Mists of Time: Knut the Great

The Viking Age period began with sporadic incursions and ended with full-scale invasions.

Fifty years before Harald Hardrada, the last Viking, died at Stamford Bridge, a Nordic invasion took the throne of England. This year, 2016, is the 1000th anniversary of that conquest.

Knut of Denmark was the son of Sweyn Forkbeard and grandson of Harald Bluetooth, who had managed to oust Aethelraed in 1013. His mistake then was simply that Aethelraed was exiled, not killed, and when Sweyn died the following year, he came back. Knut, whose brother Harald inherited Denmark’s crown, was elected King by the Vikings and Norsemen of Danelaw, but the English nobility chose to bring Aethelraed back from exile.

Knut, returning to Denmark, marshalled his forces and returned for invasion in 1015. Lots of battles were fought for over a year, with Aethelraed’s men led by his son Edmund Ironside.

And then, in April 1016, Aethelraed died. Edmund kept fighting, but Knut defeated him that October. Didn’t kill Edmund, but they came to an agreement, dividing England into Danelaw (Knut’s) and Wessex (Edmund’s). Edmund died a month later. Maybe it was battle-wounds, maybe it was murder. Not quite sure, but Knut became King of all England. He was crowned at Epiphany 1017.

Six months later, he married Aethelraed’s widow Emma, and he used his base in England to build a North Sea Empire, taking Denmark when his brother died in 1018 and Norway in 1028 when Olaf of Norway’s jarls deserted him and he fled the field. Olaf was killed two years later in 1030 when he attempted to reclaim his crown. Knut also laid claim to parts of Sweden – as far east as Sigtuna.

Knut died in 1035, and his Empire broke up. Within ten years, England was ruled again by the House of Wessex, by Edward the Confessor, son of Aethelraed and Emma.

St Andrew’s Day; or, The End of NaNoWriMo!

Happy St Andrew’s Day, all you Scots. (And all the others for whom St Andrew is the patron saint.)

I was considering using that fact that the NaNoWriMo administration is using a time-zone eight hours behind me (I think it’s East Pacific Time, but don’t quote me on that!) as an excuse to have an extra eight hours of writing time, but fortunately, that’s not needed!

Excuse me while I dance a tired jig of happiness that I hit the 50K barrier on my novel. I don’t now plan to look at it until after Christmas.

I admit, I failed with the blogging challenge. But I feel more encouraged about blogging, and finding new and different topics to blog about. So I shall endeavour to continue with greater frequency.

But now. To St Andrew.

Apparently, according to some sources, the celebration of him as a national saint in Scotland began during the eleventh century, during the reign of Malcolm III.

And, quite honestly, I find this bit of Scottish history more interesting. Because this Malcolm is the son of the Duncan murdered by Macbeth. Yup, him of Shakespeare’s play. And, OK, obviously Shakespeare used a bit of artistic licence in reworking the story into a drama, but it’s still all good fun. 

Also, Malcolm’s second wife, Margaret of Wessex (granddaughter of Edmund Ironside, King of England for not very long in 1016, son of Aethelraed the Unready) is Scotland’s only royal saint. So, actually, it strikes me as a little strange that Andrew, and not Margaret, is the Scottish patron saint. Mind you, England has several saints of her own who aren’t the patron saint.

Also, as an aside, today, 30th November 1016, is also the death-day of Edmund Ironside, approximately six weeks after his defeat by Knut the Great of Denmark at Assandun on the 18th October 1016, and their subsequent agreement to split England. Apparently Knut was really impressed by Edmund’s fighting abilities. The North went to Knut, and Wessex went to Edmund. After Edmund’s death, Knut became King of England. (Knut then married Edmund’s stepmother, Emma of Normandy, Queen of England.)

But there. The end of trying to kill myself through lack of sleep.

To all those NaNoWriMo-ers still going, Good luck! You’re nearly there!

To those who didn’t reach 50K words, Better luck next year. You did well, anyway.