When we last left Edwin, Bishop Paulinus finally had his prize. He convinced the great King of Northumbria… the Bretwalda!… Edwin… to abandon his gods and convert to Christianity. It had been a long hard road for the Bishop. Failed assassinations, war, marriage, magical visions, and some pretty astoundingly rude arguments regarding the weather had all been brought to bear in order to get this King to convert. But at last he was successful!
And on Easter, 627ish… the dates are soupy… Edwin was baptized. Again, this is a pretty commonplace thing for us… but think about how strange this ritual is from the outside. The sources agree that, unlike our modern baptisms, this was done old school… outside… in a natural body of water.
So… Edwin… in April… in northern England… was expected to walk into a body of water… and then somehow fight back the shivering, teeth chattering, and shrinkage… and relax into the arms of a Christian, and then let himself be submerged under the water only to be lifted out when that Christian was good and ready.
Now don’t forget that Edwin only recently avoided assassination, something that his werod and courtiers were all too aware of. And we saw how he reacted to that… he brought total destruction down upon everyone in Wessex suspected of being involved in the attempt. This was not a man to be trifled with… and also he strikes me as a man who was, how can I put this nicely, was a little highly strung and sensitive to danger. And I imagine that was also the case for his trusted warrior companions, whom were are told were fiercely loyal and protective of him.