Who Is Byrhtnoth's Loyalty In The Battle Of Maldon

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From the oral ages of scops to its physical manuscript form, The Battle of Maldon tells the tale of the heroic defeat of the British upon the shores of Essex in 991 AD. After the leader of the British side, Byrhtnoth, is slain, a few men flee from the battle to save themselves. The poet contrasts this cowardice with passages from other men who urge their comrades to stay and avenge their lord. It could be argued that these areas of the poem evoke a strong sense of community and loyalty, as the men are willing to meet their death for Byrhtnoth. Lines 202-225 are an example of such Anglo-Saxon heroic values, as Aelfwine encourages the men to stick alongside each other to avenge their lord. Although the British are defeated, The Battle of Maldon…show more content…
Loyalty is undoubtedly a central theme in The Battle of Maldon, with many of Byrhtnoth’s men sticking by his side, even after his death. Throughout the poem the men refer to their lord as “hlāford ”, which is a compound word literally meaning ‘loaf giver’. This is an interesting word choice used by the poet, perhaps emphasising all of the great things that Byrhtnoth has given to his people throughout his reign as lord. Clearly, the men respect their lord and demonstrate strong allegiance throughout the course of the poem. Loyalty was evidently a key value in Anglo-Saxon England, being incorporated into many other old English texts, such as Beowulf. Throughout the text Beowulf himself continually helps King Hrothgar, stating his loyalty with "Deað bið sella eorla/ gehwylcum þonne edwitlif! ", meaning "a warrior will sooner/die than live a life of shame". However, heroic loyalty not only existed in England during this period, but is also recorded in other works of ancient literature around the world , such as in…show more content…
As Aelfwine emerges to speak, the poet writes “wiga wintrum geong, wordum mælde ”, describing him as a ’warrior young in years’. The fact that alliteration is used in the third person introduction shows Aelfwine’s importance, which is later confirmed by his noble lineage. In Old English poetry, alliteration was arguably more important than rhyme because of its oral nature. The inclusion of similar sounding consonants on stressed syllables would help the scop to remember the poem, as well as the audience remembering its continents. Therefore, the alliteration used on Aelwine’s introduction aids the audience to remember his role in the battle and imitate his loyalty and bravery in their own

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