Brithnoth ordered his warriors to lose their horses and get ready for battle. Brithnoth, to show his men that he would not allow cowardice let his beloved hawk free and rode to the battlefield. ( This is a symbolism that means that he would fight to the death, and a similar scene is shown in the movie King Arthur ). Brithnoth rode up and down the rows of his brave soldiers and counselled them on how to stand, fire, and keep in their ranks. He told them how to hold their round shields fast to their forearms, and not to flinch in the face of the enemy. He spoke to them not as a commander, but with the care of a father looking after his children.
The Viking chieftain sent over a messenger to deliver an ultimatum to the Anglo - Saxons. In a stern and bold voice the messenger spoke the message : " They sent me to thee, those bold seaman, and bade me to say that thou must send swiftly Ring - Money for pledges. " He went on to tell the Anglo - Saxon earl it was better to pay the Vikings " tax" then to feel the spear - rush of their warriors. Brithnoth, however, was not intimitated by the Viking messenger and told him to go back to his lord and tell him that there would be grim war - play indeed before the Anglo - Saxons payed the Vikings tribute.
The battle was delayed by the tidal flow of the river, and as they waited on the shores they shot arrows back and forth at one another. Only one man was killed by the long range flight of an arrow. Then the tide went out, and the land bridge began to emerge. Brithnoth seeing this set up guards to watch over the land bridge. He chose one of his best warriors, a man named Wulfstan, and two hardy warriors called Aelfere, and Maccus to guard this emerging passage way.
The Vikings came across the ford and met the Anglo - Saxon guards on the other side. They fought against the three brave warriors, but could not make any headway. The Viking leader seeing this, then asked Brithnoth to allow them a foothold on the shore. The Earl decided to allow these loathed intruders over the land bridge, and so the Vikings with their shining shields quickly crossed the land bridge, and engaged the Anglo - Saxons on the other side.
Brithnoth commanded his men to form a shield wall, and to stand firm against the coming tide of Viking pirates. Spears were thrown, bows were readied, and arrows loosed. In the battle rush warriors fell, with many men falling on either side, their screams and cries radiated out over the entire battlefield. Even Brithnoth's kinsman, his sister's son, was cut down by a Viking sword. The Essex men fell but they stood fast against the Vikings as Brithnoth stirred his men on.
Then a Viking came at Brithnoth with his weapon held high, and a shield for protection. The Viking warrior sent a dart into the earl, but by shoving with his shield he was able to break off the shaft . Angered by this bold Viking, Earl Brithnoth aimed his spear at the Vikings neck, and with a steady hand ended the Vikings life. Brithnoth aimed his spear at another Viking warrior, and thrust its point through the breast plate, and into his heart. The Viking fell in a heap on the ground, surrounded by the dead and the dying.
From a distance a Viking arrow was aimed carefully, and let loose with great accuracy. The keen dart found its target in Brithnoth, and he was wounded once again. A child, not yet full grown, the son of Wulfstan, was standing by the side of his noble lord when he was struck. Carefully, and cooly, he removed the arrow from his commander, as the battle raged all around them. The wounded Earl had no time to consider his condition, as a Viking stood before him seeking glory, and the jewels and rings he wore. Brithnoth drew his sword, and thrusting his blade beneath the Vikings breast plate killed him. No sooner had this enemy fallen than one of the Viking raiders slashed the earl's arm so badly that he dropped his sword, and could no longer hold a weapon.
Brithnoth knew that his wounds were fatal, but as he stood on shaky legs he ordered his men to fight on, and thanked his God. Then the Vikings surrounded Brithnoth, and killed both Aelfroth, and Wulfman who stood on both sides of their earl to protect him. The heathens then struck out at Brithnoth, and he fell amongst his men.
End Part 1
Next : Part 2 : The Viking Victory
Go with Odin's wisdom, Freyja's love, and Thor's protection !