Somerset Historical Essays/William of Malmesbury 'On the Antiquity of Glastonbury'
WILLIAM OF MALMESBURY 'ON THE ANTIQUITY OF GLASTONBURY'
There was a pretty rivalry in mediaeval times between the great abbeys of Westminster and Glastonbury, not unlike the contest for historical precedence between the universities of Oxford and Cambridge which produced less reputable forgeries at a later time. If Oxford found in Asser's Life of Alfred that Grimbald had kept school in that ancient city, Cambridge made the happy discovery that some seven hundred years before two of her pupils had been sent by K. Lucius to the Pope of Rome to ask for Christian teachers. The great abbeys had at any rate a more solid reason than academic jealousy for insisting on priority of foundation. The precedence of abbots at a General Council was something worth fighting for; and Glastonbury's claim was challenged and defended again and again, and notably in 1434 at the Council of Bale, when the Spaniards were asserting priority over England in virtue of the preaching of St James of Compostella.
Westminster might at first be content to go back to K. Sebert in 604; for the great minster at Glastonbury was known to have been built by K. Ina a century later. But the Glastonbury monks discovered that K. Lucius had been left out of account, and they claimed a visit from the missionaries of Pope Eleutherus in 166. Westminster on enquiry discovered that their church also had been founded in the days of K. Lucius, though after the Diocletian persecution it was turned for a while into a temple of Apollo. Glastonbury, while insisting on 166 as her own date, allowed that Westminster followed quickly in 169: but presently she made a bolder bid for antiquity and took over the legend of Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Grail, and so settled her date once and for all as the thirty-first year after the Passion of the Lord and the fifteenth after the Assumption of the glorious Virgin. It was vain for Westminster to plead that the blessed Peter himself had left the gate of heaven and come down to consecrate his new church with his own apostolic hands. For when St David came with his seven bishops thinking to consecrate the church of Glastonbury, the Lord Himself appeared to him in a vision by night and told him that He the Great High Priest had long ago dedicated the little church of wattles to the honour of His Ever-Virgin Mother.
It might indeed be supposed that of all our English monasteries none had its actual history so thoroughly explored and so well authenticated as Glastonbury Abbey. For early in the twelfth century its story was written by the famous pen of William of Malmesbury, and his work was continued by two monks of the house, Adam of Domerham who brought it down to A. D. 1291, and John of Glastonbury who abbreviated the narratives of both his predecessors and carried on the history to the end of the fifteenth century. But it has become the fashion to throw aside William of Malmesbury's Enquiry into the Antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury as a careless piece of work hastily put together to flatter the vanity of the Glastonbury monks when, for some reason which remains obscure to us, the great historian had for a time taken up his abode in their house. Nothing that the credulous fathers told him was too puerile for him to record as history while he ate their bread; and when he was gone they took his book and loaded it up with fresh fictions, so that it has no value left for serious students. This adverse judgement has seemed to be confirmed by the discovery of a tenth-century list of the English abbots of Glastonbury, which cannot be reconciled with William of Malmesbury's list in the De Antiquitate.
The names and sequence of the early abbots must be reserved for a special investigation. At present we are concerned with the general character of the book, and more particularly with the earlier portion of it. The only edition for critical purposes is contained in the first volume of Hearne's Adam of Domerham, which appeared at Oxford in 1727. Hearne had already sent to the press the main portion of his John of Glastonbury when through the good offices of Thomas Parne he was enabled to borrow from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, the manuscript of Adam of Domerham—the unique copy, as he says, though large extracts were also contained in Cox Macro's Register which Tanner had borrowed for him. The De Antiquitate precedes Adam of Domerham's work in the Cambridge manuscript, and had already been edited from it by Gale in his Scriptores Quindecim (Oxford, 1691). But Gale, as Hearne says, used other people's eyes, and sleepy ones at that. Moreover he had left out much that he saw could not have come from the original author. Yet these were ancient notes, worthy at least of record; and most of them Hearne supposed to have been written by Adam of Domerham to whom the codex had probably belonged. Hearne therefore edited the work afresh as it stood in the manuscript, with the marginal notes in various hands which he endeavoured to discriminate: at the foot of the page he gave the variants of Gale's edition and the readings of Cox Macro's Register (M). A glance at the manuscript will show that, if Hearne's edition presents a somewhat repellent appearance, this is due to the faithfulness with which the editor has done his work.
William of Malmesbury entitled his book De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae. It is unfortunate that it has come to be commonly described as 'The Antiquities of Glastonbury'. For the author's purpose was plainly indicated by his title. Doubt had been cast on the early date of Glastonbury. The Canterbury Chanter— for William of Malmesbury will not mention Osbern's name—had actually said in his Life of St Dunstan that the first abbot of Glastonbury was Dunstan himself. Our author proposes with the help of documents to show the line of succession from a very early time; and, after he has recorded the names and dates of some nineteen abbots of the English line alone before the year 940, he says: 'I fancy it will now be clear how far that writer was from the truth who wildly stated that the blessed Dunstan was the first abbot of Glastonbury'. Moreover in his Dedicatory Letter, addressed to Henry of Blois, who held the abbey from 1126 to his death in 1171, he speaks of having already written two books on St Dunstan's life, as well as Lives of SS. Patrick, Benignus and Indractus, and begs now a favourable hearing as he endeavours by tracing the successions of the abbots to rescue from suspicion the antiquity of the church, so far as the existing muniments of the abbey shall enable him to do so. This exactly describes his aim, and throughout the work he seldom fails to cite the authorities on which his statements rest. If for the earlier period his authorities are sometimes weak, that is not his fault. And, though the charters of the Wessex kings are for the most part rejected by the modern critics, we may find reason to think that they contain a good deal of true history, and that the immense pains which he expended on their examination may. even raise his credit as an investigator of the distant past.
The chronology of William of Malmesbury's historical works has been carefully investigated by Bishop Stubbs in the Introduction to the Gesta Regum, which he edited for the Master of the Rolls in 1887. His conclusions are as follows: the Gesta Regum was completed in the year 1125: a second and a third edition were issued by the author between 1135 and 1140. The Gesta Pontificum was in course of composition concurrently with the Gesta Regum, and came out later in the same year 1125: this also was to some extent revised before 1140. The later editions of the Gesta Regum expressly refer to the work De Antiquitate Glastoniensis Ecclesiae. As this last-mentioned work was dedicated to Henry of Blois the bishop of Winchester, who is however not addressed as papal legate, it was probably written between 1129 and 1139. Now the Dedicatory Letter declares that the author has already completed for the monks of Glastonbury two books on the Life of St Dunstan. When we turn to these books we find that in the former of them he promises to explain the presence at Glastonbury of the bodies of certain northern saints, if he is allowed to complete his proposed work on the antiquity of that church. But in the preface to the second book he says that he has already completed that work. The discrepancy of these statements is not a serious one. The last words of the De Antiquitate show that it was originally addressed to the monks of Glastonbury: the dedication to Henry of Blois, their abbot, was plainly an afterthought, and was written when the second book of the Life of St Dunstan was completed; but the De Antiquitate itself was finished before the introduction to that second book was written. In short, the two works were in hand together during the same period of the author's residence at Glastonbury.
When we look at the De Antiquitate in the only form in which it has come down to us, we find that not only are its margins crowded with later additions, but the text itself bears obvious traces of having been seriously modified many years after the author's death. It is enough here to mention that in one place it speaks of Henry of Blois, who was still living in 1171, as 'of blessed memory'; and that it has several explicit references to the great fire which consumed the abbey in 1184. When we insert the knife of criticism we shall discover that many pages of Hearne's careful edition are filled with inventions of a later date, which must no longer be allowed to blot the reputation of the great historian. It is fortunate for us that the so-called third edition of the Gesta Regum contains large insertions which run word for word with passages in the De Antiquitate; so that, if we accept the view that this edition was made by the author himself between the years 1135 and 1140, a valuable instrument of criticism is at once placed in our hands.
We shall best approach our task by giving an analysis of the book under its existing headings, and with occasional quotations in full, down to the point at which the evidence of charters is called in to trace the successions of the English abbots. The frequent repetitions in the text will at once suggest that it has passed through several stages of correction: and, in particular, the names of St Phagan and St Deruvian meet us so unnecessarily often, that we shall even begin to wonder whether they had any place at all in the original manuscript.
How the twelve disciples of St Philip and St James the apostles first founded the church of Glastonbury.
'After the glory of the Lord's resurrection, the triumph of His ascension and the mission of the Holy Ghost the Comforter, who filled the disciples' hearts which still trembled with dread of temporal punishment, and gave them the knowledge of all languages, all who believed were together, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, as Luke the Evangelist narrates; and the word of God was sown abroad and the number of them that believed increased daily, and they all had one heart and one soul. Kindled therefore with the torch of envy, the priests of the Jews together with the Pharisees and scribes stirred up persecution against the Church, killing Stephen the first martyr and driving far away almost all the rest. So while the storm of persecution raged, the believers were dispersed and went forth into divers kingdoms of the earth, which the Lord assigned to them, offering the word of salvation to the Gentiles. Now St Philip, as Freculfus declares in the fourth chapter of his second book, came to the country of the Franks, and by his gracious preaching turned many to the faith and baptized them. Then desiring that the word of Christ should be yet further spread abroad, he chose twelve of his disciples and sent them to Britain to proclaim the word of life and preach the Incarnation of Jesus Christ, and on each of them he devoutly laid his right hand; and over them he appointed, it is said, his dearest friend, Joseph of Arimathea who had buried the Lord. They arrived in Britain in the sixty-third year from the Incarnation of the Lord, and the fifteenth from the Assumption of the Blessed Mary, and preached the faith of Christ with all confidence.'
The king gave them an island on the borders of his country, surrounded by woods and thickets and marshes, called Yniswitrin. Two other kings in succession, though pagans, granted to each of them a portion of land: hence the Twelve Hides have their name to the present day. These saints were admonished by the archangel Gabriel to build a church in honour of the Blessed Virgin. They made it of twisted wattles, in the thirty-first year after the Lord's Passion and the fifteenth after the Assumption of the glorious Virgin. Since it was the first in that land, the Son of God honoured it by dedicating it to His Mother. 'Now that all this was so, we learn alike from the Charter of St Patrick and from the writings of the seniors. One of these, the historian of the Britons, as we have seen at St Edmund's and again at St Augustine's the Apostle of the English, begins as follows:
'There is on the boundary of western Britain a certain royal island. … Here the first neophytes of the Catholic law among the English found by God's guidance an ancient church, built, as it is said, by no human skill, but made ready by God for the salvation of men, which afterwards the Maker of the heavens … shewed that He had consecrated to Himself and to Mary the Holy Mother of God.'
After the death of the first settlers the place became a lair of wild beasts, until it pleased the Blessed Virgin that her oratory should come again to the remembrance of the faithful: which happened on this wise:
How St Phagan and St Deruvian converted the Britons to the faith, and came to the Isle of Avalon.
Annals of good authority record (Tradunt bonae credulitatis annates) that Lucius the king of the Britons sent to Pope Eleutherius asking for Christian teachers. So honourable a request deserves to be compared with the action of K. Ethelbert in later days, who hospitably received the Roman missionaries, though not himself prepared to accept their teaching. There came, then, these two holy men, Phagan and Deruvian, and preached the word in Britain in A.D. 166. When they came to the Isle of Avalon they found the church, 'built, as it is said, by the hands of the disciples of Christ and made ready by God for the salvation of men, which afterwards the Maker of the heavens … shewed that He had consecrated to Himself and to Mary the Holy Mother of God'. This was 103 years after the coming of the disciples of St Philip. St Phagan and St Dernvian remained here nine years. 'They found in ancient writings the whole story, how when the Apostles were dispersed throughout the world St Philip the Apostle came with a multitude of disciples to France and sent twelve of their number to preach in Britain. And these by the guidance of an angelic vision built that chapel which afterwards the Son of God dedicated in honour of His Mother; and to these twelve three kings, though pagans, granted for their sustenance twelve portions of land.'Accordingly St Phagan and St Deruvian chose twelve of their companions and settled them on the island. They dwelt as anchorites in the very spots where the first twelve had dwelt. 'Yet often they assembled at the Old Church (vetusta ecclesia) for the devout performance of divine worship. And just as three pagan kings had granted the island with its appendages to the first twelve disciples of Christ in days gone by, so Phagan and Deruvian sought from K. Lucius that the same should be confirmed to those their twelve companions and to others who should come after them. And in this way many others in succession, always keeping to the number twelve, dwelt in the island throughout all the years, until the coming of St Patrick the Apostle of the Irish. To this church also, which they had thus discovered, the holy neophytes added another oratory built of stone, which they dedicated to Christ and the holy Apostles Peter and Paul. By their work therefore was restored the Old Church of St Mary at Glastonbury. … There is also that written evidence of good credit, found at St Edmund's, to this effect: The church of Glastonbury did none other men's hands make, but actual disciples of Christ built it; being sent, to wit, by the Apostle St Philip, as was said above. Nor is this irreconcileable with truth: for if the Apostle Philip preached to the Gauls, as Freculfus says in the fourth chapter of his second book, it may be believed that he cast the seeds of his doctrine across the sea as well.'
We may here pause in our analysis in order to consider the authenticity of these first two sections of the book. Before calling in evidence from outside we may observe that the second section (beginning with the words 'Tradunt bonae credulitatis annales') tells a complete story which might well have stood as the opening chapter of the whole work. Placed where it is, it gives us over again almost all that has been said in the first section. There are indeed some differences: the island is called Avalon, whereas in the first section it is Yniswitrin: stress is laid on the twelve portions of land granted to the earliest settlers, but there is no explicit allusion to the Twelve Hides: and, most noticeable of all, Joseph of Arimathea is not mentioned at all. If William of Malmesbury's hand is to be discovered at all in this mass of legendary narrative, it is in this second section that we shall be inclined to begin to look for it.
Now the first of the Glastonbury insertions in the third edition of the Gesta Regum (pp. 23-9) is introduced thus:
But since we have touched upon the times of Kenewalch, and the question of the monastery of Glastonbury has come up for consideration, I will unfold the rise and progress of that church, so far as I shall be able to gather up the facts out of the mass of memorials, setting out the tale from the beginning.
This corresponds with the closing words of the Dedicatory Letter to Bishop Henry of Blois (De Antiq., p. 4): 'so far as I have been able to gather up the facts out of the mass of your (v. l. our) memorials '. Earlier in the same Letter we find the words 'the start and progress of that church', and the same Virgilian tag 'repetens ab origine pandam' (cf. Aen. i. 372). The insertion at once proceeds as follows:
Annals of good authority record that Lucius king of the Britons sent to Eleutherius, the thirteenth pope after the blessed Peter, with the prayer that he would enlighten the darkness of Britain by the light of Christian preaching. A high-souled king was he, who essayed a deed worthy of all praise, in that of his own accord he sought after a faith of which he had bvit heard, at a time when well-nigh all kings and peoples were persecuting the very offer of it.
These are the exact words which open the second section of the De Antiquitate in the form in which we now have it. They are there followed by a passage in which the magnanimity of K. Lucius is compared with the generosity of K. Ethelbert, who long afterwards offered a welcome to another band of missionaries from Rome. This passage is not quoted in G. R.3, but it is quite in William of Malmesbury's manner: it was however no more than a rhetorical patch. The next sentences in the two books run thus:
|Gesta Regum3, p. 23.||||De Antiquitate, pp. 8 f.|
|There came therefore by the sending of Eleutherius preachers to Britain, the effect of whose work will last for ever, though their names have perished through the long neglect of time.||There came therefore by the sending of Eleutherius, (as) preachers to Britain, these two most holy men, Phagan and Deruvian, even as is declared in the Charter of St Patrick and the Deeds of the Britons. |
|[After two pages of their doings we continue:]|
|The work of these men therefore was the Old Church of St Mary in Glastonbury, as antiquity has not failed faithfully to hand down through the ages of the past. There is also that written evidence of good credit found in certain places to this effect : The church of Glastonbury did none other men's hands make, but actual disciples of Christ built it.||By the work of these men therefore was the Old Church of St Mary in Glastonbury restored, as antiquity has not failed faithfully to hand down through the ages of the past. There is also that written evidence of good credit found at St Edmund's to this effect : The church of Glastonbury did none other men's hands make, but actual disciples of Christ built it ; being sent, to wit, by St Philip the Apostle, as was said above.|
|Nor is this irreconcileable with truth : for if the Apostle Philip preached to the Gauls, as Freculfus says in the fourth chapter of his second book, it may be believed that he cast the seeds of his doctrine across the sea as well. But lest I should seem to cheat the expectation of my readers by fanciful opinions, I will leave disputable matters and gird myself to the narration of solid facts.||Nor is this irreconcileable with truth : for if the Apostle Philip preached to the Gauls, as Freculfus says in the fourth chapter of his second book, it may be believed that he cast the seeds of his doctrine across the sea as well. [After the story of a monk of St Denys, and a legend about the island of Glastonbury, and a discussion of the meaning of its various names, the narrative proceeds:]|
|The church of which we speak …||The church of which indeed we speak …|
Here we have at the outset a notable discrepancy. The insertion in G. R.3 tells us that the names of the missionaries sent by Pope Eleutherus to K. Lucius are lost in the mists of antiquity. But in the De Antiquitate their names are given as Phagan and Deruvian, on the authority of the Charter of St Patrick and the Gesta Britannorum. Two alternative explanations of this discrepancy are open to us. We may suppose that William of Malmesbury came to mistrust the Charter of St Patrick which had been shown him at Glastonbury, and on second thoughts rejected its evidence altogether. Or we may suppose that the statement that the names of the missionaries were unknown is what he really wrote in the De Antiquitate; and that the Charter of St Patrick with all the information derived from it, was a later invention foisted into the original work.
Now William of Malmesbury does not elsewhere in his historical works refer to the mission sent by Eleutherus at the request of K. Lucius. He found it, of course, in the Chronicle (under A.D. 167), as also in Bede (H. E. i. 4 and Epit.), who probably got it from the Liber Pontificalis. He was on firm ground therefore when he spoke of ' annals of good authority '. But in none of these sources are the names of the missionaries given. Geoffrey of Monmouth, however, says (IV, § 19) that their names were Fagan and Duvian; and he adds the story of the twenty-eight flamens and three arch-flamens, who as the result of their mission were superseded by twenty-eight bishops and three archbishops. After him Giraldus Cambrensis (Descr. Cambr. i ad fin.) gives their names as Fagan and Damian. But neither of these writers brings the missionaries to Glastonbury.
In the Gesta Pontificum (p. 196) William of Malmesbury had expressed his view that the first founder of the monastery of Glastonbury was K. Ina, acting under the advice of St Aldhelm. A like statement is found in the first edition of his Gesta Regum (p. 35, note). But this does not prevent him from recognising that Glastonbury had long been a sacred spot and that St Patrick at the close of his Irish mission had died and was buried there. In the insertion into his third edition of the Gesta Regum he goes much further back, and brings the nameless missionaries of Pope Eleutherus to Glastonbury and makes them the builders of the Old Church of St Mary. He has indeed seen some evidence of a yet earlier origin—the building of the church by actual disciples of Christ. He will not deny the possibility of this; for, if St Philip came to Gaul as Freculfus says, he may well have sent some of his disciples across the sea to Britain. The reader, however, shall not be troubled further with matters of mere opinion.
This is a statement guarded enough, and not unworthy of a cautious historian who at the time of writing was enjoying the hospitality of the Glastonbury monks. But a few strokes of the pen turn it into something very different. The missionaries are identified as Phagan and Deruvian, of whom much may be learned from the Charter of St Patrick and the Gesta Britannorum. The addition of the single word 'restaurata' makes Phagan and Deruvian the restorers, not the builders, of the Old Church. The suggestion that its building by the actual disciples of Christ can be treated as mere matter of opinion is struck out.
We are at a loss to know what written evidence William of Malmesbury found for the statement that 'the church of Glastonbury did none other men's hands make, but actual disciples of Christ built it '. He found it, he says, 'in certain places' (in nonnullis locis). For these vague words the De Antiquitate gives us ' at St Edmund's ', and it adds a reference to an earlier mention of the missionaries sent by St Philip. When we turn back to the first section we read, after a long account of these missionaries: ' Now that all this was so, we learn alike from the Charter of St Patrick and from the writings of the seniors. One of these, the historian of the Britons (Britonum historiographus), as we have seen at St Edmund's and again at St Augustine's the Apostle of the English, begins as follows: There is on the boundary of western Britain a certain royal island. …' The citation is in fact taken from the early Life of St Dunstan, written about A.D. 1000 by the Saxon priest known only by his initial B. A copy of this work was, as William of Malmesbury tells us in his own Life of St Dunstan, placed in his hands by the monks of Glastonbury; so that in any case this could not be the writing to which he refers. Moreover what we are there told is that ' the first neophytes of the Catholic law found an ancient church, built, as it is said, by no human skill, but made ready from heaven for the salvation of man '. This is in direct conflict with the statement that it was built by actual disciples of Christ. Further, it is not likely that William of Malmesbury could have spoken of this book, as the writer of the first section does, as the work of Britonum historiographus. It is plain that we have here an ignorant attempt of some later writer to identify the work to which reference had been made.
We must now resume our analysis of the work as it stands, taking it up at the third section (p. 15).
How a certain monk of St Denys discoursed concerning Glastonbury.
The antiquity of the church is shown by the story of a Glastonbury monk named Godfrey, of the time when Henry of Blois was abbot, who visited the monastery of St Denys. 'We have taken both this and the chapter which we shall subjoin from a letter of his.' An old monk there told him that, while both their churches were known to have been dedicated by the Saviour Himself, Glastonbury had the further distinction of being called 'Roma secunda'.
How a multitude of folk first came to dwell at Glastonbury.
'In the ancient Deeds of the Britons we read that from the northern part of Britain there came to the West twelve brothers.' The last on the list is Glasteing. It was he who passing through the English of the Midlands followed his sow from Wells along the Sugewege and found her under an apple-tree near the Old Church. Here he settled with his family.
Of the various names of this Island.
The British name Yniszvitrin was translated by the English as Glastinbiry. Or we may take the derivation from Glasteing, as given above. Avallonia may come from avalla, the British word for apples; or from Avalloc, who retired here with his daughters.
Of these three sections the first betrays itself at once as later than the days of Henry of Blois. The other two with their mythological explanations are, in style as well as in substance, such as we could not easily imagine William of Malmesbury to have written. And in fact, if we omit them, the narrative runs on without a break, exactly as in the insertion in G. R.3
With what devotion divers saints came thither.
The church of which we speak was called by the English the Old Church. It was at first formed of wattles. Plain as it was, its fame was widespread, and pilgrims came from every quarter.
Of St Gildas.
Gildas the British historian (historicas) spent many years there. ' And there he died in a. d. 512, and was buried in the Old Church before the altar.'
With the exception of the last sentence, which is only found in the De Antiquitate, the narratives thus far are identical. What follows comes at a later point in the insertion in G. R.3 (p. 26).
Of St Patrick.
St Germanus of Auxerre, having come to the aid of the Britons against English invaders and Pelagian heretics, on his return took Patrick with him. Presently he sent him, by order of Pope Celestine, to preach in Ireland. When his work was done, he came to Glastonbury. There he found twelve brethren living as anchorites: he gathered them into a community and became their abbot, 'as the following writing, which he himself in his own day composed, manifestly declares.'
As far as the arrival of Glastonbury the two narratives run together (save that the insertion has two citations from the Chronicle): but in the insertion there is only added: 'and there he became monk and abbot, and after some years paid the debt of nature'. There is no mention of his Charter, which in the De Antiquitate now follows. It is so important for our argument, and in itself so interesting as marking a stage in the Glastonbury tradition, that it may be given here in full.
The Charter of St Patrick the Bishop.
'In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I Patrick, the humble servant of God, in the year of His Incarnation 430, was sent into Ireland by the most holy Pope Celestine, and by God's grace converted the Irish to the way of truth; and, when I had established them in the Catholic faith, at length I returned to Britain, and, as I believe, by the guidance of God, who is the life and the way, I chanced upon the isle of Ynsgytrin, wherein I found a place holy and ancient, chosen and sanctified by God in honour of Mary the pure Virgin, the Mother of God: and there I found certain brethren imbued with the rudiments of the Catholic faith, and of pious conversation, who were successors of the disciples of St Phagan and St Deruvian, whose names for the merit of their lives I verily believe are written in heaven: and because the righteous shall be in everlasting remembrance, since tenderly I loved those brethren, I have thought good to record their names in this my writing. And they are these: Brumban, Hyregaan, Brenwal, Wencreth, Bamtonmeweng, Adelwalred, Lothor, Wellias, Breden, Swelwes, Hin Loernius, and another Hin. These men, being of noble birth and wishing to crown their nobleness with deeds of faith, had chosen to lead a hermit's life; and when I found them meek and gentle, I chose to be in low estate with them, rather than to dwell in kings' palaces. And, since we were all of one heart and one mind, we chose to dwell together, and eat and drink in common, and sleep in the same house. And so they set me, though unwilling, at their head: for indeed I was not worthy to unloose the latchet of their shoes. And, when we were thus leading the monastic life according to the pattern of the approved fathers, the brothers showed me writings of St Phagan and St Deruvian, wherein it was contained that twelve disciples of St Philip and St James had built that Old Church in honour of our Patroness aforesaid, instructed thereto by the blessed archangel Gabriel. And further, that the Lord from heaven had dedicated that same church in honour of His Mother; and that to those twelve three pagan kings had granted for their sustenance twelve portions of land. Moreover in more recent writings I found that St Phagan and St Deruvian had obtained from Pope Eleutherius, who had sent them, ten years of indulgence. And I brother Patrick in my time obtained twelve years from Pope Celestine of pious memory.
'Now after some time had passed I took with me my brother Wellias, and with great difficulty we climbed up through the dense wood to the summit of the mount, which stands forth in that island. And when we were come there we saw an ancient oratory, wellnigh ruined, yet fitting for Christian devotion and, as it appeared to me, chosen by God. And when we entered therein we were filled with so sweet an odour that we believed ourselves to be set in the beauty of Paradise. So then we went out and went in again, and searched the whole place diligently; and we found a volume in which were written Acts of Apostles, along with Acts and Deeds of St Phagan and St Deruvian. It was in great part destroyed, but at the end thereof we found a writing which said that St Phagan and St Deruvian, by revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, had built that oratory in honour of St Michael the archangel, that he should have honour there from men, who at God's bidding was to introduce men to everlasting honour. And since that writing pleased us much, we sought to read it to the end. For that same writing said that the venerable Phagan and Deruvian abode there for nine years, and that they had also obtained indulgence of thirty years for all Christian folk who visit that place with pious intent for the honour of the blessed Michael. Having found therefore this great treasure of divine goodness, I and brother Wellias fasted three months, engaged in prayer and watching, and controlling the demons and beasts that in divers forms appeared. And on a certain night, when I had given myself to sleep, the Lord Jesus appeared to me in a vision, saying: Patrick my servant, know that I have chosen this place to the honour of My name, and that here men should honorably invoke the aid of My archangel Michael. And this shall be a sign to thee, and to thy brethren, that they also may believe: thy left arm shall wither, till thou has told what thou hast seen to thy brethren which are in the cell below, and art come hither again. And so it came to pass. From that day we appointed that two brethren should be there continually, unless the pastors in the future should for just cause determine otherwise.
'Now to Arnulf and Ogmar, Irish brethren who had come with me from Ireland, because at my request they were the first to make their humble dwelling at that oratory, I have entrusted this present writing, keeping another like unto it in the ark of St Mary as a memorial for those who shall come after. And I Patrick, by counsel of my brethren, concede a hundred days of pardon to all who shall with pious intent cut down with axe and hatchet the wood on every side of the mount aforesaid, that there may be an easier approach for Christian men who shall make pious visit to the church of the Blessed Ever- Virgin.'
That these things were truly so, we have proved by the testimony of a very ancient writing, as well as by the narratives of elder men. And so this saint aforesaid, who is the Apostle of the Irish and the first abbot in the Isle of Avalon, after he had duly instructed these brethren in rule and discipline, and had sufficiently enriched that place with lands and possessions by the gift of kings and princes, when some years were past yielded to nature, and had his rightful burial, by the showing of an angel, and by the flashing from the spot of a great flame in sight of all who were there present, in the Old Church on the right hand of the altar.
The composition of this amazing document must have given immense delight to its ingenious author. But we must turn away from its picturesque details, even from the charming touch which gives to neighbouring Wells an interest in the discovery of St Michael's chapel on the Tor: for there is nothing here to guide us to a date. Happily there is a business side to the rhapsody which may provide a clue. The isle of Glastonbury, Mother of the Saints, the Second Rome, had in virtue of this precious charter privileges of indulgence to offer to her pilgrims, worthy of her high antiquity and her divine consecration. Ten years—some said thirty—gained by St Phagan and St Deruvian from Pope Eleutherus; twelve more gained by St Patrick from Pope Celestine: while for those who made the toilsome ascent of the Tor St Phagan and St Deruvian had gained thirty more.
The question of Indulgences has been investigated by Dr. H. C. Lea in his great work on Auricular Confession. The earliest grant which he can point to as indisputably genuine is that made by Urban II at the dedication of the church of St Nicholas at Angers in a. d. 1096: it gave one month's relaxation of enjoined penance for the anniversary (Lea, iii. 141). At the dedication of Cluny in 1132 Innocent II granted 40 days for the anniversary (ibid. 145). Between these two dates, as I have shown elsewhere, may be confidently placed a grant by the papal legate, Peter of Cluny, to Westminster in 1121: this gave relaxation of 40 days of criminalia and a third of enjoined penance for minora to those who visited the church on the festival of the martyrdom of SS. Peter and Paul. A more substantial grant to the same church was made much later by Innocent IV (1243-54), namely, of a year and 40 days for the festival of St Edward. Turning back to Dr. Lea's list we find that in 1163 Alexander III, in dedicating S. Germain des Prés, granted a year on the actual occasion and 20 days for the anniversary. But all these grants fade into insignificance before the benefits provided by St Phagan and St Deruvian.
There is another road by which we may approach our problem. Hearne has printed in the appendix to his John of Glastonbury a list of charters existing among the abbey muniments in 1247. He has on p. 378 a heading which runs thus: 'Days of Indulgence for Glastonbury, of which we have not the charters, though we once had them '. This list is just what is needed to tell us what undoubted privileges Glastonbury claimed in the middle of the thirteenth century, a hundred years after William of Malmesbury's death. Though the monks could not show the charters, they were secure in the confirmation of all these days by a covering privilege of Pope Innocent III (1198-1216). The first was a grant by St Dunstan of 100 days: this doubtless was a forgery, but it had passed muster at Rome. The next is Lanfranc's grant of 30 days, which may well have been genuine. The next twelve do not rise in any instance above 40 days. Then Bishop Reginald of Bath grants 100 days, probably when he dedicated the chapel of St Mary at its restoration after the fire of 1184. His successor, Bishop Savary, who made himself abbot of Glastonbury, also granted 100 days. The list ends with Bishop Jocelin's grant of 30 days.
Thus much for genuine privileges, which are such as we might expect. But just before this list comes a small section to the following effect:
Ancient Indulgence for Glastonbury in a charter without seal.
Pope Eleutherius granted 10 years of Indulgence at the request of Phagan and Deruvian.
Pope Celestine granted 12 years at the request of St Patrick.
Item, SS. Phagan and Deruvian obtained 30 years. ¶ Torre.
We know whence these items come, and we are not surprised that no papal confirmation is claimed for them. We may even doubt whether the Charter of St Patrick which authorised them had seen the light at all in the lifetime of Pope Innocent III. Here at any rate is our earliest evidence of its existence. And this same document of 1247 mentions it again (p. 379), when under the heading Antiqua Privilegia it places by themselves the three great forgeries,
Magnum Privilegium Ynae regis
Privilegium Edgari regis
Carta Sancti Patrieii.
The great fire which consumed the abbey on St Urban's day, the 25th of May, 1184, was responsible for several wonderful discoveries at Glastonbury—among others the body of King Arthur. The sore distress of the monks under Bishop Savary's rule and their expensive efforts to regain their freedom after his death must have yet further quickened their imagination; and we may suppose that the 'very ancient writing', which St Patrick had providentially deposited in a safe hiding-place high up on the Tor, was a timely find for their empty purse.
Let us now draw together our reasons for thinking that William of Malmesbury had no knowledge of St Patrick's Charter, and that it was foisted into his work long after his death. In the first place we have seen that the third edition of his Gesta Regum, though it contains passages which appear in identical words in the De Antiquitate, makes no mention of the Charter or of any incidents for which the Charter is cited as an authority in this latter work in the form in which we now read it. Secondly, whereas the Charter gives the names of Phagan and Deruvian to the missionaries sent by Pope Eleutherus to K. Lucius, and these names now appear in those portions of the De Antiquitate which correspond to the insertions in G. R.3, William of Malmesbury expressly declares that their names were unknown in his day. Thirdly, the excessive terms of Indulgence granted in the Charter could hardly have suggested themselves to a forger of any time before William of Malmesbury wrote, and may with much more probability be referred to the period of strain through which the abbey passed in the early part of the thirteenth century. We may add to all this that the first positive indication of the existence of the Charter comes .to us from a record of the year 1247.
We go forward again with our analysis (p. 22).
Of St Patrick's decease.
St Patrick died in a. d. 472, in the 111th year of his age, and the 47th since his mission to Ireland. For in 361 he was born: in 425 sent to Ireland: in 433 he converted the Irish: after that he dwelt 39 years in the isle of Avalon. ' He rested in the Old Church on the right side of the altar for many ages, even 410 years, until the burning of that church.' He was buried in a stone pyramid, afterwards decked with gold and silver.
A Vision concerning St Patrick.
Long afterwards, when dispute arose concerning him, a monk received a vision which proved that he had been monk and abbot there.
Of St Indract and St Bridget.
Hence Irish pilgrims came to visit the spot. St Bridget dwelt long in the island of Beokery, and returning home left memorials of wonder-working power. St Indract and his companions were martyred, as elsewhere we have told, and afterwards brought by K. Ina to the church of Glastonbury.
Of St Benignus.
In a. d. 460 came St Benignus, the third successor of St Patrick in his Irish bishopric. He found St Patrick still there. There are still memorials of his miracles at Feringemere (Meare), where he rested till his translation to Glastonbury in 1091.
Of St Columkill.
In A.D. 504 St Columkill came; but it is uncertain whether he died there.
The first three sections are attested by the insertion in G. R.3G. R.3, though with a few variations. In the first section the mention of the fire of 1184 shows that the story has been worked over. The items given under the dates 425 and 433 appear in G. R.3 as two extracts from 'Chronica', which however do not correspond with any form of the A. S. Chron. that we know. The date of St Bridget is an amplification, as also is the statement that she resided in 'the island of Beokery'. Beokery, as we shall be told later, means 'Little Ireland'.
The information here given as to St Benignus is not in G. R.3, save for a brief sentence as to his miracles. But what G. R.3 does give us corresponds with what comes much later in De Antiquitate (p. 46). The little section on St Columkill is also wanting in G. R.3, which goes on to speak of St David.
Of St David the Archbishop.
In what reverence the place was held by the great St David, archbishop of the Menevensians, is well known. He came with his seven bishops, thinking to consecrate the church. At night the Lord appeared to him and warned him that He Himself had dedicated it in honour of His Mother. As a sign He pierced his hand, but promised that it should be healed when in the morrow's mass he should reach the words ' by Him and with Him and in Him So then he quickly built another church, and consecrated that.
Of the Relics of St David.
St David died in a. d. 546. Some say that he was laid with St Patrick in the Old Church; and this is supported by the pilgrims from Wales, who declare that Bernard, bishop of Rosina Vallis, sought him elsewhere in vain. But how his remains came from Rosina Vallis to Glastonbury we will explain. A matron in K. Edgar's time, named Ælswitha, obtained them through a kinsman who was bishop there, when the land was so laid waste that almost all deserted it; and she bestowed them upon Glastonbury.
Of Relics brought from Wales to Glastonbury.
Welsh pilgrims, on the way to visit Rome, deposited bodies of their saints and other relics at Glastonbury. This translation of St David took place in A.D. 962.
The first of these sections occurs in full in G. R.3 In the second the date is an amplification, as is the mention of Rosina Vallis in connexion with Bishop Bernard's name. So also is the story about iElswitha. The third section is not in G. R.3, which passes on to speak of the mission of St Augustine. What follows in the De Antiquitate is found much earlier in G. R.3 (p. 24).
Of the sanctity and dignity of the church of Glastonbury.
This church, then, of all I know in England is the most ancient: hence its name. The place is crowded with the bodies of saints. Under the pavement, above and beneath the altars, relics are everywhere. Rightly is it called the heavenly sanctuary on earth and the depository of saints. Happy are they who dwell there! Who shall fail of heaven, with patrons such as these to plead their cause? So sacrosanct is the place that none dare profane it, none swear falsely by it. The truth of this finds its support in testimonies of every age.
This rhetorical section is the same in both our documents, save for slight displacements. In what follows we go on to p. 28 of G. R.3
Of St Paulinus the Bishop.
To return to my subject, St Patrick's birth in A.D. 361 preceded St Augustine's coming by 236 years. Paulinus the companion of the latter, when bishop of Rochester after having been archbishop of York, is said to have covered the wattled church with wooden planks and roofed it with lead.
Of the Translation of St Indract and his companions.
Some years afterwards K. Ina translated the bodies of St Indract and his companions from the place of their martyrdom to the church of Glastonbury.
Of the Relics brought to Glastonbury from the land of the Northumbrians.
Still later, when the Danes were ravaging Northumbria, a certain abbot Tica took refuge at Glastonbury, and was made abbot there in A.D. 754. He brought with him relics of St Aidan, and the bodies of Ceolfrid, Benedict [Biscop] and other abbots of Wearmouth; also of Bede the Presbyter and Abbess Hilda. He himself was buried in the right-hand corner of the greater church, near the entrance to the Old Church.
The section on Paulinus is in G. R.3, but without the date, and with no mention of the roofing with lead. The next section corresponds to a portion of the second insertion in G. R.3, under the reign of K. Ina (p. 36).
The section on the Northumbrian saints is not found in G. R.3 William of Malmesbury's opinion wavered on this matter. In the Gesta Pontificum (p. 198), writing about Glastonbury, he says that K. Edmund, when on his northern expedition, sent these relics—namely, Hilda and Ceolfrid and part of the bones of Aidan. But in the first edition of his Gesta Regum (p. 56) he speaks of the destruction of Whitby by the Danes, and says that bones of Aidan and Hilda were removed to Glastonbury: in the third edition he adds at this point 'Ceolfrid' and 'many others', together with the words: 'as I have said in the book which I have lately put forth on the Antiquity of the church of Glastonbury'. Again, on p. 60 of the first edition he says that Ceolfrid's bones together with Hilda's were taken to Glastonbury at the time of the Danish invasion: here there is no change in the third edition. In speaking of St Indract on p. 36 of G. R.3, he says in passing: 'with whom the care of a later age laid the blessed Hilda'. In the first book of his Life of St Dunstan he had promised to tell how these northern saints came to Glastonbury, if he were permitted to complete his book on the Antiquity of the church of Glastonbury.
We may perhaps conclude that he abandoned the view that K. Edmund brought them in favour of a translation at the time of the Danish invasion; but, since Abbot Tica's name is not mentioned in G. R.3, we cannot be confident that is not a later interpolation.
We now come to a solid block of the De Antiquitate which has no attestation at all in the third edition of the Gesta Regum, and is certainly not from the pen of William of Malmesbury. It extends over thirteen pages of Hearne's edition (pp. 30-42), and it will be unnecessary to give an analysis of it here. It will suffice to say that the first section, which is headed 'Of Divers Relics stored at Glastonbury', repeats much that has been said before and adds many new names after the manner of a catalogue; makes reference to the translation of St Dunstan, of which it promises to give a full account; and ends by saying that 'amongst us' (apud nos) there is not a complete knowledge of the many saints who are buried here. The remainder of this great interpolation is mainly taken up with an elaborate narrative of the finding of St Dunstan's body when Canterbury was laid desolate by the Danes, their removal to Glastonbury where they lay hidden for more than a century and a half, and finally their happy discovery after the great fire of 1184. This is followed by short sections on three wonder-working Crosses and an image of the Virgin which miraculously escaped the fire. Finally, we have a section 'On the Altar of St David, which is commonly called the Sapphire': if we could have any doubt as to the date of this, it would be removed by the last sentence which speaks of Henry, bishop of Winchester, 'of pious memory'. After this interlude we find ourselves again with William of Malmesbury, though at first only for a single sentence.
Of the Nobles buried at Glastonbury.
How venerable was this church to the great ones of the land, and how desirable as a resting-place, is shown by many proofs with which I will not weary my readers.
This has occurred at an earlier point in G. R.3 (p. 25). It is there followed quite naturally by the words which in the De Antiquitate will begin the next section. The present section is filled out by a series of examples which the writer says he will pass over (praetermitto … praetermitto etiam … taceo …). The first of these examples is K. Arthur, of whom a good deal is here said. Yet William of Malmesbury declares in Gesta Regum (II, p. 342) that his grave is unknown, and recounts no more about him than the little that he found in Nennius: he has no use for 'Britonum nugae' (G. R. I, p. 11 ).
Of the Two Pyramids.
That which is almost wholly unknown would I gladly tell, if I could shape out the truth of it: namely, the meaning of those pyramids which stand at a few feet from the Old Church in the cemetery of the monks. The nearest to the church is twenty-six feet high, and has a number of names, which perhaps may refer to persons buried beneath. The second is eighteen feet high, and on it can be read 'Hedde episcopus', 'Bregored' and 'Beoruuard'. The last of these was abbot after Hemgisl. Of these abbots, and of the whole series of abbots and what gifts they obtained for the abbey from various kings, we propose from this point onward to speak in detail.
The whole of this section is in G. R.3 (p. 25), where it is followed by: 'And first of the blessed Patrick, from whom the series takes its start'. The story of Patrick we have had at a much earlier point in the De Antiquitate (pp. 18 ff.). But the sequence in G. R.3 commends itself as far more natural, and more in harmony with the author's declared purpose of proving that St Dunstan was by no means the first abbot of Glastonbury. It was the Canterbury Chanter's error on this point that had moved the historian to write his Enquiry into the Antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury.
We must carry our analysis a little further, until we come to K. Coenwalch and the Saxon charters and so reach the point at which our documentary evidence begins.
Of Kings, Abbots, and other Founders of the Church of Glastonbury set out in order.
First it is to be remembered that the twelve disciples of St Philip and St James. …. Then next St Phagan and St Deruvian. … Then long afterwards St Patrick. … To him succeeded St Benignus: his epitaph was inscribed on his tomb at Ferremere. Then followed British abbots, whose names are lost, save only three—Worgret, Lademund and Bregored.
Of this only the portion dealing with St Benignus is in G. R.3: the rest has been said too often already, except the last sentence which anticipates what is to come.
Of the Illustrious Arthur.
It is told in the Deeds of K. Arthur how he lost a young knight who slew three giants on the Mount of Frogs, otherwise called Brent Knoll, and in sorrow gave this hill to the abbey of Glastonbury.
After all that we have learned of the interpolations in the De Antiquitate we shall not be disposed to attribute this section to William of Malmesbury. But the next section appears in G. R.3 (pp. 28 f.).
Of the land of Yneswitrin, given to Glastonbury in the time of the English who were converted to the Faith.
In A.D. 601 a king of Domnonia granted to the Old Church which was situated there the land called Yneswitrin, at the request of Abbot Worgret, namely five hides. ' I, Mauron the bishop, wrote this charter. I, Worgret, abbot of the same place, have subscribed it.' Who that king was the age of the document prevents us from knowing. That he was a Briton may be gathered from his calling Glastonbury Yneswitrin. Worgret, whose name sounds British, was succeeded by Lademund; and he by Bregored. Their dates are unknown, but their names are shown by a painting in the great church. Bregored was succeeded by Berthwald.
The strange and apparently inconsistent mention of the conversion of the English which is found in the title is perhaps explained when we find in G. R.3, after the date A.D. 610, the additional words: 'that is, in the fifth year of the coming of the blessed Augustine'. It is plain that William of Malmesbury had seen what purported to be the charter of a British king, whose name could no longer be read: but of this charter we have no further knowledge. In favour of its early date may at any rate be pleaded that it speaks only of five hides, and not of twelve. The next section deals with K. Coenwalch and Abbot Beorhtwald, and is found with some modifications in G. R.3. It closes the first insertion in the third edition of the Gesta Regum, bringing us back to the times of K. Coenwalch, whose name had led the historian to introduce the subject of Glastonbury. The succession of the English abbots which begins at this point must be treated in a separate essay.
When we come to sum up the results of our investigation, we recall in the first place the sharp difference between William of Malmesbury's assertion that the names of the missionaries sent by K. Lucius were lost in the mists of the past, and the frequency with which St Phagan and St Deruvian meet us in the opening sections and at later points in the De Antiquitate as we read it to-day. We remember also that, whereas he attributed to the labour of these missionaries the building of the Old Church at Glastonbury, the De Antiquitate says that by their labour the church was restored, its original building being assigned to actual disciples of the Lord. Moreover we have seen reason for believing that the Charter of St Patrick, on which the De Antiquitate, as we have it, relies for the information which thus directly contradicts the statements of William of Malmesbury, was not known to the historian, and indeed cannot reasonably be supposed to have been written till many years after his death.
The account which William of Malmesbury, in the great insertion in the third edition of his Gesta Regum, has given us of the earliest history of Glastonbury is exceedingly cautious. 'Annals of good authority' tell of missionaries sent into Britain by Pope Eleutherus at the request of K. Lucius. Their names we do not know, but tradition assures us that they built the Old Church of St Mary at Glastonbury. There are indeed writings which take it back still further to actual disciples of Christ: and this is not impossible; for, if Freculfus was right in saying that St Philip the Apostle preached in Gaul, he may have sent some of his followers across the sea.
It is not conceivable that the man who wrote this non-committal statement, almost all the words of which are found embodied in the second section of the De Antiquitate, could have written only a few years before the remaining portion of that section or any part at all of the first section as it now stands. The words 'Tradunt bonae credulitates annales' form a perfectly adequate opening to an Enquiry into the Antiquity of the Church of Glastonbury. The writer courteously refers to the traditional accounts of the origin of the church, but he is anxious to get forward as quickly as possible to the declared purpose of his work. He has been irritated by the monstrous assertion of Osbern, the late precentor of Canterbury, that the first abbot of Glastonbury was St Dunstan in the tenth century. His examination of the abbey muniments has provided him with record evidence, as we call it to-day, of at least nineteen earlier abbots of the English line alone; he has found the names of three British abbots before their time; and the grave of St Patrick, still visited by Irish pilgrims, leads him to accept the local belief that the hermits who for many generations had dwelt in the neighbourhood of the Tor were first gathered into community by the Apostle of the Irish. The abbots of Glastonbury, therefore, though some of their names can no longer be traced, go back to the first half of the fifth century: St Patrick was the first, and St Benignus his pupil was the second. We may question this to-day, if we will, as Ralph Higden questioned it in the fourteenth century, and suppose that there has been some confusion with a later Patrick. But if we had lived in William of Malmesbury's time, and seen St Patrick's tomb with the Irish pilgrims kneeling round it, and had copied the epitaph of St Benignus at Meare, and visited St Bridget's chapel at Beokery, or Little Ireland, and seen her wallet and her distaff, we should have been sceptical indeed had we accused the historian of excessive credulity.
It was left to a later age to take over St Phagan and St Deruvian from Geoffrey of Monmouth or Giraldus Cambrensis, and to invent the Charter of St Patrick which brought them to Glastonbury and made them not only restore the Old Church of St Mary, but also build the chapel of St Michael on the Tor. It was left to a later age still to appropriate the story of Joseph of Arimathea and the legend of the Holy Grail.
Our conclusion is that the whole of the opening portion of the De Antiquitate as William of Malmesbury wrote it, down to the point at which he begins to treat of the English abbots and the evidence of early charters, is substantially preserved for us in the first and longest insertion which we find in the third edition of the Gesta Regum. Guided by the context and the style, we have no hesitation in adding to this what we have called a rhetorical patch in which he compares the generous action of K. Lucius with that of K. Ethelbert in later days. It is just possible that he may have omitted for the sake of brevity another sentence here or there, and that the order of the narrative may have been changed: but I do not think that this is so. I venture to submit that in this great insertion into the Gesta Regum, when we have replaced a single passage, we have the genuine form of the first part of the De Antiquitate. And I would ask any scholar who inclines to question this verdict to set himself the task of translating into English the first few sections of the book as it stands. He will find that his pen runs easily enough as he renders the dull and unidiomatic Latin of the later writers, but that he will have to pause and think before he can do justice to the cultivated and ambitious style of the great historian. It was in fact an attempt to translate the book, which so far as I know has never been presented to English readers, that awoke my own suspicions in regard to several sections which I had been prepared to leave unchallenged. It is dangerous to argue from style alone, and therefore I have left this observation to the last: but the contrast is so marked that I feel no hesitation in adducing it in corroboration of a conclusion reached on other grounds.
Additional Note.—I have spoken throughout of 'the third edition' of the Gesta Regum. Bishop Stubbs followed earlier scholars in recognising three classes of the MSS, and he designated them as A, B, and C. The A MSS represent the original form of the work. In the B and C MSS there are certain changes which show a tendency to soften some of the harsher judgements of the earlier text. Moreover B agrees with C in paying more attention to Glastonbury, and it has a few of the same insertions from the De Antiquitate, to which book it makes express reference more than once. The whole of the first insertion, with which we have been concerned above, is absent from the B MSS; but at the point at which this insertion comes in C there is a slight deviation in B from the A text; and such deviations occur, as Bishop Stubbs points out, wherever an insertion comes in C and not in B. I must refer to Bishop Stubbs's Introduction to the Gesta Regum (I, lviii ff.) for a statement of the main differences between B and C. With evident unwillingness he decides to follow his predecessors in making B the second and C the third edition. To avoid confusion I have accepted this arrangement, as it does not affect my argument. But I should wish to record the impression which a study of the various readings in his apparatus criticus has left on my mind. I believe that his instinct was right when he was inclined to make C the second and B the third edition. I should add, however, that the B recension was not due to the historian himself, but was the work of a later editor who had no special interest in Glastonbury, and perhaps even disliked the exceptional prominence given to it. I would invite future students of the problem to observe how frequently throughout the Gesta Regum the changes made in the B edition are tiresome verbal emendations, quite unlikely to have proceeded from the pen of the author himself. I give this only as an impression, but I would point out that this solution would relieve us from the difficulty of supposing that William of Malmesbury having made these Glastonbury insertions in C should afterwards have produced a new edition (B) in which he struck nearly all of them out: for it assigns to him two editions only (A and C), and refers B to a later editor.
- Ussher, Britannicarum Ecclesiarum Antiquitates, c. iv (ed. 1687, pp. 27 f.).
- Ibid., c. iii (p. 13).
- Trin. Coll. Camb. MS 724 (in Dr. James's Catalogue), f. 20 b.
- Thomas Parne was fellow of Trinity College in 1720, and University Librarian from 1734 to 1751.
- The Trinity College MS is of the middle of the thirteenth century: it is fully described in Dr. M. R. James's Catalogue, ii. 198 ff. Besides the two historical pieces it contains a miscellaneous collection of Glastonbury notes and charters. Hearne's 'M' is now in the British Museum (Addit. MS 22934). This is a similar miscellany: the De Antiq. is followed immediately by Adam of Domerham's history, and the narrative is brought down to 1307, which is not far from the date of the manuscript. In Vesp. D 22 (xiv-xv) portions of the De Antiq. are found with other matter, some of which appears also in John of Glastonbury. Mention may here be made of what Ussher (loc. cit., p. 36) speaks of as 'Glastoniense Chronicon anno 1259 conscriptum'. This is Cleop. C 10, a paper MS which contains in a completer form the fragment (Addit. Bodl. II D 11 [xiii] ) described by Hardy, Cat. of MSS. iii. 150.
- The mistake goes back at least as far as Pits (cited by Hearne, Ad. of Dom. I, p. xv), who speaks of the Liber Antiquitatum Glasconiae. In Vesp. D 22 the Dedicatory Letter is followed, after a gap of a page and a half, by the rubric: 'Incipiunt antiquitates monasterii Glastonie, quomodo xii discipuli sanctorum Philippi et Jacobi,' &c. And John of Glastonbury in his prologue (p. 6) speaks of William of Malmesbury as having recorded 'nostra cronica et antiquitates ab adventu sancti Josephi'.
- De Antiq., p. 71.
- Ibid., pp. 2 ff.
- Mem. of St Dunstan, pp. 271, 288.
- De Antiq., pp. 4 f. So large a quotation has been given at the outset in order that a reader who is familiar with the artistic style of William of Malmesbury may consider whether such writing as this is likely to have come from his pen. It is tempting to attach a running criticism to this analysis; but it will be better to reserve what has to be said to a later point.
- De Antiq., pp. 6 f. The quotation is from the Life of St Dunstan by the Saxon priest B: Memorials of St Dunstan (Rolls S.), pp. 6 f.
- An ancient hand has written in the margin: 'For this chapter see the whole of the fourth book and most of the fifth of the Brute (Chronicle).' Another early hand adds a note on Joseph of Arimathea and his son Josephes, referring to the Deeds of K. Arthur, and mentioning Lancelot of the Lake, the Round Table, and the Holy Grail.
- De Antiq., p. 9. Observe the repetition of the words quoted on p. 6 from the Life of St Dunstan, and the substantial alteration made in this latter place.
- We seem to have here an earlier and more guarded form of the legend than in the first section. St Patrick's Charter has been used, but Joseph of Arimathea has not yet come on the scene.
- In the margin is a long insertion by a later hand, with the first part of which should be compared the prologue of John of Glastonbury. It deals with Ralph Higden's errors concerning the two Patricks, and then goes on to give an outline of the life of the great St Patrick.
- It will be convenient to speak of this edition as G. R.3
- The little Glastonbury Chronicle of 1259, referred to above in the note on p. 3, makes Fagan and Deruvian found a bishopric for Somerset with its seat at Congresbury: it goes on, as in the Wells 'Historiola' (Camd. Soc, Ecclesiastical Documents, p. 10), to bring the bishopric to Wells under Bishop Daniel in K. Ina's time.
- Gesta Pontif., p. 197.
- Mem. of St Dunstan, pp. 6 f., and 252. The citation is not exact, but in general it follows the text of cod. B of the Life. The word Anglorum, used of the 'first neophytes' in De Antiq., c. i, is not in the original.
- See above, p. 9.
- Others read 'thirty years'.
- Flete, History of Westminster Abbey, Introd., p. 21.
- See below, p. 46.
- It is interesting to find here the more modest reading—10 years, not 30 years.
- That is, for the chapel of St Michael on the Tor.
- It certainly found no place in the ancient Register of the end of the tenth century, called the Liber Terrarum (for which see below, p. 44).
- The text has '901': but he was translated by Abbot Turstin, as we learn later (p. 113); and John of Glast. (p. 172) gives '1091'.
- Avalon is not found in G. R.3
- There is something parallel in E under 430: D is wanting at this point.
- A small island in Wexford harbour bears the same name—Begerin or Begery. A monastery was founded there by St Ibar, and in the Life of that saint it is translated 'Parva Hibernia' (P. W. Joyce, Irish Names of Places, ii. 415 f.).
- These words come in the Canon of the Mass after the Consecration and before the Lord's Prayer, in the clause 'Nobis quoque peccatoribus'. The corresponding passage in our Prayer Book is: 'Not weighing our merits, but pardoning our offences; through Jesus Christ our Lord, by whom and with whom in the unity', &c.
- Bernard was bishop of St David's 1115–47. 'Rosina Vallis' does not appear in W. of M. as an alternative to Menevia.
- Instead of 'antiquissima' G. R.3 reads 'vetustissima', which explains the words, 'hence its name ', sc. ecclesia vetusta.
- This sentence comes on p. 25 of G. R.3, and the next two on p. 29: what follows is on p. 24 f.
- The text has 'testimonio'; but the MSS show that this is a misprint for 'testimonia'.
- Mem. of St Dunstan, p. 271.
- The story of the Cross which said: 'Now too late, Aylsi' is definitely placed after the fire by John of Glastonbury (p. 139).