The British History Podcast
Summary: iTunes is restricting our list to 300 episodes for some reason. To access all episodes, click subscribe. The BHP is a chronological retelling of the history of Britain with a particular focus upon the lives of the people. You won't find a dry recounting of dates and battles here, but instead you'll learn about who these people were and how their desires, fears, and flaws shaped the histories of England, Scotland, and Wales. Support the Show
This is a story of palace intrigue, murder, and atypical alopecia… and it all begins where these things usually do… with a real estate transaction.
Today is Shrove Tuesday. And if you’re not in Britain, you might be wondering what Shrove Tuesday is, and even if you are British, you might be wondering why you’re celebrating it.
If you have heard of King Cnut, what you probably heard was the story of Cnut and the Tides. The most common version of it goes like this.
Cnut made a lot of smart moves in a very short amount of time. He outlawed much of the corruption that had plagued the courts of AEthelred. He scrubbed his new kingdom of the loyalists to Edmund Ironsides. He granted key lands to key followers. Executed the main claimant to the throne, Eadwig. He executed Eadric Streona.
When we left off, Cnut had managed to get Eadric to go on the record calling for the execution of the English claimants to the throne… and then Cnut rejected the suggestion, and instead outlawed Eadwig, and exiled the sons of Edmund to Sweden.
The fall of the House of Wessex and the rise of Cnut looks like a simple story of conquest. After all, it’s right there in the title. Virtually every book on this era has a chapter called “The Conquest of England.” And for good reason… Cnut /was/ a conqueror.
Edmund hadn’t lost, and for now that was enough.
Can you feel it? It feels like there is a lull before the storm. AEthelred Unread is now gone, and Normandy is now officially on the board. 1066 is on the doorstep.
Christmas is old. Older than Christianity, in fact. As a consequence, there’s a lot to it. Symbols and traditions that come from all over the world, and from all across time. It’s a complex event that, predictably, can provoke a complex set of emotions from people.
Morcar and Sigeferth were under a lot of stress.
There are worse things than spending a holiday in Normandy. And one of those things is spending a holiday in Normandy because you just lost your entire Kingdom to the Danes.
England in 1013 was a Kingdom begging to be conquered. Decades of bad decisions have eroded its foundations and now it sat as a mere shadow of its former glory. It had none of the military prowess established by King AEthelstan. None of the political stability enjoyed under King Edgar. And none of the smart planning created by King Alfred.
So here we are. With two full companies of Jomsvikings laying waste to southern England… and in response, the nobility… the people tasked with defending the population and the Kingdom… decided that this was an excellent chance to fight among themselves, do a bit of pirating, and arrange a political marriage.
AEthelred, for the first time in quite a while, had a chance for a breather. King Sweyn Forkbeard, having been paid a king’s ransom, had withdrawn his forces with a promise never to return.