Tag Archive | Floki of Vikings saga

To kill a queen… or not

The title of this Vikings episode is a bit misleading in that no Queen actually meets her death in this episode! Ohhh, so sorry for that spoiler. And, on that spoiler note- if you have not watched the current season yet and do not want spoilers, please exit the page immediately! This page as well as most of the other Vikings episode related pages here does contain spoilers. There, that is your warning!

This article is a look at the darker side of attempting to kill a queen and my personal thoughts on all of it. We’ve already looked at the lighter moments and now we must visit the usual harsher, darker facts with all of their possible underlying meanings or future consequences.  Before we get into my thoughts, I want to suggest another article regarding the history involved in this episode. Patricia Bracewell has shared her views here and it is well worth reading! 

http://www.patriciabracewell.com/2016/02/vikings-4-episode-2-kill-the-queen/

I mentioned that the title is misleading because no Queen actually dies. There is great attempt and thought of killing one Queen outright, and then there is underlying and possible wishful thinking of killing a Queen- or at least wishing she were dead… 

I am going to talk about that wishful thinking first because that is the one that bothered me the most and left me conflicted once again. This underlying thought or wish involves Ragnar and Aslaug. Please keep in mind that I am not really a fan of either one of these two and am generally critical of both their behaviors. While I am not a fan of Aslaug, towards the end of last season I did see some redeeming attributes to her character in her dealings with Porunn and in the way she dealt with the Christian priest. Aslaug may be sneaky, manipulative, loose moraled and power hungry but she is a firm believer in the old ways and beliefs. That being said, she stood her ground in defense of those beliefs and suffered for them. In the first episode, when Bjorn arrested Floki, you could see the doubt and concern on her face.  Bjorn is arresting Floki for the murder of Athelstan, a Christian that many of those villagers-Bjorn included had expressed the exact same feelings and fears about as Floki did. 

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn's decision

even aslaug is not too sure about bjorn’s decision

There a great number of fans out there who feel that Aslaug is the evil incarnate equivalent of Rollo and that she got exactly what she deserved in this episode. What is conflicting for me is that these are generally the same people who take a moral high road, condemning Rollo and the Christians while praising Ragnar and all things Viking.  In this instance, Aslaug took a stand for the old beliefs, for the threat to those beliefs and she gets condemned for it.  Fans who are so outraged by Rollo’s behaviors such as “raping” a slave girl and treating Siggy so badly, applaud Ragnar’s treatment of Aslaug in this instance with their voices of “she deserved it”.  I guess she “deserved it because she had the nerve to question Ragnar’s authority, his rule and thus proved herself once more disloyal to him because she placed her loyalties to the Gods above that of her King. Realistically, there are so many other offenses that she could have been justifiably  punished for had they been public knowledge (and, I think that with Ragnar’s habit of keeping tabs on everyone, he does know of those offenses). To me this event just shows that Ragnar is losing control of his well maintained facade of calmness under pressure. 

Floki had a valid point when he made the statement that he was loyal to the Gods first and foremost and would continue to put his religion above his loyalty to Ragnar. I am not necessarily condoning Floki’s action either in killing Athelstan. He knew it was wrong, he knew what the consequences would be. If he felt so strongly that Athelstan and Ragnar’s involvement with the Christian were such a threat to his personal beliefs and his loyalties, then he should have chosen to walk away from Ragnar right then rather than resort to the secretive killing that he did.  

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he's right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

aslaug stands up to ragnar for floki because he’s right what did he do so wrong he killed a christian.

Ragnar is correct when he makes the comment, “This is not about religion, this about loyalty and respect…” Ragnar has chosen personal power and control over the more moral and ethical reasoning of what is good for the people. He has brought this debate or issue over Floki down to the most personal of levels- a dispute between two one time friends who now differ in their most basic core belief systems. Neither of them will back down from their belief that they are right and because of that, everyone else will be dragged into the dispute and suffer for it.   The problem with Ragnar’s current thinking and method of leadership is that it as turned to one more of fear than anything else. These people have experienced his better side of ruling for the good of all of them and now thrust into a position of following him not so much because they trust his judgement but because they most likely fear they will suffer the same fate as Floki.  There are times when instilling fear is necessary, but that sort of thing generally happens in the beginning of one’s rule as a means of gaining some control over a situation or group of people. It usually does not play out so well to use the fear tactic against those who originally on your side and assumed that you were on theirs.  

As floki mentions, there comes a point in one’s life when one must make a decision on whether or not to follow a leader based on one’s personal ethics, morals and beliefs. In a way, Floki’s decision to follow his own conscience speaks of what others will have to decide in the future. Do they follow Ragnar blindly without question just because he is their leader no matter what he decides to do… or do they at some point begin to question his motives, his personal agenda and his methods? This is much the same position that Ragnar and his followers were in when they questioned King Harald’s rule and Horik’s rule… Ragnar is now putting himself close to that same category as those two leaders that he fought to bring down. 

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

ragnar is losing control this is not about christians this is about loyalty!

Ragnar is outraged that Aslaug would even think of taking Floki’s side in this. He is determined that he is King and he is right no matter what and anyone who would question his actions is guilty of disloyalty or treason. His rage causes him to lose control and he strikes out at Aslaug, knocking her down… the look on his face is one of utter contempt and that underlying thought of wishing he could do more to her, wishing her dead. To be honest, I was waiting for him to add a final blow or kick to her while she was down on the floor. 

ragnar takes his anger out on aslaug

Ragnar takes his anger out on Aslaug

Realistically, the situation between Ragnar and Aslaug comes down to them both wishing the other was dead! The rather sad part about Aslaug’s story direction in the show is that in the Sagas, Aslaug remained loyal to Ragnar and went so far as to sew him a magic shirt to protect him against the Snakes she foresaw for him in England. Unfortunately, I do not see Aslaug sewing him anything in the future other than possibly a shroud!

I guess this pretty much rules out that majic shirt to protect from snakes

While Aslaug’s treatment did not sit well with me, the even more disturbing event was the fallout of this personal quarrel for others, mainly Helga and her daughter. Her situation apparently did not sit too well with Ragnar either because he did appear genuinely bothered by her situation.  It could be said that Helga brought about her situation on her own by helping Floki to escape in the first place. While that might be a fair assumption, it does nothing to detract from the true emotional torture that Helga was enduring by being caught in the middle of this argument. She has to stand by and watch her husband tortured for his refusal to give up on his personal beliefs, his denial of any wrongdoing, and his unwillingness to compromise those values even in the face of suffering to his family. In fact, he goes so far as to use Helga’s emotional tie in still loving him as a means of saving himself. He is as guilty and as stubborn as Ragnar in this situation and is only thinking of himself. 

helga tries to stop the children a difficult reunion to watch

I do have to mention here that as much as I feel for Helga’s pain and the suffering she endures, she does bear some responsibility and some blame for the events that brought her so much pain and grief.  First of all, my one frustrated thought with her actions began when she subjected little Agriboda to that visit with Floki tied to the stake? Was she perhaps hoping that the sight of his child seeing him like this might spark some balancing thought in Floki’s head? Some thought of “What am I doing to my family, should I not have some care about them above my own needs or thoughts?” If that was her intent, then of course it failed miserably and Floki used Helga’s feeling to manipulate her into doing something she knew was wrong.  When Ragnar asked her later why she did it, she made a comment about love… She allowed her love of Floki to take precedence over her love of her child. Perhaps this is why she must suffer a torture far greater than that of Floki. 

My other thought is one of Why is Helga living down here in the cold, in a way at the edge of nowhere… Has she been shunned by the others or has she set herself apart from everyone because she feels some guilt for the part she has played? Her present circumstances also bring us back to Aslaug. Aslaug who stood up and defended Floki’s actions yet apparently felt no concern for Helga’s situation. What ever the reason, Helga is living a destitute life and her child is suffering because of it. 

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

helga and abrigoda living in cold at the edge of nowhere

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don't blame you...

agriboda is sick and coughing helga tries to comfort her while ragnar says I don’t blame you…

Ragnar does show some concern for her welfare and leaves a bag of food for them.

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

ragnar does take pity on helga and leaves a bag of food for her

Later we see how the actions of everyone, including Helga have played a part in the greatest torture and pain… the loss of an innocent child. While Floki may be suffering extreme physical torture at the hands of Ragnar, Helga is experiencing the far greater torture of having to bury her child and probably coming to the understanding or realization that she must share some guilt in this senseless death brought about mainly because two men were too self involved and egotistical to waiver on their mindset, and because she put her feelings for Floki above the needs of her child. It was a sad, painful event to watch and there was a moment when it seemed that even Ragnar might have some feelings of his own complicity in this death.

burying an innocent child

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave...

does this death have any affect on ragnar well he does step in and dig the grave…

a few moments of compassion

a few moments of compassion

The one thing I did not understand was when Ragnar asked Helga if she had told Floki… How could she have told floki when Ragnar has him already enduring his own personal torture???

floki is enduring his own punishment so really how could helga have told him of agriboda's death

 

In contrast to Helga’s actions and the result of them, on the other side of the sea in Wessex we see a far different version of a Mother’s struggle to keep her child alive. And, it comes from the one woman you would probably least expect it of given her previous behaviors. From what we’ve seen of Princess Kweni in the past, I have to say that I did not expect her to have much Motherly instinct or concern for her child other than for how she might use said child to her own advantage. 

In our return to Wessex, we saw an outright attempt to kill Queen Kweni- and not an attempt from those in Wessex… though I have some doubts or suspicions on who might have actually instigated this overthrow and ousting of her. Ecbert’s response to the event was along the lines of “save the child, just be sure to keep the child alive no matter what” He had no concerns for Kweni’s survival.

There was the usual disagreement between Ecbert and Aethelwulf over how to put down this rebellion and rescue those being held hostage- Kweni and her son. There was also dispute and dissent from the local Noblemen over having to call their troops up for this event. Ecbert does take note of those balking at the deployment and actually gives them some foreshadowing sound advice…

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf have some disagreement over how to proceed.

I am quite certain that this Nobleman and the one next to him may eventually feel some pain of retribution for their dissenting remarks… As we’ve seen in the past, Ecbert does not forget who made what comment.

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

wessex noblemen balk at having to raise their armies

Ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army ready because Ragnar and those Northmen will most assuredly return to our shores!

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

ecbert must explain the necessity of keeping a standing army

Aethelwulf is in charge of leading an army into Mercia to rescue Kweni and child.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

Ecbert and Aethelwulf present a united front despite their differences.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

aethelwulf is in charge of training the army.

As Aethelwulf trains and prepares his forces, in Mercia a damsel in distress awaits rescue…

a damsel in distress in a tower...

a damsel in distress in a tower…

The battle was intense and brutal but despite some minor problems and setbacks, Aethelwulf held his own in this battle. He is not the only one that held their own. Locked in the tower with armed guards, Kweni proved her warrior spirit and her Motherly instinct!

and it's aethelwulf to the rescue... maybe?

and it’s aethelwulf to the rescue… maybe?

 Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe...

Aethelwulf is having a few problems defeating his foe…

aethelwulf I should have ate breakfast

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

why waste arrows when rocks work just as well

While Aethelwulf was battling the tower, Kweni waged her own defensive attack against foes who meant to harm her and her child. She did it armed with nothing but a seriously scary needle, a blanket and a human shield. This woman was in a life and death battle for the life of her and her child and she was determined to win!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

A seriousl scary looking needle!

well that needle is good for something anyway

well that needle is good for something anyway

kweni's found her battle mode

Kweni shows her warrior battle mode

kweni must have heard about Einar's tactics of using a human shield

kweni must have heard about Einar’s tactics of using a human shield

Kweni fights back with the rage of a Mother

Kweni will fight to the death for her child

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby

Kweni does have a motherly instinct after all nobody messes with her baby Magnus!

Eventually Aethelwulf does come to her rescue and her response is perfect!

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

Aethelwulf finally makes it to the top of the tower to rescue damsel kweni

kweni's response... what took you so long!

kweni’s response… what took you so long!

In a way, Helga’s story and Kweni’s have that parallel contrast that Hirst loves so much. We have Helga as one who has basically lost her way, her will and seems in some way to have given up the fight. On the other hand, we have Kweni who against all odds, has lost none of her fighting instinct to survive and keep her child alive.

A mother's will and way

Vikings Warrior’s fate is sacrifice

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

please do me the honor of speaking to my face

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

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

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

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

 

besides who knows how the settlement will fare in the future

besides who knows how the settlement will fare in the future

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

Ecbert gets silence in return

Ecbert gets silence in return

I will remember your doubt and your questioning of my authority

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

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

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

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

ecbert asks Athelstan to bless the new house

Stones are much easier to wear than earth

 

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

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

 

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

look look around you at all of our dead

look look around you at all of our dead

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

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

all of those we have sacrificed for your jesus

all of those we have sacrificed for your jesus

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Aelle and his lovely wife

judith with her fathe Aille Judith_Wedding vikings

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

aethelwulf watching the arrival aethelwulf2

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

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

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

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

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

 

judith plays a dangerous game

judith plays a dangerous game

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

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

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

judith admits her tiredness of trying to be good

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

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

lagertha the goddess

lagertha the goddess

 

 

Vikings early days: Dispossessed

The early days of Athelstan's journey

The early days of Athelstan’s journey

Because two men lack self control...

Because two men lack self control…

Note: I have noticed in browsing through other reviews and recaps of this early episode, Season 1- episode 3, that it does not get as much attention as I think it should? While it may not seem as event worthy as some other episodes, it sets the scene and the tone for the rest of the season and for the future. We see the depths of Earl Haraldson’s depravity, cruelty and madness beginning. We also see the shaky beginnings of some fragile form of friendship between Ragnar and Athelstan. This episode is where Ragnar shows the beginnings of his leadership qualities as well as his ability to see the world in broader terms than just raiding. In other scenes we can glimpse the lack of control in both Floki and Rollo, and we see how the behaviors of these men will be trials to Ragnar in the future.  It’s interesting to look back at this episode and see in retrospect how all of these events play into the future.

I fear it will be some time before I can safely get my messages out of this village. Earl Haraldson is becoming more and more paranoid as each day goes by. He is angered beyond control at the return of  Ragnar and his raiding party even though they brought back such treasures of great wealth. Ragnar’s success has put Haraldson in an worse light to the people. He has lost face with them and can not bring himself to change his ways of thinking. On their return, he confiscated all of the treasure and the boat, saying it was all his to begin with as he was the Chieftain here, everything belongs to him and we should all  be wise to remember that fact. He did relent somewhat and offered Ragnar a portion of the treasure. Ragnar chose not treasure but asked to keep the slave, Athelstan.

Ragnar with his treasure athelstan

ragnar with slave athelstan

Everyone was much surprised and many thought Ragnar a fool for this choice but he was insistent that this slave would be worth more to him than any small bit of treasure Earl Haraldson was willing to part with right now. The rest of the raiders were disheartened at not receiving their share of treasure after making the perilous voyage to earn it. It was a somber group afterwards and everyone departed with much grumbling to themselves about how this voyage had turned out and about Earl Haraldson’s treatment of them.

Ragnar takes Athelstan home

Ragnar brought Athelstan home and introduced him to his family… they were not overly impressed by this addition to their household!

gyda and lagertha

 

As some time went by, Athelstan struggled to adjust to  this new life… and he began to realize just what a precarious situation he was in. He had nothing left but his faith and remnants of it’s symbolism to hold on to- such as his shaved head that marked him as one of God’s men, but that mark was disappearing and he feared his faith would as well?

Athelstan in distress over his situation

Not that he was treated all that badly, because he was not. Ragnar and Lagertha tried to treat him as well as possible given the circumstances. He was indeed a strange one to all of them and they did not understand his odd ways at all!  When he was not helping them with the farm work, he spent most of his time with his treasured book. Late into the night, he would attempt to lose himself, or find himself within the pages of that book.  Often times, he would try hard to focus on the book and not the sounds around him at night…

Athelstan's book

Athelstan’s book

As I said, Ragnar and Lagertha made every attempt to treat him as they would treat other guests in their home?  They even went so far as to offer to share their bed with him!

ragnar and lagertha ask athelstan to join them

ragnar and lagertha ask athelstan to join them

Athelstan was  dumbfounded and much uncomfortable with this offer.

I am a monk I must refuse

I am a monk I must refuse

They did not understand his hesitancy and continued to tease and tempt him.

Come on you'll enjoy it

Come on you’ll enjoy it

He explained to them that he had taken a vow of celibacy, could not partake of such actions… he could not look at or touch a woman in such a way.

Wouldn't you like to touch a woman?

Wouldn’t you like to touch a woman?

Ragnar and Lagertha tempt him

They did finally give up and left him alone to seek comfort from his book!

 

While the Lodroks and Athelstan were adjusting to their new life situation at the farmstead, other not so pleasant things were happening in the village.  The first thing was the disappearance of a young boy? No one is really sure what happened to him but we are all certain that Earl Haraldson had something to do with it! The boy had mentioned earlier that Earl Haraldson’s man offered him a small payment if he would help him with a chore later that evening? The boy was never seen again and naturally when Haraldson and his man were questioned, they said they had no idea what the boy could have been talking about? Most likely he ran off on his own adventure?

What really happened that night made it evident that Earl Haraldson is crossing the lines and boundaries of any acceptable behavior. He decided to bury the treasure in a separate secret cairn or hoard. Now, it would have been acceptable for him to set the treasure aside to buried with him upon his death to take to Valhalla with him when he crossed the river… that would have been appropriate, understood and accepted. But, this separate burial in such a way as he did made it very clear that he was going by his own personal and skewed rationale rather than acceptable beliefs! It also proves just how vicious and cruel he was becoming!

While he has the young boy dig a pit for  him, he has a friendly conversation with the boy, encouraging him and putting him at ease. He asks the boy how old he is? When the boy responds with thirteen, Earl Haraldson mentions that is the same age as his son would have been?

 

men will soon be going on summer raids are you looking forward to joining

men will soon be going on summer raids are you looking forward to joining them?

digging a pit

digging a pit

 

He goes on to talk about the need to bury his treasure so it can accompany him on his death… and then mentions how the hoard need protecting now and in the next life.

the hoard needs protection in this life and the next

the hoard needs protection in this life and the next

The Earl’s truest motive and intent suddenly becomes quite clear even in the dark. The boy is slaughtered as a some sort of sacrifice or vengeance and left with the treasure, buried and secret!

You've already seen enough life boy

You’ve already seen enough life boy

Needless to say, the boy’s disappearance has set the village even more on edge than it was previously! There was a witness to this horrific event, that is how we come to know of it now, but that young one is too frightened to come forth. I do not blame this person, we all live in great fear of Earl Haraldson now. I believe his wife Siggy is as fearful as the rest of us but puts up a good front and face of it in order to keep herself on his good side. She is one who will do what ever it takes to survive and hold on to some semblance of her self worth.

 

 

Ragnar is most unaware of this disturbance as he has been at his home trying to gain the trust and friendship of Athelstan… He asks Athelstan about the importance of his book, of his God, and of England. Athelstan tries to explain all of it.

Athelstan explains England and his God to Ragnar

Athelstan explains England and his God to Ragnar

What are these souls?  I want to learn of all this.

What are these souls? I want to learn of all this.

 

Athelstan does not realize yet how cleverly Ragnar’s mind works? He shares all of his information about England with Ragnar only to have it used against him later.

This is what else the Earl has been up to in the village… it is the sight that greets Athelstan as Ragnar brings him into the village to a meeting with the Earl.

The other monks have been put to death

With this sight fresh on his mind, Athelstan kneels in fear as Ragnar forces him to while he meets with Earl Haraldson. Ragnar asks for permission to go on another raid to this England and uses the information that Athelstan shared with him to convince Haraldson. Athelstan is appalled at Ragnar’s action and tries to deny it’s truth. Haraldson does not believe Athalstan’s denials but agrees to Ragnar’s proposal only on one condition.

ragnar meets with haraldson

haraldson debates on ragnar's idea to go west again

haraldson debates on ragnar’s idea to go west again

He tells Ragnar that he can go only if Haraldson’s half brother Knut goes with them. Knut was the spy who betrayed them and did not show up to go on the first voyage. Ragnar appears unconcerned about this and agrees to the terms.

You can go only if Knut goes with you

You can go only if Knut goes with you

Later that evening, they pass the dead monks again.

going past the dead ones

going past the dead ones

Athelstan stops and kneels in front of them, refusing to go on… he most likely is feeling the guilt of betraying his country and causing future slaughter to all there.

Athelstan stops and kneels

Athelstan stops and kneels

There is a feeling that Athelstan would welcome his own death along with that of the other monks, but Ragnar does not kill him. In fact, he cuts him free and tells him to run if he so chooses?

he thinks he is about to die but Ragnar only cuts him loose tells him to run if he wants

he thinks he is about to die but Ragnar only cuts him loose tells him to run if he wants

Athelstan stands for a moment watching Ragnar walk away… What are his choices? He has seen what happened to the others, he would most likely not get very far before meeting the same fate. Does he really want to die with them? He has nothing, no where else to go so he chooses to follow Ragnar.

having no where else to go and in fear of everyone else he follows Ragnar

having no where else to go and in fear of everyone else he follows Ragnar

That night, Ragnar surprises Lagertha with the suggestion that she go with them on this raid?

Ragnar tells Lagertha he wants her to come with him on this next raid.

Ragnar tells Lagertha he wants her to come with him on this next raid.

Lagertha thinks he is meanly teasing her, “What about the farm? And the children?”

Are you jesting with me what about the farm and the children?

Are you jesting with me what about the farm and the children?

Ragnar tells them that Athelstan can help with the farm and mind the children. Bjorn is not amused… in fact he is disgusted and insulted that a slave should be put over him, the heir of the household!

bjorn insulted that a slave is put above him

Ragnar asks sweet Gyda what she thinks? “I don’t mind, I like the priest!”

What do you think Gyda  I don't mind I like the priest

What do you think Gyda? I don’t mind I like the priest!

Ragnar’s response, “There, it’s settled then!” Lagertha had a slightly different response?

If any harm comes to my children I shall rip the lungs out of your body!

If any harm comes to my children I shall rip the lungs out of your body!

 

This voyage would prove to be trouble from the very start! Beginning with the arrival of Knut on the boat.

knut does his duty to haraldson and spies on everything on the boat

knut does his duty to haraldson and spies on everything on the boat

Rollo’s short temper flares already… he does not trust Knut- to Rollo’s credit, he is well justified in that feeling?

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo does not trust knut and confronts him

Rollo’s warning to Knut… A war band lives and fights together. If you can’t trust the men to either side of you, behind you or in front of

you, you are already a dead man.

If you can not trust those around you. You are already a dead man

If you can not trust those around you. You are already a dead man

 

The rest of the voyage is uneventful this time, until they reach their destination?

Their arrival has not gone un noticed

Their arrival has not gone un-noticed

Lindisfarne793

north-britain-map-with-lindesfarne1

north-britain-map-with-lindesfarne1

Northumbria-in-802

Northumbria-in-802

sailing into Northumbria

This time they are met by a band of warriors not a group of pathetic priests.

This time they are met by warriors not priests

A careful and cautious greeting from the English leader.

A careful greeting  Who are you? What do you do here? Are you traders?

A careful greeting Who are you? What do you do here? Are you traders?

Athelstan’s English lessons have paid off and Ragnar is initially able to keep the peace and greet the English.

Ragnar tries diplomacy.  We're Northmen,  yes we are traders.

Ragnar tries diplomacy. We’re Northmen, yes we are traders.

He is making some headway in the conversation but having difficulty controlling a few of his men? One of those men would be his brother Rollo!

of course Rollo is distrustful and suspicious  it's a trap don't listen they will kill us

of course Rollo is distrustful and suspicious it’s a trap don’t listen they will kill us

Another one is the easily agitated floki!

Ragnar has to quickly try to diffuse the situation

Rollo will not be deterred, or silenced in his doubt? He continues to insist that it is a trap!

No it's a trap

No it’s a trap

The other men start to get edgy and doubtful as well…

I'm with Rollo I say we kill them now

I’m with Rollo I say we kill them now

The English Leader grows concerned and wary, asking what is wrong with that man, pointing to Rollo.

What's the matter with him?  He doesn't trust you

What’s the matter with him? He doesn’t trust you

The English leader attempts to offer a gesture of good faith and peace…

an offer of good faith and peace

an offer of good faith and peace

Would the peace offering work? Would Rollo calm down and be appeased for a time?

Will Rollo accept and be appeased?

Will Rollo accept and be appeased?

Well, it might have worked had it not been for Floki losing what little control he maintains over himself?

floki is on edge he is losing what little control he maintains

floki is on edge he is losing what little control he maintains.

Floki went over the edge, lost his control and turned berserker at the sight of a cross?

Bloodlust turns men berserkr

Floki ripped the cross off from the young man…

Floki breaks the peace rips cross of a soldier

Floki breaks the peace rips cross of a soldier

which sent both sides into a rage of panic!

Panic sets in swords are drawn

Panic sets in swords are drawn

There was a comment made of, “What are you doing? I thought we were trying to be friends…”

A battle begins

A battle begins

leaders try to stop it but it's too late

leaders try to stop it but it’s too late

Rollo loses his control and slays the one who was trying to keep the peace!

rollos strikes a blow

Now Ragnar is in the middle of a battle he tried to avoid, and because of his men who lost their self control, he must win this battle!

ragnar in the middle of a battle he did not want  now he must win

ragnar in the middle of a battle he did not want now he must win

A lone survivor escapes and rides away before he can be slaughtered with the rest of his group…

a survivor escapes

a survivor escapes

What remains on the shore, a slain English Nobleman warrior and a path of blood stretching out to the sea.

A nobleman warrior lies in a pool of blood The vikings have left a trail of blood into the sea

My thoughts on this event? Had two men, Floki and Rollo, been in more control of their thinking on this day- the outcome and the future may have taken a much different path? Floki is a wild card and one can never be certain exactly where his thoughts will lead his actions? As for Rollo… he is a loose cannon, as yet ruled by only his warrior mind and his inner resentments of his brother’s successes.  He often acts without thinking ahead of future consequences. As Lagertha wisely put it to him directly on one occasion,”you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man?”  I think there is a worth and greatness within Rollo but he needs to believe this too. Before Rollo can achieve that greatness, he must learn that there is more to being a great man than just being a mighty and great warrior? Perhaps he should look upon one such as Earl Haraldson to see where only being a great warrior can lead one to?

you're too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Saga: Early days, The Wrath

I must write quickly now, so much is happening so fast that it is difficult to keep up with it all.

Ragnar and his men have left on their “secret” journey… but, as I have said previously, this is a small village and nothing stays secret for very long.  The Earl has spies everywhere and trusts no one… not even his wife, I think- though she does everything in her power to reassure him of her loyalties to him.  The village is quiet and all are on edge worried about the men and about Earl Haraldson’s cruel vengeance. Those in the Earl’s household will all go to great and desperate lengths to keep on his good side. For me, I try as best I can to stay out of the way of him. I think he is suspicious of me probably just because I am a new comer here so anything that goes awry could be blamed upon me as well as those men who have betrayed him. Even Siggy has mentioned that it might be best if I remain well out of his way during this time so as not to bring his anger towards me.

The Earl of course, knows full well of the voyage. As I said his spies are everywhere. His brother in law, Knut pretended to be willing to go along on the voyage and reported everything back to the Earl. One of the housecarls also reported the ship’s leaving to the Earl. That housecarl, Olafur proved he was otherwise disloyal to the Earl though and met a very bad end for it. The Earl caught him looking at and admiring Siggy, he suggested that if Olafur was wanting to bed with Siggy it could be arranged? That fool man was so gullible as to fall for the Earl’s trap. He was invited to Siggy’s bed and then killed for his disloyalty.  I do think the Earl is beginning to tread down the path of irrational madness…

At the Lodbrok farm, Lagertha is still angry, very angry at Ragnar for going on this adventure, and going without her. Ragnar made light of her desire and laughed at her suggestion that she go along. “Who would mind the children? Oh, I know, I shall stay here to cook and clean and tend to them while you go off to fight?” He disregarded her feelings on all of it and in the end he simply declared that she would stay at home on the farm in case Earl Haraldson should grow suspicious and attempt to take their land away.  She is up at the farm with the children, very discontent about all of this. Earl Haraldson did send men to inquire about Ragnar’s whereabouts, to which she made excuse that he was off trading for a few days. 

Earl Haraldson on one hand said he was unconcerned about this voyage because it was doomed anyway, a wild fantasy and those men would all perish at sea, on the other hand though, he was furious that people of his village had so defied him and listened instead to the ideas of Ragnar. He set about finding those involved in the secrecy and punishing them to show what disobedience to him would bring. The blacksmith who forged the anchor of Ragnar’s ship was confronted by Earl Haraldson and his men. At first he denied forging any anchor, but when Svein was about to seize his daughter, he gave in. Earl Haraldson ordered him to look at the flames in the firepit and asked what he saw. When the blacksmith answered that he saw his death, Svein pushed his face in the fire despite the blacksmith’s daughter pleading to leave her father be. It was a brutal and vicious reminder to us all not to cross Earl Haraldson. We all tread very quietly,  carefully … and prayed to the Gods that Ragnar and his men would return home soon.

Thank the Gods they did return safely! I will share their story as they told it, and as the newcomer to the village shared his own version of it?

The journey was a perilous and treacherous one for the men, as it was their first experience in this new boat and being out so far on the open sea. They were be set by a storm of great proportions and feared that they would all perish as Earl Haraldson had predicted.  In the worst of the storm, Rollo voiced his doubts and said the God Thor was angry with them and would strike his hammer to sink them all into the sea. Floki replied however, that Thor was not angry. Thor was celebrating their victory and their boat! Floki was so excited that he forgot he could not swim as he danced around the boat in the middle of the Storm!

Floki sit down remember you can't swim

After the storm, Ragnar ordered the ravens they took with them to be released. If they return quickly there is no land, if they don’t come back they have found land. When they heard the flapping of bird wings, Ragnar thought the ravens returned and his journey is in vain. However, the birds turned out to be seagulls, indicating they are close to the shores of England.

They set ground upon a place called Lindesfarne.  I do feel I need to add a thought here, a very serious and troubling one… one just as troubling as the thought of us travelers in some way affecting or influencing the path of history? I am beginning to feel that something else is very slightly off setting here. Could this time portal have taken us to some slightly different yet parallel version of our world??? There are just these odd discrepancies that show up and do not quite follow what we know as fact about our time line, our history. One of them is of course this event by Ragnar and his men that took them to Lindesfarne.  By all rights, from what we know, Ragnar and the Danes raided in further south areas such as this map shows. The Norse Viking raids were in the more northern portions. I know that we tend to think of them all as one group, but in reality, they were two separate groups with much the same intents. I am pointing these oddities out in my reports so that your researchers are aware of such discrepancies and can look deeper into it.

Lindisfarne793 northumbria modified rl 2

Lindesfarne was a holy Island inhabited by Monks since back to the 6th century.

In 793, a Viking raid on Lindisfarne  caused much consternation throughout the Christian west and is now often taken as the beginning of the Viking Age. The D and E versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle record:

In this year fierce, foreboding omens came over the land of the Northumbrians, and the wretched people shook; there were excessive whirlwinds, lightning, and fiery dragons were seen flying in the sky. These signs were followed by great famine, and a little after those, that same year on 6th ides of January, the ravaging of wretched heathen people destroyed God’s church at Lindisfarne.

The generally accepted date for the Viking raid on Lindisfarne is in fact 8 June; Michael Swanton writes: “vi id Ianr, presumably [is] an error for vi id Iun (8 June) which is the date given by the Annals of Lindisfarne (p. 505), when better sailing weather would favour coastal raids.”

Alcuin, a Northumbrian scholar in Charlemagne‘s court at the time, wrote:

Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. . . .The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets.

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

I will share the event as it happened from both points of view as I have recently heard both sides of the story.

Their ship cleared the storm, came out of the mist, and the men saw off in the distance, their first glimpse of the new land.

ship in the mist first sight of the western land lindisfarn monastary

The isle of Lindesfarne was home to a monastery, whose monks were famed and honored for their writing/transcribing skills and their illuminated transcript.

Lindisfarne-ep2

During the worst rage of the storm, the Monks attempted to calm themselves in prayer and chantings…. One young monk could not so easily be calmed. He kept insisting that the end was near, he could feel it…

a storm is coming to lindisfarne

Athelstan goes to the Father of the monastery to tell him Judgment Day has come. The Father does not want to hear of it and orders Athelstan to go back to his dormitory to pray God for forgiveness, as everything will be well when the storm passes.

Monks pray for salvation

The storm does pass, or so they think? One of the monks is walking along the beach and spies the boat coming from the mist. He runs to warn his brethren, who take shelter from the coming intruders.

an unseen storm in the mist

the storm arrives

Ragnar and the others march up to the Monastery, expecting and looking forward to a battle…They have been cooped up on a boat for a long time and are ready to fight!

the storm marches inland The storm hist Lindisfarne Monastary and walks through the door

This odd, not what they expected at all? These strange men cowered in their building not even trying to defend or protect themselves!

 

Ragnar was surprised and puzzled by these men on their knees with their heads bowed, chanting in their strange language. Rollo was disgusted with their feeble reaction and refusal to even defend themselves. He lost control of his short temper and killed the leader of the group. Panic erupted amongst the monks and they were quickly slaughtered by the men while Ragnar solemnly stood by watching.

Ragnar puzzled and a little disappointed at the reception

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

Not much of a fight

Ragnar went on to search through the buildings with a few of the men. They came upon a strange sight. A room filled with treasure, all left out in the open, unguarded or protected.  Ragnar is puzzled but delighted with this find. All of this treasure just sitting here for the easiest taking that they had ever encountered! Still, it was strange was it not?  Surprised the treasures are left in the open, Leif wonders if their God protects it somehow?

Treasure found right out in the open

Treasure found right out in the open

No women, no mead, no worthy fight 

their god's treasure

their god’s treasure

Ragnar wanders around the room looking at the treasures and then looks up at the adornment on the wall. His comment on all of it is, “This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can’t protect anyone what good is he?”

This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can't protect anyone what good is he

This is their God dead nailed to a cross he can’t protect anyone what good is he

While the men wandered around the room gathering treasure, Ragnar spied something else… he found a young monk hiding in the corner holding tightly to another strange treasure, a book!

 

An even stranger treasure a book

An even stranger treasure a book

Even more surprising and puzzling to Ragnar, this young monk spoke their language?

and the treasure speaks their language

and the treasure speaks their language

Unable to control his frustration, he confronted the monk with harsh comment, ” Of all the treasures here, you chose to save this thing…Why?”

of all the treasures here you chose to save this  Why

of all the treasures here you chose to save this Why

 Ragnar asked Athelstan about the. It is the Gospel of St. John.  Ragnar wanted to know why the monk chose to protect that instead of any treasures, Athelstan answered that without the word of God there could be only darkness. Rollo entered the room, saying it was a strange place with only men. When he notices Athelstan, he insisted on killing him but Ragnar forbade it. He thought  the monk was worth more alive than dead. Surprised, Rollo insisted that they are equals and tried to kill Athelstan anyway.  Ragnar pushed him  back, causing Rollo to angrily chop the Crucifix in the room in pieces and tell Athelstan that is how much he respected this God!  Meanwhile, Floki enters a room with many holy papers. Unable to read the odd writings, Floki burnt one of them eventually set the Monastery on fire.

Floki finds more strange writings Look how easy it burns floki paper and fire

The monastery was destroyed along with most of the valuable works within it at the time. Althelstan was taken as slave along with a few other surviving monks and was brought back here to Kattegat.

leaving Lindisfarne with their treasure Athelstan the monk the slave the friend the peacemaker between two worlds

Ragnar with his treasure athelstan

I will write more about their return and the consequences of it later. For now, I just want to share that this Athelstan is in possession of one of the remaining books from Lindesfarne. I believe it may be a portion of the highly important and valuable relic books, The Lindesfarne Gospels? He states that he holds the Gospel of St. John and values it above all else, keeping it close to his person at all times. I have not wanted to call undue attention to myself or cause any further suspicions regarding my situation, or his, so have not asked to see the book as yet. I can not determine whether it might be one of the original portions of the books, or a copy that he might have transcribed for himself.  I do have concern that is could be another of those oddities or slight discrepancies which I referred to earlier.

Lindesfarne Gospels: The Lindisfarne Gospels is a Christian manuscript, containing the gospels of Matthew, Luke, Mark, and John and the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. The manuscript was used for ceremonial purposes to promote and celebrate the Christian religion and the word of God (BBC Tyne 2012). Because the body of Cuthbert was buried in Lindisfarne, Lindisfarne became an important pilgrimage destination in the 7th and 8th centuries and the Lindisfarne Gospels would have contributed to the cult of Saint Cuthbert (BBC Tyne 2012).

The Lindisfarne Gospels manuscript was produced in a scriptorium in the monastery of Lindisfarne. The pages of the Lindisfarne gospels are vellum, made from the skins of sheep or calves and evidence from the manuscript reveals that the vellum used for the Gospels was made from calfskin.  The text of the manuscript is written “in a dense, dark brown ink, often almost black, which contains particles of carbon from soot or lamp black”.  The pens used for the manuscript could have been cut from either quills or reeds, and there is also evidence to suggest that the trace marks (seen under oblique light) were used by an early equivalent of a modern pencil. Lavish jewellery was added to the binding of the manuscript, now lost, later in the eighth century.

There is a huge range of individual pigment used in the manuscript. The colours are derived from animal, vegetable and mineral sources.  While some colours were obtained from local sources, others were imported from the Mediterranean, and rare instances such as lapis lazuli would have been imported from the Himalayas.  Gold is only used in a couple of small details.  The medium used to bind the colours was egg white, but it could have also been fish glue in certain places.  Backhouse emphasizes that, “all Eadfrith’s colours are applied with great skill and accuracy, but…we have no means of knowing exactly what implements he used”.

The manuscript’s pages were arranged into gatherings of eight, and once the sheets had been folded together to make a group of pages, the highest page was carefully marked out by pricking, which was done by a stylus or a small knife.  The holes were pricked through the gathering of eight leaves, and then each individual page was separately ruled for writing with a sharp, dry, and discreet point.

The Lindisfarne Gospels are impeccably designed, and as Backhouse points out vellum would have been too expensive for ‘practice runs’ for the pages, and so “preliminary designs” may have been done on a wax tablet (a device that is hollowed out wood or bone with a layer of wax). Wax tablets were an inexpensive technique to create a first draft because once the sketch was presumably transferred to the manuscript the wax could be warmed and flattened for a new design or outline.

Due to Viking raids the monastic community left Lindisfarne around 875, bringing with them Cuthbert’s body, relics, and books including the Lindisfarne Gospels (BBC Tyne 2012) and the St Cuthbert Gospel. It is estimated that after around seven years the Lindisfarne community settled in the Priory at Chester-le-Street in Durham where they stayed until 995 (where Aldred would have done his interlinear translation of the text).  After Henry VIII ordered the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1539, the manuscript was separated from the priory.  In the early 17th century the Gospels were owned by Sir Robert Cotton (1571–1631) and in 1753 became part of the founding collections of the British Museum.

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

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

I only voice my thoughts and wonderings here because it has been pointed out that he was found in the relics/treasury room holding on to the book for dear life in attempt to protect it. He is more concerned much of the time about the safety of the book than he is about his own safety. Whether he treasures it now because it is his only link to his previous life and faith or because it is even more important than anyone here realizes, understands or cares about is unknown. Even if it is only a copy he has written for himself, it would still hold much value and importance as a remaining book from Lindesfarne. 

 

The young man is in much dire circumstances and danger right now. His fate will be decided soon as Earl Haraldson calls for a meeting to decide the fate of all involved in this voyage. I worry that his wrath will be harsh and cruel to all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings: The Early days in Kattegat

Previous Vikings post:  https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/11/viking-saga-the-beginnings/

mrs graham3

To Mrs. Graham of Crag na dun Time Travels,

My dear Mrs. Graham, I am writing this short message for you and sending it along with those travelers returning to your time. I will continue to update you in this way for as long as possible. If anything should happen to me along this journey, I am sure that the group will make every effort to inform you as quickly as they can. I am reasonably settled for now in the household of Earl Haraldson and his wife, Siggy. I am not at all sure whether it is really such a good place to be but for the time being it is relatively safe and I am comfortable. I have met a young woman named Helga, who is helping me to fit in here and make the acquaintances that are necessary for our research. Your associate, Gunnar has been a great help as well, though I sometimes think he doubts my ability to handle this assignment. Young Helga seems doubtful too, about my abilities? She does not think I am quite capable of training to become a shield maiden, or a farm help… or much other help, I fear. She has advised that I remain within the Earl’s household for now and learn what I can there? I do think that she and some others, of whom- I am not sure yet, are using this to their advantage so as to know more about what goes on with the Earl and his wife? It seems there are many here who are not so fond of their overlord and do not trust him. I understand their misgivings, as I do not truly trust him either, nor do I entirely trust his wife, Siggy. But, so far, she has treated me well so I can not fault her for that.

Vikings episode one recap:

I am lucky that  Gunnar was able to provide good reference and status for me to enter this household and be more of maid and some time companion to Siggy and her daughter, Thyri. They are often busy with their own activities and have no need of me so I do have some free time.

Thyri, daughter of Earl Haraldson and Siggy

Thyri, daughter of Earl Haraldson and Siggy

Siggy and daughter

Siggy and daughter

Right now it is quiet here. The men of the village have returned from their summer raids to the east in the Baltic areas. They were successful but do not bring back as much as Earl Haraldson had hoped for. The men complain that this is because those areas are poorer and poorer each year and there is little left to raid for. It will all be discussed at the soon coming Thing.

Thing:

In the pre-Christian clan-culture of Scandinavia the members of a clan were obliged to avenge injuries against their dead and mutilated relatives. A balancing structure was necessary to reduce tribal feuds and avoid social disorder. It is known from North-Germanic cultures that the balancing institution was the thing, although similar assemblies are reported also from other Germanic peoples and others.

The thing was the assembly of the free men of a country, province or a hundred (hundare/härad/herred). There were consequently hierarchies of things, so that the local things were represented at the higher-level thing, for a province or land. At the thing, disputes were solved and political decisions were made. The place for the thing was often also the place for public religious rites and for commerce.

The thing met at regular intervals, legislated, elected chieftains and kings, and judged according to the law, which was memorized and recited by the “law speaker” (the judge). The thing’s negotiations were presided over by the law speaker and the chieftain or the king. In reality the thing was dominated by the most influential members of the community, the heads of clans and wealthy families, but in theory one-man one-vote was the rule.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thing_(assembly)

Everyone is busy planning for this gathering and there is not much for me to do as Siggy is well competent and skilled in her handlings of such gatherings. She gave me leave to spend some time with Helga to visit the area families and farms.  I have had chance now to meet the family which you are so interested in. Ragnar Lodbrok and his brother Rollo have returned from their raiding. Ragnar is a farmer when he is at home. He lives up in the hills with his wife, Lagertha and their two children, Gyda and Bjorn. They seem like a nice enough young family?

young bjorn with mother and sister vikings_gallery8_3-P

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I have made the trip up to their farm a few times now, and I begin to wonder how happy they really are? Ragnar does not seem content or helpful as a farmer… He is most often off wandering through the woods and visiting others, leaving most of the farm work to Lagertha and the children. Lagertha is busy trying to look after the children and the farm, and often she does not seem all that happy either? There is talk that she used to be an honored and fierce fighting shield maiden but now she is tied down to the farm while her husband continues to go off on raids. From some her comments, I gather that Lagertha would much prefer to be raiding and adventuring with the men! I am sure that she loves her children and is willing to give up anything for them but I think that she must feel much frustration and disappointment with the path her life is on right now. To have given up her previous life as a warrior to settle as farm wife is not how I think she envisioned her life’s path…

Shieldmaiden: A shieldmaiden (Old Norse: skjaldmær, Danish: skjoldmø, Norwegian: skjoldmøy, Swedish: sköldmö, German: Schildmaid) was a woman who had chosen to fight as a warrior in Scandinavian folklore and mythology. They are often mentioned in sagas such as Hervarar saga and in Gesta Danorum. Shieldmaidens also appear in stories of other Germanic nations: Goths, Cimbri, and Marcomanni.  The mythical Valkyries may have been based on the shieldmaidens.  The existence of shieldmaidens is heavily debated but scholars like writer Lars Magnar Enoksen and scholar Britt-Mari Näsström  argue evidence for their existence, while scholar Judith Jesch disagrees citing lack of hard evidence.

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

Lagertha shieldmaiden

Lagertha:

Lagertha was, according to legend, a Viking shieldmaiden from what is now Norway, and the onetime wife of the famous Viking Ragnar Lodbrok. Her tale, as recorded by the chronicler Saxo in the 12th century, may be a reflection of tales about Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr, a Norse deity.

Her name as recorded by Saxo, Lathgertha, is likely a Latinization of the Old Norse Hlaðgerðr (Hladgerd).  It is frequently rendered in English-language sources as “Lagertha”, and has also been recorded as Ladgertha, Ladgerda or similar.

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

640px-Lathgertha_by_Morris_Meredith_Williams

Lathgertha_by_Morris_Meredith_Williams

 

 

 

Young Bjorn is caught in the middle of his parents frustrations and quarrels, tries to play the peacemaker, and is impatient to be grown! Gyda, the daughter is a quiet girl who wants to please her family in any way possible. She is a sweet girl and loved by all of her family.

As I mentioned, neither Ragnar or Lagertha seem all that happy with their current situation, though they by all rights should be? They have a nice solid farmstead, a piece of land of their own- which many do not have. They have been blessed with two fine children, life should be good for them… they should be happy and content with what they have. They are both stubborn,  fiercely prideful and frustrated with their lives. Their quarrels are as fierce as they are and often young Bjorn is literally stuck in the middle, trying to keep the peace!

Bjorn tries to break up the fight

Bjorn tries to break up the fight

Bjorn in the middle of the fight

Bjorn in the middle of the fight

This family and household does not seem to be quite as happy as it appear on the surface?

There is also something else going on in this home… something that has to do with brother Rollo?  Rollo is as stubborn and fiercely prideful as Ragnar and Lagertha, and it turns out that he also has some not so brother-in-law type of feelings for Lagertha. There is some reference to the past and to Lagertha’s time as mighty shield maiden, as well as a hint that there may have been some sort of relationship or what ever one might want to call it, between Rollo and Lagertha in the past? Rollo still harbors feelings for her and Lagertha makes it clear that there is nothing going to happen again between them.

rollo and lagertha2 rollo's response to lagertha

you're too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

you’re too great a warrior but perhaps not so great a man

Lagertha’s last comment to Rollo definitely stung his pride! Yes, there is certainly some sort of turmoil going on in this family!

Lagertha is also upset with Ragnar because he is taking Bjorn to the Thing this year to have his manhood ceremony. She thinks he is too young and can wait another year for it, but Ragnar pays her no mind and takes the boy anyway. She must have been very upset because she did not go down to the village for the event!

Bjorn receives his arm band and becomes a man!

Bjorn's manhood ceremony

Besides the manhood ceremony- which was of course a highlight of the gathering, at least for Bjorn, there was then serious discussion about the raids for the next year. Ragnar got himself into much trouble with suggesting that they try going west instead of east? He went into a lengthy explanation of what he had heard about lands in the west and was scorned, and also warned by Earl Haraldson, who wanted to hear none of such nonsense!

you are a farmer you should be content

you are a farmer you should be content

Earl Haraldson warns Ragnar in very clear terms that he will do as he is told… You are a farmer, you should be content. He suggests that should Ragnar not follow his orders, that piece of land that he owns could easily go to someone who is loyal and obedient to him!

Ragnar, being the stubborn one that he was, was not dissuaded by Earl Haraldson’s threats. He set about a plan to do things his own way and prove Earl Haraldson wrong…

I must confess here that I have concerns about a few things that Ragnar had in his possession? He stated that he received them from a traveling wanderer, and I have to wonder if one our travelers set in motion this whole event? Could he have received these two very important and very curious items from someone in our time traveling group?

Ragnar had two very mysterious and curious objects which he felt would help them easily navigate their way to those lands he had heard of in the west.

A water compass: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/03/26/viking-compass-medieval-mariners-navigate-sunset_n_5036240.html

all signs point to land

 

And, the second item, a sun stone… which Rollo was even more skeptical about than the water compass!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunstone_(medieval)

sun stone sun stone at work

Lagertha’s initial response to Ragnar’s idea….

Ragnar and the rock3

Ragnar was determined that these items and one other thing would be their key to getting to that new land. The other thing was a new and different type of boat that his friend, Floki was building. Where did Floki get his ideas for this new kind of boat? He said it came from the Gods as visions, but there were times when Floki didn’t seem as sure about his boat idea as he had insisted in the beginning? Could one of our travelers have influenced this strange man as well?

floki and bjorn I joke about many things but never about ship building

floki and bjorn: I joke about many things but never about ship building!

Ragnar took all of his earnings from the year’s raiding and sank it into this boat building scheme… He put his trust in those two odd items from a wanderer and strange visions from a strange man! He planned a secret trip to this new land and convinced some of his friends to go along on the promise that they would split the rewards evenly between them.

Floki built his boat, then was amazed that it actually worked!

sucess with the boat testing the boat

The group eventually set sail for this adventure thinking that no one would find out? Really, Ragnar… this is a very small village, when half the men suddenly go missing for a length of time, of course people are going to know about it! Earl Haraldson is not too concerned however, because he says that will most likely be the last they ever see of those foolish men!

setting sail from kattegat bay

They set sail and Floki is still continuously amazed and shocked that his boat is sailing and not sinking. It’s a long journey into the unknown and everyone has their doubts about the compass and the sun stone working, about whether they will survive the ocean and the storms to see a new land! One thing was certain… Floki loved his boat! Even in the worst of the storms when they thought they might not survive…

floki loves his boat floki flies

All of floki’s previous doubts and panic over the boat’s sea worthiness were forgotten and he insisted that Thor was just celebrating the building of this boat by proving it’s sea worthiness! He even forgot that he could not swim!

Floki sit down remember you can't swim

Floki sit down remember you can’t swim

 

After the storm and the darkness…

ship in the mist first sight of the western land

There was land, a new uncharted land on which a Viking Storm was about to land!

 

storm2 an unseen storm in the mist

I must close this message for now but wanted you to know of my concerns about whether one of our traveler’s may have inadvertently… or worse, purposely influenced and changed the course of history? We may never know but I feel  it is important to share this deep concern with you and I do feel it warrants further investigation on your part. There is little we can do about it now, the course of history has been sent down this path whether by our hands or by the hands of fate. I feel great changes are coming to this small village of Kattegat and I am in the middle of it. I have not time to go into all of the details of what has been taking place but have just given you the most important facts relating to it. I do have one other concern that troubles me greatly with all of this turmoil taking place around me.

This Earl Haraldson who is the overlord and Chieftain  of Kattegat… he is, I believe, a very troubled man who is struggling to hold on to power in the midst of all of these changes to his small world. It is said that he was once a great Warrior, honored and respected but that has changed in recent years due to a horrific event. I am only mentioning this because it is one of those events that is still somewhat of a mystery and I believe it will haunt both the Earl and his wife, Siggy until their deaths. The Earl and Siggy had two other children, two sons who were brutally murdered/ assassinated in a style of direct disrespect toward their Father. Their heads were cut off, place against their backsides and they were left in a shallow grave. The murderers were never found. The Earl buried them humanely, kept locks of their hair as memory, then turned bitter angry and distrustful of everyone. He is now a grim and cruel man who sees enemies behind every corner. Siggy does her best, what ever is necessary to keep his wrath and anger at bay. She speaks little of this tragedy but it is obvious that she holds deep pain over the loss and it will affect her in many ways for the rest of her life. She holds close to her remaining daughter, Thyri. I believe that she will go to any length or level she feels necessary to protect this last child of hers. I worry  in these difficult and dangerous times for women, should anything ever happen to Thyri, how will Siggy cope with such another loss? I find that while I do not necessarily trust Siggy, I do like her. I hope that she will one day find some peace in her life and perhaps some true happiness? I should not like to see her become as bitter and vengeful as her husband has become, but often I can see her mind going down that path…

Siggy with Earl Haroldson

As I have mentioned, this is a very troubling time here in Kattegat and I fear it will only get worse. I believe we are all in some grave danger here as the tides and the times change. I will try to keep you updated as much as possible. Hopefully we will be able to remain here and not have to flee for our lives should things take a turn for the worse. My messenger is well trusted and will deliver this letter to you personally. Due to the serious contents and concerns I am sharing, I am sure that you would agree it best for it not to be sent to the public agency.