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Putting Your Best Foot Forward

This week my favorite TV show, History Channel's Vikings, will introduce season 3. I'm a fervent fan, but my Viking fascination began back in the early 1990s. Over time, I cultivated an off-beat home library --- including a cookbook on Viking Age meals written by two Swedish history professors.

Vikings Lagertha played by Kathryn Winnick. Photo credit History Channel

The first romance I ever wrote was based on a little known event in Sweden (AD 1022) ---the end of the Viking Age. The more I dug into Viking history and culture, the more amazed I became.

But, would you think of Vikings and a sense of humor?

Let me share this true Viking tale and see what you find. I call it:

Putting Your Best Forward

Early in the tenth century, famed Viking Rollo and his warriors, camped out on the Seine. Like foxes they came to raid the chicken coop once again. The plan was to take their fill of silver and gold and leave...not unusual for this group of Northmen. After enduring many such attacks, Charles the Simple, King of the Franks, got an idea:
Why not ask the raiders to be his neighbors? 
Charles needed a defensive buffer between Paris and sea invaders of all stripes. The land west of Paris made a beautiful buffer with rich, tempting farmland. People lived there, but there was no order. No ruler. Adding to the king's troubles, southern pagans of Brittany encroached, vying for more land.
And Charles had another motive. He wanted those Vikings so busy protecting and working their new homeland that they wouldn't have time to raid his. The offer was made, and Rollo accepted.
But, the king had contingencies.
To seal the deal, Charles offered his daughter in marriage to Rollo. Such marital unions were standard fare (and are a mainstay for historical romance). Charles also required the Viking to convert to Christianity and change his name to Robert. Rollo agreed. 
Maybe land is better than gold and silver? This question would be tested.
While celebrating the alliance, some disgruntled bishops added a new demand: Rollo had to kiss the king's foot.
They wanted a clear sign of submission. Payback. Those bishops wanted to humiliate Rollo and his Vikings, and they had the power to do it.
No kiss to the foot, no land. How was the proud Rollo going to work this? 
Ever adaptable, he conferred with his men and came up with a plan. One of his men went forward, but even
lower Viking fighters have their pride.
The unnamed warrior approached the seated Charles. The hall was silent. The Viking refused to bend. 
After a tense stare-down, Charles met his former enemy half-way. The kingly foot rose part way to meet the Viking. The warrior grabbed the foot, brought it high to his mouth, and Charles fell on his royal rear.
The hall erupted with laughter. The Franks quit messing with the Vikings, and Rollo took control of his vast domain AD 911, the land we call Normandy.
Under Rollo's rule, the region prospered. 
Vikings intermarried. They took on the language of the region (mixed with their own). Rollo turned Rouen into his city center, a place known for textile trade. His presence made the oft-attacked area peaceful. 
From raiders to businessmen and landowners, Vikings settled into their new home. Rollo (baptised Robert) ran a prosperous marketplace. And the irony? Normandy even boasted a coin mint. 
Maybe the fox can take charge of the chicken coop? 

Now you know I love History Channel's Vikings. What's your favorite TV show?

I'm Gina Conkle, writer of Viking and Georgian romance with a softly sensual side.

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(other photo credits: iStock except for the author photo)

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  1. Very cool info! I don't know much about Vikings. I don't really have time to watch TV, but one day maybe I can get the DVDs of all the great shows I'm missing.

  2. Thanks Shana. I hear you on the limited TV time. My DVD collection is an eclectic mix of 'Downton Abbey' and 'Vikings.'

  3. Maybe I'll try Vikings. I can add it to my Downton Abbey, Walking Dead, and Girls collection. I think they will fit right in? :)

  4. It's one of my favorite shows along with The Musketeers and Hell on Wheels! and Castle!

  5. Brilliant story, Gina!

    I'm still trying to catch up on the Viking show, I have the first two season on DVD. All my current TV time is taken up by Downton Abbey and Grantchester, with a little bit of Nashville thrown in.


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