Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Eadsige

EADSIGE, EADSINE, EDSIE, or ELSI (d. 1050), archbishop of Canterbury, one of the chaplains of Cnut, who granted Folkestone to the convent of Christ Church in order to obtain his admission into the house, stipulating that Eadsige should have the land for his life, was suffragan bishop in Kent in 1035, and is said to have had his see at the church of St. Martin, outside Canterbury. He succeeded Archbishop Æthelnoth in 1038, and in 1040 fetched his pall from Rome. He crowned Harthacnut, and at the coronation of Eadward the Confessor on 3 April 1043 delivered an exhortation to the king and the people (A.-S. Chron.) Eadsige belonged to the party of Godwine and opposed the policy of the great men of the northern part of the country. Soon after the accession of Eadward he fell into bad health and was unable to perform the duties of his office. Fearing lest some man whom he did not approve might beg or buy his archbishopric, he secretly took counsel with the king and Earl Godwine, and through the earl's influence obtained the appointment of Siward, abbot of Abingdon, as his coadjutor. Siward was consecrated in 1044, taking his title from Upsala (Stubbs) or from Rochester (Historia de Abingdon, i. 451), and attests charters as archbishop, his name appearing before that of Ælfric of York (Kemble, Codex Dipl. 780 sq.) William of Malmesbury says that he was ungrateful and kept Eadsige short of food during his illness, that he was consequently deprived of the succession, and that he had to console himself with the bishopric of Rochester. This story evidently arose from a confusion between him and another Siward, bishop of Rochester 1058–75; it was a satisfactory mode of explaining the reason of what was held to have been the failure of the expectation of the suffragan. His retirement was really caused by ill-health; he went back to Abingdon and died there on 23 Oct. 1048. It seems probable that Eadsige recovered from his sickness in 1046, when he again attests a charter as archbishop, Siward using the title of bishop, and that he resumed the government of his entire see on the retirement of Siward, about eight weeks before his death. Eadsige died on 29 Oct. 1050. It is possible that some dispute arose with the convent of Christ Church with reference to the allowance to be made to him during his illness, which may account for part of the story told by William of Malmesbury, for he left lands to the rival house of St. Augustine's (Thorn). He is said, moreover, to have helped Earl Godwine to get possession of Folkestone in defiance of the right of the convent of Christ Church (Freeman, Norman Conquest, ii. 559).

[Kemble's Codex Dipl. 754–84 passim, 1323–1325; Historia de Abingdon, i. 451, 461 (Rolls Ser.); Anglo-Saxon Chron. sub ann. 1038, 1046, 1048; William of Malmesbury's Gesta Regum, i. 333 (Engl. Hist. Soc.), Gesta Pontiff. p. 34 (Rolls Ser.); Anglia Sacra, i. 106; Thorn's Twysden, col. 1784; Stubbs's Reg. Sacrum Anglic. p. 20; Hook's Archbishops, i. 487 sq.]

W. H.