Godfrid the Saxon
Beornwulf, Godfrid and a random Viking at Tintagel

Godfrid was my first character I played at DAS. He started off as a swine-herding peasant of no great importance, and developed as my kit improved & I got given things. But soon he will retire, so I can start playing Hauk the Viking.

This is his biography. It is, of course, entirely fictional.

Godfrid Swineherd - Godfrid Fyrdsman - Brother Godfrid

Godfrid Swineherd
Godfrid loves his pigs...

Godfrid was a swineherd, and the son of a swineherd. His grandfather was probably also a swineherd. He was born and raised on the moors bordering the lands of the Sumorsaete, a wild untamed country in the heart of Wessex. His family didn't concern themselves in politics and wars, they just tried to scratch out a living. Their thegn was fair, and protected them in exchange for some of their swine-meat and some work on his fields. Their life wasn't pleasant, but at least it wasn't turbulent.
The farmstead was near a small monastry, where a handful of monks lived, worked and prayed. These monks taught Godfrid when he was young, and he grew up devoutly Christian and obedient to the monks.
Until the Vikings came. They was just a handful of men, a scouting party on the fringes of a larger army. But they were warriors, well armed and trained, and they soon killed the thegn. The peasants and monks were powerless to stop them, and so the Vikings killed them, taking the gold, women and animals back to their army.
Godfrid survived by hiding, and emerged to find his farmstead and the monastry destroyed. With no money and no food, he was forced to leave the moors and seek shelter elsewhere.

Anglo-Saxon social order didn't have the sort of career ladders you see these days. Ceorls (peasants) remained ceorls, and so did their children. The warrior class of thegns acted as lords, protecting and leading the peasants. This was fine, against bandits and other thegns. But these thegns were often merely part-time soldiers: the Vikings were full-time warriors.
There was no education system, and most people would have been hopelessly uneducated by modern standards. The only place where learning survived was in monastries.

Godfrid Swineherd - Godfrid Fyrdsman - Brother Godfrid

Godfrid Fyrdsman
Godfrid in the
Sumorsaete shield-wall

Godfrid ended up in the lands of the Sumorsaete, where he found work on the farm of the great Anir Thegn. Here he learnt why the Vikings had attacked, about the defeat of the Saxons at their hands and how King Alfred had fled to hide in the marshes. Those were harrowing days, when all men of Anir's farm had to learn spear-and-shield drill to defend the land against the Vikings who searched Wessex for the defeated King.
But King Alfred was not fully defeated. He sent out the call for the Fyrd, telling all men to gather under him and drive the Vikings out of the land. Anir Thegn decided he would march to Alfred's side with all the men of his farm, risking everything on the last gamble. And so Godfrid marched with Anir Thegn.
Alfred won his battle, and drove the Vikings back. Rewarded richly by the King, Anir Thegn retired, splitting his time between managing his farm and going on pilgrimages. However some of Anir's men, under Anir's war-leader Wulfstan, decided to keep fighting, to raid the Vikings and seek wealth & glory. Godfrid joined them.
During these years, Godfrid got many gifts. He wore two fine arm rings, one in reward for his knowledge of Christianity and one for fighting well alongside allies of the Sumorsaete. He was paid silver coins, and commissioned a fine cross from Alf Silversmith to wear to show his faith. He wore a leather jerkin gifted by Anir Thegn, and carried an axe that Anir Thegn had bought back from a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
This is the time-period represented in DAS.

King Alfred was a military genius. At one point, every kingdom of the Saxons had fallen and only Alfred's Wessex still stood. And then he lost a battle, his army was destroyed and he was forced to live in the swamps of the Somerset Levels. It looked as if all England had fallen under the Vikings. And yet in one year Alfred managed to entirely rebuild his army and force the Vikings out of Wessex and into a peace treaty. He then built up a network of fortified burghs defending the borders of Wessex, and waited for the next Viking attack. Whenever attacks came, Alfred's forces pushed back, expanding Wessex before forcing another restrictive peace treaty down the Viking throats.

Godfrid Swineherd - Godfrid Fyrdsman - Brother Godfrid

Brother Godfrid
Godfrid in his Benedictine monk's habit

However, whilst Godfrid did quite enjoy the life of a warrior and the company of the Sumorsaete, his heart was not in the killing. He craved a return to his old life, to a time of peace and pigs. He also struggled with his conscience, seeking to reconcile the Christian teachings of peace and love with a life of battle.
And so, eventually, he retired from Wulfstan's force and retreated to one of Alfred's new monastries. Here he spent his time translating and coping texts, and teaching others as he was taught. Later in his life, following his ordination, he spent time in the Danelaw acting as a missionary to Hauksby, converting the Vikings.
This is the time-period represented whilst Wychwood is in York.

Alfred's rebirth of England was as much about his intellectual as his martial achievements. Following the Carolingian Renaissance, Alfred sought to spread literacy and knowledge through Wessex. The monastries and priests were key in this. The conversion of the Vikings was another major project of Alfred's- he quite often made it a condition of peace treaties!


Godfrid in full priest's gear in the snow at York, leading "hymns". Warning: a bit silly...


Made by Hauk, DAS Secretary & Wychwood Old Git - Main page: www.haukr.co.uk - Email: haukragnarsson@googlemail.com