The Anglo Saxon’s, King Edward I, and the History of Medieval Warfare, Weaponry, and Strategy in England
Anthony Ambrosius Aurelius
“Weaponry technologies have long defined what it meant to be part of a tribe or clan with the Angul’s taking their name from the term “angle” which means “barb” or “hook” in the Angul language and the Saxon’s taking their name from the term “seax” (pronounced “say-ax”) which means “side arm knife” in the Saxon language.
In 878 A.D., the future of Anglo-Saxon England hung in the balance, with 3 of its 4 kingdoms including Northumbria, Mercia, and East Anglia but not Wessex under the control of Viking invaders. The ruler of Wessex, King Alfred, had been rooted from his winter fortress and decided to take refuge in the Somerset marshlands. By Easter of this same year, Alfred’s call to war had been answered by 5000 soldiers from the Fyrd, (pronounced “fee-errd”) a militia comprised of commoners across Wessex.
With this new backing, Alfred traveled to Ethandun in Wiltshire to face the encroaching enemy. Once drawn into battle, the group engaged with the Vikings hurling volleys of light spears, sometimes throwing two at once, followed by throwing Franciscas (pronounced “fran-sis-kahs”) which are mid-sized throwing axes, and finally engaging with the most formidable weapon, the Dane axe.
The Anglo-Saxon’s had their seax but their most important offense was a strong defense which is why the shield was prioritized as the most important tool of war. These shields were highly advanced for their day with a large metal piece in the middle referred to as the “boss”. This
allowed the shield to be used as a weapon on its own. Shields were created using two layers of linden wood which made them light to carry and less prone to splitting when hit.
The battle of Ethandun lasted a single day with Alfred’s Thegns, (pronounced “th-ains”) his most valuable and well equipped soldiers, who were always physically close to him, withstanding repeated Viking surge raids.”