Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

set of related medieval English chronicles

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is a collection of annals, written in Old English and covering the whole of English history from its beginnings to the accession of Henry II. It survives in several recensions, of which the Winchester (or Parker) Chronicle and the Laud (or Peterborough) Chronicle are used here.

The initial page of the Peterborough Chronicle

English quotations here are from the Everyman's Library translation, by G. N. Garmonsway.

  • Þa het Ælfred cyng timbran langscipu ongen ða æscas; þa wæron fulneah tu swa lang swa þa oðru. Sume hæfdon .lx. ara. sume ma. Þa wæron ægðer ge swiftran ge unwealtran, ge eac hieran þonne þa oðru.
    • Then king Alfred ordered warships to be built to meet the Danish ships: they were almost twice as long as the others, some had sixty oars, some more; they were both swifter, steadier, and with more freeboard than the others.
    • The Parker Chronicle, annal for 896.
  • Her Æþelstan cyning,      eorla dryhten,
    beorna beahgifa,      ⁊ his broþor eac,
    Eadmund æþeling,      ealdorlangne tir
    geslogon æt sæcce      sweorda ecgum
    ymbe Brunanburh.      Bordweal clufan,
    heowan heaþolinde      hamora lafan,
    afaran Eadweardes,      swa him geæþele wæs
    from cneomægum,      þæt hi æt campe oft
    wiþ laþra gehwæne      land ealgodon,
    hord ⁊ hamas.
    • In this year king Athelstan, lord of warriors,
      Brown Ring-giver of men, with his brother prince Edmund,
      Won undying glory with the edges of swords,
      In warfare around Brunanburh.
      With their hammered blades, the sons of Edward
      Clove the shield-wall and hacked the linden bucklers,
      As was instinctive in them, from their ancestry,
      To defend their land, their treasures and their homes,
      In frequent battle against each enemy.
    • The Parker Chronicle, annal for 937.
  • Sende þa ofer eall Englaland into ælcere scire his men. ⁊ lett agan ut hu fela hundred hyda wæron innon þære scire. oððe hwet se cyng him sylf hæfde landes. ⁊ orfes innan þam lande. oððe hwilce gerihtæ he ahte to habbanne to xii monþum of ðære scire. Eac he lett gewritan hu mycel landes his arcebiscops hæfdon. ⁊ his leodbiscops. ⁊ his abbods. ⁊ his eorlas. ⁊ þeah ic hit lengre telle. hwæt oððe hu mycel ælc mann hæfde þe landsittende wæs innan Englalande. on lande. oððe on orfe. ⁊ hu mycel feos hit wære wurð. Swa swyðe nearwelice he hit lett utaspyrian. þæt næs an ælpig hide. ne an gyrde landes. ne furðon, hit is sceame to tellanne. ac hit ne þuhte him nan sceame to donne. an oxe. ne an cu. ne an swin. næs belyfon. þæt næs gesæt on his gewrite.
    • Then he sent his men all over England into every shire to ascertain how many hundreds of "hides" of land there were in each shire, and how much land and live-stock the king himself owned in the country, and what annual dues were lawfully his from each shire. He also had it recorded how much land his archbishops had, and his diocesan bishops, his abbots and his earls, and – though I may be going into too great detail – and what or how much each man who was a landholder here in England had in land or in live-stock, and how much money it was worth. So very thoroughly did he have the inquiry carried out that there was not a single "hide", not one virgate of land, not even – it is shameful to record it, but it did not seem shameful to him to do – not even one ox, nor one cow, nor one pig which escaped notice in his survey.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1085.
  • He forbead þa heortas swylce eac þa baras, swa swiðe he lufode þa headeor swilce he wære heora fæder.
    • He forbade the killing of boars even as the killing of harts. For he loved the stags as dearly as though he had been their father.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1087.
  • Þa the suikes undergæton ðæt he milde man was ⁊ softe ⁊ god. ⁊ na iustise ne dide. þa diden hi alle wunder…For æuric riceman his castles makede ⁊ agænes him heolden. ⁊ fylden þe land ful of castles. Hi suencten suyðe þe uurecce men of þe land mid castelweorces þa þe castles uuaren maked þa fylden hi mid deoules ⁊ yuele men. Þa namen hi þa men þe hi wenden ðæt ani god hefden. bathe be nihtes ⁊ be dæies. carlmen ⁊ wimmen. ⁊ diden heom in prisun efter gold ⁊ syluer. ⁊ pined heom. untellendlice pining.
    • When the traitors saw that Stephen was a good-humoured, kindly, and easy-going man who inflicted no punishment, then they committed all manner of horrible crimes…For every great man built him castles and held them against the king; and they filled the whole land with these castles. They sorely burdened the unhappy people of the country with forced labour on the castles; and when the castles were built, they filled them up with devils and wicked men. By night and by day they seized those whom they believed to have any wealth, whether they were men or women; and in order to get their gold and silver, they put them into prison and tortured them with unspeakable tortures.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1137.
  • ⁊ hi sæden openlice ðæt Crist slep. ⁊ his halechen.
    • And men said openly that Christ and His saints slept.
    • The Laud (Peterborough) Chronicle, annal for 1137.

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