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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 Paris: The Princess will crown the Bear

 

Ahhhh finally, we put the previous tragedies and terrors of late behind us for now and head for the city of Paris. That city which the Seer refers to in his prophecies…

Paris in the distance the walls of paris

If you remember, the Seer gave prophecies of this city as well as a few other insights that we must consider at this time.  He told Ragnar, “Not the living but the dead will conquer Paris, and the Princess shall crown the Bear, which does not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok.”  His message to Rollo was quite similar, “The Princess will crown the Bear and you shall be there to see it.”  These were as usual cryptic unclear messages which caused   everyone much thought and debate.  Obviously, something good is going to happen to someone during this time because the Seer also assured Rollo that if he knew what the Gods had in store for him, he would dance naked with joy on the beach!  Just on a personal thought, I should like very much to be dancing with Rollo on that beach…

Seer as counselor  What do you think Rollo and the Seer  I paid you good spit for that advice

 

The puzzling question comes to mind of who the “Bear” is? I have mentioned previously that Bjorn might be a possibility as his name literally translates in Norse to Bear, and he does eventually become a King of Sweden in history. We know little else about his history so it’s possible that he will meet his princess… I do not think his destiny lies with Porunn. I have stated this before. His affair with Porunn was that of two young people experiencing their first tastes of lust and mistaking it for love.  I think Porunn realizes this and she keeps insisting that Bjorn will be happier without her. Many assume that this is just her overwrought emotions and irrational thoughts coming out… but, I think perhaps in this one aspect, she is thinking clearly. She knows in her heart that she and Bjorn do not belong together despite sharing a child. Perhaps she is being more honest than we credit her for? Her fate and her destiny are not with Bjorn and she knows it, as much as it hurts her to face it.

While the rest of us headed toward Paris, Porunn was left at home in Kattegat with Aslaug. She struggled with Motherhood and possibly, the thought of raising a child on her own, if as she was so insistent upon, Bjorn would leave her. She did not voice this fear but it could have been part of what caused her rash attempt to give her daughter to Aslaug.  Now, I have made it clear from the beginning that I am not a fan of Aslaug, but in this instance Aslaug spoke with clear determination and lectured Porunn on Motherhood. She gave wise words of advice to the girl.

porunn tries to give her baby to aslaug please take my baby  I can not care for her  Aslaug's reply of course you can

Aslaug tried to be patient but reminded Porunn that she was the child’s Mother and needed to be there for her. She told Porunn that her thinking was selfish, that her daughter needs her! She also tried to remind Porunn to think of Bjorn, Bjorn loves you.

Aslaug spoke of a woman’s harsh and difficult burden in life. “But, you must remember that the Gods determine our fate. Pray to Freya to bring you comfort as she does for me.”

aslaug and her cauldron2 aslaug and her cauldron

No, I do not believe Bjorn’s destiny is with Porunn, though he will always care about her. His destiny may lie with Torvi, who has herself suffered the bitter and difficult burdens of a woman’s life. Torvi who was once married to much older Jarl Borg, had to share him with his dead wife’s skull, then watch as he was executed for his betrayal of Ragnar. Torvi who bore a child on her own after her husband’s death and then was most probably married to young Erlandeur against her will. Torvi, who is in a unhappy and dangerous marriage now and most likely suffers abuse at Erlandeur’s hand… But, as Torvi states, “I will not be left behind, I am Viking!”  Torvi endures her burden with completely different mindset than Porunn. Torvi enters willingly into a relationship with Bjorn, knowing that it will have dangerous and injuring consequences for her.

Bjorn I love my wife Bjorn and torvi

Later when Bjorn attempts to make amends for his behavior, Torvi sets him straight telling him, “It does not matter, I am not with child nor am I a child!”

bjorn  I took advantage of you

 bjorn tries to make ammends for previous behavior. torvi's comment it does not matter I am not with child neither am I a child.

bjorn tries to make ammends for previous behavior. torvi’s comment it does not matter I am not with child neither am I a child.

The relationship between Bjorn and Torvi is of two adults who are able to have a serious discussion, understand each other and agree upon it without yelling or tears.

torvi's response  so did I we used each other

torvi’s response so did I we used each other

torvi can smile at bjorn and admit her complicity in the act

bjorn and torvi are able to have a serious adult conversation and laugh about it

bjorn and torvi are able to have a serious adult conversation and laugh about it

Bjorn gave Torvi a heartfelt gift which she kept and appreciated for a few moments before her husband Erlandeur grabbed it from her and told her it was too good for her, a whore.

bjorn gives torvi a gift of a brooch

bjorn gives torvi a gift of a brooch

Torvi reacts to erlandeur  No you're hurting me

Torvi reacts to erlandeur No you’re hurting me

torvi's brooch is gone and her hand is sliced

It was rather apparent that Torvi has suffered and endured abuse from Erlandeur but kept quiet counsel and maintains her inner dignity through it.

no tears from torvi she is resolute she is viking

Torvi has the inner strength, fortitude and grace of one who knows her worth and value despite her burdens. I only bring all of this up now because there is another such woman on the horizon… A young woman who has inner courage, strength and fortitude to endure and know her worth as a woman, as a princess. I also bring it up to show that Bjorn’s destiny does lie in Paris with a woman who has the inner makings of a Princess or a Queen.

Now, before we go on with Rollo’s destiny, let us look one more time at the Seer’s prophecies. This prophecy was an older one which he made to Ragnar about his sons. He told Ragnar that his sons would do great things, in fact be more famous than him?  One son would marry the daughter of a King, and one son would sail seas  that have no waves… The seer was actually correct in this message according to history.

 

 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.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bj%C3%B6rn_Ironside

Another son did indeed marry the daughter of a King…granted, a King that he killed but still, a King. Sigurd Snake in the eye married the daughter of a King and in fact, his descendants went on to gain the throne of England for a short time!

In 865 King Ella of Northumbria killed Ragnar Lodbrok in a pit of serpents. When Ragnar was suffering in the pit he is reputed to have exclaimed: “How the young pigs would squeal if they knew what the old boar suffers!”   And soon his sons did know, as King Ella was foolish enough to send an embassy to acquaint them of the fact. When the brothers heard of their father’s death Sigurd is said to have cut himself to the bone with a knife he held in his hand and his brother Björn Ironside gripped his spear so tightly that the imprint of his fingers was left in the wood.  Sigurd and his brothers swore they would avenge his killing in time-honoured Viking tradition. The legend says that their first attempt failed, but through the treachery of the oldest brother, the notoriously cruel and cunning Ivar the Boneless, Ella was duped into a battle he could not win. In 866 they crossed the North Sea with a large army. This Great Heathen Army sacked York, met King Ella in battle and captured him. They sentenced him to die according to the custom of the Blood Eagle), an exceedingly painful death. It consisted of cutting away the ribs from the spine and pulling the lungs backward through the cavities formed to form the shape of an eagle.

Ragnarssona þáttr informs that when his father died, he inherited Zealand, Scania, Halland, the Danish islands, and Viken. He married Blaeja, the daughter of king Ælla of Northumbria and they had the children Harthacanute and Aslaug, who was named after her grandmother Aslaug.

Harthacanute succeeded Sigurd as the king of Zealand, Scania and Halland, but he lost Viken. He was the father of Gorm the Old, the king of Denmark. Gorm succeeded his father as king and married Thyra, the daughter of the Jutish chieftain Harald Klak. When Harald died, Gorm took his kingdom too and united Denmark.

Harald succeeded his father as king and married Gyrid of Sweden. They had a son named Sweyn Forkbeard. Sweyn succeeded his father as king and married Gunhild. They had a son named Cnut the Great. Sweyn also ruled England in his lifetime and established the Danish Empire. When Sweyn died, his elder son Harald Svendsen became King Denmark as England’s former king Ethelred reclaimed it. However as Harald did not marry, his brother Cnut the great became king, re-established the Danish Empire and married Emma of Normandy. They had a son named Harthacnut. When Cnut died, Harthacnut became king of the Danish Empire, however, he lost England to Edward the confessor in 1042.

In his way, Sigurd was probably the son who achieved the most eventual fame and reputation. The interesting part of Sigurd’s story and his descendants is the fact that his most famous descendant, Cnut the Great married a descendant of Rollo. Cnut married Emma of Normandy, who was previously married to Aethelred the unready of  England.  Now, let us add another factor into this equasion… Aethelred the unready was the descendant of  King Ecbert of Wessex and his grandson, Alfred.  What is a bit ironic about Emma’s marriage to Aethelred is the fact that she was descended from Vikings and then married to Aethelred as means of uniting the countries against Viking threats. She brought her Viking bloodline to the throne of England and bore Athelred two sons- one of whom would eventually be King. Then after Aethelred died, she went so far as to willingly marry Cnut the Great. With this marriage she held the title of Queen Consort of England, Denmark and Norway. 

Under his reign, Cnut brought together the English and Danish kingdoms, and the people saw a golden age of dominance across Scandinavia, as well as within the British Isles. His campaigns abroad meant the tables of Viking supremacy were stacked in favour of the English, turning the prows of the longships towards Scandinavia. He reinstated the Laws of King Edgar to allow for the constitution of a Danelaw,  and for the activity of Scandinavians at large. He also reinstituted the extant laws with a series of proclamations to assuage common grievances brought to his attention, including: On Inheritance in case of Intestacy, and On Heriots and Reliefs.  He also strengthened the currency, initiating a series of coins of equal weight to those being used in Denmark and other parts of Scandinavia

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

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

You can read more of Emma’s story in a book by Helen Hollick titled, The Forever Queen.

forever quee

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom-and her crown-are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.

The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick

With Emma of Normandy and Cnut the Great, the Viking dream of a Daneland rather than an England became very close to a reality. Emma also brought the Normans to England with her Norman/Viking ancestry and the mistake that she made of leaving her son Edward by Aethelred to be raised in exile in Normandy. He thereby had a closer relationship and ties with Normandy than with his own English people when he eventually came to the throne of England.

 

This all gives much credence to the Seer’s prophecies about Ragnar’s sons. That leaves of course, the prophecy regarding the Princess crowning the Bear. Because if it is not Bjorn, then we would assume it must be Rollo himself.  What is Rollo’s connection or reference to “Bear”  other than his presumed size which was mentioned previously. Well, we need to look at the term Bear in the Norse language, mythology and legend, as well as look at Rollo himself in how he might fit into this.

The connection can be found in the word Berserker! If we look back at Rollo’s fighting behaviors, there are certainly time when he could be described as Berserker.

Rollo strikes the blow

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

rollo always the warrior Rollo has slipped away from reason or reality rollo in battle 2

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

Today, the word ‘berserk’  describes one with an irrational, agitated state of mind who cannot or does not control his or her actions. The meaning of the word originates with the Viking berserkers, the fierce warriors who were known for battling in an uncontrollable, trance-like fury, and were alleged to be able to perform seemingly impossible super-human feats of strength.  In medieval Norse and Germanic history and folklore, the berserkers were described as members of an unruly warrior gang that worshipped Odin, the supreme Norse deity, and were commissioned to royal and noble courts as bodyguards and ‘shock troops’, who would strike fear into all who encountered them. Adding to their ferocity, and in order to intimidate the enemy, they would wear bear and wolf pelts when they fought, giving them the name Berserker, meaning “bear coat” in Old Norse.

While some researchers believe the Berserkers simply worked themselves up into a self-induced hysteria before fighting, others maintain that it was sorcery, the consumption of drugs or alcohol, or even mental illness, that accounted for their behaviour. Some botanists have claimed that berserker behaviour could have been caused by the ingestion of the plant known as bog myrtle, one of the main spices in Scandinavian alcoholic beverages. Yet another theory is the consumption of hallucinating properties of such plants as certain types of mushrooms.  Well, both Floki and Rollo have consumed their share of mushrooms!
http://www.ancient-origins.net/myths-legends/viking-berserkers-fierce-warriors-or-drug-fuelled-madmen-001472

 

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

rollo is a good host he shares his shrooms

And, we are all well aware of Rollo’s drinking habits!

rollo's solution marry both of them take one as wife the other as concubine that will settle the matter rollo is not happy either

With this explanation we can reasonably assume that yes, Rollo could be considered a  Berserker or “Bear” in the context that the Seer is speaking of.

rollo in thoughtrollo in fur

So, Rollo can be considered a Bear, and he arrives in Paris where, as far as we know- there is only one Princess currently in residence! At first glance this young girl would appear far too meek and unassuming to do anything more than simply place a crown on Rollo’s head for some reason?

you must tell him that you will not abandon your people you will stay with them be with them protect them

This initially unassuming young woman is Princess Gisla, daughter of Frankish King Charles. If you are thinking to find out more about her in actual history, you will have little luck. There is some debate and doubt as to whether she actually existed or was errantly confused with another Princess Gisela of the same time period. She does get mention in some traditional, older accounts of Rollo’s history but there is little or no evidence or proof of her true existence.

In our world, she does exist and we can assume that she is the Princess that the Seer is referring to. As to the crown part of the prophecy, this could be a more metaphorical reference than a literal one. In history, Rollo was never a prince or king. What he did supposedly gain with his marriage to Gisela was land. Or rather, with the treaty and the land, he also gained Gisela. I say it this way because the way it was written, there would have been no real reason for Rollo to be offered Gisela? He signed a treaty pledging his allegiance, complied with all of the terms of the treaty and was awarded the land and then for some reason he was also rewarded with Gisela. This is important because it puts the marriage in a different light than one of a peace offering or arrangement. Gisela was not being used as a peace weaver or peace cow as was common for many young women in that time period. An example would be the Lady Judith of our saga, who was in a sense traded for peace between kingdoms. 

So, if Gisela was not being used in this sense, then it was an arrangement that Rollo wanted for some reason, and Charles went along with it. As we see in this young woman, Gisla, she is not one to be put into a marriage not of her acceptance or choosing.  Another thought on this situation that might explain why this Gisla or Gisela gets such little historical reference.  If Gisela chose to enter into such a marriage or partnership with Rollo on her own, perhaps she was willing to give up her more Royal status and forge a life with Rollo instead. If she did that, she would no longer be of any importance or consequence in the history of this Royal lineage. No one would write any further account of her because in their minds she would cease to exist in that Royal line. In history, she supposedly did not bear Rollo any children so she would be of little real importance in the future documentation of his lineage either. It would be quite easy for those early historians to set her aside and let her fade away into unknown history.   In history, our King Charles III or Charles the Simple had a number of daughters by his first wife, then by his second wife, he finally had a son who would eventually become Louis IV of France.  As one of many daughters, Gisela’s marriage choice may have been of less consequence or importance once this son was born to the family. She may have had more freedom to choose her own marriage because of this. 

Charles the Simple:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_the_Simple

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.

As I mentioned this young woman is not the timid, unassuming mouse that her initial appearance would suggest. No, we come to see that Gisla is very much in control of her own life and it would seem that she is in a way, the hidden power behind the crown of her Father. She has a close relationship with him and acts as his counsel and advisor.

gisla I did not want to be sent away  I wanted to stay here with you with our people gisla is the strength behind this crown

gisla:   you must tell odo that you will not leave your people

gisla: you must tell odo that you will not leave your people

There is mention made that she has turned down a number of marriage proposals, among them, the Count Odo’s proposal. This is clearly not a woman who will be pushed into a marriage of convenience or even political reasons. Odo is hopeful though that once he saves Paris, she will rethink his proposal and agree to the marriage.

if you save paris I will forever be in your debt

I will admit that my first impression of Gisla was that this little mouse of a girl would be somehow forced into a marriage with Rollo and would have great difficulty in holding her own with him… Now, my impression is that she has enough inner strength and determination for both herself and Rollo!  I do believe that she could easily be guiding force behind Rollo’s transition from wild Berserker Viking warrior to founder of a well run and disciplined kingdom that becomes a force to be reckoned with throughout the medieval world! While she may not place a literal crown on him, she will  guide him and shape him into a leader that will enable crowns to placed upon many of his descendants!

This Princess Gisla will teach Rollo how to rule a kingdom… as we will see in a future article about Rollo, someone obviously influences, molds and turns him into a ruler and it just might have been one such as Gisla.

So, in final answer to the puzzle of the Seer’s prophecy, Yes the Princess does crown the Bear and it is Rollo!

Our puzzle has been answered to the best of my knowledge and predictions. But, before I end this tonight, I just want to take one closer look at this Princess Gisla. As I said, there is little evidence of her actual existence or her relationship with Rollo other than some fragmented historical references to her. Most current and more documented evidence gives his wife or concubine as Poppa as the Mother of his children. There is little information on her either other than that she might have been captured by Rollo during his attack on Bayeux.  I believe that from Michael Hirst’s perspective and thought, it may have been easier and more expedient to the story line to use Gisla rather than Poppa.  Gisla gives an excellent parallel and represents the difference between the Noblewomen of Europe and those of a fledgling Britain during this time period.

I think that Gisla is a representation of the women of the Carolingian dynasty. The Carolingian empire and dynasty was the one of which King Charles and West Francia were a part of. It  was the final stage in the history of the early medieval realm of the Franks, ruled by the Carolingian dynasty. The size of the empire at its zenith around 800 was 1,112,000 km, with a population of between 10 and 20 million people.  With its division in 843, it also represents the earliest stage in the history of the kingdom of France and the kingdom of Germany, which in the High Middle Ages would emerge as the powerful monarchies of continental Europe, Capetian France and the Holy Roman Empire, and by extension the predecessor of the modern nations of France and Germany. The beginning of the Carolingian era is marked by the coronation of Charlemagne, or Charles the Great by Pope Leo III at Christmas of the year 800, and its end with the death of Charles the Fat.Because Charlemagne and his ancestors had been rulers of the Frankish realm earlier (his grandfather Charles Martel had essentially founded the empire during his lifetime, and his father, Pepin the Short, was the first King of the Franks), the coronation did not actually constitute a new empire. Most historians prefer to use the term “Frankish Kingdoms” or “Frankish Realm” to refer to the area covering parts of today’s Germany and France from the 5th to the 9th century.

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

I do not want to get too lost or bogged down in the massive amount of history concerning this empire. I just want to point out that it had an extensive long history already before the small Isle of Britain began their slow climb towards a so called civilized nation.  King Charles and his daughter were a part of this empire and were descendants of one of it’s great rulers, Charlemagne. King Charles mentions this during his discussion with Count Odo…

  I will not go to my brothers for help in this I will prove I am worthy of my Grandfather Charlamagne.

I will not go to my brothers for help in this I will prove I am worthy of my Grandfather Charlamagne.

Charlemagne (/ˈʃɑrlɨmn/; 2 April 742/747/748 – 28 January 814), also known as Charles the Great (Latin: Carolus or Karolus Magnus, French: Charles Le Grand or Charlemagne, German: Karl der Große, Italian: Carlo Magno or Carlomagno) or Charles I, was King of the Franks who united most of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and laid the foundations for modern France and Germany. He took the Frankish throne from 768 and became King of Italy from 774. From 800 he became the first Holy Roman Emperor – the first recognized Roman emperor in Western Europe since the collapse of the Western Roman Empire three centuries earlier. The expanded Frankish state he founded is called the Carolingian Empire.

The oldest son of Pepin the Short and Bertrada of Laon, Charlemagne became king in 768 following the death of his father. He was initially co-ruler with his brother Carloman I. Carloman’s sudden death in 771 under unexplained circumstances left Charlemagne as the undisputed ruler of the Frankish Kingdom. Charlemagne continued his father’s policy towards the papacy and became its protector, removing the Lombards from power in northern Italy, and leading an incursion into Muslim Spain. He also campaigned against the Saxons to his east, Christianizing them upon penalty of death, at times leading to events such as the Massacre of Verden. Charlemagne reached the height of his power in 800 when he was crowned Emperor of the Romans by Pope Leo III on Christmas Day at Old St. Peter’s Basilica.

Called the “Father of Europe” (pater Europae), Charlemagne united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire. His rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a period of cultural and intellectual activity within the Catholic Church. Both the French and German monarchies considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne’s empire.

Charlemagne died in 814, having ruled as emperor for just over thirteen years. He was laid to rest in his imperial capital of Aachen in what is today Germany. His son Louis the Pious succeeded him.

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

The kingdoms of England were in their infancy and just learning how to survive let alone reach any form of greatness… A few such as Ecbert of Wessex had been exposed to the greatness and the power of  Charlemagne’s empire. And, to give Ecbert his credit, this is the form of greatness that he was striving for after having spent time at Charlemagne’s court.

One only has to look at the various places of both countries and see the blatent differences….

Paris

paris at night2 Paris in the distance

Wessex

wessex arriving in wessex

Court/ Great Hall of Paris

great hall of Paris

Great hall of Wessex

great hall of Wessex

There was really no equitable comparison between the places, the people or the cultures. This includes the status of women in each place. 

In the Carolingian Empire, women held positions vital to the sustainability of Carolingian culture and society. Not only did they support men in traditional roles as virtuous mothers, nurturers, and models of beauty and morality, but they also controlled massive amounts wealth, protected against armed revolts, and preserved family lineages. Although the majority of Carolingian texts are authored by men and concern masculine activities, brief glimpses of the lives of aristocratic women can be deciphered through careful examination. In addition, history has a tendency to view women through a modern feminist lens, which leaves pre-modern women subject to assumptions of vulnerability, subjugation, and passivity. But these assumptions are not necessarily true. Although they lived in the constraints of a patriarchal society, Carolingian aristocratic women held a high status and role achieved through law and politics, economic and managerial pursuits, religious ties and family bonds, as well as education and domestic leadership.

women in the vast  Carolingian Empire differed in their ethnic backgrounds, roles in religious or lay settings, and responsibilities. Even the simple idea of marriage during this time had different definitions as Muntehe, Friedelehe, and concubines existed simultaneously. It is therefore important to take these differences into consideration and further define the differing statuses of women in order to better understand them.

You can read more about women in the Carolingian Empire here:

http://www.medievalists.net/2012/11/28/powerful-women-in-a-patriarchal-society-examining-the-social-status-and-roles-of-aristocratic-carolingian-women/

The Carolingian Noblewomen did still live within a world of constraints and domination of men but they were more highly valued than the women of Saxon England. They also knew better how to maneuver themselves within those constraints and maintain their value and self worth.  Gisla is one of these women. She was most likely raised to know the importance of her worth in society. And while she would have understood the importance of a political marriage or alliance with regard to her family and her country, she would have been well educated in the politics of the time to know what was advantageous and what would bring her family and country nothing in return. While Saxon England was struggling to find it’s place and learn what was considered acceptable, civilized behavior in regards to nobility, Gisla’s world was already well versed in what was deemed appropriate and civilized for Nobility and Royalty. Gisla was raised as a Royal Princess, and it shows.  Compare her for instance to our infamous now Queen Kwentirith… I am quite sure that Gisla would be completely disgusted and horrified at Kweni’s behaviors as both Princess and Queen? Not that the rest of us aren’t as well, but comparing these two women clearly shows that Kwenitirith is way out her league when it comes to Royal demeanor and social skills!

Gisla’s conduct and carriage

daughter Gisla arrives to give her advice Do not forget who is in charge here gisla I did not want to be sent away  I wanted to stay here with you with our people

verses some of Kwenitirith’s various inappropriate actions…

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

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

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

The prophecy of the Princess crowning the Bear is much clearer now.

The princess will crown the Bear

This leaves us two last messages to decipher… The Dead not the Living will conquer Paris, and this does not bode well for you Ragnar Lothbrok. 

Let’s address the message of this all not boding well for Ragnar first because it’s really the easiest to figure out!  First of all, Ragnar has always been the favored one of the Gods. Rollo makes much of this fact when he speaks to the Seer of his pain and his anger. In the relationship between these two brothers, Rollo has spent his life in Ragnar’s shadow fighting for his own identity, his own reputation. It is a constant battle for him to find his own way yet remain loyal to a brother he loves. Because despite all of Rollo’s bitterness and resentment over Ragnar’s favor with the Gods and everyone on earth, he does love his brother and continues to stand behind him no matter what. Ragnar has come to take this for granted. He assumes that Rollo will continue in on this path of following him and remaining in his shadow. I believe that Ragnar thinks all of their sibling difficulties and rivalry are now in the past. He believes that Rollo has accepted his fate and will remain ever loyal and faithful to him now. The coming events in Paris will test this relationship again. This time Rollo will be given opportunity and reason to once more question his allegiance and loyalties to Ragnar’s mission, Ragnar’s goals. Rollo will find his own path, his own destiny in Paris and it will eventually lead to far greater fame, glory and reputation that Ragnar could ever think to achieve. Rollo’s time for greatness is coming and Ragnar will most likely not be expecting it or so happy about it.  

Portrait of Rollo’s destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art.

 

portrait of Rollo by Lindamarieanson of Deviant Art

portrait of Rollo by Lindamarieanson of Deviant Art

 

The message of “Not the Living but the Dead shall conquer Paris”  far more difficult to sort out. In looking at the history of Paris, it has actually only been conquered a few times in it’s long history. The Romans did conquer it and gave the city it’s name. The new city was called Lutetia or Lutetia Parisiorum (Lutece of the Parisii). The name probably came from the Latin word luta, meaning mud or swam.  Caesar had described the great marsh, or marais, along the right bank of the Seine. 

The gradual collapse of the Roman empire, due to the increasing Germanic invasions of the 5th century, sent the city into a period of decline. In 451 AD, the city was threatened by the army of Attila the Hun, which had pillaged Treves, Metz and Reims The Parisians were planning to abandon the city, but they were persuaded to resist by Saint Genevieve (422-502). Attila bypassed Paris and attacked Orléans. In 461, the city was threatened again by the Salian Franks, led by Childeric I (436-481). The siege of the city lasted ten years. Once again Genevieve organized the defense. She rescued the city by bringing wheat to the hungry city from Brie and Champagne on a flotilla of eleven barges. She became the patron saint of Paris.

In 481, the son of Childeric, Clovis I, just sixteen years old, became the new ruler of the Franks. In 486, he defeated the last Roman armies, and became the ruler of all of Gaul north of the Loire River. With the consent of Genevieve, he entered Paris. He was converted to Christianity by his wife Clothilde, was baptised at Reims in 496, and made Paris his capital.

During the Viking era, No Vikings ever conquered Paris. In future generations, Paris would suffer great devastations and catastrophes from the Plague and from various wars but it would not be conquered again until World War II when Hitler invaded and conquered the city.

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

Knowing the history and the future of Paris causes one to wonder just what the Seer is referring to with this foretelling.  As we’ve come to see, the Seer is usually fairly correct in connecting his prophecies to some sort of real historical events. So, what exactly is he alluding to with this reference?  He is speaking of this to Ragnar so one would assume that it has to do with Viking attempts to conquer the city and not later devastations which would almost decimate the city but not bring about it’s downfall. One event was the Plague which nearly wiped out the population but not the city itself.

When the Seer speaks of the Dead conquering the City, perhaps he is referring to the fact that at this time, the only people to have ever conquered the city were the long dead Romans! Perhaps he is warning Ragnar  in his usual cryptic way that this attempt is futile and only filled with death for the Vikings. It could also refer to the fact that aside from the long dead Romans, there is only one other force which has already conquered Paris. Paris has already been conquered and won by Christianity and their dead Christ who will rise again to defeat their enemies. Paris is a stronghold fortress of the deeply religious Christians. Their beliefs are so strong that they will defend their city and their religion at all costs. These are not wishy washy half believers like many of the only recently converted Saxons. Many of the Saxons were only pious believers as long as it was to their benefit. No, Christianity was so deeply engrained in the people of Paris and other parts of Francia that they firmly believed that their righteous God would carry them through any adversity. This area was the beginning of the Warriors of God, Defenders of Faith.

Their faith and their determination were every bit as strong as the Vikings belief in Odin. In a sense this could be looked at as a battle between God and Odin. Gisla understands this clearly and becomes a driving force and inspiration to the people of Paris as she leads them in a disturbing yet riveting prayer to God for victory over these Pagan forces intent on destroying their city and their faith.

you may rely upon me to do everything possible to persuade our people to hold firm and remain calm.

you may rely upon me to do everything possible to persuade our people to hold firm and remain calm.

Perhaps she is entreating God, calling him to send the courage and strength of the Dead such as their Holy Saints to the aid of this city?

In Paris they invoke their god for protection and victory

death masks

What ever her intent or her specific prayer, she has indeed inspired their people. She has put fear into them, and given them that God inspired courage to stand up and face this attack, to fight and win for God.

citizens of paris filled with fear and with awe

 

Princess Gisla uses all of the trappings and rituals of the church to inspire her people prayer of the dead

On the other side of the River the Vikings are calling upon their own Gods for victory

which gods will win

viking prayer for victory

viking prayer for victory

the future begins here

It will be a battle  beliefs as much as a battle for wealth and reputation. It will be a battle not easily won, filled with death and in the end most likely no side will actually claim victory.  Both sides will tire of the long siege and will eventually give into compromise.  In history, the Francians continued with a long held practice of paying the Viking raiders to leave. The Viking raiders were not well trained, skilled or patient with such long drawn out and life costly battles. They would grow weary as well.  They would accede to far less rewards than they originally wished for, take their payments and leave only to return again when they were in need of more wealth. We will talk more of the various battles and non- victories when we learn more about Rollo’s true history and destiny.

For now, who conquers Paris- the dead or the living… Well, in a way the Seer is again right because in the Vikings view the death of so many warriors is never really acceptable unless they are certain of victory. They are well known to be greatly cautious and careful with their battles so as not to risk the lives of their Warriors needlessly.  If they see the loss of lives becoming too great with no clear victory in sight, they will retreat and live to fight another day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Reborn: Celebrate and welcome to the world

First of all, before we get into the celebration of life and death, we have something else to celebrate. Thanks to all of you readers, fans and followers, my little blog has hit a huge milestone. Well, it’s huge for me anyway, considering the fact that when I started this blog I thought no one would bother with it but it was a place for me to escape to and live out my childhood fantasy of writing. Now, we have just reached 50,000 views! I must give credit and appreciation to those many followers who support and encourage me on various sites.

Thanks so much to all of my friends at Vikings Aftermath group on facebook! You are all so wonderful, such a great group of people! If you have not checked them out, please visit their page- you will not regret it!

Vikings Aftermath banner

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1549964118584940/

Much appreciation as well to the google communities!

Viking Mythology community

https://plus.google.com/communities/100495374719567622456

Vikings on History Channel community

https://plus.google.com/communities/100681266945249733824

And, although we are deeply entrenched in medieval and Viking history right now… and probably will remain so, I need to thank all of the Outlander fans out there! Especially, the Outlander Series facebook group! Without their initial support and encouragement, I would not have come so far on this path!

outlander series banner

https://www.facebook.com/groups/473400262697246/

Now, the thanks and credit have been mentioned and we can go on to celebrate together  Vikings style!

viking feast viking celebration4 viking celebration3 viking celebration2

Let us feast together, drink together and perhaps enjoy some entertainment together… though I promise that in this particular post party, we shall not have the prerequisite death. We shall save that sad event and the mourning for some other time. Tonight, we shall celebrate in happiness!

For your entertainment, we have managed to secure a special performance by the most popular entertainer in Francia!

mademoiselle LeWanderer

I told you the women in Paris were beautiful2

In addition, the Princess of PeePee, that well known scandalous Kwentirith will provide us with some interpretive dance…

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

Please save your cup throwing until her performance is finished!

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

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

Later, we shall enjoy some relaxation in the delightful Roman spa of Wessex…

What is it  This is wrong this is just so wrong

What is it This is wrong this is just so wrong

 

 

lagertha and ecbert are getting quite relaxed with each other

lagertha and ecbert are getting quite relaxed with each other

We did send an ivitation to Harbard the Wandering Story Teller to come regale us with his stories but he is not sure he can make it… he mentioned some prior commitments?  He did also state some concerns that he may not be so welcome right now…

Harbert earning his keep and telling stories of the gods to impress the women

 The highlight of our entertainment will be a moving speech from our own Ragnar Lothbrok!

working the audience getting them all excited about paris Ragnar inspires even the youngest

Tonight is a night for celebration and goodwill between families, friends, nations and religions. We shall set our differences aside and enjoy each other’s company. There shall be no drunken brawls, name calling, other harassment, nor shall there be back stabbing behind the scenes manipulations! I know, you are probably thinking, Well that takes all of the fun out everything… I am sorry, we must all learn to work together and get along, and this is a family event. There will be young ones here so please try to be on your best behavior!

There will be no secret killings either hidden away in back rooms!

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

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

As I said, there will be no harassment, or religious persecution tonight!

where is your arm ring where is it athelstan is harassed by the men of kattegat

That especially applies to you Floki….

floki puts the blame on athelstan

Perhaps we can all become christians why not

And, to you as well Aethelwulf!

so it is a boy congratulations aethelwulf watches his wife torture with disgust

aethewulf has directed the arrow

No drunken brawls or fighting… Are you listening, Rollo?

or well  rollo  he's still having some difficulties Rollo and Bjorn fight for life and for death siggy bluntly revives a drunken rollo

And, Finally no back stabbing behind the scenes schemes and manipulations…

to give birth to a very special child I have to ask you how's the settlement in wessex with this ruse we have rid ourselves of the northerners and all of those nobles who question my rule look at them huddled together  it sickens me kalf is not a fool he may be devious but he is not a fool It's clear that these men do not like her or at least do not want to be ruled by her

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

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

Ok what or who is next on the list2 Now what the hell do we do with her2 Here's to you Sweetheart  just don't get too comfortable cause you won't last long2

 

No, Tonight we all come together in peace and celebration. Let us have this one night of happiness.  For as much as we have great sadness coming, we have great happiness to share! Tonight, we celebrate as well, the birth of a new generation. We have been blessed with two new souls. They are two infants on very different paths…

Welcome to our world,  Siggy and Alfred… Your lives will follow very different destinies and there will be great difficulties ahead for both of you but you are special, you are blessed and you are well loved!

two infants two paths

Welcome little Siggy to the Lothbrok family of Kattegat!  Proud Parents are Bjorn and Porunn, even though they have their personal differences, you are a precious gift to them from the Gods. May your guardian spirit, Siggy guide you along the way and be with you in your heart as you hear of her and carry her name in memory!

welcome little siggy

To you little Alfred of Wessex, we welcome you as well. Never doubt how well you are loved, you also are a gift from God!  No matter how difficult your life has been from it’s precarious beginnings or how hard it will be in the future, rest assured that you too have a guardian, a Father in heaven who will guide your path in an uncertain future.

his name is Alfred He shall be great

So, for tonight let us just join these two families in welcoming their children into the world!

Some first family photos…

it is a girl

it is a girl

I would like to call her Siggy

I would like to call her Siggy

bjorn bonding with his daughter

bjorn bonding with his daughter

bjorn blesses baby Siggy a happy Porunn agrees

family portrait Lagertha bjorn and baby siggy

Unfortunately, due to extremely difficult and extenuating circumstances in Wessex, there are few early photos of family bonding time in that household… We will go into those details later but will assure you that the Lady Judith is presently recovering from a very traumatic child birth episode. All I can say right now is if Porunn wanted to complain about her fears and her situation, she should be very glad that she was not in Judith’s particular situation.

 

baby alfred I want my baby give me my baby in wessex judith has given birth to a son

 

this father is not filled with joy.

this father is not filled with joy.

no he is not overcome with happines at this sight

no he is not overcome with happines at this sight

so it is a boy congratulations

so it is a boy congratulations

what place what are you talking about what is this

what place what are you talking about what is this