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Time travel dilemma: From Last Kingdom to Vikings Saga and back again…

****Warning**** Spoilers involved in this post for Last Kingdom series and Vikings Saga!

Ahhhh Okay, I wrote this post quite some time ago and never got it finished… Many of you are probably thinking to yourselves, “Why bother with it now since we’ve already seen what happens with the Vikings return?”  Well, yes we have seen what happened when the Vikings returned to Paris but we have also been given a glimpse further into a future that will coincide on some level with the events taking place in that parallel universe of The Last Kingdom. We have also been given an interesting clue that directly relates to the premise of this original post. While much of the anticipation and preview concerns the sons of Ragnar, there is one other very important young man that did not get included in the preview of the future. Just because you did not see him does not mean that he will not be important to that future when the next generation  heads  to England. Everyone is so entranced and fascinated with others such as Ivar or even Ubbe that they pay little attention to others who will play an important part and role in the events that take place in England.

 

adult sons of Ragnar

adult sons of Ragnar

Ivar

Ivar

Ubbe

Ubbe

 

I  admit that after my first visual immersion into the Last Kingdom world, I had difficulty transitioning back to the Vikings Saga world. When I wrote this piece back in October, I knew that I would have some trouble adjusting to the altering worlds and their differences. Now that I have experienced the first half of Vikings Season 4 and had some time to adjust to it, I find that some of my earlier thoughts actually have merit and possibility here in this fantasy world of revised history.

 Before I present this prequel type narrative, I want to take time to give some praise and credit to Mr. Hirst for his work on this season so far.  As most of you who read this blog know, I have at times been rather critical of Hirst’s creative license and adaptation of history. What I saw in the first half of this season was some redirection on his part back from the all out historical fantasy realm. True to his assurances, he has steered Rollo in a direction that more accurately portrays his history… yes he did have to put Rollo in that most difficult position of much hated betrayer of his own people but in my opinion, he has done so in a way that also shows Rollo’s inner struggle with that decision- one that I believe will come full circle in the second half of the season.

At the end of the battle Rollo is in pain emtionally as well as physically

At the end of the battle Rollo is in pain emtionally as well as physically

 

I also appreciated the historical aspects that Hirst touched on with Ecbert’s power play in Mercia as well as little Alfred’s pilgrimage to Rome. I will discuss all of this in future posts.  

Wigstan to ecbert you shelter for your own interests and purpose another of my mad descendents Kwentirith whose only claim to the throne is by way of killing her uncle and her own brothers.

Wigstan to ecbert you shelter for your own interests and purpose another of my mad descendents Kwentirith whose only claim to the throne is by way of killing her uncle and her own brothers.

For now, I want to stick to the subject that I originally wrote this post about so many months ago. As I spent time in the Last Kingdom, I became quite fond of one Viking in particular, Guthrum.  As my time there came to an end for an undetermined and unforeseeable future, I found myself torn between him and my other loyalty, Rollo.  People scoff at this loyalty and often accuse me of being a betrayer and traitor… I know that I must hold my head up and stand firm in spite of these words. There have of course been instances as well where my stand for Guthrum has been questioned but I stand firm in that too. In some ways, the two of them are quite similar- their early pasts are not much known about, they went their own ways and made compromises to their Viking beliefs in order to accomplish their personal goals of victory and success. Both Guthrum and Rollo accepted Christianity (at least on the surface) to reap the benefits that the Church backing would bring them…

The importance and the future of Guthrum

The importance and the future of Guthrum

As you read through my earlier thoughts and my dilemma at the time, you will find historical information- as much as there is- on Guthrum which may help you in figuring out his role and his his historical importance or relevance in both the Last Kingdom and in the future of the Vikings Saga.  I do need to say here that since so little is actually known about his early history, I have no qualms or issues with Hirst’s creative license with his back story! I am looking forward to seeing Hirst’s version of him, although I readily admit that I am most partial to the Guthrum I already now know in Last Kingdom. Hirst has his work cut out for him as far as presenting me with a version of Guthrum that comes close to the one I already know!

Guthrum God of rome strike me down

 

My earlier time travel dilemma (written back at the end of October)

In just a few months, I shall be packing my bags and heading back to France to join my friend Rollo as he follows his destiny in founding the Kingdom of Normandy. I am having a worrisome visit here in Wessex. Things are not going so well here even though this King Alfred will soon achieve some glory and begin his life long quest to unite England. This land is in the midst of upheaval and war between Saxons and Danes right now… much a different place than when I visited Ecbert’s home earlier. I think this Standing Stone method of time travel has some flaws in it? I truly believe now that they send us not only to different points in time, but to some sort of parallel version of history as well. I had my suspicions about it previously but now I am quite sure of it… When next I return to the future, I am going to have a serious discussion about this with that Mrs. Graham of Craig Na Dun Time Travels!  

craigh_na_dun_time tours

I will share more of what has happened in this Wessex with Alfred, the Dane Guthrum and the warrior Uhtred later. Right now I want to share some thoughts on what I may find when I return to Rollo and those other Vikings.  I hear much speculation, assumption and even accusations on what Rollo’s actions may bring in the future. I also hear many rumors and assurances from a certain other authority that Rollo’s destiny and story will play out as our history reflects it. In the midst of all these swirling rumors and predictions, I have also heard another King will make arrival… a Norse King by the name of Harald Finehair and his brother Halfdan the Black will be showing up, for reasons as yet unknown.  I make mention of these Norsemen because I do wonder what their story will entail, what reason will they have for their appearance and of what consequence if any, will this be for Rollo?  I do not presume to know the future… or the past in this case. I am not a seer, although there be some in these times who have suspicions about me because occasionally this altered state of history makes some match with what I know of our version of history.  

Right now, I am sitting here somewhat rather comfortable and safe for the time being in the sanctuary and seclusion of a Viking version of  Royal residence.  I can not say more but will only leave it at this… I shall never complain about Viking camps again after having spent some time with Alfred’s group in the swamps!

Eilswith in the swamp

I can not say which was worse, living in the swamp or having to endure that Eahlswith’s company for a length of time. The time spent with her was intolerable and being unable to take any more of it, I sought my refuge instead with Guthrum of East Anglia! I enjoy his company and he enjoys mine… we shall leave it at that. He has ensured my safety and has offered protection as I attempt to find a suitable place from which to make my next journey.   In the past I have used various standing stone sites and even some ancient boat burial grounds. My current dilemma is finding such a suitable site here in East Anglia during Guthrum’s time. Were I still in Wessex or any western portions of the Isle, I should have no difficulty finding sites, for they are plentiful in other regions of the land. But, here in Guthrum’s Kingdom of East Anglia, there are few such Stone circles or most ancient of sites. 

My other dilemma is of course the time line and trying to ensure that I arrive in the same altered place and time that my other Viking friends are in. That may be the most difficult problem to solve since I do firmly believe that other place and time is very seriously altered as far as it’s time, events and people. The history that I reside in right now is fairly stable and reasonably accurate as far as people and events. That does not make it any easier to live here but at least I have some idea of what will take place and I can also be reasonably certain of travel points which will fit my needs and send me where I need to go back and forth in time. It is that oddity of time lines that I am concerned about right now.

Here with Guthrum, I know well the time and area that I am residing in.  The year is 878 and Guthrum recently signed the Treaty of  Wedmore with Alfred. 

Guthrum gets baptized

Guthrum gets baptized

guthrum: I've heard mention of this heaven

guthrum: I’ve heard mention of this heaven

Under the Treaty of Wedmore the borders dividing the lands of Alfred and Guthrum were established, and perhaps more importantly, Guthrum converted to Christianity and took on the Christian name Æthelstan with Alfred as his godfather. Guthrum’s conversion to Christianity served as an oath or legal binding to the treaty, making its significance more political than religious.  Politically, of course, Guthrum’s conversion to Christianity did nothing to loosen the Danish hold on the lands that Guthrum had already acquired via conquest.  Instead it not only garnered Guthrum recognition among Christian communities he ruled, but also legitimized his own authority and claims. By adopting the Christian name of Æthelstan, which was also the name of Alfred’s eldest brother, Guthrum’s conversion “reassured” his newly acquired subjects that they would continue to be ruled by a Christian king rather than a heathen chieftain.

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

I also know that I could remain here fairly safe under Guthrum’s protection for some time if I were so inclined to do so. Guthrum will uphold his end of this treaty. Guthrum upheld his end of the treaty and left the boundary that separated the Danelaw from English England unmolested. Guthrum, although failing to conquer Wessex, turned towards the lands to the east that the treaty had allotted under his control free of interference by Alfred. Guthrum withdrew his army from the western borders facing Alfred’s territory and moved eastward before eventually settling in the Kingdom of Guthrum in East Anglia in 879. He lived out the remainder of his life there until his death in 890. According to the Annals of St Neots (ed. D. Dumville and M. Lapidge, Cambridge 1984), a Bury St Edmunds compilation, Guthrum was buried at Headleage, usually identified as Hadleigh, Suffolk.

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

kingdom of guthrum mapalfred1

I know that I can travel safely throughout this area of East Anglia that Guthrum controls, but to go elsewhere in the land right now would be unwise and unsafe as Guthrum reminds me. The battles and wars will continue on for some length of time throughout much of the land. Guthrum can only guarantee safety to a certain extent and does not want to provoke or incite any additional revolt or uprising just to ensure my protection in travel to a place because of my odd whimsy… He has stated that he would prefer that I just remain where I am but because of his regard for me, is willing to indulge this strange fascination of mine regarding ancient monuments and such . So, I must find a place within our realm that may or may not connect me to that other realm that Rollo is now residing in.

Along with finding such a site, I must also find some connection between the two realms such as some sort of factual information shared by both realms even though the timelines may be different.  I must look at the times, the people and the events which took place in that other realm and find some connection here in this history.  There is so much that is distorted in that other realm of Viking history, including of course the major issue of the timeline… how do I determine a connection to get me back to the correct place?  When I made the journey from there to here, I used those Stones in Wessex and thus landed into this more accurate history. I would have to assume then that those Stones predate all of these changes in timelines and history- they would thus take me back and forth between time and between realms in accordance with my thoughts. Tis extremely complicated and difficult, this time travel process- do not assume that it is as easy as just walking through the Stones!  As I mentioned, those Stones of Wessex are not available to me, nor are any people of Wessex who might provide some sort of connection to that other past or realm. 

It is almost impossible to ascertain some linking time, place or person to that other Viking realm. Out of all of the people there, I would guess though that my friend Rollo is most out of place and time and he is the one person that I want to get back to. As far as I know, in that other Viking realm, the great Heathen Wars have not yet occured… Ecbert is still alive, Alfred is still a baby… that would put their time period feasibly around the years of 840 to 850s. In accurate history, Ecbert died long before Alfred’s birth. Ecbert died in 839 and Alfred was not born until about 849. Ragnar’s sons are still very young-far too young to yet be involved in those wars that began in 866, so my assumption of a time frame around early 850s might be close approximation except for Rollo.  Rollo in our history as we know it, was not born until about 846… putting him close to the same age as Alfred.  For some reason, I believe that if I look at Rollo and his history, that may be my key to getting back to him in that other realm. My reason for this is that a certain authority on the Rollo of that other realm of Vikings history (aka Michael Hirst) has implied many times that Rollo’s destiny and path there will remain fairly close to that of the history we know of him in this realm.  I keep thinking that perhaps if I know more about Rollo’s truer history, it might take me back to him in that other realm. I know it is far fetched reasoning, grasping at proverbial straws  but tis all I have to go on at the moment! I try to remember all that I have read about other versions of Rollo’s history in hopes of making some connection between the Rollo of this realm and the Rollo of that other place.  I keep thinking of all of this and it is driving me to distraction, of which Guthrum comments upon- asking me of where my mind wanders to so much of late.  Of course I can not tell him of everything- he already thinks I am touched by some spirits. His reasoning and comment on that is these spirits do not seem dangerous and other than my often strange ideas and ways, I am of entertaining and sometimes useful value to him so he pays it not much mind. 

As I ponder on Rollo of this history and Rollo of that other realm, I suddenly begin to wonder what Guthrum might know of the Rollo in this world, or possibly any others who might serve as some connection. As I have mentioned, the year here is now 878 looking towards 879 and Guthrum has some peace in this East Anglia. But, before this peace occurred he fought with many of the other Viking armies throughout the land, knew many of these warriors and probably still keeps some form of contact with some of them.  Perhaps Guthrum is my key to unlocking this puzzle? Why did not I not think of this earlier and realize that my spirit guides, my sisters of fate had set me on path to him for more reason than just to escape the confines of Eahlswith’s court and company. Guthrum is the one person who could be my link to that other version of history.  I must use Guthrum’s knowledge and possible connections to my own gain and advantage.

I am not so concerned right now about Alfred or the English for now though if I were to ask, Guthrum probably knows much more than he lets on about all of them.  I am more curious and interested in the Danes and others here who might prove to be of some connection to that other realm. Guthrum is happy to talk of his acquaintances, his comrades and the various victories they have achieved but talks seldom of any early connection he might have with any of them.  Of course, Ubba the great warrior son of Ragnar Lothbrok is dead now, as is his brother Ivar and another brother Halfdan. Guthrum sighed and shook his head as if to clear his thoughts, “Fine warriors all of them, now gone on to Valhalla together”  I ask him about the other brothers I had heard of such as Bjorn Ironside and Sigurd Snake in the eye… Guthrum thought again and said that  Bjorn did never come here and was not a part of these wars. “Bjorn has been occupied with his own raiding in other parts of the world.”  As for Sigurd, yes Guthrum did mention of him being with his brothers in the battles against Aelle and Osbert at Northumbria. Guthrum laughed and said how Sigurd was probably the wisest of all of them even though none thought so at the time… Sigurd took a daughter of Aelle as wife and returned to their homeland with her.  All of these things I had read varying accounts of in the future where they would appear in different versions of the Norse Sagas.  Guthrum was speaking of the basic beginnings of these events before they were embellished on over the centuries so I could see the truth in these events. But, none of this really helped me so I asked him of one other of which I knew and was most curious about. Did he know of a man called Rollo or Hrolfr Rognvaldsson?

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

This question caused Guthrum some puzzlement and then suspicion. “Why should you ask of him? How would you know of him, he is not part of this war, has sworn no oath or allegiance to any here and if he has fought it is only for his own personal gain…not that there is any wrong in that mind you, every man must look out for himself first, especially if as with Rollo, there is little family backing or love between them.”  He paused and still eyed me with some doubt before going on with what little he knew of this man Rollo. He had heard some stories that the man was a relative of Rognvald Eysteinsson whose family rules an Isle in the far north, Orkney. That family is bound and connected to Harald Fairhair, a King of Norway. Guthrum added, “There is little love between the Danes and the Norse, the only reason we have fought together here is to achieve an equal goal of land and wealth. Now that is some accomplished, we will try to avoid each other and stay to our separate territories. They can have those lands in the north, no one else should want them anyway!”  He laughed at that, then grew serious again. “This Rollo that I know of, he is a loner and seeking his own gain, fortune and reputation. He is not much attached to that family in the north or where ever… so there may have been some bad blood or feud along the way? He fights now for who ever serves him best. He has fought in some battles here, some in the north, and even some in Ireland.  Now he raids in Francia with Danes, Siegfried and his partner Godfried.”  Guthrum laughed and voiced a final thought, “I have heard that this Rollo is a man of such appearance that women are much attracted to him even when they should be fearful of his kind.  I think you have heard stories of him from other women and now ask about him because even you are curious and desire to see him. You must remain curious because I will not send you on to Francia and I do not think he plans to return to this land!” Guthrum paused before adding, “Besides I have heard that he has found a Frankish woman  that suits him well…” 

Rollo victorious

rollo to gisla don't be afraid... Gisla I can't wait for the games to begin

I just smiled and nodded my agreement. I assured him that was my only intent, womanly curiosity had gotten the best of me and I would be content to remain curious… He was not so gullible, did not fall for my agreement quite so easily. Before departing my company that night, his words were a sterner reminder. “You will remain in this land and there will be no trips across the sea!”

 

After his leaving, I am left alone again in the peaceful quiet of this room. Guthrum has gone to spend the evening with his warriors… the hall will be much noisy and boisterous with ale flowing. He has made his supposed commitment to the Christian God as per Alfred’s request and I do think that he has some belief but only as far as to count this God among the many others as so many others do the same. He puts on good display of this religion when need be but he allows his men the freedom of their own beliefs and he is far from the pious zealot that Alfred is. Guthrum’s court is far more friendly and merry to the point of raucous and rowdy. The few wives and women of this place generally retire to their rooms and allow the men their enjoyment. Guthrum believes that this time serves his men well. They gather together like this in some solidarity, celebrate their survival, release their pent up energies and frustrations.  Guthrum says that they need this time together and it makes for better warriors. He also says that in this way, they are all together in one place and he can watch them easier to see what is going on… once they have drunk some ale, he often sees who may be likely to cause trouble, which men do not get on with each other, who might be plotting betrayal and which men are truest and loyal to himself and to the Danes in general. 

I spend the rest of the evening thinking over what little information he has provided. It certainly is not much and I can see little value in it. Most of it, I already knew of and I can not see how it will help me.  His description of Rollo is vague and he professes not to know much about him or his history but for some reason I feel as though he is keeping something from me. What he does know though seems quite similar to my Rollo… some sort of troubled childhood and early family problems which have caused him to seek his own destiny separate from his family and hold few if any close family ties. He has been in this land before, involved in some battles and possibly made some other connections or acquaintances along the way but as Guthrum says, he is unlikely to return here and has chosen to seek his fortunes in Francia.  I remember Guthrum’s mention of those other men that Rollo has joined… Siegfried? Could that be the same Siegfried who was with us in Paris? My mind goes back to that battle and I must calm my nerves as the visions of that horror wash over me and leave me much shaken. I suddenly recall reading of Siegfried and this partner of his, Godfried! I dig through my chest to find my worn leather bag filled with scraps of  parchment, and anything else capable of being scratched and scribbled upon over the years. These writings are quickly strewn across my room as I search for one that contains the story of Siegfried and Godfried… finally I find it within a document about the Frankish city of Trier.

 

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/08/31/from-treveri-to-trier-from-celts-to-vikings/

vikings in trier1

I stare at the words on this parchment… this was the siege of Paris in which Rollo and Sigfried were involved. The one that eventually led to Rollo’s destiny of Normandy, the one that we were all at together. This is the time and place that I must somehow get to. It is only 879 right now so I suppose that I have two options. I could remain here with Guthrum in East Anglia for a few more years and try then to sail to Francia in the spring of 886, but that would really not work because I would arrive there at the right time but this would be a different version of the event and a different Rollo who would not know me at all. No, I must still try to find a way to travel to this other parallel and altered world in order to find the correct Rollo. I must either find some spot here in East Anglia to attempt the trip from or convince Guthrum to allow me to sail to Francia and find a spot there to attempt the trip forward in time and place. I do suppose that much of this will depend on what events will be taking place here in that future- how safe would it be for me to travel forward to that year and land in this place as it will be altered according to what ever is taking place in that other world? Along those same lines, I must try to think of what will be happening in Francia during that time and where would I even find a site in that region that might suit my needs? These are the very serious dilemmas that time travelers must concern themselves with! To further complicate the time travel issues, I must also contend with this matter of alternate realities and worlds.

I think on this problem for some time as I attempt to enjoy what time I have here with Guthrum. I know not if or when I might see him again and I do like him. He speaks little of his past and there are times when he reminds me of Rollo or who Rollo may become in the future.  It seems to me that Guthrum has done much like Rollo in putting distance between his past and even other Danes here now to achieve his own goals and his own fame or reputation. I know that he was and is a well respected warrior leader of these Danes but with this Kingdom of East Anglia, he has carved out his own place, is working to have peace here and is working towards some longer lasting goal for this Kingdom. He does not speak of the earliest years of this war or how he became leader of the Danish war chieftans, nor does he speak of how they managed to gain such foothold in East Anglia to begin with… His words are that it was war, a war in which difficult decisions must be made in order to win. His reason seems to be, first you must win enough to have equal balance or hopefully upper hand, then you can make concessions and negotiate for that which you truly desire. What ever his reasons or theories, they seem to have worked for him. I would like to tell him or warn him of the future- one that will not bode well for East Anglia.

I should like to warn him that this trouble and demise will come not from his own doing, but that of his somewhat less than capable young heir. I know next to nothing about this young man named Eohric but sometimes called Guthrum. This young man’s existence is somewhat similar to that of Ecbert and his son Aethelwulf…  Guthrum never speaks of a wife but does call this young man son at times… at others, he curses the boy wildly and refers to him as a waste of seed. He has on occasion commented that this Eohric is about as capable and trustworthy as that English by-blow Aethelwold. I hate to be bearer of such news that in the future, Eohric will indeed team up with Aethelwold and that will be the downfall of everything Guthrum has worked for.

Guthrum and Aethewold

Guthrum and Aethewold

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

 As I said, I should dearly like to warn him but I do not want to be considered as a seer… Guthrum has little time for that sort of nonsense and Ubba’s reliance upon seers is still fresh in his memory.

Ubba's sorcerer, Storri

Ubba’s sorcerer, Storri

Storri has learned the hard way do not mess with brida

Storri has learned the hard way do not mess with brida

No, tis bad enough that he thinks me a bit addled, it would not do for him to view me as a sorceress or seer! I would like to remain on his good side, in his good graces. All I do for now is try to suggest that he keep a firm eye and hand upon Eohric and try to steer him the right way. I think Guthrum knows the youth is much of a lost cause and disappointment but can not bring himself to completely set him aside… besides, there is no other heir at this point and Guthrum does not seem keen on naming anyone else who might prove as useless as Eohric. It is Guthrum’s problem and I can not concern myself with it- my problems are many enough as it is without trying to sort out all of his as well! 

For the time being, I content myself with traveling throughout East Anglia with Guthrum, learning more about this Kingdom, it’s people and it’s history. I keep hoping to find a site which might call to me and be a means of travel to that other time and place.  

—————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

All of those months of searching and wondering about some connection. Imagine my surprise and my relief  to find that the connection is indeed  with Guthrum himself! He seldom spoke of his past, his connection to the sons of Ragnar… it seemed to be a rather touchy subject with him that would oft put him in a foul mood so I did try to make no further mention of them. One night however, he was in a somber mood.  I asked what bothered him and he mentioned only that he thought of his home, his youth and the Mother he so vaguely but fondly remembered. I did not want to pry or cause him to react in a bitter way as he had in past recollections of his earlier years so I chose simply to sit next to him and softly add  thoughts of missing my own family at times. He spoke so quietly as if to only himself, it was difficult to hear his words as he murmured a name from my distant past with those of Kattegatt.  I heard him say that familiar name of Torvi…

no tears from torvi she is resolute she is viking

never mind... torvi's mind is working over time

it is easy all you have to do is turn point and pull the trigger

Torvi has inherited Erlandeur's crossbow

 

Perhaps though, it was a much common name so I did not seek to question it.  He sat there for some length of time staring out our small window at the stars before he continued his wandering thoughts of a long gone childhood, “They are all gone now, all those who were a part of my life but I remember them. I remember all of it even when I try to forget.” He closed his eyes for a moment as if to see them, to hear them again. “I think of her often, as do I think of the other one, Lagertha who gave me wise counsel as a young child.”  I tried to hide my surprise at the mention of Lagertha but there was no need for he was lost in his own world of memories. “I took much heed of her words so long ago, she advised me to keep my friends close for some of them would die all too soon and the others would betray me. That counsel has kept me alive to this day.” 

Lagertha tells Guthrum she must leave

Lagertha tells Guthrum she must leave but that he must remember to keep his friends close for some of them will die and others will betray him.

Guthrum's destiny

Guthrum’s destiny

Lagertha assures Torvi that her son is well and she has no doubts the Gods have great plans for him

Lagertha assures Torvi that her son is well and she has no doubts the Gods have great plans for him

 

I had not words in response to his remark but rose to stand behind him, place my hands upon his shoulders and stare out at the night sky with him. I attempted to offer some small measure of solace and assurance to his thoughts as I whispered, “I will not betray you or your heart, Guthrum.”  There was an odd comfort in our silence together as we each watched the stars that night thinking of the past and of the future. 

My thoughts turned to my own memories and my reasons for this journey… It had begun so long ago as a gift with ulterior purpose. I had received my wish to travel back in time, to experience this time period on condition that I document the events, not interfere and discover the mysteries surrounding all of these people. I had been forewarned and cautioned not to form attachments to any one person or side but to be unbiased in my observations.  I felt now as though I may have failed in that objective. To live this long in this time and not form personal attachments or take a side in events was nearly impossible. I also felt that one portion of my objective was complete as far as I could tell in both of these worlds that seemed to be converging on each other. Rollo was now where he should be, on his path to shaping history as we know it. Perhaps there was no need for me to make that dangerous time travel journey once more? Perhaps I could just remain here now with Guthrum for what would remain of his life.  I knew that as far as history would record, Guthrum would remain here in East Anglia and continue his peace with Alfred. He would not return to his homeland and his life would be centered on this Kingdom that he had won. That thought brought me some measure of peace and I was content now to remain here with him in this history.  Perhaps over time, he would share those events of his youth and I would then learn of what happened to all of those others. 

My only nagging concern was that of these two different worlds coming together, merging together… there was little I could do about that but I did wonder if it had been destined to happen from the beginning or if it was the result of our time travel? All that I could really do now was try to decipher some of the events that would lead up to this convergence. I did not want to go back again to that earlier time again and I did not want to go home to the future yet. No, I would remain here where I was for now and make some effort to find out about those differences in history by the only means available to me now, listening to the stories that these people around me would tell of the past.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A woman’s worth is in her… hands and her mind

As we read and view history now, there is much emphasis, attention and focus on the battles, the conquests and wars. We watch the historical docudramas and fantasies play out in books, movies and the small screen, and we make much of those warriors and their great or not so great feats. We give great attention, admiration and acclaim to those women throughout history who were involved in the battles- real or imagined. We are generally presented with an image of women of great beauty, tremendous courage or spirit, or we get a portrayal that puts the woman as down trodden, abused and of worthless status.  Women are seldom depicted, portrayed or given attention/acclaim for the other  status or contributions which the majority of them back them actually held or made. 

Anglo Saxon women stitch their way into history

Aelle and judith

 

We typically assume that a woman’s worth or value was set in stone. We have this impression that it was tied to the status she was born into, to her physical attributes, and to her ability to breed. In some ways, yes it was tied to those things, but there were other ways that she could be deemed of great value or asset to her family, her household, her village or her kingdom. These abilities would not necessarily bring her great fame or recognition in future generations but they would ensure that she survived and more important for us in those future generations, her family survived to create a next generation that probably benefited from her untold, unknown contributions. 

I am not going to downplay the fact that a woman’s life was difficult in the past, no matter what rank or status she was. Then again, a man’s life was  no less difficult during those times. Nobody had a truly easy time of it back then.  What I want to talk about today though, is the thought or idea that there were ways for a woman to achieve some status, some value and some degree of upward mobility in those early medieval or dark ages. Ways that were not dependent upon her family status or wealth, her appearance, her fighting ability/ spirit or her breeding capacity… because realistically, looks faded quickly in those times and they would have faded in some direct proportion to her success at breeding! In order to make it through those times and create a next generation, every survivor whether man, woman or child had to have some fighting spirit to a certain extent so that asset that we deem so noble and great now would have been viewed  in a context of  the woman’s value being based not on her fighting spirit or ability but just on the fact that she was not weak of body or mind. Her breeding ability would not be apparent at first appraisal or trade negotiation but would be more based on her family history of breeding and on her health. 

rollo and gisla

Of course for the wealthy noble families, a woman’s worth was directly based on her family’s wealth, bloodlines and connections to power bases. Her appearance had little to do with her value and neither did her fighting spirit other than she should have enough spirit in her to fight to survive and to keep her household intact and alive in event of a siege when her spouse was off fighting elsewhere. Every woman should have that attribute.

What I am looking at are those other attributes, abilities, talents or  that a woman could use to her advantage whether she be high ranking nobility, a mid level family member of some noble household, low born serf, or even a slave child. No, I am not going to touch on that one “profession” or “skill” that women have used to their advantage probably since the beginning of time!  I will leave that for some other discussion. There were any number of other ways and skills that a female could use to her benefit and advantage throughout time. Most of those abilities were learned skills that also involved some innate or gifted by God talent. These skills, as I’ve already mentioned, would not give them great fame or recognition other than in their personal sphere of influence. They were however, most often extremely necessary skills that would ensure the survival of the entire community in which they lived. These women possessed skills in areas that we give little thought or credit to now. They were the midwives, the healers, the cooks, the dairy maids, the spinners and weavers of cloth, and the needle workers.  Every woman was expected to have some fundamental knowledge and ability of these skills, even those most noble and Royal women. These were skills essential to keeping a household or community alive and then of thriving and prospering.   A woman who was talented or gifted in any of these skills was deemed of some high status or value to her community and as such was rewarded well for her skills so that she would remain within that community. These women were often well known through out their local areas and regions. Their skills were prized and their families, their Lords or owners and those above them would usually make effort to ensure that the women were well compensated or cared for, well treated, healthy and loyal to their benefactors. Much as a man might be prized or valued for his fighting abilities, his horsemanship, his metal working, woodworking or seamanship, these women were looked at as valued commodities. Their value was tied to their skill or their ability in a certain area that had nothing to do with Noble lineage, appearance or breeding capacity.  Yet, while the men with certain skills could go on to make names and recognition for themselves, be rewarded with monetary wealth, land grants or positions that would eventually bring them to Noble status, the women were largely forgotten and became just a backdrop for the fabric and tapestry of history that they helped to create.  They might become wives of those men, they might gain entry to some Noble status by being a part of a much coveted inner circle of women but for the most part their names, their lives and their contributions are long forgotten and generally passed off as unimportant in the great events of history. We will never know who they were, but we can see remnants and reminders of those unknown women, those untold stories even today as we view some of what they created and left as their communal identity.

siggy tries to help Lagertha

The women that I want to give credit to and shed some light on are those women who so often receive little or no attention acclaim for their contributions. These are those women who, so early in history, picked up a needle and thread, and began to not just clothe the rest of us but to leave a piece of themselves and their story in everything they sewed. These are the women we give no thought to, that are relegated to the backdrop of history. These women and their creations in that hidden, protected and shrouded space of a women’s bower  solar, or even the confines of a nunnery  are considered or deemed of little interest or importance in a story. Their creations, their accomplishments and their life’s work are portrayed as insignificant, mundane, and of no real consequence or value… after all it was just women’s work? It was often just women’s work, skill and efforts that kept an injured bleeding man alive after an accident or a battle. Caring for the wounded was part of a woman’s work and quite often, a woman who had great skill with a needle would be called upon to stitch up wounds as well. 

medieval women sewing 3

I want to look a bit at those unknown women, the history of their skill or art and give you a perspective on how such a talent might have allowed even the lowest born or captured slave girl an opportunity to rise above her circumstances. I am not going to delve into the entire history of sewing or stitching here. I want to put into some perspective or relation to the early medieval history of the Viking era and forward from that.  The reason I put it in relation to the Viking era is that the type of stitching that the Anglo-Saxon women became so recognized and renowned for is their embroidery skills that may have had origins in early Danish needle work. I put it in relation to slave girls because many of the girls who were taken and sold into slavery by early Viking raiders were children of farmsteads and villages of many various places. They were not necessarily the poorest, untrained or unskilled lowest forms of humanity that we would imagine or picture them as. Girl children were generally taught the basics of stitchery from their earliest years and would have carried that knowledge or skill with them where ever they went in the future. Many children were sold as household slaves to families that could afford that luxury and not all of them were sorely abused but actually valued as some sort of asset by the household.  Slaves were a costly investment, a valuable asset, and it would make little sense to abuse them and completely destroy their value.  Even in the early Saxon times of England, slavery was a somewhat common circumstance. 

Take for example, young Uhtred and his friend Brida… they were initially slave children but became part of the family…

Uhtred with his medallion

Brida, however, was not a girl who showed much interest or talent in stitchery!

brida's humor

Rather than seeing the often worst case scenario of a slave child (I am in no way advocating or promoting slavery in any way!) Try to see the possibility or scenario in which a child sold or captured into a slave situation is not quite so misused or abused but becomes in some way, a part of that household- granted a lowest member but still, a valuable working asset to it… Imagine a girl child who has some rudimentary knowledge or skill and displays some interest and talent in that said skill.  The art of stitchery was not one which everyone had skill, talent or patience for. It also took a great deal of time and many hands involved to create any finished product. A child who displayed any skill or talent for it would immediately rise in value to the person or family they were attached to. Any small girl slave who showed such talent would probably be looked on favorably, treated well and further trained in this art. In this way, depending on her skill and talent, she might eventually be rewarded for her services and her loyalty to the household. This young girl who started as slave in the household or community might feasibly be rewarded with her freedom and become a valued member of the larger community. She had a God given gift or talent that she used to her benefit and advantage, improving her circumstances. Perhaps she then married a skilled member of the community whose ability or skill was also valued. Her needle skills would have moved her to a status that allowed or enabled her to be worthy of such a man within that society and as such a valued couple, their children would be of better circumstance or status. They train their children in their skills and the children also inherit their talents, which makes them even more valuable in this system of society… and within a few generations, any slave status is for the most part forgotten other than in some dark family history or in some reference to lowly beginnings leading to good fortunes. Future generations might use these beginnings in order to make themselves look better to those might have some cause to rebel against them or resent their present status. It might be used also as a reminder to family members not to forget their own more humble beginnings when relating to the serfs, peasants or slaves now under them.

judith trying to remain calm

I mentioned earlier the connection between the Anglo-Saxon needle work and art and that of Scandinavia. The history of needle work goes back to the earliest beginnings of time and every culture or society had knowledge and skill of it. From those earliest beginnings of just sewing a seam together to create a functional piece of clothing became an art form that even those earliest of people used to decorate and embellish their clothing. The basics of those hand sewn stitches have remained unchanged to this day.  The art of embroidery has been found worldwide and several early examples have been found. Works in China have been dated to the Warring States period (5th-3rd century BC).  In a garment from Migration period Sweden, roughly 300–700 AD, the edges of bands of trimming are reinforced with running stitch, back stitch, stem stitch, tailor’s buttonhole stitch, and whipstitching, but it is uncertain whether this work simply reinforced the seams or should be interpreted as decorative embroidery.   It is during the mid 9th century with the intermixing of Scandinavian or Viking culture and the Anglo-Saxon culture that we see the beginnings of the needle work art that the Anglo-Saxons would become so recognized for.  The Anglo-Saxons may have had already begun this process and progress in the artwork but it after the arrival of the Scandinavians that we see tangible evidence of their work. It was probably during these times too that the variations in stitching from Scandinavia, Francia and other places all began to merge together in the sewing rooms of once more isolated English kingdoms. It was during this time period that the women of Anglo-Saxon England- the ones who did the majority of  any sewing back in this time- began to be more exposed to so many other variations of patterns, materials, textiles and threads of other far off places and cultures. The Vikings brought with them all of those other varied exposures to the world and when they began to settle in Anglo-Saxon, so did all of those cultural experiences. 

I am going to focus on the needle art of embroidery here, which is what the Anglo-Saxons became most renowned for.Normally we tend to think of embroidery as smaller stitched designs on clothing, pillows, towels. We don’t envision this work on a large wall hanging scale. When we think of large scale designs and stitching we think of tapestries.  There is a difference between the tapestry art and the hand sewn needle work known as embroidery. The term tapestry generally refers to weaving on a loom and is most often thought of in terms of heavier wall hangings or rugs. The tapestry did not reach a level of high point, widespread availability or use in Europe until about the 13th century. Prior to this, the wall hangings would have been the hand stitched embroidered creations that women would work together on as a group, often requiring years to complete. 

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

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

During these dark  daunting early centuries that were filled with fear, bloodshed, battle, death and destruction all around them, women would take solace or possibly find some sort of peace in one activity that allowed them to escape for a time into a realm of another place… one where they could create their own world. In a world so controlled and dominated by men, this activity became one of the few things that they could have complete control over.  The women took a necessary, mundane chore of sewing and turned it into a creative art form that we remain in awe of to this day.  When we look at examples left of their work today, we seldom think of the process that went into their creations back then. We seldom give thought to the conditions they worked in to create these pieces of art that often they considered as just an adornment or embellishment to add some color or variety to their otherwise plain and similar garments. 

judith and her cross 2

judith's cross to bear

judith’s cross to bear

This type of hand stitching required a great deal of skill as well as keen eyesight, fine motor abilities, hand to eye coordination, extreme patience along with such abilities as being able to differentiate between colors and patterns. In addition to these skills, there must be one involved who was talented and skilled at drawing out a pattern with a piece of charcoal on to a piece of material because that is where the entire process began. Before a woman or group of them could begin the stitching process, the background material had to be prepared for them. In our current day, we can easily find almost any pattern and transfer it to a background. In their day, the transfer process was just as involved and detailed as the sewing process.  It required a finely skilled and talented artist to draw out the idea with the charcoal which was then sewn over and expanded upon by the sewers.

If the woman in charge of the project, or whose idea the project was could not draw, and most of them could not- just as most of can not now- she would have to find someone who could put her idea or concept on cloth for her. This would take some of the control out of her hands and put her at a slight disadvantage but she could generally regain artistic control once the initial pattern or design was set for her. If it was a small project such embellishing a personal gown or a tunic, she could and would most likely work on it alone. If were something larger, say a wall hanging, bed covering or draperies, it would probably be worked on by a group of women. Often these larger projects would be a group involvement from beginning to end. The women would decide together what image or design they wanted to create, they would all be included in overseeing the drawing of the design and they would stitch it as a group effort… much like in future generations women would work on a quilt together. These group projects might be designed for a wall of a great hall that they were all familiar with as visitors or residents. It could be a done as a special gift from the group of women in honor of a Wedding, or some other celebration or commemoration, or in many cases it might be created as a gift or donation to the Church.  Of the few remaining pieces of work, the majority are church finery or vestments. 

There was another crucial requirement and note of importance as well… the cost involved in the materials.  The materials, threads and needles were dearly expensive back then. Great caution and care were taken to ensure that none of these items would be wasted, misused or otherwise damaged by one who was not proven to be capable, experienced or talented in this skill.  Most any woman, be she lowly peasant serf woman, warrior shieldmaiden, or common farm wife could sew a basic seam together, manage to mend a rip or tear, or even place a few simple decorative stitches upon a garment but few women had the time,  the skill or creative talent to do much more than that.

vikings_gallery_1_3-P lagertha vikings_gallery_1_5-P lagertha and daughter gyda and lagertha

Imagine for a few moments, one of your favorite small screen shieldmaidens, Lagertha of Vikings Saga… Look at her and her family. When she was a young farm wife and Mother, she managed to adequately clothe them all but realistically she did not have time to  spend on decorating their garments lavishly, nor did she probably have the creative skill necessary or the keen interest in it. She accomplished the basics and that was about it.

katheryn-winnick-stars-as-shield-maiden-lagertha-in-history-channels-vikings

lagertha caught in middle of father and son

lagertha caught in middle of father and son

lagertha and her shieldmaidens

In more recent years, she has spent most of her time in warrior mode but she does show that she appreciates the finery of much more intricately and well detailed sewing. Somewhere in Hedeby, in England or in Francia, there have been women involved in the hand stitching of her dresses. Those women have most probably been well compensated in some way for their efforts. If they did not receive some benefit or reward for this time consuming work, they most likely would not continue to do it. You will never know anything about these women but when you see their work, you will appreciate it and remark upon it’s quality and fineness. What is important for you to keep in mind when you look around you in the various settings of the time is that every single piece of clothing, every wall hanging, table cover, blanket or drapery hanging was sewn by hand!

silence as judith tries to find courage to tell aethelwulf her condition

silence as judith tries to find courage to tell aethelwulf her condition

in wessex judith has given birth to a son

 Another example would be the Lady Judith and the ladies of her small court… Judith may have some skill, talent and inclination towards this activity but it is highly doubtful that she has time to devote towards this effort, what with other responsibilities she might have. What Judith would do is have this group of ladies in her service devote time to these endeavors.  In choosing her ladies, she would of course first have to choose women of high rank and noble status but should she come across a young girl or woman with exceptional skill but not status, she could always find ways to fit such a talented one into her circle- even if it is on the edge of it and all of the household members know that the woman is there only for her skills. For the woman to be included in any way would be a step up for her, one that if she has any common sense or reasoning at all, she will understand the benefits and advantages of.  This young woman may have begun her life in the village and found ways to display her innate talent in the decoration of her own clothes, those of her family. Seeing her talent, neighbors and others in the village might have bartered or traded with her to adorn their garments as well… her skills would eventually come to the notice of those of importance and thus she would gain the entry or footing within or around the nobility for herself and her family. Will she ever reach far enough up to attain some form of noble status? Probably not, but she will have raised her family to another level up,  achieved some added level of comfort and security for them so she has proven her worth and value just by that accomplishment. 

ragnar's christian conversion is marched through the streets of paris for all to see and celebrate

my lady judith you have been found guilty of adultery

During the 800s  the Church was becoming a much more powerful force to be reckoned within England,  people were becoming increasingly devout and the Church would take advantage of this religious devotion. Noblewomen would begin to concentrate much of their creative talents in the needle work art to show their religious devotion to the Church. The women would spend vast amounts of time and energy on creating master pieces of hand stitched artwork for the adornment of the Church, and it’s priests. These gifts were not just donations to show the family’s devotion.  It is during this time that the quality and skills of these devout Anglo-Saxon women began to be recognized throughout the Church’s broad sphere of influence. The Church and Priests praised these works, appreciated them and set a great deal of worth or value on them. The families- the women were well aware of the value and would use the gifts as bargaining tools to garner favor with the Priests. A donation of such a finely worked altar cloth, wall hanging or even clothing item to the Priest or Bishop could go a long way in being pardoned or forgiven for some transgression or in a favor/request being approved. 

A great many women during this time also sought solace and sanctuary within the Church’s cloistered walls. As the wars and battles took over their lands and their lives, many women found refuge in the cloistered and protected walls of the Nunneries and Convents. Some of course were sent there as punishments by husbands or families.

 i-am-a-bride-of-christ-i-can-not-show-my-face-to-any-man-i-am-not-any-man-i-am-king-ecbert


i-am-a-bride-of-christ-i-can-not-show-my-face-to-any-man-i-am-not-any-man-i-am-king-ecbert

Other young girls were given to the Church by their families as a show of the family’s devotion or patronage of the Church.  And, yet other young girls and women sought out the sanctuary willingly for varying reasons ranging from true devotion and commitment to having no where else to go.  If one had no where else to go, the Church was usually willing to take them in, provide for them and hopefully train them for a life devoted to God’s calling.  Many of these young women were taught the needle work skills and if they showed talent for it, they would continue their training in the art. The most talented of these women would go on to spend their lives devoted not so much to the Church but more in some devotion to their craft, their art.  These women benefited from the seclusion of the Church sanctuary that allowed and enabled them to completely focus on their creativity without having to concern themselves with outside distractions such as husbands or breeding a new generation. They were still faced with the battles that would often end up taking place within their confines, the destruction and decimation that took place all around them, but in many ways they were safer and better off within the holy walls than they would have been outside of them.  

You might ask or wonder how the women who resided within the cloistered walls of a nunnery, devoted their lives to God and to their art form would be considered of value or worth to their family’s future. Granted, these women would not have been responsible for creating a next generation but often times they were directly responsible for a next generation benefiting from their efforts or contributions. Within these holy walls, these women were often looked upon with great favor and praise from those in higher levels of power such as Bishops and Cardinals. Their talents were highly valued and they often rose in status or position of their own type of power within the constraints of the convent. As a result of their talents and  creations, their order or Nunnery would rise in acclaim and fame… the women may not have needed or desired any material wealth or gain, but they might find themselves in positions to ask for some boon or favor for family outside those walls. These women were not above or beyond bartering, bargaining and negotiating for rewards that might help their families… in fact they were often quite good at it. In some ways it was expected of them by their families- it was part of the reason for giving a child to God. This child was often given to the Church with some expectation that the child would rise in status there and become the family’s inside connection to the Church’s power base. During the early medieval times, the women of the Nunneries were a power base that was extremely important and influential. 

During the dangerous centuries, the consecrated life became identified more exclusively with monasticism. Nuns and monks clustered in large houses organized according to a variety of rules that emphasized discipline and routine. The day was divided into segments for sleeping, eating together, performing manual labor, and always, chanting the office in a perennial outpouring of praise to God. Women responded in great numbers to the attraction of this life. They planted new communities on the frontiers of the Christian world, contributing to the process of converting barbarian tribes.

Queens and noble women who inherited great wealth, and could, according to the laws of the Germanic peoples, deploy that wealth as they saw fit, established houses for as many as two hundred women. Managing land and legally presiding over the inhabitants, these great abbesses were intrinsic components of the new feudal ruling class. They sent troops to war, held court, and enjoyed all the rights of noble men. Each monastery stood autonomous (though increasingly these became standardized under the Benedictine Rule). From the sixth through the tenth centuries, abbesses generally came from local ruling families, and they educated young women and helped to preserve the intellectual heritage of the ancient world. The original literary work of some of these nuns survives, most notably the histories, poetry, and drama of Hroswitha, a tenth-century Saxon nun whose learning may even have extended to some knowledge of Greek.

http://www.ctlibrary.com/ch/1991/issue30/3019.html

 

Sewing for a household or a community was time consuming chore that required a number of women and hands to complete the task. Those who owned large landholdings were responsible for a great many people under them. Part of this responsibility including feeding and clothing all of those workers that were part of the extended household or holding. A responsible Lord would provide sets of basic clothing for his underlings at least once a year. The way one’s workers looked directly reflected on the Lord… a poorly clothed or fed worker showed a lacking on the part of the Lord. If you were to visit a holding where the workers were dirty, poorly dressed and fed, and thus unhappy, you would take notice of that and remember it… If you were of equal or higher standing, you might not be inclined to visit this holding again and you might also be somewhat less than favorable in your dealings with this land holder. If one of these poor workers were for some reason leave this holding (could you blame them?) and end up seeking service at your holding, you might take them in and use them to your advantage- in finding out more about what is going on at that place. 

 

Because the chore of sewing was such a major effort and undertaking, entire rooms or floor of a residence might be set aside for it’s purpose. This space may have been in close proximity to the Lady’s personal chambers or even connected to it. It did need to be a space of good lighting though and as much as possible would have been situated with windows to help with the lighting.

SONY DSC

SONY DSC

1400660855p23crypt-c-jigsawdesign-publishingandpetersmith medieval sewing room

A kind of hierarchy also developed within this domain of women. Less skilled or capable women would be assigned more menial tasks as cutting and sewing basic garments for the underlings- although at times, every woman would participate in this task in order to get it done in time to hand out the garments. Women with a bit more skill were allowed involvement in sewing for higher ranking family members and such… and finally the most  skilled and talented women would form the most highly prized and coveted inner group that did the fine stitching under the direct supervision of the Lady or Matron of the holding. Even if such a woman was not so talented in this area, she was still in charge and although she did not have talent, she would have a keen eye for the finished product and it’s quality. She might appoint one of her ladies that were more talented in the art to be her supervisor in this area.  We have already discussed how a young girl or woman might gain entry to this rather hidden space. Once she gained her entry based on her talent and hand skills, she must also be intelligent enough to maneuver her way through this hierarchy of women. She would not be well accepted, and she would find resentments against her from some of these women. This inner circle was a highly coveted place to be because it put them in close proximity and ear of the Lady. They could use this position to influence the Lady and possibly her husband. If they could gain much favor with the Lady, they could reap added benefits for their own families. No matter how talented a young woman was, she would not go far or succeed in this space if she did not have some wits about her!  This inner sewing sanctuary was far more than just women sewing- it was about women vying for their own power and it probably would have been just as dangerous in that secluded sanctuary as it was out on the battle field. At least on the battle field, the fighting was out in the open and you could determine your enemies… in this women’s battle field, the enemies could be well hidden and disguised as your friend- a friend who might be willing to stab you in the back if it meant favor or advantage for her over you. Make no mistake, a woman intent on power can be far more of a threat than a man with a sword!

We have looked at the history, the importance, the Church’s involvement in this art form and I hope that I have shown how a woman’s innate God gifted talent for this handiwork or craft of stitchery could be considered as her worth or value. I think that I have shown too, that besides her talent or skill, she must also have a keen intelligent and creative  mind in order to use this skill or talent to her advantage and benefit. Without the fortitude to think ahead, think on her feet, use the common sense and reasoning that God also gave her, this woman’s talent means little or nothing. It would take the talent and the keen mind working together for a woman to use this gift as her value, her worth and move her family upwards to some better position in life. 

I have also mentioned the fact that while these women will ever remain unknown and most of their accomplishment are long destroyed and forgotten about, there are still remnants and reminders of their creative talents with us today. These unknown women were the creators of such historically important works as this… 

This piece of embroidered stitching is one of the most important remnants left to us. It is the Bayeux Tapestry which details the events of William the Conqueror and the battle of Hasting. 

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

bayeux tapestry bayeux tapestry2 bayeux tapestry7

There is a great deal of mystery and controversy over it’s origins and creation but there is a general consensus that it was made in England and created in the Anglo-Saxon tradition. Some theories and trains of thought propose that is was commissioned by Bishop Odo.

Scholarly analysis in the 20th century concluded it was probably commissioned by William’s half-brother, Bishop Odo, who, after the Conquest, became Earl of Kent and, when William was absent in Normandy, regent of England.

The reasons for the Odo commission theory include: 1) three of the bishop’s followers mentioned in the Domesday Book appear on the tapestry; 2) it was found in Bayeux Cathedral, built by Odo; and 3) it may have been commissioned at the same time as the cathedral’s construction in the 1070s, possibly completed by 1077 in time for display on the cathedral’s dedication.

Assuming Odo commissioned the tapestry, it was probably designed and constructed in England by Anglo-Saxon artists (Odo’s main power base being by then in Kent); the Latin text contains hints of Anglo-Saxon; other embroideries originate from England at this time; and the vegetable dyes can be found in cloth traditionally woven there. Howard B. Clarke has proposed that the designer of the tapestry was Scolland, the abbot of St Augustine’s Abbey in Canterbury, because of his previous position as head of the scriptorium at Mont Saint-Michel (famed for its illumination), his travels to Trajan’s Column, and his connections to Wadard and Vital, two individuals identified in the tapestry. The actual physical work of stitching was most likely undertaken by female seamsters. Anglo-Saxon needlework of the more detailed type known as Opus Anglicanum was famous across Europe. It was perhaps commissioned for display in the hall of his palace and then bequeathed to the cathedral he built, following the pattern of the documented but lost hanging of Byrhtnoth.

Another thought or speculation is that King Edward’s wife Edith of Wessex had some involvement in it’s creation. After the events at Hastings, Edith was the sole remaining senior member of the Godwin family to survive the Norman conquest on English soil, the sons of Harold having fled to Ireland. She remained alive until 1075 and lived in seclusion but was paid all due respect by William. She died at Winchester on 18 December 1075.  Matthew Parisrecords a tradition that her death brought an end to an illness from which she had been suffering at some length. She was buried together with her husband in Westminster Abbey and her funeral was arranged by William. The northern author of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Manuscript D, reports:

Edith the Lady died seven nights before Christmas in Winchester, she was King Edward’s wife, and the king had her brought to Westminster with great honour and laid her near King Edward, her lord.

Edith was brought up at Wilton Abbey. She was an educated woman who spoke several languages, skills she probably acquired at Wilton. She remained attached to it, and in later years rebuilt its church.  Her niece, Gunhild of Wessex, would also be educated at Wilton.

The Vita Edwardi emphasised her piety. She helped Giso, the Bishop of Wells, secure the endowments of his see, and gave lands to Abingdon Abbey, but the monks of Evesham alleged that she had the relics of many monasteries brought to Gloucester so that she could select the best for herself. When Gervin, abbot of Saint-Riquier, who was visiting the English court, rejected her kiss of greeting, she took offence. Edward reproved her, and she accepted the rebuff, even going on to urge English churchmen not to kiss women, although they did not object to the custom.

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

Some of the mysteries surrounding the tapestry would point to the idea or thought that Edith could have had some connection to it’s creation. First of all, Edith maintained close connections to the Church and it’s power base throughout her life. She was well known as a pious and devout woman loyal to the Church and it’s leaders. She probably did have some connection or knowing of Bishop Odo and perhaps this creation was a sort of co-sponsored project.  Harold is shown as brave and his soldiers are not belittled. Throughout, William is described as “dux” (duke) whereas Harold, also called dux up to his coronation, is subsequently called “rex” (king). The fact that the narrative extensively covers Harold’s activities in Normandy (in 1064) indicates that the intention was to show a strong relationship between that expedition and the Norman Conquest starting two years later. It is for this reason that the tapestry is generally seen by modern scholars as an apologia for the Norman Conquest. Certainly no one was going to come out and renounce William’s actions, not even the Church was willing to do that. But, this project or creation could have been seen or meant in an underlying way to make some appeasement for the events.

Edith would have maintained some strong connections and influences with the various convents and may have been responsible for setting up and arranging for the stitchery do be done at certain selected ones. This would have been looked at as a great favor and honor to a convent selected to do such work.  Only convents with the most skilled and talented sewers would have been selected for this honor. 

The artistic context of the work could also lead back to Edith. Edith was a child of some Danish heritage and would have most likely learned some Danish variations of stitchery during her youth. Many of the Convents made use of these variations as well, showing the Danish influences in Anglo-Saxon sewing.  Tapestry fragments have been found in Scandinavia dating from the ninth century and it is thought that Norman and Anglo-Saxon embroidery developed from this sort of work. Examples are to be found in the grave goods of the Oseberg ship and the Överhogdal tapestries.

A monastic text from Ely, the Liber Eliensis, mentions a woven narrative wall-hanging commemorating the deeds of Byrhtnoth, killed in 991. Wall-hangings were common by the tenth century with English and Norman texts particularly commending the skill of Anglo-Saxon seamstresses. Mural paintings imitating draperies still exist in France and Italy and there are twelfth century mentions of other wall-hangings in Normandy and France. A poem by Baldric of Dol might even be describing the Bayeux Tapestry itself.  Therefore, the Bayeux Tapestry was not unique at the time it was created—rather it is remarkable for being the sole surviving example of Middle Ages’ narrative needlework.

On a final note to this discussion, I just want to leave you with some examples of what these Anglo-Saxon women locked away in their bowers and their nunneries were responsible for eventually creating.  Opus Anglicanum or English work is fine needlework of Medieval England done for ecclesiastical or secular use on clothing, hangings or other textiles, often using gold and silver threads on rich velvet or linen grounds. Such English embroidery was in great demand across Europe, particularly from the late 12th to mid-14th centuries and was a luxury product often used for diplomatic gifts. Their beginning of the art form in the 800s culminated in the more famous stitched master pieces of later years.

Some earliest remains of Anglo-Saxon needle work during 8th and 9th centuries

Anglo -Saxon Embroidery - A Fragment of the Maaseik

Anglo -Saxon Embroidery – A Fragment of the Maaseik

cuthburt_maniple_c909

cuthburt_maniple_c909

An example of Viking era needle work in 10th century. The original clothing items were found in the Mammen graves.

The so called Mammen finds date from the late 10th Century. The main find was the grave of what appears to be a high ranking man. He was dressed in several layers of woollen fabric (2/1 twill), most of which was decorated in some way.

The fragments contained several motifs worked in stem stitch. It is impossible to tell the original colours of the fabrics and the threads used to embroider them, as they are all now a dark brown colour (altered by elements in the soil in which they were found). However, it is possible that they were once brightly coloured.

mammen_full_outfit Viking example of Viking stitchery in 10th century

mammen_full_outfit Viking example of Viking stitchery in 10th century

http://medieval.webcon.net.au/extant_mammen.html

 

opus anglicanum

opus anglicanum

anglo-saxon examples of needle work

anglo-saxon examples of needle work

This example shows the use of beadwork within the needle art 

medieval stitchery with beadwork

This is an example of the needle work art as it progressed into the later 13th and 14th centuries.

Butlerbowden_cope later example of opus anglicum about 1330

Butlerbowden_cope later example of opus anglicum about 1330

Finally, this is an example of the size of some of the creations and present day efforts to maintain and repair the works as much as possible without interfering with the original design.

Alice-Cole-Conserving-a-Cope

Alice-Cole-Conserving-a-Cope

After reading all of this, I only hope that you come to have a better appreciation and understanding of the idea that a Woman’s worth and value could indeed be in her hands and her mind!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Lagertha, Kalf, and why is Hedeby so important?

 

Ahhhh while I am enjoying my comfortable vacation in Paris, that does not mean I do not hear rumors of what is going on elsewhere in our world! Paris is a great city full of merchants and traders from near and far. Now that it is quiet  on the Viking front- their raiding season is over and we can all rest easily for a bit- we get visitors even from that Northland, ones not involved in raiding, but true explorers and traders who travel to the farthest reaches of the world trading goods for wealth.  Our city even now in these early times, known for it’s finest and trend setting attire. Wealthy women from as far away as those backwards kingdoms of Wessex and Northumbria, from those far northern places such as Kiev and even such places as Hedeby all send their merchants and messengers to us in search of precious materials and patterns… They even at times think to bribe our talent sewers and weavers into leaving us for their households. Thankfully, our women are most happy and content here, they would not dream of leaving such luxury as we have here for those wild and heathen places where their creations would not be so appreciated or seen by so many! 

Rollo  like I said don't piss me off  I'm not in a good mood right now

Of  course, all of our best dressmakers and costumers are right now extremely busy and much overwhelmed by the daunting task of creating appropriate attire for the upcoming wedding of the Princess Gisla to our Viking friend Rollo! We are still negotiating this agreement and hopefully it will go through with few problems, but one never truly knows how things such as this will turn out? I am confident that Rollo and his current personal advisor, Sinric will manage to work all of this out. Please understand that in these times, this is a far more detailed process than just arranging a Royal wedding, which can be taxing in itself!  It involves many various contracts, treaties and agreements between both sides and it is a very intricate and delicate negotiation. The slightest wrong wording of something, or misplaced comment could end the entire deal and put us all in danger once again! And, then there is the matter of  Gisla herself, who as yet is still pouting, locked away in her quarters and refusing to give in on this marriage.  To say that this court is in disarray is putting it quite mildly!

I am enjoying my time here but everyone’s nerves are a bit frayed by all of these wedding and treaty details going on here. The seamstresses have the duty to ensure plain Gisla is attired in all of the wealth and bounty accorded to her status… yes, they must turn her into a glorious swan that represents her Royal status and causes people to overlook her flaws, even her most apparent behavior flaws! I do not envy this task at all.

gisla's instructions make sure they do not capture you alive

gisla's response to her father's whining  Father get up they have gone now you are safe

gisla is not amused

gisla is not amused

a stubborn and determined gisla does show her lack of complete understanding of the situation

The other massive difficulty for our ladies is that not only must they dress Gisla appropriately, they must ensure that she has a wealth of linen goods to accompany her to her new household, should this marriage finally go through. It is generally expected that she will bring with her a great treasure of household goods to set up housekeeping where ever Rollo should find for them to live. This would include all of the finery that she is accustomed to such as bed linens, coverlets and hangings, tapestries and wall hangings, table linens and adornments, plus bolts of cloth for future use.  Yes, the women are weary and stressed… and if this all should be for naught, they shall all be quite more vexed than they already are at the girl and her ongoing childish tantrums over such a thing as an arranged marriage for the good of their country.  This is what happens when you spoil a child and give her far too much leeway in her thoughts. The women all agree that she is no different from any other girl who’s duty  from birth is to work toward a marriage of alliances. I have also heard a number of women comment as to how if Gisla is not willing to do this, they would gladly trade places with her to wed and bed that Viking man, Rollo! He did cause quite a stir at his first court appearance and of course all of the women have heard the stories of his courage and bravery in battle!

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

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

 

In spite of all of this wedding chaos, they are also trying to keep up with the ongoing requests from all of those merchants and traders visiting the city because these women have good business sense!  They are not willing to turn down a chance for profit and future business so they want to keep these merchants appeased as well. When I visited their quarters recently, they were busy with a design that I could tell immediately, was not meant for our Gisla. I made casual inquiry of who this gown was for.  They responded that it was for a woman of  high worth and quality in a far off North place of Hedeby… Hedeby?  I was now quite curious as I know of only one woman of such worth who might be connected to Hedeby. I had to satisfy my curiosity and question them for more information on this woman. Unfortunately, they were unable to tell me much other than that the woman of worth was named Lagertha!

someone as in Lagertha is getting a fancy new dress

someone as in Lagertha is getting a fancy new dress! Preview clip of season 4 costumes.

 

I watched them work on the gown and gazed thoughtfully at this  creation still somewhat in it’s early stages. Such a beautiful dress, I thought to myself, it would look magnificent on Lagertha. As I continued to gaze at it, I was reminded of the wedding dresses that the far off future generations of brides will wear. They do not wear such types of all white dresses now but they do adorn themselves in all of the wealth and finery that they can afford to display their worth and their value to their future family. What ever the case or occasion, this dress does bespeak of that worth and value such as a regal bride, a queen, an Earl in her own right, or say possibly the wife of an Earl might wear!

As I left the sewing rooms, my thoughts turned to my friend Lagertha, to the mysterious Kalf, and to that kingdom which they were at such odds over… Hedeby. I thought of how disillusioned and angry Lagertha was when they left Paris. Her last trust in Ragnar destroyed, her son Bjorn having to choose between her and Ragnar once again, and her words to Kalf during this time. She had told Kalf that she would go with him, be with him with his understanding and acceptance that one day, she would kill him!

Lagertha what if I agree to be with you to go with you but... Lagertha if you accept that condition then let us be together and enjoy each other

Lagertha is my friend, I love her dearly but sometimes she is just so stubborn and so insistent that she is right that she will not listen to the advice of others or listen to her own voice of reason. She is a fierce and mighty warrior and life often ends up as a battle or a competition to be won. I admire her for her determination and her pride, for her innate sense of honor and justice, and for her warrior spirit. She is so full of that spirit in all parts of her life, she lives, loves and fights with so much passion that sometimes it overshadows her clearer thinking.  She has made her share of mistakes, she has survived and achieved her fame in what is truly a man’s world in this time but it has cost her much. Men have used her, betrayed her, abused her but she does not give up or give in easily in anything that matters to her heart. Once she has her mind set to something, it is almost impossible to sway her from it… Ragnar did remind Kalf of this when he told Kalf that the matter of Hedeby was a personal one that the two of them must work out for themselves.

I want my land and my title back and I brought my Ragnar with me to get it

I want my land and my title back and I brought my Ragnar with me to get it

It's clear that these men do not like her or at least do not want to be ruled by her

It’s clear that these men do not like her or at least do not want to be ruled by her

ragnar's look to lagertha you stay out here and don't make any more trouble

ragnar’s look to lagertha you stay out here and don’t make any more trouble

 

that is between you and my ex-wife  and I wish you good luck on that one!

that is between you and my ex-wife and I wish you good luck on that one!

When I think of the situation with Lagertha and Kalf, I know that much of it comes down to her insistence on being right in this matter of Hedeby, and her feeling that both Ragnar and Kalf have betrayed her. While she was away in England fulfilling her and Ragnar’s dream and enjoying her dalliance with King Ecbert, she left Kalf in Hedeby to be responsible for it in her absence. When she spoke of Kalf during this time, she spoke fondly of him and even before that, it obvious that were feelings between them.

kalf says I have nothing to offer. Lagertha:   Let me be the judge of that

kalf says I have nothing to offer. Lagertha: Let me be the judge of that

 

kalf and lagertha

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

So, with a possibility of some future together between Lagertha and Kalf, one which so many have such concerns and doubts about, let us look at the entire situation realistically. Let us look at Lagertha’s decisions, what ever Kalf may or may not be hiding or be responsible for, Ragnar’s involvement in all of it, and let us look at Hedeby itself- it’s importance and it’s history.

Hedeby history

 

First of all, let us look at Hedeby, it’s importance and it’s history- and how that history and tradition relates to the present situation between Lagertha and Kalf. I do not want to overwhelm and overload you with historical facts, but my research has proven that Hedeby is clearly such an important place in history that it needs to be presented here in that context so that you understand some of the reasons behind Kalf’s behaviors and thoughts, Ragnar’s reasons for wanting to hold on to it and Kalf as an alliance, and Lagertha’s reasons for wanting it- because of it’s importance, it is of far more value than just her spoken reason of, I want it because it is mine! In looking at the history, we will also see why it might be next to impossible for her to actually rule this land on her own. When Kalf states his justification for having it, he may be more right than Lagertha.  Ragnar as King, and as one who know much more about everything than he lets on, would clearly know of Hedeby’s history and understand how difficult this situation is. He would  understand why Lagertha might not be able to achieve this rule but knowing Lagertha, he would also know very well that she would not be willing to listen to reason on this matter! As King, Ragnar should be aware of  and knowledgeable about Kalf himself. Kalf admits that he has ambitions of fame and greatness for himself, but that he rightly fears Ragnar. As Kalf puts it, What man would not fear such a man as Ragnar, a farmer who made himself King! I have always been of the thought that there is more going on between Kalf and Ragnar behind the scenes and beneath the surface than we are aware of.  Did they betray Lagertha outright with malicious and manipulative intent? Well, Ragnar has certainly betrayed her trust a number of times so, it wouldn’t be out of line for him to have betrayed her in this matter of Hedeby as well. On the other hand, he would know that this situation of Hedeby is a difficult one to solve and realistically, the easiest way to solve it would be as he put it, for Lagertha and Kalf to work it out.  In some way, I think Ragnar’s rationale is that if Kalf and Lagertha were to marry and form such an alliance, it would keep Hedeby, Kalf and Lagertha closer under his control and his watchful eye, since it’s becoming abundantly clear that he trusts few, not even Lagertha any longer.  Has Kalf betrayed her? Well, in some ways, yes of course he has but in looking back at the situation she left for him to manage, he may have felt justified and felt as well that he could find a way to work through this mess with her. He did tell her that he believed their lives and their fates were destined to be entwined together.

Is your earldom really that important to you  Yes because it's mine

Ragnar: Is your earldom really that important to you? Lagertha: Yes because it’s mine

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

realistically she is the outsider here

realistically Lagertha is the outsider here

ragnar's frustrated look of how do I explain this to her

ragnar’s frustrated look of how do I explain this to her

Well there is never much use in arguing with you

Well there is never much use in arguing with you

 

The history and importance of Hedeby

After researching the history of Hedeby, I am a little frustrated with how Michael Hirst has so far presented it and it’s importance to the Norse and Viking history. From what little information we have been given about the place, one might have a tendency to view it as a rather small, relatively unimportant village or earldom other for the fact that Lagertha ended up there when she left him and married the previous Earl. He does make some mention of it’s ships and that importance in his willingness to work with Kalf but other than that, it is portrayed as a place of little consequence other than to those living there.  In reality, it was one of the major port settlements and one of the oldest kingdoms in that northern land. Until sometime in the mid 800s, it was a kingship in it’s own right.

 Hedeby (Danish pronunciation: [ˈheːð̩byːˀ], Old Norse Heiðabýr, German Haithabu or Haddeby) was an important trading settlement in the Danish-northern German borderland during the Viking Age. It flourished from the 8th to the 11th centuries.

The site is located towards the southern end of the Jutland Peninsula. It developed as a trading centre at the head of a narrow, navigable inlet known as the Schlei, which connects to the Baltic Sea. The location was favorable because there is a short portage of less than 15 km to the Treene River, which flows into the Eider with its North Sea estuary, making it a convenient place where goods and ships could be ported overland for an almost uninterrupted seaway between the Baltic and the North Sea and avoid a dangerous and time-consuming circumnavigation of Jutland, providing Hedeby with a role similar to later Lübeck.

Hedeby was the second largest Nordic city during the Viking Age, after Uppåkra in southern Sweden,  and used to be the oldest city in Denmark until the site became part of Germany.

 

hedeby

Hedeby is first mentioned in the Frankish chronicles of Einhard (804) who was in the service of Charlemagne, but was probably founded around 770. In 808 the Danish king Godfred (Lat. Godofredus) destroyed a competing Slav trade centre named Reric, and it is recorded in the Frankish chronicles that he moved the merchants from there to Hedeby. This may have provided the initial impetus for the town to develop. The same sources record that Godfred strengthened the Danevirke, an earthen wall that stretched across the south of the Jutland peninsula. The Danevirke joined the defensive walls of Hedeby to form an east-west barrier across the peninsula, from the marshes in the west to the Schlei inlet leading into the Baltic in the east.

The town itself was surrounded on its three landward sides (north, west, and south) by earthworks. At the end of the 9th century the northern and southern parts of the town were abandoned for the central section. Later a 9-metre (29-ft) high semi-circular wall was erected to guard the western approaches to the town. On the eastern side, the town was bordered by the innermost part of the Schlei inlet and the bay of Haddebyer Noor.

Hedeby became a principal marketplace because of its geographical location on the major trade routes between the Frankish Empire and Scandinavia (north-south), and between the Baltic and the North Sea (east-west). Between 800 and 1000 the growing economic power of the Vikings led to its dramatic expansion as a major trading centre.

The following indicate the importance achieved by the town:

  • The town was described by visitors from England (Wulfstan – 9th century) and the Mediterranean (Al-Tartushi – 10th century).
  • Hedeby became the seat of a bishop (948) and belonged to the Archbishopric of Hamburg and Bremen.
  • The town minted its own coins (from 825?).
  • Adam of Bremen (11th century) reports that ships were sent from this portus maritimus to Slavic lands, to Sweden, Samland (Semlant) and even Greece.

Situated in present-day Germany’s northernmost state of Schleswig-Holstein, the location at the neck of Jutland was the perfect site for a trading port, as pre-Viking settlers had already recognised. Here, only a narrow land-crossing separates the Schlei, an inlet of the Baltic, in the east from the then tidal river to the west, giving access to the North Sea. In what were the early days of kingdoms in Scandinavia, the wealth and power generated by long-distance trade prompted Hedeby’s documented foundation by Danish King Göttrik at the beginning of the ninth century. Commercial contact also meant cultural contact leading to the spread of ideas and beliefs as well as fashions and technologies. Trade flourished, workshops produced their wares, the harbour expanded. And at this place where political and cultural boundaries met, one of Scandinavia’s earliest towns developed and thrived. Merchant ships came and went with their cargoes of furs, amber, soapstone, semi-precious stones, iron, silver, glass-beads…  and, not least, slaves.

But as a kingdom’s prized possession, Hedeby was fiercely fought over by rival rulers, and in the tenth century defences were built around it. In the course of the eleventh century, trading was relocated to a site at nearby Schleswig, and when Haithabu was ravaged in the middle of the century it was abandoned. The site within the semi-circular rampart was left virtually undisturbed in its rural context, keeping its memories and treasures hidden, until its rediscovery by archaeologists in the late nineteenth century.

http://www.schloss-gottorf.de/haithabu/das-museum/viking-museum-haithabu.

So, obviously, Hedeby was an extremely important port which Kings such as Ragnar would have deemed crucial to have under their control. During much of the 9th century, Hedeby was under the control of Danish rulers but some time during the late 9th century it fell under the rule of a Swedish dynasty. A Swedish dynasty founded by Olof the Brash is said to have ruled Hedeby during the last decades of the 9th century and the first part of the 10th century. This was told to Adam of Bremen by the Danish king Sweyn Estridsson, and it is supported by three runestones found in Denmark. Two of them were raised by the mother of Olof’s grandson Sigtrygg Gnupasson. The third runestone, discovered in 1796, is from Hedeby, the Stone of Eric (Swedish: Erikstenen). It is inscribed with Norwegian-Swedish runes. It is, however, possible that Danes also occasionally wrote with this version of the younger futhark.

For a long period of time, Hedeby was the kingship location, not just an Earldom under the rule of  a King.  Mr. Hirst presents us with a version of Hedeby where the land is now a minor Earldom under the rule of Danes and a fictional Sigvard was Earl. Sigvard was domineering and abusive, often asserting his power and ownership over Lagertha. He is brutal, ill-tempered, and frequently drunk, beating Lagertha when she talks back to him. Sigvard dislikes Bjorn, Lagertha’s son with Ragnar, and takes pleasure in insulting and humiliating him in front of his people.  Lagertha eventually stabbed him and his nephew, Einar killed him- it is important to remember, Lagertha did not kill him, Einar did!

After Sigvard’s death, supposedly the people chose Lagertha as their new Earl rather than Einar. Einar  was not much more trusted or liked it would seem, than his uncle Sigvard.  The fact that he had just murdered his uncle for control of the Earldom probably had something to do with their not choosing him as Earl. Yes, they did choose Lagertha as new Earl, which was extremely rare and not a generally accepted practice at the time, or for this land. I believe they would have expected her to quickly marry an acceptable candidate and then co-rule or step down in deference to the one she would marry. They would also have expected her to remain there as ruler during this most precarious transition period when the land would have been in disarray and turmoil over the recent events. This all brought Kalf into the picture. Kalf, also a fictional character, was Lagertha’s well trusted and liked second in command. We know little else of Kalf’s ties and relationships within Hedeby. He did state at one point that he had more right and claim to the title than Lagertha did. He was born in Hedeby…. but, surely there must be some other reason to justify his claim than just that fact? Hopefully, Mr. Hirst will address some of this in the future!

Before we go on with the real history of Hedeby, let’s look closer at what Kalf was dealing with in Hedeby when Lagertha so rashly decided to follow Ragnar to England. She left a land in disarray and expected Kalf to manage it all for her while she was gone. Kalf had to deal with Einar, who held a seething grudge against Lagertha for spurning his sexual offers- and for insulting him with the comment that he would never be Earl because even his own people considered him a failure and unworthy of ruling.  Their decision to choose an outsider and a woman over him as the next male in line would surely have ate deeply at him and he would have reason to cause rebellion and revolt against her in her absence. Einar was bitter and willing to go to any lengths to see her deposed. Kalf is an intelligent man, always thinking ahead, and thinking of consequences and repurcussions. There would have been many who might side with Einar in his rants against Lagertha. Kalf had to find a way to diffuse this situation, not cause more rebellion by the killing of Einar. Kalf was in a difficult position. He could accuse Einar of treason and have him killed, but that would only lead to more rebellion.  Kalf is also an ambitious man with goals of fame of his own. He has some reason or justification for feeling that he has right to this Earldom and he needs to find a way to accomplish that without complete civil war. He chose to indulge Einar and gain his support for him as Earl.  I believe that he felt that he could work the situation out with Lagertha if or when she should ever return. Realistically, the land of Hedeby was in some chaos at this time without an actual ruler. Who knew if Lagertha or Ragnar would return from the voyage, how long does a country wait for a ruler to return? Kalf took the steps he needed to ensure that Hedeby had a ruler, one who was liked, trusted and capable of ruling. As to the situation with Erlandeur, son of King Horik… when we look closer at the history of Hedeby, we will see that Kalf may have his own reasons for luring Erlandeur in, for playing his own deceptive game with Erlandeur in order to eventually destroy the boy himself.

I’ve mentioned previously that we know little about Kalf’s past history or why he might feel justified in his claim to the Earldom. But, if we look at the history of Hedeby, we will find that it was Erlandeur’s father, a King Horick who was much responsible for the demise of  any Royal households in Hedeby and it eventually lapsing into a more minor Earldom.

For our history purposes, I am only going to deal with the earlier periods of Hedeby’s history and not the later periods when it became a part of Denmark and Sweden at various point of time. As I have already stated, Hirst has placed it as an Earldom ruled by the Danes. There could of course be some future ambitions on Kalf’s part to undo this but we do not know of such plans right now.  For now, I want to present the portion of history that ties Hedeby to the Carolingian Frankish Empire led by Charlamagne, and to Horick of Denmark.

This is a list of Kings of Hedeby covering the time period of 780 to about 916. If you look towards the bottom of the list, you will find reference to Ragnar Lodbrok’s son Ivar the Boneless. You will also notice reference to the lands held in Britain, as in York or Jorvick.
Kings of Hedeby (Haithabu) House of Vestfold c.780–798

Sigurd I … son of king Øystein of Vestfold in Norway; king in southern Jutland 798–804

Harald I … brother of Sigurd I 804

Harald II … son of Harald I 804–810

Halfdan … son of Harald I 810

Sigurd II … son of king Halfdan II of Vestfold, brother of Sigurd I 810

Godfred I … brother of Sigurd II; Vestfold 802–810? 810–812 Hemming … son of Sigurd II & 810–812

Sigurd III … son of Sigurd II 812

Anulo … son of Halfdan 812–814

Harald III, Klak … son of Halfdan; deposed, died 844 & 812–814

Rörik … son of Halfdan; deposed, died 844 813–854

Erik I … son of Godfred I 854–870:

Erik II … son of Erik I & 854–862

Sigurd IV … son of Erik I & 854–885

Godfred II … son of Harald III 870:–891:

Erik III … son of Erik II 891:–894

Knud … son of Rörik; deposed, died 894 House of York (Jórvík) 894–c.910

Oluf, the Brash … son of (?) king Ivar the Boneless of York, son of Ragnar Lodbrok c.910–c.915

Gurd … son of Oluf & c.910–c.915 Gnupa … son of Oluf c.915–c.916 Sigtryg … son of Gnupa
I. Mladjov

The early history of Kings of Daneland and specifically, Hedeby is actually documented within Frankish records of Charlamagne and later rulers. It is detailed in the Annales Fuldenses, or Annals of Fulda are East Frankish chronicles that cover independently the period from the last years of Louis the Pious (died 840) to shortly after the end of effective Carolingian rule in East Francia with the accession of the child-king, Louis III, in 900. Throughout this period they are a near contemporary record of the events they describe and a primary source for Carolingian historiography. They are usually read as a counterpart to the narrative found in the West Frankish Annales Bertiniani.

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

These Frankish annal mention early Rulers of Daneland and Hedeby. They also document much of the unrest and civil wars of Daneland and Hedeby during those early years. During many of those disputes, the early rulers of Hedeby sought protection and aid from the Frankish Empire. There is a very detailed account of this history in research regarding one of the rulers, Harald III, Klak.  What is confusing here is that these early rulers of Hedeby were the earliest rulers of the entire land of Denmark. Because Hedeby was the largest and most important settlement at the time, the rulers generally located themselves in that area.

The earliest disputes  came from King Horick’s Father, Godfrid and his brother Halfdan.  Little is mentioned of Halfdan other than that he turned to Charlamagne and the Franks for aid. We do know more about Godfrid, who supposedly was murdered by one of his own sons…. an action which I would not put past or above Horik who eventually became King!

King horik's family of daughters

floki also plays the dangerous game of politics trying to gain horik's trust ragnar stabs horik and looks down at the bloody dagger

Fearing an invasion by the Franks, who had conquered heathen Frisia over the previous 100 years and Old Saxony in 772 to 804, Godfred began work on an enormous structure to defend his realm, separating Jutland from the northern extent of the Frankish Empire. The Frankish invasion never materialized, but it caused Gudfred to construct the first sections of the Danevirke, which ran from the Schlei toward the west coast of Denmark by means of the river Trende. The wall was built with an earthen embankment topped by a wooden stockade and protected from the south by a deep ditch. Denmark’s most important town, Hedeby, which apparently already existed on the Schlien, was expanded and garrisoned with Danish soldiers and the early sections of the wall were designed to protect it.

In 808, King Godfred forced the Obodrites to acknowledge him as their overlord. The citizens of Reric were allied with Charlemagne, who used the port as part of a strategic trade route. King Gudfred attacked Reric burnt it down, killed Chief Drożko and ordered the merchants to resettle at Hedeby, which was being integrated into the Danevirke defensive line.

In 809, King Godfred and emissaries of Charlemagne failed to negotiate peace. In 810, Gudfrid led 200 ships to plunder the Frisian coast, and forced the merchants and peasant to pay 100 pounds of silver and claimed Northern Frisia as Danish territory. To protect the northern coast of the Frankish Empire, Charlemagne began paying Viking chieftains to protect sections of the coast from the Schlei west to the Weser River. That same summer King Godfred was killed by one of his housecarls. According to Notker of St Gall, the bodyguard who murdered King Gudfred was one of his own sons.

For some reason, when Godfred died, his nephew, Hemming inherited the throne rather than any of his sons. No reason is given for this but in any case, Hemming’s rule did not last long. Hemming died and  Sigifrid, the nephew of King Godofrid, and Anulo, the nephew of Heriold and of the former king, both wished to succeed him. Being unable to agree on who should be king, they raised troops, fought a battle, and were both killed. The party of Anulo won, however, and made his brothers Heriold and Reginfrid their kings. The defeated party out of necessity had to go along with Anulo’s party and did not reject the brothers as their kings. They say that ten thousand nine hundred and forty men died in that battle.” Heriold usually translated to Harald. This would bring us to Harald Klak as ruler of Hedeby and Denmark. Harald and his brother Reginfrid were installed as co-rulers.

There was another rebellion led by the sons of Godfred- Horik would have been among them… Harald and Reginfrid were defeated. The Annales entries of 814 start with the death of Charlemagne. Louis the Pious became sole emperor and turned to diplomatic relations with other European powers. The Royal Annales then mention the continuation of the conflict among the Danes and that Harald Klak sought refuge in the court of Louis. “Heriold and Reginfrid, kings of the Danes, had been defeated and expelled from their kingdom the year before [813] by the sons of Godofrid, against whom they regrouped their forces and again made war. In this conflict Reginfid and the oldest son of Godofrid were killed. When this had come to pass, Heriold despaired of his cause, came to the emperor [Louis], and put himself under his protection. The emperor received him and told him to go to Saxony and to wait for the proper time when he would be able to give him the help which Heriold had requested.

Eventually, some sort of agreement was made whereby Harald would be co-ruler with two of those sons. One of those sons would have been Horik. Everything remained calm for a time until Harald once again pleaded for assistance. He and a group of 400 Danes again sought sanctuary from the Frankish Empire and assistance to restore him to his throne. This assistance was granted on condition that he accept the Christian faith and be baptized. He was also granted land in the Frankish realm should he ever need to seek asylum or refuge in the future.   On his return to Denmark Harald was probably accompanied by Saint Anskar and a group of monks and it may have been in this time that a church in Hedeby was first built, as well as a school were twelve Danish boys (some of whom were from Harald’s household) were to be educated as priests.

In the second year after his return to Denmark, however, in 827, he was once again expelled by the surviving sons of Gudfred. One of them was Horik I. The Royal Annals mention in 827: “The emperor [Louis] held two assemblies. One was at Nijmegen because Hohrek (Latin:Hohrici), son of Godofrid, the king of the Danes, had falsely promised to appear before the emperor.” Later in the year the Annals mention the deposition of Harald. “In the meantime the kings of the Danes, that is, the sons of Godofrid, deprived Heriold of his share of the kingship and forced him to leave Nordmannia.” The reason for the deposition is not mentioned. His introduction of Christianity may have also made him unpopular with his subjects. 

It seems that, in the years between 829 and 852, Harald had remained a figure of some influence in the region, but he never again managed to launch a serious attempt to regain the Danish throne, nor did the Frankish monarchs seem interested in sending more armies to fight his cause. He died two years before his rival King Horik the elder.

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

Horik I (died 854) reigned as sole King of the Danes from 827 to his violent death in 854. His reign was marked by Danish raids on the Franco-German empire of Louis the Pious, son and successor of Charlemagne.

Horik’s father was King Gudfred, known for his successful raids and wars against Charlemagne’s Frankish empire and against the Abodrites. In 810, Gudfred was assassinated by one of his own sons, and his nephew and successor Hemming made peace with Charlemagne.

Hemming did not last long. Horik and another of Gudfred’s sons took power in 811, later expelling a rival named Harald Klak, who took refuge at the court of Charlemagne’s son and successor, Louis the Pious. In 819, Louis forced Gudfred’s sons to accept Harald as co-ruler. Harald converted to Christianity in 826, with Louis standing as his godfather, but Harald was driven out of Denmark for the second and final time one year later. By then Horik was the only son of Gudfred’s still alive, making him the sole king of the Danes.

Horik refused to convert to Christianity, as it was his enemies’ religion, and resisted attempts by Archbishop Anskar of HamburgBremen to proselytize the Danes. In 845, Horik’s army attacked Hamburg and destroyed St. Mary’s Cathedral there. It was Horik’s last major war in East Francia.

However, Danish raids against Frisia continued. The Franks lacked an effective fleet, so the Danes could raid more or less with impunity. The Danes sacked the silver minting center of Dorestad in 834, 835, and 836, and plundered Walcheren in 837. In 845, a Viking warlord named Ragnar Lodbrok attacked Paris and had to be bought off with 7,000 French livres (pounds) (2,570 kilograms (5,670 lb)) of gold and silver.

King Horik seems to have disapproved of these raids, for successful raiders constituted possible rivals. Occasionally, Horik even punished raiders. In 836, Horik sent an embassy to King Louis declaring that he had nothing to do with the raids on Frisia, and that he had executed those responsible. In 845, following Ragnar’s mysterious death, he had Ragnar’s followers massacred.

In 854, King Horik I was killed by a nephew whom he had driven into exile. While in exile, the nephew had become a successful raider. No mention or name was ever given of the nephew who killed him.

In our Viking version of the history, Kalf makes a point of stating that no Christian King would ever be able to rule their land or their people.

Kalf's response to Ragnar's baptism  I hope it is true because no Christian King will ever be allowed to rule the vikings

Kalf’s response to Ragnar’s baptism I hope it is true because no Christian King will ever be allowed to rule the Vikings

 

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

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

While our Kalf is a fictional creation, I can’t help but wonder what his past story is, how he might possibly be connected to any of Hedeby’s rich history of dissenters and disputes over the throne of Danemark?

Aside from Hedeby’s rich Royal links, it’s history goes even deeper than that.

The broad and deep impact of the Danish peoples on world history has been long appreciated by scholars of the middle ages.  This is especially true for a branch of the Danish royal family that held the ancient town of Hedeby for many centuries.  Hedeby was perhaps the oldest and largest town and the most active marketplace in ancient Scandinavia.  Hedeby lies in the ancient region of Angle, which is now positioned in the modern German district of Schleswig-Holstein. 

 Wikinger Museum Haithabu 

 

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hedebyhouses001.jpg

The Angles, a subgroup of the Danish peoples, are well known in history for their role in the Anglo-Saxon development of England.  The full extent of Danish influence and especially that of the Angles, however, is only recently beginning to surface.  This site is developed for the purpose of further documenting the role of the Angles in world history in accordance with recent and ongoing discoveries, including those based on archeology, DNA and various other forms of research.

The seat of power in Angle was Hedeby-Haithabu, and the regional name of Angle derives from the angled, or curved shape of the large semi-circular bailey fort at Hedeby.  Hedeby was an ideal location due to its position at the end of a very long inlet that cuts half way through lower Denmark.  Merchants would pass through Hedeby to substantially reduce transit time and risk, a benefit for which merchants were happy to pay a toll to the kings of Angle.

A dominant feature of the fort at Hedeby was the placement of Hawthorn bushes atop a tall earthen wall.  These bushes bristle with long, sharp thorns, providing additional defense against invaders.  The wall was curved (angled) in a semi-circle, with one side opening to a bay.  This curved wall and the thorns of the Hawthorn bush are defining features of the fort at Hedeby, and many places and people from Angle are named in honor of these and other features of the Hedeby fort.  The list of such names is quite long, but we might consider a few root words and composite names relevant to the I1a migration topic:

  • Bul/Bol:  cognate with ball, bowl, meaning “round, curved”
  • Rus/Ris:  derives from O.N. hris, meaning “thorny thicket”
  • Ger/Gar:  derives from PIE *ghers- “stand out, rise to a point, bristle” used to name the thorny briar and spear
  • Poe/Pa:  cognate with pea, meaning “round, curved”
  • Tringen:  Old Frisian, “ring, curved”
  • Phris/Pres:   authorities beginning with Chalmers (see Watson) correctly identified -fries with Gaelic preas, Angl. pres(s), gen. phris, Angl. -fries, gen. pl. preas, (b)p(h)reasach, “bush, copse, thicket, briar”

From these root words, we get the following names:

  • Bulgar, “round [wall] of thorns”
  • Rus, “thorny thicket”
  • Rustringen, “round [wall] of thorny thicket”
  • Paris, “round [wall] of thorny thicket”
  • Frisia, “land named for the thorny thicket”

These names support the notion that Hedeby is the nucleus for migration of the Angles to Paris, York, Frisia, Kiev, Bolghar (Volga Bulgars), and Bulgaria (Danube Bulgars).

The Angles are known to have favored York and we know that a mass migration from Angle to York happened in the 5th century.  In the 9th century, the famous Viking Ragnar was ruler of Hedeby and was captured and killed in York.  His son Sigurd (aka Ingvar) captured York, which became an Angle stronghold and the capital of Northumbria.  A tribe called the Parisii held York in the 1st century.  As mentioned, the Parisii and Paris derive from Pa-hris, “round [wall] of thorny thicket” and are named in honor of Hedeby.  The Parisii “tribe” was also found in France near Paris.

Frisia is an ancient land lying within the current political boundaries of The Netherlands.   The Frisii and Frisia are names for the fris or thorny thicket ring hedge that characterized Hedeby.  Similarly, the Belgea and Bulgar are each named for the boll-ger, or “ring of thorns.”

The use of thick hedgeworks for defense was not known in Italy.  A tribe of the Belgea, the Nervii, became known to Julius Caesar during his campaigns.  The Nervii tribe, he says, had an ancient practice: they cut into slender trees and bent them over so that many branches came out along their length; they finished these off by inserting brambles and briars, so that these hedges formed a defense like a wall, which could not only not be penetrated but not even be seen through.  There is some evidence for hedges from excavation.  For instance, Hawthorn berry pits are found in great quantities in the refuse layers of Hedeby.  Archeologists are puzzled, as Hawthorn berries are not generally considered edible.  Also, part of a hedge was excavated at Bar Hill (Dunbartonshire).  Beneath the Roman fort were found hawthorn stems.

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

There is one other very important concept that these earliest Dacians/Angels passed on to their future generations, and it applies directly to the situation that Lagertha is in right now with regard to ruling Hedeby. That extremely critical and paramount concept is, The Right to Rule!

Right to Rule

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

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

We should consider the many similarities among the the Goths, Dacians and Thracians.  They shared common cultural characteristics and often shared a common government.  We might consider the possibility that these groups of peoples were aware of their common heritage and perhaps ruled by branches of a common ruling family.

When Kalf makes his point that he has better right and claim than Lagertha, the most rational or real reason for that could be if he is hiding something in his family history that would somehow link him to that “Right to Rule”? Just the fact that he is from Hedeby would not necessarily give him just reason to make such claim over hers. In Lagertha’s defense, she was the wife of the previous Earl and the people did choose her, although they later changed their mind. And, in looking at the history of Hedeby as we have, if Kalf does have some as yet unknown better claim to Hedeby, he might have some better claim to the rule of all Danemark because it is all tied together!

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf gives his speech I was born here in hedeby I belong here I have better claim and right to this than you

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

If one observes Kalf and his actions in Paris, he does present a regal and confident appearance. Some might say he displays that inherent leadership quality and bearing that those who carry a Leadership gene present naturally.  So, where might he have inherited it from, and what does he do with it in the future? Some of you are probably asking, What the Hell is a Leadership gene anyway and what does it have to do with this subject!

Kalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

Well, that my friends is what I intend to discuss in my next post! We will look this leadership gene concept and how it relates and applies to that concept of Right to Rule and Rule by divine right!

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

For more information on the rich history of Hedeby, here are some  additional excellent links!

Hurstwic: Towns and Traditions

http://www.hurstwic.org/history/articles/daily_living/text/Towns.htm

Viking Museum Haithabu

http://www.schloss-gottorf.de/haithabu/das-museum/viking-museum-haithabu

The Vikings- Heading west:

http://www.ivargault.com/vikingene/vesterled_en.html

 

 

 

 

Lagertha and Ragnar: Why love is not enough

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

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

lagertha and bjorn

I hear so many people lament over Lagertha and Ragnar no longer being together, so many who desperately wish for some happy reunion or ending to this love story, that I feel like I need to put down my personal thoughts about it.  I want to share why I think that while this desire for happily ever after is just a romantic dream, a wishful thought, a fairy tale ending of sorts.  I do not think that there will ever be, nor should there be such reunion between these two. I will agree on the fact that yes, they do still love each other, and will hold that deep love for each other forever. That does not mean however, that their love for each other is enough to overcome the life events that have come between them. We need to look at their relationship realistically in terms of who each of them is now, what they have went through and done to each other. In this case, my personal thought is it comes down more to what Ragnar has done to Lagertha than what she has done to him.  Because, really- what has she done to him, other than stand up for herself, her principles and her self pride.

When we first met this couple, they were young, happy in love,  filled with curiosity and desire for adventure. They were passionate and volatile in their relationship and their views on life as a whole. We fell in love with them as a family in those early years and always hoped for that love story to go on. But, we overlooked some of the realities of their relationship and put it down to just their passionate spirits overtaking them. We glossed over the physical arguments that put their son Bjorn in the middle, having to play peace maker or choose sides in their disagreements and disputes.

bjorn in the middle bjorn breaks up the fight

young Bjorn

young Bjorn

From the earliest beginnings of this relationship there have been problems between the two but we always chose to overlook those problems in hopes of a happy outcome. There were hints of Lagertha’s possible past with Rollo- which we will probably never know the truest extent of, but Rollo often set himself as her protector. He admitted early on that everything he did for his brother, he was really doing for Lagertha. That is really of no consequence in this particular discussion other than to point out the fact that there already underlying issues in their relationship.

rollo and lagertha2 rollo's response to lagertha

Through many of their difficulties and troubles, Lagertha remained steadfast and loyal to Ragnar, staunchly defending him and standing up for him no matter what he did even when it went against her grain to go along with it. She would fight his decisions but would follow his lead. It often felt like Lagertha has always had far more invested in this relationship than Ragnar. Ragnar often demeaned her, took her for granted and assumed that she would always be there for him no matter what he did. I could go on and on in citing specific instances of how he treated her but, really that is not even what this is about. We all know of their history together and if we look at it honestly, we can see that this couple was not such a fairy tale after all, not such a destined to be together forever couple.

The breaking point for Lagertha of course, was when Ragnar brought his other woman Aslaug into their home, their life and expected her to be accepting of it. Lagertha’s self pride was too much for this affront to her. She loved Ragnar deeply and unconditionally for the most part, and she assumed that he felt the same about her. She would have accepted his affair with Aslaug had he left it at that, but instead he chose to bring the woman into Lagetha’s home and her life, and he expected Lagertha to willingly accept all of this. For Lagertha, this was a betrayal of the deepest sort- this was a betrayal of their love and of the heart where it hurt the most. I think that this in itself was the end of their most personal relationship even though she still loved him. She loved him but she could not live with him and this betrayal of her heart.

Vikings-Princess-Aslaug-Alyssa-Sutherland-Ragnar-Lothbrok-Travis-Fimmel-and-Lagertha-Katheryn-Winnick

lagertha prepares to leave

lagertha prepares to leave

leaving ragnar

Lagertha made her choice to leave Ragnar, but she did not force their son, Bjorn to go with her… Ragnar could hold resentment against her for taking Bjorn away but, in reality it was Bjorn’s choice to go with his Mother. Could she have forced Bjorn to stay, yes she could have but honestly and realistically, in their society, Bjorn was a man and capable of making his own decisions as to who he would live with. Lagertha respected that decsision on his part and took him with her. In the future, there would be resentments felt if not openly admitted regarding that choice. Again, it does not necessarily pertain to the personal relationship between Lagertha and Ragnar but only adds to later difficulties and resentments between the two. 

Even after years of being apart, Lagertha was still emotionally attached to Ragnar to come to his aid when he needed it. She left her village of Hedeby with son Bjorn against her husband’s wishes and approval to come Ragnar’s aid and help him become King. Even this though, could not compel her to remain there in Kattegat near him. She did however leave Bjorn with him this time because that was also Bjorn’s choice. Lagertha understood even then already, that as much as she might love Ragnar, she could no longer compromise her own personal values and principles in order to be with him. In a sense, Lagertha had already moved on with her life and tried to set her feelings for Ragnar aside. She knows that as much as she loves him so deeply and unconditionally, he does not return that feeling mutually and equally. She can not stop herself from feeling that love for him but that does not mean that she will ever allow herself to act on it or put it out there openly again for him to use her or betray her heart once again.  Lagertha loves Ragnar but she knows him well and understands him…she knows what he is capable of and what, ultimately he is not capable of. What he is not capable of is loving her on that same level that she loves him. I think that she has seen well enough through the years that much like King Ecbert, who she was also attracted to, Ragnar is unable to truly love someone else because as we are coming to see, he doesn’t truly love himself… He is so consumed with his personal issues, with thoughts of power, of revenge and of mistrust of others that there is little room left in his mind or heart left for that deeper emotion of love. The only one left whom he might feel that love for is their son, Bjorn? But, in the end, when you think about it, he has used Bjorn as well, and now has put Bjorn in the position once more of having to choose sides between Father and Mother. In a way, it is kind of like his last and final blow of revenge against Lagertha… in his own way, he has said without speaking, “I win, I will have our son with me, on my side”.

bjorn watches lagertha head past them and knows this will end yet again in him having to decide between parents lagertha and bjorn

Ragnar has used Lagertha, taken her for granted one too many times for Lagertha to any longer be able to set all of that aside for the sake of love. As I have already said, Lagertha has understood this for quite some time and accepted it. She knows that there is something about this man that she will forever hold in her heart, forever love despite his behavior and his treatment of her. She has accepted it and can even be friends with him on some level but that does not mean that she would ever go so far as to give her heart openly to him again. And, at this point, I have some feeling that he may have even crossed that last line of friendship on her part.

His recent actions, his final deception and his ultimate mistrust in all of them, I believe will cause her to walk away from him for good this time. How many times can you put yourself, your heart and your trust out there for someone you believe in, care about and love, have it trampled on and used against you before you say, “This is enough, I can not do this any longer no matter how much I might care for you.”

Lagertha is not amused with Ragnar's speech to her

Ragnar has to put them all in their place and shut them up!

Ragnar has to put them all in their place and shut them up!

Ragnar  as a ruler I have the last say

When Lagertha thought it was all finally over for them, she shared her truest and deepest feelings about him, admitting that love that she had held on to for so long.

lagertha watching ragnar in pain

lagertha watching ragnar in pain

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn's announcement

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn’s announcement

lagertha's last words with ragnar

Lagertha says her private goodbye to Ragnar

She pours out her heartfelt emotions in private, little knowing of his final betrayal… In Lagerta’s mind and heart this is the deepest betrayal and violation of all because once she realizes what he has done, she knows that he will find a way to use these private thoughts against her in some way. He has also completely destroyed what ever trust she may have had in him by not placing any value or trust in her. Without trust there can be no true future in love.

If you have gone to heaven we shall never meet again

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

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

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

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

What we see played out with the relationship between Lagertha and Ragnar is not some romantic fairytale love story of the ages. In a sense, it is a one sided love story that can not have a happy ending because for one thing, after everything that has happened between the two of them, it would go completely against what we have seen about both of them. It is a harsh and difficult story of real life love and how that love is not always enough to conquer all. It is though, a story of hope, understanding and acceptance that while we may not have our chance at such true love in this life, we do not give up hope that we will have it in the next life, the after life. It is a story of Lagertha’s understanding that love can not fix everything, that love does not make everything ok, and it speaks of her inner strength, her character, her spirit in that she will not give up on love but neither will she allow herself to be completely ruled and subjugated by that love. She will no longer accept a version of love that must put her on an unequal level.  Hopefully, one day she will find a truer love that is shared equally by both people. And, if she does not find such a love, she will be at peace with herself for having experienced love and knowing that she does not have to settle or accept. She is coming to understand that love should be equal and unconditional between two people.

Now, I want to share why this story of Lagertha and Ragnar touches my heart so much, why I can understand it well and why I do not expect, need or want some happily ever after to it’s ending. I want to share the story of my Grand parents who had, in some ways, just such a similar love story. Were they Vikings… no, of course they weren’t, they weren’t even Norse. That does not make any difference in their story.

My Grandparents were two young people from slightly different backgrounds, living in northern Minnesota in the early 1900s.  Susie was the oldest daughter of a somewhat well off merchant family in the area. She was their oldest daughter and had a somewhat independent and adventurous streak to her. She took a job teaching school at a small one room school in an isolated farm area where she met my Grandfather, Ed. Ed was the son of farmers and he was one of the oldest students in her class. Ed was not content to be a farmer, and he was not all that interested in being in school… until Susie arrived as his teacher. Ed was a rebellious, rowdy teen who caused her a few problems in the class room. It was not long though before Ed and Susie felt their attraction for each other. For all intensive purposes, it was a quick, whirlwind courtship and they did love each other. They were married, despite Susie’s family’s misgivings and reservations about the relationship. Susie was headstrong and stubborn. She loved him and would not be talked out of marrying him.

From what I can gather, they did have a few good years in the beginning. They were young, head over heels in love with each other and they were trying to make a life together under difficult circumstances. As I said, Ed was not content to be a farmer, though he did try at first. Nor was Susie all that much of a farmer either in the beginning. Her family were storekeepers and she may have been raised in a farming community but her parents always had better visions for their children. So, neither of them were such great farmer… and probably not all that content with that way of life on the farm with Ed’s family. They were both adventurous, curious and a bit free spirited during those early years. They also quickly became parents, which put a damper on Susie’s adventurous spirit. Susie was not one to let children stand in her way though. When they were small, she took them with her as she followed Ed to the logging camps of Northern Minnesota. For a time, that worked out alright for them.  They were still together and though Ed was filled with wanderlust and discontent, they seemed to manage. Susie was willing to put up with quite a lot in her love of Ed. She parted with her older children as they got old enough for school, leaving them often with their Grandparents during the school years. This enabled her to keep traveling around with Ed and his adventuring spirit. Eventually, there came too many young ones to leave them with relatives and Susie needed to stay in one place with them. Ed was never content in one place or one job for very long and the family was often on the move, following him to new places and new job possibilities. Their life was not easy by any means, nor was it filled with such happiness. Along with being a wanderer, Ed was a drinker, and not always a happy drinker either. He could be extremely abusive to Susie and to the children. Ed also had a wandering eye for women. Susie overlooked much of this over the years because she loved him.

Much like Lagertha, Susie overlooked much of Ed’s behavior and treatment of his family because she loved him but the one thing she could not overlook or endure was when his wandering eye became more than that.  He would leave her and the children often, but always come back assuming that Susie would always be there for him. One of his departures and affairs hit far too close to home though for Susie. He entered into a relationship with a young woman the same age as his oldest daughter, and in the same town as where all of Susie’s relatives lived. This of all the things she had put up with for the sake of love of him, was too much for her to take. She was humiliated and looked at this as an ultimate betrayal by him. This was the breaking point for Susie in their tumultuous and volatile relationship. Susie could not forgive him for this act and told him that he was no longer welcome in her life or their children’s lives.

Was that the final ending of their relationship? Well, no not quite… Ed did take her at her word at that point and left to start some life with this other woman. Much of the story after that had to be pieced together from what others have remembered of the times and the events because Susie never really spoke of it or him again. He remained in the nearby town for a time with this other woman and had four children with her. The two oldest died as infants and the two younger ones were never aware as they grew up that Ed was even their Father because he left and this young woman quickly married someone else. Now, one part of this whole story is interesting in the fact that as far we can tell, there was never any actual divorce documented or recorded between Ed and Susie. We have never been able to locate one in any searches of court records of the time. Susie was a devout Catholic and the idea of divorce would have went against her inner thinking, no matter what she knew for the best. Also, there is a conversation remembered by some others of what Susie told Ed the last time that he tried to come back to her and needed her help. Susie told Ed that he needed to just leave town, leave her alone because everyone thought he was dead anyway. After leaving the woman in the nearby town, Ed had wandered around, gotten into various bits of trouble here and there, and always seemed to come back to Susie for help. She would not let him stay with her but did often try to help him out until that last event when she told him he had to leave town for good. Part of Susie’s reasoning for this was self and family survival. Ed was not one to offer any sort of financial support, so having four young children to take care of, Susie had turned to the church and welfare for assistance. At that time, the only way to get the help she needed was to be a widow, so that is what she made herself. In doing that, it was crucial to Susie that he not destroy her only means of assistance. Ed did go along with her on this. He left town in the middle of the night assisted by some members of their family and that was supposedly the last that Susie or her children ever had any knowledge of him.

Ed took Susie at her word, he became dead for all surface purposes. He left town, eventually changed his name a few times, moved across country, leaving more than a few added families on his journey and as far as we know, Susie and his family never heard from him again until many years later when Susie was in the hospital dying. Susie had never remarried, never had another relationship and always vowed that for what it was worth, she had always loved Ed… she just couldn’t live with him.

All of those years later, as Susie waited for death in her hospital bed, she kept holding on for some reason. Her family thought she was delirious when she kept saying that she was waiting for Ed, that he still needed her. It was a shock to say the least, when Ed appeared at the hospital to visit her. His reason was that something was telling him that Susie needed him? Well, ironically and sadly, Susie was still right… Ed did still need her for one last thing and she somehow knew it in her heart. What Ed had really come back for was that he was in need of Susie’s signature on a piece of paper to verify who he originally was so that he could apply for social security benefits. He had changed his name legally many years before but needed some proof of who he was previously in order to qualify for those benefits. Now, realistically, what made him decide that he needed to do it at that particular time? There was some deeper underlying connection between the two of them that spoke to each in that time near Susie’s end of life, something that did indeed tell him to come back now before it was too late. That same connection told Susie to hold on, to wait for him because he did need her one last time.

There is no doubt in my mind or heart that Ed and Susie did love each other on some deeper and spiritual level than most can imagine but Susie was strong enough to fight that surface love that brought some much heartbreak and pain, to set that aside for the emotional survival of herself and her children and all the while hold on to that inner spiritual connection, that much deeper unconditional love that she had for this man, perhaps knowing that one day they would meet again in that other place and be together in happiness rather than hurt.

As for Ed’s future path, he walked into those lives of his children for a short time and then left them again, saying it was too difficult to go on with a relationship with them as he had never told his current wife or daughter anything about his past. Some years later he ended up in a nursing home suffering from dementia and his daughter thought his ramblings about relatives and family in Minnesota were just delusions of his deteriorating mind. She had no idea that he was telling her stories of his past until many years after that when she discovered the truth from others who were searching for information on him.

My Grandfather, in some ways, like Ragnar, left many broken and damaged lives behind him on his wanderings and his journey through life. Do I hate him for it? Yes, in some ways I do, for all of the pain that he caused my Mother, his oldest daughter- who was old enough when he left to understand, to feel such resentment and betrayal of his leaving them. It was my Mother, who as she reached the end of her life, asked me to search for him, to find out what happened to those families he left and to put the pieces together. My Mother held on to the secrets of their life until the very end and then was able to forgive him for his acts and only hope for some closure for his other families. In other ways, I understand him, his reasons for leaving Susie, at least, if not the other families.

Do I forgive him for those actions that shaped all of our lives for better or worse? Yes, I do forgive him because it is for me to judge his actions. His actions resulted in the paths that each of us have taken since then. In some way, it was his fate, his destiny, his path to travel in order to set the future course and path of all of us who have followed in the aftermath.

My one remaining hope is that somewhere on that other side, in that other place, much like Lagertha and Ragnar, my Grandparents have reunited, set aside those earthly human differences and hurts to find each other once more, to laugh, to sing, to rejoice and love each other once more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Lagertha… a Warrior Goddess worth dying for!

Ok, there is one situation in Paris that we have not talked about yet? I think we should look at it before we see Ragnar’s upcoming wrath… because if you’ve viewed the previous promo clip from my last post, you will be well aware that a portion of  his anger is directed at Lagertha for some reason. Perhaps he’s annoyed with her recent alliance with Kalf? Yes, as much as she professes to hate Kalf, she has proven that while she may hate him, she is not immune to his better qualities!

Now, I know that we make much of the Viking men around us and often end up leaving the women out… I am going to remedy that a bit today with a little tribute to our own Viking Goddess, Lagertha! It seems the only one not enamored of her lately is her ex-husband, Ragnar! Ragnar is often downright rude to her and seems to constantly find ways to cut at her with his remarks and his disregard for her feelings. If he has some inner desire to get her back, I believe he is going about it in the wrong way! Well, fortunately for Lagertha, as I said, other men seem to appreciate her assets. Rollo knows things are long over between him and this feisty shield maiden but he continues to hold a spot for her in his heart. Ecbert of Wessex was extremely fond of her, comparing her to one of those ancient Roman Goddesses. And, Kalf has made it abundantly clear that no matter what their other issues are, he desires her more than anything, he stated in the past that he thinks their fates are twined together… And, quite recently he set out to prove just that!

Lagertha Our lives are stories: Fan art by Jul Sanchez at facebook group, Vikings the Aftermath

Lagertha Our lives are stories: Fan art by Jul Sanchez at facebook group, Vikings the Aftermath

lagertha must leave because Oh Lagertha in some things you are so wise  in others you are so naive  Rollo states the obvious All men are ambitious2 Lagertha the free woman the pagan goddes nobody's pawn

lagertha's thought... ummm no this isn't wrong in fact I think it's going pretty well

lagertha’s thought… ummm no this isn’t wrong in fact I think it’s going pretty well

rollo and lagertha

lagertha the goddess

lagertha the goddess

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

kalf admits I did yes I did even though all the while I was desiring you.

I am not going to go over her entire life history here, we all know of it already. She is a strong independent and stubborn woman, a shield maiden, a Mother, a wife spurned for a younger woman by one husband and abused by another husband. She handled both of those situations and is even stronger from those experiences. She makes her share of mistakes, sometimes she is far too trusting, other times she is far too stubborn and refuses to give up even when she might not be right. She is also now a Grandmother who is far from ready to sit at home and knit… if she even knows how to knit?

Here is a little of Lagertha’s story in real history:

Lagertha’s tale is recorded in passages in the ninth book of the Gesta Danorum, a 12th-century work of Danish history by Saxo Grammaticus. According to the Gesta (¶ 9.4.1–9.4.11), Lagertha’s career as a warrior began when Frø, king of Sweden, invaded Norway and killed the Norwegian king Siward. Frø put the women of the dead king’s family into a brothel for public humiliation. Hearing of this, Ragnar Lodbrok came with an army to avenge his grandfather Siward. Many of the women Frø had ordered abused dressed themselves in men’s clothing and fought on Ragnar’s side. Chief among them, and key to Ragnar’s victory, was Lagertha. Saxo recounts:

Ladgerda, a skilled Amazon, who, though a maiden, had the courage of a man, and fought in front among the bravest with her hair loose over her shoulders. All-marvelled at her matchless deeds, for her locks flying down her back betrayed that she was a woman.

Impressed with her courage, Ragnar courted her from afar. Lagertha feigned interest and Ragnar arrived to seek her hand, bidding his companions wait in the Gaular valley. He was set upon by a bear and a great hound which Lagertha had guarding her home, but killed the bear with his spear and choked the hound to death. Thus he won the hand of Lagertha in marriage. According to Saxo, Ragnar had a son with her, Fridleif, as well as two daughters, whose names are not recorded.

After returning to Denmark to fight a civil war, Ragnar (who, according to Saxo, was still annoyed that Lagertha had set beasts against him) divorced Lagertha in order to marry Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, daughter of King Herrauðr of Sweden.He won the hand of his new love after numerous adventures, but upon returning to Denmark was again faced with a civil war. Ragnar sent to Norway for support, and Lagertha, who still loved him, came to his aid with 120 ships, according to Saxo. When at the height of the battle, Ragnar’s son Siward was wounded, Lagertha saved the day for Ragnar with a counterattack:

Ladgerda, who had a matchless spirit though a delicate frame, covered by her splendid bravery the inclination of the soldiers to waver. For she made a sally about, and flew round to the rear of the enemy, taking them unawares, and thus turned the panic of her friends into the camp of the enemy.

Upon returning to Norway, she quarreled with her husband, and slew him with a spearhead she concealed in her gown. Saxo concludes that she then “usurped the whole of his name and sovereignty; for this most presumptuous dame thought it pleasanter to rule without her husband than to share the throne with him”.

According to Judith Jesch, the rich variety of tales in the first nine books of Saxo’s Gesta, which include the tale of Lagertha, are “generally considered to be largely fictional”.In portraying the several warrior women in these tales, Saxo drew on the legend of the Amazons from classical antiquity, but also on a variety of Old Norse (particularly Icelandic) sources, which have not been clearly identified. Saxo’s depiction of women warriors is also colored by misogyny: Like most churchmen of the time, Saxo thought of women only as sexual beings. To him, the Viking shieldmaidens who refused this role were an example of the disorder in old heathen Denmark that was later cured by the Church and a stable monarchy.

A woman called Hlaðgerðr, who rules the Hlaðeyjar, also appears in the sagas of the 6th century Scylding king Halfdan. She gives him twenty ships to help defeat his enemies.Hilda Ellis Davidson, in her commentary on the Gesta, also notes suggestions in the literature that the name was used by the Franks, for instance by Luitgarde of Vermandois (c. 914–978), and that the tale of Lagertha could have originated in Frankish tradition.

When Saxo describes Lagertha as “flying round” (circumvolare) to the rear of the enemy, he ascribes to her the power of flight, according to Jesch, indicating a kinship with the valkyries. The tale notably recalls that of Kára, the valkyrie lover of Helgi Haddingjaskati, who flies above Helgi in battle as a swan, casting spells in his support.

Davidson deems it possible, as Nora K. Chadwick considered very probable, that Lagertha is identical with Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr (Thorgerd), a goddess reflected in several stories.

Thorgerd was worshipped by, and sometimes said to be wed to, the Norwegian ruler Haakon (c. 937–995), who lived at Hlaðir (Lade). This may be the origin of the name Hlaðgerðr Gaulardal, the Gaular valley – where Lagertha lived according to Saxo – lies nearby and was the center of Thorgerd’s cult. It was also, according to Snorri, the abode of Haakon’s wife Thora.  Finally, the description of Lagertha coming to Ragnar’s aid with flying hair is similar to how the Flateyjarbók describes Thorgerd and her sister Irpa assisting Haakon.

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

So, Ecbert was not misguided in his assumption of Lagertha being a Goddess!

lagertha is awestruck

lagertha is awestruck

All of the men in her life, as well as the rest of us, have seen her at her very worst but are still fascinated and drawn to her.  There is something about her inner spirit, and strength that draws people to her…. much like a Goddess to hold belief in.

104,_Lagertha_et_al lagertha must tell Ragnar what has happened lagertha leads her family Stay strong be ready siggy tries to comfort lagertha Farmer Lagertha agrees to visit Ecbert's home what is up with Laggie it looks like she's been sleepin in the barn rolling in dirt and hay Kalf tries to warn lagertha and keep her safe

The other thing that sets her apart from others is her sense of honor, her basic human goodness, which even in her mistakes, she never waivers from. She may be a shield maiden, a warrior killer when she needs to be, but she does not kill unjustly and she will fight for those being abused whether they are her people or not.  For her, there is a difference between killing in battle for what you believe in or a battle against other warriors and killing for other less honorable reasons. Lagertha is a woman with a conscience, trying to keep her battle side and her personal side separate. Sometimes, she achieves that, other times not so much. She is also a woman trying to succeed and achieve her own reputation, which is so important to the Vikings, in a male dominated career field.  She is not so much different than women today! She knows that she has to prove herself among the men in order to be taken seriously.

In this recent battle for the Gates of Paris, we saw her struggle with this physically and emotionally. We also saw her ongoing struggle for power with Kalf. Ever since Kalf usurped her title of Earl of Hedeby, the two have been in a personal battle of wills over this issue.  I know that Kalf is not a favorite of many people who see him as the evil conniving wrong doer to Lagertha… well that and his sudden friendship with the sleazy Erlandeur to whom he has vowed to bring down the entire Lothbrok clan.  That is a separate issue and even I can not take a venture as to what is really going on there?  In the situation of who should be Earl, Ragnar did tell Kalf it was a personal matter for him and Lagertha to work out… Kalf was willing to work something out with her because as he stated, even through all of it, he desired her… and he did state that he believes the matter is far from over, that their lives are fated to be twined together. Well, let’s just say that he made a good start at that twining together in the aftermath of this battle!

The battle went badly, we all know it. It was really no one’s fault and none of these fine warrior should blame themselves for their loss.  During the battle at the gates, Lagertha struggled to keep her leadership intact, but Kalf  stepped in when he saw problems arise. He could not help it, he is a warrior as well and sometimes people need to admit when their plan is not working so well… Lagertha must work on this!

Lagertha takes a moment to think things through

Lagertha takes a moment to think things through

lagertha's a little stressed this is taking too long is it time for a mead break yet

lagertha’s a little stressed this is taking too long is it time for a mead break yet

Kalf being patient letting Lagertha lead but....

Kalf being patient letting Lagertha lead but….

at the gates Kalf has taken over much to lagertha's annoyance

at the gates Kalf has taken over much to lagertha’s annoyance

Once they did manage to get inside, it was Kalf who quickly realized it was a trap and their lives were in danger. Lagertha, being her stubborn self, did not want to listen to Kalf so he took matters into his own hands

Kalf realizes there is something wrong with this empty hall Kalf quickly realizes their dangerous situation Kalf tries to warn lagertha and keep her safe Lagertha her stubborn self will not listen so Kalf does what he has to and drags her back out of the way.

Kalf saved her life during that battle. They both survived to deal with the aftermath of it.  Once they returned to camp, Lagertha had to deal with the fact that her son, Bjorn was nearly killed. Needless to say, she was not having a good day!

lagertha and Rollo hover over Bjorn

lagertha and Rollo hover over Bjorn

Instead of easing her worries or offering any comfort, Ragnar chides her and Rollo for their worries over Bjorn.

Lagertha asks what happened and ragnar answers he was proving that he is a leader of men without the title

Lagertha asks what happened and ragnar answers he was proving that he is a leader of men without the title

Later that evening as she tries to recover and pull herself together, the one to seek her out and offer comfort is Kalf!

Lagertha tries to recover from the disaster Kalf asks How are you  her only reply Alive

Of course, initially that just causes her more aggrevation and annoyance, but Kalf does not give in. He calmly lets her vent her frustration sets about comforting her anyway. Now, we begin to see how Lagertha truly feels about him… as much as she professes to hate him, she does not stop him or pull away as he continues.

kalf shows his concern and care for lagertha

kalf shows his concern and care for lagertha

Kalf says nothing but picks up the sponge to comfort lagertha in some way

Kalf says nothing but picks up the sponge to comfort lagertha in some way

Kalf: I know that I desire you with all my heart

Kalf: I know that I desire you with all my heart

 

Kalf:  you want to hate me but you can not for you desire me as much as I desire you.

Kalf: you want to hate me but you can not for you desire me as much as I desire you.

Kalf to Lagertha I want to be with you

Kalf is honest and open with her about their feelings. Lagertha could have slapped him, or done any other violence to him and kicked him out of her room. She did none of that, she let him go on and asked him why she should trust or believe him. His answer is simply, “I could have just let you die.”  Lagertha goes on to put forth another question, “What if I accept what you have to say? What if I choose to be with you, go with you but…”

Kalf : I could have let you die  Lagertha asks what if I accept what you have to say?

Kalf : I could have let you die Lagertha asks what if I accept what you have to say?

lagertha but I will never forgive you and one day I will kill you

lagertha but I will never forgive you and one day I will kill you

Lagerthalagertha but I will never forgive you and one day I will kill you

but I will never forgive you and one day I will kill you

Lagertha’s words that while she might agree to be with him but one day she will kill him cause a moment of concern for Kalf.  He must decide whether she is deadly serious, and whether time spent enjoying her company is worth that future possibility?

 

Lagertha's threat causes a moment of concern for Kalf

Lagertha has put her threat out there for him, warned him of her deepest feeling and waits for his response.

Lagertha if you accept that condition then let us be together and enjoy each other

if you accept that condition then let us be together and enjoy each other

Kalf has decided that what ever time he can spend in Lagertha’s embrace are worth any threat to his life in the future.  Now, that is the power of a Goddess!

Lagertha gives into her desire for Kalf

Lagertha gives into her desire for Kalf

I will be with you

So, Kalf and Lagertha have made their own rather unique alliance, are on their way to working out their personal differences in some way… Only the Seer knows how this will all turn out!

 

One last thought on Lagertha’s Warrior Goddess status… if she is truly an incarnation of a Goddess, the question begging to be answered is, What form would she take in today’s world? Because as we know, the Goddess is eternal. She never dies, she lives on in all women. She simply takes different form…

Ahhhhh yes, Katheryn Winnick, you do indeed embody the spirit of Lagertha the Goddess!

Lagertha and Kathryne together Katheryne Winnick

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: To the Gates from the French side

 

 

Before we head back to the gates of Paris, a few general items of interest!  First is an excellent interview with Clive Standen on his role as Rollo and his insights on the show in general! It’s a great interview and he points out some of the same things that I try to make clear here.

Clive Standen4

Clive Standen4

rollo in fur

Rollo

 

Here is an excerpt from the interview where he discusses dealing with limited, sometimes boring historical facts and weaving them into an interesting story as it applies to Rollo’s history and story. 

The Vikings were very oral culture so much of the history of them was written by a lot of the cultures that they came into contact with and, in many cases, conquered, and was written long after that contact. So since they didn’t really document their society in the way we normally expect, any show or any kind of narrative that portrays them has to fill in some pretty big gaps, and I was just wondering if you give me some insight into how that happens on this series. Is that something that Hirst talks to you guys about, how he chooses to flesh the history out and how aware are you of when something is more strictly historical versus when he’s using narrative license?

Sometimes you get the best stories from the sagas. This is a time when there was no TV, and entertainment was based around stories and some of the sagas are larger-than-life. But you can base a story on a saga which gives you something that was written about the time or if not, very close to the time.

But the thing is that Michael–and we are all the same page with this—just as the Vikings didn’t really write much down, as you said, and the history was written by the invaded, there are a lot of historians that have got different agendas as well. Just looking at Rollo: there are four or five different people writing on Rollo. Dudo of St Quentin was one of the biggest writers of the history of Rollo. He was writing 400 years after the events; he was also writing for the (then) Duke of Normandy who he was trying to write a lineage for and protect that lineage and somehow conveniently talks—or glides over– certain aspects of Viking society. Dudo has an agenda to try to make Rollo an impressive historical figure.

So sometimes what we can take from history is we can take the actual events and the things that make this figure famous in history and the things they actually accomplished but the real person, for an actor and a script writer, you’ve got to dissect that and flesh it out. So you have to take some sort of artistic license in the character. But you know it is fascinating to think that we know where someone ended up and the big plot points of how they got there from the history books, but as an actor and writer–it’s very hard to explain—you have the A and the Z but you have to fill in the B and C and D, everything in between. It’s up to the actor to fill in the middle and to make it a full story where you can actually take everybody’s different accounts and try to build on that.

I don’t know if I making any sense at this point. I’m just trying to make the point that you can’t just read Wikipedia, read a little bit about Rollo, and then go “That’s not the Rollo history because I read it on Wikipedia. There’s a greater thing happening when you start to get all of the stories and documentation together and then you yourself have to pick apart what was the propaganda what someone’s agenda and look more deeply is. Which is what we should do on social media as well when people start reading people’s posts and likes and you assume something is true because someone has posted it without thinking what someone’s agenda was in posting it. It’s no different when you start researching history.

http://www.denofgeek.us/tv/vikings/245382/vikings-season-3-interview-clive-standen

If you follow along this theory and line of thinking, it would apply to the character of Gisla as well. When you looker further and deeper into the limited information about this Gisela, you have to think to yourself, Why is there not more information on this woman? Who made the decision way back in the past to basically erase her from history and leave doubt as to whether she even existed. Some have suggested that Michael Hirst should have went with the story of Poppa, Rollo’s concubine or Dane wife- that she would be more interesting and closer to historical facts. I disagree. I think the story of Gisla and what might have or could have happened with her makes for a far more interesting story. Gisla also gives Hirst the tie in to Paris and to Charles. I think we need to look at Gisla as a combination of Poppa and Gisela.  Personally, I can’t wait to see Hirst’s version of hers and Rollo’s story!

 

Our next bit of  interest is the preview for this week’s episode in which Ragnar makes his status clear to everyone. Also for those who might be concerned about Floki, he is still around! Obviously, a few people have pissed Ragnar off by possibly questioning his decisions or his authority. 

If you watch the beginning of the video, you see a group swimming under the bridge of Paris… in a historical account of Ragnar Lodbrok’s siege of Paris, there is mention of how they did eventually set a bridge on fire by burning boats underneath it!

If anyone thought that this siege would be simple or quick and that our Vikings would easily win, they will be sadly mistaken. The sieges of Paris were well documented and they were long drawn out battles with neither side truly being able to claim victory. Yes, Ragnar’s group did manage to get into the city and even occupy it for a time so I suppose you could consider that a victory of sorts. The Vikings eventually withdrew from the city after being paid off by the Franks. I have already covered much about the historical attacks on Paris and their results in a previous post on the Importance of Rollo. You can read that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/07/vikings-the-importance-of-rollo/

Now on to our current topic, The gates of Paris and beyond. I say beyond because as usual, there is so much else going besides the truly epic battle! I did cover much of the lead up to this battle and the wall portion of it in the last post concerning Floki’s bout with hopefully temporary madness… https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/14/vikings-the-madness-of-floki/

As I mentioned in the last post, you really need to watch the episode to truly appreciate the entire battle. My assorted pictures and recaps do not even begin do it the credit it so well deserves. It was a massive undertaking on all parts!

inside Paris

Let’s look at how the people of Paris reacted and survived,  from the lowliest of poor serfs to the one sitting at the top one his throne the entire time while his daughter fought his battle for him! First of all, when Count Odo and his minions announce closing time for the City, they are deadly serious! If you were out there milking your cow, weeding your garden, doing your laundry or what ever else you might have been so concerned about that you didn’t bother to pay attention and run like hell for those gates, so sorry for you…Cause no matter how hard you bang on that gate you’re not getting in! We’ll say some nice prayers in your name after the siege is over…

Count Odo giving last orders to his men

Closing time at the gates of Paris

Closing time at the gates of Paris

Noooooooooooooo don't leave us out here to be slaughtered people begging for mercy to be let in

The gates were firmly closed and we can only hope that maybe those poor stragglers found somewhere to hide out of the way. Because, really our main intent is to get into the city, not worry about poor defenseless serfs… unless they make the mistake of getting in our way! If any of them are left alive after the battle, we’ll pick them up on our way out- but only if they’re young women and children- sorry but those are who bring the most gold on the slave market.

the city of Paris behind it's walls and gates  where are those poor stragglers!

the city of Paris behind it’s walls and gates where are those poor stragglers!

What was going on inside the city? As one could easily imagine, all out panic was taking over for most of the residents. They all gathered in the church for protection and prayer…

they arrive prepare yourselves inside the city chaos reigns as well among the citizens

the masses have gathered in the church for protection and prayer

the masses have gathered in the church for protection and prayer

Where was their mighty ruler during the entire time of the raid? Ahhhh yes, that supreme ruler of all was in his great hall, sitting alone on his throne hiding behind that bizarre mask again. Those damn masks are beginning to bug me. They seem to be a recurring item of some importance but I can find no detail, description or explanation of such a ritual anywhere? If anyone figures it out, please let me know so it doesn’t end up driving me nuts! Anyway, this time I think he is literally hiding behind the mask so if anyone wanders in, they won’t see him shaking and crying like a baby!

while terror reigns outside the king sits on his throne alone the king in his strange mask

The question has to be asked here. Is this man really as pathetic as he’s looking so far? Well, he does have the one thing going for him… he is the King, even if he is turning out to be a milk toast, puppet type King.  As far as who he is in history, he seems to be a combination of Charles the Fat, Charles the Bald and Charles the Simple. It should be pretty clear from their various nicknames, how their citizens felt about them by this point in history. This was towards the end of their particular dynasty, the Carolingian dynasty and frankly the people were a little tired of  all of them. I believe our King Charles is portraying some of the characteristics given to Charles the Fat who was described as spineless and incompetent. It really makes not much difference, by this time in history they were all similarly regarded and could have been interchangeable! As I said, he is the King and even if he is generally a puppet being used by others, if he should come up with his own lame idea in the future and decide to implement, no one can really stop him. And, he most likely will come up with his lame plan to pay the Vikings off to get rid of them.  For the moment though, he is sitting on his throne cowering while his daughter Gisla takes charge!

Gisla watched the Vikings arrive but would not stand by idly waiting for their destruction.

gisla watches the pagans come gisla watches in fear gisla sees the boats arrive

Gisla knows her people need a leader and they need inspiration. They’re certainly not going to get it from her Father, and I think she has a thought in her mind to show Odo up as well… She goes to the one place that she knows her people will take guidance and inspiration from. She goes to the church because her people are devoutly religious and they will be inspired by their faith. During this time, the Christians were devoted to their relics of faith. They firmly believed in the miraculous powers of such relics, despite the fact that most of said relics were fakes that the church approved of and even encouraged at times for the amounts of followers and wealth they brought to the church. Very rarely there might be some actual documented proof of a miracle or divine vision surrounding such articles, and really all it took was for one person to suddenly recover from illness, win a losing battle or such to inspire people to believe in the miracles of Christ and his Saints.

Gisla has one such relic close at hand… she has the Sacred Banner of St. Denis, the Oriflamme!

the sacred banner of saint Denis in the church Gisla resorts to her own inspiration for her people

Just what is the Oriflamme, the Banner of St. Denis and why would her people be so willing and ready to fight for it?

100px-Oriflamme_svg

Battle_of_Poitiers oriflamme

Battle_of_Poitiers oriflamme

The Oriflamme (from Latin aurea flamma, “golden flame”) was the battle standard of the King of France in the Middle Ages. It was originally the sacred banner of the Abbey of St. Denis, a monastery near Paris.  In French, the term “oriflamme” has come to mean any banner with pointed ends; by association with the form of the original.

The Oriflamme was mentioned in the eleventh-century ballad the Chanson de Roland (vv. 3093-5) as a royal banner, first called Romaine and then Montjoie.  According to legend, Charlemagne carried it to the Holy Land in response to a prophecy regarding a knight possessing a golden lance, from which flames would burn and drive out the Saracens.  This suggests that the lance was originally the important object, with the banner simply a decoration, but this changed over time.

When the Oriflamme was displayed on the battlefield it indicated that no quarter was to be given, its red colour being symbolic of cruelty and ferocity.

Although the azure ground (from the blue cope of St. Martin of Tours) strewn with gold fleur-de-lis remained the symbol of royalty until the 15th century, the Oriflamme became the royal battle standard of the King of France, and it was carried at the head of the king’s forces when they met another army in battle. In the fifteenth century, the fleur-de-lis on the white flag of Joan of Arc became the new royal standard replacing both the symbol of royalty and the Oriflamme on the battle field.

Gisla heard the story of how the banner was sacred because it presumably had been dipped in the blood of St. Denis…

Paris Cathédrale_Notre-Dame Portail de la_Vierge. St. Denis

Paris Cathédrale_Notre-Dame Portail de la_Vierge. St. Denis

According to Christian tradition, Saint Denis  is a Christian martyr and saint. In the third century, he was Bishop of Paris. He was martyred, with his companions Rusticus and Eleutherius, in connection with the Decian persecution of Christians, shortly after 250 AD. Denis is said to have picked his head up after being decapitated, walked ten kilometres (six miles), while preaching a sermon of repentance the entire way, making him one of many cephalophores in hagiology. He is venerated in the Roman Catholic Church as patron of Paris, France, and as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers.

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

The medieval Christians believed and practiced  mysticism and what they considered Holy magic or miracles just as firmly and as passionately as the Norse did with their Pagan religion. To them, yes there might be only one true God but there were any number of Holiest Saints whom they believed held almost as much power as their God. So, it really was not all that different from the Norse belief in many Gods for different purposes. If they all could have seen it in this way, things would have been so much easier!

Now, back to Gisla and her plan…

Gisla kind of backed the Bishop into a corner and forced him to bless her Banner in front of all of the citizens in the church so they would know the importance of it. Really, how was he going to say no to such a blessing with all of those people waiting?

not wanting to risk a riot in his church the bishop goes along with gisla's request

Then she did the most courageous thing that proved her worthy of leading and eventually caught the attention of one Rollo… She took that blessed banner and marched to the top of the wall where the fighting was at it’s worst and bloodiest. She spoke to the men, encouraged them and raised the Banner of St. Denis over them to remind them of what they fought for and why. This young woman was not a milk toast whiny woman, in her own way she was a warrior! She believed in her people, in her country and she would stand with her men and face the battle whether others agreed or not, such as Count Odo…

When Gisla arrived on the wall, I have a feeling that Odo’s thoughts were probably, “Ohhhh Great, WTF is she doing up here! If she gets herself killed, it will be my fault and if she survives, she looks like the hero instead of me!”

Odo is shocked and pissed at the sight of gisla climbing up to the top of the walls

Odo is shocked and pissed at the sight of gisla climbing up to the top of the walls

Gisla will not let fear stand in the way of what she feels she needs to do

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

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

these men are as inspired by her courage and her speech as the vikings are by speeches of Odin

these men are as inspired by her courage and her speech as the vikings are by speeches of Odin

Gisla did not back down and run to hide behind a mask. She stayed up there on that wall yelling her encouragement and watching the entire battle. She may not have fought with a weapon but she fought with what she had, her words! The men drew strength and courage from her  brave presence there.

Show no mercy fight on fight on for Paris

Show no mercy fight on fight on for Paris

Fight to the Death

Fight to the Death

As I said, she stood up there and watched the whole battle, yelling her encouragement the whole time… her presence did not go un-noticed by the Vikings either. At least one Viking became so thoroughly distracted by the sight of her that he forgot to pay attention to the job at hand.

Gisla has inspired the men to fight with a new vengeance rollo's first sight of gisla

Yes, unfortunately our Rollo was the one completely distracted by the sight of Gisla on the wall…  Gisla was also watching him.

gisla watching rollo intently

rollo makes the mistake glancing up from his battel to see gisla watching him

rollo distracted by sight of gisla

That momentary distraction almost cost Rollo his life… I am pretty sure he will be a little pissed at himself and her for it?

rollo's distraction2

the result of rollo's distraction... he and his ladder are pushed away from the wall rollo's fall rollo's plunge into the water rollo's near death experience so similar to Siggy's demise

No need for anyone to worry… he did survive the fall and I am sure he will be having some words with Gisla about all of this at some later point!

As for the overall battle, we do have to give Count Odo credit. He was in charge and led a well organized and prepared defensive campaign whether we like him or not. He did his job and supervised both the battle at the gates and on the walls. While we are speaking of Odo, let us just have a very quick refresher on who he is in history?

Odo was the eldest son of Robert the Strong, Duke of the Franks and Marquis of Neustria, belonging to the branch known as the Robertians. After his father’s death in 866, Odo inherited his father’s title of Marquis of Neustria. Odo lost this title in 868 when King Charles the Bald appointed Hugh the Abbot to the title, but regained it following the death of Hugh in 886. After 882, he held the post of Count of Paris. Odo was also the lay abbot of St. Martin of Tours.

Odo married Théodrate of Troyes and had two known sons, Arnulf (born probably about 885) and Guy (born probably about 888), neither of whom lived past the age of fifteen.

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

Historically, Odo was in charge of the defense of Paris during the siege of Paris that took place in 885-886 and involved the Vikings, Sigfred, Sinric and Rollo.

With hundreds of ships, and possibly tens of thousands of men, the Vikings arrived outside Paris in late November 885, at first demanding tribute. This was denied by Odo, Count of Paris, despite the fact that he only could assemble a couple of hundred soldiers to defend the city. The Vikings attacked with a variety of siege engines, but failed to break through the city walls after some days of intense attacks. The siege was upheld after the initial attacks, but without any significant offence for months thereafter. As the siege went on, most of the Vikings left Paris to pillage further upriver. The Vikings made a final unsuccessful attempt to take the city during the summer, and in October, Charles the Fat arrived with his army.

To the frustration of the Parisians who had fought for a long time to defend the city, Charles stopped short of attacking the Viking besiegers, and instead allowed them to sail further up the Seine to raid Burgundy (which was in revolt), as well as promising a payment of 700 livres (pounds; 257 kg). Odo, highly critical of this, tried his best to defy the promises of Charles, and when Charles died in 888, Odo was elected the first non-Carolingian king of the Franks.

 

Odo  What in Heaven's name is all that other racket out there

We have not really discussed the charge of the gates yet but it went much like the battle at the wall. No blame or accusations here against Lagertha and her group. They fought exceptionally well considering the circumstances and had a good plan. They did succeed in getting through the gates with the help of some interesting inventions of slimey Erlandeur’s along with  the additional muscle and horse power of Sigfrid! They were just unprepared for the surprise counter attack planned by Odo’s forces inside the inner gate. There was a great slaughter there when the Viking group became trapped within the hall.

Erlandeur the inventor

back at the gates  why is this scum still standing

back at the gates why is this scum still standing

Sigfrid the giant initializes the next stage of drill bit operation

Sigfrid the giant initializes the next stage of drill bit operation

Sigfrid the extra horsepower

Sigfrid the extra horsepower

 

Ahhh I know we are talking about this mainly from the French perspective but I do feel a need here to point out that one Sigfred was indeed a real historical player in a siege of Paris.  I know I have included some of this information previously but it bears repeating as it does deal with Odo, as well as with Rollo!

Danish Vikings under Sigfred and Sinric  sailed towards West Francia again in 885, having raided the north-eastern parts of the country before. Sigfred demanded a bribe from Charles, but was refused, and promptly led 700 ships up the Seine, carrying perhaps as many as 30,000 or 40,000 men.  The number, the largest ever recorded for a Viking fleet in contemporary sources, originates from Abbo Cenuus. Although an eyewitness, there is general agreement among historians that Abbo’s numbers are “a gross exaggeration,”[8] with Abbo being “in a class of his own as an exaggerator.” Historian C. W. Previté-Orton has instead put the number of ships at 300,  and John Norris at “some 300.”  Although the Franks tried to block the Vikings from sailing up the Seine, the Vikings eventually managed to reach Paris.  Paris at this time was a town on an island, known today as Île de la Cité. Its strategic importance came from the ability to block ships’ passage with its two low-lying foot bridges, one of wood and one of stone. Not even the shallow Viking ships could pass Paris because of the bridges.  Odo, Count of Paris prepared for the arrival of the Vikings by fortifying the bridgehead with two towers guarding each bridge. He was low on men, having no more than 200 men-at-arms available (also according to Abbo Cenuus),  but led a joint defence with Gozlin, Bishop of Paris  (the first “fighting bishop” in medieval literature), and had the aid of his brother, Robert, two counts and a marquis.

The Vikings arrived in Paris on 24 or 25 November 885, initially asking for tribute from the Franks. When this was denied, they began a siege. On 26 November the Danes attacked the northeast tower with ballistae, mangonels, and catapults. They were repulsed by a mixture of hot wax and pitch. All Viking attacks that day were repulsed, and during the night the Parisians constructed another storey on the tower.[17][18] On 27 November the Viking attack included mining, battering rams, and fire, but to no avail. Bishop Gozlin entered the fray with a bow and an axe. He planted a cross on the outer defences and exhorted the people. His brother Ebles also joined the fighting.[17] The Vikings withdrew after the failed initial attacks and built a camp on the right side of the river bank, using stone as construction material. While preparing for new attacks, the Vikings also started constructing additional siege engines.[19] In a renewed assault, they shot a thousand grenades against the city, sent a ship for the bridge, and made a land attack with three groups. The forces surrounded the bridgehead tower, possibly mainly aiming to bring down the river obstacle. While they tried setting fire to the bridge, they also attacked the city itself with siege engines.

Map of Paris in the 9th century (on Île de la Cité)

For two months the Vikings maintained the siege, making trenches and provisioning themselves off the land. In January 886 they tried to fill the river shallows with debris, plant matter, and the bodies of dead animals and dead prisoners to try to get around the tower. They continued this for two days. On the third day they set three ships alight and guided them towards the wooden bridge. The burning ships sank before they could set the bridge on fire, but the wooden construction was nonetheless weakened.  On 6 February, rains caused the river (still filled with debris) to overflow and the bridge supports gave way. The bridge gone, the northeast tower was now isolated with only twelve defenders inside. The Vikings asked the twelve to surrender, but they refused, and were all subsequently killed.

The Vikings left a force around Paris, but many ventured further to pillage Le Mans, Chartres,  Evreux and into the Loire.  Odo successfully slipped some men through Norse lines to go to Italy and plead with Charles to come to their aid. Henry, Count of Saxony, Charles’ chief man in Germany, marched to Paris.  Weakened by marching during the winter, Henry’s soldiers made only one abortive attack in February before retreating. The besieged forces sallied forth and to obtain supplies. Morale of the besiegers was low and Sigfred asked for sixty pounds of silver. He left the siege in April. Another Viking leader, Rollo, stayed behind with his men.  In May, disease began to spread in the Parisian ranks and Gozlin died. Odo then slipped through Viking-controlled territory to petition Charles for support; Charles consented. Odo fought his way back into Paris and Charles and Henry of Saxony marched northward.  Henry died after he fell into the Viking ditches, where he was captured and killed.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Paris_(885%E2%80%9386)

As I mentioned, things went badly at the gates. The few who survived were lucky to have gotten out of there alive. Lagertha’s survival was due to Kalf’s quick thinking and realizing that it was a trap. He dragged her out of there, while sleazy Erlandeur made his own dash for the back of the crowd!

Lagertha's group realizing they're trapped Lagertha her stubborn self will not listen so Kalf does what he has to and drags her back out of the way. Sleazy erlandeur sees the danger and runs to the back

The Viking group eventually realized they were defeated and chose to retreat in order to fight another day. Inside the walls of Paris, Charles and Odo inspected the remaining carnage left behind. Charles showed his truest distain and his disgust…

King Charles finally leaves his throne after the battle is finished to view the results

King Charles finally leaves his throne after the battle is finished to view the results

 Now that I see them up close they do not appear so threatening why they seem almost human.

Now that I see them up close they do not appear so threatening why they seem almost human.

Count Odo is pleased with himself and of course both he and the King consider this a great success…little do they realize that the Vikings are more determined now than ever-or at least two of them, Ragnar and Rollo are. Both men commented later that they were determined to conquer Paris! Rollo mentioned in discussion with Ragnar about what to do next. Rollo is determined to get back inside that city… perhaps his idea of plunder is flesh rather than gold, flesh as in that of one Gisla?  Ragnar mentioned it in his conversation with his beloved and departed Athelstan!  “I wish you were here.  Paris is every bit as beautiful as you said. I am determined to conquer it now!”

Ohhhhh Damn! I did just mention that Rollo is determined to get back inside that city, didn’t I? Here is new preview of the next episode!

http://www.tvguide.com/news/vikings-rollo-paris-raid/#ooid=RvZDRqdDqWZMk5QQ8Ilxlr_FveB9xvys

 

 

 today we came so close  next time we will not make the same mistakes!

today we came so close next time we will not make the same mistakes!

ragnar to athelstan I wish you were here Paris is every bit as beautiful as you said.  I am determined to conquer it now

ragnar to athelstan I wish you were here Paris is every bit as beautiful as you said. I am determined to conquer it now

 

For the moment though, the Parisians are celebrating their victory. Naturally, Charles and Odo take full credit for this defeat of the Pagans. Charles looks good in his people’s eyes even if he did nothing but hide for the entire duration of the battle. And, if Charles looks good then Odo should reap the benefits of this… or that is his plan anyway. 

charles and Odo take all of the credit for the defeat of the pagans

charles and Odo take all of the credit for the defeat of the pagans

Gisla arrives at the celebration with her sacred banner, then proceeds to congratulate her Father on his great success. Though, when she is paying him such tribute, she seems a bit sarcastic about it… probably knowing full well that he was cowering in the corner while she was out there leading and encouraging his men!

gisla enters with her sacred banner

gisla enters with her sacred banner

gisla is a bit sarcastic in her congratulations of her Father's success

gisla is a bit sarcastic in her congratulations of her Father’s success

gisla encourages the people to give charles his due credit

gisla encourages the people to give charles his due credit

Something else is going on here behind the scenes and I am thinking that Gisla should probably be a little concerned about her future or her fate? Realistically, Gisla is a princess, and  while she is strong willed and determined, she is not in complete control of her future. Her Father, as weak willed as he is, still has the final say in her destiny… Much like Ragnar Lothbrok states in the future, “I am King and I have the final say!”  Odo has already stated openly that he expects to marry Gisla as his reward for this defeat. Charles is wishy washy and now owes Odo big time for this success…

Odo is up to something. He has some other agenda and plan going on behind some backs. While Count Odo is paying lip service and adding his voice to the praise of his King, he seems focused on something or someone else.

odo adds his voice to the tribute but seems focused on something else

odo adds his voice to the tribute but seems focused on something else

Who is this woman? And what does she have going on with Count Odo…

Odo's attention is on this woman.

Odo’s attention is on this woman.

What ever their secret is, they seem to be in agreement on something!

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

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

Ahhhhh if you think the Vikings or the Saxons  are full of intrigue, secret agendas, deceptions and sins, they have nothing on the French! These people may be devoutly holy on the surface but their devious plotting and exploits exceed anything that Ecbert or Ragnar could think of! Personally, I am looking forward to seeing a bit more of their less than holy behaviors in the future!  I know many of you are only concerned about the Viking side of things, but in order for the Viking groups to survive in the future, they will need to know how to maneuver their way through all of these other mazes of  ruling dynasties. Attack, plunder and run only work for so long… then you need to settle down someplace and defend yourself against those new raiders and pillagers who take your place.  As our Vikings have just discovered, they have a lot yet to learn about other places and people. And, as Ragnar says, “It is good to follow Odin but it is better with knowledge!”

 

Now, I have just one last thought for the night and it does not concern France at all. There is one other thing that has happened while we’ve all been in Paris. As most of us know, Porunn has been suffering great difficulties in adjusting to her injury and to her new Motherhood. She has been struggling, trying to hold things together in her mind and heart for some time now. My personal thought is that her struggle has been going for far longer than any of us may realize or comprehend. Perhaps it is due to her years a slave. We do not know what she may have endured during those years that would leave a mark on her mind. In fact, we know very little about her at all other than that she was a slave. Bjorn met her as a teen. Who really knows how long she was a slave, where she came from, who she was before? Does she have a hidden past that she remembers and it ever haunts her? All we know is that as a teen, Bjorn chose her, wanted her, thought he loved her. Maybe he did, but that was young untried love, they have both grown some and I think she knows he doesn’t love her. She may not even truly love him… We don’t really know, what we do know is that she is not coping well with Motherhood. She has finally reached her personal breaking point and left Kattegat without baby Siggy.  She left in the middle of the night with no word to anyone. Aslaug awoke in the morning to a crying Siggy and no Porunn.

in Kattegat someone is wandering

Porunn is wandering on her own somewhat unstable path Porunn takes a last look at the village of Kattegat

Aslaug was puzzled at first and then realized what had happened.  Baby Siggy is now in the care of Aslaug. I think she will be safe and well cared for, and perhaps it is fitting for the child to now be raised by Aslaug. The baby was named after Siggy, who died trying to save the other children of Aslaug.  I hope that Aslaug will care for this little girl with love and realize the significance of this gift the Gods have suddenly given her.

aslaug awakes to a crying baby Siggy aslaug seems to realize what Porunn has done

I do worry and pray for the fate and the destiny of Porunn, who has now become a wanderer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Usurper: Bjorn’s Destiny

 

sword of kings

Well, we arrived back in Kattegat and it went much as I expected. Rollo was devastated by the news of Siggy, just I as feared. I think his devastation and grief went much deeper though, and the loss of Siggy was just the final breaking point for him?

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/21/vikings-a-long-held-secret-revealed-deleted-scenes/

Just to give you a better understanding and feeling for Rollo’s unsaid feelings about Siggy, you can view this deleted scene in which he expresses his rage when Siggy put distance between herself and him.

/3×01-rollo-siggy-extended-scenehttp://voices-in-the-breezes.tumblr.com/post/111615649799

I believe that Siggy knew in her heart that it was not their fate to be together. Perhaps she was already having premonitions about the future.  Some would say that her treatment of him was cold, harsh and even cruel but I think that she knew his destiny and path would go elsewhere and she wanted him to be strong enough to face it on his own without her. She was one of the few people who could push him to that limit and force him to face himself and his fears. So,  yes he was devastated and broken by her loss, it also caused him to face all of the losses and failures in his life. The question now is, how will he choose to go on with his life. Siggy saw something great within him but he needs to see it himself and stop doubting himself. Ahhhh, he should also probably stop drinking to excess… it is causing him nothing but problems and seriously clouding his judgement!

Rollo and the Seer  I paid you good spit for that advice

Before we go on with everything else that has happened, we should talk about that mysterious advice the Seer gave to Ragnar and Rollo about the future. It was a cryptic message, “Not the living but the dead will conquer Paris and The Bear will be crowned by a Princess” He told Ragnar that this did not bode well for him, but he told Rollo that if he knew the things the God has in store for him he would dance naked on the beach!

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

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

Not living  but the dead will conquer Paris

Not living but the dead will conquer Paris

I tell you as I told Ragnar The bear will marry a princess and you will be there in attendance to see it

I tell you as I told Ragnar The bear will marry a princess and you will be there in attendance to see it

I don lie but sometimes I with hold things for human beings can not bear to much of reality

I don lie but sometimes I with hold things for human beings can not bear to much of reality

As I said, this was a stranger than usual message and many have speculated over it’s possible meanings? Some have pondered on whether this pertains to Rollo himself marrying a Princess… I have it on good authority that he does eventually, but this may not be exactly what the Seer was referring to.  A long time ago, Ragnar asked the Seer about his sons and the Seer foresaw much greatness for one who would travel the seas and become most powerful… I believe that the Seer is again making reference to one of Ragnar’s sons in this most recent message.

Bjorn

In order to understand this message better, we need to know more about the history and the futures in store for some of these men… namely Rollo and Bjorn! I have read a great deal about Rollo’s destiny and have never read any reference to him being referred to or described as a bear. Bjorn, however is a different matter… his name literally means Bear! So, let us look at what the future, or history tells us of Bjorn?

Björn Ironside (Old Norse: Bjǫrn Járnsíða, Icelandic: Björn Járnsíða, Swedish: Björn Järnsida) was a legendary king of Sweden who lived sometime in the 9th century. Björn Ironside is said to have been the first ruler of the Munsö dynasty. In the early 18th century, a barrow, on the island of Munsö was claimed by antiquarians to be Björn Järnsidas hög or Björn Ironside’s grave. Hög, from the Old Norse word haugr, means barrow or mound.

 

Bjorn Ironside's grave site at Munso

Bjorn Ironside’s grave site at Munso

 

The Tale of Ragnar’s Sons (Ragnarssona þáttr) tells that he was the son of the Scandinavian king Ragnar Lodbrok and Aslaug, and that he had the brothers Hvitserk, Ivar the Boneless and Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and the half-brothers Fridleif, Eric and Agnar.

 

Later Björn and his brothers pillaged in England, Wales, France, and Italy, until they came to the town Luna in Italy. When they came back to Scandinavia, they divided the kingdom so that Björn Ironside took Uppsala and Sweden.

History of House of Munso:

 House of Munsö
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
The House of Munsö  is one of the names of a protohistoric Swedish dynasty. Its early members of the 8th or 9th century are legendary or semi-legendary, while its later scions of the 10th to 11th centuries are historical.

It is also known as the House of Ivar Vidfamne, the House of Uppsala, or simply the Old Dynasty. Munsö is the island where a barrow has been claimed to be the grave of Björn Ironside, a legendary founding member.

The sagas, such as the Hervarar saga, contain extensive information on this dynasty for as many as 10 generations, but although, some of the 9th-century kings are held to be historical,  modern Swedish historiography begins it with the late 10th-century king, Eric the Victorious. The king Björn, who was the father of Eric the Victorious, according to the sagas, is not accepted as historical by critical historians. Uunlike another 10th-century king named Emund Eriksson who appears in the work of Adam of Bremen.

For easy reference on legendary, semi-legendary and historical members of the dynasty (including some generations before Björn Ironside), the following family tree is based on Hervarar saga, and the uncertain identification of Styrbjörn the Strong and Tyra as the parents of Thorgils Sprakalägg.  The connection with the House of Estridsen which began with Sweyn II of Denmark is consequently uncertain (the Swedish kings are in bold):

            Sigurd Ring
                 |
           Ragnar Lodbrok
                 |
     ------------------------------------------------------
     |           |              |           |             |
  Ivar [9]  Björn Ironside [10] Sigurd [11]  Ubba     Halfdan/Hvitserk
                 |
        ------------------
        |                |
 Erik Björnsson        Refil
         |               |
         |           Erik Refilsson
         |               
       ----------------------
       |                   |
 Björn at Hauge      Anund Uppsale
                           |                     
                    Erik Anundsson
                           |
                   Björn (III) Eriksson                      Gorm "den Gamle (the Old)" King of Denmark
                           |                                                        |         
           --------------------------------                             Harold I "Bluetooth" of Denmark
           |                              |                                    |
   Eric the Victorious             Olof (II) Björnsson                  ---------------  
           |                              |                             |             |
   Olof Skötkonung                 Styrbjörn the Strong    Tyra            |        
           |                              |                             |             |
           -------------------------      -------------------------------             |
           |                       |                     |                            |
   Anund Jacob                Emund the Old       Thorgils Sprakalägg[12]         Sweyn Forkbeard
                                   |                     |                            |
                                   |                     |                            |
                      Anund Emundsson, heir              |                            |
                                                         |                            |
                                                     Ulf Jarl               Estrid Svendsdatter
                                                         |                            | 
                                                         ------------------------------
                                                                        |
                                                                 Sweyn Estridson
                                                                        |
                                                                   Danish kings

Full list of Swedish kings. The names in parentheses are kings who are not mentioned in Hervarar saga, but who are mentioned in other sources:

Aslaug, Ragnar’s wife and the mother of his sons, was the daughter of Sigurd, whose ancestor Sigi was a descendant of Odin. Therefore, the entire house of Munso (and all their descendants) are descended from Odin.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/House_of_Muns%C3%B6

There has been no mention of who Bjorn’s wife ever was, so we can not say for certain who he marries. Does former slave girl turned shieldmaiden, Porunn recover enough from her physical and emotional injuries to marry Bjorn? At this point, unless she is withholding some unknown secret as to her identity and really is a princess, I doubt that this will happen. I think ultimately, Porunn and Bjorn are probably history… even though she does bear him a child. She is suffering emotionally from her injury and I’m just not sure whether their relationship will withstand the pressure and turmoil that she is putting on both of them.

porrun's face in the mirror

porrun’s face in the mirror

porunn how can you help me no one can help me

porunn how can you help me no one can help me

I do not want help from anyone!

I do not want help from anyone!

She has told Bjorn to leave her alone and he takes her at her word, saying she is a grown woman, if she needs my help, she will ask for it. So, Bjorn leaves her alone and goes on with his own plans to head to Paris with his Father.  The proposed attack on Paris brings us to the Seer’s message of “Not the living, but the dead shall conquer Paris”. This message could be referring to an event  that  Bjorn Ironside was involved in.  A powerful Viking chieftain and naval commander, Björn and his brother Hastein conducted many (mostly successful) raids in France in a continuation of the tradition initiated by their father Ragnar Lodbrok. In 860, Björn led a large Viking raid into the Mediterranean. After raiding down the Spanish coast and fighting their way through Gibraltar, Björn and Hastein pillaged the south of France, where his fleet over-wintered, before landing in Italy where they captured the coastal city of Pisa. They proceeded inland to the town of Luna, which they believed to be Rome at the time, but Björn found himself unable to breach the town walls. To gain entry, he sent messengers to the bishop to say that he had died, had a deathbed conversion, and wished to be buried on consecrated ground within their church. He was brought into the chapel with a small honor guard, then amazed the dismayed Italian clerics by leaping from his coffin and hacking his way to the town gates, which he promptly opened, letting his army in. Flush with this victory and others around the Mediterranean (including in Sicily and North Africa) he returned to the Straits of Gibraltar only to find the Saracen navy from Al-Andalus waiting for him. In the desperate battle that followed, Björn lost 40 ships, largely to a form of Greek fire launched from Saracen catapults. The remainder of his fleet managed to return to Scandinavia, however, where he lived out his life as a rich man.

In history, Rollo was also involved in raids on Paris.

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

In 885, Rollo was one of the lesser leaders of the Viking fleet which besieged Paris under Sigfred. Legend has it that an emissary was sent by the king to find the chieftain and negotiate terms. When he asked for this information, the Vikings replied that they were all chieftains in their own right. In 886, when Sigfred retreated in return for tribute, Rollo stayed behind and was eventually bought off and sent to harry Burgundy.

Later, he returned to the Seine with his followers (known as Danes, or Norsemen). He invaded the area of northern France now known as Normandy. In 911 the Vikings under Rollo again launched an attack on Paris before laying siege to Chartres. The Bishop of Chartres, Joseaume, made an appeal for help which was answered by Robert, Marquis of Neustria, Richard, Duke of Burgundy and Manasses, Count of Dijon. On 20 July 911, at the Battle of Chartres, Frankish forces defeated Rollo despite the absence of many French barons and also the absence of the French King Charles the Simple.   

While Rollo’s historical conquest of Paris ended in defeat, he did end up making an alliance with King Charles. In the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte (911) with King Charles, Rollo pledged feudal allegiance to the king, changed his name to the Frankish version, and converted to Christianity, probably with the baptismal name Robert.  In return, King Charles granted Rollo land between the Epte and the sea as well as parts of Brittany and according to Dudo of St. Quentin, the hand of the King’s daughter, Gisela, although this marriage and Gisela herself are unknown to Frankish sources. He was also the titular ruler of Normandy, centered around the city of Rouen. There exists some argument among historians as to whether Rollo was a “duke” (dux) or whether his position was equivalent to that of a “count” under Charles. So, while he may have lost Paris, he gained Normandy and a princess for a wife!  This fact causes us to wonder just which of the two men the Seer is referring to in his prophecy of the Bear and the Princess!

My personal thought is that it has more to do with Bjorn right now, since the Seer made reference to Ragnar that it would not bode so well for him? Of course seeing Rollo best him in this way would not necessarily sit well with him… but there is more the idea that a Father holds jealousy of  sons and fears of his sons achieving more greatness than him. In the Tale of Ragnar’s sons, Ragnar was jealous of his sons.

Ragnar was jealous with his sons’ successes, and set Eysteinn Beli as the jarl of Sweden, telling him to protect Sweden from his sons. He then went east across the Baltic Sea to pillage and to show his own skills.

Ragnar’s sons Eric and Agnar then sailed into Lake Mälaren and sent a message to king Eysteinn that they wanted him to submit to Ragnar’s sons, and Eric said that he wanted Eysteinn’s daughter Borghild as wife. Eysteinn said that he first wanted to consult the Swedish chieftains. The chieftains said no to the offer, and ordered an attack on the rebellious sons. A battle ensued and Eric and Agnar were overwhelmed by the Swedish forces, whereupon Agnar died and Eric was taken prisoner.

Eysteinn offered Eric as much of Uppsala öd as he wanted, and Borghild, in wergild for Agnar. Eric proclaimed that after such a defeat he wanted nothing but to choose the day of his own death. Eric asked to be impaled on spears that raised him above the dead and his wish was granted.

In Zealand, Björn, Aslaug and her son Hvitserk, who had been playing tafl, became upset and sailed to Sweden with a large army. Aslaug, calling herself Randalin, rode with cavalry across the land. In a great battle they killed Eysteinn.

Ragnar was not happy that his sons had taken revenge without his help, and decided to conquer England with only two knarrs. King Ælla of Northumbria defeated Ragnar and threw him into a snake pit where he died.

Björn and his brothers attacked Ælla but were beaten back. Asking for peace and wergild, Ivar the Boneless tricked Ælla into giving him an area large enough to build the town of York. Ivar made himself popular in England and asked his brothers to attack again. During the battle Ivar sided with his brothers and so did many of the English chieftains with their people, in loyalty to Ivar. Ælla was taken captive and in revenge they carved the blood eagle on him.

There is something else, a forgotten event from the past that makes me think this has much to do with Bjorn right now. That has to do with the events of King Horik’s death and his son’s return with new wife Torvi. Before King Horik died, he had a discussion with his son about the importance of the sword? “This is sword of Kings, one day if the Gods will it, it will belong to you.”

this is the sword of kings one day if the gods will it this will belong to you

this is the sword of kings one day if the gods will it this will belong to you

Ragnar of course killed Horik, and the last image we saw of that sword was in Bjorn’s hand.

the sword of kings in bjorn's hand

Bjorn’s destiny….

 

 

Bjorn, the Bear, will eventually be crowned a King… will he marry a princess? Or is the Seer leading us all along and mixing the prophecies just to confuse us more than we already are? And, if he has a destiny to be crowned by a princess or married to a princess, who is that princess.   For historical purposes, let’s clear up a bit more on this prophecy. While Rollo does indeed marry a princess, he is never crowned a King or a prince… He held the title of Duke or Count of Normandy. That would preclude him from being the one crowned. Ragnar is already a King and already has wife so that leaves him out as far as this prophecy goes. The only one remaining would be our Bjorn, so who might he marry? Well, we have already discussed the improbability of Porunn unless as I’ve mentioned, she has a secret past that even she is not aware of. We can not rule that out completely because stranger things have happened! But, if we are talking about secrets, strange twists and the guessing game of possibilities here… my thought is of another one young woman whom we know very little about other than the fact that she has just recently shown back up. That young woman would be the poor victimized Torvi!

I refer to her as victimized because I think she is just another pawn in the ways of men who rule her life. If you recall, Torvi is the widow of  Jarl Borg. When we last saw her, she was enduring life with Jarl Borg and his first wife…

jarl borg and his wives at home jarl borg caressing his wife's skull Jarl borg and his second wife   This is a disgusting place I want to leave here

After Jarl borg’s demise, she disappeared and we knew not what had happened to her and her unborn child. Just recently, she has arrived in Hedeby married to King Horik’s son Erlanduer… Yes, that would be the same young son who is now missing his rightful sword and crown! Erlandeur has come to visit Kalf in some as yet unknown scheme to overthrow all of the Lothbroks. I have no idea what will happen there as Kalf later decides to throw his lot in with Ragnar on the trip to Paris… and brings Erlandeur along?

you may recall the fate of Ragnar's enemy  Yarl Borg

you may recall the fate of Ragnar’s enemy Yarl Borg

we are natural allies against the Lothbroks and all their kith and kin

we are natural allies against the Lothbroks and all their kith and kin

Torvi does not look any happier in this new marriage than she did in her first. Now, though she also has a son and heir to be concerned for. Her son is the heir of Jarl Borg and now at the mercy of any treachery that Erlandeur might be capable of.  Obviously, Erlandeur married Torvi to gain acess and claim Jarl Borg’s land and title, and once he has it, I fear this child and even Torvi could fall victim to some “accidental” death?

meet my wife Torvi

meet my wife Torvi

Jarl Borg's heir apparant

Jarl Borg’s heir apparent

Erlandeur did not appear too excited or happy about Kalf’s comments concerning the baby being the very image of his esteemed father, Jarl Borg…

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

I know that I am far stretching the boundaries of guesses and predictions here but, we know very little of Torvi’s past, or who she is related to. She would most likely have some good ties or connections for Jarl Borg to have married her in the first place, and for Erlandeur to then marry her as well.  Now, my predictions and guesses are just that… I have no in with the Seer and I’m all out of spit to pay him?

Seer as counselor  What do you think

My thoughts and guesses are just where my mind wanders to in the middle of  the night as I wonder about the future! Torvi has some reason or meaning in showing up now with the sleazy little slime Erlandeur… She does not look happy to once again be involved in these power schemes but has little choice in the matter right now.

As I mentioned, Kalf has supposedly set aside his scheming with Erlandeur to accept Ragnar’s  invitation to join the raid on Paris. This whole situation has not set well with Lagertha but that is a whole different story! The Seer and ummm yes, previews have shown that Kalf and Erlandeur head to Paris with Ragnar. Now, Ragnar is no fool, he most likely knows  of these behind his back plots and has his own plans to counteract them.

kalf ready to raid ragnar greets kalf torvi not helga xkalf-brings-erlendur-along-vikings-s3e6_jpg_pagespeed_ic_-CKb7sGodaCSJbPdY55R

So, now here is where I go out on my limb with far fetched guessing and predictions. The powers that be- as in Michael Hirst, the creator, have already stated that Kalf is a long term character. That being stated, he obviously will not meet his demise in Paris… but sleazy weasel, Erlandeur- who Ragnar should have done away with immediately… My humble prediction is that Kalf is working with Ragnar and Erlandeur may meet his timely demise there in Paris. That would leave the widow Torvi a widow once again, and realistically since Erlandeur was once a Prince, wouldn’t that in a way make her a princess? She would have a much better future with Bjorn that with any of her other prospects, and besides if Bjorn marries her in the end, that pretty much puts an end to the land and title squabbles other than the one over Hedeby… Kalf has been told that he will have to work that squabble out with Lagertha as it seems to be a personal matter between them…” And, good luck with that” was Ragnar’s parting comment to Kalf on that subject!

you betrayed me and you planned a long time to do it

you betrayed me and you planned a long time to do it

that is between you and my ex-wife  and I wish you good luck on that one!

that is between you and my ex-wife and I wish you good luck on that one!

you desired me  what am I suppose to do with that

you desired me what am I suppose to do with that

what do you want to do with it

As to the events in England, and the fate of Athelstan, I am so distressed over them that I will deal with them when the fallout hits us this week! I am praying for poor Judith… it does not bode well for her or her child, and in that vein I pray for Athelstan as well. I think he may not survive the continued religious warring that is coming full force.

I do need to add that the most recent events were so terrifying and troublesome, they left me heavy hearted but in all of that darkness, there was one ray of light… Ragnar rallied his villagers to the cause of Paris, worked magic on the crowd for the most part and you could feel hope for the future in the star struck and awe filled face of one little girl as she listened to his speech. If she survives and heads on to the future, I can imagine her filled with this inspiration and passing it down to her own descendants. Who knows what greatness she might instill in them, maybe from this one lasting moment her descendants will be the likes of those such as Leif Erickson!

Ragnar inspires even the youngest

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

And, out of tragedy come resilience in the form of two women who will be forever tied together by one great fallen Warrior, Torstein. I believe that they will set aside any petty personal squabbles and raise their two children together, honoring their brave Father’s memory!

a look of shared grief from both women the women leave together

Tribute to Torstein

My last lighter thoughts before we head to Paris…  Some new hair for our men! I have to say, Rollo- I am lovin that battle hair you’ve got and I can’t wait to meet you in Paris! And, Kalf… Kalf, I hardly recognized you in your new battle mode-I hope it’s a good omen and you don’t turn out to be such a bad guy after all! cause even though I agree with you partially on the whole Earldom situation with Lagertha, you went about it in all the wrong ways. She did not deserve that and if you’re gonna turn decent now, you got a lot sucking up to do to make up for that!

rollo's new hair do ragnar greets kalf