Dr Caitlin Green @caitlinrgreen History, archaeology, place-names & early lit. Main research on post-Roman Britain & Anglo-Saxon England; also long-distance trade, migration & contact. Mar. 09, 2018 3 min read

Wulfric of Lincoln & the English Varangians: the first documented Byzantine ambassador to England in the early 12th century — new post by me :)  http://www.caitlingreen.org/2018/03/wulfric-of-lincoln-byzantine-ambassador.html 

Wulfric of Lincoln was sent to England by the Byzantine emperor Alexios I Komnenus in c. 1100–1117 with gifts for King Henry I & Queen Matilda, but we only know of his embassy by a chance reference to it by a monk of Abingdon Abbey...

As to Wulfric's identity, it seems likely that he was one of the Anglo-Saxon emigrants who had left England for the Byzantine Empire in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest, see

Gold coin of the Byzantine emperor Michael VII (1071–8), in whose reign the English Varangians are thought to have arrived in Constantinople; found in North Yorkshire:  https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/388886 

Wulfric of Lincoln was not the only Anglo-Saxon emigrant to take a significant role under the emperor e.g. Goscelin of Canterbury refers to an 'honourable man' from England (probably called Coleman) who did just that in the late 11thC...

In addition to the arm of St John Chrysostom that he gave to Abingdon Abbey, Wulfric also brought with him pieces of the True Cross—one was subsequently sent to Reading Abbey & kept 'in a cloth that the emperor of Constantinople sent to Henry the first, king of the English'.

Whether the exiled Anglo-Saxon Wulfric visited his hometown of Lincoln when he returned to Norman England as an imperial ambassador after c.1100 is unknown, but an imperial Byzantine seal of Alexios I has been found at Torksey, Lincolnshire:  https://www.academia.edu/2348343/An_imperial_Byzantine_seal_from_Lincolnshire 

Incidentally, this post also maps 11th- & 12th-century Byzantine seals and coins in Britain; the two major concentrations are at Winchester and London:  http://www.caitlingreen.org/2018/03/wulfric-of-lincoln-byzantine-ambassador.html 

A Byzantine lead seal issued by the ministry of finance at Constantinople in 1025–1075; found at Queenhithe, London:  https://collections.museumoflondon.org.uk/online/object/450992.html 

The seal of Edward the Confessor, d. 1066 — included the Byzantine title basileus, which was intermittently used by the 10th- to 11th-century English kings:  https://www.academia.edu/2127281/From_Anglorum_basileus_to_Norman_Saint_The_Transformation_of_Edward_the_Confessor 

For Joseph of Canterbury's visit to Constantinople in c. 1090 and his encounter with 'men from his own homeland… who were part of the emperor’s household', see this great blog post by @Pseudo_Isidore.

For some slightly earlier links between Britain and the Byzantine Empire, see :)

Worth noting that whilst main influx of 'English Varangians' to Constantinople came in the late 11thC, were probably earlier individual Anglo-Saxons there e.g. this Byzantine seal of c.1030/1040 from Winchester, prob from a Varangian's contract of service:  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=hqskIWgAaxwC&lpg=PA680&pg=PA680#v=onepage&q&f=false 

Disc from a pendant showing the Byzantine empress Theodora Porphyrogenita (1055–56), found nr Hitchin, Hertfordshire:  https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/725343 

Slightly earlier, a silver Byzantine coin of Romanus III (1028–34), gilded & mounted as a pendant; found near Hertford:  https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/216514 

When the Byzantine Emperor himself actually visited England in 1400–01:

An anecdote concerning a fight between Hardigt, a man sent by the Anglo-Saxon emigrants to the Emperor, and some lions at Constantinople, from the Laon chronicle account of Nova Anglia, see  http://www.caitlingreen.org/2018/03/wulfric-of-lincoln-byzantine-ambassador.html 

Some tombstones of 'English Varangians' were apparently still to be seen at Constantinople in 1865, but were subsequently destroyed:  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=qocKfNid3SUC&lpg=PA147&pg=PA147#v=onepage&q&f=false 

A silver Byzantine coin of Isaac I, c.1057–59 AD. Minted at Constantinople and found at Wilby, Suffolk:  https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/705127 

A pierced copper-alloy Byzantine coin of Constantine IX, c. 1050–60, found in Derbyshire; the piercing is directly above the figure of Christ, suggesting that it was intended to convert the coin into a pendant displaying this image:  https://finds.org.uk/database/artefacts/record/id/638538 

You can follow @caitlinrgreen.


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