Worcester

The first few posts will be re-posts of things I had put elsewhere,: in effect I am just trying to compile what I’ve already written before I write any new mini-biographies etc!

I thought I’d have the first proper post be about a passage from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles relating to my home county of Worcestershire (and the city) that I find particularly interesting (pictures taken from the internet of the Cathedral, I didn’t have any of my own taking up room anywhere)

1041: “Here Harthacnut had all Worcestershire raided on account of his two housecarls who were collecting the formidable tax when that people killed them within the market-town, inside the minster. And soon in that year came from beyond the sea Edward, his brother on the mother’s side – King Aethelred’s son, who had been driven from his country many years earlier, and yet was sworn in as king; and then he dwelled thus in his brother’s court as long as he lived. And also in this year Harthacnut betrayed Earl Eadwulf under his safe-conduct – and then he was a pledge breaker.”

Florence of Worcester (d.1118) names the two huscarls as Feader and Thurstan, and wrote that they were killed on 4 May after fleeing to an upper room of a tower in the monastery at Worcester. But why did the people of Worcester kill two of the king’s men? It appears that they took exception to paying a tax that was levied to expand the navy of a Danish king.

Harthacnut was understandably a tad peeved by this show of defiance, so he sent a military force to collect what was owed. The town’s people fled to the island of Bevere some two miles up river, which they fortified and were subsequently besieged on. An agreement was only reached after Harthacnut’s men sacked the city and then set it alight (say what you will of today’s taxes, at least the bailiffs won’t light your house on fire).

And as for the Edward mentioned? Well that was none other than Edward the Confessor, who would reign from 1042-1066 following his half-brother’s (by Emma of Normandy) death. Worcester was the site of a late Anglo-Saxon mint which, during Edward’s reign, had seven moneyers.

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