Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Havelok the Dane
The story concerns Havelok, the son of Birkabyne, a king of Denmark, by Goldborough (daughter of king Aethelwold of England). Birkabyne and Goldborough are denied their rights to rule by their guardians (Earl Godard in Denmark and Earl Godrich in England), and Havelok is handed off to a fisherman, Grim, to drown. Grim does not drown the baby, about whom he knows nothing, but instead takes it home.
Grim realizes that there is something special about the child because, when he sleeps, a light shines out of his mouth. Grim raises Havelok with his own sons, Robert and William. The family goes to England (to Grimsby), and Havelok takes a job as a scullion to Earl Godrich, taking the name Cuaran, (Earl Godrich being the guardian of Goldborough who had been the cause of the misfortune to begin with). Havelok distinguishes himself with hard work and natural beauty, and Godrich chooses him to marry to Goldborough (Havelok's mother) as a form of degradation. By forcing her to marry a common scullion, Godrich hopes to shame her more. However, the flame that burns from Havelok alerts him to Goldborough's identity and Goldborough to his.
Havelok and Grim go back to Denmark to get revenge. He gets help from Earl Ubbe and, with his brothers, defeats Earl Godard. As the poet says of the battle:
- He broken armes, he broken knees,
- He broken swankes, he broken thes.
(They broke arms, they broke knees/ They broke sides, they broke thighs.)
After the battle, Havelok becomes king and Godard is hanged. Havelok then has Earl Godrich of England burned at the stake.
History of the Poem
The text of the poem shows mixed language forms, reflecting that our manuscript is some distance from composition. Three hands appear to have been involved in the production of the copy text used by most editions. While the poem is generally Northeast Midlands, there are Anglo-Norman scriptal elements, as well as some Licolnshire and Southern dialect features.
The first version of the story of Havelok comes in Geoffrey Gaimer's Estorie des engles, an Anglo-Norman chronicle from 1150. In the same century, an Anglo-Saxon Lai d'Havelok was produced. The Romance described here was the next version of the story to appear. The story became associated with the history of Lincolnshire through the introduction of localized Lincolnshire persons and places.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details