Elerde of Leon [741-c. 800 AD]
Elerde was born in Leon in Cornouaille, one of the kingdoms that later became Brittany, the younger of two surviving sons of a nobleman, Ewen of Leon. As his brother Mihail was expected to inherit Ewen's title and lands, Elerde was destined for the Church.
He was drawn to learning, spoke, read, wrote several languages, and had a particular interest in Ancient Roman poets and military writers. As a boy, however, he trained in the arts of war with his brother, and when he was sent off to Rome in 757 to begin his seminary education, he instead used the money his father had given him to buy himself the armor, weapons, horse and other gear and looked for a lord in whose service he could fight. Not finding one willing to take on such a young man, Elerde joined a band of adventurers and traveled about the Italian peninsula for some years. In 762 he returned to Rome where he found a message that his father had died. Knowing his brother was to inherit, he decided there was no hurry for him to return and he took more than a year before returning to Leon.
When he arrived at his family's stronghold in Leon, he learned that his brother Mikail, an inveterate gambler, had gotten so far into debt that he had had to turn over his lands and all upon them to a more powerful lord in Leon. Elerde, stunned, set off to find his brother. He located him as the young man was about to embark for England to become a soldier of fortune. Elerde, though deeply angry with his brother, chose to go with him. They joined the army of Æthelberht II, king of half Kent, as mercenaries, until Offa, King of Mercia, defeated him and assumed all of Kent into Mercia. Elerde, who had become disgusted with Mihail's drinking and gampbling, left his brother to cope as he could and having shown himself a more than capable leader, formed his own band of mercenaries. He sent to Leon for men he had known as a youth, and many came at his inbitation to join his mercenaries, including his childhood copamio9ns Lagu and Heraral.
For the next few years Elerde and his small company sold his sword to any lord who could afford them. In 766 he found himself in the employ of Gadfried of Tetforde, the cousin of Lawrence, King of Críslicland. Gadfrid commanded him to join the king's service in border battles with some Mercian lords. Gadfrid wanted to ingratiate himself with the king but also commanded Elerde to send reports about battles and plans to him at Tetforde. When the king was seriously wounded in battle, Elerde took the news to Lincoln to the young queen, Josephine, of Críslicland and Affynshire. The two shared a love for Roman poets and soon became friends. One day Elerde, thinking the queen reciprocated his growing passion for her, attempted to seduce her. She spurned him. When the king learned of the Breton's advances, he sent him away to Affynshire's frontiers to strengthen the garrisons there.
While in Affynshire, Elerde ran across malcolm of Horsfort, whom he had fought alongside as mercenaries. The two began to plan a coup in Affynshire, allying themselves with a discontented nobleman, Maegwig of Cross Gates, and old comrades in arms, Ricbeorht of Flanders, Sveun Ormyngel, and Finn O'Donnell. On Beltane, may 1, of 768 the coup was done, Elerde having been given the stronghold of Keito Uxello, Queen Josephine's family's hereditary holding. He had learned just prior to the coup that she was to be there on a visit to her ailing uncle, Earl Ceretic. When the two met he let her go, telling her to get out of Affynshire as he believed the other conspirators would not be squeamish about how they used her to bargain with King Lawrence.
Elerde was, in the meantime, also staying in touch with his former employer, Gadfrid. Whe he learned the queen had only just left the country after a reunion with her husband who was leading the effort to unseat the conspirators and these conspirators began to suspect Elerde was hiding or protecting the queen, he decided to leave the country and return to Críslicland. He arrived sometime after the queen and joined in the usurping of the throne by Gadfrid. Again, participating solely to protect and have access to Josephine, he sent Lagu, one of his soldiers, to find and kill the king. Lawrence's disappearance did not have the effect on the queen he wanted, but he was able first to help her free her imprisoned brother and then to persuade her to flee with him to Northumbria with her children.
When upon their arrival Josephine took refuge at the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne and told Elerde she would not continue to flee with him, he left in despair with his company to find "a battle so fierce I cannot possibly survive."
This biography will continue in the near future.
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Saturday, September 19, 2009
Biographies: Elerde of Leon
Elerde of Leon [741-c. 800 AD]