1 December 2009

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle: Silent for all of 1064?

During a period of thriving political and military activity in England and on the continent, the ASC strangely entered virtually nothing in it's annals for the year 1064, for some reason.

The only event- seemingly unrelated to the other major events of the era- including Harold's "oath" this year, is the murder of Northumbrian noble Gospatric at King Edward's court (at Tostig/Edith's request?) with the laconic line;

"...Shortly after Christmas in 1064 Gospatric was killed at the king's [Edward's] court."

Why is this the only entry for the year that annalists found nothing to record during this beehive of activity?
Major events dominated political, military and ecclesiastical life in relation to England, so it seems strange to me that during this very well documented era, there is 100% silence for a whole year?

Were the English annalists deliberately omitting something? Have the many records been "edited" by someone over the centuries? There had been major events occurring before and especially after this year.

Momentous events surrounding 1064 were:-

1061- Tostig led an embassy to Rome(which was attacked by robbers) in which Ealdred received his pallium from Pope Nicholas II, and so was appointed Archbishop of York.

King Malcolm of Scotland led a huge sweeping raid through Cumbria in Tostig's absence from Northumbria.

1062- Papal legates escorted Tostig's party back to England, and found nothing 'corrupt' about the English church- even about Stigand- whom they sat in synod without demur.

Duke William invades Maine and in the following year he becomes THE dominant power in northern France.

Earl Aelfgar of Mercia dies, being succeeded by his young son- earl Edwin

King edward commanded earl Harold to invade Wales and attack Welsh King Gruffydd ap Llewelyn, who had menaced the marches for years in "treacherous" alliance with earl Aelfgar. The Welsh king avoids pitched battle, plus the terrible weather, force Harold to return home.

1063- King swein of Denmark and King Harald 'Hardraada' of Norway agreed a truce in their 20yrs of warring, leaving each free to look outwards to England and the continent.

Earls Harold and Tostig launch a huge, decisive, two-prong attack on Wales and after a brutal campaign, Gruffydd's own men are forced to kill their own leader if Wales isn't to be destroyed totally. Harold takes Gruffydd's head back to Edward as proof of a subdued Wales.

1064- Silent ASC concerning Harold's voyage to France/Normandy and his coerced 'oath' which even the Normans themselves record as being procured by "deceit".

1065- A huge Northumbrian revolt against Tostig's rule as earl(in his absence) ousts him, alledgedly with Harold's collusion who negotiates on behalf of his king, and a distraught King Edward is eventually forced to outlaw his favourite.

To the best of my knowledge, I don't think the oath is referred to in the ASC after 1066, maybe either because it didn't happen, maybe because the annals (in various abbeys, etc) have been edited or perhaps because the writers simply considered it 'old news' in an uncertain, dangerous and rebellious post-1066 England under the watchful Norman yoke?

During the times of Alfred the Great, the ASC left some years vacant, but surely that was at a time when there was LESS, direct, continental involvement?