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Vikings Saga: Kweni’s Destiny and legacy

I wrote much of this when Kweni met her end but did not publish it then because I wanted to see what direction Michael Hirst would go with the future of her son. For me personally, Kweni’s death in some ways served as a turning point, a sign of the changes to come and the ending fates that so many of this older generation will meet. As we come to the end of a chapter or era with the death of Ragnar, I feel it only fitting to first look at those last days of Kweni and how her death would ultimately affect the future of those left behind.  While we do not know where exactly Hirst will go with Kweni’s young son, his future is directly related to the events, the actions and the choices of Kweni in those last days of her life.

kwenis-destiny

 

Our loveable but undeniably somewhat unhinged Princess Kwentirith of Mercia met a tragic but necessary end. I say necessary because I wondered for some time what her fate would be in the creative mind of Mr. Hirst. While I am so saddened at the way Kweni met her end, I personally applaud Michael Hirst for the direction he took with this woman who’s life seemed set upon such a doomed course from the beginning. I have written previously about historical reference for Kweni’s existence and the role of that actual historical figure in the life of  the real Ecbert. 

You can read my thoughts on the historical basis for Kweni here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/vikings-trivia-who-is-princess-kwenthrith/

For more information on the actual history of Ecbert and his actions regarding that princess of Mercia in this article:

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

the return of kwentrith

the return of kwentrith

kwentirith talk to me of love and death

kwentirith's thought you don't fool me or anyone else I know what you're up to

kwentirith’s thought you don’t fool me or anyone else I know what you’re up to

Kwentirith as future ruler

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!

We have watched this tragic figure of Kweni from her early beginnings a more than slightly crazed young woman scrambling to achieve some semblance of power and control in a world dominated by men. There were times when we shook our heads at her insatiable cravings and her impulsive behaviors that we could obviously see were getting her only into more trouble.

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

a drunken kwentirith celebrating her uncle's death Kwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

We were made aware of her seriously troubled childhood and that past allowed us to feel some compassion for this young woman’s desperate attempts to gain back some sort of control over her life and her future.  There were times when we even began to appreciate her attempts and hope for her success. Last season we saw her finally claw her way to that throne of Mercia and we wondered if there might indeed be some way for this woman, as deranged as she might be, to actually survive and win against the equally deranged and much more powerful Ecbert; Ecbert,  who was willing to go so far as sacrificing his son Aethelwulf in order to win against Kweni. 

my-father-this-my-father-that-really-aethelwulf-how-old-are-you-do-you-not-have-a-thought-in-your-head-of-your-own how-old-are-you-aethelwulf kweni-ohhhh-stop-yelling-you-fool i-think-you-may-know-him-ragnar-lothbrok let-me-present-my-son-prince-magnus

What we saw this season was difficult and sad to watch because Kweni finally seemed to have a grasp on the throne of Mercia and on her sanity as well. We saw Kweni at her strongest and at her most vulnerable. I admit that when we saw Kweni become a Mother last season, I had some serious doubts about her Motherly instincts and her ability to raise a child. This season we saw that Kweni’s greatest strength and also her greatest weakness came with Motherhood. She fought like a warrior to protect her son and she became desperate enough to risk everything for his survival and future. Kweni may have suffered from the dysfunction and the insanity that ravaged her family but her last actions were those of a Mother willing to give up everything including her life to protect her child. 

kwenis-found-her-battle-mode kwenis-guards-get-their-orders-to-kill-the-queen kweni-fights-back-with-the-rage-of-a-mother kweni-does-have-a-motherly-instinct-after-all-nobody-messes-with-her-baby aethelwulf-finally-makes-it-to-the-top-of-the-tower-to-rescue-damsel-kweni-copy

One of the most bittersweet parts of Kweni’s final story besides that of her fight for her son was that she finally found love and true affection as she put it, with Aethelwulf.  Aethelwulf was probably the one man who could understand her behaviors that stemmed from her childhood of being raised in such an environment of others seeking control and domination by any means necessary. It was that affection that even brought Kweni a friend- probably for the first time in her life.

kweni-feels-she-must-make-her-confession-to-judith judith-already-knows-that-the-child-kweni-is-carrying-is-athelwulfs-and-probably-doesnt-really-care

kweni-wants-judiths-help-to-escape-from-ecbert-now-that-is-another-matter-entirely-copy-2 kwenis-attempt-to-escape-has-failed judith-watches-as-kweni-is-dragged-away

And, in the end it was that unlikely friendship with Judith that led to Kweni’s end. For me, that ending was by far the most painful, heart wrenching scene to watch. 

kweni-is-desperate-and-desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures-copy-2 kweni-has-reached-the-point-of-no-return-with-her-desperate-measures-copy-copy

 

I knew from the onset of Ecbert taking Kweni and her son in, and holding them as hostage that there was really not much hope for Kweni’s continued presence at this court… there were few options for her short of Ecbert himself marrying her. As in actual history, Ecbert refused to even entertain this option or idea. For Kweni that left an escape or banishment to Francia which Ecbert may have allowed eventually but that option would have been certain to not include her son. Little Magnus was far too important to Ecbert’s schemes to let him out of his grasp. The one other impediment to Kweni being allowed to leave was the fact that she was carrying Aethelwulf’s child… had she not been pregnant, Ecbert may chosen that option of banishing her. He could not afford to let her go with the possibility of her having another royal heir to use as some leverage against him. So, Kweni is held to await the birth of a child that she will never be allowed to raise…  Kweni’s final days and acts of desperation set in as she realizes that she is doomed.  My personal thought on her final act is that she knew she was doomed to certain death but she would take Ecbert with her as her last final revenge. 

 

kwenis-laugh-turns-to-tears-as-she-realizes-her-position-copy

kwenis laugh turns to tears as she realizes her position.

someone-else-has-taken-matters-into-hand-with-kweni-copy

Someone else has taken matters into hand with Kweni

judith-has-stepped-in-and-saved-ecberts-life-but-now-kwenis-death-is-on-her-hands-and-heart

Judith has stepped in to save Ecbert’s life but now Kweni’s death is on her hands and her heart.

kwenis-words-ohhhh-judith

Kweni’s last faint words, Ohhhh Judith

What no one expected was that Judith would  have to be the one responsible for Kweni’s end. The look on both of their faces as they silently said that last goodbye to each other was heart breaking. But, as heart breaking as it was, it also held some symbolism and odd appropriateness. Kweni’s death was a given, she was doomed if by nothing else, the very fact that she was attempting to kill the King. Had she succeeded in her attempt or even been caught by anyone else, she would have been publicly arrested and executed most likely in front of everyone including her son. Instead of that fate, Kweni was killed by the one person she counted as friend. Her end came via the one person who would look into her eyes at that very end and convey some feeling of grief, of loss and guilt. Kweni’s death at the hand of Judith may possibly be the one salvation or grace for her son… Will Judith’s guilt at this killing be enough for her to offer some compassion and kindness to the child that Ecbert holds hostage for the future?  I would like to believe that Judith will look after this child, Magnus and provide him with some measure of love and kindness that might not be in Ecbert’s heart or mentality. The last we hear of Magnus is that he is being raised at the court of Ecbert and that it is public knowledge that Ragnar is his Father.  My worry is that without some intervention by one such as Judith would be capable of, this childhood for Magnus could be every bit as painful, dysfunctional and damaging as Kweni’s childhood was for her. 

As I previously mentioned, I wrote this portion when Kweni died. Now years later, we finally see the events, the fate and the destiny begin to play out. The child, Magnus has been raised in Ecbert’s household and for all outward appearances, it seems he has been well treated by Ecbert, Aethelwulf and Judith. He has been told of his lineage as far as everyone there knows. This boy believes he is the son of Ragnar Lothbrok- he knows no different although Ecbert admits that he’s always had some doubts about this? Probably because this boy seems to lack the “Warrior” gene?  

The meeting between young Magnus and Ragnar is to say the least, difficult to watch. As I mentioned, this boy truly believes that Ragnar is his Father and he looks forward to finally meeting the man he has been told so much about, even if that man is being held chained in a cage. Despite that, Magnus is proud to be a son of Ragnar…

ecbert-and-magnus

magnus-speaks-his-heart-to-ragnar

Ragnar puts a first cut into the boy’s emotions when he adamantly denies that he is his Father. 

ragnar-denies-that-he-is-magnus-father

Ragnar denies that he is Magnus’ Father

puzzled-and-confused-magnus

Magnus is of course puzzled, confused and hurt at this statement from Ragnar.

Now, I do have to add my own thought here… this boy seems to be a bit naive and sheltered from the realities of the world that he is living in. Apparently Magnus does not appear to be aware that living in Wessex, being the son of Ragnar Lothbrok the great Viking is not necessarily a thing to be proud of or advertising? So, Ragnar may be telling the truth, or he may be lying in order to somehow protect the boy. What ever the case, it is just the first hard dose of reality the boy must suddenly face!

The next dose of reality is just as difficult to watch… Magnus seems to have some decent relationship with Aethelwulf until Aethelwulf deals him an ultimate blow of supposed betrayal? In this boy’s mind, what else can he think this action by Aethelwulf is? Granted, Aethelwulf may also be trying to save the boy’s life in the only way he thinks possible by sending him out into the world on his own now to become a man. I’m pretty certain though that at this point in his life, that is not how Magnus is viewing it. As I already mentioned, this boy seems quite naive and does not comprehend just how precarious his fate is right now. The one thing that bothered me about this action by Aethelwulf is the fact that he tells Magnus to tell people he is the son of Ragnar and that they will help him… Really, Aethelwulf, how far is this boy going to get in the middle of Wessex by admitting to anyone he meets that he is the son of Ragnar! This just seems to be setting the boy up for a certain death as he attempts to wander his way through Wessex. A far better piece of advice to the boy would have been, “Tell no one who you really are or where you come from!”  Unless of course, Aethelwulf has some other plan of escape or rescue for the boy set up, this advice made no sense what so ever! Also, looking at the situation from the perspective of this boy being extremely naive and not much of a warrior type, I can not envision this boy surviving very long on his own without some sort of back up plan on Aethelwulf’s part…

aethelwulf-sends-magnus-out-on-his-own-to-become-a-man-its-time-for-you-to-leave-you-have-no-choice

Aethelwulf sends Magnus away out into the world on his own. “It’s time for you to leave, to become a man, you have no choice.

but-where-wil-i-go-magnus-asks-aethelwulf

Magnus asks Aethelwulf, “But where will I go”

destiny-will-guide-you-where-ever-you-go-you-tell-people-you-are-magnus-the-son-of-ragnar-lothbrok-and-people-will-look-after-you

Destiny will guide you. Where ever you go, you tell people you are Magnus, the son of Ragnar Lothbrok and people will look after you.

magnus-scared-and-heartbroken

Magnus, scared and heartbroken tries to hold fast to Aethelwulf

aethelwulf-goes-so-far-as-to-threaten-the-boy-with-death-start-walking-you-start-walking-now-or-you-will-die

When Magnus tries to refuse, Aethelwulf goes so far to threaten him, “Start walking, you start walking now or you will die!”

a-fearful-magnus-there-are-animals-in-the-woods-aethelwulf-whispers-there-are-animals-inside

A fearful Magnus says, There are animals in the woods. Aethelwulf whispers to him, There are animals within this Villa!

 

Kweni  risked everything to protect and save her son only for him to be cast out into the cold on his own with no understanding of why… Hopefully his fate and his destiny will not follow a similar path as his Mother’s!

kwenis-son-magnus

 

 

 

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 Scarred: It’s not a good party unless someone dies!

I mentioned previously that there was a great feast to welcome the victorious heroes home… I did force myself to attend, and it went the way most of these parties usually do.  What I have come to realize is that the parties of this time are not really so different as ones of the future, other than the type of entertainment that seems to be a requirement of a successful event? There is all of the typical political and business networking going on, the back room under the table deals being made, the not so secret affairs coming to light after a few drinks, the drunken brawls as well as the drunken affections. Then there are the family squabbles and dirty laundry that always seem to get aired? As I said, not really any different than any number of business parties or family functions of the future other than that one small event that always ends up being the highlight of the party. It is just not considered a success or an A list event unless there is a death involved somehow!  This event included all of these and did not fail on the death as entertainment.

a night of glorious feasting and celebration

All of the important A list celebrities of Wessex were there, as well as some visitors from other Kingdoms? When King Aelle showed up for a visit, it was obvious that this was more than just your average run of the mill homecoming celebration… This was indeed more of a business, power broker’s meeting. Of course he could always use the excuse that he was just in the neighborhood and decided to pay his daughter a visit? Yeah, right… nobody really fell for it but it was a convenient excuse.  Judith was not happy to see him. I really can’t say that I blame her? I’m sure that she was probably glad to leave his house for this new family! Anyway, more of them later.

As I mentioned, there were the usual behind the scenes affairs being carried on which made for some discomfort later during the party.  Lagertha was wrapping up her dalliance with Ecbert in preparation to return home to her other responsibilities in Hedeby.

Lagertha shows her independance

Lagertha shows her independence

Ecbert naturally assumed that she would want to stay here with him and she did have to be quite honest with him!

Even though you have made me happy and satisfied  I have come to understand that the only person you truly care for is yourself

Even after her honesty, he still tried…

I've enjoyed your company and the sex has been incredible

I’ve enjoyed your company and the sex has been incredible

what if I asked you personally to stay

Lagertha tried to keep the parting on good terms. She did still need his protection for the settlement after all, it wouldn’t be wise to piss him off completely and then leave their people stranded there!

Athelstan and Judith had been carrying on their own semi-private affair… I put it this way because, really nothing is truly private or secret here!

do you love me  Yes I love you

Then, when the group returned, it came out that Ragnar might have been carrying on his own somewhat dubious and slightly disgusting liason with Princess Kwentirith… my personal thought on that- euwwww, just euwwww Really, Ragnar???

yes she understands  now on to next matter of business

yes she understands now on to next matter of business

how is your wound  ohhh it still hurts you should make it better

how is your wound ohhh it still hurts you should make it better

 

King Ecbert welcomed the victorious heroes home, mainly his son- who will go down in history as the conquering hero of this mission with no mention of any help or assistance he may have had from others such as Danish mercenaries…

My son  No Father could be prouder You will go down in history as a hero for this

the return of a victorious warrior  who gets all the credit

Now, I did mention that Judith was not happy to see her Father, nor was she all that excited to see her heroic husband return. Of course, this return would put a bit of a damper on her relationship with Athelstan. But, then again, she just seemed a bit edgy and unsettled about everything lately? King Aelle of course noticed and was not happy with her attitude or her behavior. He had a lot riding on this marriage of hers and he made it pretty clear that she needed to get her shit together and behave appropriately…

Aelle and judith What is your problem

Aelle and judith What is your problem

I hear there's a nunnery down the road

I hear there’s a nunnery down the road

Yes, that was quite uncomfortable for everyone, including poor Athelstan who had to watch it all from a distance.

she has missed you beyond endurance she has spent countless hours praying in the chapel for your safe return

she has missed you beyond endurance she has spent countless hours praying in the chapel for your safe return

judith is the pawn again Judith fakes her welcome of Aethelwulf while eying athelstan an uncomfortable Athelstan looks on a pensive athelstan in the middle of the feast

There was a huge display of welcome for Kwentirith and her pathetic little brother and we had to endure watching him grovel for forgiveness from Ecbert. Ecbert went along with it all too easily and happily? We should have known something was up right then!

little brother is petrified but gullible

little brother is petrified but gullible

kwentirith leading her brother the lamb to slaughter

kwentirith leading her brother the lamb to slaughter

I'll crown them both you see how they feel about each other it makes sense

I’ll crown them both you see how they feel about each other it makes sense

There were the serious discussions and back room deals being made, along with some debates on corruption? Ragnar and Ecbert agreed they were both corrupt but that did not mean they weren’t good men! They cut some rather shady deals and Ecbert used the new settlement as leverage in getting at least part of what he wanted…

Yep, we're both corrupt and we both know it

Yep, we’re both corrupt and we both know it

you and I we understand each other

you and I we understand each other

I've helped you to establish a settlement in the very heart of my kingdom

I’ve helped you to establish a settlement in the very heart of my kingdom

Of course, after all of the drinking, there was some slightly drunken slobbering, whining and shows of affection… some of them expected, some of them bordering on inappropriate? Leave it to Kwentirith to push those limits of good manners and proper conduct!

(This scene was cut from our American viewing of the show!)

 

Amid these drunken affections, there were also hints of blackmail and “I know more than you think I do’s!”

Stay you must stay here

Stay you must stay here

I'm not sure I've not discussed it with Ragnar yet

I’m not sure I’ve not discussed it with Ragnar yet

Yes… Ecbert knows all about this dalliance with his daughter in law, in fact he may know more than anyone gives him credit for!

ecbert's response to athestan  Or with Judith

There was a more private discussion between Athelstan and Ecbert where Ecbert advised Athelstan that he was making the wrong decision in going with Ragnar because his future lies here in Wessex? Hmmm now, what could he mean by this comment?  Yes, of course we know that he is quite fond of Ahelstan and wants him to stay but I have a feeling that Ecbert may have been eluding to something else with this statement…

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan's decision

Speaking of private conversation and Athelstan… He did have a few other private- or so he thought- discussions during the party.  One of those conversations was with Judith. Now, let me just say that both Athelstan and Judith are novices when it comes to keeping affairs secret.  They had what they thought was a private meeting in the hall… Really, you two- how many times have I advised that there is no such thing as privacy here! If you are going to carry on these illicit affairs, you need to learn discretion! And, Judith- crying, begging and carrying on in public is generally frowned upon as highly inappropriate! You have already made a mess of things, as your Father says, Pull yourself together and quit making a scene! Judith was panic stricken at the thought of Athelstan leaving her.

I gave myself to you please don't leave me

Athelstan had another discussion with Ragnar, asking for his advice on women, and what he should do.

Nobody understands  We're all free to do as we choose Are we still talking about women  we're not are we

 

I must admit that despite my reluctance to attend this function, I did enjoy my time spent wandering around and eavesdropping on everyone. Maybe I could employ myself as a an early version of tabloid reporter? I was however, getting a bit tired and wondering when the entertainment portion would begin? It seemed that they were saving that for the end of the evening…

During the long wait for this entertainment, there were some minor family squabbles, besides those of Judith and her Father.  Ragnar and Lagertha had a few words with each other over her involvement with King Ecbert.  It did not amount to much though as Ragnar really had no leg to stand on with his annoyed accusations of her “sacrifices for the common good!” Lagertha was quick to point this out. She admitted that yes, she did get on well with Ecbert for the sake of all of us. Ragnar made comment that she had sacrificed herself for the common good an she reminded him that he has done the same!

yes we did get on well for the sake of all of us

yes we did get on well for the sake of all of us

mmmm as did you  many times

mmmm as did you many times

Yes as did you Ragnar so shut your face2

Later there was a conversation between Lagertha and Rollo…

Oh Lagertha in some things you are so wise  in others you are so naive  Rollo states the obvious All men are ambitious2

Oh Lagertha in some things you are so wise in others you are so naive Rollo states the obvious All men are ambitious2

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

Of course Lagertha had no idea what her “loyal” friend Kalf was up to in Hedeby… What was Kalf up to in Hedeby?

No not kalf he is ever faithful and loyal to me

No not kalf he is ever faithful and loyal to me

Well, he was enjoying the benefits of his new Earldom… and he was making new friends out of Lothbrok enemies- all in preparation for Lagertha’s return home. Kalf has invited a guest.  Yes, that would be the son of King Horik, the one that Ragnar could not bring himself to kill. Big mistake there Ragnar- Siggy once pointed out that it is the usual and common practice for a new Earl or ruler to make sure there are no remaining survivors to question or rebel against the new regime! King Horik’s son has grown up and is seeking some retribution… he has also brought along another survivor, his new wife, Torvi!  Torvi is the widow of one Jarl Borg, yeah- that one, the one who Ragnar chose to execute via blood eagle. 

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

meet my wife Torvi

Torvi has a bonus gift… she has the son and heir of the once great Jarl Borg?  I suppose this would be a situation enemies banding together for the mutual and common purpose of retaliating against the enemy of all of them.  The problem with this situation is that it just does not bode well for baby Borg’s future… I can understand Torvi’s need for some protection and needing a new baby Daddy, but this innocent little baby poses a threat in the long run? When it comes right down to the basics, Erlandr wants his Father’s rightful crown and title back, and he is not going to want Jarl Borg’s offspring around feeling entitled to anything!

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

Jarl Borg's heir apparant

Jarl Borg’s heir apparent

This is what Lagertha has to look forward to on her return to Hedeby!

 

Ok, I am getting really tired of the waiting, it’s getting way too hot in the hall so a walk outside for some fresh air is in order… and what do I find but one other family type squabble going on? I say family type because Floki is like a part of the family. Floki chose not to join in all of the festivities but rather spent time outside pouting and thinking of ways to get back at all these Christ lovers who would be the end of life as we know it?

Floki what are you doing out here

Floki what are you doing out here

I came to talk to the gods  they are angry rollo

I came to talk to the gods they are angry rollo

I hate to say this but floki’s ranting is starting get a bit tiresome. We all understand his feelings and his concerns, but really he is getting to the point where he is just as annoying as are the Christian Priests in their ranting about Heathens!

Ohhh not this again Floki just give it up

Floki’s preaching of the Gods and their anger is wearing thin on all of us!

really floki a spit is all you can respond with now you resort to making faces

really floki a spit is all you can respond with now you resort to making faces

 

Finally, just when I was about to give up on any planned entertainment, Ecbert called everyone into the great hall for a special announcement? Have you ever been to a party or event and felt like everyone else but you knew what was going on? Well, that is how I felt about this final event. As I looked around, some people were watching with great expectation that something was about to happen?

we all watched the final act of the feast

we all watched the final act of the feast

It started out nicely enough with Kwentirith and her brother being given seats of honor in front of everyone. They made their little speeches of gratitude and appreciation… Kwentirith as usual, went overboard with her speech, going on and on about how she had learned to forgive the abuses and injustices in her life?

let us celebrate and drink to victory over my abusers

let us celebrate and drink to victory over my abusers

My dear sister you have saved me (that's what you think)

My dear sister you have saved me (that’s what you think)

Birghrid went on and on as well in gushing over his love for his sister… This was just way too uncomfortable to watch!

I've loved you I've always loved you

I’ve loved you I’ve always loved you

I am not the only one who was disgusted and uncomfortable with their displays of affection and their lengthy speeches!

Just drink the damned wine already

Just drink the damned wine already

rollo knows

rollo knows

ecbert watches and thinks ohhh that is so disgusting so wrong in so many ways what a pathetic man he is

ecbert watches and thinks ohhh that is so disgusting so wrong in so many ways what a pathetic man he is

And, Finally the planned entertainment portion of the evening takes place!

kwentirith's moving speech about coming to terms with her past her family and now at last I am finally free

kwentirith’s moving speech about coming to terms with her past her family and now at last I am finally free

Kwentirith gives a sneaky smile as she offers her brother a drink

Kwentirith gives a sneaky smile as she offers her brother a drink

kwentirith fakes it a bit longer and birghrid looks out at everyone like you all knew

A one act realistic theatrical performance of “Death by Wine” starring Princess Kwentirith and brother Birghrid.  Initial reactions to the performance varied from King Aelle’s delight, Ecbert’s impatience, Ragnar’s waiting for more, to poor Judith’s look of extreme discomfort…

Aelle Yes a death  I love a good death it's always the highlight of any good party2

a look over to ragnar  thank god this is almost over

a look over to ragnar thank god this is almost over

birghrid feels the poison kick in

ragnar watches and urges her to go on

ragnar watches and urges her to go on

judith's personal thought when is this going to be over I think I'm going to be sick

Ahhhh actually, it was a two act play… as if the death were not enough entertainment in itself, we were then treated to Judith’s continued theatrics? Now, to be honest, I felt her solo performance was a bit lacking. She seemed a bit nervous and shaky in her proclamation of being the sole remaining ruler of Mercia. And, I think her nerves got the best of her when she invited all to rise and drink to her. Maybe that was due to the unexpected response she got to that invitation!

are you scared Kwentirith why are you shaking do you know you're going to be next2

Rather than toasting her as new queen of Mercia, there was a pause for some thought and debate amongst the guests before they showed her how they really felt.

Yeah and if you think we're drinking any more of this wine you are sadly mistaken2 Well so much for this party2 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

Toast her  raise our cups to her  no we don't think so

Toast her raise our cups to her no we don’t think so

yeah what ever to the queen2

I don’t know, I could be wrong as I have not attended a great many of these events in early England, but I don’t think that throwing your cups at the new ruler is necessarily a sign of respect?  I certainly do understand the reaction of pouring one’s wine out after witnessing someone spew blood from drinking it. For those of us who were not privy to exactly what was going to happen, yes that was definitely our first instinct. I am reasonably sure though that a number of people in the room knew exactly what was going to happen and just dumped their wine out as way of covering their involvement in the act.  I believe too that Princess Kwentirith just got played Royally and suddenly realized it when she looked around the room and then saw the cups flying towards her!  For all realistic purposes, she appears to be the  guilty party in this act… no matter what happens next, she will be looked on with suspicion forever more. It should be quite simple now for King Ecbert to sway people to thinking that she is guilty of poisoning her brother?

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!

So, let us ask one more time the question of  Are you corrupt?

Now what the hell do we do with her2 Are you corrupt  Why yes we are

In the case of Kwentirith, well yes she’s showed that she is corrupt as well as bat shit crazy, but she is also gullible if she believes that these men really have her best interests at heart, if she thinks that anyone is going to let her rule…  I am just looking forward to seeing how Ecbert deals with this situation? I am pretty sure that Kwenitrith is not going to be staying in Wessex or Mercia for very long? I’ve heard historical rumors that she may seek refuge in Francia and then be banished even from that court!

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

Am I corrupt  Why yes I am kwentirith

Am I corrupt Why yes I am kwentirith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Scarred: Kewntirith’s cure

 

 

First of all, I must share that I am still in much emotional turmoil and distress over the events in Kattegat. It is going to take me a few days to process what happened there and deal with the loss of my friend Siggy. I am sure that you will all understand my grief and allow me to take some time to mourn her properly. My heart is hurting right now but in a few days, I will be able to giver her honor and tribute as she so well deserves.

For tonight, I need some diversion from that heart ache… and what better diversion is there than spending a few moments with the ever bizarre Princess Kwentirith!  She is one of those disgusting and nasty people that we revile but for some reason want to know more about? She is the despicable scandalous celebrity of the time and her antics always draw attention. Her most recent stunt was no exception. The ever popular question of the week being, Did she just do what we think she did? So, in answer to that question, Yes, she did indeed piss all over Ragnar!

In the recent battle, Ragnar received a nasty slash to his abdomen while trying to assist a shieldmaiden in the fight…the shieldmaiden went down and Ragnar nearly did as well.

another shield maiden remains standing ragnar can do nothing for her but has to save himself the spear just misses him

After the battle, Ragnar found some private space to deal with the pain of his wound.

ragnar in pain from his own injury

ragnar in pain from his own injury

ragnar's battle wound

ragnar’s battle wound

Kwentirith found him alone on the river bank… She seemed genuinely concerned about his wound and offered to help. His response was one of, What can you do…

kwentirith  I see you are still suffering I can make it better

kwentirith I see you are still suffering I can make it better

how can you make it better some magic

 

kwentirith prepares to offer her cure

kwentirith prepares to offer her cure

up with the skirts   no it's not what you think1

Ragnar’s reaction…much like our own was one of  WTF are you doing? Here silent response was of Don’t worry, it won’t kill you… it might even cure you?

ragnar's reaction just WTF are you doing don't worry it won't kill you

whoa ummm you can stop now I think I do not need this cure a bit difficult to measure the correct dosage1

A rather crude and messy delivery but for the most part a  highly effective treatment!

There all done a bit messy but highly effective

There all done a bit messy but highly effective

So, yes she did piss all over him, but why? Was it some other bizarre fetish of hers that we didn’t know of? Was it some form of warped depravity that we would not be surprised at coming from her?

A loss for words  what do you say after you've let someone piss on you1 I suppose I should say thank you I think1

I suppose maybe you should  You saved my kingdom for me now I have saved you we are even

I suppose maybe you should You saved my kingdom for me now I have saved you we are even

Well, no actually, Princess Kwentirith seems to be well versed in the medieval and ancient healing practices… some of which are still being considered as useful today! She pissed on him for good reason!  On looking at this event, I hate to admit it but perhaps when Torstein was suffering so much, they should have called in Kwentirith!

Urine has, in fact, had an impressive range of practical uses for much of history. A key area was medicine. In Rome, Pliny the Elder recommended fresh urine for the treatment of “sores, burns, affections of the anus, chaps and scorpion stings”, while stale urine mixed with ash could be rubbed on your baby for nappy rash. In early-modern Europe numerous medical luminaries went further. Pioneering French surgeon Ambroise Paré noted that itching eye-lids could be washed in the patient’s urine – provided that it had been kept “all night in a barber’s basin” first. The father of chemistry, Robert Boyle, advised certain patients to drink every morning “a moderate draught of their own urine”, preferably while “tis yet warm”. Anyone indignantly demanding a second opinion would find that Thomas Willis – the richest doctor in England at the time – was instructing a young gentlewoman to drink her own warm urine against “extreme sourness” in her throat.

Other cases could be far more urgent. In about 1550 the Italian doctor Leonardo Fioravanti saw a man’s nose sliced off in an argument, and promptly urinated on the fallen organ before stitching it back on. Henry VIII’s surgeon Thomas Vicary recommended that all battle wounds should be washed in urine; and others advised the same for potentially gangrenous ulcers, or poisonous bites and stings. Being sterile when it leaves the body, urine was then a far safer cleaning agent than the kind of water typically available.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/mar/10/unusual-uses-of-urine

 

As difficult as it might be for some to comprehend, the medical benefits of urine have been widely studied in many areas including, but not limited to, the effect of pee on wounds. While some holistic health practitioners use urine therapy for treating a variety of ailments and conditions, the medical community has not made many significant statements on the medical uses of urine.

Normal urine is not only pH balanced, it is non-toxic and is believed to contain many nutrients and healing compounds. As such, it would stand to reason that it could be used to help heal wounds. In fact, some research has been done to determine whether urine is capable of healing wounds, and the results indicate that it is in fact very effective.

While there is much controversy surrounding the use of pee on wounds and urine therapy as treatment for diseases, it remains a very curious concept. Some believe there has been more research than we know on the topic, but that positive study results have been suppressed because there is no monetary gain involved. Others deem this perspective as merely a complaint of conspiracy theorists.

What is known is that using pee on wounds is typically not harmful. In fact, some studies have indicated that urine is an effective treatment for severe acne when all else fails. Normal urine is both anti-viral and anti-bacterial, making it a potentially ideal treatment for cuts, abrasions, wounds, and skin infections of any kind. Proponent researchers believe that an infant’s urine is the most sterile as well as the most effective for acne treatment, and that a person’s first urine of the day contains the most nutrients and antibodies.

It’s not likely that the vast majority of people are sold on the idea of using urine as medicine, but some forms of medication, such as some estrogen replacements, are already derived from animal urine. Though the mere idea of it may not sit well with some, there is no doubt that using it on wounds would do in a pinch. Emergency situations are unexpected and if a person sustains a serious wound, cut, bite, or sting and no anti-bacterial cleansing agent is readily available, human pee could help.

While you’re not likely to encounter a situation where you’d have to make such a decision, in an emergency situation, a person could pee on a wound and could potentially prevent serious infection until further medical help could be received. This is often a common situation in the case of painful jellyfish stings sustained in remote areas where medical attention is not nearby. Similarly, drinking urine in an emergency situation could prevent dehydration.

 

 http://www.wisegeek.org/why-do-they-say-that-you-should-pee-on-wounds.htm

After regrouping from this strange medical treatment, Ragnar decided to move on to other important topics of conversations, such as warning Kwentirith of her brother’s weakness and inability to rule. This was a very serious and telling discussion… Kwentirith understands very well what Ragnar is speaking of and her face shows that she knows full well what will need to be done in the future.

so much for that  on to honest discussion of weak willed brother  he will be your downfall

so much for that on to honest discussion of weak willed brother he will be your downfall

You do understand that don't you?

You do understand that don’t you?

yes she understands  now on to next matter of business

yes she understands now on to next matter of business

Once that serious discussion was clearly understood by both of them, it was time for Ragnar to show just how low he is willing to sink in terms of his choices in women! Kwentirith hikes her skirts again, and takes Ragnar for a ride…

how is your wound  ohhh it still hurts you should make it better

how is your wound ohhh it still hurts you should make it better

 

 

Vikings, Warrior’s Fate: It’s so much more than just a bath!

Before we deal with the darker sides of the Warrior’s Fate, namely battle and it’s aftermath… I think we need a few moments of amusement, entertainment and ohhh yes, let’s do spend some time in that Roman tub with Ecbert, Lagertha, Athelstan… and a rather reluctant Judith. Let’s also catch a glimpse of  Athelstan’s well hidden finer assets…

I do want to warn and advise ahead of time that this post contains some partial nudity, minor sexual contact and explicitness. The clips are from a scene that was deleted for American viewers. I give credit to George-blagden.net for providing the deleted scene so all of us can enjoy it!  You can view the scene here:  http://george-blagden.net/post/112924714611.  I have pulled the stills out of it for our purposes and enjoyment!

In our previous discussion, we talked of  Ecbert, his games of strategy and his pawns in this power game. I did mention that Lagertha could be a possible pawn, but one that he would be loathe to give up or sacrifice. I do not think Lagertha is so much of a pawn in his overall game of power but that remains to be seen? Lagertha is a strong independent woman with her own vision, her own desires and her own agenda. I think that she is probably fully aware and understanding of this game between them. This is a more personal and private game for both of them. I think that Lagertha knows very well what benefits or advantages an affair with Ecbert can provide for her and her settlement.  Ecbert desires her, but knows that this liason is not one that will necessarily give him advantage in the overall bigger picture. I could be wrong, but for now I think this is a case of Ecbert and Lagertha indulging themselves in a mutually satisfying and benefitial situation for both of them!  Lagertha deserves some pleasure and if  Ecbert can provide that, then I say, Go for it Lagertha!

Ecbert has already admitted that he is infatuated and rather besotted with Lagertha. Lagertha is flattered by his attentions and appreciative of his various gifts. These two understand each other, they are both intelligent and curious people and they enjoy the company of each other. I think perhaps that Lagertha sees the side of Ecbert that reminds her of Ragnar as he used to be?

With Lagertha, Ecbert can let his guard down a little, show his more likeable side. He wants her, he is fairly open about this desire and is not attempting to hide it. Why should he hide it… sometimes, it’s good to be King!  He pays another visit with another gift.

ecbert pays another visit and brings another gift

ecbert pays another visit and brings another gift

Lagertha  smugly showed him that she is quite adept in his language.

a smug lagertha shows her language skill Yes I know more now than I already knew

a smug lagertha shows her language skill Yes I know more now than I already knew

So you speak our language.   Of course I do you foolish man!

So you speak our language. Of course I do you foolish man!

A conversation and explanation of his gift of the plow turns to one of sexual innuendo, which both he and Lagertha understand!

I've brought you something a new plow that goes deeper than others

There is yet another invitation to his villa, which Lagertha happily agrees to!

By this visit, both Ecbert and Lagertha have a good idea of where this “friendship” is going? Lagertha is an intelligent woman, she know exactly where Ecbert’s thoughts and desires are going. She is a willing participant in this affair.  Ecbert takes his group of Lagertha, Athelstan and Judith on a tour of his most favorite and treasured space in his home. Now, both Judith and Athelstan know of this room, so this tour was set up specifically for Lagertha’s benefit. Why he chose to include Athelstan and Judith in this tour and the eventual enjoyment of his tub is a little puzzling. It’s almost as though he was testing them both on something? Athelstan is nonchalant and acts as though it makes no difference to him. Judith is uncomfortable with all of it but does go along with the invitation. This goes against all of Judith’s well engrained principles and values but she participates…

Lagertha is awestruck by the place and ever curious about those Romans who built this place.

ecbert's roman bath

ecbert’s roman bath

lagertha is awestruck

lagertha is awestruck

let us talk about the romans

There is some discussion about those Roman Gods and how they were like Lagertha’s Gods… to which she insisted, No they were not!

No she is not like my gods my gods are alive

No she is not like my gods my gods are alive

my gods are as real as you and me

my gods are as real as you and me

She was intrigued and excited about the bath while Judith gave a hesitant description of how the Romans used the baths.

Judith explains the Roman bath is this really a bath it's so big

Ecbert issues his invitation to join him in the bath… Judith is understandably uncomfortable with this suggestion. The underlying question is why does she agree to this in the first place? Has Ecbert put her up to it… has someone else? Why did she not just make excuse and remove herself from this activity? Was it her curiosity and her underlying fascination with Athelstan that moved her to be brave enough to consider this? Was it Lagertha’s more easy acceptance and joy of life that spurred Judith in some way to find enough courage to attempt indulging in this shameful activity? What ever the reason, Judith did manage to get herself in the tub with everyone, though it became obvious that she was not enjoying herself!

judith gulps at ecbert's suggestion for them to join him

judith gulps at ecbert’s suggestion for them to join him

so, with slaves/servants in attendance and trying not to watch, the group enjoyed a soak in the Roman tub. Lagertha and Ecbert settled in together quickly and had no inhibitions or reservations about public displays of affection!

lagertha and ecbert are getting quite relaxed with each other

lagertha and ecbert are getting quite relaxed with each other

After a few drinks, a relaxed conversation about the old Roman city of Paris…Such a beautiful place as you have never seen before!

Such a city Paris is

Such a city Paris is

go on tell me more about this paris

go on tell me more about this paris

Lagertha is ever the curious one about other cultures and ideas. She wants to know more about this city, Paris… Ecbert and Athelstan fill her in on the wonders of this place. She mentions how she would love to see it and asks how far it is? Hmmmm is this a plan of Ecbert’s… she will be so curious and glowing about this land, will tell Ragnar all about it and perhaps Ragnar will be so curious too, that he will head off to Paris and be out of Ecbert’s hair for a while? Not Ecbert has anything against Ragnar yet, but I am sure he is always thinking of the future? It’s just not wise to keep a man as equally powerful and motivated around for too long… he may get ideas of seeking more power here and surely Ecbert would prefer him to look elsewhere for that power and riches.

Judith is trying to relax and enjoy this experience… the one enjoyable part of it is that Athelstan is here. She cautiously sneaks a glimpse over at him and her returns the look…

a quick sneak peek over at Athelstan

a quick sneak peek over at Athelstan

athelstan returns the sneak peek

athelstan returns the sneak peek

Then as if on cue, Athelstan goes into his own wonderous description of Paris…

Athelstan describes paris

Athelstan describes paris

Judith’s mind wanders to some other thoughts during this discussion… perhaps she’s more interested in the here and now, and what the rest of Athelstan looks like? Maybe she is enjoying for a few moments the experience of being a bit of voyeur in glimpsing what Lagertha and Ecbert are indulging in?

Paris  who cares about Paris!

Paris who cares about Paris!

ohhh is this water getting warm it's so warm in here I have to leave I can't do this

The moment does not last however, and Judith quickly snaps back to reality when Athelstan moves closer to her…

Ummm too close too close

Ummm too close too close

judith's thought omg maybe if I drink enough this will be easier!

judith’s thought omg maybe if I drink enough this will be easier!

the booze isn't helping well maybe just another sip

the booze isn’t helping well maybe just another sip

What is it  This is wrong this is just so wrong

What is it This is wrong this is just so wrong

thoughts in judith's head  no no no euwwwww I can't watch this

thoughts in judith’s head no no no euwwwww I can’t watch this

Ohhh ummm this is sooo wrong

Ohhh ummm this is sooo wrong

Ultimately, Judith’s good Christian upbringing over rides any enjoyment she might have found in this activity and she hastily flees… Athelstan may have tried to catch a glimpse of her escaping the tube, but she was just too quick! Her shame and embarrassment kicked in and she threw a towel around herself faster than I’ve ever seen anyone move!

a quick stare at Judith getting out of the tub judith makes her escape

Judith fled the scene but Athelstan attempted to remain for a bit longer… even though it must have been extremely uncomfortable to be put in this third wheel situation again?

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

Ecbert watches Judith leave and I am quite sure his thoughts were, “It’s about time! I didn’t think she would even get in, let alone stay?” “That’s it Judith, now run along and be sure to take Athelstan with you”

ecbert's thought it's about time I didn't think she would even get in let alone stay now be sure to take athelstan with you

ecbert’s thought it’s about time I didn’t think she would even get in let alone stay now be sure to take athelstan with you

A few well placed nods and some ignoring of his presence… Athelstan gets the hint that this has become a very private party and unless he wants to show that he has truly become a pagan, or he wants lessons, he should probably leave now?

Uhhh Athelstan it's time for you to leave as well unless you want lessons?

Uhhh Athelstan it’s time for you to leave as well unless you want lessons?

Athelstan makes a much calmer and casual escape… which I am sure that everyone, namely those slaves in the background, enjoyed! Too bad Judith left first, she missed her chance to get a good view of Athelstan!

Athelstan's not quite so shy as the lady judith athelstan's bum

Ahhhh poor Judith… the entire experience proved too much for her and Athelstan found her crying in the hall. Judith is young and trying so hard to fit in, to be the good wife, the good Christian.  It might have been easier for her if she had some good role model to guide her in this place? Many other young women in her position would have had some older Noblewoman to watch over her and help her learn the ropes of being such a Noble wife? I can not say Queen… because someone else in the real history of this time had ruined that option? (That would be the real life counterpart of Kwentirith… Queen Edburh made such a mess of things by “accidently” poisoning her husband that no woman was allowed to be called Queen after her!) Ohhh and hmmmmm? There does seem to be mention of some poisoning in the next chapter?

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

Anyway, back to Judith’s plight right now… she does not have one to look to for advice. Ecbert has no wife, and the only other Noble or Royal woman around is in fact Kwentirith. Judith may be young and naïve but she is smart enough to know that Kwentirith is not one that she should look to as a role model!  So, Judith must find her own way in this maze of powerful men who control her life. She is having a difficult time of it.  Athelstan’s arrival and his outlook on religion are making it even more difficult for her. This whole new world of Pagan culture and beliefs is causing her to wonder and to doubt her own beliefs. Of course it could also be that she is just an overly tired new Mother with a slight case of post partum depression… What ever the case, I believe she was truly suffering from deep remorse and guilt over her sinful and shameful lust filled thoughts this night.

I'm sorry.   What for I'm the one that's a prude...

I’m sorry. What for I’m the one that’s a prude…

Athelstan did his best to comfort her in her distress but it didn’t really help much! God bless him for trying though…

judith admits her tiredness of trying to be good Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

Meanwhile, Lagertha with her Pagan beliefs and her better understanding of the world… and men, suffered no such pangs of guilt or remorse. No, Lagertha, free woman and embodiment of the Goddess that  Ecbert seems to see her as, took full pleasure and equal enjoyment this night!

lagertha enjoys the ride

lagertha enjoys the ride

it's good to be a free woman!

it’s good to be a free woman!

finally a bath and some mutual satisfaction

finally a bath and some mutual satisfaction

Lagertha, the Free Woman, the Pagan Goddes come to life, is nobody’s pawn!

Lagertha the free woman the pagan goddes nobody's pawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Warrior’s fate is sacrifice

 

 

The title for this week’s chapter of our tale was labeled as Warrior’s Fate. I would suggest that sacrifice much better describes the events. Sacrifice in so many layers and on so many levels.  From the sacrifice that a dying warrior makes to save his companions, from obvious religious ritual sacrifices, from unintended and pointless sacrifices, to strategic sacrifices made in compromise… to other less apparent or deeper layers of sacrifice.

Sacrifice is the offering of food, objects or the lives of animals to a higher purpose, in particular divine beings, as an act of propitiation or worship. While sacrifice often implies ritual killing, the term offering (Latin oblatio) can be used for bloodless sacrifices of cereal food or artifacts. For offerings of liquids (beverages) by pouring, the term libation is used. 

The Latin term came to be used of the Christian eucharist in particular, sometimes named a “bloodless sacrifice” to distinguish it from blood sacrifices. In individual pre-Christian ethnic religions, terms translated as “sacrifice” include the Indic yajna, the Greek thusia, the Germanic blōtan, the Semitic qorban/qurban, etc.

The term is also used metaphorically to describe selfless good deeds for others or a short term loss in return for a greater power gain, such as in a game of chess. Recently it has also come into use as meaning ‘doing without something’ or ‘giving something up’ (see also self-sacrifice).

torstein makes his solitary climb to his last battle odin I am coming I come I come in battle bessie's a little worried this can't be good for my milk bathed in blood2 two dead boys caught in his net

 

Before we look at those most obvious of sacrifices, such as Torstein’s final sacrifice of life to save that of his friends,  the ritual harvest sacrifice made by the Danes, or the possible sacrifice of two innocent boys to save another child, let us look at the less obvious ones…

First there is the strategic compromise sacrifice that come in the power plays for control… King Ecbert must make certain sacrifices of men, women, land in order to pursue his bigger picture, his ultimate goal of gaining Mercia and other places. To gain this control he must carefully weigh his options and decide what if anything he would be willing to sacrifice to win the power game. This type of winner take all game includes very real, very human type pawns collected over the duration of the game. Everyone under his rule could feasibly be considered as pawns in the game. This would include everyone from his Noblemen, his mercenaries such as Ragnar’s group, his family- such as his daughter in law, Judith, to ones such as Kwentirith and her brother, and finally even Lagertha and Athelstan.  The only person possibly exempt from the pawn status might be his son, Aethelwulf because of course Aethelwulf would be expected to continue the game for dominance upon Ecbert’s death.  This game is one of strategic thinking and balance.  What pawns and pieces can you collect along the way and use to your advantage in the future? If you over extend yourself and upset the balance too soon or too often, you take risk of losing control.  Ecbert is in such a position right now. All of his desires and wishes must be balanced in consideration of the overall game. Just because he is King does not mean that he can give into all of his lesser desires…

Ecbert  has placed himself in a rather difficult position with his recent decision to use Ragnar and his group of Pagan warriors. His Noblemen, his knights and the Christian Church, all of whom he must count on for support to keep his crown stable on his head, are not in favor of these Heathenish Pagans living in their midst and corrupting their souls.

ecbert's men speaking behind his back   What do you think I'm deaf

ecbert’s men speaking behind his back What do you think I’m deaf

please do me the honor of speaking to my face

tell me now if you dare that I do not deserve to be your ruler

tell me now if you dare that I do not deserve to be your ruler

because they are fighting beside us to gain the throne of mercia for that puppet of ours Kwentirith

because they are fighting beside us to gain the throne of mercia for that puppet of ours Kwentirith

 

besides who knows how the settlement will fare in the future

besides who knows how the settlement will fare in the future

speak now tell me I've chosen the wrong path tell me I should not be your king

Ecbert gets silence in return

Ecbert gets silence in return

I will remember your doubt and your questioning of my authority

Ecbert considers Kwentirith and her brother disposable pawns in the game… One could assume that his plan is for the brother to not survive this battle and for Kwentirith to be the last remaining candidate? My thought is that the Mercians would consider her rule so offensive that they would happily accept Ecbert’s rule instead. But, no matter what the outcome, he intends to win Mercia for himself and not some puppet. The sacrifice of Kwentirith or her brother would be no great loss for him in return for such great reward.

Ragnar and his men, in Ecbert’s eyes are pawns as well. If he must sacrifice them, he might feel some remorse but he will sacrifice them if he needs to. Right now they are a valuable asset to him and his fighting forces, but should anything happen to change this status, he will do what he needs to in order to keep the balance of power on his side. If, say Ragnar should forget who is in control of this land, if he should overstep his role as mercenary, Ecbert would have no choice but to remove the threat.

The other pawns within Ecbert’s hold and grasp right now are of course, Lagertha, Athelstan and the Lady Judith.  Athelstan, and I believe, Lagertha as well are so dear and valuable to him personally that it would cause him great difficulty should he have to part with them? He looks on these two as more than pawns, but when it comes down to a win or lose situation for his kingdom, I think that with immense regret he would indeed sacrifice them. The Lady Judith… well, she is a different situation. We will discuss her later.

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

Stones are much easier to wear than earth

 

Another type of sacrifice portrayed this week was that of careless, unintended and  pointless sacrifice. This unintentional sacrifice and Warrior’s fate comes from Porunn’s and Bjorn’s actions. I mention Bjorn’s role in this event because he does bear some responsibility. Bjorn was willing to sacrifice his own personal feelings of manhood and protector for Porunn’s happiness. In the end, Porunn’s need for independence and her refusal to take appropriate caution for her unborn child and herself may very well result in her sacrificing the life of that child and her own life.  If she lives, she will carry with her forever the knowledge that she would sacrifice her child’s life for her own desires. For all realitstic purposes, she was not ready for this battle and should not have been there. Bjorn will pay a heavy price in guilt over allowing her to come.

preparing for battle 2 porunn's fight hand to hand face to face porunn takes deadly blow porunn recieves a slash to her face porunn knocked to the ground last blows to porunn bjorn crawls to her lifeless body is she still alvie yes for nowporunn lives but for how long and in what condition

 

Floki talks of other pointless and senseless sacrifice… that which you make for something that you do not even believe in. The discussion or argument was over their involvement in the battle but it turned to a deeper difference of beliefs and opinions. It became more of an underlying thought on what or how much you are willing to sacrifice for friendship? Are you willing to sacrifice your personal beliefs for the long held friendship of one who’s views are changing. Floki is struggling with this question in his heart and will soon have to make a decision. Will he sacrifice his religion and his beliefs to remain with Ragnar on this journey, this battle that he does not believe in or approve of, or will he make the choice to  sacrifice of his friendship with Ragnar in order to be at peace with himself in his beliefs?

look look around you at all of our dead

look look around you at all of our dead

how many more of us must die  have you already in your heart renounced our gods

how many more of us must die have you already in your heart renounced our gods

all of those we have sacrificed for your jesus

all of those we have sacrificed for your jesus

This is not about you Floki or me it is about our children their children our people's future

This is not about you Floki or me it is about our children their children our people’s future

we're all fated to die sometime and you made the choice to fight here

we’re all fated to die sometime and you made the choice to fight here

 

my heart hurts as much as anyone for torstein but I am sure I will meet him again soon and in the mean time floki shut your face

my heart hurts as much as anyone for torstein but I am sure I will meet him again soon and in the mean time floki shut your face

I will address the more obvious types of sacrifice later in the context of their particular circumstances. For now, I want to deal with one last sacrifice. This is perhaps the least obvious, and most difficult to understand in terms of sacrifice.  To me though, it causes more thought and as much or more heartache than any of the others. This sacrifice could be considered in terms of the phrase, Sacrificial lamb.

The lady Judith represents this sacrifice and in her heart she knows it. In order to understand her role as sacrificial lamb, one needs to needs to realize that these early Noblewomen were most valued for their worth as a marriage, trading or alliance commodity and their ability to produce healthy heirs. From the moment of her birth to King Aelle and his wife, she was most likely viewed in terms of this worth.

Aelle and his lovely wife

judith with her fathe Aille Judith_Wedding vikings

In those times, there was a term to describe her role in marriage… she was referred to as a peace cow. She was considered property to be traded much as a cow, and it was her role and duty to enter into a marriage arranged by her Lord/Father in order to keep peace between lands. Now, this being her role, she became a valuable asset and commodity to both her own family and the family that “bought” her. Judith understood her role well and for the most part seems to have accepted it, though not without heavy heart.  She is obedient and subservient to her Lords and usually attempts to comply with their wishes and desires. Fortunately for her, she proved quickly that she could breed healthy male heirs. This raised her value and her worth but did little for her peace of mind or her happiness.

aethelwulf watching the arrival aethelwulf2

She is also fortunate in the respect that her husband is young, fairly good looking and in line to be King… She should be happy, many women do not fare nearly so well! She also seems well treated and well liked by her husband and his family, namely King Ecbert.  Realistically, in her situation, things could have been far worse for her! The fact remains however, that no matter how comfortable her environment and her treatment, she is still property, a possession to be used, or traded in should need arise. This does not escape Judith. Her only saving grace or peace is found within her religion and lately even that is failing her.

Now, while King Ecbert does seem to like and trust her… he is most probably not above using her as a pawn to his advantage if he should ever have to? Right now, she brings a peaceful alliance between Northumbria and Wessex. But, in Ecbert’s power play games, he wants more than just peaceful alliance… at some point he will want control of Northumbria in the future and Judith will be his key to achieving it in one way or another. In her heart, Judith probably realizes this and takes great care to keep always on Ecbert’s good side. If she were to do anything even indavertantly to bring shame upon herself  and consequently, the kingdom of her Father, Ecbert could justifiably use such event to break the peace and wage war against Northumbria… He did warn her earlier that she was playing a dangerous game in her fascination with the Priest, Athelstan?

 in 829, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Egbert received the submission of the Northumbrians at Dore (now a suburb of Sheffield); the Northumbrian king was probably Eanred.  According to a later chronicler, Roger of Wendover, Egbert invaded Northumbria and plundered it before Eanred submitted: “When Egbert had obtained all the southern kingdoms, he led a large army into Northumbria, and laid waste that province with severe pillaging, and made King Eanred pay tribute.” Roger of Wendover is known to have incorporated Northumbrian annals into his version; the Chronicle does not mention these events.  However, the nature of Eanred’s submission has been questioned: one historian has suggested that it is more likely that the meeting at Dore represented a mutual recognition of sovereignty.

In 830 Egbert led a successful expedition against the Welsh, almost certainly with the intent of extending West Saxon influence into the Welsh lands previously within the Mercian orbit. This marked the high point of Egbert’s influence.

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

 

judith plays a dangerous game

judith plays a dangerous game

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

It is one thing for a King to indulge himself in desires and affairs of the heart, that is expected and generally accepted. It is a completely different matter for a noble born, married princess to indulge or even think of such sins!

Judith tries hard to keep a smiling and happy countenance about her but she is wavering, she is torn and as she states, “I am tired, I am so very tired”  It is my belief that she is certainly not speaking in just the physical sense. No, she is tired of all of it….

judith admits her tiredness of trying to be good

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

She finds comfort in Athelstan’s words and I do think that even though she may be fearful of the Pagan beliefs, she finds courage and strength in Lagertha? In Lagertha, she sees a strong, independent woman who is everything that she, Judith is not but would like to be.

lagertha the goddess

lagertha the goddess

 

 

Vikings Wanderer: Other Strangeness!

 

 

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

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

Mushrooms as food of Gods

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

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

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

floki gets his head

here is uncle Britwulf

here is uncle Britwulf

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

Kwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

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

Aethelwulf and his priest look on in shock

Aethelwulf and his priest look on in shock

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

rollo offers mushrooms as relief

rollo offers mushrooms as relief

passing the shrooms

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

I wonder how many shrooms are too many shrooms

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

What's that moving over there in the woods

What’s that moving over there in the woods

I must fix this now

I must fix this now

what is wrong with these barbarians

I see dead people  I see dead people moving

I see dead people I see dead people moving

There now I see dead people

There now I see dead people

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

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

Ohhh oooops I guess I do not see dead people?

Ohhh oooops I guess I do not see dead people?

that dead man is yelling at me  I must yell back

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

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

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

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

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

Ummm not so fast  the witch come out in her

Ummm not so fast the witch come out in her

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

Shared Dreaming- does it exist?

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

nightmare in kattegat

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

the women left behind share a dream

speaking of the dream

speaking of the dream

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

where are you ancient one

looking for the seer

looking for the seer

seeing the death of the seer

seeing the death of the seer

nightmare in kattegat

was it just a dream?

was it just a dream?

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

so much blood it was everywhere

so much blood it was everywhere

sharing the nightmare

sharing the nightmare

it was only a dream

it was only a dream

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

wanderer coming through the mist

wanderer coming through the mist

wanderer comes out of the mist

wanderer comes out of the mist

the wanderer

helga sees him coming

helga sees him coming

blood in the snow

blood in the snow

wanderer's hand dripping with blood

wanderer’s hand dripping with blood

the wanderer arrives dripping blood and holding flaming snow

the wanderer arrives dripping blood and holding flaming snow

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

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

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

Athelstan the bridge between two worlds

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

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

crucifiction of Athelstan crucifiction of Athelstan2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Athelstan's hands dripping in blood

Stigmata:

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

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

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

 

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

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

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

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

the woman prays along until the man stops her

the woman prays along until the man stops her

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

lagertha sees Athelstan come in

lagertha sees Athelstan come in

athelstan's hands are covered in blood

athelstan’s hands are covered in blood

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

lagertha shows fear at Athelstan's condition

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

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

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

The suffering of Athelstan