You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using your Google account.
You are commenting using your Twitter account. You are commenting using your Facebook account. Notify me of new comments via email. Notify me of new posts via email.
This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Very recommended! This was a complimentary copy via the author in exchange for an honest review. If you feel like sharing, thank you! Like this: Like Loading Like the earliest of the sagas, they were written in the late 12th century, and there are some textual relations between the Latin histories and the Icelandic sagas.
And how are we in particular to make sense of a country like Sweden, where, as we have seen, there is a strong tradition of translations and cultural imports? Walkowitz London: Routledge, , Rodgers a. Berzin was sent to A-G. Sayers, The Nine Tailors mystery novel : fear of uncovering illegitimacy and the social shame that that would bring are key plot drivers in the murder. The sentence was overturned on appeal, as was her second espionage conviction.
However, the Latin texts are both briefer and less fantastic than the great kings' sagas of the early 13th century. Eric was the favourite, and probably the oldest, of the many sons of King Harald Finehair of Norway. The saga tradition credits Harald with a round total of 20 sons, as well as the unification of Norway. Modern historians now agree that Harald's kingdom was more limited, and probably confined to the west and south-west, although he may have exercised some power in other areas through alliance with other rulers.
Eric secured the succession It was probably this that earned him his nickname.
While the sagas call him 'Bloodaxe', one of the Latin texts calls him fratris interfector brother-killer , so it seems likely that 'blood' in this context refers to family, just as today we refer to 'blood relations' as distinct from relations by marriage or adoption. Eric's rule in Norway was apparently harsh and unpopular, and his kingship was challenged by his one surviving brother Hakon.
Hakon is said to have been brought up in England at the court of Athelstan, and this fits well with Athelstan's recorded policy of fostering the sons of potential allies. Hakon sailed to Norway to claim his inheritance, and Eric fled to England. According to the sagas, he was welcomed by Athelstan, because of the the friendship between Athelstan and Harald Finehair, and was made sub-king of Northumbria under Athelstan's authority. Invader or guest? Coin of Eric Bloodaxe, first type, with an Anglo-Saxon style design. The suggestion that Eric first became king of Northumbria at Athelstan's invitation seems at first sight to conflict with English and Irish sources.
According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and various Irish Chronicles, Eric was taken as king by the Northumbrians in or , some years after Athelstan's death, and in defiance of Athelstan's brother Eadred. Certainly the saga tradition is confused on some points. It places Eric's death in the reign of Eadmund, who ruled between Athelstan and Eadred, and does not recognise the existence of Eadred at all. However, confusion between two very similar names does not mean that everything is wrong. It is also important to note that while there is no mention of Eric in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle during the reign of Athelstan, there is no mention of who did govern Northumbria on Athelstan's behalf during the later part of his reign, so it could just as well have been Eric as anybody else.
A later chronicle by William of Malmesbury recalls diplomatic relations between Athelstan and Harald Finehair, which fits with the saga tradition. There is also a reference to Eric in an account of the life of a Scottish saint, Caddroe, probably written in the late tenth century. According to this, Caddroe visited Eric and his wife in York, and from other details in this account, the visit seems to have taken place around Certainly it must have taken place some years before Eric's first appearance in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
Coin of Eric Bloodaxe reverse The evidence of Eric's coinage is ambiguous. The same moneyers issued coins for the Anglo-Saxon kings and the various Viking rulers of Northumbria, and Eric's first type could equally well date from the late s or the s. Conquest and reconquest Coin of Eric Bloodaxe, second type. The sword design is copied from an earlier type from Viking Northumbria. Eric's use of this design may have been designed to promote his image as rightful ruler of an independent Northumbria.
The kings' sagas tell us that Athelstan made Eric ruler of Northumbria to protect the land against 'Danes [ie Scandinavians] and other marauders', and Egil's saga tells us specifically that his role was to defend the land against the Scots and the Irish. Again, this is completely consistent with the broader picture of Athelstan's reign.
The expansion of the authority of the kingdom of Wessex posed a threat to all the smaller kingdoms in the British Isles, and Athelstan faced a repeated alliance between native rulers such as the kings of the Scots and Strathclyde with Viking rulers of the Dublin dynasty. Northumbria changed hands frequently during the s as different factions tried to control the kingdom. In this context the appointment of Eric as sub-king would make perfect sense. What is certainly clear is that Northumbria changed hands frequently during the s, as different factions tried to control the kingdom.
On Athelstan's death in , the kingdom was seized by Olaf Guthfrithsson of Dublin, and thereafter the kingdom was contested between Athelstan's successors Edmund and Eadred on the one side, and kings of the Dublin dynasty on the other.
While both the Anglo-Saxon and the saga accounts agree that, after Athelstan's death, Eric was acting on his own account, rather than as a sub-king for the Wessex dynasty. It seems clear that Eric's brief periods of rule c.
And indeed the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle tells us that on both occasions he was 'taken as king' by the Northumbrians. It is equally clear, however, that he lacked the force to maintain his position in the face of opposition from both Dublin and Wessex. The end of the story A battle reconstruction: Eric's defeat and death at Stainmore in brought an end to the independence of Viking Northumbria.
While the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle makes it clear that Eric was periodically driven out by rivals, the sagas tell us that Northumbria was not wealthy enough to support Eric and his following, so he often went raiding in Scotland and around the Irish Sea. Although this may well have been partly a desire for plunder, it also fits with Eric's ongoing contest for power with the kings of the Dublin dynasty, who had influence all around the Irish Sea area. Both English and saga sources agree that Eric was killed in battle.
The sagas tell us that Eric was accompanied by five kings from the Hebrides and the two earls of Orkney. This receives some support from later English chronicles, although no such details appear in contemporary sources. Later sources also tell us that Eric was killed in an ambush by Maccus, son of Olaf. This Maccus is otherwise unknown, but the name Maccus does appear in the dynasty of the kings of Man, probably an offshoot of the Dublin dynasty.
It is also possible that Maccus was a son of Olaf Cuaran, king of Dublin, and Eric's rival as king of Northumbria in the late s. Eric's death at Stainmore in brought an end to independent Viking rule in Northumbria. And whoever Maccus was, Eric's death at Stainmore in brought an end to independent Viking rule in Northumbria.
This is sometimes taken as the end of the first Viking Age, although Viking raids on England resumed in the s. However, raiding and settlement in Ireland, Scotland and Wales continued throughout the period in between, so this date is only significant in a purely English context. However, since this seems unlikely to be a reliable eyewitness account, it adds little to our understanding of the historical figure behind the legend of Eric Bloodaxe. Places to visit The British Museum.
Important collections of Viking material, as well as displays relating to religions and beliefs from all over the world. Bede's World. Jorvik Centre. Explores many aspects of daily life in Viking York in the tenth century. In addition to coinage, he specialises in the history of the Viking Age, with particular interests in the nature of royal power, and in the relationship between history and literature. Eric Bloodaxe: Coin silver. Eric Bloodaxe: coin picture of sword.
Eric Bloodaxe: Coin Reverse inscriptions. Viking Longboat expansion and raiding. Viking longship excavated at Gokstad, Norway, in warhead. Their swift wooden longships, equipped with both sails and oars, enabled them to mount piratical raids on the coastal monasteries and settlements of the British Isles, western Europe and beyond. T he shallow draught of these ships meant that they were able to reach far inland by river and stream, striking and moving on before local forces could muster. They were steered not by a rudder, but by a single oar mounted on the starboard side. A few late examples are said to have had iron-clad bows and sterns.
An average speed of 10 to 11 knots could have been achieved, or perhaps rather more in short bursts. Crews of 25 to 60 men would have been common, seated on benches on open decks, although the largest ships could have carried as many as or more.
Packhorses and provisions would also be included if needed. Fearsome figureheads would be raised at stem and stern as a sign of warlike intent, underlined by rows of shields mounted along the sides for defence or show.
These could be removed while at sea. Raids in single ships were quite frequent and, before around , fleets rarely comprised more than ships. Much larger fleets of and upwards were recorded later, but it is difficult to know how accurate the reports were. Actual sea-battles were rare, and even then were fought close to shore.