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From The Annals of Roger de Hoveden, Comprising the History of England and of Other Countries of Europe from A.D. 732 to A.D. 1201, Translated from the Latin with Notes and Illustrations by Henry T. Riley, Esq., Volume I, London: H.G. Bohn, 1853; pp. 1-8.


Volume I.

[Part 1: 732-768 A.D.]



AT the beginning of this work, I propose to trace the genealogical line of the kings of Northumbria,* down to the times of those, who coming after the death of the most venerable Bede, have not hitherto been treated of.

Ida held the sovereignty twelve years;1 after whose death Glappa reigned one year. He was succeeded by Adda, whose reign lasted eight years; on whose decease Ethelric became king, and reigned seven years. Theoderic succeeded him, and, after a reign of four years, lost his life and left the kingdom to Fridubuld. He, having reigned one year was succeeded by Huscus,2 who, after a reign of seven years, lost his kingdom and his life. Ethelfred, the most distinguished for valour among these kings, was the eighth in succession, and reigned for a period of twenty-eight years. He was succeeded by King Edwin, who having embraced Christianity, as king and martyr ascended to heaven, after a reign of seventeen years. After him, Oswald, a most Christian king, reigned over Northumbria for a period of seven years. He having ascended to the mysterious realms of heaven, Oswy succeeded him as king, and held the government twenty-eight years. He being
A. D.
2 removed to the realms of bliss, Egfrid received the sovereignty, and after a reign of fifteen years was slain by the Picts, because he had unrighteously ravaged Ireland.3

In his room, his brother Alfred became king, and was succeeded by his son, Osred, who being slain, Choenred ascended the throne, and was succeeded by Osric, whose successor was Ceolwulph, the brother of Choenred. It was to him that Bede, the historian, dedicated his history of the English.

Having enumerated these, it is my intention to adopt the history of the most holy and learned Bede as the foundation of this work, commencing at the last sentence thereof; and, recording the years of our Lord, carefully reviewing in their order the reigns of the kings, and briefly, to the best of my ability, remarking upon the life and miracles of the rest of the faithful, it is my earnest desire, together with them; to receive from Christ the reward of everlasting salvation.

Come, thou benign Spirit, who without thine own aid art never imparted; bestow thy bounty on my tongue, thou who in thy bounty dost bestow tongues.3*



IN the year from the incarnation of our Lord 732, as Bede informs us, Bretwald, archbishop of Canterbury, departed this life, and was buried in the church of St. Peter. In this year, Tatwin was consecrated archbishop of Canterbury, it being the fifteenth year of the reign of Ethelbald, king of Mercia. In the same year, also, king Ceolwulph was taken prisoner, shorn, and sent back into his kingdom. He was imbued with a wonderful love for the Scriptures, as the truthful chronicler, Bede, states in the beginning of his Preface. In the same year, bishop Acca was expelled from his see,4 and Cynebert, bishop of Lindesey,5 died.

In the year 733, having received his pall from the Apostolic See, Tatwin ordained Alwin and Sigfrid bishops. An eclipse
A. D.

3 of the sun took place on the nineteenth day before the calends of September, about the third hour of the day, insomuch that the face of the sun seemed to be almost entirely covered with a very black and horrible shield.

In the year 734, on the second day before the calends of February, the moon was covered with a redness like blood for nearly a whole hour, at about the time of cock-crow; a darkness then coming on, she returned to her usual brightness. In the same year, Tatwin, the new archbishop of Canterbury, died. The first bishop of this city was Augustine, that famous instructor of the whole kingdom, and excellent founder of the Christian faith and religion, to whom, in their order, succeeded Laurentius, Mellitus, Justus, Honorius, Deusdedit, the most learned Theodore, and Bretwald, whom Tatwin followed, as I have already mentioned. In the same year, Fridebert was ordained bishop of Hagulstad.6

In the year 735, Nothelm was ordained archbishop of Canterbury, and Egbert, bishop of York, was ordained to the archbishopric of the Northumbrians, being the first who, since Paulinus, had received the pall7 from the Apostolic See. In this year the learned Bede departed this life at Jarrow.8

In the year from the incarnation of our Lord 736, Nothelm, having received the pall from the pope of Rome, ordained three bishops, namely, Cuthbert, Eordwald, and Ethelfrid.

In the year 737, bishop Aldwin, who was also called Wor, departed this life, and in his room Witta9 and Tota were consecrated bishops of the Mercians10 and the Mid-Angles.11 In the same year, in place of Ceolwulph,12 Eadbert, his uncle’s son, received the kingdom of Northumbria.

In the year 738, Swetbrit,13 king of the East Saxons, died. In the following year, Ethelherd, king of the West Saxons, departed this life, on which his brother Cuthred was appointed king in his room. In the same year, archbishop Nothelm died, four years after having received the archbishopric, and Adulph, bishop of Rochester, departed this life.

A. D.

In the year 740, Ethelwald, bishop of Lindisfarne, departed to the Lord, and Kinewulph was appointed to that see. In the same year of sacred memory, bishop Acca was removed to the realms of the living, after having held the bishopric of Hagustald twenty-four years, at the east side of which church his body was honorably interred: afterwards, when more than three hundred years had elapsed from his burial, in consequence of a divine revelation, he was removed by a certain priest, and placed in a coffin within the church, with due honor, where to the present day he is held in great veneration, as a merited proof of his sanctity before all men, the chasuble, tunic, and sudarium,14 which had been deposited in the earth with his most hallowed corpse, preserve even unto this day, not only their original appearance, but even their original strength of texture.

In the same year in which the holy bishop Acca departed to the realms of heaven, Arwin, the son of Eadulph was slain, on the ninth day before the calends of January, being the sixth day of the week. In the same year, Cuthbert received the archbishopric of Canterbury, being the eleventh archbishop; and, in succession to Adulph, Dun became bishop of Rochester.

In the year 741, the monastery in the city of York was burnt, on the ninth day before the calends of May, being the first day of the week.

In the year 744, a battle was fought between the Picts and the Britons; and in the following year, fiery strokes were beheld in the air, such as no men of that generation had ever seen before, and were visible throughout almost all the night of the calends of January. In the same year also, according to some accounts, the second Wilfrid, bishop of York, departed to the Lord on the third day before the calends of May; but it is my opinion, that before Bede had completed his history, this Wilfrid had been already translated to the realms of heaven. In these days died Inguald, bishop of London, and at this time flourished Saint Guthlac.

In the year 749, died Elfwald,15 king of east Anglia, upon which Hunbenna and Albert divided the kingdom between them. In the following year, that is to say, in 750, king Eadbert
A. D.

5 brought bishop Kinewulph prisoner to the city of Bebba,16 and caused the church of St. Peter, in Lindisfarne, to be besieged.17 Offa*, the son of Alfred, was unthinkingly running with all haste towards the relics of Saint Cuthbert, the bishop, when he was dragged out of the church, without his weapons, and almost famished with hunger.

In the same year, bishop Allwich died, and Ardulf, a deacon, was ordained to the bishopric.17* Cuthred, the king of the West Saxons, rose against Ethelbald, king of Mercia.

In the year from the incarnation of our Lord 752, on the day before the calends of August, an eclipse of the moon took place.

In the year 753, Boniface the archbishop, who was also called Winfrid, with fifty-three others, was crowned with the martyrdom of the Franks. In the following year, Cuthred, king of the West Saxons, died, the sceptre of whose kingdom was received by Sigebert.

In the year 756, being the fifteenth18 year of his reign, king Eadbert, with Unnust, king of the Picts, led an army to the cities of Alclutit,19 and there received the Britons of that neighbourhood under their subjection, on the first day of August; but, on the tenth day of the same month, almost the whole of the army which he led from Deouama,19* was destroyed at Niwambirg, that is at the new city. In the same year Baltere, the anchorite, attained the life of the righteous, and departed unto the Lord. On the eighth day before the calends of December, the moon, on her fifteenth day, being about her full, appeared to be covered with the colour of blood, and then, the darkness decreasing, she returned to her usual brightness; but, in a wondrous manner, a bright star followed the moon, and passing across her, preceded her when shining, at the same distance at which it had followed her before she was darkened.

In the year 757, Ethelbald, king of Mercia, was treacherously slain by his own allies.20 In the same year a civil war
A. D.
6 arose among the Mercians, and Beornred being put to flight, king Offa was victorious.

In the year 758, king Eadbert voluntarily resigned the kingdom, which he had received from God, to his son Osulph, who held it but one year and then lost it, having been treacherously slain by his own servants near Mechilwongton, on the ninth day before the calends of August.

In the following year, Ethelwald, who was also called Moll, began to reign on the nones of August. At the beginning of the third year of his reign a most severe battle was fought, near Edwin’s Cliff, on the seventh day before the ides of August, in which, after a fight of three days, Oswin was slain, and thus king Ethelwald gained the victory. This took place on the first day of the week. In the same year, Unnust, king of the Picts, departed this life.

In the year 762 king Ethelwald took Etheldreda for his queen, on the calends of November, at Cataract.21 In the third year from this, that is to say 764, there was a great snow with intense frost, not to be compared with any in former ages. It covered the earth from the beginning of winter almost until the middle of spring, and through its rigour the trees and vegetables mostly withered away, and many marine animals were found dead. In the same year, likewise, Ceolwulph, formerly king, and afterwards a servant of our Lord Jesus Christ and a monk, departed this life.

It was to this king that the truthful Bede wrote the epistle which begins thus: “To the most glorious king, Ceolwulph, Bede, servant of Christ, and priest. I formerly, at your request, most readily transmitted to you the Ecclesiastical History of the English Nation, which I had newly published, for you to read and give it your approbation; and I now send it again to be transcribed, and more fully considered at your leisure.” The king himself, after renouncing the world, became a monk in the church of Lindisfarne, and there struggled for a heavenly kingdom. His body being afterwards brought to the
A. D.

7 church at Norham, according to the accounts given by the inhabitants of that place, became famous for working many miracles. Through the influence of this king, after he had become a monk, licence was granted to the monks of the church of Lindisfarne to drink wine or ale; for before, they were in the habit of drinking only milk or water, according to the ancient rule prescribed by Saint Aidan, the first bishop of that church, and that of the monks who, coming with him from Scotland, had received there a settlement by the munificence of king Oswald, and rejoiced to live in great austerity, with a view to a future life.

In the same year, many cities, monasteries, and towns, in various places, and even kingdoms, were laid waste by sudden conflagrations; such, for instance, as the city of Sterburgwenta,22 Homunic,23 the city of London, the city of York, and Doncaster; many other places also, the same calamity overtook.

In the same year died Frehelm the priest and abbat, and Tocca,24 bishop of the Mercians, on which Eadbert was ordained bishop in his room. At this period, also, Frithwold, bishop of Whitherne, departed from this world, and Pechtwin was appointed in his stead.25

A. D.

In the year 765, fiery strokes were seen in the air, much as formerly appeared on the night of the calends of January, as I have already mentioned.26 In the same year Ethelwald lost27 the kingdom of Northumbria at Wincanheale,28 on the third day before the calends of November, and was succeeded in the kingdom by Alcred, who was a descendant, as some say, of king Ida. Hemeli, bishop of the Mercians, also departed this life. Cuthred was ordained bishop of Lichfield; and at the same period archbishop Bregwin died, and had Lambert for his successor; bishop Aldulph also dying, Ceolwulph succeeded him in the diocese of Lindesey.

In the year 766, Egbert, archbishop of York, rested in the peace of Christ, on the thirteenth day before the calends of December, it being the thirty-fourth year of his episcopate; and in the same year Saint Frithebert, bishop of Hagustald,29 departed this life.

In the year 767, Albert was consecrated bishop of York, and Alcmund bishop of Hexham, on the eighth day before the calends of May. In the same year Albert was ordained bishop of the East Saxons, and Ceolwulph was consecrated bishop of Lindesey. In this year also, Etha, the anchorite, died happily at Cric,30 a place distant about ten miles from the city of York.

In the year 768, being the tenth year after the abdication of his kingdom, Eadbert happily breathed forth his spirit, being a member of the priesthood, and devoted to the service of God. In the same year died Pepin, king of the Franks, and Hadwin was ordained bishop of Macuhi.31


 *  It is worthy of remark, that the account here given of the Northumbrian kings, differs very materially from that of Bede, William of Malmesbury, and the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

 1   V. r. [= Various reading, here, or Variant reading in later authors] Eleven years.

 2  V. r. Hussus.

 3  In A.D. 684, he had sent his general, Beort, with an army to lay waste Ireland; and in the following year, having himself led his troops against the Picts or Britons at Strath Clyde, he was slain at Drumnechtan, in the county of Forfar.

 3*  This is said in reference to Acts ii. 3, 4.

 4  Of Hexham.

 5  In Lincolnshire.

 6  Hexham, in Northumberland.

 7  Without it he was not entitled to the title of archbishop.

 8  In Durham.

 9  Or Winta.

10  Witta was consecrated bishop of Lichfield.

11  Tota was the first bishop of Leicester.

12  He resigned his crown, and embraced the monastic life.

13  Called Selred by Roger of Wendover, and others.

14  This may either mean a peculiar head-dress worn by the priesthood, or the “fanon” or “mappula,” a small handkerchief, a napkin, worn over the left wrist.

15  Called Athelwold by Roger of Wendover.

16  Now Bamborough, in Northumberland.

17  “Basilicam” here is probably a wrong reading for “basilicâ;” if so, the meaning will be, that Eadbert ordered Kinewulph to be confined in the church of St. Peter, at Lindisfarne, which agrees with the account given by Roger of Wendover.

17*  Of Sidnancaster, or Lindesey.

18  V. r. Eighteenth.

19  Supposed to be Dumbarton, in Scotland.

19*  Holinshed calls this place Ouan. Probably the reading in his MS. was “De Ouania,” instead of “Deouma,” as in the printed copy.

20  This is probably said in reference to Cuthred, king of the West Saxons, who, having made a treaty of peace with Ethelbald, attacked and slew him at Seekington; or it may allude to the version of the story that he was slain by his own subjects, headed by the rebel Beornred. Lambarde reconciles the two versions by suggesting that Cuthred, king of Wessex, invaded Mercia, and conspired with some of Ethelbald’s subjects, of whom Beornred was chief.

21  Catterick, in Yorkshire.

22  This is most probably an error, the name of two places being made into one. Lambarde in his Dictionary, quoting from Simeon of Durham, mentions in place of this name, Stretbourgh and Winton, and adds, “by which order of speech it seemeth that he took it for a great town; howbeit, I have not hitherto found it.” Holinshed (whether quoting from Roger de Hoveden, or Simeon of Durham, does not appear,) mentions here Stretehu and Geivento, places, not improbably, as imaginary as the Sterburgwenta of our text.

23  It is not clear what place is meant by this name. Holinshed mentions it as Alnwick.

24  V. r. Totta.

25  In the text, “Candida Casa,” or “the White House.” The bishopric of Whitherne was also called that of the Picts, Abercorn, or Galloway. Its establishment is thus related by Bede, Eccles. Hist. B. iii. c. 4. “In year of our Lord 565, when Justin the younger, the successor of Justinian, had the government of the Roman empire, there came into Britain, a famous priest and abbot, a monk by habit and life, whose name was Columba, to preach the word of God to the province of the northern Picts, who are separated from the southern parts by steep and rugged mountains; for the southern Picts, who dwell on the side of those mountains, had long before, as is reported, forsaken the errors of idolatry, and embraced the truth, by the preaching of Ninias, a most reverend bishop and holy man of the British nation, who had been regularly instructed at Rome, in the faith and mysteries of the truth; whose episcopal see, named after St. Martin the bishop, and famous for a stately church (wherein he and many other saints rest in the body), is still in existence among the British nation. The place belongs to the province of the Bernicians, and is generally called the ‘White House,’ because he there built a church of stone, which was not usual among the Britons.”

26  Under the year 745.

27  This seems to imply that he was deprived of it by treachery or violence. Holinshed says, “After that Moll had reigned six years, he resigned his kingdom. But others write that he reigned eleven years, and was in the end slain by treason of his successor Altred.”

28   Probably Finchale, in Durham; though Lambarde suggests that Wighal, near Thorpehares, in Yorkshire, is the place here spoken of.

29  Hexham.

30  Probably, Crecca, or Crake, near York.

31  Probably Saint Mesmin de Mici, in the province of Orleans, in France.


*  The text has Offo, but this is a typo and should be Offa. Stubb’s Edition of the Latin Text of the Chronica Magistri Rogeri de Houedene, Volume I, Rolls Series, 1868, p. 6, has “Offa quoque filius Alfridi. . . .”

  A confusion of Cuthberts! To sort them out: Bede’'s death at Jarrow was described by his pupil the monk Cuthbert in a letter he wrote to Cuthwin, which is on this site, translated by Giles. The letter is very touching and includes some poetry that Bede wrote in Anglo-Saxon. This Cuthbert later became Abbot of Wearmouth and he died about 735. This particular Cuthbert, in all likelihood, took his name from the first famous Cuthbert, the founder of the abbey at Lindisfarne. He died in 687 and was canonized, and his biography was written by Bede himself: The Life of Saint Cuthbert (also on this site, translated by Giles). Another Cuthbert achieved fame as an Archbishop of Canterbury, becoming a saint as well, after his death in 760. He had another saintly friend, Boniface, the Anglo-Saxon missionary to Germany, who wrote him a letter, which is on this site, too, translated by Edward Kylie.

  removed to the realms of the living, i.e. Heaven. The Latin is “sublevatus est in regionem viventium”. Joseph Stevenson translates this, in his English text of the Chronicle by Simeon of Durham, as “raised to the land of the living.” As you will read, the energy spent by Roger and all of the old ecclesiastical historians in finding euphemisms for die, died, dying and Heaven was boundless. However, this particular Latin phrase is only in Simeon of Durham (and then copied by Roger de Hoveden).


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