Tag Archive | Vikings saga

Vikings: A long awaited voyage! Part one of season 3 premiere review

*****Spoiler Warning!” 

This post contains spoilers for Vikings Season 3 episode 1, Mercenary. If you have not watched it yet and do not want spoilers, please avoid this post until you have watched it, or do not complain that I did not advise you ahead of time!

 

Have you ever experienced a long, cold winter trapped in close quarters with nowhere to go for relief from the voices and the troubles of others? Well, if you have been through these winters, you will understand me when I say that after some months of the bitter cold, the dreary days of  little sunlight, and the never ending snow, everyone becomes restless. Their nerves are frayed, they are on edge for little or no reason, they are restless, bored and irritated with the company of even their closest allies and loved ones? That is how we have spent this winter of much distress and discontent.  We were ambushed and attacked in our own home by our own King…and  that was just  the start of our longest winter!  Before I go on with our coming voyage, I must quickly share what happened that fateful winter night when King Horik decided that he trusted no one of Ragnar’s family and that they all must die.

He supposedly came in peace, even brought with him his entire family to celebrate a new beginning, an alliance between all of us. What he really did though was set a trap to lure us into, to use us as his means of doing away with Ragnar and his family whom he felt held too much power?

King horik's family of daughters

While he spoke of peace and celebration, he was trapping ones such as Siggy and Floki into carrying out his plans of death. I did warn Siggy more than once that this dangerous game she involved herself in could come to no good end?

you once promised ragnar's weakness you did not deliver  You wasted all your seed on a promis  Tell me now what is his weakness

you once promised ragnar’s weakness you did not deliver You wasted all your seed on a promis Tell me now what is his weakness

you must go to the great hall at sunset and kill ragnar's young sons

you must go to the great hall at sunset and kill ragnar’s young sons

I will make you a queen you will rule again

I will make you a queen you will rule again

Rollo had learned of her actions, and felt wholly betrayed by her even though she had done her deeds with his future rise in mind. That made it worse as far as he was concerned for it felt to him like she did not trust him to fight his own battles?  There was much tension, anger and resentment between them when he was returned to us near death. They were both filled with bitterness and said things they probably should not have…

Don't  give up   What do you care

Don’t give up What do you care

what do you care Do you want an honest answer  I don't know but I think you might still be useful somehow

what do you care? Do you want an honest answer, I don’t know but I think you might still be useful somehow.

to whom

To whom, I really don’t know

Floki was embroiled in his own treacherous game with Horik. In attempt to gain Horik’s trust, he was ordered to kill someone who mattered?

floki calling the gods to rollo my friend torstien has been murdered

Horik plotted and planned with his family- his wife and his son, and with his army to ambush and destroy us in the night…

wars are not always fought on the battle field today we must overcome the magic of ragnar lothbrok horik and wife Gunhild who was once a great sheild maiden herself sometimes the war comes into your home

They sought to bring the war right into our home but in the end they failed because of the loyalties that all felt to Ragnar Lothbrok. His plot was known about and he was defeated. Those two, Siggy and Floki did not betray but brought their information to Ragnar so that we could be prepared for the fight.

The gods are coming   I know

this family will fight or die trying

this family will fight or die trying

a fight between shield maidens

a fight between shield maidens

when it is my family or yours then my family shall live

when it is my family or yours then my family shall live

In the end, Horik was surrounded and put to death by Ragnar. Horik’s one last request was that Ragnar let his son live? I am not so sure this was such a wise idea but Ragnar did grant it.

horik thinks he has won but he underestimates Ragnar and those loyal to him Horik is surrounded and floki enters the room

At the end, it was his own dagger that he was killed with, and Siggy had the final revenge of watching him die!

a dagger of death to seal the bargain siggy will have the final revenge as she watches horik die

 

floki where have you been   Looking after you Bjorn

floki where have you been Looking after you Bjorn

The sword of Kings was in Ragnar’s possession now and Bjorn held it as if feeling his own future destiny.

the sword of kings in bjorn's hand bjorn's destiny

 

So, King Horik and his family were no more and now Ragnar is King. Being King does not make life any better or easier, and it does not make a man any happier about his life? All of the problems and messes that were in his life are still there for him to deal with. He suffers no less from the winter, the restlessness and the discontent than the rest of us!

Now, winter is leaving us soon and we are more than ready for spring to arrive! Ragnar has announced that come Spring, we shall sail to England and claim that land which King Ecbert promised us. Many are more than ready, are anxious to take the voyage… they all have their own reasons?

Ragnar is as restless as everyone else. He does love his sons, but their Mother… not so much! He loves the son Ivar, but can do nothing to help the child and feels pain at being around him I think? Aslaug feels that same pain as well, but she is a Mother above all else and will endure that heart ache for her son.

Ragnar must leave because

aslaug and Ivar

She knows that Ragnar does not love her but she continues on with a brave front and a cold attitude to others. And, she watches her husband and Lagertha leave with great suspicion, she is sure no good will come of this?

Do you love mesuspicious aslaug watches lagertha lagertha is much too close for comfort

Rollo, he must leave because his heart hurts too much to stay right now. He can not forgive Siggy for her sleeping with Horik even if was done in some attempt to help him…

rollo must leave because

Rollo is not happy, neither is Siggy but they are both too proud to admit their wrongs to each other…

rollo is not happy either but at least they do not have torstein's problem rollo understand well floki's desire to leave rollo's response to floki I understand completely I will be glad to sail

Much later Rollo will think on Siggy, admit what was in his heart for her and still feel the bitterness… but at least he would come to smile again!

I loved a woman like that once, I prized that woman as much as my own life  fat lot of good it did me

I loved a woman like that once, I prized that woman as much as my own life fat lot of good it did me

Let no man mock another over what touches his heart time and again every man will feel it

Rollo is amused by all of it right now

 

Floki, he would leave because he felt trapped by his marriage to Helga and his new family? Floki feared happiness!

floki must leave

I think Floki feared the impending responsibilities of being husband and Father? He looked at his family and all he saw was the looming responsibilities, and the fear that something might happen to them? Better then, not to be so attached to them should that happiness be taken away by the Gods…

floki and helga Floki and Helga's daughter just look at her  No I can't she makes too happy and I fear it perhaps when you come back you will see the sense of this   Perhaps I will die there we're such a happy family   what is wrong with that We don't want to trap you if you want to leave us you should go

In Floki’s words, Helga was so horribly good that he couldn’t stand it and he must get away! Helga would not fight or argue, she simply said, “Go then, perhaps you will feel different when you return?”

You can not understand I am so happy I am so happy we're leaving

 

Athelstan, why did he feel such need to go back to England?

Athelstan must leave because

Athelstan was torn in his thoughts and his decisions, but he felt that he needed to follow Ragnar? Ragnar felt much the same in that he must follow Athelstan… Athelstan must go back to that place, and his God. He must face his inner demons and hauntings to be clear in his mind and heart of what he should do with his life.

ragnar and athelstan

Athelstan is marked by his god for some higher purpose and he must seek out that purpose.

I know you too well you can not hide anything

I know you too well you can not hide anything

Athelstan is torn not only by his faith but in his friendships. Ecbert awaits his return to him and to their God’s calling.

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

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

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

And, what of Lagertha in Hedeby, why did she feel need to go on this voyage when other troubles were brewing upon her doorstep?

lagertha must leave because

Lagertha killed her abusive husband to become Earl of Hedeby… there are those that are not so happy about this and feel that she has usurped the title from it’s rightful inheritors. Is Hedeby truly hers? When it comes right down to it, no not really… some who she trusts well right now will seek to betray her and regain that title. But, that does not come into her thoughts on this journey because she does not know of this treachery, so why then does she choose to take this voyage with us when she should be content and happy with her new role as Earl? I believe she takes this journey because she ready for adventure. Her son is grown now, on his own, she has no ties or restrictions of Motherhood on her, she is a free woman for now. Though she knows she must probably marry again at some point for alliances she is not ready for that quite yet? She still yearns for the adventure. I do not believe it really has anything to do with thoughts of being with Ragnar again. She has a new life to embark on, and she would make the most of what ever comes her way.

kalf says I have nothing to offer   Let me be the judge of that kalf and lagertha

She does not know it but the treachery and betrayal will come from the one she trusts most at Hedeby…

Kalf puts up a convincing front if you kill an unarmed man then you really are a coward

So, she takes time to embark on this voyage with her family, such as it is… and she finds herself in a new situation with a new man who is infatuated with her!

Not a happy family trip It's such a fine day  I think I'll join you and show you your new land Lagertha is impressed at least a little

 

Ahhhhh and then there is our friend Torstein…. why is he so anxious and excited to go on this voyage that he can not wait for spring to arrive and would be willing to go in a snow storm if need be? Well, Torstein’s reason is a bit different than the others. While one would assume that his reason is that he can not wait to raid and fight, that is not his main reason for wanting our ships to sail so quickly?

torstein and his problems

As I did mention, it has been a long cold winter and Torstein spent it warming a few too many blankets? This should be a good lesson and reason to listen to those who preach moderation in all things, even sex!

two women carry my child

two women carry my child

Sometimes no one can believe just how ignorant Bjorn is of certain things  Is that possible

Sometimes no one can believe just how ignorant Bjorn is of certain things. He asks, “Is that possible?”

rollo's solution marry both of them take one as wife the other as concubine that will settle the matter

rollo’s solution marry both of them take one as wife the other as concubine that will settle the matter

 

or kill me

No that is not possible, they hate each other and both want to kill me!

Really, No one is so happy to see our boats finally as Torstein is!

thorstein can't wait for the boat to sail and take him with it away from his problems

problem one problem two

 

There are many others excited about this voyage as well. Usually, the voyages are looked on with some great sadness by much of the village as we must watch our men and our shield maidens leave for battles and fear for their safety until they return to us. This time is different though. This voyage will take many families across the sea to this new place of England. It is with much excitement, and yet a heavy heart that I will sail as well! I will go on this voyage to England to see Wessex, but I have promised Siggy that I will return to her. I would never think to so totally abandon her here in Kattegat and I feel immense sorrow that she would not join me in this journey.  I do understand, though, such as the way things are with her and Rollo for now.  It breaks my heart to leave her, but we have talked it over and it was she who suggested that I take this chance to travel. I think she will feel some better knowing that one of us is with Rollo, watching out for him?  Rollo was reluctant about my coming at first. He suggested that perhaps it would be best if I stayed here with Siggy? I know that while he refuses to admit it, he still cares for her and worries about her welfare.  I have made assurance to him that she will be fine, and it is better this way. She needs time and space from all of us for now. 

those left behind this time families went too to settle the promised land leaving for england

This is part one of a two part review. The next part will continue with our arrival in Wessex!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some early Saxon history: From Aethelwulf and descendants to Ivar the Boneless!

 

 

 

First of all, remember to fight/vote! Shirtless men are in an even race with Highland Warriors…

Now on to our history lesson for the night! You may recall that recently I sent a message to Athelstan urging him to tread cautiously and carefully in affairs of the heart where the Lady Judith, wife of Aethulwulf is concerned?

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/26/vikings-message-to-athelstan/

aethelwulf vikings2 judith vikings

more wooo but with who?

more wooo but with who?

Well, tonight’s history lesson has to do with descendants of Aethulwulf. If you remember, I did mention how important his descendants are in the future rule of England.  I just recently came across an interesting article and discovery about one of his descendants! It is a bit of old news but seeing as I just discovered it, some of you may also find it interesting as well?

Remains discovered in Germany confirmed as oldest confirmed British Royal, who died more than 1,000 years ago

Bones found in a German cathedral belong to the granddaughter of Saxon king Alfred the Great, experts confirmed today.  Body parts excavated in Magdeburg Cathedral in 2008 are those of Saxon princess Eadgyth, who died more than 1,000 years ago.  They are the oldest surviving remains of an English royal burial, according to experts at the University of Bristol who analysed the skeletal fragments to piece together a snapshot of the princess’s life.

640px-HerscherpaarMagdeburgCathedral Eadgyth and otto

Eadgyth was married off to Otto I, the Great, in AD 929 by her half brother Athelstan, who was the first king to rule all of England.   As wife of the king of Saxony, she lived most of her married life in Magdeburg, capital of Saxony-Anhalt, and had at least two children.  Eadgyth died in AD 946 aged about 36 and was buried in the monastery of St Maurice in Switzerland.  Her bones were moved at least three times before being finally interred in an elaborate tomb in Magdeburg Cathedral in 1510.

Edward

Two years ago, German archaeologists opened the tomb, expecting it to be empty.  To their surprise, they found it contained a lead box bearing the inscription ‘The remains of Queen Eadgyth are in this sarcophagus’.   When they opened the coffin they discovered bone fragments wrapped in silk.  It is thought some of the missing body parts, including hands and feet and much of the skull, were probably taken by medieval relic hunters.  An analysis of the remains by Professor Kurt Alt at the University of Mainz established they were those of a female who died aged between 30 and 40.  Professor Alt also found evidence that the woman was a frequent horse rider and ate a high protein diet with large amounts of fish, which suggested she had enjoyed an aristocratic lifestyle.

I find the article interesting from a scientific point of view even though I do question the need for opening up a coffin to examine the remains in order to prove exactly who the person was. If there was a sound reason for a more thorough and in depth examination, it might sit better with me? An example of a more sound reason to prove who ancient remains are would be in a case such as the controversy over skeletal remains which might or might not be connected to mystery of the Princes of the Tower. But, that is another story for another time!

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1287283/Remains-Saxon-princess-Eadgyth-oldest-British-Royal-discovered-Germany.html#ixzz3Qg4fjq4q
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I know you are thinking, Ohhh well an odd and interesting bit of information- but what does she have to do with Aethulwulf?

Well, if you follow along with my very brief genealogy lesson, you will see how she is related to our Aethelwulf… You know, the one who is turning more and more to a life of pious devotion to God? Oh, by the way, he passes this devotion down to future generations as well!

what goes on here 2

what goes on here 2

what on earth is going on here?

what on earth is going on here?

 

Eadgyth, or Edith was born to the reigning English king Edward the Elder by his second wife, Ælfflæd, and hence was granddaughter of Alfred the Great. Nothing is known of her until in order to seal an alliance between two Saxon kingdoms, her half-brother, King Athelstan of England, sent two of his sisters (Eadgyth and Eadgifu of Wessex) to Germany, instructing the Duke of Saxony (later Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor) to choose whichever one pleased him best. Otto chose Edith and married her in 930. The remaining sister Algiva or Adiva was married to a “king near the Jupiter mountains” (the Alps). The precise identity of the husband of this sister is debated.

In 936 King Henry I of Germany died and his eldest son, Eadgyth’s husband, was crowned at Aachen as King Otto I. There is a surviving report of the ceremony by Widukind of Corvey which makes no mention of his wife having been crowned at this point, but according to Thietmar of Merseburg‘s chronicle Eadgyth was nevertheless anointed as queen, albeit in a separate ceremony. As queen, Eadgyth undertook the usual state duties of “First lady”: when she turns up in the records it is generally in connection with gifts to the state’s favoured monasteries or memorials to holy women and saints. In this respect she seems to have been more diligent than her now widowed and subsequently sainted mother-in-law Queen Matilda whose own charitable activities only achieve a single recorded mention from the period of Eadgyth’s time as queen. There was probably rivalry between the Benedictine Monastery of St Maurice founded at Magdeburg by Otto and Eadgyth in 937, a year after coming to the throne and Matilda’s foundation at Quedlinburg Abbey, intended by her as a memorial to her husband, the late King Henry I.

Eadgyth accompanied her husband on his travels, though not during battles. She spent the hostilities of 939 at Lorsch Abbey

Like her brother, Athelstan, Edith was devoted to the cult of Saint Oswald and was instrumental in introducing this cult into Germany after her marriage to the emperor. Her lasting influence may have caused certain monasteries and churches in Saxony to be dedicated to this saint.

Eadgyth’s death at a relatively young age, in her early thirties, was unexpected.

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

Eadgyth was the granddaughter of one Alfred the Great, who was the son of Aethelwulf! 

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 nev 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.

During the short reigns of the older two of his three elder brothers, Æthelbald of Wessex and Æthelberht of Wessex, Alfred is not mentioned. An army of Danes which the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle described as the Great Heathen Army had landed in East Anglia with the intent of conquering the four kingdoms that constituted Anglo-Saxon England in 865.  It was with the backdrop of a rampaging Viking army that Alfred’s public life began, with the accession of his third brother, Æthelred of Wessex, in 866.

640px-England_Great_Army_map_svg

It is during this period that Bishop Asser applied to Alfred the unique title of “secundarius”, which may indicate a position akin to that of the Celtic tanist, a recognised successor closely associated with the reigning monarch. It is possible that this arrangement was sanctioned by Alfred’s father, or by the Witan, to guard against the danger of a disputed succession should Æthelred fall in battle. The arrangement of crowning a successor as royal prince and military commander is well known among other Germanic tribes, such as the Swedes and Franks, to whom the Anglo-Saxons were closely related.

Fighting the Viking invasion

In 868, Alfred is recorded as fighting beside Æthelred in an unsuccessful attempt to keep the Great Heathen Army led by Ivar the Boneless out of the adjoining Kingdom of Mercia.  At the end of 870, the Danes arrived in his homeland. The year which followed has been called “Alfred’s year of battles”. Nine engagements were fought with varying outcomes, though the place and date of two of these battles have not been recorded. Yes, if that Viking Heathen name sound familiar, you would be correct in having heard of it in our Viking Saga! Ivar the Boneless is one of the sons of Ragnar and Aslaug… You know, that poor infant that Aslaug warned Ragnar would be cursed, and the one that she as his Mother could not and would not leave to die.

In Berkshire, a successful skirmish at the Battle of Englefield on 31 December 870 was followed by a severe defeat at the siege and Battle of Reading by Ivar’s brother Halfdan Ragnarsson on 5 January 871. Four days later, the Anglo-Saxons won a brilliant victory at the Battle of Ashdown on the Berkshire Downs, possibly near Compton or Aldworth. Alfred is particularly credited with the success of this latter battle.

Later that month, on 22 January, the English were defeated at the Battle of Basing. They were defeated again on 22 March at the Battle of Merton (perhaps Marden in Wiltshire or Martin in Dorset). Æthelred died shortly afterwards on 23 April.

Alfred eventually went on to defeat the Dane Vikings and unite much of England under one rule.

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

Statue_of_King_Alfred_in_Wantage_Market_Square Alfred the Great 1024px-Southwark_Bridge_City_Plaque 1024px-A_Chronicle_of_England_-_Page_057_-_Alfred_Plans_the_Capture_of_the_Danish_Fleet

Seeing as Ivar the boneless was mentioned in connection with Alfred’s history, I feel it important to include a bit of history on him as he is one of Ragnar’s sons!

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

aslaug pregnant as usual Aslaug and Ragnar with Ivar

Ivar the boneless

Ivar was one of the leaders of the Great Heathen Army which invaded the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of East Anglia in 865.  According to the Norse sagas this invasion was organised by the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok, of whom Ivar was one, to wreak revenge against Ælla of Northumbria. Ælla had supposedly executed Ragnar in 865 by throwing him in a snake pit, but the historicity of this explanation is unknown. The invaders are usually identified as Danes, although the tenth-century churchman Asser stated in Latin that the invaders came “de Danubia”, which translates into English as “from the Danube“, the fact that the Danube is located in what was known in Latin as Dacia suggests that Asser may have actually intended Dania, a Latin term for Denmark.

the snake pit

King Aelle’s snake pit!

 

The Great Heathen Army landed in East Anglia in the autumn of 865, where they remained over the winter and secured horses for their later efforts.  The following year the army headed north and invaded Northumbria, which was in the midst of a civil war between Ælla and Osberht, warring claimants for the Northumbrian throne.  Late in 866 the army conquered the rich Northumbrian settlement of York.   The following year Ælla and Osberht put their differences aside, and teamed up to retake the town. The attempt was a disaster and both of them lost their lives.  According to legend, Ælla was captured alive, but was executed by Ivar and his brothers using the blood eagle, a method of execution whereby the ribcage is opened from behind and the lungs are pulled out, forming a wing-like shape.  With no obvious leader, Northumbrian resistance was crushed and the Danes installed a puppet-king, Ecgberht, to rule in their name and collect taxes for their army.

Later in the year the Army moved south and invaded the kingdom of Mercia, capturing the town of Nottingham, where they spent the winter.  The Mercian king, Burghred, responded by allying with the West Saxon king Æthelred, and with a combined force they laid siege to the town. The Anglo-Saxons were unable to recapture the city, but a truce was agreed whereby the Danes would withdraw to York. The Great Heathen Army remained in York for over a year, gathering its strength for further assaults.

The Danes returned to East Anglia in 869, this time intent on conquest. They seized Thetford, with the intention of remaining there over winter, but they were confronted by an East Anglian army.[13] The East Anglian army was defeated and their king, Edmund, was slain.  Medieval tradition identifies Edmund as a martyr who refused the Danes’ demand to renounce Christ, and was killed for his steadfast Christianity.  Ivar and Ubba are identified as the commanders of the Danes, and the killers of Edmund.  How true the later accounts of Edmund’s death are is unknown, but it has been suggested that his capture and execution is not an unlikely thing to have happened.

Following the conquest of East Anglia Ivar apparently left the Great Heathen Army – his name disappears from English records after 870.

 

 

Scandinavian sources for Ivar Boneless

According to the saga of Ragnar Lodbrok, Ivar Boneless was the eldest son of Ragnar and Aslaug. It is said he was fair, big, strong, and one of the wisest men who had ever lived. He was consequently the advisor of his brothers Björn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Hvitserk.

The story has it that when king Ælla of Northumbria had murdered their father, by throwing Ragnar into a snake-pit, Ivar’s brothers tried to avenge their father but were beaten. Ivar then went to king Ælla and sought reconciliation. He only asked for as much land as he could cover with an ox’s hide and swore never to wage war against Ælla. Then Ivar cut the ox’s hide into so fine strands that he could envelope a large fortress (in an older saga it was York and according to a younger saga it was London) which he could take as his own. (Compare the similar legendary ploy of Dido.)

Right after the messenger of king Ælla delivered the message that Ragnar had died to Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, Sigurd Snake-eye, and Hvitserk, Ivar said: “I will not take part in or gather men for that, because Ragnar met with the fate I anticipated. His cause was bad; he had no reason to fight against King Ella, and it has often happened that when a man wanted to be overbearing and wrong others it has been the worst for him; I will take wergild from King Ella if he will give it”.[24]

As Ivar was the most generous of men, he attracted a great many warriors, whom he subsequently kept from Ælla when Ælla was attacked again by Ivar’s brothers. Ælla was captured, and when the brothers were to decide how to give Ælla his just punishment, Ivar suggested that they carve the “blood eagle” on his back. According to popular belief, this meant that Ælla’s back was cut open, the ribs pulled from his spine, and his lungs pulled out to form “wings.”

In Ragnar Lodbrok’s saga, there is an interesting prequel to the Battle of Hastings: it is told that before Ivar died in England, he ordered that his body was to be buried in a mound on the English Shore, saying that so long as his bones guarded that section of the coast, no enemy could invade there successfully. This prophecy held true, says the saga, until “when Vilhjalm bastard (William the Conqueror) came ashore[,] he went [to the burial site] and broke Ivar’s mound and saw that [Ivar’s] body had not decayed. Then [Vilhjalm] had a large pyre made [upon which Ivar’s body was] burned… Thereupon, Vilhjalm proceeded with the landing invasion and achieved] the victory.  What is interesting about this particular legend is if you look at the ancestry of William the Conqueror, you find that he was descended from the Viking, Rollo…  Ivar sets forth a prophecy or curse that no “enemy” would invade that coast successfully, but if William’s ancestry is taken into account, he would not necessarily be an enemy, would he? But, more of a distant descendant!

Explanation for Ivar’s nickname:

There is some disagreement as to the meaning of Ivar’s epithet “the Boneless” (inn Beinlausi) in the sagas. Some have suggested it was a euphemism for impotence or even a snake metaphor (he had a brother named Snake-in-the-Eye). It may have referred to an incredible physical flexibility; Ivar was a renowned warrior, and perhaps this limberness gave rise to the popular notion that he was “boneless”. The poem “Háttalykill inn forni” describes Ivar as being “without any bones at all”.

Alternatively, the English word “bone” is cognate with the German word “Bein”, meaning “leg”. Scandinavian sources mention Ivar the Boneless as being borne on a shield by his warriors. Some have speculated that this was because he could not walk and perhaps his epithet simply meant “legless”—perhaps literally or perhaps simply because he was lame. Other sources from this period, however, mention chieftains being carried on the shields of enemies after victory, not because of any infirmity.

John Haywood put forth another hypothesis from the origin of Ivar’s nickname:  the nickname, in use by the 1140s, may be derived from a 9th-century story about a sacrilegious Viking whose bones shriveled and caused his death after he plundered the monastery of Saint- Germain near Paris.

Genetic disease

Still another interpretation of the nickname involves Scandinavian sources as describing a condition that is sometimes understood as similar to a form of osteogenesis imperfecta. The disease is more commonly known as “brittle bone disease.” In 1949, the Dane Knud Seedorf wrote:

Of historical personages the author knows of only one of whom we have a vague suspicion that he suffered from osteogenesis imperfecta, namely Ivar Benløs, eldest son of the Danish legendary king Regnar Lodbrog. He is reported to have had legs as soft as cartilage (‘he lacked bones’), so that he was unable to walk and had to be carried about on a shield.

There are less extreme forms of this disease where the person afflicted lacks the use of his or her legs but is otherwise unaffected, as may have been the case for Ivar the Boneless. In 2003 Nabil Shaban, a disability rights advocate with osteogenesis imperfecta, made the documentary The Strangest Viking for Channel 4‘s Secret History, in which he explored the possibility that Ivar the Boneless may have had the same condition as himself. It also demonstrated that someone with the condition was quite capable of using a longbow, such that Ivar could have taken part in battle, as Viking society would have expected a leader to do.

 

That concludes our history lesson for the night, from Aethelwulf and his descendants to Ivar the Boneless and how they’re all a part of early Saxon history!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

We win, we have the heads to prove it!

We win, we have the heads to prove it!

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

ships in the mist

ships in the mist

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

 

The early days of Rollo

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

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

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

rollo's glory

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

Vikings Saga: Early days, The Wrath

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Floki sit down remember you can't swim

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

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

Lindisfarne793 northumbria modified rl 2

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lindisfarne-ep2

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

a storm is coming to lindisfarne

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

Monks pray for salvation

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

an unseen storm in the mist

the storm arrives

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

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

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

 

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

Ragnar puzzled and a little disappointed at the reception

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

The Vikings were expecting at least some sort of fight

Not much of a fight

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

Treasure found right out in the open

Treasure found right out in the open

No women, no mead, no worthy fight 

their god's treasure

their god’s treasure

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

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

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

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

 

An even stranger treasure a book

An even stranger treasure a book

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

and the treasure speaks their language

and the treasure speaks their language

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

of all the treasures here you chose to save this  Why

of all the treasures here you chose to save this Why

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

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

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

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

Ragnar with his treasure athelstan

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

Lindisfarne_Gospels luke

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

lindesfarne gospels Matthew

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

Lindisfarne_Gospels John

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

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

 

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