Battle of Maldon
The heroic poem The Battle of Maldon praises the resolute, loyal, but futile resistance of ealdorman Byrhtnoth and his men against a larger Danish army, which systematically ravaged along the south-west coast from Essex to Hampshire in 991. Loyalty, courage, and treasure are recurrent themes in secular heroic poetry; they are reflected in poems such as Beowulf and The Battle of Brunanburh.
Under the reign of Æthelred in 991, the Vikings were paid off, a treaty was signed and the Danes were given provisions and a tribute of 10,000 pounds of gold and silver. In return they promised to keep peace and even to support the English against other Viking raiders. This treaty, however, as well as many others, was broken or simply neglected by other groups of Scandinavian raiders. The following two decades saw therefore ever new raids of Vikings, ever new English defeats, and ever increasing sums of money to be paid.
The Battle of Maldon is one of the important battles that took place during this time. The poem described the events of the battle and is recorded in the Beowulf Manuscript.
|Literature, Old English Period, Poetry, Political, Vikings|