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217 [217]

King Edgar. Monkes. Actes and Monum. K. Edgarus Pacificus.

and ought to be ruled by the discrete gouernmēt of reason in al outward doings, wherin no oneo rule can serue for all men: the circūstance of tyme, place, person, and busynes being so sundry and diuers. MarginaliaMonks are subiect & ruled by the knocke of a bell.Contrary, among these: not reason but onely the knocke of a bell, ruled all their doinges: theyr rising, their sleeping, their praying, their eating, their comming in, their going out, their talking, their silence, and al together like insensible people, eyther not hauing reason to rule them selues: or els as persons vngratefull to God, neyther inioying the benefite of reason created in them, nor yet vsing the grace of Christes libertie, wherunto he redemed them.

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Thus thou seest (gentle reader) sufficiently declared, what the Moonkes were in the primitiue tyme of the church, and what were the Moonkes of the middle age, and of these our latter dayes of the church. Whereunto ioyne thys wyth all, that where the Moonkes of elder tyme (as is sayd) were mere lay men, and no spirituall Ministers: MarginaliaMonkes made spiritual ministers cōtrary to the old decrees and custome of the church.Afterward Bonifacius the fourth, made a decree, an. 606. that Monkes might vse þe office of preaching, of christening, of hearyng confessiōs, & also of assoyling them of their sinnes. &c. So then Monkes, who in the beginning were but lay men, and no spiritual ministers, forbidden by the generall councel of Chalcedon (as is aboue related) to intermeddle with matters ecclesiasticall: afterward in process of tyme did so muche incroch vpon the office of spiritual ministers, that at lēgth the priestes were discharged out of their Cathedrall churches, and Monkes set in their places. Because that Monkes in those dayes, leading a strayghter lyfe, and professing chastitie, had a greater countenaunce of holynes among the people, then the priests, MarginaliaPriests in king Edgars tyme had wiues.who thē in the dayes of king Edgar had wyues (at least so manye as would) no law forbidding them to the contrary: tyll the tyme of Hildebrant called Gregory þe. vij. wherof more shalbe said (Christ willing) in the booke next folowyng.

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And thus much by the waie as touching the order & profession of monkes: now to turne in againe, frō whēce we digressed (that is) to the matter of kyng Edgar: 

Commentary  *  Close

Foxe takes the positive elements in his assessment of King Edgar from a limited range of sources. His portrayal of the king's personality and rule, and the fact that wolves were hunted to extinction, all comes - as Foxe discreetly notes - from William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum (J. S. Brewer, and C. T. Martin, 'William of Malmesbury: Gesta Regum.' In Reigistrum Malmesburiense. The Registor of Malmesbury Abbey, ed. by J.S. Brewer and C.T. Martin [London: Rolls Series, 1869-1880], book 2, chs 148 and 155). For the numbers of ships in King Edgar's fleet, his progresses round the kingdom, and his repression of alcoholism, Foxe drew on Roger Howden's Chronicle (W. Stubbs, ed. Chronica magistri Rogeri de Houdene 4 vols, Rolls Series [London, 1868], 1, p. 64. For the important passage on the homage to King Edgar from other rulers in the British Isles, Foxe furnishes a direct translation from John Brompton's Chronicle (although it had also been mentioned in Henry of Huntingdon and Fabian's Chronicle too) - J. Brompton, 'Chronicon Johannis Brompton Abbatis Jornalensis.' In Historiæ Anglicanæ Scriptores X. [....], ed. by Roger Twysden [London, 1652], col. 869.

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who folowing the counsel and leading of Dunstane, and the foreaid Ethelwold bishop of Wint. was somwhat therby inclined to superstition. MarginaliaThe worthy acte of king Edgar.But otherwise of his own nature, well geuen to all vertues and princely actes worthy of much commendacion, and famous memory. MarginaliaThe king a good iusticiarye.So excellent was he in iustice, and sharpe in correctiō of vices (as well in his magistrates, as other subiectes) that neuer before his dayes was lesse felonie by robbers, nor lesse extorcion or brybery by false officers. Such prouinces and Lordshyps as were not yet come vnder the kynges subiection: he vnited and adioyned to hys dominion. MarginaliaEngland reduced into one full & perfecte monarchie.And so made one perfect monarchie of the whole realme of England, with all the Ilelandes and borders aboute the same. Such as were wicked he kept vnder: he repressed thē þt were rebels: the godly he mainteined: he loued the modest: he was deuout to God: and beloued of hys subiects, whō he gouerned in much peace & quietnes. And as he was a great seker of peace, so God did blesse him with much aboundaunce of peace and rest from all warres: so that as the history recordeth of hym, Nullas insidias domesticorum, nullum exterminium alienorū senserit, MarginaliaEdgarus Rex Pacificus.for the whiche, he was called Pacificus: He neither tasted of any priuie treason emong hys subiectes, nor of any inuasion of forein enemies. So studious he was of þe publike profite of his realme, and fruitful in his gouernment: that as the sayd story testifieth of hym, Nullus fere annus in Chronicis præteriit, quo non magnum et necessarium patriæ aliquid fecerit: No yeare passed in al the tyme of his reigne, wherein he did not some singular and necessary commoditie for the common wealth. &c. A great mayntenyer he was of religion, & learnyng: MarginaliaKing Edgar & king Alfrede compared together.not forgettyng herein the foresteppes of kyng Alfred hys predecessor. Emong hys other princely vertues, this is chieflye to be regarded: þtwhere as other princes commōly in much peace & quietnes are wont to grow into a dissolute negligence of life, or obliuion of there charge committed vnto them: This kyng in continuance of peace (that notwithstāding) kept euer with hym such a watch, and a vigilant seuerity ioyned with a semely clemencie, that I can not here but recite the witnes of our story wryters, testifiyng of his vigilant and seuere care ouer the common wealth: which was so great, Vt nullum cuiuscumq; dignitatis hominem leges eludere impune permitteret. i. MarginaliaA note for men of nobilitie to marke.That he would suffer no man of what degree of nobilitie so euer he were, to dallye out his lawes without condigne punishment. &c. And foloweth more in þe same autor. Nemo eius tempore priuatus latro, Nemo popularis prædo, nisi qui mallet in fortunas alienas grassari propriæ vitæ dispendio. &c. MarginaliaA notable example of a prince, to admonish al princes what to do.That is. In all hys time there was neither any pryuey pyker, nor open theife: but he that in stealyng other mens goodes, would venter and suffere (as he was sure) the losse of his owne lyfe. &c. Guliel. de Reg.

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Moreouer as the studious industrie of thys prince was forward in all other pointes: so his prudent prouision did not lacke in this also, MarginaliaWolues first driuen out of Englād.in dryuing out the deuouryng and rauening woules, through out all his lande. Wherin he vsed this policie: In causing Ludwall9 prīce or kyng of Wales, to yelde to hym yearely by way of tribute. ccc. woules. By meanes wherof within the space of iiij. yeares after, in Englād and Wales, might scantly by founde one wolfe a lyue.

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MarginaliaThe prouisiō of king Edgar in keping the seas.This Edgar emōg other of his politike dedes, had in readynes. 3600. shyppes of warre, to scoure the seas in the sommer tyme: wherof. 1200. kept the East seas: as many to defende the West side: agayne as many on the Southseas, to repulse the inuasion of foren enemies. Moreouer in winter season, þe vse & maner of this vertuous kyng was this: duryng al þe tyme of hys life, to ryde ouer the land in progresse, searchyng and inquiryng diligently (to vse here the wordes of myne autor) quomodo legum iura, et suorum statuta decretorum obseruarentur: et ne pauperes a potētibus præiudicium passi opprimerentur. MarginaliaA notable example of a prince, for good princes to mark & followe.That is. How hys lawes & statutes by him ordeined were kept, & that þe poore should suffer no preiudice or be oppressed any maner of wayes by þe mightyer. &c. Briefly as I see many things in this worthy prince to be commended: so this one thyng in him I can not but lament. To see him lyke a Phenix to flee alone, that of al his posteritie so few there be that seeke to kepe hym company. And although I haue shewed more already of this king, then I thinke will wel be folowed, yet this more is to be added to þe worthines of his other actes. That where as by þe multitude of the Danes dwellyng in diuers places of Englād, much excessiue drinking was vsed, wherupō ensued dronkenes, & many other vices, to the euil exāple and hurt of his subiectes: MarginaliaThe deuise of K. Edgar to auoyde dronkēnes.he therfore to preuent that euill, ordeyned certeine cuppes, with pynnes, or nayles set in them, addyng therunto a law: that what person dranke past that marke at one draught, should forfayte a certayne peny. Wherof one halfe should fal to the accuser, and the other halfe to the ruler of the borough or towne, where the offence was done.

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It is reported of this Edgar by diuers authors, that about the. xiij. yeare of hys reigne, he being at Chester: viij. kinges (called in histories Subreguli to wit, petykings, or vnderkings: came and did homage to him. MarginaliaViii. kinges do homage to K. EdgarOf whom the first was þe king of Scottes, called Kinadius: Macolinus of Cumberland. Mackus or Mascusinus kyng of Moniæ, & diuerse other ilandes. And all the kynges of Wales, the names of whom were Dufual, or Dunevvaldus, Sifreth, Huvvall. Iacob. Vikyll, Iuchell. All which kings after they had geuen their fidelitie to Edgar: the next day following (for a pompe or royaltie) he entred with these aforesayd kings into þe riuer of Dee. Where he sitting in a bote tooke the rule of the helme, & caused

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