Tuesday September 11th 2012 Tim
Eanbald became Bishop of York. The world around
him was very much less than peaceful. Heathen and pirate raids.
Something terrible happened to the Church in Anglesey. As well, kings
and princes competing for territory and political advantage. Hostages
taken. King Offa, who died the year before Eanbald received the
pall, had during his life secured the Kingdom of Mercia against the
Welsh to his west. His soldiers won battle after battle against
the powerful Kings of Wessex. They occupied Kent, defeated
the East Anglians, and they were able to frighten the northerners by
marching an army to the Humber River. For all of fifteen years
Offa owned most of southern England, except for Cornwall, which belonged
to the Welsh Celts. Offa's son and successor Ecgfrith, lasted one
hundred and fourteen troubled days. In 825 Egbert of Wessex won
the battle of Ellendun. Danish raiders decided they wanted land to
occupy. East Anglians took to revolt. And chaos waited for
the ambitions of Alfred.
Those Early Middle Ages, for the
tribes of the English, must have been an exciting place for a young,
athletic man who could lift a battle axe or maybe a sword, and perhaps wear
a helmet, and who had ambition and drive and a yearning to succeed. It
was simpler too, far fewer career choices, and life so much shorter.
In those days a person did indeed die before he or she had the audacity to
become old and burdensome. An injury beyond a minor abrasion, or blow
to the head, pretty much meant painful and agonizing moments while waiting
for a miracle. Few survived the loss of an eye, or arm, or foot,
sometimes a toothache was enough. You could wake up in the morning,
see pirate sails in the estuary, and by the evening if you were not in
chains, your home was burned, the vegetable patch trampled, your livestock
and all the girls taken away to Denmark, or Norway and winter just round the
corner. And in the end, if Bishop Eanbald were alive today he'd
probably be able to give me as good a reason as any why Lee Davidson from
just south of York, died in Helmand Province yesterday.