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Asser of Saint David’s Annals of the reign of Alfred the Great From A.D. 849 to A.D. 887.

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Asser of Saint David’s
Annals of the reign of Alfred the Great From A.D. 849 to A.D. 887.
page 14

 and Saxons, who before had been dispersed everywhere, or were in captivity with the pagans, voluntarily turned and submitted themselves to his dominion.
(*)In the same year there arose a foul and deadly discord at Oxford, between Grimbald, with those learned men whom he had brought with him, and the old scholars whom he had found there, who, on his arrival, refused altogether to embrace the laws, modes, and forms of praelection instituted by the same Grimbald. During three years there had been no great dissension between them, but there was a secret enmity which afterwards broke out with great atrocity, clearer than the light itself.

(*)The whole of this paragraf concerning Oxford is thought to be an interpolation, because it is not known to have existed in more than one MS. copy

To appease this quarrel, that invincible king Alfred, having been informed of the strife by a messenger from Grimbald, went to Oxford to put an end to the controversy, and endured much trouble in hearing the arguments and complaints which were brought forwards on both sides. The substance of the dispute was this: the old scholars contended, that literature had flourished at Oxford before the coming of Grimbald, although the number of scholars was smaller than in ancient time, because several had been driven away by the cruelty and tyranny of the pagans. They also proved and showed, by the undoubted testimony of ancient annals, that the orders and institutions of that place had been sanctioned by certain pious and learned men, as for instance by Saint Gildas, Melkinus, Nennius, Kentigern, and others, who had all grown old there in literature, and happily administered everything there in peace and concord; and also, that Saint Germanus had come to Oxford, and stopped there half a year, at the time when he went through Britain to preach against the Pelagian heresy; he wonderfully approved of the customs and institutions above-mentioned. The king, with unheard-of humility, listened to both sides carefully, and exhorted them again and again with pious and wholesome admonitions to cherish mutual love and concord. He therefore left them with this decision, that each party should follow their own counsel, and preserve their own institutions. Grimbald, displeased at this, immediately departed to the monastery at Winchester(**), which had been recently founded by King Alfred, and ordered a tomb to be carried to Winchester, in which he proposed, after this life, that his bones should be laid in the vault which had been made under the chancel of St. Peter's church in Oxford; which church the same Grimbald had built from its foundations, of stone polished with great care.]

(**)Hide Abbey

In the year of our Lord's incarnation 887, which was the thirty- ninth of king Alfred's life, the above mentioned army of the pagans, leaving the city of Paris uninjured, because they could not succeed against it, sailed up the river Seine under the bridge, until they reached the mouth of the river Materne [Marne]; where they left the Seine, and, following for a long time the course of the Marne, at length, but not without much labour, they arrived at a place called Chezy, a royal vill, where they wintered one year. In the following year they entered the mouth of the river Ionna [Yonne], not without doing much damage to the country, and there remained one year. In tho same year Charles, king of the Franks, went the way of all flesh; but Arnulf, his brother's son, six weeks before he died, had expelled him from his kingdom. After his death five kings were appointed, and the kingdom was split into five parts; but the principal rank in the kingdom justly and deservedly devolved on Arnulf, save only that he committed an unworthy offence against his uncle. The other four kings promised fidelity and obedience to Arnulf, as was proper; for none of these four kings was hereditary on his father's side in his share of the kingdom, as was Arnulf; therefore, though the five kings were appointed immediately on the death of Charles, yet the empire remained in the hands of Arnulf. Such, then, was the division of the kingdom; Arnulf received the countries on the east of the river Rhine; Rodulf the inner parts of the kingdom; Oda the western part; Beorngar and Guido, Lombardy, and those countries which are in that part of the mountains; but they did not keep these large dominions in peace, for they twice fought a pitched battle, and often mutually ravaged their kingdoms, and drove each other out of their dominions. In the same year in which that [pagan] army left Paris and went to Chezy, Ethelhelm, earl of Wiltshire, carried to Rome the alms of king Alfred and of the Saxons. In the same year Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, so often before mentioned, by divine inspiration, began, on one and the same day, to read and to interpret; but that I may explain this more fully to those who are ignorant, I will relate the cause of this long delay in beginning. On a certain day we were both of us sitting in the king's chamber, talking on all kinds of subjects, as usual, and it happened that I read to him a quotation out of a certain book. He heard it attentively with both his ears, and addressed me with a thoughtful mind, showing me at the same moment a book which he carried in his bosom, wherein the daily courses and psalms, and prayers which he had read in his youth, were written, and he commanded me to write the same quotation in that book. Hearing this, and perceiving his ingenuous benevolence, and devout desire of studying the words of divine wisdom, I gave, though in secret, boundless thanks to Almighty God, who had implanted such a love of wisdom in the king's heart. But I could not find any empty space in that book wherein to write the quotation, for it was already full of various matters; wherefore I made a little delay, principally that I might stir up the bright intellect of the king to a higher acquaintance with the divine testimonies. Upon his urging me to make haste and write it quickly, I said to him, "Are you willing that I should write that quotation on some leaf apart? For it is not certain whether we shall not find one or more other such extracts which will please you; and if that should so happen, we shall be glad that we have kept them

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