I don't think Phyllis would mind the reader seeing the following e-mail Ms. Doyle wrote me so here it is: I know I'm a good writer and when I read the article I get chills all over- for, these are my ancestors ( and yours also) in the article and like it says in my last sentence of the story.
"Descendants of the Norsemen and the Danes are fiercely proud of their ancestors."
Thank you Phyllis for your great second story and by the way, Alastar means "defender of men" in old Norse, and you bet people should be proud of their heritage, whatever it is, thank you for that Phyllis. .
Phyllis's excellent blog with well over a hundred stories can accessed here: phyllisdoyle @ HubPages
For similar articles on Once Upon a History see Phyllis's first installment in her series: Viking Age- Important Element of Medieval History- Scandinavia and Europe; and Alastar's Visiting Historical Odense and Ribe, Denmark: Land of Vikings and Friends
One day in the history of Ireland-
In the early morning of April 23, 1014, Good Friday, the Battle of Clontarf began. This one battle would determine the outcome of Viking power in Ireland. The battle lasted just one day, but this one day in the history of Ireland is still remembered as the greatest of wars in Ireland's early history. The Vikings, led by Mael Morda and Sigtrygg Silkbeard, came in from Dublin on their boats and with their backs to the sea made a stand against the Irish of the north, led by Brian Boru and Murchad mac Brian.
From 793 to April of 1014, the Vikings were a formidable force in Ireland -- this time period was called The Viking Age. They came to the island to find places to settle and to do so, they had battles ahead of them and places to conquer. They plaqued the coasts of Ireland and began settling, making their own place in a foreign land. To the Irish, they wereseen as bloodthirsty raiders, barbaric, and heathen savages, an enemy of Ireland.
Vikings from Norway in Ireland-
The first Vikings who entered Ireland were Scandinavian, Norsemen. They came in at County Antrim in Northern Ireland. Their first raid was carried out at Rathlin in 790 -- they raided Rathlin again in 973. Their third attack on Rathlin is when they annihilated the Rathlin Monastery. They gradually settled among the locals in northern towns. They did not venture far from the coast for several years. In 811 a Viking raiding party entered Ulster in Northern Ireland. They were defeated, all killed by the Ulaidh of Ulster. This did not stop the Vikings.
Their raids began again in 821 and intensified over the following decades. Establishing longports (fortified Viking ship enclosures) they built up their shore fortresses as bases to return to after battles. By fortification of settlements on both sides of a river, the Vikings had a strong defense, shelter and easy access to the sea. This was also advantageous for trade and economic prosperity for the Vikings. Archeological evidence shows that these ports became major trading centers. During the ninth and tenth centuries, these highly profitable ports established a strong presence of Vikings in Ireland.
After their first winter in Ireland, 840 - 841, the Vikings established some permanent settlements. By the late 800s, they had gradually moved south and settled in a few ports of the counties of Dublin, Waterford, Wexford, Cork, and Limerick. These Norse Viking settlements were the first large towns in Ireland and today are still the largest urban centers.
For the Vikings, living in these towns was advantageous to them, for the Kings of these areas were in constant squabble with each other and their northern neighbors in Ireland, particularly Brian Boru, who had become High King of Ireland in 941.
The squabbles and skirmishes stemmed from all the Kings who were anxious to control the Viking ports. The Vikings were not only very great warriors, highly effective in battles, their trading contacts overseas had built a desirable network of trade and revenue, which the kings wanted to further their own politcal powers.
Brian Boru also had plans and aims to secure the powers and influences of the Vikings for his own political career.
Vikings from Denmark in Ireland ~
The Danes, Vikings from Denmark (a North Germanic tribe), began arriving in Ireland during the years 849 - 852. Previously, around AD 800, the Danes were raiding in Ireland and Great Britain. These were the Vikings that the Irish referred to as the "dark foreigners" or "dark-haired strangers". In 853 Danish settlers began arriving and adopted Christianity as they settled and mixed with the local population.
Denmark, England, and Norway was a single realm under the kingship of Canute the Great. Canute ruled this realm for almost 20 years, till his death in 1035. When King Canute died, England
disengaged from the Danish control, which left Denmark disorganized and much less powerful. During this time, the Norse Vikings continued to raid Denmark until Sweyn Estridson, Canute's nephew, reorganized and renewed strong relations with the Archbishop of Bremen, who was the Archbishop of all of Scandinavia. The Danes once again became a powerful force and embraced Christianity.
With the spread of Christianity, the Norsemen continued seeking new lands to settle and were gaining power in Ireland, establishing formidable influence and fortified settlements.
Brian Boru of Munster, High King of Ireland ~
The High Kingship of Ireland, under the control of the Ui Neill (Irish and Scottish dynasties), had been the dominant kingship until Brian put an end to it. King Mael Sechnaill mac Domnaill of Ui Neill, abandoned by his kinsmen, acknowledged Brian as High King in 1002. For the next ten years, Brian waged campaigns agains Leinster's strong resistance, and against the Norse Kingdom of Dublin.
In 1013, Brian's kingship and authority was seriously threatened when his ally Mael Sechnaill was attacked by King Flaithbertach Ua Neill and the Ulstermen. Mael Sechnaill suffered more attacks by the Dubliners and their king, Sigtrygg Silkbeard and the Leinstermen led by Mael Morda mac Murchada.
Now, there were also some underlying tensions between these men that fought Brian. It gets rather hairy here. You see, Brian's wife, Gormlaith, was Mael Morda's sister and Sigtrygg Silkbeard's mother. She had previously been married to Amlaib Cuaran, king of Dublin and York, then married to Mael Sechnaill. And Sigtrygg was married to Brian's daughter, Slaine.
Battle of Clontarf ~
So, now we have these factions coming together on Good Friday of April 23, 1014, when Brian's armies along with Denmark Vikings and other allies, and the Leinster and Dublin armies with (Norse) Vikings of Orkney and Mann meet at Clontarf.
The Norse Vikings were led by Sigurd of Orkney and Brodir of Mann. Leaders of this entire force was Sigtrygg Silkbeard and Mael Morda. However, Sigtrygg stayed in Dublin watching the battle from the walls. He remained behind to protect Dublin in case of attack from some of Brian's forces.
The belligerents met in Clontarf. The Norsemen came in from Orkney and Mann at high tide and had their backs to the sea. The Norsemen, led by Brodir and Sigurd made up the front line of defense, Dublin men commanded by Dubgall mac Amlaib and Gilla Ciarain mac Glun lairn backed up the Norsemen and behind them were the Leinstermen, led by Mael Morda.
Brian's front line defense were the Dal gCais tribe led by Murchad, Brian's son, and Toirdelbach, Murchad's son who was only 15. Brian's brother, Cudulligh and Domnll mac Diarmata of Corcu Baiscind were also in the front. Next were the Munster forces led by the king of Deisi Muman, Mothia mac Domnaill mic Faelain the king of Ui Liathain, Magnus mac Amchada. The Connachta led by Mael Ruanaidh Ua hEidhin and Tadhg Ua Cellaigh, were behind the second rank. On the right flank were Brian's Viking allies, the Danes. The left flank was Fergal ua Ruairc, the Ui Briuin and the Conmhaicne. The last rank was Mael Sechnaill and the men of Meath. Brian Boru, being too old to fight (he was 70 some sources say) stayed in the far rear near the wood in a tent with just a few soldiers to guard him.
Now, all is ready and we expect a loud clash of shields and swords, warrior yells and berserkers gone mad -- yet, apparently this did not start right away, for Plait, known as one of the bravest Vikings, began taunting and challenging one of Brian's Scottish allies. The Scotsman came forth and the two men met in the field and fought. As the two sides watched with great interest, Plait and the Scotsman killed each other, as is noted in the Cogadh Gaedhel Re Gallaibh (annals) "with the sword of each through the heart of the other, and the hair of each in the clenched hand of the other."
Then the all out battle ensued, which was according to the Cogad, "remarkably loud and bloody".
The Connacht men fought with the men of Dublin in a fierce battle that left only 100 Connacht and 20 Dublinmen. The last casualties of this battle happened at Dubgall's Bridge on the road back to Dublin. Brian's son, Murchad faced the Norsemen and killed 100 Vikings on his own.
The battle began at sunrise and lasted the whole day. The Dublin and Leinster forces broke, with some retreating towards their ships, and others headed towards the wooded areas. Unfortunately for the Vikings, high tide had come in again and cut off any access to the wood, while their ships were carried off by the tide. The trapped Vikings were killed or drowned. Brian's grandson, Toirdelbach was killed at this time -- chasing the Vikings into the sea, he was knocked down by a wave and drowned. Murchad, Brian's son was killed right after he killed Sigurd of Orkney.
Brian was in his tent, praying for a victory when Brodir of Mann crept in and killed him. Brodir was caught by Brian's soldiers and killed before he reached the wood.
Sigtrygg Silkbeard survived the day and continued to rule in Dublin until his death in 1042.
Last Stand of the Vikings in Ireland ~
The Battle of Clontarf was the last stand of the Norse Vikings in Ireland and their power was broken -- it was the end of the Viking wars in Ireland. There were still many Vikings who survived and eventually merged with Irish families through marriage.
The Viking power was gone, but their skills and advanced technology contributed greatly to the progress of Ireland with skills for the building of warships, crafting weapons, battle tactics and the development of towns like Dublin, Cork and Waterford that are still the largest in Ireland.
The Viking heritage and influence in Ireland is still strong today. Descendants of the Norsemen and the Danes are fiercely proud of their ancestors.
Battle of Clontarf, Dublin, Ireland
Date: April 23, 1014
Location: Clontarf, Dublin
Result: Munster Irish victory -- Viking power in Ireland broken
Belligerents: Irish of Munster (with Danes) and Irish of Leinster (with Norsemen)
Irish of Munster and Danes
Commanders and leaders:
Brian Boru - died in battle
Murchad mac Briain - died in battle
Strength: Less than 7,000 men
Casualties and losses: More than 4,000 died in battle
Irish of Leinster and Vikings of Dublin
Commanders and Leaders
Mael Morda - died in battle
Sigtrygg Silkbeard (the only commander to survive the battle)
Strength: Less than 6,600 men
Casualties and Losses: Almost 6000 died in battle**