Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Leofric of Bourne

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1435442Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 33 — Leofric of Bourne1893Mary Bateson

LEOFRIC of Bourne (fl. 1100) is said to have written a life of Hereward [q. v.] in English. The sole authority for this statement is the anonymous writer of the ‘Gesta Herewardi,’ whose work is a tissue of legends and romances constructed in order to magnify the name of his hero. It is found on f. cccxx. sqq. of the ‘Cartulary of Peterborough Abbey,’ which now belongs to Peterborough Cathedral Library, and was compiled in the end of the thirteenth and beginning of the fourteenth centuries. The writer of the ‘Gesta’ states that he gathered facts from men who were living in Hereward's time, and if this were so he must have lived in the first half of the twelfth century. The English work of Leofric the deacon, Hereward's chaplain (presbyter) at Bourne (Brun), was his chief source, and he says Leofric was fond of collecting for the edification of his hearers all the acts of giants and warriors out of the fables of the ancients, or from faithful report, and of committing these to writing. Leofric was one of Hereward's chosen followers, and, although a monk, he was skilled in arms. He is praised for his astuteness in carrying out a plan for the release of Hereward when on his way from Bedford to Rockingham in the custody of Robert de Horepol.

The account of Hereward's career given in the ‘Gesta’ resembles rather that of the pseudo-Ingulph than that of the ‘Liber Eliensis’ (cf. Freeman, Norm. Conq. iv. 455, and note O O).

[Gaimar's Lestorie des Engles, ed. Hardy and Martin (Rolls Ser.), 1888, i. 339; Gesta Herewardi, pp. 373, 383, 402; see art. Hereward.]

M. B.