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Vikings Wanderer: Other Strangeness!

 

 

Aside from the Princess Kwentirith and her strangeness ( as if that isn’t enough for anyone to handle!) there was so much other strangeness going that it was difficult to keep up with it!  Before we see what the next chapter reveals, we should look at those odd events.  When we spoke of  Torstein’s fate, and of Kwentirith, I mentioned some celebration which included mushrooms? I believe those mushrooms were part of the cause for the lack of treatment to Torstein’s arm. So, first let us look at that celebration and those mushrooms.

Of important note relating to this celebration involving mushrooms- mushrooms have been long known for their hallucinogenic properties and are still often used in many shamanic rituals and vision quests. In a previous episode, Floki fed his friends a certain type of mushroom, “food of the Gods” to put them into death like trance. Mushrooms have often been referred to as food of the Gods because of their various hallucinogenic properties and other affects. One must be extremely cautious when eating mushrooms and know exactly what kind they are eating. Some will cause the hallucinations, some will have the death trance affect, and yet other will cause types of crazed behavior such as that of going Berserker… A number of resources have made reference to the Norse people using mushrooms to help achieve that Berserker affect. 

Mushrooms as food of Gods

http://www.philipcoppens.com/mushrooms.html

After the battle with Kwentirith’s Uncle, the group engaged in celebration that centered around the eating of mushrooms. Their celebration turned bizarre to say the least! Floki, after ingesting some of them, found Kwentirith’s behavior amusing and had no issue with going out to retrieve her Uncle’s head for her to chop into bits!

another bite of the shroom and sure no problem I'll get the head

floki gets his head

here is uncle Britwulf

here is uncle Britwulf

Whether Kwentirith’s behavior was due partially to ingestion of said shrooms or her general insanity is uncertain…

Kwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

I should mention here that Aethelwulf and his Priest were not impressed or amused by the celebration or the behaviors that ensued!

Aethelwulf and his priest look on in shock

Aethelwulf and his priest look on in shock

I hate to admit it, but it was our Rollo who was responsible for encouraging the consumption of large quantities of the mushrooms. Being a good friend and good host, he offered his find to everyone, including Torstein. Rollo offered Torstein mushrooms as a form of   pain relief, which I suppose could go to his favor as he was trying to aid his friend in the only way he knew of at the time?

rollo offers mushrooms as relief

rollo offers mushrooms as relief

passing the shrooms

Rollo’s behavior due to the mushrooms was by far the most bizarre and begs to answer the question of, “How many mushrooms are too many?” Rollo obviously consumed far too many of the shrooms!

I wonder how many shrooms are too many shrooms

To say that Rollo’s behavior was bizarre would be understating and putting it mildly?  It started as just a curious observation on his part of watching the group of prisoners and then descended into an obsessive thought concerning one captive and his leg?

What's that moving over there in the woods

What’s that moving over there in the woods

I must fix this now

I must fix this now

what is wrong with these barbarians

I see dead people  I see dead people moving

I see dead people I see dead people moving

There now I see dead people

There now I see dead people

I shall fix this leg and it's annoyance to me

I shall fix this leg and it’s annoyance to me

Ohhh oooops I guess I do not see dead people?

Ohhh oooops I guess I do not see dead people?

that dead man is yelling at me  I must yell back

After chopping off the offensive leg, Rollo staggers away and realizes that yes, maybe there is such a thing as too many mushrooms?

Whoa I don't think I should have had that last shroom

The shrooms did have some helpful affect on Torstein… he was so dazed that he did not seem phased by Rollo’s act other than to casually ask, “Why did you do that?” Rollo’s reply… “It was that leg, I did not like the angle of it!”

why did you do that   that leg  I did not like the look of it

Rollo’s ingestion of said shrooms also affected him in that after a rather embarrassing encounter with Kwentirith, he found the whole event hilarious?

Ummm not so fast  the witch come out in her

Ummm not so fast the witch come out in her

No means No at least you understood that didn't you

No means No at least you understood that didn’t you

NO Now we know our first English word A woman has slapped me and told me no why do I find that so hilarious

I do think that they all embibed far too many  mushrooms and their next action was a direct result of that…

well ok maybe the shrooms haven't quite worn off yet

well ok maybe the shrooms haven’t quite worn off yet

It did have the desired affect of scaring the crap out of their enemy but once the shrooms wore off, they were then faced with another rather nasty after affect? While it seemed like a great idea at the time, it was one of those things where you rethink your decision once you have to clean it all up the next day!

whose bright idea was this now we have to get rid of all of them

whose bright idea was this now we have to get rid of all of them

now the shrooms have worn off and the men think well maybe this was a little much

now the shrooms have worn off and the men think well maybe this was a little much

 

The other strangeness had nothing to do with mushrooms or celebrating… though, I do wonder if the women perhaps being bored- were ingesting a few mushrooms of their own? This event took place in Kattegat and involved the women left behind. Aslaug, Helga and Siggy were left behind at Kattegat to fend for themselves… This event could only be described as “Nightmare in Kattegat”! The women began having an odd shared dream experience where they each saw the same strange man, and the impending death of their ancient Seer?

I can not discount the idea or concept of shared dreams because I have had my own personal experience involving them.  For me it had nothing to do with the mystical or religious/spiritual ritual connotations  but was more of  what I believe might have been some past life memory that we all might have shared? I will delve more into it in a separate post at a later time. I just mention it because, having had my own experience with the shared dreams, this event struck a chord with me. I do believe that they exist for any number of different reasons. They come from some deeper place in our consciousness and serve to connect our spirits or souls in some way to teach us a group lesson, to possibly bond us together for some reason?  These three women left in Kattegat are three very different women going on very different paths of life. They are not necessarily that good friends with each other, but they do have one thing in common. These women are deeply rooted in the old religion, the old ways and they are not yet swayed or prone to believing in the new Christian religion. While the others travel to England and become more exposed to new beliefs and traditions, these three women will hold more firmly to their own ways and beliefs. Aslaug was considered to be a Volva or seer in her own right. What the dreams mean to them, or are predicting is uncertain as yet. There any number of things that they could be representing and everyone has their own theory on what the dreams are foreshadowing or telling us. Their dreams are of a wandering traveler arriving at their village. All of the women agree that part of the dream is not frightening but exciting? It is a dream from which they are disappointed to wake from and realize it is not real. They look forward to this stranger coming.  In their dreams, he arrives with one hand covered in blood and the other hand holding a ball of flaming snow?  The dream that disturbs them is one of  the death of their ancient Seer… What should we read into these dreams? I really have no more idea than the women at this point! Could the wanderer be Odin in disguise, some think this a possibility. Could the death of the Seer be a representation of the death or demise of their religion, their beliefs? I think this could be a good possibility.  If that is the case, then does the Wanderer have something to do with bringing about this demise, this change? Is he some sort of prophet sent to test them and tempt them? Or is he just some sort of Charlatan or trickster who sees lonely gullible women to take advantage of with intent to sell them some fabrication of his creation?

 

Shared Dreaming- does it exist?

https://lucidallnight.wordpress.com/2008/01/04/shared-dreaming-does-it-exist/

nightmare in kattegat

As I stated, perhaps they were a bit bored, a bit frustrated, and a bit worried about their futures? They were wandering around Kattegat with far too much free time on their hands and their minds…

the women left behind share a dream

speaking of the dream

speaking of the dream

The curious and mysterious dream of a strange wanderer turned to a nightmare of seeing their Seer slaughtered, coved in blood…

where are you ancient one

looking for the seer

looking for the seer

seeing the death of the seer

seeing the death of the seer

nightmare in kattegat

was it just a dream?

was it just a dream?

Awaking from the nightmare, they all tried to assure each other that is was just a bad dream… Yes, just a bad dream

so much blood it was everywhere

so much blood it was everywhere

sharing the nightmare

sharing the nightmare

it was only a dream

it was only a dream

Or was it? The wanderer that they had seen in their dreams made his appearance in Kattegat!

wanderer coming through the mist

wanderer coming through the mist

wanderer comes out of the mist

wanderer comes out of the mist

the wanderer

helga sees him coming

helga sees him coming

blood in the snow

blood in the snow

wanderer's hand dripping with blood

wanderer’s hand dripping with blood

the wanderer arrives dripping blood and holding flaming snow

the wanderer arrives dripping blood and holding flaming snow

These three women will be tested, tempted and each will fight their own personal inner battle- perhaps that is what the Wanderer is there for? To simply guide these women through their own choices and set them on their own varying paths of life.   While the Wanderer is testing these women in Kattegat, in England Athelstan faces his own tests of faith.

There are so many layers of subtle clues and connections that it is difficult to pinpoint them all!  I do find it interesting and curious that while the Wanderer is dripping blood from his injured hand, Athelstan is also dripping blood from his own hands? Athelstan makes a very profound and prophetic analogy too, when he is trying to explain the differences in beliefs but mentions how closely they are actually connected. His comparison of Odin dying on a tree and being reborn to Christ being crucified and resurrected speaks volumes in connecting the two religions. In his thoughtful perception that Odin’s death and rebirth story was so similar but happened so many centuries before the story of Christ, Athelstan was able to bridge that basic lack of understanding and acceptance of beliefs. Would it sink in and have affect on the others he spoke to such as Judith? That remains to be seen. Ecbert already has an understanding and some acceptance of the concept but he has a higher priority that concerns him. Whether Ecbert believes in Christianity or not is rather a moot point… he understands the power of the Christian Church, the politics of that Church. He knows that in order to continue with his own quest for power, he needs the backing of the Church. Ecbert will play the good and devout Christian because it is in his best interests to do so.  Lagertha is faithful to Odin and her beliefs, but in all reality, Odin has not been all that generous or kind to her lately? If she should face yet another crisis in her life and feel let down or feel that Odin has once more turned his back upon her, she may be open to other options… She is also a very intelligent woman who will make her own choices and decisions based on what she sees and experiences. Ragnar is already at the point of questioning his beliefs because of Athelstan’s guidance, so Lagertha may make her own way down that path as well.  Judith, a devout Christian would have the most difficult time accepting any religion or belief system that goes against her own. Her mind is so engrained in the Church’s teachings that to question anything different would be almost impossible for her to comprehend.

Athelstan is destined to a higher purpose in life. His mind, his body and his soul are being tested now and it seems that it will only be a matter of time before he passes these tests and is called back to God? He has already had an affect on both Ecbert and Ragnar… how many others will his spirit touch before he leaves this earth.  Peacemakers such Athelstan made it possible for some to find a way of accepting other beliefs than their own. Many of the people who converted to Christianity in the beginning did so because they already had a belief in more than one God, so in their mindset, they could look upon the Christian God as just another of the many Gods they held belief in. It is far easier to accept one God into a house of many than it is to share your one personal God with a whole house of other ones.  Many early converts also saw the advantages and benefits that the all powerful church could provide and thus went along with the ruse of belief even if they thought it was all nonsense?

Athelstan the bridge between two worlds

Setting Athelstan’s personal struggles aside for now- he is struggling with those more earthly lessons of passion and desire… and is being tested in that area by the Lady Judith. She is also being tested greatly and as her Father in law, King Ecbert reminds her, she is treading in dangerous waters with her desire and fascination for Athelstan.  This is a personal test for both of them and what ever the results, I am sure they will both suffer some consequence for it.  There is a far greater test facing Athelstan right now that involves all of the new settlers as well, including Lagertha. 

I have mentioned previously, the wounds on Athelstan’s hands that do not seem to ever heal completely. Those wounds occurred when he was tortured and crucified by other “Christian” Priests…

crucifiction of Athelstan crucifiction of Athelstan2

Ecbert saved his life that day and their bond began there.

Now, he seems marked forever by God and though he does not seek or want the attention, his affliction is seen as a mark of holiness and greatness by some? So, while Athelstan does not reach for fame or want it, he will most likely receive it.  It is a belief of the Norsemen that fame and reputation are the greatest of gifts and accomplishments that one could receive from the Gods. They often desire and crave it more than anything else, for then when you enter Valhalla, the Gods will know of you from your actions and your fame on earth? Kalf in Hedeby- the one who would betray Lagertha for such greatness speaks of this exact desire. His one goal, his one desire is to be as famous as Ragnar, so that all will know his name.

what sensible man would be afraid of one such him a farmer who made himself king

what sensible man would be afraid of one such him a farmer who made himself king

Kalf does not really care how he becomes famous, only cares that the Gods know his name and remember him? He will do anything to pursue this greatness while Athelstan on the other hand, would most likely do anything not to be so famous?

I want to be famous I want the Gods to know my name

I want to be famous I want the Gods to know my name

It remains to be seen yet as to how the Gods and the spinners of fate will answer Kalf’s wishes?  Meanwhile, God has already given Athelstan his destiny whether he wants it or not…

Athelstan's hands dripping in blood

Stigmata:

Stigmata (singular stigma) is a term used by members of the Christian faith to describe body marks, sores, or sensations of pain in locations corresponding to the crucifixion wounds of Jesus Christ, such as the hands, wrists, and feet.

The term originates from the line at the end of Saint Paul‘s Letter to the Galatians where he says, “I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.” Stigmata is the plural of the Greek word στίγμα stigma, meaning a mark, tattoo,  or brand such as might have been used for identification of an animal or slave. An individual bearing stigmata is referred to as a stigmatic or a stigmatist.

Stigmata are primarily associated with the Roman Catholic faith. Many reported stigmatics are members of Catholic religious orders. St. Francis of Assisi was the first recorded stigmatic in Christian history. For over fifty years, St. Padre Pio of Pietrelcina of the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin reported stigmata which were studied by several 20th-century physicians.

 

Athelstan’s hands that will not heal and that often drip blood are his destiny, his fate… they are his God’s mark, his testimony and his lesson to others? God has sent this sign through Athelstan to show others. Actions speak louder than words… While Athelstan is a gifted teacher, speaker and preacher, sometimes it takes more than words to convince people. The settlers are all pagans who deeply resent the Christian interference in their lives. When Lagertha settled into the new home, Ecbert made much of insisting that Athelstan bless the home. This offended some of the people. It  caused anger and dissent between our own people, some of whom were already feeling a pull towards these new beliefs.

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

one of the settlers shows what he thinks of the christian blessing

one of the settlers shows what he thinks of the christian blessing

the woman prays along until the man stops her

the woman prays along until the man stops her

It was some time after this house blessing event that Athelstan came to us in great despair and concern… he was as frightened and alarmed as the rest of us were by his hands!  He entered the house and called to us in much emotional if not physical pain.  When Lagertha turned and saw his hands, her fear and puzzlement were apparent on her face. None knew what to make of this sudden pouring out of blood from his hands.

lagertha sees Athelstan come in

lagertha sees Athelstan come in

athelstan's hands are covered in blood

athelstan’s hands are covered in blood

Even I, being a half hearted, doubtful and non-practicing Christian who has heard of such things before, was at a complete loss for words or explanation. If it should scare me, then I can only imagine what thoughts ran through everyone else’s minds and hearts?  It is one of those events that causes you to pause, wonder and fear that is truly a sign from God, or the Gods… and then your next thought is immediately of what could it mean? It is a much soul shocking event that unsettles even the most rational and logical minds!

lagertha shows fear at Athelstan's condition

lagertha is at a loss she does not know what to think

lagertha is at a loss she does not know what to think

What is the reason, what does it mean? Right now, I am as puzzled and fearful as all others… I have no rational answers or explanations! I only know that my personal faith is being questioned and tested as are those of so many others here and in Kattegat. For the time being, all I can do is put my faith in the Spinners of Fate- those most ancient ones who sit together weaving our lives and our destinies. Those spinners of fate, I do believe in. They weave all of our lives together in a pattern, a story that unfolds over time with no regard or concern for our personal choices of which God, which King, which road or river to follow. We think that we make the choices, but really they will take us where they choose in the end. I will content myself with that and I will simply follow where they lead me to.

The suffering of Athelstan

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Wanderer, part one Let us speak of Ecbert

 

 

they're at the top of that hill

they’re at the top of that hill

Before we talk of battle, blood and fears, let us talk of King Ecbert. If you recall, I previously mentioned my concerns about the land he has given us and I also voice thoughts on what his plans or motives might be?

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/26/vikings-our-arrival-in-wessex-causes-much-gossip/

Because as we all know, everyone has secrets, everyone has some ulterior motive in their actions… well, everyone but Athelstan, but his is another story that we will talk of later! For now we will just focus on Ecbert, his possible motives and of course his involvement with us.

Upon our arrival at our farms, Lagertha did indeed question King Ecbert about the same concerns that I thought of earlier. He admitted that the previous landholders had been removed to allow for our settlement. He did make much assurance though that there would be no problem and we would be well safe and under his protection.

settling into the new home ecbert makes assurance that he will protect them and there will be no repercussions

It was always Ragnar's dream to find land to farm and live peacably now that is my dream as well

It was always Ragnar’s dream to find land to farm and live peacably now that is my dream as well

I give my oath that you will be safe here

I give my oath that you will be safe here

King Ecbert did little to hide his affections for Lagertha and made much attempt to win her heart? I am not saying whether this is good or bad… time will tell of that. I trust that my Lady Lagertha is wise enough to know of what games he might play, know the consequences and even take advantage of his affections for her if the need should arise. As I have said, I am sure that he has his own agenda and motives for his actions. But, as I see it for now, he truly does care for Lagertha so, really is that such a bad thing? She enjoys his company as well and as long as she is happy, that is all matters for the time being. Who are we to judge what is in the heart of others? To some, Ecbert’s  first gift to Lagertha may have seemed lacking… but it spoke volumes to Lagertha’s heart!

the way to a farm girl's heart  a gift of dirt Ahhhh dirt my favorite scent ecbert does seem sincere in his gift though I thank you with all my heart

The farming is a hard task and everyone must help to see it’s success. Lagertha  does never put herself above us and is always willing to do far more than she needs to.

the farmstead in Wessex

In her efforts, we are reminded of the Seer’s words to her… “The Sword and the Plow will sustain you until you become like a virgin once more.”

the marriage of plow and sword will sustain you until you become a virgin once more

the marriage of plow and sword will sustain you until you become a virgin once more

King Ecbert sees her efforts and her diligence, and I think he became even more impressed with her worth? He did offer some respite to her in an invitation to visit his Villa.

Farmer Lagertha agrees to visit Ecbert's home because  I need a bath

And, so Lagertha and Athelstan went back to Egbert’s home for a visit. He did his best to ensure her comfort. When  a  dinner time discussion of religion became a bit too uncomfortable for everyone, he gracefully managed to change the subject by presenting her with an additional gift! The topic had turned to differences in beliefs, always a touchy subject for casual dinner conversation.

ecbert waits anxiously for Athelstan's answer Athelstan tries to explain the differences athelstan's answer I love Odin and I love jesus christ ecbert decides a change of subject is needed Stones are much easier to wear than earth Now really what woman could resist such a gift

Later as Lagertha and Athelstan prepared to leave, there was a discussion in which Lagertha showed that she was wiser than thought and knew more of this English language than Ecbert had assumed?  Lagertha made thanks for the beautiful necklace and mentioned that it was such fine work, it must have been created by the dwarves. Ecbert laughed and said, “We do not have dwarves in this country.” Lagertha’s reply, “Oh, yes you do, you just don’t see them!”

we don't have dwarves in England  Yes you do  you just don't see them

we don’t have dwarves in England Yes you do you just don’t see them

There was much more that happened during this visit but it regards Athelstan and the Lady Judith and not Ecbert or his involvements so much with us. We will speak more of it when we speak of Athelstan’s troubles.

 

Now, let us speak more Ecbert and his other possible motives and reasons… His motives and other plans do include that Princess Kwentirith, and of course his son Aethelwulf, so we will speak of both of them during this discussion.  First it might help to know some true  history regarding King Ecbert and his reign over Wessex. because then it might make more sense to see how Kwentirith would tie in to his possible plans.

Although Kwentirith is a fictional person, I have made mention that she bears close resemblance to a real person in the history of Wessex. For that information you can refresh your memory by reading more about that here:  https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/vikings-trivia-who-is-princess-kwenthrith/

Offa of Mercia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Offa_of_Mercia

Kwentirith at one time mentioned that her Father was Offa, King of Mercia. There was actually a battle over the control of Mercia after Offa’s death, though Ecbert was not directly involved in that other than for the fact that many of the Mercians continuously opposed him and his rule of Wessex.  It was not until later years that he became involved in wanting control of Mercia.  For our purposes, Kwentirith would play into his plans for achieving this control?  She is fighting for control of Mercia herself, or so we would assume… But, in reality, it is quite obvious that the woman is not stable and very doubtful whether the residents of Mercia would allow her to rule even if she were stable minded. If Ecbert were to back her in her plan, though, he could then take control of Mercia from her. Once the battle was won, it would not be difficult to prove her unfitness to rule and if the Papacy were on his side he could very easily gain the rule of Mercia. The Papacy was on his side as it is thought that it was their backing that helped gain him the crown of Wessex in the first place.

The battle of Ellendun

A map of England during Egbert’s reign

 In 825 one of the most important battles in Anglo-Saxon history took place, when Egbert defeated Beornwulf of Mercia at Ellendun—now Wroughton, near Swindon. This battle marked the end of the Mercian domination of southern England.   The Chronicle tells how Egbert followed up his victory: “Then he sent his son Æthelwulf from the army, and Ealhstan, his bishop, and Wulfheard, his ealdorman, to Kent with a great troop.” Æthelwulf drove Baldred, the king of Kent, north over the Thames, and according to the Chronicle, the men of Kent, Essex, Surrey and Sussex then all submitted to Æthelwulf “because earlier they were wrongly forced away from his relatives.”  This may refer to Offa’s interventions in Kent at the time Egbert’s father Ealhmund became king; if so, the chronicler’s remark may also indicate Ealhmund had connections elsewhere in southeast England.

The Chronicle’s version of events makes it appear that Baldred was driven out shortly after the battle, but this was probably not the case. A document from Kent survives which gives the date, March 826, as being in the third year of the reign of Beornwulf. This makes it likely that Beornwulf still had authority in Kent at this date, as Baldred’s overlord; hence Baldred was apparently still in power.  In Essex, Egbert expelled King Sigered, though the date is unknown. It may have been delayed until 829, since a later chronicler associates the expulsion with a campaign of Egbert’s in that year against the Mercians.

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not say who was the aggressor at Ellendun, but one recent history asserts that Beornwulf was almost certainly the one who attacked. According to this view, Beornwulf may have taken advantage of the Wessex campaign in Dumnonia in the summer of 825. Beornwulf’s motivation to launch an attack would have been the threat of unrest or instability in the southeast: the dynastic connections with Kent made Wessex a threat to Mercian dominance.

The consequences of Ellendun went beyond the immediate loss of Mercian power in the southeast. According to the Chronicle, the East Anglians asked for Egbert’s protection against the Mercians in the same year, 825, though it may actually have been in the following year that the request was made. In 826 Beornwulf invaded East Anglia, presumably to recover his overlordship. He was slain, however, as was his successor, Ludeca, who invaded East Anglia in 827, evidently for the same reason. It may be that the Mercians were hoping for support from Kent: there was some reason to suppose that Wulfred, the Archbishop of Canterbury, might be discontented with West Saxon rule, as Egbert had terminated Wulfred’s currency and had begun to mint his own, at Rochester and Canterbury,  and it is known that Egbert seized property belonging to Canterbury.  The outcome in East Anglia was a disaster for the Mercians which confirmed West Saxon power in the southeast.

 

 More information of Egbert of Wessex and the battle Ellendun http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egbert_of_Wessex

More information on Aethelwulf:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86thelwulf_of_Wessex

You might wonder how this relates in any way possible to our Vikings Saga?  Well, as it’s mentioned, this battle is the key to Ecbert taking control of Mercia. Let us look at how our story might make use of such battle?

We already know that Kwentirith is involved in a fight with her remaining brother for the land and that Ecbert has offered his help to her in this battle. Why would he offer assistance if there were not some potential of great gain for him.  He needs assistance to win the fight is not above using the force of well trained Danish mercenaries such as Ragnar and his men. This would also be a benefit because many of his own men probably are not keen on fighting with neighbors and family in Mercia? Ragnar and his men know little of the bigger picture… though Ragnar did mention earlier, “There is some bigger problem here that is not ours, but his.” He was referring to Ecbert at the time.

Ecbert’s son Aethelwulf quickly volunteered to join in the battle, which would put him in place to receive great credit for a success. A defeat of Mercia would bode well for him and it would go along with history’s reference to him being involved in the battle.

Initially there was no battle on the river bank because Kwentirith’s brother chose wisely to listen to his advisor who told him in no uncertain terms, “Leave, leave now in order to survive!”

well ok maybe the shrooms haven't quite worn off yet time to meet the brother

Bergrid I love you don't leave

Bergrid I love you don’t leave

Maybe now is a good time to pray

There was much that led up to this meeting but I will address them in another discussion. This discussion only pertains to those events important to understanding these Saxons involved in the fight.

WTH It's that crazy sister of mine!

WTH It’s that crazy sister of mine!

you must not trust her she killed your brother and she will kill you

you must not trust her she killed your brother and she will kill you

but I love her

but I love her

survive first then talk of love

survive first then talk of love

Realistically, if you were a Mercian, would you want this woman as your ruler? If  she succeeds in defeating her brother, the Mercians will probably beg King Ecbert to step in and remove her!

Kwentirith as future ruler

Bergrid made a choice to flee rather than face this army… probably a wise choice at the time. Ragnar knew he must continue the fight and sent Aethelwulf to find out where they would flee to. Aethelwul is not just a meek Christian but a warrior in his own right, and he begins to show his worth in this situation.

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

Aethelwulf also shows that he is not above his own methods of torture to gain needed information!

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

aethelwulf shows his own warrior leader side

brother birghred's man is captured

brother birghred’s man is captured

I could remove an eye or some teeth which would you prefer

I could remove an eye or some teeth which would you prefer

I don't believe you I don't know anything it's your choice

It's strange how I always know if someone is telling the truth

It’s strange how I always know if someone is telling the truth

After the threat of such torture, the captured man gives up his information and Aethelwulf offers some forgiveness as he is not like those Northmen?

I have no argument with you let's sup together  we're not all like the northmen

One added thought on Aethelwulf’s comments… perhaps Lady Judith would be wise to take heed of his warnings?

I always know when someone is telling me the truth

I always know when someone is telling me the truth

Aethelwulf returns to the group with his information that holds the key to the possible future battle?

they're at the top of that hill

they’re at the top of that hill

Berghrid and his men wait at the top of the hill for help to defeat Ragnar and Ecbert’s forces.  Why is this important, why is this the key? That most important battle for Ecbert, the battle of Ellendun was fought at or near a place called Wroughton.  Occupation of the area continued into the early Middle Ages (AD 410–1066) when two battles are understood to have taken place in the area: Breahburh (AD 567), thought to have been fought by Ceawlin of Wessex on the slopes of Barbury Hill, and Ellandun (AD 825) at Elcombe Hall by Egbert of Wessex. However there is no agreement that the latter was here (it is known to have been south of Swindon). Burial sites in the vicinity are believed to be associated with these battles.

Wroughton: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wroughton

battle of Ellendun

battle of Ellendun

Barbury Castle:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbury_Castle

aerial photograph  by webbaviation.co.uk

Barbury Castle is an Iron Age hill fort situated in Wiltshire, England. It is one of several such forts found along the ancient Ridgeway route. The site, which lies within the Wessex Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, has been managed as a country park by Swindon Borough Council since 1971. It is situated on Barbury Hill, a local vantage point, which, under ideal weather conditions, commands a view across to the Cotswolds and the River Severn. It has two deep defensive ditches and ramparts. The Old Ridgeway runs close by and the modern Ridgeway crosses through the castle. In the surrounding area are to be found round barrows, Celtic field systems and 18th-19th Century flint workings.

On a side note, this area is also the site of another historical landmark.  The Uffington White Horse is located close by.

The Uffington White Horse is a highly stylised prehistoric hill figure, 110 m long (374 feet), formed from deep trenches filled with crushed white chalk. The figure is situated on the upper slopes of White Horse Hill in the English civil parish of Uffington (in the county of Oxfordshire, historically Berkshire), some 8 km (5 mi) south of the town of Faringdon and a similar distance west of the town of Wantage; or 2.5 km south of Uffington. The hill forms a part of the scarp of the Berkshire Downs and overlooks the Vale of White Horse to the north. Best views of the figure are obtained from the air, or from directly across the Vale, particularly around the villages of Great Coxwell, Longcot and Fernham. The site is owned and managed by the National Trust and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

History

Uffington White Horse, sketched by William Plenderleath in The White Horses of the West of England (1892)

The figure presumably dates to “the later prehistory“, i.e. the Iron Age (800 BC–AD 100) or the late Bronze Age (1000–700 BC). This view was generally held by scholars even before the 1990s, based on the similarity of the horse’s design to comparable figures in Celtic art, and it was confirmed following a 1990 excavation led by Simon Palmer and David Miles of the Oxford Archaeological Unit, following which deposits of fine silt removed from the horse’s ‘beak’ were scientifically dated to the late Bronze Age.

Iron Age coins that bear a representation comparable to the Uffington White Horse have been found, supporting the early dating of this artefact; it has also been suggested that the horse had been fashioned in the Anglo-Saxon period, more particularly during Alfred’s reign, but there is no positive evidence to support this and the view is classified as “folklore” by Darvill (1996).

Numerous other prominent prehistoric sites are located nearby, notably Wayland’s Smithy, a long barrow less than 2 kilometres (1 mi) to the west. The Uffington is by far the oldest of the white horse figures in Britain, and is of an entirely different design from the others.  It has long been debated whether the chalk figure was intended to represent a horse or some other animal. However, it has been called a horse since the 11th century at least. A cartulary of Abingdon Abbey, compiled between 1072 and 1084, refers to “mons albi equi” at Uffington (“the White Horse Hill”).

The medieval Welsh book, Llyfr Coch Hergest [The Red Book of Hergest] (1375-1425), states: “Gerllaw tref Abinton y mae mynydd ac eilun march arno a gwyn ydiw. Ni thyf dim arno.” which translates as “Near to the town of Abinton there is a mountain with a figure of a stallion upon it and it is white. Nothing grows upon it.”

The head of the horse, with sheep grazing around it.

The horse is thought to represent a tribal symbol perhaps connected with the builders of Uffington Castle.

White Horse Hill and Dragon Hill

Also important to note here is Ecbert’s later move on to Northumbria?  According to history, shortly after his victory of  Mercia, he took control of Northumbria as well.Later in 829, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Egbert received the submission of the Northumbrians at Dore (now a suburb of Sheffield); the Northumbrian king was probably Eanred.  According to a later chronicler, Roger of Wendover, Egbert invaded Northumbria and plundered it before Eanred submitted: “When Egbert had obtained all the southern kingdoms, he led a large army into Northumbria, and laid waste that province with severe pillaging, and made King Eanred pay tribute.” Roger of Wendover is known to have incorporated Northumbrian annals into his version; the Chronicle does not mention these events.   However, the nature of Eanred’s submission has been questioned: one historian has suggested that it is more likely that the meeting at Dore represented a mutual recognition of sovereignty. In 830 Egbert led a successful expedition against the Welsh, almost certainly with the intent of extending West Saxon influence into the Welsh lands previously within the Mercian orbit. This marked the high point of Egbert’s influence.
Our Vikings saga differs from history in that our Aelle is currently leader of Northumbria… and conveniently, his daughter, Lady Judith has been married off to Aethelwulf to seal alliances between the kingdoms.  At this time, I am unaware of what precise agreements were made between Aelle and Ecbert so I can not delve into that right now.
Ecbert did gain control over Mercia and Northumbria in the 820s but was unable to maintain that control. Both Wessex’s sudden rise to power in the late 820s, and the subsequent failure to retain this dominant position, have been examined by historians looking for underlying causes. One plausible explanation for the events of these years is that Wessex’s fortunes were to some degree dependent on Carolingian support. The Franks supported Eardwulf when he recovered the throne of Northumbria in 808, so it is plausible that they also supported Egbert’s accession in 802. At Easter 839, not long before Egbert’s death, he was in touch with Louis the Pious, king of the Franks, to arrange safe passage to Rome. Hence a continuing relationship with the Franks seems to be part of southern English politics during the first half of the ninth century.Carolingian support may have been one of the factors that helped Egbert achieve the military successes of the late 820s. However, the Rhenish and Frankish commercial networks collapsed at some time in the 820s or 830s, and in addition, a rebellion broke out in February 830 against Louis the Pious—the first of a series of internal conflicts that lasted through the 830s and beyond. These distractions may have prevented Louis from supporting Egbert. In this view, the withdrawal of Frankish influence would have left East Anglia, Mercia and Wessex to find a balance of power not dependent on outside aid.

Despite the loss of dominance, Egbert’s military successes fundamentally changed the political landscape of Anglo-Saxon England. Wessex retained control of the south-eastern kingdoms, with the possible exception of Essex, and Mercia did not regain control of East Anglia.   Egbert’s victories marked the end of the independent existence of the kingdoms of Kent and Sussex. The conquered territories were administered as a subkingdom for a while, including Surrey and possibly Essex.   Although Æthelwulf was a subking under Egbert, it is clear that he maintained his own royal household, with which he travelled around his kingdom. Charters issued in Kent described Egbert and Æthelwulf as “kings of the West Saxons and also of the people of Kent.” When Æthelwulf died in 858 his will, in which Wessex is left to one son and the southeastern kingdom to another, makes it clear that it was not until after 858 that the kingdoms were fully integrated.  Mercia remained a threat, however; Egbert’s son Æthelwulf, established as king of Kent, gave estates to Christ Church, Canterbury, probably to counter any influence the Mercians might still have there.

In the southwest, Egbert was defeated in 836 at Carhampton by the Danes,  but in 838 he won a battle against them and their allies the West Welsh at the Battle of Hingston Down in Cornwall. The Dumnonian royal line continued after this time, but it is at this date that the independence of one of the last British kingdoms may be considered to have ended.  The details of Anglo-Saxon expansion into Cornwall are quite poorly recorded, but some evidence comes from place names.  The river Ottery, which flows east into the Tamar near Launceston, appears to be a boundary: south of the Ottery the placenames are overwhelmingly Cornish, whereas to the north they are more heavily influenced by the English newcomers.

I know that I have probably provided more information on Ecbert than most would be interested in knowing, but as I have stated before, I think it is important to understand some of his historical background when trying to figure out his character in our version of history.  I also think that it is important to present some of this history as a counter part to the fiction that is being presented in our story.

In regards to the changes that Michael Hirst makes in order to adapt history to the storyline, I feel he makes great attempts to weave historical events and people into the story. I remind everyone that it is after all, historical fiction! My personal feeling is that this battle of Ellendun is  crucial to the expansion of Ecbert’s rule and later, Aethelwulf’s rule as well. I would think that might well get presented somehow within the story to show that other side of Ecbert, that side that we have seen little of as yet?  So, my current thought is that Berghrid’s men at the top of that hill in the distance could be some reference to this important battle.

they're at the top of that hill

they’re at the top of that hill

 

 

 

Vikings: Our arrival in Wessex causes much gossip!

Ok, first of all forgive me… I had hoped to write this earlier but I am afraid that I am not feeling so much like a hale and hearty Dane right now? I hate to admit of this, but I am feeling a bit under the weather and I fear this place has something to do with my current ailment. I have become so used to the generally crisp clean air of our Danemark that I had forgotten how truly horrendous and foul a place… and people can smell? Please forgive me if I sound off putting or rude to those of you who are Saxons by birth or ancestry, but this place smells awful! This  village is over full of people and animals all crammed together in one small space. It reeks of midden piles too close to living quarters, of waste both animal and human, and I do not know of when it might have been since some of these people have bathed. What ever happened to the oft repeated phrase, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness?”  Apparently, that phrase has not been coined or made so popular yet.  This is one great difference between our people and these Saxons. For the most part, we are a clean lot. Perhaps it is because we do not have such odd fear of water as these people seem to? We live near water- lakes and rivers cover our landscape… And, we make use of it. It is nothing uncommon for us to swim or to bathe in the rivers or lakes as often as need be. It astounds me that these people who also have access to lakes, to rivers, to the sea for some of them, would have such aversion to immersing themselves in it on some regular basis.  I pray to the Gods that we finish our preparations here quickly and can leave the overwhelming stench of this village! On a personal thought, all I can think is no wonder disease and plague spread so quickly. I want to be away from all of these people and Gods knows what germs they may spread.

Our arrival has caused a whirlwind of gossip and curiosity from the people here as well as suspicions and resentments. Of course, the women here all profess to be in fear of us and our men, but I can see that they also eye our men with something other than fear. I have to say that our men have been behaving themselves well for the most part? They are too busy making preparations for the coming battle they fight for that witch, Princess Kwentirith… I do have my own personal suspicions of her and I am not alone in my feelings. I know that there is most likely much more going on here than we are being told of, something does not feel right about this entire situation and I hold her liable for what ever schemes are being plotted without our knowledge. That said and set aside, I will say that our warriors are feeling some excitement about the fight even if it is not really our fight to be part of? They have been cooped up for too long and any excuse for a fight is looked forward to by them right now! I do need to add too that besides the fighting, some of them do look for free and honest women to pass some time with… Most of the women who have made this journey are wives and family- not ones who are willing or interested in sharing their beds or bodies with all of the men! So, the men’s eyes do wander to these Saxon women who may be of easy virtue and who seem more than willing to share their bodies, whether they would admit it openly or not! There are always willing women where ever one travels to and our men generally are not in the habit or liking of the idea of forcing a woman. Yes, I know of what future rumors will say about our men forcing themselves on women but it is not true. There are always those kinds of men in any society who would take enjoyment from abusing women, so our men have been put in much bad light for the sake of making some other group look better when it is simply not the case!  Our men are deeply offended by the thought that they would take such great pleasure or enjoyment from the abuse and rape of women. As I have said, for one thing- there are always women to be found anywhere you go, there is no pleasure or enjoyment to be found in forcing oneself on an unwilling person. No, that form of abuse has nothing to do with pleasure but all to do with power and control.

Our men are fine ones, respectful of women, courteous and usually well mannered in their interactions with women. They have no need to force themselves upon any woman, in fact they often have the problem of  avoiding women who are too willing and too desired of wanting them! And, if we are to be honest, there are many women who would take advantage of their kind hearts… there are also women who would lie and deceive, women who would willingly enjoy favor with men and then if found out, would claim they were forced? We all know of such women.

 

Now, as to rumors and gossip surrounding us here… much of that gossip pertains to the one person who we would think should cause none? Our friend Athelstan the priest is at the center of this gossip. Athelstan is normally the least likely man that any of us would assume there should be interest or curiosity about! For some reason though, he has attracted much attention from various virtuous religious ones here. It all has to do with the fact that he is or was a Christian monk, one of  God’s holiest of men, has turned against God and become Pagan, and yet carries a mark from God upon his hand.  During his last visit here, he was tortured by these “Godly” men, crucified by those Priests, and now his hand bears a scar that does not heal. I have looked at his hand, and I am as mystified as anyone else? I am not one for such mystical and religious miracles. I have tried to put it down to some more basic scientific or medical reason for the wound not healing completely, but even I do wonder at it?

I know you too well you can not hide anything

I know you too well you can not hide anything

The most important thing you must remember about this time is that anything unexplainable is looked on with great fear and is directly attributed to God, or the Gods… for every culture tried to explain such things in the same ways. They were signs from the Gods, or from the one God. Sometimes it would be looked on favorably and considered a miracle or a gift, other times it would be looked at as a bad omen? It really depended on the person and the situation at the time? It also depended on anything that happened in relation to such occurrence? Say such sign preceded a traumatic event, then of course that sign was in retrospect, a bad omen. If the sign were related to a good event happening, then it was a miracle, a sign that God was pleased.  I am much worried for Athelstan right now in that this sign on him could easily go either way? If good things happen to those believers around him, he will be put on a pedestal and worshiped. If bad things happen, then he will be a marked man doomed to be slain by those who believe that God has marked him in anger… either way, it will not go well for our Athelstan if this wound does not heal itself.

In this time of  religious zeal, frenzy and ultimate devotion, Athelstan is the ultimate prize for those seeking a closer contact or ear to God. I do not think that he really has any idea yet how dangerous his situation could become.  One of those devout and fevered Christians is none other than Aethelwulf’s wife, Judith. Aethelwulf is himself, a devoutly religious man who deems Athelstan as a traitor to their God. From the time of Athelstan’s arrival back here, the Lady Judith has been ever watching him and Aethelwulf is not happy about this.

For my own personal reasons, I feel need to make friends with Judith… I think she can be my best way of visiting the Wilton Abbey? I am quite sure she would know well of it and could help me in my quest to gain admittance or entry there. You see, it is such a small and private Abbey right now that one would need some connection or referral from a well placed Noble to visit or eventually seek sanctuary there if need be. I am sure that if I work this right, I can get her to take me there on the premise of making contribution to their good works.  I must be careful though in my endeavor for I do plan to take advantage of her infatuation with Athelstan. I do not want to put him at more risk than necessary and hope this plan does not completely backfire on me or him!  I must also be careful in my visit of the place… I do not want to remain there right now and they may be quite forceful in attempts to convert me to their ways and keep me there. A comment from Rollo recently reminds me to use caution and not remain there at this time. We were speaking of this upcoming battle and he in jest mentioned that he should not like to return and find that I had indeed run off to one of these places? He was jesting only in part, and grew more serious in his added reply that should I find myself hiding away in such a place, he would feel need to remove me from there, by what ever force necessary!  I do fear that such an event be the start of an even greater battle, a religious war that is not a part of this history. I do not want that on my conscience!  I worry too why Rollo would feel such need to “rescue” me? When I broached that subject, he simply said, “As you once told Siggy, that is not a place for you!” I left it at that as I did not want to go any deeper into such discussion with him. His reason was that he considered me a good friend and he would not see me shut myself away from the world in such a way. It had nothing to do with any kind of deeper relationship between us which we both know is not possible.  I laughed it all off and reassured him that I would give him fair warning should I ever decide on this choice. I also had to make known the fact that I was well aware of his recent interests in all the fine women of Wessex and other places… He did look a bit sheepish at this and said that he must find ways to entertain himself and forget the heartaches. I understand this and do not hold any of it against him.

rollo's way of setting up dates

I said nothing then… I understood his bitterness and his anger at Siggy but I did know that he would not forget his feelings for her. So, as any good friend would do, I simply added her name to the list of women vying for his favors!

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

As the men busied themselves with their battle plans, I put my own plans into motion with much trepidation. This could all go so badly and I would forever feel guilt if I were the cause for anything happening to Athelstan. It was all quite easy and I placated myself, justified my actions in that the Lady Judith would have eventually made her move on Athelstan anyway even had I not intervened? All I really had to do was put myself near to her and casually strike up conversation about Athelstan with her. She could not resist the temptation to speak more with him. So, all I did was point her in his direction… and was rewarded with her undying gratitude!

lady Judith enters and makes her play for Athelstan in a chastely religious manner

lady Judith enters and makes her play for Athelstan in a chastely religious manner

Anything that would happen as a result of this meeting is upon them, not me!

I wanted to wish you and your people good fortune

I wanted to wish you and your people good fortune

If it's not true that you bear a stigmata of Christ then why not show me your hand

Judith can't resist grabbing his hand to see such a religious sign

Judith can’t resist grabbing his hand to see such a religious sign

it is true!

it is true!

kissing athelstan's hand in utter reverence and devotion

kissing athelstan’s hand in utter reverence and devotion

 

now judith will be enraptured with this saintly man marked by god

now judith will be enraptured with this saintly man marked by god

trying to regain her composure

trying to regain her composure

I will admit that even I was a little surprised by her reaction… I thought she might pass out right there from her dazed frenzy of having touched and kissed the hand of one she felt was chosen by God!

 

Athelstan's first groupie

She was so overtaken by the experience that I think she forgot everything else… including her husband, who was not happy, to say the very least!

aethelwulf can not compete with one who could be marked as a future saint

aethelwulf can not compete with one who could be marked as a future saint

fare thee well husband go save the world while I stay here with my religious treasure

fare thee well husband go save the world while I stay here with my religious treasure

wait patiently for my return

wait patiently for my return… have you forgotten you have a husband and a son!

you are my wife

you are my wife

There take that you pagan priest

There take that you pagan priest! She is my wife!

I am so sorry Athelstan… I hope that at least you will find some joy in this situation before it all goes badly?

Now the other situation which is causing much rumour, I had nothing at all do with! I watched it unfold along with everyone else at that feast and was as surprised as anyone at this next infatuation? from the moment King Ecbert laid eyes upon Lagertha, he was as he admitted, completely infatuated with her. I do not necessarily trust him any more than I trust anyone else here and I have my worries as to where this will lead. I do think that Lagertha is a strong and capable woman though and would see through any games he might attempt to play? I would hope she will not be overly dazzled by his charm and will not fall for any trap him might try to ensnare her in. But, on the brighter side, Lagertha does deserve a bit of fun, some enjoyment of life’s pleasures and she should see the advantage of having this man on her side rather than against her or us…

Yes I am King so what?

Yes I am King so what?

well at least Lagertha looks happy about his presence

well at least Lagertha looks happy about his presence

she is unlike any woman I have ever met

I am infatuated with her

I am infatuated with her

Lagertha is impressed at least a little

Lagertha is impressed at least a little

We all made our way to the land which Ecbert had promised and it was a glorious sight!

travel to the new land

travel to the new land

As we came to our new home, I was excited like everyone else, but something deeply troubled me. This was rich farmland, that had once been occupied. There were farms and homes already here… where had those people gone? Had they been forced out of their homes, off from this wealth of land for us? If so, I could well understand the bitterness and hatred from some of those in the village! What had happened to the previous residents, what had Ecbert done to them in order to provide us with this bounty.  There was an underlying fear in my heart now.

the new land all the way to the horizon with many farms that need to be worked

the new land all the way to the horizon with many farms that need to be worked

Ecbert made vows and promises of peace between us all but, could or would he keep that peace if all of those previous land holders were so intent on breaking it? How would we have felt… how did we feel when during that time in Kattegat when our lands, our homes were taken from us. Did we sit back and allow someone, such as Jarl Borg or King Horik to take our homes and our land from us. Is not this a similar situation for such people here who may have been displaced to give the lands to us?

he wants us to live in peace here

he wants us to live in peace here

 

While we journeyed to this new land and this trouble brewing, our men journeyed into their own trouble!

travel to battle

They headed into a battle for the strange princess Kwentirith… This woman was no shieldmaiden and was completely unprepared for the battle that would pit our men against her brother and her Uncle. She spent much of journey dancing and celebrating in her own bizarre fashion!

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

That is not to say the men did not enjoy the spectacle but, could any of them really take this woman seriously? One who was not amused by any of it was Aethelwulf, who voiced his disgust and his concerns to his personal Priest!

being the good christian that he is Aethelwulf goes nowhere without his personal priest

being the good christian that he is Aethelwulf goes nowhere without his personal priest

What they sailed into felt more like a battle set up to defeat them from all sides. They were unprepared to meet armies on both sides of the river, and were taken by surprise.

the first arrow of attack from out of nowhere

Our men felt as though they had sailed into a trap… one set by the scheming Princess Kwentirith. Ragnar was understandably furious with this turn of events and showed his growing mistrust of Kwentirith.

she's obviously hiding something she's uneasy talking about her uncle

she’s obviously hiding something she’s uneasy talking about her uncle

tell me about your uncle

is that your brother?

is that your brother?

 

 

 

 

I love him my brother bergrid but he has been taken in by my uncle's schemes

I love him my brother bergrid but he has been taken in by my uncle’s schemes

Having no choice now, the men determined their best odds and set about winning this uneven battle. Their anger and feelings of betrayal spurred them into fighting even harder to win!

Besides his anger at the general situation they were in, his distaste of Kwentirith and his extreme frustration, Ragnar was even less happy about some of his own warriors, namely his son Bjorn and Bjorn’s wife Porunn. It was rather obvious that he did not approve of Porunn’s being there in the first place and then when she placed herself in the middle of the battle and Bjorn became so distracted and felt need to keep her safe, well Ragnar’s disgust clearly showed on his face!

ragnar sees bjorn with porunn and is really pissed

ragnar sees bjorn with porunn and is really pissed

porunn holds her own

porunn holds her own

porunn is right in the middle of the fiercest fighting

porunn is right in the middle of the fiercest fighting

now she struggles to hold her own in the fighting

now she struggles to hold her own in the fighting

pulling porrun out of danger

pulling porrun out of danger

nope, ragnar is not happy about porrun

nope, ragnar is not happy about porrun

It was a fierce and bloody battle that took it’s toll and they barely managed to survive and win that day!

Bjorn becomes distracted in fear for her bjorn does well in the battle break the damn arrow and keep fighting floki gets to uncle first

In the end, they were victorious… and Kwentirith’s uncle was taken down by an enraged Floki! They succeeded that day, but none trusted Kwentirith and no one knows yet what the consequences or the cost of this battle will be other than more battles for these Christians and death for our men.

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Early days, The Trial

It all happened so long ago that there are times when my memory fades and I forget those early events that put us all where we are now. From that first raid that brought a young and frightened Athelstan to us, to Earl Haraldson’s resentments, fears and retributions, Rollo’s mistakes and struggles with his conscience, a second raid that went so wrong… and on to wars between our own people. I speak of our own people because that is how I do feel now even though there are oft times when I struggle as much as Athelstan and Rollo with my divided feelings of loyalties and beliefs.

I feel I must tell of these earliest days so that you may better understand how and why my friends made the choices they did as years went on, our lives changed and we became different people than we were in the beginning. Life has a way of changing us, all of us- sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse as we try to deal with what has happened to us in each our own way.

I have made much mention of why I am loyal to Siggy and to Rollo even though I do not always trust either of them. I do not always trust them, but I have come to understand them over the years and I accept them for who they are as they accept me and place no expectations or threats upon me. Perhaps if you know more about their beginnings, their pasts as I know them, you will not judge them quite so harshly either.

Let me share some of their early stories with you now…

I will start with that second voyage to England that went wrong in ways that would affect the future?

Season 1 episode 4: Trial

first view of english village

What began as a simple plan, an easy raid or so Ragnar assumed… ended up going very badly for some and resulted in deaths and the making of an enemy. Ragnar did attempt in the raid to abide by some rules of conscience. He wanted the treasures, not dead bodies and tried to assure the villagers that if they would but hand over the riches, they would live unharmed.

raiding the church floki tastes the wine

floki at the alter while everyone watches

Ragnar and most of his group stuck to this promise.  In fact, Rollo showed heart and compassion for the old man he came across. He offered him comfort and a drink instead of killing him.

rollo finds an old man Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man The early days of Rollo

One man of the group did not abide though and his action would end up affecting everyone’s future. Cnut, who was the brother of Haraldson- the one he sent to keep an eye on things…Cnut chose instead to rape as well as pillage.

knot's prey knut shows his colors

Lagertha did make but one mistake that day… though to her credit, and to the relief of the Saxon woman, it was a good thing she did make her one unwise choice. Ragnar had warned her earlier to be sure to stay with the group and not go off on her own? She disregarded that advice and found Cnut raping the woman. Lagertha could not stand by and allow this woman, Saxon or not, to be so used and violated!

lagertha interrupts

She tried to stop Cnut, and was then brutally attacked by him.

lagertha tries to stop cnut

Being the warrior that she was, she would not go down without a fight and ended up killing him.

lagertha will not go down without a fight lagertha attacks cnut

The men have finished their plundering and catch up with Lagertha. Ragnar asks the crucial question of, “Where is Cnut?”

where is cnut

where is cnut?

Lagertha knows there will be repercussions for her action but is stoic, blunt and honest in her simple answer, “I killed him”

i killed him

I killed him

Ragnar is not amused or happy and demands an explanation from her.

You what?

It is important here to know what Ragnar’s first reaction to her explanation was. He turned his anger on his brother Rollo, who had nothing to do with the event at all!

ragnar blames rollo Where were you

Ragnar blames and accuses Rollo of being at fault for the event, “Where were you?”

Ragnar walked away from the group in his frustrated, ill place anger leaving resentments and bitterness behind.

 

anger and resentment start here

anger and resentment start here

I am reasonably sure that such accusations and blame had been placed upon Rollo before by his brother but this one left much bitterness in Rollo’s heart because he cared much for Lagertha and to be blamed for something happening to her was not something he could take lightly or easily forget! This whole event would not be quickly forgotten or forgiven by any of those involved. It put a dark note to this raid and the group wanted to quickly return home from it…

Their ill luck continued though as they arrived at the beach to find their visit had not gone as secretly as they had assumed.

returning to the beach they realize they have been taken by surprise Ragnar is not having a good day

A battle on the beach ensued and they lost good men in the fight.

the viking dead

They buried their dead, sent them on to Valhalla and vowed vengeance for kin.

Don't grieve him don't pity him he will go to valhalla

Don’t grieve him don’t pity him he will go to valhalla

Yes he's happier than we are

Yes he’s happier than we are

he was my kinsman we must avenge his death

he was my kinsman we must avenge his death

They had made a fierce enemy in King Aelle and would eventually face him again in battle. But, before that time, battles would come at home!

Aille is furious King Aellie berates his men for losing to a bunch of pagans

As they made their voyage home, Athelstan was attempting to care for the children as best he could. He was realizing that child rearing was not such an easy task, especially when charged with the care of one such as stubborn and often resentful Bjorn!

meanwhile back at the farm Athelstan tries to look after the children

Athelstan’s patience as well as his faith was sorely tested in his arguments with the boy. One such argument over a visit to Kattegat resulted in Bjorn’s insistence of making a sacrifice to Thor for the safe return of his parents… When Athelstan reasonably questioned, “What would you sacrifice?”

what will you sacrifice

what will you sacrifice

Bjorn answers spitefully, “You!”

you

you

Athelstan turned later to God in anger and frustration, “Why? Why me? Do you even listen to me… why do you not send a sign?”

For the first time in my life I am angry with you, God!

For the first time in my life I am angry with you, God!

Where are you why don't you give me a sign

Where are you why don’t you give me a sign

a sign from God...

a sign from God…

Athelstan took the sight of the owl as his sign from God… woke Bjorn up in the middle of the night and pledged they would all go to Kattegat the next day.

Bjorn wake up  we'll all go to kattegat tomorrow

Bjorn wake up we’ll all go to kattegat tomorrow

Ragnar’s group returned home to great praises that did not long last.

Ragnar tells of the saxon attack and their defeat of them returning home with their treasure

Haraldson, of course wanted to know where Cnut was, what had happened to him?

dead how did this happen

dead? how did this happen?

Ragnar stepped forward and place the blame upon himself for Cnut’s death. He gave the explanation that he had come upon Cnut raping his wife.

rollo looks on as ragnar takes blame for lagertha's action

rollo looks on as ragnar takes blame for lagertha’s action

Haraldson refused to believe his story, finding it all too convenient that his brother should be accused and killed with no witnesses…

facing arrest ragnar says for your wife siggy would you not have done the same

facing arrest ragnar, says for your wife siggy would you not have done the same

Ragnar would stand trial for Cnut’s murder… and Haraldson would see to it that he was found guilty even if he had to come up with his own false witnesses to the event.

He found in Rollo, what he thought to be a willing betrayer? Haraldson questioned how Ragnar had treated Rollo and whether his loyalty to Ragnar was really so well placed?

is your brother a fair man does he treat you well and equally

is your brother a fair man does he treat you well and equally

I think he likes to rule you and what ever he says he considers himself to be first amoung equals.

I think he likes to rule you and what ever he says he considers himself to be first amoung equals.

Haraldson then went so far as to make Rollo an offer of more than riches or land? He made an offer of family ties…

 

haraldson makes his offer to rollo

haraldson makes his offer to rollo

The Seer and Siggy both watched from the shadows as Haraldson offered up his daughter, Thyri as payment for ultimate betrayal.

the Seer attends this meeting

siggy watches from shadows as haraldson offers rollo his daughter

siggy watches from shadows as haraldson offers rollo his daughter

This is my daughter thyri

This is my daughter thyri

 

It was during this time that I first became aware of some other involvement or knowing of each other between Siggy and Rollo?  Ohhh, I am sure that as Haraldson’s wife, she knew well of who he was, but was there more to it than just that? I do not know, have never asked- for I was better off in the not knowing, and it was not of my business, was it?  All that I know is that it was at this time that Rollo came more closely into our lives and has remained in our lives since!

haraldson introduces his wife siggy to rollo

After this meeting, came the trial- which Haraldson was sure would go his way no matter what happened? Of course he did not plan on Lagertha’s desperate attempt to save her husband by confessing to the murder herself.  Lagertha could not stand by and see her husband killed for her action.

ragnar's trial

May Thor strike you dead

May Thor strike you dead

My husband did not kill anyone  I did!

My husband did not kill anyone I did!

Siggy is moved by this confession

Siggy is moved by this confession

Her confession disrupted the trial for a bit but Haraldson dismissed her confession with his statement that he had a witness to the action?

we have proof  we have a witness

we have proof we have a witness

The hall was silent and breaths gasped when Rollo stepped forward as that witness.

rollo steps forward

rollo steps forward

You say you are a witness  Yes

You say you are a witness? Yes

Who killed my brother

Who killed my brother?

Knowing what had been offered to Rollo, and knowing what light Ragnar had been place in within Rollo’s mind…. I held my breath as well wondering what he would say?  Would he go so far as to betray his brother, and thereby Lagertha and the children as well in return for what Haraldson promised?  No, he would not betray them, his family. He stated that he had seen Cnut raping Lagertha and then seen Ragnar kill the man for it.

Ragnar lodbrok killed him

Ragnar lodbrok killed him because the man was raping his wife!

your half brother was caught raping his wife!

your half brother was caught raping his wife!

Later when Lagertha attempted to thank him for what he had done for his brother, Rollo’s feelings were clear. “I did not do it for him, I did it for you!”

I didn't do it for him I did it for you

Ragnar was a free man… but not truly, nor were any of them now.

Now you may remove my chains. Who has the keys?

Now you may remove my chains. Who has the keys?

Earl Haraldson had no choice to let the matter go for the moment but he did not forget, he did not forgive and he would have his final say on this. Ragnar knew the matter was not over either and that there would be a battle with Haraldson in the future.

unable to control his anger and rage at another friend's death ragnar leaves ragnar meets with his gods and prepares for battle with Haraldson

Ragnar’s battle with Earl Haraldson would affect us all, none would be immune from it. Rollo’s loyalty to family would cost him dearly as well. He had betrayed Earl Haraldson and would suffer the consequences of it. He would also learn not to be so trusting of those who made him promises… or would he?

          

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some early Saxon history: From Aethelwulf and descendants to Ivar the Boneless!

 

 

 

First of all, remember to fight/vote! Shirtless men are in an even race with Highland Warriors…

Now on to our history lesson for the night! You may recall that recently I sent a message to Athelstan urging him to tread cautiously and carefully in affairs of the heart where the Lady Judith, wife of Aethulwulf is concerned?

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/vikings-message-to-athelstan/

aethelwulf vikings2 judith vikings

more wooo but with who?

more wooo but with who?

Well, tonight’s history lesson has to do with descendants of Aethulwulf. If you remember, I did mention how important his descendants are in the future rule of England.  I just recently came across an interesting article and discovery about one of his descendants! It is a bit of old news but seeing as I just discovered it, some of you may also find it interesting as well?

Remains discovered in Germany confirmed as oldest confirmed British Royal, who died more than 1,000 years ago

Bones found in a German cathedral belong to the granddaughter of Saxon king Alfred the Great, experts confirmed today.  Body parts excavated in Magdeburg Cathedral in 2008 are those of Saxon princess Eadgyth, who died more than 1,000 years ago.  They are the oldest surviving remains of an English royal burial, according to experts at the University of Bristol who analysed the skeletal fragments to piece together a snapshot of the princess’s life.

640px-HerscherpaarMagdeburgCathedral Eadgyth and otto

Eadgyth was married off to Otto I, the Great, in AD 929 by her half brother Athelstan, who was the first king to rule all of England.   As wife of the king of Saxony, she lived most of her married life in Magdeburg, capital of Saxony-Anhalt, and had at least two children.  Eadgyth died in AD 946 aged about 36 and was buried in the monastery of St Maurice in Switzerland.  Her bones were moved at least three times before being finally interred in an elaborate tomb in Magdeburg Cathedral in 1510.

Edward

Two years ago, German archaeologists opened the tomb, expecting it to be empty.  To their surprise, they found it contained a lead box bearing the inscription ‘The remains of Queen Eadgyth are in this sarcophagus’.   When they opened the coffin they discovered bone fragments wrapped in silk.  It is thought some of the missing body parts, including hands and feet and much of the skull, were probably taken by medieval relic hunters.  An analysis of the remains by Professor Kurt Alt at the University of Mainz established they were those of a female who died aged between 30 and 40.  Professor Alt also found evidence that the woman was a frequent horse rider and ate a high protein diet with large amounts of fish, which suggested she had enjoyed an aristocratic lifestyle.

I find the article interesting from a scientific point of view even though I do question the need for opening up a coffin to examine the remains in order to prove exactly who the person was. If there was a sound reason for a more thorough and in depth examination, it might sit better with me? An example of a more sound reason to prove who ancient remains are would be in a case such as the controversy over skeletal remains which might or might not be connected to mystery of the Princes of the Tower. But, that is another story for another time!

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1287283/Remains-Saxon-princess-Eadgyth-oldest-British-Royal-discovered-Germany.html#ixzz3Qg4fjq4q
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I know you are thinking, Ohhh well an odd and interesting bit of information- but what does she have to do with Aethulwulf?

Well, if you follow along with my very brief genealogy lesson, you will see how she is related to our Aethelwulf… You know, the one who is turning more and more to a life of pious devotion to God? Oh, by the way, he passes this devotion down to future generations as well!

what goes on here 2

what goes on here 2

what on earth is going on here?

what on earth is going on here?

 

Eadgyth, or Edith was born to the reigning English king Edward the Elder by his second wife, Ælfflæd, and hence was granddaughter of Alfred the Great. Nothing is known of her until in order to seal an alliance between two Saxon kingdoms, her half-brother, King Athelstan of England, sent two of his sisters (Eadgyth and Eadgifu of Wessex) to Germany, instructing the Duke of Saxony (later Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor) to choose whichever one pleased him best. Otto chose Edith and married her in 930. The remaining sister Algiva or Adiva was married to a “king near the Jupiter mountains” (the Alps). The precise identity of the husband of this sister is debated.

In 936 King Henry I of Germany died and his eldest son, Eadgyth’s husband, was crowned at Aachen as King Otto I. There is a surviving report of the ceremony by Widukind of Corvey which makes no mention of his wife having been crowned at this point, but according to Thietmar of Merseburg‘s chronicle Eadgyth was nevertheless anointed as queen, albeit in a separate ceremony. As queen, Eadgyth undertook the usual state duties of “First lady”: when she turns up in the records it is generally in connection with gifts to the state’s favoured monasteries or memorials to holy women and saints. In this respect she seems to have been more diligent than her now widowed and subsequently sainted mother-in-law Queen Matilda whose own charitable activities only achieve a single recorded mention from the period of Eadgyth’s time as queen. There was probably rivalry between the Benedictine Monastery of St Maurice founded at Magdeburg by Otto and Eadgyth in 937, a year after coming to the throne and Matilda’s foundation at Quedlinburg Abbey, intended by her as a memorial to her husband, the late King Henry I.

Eadgyth accompanied her husband on his travels, though not during battles. She spent the hostilities of 939 at Lorsch Abbey

Like her brother, Athelstan, Edith was devoted to the cult of Saint Oswald and was instrumental in introducing this cult into Germany after her marriage to the emperor. Her lasting influence may have caused certain monasteries and churches in Saxony to be dedicated to this saint.

Eadgyth’s death at a relatively young age, in her early thirties, was unexpected.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eadgyth

Eadgyth was the granddaughter of one Alfred the Great, who was the son of Aethelwulf! 

Alfred was born in the village of Wanating, now Wantage, Oxfordshire. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex, by his first wife,Osburh.

In 853, at the age of four , Alfred is said to have been sent to Rome where, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, he was confirmed by Pope Leo IV who “anointed him as king”. Victorian writers later interpreted this as an anticipatory coronation in preparation for his ultimate succession to the throne of Wessex. However, his succession could not have been foreseen at the time, as Alfred had three living elder brothers. A letter of Leo IV shows that Alfred was made a “consul“; a misinterpretation of this investiture, deliberate or accidental, could explain later confusion.  It may also be based on Alfred’s later having accompanied his father on a pilgrimage to Rome where he spent some time at the court of Charles the Bald, King of the Franks, around 854–855.

On their return from Rome in 856, Æthelwulf was deposed by his son Æthelbald. With civil war looming, the magnates of the realm met in council to hammer out a compromise. Æthelbald would retain the western shires (i.e., traditional Wessex), and Æthelwulf would rule in the east.

When King Æthelwulf died in 858, Wessex was ruled by three of Alfred’s brothers in succession, Æthelbald, Æthelberht and Æthelred.

Bishop Asser tells the story of how as a child Alfred won a prize of a volume of poetry in Saxon, offered by his mother to the first of her children able to memorize it.  Legend also has it that the young Alfred spent time in Ireland seeking healing. Alfred was troubled by health problems throughout his life. It is thought that he may have suffered from Crohn’s disease.  Statues of Alfred in Winchester and nev Wantage portray him as a great warrior. Evidence suggests he was not physically strong, and though not lacking in courage, he was noted more for his intellect than a warlike character.

During the short reigns of the older two of his three elder brothers, Æthelbald of Wessex and Æthelberht of Wessex, Alfred is not mentioned. An army of Danes which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle described as the Great Heathen Army had landed in East Anglia with the intent of conquering the four kingdoms that constituted Anglo-Saxon England in 865.  It was with the backdrop of a rampaging Viking army that Alfred’s public life began, with the accession of his third brother, Æthelred of Wessex, in 866.

640px-England_Great_Army_map_svg

It is during this period that Bishop Asser applied to Alfred the unique title of “secundarius”, which may indicate a position akin to that of the Celtic tanist, a recognised successor closely associated with the reigning monarch. It is possible that this arrangement was sanctioned by Alfred’s father, or by the Witan, to guard against the danger of a disputed succession should Æthelred fall in battle. The arrangement of crowning a successor as royal prince and military commander is well known among other Germanic tribes, such as the Swedes and Franks, to whom the Anglo-Saxons were closely related.

Fighting the Viking invasion

In 868, Alfred is recorded as fighting beside Æthelred in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the Great Heathen Army led by Ivar the Boneless out of the adjoining Kingdom of Mercia.  At the end of 870, the Danes arrived in his homeland. The year which followed has been called “Alfred’s year of battles”. Nine engagements were fought with varying outcomes, though the place and date of two of these battles have not been recorded. Yes, if that Viking Heathen name sound familiar, you would be correct in having heard of it in our Viking Saga! Ivar the Boneless is one of the sons of Ragnar and Aslaug… You know, that poor infant that Aslaug warned Ragnar would be cursed, and the one that she as his Mother could not and would not leave to die.

In Berkshire, a successful skirmish at the Battle of Englefield on 31 December 870 was followed by a severe defeat at the siege and Battle of Reading by Ivar’s brother Halfdan Ragnarsson on 5 January 871. Four days later, the Anglo-Saxons won a brilliant victory at the Battle of Ashdown on the Berkshire Downs, possibly near Compton or Aldworth. Alfred is particularly credited with the success of this latter battle.

Later that month, on 22 January, the English were defeated at the Battle of Basing. They were defeated again on 22 March at the Battle of Merton (perhaps Marden in Wiltshire or Martin in Dorset). Æthelred died shortly afterwards on 23 April.

Alfred eventually went on to defeat the Dane Vikings and unite much of England under one rule.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_the_Great

Statue_of_King_Alfred_in_Wantage_Market_Square Alfred the Great 1024px-Southwark_Bridge_City_Plaque 1024px-A_Chronicle_of_England_-_Page_057_-_Alfred_Plans_the_Capture_of_the_Danish_Fleet

Seeing as Ivar the boneless was mentioned in connection with Alfred’s history, I feel it important to include a bit of history on him as he is one of Ragnar’s sons!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivar_the_Boneless

aslaug pregnant as usual Aslaug and Ragnar with Ivar

Ivar the boneless

Ivar was one of the leaders of the Great Heathen Army which invaded the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia in 865.  According to the Norse sagas this invasion was organised by the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, of whom Ivar was one, to wreak revenge against Ælla of Northumbria. Ælla had supposedly executed Ragnar in 865 by throwing him in a snake pit, but the historicity of this explanation is unknown. The invaders are usually identified as Danes, although the tenth-century churchman Asser stated in Latin that the invaders came “de Danubia”, which translates into English as “from the Danube“, the fact that the Danube is located in what was known in Latin as Dacia suggests that Asser may have actually intended Dania, a Latin term for Denmark.

the snake pit

King Aelle’s snake pit!

 

The Great Heathen Army landed in East Anglia in the autumn of 865, where they remained over the winter and secured horses for their later efforts.  The following year the army headed north and invaded Northumbria, which was in the midst of a civil war between Ælla and Osberht, warring claimants for the Northumbrian throne.  Late in 866 the army conquered the rich Northumbrian settlement of York.   The following year Ælla and Osberht put their differences aside, and teamed up to retake the town. The attempt was a disaster and both of them lost their lives.  According to legend, Ælla was captured alive, but was executed by Ivar and his brothers using the blood eagle, a method of execution whereby the ribcage is opened from behind and the lungs are pulled out, forming a wing-like shape.  With no obvious leader, Northumbrian resistance was crushed and the Danes installed a puppet-king, Ecgberht, to rule in their name and collect taxes for their army.

Later in the year the Army moved south and invaded the kingdom of Mercia, capturing the town of Nottingham, where they spent the winter.  The Mercian king, Burghred, responded by allying with the West Saxon king Æthelred, and with a combined force they laid siege to the town. The Anglo-Saxons were unable to recapture the city, but a truce was agreed whereby the Danes would withdraw to York. The Great Heathen Army remained in York for over a year, gathering its strength for further assaults.

The Danes returned to East Anglia in 869, this time intent on conquest. They seized Thetford, with the intention of remaining there over winter, but they were confronted by an East Anglian army.[13] The East Anglian army was defeated and their king, Edmund, was slain.  Medieval tradition identifies Edmund as a martyr who refused the Danes’ demand to renounce Christ, and was killed for his steadfast Christianity.  Ivar and Ubba are identified as the commanders of the Danes, and the killers of Edmund.  How true the later accounts of Edmund’s death are is unknown, but it has been suggested that his capture and execution is not an unlikely thing to have happened.

Following the conquest of East Anglia Ivar apparently left the Great Heathen Army – his name disappears from English records after 870.

 

 

Scandinavian sources for Ivar Boneless

According to the saga of Ragnar Lodbrok, Ivar Boneless was the eldest son of Ragnar and Aslaug. It is said he was fair, big, strong, and one of the wisest men who had ever lived. He was consequently the advisor of his brothers Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Hvitserk.

The story has it that when king Ælla of Northumbria had murdered their father, by throwing Ragnar into a snake-pit, Ivar’s brothers tried to avenge their father but were beaten. Ivar then went to king Ælla and sought reconciliation. He only asked for as much land as he could cover with an ox’s hide and swore never to wage war against Ælla. Then Ivar cut the ox’s hide into so fine strands that he could envelope a large fortress (in an older saga it was York and according to a younger saga it was London) which he could take as his own. (Compare the similar legendary ploy of Dido.)

Right after the messenger of king Ælla delivered the message that Ragnar had died to Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-eye, and Hvitserk, Ivar said: “I will not take part in or gather men for that, because Ragnar met with the fate I anticipated. His cause was bad; he had no reason to fight against King Ella, and it has often happened that when a man wanted to be overbearing and wrong others it has been the worst for him; I will take wergild from King Ella if he will give it”.[24]

As Ivar was the most generous of men, he attracted a great many warriors, whom he subsequently kept from Ælla when Ælla was attacked again by Ivar’s brothers. Ælla was captured, and when the brothers were to decide how to give Ælla his just punishment, Ivar suggested that they carve the “blood eagle” on his back. According to popular belief, this meant that Ælla’s back was cut open, the ribs pulled from his spine, and his lungs pulled out to form “wings.”

In Ragnar Lodbrok’s saga, there is an interesting prequel to the Battle of Hastings: it is told that before Ivar died in England, he ordered that his body was to be buried in a mound on the English Shore, saying that so long as his bones guarded that section of the coast, no enemy could invade there successfully. This prophecy held true, says the saga, until “when Vilhjalm bastard (William the Conqueror) came ashore[,] he went [to the burial site] and broke Ivar’s mound and saw that [Ivar’s] body had not decayed. Then [Vilhjalm] had a large pyre made [upon which Ivar’s body was] burned… Thereupon, Vilhjalm proceeded with the landing invasion and achieved] the victory.  What is interesting about this particular legend is if you look at the ancestry of William the Conqueror, you find that he was descended from the Viking, Rollo…  Ivar sets forth a prophecy or curse that no “enemy” would invade that coast successfully, but if William’s ancestry is taken into account, he would not necessarily be an enemy, would he? But, more of a distant descendant!

Explanation for Ivar’s nickname:

There is some disagreement as to the meaning of Ivar’s epithet “the Boneless” (inn Beinlausi) in the sagas. Some have suggested it was a euphemism for impotence or even a snake metaphor (he had a brother named Snake-in-the-Eye). It may have referred to an incredible physical flexibility; Ivar was a renowned warrior, and perhaps this limberness gave rise to the popular notion that he was “boneless”. The poem “Háttalykill inn forni” describes Ivar as being “without any bones at all”.

Alternatively, the English word “bone” is cognate with the German word “Bein”, meaning “leg”. Scandinavian sources mention Ivar the Boneless as being borne on a shield by his warriors. Some have speculated that this was because he could not walk and perhaps his epithet simply meant “legless”—perhaps literally or perhaps simply because he was lame. Other sources from this period, however, mention chieftains being carried on the shields of enemies after victory, not because of any infirmity.

John Haywood put forth another hypothesis from the origin of Ivar’s nickname:  the nickname, in use by the 1140s, may be derived from a 9th-century story about a sacrilegious Viking whose bones shriveled and caused his death after he plundered the monastery of Saint- Germain near Paris.

Genetic disease

Still another interpretation of the nickname involves Scandinavian sources as describing a condition that is sometimes understood as similar to a form of osteogenesis imperfecta. The disease is more commonly known as “brittle bone disease.” In 1949, the Dane Knud Seedorf wrote:

Of historical personages the author knows of only one of whom we have a vague suspicion that he suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, namely Ivar Benløs, eldest son of the Danish legendary king Regnar Lodbrog. He is reported to have had legs as soft as cartilage (‘he lacked bones’), so that he was unable to walk and had to be carried about on a shield.

There are less extreme forms of this disease where the person afflicted lacks the use of his or her legs but is otherwise unaffected, as may have been the case for Ivar the Boneless. In 2003 Nabil Shaban, a disability rights advocate with osteogenesis imperfecta, made the documentary The Strangest Viking for Channel 4‘s Secret History, in which he explored the possibility that Ivar the Boneless may have had the same condition as himself. It also demonstrated that someone with the condition was quite capable of using a longbow, such that Ivar could have taken part in battle, as Viking society would have expected a leader to do.

 

That concludes our history lesson for the night, from Aethelwulf and his descendants to Ivar the Boneless and how they’re all a part of early Saxon history!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Message to Athelstan!

To my Dear friend Athelstan,

I send you this message to entreat you to tread very carefully on your future path in England. I have received some unclear tellings of the future from the Seer here in Kattegat… some of which concerns you? I feel I must warn you of this and ask you to be most careful in any affairs of the heart that you may at some point enter in to. I know that you are torn by your beliefs and most likely will eventually forsake your vows as a monk… that is not what I am concerned about. It is more the choice of which ever woman you will forsake these vows for which concerns me. I know too that you will treat this message and it’s contents as much private and will not share this information with anyone else, as it could put us both in grave danger from all sides.

athelstan season3

I have spoke to you before of my visions, as you are want to call them, of what the future may hold for all of our friends- both in Kattegat and in England. What I must warn you of  concerns those in England?  I know and understand how you are torn in your loyalties to both the Vikings and the English as am I. This very touchy matter of which I warn you about regards the English of whom you feel some of that loyalty to?

athelstan with aethelwulf and ecbert

You have developed a close relationship to Ecbert, and not so much of a closeness to his son, Aethelwulf… The matter of which I must warn you of  concerns these two men, or rather more so- Ecbert’s son Aethelwulf and his wife, Judith?

judith vikings

We know that Judith, the daughter of Aella has been wed to Aethelwulf as a show of peace and alliance between Northumbria and Wessex. It is a fragile peace and alliance as most are… and if this marriage should not work out for what ever reasons, it will not bode well for either side? I mention this because I do realize that it may not be the easiest or happiest of marriages for Judith? Aethelwulf is reported and recorded as being a very devout and overly zealous Christian… I understand there was some difficulty for you when he accused you of turning into a Pagan?

aethelwulf and athelstan

I bring this up because as he is such a devout man, he would take his marriage vow, and those of his bride quite seriously? There is also the matter of any offspring from this union, which would hold great importance in the future. 

aethelwulf and judith Judith_Wedding vikings

What I know of the future of  England is that sons of Aethelwulf will play very important roles? My sight of the future may differ from what will happen… I can only say that you should take great care in any relationship you may form with Judith. Someone will bear Aethelwulf sons who will be a part of shaping the future of England. Now, whether Judith bears those sons or some one else does is difficult to determine? There is also the possibility that Judith could bear him sons who may or may not be of his blood? That would be extremely difficult to prove in this time!

aethelwulf vikings2

The Seer has shared some images with me that lead me to believe that Aethelwulf becomes much troubled over some event in his life? What ever this event is, it takes a toll on the man and he resorts to gevious  penance and religious fervor over it.

what on earth is going on here?

what on earth is going on here?

what goes on here 2

what goes on here 2

The Seer has also shown me some vague images that perhaps you and Judith may become more than just good friends?

more wooo but with who?

more wooo but with who?

I just feel that I must warn you to take great care and caution if this is the path you choose… Aethelwulf will one day be King of Wessex, Judith will be queen and it could be dangerous for both of you should this relationship be found out! I do not think that Ecbert will take this matter lightly either should it come to light while he is King? Please use care. Judith seems to be a good woman and I know it would pain you deeply if one you cared about were to be greatly harmed by this affair of the heart. I will leave this matter to your soul and pray that you will find happiness in the future, but will not find it at the harm or heartbreak of another. Please let your conscience and your mind be your guide in this, and not some other part of your person. Think of what I have shared with you on the future of your England?

athelstan and ecbert aethelwulf and ecbert

Aethelwulf in history:

Æthelwulf, also spelled Aethelwulf or Ethelwulf; Old English: Æþelwulf, meaning “Noble Wolf”, was King of Wessex from 839 until his death in 858. He was the only known child of King Egbert of Wessex.  He conquered the kingdom of Kent on behalf of his father in 825, and was sometime later made King of Kent as a sub-king to Egbert. He succeeded his father as King of Wessex on Egbert’s death in 839, at which time his kingdom stretched from the county of Kent in the east to Devon in the west. At the same time his eldest son Æthelstan became sub-king of Kent as a subordinate ruler.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86thelwulf_of_Wessex

 

Judith in history: Judith’s true history differs from what is portrayed and presented in our Vikings version of history.

Judith of Flanders (or Judith of France) (c. 843 – c. 870)  was the eldest daughter of the West Frankish King and later Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald and his wife Ermentrude of Orléans. Through her marriages to two Kings of Wessex, Æthelwulf and Æthelbald, she was twice a queen. Her first two marriages were childless, but through her third marriage to Baldwin, she became the first Countess of Flanders and an ancestress of later Counts of Flanders. One of her sons by Baldwin married Ælfthryth, a daughter of Æthelbald’s brother, Alfred the Great. She was also an ancestress of Matilda of Flanders, the consort of William the Conqueror, and thus of later monarchs of England.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_of_Flanders#Queen_of_Wessex

Vikings early days: Dispossessed

The early days of Athelstan's journey

The early days of Athelstan’s journey

Because two men lack self control...

Because two men lack self control…

Note: I have noticed in browsing through other reviews and recaps of this early episode, Season 1- episode 3, that it does not get as much attention as I think it should? While it may not seem as event worthy as some other episodes, it sets the scene and the tone for the rest of the season and for the future. We see the depths of Earl Haraldson’s depravity, cruelty and madness beginning. We also see the shaky beginnings of some fragile form of friendship between Ragnar and Athelstan. This episode is where Ragnar shows the beginnings of his leadership qualities as well as his ability to see the world in broader terms than just raiding. In other scenes we can glimpse the lack of control in both Floki and Rollo, and we see how the behaviors of these men will be trials to Ragnar in the future.  It’s interesting to look back at this episode and see in retrospect how all of these events play into the future.

I fear it will be some time before I can safely get my messages out of this village. Earl Haraldson is becoming more and more paranoid as each day goes by. He is angered beyond control at the return of  Ragnar and his raiding party even though they brought back such treasures of great wealth. Ragnar’s success has put Haraldson in an worse light to the people. He has lost face with them and can not bring himself to change his ways of thinking. On their return, he confiscated all of the treasure and the boat, saying it was all his to begin with as he was the Chieftain here, everything belongs to him and we should all  be wise to remember that fact. He did relent somewhat and offered Ragnar a portion of the treasure. Ragnar chose not treasure but asked to keep the slave, Athelstan.

Ragnar with his treasure athelstan

ragnar with slave athelstan

Everyone was much surprised and many thought Ragnar a fool for this choice but he was insistent that this slave would be worth more to him than any small bit of treasure Earl Haraldson was willing to part with right now. The rest of the raiders were disheartened at not receiving their share of treasure after making the perilous voyage to earn it. It was a somber group afterwards and everyone departed with much grumbling to themselves about how this voyage had turned out and about Earl Haraldson’s treatment of them.

Ragnar takes Athelstan home

Ragnar brought Athelstan home and introduced him to his family… they were not overly impressed by this addition to their household!

gyda and lagertha

 

As some time went by, Athelstan struggled to adjust to  this new life… and he began to realize just what a precarious situation he was in. He had nothing left but his faith and remnants of it’s symbolism to hold on to- such as his shaved head that marked him as one of God’s men, but that mark was disappearing and he feared his faith would as well?

Athelstan in distress over his situation

Not that he was treated all that badly, because he was not. Ragnar and Lagertha tried to treat him as well as possible given the circumstances. He was indeed a strange one to all of them and they did not understand his odd ways at all!  When he was not helping them with the farm work, he spent most of his time with his treasured book. Late into the night, he would attempt to lose himself, or find himself within the pages of that book.  Often times, he would try hard to focus on the book and not the sounds around him at night…

Athelstan's book

Athelstan’s book

As I said, Ragnar and Lagertha made every attempt to treat him as they would treat other guests in their home?  They even went so far as to offer to share their bed with him!

ragnar and lagertha ask athelstan to join them

ragnar and lagertha ask athelstan to join them

Athelstan was  dumbfounded and much uncomfortable with this offer.

I am a monk I must refuse

I am a monk I must refuse

They did not understand his hesitancy and continued to tease and tempt him.

Come on you'll enjoy it

Come on you’ll enjoy it

He explained to them that he had taken a vow of celibacy, could not partake of such actions… he could not look at or touch a woman in such a way.

Wouldn't you like to touch a woman?

Wouldn’t you like to touch a woman?

Ragnar and Lagertha tempt him

They did finally give up and left him alone to seek comfort from his book!

 

While the Lodroks and Athelstan were adjusting to their new life situation at the farmstead, other not so pleasant things were happening in the village.  The first thing was the disappearance of a young boy? No one is really sure what happened to him but we are all certain that Earl Haraldson had something to do with it! The boy had mentioned earlier that Earl Haraldson’s man offered him a small payment if he would help him with a chore later that evening? The boy was never seen again and naturally when Haraldson and his man were questioned, they said they had no idea what the boy could have been talking about? Most likely he ran off on his own adventure?

What really happened that night made it evident that Earl Haraldson is crossing the lines and boundaries of any acceptable behavior. He decided to bury the treasure in a separate secret cairn or hoard. Now, it would have been acceptable for him to set the treasure aside to buried with him upon his death to take to Valhalla with him when he crossed the river… that would have been appropriate, understood and accepted. But, this separate burial in such a way as he did made it very clear that he was going by his own personal and skewed rationale rather than acceptable beliefs! It also proves just how vicious and cruel he was becoming!

While he has the young boy dig a pit for  him, he has a friendly conversation with the boy, encouraging him and putting him at ease. He asks the boy how old he is? When the boy responds with thirteen, Earl Haraldson mentions that is the same age as his son would have been?

 

men will soon be going on summer raids are you looking forward to joining

men will soon be going on summer raids are you looking forward to joining them?

digging a pit

digging a pit

 

He goes on to talk about the need to bury his treasure so it can accompany him on his death… and then mentions how the hoard need protecting now and in the next life.

the hoard needs protection in this life and the next

the hoard needs protection in this life and the next

The Earl’s truest motive and intent suddenly becomes quite clear even in the dark. The boy is slaughtered as a some sort of sacrifice or vengeance and left with the treasure, buried and secret!

You've already seen enough life boy

You’ve already seen enough life boy

Needless to say, the boy’s disappearance has set the village even more on edge than it was previously! There was a witness to this horrific event, that is how we come to know of it now, but that young one is too frightened to come forth. I do not blame this person, we all live in great fear of Earl Haraldson now. I believe his wife Siggy is as fearful as the rest of us but puts up a good front and face of it in order to keep herself on his good side. She is one who will do what ever it takes to survive and hold on to some semblance of her self worth.

 

 

Ragnar is most unaware of this disturbance as he has been at his home trying to gain the trust and friendship of Athelstan… He asks Athelstan about the importance of his book, of his God, and of England. Athelstan tries to explain all of it.

Athelstan explains England and his God to Ragnar

Athelstan explains England and his God to Ragnar

What are these souls?  I want to learn of all this.

What are these souls? I want to learn of all this.

 

Athelstan does not realize yet how cleverly Ragnar’s mind works? He shares all of his information about England with Ragnar only to have it used against him later.

This is what else the Earl has been up to in the village… it is the sight that greets Athelstan as Ragnar brings him into the village to a meeting with the Earl.

The other monks have been put to death

With this sight fresh on his mind, Athelstan kneels in fear as Ragnar forces him to while he meets with Earl Haraldson. Ragnar asks for permission to go on another raid to this England and uses the information that Athelstan shared with him to convince Haraldson. Athelstan is appalled at Ragnar’s action and tries to deny it’s truth. Haraldson does not believe Athalstan’s denials but agrees to Ragnar’s proposal only on one condition.

ragnar meets with haraldson

haraldson debates on ragnar's idea to go west again

haraldson debates on ragnar’s idea to go west again

He tells Ragnar that he can go only if Haraldson’s half brother Knut goes with them. Knut was the spy who betrayed them and did not show up to go on the first voyage. Ragnar appears unconcerned about this and agrees to the terms.

You can go only if Knut goes with you

You can go only if Knut goes with you

Later that evening, they pass the dead monks again.

going past the dead ones

going past the dead ones

Athelstan stops and kneels in front of them, refusing to go on… he most likely is feeling the guilt of betraying his country and causing future slaughter to all there.

Athelstan stops and kneels

Athelstan stops and kneels

There is a feeling that Athelstan would welcome his own death along with that of the other monks, but Ragnar does not kill him. In fact, he cuts him free and tells him to run if he so chooses?

he thinks he is about to die but Ragnar only cuts him loose tells him to run if he wants

he thinks he is about to die but Ragnar only cuts him loose tells him to run if he wants

Athelstan stands for a moment watching Ragnar walk away… What are his choices? He has seen what happened to the others, he would most likely not get very far before meeting the same fate. Does he really want to die with them? He has nothing, no where else to go so he chooses to follow Ragnar.

having no where else to go and in fear of everyone else he follows Ragnar

having no where else to go and in fear of everyone else he follows Ragnar

That night, Ragnar surprises Lagertha with the suggestion that she go with them on this raid?

Ragnar tells Lagertha he wants her to come with him on this next raid.

Ragnar tells Lagertha he wants her to come with him on this next raid.

Lagertha thinks he is meanly teasing her, “What about the farm? And the children?”

Are you jesting with me what about the farm and the children?

Are you jesting with me what about the farm and the children?

Ragnar tells them that Athelstan can help with the farm and mind the children. Bjorn is not amused… in fact he is disgusted and insulted that a slave should be put over him, the heir of the household!

bjorn insulted that a slave is put above him

Ragnar asks sweet Gyda what she thinks? “I don’t mind, I like the priest!”

What do you think Gyda  I don't mind I like the priest

What do you think Gyda? I don’t mind I like the priest!

Ragnar’s response, “There, it’s settled then!” Lagertha had a slightly different response?

If any harm comes to my children I shall rip the lungs out of your body!

If any harm comes to my children I shall rip the lungs out of your body!

 

This voyage would prove to be trouble from the very start! Beginning with the arrival of Knut on the boat.

knut does his duty to haraldson and spies on everything on the boat

knut does his duty to haraldson and spies on everything on the boat

Rollo’s short temper flares already… he does not trust Knut- to Rollo’s credit, he is well justified in that feeling?

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo’s warning to Knut… A war band lives and fights together. If you can’t trust the men to either side of you, behind you or in front of

you, you are already a dead man.

If you can not trust those around you. You are already a dead man

If you can not trust those around you. You are already a dead man

 

The rest of the voyage is uneventful this time, until they reach their destination?

Their arrival has not gone un noticed

Their arrival has not gone un-noticed

Lindisfarne793

north-britain-map-with-lindesfarne1

north-britain-map-with-lindesfarne1

Northumbria-in-802

Northumbria-in-802

sailing into Northumbria

This time they are met by a band of warriors not a group of pathetic priests.

This time they are met by warriors not priests

A careful and cautious greeting from the English leader.

A careful greeting  Who are you? What do you do here? Are you traders?

A careful greeting Who are you? What do you do here? Are you traders?

Athelstan’s English lessons have paid off and Ragnar is initially able to keep the peace and greet the English.

Ragnar tries diplomacy.  We're Northmen,  yes we are traders.

Ragnar tries diplomacy. We’re Northmen, yes we are traders.

He is making some headway in the conversation but having difficulty controlling a few of his men? One of those men would be his brother Rollo!

of course Rollo is distrustful and suspicious  it's a trap don't listen they will kill us

of course Rollo is distrustful and suspicious it’s a trap don’t listen they will kill us

Another one is the easily agitated floki!

Ragnar has to quickly try to diffuse the situation

Rollo will not be deterred, or silenced in his doubt? He continues to insist that it is a trap!

No it's a trap

No it’s a trap

The other men start to get edgy and doubtful as well…

I'm with Rollo I say we kill them now

I’m with Rollo I say we kill them now

The English Leader grows concerned and wary, asking what is wrong with that man, pointing to Rollo.

What's the matter with him?  He doesn't trust you

What’s the matter with him? He doesn’t trust you

The English leader attempts to offer a gesture of good faith and peace…

an offer of good faith and peace

an offer of good faith and peace

Would the peace offering work? Would Rollo calm down and be appeased for a time?

Will Rollo accept and be appeased?

Will Rollo accept and be appeased?

Well, it might have worked had it not been for Floki losing what little control he maintains over himself?

floki is on edge he is losing what little control he maintains

floki is on edge he is losing what little control he maintains.

Floki went over the edge, lost his control and turned berserker at the sight of a cross?

Bloodlust turns men berserkr

Floki ripped the cross off from the young man…

Floki breaks the peace rips cross of a soldier

Floki breaks the peace rips cross of a soldier

which sent both sides into a rage of panic!

Panic sets in swords are drawn

Panic sets in swords are drawn

There was a comment made of, “What are you doing? I thought we were trying to be friends…”

A battle begins

A battle begins

leaders try to stop it but it's too late

leaders try to stop it but it’s too late

Rollo loses his control and slays the one who was trying to keep the peace!

rollos strikes a blow

Now Ragnar is in the middle of a battle he tried to avoid, and because of his men who lost their self control, he must win this battle!

ragnar in the middle of a battle he did not want  now he must win

ragnar in the middle of a battle he did not want now he must win

A lone survivor escapes and rides away before he can be slaughtered with the rest of his group…

a survivor escapes

a survivor escapes

What remains on the shore, a slain English Nobleman warrior and a path of blood stretching out to the sea.

A nobleman warrior lies in a pool of blood The vikings have left a trail of blood into the sea

My thoughts on this event? Had two men, Floki and Rollo, been in more control of their thinking on this day- the outcome and the future may have taken a much different path? Floki is a wild card and one can never be certain exactly where his thoughts will lead his actions? As for Rollo… he is a loose cannon, as yet ruled by only his warrior mind and his inner resentments of his brother’s successes.  He often acts without thinking ahead of future consequences. As Lagertha wisely put it to him directly on one occasion,”you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man?”  I think there is a worth and greatness within Rollo but he needs to believe this too. Before Rollo can achieve that greatness, he must learn that there is more to being a great man than just being a mighty and great warrior? Perhaps he should look upon one such as Earl Haraldson to see where only being a great warrior can lead one to?

you're too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man