A Viking Saga: The Darkest Day (2013)





Director:     Chris Crow.

Starring:     Gareth John Bale (Apostle), Ian Dicks (Saxon Warrior), Richard Elfyn (Older Hereward), Lindsey Fickling (Saxon Warrior), Paul Gamble (Saxon Warrior), Huw Garmon (Atelic), Christopher Godwin (Athelstan), Gareth Groombridge (Saxon Warrior), Ioan Hefin (Ambushing Bowman), Aled Humphreys (Naked Monk), Rob Jackson (Saxon Warrior), Richard James (Apostle), Michael Jibson (Hamal), Paul Jibson (Yngvarr), Mark Lewis Jones (Aethelwulf).

fictional story of Hereward the Wake of England trying to stop the Saxons from getting a copy of the Christian Bible; the real Hereward the Wake fought the Norman invasion of England



Supposedly, this film is set in England in 733 AD.  But the Viking invasions of Britain took place between 793 and 900 in England.  It talks about Hereward and his chasing the Vikings out of England.  But Hereward the Wake fought against the Norman Invasion of England after 1066. So I'm betting that the writer(s) took the Hereward legend and placed it in the year 733.  They gave the young Hereward the mission of taking one of those fancy illustrated issues of the Bible of the Medieval Ages from an abbey in danger of falling to the Vikings and take it to another abbey that is not threatened.  Hereward goes on a long, dangerous journey and he does indeed run into a lot of unpleasant encounters along the way.  He gets help from a man belonging to a group of men committed to saving the copies of the Bible in the area.  Much of the journey is too slow and plodding, but then it does have it bloody scenes of violence as they are forced to face the Vikings.  At least at the start of the Viking age, the Vikings were pagans and didn't care about the Bible.  Somehow the Viking leader gets into his big, fat head that the book is one of great force and power to help bring wealth and success to its holders. 

The credits don't mention Viking warriors but rather "Saxon warriors".  So maybe the team behind the film wanted to jazz up the movie by saying Vikings rather than Saxons.  And if they are Saxons and not Vikings, then they should have already been used to Christianity.  Christianization of the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms began in 597 AD and the story is set in 733 AD.

Wikipedia says:  "The realms of Scandinavia proper, Denmark, Norway and Sweden, established their own Archdioceses, responsible directly to the Pope, in 1104, 1154 and 1164, respectively." 

The actual film is kind of slow to watch, as well as being historically puzzling.  But it's not a bad movie.  A good theme in the film deals with how the clergy in Britain and Ireland helped save the religious and scholastic books against alien invaders. 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D. 


Historical Background:


The hero of the movie is Hereward, but the famous Hereward the Wake in English history did not fight the Vikings.  He fought against the Normans from France.  He was the leader of local resistance to the Norman conquest of England.  Check out the first part of Hereward's story below. 

The sources of information on Hereward are very iffy: 

Here's one version of his life:

c. 1035  --  birth of Hereward.  He may have been Anglo-Danish with a Danish father, Asketil.  His place of birth is supposed to be in or near Bourne in Lincolnshire. [Lincolnshire is a historic county in the east of England bordering:  Norfolk to the south east, Cambridgeshire to the south, Rutland to the south west, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to the west, South Yorkshire to the northwest, and the East Riding of Yorkshire to the north.]

Hereward had also held lands as a tenant of Croyland Abbey at Crowland.  [Crowland Abbey (aka Croyland Abbey) is a Church of England parish church, formerly part of a Benedictine abbey church, in Crowland, county of Lincolnshire, England..]

1054  --  he may have been first exiled in his 18th year for disobedience to his father and disruptive behavior, which caused problems among the local community. He was declared an outlaw by Edward the Confessor, last king of the House of Wessex, ruling from 1042 to 1066. 

1063  -- he may have fought in the neighborhood of Flanders beginning this year.

1066  --  at the time of the Norman invasion of England, he was still in exile in Europe, working as a successful mercenary for the Count of Flanders, Baldwin V.   Hereward is said to have married Turfida, a Gallo-Germanic woman from a wealthy family in Saint-Omer.

late 1069 or 1070  --  Hereward returned to England.  Hereward took revenge on the Normans who killed his brother while they were ridiculing the English at a drunken feast. He allegedly killed fifteen of them with the assistance of one helper.  He went back to Flanders until things cooled down and then he came back to England. 


So the hero is not the heroic Hereward who fought the Normans.  So let's just assume that Hereward in the film is fictitious, but based on the very modified legend of Hereward the Wake. 

Here's some information about the Croyland Abbey. 

699-714  --  sometime between these years a monk named Guthlac came to what was then an island in the Fens to live the life of a hermit and dwelt at Croyland.

8th century  --  a monastic community came into being here.  Croyland Abbey was dedicated to Saint Mary the Virgin, Saint Bartholomew and Saint Guthlac.

during the third quarter of the 10th century  --  Crowland came into the possession of the nobleman Turketul, a relative of Osketel, Archbishop of York. Turketul, a cleric, became abbot there and endowed the abbey with many estates. It is thought that, about this time, Crowland adopted the Benedictine rule.

11th century  --  Hereward the Wake was a tenant of the abbey.




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