Here I sit on a grassy knoll, watching the Eider River flow into the North Sea. I am here, according to my duty, to pledge allegiance to my cousin, King Offa the Silent, leader of the Angles, and the unofficial overlord of the Jutes. Every two years, during the week that holds the longest day of the year, I must render homage to my cousin.
It is not a hard duty, this pledging of allegiance. The Jutes are cousins of the Angles, just as the Angles are cousins of the Saxons. Our peoples came out of the North, tens of generations ago. We drove the older inhabitants, the Celts, westward to where the Franks have recently settled, and further on to Britain. My grandfather, Wehta, was the younger son of Wihtlaeg. Wihtlaeg gave the rulership to Wehta after a civil war made the Jutes weaker and more amenable to Angle rule. I am pledging allegiance to a kinsman.
Now the wind is carrying the muddy, salty smell of the river's mouth up to me. Like a woman, this junction of waters and land has many smells, not all of them delicate, but like one's own mother, it smells good to me. A Jute is a creature of both land and sea, we cannot help it. Our land is a peninsula; one can ride a horse in the morning with the Great Ocean at one's back, and before the next breakfast reach the inland sea. But the earth is fertile, and the oceans give forth their bounty. Life is good for us Jutes.
But I wonder how long things will stay good. I feel that things are going to change. If we are not careful, perhaps not for the better.
I heard this morning that the Great City, Rome, was sacked sometime last year by our distant relatives, the Visigoths. Rome, that fought against our race for centuries has eventually succumbed to our kinsmen. Rome is now a defenseless giant carcass that us Germanic wolves can pick over. The Franks are moving into Gaul. We have raided for years in Britain. Oh what a glorious feast we can have upon a dead Rome! New lands to conquer, opportunities for rapine, pillage, and booty galore!
Sooner or later though, wolves fight among themselves when there is not enough to eat after the winter kill is devoured. Someday there will not be a Roman carcass for all us Germans to devour. Therefore my people had better grow strong quickly, so that when hard times come again we will have the strength to crowd the other tribes out. The question is how to go about doing such a thing.
I am king because of my bloodline as a descendent of Woden. I remain king as long as I have the support of my Angle cousins and enjoy the support of my people. But even if I am in the right, my nobles will rebel if sufficiently provoked. They might face the wrath of Cousin King Offa since no free Jute is a slave of any man. This attitude makes being King of the Jutes both glorious and exasperating. I am far less a king than first among unequals. A hereditary chieftain over boisterous clansmen.
In order to rule during time of war, as well as peace, I will have to take command of the warbands, and lead raids personally. I will have to breed strong sons and train them to rule well. A king functions best during a time of peace, but an era of opportunity and of struggle lies ahead. I hope that Father Woden approves and gives me the strength to prevail in the future.
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