Monday, April 22, 2013
The Viking Battle Of Maldon
On the 10th of August, 991, in the County of Essex (located in southeastern England) a large band of Viking invaders appeared obviously intent on doing no good. Viking raids were nothing new to the English as all over the British Isles raiders sacked towns, villages, and monasteries. The Vikings landed on a small tidal island, intent on sneaking their way onto the beaches and further inland. However, the English were prepared. Meeting them at the beaches was the nobleman and warrior Byrhtnoth, with an army of local militia formed into a strong shield wall across the land bridge which connected the tidal island to the beaches. The Vikings attempted to charge and bash their way through the army but with no luck. Byrhtnoth and his men had the Vikings effectively bottled up on the beaches, preventing them from advancing and maneuvering. By the time the tide rose again the land bridge would be gone and the Viking raiders would have no choice but to man their boats and sail away. Seeing one last opportunity to make headway, the Viking leader Olaf Tyrggvason requested a parlay and asked Byrhtnoth if he could possibly move his army back a few hundred yards, for the sake of fairness. Incredibly, Byrhtnoth agreed out of a deep sense of honor. Byrhtnoth moved his army back, giving up every tactical advantage and allowing the Vikings to land on the beach unhindered. Once on dry ground the Vikings quickly outmaneuvered Byrhtnoth’s army and slaughtered it in a fierce assault. Byrhtnoth himself was killed in the battle and his head was taken as a war trophy. On land the English were unable to match the martial skill and ferocity of the Vikings, who raided Essex unhindered. Eventually King Aethelred paid off the Vikings with 10,000 Roman pounds of Silver. Content with their loot, the Vikings sailed back to Norway. The Battle of Maldon would forever be immortalized by and Old English poem by the same name. Today a statue of Byrhtnoth at the battle site also commemorates the event.