Bourne Archive: FNQ: Hereward II
http:// boar.org.uk/ariwxo3FNQsupII.htm Latest edit 3 Feb 2010.
Web page & commentary © 2007 R.J.PENHEY With thanks to the trustees of the Willoughby Memorial Library
The Bourne Archive
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De Gestis Herwardi Saxonis.
De quibus parentibus Herwardus natus ; et quomodo a pueritia in magnanimitatibus operum crevit, et quare a patre et patria expulsus est, unde Exul cognominatus est.
Ex Anglorum gente1 multi robustissimi memorantur viri, et Herwardus Exul2 præclarissimus inter præclaros et insignis miles cum insignioribus habetur. Hujus igitur pater fuit quidem Lefricus de Brunne3, nepos comitis Radulfi cognominati Scabre4 et mater Aediva5 trinepta Oslaci ducis, utroque parente nobilissime progenitus. Puer enim erat spectabilis forma et vultu decorus, valde decoratus ex flavente cæsarie et prolixa facie, oculisque magnis, dextro ab alio variante modicum glaucus ; verum severus aspectu fuit, et ex nimia densitate membrorum admodum rotundus, sed nimis pro statura mediocri agilis, et in omnibus membris tota comperta efficacia. Inerat etiam illi a pueritia multa gratia et fortitudo corporis, et perfectum virum hujus rei ex facultate statim in adolescentia forma virtutis ejus eum demonstrabat, et erat gratia fortitudinis et virtute animi in cunctis excellenter præditus. Nam quantum ad liberalitatem attinet, ex paternis rebus et propriis dapsilis erat, et liberalissimus, solatium ferens omnibus indigentibus, scilicet crudelis in opere, et in ludo severus, libenter inter coætaneos commovens bella, et inter majores ætate in urbibus et in villis sæpe suscitans certamina, nullum sibi in ausibus et fortitudinum executionibus parem nec majores etiam ætate relinquens. Hic ergo dum in talibus adhuc juvenculis et multis majoribus animositatum progressibus de die in diem proficeret, et juvenis supra modum in viriles actus transcenderet, interdum nemini parcebat quem vel in fortitudine aliquantum rebellem suæ virtuti cognoscebat seu in certamine. Propterea quidem et his etiam de causis sæpissime seditionem faciebat in populo et tumultum in plebe. Unde patrem sibi inutilem et parentes valde ingratos reddebat, ob magnanimatatum6 ejus opera et fortitudinum cum amicis quotidie et vicinis decertantes, et inter provinciales velut hostes et tyranni se pro illo agentes, strictis gladiis et armis pæne semper filium a ludo vel a certamine revertentem muniendo. Quod tandem pater ejus ferre non valens, ipsum a facie sua depulit. Nec sic quidem adquievit, sed assumptis secum collectaneis, patrem ad sua prædia tendentem interim præcedebat, distribuens bona illius amicis et sibi faventibus, constitutis insuper sibimet in quibusdam paternis rebus ministris et servientibus, ut suis annonam ministrarent. Qua de re pater ejus a rege Eduardo impetravit, ut exul a patria fieret, patefactis omnibus quæcunque in patrem et contra parentes vel quæ contra provinciales egerat. Et factum est. Unde statim agnomen Exulis adeptus est, in decimo octavo ætatis anno a patre et patria expulsus.
The Exploits of Hereward the Saxon.
Of what parents Hereward was born, and how from his boyhood he increased in the splendour of his deeds, and why he was driven forth by his father and country ; whence he was surnamed “The Outlaw.”
Of the nations1 of the English many very mighty men are recorded, and Hereward the Outlaw2 is esteemed most distinguished amongst the distinguished, and a famous knight with the more famous. His father was Leofric, of Bourne3, grandson of Earl Radulf, surnamed Scabre4 ; and his mother was Aediva5 great-great-granddaughter of Duke Oslac ; most nobly descended by both parents. For he was a boy remarkable for his figure, and comely in aspect, very beautiful from his yellow hair, and with large grey eyes, the right eye slightly different in colour to the left ; but he was stern of feature, and somewhat stout, from the great sturdiness of his limbs, but very active for his moderate stature, and in all his limbs was found a complete vigour. There was in him also from his youth much grace and strength of body ; and from practice of this when a young man the character of his valour showed him a perfect man, and he was excellently endowed in all things with the grace of courage and valour of mind. For as regards liberality, he was, from his father’s possessions and his own, bountiful and most liberal, giving relief to all in need ; although cruel in act, and severe in play, readily stirring up quarrels among those of his own age, and often exciting contests among his elders in cities and villages ; leaving none equal to himself in deeds of daring and pursuit of brave actions, not even among his elders. While therefore he in such youthful and more mature progress in courage advanced from day to day, and as a youth greatly excelled in manly deeds ; at times he spared no one whom he knew to be at all a rival in courage or in fighting. For which reasons also he very often stirred up sedition among the populace and tumult among the common people. Whereby he made his father opposed to him and his parents very ungracious ; for because of his deeds of courage and boldness they were daily contending with their friends and neighbours and amongst the country folk who behaved like enemies and tyrants because of him, almost always protecting their son when returning from sport or fighting with drawn swords and arms. At length his father, not able to endure this, drove him from his presence. Nor then indeed did he keep quiet, but taking with him those of his own age, when his father was going to his estates, he sometimes went before him, and distributed his goods among his own friends and supporters, even appointing in some of his father’s possessions stewards and servants of his own, to supply corn to his men. Wherefore his father begged King Edward that he might be banished, making known everything he had done against his father and parents, and against the country people. And this was done. Whence forthwith he acquired the surname of the Outlaw, being driven from his father and country in the 18th year of his age.
Here we have the basics laid out quite clearly and a frame of reference provided. Consistency or not, between these data and what is said later will provide some check on the truth of each.
3. ↑ Here we learn that Hereward’s father was
Leofric who was associated with Bourne. He was of eminent descent, being the
grandson of Earl Radulf. This might be seen as a problem. The rank of earl was
created during Canute’s reign in
Figure 1 A modern version of Leofric's emblem, used by the Mercian Regiment. (Thanks to Wikimedia Commons)
Though it is fashionable to doubt the identity, the description leaves little room for thinking Hereward’s father anyone but Leofric, Earl of Mercia, particularly when it is combined with later references to circumstantial detail. For example, the father was of a standing such that he was able to ask the king to exile Hereward and having asked, he had his request granted.
of Abbot John of
There is the possibility that in Medieval Latin, patruus came to be used for all uncles, paternal and maternal. The difficulty with this is that the modified Latin words we use today: uncle, avuncular and in French, oncle or German, Onkel appear to derive from avunculus rather than patruus, so implying that the converse happened (FWP).
4. ↑ It is sometimes suggested that Scabre is a form of the word ‘staller’. The latter was a title which went with an office which had originated as that of bodyguard but by the mid eleventh century had come to include something like ‘Guardian of National Security’. Scaber is Latin for ‘rough, scruffy, untidy, scabby, mangy’ (Hanford & Herberg). Here, in keeping with ‘Radulfi cognominati’, it would be in its genitive form, which Classical Latin would write as ‘scabri’ but Mediaeval Latin often writes ‘e’ for ‘i’ and vice versa (Sidwell 0.11), so here scabri has become scabre.
Sweeting translates nepos as ‘grandson’ which
is what the word means but it is sometimes used to mean ‘descendant’. This is
one possible explanation of the discrepancy. However, the fact that Leofric had
two grandfathers is perhaps a more promising route towards reconciling the
information about Radulf with the fact that Leofric
of Mercia’s paternal grandfather was called Ælfwine (DNB Leofric, earl of
According to Polly Brill,
Leofwine’s father was Edulph and his mother, Elfwina. How reliable this may be is hard to say. Elfwina’s parents are there given as Ethelred of Mercia and
Ethelfleda, lady of the Mercians and daughter of Alfred the Great. They were
the ones who, in 918, established the English Borough at
5. ↑ Names
of this period, particularly those of women, come in various forms. Since Godiva is known to have
been the wife of Leofric, we may begin with the assumption that like Godgifu, Aediva
is a variant of that name. She appears to have died in 1067 (DNB
2007 Godiva). The
Domesday Book records the property (in 1065) of Countess Godiva (Comitissa Godeua) around
Finding a relationship between her and an Oslac is a little difficult. If this report refers to Oslac
of Sussex, the generations would be well over 50 years apart. If Oslac
is an Anglicisation of Áslákr, Jarl of southern
Hereward was, as we are told at the close of this chapter,
‘in the 18th year of his age’ when he was exiled. He was thus
between seventeen and eighteen years old when he arrived at Gilbert of Ghent’s
house at Christmas (Chapter III). This left time for his visits beyond
Northumberland and to
Godiva would have needed to have been born in the period 1015 to 1020, not much before because the need to fit in the relevant generations since Oslac and not much after since she was of marriageable age before Hereward was born, if she was to be the mother of Hereward’s elder brother, Ælfgar. However, Ælfgar is reported as having sons useful as soldiers, in 1070/1 (Chapter XIX). This would have required her birth not long after 1000. The DNB 2007 (Godiva) makes her the mother of Ælfgar and estimates her birth year as about 990 but gives no grounds for these assumptions. It also suggests that her marriage to Leofric dated from about 1010. This would have comfortably enabled his grandsons to be of soldierly age by 1070, when they are reported as part of the gathering of men heading for Ely (Chapter XIX). If Turbertinus was Edwin’s great-grandson, as stated, (Chapter XIX) even this is barely long enough a span. If we assume a mistake has been made at some stage, we may read him not as the great-grandson of Edwine, Earl of Mercia but of Leofric, Earl of Mercia. This would mean that placing Godiva’s birth in 990 would be amply early. Her death in 1067 would then make her life 77 years long which is not impossible but probably exceptional. There are two catches. The first is that the DNB (Eadwine) asserts that Edwine, Leofric’s grandson had no descendents. The second is that Godiva would have been too old in the 1050s to have borne the young son killed at the time of Hereward’s return.
The first may be explained by the DNB’s not having taken account of Turbertinus: the production of a great-grandson of Leofric need not have involved Edwin. The second can be explained quite simply, if Godiva was Leofric’s first wife and Aediva was another woman, who became his second and was young enough in the 1050s to have borne the young son, killed at the time of Hereward’s return in Chapter XIV. This leaves the births of Hereward and the younger son occurring before Godiva died in 1067. Though, despite her apparent piety (DNB 2007 Godiva), there is no sign that she had retired to a nunnery. The modern mind-set would see this as a very unlikely state of affairs but Leofric was not a modern man.
We are left with looking at the differences between Danish
law and that of
It seems in any case, that Aediva (Eadgifu, pronounced Eadyiva) is a form not of Godiva, or Godgifu (pronounced Godyiva) but of the modern name Edith. This tends to confirm the duality of the mothers of Ælfgar and Hereward, though they were simultaneously, wives (more danico) of Leofric.
The word more, the ablative singular of mos, appears again in Chapter XXII.
Hereward had been formally exiled:
The tensions arising from a
marriage more danico, followed by a
time when the new ‘Christian’ attitudes began to take hold in the former
Danelaw, could well explain Hereward’s behaviour. A boy growing up feeling that
he is regarded as an embarrassment is likely to respond either with destructive
behaviour or by excelling. It seems that the subject of the present text did
both. If the youth was an embarrassment in any case, Leofric’s efforts to expel
him from the country would be the more explicable. On expulsion, the first
place Hereward went to was ‘beyond Northumberland’, where he seems to have
found an expression of the old Scandinavian culture, if the story of Bjørn, in Chapter III is
indicative. The culture he sought in
It has to be remembered that all
the time he was exiled he had to be somewhere outside
The name of Gilbert of Gant, in Chapter III, appears not to
fit the hypothesis of an inclination toward a Scandinavian culture. A Gilbert
of Ghent was a major post-Conquest land-holder in
Very unusually, the text says
explicitly, that he was wealthy, (dives) which may
imply that his notability may have arisen from this rather than his wealth’s
being a consequence of militarily backed power: in other words, that he was a
merchant. Right through to the nineteenth century, such men tended to act in
some respect as bankers. It may be that the Gilbert of Ghent of the text and the
one of the Domesday Book are identical and that he earned his Anglo-Norman
lands by supporting the invasion financially: in view of the timing of his
receipt of the Yorkshire lands, perhaps by lending money for the unexpectedly
prolonged need to pay soldiers to pacify
It may be possible to find Aediva
(Edith) mentioned in the Domesday Book but she would have to be distinguished
from the other Ediths mentioned there. In
In Cambridgeshire, Edeua pulcra (Edeva the Fair) was a
quite extensive property holder (). She seems to have been the same
Edith who was the sister of Edwin and Morcar, therefore the granddaughter of
Hereward’s father, Leofric. She was married to Gruffudd ap
Llywelyn, of Gwynedd then to Harold II, of
Edith, Hereward’s mother seems to appear
in some Domesday Book entries under the names Eddiue, Eddiua and Eddeua, translated by Morris as Eadgifu
(which would be pronounced Eadyiva); mainly in Lindsey, Lincolnshire (Morris
18,25. 26,26. 34,1;3;8-9;27. 36,1-2;5). In one of these (36,5) at
The Domesday Record of Hereward’s Property
The matter of the Domesday Book’s record seems to give people trouble in reconciling the elevated social standing of Hereward’s family (given that he was Leofric, Earl of Mercia’s son) and the meagreness of Hereward’s property.
The Domesday record refers in
principal, to two periods; what it calls T.
R. E. (in tempore regis Edwardi - in King Edward’s time) and modo – ‘now’, the time when the survey
was completed (1086). In
The reality is that the only
difficulty lies in explaining why property is listed under Hereward’s name at
all. He had been formally exiled by the king, before Leofric died in 1057. The
earlier period recorded in Domesday is that at King Edward’s death, early in
1066 by the modern calendar. As an exile from
The four items in Lincolnshire (MorrisJ), which are listed as involving his name are one clear statement (CK 4) that he did not own the relevant property when he left: one statement (CK 48) that the property had been repossessed before he left: one property (42,9) which he had held jointly with a man called Toli and which the latter presumably took over before losing it to Odger the Breton: and one (8,34) which is harder to explain. Between 1065 and 1086, Hereward’s 12 bovates had come into the hands of Peterborough Abbey. It could simply be that there were complications which caused the lawyers to be a bit slow on that one. It was still, so to speak, subject to contract when King Edward died.
Why Hereward’s property is not listed under modo, is a more interesting question, thrown up by Chapter XXXVI.