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Wulfstan was a merchant sea captain, probably English, who gave an account of his voyages to King Alfred. All we know of him is set out in his account of his voyages to the Baltic (Ostsæ), which is recorded in King Alfred's version of Orosius. The account takes up from the narrative of Ohthere, the Norwegian sea captain, about whom once again we know nothing beyond his narrative in the Old English Orosius. Both narratives follows a description of the peoples of Europe, or at least of Germanic and Slavic Europe.

Wulstan gives a remarkable first-hand account of the Baltic lands from a seaman's perspective, like Ohthere's account of the north, and it is in sharp contrast to the monkish style that is found in much of the book. It is what one man's eye has seen, not second-hand knowledge tidied up according to preconceptions.

Wulfstan takes up from Ohthere's reference to Sciringesheal, a Norwegian merchant town, and leads us on a sea journey through the Danish islands and Slesvig, along the Baltic Sea to the merchant town of Truso (which stood where the port of Elbing now stands, on the Frisches Haff). He then describes the Estas (Estonians) and their habits.

Ohthere; se endemesta dælEdit

Wiðsuðan þone Sciringesheal lið swyðe mycel sæ up in on ðæt lond; seo is bradre þonne ænig man oferseon mæge, and is Gotland on oðre healfe ongean and siððan Sillende. Seo sæ lið mænig hund mila up in on þæt land. And of Sciringesheale he cwæð þæt he seglode on fif dagan to þæm porte þe mon hæt æt Hæþum; se stent betuh Winedum, and Seaxum, and Angle, and hyrð in on Dene. Ða he þiderweard seglode fram Sciringesheale, þa wæs him on þæt bæcbord Denamearc, and on þæt steorbord widsæ þry dagas; and þa, twegen dagas ær he to Hæþum come, him wæs on þæt steorbord Gotland, and Sillende, and iglanda fela. On þæm landum eardodon Engle, ær hi hider on land coman. And hym wæs ða twegen dagas on ðæt bæcbord þa igland þe in Denemearce hyrað.

Wulfstanes spellEdit

Wulfstan sæde þæt he gefore of Hæðum, þæt he wære on Truso on syfan dagum and nihtum, þæt þæt scip wæs ealne weg yrnende under segle. Weonoðland him wæs on steorbord, and on bæcbord him wæs Langaland and Læland and Falster and Sconeg; and þas land eall hyrað to Denemearcan. And þonne Burgenda land wæs us on bæcbord, and þa habbað him sylf cyning. Þonne æfter Burgenda lande wæron us þas land þa synd hatene ærest Blecinga eg, and Meore and Eowland and Gotland on bæcbord; and þas land hyrað to Sweon. And Weonodland wæs us ealne weg on steorbord oð Wislemuðan. Seo Wisle is swyðe mycel ea, and hio tolið Witland and Weonodland, and þæt Witland belimpeð to Estum. And seo Wisle lið ut of Weonodlande and lið in Estmere, and se Estmere is huru fiftene mila brad. Þonne cymeð Ilfing eastan in Estmere of ðæm mere ðe Truso standeð in staðe, and cumað ut samod in Estmere, Ilfing eastan of Estlande and Wisle suðan of Winodlande, and þonne benimð Wisle Ilfing hire naman, and ligeð of þæm mere west and norð on sæ; for ðy hit man hæt Wislemuða. Þæt Estland is swyðe mycel, and þær bið swyðe manig burh, and on ælcere byrig bið cynincg. And þær bið swyðe mycel hunig and fiscað; and se cyning and þa ricostan men drincað myran meolc, and þa unspedigan and þa þeowan drincað medo. Þær bið swyðe mycel gewinn betweonan him. And ne bið ðær nænig ealo gebrowen mid Estum, ac þær bið medo genoh.

And þær is mid Estum ðeaw, þonne þær bið man dead, þæt he lið inne unforbærned mid his magum and freondum monað, ge hwilum twegen; and þa kyningas and þa oðre heahðungene men swa micle lencg swa hi maran speda habbað, hwilum healf gear þæt hi beoð unforbærned; and licgað bufan eorðan on hyra husum. And ealle þa hwile þe þæt lic bið inne, þær sceal beon gedrync and plega, oð ðone dæg þe hi hine forbærnað. Þonne þy ylcan dæge þe hi hine to þæm ade beran wyllað, þonne todælað hi his feoh þæt þær to lafe bið æfter þæm gedrynce and þæm plegan on fif oððe syx, hwylum on ma, swa swa þæs feos andefn bið. Alecgað hit ðonne forhwæga on anre mile þone mæstan dæl fram þæm tune, þonne oðerne, ðonne þæne þriddan, oþ þæt hyt eall aled bið on þære anre mile; and sceall beon se læsta dæl nyhst þæm tune ðe se deada man on lið.

Ðonne sceolon beon gesamnode ealle ða menn ðe swyftoste hors habbað on þæm lande, forhwæga on fif milum oððe on syx milum fram þæm feo. Þonne ærnað hy ealle toweard þæm feo; ðonne cymeð se man se þæt swiftoste hors hafað to þæm ærestan dæle and to þæm mæstan, and swa ælc æfter oðrum, oþ hit bið eall genumen; and se nimð þone læstan dæl se nyhst þæm tune þæt feoh geærneð. And þonne rideð ælc hys weges mid ðan feo, and hyt motan habban eall; and for ðy þær beoð þa swiftan hors ungefoge dyre. And þonne hys gestreon beoð þus eall aspended, þonne byrð man hine ut and forbærneð mid his wæpnum and hrægle. And swiðost ealle hys speda hy forspendað mid þan langan legere þæs deadan mannes inne, and þæs þe hy be þæm wegum alecgað, þe ða fremdan to ærnað and nimað.

And þæt is mid Estum þeaw þæt þær sceal ælces geðeodes man beon forbærned; and gyf þar man an ban findeð unforbærned, hi hit sceolan miclum gebetan. And þær is mid Estum an mægð þæt hi magon cyle gewyrcan; and þy þær licgað þa deadan men swa lange and ne fuliað, þæt hy wyrcað þone cyle hine on. And þeah man asette twegen fætelsas full ealað oððe wæteres, hy gedoð þæt oþer bið oferfroren, sam hit sy sumor sam winter.

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