Whether or not he specifically thought of himself as rewriting the Old English poem The Battle of Maldon when writing Gandalf's stand against the Balrog (see Bruce and Bowman), his non-fictional writing clearly indicates his belief that Byrhtnoth
makes the wrong decision, and he just as clearly believed that Gandalf makes the right decision under similar circumstances.
Led by their ealdorman, Byrhtnoth
, they faced up to a larger Viking force at the River Blackwater.
13) Similarly, in The Battle of Maldon, the flight of three retainers is represented not as a consequence of imminent defeat, but as the cause of the defeat itself: one retainer uses the horse of Byrhtnoth
, the army's leader, and many more men then flee under the assumption that their leader is retreating.
No nos consta que los guerreros de Byrhtnoth
tuvieran fustas a mano, y el poema anglosajon no indica el lugar adonde debian ser enviados los caballos .
The sense corresponding to 'very' is also evident in the quotation from Byrhtnoth
, a text written before the year 1000:
If this last feature is excluded on the grounds that, as Scragg acknowledges, it is a widespread confusion in late Old English, then only <heorra> is not to be found in these speeches, whilst five out of the other six cluster in the thirty five and a half lines of speech delivered by Byrhtnoth
and Leofsunu, which is slightly more than one tenth of the text.
It occurs within the speech shouted by the Viking messenger across the River Pante (now the Blackwater) to Byrhtnoth
and the English army, and reads as follows in the eighteenth-century transcript that comprises the only surviving record of the text:(1)
But, just as Byrhtnoth
predicted, the booty was not "easily, softly" captured.
When the Vikings cannot advance because of their poor position, the English commander Earl Byrhtnoth
recklessly allows them safe conduct across the stream, and the battle follows.
7) The Anglo-Saxons lose their leader Byrhtnoth
and, in response to his death, we have a catalogue of English warriors who one by one boast that they will avenge their lord--and one by one enter the battle, and one by one do some heroic deed before being cut down.
I also posit that this ambiguity resonates throughout the poem and specifically in the presentation of Byrhtnoth
as he prepares for and engages in battle, that there are essentially two contradictory visions of the hero in the poem that the poet attempts to reconcile.
The flight of the three sons of Odda in lines 185-94 of The Battle of Maldon, a major turning-point in the conflict between the English and Danish armies as presented in the poem, is taken by most critics to be the result of panic following the death of the English leader, Byrhtnoth