Weapons of the Era
Weaponry at the time of King Alfred, in the late 9th century focused on swords. The influx of civilisations and their cultures changed the face of Britain and the weapons and tools used there.
In a time structured by battles, weapons were a symbol of status. Looking at the literature at the time battles were central, such as in Beowulf. In the epic poem, the protagonist Beowulf takes art in three great battles stretched over time. The battles are the pillars of the tale with the story fabricated around them.
In her new novel Borvo, Denny Bradbury depicts the struggle of a pagan boy who comes to the aid of King Alfred. Instead of using weapons he uses healing to help him – rather than force.
In Winchester, the statue of King Alfred shows him holding a sword aloft. The status of a powerful war king was important during his era. With his sword held in the air he looks heroic and strong.
Elsewhere, in China Taoist monks had stumbled across an early form of gunpowder, which would later become infamous in Britain. The monks were supposedly trying to create the exilir of eternal youth when they created the formation for saltpetre, one of the components for gunpowder.
The phrase ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’ is suggested to come originally from the 9th century – possibly by King Arthur himself. So perhaps the allure and status of weaponry was losing its power.
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