chapter 5

Of the notable myracles of saynt Werburge shewed in the tyme of chanons / and fyrst howe she saued Chester from distruction of walshemen.

stanza 96

667 This glorious Werburge and virgin pure
By singular grace of god omnipotent special
Shewed many myracles to euery creature,
To blynde / dombe / halt / lame / and impotent,dumb / unable to walk / physically weak
In the cite of Chestre / whan her shryne was present,
Like-wyse as in her lyfe at Wedon / at Hambury -Just as
Witneseth the same her true legende and history. 1 Attests

stanza 97

674 Wher[for]e the honour / prayse / and laudacion For the purpose of / glory
Of Iesu / the seconde persone in trinite ,the Trinity
And of this virgin a speciall commendacion,commendation, praise
We purpose to reherce nowe with charite,rehearse, tell / devotion
Vnder the protection of you that shall the reders be,readers
Parte of the myracles / with mynde diligent careful mind
In this humble stile / and sentence consequent. 2 style / resulting message, meaning

stanza 98

681The first myracle / that our blessed sauiour
Shewed for his spouses / after her translacion 3 translation
To Chestre: was nye the tyme of Edwarde seniour, 4 close to
Son to kyng Alured, famous of renowne.Alfred / of renowned fame
The Name of britons was chaunged that season, 5
Were named walshemen, in the montaynes segregate,set apart in the mountains
Euer to the saxons hauynge inwarde hate.Always having inner hatred towards the Saxons

stanza 99

688 The Walshemen that tyme had ouer them a kyng
Called Griffinus / to be theyr gouernour, 6
Electe by the comons their appetite folowyng,Chosen / according to their desire
Endurate with malice / couetise and rancour,Filled / envy
Ennemies to englisshemen / as is said before.
This kyng entended by mortall enuy 7 intended / mortal envy
The cite of Chestre to spoyle and distrye. 8 destroy

stanza 100

695A myghty host discended from the mountans,
Well armed and strongely approchyng the cite,fiercely
Prepared for batell, with them great ordinaunce.array of troops
The sayd Griffinus and all his company
With his power passed ouer the water of Dee -
Whiche ryuer adioynneth to the sayd towne,is adjacent to
Betwene Englande and Wales a sure diuision. 9 secure division, boundary

stanza 101

702 This kynge layd siege vnto Chestre cite
With all his great host / there honour to wyn - to win honour there
By policie of warre / encreasynge myghtyle.Through the art of war / mightily
For whiche the citezens remaynynge withinFor which reason
[W]ere sore disconsolate, like for to twyn:severely / almost ready to burst
With wofull heuy hearts they dyd call and cryeheavy
Vpon blessed Werburge for helpe and remedye.

stanza 102

709The charitable chanons with great deuocionbenevolent
Toke the holy shryne of theyr patrones ,Took / patroness
Set it on the towne-walles for helpe and tuicion,protection
Trustynge on her to be saued from distres.
But one of the ennemyes with great wyckednes
Smot the sayd shryne in castyng of a stone,Struck / by throwing a stone
And it empaired / piteous to loke vpon.And damaged it / piteous to see

stanza 103

716 Anone great punysshement vpon them all lyght:Immediately / fell
The kyng and his host were smytten with blyndnes,struck
That of the cite / they had no maner of syght;So that / no kind of sight
And he that smote the holy shryne, doubtles,
Was greuously vexed with a sprite of darkenes,severely afflicted / spirit, demon
And with hidous payne expired miserably -hideous
The kynge was sore a-dred / and all his company.greatly frightened


The miracles of Werburgh narrated in this chapter and those following are apparently derived from Bradshaw's source, the 'third passionary'. See below, line 1691 and note. Back to context...
Whilst this stanza refers to Bradshaw's 'humble stile' it in fact offers a good example of the difficult language and high style he often chooses to employ in The Life of St Werburge. For example, he pairs the noun 'prayse' with the synonym 'laudacion', rhyming with 'commendacion' and investing the stanza with prestigious Latinate vocabulary. 'Sentence consequent' is also a deliberately Latinate and also potentially difficult phrase: whilst 'sentence', referring to a text's meaning or message, is a common term in late Middle English literature, the participle 'consequent' ('resulting, consequent') is less usual. Back to context...
'Spouses' here refers to the Christian people in Chester (and more widely) in general, alluding to the biblical idea of the Church as the Bride of Christ (see for example 2 Corinthians 11:2). Bradshaw may have specifically selected this metaphor in order to foreground relevant metaphors of femininity and female virtue or obedience. Back to context...
Edward the Elder (ruled 899-924). See PASE. Back to context...
Bradshaw’s comment on the change of names from ‘britons’ to ‘walshemen’ is significant. He regards the Britons as prestigious, honourable ancestors, who nurtured Christianity at Chester after the withdrawal of Rome and who founded the city itself. Indeed, Bradshaw places great emphasis on the perceived British origins of the city, celebrating (and perhaps inventing) the role of ‘Kynge Leil, a Briton sure and valiant’ (see line 383). For Bradshaw, the change in nomenclature to ‘Welsh’ reflects his perception of the degeneracy of the Britons in the medieval period. His inclusion of this remark in conjunction with an observation that the Welsh became ‘segregate’ at this time perhaps also suggests his knowledge of the Anglo-Saxon etymology of the term from wælisc (‘foreign, alien’). Back to context...
Though Bradshaw dates these events to the reign of Edward the Elder, 'Griffinus' is probably to be associated with Gruffudd ap Llewelyn, King of Gwynedd (ruled 1055-1063). See further notes at line 694, below. Back to context...
'Mortall' here may suggest either Griffin's doomed martial ambitions regarding Chester (which are thwarted by Werburgh), or the deadly nature of envy itself as one of the seven cardinal sins. Back to context...
Alan Thacker suggests that, whilst 'puzzling', this story 'may represent some confused memory of the 1050s, when Gruffudd intrigued with Earl Ælfgar of Mercia, Magnus, son of King Harald Hardrada of Norway, and the men of the Isles'. See A.T. Thacker, Early Medieval Chester 400-1230, Lewis and Thacker, 2003, 16-33, 24, also available via British History Online. Back to context...
Brashaw's remark that the Dee represents a 'sure diuision' between England and Wales contrasts with the comments of Gerald of Wales, who notes that '[t]he local inhabitants maintain that the Dee moves its fords every month and that, as it inclines more towards England or Wales in this change of channel, so they can prognosticate which nation will beat the other or be successful in war in any particular year'. See Thorpe, 1978, 198. Back to context...