106 – If You Give Edwin an Inch…

Alright, so when we last left Edwin he was installed as King of Northumbria by King Raedwald, Bretwalda. And he had wielded his newly granted power to exact revenge upon King Ceretic of Elmet, probably in response to the British King poisoning Edwin’s Nephew. But for as powerful as Edwin was in the north, Raedwald was the true power in Britain. He was referred to Rex Anglorum by Bede… King of the Angles. And he was certainly that. But unfortunately, the battle at the river Idle is the last entry we have about Raedwald. He just vanishes. So lets hit pause on him for a minute and look south. To Raedwald’s neighbors in Essex.

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  1. I loved the waterfall ending. Although I wasnt in bed, it made me feel like having a nap :) This should be the new standard outtro.

  2. Is it odd that my first thought was that Paulinus sounded like Prof. Snape? Seems like a similar description.

  3. Hi Jamie, been re listening to these episodes as Edwin’s career is one of the most fascinating stories you’ve told. Quick question: How did Bede know that it was Cwichelm who had despatched Eomer to kill Edwin? The way you describe it sounds like Eomer was killed pretty quickly, so Edwin wouldn’t have had a chance to interrogate him. Did Edwin’s court all already know Eomer, and know that he was loyal to Cwichelm, so they just assumed Cwichelm had sent him? Is it possible Edwin wanted to attack Cwichelm anyway, and that blaming the assassination attempt on him was just a cassus belli for war?

  4. Or could the story even have been made up out of whole cloth by Bede to justify Edwin’s attack on Wessex? I mean, given Edwin’s attack on Gwynedd, it doesn’t seem like he was above naked power plays. Maybe Bede felt like he didn’t need to justify the attack on Gwynedd because Cadwallon was such a hated figure in Northumbria, and Welsh to boot, but an attack on a nonaggressive fellow Anglo-Saxon needed a reason if Edwin wasn’t to be painted as a villain. It would also be important to Bede that this war appear justified since it was the war that caused Edwin to (eventually) convert, and it would seem odd to claim that God had helped Edwin to win an unjustified war of aggression.

    1. That is entirely possible. Bede and other scribes were constrained by their sources, which was often hearsay. So the information about the assassination is dodgy and it definitely wouldn’t hold up in a modern court. So… who knows?

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