Publication Date: April 24, 2015 (US & UK)
Top Hat Books
Formats: Kindle eBook, Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
READ AN EXCERPT.
Harold Godwineson, the Last Anglo-Saxon King, owed everything to his father. Who was this Godwine, first Earl of Wessex and known as the Kingmaker? Was he an unscrupulous schemer, using King and Witan to gain power? Or was he the greatest of all Saxon Earls, protector of the English against the hated Normans? The answer depends on who you ask. He was befriended by the Danes, raised up by Canute the Great, given an Earldom and a wife from the highest Danish ranks. He sired nine children, among them four Earls, a Queen and a future King. Along with his power came a struggle to keep his enemies at bay, and Godwine’s best efforts were brought down by the misdeeds of his eldest son Swegn. Although he became father-in-law to a reluctant Edward the Confessor, his fortunes dwindled as the Normans gained prominence at court. Driven into exile, Godwine regathered his forces and came back even stronger, only to discover that his second son Harold was destined to surpass him in renown and glory.
Edmund Ironside, Hero or Fool?
by Mercedes Rochelle
Things might have gone very well for Edmund except for his uncanny adhesion to the infamous Eadric of Mercia or Eadric Streona, also known as Eadric the Grasper and the most rascally traitor in Anglo-Saxon history. Eadric was famous for changing sides at the most critical moment, usually with dire consequences. Why Edmund kept forgiving him and trusting him remains a mystery. They were kin, related by marriage, so perhaps this relationship bound them together.
In October, the Battle of Assandun was the turning point. Up to that time, Edmund had won a couple of bloody battles against Canute, but at Assandun, Eadric is said to have cut off the head of a man who looked like the king and held it up, throwing the army into confusion and turning the battle against the English. Most historians believe that Eadric was in the pay of Canute at this time.
Edmund Ironside was soon on the run, and the Danes followed him up the Bristol channel into the Severn, where both sides paused at Olney Island. Once again, we see the traitor Eadric at the side of King Edmund, and he took charge of negotiations, suggesting that both chieftains resolve their dispute by single combat. Edmund, by far the larger and more powerful man, agreed as did Canute, who could not afford to lose face.
We can only assume that Eadric managed to secretly communicate his plan to Canute, as its result bore the hallmark of the wily man’s tactics. For, as one would have expected, King Edmund was the stronger fighter and soon hammered the Dane, breaking his shield and beating him down when Canute called a stop to the fight. ”Bravest of youths,” he cried out, “why should either of us risk his life for the sake of a crown?” Edmund paused, considering. “Let us be brothers by adoption,” the Dane continued, “and divide the kingdom, governing so that I may rule your affairs, and you mine.” (this came from Florence of Worcester)
And so it was. Apparently exhausted by all the warfare, Edmund Ironside agreed to partition the kingdom between them, with the understanding that one of them would inherit the whole on the other’s death. No mention was made of Edmund’s heirs (remember Eadgar Aetheling?). Canute got the north plus London, and Edmund held Wessex.
Unfortunately for Edmund Ironside, he did not survive the winter. Canute had taken up residence in London and the Saxon king died a couple of months later – some said from exhaustion. But others declared that he was killed by Eadric Streona; there is a particularly gruesome legend that an assassin hid himself in the King's garderobe and stabbed him through his nether region when he came to relieve himself.
Canute took over the whole kingdom apparently without a thread of resistance. As is usual in such a case, he eliminated some of the Saxon chieftains who were in his way. At the top of the list was Eadric Streona, whose particular talents were no longer required.
Godwine was a witness to these events; you can see more in my novel GODWINE KINGMAKER.
About the Author
Born in St. Louis MO with a degree from University of Missouri, Mercedes Rochelle learned about living history as a re-enactor and has been enamored with historical fiction ever since. She lives in Sergeantsville, NJ with her husband in a log home they built themselves.
For more information please visit Mercedes Rochelle’s website and blog. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Godwine Kingmaker is on a blog tour!