Saxo Grammaticus 'Mike The Knight'

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The representation of past cultures in modernity is one that is repeatedly problematic. More specifically, the image of the Scandinavian settlers that expanded into the British Isles in the late 8th century has received much of this treatment. Today, these people are commonly known as ‘Vikings’ and a fair amount of misrepresentation accompanies the term. This stereotype of the Scandinavians paints them as a brutish and uncultured group of people that terrorised the coasts of the British Isles without purpose. Media is perhaps the most susceptible to this image as is seen in television such as BBC’s children show Mike the Knight. This series gives us the basis of the ‘Viking’ stereotype, from their lack of complex language to their tendency …show more content…
These points involve the inclusion of women in warfare, the use of boats for travel, and the Scandinavians coming to Glendragon in a diluted, child-friendly representation of a raid. The inclusion of women in warfare is not something often seen in medieval battles, perhaps making this surprising to viewers. The Scandinavians that arrive in Glendragon include not just two bearded men, but a woman as well. There are chronicles that provide a basis for this inclusion as seen in Saxo Grammaticus’ History of the Danes, where he writes of such an occurrence. Grammaticus discusses the events around Ragnar’s excursion to Norway in order to avenge his grandfather, where many women joined him in men’s clothing. Grammaticus, in further detail, discusses a specific woman involved, “among them was Lagerda, a skilled female warrior, who, though a maiden, had the courage of a man, and fought in front among the bravest.” This could have been the cartoons way of including more women in the programme for young female viewers, but it still serves as a truthful representation. Another point of accuracy in this episode is the Scandinavians use of a boat to reach Glendragon. At the end of the episode, once the Scandinavians happily leave with their jam, they get into a boat with the image of a dragon. This may have been unintentional, but the Scandinavians did make use of a brand of naval crafts called the dragon ship. In his paper, Eric Oxenstierna discusses these ships in that they were built in large numbers and served as a great importance to the Scandinavians. He then goes on to detail one such ship, “the Gokstad ship… is 78 feet long… Its carrying capacity is estimated at 20 tons.” Although the boat depicted in the episode of Mike the Knight is much smaller, no doubt due to its simplicity of animation for the

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