Saturday, April 6, 2019

New Article: The Tale Of Breeches-Aud

The story of Breeches-Aud is one of the more memorable tales in the Icelandic Laxdæla saga, a 13th-century book filled with strong female characters that were loosely inspired by women said to have lived in the 9th, 10th, and 11th centuries. Although the exploits of many people described in the sagas were embellished or even invented, the core details (genealogy, settlement locations, poetic evidence etc.) were deemed to have enough truth that later Medieval Icelanders, such as the chieftain Snorri Sturluson (c. 1179-1241), proudly and confidently traced their ancestry back to characters in the sagas. Whether or not the sagas were histories with creative license, historical fictions or pure folklore, they were feats of impressive storytelling and, as Icelandic stories go, the tale of Breeches-Aud was one of the more unique narratives.

Read this outrageously intertaining story of a tough Icelandic woman, HERE.

New Article: The Lifelong Payments Of Tribute By King Æthelred The Unready To The Danes

Æthelred the Unready became king of England in 978, following the assassination of his brother, King Edward the Martyr. Æthelred was reportedly only ten years old when he ascended to the throne, and his epithet, Unready (Unraed), actually meant “bad counsel,” as the young king’s regent, advisors and vassals gave him little sound support during his life. Yet, the modern definition of unready also fits King Æthelred, for when a relentless wave of Viking activity began plaguing England in 980, the king and the kingdom were caught totally unprepared.

Continue reading about the enormous sums that Æthelred the Unready paid to the Vikings, HERE.

New Article: 10 More Fun Viking-Age Names And The Stories Of The People They Belonged To

The heyday of the Viking age occurred between the eighth and eleventh centuries. Yet, some Scandinavian noblemen continued to embark on Viking-like activities well into the twelfth century. Jarl Rognvald Kali of Orkney (r. 1137-1158) was one such nobleman and he ironically was said to have gone raiding in the Mediterranean while on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. The Viking Age is a well-documented period, with sources from multiple sides and viewpoints. Viking Age kings wrote about their accomplishments on stone monuments, and historians such as the Icelandic Snorri Sturluson (c. 1179-1241) and the Danish Saxo Grammaticus (c. 12th-13th century) later narrated events from the perspective of Norway and Denmark. There are also substantial sources from the regions attacked by Vikings, such as chroniclers based in the British Isles and France. With such a wealth of information, much is known about the key figures from the Viking Age and their exploits during that chaotic time. Yet, Viking Age Scandinavians did not excel at only daring raids and bold seamanship—they also had some of the most creative names in all of Europe. We previously published an article listing ten fun and unique names from the Viking Age, yet that was barely scratching the surface. Here are ten more fun names and a brief summary of their lives in the Viking Age.

Check out our new and improved list of extra Viking Age names, HERE.

New Biography: The Flamboyant Tale Of King Liu Duan Of Jiaoxi

Emperor Jing (r. 157-141 BCE) and the concubine Lady Cheng had three sons named Liu Yu, Liu Fei and Liu Duan. All three brothers were quickly appointed as kings after their father’s ascendance to the throne. Liu Yu and Liu Fei were given kingdoms in 155 BCE and Liu Duan followed close behind with his appointment as the King of Jiaoxi in 154 BCE. Lady Cheng’s sons were generally well behaved when it came to respecting the authority of the emperors—they never rebelled and they had largely tranquil reigns. Liu Yu and Liu Fei both died after twenty-five or twenty-six years of rule, which had been tame and peacefully absent of drama. Liu Duan, however, who lived to rule twice as long as his brothers, quickly became the oddball of the family.
Liu Duan set up his regime in Jiaoxi like any other king. He hired an entourage of ministers and attendants to help govern his kingdom, and he also took in several concubines who would hopefully provide him with an heir to the kingdom. Yet, Liu Duan and his ministers quickly began to feud. The main point of dissent, according to Han historian Sima Qian (c. 145-90 BCE), was the relationship between the king and his concubines—or lack thereof. Apparently, Liu Duan was strictly homosexual and used every trick in the book to avoid time with his palace women. His favorite ploy was to plead illness, a tactic that allowed him to escape his concubines for months at a time.
Continue reading about the interesting life of King Liu Duan, HERE.

New Article: The Disturbing Myth Of The Horatii And The Curiatii

According to tradition, the kingdom of Rome began in the mid 8th century BCE. Despite its centuries of existence, Greek scholars did not start taking serious interest in Rome until the 4th and especially the 3rd century BCE, by which time Rome had become the undisputed dominant power in Italy and began clashing with its Mediterranean rival, Carthage. The Romans, themselves, apparently never produced a historian until around 200 BCE, around which time Senator Quintus Fabius Pictor began writing the first official native Roman historical works. Unfortunately, by the time Pictor began writing, much of Rome’s written records were likely destroyed in the Gallic sack of Rome in the early 4th century BCE, and the surviving oral history about Rome’s founding would have been incredibly corrupted after untold generations of retellings. Therefore, when a Roman scholar such as Livy (c. 59 BCE-17 CE) set out to tell the story of the founding of Rome, he had to work with dubious documentation, such as historic names without historical context, and folkloric tales that were often adapted to the structure of preexistent stories of Greek mythology.
The tragic and disturbing tale of the Horatii and the Curiatii is one of the myths that Rome created as an explanation as to how Rome expanded its influence over the nearby community of Alba Longa. Historically, Alba Longa is believed to have been in existence well before 1,000 BCE and was a powerful city in Italy until the 7th century BCE, when it was presumably challenged by Rome and ultimately destroyed around 600 BCE. While we will never know specific details of the conflict between Rome and Alba Longa, writers such as Livy preserved the conflict, albeit in a dramatic and embellished fashion, within their works on the folklore of early Rome.
Continue reading about the disturbing and tragic tale of the Horatii and the Curiatii, HERE.