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Mythic Britain: more books?


Ciro Alessandro Sacco

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Sweet!  Is there an estimated delivery date?  Can you give us some teasers?

Not yet.

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Well really what I want to know is how much "meanwhile, back on the continent" do you have?  Anything about the push factors and other tribes?

Not much. The book focuses on the Saxon settlement of Britain.

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I'm looking forward to this as it is a topic I'm familiar with from my academic background :)

From a gaming perpective, I've always been fascinated by Tolkein's theory that the Hengest who fought the Battle of Finnsburg is the same as the Hengest who led his men across the sea to Kent at the invitation of Vortigern. This approach is at least plausible and makes it possible to tie the Saxon settlement into the broader world of Germanic mythology. It also provides a cool explanation of explains WHY Hengest went to Britain - he was in so much trouble after the Fres-wæl ("Frisian slaughter") that fleeing overseas as a mercenary looked attractive. It also allows makes it possible to events from Beowulf into the broader story. If we identify Beowulf's Hygelac with the Danish king Chlochilaicus mentioned in Gregory of Tours, it becomes possible to date the ill-fated raid into Frisia to the period between 515 and 520, then it becomes possible to bring in material from Beowulf.

It's a fascinating period.

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Saxons was my favorite of the Pendragon supplements, and since that's pretty much the best of what's gone before with this aspect of an Arthurian or DA Britain setting, what can we expect in comparison?

What I assume is that we will see some personae (Hengist, Horsa, Rowena, Aelle, folks like that), more background on just how bad things went with Vortigern, and fleshing out of the lost lands along with culture, religion and char gen.  

What I hope to see is a bit more of who came, and why they were coming and I can never get enough in the way of maps.

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5 hours ago, HeirophantX said:

 

What I hope to see is a bit more of who came, and why they were coming and I can never get enough in the way of maps.

 

Based upon hints from the Finnsburgh fragment, Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and later works (including Nennius and Layamon's Brut), here's my version:

Hengest and his brother Horsa were in the retinue of a Danish leader named Hnæf. Apparently Hnæf was visiting his sister, Hildeburh, at a hall at Finnsburgh. Hildeburh had married a Frisian leader named Finn in an attempt to make peace between the Danes and the Frisians. (The later author Nennius mentions a figure named Finn Folcwald in the genealogy of Hengest and Horsa, possibly a distorted memory of this incident). Unfortunately, the peace was precarious and Finn plotted treachery against his guests. A large group of Frisian warriors mounted a surprise attack on the hall at Finnsburgh where Hnæf and his retinue were staying just before dawn. The sources mention the assault involved a force of sixty attackers.  During the subsequent fighting, Hnaef is killed and Hengest takes over as leader. It appears that Finn and Hildeburh had a young son who was also tragically slain during the fighting. The Danes put up a stiff resistance and a stalemate is reached. The Danish forces do not have the strength to fight their way to freedom and the Frisian forces do not have the strength to defeat them. Hengest negotiates a truce with the Frisians, agreeing to surrender in exchange for their lives and equal rights to Finn's own companions. It is agreed that Hnæf's men will stay in Finnsburgh for the rest of the winter, returning to their homeland when the weather improves. Hnæf and Hildeburh's dead son were burned together on a funeral pyre. Remarkably, the truce holds for a number of months and Hengest's men remain in Finn's hall despite the shame of being forced into a truce the slayer of their lord.

As spring arrives, one of Hengest's followers - an individual named Hunlafing - placed a sword named Battle Flame into his lap as a not-so-subtle reminder that he had a duty to seek vengeance for the murder of Hnæf (Beowulf 1142-1153). As a result, Hengest treacherously breaks the pact of loyalty he had made with Finn and slaughtered Finn and all of his followers in their own mead hall. Incidentally, this is one of those classic moral dilemmas that early Germanic literature loved so much, where Hengest was forced to choose between his duty to seek vengeance for the death of Hnæf and the peace treaty he had made with Finn. In any case, Hengest left Finnsburgh with Hildeburh, returning the Danish princess to her own people.

Unfortunately, the Danes feared renewed warfare with the Frisians and decided to exile Hengest and his followers (including his brother Horsa) for their actions. The slaughter of the Frisians in their own hall had become notorious and would be remembered throughout the Germanic world several centuries later. Nennius mentions that that Hengest and Horsa had been driven into exile, but does not explain the reason (Nennius, Historia Bittonum, Ch. 31).

Driven into exile, Hengest three ships containing his followers landed in southern Britain on the Kentish coast, where they took service as mercenaries with Vortigern. Although Vortigern gets a bad rap, it is likely that he was following late Roman practice by recruiting barbarian mercenaries as foederati and offering them land in exchange for service in accordance with the established concept of hospitalitas, which allowed the state to acquire private land for the purpose of billeting barbarian military forces.

And from there the story proceeds as per the well-known version...

 

 

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On 8/27/2016 at 11:33 PM, Prime Evil said:

Based upon hints from the Finnsburgh fragment, Beowulf, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, and later works (including Nennius and Layamon's Brut), here's my version: ...

Truly fascinating. I never looked into this part of old Germanic literature, but now it seems that I have therefore missed some of the potential sources for many of the events of the much later Nibelungenlied, namely the events at Etzel's court. :)

"Mind like parachute, function only when open."

(Charlie Chan)

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1 hour ago, rust said:

Truly fascinating. I never looked into this part of old Germanic literature, but now it seems that I have therefore missed some of the potential sources for many of the events of the much later Nibelungenlied, namely the events at Etzel's court. :)

If you want something truly obscure for Germanic literature, do some research into Wade's Boat - particularly the links between Vaði in Þiðrekssaga and the figure of Wade mentioned by Chaucer. As late as the 16th century, the Thomas Speght could confidently assume that his audience was familiar with Wade's Boat and named as Guingelot. Yet the whole thing is hopelessly tangled up with the story of Wayland Smith (as Vaði was the father of Völund in Þiðrekssaga) as well as the Nibelungenlied. We even have a couple of lines from an early poem about Wade hinting that his story was well-known in Anglo-Saxon England and was tied up with a memory of the Gothic King Theodoric. Some detective work provides tantalizing hints of a lost Germanic epic of which a faint echo survived into later English folklore. We'll never know the full story, but it can be reconstructed in various ways for roleplaying purposes!

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