Friday, March 28, 2008

Edwin's banner, Edwin's family name

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According to Bede, Edwin was preceded by a standard bearer, carrying a 'tufa'. My assumption has always been that this was a Roman-style standard, or perhaps a staff. At some point I'll need to work out what that looked like. But another assumption I'm making is that he didn't assume such pretensions until the late 620s, after he'd remarried and brought Paulinus's Roman Christianity to Northumbria. What did he use before then? A banner with a typical Anglo-Saxon animal totem, such as a wolf, eagle, raven, horse, or boar? I don't recall any mention of such a thing.

Does anyone have any references they can point me to? Failing that, any guesses?

Also, while the family names of several A-S dynasties are known, for example the Wuffingas, did Edwin's Deiran royalty have a dynastic name? Again, I've never noticed in my reading, but I often don't notice things until I need to notice them. So I'd appreciate any help, including educated guesses. Wild, blue-sky guesses would also work :)

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  1. Did the pope's letter to Edwin refer to Constantine? Constantine of course had a rather famous Christian standard.

    For what its worth, the dynastic founders that we know of are almost all grandfathers of the first great king of the kingdom. The question then is which one is really the first great king. Edwin or his father Aelle,who is credited with a 30 year reign. If my little prediction works, then it was Aethelberht of Kent's father who married a French princess who was the first great king of Kent - not Aethelberht.

    The grandfather does make sense because it is his grandsons that make up the royal family of the first great king (his brothers and first cousins). It also follows because to succeed as king, you must be within three generations of a previous king.

  2. In Boniface V's letter to Edwin I couldn't find any reference to Constantine; nor in his letter to the queen.

    I'd forgotten, though, about Constantine's labarum, and how very clever it was, being on the one hand a Christian symbol and on the other interpretable (by a long and tenuous chain of reasoning--just the kind of thing someone like Edwin would employ, I think) as a Platonic symbol.

    In fact, the more I think about it, the more similarities I see between Edwin and Constantine; ambitious but kind of sneaky.

    So if (I'm guessing) Constantine used something like the sol invictus before he had his vision (after which he used the labarum), maybe Edwin also used something similarly grandiose. But a sun, in A-S mythology, is female (I think). Hmmn. Much pondering.

    So right now I have to just pick something as a place-holder. I'm leaning towards a boar, because I've seen it on so many helmets (and other thing). I think it has origins in both A-S and British mythology, which would be great for Deira. However, if I thought I could get away with a ferret I'd use that, but as I understand it no self-respecting warrior king would use such a thing.

    So you think something like Aellingas (I haven't the remotest idea how the spelling would work for this kind of thing) would be reasonable as a family name?


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