for the series Tapestry of Cumbria
set in the Kingdom of Rheged
later to be known as Cumberland or the Lake District
Land of fells, glens, meres, coombs, tarns, tors...
and one ancient city: Caer Luel (Carlisle)
The Dark Age is dark only to those of us looking back, trying to peer through the shadows of muddled records and half-remembered genealogies. To the folk dwelling back then in the midland of the Isle of Albion, that period was the bright, glorious, Golden Age of the Thirteen Kingdoms of the North.
Glints from the past beckon and tease. I reach deep into the murky depths of time, but my hand comes back grasping only torn shreds of tapestry, unraveling remnants of bye-gone days. If I put the pieces together like so, it forms one picture, but rearranged, a different view altogether. How puzzling.
Scholars argue their various timelines and scoff at legend-based traditions. We may never know the truth of what happened when, and who did it, but a novel can't be woven out of such shifting strands. I look at every source I can find, pick out some sequences of plausible cause and effect, and stretch them on my loom -- the fixed, semi-historical warp of the tales I weave with the weft of my own imagination.
And here is my choice of historical framework:
The first folk of Albion
12,000 years ago the ice age relaxes its grip. Frost giants leave the world of man, returning to the frozen wastes of Niflheim. The Quaternary Ice Age ebbs, withdrawing its glaciers to the far north and to mountain heights. The Age of Glaciers has not fled for good. It only sleeps a while. Beware its return!
At the end of the Devensian glaciation, sea levels are about 120 meters lower than during later ages. What will become the English Channel is a low-lying tundra, through which runs a river to the west, draining the Rhine and the Thames into the Atlantic.
Vegetation creeps back to repopulate the ice-scoured landscape of bogs, meres and moors, followed by birds and beasts, themselves followed by mankind. Those who settle on the downs learn to dig flint from the chalk to fashion into tools.
8,000 years ago: The seas rise with meltwater, and soon the hunters and fishers on this northern peninsula find themselves cut off from the mainland. No longer can migrants just march in and take over. The island folk now have the sea to guard their borders. It takes a determined invader to cross the channel and try to grab part of this fair land. Those who do prevail against the waves often come from the south and push earlier folk further north.
4,000-plus years ago, someone sets great stone slabs upright to march in double rows like the borders of avenues, or to stand in circles like the fencing of huge pens, or the roof pillars of giant dwellings. Who builds these? Scattered clans of giants, of incredible strength? Or well-organized hordes of mere mortals, led by designers of incredible cunning? This forgotten race works stone on stone, with no tools of metal nor any wheeled vehicles for moving their huge building blocks. (One such stone circle in Cumbria gains the name of Castlerigg, one of the oldest in Britain (~3000BC); another, Long Meg and her Daughters.)
Someone discovers that a particular kind of native Cumbrian volcanic tuff makes excellent axe blades, as hard as flint. The short, slender folk of the stone age set up a factory near the tuff quarry in the heights of the western mountains (on the flanks of Sca Fell), splitting stone for blades, finishing the shaping there or in the lowlands, and trading the valuable tool afar. Perhaps these are the folk that the Irish call the Cruithne, who build circular stone tower-houses, and carve distinctive, abstract art on exposed bedrock.
Are the Cruithne the same as the Caledonian Celts who call themselves the Priteni? The Romans name them Picts.
3,000-plus years ago, metal-wielding invaders cross the sea and conquer the earlier folk, whose weapons of stone, bone, and wood prove a poor defense. These new settlers -- a taller, stronger race some will call the "Beaker Folk"-- add to some of the earlier stone rings, build small round burial mounds, and use metal-bladed tools to hoe their fields. They know how to alloy tin and copper into bronze, a metal that takes a better edge than either of its components alone. Miners find rich tin deposits in the southern stretches of Albion. From the Mediterranean, far to the south, Phoenicians come sailing to trade rye for tin.
Legend says a Trojan named Brutus fled with followers to Albion around 1100BC. Around 950BC, a newcomer named Leill builds a fortification, Caer-Leill, and reigns as king, according to Raphael Holinshed, a 16th century historian.
(This work applies the year designations BC and AD since that was the customary usage for the cultures there in Cumbria throughout its recorded history.)
2,700-plus years ago, the first wave of Celtic invaders sweeps onto the shores of the Tin Islands about the same time that Romulus and Remus begin the settlement of Rome. These new settlers use a scratch-plow to dig into soil too stiff for hand hoes. A two-ox team now drags the hoe-blade through the turf in one direction, then plows the square-shaped field again at right angles to better break up the soil. These newcomers bring horses, as well.
Over the next few centuries, more waves rise and swell, more Celtic invaders. In their own tongue they call this great island Prydain, or Brytain, and themselves they term Bryts. Though sharing the same culture and the same language, each wave has no broad feeling of identity with their predecessors, but goes by their own tribal loyalties; though distant kin, they share no feelings of kinship. Feisty by nature, they happily give battle to the earlier Celts. One such group will be the tribe of Brigantes.
2,400-plus years ago, the Brigante tribe arrives bearing tools and weapons of iron -- the metal long said to be the bane of otherworldly beings. These Iron Age Bryts call their land Ynys y Cewri, the "Isle of the Mighty." The Brigantes are the followers of Brig, known elsewhere as Brigid or Briganti, one of the most powerful Otherworldly characters in Celtic folklore.
Since the Romans regard the beings in their own mythological schema as deities to be worshipped, they interpret the Celtic practices in the same fashion. But the Celts don't so much worship the Otherworldly beings as share the land with them and grant their mystical powers a healthy respect.
In Celtic society, women are considered equal to men. They can own property and choose their own husbands, and could even be war leaders.
2,300 years ago, Hecateus of Abdera describes the elaborate musical services held by the Celts in a Western island -- probably Great Britain -- in honour of their god Apollo (Lugh). Around this time, Celts invent chain-mail armor.
Beli Mawr (the Great) is supposed to reign as High King of Britain around 110BC, an important ancestor in the lines of the kings.
Brigantes versus Romans
2,100-plus years ago, the last wave of Celts arrives: the Belgae, who settle along the southern coast near the white chalk cliffs that rear up above the channel. They bring the deep plow which allows farming of grain. Perhaps fleeing Roman expansion, they don't dislike everything Roman. They use many utensils of Roman make, and import wine from the far south.
But Rome follows their flight with greedy eye. The Isle of Albion, the White Isle, is rich in tin and cattle, gold and hunting dogs.
55 & 56 BC With two legions the first time and five legions the second, Julius Caesar tries twice to bring the Tin Islands into his empire, but it's too far from home and the Channel crossing costs him too dearly to maintain a permanent hold. One source says his prime motive is to punish those who are aiding the Gauls on the Continent in their resistance to Roman rule.
23AD Strabo writes of British exports: corn (grain), cattle, iron, silver, gold, clever hunting dogs.
35AD Joseph of Arimathea arrives by ship, according to one delightful source, and establishes a mission preaching Christ upon the isle of Albion! Legend hints that he and other early followers of Christ take passage with Phoenician traders, fleeing persecution in the Holy Land. Thus the origin of the legend of the holy grail, and possibly the beginning of the sect of Culdee Christianity.
Legend says Joseph is granted land for his mission by prince Arviragus, kinsman of Prince Caradoc. The same source says Druidism has much in common with Christianity: trinicentric monotheism, belief in vicarious atonement and human immortality.
43AD Roman Emperor Claudius sends four legions plus auxiliaries to land in the south of Albion: an army of 40,000 men. Legendary Brytish King Gwydyr is killed, and his brother Gwairydd/Arviragus takes the throne. One source says Arviragus is king of the Silures.
43AD Cartimandua reigns as queen of the Brigantes from her massive fortification at Stanwick/Stanwix: "settlement of stone," in Anglo-Saxon. Some believe she headquarters at Barwick-in-Elmet. (Cartimandua means "sleek pony" -- echoes of the Horse Lady of the Continental Celts, Epona.) Cartimandua has taken Venutius for husband and war-leader. She allies with the Romans as a client ruler, and serves as a buffer between Roman Britain and the "barbarians" to the north. Many of the Celts see her acts as treacherous, aligning with the enemy.
This huge Brigantian confederation has its center at the hillfort of Almondbury (near Huddersfield) in the south Pennines.
56AD Cartimandua divorces Venutius, thereby deposing him as king. He turns to the anti-Roman faction among the Brigantes and ignites a civil war. Most of the Brigantes are upset with their queen, and back Venutius. He nearly wins against his ex-wife until the Romans step in to save her.
But the royal divorce leaves Brigantia in the hands of forces hostile to the Romans. Roman general Cerialis begins a fifteen-year campaign to subdue the Brigantes, leading the Ninth Legion across the River Humber and marching north.
The civitas for the Brigantes is at Isurium Brigantium at Aldborough, 50 miles NE of Almondbury, in the vale of the Ouse River.
60AD Queen Boudica (or Boadicea) of the Iceni protests the Romans appropriating her half of the kingdom after her husband dies. The Romans flog her and rape her daughters. The Iceni rise and follow her into revolt. They destroy Camulodunum (Colchester), rout a Roman legion, and slay more than 60,000 Romans, but eventually meet defeat. Boudica kills herself to avoid falling into the hands of her enemy.
61AD The Romans wipe out the Druids on the Isle of Mon (Anglesey), claiming the religious leaders inspire rebellion against the empire.
71AD General Cerialis is appointed governor of Britain and will stay for three years. He founds Eboracum to be the new capital of Brigantia (17 miles downstream from Isurium Brigantium, with access to the sea via tidal flow on the river Ouse), and campaigns against the rebellious Brigantes.
73AD Death of Arviragus, legendary king of Britain. Did such a person exist? The poet Juvenal wrote a satirical poem for a Roman emperor in which he mentions British king Arviragus "falling off his chariot-pole." Legends about Arviragus make him son of king Kimbelinus; possibly the historical Caratacus and father Cunobelinus. Arviragus' son Marius succeeds. Legend has Marius move his Brythonic headquarters to Cumbria's sparsely-populated Westmorland. Supposedly he consolidates the early Christians there and maintains the Bryt culture despite Roman interference.
75AD In another piece of lore, the Scythian Sodric with a great fleet invades the Solway, but is defeated by Marius. Another source says the invader was Roderic from a Scandinavian country, pillaging the land as far as Caer-Leill.
79AD The Romans gradually push their dominance northward, like all waves before them. Governor Agricola erects a line of forts on his march to Caledonia with the 9th Legion. In the north he encounters the fierce Picts who mark every square inch of flesh with blue patterns -- either tattoos or blue paint derived from the woad plant.
But the great Roman conquest machine bogs down. Still too far from home! They make alliances with some of the in-fighting factions, and temporarily subdue the others. Some Bryts eagerly embrace "civilization" and adopt the ways of the Romans, especially in the south. Others cling to their heritage. The Brigantes in the neck of the island are the stubborn sort.
80AD An eye-witness to Agricola's campaigns, Tacitus writes that "the Brigantes were able to burn a colony; to storm a camp..." and that North Britain's typical warrior "had been accustomed often to repair his summer losses by winter successes" against the Romans. Agricola sails around Britain to prove it is an island.
84AD Agricola defeats the Caledonians at Mons Graupius, though he doesn't stay to secure his win. The Romans use the word "Caledonii" to refer to any tribes living north of their conquered territories, whether Pictish or Brythonic.
85AD Romans and Bryts have reached a stalemate, and the optimistic and arrogant Romans consider their half reasonably secure.
90AD Romans build a series of forts from Carlisle in the west to Corbridge in the east.
98AD Tacitus writes "Germania" : "Concerning the Origin and Situation of the Germanics," and "On the Life and Character of Julius Agricola" : biographical notes about his father-in-law Agricola and his campaigns in Britannia.
100AD The line of forts fails to control the region. The Brigantes attack Roman barracks at Corbridge and Newstead.
119AD The Brigantes of Yorkshire and Northumberland erupt in wild insurrection, peaking in the year of Hadrian's accession.
122AD Roman Emperor Hadrian tours Britannia, his far northern outpost, in the sixth year of his reign. He decides to build a wall across the Isle to separate the Brigantes from the Carvetii tribe: divide and conquer. He follows Agricola's line of forts. The western end is originally built of turf topped by a wooden palisade. A Roman road parallels the Wall, crossing the country from east to west, ending at the ancient Bryt port of Caer Luel, the fortification of Luel or Ligualid. (Carlisle) The Romans Romanize the town's name and call it Luguvallum. They build a fort adjacent to the Wall and close to Luguvallum -- on the site of Cartimandua's hillfort? They name the fort Petriana.
A lesser extension of the wall continues alongside the southern shore of the Solway Firth, out until it meets the Irish Sea. In Luguvallum, the civitas or center of civic administration for the district, they build a forum, and in the town square a fountain fed by an aquaduct.
All three Roman legions stationed in Britannia -- II Augusta, VI Victrix, and XX Valeria Victrix -- participate in constructing the Wall. The 2nd Legion is based at Caerleon, the 20th at Chester, and at York, the 6th which Hadrian brought in to replace the 9th.
130AD A large cavalry regiment deploys to Luguvallum, 24 troops strong (twice the usual number), with 32 men to a troop plus officers. The fort is enlarged to house the wing known (in short form) as "ala Petriana." (160AD?)
142AD Antoninus Pius, Hadrian's adopted son and successor, orders another wall built due to renewed threats from the Picts and Scots. The troops move northward to a shorter defence line between the Forth and the Clyde, and over twelve years build the Antonine Wall, a turf rampart on a stone foundation.
The Romans organize the Damnonii Bryts into a jurisdiction that will later become Ystrad Clud or Strathclyde. They are supposed to protect the western section of the Antonine Wall, and get to keep their sovereignty as an independent kingdom. The Votadini tribe guards the eastern stretch, and come to be known as Gododdin.
The civitas, or civil administration center, for the Carvetii tribe is based at Caer Luel. The Carvetii are part of the tribal federation of the Brigantes, which may stretch so far as to include the Gododdin and part of Galloway.
156AD According to legend, King Llew proclaims his land of northern Britannia to be a Christian country, the first monarch ever to do so. Llew Mawr is mentioned among the Welsh Triads. Bede wrote that Lucius, King of the Britons, sent a letter to Rome's Bishop asking for missionaries. Llew/Lucius is also called Lles ap Coel.
158AD General insurrection between the Walls leads to the legions being withdrawn from the Antonine Wall. The troops suffer heavy casualties as the garrisons form a field army and move south. All three legions afterwards require major reinforcement. The western length of Hadrian's Wall, originally built of turf and timber, by now is rebuilt in stone.
160AD The Romans finally pacify the border folk after two years struggle.
162AD The buffer state of Gododdin between the Walls is no longer directly under Roman rule.
168AD Ptolemy dies in far-off Egypt; among his legacy is the treatise "Geography" which describes the Brigantian tribe as stretching from sea to sea, its people the most numerous in Britain.
179AD Lucius founded the first church in London, according to legend.
180AD The Caledonians breach Hadrian's Wall, kill the commanding officer, and invade Britannia, raiding for several years before signing a peace treaty with governor Ulpius Marcellus and retreating.
184AD Repairs to the Antonine Wall are completed, and it's manned again as the frontier for a few years.
An Emperor from the backwaters?
193AD Roman Emperor Petrinax dies, setting off a fierce political scramble in Rome. Didius Julianus succeeds, but is deposed and killed by Septimius Severus who also faces competing bids from Pescennius Niger and Clodius Albinus, the Governor of Britannia.
194AD Clodius Albinus allies with Septimius Severus to share a consulship. Severus defeats Niger. Albinus realizes his ally is dangerous and extracts himself from the alliance, retreating to his governorship in Britannia. Severus' assassin fails to kill Albinus.
196AD Clodius Albinus, commanding 150,000 men, proclaims himself emperor. Bringing a large part of his British garrison, he crosses to Gaul and makes Lugdunum (Lyon) his headquarters, leaving only a skeleton force to garrison Hadrian's Wall. The Brigantes plot to rise up in revolt, with their allies the Maeatae and the Caledonians.
(setting for Aria's story in BRIGAND'S BLADE.)
197AD (February) Albinus dies at the Battle of Lugdunum in Gaul. Dio Cassius records that this year the Brigantes and Maeatae lead the Caledonians in an attack on the frontier, overrun the Antonine Wall, leaving a trail of ruin on their march south through the lowlands to Hadrian's Wall. They overwhelm the few garrisons remaining there. The Bryts split into two forces: one marches up the stone road into the Pennines and through Stainmore Pass all the way to York; the other sweeps down the south road to Chester.
Severus sends Virius Lupus to quell the uprising, but without enough manpower, Lupus resorts to buying peace from the tribes between the Walls. Under orders from Severus, he divides the province into two administrative sections: Britannia Superior with a capital at Londinium, and Britannia Inferior with a capital at Eboracum. ("inferior" because it's further from Rome than Londinium)
208AD Severus comes in person to put down the revolts that have been simmering in the north. His campaigns weaken the northern tribes. He orders reconstruction and repairs on Hadrian's Wall.
209AD Emperor Septimus Severus persecutes Christians. One theory is that he is the one to martyr Saint Alban. (251-59AD the other window of probability) Supposedly at Verulamium. Saint Albans Abbey was later founded near this site.
212AD Emperor Caracalla, the successor to Severus, extends citizenship to all free-born inhabitants of the empire, though there are still social and legal distinctions between classes.
285AD Pagan Emperor Diocletian persecutes Christians for three decades, one reason being that they refuse to participate in ceremonies on festival days of emperor worship.
286AD Carausius, Governor of Britannia, declares himself Emperor over a third of the Empire.
293AD Carausius' finance minister Allectus assassinates him and usurps the throne of the British Emperor. This same year, Emperor Diocletian divides the power of the Empire with three other rulers including Constantius Chlorus. ("the Tetrarchy")
296AD Caesar Constantius Chlorus sends a force to deal with Allectus. Allectus takes many of his troops south to meet the emperor's discipline. In the void of power, the Bryts overrun Hadrian's Wall again.
Caesar Constantius Chlorus defeats Allectus. In an effort to break up this hotbed of rebellion by ambitious governors, he divides the province of Britannia into four sections: Britannia Secunda, still centered at Eboracum -- the lands of the Brigantes; Britannia Prima at Corinium (Cirenchester); Maxima Caesariensis at Londinium; and Flavia Caesariensis at Lindum (Lincoln).
Britannia Secunda is bounded in the north by Hadrian's Wall, and in the south by the rivers Humber and Mersey, and stretches east and west from sea to sea. Chlorus has Hadrian's Wall partially repaired and mans it again.
Chlorus also reorganizes the military, setting up three new commands:
- Dux Britanniarum: Duke of Britain, controls frontier area (headquarters at York)
- Comes litoris Saxonici: Count of the Saxon Shore: forts of seaward defense
- Comes Britanniarum: Count of Britain: leads the mobile field army
306AD Caesar Constantius dies while at York, and his son, Constantine, campaigning alongside his father, is declared Emperor by his troops.
311AD Caesar Galerius passes a law allowing Christians to worship openly on condition they in no way act against the established order.
313AD Roman Emperor Constantine the Great issues the Edict of Milan which proclaims religious tolerance of Christians throughout the empire, also granting them freedom to inherit and dispose of property. He is the first emperor to convert to Christianity, getting baptized shortly before his death in 337.
325AD The Council of Nicaea meets at Nicaea in Turkey to decide upon the Nicene Creed. By now, Constantine is sole ruler of the Empire.
The Migration Period
360AD Teutonic tribes raid the coasts of Britain on a large scale. The Migration Period has begun.
364AD Barbarians make another large-scale raid.
367AD In the "Barbarian Conspiracy" the Teutons attack from across the North Sea at the same time that Picts and Scotti attack from the north. Bryts overrun Hadrian's Wall yet again. After the Roman governor regains control this last time, the whole empire is becoming so weak that he doesn't have enough trained legions to man the Wall.
The Dux Britanniarum of this period has a Latinized Germanic name: Fullofaudes.
380AD Theodosius I makes Christianity the official religion of the empire.
380AD or thereabouts: Governor Magnus Maximus sends Cunedda of the Votadini (plus eight sons and a grandson) from Manau Gododdin (near the Firth of Forth) to the west to protect the Welsh shores from Irish raiders. Thus begins the realm of Gwynedd. Magnus Maximus will later be remembered fondly in Wales as Macsen Wledig, the father of the Welsh nation. "Wales" and "Welsh" are terms yet to be coined.
382AD Governor Magnus Maximus turns over responsibility for guarding the lands between the Walls to the chief of the Damnonii -- the predeccessor of the kingdom of Ystrad Clud or Strathclyde.
383AD General Magnus Maximus, realizing Rome has no real power in Britannia, declares himself Emperor of Britain, supported by his legions. He begins a campaign to dethrone Gratian as Emperor in the West, taking a large part of the British Roman garrison with him to the Continent.
388AD Magnus Maximus is assassinated by Emperor Theodosius.
395AD General Stilicho rescues Britannia from her barbarian foes, the last real aid Rome gives to her northern province. The Goths are invading Italy, and Rome diverts forces homeward.
400AD Coel Hen takes over as Duke of the Britons from a Roman predecessor. Coel is a 50-year-old of Bryt nobility. Between the Walls, Ceretic Guletic becomes the first king of Ystrad Clud (Strathclyde).
405AD Irish raiders capture Bryttish Patrick and take him to Ireland as a slave, at the age of 16.
408AD Saxons and Angles make a large scale invasion. The British civitates somehow manage to defend themselves all on their own, since most of the Roman forces had left Britain the year before.
Abandoned by Rome
410AD Emperor Honorios informs the internal government of Britannia it will have to look after its own defence, implying this to be a permanent situation. At first Coel Hen retains his Roman title of Dux Britannorium, and rules Ebrauc as a magistratum in Roman style: a kind of governorship of the region, with the likely title of prince-magistrate.
After Coel's repeated requests for aid against Irish raiders bring him no help from Rome and it becomes clear the island is on its own, the duke, now in his sixties, takes the title of king. Hen means "old," thus Coel the Old, or Old King Cole.
The southeastern parts of the Isle are left under the Count of the Saxon Shore, who probably gives himself a throne, too. In the north the Picts and some Celtic tribes were never conquered.
The Irish tribe of Scotti settle the western coast of Pictland, around Argyle. The kingdom of Dalriada arises.
411AD Patrick escapes back to Britain. He will study on the continent, and later he will return to NW Ireland as a Christian bishop sent by the pope. The druids are not happy to see him or hear his message.
418AD One source says Antonius Donatus (Welsh: Anthun Wledic), son of the earlier British king and Roman Emperor Maximus, sets himself up as king in Britain in opposition to the other self-proclaimed British kings. Supposedly he establishes his throne at Carlisle, but gets run out of Cumbria by the sons of Coel. Five years later he will die in battle with Quintillus of Strathclyde. His descendants later rule in Galloway.
420AD Coel divides his land among his sons at the end of his life, creating smaller kingdoms linked by family ties. They in turn do the same. Distant kin in Gwynedd (later Wales) refer to Coel's dynasty as the Men of the North, the Gwyr y Gogledd.
425AD The king of Powys, Vortigern -- Gwrtheyrn Gwrthenav -- claiming to be High King of Britain, hires as mercenaries the Jutes Hengist and Horsa for protection against Pict and Irish raiders.
449AD Saxon mercenaries arrive in northeast Britain, hired to protect the very cities they go on to plunder.
450AD or thereabouts: Sometime in mid-century, the kingdom of Ystrad Clud (Strathclyde) consolidates under one king -- but for how long?
455AD Ambrosius Aurelianus, King of Caer Gloui, holds the title of High King.
5th century AD: Ninian preaches Christianity to the Picts in SW Scotland. (One source says he was Bishop of Carlisle.) For the next four centuries, Ireland is the refuge of learning and the source of literary and philosophic culture for half of Europe.
470AD The Votadini chieftains unite into the kingdom of Goutodin/Gododdin.
480AD Arthur (or Arthwyr) is a war leader in Strathclyde, according to one theory. Then he may have risen to become a high war leader, rather than rising from king to high king. That's why he wouldn't appear in the annals of the kings. Carlisle environs and the North have many Arthur traditions! Arthur's Seat is a fortified height near Edinburgh; his grandmother may have dwelled in Caer Guenddoleu. If Arthur was high war leader, he may have roamed most of Britain, rallying forces against the raiders. That's why different locales would claim "Arthur was here." He or his men fought and killed the giant Tarquin in the Eden river valley. The Battle of Badon might be dated 490 or 518; Arthur's death at Camlann may be 511, 537, or 539, according to different sources.
Another theory has Arthur as war-duke for Einion, king of Ebrauc from 470-505.
511AD Arthur dies at the Battle of Camlann. (537AD according to Annales Cambriae.)
515AD Danish king Hygelac harries the Frisian coast up to the mouths of the Rhine and even further inland along the river. He has a kinsman by the name of Beowulf in the land of the Geats. (528AD)
517AD Gwynedd finally evicts the last of the Irish raiders/settlers from their last stronghold on Albion's shores: Anglesey. Maelgwn king of Gwynedd allows his countryman Saint Seiriol to build a monastery on Anglesey. (such simple monasteries "were often founded by hermits and holy men in remote locations")
Gildas calls Maelgwn "Dragon of the Isle," referring to Anglesey. Maelgwn likes to hold court at Din-Ganwy on the Conwy, which becomes a major center for the bardic arts.
530AD Constantine, King of Dumnonia, claims the title of High King, the last to preside over "all" Britain before the Anglo-Saxons take permanent stakes.
The Golden Age
of the 13 Kingdoms of the North
535AD Merchion king of Rheged dies, and his kingdom is split between his two sons. Cynmark gains North Rheged, covering the mountainous area that will one day be known as Cumbria, and his brother Elydir rules South Rheged and (possibly) the Isle of Man. Now peaks...
Nine of those kingdoms are ruled by descendants of Coel Hen: North Rheged, South Rheged, Elmet, Craven (Dunoting), the Peaks, Ebrauc, Deywr (although this may be only a province of Ebrauc rather than a separate kingdom), Gwenddolau, and Bryneich (which has only 12 years left until its fall).
536AD Severe cooling of the northern hemisphere results in "a failure of bread" as recorded in the Annals of Ulster. A massive volcanic eruption or meteor strike may have sent up a long-lasting veil of dust that obscured the sunlight. Historians noted the tragedy, as did tree rings and ice cores. Results: crop failures, famines worldwide.
540AD (approx.) Gildas writes about the Roman evacuation of Britain a century earlier. Born in Ystrad Clud (Strathclyde), the monk lives most of his life in Gwynedd (Wales).
541AD Bubonic plague strikes in Egypt, then in two years in Constantinople; a year after that it will spread to the middle Rhine and to Ireland
545AD Maelgwn King of Gwynedd claims the title of High King over the Bryt-held parts of Albion.
547AD Raiders pillage on the coasts, from -- among other places -- Ireland and the German shores. This year the Kingdom of Bryneich falls to Angul invaders in a bloodless coup, and its king fights back unsuccessfully from exile to the north. No longer thirteen kings of the north... The tide has turned.
From time to time the kings of Britain form a loose alliance to battle these raiders. The most esteemed among the kings is granted the title of high king.
549AD (547AD according to the Annales Cambriae) The Yellow Death sweeps Europe, among its victims, the high king of Albion: Maelgwn of Gwynedd (Wales). His illegitimate son Rhun the Tall steps up, assuming the title of High King.
551AD The Yellow Death reaches the Cumbrian vales.
553AD Allying with the Dalriada Scots, Morcant, King of Lesser Ystrad Clud, rebels against his elder brother Rhydderch Hael. The Scots king, Aedan mac Gabhran, torches Rhydderch's capital at Caer Alt Clud. Aedan pursues Rhydderch to Caer Rhydderch (just north of the Sea of Rheged) and takes that caer as well. Rhydderch flees to Ireland. While in exile Rhydderch converts to Christianity.
Meanwhile, back in Ystrad Clud, Morcant persecutes the Christians. One highly respected monk (perhaps a bishop) leaves the northern kingdom to seek refuge in Gwynedd, preaching through the dales of Cumbria on his way. On the shores of Derwentwater, Mungo the monk plants a cross in a field and begins to preach. A church springs up on the site, there in the cross-field. (Crosfeld, later named Crosthwaite by the norse; even later to become the heart of a parish.)
According to late medieval Welsh tradition, Rhydderch possesses a magical sword called Dymwyn: White-Hilt, one of the Thirteen Treasures of the Island of Britain.
559AD Elidyr disputes Rhun's claim to the high kingship. King of South Rheged, Elidyr's wife is Maelgwn's legitimate daughter, and thinks this gives him better claim than a bastard has. He sails to Anglesey in Gwynedd to force the issue, but is killed in battle at Cadnant Brook (another source says at Aber Mewdyus in Arvon).
560AD The Kingdom of Deywr falls to the Anguls on the east coast, who rename it Deira. The tall flaxen-haired invaders now hold land to both north and south of the Bryt kingdom Ebrauc, formerly Eboracum. Further south, the Saxons are hacking out their own kingdoms.
560AD In revenge for the death of his brother Elidyr, Cynmark the Dismal of North Rheged allies with cousins and kin, including Rhydderch Hael King of Ystrad Clud (is he still in exile?), and attacks Gwynedd. At first they devastate the country around Caer-yn-Arfon (Caernafon) but then get trounced and driven out by King Rhun.
(setting for HERO'S SHIELD, Gwen's story in BRIGAND'S BLADE, VAGABOND'S DAGGER)
561AD Rhun of Gwynedd marches in retaliation, sacks Caer Luel, then continues north to give help to his half-brother Brude/Bridei, who is lobbying to become king of the Picts.
563AD Columba (b. ca. 521AD in Donegal) comes to Iona on a mission from the Irish church. He establishes an abbey there among the Picts, and a school for missionaries.
570AD In Brittany, Gildas the Wise dies. A native of north Wales, he wrote narratives of post-Roman British history. Mohammed is born far, far away.
573AD In the Battle of Arfderydd, the brothers Peredyr and Gwrgi, joint (?) kings of Ebrauc, ally with Rhydderch of Ystrad Clud to fight their cousin Gwenddolau, king of a small realm just north of the Sea of Rheged (the Solway Firth). Gwenddolau falls in battle, and his bard, Myrddin, goes mad. The neighboring King Cynmark of North Rheged grants Caer Guenddolau to his son Llew. (Llew and Guenddolau are 3rd cousins, tracing their ancestry back to Ceneu son of Coel Hen.)
Was Morcant of Lesser Ystrad Clud defeated at this time as well? Rhydderch now invites Mungo to return to his kingdom. Mungo will preach for eight years in Dumfriesshire before returning to Glasgow.
579AD Llew's brother Urien inherits the throne of North Rheged. Some sources call him Urien Rheged; others name him as High King of the Bryts. His contemporary, the highly-esteemed bard Taliesin, writes poems in praise of Urien and his son Owain.
Bryt kingdoms erode
580AD The kingdom of Ebrauc falls to the Anguls, who now possess all the east coast north of the river Humber.
588AD The king of Bernicia seizes Deira: in-fighting among the Anguls?
589AD Constantine, High King of Britain, converts to Christianity, according to the Annales Cambriae.
590AD At the Battle of Catraeth, a confederacy of Bryts comes together against the Angul threat. The dispossessed Morgantbulc of Bryneich (now Bernicia) and Rhydderch Hael of Ystrad Clud join Rheged and Elmet in hostilities against the Anguls, and are present at the siege of Ynys Metcaut (Lindisfarne).
The Bryts nearly succeed in driving the Bernicians out of Britain. Tragically, the confederation falls apart when, in the midst of the warfare, High King Urien Rheged is assassinated -- a plot devised, some think, by Morgantbulc. Urien's son Owain map Urien, the last powerful king of North Rheged, continues the war against Theodoric, and Theodoric's successor Æthelric (both sons of Ida).
The famed poet Aneirin writes "Y Gododdin" to memorialize the Battle of Catraeth.
590AD Ceredig begins his reign in Elmet. One source says there is a Keredic who is High King of Britain for a period after Maelgwn.
592AD Æthelfrith son of Æthelric becomes king of Bernicia. The Bryts call him Æthelfrith Flesaur: Æthelfrith the Twister.
595AD Craven falls to the Anguls. The Golden Age loses another one of the thirteen kingdoms -- this one, high in the Pennines and sometimes called Dunoting, an Angul term referring to the followers of king Dynod. [added note: the name "Craven" may be of norse origin; see info about Rampsholme under 872AD]
597AD "Romanists... arrive in England to work among the Pagan Jutes in Kent, and soon thereafter among the Angles and Saxons in Eastern England. They were stoutly resisted by the... Culdee Christians [of Irish and Ionan monasticism] who had been there for many centuries, especially in the west and the north of Britain." One of these Romanists is a Benedictine monk, Augustine from Rome sent by Pope Gregory. By the next year, he will settle in Canterbury as its first archbishop.
600's Celtic replaces Latin in courtly circles. Christian monasticism grows in popularity since it suits the pastoral Celts. There is bitter controversy about determining the date of Easter: the remote Celtic Church continues using the old 84-year cycle after the Roman Church switched to 19-year cycle.
602AD Æthelfrith gains Deira and so rules all the east coast north of the Humber. Northumbria is soon recognized as the most important of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy: seven English kingdoms: Kent, East Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, Wessex, Sussex, Essex.
604AD Augustine has the British monks at Bangor massacred by Æthelfrith, King of Northumbria, and Ethelbert of Kent. About 1200 monks were killed for aiding (through prayer) the Saxons' Bryt opponents in battle. Fifty monks escaped. (A monastic cathedral was sited at Bangor Fawr on the Menai Straits, and a later monastery sat at Bangor-is-y-Coed, upon the Dee, both founded by Deiniol Gwyn (the Blessed), son of Dunaut, king of Dunoting/Craven. Dunaut himself may have been the abbot there. Deiniol lived around 535-584.)
613AD At the Battle of Caer Legion (Chester), South Rheged falls to the Anguls. Now the Bryts of North Rheged are cut off from their kin and allies in Wales, and in the kingdom of Elmet.
The Rise of Angul-land
616AD North Rheged and Elmet fall to the Anguls, and Prydain is no more. Elffin, last king of North Rheged, dies this year (in the battle?), and the surviving nobility flee across the Solway to their allies in Ystrad Clud. "... a rump enclave survives up against Alt Clut's southern border." Edwin, king of the Anguls, first wins his kingdom of Northumbria from Æthelfrith and now exacts tribute from the Bryts still in Rheged.
Edwin also conquers Ynys Manau (the Isle of Man). "Edwin's realm included the former Roman cities of York and Carlisle, and both appear to have been of some importance in the 7th century, although it is not clear whether urban life continued at this period." "The routine of kingship in Edwin's time involved regular, probably annual, wars with neighbors, to obtain tribute, submission and slaves." These wars often don't get recorded, they are so mundane! Edwin may occasionally visit Carlisle to dispense justice and eat up the taxes the locals had to pay. "Food renders given in tribute."
During the erosion of Bryt power, Penllyn in Powys is a refugee center for many Northern British royal families. The nobility may flee for political reasons, but the commoners remain to work the land as they've done for generations.
Edwin's reign has been considered the most advanced culture in England, but maybe that's just a Saxon viewpoint!
630AD At Sutton Hoo a ship burial takes place. Who is interred?
654AD The Saxons name the Brits "barbaric foreigners": Welsh.
655AD Bernicia and Deira merge. Rienmelth ferch Royth of the royal house of Rheged marries Oswy, the first king of a united Northumbria -- driving a wedge between Strathclyde and Wales.
664AD A plague hits the southern coasts and eats into Northumbria. At Whitby in Yorkshire, the king of Northumbria calls and presides over the Synod of Whitby where Roman Christians and Celtic Christians debate the difference in calculating the date of Easter, the most important date in the religious calendar. King Oswiu rules. He decides his realm should adopt Roman practices. "Irish church practices and Roman reconciled."
670AD Upon the death of his father, Ecgfrith, King of Deira, acquires Berniccia as well. Within the decade, "Ecgfrith drives out the native Bryts" (in the area that will become the barony of Appleby) to establish Northumbrian supremacy. However, Brytish Cumbrian was still spoken there in some form until the 11th century.
681AD "Final conversion of the English to Christianity."
682AD The Saxons have control of the south except for Cornwall. A plague rages in Britain.
685AD Saint Cuthbert, an Anglo-Saxon monk from Lindisfarne, tours Carlisle, marvelling at the Roman ruins and the fountain that still spouts water. Bede writes in his "Life of Cuthbert" about a settled Christian community in Carlisle in the 7th century.
One of Cuthbert's disciples, Saint Herbert, makes a hermitage on an island in the center of Derwentwater. Bede calls him "the hermit of Derwentwater."
By now, many of the former nobles of Rheged have journeyed across the sea to Britanny. One source says that as the Anguls and Saxons pushed westward, some of the Bryts emigrated to Brittany and set up their own small kingdoms, retaining control from afar of Cornwall and NW England where kingdoms such as Dumnonia and Rheged survived!
685AD Urien's grandson marries into Bernicia, sliding Rheged into a peaceful union with Northumbria. The Anguls begin settling into their new western territory, farming the lowlands, avoiding the haunted ruins of earlier inhabitants. They form settlements of tons and hams and wicks. (Keswick is Anglo-Saxon for "cheese farming-place," though it doesn't gain that name until centuries later.)
The Bryts have always dwelled in the heights. Do they remain in full strength, with separate culture and lifestyle? Do they mingle and intermarry? Or do the Angles oppress and deride them as they have before and will continue to do in other parts of their realm?
686AD Northumbrians are seriously troubled by plague; Picts and Scots escape it.
717AD Pictish king Nechtan son of Derile expels the Ionan monks.
735AD The Venerable Bede dies at Jarrow, a monastery at the east end of Hadrian's wall. The scholar later is called "The Father of English History." He was a skilled linguist and translator, well-versed in Latin and Greek.
741AD Oengus Mac Fergus, King of Pictland, north of the Forth and Clyde, pushes the Scots out of his realm.
756AD Eadberht of Northumbria defeats Ystrad Clud in battle and takes tribute, but Northumbria is too weak to retain its hold. For the next century Ystrad Clud is up for grabs -- a grabbag of English, Scots, Danes, Norse.
768AD "Easter is changed among the Britons" according to the Annales Cambriae. Elfodd, a Welsh bishop, persuaded the Welsh church to adopt the Roman Catholic method of determining the date of Easter.
772AD Charlemagne embarks upon three decades of ruthless battle for conquest against the Saxons, forcibly converting them to Christianity. (How Christian is that? Not!)
778AD A rear guard of Charlemagne's troops, returning with booty from a campaign in Spain, gets attacked and slaughtered by Basques: the Battle of Roncevaux Pass. Among the troops is at least one Bryt (Hruodland of Brittany) and Roland, the hero later immortalized in the Song of Roland (one of the earliest chansons de geste) which will in 1066AD be sung to the Norman troops before the battle at Hastings.
781AD A scholar from Northumbria journeys to the court of Charlemagne to teach him logic, rhetoric, and astronomy. At this time, Eoforwic (once called Eboracum, later to be called York) has the largest library north of the Alps.
782AD Charlemagne has 4,500 Saxons executed on a single day in his campaign of subjugation.
The fury of the northmen
789AD The world's climate is warming. Population booms. The Norse don't have enough land to support everyone. Second sons (and third and fourth...) don't inherit, so they go a-viking, in trade or in raid.
The first known landing of vikings in England. They begin raiding the Cumbrian shores, as well as many other coastal areas in these isles.
793AD The first viking raid on Lindisfarne, a message of strength and defiance being sent to Charlemagne in this pre-emptive strike, lashing out at the local center of Christianity.
795AD Vikings begin attacking Ireland and Scotland.
800AD or thereabouts: British historian Nennius writes his "Historia Britonum," working from ancient writings, Roman annals, and chronicles of saints to produce a drastically Romanized and Christianized view of British history. He claims the Britons derive from a Trojan and Roman ancestry. He describes Arthur as a military Imperator, or dux bellorum: a war leader, not a king.
The Annales Cambriae is compiled in Wales sometime in the next decades.
814AD Charlemagne dies, leaving his empire to his son Louis.
825AD The king of Gwynedd -- last of the royal bloodline of Rheged, wedded to the last of the royal bloodline of Gwynedd -- dies childless, and Gwynedd invites a member of Strathclyde nobility to rule their land. Around this time, the heirs of South Rheged abandon the Isle of Man. Too many invading norsemen to handle.
830AD Twenty years of continuous viking raids on southern England and France begin.
839AD Swedish vikings reach Constantinople; others attack the Picts of northern Britain.
840AD Vikings overwinter in Dublin for the first time.
844AD First viking raid on Spain.
850AD Vikings overwinter in England for the first time, at Thanet.
850AD The Picts and the Scots unite under Kenneth mac Alpin, king of Scots, and so ends the Pict nation. The Scots swamp the national identity of the Picts.
865AD According to saga, Ragnar Lodbrok, a famous Danish raider, is shipwrecked on the coast of Northumbria and captured by King Ælla, who throws him into a pit of snakes.
Halfdan Ragnarsson arrives on the east coast with his "great army" in revenge for the murder of his father Ragnar. Over the next couple of years he conquers Northumbria and takes York, renamed from Anglo-Saxon Eoforwic to Danish Jorvik. Some of his army settles there.
Widely unpopular because of his cruelty, people call him Halfdan of the Wide Embrace. He sets up an Anglo puppet king, Ecgberht. According to the Annales Cambriae, the Bryts call the Danes "black gentiles" -- for their dark hair? Or for their evil manners?
869AD The Danes defeat the East Anglian king Edmund.
870AD The Great Summer Army arrives on the east coast of Britain, bringing Danish reinforcements.
The other side of the North Sea, a decisive battle unites the realm of the Nord Way. Many of those on the losing side flee to the isles around the north and west of Albion. Some begin settling Iceland. (An often-quoted nineteenth century writer placed this battle of Hafrsfjord at 872AD; some scholars think it may have taken place decades later.)
871AD Alfred the Great begins his 28 year rule in Wessex.
Norse exiles return to the coast of Norway on raids, plaguing their homeland before returning to their island refuges.
872AD Harald Hårfager, king of Norway, sets sail with a war fleet across the North Sea. He intends to put an end to any such rebels from his realm persisting in summer raids back in their homeland. When they get word of his coming, norse refugees on the Isle of Man flee that haven and move inland into Cumbria. (An example of norse naming in Cumbria: One of the islands in Derwentwater is named Hrafns holmr (wild garlic island): Rampsholme.)
The Angles hold the lowlands. Bryts still dwell in the mountains. Most of the norse head for high land, far from the pursuit that comes by sea. One source, Nicholas Size, says they come from Telemark and Hardanger in Norway -- mountainous country -- so they must feel right at home in the fells and dales of Cumbria. Size describes the population in this area as becoming half-Bryt and half-norse.
872AD Halfdan's brother and war companion Ivar the Boneless dies. Halfdan faces off against Alfred of Wessex in the south.
(setting for most of SMITH'S HAMMER)
876AD After Northumbria revolts against the puppet king the Danes had set over them, Halfdan thunders up from the south in wrathful revenge. He truly has a wide embrace.
After smashing the Anglo rebellion, he smites the Picts and strikes west to clobber Ystrad Clud, the last stronghold of Bryts in the north. He seiges, captures, and sacks their capital Alt Clut, which later is called Dumbarton. (barton means briton) "The power of the Strathclyde britons was broken by the vikings." Halfdan takes captive the "last Bryt king" of Ystrad Clud, and under political pressure has him killed. After this, Ystrad Clud is ruled by a Rhun, the same Scot who had applied that political pressure.
The remaining Bryts move upstream about twelve miles to Govan (SW part of Glasgow). In succeeding years, the Scots will take control of the area and rename the kingdom to Strathclyde.
Historians often used the terms "Strathclyde" and "Cumbria" interchangeably, so it is likely that it's in this same campaign that Halfdan in great rage marches an army to destroy Caer Luel. Halfdan "...laid Carlisle in ruins, so that for two hundred years it laid waste, and large oaks grew on its site. ... Rufus... found the site of Carlisle a ruin, a waste chester; it had been so since Halfdene the Dane."
What are the relations between Norway and Denmark in this year?
Alfred the Great
878AD Alfred the Great of Wessex defeats the Danes at Edington and brings about the Peace of Wedmore. Under the new Danelaw, Halfdan can have the lands of Northumbria and Strathclyde except for Deira. By now, the land of Rheged is ruled by a jarl. Is the jarl subject to Halfdan? The Saxons called Alfred their king "Engele hirde": England's shepherd. They call the vikings "wolfcoats" and "berserks."
Strathclyde is ruled for two years by Rhun's son, Eochaid.
880AD Donald II rules in Strathclyde which takes in most of former Rheged. He's the cousin of Eochaid, and rules for 28 years.
884AD Rhodri Mawr (the Great) unites all of Wales. He reigns for 32 years.
890AD Donald II expels the Brytish aristocracy who flee to north Wales.
892AD The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle is compiled during the reign of Alfred the Great. It contains records of events in the history of the Anglo-Saxons.
895AD "The Northmen came and laid waste Lloegr" -- the ancient Bryt name for what by now is called Angle Land: England. (From the Annales Cambriae.)
900AD For the next couple of centuries, Strathclyde is sometimes called North Cumbria. Strathclyde (by whatever name) is one of the few Bryt kingdoms never to be conquered by either the Anguls or the Normans. Eventually it merges peacefully with the Scottish crown.
By the late 900's, the link between Britanny and Cumbria is worn to near nothing. However, the language and culture of the native Bryts remain in parts of Cumbria.
902AD The Vikings are expelled from Dublin. They recapture it 15 years later.
911AD Rollo (Hrolf Ganger), son of Harald Hårfager's ally Ragnvald, founds Normandy.
927AD Æthelstan brings Northumbria under West Saxon control, to last for the next 12 years. He is Alfred's successor, over a unified kingdom.
937AD Æthelstan defeats a combined northern army made up of Irish vikings, Scots, and Owain of Strathclyde, at the Battle of Brunanburh. Thus ends all Brytish hope of driving the Saxons from their shores. Having consolidated his power over Northumbria and Wessex, Æthelstan takes the title "King of all Britain."
Dynmael/Dunmail/Dyfnwal of Cumbria remains neutral. He maintains a stronghold in the valley that will later cradle Thirlmere.
937AD The king of Gwynedd distances himself from his English overlord. The Bryts start to use the term "Cymry" to refer to their kin. Foreigners are called "allmyn." (ellmyn: Germans)
939AD The Irish Norse retake Northumbria.
943AD Welsh king Hywel Dda sees a black sheepdog take a flock of sheep out to graze in the hills, and come back with them in the evening. Impressive! He makes a law that a good sheepdog is worth a prime ox. He reigns from 942-950AD over Gwynedd, Powys, Seisyllwg, and Maelienydd.
944AD Æthelstan's son Edmund takes Northumbria.
945AD Dynmael, the last king of Cumberland, flees from a Saxon-Scot league, the combined forces of King Edmund and Malcolm of Scotland. They defeat him at Dunmail Raise (not too far from Raven's Crag). His sons flee with the crown jewels and cast them into Grizedale Tarn to prevent the enemy from taking them as booty. Edmund captures the sons and in fury has their eyes put out.
Some legends say Dynmael dies in battle. Others say he goes into exile and dies later on pilgrimage to Rome.
Edmund gives Cumbria and Strathclyde to Malcolm. According to the Annales Cambriae, "Strathclyde was laid waste by the Saxons."
900's The climate warms, clearing the sea of icebergs and reducing the severity of storms at sea. Conditions favor longer sea-voyages than before, a situation the norse take advantage of for the following three centuries.
947AD In rebellion against Eadred, Edmund's successor, Northumbria welcomes Eirik Bloodaxe as king. But only for a few months. Northumbria gives in to Eadred's demands and evicts Eirik. But not for long...
952AD The Northumbrian's drive out their sub-king and again welcome Eirik back. But not for long...
954AD Eirik gets kicked out of York and pursued by his enemies, possibly heading for Strathclyde or the Hebrides. He is killed not far from the ruins of a Roman army base in the Stainmore Gap, from which point you can see Edendale below, and the mountains in the west. This is the boundary between the Northumbrians and the Westmoringas (a norse term).
Eirik will be known as the last independent king of Northumbria. After him the realm is ruled by earls.
The Rey Cross near Stainmore Gap may have been set up as a memorial at the site of his death. (rey: norse hreyrr: "boundary")
961AD Vikings begin raiding Wales.
965AD The Danes convert to Christianity.
966AD The area that would later be known as the barony of Appleby is extensively colonized by Norse settlers. Thored son of Gunnar harries the area, according to the Saxon Chronicle.
971AD Strathclyde regains independence for a 45 year period (until the beginning of the reign of Cnut).
978AD All of England passes into Danish hands during the reign of Æthelred the Unready, for 38 years, until the coming of Cnut.
979AD The Court of Tynwald sits its first session in governing the Isle of Man, at the start of the world's longest-lasting parliament.
991AD Olaf Tryggvason defeats the English at Maldon. They must pay 10,000 pounds of money in tribute to the Danes.
1000AD Iceland converts to Christianity; Leif Erikson winters in Vinland.
1002AD 24,000 pounds of money is paid in tribute to the Danes.
1000AD During the first part of this century, someone imports to England the craft of weaving on horizontal looms, which is taken up by men, while women continue to weave on warp-weighted looms. Women will continue to produce household needs, while men will begin a cloth industry for trade.
People now refer to Albion as Engla-land: England.
1005AD A great famine strikes.
1009AD An English revolt fails.
1016AD Cnut the Great wins the throne of England. This Danish prince also ascends to the throne of Denmark two years later. Ten years after that, he also wins Norway!
1018AD By now, the king of the Scots has control of Lothian so that his realm reaches as far south as the Tweed River. The Scots have also gained dominion over Cumbria and have given its rule to the heir to the throne.
1030AD Cnut the Great dies.
1037AD Cnut's son Harold Harefoot rules England for three years.
1040AD Cnut's other son Harthacnut rules England for two years. Macbeth kills Duncan, king of Scots.
1042AD Edward the Confessor of the House of Wessex rules England until shortly before the Norman Conquest.
1054AD Siward, Earl of Northumbria, takes Cumbria away from the Scots.
1055AD Tostig Godwinson becomes Earl of Northumbria, which includes Westmorland. The west border of Wesmorland: Windermere, Helvellyn, Ullswater; north border: Penrith to Appleby and up over Stainmore Gap. Cumberland is to the north of Westmorland.
1058AD Duncan's son Malcolm becomes King of the Scots. His realm does not include Caithness in the north, held by the Norse, nor Lothian, held by the English, nor Strathclyde/Cumbria, with a strong Norse Gaelic identity.
1061AD Malcolm King of Scots makes the first of five invasions seeking more territory to the south of his realm. He marches into Northumbria and then westward, and takes control of Cumbria, south of the Solway, from the English earl. He also takes booty and many slaves.
And then come the Normans
1064AD Harold Godwinson, earl of East Anglia and of Wessex and of Hereford, gets shipwrecked on the shores of Normandy. A local count captures him. He is redeemed by William II ("the Bastard"), Duke of Normandy. William persuades Harold to promise to deliver England to the Normans upon the death of Edward. William is the son of Edward's cousin.
1066AD Edward the Confessor dies childless in January, and political vultures begin to circle. Who will win the throne of England? Succession is determined not by inheritance but by the Witenagemot, the assembly of the kingdom's leading nobles. They select Harold to be king. Not William. Harold reneges on his promise to William.
Meanwhile, Harald Hardrada invades York with 300 norse ships and 11,000 men, wins a peaceful surrender, takes hostages, and sets up a gathering point for supplies at Stamford Bridge nearby. The English army led by King Harold Godwinson surprises Hardrada's local ally, his own brother Earl Tostig Godwinson. The English wipe out the lightly armed norse, killing Tostig and Hardrada.
Less than three weeks later, the English king is killed at Hastings when the Normans invade. Duke William II of Normandy wins the kingdom. Many Breton lords follow the banner of the Conqueror into England.
1067AD English Gospatrick buys the earldom of Northumbria from William the Conqueror. Northumbria controls the western lands of Westmorland and Cumberland.
1068AD The English of the north try to reestablish an English kingdom. Gospatrick joins in an ill-fated rebellion against the Normans, and flees into exile. William will strip his earldom from him within four years.
1069-1070AD The Harrowing/Harrying of the North. William the Conqueror lays waste much of the rebellious north, burning whole villages and slaughtering the local Anglo-Scandinavian population. He destroys foodstores and livestock, and salts the fields, so the survivors face starvation.
Many refugees flee to the mountains, overwhelming the resources of their new hosts. In spite of the cost, the norse uphold their long-standing tradition of hospitality.
1070AD Rhys ap Tewdwr, a prince from South Wales who had traveled to Brittany, returns with the tales of Arthur's Round Table, foreign to the land where Arthur had actually lived out his life.
In Scotland, King Malcolm makes another foray south, consolidating his hold on Cumbria and ravaging Teesdale.
In the mountains, Earl Boethar rules the half-Bryt half-norse locals from Boethar-mere: Buttermere. Close by is Crummock Water, the only lake in the mountains to keep a Bryt name through the years. Boethar organizes an effective guerrilla resistance against the Normans.
Around this time, William le Meschin succeeds in taking Ravenglass, on the coast, from Earl Boethar and driving him inland. Ranulf le Meschin holds Carlisle and Penrith. Boethar's forces plunder supply trains sent to these Norman-held outposts.
1072AD William the Conqueror marches north to Abernathy and intimidates Malcolm, taking hostages to ensure the subjugation of the Scots. He grants the lands of Cumbria, formerly held by Gospatrick, to Ranulf le Meschin and his brother William. To William le Meschin go the western mountains and their flanks down to the sea. Ranulf gains the eastern mountains of the Lake District, Carlisle, and the Eden valley, which serves as a supply route for both him and his brother.
In Canterbury, Archbishop Lanfranc adopts the title of "primate of all Britain," though he accepts the authority of the archbishop of York over Durham and northwards, including all the realm of the Scots.
1079AD While William the Conqueror is off in Normandy, Malcolm harries Northumbria as far south as the Tyne River. William sends his son Robert to deal with Malcolm and put him in his place. On his way back, Robert orders the beginning of a formidable new castle on the Tyne.
1086AD The Domesday Book is completed -- a great survey of much of England and parts of Wales, ordered by William the Conqueror. He needs to know the worth of properties so he can levy taxes. The Buttermere area is not listed in the Domesday Book, for the half-Bryt half-norse natives refuse to submit to the Normans. Ranulf le Meschin begs for reinforcements so he can secure the roads and supply routes, but King William is occupied with more pressing matters in Normandy.
When Frisian weavers flee rising sea levels flooding their homeland, (global warming has happened many times in the past!) William the Conqueror settles them in the Carlisle area. His wife is also Frisian: Matilda of Flanders.
1087AD William the Conqueror dies, and his son William II (known as William Rufus) ascends to the throne of England. While the new King of England is off in Normandy, Malcolm invades for the fourth time, penetrating nearly as far south as Durham. Both Robert and Rufus march north and subdue him again.
At some point, according to Nicholas Size, Ranulf le Meschin rallies all the men available to him and tries to penetrate the mountains in search of Earl Boethar's stronghold. Not only does he fail in the attempt, but he loses Carlisle while it sits undefended. (One source places this around 1070AD.)
1092AD William Rufus marches again to Cumbria and drives out Malcolm's client king Dolfin, son of Gospatric, and the Scots from the land of Carlisle, annexing the northern portion of Westmorland to the crown of England. Rufus fortifies Brough-under-Stainmore, Brougham, Appleby and Pendragon. He sends in Saxon settlers and divides the area into several baronies, Westmorland and Kendal among them.
Carlisle Castle is first built (wood palisade on ditched mound) during the reign of William Rufus. William Rufus orders construction of a Norman style motte and bailey castle on the site of an old Roman fort, construction beginning this same year.
The King of Scots pays a visit to Rufus' court. The King of England informs Malcolm that he is merely a baron of the English realm.
One source says this is the year that Earl Boethar fended off William Rufus' attack at Grasmere.
1093AD Malcolm invades England for the fifth and final time, and dies in battle.
One source says that Earl Boethar's son Ackin/Haakon defeated Ranulf this year in a battle near Shap.
1100AD William II dies; his brother Henry I becomes King of England, to reign for 35 years.
Ranulf is still expending men and resources in a fruitless battle against Earl Boethar in the mountains. One source says that in this year Ranulf tries to penetrate into Earl Boethar's heartlands but is defeated on the route from Keswick to Buttermere.
1105AD A highly documented source puts in this time frame (circa 1105) the conclusive battles between Ranulf and Boethar. William le Meschin prevails at Brackenthwaite, but then Boethar prevails at Rannerdale, ending the whole conflict. (perhaps I'll nudge this event to 1111AD...)
1111AD The "barbarian" locals of the Carlisle area (see 1086) cause the foreign Frisian weavers so much trouble that King Henry moves them out of Cumbria to the Pembroke area in Wales.
(setting for MINSTREL'S STAFF)
1120AD The sinking of the White Ship.
Ranulf le Meschin becomes the third earl of Chester. He never did rout Earl Boethar from the mountains. Folklore in the Buttermere area says a great battle was fought against the Normans in Rannerdale, and that the invaders were slaughtered. Nicholas Size supposes that Ranulf fled in disgrace until this year when he is restored to an honorable position, far from the trouble-makers in the mountains.
1122AD King Henry visits Carlisle, and he orders the castle strengthened. A stone castle is built on the site of Caer Luel; a keep and city walls are started, to be finished by Scottish King David. David opposes the Culdees, and the Roman church persecutes them. (Each Culdee house is an independent establishment controlled entirely by its own abbot.) Some Culdees convert; the others dwindle in numbers over the next two centuries.
1123AD Work is begun on an Augustinian Priory in Carlisle. Ten years later it will become a cathedral.
1124AD A Savigny Order of monks take up residence at Tulketh on the Ribble, one mile below Preston. This order was founded twelve years earlier in northern France. The monks wear grey habits.
1127AD The Savigny monks begin building an abbey at Furness. (Keswick will develop strong links with this Abbey which sits about 40 miles south of Keswick. Travel past Thirlmere, up over Dunmail Raise, come down again beside Coniston Water and out onto the peninsula.) The land is "granted to them by Stephen, Count of Boulogne and afterwards King of England. ... it included large possessions in woods, pastures, fisheries, and mills, with a large share in the salt works and mines of the district. Development was so rapid that in 1134 a colony of monks was sent forth to establish Calder near the Scotch border." There is a town named Calder on the coast of Cumbria.
1147AD Furness Abbey turned Cistercian, one of the most influential Cistercian Abbeys in the north of England.
1150AD The inflections of Anglo-Saxon speech begin to disappear, so some consider this the dividing line between Old English and Middle English.
1164AD Mention is made of Culdees in a subordinate position in Iona.
12th century: Geoffrey of Monmouth, Bishop of St. Asaph, writes his "Historia Regum Britaniniae." He describes Arthur's reign as covering 505-542AD.
1195AD The Nibelungenlied is written down.
1200AD The Volsungsaga is written down.
1220AD The Prose Edda is written down.
1240AD Snorri Sturluson writes down the Heimskringla. The Codex Regius manuscript of the Poetic Edda is also written down.
1261AD Greenland comes under Norwegian rule.
1263AD Iceland comes under Norwegian rule.
1266AD The Norse sell the Isle of Man and the Hebrides to Scotland.
Frost giants stir in their sleep
1281ADThe City of London institutes an ordinance of sumptuary legislation, regulating the apparel of workmen -- those workers whose employers supply their working clothes as part of their wages.
early 13th century: The Medieval Warm Period comes to an end, and temperatures drop. In the North Atlantic, pack ice begins advancing southwards, and in Greenland, glaciers expand, severely impacting the ability of the Greenlanders to eke out a living.
1315AD Torrential rains begin in Northern Europe, a weather pattern that lasts for three years with devastating results: the Great Famine of 1315-1317. Unpredicatable weather will follow for more than 500 years!
1336AD King Edward passes sumptuary laws to regulate the dress of various classes of the English people, preserving class distinctions.
1348-49AD The Black Plague decimates much of Europe's population. The feudal system breaks down. People and labor become valuable. Poor people gain the opportunity to move to cities. Trade begins to flourish, and the merchant class appears. To keep the riff-raff from posing as their betters, sumptuary laws restrict people to wearing clothing that reflects their social standing.
14th century: The Red Book of Hergest records the tales of the Mabinogion. The influence of the Continental romances of chivalry is clearly perceptible in the Welsh tales.
1460AD Someone builds a grand house on Lord's Island on Derwentwater. (There will be three generations of earls dwelling there in the 18th century)
1472AD The Norse sell the Shetland Islands to Scotland.
1480AD The last Norse Greenland colony dies out.
1486AD A shepherd's dog sounding like a border collie is called a tryndel tayles: long-tail, in contrast to the bob-tailed cur dogs used as drovers' dogs.
1568AD Mary Queen of Scots is imprisoned in Carlisle Castle.
1650AD Expanding glaciers in the Swiss Alps swallow up farms and villages. Canals and rivers in Great Britain and the Netherlands often freeze deeply enough to support ice skating and winter festivals.
1658AD The Baltic Sea freezes over.
1743AD An expanding glacier in Norway swallows farms.
1700AD Carlisle Castle will be fortified during the coming century.
1770AD Another climatic minimum, or extreme chilly point in the "Little Ice Age."
1850AD Another climatic minimum, or extreme chilly point in the "Little Ice Age."