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by Nan Hawthorne, who also writes under Christopher Hawthorne Moss, Books and Stories b ChristopherHawthorne Moss at

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Biographies: Lawrence, King of Críslicland and Earl of Cleethorpes

This is a fictional biography of a character in the novel, An Involuntary King: A Tale of Anglo Saxon England, by Nan Hawthorne. If you plan to read the novel, you should be warned that the biography covers the events therein as well as after.

Lawrence, King of Críslicland (764-795), Earl of Cleethorpes (795-832)
An Involuntary King: A Tale of Anglo Saxon England, by Nan Hawthorne

Born 3 January 746, died 17 September 832.

Lawrence was born in Lincoln in the fictional kingdom of Críslicland in 746 AD, the second surviving son of King Arneth of Críslicland and his wife, Edith. His elder brother was the ætheling or heir to the throne, Arneth. IN about 756 King Arneth traveled with his two sons to Tatherwood in the neighboring kingdom of Affuynshire, also fictional, and the boys were betrothed to the two daughters of King Edwærd and his wife, Mairéad. At that time, the two kings, who were strong allies, arranged to create a stone bridge over the Riber Trenta near Cromwell in Affuynshire.

In 764 King Arneth's brother Nifhmund was convinced by ambitious men to begin one of his several rebellions against the crown. The ætheling and Lawrence, now a housecarl of his father's, participated in the battles. While they were away they got word that Edith, the King's wife and the two young men's mother, had died after a long and painful illness. Not long after Nifhmund made a last desperate ploy for amnesty for his deeds by claiming that he had the monks at an abbey hostage as surety of peace. When Arneth and his two sons and their army arrived at the parlay place, Nifhund killed first the king and then the ætheling. Lawrence in turn killed him while a battle between the two forces raged behind him. The battle was won and Lawrence, at 18, found jhimself the apparent heir to the crown of Críslicland.

The Witan was scheduled to meet some months later to choose either Lawrence or another member of the "cyning" to be king when word came that Nifhmund's old allies were laying sieve to the river town of Spalding on the souther border between Críslicland and East Anglia. Lawrence's decisive victory there assured his election as king. He was married to his childhood betrothed, Josephine, and crowned on the same day in June of 764.

The first few years of lawrence's reign were filled with tragedy, battle and treachery. First King Edwærd of Affynshire was killed. As his wife and their elder daughter were already deceased, this left only the ætheling Lorin and his sister, Lawrence's queen. Lorin was a bookish youth so his nation's Witan offered the throne to Lawrence and his wife, Celtic kingdomn's often giving positions of governance to the female line. Lorin became a high functionary in Lawrence's court.

The large kingdom of Mercia that lay on the southwest border of Críslicland was ruled by the historical King Offa, an empire builder. His border lords continuously raided lands near the Críslicland fortress of Grantham. In an ultimately successful war to drive these lords back into Mercia, Lawrence was badly wounded. He recovered and rejoined his wife in Lincoln soon after she gave birth to their first child, Peter. Lawrence behan his buiolding of a fortress in the northeast near the estuary of the River Humber which others christened Lawrencium. He and his young family took up residence there and soon after Josephine gave birth to twin daughters, Caithness and Elaine. A close friend of Lawrence's was murdered by Nifhmund's son, Gadfrid, whom Lawrence had generously pardoned afte Spaldin. Believing the friend's death was a suicide after the man's own bereavement when his wife died in childbirth, Lawrence and Josephine adopted their son Tavish and raised him as their own.

Learning of the head of her mother's family's illness, Josephine traveled to Keito Uxello in Affynshire. While there she was caught behind the lines when a cabal took military control of the kingdom. Lawrence and his army arrived at Ratherwood to find the leader of the cabal, Malcolm of Horsfort, locked up in the strongold. While engaged in besieging Ratherwood Josephine, who had been fighting alongside her cousins oppsing the cabal, was reunited with her husband briefly and set out again for Lawrencium and their children. Learning that her party had been ambushed on the road east, Lawrence took a contingent of soldiers and was met by two of the cabal leaders and suffered a damaging defeat. He returned weakened to the siege of Ratherwood. Just before diplomatic efforts by Josephine's cousins succeeded in bringing the Briton lords back to Lawrence's side, the king learned that Josephine had made it back to Críslicland. The siege was over, Lawrence took Ratherwood, and the army prepared to return home.

As they prepared Lawrence learned that Gadfrid, the cousin he had left behind in charhe of the home guard in Lawrencium, had seized power and was holding his wife and their children hostage. His efforts to rreturn to Lawrtencium were stymied by the need to retake LIncoln and other strongold's from the usurper. One of his earls, Harold of Grantham, turned traitor and imprisoned Lawrence, who with the hellp of supporters, escaped and returned to punish Harold. In the meantime Josepphine and the children escaped Gadfrid with the help of a Breton mercenary lord in love with her. When Lawrence finally arrivbed at Lawrencium he had no idea his famly was not within the strongold. He personally led a company into the stronghold through a secret passage and killed Gadfrid. Not finding his family he lerned that they had fled but not where. He sent couriers to all ports, finally locating and being reunited with the queen and their four children.

The years following the usurping were relatively peaceful. Offa continued to harry the southwestern lands and also Affynshire, which Lawrence had put in the hands of his wife's cousins. It was the shocking raid on Lindisfarne in 793 by Vikings that led ultimatley to the decision, in 798, for Lawrence to give up his throne. With offa encroaching to the south and the worsening raids by Vikings, followed by King Ruallauh of Affuynshire's declining health, lawrence decided to treat with Offa to take over both kingdoms believing that Offa would be the stronger barrier to the Norse and Danes. He abdicated in 795 and became Earl of Cleethorpes, formerly known as the town and strongold of Lawrencium. His son, the ætheling, Peter married one of King Offa's daughters and became an important leader in the Mercian juggernaut. At the time of Lawrence's abdication and King Ruallauh's death, Caithness was married to the King of East Anglia and Elaine an abbess. Tavish remained with his adopted parents, married Lorin's daughter Ystradwel and remained a loyal supporter until Lawrence's death in 832 at the age of 88. He was survived only shortly by his wife, Josephine, who died in 835.

Not very much is known of Lawrence's life after 798. He had to fight off Viking raids continuously. It was during a short lull in the incursions that the former king of Críslicland spent his last days in contented peace with his beloved Josephine.

[Source, Lawrence's creator, Nan Hawthorne. The image of King Lawrence at the beghinning of this biography is not original. If you are the artist and object to our using it to represent the character, just contact us and we will remove it. The drawings of Lawrence with his wife and with his young son Peter is an original Hawthorne drew in about 1969]

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About the author

Nan Hawthorne now writes under the name Christopher Hawthorne Moss. You can contact Christopher at .