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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Bishop of Winchester
Appointedbetween 878 and 879
Term ended908
Consecrationbetween 878 and 879
Personal details

Denewulf (died 908) was a medieval Bishop of Winchester from 878 or 879 until his death. Little is known of him, though by tradition he began life as a swineherd, and was promoted to bishop at an advanced age after a chance encounter with Alfred the Great.

Life and tradition

Denewulf was consecrated as Bishop of Winchester between 878 and 879. He died in 908.[1] Chroniclers beginning with John of Worcester in the 12th century recorded a tradition that Denewulf was originally an illiterate swineherd who had a chance encounter with King Alfred the Great. According to these versions, Alfred was taking refuge from the Danes in the forest where Denewulf was feeding his pigs. He was so impressed with the elderly swineherd's character that he sponsored his education and had elevated him to bishop.[2]

Denuwulf's name subsequently became attached to an older story regarding Alfred's encounter with a swineherd. According to this story, first recorded in the tenth-century Life of Neot, Alfred stayed with a swineherd and his wife for several days while fleeing the Danes. One day, the wife berated him for not turning her cakes on the stove when they began to burn; the humbled king subsequently helped her with the baking. This swineherd was identified as Denewulf in John Hardyng's verse chronicle, first published in 1543; in this version Alfred made Denewulf bishop following his wife's death.[3][4] The story of Alfred and the cakes was often repeated as an example of the suffering the king endured for his realm; modern retellings usually play up the humorous aspect.[5]


  1. ^ Fryde, et al. Handbook of British Chronology p. 223
  2. ^ John of Worcester Chronicle, vol. II, pp. 312-315
  3. ^ Hutjens, Linda (2009). "The Disguised King in Early English Ballads". In Dimmock, Matthew; Hadfield, Andrew (eds.). Literature and Popular Culture in Early Modern England. Ashgate Publishing. pp. 84–86. ISBN 0754665801. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  4. ^ Horspool, David (2006). King Alfred: Burnt Cakes And Other Legends. Harvard University Press. pp. 84-85. ISBN 067402320X. Retrieved 12 June 2013. cakes.
  5. ^ Horspool, David (2006). King Alfred: Burnt Cakes And Other Legends. Harvard University Press. pp. 85-86. ISBN 067402320X. Retrieved 12 June 2013. cakes.


  • 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.
  • John of Worcester Chronicle, ed. R. R. Darlington and P. McGurk, trans. Jennifer Bray and P. McGurk. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1995.

External links

Christian titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Winchester
c. 879–908
Succeeded by

This page was last edited on 17 February 2021, at 20:58
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