111 – Edwin: What Goes Around Comes Around

That’s something I’ve heard my entire life. When I was younger and picked on at school my father would sometimes say “Don’t worry, Jamie, what goes around comes around.” The problem with that bit of advice is that it requires a sense of fairness in the world that isn’t always there… not to mention a tremendous amount of patience that is short supply when you’re a small awkward kid being picked on and simply want some sort of justice.

But sometimes it does happen… sometimes what goes around does come around.

Ok, so why am I talking about this?

Well… let’s have a very quick review of what has happened with Edwin. True, he had a rough start, since he first appeared in our story while he was on the run because AEthelfrith of Bernicia had nicked the throne of Deira and was hunting down Edwin and his family. Now the sources are silent on his involvement on AEthelfrith’s conquest of Deira, and some have suggested that Edwin might have been complicit in a coup… and basically it didn’t go the way he hoped. But whatever the case, Edwin was on the run when he appeared in our story and spent his early years going from kingdom to kingdom, seeking refuge while his family was being wiped out, and the kingdoms that offered him shelter found themselves embroiled in war.

While on the run, he married Cwenburg, the princess of Mercia, and had two sons with her. He also was sheltered by the King of Gwynedd (and probably was the foster brother of Cadwallon of Gwynedd, who was about his same age)… and as you already know, war followed him and eventually he ended up in East Anglia where King Raedwald killed AEthelfrith (after the great king lost his own son in that battle) and then he put Edwin on the throne of Northumbria.

And following that moment, Edwin seems to have gone about getting some strike back and we’re told that he killed the king of the neighboring kingdom of Elmet, probably for poisoning Edwin’s nephew. He also started dominating his neighboring kingdoms, for example he controlled much of eastern Mercia, and being that he held an absurdly powerful kingdom and had the support of the only other serious military power in the Anglo Saxon region at the time, East Anglia, it wasn’t like there was much that his neighbors could do to stop him. And where he couldn’t directly challenge the power of a kingdom, such as with the Kingdom of Kent who were powerful in their own right and also had extremely powerful Frankish allies, he found other ways to secure his position. In the case of Kent, it was through marriage to Princess AEthelburh. And with the princess came the introduction of Christianity (though as you know, Edwin wasn’t immediately convinced), and the marriage also brought four more children… Eanflæd, Ethelhun, Wuscfrea and Edwen.

  9 comments for “111 – Edwin: What Goes Around Comes Around

  1. Cindy
    January 25, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Hello Jamie! Just wondering about the picture. Where was it taken?

    • January 26, 2014 at 8:01 am

      Hatfield Chase :)

  2. craig
    January 26, 2014 at 11:21 pm

    You really hate christianity. I’m an agnostic but jesus christ give it a rest.

    • January 27, 2014 at 12:10 am

      No, actually, I don’t.

      However, it is intensely normalized in how we discuss it in our modern era and the only way to point out the mindset that the people might have been in during the conversion period is to point out how strange things like infant baptisms in the great outdoors would be to someone who had spent their entire life worshiping Thunor or Woden. And how traumatizing it might be to have two of your children die during such an event. That’s not hatred of a religion, that’s just discussing human nature and what happened.

      Frankly, I’m a little insulted.

      • July 28, 2014 at 9:52 am

        I am a little late to the conversation but it is both interesting and jarring to hear how you try to give us the pagan Saxon mindset. I mean this in a good way.

        You are right that today we have so normalized our view of what Christianity is and it so permeates our culture that to hear a “pagan” view point, or at least a reasonable facsimile, that it shakes us up. Which is good.

        I say this as someone who is a Christian on the more theologically right-wing side of things. Please keep up the good work.

        • July 28, 2014 at 6:52 pm

          Thanks! I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying it :)

  3. January 27, 2014 at 8:19 pm

    What is the name of the song in the background at around 20:42?

    • January 27, 2014 at 10:55 pm

      Intro, by The XX

  4. Danako
    October 26, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    Alternate take on the Cadwallon-Edwin dynamic: I can easily imagine the young Cadwallon being less than kind to Edwin during the time Edwin was in Gwynned. I mean Cadwallon was in line for the throne, a throne that was still actually held by his family. At the time, Edwin might have looked to Cadwallon like nothing more than a loser who was mooching off his family. And while King Iago might have accepted Edwin, Cadwallon could still have found countless ways to remind Edwin of the difference in their stations. Just a thought.

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