The Sagas are here.
Written by Kevin Murphy
Edited by Erik Nelson and Seth Blaustein
Introduction to the Sagas of Saesland:
What are presented here are excerpts from Sagas of a fictional people called the Saes. They are intended to give substance and depth to the people from the island nation of Saesland and enrich the experience of the film. Here you will find some tidbits of history as to the founding of the country and the naming of its people. The Sagas also reveal a bit of the development, character, and strength of Saes warriors and a brief glimpse into Saesland's political make up. Pay close attention, as there are many details of this symbolically rich film that can be better understood with a foundational knowledge about this culture...
Warning: The characters and events you are about to read within these stories, although including actual historical personages and based on some real historical settings and events, are themselves creations of fiction.
"These sort of men be those that do not lightly abandon the field but bide the brunt to the death"
It was the 11th of October when the bold William, Duke of Normandy landed in force at Stormhold Bay in the province of Saesmark on the island of Saesland; after receiving the blessings from Pope Alexander II supporting Williams' claim to the Saes throne and seeing finally the prospect of carrying the message of Christianity to a people that had thus far rejected the Edict of Rome: that all nations would be converted by word or by sword. The Saes had not accepted Christianity as promoted by Rome and had held strong to the ancient teachings of their Celtic and Norse forefathers as taught by our Druids. The Duke of Normandy had presumed after two hundred years of peace on the island, the Saes would not be capable of stopping him even if they were able to muster any defense against his army because of a lack of any real battlefield experience on the part of the Saes. He scoffed at the notion of a farmer's army that would be led by Harald and felt hat his battle hardened force of mercenaries and seasoned Norman troops would sweep away anything Harald would be able to bring to bear. He felt supremely confident that he would be adding another province to his growing kingdom. However even as he landed small teams of four to eight Saes Warriors from the Yr Brenin Arbennig Grym or The Kings Special Forces' immediately attacked his scouting parties, assailed his supply train, even outright ambushed the van of his army killing many men. They were the best of the warriors of Saesland fighting for their homes and families once more against an invader.
His spies had told him that the southern population of predominantly Christian "English", the Angles, Jutes and Saxons, would be more receptive and perhaps even see William as a liberator. His spies were wrong. Even though these peoples were descended from the previous Germanic invaders some two centuries before and had a language and religion separate from the main Saes population, which was predominantly a fusion of Britons and Norse peoples, these "English" lived peacefully with their Saes brethren and had prosperous lives in the Southern part of Saesland known as Saesmark and proved to be a valiant peoples loyal to the King of Saesland. They enjoyed equal protection under the King's Law which was known for its tolerance and acceptance for all peoples and faiths and had a very high standard of living compared to their continental counterparts. William found these peoples less than accommodating and in fact much of the area had been evacuated along with the expected precious supplies his army of some 10,000 men-at-arms would need to sustain any long-term operations against Harald. Instead he found a land barren of supplies and support and his advance was impeded and contested every step of the way by the Saes guerillas and he knew he would have to fight much sooner than expected and win decisively. This is exactly where William now found himself...on the fields before Hastings.
King Harald was most willing to give Duke William the battle he wanted. William's forces now gathered arrayed for battle at the bottom of a small rise facing a shield wall of some 6,000 Saes blocking the path of the Normans. What William could not see were the two groups of five hundred men one on the right the other on the left behind the main Seas force set to defend against any attack on the Saes flanks. Both armies were heavily armored wearing each a stout steel-plated conical helm and wearing chain mail or scale plate covering the men from their necks to their feet and each carried a large round shield made of yew or oak strapped with boiled leather stretched over the front with a large iron boss in the center. Each carried with them a long spear, a long sword and the weapon they would use to do their bloody work, and large single bitted axe. Unlike the Normans the Saes had neither cavalry nor archers so these men of the Isles would bear the brunt of the coming bloodletting on foot. Harald also had the time to pick his spot and he had done so in a way that immediately put Williams larger more experienced forces at a severe disadvantage: they would be fighting uphill.
October 14th 1066 CE at 9:00 in the morning the battle thus begun...
The skies darkened and a strong wind whipped up on the battlefield as a violent storm flashed over the field as if another battle was being fought by unseen powers. The struggle was between mighty forces each seeking to direct the course of future events both in the Multiverse by the gods and upon the Earth by the kings of men. Lightning shrieked across tormented storm clouds and flashed off the arms and armor of the hosts gathered for the fray and the rains fell incessantly as the tempest and the chaos of the melee would be unrestrained. The blood of men would flow and the foul stench of the macabre configurations of death that only battle can bring would fill the lungs of the living and feed the crows of Odin and the Morrigu upon the corpses of valiant men that would be taken by the beautiful Valkyries to the Hall of the Mighty.
William began the assault by sending a hail of arrows into the Saes ranks to loosen up the Saes defenses. This missile attack proved to be ineffective against the Saes shields and armor but William persisted until his archers ran out of arrows. After which the bowmen moved to the rear of the Norman army and readied themselves as light infantry. Harald's men cheered for their king and jeered Williams' first feeble attempt to attack them. The Saes taunted the Normans challenging them to attack outright and to fight as men.
William impatient and determined to prove his army's battle worth obliged and ordered his heavy infantry up the slight rise to engage the Saes. Against the storm rains, the howling wind and the shower of javelins and sling stones, the Normans charged mightily into the Saes shield wall. A deep thronged roar went up from the field as the hosts collided and was heard echoing off of the surrounding low hills as spears splintered and snapped; battle-axes and swords split arms and armor. Holding the center with their king leading the defense on foot the grim Saes defenders were shoving, hacking, tearing, biting, kicking, killing and dying in red and purple and black chaos. The Norman attack was relentless but the Saes lines held against their crushing assault.
William tried to send his cavalry around to flank the Saes position on the left of the Saes lines but were checked by stout defenses readied by the defending men on the flanks and were driven back down the slope. In the center, man-to-man and led by King Harald in the front of the melee, the Saes held firm and with stout blows began to push back the larger Norman force. William, seeing his center being pushed back into their own lines sent his light infantry force of his archers one thousand strong into the Saes right flank but were caught by Harald's five-hundred reserves that moved to defend the flank and were cut to pieces. The muddy, blood and gore soaked ground began to become slippery and the axes of the Saes ran red with the slaughter of the Normans. However backed by the sheer mass of numbers, the Norman center began to shove forward against the Saes line and William knew he had to take quick advantage to rally his men so he rode to the center of the lines and roared "To me!!! To me!!! Rally in the name of God and drive back the heathen!!!" In an age when the leaders of men lived as hard as those they ruled, William stood in the heat of battle finally facing his nemesis, Harald, King of the Saes and the warriors from both sides gave way to the two battle lords.
Harald grimly spoke to the Norman Duke, "You wanted battle, William, when you could have had peace. You claim your god is a god of peace yet you brought war to us and caused the slaughter of good men instead of a country of good men that you could have lived in peace. Now because of your impetuousness and hypocrisy all you will find here is your death."
In a battle rage, Harald threw down his battered shield and attacked the Norman warlord with his axe. William had barely time to defend himself so swift was the attack by the Saes king. Harald's first attack broke the Norman warlords shield in two. They struggled mightily in the fray each seeking an advantage over the other as they were well matched, these two kings of men. Against the rally of the Normans, the Saes lines held firm and again pressed forward, led by their king and striking with bandy blows they drove the Normans back down the slope stepping over the dead and the dying.
William struggled to stay Harald's attack. Once he slipped and fell, but the King of Saesland being an honorable man allowed William time to regain his feet so that is how he would kill the Norman battle lord-and that is so how it was done. Harald swung his axe and brought it down with such force that it split the haft of Williams own weapon driving him back and off balance and with a speed matched only by his strength, Harald's next blow smashed Williams helm and split the Normans skull to his teeth ending the reign of William, Duke of Normandy and ending the Battle of Hastings as the Normans, seeing their lord die, broke and ran...
After the battle was won, heralds were sent to the ends of the kingdom proclaiming Harald's victory over William and that once more the Isle of the Mighty had been defended by the courage and determination of her men as the threat from the Normans had been dealt with by Harald's swift and decisive leadership. In a gesture of great foresight and courage, Harald offered to the nobles and men-at-arms of the defeated Normans a home in Saesland, in the region around Hastings called Saesmark so that they also may enjoy the rights and freedoms known among the people of Harald's realm. Most did accept his offer and did make themselves their homes and lives, as they would become new citizens of Saesland.
Yet there was one more issue vexing the King: the island was not truly a united land. The Britons of the North had not yet submitted to the throne of Harald. In the coming months, emissaries from Harald's council and representatives from the Northern tribes sought to form a new land united under one king. The negotiations lasted for almost a year and when it was finally agreed upon the peoples of the North, in fact all the peoples of Saesland, were represented by vote sending to the king his ministers and thus the will of the people to the kings court so he would know what his people most needed so that he could rule most just and true. This was done by written agreement and is called Harald's Writ or also the Pact of Saesland.
Harald ruled long and prosperous even through stormy winters and tempestuous springs but none went hungry and none were afraid...