King Alfred had translated the "Pastoral care of Pope Gregory," a work held in great veneration in England; in the preface to this work Alfred makes mention of the Archbishop as one of his instructors in the Latin tongue, and goes on to say that he was incited to translate the work into English because the Churches which had contained numerous libraries had, together with their books, been burnt by the Danes; and that he designed to transmit the book transcribed by his order to every See with a golden style in which was a mancus of gold and that there was nothing of his own opinion inserted therein; but that everything was derived from those celebrated men Plegmund, Archbishop of Canterbury, Asser the Bishop, Grimbald and John the Priests. Archbishop Plegmund is said to have written part of the Saxon Chronicle himself; Asser was a monk of St. David's and Bishop of Sherborne, he wrote King Alfred's biography; Grimbald was Abbot of St. Omer's; and John of Corvey was a Saxon from Old Saxony, who had been invited into England by the King.
In 901 King Alfred died and Plegmund crowned his son, Edward the Elder, at Kingston-on-Thames. In 908 he consecrated the new Cathedral of Winchester. He made a second journey to Rome that year to regularize his own consecration and to obtain sanction to subdivide the sees of Wessex. On his return he brought with him the relics of the Blessed Martyr Blasius (see pp. 37 and 38), which he had bought for a great sum or gold and silver and placed them in his Cathedral Church.
The most memorable action of the Archbishop was the consecration of seven Bishops in one day; that was in the year 909.
William of Malmesbury, in his Gesta Regum, states that this took place in 904, and that it was occasioned by the whole of Wessex having been without any bishop for seven years on account of the continual state of warfare in the country. This coming to the knowledge of the Pope, Sergius III (904-911) (though Malmesbury calls him Formosus, who had died in 896), he is supposed to have threatened to send an excommunication against the King for his laxity in failing to appoint Bishops.
Plegmund is stated by Malmesbury to have thereupon called a
- William of Malmesbury, Gesta Regum.
- Gervase, Act. Pont. Cant., p. 1644.