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Florence of Worcester. d. 1118.
Lives of Edward the Confessor.
English monasteries from the mission of Augustine to the year 1123. This has been edited for the Rolls Series by Mr. N. Hamilton, who in his preface describes it as 'the foundation of the early ecclesiastical history of England on which all writers have chiefly relied.'
FLORENCE OF WORCESTER, whose Chronicon1 reaches to the year 1116, and is in the earlier part little better than a compilation from the Saxon Chronicle and Marianus Scotus, begins with the year 1030 to be of greater value and to assume the character of an independent authority. His comments are sensible and judicious, and his materials appear to have been selected with considerable care. Mr. Freeman, in the course of his History, bears frequent testimony to this writer's discrimination and good
Besides the contemporary Life of Edward the Confessor, there is a Life by Ailred or ETHELRED of RieVAULX,2 an abbat of the twelfth century, who compiled his work from that of OSBERT DE CLARE, prior of Westminster. When Edward's body was exhumed in 1066 by the Conqueror, Osbert was sent to Rome to obtain permission to establish a festival in commemoration of the deceased monarch, and he then composed the work which forms the basis of the Life by Ethelred. These circumstances enable us to understand how it was that so much legendary matter became interwoven with Edward's history, and accounts also for the highly encomiastic character of the work. Osbeft's work remains unprinted, but some of his letters, in which N. E. S. A. Hamilton, Esq., R. S. 1870; as edited by Savile, Mr. Hamilton says the text is full of errors, amounting at times to downright unintelligibility.'
Florentii Wigornensis Monachi Chronicon ex Chronicis, ab Adventu
min Thorpe. 2 vols. E. H. S. 1848.
2 Printed in the Decem Scriptores (see supra, p. 216).
he insists strongly on Edward's merits and claims to canonisation, were published in 1846.1 Ethelred's Life became in turn the basis of a metrical Life, composed in the year 1245, on the occasion of the restoration of the church of Westminster, and written in Norman French. This is printed in the volume, Lives of Edward the Confessor, edited for the Rolls Series by Mr. Luard. Although these three Lives (especially the metrical life) are of but little historical value, they afford an excellent illustration of the manner in which the legendary element often finds its way into genuine history and of the motives which lead to its fabrication. Mr. Freeman, in his Norman Conquest (Vol. ii. Append. note B), has traced with great clearness this' gradual development of popular reverence for King Edward, which at last ended in his being acknowledged the patron Saint of England.'
The Penitential System, instituted by the Church at this period, may be studied in the Poenitentiale attributed to THEODORUS, archbishop of Canterbury (A.D. 668-690) and printed in Councils and Ecclesiastical Documents (ed. Haddan and Stubbs) iii. 177-204, in the Poenitentiale of Bede (ib. 326-334), and in that of Egbert (ib. 418-430). All these collections, while illustrating the introduction of a new conception of social relations, point, at the same time, to an extremely low standard of morality as prevailing among all classes.
The Lives of St. Dunstan,? by Osbern and Eadmer Lives of St. exemplify, like the later Lives of Edward the Confessor, the tendency among biographers of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries to invent statements regarding the career of past prominent actors (especially saints), for a
Osberti de Clara Epistolae. Edited by R. Anstruther. Bruxelles,
2 Memorials of St. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury. Fdited from various MSS, by William Stubbs, M.A. R. S, 1874.
definite political purpose. The criticism on these Lives in professor Stubbs's preface is highly important. He repudiates altogether the stories which we meet with for the first time in the above biographers (the earlier of whom wrote nearly a century and a half after the death of Edwy,') of the cruelties practised on the monarch and
queen, and Dunstan's complicity therein. He also dismisses, as equally baseless, the charge brought against Dunstan of having persecuted the married clergy. He dissents entirely from the parallel instituted by Milman (Latin Christianity, bk. vii. c. 1.) between Dunstan and Hildebrand, and maintains that Osbern and Eadmer, in attributing to the English prelate characteristics like those of the great eleventh-century pope, were guilty of a gross anachronism, conceived for the purpose of bringing their subject up to their own monastic ideal.
Early EnSpecimens of laws enacted from the reign of Ethelbert glish Legis- to that of Edward the Confessor, which serve to illustrate the administration of justice in England before the Conquest, are given in Stubbs's Documents illustrative of English History, (pp. 59-75). The distinction there pointed out between those laws which are mainly of the nature of amendments of custom,' and those which aspire to the character of codes' is not unimportant. It is however to the former class that the laws of Edgar belong, although it is in these that, in professor Stubbs's opinion, the true mark of Dunstan's mind must be looked for. For the main features of Dunstan's influence in this respect, see the same writer's Preface to Memorials of St. Dunstan (p. cvi.) In the Ancient Laws and Institutes of England, edited for the Record Commissioners by Mr. Benjamin Thorpe (2 vols.), a complete collection of the laws of this period is given, comprising those of the Anglo-Saxon kings, from Ethelbert to Cnut, with a translation of the Saxon text, the laws called Edward
the Confessor's, those of William the Conqueror, and those ascribed to Henry I.; the above volumes also contain Monumenta Ecclesiastica Anglicana from the seventh to the tenth century, &c.
Spurious Authority.-The Historia Monasteria Croy- The landensis attributed to Ingulphus, a writer of the eleventh century, was for a long time accepted as genuine and also regarded as one of the most valuable sources of historical information, inasmuch as it includes in addition to the history of the monastery much that relates to the kingdom at large. In proportion to the estimation in which this work was held, was the amount of error of which it was productive. It has, however, been conclusively proved to be a composition of the thirteeenth or fourteenth century; the arguments and facts which support such a conclusion are given by Mr. Riley in the Archaeological Fournal (i. 32–43; ii. 114-133), and by Sir T. D. Hardy in the Descriptive Catalogue (ii. 62-64).
(c.) Modern Writers.-The History of the English Palgrave, Commonwealth, by Sir FRANCIS PALGRAVE, and MR. Stubbs, J. M. KEMBLE's Saxons in England afford much valuable Freeman, illustration of this period, and the chapters treating of special or still controverted questions, such as the Mark, the Bretwaldas, the constitution of the Witenagemot, &c., should be studied by those who are desirous of fully investigating these subjects. Generally speaking, however, all the more important and most fully ascertained conclusions of these two writers will be found reproduced and more accurately stated in the two standard works on the period, the Constitutional History (chaps. i.-ix.) of professor STUBBS, and the Norman Conquest (chaps. i. ii. iii. v. and vi.-x.) of MR. FREEMAN. The first
The credit given to 'Ingulphus' by Thierry in his Histoire de la Conquête d'Angleterre, appears to have been a frequent cause of misconception in his treatment of the subject.
volume of WAITZ'S Deutsche Verfassungsgeschichte, treating of Die Verfassung des deutschen Volks vor der Zeit des grossen Wanderung, offers an excellent introduction to professor Stubbs's volume.
The work of WORSAAE1 supplies a valuable collection of facts which tend to prove the permanence of the results that followed upon the Danish conquest and occupation. The writer, himself an eminent Danish antiquary, pushes his conclusions, however, beyond reasonable limits, maintaining that the combined effects of the Danish and Norman conquests were such as almost entirely to substitute Scandinavian for AngloSaxon influences, while the representatives of the latter race, he holds, sank entirely, 'leaving only a part of their civilisation and their institutions to their successors in dominion.'
The merits of MR. FREEMAN'S History of the Norman Conquest have been so generally recognised that it is unnecessary here any further to insist upon them. It may, however, be observed that the first two volumes are held by competent judges to have been conceived in a spirit of too unreserved admiration of the early English character and institutions. He has failed, it has been said, sufficiently to recognise the very defective sense of nationality which prevailed down to the time of Henry of Anjou. The 'Imperialism' which he claims for the kings of Wessex or of England does not appear to be supported by adequate evidence. His praise of earl Godwine is overwrought, and he fails to allow sufficient weight to the facts which militate against that statesman's character. His view of the Commendation of Scotland to Eadward in 924 should be compared with Mr. Burton's comments in his History of Scotland, i. 356-9.
An Account of the Danes and Norwegians in England, Scotland, and Ireland. By J. J. A. Worsaae. 1852.