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More good news for Bernard Cornwell fans and fans of history!

Just wanted to share this recent news.  A recent Variety article revealed that Bad Wolf productions is developing an small screen adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s series, The Warlord Chronicles!

Variety can also exclusively reveal that the company is developing an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s trilogy “The Warlord Chronicles,” which is a revisionist take on the King Arthur legend. “He is a great storyteller as we know from everything from ‘Sharpe’ to ‘The Last Kingdom,’” Gardner said. “He has a very innovative way into the Arthurian stories, which is to take an ordinary man who by work, chance and life is an observer and an intimate in the relationships of Arthur, Lancelot and the key characters that we know.”

This information was included in Variety’s announcement of  HBO partnering with Bad Wolf Productions. You can read the entire article here:

http://variety.com/2015/tv/global/hbo-partners-with-production-company-bad-wolf-1201632217/

If you follow this blog on any regular basis, you will probably be well aware and familiar with my interest in the early Saxon period in Britain as well as the Roman involvement there. I’ve read the Warlord Chronicles and discussed them previously.  If you have not read this series, you should!

Bernard Cornwell takes a more realistic approach and perspective in his telling of the legend of Arthur. For the most part, he avoids the myth, magic and fantasy realm and tries to create the more real world that Arthur might have lived in. The only exception is his inclusion of Merlin, but even with Merlin, Cornwell attempts to give us a more realistic presentation of Merlin as one of the few remaining Druid Preists in that time period. He does an excellent job for the most part, of debunking much of the magic, mystery and myth but does leave some mystery and question surrounding Merlin.  I say for the most part, because I will admit that I did struggle a bit with the character of Merlin, and at times I felt like Bernard struggled a bit with him as well. Aside from that minor issue, the books were an excellent interpretation of the legend and the more real history that surrounds that myth and legend.

I’ve already written reviews on the book series as well as a number of articles pertaining to early Saxon and Roman history in Britain. I have also previously discussed the legends of Arthur. I will provide links here to some of those previous articles!

Saxons, Romans and Arthur:

king-arthur-tapestry

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/saxons-romans-and-arthur/

From Odin and Woden to Anglo-Saxons in Britain:

wodin and his followers

wodin and his followers

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/from-odin-and-woden-to-anglo-saxons-in-britain/

 

Ancient history connects Norse with Romans and Arthur:

Roman era map of Britain

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

Last Kingdom, Time travel in Scotland, plus Hail to Arthur Pendragon and Helen Hollick!

A quick update this morning to share some of the most recent preview pics released for The Last Kingdom! I know that many of us are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Uthred to our small screens. Thankfully BBC is finally letting us see some of the previews of it! The Last Kingdom premieres Saturday, October 10 at 10/9c. The Last Kingdom is a contemporary story of redemption, vengeance and self-discovery set against the birth of England.

Last Kingdom previews

Last Kingdom previews

Last Kingdom preview probably Ravyn, father of Ragnar.

Last Kingdom preview probably Ravyn, father of Ragnar.

Last Kingdom preview

Last Kingdom preview young Uhtred and Brida?

 

Last Kingdom preview- OMG It's Ubba!!!

Last Kingdom preview- Ubba

from vikings to last kingdom

Last Kingdom preview possibly Brida

Last Kingdom preview possibly Brida

For more info on the series and the cast list so far, you can read my previous article:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/temporary-cure-for-viking-withdrawals-last-kingdom-update/

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/07/21/last-kingdom-update/

The official website has been updated, You need to go check it out now!

http://www.bbcamerica.com/the-last-kingdom/

 

For fans of Outlander and other assorted time travel stories, I  want to share and suggest another series. I’ve mentioned it before and reviewed it on my books and reviews page but just wanted to give it a quick blurb here as a reminder or refresher for those looking for books to fill the time travel and Scotland craving. Laura Vosika has a great time travel series that combines her musical background with time travel and early Scottish history. I’ve enjoyed the Bluebells trilogy so far and I think a lot of others will enjoy it as well! Her series is a mix of past and present, some alternative “what if” theories, some great history along with mysteries and suspense! It deals with the history of Scotland during the 1300s.

Blue Bells of Scotland

The Minstrel Boy is now available on Kindle!

The Trilogy Begins….

Blue Bells of ScotlandShawn Kleiner has it all: money, fame, a skyrocketing career as an international musical phenomenon, his beautiful girlfriend Amy, and all the women he wants– until the night Amy has enough and leaves him  stranded in a Scottish castle tower.He wakes up to find himself mistaken for Niall Campbell, medieval Highland warrior.  Soon after, he is sent shimmying down a wind-torn castle wall into a dangerous cross country trek with Niall’s tempting, but knife-wielding fiancee.  They are pursued by English soldiers and a Scottish traitor who want Niall dead.Thrown forward in time, Niall learns history’s horrifying account of his own death, and of the Scots’ slaughter at Bannockburn.  Undaunted, he navigates the roiled waters of Shawn’s life– pregnant girlfriend, amorous fans, enemies, and gambling debts— seeking a way to leap back across time to save his people, especially his beloved Allene.  His growing fondness for Shawn’s life brings him face to face with his own weakness and teaches him the true meaning of faith.Blue Bells of Scotland is both a historical adventure and a tale of redemption that will be remembered long after the last page has been turned.

http://www.bluebellstrilogy.com/

You can find my reviews for the series on my books and reviews page. Laura Vosika is currently working on the next book in the series, called Westering Home. She is in Scotland right now doing some additional research and if you check out her facebook page, she is posting some fantastic photos of her trip and her research!

https://www.facebook.com/laura.vosika.author/timeline

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/books-and-reviews/

 

One last update! While we’re on the subject of books… In a previous article, https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/saxons-romans-and-arthur/  I mentioned a series on Arthur by Helen Hollick. At the time, I had just started reading it, was only through book one and didn’t give a complete review of it. The series is called the Pendragon’s  Banner and in it, Helen gives a more realistic presentation of the legend of Arthur.  There are three books in the series that takes us from Arthur’s early childhood to his death. I have now finished reading all three books and can honestly say that I am just as impressed with the ending as I was with the beginning of it! In the series, Helen presents her  version of  many of the different stories connected with the legend. The only parts she omitted in her version were Lancelot and Merlin. She omitted these characters for a good reason! Helen chose to focus on the fragments of history and legend that made a more historical connection to events during that time period. Rather than present the mythology and symbolism of Merlin and magic or Lancelot and knights on white horses, she instead had us follow Arthur on a  journey to Gaul, to parts of ancient France where the Romans were fighting a losing battle against the Franks at the time.

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

There in a place called Avignon, he face betrayal and failure, along with inner demons to haunt him and cause him to not want to return to his home in Britain.  While Helen insists that she is no historian, I was thoroughly impressed with  her attention to historical details and those tiny fragments of documented evidence. As the series went on, I found myself immersed in those small details and spent considerable time switching from the story google those little references. Now, for some that might not be considered a plus to the story telling, but for me, it was an awesome adventure into both the story and the actual historical theories about that time period!

When I chose her series, it was for the references to actual history and she did not let me down. Her way of weaving much of that history together made a great deal of sense to me. I especially like the turn she took in weaving Cerdic the Saxon into the story. That was the part I was most interested in from the beginning anyway! Historically, Cerdic’s genealogy and lineage were sketchy and there are theories that he may have been connected to the Romano Britons in some way… Helen went with that theory and it worked!

I highly suggest you read the series, and coincidentally, if you go to Helen’s web page, you will find the trilogy as this month’s feature!

Quote of the Month 

‘Arthur said, “Happy endings are only for lovers in Harpers’ tales.” ‘
from The Kingmaking

The kingmaking Helen hollick The Pendragon Banner 2 by helen hollickShadow of the king by helen hollick

http://www.helenhollick.net/index.html

In Helen’s journal, she has proclaimed August as Arthurian month and is offering a give away prize! So, all hail Arthur and Helen!!!

http://www.helenhollick.net/journal.html

 

 

 

 

Saxons, Romans, and Arthur

Previous post about Saxon history: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/from-odin-and-woden-to-anglo-saxons-in-britain/

king-arthur-tapestry King-Arthur-power-rule King-Arthur-2004-king-arthur-875455_1254_940

 

Before we head back to the Viking era, I just want to add some last added thoughts on the earlier realm of the Saxons, the Romans, and that ever elusive yet legendary man called Arthur who united the Britons in defending their world against those heathens the Saxons. The legend of this man is so tied to this time that one can not help but think of him when thinking about the era of the Saxons invading a crumbling and divided Britain. We have already looked at much of the history and seen what may have actually taken place with the Saxon arrival in Britain but those legends of Arthur are so steeped in that history and in peoples’ minds that we need to take one more look at him and those legends.

As I mentioned, I’ve already discussed much of this in earlier posts so this is just more of an update to all of that previous information! You can read a much earlier post on theories of Romans and King Arthur here:  https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

In my previous post about Saxon history, I mentioned movies and books that strip some of that myth and magic from the legends and attempt to give a slightly more historically accurate basis for the stories. I do say slightly more accurate because it is all of course, historical fiction! There are few if any remaining documentations of what actually took place during that time. The only truly accurate account of what happened would be ones from people on both sides who were actually there to witness that history taking place. As far as I know, no one has come across such eye witness accounts! What we have left are scattered remnants, bits and pieces of that history from early sagas and story tellers who were paid-much as current day story tellers- to create a glowing story of that bloody and dark part of history. Every story teller added to and changed the events to please the audience they were telling the story to.  Down trodden and beaten warriors wanted tales of glory, victories and battles. Ladies of the realms wanted romance, a knight in shining armor, a love story, the church wanted tales that would make them look good and the pagans look bad… and, so thus, the Bards wove the legends of Arthur and his Britons into all of those things, just as they do today!

We all know those stories, those fantasies of Arthur the legend. My search has been for more of what might have been the real stories behind the legends. I have stated before, that in every legend or myth, there are grains of truth, you just need to search for them.  When I read or watch historical fiction, I look for those small grains of truth.  I am like anyone else, I love a good story, but being one who is passionate about history, I do prefer those stories to some grain of truth or at least some sort of accuracy when dealing with historical events.  For that reason, I try to stick with authors that I trust, one who have put some significant research into the history that they are writing about. I have no qualm with them playing with timelines as needed in order to weave their story, I also have no problem with them weaving the events into their own story line- that is all to be expected in creating a good story. What I look for within or behind each story is an author’s reasoning and their ability to blend what might have happened to what actually did happen.

The legends of Arthur are so filled with myth, magic and fantasy that is difficult to separate that from the events that actually took place, the events that were the basis for the myths. In order to find some balance between those fantasies and the limited actual history, I have turned to some of those authors that I trust and looked at their stories of what might happened, could have happened. These two authors have given different versions of Arthur and the events surrounding his life, his rise to glory and his attempt to hold on to it.

I did mention the first author and his representation of Arthur in my previous post. I will refresh your memory here and highly recommend that you read his version. Bernard Cornwell gives us his version of Arthur in his Warlord series.

I found this book trailer for Winter King and the Warlord series and had to laugh when it included various clips from our Vikings and the King Arthur movie!

winter_king_uk-179x307

Uther, the High King, has died, leaving the infant Mordred as his only heir. His uncle, the loyal and gifted warlord Arthur, now rules as caretaker for a country which has fallen into chaos – threats emerge from within the British kingdoms while vicious Saxon armies stand ready to invade, As he struggles to unite Britain and hold back the enemy at the gates, Arthur is embroiled in a doomed romance with beautiful Guinevere. Will the old-world magic of Merlin be enough to turn the tide of war in his favour?

enemy of god Arthur book 2 by bernard cornwell

The balance of King Arthur’s unified kingdom is threatened by Merlin’s quest for the last of Britain’s 13 Treasures; by the conflict between the ancient religion and the new Christianity; and by Britain’s war with the Saxons. A master storyteller continues his retelling of the Arthurian legend.

Excalibur arthur book 3 by bernard cornwell

In The Winter King and Enemy of God Bernard Cornwell demonstrated his astonishing ability to make the oft-told legend of King Arthur fresh and new for our time. Now, in this riveting final volume of The Warlord Chronicles, Cornwell tells the unforgettable tale of Arthur’s final struggles against the Saxons and his last attempts to triumph over a ruined marriage and ravaged dreams.   This is the tale not only of a broken love remade, but also of forces both earthly and unearthly that threaten everything Arthur stands for. Peopled by princesses and bards, by warriors and magicians, Excalibur is the story of love, war, loyalty, and betrayal-the work of a magnificent storyteller at the height of his powers.

Bernard Cornwell does include some of the mythology of the legend with his inclusion of Merlin and others such as Nimue (Vivianne). He addresses the conflicts going on between the new religion of Christianity with the dying Pagan beliefs and how this as much as anything else worked to tear the kingdoms apart when they needed to be united against the Saxons.  While he includes that mythology, he also addresses the divisions of the kingdoms, the Roman influences that remained, the betrayals that took place as rulers attempted to hold on to their kingdoms by any means possible- including siding at times with the Saxons and attempting to pit the Saxons against each other. Cornwell looks at all of these things that were most likely actually occurring during that time. He gives us a more realistic picture of those legendary characters, flaws included! My personal favorite deviation from said legends is his portrayal of Lancelot as a vain and traitorous man whose main ambition was to be a King in order to enjoy the materialistic benefits it would bring him. Lancelot had excellent PR men, which he found within the church, and used them to extoll his “saintly” virtues.  The portrayal of Arthur as a man so focused on his role as protector and seeing only the good in people combines that legendary honor status of Arthur while showing the flaws of such belief. He refuses to see clearly what is going on around him, what treachery and deception other people that he trusts as loyal are capable of, that he makes serious mistakes in judgement and nearly defeats his purpose of uniting the kingdoms as a result.  I have not yet read the third book but am looking forward to seeing the conclusion to this version of Arthur and his history.

 

 a more basic and realistic representation. As she herself warns, you will find no magic or fantasy realm here. There is no mention of Merlin, Lancelot, or even Tristan and his beloved Isolde here. Helen Hollick admits freely that she is not an academic historian but she did do a great deal of research into the events of this time period to put together this version of who Arthur may have been, how he might have risen to his power and what might have happened as a result. For those of you looking for a glorious knight in shining armor full of honor and true goodness, this is probably not the book for you… This Arthur is full of flaws!  If you are looking for a romantic love story of Arthur and his true love, Guinevere, then this is probably not quite the right story for you either. Above all else, this Arthur is a warrior with high ambitions. He has a vision of being King as his Father was and he will do almost anything to achieve that goal. He does love his Gwenhwyfar but that love comes second or third to his first ambitions. He is definitely not a saint, he has a lust for all women- which he often acts on and then must suffer the consequences of those actions.  Some of those consequences include a number of jealous and spurned women as well as various offspring along the way.  Some readers have commented and complained that this series portrays women in such bad light as evil, manipulative types… What I get from this series so far is Helen Hollick showing that women could be just as malicious, devious and manipulative as men when it came to terms of them fighting for  power or wealth and status. They were not above using what ever means available to them to ensure they got what they felt they deserved, needed or desired.  This is a much a story of women’s wars against each other as it is about the battles or wars of men for a country or kingdom. The story of Arthur’s battles at time almost comes secondary to the power wars of these early women!

 

The kingmaking Helen hollick

As Uthr Pendragon battles to overthrow the tyrant Vortigern tragedy strikes. There is only one man who can lead Britain from the chaos of darkness into a new age of glory. Protected since birth, he is revealed as the new Pendragon.

The Pendragon Banner 2 by helen hollick

Who was the man
… who became the legend
… we know as
KING ARTHUR?

Pendragon’s Banner is the second book in Helen Hollick’s exciting King Arthur trilogy, covering 459-465 A.D. This is not a fairy tale or fantasy. There is no Merlin, no sword in the stone, and no Lancelot. This is the most accurate Arthurian legend ever written, based on historical evidence and meticulous research.

At age twenty-four, King Arthur has the kingdom he fought so hard for and a new young family. But keeping the throne of Britain—and keeping his wife and three sons safe—proves far from easy. Two enemies in particular threaten everything that is dear to him: Winifred, Arthur’s vindictive first wife, and Morgause, priestess of the Mother and malevolent Queen of the North. Both have royal ambitions of their own.

In this story of harsh battles, secret treasonous plots, and the life-threatening politics of early Britain’s dark ages, author Helen Hollick boldly reintroduces King Arthur as you’ve never seen him before.

PRAISE FOR PENDRAGON’S BANNER:

“Hollick’s interpretation is bold, affecting and well worth fighting to defend.”
Publishers Weekly

“Weaves together fact, legend, and inspired imagination to create a world so real we can breathe the smoke of its fires and revel in the Romano- British lust for life, love and honour.”
Historical Novel Review

“Camelot as it really was… a very talented writer.”
Sharon Kay Penman, bestselling author of Devil’s Brood

PRAISE FOR THE KINGMAKING:

“Hollick juggles a cast of characters and a bloody, tangled plot with great skill.”
Publishers Weekly

“If only all historical fiction could be this good.”
Historical Novels Review

“Stripped of its medieval trappings, the story of Arthur’s rise loses none of its legendary power… this [is a] well-researched, skillfully constructed trilogy opener.”
Library Journal

Shadow of the king by helen hollick

Arthur Pendragon is dead! His widow, Gwenhwyfar, faces overthrow by the powerful council headed by Arthur’s uncle, and a power struggle with his ex-wife Winifred. But, unknown to her, events in France and Germany mean that a far mightier battle is ahead.

 

I have only just started the second book in Helen Hollick’s series so I can not give a full review of all of them together but I can say that I am as equally impressed with Helen Hollick’s version as with Bernard Cornwell’s! The two authors give different representations and reasonings but both present a rather realistic portrayal of the events surrounding the legends. I have to say for now that I am slightly more in favor of Hollick’s version only because she has chosen to leave out the magic of Merlin in her telling of the story. I appreciate that Cornwell found a way to incorporate the myths and magic into his version but kind of wish that he hadn’t put so much focus on Merlin and his seemingly magical qualities. I understand his reasoning in wanting to include this mythology in some way but I think it takes a little away from the rest of the more realistic story he is presenting. He could have presented Merlin as the highly respected Druid that he might have been and even alluded to what ever mythology or magic that may have been associated with that belief system, much as he did with the other beliefs such as Mythros and Isis, and left it at that without involving his supposed mystical and magical qualities quite so much. I did also appreciate his portrayal of Tristan and Isolde in their doomed love affair with no myth or magic involved in it, just a sad story of two lovers who met a bad end.

What initially drew me to Hollick’s version of the legend was that in reading previews and summaries of her series, I was interested in the fact that she chose to include the stories of Hengist and Horsa, and Briton King Voltigern. Hollick’s version of the legend places Arthur in the middle of these events and gives us a version that weaves Arthur’s ambitions and actions into this historical event. It then allows for a telling that coincides with some historical theories that the later Saxon King Cerdic was probably of part Briton descent. I did address this history in the previous post on Saxon history so her weaving of the legend in this way made some sense to me.  Hollick’s version of Arthur places him in the earliest part of the Saxon arrival while Cornwell’s version put Arthur at a later time with Cerdic and another Saxon King Aelle fighting against each other for land and power.

Both Hollick and Cornwell make some reference and admissions as to how it is in some ways a situation that the Britons themselves created. In Hollick’s story, Arthur admits that were he in the same position of those Saxons such as Hengist being deceived and betrayed on land that was promised, he might have reacted in much the same way. This Arthur also concedes that Hengist had a right to promised lands and he honors that particular right, allowing him to retain those lands. Hollick’s  Arthur makes mention of the futile wish for peace between all and realizes that the Saxons are not going to disappear from their land.

 Both authors also both make excellent reference to the earlier Roman domination and remaining influences such as the architecture left behind. In Cornwell’s version, Arthur and his Guinever reside in one of those remaining villas, though the villas all are suffering from disrepair and neglect due to the fact that there are so few skilled artisans left to make any repairs. There is also much reference made to the beliefs of both Britons and Saxons not wanting to live in such stone buildings filled with spirits and ghosts of unknown nature. Another unfortunate side affect of the ongoing wars is that everyone was so focused on battles and surviving that they had little time, wealth or manpower left to devote to the upkeep of such places. 

My personal thought and suggestion is that you read both versions for a better understanding of  who Arthur might have been and those events that had a part in creating the legend and myth that he became!

 

If you are still craving the fantasy and the myth of Arthur, never fear… there is yet another version of that legend coming. Knights of the Roundtable, a feature film version of the story is currently in production with a scheduled release date in 2016. It is being directed by Guy Ritchie, written by Joby Harold and stars at this time include Katie McGrath, Charlie Hunnam, and Jude Law. It was recently announced too that David Beckham will make an appearance. For full details on the cast, see here:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3496992/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast

The young Arthur runs the back passages of Londonium with his crew, not knowing his royal lineage until he grabs Excalibur. Instantly confronted by the sword’s influence, Arthur is forced to make up his mind. He joins the rebellion and a shadowy young woman named Guinevere, he must learn to understand the magic weapon, deal with his demons and unite the people to defeat the dictator Vortigern, the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king.

Some production photos have been released:

'Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur' filming in Wales Featuring: Atmosphere Where: Conwy, United Kingdom When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: WENN.com

‘Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur’ filming in Wales
Featuring: Atmosphere
Where: Conwy, United Kingdom
When: 14 Apr 2015
Credit: WENN.com

'Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur' filming in Wales Featuring: Jude Law Where: Conwy, United Kingdom When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: WENN.com

‘Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur’ filming in Wales
Featuring: Jude Law
Where: Conwy, United Kingdom
When: 14 Apr 2015
Credit: WENN.com

'Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur' filming in Wales Featuring: Guy Ritchie Where: Conwy, United Kingdom When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: WENN.com

‘Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur’ filming in Wales
Featuring: Guy Ritchie
Where: Conwy, United Kingdom
When: 14 Apr 2015
Credit: WENN.com

'Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur' filming in Wales Featuring: Atmosphere Where: Conwy, United Kingdom When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: WENN.com

‘Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur’ filming in Wales
Featuring: Atmosphere
Where: Conwy, United Kingdom
When: 14 Apr 2015
Credit: WENN.com

'Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur' filming in Wales Featuring: Jude Law Where: Conwy, United Kingdom When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: WENN.com

‘Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur’ filming in Wales
Featuring: Jude Law
Where: Conwy, United Kingdom
When: 14 Apr 2015
Credit: WENN.com

'Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur' filming in Wales Featuring: Jude Law, Eric Bana, Poppy Delavingne Where: Conwy, United Kingdom When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: WENN.com

‘Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur’ filming in Wales
Featuring: Jude Law, Eric Bana, Poppy Delavingne
Where: Conwy, United Kingdom
When: 14 Apr 2015
Credit: WENN.com

Filming 'The Knights of the Round Table:King Arthur'  in Wales Featuring: Guy Ritchie Where: Conwy, United Kingdom When: 14 Apr 2015 Credit: WENN.com

Filming ‘The Knights of the Round Table:King Arthur’ in Wales
Featuring: Guy Ritchie
Where: Conwy, United Kingdom
When: 14 Apr 2015
Credit: WENN.com

In January 2014, Warner Bros set Guy Ritchie to direct a new multi-film version of the King Arthur legend. The first film titled Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur,  with Lionel Wigram as producer and Joby Harold as screenwriter,  is the first installment of a planned six films series, and is scheduled for a July 22, 2016 release.  Idris Elba was in talks to play a Merlin-esque figure who trains and mentors Arthur. When Elba did not sign on to the film, the director continued to look for an actor to play the role.Charlie Hunnam, Ritchie’s choice for the role, will play King Arthur.  Elizabeth Olsen was in talks for the female lead.  However, on September 18, it was Àstrid Bergès-Frisbey who was added to the cast of to play Guinevere.  On November 14, Jude Law was in talks to play the lead villain role in the film.  On February 11, 2015, Eric Bana was added to the cast to play Uther, the father of King Arthur.  Mikael Persbrandt joined the film on March 6, 2015 to play a villainous role.   Filming in Windsor Great Park was underway in February 2015, then later in North Wales from March 2, 2015.  Later on March 10, 2015, Ritchie tweeted a photo and confirmed the first day of shooting  In April 2015, filming took place in Snowdonia, where locations used were Tryfan, Nant Gwynant near Beddgelert and Capel Curig.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_of_the_Roundtable:_King_Arthur

From what little plot or story information that is yet available, all I can surmise is that this will be more myth and fantasy than any real historical basis other than mention of said King Vortigern playing some part in it. That is fine too, we all enjoy some fantasy in our life along with the more real stories! It looks interesting so far!

 

 

 

 

From Odin and Woden to Anglo-Saxons in Britain

wodin and his followers

woden and his followers

 

 

saxon right to rule2

In my previous article on kings and dynasties, I stated that I would look at each group separately in more depth.  In order to better understand the Anglo-Saxon rule in England, we need to have some history on who the Angles, the Saxons and Jutes were, and how they came to England in the first place.  This article is a brief look at that history.

You can view the previous article here: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/15/i-am-king-really-why-and-how/

I am King

Before we get into the rulers and their divine right to rule, we need to look briefly at the history of the kingdoms, the people and how they came to be in Britain. We will look at the Angles, the Saxons, and yes even the Jutes who seem to get overlooked and forgotten in the discussions of early Britain, I am also going to include a segment on one other group that gets mixed in with the rest but does have it’s own separate identity… that would be a group of Geats from the area of Sweden who made their contribution via the Wulfinga tribe who would settle in part of Britain.  I am including this group for two reasons. They did play an important part in the history of  Britain, and one of our past rulers was presumably a part of this group. The unfortunate Jarl Borg  belonged  to a distinctive Norse tribe known as the Gautar, a people referred to in English works such as Beowulf and Widsith as the ‘Geats’, and related to the Germanic Goth tribes which invaded the western Roman Empire. The Gautar have since been assimilated by the Swedes in the Medieval period.  Jarl Borg, as a powerful Geatish lord of near-kingly powers, may have been a member of the royal clan of the Wulfings (descendents of the wolf) who traditionally ruled over the Gautar of Ostergotland.

Sam Newton and others (including Rupert Bruce-Mitford), have proposed that the East Anglian Wuffing dynasty was derived from the Wulfings, and it was at their court that Beowulf was first composed.  

The Wuffingas, Uffingas or Wuffings were the ruling dynasty of East Anglia, the long-lived Anglo-Saxon kingdom which today includes the English counties of Norfolk and Suffolk. The Wuffingas took their name from Wuffa, an early East Anglian king. Nothing is known of the members of the dynasty before Rædwald, who ruled from about 599 to circa 624. The Viking invasions of the ninth century destroyed the monasteries in East Anglia where many documents relating to the rule of the Wuffingas would have been kept.

The last of the Wuffingas kings was Ælfwald, who died in 749 and who was succeeded by kings whose lineage is unknown.  The kingdom of East Anglia was settled by peoples from northern Europe during the 5th and 6th centuries. Historical sources relating to the genealogy of the East Anglian kings include the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and Bede‘s Ecclesiastical History, both compiled many years after the kingdom was formed, as well as lists produced by medieval historians, such as the 12th century Textus Roffensis, who may have had access to other sources that are now lost. Several of the Wuffingas kings are included in a pedigree of Ælfwald, contained in the Anglian collection that dates from the 9th century. In the pedigree, Ælfwald is claimed to descend from the god Wōden.

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

jarl borg caressing his wife's skull

jarl borg caressing his wife’s skull

jarl borg planning revenge

jarl borg planning revenge

In my previous article about Horik and Ragnar, I did touch on the beginnings of the Angles and Saxons in Britain with their migration from their homelands as the Danish or Dani began to take over those areas.  This migration  included Jutes and Geats from the southern area of what is now Sweden. Keep in mind that this migration took place centuries prior to the Viking arrivals in late 700s and 800s. These earliest migrations began as the Romans were fighting to maintain control of this outpost known as Britannia. Another important fact to remember for our purposes here is that we are not looking at the areas of Wales, Cornwall, Scotland or Ireland in this discussion.

Little is really known about the Jutes, their migration to Britain or their eventual demise in that land. They most likely joined with their neighbors, the Angles and Saxons in the relocation to Britain when the Danes and Franks became more powerful and took over the home lands.  It is possible that the Jutes are a related people to the Geats and a Gothic people as it is mentioned in the Gutasaga that some inhabitants of Gotland left for mainland Europe. Large grave sites were found at Willenberg, Prussia (now Wielbark, Poland). The finds were attributed to the ancient Gutones, who may speculatively belinked to the much later Goths.

They settled in smaller  southern areas of England,  kent and Isle of  Whight.  If you look at this map of Anglo-Saxon England, you can see that Kent is fairly close to east Anglia where the Geats (Wulfings) settled. If the two groups were related or connected to each other, it would stand to reason that they re-settle in some close proximity.

The Jutes were a smaller group than the others and they seem to have rather quickly been assimilated into those larger groups, losing most of their previous individual history or identity. While it is commonplace to detect their influences in Kent (for example, the practice of partible inheritance known as gavelkind), the Jutes in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight vanished, probably assimilated to the surrounding Saxons, leaving only the slightest of traces.  The culture of the Jutes of Kent shows more signs of Roman, Frankish, and Christian influence than that of the Angles or Saxons. Funerary evidence indicates that the pagan practice of cremation ceased relatively early and jewellery recovered from graves has affinities with Rhenish styles from the Continent, perhaps suggesting close commercial connections with Francia. It is possible that being such a small group that they were more quickly assimilated into the Christian beliefs and culture as well. Some early historians speculated that they were victims of Ethnic cleansing by the West Saxons but later theories suggest that it was more a case of them assimilating themselves into the larger groups. What ever the reason, they disappeared as a group early on and played no role in the later settlements of  England by the Anglo-Saxons.

East-Anglia-11

 

 

Angles-Saxons-Jutes-&-Frisians during roman occupation of Britannia   map

Angles-Saxons-Jutes-&-Frisians during roman occupation of Britannia map

For our discussion, we are only going to focus on those areas that the Jutes, Angles and Saxons would conquer and settle in.  The following is an early map of  the home lands that the Jutes, Saxons and Angles occupied prior to the Danes took them over.

Angles_saxons_jutes in northland  map

Angles_saxons_jutes in northland map

This map gives a breakdown of where they originally settled in Roman era Brittania.

Anglo_saxon_jute breakdown in Britain map

Anglo_saxon_jute breakdown in Britain map

By the early 600s, this is what the kingdoms and settlements were beginning to look like with this, Angles and Saxons controlling much of the area and Jutes holding on to a few small portions. The native Britons were relegated to the areas of Whales and Scotland at that time. This is a precursor to the four main kingdoms that would remain and become vital power players in the future. By the  800s it would become Wessex, Mercia and Northumbria, with East Anglia remaining a small separate entity.

Angles,_Saxons,_Jutes_in_Britain_year_600  map

Angles,_Saxons,_Jutes_in_Britain_year_600 map

This is what the land looked like by late 700s, early 800s in the time of Ecbert.

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

Egbert_of_Wessex_map

 

 

The Romans left Britannia in the early 400s as the Angles, Saxons and Jutes began their migration to the area.  They left behind their buildings, their roadways, some of their culture and they left behind  their religion as well. By the time the Romans left Brittania, they were Christians. Some of their citizens and their priests would have chosen to stay in this land that they now considered home. As they became assimilated into the new cultures taking over the land, they would most likely have begun the process of  slowly merging and weaving together the two separate belief systems into a form of Christianity that those North people would understand and accept. By the 800s when the second wave of Northmen arrived, these earlier invaders and settlers had become  fully immersed in the Christian belief system with their previous Nordic beliefs long forgotten, set aside or kept secret. There would have been remaining sects and pockets of those who followed the old ways but this would have been in the more isolated, rural areas and even then, they would have kept it at a low profile so as not to draw attention or recrimination from the Church, which was becoming so much more powerful and controlling.

 

First we should look at the original migration of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes from their homeland to the areas that they each ultimately settled in Britain. They all came from the same general area, probably spoke the same language and most importantly, held the same beliefs. All of these early tribes followed Odin or Woden and they took their belief system with them to Brittania. The only difference in the belief system is that the Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain  followed this God as Woden while those who remained in the homeland used the word Odin..  Woden would eventually play an important part in determining the rulers of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms.

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

gods of our saxon gods 1.sun god 2. moon god 3.god tiw 4. woden

The ancestor of the South Saxon kings, Woden was born at the beginning of time, his parents being the giant, Bor, and the giantess, Bestia, who came from chaos.

Woden was the Father God, the god of battle and death, the god of inspiration and wit, and, far from least, he was the god of learning. Woden was also the psychopomp of slain warriors, taking them back to Valhalla, his hall of the brave. Valhalla was situated in a joyous land called Gladheim, where Woden also had another hall with twelve thrones upon which were seated his councillors.

Woden was the great chief of the Aesir, a race of war gods who lived in Asgarth, the world of divinities. The god-chief had two ravens, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), who told him all that had happened in Milgard, the world of mortals.

Woden was in wedlock with Frigg, the goddess of fertility, conjugal love and motherhood.

Their eldest son, Balder, was the favourite of all the other gods and known for his matchless beauty and sweetness of character. He was the god of plants and good forces. He lived in a hall called Breithablik with his wife, the daughter of the god Nepr, and her name was Nanna. Forseti, their son, was the god of justice, peace and truth. He had a throne in his hall. This residence was called Glitnir, a palace which was embellished with silver and gold.

Balder was killed unintentionally by his blind brother, the god Hoder, with a bough of mistletoe, having been misled by the malicious Loki, the god of mischief, destruction and fire.

Woden and Frigg had another son who was killed in combat at the battle of Ragnasok. His name was Hermod. Since he had no children and nor did Hoder, presumably Aelle and Mealla (if they were royal) would have claimed descent from Woden through his grandson, Forseti. Woden also had a natural son called Vithar, by his concubine Grithir, who was a giantess.

Norway_Fjords woden

According to Norwegian myth the mountain caves in this land of fjords are peopled by supernatural giants called trolls, although they sometimes appear as dwarfs. Tradition also says that they read the Old Testament. Perhaps trolls derive their ancestry from a distant memory of neanderthals, as might the giants who are said to have existed in the chaos before the birth of Woden.

The traditional view has always been presented that the Anglo-Saxons made a great invasion of the land, destroyed everything in their path and took it over completely, wiping out all of the previous inhabitants or causing them to flee to the wilds and desolation of the west and northern portions. We have been told that, much like the second wave of Vikings, they were marauding, murderous heathenish Barbarians. This traditional view is slanted and biased in favor of the Romans, and the Christians who were able to write down their versions of what happened during that era. As with any history, there are two sides to every event and the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Were there great battles, burnings, pillaging and death? Yes, of course there were- on all sides.  If you were a villager or farmer of that time, you may not have even been sure quite who was destroying your life. You might have imagined that it was that group of Barbarians, those Saxons that your overlord mentioned… but you may not have been aware of what your overlord had previously done to incur that wrath? You may not even have completely understood all of the groups waging war against each other, or that those Saxons were aiding some neighboring kingdom that your ruler had caused to create an enemy of. If you survived to tell of the battle, your recollection would be only of what you experienced first hand, or what your ruler told you was the cause. You would have known little or nothing about any underlying reasons and you most likely have not cared because in your small world, you would have gone on with your struggle for life in those bleak and uncertain times.

 

The Romans had been in control of the area for 350 years by the time they decided to leave. What happened in Britannia should hold the Romans as much or even more accountable and responsible than the Anglo-Saxons. They left the territory in a vulnerable state, having already destroyed and weakened the native Britons’ ability to rule or govern for themselves. What followed was chaos that left the remaining residents fighting amongst themselves for control of the area. As I’ve already mentioned, some Romans chose to remain as they now considered themselves more Briton than Roman.  Many of them held bitterness and resentment of the Roman Empire for what happened. One other thing to consider is that many  of those who remained may also have been soldiers who had been conscripted into the Roman army from all parts of the Empire, probably including those places of the Saxons, Angles and Jutes.  Just because one was attached to the Roman Empire it did not necessarily mean they were Roman or even a Roman citizen.  When the Roman Empire began to fall, many one time citizens or allies would probably have returned their allegiance to what ever home land they were from originally or the land they were residing in when the fall came. Those Romans that remained became Romo-Britons, and retained their previous elite statuses and lands for some time. They became part of the Briton elite rulers who were trying to re-build and re-establish kingdoms within the country.  Rome made Britain a melting pot of cultures before the Saxons ever thought of arriving.

If you search through the histories to find that in between middle ground, you will find that the Saxons were not unknown to the Roman Empire or the Britons, nor were they necessarily the barbarians they were depicted as other than for the fact they were one of the many groups rebelling against the Roman Empire at the time. The Saxons were at one time part of that Empire, having been brought into it by the Foederati or treaty system that the Romans used to increase their armies. foederati and its usage and meaning was extended by the Roman practice of subsidizing entire barbarian tribes — which included the Franks, Vandals, Alans and, best known, the Visigoths — in exchange for providing warriors to fight in the Roman armies. Alaric began his career leading a band of Gothic foederati.

Saxons were mentioned as early as 350 by the Romans who were already dealing with Saxon defiance to their rule. It was during that time that Rome created a military district called the Litus Saxonicum (“Saxon Coast”) on both sides of the English Channel.  The Saxons were fighting ongoing battles against the Franks who were Roman allies.  It is possible that Saxon settlement of Great Britain began only in response to expanding Frankish control of the Channel coast.  An important clue to why the Saxons might have felt some justification in their continuing settlement of Britain is that before the end of Roman rule in Britannia, many Saxons and other folk had been permitted to settle in these areas as farmers. The Romans opened the door for them to move in…. perhaps because they were already thinking of  pulling out of the area and did not really care so much about who moved in next. The Romans may have thought that if the Saxon groups moved into Britain, they would be less of a threat on the rest of the continent.  For the retreating Romans, it may have been a case of “Fine, you want a place of your own…Here take this place and Good Luck with that!”

 

After the Romans retreated from Britannia, some of the remaining powers continued to use the Roman system and still maintained some connection to Rome even though The Roman Empire had made it clear that those who remained in this place would be on their own and should not expect assistance from Rome. At some point they did appeal to Rome for assistance in fighting the Picts and Scoti, and this is possibly how the Saxons entered the picture on a larger scale. They were not marauding invaders, they were invited into the country by both the Romans and the later rulers of Britain!

This early documentation by Gildas in the 6th century is interesting because while he does refer to the Saxons as enemies, he admits that they were invited- hired to help, and he gives a clue as to what the middle ground may have been.

In Gildas‘s work of the sixth century, De Excidio et Conquestu Britanniae, a religious tract on the state of Britain, the Saxons were enemies originally from overseas, who brought well-deserved judgement upon the local kings or ‘tyrants’.

  1. After an appeal to Aëtius the Britons were gripped by famine while suffering attacks from the Picts and Scoti; some fought back successfully, leading to a period of peace.
  2. Peace led to luxuria and self-indulgence.
  3. A renewed attack was threatened by the Picts and Scoti, and this led to a council, where it was proposed and agreed that land in the east would be given to the Saxons on the basis of a treaty, a foedus, by which the Saxons would defend the Britons in exchange for food supplies. This type of arrangement was unexceptional in a Late Roman context; Franks had been settled as foederati on imperial territory in northern Gaul (Toxandria) in the 4th century, and the Visigoths were settled in Gallia Aquitania early in the 5th century.
  4. The Saxon foederati first complained that their monthly supplies were inadequate. Then they threatened to break the treaty, which they did, spreading the onslaught from “sea to sea”.
  5. This war, which Higham called the “War of the Saxon Federates”, ended some 20–30 years later shortly after the siege at Montis Badonici, and some 40 years before Gildas was born.
  6. There was a peace with the Saxons who returned to their eastern home, which Gildas called a lugubre divortium barbarorum – a grievous divorce with the barbarians. The “divorce settlement”, Higham in particular argued  was a better treaty and the ability to get tribute from the people in the east, under the leadership of the person Gildas called pater diabolus or Father-devil.

What this excerpt tells us is the Britons hired the Saxons, promised them  payment and supplies and then were unable or unwilling to carry through on the treaty. Other early writings mention that the Saxons were also promised land to settle and the Britons reneged on that as well. What ensued was a lengthy period of wars and battles between the Britons and the Saxons.

Gildas described the corruption of the elite: “Britain has kings but they are tyrants; she has judges but they are wicked”. This passage provides a glimpse into the world of Gildas, he continued: “they plunder and terrorise the innocent, they defend and protect the guilty and thieving, they have many wives, whores and adulteresses, swear false oaths, tell lies, reward thieves, sit with murderous men, despise the humble, their commanders are ‘enemies of God'”; the list is long. Interesting oath breaking and the absence of just judgements for ordinary people was mentioned a number of times. British leadership, everywhere, was immoral and the cause of the “ruin of Britain”.

Hengist and Horsa:

HegestAndHorsa hengist and horsa

The earliest accounts of the Saxon arrival are stories or legends regarding two Saxon brothers, Hengist and Horsa.  Bear in mind that these accounts were not written down until centuries later.  Both Anglo-Saxon chronicles and Norse Sagas give versions or accounts of the men.  Hengist and Horsa are figures of Anglo-Saxon history, which records the two as the Germanic brothers who led the Angle, Saxon, Frisian, and Jutish armies that conquered the first territories of Britain in the 5th century. Tradition lists Hengist (through his son, whose name varies by source) as the founder of the Kingdom of Kent. As with most of the stories, theirs was colored by the Christian Monks recording history of the time. What you need to do is strip all of that coloring away down the most basic part of the account. 

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle entry for the year 449 records that Hengest and Horsa were invited to Britain by Vortigern to assist his forces in fighting the Picts. Hengist and Horsa arrived at a place called Ipwinesfleet, and went on to defeat the Picts wherever they fought them. Hengist and Horsa sent word to the Angles describing “the worthlessness of the Britons, and the richness of the land” and asked for assistance. Their request was granted and support arrived. Afterward, more people arrived in Britain from “the three powers of Germany; the Old Saxons, the Angles, and the Jutes”. The Old Saxons populated the areas of the kingdoms of Essex, Sussex and Wessex. The Jutes populated the area of Kent, the Isle of Wight and an area of the adjacent mainland that would later be part of Wessex. The East Angles, Middle Angles, Mercians and “all those north of Humber” arrived from the region of Anglia (a peninsula in Southern Schleswig, Northern Germany) “which has ever since remained waste between the Jutes and Saxons”. These forces were led by the brothers Hengist and Horsa, sons of Wihtgils, son of Witta, son of Wecta, son of Woden.

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

The Historia Brittonum records that, during the reign of Vortigern in Britain, three vessels that had been exiled from Germania arrived in Britain, commanded by Hengist and Horsa. The Historia Brittonum details that Geta was said to be the son of a god, yet “not of the omnipotent God and our Lord Jesus Christ,” but rather “the offspring of one of their idols, and whom, blinded by some demon, they worshipped according to the custom of the heathen.” In 447 AD, Vortigern received Hengist and Horsa “as friends” and gave to the brothers the Isle of Thanet.

After the Saxons had lived on Thanet for “some time” Vortigern promised them supplies of clothing and other provisions on condition that the Saxons assist him in fighting the enemies of his country. The Saxons increased in number and the Britons were unable to keep their agreement. The Britons told the Saxons that the Saxons’ numbers had increased, that they no longer needed Saxon assistance and that the Saxons should go home as the Britons could no longer support them.

Vortigern allowed Hengist to send for more of Hengist’s countrymen to come over to Britain and fight for Vortigern. Messengers were sent to “Scythia“, where “a number” of warriors were selected, and, with sixteen ships, the messengers returned. With the men came Hengist’s beautiful daughter. Hengist prepared a feast, inviting Vortigern, Vortigern’s officers, and Ceretic, his translator. Prior to the feast, Hengist enjoined his daughter to serve the guests plenty of wine and ale so that they would get very intoxicated. The plan succeeded. “At the instigation of the Devil”, Vortigern fell in love with Hengist’s daughter and promised Hengist whatever he liked in exchange for her betrothal. Hengist, having previously “consulted with the Elders who attended him of the Angle race,” demanded Kent. Without the knowledge of the then-ruler of Kent, Vortigern agreed.

This account by the Historia Brittonum is somewhat contradictory at best… If Vortigern wanted them out of the country, why would he have then allowed them to send for additional forces? What is does do though, along with other accounts is set a basis for the British Kings reneging on their promises to those Saxons they needed help from. Hengist most likely knew full well of this breech and responded in kind with his own betrayals.  The British Kingdoms were not just fighting the Picts and Scoti, they were fighting each other and would go to such lengths as using Saxon mercenaries to win their battles. What eventually happened was that the Anglo-Saxons fought to retain lands they had been given, as well as developing allegiances with some of those British Kingdoms.

 

I am providing this history of the Anglo-Saxon immigration to Britain because I feel it is important to see them in that middle ground of a history that has often portrayed them as the scourge of Britain. It is difficult to piece together what might have happened but many historians today have searched for that middle ground, that in between, those few grains of possible truth sifted out from the extremes.  There a number of theories on how and why the Anglo-Saxons may have become the dominant culture in Britain where by the 8th century, they were viewed as the locals and native Britons were viewed as outsiders or foriegners.  The name Welsh originated as an exonym given to its speakers by the Anglo-Saxons, meaning “foreign speech” (see Walha). The native term for the language is Cymraeg and Cymru for “Wales”.

Most agree now that they did not come in all in one invading force and wipe out the previous culture. It began as a small migration and settlement of them in places where they had been given land. The Roman Britons did not disappear, nor did the native Britons.  A  last battle took place between the original Saxon mercenaries and the Britons- a battle which the Saxons felt justified in fighting because of broken treaties.  the Saxons lost this last battle but were not defeated, decimated or thrown out of the country. A compromise seemed to have been reached and lands were divided up between the British elite rulers and the Saxons. 

Historian Nick Higham is convinced that the success of the Anglo-Saxon elite in gaining an early compromise shortly after the Battle of Badon is a key to the success of the culture. This produced a political ascendancy across the south and east of Britain, which in turn required some structure to be successful.  After this time there began the process of cultures merging together to form one new one.  The Bretwalda concept is taken as evidence for a presence of a number of early Anglo-Saxon elite families and a clear unitary oversight. Whether the majority of these leaders were early settlers, descendant from settlers, or especially after the exploration stage they were Roman-British leaders who adopted Anglo-Saxon culture is unclear. The balance of opinion is that most were migrants, although it shouldn’t be assumed they were all “Germanic”. There is agreement: that these were small in number and proportion, yet large enough in power and influence to ensure “Anglo-Saxon” acculturation in the lowlands of Britain.  Most historians believe these elites were those named by Bede, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and others, although there is discussion regarding their floruit dates. Importantly, whatever their origin or when they flourished, they established their claim to lordship through their links to extended kin ties. As Helen Peake jokingly points out “they all just happened to be related back to Woden”.

For a more in depth and detailed look at the Anglo-Saxon migration and theories of why they were so successful, you can start your search here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-Saxon_settlement_of_Britain

Throughout history, the reputation of those earliest Saxons has been colored by the Christian accounts of them as heathens and barbarians that destroyed a land and culture… what is interesting and important to remember is that those same Christians were  in the process of completely wiping out that culture and belief system that they were blaming the Saxons for.  The Christians had already cleared the land of much of it’s previous beliefs by decimating and eliminating the old religious leaders- the Druids and driving out the followers who still clung to those beliefs. Those early Christian leaders were as much responsible for the terror and dark ages that would follow as the Saxons were.

The early Christians shaped our history by shaping our tales, our legends and myths of that time. They were responsible for such tales as the brave and virtuous King Arthur, his valiant knights of the round table who fought evil, injustice and the barbarians in effort to save England, to unite it against all of those evil and demonic forces. We all know those legends and myths that portray the Christian brotherhood in glory and present the Saxons as some of those evil invaders…  And, somewhere even in those tales there are probably small grains of truth as to possible figures of who Arthur might have been or represented, of battles that probably did actually take place. There are a number of King Arthur theories relating to the history of Britain during those dark ages. If you are interested, I have a previous article for you to read:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

I would also suggest that you read Bernard Cornwell’s series on King Arthur. He strips away much of the myth and legend, and tells a tale more of the history and the battles that ensued after Rome left. He still leaves the Saxons in a rather bad light but he does not paint such a perfect picture of Arthur or the Britons either, so it kind of evens out the story a bit. It is an interesting perspective on the legend and does take into account the long lasting Roman influences left behind!

 

winter_king_uk-179x307

‘Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened . . . . and I was there, and this is how it was.’ The Winter King , like the rest of the trilogy, is narrated by Derfel (which is pronounced Dervel), one of Arthur’s warriors. This first book tells how after the death of Uther, High King of Britain, the country falls into chaos. Uther’s heir is a child, Mordred, and Arthur, his uncle, is named one of the boy’s guardians. Arthur has to fight other British kingdoms and the dreadful “Sais” – the Saxons – who are invading Britain. Arthur is supposed to marry Ceinwyn, a princess of Powys, but falls disastrously in love with Guinevere – ‘There have been many more beautiful women, and thousands who were better, but since the world was weaned I doubt there have been many so unforgettable as Guinevere . . . and it would have been better, Merlin always said, had she been drowned at birth.’

 To read an interview  with the Camelot Project, click on this link:  http://d.lib.rochester.edu/camelot/text/thompson-interview-cornwell

For another perspective on the story of Arthur and the Roman involvement, you could also watch one of my favorite movies…

Movie_poster_king_arthur

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur_(film)

King Arthur is a 2004 action adventure film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, and Keira Knightley as Guinevere.  The film is unusual in reinterpreting Arthur as a Roman officer rather than a medieval knight. Despite these departures from the source material, the Welsh Mabinogion, the producers of the film attempted to market it as a more historically accurate version of the Arthurian legends, supposedly inspired by new archaeological findings. The film was shot in England, Ireland, and Wales.  It gives a somewhat more historical perspective as well, but does still put the Saxons in the role as sole villains. I watched it recently while researching this history and found myself more seriously bothered by this representation than before! I am still searching for some sort of story that portrays the Saxons in a slightly more positive or at least more balanced light?

In the above movie, the Saxons are represented by their leader Cerdic and his son Cinric… They are of course the vicious torturing villains that we have come to expect Saxons to be. Of interesting note for Vikings fans, Cerdic is played by Stellan Skarsgard- father of Gustav Skarsgard who does such an incredible job portraying Floki!

stellan skarsgard cerdic4

In history, Cerdic was Cerdic was allegedly the first King of Anglo-Saxon Wessex from 519 to 534, cited by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle as the founder of the Kingdom of Wessex and ancestor of all its subsequent kings… which of course would feasibly include Ecbert. I say feasibly because there was some dispute as to whether Ecbert was actually a d descendant.

The most interesting and curious thing about Cerdic’s history is that while his supposed royal pedigree traced him back to Woden, just as all of the other rulers’ did, it seems to have been added later. Historians think that at some point there was forged and alliance between him and  Bernicia, and he conveniently borrowed the earlier pedigree of Bernicia, tacking it on to his own. The reason for this was to perhaps give himself more of a royal/divine lineage than he might have originally had.  There is currently a thought that he was actually  was a native Briton, and that his dynasty became Anglicised over time.   This suggests that ethnicity was possibly not as important in the establishment of rulership within the proto-states of Post-Roman Britain as has been traditionally thought. Cerdic’s father, Elesa, has been identified by some scholars with the Romano-Briton Elasius, the “chief of the region”, met by Germanus of Auxerre. 

J.N.L. Myres noted that when Cerdic and Cynric first appear in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle in s.a. 495 they are described as ealdormen, which at that point in time was a fairly junior rank.   Myres believed that,

It is thus possible … to think of Cerdic as the head of a partly British noble family with extensive territorial interests at the western end of the Litus Saxonicum. As such he may well have been entrusted in the last days of Roman, or sub-Roman authority with its defence. He would then be what in later Anglo-Saxon terminology could be described as an ealdorman. …

Some would disagree with Myres, as Cerdic is reported to have landed in Hampshire. Some also would say that the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle proves that Cerdic was indeed a Saxon, however it does not prove that he had no Celtic blood.  Some scholars believe it likely that his mother was a British Celt who left for the Continent, or perhaps a Continental Celt. Geoffrey Ashe postulates he may be a son of Riothamus.

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

Despite the conflictin history surrounding his origins, Descent from Cerdic became a necessary criterion for later kings of Wessex, and Egbert of Wessex, progenitor of the English royal house and subsequent rulers of England and Britain, claimed him as an ancestor.  As I mentioned, Egbert’s claim was dubious and is thought  by some to have been fabricated during his early reign  or his bid for that right to give him more legitimacy in his claim. Whether fabricated or not, it was accepted and he was allowed to trace his right back to Cerdic and to Woden….

cerdic is not happy

 

What ever the reasons or theories behind the Anglo-Saxons in Britain,  one thing is certain and evident. As a group, they succeeded where Rome and even the Britons themselves  failed. They entered into a land that even the Roman Empire had failed to conquer and succeeded for the most, so well that in the future they would be looked at as the locals and the native Britons would be considered the outsiders. They succeeded so well in fact that in the future, when the second wave of Northmen arrived on their shores, they looked at them as foreign Heathenish Barbarians.  By the time the Vikings arrived in the late 700s and into the 800s, the Anglo-Saxons had become a completely different culture and society that bore little or no resemblance what so ever to the past they had left behind.  But, had they truly left the past behind them, forgotten who they were originally?

 the Norse Sagas regarding Ragnar Lodbrok give reason to believe that perhaps these Saxons, Angles and Jutes had not completely forgotten their past or their heritage. Some versions of the sagas include passages that comment on how Ragnar’s Father, Sigurd Hring once counted a part of England as part of his realm. Another saga source also mentions that Ragnar Lodbrok went to the place in Angleland of which his forefathers owned.  This would tie in with the fact that the Angles who had originated in lands around Denmark had already migrated to parts of Britain as early as the 5th century. He visited this Angleland and was initially welcomed into their court of royalty. Then he was lured into visiting King Aelle in Northumbria and was murdered by him. I have addressed this connection in my previous article about Horik and Ragnar.

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

The Angles were thought to be allies at one time with the early Danes who took over their land and were a partial cause for them migrating to Britain. The Saxons were in a similar situation at the time of their migration to Britain. As the Danes became stronger and more powerful, they began to overtake those lands and cultures near to them- mainly the Angles and Saxons, but they also took over much of Juteland as well causing these three cultures to migrate to that land which held more opportunity for them. It does stand to reason that these people would continue to hold some grudge or resentment of those who were initially responsible for their relocation in the first place. They may have assimilated into some new culture, but they would probably have their own old oral  histories of a past that included tales of this distant ancestral land that had been taken over by those others… some of those oral histories are included in poems and heroic stories such as Beowulf, Wulf and Eadwacer and Judith.  Another such early work is that of Widsith  from the Exeter book. The Widsith is an old poem that surveys the people  kings, and heroes of Europe in the Heroic Age of Northern Europe.

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

 

I hope that I have not bored you or overwhelmed you too much with the history of these earliest Saxons. As I keep mentioning, it is important to know some of their history and see both sides of it considering the fact that they did integrate so fully and deeply into the culture that it became their own. As they settled into this new culture and land, they forged those alliances with the remaining British Rulers, became rulers of their own kingdoms and quite quickly took on the Christian religion once they realized the power behind that force. That is not to say that the Christian missionaries had any easy time of converting the Anglo-Saxons. What the Church did in order to accomplish this feat would leave long lingering misgivings and resentments from other Christian Kingdoms and dynasties. The Church had an extremely difficult time converting these Heathens, and resorted to the practice of diluting their religion into terms that the Pagan Saxons would accept. They set about comparing their Christ God to Woden, to telling their testaments and stories in relation to Woden and even went so far as to accept and approve of those earliest Saxon Rulers having divine right to rule on the basis of their genealogy connecting them back to being sons of Woden!  Eventually all of the Anglo-Saxon Rulers of those early Kingdoms of Britain would prove their right by tracing their lineage back to Woden and the Church put it’s stamp of approval on this, in fact in some ways encouraged it. There had to be some way of proving right to rule other than just by might in order to maintain some stability and not descend into the chaos once again. In the future, other loyal and Royal Christian dynasties would decry this as giving in to those Pagans, view it as watering down the religion and hold little regard for these so called  new Christian Royals.

Before we look at what the Kingdoms became and looked like in the time of our Anglo-Saxon Rulers such as Ecbert, Aelle, and yes even Kweni, I want to suggest an interesting documentary about the early Saxons and how their religion evolved. 

This is a preview clip of the documentary called From Runes to Ruins by by Thomas Rowsell, Jamie Roper and Anthony Leigh. It is all about Anglo-Saxon paganism. 

About the director

 
While studying my Master’s degree in medieval history, I was fascinated by the same mythology and legends that had inspired J.R.R. Tolkien to write The Lord of the Rings. Delving through old leather books and countless journals, trying to discover more about the forgotten religion of the Anglo-Saxon pagans, I couldn’t help noticing some familiar place names. It seemed that all the places from my youth were in some way connected to the history of the Anglo-Saxon heathens; whether it be the village of Thursley, named after Thor, which was near to my childhood home, or the ancient pagan barrows I used to camp on as a teen. I realised that through the landscape I had a personal relationship with the pre-Christian inhabitants of England and wondered how many other people had developed this strange fascination. Initially I had never intended to present From Runes to Ruins, but after the production house I was working with dropped the project, I no longer had the funds necessary to pay for a famous presenter. Financial constraints necessitated my stepping in to the presenting role, but this allowed me to put a personal slant on the documentary, using the pagan landscape of my own past to communicate the culture of a far more distant one. I hope that From Runes to Ruins sparks a new interest in the pagan religion of our Anglo-Saxon ancestors and also encourages people to look at the land itself as a beautiful, spiritual inheritance which brings us closer to nature, our ancestors and each other.
You can rent the entire video here:  http://fromrunestoruins.vhx.tv/
It is well worth  the 3.99 rental fee!
Now you know way too much about the early history of Angles, Saxons and Jutes in Britain… far more than you probably wanted to know! I do hope that it has given you some different perspective of the Anglo-Saxons, their reasons for moving to this land along with their justification for staying and fighting for it. Perhaps the next time you read a book or watch a movie about them, you will have some second thought about how they are portrayed.  In future articles, we will look at each of the four Kingdoms that remained during the later Vikings saga- Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria and East Anglia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Creator: Book Review, The After Cilmeri Series by Sarah Woodbury

                   First of all, I want to assure all of those who follow the ongoing story that I have not left it hanging, or abandoned it! Nor have I given up on the Dunvegan Castle building! I just felt a need to take a step back and give myself a slight break from it.  I just need a bit of  down time from the intensity of all that the story entails! It takes an immense amount of time and energy to do all of the creative work that goes along with the story and occasionally, as any writer can attest to, one needs to step away from it in order to clear your thoughts, re-energize and re-focus on the writing process!

While I take these breaks from the story, my mind is always still working on various concepts, ideas and historical research. Much of that inspiration and those ideas come from reading as much historical background as possible along with reading works from other writers who have been so successful in weaving history and time travel together.  Recently, I discovered one such author and I want to acknowledge her work here.  Sarah Woodbury has taken the time travel concept and woven it into a highly detailed, well told account of Welsh history while also creating an interesting what if premise along with the factual account of the history.

 

Before I started this series, I knew very little about the history of Wales and what little I did know was always presented from the English perspective of  the history. Sarah’s books tell the history from the Welsh perspective of  the last years of Wales as an independent country. The series deals with Wales in the late 1200’s and their last attempts to remain free of English conquest and rule. It centers around Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, the last sovereign of Wales as he battles to hold on to his country and it’s freedom. The time travel and what if premise is woven into the story with the appearance of a young woman from the 20th century who is thrown back in time and falls in love with Llywelyn. I will be honest in admitting that I felt the time travel mode was a bit contrived and iffy?  That is really my only complaint about the books! Another thing that some might not view as so favorable with the series is that it’s not really so much of a romance novel but weighs far heavier on the historical content. For me, this was a plus! While there is of course romance, it is not definitely not graphic, detailed or in any way explicit. I will also admit that now as I am through the pre-quell, and the first two books, I am wishing for just a little more detail and depth to the relationships and a wee bit more of  romance? I do understand that there is a war going on and that is what the main focus of everyone in the stories is on, I am just saying, a touch here and there, a few more allusions and references to physical relationships wouldn’t hurt, would it?  Other than that rather minor issue, the books are filled with intrigue, mystery, historical facts and enough what ifs to keep me interested in going on with the series!  I am anxious to find out more about the past of Wales, and how they possibly change the future of the country. I did find it extremely interesting in the second book, Prince of Time, that we discover they are not necessarily changing their own timeline, but that of some other parallel time line! That aspect will keep me going to see how it all plays out!

 

Ohhhh, there is one last detail of the books that has sparked my continued interest! In book two, Sarah brings out the references to Arthur… that has pretty much sealed the deal for me on finding out more? Of course, now I must indeed find out more!

 

Daughter of time

Daughter of Time is the pre-quell to the Series and although it was written after the other books, I would highly suggest you read this one first! 

A medieval man with an uncertain destiny, Llywelyn, the Prince of Wales, faces treachery and deceit at the hands of friends and foes alike …
A modern woman with a troubled past, Meg’s life is in tatters when she slips through time and into medieval Wales …
Only by working together can Meg and Llywelyn navigate the shifting allegiances that threaten the very existence of Wales–and create their own history that defies the laws of time. 
Other books in the series include Footsteps in Time, Winds of Time, Prince of Time, Crossroads in Time, Children of Time, Exiles in Time, Castaways in Time, and Ashes of Time.

 

Footsteps in Time

Footsteps in Time is Book 1 of the series.  In December of 1282, English soldiers ambushed and murdered Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, the Prince of Wales. His death marked the end of Wales as an independent nation and the beginning of over seven hundred years under the English boot.


Footsteps in Time is the story of what might have happened had Llywelyn lived.  And what happens to the two teenagers who save him.

Footsteps in Time is the first book in the After Cilmeri Series. Other books include a novella, Winds of Time, and eight novels: Daughter of Time, Prince of Time, Crossroads in Time, Children of TimeExiles in Time,  Castaways in Time, Ashes of Time, and Warden of Time.

 

Prince of Time

Prince of Time is Book Two in the After Cilmeri Series:  

Two teenagers are catapulted back in time to alter history and save the medieval kingdom of Wales …
 
David and his man-at-arms, Ieuan, find themselves alone and on the run from a company of English soldiers who’ve sworn vengeance for the recent death of their king. Meanwhile, Llywelyn lays on his deathbed, wounded by a traitor’s arrow.  And once again, it is David and Anna, and all that they represent, that holds the key to the survival of Wales.

Prince of Time is the second book in the After Cilmeri series. Other books include a novella, Winds of Time, and eight novels: Daughter of Time, Footsteps in Time, Crossroads in Time, Children of Time, Exiles in Time, Castaways in Time, Ashes of Time, and Warden of Time.

You can find out more about the series and the Author on her website here: http://www.sarahwoodbury.com/
If you want to find out a bit more about Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and that part of Wales’ history you can start here:

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Dunvegan’s private gallery and Hadrian’s Wall Fort

Some work on the upper level private museum/gallery at Dunvegan where Eric went to surround himself with  his distant past as he remembered those times.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/eleanors-journal-the-depths-of-erics-past-from-norseland-to-vampyres-and-romans/

Normally, I do try to keep custom content out of the builds, but since this Castle has such a number of  various artifacts and memories, I felt it important to try to represent them! I am trying to keep it to a minimum and  will include a list of the items and where they can be found for download purposes.  These two photos include some of those items. The Sword and the cups on the shelf are from Sims Resource, Cashcraft’s  Pendragon Medieval collection which can be found here:

http://www.thesimsresource.com/artists/Cashcraft/downloads/details/category/sims3-sets/title/pendragon-medieval-collection/id/1043540/

Eric in the upstairs private gallery

The displayed Sword is important because it does reflect the red dragon mentioned in some of the historical theories on the origins of King Arthur. The decorative cups are representations of the Dunvegan Ceremonial Cup. The Wall antlers represent some of the ancient Macleod history, which Eric has not as yet come to in his memories!

private gallery

The other ancient swords and shields are courtesy of  Mod the Sims Medieval Armory set

http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=463364

 

The tapestries shown here have been in my game forever and you can find similar ones here:

http://www.thesimsresource.com/downloads/details/category/sims3-objects-furnishing-decor-paintingsposters/title/majikgoldys-medieval-tapestry/id/1028752/

Screenshot-15 private gallery4

The rest of the items in the room are game or store items!

 

The recent episode of Eric remembering his turning at Hadrian’s Wall Fort requires of course, that we have some version of Hadrian’s Wall Fort to refer to! We will be referring back to it again in the near future so we had to do work on constructing a set for it! Here are some initial views of it. It is not meant to be the entire wall, only a portion of it representing one of the early Roman Fortresses attached to it. Most of these Forts were nothing fancy and built for defensive purposes, not luxury!

These are some views of what it might have looked like in Eric’s early years there. This is an over view of it.

view of Hadrian's Wall Fort

 

Back view of Fort, most likely the portion that faced their enemy. The open space will be open field, possibly including a ditch to slow down the Barbarians.

Screenshot portion of Hadrian's Wall Fort

View of the Front, which would have been the Romans’ main entrance, but still well barricaded and fortified to withstand attack.

Hadrian's Wall Fort

Artorius with his sword… This should give you a clue as to who Artorius is? We have seen him before in connection to Eric!

Artorius and Eric

 

 

Eleanor’s Journal 74: The depths of Eric’s past… from Norseland, to Vampyres and Romans

Before you start on this episode, you may want to get your drinks and your munchies… it is a quite lengthy post! Also, there are limited illustrations in this episode. The far ancient past was a bit too difficult to attempt with any good quality so I chose to leave it as is with just the text to carry it. You may also want to refresh yourself with the details of some previous posts to aid in some understanding of Eric’s deepest past!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/from-the-creator-some-history-of-clans-in-scotland/

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal72-erics-memories-a-time-before-vampyres-and-a-life-of-contradictions/

 

Now on to the story!

Screenshot-4 Judith Self

Eric shook the thoughts of Judith out of his head for the moment. In his mind, she was his future and he would have no need to sit in the dark and relive his moments with her. He was determined that he would find her safe, and that things would work out with her. What he needed to do for now was clear his head of the other memories that made up his past. If he were to have a future worth living with Judith, he must sort through the mess of his long and turbulent life, put it all into perspective, truly learn from the mistakes and not be guided by the emotions that always had a way of attaching to memories. Eric reminded himself that those events of his past were neither good nor bad, they were all merely lessons that everyone must learn. Some such as mortal humans learned them over a series of lives and deaths, while others such him now, learned them all in one long life time.

Screenshot-15

Eric had spent an evening with Brennie and Svein, honoring their most ancient traditions and beliefs. Even though he had never been such a profound or firm believer in those things, he still held on to the traditions and the rituals for the peace it gave him. The Summer Solstice was one of those most sacred and spiritual times for many beliefs. It was one of those time when many believed that magic and miracles were at their strongest. When the veils between time and worlds were at their thinnest, and when those on other sides- whether it be Gods or simply those in other dimensions could hear and feel each other more intensely. It was often said that if one offered prayers, blessings or beseechings at these times, they would be heard and answered from beyond. He wasn’t sure of that but was well willing to take the chance if someone could hear their requests and help them on their mission to find Judith.

Screenshot-2 (4)

Later after it was over, he had went to his own place of private prayer and offered his thoughts and his blessings to the one whom he missed so much. He had built this small memorial to her on the place where she had died so many centuries ago, and added one here at Dunvegan as well. While he had built with the outward appearance of honoring the Dunvegan legend of the Fairies, in his heart, he knew that it was in tribute to that one he had called a true friend. He often spent time alone with her in these places. Many times he could feel her presence with him, reaching out to him from that other place where she dwelled now. For a long time after her death, he had felt nothing but raw and grating pain, he had heard moans of terror and grief, keenings of hurt and wandering through darkness. At some point it had settled to a fog of uncertainty and not caring… But, lately it had become more intense again in it’s searching. It felt as if she were re-awakening on some level and trying to find her bearings. This night, he felt her reaching out desperately, and he heard in some faint tunnel of whirling sounds and waves, her voice calling. He thought he heard his own name, as well as others. He could not trust that it wasn’t just his wishful thinking and his own desperation that played tricks on his mind though because he thought he felt Judith and someone else in that mist as well?

Guinivere1   guinivere's arrival

Usually after some time spent here, he was more at peace with the world. Tonight, though he left with his heart and his soul in even more turmoil than it was when he began the evening. He wandered back up to the Castle and locked himself in the upstairs private library and museum that held so many of their most valued artifacts from the ancient past. Surrounded by these material remains of history, he poured himself a highly prized, very rare Whiskey and settled in front of the fire to recall his life in detail. He kept the bottle close at hand, knew well that it would take some long time and much of this strong fortifier to get through it.

The deepest depths of Eric’s memories

He took his thoughts back to the very beginnings… he intended to work his way straight through and come out on this end with a firmer grasp on his emotions. His intent was to work through it, honor it, grieve it, forgive himself and others for the wrongdoings, and then say Good Bye to much of it. His own private wake for his life was how he looked at this, and a celebration of a new journey upon which he would then embark.

           His earliest memories were few. He remembered little of the time spent in that other North land of his earliest ancestors, other than the leaving of it on that earliest voyage across the sea. His Father, a large and loud hulk of a man with wild blonde hair and the palest, faded blue eyes-possibly from staring out at the skies and the sun from his ships much of the time. His Mother, almost as tall as his Father, yet slimmer and a bit more refined in her looks but no less imposing. She was quieter, more thoughtful than his Father equally as strong and determined. She had a regal and royal bearing to her which never left. It had been his Mother’s line from whence their status came and she quite often took pains to remind her husband of it. While his Father was the brute force and strength that people looked at and feared immediately, his Mother was the one who held the calm, and if need be cold reserve that would hold one’s fear and respect even longer after a punishment meated out by her husband.

           She was a queen in her own right and never should any forget that, she vowed to her husband as they embarked on this journey to a new settlement in a far away place. His Father, Eirkr, whom he was named after, being the eldest son, was a great warrior and Chieftan in that North land but was choosing instead to follow his brother, Svein to this new place of peace and plenty. His Mother, Asdis, an honored and well revered Queen of one of those North places had made choice to align her tribe with that of Eirkr’s in a treaty of peace. She had gifted herself to Eirkr as wife and thereby stopped much of the warring, at least between their two lands. The rest of the wars continued however and there were constant battles for land and power among the various tribes of those lands. As their populations increased, the land became less able to sustain them all equally. The wars for limited resources became more violent and deadly.

            Eric remembered little of that, save what others told him in stories, and in their move this new land, those stories became of less importance or value. Eirkr’s brother Svein was a younger brother who must seek out his own destiny and he had chosen to seek it on the seas, traveling to far distant realms and returning with stories of vast oceans full of fish, of lands plentiful for those who would dare to claim it, and of places filled with magic and mysteries. He told of other peoples there who held secrets of the world and of life. On those visits, he would sit with them in the fire lit lodge and fill them with stories, some meant to scare and others meant to provide a smile and a dream or two of those far off places.  Eric’s Mother, Asdis, was a healer and mystical woman herself and she would badger Svein for more details of these places until he would wave his arms in defeat, “Ach, I’ve no more to tell ya, unless ya want to be makin it up, or ya want to get on a boat and join me there!”

             Asdis and Eirkr were adventurers and sea goers. They were also practical ones who knew that they could not hold off invasions of their lands indefinitely. They had discussed it long and hard for months, swaying back and forth on their options. Finally, they had come to a decision. They would leave their lands of that North place in search of a new destiny with Svein. The choice had been left to their people whether to go or stay put. Asdis had turned her power and her crown over to her younger brother. She would step down as leader of that group and then swore her fielty and allegiance  to her husband and his people. Previous to this, they had managed to rule together but separately their two groups. In accordance with their traditions, she had retained her role as ruler and Queen of her people while her marriage was looked at in a separate fashion. Now, she gave the role of Queen and stepped into the role of wife to a King. In their culture this was a very different thing… there was no such role at that time as Queen consort. One was either a Queen in her own right and ruler of her people, or one was a mate of a King, with much less standing, influence or power. Twas a difficult choice she made, and oft ground her teeth over in later times. She did however, adapt to the role in as much as she was able… and while no longer a Queen in that sense, she did wield power as the Mother of future rulers… which Eric was destined to be.

            Eirkr and Svein agreed to be co-rulers of their group in the new land. Months of preparations had finally found them all setting forth on that voyage across the North Sea to the place which Svein called Hjaltland.  Eventually, they had migrated farther south to the place they referred to as the Isle of Skuy and made their settlement there.

map of Scotland with Shetland islands and Isle of Skye

             Those earliest years had been a struggle for survival as they learned to carve out a new life in this much different place. It was indeed a place of strangeness and mystery but one thing it was not in that beginning time, was a place of such violent battles for land. There were already peoples living there, but like the Norse settlers, they were struggling to survive. It was not a land for the weak willed in any way. Here the battles were not so much with each other over limited territories, but with the sheer forces of an untamed wilderness and the rages of the natural environment. They learned together, the Norse settlers and those earliest of inhabitant of the area, the Picts. There were others there too, ones who had been there fighting just as long, or longer… the small groups of Fairie peoples deep within the forests and those other wanderers, Vampyres. Those two groups mostly kept to themselves in their own small communities but it was more due to a matter of comfort in residing with those of one’s own kind than anything else back then. There was no resentment or fear of others, unless they should bring it upon themselves by some action or behavior on their own part.

Old Celtic tribes of southern scotland and north east England

             No, back in that earliest time, they had all eeked out an existance together in that land. Eric’s family Clan had settled this piece of land near the sea and had been there ever since. He had grown to his young manhood there, working along side his Father, his uncle, his younger brothers and cousins to build a life for themselves. They had done well in that respect, traveling the seas, trading with the Picts, the Fairies and the few Vampyres there to forge a well knit community. Their peoples had mated to each other, new ties and new bloodlines. Eric remembered fondly his uncle Svein’s uniting with the young Vampyre, Gisella. It had been an arranged mating, as so many often were back in those ages, but they had been happy with it. Svein had come to love her most dearly and eventually turned to the Vampyre bloodline himself. He had done it willingly out of his love for that woman. Svein’s mating and turning had more sealed their bonds with that small Vampyre Clan and eventually they had easily blended into one larger clan rather than two separate ones. Other matings had blended them with the Fairies of that land, of the Picts as well. Their life had been hard but well satisfying and over all peaceful other than small skirmishes between clan members. Those small battles and disagreements were to be expected among any groups living in close proximity to each other. The disagreements were usually solved quickly and with limited violence, despite what history might attribute to those times. Eric laughed to himself… what did historians truly know of that time before such detailed and supposedly accurate documented accounts from questionable sources?

             No, life had been good then… until the arrival of the others upon their borders and their soil. The Romans had discovered the lands and the valuable resources of the British isles and set about claiming that land and those resources for their ever expanding empire. What the Romans had not counted on was such resistance from ones that they deemed primitive Barbarians. In those lower regions of the isle, they were more successful in their conquering of the local peoples already there. Despite their best efforts however, they never succeeded in conquering the upper regions of the land. What they did manage for some time though, was to form a tight circle around that area, controlling much of the land and the sea around it. They also brought something else with them on their arrival to those lands, which although unintended and not purposeful, did much to decimate the numbers remaining in the upper lands. Their secret, unknown- even to themselves- weapon was disease. As in the case for many conquerors, diseases and illness, which those conquerors may have built up some resistance to, often did a more thorough job of controlling an opposing force or army than the men themselves could accomplish.

probable Roman defenses

probable Roman defenses

             The inhabitants of that northern region were generally much isolated to themselves and not exposed to the deadly plagues of other populations. As the Romans ventured farther and farther north into their settlements and territories, they brought with them those plagues that swept through their new victims with alarming speed. Many of the Northern clans were wiped out in entirity by an illness or ailment which the Romans may have easily fought off with their increased immunities due to having been exposed to such an illness previously. Along with the threats of illness, there were also climate and weather changes that none could control. In addition, if that were not all bad enough, the increasing population brought by the Romans upon the land caused the lands themselves to be over used and ravaged. So, as the Romans advanced, the land became unusable, people became hungry and desperate.

               It was during those darkest times that history does seldom speak of… for much of the history was documented by the Romans who would not want for themselves to looked on as the blame for any of it, nor did they want to admit that they were often defeated by such small ragged bands of Barbarians who would fight to their death and their extinction before they gave in so willing to the Roman forces. So, the Romans made excuses for their retreating to back behind the walls they created for their defense against such savages that they could not manage to control. In truth, the Roman empire was at that time, beginning to fail as a whole and would soon be defeated by many such numbers of so called savages.

             During some of those bleakest of times before the next dark ages approached, Eric’s family and Clan had faced much of the demise as others. They had joined together with the Picts to fight the legions of Roman Warriors and lost many of their members to those wars. Ones not lost to the horrors of battle were lost to other horrors of plague and starvation.

             Towards the end, there had been little Clan left to lead or to rule. Eric along with most of the other men, and many of the women too had went into battle for their lands, their freedom and their very lives. Most of them lost the battle. He had watched his Father and his younger brothers die in one such battle, still on occasion, would wake to their battle cries and then screams of agony. Eric himself had been gravely wounded in the battle and prayed for death to come to him. Unfortunately, it had not been death to come, but a Roman Warrior wandering the field in search of survivors to take away as prisoners, captives and eventual slaves to the Empire. It was then that Eric had opened his eyes and saw a blurry vague vision of that Warrior kneeling over him. He had prayed even harder for death to come quickly. His Norse and Celtic Gods had not been listening at the time, or so he thought anyway… but perhaps some other God was. That Roman Warrior had been a man by the name of Artorius. Lucius Artorius Castus had been his name back then. He wore on his shield the emblem of a red dragon and he carried such a sword as Eric had never seen before. 

               In his delirium, Eric thought hopefully that the man meant to slay him right then and there. There was no such luck to be with him. The man had though, gently and carefully reached down to touch his face, then his neck and chest, to check for signs of any fading life. Eric had felt the man’s touch, just barely… but it brought to his foggy mind, the touch of his uncle and other Vampyres, who felt so much colder than humans at first touch. Eric had fought to open his eyes once more and look into the man’s eyes. He saw it there, the faintest glimmer of that other blood flowing through him. Eric then fought to leave his life as quickly as possible. He did not want this man claiming his life in any way. If he were going to die, it would be on his own terms, a warrior’s death. He silently battled within his mind to die as that warrior, and not owe his life to any other, especially on such terms as a Vampyre would demand. He knew enough of their ways that they would not touch or revive one already dead and he willed his heart to stop.

              The man sensed his inner battle, his fears and his silent pleadings for death. He had knelt closer and held a steady hand upon Eric’s chest while whispering to him in some voice that reached in to touch his mind. “Do not fear, my warrior. You shall have an honorable death, or not… that is not up to any of us. If your death comes here upon the field then I will give you honor in burial. You have fought with courage and if you should die now, you will go on to your peace and your joy as a warrior to that place you call Valhalla. If death does not take you, I shall determine to save you and give you honor in life.”

             The man, Artorius, had stayed there with him for some time, waited for his death to come. After a few hours, that death had not arrived and the agonies of continued life began to invade Eric’s mind and body. He shook with tremors of pain, and his faintest moans of a life leaving turned to screams of a live remaining. Artorius had leaned over him and shared his thoughts once more. “Enough, now… You have not won your battle with life and death as you desired. If I do not intervene now, you will most likely survive, but not in any manner of which would give you further peace or comfort. If I do not step in, you will surely lose a leg, and a part of your being which I do suspect you are even more fond of than the legs you walk on. You are seriously and greviuosly  injured in a most sensitive part… Our physicians could most likely put you back together, but you should not appreciate the results.” He did not wait for Eric’s answer of approval or agreement, but instead immediately took the necessary steps to turn Eric.

              Even with the turning of him, it still took many weeks for his body and his mind to come close to recovering from all of that which had taken place. He remembered little of it other than being carried back to one of the forts on Hadrian’s wall upon the back of the man’s enormous black war horse. He had been cared for by the man’s personal servants and physicians. Lingering for much of that time in a state of half sleep induced by many potions forced down him by those physicians , he had still wished for death to over take him. Artorius had visited often and calmy entered his troubled mind to still those thoughts. “It was not your destiny to die then, or now. You are a fine and honorable warrior and man. The Gods have some other destiny in store for you and you must accept it and go on with your life such as it is now.”

              Artorius had addressed his other thoughts as well. “You are not a slave, You will never be one to anyone, to the Roman Empire nor to me either. For one thing, you would be worthless any sort of slave…It would take more energy, effort and will power than I or anyone else for that matter has to make it worth while to even attempt such a feat! On a second note, I did not save your life for the reason of binding you to me or my kind.” He continued to delve into Eric’s most private thoughts. “I know that you are well familiar with the Vampyre blood and of their rules and traditions. I will settle some this fear for you now.”

              The man had left for a time and returned with a few others. They were dressed richly in Roman wear with fine robes trimmed in fur covering them. Two of them stepped forward, close to him and stood silent with their hands clasped together. They were older, a man and a woman, obviously of some very high status in Roman, or any other terms. They wered adorned with jeweled neckplates, arm bracelets and rings. They stood there regally and their bearing reminded Eric of his Mother when she took on her Queen stance. He also noticed dimly  that they were both of Vampyre blood.

              Artorius spoke softly to them, they nodded and motioned to a younger man, some sort of scribe, he must be… to step forward with them. He held a scroll and some sort of quill, and knelt to make himself comfortable as he prepared to write upon the scroll. Artorius returned his attentions to Eric and spoke in formal tone. “Eric of the Northland, I hereby to release you from any blood bound ties that may connect you now to my line. Your life and your blood are yours to do with on your own as you see fit in this the remainder of your now eternal life. You owe me nothing in return for the lifeblood I gave you, save respect and honor for that doing. I make it known to all that I gave you life in honor as I would have given you burial in honor. What I expect in return from you is only honor in all things you continue on with in your life. I will provide you with sustinance and guidance in this new life and expect nothing other than honor in return for that. You fought with honor and bravery in battle and met your demise with the same honor.” He went for some time longer outlining the details of his vow and his agreements for Eric’s future but Eric by then, lost some conciousness again and could not well follow the remainder of it. What he did realize was that this man was officially releasing him from any Vampyre blood ties along with any servitude ties to the Roman Empire.

              This man, Artorius was releasing him from any servitude to the Roman empire and giving him his freedom to return to his people and his home with one final condition, though. Should he caught in any future battle with the Romans, there was no gaurantee on what should happen to him. He would not receive help or assistance from Artorius and his Vampyre bloodline, where by if he had been bound to them by blood, they might have been able to make some sort of agreement. Should he return to his home and then decide to make some other choice, he was free to return to Artorius as a free man and pledge his alliances and alliegance to the man personally, if not the entire Roman Empire. He thought this rather odd that the man should make this offer to him but in his weakened state, he had not dwelled on it.

              His weeks of recovery had turned to some long months of training and guidance from Artorius, who took his vows quite seriously. He had vowed to train Eric in the Vampyre ways in order for him to survive on his own if that would be the need or the choice in his future. The training was long, involved and ensured that he would be a honorable warrior not just as in the human sense, but in the Vampyre way as well. During this time, Artorius had sent out his scouts into those highlands and outer isles in search of Eric’s family and clan, or what ever was left of them. The news was grim. Few of his clan remained, save Svein and a few others. Svein and a few of the other Vampyre bloods had most likely survived due to their Vampyre blood, but even that had not been a certainty. There were plagues that affected even the Vampyres and the Fairies.

              On one evening after the return of his scouts, Artorius felt compelled to sit down with Eric and share the gruesome details with him. There was nothing much to return there for it seemed but he was quite sure that the young man would feel honor bound to return to what ever was left up there. He needed to know ahead of time what he would face upon that return.

              Eric’s Father and brothers had died in the battle, he was well aware of that much. What he did not know of was what Svein had found on his return to their home in the north, nor of course, the current condition that Svein was in up there. Svein had lead the few survivors of the battle who managed to escape back to their home. He had found it ravaged and burnt to the ground with everything in a near vicinity to it destroyed and turned to a wasteland… They had lived near the sea on a well placed, or so they thought, piece of land that gave them easy access to that sea. The Roman legions that swept over those seas surrounding the northern places had come down so far as their safe place and decimated everything within their reach. There had been few left in that place they assumed safe do any real battle with the Romans. The ones who attempted it were quickly taken down. Others, such as young children and women had been taken as captives bound for a life of Roman slavery or death. Yet others, who they deemed unfit for servitude were not killed outright, they were simply left to die there on their own, or live as testimony to what the Romans were capable of. Eric held his head in his hand so as not to show such grief and tears in front of Artorius.

              Svein was there now, and had been so consumed by his rage and grief that he seemed to live in some violent world of his own creation. His beloved wife, Gisella had not followed them into battle because at the time she was great with child. Eric’s Mother, Asdis and a few other women had remained behind with her to assist her, along with the younger children, and some of the elders too weak for battle. The sickness had come to them and taken many, among them his Mother, who had been caring for those who were ill. Gisella had taken ill as well, but with her Vampyre blood, she had survived longer. In the end, she most likely wished that she had died earlier with others. As the Romans arrived, she was close to her time and could do little to defend others or herself. She was gravely ill as well as being so near to delivering her child and she was one whom the Romans had determined was little use to them, other than as a form depraved entertainment to some of the warriors. Uncaring of her illness, her advanced state of pregnancy, or for that matter her more sensitive to daylight Vampyre blood, they had used her viciously, repeatedly, and laughed at her dying screams in the brightest of daylight. The last man to use her dropped her casually in the dirt when the life finally left her body, and that of the unborn son within her.

              On returning to the wreckage of their home, Svein had found her skin burnt body, with what was left of her features still seeming to be wracked in some stone like eternal cry of such pain that it could still be felt by any who might come near. His ears were filled with those screams, along with the echoes and traces of so many others. The few others who survived had only managed to do so by fleeing to the wilds of the forested areas and they were too frightened to return to the place they had once called home. Svein had held on to his sanity long enough to bury his wife’s body and those of others who had been slain. He had carried on long enough to put the place to some sort of livable rights for a time and search for the remaining survivors in order to determine what had happened. He could not convince any of them to remain there, he did not expect them to… but he remained, refused to leave the place and then went much mad with his grief and his rage at all Romans.

              Eric’s younger sisters and some of his female cousins had been taken away with the Romans to parts unknown. The only thing that held Svein in any sane mind at times was the thought of his own daughter and his nieces out there somewhere in the hands of the Romans. On hearing of his sisters’ plight, Eric’s grief too, turned to rage and to a determination to find them all, to bring them home.