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Tracing my past back to Rollo!

In my previous post, I shared my personal timeline going back to Uhtred the Bold, Bamburgh Castle and early Northumbria. Within that lineage, I found one Judith of Lens who married Waltheof of Northumbria and gave me that link back to the history of Northumbria. What is important and special about Judith of Lens is that she also takes me back to Rollo of Normandy! Many of us  know Rollo for his current claim to fame in the Vikings Saga. If you follow this blog, you are well aware that I have always had a certain affinity or fondness for Rollo. Of course, it does help that Clive Standen does such a fine job of portraying him and probably makes him much more appealing to watch than the real Rollo would have been.  As I’ve watched the series unfold, I have become much more interested in the character and true history of Rollo than that of Ragnar. That is not because of Clive’s portrayal of the character although that does not hurt, but because of the actual history and the importance of Rollo and Normandy.  If you look at the history of the Vikings and compare the events or accomplishments of Ragnar and Rollo, it is clear that as far as Viking history and events go, Rollo of Normandy had a far more important and long lasting impact than Ragnar Lodbrok.  Ragnar is more of a myth or legend and his claims to fame have come more from the actions of his sons than any of his own accomplishments. When you look at his sons, even their claims to fame were relatively short lived and can not really be documented much deeper than their individual involvements in the Great Heathen Wars that constituted one portion of the Viking era in England.  Rollo of Normandy though, left a dynasty and legacy of many future generations that is verifiable and documented. 

 

Season 4 of the Vikings Saga will soon be upon us and we will see how Michael Hirst’s version of the Viking era plays out. While we should all be in agreement that this show is more historical fantasy than actual history, Mr. Hirst has made numerous assurances and promises that he will present Rollo’s story more according to actual historical events than fantasy. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Rollo’s life and accomplishments are more historically sound than the events of Ragnar’s or even Ecbert’s…

By including Rollo in this family story as a brother of Ragnar, I think in a way that Hirst  painted or wrote his way into a corner with Rollo’s story. Now, he must find a way to get Rollo out of that corner, separate him from the confines of Ragnar’s story and from the events that will take place in England. So far, he has made a start at this separation by creating the rivalry and possible betrayal of Ragnar on the part of Rollo.  He has set up a scenario whereby it will be possible to set Rollo’s story up as separate from Ragnar and his family.  If you look at the truer history of Rollo, there is little actual documentation of his Danish or Norse family ties so it would seem that for what ever reason, Rollo did indeed separate himself from any of those family ties.  That is not to say that he separated himself from his Viking heritage, traditions or beliefs because throughout his life he seemed to hold on to many of those traditions and beliefs.  What we glimpse in previews of season 4 is Rollo realizing that he must choose between family and personal destiny. 

Rollo must follow his own destiny even if it means a betrayal of his brother Ragnar. I know that this story arc has in a way turned into an us against them, team Ragnar vs team Rollo following or feeling but in reality, this confrontation and closing has to take place for the story to move on.  Perhaps Rollo does have to betray Ragnar in order to achieve his own goals, his own success in life. If he has to betray Ragnar, so be it… Ragnar will be dead before Rollo anyway.  As for the future that the preview shows us, my bigger concern is for Bjorn- it appears as though power may be corrupting him and going to his head bit?  

Now, back to Rollo… he seems to be adjusting to the Frankish customs and life rather well if you ask me!

12494942_10156478820890249_6442139554579576026_n

credit to @teamStanden for the photos of Rollo!

rollo season4

I am digressing and getting a bit side tracked here because my main intent for this post is to share more about the real Rollo and my personal connection to him, ancient and distant as it may be! So, let us return to the original focus of this discussion- which is my path back to Rollo through Judith of Lens.  Let’s play a quick game of six degrees of separation… How are these people connected to each other?

Rollo and Uhtred

I have spent the past few weeks trying to sort through the tangled webs and branches of my tree and figure out this connection. There were some extremely tangled branches due that pesky habit they had back then of marrying relatives, casting off wives, disowning each other or legitimizing children of concubines and mistresses, and that does not include the habit of listing heirs or offspring by their land titles or such instead of a common surname! Anyway, I have now untangled enough to trace a lineage back through Judith of Lens to Rollo.

For those of you unfamiliar with Judith of Lens, you can read her story in this previous article.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/my-ancestor-path-to-normandy-northumbria-and-even-a-uthred-the-bold/

You can also read more about her and Waltheof of Northumbria in a book by Elizabeth Chadwick called the Winter Mantle. The book is historical fiction- I definitely would not call it historical romance unless of course you consider a husband who commits treason and gets beheaded for it, and a wife who turns bitter and resentful a romance? Elizabeth Chadwick provides excellent historical details and events while creating two stories that cover the time and lives of Judith of Lens, Waltheof of Northumbria, their daughter Maude of Huntington and her husband Simon De Senlis. She also includes some a not so likable or pleasant portrayal of  Judith’s Mother Adelaide of Normandy who was a sister to William the Conqueror.  It is more of an epic lifetime saga than a romance and my only minor disappointment was in the fact that she ended the story before Simon’s death and Maude’s marriage to King David of Scotland! I will admit that had she included that portion, the book would have gone beyond the bounds of epic and been far too long for most people to keep going with the story. I am probably one of few who would endure the added length in order to read the rest of Maude’s story unfold! 

the winter mantle2

Judith of Lens

Judith of Lens

Maude of Huntington

Maude of Huntington

Adelaide of Normandy

Adelaide of Normandy

Waltheof of Northumbria

Waltheof of Northumbria

After picking through all of the threads of my lineage, here is my connection back to Rollo through Judith of Lens.

Relationship to me

Robert I Rollo The Viking Rolf the Ganger Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie Count of Rouen Ragnvaldsson (846 – 931)
34th great-grandfather
William I Longsword of Normandy 2nd Duke of Normandy (893 – 942)
son of Robert I Rollo The Viking Rolf the Ganger Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie Count of Rouen Ragnvaldsson
Richard (The Fearless) of Normandy I (933 – 996)
son of William I Longsword of Normandy 2nd Duke of Normandy
Richard (The Good) Normandy II (963 – 1026)
son of Richard (The Fearless) of Normandy I
Robert I of Normandy (1000 – 1035)
son of Richard (The Good) Normandy II
Adelaide Normandy (1027 – 1090)
daughter of Robert I of Normandy
Judith of Lens (1054 – 1086)
daughter of Adelaide Normandy
Simon II Earl of Huntington De St Liz (1090 – 1153)
son of Maud Matilda Queen Consort of the Scots, Countess of Huntingdon and Northumbria
Simon III de Senlis (1138 – 1184)
son of Simon II Earl of Huntington De St Liz
Simon de Senlis (1181 – 1250)
son of Sir Simon IV Huntingdon DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis St Liz*
William DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis (1246 – 1286)
son of Simon De Saint Elizabeth de Senlis
Sir William St . Elizabeth Senlis (1274 – 1313)
son of William DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis
Lady Alice De St Elizabeth (1300 – 1374)
daughter of Sir William St . Elizabeth Senlis
Richard Woodville De Wydeville (1385 – 1441)
son of Isabel “Lady of Swanbourne” de Lyons Godard
Joan Maud Wydville (1410 – 1462)
daughter of Richard Woodville De Wydeville
William Hathaway (1470 – )
son of Sir William XIII, Keeper of the Forest Dene, Hathaway
Robert Hathaway (1500 – 1545)
son of William Hathaway
Joan Hathaway (1536 – 1584)
daughter of Robert Hathaway
William Workman (1568 – 1628)
son of Joan Hathaway
John Workman (1590 – 1640)
son of William Workman
John William Workman (1600 – 1647)
son of John Workman
Dirck Jans Woertman (1630 – 1694)
son of John William Workman
Jan Derick Woertman (1665 – 1712)
son of Dirck Jans Woertman
Abraham Woertman Workman (1709 – 1736)
son of Jan Derick Woertman
William P Workman (1746 – 1836)
son of Abraham Woertman Workman
Amos Workman (1764 – 1844)
son of William P Workman
William Workman (1819 – 1906)
son of Isaac A. Workman
Charles W. Workman (1862 – 1956)
son of William Workman
Ward Harlan Workman (1924 – 1994)
son of Clarence Bertrand Workman
Judith Ann Workman
You are the daughter of Ward Harlan Workman
 So, Judith of Lens connects me to both Uhtred of Northumbria and Last Kingdom fame, and Rollo of history and Vikings Saga fame! In my previous post, I shared some of the history I learned about Northumbria. Now, I will share  more of the history surrounding Rollo and his dynasty. If you browse through my archives, you will find that I have already shared much of his history so I am not going to repeat all of it again. I am just going to add some of the history I’ve found about the family- the real family, not Mr. Hirst’s version of it, or the numerous variations and versions presented by Norse Sagas.  Because I am attempting to stick to the more factual details and documented evidence while tracing my ancestors, I am not going any further back than Rollo because there is just no concise or conclusive proof of anything beyond Rollo’s existence. One could include the information from Norse Sagas and such but that information is varying depending on which Saga one goes by. It’s difficult enough trying to piece together the sketchy documents there are for this far back let alone try to sift through numerous oral renditions written down centuries after the events. I have not included any of those possibilities in my family tree and will not include them here. Yes, I do know there are a great many stories and legends that take Rollo’s ancestry further back but at this point there is just not enough evidence to say conclusively exactly who his family really was. Historians can not even agree whether he was of Norse descent or Danish. Some documents list his origins as Danish and others list it as Norse. The only thing certain is that he was a Scandinavian Viking raider who managed to cut a good deal with a Frankish King for some coastal land which later became Normandy!
We know little or nothing factual about Rollo’s earlier life before Normandy but in reading through information on his son and grandson, we find that he did have a loyal group of Vikings that stood with him, supported him and went on to look after his interests/family after his death in 931. 
the warriors staying behind with rollo for the winter
When Rollo’s son William took over rule in 927, many of the men loyal to Rollo would eventually rebel against his son.  Rollo’s son William proved to be a bit of a disappointment to most.
William_longsword_statue_in_falaise
 It appears that he faced a rebellion early in his reign, from Normans who felt he had become too Gallicised. Subsequent years are obscure. In 939 William became involved in a war with Arnulf I of Flanders, which soon became intertwined with the other conflicts troubling the reign of Louis IV. He was killed by followers of Arnulf while at a meeting to settle their conflict in abt 940.  After having made rather a mess of his reign and the land of Normandy, his death also left the future uncertain because his heir was a young child at the time.  The age of Richard was not his only obstacle to his inheritance.  He was also the son of William I and a mistress and so was illegitimate. There were many who tried to take advantage of this for their own gain.
assassination of William Longsword

assassination of William Longsword

Richard was born to William I Longsword, princeps (chieftain or ruler) of Normandy, and Sprota. His mother was a Breton concubine captured in war and bound to William by a more danico marriage.  He was also the grandson of the famous Rollo. Richard was about 10 years old when his father was killed on 17 December 942.  William was told of the birth of a son after the battle with Riouf and other Viking rebels, but his existence was kept secret until a few years later when William Longsword first met his son Richard. After kissing the boy and declaring him his heir, William sent Richard to be raised in Bayeux. After William was killed, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf or Ralf  of Ivry was their son and Richard’s half-brother. 
Sproata, concubine of William I of Normandy

Sproata, concubine of William I of Normandy

It is with young Richard that we find the men who had been loyal to Rollo stepping up to save the boy and the future of Normandy. With the death of Richard’s father in 942, King Louis IV of France seized the lands of the Duchy of Normandy. The king installed the boy Richard in his father’s office, and placed him in the custody of the count of Ponthieu.  He then split up the Duchy, giving its lands in lower Normandy to Hugh the Great. The King used the excuse that he was seeing to the young nobleman’s education, but at the same time was giving some of Richard’s lands in Lower Normandy to Hugh the Great, Count of Paris.    Louis IV thereafter kept Richard in solitary confinement at Lâon, but the youth escaped from imprisonment with assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane  (ancestor to the families of Harcourt and Beaumont).  According to legend, Richard refused to eat while in captivity.  Because he appeared ill, the guard on him was relaxed. Osmond de Centville secretly entered Laon and smuggled Richard out of his confinement, reportedly by hiding him in a truss of hay. They then took refuge with Bernard of Senlis. In 1854 Charlotte Yonge retold the story of Richard in a series of stories called “The Little Duke.”  These stories, in turn, inspired Mark Twain’s book, “The Prince and the Pauper.”

Richard the fearless

Richard the fearless

Besides these men, another Viking is often mentioned in relation to Richard.  By 944 Louis IV’s soldiers had invaded Normandy again, and had seized control of Rouen, while Hugh the Great, Count of France invaded Lower Normandy around Bayeux. The alliance between Louis and Hugh, always historically unstable, broke down, when Bernard the Dane suggested to Louis that Hugh was getting more than his share of Normandy land. Hugh, in response to the King’s hostility, joined an alliance of Normans loyal to Richard and Danish Vikings under Harold (Harald) of Bayeux or of The Bassin.  This alliance ultimately defeated King Louis.  Harald continued to be of assistance to Richard and Normandy.    According to Flodoard, King Louis was invited to a meeting with this Harold in order to discuss peace terms.  Louis arrived with only a few men; Harold killed most of his men and Louis fled to Rouen where other Northmen, previously thought to be friendly to Louis, captured him.  He was only released to Hugh the Great when Louis gave his son Charles as a hostage at Rouen.  Although Louis was eventually given his freedom, the new alliance of Hugh of France and Richard of Normandy was now the new power in the region.

In 946, Richard agreed to “commend” himself to Hugh, the Count of Paris. At the age of 14, Richard allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders in France, drove king Louis IV’s army out of Rouen, and successfully took back Normandy from him by 947.  Richard with the backing, the council and advice from those much older Viking Warriors took control and it might be said that he was the one most responsible for turning his Grandfather’s dream into a solid reality, a Kingdom to be reckoned with and if not liked, at least respected and possibly feared by other countries.   By 966 he was using the title “Marquis des Normands.” He never used the title Duke of Normandy, though some historians have retroactively assigned it to him. Richer of Rheims refers to him as “dux pyratorum” or “leader of the pirates”. In no sense did he mean “dux” as an official title.  Richard was also given the nickname of “Sans Peur” or The Fearless.  

Throughout Richard’s reign, there was continued connection and involvement with Viking factions which would suggest that while his Grand father Rollo may have severed personal family ties, he did not severe his connection to the Vikings.  In 961 a Viking band arrived in the Seine Valley and conducted raids towards the Brittany border and around Chartres.  It is possible these Vikings had the tacit support of Richard because the raids provoked hostility between Richard and an alliance of King Lothair and Theobald, Count of Chartres and Blois. Theobald attacked the Norman cities of Évereux and Roeun, and the Normans, in return, attacked Dunois and burned Chartres.  This conflict raged for four years. It is reported that Harold the Dane again came to the aid of Richard in 962.  Unless the medieval historians confused this war with the one of 945, this may be the same Harold who resided in the vicinity of Bayeux when William Longsword died. 

Eventually Richard did swear allegiance to Louis’ successor Lothar [Lothaire] in 965 at Gisors and the King acknowledged Richard’s rule over the Bessin, the Contetin and the Avranchin regions of Normandy. Richard promised to rebuild and restore the monastery of Mont. St. Michael, which he acquired in the agreement.    Other than these early conflicts, Richard’s long reign was relatively peaceful. After 965, Viking raids in the area ceased. Richard quarreled with King Æthelred (Ethelred) II of England.  At the time the Danes had invaded England and taken control over much of the eastern part of country.  Apparently the Normans had been purchasing a lot of the loot. In 991 Richard agreed to a non-aggression pact with King Æthelred, probably to keep either side from sheltering Viking marauders.

Gunnora wife of Richard the fearless

Gunnora wife of Richard the fearless

Gunnora

Gunnora

 Further evidence of the continued connection to the Danes is Richard’s relationship and eventual marriage to his concubine or mistress, Gunnora who was said to be of a noble family of Danes.  It is known that Richard had more than one mistress and one of these, Gunnora, he eventually married some time before 989.  Richard and Gunnora had eight children. She is sometimes called “Gunnora of Crépon” because she had a brother named “Herfast (Artfast) de Crépon” and nephew named “Osborn de Crépon.”  The term de Crépon was never attached to Gunnora’s name during her lifetime and, though Crépon is a town in Lower Normandy near Bayeux, there is no direct evidence that this was a location in which she ever lived.

Richard’s formal marriage to Gunnora was certainly carried out in order to legitimize their children, especially his eldest son and heir Richard II and his second son Robert who Richard had appointed as the Archbishop of Reoun.
All we know about Gunnora is that she was from a “noble family of Danes”, and so her family was probably one of the many Nordic settlers or their descendants that lived in Normandy.  According to Legend the young Richard was hunting in the forests of Normandy when he met and was attracted to a young lady named Sainsfrida (Senfrie), the daughter of a forester of Arques. Sainsfrida was, however, married and so sent her sister Gunnora to Richard.   The chronicles do not give the name of her parents.  Since their eldest son Richard II was born about 953, their relationship must have begun some time before this date.  In spite of conjecture in many family trees, there is absolutely no evidence that she was the daughter of Harold Bluetooth, King of Denmark.  She was referred to as Gunnora Harldsdottir but it is likely that she may have been the daughter of the previously mentioned Harald the Dane who, contrary to some popular assumption is not the same Harald as Harald Bluetooth. 
In looking at the differences between the failures of William and the successes of his son Richard, we probably need to look at them in relation to Rollo. By the time he was awarded Normandy, Rollo was a hardened professional warrior who was used to fighting for what he wanted. He most likely had not lived any easy life, nor had anything handed to him. When he finally achieved his goal of  wealth and land, he still had to work to hold on to it. He was a Viking and for the most part lived by Viking traditions and customs. One example of those customs was his “wife” Poppa of Bayeux.  The generally accepted theory is that Poppa was the daughter of Berenger II of Nuestria and was taken captive by Rollo during an attack on Bayeux in about 885. She was Rollo’s concubine or wife “more danico” in Norse/Danish tradition. She was not a slave and was most likely of high nobility.
statue of Poppa

statue of Poppa

Poppa of Bayeux

Poppa of Bayeux

 A more danico marriage meant “in the Danish manner” or “by Norse customary law“. It designates a type of traditional marriage practiced in northern Europe during the Middle Ages. It is possible, therefore, that marriage more danico was neither informal marriage nor even legitimized abduction, but simply secular marriage contracted in accordance with Germanic law, rather than ecclesiastical marriage.  More danico permitted polygyny (serial or simultaneous), but is not synonymous with it. The “putting away” of a more danico wife could apparently be done at the mere wish of the husband; the rights of the wife are unclear. Often the putting away was done with the intention of marrying a still higher-ranking woman more christiano; but since there are numerous instances of the husband returning to themore danico wife, it is possible that the relationship had merely been deactivated or kept in the background. The union could also be fully dissolved, so that the wife was free to marry another man. Her consent in the matter may or may not have been required; again, the consensual aspect is unknown.  By tradition and customary law, the children of such a relationship were in no way considered of lesser rank or disadvantaged with respect to inheritance. Many sons more danico went on to become dukes or kings by succession or conquest.
By accepting baptism and vassalage under a Christian prince under Charles the Simple after the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911, Rollo had placed the Vikings of Normandy on the inevitable path of Christianization; but they clung to some old customs. 
 

 Norman chronicler William of Jumieges uses the term explicitly to refer to two relationships:

  • Rollo, founder of the Norman dynasty, had taken captive at Bayeux, Poppa, daughter of a count, Berengar. Dudo of Saint-Quentin relates that they had been joined in marriage (“connubium”), William of Jumieges describing that Rollo had joined himself to her by more danico. She was mother of his son William Longsword. It is related that he put Poppa aside to marry Gisela, daughter of Charles the Simple, and that when Gisela died, he returned to Poppa. However, the absence of any record of this royal princess or her marriage in Frankish sources suggests the entire supposed marriage to Gisela may be apocryphal.
  • William Longsword in his turn, had a son and heir by a woman whose name is given as Sprota. William of Jumieges reports that Longsword was bound to her pursuant to the mos danicus (“danico more iuncta”).  The chronicler Flodoard refers to her simply as Longsword’s ‘Breton concubine’ (“concubina britanna”).  William would formally marry Luitgarde of Vermandois, daughter of Heribert II, count of Vermandois. [Dudo iii, 32 (p. 70)], who following William’s death remarried to Thibaut, count of Blois. Sprota, who was mother of Longsword’s heir, Richard I, Duke of Normandy, is said to have been forced to become concubine of Esperleng, the rich owner of several mills, by whom she became mother of Rodulf of Ivry, although it is unclear if this occurred at the time of William’s marriage to Luitgarde, or at his death.
  • Richard I carried on the tradition of more danico with Gunnora. She was his wife more danico or concubine as early as sometime in 950s even though he entered into a Christian marriage with Emma daughter of Hugh the Great, Count of Paris.  She was born about 943 and died after 19 Mar 968. After her death he eventually married Gunnora in the Christian manner to ensure legitimacy of their many children after the church began taking a stricter approach and view on the more danico marriages. 

While many may perceive the relationship between Rollo and Poppa as that of her being a captive slave or just a mistress, in reality it was more likely a relationship and marriage of importance in terms of alliances and politics of the time. Being of some high status herself, Poppa would probably have taken this relationship seriously and expected to be treated with the respect due her rank and status. When she gave birth to son William in 893, she provided the much needed heir to the dynasty and would have sealed an alliance between Normandy and Bayeux. William was the heir apparent most likely would have been treated with high regard and esteem… given advantages and a much easier life than Rollo had.  There is reference to Rollo being well attached to his son and at one point he sent William to Bayeux to learn more of the Norse ways of Northmen residing within Bayeux.  From most accounts though, William was far more interested in becoming more Frankish and as a result his own people rebelled against him. It seems that this may have been a case of  William possibly being over indulged, given too much advantage and not having had to truly work for his title… not such an uncommon occurence for many heirs or children of a parent who has worked to achieve wealth and standing.  William was born in 893 while Rollo was working towards his greatness. This meant that Rollo was absent during most of William’s youth so his upbringing was most likely left predominantly to Poppa who was of Noble birth and would have raised William within that context of privilage and esteem. Rollo ruled until 927, which put William well into adulthood with little chance of ruling… it probably seemed to him that Rollo was going to live forever! This situation left William as a well privelaged adult with not a whole lot to do besides enjoy his Father’s wealth. When Rollo turned over the rule to his son in 927, he may have had concerns but probably felt that his son was capable of ruling and continuing along the path he had set. He also had few other choices… William was his only son and at the time, he was the legitimate heir.  Had Rollo chosen someone else to rule, there would have been rebellion from some faction.

Rollo died in 931 and William quickly began to make changes and rebelling against his Father’s policies. He set about building up his allegiances and alliances to the French Kings which caused the Norman Nobles to dissent. In 935, he went so far as to marry his younger sister Gerloc to  William, Count of Poitou with the approval of Hugh the Great. At the same time he At the same time Longsword married Luitgarde,  daughter of Count Herbert II of Vermandois whose dowry gave him the lands of Longueville, Coudres and Illiers l’Eveque.  In addition to supporting King Raoul, he was now a loyal ally of his father-in-law, Herbert II, both of whom his father Rollo had opposed. 

At the time of his arranged marriage to Luitgarde, William had a wife more danica, Sprota as well as his son and heir, Richard. This new marriage left Sprota and Richard in a difficult situation.  He did provide for her and Richard during this period as there was reference to her living in her own household at Bayeux under his protection but she was now looked on as a cast off concubine rather than a wife. Richard was left to endure the being the subject of ridicule, the French King Louis “abused the boy with bitter insults”, calling him “the son of a whore who had seduced another woman’s husband.” 

William’s actions during this time led to his ultimate downfall and death which in turn led to his young son Richard having to fight against all odds to reclaim his title and regain control of Normandy. So, essentially Richard was in much the same position as his Grandfather Rollo had been, fighting and working to achieve his worth and his fame.  After regaining control of Normandy in about 960, Richard spent the remainder of his lengthy reign focused on Normandy itself, and participated less in Frankish politics and its petty wars. In lieu of building up the Norman Empire by expansion, he stabilized the realm and reunited the Normans, forging the reclaimed Duchy of his father and grandfather into West Francia’s most cohesive and formidable principality. Rather than outright war, Richard  used marriage to build strong alliances. His marriage to Emma of Paris connected him directly to the House of Capet. His second wife, Gunnora, from a rival Viking group in the Cotentin, formed an alliance to that group, while her sisters formed the core group that were to provide loyal followers to him and his successors.  His daughters forged valuable marriage alliances with powerful neighboring counts as well as to the king of England.  He also strengthened ties to the church presumably understanding how important the church alliances were. Richard also built on his relationship with the church, restoring their lands and ensuring the great monasteries flourished in Normandy. His further reign was marked by an extended period of peace and tranquility.

While William may not have been successful in his reign or achievements, his son Richard more than made up for his inadequacies. Also, William’s decision to marry his sister into the house of Poitou and Aquitaine would prove to be one of his better decisions. 

gerloc Adeila of normandy

Gerloc (or Geirlaug), baptised in Rouen as Adela (or Adèle) in 912, was the daughter of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, and his wife, Poppa. She was the sister of Duke William Longsword.  In 935, she married William Towhead, the future count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine. They had two children together before she died on 14 October 962:

Through her son William IV of Aquitaine, she would be ancestor to Dukes of Aquitaine and to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her daughter Adelaide would go on to become a Queen of France. 

Dukes of Aquetaine

Dukes of Aquetaine

Adbelahide or Adele or Adelaide of Aquitaine (or Adelaide of Poitiers) (c. 945 or 952 – 1004) was the daughter of William III, Duke of Aquitaine andAdele of Normandy, daughter of Rollo of Normandy.  Her father used her as security for a truce with Hugh Capet, whom she married in 969.  In 987, after the death of Louis V, the last Carolingian king ofFrance, Hugh was elected the new king with Adelaide as queen. They were proclaimed at Senlis and blessed at Noyon. They were the founders of the Capetian dynasty of France.

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became queen Ceased to be queen spouse
Adelaide of Aquitaine.jpg Adelaide of Aquitaine William III, Duke of Aquitaine c. 945 970 3 July 987 1004 Hugh
Susanna of Italy.jpg Rozala of Italy Berengar II of Italy c. 937 988 996 7 February 1003 Robert II
Berthe de Bourgogne.jpg Bertha of Burgundy Conrad of Burgundy c. 952 996 1035?
Konstancie Arles.jpg Constance of Arles William I, Count of Provence 986 1003 25 July 1034
Of Frisia Matilda.jpg Matilda of Frisia Liudolf, Margrave of Frisia c. 1024 1034 1044 Henry I
Anne Kiev.jpg Anne of Kiev Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Kiev c. 1024 19 May 1051 1075
Bertha of holland.jpg Bertha of Holland Floris I, Count of Holland c. 1055 1072 1094 Philip I
Bertrade-montfort2.jpg Bertrade de Montfort Simon I de Montfort c. 1070 15 May 1092 1117
Adelaidesavojska.jpg Adélaide de Maurienne Humbert II, Count of Savoy 1092 3 August 1115 18 November 1154 Louis VI
Illus-050-1-.jpg Eleanor of Aquitaine William X, Duke of Aquitaine 1122 22 July 1137 1137 21 March 1152
annulment
1 April 1204

The list of the Capetian dynasty is actually much longer. This above list is just a partial list of Queen Consorts for the Dynasty which continued until the death of Charles the IV in 1328.  The dynasty had a crucial role in the formation of the French state. Initially obeyed only in their own demesne, the Île-de-France, the Capetian kings slowly, but steadily, increased their power and influence until it grew to cover the entirety of their realm. For a detailed narration on the growth of French royal power, see Crown lands of France.

As you’re wading through all of this you may be wondering where Gisela of France is, and why she is not mentioned anywhere in this information?  Well, Gisela is not here because there simply is not enough verifiable evidence to back up her existence let alone her marriage to Rollo.   

Gisela of France, also called Gisella or Giséle (fl. 911), was traditionally a French princess and the consort of Rollo, duke of Normandy. Gisela had no children.  According to tradition, Rollo was betrothed to Gisela, daughter to the king of West Francia, Charles the Simple, after his conversion to Christianity upon his ascension as ruler of Normandy in 911. The marriage and the existence of Gisela are not confirmed. This excerpt from a book called Dictionary of Heroes gives an account of the supposed legend pertaining to Rollo and Gisela and also reaffirms the lack of any proof or evidence to back up the story.  If she did exist and did marry Rollo, she died childless and he maintained his previous relationship with Poppa, the Mother of his children.  So, for the purposes of lineage and ancestry or descendants of Rollo she would be inconsequential. Also, the accounts taken from the treaty of Saint Clair Epte only state that Rollo offered to marry her as a goodwill gesture. Since there is no definitive proof or documentation of any such actual marriage taking place, perhaps Rollo or Charles decided that the baptism would suffice and there was no need to carry things to such extreme as the marriage between the Viking and a Princess of France!

Rollo and Gisela from dictionary of heroes

There is a Gisela listed as a daughter of Charles the Simple and his first wife Frederuna, daughter of Dietrich, Count in the Hamaland. Together they had six daughters:

  • Ermentrude
  • Frederuna
  • Adelaide
  • Gisela, wife of Rollo (existence doubtful)
  • Rotrude
  • Hildegarde

There is always the possibility that having six daughters, Charles may have been willing to part with one of them in order to achieve some sort of peace but it does seem rather doubtful that a Carolingian King would allow for such an arrangement with one of their princesses that were so highly valued and esteemed. My one thought on this is that the daughter must really have annoyed and irritated him- obviously she would not have been a favored daughter for him to so willingly have traded her to a heathen Viking warrior. Hmmm come to think of it, perhaps it did happen and perhaps Hirst has given us a somewhat more accurate portrayal of history than we give him credit for?

gisla is still a young girl wanting her own way

gisla he disgusts me he makes me want to vomit charles with a rather unhappy Gisla at the mass rollo and gisla

If Mr Hirst goes for more historical accuracy with Rollo’s story, perhaps this will be a short lived marriage… Gisla will meet some sort of untimely or unfortunate demise and a woman named Poppa will show up. It’s hard to say where Mr. Hirst will take any of the story but at least now you know truer details of Rollo’s dynasty and legacy that includes so many generations of famous descendants as well as ordinary peons like myself.

And, at least now I know why I feel so compelled to remain loyal to Rollo despite his many faults, flaws and errors in judgement! 

 

 

 

 

Catching up with Wessex… and Judith

I have recently realized that with all of the events going in France at the end of our last raiding season, I failed to catch up on Wessex, and with Judith’s situation. I do apologize for that, but in my defense, things were and are still a bit messy to say the least in Paris right now! The events of Wessex were not of  high importance to those of us remaining in France with Rollo.  Now that things have calmed down somewhat and we are playing a waiting game whilst trying to establish ourselves here with the Franks, I can take some time to share what is taking place in Wessex and ponder what the future might hold for my friend Judith.

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

You can read much of Judith’s story so far here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/viking-saga-judiths-story/

Judith’s admission of adultery with the Priest Athelstan, and the resulting birth of her son Alfred, has put her in a very precarious position. Ecbert was able to save her and the child by citing it as a miracle, and convincing his son Aethelwulf  that it was just that, a sign from God that this was a blessed event and this is a holy child. Now, we all understand that Aethelwulf is a devoutly religious man but surely he would not be so completely gullible as to not have his own personal doubts and resentments remaining about this whole sordid affair.   Ecbert has managed to save Judith and the precious little Alfred, save face with the church, and avoid some tearing apart of their family reputation but rumors will continue to abound about Aethelwulf  being a cuckhold to Judith’s adulterous affair. This will most likely always haunt Aethelwulf in some ways and no matter how hard he might try to forgive, I think it will always remain there in the back of his mind and his heart… causing him even more inner turmoil in his attempts to be closer to God.  For Judith, the events have placed her even more in the middle of this underlying battle between Father and son. And, make no mistake, there is a underlying battle brewing between Aethelwulf and Ecbert.

Ecbert gives a clear clue that in his mind, realistically anyone is dispensable or disposable if they interfere with his plans… including family.

I don't have any friends it's better that way.

I don’t have any friends it’s better that way.

Aethelwulf comes to realization that his Father's plan included his death...

Aethelwulf comes to realization that his Father’s plan included his death…

We have seen so many times in the past that Ecbert is indeed corrupt… ruthless and manipulative, willing to go to any lengths in order to maintain his control of Wessex and achieve his goal of becoming King or Bretwalda of all the Kingdoms. His plan is to conquer Mercia, then move on to Northumbria… with those two kingdoms taken, it would be an easy undertaking to then take East Anglia- which no one so far has made any mention of in this particular story. We’ve seen Ecbert use his son to accomplish some of these goals and as we see with the last event in Mercia, he is willing to sacrifice his son towards this end. Ecbert sees  Aethelwulf as weak and easily manipulated into doing his dirty work for him in the name and reason of religious right. The best example of this was when Ecbert convinced Aethelwulf to go forth and take care of that situation in the Viking village. For Ecbert, it had little to do with religious right or beliefs but more to do with realizing he might have made a mistake with allowing that settlement in the first place. But, in refection, he did need those men to help him beat down Mercia. If it took promising and placating them with a settlement then he was more than willing to play that card at the time. The one thought or question remains in the disasterous outcome of the village. Would Ecbert have went to the same lengths had Lagertha and or Athelstan remained? Ecbert is one who needs to be in control of every situation at all times, much like Ragnar… Ecbert and Ragnar both made serious errors in judgement with this whole situation. I believe they both under estimated the outcomes and each other even though they both know how corrupt each other is.  Would Ecbert resorted to such slaughter if he did not feel some rage and resentment at both Lagertha and Athelstan leaving him? And, ultimately, Ragnar must accept his own responsibility and guilt in leaving the settlement unguarded, unprotected in the first place. He under estimated just how far Ecbert might go in dealing with this mess, in fixing any possible mistake he felt he made or extracting a personal revenge on Ragnar.

 

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

Ecbert has maybe embibed in some of those shrooms and now rambles on considering himself a philosopher

Ecbert has maybe embibed in some of those shrooms and now rambles on considering himself a philosopher

Ecbert is somewhat of puzzle as far as his religion is concerned. He does  not seem to be  a particularly devout Christian but he does know full well that he needs the church on his side in order to achieve his goals.  At times he seems more interested in what ever  beliefs those ancients Romans that he is so fond of, held? Yet in contrast to his lesser faith and his affinity for more ancient practices, he seems to firmly believe that his grandson Alfred is a special holy child? He believes that there was truly something special about his friend Athelstan and that what ever that was, has been passed on to this child.

ecbert promised judith that he will do everything in his power to keep her and her baby safe

ecbert promised judith that he will do everything in his power to keep her and her baby safe

his name is Alfred He shall be great

What ever Ecbert may personally believe in, he knows full well that his own goals can not be achieved with out the backing of the Christian Church. The church was unhappy with this pagan settlement so rather than deal with it himself, he sent Aethelwulf to do it. He knew that as a religious zealot, Aethelwulf would look at this as an act of God’s punishment on sinners such as those Pagans. Aethelwulf looked at that assignment as a bond of trust from Ecbert. Being as religious as he is, Aethelwulf feels he must ever be loyal to his anointed King and Father. Aethelwulf is continuously torn between his religious beliefs and the harsh realities of his life and feelings of failure with his Father. He wants to honor God and his faith, but he also wants to prove to Ecbert that he is worthy and capable of ruling an empire such as Ecbert envisions.  He has the same sort of inner conflicts with Judith. I think that he is torn in his wanting to believe that this is a sign from God, that his faith tells him to forgive… yet he can not help but see her betrayal every time he looks at her son, Alfred.

aethelwulf: This is naught to do with you Father this is between me and my slut of a wife!

aethelwulf: This is naught to do with you Father this is between me and my slut of a wife!

aethelwulf: It just reminds me of my wife's whoring ways and how she has not suffered enough for her sins.

aethelwulf: It just reminds me of my wife’s whoring ways and how she has not suffered enough for her sins.

 

We see signs of  Aethelwulf’s struggle with accepting this forgiveness and this son as he makes habit of throwing Judith’s adultery and betrayal in her face until Ecbert intervenes on her behalf. What we see unfolding is Judith’s misery and her difficult plight in this household where she and her son have been saved but to what real purpose? Because of her admission and her mark of adultery, she is seen as somewhat of a pariah by Aethelwulf and most likely many others in the household. Ecbert has saved her and Alfred, but realistically, that does little to improve her circumstances in the beginning. Judith is alive but still living in fear, waiting for a next move against her or her son. She must tread even more cautiously and carefully now in order to assure the safety of her son should anything happen to her. In some ways, her predicament is even more perilous now than it was before. Now, every move she makes, she must consider the fate and future of both of her sons.

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

From the time of Alfred’s birth, Ecbert is completely besotted and devoted to the child to the point of ignoring his older grandson who by all rights no matter what, should be the heir as the oldest son. By all rights, this older son and his future heirs should inherit the throne and even without question as to Alfred’s parentage, he should be looked on as merely the spare. Ecbert, it seems though, has other plans which he secretly shares with Judith… he sees Alfred as blessed and it is his intent to see Alfred as ruler. This information would not bode well for Aethelwulf or his son by Judith.  We know that Ecbert would easily go so far as to sacrifice his son, but would he just as easily go to that length in sacrificing this other grandson? At some point, this thought will have to play heavily on Judith’s mind and heart. How can she manage some way to keep both of her sons safe?  This would be a predominant thought for any Mother put in such a situation. Judith’s ongoing thoughts must certainly be not so much of her own happiness but for the lives and the future of her children.  On a historical side note here, Michael Hirst has made comments as to following more closely to history, Alfred’s path to the throne. He is on his way to taking this closer path, I think, with Ecbert’s obsessive belief that Alfred is special and should rule. In history, someone did think this and paved the child’s way to the throne with a special dispensation and affirmation from the Pope.  The reason behind this special affirmation remains somewhat of a mystery yet today!

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 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.

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

 

ecbert: what are Judith's feelings towards her father

ecbert: what are Judith’s feelings towards her father

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of judith

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of Judith

 Judith is beginning to walk a fearful and cautious path within the household, enduring Aethelwulf’s taunts and wondering about an uncertain future for her sons. Ecbert ever the manipulative one, takes advantage of her fears and uses them in his tactic to control everyone. In his ploy to gain even more control of Judith than he already has, he uses Aethelwulf and even her Father- he questions her loyalty and wonders aloud just where those loyalties might be.

 

ecbert starts out with friendly conversation wanting to know how his grandsons are. He then is more specific in his inquiry of wanting to know how Alfred is.

ecbert starts out with friendly conversation wanting to know how his grandsons are. He then is more specific in his inquiry of wanting to know how Alfred is.

Judith reassures him that Both sons are well

 Ecbert calls Judith to a private meeting to discuss the future and what it might hold for little Alfred should she not have protection against Aethelwulf in the future. He makes much of warning Judith of the dangers facing her and Alfred if they are not protected in some way from Aethelwulf’s  vengeance. Ecbert vows his protection but of course there must be some return or recompense for such protection. Judith is not ignorant nor as naïve as she once might have been, she knows exactly what Ecbert is suggesting as her recompense for this protection. Ecbert also suggests that he will keep both her sons safe in  recompense for any such unsaid agreement between them.

ecbert promised judith that he will do everything in his power to keep her and her baby safe

ecbert promised judith that he will do everything in his power to keep her and her baby safe

ecbert: I have promised you faithfully that I will protect you and your sons especially Alfred

ecbert: I have promised you faithfully that I will protect you and your sons especially Alfred

judith knows where he's headed with this recompense

judith knows where he’s headed with this recompense

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

ecbert I freely offer my protection but of course there must be some recompense.

ecbert I freely offer my protection but of course there must be some recompense.

 

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

She  understands just how powerful and controlling Ecbert is and knows how far he would be willing to go to get what he wants. Ecbert proposes that in return for her sharing his bed, he will assure her safety and that of her son, Alfred.  She knows what Ecbert is capable of and she also had a good idea of what Aethelwulf is capable of as well. In his attempt to seal this bargain, Ecbert even goes far as to bring Athelstan into the conversation.

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over judith

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over Judith

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of athelstan

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of Athelstan

So, Judith becomes a pawn yet again, truly caught between Father and son in a situation that could bring danger to either or both of her sons. For Judith, this is not a matter of what is religiously moral, ethical or right in God’s eyes. In her mind, I think she has already gone beyond that with her adultery and with the church’s treatment of her for that sin. No, for Judith now, this becomes an act or an attempt to guarantee the safety of at least one of her children. If she makes this choice to become Ecbert’s mistress, she is hoping to save Alfred’s life and assure some future for him… but in doing so, there must still be some thought of what will become of her older son because of Ecbert’s insistence of Alfred being the holy one, the one who shall rule. By ensuring Alfred’s safety, is she then condemning her older son to just as much danger and uncertain fate from Ecbert in the future? As I have mentioned, and as Judith put it… she is not ignorant. This thought has to be playing in her heart and tearing her apart as she goes ahead with her decision to share Ecbert’s bed.  Some part of her also has to be thinking of Ecbert’s penchant for duplicity in all matters. She has to be thinking of this trait and wondering how far she should trust him. Some part of her must be wondering when he will decide that she is of no use to him or his plans and then what would her fate be?  Even if she has these doubts and does not trust him, in all reality, she has little choice in this matter and she knows it. She knows that Ecbert has spun his web around her and her children quite tightly and she must accept that once again, she is a pawn in his game.

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith is called to Ecbert's chambers

judith is called to Ecbert’s chambers

Judith accepts her fate and meets Ecbert in his private chamber

As she enters into this arrangement and his bed, she reminds him of the terms of this agreement… that Alfred will be safe.

judith let's just refresh ourselves on the terms of this arrangement Then you will protect Alfred

judith let’s just refresh ourselves on the terms of this arrangement Then you will protect Alfred

Ecbert has calculated this plan well, or so he assumes. He sends Aethelwulf on what should be a sacrificial fool’s errand to ensure Kwenitrith’s loyalty and remind her of her puppet status… probably fully expecting Aethelwulf to be killed in the mission thereby leaving Judith free for his continued dalliance and for  baby Alfred to be named the heir because of his special holy status.  This sacrificial death at Kweni’s hands would also ensure a new war against Mercia in retaliation for Aethelwulf’s death, one which Ecbert would no doubt expect to easily win and be backed by the church’s power behind him.

Aethelwulf comes to realization that his Father's plan included his death...

Aethelwulf comes to realization that his Father’s plan included his death…

Yep Dad has done it again

At this sudden realization, Aethelwulf can do nothing but laugh and warn Kweni of what should befall her with his pre-planned death.

Haaaa finally one up on you kweni we've destroyed his settlement

He is quite calm when he explains the situation to Kwentirith and informs her there is no longer any settlement to bargain for.

 Aethelwulf  however, realizes just how far Ecbert is willing to go and how little he really matters to Ecbert’s plans for the future. Aethelwulf survives the trip to Mercia and in his own way warns Kwentirith of  how precarious her own situation is. When he returns home, he makes some insinuation and innuendo towards Ecbert that he understands how the trip was intended to play out. It is also during that dinner when Aethelwulf and Judith begin to understand more of this ultimate power game of Ecbert’s. This last family dinner gives some insight as to what the future might hold for Aethelwulf and for Judith. For Aethelfulf, there is the realization of just how devious and treacherous his Father really is along with an inner questioning of his ongoing loyalty to this Father who would so easily see him dead.

ecbert watches aethelwulf and judith and has to wonder how this is going to play out

ecbert watches aethelwulf and judith and has to wonder how this is going to play out

At the beginning of the meal, there is some of the usual resentment and insults from Aethelwulf but Judith refuses to be cowed this time and responds in a way that causes Aethelwulf to quiet and possibly rethink his actions in light of his current situation with his Father.

judith treads carefully through this dinner with father son husband and now lover

judith treads carefully through this dinner with father son husband and now lover

judith admits her flaws I am not so much of a hippocrate that I could condemn you.

judith admits her flaws I am not so much of a hippocrate that I could condemn you.

ecbert tries to make light of it isn't that just like Kwentirith

Ecbert tries to make light of Aethelwulf’s comments and description of what took place

judith's realization of just how evil and ruthless Ecbert is

When Aethelwulf makes mention of sacrifices, questionable outcomes of the event and divided loyalties, Judith realizes just how far Ecbert is willing to go in his schemes…

After Judith speaks up for herself, there seems to be some unsaid truce between her and Aethelwulf through the rest of the dinner. They both appear more focused on Ecbert’s responses and behavior in light of Aethelwulf’s comments. Aethelwulf for his part seems intent on some inner thoughts of trying to be more God or at least Jesus like in acceptance and forgiving attitudes… At one point a look comes across Judith’s face as if to think, “Well, Fuck! He’s trying to forgive me… I slept with that Ass for nothing!”

judith's sudden thought well fuck he's forgiving me then I slept with that ass for nothing

judith’s sudden thought well fuck he’s forgiving me then I slept with that ass for nothing

There is also a fleeting attempt towards forgiveness on his part towards Judith.  For Judith, there is a revelation that she could in some way hold a bit of her own power or control in this game… as she watches this interaction between Father and son, as she sees some small glimmer of forgiveness or at least acceptance from Aethelwulf, she begins to have thoughts of how she might weigh this all to her own advantage? The last we see of Judith is her with a look of  her own calculation and pondering of how she may not be as powerless as she thought she was.

great hall of Wessex

family dinner in wessex Ecbert's somewhat rude and condescending comments A toast to my son.

family dinner in wessex Ecbert’s somewhat rude and condescending comments A toast to my son.

 Judith watches and listens to this interaction between Father and son escalate into a final rather condescending toast by Ecbert towards Aethelwulf. In the end, Judith has a look of her own possibilities for the future… as though she suddenly realizes that she is not without her own power in this game.

Judith is scoping out this situation now between Ecbert and Aethelwulf

There is one very important thing that Judith must keep in mind and make assurances that there will be no doubts of in her future…. Judith has proven herself to be quite a proficient and fertile breeder. She has already had one instance of adultery leading to an unplanned and untimely pregnancy given the fact that Aethelwulf had been away in battle and she had not had sex with him for quite some time before she entered into the risky affair with Athelstan.  Should such another occurance take place, I am quite sure there would be no acceptance or forgiveness forthcoming from either Aethwulf or the church! This affair with Ecbert has taken another turn of risk and danger for her. How could she begin to explain to Aethelwulf that she was sleeping with his Father this time? Although Ecbert probably did not bargain on Aethelwulf returning, he had returned and now Ecbert has another possible sticky situation do deal with…. I believe it would be in both his and Judith’s best interests for Aethelwulf to be placated and for him to be encouraged to see to his husbandly duties. Judith needs to do whatever possible to be in Aethelwulf’s good graces and in his bed very soon!

 

This brings us to a glimpse of the future where Judith seems to have found some of that power?

judith holds her own in this game of power

 

Looking towards that future, she has obviously survived and also managed to keep both of her sons alive! Job well done Judith!  These two adorable boys play Judith’s sons Athelred and Alfred in the next season so we do know that she has succeeded in keeping them both alive so far.

 

Athelred and Alfred Judith's son in season 4 vikings

Athelred and Alfred Judith’s son in season 4 Vikings

Of course, what we do not know yet, is what she has had to do to ensure the safety of both boys? That all remains to be told in the next season.  We do know from previews that Aethelwulf and Ecbert are both still alive so Ecbert has not yet succeeded in killing his son off. Perhaps Aethelwulf has succeeded in finding some of his own power in the future. What could any power grabbing for Aethelwulf mean for Ecbert in the future?

ecbert

As we look toward the future of Wessex and Judith, there is one last thought I want to present. This is my own personal thought, a sort of What if Scenario…. In upcoming previews of next season, we see an arrest and rather brutal torture of Floki.  Now, we should all understand how these images are spliced together in such a way to provoke us, to lead us to often wrong conclusions and keep us guessing or assuming as to what takes place. What we can be positive about is that Floki is arrested by Bjorn for the murder of Athelstan, that he is chained for a time in the village and rebuked by Ragnar for his disloyalty.

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Floki's punishment begins.

Floki’s punishment begins.

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to Floki, you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

At some point later, we also see Floki’s gruesome torture…

floki suffers an even worse punishment

Of course, we see this all together and make the assumption that this is Ragnar’s direct doing. Many have made the comment and consideration that while this could be a show of Ragnar’s deep bitterness, his increasing thoughts of personal revenge and ultimately a show of his control and force over his subjects. Many have commented that such an act would serve to alienate the villagers and some of his warriors as well, who already have serious doubts and concerns about his  religious beliefs. Many of the villagers would have sided with Floki and would see this act as more of Ragnar’s disloyalty to their Gods. It certainly would not endear him to most of the villagers and all it would set up is an even stronger resentment against him along with more serious thoughts of revolt and replacing him as their King. 

What Ragnar really needs to do upon his return home is salvage his reputation with the more mistrusting subject. This act is not going to accomplish anything but create more doubt, rule by fear alone and villagers or warriors becoming even more disloyal to him and possibly slipping away in the middle of the night to other sides. When one attempts to rule by fear alone, this is a common occurrence. You can not watch every single person 24 hours a day, he should be well aware of this since it was what many of them did under Harald’s and then Horik’s rule. Another thing he needs to do is get back to England. In order to do that he is going to need some help from these villagers. So, other than stringing Floki up himself what might his options be?

He has arrested Floki for his disloyalty in killing Athelstan but to kill him himself is going to make him look really bad. An alternate option would be to use the unknown fate of those massacred villagers to his favor in another devious plot or scheme. He does not have to tell the villagers anything of their fate but he could imply that they would be in grave danger if the fate of Athelstan is discovered. And he could of course imply that rumors travel, there are missionaries in their country and short of killing every single missionary- which would start an even bigger war, word will get back to England. So, what might he do to alleviate such a war and keep their settlers safe? If he were still as truly devious and manipulative as we saw him last, he would propose that they bring Floki to England to appease the English as a sort of peace offering… Now, the villagers would still be upset with the idea but if it were laid out as either Floki or their relative lives, they might grudgingly go along with proposal.  To give Ragnar some credit, though I’m not really sure deserves it… he may not even be planning to actually sacrifice Floki but just put the fear of the Gods into him?  He needs a way into England behind a ruse or scheme in order to find out for sure what actually happened and who ultimately was responsible. Of course he probably knows it was Ecbert, but you can’t just go knock on his Castle door and accuse him outright. No, you need a scheme to get yourself in the door. So, he uses Floki as his scheme, his scapegoat, his peace offering. He pretends to know nothing of the massacre, Ecbert claims innocence of it and would offer up Aethelwulf as his own scapegoat. Ecbert wants to get rid of Aethelwulf anyway, and what better way than to say, trade him for Floki? Because, in reality, who else would want personal revenge or vengeance on Floki besides Ragnar? 

a game of what if2

So, in my personal pondering of a possible outcome or alternate storyline… What if Ragnar brings Floki to Ecbert and this is Ecbert’s  personal revenge rather than Ragnar’s?  What if Aethelwulf in his attempt to save his own life, spills all he knows of Ecbert’s plans and of Kweni’s secret? Could this be the cause of the looks of puzzlement and fear on Ragnar and Kweni?

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

it's not often we see fear on Ragnar's face

it’s not often we see fear on Ragnar’s face

What is the fate of this baby? Who ends up with him and why does he become so important?

Let me present my son Prince Magnus

And why would Aethelwulf ever think of going against his Father… besides possibly trying to save his own life of course. Could he be racked with some inner guilt about the slaughter of those innocent settlers in his ongoing battle between his own wicked ways and that which his God tells him is wrong? We do see a glimpse of Aethelwulf’s thoughts on ruling…

I have feelings of duty I try to do what is right for my kingdom and for god

I have feelings of duty I try to do what is right for my kingdom and for god

Is this a glimpse of a changing and evolving Aethelwulf? Could this be a path of Hirst’s back towards some actual history, such as that path with Alfred? In history, other than a few early skirmishes The Vikings did not pose a major threat during his reign. In 853 he married his daughter Æthelswith to King Burgred of Mercia, and in the same year he joined a Mercian expedition to Wales to restore the traditional Mercian hegemony. In 855 Æthelwulf went on pilgrimage to Rome. In preparation he gave a “decimation”, donating a tenth of his personal property to his subjects; he appointed his eldest surviving son Æthelbald to act as King of Wessex in his absence, and next son Æthelberht to rule Kent and the south-east. He spent a year in Rome, and on his way back he married Judith, the twelve or thirteen year old daughter of the West Frankish King Charles the Bald. When Æthelwulf returned to England, Æthelbald refused to surrender the West Saxon throne, and Æthelwulf agreed to divide the kingdom, taking the east and leaving the west in his son’s hands. On Æthelwulf’s death in 858 he left Wessex to Æthelbald and Kent to Æthelberht, but Æthelbald’s death only two years later led to the re-unification of the kingdom.    In the twentieth century Æthelwulf’s reputation among historians was low, and he was seen as pious and impractical, but historians in the twenty-first century regard him as one of the most successful West Saxon kings, who laid the foundations for the success of his son, Alfred the Great.

If you look at Aethelwulf’s actual history, you might be reminded of an early conversation that might have been deemed unimportant at the time but could serve as some clue to possibilities in the future. Aethelwulf and Rollo once had a limited conversation about friendship. Floki was disgusted by the whole idea and Rollo gave a clue to his deeper thoughts that may also come up in the future as Rollo begins his relationship with the Frankish.

rollo understands the need for friends and alliances in this new world

Aethelwulf and Rollo have a stilted brief conversation about differences but friends or allies. They were both just trying placate each other at the time but I think both of them understood some of the underlying idea and concept.

rollo watches floki leave and tries to figure his friend out

Rollo tries to explain this concept of friends/allies to Floki but Floki dismisses and walks away in disgust

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar's thoughts

Rollo has a conversation with Ragnar and comes to better understand Ragnar’s thoughts on religion, acceptance and the bigger world… this is of course when Ragnar’s thoughts were more rational.

In history, Aethelwulf maintained good relations with other Kingdoms such as Mercia and with Wales. He was on good terms with the Frankish Carolingian dynasty and seems to have based his kingship on their system. “Æthelwulf ran a Carolingian-style family firm of plural realms, held together by his own authority as father-king, and by the consent of distinct élites.”His ealdormen enjoyed a high status, and sometimes attested charters above the king’s son.  His reign is the first for which there is evidence of royal priests, and Malmesbury Abbey regarded him as an important benefactor, who is said to have been the donor of a shrine for the relics of Saint Aldhelm. In ninth-century Mercia and Kent, royal charters were produced by religious houses, each with its own style, but in Wessex there was a single royal diplomatic tradition, probably by a single agency acting for the king. This may have originated in Egbert’s reign, and it becomes clear in the 840s, when Æthelwulf had a Frankish secretary called Felix.  

In 853 a Viking army defeated and killed ealdermen Ealhhere of Kent and Huda of Surrey at Thanet, and in 855 Danish Vikings for the first time stayed over the winter on Sheppey, before carrying on their pillaging of eastern England .  However, during Æthelwulf’s reign Viking attacks were contained and did not present a major threat.

Æthelwulf’s reputation among historians was low in the twentieth century. In 1935 R. H. Hodgkin attributed his pilgrimage to Rome to “the unpractical piety which had led him to desert his kingdom at a time of great danger”, and described his marriage to Judith as “the folly of a man senile before his time”.  To Frank Stenton in the 1960s he was “a religious and unambitious man, for whom engagement in war and politics was an unwelcome consequence of rank”.   One dissenter was Finberg, who in 1964 described him as “a king whose valour in war and princely munificence recalled the figures of the heroic age”, but in 1979 Michael Enright said: “More than anything else he appears to have been an impractical religious enthusiast.” Early medieval writers, especially Asser, emphasise his religiosity, and his preference for consensus seen in the concessions made to avert a civil war on his return from Rome.   In Joanna Story’s view “his legacy has been clouded by accusations of excessive piety which (to modern sensibilities at least) has seemed at odds with the demands of early medieval kingship”.

In the twenty-first century he is seen very differently by historians. Æthelwulf is not listed in the index of Peter Hunter Blair‘s An Introduction to Anglo-Saxon England, first published in 1956, but in a new introduction to the 2003 edition Keynes listed him among people “who have not always been accorded the attention they might be thought to deserve … for it was he, more than any other, who secured the political fortune of his people in the ninth century, and who opened up channels of communication which led through Frankish realms and across the Alps to Rome”.  According to Joanna Story: “Æthelwulf acquired and cultivated a reputation both in Francia and Rome which is unparalleled in the sources since the height of Offa’s and Coenwulf’s power at the turn of the ninth century”.

Nelson describes him as “one of the great underrated among Anglo-Saxons”, and complains that she was only allowed 2,500 words for him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, compared with 15,000 for Edward II and 35,000 for Elizabeth I.  She says:

Æthelwulf’s reign has been relatively under-appreciated in modern scholarship. Yet he laid the foundations for Alfred’s success. To the perennial problems of husbanding the kingdom’s resources, containing conflicts within the royal family, and managing relations with neighbouring kingdoms, Æthelwulf found new as well as traditional answers. He consolidated old Wessex, and extended his reach over what is now Devon and Cornwall. He ruled Kent, working with the grain of its political community. He borrowed ideological props from Mercians and Franks alike, and went to Rome, not to die there, like his predecessor Ine, … but to return, as Charlemagne had, with enhanced prestige. Æthelwulf coped more effectively with Scandinavian attacks than did most contemporary rulers.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86thelwulf

In light of these more recent and contemporary views on Aethelwulf’s life and his guidance of  Alfred toward the throne despite the claims of older brothers and even his nephews by brother Athelred, it will be interesting to see how Hirst approaches the future of Aethelwulf, Ecbert and Judith. He makes much mention of his versions of history going in round about ways to connect in some way to actual history. And, as I’ve mentioned already, if you watch closely, you can see glimpses of change and evolution in Aethelwulf and Judith’s relationship. There is one fact that does come close to Hirst’s storyline regarding Judith’s future with Aethelwulf and any children she might potentially bear him.

Although in history, Judith was his second wife and bore him no children, there is some hint of something special regarding her and her relationship to him? Most wives at that time were not anointed Queens, they were just the King’s wife. Judith was however recognized as an anointed Queen.  Part of this was due to her status as Carolingian Princess, but what ever the reason, Hirst’s manipulation of history or the actual accounting of it, it made Judith’s status special.  The anointing of Judith as “a charismatic sanctification which enhanced her status, blessed her womb and conferred additional throne-worthiness on her male offspring.”   Æthelwulf insisted that Judith should sit beside him on the throne until the end of his life, and according to Asser this was “without any disagreement or dissatisfaction on the part of his nobles”. 

The rest of Judith’s real Carolingian status relates to Gisla as well. Gisla was a daughter, a princess of that Carolingian dynasty. Carolingian princesses rarely married and were usually sent to nunneries, and it was almost unknown for them to marry foreigners so Gisla should consider herself lucky for her marriage to Rollo considering her other options of Odo or a nunnery! So, Wipe that pout off from your face, dry your Damnable tears and Thank your God for your one chance at a possible happy marriage! Quit complaining, you could be Judith’s shoes…. or even Torvi’s with a wretched wife abusing little weasel named Erlandeur!  There are other women out there in far worse circumstances than you!

a tearful gisla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comicon Vikings update!

Ahhhh my travelers managed to survive yesterday’s battles despite some unfortunate and painful defeats. They started the day with such high hopes of success too, only to be met with frustrating losses towards the end of their day. Fortunately, whilst I was holding down the home fort, I was able to achieve some amount of victory by scouting the twitter feeds for much desperately craved information about our Vikings! Let me note here, that was a most daunting and exhausting challenge in itself and by the end I felt as though I had been in the midst of the battle myself! I will get to those results soon. First let me share my warriors’ experiences because they truly did try and I must give them credit, thanks and appreciation for all of their efforts!

As I said, they began the day with high hopes of great success… Their first victory came in being able to get into the Big Bang panel discussion.  I have mentioned, have I not, that my warriors are self admitted Trekkies, science and history geeks and proud to call themselves dorks, nerds, geeks or what ever other label you might pin on them. Their obsessions and passions include a wide range of genres besides just Vikings or Outlander. So because of that, they are in their highest glory and excitement at being at a place filled with so many of their idols and their peoples!

big bang theory big bang theory2 big bang theory3

After their success with Big Bang, they attended a panel preview of new  Fox show, Lucifer. Lucifer is an upcoming American television series that is set to air on Fox,  and it is a loose adaptation of the comic book character created by Neil Gaiman for the comic book series The Sandman and its spin off comic book series Lucifer written by Mike Carey, both published by DC ComicsVertigo imprint. The series was officially picked up on May 9, 2015 for the 2015–16 season and it is scheduled to premiere in 2016. 

The series will focus on Lucifer, “who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell and resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the beauty of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals.”

Cast and characters

  • Tom Ellis as Lucifer Morningstar: The Lord of Hell who is bored of his life, abdicates and becomes consultant at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). running his own nightclub called Lux along the way.
  • Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze: Lover, confidante and a devoted ally of Lucifer Morningstar. She is the war leader of the Lilin, a race descended from Lilith.  Lina Esco was originally cast for the role.
  • Lauren German as Chloe Dance: A homicide detective who aids Lucifer as he helps the LAPD solve crimes. The character description describes her as someone who is “repulsed and fascinated” by Lucifer as they work together to solve a murder.
  • Kevin Alejandro  as Dan: A LAPD homicide detective who is not a fan of Lucifer mainly because of the hellraiser’s connection to his wife and daughter. Nicholas Gonzalez was cast as Dan and shot the pilot episode.
  • Rachael Harris as Linda: Lucifer’s therapist
  • D. B. Woodside as Amenadiel: An angel that heads to Los Angeles planning to convince Lucifer to go back to Hell.
  • comicon15 comicon16 comicon17

Sadly my warriors encountered their defeat in the afternoon… They made an attempt to storm the gates of the Vikings Panel but were thwarted in their efforts by the massive crowds and others also waiting in line.  I do not hold ill wishes against them for this failure, they tried their hardest and felt much pain at the resounding loss. Not wanting to call the afternoon a total loss, they headed to their next destination, a panel discussion for Cosmos. They arrived there only to find that the much anticipated event had been cancelled! This completely devastated them and they chose to retreat themselves to the beach for the evening to lick their wounds and regroup for another day of battle.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent most of the afternoon yesterday deep in the trenches of twitter battle to retrieve Vikings information and news, so all was not a total waste on the Vikings front. I will try now to provide you with some photo recaps of the Vikings experiences as well as the latest rumors regarding the upcoming season.

First, before anything else because I know that you all want to see it if you haven’t yet… and believe me, you do want to see it- and see it again and again! Here is the official trailer!

Now, like so many others, my first reaction was, “Ohhh My Gods, WTF!” Ok, it still is that reaction, but after having had some time to calm down a bit, I reminded myself of a few important things. These promo trailers are made up of so many different clips spliced together in such way as to cause the most shock value, panic and drama. They are often put together out of context or sequence and lead you make assumptions on what will take place. Keeping that in mind, we should not draw too many concrete conclusions on the events as they occur in the promo trailer. What we do get for sure from this series of clips is that Yes, Ragnar has survived and looks much healthier but no less happy.  Yes, Floki seems to be paying dearly for his involvement in Athelstan’s death, and it appears that Bjorn takes some hand in his arrest. Aslaug does seek out the Seer to find out whether she might gain some power and status… and Ragnar does not seem too happy with her. Speaking of unhappy, Gisla appears none too happy about her wedding to Rollo- but then he doesn’t look all that happy about either? It appears that we do get to see this Royal Wedding- which is a plus for so many of us waiting for this event! We also get to see some not so wedded bliss afterwards… unless of course you think having your wife attempt to slit your throat is an indication of wedding bliss?

Looks like we get a wedding A wtf moment for rollo

Rollo’s supposed betrayal of his own people is mentioned but we really have no reason behind it or that battle as yet, so I think it’s unfair to jump to immediate conclusions. I will say that Rollo had to make some difficult choices on his road to power and those choices often involve decisions that might not sit well with others. I remain on Rollo’s side!

I will provide a more in depth look at the trailer after I get through the rest of this Comicon weekend! The panel discussion and various interviews confirmed the added episodes for next season with much of the reason being due to the increased interest in the show and the massive following it has developed. So many fans have voiced their desire to see more episodes that the powers above have listened! Other news that has fans curious is that of a new relationship for Ragnar.  Michael Hirst commented that he did much historical research to assure that this relationship would have been plausible during that time period… all he would confirm or verify is that it is a human, not a bear as Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn) suggests, or a goat as some of us might think. I will share now that recently I came across a video audition clip of some unknown actress reading for the part of Yidu. (Try as I might, I have not been able to track it down again) Anyway, during this reading, the character of Yidu tells a little of her past, her voyage and then must decide whether to accept a proposition to become part of the King Ragnar’s household and accept bedding with him. A second portion of the reading involved a conversation between Ragnar and Yidu where he asks her about her past, asks her to share her secret and offers to share his secret with her.

There was some discussion about the previous Bear clip, and about Bjorn? Alexander Ludwig commented that the Bear’s resume is probably more famous than anyone in the cast since the Bear is the same one of Anchorman fame. He also added some explanation for his run in with the bear- after finding that Porunn has left, Bjorn sets of his own solitary quest to put his life in some better perspective. During that quest, he encounters the Bear, his own immortality and it plays a role in his decisions about his future.

The panel discussion is not yet available to watch, but rest assured that when it becomes available, I will share it here as quickly as possible! From the twitter feeds, it was awesome and our Clive Standen was a huge hit when he tossed T-shirts out to the audience!

clive throwing t-shirts

Clive also consulted the Seer for answers… and took a great selfie with all of the fans! Three cheers, Hands up, and voices raised in appreciation of our Clive!

clive and his seer clive takes a selfie with the crowd

Here are some additional pictures of yesterday’s Vikings Fest and the cast out and about with the fans!

travis 2 travis and a lucky fan travis at party event this morning viking cast hanging out a longboat viking cast4 viking longboat bus at comicon viking longboat2 vikings cast3 vikings panel

 

Now back to my own fearless warriors and what’s on their agenda for their last day at Comicon.  As I said, they made retreat last night, took some time to regroup, refocus and approach today with a new battle plan… They awoke with renewed optimism- a new day, a new plan! They were determined to succeed this time…

ryan captain hammer will save us ryan's c-section pass for day 3

Even the youngest one amongst them was determined… I am told that she have been exposed to a bit too much of Spiderman? She came down the stairs this morning with one simple greeting to her fellow travelers, “I’m back!”  Yes, her Mother is attired in R2D2 apparel… I did say this is a group of true and highly proud Geeks!

Erin and evie ready for day 3

Their revised battle plan has paid off… They were successful in gaining entry to the grand ballroom where they will remain for the day and attend all of the events offered there including Once upon a Time, Grimm, a Seth Macfarlane panel on animation, and the final crowning glory of OUTLANDER!!!

This is from their first event… Once upon a Time.

comicon day 3 Once upon a time

Most recent update… sitting in on Norman Reedus discussion

sitting in on Norman Reedus discussion

Ok, I am off for now to attend to other priorities… I shall return later this evening with an update on the rest of the day at Comicon and hopefully news and pics of Outlander!

 

 

 

 

 

I am King! Really, why and how?

I am King

All of the above men are or were Kings in our Vikings saga, the exception being young Erlandeur…his chance at King being thwarted by Ragnar Lothbrok! I have included Harald Finehair in the portrait as he will be arriving next season as King of Norway.  What I hope to do with this series of articles is shed some light on the hows, the whys of Kingship, and give some brief historical insight on each of these men and their claim to Kingship.  I will also look at a recent discovery of a Leadership gene, right to rule and divine destiny and how these concepts relate to these men becoming King. *Note* This is part one of a series that will look at each of these Kings and their claims or right to rule!

First, before anything else, we need to explore the concept of King, or monarchy in general.

A monarchy is a form of government in which sovereignty is  one or several individual(s) reigning until death or abdication. They are called the monarchs.  Forms of monarchy differ widely based on the method of selection of the monarch, and any predetermined limits on the length of their tenure. When the monarch has no or few legal restraints in state and political matters, it is called an absolute monarchy. Cases in which the monarch’s discretion is formally limited (most common today) are called constitutional monarchies. In hereditary monarchies, the office is passed through inheritance within a family group, whereas elective monarchies use some system of voting. Each of these has variations: in some elected monarchies only those of certain pedigrees are eligible, whereas many hereditary monarchies impose requirements regarding the religion, age, gender, mental capacity, and other factors. Occasionally this might create a situation of rival claimants whose legitimacy is subject to effective election.

Tribal kingship is often connected to sacred functions, so that the king acts as a priest, or is considered of Divine ancestry. The sacred function of kingship was transformed into the notion of “Divine right of kings” in the Christian Middle Ages.  In Germanic antiquity, kingship was primarily a sacral function, and the king was elected from among eligible members of royal families by the thing.

Monarchies are associated with  hereditary rule, in which monarchs rule for life and pass the responsibilities and power of the position to their child or another member of their family when they die. Most monarchs, both historically and in the modern day, have been born and brought up within a royal family, the center of the royal household and court. Growing up in a royal family,  future monarchs are often trained for the responsibilities of expected future rule.

 Different systems of succession have been used, such as proximity of blood, primogeniture, and agnatic seniority (Salic law). While most monarchs have been male, many female monarchs also have reigned in history; the term queen regnant refers to a ruling monarch, while a queen consort refers to the wife of a reigning king. The principal advantage of hereditary monarchy is the immediate continuity of leadership (as seen in the classic phrase “The King is dead. Long live the King!“).

 

Monarchy, especially absolute monarchy, sometimes is linked to religious aspects; many monarchs once claimed the right to rule by the will of a deity (Divine Right of Kings, Mandate of Heaven), a special connection to a deity (sacred king). Many European monarchs have been styled Fidei defensor (Defender of the Faith); some hold official positions relating to the state religion or established church.

  In a hereditary monarchy, the position of monarch is inherited according to a statutory or customary order of succession, usually within one royal family tracing its origin through a historical dynasty or bloodline. This usually means that the heir to the throne is known well in advance of becoming monarch to ensure a smooth succession.

Primogeniture, in which the eldest child of the monarch is first in line to become monarch, is the most common system in hereditary monarchy. The order of succession is usually affected by rules on gender. Historically “agnatic primogeniture” or “patrilineal primogeniture” was favoured, that is inheritance according to seniority of birth among the sons of a monarch or head of family, with sons and their male issue inheriting before brothers and their issue, and male-line males inheriting before females of the male line. 

Before primogeniture was enshrined in European law and tradition, kings would often secure the succession by having their successor (usually their eldest son) crowned during their own lifetime, so for a time there would be two kings in coregency – a senior king and a junior king. Examples include Henry the Young King of England and the early Direct Capetians in France. In Saxon history, King Ecbert did similar with his son Aethelwulf. We will delve into that later.

aethelwulf and ecbert

 Sometimes, however, primogeniture can operate through the female line. In some systems a female may rule as monarch only when the male line dating back to a common ancestor is exhausted.  This is how Kwentirith has managed to achieve her current rule of Mercia…

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

In the case of the absence of children, the next most senior member of the collateral line (for example, a younger sibling of the previous monarch) becomes monarch. In complex cases, this can mean that there are closer blood relatives to the deceased monarch than the next in line according to primogeniture. This has often led, especially in Europe in the Middle Ages, to conflict between the principle of primogeniture and the principle of proximity of blood.

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

For our purposes in this discussion, we are going to deal mainly with the Hereditary Monarchy, because for the most part all of the Kings in our saga have achieved their crown via that sucession. Even Ragnar Lodbrok as we will see in tracing his limited history, probably did have a sort of blood link to the crown of Denmark. The only one that there is some doubt or question of will be King Aelle of Northumbria. We just do not know enough about him to make any detailed or accurate assumption as to his right or claim to that Kingdom.

Before looking at each man’s history and personal claim to Kingship, we should also look at some other more general theories and concepts regarding Kingship and it’s history. This will help to better understand each particular man’s role in this career choice…

Right to Rule and Divine right of Kings

The divine right of kings or divine right  asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving the right to rule directly from the will of God. The king is thus not subject to the will of his people, the aristocracy, or any other estate of the realm, including the Church. According to this doctrine, only God can judge an unjust king. The doctrine implies that any attempt to depose the king or to restrict his powers runs contrary to the will of God and may constitute a sacrilegious act. It is often expressed in the phrase “by the Grace of God,” attached to the titles of a reigning monarch.

While this concept would seem on the surface only to apply to European Kings of later centuries, the basis for the principle goes much further back and ties into the idea or concept that Kings were descended from God, or Gods… That they had a direct connection to that higher power and therefore had a right or claim to rule because of that connection. Denmark had a history for following this principle of right to rule dating as far back as to a point when it was inhabited by the Angles, who then eventually migrated to Britain and brought the concept with them.

The Dacians settled in a region that includes modern Denmark and the northwest region of Germany.  The Dacians named this region Dacia, in honor of their homeland.  In Dacia, the Dacians displaced the native peoples.  Undoubtedly, some level of integration happened between the Thracians, Dacians, and native populations.  Dr. David Faux offers a compelling argument that while the Dacians clearly displaced the Celtic Cimbrians, the Angles are likely to have partially integrated with them.

Right to Rule

Claimants to power in Angle were from a ruling family, with preference given to the eldest male most closely related to the prior ruler.  This tradition reduced the likelihood of conflict during times of transition and served to concentrate wealth and power.  This tradition continued in Russia, Scotland, Flanders, Normandy, post-conquest England and other regions controlled by the Angles, likewise serving to enable the formation of powerful governments and military capabilities.  Conflicts were reduced to situations where the lack of an immediate male heir led to contested claims by paternal cousins.

The origin of this behavior is perhaps based on the very ancient notion that the royal family descends from the gods.  Perhaps this concept was borrowed by the Dacians and Thracians from the Romans.  The family of Julias Caesar (gens Julia), for example, claimed to descend by Venus through Aeneas.  The original royal family of Norway were said to be descended from Odin.  Frey was the main god of kingship among the Swedes and the royal family (the Ynglings) were believed to have descended from him.

http://romanianhistoryandculture.webs.com/daciansindenmark.htm

The remote origins of the theory are rooted in the medieval idea that God had bestowed earthly power on the king, just as God had given spiritual power and authority to the church, centering on the pope. The immediate author of the theory was Jean Bodin,  who based it on the interpretation of Roman law.  This principle and theory would and did directly apply to King Charles and King Ecbert- who used the church to back his claim to power. King Aelle who deemed himself a Christian would have used such theory to some extent to validate his Kingship, though I think he achieved his crown by might and then would have tried to justify it in some way.  As to the Scandinavian Kings, we would assume that this principle would not have applied… but, when we look closer at their histories, we will see that while they may not have used the Christ God to justify their claims, they did claim connections to their own Gods to back up their rule once they established it.  For the Danes, they were long linked to the Frankish Empire and even back to Roman cultures so those ancient concepts would have made way into their own culture even if they did not ascribe to Christianity per say. As far back as the Romans were using links to the Gods to justify their claims to rule. Julius Caesar claimed connection to Venus.

The theory went back to those earliest Christians who advocated allegiance to Caesar even though he was a Pagan ruler.

  1. The New Testament, in which the first pope, St. Peter, commands that all Christians shall honour the Roman Emperor (1 Peter 2:13–17), even though, at that time, he was still a pagan emperor. Likewise, Jesus Christ proclaims in the Gospel of Matthew that one should “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s”; that is at first, literally, the payment of taxes as binding those who use the imperial currency (See Matthew 22:15–22). Jesus told Pontius Pilate that his authority as Roman governor of Judaea came from heaven according to John 19:10–11.
  2. The endorsement by the popes and the church of the line of emperors beginning with the Emperors Constantine and Theodosius, later the Eastern Roman emperors, and finally the Western Roman emperor, Charlemagne and his successors, the Catholic Holy Roman Emperors.

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

The basic theory and premise of such divine right goes all the way back to Egypt with the Pharaohs linking themselves to the Gods. The future Christian interpretation of it just set down a different set of rules to follow. This principle and concept ties in well with the practice of hereditary monarchy and succession according to bloodline. Once one has established rule of a Kingdom, it is always wise to have some other means besides just might to back up one’s claim! This principle ensures that your hard fought for Kingdom will remain in the family for future generations and it also gives you an added cushion of authority in the eyes of your subjects who might think twice about rebelling against you if they believe you have some connection to the Gods!  It’s fine to achieve a Kingship and Kingdom by force, but eventually people will tire of fighting on your behalf and you will need some other means to control and lead them into your way of thinking. What better means of control than convincing them that you have supreme right from the Gods above to rule them!

I know, I know, you’re getting bored with all of this and want to get to the more interesting stuff… I just have one last theory to bring up before we get to our Viking era Kings. This theory is a recent development and discovery related to genetics.  Now you’re probably groaning to self- yes, you are, I can hear you! You’re thinking, What the Hell does current genetic research have to do with any of this! Well, please stick with me and let me explain!

In the past few years, there has been a vast amount of research done on genetics, DNA and how it might relate to us in various ways. Some of it has to do with genealogy and the ability now to better trace our ancestry, and of course that would include tracing Royal lineages- should some Royal ever require some need of proof that they are indeed part of Royal bloodline- or for those who just want to be able to say, Hey I am descended from Ragnar, Rollo, or others of historic fame. That in itself is quite interesting and I do plan to participate in that endeavor sometime soon.

If you are so inclined and interested, you can get more information about that research on these sites:

AncestryDNA project at Ancestry.com

http://dna.ancestry.com/

TribeCode DNA Ancestry testing

http://www.tribecode.com/

Although that genetic progress is interesting, it is not what we are most interested in with regards to this discussion. The discovery that pertains more to us is that of a specific gene called the Leadership gene!  A GENE has been uncovered that may help to create born leaders, or possibly trace the pattern in past leaders.

The leadership gene, known as rs4950, is an inherited DNA sequence associated with people taking charge.Scientists accept that leadership skills are also learned. But the gene may provide the vital push needed to make someone into a manager rather than a minion.  Researchers found the gene after analysing DNA samples from around 4000 individuals and matching them to information about jobs and relationships. Workplace supervisory roles were used as a measurement of leadership behavior.  The study showed that a quarter of the observed variation in leadership traits between individuals could be explained by genetics.

Lead scientist Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, from University College London, said: ‘‘We have identified a genotype, called rs4950, which appears to be associated with the passing of leadership ability down through generations.   ‘‘The conventional wisdom – that leadership is a skill – remains largely true, but we show it is also, in part, a genetic trait.’’

Some of the greatest leaders in recent history include Martin Luther King, Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and Sir Winston Churchill.  Leaders do not necessarily have to be heroic or good though. Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin and Genghis Khan were also great leaders in their own way.

The new research suggests at least the possibility that some of these historic figures were blessed with the leadership gene. Despite the importance of the gene, acquiring a leadership position still mostly depends on developing the necessary skills, say the researchers.

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/leadership-is-in-the-gene-say-scientists-20130115-2cs7c.html

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130115111553.htm

Now if I have completely confused you as to the relevance of this genetic discovery to our topic of Kings and their claims of divine right, let me try to put some perspective on it.  The Royal dynasties now and in the past are based on some principle that their bloodline enables or allows them to rule. Granted, their claim is that it comes from God, the Gods, that divine connection or link. They knew nothing about genetics or DNA, they attributed their ability to a higher power. But, given the discovery of this gene, it would be fascinating to find this gene in some of those ancient rulers! Perhaps it was not God who destined or determined their fate or ability, but it may have been something in their bloodline from the beginning that allowed for the earliest of these rulers to be leaders and then pass that predisposition down to their offspring and future rulers! The research does conclude that this gene does not completely determine one’s ability or success but merely predisposes them toward that. It also states that having such gene does not equate to heroics or good, it could also enable a person with worst of intentions or morals to succeed in leading people in their direction.

As a genetic trait, it might be responsible for that certain charisma, charm or bearing that a person  innately presents which would allow for people to follow them- good or bad! It may come across as an overall appearance, a self confidence, an air natural inborn Royalness such as some of our Kings and their offspring display.  It could also be some inborn ability convince or sway people to your side, to your beliefs… some people are natural born salesmen! Ragnar certainly has it.

ragnar2

And, he has passed it down to his son Bjorn who is not King yet, but will be one day.

Can you do that Bjorn can you lead with your head and set your heart aside

If Ragnar is gifted with such a gene then in our saga, his brother Rollo would probably carry the gene as well. Rollo does not achieve Kingship in history nor probably in our version of it, but he comes close in founding his own dynasty of Normandy. And, great Monarchs will descend from his line in history so we could probably assume that Rollo did indeed have this gene!

what will the future hold for rolloPortrait of Rollo's destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art.

Whether we like him or not, Ecbert does have this innate trait, this ability to charm and control…

Vikings-Ecbert-King-of-Wessex-played-by-Linus-Roache1ecbert has been disobeyed

King Horik most likely  had the gene bit it  is one of those cases where he used none of it for good!

horik sends rollo to jarl borg while he stays at kattegathorik and wife Gunhild who was once a great sheild maiden herself

Does King Aelle have it? I would say, possibly but as in Horik’s case, it’s not been a case of any good coming from it? The only reason that I suspect he might possibly carry the gene is for the fact that daughter Judith appears to have it and presents a better side of it! This is of course in our fictional version of the history. Later we will attempt to look at Aelle in the context of actual history and what his claim or justification may have been. As I have mentioned previously, I suspect that he may have come by his rule and his Kingdom more by might than by any true right, but he may have had the gene, which would have enable him to sway people to his line of thinking…

King-Aelle1Aelle and judith

Now for the moment, that leaves us with new comer Harald Finehair of Norway… we know next to nothing about him and can only gauge any thought or assumption on a limited vision of his outward appearance? But, from that appearance, I would say that yes he probably does have this gene.

peter franzen4

I am going to include one other person of interest in this list because while he does not have royal blood as far as we know at this time, he does display this trait and characteristic. That would be Kalf!

Kalf tries to remain unphased and calm through Ragnar's tiradeKalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

And, if one bases the succession of their reign on such bloodline or ability, there may always come a point where a successor has not inherited such gene from his parent. That would leave your dynasty with a weak, ineffective leader such as our Frankish King Charles! In the case of Charles, any of the Charles that he may be representing in our version of history, we also need to take into account one other thing that may have affected their genes. With the principle and practice of hereditary monarchy comes a somewhat disturbing side affect. In order to keep your Royal bloodline continuing, your descendants must marry within a severely limited group of others who would presumably share this royal blood. This practice results in a great deal of inbreeding with close relatives. The early Christian church realized this and did put forth a number of rules regarding who one could marry. This might have been looked at as some sort of extreme Papal control and Bureaucracy but in reality, it was their means of dealing with the affects of  such close inbreeding that led to much hereditary illnesses, instabilities and insanities being passed down through generations or ruling families.

charles I must prove myself better than my brothers and these Northmen have provided just the event

Charles and other members of his Frankish dynasty were thought to be afflicted by various forms of such instability. So, while Charles may or may not have inherited the leadership gene, (my personal thought is that he probably did not!) he most likely did inherit some of the other instabilities of his family.

As long as we’re looking at Charles, let us quickly look at his daughter, Gisla… who may or may not be a real person. In our fictional account, she is quite young but she does seem to have moments where she displays such a leadership gene.

charles leaves but the people still rejoice around the real hero of the day gisla

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

gisla raises the banner and reminds the men of what they fight for

Since we have brought up the realities of inbreeding and instability, there is one other person to look at in relation to the leadership gene and to claims of right to rule. That person would of course be the Princess Kwentirith in our saga, who is said to be a daughter of Offa and who is now Queen of Mercia. Kwentirith is based loosely on some real women of that time period who did have some claim to rule. It was very rare that a woman would be allowed to rule but there were some early instances of it in Saxon history. It would have been due to the early practice of following the blood line and a woman being the last and only direct relative left to take over. That was the case of Kwentirith when her brother so conveniently died.  We will deal with the history of Mercia and their rule later. For now let us just look at Kwentirith in respect to whether she might have the leadership gene and whether she also carries some inherited family instability! At her best, Kwentirith can present a charming and engaging personality and a regal bearing.  She may have the gene which would allow her to put forth an initial image and presence that people would pay some attention to. Unfortunately, she also displays such an irratic and volatile range of instability that people quickly realize her instability! Is this instability inherited or due merely to her childhood environment? My thought is that it is probably a bit of both. She refers to the behaviors of her Father and her uncle, as well as brothers so I would think that some of the insanity is inherited, probably from a long line of inbreeding before the family might have converted and followed rules of the church!

Kwenthrith1

the return of kwentrith

the return of kwentrith

kwentirith enjoys the snack and Rollo thinks to enjoy his own snackKwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

I have given you some basic overall theories and reasons on the hows and whys of Kingship in general, and how they relate to our Royalty in the Vikings saga.  In my next posts, I will deal with each King separately. Because all of these people have some real life historical basis, I will look at them in that historical context rather than the fictional one. Where ever possible, I will attempt to explore the fictional relationship as it might relate to the real one. The only people who do not seem to have any real life basis as yet would be Kalf, and Aelle’s daughter Judith. But, seeing as they are not yet rulers in any way, we will not look into their histories as it relates in this way!  Also, I have already dealt with both of them in previous posts so we will leave it at that for the time being!

You can find my thoughts on Kalf in the previous post about Hedeby:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/13/vikings-lagertha-kalf-and-why-is-hedeby-so-important/

Judith’s story is detailed here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/viking-saga-judiths-story/

Based on the historical fact that Horik’s and Ragnar’s claims are both tied to the Crown and history of Denmark, I will look at them together in relation to that history. In looking at that history, it may also lead us to exploring Aelle’s limited history in Northumbria… mainly because when we look closer at the history of the Danes and the Angles who resided in that country prior to the Danes taking over, we will see the migration of them to places in Britain such as Northumbria, York, and East Anglia. I will also look at where the ruling line went after Ragnar in history because historically he did not rule for very long and his sons did not take his place in succession. Because of that, we will look at who did come afterwards, and what happened to his sons in history. This will include a look at Sweden where Bjorn Ironside eventually become a King.

We will look at Ecbert’s path to his rule and his claim in relation to Saxon history and in relation to the church because they backed his initial claim to his throne. That Church connection will also be a connection to the rule of Charles. We will also see in this history, the claim of one woman who bears some similarity to our Kwentirith.

We will look at Harald Finehair and his connection or claim to the rule of Norway in a separate discussion because while we all tend to look at the Vikings and Scandinavia as one inclusive entity, they were very separate kingdoms much further back than the Viking age! As they all migrated to Britain during various time periods, they located themselves in different localities and did not identify themselves under that one umbrella of “Viking” They did not even particularly like each other and would not have chosen to band together or associate with each other unless it was for such purpose of defeating a common enemy such as the Saxon English!

I hope that you will join me and enjoy the upcoming journey as we explore the rights and claims to Kingship!

Danish right to rule and history: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/horik-and-ragnar-part-of-the-oldest-monarchy-in-europe/

This article includes Horik, Ragnar, as well as Ragnar’s sons Bjorn, Ivar and Sigurd!

Horik and Ragnar their paths to ruling a dynasty

Ecbert’s claim to Wessex:

The beginnings of Egbert's power plots

The beginnings of Egbert’s power plots

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/from-charlamagne-to-egbert-and-wessex/

 

 

Vikings: Where do we go from here?

Ahhh I have spent some time trying to recover from the past months and while I am now finally clean, well fed, warm and dry, I believe  my mind is still suffering from the aftershocks and affects of  that difficult time across the river in our Viking camp when so many lives were lost and other lives were unraveling before one’s very eyes. We all know well now exactly what happened out there when Ragnar Lothbrok decided that so many lives were expendable so that his plan to conquer Paris would be the successful one… When he chose to rule with his emotions and not his head- just the opposite of what he advised his son, Bjorn to do in the future.

Can you do that Bjorn  can you lead with your head and set your heart aside

People can make excuses and try to justify Ragnar’s actions all they want to… many try to excuse him by saying that he is sick and perhaps not thinking so clearly as he otherwise might be, others justify it in that he is King and he has just done what needed doing to ensure that this campaign was successful after all of the failure we endured. Yes, I will admit, he is very sick and could still possibly die from his injuries. He brought his injuries upon himself though,  when he as King, allowed his warriors to attempt a siege led by Floki, knowing full well that it would fail and cause Floki such self shame. Ragnar knew from Athelstan that this city was impregnable, and so must be conquered by some other means. He knew this when he allowed Rollo and Lagertha to make another attempt and fail yet again. And, then after those failures, he chose to rub all of their faces in their defeat and say, Now we will do it my way because I am Ragnar Lothbrok, I am King.  I believe he had this plan in his head from the beginning, that is why he prayed early on to Athelstan and asked him to forgive what he was about to do. 

Well, Ragnar Lothbrok, King… You have achieved your greatness, your fame and your reputation.  You have won your great victory and conquered Paris just the way the Seer prophesied. “Not the Living, but the Dead will conquer Paris” I suppose I should congratulate you on this accomplishment, but all I can think of is the other part of that prophecy. “and it will not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok!”  My thoughts are of how much it has cost you to achieve this feat, and whether it will be worth it for you in your end.  I believe that when it comes your time to meet the Gods, all of the Gods- yes, even the Christ God- you will face some judgement for your actions.   I also believe that you will have to answer to your beloved Athelstan, one whom you used and mistreated just as much as others who have cared about you.  You will pay your price for these events Ragnar Lothbrok, for there is always a price to pay for great reward and favor of the Gods. 

I also see that the bear will be crowned by a princess which does not bode too well for you King Ragnar!

I also see that the bear will be crowned by a princess which does not bode too well for you King Ragnar!

ragnar seeks advice and recieves a criptic answer that does not bode well for his future

ragnar seeks advice and recieves a criptic answer that does not bode well for his future

ragnar crawls out of his coffin ragnar eyes the bishop who told him he would go to hell

ragnar at least I know I will be reunited with Athelstan

Athelstan and the Gods will await your arrival and your judgement based upon your choices, Ragnar Lothbrok… Perhaps you have finally fallen out of favor with them all? What you have forgotten is that while yes, we all are free to make choice, there are always consequences to those choices- even for one once so favored as you, Ragnar.

Athelstan appears

Gods wait not for batte but for choice

But, I think you are perhaps beginning to realize this…

ragnar watches rollo from the boat

There is an old saying that the wheel of fate turns for all of us. Sometimes we are up and other times we are at the bottom… I believe that your turn at the top is now finished, Ragnar and you must ride the wheel on the downward turn. Perhaps the Norns, the spinners of fate will catch you before you fall, perhaps not? You have made the choices that brought you to this point.  Personally, I began to doubt  you when you dallied with Princess Kwentirith beyond what was called for as allies and presumed to chide Lagertha for her dalliance with Ecbert.

up with the skirts   no it's not what you think1 A loss for words  what do you say after you've let someone piss on you1

Yes as did you Ragnar so shut your face2

I lost my faith and trust in you when I found out about how you killed that innocent survivor of the massacre in Wessex so that no one else would know of that event and blame you, judge you, or spoil your plans for Paris. You were willing to do this and yet you hold blame against Floki for killing Athelstan- whom he deemed a serious threat to you, your people and your beliefs. In reality, Ragnar, you bear responsibility in the death of your friend Athelstan as well as Floki.  Yes, Floki killed him but if you had not been so insistent on having your way and winning in the competition for friendship over Ecbert, Athelstan would have remained in Wessex and I do believe he would have been safer there under Ecbert’s protection! You placed him in the middle of danger when you knew how your people felt about him and about Christians.  And, now one day, ironically, your sons will fight to the death against Athelstan’s son Alfred and some of them will lose their lives in that battle! Ecbert tried to tell Athelstan his future lie in Wessex, but he was too swayed by your begging of him to stay with you. Had you such true regard and concern for him as you profess, you would have set aside your desires and advised him to remain in Wessex. Now, do you feel some guilt in his death or do you just blame Floki for all of it.

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan's decision

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan’s decision

ragnar kills the survivor and sends him to his family and the gods.

ragnar kills the survivor and sends him to his family and the gods.

ragnar comes to the rescue

ragnar to floki  You killed Athelstan

In a sense, you used Athelstan just you have used and taken for granted all of the others who have cared for you. You have assumed that they will forgive you, that they will remain faithful and loyal to you no matter what… You used them, set them aside, caused them to doubt themselves, and when it was convenient or needful, you take them back and “forgive” them for whatever grievances they have supposedly done against you.  If you feel they can be of some use to you in the future, you lead them along, allow them to feel worthy of your “forgiving spirit”.  From Lagertha, who loved you, still loves you yet… who’s only fault was that she could not bear you another son, to Rollo your brother who you have taken for granted and treated as less than you until he finally believed it himself.  Aslaug, you used to give you more sons and then disregard, and we know how you have treated floki- your oldest and loyal friend. Even  traitors whom you should have killed outright, you have held on to for some questionable useful purpose that lies only within your mind and no one else’s…yes, Erlandeur, who you should have put to death along with his Father, you have allowed him to live and to become a part of your group… why is that? Why did you not just put him out of his miserable existence when you should have and been done with it!

ragnar to erlandeur I had no choice as a result of other people's actions

ragnar to erlandeur I had no choice as a result of other people’s actions

All of your choices and your using of these people who called you friend, family, ruler, came to a head in this recent deception of yours. The only two people that you seemed not to have showed your anger,your distrust, and your resentment of were your son, Bjorn and one other person? I watched this person with some interest and now wonder why it is that you did not lash out at him, and why he remained so calm throughout this all? This is one person that I would have assumed that you would find some fault with just for the fact you hold grudges and resentments as well as some jealousy over who your ex-wife, Lagertha chooses to dally with… even though as she has reminded you, you really have no right to pass judgement on her considering your own past behaviors with Aslaug. I find it odd that while you seem to know everything that goes on behind your back and obviously have spies everywhere, you have chosen not to question Kalf or hint at any suspect of his secret doings with Erlandeur, nor have you given any show of disapproval on him desiring your ex-wife. No, you save that show of displeasure just for Lagertha as if it is only her fault… You openly welcomed Kalf into the group because you were in need of his ships and his men, so do you go so far as to throw Lagertha into the deal just in order to receive what you want from Kalf? What else is going on perhaps, between you and Kalf that you are keeping a secret… another game of treachery and deception such as was played with Erlandeur’s Father, King Horick? Is there something else that you want or need from Kalf besides his ships and his men?  I only ask because at this point, I have become as distrustful as you, Ragnar Lothbrok!

Despite my knowledge of Kalf’s previous plan for deceit and revenge upon you and your entire family, I can not seem to help myself from liking the man. Since embarking on this raid with us, he has shown himself to be a fine, courageous warrior and has remained calm in the face of everything that has happened. When you were raging at everyone, he stayed steady and unfazed by your tirade. His points made during the discussions have had merit and he has really said nothing against you, but only brought up facts that all would agree upon. Your baptism struck a nerve with all of your people and he is right that they would never follow a Christian King at this point in time. It was Erlandeur who responded with the suggestion that someone needs to kill you. Kalf was only stating the easiest and most convenient way of you no longer being ruler… no bloodshed or death, they would just choose another King, that would make things easier for everyone.

Kalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

Kalf is realistic in his appraisal of the situation  They have probably run out of food

Kalf is realistic in his appraisal of the situation They have probably run out of food

Kalf tries to remain unphased and calm through Ragnar's tirade

Kalf tries to remain unphased and calm through Ragnar’s tirade

 

Kalf: no christian king will ever rule our world  it's unthinkable it goes against all of our gods

Kalf: no christian king will ever rule our world it’s unthinkable it goes against all of our gods

 

Later after your method of attack was successful and the warriors all walked past you on their way into the city, there were telling looks from them and from you as to their feelings and yours about your deceptive plan. They were much as would be expected, except when it came to Kalf.

ragnar and rollo floki and ragnar

The most painful look came from Lagertha, and from Bjorn, who is once more caught in the middle of your differences. I believe this is a final betrayal and act of mistrust on your part, Ragnar for her. Even though she still loves you, I do not think she will be able to forgive this act from you.

lagertha and bjorn

The look from Kalf was not of surprise or shock, nor was it of betrayal on your part. It seemed to be one more almost of acceptance or some possible prior knowledge? It was as though he expected you to have pulled off something of this sort… and there was no look of revenge or anything else in your eyes either?

kalf entering the city kalf does not look all that surprised at this turn of events ragnar and kalf

Later when the group met to discuss your deception and decide what to do, Kalf also remained calm. I could be very wrong but it felt like Kalf knew something of this plan when Lagertha was yelling at Bjorn about having kept this secret. It could of course, also have been his concern for Lagertha’s feelings and her future reactions to this event that caused his look because as I have said before, I believe he truly cares about Lagertha. He would understand how all of this will hurt her.

kalf's look when lagertha is yelling at bjorn about having kept this secret

kalf’s look when lagertha is yelling at bjorn about having kept this secret

kalf remains silent and somewhat calm throughout this discussion

kalf remains silent and somewhat calm throughout this discussion

as bjorn speaks of leaving a presence in paris kalf turns to look back at erlandeur and at rollo

as bjorn speaks of leaving a presence in paris kalf turns to look back at erlandeur and at rollo

What ever personal agenda or plan that Kalf and Ragnar may be holding together must wait to be seen.  My only hope right now is that it does not hurt Lagertha… because you, Ragnar have done more than enough to hurt her.  She needs no more pain from you! One thing I find telling is that I think you know how this will affect her. When she passed you going into the city, you could not look at her. Surely you know, you understand that this was the ultimate betrayal in her mind. If you held any thought of maintaining some level of relationship with her, I fear this final act has cost you that possibility. That you did not trust her with this secret, then you allowed her to pour out her  deepest emotions for you while thinking you had died… No, I do not think she will forget or forgive this action on your part. My one other fear is that if Kalf  was somehow a party to any of this and kept it from her, he will not be forgiven either. I hope too that she does not hold resentment towards Bjorn for having only done what you requested, demanded of him- not as Father, but as King.

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn's announcement

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn’s announcement

and yet I think the wind of odin will rescue you carry you to vallhalla where we will rejoice we will drink and be merry and love again

and yet I think the wind of odin will rescue you carry you to vallhalla where we will rejoice we will drink and be merry and love again

there we shall meet again to fight and drink and love one another once more

there we shall meet again to fight and drink and love one another once more

 

a grim look from lagertha does not bode well for her feelings about this

a grim look from lagertha does not bode well for her feelings about this

back at camp people are pissed  Lagertha puts it bluntly why did you not tell us earlier did you not trust any of us

back at camp people are pissed Lagertha puts it bluntly why did you not tell us earlier did you not trust any of us

bjorn's response to all of them  I did what my father asked the way he wanted me to do it

bjorn’s response to all of them I did what my father asked the way he wanted me to do it

 

Bjorn's comment to all of them: He is still King.

Bjorn’s comment to all of them: He is still King.

Bjorn is not to fault in any of this. He has simply did what he was told by his King, whether he agreed with it or not, because as he put it, Ragnar is still King. Bjorn is a good man, fair and honorable… I wonder how much tension or strain this act will put on him. Did you think of that, Ragnar? No, I am sure you did not because your thoughts have been for yourself, your fame, your reputation, your own personal desires. You admitted to Ecbert that you were corrupt, I just did not realize how corrupt you had become until these recent events.

our people are over joyed with the treasure

Your cunning and clever ruse to capture the city worked just as you planned… but, you could have save untold grief, and lives had you chosen to trust us and lead us in this plan to begin with rather than use all of us, prove to all of us how incompetent we were and how much greater you are. And, you did this last act purely to prove to us that you are smarter, better, greater than the rest of us. To prove that you could indeed conquer the city, and what has it gained you? Has it gained you our respect, our continued loyalty to you, our continued trust in you? No, it has not… if anything, you have created an even wider and deeper wedge between yourself and your people with this action. Are we so grateful for the added wealth you have brought us that we will overlook our misgivings and our distrust of you? On the surface, momentarily, the great wealth will only appease us for a short time. After that, our thoughts will turn to how many loved ones we lost in this raid… our thoughts will also turn to the lingering underlying doubts of your true sincerity and belief in the Gods and the old ways. That baptism and your placing Athelstan above your family and your people will always hover in the thoughts of all those who were here to witness all of this.

In his way, floki has been right in his words that you have betrayed him, betrayed your family, your people- those you are supposed to lead with a clear head, and you have betrayed the Gods as well as your friend Athelstan.  When Lagertha, Rollo and Floki put forth their truest feelings of you and then saw you alive, they knew that you will one day use those words against them just as you did turn on them with your angry tirade earlier.

That is exactly what you have already done with Floki. In your bitter resentment and anger at him for killing Athelstan, you set him up, used him as a scapegoat and now will not rest until you have seen him completely shamed and punished. Well, I have news for you Ragnar, it not your decision, your choice or your right to punish Floki for his actions. You think that you can usurp the power and the judgement of the Gods in such matters. It is up to the Gods to choose Floki’s fate or punishment for any wrongdoing on his part- it is not for you to decide on your own. Does that remind you of anything?

floki expresses his own pain at the news floki's confession or non admittance of guilt but it made no difference you thought oh it's just floki No need to bother about floki  he's just a fool floki volunteers to stay... why because he does not want to get on a boat for a long trip home with ragnar floki has a hard time believing what he is seeing ragnar's knowing look at floki  just wait floki until I am recovered from this ragnar  floki come here

You would do well to remember what you so bluntly told that Bishop when he vowed you would not see Athelstan because you would be in Hell…”That is not your decision to make!” Of course then you took care of that with yet another personal revenge killing. You could have just taken your hostages and left, but no, you had to extract that bit of personal grudge and revenge in killing the man in the middle of all the citizens of Paris… So, much for your thinking with your head and not your heart and your emotions. There was really no need for that killing and in doing it you just showed the Christians of Paris what vicious and cruel barbarians we could be. If it was your intent to completely destroy any positive thoughts they might have about us as a people, you certainly succeeded with that act! Thank you so much Ragnar Lothbrok for reinforcing their fears and hatred of us. In one move, you managed to destroy any of the teachings and lessons that your valued friend Athelstan had tried so hard to help you understand. In your rage against the man who told you that you would not meet Athelstan again, you basically slaughtered him in cold blood- probably thereby ensuring that if and when you meet Athelstan again, there will be a consequence, a high price to pay for that deliberate, unnecessary killing.

ragnar to the bishop that is not your decision to make ragnar eyes the bishop who told him he would go to hell

I am not sure what you expected of Rollo.. did you think he would react differently to the news of your supposed death than he did? Did you for some reason think that he would be remorseful and guilt filled in his last words to you? Did you assume that he would grieve and mourn your loss, and beg you final forgiveness of him for any wrongs he might have committed against you in the past? I think that you were not all that surprised with his reaction to your “death” unless of course, you viewed him as you view Floki, you assumed that he had learned his lesson and would be forever in your shadow, remaining loyal to you after his previous attempts to break away and out of your shadow. Did you think that you had managed to quell his deep resentments and your hold over him would remain even after your death? Well, if you believed that, then you were probably taken back at his reaction and his words to you. Rollo made no apologies, he was honest and forthright in his last thoughts towards you, whether you wanted to hear them or not… and when he saw you alive, he still held no guilt or apology in his look towards you. His look was more of disgust and resignation at your latest act!

Rollo speaks of how the Gods protected him from the christian magic but won't protect Ragnar because of Athelstan.

Rollo speaks of how the Gods protected him from the christian magic but won’t protect Ragnar because of Athelstan.

floki talks to Rollo of Ragnar's betrayal and how it is Athelstan's fault

floki talks to Rollo of Ragnar’s betrayal and how it is Athelstan’s fault

rollo is saddened at the news

rollo is saddened at the news

rollo's last honest words  I've always resented you  the gods have always seemed to favor you

rollo’s last honest words I’ve always resented you the gods have always seemed to favor you

it's just funny that the gods took you first I always thought they favored you but I guess we both were mistaken.

it’s just funny that the gods took you first I always thought they favored you but I guess we both were mistaken.

I am sorry you're dead but we all must die eventually

I am sorry you’re dead but we all must die eventually

rollo is not especially happy to see his brother alive

 

ragnar's look at rollo just you wait too brother we shall have words about this later

ragnar’s look at rollo just you wait too brother we shall have words about this later

After the siege when the discussion came of what to do next, you were still too ill to make any decisions so it was left up to Bjorn to lead, with his head and not his heart. When the talk turned of needing a group to remain as they would return in the spring to raid once more, I am sure that Floki volunteered because he did not want to endure a lengthy boat ride with you, Ragnar… could anyone blame him for that?  But, Rollo stepped in and volunteered instead. At first, Bjorn questioned why Rollo should have any reason either for staying, but he let the subject drop and agreed with Rollo’s decision. Bjorn made that decision in what he thought were the best interests of the group. Should you want to hold it against him later, and I am sure it will come up… please let me remind you right now ahead of time, there was no malice or misintent in that decision. Bjorn was doing what he thought was right at the time. Realistically, there was no one else he could trust to carry this out. He did not know Kalf well enough to trust him with such endeavor and there was the matter of Kalf’s strange friendship with Erlandeur- that alone was enough cause for some lack of trust!  He knew that Floki was not capable of such a mission, and at this point he probably lacked some trust that even Lagertha would carry it through and not do something out of spite in her anger right now towards Ragnar.  Besides that fact, it must be someone who the French would take seriously as threat and respect in some way. Rollo fit that requirement.

floki volunteers to stay... why because he does not want to get on a boat for a long trip home with ragnar

floki volunteers to stay… why because he does not want to get on a boat for a long trip home with ragnar

rollo stops floki's offer

rollo says no you have no reason to stay here floki  bjorn looks on puzzled.

rollo says no you have no reason to stay here floki bjorn looks on puzzled.

bjorn: and what reason do you have uncle?

bjorn: and what reason do you have uncle?

rollo does not give a reason but bjorn decides that rollo will stay

Later there was great celebration of our victory but Rollo did not participate in it. He stood apart and spent much time in deep thought… I know that he was thinking of the Seer’s earier prophecy to him about Paris. Rollo believes in the seer, in the fates and in the Gods. He accepts that the Norns, those spinners of fate shape and weave our destinies and we must follow where they lead us. Thankfully, he has come to understand that we do have choice about how we conduct ourselves on that journey! He has already become a much different man than Ragnar gives him credit for. Months ago, he would have been passed out under a table or fighting some drunken grudge matched brawl.

or well  rollo  he's still having some difficulties

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

siggy bluntly revives a drunken rollo

But, this night he was serious and putting his thoughts towards an uncertain future. The Seer was certainly on his mind as he thought about those words “The Princess will marry the Bear and you will be there to witness it.  If you knew what the Gods have in store for you, you would dance naked on the beach in joy”

rollo stands apart during the party he watches paris and thinks of the Seer's words to him the seer's voice in rollo's head  You would go down now and dance naked on the beach in joy

Rollo watching Paris and hearing the Seer's voice of If you could see what the gods have in store

Rollo watching Paris and hearing the Seer’s voice of If you could see what the gods have in store

Did he perhaps think that night too, of that young woman on the tower wall that he could not get out of his head? At the time, I could give him no explanation for I knew not of her either.  That meeting would come later and we would then more clearly understand the Seer’s prophecy!

gisla keeps watching rollo  who is this warrior

Within a few days after that celebration, the decision was announced that Rollo and a group of Warriors would remain here on the banks of Paris for the winter while the rest of the group would travel back to Kattegat. I can not say for sure the feelings of all of those who were leaving that day… I am not sure exactly what their sentiments towards Ragnar were, I think they were most of the opinion that he would not even survive the trip home as sick as he still was. And, I believe that many were probably hoping that should be the case…he is still their King, but that does not mean that they are necessarily all loyal to him any longer. Many have mumbled and uttered their doubts about his rule so it would not surprise me to hear in the future of some revolt against him.  My personal thought on the matter is this. If it was not your intention or desire to be Earl or King, and it was the fault of everyone else, then perhaps you should do your people and yourself a favor and service by stepping down from this role that you so insist that you never wanted in the first place! Your son Bjorn is proving himself more than capable and worthy of such leadership. Give up this rule to Bjorn and let him lead. People would back him and follow him more willingly than they will continue to follow you now.

Rollo and his group of Warriors stood watching as the ships headed out, leaving all of them to a new future and destiny…

Rollo  and his warriors stay behind as the ships depart.

Rollo and his warriors stay behind as the ships depart.

Rollo watching the ships leave him in france

During the next few months, we remained in that camp waiting and not looking forward to spending a winter in this dreadful place. It was cold, damp, dirty and rather disgusting! It was only ever meant to be a temporary camp for the duration of the raid and now with the smaller group of us here- mostly warrior men, and only just a few of us women who remained, we were face with the unenviable task of trying to make this camp habitable for the duration of the winter. The men were and are loyal to Rollo- that is why they chose to stay- but they were  frustrated with this down time and they were becoming increasingly bored and thus irritable and unpredictable. I followed well Rollo’s instructions to stay well away from the men for my own safety!

the viking camp preparing for a long battle

viking celebration mass

During this time, Rollo spent much of his time training his men, and learning as much as he could from Sinric. Sinric was a great help to all of  us with his knowledge of the Franks and the language. Yes, he is a strange man but I have become quite fond of him. He has taught us all a great deal about this culture and how to fit into it in some way. Rollo is determined that the Seer is right and his destiny lies here in Paris. When I question him about Ragnar, he simply replies that he must do what is right for him now. The one thing that pleases me most… he seems quite happy here without interference or judgements from Ragnar every time he turns around. He is in charge here, his men follow him willingly and all seem quite loyal to him.

Of course, the Frankish citizens of Paris were concerned about our continuing presence… We were unaware of it at the time but there seemed to be much disagreement within the upper ranks there on what to do about us. The other puzzle would and will be in the future is who is this man, Roland? What part, what role does he play in our future here? He seems to hold a rather high and well trusted position in their group. We often encounter him on visits to the camp from their soldiers and with Count Odo. He also seems quite close to Gisla…

Roland, Gisla and odo watching the camp  gisla wonders why they are still here

Roland, Gisla and odo watching the camp gisla wonders why they are still here

roland,  a man to keep an eye on in the future

roland, a man to keep an eye on in the future

and here again we have a long pause on Roland and.... here comes roland once again

yes here comes roland yet again

Now, as to the disagreements within their court… they are naturally concerned about any future raiding we might be planning for the Spring but were unsure as to what to do about this event. Much of the unrest and disagreement was between Charles and his daughter Gisla. At the beginning, he was thrilled with his supposed victory over us and made reference that his Grandfather Charlamagne would be so proud of him now!  The Princess Gisla was quite open in her annoyance and irritation with her weak willed Father…

gisla is not buying her fathers insistance that they will be better prepared next time

gisla is not buying her fathers insistance that they will be better prepared next time

gisla starting to annoy Dad  her comment about charlamagne rejoicing  are you sure about that

gisla starting to annoy Dad her comment about charlamagne rejoicing are you sure about that?

Ohhh now charles claims grand reference to his grandfather charlamagne

Ohhh now charles claims grand reference to his grandfather charlamagne

gisla's look  I may be foolish and stupid but you're a pathetic weakling

gisla’s look I may be foolish and stupid but you’re a pathetic weakling

From all accounts that I have now heard, Charles was becoming much annoyed with his daughter’s behavior. He did have other serious matters to attend to besides her complaints and criticisms.

gisla starting to annoy Dad  her comment about charlamagne rejoicing  are you sure about that charles with a rather unhappy Gisla at the mass

Yep, that little dig is going to cost you gisla

Yep, that little dig is going to cost you gisla

 

Gisla was also having some altercations and disagreements with Count Odo at the time… he was insisting on holding her to a marriage agreement and she was having none of it!

Odo approaches Gisla about that marriage proposal

Odo approaches Gisla about that marriage proposal

gisla's response to odo this is neither the time nor place for this discussion

At some later point, Charles had a family dinner discussion with his daughter where he first brought up the subject of what to about the Vikings. He explained that they could not endure another such raid and must find a way to come to some terms with us. The discussion quickly turned sour when Gisla made disparaging remarks about any such idea and how much more it would cost them.

gisla asks a rational question so what are we to do  charles waves the servants away before he answers gisla's sarcasm is starting to grate on charles again  surely one of your brothers will come to our aid gisla listens as charles goes on about how his brothers hate him and do not care if he fails charles they will return again that is why rollo has remained

There was a lengthy discussion, debate and disagreement before Charles finally came forth with his plan of  action. His plan was to offer this man, Rollo a vast amount of wealth, land and Gisla’s hand in marriage in return for an agreement to protect the city of Paris from future raids. Needless to say, Gisla was less than happy about this idea and Charles had to remind her that besides being her Father, he was her King and Emperor. “I am your King, your Emperor and you will do as I say!

charles ooops then I guess I will have to recall our our offer charles I must offer your hand in marriage

charles  yes I am your father but I am also your king!

charles yes I am your father but I am also your king!

gisla this is count odo's doing  because I refused to marry him he wants have me thrown to the dogs

gisla this is count odo’s doing because I refused to marry him he wants have me thrown to the dogs

gisla you have already made them an offer without even consulting me

I am your father your king and your emporer and you will do as I say in this

I am your father your king and your emporer and you will do as I say in this

It was around this same time that the Frankish emissaries sent the proposed agreement to Rollo. Sinric acted as translator in explaining this agreement to Rollo.

you will be given great wealth and lands plus the hand of the princess in marriage  Rollo what must I do in return  defend paris against your brother

you will be given great wealth and lands plus the hand of the princess in marriage Rollo: what must I do in return? defend paris against your brother

Now, Please do not assume or accuse Rollo of taking this matter lightly, for he did not! You, Ragnar Lothbrok, and others may look at this as yet another betrayal from Rollo, but considering all of the things you have done to others lately, you have no right accuse or blame Rollo in this. Rollo has never waivered in his belief in the Gods, or the fates that lead one’s destiny. He has had to weigh this offer over in his head, debate on it with his men and choose which path was best for them to follow as a group. If you think this such an easy decision, you are wrong. But, as I have said, Rollo firmly believes that the Seer was now correct in his prophecy.  Rollo has made this choice, and his men have followed him. He did not go to that meeting with Charles and Gisla on his own. He went surrounded by his men, his group of warriors that would stand to reap the benefits and bounty of this agreement along with Rollo!  Why do they choose to follow him on this path? Because, I think, like many of the others in their Viking group, they have become disenchanted with Ragnar’s rule, they do not trust Ragnar any longer, and they see the advantage of this path. Rollo will share his land and wealth with them and if this alliance goes as proposed by Charles, Rollo and this group of Warriors will become the founding Noblemen of a new land, a new Kingdom called Normandy… Land of Northmen.

the warriors staying behind with rollo for the winter

As I have said, this is if all goes well and as set out in this agreement. Their first meeting did not go quite as well as would have been thought. Rollo and his men were dressed in their finest for this initial meeting, having been assisted as always by our Sinric. Sinric accompanied the group to act as mediator and translator.

rollo and his warriors take a look at their new way of life

 

rollo looks around the room and thinks Ohhh Hell yeah I can deal with this

Charles is cordial and welcoming to the group while Gisla and Odo look on silently…

charles welcomes rollo

I was not allowed into the hall to attend this meeting but was able to peer in from the doorway along with so many other curious onlookers. My first thought of Gisla was, “What on earth is she wearing on her head!” It looked like a modern day lampshade to me but I guess, we’re in Paris now- where they are already fashion forward and trend setters. At first, too, she looked rather regal in her bearing and appearance, but that quickly changed.

charles introduces gisla she is not going to go into this meekly or quietly

charles introduces gisla she is not going to go into this meekly or quietly

I was watching her and it was obvious that this young woman was not at all happy. Suddenly she jumped up from her throne and the tantrum began! Whoa… ummmm this was not exactly what we expected? I guess we all sort of assumed that this young woman would be a willing participant in this arrangement, that’s what we get for assuming anything!

What ensued was a long winded tirade and rant from her in which she called Rollo every sort of vile name and vowed that she would never do such thing as give up her virginity and her virtue to such scum and heathen barbarian as him…

Here she is Rollo here's your new bride

Well, here she is Rollo, your new bride to be!

It was indeed a full blown temper tantrum and hissy fit if ever I’ve seen one. Charles was uncomfortable and embarrassed by it, and it just went on and on…

charles has a look of concern over his daughter's rant

Rollo and his men were not sure what was going on at first…and she was rattling on so fast that it was difficult for any of us not fluent in the language to make out everything she was spitting out at him.

Rollo is listening intently.  So Rollo how much french have you learned yet?

Rollo is listening intently. So Rollo how much french have you learned yet?

rollo's look to sinric   she doesn't like does she?

rollo’s look to sinric she doesn’t like does she?

Charles next thought during her rant if you blow this I'm giving you to Odo

During her rant, Rollo did manage to pick out a few words… Rollo is used to young women even of her age already having had some experience with sex… They are after all, much more open minded about sexual activity.

rollo is she saying what I think she's saying

Rollo: wait I know that word... virgin... ahhhh Gods above No what she's a virgin?

Rollo: wait I know that word… virgin… ahhhh Gods above No what she’s a virgin?

Sinric's thought ummm I don't think I should translate this...

Charles  Oh my God someone shut her up charles  Ohhh please god don't let him get mad at me and say no... I hope he didn't understand any of that

As I did mention, she just kept going on with her speech…

gisla he disgusts me he makes me want to vomit

Thank the Gods, Rollo finally had enough and called a halt to her tantrum with one look…

rollo Hmmmm so are you finished now is that all you can come up with  I've been called worse

rollo Hmmmm so are you finished now is that all you can come up with I’ve been called worse…

One look, one smile and a simple Hello in French! That was the end of her rant, and the end of the public meeting.

 

rollo's thought Haaaaaa I understood every word I think you owe me even more money and land for taking her off your hands...

rollo’s thought Haaaaaa I understood every word I think you owe me even more money and land for taking her off your hands…

As of right now, the negotiations on this treaty are still being worked out. It’s all about those finer little details such as the asking of more land and wealth considering the recent antics and behaviors of one Princess Gisla. After her public display, Rollo is in a much better position to demand more wealth in this deal… word will quickly spread around France of her behaviors and it might be difficult now for Charles to get another offer for her even if she is a Princess… If she does not change her behaviors, Odo may well be the only other willing taker for her. 

As for me, Rollo has insisted that they show me courtesy and treat me as a Noble guest… I will do my best to keep my eyes and ears open here at court for any information that might prove useful to the group. He has chided me for my ongoing outbursts of continuing anger at Ragnar though and advised me to let it go for now. It is not for me to concern myself with this situation of which we can do nothing about anyway. He does assure me that he is taking it all into serious thought and will deal with when the time comes. Until such a time does come, I should enjoy myself here and learn as much as possible about the land and these people so that I may be of use in helping the others to adjust to this their new home and life.

I contain my outbursts to the privacy of my chamber and I can not help but occasionally cry tears of anger and frustration over all of these past events that have led us here. I have found great comfort though in enjoying the luxuries of this place…such as maids to attend me. And, I will never get enough of the glorious hot baths and having my hair washed and done up by these excellent maids, though I do admit to feeling somewhat guilty for them having to haul those buckets of hot water and fill this tub for me on a such a regular basis. I do my best to treat all of them well with great kindness and reward so I seem to have become a favorite for them. Now, my only problem is that Count Odo seems to have taken great interest in me as well…Ummmm no Thank you sir, I do appreciate your flattery but, I have heard those whispered rumors as to your particular tastes and I can not say that I am on  the same page or wave length as you regarding such activities…

As long as I am going to spending some time here though, I would not mind knowing more about this mysterious Roland…. He seems friendly enough, and he is one of the better looking men I’ve met here so far? It also helps that he is not a Priest… I swear this place is over run with men of God, and from what I have seen and heard, they are not nearly so Godly as they would have one believe! Just one more look at the mystery man at court!

yes here comes roland yet again odo and roland visit the camp to find out why they have not left yet and here again we have a long pause on Roland

Ahhhh and one last thought before I go…. besides everything else, I have taken Rollo’s suggestion and done a bit of shopping here in Paris!  Of course, in order to shop for new garments, one must have them hand made, custom designed and sewn for you. But, it is such a rare treat to not have to sew it myself and to say, if even just smirking to myself, “Ohhh do you like it? I got it on my last trip to Paris!”  I will be making a trip to England in the near future to check on my friend Judith… Perhaps I will bring her some of these styles! Here are but a few samples of what is popular right now.

medieval dress2 medieval-pourpoint-dress Middle Ages Costumes 10th century dress

And, a few varieties of head dress… Judith would much appreciate these, I think considering her recent event involving the loss of her ear!

10th century headwear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Dead: Fifty Shades of Odo…

First of all, I want to thank all of my followers for joining me on this trip through time to the Viking age! Our raiding season has come to an end for this year but that does not mean that we are finished with our visit with these Vikings! As I have mentioned previously, I will be remaining on here in Paris for the time being- I need a bit of a vacation and while the present company tends to be rather stuffy, snotty and at times somewhat perverse, the accommodations are far more comfortable and luxurious than those of a long boat ride and another stay in Kattegat. The food is excellent as well… now, if I could just find way to rid myself of Charles and a few others residing here, my vacation would be almost perfect!

gisla asks a rational question so what are we to do  charles waves the servants away before he answers

I don’t mind if Gisla stays… Yes, she can be a bit much to deal with at times- but I have a feeling she will be quite pre-occupied and busy with her upcoming nuptials and her future husband.

I will tell of that story later, as well as the story of what happened with our Viking group. I am quite sure most of you are already aware by now that our illustrious leader, Ragnar did not die but rose up to accomplish his goal of conquering the city- at least for a few hours! He has now departed for the trip home to Kattegat and we will tell that story later.  Right now, I want to discuss the one other person who has caused such a stir and controversy within the walls of Paris. That would be Count Odo, of whom rumors and gossip are running rampant now.  I have now spent some time at this court and heard many of the women, men whispering of him behind his back.  Never would anyone voice these thoughts openly around him. But, there are indeed rumors floating around about his personal life… and about how he may react to the news of Gisla being given to the Northman, Rollo instead of him?

Odo is this a cruel and vicious man

With all of that in mind, perhaps we should take a closer look at Odo and the recent event that has caused such controversy.  Before we proceed with this discussion, I do need to warn and advise that the following discussion will contain adult subject matter, some sexual content and some nudity. If any of this causes you discomfort, then please do not read further. I would also have to say that if you are uncomfortable with this subject, then I am reasonably certain the recent event that took place with Odo and a willing participant caused you a great deal of discomfort! It was probably even more disturbing and discomforting for you because it was cut and edited in such a way for American viewers that you may not have understood the full context or reason for the scene?  The reasoning for this scenario is still up for debate even among those who had the benefit of viewing it in it’s entirety. It did seem somewhat out of context and un-necessary at first. But, after thinking much about it and doing some additional research on this particular character, I can see where it may be coming from on a number of different levels.

Before we get into the discussion of it, let us look at exactly what happened!  Count Odo was once again put off by Gisla and immediately after that he was approached by an unknown, un-named as yet, young Noblewoman. This young woman was open about her desire to show her gratitude to Odo for saving their city, even if Gisla would not. She showed an interest in spending more personal time with him. Odo, to his credit, did not just immediately take her up on it, but spent some moment thinking this over before giving her a hopeful answer in his response of, “Perhaps later”

Odo approaches Gisla about that marriage proposal

Odo approaches Gisla about that marriage proposal

gisla's response to odo this is neither the time nor place for this discussion

gisla’s response to odo this is neither the time nor place for this discussion

This young woman searches Odo out, approaches him and is quite forward in her advances toward him. Odo did not go in search of her, nor did he do anything that would be of questionable conduct or behavior on his part.  This is extremely important to remember later. This young woman purposefully set her sights and attentions on Odo and offered herself to him. He did seem hesitant about agreeing to her proposal.

nameless woman  You saved our city I am grateful and would show you that gratitude if she won't

Odo has to think for a moment on this woman's offer the young woman is rewarded with an answer of perhaps later

In considering his hesitation over this and what takes place later, we now have to wonder about the other unknown woman that Odo seemed to have some relationship with at an earlier time?

Odo and the new mysterious woman seem to be in agreement on something

Odo and the new mysterious woman seem to be in agreement on something

Who is this other unknown woman… what role does she play in his life, both personal and professional? She does bear a resemblance to our more recent young woman, and at first I thought perhaps they were one and the same? But, I don’t think so… this woman appears to be older, more experienced and seems to already have some connection with Odo? How does she fit into what we are learning about Odo and the French court? I can only assume that this will all unravel for us in the next season!

Odo's attention is on this woman.

Odo’s attention is on this woman.

For now, let us just focus on what took place later between Odo and this unknown young woman.

They did meet later in Odo’s chambers, where once again, she made it clear what she was offering. She made comments about how she was sure that Gisla was boring, so good, so pious and would not hold Odo’s interest for long. Odo brought up the subject of this woman’s husband and she responded that he was probably already so drunk as not care or notice where she was or what she was doing. So, we now know that this woman is married and is willing to enter into some arrangement with Odo despite that state. As a note- this was not at all uncommon then- we will discuss that later!

the woman's thoughts on gisla  she seems very boring

the woman’s thoughts on gisla she seems very boring

you would soon tire of her believe me

you would soon tire of her believe me

When the woman comments on her husband, Odo’s response shows he is well aware of her intent and her game, and he is letting her know it.

 

the woman  my husband will be too drunk to even care  Odo I almost believe you

the woman my husband will be too drunk to even care Odo I almost believe you

In Odo’s response to her about Gisla, we get a clue as to what the future could possibly hold for Gisla if she should end up married to him… or if the marriage event does not go his way and he would choose to extract some personal vengeance upon Gisla for it?

Odo perhaps but then again breaking her could be interesting

Odo perhaps but then again breaking her could be interesting

Please remember that this woman is willing and eager to enter into some arrangement with Odo. She suggests that perhaps she could hold his interest far longer than Gisla ever could. Odo responds with we shall see…

the young woman is eager and willing

the young woman is eager and willing

is there a way that I could keep your interest

is there a way that I could keep your interest

Odo: Come come with me and we shall see if you are up to the challenge?

Odo: Come come with me and we shall see if you are up to the challenge?

The young woman then follows Odo down a dim hallway to what one would suppose to be a much more private and less known about dungeon like space…

Odo leads her down a dark passage

Odo leads her down a dark passage

This is obviously not a space that Odo shares with the general public or more casual acquaintances…

Odo's private play room

Odo’s private play room

she seems to be having second thoughts as she observes the dungeon room filled with torture devices

she seems to be having second thoughts as she observes the dungeon room filled with torture devices

Well this was certainly not what she was expecting  she has to rethink this for a moment

Well this was certainly not what she was expecting she has to rethink this for a moment

This is where we discover Odo’s more personal and private preferences. Apparently, no other woman at court has thought to possibly warn this young woman ahead of time of just what type of sexual proclivities, deviations or acts Odo may be fond of practicing. I am certain that there are probably other women who know of this, who have experienced this with him, but for what ever reason they have kept such information to themselves- a much guarded secret? Perhaps they have been well rewarded for their silences on this matter…or perhaps they are in fear of any retribution on Odo’s part if he should find they have been sharing this secret… possibly, it’s a bit of both. In any case, this woman is rattled by this place and it takes her some time to regain any composure. The key to this is that, she does regain her composure, she does go ahead with this experience even after being warned and cautioned by him to choose carefully.  The other part to remember here is that Odo is not looking at this as abuse. He is well versed and well trained in this art of BDSM and is giving her free choice as to continue or to walk away. If she chooses to continue, he is willing to guide her through this experience.

What we see is this young woman having second thoughts, weighing the choice in her mind and probably the benefits of continuing on as well… this is entirely new for her, and she battles to overcome some fear and possible distaste for the idea in thought of what the eventual reward might be for her.  She has obviously set her sights on an arrangement with Odo for some reasons that most likely have little to do with sexual gratification- though that would be an added side bonus- but more to do with advancing her and or her husband’s status at court. This was the most general reason for women entering into such affairs, and often they had their husband’s agreements on such an activity. One could look at it as a career opportunity for young women at court. We will delve into that a bit closer after we view the rest of this experience.

Odo shows off his collection of whips

Odo gives her his explanation and his offer… If you would submit to being chained and whipped, we might come to some arrangement. The key here is that he is giving her choice and she is free to decline is she so chooses.

If you would submit to being chained up and whipped we might come to some arrangement

If you would submit to being chained up and whipped we might come to some arrangement

Odo of course I would allow you to choose the whip

Odo of course I would allow you to choose the whip

do not show fear what ever you do do not show fear just suck it up and hope he pays you well for this choose your whip carefully  some are more severe than others

you will always be able to call halt  though I would prefer to decide that for myself.

you will always be able to call halt though I would prefer to decide that for myself.

preparing herself and summoning her courage

preparing herself and summoning her courage

odo watches as she tests the chains

odo watches as she tests the chains

I can not stress or emphasize enough that this experience, this act is not in and of itself abuse or torture. Odo is a trained expert in this form of sexual practice and they are both consenting adults on this experience. He is giving her fair warning, free choice in the matter and no one is forcing her into this experience. While it may be disturbing to watch, and it may not be to your personal taste, sensibilities or morals, it is not abuse. As I said, he will guide her through it and will give her choice as to when to strike or when to halt. The final choice is now left up to her and she makes her decision…. What a portion of this choice comes down to is that of what a person might be  willing to do for status, fame, power or control. I will not say love at this point because in this particular situation, love or obsession has nothing to do with her motives or his. There may be, though a willingness on her part too, to experience it for curiousness of this act?

the things a woman will do for power

the woman readies herself for this experience Odo: will you keep my interest  undoubtedly

What follows is this young woman’s initiation into the sexual practice of BDSM with guidance from Odo, her Master in this experience. Odo allows her to choose when…

say strike when you are ready

say strike when you are ready

tell me when to strike

After a moment of preparing herself, she is ready

the experience begins say strike

what much of the viewing audience missed was the rest of the act…

Ode to Odo and fifty shades of gray by Ines Jager at Vikings Aftermath facebook group

Ode to Odo and fifty shades of gray by Ines Jager at Vikings Aftermath facebook group

We did not see any further sexual conclusion to this initial act so we really have no idea if she truly embraced the experience and enjoyed it or not. We can assume that is was pleasurable for Odo, and that as such a well trained master in this practice, he would have enlightened her as to the basic premise that there is a fine line between pain and pleasure. This premise is the basis for much of the practice of BDSM.  What we do see at a later point is that she does seem to have elevated her status at court somewhat by being at Odo’s side at an important Court function, Ragnar’s supposed funeral. This small detail may be easy to overlook but it is extremely important in the context of this experience and what her benefit or reward might have been!

and what have we here  is this our young woman who played odo's game and is now elevated in her level of status

and what have we here is this our young woman who played odo’s game and is now elevated in her level of status

 

Now that we have looked at the experience, let us look at those other pieces of the puzzle…

First of all, we need to look at the character of Odo and where this part of his character may have originated. I know we have looked at him and his part in history previously but let’s look one more time because this seems to be a new side of him that his original history did not necessarily prepare us for? Of course, this particular preference or practice may not be one that would be so well known or documented through history!

We have previously gone on the assumption that he is a representation of Count Odo of France, but there are couple of Count Odos during this time period. I believe that our Odo is most likely another of those combinations of historical figures. While he certainly is most likely partially a representation of Odo of France as basically described here:

King of Western Francia
Coronation of King Odo.jpg

The Coronation of Odo, from the Grandes Chroniques de France
Reign 888–898
Coronation February 888, Compiègne
Predecessor Charles the Fat
Successor Charles III
House Robertian
Father Robert the Strong
Mother Adelaide of Tours
Born c.852
Died 1 January 898
La Fère, France

Odo (or Eudes) (c. 852 – 1 January 898) was a King of Western Francia, reigning from 888 to 898. He was a son of Robert the Strong, count of Anjou, whose branch of the family is known as the Robertians. Odo is also known as the Duke of France and Count of Paris.

For his skill and bravery in resisting the attacks of the Vikings at the Siege of Paris, Odo was chosen by the western Franks to be their king following the removal of emperor Charles the Fat. He was crowned at Compiègne in February 888 by Walter, Archbishop of Sens.  Odo continued to battle against the Vikings and defeated them at Montfaucon, but he was soon involved in a struggle with powerful nobles who supported the claim of Charles the Simple to the Frankish throne.

In 889 and 890 Odo granted special privileges to the County of Manresa in Osona. Because of its position on the front line against Moorish aggression, Manresa was given the right to build towers of defence known as manresanas or manresanes. This privilege was responsible for giving Manresa its unique character, distinct from the rest of Osona, for the next two centuries.  To gain prestige and support, Odo paid homage to the Eastern Frankish King Arnulf of Carinthia. But in 894 Arnulf declared his support for Charles, and after a conflict which lasted three years, Odo was compelled to come to terms with his rival and surrender a district north of the Seine to him.

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

He is most likely also a portrayal and representation of  Odo I, Count of Blois. Odo, Count of Blois and Touraine, was a French nobleman of the tenth century. He is described as a vicious, cruel man who lost his left arm in a sword-fight. 

http://www.renefiles.com/odohist.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odo_I,_Count_of_Blois

This link is to a short peview of a book called Odo Count of Champagne and Tyrant of Burgundy

http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/546450?uid=2&uid=4&sid=21106624154483

Odo count of Champagne

For our purposes, we have not yet seen our Count Odo as overly cruel or vicious… He seems to be a well capable man in charge of defending his City and making far more rational, sound decisions than King Charles! What we can see of him is a desire for added power and fame, which the marriage to Gisla would bring him. So far, he has really done nothing else to warrant our suspicions and speculations upon his character, his morals or his supposed cruel streak. He is in a high position of power and presents himself with that level of confidence and authority for the most part.  At this point, his personal proclivities, preferences or fetishes are just that- his personal business, and he as yet not let them carry over into his professional life. We can not pass judgement on him for that yet. He has made mention that it might be interesting or enjoyable to break or tame the lady Gisla… but right now, there are countless other men who probably feel similarly in that respect… namely, our Rollo! But, that is a separate story from our current topic!

rollo Haaaaaa I understood every word I think you owe me even more money and land for taking her

 

As to our unknown young woman’s motives, ambitions and loose morals… We need to look at the idea and the role of mistresses in the context of Royalty and history. As I mentioned earlier, this was not really uncommon and not really looked down upon. For young women living at Royal Courts it was often expected that they would use their assets wisely to benefit themselves and their families. Many families sent their young women to court specifically for that reason- to use their feminine assets in order to develop alliances and connections that would help all of the family move up in status and wealth. Just because they were perceived as religious and pious people does not mean that they were all pure, good and devout in their beliefs and their actions. This was a cut throat world and their intent was to survive and thrive by any means necessary. Women in this time had just as much desire for status, wealth, power and control as men did. They just went about achieving their goals in a slightly different type of warfare!

We know next to nothing about this woman, her husband or her family so we can not be sure exactly of all her reasonings and motives for seeking out this arrangement with the high level Count Odo. She may have been put up to it by family members seeking to increase their status via her relationship with such a powerful man, or it may be her own ambition pushing her on in this endeavor. That all remains to be seen in the future!

A brief look at Mistresses in history:

A mistress is a relatively long-term female lover and companion who is not married to her partner, especially when her partner is married. Generally, the relationship is stable and at least semi-permanent, but the couple does not live together openly and the relationship is usually, but not always, secret. There is often also the implication (if not the fact) that the mistress is “kept” – i.e. that her lover is paying for some (and sometimes all) of her living expenses.

The historically best known and most-researched mistresses are the royal mistresses of European monarchs, for example, Agnès Sorel, Diane de Poitiers, Barbara Villiers, Nell Gwyn and Madame de Pompadour. The keeping of a mistress in Europe was not confined to royalty and nobility but permeated down through the social ranks, essentially to any man who could afford to do so. Any man who could afford a mistress could have one (or more), regardless of social position. A wealthy merchant or a young noble might have a kept woman. Being a mistress was typically an occupation for a younger woman who, if she were fortunate, might go on to marry her lover or another man of rank.

The ballad “The Three Ravens” (published in 1611, but possibly older) extolls the loyal mistress of a slain knight, who buries her dead lover and then dies of the exertion, as she was in an advanced stage of pregnancy. It is noteworthy that the ballad-maker assigned this role to the knight’s mistress (“leman” was the term common at the time) rather than to his wife. In the courts of Europe, particularly Versailles and Whitehall in the 17th and 18th centuries, a mistress often wielded great power and influence. A king might have numerous mistresses but have a single “favourite mistress” or “official mistress” (in French, “maîtresse en titre”), as with Louis XV and Madame de Pompadour. The mistresses of both Louis XV (especially Madame de Pompadour) and Charles II were often considered to exert great influence over their lovers, the relationships being open secrets. Other than wealthy merchants and kings, Alexander VI is but one example of a Pope who kept mistresses.  While the extremely wealthy might keep a mistress for life (as George II of England did with “Mrs Howard“, even after they were no longer romantically linked), such was not the case for most kept women.

In 1736, when George II was newly ascendant, Henry Fielding (in Pasquin) has his Lord Place say, “…but, miss, every one now keeps and is kept; there are no such things as marriages now-a-days, unless merely Smithfield contracts, and that for the support of families; but then the husband and wife both take into keeping within a fortnight.”

Occasionally the mistress is in a superior position both financially and socially to her lover. As a widow, Catherine the Great was known to have been involved with several successive men during her reign; but, like many powerful women of her era, in spite of being a widow free to marry, she chose not to share her power with a husband, preferring to maintain absolute power alone.

Mistresses were a common part of Royal and Noble life throughout history. In fact in history, the Charlamagne that Charles is so fond of reminding people of, had a number of mistresses.

Charlemagne

  • Gersuinda of the Saxons
  • Amaltrud of Vienne
  • Ethelind
  • Sigrade
  • Madelgard
  • Regina
  • Landrade des Herbages
  • Adelindus

And, if we use Charles the Simple as part of our role model for our Charles, he had a few himself!

Charles the Simple

  • Edgiva of Kent
  • Frederuna von Ringleheim

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

While Count Odo is not Royalty, he is close and in history, he would be king for a time. So, this would put him in the category of Royalty for a young woman determined to advance herself and her family.

A royal mistress is the historical position of a mistress to a monarch or an heir apparent. Some mistresses have had considerable power. These powerful mistresses have been commonly referred to as the “power behind the throne“. The prevalence of the institution can be attributed to the fact that royal marriages were until recent times conducted solely on the basis of political and dynastic considerations, leaving little space for the monarch’s personal preferences in the choice of a mate.

In European history the children of mistresses were not normally included in the line of succession, except perhaps when secret marriages were alleged. Hence the Monmouth Rebellion when James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth claimed the thrones of England and Scotland on the grounds that his mother had been the wife, rather than a mistress, of Charles II.

 

The last portion of this discussion is a brief, basic explanation and history of Odo’s personal sexual practices, BDSM. I am not going to go into any lengthy detailed discussion of it as it is not really pertinent here and it is a very personal choice and lifestyle which each person has different levels of accepting or believing in. I would not pass judgement on anyone for their personal tastes in such areas as long as it does not cross boundaries set by either consenting party. That is the most important thing to remember about any type of relationship.

BDSM is a variety of erotic practices involving dominance and submission, roleplaying, restraint, and other interpersonal dynamics. Given the wide range of practices, some of which may be engaged in by people who do not consider themselves as practicing BDSM, inclusion in the BDSM community or subculture is usually dependent on self-identification and shared experience. Interest in BDSM can range from one-time experimentation to a lifestyle.

 

The BDSM initialism

The term BDSM is first dated from 1969.  The term BDSM was formed by joining the term B&D (bondage and discipline) with S&M (sadomasochism, or sadism and masochism). (It is sometimes believed to contain within it, as well, the compound D&S (dominance and submission) but that is not historically correct, and an example of folk etymology). BDSM is used today (2015) as a catch-all phrase covering a wide range of activities, forms of interpersonal relationships, and distinct subcultures. BDSM communities generally welcome anyone with a non-normative streak who identifies with the community; this may include cross-dressers, extreme body modification enthusiasts, animal players, latex or rubber aficionados, and others.

Unlike the usual “power neutral” relationships and play styles commonly followed by couples, activities and relationships within a BDSM context are often characterized by the participants’ taking on complementary, but unequal roles; thus, the idea of informed consent of both the partners becomes essential. Participants who exert sexual dominance over their partners are known as dominants or tops, while participants who take the passive, receiving, or obedient role are known as submissives or bottoms.

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

The Historical Origins of BDSM

 The historical origins of BDSM are obscure. During the ninth century BC, ritual flagellations were performed in Artemis Orthia, one of the most important religious areas of ancient Sparta, where the Cult of Orthia, a preolympic religion, was practiced. Here ritual flagellation called diamastigosis took place on a regular basis. One of the oldest graphical proofs of sadomasochistic activities is found in an Etruscan burial site in Tarquinia. Inside the Tomba della Fustigazione (Flogging grave), in the latter sixth century b.c., two men are portrayed flagellating a woman with a cane and a hand during an erotic situation. Another reference related to flagellation is to be found in the sixth book of the Satires of the ancient Roman Poet Juvenal (1st–2nd century A.D.), further reference can be found in Petronius’s Satyricon where a delinquent is whipped for sexual arousal. Anecdotal narratives related to humans who have had themselves voluntary bound, flagellated or whipped as a substitute for sex or as part of foreplay reach back to the third and fourth century.

The Kama Sutra describes four different kinds of hitting during lovemaking, the allowed regions of the human body to target and different kinds of joyful “cries of pain” practiced by bottoms. The collection of historic texts related to sensuous experiences explicitly emphasizes that impact play, biting and pinching during sexual activities should only be performed consensually since only some women consider such behavior to be joyful. From this perspective the Kama Sutra can be considered as one of the first written resources dealing with sadomasochistic activities and safety rules. Further texts with sadomasochistic connotation appear worldwide during the following centuries on a regular basis.

 

http://www.asubmissivesjourney.com/history_bdsm.html

 

aethelwulf practices self flagulation and punishes himself for what ever sins he can think of

aethelwulf practices self flagulation and punishes himself for what ever sins he can think of

 

The final thought that I need to address here is one that some people have brought up in various discussions of this scene. Some people have compared Count Odo’s behavior to that of Aethelwulf’s self flagellation. I do not believe that Aethelwulf’s self flagellation has anything to do with eroticism but more to do with the religious context of it.

The Flagellation refers in a Christian context to the Flagellation of Christ, an episode in the Passion of Christ prior to Jesus’ crucifixion. The practice of mortification of the flesh for religious purposes was utilized by some Christians throughout most of Christian history, especially in Catholic monasteries and convents.

In the 13th century, a group of Roman Catholics, known as the Flagellants, took this practice to its extreme ends. The Flagellants were later condemned by the Roman Catholic Church as a cult in the 14th century because the established church had no other control over the practice than excommunication.  Self-flagellation remains common in the Philippines, Mexico, and one convent in Peru.

Some members of strict monastic orders, and some members of the Catholic lay organization Opus Dei, practice mild self-flagellation using an instrument called a “discipline”, a cattail whip usually made of knotted cords, which is flung over the shoulders repeatedly during private prayer.  Pope John Paul II took the discipline regularly.

St. Therese of Lisieux, a Carmelite nun of late 19th-century France who has now been declared a Doctor of the Church, is an influential example of a Catholic Saint who questioned prevailing attitudes toward physical penance. Her view was that loving acceptance of the many sufferings of daily life was pleasing to God, and fostered loving relationships with other people, more than taking upon oneself extraneous sufferings through instruments of penance. However as a Carmelite nun, she practiced voluntary corporal mortification.

Because practices such as starvation, sleep denial and flagellation are known to induce altered states, flagellation may be used by religious ecstatics and mystics as part of ritualistic practices or ceremonies to achieve unusual states of mind.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-flagellation

 

I hope this answers any questions, confusion or puzzles you may have concerning Odo, his personal practices, his history, and the young woman’s possible reasons or motives for entering into this arrangement. Hopefully it will give you some insight as how and why this scene fits into the context of the story. I can do nothing about your personal feelings, judgements or discomfort regarding all of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: What does the future hold for Rollo and Gisla?

 

 

Ok, I have a meeting with the Seer and am going to quickly give my guess and prediction for the fated couple…

Seer as counselor  What do you think

I mentioned in yesterday’s post that Gisla is showing her more petulant and pouting spoiled Princess side.

gisla is still a young girl wanting her own way

We have also been made aware of the fact that Rollo has achieved some great recognition and reputation as the Crazed Bear, so I think we can safely assume that Rollo is the Bear that the Seer speaks of and Gisla is the Princess…

sintric  he fights like a crazed bear

sintric he fights like a crazed bear

There was definitely some interest shown by both of them upon seeing each other….but I do think that Rollo will have some personal affront and issue with the fact that she was up on the wall in the first place and the sight of her caused him to nearly kill himself? I also think that Gisla, while she may be somewhat interested in this warrior, is not going to be quite so willing to be married off to him?

gisla watching the battle sees Rollo fighting gisla watching rollo intently rollo's first sight of gisla rollo makes the mistake glancing up from his battel to see gisla watching him

Gisla may have some curious fascination with this wild man, but she is quite vocal and blunt as to how she feels about those Heathens. It was she in fact who was insistent on Odo bringing her Sigfrid’s head if he cared at all for her? Poor Sigfrid’s death was just an attempt to appease her pouting arrogant high handed demands… and she certainly was not above pouting when it did not go quite the way she had envisioned!

Sigfrid listens as Sintric tries to talk his way out of this mess for them

Sigfrid has the last laugh

Sigfrid has the last laugh

gisla is not amused

gisla is not amused

What we need to look at is what else was going on during the “trial” of Sigfrid and Sinric… Odo was so impressed with Rollo’s actions and warrior quality that he insisted on knowing more about this great warrior that fought like a crazed bear and managed to stop their siege machine bare handed!

odo: this man sintric will be of use to us  gisla and this earl

odo: this man sintric will be of use to us gisla and this earl

Rollo is not about to let some machine stop him this time rollo conquering the machine Rollo's Fuck you moment  I said I was going to get in and I meant it

Now, throughout this discussion, Odo tried to get the King’s opinion and decision on what to do… but Charles seemed to engrossed in his own thoughts.

Odo waits for Charles to come up with any form of intelligent decision.

Odo waits for Charles to come up with any form of intelligent decision.

while odo questions  Sinric, charles is thinking on something else

while odo questions Sinric, charles is thinking on something else

Just what is Charles thinking of besides, When is this going be over, this is all so beneath me… Well, here is what he may have been thinking, “What the Devil do I do with this spoiled daughter of mine, she’s starting to get on my nerves.” Then his thoughts wander to the over all predicament they are in and this talk of a Wild Warrior Viking… Charles is tired of all this constant fighting, it’s so annoying and interrupts his naps and his prayer, much like his daughter does on occasion. Hmmm, how to solve this so that I come out looking good? I can not afford to keep paying off these Vikings for very long. And because I am paying off them off all over the country and our coffers are close to empty, I can’t afford to keep this Princess in long dresses let alone pay a dowry for her either… His thoughts ramble on to Odo… if he thinks he is going to marry my daughter and reach even higher in station, he should think again.  He is only here to make me look good! Everyone assumes that Charles is spineless and a bit dimwitted… well, he probably is a bit of both, but he does have some thoughts in his mind. Charles goes on thinking to himself while they debate the fate of these prisoners. He keeps going back to that Warrior Viking and how impressed everyone seems to be with the man? Suddenly, a plan enters his brain on how to solve all of it and not spend too much more gold… Pay this Viking off in land, we have plenty of excess land around here! Perhaps I can convince this Viking Warrior to take some land, some coastal land to be exact. If he is such a ferocious Warrior, then he could guard his own damn land and ours as well? That’s it! I’ll offer this man coastal land, which he will then have to protect from the rest of those Heathens trying to rob him blind… See how he likes it then!  In the middle of his perfect scheme, he hears his daughter’s demanding voice and winces. She’s giving me another headache… I know she means well, but I have simply had enough of her and Odo! what to do, what to do about her? Ahhhh, I know! I’ll throw her into the deal as a wife for him. In fact, I will insist that he take her or the whole deal is off! Yes, Yes… this will all work out perfectly if Odo does not mess it up for me!

King Charles has his own secret plan

In the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte (911) with King Charles, Rollo pledged feudal allegiance to the king, changed his name to the Frankish version, and converted to Christianity, probably with the baptismal name Robert. In return, King Charles granted Rollo land between the Epte and the sea as well as parts of Brittany  and according to Dudo of St. Quentin, the hand of the King’s daughter, Gisela, although this marriage and Gisela herself are unknown to Frankish sources. He was also the titular ruler of Normandy, centered around the city of Rouen. There exists some argument among historians as to whether Rollo was a “duke” (dux) or whether his position was equivalent to that of a “count” under Charles.

According to legend, when required to kiss the foot of King Charles, as a condition of the treaty, he refused to perform so great a humiliation, and when Charles extended his foot to Rollo, Rollo ordered one of his warriors to do so in his place. His warrior then lifted Charles’ foot up to his mouth causing the king to fall to the ground.

After 911, Rollo stayed true to his word of defending the shores of the Seine river in accordance to the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. However, he also continued attacks on Flanders.

After Charles was deposed by Robert I in 922, Rollo considered his oath to the King of France at an end. It started a period of expansion westwards. Negotiations with French barons ended with Rollo being given Le Mans and Bayeux and continued with the seizure of Bessin in 924. The following year the Normans attacked Picardy.

Rollo began to divide the land between the Epte and Risle rivers among his chieftains and settled there with a de facto capital in Rouen. Over time, Rollo’s men intermarried with the local women, and became more settled into French Catholic culture as Normans.

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

Of course, plans do not always go quite as one imagines them in one’s mind, so I am sure that there will be a few changes to this genius plan inside Charles’ wandering mind. One thing he does do is remind both Odo and Gisla of just who is King, and who makes the final decisions… well, him and God, but you get my point! At their most recent meeting before sending Odo off on his mission to pay the Vikings off, he makes it fairly clear to Gisla that while her ideas might have some merit and value, it is not for her to decide. None of these things are really for you to decide, dear girl, we only let you play at it and have your way when it benefits us… as you will soon see!

gisla you will bring me his head gisla is not impressed with her father's thought that Sintric might be of any help

gisla: otherwise we will have failed.

gisla: otherwise we will have failed.

 

Given Gisla’s distaste and downright hatred of these Barbarians, I do not imagine that she will initially be too excited about the prospect of marrying one of them… even if it is Rollo! She may be willing to do her duty for God, Country and her Father but, really this carrying things a bit too far, don’t you think Daddy? You could not honestly be serious about this idea! I am reasonably sure that Rollo may not be too happy about this initially either, depending on how he is conned into it… But, he may be keeping the Seer’s prophecy in mind and convincing himself that this really is a good thing even as she throws her first tantrum at not getting her way. These two may be fascinated with each other and attracted to each other but I have a feeling this partnership is going to test both of them. 

I envision a rather rocky start to this relationship in which Gisla must learn that she can not always have her way and that pouting will not cut it with Rollo! I have a thought that Rollo will go by the time tested adage of “If you choose to act like a child, then I shall treat you as one.” Now, normally, I am not an advocate of corporal punishment, but in this instance, I am of the opinion that a good spanking may be in Gisla’s future if she continues to be demanding and pouting with our Rollo… Ummmm, actually, I would love to see this scenario played out on screen instead of just in my head!  This punishment would not have been remiss, uncalled for or unheard of back in their time, though it most surely would not sit well with Gisla?  The action would however, tie into a small bit of  limited information that we do have historically for Gisla.

Gisela of France, also called Gisella or Giséle (fl. 911), was traditionally a French princess and the consort of King Rollo.

According to tradition, Rollo was betrothed to Gisela, daughter to the king of West Francia, Charles the Simple, after his conversion to Christianity upon his ascension as ruler of Normandy in 911. Legend says that Rollo treated Gisela with cruelty. Her father sent her two knights to act as her support in Normandy, but they were both executed by hanging on the order of Rollo. Gisela had no children.

The marriage and the existence of Gisela are not confirmed. It has been suggested that, if she really did exist, she may have been a natural daughter of Charles.

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

My personal thought on this… Gisla gets spanked by Rollo then tries to run home to Daddy accusing the man of violence and cruelty towards her. Charles’ response to this is to send her right back with a message for Rollo, “She is your problem now, deal with her as you see fit… Why do you think I let you marry her!”

Now, of course, the Seer and I could be completely off base here… it’s been known to happen, we have on occasion been wrong? But, in this preview clip, we do see what could be a wedding, and the Princess Gisla does not look too happy about it, then again no one else looks too happy either so I guess the dancing naked on the beach will have to wait a bit… I do have to say, Our Rollo certainly looks fine in his formal attire for such an occasion!