Discussion:
Thesis on native rulers of Northumbria between the conquests
(too old to reply)
taf
2016-06-27 02:53:49 UTC
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A few weeks ago I mentioned here an article presenting a curious pedigree of the Earls of Northumbria, by Neil McGuigan. I have since found his 2015 St. Andrews thesis, which covers the 'kings' and earls of Northumbria between the Viking deluge and the post-Norman-Conquest pacification.

In addition to Northumbria itself, he addresses some peripheral aspects, notably including an appendix on Maldred MacCrinan, father of earl Gospatric. Among other things, he addressed the lack of an explicit statement that his father Crinan is the same as the Crinan, father of king Duncan. He makes the observation that Crinan is not that common of a name, and that it would be a big coincidence of one Crinan was well enough placed to marry the daughter of the king of Scotland, while a completely different Crinan was well enough placed to marry his son to the granddaughter of the king of England.

At any rate, if anyone is interested here is a link to the pdf:

https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10023/7829/NeilMcGuiganPhDThesis.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y
Hovite
2016-06-29 20:22:33 UTC
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As is often the case with ponderous historical works, the best bits are the footnotes. On page 17, footnote 41, there is a brief mention of a life of Elfred attributed to Asser. McTurk seems to accept the work is genuine. However, it seems to me that Galbraith and Smyth were correct when they claimed that it is a later forgery, consisting of material recycled from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, padded out with junk. As I have suggested previously, I suspect that Ealhmund, Ecgberht, Ethelwulf, and Elfred belonged to the Kentish line that included two previous Kings Ecgberht. The Ecgberht who took Wessex in 802 had fled from Kent to France thirteen years previously, after Kent was conquered by a combined force led by Osfrith of Mercia and his son-in-law and ally Berthric of Wessex. One would have expected Asser to have known this, but instead the biography merely repeats the obviously false genealogy from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which traces the ancestry of Elfred back to Adam. The biography does not explain how Ecgberht acquired Wessex. Indeed, it does not mention Ecgberht at all. However, the author did find space for a curious story about the death of Berthric:

“There was in Mercia, in recent times, a certain valiant king, who was feared by all the kings and neighbouring states around. His name was Offa, and it was he who had the great rampart made from sea to sea between Britain and Mercia. His daughter, named Eadburh, was married to Berthric, King of the West Saxons; who immediately, having the king's affections, and the control of almost all the kingdom, began to live tyrannically like her father, and to execrate every man whom Berthric loved, and to do all things hateful to god and man, and to accuse all she could before the king, and so to deprive them insidiously of their life or power; and if she could not obtain the king's consent, she used to take them off by poison: as is ascertained to have been the case with a certain young man beloved by the king, whom she poisoned, finding that the king would not listen to any accusation against him. It is said, moreover, that king Berthric unwittingly tasted of the poison, though the queen intended to give it to the young man only, and so both of them perished.”

That story reads like a fairy tale. It is clearly not derived from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which has just this:

“This year was the moon eclipsed, at eight in the evening, on the seventeenth day before the calends of February; and soon after died King Berhtric and ealdorman Wor. Ecgberht succeeded to the West Saxon kingdom; and the same day Ethelmund, ealdorman of Hwicce, rode over the Thames at Kempsford; where he was met by ealdorman Wiohstan, with the men of Wiltshire, and a terrible conflict ensued, in which both the ealdormen were slain, but the men of Wiltshire obtained the victory.”

Not much is known about Berhtric, but his name does not suggest that he was related to the previous or subsequent kings. His accession, like that of Ecgberht, was drenched in blood:

“Cyneheard slew King Cynewulf, and was slain himself, and eighty-four men with him. Then Berhtric undertook the government of the West-Saxons, and reigned sixteen years.”

Some information might be obtained from his charters, as witness lists often include members of the royal family, such as sons or brothers. However, no royal children are mentioned in the three surviving charters of Berhtric.

S267, dated 794, which is a grant by Berhtric to ealdorman Wigfrith, has an abbreviated witness list that provides no information.

S268 (K180, B282), which is an undated grant by Berhtric to ealdorman Lulla, was witnessed by Queen Eadburh, followed by several ealdormen: Wor, Wiohstan, Wigfrith, Wiohtbrord, Æse, Ealhmund, and finally Lulla himself. The first two witnesses are the two West Saxon ealdormen who died in 802

S269 (K158, B258) is an undated grant by Berhtric to ealdorman Hemele, and was witnessed by ealdormen Hemele, Wor, Beornfrith, Wingfrith, Lunling, Wingfrith, and Wingbeald. Lunling, here described as Lunlinges subreguli, was most likely the same person as Lulla. One (or both) of the ealdoremen Wingfrith is probably Wigfrith.

S270 (K234, B411), is a Kentish charter of Ecgbert, in which he is styled Ecgberhtus rex Cantie necnon et aliarum gentium. It survives as a corrupt copy, with the date given 773, probably an error for 833. That is to say, the original date was DCCCXXXIII, miscopied as DCCLXXIII. It will be recalled that in 823 Ecgbert sent his son Ethelwulf to recover Kent.

S270a (K178), dated 801, is a most fascinating document. It is a grant to a thegn named Eadgils. The name of donor is given as Edbirtus rex. It cannot be an error for Ecgberht, as he did not acquire Wessex until 802. The somewhat muddled witness list includes Wigfrith, Lulla, and Wiohtbrord, who also witnessed S268, together with Queen Eadburh. It has therefore been suggested that the donor was Queen Eadburh, although this would require Edburga regina to have been miscopied as Edbirtus rex (perhaps not so difficult it the original text contained contractions or abbreviations). Also, it was unusual (but not impossible) for Anglo-Saxon queens to issue charters in their own name. One explanation could be that Berhtric was already dead, and was succeeded by his widow (like Cenwealh and Seaxburh in 672). So maybe Asser was right after all; perhaps Eadburh did poison Berhtric, who then enjoyed a brief reign before fleeing to France, where she would have been able to advise Ecgberht that Berhtric was dead.

Although the biography of Elfred fails to mention who succeed Berhtric, it does recount the fate of his widow:

“Berhtric therefore, being dead, the queen could remain no longer among the West Saxons, but sailed beyond the sea with immense treasures, and went to the court of the great and famous Charles, King of the Franks. As she stood before the throne, and offered him money, Charles said to her: Choose, Eadburh, between me and my son, who stands here with me. She replied, foolishly, and without deliberation: If I am to have my choice, I choose your son, because he is younger than you. At which Charles smiled and answered: If you had chosen me, you would have had my son; but as you have chosen him, you shall not have either of us.

However, he gave her a large convent of nuns, in which, having laid aside the secular habit and taken the religious dress, she discharged the office of abbess during a few years; for, as she is said to have lived irrationally in her own country, so she appears to have acted still more so in that foreign country; for being convicted of having had unlawful intercourse with a man of her own nation, she was expelled from the monastery by order of King Charles, and lived a vicious life of reproach in poverty and misery until her death; so that at last, accompanied by one slave only, as we have heard from many who saw her, she begged her bread daily at Pavia, and so miserably died.”
taf
2016-06-29 21:37:46 UTC
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On Wednesday, June 29, 2016 at 1:23:53 PM UTC-7, Hovite wrote:
> As is often the case with ponderous historical works, the best bits are
> the footnotes. On page 17, footnote 41, there is a brief mention of a life
> of Elfred attributed to Asser. McTurk seems to accept the work is genuine.

Sorry, do you mean McGuigan (I ask just for clarification, as there is also a McTurk active in the field)?

> However, it seems to me that Galbraith and Smyth were correct when they
> claimed that it is a later forgery, consisting of material recycled from
> the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, padded out with junk.

This is still subject to debate, and at least my reading of contemporary scholars favors its authenticity, in some form. I have not read Galbraith, but Smyth never impressed me. I just can't take seriously is defense of Ragnar Lothbrok as a historical entity. It should also be pointed out that we do not have the original manuscript for Asser any longer, and Sisam has already made a strong argument that the version of the Wessex pedigree in the modern editions of Asser have incorporated material from ASC not found in the original.

I might add that the two explanations are not mutually exclusive - it need not be a forgery. It could have been written by Asser during Alfred's lifetime, yet still consist of details from the ASC (or the ASC precursors) padded out with junk.

> As I have suggested previously, I suspect that Ealhmund, Ecgberht,
> Ethelwulf, and Elfred belonged to the Kentish line that included two
> previous Kings Ecgberht.

There is definitely a scholarly undercurrent that takes this view, but most are not willing to go this far, and still accept the descent from Ine's family (some proposing a maternal Kentish connection).

taf
Hovite
2016-08-16 18:15:04 UTC
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Yes, I meant McGuigan. Sorry about that1
Hovite
2016-08-16 18:23:46 UTC
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I would have to agree that Smyth was probably mistaken about Ragnar Lothbrok. My own conclusion is that nothing certain is known about him, except that he had an improbably large number of sons. It seems best to regard him as mythical, and all the descents from him as false.

However, Smyth was not the first person to denounce the Life of Elfred as a forgery. The hoax was first exposed by Thomas Wright, in his Biographia Britannica Literaria (1842), volume 1, pages 405 to 413.

https://ia601405.us.archive.org/BookReader/BookReaderImages.php?zip=/1/items/biographiabrita05britgoog/biographiabrita05britgoog_jp2.zip&file=biographiabrita05britgoog_jp2/biographiabrita05britgoog_0427.jp2&scale=8&rotate=0
taf
2016-08-22 15:59:11 UTC
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On Tuesday, August 16, 2016 at 11:23:47 AM UTC-7, Hovite wrote:
> I would have to agree that Smyth was probably mistaken about Ragnar
> Lothbrok. My own conclusion is that nothing certain is known about him,
> except that he had an improbably large number of sons. It seems best to
> regard him as mythical, and all the descents from him as false.

I would not even go so far as to admit his large number of children as a 'known' thing. I think he is a legendary invention built upon a composite of at least three individuals, and that his 'sons' represent, in some cases, sons of these composite contributors and in some cases were just notable contemporary vikings that accrued to the growing legend under the basis that every notable viking must have belonged to the same family.


> However, Smyth was not the first person to denounce the Life of Elfred as
> a forgery. The hoax was first exposed by Thomas Wright, in his Biographia
> Britannica Literaria (1842), volume 1, pages 405 to 413.

More correctly, Wright first proposed it was a hoax. To say he 'exposed' it begs the question. Asser's editor, William Henry Stevenson, detailed flaws in Wright's view, with which he disagreed.

taf
Hans Vogels
2016-06-30 19:34:45 UTC
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Do I presume correctly that Neil McGuinan suggests an Irish descent for Crínán, (lay-)abbot of Dunkeld?

Hans Vogels


Op maandag 27 juni 2016 04:53:50 UTC+2 schreef taf:
> A few weeks ago I mentioned here an article presenting a curious pedigree of the Earls of Northumbria, by Neil McGuigan. I have since found his 2015 St. Andrews thesis, which covers the 'kings' and earls of Northumbria between the Viking deluge and the post-Norman-Conquest pacification.
>
> In addition to Northumbria itself, he addresses some peripheral aspects, notably including an appendix on Maldred MacCrinan, father of earl Gospatric. Among other things, he addressed the lack of an explicit statement that his father Crinan is the same as the Crinan, father of king Duncan. He makes the observation that Crinan is not that common of a name, and that it would be a big coincidence of one Crinan was well enough placed to marry the daughter of the king of Scotland, while a completely different Crinan was well enough placed to marry his son to the granddaughter of the king of England.
>
> At any rate, if anyone is interested here is a link to the pdf:
>
> https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10023/7829/NeilMcGuiganPhDThesis.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y
taf
2016-07-01 01:44:43 UTC
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On Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 12:34:47 PM UTC-7, Hans Vogels wrote:
> Do I presume correctly that Neil McGuinan suggests an Irish descent for Crínán, (lay-)abbot of Dunkeld?
>

Not explicitly, but implicitly. He suggests that the name Maldred is of Irish origin, and that the original form is found earlier in Dunkeld among a powerful family that claimed Irish royal descent, but he predominantly is using this to support the argument that since Maldred's name was used by a powerful Dunkeld family, his father Crinan is likely to be identical to the Crinan of Dunkeld known as father of Duncan.

taf
Hovite
2017-08-05 09:26:24 UTC
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On Monday, June 27, 2016 at 3:53:50 AM UTC+1, taf wrote:
son to the granddaughter of the king of England.
>
> At any rate, if anyone is interested here is a link to the pdf:
>
> https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10023/7829/NeilMcGuiganPhDThesis.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y

This is a difficult work, its main defect being its use of aberrant terminology for dynasties and territories. The subject of the work is Northumbria, and to call it “Middle Britain” seems like deliberate obfuscation. It is also fallacious. Britain means the British Isles, the largest island in that group having called Great Britain (translated from the Ancient Greek Мέγαλη Βρεττανία) since Mediterraneans first visited. In French it is Grande-Bretagne, in German it is Großbritannien, in Spanish it is Gran Bretaña, in Russian it is Великобритания, and in modern Greek it is Μεγάλη Βρετανία. Middle Britain, if it meant anything at all, would be somewhere in the centre of the British Isles, perhaps the Isle of Man. It is a curious fact that McGuigan incorrectly refers to Great Britain as Britain more than a hundred times. This basic blunder is inexcusable from a supposed historian. Nor is it accurate to call Northumbria “Neither Scotland nor England”, for it was an unambiguously English kingdom, and the area remains English speaking to this day.

On page 2, McGuigan mentions “the Ecgberhting kings of the English Saxons, had won an even greater position, having dramatically spread beyond their territorial heartland in Wessex and Kent”. It is almost as if he supposes that a new dynasty arose with the accession of Ecgbeorht III in Wessex and Kent. And why refer to “English Saxons”? Does this mean Anglo-Saxons? On the same page he refers to the “death of Mercia’s Ecgberhting queen in 918”. This is a reference to Æthelflæd, widow of Æthelred, Ealdorman of Mercia. Yet from Anglo-Saxon annals and charters it appears that Æthelflæd (and possibly her daughter) held the rank of a female Ealdorman (in the sense of the governor of a province), and that she was styled Lady (not Queen). It seems that Æthelred and Æthelflæd exercised viceregal power, and had lesser ealdorman serving under them (maybe as government officials or administrators of shires), but they acknowledged the superior royal authority of Ælfred and Eadweard above them, and did not claim it for themselves. The status of Queen is sometimes attributed to Æthelflæd, but she did not claim it in her charters, nor did her husband call himself King.

After wading through a long list of abbreviations and an obscure introduction, one might suppose that the next page would reveal the main body of the work, but instead there is a discussion of the sources. It is something of a surprise to learn that there are five principal variants of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle labelled A to E. What about F, G, H, and I? Perhaps he does not consider these important, but H and I contain material not found in A to E, G preserves annals erased from A, and F provides a helpful Latin translation in addition to the Anglo-Saxon text. Next up, McGuigan refers to the hoax Life of Ælfred, which is worthless as a source, except for the annals that it incorporates. However, as these annals are derived from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, they have no independent authority.

Following the Sources, the next section is called Reconfiguration, which appears to be another Introduction, rendered unnecessarily cryptic by the tactic of referring (page 31) to the Vikings of York by their Irish name, the Dubgaill, and likewise the dynasty of Ivar the Boneless is called Ua Ímair.

Then on page 42 there is a rather dubious assertion “Æthelstan … gave his sister in marriage to Sigtrygg, and claimed his mainland territories after his death … the Ecgberhtings had very recently acquired Mercia by the same tactic”. Now, perhaps that was how Kent and Wessex claimed York, but it is certain that Mercia was acquired by conquest from the Danes. There were, of course, frequent dynastic marriages, because kings were expected to marry foreign princesses, but Kent and Wessex did not gain Mercia by simple inheritance. It is not clear which marriage McGuigan had in mind, but presumably it was either Burgred to Æthelswith or Æthelred to Æthelflæd, yet in neither case is the ancestry of the husband known, so the full significance of the marriage cannot be determined. Indeed, Æthelred seems originally to have been a regular ealdorman, whose later high status was due to his marriage to Æthelflæd, who was a niece of Æthelswith. Thus, though the theory may be correct, the Mercian case is not a clear one. Better examples would be the succession of Æthelheard to Wessex in 728, or Harold II to England in 1066. Two further points that are worth mentioning are that (on the one hand) Sigtrygg does not appear to have survived his marriage by very long, just a year or two, so perhaps his imminent demise was foreseeable, while (on the other hand) he had sons (or son and brother), who might reasonably be expected to succeed, as indeed they did.

Curiously, though McGuigan is interested in dynasties, he seems to be completely unaware of “Anglo-Saxon bishops, kings and nobles” (1899), by William Searle. Thus, on page 46, he attributes the theory that Guthred was married to a daughter of Ivar to “Viking Pirates and Christian Princes” (2005), by John Hudson. Yet this link was known to Searle, who, moreover cited a still earlier work, “Cogadh Gaedhel Re Gallaibh” (1867), by James Todd, which also appears to be unknown to McGuigan. Furthermore, Todd in turn gave credit to a still earlier work, “Scotland under her early kings” (1862), by William Robertson, where the embryonic hypothesis can be found buried in a footnote. Both Todd and Searle provided genealogical tables showing the ramifications of the Viking dynasties. Now it may well be that those tables contain errors, but they are useful summaries of previous research.

Page 49 commences with the bold statement that the name Ricsige was exceptionally rare and was only borne by one individual. That may well be the case, though it is not the elements in Ricsige that are rare, but their order. Searle “Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum” (1897), another work not consulted by McGuigan, lists just one Ricsige, but twenty-three examples of Sigeric. It is entirely possible that Ricsige was the son a Northumbria prince named Æthelric or Osric and an East Saxon princess named Sigeburh or Sigethryth.

On page 52 a new section begins with the heading “King Eadwulf and His Sons”, whom he calls the Eadwulfings. Which is all very well, except that it is curious that McGuigan displays no awareness of a previous King Eadwulf. Hence he does not address the question of whether this later Eadwulf was descended from the earlier Eadwulf, or whether their identical names were purely coincidental. Though it is commonplace for names to be repeated within a dynasty, the elements of Eadwulf were among the most frequently employed, so the same name could have been reformed by accident, maybe for the son of an Oswulf and Eadburh. However, the names of his sons, Oswulf, Ealdred, and Uhtred, recur among both previous kings and subsequent earls, which strongly suggests dynastic continuity. But, and this is an important point, there seems to be no good evidence to show that this second Eadwulf was a king. More probably he was a thegn, or perhaps an ealdorman. Æthelweard described him as commander of the fortress of Bamburgh (“actori oppidi Bebbanburgh”), and stated that Ealdorman Æthelred governed the provinces of Northumbria and Mercia at this time (“regebat Northhumbrias partes, Myrciasque”).

McGuigan veers further off course when he tries to argue for kingly status for Ealdred of Northumbria-Bamburgh by analogy with Æthelred, Governor of Mercia. Several charters issued Æthelred survive, and though they give him a variety of titles, such as Governor, Defender, and Ealdorman, they never call him king. No charters issued by Ealdred exist, but he is listed as a witness in about a dozen documents dating from 930 onward with the rank of Ealdorman (dux). In contrast, various Welsh and Scottish rulers who witnessed English charters as vassals from 928 to 956 were afforded their due rank of subking (subregulus). Now, it might be supposed that Chronicle D 926 [927] implies that Ealdred had royal rank before Æthelstan annexed Northumbria, but it is certain that he did not possess it thereafter. However, as McGuigan observes, there is charter evidence, S396, that his rank in 926 was merely thegn, and an authentic contemporary charter should be regarded as more reliable than an ambiguous annal of uncertain accuracy.

The possibility that this thegn Ealdred was some other person, and not the ealdorman who appears soon afterwards, does not need to be considered, because it is well documented that promotion from thegn to ealdorman was perfectly normal career progression for Anglo-Saxon administrators. Nor is it by any means certain that a thegn could not hold some sort of territorial authority. Perhaps the enigmatic Wulfnoth, mentioned in annal 1009, was a thegn administering Sussex (though more probably he was simply a thegn from Sussex). A more certain example is provided by the thegns Sigefrith and Morcar, murdered in 1015, who seem to have wielded some sort of authority in the Five Boroughs. The clearest example is Ulfketill Snilling, who governed East Anglia, but was never an ealdorman, just a thegn, according to Hart (1975 “The Early Charters of Northern England and the North Midands”, pages 286, 363). So, it is possible that Ealdred ruled Northumbria-Bamburgh, initially as thegn, later as ealdorman, but never as king.

The critical document is clearly the charter S396. It now exists solely as a later copy, but it is regarded as authentic, not least because the copyist carefully preserved the witness list, and also two passages in Anglo-Saxon embedded in the Latin text. The witnesses include the king, an archbishop, eight bishops, four ealdormen, plus eight thegns, and almost all have regular long form dithematic names (the sole exception is Ælfwine, Bishop of Lichfield, whose name was reduced to “Aella”). Whereas charters usually record the supposed generous gift of land by a pious king to a worthy abbey, and thereby provide a strong motive for forgery, S396 instead places upon record an earlier transaction whereby, at the command of King Eadweard (the Elder) and Ealdorman Æthelred (of Mercia), Thegn Ealdred bought five hides in Bedfordshire from the Danes, for £10 in gold and silver.

A similar purchase in Derbyshire by Uthred of sixty hides for £20 pounds of gold and silver is recorded by S397. Napier & Stevenson (1895 “The Crawford Collection of Early Charters and Documents now in the Bodleian Library”, page 74) commented “This is perhaps Uhtred, brother of Ealdred, son of Ealdwulf, of Bamburgh”. S397 also only survives as a later copy, and the witness list has been truncated, but the two charters are otherwise so similar that they were probably issued at the same time by the same meeting of the council. So, Ealdred and Uhtred were actively involved in the liberation of Mercia from the Danes, which was partly achieved through purchase, the charters being “of remarkable importance as showing that Edward the Elder, before attempting the military reduction of the Danelaw, had formed the plan of compelling thegns under his own allegiance to settle in districts still in the occupation of the Northern here” (Stenton 1910 “Types of manorial structure in the northern Danelaw”, page 74). But the really important point here is not so much the curious method of liberating territory, but the undeniable fact that Ealdred and Uhtred were vassals of King Eadweard and his governor Æthelred, and subsequently thegns of Æthelstan.

The charters confirming these transactions were issued by Æthelstan in 926, the year before the supposed submission of Ealdred to Æthelstan, which therefore looks like a reaffirmation of an existing relationship, rather than the subjugation of an independent kingdom. Hence the fact that annal D 926 [927] does not explicitly refer to Ealdred as a king (“Huwal Westwala cyning, 7 Cosstantin Scotta cyning, 7 Uwen Wenta cyning, 7 Ealdred Ealdulfing from Bebbanbyrig”) is simply an accurate record of the event, rather than a careless omission. So, there is no conflict within the evidence, and for McGuigan (page 252) to list Ealdred as a “Verifiable King” is just plain wrong.

On page 54 McGuigan extracts a king named Æthelwulf from “Adulf mcEtulf”, who supposedly died in 934. This person is not recorded in any Anglo-Saxon documents, and the sole source is a lost Stuart era manuscript, supposedly dated 20 April 1627, that purported to be an English translation of an old Irish chronicle, the “Annals of Clonmacnoise”, which (if they ever existed) are now also lost. Copies of the English language manuscript survive, and one was printed in 1896. There are a number of difficulties here. The annal in question is actually dated 928, with 934 being a corrected date, so the chronology is supposedly six years adrift at this point. Other English events are also misdated. The death of Osred I, King of Northumbria, is listed under 713, instead of 716, and the Battle of Hastings is allocated to 1065 and described thusly: “There was a battle fought in England between Harolde and the Normans and Saxons this yeare, where there was an overthrow given to the Danes, and a fleet of 17 shipps of them killed. This was William the Conqueror's abby battle.”

What is rather more worrying is that some early annals are very lengthy, and report events in such meticulous detail that they resemble the historical style of Geoffrey of Monmouth (whose “Historia regum Britanniae” was also supposedly a translation of an ancient Celtic book). Thus, the annal for 590 runs to seven pages in the printed text, mentions some minor miracles, such as turning sour apples sweet, refers to Thomas Dempster (1579-1625) by name, and includes an apparent reference to his “Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotarum”, first published in 1627. The “Annals of Clonmacnoise” are careless compilation from scraps of varying value, and are certainly not, in their present form, a collection of contemporary annals, but a collation contrived centuries later, apparently with the intention of refuting claims made in “Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotarum”, and therefore they could not have existed (in their present form) before 1627. Hence they are certainly not a reliable source, yet McGuigan cites them about a dozen times. This does not inspire much confidence in his critical abilities. It is a fallacy to suppose that the “Annals of Clonmacnoise” are valuable because they record events not reported elsewhere. Some scepticism is required. What sources are likely to have been available to a Stuart era compiler? Were there really 17 Danish ships at Hastings in 1065? Did earthquakes strike the British Isles in 664 and 680? Was Anastasius I slain by a divine thunderbolt in 519? Did showers of honey, money and blood fall in 715?

Though “Adulf” supposedly dying in 928, or 934, could mean Æthelwulf, it is surely more probable that this is simply a corrupt reference to Eadwulf, who died in 912, or 913. Perhaps CMXIII was miscopied as CMXXVIII.

Pages 58 to 81 are devoted to bishops. McGuigan is troubled by a Buga who is listed as a witness of a charter from 928, sandwiched between Theodred and Æscbeorht. He might have had more success in identifying this bishop if he had realized that Buga is merely a short form of some name commencing with Burg-.

Page 82 sees the return of the kings, but McGuigan is still calling a spade an agricultural implement. So, some advanced decoding is required: Ua Ímair means descendants of Ivar the Boneless, Kings of the Here means Kings of York, the Humbrian Dubgaill means Danish Northumbria, and the mysterious English Saxons, first mentioned on page 1, are revealed through a footnote on page 116 to be a simple mistranslation of Angulsaxna, meaning Anglo-Saxons. This last eccentricity seems pure Unwinese. Nor is McGuigan consistent in its application. In his text, English Saxon occurs just 4 times, compared with 126 times for Anglo-Saxon.

A major problem running throughout this work is the use of late sources of doubtful veracity. Thus, on page 93, McGuigan interprets the surname of Eadwulf Yvelcild, Earl of Northumbria-Bamburgh, as meaning bad boy. Yet McGuigan (page 252) lists Eadwulf as flourishing between 968 and 970, whereas the earliest reference to his supposed sobriquet is in a work dated by McGuigan (page 15) to between 1122 and 1129. So the gap between the life of Eadwulf and the first record of his putative nickname is between 152 and 161 years.

On page 99, McGuigan mentions an Earl Morcar, who he assumes to be a Dane in Northumbria, while observing that “the etymology of the name is obscure”. However, McGuigan is probably correct to connect the earlier Earl Morcar with the later Morcar, Earl of Northumbria-York, whose family were Anglo-Saxons in Mercia, as the second Morcar was the son of Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia, son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, son of Leofwine, Ealdorman of Hwicce. Ælfgar married Ælfgifu, daughter of another Morcar, a Mercian thegn killed in 1015, together with his brother Sigefrith. So, Morcar, Earl of Northumbria-York, was evidently named after his maternal grandfather. Hence, Morcar is likely to be a form of some Anglo-Saxon name, most probably the rather rare Mearchere. The same prototheme also occurs in the name of Mearchelm, Ealdorman of the West Hecani, who seems to have belonged to an alliterative dynasty, because Mereweald, Ealdorman of the West Hecani, married Eormenburh (Eaba) of Kent, and they were apparently the parents of Mildburh, Mildthryth, Mildgyth, Merewine, Mereweald, and Mildfrith. One late and unreliable source claims that Mildburh was a niece of Æthelred, King of Mercia, but this is likely to be an error arising from the fact that she was actually a granddaughter of Eormenred, King of Kent. Nevertheless, it may well be that Mearchelm was a mainly Mercian name, just as Seaxred was East Saxon, with an ethnic element determining distribution.

At several points in this thesis McGuigan mentions Northman, who, he argues was a northern earl. One of his reasons was that in 994 Northman witnessed a charter together with Ælfhelm of Northumbria-York and Waltheof of Northumbria-Bamburgh. Thus, McGuigan concludes, there must have been three Northumbrian earldoms at this point. But the same charter was also witnessed by Leofwine, Ealdorman of Hwicce, who, as it happens, was father of Northman, executed by Cnut in 1017. Consequently, Hart (1975 “The Early Charters of Northern England and the North Midands”, page 342), suggested that Ealdorman Northman who witnessed in 994 was junior colleague of his father in Hwicce, and that Leofwine was effectively governor of Mercia during a vacancy between the expulsion of Ælfric Cild in 985 and the appointment of Eadric Streona in 1007. This possibility seems to have been overlooked by McGuigan, and although Hart may not have been exactly correct in assigning Northman to Hwicce, there seems to be no good reason to suppose that there were three earldoms in Northumbria in 994, when there are several other provinces for which no ealdormen can be identified with certainty.

Furthermore, McGuigan was probably mistaken in assuming that there were any earls in Northumbria in 994. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded that Oslac was appointed Earl of Northumbria-York in 966 and was expelled in 975, but it does follow that his successors in Northumbria-York were also styled earl. The Chronicler called Ælfhelm an Ealdorman. The reason for this distinction is purely ethnic. Ælfhelm was an Anglo-Saxon and therefore an Ealdorman, whereas Oslac was a Dane, and therefore an Earl, and his name was really Áslákr (Woodman 2012 Anglo-Saxon Charters 16: 58). It was not until the reign of Cnut that this distinction was lost, and Anglo-Saxons were styled earl. Even so, as late as 1020 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, version D, carefully discriminates between the titles of “æþelward ealdorman” and “Þurkyl eorl”. McGuigan has his earls and ealdormen thoroughly mixed up, especially in his appendices (pages 252 and 253), where he makes a false territorial distinction, with earls in Bamburgh and ealdormen in York.

There is a curious passage on page 124, which though essentially correct, overlooks some of the available evidence. McGuigan says “Edward eventually recognised the rebel appointment of one Morcar, son of Ælfgar, and brother of Earl Eadwine of Mercia, to Tostig’s former office. Here is becomes clear that the Northumbria viceregal ealdordom, at least its title, had degenerated into a prize of Sothumbria politics, as the two largest families in the kingdom competed for the position”. But Morcar was possibly the son of Ælfgifu, daughter of Ealdgyth, daughter of Ælfthryth, sister of Ælfhelm, Ealdorman of Northumbria-York, whose ancestry is unknown, but whose name shares a prototheme with that of Ælfwine (Ælla), King of Northumbria, while Tostig was of Danish descent, a great-great-great-grandson of Gorm the Old, King of Denmark, whose ancestry is uncertain, but was possibly related to the Danish Kings of Northumbria-York (as suggested by McGuigan on page 97). Thus it is by no means certain that Tostig and Morcar did not possess tenuous hereditary claims.

On page 159 McGuigan refers anachronistically to “the Ecgberthings who ruled the Gewisse in Wessex”. This is nonsense on so many levels. Gewisse and West Saxons were alternative names for the same people. Their rulers were generally content with the simple style of king. Occasionally, if greater precision was required, they were sometimes described as King of the Gewisse, or King of the Saxons, or King of the West Saxons. But by the time that Ecgbeorht III acquired Wessex, the term Gewisse was obsolete. As Ecgbeorht III, the son of Ealhmund, King of Kent, was dynastically named after Kings Ecgbeorht I and Ecgbeorht II of Kent, and was involved in a long dispute with the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning his hereditary rights in Kent, it is highly probable that he was a member of the Kentish dynasty, and they were called Oiscings. Likewise, the West Saxon dynasty is referred to as Cerdicings. Whether Oisc or Cerdic were real people or not is immaterial. There is no need to rename either house. At a guess, when McGuigan refers to Ecgberthings, he means descendants of Ecgbeorht III, but they never ruled a people called Gewisse. Furthermore, the last king to style himself King of the West Saxons and the Kentishmen (rex Occidentalium Saxonum necnon et Cantuariorum) was Æthelred I. Following the conquest of the Anglian kingdom of Mercia, his brother and successor, Ælfred, styled himself King of the Angles and the Saxons (rex Anglorum et Saxonum), soon contracted to King of the Anglo-Saxons (Angulsaxonum rex).

The personal names of Scottish monarchs are given in Gaelicized form. The improbability of the accuracy of these Gaelicized versions is shown by a reference on page 206 to “Máel-Coluim” and his brother “William”. Their mother was a daughter William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, and their father was Henry, Earl of Huntingdon. Given these circumstances, it would seem highly likely that the first language of the family was Norman French, rather than Gaelic. Also, the kings generally referred to as Constantine are instead called “Causantín”. Which is strange, because Constantine II witnessed English charters dated 934 [S426] and 935 [S1792] as “Constantinus subregulus”, and is referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as “Cosstantin Scotta cyning” (annal D 926 [927]), “Costontinus” (annals A 937 and D 937), and “Costantinus” (annals B [937] and C 937). The idea that Constantinus represents “Causantín” appears to have been propagated by Dauvit Broun, whose real name is David Brown. Hence it may be suspected that these Gaelicized forms, and perhaps some of the other nomenclatural eccentricities, are the products of political pollution rather than historical research.

One minor puzzle in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is the reference in CDE 1015 to “Seofonburgum”. McGuigan (page 215) boldly suggests that this is simply a scribal error for “Fifburgum”, which occurs in the same annal. This solution appears to be correct, as the context clearly shows that the same territory is being referred.

There are a couple of assertions made on page 241 that show that McGuigan has misunderstood the situation in Northumbria-Bamburgh after the loss of York. He refers to “its last known dynasty, the Eadwulfings”, and mentions “the Eadwulfings rising to dominance in the rump Northumbrian kingdom”, but the names of some of its rulers, such as Eadwulf and Oswulf, show dynastic continuity with previous kings, so it is improbable that a new dynasty had arisen.

In conclusion, this work is marred by a number of serious errors. McGuigan has added three extra kings to the Northumbria-Bamburgh line, but Eadwulf and Ealdred were not kings, and Æthelwulf never existed. Yet their imaginary reigns will gradually seep into derivative literature and will be difficult to eradicate.
Peter Howarth
2017-08-05 14:42:49 UTC
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On Saturday, 5 August 2017 10:26:26 UTC+1, Hovite wrote:
> On Monday, June 27, 2016 at 3:53:50 AM UTC+1, taf wrote:
> son to the granddaughter of the king of England.
> >
> > At any rate, if anyone is interested here is a link to the pdf:
> >
> > https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10023/7829/NeilMcGuiganPhDThesis.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y
>
> This is a difficult work, its main defect being its use of aberrant terminology for dynasties and territories. The subject of the work is Northumbria, and to call it “Middle Britain” seems like deliberate obfuscation. It is also fallacious. Britain means the British Isles, the largest island in that group having called Great Britain (translated from the Ancient Greek Мέγαλη Βρεττανία) since Mediterraneans first visited. In French it is Grande-Bretagne, in German it is Großbritannien, in Spanish it is Gran Bretaña, in Russian it is Великобритания, and in modern Greek it is Μεγάλη Βρετανία. Middle Britain, if it meant anything at all, would be somewhere in the centre of the British Isles, perhaps the Isle of Man. It is a curious fact that McGuigan incorrectly refers to Great Britain as Britain more than a hundred times. This basic blunder is inexcusable from a supposed historian. Nor is it accurate to call Northumbria “Neither Scotland nor England”, for it was an unambiguously English kingdom, and the area remains English speaking to this day.
>
> On page 2, McGuigan mentions “the Ecgberhting kings of the English Saxons, had won an even greater position, having dramatically spread beyond their territorial heartland in Wessex and Kent”. It is almost as if he supposes that a new dynasty arose with the accession of Ecgbeorht III in Wessex and Kent. And why refer to “English Saxons”? Does this mean Anglo-Saxons? On the same page he refers to the “death of Mercia’s Ecgberhting queen in 918”. This is a reference to Æthelflæd, widow of Æthelred, Ealdorman of Mercia. Yet from Anglo-Saxon annals and charters it appears that Æthelflæd (and possibly her daughter) held the rank of a female Ealdorman (in the sense of the governor of a province), and that she was styled Lady (not Queen). It seems that Æthelred and Æthelflæd exercised viceregal power, and had lesser ealdorman serving under them (maybe as government officials or administrators of shires), but they acknowledged the superior royal authority of Ælfred and Eadweard above them, and did not claim it for themselves. The status of Queen is sometimes attributed to Æthelflæd, but she did not claim it in her charters, nor did her husband call himself King.
>
> After wading through a long list of abbreviations and an obscure introduction, one might suppose that the next page would reveal the main body of the work, but instead there is a discussion of the sources. It is something of a surprise to learn that there are five principal variants of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle labelled A to E. What about F, G, H, and I? Perhaps he does not consider these important, but H and I contain material not found in A to E, G preserves annals erased from A, and F provides a helpful Latin translation in addition to the Anglo-Saxon text. Next up, McGuigan refers to the hoax Life of Ælfred, which is worthless as a source, except for the annals that it incorporates. However, as these annals are derived from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, they have no independent authority.
>
> Following the Sources, the next section is called Reconfiguration, which appears to be another Introduction, rendered unnecessarily cryptic by the tactic of referring (page 31) to the Vikings of York by their Irish name, the Dubgaill, and likewise the dynasty of Ivar the Boneless is called Ua Ímair.
>
> Then on page 42 there is a rather dubious assertion “Æthelstan … gave his sister in marriage to Sigtrygg, and claimed his mainland territories after his death … the Ecgberhtings had very recently acquired Mercia by the same tactic”. Now, perhaps that was how Kent and Wessex claimed York, but it is certain that Mercia was acquired by conquest from the Danes. There were, of course, frequent dynastic marriages, because kings were expected to marry foreign princesses, but Kent and Wessex did not gain Mercia by simple inheritance. It is not clear which marriage McGuigan had in mind, but presumably it was either Burgred to Æthelswith or Æthelred to Æthelflæd, yet in neither case is the ancestry of the husband known, so the full significance of the marriage cannot be determined. Indeed, Æthelred seems originally to have been a regular ealdorman, whose later high status was due to his marriage to Æthelflæd, who was a niece of Æthelswith. Thus, though the theory may be correct, the Mercian case is not a clear one. Better examples would be the succession of Æthelheard to Wessex in 728, or Harold II to England in 1066. Two further points that are worth mentioning are that (on the one hand) Sigtrygg does not appear to have survived his marriage by very long, just a year or two, so perhaps his imminent demise was foreseeable, while (on the other hand) he had sons (or son and brother), who might reasonably be expected to succeed, as indeed they did.
>
> Curiously, though McGuigan is interested in dynasties, he seems to be completely unaware of “Anglo-Saxon bishops, kings and nobles” (1899), by William Searle. Thus, on page 46, he attributes the theory that Guthred was married to a daughter of Ivar to “Viking Pirates and Christian Princes” (2005), by John Hudson. Yet this link was known to Searle, who, moreover cited a still earlier work, “Cogadh Gaedhel Re Gallaibh” (1867), by James Todd, which also appears to be unknown to McGuigan. Furthermore, Todd in turn gave credit to a still earlier work, “Scotland under her early kings” (1862), by William Robertson, where the embryonic hypothesis can be found buried in a footnote. Both Todd and Searle provided genealogical tables showing the ramifications of the Viking dynasties. Now it may well be that those tables contain errors, but they are useful summaries of previous research.
>
> Page 49 commences with the bold statement that the name Ricsige was exceptionally rare and was only borne by one individual. That may well be the case, though it is not the elements in Ricsige that are rare, but their order. Searle “Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum” (1897), another work not consulted by McGuigan, lists just one Ricsige, but twenty-three examples of Sigeric. It is entirely possible that Ricsige was the son a Northumbria prince named Æthelric or Osric and an East Saxon princess named Sigeburh or Sigethryth.
>
> On page 52 a new section begins with the heading “King Eadwulf and His Sons”, whom he calls the Eadwulfings. Which is all very well, except that it is curious that McGuigan displays no awareness of a previous King Eadwulf. Hence he does not address the question of whether this later Eadwulf was descended from the earlier Eadwulf, or whether their identical names were purely coincidental. Though it is commonplace for names to be repeated within a dynasty, the elements of Eadwulf were among the most frequently employed, so the same name could have been reformed by accident, maybe for the son of an Oswulf and Eadburh. However, the names of his sons, Oswulf, Ealdred, and Uhtred, recur among both previous kings and subsequent earls, which strongly suggests dynastic continuity. But, and this is an important point, there seems to be no good evidence to show that this second Eadwulf was a king. More probably he was a thegn, or perhaps an ealdorman. Æthelweard described him as commander of the fortress of Bamburgh (“actori oppidi Bebbanburgh”), and stated that Ealdorman Æthelred governed the provinces of Northumbria and Mercia at this time (“regebat Northhumbrias partes, Myrciasque”).
>
> McGuigan veers further off course when he tries to argue for kingly status for Ealdred of Northumbria-Bamburgh by analogy with Æthelred, Governor of Mercia. Several charters issued Æthelred survive, and though they give him a variety of titles, such as Governor, Defender, and Ealdorman, they never call him king. No charters issued by Ealdred exist, but he is listed as a witness in about a dozen documents dating from 930 onward with the rank of Ealdorman (dux). In contrast, various Welsh and Scottish rulers who witnessed English charters as vassals from 928 to 956 were afforded their due rank of subking (subregulus). Now, it might be supposed that Chronicle D 926 [927] implies that Ealdred had royal rank before Æthelstan annexed Northumbria, but it is certain that he did not possess it thereafter. However, as McGuigan observes, there is charter evidence, S396, that his rank in 926 was merely thegn, and an authentic contemporary charter should be regarded as more reliable than an ambiguous annal of uncertain accuracy.
>
> The possibility that this thegn Ealdred was some other person, and not the ealdorman who appears soon afterwards, does not need to be considered, because it is well documented that promotion from thegn to ealdorman was perfectly normal career progression for Anglo-Saxon administrators. Nor is it by any means certain that a thegn could not hold some sort of territorial authority. Perhaps the enigmatic Wulfnoth, mentioned in annal 1009, was a thegn administering Sussex (though more probably he was simply a thegn from Sussex). A more certain example is provided by the thegns Sigefrith and Morcar, murdered in 1015, who seem to have wielded some sort of authority in the Five Boroughs. The clearest example is Ulfketill Snilling, who governed East Anglia, but was never an ealdorman, just a thegn, according to Hart (1975 “The Early Charters of Northern England and the North Midands”, pages 286, 363). So, it is possible that Ealdred ruled Northumbria-Bamburgh, initially as thegn, later as ealdorman, but never as king.
>
> The critical document is clearly the charter S396. It now exists solely as a later copy, but it is regarded as authentic, not least because the copyist carefully preserved the witness list, and also two passages in Anglo-Saxon embedded in the Latin text. The witnesses include the king, an archbishop, eight bishops, four ealdormen, plus eight thegns, and almost all have regular long form dithematic names (the sole exception is Ælfwine, Bishop of Lichfield, whose name was reduced to “Aella”). Whereas charters usually record the supposed generous gift of land by a pious king to a worthy abbey, and thereby provide a strong motive for forgery, S396 instead places upon record an earlier transaction whereby, at the command of King Eadweard (the Elder) and Ealdorman Æthelred (of Mercia), Thegn Ealdred bought five hides in Bedfordshire from the Danes, for £10 in gold and silver.
>
> A similar purchase in Derbyshire by Uthred of sixty hides for £20 pounds of gold and silver is recorded by S397. Napier & Stevenson (1895 “The Crawford Collection of Early Charters and Documents now in the Bodleian Library”, page 74) commented “This is perhaps Uhtred, brother of Ealdred, son of Ealdwulf, of Bamburgh”. S397 also only survives as a later copy, and the witness list has been truncated, but the two charters are otherwise so similar that they were probably issued at the same time by the same meeting of the council. So, Ealdred and Uhtred were actively involved in the liberation of Mercia from the Danes, which was partly achieved through purchase, the charters being “of remarkable importance as showing that Edward the Elder, before attempting the military reduction of the Danelaw, had formed the plan of compelling thegns under his own allegiance to settle in districts still in the occupation of the Northern here” (Stenton 1910 “Types of manorial structure in the northern Danelaw”, page 74). But the really important point here is not so much the curious method of liberating territory, but the undeniable fact that Ealdred and Uhtred were vassals of King Eadweard and his governor Æthelred, and subsequently thegns of Æthelstan.
>
> The charters confirming these transactions were issued by Æthelstan in 926, the year before the supposed submission of Ealdred to Æthelstan, which therefore looks like a reaffirmation of an existing relationship, rather than the subjugation of an independent kingdom. Hence the fact that annal D 926 [927] does not explicitly refer to Ealdred as a king (“Huwal Westwala cyning, 7 Cosstantin Scotta cyning, 7 Uwen Wenta cyning, 7 Ealdred Ealdulfing from Bebbanbyrig”) is simply an accurate record of the event, rather than a careless omission. So, there is no conflict within the evidence, and for McGuigan (page 252) to list Ealdred as a “Verifiable King” is just plain wrong.
>
> On page 54 McGuigan extracts a king named Æthelwulf from “Adulf mcEtulf”, who supposedly died in 934. This person is not recorded in any Anglo-Saxon documents, and the sole source is a lost Stuart era manuscript, supposedly dated 20 April 1627, that purported to be an English translation of an old Irish chronicle, the “Annals of Clonmacnoise”, which (if they ever existed) are now also lost. Copies of the English language manuscript survive, and one was printed in 1896. There are a number of difficulties here. The annal in question is actually dated 928, with 934 being a corrected date, so the chronology is supposedly six years adrift at this point. Other English events are also misdated. The death of Osred I, King of Northumbria, is listed under 713, instead of 716, and the Battle of Hastings is allocated to 1065 and described thusly: “There was a battle fought in England between Harolde and the Normans and Saxons this yeare, where there was an overthrow given to the Danes, and a fleet of 17 shipps of them killed. This was William the Conqueror's abby battle.”
>
> What is rather more worrying is that some early annals are very lengthy, and report events in such meticulous detail that they resemble the historical style of Geoffrey of Monmouth (whose “Historia regum Britanniae” was also supposedly a translation of an ancient Celtic book). Thus, the annal for 590 runs to seven pages in the printed text, mentions some minor miracles, such as turning sour apples sweet, refers to Thomas Dempster (1579-1625) by name, and includes an apparent reference to his “Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotarum”, first published in 1627. The “Annals of Clonmacnoise” are careless compilation from scraps of varying value, and are certainly not, in their present form, a collection of contemporary annals, but a collation contrived centuries later, apparently with the intention of refuting claims made in “Historia ecclesiastica gentis Scotarum”, and therefore they could not have existed (in their present form) before 1627. Hence they are certainly not a reliable source, yet McGuigan cites them about a dozen times. This does not inspire much confidence in his critical abilities. It is a fallacy to suppose that the “Annals of Clonmacnoise” are valuable because they record events not reported elsewhere. Some scepticism is required. What sources are likely to have been available to a Stuart era compiler? Were there really 17 Danish ships at Hastings in 1065? Did earthquakes strike the British Isles in 664 and 680? Was Anastasius I slain by a divine thunderbolt in 519? Did showers of honey, money and blood fall in 715?
>
> Though “Adulf” supposedly dying in 928, or 934, could mean Æthelwulf, it is surely more probable that this is simply a corrupt reference to Eadwulf, who died in 912, or 913. Perhaps CMXIII was miscopied as CMXXVIII.
>
> Pages 58 to 81 are devoted to bishops. McGuigan is troubled by a Buga who is listed as a witness of a charter from 928, sandwiched between Theodred and Æscbeorht. He might have had more success in identifying this bishop if he had realized that Buga is merely a short form of some name commencing with Burg-.
>
> Page 82 sees the return of the kings, but McGuigan is still calling a spade an agricultural implement. So, some advanced decoding is required: Ua Ímair means descendants of Ivar the Boneless, Kings of the Here means Kings of York, the Humbrian Dubgaill means Danish Northumbria, and the mysterious English Saxons, first mentioned on page 1, are revealed through a footnote on page 116 to be a simple mistranslation of Angulsaxna, meaning Anglo-Saxons. This last eccentricity seems pure Unwinese. Nor is McGuigan consistent in its application. In his text, English Saxon occurs just 4 times, compared with 126 times for Anglo-Saxon.
>
> A major problem running throughout this work is the use of late sources of doubtful veracity. Thus, on page 93, McGuigan interprets the surname of Eadwulf Yvelcild, Earl of Northumbria-Bamburgh, as meaning bad boy. Yet McGuigan (page 252) lists Eadwulf as flourishing between 968 and 970, whereas the earliest reference to his supposed sobriquet is in a work dated by McGuigan (page 15) to between 1122 and 1129. So the gap between the life of Eadwulf and the first record of his putative nickname is between 152 and 161 years.
>
> On page 99, McGuigan mentions an Earl Morcar, who he assumes to be a Dane in Northumbria, while observing that “the etymology of the name is obscure”. However, McGuigan is probably correct to connect the earlier Earl Morcar with the later Morcar, Earl of Northumbria-York, whose family were Anglo-Saxons in Mercia, as the second Morcar was the son of Ælfgar, Earl of Mercia, son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, son of Leofwine, Ealdorman of Hwicce. Ælfgar married Ælfgifu, daughter of another Morcar, a Mercian thegn killed in 1015, together with his brother Sigefrith. So, Morcar, Earl of Northumbria-York, was evidently named after his maternal grandfather. Hence, Morcar is likely to be a form of some Anglo-Saxon name, most probably the rather rare Mearchere. The same prototheme also occurs in the name of Mearchelm, Ealdorman of the West Hecani, who seems to have belonged to an alliterative dynasty, because Mereweald, Ealdorman of the West Hecani, married Eormenburh (Eaba) of Kent, and they were apparently the parents of Mildburh, Mildthryth, Mildgyth, Merewine, Mereweald, and Mildfrith. One late and unreliable source claims that Mildburh was a niece of Æthelred, King of Mercia, but this is likely to be an error arising from the fact that she was actually a granddaughter of Eormenred, King of Kent. Nevertheless, it may well be that Mearchelm was a mainly Mercian name, just as Seaxred was East Saxon, with an ethnic element determining distribution.
>
> At several points in this thesis McGuigan mentions Northman, who, he argues was a northern earl. One of his reasons was that in 994 Northman witnessed a charter together with Ælfhelm of Northumbria-York and Waltheof of Northumbria-Bamburgh. Thus, McGuigan concludes, there must have been three Northumbrian earldoms at this point. But the same charter was also witnessed by Leofwine, Ealdorman of Hwicce, who, as it happens, was father of Northman, executed by Cnut in 1017. Consequently, Hart (1975 “The Early Charters of Northern England and the North Midands”, page 342), suggested that Ealdorman Northman who witnessed in 994 was junior colleague of his father in Hwicce, and that Leofwine was effectively governor of Mercia during a vacancy between the expulsion of Ælfric Cild in 985 and the appointment of Eadric Streona in 1007. This possibility seems to have been overlooked by McGuigan, and although Hart may not have been exactly correct in assigning Northman to Hwicce, there seems to be no good reason to suppose that there were three earldoms in Northumbria in 994, when there are several other provinces for which no ealdormen can be identified with certainty.
>
> Furthermore, McGuigan was probably mistaken in assuming that there were any earls in Northumbria in 994. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle recorded that Oslac was appointed Earl of Northumbria-York in 966 and was expelled in 975, but it does follow that his successors in Northumbria-York were also styled earl. The Chronicler called Ælfhelm an Ealdorman. The reason for this distinction is purely ethnic. Ælfhelm was an Anglo-Saxon and therefore an Ealdorman, whereas Oslac was a Dane, and therefore an Earl, and his name was really Áslákr (Woodman 2012 Anglo-Saxon Charters 16: 58). It was not until the reign of Cnut that this distinction was lost, and Anglo-Saxons were styled earl. Even so, as late as 1020 the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, version D, carefully discriminates between the titles of “æþelward ealdorman” and “Þurkyl eorl”. McGuigan has his earls and ealdormen thoroughly mixed up, especially in his appendices (pages 252 and 253), where he makes a false territorial distinction, with earls in Bamburgh and ealdormen in York.
>
> There is a curious passage on page 124, which though essentially correct, overlooks some of the available evidence. McGuigan says “Edward eventually recognised the rebel appointment of one Morcar, son of Ælfgar, and brother of Earl Eadwine of Mercia, to Tostig’s former office. Here is becomes clear that the Northumbria viceregal ealdordom, at least its title, had degenerated into a prize of Sothumbria politics, as the two largest families in the kingdom competed for the position”. But Morcar was possibly the son of Ælfgifu, daughter of Ealdgyth, daughter of Ælfthryth, sister of Ælfhelm, Ealdorman of Northumbria-York, whose ancestry is unknown, but whose name shares a prototheme with that of Ælfwine (Ælla), King of Northumbria, while Tostig was of Danish descent, a great-great-great-grandson of Gorm the Old, King of Denmark, whose ancestry is uncertain, but was possibly related to the Danish Kings of Northumbria-York (as suggested by McGuigan on page 97). Thus it is by no means certain that Tostig and Morcar did not possess tenuous hereditary claims.
>
> On page 159 McGuigan refers anachronistically to “the Ecgberthings who ruled the Gewisse in Wessex”. This is nonsense on so many levels. Gewisse and West Saxons were alternative names for the same people. Their rulers were generally content with the simple style of king. Occasionally, if greater precision was required, they were sometimes described as King of the Gewisse, or King of the Saxons, or King of the West Saxons. But by the time that Ecgbeorht III acquired Wessex, the term Gewisse was obsolete. As Ecgbeorht III, the son of Ealhmund, King of Kent, was dynastically named after Kings Ecgbeorht I and Ecgbeorht II of Kent, and was involved in a long dispute with the Archbishop of Canterbury concerning his hereditary rights in Kent, it is highly probable that he was a member of the Kentish dynasty, and they were called Oiscings. Likewise, the West Saxon dynasty is referred to as Cerdicings. Whether Oisc or Cerdic were real people or not is immaterial. There is no need to rename either house. At a guess, when McGuigan refers to Ecgberthings, he means descendants of Ecgbeorht III, but they never ruled a people called Gewisse. Furthermore, the last king to style himself King of the West Saxons and the Kentishmen (rex Occidentalium Saxonum necnon et Cantuariorum) was Æthelred I. Following the conquest of the Anglian kingdom of Mercia, his brother and successor, Ælfred, styled himself King of the Angles and the Saxons (rex Anglorum et Saxonum), soon contracted to King of the Anglo-Saxons (Angulsaxonum rex).
>
> The personal names of Scottish monarchs are given in Gaelicized form. The improbability of the accuracy of these Gaelicized versions is shown by a reference on page 206 to “Máel-Coluim” and his brother “William”. Their mother was a daughter William de Warenne, Earl of Surrey, and their father was Henry, Earl of Huntingdon. Given these circumstances, it would seem highly likely that the first language of the family was Norman French, rather than Gaelic. Also, the kings generally referred to as Constantine are instead called “Causantín”. Which is strange, because Constantine II witnessed English charters dated 934 [S426] and 935 [S1792] as “Constantinus subregulus”, and is referred to in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as “Cosstantin Scotta cyning” (annal D 926 [927]), “Costontinus” (annals A 937 and D 937), and “Costantinus” (annals B [937] and C 937). The idea that Constantinus represents “Causantín” appears to have been propagated by Dauvit Broun, whose real name is David Brown. Hence it may be suspected that these Gaelicized forms, and perhaps some of the other nomenclatural eccentricities, are the products of political pollution rather than historical research.
>
> One minor puzzle in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is the reference in CDE 1015 to “Seofonburgum”. McGuigan (page 215) boldly suggests that this is simply a scribal error for “Fifburgum”, which occurs in the same annal. This solution appears to be correct, as the context clearly shows that the same territory is being referred.
>
> There are a couple of assertions made on page 241 that show that McGuigan has misunderstood the situation in Northumbria-Bamburgh after the loss of York. He refers to “its last known dynasty, the Eadwulfings”, and mentions “the Eadwulfings rising to dominance in the rump Northumbrian kingdom”, but the names of some of its rulers, such as Eadwulf and Oswulf, show dynastic continuity with previous kings, so it is improbable that a new dynasty had arisen.
>
> In conclusion, this work is marred by a number of serious errors. McGuigan has added three extra kings to the Northumbria-Bamburgh line, but Eadwulf and Ealdred were not kings, and Æthelwulf never existed. Yet their imaginary reigns will gradually seep into derivative literature and will be difficult to eradicate.

In your first comment, the one about the name 'Middle Britain', I don't follow the point of quoting all the different languages that are not in general use within the island. What is more apropos is the entry in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary s.v.'Britain':

'The proper name of the whole island containing England, Wales, and Scotland, with their dependencies; more fully called Great Britain.
'After the OE period, 'Britain' was used only as a historical term, until about the time of Henry VIII and Edward VI, when it came again into practical politics in connexion with the efforts made to unite England and Scotland; in 1604 James I was proclaimed 'King of Great Britain'; and this name was adopted for the United Kingdom, at the Union in 1707. After that event, 'South Britain' and 'North Britain' are frequent in Acts of Parl. for England and Scotland respectively: the latter is still in occasional use.'

'Great Britain' was invented for James I to distinguish his combined realm from Little Britain, or Brittany. And in view of the Parliamentary use of 'South Britain' and 'North Britain', to use 'Middle Britain' for the disputed area between the two seems a particularly felicitous expression. And as for the language spoken in Northumbria, it was certainly not the same as that spoken in Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia or Kent. Even nowadays I cannot understand a Geordie from Newcastle any better than I can understand a Glaswegian.

Peter Howarth
Tompkins, Matthew (Dr.)
2017-08-05 18:24:22 UTC
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From: Peter Howarth <***@gmail.com>

Sent: 05 August 2017 15:42
>
> In your first comment, the one about the name 'Middle Britain', I don't follow the point of quoting all the different languages that are not in general use within the island. What is more apropos is the entry in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary s.v.'Britain':
>
> 'The proper name of the whole island containing England, Wales, and Scotland, with their dependencies; more fully called Great Britain.
'After the OE period, 'Britain' was used only as a historical term, until about the time of Henry VIII and Edward VI, when it came again into practical politics in connexion with the efforts made to unite England and Scotland; in 1604 James I was proclaimed 'King of Great Britain'; and this name was adopted for the United Kingdom, at the Union in 1707. After that event, 'South Britain' and 'North Britain' are frequent in Acts of Parl. for England and Scotland respectively: the latter is still in occasional use.'
>
> 'Great Britain' was invented for James I to distinguish his combined realm from Little Britain, or Brittany. And in view of the Parliamentary use of 'South Britain' and 'North Britain', to use 'Middle Britain' for the disputed area between the two seems a particularly felicitous expression. And as for the language spoken in Northumbria, it was certainly not the same as that spoken in Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia or Kent. Even nowadays I cannot understand a Geordie from Newcastle any better than I can understand a Glaswegian.
>
> Peter Howarth

-------------------------------
James I was the first to call himself king of Great Britain, but the name wasn't invented for him - it had been used to describe the island as a whole for centuries before that. The OED records 'Bretayn the grete' in ca.1400; the MED has the same reference dated to ca. 1450, and 'Grete breteygne', similarly dated (and 'mych Bretaigne' in ca. 1400); DMLBS has 'Britannia Major' from Gervase of Tilbury's Otia ,written ca. 1210; and AND has 'Bretaigne majur' from a 13C Brut and 'la grant Bretaigne' in a 12-13C text.

After James' accession the English and Scottish Borders were offically referred to as the Middle Shires for a time.

Matt Tompkins
Peter Howarth
2017-08-05 19:51:49 UTC
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On Saturday, 5 August 2017 19:24:33 UTC+1, Tompkins, Matthew (Dr.) wrote:
> From: Peter Howarth <***@gmail.com>
>
> Sent: 05 August 2017 15:42
> >
> > In your first comment, the one about the name 'Middle Britain', I don't follow the point of quoting all the different languages that are not in general use within the island. What is more apropos is the entry in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary s.v.'Britain':
> >
> > 'The proper name of the whole island containing England, Wales, and Scotland, with their dependencies; more fully called Great Britain.
> 'After the OE period, 'Britain' was used only as a historical term, until about the time of Henry VIII and Edward VI, when it came again into practical politics in connexion with the efforts made to unite England and Scotland; in 1604 James I was proclaimed 'King of Great Britain'; and this name was adopted for the United Kingdom, at the Union in 1707. After that event, 'South Britain' and 'North Britain' are frequent in Acts of Parl. for England and Scotland respectively: the latter is still in occasional use.'
> >
> > 'Great Britain' was invented for James I to distinguish his combined realm from Little Britain, or Brittany. And in view of the Parliamentary use of 'South Britain' and 'North Britain', to use 'Middle Britain' for the disputed area between the two seems a particularly felicitous expression. And as for the language spoken in Northumbria, it was certainly not the same as that spoken in Mercia, Wessex, East Anglia or Kent. Even nowadays I cannot understand a Geordie from Newcastle any better than I can understand a Glaswegian.
> >
> > Peter Howarth
>
> -------------------------------
> James I was the first to call himself king of Great Britain, but the name wasn't invented for him - it had been used to describe the island as a whole for centuries before that. The OED records 'Bretayn the grete' in ca.1400; the MED has the same reference dated to ca. 1450, and 'Grete breteygne', similarly dated (and 'mych Bretaigne' in ca. 1400); DMLBS has 'Britannia Major' from Gervase of Tilbury's Otia ,written ca. 1210; and AND has 'Bretaigne majur' from a 13C Brut and 'la grant Bretaigne' in a 12-13C text.
>
> After James' accession the English and Scottish Borders were offically referred to as the Middle Shires for a time.
>
> Matt Tompkins

Thank you, Matt. It may well be that there were a few isolated instances of 'great' used with 'Britain' earlier on. But my memory has not played me completely false. 'Great Britain' was invented for the combined realm of which James I was the first king, but the name and the idea were thought up some time earlier and then offered to James.

The National Archives site at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/utk/epilogue.htm says:

The idea of a new realm of Great Britain, the reincarnation of Roman Britannia, had been current since the dynastic crises of both Tudor and Stuart lines in the 1540s. Now, it was requested of James (by the eminent scholar Robert Cotton) that his 'glorious Empier' should be called 'Greate Brittayne or Britannia Major (a distinction the best authors have preserved from Britannia Minor [Brittany] in France)', and that he himself be known as:
James the first by the grace of God
Kinge of great Brittayne ~
Fraunce, Ireland and the
adiacent Islandes ~
Defender of the
Faith etc.

Peter Howarth
Hovite
2017-08-29 15:32:25 UTC
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On Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 3:42:51 PM UTC+1, Peter Howarth wrote:

>
> 'Great Britain' was invented for James I to distinguish his combined realm

Following his accession in England, the some coins issued by James have the legend IACOBVS D. G. MAG. BRI. FRA. ET HI. REX but in an inscription from about 1500 years earlier contains [CO]GIDVBNI·R[EG·MA]GNI·BRIT.
Peter Stewart
2017-08-29 22:56:25 UTC
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On 30-Aug-17 1:32 AM, Hovite wrote:
> On Saturday, August 5, 2017 at 3:42:51 PM UTC+1, Peter Howarth wrote:
>
>> 'Great Britain' was invented for James I to distinguish his combined realm
> Following his accession in England, the some coins issued by James have the legend IACOBVS D. G. MAG. BRI. FRA. ET HI. REX but in an inscription from about 1500 years earlier contains [CO]GIDVBNI·R[EG·MA]GNI·BRIT.

However, the first (with the royal name in the nominative) means "king
of Great Britain, France and Ireland" whereas the second (with the name
in the genitive) may mean "great king of Britain".

Peter Stewart
Katherine Kennedy
2017-08-23 19:29:19 UTC
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On Sunday, June 26, 2016 at 10:53:50 PM UTC-4, taf wrote:
> A few weeks ago I mentioned here an article presenting a curious pedigree of the Earls of Northumbria, by Neil McGuigan. I have since found his 2015 St. Andrews thesis, which covers the 'kings' and earls of Northumbria between the Viking deluge and the post-Norman-Conquest pacification.
>
> In addition to Northumbria itself, he addresses some peripheral aspects, notably including an appendix on Maldred MacCrinan, father of earl Gospatric. Among other things, he addressed the lack of an explicit statement that his father Crinan is the same as the Crinan, father of king Duncan. He makes the observation that Crinan is not that common of a name, and that it would be a big coincidence of one Crinan was well enough placed to marry the daughter of the king of Scotland, while a completely different Crinan was well enough placed to marry his son to the granddaughter of the king of England.
>
> At any rate, if anyone is interested here is a link to the pdf:
>
> https://research-repository.st-andrews.ac.uk/bitstream/handle/10023/7829/NeilMcGuiganPhDThesis.pdf?sequence=6&isAllowed=y

Thank you for sharing this article. DNA shows both the Robertson and Dunbar clans to be R-M222 (or Ui Neill/Connachta), so the identification of Maldred's father with Duncan's is a strong possibility. Moncreiffe's theory of a Cenél Conaill origin for Crinan also fits with the results. However, other families that claimed relation to the Dunbars did not match, like clans Dundas and Home who were probably related through daughters, if it all.
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