DAS in 2016 / Britain in 876

In 2014 we followed the events of 874, building up to King Burhred being driven out of Mercia by a coalition of Viking leaders and Ceolwulf ascending to the throne of Mercia as a Viking puppet king. However, in exchange the Vikings lost their unifying leader, Ivar ‘the Boneless’ Ragnarsson.
In 2015 we looked at 875, with the Viking leaders setting out in different directions after the feast at Earleywood: Halfdan Ragnarsson marching north to try to pacify the rebellious Northumbrians and drive off the invading Norwegian King Harald Finehair, whilst Guthrum went to Cambridge to keep the East Anglians under tight control. Meanwhile, the Vikings of DAS found their longships attacked by King Alfred of Wessex’s navy, were driven ashore, and hiked cross-country from Cadbury to the borders of East Anglia. The Englisc spent the year ambushing and chasing them, forcing them to fight for every step they took across the country.

In 876, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle records that:
This year Rolla penetrated Normandy with his army; and he reigned fifty winters. And this year the army stole into Wareham, a fort of the West-Saxons. The king afterwards made peace with them; and they gave him as hostages those who were worthiest in the army; and swore with oaths on the holy bracelet, which they would not before to any nation, that they would readily go out of his kingdom. Then, under colour of this, their cavalry stole by night into Exeter. The same year Healfden divided the land of the Northumbrians; so that they became afterwards their harrowers and plowers.

This gives us some good clear plotlines to follow. We have the resolution of Halfdan’s fight against the Northumbrians and Harald Finehair’s Norwegians, followed by the division of Northumbria. This will take place at Earleywood, acting as a bridge between 875 and 876 and a resolution of the plot from last Earleywood‘s banquet. Further small clashes in Northumbria as the boundaries are drawn up could easily also occur, if people are looking for plots to run later in the year.

Then we have the shenanigans as Guthrum’s Viking forces seize Wareham, give hostages to Alfred, and then sneakily break their oaths to seize Exeter. This could easily provide plot for several events: there’s the march across Wessex to get to Wareham, the attack on the town, the siege of the Vikings (perhaps with foraging parties creeping out to try to fetch more food), making the peace, and then the breaking of the peace and the mad dash to Exeter. This action also spills over into 877, when Alfred tries to retake Exeter.
The oath-taking and hostage swapping should provide good banquet entertainment: who will be chosen as hostages?
For those that watched the (terribly costumed and only very loosely historical) Last Kingdom series, the attack on Wareham is Episode 4: it’s the city where Uhtred is given as a hostage to Guthrum and only survives Guthrum murdering the hostages thanks to Young Ragnar.

And, of course, we have a raid on Normandy, led by Ganger-Hrólf / Rolla / Rollo. This first attack on Rouen proved successful for Hrolf, who stayed around in northern France and eventually ended up founding his own semi-separate state of Normandy there by 918. His great-great-great grandson was William the Conqueror. The early life of Hrolf is somewhat obscure, but some sources say that he was the son of Rognvald, Harald Finehair’s general who was in charge of the attack on the Scottish Isles. So we can perhaps tie this Normandy raid into the events of our continuous calendar?

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