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Koweth

Second Lieutenant
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Apr 26, 2022
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east anglia aar.png


PREFACE​





Hey all! After taking a break from paradox games in general for a while, I finally decided to boot up CK3 and play the Anglo-Saxons for the first time. For this playthrough, I decided to choose King Edmund of the East Angles to provide a rather interesting experience with being wedged between the Catholic Kings of the South and the Vikings of the North. I believe it to be a rather interesting experience. Most of the history has either been recorded by screenshots of events (ran out of space on my computer at least twice from screenshots, crazy!) or through quickly scribbling down notes on my phone, so there will be a bit of creativity in the retelling of the story, but I suppose this makes this AAR even more authentic. :p

For clarification, this AAR isn’t solely focused on East Anglia as a realm, but more on the landed primary successors to King Edmund himself, as the dynasty expands and the borders of England constantly change. I might make this more than just a solely CK3 AAR, going into EU4 and beyond, but for now, it'll just be for CK3.

In relation to my first and previous AAR (my guilt needs me to write this), and as are the dangers of having your first AAR be a megacampaign, I lost steam halfway through and took too long on picking it back up, with the game crashing every time I open it back up. For this, I apologise to anyone who had an interest in that AAR. To pace myself and not burn out, I will be posting these just about every week – with the exemption of the first two parts, since the first lacks some substance, and the second is all about the most important guy – Edmund!

Getting that out of the way, I do hope you find my retelling as interesting as I found it playing the game. :)

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I. ORIGINS

I. ORIGINS​



Supposedly, the roots of the East Anglian Dynasty originate in the popular revolt against the Mercian King Beornwulf, led by the first of the dynasty - Æthelstan. Despite this claim, the heritage of later monarchs, such as King Eadmund is unknown, and can only be assumed to be descendants of Æthelstan. Little is recorded of this tumultuous time in the history of the East Angles, but the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle provides a scarce mention of an East Anglian King who sought an alliance with the victorious Ecgberht of Wessex, and within the year of 823, Beornwulf of Mercia was slain. The same fate befell that of Beornwulf’s successor, Ludeca – presumably by the very same Æthelstan in 825.


mercian supremacy map.jpg

Map of the Mercian Supremacy, c. 716 – c. 825

The Mercians could no longer contest Æthelstan’s rebellion, with Ludeca’s successor – Wiglaf – fleeing after being defeated by King Ecgberht, who then conquered the Mercian realm in 827. While Wiglaf had restored his throne the following year, there remains no mention of him pursuing a conquest of East Anglia. Upon Æthelstan’s death, his successor, Æthelweard – scarcely mentioned in documentation – ascended to the East Anglian throne. Due to the devastation wrought by the Great Heathen Army’s invasion of the Kingdom, much history is lost on East Anglian Kings prior to 870. It is known, however, that Æthelweard had passed away sometime in 854, which Eadmund had succeeded to the throne of in December of that year.


18011_44_1.jpg
Coinage of King Æthelstan of the East Angles, c. 823 (?) – c. 845


 
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East Anglian history is interesting stuff! I was hoping this would be longer, but unfortunately, those darn Vikings had destroyed much of the evidence of the kings and their histories in their pillaging. This was also the first time I had gone and read the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, and I must say, it’s a very good read! Stay tuned. :)
 
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II. KING EADMUND OF THE EAST ANGLES (1 of 2)

II. KING EADMUND OF THE EAST ANGLES, PART ONE​

Eadmund, King of the East Angles
eadmund of the east angles.png

II. Eadmund Beginning.png


While scarce information is known about the invasion itself, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle has this entry:

“A.D 867. This year the army rode over Mercia into East-Anglia, and there fixed their winter-quarters at Thetford. And in the spring King Eadmund fought with them, in which the East-Angles gained the victory; but at great cost, as the Danes had slew his brother. The name of his brother was Osweald…”

More light is shed on the ensuing conflict, with the Chronicle mentioning four battles of comparable importance occurring in East Anglia and the surrounding Fenlands as far as Mercia, with significant monarchs, notably Ælfred the Great of Wessex and Burghred of Mercia, both pledging fyrds to East Anglia’s defence.

anglo saxon chronicel.jpg

Page of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

East Anglia, thanks to the efforts of Eadmund’s strategic prowess, and his powerful, but short-time West Saxon allies, was spared from the Great Heathen Army’s conquest. However, the land was ravaged. With monasteries burned and villages pillaged, much of East Anglia’s tumultuous 9th-century history was lost. While East Anglia may have been successful in the defence of their realm, the same cannot be said for those north of the River Nene. The East Angles had only defeated a contingent of the Pagan onslaught, notably the armies led by the mythical Ivar ‘the Boneless.’ Mercia, particularly, had borne the brunt of the Great Heathen Army, and in their defeat, lost much of their eastern lands to the Danes. This land came to be known as the ‘Five Boroughs,’ consisting of Derby, Leicester, Lincoln, Nottingham and Stamford respectively. The Mercians would never see these lands returned as an independent kingdom.

The victories against the Great Heathen Army granted little but a short amount of reprieve from the Norse onslaught. Far outnumbered by the victorious northern army of the Danes, Eadmund had sent his firstborn son, the 1-month-old Æthelric to be a hostage of the Norse King of Northumbria, Halfdan Ragnarsson in late-September of 871.

athelric hostage.png

While such unfortunate circumstances presented themselves to the King of the East Angles, progress was made in affirming a more long-term relationship with the West Saxons. Eadmund’s trusted diplomatic adviser, Beorhtric, had created a more amicable environment between the two monarchies, with both Ælfred and Eadmund convening in Winchester to forge a more unified front against repeated Northmen invasions. A little over a week later, Eadmund had pledged his nephew’s – the late Osweald’s son – future education in Ælfred’s hands. In the following nine months, a firm alliance was established between the West Saxons and the Angles, with the joint Anglo-Saxon (aha!) victory against the Norse raid of Colchester in September of 872, and the subsequent betrothal of Eadmund’s second son, Beorn, and Ælfred’s daughter, Osburh in November affirming the practicality of such an alliance.

While providing Æthelric as a hostage to the Northmen may have achieved short-term goals of peace, it proved more troublesome to Eadmund by 873. As long as King Ragnarsson held his son hostage, he had all the cards. Any declaration of war – even to support his West Saxon allies – would result in a swift execution for the young Ætheling. When a call to arms was given to Eadmund by Ælfred in early-January of 875, in defence of southern England against the Northmen, Eadmund chose to sacrifice his son in favour of the alliance with Wessex. Expectedly, Æthelric was executed by Ragnarsson’s men six months before his fourth birthday.

athelric execution.png

On the eve of August, 875, Halfdan’s armies had sailed from Grimsby and made landfall in Bracklesham Bay, southwest of Chichester with 4,300 men at his command. This outnumbered Ælfred’s army by little over 1,000. While Eadmund’s own force consisted of roughly 1,250 men – this did not tip the scales by a significant margin – as Ragnarsson had negotiated an alliance with his brother and Swedish King, Björn Ironside. Ironside had command of roughly 5,000 men – and his arrival into the war caused an enormous tipping of the scales. While record of the Battle of Southwark is scarcely found – largely due to the destruction of many monasteries and villages in Wessex – it is nonetheless, a significant turning point in the war for England. From what is understood, the West Saxons suffered a great defeat at the hands of a hodgepodge of Polish mercenaries and Swedish warbands – all led by Björn Ironside.

Such a defeat prevented King Ælfred from relieving the siege of Winchester, with the city and the surrounding shire ravaged by pillaging Northmen and Polish mercenaries. The outcome of the siege being that Eadmund’s second son, Beorn, was captured during the sacking of the city. After the defeat at Southwark, Ælfred was forced to move his seat of government to Wareham for the remainder of his reign. Eadmund, instead of reinforcing his ally’s efforts to retake Winchester, had instead opted to strike the heartland of the Danes’ rule, and marched his armies through Stamford and Lincoln – employing a highly successful strategy of Chevauchée – whereupon he besieged York in July of 875. The siege lasted the duration of the year-long war, with the city captured 2 days before peace was agreed upon by both Ælfred and the Loðbrók brothers.

abDmCWxZ6wcIkna3vowmJQPaGqYOYLSgqV19Jy32gnTFt8jrXH13KJCqXtHLUOuzlWD7ketDXH9IMh671_ho5y6Ee_iViJK7heXHRRVb65AfgH8IGP_0TZk1J1QJU9hiGUhat_AVlv_32VV5sebbuyaDcbghylqGVUYw-4zhGcmtewDq4F4kZDyaTjWgqg

The defeat in Hampshire represented the momentum that the Great Heathen Army still carried with them, with small respite granted to the remaining independent realms. Eadmund, in particular, in the immediate aftermath of the war, began to prepare his armies to rebuff any future incursions into his Kingdom. In 878, Eadmund had issued a royal charter granting funds to develop Ipswich’s ports. However, this was rescinded in 880 in order to expand and reorganise his fyrd.

In early-May of 878, Eadmund’s third son, Beornwulf, was born, with his sister, Æthelflæd, born two years later. In this time, logistical matters were delegated to Eadmund’s trusted adviser, Beorhtric, Reeve of Sudbury – with the King lacking the patience to learn logistical matters himself.

No time for logistics.png

In 881, after four years of relative peace, the calm of England swiftly erupted once more into violence. However, in this instance, it was not the Northmen who were the aggressors. Instead, the East Angles had come for vengeance. On the 20th of May, the West Saxons had pledged their forces to rebuff the Viking invaders. On the 23rd of May, Duke Otto of Saxony had heeded Eadmund’s call to war. Combined, Eadmund’s coalition of Anglo-Saxons and Germans had 5,700 men under their command. While impressive, this was, regardless, still dwarfed by the 9,000 men under both Halfdan and Ironside. The silver lining of the war, being Ironside's armies – consisting of roughly 70% of the Northmen’s total strength – needed to travel from Scandinavia to aid in Halfdan’s defence. Additionally, while officially part of the war, the Swedish already had military commitments in Finland during the same period. In this time, the joint Anglo-German armies won five important battles against the Great Heathen Army.

The Battle of Hertford, the largest and most important engagement, ended in an Anglo-German victory. Being the most notable battle of the war, it is described in great detail by scholars. Outnumbered 2:1, Halfdan’s army was intercepted in their march to Wessex. Having no cavalry of his own, Saxon mounts barreled downhill into their bowmen, causing a rout behind Halfdan’s forces. While his own infantry was engaged in fighting the Anglo-Saxon spear front, Eadmund’s Huscarls flanked Halfdan’s forces, causing an encirclement and subsequent slaughter of the Northmen. Out of the 3,000 Viking warriors entering the Battle of Hertford, only 400 escaped.

battle of hertford.png

The four other battles, being the battles of Walsingham, Northampton, Blything and Radfield, all ended in an Anglo-German victory. The success of Eadmund and his allies had been unheard of since the defence of East Anglia in 869. However, this success had come to an end as swiftly as it began. In 883, Björn Ironside’s armies landed near York, consisting of the 5,000 men he had promised his brother. Marching south with Halfdan, this colossal force of Northmen came to be known as the ‘Great Summer Army,’ reinforcing the existing presence of the Danes in England. In late-August of 883, the Battle of Lincoln commenced. Ælfred and Eadmund’s armies were alone, with the Saxons departing for Germany to aid their liege in a Polabian invasion.

3,000 Anglo-Saxons, primarily under the command of Eadmund, met 7,000 Norse warriors in the fields outside Lincoln. Recently taking command of the settlement three days earlier, the Anglo-Saxon armies were caught off-guard by the incoming Viking force. Bloody fighting ensued, with the two Kings refusing to capitulate their gains in Danish Mercia. After a week of intense, intermittent fighting, the four Kings met out on the fields to draft a peace treaty for the war, ending the conflict on the 23rd of August, 883. The gains the Great Heathen Army had made in the 870s remained unchanged, but the war had significantly hampered any progress they may have made into East Anglia and Wessex, with a truce agreed upon for the time being.

england 883.png

Aftermath of Eadmund's War (881–883)


In 885, Ælfred of Wessex had negotiated an agreement with the Danes by the name of ‘the Treaty of Ælfred and Halfdan.’ This, among peaceful trade agreements and an establishment of an indiscriminate Weregild (‘Man-Price’) of both a Dane and Saxon, had determined the borders of Wessex and the ‘Danelaw,’ a catch-all term for the amalgamation of all Norse territories in England, and legitimising their claims to both Mercia and much land north of the Rivers Avon and Nene. Effectively, Ælfred had made himself King of all independent Anglo-Saxons. The following year, he had styled himself as such.

an unthinkable bargain.png

While this officialised Eadmund’s realm as de jure under the rule of Ælfred, Eadmund refused to acknowledge the existence of this treaty. While this had the foreseen consequence of the souring of relations between the West Saxons and East Angles, they had to – regardless of their feelings for one another – work together out of necessity. In November of 886, the King of Mercia, Burghred, had lost most of his realm to the famed Hæsteinn of Montaigu, his realm now officially only covering Bedfordshire – a far cry from what he inherited in 852.

In late-November of 886, there is evidence present that Eadmund had become the Overlord of the Mercian monarchy in Bedford, appointing a High Reeve of the shire in December of the same year. In February, King Burghred had disappeared, and Eadmund had officially become the Ealdorman of Bedford in February of 888. In June of that year, Hæsteinn of Montaigu declared himself King of Mercia, controlling the Northern and Western parts of the realm.

In July of 889, Halfdan of Northumbria raided and sacked Cambridge, taking gold and thralls from the King of the East Angles. This may have occurred as a result of the treaty officialising the Danelaw, as East Anglia was the last independent Anglo-Saxon monarchy, bowing to neither Wessex nor the Danelaw. Immortalised by the scribes of his court, Eadmund had vowed that this slight will not be left unavenged.

sacking of cambridge.png
 
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I was originally going to post all of Eadmund's life in one part, but my ambition proved to be my nemesis! Instead, I'm opting to post Eadmund's life in roughly 2 or 3 parts, depending on the size of his life. A far cry from our timeline's Eadmund!

Additionally, upon reading "From Pendragon to Prominence,' I was inspired to do something similar for the beginning of the post (I also surprisingly had the same font on Paint.net for the illuminated letter!). I would seriously recommend giving that AAR a read. :)

Ooh, and a quick question, which has more successful Vikings in England, our own timeline, or this one? I'd be curious to know what you guys think. :)
 
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Very much like how you've started this AAR. I'm on board for the ride. Great way to start the new year.

Additionally, upon reading "From Pendragon to Prominence,' I was inspired to do something similar for the beginning of the post. I would seriously recommend giving that AAR a read.
I too liked that AAR. I will await the next creation from @Olden Weiss . But you have more than ably filled the gap.

CK2 Style Colorful Education Traits by Aj
CK2 Style Brighter Attributes by Aj
CK2 Style Colorful Lifestyle Traits by Aj
I hope you don't mind a question that is a bit technical and behind-the-scenes. Not familiar with CK3. Only play CK2 currently. Does CK3 allow the mixing and matching of mods from both?! Or are you trying to keep parallel games running to inspire the AAR? Curious about your process.

East Anglian history is interesting stuff! I was hoping this would be longer, but unfortunately, those darn Vikings had destroyed much of the evidence of the kings and their histories in their pillaging. This was also the first time I had gone and read the Anglo-Saxon chronicle, and I must say, it’s a very good read! Stay tuned. :)
I like your references to the pillaging of the Northmen and the after-effects on history.
Very much like how you are blending real historical sources into your story-telling. Thinking that some of the early parts of the AAR may come from the Chronicle but you have used that as a device later on? Again, interested in your process.

More light is shed on the ensuing conflict, with the Chronicle mentioning four battles of comparable importance occurring in East Anglia and the surrounding Fenlands as far as Mercia, with significant monarchs, notably Ælfred the Great of Wessex and Burghred of Mercia, both pledging fyrds to East Anglia’s defence.
Again, wasn't sure if this was you using the Chronicle as a way to tell the story. Very much liked that device. Only familiar with the Chronicle as a historical text and have not read it, so my lack of knowledge is the source of that question.

Great start. Looking forward to more.
 
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Very much like how you've started this AAR. I'm on board for the ride. Great way to start the new year.


I too liked that AAR. I will await the next creation from @Olden Weiss . But you have more than ably filled the gap.


I hope you don't mind a question that is a bit technical and behind-the-scenes. Not familiar with CK3. Only play CK2 currently. Does CK3 allow the mixing and matching of mods from both?! Or are you trying to keep parallel games running to inspire the AAR? Curious about your process.


I like your references to the pillaging of the Northmen and the after-effects on history.
Very much like how you are blending real historical sources into your story-telling. Thinking that some of the early parts of the AAR may come from the Chronicle but you have used that as a device later on? Again, interested in your process.


Again, wasn't sure if this was you using the Chronicle as a way to tell the story. Very much liked that device. Only familiar with the Chronicle as a historical text and have not read it, so my lack of knowledge is the source of that question.

Great start. Looking forward to more.
Thank you! I'm glad this has been a good read for you so far, and I most certainly agree, Olden Weiss' narrative storytelling is excellent.

In relation to the CK2-Style mods, I'm afraid it's nothing technical, it only makes the traits pop out more and look more colourful on the screen. Truth be told, I've only played less than an hour of CK2! The sheer quantity of DLC scare me off, to be perfectly honest.

With the use of the Chronicle for storytelling, I have it pinned in my search engine, and in particular moments in the story, I either rip a quote straight from the Chronicle, altering a few words to make it more believable for this story, or I just mention it offhand, where the it would be plausible that the Chronicle would mention it (at least in my humble opinion). As the Chronicle mentions battles, more relevantly where Eadmund lost to the Danes, I assumed in a more successful story for the East Angles it would mention more than just the Battle at Thetford. :)

While my edited quote reads like this, for Eadmund's first victory:

“A.D 867. This year the army rode over Mercia into East-Anglia, and there fixed their winter-quarters at Thetford. And in the spring King Eadmund fought with them, in which the East-Angles gained the victory; but at great cost, as the Danes had slew his brother. The name of his brother was Osweald…”

The actual quote from the Chronicle reads as such (or, at least from the one I've read):

"A.D. 870. This year the army rode over Mercia into East-Anglia, and there fixed their winter-quarters at Thetford. And in the winter King Edmund fought with them; but the Danes gained the victory, and slew the king; whereupon they overran all that land, and destroyed all the monasteries to which they came. The names of the leaders who slew the king were Hingwar and Hubba. At the same time came they to Medhamsted, burning and breaking, and slaying abbot and monks, and all that they there found. They made such havoc there, that a monastery, which was before full rich, was now reduced to nothing. The same year died Archbishop Ceolnoth; and Ethered, Bishop of Witshire, was chosen Archbishop of Canterbury."

Oh, and, in relation to the first part of the AAR, yes, I pretty much used the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle to dictate what was on the first post. Thanks to those darn Danes, the Chronicle is one of the only sources of information on the East Angles, with the whole invasion and all not boding well for the religious sites which had much of the information of the Kingdom in the 9th century. If I recall correctly, most information on the presence of these 9th-century East Anglian Kings are almost exclusively from the coinage of their reign. Anything past 870 or so I can confidently use my own gameplay as the information, giving as much as necessary to provide a more informational view of Eadmund and his House's primary successors in Britain.

I hope this answers any of your questions!
 
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It's good to keep in mind that the Anglo-Saxon chronicle was a work of propaganda by the House of Wessex however, to make their monarchs, dynasty, and kingdom in a great light. It often downplays or doesn't bother to write down stuff that makes Wessex looks bad or its opponents look good. A lot of "pillaging" done by the Vikings was often work of monks falling asleep with candles lit or fellow Anglo-Saxon nobles using this time of chaos to their advantage to seize lands held by the clergy, attributed to the Vikings to paint them in a worse light. People often speak about this time as Vikings vs Anglo-Saxons (and Welsh, Scots, Irish, etc) but forget that it was also a time of struggle between the church and nobles of England. There's quite a few acts of violence attributed to the Norse in written history that have later been proven to not have been caused by them, but by fellow Anglo-Saxons. :p

All to say, I'm excited to read through this. Not enough love is given to non-Wessex Anglo-Saxons around these parts.
 
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It's good to keep in mind that the Anglo-Saxon chronicle was a work of propaganda by the House of Wessex however, to make their monarchs, dynasty, and kingdom in a great light. It often downplays or doesn't bother to write down stuff that makes Wessex looks bad or its opponents look good. A lot of "pillaging" done by the Vikings was often work of monks falling asleep with candles lit or fellow Anglo-Saxon nobles using this time of chaos to their advantage to seize lands held by the clergy, attributed to the Vikings to paint them in a worse light. People often speak about this time as Vikings vs Anglo-Saxons (and Welsh, Scots, Irish, etc) but forget that it was also a time of struggle between the church and nobles of England. There's quite a few acts of violence attributed to the Norse in written history that have later been proven to not have been caused by them, but by fellow Anglo-Saxons. :p

All to say, I'm excited to read through this. Not enough love is given to non-Wessex Anglo-Saxons around these parts.

Thank you! In all honesty, I'm rather average in terms of my knowledge in Anglo-Saxon history, so I try and do a little research on many things I write, just to make it feel more accurate and real. However, I wasn't aware of the circumstances on which the Chronicle was made, and once more, I thank you for this piece of insight. Knowing the Anglo-Saxons, it does indeed make sense that it wasn't just the Vikings, considering, at least to my knowledge, much of the Anglo-Saxons' history was a struggle amongst themselves! :)

In regards to East Anglia, I thought that Wessex would be a little too simple, with it seeming to be the easier route for pushing back the Norsemen and creating a unified realm. Upon reading about Edmund and his fate at the hands of the Norsemen in battle, I thought I needed to turn that piece of history around and give the East Anglians some time in the spotlight. Edmund the 'Martyr' no longer! Now he has a legacy other than dying on the battlefield.
 
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I liked the prologue here.

It looks like East Anglia is doing well here, and the threat from the Vikings seems to be dealt with... for now. Unfortunately, East Anglia is now enemies with everyone else in England (in theory, given Alfred's deal).

Given your alliance with Saxony, are you going to get involved with the Carolingian struggle and events in Germany? What's going on there?

Are Hæsteinn and Halfdan enemies? Can the Danes be turned against each other?
 
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I liked the prologue here.

It looks like East Anglia is doing well here, and the threat from the Vikings seems to be dealt with... for now. Unfortunately, East Anglia is now enemies with everyone else in England (in theory, given Alfred's deal).

Given your alliance with Saxony, are you going to get involved with the Carolingian struggle and events in Germany? What's going on there?

Are Hæsteinn and Halfdan enemies? Can the Danes be turned against each other?
With Alfred's deal, despite his soured relations with Eadmund, still knows that he needs him to successfully fight the Norsemen. While he would prefer him a vassal than an independent monarchy, he needs him on his side for the time being.

The Saxons, from the wars I've fought, only wish to expand their eastern frontier into the West Slavs. The Liudolfingers – I'm not sure if I can call them Ottonians just yet – are very useful allies in the fight for England, but I just become way too related to their family to keep marrying into them, and the opportunity cost of marrying into their family slowly decreases as Saxony (Angria) continues to implode on itself. A sad end for the Saxons.

Someone quite unexpected forms the Holy Roman Empire, and it become quite a juggernaut in European politics. And while I will admit it is a member of the Carolingian dynasty, this was, at least, the first time I'd seen this realm unify the HRE. Upon Eadmund's passing, I will provide a map of Europe to show the evolving situation in the world :)

In regards to the two Norse rulers being enemies, currently, they are not, but the struggle in the Danelaw between Halfdan and Hæsteinn certainly involves their descendants. Eventually, these struggles will put the Danes in a dire situation, one which will remain to be seen if they will ever recover.
 
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Are Hæsteinn and Halfdan enemies? Can the Danes be turned against each other?
In regards to the two Norse rulers being enemies, currently, they are not, but the struggle in the Danelaw between Halfdan and Hæsteinn certainly involves their descendants. Eventually, these struggles will put the Danes in a dire situation, one which will remain to be seen if they will ever recover.
This always seems to be the issue with the Norse, and especially the Danes (at least in CK2 and my current play-through). There's so much in-fighting, they weaken each other and then are more vulnerable to others.

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(Apologies. Prince Rauðúlfr has wandered over from my AAR perhaps because he doesn't get many lines there.)
Of course, Eadmund needs to take advantage of any Norse squabbling. But let's keep it at a low level and in its proper place: in the CK2 AARs.
 
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III. KING EADMUND OF THE EAST ANGLES (2 of 2)

III. KING EADMUND OF THE EAST ANGLES, PART TWO

The Former Five Fortified Boroughs of Eastern Mercia, c. A.D 1005
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This battle is notably recorded by Eadmund himself, dubbed, ‘The Battle of the Fens.’ Recorded in meticulous detail, the King describes the environment of the great marsh, commenting on the spread of disease, and how his army’s mounts sank into the fens, which at this moment was flooded with water.

Eadmund writes as such:

“...The Great Fens surrounding Ely proved treacherous, a seemingly boundless expanse of waterlogged terrain that swallowed the hooves of our mounts. The very earth beneath us yielded not, and the Fenlands became an unwitting ally to the invading Norsemen.

As I, King Eadmund, led my forces into the mire, the air was heavy with the stench of decay. The battles at Ely years prior had provided the surrounding fens with a rotting, foul smell, attacking the senses from all directions. The putrid waters harboured the spread of pestilence, casting a pall of affliction upon both friend and foe alike. Disease festered like a dark omen, claiming the lives of devout Christians and sowing discord within our ranks.”

– Eadmund’s ‘Battle of the Fens,’ written c. 895

The Fenlands, unable to support significant weight, had Saxon mounts sink and ultimately drown, with Eadmund referring to his army’s horses as “...hapless victims of the marsh's grasp…” The positive outcome being that the Norsemen could no longer use their cavalry, either. For much of the Great Heathen Army’s conquest, they had used speed to their advantage, with their armies’ mounts able to outrun any significant fyrd on the hunt for their very heads. In the Fens however, they had no such advantage.

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Modern Depiction of the Ely Water Meadows
The battle quickly devolved into barbaric violence. While Eadmund’s joint army of Saxons and East Angles held the numbers advantage, outnumbering Hæsteinn’s 2,800 strong force by almost two thousand, it meant little, as much of his fyrd struggled to move in the difficult terrain. The battle was scarcely won by the Anglo-Saxons, with a desperate counterattack by Eadmund’s Household Retainers, led by his most trusted thegns routing the Norsemen, and wounding Hæsteinn himself.

The Battle of the Fens, while ultimately a defeat for Hæsteinn, was a pyrrhic victory for the Anglo-Saxons. Eadmund’s armies had suffered comparable casualties to the Northmen while outnumbering their army 2:1.

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Regardless of the outcome, Eadmund sacked Huntingdon in 891, proceeding to Northampton in October of that year. The year-long siege of the settlement ended in its capture, and a sue for peace was called for by Hæsteinn. By the end of the war, Eadmund had successfully conquered Huntingdonshire. While successful, the war had plunged his realm into debt, with the King paying off unrelated Viking raiders on the 28th, preventing a sacking of Cambridge. In the aftermath of the war, Eadmund had appointed his son, Beorn, as the Ealdorman of Huntingdon.

On the 17th of May of 892, according to the 9th-century East Anglian Bishop Ceadda, Eadmund and Halfdan had decided to settle their rivalry in a duel. In the Wildmore Fens they had both met, with the fight being ‘til first blood.’ Ceadda, being the Bishop of the East Anglian King, claimed that Eadmund was the superior warrior, with the Bishop ludicrously exclaiming that Halfdan had begged for the fight to end in exchange for the entire old Kingdom of Lindsey. While the latter claim is of dubious accuracy, it may have been true, that by 892, Eadmund was the superior fighter. With the King being 12 years Halfdan’s junior. Halfdan’s subordinates, in early-April, had described him as infirm.

Less than 2 months after his duel with Eadmund, Halfdan ‘Whiteshirt’ had passed away – his physician describing the various battle wounds on his face and chest that were left untreated. It must be known, however, that his Physician, by the name of Hafriðr, found common goals in Eadmund’s desire for vengeance, writing letters to the King of the East Angles, calling Halfdan a “contemptible excuse for a man.” His successor, Haukr, was left to continue the Danelaw’s legacy.

Death of Halfdan -Whiteshirt- Ragnarsson, 11th Jul 892.png

Halfdan’s passing had serious consequences for the future of the Danelaw, chief among them being his sons’ inheritance. The Northumbrian King had five sons, all of which sought an equal division of their father's property. While issues regarding inheritance were peacefully resolved, this, regardless of any satisfactory division, contributed to the fracturing of one of the most powerful Norse kingdoms in England.

This splintering of Halfdan’s personal demesne had greatly reduced the economic and military significance of the Danelaw, as the King’s sub-tenants now possessed a greater portion of the realm’s wealth and levies (leiðangr?). The election of King Haukr – Halfdan’s fifth son – to the throne of York also caused issues. Haukr, unlike his father, had no significant political connections in Europe. With no powerful allies supporting his claim to the throne, the young monarch was quickly taken advantage of by vassal and brother alike.

Eadmund had returned from a tourney in Paris by April of 894. Motivated by the splintering of the Norse kingdoms, he had opted for war at some point in December of the same year. Joined by his West Saxon allies, Ælfred’s army would travel through Western Mercia to besiege Chester, Haukr’s personal demesne. Eadmund, on the other hand, would make his way through the eastern coast of England, raiding Deiran lands to deprive the Norsemen of precious manpower and food.

By January of 895, Haukr had raised an army of approximately 1,800 men to combat the joint Anglo-Saxon invasion. In late-January, Ælfred had met Haukr’s forces outside of Coventry, whereupon Haukr had suffered a great loss. Once more, little is recorded of the Battle of Coventry, with contemporary English sources only commenting on the great victory the West Saxons had gained over the opposing heathen army. What is known, however, is that the Battle of Coventry had allowed both Ælfred and Eadmund to invade Northumbria unopposed from that point onward, with the East Anglians capturing both Stamford and Lincoln by late-June.

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Mercia & Northern England, 28th of June 895
A Viking raid of Cambridge had drawn the East Angles and West Saxons away from the war by June – but this had not diminished any gains they had made that year – with the Northumbrian King forced to fight his nephew, the Jarl of York with only his most trusted retinue.

By early-March of 896, the West Saxons had reached Leeds. As civil war tore the Danelaw apart, the Anglo-Saxons had seized much of their realm, with considerable destruction following in their wake. Four days later, Haukr had pleaded for peace. In the following treaty, Eadmund had gained two of the Five Boroughs conquered by the Danes in their invasion of Mercia almost thirty years prior. The repossession of Lindsey by the Anglo-Saxons had significantly weakened the position of the Norse in England, with only the Humber separating the East Angles from capturing vital settlements in Deira – York being chief among them.

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The Anglo-Saxons did not wish to give the Norsemen a moment of reprieve. By May of 897, Eadmund had declared war on Norse Mercia, with the intent of capturing Northampton and reclaiming the shire which surrounded the borough. The war was swift – with only two recorded battles occurring in England – with one of them left unnamed. The battle of Northampton, occurring on the 22nd of September, saw an entire Frisian army – allies of Hæsteinn – destroyed, with its commander captured and much of the army destroyed. The war had ended soon after on the 29th, with the ensuing treaty granting the East Angles control of Northamptonshire.

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The British Isles, 29th of September 897
While this was a resounding victory for the Anglo-Saxons, the East Angles, particularly, had lost much of their nobility in the preceding conflicts. Personal friends of Eadmund, including trusted members of the Witan had lost their lives in notable battles such as Northampton. Most importantly, the preferred heir to the throne, Beorn, succumbed to his wounds on the 2nd of February, 898. Following his passing, Eadmund’s second son, Beornwulf, was chosen by the Witenagemot to be his successor.

Death of Beorn Eadmundson - 2nd Feb 898.png

Southern England had finally known peace, after near-constant conflict for almost three decades – three fifths of Eadmund’s reign. During this time, only two raids occurred in lands under the occupation of the East Angles; one, occurring in May of 898 by a collection of disorganised warbands, with a battle won against them under the command of Eadmund, and the second occurring between January and April of 901. The second period of raids in 901 were much more organised, and had more men than the fyrds of the East Angles. They had sacked Cambridge with 2,600 men in late-January, proceeding to Ely in March and raiding the Abbey which stood there.

During the same time, a second force of Vikings had landed in Norwich, with the East Angles – under the command of Ulf of Huntingdon – winning the battle, driving them to the sea. Ulf, Ealdorman of Huntingdon (title granted posthumously in 902) was a significant name cited by scholars of the period, being a notable military commander under Eadmund, then his successor between 899 and 908. Ulf had been captured at the Battle of Northampton, soon Christianised and Anglicised, who proceeded to fight faithfully in defence of the realm.

Eadmund’s health had been deteriorating during this time. Being 61 years of age, his health was understandably sub-par. After collapsing multiple times at a feast held in Dunwich, Eadmund had been consigned to his bedchambers by the 16th of November, slowly losing control of his faculties.

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Little over a month later, Eadmund had suffered a heart attack in his sleep and passed away, leaving the realm to his son, Beornwulf, Ealdorman of Bedford to inherit. While not groomed to rule, Beornwulf had a duty to serve his realm, taking on the mantle of King of the East Angles.

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Europe One Year after the End of King Eadmund's Reign, c. 902
 
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This is the remainder of Eadmund's life! Full of conflict, he fought so his successors would see peace. This shall remain to be seen...

Fun fact, Eadmund's two-part story alone consists of almost 4,000 words! Let me know what you all think about this second part, I'm always keen to know everyone's thoughts.

Next week will be about Eadmund's successor, Beornwulf! Stay tuned.

For clarification, Ulf having his title "granted posthumously in 902" does not mean that he died and then was given the title, but that it was given to him after Eadmund's passing. I just thought that needed some clearing up. :D

Also, quick question for those more knowledgeable. What was the term for Norse levies during the Viking period? I did a quick google for the writing of his post, but it was specific on it being for the coastal defence of the realm, if I recall correctly. Thanks in advance! :)
 
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Seems Eadmund had a good life despite the strife and was able to meet many of his goals in seizing back land. Good luck to Beornwulf, but his lack of training seems like a harbinger of hard times ahead.
Also, quick question for those more knowledgeable. What was the term for Norse levies during the Viking period? I did a quick google for the writing of his post, but it was specific on it being for the coastal defence of the realm, if I recall correctly. Thanks in advance! :)

As for leiðangr, others with more expertise will need to weigh in here. There is an ongoing academic debate about when this type of conscription started and yes, it is primarily for coastal defense. The earliest notations of this were in the Tenth Century which predates your timeline. However, this may be one of those instances where game mechanics don't meet history exactly. Also, your timeline is getting close to the earliest notations, so maybe close enough for rock 'n roll?
 
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Seems Eadmund had a good life despite the strife and was able to meet many of his goals in seizing back land. Good luck to Beornwulf, but his lack of training seems like a harbinger of hard times ahead.


As for leiðangr, others with more expertise will need to weigh in here. There is an ongoing academic debate about when this type of conscription started and yes, it is primarily for coastal defense. The earliest notations of this were in the Tenth Century which predates your timeline. However, this may be one of those instances where game mechanics don't meet history exactly. Also, your timeline is getting close to the earliest notations, so maybe close enough for rock 'n roll?
Much appreciated for the info. Yes, it's probably one of those cases. While I'm a stickler for Historicity, I'm sure that it was a decision to make gameplay more fun. But I agree, it may be close enough for the term to be used either way. :D

Beornwulf's family certainly has tough times ahead, but maybe not in the way that you think. While I'm sure the realm would've fared better with Beorn as King, considering both that the alliance with Wessex was through his marriage, and that I certainly prepared that boy much more, Beornwulf was still an incredibly important figure for the East Anglian Dynasty, and would shape the future of England for much of his reign.
 
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The Fens was almost certainly a dramatic battle.

The Norse seem to be going through troubled times. Let's just hope that the Scandinavian kingdoms don't get involved... and Wessex and East Anglia don't end up at each other's throats before they drive the Vikings from England.
 
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Let us hope for Beornwulf to be ever as valiant as his late father. He should need to be, lest the Angles be subsumed by the fickle, godless West Saxons.

I've nominated you for the WritAAR of the Week-award. Congratulations!
 
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Let us hope for Beornwulf to be ever as valiant as his late father. He should need to be, lest the Angles be subsumed by the fickle, godless West Saxons.

I've nominated you for the WritAAR of the Week-award. Congratulations!
Thank you very much, Apelstav! And another thank you for reading my AAR. :D

The Fens was almost certainly a dramatic battle.

The Norse seem to be going through troubled times. Let's just hope that the Scandinavian kingdoms don't get involved... and Wessex and East Anglia don't end up at each other's throats before they drive the Vikings from England.

It certainly was. It was, in my opinion, the beginning of the decline of Norse power in the British Isles. And yes, the Scandinavian realms to the east are powerful, and an intervention on behalf of the Danelaw is likely.
 
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