Page:St. Oswald and the Church of Worcester.djvu/46

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42
ST OSWALD AND

Fleury had been reformed about 930, that is twenty years after the foundation of Cluny, and by Odo the second abbot of Cluny: it had, however, retained its independence, and did not come under the Cluniac system of control. It is possible that, as later writers assert, Oda only received his habit thence when he was raised to the see of Canterbury, in 942. Dunstan's great work at Glastonbury was then only beginning; but, by the time that Oswald decided to become a monk, Glastonbury was well under way, and he might have joined Dunstan and Ethelwold there, in the home of the native movement of reform. Had he been of Wessex stock he would probably have done so: but the nephew of the Danish Oda was guided by his uncle's prepossession to Fleury; and hence is to be explained the influence exercised by that foreign house upon a part at least of the revived monasticism of England.

We may now gather together such other notices of Archbishop Oda as are to be found in pre-Conquest sources. It will be convenient to begin with the Lives of St Dunstan.

1. In the Life written by the Saxon priest B, about the year 1000, Oda is mentioned twice. First we have the well-known story that on Edwy's coronation day the boy-king left the royal banquet for the company of two women of high birth, a mother and a daughter, who were designing to entrap him into a marriage with one or other of them. The archbishop, observing the displeasure of the nobles, sent Abbot Dunstan and Bishop Kynesige, Dunstan's kinsman, to bring him back to the royal feast. They found him seated between the two women, the crown lying on the ground. Dunstan forced him away from them, placed the crown on his head, and brought him back to the nobles. The wrath of Æthelgifu, the elder of the women, drove Dunstan into exile.[1]

Oda is again mentioned when his death is recorded, and the tale is told of his successor Ælfsin, the bishop of Winchester, that he perished of cold in the Alps when on his way to Rome to fetch his pall. But nothing is said of Ælfsin's contemptuous reproach of Oda, nor indeed is he discredited in any way.[2]

2. Adelard, in his Life of St Dunstan (c. 1010), speaks of Oda only in connexion with Dunstan's consecration to the see of Worcester. The archbishop, he says, omitting mention of the title of the church to which Dunstan was appointed, to the amazement of all assigned him by title to the Metropolitan Church of Christ at Canterbury. To those who humbly remonstrated he replied: 'I know, beloved, what

  1. Memorials of St Dunstan, ed. Stubbs, p. 32.
  2. Ibid., p. 37.