In 1009 Bishop Lyfing was appointed Abbot of Tavistock.
John of Worcester. 1031. Canute (age 36), king of England, Denmark, and Norway, went in great state from Denmark to Rome58, and, having made rich offerings in gold, silver, and other precious objects, to St. Peter, prince of the apostles, he obtained from pope John that the English School should be free from all tribute and taxes. On his journey to Rome and back, he distributed large alms among the poor, and procured at great cost the abolition of the tolls levied at many barriers on the roads, where they were extorted from pilgrims. He also vowed to God, before the tomb of the apostles, that he would amend his life and conduct; and he sent thence a memorable letter by the hands of Living, the companion of his journey, (a man of great prudence, at that time abbot of Tavistock, and afterwards, in the course of the same year, Ednoth's successor in the see of Crediton), and others his envoys to England, while he himself came back from Rome by the same road he went there, visiting Denmark before his return to England. I think it right to subjoin the text of this letter.
"Canute (age 36), king of all England, and of Denmark, Norway, and part of Sweden, to Ethelnoth, metropolitan, and Alfric, archbishop of York, and to all the bishops and prelates, and to the whole nation of the English, both the nobles and the commons, greeting:
"I notify to you that I have lately taken a journey to Rome, to pray for the forgiveness of my sins, and for the welfare of my dominions, and the people under my rule. I had long since vowed this journey to God, but I have been hitherto prevented from accomplishing it by the affairs of my kingdom and other causes of impediment. I now return most humble thanks to my God Almighty for suffering me in my lifetime to visit the sanctuary of his apostles, SS. Peter and Paul, and all others which I could find either within or without the city of Rome, and there in person reverentially worship according to my desire. I have performed this chiefly, because I have learnt from wise men that St. Peter the apostle has received from God great power in binding and in loosing, and carries the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and therefore I esteemed it very profitable to seek his special patronage with the Lord.
"Be it known to you that, at the celebration of Easter, a great assembly of nobles was present with our lord, the pope John, and Conrad the emperor; that is to say, all the princes of the nations from Mount Garganus to the neighbouring sea. All these received me with honour and presented me with magnificent gifts; but more especially was I honoured by the emperor with various gifts and valuable presents, both in gold and silver vessels, and in palls and very costly robes. 1 spoke with the emperor himself, and the lord pope, and the princes who were there, in regard to the wants of my people, English as well as Danes; that there should be granted to them more equal justice and greater security in their journeys to Rome, and that they should not be hindered by so many barriers on the road, nor harassed by unjust tolls.
The emperor assented to my demands, as well as king Rodolph (age 60)59, in whose dominions these barriers chiefly stand; and all the princes made edicts that my people, the merchants as well as those who go to pay their devotions, shall pass to and fro in their journeys to Rome in peace, and under the security of just laws, free from all molestation by the guards of barriers or the receivers of tolls. I made further complaint to my lord the pope, and expressed my high displeasure, that my archbishops are sorely aggrieved by the demand of immense sums of money, when, according to custom, they resort to the apostolical see to obtain the pallium; and it is decreed that it should no longer be done. All things, therefore, which I requested for the good of my people from my lord the pope, and the emperor, and king Rodolph, and the other princes through whose territories our road to Rome lies, they have most freely granted, and even ratified their concessions by oath; to which four archbishops, twenty bishops, and an innumerable multitude of dukes and nobles who were there present, are witnesses. Wherefore I return most hearty thanks to Almighty God for my having successfully accomplished all that I had desired, as I had resolved in my mind, and having satisfied my wishes to the fullest extent.
"Be it known therefore to all of you, that I have humbly vowed to the Almighty God himself henceforward to amend my life in all respects, and to rule the kingdoms and the people subject to me with justice and clemency, giving equitable judgements in all matters; and if, through the intemperance of youth or negligence, I have hitherto exceeded the bounds of justice in any of my acts, I intend by God's aid to make an entire change for the better. I therefore adjure and command my counsellors to whom I have entrusted the affairs of my kingdom, that henceforth they neither commit themselves, nor suffer to prevail, any sort of injustice throughout my dominions, either from fear of me, or from favour to any powerful person. I also command all sheriffs and magistrates throughout my whole kingdom, as they tender my regard and their own safety, that they use no unjust violence to any man, rich or poor, but that all, high and low, rich or poor, shall enjoy alike impartial law; from which they are never to deviate, either on account of royal favour, respect of person in the great, or for the sake of amassing money wrongfully, for I have no need to accumulate wealth by iniquitous exactions.
"I wish you further to know, that, returning by the way I went, I am now going to Denmark to conclude a treaty for a solid peace, all the Danes concurring, with those nations and peoples who would have taken my life and crown if it had been possible; but this they were not able to accomplish, God bringing their strength to nought.—May He, of his merciful kindness, uphold me in my sovereignty and honour, and henceforth scatter and bring to nought the power and might of all my adversaries ! When, therefore, I shall have made peace within the surrounding nations, and settled and reduced to order all my dominions in the East, so that we shall have nothing to fear from war or hostilities in any quarter, I propose to return to England as early in the summer as I shall be able to fit out my fleet. I have sent this epistle before me in order, that my people may be gladdened at my success; because, as you yourselves know, I have never spared, nor will I spare, myself or my exertions, for the needful service of my whole people. I now therefore command and adjure all my bishops and the governors of my kingdom, by the duty they owe to God and myself, to take care that before I come to England all dues belonging to God, according to the old laws, be fully discharged; namely, plough-alms, the tithe of, animals born in the current year, and the pence payable to St. Peter at Rome, whether from towns or vills; and in the middle of August the tithes of corn; and at the feast of St. Martin the first-fruits of grain (payable) to every one's parish church, called in English ciric-sceat. If these and such-like dues be not paid before I come, those who make default will incur fines to the king, according to the law, which will be strictly enforced without mercy. Farewell."
Note 58. The Saxon Chronicle and Henry of Huntingdon agree with John as to the date of Canute's journey to Rome; but it was probably five or six years earlier. Wippo, a contemporary writer, places it in 1027.
In 1038 Bishop Lyfing was appointed Bishop of Worcester.
John of Worcester. 1038. Æthelnoth, archbishop of Canterbury, departed this life on the fourth of the calends of November [29th September]. Seven days after, Ethelric, bishop of Sussex, died; for he had prayed to God that he might not long survive his beloved father Ethelnoth. Grimkytel succeeded him in the bishopric, and Eadsige, one of the king's chaplains, succeeded Ethelnoth in the archbishopric. In the same year died Ælfric, bishop of East-Anglia, and Brihteag, bishop of the Hwiccas [Worcester], ended his days on Wednesday the third of the calends of January [20th December], whose see king Harold (age 22) gave to Living, bishop of Crediton. Stigand, the king's chaplain, was appointed in Ælfric's place, but was afterwards ejected, and Grimkytel chosen in his stead; so that he held for the tune the two dioceses of Sussex and Essex; but Stigand was restored, and Grimkytel ejected, and Stigand kept the bishopric of Sussex for himself, and procured that of East-Anglia for his brother Ethelmar; but not satisfied with this, he was raised to the thrones of Winchester and Canterbury: he also strove hard to hold with them the bishopric of Sussex, and nearly carried his point. Ethelmar; was succeeded by Ærfast, bishop of Elmham, who, lest he should have seemed to have done nothing—for the Normans are very ambitious of future renown—transferred the see from Elmham to Thetford.
John of Worcester. 1040. Harold (age 24), king of England, died at London, and was buried at Westminster. After his funeral, the nobles of almost the whole of England sent envoys to Hardicanute (age 22) at Bruges, where he was staying with his mother (age 55), and, thinking it was for the best, invited him to come to England and ascend the throne. Thereupon, he fitted out fifty ships, and embarking Danish troops, before midsummer sailed over to England, where he was received with universal joy, and shortly afterwards crowned; but during his government he did nothing worthy his royal power. For as soon as he began to reign, calling to mind the injuries which both he and his mother had suffered at the hands of his predecessor, and reputed brother, king Harold (age 24), he despatched to London, Ælfric, archbishop of York, and earl Godwin (age 39), with Stor, the master of his household, Edric, his steward, Thrond, captain of his guards, and other men of high rank, with orders to dig up the body of Harold (age 24) and throw it into a sewer; and when it was thrown there, he caused it to be dragged out and cast into the river Thames. Shortly afterwards, it was picked up by a fisherman, and being immediately brought to the Danes, was honourably buried by them in a cemetery they possessed at London.60 After this, he ordered that eight marks should be paid to every rower in his fleet, and twelve to each steersman, to be levied from the whole of England; a tax so burthensome, that scarcely any one would pay it, and he became thoroughly detested by those who at first were most anxious for his coming. Besides, he was greatly incensed against earl Godwin (age 39), and Living, bishop of Worcester, for the death of his brother Alfred, of which they were accused by Ælfric, archbishop of York, and some others. In consequence, he took the bishopric of Worcester from Living and gave it to Ælfric; but the following year, he ejected Ælfric and graciously restored Living, who had made his peace with him.
Note 60. The cemetery of St Clement-Danes, where the Northmen had a settlement on the bank of the Thames, outside the walls of London. The Saxon Chronicle is silent as to Harold's corpse being thrown into the Thames and fished up, but Henry of Huntingdon gives the same account as our author.
In 1041 Bishop Lyfing was restored to the see of Worcester.
John of Worcester. 1042. Hardicanute (age 24), king of England, while he was present at a joyous feast given at a place called Lambeth, Surrey [Map], by Osgod Clapa, a man of great wealth, on occasion of his giving the hand of his daughter Githa in marriage to Tovi, surnamed Prudan, a noble and powerful Dane,—and carousing, full of health and merriment, with the bride and some others, fell down, by a sad mischance, while in the act of drinking, and continued speechless until Tuesday the sixth of the ides [the 8th] of June, when he expired. He was carried to Winchester and buried near his father Canute. His brother Edward (age 39) was proclaimed king at London, chiefly by the exertions of earl Godwin (age 41), and Living, bishop of Worcester. Edward (age 39) was the son of Ethelred, who was the son of Edgar, who was the son of Edmund, who was the son of Edward the Elder, who was the son of Alfred.
John of Worcester. 1046. Living, bishop of the Hwiccas, Devonshire, and Cornwall, died on Sunday, the tenth of the calends of April [the 23rd March]. Soon after his death, the bishoprics of Crediton and Cornwall were given to Leofric the Briton, who was the king's chancellor; and Aldred, who had been a monk of Winchester and was then abbot of Tavistock, was made bishop of the Hwiccas. Osgod Clapa was banished from England. Magnus (age 22), king of Norway, son of St. Olaf the king, defeated Sweyn (age 27), king of the Danes, and reduced Denmark under his own dominion.
On 20 or 23 or 25 Mar 1046 Bishop Lyfing died.