Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Part 12: Canute's Family

Beseechment And Betrayal

From that 1035 to well 1037, Harold Harefoot ruled as regent while King Harthacnut was stayed abroad in Denmark, putting down a vile rebellion of Norwegian heathens there. The pagans of the Norselands had unseated venerable, plain Ælfgifu and had driven she and Swein away to Copenhagen then.

Now Harefoot had no love for Emma, who was not his blood nor kin. So Emma fled to Flanders, in between her Harthacnut in Denmark and her family in exile at the court in Normandy. She wrote a letter begging Harthacnut to take the throne again, that rightly his, but he were then reluctant to depart from Danish lands, for had he then a rival: Magnus, who though he hailed from Norway, was a pet of some the mercantiles in Denmark, and would gladly cede the power of the throne to them, if ever he would get the thing.

This letter falling in its task, then Emma wrote again: to Edmund and the younger man. She begged of them in turn to seek the Anglish throne.  And so they did, these young and heady men; the younger of the two not yet reached up to fifteen years.

Earl Godwin, who supported Harthacnut, met up their ship upon it’s sighting. His men beset upon the princes, taking captive Ælfred and then blinding him! Godwin then delivered Ælfred unto Harold Harefoot in Westminster, where the lad was murdered. Edmund fled to Normandy. Whether Godwin were in Harefoot’s hand while taking up this loathesome dree, or whether he were of his own foul innard mien, we do not know.  Godwin had so changed allegiances from Harthanut, the absent king, to Harefoot, there in Anglish sway’n. But howsoever this turn came about, be it bare-nebbed swotel[1] that our Norman Edward now demanded satisfaction at Earl Godwin’s throught!

Harefoot’s reign was good and blessed with goodness all about the realm, but sadly short. He fell into sickened fugue the fall of ’39, and so the nobles of the realm sent emissary off to Harthacnut to bid him come take the throne, in decretum[2] whascht they shone. Harefoot died the seventeenth of March the year succeeding, ere in 10 and 40.

Emma, England’s Mum

This did vex his mother, Emma, eft in Bruges, upverily, and she did correspond with Harthacnut to scheme to then take Harefoot out! Harthacnut was horrified his dear heart brother-half, his Harefoot, had their brother killed. But also did he know the nobles of the Anglish did disfavor him, for they so favored Harefoot and his rule, and so he took no chances of an expedition crule.

In ten and forty, Harold Harefoot died. Harthacnut arrived on English shores, but came as conqueror and not as slaughter-offering. Landed he with Emma Mum at Sandwich, seven days before Midsummer’s tongue. Marched then he his army rightthrough Canterbury, on his way to London go. T’Westminster, straight he went, and had he Harefoot’s body disinterred, and then did publicly behead! Then did Emma and her son dispose of him into a sewer drain.

His body floated out into the River Thames, and was recovered by a shipping main right then. These men were loyal and belovèd of their monarch, Harold Harefoot. Had these men his body buried in a churchyard once again at their expense. His body lies there still, but headless, for no man dost know whereat his head had went.

Then did Harthacnut return to Canterbury for his coronation that same month. Queen Mother Emma was then in attendance there before the third king in her ken-tree. They were vindicated. But their vengeance was not yet then sated.

Emma charged the Wessex Earl named Godwin with the kidnapping and transfer of her Ælfred. He stood trial up before the council of the Witan, and the judge was Harthacnut. Godwin brought forth witnesses to shew he was duressed and had no choice but then to act upon the order of the King. In any case, he paid to Harthacnut the wergild of a mighty sailing ship, and was allowed to live. Also, Emma charged the Bishop Lyfing, sat at Worcester, of dissembling. She stripped him of his see, but when he made amends, he  was restored in ’41 again.

Harthacnut, with aid from mother Emma, swiftly drew unto himself the reins of mootcraft and of war above this pretty island hæme. And also did Queen Emma bring another son, her Edward, to partake in rulership alongside Harthacnut.  Some may say that Emma had a hand in ellencraft, above this Edward and above this Harthacnut. However was it there within the Thorny Isle[3] of Westminster, this dual kingship lived and died like Mayflies do: Harthacnut passed on in Autumntime of ’42. Anon, another rift dynastic would then it emerge.

Edward now had not an Anglo-Saxon ally to abey ambitions of those men who sought his head and crown which on it lay. He turned to that most powerful of men; the man upon whose shoulders rested, vested great authority; the man who led this island’s military; the man who Edward had besworn he’d take revenge upon: Godwin of the House of Mercia, Earl of Wessex born! Edward promised Godwin safe and weal and friendship and a part of rulership as well. Godwin gave the king his daughter, Edith, as his wife to be. Mercia so established as a claimant to the throne in future years, Edward made up Godwin two of Godwin’s sons into new Earls: Sweyn and Harold Godwinson. Now Godwin had a half of pretty England dear, and Edward kept the other half to near. These two men would be as co-kings, just as Edward and his brother Harthacnut had been.

Now as power had consolidated in his hand, Emma’s son, this Edward the Confessor, was crowned in that year of 1042.

With the combination of the Norman Edward’s army from the Continent, and Godwin’s greater force of Knights of Anglo-Saxon bent, no Scots or Welsh upon the marches threatened much the inland Anglish men, and people in the country paused and well rejoiced again.

Edward was a peaceful, pious man of letters; had he even the great love for brotherhood that he forgave this Godwin for the murder of his blood. Godwin, though, was tempered like a stove-iron, hard and hot, and wore his passion on his blazoned breast. This partnership, for Anglestead, seemed to all for the best. And so it was ‘til Michaelmas in ’65.

[1] Obvious and plain
[2] By their decree.
[3] In the 11th century, Westminster sat upon an island in the Thames which has subsequently silted up to the mainland.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Part 11: Harefoot and Harthacnut

Peace and Brotherhood

Harthacnut made peace and brotherhood with ere his father’s other sons. Aptness came to him through Emma and Canute in weal and equal parts. So sprought a scheme, this Harthacnut, to well protect his birthright fairly given, but unfairly taken from those brothers of his half. In ways to keep the grimness of foul envy of a brother ‘gainst his brother, Harthacnut gave stewardship of Anglish woes to his half-brother he deposed, whose name be Harold Harefoot now. There sat Harold Harefoot up upon the throne in savvy Harthacnut’s wære stead, and busy would he fill in mootcraft wrought about the aitland[1] thed. So had he Swein, by half of blood, be at his flank up on the Norse, and Harefoot to the paltry west in English throes, but weal in course.

Some say though he loved his brothers eft by half, and gave them each the best he had. A clever family: ruled they hap above most Viking shores.

Unrest on the Island

The Witan back in England wrought the turn what’s following. They well preferred this Harefoot and his manner eft above the king who, absent, did not earn their loyalty. Quickly, Harefoot, would he issue orders based upon the banter of his men. When paraverunt duces locales advised the regent resident, he harkened well and many times would do what they suggested then. Also was he excellent at sport, and fleet of foot, from which they got his nickname Harefoot from. Thencewhen, all the Witan a Gemot met when, and made this Regent of the highest chair unto a chieftain King, for they were mighty irritated by the absent king who wouldn’t come to live among his people, Harthacnut, called in this land Cnute III.

Lo call this back unto your brain: Edward and his brother Ælfred, they of Emma, were they elevated; Swein and Harefoot, they Ælfgifu’s, deprecated. But above both pairs of boys was situated Harthacnut in great Canute’s own voy.

Each of Harthacnut, the favored of the former well-loved king, and Harefoot, he beloved too and there in situ home, had martial allies that could nary be dismissed. There were two Earls: Leofric of Mercia supported claim of Harold Harefoot; and then Godwin, he of Wessex, who supported Harthacnut.

During this uncertain time, when no-one could predict who might find upper hand, the priest of Canterbury, Æthelnoth, refused to crown the regent, Harefoot, over Harthacnut. In ’37, finally, he did relent, as all the Witan men declared to him this Harefoot would be king, and they would find a priest to do it if this Æthelnoth would well decline.

Harefoot had now machinants to wright his scheme to sire those to rule this land. He begged his Norman brothers-half to cross the Channel and to break some bread with him, and feast. All would be put past and would they make together plans dynastic, some for each. So withacht their father’s reckless game it would be Harefoot’s throne aswain! After though, this Harefoot king be raised up by the Witan to the station he would right assume by right Divine upon right island nation’s mains!

[1] Kingdom, land or homeland

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

10: Queen Emma

Upon which the fates will turn in two generations with the Battle of Hastings.

King with two Queens

When Ironside escaped the bonds of Earth some later in that year of 1016, perhaps October then, Dear Albion was ever Danish property in full thereafter seen. The story turns withacht now, ‘pon Canute the Great’s sweet heart’s allegiance to his second wife.

Because Canute had no love for his Saxon strife, he placed Ælfgifu out in stewardship about the marches of the Baltic coast; as far away Canute could send the nagsome shoat,[1] this might. However, strange dost God upon we mortals work. Upon a visit to the Baltic château there, Canute then sired ‘pon her one more issue: Harold, (later Harold Harefoot,) second son of Great Canute and Ælfgifu the Plain. This was 1016.

Presently thereon, the bards do tell us he forsook this bride and left her for another.           

Queen to two Kings

In that same year of 1016, whence impassioned army of King Æthelred of England drove the Danes to impasse ‘cross the Channel, he then passed, this island King, into the fawnèd-colored past. He gravely bloodlessly deceased, sconced in his bed. His widow then was formidable Emma, Royal Consort of the Crown. A leader in the art and homecraft of the Anglishfolk, as well as statecraft was this queen, and well her subjects liked her for her wit and love for them refrained. After great Cnute assembled England’s crown by valor grown (at Assandun, in mid-October, 1016,) Emma made a diplomatic sortie from her Norman home to visit thereupon His Majesty’s new throne. There they dined, and well and truly fell in love. He made her Queen of England properly before the year of 1018 was out. This woman, did he love with chivalry. So smited was he by yon Cupid, he renounced the birthright of his first-born son and second, and then elevated Emma’s issue to the place of geniture! They issued forth a heritor. His name was Harthacnut (say, Cnutesson or A-Half-A-Cnut), but also did the people call him by Canute, for loved they well his ancient sire.

Emma’s brood, the children Edward and his brother Ælfred, left in Normandy. Perhaps they felt some discord with their mother off across the Bay of Brittany? For they felt their lineage enough to claim the throne of Denmark and perhaps the whole the North Sea Empire. But truly Emma favored well these boys for keeping them apart from England’s heart. Those other lines, of Edmund and that Harthacnut, would surely tear them from the mortal fake in such a time should on to Westminster they dare to trake.  So Normandy they stayed.

Canute the Great did die in ’35 at Shaftsbury in Dorset, whilst he wrought a newly listcraft for the order of the Bishoprics of his new island realm. Thus it was no longer safe for Emma there. She went to exile in Bruges to save her fate. Farewell, our pretty Queen!

But in between, her first-born, Harthacnut, did bind himself to Copenhagen as ruler of the Jutes, and made he mootmanship[2] with burghers and the mercantiles there. Contended Harthacnut with Sweden ere at war of naval ken, and well his stalk and taw[3] and ellencraft[4] made good defense for Denmark lend. Mark here which the former king, he called Canute the Great, did raise his boy to primate rank and place upon the heightened ruler-seat his name.

[1] A fattened yearling hog
[2] Domestic politics.
[3] Stalk and taw: harassment, as in guerilla warfare.
[4] Heroism; heroic deeds.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Part 9: Canute and Ælfgifu

The Fate of Ironside

Edmund Ironside faced great Canute alone. Edmund proved an able general. Four times did Danes lay force to England’s shores; four times did Edmund’s lesser-numbered men turn them away. But then, as Fates bewove, at Assadun, Canute broke through and routed Edmund’s men.

This is how Canute did best old Ironside. Bards of England’s side tell grim dissemblement of Cnute’s foul raiders on that day in Assandun.[1] Bishop Eadnoth Younger, he of Dorchester, were up and slain by men of Danish March, whilst he perpetrated, ere, the act of saying mass, for Edmund and his hearty men! Eadnoth’s hand was first boned for a ring, and then his body cut to pieces whilst he lived and breathed. So Edmund and his doughty fighting-men were forced to battle then without the blessing of the Lord to hold them fast, for never did the blessing they receive! The Danes called Anglish Bishops heathen men, whilst Englishmen swore up that oath, the same, upon the brows of Danish clergy’s skein.

And who of men so great’s the folly say? It seems that God had Him the better office on the Continental wære, for Denmark’s flourish overwhelmed the Anglish players there.

Deposèd from the throne was England’s king! Edmund fled the field and took up residence in his ancestral home of paltry Wessex, and Canute took all the greater part this, the Anglestead.

And so Canute the Great, the Prince of Denmark’s shores, so won the throne of England through diplomacy of steel and blood and guile and bone. By sword-craft wrought he swift enconquerment of Albion; gay little shirt-tail cousin[2] realm of comely Albion. ‘Twas brutal culmination of his fore-kin’s centuries of pillage ‘gainst these Anglish shores.

Edmund fled to Wessex, to his family possessions in that petty kingdom there. Due to Edmund’s skill upon the fields of valor won, the Danes left Edmund there to live instead of sacking Cerdacingas lands. Edmund died, no less, within a score of weeks, from cold and damp. And only then did great Canute seize Wessex, and so knit all England there beneath him.

In 1018, Canute the Great ascended to the Danish throne at last. He was their gerent and their king. The crowns of Danish March and Albion were then united on his brow. Canute, he khabuthon[3] of Danes; commander of the mercantile forces; font of sovereignty at fore; and fulcrum to shift fate of Firmament at this, the turning point, in Dane and English lore.

Canute then ruled above the Danes and Anglo-Saxons too. And also for a time did Cnute rule Norway, making up a North Sea Empire true.

Statecraft of Canute the Great

And how did this great king keep all these holdings dear to him? Through statecraft; for he was as wise in peace as was at war. Canute accepted Christianity some time earlier within that last decade to better mark his people home in Denmark and abroad in English skein. The churches that his army sacked, he had rebuilt through Danish silver paid to Saxon hands. And also he established holy days to honor Edmund and his father, Æthelred, upon the anniversaries their deaths to show his sympathy for these near defeated men.

Canute united Dane and English under his strong governance. He then proceedeth strengthening their sibling bonds; ministering to the Angle’s land with vigor and good counsel. When the nobles of the island fawned upon him and paid homage, Great Canute rebuked them in their folly, for he had no vanity.

He bade them, “Marry, treat me as your liege. But pray, no badinage do pay to me. Your needling, mewling parody dost sour me’s the milk of your good counsel, which doth nourish of a newly king.”

Dominion lent the Danish licensenture the maritimes of Ireland-and-England-in-between. Danish granditure[4] and commerce brought to all the islands of Britannia; to the Gaelic Norse upon the Emerald Isle. Further, Diocesian capture of the Bishoprics between then Ireland and Bremen Town in Germany led to Danish domination over Rome in broad expanse. The Danish clergymen negotiated with the Pope for favorable tribute rates and goodly prices on necessities of ministry. And Great Canute controlled the roads to Rome within his purview, and did by toll of pilgrims overfill his coffers full.

His power and his wisdom managerial he used to knit the British Isles to the Jute’s peninsula. And did he raid against the Norse in Norway and in Sweden then.

The peoples of Northumberland, Five Boroughs, Middlefolk and Anglia descended eld from Angles, Saxons, and some Scandinavians. Three centuries of raiding from the Vikings on these coasts to the Northeast enblended the enpeoplement to pleasant, warm degree. These peoples honored all their ancestors as such, and thus had in them love for great Canute as one of them, their own.  The peoples of Wessex, Kent and Mercia had nary Scandinavian within their lineage, and were they more suspicious of a foreign king; especially the Cerdic[5] men of Wessex. Canute’s wise deference to English history, as well as peace he brought throughout the land (in contrast with the prior reign) won over all these men in short eventuality to honor him as well they would an Anglo-Saxon king.

Great Canute was welcoming to English knights into the ranks of houseguards, the elite of Danish and Norwegian warriors, if only in small numbers. Learnt they of each other’s ways and so achieved good discipline and comity between them. Thus, the upper crust of Denmark and of Anglestead were further knit through feudal and through martial obligation. Through to this latter day, the knights of England keep the way and armor of the houseguard of the Danes. Should ever there a battle come to England’s shores again, these knights attend, and shew the Danish ways.

Canute ensured the safety of the English from the raids of Viking men, for he controlled the greater part of them. Also did he split the country four ways, into Earldoms: Wessex, Merciaside, Northumberland, and then East Anglia.

Swein, his issue primate from his early wife Ælfgifu, he appointed up to serve as ruler over Norway in 1026. An afterthought. Put he plain Ælfgifu there in charge as well for she had shown the wit of men she paced ere in the East, and granted to her powers of a King; a Steward of the land she was to be. Swein, the son, he aged twelve, was regent. Ælfgifu, the head of state. In ’28, their conquest over Norway was complete (although dependent on the Jarls of Lade as well you may remember say’d.)

In sidewise, let us mark that Sweyn’s harsh rule upon this Norway and the Ladesmen in particular was marked by harsh taxation, as the skalds of that grim time do say:

Ælfgifu's time
long will the young man remember,
when they at home ate ox's food,
and like the goats, ate rind.[6]

[1] An English town. It is unknown exactly where it lay; likely in Essex, Northeast of London.
[2] Shirt-tail cousin: relative by custom, not blood.
[3] Primitive Germanic for “top of the body” or “top of a slope;” also “chieftain.” In Old Norse, the word is hofuð.
[4] Hegemony.
[5] The ruling family of Wessex was the Cerdicingas clan.
[6] A verse by her Icelandic contemporary, Sigvatr Þórðarso.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Part 8: Invasion

Danish Invasion

By fortune foul upon the land, one Danish dam who tasted Anglish steel was sister to King Swein. For this, the noble culling of his dearly sister kin, Swein Forkbeard then declared revenge upon our Æthelred.

By 1011, fifteen Shires had been laid to waste by Forkbeard’s wrath. In anno domini 1012, Swein Forkbeard looted Canterbury’s great Cathedral. The Archbishop then was put to death. Swein had conquered up one part in four of all of pretty England then!

Viking warriors returned with every Spring and Summer season, well demanding Dane-geld in increasing sums from Æthelred, despite his smaller part of Angle’s land he ruled thenover. In the year of 1013, Swein demanded Dane-geld, wrought from sterling silver bullion, weighing in at three score eighteen long tonnes: all the silver could they carry then away in their flotilla. And King Æthelred? He paid.

In 1014, Swein Forkbeard laid his claim to England’s realm in its entirety! Æthelred fled to the Continent, to Normandy, and stayed he there in exile for a time, for Swein’s enconquerment would surely put his family to the blade.

The people of the Northlands here in England pledged their loyalty to Swein. They were in some part children of the Norse and Danish realm, and Swein did please them with his vigor over Æthelred’s weak wane. Swein so married up his son named Canute to Ælfgifu,[1] a daughter of an Ealdorman of York. Cnut did not care well for Ælfgifu, but upon her sired up a son named for his father: Sweyn, he known as Knutsson, who would take the throne of Norway in his time.

But God was with the Anglish men just then, as five short weeks abast, Swein Forkbeard died and breathed his last! His son, Canute, was left as mewling king, without the loyalty of any of Swein’s men to keep him there enthroned in England’s seat.

Æthelred called to him Norman allies to his dismal banneret and led a desperate counter back to England’s throne, and took it from Swein Forkbeard’s brat. Æthelred might had a chance to end the thing upon that fateful charge, but Cnut forsook his men and even then his family, and fled across the Channel back to Danesmarch, thought he never to look back.

Æthelred, enblooded by some better Norman counsel at this time, took fort to his position, finally. His family’s men tracked down each nobleman of Anglo-Saxon blood who sided with the Danes. Two Thegns of Darbyshire, north side the Trent in Mercia were put to sword and their possessions seized. Edmund Ironside, the first son of King Æthelred took one Thegn’s wife to cleave unto his breast – a bride from war was now his own. This victory engendered hunger from the scion then for more. Avarice awakened breeds ambition and a lust for blood and goodly treasures. Foolish youth when bred with these partake in deadly measures.

So then in that 1014, King Æthelred was crowned again. But faced he new resistance from his own so mentioned son, this Edmund Ironside. Edmund knew his father would be feckless once again in face of Danish and Norwegian Viking forays to his pretty realm, and wanted Edmund dearly for this land of his defend. He loved this England and her people more than he so loved his sire, Æthelred. Also, did he seek to rule and make the oversight and lawmoot[2] o’er this land, and well inspan[3] the Treasury within his grasping hand.

Wessex Divided

This budding civil war made place for young Canute, enriched through Denmark’s plundering of England through the bloody seasons seen, a chance to bring invasion, marking Wessex House’s leat.[4] A house divided, Wessex was it, girding up for civil war ‘tween Edmund and old Æthelred. And so Canute made easy work of hewing blood from bone. This was the year of 1015.

Before much longer then in 1016, old Æthelred received his life’s reward. He died; perhaps of some base malady, or mayhap from a poisoned blade. No one knows for sure except our Father in the golden realm, else also the dead king himself, because the runeline[5] shews but naught.

[1] Ælfgifu means literally “elf’s gift.”
[2] Governance.
[3] Harness.
[4] Ditch or cut in the land; in this case: a schism in Wessex.
[5] Inscription, as on a monument or gravestone.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

20 July 1969-2019

I am flying eastbound across America at 36,000 feet exactly 50 years after Neil and Buzz we’re performing the very first lunar EVA.

...and telling you all across the world using my hand-held global computer network interface. Wirelessly.

This is the age of true magic.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Wizards HQ

This was so fun! I’m in Washington State this week on vacation and I got to stop at Wizards HQ in Renton. It’s just an office building. No elves or planeswalkers live there. There are no tours. But I did get photos

My daughter (after I cast Enlarge Person on her.)

Maybe some day with luck and a little bit of magic, Wizards HQ will be as famous as Treasure Hunters HQ.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Part 7: Saxon England

I'm going on vacation for a week and won't be posting at all. Here's a longer installment for you to pore over if you like.

In Times Past

To gather us up kenship, whyfore in 1066 each of three kings’ claims upon the throne of pretty England lay, let cast us back to eldentime and also mark the structure of the throne and England’s goodly kine.

The structure of the Realm in Anglo-Saxon time placed king above all others hierarchical. The King Himself ruled over all Estates: the Clergy, the Nobility, and then of course the Peasantry. While drawn from ranks of Nobles, kings are sovereign: they be subject naught to stricture of our three Estates.  The Monarch doth insist upon itself from long Antiquity, and not from any other Law or Rule; and therefore kings be subject to no other power there within their Realm (but, likened up to other Men, perhaps to God, who sees the Truth, but waits.)

Below the king are three Estates as you know well. They are like so:

The leader of the First Estate, we call him the Archbishop.  Perches he within the pretty little Church at Canterbury. Under this, the Bishops and the Priests, the abbot and the abby-matroness, the nuns and monks, and laymen of the Church abide his counsel, be it foolish or it wise.

The Second of our three Estates be led here in this Saxon’s land by patriarchs of families be they four. They are called Earls and each rules up above a realm we call an Earldom. Each these Earls hath several Thegns, who mind the lands of Earls and sometimes hold some lands themselves by royal-granted charter.  Thegns then manage Bailiffs, Shire Reeves and Ealdormen, who they themselves administer demesnes of lesser bigness still.

Then the Third Estate; the swiveful,[1] shendful[2] hogs and shrews upon the Earth, who plough and rend and rise our succulence from up the ground and bring to us our food. Mouthbreathing whilst alive, beowing up their lives to better men; and then with dull irregularity, they die.

Even at this time, there were some Freemen left about: skilled craftswrights and some owlers[3] out withacht their rookeries with liberties betrothed by keenest skill. Also bad there cities, which by royal charter or historical tradition, had they some self-sovereignty.

During these gay eldentimes of weal, that Island Realm of Anglestad were stout and nigh-unshakable. Kings would mint the coin for all to trade. Upon the Spring of every year in five, the king would call to him from every corner of the Realm these precious coins, and mint from them again new coins for every man to use. And as he did this thing, his Chequerman would minister the levy with precision on the sundry population for to fund the mightful nation.

But marry up: this stable and nigh-wealful hierearchy wrought this Anglish wære, this Island, ere to men who seek enrichment by their sword-craft, well a valued destination!

Unready King

The year examined now is that 978. Æthelred II rose he up unto the throne of Saxon realm from on the House of Wessex in the south-by-west. He married up a maid named Emma, she of Normandy; the daughter of the Duke of Upper Normandy, aunthouð.[4] Issued they together several children. Of these kids, the boys they Christened Edmund, Edward and then Ælfred. All of these had in them a direct blood claim to England’s throne and to the throne of Wessex: that the petty kingdom wrought with valor on this Island; there enpeopled by the knights and freemen who had fought the Vikings off a century before.

The Men and Ladies there at Court who served this Æthelred direct spoke beskimpingly[5] of him, their words inhewed with dere.[6] Callow, youthful, green and flawed was Æthelred by all accounts!  Judged he others’ character with stupidness, and acted he with overhaste. History remembers Æthelred as The Unready (though was never called he this whilst still he stood instate.)

What means this, Æthelred, in the Old Anglish moot? It means the phrase “wise council” or, say, “noble council,” forso wisdom is ennobling. And Unræd, what means this and so? Unræd means “he, poorly counseled” or “he, poorly was prepared.” So let the whole be both an apt entitlement but also played by silver-tonguèd bard: “Wise Council, Poorly Counseled” doth the whole of this name say!

He failed to deal with Viking raids against his Eastern shores. These forays, were they not so base as merely for the plunder, but coordinated assaults from armies regular. These armies were they general’d in the main by Olaf, King of Norway; and Swein Forkbeard, King of Danes. But rather use his stable levy coin to fortify and fight, King Æthelred chose foolishly to pay these brutes to yield. Since these stern Vikings were the Danes, the money he so paid was known as Dane-geld, and the name of it persists to modern days.

In one the years at raiding-time, King Æthelred set back his treasury to well insure the service of some Viking men to fight for England’s side: these mercenary men! They well betrayed our kingdom as these craven men might do. So Æthelred declared the penalty of death across our land upon each Danish head that rested here. This were in anno domini 1010. Aghastly were the slaughter.

[1] Consumed by sex and sexuality.
[2] Untrustworthy.
[3] Traveling merchant or smuggler.
[4] Ansooth: Truthfully.
[5] Insultingly.
[6] Derision.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Part 6: Exile and Sojourn


Harald grew like Yggdrasil in these good seasons there at court and then away at war. And took he interest in strengthening the bonds between his homeland and this land of Yaroslav’s. Yaroslav’s young daughter, Elisiv, was but a darling bud of nine upon the year of ‘34, and nary fit for marriage would she be. However, Harald courted her as courtiers would do, to woo the princess for her pretty blossom-time, when seasons come for kneeling fools, and rings, and babes in Spring. They cloistered up in courtyard, walked they by the compass, hand in hand through curtilage of castle court. Counseled up his cortege to them dote upon her like her ladies waiting, but for him report. Homage did he pay, and fair he gifted her to sway. He always did her keep him company when he at court, and wrote her little pretties and sent gifts back to her while he were abroad. Bench and bar did she attend and think upon him, and ere they heady were her thoughts of him, as she approachethed turning ten. So finally, whenceupon her birthday anniverse, he knelt and begged her hand, and did she well agree! So trothed were Harald Sigurdsson Hardrade, and Elisiv, she of Kiev!

She would not fit to marriage though, for still within her pretty dotage and her childhood would shew. Harald went he on campaign and well again took up his men, and this time went to Byzantine. And this were ’34.

For four years Harald learned the ways of Russian war. He was a goodly student. Also did he learn the Eastern forms of Christianity and knew then of their struggle ‘gainst the Turks. By anno domini 1034, Harald earned the rank of Captain, even though he had not learned the Slavic tongue. Communicated he unto his troops by whistle and by semaphore. This was the custom of the Russian southlands where a myriad of peoples were united for the purposes of war.


He and his close companions from the North decided then to travel east to Conastantinopolis. His skill in arms and horsemanship therein afforded him to rank of General of the new Vangarian Guardsmen, who were personal escorts to the Emperor himself. Harald kept within his heart his failing to protect his King, his dear half-brother, and did pledge to Jesus and the Emperor that he would die, and not sing that refrain.

Local Byzantine soldiers had no loyalty to King, nor God, but only to the coin. Therefore their treachery made them most worthless to the Norseman. Called he then to Viking brothers of the North, likewise in exile, to attend him there, within the Eastern Rome, for there was coin and glory to be had. He built Vangary to a fearsome fighting force and ever after would the fame of it be due to Viking warriors, the fiercest of the world.

From 1035 until 1042, Vangarians, numbered near six thousand, did engage around the Middle Sea, in Sicily, Bulgaria, and in the Holy Land. Harald met and slew a hundred different kinds of fighting men and caroused he with one hundred different women. He grew rich from plunder, and his men did love him so.

In ’39, sent he a caravan, chaperoned and bulwarked versus any highway robber, back to Yaroslav and Elisiv, to keep it safe from Eastern treachery. Wise Yaroslav did keep his treasure safe within the vault, for he foresaw that Harald would return, and with him great assemblages of knights. It was at this time Harald was first called by Hardrada, roughly said, which means “stern council of the realm.” For ere, he rode ahead of Emperors of Byzant-way, or after when the Emperor’s decrees were poorly-heeded. And his Vangar and his Turcopoles would see the message through, and all resistance was defeated.

While in Constantin, he did become involved in making Emperors. Among his people, Witan men (the wise) were always chosen to elect the tribal king. He saw no reason not to broach this custom with the locals. and his Vangarians would make his arguments hold true. So politics of this, the Byzant lands, did learn Hadrade from roughly ’39 to ’42. What he learned within those years is might and gold make difference up in dynasty succession, a lesson he took well to in the coming years: money and aggression.

Return to Kiev

And then until 1042, he served to make and break the Emperors of ere the Byzantines though his own sword and stately guile. Also did he ride upon the Inland Sea of Empire Old in good Antiquity. And amassed he up some great amount of treasure, he and of his men as well, and shipped it back to Yaroslav and Elisiv for their good keeping fast. Eight years did he and his good men they ride, and were the arm of Emperors of Constantine they be. Even did some men of his take up the Moorish faith, and bring their treasures and their wisdom back to Rus’s, when their return did made.

The Winter of late ‘42 in stately old Kiev was one of wondrous good fortune and good promise for the people. Elisiv was given to Prince Harald Sigurdsson in Kiev’s own Great Cathedral. Yaroslav provided up a feast for every man and wife and child in the city and the countryside. A village up entire carved the craftsmen out of blocks of ice, including of a river running red with spiced wine and courtiers themselves as gondoliers! For three full days and nights did all Kiev and Novogrod and all the people in between then celebrate the union of Norwegian sword and Kievan sheathe.

Friday, July 5, 2019

Part 5: Exile

Harald took the men who didst remain to him and fled, abroad, unto the Kievan Rus’. As he crossed the sea, a vision did appear to him and all his goodly men. Saw they then, one darkly night, Máni[1] were their only light, the visage of St. Nicholas, the patron of the sailor out at sea, who came upon each man within their ships and healed of him his injuries from Sticklestad, and made them whole again. And each these men who were not Christians yet did fall upon the decks and did repent immediate. Each was christened ere upon their landing at Pskov. 

And trode they then across the lands of Slovenfolk, and found they then the Pola river, up into the city, called it Novogrod. The Lords there took them into custody, and then were brought by coach to Kiev’s Court, where Yaroslav did reign. Knowing Harald then the Grand Prince, Yaroslav, in Kievan Rus’, he did flee there and so throw himself upon the mercy of the court.

Harald knelt he there before the Grand Prince Yaroslav, prayed to grant him succor as he had allied with Olaf eldenwise. Yaroslav remembered him, and liked him in his youth. He could see within the lad some glimmering good steel (and also would he like to bring the Viking’s men to heel.) Yaroslav made up this little future king into his soldier, whereal Harald would he learn to lead these foreign men, as well his own, upon their valor-fields would auger.

Yaroslav appointed Harald Sigurdsson to Sergeant in the Russian Guard. Harald and his ere 500 men and boys then pledged their Christian swords with goodly grace and some humility to Russia’s place. Received he up the rank of Captain after one campaign for him. Yaroslav, he granted him command of Russian soldiers and his own, and on campaign did Harald by his men ere earn his comb.

And also did he earn respect from Yaroslav for Harald’s guile in statecraft and at Court. In these four pretty Wintertimes at old Kiev, Harald learned from Yaroslav of curtained statecraft-playing: legal custom to enshrine in writs above the peoplement; and cutting-rites when shrouded up, entombing rivals with exsanguinette. Enbloodied was the Grand Prince on the rise, but would that blood enrich the flowering of state, and bring both peace and culture to the realm beneath his watchful eye. But this blood be taken in revenge for royal blood be why.

Yaroslav, he 52 about this time, 1030 anno domini, and walked he with a cane.  His hair was long and slivery and wore it long and braided in with silken ribbons be. His mustache also was it silver, long and thin and like the manes of horses on the steppe. Never he appeared upon his balcony before the people of his city then without his armor, burnished up like Sun itself, and held within his hand a riding crop. Also did he keep upon the balcony a Vulgate, well-illuminated, for was he a Christian like his father were before him there. Scholar, soldier, horseman, were his iconography.

He’d take’d an arrow to the leg when he had taken Kiev from his brother eld, named Sviat of Kiev. Sviat had won of the city through some bloody treachery. Foul Sviat slew of him his three older brothers, all their guards and retinue; took he then their women, and put all the children to the blade as well. Three dynasties, obliterated, all within the year of 1015. Yaroslav, had come adopted by his father, Vladimir the Great, when married up his mother in their latter years. Escaped the blades, did Yaroslav, the youngest of the brood, through guile given him by God, and love of Novogrodians for him. Marked he then three Winters as he grew into a warrior. And rallied up he his support across the countryside, to overthrow Sviat, the brutal Tyrant of Kiev.

Yaroslav rode up a force, part Novogradian and part of Byzantines (they called Varangians,) and took the city from Sviat, his elder brother but by half. That were in the Summer, 1019. And Yaroslav the Wise was crowned Grand Prince, and ruled by popular decree.

[1] Norse moon goddess.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Part 4: War In the North

War In the North

In the olden days, there were still many heathens in the North; and even heathen kingdoms ruled by Jarls, as we have seen. King Olaf did, through Christ unite the warring tribes, and duly then convert them to the Word. This took him time and men to force their discipline. Also did he counsel with the Danes, and they did aid him in his monumental task, for they were Christian men and did they see in Olaf Christian obligette. In 1015, King Olaf did return from making allies of the Danes upon the death of Magnus, called the Good, who was his father. And the people did proclaim him king unanimously, there so glorious was his subdual of the forces of the hob. In 1016, did he then win one last battle at Nesjar, against the Jarls of Lade, to so unite his kingdom to a single Norway, indivisible good Christian land. His task was truly done, the bards did say.

But having then brought to low each Jarlish ealdorman, and ere subdued each Jarlish tribe to Christendom, the Danish men of Juteland wanted more for them to have: they wanted Norway underneath their dainty Jutish pad. And so the game continued on to later innings played, and the sportsmen it concerneth went from ragged eft to mad.

The Jarlish lords conspired with Danes of Juteland, they to keep King Olaf of the Norse outflanked from land as well as sea. For while the Danes held their supremacy upon the waves, Danish armies broke themselves upon King Olaf’s shields in petifaring [1] waves. The land was his, by God and guile be.

In ’28, did Cnut the Great, the King of Denmark wake, he make alliance with the scheming Jarls of Lade (for ere, they still held on to foul oldenways, for then were merciful Norwegians to their days,) to overthrow King Olaf. Such treachery as scarcely had been seen in Christendom did flows’t from Canute. The Jarls united under Cnut’s sly rule, and did the Jutemen’s dirty work on Western Viking’s down acclivities.

Betwixt the men of Denmark and the Jarls, they did unseat King Olaf for a time, and then did Cnut claim for his own the seat of Norway ere the same. But Olaf, did he never so accede, and did he and his men continue to oppose the Southern knaves.

Olaf learnt the news of farmers who dissembled to enfoeff the King’s own general, Hárek of Tjøtta, to the West! Hárek’s challenge, backed up by the Danish crown! There wasn’t time for Olaf to raise up a force befitting of a King, so Westward he did march with his own bodyguard and all the men of Court who he could count on for their armor still, and all their men, besides. He were to put to rest the claimant and the claim, and of united Norway, King remain. Six hundred and three thousand men they counted up, and nary of them had a bow or ballista or courser. All on foot they were, and marched they for a fortnight west, some 40 leagues, through bluster and unrest. Met they then upon the downs at Sticklestad, a force of farmers of one hundred hundred of the longer kind [2] (a number which entotals 14,000 and a few), but all of these were farming-men and other lesser arms, and none were doughty fighters for King Olaf and for God.

Harald and King Olaf were both sons of Good King Magnus, but issued from their different mums. Olaf was, of Harald, twenty years his senior age. In that year of 1030, Olaf was an elder man of 35, while Harald was a young fifteen, but yet already was he manly’d up, a scourge in battle would he show, upon the valor fields would go. Harald Sigurdsson, had he been subject to his brother eld, and they together sailed to Norway back from Rus-Kiev, where they had been to do diplomacy. So then had Harald marched with Olaf off to war for God and Crown, and served him as a gen’ral in his military arm. And Harald did regard his brother as another man mayhap regard his better pa, for their own pa, good Magnus, was long dead, and Harald never knew him well; neh not at all. So as we say anon, King Olaf II, he Haraldsson (who would later on be sainted), brought his own half-brother, Harald Sigurdsson, to valor on the field of Sticklestad. This was in the year 1030 anno domini. Od’s luck!

Also on that field, did Olaf find he was opposed, now put against a pagan adversary he had known, named Thorir Hund. The bards of Northern history do now relate that Thorir was estranged from his King for one of Olaf’s Shire Reeves, a man named Asbjørn Selisbane, had killed the Hound’s dear nephew in an earlier dispute. Thorir had avenged his kin and killed the Reeve, did skalds then say. The King then forced a heavy fine for costing him a goodly man. So the grudge did grow between them. Thorir Hund that day did act as general, Hárek as the sovereign. Urged then Thorir on their farmers with the cry: “Fram! Fram! Bonder!” [3] And they advanced upon these cries.

Olaf, with his heart lade heavily from sorrow at the stern betrayal by his Hárek, rallied up his household nonetheless. They there found themselves outnumbered four to one, but had they better arms and armor, and good discipline. Olaf did then spur them on: “Fram! Fram! Kristmenn, krossmenn, kongsmenn!” Did he cry! And the men of Christ, the Cross, and Kingdom then did rally and pack in against the waves of spearmen – spearmen, yea, who crashed upon them ere like darkest North Sea storm at sea.

Olaf found that Harald had within him piss and vigor! He killed a dozen farmers with his sword, while keeping order in his corps. They cheerèd one another on. Brotherhood of blooded victory united them more vigorèd than mere half-blood before this see’d. Harald did sustain some minor wounds. His manus sinister was broken, but he took no time to rest it up. There was then not the time, for Thorir struck at them right then!

In the afternoon, warm Sól [4] was setting quickly in the south-by-west, and feverish were Thorir’s men to crack the wall of shields and muscle conjured up by Olaf’s men. Thorir Hund himself so then did lead a desperate charge against the King and his own second man! And Olaf met the charge in single combat, King against the multitude of Jarlsmen farmers, resonant in voice and steeled were they, and in the balance were Norway! Thorir saw his mark and quarry.

Called he to his farmers “Bo, for denne Kristen hunden er min! [5]” And Thorir came to stand before the King.

Clashed they then, before a hundred hundred silent men. But grave dissemblement would find King Olaf nearly underswept that day. Olaf was in this exchange so gravely wounded: two peasant farmer heathens did insult the sanctity of single battle! One did strike his knee. And, as he did reel, the other struck his neck! Brother Harald, seeing underhandedness, flew aside the King, his dearly kin, and did dispatch the both of them by dashing them against a mighty stone, set there by God, within the downs at Sticklestad. These two mean-villein farming snakes were made by Harald dead. Olaf, he exhausted then, did lean against the stone and close his eyes, one hand on his knee and the other on his neck. Harald kept a number of the pagan swine at bay with sword and shield and faith in God. But at that very moment, treacherous Thor-Hund did strike beneath the King’s maille shirt and gut him with the very spear the Reeve had used to kill his brother’s son, Leifr!

Throughout the valley where that field did lay at Sticklestad, the sound of angels crying did the people hear. The pagans did not heed it. Heathen farmers and their still-remaining sergeants did’st rout the Royal army off the field, and chased them ‘til they could not chase nehmore. Only then did Sunna set upon the field.

King Olaf’s men then spirited in secret of his mantle and did bury him in sand upon the banks of the Nidelva, to prevent his desecration in the time between the battle and the proper good interment. Anon, then they returned to get it and so bury him in proper as a Christian knight deserveth. When then they returned in seven days, they brought with them a coffin that befits the King of Norway. And they buried him in the good earth and all Norway mourned his passing.

One year past the battle was it hence, some pilgrims came to mourn him. Placed they flowers, burned some incense and poured perfume out before his grave. One perchance did open up the coffin, and, according to the bards, the body found was incorrupt and as they laid it gently fifty weeks ago. That was in 1031. The churchmen summoned then decided they would move his case to St. Clement’s in Trondheim, nearer Sticklestad.

By their hand, in latter years, then did they make erect, in Sticklestad, upon the field where he had died, a newly church for him to there reside. The stone where he was grisly-slain, inside the altarpiece remains. And so he was beatified, for the fair miracle of incorruption of his body demonstrated he was truly sent from God.

[1] Useless, hopeless.
[2] A long hundred is 144.
[3] “Forward, Bondsmen!” (Farmers bonded to the land.)
[4] Both Sól and Sunna were used to mean “the Sun.”
[5] “Stay, for this Christian dog is mine!”