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Thread: Æthellan: A Tale of Kings

  1. #81
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    I can just see it!

    SAXONS: "Ut!"

    NORMANS: "Ut que?"

    SAXONS: "Ge' ut of here!"

    ---

    I like this glossary idea and may steal it.
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  2. #82
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    I like this glossary idea and may steal it.
    Lol. Please do.

    I'm still working on the gazetteer and the index. Might take me a bit, since I've got a midterm and a paper coming up this week.

  3. #83
    Well, I suppose Saxon vocab is better than nothing. Thanks, AlexanderPrimus.

  4. #84
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    GAZETTEER


    Ængland: [ÄNG-LAND] The Realm of Anglo-Saxon England. In olden times, the term most frequently used was the more lengthy Ænglaland. The truncated form Ængland utilized here is intended to represent a transition between the Old English term and our common modern one. The kingdom was first united in the wake of the Viking invasions by Alfred the Great and his descendants.

    Cantwaraburh: [CAHNT-WAH-RAH-BURCHH] Canterbury, Kent. The prime arch-episcopal see of the Realm of Ængland and a very important ecclesiastical site.

    Cantware: [CAHNT-WAH-REH] Kent, England. Also known as Cent. One of the most ancient of the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, originally settled by the Jutes; also the first to convert to Christianity. Formerly part of the Earldom of Westseaxe, but lately an independent earldom in its own right.

    Eastængla: [EH-AHST-ÄNG-LAH] East Anglia, England. An old Saxon and later Viking kingdom, now one of the great earldoms of Ængland.

    Eastseaxe: [EH-AHST-SEAX-EH] Essex, England. Formerly an independent kingdom and then an earldom, currently part of the Earldom of Eastængla.

    Fulfordgeat: [FULL-FORD-GE-AHT] Fulford Gate, Yorkshire. The place where the army of Earls Edwin and Morcar were spectacularly routed by Harald Hardrada's Norsemen.

    Hæstingas: [HÄST-ING-AHS] Hastings, Sussex. The site of the great and pivotal battle between King Harold and Duke William.

    Jórvík: [YORE-VICK] York, Yorkshire. Called Eoforwic by the Anglo-Saxons. The old capital of Northhymbraland, long beset by Viking warlords in former times. The city has become very Scandinavian in culture and language, and is thus more commonly known by its Norse name than its English one. Its large Norse population makes it a popular site for new Viking invasions, such as Hardrada's most recent attempt.

    Lunden: [LUN-DEN] London, England. The term represents a certain area of urban habitation on the River Thames, as well as each individual settlement there. The settlement established within the ruins of the old Roman city of Londinium (modern central London) was called Lundenburh, and the Saxon trading town established outside the ruins was called Lundenwic (modern Aldwych). The town is becoming a sort of symbolic ceremonial capital for Ængland.

    Mierce: [MEER-CHEH] Mercia, England. One of the most powerful earldoms of Ængland, formerly one of the most influential independent kingdoms of the early Anglo-Saxons.

    Northhymbraland: [NORTH-HÜM-BRA-LAHND] Northumbria, England. The northernmost and geographically largest Earldom in Ængland. With large portions of the region having formerly constituted the Viking Kingdom of Jórvík, it therefore has the largest population of people with Norse ancestry in Ængland, thus making it a frequent target of continuing Scandinavian invasion attempts.

    Santlache: [SANT-LAH-CHHEH] Senlac Hill, Sussex. The location of King Harold’s defensive position at the Battle of Hastings. The original Saxon name meant “sandy stream,” but after the battle the Normans called it Sanguelac, meaning “lake of blood.”

    Stængfordesbrycg: [STÄNG-FORD-EZ-BRÜDGE] Stamford Bridge, Yorkshire. The site of an epic battle in which King Harold of Ængland utterly defeated the invading Norse armies of Harald Hardrada.

    Suthseaxe: [SOOTH-SEAX-EH] Sussex, England. Once a kingdom in its own right, now part of the Earldom of Westseaxe. The original family lands of the House of Godwine.

    Westmynster: [WEST-MÜNSTER] Westminster, Greater London. The rapidly growing town that has sprung up around the abbey and palace established near London by King Edward the Confessor. It is very quickly becoming one of England’s most important ritual centers.

    Westseaxe: [WEST-SEAX-EH] Wessex, England. The ancestral lands of Ængland's traditional royal family, the House of Cerdic. Held as an Earldom by the Godwine family since the time of King Cnut. No other region is as politically or economically significant to the realm.

    Wintanceaster: [WIN-TAHN-CHÄSTER] Winchester, Hampshire. The ancient ancestral seat of the kingly family of Westseaxe and home to the royal treasury. It functions as an administrative capital of sorts for Ængland.

  5. #85
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    The unfrenchified names are just so...weighty. And so concentrated in South England.
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  6. #86
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGB View Post
    The unfrenchified names are just so...weighty. And so concentrated in South England.
    Well, you can definitely see the Germanic connection in the place names. As for the concentration in the south, these are just the places that have been mentioned so far. This will expand as the story progresses.

  7. #87
    Honourable Saxon Thegn AlexanderPrimus's Avatar
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    INDEX OF CHARACTERS

    *Asterisks indicate fictional interpretations of real historical figures.
    Characters without asterisks are entirely fictional.


    ENGLISH ROYALTY:

    *Edith Godwinsdatter: (1029- ) Dowager Queen of Ængland and widow of King Edward the Confessor. They married in 1045 as part of a political alliance between the King and her father, Earl Godwine. Currently the châtelaine of the royal treasury at Wintanceaster and guardian of King Edward's grandnieces and nephews. Childless and bitter. Also known as Edith of Westseaxe.

    *Edith Ravenhair: (1042- ) Christian wife of King Harold Godwinson--they married for a political alliance. The daughter of Earl Ælfgar of Mierce. The widow of King Gruffydd ap Llywelyn of Wales, by whom she has three children. Also has one son by King Harold. She is renowned for inheriting her father's fiery disposition. Also known as Edith of Mierce.

    *Edith Swanneck: (1031- ) More danico wife of King Harold Godwinson--they married for love. Together they have six children who have survived infancy. Elegant and demure, she is as renowned for her wisdom as she is for her beauty. Also known as Edith of Eastseaxe.

    *Harold Godwinson: (1022- ) King of Ængland as of 1066, formerly Earl of Westseaxe. The eldest surviving son of the infamous Earl Godwine. Ruthless in battle, shrewd in politics, magnanimous in victory. Defeated the Welsh in 1063 while still an Earl. Also defeated the invasions of Harald Hardrada and William the Bastard in 1066.


    ENGLISH NOBILITY:

    *Ealdred of Eoforwic: (998- ) Archbishop of Jórvík. A staunch supporter of the Godwine family. Often officiates in state ecclesiastical functions alongside Stigand, due to the controversy surrounding the latter's appointment.

    *Edwin Ælfgarson: (1044- ) Earl of Mierce. The elder son of the recalcitrant Earl Ælfgar of Mierce, appointed as his successor by King Edward in 1062. Badly defeated by the Norwegians at the Battle of Fulford Gate. Grandson of the famous Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva of Mierce.

    *Gyrth Godwinson: (1032- ) Earl of Eastængla. The eldest of Harold Godwinson’s remaining younger brothers. Has a hot temper and a fondness for hunting and battle. Reportedly unhorsed William the Bastard at Hæstingas.

    *Gytha Thorkelsdóttir: (1002- ) Widow of Earl Godwine of Westseaxe and mother of King Harold. Daughter of an important Danish jarl, she was married to Godwine to form a political alliance. Also aunt of King Svein of Denmark. Matron of Godwine's ancestral family estates in Bosanham.

    *Leofwine Godwinson: (1035- ) Earl of Cantware. Younger brother of Harold Godwinson. Known as the jester of the family because of his quick wit. Fought at Hæstingas alongside his brothers.

    *Morcar Ælfgarson: (1046- ) Earl of Northhymbraland. The younger son of Earl Ælfgar of Mierce. Chosen by the Northumbrian thegns and ratified by King Edward to succeed the deposed Earl Tostig in 1065. Badly defeated by the Norwegians alongside his brother Edwin at the Battle of Fulford Gate. Grandson of the famous Earl Leofric and Lady Godiva of Mierce.

    *Robert Fitz Wimarc: (1019- ) Shire-Reeve of Eastseaxe and one of the Royal Stallers. A Norman kinsman of Edward the Confessor; also one of his political favorites, present at that king's death. Remained loyal to King Harold despite the invasion of his kinsman Duke William. Known for his prudence and acumen.

    *Stigand of Cantwaraburh: (1002- ) Archbishop of Cantwaraburh. The primate of England and an important advisor to the King. Very shrewd politically. His appointment is controversial due to a lack of papal approval.


    ENGLISH COMMON FOLK:

    Eadred of Beorhthelmestun: (1026- ) Formerly a ceorl from the Godwine ancestral family lands in Suthseaxe. One of King Harold’s sworn men, carried his royal banner at the Battle of Hæstingas. Granted enough lands in reward for his valor at Hæstingas to earn him an elevation to thegn.

    Freyr Halfdane: (1040- ) One of Harold Godwinson's housecarls. Son of a Danish father and an English mother, hence his epithet.

    Brother Jehan of Elig: (1042- ) A young monk, assigned to carry the captured papal banner after Hæstingas. He let it go to his head.

    Lulla of Lundenwic: (1052- ) Local bully and cutpurse on the streets of Lunden. Has a small gang of hoodlums, including Wulfgar Cuthbertson. Not known for his loyalty.

    Tofi of Bosanham: (1034- ) Loyal housecarl of King Harold and his father Godwine before him. Has a loose tongue.

    Wulfgar Cuthbertson: (1056- ) A young thegn’s son, recently orphaned. Fallen on rather hard times. Currently a pickpocket on the streets of Lunden.


    OTHERS:

    *Matilda of Flanders: (1031- ) Duchess of Normandy and widow of William the Bastard. Very petite, but nevertheless quite strong-willed. Traveled to Ængland following Hæstingas to reclaim her husband’s remains.

    *Richard Longsword: (1054- ) Middle son of William the Bastard and Matilda of Flanders. Lacks both his elder brother's fanatical hatred of his father, and his younger brother's fanatical devotion to the same. Often referred to by his contemporaries as "the quiet brother."

    *Robert Curthose: (1051- ) Eldest son of William the Bastard and Matilda of Flanders. Did not get along with his father. Claims William’s title of Duke of Normandy, but whether he can successfully assert this claim remains to be seen.

    *William Rufus: (1056- ) Youngest son of William the Bastard and Matilda of Flanders. Has fiery red hair and a ruddy complexion. Accompanied his mother to reclaim his father’s remains. Blames Harold Godwinson for his father’s untimely death.


    DECEASED CHARACTERS:

    *Edward the Confessor: (1003-1066) King of Ængland from 1042-1066. The last surviving son of King Æthelred the Unready. Known for his piety. Married to Edith Godwinsdatter and thus heavily influenced by the Godwine family. Died of old age, without issue.

    *Harald Hardrada: (1015-1066) King of Norway from 1047-1066. An infamous warlord, known for elaborately creative cruelty. Led a Viking invasion of Ængland as part of his bid to seize the country. Defeated and killed at the Battle of Stængfordesbrycg by Harold Godwinson.

    *Ralph de Guader: (1040-1066) Son of Ralph the Staller, one of Edward the Confessor's Breton favorites. Rebelled against King Harold along with his father when William of Normandy invaded. Captured following the Norman defeat at Hæstingas and executed by order of King Harold for breaking his oath of fealty to the crown.

    *Tostig Godwinson: (1026-1066) Earl of Northhymbraland from 1055-1066. Younger brother of Harold Godwinson. The sternest, most heavy-handed of the brothers. Expelled by his people for abusing his authority. Officially deposed and outlawed for his crimes by King Edward the Confessor, at the urging of his own brother Earl Harold. Returned in 1066 with the Norwegian invasion fleet only to be slain at the Battle of Stængfordesbrycg alongside his ally, Harald Hardrada.

    *William the Bastard: (1028-1066) Duke of Normandy from 1035-1066. Illegitimate son of Duke Robert the Devil and a tanner's daughter. Cruel, clever and ruthless, dominated northern France for over a decade. Invaded Ængland to press a tenuous claim to the throne. Killed by Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hæstingas.

  8. #88
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    London's grimy 1066 underbelly, represented by an accidental rake and a born hoodlum. I approve.
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  9. #89
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    Frynd sind on eorþan, leofe lifgende, leger weardiað, þonne ic on uhtan ana gonge under actreo geond þas eorðscrafu.
    þær ic sittan mot sumorlangne dæg, þær ic wepan mæg mine wræcsiþas…


    "There are lovers on earth, lovers alive who lie in bed, when I pass through this earth-cave alone and out under the oak tree at dawn;
    there I must sit through the long summer's day, and there I mourn my miseries..."
    – excerpt from The Wife's Lament, Anglo-Saxon elegy

    Chapter III: OF GALLOWS AND GENTLE SWANS



    The Royal Hall at Westmynster, first erected by Edward the Confessor, the site of thousands of royal feasts.


    26 December 1066
    Westmynster, Ængland

    It was the Feast Day of St. Stephen, the day after Christmas, and all Ængland rejoiced. Their energetic new king was only a year into his reign, and he had already managed to fend off two foreign invasions, killing both the dreaded Hardrada of Norway and his ill-born Norman counterpart in the process. It was certainly a day worth celebrating for all good Ænglish folk.

    However, amidst the elated throng there were a few individuals who did not rejoice. The townsfolk pelted the condemned men with rotten vegetables as they were dragged past them to the gallows. Most were solemn and dejected, but one brazen prisoner had the nerve to shout back at the mob.

    Ralph de Guader had been an important man, a wealthy landowner and one of Ængland’s most prominent thegns. He was also a traitor, or so everyone said. It was all so foolish: his trial before the Ænglish king, his imprisonment by Ænglish guards, his impending execution in front of Ænglish commoners—it was all just a cruel jest of fate, for the simple reason that Ralph was not an Ænglishman. By birth, he was a Breton.

    When Duke William’s army had arrived two months before, Ralph and his father had gone over to the invaders to help overthrow the House of Godwine. They had failed miserably. His father had been killed in the fighting, hewn down by a housecarl’s axe; Ralph himself had managed to survive the battle, only to be captured by the king’s men and tried for treason. The gallows loomed above as Ralph and his captors neared the town square, where one of the king’s reeves would be waiting to publicly denounce him before the masses for his “crimes.” A spoiled cabbage struck Ralph on the head and tattered bits of the vegetable clung to his hair. Someone in the crowd shouted an unintelligible obscenity. Smug Ænglish vermin. But as he stumbled up the rickety wooden steps of the gallows, Ralph de Guader saw that his accuser was not just another bloviating Anglo-Saxon windbag, for the hardened face that greeted him atop the platform belonged to Robert Fitz Wimarc, the Shire-Reeve of Eastseaxe. A Norman.

    So this was how Harold Godwinson was going to play it.



    Robert Fitz Wimarc, Shire-Reeve of Eastseaxe (Essex) and one of the king’s stallers, or constables.


    Ralph was not the only foreign nobleman in Ængland. There had once been a great many of them: Lotharingians, Bretons and Normans brought back to Ængland by the venerable King Edward at his return from a quarter of a century of exile in Normandy. The old man had felt more at home among his French favourites, including Ralph’s father, so they were given lands, titles, wealth and great prestige at court as the king’s boon companions and friends.

    Earl Godwine had managed to oust several of them through clever political manoeuvring, but the most trustworthy and influential still remained. They were unmolested by King Harold despite his father’s policies, though that did not mean that Edward’s old favourites had to like the fact that one of Godwine’s sons was their new liege.

    “Ralph of Guader, known by some as ‘de Gaël!’” barked Fitz Wimarc, his voice solemn and imperious, “For attempting to overthrow your sworn king, you have been found guilty of treason! Your lands and wealth are forfeit to the crown, and you stand condemned to death! Do you have any final words?”

    Ralph’s face was a mask of indifference, hiding the intense fear and regret that was wracking him inwardly. He was already going to lose his life; he would not sacrifice his dignity as well by begging for clemency he would not receive.

    “You’re the real traitor,” he grunted, as a black-cowled hangman placed the noose roughly around his neck.

    “My hands are clean of your blood.,” Fitz Wimarc answered harshly, his voice barely above a whisper, “You should all have listened to me when I warned you that this would happen.”

    “Some warning,” scoffed Ralph. The arrogant fool had actually sent a personal missive to Duke William, informing him that he and his men would be put down like mongrel dogs if they persisted in the invasion of Ængland. The Duke had read Fitz Wimarc’s letter publicly to his soldiers. The whole army had laughed scornfully at the time; now the only one laughing was Fate. Such cruel jests she played!

    Ralph cast his eyes toward the King’s Hall, where Harold himself was watching the spectacle from the terrace, his arms folded. There was no hate in the King’s face, just a cold ruthlessness that Ralph found even more unsettling. He had pleaded for amnesty along with the other Norman survivors from Haestingas, but King Harold had singled him out for execution personally, along with a few other unlucky souls. There was no doubt that it was because of his broken oaths.

    “So,” growled Ralph, “I am to be made an example then? Of the King’s most equitable justice?”

    “You and I both,” said Fitz Wimarc, “But you earned your fate.”

    Brûle en enfer,” spat Ralph in retort.

    “Perhaps,” said Robert, “But you first.” He motioned to the executioner, who roughly forced a woollen hood over Ralph’s head.

    At least he would be the first to go. There’d be no long wait pissing himself in terror while he watched the others twitch on the end of a rope.

    “I am... no traitor,” choked Ralph, his voice hoarse as the hangman tightened the noose.

    Then someone gave the Breton a hard shove, and the darkness took him.



    ***


    Edith Swanneck stared down at the trencher before her. It was filled with the finest cuts of venison, befitting her station as the wife of the King, but the greasy meat didn’t seem especially appealing. She picked up a small purplish carrot, holding it between her thumb and forefinger. Having studied the scrawny vegetable for a moment, she dropped it back to the table. It was no use, she just wasn’t hungry.

    She glanced down the table to Harold. As usual, her husband was distracted, surrounded by his brothers and his new brothers-in-law as they discussed the affairs of state that were to be dealt with in a few days at the Witan.

    She frowned, and resisted the temptation to put her hand to her forehead. People would notice her ill temperament. During the celebration she had to play the part of a gracious hostess, but she felt slightly ill after witnessing the traitors’ deaths. She had always secretly disapproved of public executions. They turned her stomach and left unwanted images in her mind for days afterward. That was just what she didn’t need; it would merely add to the malaise she was already feeling. She broke off a tiny piece of bread and put it to her lips. It tasted dry and bland, just like how she felt at the moment.

    The rough tales of Harold’s loud-voiced housecarls were carrying. Edith tried not to listen but she had nothing else contending for her attention.

    “’Ow ‘bout that lass ‘is Lordship was chattin’ up in Jórvíkscir last summer?” said the tall, longhaired warrior called Freyr Halfdane, “She were a bit of alright, weren’t she?”

    “Ooh, you should’ve seen ‘er!” answered his companion, a jovial West Saxon known as Tofi. “She was more well-favoured than a milch-cow after calving!”

    “Wish I had our ‘Arold’s good fortune!” continued Freyr.

    “That and ‘is good looks, rich lands and coffers of silver, I’ll wager!” laughed Tofi.

    “Yeah. So...?”

    “So what?”

    “Did he... you know, did he swive her?”

    “’Ow the ‘ell should I know? ‘E’s the King, for Christ’s sake! ‘E can swive whatever bit of ol’ crumpet ‘e wants, can’t ‘e, but he don’t hang about tellin’ me, do ‘e?!”

    “Right, ‘course he can. ‘E’s well-belov’d of the ladies, is our ‘Arold! Well, Tofi, ‘ow ‘bout you then? Would you ‘ave swived her?”

    “Are you ‘avin’ a jest? ‘Course I would’ve! She was lyin’ more fallow than any field in Ængland! Any man worth his stones would’ve gone a-plowin’!”

    Neither saw the stern visage of Thegn Eadred looming behind them. He may have been the recent recipient of a royal promotion, but that didn’t make him look any less menacing.



    Thegn Eadred was not known as the most even-tempered of men.


    “You there! Tofi!” he snarled, “And you Freyr, you big, half-Danish scittecarl! I heard that! You’d best shut your bleedin’ mead-holes! Don’t you know that there are ladies present at this flamin’ dinner? You’ll offend the ears of the King’s woman, you will!”

    Eadred’s intentions were noble, but his manner was something less than remedial. Being referred to as “the King’s woman” certainly did nothing to alleviate Edith’s moodiness. She felt strangely infuriated at the men’s crude jokes. She tried to reason with herself, noting that she had heard many similar stories over the years, but today the words were striking a rough chord.

    Her stomach took another turn for the worse. Rising swiftly to her feet, Edith strode out of the feasting hall with as much decorum as she could muster.



    ***


    Later that afternoon, Edith cursed under her breath as the needle pricked her finger again. Her mother-in-law, Gytha, looked up sharply from her seat nearby. “Honestly Edith, haven’t you learned to keep your tongue in check yet? Surely you would make a soldier blush!”

    Not looking up, Edith rolled her eyes as she found her place again in her stitching. Sighing, she put her hands in her lap, they were of no use to her today anyway. She eyed Gytha warily, but having no one else to talk to, she breached the subject that was weighing so heavily on her mind. “Do you think it foolish to be jealous of your husband’s other wife?”

    “Oh, come now!” scolded Gytha, “You’re not worried about her new babe are you?”

    “Perhaps a little bit. Not exactly. I suppose I’m more concerned about how Harold treats that Ravenhair woman. Do you... do you suppose he loves her?”

    “Love!” Gytha scoffed. “What is love in a marriage anyway? Do you think there was any love lost between me and that old schemer Godwine? And think of my poor daughter! Do you think she ever got one bit of love from the impotent old fool she was shackled to for all those years?”

    Edith had nothing to say to that. Her sister-in-law, yet another woman named Edith, had been the consort of the elderly King Edward the Confessor. She had been cloistered away in official mourning ever since his death. It was an open secret that the woman was as bitter about it as wormwood.

    “No,” continued Gytha, “You, my dear Edith are one of the lucky ones. You have already tasted of love. This other woman, she has not--at least, not before Harold--and he will love her because she has borne him another man-child. In such times as these a good man cannot have too many sons, least of all a king. But you know that Harold loved you with all his soul before you ever bore him a son. Be grateful for that.”

    Edith frowned, resenting the old woman’s chiding. She was grateful for what she and Harold shared. It was a miracle and a blessing to have a husband such as him. Trust and loyalty were very rare qualities indeed, especially in men as popular and successful as Harold Godwinson. He had always had his pick of the women and yet he had always chosen her. Until his other Edith, that is.

    She understood the difficult situation that her husband had been placed in, but really, he was still such a man! She and Harold had been married in the traditional more danico, the Danish manner, with a handfasting ceremony outside of the Christian Church. Therefore, in the eyes of the Church, Harold was still free to marry another woman, and when the political expediency to marry Edith Ravenhair had arisen, he had not hesitated long enough. “Such a man!” Edith thought again.

    His wedding night to Edith Ravenhair was the worst night of Edith Swanneck’s life. She was awake all night, as if straining to hear any possible noises that might arise from the new couple’s marriage bed despite their distance at the time, far away to the north in Jórvík. By the time Harold had returned home again three weeks later, Edith could barely contain herself as she waited in her room, hoping against hope that Harold would come in to her and declare his new bride to be a boar in the bedchamber. She had waited in vain, for Harold never spoke a word about the nights he spent with his other wife. Edith could only imagine his joy at being with such a beautiful young woman, barely more than half Edith’s own age and brimming with youthful vigor. Of course Harold had never complained, but oh how Edith wished he would!



    As she sat, needlework in her unmoving fingers, she remembered the joy in Harold’s face when it was announced that Edith Ravenhair had finally given birth to a healthy baby boy. Jumping from his chair and nearly tripping over the dog, he had rushed from the room to greet both the new child and the boy's happy mother. The gifts Harold had bestowed on the woman hadn’t bothered Edith; she had received gifts of her own upon the birth of each child. But rather, it was the gentle kiss on the forehead that she had glimpsed Harold give to the dark-haired woman. It was the smallest of gestures perhaps, but it was still a gesture filled with all the tenderness of a husband’s feelings, and a measure of affection that Edith treasured receiving from Harold herself. It wounded her deeply to see him give it to another.

    Across the room Edith’s eldest daughter was chattering about the new babe, whom Harold had proudly named Harold Haroldson. At thirteen, the girl was old enough to know the difficulties Edith had with her husband’s other wife, and yet still young enough to appreciate the joys of a new baby in the house, especially during the Christmas festivities. Edith tried to feel happy for Harold too, but all she felt was a headache coming on instead.

    ***


    Edith had finally retired for the evening, relieved for a rest from her excruciatingly long day. She was pulling the comb through her long, golden hair when she was surprised by the familiar tap on the door and the quiet entrance of her husband. With his warrior’s mustache well-groomed and his chin freshly scraped, he gave her his usual adoring smile. Edith knew how much he loved it when she let her tresses down. Coming up behind her without a word, he took the carved whalebone comb from her hand and gently pulled it through her soft, flowing locks.

    For a brief moment, Edith felt at peace--as if everything was right with the world. She allowed her eyes to close as the comb massaged her head, and felt her heart beat to Harold’s tender touch. Opening her eyes, she remembered that everything was not alright. With a sad sigh, she stood up and pulled away, the despondent emotion unmasked on her tired face.

    “Why my dear Edith, what is wrong? Are you feeling unwell?”

    Edith didn’t know how to approach the subject gnawing at her without appearing petty, silly, and jealous, all of which she felt were probably true descriptions of her at the moment. “I feel... I feel uneasy with that woman in the house.”

    “That woman? Which woman?” Could he really be that oblivious?

    “Your other wife... your other Edith.” She turned away, ashamed at the blood that had risen in her cheeks and the tears threatening her eyes.

    Harold sat down in front of the hearth, not entirely surprised by Edith’s words. He sighed, obviously not sure how to answer. “Edith, you know you have always been my gentle swan, the one who knows me best and has shared my life. Surely you must know that of all my possessions, your affections are my greatest treasure?”

    Edith shook her head. She wasn’t sure of anything any more.

    “Darling, be relaxed and happy that for the next few months I am completely yours. I will come to your room every night if you wish it.”

    “For the next few months?” Edith’s emotions spilled out in a rush of words, “Just until she has recovered from giving birth then? How am I to know that when we are together in passion and you call out my name, that you aren’t really thinking of your other Edith? How can I ever measure up to a woman half my age? But sharing you at night isn’t the hardest part. I know that it was necessary for you to marry her, but is it also necessary for you to love her? I thought... I thought that you had already given your heart to me.” She turned away, unable to look into his face.



    Harold might be king and conqueror, but in the bedroom he was just an ordinary man.

    “I never meant to hurt you,” he said softly.

    Intuitively, he pulled Edith into a familiar embrace and ever so carefully began to take down her defences with his compelling kisses to the back of her swan-like neck. The questions wouldn’t go away, but for tonight at least, she could let him make her forget.

    ***

  10. #90
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Ha, so this is our long-waited update!
    Problems of a Queen!

    What traits do our main characters possess?

  11. #91
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    Silly danes and their polygamy.

    Also, a nit pick. Wasn't it the other way around with the hangings? The hood was put on first, and then the noose to ensure the hood wouldn't fall off during the "dance", wasn't it?
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    Excellent start! Now, time to catch up and see what happens with good oldie Harold!

    PS: Now I remember having started to read the first installment, but I can't rmember why stopped, althought I suspect that RL had something to do with it.
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  13. #93
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    Well, read the three chapters. Let's hope that the writer's block vanishes soon and the story moves forward in a faster way, because it's awfully interesting.
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  14. #94
    Great update, Alexander! I especially like the duality of Norman executioners and Norman traitors in the English realm. Very much a carrot-and-stick approach, isn't it?

  15. #95
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    Enewald: Yep. I hope you liked it. There was actually another part that I was working on as well, but I felt the update was long enough as it was, so I'm saving the unfinished part for next time.

    As for the character traits, whose would you like to know? Here are a couple of the major players:
    Harold Godwinson is a knowledged tactician, and is amiable, generous, just, lustful, merciful, romantic, reckless, and valorous.
    Edith Swanneck has a silver tongue, and is modest, temperate, stressed and wise.
    The late William of Normandy was a brilliant strategist and a bastard, as well as being cruel, energetic, hostile, pragmatic, proud, selfish, valorous, and vengeful.

    Vesimir: Indeed. The more danico does tend to cause a lot of grief, especially with the Catholic Church. (Old King Cnut did manage to get by with it scot-free, though. Granted it created a big rivalry after his death between the sons of the different wives...)

    Regarding the very good point you bring up about the hanging, I think that the majority of medieval hangings probably played out exactly as you described. Whether the Anglo-Saxons would have done it that way is hard to say, considering that in all my preparatory research for this update I was only able to find confirmation that they did indeed hang people on occasion. Whether they used hoods at all, or indeed nooses as we understand them, I couldn't say.

    But what about this particular execution then? The way I portrayed it, the hangman sort of plops the noose around Ralph's neck, fumbles with the hood for a moment before putting it on him, and then awkwardly tightens the noose around the hood. Is he inexperienced then? Or is he deliberately messing with the execution, perhaps on someone else's orders? I wouldn't be surprised if the executioner also happened to be continental like Ralph and Robert, by the way.

    Kurt_Steiner: Thanks for the compliment, and glad to have you on board, old friend! Regarding writer's block... I hope to have overcome it. I'm enjoying writing this story quite a bit.

    SplendidTuesday: Thanks very much. You do bring up a good point. Harold is making quite the political statement here by having a loyal Norman lord execute the Anglo-Norman traitors.

    *Oh, and I have a small announcement:
    I expect to have an interim update on the political situation of alternate England soon, with at least a map of the earldoms and a picture or two. What else would everybody like to see in such an interim?

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    I'd like to see France in the interim too. No norman england means Normandy stays French which means the long anglo-french wars won't take place. In fact, I think that by saving England from normans, Europe would be doomed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vesimir View Post
    I'd like to see France in the interim too. No norman england means Normandy stays French which means the long anglo-french wars won't take place. In fact, I think that by saving England from normans, Europe would be doomed.
    Okay, I can do that. What about France would you like to see? The only differences there from the original timeline that will have changed so far would be a result of William's premature death. You are correct that the "Hundred Years War" and the other Anglo-French conflicts wouldn't occur in this timeline (though whether the English and the French can ever get along is another matter).

    Your last point is especially intriguing. If I understand you correctly, you're saying that without having the British Isles to ravage, the Normans will eventually go rampaging elsewhere in Europe? I must admit that such an idea had crossed my mind...

  18. #98
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    Well, without Normandy getting too powerful, Brittany would remain a bit calmer -as the rest of France- and the French noblemen wouldn't feel compelled to attack Normandy from time to time.

    But not having Bill the Bastard means no White Tower!
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  19. #99
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kurt_Steiner View Post
    Well, without Normandy getting too powerful, Brittany would remain a bit calmer -as the rest of France- and the French noblemen wouldn't feel compelled to attack Normandy from time to time.

    But not having Bill the Bastard means no White Tower!
    Yeah, Brittany would definitely not have to worry about Norman interference any more, at least in the short term. In fact, Duke Conan of Brittany has survived in this timeline, since in real life he was poisoned on William's orders in December 1066, so that gives the Bretons a leg up. As for Normandy's neighbors no longer feeling compelled to attack them... I don't imagine they'd really be as obliging as all that, given the power vacuum that now exists there without William.

    And yes, without King William there'll be no White Tower, no Domesday Book, no Harrying of the North...

  20. #100
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    What you said and more. The Normans would either turn their eyes somewhere else, or even go south and join up with the Sicilian normans. And the second thing is that, with Normandy being a vassal of France (A real vassal, not like what happened in RL with William being a vassal and a king at the same time.), France would be stronger. The anglo-french conflicts wouldn't happen making France even stronger. In overall, France will be able to expand much sooner because no one will be bothering it.

    I'd like to see an overwiev of Britanny and Normandy as those are the regions that changed the most. Also, a quick description of the Capets thoughts on the failed invasion and such.
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