Oswald 8 entered confidently into Edgar 11's audience and asked him for a place where he could assemble his disciples (Anonymi 1675). Edgar 11 gave him a choice of three monasteries: St Albans, Ely and Benfleet. Oswald 8 went to inspect all the three of them.
King Edgar 11 to Ely 1 Abbey and Bishop Æthelwold 1; confirmation of privileges and of land at Melbourn and Armingford, Cambs., and at Northwold, Norfolk, in exchange for 60 hides (cassati) at Harting, Sussex
MS D: The monastery at Peterborough was plundered, namely by the men that Bishop Æthelric 51 had excommunicated because they had taken there all that he had.
MS E: Then the monks of Peterborough heard it said that their own men meant to plunder the monastery – that was Hereweard 1 and his following. That was because they heard it said that the king had given the abbacy to a French abbot called Turold 1, and he was a very stern man, and had then come to Stamford with all his Frenchmen. There was then a sacristan called Yware 1; he took by night all he could, the Gospels and chasubles, and copes and robes, and some such small things – whatever he could – and went at once before dawn to the abbot Turold 1, and told him he was seeking his protection, and informed him how the outlaws were alleged to be coming to Peterborough. He did all that according to the monks’ advice. Then forthwith in the morning all the outlaws came with many ships, and wanted to enter the monastery, and the monks withstood them so that they could not get in. Then they set fire to it and burnt down all the monks’ houses and al the town except one house. Then they got in by means of fire at Bolhithe Gate, and the monks came towards them and asked them for a truce, but they paid no attention, and went into the church, climbed up to the Holy Rood and took the crown off our Lord’s head – all of pure gold – and then took the foot-rest that was underneath his feet, which was all of red gold. They climbed up to the steeple, brought down the altar-frontal that was hidden there – it was all of gold and silver – and took there 2 golden shrines and 9 of silver, and they took 15 great crucifixes, of both gold and silver. They took there so much gold and silver, and so many treasures in money and vestments and books, that no man can reckon it up to another. They said they did it out of loyalty to the monastery. Then they went on board ship and proceeded to Ely, where they deposited all the treasure. The Danes expected that they were going to overcome the Frenchmen. Then all the monks were scattered and none remained there but one monk who was called Leofwine 73 Tall [Lang]; he was lying ill in the infirmary. Then came Abbot Turold 1 and 160 Frenchmen with him, and all fully armed. When he arrived he found everything burnt inside and out except the church. The outlaws were then all afloat – they knew he would be bound to come there. This was done on 2 June. The two kings, William 1 and Swein 5, came to an agreement. Then the Danes proceeded out of Ely with all the above-mentioned treasures, and took them with them. When they were in the middle of the sea there came a great storm, and scattered all the ships carrying the treasures – some went to Norway, some to Ireland, some to Denmark and all that reached there was the altar-frontal and some shrines and crosses and much of the other treasure, and they brought it to a royal town called [blank], and then put it all in the church. Then afterwards through their carelessness and drunkenness the church was burnt one night with everything in it. Thus was the monastery of Peterborough burnt down and plundered. Almighty God have pity on it through his great mercy! And thus Abbot Turold 1 came to Peterborough, and the monks came back, and performed the service of Christ in the church, which had stood a whole week without any kind of service. When Bishop Æthelric 51 heard tell about it, he excommunicated all the men who had done this wicked deed.
MS D: Bishop Æthelwine 40 and Siweard 14 Barn came there [to Ely], and many hundred men with them. But when King William 1 found out about this, he called out a naval force and a land force, and invested that part of the country from outside, and made a bridge and placed a naval force on the seaward side. And they then all surrendered to the king, that is to say Bishop Æthelwine 40 and Earl Morcar 3 and all who were with them except Hereweard 1 alone and those who could escape with him, and he led them out valiantly. And the king took their ships and weapons and plenty of money, and he took all the men prisoner and did as he pleased with them: Bishop Æthelwine 40 he sent to Abingdon, and there he died.
MS E: And Bishop Æthelwine 40 and Siweard 14 Barn came to Ely and many hundred men with them. And when King William 1 found out about this, he called out a naval force and a land force, and invested that part of the country from outside, and made a bridge and went in, and placed the naval force on the seaward side. And the outlaws then all surrendered to the king, that is to say Bishop Æthelwine 40 and Earl Morcar 3 and all who were with them except Hereweard 1 alone and those who wished to go with him, and he led them out valiantly. And the king took their ships and weapons and plenty of money, and did as he pleased with the men: Bishop Æthelwine 40 he sent to Abingdon, and there he died soon after in the course of the winter.
A monastery had been built there [i.e. at Cratendune OR Ely] in honour of the ever-virgin Mary, by the blessed Augustine 1. King Æthelberht 3 was the first founder of this institution: he established in it clergy performing the service of God.
The army of Penda 1 afterwards drove them [the clerics of the early church at/near Ely] out from there, when it was devastating the country and its neighbourhood, and reduced the place to an uninhabited wilderness.
King Ecgfrith 4, who had long been dedicated to chaste marriage with Æthelthryth 2, did not take kindly to divorce from his beloved spouse, and soon began to be immeasurably sorrowful and grief-stricken. Hence, at the suggestion and instigation of his people, he began to remove her forcibly from the convent, despite the fact that she was under the protection of the veil of holiness. Without delay, he went up to the convent where the holy virgin was living, with fury and hullabaloo, and in a great hurry. On hearing him coming, the mother of the community Æbbe 2, advised her that the only means of safety lay in escape. And, Æthelthryth 2 resolved to take action whereby she might remain a virgin for the rest of her life; nor must she rest until she reached her home in Ely. ... Forthwith, this woman who, the day before yesterday, had been mistress over a kingdom, in contempt of earthly sovereignty, entered the monastic life. ... The king, wishing to take her back as his wife, went into action, not failing to set out in pursuit, in the hope that he might perhaps be able to catch her. But the holy woman, groaning and anxious now with redoubled fear, fled under compulsion from her pleasant hiding place and went forth ... Having secretly made a circuit of the place, she came, accompanied by two handmaidens of God, Sewenna 1 and Sewara 1, to a high hill nearby called Coldeburcheshevet and climbed it. ... The sea, leaving its bed and now pouting forth it waters in many directions, surrounded the place up which the holy virgins had climbed, and, as we have learnt from local inhabitants, kept them hidden for seven days on end, without food or drink, as they took their stand together in prayer, and that ... it forgot how to ebb back in the usual manner, so long as the king remained there, or near the place. ... For a long time they had been on top of the summit of the rock and surrounded on all sides by a multitude of waves, and yet the king had found it quite impossible to find any direction from which to approach them. In the end, however, he retreated from the place marvelling at what had happened, and reduced to stupefaction. He Ecgfrith 4 returned to York and thereafter did not regard the confessor of the Lord, Wilfrid 2, favourably in confidential matters, nor with affection, as he had before, but instead for a considerable while harboured anger against him in his breast, and having bided his time, ejected him – the reason being such as we have described – from his Episcopal see. ... The time came when the nuns of the summit of the rock were beginning to duffer, being exceedingly feverish because of the dryness of thirst, so Æbbe 2 urged Æthelthryth 2 to pray to the Lord Christ ... And as she was most earnestly pouring out her prayer to God ... a spring of water straight away broke forth close to her, sparkling clear, and, in answer to her prayers ... the dry rock gushed forth what it did not naturally contain: water which was sufficient for the nuns’ use and did not fail to supply their needs.
Æthelthryth 2 rebuilt the earlier church and dedicated to Mary, Mother of God. The buildings were all new. With the help of her brother, King Ealdwulf 3, she built a good-sized house of monastic virgins.
Wilfrid 2 was in exile for three years because of the disagreement between himself and King Ecgfrith 4 during which time he stayed for a while at Ely with Æthelthryth 2 before travelling to Rome where, by the judgement of Pope Benedict 2 and many others, he was found to be worthy of a bishopric. He then returned to Britain and converted the South Saxons to Christianity.
Seaxburg 1 ordered certain brothers to look for stone from which to make a new tomb for St Æthelthryth 2. The brothers bordered a boat and came to a little city called Grantchester [Grantecester] and, while they were walking around it, they soon discovered by the walls of that town a sarcophagus of white marble most beautifully equipped with a cover. When Æthelthryth 2 was exhumed her body was found to be incorrupt.
In the time of Eadred 16, something marvellous and most astonishing happened at Ely concerning the priests living there, which one of them, called Ælfhelm 23, who had been complicit in their error and crime, owned up to and set down in writing, referring to himself covertly in the third person.
The archpriest at Ely refused to believe that the tomb of St Æthelthryth 2 contained her remains, saying that if it did more miracles would have occurred at the site. An old man recounted stories of miracles performed there, but the archpriest continued and with the help of four young clerics 'whom he led with ease to ruin and condemnation by the crime which he perpetrated.'
A servant-girl whilst gathering vegetables for her master, a priest, found that her hand became stuck to the stake she was using. She remained in this state for five years. She was eventually cured at the tomb of St Æthelthryth 2.
Æthelwold 1 initiated some monasteries from their foundations; others, which had been destroyed or left deserted, he rebuilt by painstaking restoration ... One of those he restored was the monastic community of Ely.
King Edgar 11 conferred with Æthelwold 1 about the restoration of Ely and then carefully had it built anew, expelling the clerics who had been living there in an unworthy fashion for a considerable time, and installing monks.
King Edgar 11 to Bishop Æthelwold 1 ; sale of 20 hides within the isle of Ely, the soke of two hundreds within the isle and of five-and-a-half in the province of the East Angles, 5 hides at Melbourn, 3.5 hides at Armingford, and 12 hides at Northwold, in return for 60 hides at Harting, Sussex, 100 pounds, and a gold cross filled with relics. King Edgar 11 made a free-will offering of this cross, along with a gospel-book.
Abbot Beorhtnoth 19 sought to make [the church at Ely] resplendent with diverse ornaments. For he made statues of the blessed virgins and, at very great cost, overlaid them with gold and silver and jewels and set them up near the high altar, two to the right and two to the left.
A summary of the dispute between Bishop Æthelwold 1 and Leofsige 28 and Sifflæd 2.
Æthelwold 1 from Leofsige 28 and his wife Sifflæd 2; purchase of 2 hides at Downham for 15 pounds. Leofwine 75, provost, and Wine 11 of Witchford, brought him 10 pounds of that money. A payment date was set for the remaining 5 pounds. At a second meeting Leofsige 28 and Sifflæd 2, his wife, purchase from Bishop Æthelwold 1 5 hides at Clayhithe for 15 pounds, on condition that Æthelwold 1 give them a silver cup worth 40 solidi which Beorhtsige, father of Leofsige 28, bequeathed to the bishop on his death. Before Leofsige 28 and Sifflæd 2 handed back the 10 pounds, King Edgar 11 died, and the couple made void the whole agreement that they had had with the bishop. In the meantime Leofsige 28 seized Peterborough, Oundle and Kettering from God and St Peter. A meeting was convened in London where, it being a time when duces, principles, satrape, rhetores and causidici had gathered from every region, Æthelwold 1 summoned the aforesaid Leofsige 28 to justice. The witan restored Peterborough, Oundle, and Kettering to Æthelwold 1 and ruled that Leofsige 28 should pay compensation to the bishop to the value of his ‘mund’, and for the violence pay compensation to the king to the amount of his wergild. They met again within 8 days at Northampton, where the people of that region gave the same verdict as had been given at London. Then Leofsige 28 died shamefully and miserably after which time Æthelwold 1 and Ealdorman Æthelwine 2, with the shire of Northampton and the most prominent men of the East Angles, held at Wansford a meeting of the 8 hundreds. It was decided that Sifflæd 2, widow of Leofsige 28, and her heirs, ought to pay compensation to God and the bishop, just as Leofsige 28 would have done had he lived. They assessed the amount of damage to the bishop at more than 100 pounds. Sifflæd 2 asked the bishop that she might pay the compensation which was due from her, in addition to what her sons [Anonymi 10028] owed, with the 100 solidi which the bishop had been going to give her for the 2 hides at Downham. The bishop remitted the whole of the damage which had been awarded against her and, in addition, said to her that she could come to Ely within 8 days and collect the 100 solidi from Abbot Beorhtnoth 19. This she did before the witness of 2 hundreds. The bishop also gave her 7 pounds for her corn which was on the land at Downham.
Æthelwold 1 and Ealdorman Æthelwine 2, with the shire of Northampton and the most prominent men of the East Angles, held at Wansford a meeting of the 8 hundreds. It was decided that Sifflæd 2, widow of Leofsige 28, and her heirs, ought to pay compensation to God and the bishop, just as Leofsige 28 would have done had he lived. They assessed the amount of damage to the bishop at more than 100 pounds. Sifflæd 2 asked the bishop that she might pay the compensation which was due from her, in addition to what her sons [Anonymi 10028] owed, with the 100 solidi which the bishop had been going to give her for the 2 hides at Downham. The bishop remitted the whole of the damage which had been awarded against her and, in addition, said to her that she could come to Ely within 8 days and collect the 100 solidi from Abbot Beorhtnoth 19. This she did before the witness of 2 hundreds. The bishop also gave her 7 pounds for her corn which was on the land at Downham.
After the death of Goding 4 of Gretton, Sigefrith 23 came to Ely and asked the brothers to take him to his burial place for they had been friends. There he renewed his bequest of 2 hides at Downham in the presence of witnesses. On the same day Sigefrith 23 again renewed his agreement in the presence of the better people of his region beyond Upware, in the place which is called Hyravicstowe.
On his deathbed at Linden, Sigefrith 23 sent for Abbot Beorhtnoth 19 and the brothers of the church. The abbot arranged for the will of Sigefrith 23 to be written down in a tripartite chirograph, in the presence of his wife [Wulfflæd 7] and his daughter [Anonymous 10044]. When it was read, he had it cut, and Sigefrith 23 kept one part of the chirograph, giving the second part to the abbot. The third part he sent at once by the aforesaid Abbot Beorhtnoth 19 to Ealdorman Æthelwine 2, who at that time was dwelling at Ely and asked him to allow his will to stand, just as the abbot had written it and set it down at Linden in the witness of the aforementioned men. Ealdorman Æthelwine 2 sent Wulfnoth 23 of Stowe back there to him with Beorhtnoth 19 and asked him what it was he wanted concerning his will and what conditions. Sigefrith 23 replied through Wulfnoth 23 and Beorhtnoth 19 that he wanted his will to stand just as it had been set down. Ealdorman Æthelwine 2 granted that it should stand in its entirety.
Abbot Beorhtnoth 19 bought 200 acres at Witchford from Sumerlida 2 for 11 pounds in the time of King Edgar 11. But when the king died, Sumerlida 2 annulled the agreement, saying that he had been compelled. Ealdorman Æthelwine 2 came to Ely and held a meeting with the whole hundred in the churchyard at the northern gate of the monastery, and there adjudicated upon the action and suit which existed between the abbot and Sumerlida 2. The abbot gave Sumerlida 2 30 solidi [recte 20 solidi] and so paid him in full the 12 pounds for the 200 acres.
Ogga 2 of Mildenhall to Ely 1, grant of 1 hide at Cambridge. Originally he intended to bequeath it after his death but Wulfstan 16 of Dalham persuaded him to give it whilst he lived. After his death the grant was contested by his relative Ufi 6.
Ufi 6 claimed 1 hide at Cambridge which his relative, Ogga 2 of Mildenhall, had granted to Ely 1. At Cambridge, in the presence of Wulfstan 16 of Dalham, the case was heard and it was adjudged that Ufi 6 should pay 4 marks as a penalty because he never laid claim while Ogga 2 was alive.
After the death of King Edgar 11, Ufi 6 came to the abbot of Ely and laid claim to the land. The abbot took counsel with the two hundreds and Oswig 12 and Oscytel 8 of Beche. By their testimony, the abbot was adjudged the owner, as Ogga 2 had lawfully bought the land from Ufi 6 and held it unchallenged whilst he lived.
Bishop Æthelwold 1 and Wulfnoth 25 met at Taunton and discussed the possibility of the bishop buying Bluntisham from him. When the agreement was made, a purchase price was settled of 30 pounds, and Wulfnoth 25 sent his elder son [Anonymous 10052] to Ely for the money, and there received 100 solidi from Abbot Beorhtnoth 19; the 25 pounds which remained were give afterwards in the presence of King Edgar 11. Wulfnoth 25 then granted Bluntisham to the bishop with charter. When this had been done, Abbot Beorhtnoth 19 gave to Wulfnoth 25, 7 pounds for all the holdings on the land at Bluntisham: men, stock, and grain.
Eadric 56 the Tall of Essex bequeathed Hauxton with its stock to King Edgar 11 and sent the king a chirograph of his will. After Eadric 56 had died, Bishop Æthelwold 1 bought from the king 4.5 hides at Hauxton and 3 hides at Newton for Ely 1 for 200 mancuses. But before the bishop and abbot had the charters and before the relevationes had been provided, King Edgar 11 died.
Ælfwald 66, brother of Eadric 56, and some of his kinsmen, sought to separate the 3 hides at Newton and alienate them from Hauxton, resulting in a dispute of many years. Ealdorman Æthelwine 2 drew to the attention of many witnesses, that both properties had been given to the king as one manor. But the bishop and the abbot found it a serious difficultly that Ælfwald 66 and his kinsmen were in possession of the charters. The abbot [Beorhtnoth 19] offered Ealdorman Æthelwine 2 3 hides at Wangford if he would obtain the charters for him. Æthelwine 2 accepted Wangford but for many years the matter was the vexed subject of litigation and he failed to deliver the charters.
At this time, Ealdorman Byrhtnoth 1 came to Ely. The abbot and brothers asked him to buy the charters from Ælfwald 66, saying that they would give to Ælfwald 66 the charter for Ramsey and Sproughton in Essex and 30 mancuses. Byrhtnoth 1 did this, adding 30 mancuses of his own gold, and acquired the charters for Ely 1.
King Edward 15 to Ely 1 Abbey;
grant of land at Lakenheath and confirmation of privileges and of land at
Willingham, Cambs.; at
Stoke (near Ipswich),
Brandon, Suffolk; at
Pulham, Norfolk; at
Stretley (Green) in Littlebury,
the two Rodings,
Amberden (Hall) in Debden,
Terling, Essex; at
Kelshall, Herts.; at
Bishop Æthelwold 1 bought from Eadric 73 the Dane his land at Kelling for twenty pounds, and he bought the stock which was there for eleven pounds. Accordingly, Eadric received a hundred shillings from the bishop at Ely in front of the hundred, and Æthelsige 49, who was at that time the reeve of the bishop, took to him the fifteen pounds which remained, and gave them to him before the three hundreds within which Kelling lies. And present there were Wulfstan 16 of Dalham and Hringwulf 1 and nearly all the leading men of those parts. And the money was given to Eadric 73 there in the witness of the three hundreds.
Leofwine 77 enlarged the walls of the church of Ely, and built them at a wider distance away to the south and he brought them to a state of completeness at his own expense, in which they were united with the rest of the building. He also made in one porticus an altar to honour the most blessed Mother of God and, above it, a throne the height of a man, on which was seen a statue of Mary holding her son in her lap, made of gold and silver and jewels.
On his way to Maldon, Byrhtnoth 1 stopped at Ramsey and asked Abbot Wulfsige 46 for hospitality and provisions. The abbot said he would he provide for Byrhtnoth 1 and seven of his men to which Byrhtnoth 1 replied that he would not dine without his men because he could not fight without them. He then turned to Ely and asked Abbot Ælfsige 82 if they could dine with him, and his request was accepted.