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Early Indo-European Texts

Old English

Jonathan Slocum

This page contains a text in Old English with a modern English translation. This particular text and its translation are extracted from a lesson in the Early Indo-European Online series, where one may find detailed information about this text (see the Table of Contents page for Old English Online in EIEOL), and general information about the Old English language and its speakers' culture.

Alfred's Wars with the Danes

s on sumera on ysum gre tfr se here, sum on astengle, sum on Norhymbre. Ond e feohlase wron him r scipu begton, ond s ofer s fron t Sigene.

Nfde se here, Godes onces, Angelcyn ealles forswe gebrocod, ac he wron micle swor gebrocede on m rim garum mid capes cwilde ond monna; ealles swost mid m t manige ra slestena cynges na e r on londe wron forfrdon on m rym garum. ra ws sum Swulf biscop on Hrfesceastre, ond Colmund ealdormon on Cent, ond Beorhtulf ealdormon on astseaxum, ond Wulfred ealdormon Hmtnscre, ond Ealhheard biscop t Dorceceastre, ond adulf cynges egn on Sseaxum, ond Beornulf wcgerfa on Winteceastre, ond Ecgulf cynges horsegn, ond manige ac him, h ic geungnestan nemde.

ilcan gare drehton hergas on astenglum ond on Norhymbrum Westseaxna lond swe be m sste mid stlhergum, ealra swust mid m scum e he fela gara r timbredon. ht lfred cyng timbran lang scipu ongn scas; wron fulnah t sw lange sw ru; sume hfdon LX ra, sume m; wron ger ge swiftran ge unwealtran ge ac herran onne ru; nron nwer ne on Frsisc gescpene ne on Denisc, bton sw him selfum hte t he nytwyroste bon meahten. t sumum cirre s ilcan gares cmon r sex scipu t Wiht, ond r mycel yfel gedydon, ger ge on Defenum ge wel hwr be m sriman. ht se cyng faran mid nigonum t ra nwena scipa; ond forfran him one man foran on termere. fron he mid rim scipum t ongn he, ond ro stdon t ufeweardum m man on drgum; wron men uppe on londe of gne. gefngon he ra rora scipa t t m man teweardum, ond men ofslgon, ond t n owand; on m wron ac men ofslgene bton ffum...


In summer in this year the enemy dispersed, some into East Anglia, some into Northumbria. Those who were without money got themselves ships there, and went south over the sea to the Seine.
The enemy had not, by the mercy of God, entirely crushed the English altogether, but they were afflicted much more in those three years by pestilence of cattle and of men; most of all among them many of the best of the king's thanes who were there in the land died within those three years. One of these was Swithulf, bishop in Rochester, and Ceolmund, a nobleman in Kent, and Bertulf, a nobleman in Essex, and Wulfred, a nobleman in Hampshire, and Elhard, bishop at Dorchester, and Eadulf, the king's thane in Sussex, and Bernuff, governor in Winchester, Egulf, the king's horse-thane, and many also with them, though I have named (only) the most distinguished.
In the same year the plunderers in East Anglia and Northumbria greatly harassed the land of the West Saxons around the southern shore with marauding bands, most of all with ships which they built many years before. Then King Alfred ordered (his men) to build long ships (to be used) against the (Danish) ships; they were almost twice as long as the others; some had 60 oars, some more. They were both swifter and steadier and also higher than the others; they were shaped neither on the Frisian nor on the Danish (model), but as it seemed -- to he himself -- they might be most useful. At a certain time of the same year there came six ships to (the Isle of) Wight, and did much mischief there, both in Devonshire and almost everywhere near the seacoast. Then the King ordered (his men) to go (out) with nine of the new ships; and they blocked the mouth of the river in front of the open sea. They rode out against them with three ships, and three (others) remained upwards of the river mouth on dry (ground); the men had gone away, up inland. They took two of the three ships at the outer river mouth, and slew the men, and the (other) one escaped; the men on it were also slain, except for five...