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10th Century / Viking Age Tales

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Location: Nottingham UK

Postby EC2 » Sun August 29th, 2010, 10:26 pm

I borrowed Jorvik from the library and it's years since I read it, but I remember enjoying it loads, and it was in the days when Viking fiction never got a look in.
Les proz e les vassals
Souvent entre piez de chevals
Kar ja li coard n’I chasront

'The Brave and the valiant
Are always to be found between the hooves of horses
For never will cowards fall down there.'

Histoire de Guillaume le Mareschal



Postby annis » Mon August 30th, 2010, 1:29 am

Jorvik is particularly interesting, because it's one of the few novels I can think of which covers the period from Ethelred to Edward the Confessor, dealing with the era of the Danish kings- Canute et al.

Location: Ciinaminson NJ

Postby chuck » Mon August 30th, 2010, 5:43 pm

Read somewhere about Jayden Woods's "Eadric the Grasper".... Volume I... Sons of Mercia...checked out Amazon and it's currently out of print....Looks interesting.....


Postby annis » Mon August 30th, 2010, 7:08 pm

Sounds interesting, Chuck.

Eadric Streona (the Grasper) seems to have been a nasty piece of work. Canute preferred to keep the English administrative structure relatively untouched and allowed Eadric to carry on as Eaolderman of Mercia when he came to power, but Eadric eventually got on the wrong side of Canute and was executed.- apparently when he claimed to have arranged Edmund Ironside's death for Canute's benefit. Eadric had a history of arranging convenient deaths for kings, but Canute had nothing to do with Edmund's and was outraged by the suggestion of his complicity.

Eadric and Edmund Ironside were at loggerheads over policy towards the Danes. Edmund was all for taking it to the Danes, while Eadric Streona was keen to keeping paying Danegeld to pacify them (probably because he did a bit of skimming on the side, being the go-between).

Chronicler Geoffrey Gaimar relates the story of Edmund Ironside being murdered on the privy by the sons of Eadric Streona, using a crossbow positioned in the midden pit to fire through the toilet seat. It is said that the missile passed so far into Edmund's body that it could not be extracted. Ooh-errr!

This story has raised some controversy about whether crossbows were in use in England at the time

"Some historians claim that the crossbow was unknown in England until the Battle of Hastings 1066AD when records first show wages for crossbowmen being paid. This version is again disputed by some who claim that a primitive crossbow known as a Skane Lockbow was used in 985AD in the Battle of Hjorungavgr, a battle at which Thorkil the Tall was present and proves at least that the weapon was known and used during the period"

Quote from Cnut and the Rise of Earl Godwin.

Edited to say that it looks as if Jayden Woods' "Eadric the Grasper" is due for release in October sometime. He seems to be running a serial which can be read on his website called the Lost Tales of Mercia, with each episode dealing with a different character- Canute, Ethelred etc.
Last edited by annis on Tue August 31st, 2010, 3:26 am, edited 11 times in total.

Location: Ciinaminson NJ

Postby chuck » Tue August 31st, 2010, 4:57 am

Hello annis....as always very interesting and engaging remarks about Eadric Steona.....Woods's new "conception" about The Grasper is that he is suave and charming....Huh? I do know he was called the "worst and most villainous Englishman of the 11th century" and your remarks about ES; makes me wonder about the author spinning a tale opposite of the written chronicles....Have to admit I'm still intrigued....I'm such a sucker for Canute, Ethelred, Mercia etc.....BTW your vividry(my new word) description of Ironside's murder made me laugh and wince at the same time....


Postby annis » Tue August 31st, 2010, 7:23 am

Sorry to say that the description of Edmund's murder was mostly taken from elsewhere, so I can't claim its vividry for myself (love that word, btw)

Interesting take on Eadric's personality. The word "weasel" comes to my mind from the bits and pieces I've read about him. Mind you, weasels look quite cute and sleek until they open their mouths and you see those teeth---


Postby annis » Thu September 2nd, 2010, 11:52 pm

I've just been reading a Kirkus review of Jayden Woods' book. It seems the author is a woman- hadn't realised that.
Her Eadric is a fascinating figure, an amoral yet sensitive man in a chaotic world, trying desperately, and not always successfully, to tame hot passions with cold calculation.

Might have to read it just out of curiosity! :) Of course, the lack of reliable accounts from the 10th and 11th centuries do lend themselves to whatever interpretation suits an author. The famous tale about Canute trying to hold back the tide, for example, was the work of a creative 12th century chronicler, Henry of Huntingdon, and almost certainly never happened. We know that Canute, while keeping the basic administrative structures set up by Alfred the Great intact, did divide England into 4 areas for administrative purposes, creating the first earldoms. He gave control of these areas to 4 newly created earls (jarls) –2 to Danish supporters--Thorkull the Tall got East Anglia, Canute's kinsman Eric, Northumbria, and 2 to English supporters- Godwin got Wessex and Eadric, Mercia. It’s pretty much a given that Godwin and Eadric weren’t rewarded for loyalty to the Wessex royal line.

Did Eadric have Edmund Ironside killed? We don’t know, though it’s certainly possible. Some records just say Edmiund died, not that he was killed. If Edmund was murdered, did Canute know? He appears to have ordered the death of Edmund’s brother after his death and that of Edmund's sons, though they did manage to escape to Europe so you’d have to wonder. (Ironically Godwin possibly finished the job later - he was implicated in the death of Edmund’s son, Edward Atheling (the Exile), who died suspiciously 2 days after arriving in England as Edward the Confessor’s nominated successor) Both Eadric and Godwin were suspected of complicity in conveniently timed deaths. This article claims that as Eadric argued violently with Canute, Eric of Northumbria bashed him over the head with a battleaxe and killed him - sounds like a very Viking response!

Have you read Valerie Anand's Gildenford, Chuck? it's the first in a trilogy set around the Battle of Hastings and very good. In this one, Earl Godwin murders Alfred the Atheling (Edward the Confessor's brother) at the instigation of Harold Harefoot.
Last edited by annis on Sat September 4th, 2010, 12:28 am, edited 4 times in total.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
Favorite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Postby MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri September 3rd, 2010, 12:40 am

I might mention the Thrall's Tale, which I read a couple years back. It was pretty dark and full of details that were TMI by my taste, but they did appear to be painstakingly accurate. Set during the time of Viking settlement of Greenland.

Location: Ciinaminson NJ

Postby chuck » Fri September 3rd, 2010, 1:28 am

"Gildenford" definitely is on my TBR list....VA has quite few books that look interesting....Your comments about Eadric are very interesting....Appreciate the sites...The Vikings/Saxons blood lusts attitudes had to be very difficult to control at times....Remember reading Joan Wolfe's "Born to the Sun" and the extreme difficulty of the Saxons trying to control themselves around the Christian Brits....Makes for good reading....I think mental/phyiscal/sexual tension adds to good novel...thanks for the excellent mentions....

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Wulfric of Mercia

Postby Wulfric of Mercia » Wed September 22nd, 2010, 11:37 pm

Jorvik is sort of the initial focal point of the novel I am currently writing. It played an important part in the first novel and the follow-up centers round Anlaf Guthfrithsson's usurpation of the kingship there in the 10th century. I had to study the history and archaeology of the town extensively to understand the layout, ramparts, etc.

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