from Woden to Cerdic
(sourced from Asser, Aethelweard, and the Anglo Saxon Chronicles)
Scef lived in the land of the Angles and Saxons, around the Baltic Sea. His son was Scyld, and his grandson was Beo. Nothing is known of them except that they were warriors of the middle iron age. They lived in the far north, over two thousand years ago, shortly before the age of christians had begun. They were prereflective men, not hobbled by a particularly sensitive conscience. They were men of action, herdsmen, hunters, and warriors. Like the celtic people of Gaul and Britain, Iberia and Eire. Like the earlier heroic people of Homeric Greece, before civilization. Before the philosophers.
Beo's son was Taetwa, the father of Yeat. Taetwa could have seen the unusual star of Christmas when he was younger, when Jesus was born far to the south in the town of the Hebrew king David's sacred threshing floor, Beth le Hem (meaning House of Bread). But Taetwa would find no such meaning in it. He may have concluded that things signified differently for each of us, and learned not to interpret portents. If that star signified for good or for bad, and for whom, he knew not. He taught his son, Yeat, how to live and when to fight. That was what he knew.
Yeat's descendants were his son Godwulf, and his grandson Finn.
Finn's son was Frithuwulf, and his grandson was Freotholaf.
Woden was the son of Freotholaf.
According to the geneology of the saxon kings of Wessex, recorded in the Anglo-saxon Chronicles, their ancestor, Woden, would have lived in the second christian century. Since the saxons practised hereditary kingship, Woden was evidently one in a line of warrior chieftains whose community survived the ages, into historical times. The most likely home of Woden's family was at Gudme, on the island of Fyn, off the east coast of Jutland in the Baltic Sea. There is a settlement there called 'Odense', which is said to mean: "Woden's sanctuary".
The first century settlement at Gudme, on the isle of Fyn, was at its most prosperous in the late roman iron age, from the years of Our Lord 200 to 300 (using the calendar popularised by Bede). So, it prospered initially towards the end of Woden's stuartship, and flourished for several generations afterwards.
Excavations there yield some of the most spectacular treasures of the age. The gold and silver trade goods, gold coins, jewel encrusted weapons, and masses of bog sacrifices, testify to an exceptionally favoured community. Somehow, the era of Woden came to be known as the days at the beginning of time. Woden's name, in particular, became associated with all the great traditions which survived from that era.
He was, according to tradition, the master of all poets. In the scandinavian custom, the poets were considered able to converse with the gods of Asgaard, the home of their ancestor heros. This high esteem for great poets was typical of all primitive western cultures, where the oral history of the tribes were preserved in epic verse. Influential poets would presumably be close relations of the chieftain.
The family of the chief warrior and the chief poet were royal in the most direct sense. They were extremely important men and women, who interpreted with wisdom all the events of our lives, and directed the community with authority.
A biography of kings entitled "Heimskringla", written in the early 1200's, credits Woden with having established the rites of worship and burial observed among the early scandinavians.
"He decreed that all the dead should be burned, and put on the funeral pyre with all their possessions. He also said that everyone should come into Valholl with all the property that he had on the pyre, and he should also enjoy the use of what he himself had buried in the earth, and the ashes should be carried out to sea or buried in the earth, and mounds should be raised in memory of men of rank...
And there should be a sacrifice at the beginning of winter for a successful year, and at midwinter for regeneration, and a third in summer which was a sacrifice for victory."
By the early middle ages, the local traditions of the late roman iron age had evolved into the religious traditions which we now associate with the viking people of the Baltic. The 10th century english chronicler, Aethelweard, says of Woden, the ancestor of the anglo-saxon kings, that "the unbelieving northerners (vikings) are overwhelmed by such great temptation that they worship him as a god even today."
So, the memory of Woden had evolved from that of ancestral chieftain, as held by the english, to that of a founding god in the norse pantheon of creation myth.
Woden's son was Baldaeg, born at the beginning of the third century. His descendants were, in order, son Brand, grandson Frithugar, then great grandson Freawine, born at the beginning of the fourth century.
In the last one hundred years of the Roman Empire, Freawine's son Wig lived in the Baltic among the Angles, with his son Gewis, and grandson Esla.
After the German people crossed the Rhine into Gaul in the year of Our Lord 407, and conquered all the Roman Legions, Esla's son Elesa was born, and then his grandson Cerdic.
After the Germans took over Europe from the Romans, nobody in power could read or write, since the german nobility were exclusively warriors, and held literary skills in contempt.
The names of the four main german tribes were:
1. Goths: There were western (visi)goths and eastern (austro)goths. Austria is still their home today.
2. Allans: The french still call the people of Germany "allemandes" today.
3. Franks: The tribe which settled west of the Rhine in old romano-celtic Gaul, which is today called France, (they refer to themselves as Gallic Francois).
4. Dutch: The germans call themselves Deutche, and so do the german people of the Nederlands (underlands: because they are below sea level at high tide).
The Romanized christians who lived among the Germans tried to keep on reading and writing, but the great Roman libraries were destroyed by the Germans (who only valued gold and slaves and bravery in war). It may have been with the blessing of the young Roman Catholic Church, which viewed the cosmology espoused by classical writings with suspicion and contempt.
By this time, the Irish monks became literate christians and loved to make books. They kept literacy alive in Europe. Eventually, the Irish monks won over the hearts of the Germanic peoples with their courage and wisdom, and taught the AngloSaxons how to read and write. But, that came later.
In the meantime, the Roman army had left Britain and travelled south across Europe to defend Rome in the year 409. But they had lost the war to the Goths, and never returned.
Elesa's son, Cerdic, heard from other Saxons who had been to Britain how good that land was, and how weak the Britons had become since the departure of their Roman Legions. Cerdic was not invited to Britain, as had been the first Saxons, but he decided to take his people from the boglands of Jutland where they lived, to the good new land of Britain. And so, the Angles and Saxons invaded Britain, landing at Portsmouth and settling inland from there, by force of arms. Leading them all, was Cerdic.
Cerdic's son was Cynric, which is a name taken from the Britons, who called themselves the Cymri. Cynric, or King Rick we might say, was the father of Ceawlin. The stories of their battles are found in the Anglo-saxon Chronicles. Everything they did was memorized and told to their childrens' children. When they learned to write, all the stories were committed to paper manuscripts, and so preserved for one and a half thousand years until today, in books called the Anglo-saxon Chronicles.
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