to inquire the cause of my delay. As I was unable to ride to him, I sent a second messenger to tell him the cause of my delay, and assure him that, if I recovered from my infirmity, I would fulfil what I had promised. My complaint left me, and by the advice and consent of all my friends, for the benefit of that holy place, and of all who dwelt therein, I did as I had promised to the king, and devoted myself to his service, on the condition that I should remain with him six months in every year, either continuously, if I could spend six months with him at once, or alternately, three months in Britain and three in Saxony(*). For my friends hoped that they should sustain less tribulation and harm from king Hemeid(**), who often plundered that monastery and the parish of St. Deguus, (***) and sometimes expelled the prelates, as they expelled archbishop Novis(****), my relation, and myself; if in any manner I could secure the notice and friendship of the king.
(*)The original Latin continues, "Et ilIa adjuvaretur per rudiments
Sancti Degui in omni causa, tamen pro viribus," which I do Dot understand,
and therefore cannot translate.
(**)A petty prince of South Wales.
(***)Or St. Dewi. Probably by the parish of St. Deguus is meat the dioces of St. David's. Hence it is said, that Alfred gave to Asser
whole parish (omnis parochia) of Exeter.
(****)Archbishop of St. David's
At that time, and long before, all the countries on the right hand side of Britain belonged to king Alfred and still belonged to him. For instance, king Hemeid, with all the inhabitants of the region of Demetia, compelled by the violence of the six sons of Rotri, had submitted to the dominion of the King. Howel also, son of Ris, king of Gleguising, and Brocmail and Fernmail, sons of Mouric, kings of Gwent, compelled by the violence and tyranny of earl Ethered and of the Mercians, of their own accord sought king Alfred, that they might enjoy his government and protection from him against their enemies. Helised, also, son of Tendyr, king of Brecon, compelled by the force of the same sons of Rotri, of his own accord sought the government of the aforesaid king; and Anarawd, son of Rotri, with his brother, at length abandoning the friendship of the Northumbrians, from which he received no good but harm, came into king Alfred's presence and eagerly sought his friendship. The king received him honourably, received him as his son by confirmation from the bishop's hand, and presented him with many gifts. Thus he became subject to the king with all his people, on the same condition, that he should be obedient to the king's will in all respects, in the same way as Ethered with the Mercians. Nor was it in vain that all these princes gained the friendship of the king. For those who desired to augment their worldly power, obtained power; those who desired money, gained money; and in like way, those who desired his friendship, or both money and friendship, succeeded in getting what they wanted. But all of them gained his love and guardianship and defence from every quarter, even as the king with his men could protect himself. When therefore I had come into his presence at the royal vill, called Leonaford, I was honourably received by him, and remained that time with him at his court eight months; during which I read to him whatever books he liked, and such as he had at hand; for this is his most usual custom, both night and day, amid his many other occupations of mind and body, either himself to read books, or to listen whilst others read them. And when I frequently asked his leave to depart, and could in no way obtain it, at length when I had made up my mind by all means to demand it, he called me to him at twilight, on Christmas eve, and gave me two letters, in which was a long list of all the things which were in two monasteries, called in Saxon, Ambresbury(52) and Banwell;(53) and on that same day he delivered to me those two monasteries with all the things that were in them, and a silken pall of great value, and a lead for a strong man, of incense, adding these words, that he did not give me these trifling presents, because he was unwilling hereafter to give me greater; for in the course of time he unexpectedly gave me Exeter, with all the diocese which belonged to him in Saxony(54) and in Cornwall, besides gifts every day, without number, in every kind of worldly wealth, which it would be too long to enumerate here, lest they should make my reader tired.
(52)Amesbury in Wlts
But let no one suppose that I have mentioned these presents in this place for the sake of glory or flattery, or to obtain greater honour. I call God to witness, that I have not done so; but that I might certify to those who are ignorant, how profuse he is in giving, he then at once gave me permission to ride to those two rich monasteries and afterwards to return to my own country. In the year of our Lord's incarnation, 886, which was the thirty- eighth since the birth of Alfred, the army so often before mentioned again fled the country, and went into the country of the Western Franks, directing their ships to the river called the Seine, and sailed up it as far as the city of Paris, and there they wintered and measured out their camp. They besieged that city a whole year, as far as the bridge, that they might prevent the inhabitants from making use of it; for the city is situated on a small island in the middle of the river; but by the merciful favour of God, and the brave defence of citizens, the army could not force their way inside the walls. In the same year, Alfred, King of the Anglo-Saxons, after the burning of the cities and the slaying of the people, honourably rebuilt the city of London, and made it again habitable. He gave it into the custody of his son-in-law, Ethered, earl of Mercia, to which king all the Angles