198 – The Great Heathen Army Begins


On 864 or 865, a great Scandinavian fleet of Dragon ships, or Drakkars, beached themselves at Thanet in Kent.

For the people of the south, this would have been terrifying It had been scarcely more than a decade since the last fleet of Drakkars landed in Thanet, and the army exploded forth from those ships went on to raid Canterbury, London, and may have taken Winchester had they not been stopped by King AEthelwulf and AEthelbald.

And here they were again… but now King AEthelwulf was dead, as was his son, AEthelbald… all of the South was in threat. Where would the Vikings go this time? Would they strike Canterbury again? Loot the treasure chest of the south, London? Unless something was done, everyone was vulnerable.

The nobility, likely under King AEthelberht’s leadership, tried to head off the disasterand sent emissaries to the Vikingr army. These emissaries promised vast sums of money in exchange for peace. This tribute would become known as the Danegeld… the Dane Payment.

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  1. While you probably don’t normally get comments on the promo for the Members Only Feed, particularly from a non member (but long time listener) but, the comment about the “natural instincts of the animal is to charge and bully”, in regards to cattle, is wrong.

    I’ve been around cattle my whole life up to and including now. And I have indeed met a few grumpy and even mean cows, but if the natural instinct for a cow was to charge and bully, everyone in my family would be dead. The natural instinct of a cow is to flea, not charge, and generally, as big as they are, they will not normally run over a person. And this is the case for the range cattle that I’m familiar with, in the West, which are only worked by humans two or three times a year and are often moved by men on horseback.

    Granted, English cattle of the time would not be one of the various breeds of cattle we see around today, but they’d be sufficiently similar in these regards that this would still be true. Moreover, English cattle of that period, as now, were worked from the ground in generally small units so they were highly acclimated to human beings.

    Therefore, if they had any utility in a battle, the natural instinct that would have been harnessed would be panic, not aggression. Maybe you could get them to stampede into an opponent if you frightened them sufficiently. Think the scenes you’ve watched from Lonesome Dove or The Cowboys, but much less dramatic and speedy, or perhaps from Durango (the film set in Ireland), if you’ve seen that. If you had enough of them, it would at least be distracting and cause some disorder in your opponent, as you can’t maintain ranks in that situation.

    I’d also really hesitate to make the assumption that the loss of very many cattle wasn’t a big deal to the owners. In small herds like we’d be talking about the loss of very many cattle would be pretty expensive in terms of loss resources. And it isn’t really that easy to simply butcher a cow lost in that sort of situation. The butchering would be partial at best and have to happen pretty quickly, which armies resorting to cattle stampeding probably aren’t immediately ready to undertake. Having done some butchering of suddenly departed really big animals, it isn’t that easy and if very many were lost, it wouldn’t be tried. Indeed, at that time, the ability to preserve a lot of dead cattle for consumption would be limited and unless it was an occasion for a giant barbecue it’d probably just be a big loss.

      1. Ah, but most cattle aren’t bulls, and most bulls haven’t been selected for the very purpose of going after people like these ones.

        Heck, you could cull out a selection of house cats and get them to go after people, but they wouldn’t be reflective of all cats.

        As the English would have kept cattle around from some other purpose other than this, and have worked them from the ground frequently, the ones they’d have been keeping around would have been chosen for less nasty temperaments, if chosen based on their temperament at all.

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