The Jilted Maid of Britain

the-jilted-maid

The Jilted Maid of Britain

Once upon a time, in the middle of the sixth century and somewhere along the Baltic coast, there lived a king from the Varini tribe with his son called Radigis. Radigis was betrothed to the sister of an Anglian King (quite possibly East Anglian Ruler, Wehha or Wuffa) who lived across the sea. In those days betrothed meant committed to wedlock. Not “we are engaged and let’s see if this will work”. No, betrothed meant keep your calendar open and get out your dancing shoes

However, for some obscure reason, this lass remains anonymous throughout the entire tale and is only known as “the Island Girl”

The story (as documented by Byzantine Historian, Procopius in his History of Justinian’s Wars) continues that Radigis’ dad, King Hermegisclus, while out hunting hears a bird singing and his death is foretold in the birds song to be in 40 days and 40 nights. And as all “foretelling” goes, this came to pass on the fortieth day and on the old kings deathbed he instructs his son to forego his marriage commitment to the Island Girl and instead marry his stepmother, Theudechild (who was sister to the Merovingian King, Theudebert). The dowry which had been paid to the Anglian king for the Island Girl could be kept to make up for “any embarrassment” caused

The idea for the marriage between Radigis and his step-mother was that is would strengthen the relationship between the Varini tribe and the Frankish Confederation and sort of keep law and order long enough for everybody to sit down and have a nice cup of tea

Well… these two boys clearly underestimated the concept of “hell hath no fury as a woman scorned” because when the abandoned Anglian princess heard that the wedding was called off without Radigis being able to allege any crime on her behalf and unable to bear the scandal that these barbarians placed upon her virtue and modesty, she promptly gathered up 10,000 East Anglian men and 400 ships and set sail for the Rhineland

It’s not clear how long she took to rally up the troops but for her to do so, she was clearly a woman of influence and affluence. Furthermore, the fleet had to be mighty and steadfast to carry these 10,000 troops including a couple of drunken sailors across the English Channel during the stormy winter weather, so this was also a major naval accomplishment for the Anglo-Saxons

The Island girl set sail immediately but somehow word reached Radigis (probably by the same bird who foretold of his father death) and he fled deep into the forest to avoid the hell fire and damnation that would rain down upon him if she caught him, leaving the villagers to fend for themselves. Anyway, after lots of pillaging and slaughtering of the innocents and the setting on fire to many villages and fields, Radigis was eventually captured and brought to the Island Girl. Upon his knees and begging for his life, he immediately declared undying love for her, and blaming his dead father and the ill advice from his councilmen for his foolish mistake, etcetera, etcetera. And then all of a sudden this amazing tale becomes an “are you kidding me?” moment. This fierce woman, (who was clearly dressed and emotionally charged for battle), instead of chopping off his head and drinking his blood, which is what would be expected and even commended upon, she calmly states that in order for him to live, all this weasel of a man has to do is leave his new wife and marry her as promised and all would be forgiven. This he promptly does

No further mention is made again of the first wife except to say that she was promptly divorced and dispatched back home across the river to her brother. But one would imagine that this woman, along with her kinfolk, would plot and plan her revenge in turn because this definitely another case of a woman scorned. This would also explain the invasion and total annihilation in 595 AD of the Varini people by the Franks to the point where the Varini are never mentioned again in history

There is also no further mention of the Island Girl and the Varini King Radigis again either so nobody knows whether they lived happily ever after but old Radigis probably spent the rest of his life sleeping with one eye open

Either this story is merely a parable written by the Historian warning foolish men not to break their oaths to their betrothed, or perhaps some Roman propaganda or the ending of a historic event rewritten in a kinder light merely because in those days it certainly would not do to show any Anglian woman as a mighty warrior and killers of kings

It’s highly doubtful that Procopius would have spun a yarn. Not only was he one of the major historical contributors of the world and a prolific writer who published a total of seven books, (link below for online versions) but he was also a barrister. He was also pretty consistent regarding the historical documentation of the Military Commander, Belisarius, who at that stage was going around Europe, kicking butts and taking names so this leads me to believe that maybe the story is true

[ On a side note: Procopius even minutely chronicled the exploits of Emperor Justinian and his wife, Empress Theodora, who he details as “vulgar, with an insatiable lust combined with shrewish and calculating mean-spiritedness”, and in his Secret History (which was not published with the original six history books) he makes rather graphic mention of the Empress Theodora’s shenanigans and blatant disregard of modesty rules of the time by appearing naked on stage barring a tiny ribbon covering her privates. Her show, which bordered on the pornographic, comprised of her sashaying around the stage before laying down in various seductive poses while slaves poured shredded wheat onto her reclining body and having a gaggle of geese eat it off. Now that is clearly some sort of fetish because I have been sharply nipped at by grumpy geese as a kid and I can unequivocally tell you that there is nothing pleasant about those ridged beaks. Clearly this scene portrayed by Theodora is the earliest documented case of Avisodomy

I am trying to imagine the scene and could a naked woman, being pecked and hooted at by hungry geese ever be considered erotic? ]

 

http://onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu/webbin/book/lookupname?key=Procopius

 

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