The Battle of Maldon

On August 10th, 991 a band of Viking raiders under their leader Anlaf camped on Northey Island after a series of raids along the Essex coast. Confronted by a substantial Anglo-Saxon force, led by Earl Byrhtnoth, the Vikings demanded payment of Danegeld as the price of their withdrawal. Byrhtnoth rejected the offer with contempt. The ensuing battle had to wait because of the rising tide. Byrhtnoth allowed the Vikings to cross the causeway in order to fight on the surrounding land.



The Essex men at first stood firm against the invaders, but when Byrhtnoth was killed by a poisoned spear, some of the defenders panicked and fled. The others stood by Byrhtnoth's body, and fought to the last man.

The battle was recorded in an epic poem composed around 995. It is preserved in a 18th-century copy of a lost manuscript.

To read more about The Battle of Maldon click here


Norman Angell

Writer, Member Commission Exécutive de la Société des Nations
(Executive Committee of the League of Nations) and of
National Peace Council Author of "The Great Illusion".

Nobel Peace Prize Laureate in 1933.

Norman Angell built the house on Northey Island to his own design, and his life and work is commemorated
on plaque on the wall of the house.  To read more about Norman Angell click here


The Battle of Maldon by Larry Nellinger Jr

The Historical Battle: The Vikings were led by Olaf (Anlaf) Trygguasson and consisted of a force of 93 ships (Oxford Anthology of English Literature). The Vikings had established a base on Northey Island. The Saxon force was led by Byrhtnoth and contained some of his kinsmen and retainers as well as the Fyrd.

The battle began with an exchange of arrows while both sides waited for the tide to go out. When the tide had subsided enough to allow crossing the Viking started across (of course there was the customary exchange of insults, medieval trash-talk). The Viking were prevented in crossing by one of Byrhtnoth's kinsman Wulfstan and two other Saxons Aelfere and Maccus of unknown heritage. After this trio wounded or killed several Vikings the Vikings withdrew and asked for permission to cross. The poem reads:

When the pirates perceived and clearly saw that they had been met by bitter bridge wardens, the Viking shipmen began to dissemble, asked for permission to make their approach, to fare over ford and take their troops. It was then that the earl disdainfully granted too much ground to the hostile host.

Byrhtnoth had already set his troops on a slope to have the advantage of high ground. As the Viking approached he "bade form with shields the war-hedge for battle" Apparently the Vikings then advanced and there was exchange of arrows and spears followed by a charge. From here the poem goes on to individual heroics and death of Byrhtnoth. He is wounded by a Viking spear which he shatters with his shield edge, and in return spears the Viking through the throat; he then throws a spear killing another Viking (through his mail shirt and into his heart) I should point out that Byrhtnoth was over 60 years old! He is then wounded in the side by another spear which Wulfstan's son Wulmaer the youthful draws out and mortally wounds the Viking that threw it (recycling works!). At this point Byrhtnoth rallies his men and bades them to "go forward and bear them well" Byrhtnoth is then attacked by several Vikings intent on stealing his armour rings and jewels, he tries to defend himself but is wounded in the arm dropping his sword. At this point the poet has him make a prayer for deliverance of his soul to heaven before he is hacked down. Then the retreat begins:

Then fled from battle who feared to be there: The sons of Odda were first in flight, Godric from battle, leaving his lord who had gven him many a goodly steed; he leaped on the horse that belonged to his leader, rode in the trappings that were not his by right.

At this point Byrhtnoth's household retainers decide to either avenge their lords death or join him, and the poem continues with tales of individual heroics and the line attributed the aged Byrhtwold, "Heart must be braver, courage the bolder, mood the stouter as our strength grows less!" One Saxon Eadweard the Long is credited with singlehandedly shattering the Viking shield wall and killing several Danes before being cut down. There is also a reference to the Viking breaking their shield wall and advancing, so apparently enough Saxons remained after the retreat that the Vikings still had to maintain the shieldwall for a time.


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Biography of Norman Angell

This information is taken from the Official Web Site of The Nobel Foundation   Visit the site to read the 1933 Presentation Speech and to view a bibliography of Angell Lane's work.

Ralph Norman Angell Lane (December 26, 1872-October 7, 1967) was one of six children of Thomas Angell Lane and Mary (Brittain) Lane. Raised in a well-to-do but unpretentious Victorian household in Holbeach in Lincolnshire, England, he was influenced by his older sister Carrie and by extensive reading of such authors as Herbert Spencer, Huxley, Voltaire, and Darwin. He discovered Mill's Essay on Liberty at the age of twelve and for a long time considered it his prime source of intellectual excitement.

Having attended elementary schools in England, the Lycée de St. Omer in France, a business school in London, and - while editing a biweekly English paper published in Geneva - a year of courses at the University of Geneva, he became convinced that the Old World was hopelessly entangled in insoluble problems. At seventeen, then, he decided to emigrate to America. The young man headed directly for the West Coast of the United States, where for seven years he worked as a vine planter, an irrigation-ditch digger, a cowpuncher, a California homesteader (after filing for American citizenship), a mail-carrier for his neighbourhood, a prospector, and, finally, a reporter for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat and later the San Francisco Chronicle.

After tending to some family affairs which had called him back to England in 1898, Angell went to Paris where he engaged in newspaper work, first as sub-editor of the English language Daily Messenger, then as staff contributor to Éclair. Meanwhile he acted as correspondent for some American papers to which he sent dispatches on the progress of the Dreyfus case. His experience with the American temper in the Spanish-American War, with French chauvinism in the Dreyfus affair, and with British jingoism in the Boer War prompted his first book Patriotism under Three Flags: A Plea for Rationalism in Politics" (1903). In 1905, Angell accepted the editorship of the Paris edition of Lord Northcliffe's Daily Mail, resigning in 1912 to devote himself completely to writing and lecturing. Angell had by that time become famous.

In 1909 he had published a small book, Europe's Optical Illusion, using for the first time the name Norman Angell which he later legalized. In 1910 he expanded this work considerably, retitling it The Great Illusion. This book was translated into twenty-five languages, sold over two million copies, and gave rise to a theory popularly called «Norman Angellism». This theory, as stated in the book's Preface, holds that military and political power give a nation no commercial advantage, that it is an economic impossibility for one nation to seize or destroy the wealth of another, or for one nation to enrich itself by subjugating another. In the next forty-one years, Angell published forty-one books distinguished for their rationality, clarity, painstaking analysis of fallacies, and earnestness tempered by good humor. The Fruits of Victory (1921) shows how the results of World War I bore out the propositions explained in The Great Illusion; The Money Game (1928) unmasks the economic warfare which has its roots in the «mercantilist illusion», a misunderstanding of the nature of money, and explains a card game he had invented to make currency problems «visual»; The Unseen Assassins (1932) analyzes some of the implications of patriotism, nationalism, and imperialism and discusses the problem of educating the common man; The Great Illusion: 1933 (1933) applies the thesis of 1909 to 1933 and states the case for cooperation as the basis for civilization; The Menace to Our National Defence (1934) proposes internationalization of civil aviation and collective defense by the air arm; The Great Illusion - Now (1938) updates his basic conception once again; Peace with the Dictators? (1938) deals with the theme of collective security; The Steep Places (1947) probes the limitations of national sovereignty in an organized society; After All (1951) is the urbane autobiography of a man, adventurous and evangelical, yet studious and reasonable, who is still looking for the formula that will enable men to achieve international peace.

Meanwhile, he wrote regularly for newspapers and journals and from 1928 to 1931 edited Foreign Affairs. He did not confine his activity to the writing desk. From 1929 to 1931 he was a Labour member of Parliament and member of the Consultative Committee of the Parliamentary Labor Party, but declined to stand for re-election because he felt «better fitted to present the case for internationalism to the public direct, freed from party ties». He was knighted for public service in 1931. He was a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, an executive of the Comité mondial contre la guerre et le fascisme [World Committee against War and Fascism], an active member of the Executive Committee of the League of Nations Union, and president of the Abyssinia Association. For over half a century, he travelled the «lecture circuit» almost every year; at the age of ninety he went on a two-month lecture tour of the United States.

Angell was a slightly built man, about five feet tall, ascetic of countenance, patient and courteous in manner. He died at ninety-four.


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