In 1026 he went to Rome, and obtained the pall from Pope John XIX. When Cnut wrote his letter from Rome to his English subjects, he addressed it to Ælfric as well as to Æthelnoth of Canterbury. On the accession of Harthacnut, the king sent Ælfric with Earl Godwine to disinter and outrage the body of his brother Harold. William of Malmesbury, who takes the worst view of Ælfric's character, says (Gesta Pontif. lib. iii.) that this base deed was done by his advice. As neither Florence nor the Chronicle mentions this, the assertion must be regarded with suspicion. In 1040, Ælfric, with others, accused Earl Godwine and Bishop Lyfing of the murder of the ætheling Ælfred, the king's half brother. Harthacnut took away the bishopric of Worcester from Lyfing and gave it to Ælfric. While Ælfric held Worcester, the men of the bishopric made an insurrection against Harthacnut. The king sent the great earls with his housecarls to lay waste the shire and slay all its men. This barbarous measure is also attributed by William of Malmesbury to the advice of Ælfric, and he says that the archbishop took this way of revenging himself on the men of Worcester because they refused to receive him as their bishop. The next year the king gave back the bishopric to Lyfing. In 1043, Ælfric assisted at the coronation of Eadward the Confessor. He died at Southwell, 22 Jan. 1051, and was buried at Peterborough. The dark character given by William of Malmesbury to Ælfric, which Mr. Freeman freely accepts (Norman Conquest, i. c. 6), is probably to be referred, at least to some extent, to monkish prejudice against a patron of the secular clergy. Sufficient proof of the untruth of Malmesbury's statement as to the part taken by Ælfric in the Worcester outrage seems to be contained in the silence of Florence of Worcester, who simply says that it took place while Ælfric held the bishopric, and in the words of the Worcester writer of the Chronicle, who, in recording the death of Ælfric, says: ‘An exceeding pious man was he and wise.’
[Anglo-Saxon Chronicle; Florence of Worcester; William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, lib. ii., and Gesta Pontificum, lib. iii.; T. Stubbs, Pontif. Ebor., ap. Twysden, Dec. Script.; Simeon of Durham; Fasti Eboracenses, Dixon, ed. Raine.]
ÆLFSIGE (d. 959) was made bishop of Winchester in 951. On the death of Oda, which took place in 958, Ælfsige was elected to the archbishopric of Canterbury. He set out on his journey to Rome to obtain the pall. He was overtaken on the Alps by a heavy snowstorm, and died from the effects of the cold. His companions returned home safely. This is all that is certainly known about him. As Ælfsige was appointed to Canterbury during the reign of Eadwig, he probably belonged to the party opposed to the policy of Dunstan. This is sufficient to account for the dark picture given of him in later legends. His election is regarded as a postponement of the just claims of Dunstan, and is said to have been procured by simony. William of Malmesbury adds a story of his insulting the tomb and memory of his predecessor Oda, and speaks as though his death was the consequence of his sin.
[Florence of Worcester; Stubbs, Introduction to Memorials of Dunstan, Rolls Ser., and Vita S. Dunstani, auct. B., p. 37, Osbern, p. 107, Eadmer, p. 198, and William of Malmesbury, p. 294 in Memorials.]
ÆLFTHRYTH, Lat. Eltrudis (d. 929), was a younger daughter of King Ælfred. She was brought up in her father's court with her brother Eadward. Asser dwells on the care with which the brother and sister were educated. Ælfthryth learnt all that was held fitting for people of high birth to know. She studied the Psalms and English books, and, above all, the English songs which her father loved so well. Ælfthryth married Baldwin II, count of Flanders, a violent and greedy man. She received Chippenham and two other estates in Wiltshire by her father's will. In 912 she gave Lewisham with its dependencies, Greenwich and Woolwich, to the abbey of St. Peter at Ghent. Her husband, Baldwin, died in 915, and was buried in the abbey of St. Bertin. Two years after his death Ælfthryth had his body moved to Ghent and buried in the church of St. Peter. She died in 929, and was laid beside her husband. She had two sons and two daughters. Her elder son, Arnulf, succeeded his father as count of Flanders. Fifth in descent from Arnulf was Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V and wife of William the Conqueror. Ælfthryth forms, therefore, an important link in the genealogy of the royal family of England. Her second son, Adelulf, was count of Boulogne.
[Asser, de Rebus gestis Ælfredi; Æthelweard, Chron. i.; Sigebert, Chron. 918, in Recueil des Historiens, &c. viii. 310; Frodoard, Hist. iv. 10; L'Art de vérifier, &c. xiii. 282; Dugdale, Monasticon, vi. 987.]
ÆLFTHRYTH, or in Latin ELFRIDA (945?–1000), was the daughter of Ordgar, the ealdorman of Devon. Her first husband was Æthelwald, the ealdorman of the East