282 – How To Win Friends and Influence Jorvik

AEthelstan had completed his annexation of Jorvik, and in doing so he had outperformed every last one of his predecessors, including his grandfather, Alfred the Great. But there were a few loose ends that he still needed to knot up. And as he watched the defenses of Jorvik burn and dolled out Jorvik’s wealth to his loyal men - two of those loose ends, namely his former rivals Guthfrith and Turfrid, slunk away with little more than their lives.

They had managed to escape the stronghold and elude capture. But this wasn’t exactly the plan for people who had sought to establish their rule over the entire North.

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281 – England

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The last couple of episodes have focused on the political tools that AEthelstan had at his disposal. Marriage alliances, fostering, dynastic cults and diplomatic entreaties were all powerful pieces moving on a huge dark age chess board. And the thing I want you to realize about these things is first, that they took time. A strategic mind - a mind like AEthelstan’s - would see the long game and set his moves accordingly knowing they wouldn’t fully materialize for years to come. The second is that these tools were highly cultural. There’s nothing inherently political about marriage or fostering until a people make it so. By examining the tools that political actors wield we learn something important about the culture and society that underlies it. What it values, and how it prioritizes people and things.

And all of these slow, important tools are working constantly in the background throughout AEthelstan’s reign.

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280 – King AEthelstan’s Love Life

What is a King’s most important duty?

Is it the defense of the realm? Or perhaps the growth of the kingdom’s borders? What about developing the economy? Fostering strong diplomatic alliances? Shepherding the souls of his subjects to Christ? How about just keeping his subjects happy and healthy?

When it comes down to it, there are a lot of responsibilities that come with the crown, so it’s a bit daunting to choose one as most important. But if I had to pick… and I suppose I do, since I was the one who posed the question in the first place… I’d say that the most important duty of a King in this era was to create an heir and a few spares.

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279 – Dynastic Cults

Want to know something strange?

When Edward died, the Irish annals said nothing. Not a mention about his death, nor the circumstances of it. And it’s not like the Irish Annals were disinterested with what was happening in the Anglo Saxon kingdoms. After all, they’re the source for our story about AEthelflaed’s defense of Chester. They were so interested that they told us about the bees. And it’s not like the Irish annals didn’t bother to record deaths of Anglo Saxon figures. For example, they recorded the death of Eadwulf of Bamburgh, a man whose biggest accomplishment in the record seems to be that he was the father of Ealdred (the guy who allied with Scotland and fought against Ragnald… and lost).

But the Irish mention his death, and ignore the King of the Anglo Saxons…

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