In old time the realm of England was greatly troubled with the Danes, so that in many kings’ days there could no peace be made, but continually war. And the Danes prevailed against England, and they brought it under their subjection, for their cruelty and tyranny was so great that, without sparing of anything, they burnt and destroyed.
But at the last it pleased Almighty God that this tyranny should cease, and sent of his grace unto this realm of England a peaceable king named Edgar, in whose birth angels sang that peace should be in his time, and so in his days was no war in England. Saint Edward, king and martyr, his son, reigned not long after him, for his stepmother did do slay him in his young age, because her son Ethelred should reign, and Saint Dunstan baptized Ethelred, and said because he defiled the fontstone that, he should live in great trouble, and so he did, for the Danes warred all his time. And this Ethelred wedded Earl Godwin’s daughter, on whom he gat Edmond Ironside. And after the death of that queen, he wedded the daughter of Richard, duke of Normandy, which hight Emma, by whom he had two sons, Alfred and Edward, which was a saint and confessor, of whom we purpose to speak. When king Ethelred was fallen in age, he made a parliament which of his two sons should be kings after him. And then by the provision of God it was concluded that Edward, which was not then born in his mother’s belly, should be king, and excluded Edmond Ironside and Alfred, which were the king’s older sons. And when the king had consented thereto, a general oath was made to perform the same in time coming. And after, when this child was born, all the land enjoyed in his birth, hoping to be greatly relieved by him. Yet always the cruelty of the Danes was so great, which the king so much doubted, that he sent the queen and his two sons Alfred and Edward, into Normandy, and took his oldest son Edmond with him to battle, to fight against the Danes. The sorrow was then great in England, for much people turned to the Danes against their own king, and without pity did burn and slay their own country with the Danes, among whom was slain Alphage, archbishop of Canterbury at Greenwich, and many other good men. And some bishops, priests, and men of religion, fled into secret places and deserts, where they devoutly prayed unto Almighty God for to have very peace in this land, but this war continued all the life of Ethelred, according to the prophecy of Saint Dunstan.
And after Ethelred, reigned Edmond Ironside his son, in full great trouble, for in his days no man durst trust other, ne open his courage to his neighbour, for that time each man appeached other of treason, to the intent that he might have his good. And they that were not of power to overcome their neighbours, turned unto the Danes against their own neighbours, and so, by the help of the Danes, they fulfilled their cursed purpose, and so there was much extortion, and much people slain in divers places, in houses, fields and ways, that the people unnethe durst bury them. Also in that time was great tyranny, murder, oppressing of women, as wives, widows, and maidens against their wills. And in this persecution Englishmen were nigh destroyed, and great desolation was in holy church, for monasteries, churches, and houses of religion were burnt and destroyed, which caused many to flee into wilderness, among whom the good bishop of Winchester, Brightwold, fled into the abbey of Glastonbury, where he daily prayed unto Almighty God for peace of this realm of England.
Our blessed Lord, seeing his meekness, showed to him a vision by which he was greatly comforted. For in a night, as he was in his oratory, he fell in a sweet slumber, and saw the glorious apostle Saint Peter with bright shining clothes appearing in a high place of dignity, and with him a seemly young man richly arrayed in clothing of a king, whom Saint Peter did consecrate and anoint into a king, and commending his chastity greatly, and his clean living. And it was showed to this bishop many years tofore, that this Edward should reign in this land, and the bishop, being abashed of this vision, desired of Saint Peter to know the vision thereof, to whom Saint Peter said the estate of this realm, and told that the fury and woodness of the Danes should cease soon after, and said that all this punishment was for the sins of the people, and God should purvey for a peaceable king, which shall finish all the woodness of his enemies the Danes. In whose time shall be plenty of peace, both to the church and to the land, and great abundance of corn and fruit. And this realm shall be prosperous in all things, and the people shall be of such conditions that other lands shall both love and dread them. The king’s name shall be Edward, which shall rule all manner things to the pleasing of God, and shall end his life in the love of our Lord graciously. And when this holy bishop awoke, he kneeled down and made his prayers with shedding of tears, and though that peace was not yet reformed, nevertheless he thanked Almighty God that he was certain that, by God’s grace, he should see it in his days, wherefore he went about and preached to the people for to do penance, and our Lord should show to us mercy, and give to us peace and all things plenteous. And in this war was the king slain by treason, and he was buried at Glastonbury. Then both his sons were brought to King Canute the Dane, to do with them what he would, and when he saw them he might not for pity slay them, but sent them over the sea to be slain there, so that he might reign in England peaceably when the rightful blood was destroyed. Notwithstanding, they were preserved and kept alive, and were conveyed to the emperor of Rome, the which kept them till Saint Edward was made king of England, and then he married the oldest of them to a cousin of his, because of the love that they had to King Edward, which was uncle to them. Then had King Canute the rule of England by strong hand, all law and good rule set aside. For in his days was full much trouble and robbery with other great oppressions and importable charges among the commonalty. For he dreaded no man except the two sons of the king, that were then with the emperor, wherefor his council would that he should wed the mother of them named Emma, to make the more alliance between them. And soon after, Alfred came to England for to speak with his mother, and anon as he was come over the sea into this land Earl Godwin came and welcomed him, and anon after slew him by treason, ere he came to the presence of his mother. For whose death Saint Edward made great sorrow. And while this holy child Saint Edward was in Normandy, he used a full good life, haunting ofttimes holy church, and loved and conversed many times with the company of holy religious men, and especially among holy monks. And used to pray and say in this manner: O good Lord, I have none help but thee only, my friends be gone from me, and they be become mine adversaries. My father is dead and my brethren be slain, my mother is wedded to my most enemy, and I am left alone, and daily they seek the means to slay me, but to thee, Lord, I am left poor. I beseech thee, Lord, to help me that am a fatherless child, for thou sometime helpedst marvellously Edwin and Oswald, which were exiled and ordained for to die. Thou defendedst them not only from death, but also thou, Lord, restoredst them again to their own kingdoms. O good Lord, I beseech thee and pray thee to keep me safe, and bring me into the kingdom of my father. Thou shalt be my God, and Saint Peter the apostle my patron, the relics of whom, by the grace of God, I purpose to visit and to honour in the same place where they now rest, if thou, Lord, send to me life, health, opportunity and space.
And when King Canute had reigned in England twenty years, having two sons by the said Emma, that is to wit, Harold and Hardicanute, he died, and when his first son had reigned four years, he exiled his own mother, and died soon after. And after him reigned his brother a little time, and died also, as our Lord had ordained, and then was England delivered from the grievous tribute and thraldom of the Danes. And then the lords and the commons of England remembered the oath that they made in the parliament, which sware that Edward, which was then in his mother’s womb, should be their king, and anon sent into Normandy for this holy child Edward. And the lords and the commons received him with great gladness, and then the archbishop of Canterbury and the archbishop of York, with other bishops, did consecrate him, anointed and crowned him king of England. O good Lord! what joy and gladness was then in England. For when the old felicity of this land was almost despaired, then it was kindled again by the coming of this blessed king Saint Edward. Then had the commons rest and peace, and the lords and gentlemen rest and honour, and then holy church received all her liberties again. Then was the sun lifted up, and the moon set in his order, that is to say, priests shined in wisdom and in holiness. The monasteries flourished in devotion by holy religion. The clerks gave light and prospered in their offices to the pleasure of God. The common people were content and were joyful in their degree, and in this king’s days there was no venom that might then corrupt the earth with pestilence, and in the sea none outrageous tempests, and the land plenteous of all manner of fruits; and in the clergy nothing inordinate; and among the common people was no grudging. And the renomee and fame of this holy king Saint Edward sprang so marvellously about to other nations, in such wise that all christian kings desired to have peace with him. The king of France, which was nigh of his kin, made with him a general peace, so that it might be said of him as it was said of Solomon: All the kings of the earth desired to see his face, and to hear his wisdom; except only Denmark, which yet conspired against this realm of England. And what fell thereof, it shall be declared hereafter more openly, for this holy king Edward was ever full of meekness and of virtue, and never lifted up by vain glory, but ever he remembered the words of our Lord that saith: I have set thee prince of the people, but be not therefore lifted up in vain glory, but be thou among them as one of them.
He was among his household men equal and familiar, among priests meek and debonair, to his people amiable and cheerful, to wretches and needy men full of compassion and large of almsgiving. He was also much devout in the service of God, and diligent to repair and re-edify churches that were destroyed by the Danes. And in judgment full discreet, considering no man’s person, but only the weight of his cause, as well to the rich as to the poor, and he had riches enough, and his treasure seemed common to all poor men. His words were sad and discreet and meddled with mirth, speaking oft of Jesu Christ the second person in the Trinity, and of our blessed Lady his mother. And sometime he spake sharply, as he saw need, correcting trespassers, gentle and sweet to good men. He was never elate, ne enhanced in pride, ne dishonest by gluttony. He would not be compelled by wrath, ne incline for gift.
He despised riches, and was never sorry for loss of worldly goods and riches, ne the more glad for winning thereof, in such wise that all men marvelled of the sadness of him. And about the king were divers covetous men, which said to the king how his treasure wasted fast, and if the Danes came again he had not wherewith to defend him. Wherefore they counselled him to raise an aid among his commons, like as King Canute had done divers times. An aid was then except the danegeld, and they counselled to do in like wise. And he said: Nay, and he would not agree thereto, notwithstanding they daily cried upon him. And when he saw them so importunate and showed so great perils, then at the last he said to them to prove them, Let us see how ye will do. And when they heard that of his own mouth they were right glad, and sent out commissions for to gather it, and spared no country, but made them pay in the largest wise. And when this money was levied and brought in to the king’s treasury, then they brought the king thither for to see it. The king then standing afar from it, saw the devil in likeness of an ape, sitting upon the treasure, and said: What have ye done? and what money have ye brought to me? Forsooth, there shall not one penny be spent to my use, but I charge you for to deliver to each man his money again, but thereto they were much loth, and said that they might spend it in deeds of charity. Then the king said: God forbid that I should spend the goods of other men, for what alms should I make with the goods of poor commons and labourers ? See ye not how the devil sitteth upon the heap of money, and maketh great joy that he hath taken us in his snare? Wherefore I charge you on pain of death that ye deliver this money again there as ye had it, every penny. Then they obeyed the king, and repaid it unto them of whom they had received it, and durst never after move the king to such matters, ne in none other like, so that all the days of Saint Edward was neither task ne taillage levied among his commons, which was a great joy to the realm.
In a time the king was sick, lying in his bed, and there stood in his chamber a chest open, full of gold and silver, and a clerk came in, supposing the king had slept, and took out of it a certain sum of money, and went his way. And soon after he came again and would have taken more; then the king said: Forsooth, now thou art unwise to come again, for thou hadst sufficiently enough tofore, therefore beware, for if the treasurer come and find thee thou art like to die therefor, wherefore if thou love thy life flee fast away with that thou hast. And anon after came the treasurer and found how of the treasure was borne away a great part, and sought and enquired diligently for the thief that stole it. And the king seeing the great trouble and sorrow of the treasurer demanded him the cause of his heaviness. And when he had told it to the king, the king said to him: Sorrow no more, for peradventure he that hath it hath more need to it than we, and so the thief escaped and was not pursued.
After, when all things were quiet in the realm, the council of the land assembled for to treat for a marriage for the king, at which thing, when it was moved, he was greatly abashed, dreading to lose the treasure of his virginity, which was kept in a frail and brittle vessel; and what he should do or say he wist not. For, if he should obstinately deny it, he dreaded lest his vow of chastity should be openly known, and if he consented thereto he dreaded to lose his chastity, wherefore he commended himself only to God, saying these words: O good Lord, thou deliveredst sometime three children from the flame of fire in the chimney and furnace of the Chaldees, and, by the Lord, Joseph escaped with his chastity from the wife of Potiphar, she holding his mantle, and yet by thy mercy he escaped, and, good Lord, by thy virtue Susanna was delivered from the death to the which the old unchaste priests had damned her to; and by thy might, Lord, Judith escaped when she had slain Holofernes, and reserved her from defouling, and escaped without hurt; and above all other thou hast preserved thy blessed mother, most best and sweetest lady, she being both wife and virgin; then behold on me thy servant, and son of thine handmaid, that I am in great dread. I lift up my heart to thee, beseeching thee that art my Lord, and thy mother, my sweetest Lady, to help me now in this most need, that I may so receive the sacrament of wedlock that I fall not in peril of my chastity. And with this condition in his heart, he consented to matrimony.
Then was all the council right glad, and searched for a virgin that were according to his estate. And among all the virgins of the land Edith, daughter of Earl Godwin, was found most according to him by her virtuous conditions. And her father made great means to the king’s council for to accomplish this marriage, by which he might come in the king’s conceit. And by his wisdom, for his great might and power, he had his intent. And when the marriage was solemnised and accomplished by the holy sacrament, he and the queen vowed to live together chaste secretly, that no man knew it but God alone. There was between them a loving spousehood without bodily knowing of deed, chaste embracing without defloration of virginity. There was between them verily chaste love, without fleshly touching and knowing. Afterward, some of the realm grudged, saying he had taken a wife by compulsion against his will of an unkind lineage, and would not know his wife because he would not bring forth more tyrants. And thus none knew the very truth of his chaste life whilst he lived, but the very cleanness of his mind was sufficient witness of his chastity.
It happened on a Whitsunday, as the king was crowned at Westminster in his estate, and kneeling, made his prayers devoutly for the tranquillity and peace of his land before the altar of the blessed Trinity, at the elevation of the blessed sacrament he fell in a soft and demure laughing, so that the lords that were there present awaiting on him marvelled greatly, but durst say nothing to him till the service was done. Then one, that was hardier than another, demanded of him the cause of his laughing, and then he told to him how the Danes had assembled in great power of people against the realm of England, and were entering into their ships; and as the king of Denmark would have entered into the ship, suddenly his strength was taken from him, and so fell into the sea between two ships and was drowned, by whose death the people of Denmark, and also of England, were delivered from sin and peril. They, hearing this, marvelled greatly, and sent into Denmark to know the truth. And when the messengers returned, they reported that it was true as the king had said, and that the king of Denmark was drowned that same time that Saint Edward laughed.
After this, the noble Saint Edward remembered his vow and promise to visit Saint Peter at Rome, which he made in Normandy, wherefore he let call his commons and his lords to a council tofore him, whereof he communed with them how and in what manner he might depart, and of the governance of the realm in his absence, what people should be convenient for to accompany him, and what money should suffice him and his meiny. And when the lords and commons heard this, they were full heavy and sorrowful that he should depart from them, and he seeing their heaviness comforted them, and said how that our Lord had sent to them peace, and by his good grace should continue the same in his absence. Yet, notwithstanding, the people required him to send unto the pope to be assoiled of his vow, or else delay it till another time. And the king, seeing the sorrow and lamentation of his people, which wept and wrung their hands, and as people amazed without a defender and keeper, comforted them and granted to abide still with them, and ordained certain bishops for to go to Rome and to ask of our holy father counsel, how he might be assoiled of this avow that he had made to visit Saint Peter. And the archbishop of York, and bishop of Winchester, and two abbots, with divers clerks and laymen, went to Rome, and when they came to Rome, the pope had made that time a great congregation of clerks of divers great matters belonging to holy church, and when the pope wist of their coming, he was right glad and sent for them, and the pope bade them tell the cause of their coming. And anon, silence was made, and they exposed the cause of their coming, and recited the avow and the desire of King Edward, the peril of the realm, the trouble, the dread of the people, the breaking of the peace, the clamour of the poor commons, the jeopardy of the king in his absence, and the piteous destruction which the Danes had late made by their cruelty; and also declared the great devotion he had to visit the holy apostles Peter and Paul. Then the pope and the clergy marvelled greatly, and gave laud and praising unto Almighty God that he had sent so devout and virtuous a prince in the angle of the world to maintain by his wisdom the christian faith, and how dreadful he was to offend against the holy church. And when the pope understood how his people loved him, and how sorrowful they would be of his departing, he marvelled greatly, and thought verily that he was greatly beloved of God and was with him in all his works, for he saw in him the meekness of David, the chastity of Joseph, and the riches of Solomon, and yet he set nought thereby. Then the pope, considering the great perils that might ensue by his departing, dispensed with him, and assoiled him of his avow, of which he sent to him a bull under lead, and enjoined him in penance to give the goods that he should have spent in his pilgrimage, to deeds of charity, and to re-edify some church of Saint Peter, and endow it with sufficient livelihood. And then the messengers received the pope’s blessing, and returned into England, and came unto the king at Westminster. And when the king understood how he was assoiled of his avow, and how they had sped, he was glad, and thanked Almighty God and our holy father the pope.
There was a holy man, a recluse in the diocese of Worcester, which knew nothing of the council assembled upon the governance of the land, ne of the avow of the king, ne of the message sent to Rome, to whom Saint Peter appeared in a night, and said to him how King Edward had sent to Rome to be assoiled of the avow that he made when he was beyond the sea, and he hath great conscience because his council would not suffer him to accompany it in going in his proper person to Rome, wherefore thou shalt write to him in my name and give him knowledge that he is assoiled by mine authority from the bond of his avow, and how he shall have, in commandment of the pope for his penance, to give such goods as he hath ordained for his expenses, to poor men, and to make a new abbey in the honour of Saint Peter, or to repair an old one, and to endow it sufficiently, and write to him that, by the same token that he chose me sometime to be his patron in Normandy, that he repair the abbey called Thorney in the west of the city of London, which sometime I hallowed myself. And let him set therein monks of good conversation, for from that place shall be a ladder stretching in to heaven, and angels descending and ascending, bearing up to heaven to our Lord the prayers of meek and devout men. And to him that ascendeth by that ladder, I shall open the gates of heaven, like as our Lord hath enjoined me by mine office, and I shall loose them that be bound, and receive them that be unbound. All this that thou hast herd of me, thou shalt write it, and send it to King Edward, which then was many a mile thence. And the messenger that came from this anker or recluse came to the presence of the king the same time that the bishops came from Rome. And when the king had received the letters that came from Rome with great reverence and read them, he thanked God that he was so clearly released of the bond of his avow. And then he commanded the letters of the recluse to be read. And when they were read, and he saw they were according to the letters that came from Rome, he humbly thanked God and Saint Peter his patron, and incontinent disposed him to fulfil his penance, and began to repair the abbey that he was assigned to repair by the glorious apostle Saint Peter, and gave largely alms to poor people, and franchised all England of the tribute that was used yearly to be paid to the Danes for evermore.
On a time when King Edward was at Westminster, there came to him a cripple, born in Ireland, which was named Giles Michell. And this cripple had no feet, but went upon his hands and knees, having in either hand a little stool to go with. His legs were both bent backward and cleaved to his thighs, and his toes grew fast to his buttocks. This cripple entered boldly into the king’s palace, and came to the king’s chamber door. And one Hulin, the king’s chamberlain, demanded him sharply what he did there. To whom the cripple said: Let me not, I pray you, for I must needs speak to the king, for I have been out of this land six times to visit the holy relics of the holy apostle Saint Peter, to the intent to be healed, and Saint Peter denied me not, but bade me go into England and let the king bear me on his back into the church of Saint Peter, and then I shall be made perfectly whole. Which thing was told to the king by the same Hulin, and anon the king had pity on the poor man, and disdained not, but took him on his shoulders and bare him, whom the cripple beclipped with his foul and scabby hands and arms, and so, in the bearing, his sinews loosed and were reached out. And of kernels and botches of his face, and of scurvies, there ran great plenty of blood and matter on the king’s clothes, which was told to the king, and also that he was all whole, but the king took none heed thereto, but bare him to the high altar, and there he was set down on his feet, and was made perfectly whole to ride or go whither he would, but the king would in no wise have this miracle ascribed to him, but gave to him a reward and bade him to go to Rome and thank God and his holy apostle Saint Peter.
In that time King Ethelbert, which reigned in Kent, and Sigbert in Middlesex, were converted to the faith of Christ by Saint Austin. Which Ethelbert made in London, within the city, a noble and royal church in the honour of Saint Paul, in which Saint Austin ordained Saint Mellitus to be bishop of that city. Which king was not satisfied with that good deed, but thought and also did do make another church in the west end of the city, which then was called Thorney, and now is named Westminster, which church he prayed Mellitus for to hailow in the honour of Saint Peter, and the night before that he had purposed to hallow it, Saint Peter appeared to a fisher in Thames, and bade him set him over from Stangate to Westminster, and he prayed the fisher to abide him there till he came again, and he would well reward him for his labour. And soon after the fisher saw Saint Peter enter into the church with a great light, which light endured as long as he was in the church. And a certain space after, he returned to the fisher asking him if he had any meat to eat, and the fisher was so greatly abashed of the light that issued out of the church with him, that he durst not speak to him. To whom Saint Peter said: Brotber, dread thee not, I am a man as thou art; hast thou any fish? And he said: Nay, for I have awaited on you all this night while ye have been in the church. And then they entered into the boat, and Saint Peter commanded him to cast out his net. And when he had so done, there came so great a multitude of great fishes into his net, that unnethe they might draw up the net for breaking. And when they were come to land Saint Peter divided the fishes, and bade the fisher bear the greatest unto Mellitus, bishop of London, and deliver it to him, and tell to him that I have hallowed the church of Westminster this night, and say to him that he say mass therein to-morrow, and if he will not believe it, say to him, when he cometh he shall find there tokens sufficient, and I shall be patron of that church, and visit it ofttimes, and bear in the sight of Almighty God the prayers and devotions of true christian people that pray in that place, and take thou the remnant of the fish for thy labour. And this said, Saint Peter vanished away. Then the fisher marvelled greatly of the sight that he had seen, and early by the morrow he went to the bishop Mellitus, of London, and delivered to him the fish that Saint Peter had sent to him, and told to him, by order, like as Saint Peter had given him charge, and as ye have heard tofore. But the bishop would not believe him till he came to Westminster and saw the tokens for to put him out of doubt. And when he had opened the church door he found a cross made of sand from that one side of the church unto that other, with a. b. c. Ietters of grewe, and he found also twelve crosses made on the walls in divers places of the church, and the ends of twelve candles almost burnt out, and also he saw the places that were anointed with holy oil, which were yet moist and appeared newly done. Then the bishop believed this thing verily, and said mass that same day in the church, and there preached to the people a glorious sermon, and declared the great miracle openly. Wherefore the people gave laud and praisings to God and to his glorious apostle Saint Peter. And then Saint Edward understood that this church was of old time hallowed by Saint Peter, and how Saint Peter had commanded him to repair the same church, as the letter of the recluse maketh mention. So then ever after he had full great devotion to the same place. And he did do cast down the old work, and did do build it up new, and endowed that monastery worshipfully with livelihood and jewels. And at that time pope Leo was dead and pope Nicholas was after him. And then the king, to give relation to him of his penance, enjoined by Leo his predecessor, to re-edify a monastery of the glorious apostle Saint Peter, and sent Alfred, the archbishop of York, to Rome with other clerks to inform the pope that he had accomplished his penance, that is to wit, both distributed his goods to poor men, and also repaired a monastery of Saint Peter, and how he had by revelation what place he should repair, praying him to ratify and confirm the same, which pope Leo had done tofore him. Then pope Nicholas, considering the great devotion and true intent of this christian king, Saint Edward, confirmed the bull of absolution, and ratified the foundation and the statutes of the monastery, and gave thereto great and large privileges, that whosoever presumed to take away any movable or immovable goods, or would take any man by force or strength out of that church or of the precinct of the same, should be accursed by the authority of Peter and Paul to be damned with Judas, in hell everlastingly to lie in pain. Then the messengers returned again from Rome with letters of confirmation. And when the king saw the great benevolence of our holy father the pope, and his favour and gentleness, giving to him, by writing, more privileges and freedom than he desired, then he was full of gladness and joy, and thanked Almighty God of all his gifts.
On a time when the king was in the church of Saint Peter at Westminster, and was disposed in great devotion, as his custom was, to hear mass, Earl Leofric kneeled behind the king and saw with his bodily eyes our Lord Jesu Christ between the priest‘s hands, appearing in the likeness of a glorious child or beauteous person, which blessed the king with his right hand. And the king, which was greatly comforted with the sight, bowed down his head, and with great devotion and meekness received the blessing of our Lord. Then the earl arose to tell the king, supposing that the king had not seen it, but he knew the earl’s intent and bade him stand still, for that thou seest I see, and him I honour. And when mass was done they talked together of their vision, and they were marvellously refreshed with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and might not well speak for joy and weeping. Then the king commanded Leofric that this vision should never be uttered ne openly known till the time that they should die. And when Leofric should depart hence, he told it in confession to his ghostly father, and made it to be written, and that writing was laid in a chest among other relics. And many years after, when they were both dead, the writing was found and read. And then the holiness of the king was known, and his meekness showed, which would not it should be showed by their life for vain glory.
There was a young woman given in marriage to a noble man, and not long after she had twain misfortunes. First she was barren, and also there arose under her cheek many foul botches and kernels full of corrupt humours, which engendered foul worms, and made her flesh to stink, so that she was abominable and hateful to her husband, and to all her friends. And when she could not be healed by no medicine, then she put all her hope and trust in Almighty God, and with many a bitter tear, both day and night besought and prayed him to deliver her from that reproof and disease, or else to take her out of this world. And when she had thus long continued in prayer, she was commanded by a voice in her sleep that she should go to the holy King Edward, and if he would wash her face with his hands, she should be all whole. And when she awoke she avowed to seek the king in his palace, and then she came thither, and made means that the king might have knowledge of her dream. And when the king understood it, he called her to him and said: If God will that I should wash thy face, I will not refuse it, and called after water, and with his own hands he washed her face, and wrung out the worms and all the foul blood out of her face, and bade her tarry there three or four days till the skin might cover again her visage, and thank thou God for thy deliverance. And when she was made perfectly whole, and her visage fair and beauteous, then she fell down at the king’s feet. and thanked him humbly of her deliverance, but he forbade her for to give any praising to him therefor, but bade her to give laud and praising to God therefor, for he is the doer, not I. Then she prayed the king that he would pray to God for her that she might have a child by her husband, for she had been long barren. And the king promised her so to do. And then she returned joyously home to her husband, and soon after conceived and had a child, whereof she thanked God that she was healed of both her diseases.
Saint Paul writeth that the Holy Ghost giveth graces diversely; to some he giveth wisdom, to some conning, and to some grace to heal and to cure sick people. But this blessed king Saint Edward had a special grace above others in giving sight to blind men. There was a blind man well known, which heard a voice in his sleep, that if he might have of the water that the king washed his hands in, and wash his eyes therewith, he should have his sight again. Then the next day after, this blind man went in to the king’s palace, and told his vision to the king’s chamberlain, and the chamberlain told it to the king. Then the king said that it might be well an illusion or a dream which is not always true, for it hath not been seen that foul water of a sinner’s hands should give sight to blind men. Then said the chamberlain that many times dreams have been found true, as the dreams of Joseph, Pharaoh, Daniel, and many others. Then the king in great humility went into the church on a solemn day with a basin of water, and commanded the blind man to be brought to him. And as the king washed the face of the blind man, his eyes were opened and he had his sight, and stood all abashed looking on the people, as he had newly come into this world. And then the people wept for joy to see the holiness of the king. And then he was demanded if he might see clearly, and he said: Yea, forsooth, and the king kneeled down before the altar saying this verse with great dread and meekness: Non nobis domine, non nobis, sed nomini tuo da gloriam, that is to say: Not to us, Lord, not to us, but unto thy name be given glory.
After this, the holiness and fame of Saint Edward sprang about so that, a citizen of Lincoln, which had been blind three years, came to the king’s palace to have of the water that the king had washed his hands in, for he believed that it would heal him. And as he had gotten of that water by one of the king’s officers, he washed his face and eyes therewith, and anon he was restored to his sight and was perfectly made whole, and so joyfully returned home, magnifying God and Saint Edward that he had his sight again.
In a time there were gathered together certain workman to hew down trees to the King’s palace at Bruham. And after their labour, they laid them down to sleep in the shadow, and a young man of that fellowship that hight Wilwin, when he should rise, he opened his eyes and might not see. He washed his face and rubbed his eyes, but he might nothing see, wherefore he was full of heaviness. Then one of his fellows led him home to his house and he abode so blind eighteen years. And at the last, a worshipful woman came to visit and comfort him. And when she knew how he was made blind, she bade him be of good cheer, and said if he would visit sixty churches with good devotion, and then to have the water that the king had washed his hands in and wash his eyes withal, he should have his sight again. Then he was greatly comforted, and gat him a guide, and went and visited three score churches with great devotion, and came to the king’s palace and cried for help, and they that heard him bade him cease of his crying, but for all that he cried more and more. And when the king understood it, he called him to him and said: Why should I not set my hands to help this poor man, though I be unworthy, if it please God to relieve him and to give to him his sight? And because he would not be found disobedient to God ne presumptuous, he took water and washed his eyes full meekly, and anon he was restored to his sight, and saw as clearly as ever he did.
Also there was a fair miracle of three blind men, and the fourth had but one eye, which came to the king’s palace, and then came one of the king’s servants, which had pity on them, and he gat of the water that the king had washed his hands in when he had healed that other blind man, and he brought this water to the gate, and told these four men how the king a little before had healed a blind man with the same water, and said to them, if they would wash their eyes with good devotion, they might be healed by God’s grace with the same water. And then they kneeled down with great devotion and prayed this man to wash their eyes therewith. And then he made a cross with the water upon each of their eyes, and besought Almighty God to open their eyes, and they all there received their perfect sight, and returned in giving laud and praising God of their sight given to them by the merits of Saint Edward.
As the king on a time sat at the table with the queen and her father Earl Godwin, and saw how Harold and Tosti, the two sons of Godwin, played tofore the king, but at the last the game turned into earnest, and they began to fight. And Harold took his brother by the hair, and threw him to the earth and fell upon him in great anger, and would have strangled him but if he had been let. Then the king demanded Godwin if he understood anything thereby, and he said: Nay, forsooth. Then the king said: Ye shall see when they come to man’s age that, one of them shall slay that other if he can. And Harold, which is the stronger, shall put that other out of his land. Then shall his brother Tosti come again with the king of Norway, and hold a battle against Harold his brother in England, in the which both the king of Norway and Tosti shall be slain, and all their host save a few that shall escape. And the same Harold shall give himself to penance for the death of his brother and so escape, or else he shall be put out of his kingdom and die wretchedly. The king was many time moved and displeased with Godwin, for he misused the king’s power, and attempted the king in many things that were unlawful. And in all that he might, he laboured to bring out of conceit, the king’s cousins and friends that came to him out of Normandy, to the intent that he might have all the rule about the king as well secretly as outward. And the king, understanding his falseness, said but little. But in a time, as the king sat at his dinner with divers lords and gentles about him, one of his servants was almost overthrown as he smote that one foot with that other, and yet the sadder foot saved all, and kept him on his feet; which thing gave occasion to the king to talk to his lords, and the two feet were likened to two brethren, that if one were overcharged that other should help and succour him. Then said the king: So might my brother have been a help to me, and a supporter in time of need, if he had not been betrayed of Godwin. Then Godwin, hearing these words of the king’s mouth, was sore afeard, and said: Sire, ye deem that I should betray your brother? I pray God that this morsel of bread may choke me if I consented to his death. Then the king blessed the bread, and bade him eat it, and the morsel abode in his throat and choked him, so that his breath was stopped, and so died wretchedly. Then the king said: Draw the traitor out of my presence, for now his treason and falsehood appeareth.
On Easter-day when he had received our Lord, and was set at his dinner, in the middle of it, when all was silence, he fell into a smiling, and after into a sadness, wherefore all that were there marvelled greatly, but none durst ask of him what he meant. But after dinner duke Harold followed him into his chamber with a bishop and an abbot that were of his privy council, and demanded of him the cause of that thing. Then the king said: When I remembered at my dinner the great benefits of worship and dignity of meats, of drinks, of servants, of array, and of all riches and royalty that I stood in at that time, and I referred all that worship to Almighty God, as my custom is, then our Lord opened mine eyes, and I saw the seven sleepers Iying in a cave in the Mount Celion beside the city of Ephesus, in the same form and manner as though I had been by them. And I smiled when I saw them turn them from the right side to the left side, but when I understood what is signified by the said turning, I had no cause to laugh but rather to mourn. The turning signifieth that the prophecy be fulfilled that saith: Surget gens contra gentem, that is to say, people shall arise against people, and a kingdom against another. They have lain many years upon their right side, and they shall lie yet on their left side seventy years, in which times will be great battles, great pestilence, and great murrain, great earthquaves, great hunger and great dearth through all the world. Of which saying of the king they greatly marvelled, and anon they sent to the emperor to know if there were any such city or hill in his land in which such seven men should sleep. Then the emperor, marvelling, sent to the same hill and there found the cave and the seven martyrs sleeping as they had been dead, Iying on the left side every one. And then the emperor was greatly abashed of that sight, and commended greatly the holiness of Saint Edward, the king of England, which had the spirit of prophecy. For after his death began great insurrections through all the world. For the paynims destroyed a great part of Syria, and threw down both monasteries and churches, and what by pestilence and stroke of sword, streets, fields, and towns lay full of dead men. The prince of Greece was slain, the emperor of Rome was slain, the king of England and the king of France were slain, and all the other realms of the world were greatly troubled with divers diseases.
When the blessed King Edward had lived many years, and was fallen into great age, it happed he came riding by a church in Essex called Havering which was at that time in hallowing and should be dedicated in the honour of our Lord and Saint John the Evangelist; wherefore the king for great devotion lighted down and tarried while the church was in hallowing. And in the time of procession, a fair old man came to the king and demanded of him alms in the worship of God and Saint John the Evangelist. Then the king found nothing ready to give, ne his almoner was not present, but he took off the ring from his finger and gave it to the poor man, whom the poor man thanked and departed. And within certain years after, two pilgrims of England went into the holy land to visit holy places there, and as they had lost their way and were gone from their fellowship, and the night approached, and they sorrowed greatly as they that wist not whither to go, and dreaded sore to be perished among wild beasts; at the last they saw a fair company of men arrayed in white clothing, with two lights borne afore them, and behind them there came a fair ancient man with white hair for age. Then these pilgrims thought to follow the light and drew nigh. Then the old man asked them what they were, and of what region, and they answered that they were pilgrims of England, and had lost their fellowship and way also. Then this old man comforted them goodly, and brought them into a fair city where was a fair cenacle honestly arrayed with all manner of dainties, and when they had well refreshed them and rested there all night, on the morn this fair old man went with them, and brought them in the right way again. And he was glad to hear them talk of the welfare and holiness of their king Saint Edward. And when he should depart from them, then he told them what he was, and said: I am John the Evangelist, and say ye unto Edward your king that I greet him right well, by the token that he gave to me this ring with his own hands at the hallowing of my church, which ring ye shall deliver to him again. And say ye to him that he dispose his goods, for within six months he shall be in the joy of heaven with me, where he shall have his reward for his chastity and for his good living. And dread ye not, for ye shall speed right well in your journey, and ye shall come home in short time safe and sound. And when he had delivered to them the ring he departed from them suddenly. And soon after they came home and did their message to the king, and delivered to him the ring, and said that Saint John Evangelist sent it to him.
And as soon as he heard that name he was full of joy, and for gladness let fall tears from his eyes, giving laud and thanksgiving to Almighty God, and to Saint John his avowry that he would vouchsafe to let him have knowledge of his departing out of this world. Also he had another token of Saint John, and that was that the two pilgrims should die tofore him, which thing was proved true, for they lived not long after. And at the feast of Christmas the king was sick, and on the day of the Innocents he heard mass in the new church of Westminster, which he had re-edified, and then he, giving thankings unto Almighty God, returned into his chamber sore sick, there abiding the mercy of our Lord. And all the lords, gentles, and commons were in great heaviness when they understood that the king might not live, remembering what wealth and prosperity the land had been in during his days, and what jeopardy it was like to stand in after his decease. Then all things were committed to the queen whom he loved specially, and she full diligently ministered to him all things necessary. And when he was so feeble by sickness that his natural heat was almost gone, he lay nigh two days in a trance, as a man that had been ravished, and when he came to himself again they that were about him marvelled greatly, for they weened verily that he should no more have spoken. Notwithstanding, after, he spake with a noble spirit these words: O thou merciful Lord God, that art infinite Almighty, in whose power all things be put, which changest realms and empires, if those things be true that thou hast showed to me, so grant me space and strength to declare them to my people, that if peradventure they give them to penance, they may have grace and forgiveness. Then Almighty God gave to him a new strength that passeth all man’s reason, and that might not be without miracle, for before that time he spake so soft that for feebleness he might not well be heard, and at that time he spake with a whole breast, these words following: When I was young and dwelled in Normandy, I loved well the fellowship of good men, for he that spake most religiously and goodly, with him was I most conversant. And among all others there were twain to whom I drew much for their honest conversation, and for the holiness of their life, sweetness of their manners and their comfortable words, whom I saw translated into heaven; for many years gone they died, and now they have appeared to me by the sufferance of God and have showed to me the state of my people, and what sins reign among them, and what vengeance shall be taken on them for their sins. priests have offended, for they minister the holy sacraments with unclean thoughts and polluted hands, and as an hired man and not as a very shepherd, defend not their sheep ne feed them. And as for princes and gentles, they be found false and untrue, and fellows to fiends, thieves, and robbers of the country, which have no dread of God ne honour him. And true law is a burden to them, and had in despite, and cruelness much used. And the prelates keep not righteousness, they correct not their subjects, ne teach ne inform them as they should do. And therefore our Lord hath now drawn out his sword of vengeance to smite his people. This punishment shall begin within this year both by sword and wasting this realm piteously. And then I began to sigh and mourn for the trouble that was coming to my people, and said: If they would be turned and do penance, shall not they have forgiveness and God shall bless them again ? And it was answered to me: The hearts of the people be so indurate and so blinded, and their ears so stopped, that they will not hear of no correction, ne they be not moved ne provoked by no benefits that our Lord giveth them. Then I asked if there were any remedy that might attemper the wrath of our Lord. To whom it was answered in these words: A green tree cut from his stock shall be divided from his proper root the space of three furlongs, and without man’s hand shall turn again to his old root, and take again his sap and flourisheth and bringeth forth fruit, and when this is done there may come remedy. And when this was said they were suddenly gone out of my sight.
There was about the king that time, the queen, duke Harold her brother, Robert, keeper of the palace, and Stigand, which had defiled his father’s bed. For whiles Robert, the archbishop of Canterbury lived, the said Stigand put him down and came in by simony, wherefore he was suspended by the pope. And afterward God took vengeance upon him, so that his belly brake and his bowels fell out, and so he died wretchedly. This Stigand gave no credence to the king’s words, but ascribed it to his age, and to the feebleness of the king, and made it but a fantasy, but others that were better advised, wept and sorrowed and wrung their hands, and sent to our holy father the pope, giving him information of the same vision. And our holy father wrote epistles to England exhorting the people to do penance, but his writing profited not. But when king Harold had broken the oath that he had made to duke William, therefor he was slain in battle, then they knew well that the prophecy af Saint Edward was come. For then the liberty of England made an end, and then came in bondship and thraldom. That time England was all changed, and I understand Saint Dunstan prophesied the same trouble coming, and after a certain time he promised comfort also. Wherefore this foresaid vision may be conveniently expounded as here followeth. The tree signifieth the realm of England, whose greatness and fairness betokeneth riches plenteous, and honour of England, of whom all worship proceedeth which worship hath proceeded of the true blood of the land, and of the true lineage which descended from Alfred, which our holy father the pope crowned and anointed king, as for the first king of the true line of England, unto this holy king Edward, by succession. The tree is cut down from the stock when the realm is divided and translated from one seed or lineage to another. The space of three furlongs is the time of three kings, that is to say Harold, William Conqueror, and William his son. The coming again of the tree to the stock without man’s help was when king Henry the first came into the realm, not by man’s strength but by the very true love of his commons. He took his sap and his very strength when he wedded Maud the daughter of the niece of Saint Edward, joining together the seed of England and of Normandy, and by the tree flourished, whom Maud the empress sprang of their seed, and it brought forth fruit when of her came Henry the second, and thus these two people were joined together. If this exposition displease any man, let him expound it better, or else let him abide a time till it be fulfilled, so that the prophecy of king Edward accord to the prophecy of Saint Dunstan.
This holy king Saint Edward, knowing that his hour drew nigh, spake to them that stood weeping about him and in comforting them said: Forsooth if ye loved me ye would pray that I should pass from this world to the father of heaven, there to receive the joy which is promised to all true christian men. Put ye away your weeping and speed forth my journey with prayers, with holy psalms and with almsdeeds. For though mine enemy the fiend may not overcome me in my faith, yet there is none found so perfect but he will assay and tempt to let or to fear him. And then he commended the queen to her brother in commending her virtues unto his lords, and declared to them their pure chastity. For she was to him in open places as his wife, and in secret places as his sister. And he commanded also that her dowry should be made sure to her, and they that came with him out of Normandy should be put to their choice, whether they should abide still in England and to be endowed with livelihood after their degree, or else to return again into Normandy with a sufficient reward. And he chose his place for his sepulture in the church of Saint Peter, which he had new builded, and said he should not long abide in this world. And when he beheld the queen and saw her weep and sigh among, he said to her ofttimes: My daughter, weep not, for I shall not die, but I shall live, and shall depart from the land of death, and believe to see the goodness of God in the land of life. And then he set his mind all in God, and gave himself wholly to the faith of the church, in the hope and promises of Christ under the sacraments of the church. And among these words of praising, he yielded up his spirit unto God, in the year of our Lord one thousand and sixty-six, when he had reigned in this land twenty-three years and six months and twenty-seven days, the fourth day of January. And as his cousins and his lovers stood about this holy body when the spirit was passed, they saw a marvellous beauty, and a heavenly sight in his face. And when they looked on his naked body, they saw it shine with a marvellous brightness for the clearness of his virginity. And then they wrapped the holy body in palls and buried it with great reverence and worship, and largely alms were given for him. And all the lords, spiritual and temporal, were present at the burying of him, thanking God of the great benefits that he showed in this land during the life of the holy saint and king, Saint Edward. Wherefore laud, glory and honour be given to Almighty God, world without end. Amen.
The eighth day after his burying there came a cripple to his tomb to be holpen of his great disease, which many times afore had received alms of the king’s hand, and he had been washen of the king’s hand on Cene-Thursday. Notwithstanding, the miracle of his curing was prolonged by the provision of God, and not showed in his lifetime, because that many miracles God showed for him, in like wise he would show after his death. This cripple was called Ralph, and was a Norman born, and the sinews of his arms were shrunken together, and his feet were drawn up to his buttocks that he might not go, neither on his feet ne on his knees, but sat on a hollow vessel in manner of a basin, drawing his body after him with his hands. And when he came to the tomb, he besought Almighty God and Saint Edward devoutly that he might be cured and healed of his disease, which in his lifetime had most lived by his alms. And when he had continued awhile in his prayers other people that had compassion of him, prayed for him also, and at the last he lifted himself up, and felt his sinews loosed, and then he arose up and stood on his feet, and felt himself made perfectly whole for to do what he should. We have read of the virtues that Saint Edward had in healing blind men in his living, which our Lord hath not withdrawn from him after his death. It happed that thirty days after his burying, there came to his tomb a man which had but one eye, leading after him six blind men, and each of them held other by the skirt. And all they devoutly prayed to God and to Saint Edward that they might have their sight, and to be delivered of the great misery that they stood in, and much people came thither for to see what should befall of this thing. And when they saw how heartily these blind men prayed, then all the people being moved with pity, kneeled down devoutly, and prayed for them to God, and to this holy saint. And anon as they had ended their prayers all they received perfectly their sight. And then each of them that had been blind looked fast on each other, and thought it a new world with them. And each enquired of other, if they might see, and they said yea. And all kneeled down, thanking God full heartily that, by the merits of Saint Edward he had restored to them their sight perfectly, and also to their leader, which had but one eye at his coming, and had sight of the blind eye also, and so all had their perfect sight. And after, they returned home each into his country, giving laud and thankings to God and to this holy king.
After this Harold Harfager, king of Norway, and Tosti, brother of king Harold of England, came with a great navy and a great host, and arrived in Humber, and there made war, intending to conquer this land. Howbeit, the people began to resist them, but they were not of power to overcome them. And when Harold understood this, he raised a great multitude of people to withstand them. Then Saint Edward on a night appeared to a holy monk, which was abbot of Rumsey, and bade him go and tell to Harold that he should overcome his enemies, the which intended to destroy and consume this realm of England, and say to him that he dread not, for I shall so conduct him and his host, that he shall have victory, for I may not see ne suffer this realm of England to be destroyed. And when thou hast told to him this, he will not believe thee, wherefore thou shalt prove thy vision in this manner. Let him think and set his mind on what thing he will, and thou shalt tell him what he thinketh, for God shall show that to thee, and then he shall give credence to thy words. On the morn the abbot of Rumsey, named Alexis, went to king Harold and told to him this vision, and how he should by the aid of Saint Edward overcome his enemies. And when he heard it first, he supposed it had been a fantasy, and when he showed to him his privy thought, then he gave faith thereto and went to the battle, howbeit that he was then sick in his groin of a pestilence botch, and slew Tosti, his brother, and Harold Harfager, and right few or none escaped alive, from the battle. Wherefore the Englishman thanked God and Saint Edward of their victory.
In the monastery of Westminster there was a fair young man which was blind, whom the monks had ordained to ring the bells, and he had a custom daily to visit the tomb of Saint Edward with certain prayers. And on a time as he prayed there, he fell asleep, and he heard a voice that bade him go and ring to the last hour. And when he awoke he saw Saint Edward going tofore him like a king with a crown on his head, and had marvellous light about him. And he beheld him till he came to the high altar, and then he saw him no more, ne the light, but he had his sight ever after till his life’s end, and then he told unto the monks how he was healed, and had his sight again by this miracle.
Of the Deposition of Saint Wulstan, and how he was restored again.
When William Conqueror had gotten all England, and had it under his power, then he began to meddle with the church, and by the advice of Lanfranc, the holy bishop Saint Wulstan, was challenged that he was not able of letters, ne of conning for to occupy the realm and office of a bishop, and was called tofore Lanfranc, and willed him to resign by the consent of the king to the said Lanfranc, archbishop, that a man of greater conning might occupy the dignity. To whom Wulstan said: Forsooth father, I know well that I am not worthy to have this dignity, ne am not sufficient to occupy so great a charge, for I knew well mine unconning at such time when I was elect thereto, but I was compelled by our holy father the pope, and by good king Edward, and sith it pleaseth the council that I shall resign, I shall gladly resign, but not to you, but to him that compelled me to take it. And he departed incontinent from the archbishop Lanfranc, and went straight to the tomb of Saint Edward with his cross in his hand, and he said to Saint Edward, as he had then been alive: O thou holy and blessed king, thou knowest well that I took this charge on me against my will, but by constraint of the pope and thee I obeyed to take it, and it now so is that we have a new king, new laws, and giveth new sentences, in reproving thee of thine error for so much as thou gavest it to me, simple and unconning man, and me, for the presumption that I would consent to take it. That time thou mightest well have been beguiled, for thou wert a frail man, but now thou art joined to God, whereas thou mayst not be deceived. Thou gavest to me the charge, and to thee I here resign it again. And with that he fixed his staff into the hard stone of his tomb, saying: Take this and give it to whom it pleaseth thee. And the hard stone that lay upon his tomb resolved by miracle, and received his cross or pastoral staff, and held it so fast that it might not be taken out by man’s hand. And anon he did off the habit of a bishop, and did on a cowl, and stood among the monks in such degree as he did tofore ere he was bishop. And when word came, and was reported to them that had consented to his resignation, they marvelled greatly and were all abashed, and some of them went to the tomb and would have pulled out the staff, but they could not move it. And when the archbishop Lanfranc heard thereof he commanded to Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, to go and fetch to him the pastoral staff, but when he came he set hand on it and pulled at it, but the stone held it so fast that he might not move it, wherefore he was sore abashed, and came to Lanfranc, and told to him of this miracle. Then the king and Lanfranc were abashed and came both in their persons to see this thing, and there made their prayers. And after, with great reverence Lanfranc assayed and set hand on the staff for to have pulled it out, but it would not move. Then the king and the archbishop were sore afraid, and repented them, and sent for to seek Wulstan, whom they found among the monks and brought him tofore the king and the archbishop, who anon kneeled down and asked forgiveness. And Wulstan meekly kneeled down and prayed them not so to do to him, and humbly and meekly pardoned them and prayed the archbishop humbly to bless him. Then Lanfranc went to this holy man Wulstan and said: Brother, thy rightful simplicity hath been but little set by among us, but our Lord hath made thy righteousness to shine like as a day-star. But, brother, we have trespassed and erred in judging the good to be evil and the evil good, but our Lord God hath araised the spirit of Saint Edward which hath made void all our sentences, and thy simpleness is allowed tofore God. Wherefore come hither to thy king and ours, Saint Edward, and receive again thy staff which he hath denied to us, for we suppose he will deliver it to you. Then Wulstan the servant of God meekly obeyed with great reverence unto the archbishop, and went unto the tomb whereas the staff stood fast fixed in the stone, and kneeling down saying: O blessed saint of God, I here meekly submit me to thy sentence to whom sometime thou gavest and chargedst me unworthy with this staff. If it so please thee that thine old sentence abide, then restore to me again this pastoral staff, and if it please to thee to change it, so show to us whom thou wilt shall take it. And this said he set his hand humbly and with great reverence on the staff, and anon the hard stone resolved, and let the staff to go out, as it had been soft earth or clay. And when they that stood about him saw this great miracle they wept for joy in giving out largely tears, and asked him forgiveness, giving laud and praising unto Almighty God and to this holy saint king Edward. And ever after, king William had great devotion to visit the tomb of his cousin, Saint Edward, and did great cost toward the making of his shrine.
How his holy body was found incorrupt many years after.
After this miracle was showed, there was much talking of his holiness, and the devotion of the people increased daily more and more, so there were many diverse worshipful persons that desired to see this holy body. For some said that it lay incorrupt, and some said nay; and in this meek strife they gat licence of the abbot Gilbert to see it. And when the day was set that this holy body should be showed, there came thither many worshipful men and women of religion, among whom came Gundulf, bishop of Rochester, and this was six-and-thirty years after his burying that they opened his tomb. And when the stone was removed they felt a marvellous sweet savour, that all the church was replete thereof as though an odour aromatic had flowed out of the tomb. And they found the pall that lay next his body as whole and as fair as it was when he was buried; and when the pall was taken off they drew forth his arms, they moved his fingers and his toes, and they were bowing and whole as they had been newly buried. And in his flesh was found no corruption, but it was fair and fresh of colour, pure, and brighter than glass, whiter than snow, and it seemed a body glorified. And they feared to discover his visage, but Gundulf which was hardier than another, with devotion unbound his head, and the first that appeared was the fair hoar hair of his head, and then he thought to take some thereof for a relic, and with reverence and dread plucked thereat, but he could none have out, for they were as fast as they were when he was alive. Then said the abbot: Father, suffer him to lie in rest, and attempt not to minish that our Lord hath so long preserved and kept whole. Then the pall in which the holy body was wrapt was taken away, and another of the same value was fetched, and the holy body laid therein, and covered again his tomb with full great reverence, abiding the great resurrection.
How vengeance was showed to a damoiselle that blasphemed Saint Edward.
In the city of London there was a noble woman which was right conning in silk work, which was desired to embroider certain garments to the countess of Gloucester, which then was young, Iusty, fresh, and newly wedded, and would have them made in short space. And when the festal day of Saint Edward approached, this noble woman was sore troubled in her mind for she dreaded the indignation of the great lady if her garments were not ready at time set, and also she dreaded to work on the day of Saint Edward, for it was both sinful and perilous. Then she said to a young damoiselle that was fellow with her, and wrought in the same work: What think ye best now, either to displease this lady or else this good Saint Edward? And she answered: Is this not that Edward whom the churls of the country worship as he were a god? And she said yet more: What have I to do with him? I will no more worship him than if he were a churl. Then this noble woman was sore abashed and moved with her, that she said such words of blasphemy to this holy saint, and she all to-beat her for to be in peace, and she of frowardness blasphemed him more and more, and then suddenly was smitten with a palsy, so that her mouth was drawn to her ear, and also she had lost her speech, and foamed at the mouth like a boar, and grinded her teeth together marvellously, and was sore punished in all her members. And when this noble woman saw this, she was full heavy that she had beaten her, because Almighty God had so punished her, and wept full bitterly. And when it was known in the city, her neighbours came, some for to comfort her and some to wonder upon her so Iying. And then there came a worshipful man to visit her, and counselled that she should be carried by water unto the shrine of Saint Edward, and to pray to God there, that by the merits of the holy Saint Edward he would show some miracle for her. And when she was so brought thither, much people prayed for her, but they had not their intent anon, but abode in their prayers till midnight that matins began, and then they prayed the monks to pray for her. And when they had done matins they came to the shrine also and prayed for this damoiselle which lay there in full great pain and torment. And when the holy monks had prayed for her a good while, then this damoiselle arose up all whole, and demanded why they wept and made so much sorrow. And when they saw her mouth in his right place and all her members restored again, they were full of joy, and gave laud and thankings unto Almighty God and to his holy king and confessor Saint Edward.
How a monk was healed of a fever quartan.
In the abbey of Westminster there was a virtuous monk and conning named Gilbert, which was sore vexed with a fever quartan from the month of July to Christmas, and consumed like a dry image, whereof he prayed God to release his pain or take him out of this world. And on Christmas night he took heart to him and went to matins with his brethren. And when he heard the gospel, how a little child was born and given to us from the father of heaven, whose mother was a pure virgin, he had so great devotion that his mind was ravished with so great joy that he felt no disease two days after. After those two days the fever came again, and vexed him continually unto the feast of Saint Edward which is always in the vigil of the Epiphany. And that day in the high mass time he came to the tomb of Saint Edward and fell down plat in great devotion, and weeping, and said thus: O thou, my lord and king, how long wilt thou forget me? How long shall I suffer this pain? How long shalt thou turn thy face from me? Where be all the great miracles that our fathers have told to us, done in their days? Thou hast holpen many strangers, but me that am in thine own church thou forgettest and closest to me the gate of thy pity. Would God that I might die, I am nourished in pain and may not die, my life is sorrow to me, but it can have none end, and I desire death and dare not have it. What shall I strive with thee? But I beseech thee, good king, laudable prince, and sweet patron, move thy bowels of mercy on me, if it please thee give me health, or else let me die anon. And among these words the tears brake out of his eyes, and sobbings from his heart, that he could not speak with his mouth but with his affection. And when mass was done, he arose up from prayer all whole, and felt all his members marvellously refreshed with a new strength and entered in and asked after meat and drink, and anon he felt himself that he had received again his strength. And ever after he was moved with great devotion unto the glorious Saint Edward, by whose merits he was delivered from his sickness and disease.
And in like wise a knight named Gerin was healed that same day, a year after, of the fever quartan, which came that day unto the shrine and heard the same monk that had so been healed, which then was prior, make a sermon in which he told of the miracle, how he was whole. And after the sermon this knight thought he would not cease. but devoutly prayed this holy saint till he were whole, and abode there praying all that day and night following till the monks came to matins, whom he prayed to pray for him. And when they had prayed a good while he felt himself made perfectly whole, and then he with all the people gave thankings to our Lord, Almighty God, and Saint Edward, for his deliverance.
Also a nun of Barking, that had been sick twelve months, and nigh consumed away, had a vision on a night by which she understood that she should go to Saint Edward and be whole; and she making her prayers to Saint Edward. And at such time as her sickness came, she entered into her oratory and said the seven Psalms and Litany, and when she did so twice all her pain was gone, and she was made perfectly whole, and thanked Almighty God, which by the merits of Saint Edward had healed her, and soon after came to Westminster in pilgrimage, and there did show this miracle, and told how she was made whole.
Also there was a monk of Westminster which was accustomed to say every day five Psalms in the worship of God and Saint Edward, which monk was grieved with three manner sicknesses. For he had on his arm a congelation of blood in manner of a posthume, he had also in his breast a straitness that unnethe he might draw his breath, also he had in his foot a marvellous swelling and a great, that he might not go but with great pain. And when the yearly feast was hallowed, he saw his brethren go to the church at midnight for to ring the bells, and he was right sorry that he might not do the same. Notwithstanding he pained himself and went thither, and said the seven psalms. And when he had done, and saw his brethren ring merrily, he said in his prayer to
Saint Edward: O thou my good king, I beseech thee to pray for me that I may have strength to do as I see my brethren do, for I commit me fully to thy might, and I believe verily that thou wilt suffer me no longer in this great disease. And when he had made an end of his prayers he arose up, and went to the bells for to ring them, and anon the posthume of his arm brake, and when the foul matter was out, he felt himself whole of that disease. Then his most pain was in his breast, and he went again to pray and to give thankings to God and to Saint Edward of the deliverance of his posthume. And there he prayed full devoutly that he might be delivered of the disease of his breast, and when he arose from prayer he felt his heart all whole from the sickness that he had in his breast. Then he felt no disease but on his foot, and when he came among his brethren in the fraitour, he told them how he was delivered from twain of his sicknesses, and when they saw him they marvelled greatly, and besought Almighty God and Saint Edward that he might be delivered of that disease in his foot. And at night, when he went to his bed, he put himself wholly in the merits of Saint Edward, and when he arose he felt no pain, but put down his hand to his foot to feel how it was, and he felt that the swelling was gone. He leapt out of his bed and told to his brethren, with full great joy, how he was made perfectly whole as ever he was. Then they were all full glad, and went with him to the church to give thankings and praisings to Almighty God, and to his holy confessor Saint Edward for these miracles, and for his deliverance from the three sicknesses, wherefore God be praised in his servant without end. Amen.