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Catching up with Wessex… and Judith

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

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

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

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

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

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

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

his name is Alfred He shall be great

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

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

Alfred was born in the village of Wanating, now Wantage, Oxfordshire. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf of Wessex, by his first wife, Osburh.  In 853, at the age of four, Alfred is said to have been sent to Rome where, according to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle,  he was confirmed by Pope Leo IV who “anointed him as king”. Victorian writers later interpreted this as an anticipatory coronation in preparation for his ultimate succession to the throne of Wessex. However, his succession could not have been foreseen at the time, as Alfred had three living elder brothers. A letter of Leo IV shows that Alfred was made a “consul“; a misinterpretation of this investiture, deliberate or accidental, could explain later confusion.  It may also be based on Alfred’s later having accompanied his father on a pilgrimage to Rome where he spent some time at the court of Charles the Bald, King of the Franks, around 854–855.

On their return from Rome in 856, Æthelwulf was deposed by his son Æthelbald. With civil war looming, the magnates of the realm met in council to hammer out a compromise. Æthelbald would retain the western shires (i.e., traditional Wessex), and Æthelwulf would rule in the east. When King Æthelwulf died in 858, Wessex was ruled by three of Alfred’s brothers in succession, Æthelbald, Æthelberht and Æthelred.

Bishop Asser tells the story of how as a child Alfred won a prize of a volume of poetry in Saxon, offered by his mother to the first of her children able to memorize it.  Legend also has it that the young Alfred spent time in Ireland seeking healing. Alfred was troubled by health problems throughout his life. It is thought that he may have suffered from Crohn’s disease. Statues of Alfred in Winchester and Wantage portray him as a great warrior. Evidence suggests he was not physically strong, and though not lacking in courage, he was noted more for his intellect than a warlike character.

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

 

ecbert: what are Judith's feelings towards her father

ecbert: what are Judith’s feelings towards her father

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of judith

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of Judith

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

 

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

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

Judith reassures him that Both sons are well

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

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

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

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

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

judith knows where he's headed with this recompense

judith knows where he’s headed with this recompense

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

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

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

 

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

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

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over judith

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over Judith

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of athelstan

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of Athelstan

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

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith is called to Ecbert's chambers

judith is called to Ecbert’s chambers

Judith accepts her fate and meets Ecbert in his private chamber

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep Dad has done it again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

great hall of Wessex

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

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

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

Judith is scoping out this situation now between Ecbert and Aethelwulf

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

 

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

judith holds her own in this game of power

 

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

 

Athelred and Alfred Judith's son in season 4 vikings

Athelred and Alfred Judith’s son in season 4 Vikings

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

ecbert

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

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Floki's punishment begins.

Floki’s punishment begins.

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to Floki, you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

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

floki suffers an even worse punishment

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

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

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

a game of what if2

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

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

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

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

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

Let me present my son Prince Magnus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rollo watches floki leave and tries to figure his friend out

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

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar's thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a tearful gisla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Kingdom update!

Last Kingdom official artwork

For all of the fans and followers of Bernard Cornwell’s Warrior Chronicles series, our long wait is almost over! Last Kingdom now has an official air date- Saturday Oct. 10, 10/9c. Coincidently, this air date very closely coincides with the release of the next book in the series. That book, Warriors of the Storm has an official release date of Oct. 8. I did mention previously that I thought this book release date might be tied into the airing of the show.

Warriors of the Storm by bernard cornwell

I know I have posted the upcoming book preview before, but I am posting it again just to refresh our memory!

The new novel in Bernard Cornwell’s number one bestselling series The Warrior Chronicles, on the making of England and the fate of his great hero, Uhtred of Bebbanburg.

A fragile peace governs the kingdoms of Wessex, East Anglia, under the rule of the late King Alfred’s son, King Edward, and Mercia, under his daughter Aethelflaed.

Uhtred, her formidable champion and greatest warrior, controls the northern parts from the strongly fortified city of Chester. But no one can prepare them for the storm that is about to descend…

The Northmen, allied to the Irish, come in force under the cover of night, up the Mersey, perhaps to attack Chester, perhaps to rage and pillage through Mercia, perhaps to take the troubled kingdom of Northumbria. They are led by the terrifying Viking warrior, Ragnall Iverson, a fierce fighter and ruthless leader.

He and his army are formidable enough but worse still, his brother is married to Uhtred’s daughter. With his passionate determination, Uhtred will stop at nothing to take back his corner of Northumbria and secure the future of Bebbanburg. But for Aethelflaed and the Mercians, doubt must arise to where his loyalty lies.

In the struggle between family and loyalty, between oaths given and political demands, there is no easy solution. And the clash between the Vikings and the Saxons will resound across the land.

Here is the official show information as posted on BBC America.

The Last Kingdom premieres Saturday, October 10 at 10/9c. The Last Kingdom is a contemporary story of redemption, vengeance and self-discovery set against the birth of England.

This historical drama comes from BBC America, BBC Two and the Golden Globe® and Emmy® award-winning producers of Downton Abbey, Carnival Films. The series is an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s best-selling series of books “The Saxon Stories”, by BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning writer Stephen Butchard.

Alexander Dreymon (American Horror Story, Blood Ransom) heads up the cast, which also includes Rutger Hauer (True Blood, Blade Runner), David Dawson (Ripper Street, Road to Coronation Street), Emily Cox (The Silent Mountain, Circle of Life), Matthew Macfadyen (Anna Karenina, MI-5), and Ian Hart (Boardwalk Empire, The Bridge.

9th century AD; many of the separate kingdoms of what we now know as England have fallen to the invading Vikings, only the great Kingdom of Wessex stands defiant under its visionary King Alfred the Great (Dawson). It is the last kingdom.

Against this turbulent backdrop lives Uhtred (Dreymon). Born the son of a Saxon nobleman, he is orphaned by the Vikings and then kidnapped and raised as one of their own. Forced to choose between the country of his birth and the people of his upbringing, his loyalties are ever tested. What is he — Saxon or Viking? On a quest to claim his birthright, Uhtred must tread a dangerous path between both sides if he is to play his part in the birth of a new nation and, ultimately, recapture his ancestral lands.

The Last Kingdom is a show of heroic deeds and epic battles but with a thematic depth that embraces politics, religion, warfare, courage, love, loyalty and our universal search for identity. Combining real historical figures and events with fictional characters, it is the story of how a people combined their strength under one of the most iconic kings of history in order to reclaim their land for themselves and build a place they call home.

Last kingdom promo2

You can read my pervious update on the show in this earlier post:  https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/25/temporary-cure-for-viking-withdrawals-last-kingdom-update/

If you are a regular viewer of this blog, you will be aware that I am a devoted and loyal fan of Bernard Cornwell and his Warrior Chronicles series.  This in no way takes away from my loyalty or passion for Michael Hirst’s version of the Vikings saga. I am looking forward to seeing how the two stories play out in comparison to each other! Michael Hirst gives us a version that tells the overall story of the Vikings Saga beginning with Ragnar Lothbrok and the earliest arrival of Vikings in England. His emphasis so far has been more from the Viking perspective and his focus has been on Ragnar’s adventures, conquests and defeats. Hirst is moving the story into the next generation this next season, while also telling the story of Rollo’s quest for fame in Normandy. Bernard Cornwell’s version tells the story from a slightly different perspective, that of a young Saxon English boy, Uhtred of Bebbanburg who is captured and raised by the Northmen. His life and his story is one of torn loyalties as he has to make choices and compromises in order to stay alive and achieve his one goal of reclaiming his birthright, Bebbanburg Castle. Cornwell explores the history of that somewhat later time frame that Hirst is moving into with his Vikings Saga. The Last Kingdom will show us young Alfred’s struggle to hold on to his own birthright, Wessex, and his fight to unite the Saxon kingdoms in battle against the Northmens’ conquest for territory.  In reading Cornwell’s series, and watching it play out on screen, you will see some of the same historical characters that you have been introduced to in the Vikings Saga. You should eventually see Ivar and Ubba now fully grown older men, along with a young Alfred inheriting the crown of Wessex. Cornwell’s version plays with the historical timeline and events a bit as well, but not so much possibly, as Hirst has done in telling his version of the story. 

I firmly believe that those of you are loyal to Hirst’s version of the Vikings saga should not look at this new show as competition, but should welcome the opportunity to see yet another version this fascinating history come on the scene! What the production of this new show proves is that there is a growing interest and fan base for all of these historical fiction based shows. The more interest there is in the entire genre, the greater the chances are that the interest will influence networks and promoters to continue such shows and invest more funding into them. There has been some speculation and rumor that the Vikings on History channel only got their 20 episodes for the coming season because they may not return for a following season. I would prefer to think that, as Hirst has commented, the higher powers in control have taken heed of the growing interest and fan base, are realizing the potential benefit of giving fans what they are asking for- more and not less of the show! Vikings viewers should welcome these other shows and their competition as it shows those higher powers controlling the money and production that people want to see this sort of show. It also raises the level of the playing field, the production and quality of what is being offered… Perhaps this is one reason we will get 20 episodes in the next season. It’s just a thought to keep in mind when you debate on whether to give Last Kingdom a chance to prove itself!

 

A closer look at the Vikings season 4 preview

I promised earlier to take a closer, more in depth look at the season 4 preview released at Comi-con. I spent much of yesterday doing just that. It’s amazing how long it can take to watch and re-watch a 1 minute trailer. It’s  also amazing how much you can pull out of it when you slow it down, pay close attention and manage to catch somewhat hidden flashes! I believe that I have accomplished that and will share some of those half hidden bits with you here.

Before we get into the trailer, it’s content and what it all might mean, I want to remind everyone of a few very important things pertaining to this and other promo trailers. First and foremost, as I have mentioned previously, these trailers are a collection of various scenes and events splice together- often in random order- to pique your interest and grab you attention. If you watch closely, you will see that those events and scenes have been taken apart and re-inserted at random perhaps not so random… but more pivotal moments that will cause you to start guessing and making your own assumptions as to what is happening or will happen. A promo trailer is designed to do just that, to immediately draw you in and create those doubts in your mind so that you want to watch the future episodes to find out if your assumptions and guesses were correct!  You also need to be aware that episodes and scenes are not shot consecutively or in any linear fashion. Scenes and events are shot according to things such as location availability and cost effectiveness as far as shooting as many scenes as possible at one place and time with as many cast members as possible in a given location at the same time.  So, while the production may have just begun recently, that does not mean that all of these clips are necessarily from just the beginning episodes.  Lastly, please remember that I am presenting my personal thoughts on the preview. I was as confused, baffled and curious about what all of this means as the rest of you probably are. This is my attempt to sort through it and make some sense of it for myself and hopefully others of you who are just as confused!

 

If you missed the trailer, here it is again. If you’ve already watched it, it never hurts to watch again and refresh your memory or your thoughts on it as we begin our discussion of it!

The entire preview was a bit eerie for me and threw me from the very beginning, listening to Athelstan’s narration of it. Here are his words

               “Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher. Vanity of vanities. Who is vanity? What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away,

                      and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.”

                                                                                                                       Athelstan

After listening to his words throughout the preview, we were then presented with a flash of one who resembles him so much that it becomes one of those curious wtf moments…

Does Athelstan reappear

Please note that I have stated that this is a flash of one who closely resembles Athelstan… we all know that Athelstan is dead. So, short of resurrecting him, I can only assume that this either a vision, or it is one in the future who will bear a great resemblance to him? I am not even going to guess on this one because I really have no clue! Some have put forth the idea that this may be a glimpse of the future when all of the sons are grown and perhaps this is Athelstan’s son Alfred?  I do think that with the number of episodes set now at somewhere between 16 and 20, that there could possibly be more than one time jump to get the story to a point where the next generation fully takes over. Hirst  has confirmed at least one time jump of a few years, but that would not put the children as old enough to take over on their own. My own thought is that at some later point in the season, perhaps as next season reaches it’s finale there will be that other time jump to all of the children as adults ready to begin that next stage of the Viking era.

Now that we have that first curious and mysterious overall feeling out of the way, the biggest WTF moment for most people was of course Floki’s situation! It has left many with conflicted thoughts on it. Even those who have come to hate Floki and want him to receive his justly deserved punishment seem to be a bit unsettled by these scenes of his arrest, his punishment and his possible demise. I have watched the trailer more than a few times and still confused by these scenes of Floki, and Bjorn’s announcement of his arrest. There is just something about the situation and how these clips present it that lead me to wonder about all of it.  First of all throughout the trailer, we do see other scenes of Floki, alive and well, fighting with the others. My immediate thought on that is, Ok- do those scenes take place before or after this arrest and his torture?  The initial thought would be that they must take place prior to this event, while they are making their way home… which Hirst does say will take a good deal of time- almost two years. So, during that two years, they say nothing of Floki’s betrayal, allowing him to spend that entire time waiting, wondering when the axe will drop on his head…

a puzzled floki floki fighting later in the preview

 

They finally reach home where a number of things await Ragnar’s attention besides Floki’s past betrayal… it would seem that while they were gone so long Aslaug was contemplating her own thoughts of power and reign over Kattegat. Now, realistically, why would she not? If they were gone such a length of time and she had no idea whether they were alive or dead, why would she not think about such a thing. She was in control of the kingdom while Ragnar was gone and the people probably accepted her reign. She went so far as to seek the Seer out for his thoughts on such an event as woman ruling Kattegat. His answer was cryptic as usual but he did say that one day a woman would rule Kattegat. As to whether she would be that woman was left unsaid…

the seer says a woman will one day rule kattegat will a woman ever rule the kingdom of kattegat

It was unsettling to see that the Seer ventured out of his hut into daylight sunshine for once… he should be more careful though, it looks like he may have been out there too long… his skin was probably not used to such exposure and unfortunately, there was no such thing as sunscreen back then!

the seer comes out in daylight

So, Ragnar finally makes it home to find that his people may be having second thoughts about who their ruler is… Bjorn must set them all straight on that count. Aslaug does not look too happy about this?

bjorn and aslaug

These boys, whom we later recognize as Ragnar’s sons, are quite vocal in their allegiance and praise of their King and father…

to whom do we owe our allegiance

Another couple who do not look quite as enthusiastic about it are Floki and Helga..

who is your King

Perhaps that is because the next clip we see is Bjorn ordering the arrest of Floki for the murder of Athelstan…

Bjorn:  I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

helga at Floki's arrest

helga at Floki’s arrest

We then see the result of Floki’s arrest and what appears to be his torture… which has a great resemblance to some parallel or symbolism related to Athelstan? We would assume this to be Floki tortured and hanging in some cave at a later point.

athelstan's punishment begins

What we see in between Floki’s arrest and his later torture is Ragnar’s comments to Floki.

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

What we see later are two things that speak of some serious change in Ragnar’s character.  We know that his thoughts and his actions are turning more to the dark side…so could these two action be predictions of that darker side? We see what appears to be his very physical reprimand or treatment of Aslaug- something he has never resorted to previously.

ragnar looking pissed as usual of late ragnar 2 aslaug is reprimanded by someone

And, then we see this treatment of  Floki…

floki suffers an even worse punishment

My own personal thought on this scene of Floki being tortured is that I do wonder whether this is out of context to throw us off and assume that it is Ragnar’s doing and that Floki meets his end here. I could see this being Ragnar’s personal revenge upon Floki, especially seeing how his mind is now working. I could also see Ragnar doing this act to show the villagers of Kattegat just who is in charge, and using Floki as an example to show his force and his power. What I can not see or  understand is Bjorn and the other villagers completely going along with this act. In their minds, Floki killing a Christian would not have warranted such a punishment and torture as this.  Bjorn was Floki’s friend from childhood, he even agreed with Floki on the matter of the Christians and their religion.  For Ragnar to make such a public display and example of Floki in this way would not draw these people to remain loyal to him out of trust and belief in him but more out of fear of him and his reprisals… in this way he is becoming more and more like those he fought against- Earl Haraldson and King Horik! If this is truly the path he going down, then his people would most likely looking for some way out from under his control…  What I could more easily envision is if Ragnar did do this to show his supreme authority, then others might be willing to secretly rescue him from this fate and send him on his way to some exile with warnings to never return to face Ragnar’s wrath… I could even see Bjorn going along with something such as this if he comes to realize his Father’s darker path. If Bjorn were to aid in such an act and others knew of it, then it would set Bjorn up as a better leader to follow than Ragnar…

Perhaps an act such as this is part of why Bjorn sets off on a solitary journey or quest to clear his mind and his heart. In the Comi-con discussion, it was revealed that on learning of Porunn’s departure, Bjorn leaves on this quest to find himself and his true destiny or fate… during which he has the fateful and already famous encounter with the bear.

bjorn in the wilderness Bjorn's Holy Fuck moment

At some point Bjorn does find time to bond with his young half brothers… interestingly, it’s Bjorn’s bonding we see and not Ragnar’s!

Ragnar's sons  and another generation takes it's place

Another event has set many on edge and to the point of taking sides is of course, the matter of Rollo and his ultimate betrayal of Ragnar and his own blood- his own people. We all knew that it would  come down to this and surely Rollo knew that it have to happen eventually as well. Some have noted rightly, that had Ragnar been well enough to make the decision, he would never have left Rollo there in the first place knowing full well what the Seer’s prophecy was. This decision by Bjorn could foreseeably put him and his Father at odds in the future. What ever the case, Rollo had to follow his own fate, his own heart and his destiny knowing fully that he would have to side with the Franks in any future battles against the Vikings. These are the decisions and choices that men, and women must make in their quests for their own power, fame or reputation. Hirst has  given fair warning and confirmation that Rollo’s future path will follow closely to that of the real Rollo of history. In that historical context, Rollo pledged his alliance and allegiance to Charles, and he held himself to that oath for as long as Charles was alive.  After Charles died, however, all oaths were off the table and Rollo was on good terms with his Viking blood.

The preview trailer naturally plays up this ultimate betrayal of his own people, but what we do not know yet is what the reason or context is surrounding this battle and betrayal. What we do see is Rollo coming into his own power within the Frankish dynasty.  I personally have no issue with any of this… I have been waiting for three seasons to see Rollo step up and take his own power, his own destiny. I am anxiously awaiting the story of Rollo and his battle for a foothold, a new dynasty in this place that will come to be Normandy, land of Northmen! Three long seasons, I have been by his side in the filth and muck that was his previous life and now finally am rewarded with his upswing, his conquest of both Normandy and Gisla! It appears that we will indeed get to see at least a glimpse of a Royal Wedding, even though neither the Bride or Groom looks all that happy about it. The Bride’s father seems to be the only one remotely happy about it?

charles appears rather calm and even a bit happy

rollo and gisla rollo at his wedding a tearful gisla

We also see a glimpse of the unhappy and still rather childish Gisla attempting to take matters of the wedded bliss into her own hands and make herself a widow by morning…

A wtf moment for rollo

A Royal Wedding

As to what Rollo’s reaction will be at awaking to find a dagger at his throat remains to be seen…. I have a hunch that what ever his reaction, Gisla will not be allowed to play with sharp objects any time soon!

Yes, there is indeed some sort of battle that ensues between the Franks with Rollo included, and a force of Vikings. We do not know who this group of Vikings are or what their reason is for being in France. Nor do we know when this takes place… we would assume that it takes places some time after that two years of Ragnar’s travel home but we can not be certain of that either. All we know for now is that yes there is a battle and Rollo fights with the Franks, thereby as the wounded warrior states, betraying his own blood and people. We do not even know for sure who this wounded warrior is, whether he is one of Rollo’s men or a warrior from the other side. Now, when Rollo signed his oath of allegiance, his men would have sworn along with him and profited along with him from that decision. Rollo along with his men profited a great deal from this allegiance and would have received land grants in return. That is how Normandy was founded, through those land grants. Perhaps this warrior was a disgruntled man of Rollo’s. I am sure that were would have been some who were not in so much agreement on this decision, or some who might not have taken into consideration everything that the agreement would entail. The initial reward may have been appealing to them but then at some later time such as this, some of them would realize just what this bargain really involved.  It also could have been an opposing warrior who is giving the warning that Ragnar will hear of this, he will come to revenge us…  We shall have to wait to see what this battle is actually all about!

seiging a castle rollo2

warriors on the move victorious warriors rollo facing his own battle a fallen warrior warns Rollo

We shall also have to wait to see what this person’s  part in the battle is and what if any importance they might be?

a woman is down in the forest a woman meets her death in the forest a warrior in fear

We do see the return of another rather mysterious character who has as yet not had any real significance in the story… could that be changing though, will we see more of Roland’s story?

Roland's story

As to the news that Ragnar is on his way… Rollo knew that fact would be inevitable and this time he will present a much different face and force than in the past. This time, Rollo has come into his own power, his own right and destiny. This time, Rollo is fighting with the entire force of the Franks on his side. He is also fighting now as a Landowner defending what is his. He should not be taken so lightly this time!

Ragnar is on his way

With that all in mind, it would appear that Ragnar does eventually come…

Two brothers two destinies

Rollo's destiny

We see a voyage to somewhere that includes at least one of Ragnar’s young sons… We can’t be certain of where this particular journey is to because Hirst makes mention of a number of places this next season. In looking these pictures though, it does not really look like the landscape of France but I could be mistaken!

Ragnar's sons  and another generation takes it's place ragnar is on his way  to where we're not sure boys are old enough to join in battles

 

In a few other less obvious and more hidden glimpses, we see someone who looks much like Torvi in her own difficulties once again…

not sure if this is torvi or helga think it's probably torvi one of those wtf moments is this torvi or helga

Torvi’s difficulties bring us to her current husband, Erlandeur who for no good reason to me, still seems to be alive and well! His appearance is linked to the events surrounding Lagertha and Kalf. Lagertha seems to be having some difficulties as well but has not killed off Kalf  yet as previously threatened.  She and Kalf remain together for the time being and Kalf gives off an appearance of being in some control and continuing to display a calm form of leadership.  What we see of Lagertha seems to be of two separate events,  one being some sort of interrupted celebration in which she ruins that beautiful dress with the usual blood stains that seem to follow her! It’s hard to see or know what the interrupted event was or what set her off…

Lagertha one generation passes away and another takes it's place lagertha and her shieldmaidens lagertha shame that she has destroyed that beautiful dress

 

The other event involves that earlier traitor, Einar, whom she has apparently finally caught up with after these few years of travel.

lagertha faces more battle

It also perhaps involves Kalf, and yes even sleazy Erlandeur is involved as a bystander…

She and Kalf seem to be on somewhat good terms with each other… as I said, at least she has not killed him off yet?

lagertha and kalf are still together

It would appear that Einar may not be so lucky?

Now, in watching these scenes and deciphering some of them by looking at their attire in the separate clips… that does give a clue as to putting things together, there is something else going one in the following scenes that has Lagertha concerned, puzzled or even a bit fearful.  It’s difficult to know for sure whether this takes place before or after her treatment of Einar.

something unexpected an unpleasent is happening around lagertha lagertha looking concerned

Her revenge of Einar, with Kalf looking on calmly and seemingly giving some approval? Ohhhh yes, and Sleazy Erlandeur is here watching as well…

lagertha takes revenge on Einar sleazy Erlandeur and Kalf look on while Lagertha prepares to unman Einar kalf waiting for something kalf seems to be in charge and giving a signal

kalf and lagertha

 

Last but certainly not least by any means, there is Wessex and England to think about because really, this where the future for the Vikings will be most played out and give them their most talked of fame.  This is where the sons of Ragnar Lothbrok will eventually leave their mark and do battle with ones such as that grandson of Ecbert, Alfred the Great.

King Ecbert still holds his power and gives warning that Ragnar Lothbrok could return at any moment.

ecbert

We do catch a glimpse of Kweni so yes, she is still alive and plotting… but she does appear somewhat rattled or fearful? Interestingly enough, it looks like she’s in a dungeon… and she’s not looking too well if you ask me!

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

Judith, on the other hand seems to be faring much better? She’s survived some serious difficulties in the past but looks like she finding her way to playing to the power game.

judith is smiling that's some good sign judith

At the end of last season, we saw her making a start at realizing that she might have some chance in this game. I will update her story soon to include this beginning realization. Good for Judith, I can’t wait to see her figure this all out!

judith holds her own in this game of power

One last thing of interest…. we seldom see Ragnar with a look of real fear on his face but something has put this look on him in the next season!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Who does Ragnar love? It rhymes with boats!

who does ragnar love

Ahhhh Just a quick little post to hopefully make you smile! No long discussion or debate… Ragnar has bad luck with women and friends, but his goats don’t talk back (Ok, maybe they do but it’s cute when they do it!), they’re easily satisfied with a cuddle now and then, they won’t betray him or desert him, and when they die he can just find another to replace them! They also earn their keep and don’t complain too much about it! Ragnar loves his goats, and who can really blame him?

ragnar and goat4 ragnar and goat3 ragnar and goat2

So, in honor of Ragnar’s goats, I have found a very special herd of goats working hard to earn their keep and make the world a better place, one field at a time!

As I said, these are special goats and they deserve some credit and appreciation!  I live in the San Francisco Bay area, where we do not normally get many visits from goat herds. Recently, however, we have had the chance to watch these workers up close on a regular basis! I was pleasantly surprised and amused a few weeks ago to find them happily chewing away at the dried grass and shrubs in an underpass area near my home. They put a smile on my face and I was then curious about these happy workers.

These goat herds are part of a project by  Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) located in Berkeley, CA. Berkeley Lab works with a local goat ranch to provide an organic and environmentally sound method of clearing vegetation and overgrowth in urban areas. The goat herds clear large areas of hillside as well as more difficult to maintain underpass areas.

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)

http://www.lbl.gov/about/

 

goats R us

The goats are owned by Goats R Us, a local ranch in Orinda, CA. 

Goats R Us is a family owned and operated grazing company. Established in 1995, our livestock are used primarily for fuel mitigation and the eradication of undesirable plant species. We provide communities with environmentally friendly vegetation management as well as public education about alternatives to traditional abatement techniques.

http://www.goatsrus.com/index.htm

baby goat goats at work

Check out their website to learn more about their company and their goats! They are providing a environmentally sound service that benefits everyone, including the goats! This is their hope and goal for the future of their business: 

CONTINUED EXPANSION
In the coming years, Goats R Us plans to continue to grow and meet the demands of our clients. Our near-term goals involve returning to work on smaller parcels for private landowners as well as expanding the scope of our work. We would like to increase our collaboration with range and fire ecologists, restoration ecologists, and soil scientists to offer a more complete package to our clients.

RESTORATION
With the growing interest in habitat restoration, Goats R Us is hoping to expand the use of goats as a tool for repairing damaged grasslands. Goats prefer different forage species than cattle, and so may be able to compensate for changes in plant dominance resulting from single-species grazing. In addition, goats will eat many highly invasive species that are undesirable by other grazers, such as blooming Yellow Star Thistle and mustard species.

 

Lagertha and Ragnar: Why love is not enough

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

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

lagertha and bjorn

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

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

bjorn in the middle bjorn breaks up the fight

young Bjorn

young Bjorn

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

rollo and lagertha2 rollo's response to lagertha

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

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

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

lagertha prepares to leave

lagertha prepares to leave

leaving ragnar

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

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

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

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

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

Lagertha is not amused with Ragnar's speech to her

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

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

Ragnar  as a ruler I have the last say

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

lagertha watching ragnar in pain

lagertha watching ragnar in pain

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn's announcement

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn’s announcement

lagertha's last words with ragnar

Lagertha says her private goodbye to Ragnar

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

If you have gone to heaven we shall never meet again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Where do we go from here?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ragnar at least I know I will be reunited with Athelstan

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

Athelstan appears

Gods wait not for batte but for choice

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

ragnar watches rollo from the boat

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

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

Yes as did you Ragnar so shut your face2

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

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan's decision

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan’s decision

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

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

ragnar comes to the rescue

ragnar to floki  You killed Athelstan

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

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

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

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

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

Kalf says his own last minute prayer to the gods

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

ragnar and rollo floki and ragnar

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

lagertha and bjorn

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

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

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

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

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

kalf remains silent and somewhat calm throughout this discussion

kalf remains silent and somewhat calm throughout this discussion

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

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

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

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn's announcement

a grieving lagertha waits for bjorn’s announcement

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

our people are over joyed with the treasure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rollo is saddened at the news

rollo is saddened at the news

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

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

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

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

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

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

rollo is not especially happy to see his brother alive

 

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

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

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

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

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

rollo stops floki's offer

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

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

bjorn: and what reason do you have uncle?

bjorn: and what reason do you have uncle?

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

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

or well  rollo  he's still having some difficulties

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

The mention of Ragnar sends Rollo into a rage

siggy bluntly revives a drunken rollo

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

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

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

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

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

gisla keeps watching rollo  who is this warrior

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

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

Rollo  and his warriors stay behind as the ships depart.

Rollo and his warriors stay behind as the ships depart.

Rollo watching the ships leave him in france

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

the viking camp preparing for a long battle

viking celebration mass

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

yes here comes roland yet again

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

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

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

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

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

Ohhh now charles claims grand reference to his grandfather charlamagne

Ohhh now charles claims grand reference to his grandfather charlamagne

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

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

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

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

Yep, that little dig is going to cost you gisla

Yep, that little dig is going to cost you gisla

 

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

Odo approaches Gisla about that marriage proposal

Odo approaches Gisla about that marriage proposal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

the warriors staying behind with rollo for the winter

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

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

 

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

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

charles welcomes rollo

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

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

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

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

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

Here she is Rollo here's your new bride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rollo is she saying what I think she's saying

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

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

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

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

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

gisla he disgusts me he makes me want to vomit

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10th century headwear

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Breaking Point

First of all, I do apologize for the delay in my post and review of last week’s events. It’s been a bit hectic and chaotic here in Paris! Our visit is not going as well as planned and everyone, including me, is at their breaking point!  Our people are wounded, sick and dying faster than we can care for them or count the dead. I do have to admit right now that while I will be sad at this season ending, especially in such loss to all of us… I am mentally and emotionally exhausted and am in desperate need of a real vacation after this! Somewhere warm, quiet and filled with luxury will do me just fine at this point! I also apologize for the extreme length of this post! I usually try to break them up but am running behind this week and did want to make sure I got it all posted!

Vikings disneyland paris from Athelstan's facebook  page

Vikings disneyland paris from Athelstan’s facebook page

Another attempt was made to get inside Paris… this time it was planned and executed by Lagertha and Rollo. I do want to say that even though it too ended in complete and utter disaster, it could be looked on as success in some ways. They did get inside this time, and Rollo did end up making a name and great reputation for himself as a result of the attack. In fact, the Franks were so impressed with his actions that they wanted to know more about him! I will touch on that later.

What I want to bring up now is the initial portion of the attack in which Lagertha and her shieldmaidens made a covert stealth move to the bridge and eventually made their way inside without notice. The reason I mention this is because when I first heard of the plan for the bridge, I was reminded of part of the actual attacks in history. I should have said something right then and made my own suggestions… but alas I am not in a position to give out tactical advice and be taken seriously.

lagertha's group under the bridge

In the attack of Paris in 885-886, which Rollo was involved in… For two months the Vikings maintained the siege, making trenches and provisioning themselves off the land. In January 886 they tried to fill the river shallows with debris, plant matter, and the bodies of dead animals and dead prisoners to try to get around the tower. They continued this for two days. On the third day they set three ships alight and guided them towards the wooden bridge. The burning ships sank before they could set the bridge on fire, but the wooden construction was nonetheless weakened. On 6 February, rains caused the river (still filled with debris) to overflow and the bridge supports gave way. The bridge gone, the northeast tower was now isolated with only twelve defenders inside. The Vikings asked the twelve to surrender, but they refused, and were all subsequently killed. 

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

That is of little consequence here and now. They went with Lagertha’s plan to sneak into the city and open the gates for Rollo’s army of warriors. It was not without it’s own hazards and death but Lagertha  held up her end even while watching her shieldmaidens get dowsed with boiling oil. She fought fire with fire, and set the gates flaming so Rollo’s group could enter. My own personal thought is… Ok, now the damn gates are permanently open for quite a while- those gates can’t just be replaced over night! Wouldn’t it be relatively easy for us to swarm through there at a later time? Just a thought… now back to what actually happened!

a covert night mission led by lagertha an unsuspecting Parisian defense Lagertha waiting to make her next move lagertha sees her warrior doused with boiling oil

death by boiling oil

Lagertha chooses to fight fire with fire lagertha sets the gate on fire

The gates were on fire and easily knocked down for our men to enter.

vikings pouring into Paris at night the men make their move to the burning gates

some success the gates are open now

This is where it all once again, started to go so terribly wrong for us!

While the Franks were initially surprised by this attack, they were quick to man their defense which as usual for them included advance war machines.  While Odo set about preparing this defense, a worried Gisla prepared her women and warned them not to be taken alive by these barbaric heathens.

Parisian defense once again kicks in immediately

gisla passes out daggers and instructions to her maids

inside Paris the alarms have rang again and the women are in fear

inside Paris the alarms have rang again and the women are in fear

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

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

As our Viking warriors raced into the hall towards the inner city, they were suddenly met with the Frankish secret weapon… a literal wheel of death!

Odo once again has to contend with the viking raiders Odo prepares to bring out another secret weapon Odo's secret weapon  Erlandeur would be soooo jealous

Erlandeur is jealous of the french machines

This wheel is truly a grisly weapon of mass torture and death as it rolls down the hall over our men who can not out run it fast enough!

bodies stuck to wheel of death

Rollo was not deterred by it though, he was determined to get into this city and some machine was not going to stop him!

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

While Odo, his army, and yes, Gisla watched in some amazement and even awe, Rollo fought like a mad man… a true berserker against them all!

Odo is amazed at what he is seeing Odo is frustrated again gisla is once again in the middle of the battle watching as Rollo stops their machine with his bare hands rollo in the middle of berserker mode Rollo fights all of the men off like a crazed bear

Eventually even Rollo had to admit defeat, retreat, and haul ass out of there!

rollo fought like a mad man but they could not break through the defenses

rollo fought like a mad man but they could not break through the defenses

During this battle there is something else to note… that would be the true spinelessness of this King Charles.  I actually had some empathy for Odo as he attempted to get Charles to at least go down and show his face to his troops as a way of inspiring them to fight. Count Odo begged the King to make an appearance for the sake of the Holy Mother. He even tried to spur Charles on with a reference to Charlamaigne, his Grandfather, how Charlamaigne would have put on his armor and fought with his men. Charles replied to these requests first by stating that if the Holy Mother was on their side protecting them, then what did they need of him? His response to the comment about Charlamaigne was, “I am not him, I am not my Grandfather Charlamaigne” I’m sure that Odo’s thought at the time was one of, No unfortunately for all of us, you are not… you are a worthless and spineless imitation of any King and we are stuck with you!”

Odo begs the king to come to their aid

Charles  What you want me to do what You want me to go out there  surely you jest?

Charles What you want me to do what You want me to go out there surely you jest?

Charles reprimands Odo and tells him not to speak for the Holy Mother to him in such a way

Charles reprimands Odo and tells him not to speak for the Holy Mother to him in such a way

the king would rather rely on the holy mother to come to their aid

the king would rather rely on the holy mother to come to their aid

Odo tries to make Charles see reason Charles  Alas for you Count Odo I am not my Grandfather I am not Charlamagne

Now back to Rollo and his retreat for self preservation in order fight another day… As I mentioned earlier, this was actually a success for him in some ways. His actions during this fight brought him fame, attention and even some respect in the eyes of the Franks, and his retreat ensured that he would still be alive to appreciate it later!

During the battle, our warrior Sigfrid and our wanderer Sinric were captured and brought before the court where their fate would be decided, not so much by Charles- for he stayed mostly silent during this event, his mind thinking of other things- but by Odo and by Gisla… it is here that we find out the thoughts these people were having about our Rollo. There was much discussion about what to do with these prisoners, whether they were of any value or not?

Sinric offers fashion and cosmetic tips

while odo questions  Sinric, charles is thinking on something else

while odo questions Sinric, charles is thinking on something else

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

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

 

odo about sigfrid  perhaps he could be bartered if he is so important

odo about sigfrid perhaps he could be bartered if he is so important

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

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

 

during the discussion, Odo wants to know of the great warrior that managed to take down their machine with his bare hands. Everyone is speaking of this wild and brave warrior? Sinric replies, “That is Rollo, brother to the King Ragnar… he fights like a crazed bear!” And, so Rollo’s fame and reputation have begun… to the Franks he will now ever be known as that wild Viking warrior bear!

sintric  he fights like a crazed bear

sinric: he fights like a crazed bear

Odo decided that Sinric would be of future use to them and so spared his life. To Odo’s credit, he did make some attempt as well to spare Sigfrid’s life by suggesting that he as an earl might be worth bartering for? He was shot down by a now somewhat more petulant Gisla, who demands that Odo bring her his head if he cares anything for her. Now, possibly Gisla was thinking that after such a disaster, her people needed to see themselves in more control of this situation? Perhaps she felt that they were so cowed and awed by the actions of Rollo that they needed to see a different side of these Viking warriors… they needed to see one taken down and conquered by death. Perhaps she felt that her people needed to see a Viking warrior die in front of them to counteract the now legendary fighting of Rollo. What ever she might be attempting to achieve in this situation, the reality was that she came across as the petulant demanding princess that she could probably be quite often. Odo was not exactly in favor of the idea but if it would score him points in Gisla’s favor, he was willing to go along with it. After all, it was just another heathen they were killing… This came down to a sort of compromise between Odo and Gisla. Odo got to keep the different one, Sinric and Gisla got her wish for Sigfrid’s head.

poor sintric realizes this didn't work out so well for Sigfrid

poor sintric realizes this didn’t work out so well for Sigfrid

Sigfrid would eventually lose his head but, he would have the last laugh before it was finished!

in paris sigfrid faces his accusers and his end

in paris sigfrid faces his accusers and his end

but he does face his death with dignity and bravery

but he does face his death with dignity and bravery

sigfrid: but I want someone to hold my hair out of the way so it does not impede a clean blow.

sigfrid: but I want someone to hold my hair out of the way so it does not impede a clean blow.

Odo  what the hell is he saying  Damn I need to learn their language

Odo what the hell is he saying Damn I need to learn their language

someone please hold his hair back out of the way

Odo shows he does have some compassion for a dying man’s last wishes and goes along with Sigrid’s request…

not wanting it said they deny someone of a last wish  they comply and a man holds sigfrid's hair back.

not wanting it said they deny someone of a last wish they comply and a man holds sigfrid’s hair back.

Odo watches and thinks  I will never understand these heathens and their strange ways

Odo watches and thinks I will never understand these heathens and their strange ways

Sigfrid pulled back his head at the last minute and the axe went through the man’s hand…

Sigfrid has the last laugh

Sigfrid has the last laugh

 

these villagers of Paris are stunned and awed by Sigfrid's bravery while Sintric tries to hide a laugh of his own

these villagers of Paris are stunned and awed by Sigfrid’s bravery while Sintric tries to hide a laugh of his own

Needless to say, Odo and  Gisla did not see the humor in it…

Odo has been thwarted again  Damn it this is not funny

Odo has been thwarted again Damn it this is not funny

gisla is not amused

gisla is not amused

Sinric tried to hide his laugh but sigfrid laughed loud at his own last revenge on the Franks, because Damn it was funny, and Odo would probably even admit in private… probably not Gisla right now, because she is showing her more childish pouting side!

sintric  ohhh ooops ummm no it was not funny Sigfrid however finds this last act hilarious

Speaking of Gisla’s more childish pouting side… she showed it again later at a meeting with the King and Odo. Please understand, our siege of Paris may not be completely successful but we are having some profound affect on the city. Our efforts have also been helped by the fact that a serious case of the Plague has arrived in the city as well.  On a historical note, a case of unidentified plague and pestilence were documented during Ragnar Lodbrok’s attack on Paris during 845. In the historic account, the plague entered the Viking camp… which could be the cause of such sickness that is currently overtaking ones such as Ragnar…

The Vikings finally arrived in Paris on either Easter Sunday, 28 March, or Easter Day, 29 March, entered the city and plundered it. During the siege, a plague broke out in their camp. The Norse had been exposed to the Christian religion, and after first praying to the Norse gods, they undertook a fast, acting on the advice of one of their Christian prisoners, and the plague subsided.

We will return to what is going on in our camp later.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Paris_(845)

Inside Paris, the plague and lack of food supplies are decimating and demoralizing the population. Odo as a competent commander realized this and was willing to admit that they must end this siege by negotiating with the Northmen. Gisla shows her youth and some lack of understanding of the direness of the situation. She is insistent and determined that they keep fighting at all costs, else they shall have failed themselves and their people. Gisla may be courageous in the face of battle but she as yet lacks the wisdom to accept that sometimes one must retreat or compromise in order to live and fight another day. Odo does understand this and while he is not happy about this defeat and giving into the Northmen, he knows that it must be done.

in the city something else has arrived with the vikings  the plague has arrived as well.

in the city something else has arrived with the vikings the plague has arrived as well.

gisla: otherwise we will have failed.

gisla: otherwise we will have failed.

gisla appears now more as a child a daughter who really has less power than she thinks gisla watches her father as odo contunues about their losses

Odo realizes the disaster facing them and admits defeat he suggests they come to terms with the vikings

Odo realizes the disaster facing them and admits defeat he suggests they come to terms with the vikings

Charles knows what Odo is going to say but asks him anyway  what is your advice

Charles knows what Odo is going to say but asks him anyway what is your advice

Charles is pissed because now he has to actually make a decision

Charles is pissed because now he has to actually make a decision

What is interesting to note here is that in history, it was Odo who opposed the negotiating and giving in to the Northmen.

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

In viewing Odo’s actions thus far, I am not seeing him in nearly such bad light as this pathetic King Charles! Odo is attempting to save his city and it’s people but is willing to concede defeat if need be in order not lose more lives. Gisla is acting from a more youthful, childish belief in the heroics and romanticism of the battle. And, ultimately it comes down to a decision from Charles anyway, which proves and reminds her in some way that she does not have as much power as she thinks. In reality, she is still just a young girl under the power and authority of her Father, no matter how brave or adult like she tries to act. In the end we see a young girl put in her place by her Father, the King… who whether they like it or not, is the one who has the last say! In the Viking camp, Ragnar will soon make this clear to all of his people as well!
gisla appears now more as a child a daughter who really has less power than she thinks gisla is still a young girl wanting her own way
The siege is taking it’s toll on everyone and our Viking group is disheartened, depressed and disgruntled. The weather is awful, our attempts at conquest are failing, our people are beginning to turn on each other and our esteemed King is off in the woods puking up blood and having strange visions. Yeah, we’re pretty much falling apart here!
nasty weather and disinheartened disgruntled warriors
Let us look at Ragnar’s condition and those strange visions he is having? He has not recovered at all from the fall he took earlier…
ragnar's fall from the wall Ragnar falls not into the water to be reborn anew no he lands on top of all his dead men
He has been suffering ever since, wandering around camp watching everyone, while occasionally stopping to piss or puke up blood. It’s obvious that he has suffered some serious internal injury and could easily be succumbing to the plague as well? What ever it is, the man is Gods awful sick but he’s still managing to survive and maintain some sort of rulership…
ragnar pissing blood and in bad shape Ragnar is having a tough time of it right now ragnar's not falling for Floki's attempts ragnar wandering through the camp
He can not go on the middle of the night raid because, well because he can barely stand let alone fight right now! At one point he wanders out to the woods, presumably for quiet private suffering where no one will see him in such agony…
Why did Ragnar not join the raid  Well Ragnar is king and ragnar is busy puking his guts out

Why did Ragnar not join the raid Well Ragnar is king and ragnar is busy puking his guts out

Ragnar seems to be fading fast Ragnar is having a tough time of it right now ragnar in the throes of his vision
Ragnar gives into his pain and at first it does appear that he might just be giving into death calling upon him? He begins to have hallucinations or visions… Athelstan comes to him
ragnar's vision continues Athelstan appears
Athelstan reaches out to Ragnar and Ragnar starts to reach back to his friend…
ragnar reaches back to athelstan
But, before their hands can touch, Odin appears as well!