Tag Archive | king ecbert of vikings saga

Vikings Saga: Kweni’s Destiny and legacy

I wrote much of this when Kweni met her end but did not publish it then because I wanted to see what direction Michael Hirst would go with the future of her son. For me personally, Kweni’s death in some ways served as a turning point, a sign of the changes to come and the ending fates that so many of this older generation will meet. As we come to the end of a chapter or era with the death of Ragnar, I feel it only fitting to first look at those last days of Kweni and how her death would ultimately affect the future of those left behind.  While we do not know where exactly Hirst will go with Kweni’s young son, his future is directly related to the events, the actions and the choices of Kweni in those last days of her life.

kwenis-destiny

 

Our loveable but undeniably somewhat unhinged Princess Kwentirith of Mercia met a tragic but necessary end. I say necessary because I wondered for some time what her fate would be in the creative mind of Mr. Hirst. While I am so saddened at the way Kweni met her end, I personally applaud Michael Hirst for the direction he took with this woman who’s life seemed set upon such a doomed course from the beginning. I have written previously about historical reference for Kweni’s existence and the role of that actual historical figure in the life of  the real Ecbert. 

You can read my thoughts on the historical basis for Kweni here:

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

For more information on the actual history of Ecbert and his actions regarding that princess of Mercia in this article:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/from-charlamagne-to-egbert-and-wessex/

the return of kwentrith

the return of kwentrith

kwentirith talk to me of love and death

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

Kwentirith as future ruler

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

We have watched this tragic figure of Kweni from her early beginnings a more than slightly crazed young woman scrambling to achieve some semblance of power and control in a world dominated by men. There were times when we shook our heads at her insatiable cravings and her impulsive behaviors that we could obviously see were getting her only into more trouble.

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

kwentirith shows off her dancing skills

a drunken kwentirith celebrating her uncle's death Kwentirith unleashing her savagery on Uncle britwulf's head

We were made aware of her seriously troubled childhood and that past allowed us to feel some compassion for this young woman’s desperate attempts to gain back some sort of control over her life and her future.  There were times when we even began to appreciate her attempts and hope for her success. Last season we saw her finally claw her way to that throne of Mercia and we wondered if there might indeed be some way for this woman, as deranged as she might be, to actually survive and win against the equally deranged and much more powerful Ecbert; Ecbert,  who was willing to go so far as sacrificing his son Aethelwulf in order to win against Kweni. 

my-father-this-my-father-that-really-aethelwulf-how-old-are-you-do-you-not-have-a-thought-in-your-head-of-your-own how-old-are-you-aethelwulf kweni-ohhhh-stop-yelling-you-fool i-think-you-may-know-him-ragnar-lothbrok let-me-present-my-son-prince-magnus

What we saw this season was difficult and sad to watch because Kweni finally seemed to have a grasp on the throne of Mercia and on her sanity as well. We saw Kweni at her strongest and at her most vulnerable. I admit that when we saw Kweni become a Mother last season, I had some serious doubts about her Motherly instincts and her ability to raise a child. This season we saw that Kweni’s greatest strength and also her greatest weakness came with Motherhood. She fought like a warrior to protect her son and she became desperate enough to risk everything for his survival and future. Kweni may have suffered from the dysfunction and the insanity that ravaged her family but her last actions were those of a Mother willing to give up everything including her life to protect her child. 

kwenis-found-her-battle-mode kwenis-guards-get-their-orders-to-kill-the-queen kweni-fights-back-with-the-rage-of-a-mother kweni-does-have-a-motherly-instinct-after-all-nobody-messes-with-her-baby aethelwulf-finally-makes-it-to-the-top-of-the-tower-to-rescue-damsel-kweni-copy

One of the most bittersweet parts of Kweni’s final story besides that of her fight for her son was that she finally found love and true affection as she put it, with Aethelwulf.  Aethelwulf was probably the one man who could understand her behaviors that stemmed from her childhood of being raised in such an environment of others seeking control and domination by any means necessary. It was that affection that even brought Kweni a friend- probably for the first time in her life.

kweni-feels-she-must-make-her-confession-to-judith judith-already-knows-that-the-child-kweni-is-carrying-is-athelwulfs-and-probably-doesnt-really-care

kweni-wants-judiths-help-to-escape-from-ecbert-now-that-is-another-matter-entirely-copy-2 kwenis-attempt-to-escape-has-failed judith-watches-as-kweni-is-dragged-away

And, in the end it was that unlikely friendship with Judith that led to Kweni’s end. For me, that ending was by far the most painful, heart wrenching scene to watch. 

kweni-is-desperate-and-desperate-times-call-for-desperate-measures-copy-2 kweni-has-reached-the-point-of-no-return-with-her-desperate-measures-copy-copy

 

I knew from the onset of Ecbert taking Kweni and her son in, and holding them as hostage that there was really not much hope for Kweni’s continued presence at this court… there were few options for her short of Ecbert himself marrying her. As in actual history, Ecbert refused to even entertain this option or idea. For Kweni that left an escape or banishment to Francia which Ecbert may have allowed eventually but that option would have been certain to not include her son. Little Magnus was far too important to Ecbert’s schemes to let him out of his grasp. The one other impediment to Kweni being allowed to leave was the fact that she was carrying Aethelwulf’s child… had she not been pregnant, Ecbert may chosen that option of banishing her. He could not afford to let her go with the possibility of her having another royal heir to use as some leverage against him. So, Kweni is held to await the birth of a child that she will never be allowed to raise…  Kweni’s final days and acts of desperation set in as she realizes that she is doomed.  My personal thought on her final act is that she knew she was doomed to certain death but she would take Ecbert with her as her last final revenge. 

 

kwenis-laugh-turns-to-tears-as-she-realizes-her-position-copy

kwenis laugh turns to tears as she realizes her position.

someone-else-has-taken-matters-into-hand-with-kweni-copy

Someone else has taken matters into hand with Kweni

judith-has-stepped-in-and-saved-ecberts-life-but-now-kwenis-death-is-on-her-hands-and-heart

Judith has stepped in to save Ecbert’s life but now Kweni’s death is on her hands and her heart.

kwenis-words-ohhhh-judith

Kweni’s last faint words, Ohhhh Judith

What no one expected was that Judith would  have to be the one responsible for Kweni’s end. The look on both of their faces as they silently said that last goodbye to each other was heart breaking. But, as heart breaking as it was, it also held some symbolism and odd appropriateness. Kweni’s death was a given, she was doomed if by nothing else, the very fact that she was attempting to kill the King. Had she succeeded in her attempt or even been caught by anyone else, she would have been publicly arrested and executed most likely in front of everyone including her son. Instead of that fate, Kweni was killed by the one person she counted as friend. Her end came via the one person who would look into her eyes at that very end and convey some feeling of grief, of loss and guilt. Kweni’s death at the hand of Judith may possibly be the one salvation or grace for her son… Will Judith’s guilt at this killing be enough for her to offer some compassion and kindness to the child that Ecbert holds hostage for the future?  I would like to believe that Judith will look after this child, Magnus and provide him with some measure of love and kindness that might not be in Ecbert’s heart or mentality. The last we hear of Magnus is that he is being raised at the court of Ecbert and that it is public knowledge that Ragnar is his Father.  My worry is that without some intervention by one such as Judith would be capable of, this childhood for Magnus could be every bit as painful, dysfunctional and damaging as Kweni’s childhood was for her. 

As I previously mentioned, I wrote this portion when Kweni died. Now years later, we finally see the events, the fate and the destiny begin to play out. The child, Magnus has been raised in Ecbert’s household and for all outward appearances, it seems he has been well treated by Ecbert, Aethelwulf and Judith. He has been told of his lineage as far as everyone there knows. This boy believes he is the son of Ragnar Lothbrok- he knows no different although Ecbert admits that he’s always had some doubts about this? Probably because this boy seems to lack the “Warrior” gene?  

The meeting between young Magnus and Ragnar is to say the least, difficult to watch. As I mentioned, this boy truly believes that Ragnar is his Father and he looks forward to finally meeting the man he has been told so much about, even if that man is being held chained in a cage. Despite that, Magnus is proud to be a son of Ragnar…

ecbert-and-magnus

magnus-speaks-his-heart-to-ragnar

Ragnar puts a first cut into the boy’s emotions when he adamantly denies that he is his Father. 

ragnar-denies-that-he-is-magnus-father

Ragnar denies that he is Magnus’ Father

puzzled-and-confused-magnus

Magnus is of course puzzled, confused and hurt at this statement from Ragnar.

Now, I do have to add my own thought here… this boy seems to be a bit naive and sheltered from the realities of the world that he is living in. Apparently Magnus does not appear to be aware that living in Wessex, being the son of Ragnar Lothbrok the great Viking is not necessarily a thing to be proud of or advertising? So, Ragnar may be telling the truth, or he may be lying in order to somehow protect the boy. What ever the case, it is just the first hard dose of reality the boy must suddenly face!

The next dose of reality is just as difficult to watch… Magnus seems to have some decent relationship with Aethelwulf until Aethelwulf deals him an ultimate blow of supposed betrayal? In this boy’s mind, what else can he think this action by Aethelwulf is? Granted, Aethelwulf may also be trying to save the boy’s life in the only way he thinks possible by sending him out into the world on his own now to become a man. I’m pretty certain though that at this point in his life, that is not how Magnus is viewing it. As I already mentioned, this boy seems quite naive and does not comprehend just how precarious his fate is right now. The one thing that bothered me about this action by Aethelwulf is the fact that he tells Magnus to tell people he is the son of Ragnar and that they will help him… Really, Aethelwulf, how far is this boy going to get in the middle of Wessex by admitting to anyone he meets that he is the son of Ragnar! This just seems to be setting the boy up for a certain death as he attempts to wander his way through Wessex. A far better piece of advice to the boy would have been, “Tell no one who you really are or where you come from!”  Unless of course, Aethelwulf has some other plan of escape or rescue for the boy set up, this advice made no sense what so ever! Also, looking at the situation from the perspective of this boy being extremely naive and not much of a warrior type, I can not envision this boy surviving very long on his own without some sort of back up plan on Aethelwulf’s part…

aethelwulf-sends-magnus-out-on-his-own-to-become-a-man-its-time-for-you-to-leave-you-have-no-choice

Aethelwulf sends Magnus away out into the world on his own. “It’s time for you to leave, to become a man, you have no choice.

but-where-wil-i-go-magnus-asks-aethelwulf

Magnus asks Aethelwulf, “But where will I go”

destiny-will-guide-you-where-ever-you-go-you-tell-people-you-are-magnus-the-son-of-ragnar-lothbrok-and-people-will-look-after-you

Destiny will guide you. Where ever you go, you tell people you are Magnus, the son of Ragnar Lothbrok and people will look after you.

magnus-scared-and-heartbroken

Magnus, scared and heartbroken tries to hold fast to Aethelwulf

aethelwulf-goes-so-far-as-to-threaten-the-boy-with-death-start-walking-you-start-walking-now-or-you-will-die

When Magnus tries to refuse, Aethelwulf goes so far to threaten him, “Start walking, you start walking now or you will die!”

a-fearful-magnus-there-are-animals-in-the-woods-aethelwulf-whispers-there-are-animals-inside

A fearful Magnus says, There are animals in the woods. Aethelwulf whispers to him, There are animals within this Villa!

 

Kweni  risked everything to protect and save her son only for him to be cast out into the cold on his own with no understanding of why… Hopefully his fate and his destiny will not follow a similar path as his Mother’s!

kwenis-son-magnus

 

 

 

Catching up with Wessex… and Judith

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

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

Ecbert practices his own strange religion

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

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

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

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

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

his name is Alfred He shall be great

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

ecbert showers affection on alfred and wonders about athelstan

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

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

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

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

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

 

ecbert: what are Judith's feelings towards her father

ecbert: what are Judith’s feelings towards her father

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of judith

ecbert insinuates a fate for northumbria in front of Judith

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

 

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

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

Judith reassures him that Both sons are well

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

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

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

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

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

judith knows where he's headed with this recompense

judith knows where he’s headed with this recompense

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

Judith understands both the spoken and the unspoken threat

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

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

 

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

ecbert: I want you to be my mistress

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

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over judith

ecbert still uses athelstan as his hold over Judith

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of athelstan

judith is sucked into this game by the memory of Athelstan

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

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith realizes that once more she is a pawn.

judith is called to Ecbert's chambers

judith is called to Ecbert’s chambers

Judith accepts her fate and meets Ecbert in his private chamber

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep Dad has done it again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

great hall of Wessex

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

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

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

Judith is scoping out this situation now between Ecbert and Aethelwulf

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

 

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

judith holds her own in this game of power

 

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

 

Athelred and Alfred Judith's son in season 4 vikings

Athelred and Alfred Judith’s son in season 4 Vikings

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

ecbert

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

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn announces: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Bjorn: I order the arrest of Floki

Floki's punishment begins.

Floki’s punishment begins.

ragnar to athelstan you betrayed my trust

ragnar to Floki, you betrayed my trust

you betrayed my love of you

you betrayed my love of you

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

floki suffers an even worse punishment

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

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

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

a game of what if2

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

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

Kweni is back but looking a bit rattled

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

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

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

Let me present my son Prince Magnus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

rollo watches floki leave and tries to figure his friend out

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

rollo comes to better understanding of Ragnar's thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a tearful gisla

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Reborn: Judith’s story

 

Before we talk of Judith’s recent terror, let us look closer at Judith and her history- both real and imagined.  In our world, Judith is the daughter of King Aelle of Northumbria.

In actual history, not a lot is known about Aelle other than the fact that he was partially responsible for the Great Heathen armies of the Vikings descending on England for a long and bloody war.  A war which would set Aethelwulf’s son, Alfred the Great against the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, first in revenge for their Father’s death, then in fights for land all over England.

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

Ælla became king after Osberht was deposed. This is traditionally dated to 862 or 863, but may have been as late as 866.  Almost nothing is known of Ælla’s reign. Symeon of Durham states that Ælla had seized lands at Billingham, Ileclif, Wigeclif, and Crece, which belonged to the church. While Ælla is described in most sources as a tyrant, and not a rightful king, one source states that he was Osberht’s brother.

The Great Heathen Army marched on Northumbria in the late summer of 866, seizing York on 21 November 866.  Symeon of Durham, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Asser, and Æthelweard all recount substantially the same version of events in varying detail. Symeon’s Historia Regum Anglorum gives this account of the battle on 21 March 867 where Osberht and Ælla met their deaths at the hands of the Vikings:

In those days, the nation of the Northumbrians had violently expelled from the kingdom the rightful king of their nation, Osbryht by name, and had placed at the head of the kingdom a certain tyrant, named Alla. When the pagans came upon the kingdom, the dissension was allayed by divine counsel and the aid of the nobles. King Osbryht and Alla, having united their forces and formed an army, came to the city of York; on their approach the multitude of the shipmen immediately took flight. The Christians, perceiving their flight and terror, found that they themselves were the stronger party. They fought upon each side with much ferocity, and both kings fell. The rest who escaped made peace with the Danes.

Ragnarssona þáttr (The Tale of Ragnar’s sons) adds a great deal of colour to accounts of the Viking conquest of York. This associates the semi-legendary king of Sweden Ragnar Lodbrok and his sons, Hvitserk, Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, Ivar the Boneless, and Ubba. According to the stories, Ragnar was killed by Ælla, and the army which seized York in 866 was led by Ragnar’s sons who avenged his death by subjecting Ælla to the blood eagle.  Earlier English sources record that both Ælla and Osberht died in battle, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle stating that “both the kings were slain on the spot”.  The main figure in the revenge tales is Ivar, who is sometimes associated with the Viking leader Ímar, brother of Amlaíb Conung, found in the Irish annals. Dorothy Whitelock notes that “it is by no means certain that he should be identified with the son of Ragnar, for the name is not uncommon”.  The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle does not name the leaders in Northumbria, but it does state that “Hingwar and Hubba” slew King Edmund of East Anglia (Saint Edmund) some years later.  Hubba is named as a leader of the army in Northumbria by Abbo of Fleury, and by the Historia de Sancto Cuthberto. Symeon of Durham lists the leaders of the Viking army as “Halfdene, Inguar, Hubba, Beicsecg, Guthrun, Oscytell, Amund, Sidroc and another duke of the same name, Osbern, Frana, and Harold.

 

King Aella of Northumbria

Aelle and his wife, Ealhswith

Aelle and his lovely wife

Aelle with the rest of the family while attending the baptism of Rollo.

Aelle and family attend  yes his son is named ecbert

King Aelle traded Judith to Ecbert as part of a peace agreement and alliance between the two countries. Young Judith became what was known as a peace weaver or peace cow in her marriage to Ecbert’s son Aethelwulf.  She did not seem overly displeased about the arrangement. Why should she… she knew her place and duty as a Noble Royal daughter, it was getting her away from the disagreeable and disgusting King Aelle, and as far as husbands went- Aethelwulf would seem to be a decent match. He was at least young and not bad looking, he was a Prince in line to a throne, and his household was probably much more friendly and comfortable than her Fathers. What was there to disagree about in this arrangement! She was herself, a rather pious and devoted to God young woman so Aethelwulf’s initial devotion to his religion would have probably set well with her.

 

Judith traveling to Wessex with Aelle.

Judith traveling to Wessex with Aelle.

 

Judith's wedding

Judith’s wedding

The marriage for all appearances, seemed to be going well. She quickly proved her breeding ability and provided a son as was her main duty in life. After this accomplishment, Judith could rest somewhat easily in her new household, though she really should at some point put efforts toward providing additional sons… It was unwise to rely on just one heir back then as children could die so easily. And, even once they reached adulthood, a King’s life was filled with dangers- there really should be at least one or two back up heirs in case of some tragedy.  But, for the time being, Judith was comfortable in her position and could relax.  She was well liked by her husband’s family- King Ecbert and much of the time, it appeared that she served as the Lady of his court.  She was present at various family events and functions, both with and without her husband in attendance. Judith got along well with King Ecbert, which would serve to her benefit in the future tragedy to come.

When Ragnar and his group arrived in Wessex, Aethelwulf and Judith were both present at their arrival and later at the feasting in their honor.

aethelwulf watching the arrival

aethelwulf watching the arrival

aethelwulf and judith listen and watch the meeting.

aethelwulf and judith listen and watch the meeting.

aethelwulf volunteers to fight along side these pagans

aethelwulf volunteers to fight along side these pagans

Later, after the warriors- including her husband prepared to do battle, Judith was left on her own at court with King Ecbert as her company. As I have mentioned, they seemed to get along well, were quite friendly with each other, and Judith was included in the various visits with the Pagans… whether she wanted to be there or not- as was the case in a few instances.  It was during this time that she first met the Priest who would so fascinate her and forever change her life. She had heard many rumors about this Holy man, Athelstan from Ecbert and from church members.  Most of the talk was indeed positive and glowing, among the dissenters though, was her husband Aethelwulf. Aethelwulf could not get his mind past the fact that Athelstan lived among the Pagans and so must be a traitor to the true God, the true religion of Christianity.  Aethelwulf is so devout in his beliefs that any dissent from the Christian way is to be viewed with suspicion, contempt and mistrust. He is truly intolerant of any other way of thinking. This will not bode well for Judith in the future.

aethelwulf and athelstan aethelwulf vikings2

Judith was insistant and determined to meet this priest. After her first meeting, she was completely infatuated and entranced with Athelstan.

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

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

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

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

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

judith is in extacy, awe and religious fervor could set in at any moment

Judith I am fascinated by these Northmen

Judith I am fascinated by these Northmen

judith hangs on every word he speaks

judith hangs on every word he speaks

Athelstan was a bit smitten by her as well…

Is Athelstan blushing  I think he is

King Ecbert had an idea what was beginning to happen between the two…

ecbert waits anxiously for Athelstan's answer

Judith went so far as to visit Athelstan in his private quarters…a highly inappropriate and risky action on her part.

judith comes to call

judith comes to call

judith pays athelstan a visit

King Ecbert did warn Judith that she should be careful of those she chooses to be fascinated with… she is playing a very dangerous game.

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

be careful Judith who you choose to be fascinated by

judith plays a dangerous game

judith plays a dangerous game

Despite Ecbert’s warnings, Judith continued to be fascinated with Athelstan and continuously put herself in his close company. She did however, hold on to her virtue and her pious religious upbringing for the most part. There were times when Ecbert’s more enlightened ways caused her much stress and undue embarrassment but she made every attempt to go along with activities. One such example was the visit to the Roman bath… Poor Judith was much out of here element and comfort zone in this situation but tried hard to participate in it.  It was probably overwhelming and shocking to her, but in some part of her being, it was also too tempting to pass up.  She was religious but not to such an extent as her husband, and she was learning to be more open minded about life and other cultures from Ecbert as well as Athelstan and the other Pagans she encountered such as Lagertha. Judith’s eyes and heart were opening to the bigger world and it was causing her to question all of her so strongly held beliefs.

judith gulps at ecbert's suggestion for them to join him

thoughts in judith's head  no no no euwwwww I can't watch this

thoughts in judith’s head no no no euwwwww I can’t watch this

a quick stare at Judith getting out of the tub

judith's thought omg maybe if I drink enough this will be easier!

judith’s thought omg maybe if I drink enough this will be easier!

Judith's a little uncomfortable here judith makes her escape

After the event in the tub, Judith was torn and at her breaking point. She pours out her heart to Athelstan in a few simple words… I am so tired, tired of everything.

judith admits her tiredness of trying to be good

Athelstan made attempt to comfort her, he was as heart weary as her and understood her words well.

Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

Judith did confess the sin in heart, her deepest feelings for Athelstan… the sin was not hers alone because Athelstan held the same feelings for her.

The sin in Judith's heart is for Athelstan Judith confesses the sin in her heart

hearing Judith's confession

hearing Judith’s confession

Eventually the feelings were too much for them to ignore and they gave in to their desire for each other

Athelstan and Judith ignore their responsibilities and give in to their own desires Judith in the aftermath of pleasure there it's done

It was a bittersweet short lived affair and it was not so secret as they might have assumed that it was. I am quite sure that Ecbert had his suspicions about it even though he did not come outright with it. He did make references to their feelings for each other and their relationship when he was attempting later to get Athelstan to remain with them in Wessex.

 

The men returned from battle victorious over Mercia. This brought the affair to an end as it brought Aethelwulf home, full of crowning glory for feats that he did not accomplish. It also brought Judith’s Father King Aelle to visit and check up on his daughter.  Judith was suffering much anguish at this time as well as possibly some other ailments.  Her Father’s harsh comments and concern only pertained to her not doing her duty as wife of a Noble conquering hero returning home. His concern was not for her happiness or her health, it was for his own personal issues. He was more concerned that her behavior would cause them to look bad and it would affect their so far steady treaty with Wessex. He was not a loving or forgiving Father or ruler for that matter… if she had done anything to affect this peace agreement, she would find no sympathy or forgiving sanctuary from this man!

Aelle and judith What is your problem

Aelle and judith What is your problem

I hear there's a nunnery down the road

I hear there’s a nunnery down the road

King Ecbert  was determined to dissuade any thought or rumor of Judith’s possible indiscretions. As in any small community, there were always rumors and gossip concerning the Nobles and their personal behaviors. Ecbert most probably knew full well of Judith’s affair with Athelstan and possibly even the result of it… But, at this point he needed her to present a loving and devoted wifely attitude towards her husband, Ecbert’s son. This was not a time for womanly hysterics or fits of stubbornness. This was a time to present a united front to all that were watching.

she has missed you beyond endurance she has spent countless hours praying in the chapel for your safe return

she has missed you beyond endurance she has spent countless hours praying in the chapel for your safe return

ecbert throws judith at aethelwulf  your wife has missed you

ecbert throws judith at aethelwulf your wife has missed you

judith is the pawn again

Judith was able to pull herself together and maintain her false pretense until she glimpsed her Athelstan watching from a distance.

 

Judith fakes her welcome of Aethelwulf while eying athelstan

a pensive athelstan in the middle of the feast an uncomfortable Athelstan looks on

During later events of that evening Ecbert used the relationship between Judith and Athelstan in attempt to get his beloved friend to remain with him in Wessex.

perhaps athelstan will stay   Will you  ohhh please say yes don't leave me this way

perhaps athelstan will stay Will you ohhh please say yes don’t leave me this way

When Athelstan mentioned his indecision, Ecbert hinted as to the ongoing relationship… he talked of how he knew that Judith spent much time with Athelstan, held him so dear to her heart and even used him as her personal confessor.  He also asked Athelstan if he had discussed this decision with Judith?

ecbert's response to athestan  Or with Judith

Athelstan’s decision to leave brought panic and fear along with heartbreak from Judith…

I gave myself to you please don't leave me

they say you will go home with ragnar  ohhh please stay don't leave me here by myself not now

they say you will go home with ragnar ohhh please stay don’t leave me here by myself not now

His decision brought a different but equally somber response from Ecbert. Ecbert was disappointed, told him it was the wrong decision and also left him with a final disturbing message…”You have made the wrong decision, your future lies here in Wessex.” Was that just Ecbert’s frustration speaking, or did he know more than he was willing to say.

 I've made up my mind  I will go back with ragnar

I’ve made up my mind I will go back with ragnar

ecbert to athelstan  I think that is the wrong decision.

ecbert to athelstan I think that is the wrong decision.

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan's decision

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan’s decision

In any event, all of their heart wrenching personal discussions and feelings were overshadowed by the final event of that evening… the death of Kwentirith’s brother. That event seemed to unsettle Judith even more.

judith's personal thought when is this going to be over I think I'm going to be sick

It was not until after Ragnar’s group, including Athelstan, departed back to Kattegat that the real consequence of Judith’s affair and her distress were revealed. Judith spent more and more time by herself, avoiding Aethelwulf and instead devoting her attentions to prayer and to God.

judith and her cross 2 lady judith

judith's cross to bear

judith’s cross to bear

judith's cross2

Eventually Aethelwulf inquired of what was bothering her… then demanded to know what her problem was as her husband it was his right to know.

facing aethelwulf

facing aethelwulf

 

silence as judith tries to find courage to tell aethelwulf her condition

silence as judith tries to find courage to tell aethelwulf her condition

Judith finally told Aethelwulf of what was bothering her…

I am with child   What I did not hear you correctly

I am with child. What I did not hear you correctly?

it is true I am with child

it is true I am with child

To say that Aethelwulf did not take the news well would be an understatement! He had not slept with Judith since the birth of their son… this child could not be his! He was beyond words, he was filled with uncontrollable rage, then with sheer terror and panic. There was his rage at his wife’s unfaithfulness and desire to abuse her brutally, but then there was his panic and his fear as well. His fear of his own anger, his fear of  God’s punishment upon them both for this act.

Well that's impossible we have not slept together since the birth of our son.

Well that’s impossible we have not slept together since the birth of our son.

Who's child it answer me

panic and fear in aethelwulf along with humiliation

panic and fear in aethelwulf along with humiliation

 

aethelwulf's anger and frustration

aethelwulf’s anger and frustration

His anger and bitterness at Judith’s betrayal were set aside temporarily when Ecbert employed him to go the North Settlement and end the disputes going on there. There was much betrayal in that act- the betrayal was between Ecbert and Ragnar, as well as in Ecbert and his own son… Ecbert used his own son to carry out the horrific act, but that story does not have a part in Judith’s personal story, other than the fact that in the act Aethelwulf showed his own brutality, his own berserker qualities and his growing extremism with his Christian faith. He would later use those qualities in his treatment of Judith. As to the most violent act that he bestowed on the settlement, I think that some of it involved his venting his rage at Judith.

Aethelwulf casts judith an evil look  I'll deal with you later

Aethelwulf casts judith an evil look I’ll deal with you later

Judith watches her husband leave

Judith watches her husband leave

judith trying to remain calm

What ever retribution or revenge that Aethelwulf would want to extract upon Judith for her adultery and her betrayal could not be implemented while she was with child. While his Christian church and faith would allow for many atrocities, even they would not condone or sanction killing a pregnant Noblewoman and her unborn child. No, that was just not acceptable in any of their Church guided laws. Really, even killing her after a birth would not be truly acceptable. There were other ways of punishing such a woman for her sins, ones which would ensure that she would go through life marked with her sin for all to see. Of far greater importance in this matter would be what to do with the child of such sin? Of course, realistically child birth was such high risk back then that very often a Mother and or her child did not survive it anyway. That would end the whole situation very easily and they could be done with this mess… 

Judith did not follow along that most easy plan of dealing with her. She and her child survived the ordeal of childbirth.  She gave birth to what we would initially assume to be a healthy son. (I say, assume here because from what is know about this child’s later life, he was not really so healthy.) 

in wessex judith has given birth to a son

baby alfred

So, Judith gave birth and with both her and child having survived it, Aethelwulf did show up if only for proper appearance’s sake. No need to cause such scandal quite yet… perhaps Mother and child were at death’s door and he could put the mess behind him. No, it did appear that they were both healthy and not about ease his problems by dying any time soon.

this father is not filled with joy.

this father is not filled with joy.

aethelwulf barely pays glance at this child this child's birth is not so well recieved

He stayed only long enough to assure himself that they would live… It was then that Judith’s real terror and nightmare began.

She asked for her child so she could hold him, but before that could happen the group of women were interrupted by soldiers and churchmen.

I want my baby give me my baby

she was interrupted before she could hold her new son

she was interrupted before she could hold her new son

The priest said he was acting on the King’s orders, and he probably was. But, I do think in part it was more due to Aethelwulf’s demands and insistence. Aethelwulf would have felt so betrayed and enraged by Judith’s act that he would have insisted on this punishment by the Church… especially with the child being a boy. This is the most important matter in this whole event. Judith had just given birth to a son, an imposter, a usurper of a son who, by being born within the confines of marriage would be looked at as a legitimate heir to the throne! This would have cause Aethelwulf even more inner rage than he already had and he would have been determined to see things set right.  If it had been a girl, he may have been able to contend himself with keeping quiet, and then found reason to ship both Judith and said daughter off to a nunnery. But, a boy… No a boy changed the situation entirely. Now, Judith must be convicted of adultery if for no other reason than to disinherit this child from any chance at the throne.  Even King Ecbert may have seen the need, the justification for such an act seeing as Judith has never admitted to them as yet who the Father may be.  Ecbert could have all the suspicions he chose, but until Judith admitted it publically, he had no choice but to go along with some trial and punishment to be on the safe side…. because, really, what if he was wrong, what if she had been with someone else, someone who she did not him to know about?  No, he could not take that chance when the matter of future kingship was at stake.

You must come with us now on the King's orders.

You must come with us now on the King’s orders.

what place what are you talking about what is this

what place what are you talking about what is this

Judith had no idea what was taking place, what was happening to her or why… She was in a true panic and feared for her life.

what is happening where are we going my children need me

what is happening where are we going my children need me

The terror that Judith was put through on this day was so horrific and brutal.  In Judith’s own words it was barbaric and not an act that her God or Jesus Christ would ever condone. I am quite sure that the event will remain forever in Judith’s mind and heart. Aside from any physical reminder, it will color and affect the way that she looks at life and the Church in the future!

Judith was left to the judgement and punishment of the Church on that day. She was tied to a stake and put on public trial for all to witness her punishment for the sin of adultery.

judith's terror begins2 judith tied to the stake 

No, she would not be killed, only tortured, maimed and scarred for life as well as being disavowed, disowned and publically humiliated by everyone in attendance. This public trial and humiliation would scar and mark her for life as an adultery in the eyes of everyone who would see her in the future. If she survived the injuries, she would have no other choice but to hide herself in some nunnery and repent for her sins the rest of her life. And, most likely her baby would not be killed but abandoned to the fate of being a bastard child of an adultering Mother.

The church’s Bishop presided over the trial and the given punishment.

you must face god for forgiveness

you must face god for forgiveness

the punishment as told by the holy book that your ears and nose be cut off

the punishment as told by the holy book that your ears and nose be cut off

Judith’s heartfelt response was “My Lord Jesus Christ never advocated such punishments”

My Lord Jesus never advocated such wrongful punishments

My Lord Jesus never advocated such wrongful punishments

she pleads with Ecbert and Aethelwulf  What is this what are you doing to me

It was barbaric, brutal and horrifying. Judith endured it and staunchly refused to confess who the Father of her child was.  All the while, Aethelwulf watched with no remorse or guilt, on disgust and anger towards her.

aethelwulf watches his wife torture with disgust a very angry aethelwulf

Ecbert watched with some grim determination

ecbert watches with grim determination

as judith faces her torture ecbert finally steps in

as judith faces her torture ecbert finally steps in

Ecbert pleaded with her to tell them the name of the man.

Judith will you not give us the name of this man

Judith staunchly refused to tell the name, perhaps in some desperate act of trying to protect Athelstan from any future retribution… little did she realize there was no point in this. For one thing he had  gone with the Vikings- that had already sealed his fate in some eyes such as Aethelwulf’s. For another, he had already suffered his own fatal consequences. But, she was determined to keep the secret and gave up an ear in the attempt…

judith refuses to name the father and gives up an ear for it ecbert listens and watches. he can do nothing to stop this unless she admits in public who is the father

Damn it Judith why must you be so stubborn if you had just said the name we could be done with this

Finally, in shock, Judith could take no more and uttered a small whisper of Athelstan…

judith can not take any more pain and utters the word Athelstan

judith can not take any more pain and utters the word Athelstan

athelstan is the father of my child

athelstan is the father of my child

This was the admission that Ecbert needed in order to ensure her safety. She needed to admit it publically before he could attempt to do any damage control in this situation. He immediately called a halt to the proceedings.

Hold Stop now

Aethelwulf looked as if he had been the tortured one on hearing her admission… Oh My Dear God, she slept with the Priest!

aethelwulf looks like he has been the tortured one

Ecbert quickly took control of the event and used his powers of persuasion to convince his son that this was really a miracle, an event touched and blessed by God. Aethelwulf was so devout and rigid in his thinking about his faith that this story actually began to have impact on him. He showed that where matters of religion and faith were concerned, he could be as easily swayed and as gullible as many others were.  Ecbert told Aethelwulf that Athelstan was indeed a very holy man, blessed by God and this was a special child, chosen by God. In his own thought, perhaps Ecbert felt that if he could not have Athelstan near to him, then he could at least have his child to raise up as a holy Christian… against the Pagans who had stolen away the heart and soul of his beloved friend Athelstan.

how can we punish a woman who like the blessed virgin gave birth to a holy child

how can we punish a woman who like the blessed virgin gave birth to a holy child

 

so you think that god had a hand in this conception?

so you think that god had a hand in this conception?

I do I do my son

I do I do my son

a dazed and confused Aethelwulf on hearing his wife has been chosen by god

a dazed and confused Aethelwulf on hearing his wife has been chosen by god

Judith and her son were saved by Ecbert and he vowed that there would be a christening of the child.

and the boy's name will be Alfred

and the boy’s name will be Alfred

his name is Alfred He shall be great

Athelstan has after all left a legacy, a child who will be raised as a devout and holy Christian. A child who will become a King that works tirelessly to unite the Kingdoms of England and stop the advance on their lands by the Heathen armies, the Vikings. A child who will become one called Alfred the Great and fight against the sons of Ragnar Lothbrock. But, that is all in the distant future of this infant.  What now might be in store for the child’s mother who fought so hard to keep him safe, who almost lost her life because of religious zealots such as her husband and power brokers such as King Ecbert.  The only thing we can be certain of for now is that she is alive and she is now deeply in Ecbert’s debt… which is not always such a good place to be. Ecbert want this son of Athelstan’s so the boy will be safe, well cared for and well raised despite any possible objections from Aethelwulf. Will Ecbert continue to show the same care for Judith? That does remain to be seen, but I believe that being so much in Ecbert’s debt, this makes her an even greater pawn for him to use to his advantage.

Now, as to Judith in real history… because there was a Judith, wife of Aethelwulf in history. In real and accurate history, she was Judith of Flanders. She was no relation nor had any connection to Aelle of Northumbria.

Judith of Flanders

Judith in history

Judith of Flanders (or Judith of France) (c. 843 – c. 870)  was the eldest daughter of the West Frankish King and later Holy Roman Emperor Charles the Bald and his wife Ermentrude of Orléans. Through her marriages to two Kings of Wessex, Æthelwulf and Æthelbald, she was twice a queen. Her first two marriages were childless, but through her third marriage to Baldwin, she became the first Countess of Flanders and an ancestress of later Counts of Flanders. One of her sons by Baldwin married Ælfthryth, a daughter of Æthelbald’s brother, Alfred the Great. She was also an ancestress of Matilda of Flanders, the consort of William the Conqueror, and thus of later monarchs of England.

In 855 King Æthelwulf of Wessex made a pilgrimage to Rome, and on his way back in 856 he stayed at the court of the West Frankish king, Charles the Bald. In July Æthelwulf became engaged to Charles’s daughter, Judith, who was no more than fourteen, while Æthelwulf was about fifty years old, and on 1 October 856 they were married at Verberie in northern France. The marriage was a diplomatic alliance. Both men were suffering from Viking attacks, and for Æthelwulf the marriage had the advantage of associating him with Carolingian prestige. In Wessex it was not customary for kings’ wives to be queens, but Charles insisted that his daughter be crowned queen.

The marriage provoked a rebellion by Æthelwulf’s eldest surviving son, Æthelbald, probably because he feared displacement by a higher born half brother. However father and son negotiated a compromise under which Æthelwulf received the eastern districts of the kingdom and Æthelbald the western. It is not known whether this meant that Æthelwulf took Kent and Æthelbald Wessex, or whether Wessex itself was divided.

Judith had no children by Æthelwulf, who died on 13 January 858. He was succeeded by Æthelbald, who married Judith, his step-mother, probably to enhance his status because she was the daughter of the West Frankish king. The marriage was condemned by Asser in his Life of Alfred the Great:

Once King Æthelwulf was dead, Æthelbald, his son, against God’s prohibition and Christian dignity, and also contrary to the practice of all pagans, took over his father’s marriage-bed and married Judith, daughter of Charles, king of the Franks, incurring great disgrace from all who heard of it.

Judith was still childless when Æthelbald died in 860 after a reign of two and a half years.

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

In true history, Aethelwulf was married prior to Judith and it was this wife who bore him all of his children, including young Alfred.

Queen_Osburga_reads_for_her_son,_Alfred

Osburh or Osburga (died before 856) was the first wife of King Æthelwulf of Wessex and mother of Alfred the Great. Alfred’s biographer, Asser, described her as “a most religious woman, noble in character and noble by birth”.

Osburh’s existence is known only from Asser‘s Life of King Alfred. She is not named as witness to any charters, nor is her death reported in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. So far as is known, she was the mother of all Æthelwulf’s children, his five sons Æthelstan, Æthelbald, Æthelberht, Æthelred and Alfred the Great, and his daughter Æthelswith, wife of King Burgred of Mercia. Osburh presumably died before 856 when her husband married the Carolingian princess Judith.

She is best known for Asser’s story about a book of Saxon songs which she showed to Alfred and his brothers, offering to give the book to whoever could first memorise it, a challenge which Alfred took up and won. This exhibits the interest of high status ninth-century women in books, and their role in educating their children.

Osburh was the daughter of Oslac (who is also only known from Asser’s Life), King Æthelwulf’s pincerna (butler), an important figure in the royal court and household. Oslac is described as a descendant of King Cerdic‘s Jutish nephews, Stuf and Wihtgar, who conquered the Isle of Wight,  and, by this, is also ascribed Geatish/Gothic ancestry.

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

One last note of interest… Michael Hirst, creator of the Vikings has confirmed that this baby is indeed the Alfred that grows up to be called Alfred the Great so we can rest assured that this baby will remain safely cared for no matter what might befall Judith in the future.  There is also an interesting thought here on Alfred’s future health ailments… he suffers from ill health all of his life in true history. Perhaps it is due to the religious thought that Aethelwulf would put so much store in… The sins of the Fathers, or Mothers will be passed on to their children? Or in other terms, the children will suffer in some way because of the parent’s sins.

Alfred died on 26 October 899. How he died is unknown, although he suffered throughout his life with a painful and unpleasant illness. His biographer Asser gave a detailed description of Alfred’s symptoms and this has allowed modern doctors to provide a possible diagnosis. It is thought that he either had Crohn’s disease or haemorrhoidal disease.  His grandson King Edred seems to have suffered from a similar illness.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_the_Great#Death.2C_burial_and_fate_of_remains

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings Scarred: It’s not a good party unless someone dies!

I mentioned previously that there was a great feast to welcome the victorious heroes home… I did force myself to attend, and it went the way most of these parties usually do.  What I have come to realize is that the parties of this time are not really so different as ones of the future, other than the type of entertainment that seems to be a requirement of a successful event? There is all of the typical political and business networking going on, the back room under the table deals being made, the not so secret affairs coming to light after a few drinks, the drunken brawls as well as the drunken affections. Then there are the family squabbles and dirty laundry that always seem to get aired? As I said, not really any different than any number of business parties or family functions of the future other than that one small event that always ends up being the highlight of the party. It is just not considered a success or an A list event unless there is a death involved somehow!  This event included all of these and did not fail on the death as entertainment.

a night of glorious feasting and celebration

All of the important A list celebrities of Wessex were there, as well as some visitors from other Kingdoms? When King Aelle showed up for a visit, it was obvious that this was more than just your average run of the mill homecoming celebration… This was indeed more of a business, power broker’s meeting. Of course he could always use the excuse that he was just in the neighborhood and decided to pay his daughter a visit? Yeah, right… nobody really fell for it but it was a convenient excuse.  Judith was not happy to see him. I really can’t say that I blame her? I’m sure that she was probably glad to leave his house for this new family! Anyway, more of them later.

As I mentioned, there were the usual behind the scenes affairs being carried on which made for some discomfort later during the party.  Lagertha was wrapping up her dalliance with Ecbert in preparation to return home to her other responsibilities in Hedeby.

Lagertha shows her independance

Lagertha shows her independence

Ecbert naturally assumed that she would want to stay here with him and she did have to be quite honest with him!

Even though you have made me happy and satisfied  I have come to understand that the only person you truly care for is yourself

Even after her honesty, he still tried…

I've enjoyed your company and the sex has been incredible

I’ve enjoyed your company and the sex has been incredible

what if I asked you personally to stay

Lagertha tried to keep the parting on good terms. She did still need his protection for the settlement after all, it wouldn’t be wise to piss him off completely and then leave their people stranded there!

Athelstan and Judith had been carrying on their own semi-private affair… I put it this way because, really nothing is truly private or secret here!

do you love me  Yes I love you

Then, when the group returned, it came out that Ragnar might have been carrying on his own somewhat dubious and slightly disgusting liason with Princess Kwentirith… my personal thought on that- euwwww, just euwwww Really, Ragnar???

yes she understands  now on to next matter of business

yes she understands now on to next matter of business

how is your wound  ohhh it still hurts you should make it better

how is your wound ohhh it still hurts you should make it better

 

King Ecbert welcomed the victorious heroes home, mainly his son- who will go down in history as the conquering hero of this mission with no mention of any help or assistance he may have had from others such as Danish mercenaries…

My son  No Father could be prouder You will go down in history as a hero for this

the return of a victorious warrior  who gets all the credit

Now, I did mention that Judith was not happy to see her Father, nor was she all that excited to see her heroic husband return. Of course, this return would put a bit of a damper on her relationship with Athelstan. But, then again, she just seemed a bit edgy and unsettled about everything lately? King Aelle of course noticed and was not happy with her attitude or her behavior. He had a lot riding on this marriage of hers and he made it pretty clear that she needed to get her shit together and behave appropriately…

Aelle and judith What is your problem

Aelle and judith What is your problem

I hear there's a nunnery down the road

I hear there’s a nunnery down the road

Yes, that was quite uncomfortable for everyone, including poor Athelstan who had to watch it all from a distance.

she has missed you beyond endurance she has spent countless hours praying in the chapel for your safe return

she has missed you beyond endurance she has spent countless hours praying in the chapel for your safe return

judith is the pawn again Judith fakes her welcome of Aethelwulf while eying athelstan an uncomfortable Athelstan looks on a pensive athelstan in the middle of the feast

There was a huge display of welcome for Kwentirith and her pathetic little brother and we had to endure watching him grovel for forgiveness from Ecbert. Ecbert went along with it all too easily and happily? We should have known something was up right then!

little brother is petrified but gullible

little brother is petrified but gullible

kwentirith leading her brother the lamb to slaughter

kwentirith leading her brother the lamb to slaughter

I'll crown them both you see how they feel about each other it makes sense

I’ll crown them both you see how they feel about each other it makes sense

There were the serious discussions and back room deals being made, along with some debates on corruption? Ragnar and Ecbert agreed they were both corrupt but that did not mean they weren’t good men! They cut some rather shady deals and Ecbert used the new settlement as leverage in getting at least part of what he wanted…

Yep, we're both corrupt and we both know it

Yep, we’re both corrupt and we both know it

you and I we understand each other

you and I we understand each other

I've helped you to establish a settlement in the very heart of my kingdom

I’ve helped you to establish a settlement in the very heart of my kingdom

Of course, after all of the drinking, there was some slightly drunken slobbering, whining and shows of affection… some of them expected, some of them bordering on inappropriate? Leave it to Kwentirith to push those limits of good manners and proper conduct!

(This scene was cut from our American viewing of the show!)

 

Amid these drunken affections, there were also hints of blackmail and “I know more than you think I do’s!”

Stay you must stay here

Stay you must stay here

I'm not sure I've not discussed it with Ragnar yet

I’m not sure I’ve not discussed it with Ragnar yet

Yes… Ecbert knows all about this dalliance with his daughter in law, in fact he may know more than anyone gives him credit for!

ecbert's response to athestan  Or with Judith

There was a more private discussion between Athelstan and Ecbert where Ecbert advised Athelstan that he was making the wrong decision in going with Ragnar because his future lies here in Wessex? Hmmm now, what could he mean by this comment?  Yes, of course we know that he is quite fond of Ahelstan and wants him to stay but I have a feeling that Ecbert may have been eluding to something else with this statement…

ecbert is disappointed with athelstan's decision

Speaking of private conversation and Athelstan… He did have a few other private- or so he thought- discussions during the party.  One of those conversations was with Judith. Now, let me just say that both Athelstan and Judith are novices when it comes to keeping affairs secret.  They had what they thought was a private meeting in the hall… Really, you two- how many times have I advised that there is no such thing as privacy here! If you are going to carry on these illicit affairs, you need to learn discretion! And, Judith- crying, begging and carrying on in public is generally frowned upon as highly inappropriate! You have already made a mess of things, as your Father says, Pull yourself together and quit making a scene! Judith was panic stricken at the thought of Athelstan leaving her.

I gave myself to you please don't leave me

Athelstan had another discussion with Ragnar, asking for his advice on women, and what he should do.

Nobody understands  We're all free to do as we choose Are we still talking about women  we're not are we

 

I must admit that despite my reluctance to attend this function, I did enjoy my time spent wandering around and eavesdropping on everyone. Maybe I could employ myself as a an early version of tabloid reporter? I was however, getting a bit tired and wondering when the entertainment portion would begin? It seemed that they were saving that for the end of the evening…

During the long wait for this entertainment, there were some minor family squabbles, besides those of Judith and her Father.  Ragnar and Lagertha had a few words with each other over her involvement with King Ecbert.  It did not amount to much though as Ragnar really had no leg to stand on with his annoyed accusations of her “sacrifices for the common good!” Lagertha was quick to point this out. She admitted that yes, she did get on well with Ecbert for the sake of all of us. Ragnar made comment that she had sacrificed herself for the common good an she reminded him that he has done the same!

yes we did get on well for the sake of all of us

yes we did get on well for the sake of all of us

mmmm as did you  many times

mmmm as did you many times

Yes as did you Ragnar so shut your face2

Later there was a conversation between Lagertha and Rollo…

Oh Lagertha in some things you are so wise  in others you are so naive  Rollo states the obvious All men are ambitious2

Oh Lagertha in some things you are so wise in others you are so naive Rollo states the obvious All men are ambitious2

Not Kalf never Kalf he would never betray me

Of course Lagertha had no idea what her “loyal” friend Kalf was up to in Hedeby… What was Kalf up to in Hedeby?

No not kalf he is ever faithful and loyal to me

No not kalf he is ever faithful and loyal to me

Well, he was enjoying the benefits of his new Earldom… and he was making new friends out of Lothbrok enemies- all in preparation for Lagertha’s return home. Kalf has invited a guest.  Yes, that would be the son of King Horik, the one that Ragnar could not bring himself to kill. Big mistake there Ragnar- Siggy once pointed out that it is the usual and common practice for a new Earl or ruler to make sure there are no remaining survivors to question or rebel against the new regime! King Horik’s son has grown up and is seeking some retribution… he has also brought along another survivor, his new wife, Torvi!  Torvi is the widow of one Jarl Borg, yeah- that one, the one who Ragnar chose to execute via blood eagle. 

you may recall the fate of Ragnar's enemy  Yarl Borg

you may recall the fate of Ragnar’s enemy Yarl Borg

we are natural allies against the Lothbroks and all their kith and kin

we are natural allies against the Lothbroks and all their kith and kin

meet my wife Torvi

Torvi has a bonus gift… she has the son and heir of the once great Jarl Borg?  I suppose this would be a situation enemies banding together for the mutual and common purpose of retaliating against the enemy of all of them.  The problem with this situation is that it just does not bode well for baby Borg’s future… I can understand Torvi’s need for some protection and needing a new baby Daddy, but this innocent little baby poses a threat in the long run? When it comes right down to the basics, Erlandr wants his Father’s rightful crown and title back, and he is not going to want Jarl Borg’s offspring around feeling entitled to anything!

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

Ahhh look he is the image of the great jarl borg

Jarl Borg's heir apparant

Jarl Borg’s heir apparent

This is what Lagertha has to look forward to on her return to Hedeby!

 

Ok, I am getting really tired of the waiting, it’s getting way too hot in the hall so a walk outside for some fresh air is in order… and what do I find but one other family type squabble going on? I say family type because Floki is like a part of the family. Floki chose not to join in all of the festivities but rather spent time outside pouting and thinking of ways to get back at all these Christ lovers who would be the end of life as we know it?

Floki what are you doing out here

Floki what are you doing out here

I came to talk to the gods  they are angry rollo

I came to talk to the gods they are angry rollo

I hate to say this but floki’s ranting is starting get a bit tiresome. We all understand his feelings and his concerns, but really he is getting to the point where he is just as annoying as are the Christian Priests in their ranting about Heathens!

Ohhh not this again Floki just give it up

Floki’s preaching of the Gods and their anger is wearing thin on all of us!

really floki a spit is all you can respond with now you resort to making faces

really floki a spit is all you can respond with now you resort to making faces

 

Finally, just when I was about to give up on any planned entertainment, Ecbert called everyone into the great hall for a special announcement? Have you ever been to a party or event and felt like everyone else but you knew what was going on? Well, that is how I felt about this final event. As I looked around, some people were watching with great expectation that something was about to happen?

we all watched the final act of the feast

we all watched the final act of the feast

It started out nicely enough with Kwentirith and her brother being given seats of honor in front of everyone. They made their little speeches of gratitude and appreciation… Kwentirith as usual, went overboard with her speech, going on and on about how she had learned to forgive the abuses and injustices in her life?

let us celebrate and drink to victory over my abusers

let us celebrate and drink to victory over my abusers

My dear sister you have saved me (that's what you think)

My dear sister you have saved me (that’s what you think)

Birghrid went on and on as well in gushing over his love for his sister… This was just way too uncomfortable to watch!

I've loved you I've always loved you

I’ve loved you I’ve always loved you

I am not the only one who was disgusted and uncomfortable with their displays of affection and their lengthy speeches!

Just drink the damned wine already

Just drink the damned wine already

rollo knows

rollo knows

ecbert watches and thinks ohhh that is so disgusting so wrong in so many ways what a pathetic man he is

ecbert watches and thinks ohhh that is so disgusting so wrong in so many ways what a pathetic man he is

And, Finally the planned entertainment portion of the evening takes place!

kwentirith's moving speech about coming to terms with her past her family and now at last I am finally free

kwentirith’s moving speech about coming to terms with her past her family and now at last I am finally free

Kwentirith gives a sneaky smile as she offers her brother a drink

Kwentirith gives a sneaky smile as she offers her brother a drink

kwentirith fakes it a bit longer and birghrid looks out at everyone like you all knew

A one act realistic theatrical performance of “Death by Wine” starring Princess Kwentirith and brother Birghrid.  Initial reactions to the performance varied from King Aelle’s delight, Ecbert’s impatience, Ragnar’s waiting for more, to poor Judith’s look of extreme discomfort…

Aelle Yes a death  I love a good death it's always the highlight of any good party2

a look over to ragnar  thank god this is almost over

a look over to ragnar thank god this is almost over

birghrid feels the poison kick in

ragnar watches and urges her to go on

ragnar watches and urges her to go on

judith's personal thought when is this going to be over I think I'm going to be sick

Ahhhh actually, it was a two act play… as if the death were not enough entertainment in itself, we were then treated to Judith’s continued theatrics? Now, to be honest, I felt her solo performance was a bit lacking. She seemed a bit nervous and shaky in her proclamation of being the sole remaining ruler of Mercia. And, I think her nerves got the best of her when she invited all to rise and drink to her. Maybe that was due to the unexpected response she got to that invitation!

are you scared Kwentirith why are you shaking do you know you're going to be next2

Rather than toasting her as new queen of Mercia, there was a pause for some thought and debate amongst the guests before they showed her how they really felt.

Yeah and if you think we're drinking any more of this wine you are sadly mistaken2 Well so much for this party2 Now what the hell do we do with her2 Here's to you Sweetheart  just don't get too comfortable cause you won't last long2

Toast her  raise our cups to her  no we don't think so

Toast her raise our cups to her no we don’t think so

yeah what ever to the queen2

I don’t know, I could be wrong as I have not attended a great many of these events in early England, but I don’t think that throwing your cups at the new ruler is necessarily a sign of respect?  I certainly do understand the reaction of pouring one’s wine out after witnessing someone spew blood from drinking it. For those of us who were not privy to exactly what was going to happen, yes that was definitely our first instinct. I am reasonably sure though that a number of people in the room knew exactly what was going to happen and just dumped their wine out as way of covering their involvement in the act.  I believe too that Princess Kwentirith just got played Royally and suddenly realized it when she looked around the room and then saw the cups flying towards her!  For all realistic purposes, she appears to be the  guilty party in this act… no matter what happens next, she will be looked on with suspicion forever more. It should be quite simple now for King Ecbert to sway people to thinking that she is guilty of poisoning her brother?

Just a hint here Kwentirith  when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

Just a hint here Kwentirith when everyone throws empty cups at you you may have a few friend problems!

So, let us ask one more time the question of  Are you corrupt?

Now what the hell do we do with her2 Are you corrupt  Why yes we are

In the case of Kwentirith, well yes she’s showed that she is corrupt as well as bat shit crazy, but she is also gullible if she believes that these men really have her best interests at heart, if she thinks that anyone is going to let her rule…  I am just looking forward to seeing how Ecbert deals with this situation? I am pretty sure that Kwenitrith is not going to be staying in Wessex or Mercia for very long? I’ve heard historical rumors that she may seek refuge in Francia and then be banished even from that court!

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

Am I corrupt  Why yes I am kwentirith

Am I corrupt Why yes I am kwentirith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vikings, Warrior’s Fate: It’s so much more than just a bath!

Before we deal with the darker sides of the Warrior’s Fate, namely battle and it’s aftermath… I think we need a few moments of amusement, entertainment and ohhh yes, let’s do spend some time in that Roman tub with Ecbert, Lagertha, Athelstan… and a rather reluctant Judith. Let’s also catch a glimpse of  Athelstan’s well hidden finer assets…

I do want to warn and advise ahead of time that this post contains some partial nudity, minor sexual contact and explicitness. The clips are from a scene that was deleted for American viewers. I give credit to George-blagden.net for providing the deleted scene so all of us can enjoy it!  You can view the scene here:  http://george-blagden.net/post/112924714611.  I have pulled the stills out of it for our purposes and enjoyment!

In our previous discussion, we talked of  Ecbert, his games of strategy and his pawns in this power game. I did mention that Lagertha could be a possible pawn, but one that he would be loathe to give up or sacrifice. I do not think Lagertha is so much of a pawn in his overall game of power but that remains to be seen? Lagertha is a strong independent woman with her own vision, her own desires and her own agenda. I think that she is probably fully aware and understanding of this game between them. This is a more personal and private game for both of them. I think that Lagertha knows very well what benefits or advantages an affair with Ecbert can provide for her and her settlement.  Ecbert desires her, but knows that this liason is not one that will necessarily give him advantage in the overall bigger picture. I could be wrong, but for now I think this is a case of Ecbert and Lagertha indulging themselves in a mutually satisfying and benefitial situation for both of them!  Lagertha deserves some pleasure and if  Ecbert can provide that, then I say, Go for it Lagertha!

Ecbert has already admitted that he is infatuated and rather besotted with Lagertha. Lagertha is flattered by his attentions and appreciative of his various gifts. These two understand each other, they are both intelligent and curious people and they enjoy the company of each other. I think perhaps that Lagertha sees the side of Ecbert that reminds her of Ragnar as he used to be?

With Lagertha, Ecbert can let his guard down a little, show his more likeable side. He wants her, he is fairly open about this desire and is not attempting to hide it. Why should he hide it… sometimes, it’s good to be King!  He pays another visit with another gift.

ecbert pays another visit and brings another gift

ecbert pays another visit and brings another gift

Lagertha  smugly showed him that she is quite adept in his language.

a smug lagertha shows her language skill Yes I know more now than I already knew

a smug lagertha shows her language skill Yes I know more now than I already knew

So you speak our language.   Of course I do you foolish man!

So you speak our language. Of course I do you foolish man!

A conversation and explanation of his gift of the plow turns to one of sexual innuendo, which both he and Lagertha understand!

I've brought you something a new plow that goes deeper than others

There is yet another invitation to his villa, which Lagertha happily agrees to!

By this visit, both Ecbert and Lagertha have a good idea of where this “friendship” is going? Lagertha is an intelligent woman, she know exactly where Ecbert’s thoughts and desires are going. She is a willing participant in this affair.  Ecbert takes his group of Lagertha, Athelstan and Judith on a tour of his most favorite and treasured space in his home. Now, both Judith and Athelstan know of this room, so this tour was set up specifically for Lagertha’s benefit. Why he chose to include Athelstan and Judith in this tour and the eventual enjoyment of his tub is a little puzzling. It’s almost as though he was testing them both on something? Athelstan is nonchalant and acts as though it makes no difference to him. Judith is uncomfortable with all of it but does go along with the invitation. This goes against all of Judith’s well engrained principles and values but she participates…

Lagertha is awestruck by the place and ever curious about those Romans who built this place.

ecbert's roman bath

ecbert’s roman bath

lagertha is awestruck

lagertha is awestruck

let us talk about the romans

There is some discussion about those Roman Gods and how they were like Lagertha’s Gods… to which she insisted, No they were not!

No she is not like my gods my gods are alive

No she is not like my gods my gods are alive

my gods are as real as you and me

my gods are as real as you and me

She was intrigued and excited about the bath while Judith gave a hesitant description of how the Romans used the baths.

Judith explains the Roman bath is this really a bath it's so big

Ecbert issues his invitation to join him in the bath… Judith is understandably uncomfortable with this suggestion. The underlying question is why does she agree to this in the first place? Has Ecbert put her up to it… has someone else? Why did she not just make excuse and remove herself from this activity? Was it her curiosity and her underlying fascination with Athelstan that moved her to be brave enough to consider this? Was it Lagertha’s more easy acceptance and joy of life that spurred Judith in some way to find enough courage to attempt indulging in this shameful activity? What ever the reason, Judith did manage to get herself in the tub with everyone, though it became obvious that she was not enjoying herself!

judith gulps at ecbert's suggestion for them to join him

judith gulps at ecbert’s suggestion for them to join him

so, with slaves/servants in attendance and trying not to watch, the group enjoyed a soak in the Roman tub. Lagertha and Ecbert settled in together quickly and had no inhibitions or reservations about public displays of affection!

lagertha and ecbert are getting quite relaxed with each other

lagertha and ecbert are getting quite relaxed with each other

After a few drinks, a relaxed conversation about the old Roman city of Paris…Such a beautiful place as you have never seen before!

Such a city Paris is

Such a city Paris is

go on tell me more about this paris

go on tell me more about this paris

Lagertha is ever the curious one about other cultures and ideas. She wants to know more about this city, Paris… Ecbert and Athelstan fill her in on the wonders of this place. She mentions how she would love to see it and asks how far it is? Hmmmm is this a plan of Ecbert’s… she will be so curious and glowing about this land, will tell Ragnar all about it and perhaps Ragnar will be so curious too, that he will head off to Paris and be out of Ecbert’s hair for a while? Not Ecbert has anything against Ragnar yet, but I am sure he is always thinking of the future? It’s just not wise to keep a man as equally powerful and motivated around for too long… he may get ideas of seeking more power here and surely Ecbert would prefer him to look elsewhere for that power and riches.

Judith is trying to relax and enjoy this experience… the one enjoyable part of it is that Athelstan is here. She cautiously sneaks a glimpse over at him and her returns the look…

a quick sneak peek over at Athelstan

a quick sneak peek over at Athelstan

athelstan returns the sneak peek

athelstan returns the sneak peek

Then as if on cue, Athelstan goes into his own wonderous description of Paris…

Athelstan describes paris

Athelstan describes paris

Judith’s mind wanders to some other thoughts during this discussion… perhaps she’s more interested in the here and now, and what the rest of Athelstan looks like? Maybe she is enjoying for a few moments the experience of being a bit of voyeur in glimpsing what Lagertha and Ecbert are indulging in?

Paris  who cares about Paris!

Paris who cares about Paris!

ohhh is this water getting warm it's so warm in here I have to leave I can't do this

The moment does not last however, and Judith quickly snaps back to reality when Athelstan moves closer to her…

Ummm too close too close

Ummm too close too close

judith's thought omg maybe if I drink enough this will be easier!

judith’s thought omg maybe if I drink enough this will be easier!

the booze isn't helping well maybe just another sip

the booze isn’t helping well maybe just another sip

What is it  This is wrong this is just so wrong

What is it This is wrong this is just so wrong

thoughts in judith's head  no no no euwwwww I can't watch this

thoughts in judith’s head no no no euwwwww I can’t watch this

Ohhh ummm this is sooo wrong

Ohhh ummm this is sooo wrong

Ultimately, Judith’s good Christian upbringing over rides any enjoyment she might have found in this activity and she hastily flees… Athelstan may have tried to catch a glimpse of her escaping the tube, but she was just too quick! Her shame and embarrassment kicked in and she threw a towel around herself faster than I’ve ever seen anyone move!

a quick stare at Judith getting out of the tub judith makes her escape

Judith fled the scene but Athelstan attempted to remain for a bit longer… even though it must have been extremely uncomfortable to be put in this third wheel situation again?

lagertha's thought... ummm no this isn't wrong in fact I think it's going pretty well

lagertha’s thought… ummm no this isn’t wrong in fact I think it’s going pretty well

Ecbert watches Judith leave and I am quite sure his thoughts were, “It’s about time! I didn’t think she would even get in, let alone stay?” “That’s it Judith, now run along and be sure to take Athelstan with you”

ecbert's thought it's about time I didn't think she would even get in let alone stay now be sure to take athelstan with you

ecbert’s thought it’s about time I didn’t think she would even get in let alone stay now be sure to take athelstan with you

A few well placed nods and some ignoring of his presence… Athelstan gets the hint that this has become a very private party and unless he wants to show that he has truly become a pagan, or he wants lessons, he should probably leave now?

Uhhh Athelstan it's time for you to leave as well unless you want lessons?

Uhhh Athelstan it’s time for you to leave as well unless you want lessons?

Athelstan makes a much calmer and casual escape… which I am sure that everyone, namely those slaves in the background, enjoyed! Too bad Judith left first, she missed her chance to get a good view of Athelstan!

Athelstan's not quite so shy as the lady judith athelstan's bum

Ahhhh poor Judith… the entire experience proved too much for her and Athelstan found her crying in the hall. Judith is young and trying so hard to fit in, to be the good wife, the good Christian.  It might have been easier for her if she had some good role model to guide her in this place? Many other young women in her position would have had some older Noblewoman to watch over her and help her learn the ropes of being such a Noble wife? I can not say Queen… because someone else in the real history of this time had ruined that option? (That would be the real life counterpart of Kwentirith… Queen Edburh made such a mess of things by “accidently” poisoning her husband that no woman was allowed to be called Queen after her!) Ohhh and hmmmmm? There does seem to be mention of some poisoning in the next chapter?

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

Anyway, back to Judith’s plight right now… she does not have one to look to for advice. Ecbert has no wife, and the only other Noble or Royal woman around is in fact Kwentirith. Judith may be young and naïve but she is smart enough to know that Kwentirith is not one that she should look to as a role model!  So, Judith must find her own way in this maze of powerful men who control her life. She is having a difficult time of it.  Athelstan’s arrival and his outlook on religion are making it even more difficult for her. This whole new world of Pagan culture and beliefs is causing her to wonder and to doubt her own beliefs. Of course it could also be that she is just an overly tired new Mother with a slight case of post partum depression… What ever the case, I believe she was truly suffering from deep remorse and guilt over her sinful and shameful lust filled thoughts this night.

I'm sorry.   What for I'm the one that's a prude...

I’m sorry. What for I’m the one that’s a prude…

Athelstan did his best to comfort her in her distress but it didn’t really help much! God bless him for trying though…

judith admits her tiredness of trying to be good Judith the daughter Judith the wife Judith the pawn

Meanwhile, Lagertha with her Pagan beliefs and her better understanding of the world… and men, suffered no such pangs of guilt or remorse. No, Lagertha, free woman and embodiment of the Goddess that  Ecbert seems to see her as, took full pleasure and equal enjoyment this night!

lagertha enjoys the ride

lagertha enjoys the ride

it's good to be a free woman!

it’s good to be a free woman!

finally a bath and some mutual satisfaction

finally a bath and some mutual satisfaction

Lagertha, the Free Woman, the Pagan Goddes come to life, is nobody’s pawn!

Lagertha the free woman the pagan goddes nobody's pawn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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: Warrior’s fate, again way too much to process!

Ok, once again my mind is swirling and on overload from trying to process everything going on! It will take me a few days to digest it, sort through the many details and give my thoughts on all of it. It’s always the little details, the small things, glances and looks that first get overlooked in the grander picture. When you look back on events later, sometimes those smallest seemingly insignificant things suddenly jump out at you and stick in your head.  It’s late and I’m deliriously mentally drained from the experience so I am just going to leave you these minor little glances that I noticed… I’ll be back tomorrow with a my thoughts on everything!

Now, obviously there was much more going on of far more importance than these last glimpses but as I said, these are  just stuck in my head at the moment? Probably because they came towards the end and they summed up my thoughts on Ecbert’s current predicament of being caught between a rock and a hard place… or between Lagertha and his Noblemen!  And, that last look from Judith at her father in law, well that was just too good not to leave comment on!  She’s looking at him knowing he’s in a deep bit of trouble and figuring he’s going to be looking for someone to blame this whole mess on…

you could have at least gave me a heads up on the whole blood bathOh shit I am never going to hear the end of this