Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ethelnoth

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847112Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 18 — Ethelnoth1889William Hunt

ETHELNOTH, ÆTHELNOTH, Lat. EGELNODUS or EDNODUS (d. 1038), archbishop of Canterbury, son of Æthelmær the Great, ealdorman of the western shires (Flor. Wig.), the friend of Ælfric [q.v.] the Grammarian, and grandson of Æthelweard [q. v.] the historian, and so a member of the royal house of Wessex, was first a monk of Glastonbury, and then dean of the monastery of Christ Church, Canterbury, and a chaplain of Cnut. He was raised to the see of Canterbury as the successor of Lyfing, and was consecrated at Canterbury by Wulfstan, archbishop of York, on 13 Nov. 1020; the announcement of Wulfstan that he had obeyed the king's writ for the consecration is still extant (Kemble, Codex Dipl. 1314). Æthelnoth was much beloved, and was called ‘the Good’ (A.-S. Chron., Worcester and Abingdon, an. 1038). He went to Rome for his pall, and obtained it on 7 Oct. from Benedict VIII, who received him with honour. On his journey homewards he gave a hundred ‘talents’ of silver and a ‘talent’ of gold for an arm of St. Augustine of Hippo which he bought at Pavia, and presented to the abbey of Coventry. The good influence he exercised over Cnut, his consecration of Gerbrand to the see of Roskild in 1022, when he also consecrated bishops of Fionia and Scania, and the fact that Cnut addressed his famous letter to his people to him and the Archbishop of York, are noticed in the article on the king's life [see Canute]. He restored and beautified his church, which suffered much during the Danish invasions, and translated thither from St. Paul's the body of his martyred predecessor, Ælfheah, with great ceremony in June 1023, taking up the body on the 8th and depositing it in Christ Church on the 15th, in the presence of the king, of the queen, and her son, Harthacnut, and of a multitude of great men, lay and clerical (A.-S. Chron., Worcester; Osbern). It is asserted that Harold, after he had been chosen king, tried to persuade Æthelnoth to crown him, and that the archbishop, who supported the claim of Harthacnut, refused to do so on the ground that it would be acting unfaithfully towards the late king, and laid the crown and sceptre on the altar, declaring that he would neither give nor refuse them, that Harold might seize them if he dared, but that he would crown none but a son of Emma (Enc. Emmæ, iii. l). The story is doubtful (Norman Conquest, i. 541). Æthelnoth died on 29 Oct. 1038. The Worcester chronicler gives a remarkable notice of the love men had for him, for after the notice of his death he tells how Æthelric, the bishop of the South-Saxons, asked of God ‘that he would not let him live no while after his beloved father, Æthelnoth, and within seven nights he eke passed away.’ Æthelnoth has a place in the calendar.

[Anglo-Saxon Chron. ann. 1020, 1038 ; FIorenco of Worcester, ann. 1020, 1031 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Symeon of Durham, cols. 177, 180, Gervase Act. Pontiff. col. 1650, Twysden; William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum, pp. 308, 313 (Engl. Hist. Soc.); Gesta Pontiff. pp 311, 390 (Rolls Ser.); Encomium Emmæ, iii. l, in Pertz; Osbern's Vita S. Elphegi, Anglia Sacra, ii. 143; Freeman's Norman Conquest, i. 487, 541; Hook's Archbishops of Cant. i. 477 sq.; Wright's Biog. Lit. (Anglo-Saxon), p. 509.]

W. H.