Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
QUEENS OF ENGLAND
BEFORE THE NORMAN CONQUEST.
TAGGARD & THOMPSON,
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
QUEENS OF CWICHELME, KYNIGILS, AND CENWALCH.
The child Ebba's adventures—She enters a convent—Marries Cwichelme—Seeks the court of her brother Oswald—Her influence—Quenburga—Birinus—Kynigils—Saxburga repudiated—Penda's vengeance—Bebba and Bebbanburgh—Bamborough Castle—Oswald and Aidan—The silver dishes—Oswald's charity—The blessing—The Hermit's adventure—Oswald slain—The limbs of Oswald—Ostrida his niece—Ebba the Saint—The double Monastery—Saxburga and her husband reconciled—Conversions—The Plague—The Queen Regnant.
THE lives of these Queens are intimately connected; their names being repeated together in the history of their times; but though the events in which they bore a share were of importance, their individual history does not occupy a very large space.
Ebba, whose piety earned for her the honours of canonization, was the only one of the children of Queen Acha who was not the companion of her flight, after the battle in which her husband Ethelfrid the Wild lost his crown and life, Ebba, then quite a child, fell into the hands of the conquerors as prisoner; but by her quickness and intelligence contrived to elude the vigilance of her guards, and, flying from pursuit, came to the banks of the Humber, where, finding a boat, she is said to have put to sea alone, and, unaided by any human being, safely arrived at that point of land or promontory which stretches into the sea in the mouth of the Forth, and from the circumstance bore, and still bears, her name, being called St. Ebba's Head. The bishop of the diocese received the little wanderer, who assumed the religious habit, following the profession of a nun for many years, and setting an example of superior sanctity to the whole of her sisterhood.
In process of time she quitted her convent to become the wife of Cwichelme, King of Wessex, whose power was shared by Kynigils. Cwichelme was that King of Wessex, who sent an assassin to rid him of his enemy, Edwin of Northumberland, whose loyal subject, Lilla, devoted his life to save him.
Of the married life of Ebba, little is known, but on becoming a widow, she sought the court of her brother Oswald, who had succeeded to the throne of Northumberland; and there she had an opportunity of exercising her pious powers, for her brother greatly venerated her character, and was much guided by her counsels. He had married Quenburga, daughter of Kynigils, a wife worthy of so excellent a monarch; and it was while he was in Wessex, soliciting her hand, that he had the glory of assisting Birinus, the missionary, in his task of converting the King, to whom he became sponsor on his baptism, and many of his subjects, to Christianity.
The two Kings, in commemoration of the occasion, afterwards erected Dorchester [In Oxfordshire, formerly a city, but now a village. It first belonged to the West Saxons, and afterwards to the Mercians.] into an episcopal see, of which Birinus was made Bishop. Oswald was united to Quenburga, and thus became both father and son to the converted monarch. Cwichelme, and his son by Ebba, were also baptized at the same time, Birinus being sponsor to the King, whose death occurred soon after his conversion.
Kynigils afterwards founded Winchester Cathedral, under the direction of the pious and successful missionary.
Although Kynigils and his brother Cwichelme had become Christians. Cenwalch, son of the former, yet remained an adherent of the Saxon idolatry, nor could any persuasions influence him to become a convert. This prince, during his father's life, became the husband of Saxburga, daughter of Wibba, King of Mercia, and grand-daughter of Crida, founder of that monarchy,—a princess, who, by her great spirit, talents, and courage, afterwards occupied an important and distinguished position in the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. Nor was this the first matrimonial tie which had united the thrones of Wessex and Mercia. The reigning King of Mercia, the fierce and warlike Penda, who had bestowed Saxburga on Cenwalch, was only half-brother of that lady, although a son of Wibba. [Palgrave, Holinshed.] His mother was a Princess of Wessex, a descendant of the noble race of the Gewissa; [Geoffrey of Monmouth.] and had, besides, a daughter who married Cadwallo, King of the Britons. [Speed.] On the other hand, that Saxburga, and her brothers Kenwald, Eoppa, and Eawa, were the children of a different wife, is not generally known.
Saxburga was destined to experience the strangest vicissitudes of fortune; on the death of the Christian King, Kynigils, her father-in-law, A.D. 643, her husband being elevated to the throne, dismissed her from his court with ignominy, and gave her rank to a princess whom he "more favoured." [Lingard.] Historians universally admit that no just cause existed why such a step should have been taken by Cenwalch. [Speed.] This took place in the year 642, but the perpetrator of such an act of injustice was condemned to undergo a severe punishment. It was not likely that Penda, the most warlike of the Mercian Kings, would permit so deep an insult to be offered to a member of his family without retribution. To avenge his half-sister Saxburga, he therefore made war on Cenwalch, and succeeded in expelling that King from his dominions about the third or fifth year of his reign. [Holinshed, Palgrave, Roger of Wendover.] The fugitive prince was received at the court of Anna, King of East Anglia, where, for some time, he remained in security; but what became of Saxburga at this epoch of her history we are not informed.
Quenburga, sister of Cenwalch, now Queen of Northumberland, the year following her marriage, presented her husband with a son, whom he named Ethelwold. The Queen herself had, after leaving her father's court, assumed the surname of "Bebba," which was commonly adopted by the consorts of the Northumbrian monarchs in commemoration of the wife of Ida the Firebrand, founder of that monarchy, in whose honour that prince had founded the city which, in modern times, is known as Bamborough. [Bede.] Ida had originally sailed from the shores of the Baltic, with his consort Bebba and twelve sons, at the head of a body of Angles, in a fleet of forty vessels, and was received at Flamborough Head with joy by some of his own countrymen, with whose aid he subjugated Northumberland, Durham, and some of the south-eastern counties of Scotland, founding, in the year 559, a distinct and independent monarchy. [Turner.]
Though some have said that the chief town of the Kingdom of Northumberland, which gave its name of Bebbanburg to a large district or tract of land, extending southward, was named after Oswald's queen, there is no doubt that it was first called "Bebban" from the queen of Ida. It is certain that Quenburga was called "Bebba" after her union with Oswald; she is thus named by the poet Harding in his Chronicle:
"King Oswold wedded Beblam his wife to bee,
Kynge Kyngilles doughter full faire to see."
Oswald and his Queen resided at the royal city of Bebbanburgh, of which the following account has been given by the chaplain of Henry II., in 1192:—"Bebba is a very strong city, but not exceeding large; containing not more than two or three acres of ground. It has but one hollow entrance into it, which is admirably raised by steps. On the top of the hill stands a fair church, and in the western point is a well, curiously adorned, and of sweet, clean water." [Simeon of Durham.]
More modern historians thus describe this interesting spot
"Bamburgh Castle, in the origin, was one of the castella built by Agricola on his third campaign; the Roman wall is close to the verge of the hill on which this celebrated fortress is situated. For providing the garrison with a supply of water, which the besiegers could not cut off, there was in most castles a well, which was sometimes curiously concealed within the thickness of the walls. There are draw-wells in the Castles of Dover, Canterbury, Rochester, Colchester, Carisbrook, &c. In the old Norman town of Newcastle, the well is very curiously concealed within the wall. The great well of Bamburgh had long been forgotten, when, in December, 1770, it was accidentally discovered in lowering the floor."
The great draw-well of Bamburgh Castle is described as "a dark and rugged shaft excavated within the keep, through the rock of stone, to the amazing depth of a hundred and fifty feet," and as being "equalled only by the draw-well of Beeston Castle: this stupendous work is ascribed to the Norman Lords of Bamborough."
The Saxon Castle of Bamburg having been destroyed, A.D. 993, it is probable that the church shared the same fate, and remained in ruin through the chief part, if not the whole, of the dark and troubled century which succeeded. Neither the church nor the castle is mentioned again till the reign of William Rufus; but before that period the castle, at all events, had been rebuilt; and under the early Anglo-Norman kings, the vill of Bamborough rose into existence. The castle was accessible only by an acclivity winding under the south-east front, through an ancient tower; and formerly it was defended also by a ditch cut through a narrow isthmus communicating with the mainland. Within the first bailey, there is another ancient gateway; and beyond, proceeding between walls, partly of artificial masonry, and partly formed by the precipitous cliff, we pass below a massive Norman round-tower which commanded the critical pass. The inner bailey, in which the keep is situated, is a level space of great area, surrounded by various buildings, now no longer devoted to military occupations, but appropriated to ministries of charity and peace. The space covered by the walls of the castle measures eight acres; and not less than fifty-six acres of rock, warren, and sand-hills are included within its domain." [Gibson.]
The youth of Oswald had been passed in exile in Ireland, and when Aidan, the Culdee, arrived to instruct his subjects in the Christian faith, the King appointed him to a see in the island of Lindisfarne, which may be seen seven miles to the north of Bamborough; the Fern isles being opposite the royal residence of Oswald, and the cliffs of Dunstanburg rising to the south.
The preaching of Aidan was so successful, that in seven days, no less than fifteen thousand persons received the baptismal rite.
King Oswald was the first prince of our Saxon rulers, who is recorded to have been served in silver dishes.
"When he was once sitting at dinner on the holy day of Easter, with the aforesaid bishop (Aidan), and a silver dish full of dainties before him, and they were just ready to bless the bread, the servant, whom he had appointed to relieve the poor, came in on a sudden, and told the King, that a great multitude of needy persons from all parts were sitting in the streets begging some alms of the King; he immediately ordered the meat set before him to be carried to the poor, and the dish to be cut in pieces and divided among them. At which sight the bishop, who sat by him, much taken with such an act of piety, laid hold of his right hand, and said, 'May this hand never perish!' Which fell out according to his prayer, for his arm and hand being cut off from his body, when he was slain in battle, remain entire and uncorrupted to this day, and are kept in a silver case, as revered relics, in St. Peter's Church in the royal city."
The Northumbrians might well obey such a ruler with love. The following distich is on record of Oswald:—
"Quis fuit Alcides? Quis Casar Julius? Aut quis
Magnus Alexander? Alcvdes se superasse
Fertur; Alexander mundum, sed Julius hostem,
Se simul Oswaldus, et mundum vicit, et hostem." [Camden.]
Queen Bebba was herself as much celebrated by her admirable conduct, as the saintly King, her husband, for his holiness of life. Of this, the following instance has been transmitted by one of our chroniclers:"
A hermit, of extraordinary sanctity, desirous of ascertaining whether any other person surpassed himself in purity of life, was, in answer to his meditations, told by revelation, "that King Oswald was more holy, though he had wedded a wife." To the King accordingly the pious hermit repaired, desiring, with holy zeal, to be informed concerning his "course of life." On which Oswald, in the true spirit of that love and confidence which reposed on the purity and virtue of his beloved partner, referred the hermit to her, bidding him carry to her his ring with his commands, "that she should entertain him as though he were her own royal spouse." Queen Bebba failed not in strictly obeying her lord's mandate; but, while she shared with the holy man the regal repast, she showed him that it consisted only of bread and water, no other food being permitted to him, thus exhibiting an example of that self-denial by which purity of life is alone attainable. When night came, the hermit, expecting to pass it as Oswald himself was in the habit of doing, was more surprised than pleased when the Queen caused him to be cast into a cold water bath, according to the habit of the prince he wished to imitate!"
Gladly, and right early on the morrow, did the venerable man take leave of the Queen, and, having restored to King Oswald his ring, frankly acknowledged that his own entire life was not so holy as one of his days and nights." [Harding's Chronicle.]
No further mention of Queen Bebba is made till after Oswald's death. The title of Bretwalda, [An imitation of the dignity of Emperors of the West.—Lappenberg.] or Emperor, was accorded to this King in the year of his son Edilwold's birth; peace and plenty were the characteristics of his reign. At last Penda, King of Mercia, envying his neighbouring potentate's prosperity, took up arms against him. The two kings fought at Maserfield, in Shropshire, August 5th, 642, and Oswald fell in the engagement. The spot where the monarch was slain was called from the circumstance, Oswald's tree, abbreviated into Oswestry. [Pennant's Wales.] The cruel victor caused the body of the prince to be cut into pieces, which, being stuck on stakes, were dispersed over the battle-field as so many victorious trophies. Some old verses say that it was the head and hands only of the unfortunate prince that were thus exposed; the translation is as follows:
"Three crosses raised at Penda's dire commands,
Bore Oswald's royal head and mangled hands,
To stand a sad example to the rest,
And prove him wretched who is ever blest.
Vain policy! for what the victor got
Proved to the vanquish'd king the happier lot;
For now the martyr'd saint in glory views
How Oswy with success the war renews:
And Penda scarcely can support his throne,
Whilst Oswald wears a never-failing crown." [Ibid.]
The Church, to which Oswald was justly dear, rendered every posthumous honour to his memory, and not only was he raised to the dignity of a saint, but his claim to the honour was supported by various miracles. [An engraving in Strutt's Regal Antiquities, represents the King setting out with his army against the Mercian monarch, and, in another plate, gives a delineation of the battle, with Oswald falling from his horse, wounded by the Mercian king. These drawings are taken from a MS. (Harleian, 1681) preserved in the Royal Library at the British Museum; which, by the writing and dress of the figures, appears to have been written and illuminated at the commencement of the fourteenth century. They are contained in a psalter at the bottom of the leaves. The MS. was presented to Queen Mary, in 1553, by Baldwin Smith, a citizen of London.
The town (which is near Severus's Wall) taking the name of Oswald's Tree, from the cross or tree the King had erected there. The MS. account of the town, written in 1635, has the following:—"There was an old oake lately standing in Mesburie, within the parish of Oswestry, whereon one of King Oswald's arms hung, say the neighbours by tradition."
Oswald's Well is situated a little to the west of the free-school of Oswestry, and is supplied by a spring flowing from the elevated ground above it. The well is a small square basin, in a recess formed by a stone wall, and arched over. On the back is a rudely sculptured head of King Oswald, and the front was secured by an iron grate. A second recess of the same kind is divided from the former by a slight stone wall, and in this recess there is water also, which was perhaps granted for common uses, whilst the other may have been held sacred. There was formerly a chapel or cell near it, but no vestige of either remains; and the well itself is in a very ruinous state, but the water is good. There is a tradition that when Oswald was slain, an eagle tore one of the arms from the body, and flying off with it, fell down and perished upon this spot, from whence the water gushed up, and has continued to flow ever since, as a memorial of the event. The title of "Baron of Oswaldistre" is now held by the Duke of Norfolk.—History of Oswestry.
A monastery was founded on the place of Oswald's martyrdom, dedicated to the memory of that sainted king, but no evidences either of its foundation or dissolution exist. Leland, in his time, names the cloister as having been standing within the recollection of persons then alive.]
The widowed Queen Bebba had used the interest of her brother-in-law Oswy, the now reigning monarch, to obtain from Cadwealla permission to bury the head and arm of Oswald.
Hardinge in his quaint chronicle has these lines:
"King Oswy to Cadwall did enclyne,
And Oswald his hed and arme had leue to burye,
Which he betoke to Queen Bebla in hye,
Who closed them in silver fayre and clene,
And them betooke to Saynte Aydan, I ween."
The venerable Bede records the same. "Oswald's head and arm were conveyed by King Oswy to the sorrow-stricken Queen, who religiously enshrined the precious relics in a silver case and conveyed them to St. Aidan, by whom they were carefully deposited in St. Peter's Church, in the royal city of Bebbanburgh."
Of Bebba we learn no more. Her infant son was deprived of his inheritance for a time by the usurpation of Oswy: at the death of that king he mounted the throne, being but sixteen years of age at the time, and preserved his power during the remainder of his life, transmitting it when he died, to Alfred, the natural son of Oswy.
The remains of St. Oswald being afterwards found by his niece Ostrida, Queen of the Mercians, were solemnly enshrined in the Abbey of Bardney, in Lincolnshire, and the King's banner hung over his tomb at her cost, and worked by herself. [Willis's Abbeys.] At a subsequent period, the relics of departed royalty were removed by Ethelfleda, Queen of the Mercians, to the Abbey of St. Peter at Gloucester, where they were deposited on the north side of the upper end of the choir. In that cathedral a fair monument of the murdered prince is still remaining, with a chapel set between two pillars of that church. ["Oswy afterwards took the head of Oswald from Bardney, and interred it in the church of Lindisfarne: it attended the faithful monks of that place in prosperity and adversity, till at length it found 'a safe resting-place in the bosom of St. Cuthbert,' where it remained until the outrages of Lee, and other malefactors of evil memory."—Gibbon, Harding, Speed.]
Bishop Aidan, [Brit. Sancta.] the friend and counsellor of the ill-fated Oswald, survived his royal master nine years. In 651, when Penda, at the head of the Mercian army, ravaged Northumberland, he came to Bamborough, and sought, but in vain, to take that royal city by force. He afterwards encompassed it on the land side with wood and thatch, which he caused to be set on fire, and the flames soon rose above the walls of the citadel. Aidan was at this time on the Farn Island, two miles from the mainland; and seeing the danger of the garrison, invoked the Divine aid against the machinations of the enemy; on which, according to Bede, "the wind suddenly changed and bore the flames upon the camp of the besiegers," who were thus compelled to desist from further assault. Aidan was in the King's Vill, not far from Bamborough, when he was visited with his last illness: for he was in the habit of resorting to a church in the village of Bamborough, where a little chamber had been erected for him on the western wall of the edifice, that he might conveniently reside there when he made excursions into the adjacent country. The Bishop had other similar accommodations provided for him in several of the King's country-seats, having no place of his own but his church, and a few fields about it. In his sickness they set up a tent for him, adjoining the west side of the church of Bamborough, and there he died.
Ebba, sister of Oswald, who was aunt as well as sister-in-law of Quenburga "Bebba," after she had returned into Northumberland, founded successively several nunneries, and became noted for her sanctity.
The nunnery upon the Derwent, in Durham, was founded by this widowed Queen of Wessex, and, from her name, called Ebehester. It was built, A.D. 660, and Oswy, brother of Oswald, assisted in this pious work, perhaps as some atonement for usurping his nephew's place. The small, irregular village of Ebehester is described by Camden as "occupying the brow of a steep declivity overhanging the Tyne."
St. Ebba, in her widowhood, resumed the religious habit which she had worn when a child, and retired to the same establishment in which she passed her early years. She was foundress of the celebrated monastery of Coldingham in the Marshes, below Berwick, in Scotland, which establishment she governed herself as Abbess until her death, which did not take place till she had arrived at a very advanced age. This celebrated double separate monastery was visited by the famed St. Cuthbert, by invitation of the Abbess Queen, who was desirous that her people there should be edified by the instructions of that holy man,—a request most readily complied with.
The history of St. Ebba is much connected with the public events in her time, proving the influence she maintained by her own excellent conduct.
At one period this Queen presided over Camwode Abbey, during the reign of her nephew Egfrid. St. Etheldreda, then Queen, having obtained her husband's permission to take the religious vows, professed herself a nun in Camwode Abbey, "the convent of Ebba, the King's aunt," receiving the veil from the hands of Bishop Wilfrid. [Bradshawe's Life of St. Werburga; Richard, Prior of Hexham.] Etheldreda remained in the establishment, under the protection of St. Ebba, till her flight to Ely.
Again St. Ebba's name comes prominently forward; for Egfrid had imprisoned Wilfrid on his return from Rome; and during the space of nine months every art had been practised to induce the bishop to confess that the Pontiff's decision had either been a fabrication, or purchased by presents. Threats and promises, however, failed in moving Wilfrid, who was at length happily liberated, at the earnest prayers of the Abbess Ebba, on his subscribing to a condition that he would never more set foot within the territories of Egfrid. [Lingard's Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church.]
After the completion of Coldingham, St. Ebba assumed the government of the establishment, and presided over it till her death, which took place A.D. 683, having survived her husband as many as forty-five years. At some period, it is said that "St. Cuthbert informed Elfrid, a priest, by revelation, where the bones of St. Ebba and St. Ethelgifa, and many other saints, might be found, which, on his discovering the place, were first exposed by him as holy relics, to be worshipped by the people, and afterwards placed with the body of St. Cuthbert."
Cenwalch, after the just vengeance of Penda had caused his abdication, retired to the protection of Anna, King of east Anglia, a pious and excellent monarch, who took upon himself to reprove his guest freely for his ill-treatment of Queen Saxburga. Sigebert, king of Essex, also remonstrated so strongly in favour of the Queen, and so powerfully urged the principles of the Christian faith, that at last Cenwalch became a convert, and in 648 received the baptismal rite [Bede.] from Felix, a Burgundian priest, who, after being seventeen years Bishop of East Anglia, was elevated to the Archbishopric of Canterbury. [Rapin.] An entire change seemed to have taken place in the heart of Cenwalch, who now received his Queen Saxburga back. Some, indeed, say that she had been reconciled to him prior to his conversion. The question naturally suggests itself, was this Queen herself of the Christian persuasion? Her brother Penda was certainly one of the bitterest persecutors of the Church throughout the whole period of the Saxon Heptarchy. Still Saxburga might have embraced the doctrine at the time of the conversion of Kynigils, and perhaps this was the cause of her repudiation, more especially if they became reconciled to each other either on the eve of the conversion of Cenwalch or immediately after that event.
These two important events to Saxburga, her husband's conversion and her own reconciliation to him, were succeeded by another not less gratifying. Their nephew, Cuthred, son of Cwichelme, entered into a negotiation with Cenwalch relative to his restoration to his dominions. The conversion of Cenwalch first induced him to assist him in his difficulties, and to receive him at Ashendon, [Or scendune, in the forest of Brentwode, included in the territory of Wessex.— Kennet, Lipscombe.] in Bucks, where the preliminary arrangements were made between the two kings, and the remuneration settled upon for the services rendered by Cuthred on the occasion. It was there stipulated that all that part of the kingdom which lay northward from the river Thames, and the extent of which was computed at 3000 hides, [Lipscombe's History of Bucks.] containing within its limits as many villages, should be held hereafter by Cuthred for his principality: [Palgrave.] these lands granted to Cuthred lay near Ashendon, where the agreement was made, and amounted to about a third part of the kingdom of Cenwalch. [Bede.] After this arrangement, Cuthred successfully aided Cenwalch in the enterprise of recovering the crown, which he had forfeited through his own errors. Cenwalch and Saxburga from that time forward seem to have lived in the most entire harmony: this lasting for a long succession of years, must have repaid Saxburga for all her past affliction. The husband, no longer a Pagan in heart, showed in every action that he was worthy to profess the mild doctrines of Christianity, and became a blessing to himself and others.
The first employment of Cenwalch on his recovery of the throne, after fulfilling his contract with Cuthred, was to complete the edifice at Winchester which had been founded by his father, and built under the directions of St. Birinus, Bishop of Dorchester. It was completed in 648, and in a style of magnificence unusual in those times. St. Birinus came to Winchester when it was completed, and solemnly dedicated the building in the name of the Holy Trinity and of Saints Peter and Paul. The same year the holy prelate died, and though in the first instance buried at Dorchester, where he usually dwelt, his remains were eventually transferred to Winchester Cathedral. [Holinshed, Milner, Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.]
It is not stated that either Cenwalch or Saxburga quitted Britain during the fatal visitation of the plague in Britain. The following is, however, a Welsh record concerning a princess called Saxburga, and who probably was the same:—" When the plague and famine had ceased its long ravages, those Saxons who had had the good fortune to escape, sent intelligence to Germany of the thinness of the population in Britain, representing how easily a new settlement might be made. Accordingly a vast number of men and women landed in the north, under Queen Sexburgis, and settled in Britain, from Norway to Cornwall, without opposition from the Britons. By 'Norway' the Welsh Chronicle here means Northumberland, sometimes called Albany. In the Highlands of Scotland two districts were formerly entitled Norway and Denmark, because colonized from those countries, which frequently occasions a confusion in the mind of readers unacquainted with the fact, when referred to in our histories under those names." [Roberts's British History.] The date of that event, 664, makes it possible that this was no other than Saxburga, the Abbess-Queen of Kent.
Cenwalch survived the desolating scourge of the yellow plague about eight years, having reigned altogether thirty-one years, three of which he had passed in exile. He died in 672, giving, at the last, a most convincing proof of his respect for Saxburga, by bequeathing to her the administration of the affairs of the state, a step the more remarkable, as it was quite unprecedented. Saxburga is, in fact, the solitary instance of a Queen-Regnant during the entire dominion of the Anglo-Saxons. [William of Malmesbury.] The measure was imprudent; and the people, disdaining to fight under a woman, not long after the death of Cenwalch, rebelled against the widowed Queen, and displaced her from the high office which had been confided to her by her husband's will. Some, indeed, say that the Queen continued in power during the space of two years; [Matthew of Westminster.] and others, that for half that period, her power was shared by Egwin, and that he, after her death, reigned one year by himself; [Bromton, William of Malmesbury.] and was then succeeded by Kentwin. [Bromton.] However this might be, the kingdom seems to have been divided for ten years among the Ealdormen, after the decease of Cenwalch, and the short period during which Saxburga held her authority over the people. During that space of time, however brief, Saxburga proved herself in every respect worthy to discharge the duties of her office. One of our old chroniclers describes this Saxon Queen-Regnant as having "levied new forces, and preserved the old in their duty," ruling her subjects with moderation, and overawing her enemies; in short, that "she conducted all things in such a manner, that no difference was discoverable, except that of sex." It was a misfortune to her people to lose such a ruler, whose character seems to have combined some of the characteristics of her dauntless brother Penda possessing his splendid talents without his defects.