ABBEY OF CROYLAND
CONTINUATIONS BY PETER OF BLOIS
AND ANONYMOUS WRITERS
TRANSLATED FROM THE LATIN WITH NOTES
By HENRY T. RILEY, Esq., B.A.
HENRY G. BOHN, YORK STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
The Latin text of Ingulph’s History of the Abbey of Croyland was first published in Sir Henry Saville’s Scriptores post Bedam London, 1596, reprinted at Frankfort in 1601. In these editions the work appears in a mutilated form, as, besides various omissions, it abruptly terminates with Ingulph’s return from his visit to the court of William the Conqueror; and, in common with other chronicles contained in the same volume, is disfigured by numerous typographical errors. The work was first printed entire, and somewhat revised, in the first (1), or Fulman’s Volume of Gales’s Collection of the Rerum Anglicarum Scriptores, Oxford,1684. Though a great improvement on Saville’s edition, it is not without a considerable number of errors in the orthography of the English words. The narrative commences with the reign of Penda, who died in 655, and terminates in the year 1091.
In the same volume was also published the Continuation by Peter of Blois. Though this professes to have been written as a Continuation of Ingulph’s History at the request of Abbat Henry de Longchamp, it notices but very few facts prior to 1100, the first year of the reign of Henry I. The Marsham and Cottonian Manuscripts of Ingulph, in which Fulman found this Continuation, were, unfortunately, in a mutilated state, and terminate abruptly in the year 1117, temp. Henry I. It is not improbable, however, that we have a very considerable portion in what has been preserved, as the writer appears only to have carried his history to the time of Abbat Waldev or Waltheof, and the accession of King Stephen, in 1135.
The second Continuation of Ingulph (which, with the third and fourth Continuations, is also found in the same collection) was written by one of the Priors of that place, whose name has not come down to us. The writer informs us, at the close of his narrative, that he had continues the work of Peter of Blois from the beginning of the reign of Stephen. The portion, however, prior to 1144 is lost, and from that date to 1171, the work is so mutilated that all the fragments which remain are comprised in two pages of the present Volume. From that period, the Chronicle continues, with occasional slight interruptions, to 1254; after which there is an hiatus to the date of the fragment probably around 1280. From 1281, there is another hiatus, to 1327, which comprises, as we learn from other sources (2), the resignation of Abbat Richard, in 1303, the accession of Simon de Luffenham, his cession in 1322 (3), and the accession of Abbat Henry de Caswyk. Between 1328, the second year of Edward III, and 1388, the twelfth of Richard II, there is a further hiatus, during which Abbat Henry was succeeded, on his decease, in 1358, by Thomas de Bernak, at whose death, in 1378, John de Asheby was elected abbat, and held that office when the narrative is resumed in 1388.
From this date to the death of Abbat Litlyngton in 1469, this chronicle has come down to us unmutilated; and in this portion consists its most essential value; as, in common with the next Continuation, it gives many historical facts connected with the latter part of the reign of Henry VI and that of Edward IV, some of which are of considerable importance, and nowhere else to be found.
A marginal note (given by Fulman …most probably from the MS.), informs us that the Third Continuation was written by a Doctor of Canon Law and Member of the King’s Council, the same person who is mentioned as having been sent by Edward IV as his envoy to the Duke of Burgundy at Abbeville; like his predecessor, he was a member of the community of Croyland. He commences with the relation of several events which had taken place during the previous ten years, but had been omitted by the preceeding Chronicler; and then continues the narrative from 1469 to 1486, the second year of Henry VII. By succeeding historians of the reigns of Edward IV and Richard III, this work has been found of the greatest value.
Of the fourth and last Continuation, which appears from the opening words to have been written some time after the third, a small fragment only has survived, the principal merit of which consists in its interesting account of the last moments of Cardinal Beaufort; a picture very different from that drawn by Shakespeare, and probably more in accordance with the truth. After giving a somewhat lengthy account of the cession of the Church of Brynkhusrt, or Eston, to the Abbey of Peterborough, it terminates abruptly in 1486, the remainder of the MS. being lost. The writer seems to have been an ecclesiastic, and was most probably a monk of the Abbey of Croyland.
- Sometimes quoted as the Third.
- Dugdale’s Monasticon, Browne Willis’s Mitred Abbies, Gough’s History of Croyland.
- See p. 331. The the MS. history of Croyland in the Cottonian Library. Vespas. B XI. says that he was deposed by the bishop of Lincoln for partiality shewn to his kindred.
It is a singular circumstance, that, with the exception of a transcript (1) of the sixteenth century, no ancient manuscript of Ingulph’s Chronicle is known to exist. After the dissolution of the Monasteries, a manuscript, which had the reputation of being an autograph of Ingulph, remained for many years in the church at Croyland, where it was preserved with great care in a chest locked with three keys. Selden endeavored in vain to gain access to it, and when Fulman made enquiries (probably about 1680), it could no longer be found. Two ancient copies, however, are known to have formerly existed; one, in the possession of Sir J. Marsham, which was the basis of Fulman’s edition; and another, from which Shelden published the Laws of the Conqueror, was in the Cottonian Library, and burnt in the fire of 1731. Marsham’s (2) copy has long since disappeared. Spelman states, erroneously no doubt, that he (3) consulted the autogrpah itself, and from it transcribed a portion of the Norman laws.
For many years after the publication of Ingulph, there seems to have been no suspicion that any portion of the work, or the Charters contained in it, were other than genuine. The Charters are quoted as such by Sir H. Spelman, and Sir W. Dugdale in the Monasticon, and Selden and Stillingfleet (4) rely upon the authority of the work. From the time, however, of Henry Wharton (5), who detected certain anachronisms in the attestations of earlier Saxon Charters, doubts have been very generally entertained as to the genuineness of the documents, and by some as to that of the history itself (6). Wharton’s enquiries were continued at very considerable length by Hickes in his Thesaurus, who satisfactorily proved, from the feudal tone that pervades them, that the Charters are either of Norman origin or the production of still later times. Sir F. Palgrave, after an elaborate (7)examination of the work, has similarly come to the conclusion that the Charters are forgeries of a more recent date than the time of Ingulph, and that they were compiled with the view of supporting the pretensions of the so-called Golden Charter.(8)
The question then remains to be solved at what period these documents were forged, by whom, and for what purporse. Hickes is of the opinion that the convent found it necessary to forge Ethelbald’s Golden Charter, that they might preserve the lands which they held without deed, or of which the deeds had been lost, from the Normans, and says that, “he is almost compelled to believe that Ingulph was the forger, or else that the convent palmed off the history upon the world under the authority of his name.” He also says,” I have given a portion of the Charter of Ethelbald, which I have so often had occasion to condemn. In the original it appears resplendent with gold, the manufacture, perhaps, of Ingulph himself. This Charter, by means of which that knave cajoled King William, is sufficiently proved to have been fictitious.” Sir Francis Palgrave expresses strong doubts whether the Chronicle itself (including the Charters) is of much older date thean the thirteenth, or first half of the fourteenth century.
A careful examination of the First and Second Continuations of Ingulph will probably afford some clue to the solution of this question. It will be found that in the history of Croyland, between the years 1091 and 1415, no mention is made of the existence of any one of these Saxon Charters. In 1189, Abbat Robert, in a case drawn up by him, relies for proof of the foundation of his house upon the Life of Saint Guthlac, written by the monk Felix. In Vol. 44 of the Cole Collection of the MSS. in the British Museum, there are nearly 200 folio pages of abstracts from the Abbey Registers of the law-suits carried on by the convent, fines, conveyances, and other memoranda. A careful search has been made in these, as also in most of the documents connected with Croyland, set for in Gough’s First and Second Appendix, or referred to in Tanner’s Notitia Monastica, but not a hint can be found, to give us reason to believe that between the periods above-mentioned, these Charters were in existence. (9)
Prior Richard Upton, being at a loss how to prevent the encroachments of the people of Spalding, determined, …to unsheathe the sword of ecclesiastical censure, which had been granted by St. Dunstan, and solemnly pronounced sentence of excommunication at the doors of the church against all who should infringe the liberties of the church of St. Guthlac. Not content with reading this censure (which bears strong marks of being fictitious, and was probably composed on this occasion), Prior Richard “resorted to the temporal arm, and taking with him the muniments of the illustrious kings, Ethelbald, Edred, and Edgar, hastened to London, to bring the parties to trial.” This sudden mention of these Charters, the first time for several hundred years, cannot but take us by surprise, and extort from us the enquiry, where had they been in the meantime, and why had they never been used on similar occasions before?
After his arrival in London, we read that it was nearly two years before the Prior could make arrangements for coming to trial. It is far from improbable that these two years were spent in framing, for the discomfiture of his antagonists, the Charters which now appear in Ingulph’s Chronicle. Prior Richard being thus employed, we can understand why, just before the trial, he felt very uncomfortable in mind; why he “lay awake in bed, sad and disquieted in spirit, and unable to sleep.;” and how great was the necessity for consolation to be administered to him, by no less a personage than Saint Guthlac himself. This explanation, too, will account for the large outlay of five hundred pounds upon these suits, as the scribes would be not unlikely, on such an occasion, to make their own terms.
The experiment appears to have fully succeeded; to the satisfaction of both judges and arbitrators the Charters of Ethelbald and Edred were produced, judgment was given in favour of the Convent, and thus did the monks of Croyland, the first time perhaps for centuries, gain a complete legal victory over their neighbours of Spalding and Moulton.
It was upon this occasion probably that the manuscript long preserved at Croyland as the autograph of Ingulph was first compiled. Finding among their archives a Chronicle of the convent from earliest times, (said to have been composed by Sempects by order of Abbat Turketul,) the monks made it the vehicle of their fictitious Charters, added to it the histories which had been written by Egelric and Ingulph, had the whole copied afresh, and depositied the manuscript in the Sacristy as corroborative proof of their title to their lands. It was for this reason, perhaps, that so few copies of the manuscript were allowed to circulate; as the forgers must have been conscious that to the scrutinizing view of the scholar, the anachronismms and contradictions with which the Charters were filled would be too evident.
Fictitious as most, if not all, of the Saxon Charters are, and fabulous as much of the history is likely to be, it is still difficult to subscribe unreservedly to Sir F. Palgrave’s opinion, “that the History of Ingulph must be considered little better than an historical novel — a mere monkish invention;” though, at the same time, it cannot be denied that the work is full of interpolations.
For the guidance of the reader of this Chronicle, which, despite of its imperfections, forms with its Continuations, a most interesting repertory of mediæval law, history, and anecdote, we may usefully devote a few lines to an examination of the more prominent errors of interpolations which have been detected in the portions of it ascribed to Egelric and Ingulph.
Sir F. Palgrave thinks that the account of Turketul betrays marks of a spurious origin; that it does not fully agree with the narrative of Vitalis, is probably founded on his story at a later period. “If a Cancellarius,” he remarks, “existed among the officers of the Anglo-Saxon Court, he was nothing more than a notary or scribe, entirely destitute of the high authority Ingulph bestows on him.” The mention of Turketul as Cancellarius certainly does bear suspicious marks of the handy-work of some interpolator, but it would be hardly fair, on this ground, to reject the whole account; as his relationship to the king (which is mentioned also by Vitalis) would invest him with considerable influence, which would be increased if he really did fill the office of royal secretary.
With Sir F. Palgrave we must reject the account of Turketul’s prowess at the battle of Brunenburgh, which relates how he penetrated the hostile ranks, struck down the enemy right and left, and, amid torrents of blood, reached the king of the Scots; and, then contradicts itself by telling us that, in after-times, when a monk, he “esteemed himself happy and fortunate in that he had never slain a man, nor even wounded one.” Such a story cannot have been penned by a friend and kinsman of Turketul. Sir F. Palgrave also observes that the Synod at which the seven bishoprics were conferred was held in 905, two years before Turketul was born: while the Saxon Chronicle places the death of Dynewulph in 900, and the succession of Frithestan in 910. This was probably interpolated by some enthusiast, desirous to award Turketul more honor than was really his due. “The passage respecting the education of Ingulphus at Oxford,” says the same writer, “long since raised the suspicion of Gibbon (10), and it still remains to be proved that Aristotle formed part of the course of education at Oxford at a time when his works were studied in no part of Christendom.” It is not improbable that this is an interpolation by some favourer of the pretensions of Oxford in the thirteenth or fourteenth century. A wish to surpass the alleged antiquity of Cambridge, as supported by the narrative of Peter of Blois, may possibly have prompted the insertion of this testimony in favor of Oxford.
Sir F. Palgrave has also suggested, that the journey (11) of Ingulph to Jerusalem must have taken place between 1053 and 1059, when the Patriarch Sophronius died, as the emperor Alexius did not ascend the throne till 1081, some years after Ingulph had settled at Croyland: that Emperor’s name was probably added as a gloss by some ignorant annotator, and eventually became incorporated with the text.
Dr. Lappenberg (12) informs us that it is erroneously stated that Constantine fell at the battle of Brunenburgh, it being his son who was slain; and that the statement that the emperor Henry (who died in 936) sought the hand of Athelstan’s daughter for his son Otho is a mistake. He also observes that earl Rodolph, the son, is called the husband of Goda.
Mr. Wright, in his able work on the Anglo-Norman writers, is of the opinion that Ingulph’s account of the (13) exiquitas of his parents contradicts his statement where he speaks of his father as living at court: and that Ingulph would hardly have ostentatiously published the forged charters: an opinion which seems well-founded. He remarks also, that the work appears too vain-glorious to have been written by Ingulph himself. The self-complacency however, which we find displayed by the Abbat throughout his story, and the patronizing air with which he explains the more barbarous usages of the persecuted Saxons, combined with the frivolous display of Gallic learning, strongly bespeak the Anglo-Norman prelate.
The same author is also of opinion that the Continuation ascribed to Peter of Blois is spurious; but the reasons adduced by him hardly seem to warrant so decided a conclusion. “It is not probable,” he says, “that the monks of Croyland should have applied to a stranger to write the history of their house, and we can trace no connection between them and Peter of Blois.” On the contrary, it seems to have been considered a mark of respect, not uncommonly paid, for a convent to request a learned stranger to employ his pen in the services of their house. Vitalis (14), almost a stranger and half a foreigner, was engaged by the monks of Croyland to write the epitaph of earl Waltheof, for the moment almost the national hero and Saint of the English; Abbo of Fleury, a Norman by birth, at the request of Dunstan, wrote the Life of St. Edmund, an English Saint; and William, a monk of Malmesbury, wrote the Chronicle of the Abbey of Glastonbury. That Peter of Blois was on intimate terms with abbat Henry de Longchamp we have some right to conclude from the zealous manner in which we know he stood forward in support (15) of his brother, Chancellor William de Longchamp, bishop of Ely. The allusion in Peter’s Continuation to the writings of Averreos is manifestly an interpolation.
An explanation of a few of the terms which form component parts of names of places mentioned in these Chronicles may not be inappropriate. Ther termination ee or ea, as in “Schepishee” and “Southee,” is supposed to be a corruption of the French eau, “water.” Lode or lade, as in “Wodelade” (16) and “appelade,” (afterwards, “Whaplode,”) signifies a cut of water. Hirne or hyrne means a horn or corner of land, bounded by streams, as in “Namanslandhyrne,” (17), and (18) Aswyktofthyrne. Lound or lond is the old form for land, as in “(19) Goggislound,” “Alderlound,” and “Paylound.” Beck is still a provincial name for a “rill” or stream, as in “Pynchbeck,” “Holbeck.” Drove was a road for cattle. Holt means a wood, as in “Apynholt,” and “(20) Harenholt.” “Algarkirk” and “Peykirk” mean Algar’s church and Pega’s church. The word lake, as signifying standing water,enters into the composition of such names as “Mengerlake,” “Lurtlake,” “Southlake,” “Dedmanslake,” and “Werwarlake.” Helieston appears to have been a wrong spelling in the original for “Helpeston.”
- Arundel MSS. No. 178.
- In a letter preserved in the Bodleian, Dr. Gibson, bishop of London, accuses Obadiah Walker, the Roman Catholic Master of University College, Oxford, of having purloined this copy.
- Concilia, i. p. 623.
- Origines Britanicæ, p. 21.
- History of the Bishops of London and St. Asaph.
- Hickes seems inclined to suppor the genuineness of the history, thoug he appears in one passage to throw some doubts on it, in consequence of Ingulph’s derivation of the name Croyland, as signifying crude ormuddy land. He perhaps preferred the derivation of Crowland from the crows, by which, according to the early legend of Felix, the anchorite Guthlac, while dwelling there, was persecuted.
- See vol. 34 of the Quarterly Review.
- A copy of Ethelbald’s charter of 716, conspicuous for its golden crosses and azure and vermillion, but evidently of spurious origin. Hickes, who has engraved a portion of it, speaks of it in 1705, as being then in the possesion of Dr. Guidot, of Bath. It seems to have been the same which is mentioned by Gough, in his history of Croyland, as being in 1734 the property of Robert Hunter, lord of the manor of Croyland.
- 1091 and 1415. In vol. 44, p. 53, Cole MSS. we find several mandates from Edward the Third commanding the convent to admit Hugh de Kensinton, keeper of his salt-cellar, as a corrodier on their foundatioon; and three or four lplaints in answer by the convent, in which they allege that the abbey had been founded by Ethelbald five hundred years before the Conquest. This they would have hardly dared to assert, if they had had at that moment among their archives a deed which proved that Ethelbald had founded the abbey in 716, only 350 years before the event. Cole has added a Note, in which he remarkks that it is pretty clear that they did not know when their Abbey was founded.
- History, B. ix.
- We cannot agree with Mr. Wright ( vol. ii. p.30), that 1064 is the date: nor does it appear that the writer confounded the expedition alluded to with that of Peter the Hermit. Ingulph seems to have joined the pilgrimage mentioned by Vitalis, B. III. C. 4, as taking place in 1057, under the chief bishop of the Bavarians. See Ordericus Vitalis, B. iii. c. 4.
- Geschichte von England, Preface.
- Mr. Wright renders this word mean estate; narrowness of circumstances seems rather to be meant, and if so, there does not of necessicty appear to be any contradiction.
- History, B. iv. c. 17.
- See his spirited letter to Hugh de Nunant, bishop of Coventry, in Hoveden, vol. ii., p.238. Bohn’s Antiquarian Library.
- A cut through wood.
- “No man’s land corner.” In some places it is written “Norman’s land.”
- “Aswyk’s toft corner,” toft being a place where a messauge has formerly stood.
- “Gog’s land,” “Alder land,” and “Pega’s land.”
- Probably meaning “the hare’s wood.”