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From Rollo and Poppa to the De Senlis family

This is somewhat of an update to my previous post on Rollo as my ancestor.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2016/01/06/tracing-my-past-back-to-rollo/

This particular investigation and discussion pertains mainly to genealogy/ancestry and  history of the real Rollo and his family. It has little or anything to do with Rollo’s character in the Vikings Saga other than to point out that Rollo did have loyal Viking followers and supporters as well as probably some Frankish ones as well. He may have cut his ties with family and could be considered a traitor in some ways but he did have men who backed him and would continue to back his family. This group of men and their families would remain loyal supporters all the way through to Rollo’s descendant, William the Conqueror. The descendants of these men would follow William to England. In return for their loyalty they would receive great wealth and land, and become leading English Nobility in those early days of  William and his sons.  Among these men were Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane  (ancestor to the families of Harcourt and Beaumont).  I mentioned these men in my previous post and am returning to them now as I feel that one of them plays an important part in a mystery from another branch of my ancestors and also provides a clue or key to the mystery surrounding Rollo’s wife, Poppa of Bayeux. (For my personal thoughts on how the history might relate to Michael Hirst’s creative and imaginative version of events in the Vikings Saga, you can scroll all the way to the end to read more on that.)

 

That man would be Bernard DeSenlis, the one specifically mentioned as a companion of Rollo’s.  After  researching some of the DeSenlis ancestry and  further investigation of Poppa’s possible genealogy, I personally believe that the Bernard DeSenlis mentioned as Rollo’s companion provides a link between those mentioned in Poppa’s genealogy and the DeSenlis family that shows up in my family ancestry.  While there is no definitive proof or documentation, and the link seems to get broken or at least very twisted somewhere along the line, my personal thought is that the DeSenlis line probably goes back to Poppa’s connection.  There often comes a point where you have to do your own research, weigh all of the evidence you have collected and make a choice as to what information you trust the most, what to you makes the most sense and then go with that line of reasoning. When you get to this point, you should also make it very clear to anyone else you are sharing the information with, that from this point on back you are basing your reasoning on suppositions and limited research. From this point on, you are making a hypothesis based on the limited evidence and resources available to you. Make it extremely clear that these are only your personal beliefs and thoughts. This is the case for me from this point back with the DeSenlis family and with family connections for Poppa.  My purpose here is not to provide concrete verifiable evidence because as far as I know, there is none at this time. What we have are a lot of pieces of circumstantial evidence that when pieced together may provide a possible or plausible theory.

First, we need to look at the varying versions of Poppa’s existence and genealogy.  The first version, the more widely accepted one is that she was the daughter of  “Count Berengar”, the dominant prince of that region, who was captured at Bayeux by Rollo in 885 or 889. This has led to speculation that she was the daughter of Berengar II of Neustria.  

It is speculated that her Father was Berengar II of Neustria. Berengar II (died 896) was the Count of Bayeux,  Rennes and Margrave of the Breton March from 886 until his death a decade later.  In 874, Brittany’s internal politics were thrown into turmoil when King Salomon was murdered by a rival. The resulting surge of Viking attacks made possible by the power vacuum was narrowly held at bay by a hasty Breton-Frankish alliance between Alan the Great of Vannes and Berengar of Rennes. Between 889-90, the Seine Vikings moved into Brittany, hard on the heels of the Loire fleet that Alan and Berengar had successfully driven out (this latter force had broken up into several small flotillas and sailed west). Alain again joined forces with Berengar of Rennes and led two Breton armies into the field. Finding their retreat down the Marne blocked, the Vikings hauled their ships overland to the Vire and besieged Saint-Lo, where the Bretons virtually annihilated the fleet.  Berengar is speculated to have married the daughter of Gurvand, Duke of Brittany, by which relationship he attained the countship of Rennes. This would make him brother-in-law of Judicael, Duke of Brittany. He is thought to be the Berengar of Bayeux whose daughter Poppa was captured in a raid and married to Rollo of Normandy. Various reconstructions make him father, grandfather, or great-grandfather of Judicael Berengar, later Count of Rennes.  As I’ve pointed out, this is the generally accepted version even though there is no definitive or verifiable proof. Because of that lack of proof, it may very well be possible that some alternate version holds just as much validity as this one. 

Poppa of Bayeux

Poppa of Bayeux

The alternate version of her existence and genealogy is provided by Robert Sewell as follows in excerpts from his document provided at  http://www.robertsewell.ca/poppa.html

The ancestry of Poppa, wife of Rolf the Ganger, 1st Duke of Normandy, seems to have two versions. It now appears that Poppa was a daughter of Gui, Count of Senlis and not a daughter of Count Berenger of Bayeux.  This makes Poppa, through her mother, a great granddaughter of King Bernard of Italy (b. 797, d. 818; King of Italy 813 – 817) King Bernard was a grandson of Charlemagne.

For the entire document please use the above link. For our purposes, I am providing the portion of the document that links Poppa to the DeSenlis name or family. 

Poppa, Wife of Ganger Rolf     According to Dudon, William Longue Épeé of Normandy had as his ‘avunculus’ (maternal uncle) Count Bernard of Senlis, the friend and consellor of Hugh the Great. The Chronicon Rothomagense (Labbe Bibliotheca Manuscriptorum Nova, I, p. 365) ano 912 confirms this and stated that Rolf married the daughter of Count Gui de Senlis, so if Bernard were the son of Gui, he would be the ‘avunculus” of William. Dudon, however calls Poppa the daughter of Count Berenger, but Dudon is not highly trustworthy. The name Bernard belongs in the family of the Counts of Vermandois, descended from Bernard, King of Italy. A Count Bernard, probably Bernard de Senlis is called be Flodoard (Annales ano 923, p. 15) the ‘consobrinus’ (cousin germain by the female side) of Herbert II Count of Vermandois.

     The Belgian érudit, J. Dhondt, in his “Études sur la Naissance de Principautés Territoriales au France pp. 119/120 n.) (Bruges 1948), suggests that Gui Count of Senlis married a sister of Herbert I Count of Vermandois (see p. 6 anti) and had issue Bernard Count of Senlis and probably Poppa, wife of Rolf.

 Pepin de Peronne, son of Bernard, King of Italy
Died after 846
His children included:

  • Herbert I Count of Vermandois, died between 900 and 904. His son:
    • Herbert II Count of Vermandois, died in 943
  • a daughter who married Gui, Count of Senlis. Their children:
    • Bernard Count of Senlis, adherent of Hugh the Great
    • Poppa who married Rolf, Count of Rouen

What this alternative version does is directly tie the previously mentioned Bernard DeSenlis to Poppa as her brother. It would make sense then that as Poppa’s brother, he would possibly become an ally of Rollo or at least a supporter of Rollo’s children. It would also make sense that he would continue to be allied with Rollo’s family such as in protecting Rollo’s grandson Richard I at the later time. In addition, this would provide some reason for ongoing connections, alliances or links between Rollo’s descendants and the DeSenlis families.  From my personal stand point or view, this version of Poppa’s lineage seems just as plausible or feasible as the other version mentioned. This alternate version makes the connection to the DeSenlis family and in doing so also connects the offspring of Poppa and Rollo to Hugh the Great and the future Capetian dynasty which Rollo’s grand daughter, Adelaide of Aquitaine married into.  Bernard DeSenlis was an adherent of Hugh the Great, who would have been a relative to him. During the battles to rescue and restore Rollo’s grandson Richard to his rightful control of Normandy, Hugh the Great eventually became involved in the fight and sided with the Normans.  One other thing this alternate version does is place Poppa as a descendant of Charlemagne and by doing so, place her as a distant relative of Charles the Simple.  Just because they were distant relatives did not necessarily mean they would have been on the same side or allied to each other in any way. In fact, it may have been the opposite case and might have posed some problem when Rollo made his treaty with Charles. Rollo and Charles signed the treaty of  St. Claire in 911.  At that time he would have already been with Poppa for some time and had both of his children by her.  This would mean that he already had a somewhat firm  alliance with the Count of Senlis and most likely with Herbert I Count of Vermandois along with his son Herbert II.  I mention this because at a later point in time, Herbert II would be an opposing force against Charles. He was just as adamant and vocal about his heritage from Charlemagne and Charles most likely was. Eventually, he was responsible for capturing Charles and holding him prisoner for three years. Later Herbert allied with Hugh the Great and William Longsword, duke of Normandy against King Louis IV, who allocated the County of Laon to Roger II, the son of Roger I, in 941. If you look at the descendants of Charlemagne, you will begin to understand that they were all descendants and proud of their ancestry but they were all competing and vying against each other for control and domination of the various parts of Francia.  As one of those descendants, Herbert I of Vermandois and his family were at odds with the current ruling factions of the time as well as with Baldwin of Flanders. Herbert controlled both St. Quentin and Péronne and his activities in the upper Somme river valley, such as the capture and murder (rather than ransom) of his brother Raoul in 896, may have caused Baldwin II to have him assassinated in 907. These were people who would probably have no qualms about developing some kind of alliances or under the table agreements with a Viking raider such as Rollo who may have been willing to assist a cause in return for some type of reward- monetary or otherwise… for example a spare daughter to use as security, seal a bargain and set up some ongoing continued alliance that might prove benefitial to both parties.

Sometime later when Dudo of Saint Quentin was rewriting the history of Normandy for Richard I, he may have chosen to downplay or omit completely some aspects of the history. 

Dudo does not appear to have consulted any existing documents for his history, but to have obtained his information from oral tradition, much of it being supplied by Raoul, count of Ivry, a half-brother of Duke Richard. Consequently, the Historia partakes of the nature of a romance, and on this ground has been regarded as untrustworthy by such competent critics as Ernst Dümmler and Georg Waitz. Other authorities, however, e.g.,J. Lair and J. Steenstrup, while admitting the existence of a legendary element, regard the book as of considerable value for the history of the Normans.

Although Dudo was acquainted with Virgil (Aeneid) and other Latin writers, his Latin is affected and obscure. The Historia, which is written alternately in prose and in verse of several metres, is divided into four parts, and deals with the history of the Normans from 852 to the death of Duke Richard in 996. It glorifies the Normans, and was largely used by William of Jumièges, Wace, Robert of Torigni,William of Poitiers and Hugh of Fleury in compiling their chronicles.

My last thoughts on Poppa’s genealogy and her relationship with Rollo are that it is probably closer to the second version than the first if you compare the other connecting threads and limited evidence.  If you look at the length of her relationship with Rollo prior to his receiving Normandy, you also begin to get a slightly different picture of Rollo and his ability to take this land offer and forge it into a Kingdom. He was involved with Poppa and her family from about 885 on and did not sign the agreement with Charles until after 911. What this gives us is not a Lone wolf, or man who is unfamiliar with Frankish customs and culture but rather a well seasoned warrior with close to 20 years of experience in with other Frankish territories and rulers.  Over that 20 years, he had most likely become well versed in Frankish affair and politics.  For what ever reason, Dudo chose to play down and omit that portion as well as play down the relationship or existence of Poppa’s connection in all of it. Then Dudo also chose to add in the somewhat doubtful relationship of Gisela, daughter of Charles without giving her much more credibility or history than he did for Poppa. Of course part of this could be due to the fact that Dudo was recounting the history to a male audience and was not so much concerned about the role of any women involved in the history. He most likely played down Poppa’s relationship because she was a wife more danico and it was not thought to be a valid Christian marriage even though the children were recognized as legitimate offspring of the Father.

As for the relationship or existence of Gisela of France, there is always the possibility that Rollo did marry her in the Christian way to seal the treaty.  It was not an uncommon practice back then to have both the more danico wife and the Christian one.  If as  mentioned, she died childless then her relationship and marriage to Rollo would have ended up being of little consequence as far as Dudo’s representation of history went.  I suppose if we look at it realistically, none of Charles’ other daughters receive much recognition either other than just being listed as his daughters. In fact none of his other children seem to be of much consequence other than his son, Louis IV of France. On a side note of interest, Louis’ Mother was Eadgifu of Wessix, grand daughter of Alfred the Great.  My thought on Gisela is that Dudo perhaps included her to tie in the connections to France and used her as a way to offset the presence of Poppa. By including Gisela, Dudo is in a way promoting the idea of Rollo having a Christian Royal wife and thereby putting down or negating Poppa’s ties or importance.  He was after all attempting to make the Normans look better in the eyes of other countries such as France at that time. The last thing he would have wanted to do during this time is bring up any reference or mention of Poppa’s possible connections to the earlier events and disputes that took place between territories vying for control of Frankish regions and previous rebellions against Kings of Francia. 

 

The De Senlis connection

 

Now that we have explored Poppa’s existence and her possible connections to the DeSenlis family, we can go on to the other mystery and broken link in the DeSenlis family.  That broken link shows up with Simon DeSenlis I of my family history. 

Simon de Senlis

Simon I de Senlis (or Senliz), 1st Earl of Northampton and 2nd Earl of Huntingdon jure uxoris born 1068 died between 1111  and 1113 was a Norman nobleman.

Simon DeSenlis

In 1098 he was captured during the Vexin campaign of King William Rufus and was subsequently ransomed. He witnessed King Henry I’s Charter of Liberties issued at his coronation in 1100. He attested royal charters in England from 1100–03, 1106–07, and 1109–011. Sometime in the period, 1093–1100, he and his wife, Maud, founded the Priory of St. Andrew’s, Northampton. He witnessed a grant of King Henry I to Bath Abbey on 8 August 1111 at Bishop’s Waltham, as the king was crossing to Normandy. Simon de Senlis subsequently went abroad and died at La Charité-sur-Loire, where he was buried in the new priory church. The date of his death is uncertain.

He reportedly built Northampton Castle and the town walls.  He also built one of the three remaining round churches in England, The Holy Sepulchre, Sheep Street, Northampton).

Simon 1st De Liz Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Holy Sepulchre 1 Holy_Sepulchre_Cambridge 2 Northampton-Holy Sepulchre

Simon was the third son of Laudri de Senlis, sire of Chantilly and Ermenonville (in Picardy), and his spouse, Ermengarde.

He married in or before 1090 Maud of Huntingdon, daughter of Waltheof, Earl of Northumbria, Northampton, and Huntingdon, by Judith, daughter of Lambert, Count of Lens. They had two sons, Simon II de Senlis, Earl of Huntingdon-Northampton, and Waltheof of Melrose, and one daughter, Maud de Senlis, who married (1st) Robert Fitz Richard (of the De Clare family), of Little Dunmow, Essex.

Following Simon’s death, his widow, Maud, married (2nd) around Christmas 1113, David I nicknamed the Saint, who became King of Scots in 1124. David was recognized as Earl of Huntingdon to the exclusion of his step-son, Simon; the earldom of Northampton reverted to the crown. Maud, 2nd Countess of Huntingdon, the Queen of Scots, died in 1130/31.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_I_de_Senlis,_Earl_of_Huntingdon-Northampton

There is little information given about his ancestry other than that his Father was Laudri De Senlis, born at 

BIRTH 1018 Senlis, Oise, Picardy, France

DEATH 1080 Senlis, Normandy, France

Laudri’s wife is named Ermengarde and no other information is documented for her.  There is some documentation of Laudri’s Father being a Foulques De Senlis, born 988, died 1050.

Simon was born in 1068, after William’s take over of England but his family must have been of some importance and there must have been some connection between his family and William’s otherwise William would not have offered his niece, Judith in marriage to Simon. During William’s take over of England and prior to that, he was no different from  other leaders or rulers of the time in that he used marriage alliances to his advantage as reward to those loyal to him, and at times to ensure loyalty among those he might have doubts about.  He first arranged marriages for his sister Adelaide of Normandy, then went on to arrange marriages for her daughter, Judith of Lens. William initially arranged the marriage of Judith to Waltheof of Northumbria- that may have been a case of ensuring the loyalty of Waltheof and gaining some control over Waltheof’s lands in Northumbria… unfortunately, that arrangement did not prove quite as successful as he may have planned. Waltheof eventually proved to be disloyal and William had him executed in 1076. This left Judith a widow with young children and some extremely valuable landholdings and titles in doubt or up for grabs. William rather quickly set about arranging another marriage for her to Simon De Senlis. Judith refused to marry Simon and she fled the country to avoid William’s anger. William  temporarily confiscated all of Judith’s English estates. Simon later married Judith’s daughter Maud and took over the Earldom of Huntington.  At the time of his marriage to Maud, he had already received land and title in the creation of Earl of Northampton. This would certainly suggest that he was not just some knight standing in line waiting for William to hopefully notice him and reward him with something, anything as recognition. There had to have been some reason or connection for William to bestow the first title and lands on him and then turn around and again reward him with either his niece or great-niece and Huntington.  As I mentioned, Simon was too young to have been among those who arrived with William to do first battle and conquer England so there must have been some other important connection between Simon’s family to William which William deemed of enough importance or value to reward Simon in such way.

Simon De Senlis  was not just some lowly unknown knight or nobleman of little wealth or station that William happened to run into and hand over a landholding and title to even before his marriage into William’s family. As early as 1080- 1084 he was already Earl of Northampton and was responsible for building Northampton Castle. Northampton Castle was one of the most famous Norman castles in England. It was built under the stewardship of Simon e Senlis, the first Earl of Northampton, in 1084. It took several years to complete, as there is no mention of it in the Domesday Book, a great survey of England completed in 1086. The castle site was outside the western city gate, and defended on three sides by deep trenches. A branch of the River Nene provided a natural barrier on the western side. The castle had extensive grounds and a large keep. The gates were surrounded by bulwarks made of earth, used to mount artillery. The castle was ‘obliterated’ by the arrival of a railway branch of what is now the West Coast Main Line in the 19th century, the station of which was built on the castle site and the construction of the original Northampton Castle railway station.

 800px-Northampton_Castle_Bastion 800px-Postern_Gate_of_Northampton_Castle_2013 Northampton_Castle_Postern

All of this information regarding Simon’s early adult years leads me to believe that Simon and his family were already held in some high esteem or regard by William. Simon was not born until mid 1060s  but by the time he was in his late teens or very early twenties he was already made Earl of Northampton and put in charge of constructing this Castle and defenses for this Earldom holding of William. This does not speak of some lowly or relatively unknown prize winner in William’s raffling off of rewards…

In order to find some connection to further back, we can look at the city of Senlis, France  and its history.  The monarchs of the early French dynasties lived here, attracted by the proximity of the Chantilly Forest and its venison, and built a castle on the foundations of the Roman settlement. In 987 the archbishop of Reims, Albéron called together an assembly, and asked them to choose Hugh Capet as king of France. However, the monarchs of France soon abandoned the city, preferring Compiègne and Fontainebleau. New life was given to the city in the 12th century, and ramparts were built. The popularity of the city later fell, and it slipped into decline. Today it remains an attraction for tourists for its long history and its links to the French monarchy.

Senlis ruins

Senlis ruins

Senlis Cathedral

Senlis Cathedral

Senlis2

stock-photo-ruins-of-royal-castle-in-senlis-castle-was-place-of-election-of-hugh-capet-in-completely

stock-photo-ruins-of-royal-castle-in-senlis-castle-was-place-of-election-of-hugh-capet-in-completely

Senlis fell under the ownership of Hugh Capet in 981. He was elected king by his barons in 987 before being crowned at Noyon. Under the Capetian rule, Senlis became a royal city and remained so until the reign of Charles X. A castle was built during this period whose remains still lie today. The city reached its apogee in the 12th and 13th centuries as trade of wool and leather increased, while vineyards began to grow. With an increasing population, the city expanded and required the construction of new ramparts: a second chamber was erected under Phillip II that was larger and higher than the ramparts of the Gallo-Romans. A municipal charter was granted to the town in 1173 by the King Louis VII. The bishop of Senlis and the Chancellor Guérin became close advisors to the King, strengthening Senlis’ ties to the French royalty. In 1265, the Bailiwick of Senlis was created with its vast territory covering theBeauvais and the French Vexin. In 1319, the town crippled by debt, was passed to the control of the royalty. Senlis became devastated by the Hundred Years’ War, but managed to escape destruction despite being besieged by the Armagnacs.

Hugh Capet was married to Rollo’s grand-daughter, Adelaide of Aquitaine and as a result of this connection, DeSenlis families of Senlis probably had some continuing loyalties and alliances or connections to Normandy through her. There is no verifiable proof however to link Simon any further back to the original De Senlis family connected to Rollo and Poppa.  All we can do is form our own theories and conjectures based on the amounts of circumstantial evidence.

Another version gives Simon a somewhat different  parentage and ancestry.

SENLIS or ST. LIZ, SIMON de, Earl of Northampton and Huntingdon (d. 1109), was son of a Norman noble called Randel le Ryche. According to the register of the priory of St. Andrew at Northampton (Monast. Angl. v. 190), he fought with his brother Garner for William the Conqueror at Hastings. But there is no mention of him in Domesday book, and it seems more probable that he did not come to England till about the end of the reign of William I (Freeman, Norman Conquest, iv. 604). According to the legends preserved in the pseudo-Ingulph and the ‘Vita Waldevi,’ Simon was given by the Conqueror the hand of Judith, the widow of Earl Waltheof of Huntingdon; but Judith refused to marry him on account of his lameness. Simon then received the earldom of Northampton and Huntingdon from the king, and eventually married Matilda or Maud, the daughter of Waltheof and Judith. The marriage is an undoubted fact, but probably must be placed, together with the grant of the earldoms, not earlier than 1089. According to the ‘Vita Waldevi,’ Simon went on the crusade in 1095, but he appears to have been fighting on the side of William Rufus in Normandy in 1098, when he was taken prisoner by Louis, son of the king of France (Freeman, William Rufus, ii. 190). He was also one of the witnesses to the coronation charter of Henry I in 1100 (Stubbs, Select Charters, p. 102). Afterwards he went on the crusade. He died in 1109, and was buried at the priory of La Charité-sur-Loire. Earl Simon built Northampton Castle, and founded the priory of St. Andrew, Northampton, according to tradition, about 1084, but more probably in 1108 (Monast. Angl. v. 190–1). By his wife, Matilda, Simon had two sons—Simon, who is noticed below, and Waltheof (d 1159) [q. v.], who was abbot of Melrose. A daughter Maud married Robert FitzRichard of Tonbridge.

There are some  ancestry and genealogy sources that list Simon as son of Ranulf “The Rich” De St. Liz. According to these sources, Ranulf was born about 1030, died 1080. His wife Ermengarde  was born circa 1033. They had one son, Simon De Senlis/De St. Liz. These other sources list Ranulf’s father as Foulques Senlis who was born circa 955.  These accountings would match somewhat closely the information listed for Simon’s Grandfather being one Foulques De Senlis. The discrepancy comes in Simon’s Father either being Laudrie or Ranulf. Both versions give his Mother’s name as Ermangarde. It’s possible that Laudrie and Ranulf are the same person and there is just a discrepancy or some confusion over Laudri’s name being either Laudri or Ranulf. This confusion could stem from mixing up the two differing versions of Simon’s ancestry.

Some researchers have attempted to link Simon to a different Ranulf the Rich. These researchers have used Ranulf (Ranulph) “The Rich” DeMeschines (Viscount De Bayeux) (1021-1089) as the Father of Simon De Senlis. The problem with this connection is that these are two different Ranulph the Riches. Ranulph “The Rich” DeMeschines, Viscount De Bayeux is documented as having married Alice/Alix of Normandy who was an illegitimate daughter of Richard III of Normandy. If you look into the documented history for Ranulf, Viscount of Bayeux there is no connection to Simon DeSenlis or the DeSenlis family.

Ranulf, Viscount of Bayeux was known better as Ranulf de Briquessart (or Ranulf the Viscount) (died c. 1089 or soon after) was an 11th-century Norman magnate and viscount. Ranulf’s family were connected to the House of Normandy by marriage, and, besides Odo, bishop of Bayeux, was the most powerful magnate in the Bessin region.  He married Margaret, daughter of Richard Goz, viscount of the Avranchin, whose son and successor Hugh d’Avranches became Earl of Chester in England c. 1070.  This Ranulf died in 1089 and his son was His son Ranulf le Meschin became ruler of Cumberland and later Earl of Chester. The Durham Liber Vitae, c. 1098 x 1120, shows that his eldest son was one Richard, who died in youth, and that he had another son named William.  He also had a daughter called Agnes, who later married Robert (III) de Grandmesnil (died 1136). 

Another source of evidence to support Simon De Senlis’ Father as Laudri or Landri De Senlis comes from the  Dictionary of the nobility, containing the genealogies, the history …, Vol. 3, p. 65; Lords and Viscount de Senlis, Senlis Bouteiller, by Stephen Pattou, 2003, p. 2

Spouses / Children:
Ermengarde

  • Guy I of Senlis, called “The Tower”, lord of Chantilly .. +
  • Hubert de Senlis, canon of Notre-Dame de Paris
  • Simon I SENLIS (ST. LIZ), Earl of Huntingdon and Northampton +

 Landri of Senlis, knight, lord of Chantilly Ermenonville

  • Married:
  • Died: Between 1070 and 1080

   Landry Senlis, I. name, Knight, Lord & Ermenonville Chantilly, married, in the reign of King Philip I, a lady named Ermengarde, where he had three sons who inherited his property after his death in the year 1080: – -1. Gui, which follows – 2. Hubert, Canon of Notre-Dame de Paris, named in the title of 1119 – 3.Simon, who went to England, where he was the branch of the Counts Hu [n] Huntingdon & Northampton, reported below.

   Marriage Information:

Landry married Ermengarde.

 

I know this is probably getting confusing for many of you who may not be as interested or familiar with genealogy. I will try to simplify and clarify the confusing matters a little as well as get into why this is important in tracing Simon DeSenlis back further to the DeSenlis families connected to Rollo and Poppa.  In researching family histories this far back where this is little documented evidence or proof, it becomes somewhat more like a crime scene investigation or suspect profiling! You need to pay close attention to all of  various clues that show up in different versions or documents pertaining to the person, the family, events of the time and even to those others they might be associated with. You need to be more detective/ researcher and less record keeper/copier, scribe or sheep. 

The basic facts we are certain of are that one Simon DeSenlis was born about 1065-68 and died between 1109-1113. His life after 1080 was well documented and accounted for. More than one source or account lists his parents as Laudri/Landry DeSenlis and wife Ermangarde so it is reasonable to make a connection and assumption for this being Simon’s family line. 

 I am not so much interested in the concrete absolute facts because I know there are few if any of those. What I am looking for is more of a plausibility or feasibility factor or link that would show  a possible connection between Simon DeSenlis’ family and William’s family back to Rollo and Poppa’s generation. I believe that I have already provided evidence that ties Simon and his immediate family to some closer connection with William. 

There are some sources that mention Simon’s Father and possibly a brother arriving in England with William on his initial invasion in 1066. The brothers are not listed in the Domesday book so it could be assumed that they both returned to Normandy after the initial battles. Laudri’s information lists him as being Knight, Lord & Ermenonville Chantilly with his eldest son, Gui presumably inheriting that title. The second son, Hubert went to the Church as Canon of  Notre-Dame de Paris. As a third son, Simon would most likely have had to look elsewhere for title, wealth or lands. If the family had connections to William, this would have been an opportune time for William to assist the family in carving out a destiny for young Simon. Laudri may have aided William and participated in the invasion of England with him but as he already had lands and title, he might have been happy to return home after that first invasion. He may have seen no reason to stay on in England during those early years. Simon was born during these early years of the conquest so it is possible that rather than seek reward or title for himself in England that he did not need or want, Laudri chose instead to have William bestow any reward or favor on this third son who would be in need of title and wealth.  Laudri’s place of birth and death are listed as Senlis, Oise, Picardie, France. As I have mentioned previously, there is some confusion as to Laudri’s name being Laudri or possibly as in some other sources, Ranulf… all of the other information for the two different names is the same (except for the faction that tries to connect Ranulf to Ranulf of Bayeux and we have already discussed that confusion!)

Laudri’s Father is listed as Foulques De Senlis in more than one source and there is some documentation of a Foulques DeSenlis born 988 died 1050 with a son listed as Landry DeSenlis.  This foulques was also listed as living in Senlis, Oise, Picardie.  Foulque’s Father is listed as Rothold DeSenlis born abt 958 and died before 1045 at Senlis. Bear with me please… we are almost at our point of interest or possible connection to Rollo and Poppa!

Rothold’s Father is listed as Bernard II DeSenlis, born about 919 died abt 1000 at Senlis. Now, it does stand to reason that if there was a Bernard II, then there must have been a Bernard I of Senlis? This brings us back to the Bernard of Senlis mentioned in the beginning of this discussion… You know, the one Bernard DeSenlis that I mentioned early on in connection to Rollo and Poppa. Let’s refresh some of our dates here for this to begin to make some sense. Rollo was born about 850, died abt 827-830. Poppa was born around 870 and died abt 930. Let’s also go back to that alternate version of Poppa’s genealogy- you know the one where it lists her as being a daughter of  one Gui, Count of Senlis and sister of a Bernard of Senlis… Hopefully you are beginning to see some connection?  This name of Gui shows up again in the later generation of Simon’s family where Simon’s older brother is named Gui or Guy so it may be an indication of a generational name being passed down.

Bernard II DeSenlis has listed as his Father, a Bernard I born 875 and died sometime after 928 in France. All of the various genealogies listed become quite sketchy and extremely muddy at this point and it’s difficult to sift through all of the irregularities and possibilities for confusing supposed family members. Most of the versions do however, seem to connect Bernard II and his Father, Bernard I back eventually to the same families and lineages mentioned in the alternate version of Poppa’s genealogy. If we sort through all of the possible inaccuracies and look for common threads, those common threads of similar names, locations and titles give us a fairly good idea of Poppa’s general family connections to the houses, dynasties or territories of early Francia such as Senlis, Vermandois, Chantilly, Soissons, Champagne but not Bayeux.   Some history alludes to the idea that Poppa was “captured” during a battle at Bayeux so perhaps that is how she got connected to Bayeux. It may have been a case where Poppa was with Rollo during this campaign that took place some time between 887 and 889. She may have already been his wife or concubine and some might have assumed that if she was not a Dane, she must be a captive or slave of his. And, realistically she may have initially been in a position of hostage/captive or security of some sort to ensure payment or alliance from her family. The problem or question that ever remains is just which family… 

To put the history, the possible family connections and how they might have come about into some perspective, it might help to look at Rollo’s earliest known history in Francia and some maps of the areas involved. During 885/86 Rollo was involved in a siege of Paris. The siege was not successful but rather than fight the Viking group, King Charles the fat instead encouraged and allowed the group to travel down the Seine to ravage Burgandy which was in revolt at the time. When the Vikings withdrew from France the next spring, he gave them 700 livres (pounds) of silver as promised. In some context, this shows that the Frankish rulers were not above using Viking raiders to their own benefit and advantage in setting them up to attack territories that might be some threat to them. They were more than willing to enter into agreements or alliances with these groups and use them as a sort of paid mercenary group to thwart their own personal enemies or oppositions.  If King Charles was not above this type of action, it would stand to reason that other local leaders would be willing to do the same.  The Viking raiders were not unfamiliar with the leaders of Francia. They were an ongoing, fairly constant presence in the area as far back as prior to 845. By 885 when Rollo’s group began their siege of Paris, bribery and payoffs to the raiding groups was a common practice and one might even assume that by this time each groups’ rulers, leaders and politics were well-known to each other. 

The siege of 885 lasted through 885 and well into 886. During that time, various Viking groups would venture out to other areas including  Le Mans, Chartres,  Evreux and into the Loire. This would have put them in the areas of  Senlis, Champagne, Picardie, Soissons and other places associated with Poppa’s family connections. Their time spent on the river Seine would have taken them through areas around Brittany and Bayeux, thus putting them in the middle of the unrest going on there as a result of King Saloman’s murder in the late 870s.  Some time in late 886 or 887, Rollo’s group did leave Paris but that does not mean he left Francia. From most accounts, he remained in Francia throughout this time raiding in different parts. If he spent this amount of time in the area, he most likely began to settle himself there, develop a name and reputation for himself and build some alliances even though those alliances may have been shaky at first and been a result of his “working” relationship or associations based on the business of mercenaries or being paid not to raid…

If you look at the locations on maps, you will see the close proximity of all the places and how the leading families may have formed uneasy alliances or waged wars against each other in land disputes.

This ancient map shows the areas of Vermandois in relation to areas of what would eventually become Rollo’s land of Normandy. Bayeux is situated on the coast within that area. It also shows the close vicinity of Bayeux to Neustria and Brittany or Bretagne.

map of ancient france

This map shows the region of Picardy in relation to Paris and to Normandy, as well as the Champagne area.

france

This is a detailed map showing the separate lands or holdings within Picardy with Senlis being the closest to the borders of what would become Normandy. 

Picardie_adm

Finally, this map shows a better representation of  Senlis in relation to Rouen and Paris.

Senlis on map with Rouen and Paris

I have stated numerous times through out this discussion that there is no absolute conclusive evidence or proof for either Poppa’s family connections or in later generations, Simon DeSenlis’ family connections. My main intent  in this article is merely to suggest that  possibility or plausibility for Poppa’s alternative family connections and that those connections lead to the possible and plausible connection to the DeSenlis family.  Perhaps one day there will be some concrete definitive answer to the puzzles of this history and ancestry, most likely though it will remain an ongoing mystery that people with connections to these lineages will continue to debate. The progresses made in the field of genealogical DNA testing may eventually provide some answers to possible  blood line connections or matches. I have submitted my DNA sample for testing and waiting for results but I really do not expect those results to give any conclusive evidence or answer to this particular puzzle. I think that for the most part, this history and ancestry will remain subjective and dependent on each individual’s personal perspective on the history and people involved. 

My last thoughts on all of this more factual accounting of history have to do with the fiction and fantasy aspect of it. These thoughts are for the Vikings Saga fans of Rollo’s character… We have seen the beginning of Rollo’s arrival in the Frankish world according to Michael Hirst’s version and creative take on the events. Hirst has given us what I believe so far, is a combined version of Poppa and Gisla where Gisla takes prominence and gains some identity or credit rather than Poppa. How that relationship plays out is yet to be seen. We will see this in season 4. What we will also hopefully see is the development of Rollo’s alliances and friendships with those Viking men who remain with him, and with those men of Francia that he must eventually make friends or alliances with in order to succeed in creating and building Normandy. I am reasonably certain that we will most probably not see any actual characterization of one such as Bernard DeSenlis- that in my humble little mind would just be too much to hope for or expect. What I do hope to see is some unfolding is some combination of people in a character that might represent varied facets or bits of actual history.

Roland's role in the story

During the last episodes of season 3, we were vaguely introduced to a character named Roland who we know little about as yet.  Huw Parmenter will be returning as Roland in season 4 and I am anxious to see how his character of Roland fits into the story as Rollo’s life begins in Francia.  From what little we were able to discern or conclude of him in season 3, he is one of Odo’s soldiers and there seems to be some connection between him and Gisela. What that connection might be is a mystery right now. At this point we have no idea what Roland’s story really is? Is he a future villain or foe of Rollo, is he a future friend? What is his connection to Gisela, Charles and Odo… is he some family or relative, or is he some lovesick champion or supporter of Gisela?  What we have seen briefly is him carrying out Odo’s orders, a few subtly foreshadowing scenes of him with Gisela, Charles and Odo but no real definitive clues as to his future role. 

gisla has trouble tearing herself away from the scene even as this man Roland urges her to leave

gisla has trouble tearing herself away from the scene even as this man Roland urges her to leave

and here again we have a long pause on Roland

and here again we have a long pause on Roland

do and roland visit the camp to find out why they have not left yet

Odo and roland visit the camp to find out why they have not left yet

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

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

Roland's story

Roland’s story is yet to come so we can only make guesses as to what his part in the story will be. These are just my personal thoughts on how his story might play out. I could be completely wrong on this, so please do not hold me to this guess! Roland’s name and his current position within the Royal court suggest some nod, tribute or imaginative illusive reference to a historical legendary figure of Roland who was a military leader under Charlemagne who became one of the principal figures in the literary cycle known as the Matter of France. You can read more about the history and legend of Roland in a previous post:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/prussia-saxony-and-roland-part-2/

Perhaps our character of Roland will become a future friend or ally for Rollo… It stands to some reason that Rollo is going to need some Frankish alliances or friends. He has already made comments in far previous episodes that he understands the importance of alliances… he made such comment in a discussion with Floki about Aethelwulf. If Hirst is setting Roland up as this type of relationship with Rollo then Roland could be a representation of some of those early Frankish men such as Bernard DeSenlis. The DeSenlis line had ties to Charlemagne so would fit into some representation that Roland might possibly portray depending on how Hirst decides to tell the story! He has already set up sort of connection in his combining of Poppa and Gisela. If he presents Roland as some family connection to Gisela rather than some thwarted loved interest, then by making Roland an ally we would see the representation or connection mentioned in history about Bernard DeSenlis being a relative of Poppa’s and of him being one of Rollo’s comrades or companions from the earliest year. If he then carried the story forward, this would feasibly set Roland up as having some role as events of the future might play out in Normandy. As I’ve said, these are just my personal thoughts and wishful thinking about Roland’s character- I would love to see it play out in this way as some underlying tribute or nod to my family connection and version of the history!

 

 

Tracing my past back to Rollo!

In my previous post, I shared my personal timeline going back to Uhtred the Bold, Bamburgh Castle and early Northumbria. Within that lineage, I found one Judith of Lens who married Waltheof of Northumbria and gave me that link back to the history of Northumbria. What is important and special about Judith of Lens is that she also takes me back to Rollo of Normandy! Many of us  know Rollo for his current claim to fame in the Vikings Saga. If you follow this blog, you are well aware that I have always had a certain affinity or fondness for Rollo. Of course, it does help that Clive Standen does such a fine job of portraying him and probably makes him much more appealing to watch than the real Rollo would have been.  As I’ve watched the series unfold, I have become much more interested in the character and true history of Rollo than that of Ragnar. That is not because of Clive’s portrayal of the character although that does not hurt, but because of the actual history and the importance of Rollo and Normandy.  If you look at the history of the Vikings and compare the events or accomplishments of Ragnar and Rollo, it is clear that as far as Viking history and events go, Rollo of Normandy had a far more important and long lasting impact than Ragnar Lodbrok.  Ragnar is more of a myth or legend and his claims to fame have come more from the actions of his sons than any of his own accomplishments. When you look at his sons, even their claims to fame were relatively short lived and can not really be documented much deeper than their individual involvements in the Great Heathen Wars that constituted one portion of the Viking era in England.  Rollo of Normandy though, left a dynasty and legacy of many future generations that is verifiable and documented. 

 

Season 4 of the Vikings Saga will soon be upon us and we will see how Michael Hirst’s version of the Viking era plays out. While we should all be in agreement that this show is more historical fantasy than actual history, Mr. Hirst has made numerous assurances and promises that he will present Rollo’s story more according to actual historical events than fantasy. Perhaps this is due to the fact that Rollo’s life and accomplishments are more historically sound than the events of Ragnar’s or even Ecbert’s…

By including Rollo in this family story as a brother of Ragnar, I think in a way that Hirst  painted or wrote his way into a corner with Rollo’s story. Now, he must find a way to get Rollo out of that corner, separate him from the confines of Ragnar’s story and from the events that will take place in England. So far, he has made a start at this separation by creating the rivalry and possible betrayal of Ragnar on the part of Rollo.  He has set up a scenario whereby it will be possible to set Rollo’s story up as separate from Ragnar and his family.  If you look at the truer history of Rollo, there is little actual documentation of his Danish or Norse family ties so it would seem that for what ever reason, Rollo did indeed separate himself from any of those family ties.  That is not to say that he separated himself from his Viking heritage, traditions or beliefs because throughout his life he seemed to hold on to many of those traditions and beliefs.  What we glimpse in previews of season 4 is Rollo realizing that he must choose between family and personal destiny. 

Rollo must follow his own destiny even if it means a betrayal of his brother Ragnar. I know that this story arc has in a way turned into an us against them, team Ragnar vs team Rollo following or feeling but in reality, this confrontation and closing has to take place for the story to move on.  Perhaps Rollo does have to betray Ragnar in order to achieve his own goals, his own success in life. If he has to betray Ragnar, so be it… Ragnar will be dead before Rollo anyway.  As for the future that the preview shows us, my bigger concern is for Bjorn- it appears as though power may be corrupting him and going to his head bit?  

Now, back to Rollo… he seems to be adjusting to the Frankish customs and life rather well if you ask me!

12494942_10156478820890249_6442139554579576026_n

credit to @teamStanden for the photos of Rollo!

rollo season4

I am digressing and getting a bit side tracked here because my main intent for this post is to share more about the real Rollo and my personal connection to him, ancient and distant as it may be! So, let us return to the original focus of this discussion- which is my path back to Rollo through Judith of Lens.  Let’s play a quick game of six degrees of separation… How are these people connected to each other?

Rollo and Uhtred

I have spent the past few weeks trying to sort through the tangled webs and branches of my tree and figure out this connection. There were some extremely tangled branches due that pesky habit they had back then of marrying relatives, casting off wives, disowning each other or legitimizing children of concubines and mistresses, and that does not include the habit of listing heirs or offspring by their land titles or such instead of a common surname! Anyway, I have now untangled enough to trace a lineage back through Judith of Lens to Rollo.

For those of you unfamiliar with Judith of Lens, you can read her story in this previous article.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/19/my-ancestor-path-to-normandy-northumbria-and-even-a-uthred-the-bold/

You can also read more about her and Waltheof of Northumbria in a book by Elizabeth Chadwick called the Winter Mantle. The book is historical fiction- I definitely would not call it historical romance unless of course you consider a husband who commits treason and gets beheaded for it, and a wife who turns bitter and resentful a romance? Elizabeth Chadwick provides excellent historical details and events while creating two stories that cover the time and lives of Judith of Lens, Waltheof of Northumbria, their daughter Maude of Huntington and her husband Simon De Senlis. She also includes some a not so likable or pleasant portrayal of  Judith’s Mother Adelaide of Normandy who was a sister to William the Conqueror.  It is more of an epic lifetime saga than a romance and my only minor disappointment was in the fact that she ended the story before Simon’s death and Maude’s marriage to King David of Scotland! I will admit that had she included that portion, the book would have gone beyond the bounds of epic and been far too long for most people to keep going with the story. I am probably one of few who would endure the added length in order to read the rest of Maude’s story unfold! 

the winter mantle2

Judith of Lens

Judith of Lens

Maude of Huntington

Maude of Huntington

Adelaide of Normandy

Adelaide of Normandy

Waltheof of Northumbria

Waltheof of Northumbria

After picking through all of the threads of my lineage, here is my connection back to Rollo through Judith of Lens.

Relationship to me

Robert I Rollo The Viking Rolf the Ganger Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie Count of Rouen Ragnvaldsson (846 – 931)
34th great-grandfather
William I Longsword of Normandy 2nd Duke of Normandy (893 – 942)
son of Robert I Rollo The Viking Rolf the Ganger Prince of Norway & Saint De Normandie Count of Rouen Ragnvaldsson
Richard (The Fearless) of Normandy I (933 – 996)
son of William I Longsword of Normandy 2nd Duke of Normandy
Richard (The Good) Normandy II (963 – 1026)
son of Richard (The Fearless) of Normandy I
Robert I of Normandy (1000 – 1035)
son of Richard (The Good) Normandy II
Adelaide Normandy (1027 – 1090)
daughter of Robert I of Normandy
Judith of Lens (1054 – 1086)
daughter of Adelaide Normandy
Simon II Earl of Huntington De St Liz (1090 – 1153)
son of Maud Matilda Queen Consort of the Scots, Countess of Huntingdon and Northumbria
Simon III de Senlis (1138 – 1184)
son of Simon II Earl of Huntington De St Liz
Simon de Senlis (1181 – 1250)
son of Sir Simon IV Huntingdon DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis St Liz*
William DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis (1246 – 1286)
son of Simon De Saint Elizabeth de Senlis
Sir William St . Elizabeth Senlis (1274 – 1313)
son of William DeSaintElizabeth DeSenlis
Lady Alice De St Elizabeth (1300 – 1374)
daughter of Sir William St . Elizabeth Senlis
Richard Woodville De Wydeville (1385 – 1441)
son of Isabel “Lady of Swanbourne” de Lyons Godard
Joan Maud Wydville (1410 – 1462)
daughter of Richard Woodville De Wydeville
William Hathaway (1470 – )
son of Sir William XIII, Keeper of the Forest Dene, Hathaway
Robert Hathaway (1500 – 1545)
son of William Hathaway
Joan Hathaway (1536 – 1584)
daughter of Robert Hathaway
William Workman (1568 – 1628)
son of Joan Hathaway
John Workman (1590 – 1640)
son of William Workman
John William Workman (1600 – 1647)
son of John Workman
Dirck Jans Woertman (1630 – 1694)
son of John William Workman
Jan Derick Woertman (1665 – 1712)
son of Dirck Jans Woertman
Abraham Woertman Workman (1709 – 1736)
son of Jan Derick Woertman
William P Workman (1746 – 1836)
son of Abraham Woertman Workman
Amos Workman (1764 – 1844)
son of William P Workman
William Workman (1819 – 1906)
son of Isaac A. Workman
Charles W. Workman (1862 – 1956)
son of William Workman
Ward Harlan Workman (1924 – 1994)
son of Clarence Bertrand Workman
Judith Ann Workman
You are the daughter of Ward Harlan Workman
 So, Judith of Lens connects me to both Uhtred of Northumbria and Last Kingdom fame, and Rollo of history and Vikings Saga fame! In my previous post, I shared some of the history I learned about Northumbria. Now, I will share  more of the history surrounding Rollo and his dynasty. If you browse through my archives, you will find that I have already shared much of his history so I am not going to repeat all of it again. I am just going to add some of the history I’ve found about the family- the real family, not Mr. Hirst’s version of it, or the numerous variations and versions presented by Norse Sagas.  Because I am attempting to stick to the more factual details and documented evidence while tracing my ancestors, I am not going any further back than Rollo because there is just no concise or conclusive proof of anything beyond Rollo’s existence. One could include the information from Norse Sagas and such but that information is varying depending on which Saga one goes by. It’s difficult enough trying to piece together the sketchy documents there are for this far back let alone try to sift through numerous oral renditions written down centuries after the events. I have not included any of those possibilities in my family tree and will not include them here. Yes, I do know there are a great many stories and legends that take Rollo’s ancestry further back but at this point there is just not enough evidence to say conclusively exactly who his family really was. Historians can not even agree whether he was of Norse descent or Danish. Some documents list his origins as Danish and others list it as Norse. The only thing certain is that he was a Scandinavian Viking raider who managed to cut a good deal with a Frankish King for some coastal land which later became Normandy!
We know little or nothing factual about Rollo’s earlier life before Normandy but in reading through information on his son and grandson, we find that he did have a loyal group of Vikings that stood with him, supported him and went on to look after his interests/family after his death in 931. 
the warriors staying behind with rollo for the winter
When Rollo’s son William took over rule in 927, many of the men loyal to Rollo would eventually rebel against his son.  Rollo’s son William proved to be a bit of a disappointment to most.
William_longsword_statue_in_falaise
 It appears that he faced a rebellion early in his reign, from Normans who felt he had become too Gallicised. Subsequent years are obscure. In 939 William became involved in a war with Arnulf I of Flanders, which soon became intertwined with the other conflicts troubling the reign of Louis IV. He was killed by followers of Arnulf while at a meeting to settle their conflict in abt 940.  After having made rather a mess of his reign and the land of Normandy, his death also left the future uncertain because his heir was a young child at the time.  The age of Richard was not his only obstacle to his inheritance.  He was also the son of William I and a mistress and so was illegitimate. There were many who tried to take advantage of this for their own gain.
assassination of William Longsword

assassination of William Longsword

Richard was born to William I Longsword, princeps (chieftain or ruler) of Normandy, and Sprota. His mother was a Breton concubine captured in war and bound to William by a more danico marriage.  He was also the grandson of the famous Rollo. Richard was about 10 years old when his father was killed on 17 December 942.  William was told of the birth of a son after the battle with Riouf and other Viking rebels, but his existence was kept secret until a few years later when William Longsword first met his son Richard. After kissing the boy and declaring him his heir, William sent Richard to be raised in Bayeux. After William was killed, Sprota became the wife of Esperleng, a wealthy miller; Rodulf or Ralf  of Ivry was their son and Richard’s half-brother. 
Sproata, concubine of William I of Normandy

Sproata, concubine of William I of Normandy

It is with young Richard that we find the men who had been loyal to Rollo stepping up to save the boy and the future of Normandy. With the death of Richard’s father in 942, King Louis IV of France seized the lands of the Duchy of Normandy. The king installed the boy Richard in his father’s office, and placed him in the custody of the count of Ponthieu.  He then split up the Duchy, giving its lands in lower Normandy to Hugh the Great. The King used the excuse that he was seeing to the young nobleman’s education, but at the same time was giving some of Richard’s lands in Lower Normandy to Hugh the Great, Count of Paris.    Louis IV thereafter kept Richard in solitary confinement at Lâon, but the youth escaped from imprisonment with assistance of Osmond de Centville, Bernard de Senlis (who had been a companion of Rollo of Normandy), Ivo de Bellèsme, and Bernard the Dane  (ancestor to the families of Harcourt and Beaumont).  According to legend, Richard refused to eat while in captivity.  Because he appeared ill, the guard on him was relaxed. Osmond de Centville secretly entered Laon and smuggled Richard out of his confinement, reportedly by hiding him in a truss of hay. They then took refuge with Bernard of Senlis. In 1854 Charlotte Yonge retold the story of Richard in a series of stories called “The Little Duke.”  These stories, in turn, inspired Mark Twain’s book, “The Prince and the Pauper.”

Richard the fearless

Richard the fearless

Besides these men, another Viking is often mentioned in relation to Richard.  By 944 Louis IV’s soldiers had invaded Normandy again, and had seized control of Rouen, while Hugh the Great, Count of France invaded Lower Normandy around Bayeux. The alliance between Louis and Hugh, always historically unstable, broke down, when Bernard the Dane suggested to Louis that Hugh was getting more than his share of Normandy land. Hugh, in response to the King’s hostility, joined an alliance of Normans loyal to Richard and Danish Vikings under Harold (Harald) of Bayeux or of The Bassin.  This alliance ultimately defeated King Louis.  Harald continued to be of assistance to Richard and Normandy.    According to Flodoard, King Louis was invited to a meeting with this Harold in order to discuss peace terms.  Louis arrived with only a few men; Harold killed most of his men and Louis fled to Rouen where other Northmen, previously thought to be friendly to Louis, captured him.  He was only released to Hugh the Great when Louis gave his son Charles as a hostage at Rouen.  Although Louis was eventually given his freedom, the new alliance of Hugh of France and Richard of Normandy was now the new power in the region.

In 946, Richard agreed to “commend” himself to Hugh, the Count of Paris. At the age of 14, Richard allied himself with the Norman and Viking leaders in France, drove king Louis IV’s army out of Rouen, and successfully took back Normandy from him by 947.  Richard with the backing, the council and advice from those much older Viking Warriors took control and it might be said that he was the one most responsible for turning his Grandfather’s dream into a solid reality, a Kingdom to be reckoned with and if not liked, at least respected and possibly feared by other countries.   By 966 he was using the title “Marquis des Normands.” He never used the title Duke of Normandy, though some historians have retroactively assigned it to him. Richer of Rheims refers to him as “dux pyratorum” or “leader of the pirates”. In no sense did he mean “dux” as an official title.  Richard was also given the nickname of “Sans Peur” or The Fearless.  

Throughout Richard’s reign, there was continued connection and involvement with Viking factions which would suggest that while his Grand father Rollo may have severed personal family ties, he did not severe his connection to the Vikings.  In 961 a Viking band arrived in the Seine Valley and conducted raids towards the Brittany border and around Chartres.  It is possible these Vikings had the tacit support of Richard because the raids provoked hostility between Richard and an alliance of King Lothair and Theobald, Count of Chartres and Blois. Theobald attacked the Norman cities of Évereux and Roeun, and the Normans, in return, attacked Dunois and burned Chartres.  This conflict raged for four years. It is reported that Harold the Dane again came to the aid of Richard in 962.  Unless the medieval historians confused this war with the one of 945, this may be the same Harold who resided in the vicinity of Bayeux when William Longsword died. 

Eventually Richard did swear allegiance to Louis’ successor Lothar [Lothaire] in 965 at Gisors and the King acknowledged Richard’s rule over the Bessin, the Contetin and the Avranchin regions of Normandy. Richard promised to rebuild and restore the monastery of Mont. St. Michael, which he acquired in the agreement.    Other than these early conflicts, Richard’s long reign was relatively peaceful. After 965, Viking raids in the area ceased. Richard quarreled with King Æthelred (Ethelred) II of England.  At the time the Danes had invaded England and taken control over much of the eastern part of country.  Apparently the Normans had been purchasing a lot of the loot. In 991 Richard agreed to a non-aggression pact with King Æthelred, probably to keep either side from sheltering Viking marauders.

Gunnora wife of Richard the fearless

Gunnora wife of Richard the fearless

Gunnora

Gunnora

 Further evidence of the continued connection to the Danes is Richard’s relationship and eventual marriage to his concubine or mistress, Gunnora who was said to be of a noble family of Danes.  It is known that Richard had more than one mistress and one of these, Gunnora, he eventually married some time before 989.  Richard and Gunnora had eight children. She is sometimes called “Gunnora of Crépon” because she had a brother named “Herfast (Artfast) de Crépon” and nephew named “Osborn de Crépon.”  The term de Crépon was never attached to Gunnora’s name during her lifetime and, though Crépon is a town in Lower Normandy near Bayeux, there is no direct evidence that this was a location in which she ever lived.

Richard’s formal marriage to Gunnora was certainly carried out in order to legitimize their children, especially his eldest son and heir Richard II and his second son Robert who Richard had appointed as the Archbishop of Reoun.
All we know about Gunnora is that she was from a “noble family of Danes”, and so her family was probably one of the many Nordic settlers or their descendants that lived in Normandy.  According to Legend the young Richard was hunting in the forests of Normandy when he met and was attracted to a young lady named Sainsfrida (Senfrie), the daughter of a forester of Arques. Sainsfrida was, however, married and so sent her sister Gunnora to Richard.   The chronicles do not give the name of her parents.  Since their eldest son Richard II was born about 953, their relationship must have begun some time before this date.  In spite of conjecture in many family trees, there is absolutely no evidence that she was the daughter of Harold Bluetooth, King of Denmark.  She was referred to as Gunnora Harldsdottir but it is likely that she may have been the daughter of the previously mentioned Harald the Dane who, contrary to some popular assumption is not the same Harald as Harald Bluetooth. 
In looking at the differences between the failures of William and the successes of his son Richard, we probably need to look at them in relation to Rollo. By the time he was awarded Normandy, Rollo was a hardened professional warrior who was used to fighting for what he wanted. He most likely had not lived any easy life, nor had anything handed to him. When he finally achieved his goal of  wealth and land, he still had to work to hold on to it. He was a Viking and for the most part lived by Viking traditions and customs. One example of those customs was his “wife” Poppa of Bayeux.  The generally accepted theory is that Poppa was the daughter of Berenger II of Nuestria and was taken captive by Rollo during an attack on Bayeux in about 885. She was Rollo’s concubine or wife “more danico” in Norse/Danish tradition. She was not a slave and was most likely of high nobility.
statue of Poppa

statue of Poppa

Poppa of Bayeux

Poppa of Bayeux

 A more danico marriage meant “in the Danish manner” or “by Norse customary law“. It designates a type of traditional marriage practiced in northern Europe during the Middle Ages. It is possible, therefore, that marriage more danico was neither informal marriage nor even legitimized abduction, but simply secular marriage contracted in accordance with Germanic law, rather than ecclesiastical marriage.  More danico permitted polygyny (serial or simultaneous), but is not synonymous with it. The “putting away” of a more danico wife could apparently be done at the mere wish of the husband; the rights of the wife are unclear. Often the putting away was done with the intention of marrying a still higher-ranking woman more christiano; but since there are numerous instances of the husband returning to themore danico wife, it is possible that the relationship had merely been deactivated or kept in the background. The union could also be fully dissolved, so that the wife was free to marry another man. Her consent in the matter may or may not have been required; again, the consensual aspect is unknown.  By tradition and customary law, the children of such a relationship were in no way considered of lesser rank or disadvantaged with respect to inheritance. Many sons more danico went on to become dukes or kings by succession or conquest.
By accepting baptism and vassalage under a Christian prince under Charles the Simple after the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte in 911, Rollo had placed the Vikings of Normandy on the inevitable path of Christianization; but they clung to some old customs. 
 

 Norman chronicler William of Jumieges uses the term explicitly to refer to two relationships:

  • Rollo, founder of the Norman dynasty, had taken captive at Bayeux, Poppa, daughter of a count, Berengar. Dudo of Saint-Quentin relates that they had been joined in marriage (“connubium”), William of Jumieges describing that Rollo had joined himself to her by more danico. She was mother of his son William Longsword. It is related that he put Poppa aside to marry Gisela, daughter of Charles the Simple, and that when Gisela died, he returned to Poppa. However, the absence of any record of this royal princess or her marriage in Frankish sources suggests the entire supposed marriage to Gisela may be apocryphal.
  • William Longsword in his turn, had a son and heir by a woman whose name is given as Sprota. William of Jumieges reports that Longsword was bound to her pursuant to the mos danicus (“danico more iuncta”).  The chronicler Flodoard refers to her simply as Longsword’s ‘Breton concubine’ (“concubina britanna”).  William would formally marry Luitgarde of Vermandois, daughter of Heribert II, count of Vermandois. [Dudo iii, 32 (p. 70)], who following William’s death remarried to Thibaut, count of Blois. Sprota, who was mother of Longsword’s heir, Richard I, Duke of Normandy, is said to have been forced to become concubine of Esperleng, the rich owner of several mills, by whom she became mother of Rodulf of Ivry, although it is unclear if this occurred at the time of William’s marriage to Luitgarde, or at his death.
  • Richard I carried on the tradition of more danico with Gunnora. She was his wife more danico or concubine as early as sometime in 950s even though he entered into a Christian marriage with Emma daughter of Hugh the Great, Count of Paris.  She was born about 943 and died after 19 Mar 968. After her death he eventually married Gunnora in the Christian manner to ensure legitimacy of their many children after the church began taking a stricter approach and view on the more danico marriages. 

While many may perceive the relationship between Rollo and Poppa as that of her being a captive slave or just a mistress, in reality it was more likely a relationship and marriage of importance in terms of alliances and politics of the time. Being of some high status herself, Poppa would probably have taken this relationship seriously and expected to be treated with the respect due her rank and status. When she gave birth to son William in 893, she provided the much needed heir to the dynasty and would have sealed an alliance between Normandy and Bayeux. William was the heir apparent most likely would have been treated with high regard and esteem… given advantages and a much easier life than Rollo had.  There is reference to Rollo being well attached to his son and at one point he sent William to Bayeux to learn more of the Norse ways of Northmen residing within Bayeux.  From most accounts though, William was far more interested in becoming more Frankish and as a result his own people rebelled against him. It seems that this may have been a case of  William possibly being over indulged, given too much advantage and not having had to truly work for his title… not such an uncommon occurence for many heirs or children of a parent who has worked to achieve wealth and standing.  William was born in 893 while Rollo was working towards his greatness. This meant that Rollo was absent during most of William’s youth so his upbringing was most likely left predominantly to Poppa who was of Noble birth and would have raised William within that context of privilage and esteem. Rollo ruled until 927, which put William well into adulthood with little chance of ruling… it probably seemed to him that Rollo was going to live forever! This situation left William as a well privelaged adult with not a whole lot to do besides enjoy his Father’s wealth. When Rollo turned over the rule to his son in 927, he may have had concerns but probably felt that his son was capable of ruling and continuing along the path he had set. He also had few other choices… William was his only son and at the time, he was the legitimate heir.  Had Rollo chosen someone else to rule, there would have been rebellion from some faction.

Rollo died in 931 and William quickly began to make changes and rebelling against his Father’s policies. He set about building up his allegiances and alliances to the French Kings which caused the Norman Nobles to dissent. In 935, he went so far as to marry his younger sister Gerloc to  William, Count of Poitou with the approval of Hugh the Great. At the same time he At the same time Longsword married Luitgarde,  daughter of Count Herbert II of Vermandois whose dowry gave him the lands of Longueville, Coudres and Illiers l’Eveque.  In addition to supporting King Raoul, he was now a loyal ally of his father-in-law, Herbert II, both of whom his father Rollo had opposed. 

At the time of his arranged marriage to Luitgarde, William had a wife more danica, Sprota as well as his son and heir, Richard. This new marriage left Sprota and Richard in a difficult situation.  He did provide for her and Richard during this period as there was reference to her living in her own household at Bayeux under his protection but she was now looked on as a cast off concubine rather than a wife. Richard was left to endure the being the subject of ridicule, the French King Louis “abused the boy with bitter insults”, calling him “the son of a whore who had seduced another woman’s husband.” 

William’s actions during this time led to his ultimate downfall and death which in turn led to his young son Richard having to fight against all odds to reclaim his title and regain control of Normandy. So, essentially Richard was in much the same position as his Grandfather Rollo had been, fighting and working to achieve his worth and his fame.  After regaining control of Normandy in about 960, Richard spent the remainder of his lengthy reign focused on Normandy itself, and participated less in Frankish politics and its petty wars. In lieu of building up the Norman Empire by expansion, he stabilized the realm and reunited the Normans, forging the reclaimed Duchy of his father and grandfather into West Francia’s most cohesive and formidable principality. Rather than outright war, Richard  used marriage to build strong alliances. His marriage to Emma of Paris connected him directly to the House of Capet. His second wife, Gunnora, from a rival Viking group in the Cotentin, formed an alliance to that group, while her sisters formed the core group that were to provide loyal followers to him and his successors.  His daughters forged valuable marriage alliances with powerful neighboring counts as well as to the king of England.  He also strengthened ties to the church presumably understanding how important the church alliances were. Richard also built on his relationship with the church, restoring their lands and ensuring the great monasteries flourished in Normandy. His further reign was marked by an extended period of peace and tranquility.

While William may not have been successful in his reign or achievements, his son Richard more than made up for his inadequacies. Also, William’s decision to marry his sister into the house of Poitou and Aquitaine would prove to be one of his better decisions. 

gerloc Adeila of normandy

Gerloc (or Geirlaug), baptised in Rouen as Adela (or Adèle) in 912, was the daughter of Rollo, first duke of Normandy, and his wife, Poppa. She was the sister of Duke William Longsword.  In 935, she married William Towhead, the future count of Poitou and duke of Aquitaine. They had two children together before she died on 14 October 962:

Through her son William IV of Aquitaine, she would be ancestor to Dukes of Aquitaine and to Eleanor of Aquitaine. Her daughter Adelaide would go on to become a Queen of France. 

Dukes of Aquetaine

Dukes of Aquetaine

Adbelahide or Adele or Adelaide of Aquitaine (or Adelaide of Poitiers) (c. 945 or 952 – 1004) was the daughter of William III, Duke of Aquitaine andAdele of Normandy, daughter of Rollo of Normandy.  Her father used her as security for a truce with Hugh Capet, whom she married in 969.  In 987, after the death of Louis V, the last Carolingian king ofFrance, Hugh was elected the new king with Adelaide as queen. They were proclaimed at Senlis and blessed at Noyon. They were the founders of the Capetian dynasty of France.

Picture Name Father Birth Marriage Became queen Ceased to be queen spouse
Adelaide of Aquitaine.jpg Adelaide of Aquitaine William III, Duke of Aquitaine c. 945 970 3 July 987 1004 Hugh
Susanna of Italy.jpg Rozala of Italy Berengar II of Italy c. 937 988 996 7 February 1003 Robert II
Berthe de Bourgogne.jpg Bertha of Burgundy Conrad of Burgundy c. 952 996 1035?
Konstancie Arles.jpg Constance of Arles William I, Count of Provence 986 1003 25 July 1034
Of Frisia Matilda.jpg Matilda of Frisia Liudolf, Margrave of Frisia c. 1024 1034 1044 Henry I
Anne Kiev.jpg Anne of Kiev Yaroslav I, Grand Prince of Kiev c. 1024 19 May 1051 1075
Bertha of holland.jpg Bertha of Holland Floris I, Count of Holland c. 1055 1072 1094 Philip I
Bertrade-montfort2.jpg Bertrade de Montfort Simon I de Montfort c. 1070 15 May 1092 1117
Adelaidesavojska.jpg Adélaide de Maurienne Humbert II, Count of Savoy 1092 3 August 1115 18 November 1154 Louis VI
Illus-050-1-.jpg Eleanor of Aquitaine William X, Duke of Aquitaine 1122 22 July 1137 1137 21 March 1152
annulment
1 April 1204

The list of the Capetian dynasty is actually much longer. This above list is just a partial list of Queen Consorts for the Dynasty which continued until the death of Charles the IV in 1328.  The dynasty had a crucial role in the formation of the French state. Initially obeyed only in their own demesne, the Île-de-France, the Capetian kings slowly, but steadily, increased their power and influence until it grew to cover the entirety of their realm. For a detailed narration on the growth of French royal power, see Crown lands of France.

As you’re wading through all of this you may be wondering where Gisela of France is, and why she is not mentioned anywhere in this information?  Well, Gisela is not here because there simply is not enough verifiable evidence to back up her existence let alone her marriage to Rollo.   

Gisela of France, also called Gisella or Giséle (fl. 911), was traditionally a French princess and the consort of Rollo, duke of Normandy. Gisela had no children.  According to tradition, Rollo was betrothed to Gisela, daughter to the king of West Francia, Charles the Simple, after his conversion to Christianity upon his ascension as ruler of Normandy in 911. The marriage and the existence of Gisela are not confirmed. This excerpt from a book called Dictionary of Heroes gives an account of the supposed legend pertaining to Rollo and Gisela and also reaffirms the lack of any proof or evidence to back up the story.  If she did exist and did marry Rollo, she died childless and he maintained his previous relationship with Poppa, the Mother of his children.  So, for the purposes of lineage and ancestry or descendants of Rollo she would be inconsequential. Also, the accounts taken from the treaty of Saint Clair Epte only state that Rollo offered to marry her as a goodwill gesture. Since there is no definitive proof or documentation of any such actual marriage taking place, perhaps Rollo or Charles decided that the baptism would suffice and there was no need to carry things to such extreme as the marriage between the Viking and a Princess of France!

Rollo and Gisela from dictionary of heroes

There is a Gisela listed as a daughter of Charles the Simple and his first wife Frederuna, daughter of Dietrich, Count in the Hamaland. Together they had six daughters:

  • Ermentrude
  • Frederuna
  • Adelaide
  • Gisela, wife of Rollo (existence doubtful)
  • Rotrude
  • Hildegarde

There is always the possibility that having six daughters, Charles may have been willing to part with one of them in order to achieve some sort of peace but it does seem rather doubtful that a Carolingian King would allow for such an arrangement with one of their princesses that were so highly valued and esteemed. My one thought on this is that the daughter must really have annoyed and irritated him- obviously she would not have been a favored daughter for him to so willingly have traded her to a heathen Viking warrior. Hmmm come to think of it, perhaps it did happen and perhaps Hirst has given us a somewhat more accurate portrayal of history than we give him credit for?

gisla is still a young girl wanting her own way

gisla he disgusts me he makes me want to vomit charles with a rather unhappy Gisla at the mass rollo and gisla

If Mr Hirst goes for more historical accuracy with Rollo’s story, perhaps this will be a short lived marriage… Gisla will meet some sort of untimely or unfortunate demise and a woman named Poppa will show up. It’s hard to say where Mr. Hirst will take any of the story but at least now you know truer details of Rollo’s dynasty and legacy that includes so many generations of famous descendants as well as ordinary peons like myself.

And, at least now I know why I feel so compelled to remain loyal to Rollo despite his many faults, flaws and errors in judgement! 

 

 

 

 

Catching up with Wessex… and Judith

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

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

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

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

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

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

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

his name is Alfred He shall be great

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

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

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

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

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

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

 

ecbert: what are Judith's feelings towards her father

ecbert: what are Judith’s feelings towards her father

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of judith

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of Judith

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

 

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

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

Judith reassures him that Both sons are well

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

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

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

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

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

judith knows where he's headed with this recompense

judith knows where he’s headed with this recompense

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

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

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

 

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

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

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over judith

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over Judith

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of athelstan

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of Athelstan

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

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith is called to Ecbert's chambers

judith is called to Ecbert’s chambers

Judith accepts her fate and meets Ecbert in his private chamber

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep Dad has done it again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

great hall of Wessex

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

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

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

Judith is scoping out this situation now between Ecbert and Aethelwulf

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

 

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

judith holds her own in this game of power

 

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

 

Athelred and Alfred Judith's son in season 4 vikings

Athelred and Alfred Judith’s son in season 4 Vikings

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

ecbert

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

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Floki's punishment begins.

Floki’s punishment begins.

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to Floki, you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

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

floki suffers an even worse punishment

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

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

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

a game of what if2

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

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

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

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

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

Let me present my son Prince Magnus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rollo watches floki leave and tries to figure his friend out

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

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar's thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a tearful gisla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Vikings Comic-Con Panel now available!

Just a really quick post to share the Vikings Comic-Con Panel discussion video! I promised to share it here as soon as it was made available- it is now up on Youtube. If you were unable to attend comic-con or get into the panel discussion… don’t worry or feel bad, you are not alone! My representatives got as far as the waiting line but could not through the crowds. Now, you can enjoy the video in the comfort of your own hearth space along with a goodly amount of mead and not be bothered by all of those crowds!

A closer look at the Vikings season 4 preview

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

                                                                                                                       Athelstan

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

Does Athelstan reappear

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

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

a puzzled floki floki fighting later in the preview

 

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

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

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

the seer comes out in daylight

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

bjorn and aslaug

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

to whom do we owe our allegiance

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

who is your King

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

Bjorn:  I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

I order the arrest of Floki

helga at Floki's arrest

helga at Floki’s arrest

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

athelstan's punishment begins

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

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

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

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

And, then we see this treatment of  Floki…

floki suffers an even worse punishment

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

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

bjorn in the wilderness Bjorn's Holy Fuck moment

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

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

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

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

charles appears rather calm and even a bit happy

rollo and gisla rollo at his wedding a tearful gisla

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

A wtf moment for rollo

A Royal Wedding

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

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

seiging a castle rollo2

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

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

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

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

Roland's story

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

Ragnar is on his way

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

Two brothers two destinies

Rollo's destiny

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

lagertha faces more battle

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

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

lagertha and kalf are still together

It would appear that Einar may not be so lucky?

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

something unexpected an unpleasent is happening around lagertha lagertha looking concerned

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

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

kalf and lagertha

 

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

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

ecbert

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

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

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

judith is smiling that's some good sign judith

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

judith holds her own in this game of power

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comicon Vikings update!

Ahhhh my travelers managed to survive yesterday’s battles despite some unfortunate and painful defeats. They started the day with such high hopes of success too, only to be met with frustrating losses towards the end of their day. Fortunately, whilst I was holding down the home fort, I was able to achieve some amount of victory by scouting the twitter feeds for much desperately craved information about our Vikings! Let me note here, that was a most daunting and exhausting challenge in itself and by the end I felt as though I had been in the midst of the battle myself! I will get to those results soon. First let me share my warriors’ experiences because they truly did try and I must give them credit, thanks and appreciation for all of their efforts!

As I said, they began the day with high hopes of great success… Their first victory came in being able to get into the Big Bang panel discussion.  I have mentioned, have I not, that my warriors are self admitted Trekkies, science and history geeks and proud to call themselves dorks, nerds, geeks or what ever other label you might pin on them. Their obsessions and passions include a wide range of genres besides just Vikings or Outlander. So because of that, they are in their highest glory and excitement at being at a place filled with so many of their idols and their peoples!

big bang theory big bang theory2 big bang theory3

After their success with Big Bang, they attended a panel preview of new  Fox show, Lucifer. Lucifer is an upcoming American television series that is set to air on Fox,  and it is a loose adaptation of the comic book character created by Neil Gaiman for the comic book series The Sandman and its spin off comic book series Lucifer written by Mike Carey, both published by DC ComicsVertigo imprint. The series was officially picked up on May 9, 2015 for the 2015–16 season and it is scheduled to premiere in 2016. 

The series will focus on Lucifer, “who is bored and unhappy as the Lord of Hell and resigns his throne and abandons his kingdom for the beauty of Los Angeles, where he gets his kicks helping the LAPD punish criminals.”

Cast and characters

  • Tom Ellis as Lucifer Morningstar: The Lord of Hell who is bored of his life, abdicates and becomes consultant at the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD). running his own nightclub called Lux along the way.
  • Lesley-Ann Brandt as Maze: Lover, confidante and a devoted ally of Lucifer Morningstar. She is the war leader of the Lilin, a race descended from Lilith.  Lina Esco was originally cast for the role.
  • Lauren German as Chloe Dance: A homicide detective who aids Lucifer as he helps the LAPD solve crimes. The character description describes her as someone who is “repulsed and fascinated” by Lucifer as they work together to solve a murder.
  • Kevin Alejandro  as Dan: A LAPD homicide detective who is not a fan of Lucifer mainly because of the hellraiser’s connection to his wife and daughter. Nicholas Gonzalez was cast as Dan and shot the pilot episode.
  • Rachael Harris as Linda: Lucifer’s therapist
  • D. B. Woodside as Amenadiel: An angel that heads to Los Angeles planning to convince Lucifer to go back to Hell.
  • comicon15 comicon16 comicon17

Sadly my warriors encountered their defeat in the afternoon… They made an attempt to storm the gates of the Vikings Panel but were thwarted in their efforts by the massive crowds and others also waiting in line.  I do not hold ill wishes against them for this failure, they tried their hardest and felt much pain at the resounding loss. Not wanting to call the afternoon a total loss, they headed to their next destination, a panel discussion for Cosmos. They arrived there only to find that the much anticipated event had been cancelled! This completely devastated them and they chose to retreat themselves to the beach for the evening to lick their wounds and regroup for another day of battle.

As I mentioned earlier, I spent most of the afternoon yesterday deep in the trenches of twitter battle to retrieve Vikings information and news, so all was not a total waste on the Vikings front. I will try now to provide you with some photo recaps of the Vikings experiences as well as the latest rumors regarding the upcoming season.

First, before anything else because I know that you all want to see it if you haven’t yet… and believe me, you do want to see it- and see it again and again! Here is the official trailer!

Now, like so many others, my first reaction was, “Ohhh My Gods, WTF!” Ok, it still is that reaction, but after having had some time to calm down a bit, I reminded myself of a few important things. These promo trailers are made up of so many different clips spliced together in such way as to cause the most shock value, panic and drama. They are often put together out of context or sequence and lead you make assumptions on what will take place. Keeping that in mind, we should not draw too many concrete conclusions on the events as they occur in the promo trailer. What we do get for sure from this series of clips is that Yes, Ragnar has survived and looks much healthier but no less happy.  Yes, Floki seems to be paying dearly for his involvement in Athelstan’s death, and it appears that Bjorn takes some hand in his arrest. Aslaug does seek out the Seer to find out whether she might gain some power and status… and Ragnar does not seem too happy with her. Speaking of unhappy, Gisla appears none too happy about her wedding to Rollo- but then he doesn’t look all that happy about either? It appears that we do get to see this Royal Wedding- which is a plus for so many of us waiting for this event! We also get to see some not so wedded bliss afterwards… unless of course you think having your wife attempt to slit your throat is an indication of wedding bliss?

Looks like we get a wedding A wtf moment for rollo

Rollo’s supposed betrayal of his own people is mentioned but we really have no reason behind it or that battle as yet, so I think it’s unfair to jump to immediate conclusions. I will say that Rollo had to make some difficult choices on his road to power and those choices often involve decisions that might not sit well with others. I remain on Rollo’s side!

I will provide a more in depth look at the trailer after I get through the rest of this Comicon weekend! The panel discussion and various interviews confirmed the added episodes for next season with much of the reason being due to the increased interest in the show and the massive following it has developed. So many fans have voiced their desire to see more episodes that the powers above have listened! Other news that has fans curious is that of a new relationship for Ragnar.  Michael Hirst commented that he did much historical research to assure that this relationship would have been plausible during that time period… all he would confirm or verify is that it is a human, not a bear as Alexander Ludwig (Bjorn) suggests, or a goat as some of us might think. I will share now that recently I came across a video audition clip of some unknown actress reading for the part of Yidu. (Try as I might, I have not been able to track it down again) Anyway, during this reading, the character of Yidu tells a little of her past, her voyage and then must decide whether to accept a proposition to become part of the King Ragnar’s household and accept bedding with him. A second portion of the reading involved a conversation between Ragnar and Yidu where he asks her about her past, asks her to share her secret and offers to share his secret with her.

There was some discussion about the previous Bear clip, and about Bjorn? Alexander Ludwig commented that the Bear’s resume is probably more famous than anyone in the cast since the Bear is the same one of Anchorman fame. He also added some explanation for his run in with the bear- after finding that Porunn has left, Bjorn sets of his own solitary quest to put his life in some better perspective. During that quest, he encounters the Bear, his own immortality and it plays a role in his decisions about his future.

The panel discussion is not yet available to watch, but rest assured that when it becomes available, I will share it here as quickly as possible! From the twitter feeds, it was awesome and our Clive Standen was a huge hit when he tossed T-shirts out to the audience!

clive throwing t-shirts

Clive also consulted the Seer for answers… and took a great selfie with all of the fans! Three cheers, Hands up, and voices raised in appreciation of our Clive!

clive and his seer clive takes a selfie with the crowd

Here are some additional pictures of yesterday’s Vikings Fest and the cast out and about with the fans!

travis 2 travis and a lucky fan travis at party event this morning viking cast hanging out a longboat viking cast4 viking longboat bus at comicon viking longboat2 vikings cast3 vikings panel

 

Now back to my own fearless warriors and what’s on their agenda for their last day at Comicon.  As I said, they made retreat last night, took some time to regroup, refocus and approach today with a new battle plan… They awoke with renewed optimism- a new day, a new plan! They were determined to succeed this time…

ryan captain hammer will save us ryan's c-section pass for day 3

Even the youngest one amongst them was determined… I am told that she have been exposed to a bit too much of Spiderman? She came down the stairs this morning with one simple greeting to her fellow travelers, “I’m back!”  Yes, her Mother is attired in R2D2 apparel… I did say this is a group of true and highly proud Geeks!

Erin and evie ready for day 3

Their revised battle plan has paid off… They were successful in gaining entry to the grand ballroom where they will remain for the day and attend all of the events offered there including Once upon a Time, Grimm, a Seth Macfarlane panel on animation, and the final crowning glory of OUTLANDER!!!

This is from their first event… Once upon a Time.

comicon day 3 Once upon a time

Most recent update… sitting in on Norman Reedus discussion

sitting in on Norman Reedus discussion

Ok, I am off for now to attend to other priorities… I shall return later this evening with an update on the rest of the day at Comicon and hopefully news and pics of Outlander!