Otherwise known as the Chronicon Æthelweardi

Aethelweard was a late tenth century ealdorman of Wessex, and a descendant of the royal house of Wessex (he was the great-grandson of one of Alfred the Great's brothers) who composed, or possibly commissioned some monk to compose on his behalf, a Latin translation of a (now lost) version of MS A of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, which is known naturally enough as the Chronicle of Aethelward.

The only known version of this Chronicle of Aethelward is technically known as MS British Library Cotton Otho A. x., and even that is not complete, and survives only as a number of fragments. A grand total of eighteen fragments have survived, eleven of which actually appear in the manuscript known as Otho A. x.; the other seven fragments are preserved in Otho A. xii bound together with a copy of Asser's Life of King Alfred presumably because they were mistaken for part of that work.

The surviving fragments have been dated to the end of the tenth or beginning of the eleventh century and are therefore probably what remains of the original manuscript of the work and likely as not the only copy that was ever made.

The style and grammar employed of the Latin employed by Aethelward apparently leaves a great deal to be desired. William of Malmesbury was especially dismissive of his efforts, and despite referring to Aethelweard himself as "a noble and illustrious character", was far more contemptous of Aethelweard's literary talents. William spoke of Aethelweard as one "who attempted to arrange these chronicles in Latin, and whose intention I could applaud if his language did not disgust me, it were better to be silent"

What seems to be the case is that the Chronicle of Aethelward is not the work of a 'professional' scholar but rather more like the work of an enthusiastic amateur (or a particularly cheap ecclesiastical scribe). On the basis that he styled himself as Patricius Consul Quaestor Ethelwerdus one could reasonably conclude that he was a pompous little man who thought a great deal of himself.

We can only speculate as to the reasons why the work was prepared in the first place, but Aethelward's Chronicle was addressed to one Matilda. This Matilda appears to be either the wife of one Obizzo, who was the count of Milan, or the abbess of Essen. This well be the reason why the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was translated into Latin in the first place, as knowledge of Latin was far more common on the continent.

Despite William's condemnation, his chronicle remains of some interest; firstly because it preserves, at least in a partial format, a copy of what is otherwise and unknown version of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle down to 893 and secondly because for the years 893 to 975 it contains a largely original and contemporary account of events during those years.

In particular interest is generated by the references in the Chronicle to the activities of the Great Army of Ivarr the Boneless and his brother Halfdan. As Aethelward refers to Ivarr the Boneless as 'Igwar' this is taken to mean that his information comes from early and contemporary source. Whereas the main versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle refer to Ivarr as 'Hingwar', implying that its account is derived from a later acquired tradition.


MS British Library Cotton Otho A. x. at http://www.shef.ac.uk/hri/bl/mss/oth1.htm

The 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica at http://66.1911encyclopedia.org/A/AE/AETHELWEARD.htm

The main scholarly edition is, Alistair Campbell editor and translator The Chronicle of Aethelweard (London, 1962)

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