THE WRITINGS OF BEDEN
Chapter I: My name is Beden, son of Hachgana
1. My uncle Konered, not having married, left
no children. I was elected in his place. Adel, the third king of that name, approved of the choice, provided I should acknowledge
him as master. In addition to the entire inheritance of my uncle, he gave me some land which adjoined my own, on condition
that I would settle people there who should never his people [...]
2. [...] therefore I will allow it a place
Chapter II: Letter of Rika the elder-femme,
read at Staveren at the yule-feast -
1. My greeting to all of you whose forefathers
came here with Friso. According to what you say, you are not guilty of idolatry. I will not speak about that now, but will
at once mention a failing which is very little better. You know, or you do not know, of the thousand glorious titles Wr-alda
has; but you all know that he is named Alfeder, because that everything comes and proceeds from him for the sustenance of
2. It is true that Irtha is named sometimes
Alfedstre, because she brings forth all the fruits and grains on which men and beasts are fed; but she would not bear any
fruit or grain unless Wr-alda gave her the power. Women who nourish their children at their breasts are called nurses, but
if Wr-alda did not give them milk the children would find no advantage; so that, in short, Wr-alda really is the nourisher.
3. That Irtha should be called Alfedstre, and
that a mother should be called a feeder, one can understand, figuratively speaking; but that a father should be called a feeder,
because he is a father, goes against all reason. Now I know whence all this folly comes. Listen to me. It comes from our enemies;
and if this is followed up you will become slaves, to the sorrow of Frya and to the punishment of your pride.
4. I will tell you what happened to the slave
people; from that you may take warning. The foreign kings, who follow their own will, place Wr-alda below the crown. From
envy that Wr-alda is called Alfeder, they wish also to be called feeders of the people. Now, everybody knows that kings regulate
neither productiveness nor wealth; and that they have their sustenance by means of the people, but still they persist in their
5. In order to attain their object they were
not satisfied from the beginning with free gifts, but imposed a tax upon the people. With the tax thus raised they hired foreign
soldiers, whom they retained about their courts. Afterwards they took as many wives as they pleased, and the smaller princes
and gentry did the same.
6. When, in consequence, quarrels and disputes
arose in the households, and complaints were made about it, they said every father is the feeder of his household, therefore
he shall be master and judge over it. Thus arose arbitrariness, and as the men ruled over their households the kings would
do over their people.
7. When the kings had accomplished that, that
they should be called feeders of the people, they had statues of themselves made, and erected in the temples beside the statues
of their idols, and those who would not bow down to them were either killed or put in chains. Your forefathers and the Twisklandar
had intercourse with the foreigners, and learned these follies from them. But it is not only that some of your men have been
guilty of stealing titles, I have also much to complain of against your wives.
8. If there are men among you who wish to put
themselves on a level with Wr-alda, there are also women who wish to consider themselves equals of Frya. Because they have
borne children, they call themselves mothers; but they forget that Frya bore children without having intercourse with a man.
Yes, they not only have desired to rob Frya and her folk-mothers of their glorious titles - with whom they cannot put themselves
upon an equality - but they do the same with the glorious names of their fellow creatures.
9. There are women who allow themselves to
be called ladies, although they know that that only belongs to the wives of princes. They also let their daughters be called
femmes, although they know that no young girls are so called unless they belong to a burgh. You all fancy that you are the
better for this name stealing, but you forget that jealousy clings to it, and that every wrong sows the seed of its own rod.
10. If you do not alter your course, in time
it will grow so strong that you cannot see what will be the end. Your descendants will be flogged by it, and will not know
whence the stripes come. But although you do not build burghs for the femmes and leave them to their fate, there will still
remain some who will come out of woods and caves, and will prove to your descendants that you have by your disorderliness
been the cause of it.
11. Then you will be damned. Your ghosts will
rise frightened out of their graves. They will call upon Wr-alda, Frya, and her femmes, but they shall receive no succour
before the yule shall enter upon a new circuit, and that will only be three thousand years after this century.
12. The end of Rikas letter.
Chapter III: [...] therefore I will first write
about Swarte Adel -
1. Swarte Adel was the fourth king after Friso.
In his youth he studied first at Texland, and then at Staveren, and afterwards travelled through all the states. When he was
twenty-four years old his father had him elected judge and named Askar. As soon as he became Askar he always took the part
of the poor. He said:
2. "The rich do enough of wrong by means of
their wealth, therefore we ought to take care that the poor look up to us."
3. By arguments of this kind he became the
friend of the poor and the terror of the rich. It was carried so far that his father looked up to him. When his father died
he succeeded, and then he wished to retain his office as well, as the kings of the east used to do. The rich would not suffer
this, so all the people rose up, and the rich were glad to get out of the assembly with whole skins.
4. From that time there was no more talk of
equality. He oppressed the rich and flattered the poor, by whose assistance he succeeded in all his wishes. King Askar, as
he was always called, was seven feet high, and his strength was as remarkable as his height. He had a clear intellect, so
that he understood all that was talked about, but in his actions he did not display much wisdom. He had a handsome countenance
and a smooth tongue, but his soul was blacker than his hair.
5. When he had been king for a year, he obliged
all the young men in the state to come once a year to his residence to have a sham fight. At first he had some trouble with
it, but at last it became such a habit that old and young came from all sides to ask if they might take part in it. When he
had brought it to this point, he established military schools. The rich complained that their children no longer learned to
read and write.
6. Askar paid no attention to it; but shortly
afterwards, when a sham fight was held, he mounted a throne and spoke aloud:
7. "The rich have come to complain to me that
their boys do not learn to read and write. I answered nothing; but I will now declare my opinion, and let the general assembly
8. While they all regarded him with curiosity,
he said further:
9. "According to my idea, we ought to leave
reading and writing at present to the femmes and elders. I do not wish to speak ill of our forefathers; I will only say that
in the times so vaunted by some, the burgh-femmes introduced disputes into our country, which the folk-mothers were unable,
either first or last, to put an end to.
10. "Worse still, while they talked and chattered
about useless customs the Golar came and seized all our beautiful southern country. Even at this very time our degenerate
brothers and their soldiers have already come over the Skelda. It therefore remains for us to choose whether we will carry
a yoke or a sword.
11. "If we wish to be and remain free, it behoves
our young men to leave reading and writing alone for a time; and instead of playing games of swinging and wrestling, they
must learn to play with sword and spear. When we are completely prepared, and the boys are big enough to carry helmet and
shield and to use their weapons, then, with your help, I will attack the enemy.
12. "The Golar may then record the defeat of
their helpers and soldiers upon our fields with the blood that flows from their wounds. When we have once expelled the enemy,
then we must follow it up till there are no more Golar, slaves, or Tartarar to be driven out of Fryas inheritance!"
13. "That is right!" the majority shouted,
and the rich did not dare to open their mouths.
14. He must certainly have thought over this
address and had it written out, for on the evening of the same day there were copies in at least twenty different hands, and
they all sounded the same. Afterwards he ordered the ship people to make double prows, upon which steel crossbows could be
fixed. Those who were backward in doing this were fined, and if they swore that they had no means, the rich men of the district
were obliged to pay.
15. Now we shall see what resulted from all
this bustle. In the north part of Brittania, which is heavily forested, there exists a Skotse people. Most of them spring
from Fryas blood, some of them are descended from the followers of Kaltana, and, for the rest, from Britne and fugitives who
gradually, in the course of time, took refuge there from the tin mines. Those who came from the tin mines have wives, either
altogether foreign or of foreign descent.
16. They are all under the dominion of the
Golar. Their arms are wooden bows and arrows pointed with stags horn or flint. Their houses are of turf and straw, and some
of them live in caves in the mountains. Sheep that they have stolen form their only wealth. Some of the descendants of Kaltanas
followers still have iron weapons, which they have inherited from their forefathers.
17. In order to make myself well understood,
I must let alone for a while my account of the Skotse people, and write something about the Heinde Krekalandar. The Heinde
Krekalandar formerly belonged to us only, but from time immemorial descendants of Lyda and Finda have established themselves
18. Of these last there came in the end a whole
troop from Troia. Troia is the name of a state that the Fere Krekalandar had taken and destroyed. When the Trojans had nestled
themselves among the Heinde Krekalandar, with time and industry they built a strong state with walls and a burgh named Rome,
that is, "Spacious". When this was done, the people by craft and force made themselves masters of the whole land.
19. The people who live on the south side of
the Middel Sea come for the most part from Phonisia. The Phonisiar are a bastard race of the blood of Frya, Finda, and Lyda.
The Lyda people were there as slaves, but by the unchastity of the women these black people have degenerated the other people
and dyed them brown.
20. These people and the people of Rome are
constantly struggling for the supremacy over the Middel Sea. The Romar, moreover, live at enmity with the Phonisiar; and their
priests, who wish to assume the sole government of the World, cannot bear the sight of the Golar.
21. First they took from the Phonisiar Missellia
- then all the lands lying to the south, the west, and the north, as well as the southern part of Brittania - and they have
always driven away the Phonisiar priests, that is the Golar, of whom thousands have sought refuge in North Brittania. A short
time ago the chief of the Golar was established in the burgh which is called Kerenak, that is the corner, whence he issued
his commands to the Golar. All their gold was likewise collected there.
22. Keren Herne, or Kerenak, is a stone burgh
which once belonged to Kalta. Therefore the femmes of the descendants of Kaltanas followers wished to have the burgh again.
Thus through the enmity of the femmes and the Golar, hatred and quarrelling spread over Berchland with fire and sword. Our
navigators often came there to get wool, which they paid for with prepared hides and linen.
23. Askar had often gone with them, and had
secretly made friendship with the femmes and some princes, and bound himself to drive the Golar out of Kerenak. When he came
back there again he gave to the princes and the fighting men iron helmets and steel bows. War had come with him, and soon
blood was streaming down the slopes of the mountains.
24. When Askar thought a favourable opportunity
occurred, he went with forty ships and took Kerenak and the chief of the Golar, with all his gold. The people with whom he
fought against the soldiers of the Golar, he had enticed out of the Saxanamark by promises of much booty and plunder. Thus
nothing was left for the Golar. After that he took two islands for stations for his ships, from which he used later to sally
forth and plunder all the Phonisiar ships and states that he could reach.
25. When he returned he brought nearly six
hundred of the finest youths of the Skotse mountain people with him. He said that they had been given him as hostages, that
he might be sure that the parents would remain faithful to him; but this was untrue. He kept them as a bodyguard at his court,
where they had daily lessons in riding and in the use of all kinds of arms.
26. The Denamarkar, who proudly considered
themselves sea warriors above all the other navigators, no sooner heard of the glorious deeds of Askar, than they became jealous
of him to such a degree, that they would bring war over the sea and over his lands.
27. See here, then, how he was able to avoid
a war. Among the ruins of the destroyed burgh of Stavia there was still established a clever burgh-femme, with a few femmes.
Her name was Reintia, and she was famed for her wisdom. This femme offered her assistance to Askar, on condition that he should
afterwards rebuild the burgh of Stavia.
28. When he had bound himself to do this, Reintia
went with three femmes to Hals. She travelled by night, and by day she made speeches in all the markets and in all the assemblies.
29. Wr-alda, she said, had told her by his
thunder that all Fryas people must become friends, and united as brothers and sisters, otherwise Findas people would come
and sweep them off the face of Irtha.
30. After the thunder Fryas seven watch-femmes
appeared to her in a dream seven nights in succession. They had said:
31. "Disaster hovers over Fryasland with yoke
and chains; therefore all the people must do away with their surnames, and only call themselves Fryas Children, or Fryas people.
32. "They must all rise up and drive Findas
people out of Fryas inheritance. If you will not do that, you will bring the slave chains round your necks, and the foreign
chiefs will ill-treat your children and flog them till the blood streams into your graves. Then shall the spirits of your
forefathers appear to you, and reproach your cowardice and thoughtlessness."
33. The stupid people who, by the acts of the
Magyarar, were already so much accustomed to folly, believed all that she said, and the mothers clasped their children to
their bosoms. When Reintia had brought the king of Hals and the others to an agreement, she sent messengers to Askar, and
went herself along the Balda Sea.
34. From there she went to the Hlithhawar,
so called because they always strike at their enemys face. The Hlithhawar are fugitives and banished people of our own race,
who wander about in the Twiskland. Their wives have been mostly stolen from the Tartarar. The Tartarar are a branch of Findas
race, and are thus named by the Twisklandar because they never will be at peace, but provoke people to fight. She proceeded
on beyond the Saxanamark, crossing through the other Twisklandar in order always to repeat the same thing.
35. After two years had passed, she came along
the Rene home. Among the Twisklandar she gave herself out for a folk-mother, and said that they might return as free and true
people; but then they must go over the Rene and drive the Golar out of Fryas south lands. If they did that, then her king
Askar would go over the Skelda and win back the land.
36. Among the Twisklandar many bad customs
of the Tartarar and Magyarar have crept in, but likewise many of our laws have remained. Therefore they still have femmes,
who teach the children and advise the old. In the beginning they were opposed to Reintia, but at last she was followed, obeyed,
and praised by them where it was useful or necessary.
37. As soon as Askar heard from Reintias messengers
how the Juttar were disposed, he immediately, on his side, sent messengers to the king of Hals. The ship in which the messengers
went was laden with womens ornaments, and took a golden shield on which Askars portrait was artistically represented. These
messengers were to ask the kings daughter, Frethogunsta, in marriage for Askar.
38. Frethogunsta came a year after that to
Staveren. Among her followers was a Magy, for the Juttar had been long ago corrupted. Soon after Askar had married Frethogunsta,
a temple was built at Staveren. In the temple were placed monstrous images, bedecked with gold-woven dresses. It is also said
that Askar, by night, and at unseasonable times, kneeled to them with Frethogunsta; but one thing is certain, the burgh of
Stavia was never rebuilt.
39. Reintia was already come back, and went
angrily to Prontlik the folk-mother, at Texland, to complain. Prontlik sent out messengers in all directions, who proclaimed
that Askar is gone over to idolatry. Askar took no notice of this, but unexpectedly a fleet arrived from Hals. In the night
the femmes were driven out of the burgh, and in the morning there was nothing to be seen of the burgh but a glowing heap of
40. Prontlik and Reintia came to me for shelter.
When I reflected upon it, I thought that it might prove bad for my state. Therefore, we hit upon a plan which might serve
us all. This is the way we went to work. In the middle of the Krylwald, to the east of Liudwerd, lies our place of refuge,
which can only be reached by a concealed path. A long time ago I had established a garrison of young men who all hated Askar,
and kept away all other people.
41. Now it was come to such a pitch among us,
that many women, and even men, talked about ghosts, white women, and dwarfs, just like the Denamarkar. Askar had made use
of all these follies for his own advantage, and we wished to do the same. One dark night I brought the femmes to the burgh,
and afterwards they went along the path dressed in their short white kilts, mimicking dwarfs and ghosts, so that nobody dare
go there any more.
42. When Askar thought he had his hands free,
he let the Magyarar travel through his states under all kinds of names, and, except in Grenega and my state, they were not
turned away anywhere. After that Askar had become so connected with the Juttar and the Denamarkar, they all went roving together;
but it produced no real good to them.
43. They brought all sorts of foreign treasures
home, and just for that reason the young men would learn no trades, nor work in the fields; so at last he was obliged to take
slaves; but that was altogether contrary to Wr-aldas wish and Fryas counsel. Therefore the punishment was sure to follow it.
44. This is the way in which the punishment
came. They had all together taken a whole fleet that came out of the Middel Sea. This fleet was laden with purple cloths and
other valuables that came from Phonisia. The weak people of the fleet were put ashore south of the Seiene, but the strong
people were kept to serve as slaves. The handsomest were retained ashore, and the ugly and black were kept on board ship as
45. In the Fly the plunder was divided, but,
without their knowing it, they divided the punishment too. Of those who were placed in the foreign ships six died of colic.
It was thought that the food and drink were poisoned, so it was all thrown overboard, but the colic remained all the same.
Wherever the slaves or the goods came, there it came too.
46. The Saxmannar took it over to their marches.
The Juttar brought it to Skenland and along the coasts of the Balda Sea, and with Askars navigators it was taken to Brittania.
We and the people of Grenega did not allow either the people or the goods to come over our boundaries, and therefore we remained
free from it.
47. How many people were carried off by this
disease I cannot tell; but Prontlik, who heard it afterwards from the femmes, told me that Askar had helped out of his states
a thousand times more Children of Frya than he had brought dirty slaves in.
48. When the pest had ceased, the Twisklandar
who had become free came to the Rene, but Askar would not put himself on an equality with the princes of that vile degenerate
race. He would not suffer them to call themselves Fryas Children, as Reintia had offered them, but he forgot then that he
himself had black hair.
49. Among the Twisklandar there were two tribes
who did not call themselves Twisklandar. One came from the far south-east, and called themselves Allemannar. They had given
themselves this name when they had no women among them, and were wandering as exiles in the forests. Later on they stole women
from the slave people like the Hlithhawar, but they kept their name.
50. The other tribe, that wandered about in
the neighbourhood, called themselves Frankar, not because they were free, but the name of their first king was Frank, who,
by the help of the degenerate femmes, had had himself made hereditary king over his people. The people nearest to him called
themselves "Thioths Sons" - that is, "Sons of the People". They had remained Children of Frya, because they never would acknowledge
any king, or prince, or master except those chosen by general consent in a general assembly.
51. Askar had already learned from Reintia
that the Twisklander princes were almost always at war with each other. He proposed to them that they should choose a duke
from his people, because, as he said, he was afraid that they would quarrel among themselves for the supremacy. He said also
that his princes could speak with the Golar. This, he said, was also the opinion of the folk-mother.
52. Then the princes of the Twisklandar came
together, and after twenty-one days they chose Alrik as duke. Alrik was Askars nephew. He gave two hundred Skotse and one
hundred of the greatest Saxmannar to go with him as a bodyguard. The princes were to send twenty-one of their sons as hostages
for their fidelity.
53. Thus far all had gone according to his
wishes; but when they were to go over the Rene, the king of the Frankar would not be under Alriks command. Thereupon all was
confusion. Askar, who thought that all was going on well, landed with his ships on the other side of the Skelda; but there
they were already aware of his coming, and were on their guard. He had to flee as quickly as he had come, and was himself
54. The Golar did not know whom they had taken,
so he was afterwards exchanged for a noble Gol whom Askars people had taken with them. While all this was going on, the Magyarar
went about audaciously over the lands of our neighbours. Near Egmuda, where formerly the burgh Forana had stood, they built
a temple larger and richer than that which Askar had built at Staveren.
55. They said afterwards that Askar had lost
the battle against the Golar, because the people did not believe that Wodin could help them, and therefore they would not
pray to him. They went about stealing young children, whom they kept and brought up in the mysteries of their abominable doctrines.
56. Were there people who [...]