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Ælfwine of Winchester

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bishop of Winchester
Term ended29 August 1047
PredecessorÆlfsige II
Personal details
Died29 August 1047

Ælfwine (died 1047) was Bishop of Winchester from 1032 until his death. He was one of King Cnut's priests prior to his appointment as bishop, and became a powerful and influential figure at Cnut's court.


From 1033 he was a frequent charter witness, usually third after the two archbishops,[1][2] and Goscelin stated that he helped to persuade Cnut to allow the relics of St. Mildryth to be translated to St Augustine's Abbey, Canterbury. He was also a supporter of the nuns of Winchester, especially Ælfgiva, the daughter of Earl Æthelwold who was called the ‘abbess of Cologne’.[3]

Ælfwine must have maintained his position in the early 1040s as one of King Harthacnut's charters grants him a hide of land.[4] According to an account in the twelfth-century Quadripartitus which the historian John Maddicott found convincing, he was responsible together with Earl Godwin of Wessex, for inviting the future king Edward the Confessor to return to England in 1041, and in 1042 he witnessed a charter of Harthacnut's together with Edward, Godwin, and Edward and Harthacnut's mother, Emma.[5] As a secular bishop in a monastic cathedral he was unpopular, and this was probably a factor in a famous legend that he was Emma's lover. She was said to have disproved the charge by walking barefoot unharmed over burning ploughshares in the nave of Winchester Cathedral.[6][7][3]

After Edward's accession as king in 1042 Ælfwine's career reached a new peak. Edward was crowned in Ælfwine's own church of Winchester, and he witnessed Edward's first surviving charter in third position, after Emma and the Archbishop of Canterbury. From then until his death he witnessed twenty charters out of twenty-two, more than any other prelate. In 1044 Edward granted him the valuable manor of Witney, rated at thirty hides, a grant "to his familiar bishop", "a reward for his faithful service which he has faithfully shown obedience to me." No other churchman approached Ælfwine's standing in the early years of Edward's reign.[8] He died on 29 August 1047.[9]


  1. ^ Smith "Preferment of Royal Clerks" Haskins Society Journal p. 164
  2. ^ Maddicott "Edward the Confessor's Return to England" English Historical Review p. 657
  3. ^ a b Mason "Ælfwine" Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  4. ^ Maddicott "Edward the Confessor's Return to England" English Historical Review pp.657-658
  5. ^ Maddicott "Edward the Confessor's Return to England" English Historical Review pp. 656, 658.
  6. ^ Stafford Queen Emma & Queen Edith pp. 19-21
  7. ^ Maddicott "Edward the Confessor's Return to England" English Historical Review p. 658
  8. ^ Maddicott "Edward the Confessor's Return to England" English Historical Review pp. 658-659
  9. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 223


  • Fryde, E. B.; Greenway, D. E.; Porter, S.; Roy, I. (1996). Handbook of British Chronology (Third revised ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-56350-X.
  • Maddicott, J. R. (2004). "Edward the Confessor's Return to England in 1041". English Historical Review. Oxford University Press. CXIX (482): 650–666. doi:10.1093/ehr/119.482.650. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Mason, Emma (2004). "Ælfwine (d. 1047)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography ((subscription or UK public library membership required)). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Smith, Mary Frances (2001). Lewis, C. P. (ed.). The Preferment of Royal Clerks in the Reign of Edward the Confessor. Haskins Society Journal: Studies in Medieval History. 9 (1997). Woodbridge, UK: Boydell. pp. 159–174. ISBN 0-85115-831-5.
  • Stafford, Pauline (2001). Queen Emma & Queen Edith: Queenship and Women's Power in Eleventh-Century England. Oxford: Blackwell. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

External links

Christian titles
Preceded by
Ælfsige II
Bishop of Winchester
Succeeded by

This page was last edited on 26 February 2021, at 08:50
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