Jump to content

DRAGONMOUNT

A WHEEL OF TIME COMMUNITY
haycraftd

Haycraftd's PhD

Recommended Posts

Thanks, haven't heard back yet.  I asked for 31 May, and I'm guessing I won't end up knowing until January.  

 

But there's another reason to hope that I get the extension, now I looked it up.  Tuesday, 25 February, is a rather special Tuesday.  You might remember us Warders did a few things to celebrate it last year.  I still have the essay, complete with the gifs, saved on Word.

 

If I can get the extension--maybe, just maybe, I can dress weirdly, grin broadly, and smoke a cigar late into that night?  And you all can celebrate with me?

Edited by haycraftd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks!  I got the extension last week, so I've got until 31 May now, and we can do something.  It's been CRAZY.

 

Trying to edit is hard work, because you can't see how you edit nearly as well as what you write.  And what makes this even harder is that since very early on in the PhD I've viewed this whole thing radically differently than just about everyone else studying it now, sure, but everyone else who's written about it ever.  I've always wondered why--pointing out that so much of this was just strutting warriors coming up with insults they thought funny, (but probably weren't), and facing off because they were in a bad mood that morning like--well--kids--is kind of a no-brainer.  A few professors have tried to get to know me better, probably because I think so differently and have ended up challenging just about every theory behind the Viking Age because of it, but when you're distant by nature, haven't enjoyed researching and plan to walk away, and universities have become so partisan, lately--well, knowing that you disagree with just about everyone around you as the blanket emails keep on coming, claiming I'm in an imaginary "disabled" politically correct box in an invented alphabet soup that's fictionally "oppressed," and so somehow those who are sending these emails have actually convinced themselves that they represent me, (we're all human!!!), well, coming out and actually saying that has sometimes been intimidating, lol, even to close friends, and professors...well, they're not the ones sending the blanket emails, and I have been trying to come out of that shell, but they're the ones who'll give me marks.

 

Pointing out that Viking warriors were humans too in dry, academic, terms, can be VERY hard work. 

 

Here's an email I wrote to Alan a couple of nights ago addressing this problem:

__

Dear y'all,

You know I've encountered this problem before when I spotted the "you can't get me" taunt Horic gave to Louis the Pious in AD 838.  After much thought, I managed to put it in academic jargon in the dissertation by calling it an "insult," but that took much thought.

    

(It was also extremely difficult to explain that at the time these disasters occurred, the concept of a "disaster" hadn't been invented yet without making it look funny).

 

After studying military theory and the situation in the three raids in 820 for far too long, I've concluded that with the empire devastated by the disasters etc, the cause of the raids was probably a "military strategist," or several "military strategists," trying to teach Louis a lesson.

 

How to translate that into academic jargon??? 
__

 

And here's Alan's reply:

__ 

That's an interesting observation. How you might phrase it would depend on how confident you were that your narrative was supported by the evidence. 

 

'Teaching a lesson' probably wouldn't be appropriate. 
Perhaps some of the following would help:

 

'Took advantage of the political disarray in Frankia to successfuly mount a reprisal / assert regional dominance / serve as a warning / launch a preemptive attack to demonstrate military capabilities / redefine the political relationship' etc.

 

Have a play with them and see what you come up with.
__
 

 

Yup.  I'm trying.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1/30/2020 at 4:00 PM, haycraftd said:

launch a preemptive attack to demonstrate military capabilities

 

"superiority" might be a good substitute for "capabilities". It feels closer to "that will show him" to me.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah I once thougth I migth one day do one..now I am thinking what were I thinking thats nuts..but life could change..as of now though ahah no desire to do one.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I haven't posted here lately, I know.  It's been hard working these past few months, getting it all together, and there were three weeks of teachers' strikes before the quarantine.  And, I just wrote to my supervisor yesterday to say I don't think I can finish it in these next few months.  I make my own rules on every aspect of my job, and that's hard enough to do anyway, but with everything else going on, lately--well, you can see the problem.  He's asked me to wait on it.

 

But, to update you all on the rabbit hole I'm involved in: here's a veeery long email I wrote Alan and Bill on and off over the teachers' strike that I turned into an essay and sent them yesterday.  I'm not sure how much if any of this I'll put in the dissertation itself: more and more I just want to make my point then leave, (whenever I finally become able, lol), but I still want to make my point.

 

I can't seem to rotate the images all that well, sorry--when I cut/copied the essay, the images didn't come with it, but I titled this email/essay "The Vikings Won."  And yes, I'm serious about it.  Don't go crazy about this, though--you heard it from me, but I doubt I'll make much if any headway and I have no desire to keep going with this afterwards.  "Won" is also an extremely relative word.  If I'm right, though, (and I might not be), that turns how we've interpreted everything that happened in Northwest Europe during the ninth and early tenth century over the past millennium--and therefore quite a bit of the story behind the foundation for the rest of the Middle Ages--upside down.  

______________________________________________________________

 

 

This is one of the rare situations where the winners didn’t write history and the Vikings won.  These Carolingian territories and the major control over the empire they would have given Viking leaders might have been their first major victories, really, once Louis the Pious decided he could pay a Dane to "guard" Frisia just after treating them like scum.  The guy was an arrogant fool.  It's always surprised me how many empires have fallen apart because their leaders became too big for their britches, and it's the same here. I very much doubt that you and us together could have conquered Russia, but Hitler and Napoleon had to learn that the hard way.

 

People lie, maps don't.  I began to see this pattern in May when I noticed the distance disparities between the first targeted regions/cities, then a very clear strategy in late September/early October as I was rewriting Chapter 7, but it all fell into place when I was watching a documentary on Napoleon the first week of the strike.  And I'm just getting more sure of it as I've been writing this.  Being a nerd familiar with military theory as a kid has had surprising benefits.

 

Bill, I'm not sure you've seen this, but in October, when I rewrote Chapter 7, I added another major section laden with quotes by the no. 1 military theorist of all time, Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz—his book On War was published in 1832, but it is still the centrepiece of anything military theory/strategy to this day.  I put in a series of maps of the targets in the first few raids and explained how the maps and events afterwards prove the Vikings were targeting the rivers, not the cities.  (Maps 1-5).  I explained how important rivers are in war, why, and that controlling a river delta means controlling the river overall.  I finally put in the series of maps that shows every single one of the Viking bases that was established would have been a nearly unassailable fortress and explained why. (Maps 6-8)

 

Slide2.thumb.JPG.309a61e9d420b1aa08b793bac7589e9d.JPG

 

Map 1: Ribe to Dorestad Distances

 

Slide3.thumb.JPG.c40f674a93add959dc25d0201d179adf.JPG

 

Map 2 And now to Antwerp

 

Slide4.thumb.JPG.f32eda403c0380c4ce1dbd7677f8db99.JPG

 

Map 3: Let's see Rouen, now

 

Slide5.thumb.JPG.b29bdf937b2c4dcbfe8563bc203588dc.JPG

 

Map 4: And WOW, Nantes

 

Rivers_with_my_writing.thumb.jpg.50ccbb37ee2d99f1f8035a1d8e8eb419.jpg

 

Map 5: They're all on major rivers’ deltas!

 

Slide5.thumb.JPG.f41aa2fa8fe2ebe97cbf8ce1b04b212b.JPG

 

Map 6: Harald's by AD 841

 

Slide3.thumb.JPG.3c51dd1665bbad33050a4e28a24bee07.JPG

Map 7: Base already being set up in AD 841, finished in AD 853

 

Slide4.thumb.JPG.e6216b59fed6c73f7bfae7f9c6e4482f.JPG

Map 8: Charles the Bald had to begin surrendering the Seine by at least AD 853, when his blockade failed

 

I'm working on all of the maps above to make them look better atm, but I made these in September/October to illustrate it all.  I claimed each of these raids was actually the beginning of an invasion and backed it up.  I had to couch it all to extreme levels, of course, but I could. 

 

The second attempt you guys tried to fight Napoleon was the Walcheren Expedition—an island on the Scheldt right outside Antwerp first attacked in AD 837 and given by Louis to a Viking bloke named Harald by AD 841, so very early on.  And, we find out later this Harald controlled much more than Walcheren—from this little island to at least Dorestad on the Rhine.  That’s some amount of territory.  Roric took over in AD 850. 

 

Now every single one of the arrows I've drawn on Map 9 looks like a very nice pathway into Western Europe, doesn't it?  Especially for a nimble Viking longship that can sail on both seas and rivers?  And at least one of these paths was used again for an(other) invasion?

 

Treaty_of_Verdun_(2).thumb.jpg.633d937dcf0aa30de20a8930c9d6b973.jpg

 

Map 9: Pathways into Europe

 

 

Now, Map 10 is of Roman roads. I found it a long time ago, but didn't like the website or the place names on it, so I've never tried to use it.  Each Roman road headed to a port went straight to a firmly controlled Viking base—each of which began to be established fairly early on, too. Convenient, eh? 

 

Roman_roads.thumb.jpg.c3a4526c936c2b78db5368e133cdfff4.jpg

 

Vikings liked ships, sure, but they also liked horses.  They were already in control of these river deltas and had excellent ships, which would have given them exceptional power over the empire already, but they'd have been in full control of quite a lot of those roads, too—especially when they neared a port.  Basically, everyone travelling on one of the roads going north who tried to go overseas would have to go through them—which means they had a lot of control over trade, sure, but also, everything communications, including diplomats. 

 

According to the annals—which would whitewash a losing war as best they could, that's what people losing wars do—these powerful resourceful Carolingian kings never quite figure out how to fight these Vikings, either, do they?  You're never quite sure how they do it.  (But, obviously they won—obviously).  Their victories are few and far between, with few if any battles of Eddington.  Instead, these powerful kings resort to ransoms or swear in a Viking as a "mercenary" (haha) to guard their territory.  But when a Viking demands an extraordinary ransom, that ransom is dutifully paid, and the only demands Carolingian kings ever seem to make of a "mercenary" is that he nominally swear allegiance to them, (when many ignore it afterwards), and be baptized.  Those aren't demands—especially when we're talking about real power.    

 

According to these annals, these loyal "mercenaries" must have assimilated or died out, too, and the rest of the Vikings must have disappeared after Brittany.  When we know that, up north in the islands, that never happened.

 

The last battle reported in Fulda is in AD 891, which was apparently a major Frankish victory about 20 km southwest of Antwerp, when the "Danes," who the AF say are the most formidable group of Northmen, lose a fortification—a fortified ditch—for the first time ever.  Doesn't "first time ever" seem just a bit odd?  The Danes were probably the first raiders, ransoms have been paid, "mercenaries" hired, Charles the Bald even tried out a bridge or two, and it's been a few years!  The wars don't end after this fortification falls, either, and Charles the Simple "swears in" Rollo 20 years later in the west to “guard” the Seine.  And I know the last time I'd stop fighting an empire was when it had just fallen apart—whether or not I lost one battle.  Especially if this is the first "fortification" I've ever lost.

 

(And, btw, St Vaast says that, in AD 892, the Vikings saw the Carolingian empire was devastated from a famine and so took a holiday overseas, but then they came back in AD 896.  If this is true, the fact that they were confident enough that they could just leave the empire then come back a few years later is astonishing.)

 

And, coincidentally, in many of the major battles the Carolingians "win" throughout, these Northmen almost always get away with a very sweet deal anyway, don't they?   Charles the Fat "wins" at Asselt, but just pays Godafrid to look over Roric's territory; the Rhine delta.  Which, I explain in Chapter 7, would have been one of if not the most powerful territories in the land.  And when Charles meets them at the siege of Paris in AD 886, he just pays them to go harass Burgundy instead.  Contempt oozes out of the pages of the AF when it reports this "cowardice."  I beg to differ.  It was "canniness."  Charles the Fat knew it was now or never, and he wanted Vikings he might have at least some control over.  He was wrong—Godafrid got restless, sailed up the Rhine in AD 885, and was killed as a traitor—but Charles did his best.  And, of course, in the biggest assimilation ever, by AD 911, Rollo was handed the Seine delta and may or may not have left the rest of West Francia alone in return.  Too bad we have very little information on those years.  But, again, Raoul is quite kind to William Longsword twenty years later.  The civil war might have had something to do with that, too—but, Bill—I seem to remember from your class six years ago that the Normans kept on using Viking tactics in France for many years after Rollo, and no one’s quite sure when they finally became “French.”  I might be misremembering, though.

 

So—Vikings had control of the major rivers, a lot of control over the roads, and both of these together gave them control of all communications and everything going overseas, the Carolingians never come up with anything that lasts, really, and all these Vikings mysteriously disappear from the annals as time goes by—even though Alfred, who has to hide out in a swamp for a little bit and so had far fewer resources, came out of his swamp and drove the Vikings out up there in Wessex? The Anglo-Saxons and Irish keep on fighting for more than 150 years, but everything becomes quiet fairly quickly down south in Europe.  Hmmm.  

 

Yup.  Doesn't sound so radical anymore, does it?  The Vikings won.  They have a lighter footprint down south, but there are reasons for this.  Examples like the American west show that place names and loan words don't always work near as much as they should, and the Vikings assimilated, too.  But another factor might be that they began winning quickly.  The harassment had become at least one real conquest by at latest AD 850, when Lothar was forced to surrender the Rhine delta to Roric.  It's been hidden remarkably well, though—the annals don't say, sure, but no one else in the know would have wanted to admit it, either.  The shame a proud Christian empire would have felt at being walloped by people they considered a bunch of heathen barbarians after they themselves had just conquered most of Europe would be well-nigh unbearable, but the Vikings were content to let them whitewash it away.  Each Viking "mercenary" was given A LOT of territory, and Halfdan was content with Northumbria, too. These "mercenaries" were willing to be nice by swearing loyalty and finding Christian names.  Rollo became "Robert," we don't know William Longsword's real name, and, up in England, Guthrum became Aethelstan. They didn't look like nasty pagans or have pagan names anymore, and so the Carolingians were able to let them—and their shame— vanish.

___________________________________________________

Yup.

 

 

 

Slide1.JPG

Edited by haycraftd

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh my word this is so fascinating!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks! :smile: There are many advantages to cynicism, lol. 

 

It's hard not to fall into academic groupthink, and so this time 6 years ago I was one of Alan's classes for my Masters writing an essay claiming exactly the opposite. I've never been an academic, though, always been an Einzelgänger, and so thought for myself throughout this PhD.  I often wonder whether Napoleon or other major military leaders would agree with me if I was discussing this with them and showing them these maps.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haycraftd, thank you so much for sharing. You definitely built up your point, piece by piece. I liked the maps. And you've made me want to look into this more. But obviously you are doing that....so happy to read more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

Haycraftd, That is so cool. I love history. Thank you for sharing. 

Edited by Ryrin

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haycraftd, how is the virus affecting your world and work?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

@Ryrin A pleasure! 

 

Now, @Elgee: The virus isn't affecting my "world" all that much--I haven't been paying all that much attention, really.  I've got my flat and am becoming friends with the receptionists, Sainsbury's/Tesco isn't far away, and almost everything I usually go to has moved online, so I'm coping.  Paying too much attention would just make me unhappy.

 

I don't really need to visit the library anymore, so my work itself hasn't been too affected.  Finding out how I can work has been a task, though, and I haven't figured it all out yet. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm glad your world wasn't too rocked by what is going on. It only adds to the difficult life of a PhD student.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

×
×
  • Create New...