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times obtained the highest preferment. On this point we still possess an important source of information, which has, besides, the advantage of being for the most part contemporary with the events and circumstances which it elucidates. This consists of a considerable quantity of letters and diplomas issued by kings, bishops, and other leading men in England, from about the year 600 to 1066. These documents, which have lately been collected and published by a gentleman celebrated for historical research, Mr. J. M. Kemble, (under the title of “ Codex Diplomaticus Ævi Saxonici,” vol. i.--vi., London, 1839-1848, 8vo,) more especially regard the southern and midland parts of England, as unfortunately the greater part of the letters relating to the north of England are lost. Nevertheless, those that remain, taken in conjunction with the chronicles, afford valuable information, both respecting the Danish clergy in the south-east of England, and their diffusion throughout that country.
In the centre of the east coast of England, in Lincolnshire, and near the Wash, stood in the Anglo-Saxon times the large and famous convent of Croyland, or Crowland, dedicated to St. Guthlac. It was built upon an island, and so protected on the land side by the vast morasses which in those times covered the districts nearest the Wash, that it was a sort of natural fortress. According to the chronicles of the convent, compiled by one of the abbots in the eleventh century, it was governed, shortly after the year 800, by an abbot of the name of Sivard; in whose time there is also mentioned in the convent a priest (presbyter) named “ Turstan,” and a monk “Eskil" (Askillus monachus). In the same ancient chronicle are also recorded several deeds of gift, which possibly, with regard to the rights conveyed to the convent, may have been forgeries of the times, but which, at all events, so far as regards the names of persons and places mentioned in them, must be perfectly correct and trustworthy ; since incorrectness in these particulars would have easily led to the discovery of the intended frauds. These deeds mention, between the years 800 and 868, amongst the benefactors of the convent, three viscounts in Lincolnshire, “ Thorold" (or Thurold), “ Norman,” and “ Sivard ;” and also “ Grymketil” and “ Asketellus” (or Asketil), who was cook to the Mercian king Viglaf. Lastly there appear (particularly in the year 833) the following names of places :- Langtoft, Asuuiktoft, Gernthorp, Holbeck, Pyncebek, Laithorp, Badby, and Kyrkeby.
The names of persons in the convent, and of places about it, here cited are all, perhaps, or at most with a single exception, of undoubted Danish or Scandinavian origin. They not only prove that, even long before the treaty between Alfred the Great and the Viking King Gudrum or Gorm, which in the year 879 secured to the Danes their conquests on the south-east coast of England, and therefore, more than one hundred and fifty years before Canute the Great's time, the Danes really had such a footing round the Wash that they could give their villages Danish names, and were governed by their own chiefs; but they likewise indicate the remarkable fact, that at least a great number of these Danes must have been already Christians, since they had villages with churches (Kyrkeby) and gave landed property to a convent, in which we find both Danish monks (Eskil and Thurstan), and a Danish abbot (Sivard.) It was about the same time that the Jutland king, Harald Klag, was baptized, together with his whole suite, during a sojourn with the Emperor Ludvig, at Ingelheim, near Mayence, in the year 826. This christening of Danish men abroad, in Germany and England, was the beginning of the subsequent introduction of Christianity into the Scandinavian North.
The genuineness of the above-mentioned Scandinavian names is placed beyond all doubt by the circumstance that similar names appear in other documents connected with the history of Croyland at the same period, or the ninth century. In the year 867, swarms of Danish-Norwegian Vikings landed on the east coast of England, and the Christians who then lived there, whether Danes or Anglo-Saxons, as well as their churches and convents, suffered from the ferocity of these heathens. After a great battle in Lincolnshire, in which, however, the heathens lost three of their kings, whom they buried in a place afterwards called “ Trekyngham" (the three kings' home), they marched against Croyland. In vain did the Christians seek to arrest their progress. In a battle near the convent many of the Christians fell, and amongst them “ Toli” or “Tule,” who had previously been a knight, but who had now entered the cloisters of Croyland. The Vikings stormed the convent, and committed a terrible massacre. Their king, “Oskytyl,” cut down the abbot before the altar; after which the convent was plundered and destroyed.
The Danish Viking Jarl Sidroc, or Sigtryg, saved a boy called Turgar (Thorgeir) from this massacre, who afterwards escaped to the neighbouring convent of Ely, and gave an account, which is still preserved, of this terrible devastation. Meanwhile, however, the convent of Ely, as well as that of Medehamstede (Peterborough), was plundered and destroyed by the Vikings.
Amongst the monks then killed in Croyland, we may cite from the chronicle, the prior, Asker, and the friars Grimketulus (Grimketil) and Agamundus (Amund); and among the few saved, Sveinus or Svend :-names which, not less than Tule and Thorgeir, indicate a Danish ori. gin. Men of Danish extraction continued in the following centuries to play a considerable part in the history of this and of the neighbouring convents. A Dane named “ Thurstan” is said to have rebuilt that of Ely; and another man of Danish family, “Turketul ” (Thorketil), certainly rebuilt Croyland. Thorketil, who it is stated) was nearly related to the royal Saxon family, had previously distinguished himself both as a warrior and statesman. In the battle of Brunanborg he commanded the citizens of London who were in Athelstane's army, and during a long series of years was chancellor to several kings. Sabsequently, however, he took the vows of the convent, and governed Croyland with honour, as abbot, till his death in the year 975.
It is, indeed, very striking to observe how many abbots of Danish origin governed the convent of Croyland from the ninth to the twelfth century. Sivard and Thorketil have been already mentioned. Thorketil was succeeded by two of his relations, both named Egelrik; and after the death of the last of these in 992, followed an abbot with the pure Danish or Scandinavian name of “Oscytel.” This Asketil had long been prior of Croyland before he became its abbot, which he continued to be till his death in the year 1005. To what extent Asketil's immediate successors were Danes is at least very uncertain, as they have AngloSaxon names. During the invasions of the Danish kings, however, the convent was at times suspected of being in league with the Danes. Canute the Great is said to have presented a chalice, and his son Hardicanute his coronation mantle, to Croyland. Other Danes also made similar gifts to that convent. In the year 1053 it again had an abbot with the Danish name of Ulf ketil (Wulketulus); and, what is very significant, after the Norman conquest, the swampy districts round it became places of refuge for the Danes and Anglo-Saxons who had in vain fought the last battle for freedom against the victorious and advancing Norman conquerors. One of the chief leaders in this battle was the Jarl Valthiof, a son of the far-famed Danish Jarl, Sivard Digre (Eng. Sivard the Stout) of Northumberland. Valthiof, it is expressly stated, was one of Croyland's best benefactors and protectors. Subsequently he made his peace with William,, but was at last executed by that monarch's directions, and immediately buried at Winchester. Nevertheless the abbot Ulfketil, together with his monks, obtained permission to convey Valthiof's body to Croyland, where many miracles
were soon performed at the shrine of the innocent and murdered martyr of freedom. Exasperated probably by this, as well as by the refuge which their opponents found in and about Croyland, the Normans inflicted many calamities on it, and at length deposed the abbot Ulf ketil. He was succeeded by an Englishman with the Scandinavian name of “ Ingulf,” to whom we are indebted for having indited the ancient chronicles of the convent.
The close connection of Croyland with the Danes, as well as its Danish monks and abbots, was a natural consequence of the convent's being situated in Lincolnshire, a part of England which was pretty nearly the earliest and most numerously occupied by them. Satisfactory reasons certainly exist even to justify us in calling this convent peculiarly a Danish one. In consequence of its size and importance, it is highly probable that it was one of the principal places whence the Danish settlers in England derived their civilization. In this manner Croyland answers in England to the convent of Bec in Normandy (from the Danish Bæk, a small rivulet), founded by the Northmen, and afterwards very celebrated; which also seems to bave been one of the most important nurseries for the diffusion of a higher Christian and intellectual cultivation among the Scandinavian colonists in Normandy.
The very remarkable evidence which the history of Croyland affords of the Christianity of the Danes in England so early as the ninth century, is, however, by no means solitary. Before the treaty concluded between Gorm (Gudrum) and Alfred in the year 879, the former had already been converted, and received at his baptism the name of Athelstane. In a somewhat later treaty concluded by the same King Gorm with Alfred's successor Edward, it is assumed that there must long have been Christians among the Danes settled in East Anglia, and that they had at all events allowed the ecclesiastical institutions to exist unmolested among them. In the year