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Vikings Scarred: Sacrifice in Kattegat

 

Deep space nebulae

It is late, dark and quiet here… I stand at a window in this Villa of King Ecbert’s and stare out at the night sky. The stars shine so brightly tonight and I am reminded of something I heard as a child? Each of those stars  is a soul, a person departed from this life and now a shining star in the heavens above looking down on us lighting our way and guiding us. It comforted me as a child and it comforts me now as I look up and wonder which of those stars is my friend, Siggy.  My heart is aching, my eyes red from tears that I can not keep back no matter how hard I try.  I suffer my grief alone for now as I can not tell anyone here what has happened. All I can do is urge and plead with my friends to go home, go home quickly for I feel they are needed in Kattegat and in Hedeby. I fear for our safety here now as well… But, as I have said, I can say nothing for to tell them would cast me in a fearful light. Tonight is not a time to put myself in any doubtful position, not after the spectacle that happened at their feasting celebration. My friends here put up with my sometimes odd behaviors and thoughts for the most part. I make every effort to fit in and not call undue attention to myself. I am used to it, I have been living here in the past with these people for many years now have so far managed not to cause doubts or accusations on my sanity or be labeled as a sorceress or seer. I do not want that label at all, nor do I want the label of crazy villager, or worse here in a Christian world- that of witch?

Tonight is one of those rare times when I think about my past… the future and I wonder if I should not just go back to my life there? I really do not know if I am strong enough anymore in my heart to continue with this life in the past.  My mind is filled with doubts and with fears for our future and all I can do is stand here and weep for the loss of good friend. I look down at the parchment in my hands, know that I should burn it but I can not do it. It is all I have left of Siggy, these words, this account of the events that led to her death.  I hold on to the pages, my hands shaking and my tears dripping down to this paper.  My nose is running now as well, and with little thought, I wipe my nose on the sleeve of my dress. I do not care for my appearance at this point, in fact I have cared about little since receiving this message some days ago. I make excuses of illness to everyone here, they give me wide berth and avoid me… if it is something catching, none wants to be too near to me. That is fine with me, I am far better off with this solitary time in which to deal with my sorrow.

we all watched the final act of the feast a night of glorious feasting and celebration

I mentioned that there was a great celebration and feast of sorts tonight in honor of our victory over Mercia. Our warriors have returned home and they celebrate in some fashion, this victory. Whether it is truly a victory remains to be seen. I will speak more of this later.  for now, I must tell of how I came to receive this sad news of Kattegat.  You may recall that in some earlier writings, I mentioned my interest in Wilton Abbey and my desire to visit there. I enlisted the help of Lady Judith in this endeavor but she seemed quite preoccupied with her own personal matters and Athelstan.  I was about to give up hope on this whole idea when a young priest came from there in search of me.  Now, at first I assumed that the young man was mistaken when he insisted that he came with a message for me. He said that he had an urgent message for one Lady Judith… I of course told him that he must have the wrong Judith? I pointed him towards Lady Judith and told him that she was most likely the one he was in search of.  The young priest shook his head and said, “I know who that Lady Judith is! I am in search of you, the one who arrived with the North settlers.”

I was highly puzzled and confused by this. I know of no one outside this small village and our settlement. My concern must have shown on my face and he took some pity on me. He motioned to an alcove where we could speak more privately. Once there, he whispered his explanation.  “Shhhh just listen to me, this is important. We have a traveler there who has just recently arrived from the Dane lands. This traveler has a grave message for you. He said to tell you that Gunnar waits there for your visit.”  The priest held on to me when it appeared I might fall at his feet in a shocked faint. My “brother”, my friend Gunnar is still alive and is searching for me!

We had spoke at one time of Wilton Abbey and the possibility of using it as a meeting place or safe house. One of the first and most important things one learns in training for this time travel is knowing of such places where you might find shelter and safety if becomes necessary.  In our early discussions of this Wessex area, we chose Wilton Abbey as such a place for it’s proximity to Standing Stones… Stonehenge to be exact, and for it’s earliest reputation as a lesser known sanctuary. We also chose it because of it’s connections to Ecbert’s family, thinking it might be a more feasible option than some other places.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/vikings-on-to-wessex-season-premiere-review-part-2-of-3/

judith eying athelstan as usual

The priest made arrangements with Lady Judith, saying that he would gladly take me with him to Wilton… Judith being so pre-occupied with those other matters, happily went along with his suggestion. So, I made the trip to Wilton Abbey and was reunited with my friend Gunnar. It had been years since we saw each other last and frankly, I had assumed him dead! I did have a feeling that besides his news, what ever it might be, was not the only reason he was searching for me.  I was in possession of a rather large amount of treasure that was rightfully his. He had left it with me and told me to care for it, but to use it as I saw fit if he should not return. Ummm well, I guiltily looked at the chest… there was still quite a bit left but I had made use of some of it.  Damn, now I supposed he was going to want it back- so much for my retirement savings!

My worries over such pettiness as wealth were quickly forgotten once I met with Gunnar. We had our heartfelt reunion and he did express his guilt and apologies for having left me there in Kattegat on my own and not returning to see to my welfare. He did admonish and remind me though, that it had been my choice to stay. I could have left with the other travelers when they fled Kattegat during those years of Earl Haraldson’s madness and then the mess with Jarl Borg. He assumed that I had left with the others. When he met up with all of them they told him of my decision to remain with Siggy. He thought that I was safe enough with Siggy, and with Rollo so he continued on with his sea adventures. He had returned to Kattegat recently, now that it was at peace and was told of my leaving for England. Gunnar was in Kattegat to witness the awful events taking place and knew that he must come in search of me to tell me this news himself.  He took time to write it all down so that there is a written account of it for the future. That is what we are suppose to do here… document the various events with no interference or subjective slanting on our parts. We have all come to realize how impossible that task is though after being in the middle of history, meeting these people and becoming friends with them.

Gunnar made two copies of the story, one he will keep safe and send on with messengers to the future. The other copy, he gave to me to keep for myself, for my own memories of my Siggy. I know that I probably should not keep it. It is so risky to keep our journals but I can not part with it. So, I will hold it with my other treasured writings and thoughts… then I will take them out at times such as this, read them and remember my time spent here, remember those that I have come to hold so dear to me and cry my tears in private.  I know that returning to the future is but a fleeting thought in these moments of fear and heart ache. I will find my inner strength and I will go on. There are still others here that need me, such as Rollo. He has made such strides in putting his life together and becoming that man of greatness but I fear that this news of Siggy might cause him undue stress and much heart ache. I can not leave him to bear the brunt of it on his own, I worry that he is not yet strong enough in his convictions and determination to handle this well. No, I must stay on here now for Rollo’s sake. I will continue my path, and keep the promise I made to Siggy when I left her in Kattegat. I promised her that I would follow Rollo and watch over him as much as possible, see him safe and on his path to his own greatness. 

preview of episode 5!

preview of episode 5! Thanks to Ines Jager at Facebook Vikings Aftermath group!

As is often the case with sudden and unexpected tragedies, I am filled with doubts and second guessing as well. Perhaps I should have remained in Kattegat with her… would that have changed this outcome? I knew that she was suffering much guilt and depression over the events that happened with King Horik. She was not herself but she assured me that I should go with Rollo and she would be fine there on her own. I knew too of Aslaug’s disregard of Siggy, and her ill treatment of her but, then Aslaug treated all of us much in the same manner. She has always presumed that she is better than the rest of us, has treated us all as her servants and taken advantage of those with good hearts.

aslaug

Now, as my last honor to my friend Siggy, I will share the story here so that no one shall question the events that took place! Gunnar’s telling was far more objective but I can not be objective in the telling. I lived with these people for so long, I know them well and I know in my heart what that Bitch, Aslaug is capable of. After this, I will have no respect at all left for her and I will be happy to be witness to what ever downfall may come her way.

The problems in Kattegat began before the arrival of a strange wanderer named Harbard. Gunnar was in the village at the time and said that Siggy was not herself even then. He has known Siggy for some time from his days of trading in Kattegat, and he said that she seemed much bothered and unhappy even before the wanderer showed up in the village. There was talk of strange dreams and everyone in Aslaug’s household seemed ill at ease. At the time Gunnar put it down to them having to live with Aslaug, who he referred to as a shrew? He said too, that it must have worn on their nerves, the continuous crying of that baby, Ivar.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/03/05/vikings-wanderer-other-strangeness/

Siggy did share that she was bothered by bad dreans and feelings of  unknown fear? She mentioned that she had went so far as to seek help from the Seer, and he was no help at all! In fact, he seemed bothered by his own feelings of impending doom? When Siggy asked him for help, his reply was “No one can help you”

nobody could help you   It's true

nobody could help you It’s true

When this man, Harbard arrived in the village, strange things started happening and Siggy was open in her mistrust and misgivings about him. She was suspicious of him from the beginning. Then when those two boys were found drowned, and Ivar’s pain was temporarily relieved, Siggy became fearful and filled with dread that this strange man was not who he claimed to be. Her premonitions of danger increased, her nerves were on edge and she sank into a dark mood.  Siggy grew irritated and impatient with Aslaug’s attitude and shirking of responsibilities.  Aslaug was infatuated with this Harbard would listen to no warnings against her behaviors with him.  When Siggy tried to remind her of her responsibilities to the village and to her family, Aslaug bluntly told her that it was none of her concern, to mind her place and not speak to her Queen in such a way.

siggy is supsicious of how habard does his magic

Ragnar has left Kattegat in your care! You have responsibilities to this village and to your family.

Ragnar has left Kattegat in your care! You have responsibilities to this village and to your family.

It's not your concern . No it is my concern since you are once again leaving your children behind

It’s not your concern . No it is my concern since you are once again leaving your children behind

If you will not be responible I will do it  I will accept the responsibility for this village

If you will not be responible I will do it I will accept the responsibility for this village

Siggy had been caring for these boys since they were born… Aslaug has ever and always been too busy to pay too much attention to them or care for them. She can easily produce them and bring them into the world but does not seem to have too much concern or patience for the raising of them? In her opinion, I guess she feels that duty is somehow beneath her… The one she does care much for is the infant Ivar, who she insisted on saving from death, only to now have him live in constant suffering and pain.  In some limited defense of her Mothering abilities, maybe she is overwrought by the number of boys she has brought into the world in a rather short time. And, perhaps her feelings for baby Ivar are spurred by some guilt on her part at saving his life but now seeing what he must endure as a result.  Part of her infatuation with Harbard is due to the fact that he is the only one who is able to ease Ivar’s pain!

wanderer takes away the pain

Siggy has been more of a Mother to the boys than Aslaug. She cared deeply for those boys, maybe it was because of losing her own children that she cared for them. Probably too that is much of the reason for her frustration and anger at Aslaug’s inattention to her own children. Aslaug began spending far too much time with Harbard, leaving Siggy to hold the family and the matters of the village together. It caused Siggy to think of her previous life…

siggy wants to know where aslaug is going  can't you pay attention to your family and your duties

siggy wants to know where aslaug is going can’t you pay attention to your family and your duties

 

Siggy watches Aslaug walk out on her responsibilities

Siggy watches Aslaug walk out on her responsibilities

siggy remembers her past

siggy remembers her past

one last time to sit on this throne and think of this village One last thought of the man who used to sit beside her

Everyone wondered about this man, Harbard. Who was he? He claimed to be a wanderer, a story teller, told stories of the Gods and of life in Russia? I asked Gunnar about his thoughts on the man… as Gunnar and I are both travelers from the future, we do have our own thoughts on this strange man. Of course, many firmly believe that he is indeed a some sort of God like figure come to earth or Midgard to either mettle, interfere,  teach us some lesson, or test our faith.

Midgard (an anglicised form of Old Norse Miðgarðr; Old English Middangeard, Swedish Midgård, Old Saxon Middilgard, Old High German Mittilagart, Gothic Midjun-gards; literally “middle enclosure”) is the name for the world (in the sense of oikoumene) inhabited by and known to humans in early Germanic cosmology, and specifically one of the Nine Worlds in Norse mythology.

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

Harbard tells many stories of his homeland, Russia and insists that he is Father to the current Grand Duke of Russia, Olaf.

Now this Olaf is Grand duke of Kiev over all of Russia

Now this Olaf is Grand duke of Kiev over all of Russia

In the future of Russia, there will be another such wanderer, a mystic and a healer of Royal children… and eventually was in part responsible for the downfall of that Royal monarchy. While many would call Harbard a God, perhaps even Odin himself, others might see him as a charleton, a fake and a cult like influence? This is much the way the other “wanderer” of the future was also viewed. No one can be certain of who Harbard is but, for some of us who know the future, he bears some resemblance to the man known as Rasputin.

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin (Russian: Григорий Ефимович Распутин; IPA: [ɡrʲɪˈɡorʲɪj jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ rɐˈsputʲɪn]; 21 January [O.S. 9 January] 1869 – 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1916) was a Russian peasant, mystical faith healer and a trusted friend to the Tsar’s family. He became an influential figure in Saint Petersburg, especially after August 1915 when Tsar Nicholas II took command of the army at the front.

There is much uncertainty over Rasputin’s life and the degree of influence he exerted over the shy and irresolute Tsar and the strong-willed Alexandra Feodorovna, his wife. Accounts are often based on dubious memoirs, hearsay and legend.  While his influence and role may have been exaggerated, historians agree that his presence played a significant part in the increasing unpopularity of the Imperial couple and the downfall of the Russian Monarchy. Rasputin was killed as he was seen by both the left and right to be the root cause of Russia’s despair during World War I.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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

Maybe this Harbard is Odin come to midgard… or perhaps, he is some long distant ancestor of Rasputin? What ever the case, he has some mystical healing abilities along with ability to influence the gullible and willing Aslaug.  His ability to calm the troublesome Ivar is more than enough for Aslaug to feel greatly indebted to him and for her to find some way to repay him? Harbard does have a suggestion on how she could repay him?

she gave birth to a son called Olaf

Me I am not suffering . Yes you are,  your husband is gone and you fear he does not care for you any longer

Me I am not suffering . Yes you are, your husband is gone and you fear he does not care for you any longer

The most important thing to remember about this affair is that Harbard gives Aslaug a choice. He does not force her into anything, he tells her that if she is not willing, she should return to her children. Aslaug’s answer is clear and telling of  where her children fall on her list of priorities. “I do not want to be with my children… I want to be with you.”

Then go back to your children.   I do not want to be with my children

Then go back to your children. I do not want to be with my children

I want to be with you

I want to be with you

Aslaug makes her choice

Aslaug makes her choice

aslaug would ignore her children for a chance to have sex with a stranger

aslaug would ignore her children for a chance to have sex with a stranger

While she involves herself in this affair with Harbard, Siggy as usual is left to care for the children. She is left to keep them out mischief, and answer difficult questions such as “Where is our Mother? Why is she never here?”

where's our Mother  why is she always gone

where’s our Mother why is she always gone

Siggy in her own frustration with the whole situation, did grow a bit impatient… I am sure that she did not mean for her words to come out the way they did and set such a possible tone for future sibling rivalry? “Ivar needs your Mother more than you do”

 

Ivar needs you Mother more than you do   Hmmm way to set up future sibling rivalry siggy

Ivar needs you Mother more than you do Hmmm way to set up future sibling rivalry siggy

Siggy’s maternal instincts and her true caring for these boys takes over as she tries to help them understand. She tried to make excuses for Aslaug and not put the woman in a bad light to her sons.

siggy tries to make excuses for Aslaug  Your Mother goes to Harbard for help with your brother.

siggy tries to make excuses for Aslaug Your Mother goes to Harbard for help with your brother.

Siggy also poured out her heart in her explanation of sacrifices that a Mother makes for her children. As I said, Siggy raised these boys, and in some way I think she felt like they were her own sons. I think too that is part of why she remained so long in that household with Aslaug!

someday you will understand the sacrifices a Mother makes for her children

someday you will understand the sacrifices a Mother makes for her children

The boys were a handful though, curious and mischievous much like their Father. And, besides trying to keep them under control, she also had to deal with baby Ivar and his constant needs.

listening to baby ivar cry

listening to baby ivar cry

Once again, Ivar’s needs took precedence and the older boys saw a chance to escape for adventure.

so much for speeches they're busy with him again let's go

With Aslaug nowhere in sight to help care for the children, Helga and Siggy were stressed to their limits in caring for all of the children. When the boys took off, Helga could not follow as she had other children namely her own child, to watch!

the women have their hands full with little ones and Helga can not follow the boys

the women have their hands full with little ones and Helga can not follow the boys

Siggy’s bond with those boys caused her to feel a Mother’s intuition of when their child is in danger… Something that Aslaug obviously was lacking!

siggy has a premonition of fear for the boys

siggy has a premonition of fear for the boys

Siggy felt an overwhelming fear for the boys and took off in search of them. her search takes her through rocks that ominously resemble the sight where a young boy earlier sacrificed his life for her husband’s greed.

siggy heads out to search for the boys

her search takes her through rocks that ominously resemble the sight where a young boy earlier sacrificed his life for her husband's greed.

her search takes her through rocks that ominously resemble the sight where a young boy earlier sacrificed his life for her husband’s greed.

She also wanders  through woods such as  where her own two  boys might have perished in their own sacrifice.

and through woods where her boys might have perished in their own sacrifices

and through woods where her boys might have perished in their own sacrifices

Finally she arrived at the edge of the frozen lake to see the boys wandering out on to the ice. Panic stricken, she tries to remain calm and calls out to them to stop. They hesitate for a moment…

she arrives at the frozen lake and finds the boys out there they stop for a moment

With no thought of danger to herself, Siggy knew only that she must make a choice to step out on the cracking ice to reach the boys.

with no thought for herself Siggy steps toward her fate

with no thought for herself Siggy steps toward her fate

 

waiting for the ice to settle

waiting for the ice to settle

treading carefully over the ice with only thoughts of the boys safety in her mind

treading carefully over the ice with only thoughts of the boys safety in her mind

As she tried desperately to reach them in time, the ice cracked underneath the boys

the ice cracks underneath the boys

the ice cracks underneath the boys

 

a secondary hesitation before she disregards her own life for the boys

a secondary hesitation before she disregards her own life for the boys

she will go after them no matter what cost to herself

she will go after them no matter what cost to herself

She frantically struggled to find the boys under the ice…

searching the icy water for the boys

searching the icy water for the boys

finding the boys in the water

finding the boys in the water

As she fought to save them, an unknown hand reached down to help…

an unknown hand reaches down to help help from the gods and the angels above

The Gods above have sent help. Siggy sees the face of her daughter Thyri come to help save these two boys and welcome her Mother.

siggy sees her help radiant and glowing thyri come from above to help save these two boys and welcome her mother siggy sees the face of her daughter

thyri fills siggy with strength to rescue the other boy

thyri fills siggy with strength to rescue the other boy

Thyri filled Siggy with strength of the Gods to rescue the other boy.

siggy is filled with the gods strength in this final rescue

siggy is filled with the gods strength in this final rescue

He opens his eyes to see the face of Siggy as she rescues him from death… and perhaps in the future, he will remember those words she once spoke to him and his brother about the sacrifice a Mother will make for her children.

the boy comes awake and see the face of siggy saving him

the boy comes awake and see the face of siggy saving him

the sacrifice of a mother

the sacrifice of a mother

siggy's unearthly joy in knowing she has saved him

siggy’s unearthly joy in knowing she has saved him

After rescuing the second boy, Siggy sees not Thyri waiting for her on the ice, but Harbard?

habard suddenly appears habard looks down at siggy

Siggy’s hand clings to the ice while Harbard watches her. Will he reach down to save her… will she fight to stay alive? The choice seemed to be up to her to make. In those last few moments, she had to decide her own fate. He would not interfere, it was her decision to make for herself…. much as the earlier decision by Aslaug had been hers alone to make.

siggy's hand clings to the ice and to life for a moment longer she slips away she slips into the depths of the water

In the end it comes down to your choice… As Ragnar has often said, “We are always free to choose.”  Siggy made her final sacrifice for those boys she loved as much as her own. She gave them life and she chose to go on to those who waited for her on the other side.

siggy chooses her path

Will there be consequences for the choices we make? There are always consequences and we must always be accountable for our actions and our choices in this life.

 

I have only one last comment to add regarding my thoughts on Aslaug right now… 

You ass you took away my best babysitter now who is going watch these kids2

 

Last, but certainly not least by any means, I want to say a heartfelt thank you and appreciation to Jessalyn Gilsig for bringing Siggy to life for these seasons of Vikings! You have done an amazing job and I wish you much happiness in the future! My thanks and appreciation also to Michael Hirst for this final honor and tribute to the character of Siggy, and for his thoughtful handling of the necessary departure by Jessalyn from the series!

jessalyn-gilsig-history

http://www.zap2it.com/blogs/vikings_jessalyn_gilsig_explains_why_scarred_death_had_to_happen-2015-03

I knew that Siggy and Rollo would eventually have to part ways, but I did always hope that Siggy would find peace and happiness in life and maybe remain in Rollo’s life in some capacity even if it was just as friends… that did not happen, but Siggy, I think has found her peace in her sacrifice for the boys.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/?s=siggy

 

Rollo and siggy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

640px-England_Great_Army_map_svg NewMap871

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

History of Wessex

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

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

 

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

StonehengeMap wessexmap1_21

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

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

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

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

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

wilton_6_full

Wilton Abbey as it looks today

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

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

Life of a medieval nun

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

Medieval Convent

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

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

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

 

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

arriving in wessex

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

Not a happy family trip

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

some of us have to bring our troubles with us

ragnar is none too happy about porunn joining them

ragnar is none too happy about porunn joining them

 

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

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

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

I would also lose my child

I would also lose my child

I am not sure you should come with us

I am not sure you should come with us

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then we are truly equals now.

Then we are truly equals now.

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

aethelwulf watching the arrival

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

ecbert's great hall

ecbert’s great hall

ohhh I can tell I am not going like this story

ohhh I can tell I am not going like this story

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

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

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

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

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

that was not part of our agreement

that was not part of our agreement

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I want nothing more than to fight and raid

I want nothing more than to fight and raid

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

porrun will not be left out  I will fight too

porrun will not be left out I will fight too

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

Yes I will fight  the fly always follows the dead meat

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

aethelwulf volunteers to fight along side these pagans

aethelwulf volunteers to fight along side these pagans

aethelwulf and judith listen and watch the meeting

Finally, Lagertha voiced her thoughts on the matter

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

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

She does finally add her agreement….

Lagertha adds her agreement

Lagertha adds her agreement

But, Ecbert had a few other ideas as well…

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

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

ragnar is suspicious now   ahhhh yes, here it comes

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

you left this behind  Go on take it

you left this behind Go on take it

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

Athelstan must leave because

To be continued!