page 130 note 4 See above, p. 127, n. 3.

page 130 note 5 For the early history of St Neots Priory, see LE pp. 102–4, ECEE pp. 28–9 and Chibnall, M.Proc. of the Cambridge Ant. Soc. 59 (1966), 6770. Leofric the founder endowed it with two hides at Eynesbury and six at Waresley (both in Huntingdonshire), and nine at Gamlingay in Cambridgeshire. At one time his father also held three hides at Wangford, Suffolk, and an estate at Abington, Cambridgeshire (LE p. 104). Leofric's family lands were therefore very substantial; moreover they were concentrated within the area in which the ‘Half King’ and his sons held most of their East Anglian landed property. Furthermore Ealdorman Æthelwine is found later to be in possession of the Wangford and Abington estates (LE pp. 103–4). Admittedly the three hides at Wangford were purchased by Æthelwine from the abbey of Ely, but it appears highly likely that he had some personal interest in the estate; presumably he was already in possession of another three hides there before his purchase from Ely, for he gave six hides altogether at Wangford to Ramsey Abbey (ECEE p. 241). We know from a reliable source that Æthelwine was the patron and protector both of St Neots Priory and of Crowland Abbey in 991 (Cbron Rams p. 96); by the end of the century, Leofgifu and Oscytel, who were probably the children of Leofric and Leoflaed, appear to have controlled both houses. (The Ecclesiastical History ofOrderic Vitalis, ed. M. Chibnall (Oxford, 1969) 11, 341–2). The lay founder of a monastic establishment at this period was almost by definition the member of a noble house, and the evidence outlined above suggests to me the strong probability that Leofric the founder of St Neots and Leofric the son of Ealdorman Æthelwold II were in fact one and the same man.

page 131 note 1 LE p. 104.

page 131 note 2 Chron Rams p. 61. I have preferred the evidence of the B version of the Ramsey Chronicle, which names Leofric's father as Æthelwold and elsewhere asÆthelward, to that of the A version, which calls him the son of the better known Æthelwine, founder of Ramsey. On the few occasions upon which the two versions disagree on fundamentals, B is usually the superior. William of Malmesbury has an apocryphal story mentioning an unnamed son of Æthel wold, whom he claims to be illegitimate (Gesta Regum ch. 157).

page 131 note 3 Cbron Rams p. 12.

page 131 note 4 Charters thought to be witnessed by Ælfwold, son of the ‘Half King’: BCS 1023, 1042–4, 1052 (958); 1072, 1076, 1079 (961); 1092 (962); 1112–13 (963); 1134, 1143 (964); 1176, 1189 (966); 1200, 1209 (967); 1221 (968); 1268 (970); and 1282 (972). Charters witnessed by other thegns named Ælfwold: BCS 917 (955); 919, 932, 943, 948, 961, 966,981–2, 986, 1002, 1029 (956); 999; 1003 (957); 1030, 1045–6, 1051 (959); 1120–1 and 1124–5 (963); Kemble 663 (988). Charters witnessed by thegns named Ælfwold who cannot be identified with certainty: BCS 1066–7, 1080, 1319 (961); 1043 (962); 1198 (967); 1230 (969); and 1295 (973); and Kemble 1276 (975–8); 611 (977); and 621 (979).

page 131 note 5 BCS 960.

page 131 note 6 ECW 648.

page 131 note 7 BCS 1229 and 1234.

page 132 note 1 BCS 1061 and 1310–11; ECEE 26 and 28.

page 132 note 2 Hart, C., ‘Contemporary Endorsements to the Royal Landbooks’, Agricultural Hist. Rev. 18 (1970), Supplement, pp. 20–4, esp. 23.

page 132 note 3 Cbron Rams pp. 60–3 and 78–9; ECEE pp. 42 and 234.

page 132 note 4 Ælfhild's will survives: BCS 1061. It cannot be dated very closely.

page 132 note 5 During this period Æthelsige witnesses BCS 1023*, 1040, 1042*–4* (958); 1035, 1051 (959); 1053–5, 1058 (960); 1066–7*, 1080, 1319, 1071*–72*, 1074–7*, 1079* (961); 1083, 1085, 1094 (962); 1118, 1099, 1100, 1114, 1101, 1116–17, 1119–20 and 1123–5 (963). That the thegn Æthelsige witnessing this group of charters was the son of the ‘Half King’ is established by the fact that in those charters marked with an asterisk in the above list his name appears in the lists next to those of his brothers Ælfwold and Æthelwine. The thegns named Æthelsige witnessing a few of these charters much lower on the lists are clearly other persons.

page 132 note 6 BCS 1121.

page 132 note 7 Æthelsige witnesses the following charters of this period in an adjacent position to his brother Ælfwold: BCS 1134, 1143 (964); 1176, 1189 (966); 1200, 1209 (967); and 1221–6 (968). He also witnesses an unpublished Burton charter, William Salt Library 84/2/41, a contemporary text dated 968, as pedisequus, in fourth position after three disciferi.

page 133 note 1 Cbron Rams p. 61.

page 133 note 2 ibid. p. 12.

page 133 note 3 Æthelwine witnesses as thegn BCS 1023, 1042 (958); 1055 (960); 1066–7, 1080, 1319, 1071–2, 1075–7, 1079 (961); 1082, 1092, 1085 and 1095 (962). It is most satisfactory to find that no thegn named Æthelwine witnesses later charters of King Edgar, and that for the year 962 those charters not witnessed by Æthelwine as thegn are witnessed by him as ealdorman. The identity of the thegn Æthelwine witnessing from 958 to 962 is thus established beyond all reasonable doubt.

page 133 note 4 The following charters are included in this group: BCS 1083, 1093–4, 1096 (962); 1118, 1101, 1114, 1099, 1100, 1116–7, 1119, 1120, 1124, 1121, 112J, 1112–13, 1123 (963); 1134 and 1142–3 (964).

page 133 note 5 Æthelwine witnesses the following charters in this group: BCS 1164, 1169, 1171–2 (965); 1176, 1189–92 (966); 1197, 1199, 1200, 1209 (967); 1213, 1221–7, 1216–17 and 1220, ECW 108 (968); and BCS 1230, 1234 (969); 1257 and 1266 (970).

page 133 note 6 This group of charters comprises: BCS 1268, 1260, 1302 (970); 1270 (971); 1282, 1286–7, 1309 (972); 1301, 1303–5, 1307 (974); 1312–13 and 1316 (975). It is highly likely that King Edgar's fourth and last surviving law code is to be assigned to this period. The received view, elaborated by Liebermann and followed by Robertson, would date it 962 or 963 because of the plague referred to in the preamble, which is identified with the visitation recorded in ASC 962 A. Epidemics were however common and recurrent, and the safest way to date this code is from cap 15 which entrusts its distribution to the ealdormen Ælfhere and Æthelwine. Charter evidence quoted above shows them to have been dominant in the period 970 to 975, and no other dates are nearly as plausible.

page 134 note 1 BCS 1316. In addition to the ealdormen mentioned in the text, Æthelmær of Wessex witnesses Kemble 611 (977); 621 (979); 624, 626 (980); 629 (981); 632 and 1289 (982). Ealdorman Leofwine, otherwise unknown (unless he be the son of Ealdorman Æthelwine, but this is altogether conjectural), witnesses EHD pp. 522–3 (977). Ealdorman Ælfsige, also otherwise unknown, witnesses Kemble 1316 (975).

page 134 note 2 Kemble 611.

page 134 note 3 Eadwine witnesses Kemble 621 (979); 624, 626 (980); 629 (981); 632, 1278 and 633 and LH p. 217 (982). His death is recorded ASC 982. Robertson Charters lix shows that he was a member of the anti-monastic party. Æthelmær, whose death is also recorded in ASC, does not appear as a witness to surviving charters. The date of his appointment is unknown.

page 134 note 4 Æthelwine witnesses as second ealdorman in precedence the following charters: Kemble 621 (979); 624, 626 (980); 629 (981); 632, 1278 and 633 (as third), LH p. 217 (982); and Kemble 636 and 639 (983). He witnesses as first of the ealdormen the following charters: LH p. 288, Kemble 1279–80 (983); 1281–2, 641 (984); 648, 650, 652, 1283 (985); 654–5 (986); and 657–8, LH p. 231 (as third) (987); Kemble 663–5, LH p. 238 (988); EHD p. 533 (989); and Kemble 673 and 712–13 (990).

page 134 note 5 Ælfric Cild witnesses as ealdorman LH p. 228 and Kemble 1279–80 (983); and 1281–2 (984).

page 134 note 6 Thored witnesses as ealdorman: Kemble 621 (979); 633 (mis-spelt Godwine) (982); 636 and 639, LH p. 228, Kemble 1279–80 (983); 1282 (984); 648, 650, 1283 (985); and 663 (988); and EHD p. 533 (989).

page 135 note 1 Fisher, D. J. V., ‘The Anti-Monastic Reaction in the Reign of Edward the Martyr’, Cambridge Hist. Jnl 10 (1952), 254–70.

page 135 note 2 St O p. 446; LE pp. xii-xiii. Ælfwold's action in restoring these Peterborough properties could hardly have been undertaken before the banishment in 985 of Æfric Cild, who had challenged Bishop Æthelwold's right to some of the Thorney endowments after King Edgar's death; ECEE p. 163.

page 135 note 3 Chron Rams p. 101. Æthelwine suffered from podagras pedum (ibid. p. 183). This is usually translated as ‘gout’, but the ability of medieval physicians to diagnose gout accurately is questionable.

page 136 note 1 Pleas were held at this great heathen sanctuary in 990–2, in 1049 and in 1133–5; on one occasion it was chosen as a meeting-place for representatives of nine counties (ECEE pp. 42 and 51).

page 137 note 1 St O pp. 427 and 430–3. St Oswald must have sounded Æthelwine's intentions some time before the Glastonbury funeral, for by this time he had already inspected and rejected three sites within Æthelwine's ealdordom, Benfleet in Essex, Ely in Cambridgeshire and St Albans in Hertforshire.

page 137 note 2 The claim in ASC E that Peterborough was refounded in 963 is unsupported elsewhere and is probably untrue; it was preceded in point of time by Ely (Vita Æthelwoldi ch. 17), and the earliest acceptable evidence for the existence of Peterborough Abbey is BCS 1270, dated 971. Eric John (Orbis Britanniae, p. 264) has shown that the English Benedictine revival had not extended beyond Abingdon, Glastonbury, Winchester and Worcester by Easter 964.

page 138 note 1 The Chronicle of Æthelweard, ed. A. Campbell (London, 1962), pp. xii-xvi and references there cited.

page 138 note 2 St O p. 428.

page 139 note 1 Rogers, Alan, A History of Lincolnshire (Henley-on-Thames, 1970), ch. 6, ‘The County and its Origins’.

page 139 note 2 Stenton, F. M., ‘Lindsey and its Kings’, Preparatory to Anglo-Saxon England, ed. Stenton, D. M. (Oxford, 1970), pp. 127–35, esp. 133–4.

page 139 note 3 Gaimar, , Lestorie des Engles 4138.

page 139 note 4 Hart, C., The Hidation of Northamptonshire (Leicester, 1970), p. 13.

page 139 note 5 Hwicceslea was still part of Northamptonshire at the time of the Northamptonshire Survey, which was compiled c. 1130.

page 139 note 6 The Chronicle of Æthelweard, ed. Campbell, pp. xxviii-xxx and 51.

page 139 note 7 ChronRams p. 93.

page 140 note 1 Ekwall, E., The Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1947), p. 261.

page 140 note 2 Hallam, H. E., The New Lands of Elloe (Leicester, 1954), p. 6.

page 140 note 3 ECEE pp. 168 and 170–1.

page 140 note 4 ibid. pp. 180–1.

page 140 note 5 Lincs DB 1/28–31, 14/97 and 57/51.

page 140 note 6 See my forthcoming Carucation of Lincolnshire.

page 140 note 7 Robertson, , Charters pp. 464–5; Barlow, Frank, Edward the Confessor (London, 1970), pp. 164–5 and 190–1; and Douglas, D. C., William the Conqueror (London, 1964), pp. 231–4.

page 141 note 1 Lines DBS 4/96–99.

page 141 note 2 Stenton, Sir Frank, The First Century of English Feudalism, 2nd ed. (Oxford, 1961), p. 26, talks of ‘the Breton colony founded by Earl Alan of Richmond’, but it must be remembered that Alan's fief in Lincolnshire was formed chiefly from the lands of Ralf the Staller and his son Ralf de Gael, and that there was probably a large Breton settlement in these territories before Alan took them over. Indeed, this may have been the very reason for the Conqueror handing over the fief to Alan of Brittany.

page 141 note 3 Lines DB 57/38–39. Robertson, Charters pp. 462–3.

page 142 note 1 New Lands of Elloe, pp. 15–18.

page 142 note 2 Freeman, E. A., The History of the Norman Conquest of England, 3rd ed. (Oxford, 1877) 11, 576.

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