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Wednesday September 18th 2019Tim Candler9

 

     A lot of people might have been a little confused by the horse in yesterday's attempt to find entertainment on these pages. They may also have been confused by the whole Battle of Maldon reference. I guess too that heat and lack of rain here where I live might have robbed me of brain cells, because I'd initially considered a well reasoned discussion on snowflakes, heroic poems and appeasement. The king at the time was Ethelred, The Unready, back then it was kind of like a joke nickname. Ethelred means well advised, originally unready would have meant ill-advised. Either way the Battle of Maldon was an engagement between Anglo Saxon forces and sea raiding Vikings. The commander of Anglo Saxon forces was a man called Byrhtnoth, he was a bigwig on the east coast of England, down there in Essex. He was tall, very tall apparently, and at the time of the battle he had long white hair and he was in his sixties, which in those days was old for a person, and the cynic might just leap to the conclusion that he was more than likely an old fart, prone to the odd error of thinking, especially in hot weather. Of interest the Battle of Maldon was fought in August.

Past

    King Ethelred, the ill-advised, was having trouble reproducing King Alfred's cohesive plan to deal with continuous Viking incursions. Ethelred levied land taxes in areas prone to Viking marauders and these taxes were given to the Kings of Denmark on the understanding that they'd do a better job of keeping Vikings from all over Scandinavia in some sort of check. On his statue, which isn't actually very old, its sculptor is still alive, in his 70's probably, Byrhtnoth has a plaque which goes on about how he was a principle voice against Ethelred's policy of appeasement to the Danes. No mention on the plaque of  how when  raping and pillaging England went out of fashion in Viking ranks English Kings kept on levying the land taxes, revenue for the treasury to pay a standing army, a navy and a bunch of other useful things, which as a policy was a return to King Alfred's more sensible policy preferences for how to deal with foreigners invading English shores. So with Byrhtnoth you got this more right wing nut, muttering on about appeasement, who decided to teach Viking marauders a lesson and in the process made a tactical error. He told all his men to dismount, and they were going to defend a bridge, which effectively gave the Vikings the higher ground. Byrntnoth and all his men died gloriously, except a couple who retrieved the horses and ran away, including Godric son of Odda.

 

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