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

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

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

 

adult sons of Ragnar

adult sons of Ragnar

Ivar

Ivar

Ubbe

Ubbe

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

The importance and the future of Guthrum

The importance and the future of Guthrum

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

Guthrum God of rome strike me down

 

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

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

craigh_na_dun_time tours

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

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

Eilswith in the swamp

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

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

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

Guthrum gets baptized

Guthrum gets baptized

guthrum: I've heard mention of this heaven

guthrum: I’ve heard mention of this heaven

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

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

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

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

kingdom of guthrum mapalfred1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rollo victorious

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

vikings in trier1

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

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

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

Guthrum and Aethewold

Guthrum and Aethewold

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

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

Ubba's sorcerer, Storri

Ubba’s sorcerer, Storri

Storri has learned the hard way do not mess with brida

Storri has learned the hard way do not mess with brida

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

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

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

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

no tears from torvi she is resolute she is viking

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

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

Torvi has inherited Erlandeur's crossbow

 

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

Lagertha tells Guthrum she must leave

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

Guthrum's destiny

Guthrum’s destiny

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

Last Kingdom previews

Last Kingdom previews

Last Kingdom preview probably Ravyn, father of Ragnar.

Last Kingdom preview probably Ravyn, father of Ragnar.

Last Kingdom preview

Last Kingdom preview young Uhtred and Brida?

 

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

Last Kingdom preview- Ubba

from vikings to last kingdom

Last Kingdom preview possibly Brida

Last Kingdom preview possibly Brida

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Blue Bells of Scotland

The Minstrel Boy is now available on Kindle!

The Trilogy Begins….

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

http://www.bluebellstrilogy.com/

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Quote of the Month 

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Historical fiction vs Historical fantasy

historical fiction

As we wait through the long off time for another raiding season of Vikings, we are offered various glimpses, previews and rumors of what’s to come in the future. We also must find other ways to entertain, amuse, and enlighten ourselves.  For some that consists of re-watching past seasons and catching up on what me might have missed or re-watching in some attempt to understand portions that have left us confused about the ongoing story.  For others, the off season provides time to learn more about the actual history or legends behind the creation of this story. And for many other fans it provides time to indulge in other shows or books.  I try to provide some of that more factual history and or legend here and hopefully, I inspire you to do more of your own research on what ever parts of the story intrigue or interest you the most.

bjorn and aslaug

I am a loyal, devoted fan of the Vikings series and what Michael Hirst has created so far but that does not mean that I do not have some concerns, reservation or criticisms of the story and where he might be headed with it.  These thoughts do not mean that I will not watch it in the future or that I do not enjoy it for it’s story telling purpose. I am going to share my thoughts today because I know that there are any number of other viewers, or non-viewers any longer, who share my feelings on this subject. I also think it is an important subject to consider in light of the upcoming alternative version of the Vikings vs English story, The Last Kingdom based on the series by Bernard Cornwell.  If this new series closely follows the books, it will present a slightly different version of  the events that took place around the same general time period.  Both of these stories are considered historical fiction and both Cornwell and Hirst take some creative license and liberty in playing with the events and the timelines. This creative license is to be expected when telling any story of the past since none of us were there to actually give our own personal accounting of what did or did not happen. This is why it is called historical fiction, I think we all understand and accept that!

My personal theory or thought on the difference between historical fiction and historical fantasy is this… When I read or view something as historical fiction, the actual factual event or historical figures included within the story remain intact and recognizable as who and what they were as much as possible. The creator does not change the actual outcome of the event or the factual outcome of the historical figure involved. The timeline might be adjusted to fit into a writer’s storyline and various personal perceptions of the historical figure might come into play but the real event along with those real figures involved in such an event  remains relatively unaltered. In historical fantasy, the timeline may be completely manipulated, historical figures may also be so played with and manipulated that they may no longer be recognizable as the figure they are representing. Historical fantasy would also include the mixing of myths, legends, folk tales into the story that you are creating. In historical fantasy, you may start with a basis or premise of some  historical event or person but what you choose to do with the event or person is completely up to your imagination for the purpose of telling a story.

King-Arthur-2004-king-arthur-875455_1254_940

King-Arthur-tournage-Charlie-Hunman

King-Arthur-tournage-Charlie-Hunman

My current thought and question for debate is as follows.  When does something no longer fit as just historical fiction, but cross over into historical fantasy, or is every piece of historical fiction just a form of historical fantasy? Is there a point when one has bent or twisted the events and the timeline so much that there is little or no relevance or foundation left for the actual historical even being presented? Is Michael Hirst going toward this route, has he already crossed this invisible line, and if so does it really even make any difference as long as he is telling us a good story?  In some respects, I have to say, No it makes no difference at all as long as he continues to tell us the excellent story and we all understand that it is just that- a good story with no need for historical accuracy. The result though, with that reasoning for me personally, is that the story then moves out of the realm of historical fiction into that of historical fantasy. Now, that is not such a bad thing either as long as everyone clearly understands that difference, including the creator!  Take for example the various books and legends about King Arthur… most of which would be considered the stuff of historical fantasy rather than just historical fiction. We all know for the most part before we even read such a book or watch such a movie that it is going to be more fantasy than reality so we don’t really expect much as far as historical accuracy in such works.

Outlander 2014 Outlander 2014

Another example of historical fantasy would be any book or movie that deals with time travel. These books and shows usually fall into the category of sci-fy or paranormal no matter how they attempt to deal with the subject matter. When we decide to read or watch one of these, we’re generally not focused on any sort of historical accuracy, though I am probably an exception in that department because I feel that if an author is going to sweep me into the past in any such way, I still expect them to maintain some level of historical accuracy or authenticity regarding the time period or event that they have place me in the middle of!  The idea of time travel may be far fetched and full of fantasy but beneath all of that, I want some level of believability about the events taking place, and our reason for being there. These books and shows are difficult to pin down to any one particular category and often suffer some because of that. There are of course a few exceptions to that, one of them being Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series that has achieved a great deal of success despite not being able to put it into one specific genre. Much of that success is due to Diana Gabaldon’s ability to tell the story so well and pay such close attention to those historically accurate details that are so much a part of the story! She does such an excellent job of weaving the events, the people and the history into the story that you are never really sure which parts are factual and which are her story telling. What she does not do however, is stray too far away from the actual facts of any well known or well documented event within the history. She maintains the integrity and accuracy of each historical person and event as much as possible.  This is what, on some levels, makes her saga more believable even though she is dealing with a fantasy type genre. As you read the saga, you become immersed in that history that she is presenting and the time travel becomes less of a focus factor. She also uses enough historical legends and such to create more of an interest in the fantasy of the time travel itself.  That all being said, it is still of the fantasy realm and we know full well that is what it is, so it is falls into that historical fantasy realm. Even Ron Moore’s great re-creation of this epic time travel/history saga has some difficulties in being taken seriously and in my estimation, suffers some because promoters, critics, and potential viewers are still not quite sure which category this show fits into. To be fair, the book series also has had this ongoing problem as well.  Diana herself has made comments in the past about not wanting it labeled as any one particular genre and does not see it as a romance novel- which it often ends up being categorized as.  The problem for this series is that those who want to see it as just a grand romance are often disappointed further into the series when it becomes much more than that one specific romantic tale. Those who might appreciate the historical content often get tired of wading through the romance and vice versa… Then comes the time travel, the paranormal side to it, and that  causes the entire series not to be looked at seriously by some critics. All of this comes into play when attempting to gain a bigger audience, and receive critical credit that is necessary for a show to reach that higher level, be taken more seriously and thus warrant a larger budget and reason for being continued.  My personal belief  for this show in particular, they need to find a way to break through the genres to reach a larger audience. They need to work seriously on promoting it as more than a timeless fantasy romance and focus on that history that it so richly encompasses.  Does that mean that fans of the Jamie and Claire erotic romance will be disappointed, yes some of them probably will be. Many of the book readers stopped reading the books after about book 3 when the series shifts the focus from their romance to the realities of the history they were involved. But, by shifting that promotion and focus towards the incredible detailed history, I think they will gain more fans who want to see the historical accuracy of the events taking place during that time. In order to reach that wider audience, it needs to be seen and promoted as more than just the Jamie and Claire show.  I think it is definitely a series that combine those differing genres and hold a wide viewing audience if it is promoted for those other aspects rather than just the romantic fantasy.

 

As I’ve have mentioned many times, I have no problem with an author taking some creative license with events and timelines of actual historical people and events… especially when the facts are limited and timelines are not quite so clear surrounding given events or people. I understand that, accept it and relish the differing perspectives of each author who attempts to tell the story.  My problem or concern comes when well documented events, people and timelines become so altered  that they may as well not be included in the story. I also have the personal view that in many instances, the true history is just as interesting or more so than anything an author could make up, so why not include that truer accounting rather than create some other version of it? A few examples of this in the case of the Vikings Saga are the characters of Judith and Kweni. The truer version of Judith’s history involves her being the second wife of Athelwulf, then marrying her stepson when Athelwulf dies. After the son dies, she then returns home to Flanders and marries again rather than retreat to a nunnery- she would become the ancestor of William the Conqueror’s wife, Matilda. Not that I don’t appreciate Hirst’s version of Judith, because I do- she has become one of my favorite characters! As for Kweni, there are a few real life women of that time frame who could have been Kweni- all of whom had just as interesting back stories as our Kweni. One of those women was tied closely to Ecbert’s bid for power… you can read their  stories here.

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

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

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

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

I don’t mind that an author alters a timeline to fit into their particular story but I do mind when an entire event is altered and the historically documented actions of people are altered so much that the outcome of said event is changed. That is the point for me when it truly becomes fantasy rather than any sort of historical tale. In my opinion, if one is going to go that route then that’s fine but if you choose to go that path in your story, really why bother to use real events or historical figures at all in your story? I guess that is the biggest issue for me, the biggest difference between historical fiction and historical fantasy.  If I am going to read or view something that references real people and real events then I expect those specific events and people to reflect or portray the actual event or person being referred to, at least in some basic recognizable way. If not, then leave them out of the story and give me pure fantasy, I am fine with that as well!

Michael Hirst has chosen to tell us a Viking story based on both mythical legendary characters and real history. I understand his intent and his concept to somehow integrate the myths and legends with the real history. I appreciate his attempt to draw us into that time period and present both the legends and the history together but I am at the point where I feel like he has gone too far over that vague line between plausible, acceptable historical fiction and outright historical fantasy. He has blurred the lines of historical accuracy, played with historical figures and timelines so much that it becomes difficult for those wanting some historical basis and foundation to a story to watch it as it continues to unfold. I find myself often trying to figure out what is true history, what is legend and what is purely his imagination. To his credit, he has woven the story so well that it becomes difficult to tell the differences, but in some ways it becomes frustrating and confusing as well!  I believe he has stretched the boundaries of the fantasy/imagined portions almost to their limits and needs to return in this next season to some of the more factual history basis of what happened.  While the show is enjoying an upswing in ratings and fans, it does still draw much criticism for it’s representation and portrayal of history. It gets much promotion for it’s depiction of the events and people of the Viking era and there is such a great emphasis on it’s being close to historically accurate. This has a tendency to disappoint  a lot of potential viewers interested in the historical content and value who watch for a while but then drift away as the story takes so many off twists and turns, and does so much playing with those events and characters in history. Many viewers give up when they have too much difficulty following such a varied and altered timeline of events. To the show’s and Michael Hirst’s credit, this show is a first, a ground breaker in it’s attempt at such an epic depiction of overall history. That attempt has been a major success and brought much more attention and interest in this early medieval time period so I applaud them for that. With that success and added interest though comes the fact that those fans become interested enough to go off to do some of their own research, and return to their viewing with a desire for more accuracy in the details of that history.

 

Hirst continuously reminds us, assures us that many of the events he presents are rooted in and based on historical accounts, and accounts taken from the Norse Sagas. The problem with Hirst’s depiction or representation of those accounts is that he often buries them so deeply within the  many storylines that they are not easily picked up on or apparent to the general viewer. Finding those factual events or accounts becomes a search for buried treasure… one which most people are not inclined to search for. Another result of his assurances is than many viewers will then take his word, his version of the story or event as the factual one. With historical fiction books, the authors will most often give some notes on the factual history, some evidence or reasoning for why they chose to go a certain direction with an event or historical figure. Unfortunately, with movies or television stories, this option or explanation is never readily available to the viewers. I do give Hirst credit for pointing out some of his reasons or his historical evidences in various interviews but it does still feel like he is stretching some of those historical boundaries.

 The show is promoted as having that historical value and I would hope that this next season reflects more of the historical accuracies that become more documented as they move into the next generation.  He has made assurances that stories such that of Rollo will reflect more of an accurate history… I really want to believe him and trust him on this but I am not sure how that will play out or how it will be based on well documented events of the time.  Along those lines of history are how he will deal with the events in England which are fairly well documented even though greatly biased on the side of the English. The question arises for me in that aspect is how much he will play with those events to suit his version of the story more than he already has? Will his version of events have that basis or root of accuracy once he moves on to the next generation of Ragnar’s sons and the Great Heathen Armies fighting against Alfred the Great for control of England? How much more will he have to alter the time line and the events to tell us the story of the Viking era?  Now, he is also bringing in the stories of Norway and King Harald Fairhair or Finehair as Hirst has labeled him… how will his story be altered to fit into Hirst’s story?  One mistake that I feel Hirst had made with this story is one that he as commented on as well. He has emphasized a number of times that this not the Ragnar Lothbrok story but a story of the entire Viking era. He has admitted that initially, his intent was to be finished with Ragnar’s portion after season one and then move on to the other stories. Instead, given the increased popularity of Travis Fimmel and the character of Ragnar, he has chosen to keep Ragnar’s personal story alive for what will be four seasons. He has invested so much time in telling Ragnar’s story that yes in some sense, it has become the adventures of Ragnar rather than the story of the Vikings. Fans are now so invested in that particular story that it will be extremely difficult for Hirst to make the transition needed to tell the rest of the stories.

Last Kingdom official artwork

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

I know that Hirst is trying to present us with an overall story of the Viking era and so far he has done well with it. I just feel like he may be stretching the limits and the story too far beyond the realms of plausibility, thereby removing the historical accuracy context and putting it into the realm of fantasy.  This move could result in many of those who watch it for it’s historical value to give up on it. Those who want something with a bit more of historical context or accuracy may find themselves drawn into the BBC America production of Last Kingdom. As I already suggested, if the production sticks close to Cornwell’s story, they will see what might be a more historically accurate portrayal of the events taking place in England during the battle between the Great Heathen armies and Alfred. They will also see a more condensed story of just one area, England, during that time frame rather than Hirst’s epic attempt to cover the entire scope of what was happening. For many viewers this may be preferable to  keep track of than the many stories that Hirst is trying to tell with the Vikings saga.

Cornwell’s version of the events of that time frame also have an advantage for those who want more historical accuracy in that he presents us with a fictional character from the start and weaves this character Uhtred of Bebbanberg into the events unfolding during that time. He does alter some timelines as necessary to fit Uhtred into the events but overall he makes every attempt to present the events and historical figures in ways that do not change or alter the actual history so much. He remains for the most part, well within the boundaries of historical fiction and does not veer off nearly so much into the alternate version of history that becomes more fantasy than history. And, to Cornwell’s credit, he gives excellent historical references in the author’s notes that are included in his books. Granted, you will not get those notes when watching the show but my suggestion would be… Read his books! Once the show begins in October, I will also attempt to sort it all out for you.  I am a huge fan of Cornwell’s version of this history so I am already drawn to it, looking forward to seeing it and praying that will not disappoint me!

As for our Vikings, as I’ve stated, I am a loyal fan with some concerns about the future. I will be waiting along with everyone else to see how this next season plays out as to it’s historical content and accuracy. Here is a list of things that I am hoping to see in this next season as far as it pertains to that history.

Rollo's destiny

Yes, Rollo will have to betray his Viking roots in some way in order to succeed at his goal of a great destiny in Normandy. Hirst and others have mentioned numerous times a final confrontation between him and Ragnar, along with another possible conquest of Paris where Bjorn may be put in a position of having to negotiate terms with Rollo despite his feelings that Rollo has betrayed them. My hope is that this negotiation includes some reflection or representation of  how Normandy eventually came to be on the side of the Vikings allowing them access to the Seine waterway to England, thereby eliminating their need to continuously raid Frankish settlements. Normandy and the Vikings benefited from this arrangement as Normandy received a share of the profits that those Vikings carried out of England. I want to see Rollo’s story of success and his legacy passed on to his two children.

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

Ragnar needs to return to England yes, he eventually needs to die there one way or another whether it be by the more traditional well known version of a snake pit and King Aelle, or by some other means. Most accounts would suggest it is by Aelle’s hand and as he already has his snake pit prepared, I can not see any other reason to include that snake pit other than as a pre-cursor to Ragnar’s death.  I think too that in order to get to the next generation some time soon, there will need to be another time jump somewhere in the next season… possibly toward the end as the finale? I can see that finale including Ragnar’s death and leading into the next season as being that of the next generation. With that in mind, Hirst needs to focus on tying up many of these current storylines in order to move on to that next generation!

Bjorn:  I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn needs to come fully into his own identity and his own story during this next season… One that does not necessarily involve him remaining connected to Ragnar or Kattegat. Historically, Bjorn Ironside seemed to have followed a separate path to his destiny as a King that was not tied to Ragnar.

kalf and lagertha

I want to know more about Kalf, what his back story is, what his future is… it feels to me like he is bound for some greatness of his own. Whether that greatness includes Lagertha remains to be seen. Since these both are more or less fictional/ legendary characters, Hirst should feel free to tell their story as he sees fit- I don’t have a problem with doing what you choose to or for fictional creations! It would be interesting to see if he in any way represents or has a character foundation based on some real historical figure…

no tears from torvi she is resolute she is viking

I want to know more about Torvi’s past, her back story. For some reason, I think it will become an important factor somewhere in the future? She may be a fictional character but I feel like she represents or may be based on someone of importance in Viking history. I want to know more of her story and that of the deceased Jarl Borg.  I think their son is more important than we realize yet.  As for her current husband, Erlandeur, my only thought is as always…why the Hell is he even still alive? Why has someone not killed him in secret already???

athelstan's punishment begins

Floki, ahhh Floki needs to escape, find his own safety and what ever destiny awaits him far far away from Ragnar… I’ll just leave it at that.

judith holds her own in this game of power

That pretty much leaves us with the events in England. Hirst needs to tie up all of the loose ends here and prepare the kingdoms and their residents for the future onslaught that will come from the Viking armies. Loose ends such as Kweni in Mercia with her son, Magnus who Hirst hints will be so important to the future storyline, loose ends such as Ecbert and his desire to take control of Mercia and then Northumbria allowing him to be supreme ruler of all the kingdoms, loose ends such as his son Athelwulf who is beginning to have plans of his own that may not include listening to Daddy Dearest, loose ends such as Judith who is caught in the middle right now between Father and son.  Hirst needs to put this all together, and wrap it up with some slight nod to actual history if that’s possible so that we can move on to next chapters of this Saga and begin to see more history without having to dig quite so hard for it.  I do not mind the treasure hunt for those factual bits, but at some point I would like to see it much closer to the surface rather than buried beneath so many layers of the story.

So, after all of these thoughts and commentary, the question remains… Is the Vikings Saga historical fiction or historical fantasy and does it really make a difference as long as it’s a good story? My personal thought is that at this point in it’s evolution, it falls more into the historical fantasy realm than into historical fiction. Despite all of Hirst’s assurances to the contrary and his insistence on it’s historical accuracies, I feel that he has taken too many liberties with the timeline and the historical characters involved for it to be taken too seriously in the historical context. He may have used historical documents and accounts as a starting point or basis but he has taken so much creative license with them that they are no longer clearly recognizable which takes away from the historical validity of the events. The only difference this makes is in the way we as viewers should watch it. It is an excellent story and for that reason, you should watch it for the story it tells- you should not take it at face value for any of it’s historical value but perhaps rather watch it as enjoyable historical fantasy… then please take some time to do your own research on the history of that time period! I will as always make my own attempt to help in that regard by sharing the results of my historical treasure hunting for well hidden or buried details!

 

 

 

 

TimeSlips: looking back and forward!

 

Timeslips cover

We’ve reached another huge milestone and once again it’s time to take a few moments to thank everyone who visits and travels through history with me! A few of you have been here since the beginning with me and I want you to know how much I appreciate your continued following through all of the paths we’ve taken in exploring history. Some of you arrived here via the Sims, where this all started, some made the journey through those mysterious Outlander Stones, and yet others have sailed in with the Vikings!  No matter how you have found us, many of you have chosen to stay on the journey.  I can not tell you how much it means to me, how much I appreciate your visits, your comments, questions, and your involvement in this site. I bid you all a gracious and heartfelt welcome and hope that you will continue to enjoy exploring the past with me!  As I mentioned, we have reached a personal milestone for me- 100,000 views! If you have been with me from the earliest beginnings, you will understand why this is such an amazing accomplishment for me.

I began this blog as a way to share my little fantasy world of the Sims 3, my builds, my characters and my stories within that context. One thing has been here since that initial beginning and that has been a life long love of history! I used that Sims platform to begin sharing my love of history, story telling and the weaving of those passions together. I am forever grateful to the Sims 3 for providing me with a basis to begin this journey!  If you look back in my archives, you will find the creations, the ideas and the stories that have led us to where we are today- in the middle of the Viking era with historical figures such as Ragnar, Rollo, King Ecbert, King Charles of France and others who will arrive in our future.

When I began building the castles and homes of history, I did it with the thought and premise that every building has a history filled with people, events and stories never told. I went on the idea that perhaps if one had such ability, they might be able to feel the vibrations, hear the sounds of that past and see the stories unfold in some way. Much of my early writing was a combination of building or renovation progress and the stories that came to life with that progress. I based it much on the way you might see it if you were renovating a historical building in real life. Each time you strip away a layer of paint or dust, you find a new layer, a new story of the past.

As I’ve mentioned, it all began with Sims 3, with castles, with royals, with history and fantasy woven together. Those creations, characters and stories were a huge part of  our beginnings here . While I have progressed from them, I have not forgotten them and I am proud of them. That early work enabled me to set a foundation for this blog that I have tried to keep in mind even today as I use other platforms such books and television to hopefully inspire and encourage you on your own explorations of history. My intent has always been to present history in a way that is interesting and captures your attention. I have always tried, from the beginning to present historical facts in a way that you might be curious enough to go off on your own search of history. In the past, I used the Sims 3 platform to weave together a long and ongoing look at history with a huge dose of fantasy… the Sims allowed me to explore that venue, that realm of vampires, fairies, witches and time travel and use them in telling the stories of the past. As I used that method, I always tried to incorporate actual events, facts and real life mysteries where ever possible along the way. Those early stories, while often fanciful did lead us through history from the present to the past and back again. Yes, I have taken a break from them, but as any writer can attest to, sometimes you need to step back, take a long break, and perhaps re-evaluate your work. The story remains in the background waiting for that time when you can return, re-focused with a clearer idea of where to go. That is where my story is… always in the back of my mind, always in my heart, waiting for that time when I can return to it and give it the proper attention and focus that it deserves!

In a way, my deviation and time away from the story is actually a way of doing more research into the past while keeping my original story and those characters that are now like a part of my family in mind. In some ways, the paths are always connected whether  or not you are ever aware of it. My mind continues to research, to piece together events and people together in relation to my beloved story of the past, the present and the future!

For those of you who have arrived later in the journey and have not searched this space for other bits of information, I can only suggest and hope that you take some time during your visits here to explore those other times, places and stories that are stored here! My archives have become a rather vast vault of time and history spanning from the earliest Roman history in Britain, to that now ever present Viking era that involves so much more than just the Vikings, it veers from tales and history of King Arthur to the mysteries of the princes of the tower. Our journey through time brought us to the world of Outlander, where we became lost in the Standing Stones and spent much time in the 1700s of Scotland and early America, and because of that trip, we found ourselves immersed in the world of the Vikings and early Saxon history! As a result, we are now on a journey through the early medieval period that includes those Vikings, Saxons, and everyone else in between that the Vikings influenced from the Frankish Empire to the creation of Normandy and the eventual battle for a united Kingdom of Britain, as well as future travels to Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and possibly even on to earliest explorations of North America.

So, how do my early stories of history still remain connected to this present path we are on?  Well, for that you need to take a look at some of those early stories and where my characters have been in the past. First of all, you may need a short summary of how their stories actually began with a fantasy called Royals Castle and a young woman named Eleanor Deguille… my first blog entries covered the beginnings of her story and her life. She began at Royals Castle, traveled through time to various points in history, arrived in the present and then travelled back again. Throughout her story, she met a number of historical figures, viewed some important events and, her story introduced us to some other important characters who had their own stories to tell.

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother's spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother’s spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

Eleanor’s story was the start of this blog! If you are interested, you can read those earliest beginnings here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/eleanors-journal-entries/

For another look at Eleanor and how her life is woven together within the threads of history and legends, you can read this story about the legends of Avalon, Melusine the Water Goddes and my interpretation of that legend as it shows up through history with people such as Henry VIII and his ancestors making claims to being descended from Arthur and even Melusine! Melusine is a legend or tale that has it’s origins in early France, mainly Poitou, the low countries, and Normandy! She was often referred to as the  fairy of Normandy, or Bretagne. Connecting Eleanor to this legend gave her a more solid connection to the history of France.

Avalon cover1

Arthur and Vivianne

Arthur and Vivianne

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/melusinas-story-a-royals-link-to-avalon/

Eleanor Deguille’s mysterious life eventually connected her to the beginnings of tales of Britain, Romans  and a man named Arthur… that is was where her life, her time travel and her story began. While her story and the rest of it is steeped in the fantasy of those Vampires, Witches, Fairies and time travel, it is woven together with those real events of history. Eleanor’s story took her from that early beginning in the fairy tale realm of British history to the 1400s and 1500s of France, England and Scotland. In those earliest beginnings we met a man named Eric North. Eric’s story is just as important as Eleanor’s and it is a connecting point for that earliest time in Britain’s history. Eric’s story begins in the present day, and then goes on to tell the story of the earliest migrations of the Norse to areas of Northern Britannia as it was known then by the Romans who inhabited the isle. Eric began his life in one of the far off North places and made a journey by sea as a young child with his family to a place now known as the Isle of Skye on the coast of Scotland. He spent his youth growing up in that place which would eventually become Dunvegan Castle.  I used this place and this Castle as the setting for Eric’s birthplace and ancestral home because of it’s rich ties to early Viking history as well as it’s stories of such mythical things as the Fairie Flag. It’s location also lent itself well to making it plausible as a place that some of those earliest travelers might have made their way to. I have always attempted to make those  connections where ever possible when weaving together the fantasy and the history.

You can read part of Eric’s story here:

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

Eric in the Castle Eric's final farewell to loved ones

While Eric’s character and story are that of the fantasy realm, his story does make the connections from that earliest migration of the Norse, their settling in this new unknown place and their eventual plausible meetings with the Romans who were attempting to advance from the southern portions of Britannia into the northern portions which were already inhabited by groups such these ancient Norse and Picts…  Eric’s story tells of the rich history  those northern regions now known as Scotland. His story presents the earliest known legends and theories that go back as far as Egyptian migrations to that area!

You can find more of the ancient history of  the Romans and the Norse migration here:

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

This early post explains some of the theories and thoughts on possible Egyptian migration to Ireland and Scotland!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/from-the-creator-historical-information/

As to why I chose the Isle of Skye for the setting, you can read that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/from-the-creator-some-historical-background/

If you go back and read some of these early posts, I think you will see how Eric came to play such an important part in my story, how he sort of took over the story with his life and his story and why he remains such an important connection for me on my path through history which has landed me in this time of the Vikings and kept me here for so long!

 

All of those early stories of history have led us to where we are right now, exploring the real history of all of those people that Michael Hirst and other creators/authors introduce us to! One such important person is Rollo, who we have seen claw his way out of the shadows and darkness of his early life to put himself on the path to his own fame and dynasty.

 

Portrait of Rollo's destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art. 600px-Cronological_tree_william_I_svg

William the Conqueror AKA William I

Recently, I began reading a book about our Viking, Rollo’s descendant, William the Conqueror and was rather surprised to find a mention of the Fairie Flag in it. The Fairie Flag is one of those relics of Dunvegan Castle that I originally found so intriguing when researching a past for my character,  Eric.

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

fairy_flag_2

http://fairyroom.com/2013/01/fairy-flag-of-dunvegen/

More information on the history of Scotland, Clans, Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Flag can be found in this early post:

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

Now, as I mentioned, the book I was reading was about William the Conqueror and Normandy so I was immediately puzzled and curious about this  reference to the Fairy Flag. The book is  The Lion and the Rose: William Rising by Hilary Rhodes. It is the first book in a series about William, his history and his conquest of England. Yes, it is historical fiction, but it is extremely well researched and I think it presents a great picture of the man and his path to the Crown of England. The author presents and provides some excellent resources and references as well as weaving together an interesting story!

http://www.amazon.com/Lion-Rose-Book-One-William-ebook/dp/B00L4K5GKE/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1433189138&sr=1-3&keywords=the+lion+and+the+rose

Fairie flag and Robert of Normandy

In the beginning of the book, William’s Father, Robert the Magnificent or Robert the Devil, travels to the Byzantine Empire where he meets the Empress Zoe, who shares a foreshadowing, a prophecy of his future with him. That prophecy is a bit of a puzzle for readers to decipher throughout the book or books. I found it interesting, intriguing and of course I had to go in search of answers!  The prophecy states: The fighting man and the wyvern and the fairie flag, all will come, and all will give battle, but it is the lion that reaches for the roots. I can not see the end of that. I can not see if it will be enough. The deepest roots can be ripped free. And there is a great ripping to come, aye.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_I,_Duke_of_Normandy

In attempting to make sense of this puzzle, there is one other piece of information that shows up on the same page and is an important clue. This bit of information ultimately gives us the answer to the puzzle of the Fairie Flag and links the entire story and history of Dunvegan Castle to that of the Vikings. That clue is found in the mention of one Harald Sigurdsson… otherwise known  as Harald Hardrada!

Harald_Hardrada_window_in_Kirkwall_Cathedral_geograph_2068881

Harald Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (harðráði, roughly translated as “stern counsel” or “hard ruler”) in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Prior to becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus’ and in the Byzantine Empire.

When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the Battle of Stiklestad together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king Cnut the Great two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced in exile to Kievan Rus’ (the sagas’ Garðaríki). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to Constantinople with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and saw action on the Mediterranean Sea, in Asia Minor, Sicily, possibly in the Holy Land, Bulgaria and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kievan Rus’ for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kievan Rus’ in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald’s knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf’s illegitimate son Magnus the Good.

In 1046, Harald joined forces with Magnus’s rival in Denmark (Magnus had also become king of Denmark), the pretender Sweyn Estridsson, and started raiding the Danish coast. Magnus, unwilling to fight his uncle, agreed to share the kingship with Harald, since Harald in turn would share his wealth with him. The co-rule ended abruptly the next year as Magnus died, and Harald thus became the sole ruler of Norway. Domestically, Harald crushed all local and regional opposition, and outlined the territorial unification of Norway under a national governance. Harald’s reign was probably one of relative peace and stability, and he instituted a viable coin economy and foreign trade. Probably seeking to restore Cnut’s “North Sea Empire“, Harald also claimed the Danish throne, and spent nearly every year until 1064 raiding the Danish coast and fighting his former ally, Sweyn. Although the campaigns were successful, he was never able to conquer Denmark. Not long after renouncing his claim to Denmark, the former Earl of Northumbria, Tostig Godwinson, brother of the newly chosen English king Harold Godwinson, pledged his allegiance to Harald and invited him to claim the English throne. Harald went along and entered Northern England in September 1066, raided the coast and defeated English regional forces in the Battle of Fulford near York. Although initially successful, Harald was defeated and killed in an attack by Harold Godwinson’s forces in the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Modern historians have often considered Harald’s death at Stamford Bridge, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the Viking Age. Harald is also commonly held to have been the last great Viking king, or even the last great Viking.

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

 

Harald Hardrada could be considered as the fighting man of the prophecy, but what connection would that have in relation to the other parts, such as the Fairie Flag of Dunvegan Castle?  What does the Fairie Flag or Dunvegan have to do with this at all? Well, for that, you need to know the history of Dunvegan Castle, and the theories on the origins of the Fairie flag!

dunvegan8

Dunvegan Castle

dunvegan3

Dunvegan Castle2

 

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/from-the-creator-history-of-dunvegan-castle/

Although three individual Chiefs in the last seven generations have been comprehensively ruined by the apocalyptic difficulties caused by the unrelenting hostility from centralised government towards the Clan system practised behind the Highland line, they have remained faithful to the Rock. Dunvegan Castle is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in Northern Scotland, having been occupied by the Chiefs of MacLeod continuously, for over seven centuries and still today remaining the Ancestral home of the present chief, Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, the 30th of the line, and his family.

Geneologies trace the origins of the McClures and the MacLeods to a thirteenth century fellow named Leod (1200-1283), the son of Olaf the Black, King of the Isle of Man, who in turn was the descendent of the eleventh century Norse King Harald Hardrada. Leod married Lady Macarailt, an heiress to Dunvegan, the birth of their two sons (Tormond and Torquil) marking the entry of the MacLeods into Dunvegan and the pages of history. Very simply, “Mac” is a Gaelic word meaning “son of” with Tormond fathering the MacLeods of Harris, and Torquil begetting the MacLeods of Lewis. (Incidentally, the McClure’s are the descendents of Tormond.)

 As to the theories on the Fairie Flag…  Legends, however fantastic or far-fetched they may appear to be, are rarely without some trace of historical fact. When a relic survives to tell its own story, that at least is one fact it is impossible to ignore. The precious Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, the most treasured possession of the Clan, is just such a relic …The traditional tales about its origin, some of them very old indeed, have two themes – Fairies and Crusaders. Fairy stories are difficult to relate to fact; they often occur as a substitute for forgotten truth. The connection with the Crusades can, however, be linked to the only definite information available as to the origin of the Fairy Flag – the fabric, thought once to have been dyed yellow, is silk from the Middle East (Syria or Rhodes); experts have dated it between the 4th and 7th centuries A.D., in other words, at least 400 years before the First Crusade. So was it the robe of an early christian saint? Or the war banner of Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, killed in 1066, or did it emerge mysteriously from some grassy knoll in Skye? The Legends are all we have to guide us to the answer.

So, there is our connection between Harald Hardrada, the Fairie Flag and Dunvegan Castle! Harald’s connection to the prophecy and to William the Conqueror is that he was one of the fighting men attempting to lay claim to the crown of England at the same time as William. He felt he also had a valid claim and chose to fight Harald Godwinsson for it. It is sometimes thought that his battle with Harald brought about the end of the Viking age, and the end of Harald’s rule of England as well. Harald Godwinsson and his forces defeated Harald Hardrata at the  Battle of Stamford Bridge but did not have time to recover fully before having to turn around and face William and his army at Hastings. The forces were well evenly matched and the battle was close. It is thought that had Godwinsson’s army been better rested and recovered from the previous battle with Hardrada, they would probably have been victorious in the battle of Hastings.

There is one  bit of information on Harald Hardrada that should be of interest to all of us who are waiting for the next raiding season of the Vikings Saga to arrive…

Harald Hardrada was a descendant and a member of the Fairhair/Finehair dynasty of Norway. A member of that dynasty is rumored to be arriving on our Viking shores soon! One Harald Finehair and brother, Halfdan the Black will be showing up as rivals and threats to Ragnar.

peter franzen4

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/vikings-season-4-coming-soon-to-a-village-near-you/

Harald Fairhair (Old Norse: Haraldr Hárfagri, Norwegian: Harald Hårfagre; c. 850 – c. 932) was remembered by medieval historians as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Most of his life remains uncertain, since the extant accounts of his life in the sagas were set down in writing around three centuries after his lifetime. A few remnants of skaldic praise poems attributed to contemporary court poets exist which seem to refer to Harald’s victories against opponents in Norway. The information supplied in these poems is inconsistent with the tales in the sagas in which they are transmitted, and the sagas themselves often disagree on the details of his background and biography.  Two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald to become kings after his death.

Harald_Hardrada_saga_ancestry

A last bit of interesting information on Harald Hardrada…. it seems that there has been some effort and attempt being made to make a bio-pic movie about his life. I just recently came across a few articles regarding the possibility of Leonardo DeCaprio producing and starring in such a movie. The articles are a bit dated though and I have heard nothing else about such a project. I am curious about it  and wonder if it is still going forward…. With all of interest now in Viking history, I would think it might do well!

http://www.slashfilm.com/leonardo-dicaprio-producing-and-could-star-in-viking-film-king-harald/

 

This battle for the crown of England was  much a case of family disputes and feuds over who had right or claim to that crown. Harald Hardrada had a claim based on his link to the previous ruler, Harthacanut of Denmark and England but realistically he had a very weak claim at best. Harald Godwinsson had no real claim either, the only with any true justifiable blood claim to the crown was indeed William the Conqueror, who was at least a blood relative- even though distant- of King Edward. So, in this sense, William would end up digging deep into the family roots and toppling all to claim the crown. The only other person with a better and legitimate blood claim was unfortunately a young boy with no hope of winning any battle for the crown.

The one other part of the prophecy that we have not mentioned yet is the wyvern.

A wyvern (/ˈwvərn/ WEYE-vərn), sometimes spelled wivern, is a legendary winged creature with a dragon‘s head and wings; a reptilian body; two legs; and a barbed tail.

The wyvern in its various forms is important to heraldry, frequently appearing as a mascot of schools and athletic teams (chiefly in the United States and United Kingdom). It is a popular creature in European and British literature, video games, and modern fantasy. The wyvern is often (but not always) associated with cold weather and ice, and it will sometimes possess a venomous bite or have the ability to breathe fire. The wyvern is a frequent charge in English heraldry and vexillology, also occasionally appearing as a supporter or crest.

In regards to it’s mention in the prophecy, a wyvern is used as symbol in one very  important place.  The Wyvarn is depicted as the symbol of Wessex, the home of Ecbert and his descendents including Alfred the Great and on to Edward the Confessor who left the future rule of England in such dispute and question that his witan/council even went so far as to search for a long exiled and hidden heir residing in Hungary!

After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, Canute had the sons of Edward’s half brother Edmund Ironside, Edward said to be only a few months old, and his brother, Edmund, sent to the Swedish court of Olof Skötkonun  (who was either Canute’s half-brother or stepbrother), supposedly with instructions to have the children murdered. Instead, the two boys were secretly sent either to Kiev, where Olof’s daughter Ingigerd was the Queen, or to Poland, where Canute’s uncle Bolesław I Chrobry was duke.  Later Edward made his way to Hungary, probably in the retinue of Ingigerd’s son-in-law, András in 1046, whom he supported in his successful bid for the Hungarian throne. Many years later when it became apparent that King Edward and his wife Edyth were not going to produce and heir, a search for any missing heirs ensued and Edward the exile was found in Hungary.

On hearing the news of his being alive, Edward the Confessor recalled him to England in 1056 and made him his heir. Edward offered the last chance of an undisputed succession within the Saxon royal house. News of Edward’s existence came at a time when the old Anglo-Saxon Monarchy, restored after a long period of Danish domination, was heading for catastrophe. The Confessor, personally devout but politically weak and without children, was unable to make an effective stand against the steady advance of the powerful and ambitious sons of Godwin, Earl of Wessex. From across the Channel William, Duke of Normandy, also had an eye on the succession. Edward the Exile appeared at just the right time. Approved by both king and by the Witan, the Council of the Realm, he offered a way out of the impasse, a counter both to the Godwinsons and to William, and one with a legitimacy that could not be readily challenged.

Edward, who had been in the custody of Henry III, the Holy Roman Emperor, finally came back to England at the end of August 1057. But he died within two days of his arrival. The exact cause of Edward’s death remains unclear, but he had many powerful enemies, and there is a strong possibility that he was murdered, although by whom is not known with any certainty. It is known, though, that his access to the king was blocked soon after his arrival in England for some unexplained reason, at a time when the Godwinsons, in the person of Harold, were once again in the ascendant. This turn of events left the throne of England to be disputed by Earl Harold and Duke William, ultimately leading to the Norman Conquest of England.  Edward the exile did leave an heir, a young boy- Edgar the Aetheling who was immediately made heir apparent or Atheling. When Edward died, the boy, a young teen at the time was too young to successfully wage a fight for the crown or win any war that was certain to follow. The council feared being taken over again by outsiders waiting for a chance to claim England so they chose instead to elect Harald Godwinsson to the rule. Edgar eventually found asylum in Scotland with Malcom III, who had married Edgar’s sister Margaret.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_the_%C3%86theling

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

Wessex is often symbolised by a wyvern or dragon.

Both Henry of Huntingdon and Matthew of Westminster talk of a golden dragon being raised at the Battle of Burford in AD 752 by the West Saxons. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts a fallen golden dragon, as well as a red/golden/white dragon at the death of King Harold II, who was previously Earl of Wessex. However, dragon standards were in fairly wide use in Europe at the time, being derived from the ensign of the Roman cohort, and there is no evidence that it identified Wessex.

 

800px-Flag_of_Wessex_svg

Wyvern on early flag of Wessex

 

Why is any of this important in relation to where we’re at now in history with the Viking age?  It is extremely important because the Vikings of our Vikings saga as presented by Michael Hirst, and hopefully soon the onscreen version of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles, will soon move on to the next years, the next era of the Viking history that includes so much more than just the story of Ragnar Lodbrok and his adventures. We will soon be traveling to the time when Ragnar’s sons and so many others make their own marks and contributions to history. We will see the beginning of Rollo’s great dynasty in Normandy take shape, we will see Ecbert’s grandson, Alfred the Great will take his place in history. The battles for land and claims to kingdoms will begin in earnest and we will witness all of it. As we do, I will continue to help weave the history and the stories together, and perhaps one of these days, I will even find time and inspiration to return to some of my original stories.  I hope that all of you will remain on the journey with me and enjoy all of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Our arrival in Wessex causes much gossip!

Ok, first of all forgive me… I had hoped to write this earlier but I am afraid that I am not feeling so much like a hale and hearty Dane right now? I hate to admit of this, but I am feeling a bit under the weather and I fear this place has something to do with my current ailment. I have become so used to the generally crisp clean air of our Danemark that I had forgotten how truly horrendous and foul a place… and people can smell? Please forgive me if I sound off putting or rude to those of you who are Saxons by birth or ancestry, but this place smells awful! This  village is over full of people and animals all crammed together in one small space. It reeks of midden piles too close to living quarters, of waste both animal and human, and I do not know of when it might have been since some of these people have bathed. What ever happened to the oft repeated phrase, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness?”  Apparently, that phrase has not been coined or made so popular yet.  This is one great difference between our people and these Saxons. For the most part, we are a clean lot. Perhaps it is because we do not have such odd fear of water as these people seem to? We live near water- lakes and rivers cover our landscape… And, we make use of it. It is nothing uncommon for us to swim or to bathe in the rivers or lakes as often as need be. It astounds me that these people who also have access to lakes, to rivers, to the sea for some of them, would have such aversion to immersing themselves in it on some regular basis.  I pray to the Gods that we finish our preparations here quickly and can leave the overwhelming stench of this village! On a personal thought, all I can think is no wonder disease and plague spread so quickly. I want to be away from all of these people and Gods knows what germs they may spread.

Our arrival has caused a whirlwind of gossip and curiosity from the people here as well as suspicions and resentments. Of course, the women here all profess to be in fear of us and our men, but I can see that they also eye our men with something other than fear. I have to say that our men have been behaving themselves well for the most part? They are too busy making preparations for the coming battle they fight for that witch, Princess Kwentirith… I do have my own personal suspicions of her and I am not alone in my feelings. I know that there is most likely much more going on here than we are being told of, something does not feel right about this entire situation and I hold her liable for what ever schemes are being plotted without our knowledge. That said and set aside, I will say that our warriors are feeling some excitement about the fight even if it is not really our fight to be part of? They have been cooped up for too long and any excuse for a fight is looked forward to by them right now! I do need to add too that besides the fighting, some of them do look for free and honest women to pass some time with… Most of the women who have made this journey are wives and family- not ones who are willing or interested in sharing their beds or bodies with all of the men! So, the men’s eyes do wander to these Saxon women who may be of easy virtue and who seem more than willing to share their bodies, whether they would admit it openly or not! There are always willing women where ever one travels to and our men generally are not in the habit or liking of the idea of forcing a woman. Yes, I know of what future rumors will say about our men forcing themselves on women but it is not true. There are always those kinds of men in any society who would take enjoyment from abusing women, so our men have been put in much bad light for the sake of making some other group look better when it is simply not the case!  Our men are deeply offended by the thought that they would take such great pleasure or enjoyment from the abuse and rape of women. As I have said, for one thing- there are always women to be found anywhere you go, there is no pleasure or enjoyment to be found in forcing oneself on an unwilling person. No, that form of abuse has nothing to do with pleasure but all to do with power and control.

Our men are fine ones, respectful of women, courteous and usually well mannered in their interactions with women. They have no need to force themselves upon any woman, in fact they often have the problem of  avoiding women who are too willing and too desired of wanting them! And, if we are to be honest, there are many women who would take advantage of their kind hearts… there are also women who would lie and deceive, women who would willingly enjoy favor with men and then if found out, would claim they were forced? We all know of such women.

 

Now, as to rumors and gossip surrounding us here… much of that gossip pertains to the one person who we would think should cause none? Our friend Athelstan the priest is at the center of this gossip. Athelstan is normally the least likely man that any of us would assume there should be interest or curiosity about! For some reason though, he has attracted much attention from various virtuous religious ones here. It all has to do with the fact that he is or was a Christian monk, one of  God’s holiest of men, has turned against God and become Pagan, and yet carries a mark from God upon his hand.  During his last visit here, he was tortured by these “Godly” men, crucified by those Priests, and now his hand bears a scar that does not heal. I have looked at his hand, and I am as mystified as anyone else? I am not one for such mystical and religious miracles. I have tried to put it down to some more basic scientific or medical reason for the wound not healing completely, but even I do wonder at it?

I know you too well you can not hide anything

I know you too well you can not hide anything

The most important thing you must remember about this time is that anything unexplainable is looked on with great fear and is directly attributed to God, or the Gods… for every culture tried to explain such things in the same ways. They were signs from the Gods, or from the one God. Sometimes it would be looked on favorably and considered a miracle or a gift, other times it would be looked at as a bad omen? It really depended on the person and the situation at the time? It also depended on anything that happened in relation to such occurrence? Say such sign preceded a traumatic event, then of course that sign was in retrospect, a bad omen. If the sign were related to a good event happening, then it was a miracle, a sign that God was pleased.  I am much worried for Athelstan right now in that this sign on him could easily go either way? If good things happen to those believers around him, he will be put on a pedestal and worshiped. If bad things happen, then he will be a marked man doomed to be slain by those who believe that God has marked him in anger… either way, it will not go well for our Athelstan if this wound does not heal itself.

In this time of  religious zeal, frenzy and ultimate devotion, Athelstan is the ultimate prize for those seeking a closer contact or ear to God. I do not think that he really has any idea yet how dangerous his situation could become.  One of those devout and fevered Christians is none other than Aethelwulf’s wife, Judith. Aethelwulf is himself, a devoutly religious man who deems Athelstan as a traitor to their God. From the time of Athelstan’s arrival back here, the Lady Judith has been ever watching him and Aethelwulf is not happy about this.

For my own personal reasons, I feel need to make friends with Judith… I think she can be my best way of visiting the Wilton Abbey? I am quite sure she would know well of it and could help me in my quest to gain admittance or entry there. You see, it is such a small and private Abbey right now that one would need some connection or referral from a well placed Noble to visit or eventually seek sanctuary there if need be. I am sure that if I work this right, I can get her to take me there on the premise of making contribution to their good works.  I must be careful though in my endeavor for I do plan to take advantage of her infatuation with Athelstan. I do not want to put him at more risk than necessary and hope this plan does not completely backfire on me or him!  I must also be careful in my visit of the place… I do not want to remain there right now and they may be quite forceful in attempts to convert me to their ways and keep me there. A comment from Rollo recently reminds me to use caution and not remain there at this time. We were speaking of this upcoming battle and he in jest mentioned that he should not like to return and find that I had indeed run off to one of these places? He was jesting only in part, and grew more serious in his added reply that should I find myself hiding away in such a place, he would feel need to remove me from there, by what ever force necessary!  I do fear that such an event be the start of an even greater battle, a religious war that is not a part of this history. I do not want that on my conscience!  I worry too why Rollo would feel such need to “rescue” me? When I broached that subject, he simply said, “As you once told Siggy, that is not a place for you!” I left it at that as I did not want to go any deeper into such discussion with him. His reason was that he considered me a good friend and he would not see me shut myself away from the world in such a way. It had nothing to do with any kind of deeper relationship between us which we both know is not possible.  I laughed it all off and reassured him that I would give him fair warning should I ever decide on this choice. I also had to make known the fact that I was well aware of his recent interests in all the fine women of Wessex and other places… He did look a bit sheepish at this and said that he must find ways to entertain himself and forget the heartaches. I understand this and do not hold any of it against him.

rollo's way of setting up dates

I said nothing then… I understood his bitterness and his anger at Siggy but I did know that he would not forget his feelings for her. So, as any good friend would do, I simply added her name to the list of women vying for his favors!

 

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

As the men busied themselves with their battle plans, I put my own plans into motion with much trepidation. This could all go so badly and I would forever feel guilt if I were the cause for anything happening to Athelstan. It was all quite easy and I placated myself, justified my actions in that the Lady Judith would have eventually made her move on Athelstan anyway even had I not intervened? All I really had to do was put myself near to her and casually strike up conversation about Athelstan with her. She could not resist the temptation to speak more with him. So, all I did was point her in his direction… and was rewarded with her undying gratitude!

lady Judith enters and makes her play for Athelstan in a chastely religious manner

lady Judith enters and makes her play for Athelstan in a chastely religious manner

Anything that would happen as a result of this meeting is upon them, not me!

I wanted to wish you and your people good fortune

I wanted to wish you and your people good fortune

If it's not true that you bear a stigmata of Christ then why not show me your hand

Judith can't resist grabbing his hand to see such a religious sign

Judith can’t resist grabbing his hand to see such a religious sign

it is true!

it is true!

kissing athelstan's hand in utter reverence and devotion

kissing athelstan’s hand in utter reverence and devotion

 

now judith will be enraptured with this saintly man marked by god

now judith will be enraptured with this saintly man marked by god

trying to regain her composure

trying to regain her composure

I will admit that even I was a little surprised by her reaction… I thought she might pass out right there from her dazed frenzy of having touched and kissed the hand of one she felt was chosen by God!

 

Athelstan's first groupie

She was so overtaken by the experience that I think she forgot everything else… including her husband, who was not happy, to say the very least!

aethelwulf can not compete with one who could be marked as a future saint

aethelwulf can not compete with one who could be marked as a future saint

fare thee well husband go save the world while I stay here with my religious treasure

fare thee well husband go save the world while I stay here with my religious treasure

wait patiently for my return

wait patiently for my return… have you forgotten you have a husband and a son!

you are my wife

you are my wife

There take that you pagan priest

There take that you pagan priest! She is my wife!

I am so sorry Athelstan… I hope that at least you will find some joy in this situation before it all goes badly?

Now the other situation which is causing much rumour, I had nothing at all do with! I watched it unfold along with everyone else at that feast and was as surprised as anyone at this next infatuation? from the moment King Ecbert laid eyes upon Lagertha, he was as he admitted, completely infatuated with her. I do not necessarily trust him any more than I trust anyone else here and I have my worries as to where this will lead. I do think that Lagertha is a strong and capable woman though and would see through any games he might attempt to play? I would hope she will not be overly dazzled by his charm and will not fall for any trap him might try to ensnare her in. But, on the brighter side, Lagertha does deserve a bit of fun, some enjoyment of life’s pleasures and she should see the advantage of having this man on her side rather than against her or us…

Yes I am King so what?

Yes I am King so what?

well at least Lagertha looks happy about his presence

well at least Lagertha looks happy about his presence

she is unlike any woman I have ever met

I am infatuated with her

I am infatuated with her

Lagertha is impressed at least a little

Lagertha is impressed at least a little

We all made our way to the land which Ecbert had promised and it was a glorious sight!

travel to the new land

travel to the new land

As we came to our new home, I was excited like everyone else, but something deeply troubled me. This was rich farmland, that had once been occupied. There were farms and homes already here… where had those people gone? Had they been forced out of their homes, off from this wealth of land for us? If so, I could well understand the bitterness and hatred from some of those in the village! What had happened to the previous residents, what had Ecbert done to them in order to provide us with this bounty.  There was an underlying fear in my heart now.

the new land all the way to the horizon with many farms that need to be worked

the new land all the way to the horizon with many farms that need to be worked

Ecbert made vows and promises of peace between us all but, could or would he keep that peace if all of those previous land holders were so intent on breaking it? How would we have felt… how did we feel when during that time in Kattegat when our lands, our homes were taken from us. Did we sit back and allow someone, such as Jarl Borg or King Horik to take our homes and our land from us. Is not this a similar situation for such people here who may have been displaced to give the lands to us?

he wants us to live in peace here

he wants us to live in peace here

 

While we journeyed to this new land and this trouble brewing, our men journeyed into their own trouble!

travel to battle

They headed into a battle for the strange princess Kwentirith… This woman was no shieldmaiden and was completely unprepared for the battle that would pit our men against her brother and her Uncle. She spent much of journey dancing and celebrating in her own bizarre fashion!

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

That is not to say the men did not enjoy the spectacle but, could any of them really take this woman seriously? One who was not amused by any of it was Aethelwulf, who voiced his disgust and his concerns to his personal Priest!

being the good christian that he is Aethelwulf goes nowhere without his personal priest

being the good christian that he is Aethelwulf goes nowhere without his personal priest

What they sailed into felt more like a battle set up to defeat them from all sides. They were unprepared to meet armies on both sides of the river, and were taken by surprise.

the first arrow of attack from out of nowhere

Our men felt as though they had sailed into a trap… one set by the scheming Princess Kwentirith. Ragnar was understandably furious with this turn of events and showed his growing mistrust of Kwentirith.

she's obviously hiding something she's uneasy talking about her uncle

she’s obviously hiding something she’s uneasy talking about her uncle

tell me about your uncle

is that your brother?

is that your brother?

 

 

 

 

I love him my brother bergrid but he has been taken in by my uncle's schemes

I love him my brother bergrid but he has been taken in by my uncle’s schemes

Having no choice now, the men determined their best odds and set about winning this uneven battle. Their anger and feelings of betrayal spurred them into fighting even harder to win!

Besides his anger at the general situation they were in, his distaste of Kwentirith and his extreme frustration, Ragnar was even less happy about some of his own warriors, namely his son Bjorn and Bjorn’s wife Porunn. It was rather obvious that he did not approve of Porunn’s being there in the first place and then when she placed herself in the middle of the battle and Bjorn became so distracted and felt need to keep her safe, well Ragnar’s disgust clearly showed on his face!

ragnar sees bjorn with porunn and is really pissed

ragnar sees bjorn with porunn and is really pissed

porunn holds her own

porunn holds her own

porunn is right in the middle of the fiercest fighting

porunn is right in the middle of the fiercest fighting

now she struggles to hold her own in the fighting

now she struggles to hold her own in the fighting

pulling porrun out of danger

pulling porrun out of danger

nope, ragnar is not happy about porrun

nope, ragnar is not happy about porrun

It was a fierce and bloody battle that took it’s toll and they barely managed to survive and win that day!

Bjorn becomes distracted in fear for her bjorn does well in the battle break the damn arrow and keep fighting floki gets to uncle first

In the end, they were victorious… and Kwentirith’s uncle was taken down by an enraged Floki! They succeeded that day, but none trusted Kwentirith and no one knows yet what the consequences or the cost of this battle will be other than more battles for these Christians and death for our men.

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: On to Wessex, season premiere review part 2 of 3

Ok… I had originally planned to do this in two parts, but it has turned into three? So, here is part two- our arrival in Wessex and the feast that changed our entire plan for this voyage!

Part one: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/22/vikings-a-long-awaited-voyage-part-one-of-season-3-premiere-review/

 

Our ships set sail and we were bound for Wessex.  Some might wonder, “Just where exactly is Wessex?”  Many of our voyagers were confused about that as well.  I would oft hear asked questions asked regarding this. Were we going to Angle Land or were we going to Wessex? People would scratch their heads over this puzzle so often that I sat down with Athelstan and we tried to explain as best we could how Wessex was a part of Angle land but still it’s own kingdom with Ecbert as it’s ruler. We would be settling on land that was given by Ecbert within his kingdom so that should mean that once settled there, we would fall under Ecbert’s rule.

640px-England_Great_Army_map_svg NewMap871

Wessex was one of four main kingdoms of that Angle land. There was Wessex, Mercia, East Anglia, and North Umbria. North Umbria was where our men went that first time they came to Angle land and landed at Lindesfarne.  That kingdom was far to the north of  Wessex. Now we would be going to the southern part of Angle land.

History of Wessex

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

Kings and Queens of Wessex, Timeline of Wessex  http://www.historic-uk.com/HistoryUK/HistoryofEngland/Kings-Queens-of-Wessex/

 

As we made our voyage, I had my own questions for Athelstan about Wessex and some places that I was sure would be near to us.  As many grew suspicious and wondered why I would know about this land, I made explanation of having traveled for a time with my brother on his trading missions. Most people were so  excited about their own journey that they took me at my word and did not concern themselves further with my history.  I had with me some other small maps which I shared with Athelstan and asked him of the locations which I was interested in.

StonehengeMap wessexmap1_21

Athelstan had traveled during his time as a monk, so I was sure he might have knowledge of Stonehenge? It would be within our kingdom and I might be able to travel there if need be… I wanted to assure myself that should I need to return to the present day, I would know of locations near to me.  Tis always best to keep these facts in mind when traveling!

The other place that I was interested in and much curious about, for historical purposes only, was one Wilton Abbey located at Wiltshire or Wilton. My excitement in coming to this land was the fact that we were traveling to which was the beginnings of such important history for England. This place, Wessex, and Ecbert’s descendants would be key to the future of the country. I could hardly contain myself, I wanted to see all of it and pondered on how I might accomplish such a thing? But, that was thought for some other time, right now I must stick to the most important things, like getting through this journey!

For the present time, I would content myself with the few bits of information that I could easily glean from conversation with Athelstan. I asked him about Wilton Abbey, and yes of course he knew of it. He did give me a puzzled look when I spoke of it and asked me how I would know of it? I had to tell him quietly that he was not the only one torn by the differences in beliefs. I shared with him that once upon a time in my earliest life I had been taught of his religion and his beliefs. Those beliefs were and are still a guide post for me in my spiritual life but I have come to accept that there are many ways and paths to God. We let it go at that and he continued his knowledge of Wilton.  Wilton Abbey was a Benedictine convent in Wiltshire, England, three miles from Salisbury on the site now occupied by Wilton House. A first foundation was made as a college of secular priests by Wulfstan, Ealdorman of Wiltshire, about 773, but after his death (802) was changed into a convent for twelve nuns by his widow, Saint Alburga, sister of Egbert of Wessex.  He stated that as far as he knew, it was a small convent of not much significance. He wondered why I should be so interested in it? Well, I could hardly tell him the truth, which was that it would become very important and significant in the future. And, that future would begin with Ecbert’s son, Aethelwulf.  So, I made mention that I had heard of it from a merhant’s daughter on a trip to Angle land with my brother Gunnar when I was young. I told him that I had a small amount of silver set aside that I should like to contribute to them. That portion was the truth. Though I am not Catholic, nor much of any religion for that matter, I do hold to some remnants of belief and faith. For some reason, I felt a need to see Wilton and make my own small offering to their future. Truth be told, I was also thinking ahead as well to other options I might need to make use of in the future should anything go wrong. 

Rollo and I had once made jest of the idea of me retiring to a convent… Well, the fact was that it was an option that I must consider and plan ahead for if  I should ever need a place of safety or sanctuary? Many Christian women used the convent as their option for escape or safety and not just as a place of holy worship to God. It was in general, one place you could seek sanctuary in and could not be removed from. As a safe haven, Wilton was my best option. It was within Wessex, and it was protected by King Ecbert himself. As far as my goodwill donation to them, that would open their doors to me… I had another amount of silver safely set aside to pay for my admittance to their cloistered life. You see, it was not free to become a nun or have their protection. No, it was in all reality, quite expensive- that is how they made their profits, by charging a high price to become one of them.  One must pay a goodly amount, the amount equal to a Bride’s dowery to be accepted into their convents. It would also help to have a skill that they regarded in high esteem… of those skills I had a few important ones. I could read, write and I could sew! Ohhh, it was not just plain sewing which they looked for, anyone could do that reasonably. They looked for ones who could do fine needle work with intricate detail. That talent I did have. I learned it from Grandmother when I was very young and somehow, I knew it would be valuable to me one day? 

Women in these times had little control over their lives. Some women truly did have a calling and a devotion to serving their God, some were sent to convents as punishment or as a way for their families to rid themselves of an unwanted wife or unmarriageable daughter. There were some women who were offered to the church much as a son would be offered to the priesthood- this had little to do with whether they had a true calling to God. And, yet other women chose it for themselves as that retreat, retirement or sanctuary which I spoke of earlier. It often did not have as much to do with God’s calling as with the fact that they might fare better here than on the outside in times of great strife or trouble.

wilton_6_full

Wilton Abbey as it looks today

In it’s future, Kings would be educated there, Queens would protect and preside there and it would be in the middle of battles between Saxons and Danes, then Saxons and Normans.

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

Life of a medieval nun

http://www.lordsandladies.org/daily-life-nun-middle-ages.htm

Medieval Convent

http://www.medieval-life-and-times.info/medieval-religion/medieval-convent.htm

You may wonder why I am spending so much time on this subject of God’s houses and God’s callings? Well, I want you to understand more fully how important the church and the religion was to people of this time. People like Athelstan, and Aethelwulf, and his wife Judith.  The Christian church was not just about a belief system, it was far more than that. It was the political power structure of the time. Your King or ruler in most instances controlled your life but the church controlled his life! The real king or ruler of all at this time in Christian held strongholds was the church and it’s leader, the Pope. If you wanted real power and control, you would find it difficult to achieve without the backing of these religious powerbrokers. And, for the lower common people, the church was often their survival, their salvation? In times of strife, a good church, good priests, would look after the hungry and the needy thereby endearing the people to them and creating such a devout devotion to the church.  Times were difficult for those common people and for nobles as well. They needed something to believe in, to hold faith in and the Catholic Church provided this in spades! In return, the church was rewarded with enormous wealth and even more power over their followers. Everything in the church system had a price attached to it and you would willingly pay such price for the promise of  great reward in the after life or to avoid the wrath of an angry God or earthly church!

Alright enough of my thoughts on religion… one other thing concerns me about this land we are being promised? Yes, King Ecbert has offered and promised us land to settle within his kingdom, that is all well and fine. I think I have touched upon this dilemma previously but I feel need to make mention of it again because it does concern me. No one has asked my opinion in this matter, why should they? But, I will speak of it here. This agreement puts us in somewhat of a Catch22 situation, or between a rock and a hard place. We shall accept King Ecbert’s offer of land to farm in peace, and that shall put us as subjects of King Ecbert rather than Ragnar. For, I am quite certain that in order to receive this land we shall have to swear oath, fealty and allegiances to King Ecbert? That should be only right as we will live in his kingdom under his protection. If we should not agree to this, he would be well within his rights to deny us the land, evict us from it… and then where would that leave us all? You see my worries and concerns, my reasons for looking into my own personal options for survival? In these coming battles between the Norse, the Danes and the Saxons, most of the kingdoms will eventually fall to the Norse and the Danes. Wessex will be the last kingdom, last stronghold and eventually, the victors for Wessex… that will put their feelings and attitudes about Danes living in their midst into a very negative light.  I came willingly on this voyage but that does not mean that I am without doubts, worries or great fears for our future, because I know how much of it ends and it does not favor us well!

 

I will say no more about the situation for now. I will just tell of our arrival in this land of Wessex.

arriving in wessex

Ohhh before I tell of our arrival and our first days there, there is one other situation that I would share with you? I spoke of everyone else’s reasons for coming on this voyage but did not mention of Bjorn and his new wife, Porrun? Of course Bjorn would join his family on this adventure and thus bring along his wife. He was not exactly happy with all of it though. Porrun was determined to prove herself free and able to choose in all ways now that she was no longer a slave. That is understandable. The choices she insisted upon making though caused much aggrevation and frustration for everyone in the family. She was insistant on making this voyage not just as Bjorn’s wife, but as a shield maiden and warrior.  Now, we all would not have taken exception to this choice had something else not been rather apparent and had she not been quite so forceful and down right moody in her decisions and her attitude at the time?

Not a happy family trip

The sea voyage was not such a pleasant one for those of us who had to share the confines of the boat that carried Bjorn and Porrun!

some of us have to bring our troubles with us

ragnar is none too happy about porunn joining them

ragnar is none too happy about porunn joining them

 

There was much speculation over her moods and of other issues, which we will not mention so as not to put a shield maiden in any bad light… All I will add is that she did not sail well during this trip and we quickly surmised why?

what if you are with child already  I would not just lose you but my child as well

what if you are with child already I would not just lose you but my child as well

I would also lose my child

I would also lose my child

I am not sure you should come with us

I am not sure you should come with us

Porunn was with child and yet she insisted upon choosing to be a warrior and shield maiden, would go so far as to put their unborn child’s life at risk by going into a battle that it was not necessary for her participate in. Bjorn was torn but could not dissuade her from this decision. He made comment to Lagertha that Porrun was stubborn just like someone else he knew? The difference in these two situations was that Lagertha set aside her warrior ways for Motherhood and Porrun does not seem to understand this yet. This stubbornness would put both her and Bjorn in a difficult position later.

For now, let us go back to our arrival and meeting of King Ecbert? There was some uneasiness when Ragnar had to answer Ecbert’s question of where King Horik was?

What happened to King horik  He uhhh met with an unfortunate accident

What happened to King horik He uhhh met with an unfortunate accident

The look on Ecbert’s face showed that he did not believe Ragnar’s explanation of some unfortunate accident, but he did not pursue the matter and let it slide for the time being…

now really do you expect me to believe that  well we'll just pretend I do

Then we are truly equals now.

Then we are truly equals now.

He welcomed us graciously though his son Aethelwulf chose instead to sit in the background with his infant son, holding on to him as if to protect the child from all of us heathens!

aethelwulf watching the arrival

There was a great feast and celebration in our honor? At least that is what we first assumed it to be… it turned into a discussion of our land grant and a change in the agreement. The meeting seemed to go from bad to worse and Ragnar just chalked it up to the way his luck was running at this time. He was much irritated by all of it but there was not much he could do. It all started when he casually asked what had become of the men who had stayed to help Princess Kwentirith in her fight to win Mercia. The looks on Ecbert’s and Kwentirith’s faces told us that this was not going to bode well for us?

ecbert's great hall

ecbert’s great hall

ohhh I can tell I am not going like this story

ohhh I can tell I am not going like this story

Ragnar’s simple question was answered evasively by Kwentirith who made excuse the battle does not go well in Mercia, but surely with our help now, it can finally be won?

what-has-happened-to-our-people-fighting-for-mercia-unfortunately-the-fight-does-not-go-well.

what has happened to our people fighting for mercia? unfortunately the fight does not go well.

Yes, the evening just went downhill from there when we realized that we had been in some ways set up? King Ecbert held the land grant over Ragnar’s head and insisted that in order to receive it now, some of our men must help fight this battle…

At first Ragnar argued that this was not the original agreement, nor was it our fight… it got him nowhere and he realized that to continue arguing the point was futile. He did at first tell Ecbert that this was not the agreement…

that was not part of our agreement

that was not part of our agreement

Ecbert’s response to that was to explain that his people were not all happy with this arrangement?

 

I've given you land but here is the truth as God as my witness  my people are not happy with my decision.

I’ve given you land but here is the truth as God as my witness my people are not happy with my decision.

Ragnar knew what was coming… He just groaned, covered his face and swore to himself!

Awwww Jeees here it comes  I will honor our treaty but in return some of you must fight for princess kwentirith

Awwww Jeees here it comes I will honor our treaty but in return some of you must fight for princess kwentirith

There was no point in arguing, so Ragnar made his own agreement to the terms but warned that he could not speak for the others?

in good faith and in hope to settle this I will do it but the others must decide for themselves

in good faith and in hope to settle this I will do it but the others must decide for themselves

He explained the situation to the others and they each made their choice to join Ragnar in the fight…

of course why am I not surprised there will be a fight and you will volunteer us

of course why am I not surprised there will be a fight and you will volunteer us

I want nothing more than to fight and raid

I want nothing more than to fight and raid

There would be some argument over Porunn’s decision but wisely it was not brought up at this time!

porrun will not be left out  I will fight too

porrun will not be left out I will fight too

Floki added his agreement somewhat grudgingly and none too optimistically? His answer was, “I will be like a fly and follow the dead meat.”

Yes I will fight  the fly always follows the dead meat

Before Lagertha could voice her thoughts on the matter, there was a surprising addition to the volunteers? It came from Aethelwulf. Aethelwulf and Judith had been quiet throughout all of this, though Judith did seem to be watching our priest, Athelstan quite closely…

aethelwulf volunteers to fight along side these pagans

aethelwulf volunteers to fight along side these pagans

aethelwulf and judith listen and watch the meeting

Finally, Lagertha voiced her thoughts on the matter

we came here to farm not fight a quarrel that is not ours

we came here to farm not fight a quarrel that is not ours

She does finally add her agreement….

Lagertha adds her agreement

Lagertha adds her agreement

But, Ecbert had a few other ideas as well…

ecbert makes his move   In order to establish your farms someone should lead your people here

ecbert makes his move In order to establish your farms someone should lead your people here

ragnar is suspicious now   ahhhh yes, here it comes

Ecbert goes on with his suggestion of someone to lead the settlers, one who knows of farming and is respected by the people… all the while eying Lagertha? Athelstan steps in and explains that Ecbert thinks she should remain as this leader? Ragnar is highly suspicious now. But, Lagertha eventually agrees to this new arrangement.

Ragnar looks at athelstan and thinks  And you're going along with this?

Ragnar looks at athelstan and thinks And you’re going along with this?

 

Yep, this is just gonna get worse, I can tell already

Yep, this is just gonna get worse, I can tell already

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

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

Having played his game so well, Ecbert had one final move…

and you also must stay athelstan we need you  I need you

and you also must stay athelstan we need you I need you

There was a short discussion between Ragnar and Athelstan over this but Ragnar stated that he trusted Athelstan and that he should stay? I can only think that Ragnar chose for Athelstan to remain and keep some sort of protective watch over Lagertha who would now be in close contact with this King who was none too discreet in his interest of her!

well that was easy enough let's drink now then we can all have sex before I kill them all!

well that was easy enough let’s drink now then we can all have sex before I kill them all!

The evening turned out as none of us expected or wished for, save maybe Torstein and Bjorn who really did want to fight! The rest of us finally retired for the night but Ecbert called Athelstan for a last meeting… It was a quiet meeting between two friends. Ecbert was truly glad to have his friend Athelstan close to him again and could not help but remind Athelstan of his God’s calling?

Athelstan is torn between two gods and two friends is there a middle ground

Athelstan is torn between two gods and two friends is there a middle ground

you left this behind  Go on take it

you left this behind Go on take it

he hears the call Athelstan's true god is calling whether he wants to listen or not

Athelstan must leave because

To be continued!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: Waiting for the future, Remembering early days of Rollo

Remember to vote… the battle is fierce and our Viking Warriors are falling in the battle?

 

We win, we have the heads to prove it!

We win, we have the heads to prove it!

Shhhhh be still, close your eyes, listen… It is coming. Can you feel it? As I sit here in the darkness remembering the past, those distant memories, I can feel the future storms coming upon us soon!

ships in the mist

ships in the mist

I try to keep the feeling at bay, try not to think of what lies ahead for us all but tis very hard… the waiting is at times unbearable! I find myself unable to focus or concentrate on the work at hand that I must try to finish before that future arrives in just a few weeks from now. Tis not nearly as hard during the daylight when there is much else, much other work to keep my thoughts occupied on. Alone in my small space in the deepest of night though, when I should be at rest, my mind whirls with the past and the future that looms so close now. I usually use this time to record my thoughts as tis not wise or safe for me to display this work to others… My thoughts are a jumble and I know I will not complete my task of recording the past before the next journey begins. I worry that once the new journey begins, I will have no time to properly document this important early past.  Tonight is wasted and I must rise soon to get on with the chores of life. I have but a  moment now to put down a few scattered thoughts on those earliest days.  As always seems to happen with me, my mind wanders to Rollo, his past and his future that I worry so about?  Many ask why I continue to remain so loyal and so faithful to this man, and to that other one- Siggy? They warn me that no good will come from such alliances. Even Siggy oft warns me that I should not keep myself in the middle of this mess… But, I can not go back on my allegiance nor can I sway my mind or heart from the idea that I am on the path that I should be? There are other places I could be, safer places possibly- but perhaps not? I will write of that later.  For tonight, I think back on those earliest days of Rollo.  I know that despite his many errors in judgement, his impulsive actions, and his feelings of resentment, even in the beginning there was something within him that spoke of his worth?

 

The early days of Rollo

One memory stands out. While he was admittedly a warrior born and bred, knew of little else… yes he was vicious and fiercer than many others but he had, and yet still does hold something within that many of those other warriors lack? He has compassion, and a heart. I do think that at times, he thinks and acts with more what is in his heart than what is common sense and logical? On their early raid of Northumbria, when many things went wrong, Rollo showed his compassion. He came across this ailing old Saxon man who was unable to put up any sort of fight or resistance. Rollo could easily have killed the old man, but instead chose to offer the man a drink?  Of course, he did later take the man’s meager possession of any worth- the cup… but, for all purposes, the man would most likely have no need of it much longer anyway. What Rollo did do in those few moments was offer the old man comfort rather than fear of a bloody death.  For all of Rollo’s words of war and slaughter, it is these actions that speak far louder for his worthiness and his greatness. He chooses not to admit to these such actions for feeling that they will make him look less of a warrior, but really these are the actions that I hold on to and cause me to see that there is far more to him than just a Warrior!

rollo finds an old man Rollo offers drink to dying old saxon man

 I think of Rollo’s many struggles to become that great warrior, that great man… the many times he has failed in the past and been at the bottom seemingly without hope or redemption and yet managed to find the inner strength to go on? Every man must face his demons and his downfalls. All must face that bottom in order to learn and to climb up and appreciate what they have achieved. At times, it seems that the Gods much favor Ragnar.  He has achieved great glory but even Ragnar must face that bottom and climb back up.  Tis a much harder fall from such a high point as Ragnar’s?  Rollo has met his bottom already, numerous times and is used to the climb back up.  It has given him strength and a deeper will to fight for a better future!

rollo's glory

And, now with those thoughts of Rollo on my mind, I must try to sleep!