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Thread: Æthellan: A Tale of Kings

  1. #61
    Quote Originally Posted by Hannibal X View Post
    By blood, at least, he is the true king as the last man in the house Cerdicingas.
    Ah, but the nobles wouldn't accept a child king; otherwise they would've simply recognized Edgar from the start.

    And (to them) at least Harold is a fellow Saxon, and a skilled warrior to boot. He put the Welsh in their place, and defeated the Norse. What's more, he crushed the powerful Duke William (at least in this timeline).

    I'd say that to the Saxons, Harold deserves the crown over Edgar. And his family has blood ties to the Cerdicingas, after all. He's simply the best overall candidate for the throne.

  2. #62
    England's Sphincter Rabid Bogling's Avatar
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    Or could it possibly have been that the majority of the kingdom's Earls were either Harold's brothers or brothers-in-law, who had something to gain from his kingship whilst Edgar (and his father, Edward the Exile) was quite clearly a powerless outsider that could offer them bugger all?

    Nah. I reckon Harold's rise to the throne had more to do with the marvellous dynastic politicking of his old dad. Without which he could well have become the foremost Earl in the realm and the power behind Edgar as his father had been for Edward. But I'd say it was his (polygamous) marriage to Edith of Mercia - sister to those young, seemingly inept brothers that ran a third of the country - his sister's marriage to the Confessor, and all of his brothers' appointments to several of the great Earldoms that secured him the throne by Witenagemot. All bar the former can be traced back to the schemes of Godwin, not his own supposedly heroic actions.
    Last edited by Rabid Bogling; 02-05-2010 at 05:43.

  3. #63
    Fair enough. But there's also the issue of needing a warrior. Since Edward the Confessor had been in a coma, there was plenty of time for claimants to the throne to state their desire for it.

    Therefore, the Saxons needed a proven warrior to face off against the likes of Duke William and Harald Hardrada. The Anglo-Saxons needed a proven factor that could have been trusted to not bring foreign influence into the land (so like you said, someone who could offer the various Earls something).

    Though yeah, it's unfair to not give credit to Godwin himself. He was the politicker, while Harold was sort of his protege, and had the qualities of a successful English king.

  4. #64
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    The key thing here is the assent of the Witangemot. Harold was proclaimed by them as King, and thus is the rightful King of England, regardless of blood or odd promises (looking at you William the Bastard).
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  5. #65
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    It lives! This update was worth the wait (provided we don't have to wait a similar time for the next installment)

    Now we need an update for Chronicles of the Golden Cross.

  6. #66
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    It truly is the victor that writes history. My head hurts from the amount of anti-norman propaganda. And portraying Harold as a perfect man made out of chivalry and honour itself.

    But it's still a really awesome AAR. Seriously great.
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  7. #67
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    This is a fantastic story! I found myself really caught up in the whole world of Saxon England. The descriptions were so perfect and well-written that I found myself watching the whole story like a movie in my mind.

    On another note, I would have to disagree with this comment:

    Quote Originally Posted by Vesimir View Post
    It truly is the victor that writes history. My head hurts from the amount of anti-norman propaganda. And portraying Harold as a perfect man made out of chivalry and honour itself.
    I found that the story wasn't anti-Norman, rather it was anti-William. Also remember, this entire story is being told from the viewpoint of an invaded nation and a woman who was not treated as well as she should have been. I also believe that we don't know enough about Harold to know whether or not he is perfect. We are just now meeting the man and most of what we know comes from a woman who seems to have a tiny crush on him. I predict that the more we know of Harold, the more human he will become.

  8. #68
    England's Sphincter Rabid Bogling's Avatar
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    Besides which, we don't get a lot out of Harold beyond a public display of courtesy. Throughout Stigand's sermon he sits there with a knowing smile, not lifting a finger to stop it. Strikes me as every inch the cunning statesman. Which I had down as intentional on AP's part.

  9. #69
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    Hello everyone! Thanks so much for your patronage and support of this story. I've got a basic plot outline in mind for the next update, but I have yet to start writing it. Wow, lots of replies to make now.

    English Patriot: Thanks very much! It's good to be back. I appreciated your help in reviewing the text earlier.

    Enewald: I do hope you mean "horrible" on the part of Stigand, rather than myself. The point here is that Harold is making a big display of chivalry and magnanimity while still managing to pull off an anti-William public relations display at the same time. The fact that Matilda and son were there to bargain for William's remains (like Harold's family tried to do with his remains in real life) only adds to the spectacle by giving Harold an opportunity to be publicly generous.

    And yes, I certainly hope to have updates with some frequency now.

    Qorten: Thanks! I think subsequent updates are going to be a bit shorter; this one was just a bit unusual due to restarting the story and all.

    Saithis: Thank you, I really appreciate that. You're not so bad yourself. I'm glad all of my effort paid off, because it took me absolutely forever to put this one together.

    SplendidTuesday: Thank you very much! Your comment really made my day. I'm hoping to have some more Harold for you quite soon.

    Hannibal X: Don't worry, I haven't forgotten Edgar Ætheling. He'll actually be figuring quite prominently into the story. Oh, and Edgar may be the last male heir of the main Cerdinga line from Alfred, but the Godwine family has a claim to Cerdinga descent too (albeit a tenuous one) going back to Alfred's elder brother, Æthelred I.

    canonized: High praise, coming from you. I'm glad you liked it. We'll be seeing more of Matilda in the future as well.

    RGB: Glad you liked the tapestry. It was fun to make. As for the puns, what else do you expect from the likes of Stigand?

    General_BT: Thanks for all of your help and support. I really could not have gotten this story back on its feet without it. I hope you'll continue to follow the story.

    Threedog43: I hope so too. I'd really like to be able to crank out at least 2-3 updates a month from now on.

    Rabid Bogling: Thanks for your patronage and the compliments. Your latest comment about Harold's motives hits it right on the head.

    The_Archduke: Sadly, I won't be able to revive Chronicles until I get my main computer fixed. Æthellan was new enough that it was possible to restart, plus it's not tied to the game like Chronicles is (and I don't have CK on this computer).

    Vesimir: Just wait and see. Harold is a good king with many admirable qualities, but he's definitely not without his faults.

    Cartimandua: Thank you very much! I'm so pleased that you enjoyed the update. Now if only I can crank a few more out!

    Re: The Harold Succession Debate:
    I actually wrote a rather long paper on this back in college. It's a complicated issue to be sure, but makes for some fascinating discussions.

    Rabid Bogling makes some good points. It really was Godwine's political genius that made Harold's later succession possible. Harold's own poltical savvy (especially the marriage alliance with the House of Leofric) is probably what sealed the deal.

    SplendidTuesday is also correct in his assessment of England's situation in 1065-6. The English needed a strong king to counter the outside threats from Normandy, Norway and Denmark. Harold was the perfect choice because he was situated perfectly to unite the kingdom and prevent civil unrest, given his own family's prestige and power, as well as that of his in-laws. Edgar would only have been a puppet on a string, when what the English needed was a powerful warrior-king.

    EnglishPatriot really hit the crux of the discussion on the head. English kings are chosen by the Witan, not by primogeniture. In the past, their selection was certainly influenced by dynastic ties, albeit their prerogative is to elect the most worthy and able candidate to be their king. The rightful king is whomever they choose, and thus in this instance Harold Godwinson. William the Bastard was certainly not the rightful heir to the throne; he was not a blood descendant of Cerdic, he was not elected by the Witan, and most importantly he was not even English!

    Moreover, English politics got a real shakeup in the time of Cnut, who was the one who empowered the three main noble families of the subsequent generation (Godwine, Leofric, Siward) anyway. It was thus not nearly so much of a big deal to have a King of England who was not the son of a previous king, and having had one foreign conqueror already, the English were dead set against having another. Could Edgar Ætheling have prevented both imminent invasions at such a young age? Rather unlikely. The English didn't want another Æthelred the Unready.

    Thus King Harold II.

    Of course, this issue will be discussed a whole lot more as the story continues. After all, the Witan has now set a precedent for choosing the candidate they consider to be the best. What will happen when Harold dies?

  10. #70
    England's Sphincter Rabid Bogling's Avatar
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    That's a damned fine assessment.

    As for what would happen after Harold's death.. I guess that'd depend on the state of the realm, and the continued strength of the Godwining-Leofricing "bloc". Should the realm be at peace and they grow greedy and overconfident, I reckon they would look for a puppet on a string. Namely one of their common nephews; Harold and Ulf.

    And should the threat of a second Norman invasion rear it's head, and Edgar be found lacking, there's always Denmark. Better the devil you know, eh?

    I'm eager to see what you'll pull out of the hat.

  11. #71
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Rabid Bogling: Thanks very much. You've made some very well thought-out theories there. Truth be told, I've already figured out the basic plot of the story for the next 50 years or so, so I've got a plan in mind. I won't spoil it for you, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what I have in store.

  12. #72
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    ANNOUNCEMENT:

    The very talented authAAR General_BT has featured Æthellan's own Harold Godwinson in a chapter of his epic tale, Rome AARisen. Head on over there to check it out if you have not already done so.

    In other news, the third chapter of Æthellan is well underway, as well as an interim update on the geography and politics of Ængland in 1066. I hope to have the chapter out some time next week, with the interim to follow the week after that.

    Stay tuned!

  13. #73
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    Staying tuned indeed.
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  14. #74
    I am definitely staying tuned as well; you have crafted quite a fun tale, as I've noted before.

    As for what will happen at Harold's death; I think that they will choose a Godwinson, and a strong one, but more of an administrator then a warrior. Think William the Conquerer's "Domesday Book" rather then his titular conquest.

    Speaking of that, I've always wondered what becomes of the Domesday Book in alternate histories where Harold wins. I mean, the only reason William needed what was basically the first census was because he needed to know exactly how much of everything he and his new kingdom had, so that he could notice if his vassals were cheating him or not.

    In Harold's cause, nearly the entire kingdom loves him, and almost no-one could even THINK of cheating the hero of England. Would he have a reason to create the Domesday book?

  15. #75
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    The Archbishop - I've already told you - hes a dozy

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  16. #76
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    The next update is maybe half done, and still needs a fair bit of polishing. I don't know exactly when it'll be done, but you definitely won't have to wait a year this time! In the meantime, here are some more replies.

    RGB: Very glad to hear it!

    SplendidTuesday: Good thoughts. The short answer is no, there wouldn't have been a Domesday Book at all, there being no need for it (or at least no perceived need for it) in Saxon England. William the Conqueror was trying to ascertain how much his new kingdom was worth, since he claimed ownership of the whole of it, as well as the right to apportion it out to whoever he wished. By contrast, Harold owned a great deal of land, but never claimed to own the whole country and its inhabitants as did William. The Saxon thegns of England were generally allowed to mind their own affairs unmolested, provided they gave their dues to the King. So no Domesday Book.

    Calipah: Indeed. We'll definitely be seeing more of old Stigand, and I don't expect he will change anytime soon.

  17. #77
    Crazy Reactionary crusaderknight's Avatar
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    A brilliant chapter, old friend, if I do say so myself! I greatly appreciated both the nobility and irony of Harold's attitude towards both Matilda and her departed husband. And Stigand's sermon was something else again! From a purely theological standpoint, it is certainly not the way a man of the cloth should speak in the pulpit. But then again, Stigand is much more of a politician than a genuine man of the cloth, and as such he truly understands the ways of propaganda, and that was an excellent propaganda speech. Very well written update, sir. I am eager awaiting the next chapter!
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  18. #78
    Sorry to bump this, but I was wondering if you had another update in the works. As evidenced by my comments, I'd love to see more of this story, I've read it completely at least twice (maybe more, I don't remember).

    So are you busy, or ready to pump out another Aethellan chapter?

  19. #79
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    crusaderknight: Thank you very much, my friend! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope you'll be back for more once I'm able to get another update posted.

    SplendidTuesday: Thank you for sticking around despite my random absences. Yes, I do have more in the works, and hopefully I'll have a chapter for you soon. For now, see below...

    ANNOUNCEMENT:

    Dear Readers, I must apologize once again for the dearth of new updates. I recently moved across the country to start graduate school (MA in history on the path to a PhD), so as you can imagine I've been a bit preoccupied. I assure you though, I do have several partly-written updates in the works.

    For the meantime, however, I felt I owed it to everyone to provide a bit of extra information on the many Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse terms that I've used so far (and will continue to use) in this story. After all, a lot of unfamiliar terminology goes with the territory here.

    As such, I will be providing the readers with three additional resources:

    1. a Glossary of all the old or unfamiliar vocabulary words in the text, with short explanations and pronunciation guides for each.

    2. a Gazetteer of unfamiliar place-names, explaining the significance of each to the story.

    3. an Index of all the characters in the story, historical and fictional, major and minor, with a summary of their role in the story to that point.

    You can consider each of these to be a sort of self-perpetuating historical interim update. I figured I'd get an early start on this so that I wouldn't have such a daunting task later down the line. I'll be updating these resources from time to time as is warranted by the story. I've already completed the glossary entries for the first two updates, and I'll be posting those momentarily, with the other resources (and hopefully an update!) coming in the next few weeks.

    As always, I thank you for following this story and heartily appreciate your comments.

  20. #80
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    GLOSSARY


    ænglisc: [ÄNG-LISH] (Old English) Literally Old “English,” more specifically the language of the Anglo-Saxons and the demonymic term they used to refer to themselves.

    ætheling: [ÄH-THE-LING] (Old English) A member of the highest class of Anglo-Saxon nobility, specifically any young man eligible for the kingship. The term appears to have been restricted to those whose royal descent could be traced to within the last seven generations, though in later times it came to reference the reigning king's descendants exclusively. In a wider sense the term could also be interpreted to mean simply "a good, noble man."

    burh: [BURCHH] (Old English) A fortified Anglo-Saxon settlement. These ranged from simple palisades to large hill forts with complex embankments and other fortifications. Burhs were extremely important as emergency refuges for the populace. Their function gradually changed from a military to an administrative and commercial one, and thus they are the distant ancestors of the modern borough.

    ceorl: [CHURL] (Old English) An Anglo-Saxon middle-class freeman. Each ceorl generally owned at least one hide of his own land which he used to provide for his family through subsistence farming. If a ceorl prospered until he possessed five hides of developed land, he was considered worthy to be a thegn.

    earl: [URL] (Modern English, from Old English eorl). See jarl.

    fyrd: [FÜRD] (Old English) The Anglo-Saxon military levy. In times of war, the thegns would call up militias composed of local ceorls to defend against invaders. These fyrdmen were expected to provide their own arms and provisions, so the quality of these troops varied widely. They were most commonly equipped with spears, shields and occasionally lighter armor.

    hide: [HIDE] (Modern English, from Old English hid) The standard Anglo-Saxon measurement of land. One hide was the amount of land required to sustain one family for one year through subsistence farming. The size of a hide varied based on the fertility of the soil in the shire where it was located.

    húskarl: [HOOSE-CARL] (Old Norse) A household retainer, soldier and/or personal bodyguard of either a Norse or an Anglo-Saxon king or noble. Known as huscarls in Anglo-Saxon England and as housecarls today. First introduced to England during the Viking invasions, by 1066 the king had thousands of them in his service. They were infamous for wielding deadly two-handed axes and for their steadfast loyalty to their sworn lords.

    jarl: [YARL] (Old Norse) A powerful Norse lord or chieftain ruling over a sizable portion of the realm. Called eorls or earls in Anglo-Saxon England, the title was first introduced there by the Danish King Cnut. Roughly equivalent to a duke in rank and power.

    more danico: [MORE-EH DAHN-EE-CO] (Latin) Literally meaning "in the Danish fashion." The term refers to a traditional Germanic-style marriage according to Norse customary law. Provided a loophole whereby a man could be married to more than one wife (being married to one wife more danico and then to a second in a Christian ceremony) since the Church did not recognize secular or "common" marriages. Occasionally involved the practice known as handfasting.

    mynster: [MÜN-STER] (Old English) Originally meaning simply a monastery or church where a monastic rule was followed, the term grew to refer to any important church that had grown from monastic origins and/or one that had received a royal charter.

    reeve: [REEVE] (Modern English, from Old English gerefa) An important royal official with certain administrative responsibilities. Different types of reeves fulfilled different obligations: high-reeves functioned as lesser earls, shire-reeves maintained order in the shires to which they were assigned, and village-reeves were elected by their local communities to serve as town elders. There were also port-reeves, burh-reeves, hundred-reeves and others.

    staller: [STALL-ER] (Old Norse) A regional marshal or prefect. First introduced to England by Cnut, the title means "Master of Stables," possibly referring to a role in mustering royal armies. They apparently had multiple administrative and military responsibilities during late Anglo-Saxon times. There were perhaps a dozen stallers serving during the reigns of Edward the Confessor and Harold Godwinson.

    thegn: [THANE] (Old English) An Anglo-Saxon nobleman. Thegns varied in rank depending on how much land they owned and on how closely they were connected to the king by oaths of fealty. For instance, a king’s sworn thegn would be more influential than an earl’s or bishop’s thegn, or another thegn’s thegn. All thegns had various military and administrative responsibilities to fulfill for their lord and lands, including calling up the fyrd in wartimes.

    ut: [OOT] (Old English) The traditional Anglo-Saxon warcry, meaning “Out!” Chanted by the fyrd at the Battle of Hastings.

    víkingr: [VEE-KING-RR] (Old Norse) Did you really need to look up what a viking is? In all seriousness though, the Old Norse expression fara í víking originally meant simply “to go on an expedition.” Since these innocuous-sounding expeditions often ended up involving marauding or pillaging, the term víkingr eventually came to mean a seafaring warrior or pirate. The term refers specifically to those Scandinavians who went on sea-raids, and not to the inhabitants of that region as a whole, despite the fact that the vast majority of Scandinavians encountered by the English were likely to be vikings.

    witena ġemōt: [WIH-TEN-AH YEH-MOTE] (Old English) The Anglo-Saxon council of elders, often shortened simply to “the Witan.” Essentially an assembly of all the high-ranking nobility and clergy of the realm, it functioned as an advisory body to the king. When the king died, it fell to the Witan to elect a successor from among the viable candidates. Their decisions were rarely impartial.

    wyvern: [WHY-VERN] (Modern English, from Old French wivre) A legendary winged creature. Similar to dragons, wyverns were more serpentine and generally differed in imagery by having only one pair of legs instead of two. The royal emblem of Anglo-Saxon England was a golden wyvern.

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