chapter 2

Howe the people of Hambury brought the shryne to Chestre / and of the solemne receuyung of it by all the inhabitauntes of Chesshyre.

stanza 34

232In meane tyme the danes pitously destroyed
The monasteries of Werburge / Trentam & Wedon,
As they many other places had euyll oppressed
In the north and eest part of this region;
The kyngdome of Kent suffred lyke punicion,
The Ile of Wyght endured moche turment:
So dyd the Westmarches / for punysshement. 1

stanza 35

239 The people of Hambury, wysely consyderyng
The comynge of danes vnto Repton,
And of the departure of Burdred, theyr kyng, 2
Howe all Englande was in great affliction,
And howe they were next to endure punicion -
Whiche forsayd Repton was distaunt from Hambury
The space of .v. mile, sayth the history - 3

stanza 36

246The Hamburgenses with all the comons and clergy,
Dredynge full sore the pagans flagellacions, 4
Of their lyues desperate / but for the shryne specially,
To our blessed sauiour made dayly inuocacions
With vigils, prayers and feruent meditacions,
To preserue the countrey / the relique / the shryne
From daunger of enmite and miserable ruyne.

stanza 37

253As they continued in cotidian prayer,
The best remedie sekyng for to fynde
To auoide vexacion and all greuous daunger
Of theyr great ennemies cursed and vnkynde,
The holy goost inspired theyr mynde
To take the shryne with great humilite
And brynge it to Chestre from perill and enmyte.

stanza 38

260 They toke this riall relique of reuerence
With great mekenes, deuocion and feruour,
Through the grace of god, theyr helpe and defence,
Came to-warde Chester with diligence and honour -
A place preordinat by our sauiour
Where he body shulde rest and worshipped be,
Magnified with miracles next our ladie.

stanza 39

267Whan the clergie of Chestre and the citezens 5
Herde tell of the comynge of this noble abbasse,
They made preparacion and great diligence,
In theyr best-maner worship and solace
To mete this relique of singular grace;
The great estates / and rulers of the countray
Were redy to honour saint Werburge that day.

stanza 40

274First was ordeyned a solemne procession,
With crosses / and baners / and surges clere lyght,
The belles were tolled for ioye and deuocion;
The ministres of god in coopes redy dight,
With censours of siluer / to encense her body right;
All prestis and clerkes redy to say and synge
Proceded in ordre / this holy virgin praysyng. 6

stanza 41

281Next to the clergie approched in degree
The lordes of the shyre, knyghtes, barons, all
With feruent deuocion / praysyng the trinite
Whiche sent to them suche comfort spirituall.
The citezens ensued with gladness cordiall,
With bokes and beades / magnifieng our maker
For this great treasure to kepe them from daunger.


The idea of the Danish raids as a 'punishment' or divine retribution enacted on the people of Britain dates back to contemporary texts from the Anglo-Saxon period. See for example Alcuin, The Destruction of Lindisfarne in Godman, 1985, 127-39 and Wulfstan of York, Sermo Lupi ad Anglos, Whitelock, 1963 or Melissa Bernstein Ser, ed., The Electronic Sermo Lupi ad Anglos. Back to context...
Burgred, King of the Mercians (ruled 852-874). See PASE. Back to context...
Bradshaw's account of the translation of Werburgh is an expanded version of that in Higden's Polychronicon, Book V, Ch. XVIII. See Babington and Lumby, 1865-86, vol. 5, 126-8. Back to context...
Through the metaphor of 'flagellacion', associated with the extreme penitential practice of scourging, Bradshaw further reinforces the idea of the Danish invasions as a penance imposed by God. Back to context...
Bradshaw uses the term 'citizen' in its conventional medieval sense to apply to those residents of the city who had particular rights and privileges. See E.L. Skip Kox, Medieval Society: Towns Back to context...
Bradshaw's stylised description of the procession through the streets of Chester allows him to set out an idealised version of medieval society, adapting the theory of the 'three estates' to depict the well-ordered hierarchy of Chester and its inhabitants. The clergy (the first estate) are followed by the secular nobility (the second estate). After the nobility of the shire come the citizens of Chester - those particular inhabitants of the city who have the full rights and privileges of citizenship. Following the citizens we have the higher-ranking women of Chester, including virgins, widows and wives - the three conditions of woman or 'female estates'. Finally, the commoners (the third estate) end the procession. Bradshaw's vision of the ranks and orders of society represents his own late-medieval experience and ideology, rather than the realities of ninth-century Anglo-Saxon social organisation. For further discussion of the 'three estates' in medieval society and literature see Mohl, 1962 and Medieval Estates and Orders: Making and Breaking Rules: An Overview (Norton Topics Online). Back to context...