Anglo-Saxon Legend: Beowulf

We know not who wrote the epic 3,182 line Anglo-Saxon poem; Beowulf, written in Old English.

The Beowulf story is set within a warrior society, a blood-curdling tale of gore and brutality, about a hero governed by duty, honour and bravery.  It tells the story of Beowulf, a young warrior and his victories.

Grendel, the semi-human monster, repeatedly attacks the Great Hall of Herat, by dragging away his prey, one victim after another.

Beowulf is summoned to the court of the Danish King; Hrothgar.  Whose castle has been under siege these past twelve years.  His knights are being constantly slaughtered night after night, by the monster; Grendel.

Beowulf and Grendel come face to face in battle.  Beowulf, rips Grendel’s arm from its socket, and Grendel hobbles back to his lair where he bleeds to death.

Grendel’s mother seeks revenge the following night, from the likes of Beowulf.  A great under water fight takes place between Beowulf and the monstrous matriarch, with Beowulf emerging as the victor.

Beowulf returns home to Sweden a hero of his people.  He rules for many years, and his people believe he is a wise ruler.  According to legend, a dragon guarded the city’s treasure, and all was quiet for some 300 years, then things changed the dragon is disturbed and he goes on the rampage; burning Beowulf’s hall to cinders.

Beowulf summons up all his courage, and makes a pledge to his people, that he and his follower’s will kill the dragon.  Beowulf’s follower’s gazed upon their leader and the dragon, and fear seeped through their bodies, as they fled in fear.

Wiglaf a young kinsman stands by Beowulf, prepared to fight side by side in battle.  As Beowulf prepares to vanquish the dragon, his sword shatters and the creature inflicts a deadly poison venom upon him.  Wiglaf and Beowulf kill the beast as the venom seeps through Beowulf’s body, as life is slowly taken from him.

Wiglaf proved himself in battle, and loyal to his King, earning the trust of Beowulf, who passes his throne to him… a worthy successor and King.

The poem concludes with a gloomy prediction which talks about catastrophes which will strike down Beowulf’s people, now their hero had died.

Beowulf’s people lament, that he had been a gracious and fair minded King, with kindness of heart.

High Seas Pirates: Calico Jack – Anne Bonny Mary Read…

Anne Cormac was born around 1700 in Kinsdale, County Cork, Ireland to parents William Cormac a lawyer and Mary Brennan his servant.  They moved to North America, where her father had a shaky start to his new life, until he joined a merchant business and made his fortune.

Aged 13, Anne stabbed a servant girl with a table knife, displaying her fiery temper.  Later she married James Bonny a small-time pirate, and was disowned by her father.  Around 1714, she moved to New Providence Island, better known as “Pirates Republic.”

In 1718 James Bonny became informer to the Governor; Woodes Rogers.

Mary Read was born in Plymouth around 1690, and when her father a sailor went to sea and never returned, her life would change.  Mary was dressed in boy’s clothes by her mother to receive financial aid, and found dressed as a male had its advantages.

She later married a soldier, and they owned the “Three Horseshoes” in Breda, Holland, sadly he died and the money ran out.

She dressed again as a man, going to sea on a Dutch merchant ship bound for the Caribbean’s.  Bored of her legitimate life, she joined “Calico Jack” after he had taken over their ship and turned pirate.

Anne Bonny and Mary Read became close friends, discovering each other’s cross dressing secret.

Bonny became the lover of pirate; “Calico Jack” captain of the Revenge.  Bonny divorced her husband James and married Calico Jack at sea, and had his child in Cuba.

Bonny, Calico Jack and Mary Read took the Revenge and recruited a new crew, spending much time in the area’s surrounding Jamaica.  They were fear by many ships…

In October of 1720 they came under attack by a “King’s Ship” commanded by Jonathan Barnet commissioned by the Governor of Jamaica.  They were overwhelmed, captured, convicted and sentenced to be hanged as pirates.

After the sentence had been passed, both Anne Bonny and Mary Read, pleaded their cause to the court, asking for mercy, as they were both with child.  In accordance with English common law, both women were given a stay of execution until they gave birth.  Mary Read died in prison from a fever prior to childbirth.  As for Bonny; no records indicate her release or execution.

Some accounts suggest her father paid for her release, and after the child was born, she settled down for a quiet life on a Caribbean Island.

On the other hand, her father paid for her release, according to historical records.  She gave birth to Jack Rackham’s (Calico Jack’s) child in 1721, married one Joseph Burleigh and gave birth to a further eight children and died on the 25th April 1782 in South Carolina.

Another account suggests her father paid for her release and she lived out her life as a tavern owner in the South of England, telling tales to the locals of her exploits…

What is fact?  What is Legend?

Legend: Linton Worm

During the twelfth century a legend existed of a worm which lived in a hollow on the Northeast side of Linton Hill. From its lair it roamed the countryside, devouring livestock and laying waste to the land. The landscape around the area became desolate and derelict, avoided by the local population, who were in fear of the worm.

One Sommerville of Lariston, came to the village of Jedburgh where many of the country folk had fled, and heard many conflicting tales about the dragon. Some said the dragon was sprouting wings, and others said that the dragon had fiery venomous breath that could kill from afar.

He decided to go and see for himself, searching out the worm’s lair, and waited, for his prey.  It was not long before he caught the scent, and the worm exited his lair, and stood gazing at him with its mouth hanging open, but did not attack. He watched the habits and movements of the dragon.

Sommerville went to the local blacksmith and had a long lance forged, a small iron wheel stood a foot from the point of the lance, and the barest touch would cause the point to drop.

On the point of the lance he placed a burning peat turf, dowsed in pitch and brimstone. With this he practised riding in joust position, until his horse had become used to the acrid smoke blowing in its face. He then told the villagers he intended to slay their dragon, but they laughed in his face.

The next day at sunrise he went with a servant to the worm’s lair. He sat on his horse in readiness, and when the beast lumbered forward from out of its cave the servant set fire to the peat. Sommerville spurred his horse forward and in one swift movement shoved the burning peat into the worm’s gaping mouth. Thus was delivered a fatal blow to the Dragon of Linton. Sommerville was knighted and made a royal Falconer, he became the first Barron of Lintoune.