Bonus Ep 57 - Legends of England: Kings Who Shaped History

Travel back to medieval England with Charlie and Ben as they explore the legacies of King Athelstan and William the Conqueror. Experience the fascinating events that shaped English history, all while enjoying laughter and expanding your military vocabulary.
Mar 27 / Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

Travel back to medieval England with Charlie and Ben as they explore the legacies of King Athelstan and William the Conqueror. Experience the fascinating events that shaped English history, all while enjoying laughter and expanding your military vocabulary.

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Transcript of Premium Bonus 057- Transcript

Speaker1:
Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to the British English Podcast with me, your host Charlie Baxter. In today's episode, I'm back in Sydney opposite the historian that lives Down Under, also known as Ben Marks, and as he has agreed to help us wrap our heads around some of the great monarchs of England. I am very excited indeed. But before we get into the weeds, uh, let's see if Ben's mic is working. Do say hello.

Speaker2:
Hello, hello. Check, check. Hello. Hello from Sydney.

Speaker1:
Hello from Sydney.

Speaker2:
Hello from brookvale.

Speaker1:
Brookvale. Yes. We're in your workspace right now.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So I work in a video agency and we are currently using the boardroom, but it's called the boardroom for another very good reason.

Speaker1:
Ah yes. Because there are 123456789 surfboards in this room. It's so Aussie.

Speaker2:
Yeah, well, we're on the northern beaches here, so, um, a lot of our crew surfs. Any of your listeners ever come to Sydney. Uh, Brookvale is just set back one suburb, back from one of the northern beaches, DUI. And so it's very, very easy to go down for a surf. So we call it the boardroom because it is in fact the boardroom, but it also has lots of boards in it.

Speaker1:
So is this actually like the equivalent of a bike locker space? What's the what's the correct.

Speaker2:
Like a bike rack. A bike room.

Speaker1:
Bike rack. Thank you a bike rack. Yes.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Well I mean that's legitimately a surf rack isn't it? [Yeah.] Yeah.

Speaker1:
But these are individual employees boards?

Speaker2:
Um, I think they're a collection of my boss's boards. [Right.] Um.

Speaker1:
Is he showing off a bit? Look how many boards I've got, guys.

Speaker2:
Yeah, I'll make sure he has a listen to this podcast.

Speaker1:
Uh, thank you, Mr. Boss Man, for giving us this board room. Well, I actually had a little dip in DUI today. It was very refreshing. Do you do that at lunch break, ever?

Speaker2:
Uh, not often. No, I think I've done it, like, twice. Um, basically, you know, you want to get your work done. I'd rather finish up and then go down for an afternoon swim. Especially here in Sydney. Um, in summer. I mean, we were out just then until about or nearing eight, and it was still light, so. [Yeah.] And it was quite warm. [Yeah. Yeah, it was really warm.] I mean, we just happened to have the air con on in here for, you know, 45 minutes before we started didn't we.

Speaker1:
Yes. And it's unfortunately turned off now because of the noise. So we're going to start to get slimy, wet-looking faces as this episode goes on. So let's crack on.

Speaker2:
Um, I've made you a nice hot cup of tea, though. [Yeah.]

Speaker1:
Um, so when I briefed Ben on this one, he, uh, started planning it out and has about ten monarchs that he was frothing over. Do you use this phrase frothing over? Yeah. Yeah, this is an Aussie phrase. [We use that. Yeah. For sure.] So it's not a British one. I learnt it when I came here and it means incredibly excited right?

Speaker2:
Yeah yeah. Like you just go at the on a Friday afternoon, you just go, oh mate I can't wait to knock off. I'm absolutely frothing for a beer. Knock off just means ending work. But yeah.

Speaker1:
So to keep it light-hearted and for the information to sink in, we're not going to do all ten. Uh, that would be a marathon. So we'll just focus our attention on two monarchs today, as there is a lot to be said about these two fellas. So, um, Ben, are you ready to, um, let battle commence?

Speaker2:
Yes, indeed. Very good. Because, uh, that is a, uh, it's very apt. These two kings were famous for their battles, basically their military prowess and, um, that prowess in both their cases, you know, had a drastic impact on the course of English history. [Yeah.]

Speaker1:
I'm excited. I've learned a lot. It's amazing. I'm really excited for the listener to go through what I've gone through. Um, so where would you like to start?

Speaker2:
We'll just do it chronologically. We'll talk about the first two in that list that I had. [Yeah]

Speaker1:
Okay. Sounds good. So the first one.

Speaker2:
Uh, his name is Athelstan.

Speaker1:
Athelstan.

Speaker2:
King Athelstan, he was born in 894, and he died in 939. And he reigned from the years 924 to 939.

Speaker1:
So this is a long, long time ago. And why is he important for us to know?

Speaker2:
Yeah. So he was he was well and truly in the dark ages, uh, of England. Um, and he was famous because basically, he became what many historians consider to be the first king of England. That was in 924. He was the grandson of Alfred the Great, who was, uh, you know, the king of Wessex. Uh, and he was the son of, um, King Edward the Elder. And yeah, he basically was the first of the rulers within what we now consider modern-day England to unite all of the smaller kingdoms into one bigger kingdom and solidify them under his rule, which sort of was the start of what we now call England. [Wow]

Speaker1:
So considering your grandfather. Is known as Alfred the Great. That's pretty impressive to step out of the shadow cast by that guy. Yeah, because he went on to, you know, could we say found England? Can you say that?

Speaker2:
Yeah. In essence, uh, and he laid the foundations for the kingdom's future stability. So that's why Athelstan is often referred to as the first king of England, due to his success in unifying those territories and creating a single entity.

Speaker1:
Okay, so he's a he's a consolidator. He's a great. The great consolidator. [Yes.] Do you reckon his grandchildren called him that? You know, his his grandfather was Alfred the Great. Do you reckon he was known as.

Speaker2:
Athelstan the consolidator? Yeah. Okay. I think he's missing a name. And I was looking at that, and I was wondering, you know, this guy did so much good stuff, and he was like, he's so important. He doesn't even have a nickname like everybody else. Um, I mean, even his father was Edward the elder. I mean, if you could have any name, that's not the one you want. No, but, like, he doesn't have a name. So, honestly, Charlie, I think you've I think let's let's pitch it to the historians around the world, and let's get him officially nicknamed, um, Athelstan the consolidator. [Yeah.]

Speaker1:
I'm just thinking of those ads that we had 'consolidate your debt' when we were younger. That was a lot on the TV. That was just. Are you in debt? Do you need to consolidate your debts into one manageable debt?

Speaker2:
Is this so..Is this a thing that you just remember vividly from your childhood?

Speaker1:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
This was always on. Even I think it's probably on now. Did you .. it's like an ad in the on the TV in the UK. Did you have this at all in Australia? Uh, I suppose they weren't. You weren't in debt. The UK is probably more in debt individually.

Speaker2:
Yeah. I mean we live in a golden country. Yeah. We sometimes take baths in just solid coins.

Speaker1:
But yes. So the Great Consolidator brought the Angles and the Saxons together, along with a lot of others. Is there any more context you could give us here?

Speaker2:
Yeah. So the context of this is actually it's pretty important to understand exactly what he did. You've got to imagine before Athelstan, England was a collection of separate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. And they were each like these mini kingdoms that were within the current boundaries of what is modern England. Um, and these mini kingdoms were each ruled by their own king. Um, actually, this period before Athelstan is often referred to as the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy. So. Heptarchy. [Eight, Yeah] Seven. [laughs] Oct is eight. Like octagon octopus.

Speaker1:
October. Oh, God.

Speaker2:
Um, so it was a heptarchy, which means [seven!] Seven, seven, seven kingdoms. [Seven.] Yes, yes. I just had a thought. The seven kingdoms. Is this where I know George R.R. Martin for Game of Thrones took a lot of his ideas from English history, the Seven Kingdoms. That's probably where he got that idea.

Speaker1:
Yeah, I knew that. Yeah,duh!

Speaker2:
Honestly, I'm not even joking. He took like, I don't know. Yeah. The Starks and Lannisters came from the Yorks and Lancasters in the War of the roses, and he did this throughout all of his books. He borrowed from real history. So yeah, I just thought of that then.

Speaker1:
The War of the roses was a lot later, though.

Speaker2:
Yes. We won't talk about that now. [Yes.] Yeah. I just it was just a thought. [Yeah.] Um, there were in fact more than seven, but there were seven main ones. Um.

Speaker1:
That's funny. That's rude of the others, like disregarding the others. Actually, psychologists say your short term memory is seven plus or minus two chunks of information. The average person, right. [Okay] So maybe that's why they just did seven. They were like, oh, no one's going to remember the rest.

Speaker2:
That is a thought.

Speaker2:
I like it. I like it.

Speaker1:
But i think TikTok is changing that.

Speaker2:
You were on TikTok today, were ya?

Speaker1:
Yeah, I think it's probably like five plus or minus two now. How many things do you think you can remember? You were pretty good at the password earlier. You could remember the whole thing. That was quite a few digits.

Speaker2:
I tell you what. I was telling you before, I'm feeling a bit sharper today because after work I've been going home and studying for the last three nights. Yeah, uh, I'm actually feeling pretty sharp.

Speaker1:
Nice. Okay. Yeah.

Speaker1:
So you could be, what, ten plus or minus two.

Speaker2:
I reckon I'm about ten. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
I think you're above average.

Speaker2:
Right now, give me. Give me a couple of beers, and that drops off significantly.

Speaker1:
But yeah, going back to the history of England. [Yeah.] So what were those seven called?

Speaker2:
Um, so these kingdoms were called Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia, Kent, Sussex and Essex and a few of those, uh, the names you'll obviously recognise are still around today.

Speaker1:
Um, yeah. They are. Yeah. Not Mercia. [I don't know yeah] I don't think so.

Speaker2:
Definitely essex and Kent is Northumbria.

Speaker1:
Uh, sorry, I just googled Mercia. Uh, it was annexed by Wessex in the early 10th century. The West Saxon rulers divided it into shires. These shires survived mostly intact until 1974, and even today still largely follow their original boundaries. [Really? Till today?] Till today? Yeah.

Speaker2:
That's really. That's actually really crazy. We're talking about over a thousand years ago. [Yeah.] That's really nuts.

Speaker1:
Yeah. It is.

Speaker1:
I mean, a lot of these things have had a knock-on effect up until today. Like I can still see some evidence of it, but we'll talk about that in a moment. So okay. So you've named the seven. Yeah. And what was before the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms then?

Speaker2:
Okay.

Speaker2:
So before the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, um, basically what we have to do is we have to understand who the Angles and the Saxons were. They were Germanic tribes that invaded England after the decline of the Roman Empire and their exit from England in 410 CE. By the way, CE is the same thing as AD. It just means current era. Uh, it's just a non modern sort of, uh, move away from the religious, uh, usage of AD are okay.

Speaker1:
Yeah, I did actually ask Google what CE was, but I didn't know why it was replacing AD.

Speaker2:
It's just to move away, to move away from the church so that everyone in the world can use the same terms. [Okay.] Um, yeah. So, uh, basically Rome fell. It was sacked in 455 by the Vandals, um, a Visigoth tribe. And then the whole empire fell in 476. But before then, in 410, they did start withdrawing from England because they're, you know, they were starting to, um, you know, lose, lose all of their money and they were starting to decline. Okay. Um, so basically, after they left the Angles and the Saxons, who were northern Germanic tribes, uh, made a decision that they were going to take advantage of this and come over and crush the Celtic tribes, the Britons who had been living there before them.

Speaker1:
Right. Under Roman rule?

Speaker2:
Yes.

Speaker1:
So but the. So okay. Before the Romans?

Speaker2:
Before the Romans, they were local Britons or Celtic tribes.

Speaker1:
Celtic tribes, then the Romans. Then...

Speaker2:
The Romans came and ruled over the Celtic tribes.

Speaker1:
Right. Oh, okay. Yeah.

Speaker2:
Uh, the Celts still live there. [Yeah.] Um, then the Rome Roman Empire fell. The Romans left. The Celtic tribes were left in disarray. Uh, and the Angles and Saxons took their opportunity to come and and invade and take over, um, England.

Speaker1:
And they had good roads to access everywhere.

Speaker2:
Yeah, exactly. The Romans set up, um, England with great infrastructure.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Come on in. Come on in.

Speaker2:
Exactly. It was perfect for them. [Yeah.] So they became. That's that's where we get the terms Anglo Saxon from.

Speaker1:
And I read that. So they were separate, uh, Germanic tribes that forged as they came in to England, the angles, the Saxons, some others that I can't remember. And then they became Anglo Saxon. And the etymology of England, I think they were England like angles. England. And then it became England.

Speaker2:
Angle Land - England.

Speaker2:
That sounds.. England.

Speaker2:
That sounds about right. Yeah, I can't confirm that, but that sounds right. Yeah. So basically the angles and the Saxons were separate and they had their own separate little kingdoms, which we were talking about.

Speaker1:
Yeah. And then they came together.

Speaker2:
They did come together and I think, uh, it was Athelstan who basically because he unified the country. [Yeah.] As England, um, that created the first Anglo Saxon unity and culture.

Speaker1:
Right. Okay. And when did the Vikings come in?

Speaker2:
Um, so the Vikings were also raiding England frequently during this period, and they were doing it often in an alliance with the Scots and the Picts. So up in Scotland, in the north they had Scots and the Picts. Now they were distinct tribes, but they were both in Scotland.

Speaker1:
Right, okay.

Speaker2:
And they, they would team up often with, um, the Vikings. This is during towards the end of the Viking Age. Um, but the Vikings were strong at that point and they would invade England constantly.

Speaker1:
So they would come over from modern day Denmark or.. Yeah, around there?

Speaker2:
Yeah, Denmark, Norway, that sort of area.

Speaker1:
So they'd take boats over the North Sea, come in around Yorkshire. I heard around there.

Speaker2:
They, they would uh, actually they would come in from all parts of the North. Um, I mean, they even went as far over as Ireland. And they were actually they were the, uh, they started up Dublin.

Speaker1:
I heard that, yeah. That's insane. [Yeah.] That's mad. They got all the way over there.

Speaker2:
Yeah yeah yeah, [yeah.]

Speaker2:
Into Scotland. And uh, at one point they even took over massive uh massive massive. They took over massive, um, they managed to take over large swathes of England actually. Um, now before we were talking about Athelstan's grandfather, Alfred the Great. [Yes.] Um, now I'm about to tell you why he was called Alfred the Great. [Oh.] When the, uh, Vikings came in and took over large swathes of England, at one point, they were halted from further expansion, um, by Alfred the Great. Um. And he signed a treaty with Guthrum, I think is his name in 886. Who was the, uh, Viking king. Um, and basically the the treaty meant that they wouldn't expand any further, but they did set up what was called the Danelaw, which was a huge area across northern England, down into the sort of the middle part of England. And they lived side by side with the English. It wasn't until, uh, Athelstan, um, that they were driven out.

Speaker1:
Oh, so hang on. So, um, Danish Vikings, they came over, they even got over to Ireland, said hello, and and built up Dublin for them. Then Athelstan's great grandfather, not great grandfather, but his grandfather, who was great. [Yeah.] Agreed with the Danes on a sort of border. Things ticked along nicely. And then his grandson, Athelstan, who's desperate to show how great he is, decides to disregard this treaty and sends the Vikings packing.

Speaker2:
That's right. Exactly.

Speaker1:
Into the North Sea to modern day Denmark.

Speaker3:
Exactly. Yeah, you said it perfectly.

Speaker1:
That's a bit bit rude of him, isn't it? Like he's kind of ruined what his great. Sorry I keep doing that. His grandfather, who was great.

Speaker2:
Um, his great grandfather.

Speaker1:
He's undone all his all his treaty work.

Speaker2:
Yeah, he has, he has.

Speaker2:
But, you know, to be fair, um, he sort of did a better job, didn't he?

Speaker1:
Yeah, yeah. He founded England.

Speaker2:
Yep. Yep.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Imagine how proud he would be to know how far England has gone?

Speaker2:
I know, I know, right. I was going to say something political, but I won't.

Speaker1:
Um, so how did he do that? Was there a big battle?

Speaker2:
Uh, he did. He. He went to war with them. The battle was called the Battle of Now I might get this word wrong in terms of pronunciation, it's the battle of Brunanburh. The battle of Brunanburh.

Speaker1:
Okay, let's have a..That sounds better. [That sounds like..]

Speaker2:
The Battle of Brunanburh. That sounds much more like it.

Speaker1:
Yeah.

Speaker2:
All right. We're going to go with the Battle of Brunanburh.

Speaker1:
So what happened in this battle? Did. Athelstan. Athelstan. Did he did he get involved?

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
So basically, this was a big battle.

Speaker1:
But as in did he fight?

Speaker2:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, um, look, the details of this particular battle are pretty scarce. [Uh] We don't know the numbers. We don't even know exactly where it was fought.

Speaker1:
What are we doing here, then, Ben?

Speaker2:
I think they think it was fought somewhere in York. [Okay] I think they that's what I...

Speaker1:
I think I've, I could be confused with another battle because I've read a lot of information in the last couple of days about battles. But one of the big ones is, is just a mystery of the location.

Speaker2:
That's this one, [okay] this one, they don't really know exactly where it was fought. Look, the records back then are not great. Um, no good record keeping and sort of modern, uh, modern ways of doing things came in with William the Conqueror.

Speaker1:
Um. Oh, we might talk about him later.

Speaker2:
Did you see what I did there? [Yeah, it was very good.]

Speaker2:
Um, so, yeah, there's scarce records. There's things like, um, tapestries, [okay] that depict the battle. Yeah. Um, but some, you know, it's not the records haven't been kept. Well, we really don't know the numbers and things are guessed at, and we don't even know the exact location, so.

Speaker1:
Okay, okay. But what we do know. So this battle of.

Speaker2:
Brunanburh.

Speaker1:
Was just him versus the the Vikings?

Speaker2:
No, no, it wasn't. So, uh, it was a coalition, uh, of Norse and Scottish forces. And they came down had a little battle and, uh. Yeah. Uh, he won. Athelstan won.

Speaker1:
Uh, do we? [*Charlie claps his hand in applause*] Very good.

Speaker1:
I mean, you know, two sides to the coin, isn't there? I mean, that's horrible of us. Well, for the Vikings.

Speaker2:
I feel like I want to tell you the name of the Viking king because it's so Viking. It's Olaf Guthfrithson.

Speaker1:
Wow.

Speaker2:
Get this. He was the Norse king of Dublin.

Speaker1:
Wow. So they had a Viking king who lived in Dublin.

Speaker2:
[In Dublin] I guess. So, yeah. [Mad!]

Speaker1:
I would never have guessed that. Um, fun fact you probably definitely know this, but, um, the first thing we think of as Brits and I assume Aussies of Vikings. The horned helmets, right? Yes. That's false. That's not real. They didn't have horns.

Speaker2:
Can I guess where this is from, or am I going to ruin your fact?

Speaker1:
No, it's not really. I mean, that's the fact mainly. [Yeah.] Go on.

Speaker2:
I was just going to say that it was an affectation of the opera.

Speaker1:
Uh, the opera did encourage it afterwards, but it was. It was something about exaggerating the evil in them. And I think they were known for their brutality. And so they kind of depicted them as these horned creatures.

Speaker2:
That makes a lot of sense.

Speaker1:
But somebody was describing how stupid these horns would be in battle. Like they'd get caught constantly on everything, and also in battle the opponent could grab them and just chuck them anywhere.

Speaker2:
Yeah, that's what I'd be doing.

Speaker1:
So yes, no horns on the Vikings, I. I found a poem from this battle. It wasn't documented very well, apparently. But we do have a poem. And this poem, the battle is the subject of one of the oldest known war poems in the English language. Would you like to hear the first five lines?

Speaker2:
Oh, absolutely. And can you do it in, like, a little poetry voice?

Speaker1:
Okay, so I need, like, a sort of Greensleeves kind of.

Speaker2:
Okay, um, let's let's get this up for you. Okay.

Speaker1:
That's not Greensleeves at all.

Speaker2:
I'm going to get you some Greensleeves.

Speaker1:
In this year. King Athelstan, Lord of warriors, ring giver to men, and his brother, also.

Speaker1:
Prince. Edmund won eternal glory. In battle with sword edges around Brunanburh, they split the shield wall. That's it. That's the end. But what a great second line, [honestly] ring giver to men and his brother also. But yeah, the oldest known war poem in the English language there.

Speaker2:
Ring giver to men. Okay, once again, I'm just going to say is this where Tolkien got the idea of, [oh], i mean, you see it as you as you're going through, like, history. These guys were, um, like, he was a professor of linguistics. And so he would have read all this poetry.

Speaker1:
Right?

Speaker2:
I wonder if that line. I mean, you like that line.

Speaker1:
Yeah. I mean.

Speaker1:
To me it sounded like really basic English, but I'll give them a break. It was the first poem ever written. So we've got the context of all of this. We understand the Battle of Brunanburh, but linguistically. So let's just recap. So we've got Celtic language to start off with. Then we've got Roman Italian, kind of Latin, no Latin, Latin influence.

Speaker2:
Sure.

Speaker1:
And then we've got the Germanic tribes. So we've got Celtic, Latin, Germanic and then Danish.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So there's definitely.

Speaker1:
Viking, whatever that was.

Speaker2:
There's definitely Norse language that's um, threaded throughout, um, the English language. Okay. We have a lot of influences in the English language, but the English language, as far as I'm aware, the Anglo Saxon language is primarily what we speak now. That was what they called Old English.

Speaker1:
Right. And then there was Middle English.

Speaker2:
Middle English would probably be. Now this is a bit of a guess, but I would say that's when the Normans came in. And we'll talk about that in a bit. But there was a mishmash of, um, the Norman language with the Anglo Saxon language which is...

Speaker1:
Essentially French. Can we say Norman French or not really?

Speaker2:
Yeah. It's it's it's French. Um, you know, um, a thousand years ago.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Okay.

Speaker1:
Well, let's take a break now, because we've come to the end of Athelstan and, um, we will come back and talk about William the Conqueror. We have come to the end of part one, so feel free to take a break from your listening practice, but if you're happy to keep going, then we're now moving on to part two of this episode. Thanks so much for being a premium or Academy member and enjoy the rest of the show. So what I was going to say William the Conqueror. First thing's first. Do we think this was a self-proclaimed nickname?

Speaker2:
I think that some of these guys probably did want to be called certain things, and they probably whispered to one of their mates in court. They probably went oi, oi, tell everyone that it's a good idea. So it just it just pretend it's like regular conversation, bring it up like it's just organic and just say, wait, do you reckon we should call him Conqueror?

Speaker1:
What was that?

Speaker2:
What? Just. Oh, I don't know. I was just thinking. Don't don't tell him I said this because he would. He would hate it. But do you do you reckon we. I reckon we should call him William the Conqueror.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Do you reckon that would go down well?

Speaker2:
No, I think that's sounds shit. No, no shit? Hey, Willy. William. I put it out there and, um. Uh. Yeah, they said it was shit.

Speaker1:
Ah, i'm just going to go conquer a load of shit. And then they will see. They will see who the Conqueror is now.

Speaker2:
Actually, that's not a bad idea. I think there's a country above us. We could.

Speaker1:
We got learn to swim first.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah. Do we have any of those? What are they called? Ships?

Speaker1:
Yes. We do.

Speaker2:
All right, well, let's just finish this turkey leg, and, uh, we'll get these thousand men out of this massive dining room; pour all the beer down the drains. Put some on the ships, and let's head over to England.

Speaker1:
Brilliant.

Speaker1:
So, guys, we were in France. We've gone across the channel. I was about to say channel tunnel. The channel.

Speaker2:
We went on the Eurostar.

Speaker1:
It's funny because it's so modern.

Speaker2:
Oh, they've always had the Eurostar.

Speaker1:
So for the listener we're, we're assuming that he's on English turf yet.

Speaker2:
Yeah, we can, we can say that, um, there is a story that needs to be told before that battle though.

Speaker1:
Go for it.

Speaker2:
Um, so William does come up to England and he does challenge the current king at the time, um, King Harold. [Okay], um, for the throne. But there's a little more to it.

Speaker1:
Before that, we talked about him being the conqueror and that. So he was a Norman duke? Yeah?

Speaker2:
Yes. In what's, uh, in Normandy, in modern day France.

Speaker1:
Which is the north of France.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

Speaker2:
Yeah. And, um, yeah, he was very powerful man. Uh, very powerful noble. And, um, he took an opportunity to come over and claim the throne, which he believed was his. He believed he had a rightful claim to the throne.

Speaker1:
Um, Okay.

Speaker2:
Now, this came about because the previous king of England, Edward the Confessor, died and he had no children. So he had no direct lineage to, uh, take the crown. So this threw up a battle for succession.

Speaker1:
Right.

Speaker2:
I have an interesting fact for you, though. [Yeah] it, uh, just about Edward the Confessor. He was called the Confessor because of his extreme religious piety and devotion. Uh, hence confession. Um, England was Catholic at this time. Uh, he was also the king responsible for the construction of Westminster Abbey in London, uh, which was consecrated in 1065, shortly before his death as a Catholic church.

Speaker1:
Wow. [Yeah.] So he would confess all the time. I also heard that he would spend a lot of his time in Normandy.

Speaker2:
Uh, yeah. He would. Yes, exactly.

Speaker1:
And so he was telling everyone, oh, you could be king. Maybe you can be king. Sorry for being so such a sinful bastard. You can be king. So he was flirting around, telling everyone you could be king.

Speaker2:
Yeah, well, actually, Harold had spent some time in Normandy, and he'd met, uh, William, and he'd actually professed an oath to William. This is before Edward the Second died. Edward the Confessor. [Right.] Uh, came back to England, and then, uh, after Edward's death, uh, he took, uh, Harold took the throne. Uh, and then William the Conqueror was like, what? You professed an oath to me. That's my throne. Ah, yeah. So he believed he had a claim to the throne.

Speaker1:
Okay.

Speaker2:
There were actually three claimants to the throne. The first man to take the throne, as we said after Edward's death, was the Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson. He was the richest and most powerful nobleman at the time in England, or one of. And also Harold's sister, Edith, had been married to King Edward the Confessor, so he had that familial, very close familial. He believes, uh, the line of succession should go to him.

Speaker1:
Yeah, right.

Speaker2:
As, um, edward had no sons.

Speaker1:
Okay. So he he was an aristocrat, right?

Speaker2:
Yeah, he was a nobleman. I don't know if they they would use that time back then. Definitely a nobleman.

Speaker1:
Nobleman. Okay. And this is based on the feudal system that you taught me about. So France had the feudal system before england and William the Conqueror brought the feudal system over to England afterwards. Yeah. [That's right.] So these guys, just to recap, because, you know, you taught me about the noble system noblemen and stuff. So they would be given land by the king for a service that they did, and then that would kind of build a hierarchy.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So basically, just in a very basic sense, that feudal system was. Yeah, the king would hand out lands to certain wealthy men who, um, in return, would pledge their military support and raise troops for the, the overall army for the king.

Speaker1:
Right.

Speaker2:
Um, it was basically. Yeah, it was trading land for defence. And obviously England already had this system to a point, but I think the, the Norman invaders had a more sophisticated system.

Speaker1:
Okay.

Speaker1:
So it wasn't reinventing the wheel or anything. They they had a system in place. But France brought over a better version.

Speaker2:
A more sophisticated system.

Speaker2:
Yeah.

Speaker1:
Okay. So we've got William of Normandy coming over to complain. Complain also to claim.

Speaker3:
A complaint in there. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
Um, and the other ones.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So basically we had Harold Godwinson, who was the Anglo Saxon who took the throne. Then we have William of Normandy coming over, claiming that he'd been promised a throne by Edward and that Harold had actually sworn an oath to him when he visited Normandy. So he believed he had a claim to the throne. Uh, so he came up from France, and then we had a third player, another Harold, but spelt Harald Hardrada of Norway, a Viking king. He was also contesting the succession.

Speaker1:
Why were the Norwegians trying to get in on the action then?

Speaker2:
Uh, okay.

Speaker2:
So his claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor, Magnus the Good, and the earlier King of England. He was trying to make a claim on something that had happened a couple of generations earlier.

Speaker1:
Bloody hell.

Speaker2:
It's a mess.

Speaker1:
It must have been so messy. Especially, you know, without an Excel spreadsheet or something. There's so much hearsay, right? No, he said this. No, but he said this and she said that.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
So, um, do we now talk about the only thing I remember about William the Conqueror, the Battle of Hastings?

Speaker2:
Yes.

Speaker2:
But first we're going to talk about the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Speaker1:
Okay. Stamford Bridge, not the same one because I checked this. Not the same one that Chelsea football stadium is on.

Speaker2:
Oh, it's the very same.

Speaker2:
I mean, aren't all battles in England over football?

Speaker1:
Yes.

Speaker1:
I'm sure some of the Celtic tribes kicked a ball about and then they were like, hang on, which kingdom are you from? You're not allowed on our team. F-off. And then the Anglo-Saxons got involved.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, I honestly.

Speaker2:
Reckon all of this. I mean, they're just drumming it up as some sort of political hoo ha, but I think it was just a football riot.

Speaker1:
It's just Green Street on a bigger scale. Yeah, yeah. Instead of three hour film or two hour film, it's 2000 years.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah. They're very passionate in England.

Speaker1:
Yeah. All right, so the battle of Stamford Bridge.

Speaker2:
Okay.

Speaker2:
Now this was the first battle. Um, so basically, Harold.

Speaker1:
Sorry, the first battle.

Speaker2:
Of two.

Speaker1:
Between these three people complaining about the throne.

Speaker2:
Sorry. Let me re-explain. So the Battle of Stamford Bridge is the first battle that occurred in the battles between these three claimants to the throne.

Speaker1:
Got it. Okay.

Speaker2:
So the Battle of Stamford Bridge was in the north. Um, basically it was, and it was in Yorkshire, that's they don't know the exact, uh, sorry they do know the exact spot at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire.

Speaker1:
It was somewhere like Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire.

Speaker2:
Sorry. I've gone through so many battles. I'm getting my getting my facts confused here. Sorry. It was. Yeah, it was somewhere very specifically, uh, the, um, the 12th road off to the right near the cow. Um, yeah. So it occurred at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire in 1066. And basically this was, um, Harold, uh, the Saxon King Harold, um, going up to defend his kingdom against King Harald of Norway, Harald Hardrada.

Speaker1:
Okay.

Speaker2:
Who was invading from the north.

Speaker1:
God, it just doesn't help both being called Harold.

Speaker3:
No, it's it's difficult.

Speaker1:
The Norwegian one. I don't know if we can say Norwegian, considering how far away, how long ago it was, but I'm going to, um. He's got his name as Harald. Let's.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
Let's call him that. Yeah.

Speaker2:
Harald. Harald. Harald. Okay. Harald.

Speaker2:
So Harold went up to meet Harald of Norway. Uh, and actually, uh, he he'd made, Harald had made an alliance with Harold's brother Tostig, who had been, um, you know, sent out of the kingdom for, for other family reasons. Um, and, you know, Tostig had supported Harald's claim to the throne.

Speaker2:
Okay. Now, both Tostig and Harold were killed at Stamford Bridge.

Speaker1:
Oh, no. So this whole thing was pointless for them.

Speaker2:
For them.

Speaker1:
They really let the team down there, haven't they?

Speaker2:
Yeah. [God] so, uh.

Speaker1:
You know that feeling when you score an own goal or something for your football team, but, like, times a million, I bet they were. Well, they were dead, but they were probably cringing in their graves.

Speaker2:
Yeah, well. You'd hope they were dead if they were cringing in their graves.

Speaker1:
Well, yeah. No, I mean, I mean, they let their team down by dying. So they are dead.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
But they probably didn't get a burial because they were just probably, you know, chucked on the heap of Vikings in Yorkshire burning. They were Vikings right?

Speaker2:
Yeah. They were. Yeah.

Speaker2:
Norsemen, Norsemen, Norsemen.

Speaker2:
Um I mean there might be some difference.

Speaker1:
So one of the three sides of this argument is over.

Speaker2:
They're all done. They're all done. Uh, and the thing was that the, um, Viking army was bigger, but they got taken by surprise. Um, King Harold Godwinson went up there, took him by surprise, and, um. Yeah, killed them all. And, uh, Hardrada Harald was killed by being shot in the neck with an arrow.

Speaker1:
Oof! Accurate.

Speaker2:
Yeah.

Speaker1:
Very good.

Speaker2:
This battle was actually considered generally by most historians to be the end of the Viking Age.

Speaker1:
Ah, as I said, they really let the team down.

Speaker1:
God.

Speaker1:
Imagine that.

Speaker2:
Yeah, it's that's that is the worst outcome possible.

Speaker1:
Yeah. I mean. An arrow to the neck. That's a good arrow.

Speaker2:
And ending an age.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Wow.

Speaker1:
You would feel on top of the. No, I'm not assuming that everyone's just savage like that and wants to end an empire or anything.

Speaker2:
But imagine if you're, you're, uh, your, your legacy was that you, you ended the age of your people.

Speaker1:
Or you ended the age of the enemy.

Speaker2:
Oh, yeah. Actually, if you look at it from the other side. Yeah, yeah, I mean, yeah. No.

Speaker1:
You are getting lucky tonight.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
They brought many a fair maiden.

Speaker1:
We have come to the end of part two now. So again, feel free to pause the episode, to take a break from your listening practice.

Speaker1:
And come back to the last part when you're ready.

Speaker1:
All right. So moving on to part three now - enjoy.

Speaker1:
So we're left with the Conqueror, right?

Speaker2:
That's right. Yep. So now, basically, as soon as this battle was done and King Harold Godwinson had finished this and he had depleted his forces and taken a lot of injuries and everything, they receive word, they thought, "it's all good, it's all good. We've defended the kingdom". And then they receive word that William of Normandy, his forces, were now invading from France down in the south.

Speaker1:
That's a full-on year, isn't it?

Speaker2:
Yeah. I mean. This is only a few days later, I think I calculated 19 days later. Um.

Speaker1:
God. 19 days.

Speaker2:
Yes. So the Battle of Stamford Bridge took place on the 25th of September, and the Battle of Hastings occurred on the 14th of October.

Speaker1:
Wow.

Speaker2:
So they had to I don't know where. Where is Hastings in England? It's in the South, right? [Yeah, yeah] so they had to march back then on horses and they had infantry basically on foot all the way down these Roman roads in a matter of days after just getting in a massive battle for their lives, go all the way down there and have another one.

Speaker1:
At least there wasn't much traffic, though.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
Not like the M4.

Speaker1:
Yeah. And the roads were pretty straight.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
I have absolutely no idea.

Speaker1:
They say the Romans built straight roads.

Speaker2:
Oh, okay. There you go.

Speaker1:
So no excuses to be late. So they faced off in Hastings. Hence the Battle of Hastings on the 14th of October, 1066. Yeah. What happened?

Speaker2:
Okay, so. They marched south. They got there, they faced the Norman army, and it was actually quite a battle. Now, as far as I'm aware, Harold's army went up on top of a ridge. Um, so they had the, the high ground, but they had mainly just infantry, whereas William had horses like, you know, cavalry, and he had a lot of archers, whereas Harold didn't have many archers. So they had the high ground, which was advantageous to them. And they actually managed to, um, hold William back for quite some time, even though they had a lot of casualties inflicted on them, you know, from The Archers.

Speaker1:
Yeah.

Speaker2:
Uh, but what what, uh, William did, which was, uh, the tactic he used to basically defeat them was he feigned a retreat, and he drew the soldiers off the hill. And then he turned around and shot them at level ground.

Speaker1:
Cheeky.

Speaker2:
Yes. And this is how he did it.

Speaker2:
[Shot them?] With arrows. [Okay.] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because it was difficult to shoot up.

Speaker2:
I'm assuming that. Yeah the upward angle made it quite difficult.

Speaker1:
Fire! But, sire. It's too high. I'm too weak. I've just been battling in bloody Yorkshire. No. So it was the other way around.

Speaker2:
So William's forces, they were trying to get up the hill and William. And he was having difficulty and so he this is as far as I understand it, he made a fake retreat. And so as they were running away they went off the hill and he drew a lot of he drew a lot of Harold's forces down the hill into a more of a shooting range. Yeah.

Speaker1:
So I should have done a French, so sort of. Excusez moi, sir, but I cannot get the arrow up the hill. Maybe because..

Speaker2:
If only we had, uh, something like, uh, automated crossbow or something like this, a bolt action.

Speaker1:
He's a rocket launcher maybe?

Speaker2:
A ground-to-air missile.

Speaker1:
This is so offensive. Sorry, guys.

Speaker2:
Uh, anyway, basically, with this little thing, this little trick, he, um, defeated, um, Harold. And became the, uh, last remaining, um, claimant to the throne, and he became king.

Speaker1:
Aha. So a Frenchman took the throne?

Speaker2:
Yes, exactly.

Speaker1:
And he brought with him all of the French and the French language, because we we speak a lot of French, like like, I think 30% of the English vocabulary derives from French vocab.

Speaker2:
So it was a shared culture. It became, uh, um, basically once he was coronated, which was, by the way, on Christmas Day in 1066 at Westminster Abbey, the New Westminster Abbey. Um, yeah. He, um, basically started what what was the future of England; a Norman Anglo-Saxon cross culture.

Speaker1:
Right. Okay. Um.

Speaker2:
a fusion of the two.

Speaker1:
So, yeah. The language. Yeah, mixing a lot. I was actually excited to, to see if, um, I could connect the dots with the phrase pardon my French. You know, when we swear, we sometimes say pardon, pardon my French.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
You say that.

Speaker2:
Yeah. We do. Yeah.

Speaker1:
So I thought that would have probably come from this time. But it was, it was apparently the 19th century. So we say that because I think it was more noblemen used to use French words, and then they would say sorry for using another language [really?]. Like French vocabulary. If they said something French, they would kind of show their culture because it was higher-class culture. So they would be sort of slipping in, sort of, I'm a pretentious prick, so here's a French word. And then they'd be like, oh, pardon my French.

Speaker2:
Oh, just like, oh, like basically like, oh, just in case you didn't catch it, I just used a French word.

Speaker1:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
And so they would apologise. And then it became a thing to associate it with vulgarity.

Speaker2:
Ah that's awesome.

Speaker1:
So that was in the 19th century. So it's not linked to the Norman invasion.

Speaker2:
No.

Speaker1:
But still.

Speaker2:
We can link it for comical purposes.

Speaker1:
Yes. Let's do that.

Speaker1:
Okay. So he introduced the feudal system to England. Yeah?

Speaker2:
I mean. England had noblemen and a sort of a medieval way of, of living, but this sort of more sophisticated version of a feudal system was introduced, um, after the Norman invasion, basically, a whole lot more sophistication was brought to England. [Okay] uh, and it's sort of set the foundations for the growth of England as we know it today.

Speaker1:
Right. Okay. Yeah. And I can I can see that working for him, like if he comes in resets it all. I can see a bunch of people being pretty happy with the result of that. If they're given a load of land. Um, and then because the hierarchical structure is in place, it will be more difficult for everyone to sort of complain and be like, well, no, I didn't get anything because it'd be hard to rebel against such a structure, I guess.

Speaker2:
Exactly. Yeah, yeah. So just to give you an example of what what we're talking about when we say slightly more sophisticated system. Yeah. Uh, landholding classes, um, you know, they existed to a point, the noblemen in the old sort of setup, but he actually brought ways of documenting things. So he brought, for example, the Domesday Book. He created that.

Speaker1:
So he brought an Excel spreadsheet.

Speaker2:
Google sheets.

Speaker1:
Also known as a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet before technology.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Back then it was just a spreadsheet. Um, so he, he basically commissioned this thing called the Domesday Book in 1086, which was a comprehensive survey of all the land holdings and assets in England. Uh, this survey served administrative and taxation purposes; and sort of it provided invaluable insights into the kingdom's resources. It was a much better way of keeping control of absolutely every part of the kingdom.

Speaker1:
Phenomenal.

Speaker2:
Amazing. I mean, it really like you can see it in England right up into the modern day. There are the landholding gentry, you know, who are what do they call it, Debrett's Peerage, you know, that must be a, um, sort of an offshoot of that idea.

Speaker1:
Right okay.

Speaker1:
And that leads directly to the great English country houses, right?

Speaker2:
It does. Yes. And you can check that episode out.

Speaker1:
Yeah. We covered that extensively in three episodes I think.

Speaker2:
Ah, that was three. That's right.

Speaker1:
Yeah. I remember that being interesting how some of the nobles, they were almost trapped in their roles, weren't they? Like we think of the injustice for everyone who had to support the houses and the nobles, but the nobles themselves, it was kind of like a gilded cage in a way. They couldn't just sod off and not do what they were born to do.

Speaker2:
No. That's right. In order to live the life that they have, being the boss of this area, owning the land and, you know, being in the position that they're in, they owe a duty to the king. Yeah. You can. You'd probably be executed if you didn't, um, adhere to that. So, yeah, everyone was, uh, really, um, you know, sort of built they were stuck in this built, built in sort of structure, you know.

Speaker1:
And. As I said, right at the beginning, this all leads to modern-day British culture, in my opinion, because of the class-based system that came out of this. And we still have this hangover of the class-based system, like we feel it. We don't want to have it necessarily now, but it's still there. And this comes from the feudal system and the great English country houses and.

Speaker2:
100% all of the modern-day class system in England, sorry, was created directly from this. This feudal system created the class system.

Speaker1:
And Australia is very proud in being an egalitarian system.

Speaker2:
And then we call it an egalitarian society where there's no there's no classes, everybody is equal. I mean, in modern-day England, there's not much legal application to those ranks anymore. They're more, um, they're more sort of symbolic in a way.

Speaker1:
Yeah, it's it's more like just social anthropology, kind of. You just notice it if you're just aware of that kind of thing.

Speaker2:
Yeah. But I mean, I suppose there are many, you know, dukes and barons and so forth who actually have benefited from that greatly because they own huge swathes of land and, you know, they still have a lot of money and they've been very they've benefited off that system greatly. So it still has an effect.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
Because you've still got the House of Lords, right? I don't know. As a lord you can still attend the House of Lords automatically.

Speaker1:
I believe so.

Speaker2:
Yeah that's crazy. But yeah. Um, so speaking of culture and sophistication and all this sort of stuff, uh, often associated with the noble classes, um, the Normans actually brought their own cultural and architectural influences to England. You know, we see big splashes of Norman architecture right across England during this period and up until today, uh, any anything that is in the Romanesque or Gothic styles and those sort of castles and cathedrals, um, they're all, um, from the Normans.

Speaker1:
Glad to hear it. Some beautiful buildings. And you managed to see some of them in your last trip to London, didn't you?

Speaker2:
I saw a lot when I was in London. Um. Sorry.

Speaker1:
I'm just imagining you seeing all sorts of profanity.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker1:
What did you see, Ben? Tell me, who showed you what?

Speaker2:
No, no. Um. Yeah. I mean, um, when I was in England, uh, in London recently, I went to the Tower of London.

Speaker1:
You did.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Um, that's got a lot of different examples of, um, different architectural styles as, as it was built out through the centuries. [Right] it originally started, if anyone listening has ever been to the Tower of London, it originally started with that central building. As you go through the gates and stuff, there's just that big building in the centre. It was originally just that. And then everything got added. The walls got added at a certain point over many hundreds of years, this sort of built out, and there's several different architectural styles within there.

Speaker1:
And they were influenced by the Normans?

Speaker2:
I think there were some structures in there that are definitely influenced by the Normans. Yeah.

Speaker1:
Yeah. So what, this kind of ended the Dark ages, would you say?

Speaker2:
Yeah, it did actually, this is the official end of the Dark ages as far as most historians are concerned. Um, that's because the Dark Ages are basically defined for the lack of information that written information about that period.

Speaker1:
Oh, I thought it was light.

Speaker2:
Yeah. No, it was always dark, I mean. It was, uh, 1066, uh, William the Conqueror first brought electricity to England and, uh, lamps.

Speaker1:
And the sun.

Speaker2:
And the sun.

Speaker1:
Yeah, well, about bloody time. Do you reckon they knew it would be called the Dark Ages when they were going through it?

Speaker2:
It just depends how dark it was. And if they'd ever seen the sun. [Yeah] yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
Maybe they didn't ever see it written down because they couldn't read without any light. All right. We'll have to leave it there for today because that was one of the longest ones. But I'm going to keep it like that I think. Apologies, guys, for it being so long, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. I certainly enjoyed it and I'd like to think that Ben enjoyed it.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And we'll, you know, I hope we can do some more of these interesting monarchs.

Speaker1:
Abso bloody lutely. Yeah. Um, so we've covered the first king of England, King Athelstan, and then the French invader, William the Conqueror. And he was called King William. Was he called King William the Conqueror or just William the Conqueror?

Speaker2:
He was King William, [King William] King William, the first.

Speaker1:
King Billy. [King Billy] to me.

Speaker2:
Billy boy.

Speaker1:
Billy boy. Uh, well, thank you very much, Ben. I look forward to the next one. Bye bye for now.

Speaker2:
Thanks. Bye, Charlie.

Speaker1:
There we go. The end of part three, meaning the end of the episode. Well done for getting through the entirety of it. Make sure you use all of the resources available to you in your membership. Thanks once again for supporting the show and I look forward to seeing you next time on the British English Podcast.

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Transcript of Premium Bonus 057- Transcript

Speaker1:
Hello, hello, hello. Welcome to the British English Podcast with me, your host Charlie Baxter. In today's episode, I'm back in Sydney opposite the historian that lives Down Under, also known as Ben Marks, and as he has agreed to help us wrap our heads around some of the great monarchs of England. I am very excited indeed. But before we get into the weeds, uh, let's see if Ben's mic is working. Do say hello.

Speaker2:
Hello, hello. Check, check. Hello. Hello from Sydney.

Speaker1:
Hello from Sydney.

Speaker2:
Hello from brookvale.

Speaker1:
Brookvale. Yes. We're in your workspace right now.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So I work in a video agency and we are currently using the boardroom, but it's called the boardroom for another very good reason.

Speaker1:
Ah yes. Because there are 123456789 surfboards in this room. It's so Aussie.

Speaker2:
Yeah, well, we're on the northern beaches here, so, um, a lot of our crew surfs. Any of your listeners ever come to Sydney. Uh, Brookvale is just set back one suburb, back from one of the northern beaches, DUI. And so it's very, very easy to go down for a surf. So we call it the boardroom because it is in fact the boardroom, but it also has lots of boards in it.

Speaker1:
So is this actually like the equivalent of a bike locker space? What's the what's the correct.

Speaker2:
Like a bike rack. A bike room.

Speaker1:
Bike rack. Thank you a bike rack. Yes.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Well I mean that's legitimately a surf rack isn't it? [Yeah.] Yeah.

Speaker1:
But these are individual employees boards?

Speaker2:
Um, I think they're a collection of my boss's boards. [Right.] Um.

Speaker1:
Is he showing off a bit? Look how many boards I've got, guys.

Speaker2:
Yeah, I'll make sure he has a listen to this podcast.

Speaker1:
Uh, thank you, Mr. Boss Man, for giving us this board room. Well, I actually had a little dip in DUI today. It was very refreshing. Do you do that at lunch break, ever?

Speaker2:
Uh, not often. No, I think I've done it, like, twice. Um, basically, you know, you want to get your work done. I'd rather finish up and then go down for an afternoon swim. Especially here in Sydney. Um, in summer. I mean, we were out just then until about or nearing eight, and it was still light, so. [Yeah.] And it was quite warm. [Yeah. Yeah, it was really warm.] I mean, we just happened to have the air con on in here for, you know, 45 minutes before we started didn't we.

Speaker1:
Yes. And it's unfortunately turned off now because of the noise. So we're going to start to get slimy, wet-looking faces as this episode goes on. So let's crack on.

Speaker2:
Um, I've made you a nice hot cup of tea, though. [Yeah.]

Speaker1:
Um, so when I briefed Ben on this one, he, uh, started planning it out and has about ten monarchs that he was frothing over. Do you use this phrase frothing over? Yeah. Yeah, this is an Aussie phrase. [We use that. Yeah. For sure.] So it's not a British one. I learnt it when I came here and it means incredibly excited right?

Speaker2:
Yeah yeah. Like you just go at the on a Friday afternoon, you just go, oh mate I can't wait to knock off. I'm absolutely frothing for a beer. Knock off just means ending work. But yeah.

Speaker1:
So to keep it light-hearted and for the information to sink in, we're not going to do all ten. Uh, that would be a marathon. So we'll just focus our attention on two monarchs today, as there is a lot to be said about these two fellas. So, um, Ben, are you ready to, um, let battle commence?

Speaker2:
Yes, indeed. Very good. Because, uh, that is a, uh, it's very apt. These two kings were famous for their battles, basically their military prowess and, um, that prowess in both their cases, you know, had a drastic impact on the course of English history. [Yeah.]

Speaker1:
I'm excited. I've learned a lot. It's amazing. I'm really excited for the listener to go through what I've gone through. Um, so where would you like to start?

Speaker2:
We'll just do it chronologically. We'll talk about the first two in that list that I had. [Yeah]

Speaker1:
Okay. Sounds good. So the first one.

Speaker2:
Uh, his name is Athelstan.

Speaker1:
Athelstan.

Speaker2:
King Athelstan, he was born in 894, and he died in 939. And he reigned from the years 924 to 939.

Speaker1:
So this is a long, long time ago. And why is he important for us to know?

Speaker2:
Yeah. So he was he was well and truly in the dark ages, uh, of England. Um, and he was famous because basically, he became what many historians consider to be the first king of England. That was in 924. He was the grandson of Alfred the Great, who was, uh, you know, the king of Wessex. Uh, and he was the son of, um, King Edward the Elder. And yeah, he basically was the first of the rulers within what we now consider modern-day England to unite all of the smaller kingdoms into one bigger kingdom and solidify them under his rule, which sort of was the start of what we now call England. [Wow]

Speaker1:
So considering your grandfather. Is known as Alfred the Great. That's pretty impressive to step out of the shadow cast by that guy. Yeah, because he went on to, you know, could we say found England? Can you say that?

Speaker2:
Yeah. In essence, uh, and he laid the foundations for the kingdom's future stability. So that's why Athelstan is often referred to as the first king of England, due to his success in unifying those territories and creating a single entity.

Speaker1:
Okay, so he's a he's a consolidator. He's a great. The great consolidator. [Yes.] Do you reckon his grandchildren called him that? You know, his his grandfather was Alfred the Great. Do you reckon he was known as.

Speaker2:
Athelstan the consolidator? Yeah. Okay. I think he's missing a name. And I was looking at that, and I was wondering, you know, this guy did so much good stuff, and he was like, he's so important. He doesn't even have a nickname like everybody else. Um, I mean, even his father was Edward the elder. I mean, if you could have any name, that's not the one you want. No, but, like, he doesn't have a name. So, honestly, Charlie, I think you've I think let's let's pitch it to the historians around the world, and let's get him officially nicknamed, um, Athelstan the consolidator. [Yeah.]

Speaker1:
I'm just thinking of those ads that we had 'consolidate your debt' when we were younger. That was a lot on the TV. That was just. Are you in debt? Do you need to consolidate your debts into one manageable debt?

Speaker2:
Is this so..Is this a thing that you just remember vividly from your childhood?

Speaker1:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
This was always on. Even I think it's probably on now. Did you .. it's like an ad in the on the TV in the UK. Did you have this at all in Australia? Uh, I suppose they weren't. You weren't in debt. The UK is probably more in debt individually.

Speaker2:
Yeah. I mean we live in a golden country. Yeah. We sometimes take baths in just solid coins.

Speaker1:
But yes. So the Great Consolidator brought the Angles and the Saxons together, along with a lot of others. Is there any more context you could give us here?

Speaker2:
Yeah. So the context of this is actually it's pretty important to understand exactly what he did. You've got to imagine before Athelstan, England was a collection of separate Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. And they were each like these mini kingdoms that were within the current boundaries of what is modern England. Um, and these mini kingdoms were each ruled by their own king. Um, actually, this period before Athelstan is often referred to as the Anglo-Saxon heptarchy. So. Heptarchy. [Eight, Yeah] Seven. [laughs] Oct is eight. Like octagon octopus.

Speaker1:
October. Oh, God.

Speaker2:
Um, so it was a heptarchy, which means [seven!] Seven, seven, seven kingdoms. [Seven.] Yes, yes. I just had a thought. The seven kingdoms. Is this where I know George R.R. Martin for Game of Thrones took a lot of his ideas from English history, the Seven Kingdoms. That's probably where he got that idea.

Speaker1:
Yeah, I knew that. Yeah,duh!

Speaker2:
Honestly, I'm not even joking. He took like, I don't know. Yeah. The Starks and Lannisters came from the Yorks and Lancasters in the War of the roses, and he did this throughout all of his books. He borrowed from real history. So yeah, I just thought of that then.

Speaker1:
The War of the roses was a lot later, though.

Speaker2:
Yes. We won't talk about that now. [Yes.] Yeah. I just it was just a thought. [Yeah.] Um, there were in fact more than seven, but there were seven main ones. Um.

Speaker1:
That's funny. That's rude of the others, like disregarding the others. Actually, psychologists say your short term memory is seven plus or minus two chunks of information. The average person, right. [Okay] So maybe that's why they just did seven. They were like, oh, no one's going to remember the rest.

Speaker2:
That is a thought.

Speaker2:
I like it. I like it.

Speaker1:
But i think TikTok is changing that.

Speaker2:
You were on TikTok today, were ya?

Speaker1:
Yeah, I think it's probably like five plus or minus two now. How many things do you think you can remember? You were pretty good at the password earlier. You could remember the whole thing. That was quite a few digits.

Speaker2:
I tell you what. I was telling you before, I'm feeling a bit sharper today because after work I've been going home and studying for the last three nights. Yeah, uh, I'm actually feeling pretty sharp.

Speaker1:
Nice. Okay. Yeah.

Speaker1:
So you could be, what, ten plus or minus two.

Speaker2:
I reckon I'm about ten. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
I think you're above average.

Speaker2:
Right now, give me. Give me a couple of beers, and that drops off significantly.

Speaker1:
But yeah, going back to the history of England. [Yeah.] So what were those seven called?

Speaker2:
Um, so these kingdoms were called Wessex, Mercia, Northumbria, East Anglia, Kent, Sussex and Essex and a few of those, uh, the names you'll obviously recognise are still around today.

Speaker1:
Um, yeah. They are. Yeah. Not Mercia. [I don't know yeah] I don't think so.

Speaker2:
Definitely essex and Kent is Northumbria.

Speaker1:
Uh, sorry, I just googled Mercia. Uh, it was annexed by Wessex in the early 10th century. The West Saxon rulers divided it into shires. These shires survived mostly intact until 1974, and even today still largely follow their original boundaries. [Really? Till today?] Till today? Yeah.

Speaker2:
That's really. That's actually really crazy. We're talking about over a thousand years ago. [Yeah.] That's really nuts.

Speaker1:
Yeah. It is.

Speaker1:
I mean, a lot of these things have had a knock-on effect up until today. Like I can still see some evidence of it, but we'll talk about that in a moment. So okay. So you've named the seven. Yeah. And what was before the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms then?

Speaker2:
Okay.

Speaker2:
So before the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, um, basically what we have to do is we have to understand who the Angles and the Saxons were. They were Germanic tribes that invaded England after the decline of the Roman Empire and their exit from England in 410 CE. By the way, CE is the same thing as AD. It just means current era. Uh, it's just a non modern sort of, uh, move away from the religious, uh, usage of AD are okay.

Speaker1:
Yeah, I did actually ask Google what CE was, but I didn't know why it was replacing AD.

Speaker2:
It's just to move away, to move away from the church so that everyone in the world can use the same terms. [Okay.] Um, yeah. So, uh, basically Rome fell. It was sacked in 455 by the Vandals, um, a Visigoth tribe. And then the whole empire fell in 476. But before then, in 410, they did start withdrawing from England because they're, you know, they were starting to, um, you know, lose, lose all of their money and they were starting to decline. Okay. Um, so basically, after they left the Angles and the Saxons, who were northern Germanic tribes, uh, made a decision that they were going to take advantage of this and come over and crush the Celtic tribes, the Britons who had been living there before them.

Speaker1:
Right. Under Roman rule?

Speaker2:
Yes.

Speaker1:
So but the. So okay. Before the Romans?

Speaker2:
Before the Romans, they were local Britons or Celtic tribes.

Speaker1:
Celtic tribes, then the Romans. Then...

Speaker2:
The Romans came and ruled over the Celtic tribes.

Speaker1:
Right. Oh, okay. Yeah.

Speaker2:
Uh, the Celts still live there. [Yeah.] Um, then the Rome Roman Empire fell. The Romans left. The Celtic tribes were left in disarray. Uh, and the Angles and Saxons took their opportunity to come and and invade and take over, um, England.

Speaker1:
And they had good roads to access everywhere.

Speaker2:
Yeah, exactly. The Romans set up, um, England with great infrastructure.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Come on in. Come on in.

Speaker2:
Exactly. It was perfect for them. [Yeah.] So they became. That's that's where we get the terms Anglo Saxon from.

Speaker1:
And I read that. So they were separate, uh, Germanic tribes that forged as they came in to England, the angles, the Saxons, some others that I can't remember. And then they became Anglo Saxon. And the etymology of England, I think they were England like angles. England. And then it became England.

Speaker2:
Angle Land - England.

Speaker2:
That sounds.. England.

Speaker2:
That sounds about right. Yeah, I can't confirm that, but that sounds right. Yeah. So basically the angles and the Saxons were separate and they had their own separate little kingdoms, which we were talking about.

Speaker1:
Yeah. And then they came together.

Speaker2:
They did come together and I think, uh, it was Athelstan who basically because he unified the country. [Yeah.] As England, um, that created the first Anglo Saxon unity and culture.

Speaker1:
Right. Okay. And when did the Vikings come in?

Speaker2:
Um, so the Vikings were also raiding England frequently during this period, and they were doing it often in an alliance with the Scots and the Picts. So up in Scotland, in the north they had Scots and the Picts. Now they were distinct tribes, but they were both in Scotland.

Speaker1:
Right, okay.

Speaker2:
And they, they would team up often with, um, the Vikings. This is during towards the end of the Viking Age. Um, but the Vikings were strong at that point and they would invade England constantly.

Speaker1:
So they would come over from modern day Denmark or.. Yeah, around there?

Speaker2:
Yeah, Denmark, Norway, that sort of area.

Speaker1:
So they'd take boats over the North Sea, come in around Yorkshire. I heard around there.

Speaker2:
They, they would uh, actually they would come in from all parts of the North. Um, I mean, they even went as far over as Ireland. And they were actually they were the, uh, they started up Dublin.

Speaker1:
I heard that, yeah. That's insane. [Yeah.] That's mad. They got all the way over there.

Speaker2:
Yeah yeah yeah, [yeah.]

Speaker2:
Into Scotland. And uh, at one point they even took over massive uh massive massive. They took over massive, um, they managed to take over large swathes of England actually. Um, now before we were talking about Athelstan's grandfather, Alfred the Great. [Yes.] Um, now I'm about to tell you why he was called Alfred the Great. [Oh.] When the, uh, Vikings came in and took over large swathes of England, at one point, they were halted from further expansion, um, by Alfred the Great. Um. And he signed a treaty with Guthrum, I think is his name in 886. Who was the, uh, Viking king. Um, and basically the the treaty meant that they wouldn't expand any further, but they did set up what was called the Danelaw, which was a huge area across northern England, down into the sort of the middle part of England. And they lived side by side with the English. It wasn't until, uh, Athelstan, um, that they were driven out.

Speaker1:
Oh, so hang on. So, um, Danish Vikings, they came over, they even got over to Ireland, said hello, and and built up Dublin for them. Then Athelstan's great grandfather, not great grandfather, but his grandfather, who was great. [Yeah.] Agreed with the Danes on a sort of border. Things ticked along nicely. And then his grandson, Athelstan, who's desperate to show how great he is, decides to disregard this treaty and sends the Vikings packing.

Speaker2:
That's right. Exactly.

Speaker1:
Into the North Sea to modern day Denmark.

Speaker3:
Exactly. Yeah, you said it perfectly.

Speaker1:
That's a bit bit rude of him, isn't it? Like he's kind of ruined what his great. Sorry I keep doing that. His grandfather, who was great.

Speaker2:
Um, his great grandfather.

Speaker1:
He's undone all his all his treaty work.

Speaker2:
Yeah, he has, he has.

Speaker2:
But, you know, to be fair, um, he sort of did a better job, didn't he?

Speaker1:
Yeah, yeah. He founded England.

Speaker2:
Yep. Yep.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Imagine how proud he would be to know how far England has gone?

Speaker2:
I know, I know, right. I was going to say something political, but I won't.

Speaker1:
Um, so how did he do that? Was there a big battle?

Speaker2:
Uh, he did. He. He went to war with them. The battle was called the Battle of Now I might get this word wrong in terms of pronunciation, it's the battle of Brunanburh. The battle of Brunanburh.

Speaker1:
Okay, let's have a..That sounds better. [That sounds like..]

Speaker2:
The Battle of Brunanburh. That sounds much more like it.

Speaker1:
Yeah.

Speaker2:
All right. We're going to go with the Battle of Brunanburh.

Speaker1:
So what happened in this battle? Did. Athelstan. Athelstan. Did he did he get involved?

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
So basically, this was a big battle.

Speaker1:
But as in did he fight?

Speaker2:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, um, look, the details of this particular battle are pretty scarce. [Uh] We don't know the numbers. We don't even know exactly where it was fought.

Speaker1:
What are we doing here, then, Ben?

Speaker2:
I think they think it was fought somewhere in York. [Okay] I think they that's what I...

Speaker1:
I think I've, I could be confused with another battle because I've read a lot of information in the last couple of days about battles. But one of the big ones is, is just a mystery of the location.

Speaker2:
That's this one, [okay] this one, they don't really know exactly where it was fought. Look, the records back then are not great. Um, no good record keeping and sort of modern, uh, modern ways of doing things came in with William the Conqueror.

Speaker1:
Um. Oh, we might talk about him later.

Speaker2:
Did you see what I did there? [Yeah, it was very good.]

Speaker2:
Um, so, yeah, there's scarce records. There's things like, um, tapestries, [okay] that depict the battle. Yeah. Um, but some, you know, it's not the records haven't been kept. Well, we really don't know the numbers and things are guessed at, and we don't even know the exact location, so.

Speaker1:
Okay, okay. But what we do know. So this battle of.

Speaker2:
Brunanburh.

Speaker1:
Was just him versus the the Vikings?

Speaker2:
No, no, it wasn't. So, uh, it was a coalition, uh, of Norse and Scottish forces. And they came down had a little battle and, uh. Yeah. Uh, he won. Athelstan won.

Speaker1:
Uh, do we? [*Charlie claps his hand in applause*] Very good.

Speaker1:
I mean, you know, two sides to the coin, isn't there? I mean, that's horrible of us. Well, for the Vikings.

Speaker2:
I feel like I want to tell you the name of the Viking king because it's so Viking. It's Olaf Guthfrithson.

Speaker1:
Wow.

Speaker2:
Get this. He was the Norse king of Dublin.

Speaker1:
Wow. So they had a Viking king who lived in Dublin.

Speaker2:
[In Dublin] I guess. So, yeah. [Mad!]

Speaker1:
I would never have guessed that. Um, fun fact you probably definitely know this, but, um, the first thing we think of as Brits and I assume Aussies of Vikings. The horned helmets, right? Yes. That's false. That's not real. They didn't have horns.

Speaker2:
Can I guess where this is from, or am I going to ruin your fact?

Speaker1:
No, it's not really. I mean, that's the fact mainly. [Yeah.] Go on.

Speaker2:
I was just going to say that it was an affectation of the opera.

Speaker1:
Uh, the opera did encourage it afterwards, but it was. It was something about exaggerating the evil in them. And I think they were known for their brutality. And so they kind of depicted them as these horned creatures.

Speaker2:
That makes a lot of sense.

Speaker1:
But somebody was describing how stupid these horns would be in battle. Like they'd get caught constantly on everything, and also in battle the opponent could grab them and just chuck them anywhere.

Speaker2:
Yeah, that's what I'd be doing.

Speaker1:
So yes, no horns on the Vikings, I. I found a poem from this battle. It wasn't documented very well, apparently. But we do have a poem. And this poem, the battle is the subject of one of the oldest known war poems in the English language. Would you like to hear the first five lines?

Speaker2:
Oh, absolutely. And can you do it in, like, a little poetry voice?

Speaker1:
Okay, so I need, like, a sort of Greensleeves kind of.

Speaker2:
Okay, um, let's let's get this up for you. Okay.

Speaker1:
That's not Greensleeves at all.

Speaker2:
I'm going to get you some Greensleeves.

Speaker1:
In this year. King Athelstan, Lord of warriors, ring giver to men, and his brother, also.

Speaker1:
Prince. Edmund won eternal glory. In battle with sword edges around Brunanburh, they split the shield wall. That's it. That's the end. But what a great second line, [honestly] ring giver to men and his brother also. But yeah, the oldest known war poem in the English language there.

Speaker2:
Ring giver to men. Okay, once again, I'm just going to say is this where Tolkien got the idea of, [oh], i mean, you see it as you as you're going through, like, history. These guys were, um, like, he was a professor of linguistics. And so he would have read all this poetry.

Speaker1:
Right?

Speaker2:
I wonder if that line. I mean, you like that line.

Speaker1:
Yeah. I mean.

Speaker1:
To me it sounded like really basic English, but I'll give them a break. It was the first poem ever written. So we've got the context of all of this. We understand the Battle of Brunanburh, but linguistically. So let's just recap. So we've got Celtic language to start off with. Then we've got Roman Italian, kind of Latin, no Latin, Latin influence.

Speaker2:
Sure.

Speaker1:
And then we've got the Germanic tribes. So we've got Celtic, Latin, Germanic and then Danish.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So there's definitely.

Speaker1:
Viking, whatever that was.

Speaker2:
There's definitely Norse language that's um, threaded throughout, um, the English language. Okay. We have a lot of influences in the English language, but the English language, as far as I'm aware, the Anglo Saxon language is primarily what we speak now. That was what they called Old English.

Speaker1:
Right. And then there was Middle English.

Speaker2:
Middle English would probably be. Now this is a bit of a guess, but I would say that's when the Normans came in. And we'll talk about that in a bit. But there was a mishmash of, um, the Norman language with the Anglo Saxon language which is...

Speaker1:
Essentially French. Can we say Norman French or not really?

Speaker2:
Yeah. It's it's it's French. Um, you know, um, a thousand years ago.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Okay.

Speaker1:
Well, let's take a break now, because we've come to the end of Athelstan and, um, we will come back and talk about William the Conqueror. We have come to the end of part one, so feel free to take a break from your listening practice, but if you're happy to keep going, then we're now moving on to part two of this episode. Thanks so much for being a premium or Academy member and enjoy the rest of the show. So what I was going to say William the Conqueror. First thing's first. Do we think this was a self-proclaimed nickname?

Speaker2:
I think that some of these guys probably did want to be called certain things, and they probably whispered to one of their mates in court. They probably went oi, oi, tell everyone that it's a good idea. So it just it just pretend it's like regular conversation, bring it up like it's just organic and just say, wait, do you reckon we should call him Conqueror?

Speaker1:
What was that?

Speaker2:
What? Just. Oh, I don't know. I was just thinking. Don't don't tell him I said this because he would. He would hate it. But do you do you reckon we. I reckon we should call him William the Conqueror.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Do you reckon that would go down well?

Speaker2:
No, I think that's sounds shit. No, no shit? Hey, Willy. William. I put it out there and, um. Uh. Yeah, they said it was shit.

Speaker1:
Ah, i'm just going to go conquer a load of shit. And then they will see. They will see who the Conqueror is now.

Speaker2:
Actually, that's not a bad idea. I think there's a country above us. We could.

Speaker1:
We got learn to swim first.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah. Do we have any of those? What are they called? Ships?

Speaker1:
Yes. We do.

Speaker2:
All right, well, let's just finish this turkey leg, and, uh, we'll get these thousand men out of this massive dining room; pour all the beer down the drains. Put some on the ships, and let's head over to England.

Speaker1:
Brilliant.

Speaker1:
So, guys, we were in France. We've gone across the channel. I was about to say channel tunnel. The channel.

Speaker2:
We went on the Eurostar.

Speaker1:
It's funny because it's so modern.

Speaker2:
Oh, they've always had the Eurostar.

Speaker1:
So for the listener we're, we're assuming that he's on English turf yet.

Speaker2:
Yeah, we can, we can say that, um, there is a story that needs to be told before that battle though.

Speaker1:
Go for it.

Speaker2:
Um, so William does come up to England and he does challenge the current king at the time, um, King Harold. [Okay], um, for the throne. But there's a little more to it.

Speaker1:
Before that, we talked about him being the conqueror and that. So he was a Norman duke? Yeah?

Speaker2:
Yes. In what's, uh, in Normandy, in modern day France.

Speaker1:
Which is the north of France.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly.

Speaker2:
Yeah. And, um, yeah, he was very powerful man. Uh, very powerful noble. And, um, he took an opportunity to come over and claim the throne, which he believed was his. He believed he had a rightful claim to the throne.

Speaker1:
Um, Okay.

Speaker2:
Now, this came about because the previous king of England, Edward the Confessor, died and he had no children. So he had no direct lineage to, uh, take the crown. So this threw up a battle for succession.

Speaker1:
Right.

Speaker2:
I have an interesting fact for you, though. [Yeah] it, uh, just about Edward the Confessor. He was called the Confessor because of his extreme religious piety and devotion. Uh, hence confession. Um, England was Catholic at this time. Uh, he was also the king responsible for the construction of Westminster Abbey in London, uh, which was consecrated in 1065, shortly before his death as a Catholic church.

Speaker1:
Wow. [Yeah.] So he would confess all the time. I also heard that he would spend a lot of his time in Normandy.

Speaker2:
Uh, yeah. He would. Yes, exactly.

Speaker1:
And so he was telling everyone, oh, you could be king. Maybe you can be king. Sorry for being so such a sinful bastard. You can be king. So he was flirting around, telling everyone you could be king.

Speaker2:
Yeah, well, actually, Harold had spent some time in Normandy, and he'd met, uh, William, and he'd actually professed an oath to William. This is before Edward the Second died. Edward the Confessor. [Right.] Uh, came back to England, and then, uh, after Edward's death, uh, he took, uh, Harold took the throne. Uh, and then William the Conqueror was like, what? You professed an oath to me. That's my throne. Ah, yeah. So he believed he had a claim to the throne.

Speaker1:
Okay.

Speaker2:
There were actually three claimants to the throne. The first man to take the throne, as we said after Edward's death, was the Anglo-Saxon king Harold Godwinson. He was the richest and most powerful nobleman at the time in England, or one of. And also Harold's sister, Edith, had been married to King Edward the Confessor, so he had that familial, very close familial. He believes, uh, the line of succession should go to him.

Speaker1:
Yeah, right.

Speaker2:
As, um, edward had no sons.

Speaker1:
Okay. So he he was an aristocrat, right?

Speaker2:
Yeah, he was a nobleman. I don't know if they they would use that time back then. Definitely a nobleman.

Speaker1:
Nobleman. Okay. And this is based on the feudal system that you taught me about. So France had the feudal system before england and William the Conqueror brought the feudal system over to England afterwards. Yeah. [That's right.] So these guys, just to recap, because, you know, you taught me about the noble system noblemen and stuff. So they would be given land by the king for a service that they did, and then that would kind of build a hierarchy.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So basically, just in a very basic sense, that feudal system was. Yeah, the king would hand out lands to certain wealthy men who, um, in return, would pledge their military support and raise troops for the, the overall army for the king.

Speaker1:
Right.

Speaker2:
Um, it was basically. Yeah, it was trading land for defence. And obviously England already had this system to a point, but I think the, the Norman invaders had a more sophisticated system.

Speaker1:
Okay.

Speaker1:
So it wasn't reinventing the wheel or anything. They they had a system in place. But France brought over a better version.

Speaker2:
A more sophisticated system.

Speaker2:
Yeah.

Speaker1:
Okay. So we've got William of Normandy coming over to complain. Complain also to claim.

Speaker3:
A complaint in there. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
Um, and the other ones.

Speaker2:
Yeah. So basically we had Harold Godwinson, who was the Anglo Saxon who took the throne. Then we have William of Normandy coming over, claiming that he'd been promised a throne by Edward and that Harold had actually sworn an oath to him when he visited Normandy. So he believed he had a claim to the throne. Uh, so he came up from France, and then we had a third player, another Harold, but spelt Harald Hardrada of Norway, a Viking king. He was also contesting the succession.

Speaker1:
Why were the Norwegians trying to get in on the action then?

Speaker2:
Uh, okay.

Speaker2:
So his claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor, Magnus the Good, and the earlier King of England. He was trying to make a claim on something that had happened a couple of generations earlier.

Speaker1:
Bloody hell.

Speaker2:
It's a mess.

Speaker1:
It must have been so messy. Especially, you know, without an Excel spreadsheet or something. There's so much hearsay, right? No, he said this. No, but he said this and she said that.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
So, um, do we now talk about the only thing I remember about William the Conqueror, the Battle of Hastings?

Speaker2:
Yes.

Speaker2:
But first we're going to talk about the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Speaker1:
Okay. Stamford Bridge, not the same one because I checked this. Not the same one that Chelsea football stadium is on.

Speaker2:
Oh, it's the very same.

Speaker2:
I mean, aren't all battles in England over football?

Speaker1:
Yes.

Speaker1:
I'm sure some of the Celtic tribes kicked a ball about and then they were like, hang on, which kingdom are you from? You're not allowed on our team. F-off. And then the Anglo-Saxons got involved.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, I honestly.

Speaker2:
Reckon all of this. I mean, they're just drumming it up as some sort of political hoo ha, but I think it was just a football riot.

Speaker1:
It's just Green Street on a bigger scale. Yeah, yeah. Instead of three hour film or two hour film, it's 2000 years.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah. They're very passionate in England.

Speaker1:
Yeah. All right, so the battle of Stamford Bridge.

Speaker2:
Okay.

Speaker2:
Now this was the first battle. Um, so basically, Harold.

Speaker1:
Sorry, the first battle.

Speaker2:
Of two.

Speaker1:
Between these three people complaining about the throne.

Speaker2:
Sorry. Let me re-explain. So the Battle of Stamford Bridge is the first battle that occurred in the battles between these three claimants to the throne.

Speaker1:
Got it. Okay.

Speaker2:
So the Battle of Stamford Bridge was in the north. Um, basically it was, and it was in Yorkshire, that's they don't know the exact, uh, sorry they do know the exact spot at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire.

Speaker1:
It was somewhere like Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire.

Speaker2:
Sorry. I've gone through so many battles. I'm getting my getting my facts confused here. Sorry. It was. Yeah, it was somewhere very specifically, uh, the, um, the 12th road off to the right near the cow. Um, yeah. So it occurred at Stamford Bridge in Yorkshire in 1066. And basically this was, um, Harold, uh, the Saxon King Harold, um, going up to defend his kingdom against King Harald of Norway, Harald Hardrada.

Speaker1:
Okay.

Speaker2:
Who was invading from the north.

Speaker1:
God, it just doesn't help both being called Harold.

Speaker3:
No, it's it's difficult.

Speaker1:
The Norwegian one. I don't know if we can say Norwegian, considering how far away, how long ago it was, but I'm going to, um. He's got his name as Harald. Let's.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
Let's call him that. Yeah.

Speaker2:
Harald. Harald. Harald. Okay. Harald.

Speaker2:
So Harold went up to meet Harald of Norway. Uh, and actually, uh, he he'd made, Harald had made an alliance with Harold's brother Tostig, who had been, um, you know, sent out of the kingdom for, for other family reasons. Um, and, you know, Tostig had supported Harald's claim to the throne.

Speaker2:
Okay. Now, both Tostig and Harold were killed at Stamford Bridge.

Speaker1:
Oh, no. So this whole thing was pointless for them.

Speaker2:
For them.

Speaker1:
They really let the team down there, haven't they?

Speaker2:
Yeah. [God] so, uh.

Speaker1:
You know that feeling when you score an own goal or something for your football team, but, like, times a million, I bet they were. Well, they were dead, but they were probably cringing in their graves.

Speaker2:
Yeah, well. You'd hope they were dead if they were cringing in their graves.

Speaker1:
Well, yeah. No, I mean, I mean, they let their team down by dying. So they are dead.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
But they probably didn't get a burial because they were just probably, you know, chucked on the heap of Vikings in Yorkshire burning. They were Vikings right?

Speaker2:
Yeah. They were. Yeah.

Speaker2:
Norsemen, Norsemen, Norsemen.

Speaker2:
Um I mean there might be some difference.

Speaker1:
So one of the three sides of this argument is over.

Speaker2:
They're all done. They're all done. Uh, and the thing was that the, um, Viking army was bigger, but they got taken by surprise. Um, King Harold Godwinson went up there, took him by surprise, and, um. Yeah, killed them all. And, uh, Hardrada Harald was killed by being shot in the neck with an arrow.

Speaker1:
Oof! Accurate.

Speaker2:
Yeah.

Speaker1:
Very good.

Speaker2:
This battle was actually considered generally by most historians to be the end of the Viking Age.

Speaker1:
Ah, as I said, they really let the team down.

Speaker1:
God.

Speaker1:
Imagine that.

Speaker2:
Yeah, it's that's that is the worst outcome possible.

Speaker1:
Yeah. I mean. An arrow to the neck. That's a good arrow.

Speaker2:
And ending an age.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Wow.

Speaker1:
You would feel on top of the. No, I'm not assuming that everyone's just savage like that and wants to end an empire or anything.

Speaker2:
But imagine if you're, you're, uh, your, your legacy was that you, you ended the age of your people.

Speaker1:
Or you ended the age of the enemy.

Speaker2:
Oh, yeah. Actually, if you look at it from the other side. Yeah, yeah, I mean, yeah. No.

Speaker1:
You are getting lucky tonight.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
They brought many a fair maiden.

Speaker1:
We have come to the end of part two now. So again, feel free to pause the episode, to take a break from your listening practice.

Speaker1:
And come back to the last part when you're ready.

Speaker1:
All right. So moving on to part three now - enjoy.

Speaker1:
So we're left with the Conqueror, right?

Speaker2:
That's right. Yep. So now, basically, as soon as this battle was done and King Harold Godwinson had finished this and he had depleted his forces and taken a lot of injuries and everything, they receive word, they thought, "it's all good, it's all good. We've defended the kingdom". And then they receive word that William of Normandy, his forces, were now invading from France down in the south.

Speaker1:
That's a full-on year, isn't it?

Speaker2:
Yeah. I mean. This is only a few days later, I think I calculated 19 days later. Um.

Speaker1:
God. 19 days.

Speaker2:
Yes. So the Battle of Stamford Bridge took place on the 25th of September, and the Battle of Hastings occurred on the 14th of October.

Speaker1:
Wow.

Speaker2:
So they had to I don't know where. Where is Hastings in England? It's in the South, right? [Yeah, yeah] so they had to march back then on horses and they had infantry basically on foot all the way down these Roman roads in a matter of days after just getting in a massive battle for their lives, go all the way down there and have another one.

Speaker1:
At least there wasn't much traffic, though.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
Not like the M4.

Speaker1:
Yeah. And the roads were pretty straight.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
I have absolutely no idea.

Speaker1:
They say the Romans built straight roads.

Speaker2:
Oh, okay. There you go.

Speaker1:
So no excuses to be late. So they faced off in Hastings. Hence the Battle of Hastings on the 14th of October, 1066. Yeah. What happened?

Speaker2:
Okay, so. They marched south. They got there, they faced the Norman army, and it was actually quite a battle. Now, as far as I'm aware, Harold's army went up on top of a ridge. Um, so they had the, the high ground, but they had mainly just infantry, whereas William had horses like, you know, cavalry, and he had a lot of archers, whereas Harold didn't have many archers. So they had the high ground, which was advantageous to them. And they actually managed to, um, hold William back for quite some time, even though they had a lot of casualties inflicted on them, you know, from The Archers.

Speaker1:
Yeah.

Speaker2:
Uh, but what what, uh, William did, which was, uh, the tactic he used to basically defeat them was he feigned a retreat, and he drew the soldiers off the hill. And then he turned around and shot them at level ground.

Speaker1:
Cheeky.

Speaker2:
Yes. And this is how he did it.

Speaker2:
[Shot them?] With arrows. [Okay.] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because it was difficult to shoot up.

Speaker2:
I'm assuming that. Yeah the upward angle made it quite difficult.

Speaker1:
Fire! But, sire. It's too high. I'm too weak. I've just been battling in bloody Yorkshire. No. So it was the other way around.

Speaker2:
So William's forces, they were trying to get up the hill and William. And he was having difficulty and so he this is as far as I understand it, he made a fake retreat. And so as they were running away they went off the hill and he drew a lot of he drew a lot of Harold's forces down the hill into a more of a shooting range. Yeah.

Speaker1:
So I should have done a French, so sort of. Excusez moi, sir, but I cannot get the arrow up the hill. Maybe because..

Speaker2:
If only we had, uh, something like, uh, automated crossbow or something like this, a bolt action.

Speaker1:
He's a rocket launcher maybe?

Speaker2:
A ground-to-air missile.

Speaker1:
This is so offensive. Sorry, guys.

Speaker2:
Uh, anyway, basically, with this little thing, this little trick, he, um, defeated, um, Harold. And became the, uh, last remaining, um, claimant to the throne, and he became king.

Speaker1:
Aha. So a Frenchman took the throne?

Speaker2:
Yes, exactly.

Speaker1:
And he brought with him all of the French and the French language, because we we speak a lot of French, like like, I think 30% of the English vocabulary derives from French vocab.

Speaker2:
So it was a shared culture. It became, uh, um, basically once he was coronated, which was, by the way, on Christmas Day in 1066 at Westminster Abbey, the New Westminster Abbey. Um, yeah. He, um, basically started what what was the future of England; a Norman Anglo-Saxon cross culture.

Speaker1:
Right. Okay. Um.

Speaker2:
a fusion of the two.

Speaker1:
So, yeah. The language. Yeah, mixing a lot. I was actually excited to, to see if, um, I could connect the dots with the phrase pardon my French. You know, when we swear, we sometimes say pardon, pardon my French.

Speaker2:
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
You say that.

Speaker2:
Yeah. We do. Yeah.

Speaker1:
So I thought that would have probably come from this time. But it was, it was apparently the 19th century. So we say that because I think it was more noblemen used to use French words, and then they would say sorry for using another language [really?]. Like French vocabulary. If they said something French, they would kind of show their culture because it was higher-class culture. So they would be sort of slipping in, sort of, I'm a pretentious prick, so here's a French word. And then they'd be like, oh, pardon my French.

Speaker2:
Oh, just like, oh, like basically like, oh, just in case you didn't catch it, I just used a French word.

Speaker1:
Yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
And so they would apologise. And then it became a thing to associate it with vulgarity.

Speaker2:
Ah that's awesome.

Speaker1:
So that was in the 19th century. So it's not linked to the Norman invasion.

Speaker2:
No.

Speaker1:
But still.

Speaker2:
We can link it for comical purposes.

Speaker1:
Yes. Let's do that.

Speaker1:
Okay. So he introduced the feudal system to England. Yeah?

Speaker2:
I mean. England had noblemen and a sort of a medieval way of, of living, but this sort of more sophisticated version of a feudal system was introduced, um, after the Norman invasion, basically, a whole lot more sophistication was brought to England. [Okay] uh, and it's sort of set the foundations for the growth of England as we know it today.

Speaker1:
Right. Okay. Yeah. And I can I can see that working for him, like if he comes in resets it all. I can see a bunch of people being pretty happy with the result of that. If they're given a load of land. Um, and then because the hierarchical structure is in place, it will be more difficult for everyone to sort of complain and be like, well, no, I didn't get anything because it'd be hard to rebel against such a structure, I guess.

Speaker2:
Exactly. Yeah, yeah. So just to give you an example of what what we're talking about when we say slightly more sophisticated system. Yeah. Uh, landholding classes, um, you know, they existed to a point, the noblemen in the old sort of setup, but he actually brought ways of documenting things. So he brought, for example, the Domesday Book. He created that.

Speaker1:
So he brought an Excel spreadsheet.

Speaker2:
Google sheets.

Speaker1:
Also known as a spreadsheet, a spreadsheet before technology.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Back then it was just a spreadsheet. Um, so he, he basically commissioned this thing called the Domesday Book in 1086, which was a comprehensive survey of all the land holdings and assets in England. Uh, this survey served administrative and taxation purposes; and sort of it provided invaluable insights into the kingdom's resources. It was a much better way of keeping control of absolutely every part of the kingdom.

Speaker1:
Phenomenal.

Speaker2:
Amazing. I mean, it really like you can see it in England right up into the modern day. There are the landholding gentry, you know, who are what do they call it, Debrett's Peerage, you know, that must be a, um, sort of an offshoot of that idea.

Speaker1:
Right okay.

Speaker1:
And that leads directly to the great English country houses, right?

Speaker2:
It does. Yes. And you can check that episode out.

Speaker1:
Yeah. We covered that extensively in three episodes I think.

Speaker2:
Ah, that was three. That's right.

Speaker1:
Yeah. I remember that being interesting how some of the nobles, they were almost trapped in their roles, weren't they? Like we think of the injustice for everyone who had to support the houses and the nobles, but the nobles themselves, it was kind of like a gilded cage in a way. They couldn't just sod off and not do what they were born to do.

Speaker2:
No. That's right. In order to live the life that they have, being the boss of this area, owning the land and, you know, being in the position that they're in, they owe a duty to the king. Yeah. You can. You'd probably be executed if you didn't, um, adhere to that. So, yeah, everyone was, uh, really, um, you know, sort of built they were stuck in this built, built in sort of structure, you know.

Speaker1:
And. As I said, right at the beginning, this all leads to modern-day British culture, in my opinion, because of the class-based system that came out of this. And we still have this hangover of the class-based system, like we feel it. We don't want to have it necessarily now, but it's still there. And this comes from the feudal system and the great English country houses and.

Speaker2:
100% all of the modern-day class system in England, sorry, was created directly from this. This feudal system created the class system.

Speaker1:
And Australia is very proud in being an egalitarian system.

Speaker2:
And then we call it an egalitarian society where there's no there's no classes, everybody is equal. I mean, in modern-day England, there's not much legal application to those ranks anymore. They're more, um, they're more sort of symbolic in a way.

Speaker1:
Yeah, it's it's more like just social anthropology, kind of. You just notice it if you're just aware of that kind of thing.

Speaker2:
Yeah. But I mean, I suppose there are many, you know, dukes and barons and so forth who actually have benefited from that greatly because they own huge swathes of land and, you know, they still have a lot of money and they've been very they've benefited off that system greatly. So it still has an effect.

Speaker1:
Yeah. Yeah, yeah.

Speaker2:
Because you've still got the House of Lords, right? I don't know. As a lord you can still attend the House of Lords automatically.

Speaker1:
I believe so.

Speaker2:
Yeah that's crazy. But yeah. Um, so speaking of culture and sophistication and all this sort of stuff, uh, often associated with the noble classes, um, the Normans actually brought their own cultural and architectural influences to England. You know, we see big splashes of Norman architecture right across England during this period and up until today, uh, any anything that is in the Romanesque or Gothic styles and those sort of castles and cathedrals, um, they're all, um, from the Normans.

Speaker1:
Glad to hear it. Some beautiful buildings. And you managed to see some of them in your last trip to London, didn't you?

Speaker2:
I saw a lot when I was in London. Um. Sorry.

Speaker1:
I'm just imagining you seeing all sorts of profanity.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker1:
What did you see, Ben? Tell me, who showed you what?

Speaker2:
No, no. Um. Yeah. I mean, um, when I was in England, uh, in London recently, I went to the Tower of London.

Speaker1:
You did.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Um, that's got a lot of different examples of, um, different architectural styles as, as it was built out through the centuries. [Right] it originally started, if anyone listening has ever been to the Tower of London, it originally started with that central building. As you go through the gates and stuff, there's just that big building in the centre. It was originally just that. And then everything got added. The walls got added at a certain point over many hundreds of years, this sort of built out, and there's several different architectural styles within there.

Speaker1:
And they were influenced by the Normans?

Speaker2:
I think there were some structures in there that are definitely influenced by the Normans. Yeah.

Speaker1:
Yeah. So what, this kind of ended the Dark ages, would you say?

Speaker2:
Yeah, it did actually, this is the official end of the Dark ages as far as most historians are concerned. Um, that's because the Dark Ages are basically defined for the lack of information that written information about that period.

Speaker1:
Oh, I thought it was light.

Speaker2:
Yeah. No, it was always dark, I mean. It was, uh, 1066, uh, William the Conqueror first brought electricity to England and, uh, lamps.

Speaker1:
And the sun.

Speaker2:
And the sun.

Speaker1:
Yeah, well, about bloody time. Do you reckon they knew it would be called the Dark Ages when they were going through it?

Speaker2:
It just depends how dark it was. And if they'd ever seen the sun. [Yeah] yeah, yeah.

Speaker1:
Maybe they didn't ever see it written down because they couldn't read without any light. All right. We'll have to leave it there for today because that was one of the longest ones. But I'm going to keep it like that I think. Apologies, guys, for it being so long, but I hope you enjoyed it nonetheless. I certainly enjoyed it and I'd like to think that Ben enjoyed it.

Speaker2:
Yeah. Yeah, definitely. And we'll, you know, I hope we can do some more of these interesting monarchs.

Speaker1:
Abso bloody lutely. Yeah. Um, so we've covered the first king of England, King Athelstan, and then the French invader, William the Conqueror. And he was called King William. Was he called King William the Conqueror or just William the Conqueror?

Speaker2:
He was King William, [King William] King William, the first.

Speaker1:
King Billy. [King Billy] to me.

Speaker2:
Billy boy.

Speaker1:
Billy boy. Uh, well, thank you very much, Ben. I look forward to the next one. Bye bye for now.

Speaker2:
Thanks. Bye, Charlie.

Speaker1:
There we go. The end of part three, meaning the end of the episode. Well done for getting through the entirety of it. Make sure you use all of the resources available to you in your membership. Thanks once again for supporting the show and I look forward to seeing you next time on the British English Podcast.

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