102 – Have Exile, Will Travel

Ok, when we left off, Edwin… the exile from Deira, had been on the run for quite some time. The King of Bernicia, AEthelfrith, now occupied the throne held by his father, and his father’s father, and so on and so forth. His sister, Acha, had given birth to a child with the man who was hunting him (and we aren’t sure what the circumstances to that were). His nephew, Hereric, had been poisoned at the court of Ceretic of the Elmet. He had married a Mercian princess, possibly as a condition for ensuring his safety and an attempt to build alliances with common enemies of King AEthelfrith. War had broken out between his former home and the British kingdoms that had offered him safety… and things had been turning against the British and towards Northumbria (with the British kingdoms of Wales being effectively cut off from their compatriots to the north, following the Battle of Chester). King Iago of Gwynedd was now dead, as well as a number of other British leaders who had stood against this menace that had risen in the North that was relentlessly pursuing him.

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  1. Spine-chillingly awesome, almost poetic in parts, description of the battle at the end! I was listening at work and had to put down what I was doing and just listen…

  2. I have listened to every episode of this podcast, but this has been my favorite yet. Jamie has reached the perfect blend of history and storytelling. Though I have struggled to remember all of the names and dates throughout the Anglo-Saxon period, Jamie’s inspired delivery will ensure that I forever remember the story of AEthelfrith, Raedwald, and Edwin.

  3. Jamie, I quite enjoyed this programme but you are leaving out crucial details, with the result that the history is coming across as a Game of Thrones-style story.
    Like, when did the battle take place? Even, in what decade? We need to know where we are in the seventh century to get a sense of the unfolding transitions of the Anglo-Saxons and British over time.
    And also, Where did the battle take place?

    1. Hi Michael, I’m sorry you feel that I was unclear in the show. As you might have gathered from the obsessive detail I go into, I try very hard to be complete. I haven’t relistened to the show since reading your comment, but as I recall I pointed out that the battle took place on the border of Deira on the banks of the river Idle. As for the year, I really can’t remember if I stated the date affirmatively. I think I said something like “Late summer or early autumn of 616” but without relistening, I can’t say for certain. It’s possible that I simply forgot to say the year outloud because we’ve been talking about 616 so much (what with the recent Battle of Chester, the death of AEthelberht, and the uncertainty with who the new Bretwalda was).

      Anyway… 616 at the River Idle. :)

      1. Thanks Jamie for such a speedy reply. Be assured that I’m a solid fan of your work. It’s great to have that date for the battle – in the second decade of the 7th century. Sutton Hoo is coming up, the foundation of Lindisfarne, the Staffordshire Hoard (?), Whitby, the Book of Durrow…. I look forward to the information you give because it helps to fill in the gaps, and make connections between between such stand-out events and the people behind them. Michael.

  4. I don’t know if you’ll see this, Jamie, but I’m finally catching up to you. Getting close, at least!

    What cultural differences do you think there would have been between the British kingdom of Elmet and the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of Northumbria, Bernicia, and Deira? How foreign would it have felt?

    1. You’re nearly caught up!

      And it’s really hard to say. Even by the time of Bede he noticed a distinct cultural difference between regions, but you also have the aristocracy mingling and sharing cultural behaviors. So it’s hard to make a clear statement on how different they would have seemed. But Elmet was British, so it was probably rather different from Deira and Bernicia. And it seems like Deira and Bernica definitely didn’t see themselves as similar. At least not at first, but overtime they did start to merge into Northumbria.

      Does that help?

  5. outstanding episode! I discovered this podcast shortly before Christmas 2014 I’ve been doing my best to burn through it as quickly as possible. I think this episode really hit the sweet spot between facts and and almost lyrical telling of what happened at the battle of the river idle. one question what was the music used in the background at the end of the episode?

  6. I’m late to this party so have been resisting the urge to comment on the old episodes as I work my way through them—but I just had to say how much I enjoyed this one. I was absolutely riveted by the description of the battle, and I can tell from the comments above that I wasn’t the only one. Excellent work, sir!

  7. Jamie,

    Amazing! I became a member not long ago and I’m listening to–or should I say devouring?–episode after episode…and I’m still FOUR big F years behind! Gosh! I think I’m suffering a sort of OCD as, as soon as I get home from job, I immediately turn my computer on and start listening to at least 5 or 6 episodes per day (not keen on listening while commuting on train, subway and bus, as I’d rather read than risk getting mugged for my iPhone). It looks like I’ll never catch up, gee!

    Anyway, kudos to you for such a brilliant narrative all throughout the episodes in general and this one in particular. I felt as if I was at the Battle of Helm’s Deep for a moment.

    You have an amazing story-telling gift and for that and the time and effort you put in these uber-detailed episodes I can only say “chapeau, Jamie” (and that coming from a History Professor…).


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