The Last Days of Thunder Child

The Last Days of Thunder Child
War of the Worlds - spin off adaptation novel.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

We Will Travel To Trojan Asteroids One Day Soon.

Taken from news report on web.
New Trojan Asteroid on similar orbit to Earth.

Astronomers have detected an asteroid not far from Earth, moving in the same orbit around the Sun.

The 200-300m-wide rock sits in front of our planet at a gravitational "sweet spot", and poses no danger.

Its position in the sky makes it a so-called Trojan asteroid - a type previously detected only at Jupiter, Neptune and Mars.

The new Trojan asteroids orbit around the sun.

2010 TK7, as it is known, was found by Nasa's Wise telescope. The discovery is reported in this week's Nature journal.

It is a fascinating observation because the relative stability and proximity of Trojans would make possible targets for astronaut missions when we eventually go beyond the space station.

Other Trojan Asteroids could be reachable.
2010 TK7 is probably not the rock of choice, simply because it travels too far above and below the plane of Earth's orbit, which would require a lot of fuel to reach it.

Nonetheless, its detection means it is highly likely there are other, more suitable Trojans out there waiting to be found.

The difficulty is the viewing geometry that puts any Trojan, from the perspective of an Earth-based telescope, in bright skies.

Trojan asteroids are considered possible targets for astronaut missions. It took an orbiting telescope sensitive to infrared light to pick up 2010 TK7.

Wise, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer launched in 2009, examined more than 500 Near-Earth Objects (NEOs), 123 of which were new to science.

Trojan asteroids number many within our solar system and there are likely to be more that are not yet discovered.

The authors of the Nature paper sifted through data on these rocks, looking for the candidates that might be Trojans.

Follow-up work on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope confirmed the status of 2010 TK7.

It traces quite a complex path at its orbital point. Currently, it is about 80 million km from Earth, and should come no closer than about 25 million km.

The team says its orbit appears stable at least for the next 10,000 years.

2010 TK7's existence should not really be a surprise. Jupiter, Neptune and Mars all have collections of rocks sitting in the so-called Lagrange points 60 degrees ahead of or behind the planets in their orbits.

In the case of Jupiter, the number of Trojans now tops 1,000 rocks.

"These objects are difficult to find from Earth, simply because they're not very big and they're pretty faint, and they're close to the Sun as seen from Earth," explained Christian Veillet from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and a co-author on the Nature study.

"But we can find them from space, and future satellites will likely find some more. We think that there are others which will be very close to the Earth and have motions that make them relatively easy to reach. So, they could be potential targets to go to with spacecraft," he told BBC News.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

A world empty of people (What would happen to the buildings?)

If the entire human race vanished in a split second and the earth was left void of all people, what would happen to the world we had shaped? The cities and buildings would gradually succumb to nature's relentless intrusion. No one would be left to maintain and shape it - all traces of man's footprint would gradually fade away. Even the most powerful and monumental structures would fall before the relentless erosion of time.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Queen Boudicca (Boadicea of Iceni) Drama Documentry 8 parts.

Indian Wars Art

Various art depicting different Indian tribes of North America through the ages of eighteenth and nineteenth century.

I Get Around - Beach Boys (Radiogram Adventures)

This was one of my mother's 45s that my sister and I would play regularly. At first I thought they were a bit to high pitched, but they were a band that grew on me. Today, I think they are among the true greats, delivering a great sound of west coast sea, sand and fun from Retro sixties USA.   

UFO (Retro Brit Sci/Fi tv seires from 1970)

Gerry and Sylvia Anderson were famous for Brit Sci/Fi puppet stories in the 1960s. Many of these were known as Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Joe 90. Between 1969 and 1970, they broke the mold and decided to use real people. This started with a new tv show called UFO. It was very exciting at the time and although dated now; the cheesy and sexy way the program was presented still entertains today.

The lead actor was an American called Ed Bishop. He plays the Commander of operations and his character name is Ed Straker. The actor, Ed Bishop, also did the voice for Captain Blue in the puppet Sci/Fi, Captain Scarlet.

There are a host of other regular actors too, including George Sewell as Colonel Freeman, Paul Billington as Foster, Gabrella Drake as the Moon base operative and Peter Gordeno as the Sky craft pilot - the vessel that is launched out of water from a submarine.

This 1970's series is set in the future of 1980. Therefore, the viewer is looking at the show from a retro 1969/1970 perspective. The Earth is being raided by humanoid alien beings intent on stealing body organ parts because the wretched visitors from space are in the advance stages of sterility. They are desperately trying to stay alive by harvesting new body parts.

The world has set up an organisation to secretly defend mankind against such raids. This secret army is called SHADO: Security Headquarters Alien Defence Organisation. 

Unbeknown to the rest of the world, and to avoid mass panic, SHADO fights a secret war against the alien raiders each week, as a UFO tries to penetrate Earth's defence force and go plundering for reluctant and unsuspecting organ donors.

It was all good clean fun with aliens that still retained a scary anonymity, despite us knowing they are humanoid. Every time SHADO managed to catch one, the off worlder was usually dead or just short of it. Much of the knowledge acquired on the aliens came from autopsy. They breath green oxygenated liquid because of faster then light space travel and when exposed to Earth air, they would rapidly age and die. Also their skin complexion has a green stain from the liquid they have been immersed in.


Something in The Air (Radiogram Adventures)


Sometimes you look at a record with its title and it does not mean anything. My sister and I never bothered with this 45 in the radiogram collection because we did not know the song by title. Then one day we put it on and realised it was one that we liked. We knew the song and tune, but reading the title on the 45 did not register until we took the chance and played it. So this Thunderclap Newman really does remind me of retro Britain and my kid years. We lived in flats in Poplar, East London at the time and could see the dome of St Paul's Cathedral and the Post Office Tower. This song congers up that memory of those two landmarks in the mist of the inner London city.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Julius Caesar's Great invasion of Gaul 52 BC

Julius Ceaser invades Gaul and comes up against Vercingetorix. The Romans exacted a terrible vengeance upon the Gauls. It is believed one in every four Gauls would die as a consequence of the Roman invasion. Even by modern day standards, the Romans brutal subjugation of the Gauls was bordering genocide.

Louie Louie - The Kingsmen (Radiogram Adventures)

I always used to make for this one among the 45 records in my parents collection. Louie Louie was always a great party song - it got the feet tapping and the fingers clicking. 

The Troggs - Wild Thing

The Troggs in their hip pyjama suits of the sixties, singing Wild Thing. Very cheesy nowadays but still good nostalgic memories of that era. It has a wonderful London 1960s feel to it. Something I can remember as a kid growing up during that decade. It was a fun time, but we all move on.

The Roman Military Machine

The Roman army and how organised and effective it was. Their empire stretched across much of Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. 

Fall of Saigon 1975

I can remember watching this very clip of Sandy Gall on British television when I was fourteen years of age. The news was always showing the Vietnam War and it looked as though it would never end. Then this shock news left me dazed. 

I could not believe that the United States was giving way and the comunist NVA was entering Siagon. I could not concieve the notion that the United States would ever be in such a situation. It was the last days of the long Vietnam War, though it took some time for me to realise this.

Little Big Horn in pictures (Players and Event)

The Little Big Horn fascinates people all across the planet. This horrendous defeat immortalised George Armstrong Custer. In death he echos through eternity and not always for good reasons. This one big blunder was the epitaph that brought about a man's celebrity. Everything we know and want to learn of him comes from this one dreadful mistake and the final moments of his life along with the soldiers who fell beside him - this one instant that opened the door to the history of his life.

Cicero of Rome

This is a download and pre written intro from a person called zeusbark on YouTube. This person enjoys Roman history and has a multitude of good documentry clips. So check out zuesbark on YouTube. 

One of the best trials in Roman history. This is the story of how Marcus Tullius Cicero became a famous lawyer. Enjoy!

Cicero is up against one of the finest prosecutors in the city - Erucius. The facts seem simple: Roman gentleman Sextus Roscius has been stabbed in the street. It's an apparently motiveless killing. None of his valuables were stolen. The prime suspect is the old man's son.

Sextus Roscius Junior had means, motive and opportunity. Erucius calls witness after witness and builds a shocking case. The court learns that Sextus Junior has possibly committed an earlier murder - his elder brother Gaius, who stood to inherit the wealthy father's land.

It seems like an open and shut case. But Cicero's brilliant out-of-court detective work is about to dazzle the Roman courts for the first time. By the time he has finished, not only is Sextus Junior absolved, but Cicero has unmasked a conspiracy that goes to the top of Roman society.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

(Radiogram Adventures) Booker T & the MG's - green onions

I think this record was in my Dad's collection. My sister and I both liked this one. At first I used to be disappointed because there was no signing, but then I grew to like it very much indeed.


First Great Secret Agent - Sir Francis Walsingham (Elizabethan Spymaster)

Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis Walsingham was born in 1530 to the landed gentry. He came into historical focus when Queen Elizabeth I claimed the throne in 1558. On the accession of the Protestant queen, Walsingham returned to England and was championed by Sir William Cecil for many years in the early 1560s. His big involvement in recorded history came in domestic security and counter-espionage. He was to be the leading member of the English security facility and would work relentlessly on Her Majesties Secret Service – a Tudor spymaster for Protestant England and her many Catholic adversaries.

In 1569, Francis Walsingham’s spymaster career began in earnest when he was called before Sir William Cecil to uncover the Ridolfi Plot. This was a conspiracy to overthrow Queen Elizabeth and put Mary Queen of Scots on the English throne and restore England to Catholicism.

Ridolfi was an international banker and devout Catholic. (From a Protestant English perspective; an international villain and paymaster of Catholic terrorism.) He had secretly gathered followers among the English Catholic nobility and had the verbal agreement of the Queen’s cousin, the Duke of Norfolk – a Protestant who thought the Queen undervalued him.

In many ways and with the glorious benefit of hindsight; the Duke of Norfolk was a bad choice in all of this because he had been caught up in an uprising prior to Ridolfi's conspiracy and had got cold feet. He had been arrested and only narrowly escaped execution upon pleading guilty and asking for forgiveness. The Duke of Norfolk was a tainted man and a watched one too.

Francis Walsingham’s spy network was aware of the plot and was keen to secure solid evidence. His agents waited in the shadows letting the plot broaden and when the time was ripe, the Queen’s secret service struck. They arrested Ridolfi’s messenger at the port of Dover. The man’s name was Charles Ballie and he was about to board a ship to France. He had, upon his person, compromising letters and was under observation by Walsingham’s spy network. Under torture, the wretched and helpless Charles Ballie broke and confessed all, incriminating many plotters, including the Duke of Norfolk – the Queen’s cousin. The traitor was to marry Mary Queen of Scots upon Queen Elizabeth I removal from the English throne, by death.

The Spanish ambassador was expelled and Ridolfi escaped because he was abroad at the time. The Duke of Norfolk stood trial and was convicted of treason. He and many other plotters were executed for their involvement in the plot. Mary Queen of Scots knew of the intrigue but Queen Elizabeth would not sanction her execution. Instead, the Scottish Queen was removed from succession and her thinly disguised prisoner status was changed from honoured guest to treasonous pariah. For Francis Walsingham, his fine work in English domestic security was well received. He had secured the growing confidence of his Queen.

In 1571 Walsingham went to France as English ambassador. His mission was to support the French Huguenots in negotiations with the young King Charles the XI of France. The young French king was just beginning to try and take some control from his regent mother Catherine de Medici. Also, Walsingham was secretly supporting the Dutch Protestant revolt against the Spanish crown forces that were ruling the Netherlands as a Spanish province. For two years this careful intrigue went on, but his plans were foiled by a French Catholic backlash. It came in the form of the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre. Francis Walsingham returned to England – his mission failed though he had furthered his trust and reputation for the work he had done in the turbulent environment of France.

From 1573 Walsingham continued to work for his Queen’s government and security and he also became vehemently opposed to the French attempts, with allies in the English court, to form a union through marriage to Queen Elizabeth and the French Duke of Anjou. This paid off - the marriage never happened, though probably not due to Walsingham’s objections alone. The Queen was far too old to have children and it was more a last throw of the dice in the marriage game. The English would play the French off against the Spanish one last time to stave off the inevitable confrontation that would one day come.

He went to Scotland and appeared in the Scottish courts brokering an alliance with them. The Scottish court had brought King James VI up as a Protestant. He was the son of Mary Queen of Scots but had not tried to act or protest too earnestly on his mother’s captivity. Walsingham laid inroads and agreements to the understanding that Scotland’s King James VI would one day become England’s King James I when Queen Elizabeth I died. This understanding secured compliance from Protestant Scotland – no longer an enemy at the back door.

In the meantime, Walsingham had strengthened his established spies amid Catholic communities in various parts of England and Europe. He caught another plotter named Francis Throckmorton and saw him executed in 1584. Once again, Mary Queen of Scots was involved from her captivity, though Walsingham could not secure a conviction against the imprisoned Scots Queen.

After this, Mary was watched all the more closely and another already infiltrated plot was allowed to broaden so that the spy watchers could see what influential people came into the light of treason’s Protestant eye. This was the Babington plot and when this conspiracy was unveiled with arrests, torture, and trials; Mary Queen of Scots was fully exposed to being involved. This time, there could be no leniency from Queen Elizabeth - Walsingham had uncovered the most advanced subversion of all. This led to Mary Queen of Scots execution in 1587 and triggered the Spanish backlash.

In 1588, the Spanish King sent his great Armada to the Netherlands in order to ferry a Spanish land army across to England. Spain would restore Catholicism in England and remove Queen Elizabeth. This never happened as England managed to defeat the Spanish Armada. It started the decline of Spain as the world’s superpower and laid England’s foundations for a future union with Scotland that would bring about the United Kingdoms and the eventual rise of a new empire.

This had been Sir Francis Walsingham’s great moment – the English nation had prevailed – the Queen had triumphed over her adversaries and he (Walsingham) had overcome formidable enemies to secure his great queen’s reign. He died two years later aged sixty but left a legacy of a man adapting to the changing new world of reformation. He championed progressive trade adventures and was regarded as an entrepreneur too, supporting voyages to the North West Frontier.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Monkees - I'm a Believer (Retro American)

I think this clip is from the Saturday half hour tv program that used to be aired in the UK during the late sixties. It is a retro American show and the Monkees were a band that had some good hits of that time. This one brings back a lot of kid memories from the 1960s decade. It all seems very cheesy now, but Saturday evening tv was one of my favorites as a boy. We had the Monkees, Thunderbirds and Doctor Who. Later I would watch Match of the Day as two of the days big games were shown and then of course Patrick McGoohan in The Prisoner.

Retro Rolling Stones - The Last Time (Brit Sixties Memories)

Among the dancing audience is Manchester United and Northern Ireland football star, George Best while The Rolling Stones play 'The Last Time.' A track from the 1960s. Great memories from a time now gone.

Brit Sixties Retro Memories - (PINKY & PERKY)

I don't think the kiddie entertainment industry would be able to market something like this nowadays, but when I was a kid, I always remember the two little pigs called Pinky and Perky. They always sang modern songs from the hit parade of 1960s UK. 

Erase and Rewind - The Cardigans

Swedish band, the Cardigans had a number of good hits in the ninties. This is one of my favorites by the band. It is called Erase and Rewind.  

Giving You Alfred the Great of Saxon England

King Alfred the Great
Alfred was born in the years of around AD 848/849. His name 'Alfred' means Elf - counsel. His father was King AEthelwulf of Wessex meaning (Noble Wolf.) His mother was called Osburga Oslac and little is known about her, though she was believed to have died around the time of AD 856 when Alfred was about seven years of age. Alfred was the younger of five sons and one sister. He had more time to learn than his elder brothers and was a firm believer in Christianity at an early age.

There is a story of Osburge (Alfred's mother) teaching young Alfred to read and develop his knowledge. In this, young Alfred excelled. A Welsh scholar and Bishop named Asser wrote Alfred's biography in later life. He mentions that Osburg offered a book of English poems as a gift to any of her five sons that could remember the words off by heart. Alfred, the youngest, won the prize.

No one could suspect that young Alfred would become king because he had four elder brothers in line to the throne of Wessex. At the age of five, he went to Rome where he was confirmed by Pope Leo IV. He travelled on a pilgrimage with his father AEthelwulf of Wessex and stayed in the kingdom of Franks then ruled by Charles the Bald. All this at the age of around seven to eight. It is likely that a career in the church was ordained for him. While upon the pilgrimage, his father AEthelwulf, was deposed from the throne by his elder son AEthelbald. This was done because King AEthelwulf re-married after Osburga's death. The new bride was a thirteen-year-old Frankish princess called Judith. She had royal relations that might threaten the second son AEthelbald's succession to the throne of Wessex.

AEthelwulf had to hurriedly return and a council was called to prevent civil war. It was agreed that the son AEthelbald would continue to rule the western shires of the realm, while the old king AEthelwulf ruled the East. In the year of AD 858, AEthelwulf died and his third son AEthelbert ruled the area of today's Kent, while AEthelbald remained ruler of Wessex. (Incidentally, the older son AEthelstan had died in AD 851.) This situation of the second and third brothers remained for two years and not a great deal is known about AEthelbald's short reign of Wessex except that he married his father's widow Judith. 

Asser, the Welsh scholar, does not seem to write favourably of (second son) King AEthelbald because he deposed his father and then married the widow. AEthalbald died in AD 860 after just two and a half years of reign. Young Alfred was eleven or twelve at this time and very much in the shadows of the West Saxon court.

AEthelbert (third son) who ruled the eastern shire of Kent, became the new king of Wessex. He amalgamated the West Saxons and Jutish people of Kent under one realm and his reign of the united kingdoms of Wessex and Kent lasted until 865 when King AEthelbert also died. During this time, the whole island of Britain was constantly being raided by Vikings from Norway and Denmark. The kingdom of Wessex was always under threat from the expanding Vikings colonisers. The land of today's England was divided into four kingdoms. The fist, Northumbria had been torn apart by civil wars and the Danes had been able to fill the power vacuum bringing the Northumbrian lands under Viking Dane control. The second, East Anglia had seen its Anglo-Saxon King Edmund executed by the Danes after defeat in battle. This land was now ruled by Danish Vikings too. The third kingdom, Mercia was ruled by an Anglo-Saxon king and so too was the fourth kingdom, Wessex, where Alfred's family had been ruling. 

In 865 AEthelred (fourth son) came to power and young Alfred would stand beside his remaining elder brother in a turbulent time. For a while, the Vikings were paid Danegeld to keep them from invading the West Saxon kingdoms of Wessex and Kent, but by AD 870 this became pointless as the Vikings grew ever more daring and started raiding the borderlands of the kingdom. AEthelred and Alfred had met the Vikings in battle towards the end of 870 in the kingdom of Mercia. This resulted in heavy defeat. Then in early 871 the Viking campaign really took off with the siege at Reading. This resulted in defeat for AEthelred and Alfred. However, a Saxon victory was won at the Battle of Ashdown.

At the Battle of Ashdown, young Prince Alfred at the age of twenty-one led a force of between eight hundred to one thousand Saxons against a slightly lesser numbered Viking host. The Vikings held the high ground, but young Alfred was able to secure a costly victory against the invading enemy. The casualties on both sides were said to be heavy and the Vikings lost some of their more senior commanders.

Sadly, this victory did not achieve much and further defeats would follow in this dire year of 871. The Battle of Ashdown took place in the winter (8th January.) Then came a defeat on the 22nd of January at the Battle of Basing. This was believed to have been a series of conflicts within the area. The Saxons retreated from the field, though the Vikings never won any real advantage. It is said that King EAthelred and Prince Alfred fought eight battles in the year of 871 against the Viking invaders. The last was to be in March AD 871 at the Battle of Marton. This resulted in a heavy defeat for the Saxon army. King AEthelred and Prince Alfred had to once again retreat from the conflict, giving the Vikings the ground.

Four weeks later on the 23rd of April, King AEthelred died. It is not known if he died of wounds suffered at the Battle of Marton. Some historians think it is possible.

Thus Prince Alfred came to power as King Alfred. His late elder brother AEthelred had left two underage sons, but a pact had been made to allow Alfred to rule because he was the only youngster with the ability to take control of the burden of defence. While he was attending his brother's funeral, the Viking Danes inflicted another defeat upon his Saxon army and then again in May at a place called Winton.

King Alfred was present at this defeat at Winton. It destroyed any hope that he had of driving the Vikings out of his Kingdom of Wessex. He was forced to come to terms with the Viking Danes and most probably had to pay more Dane geld to get them to withdraw. It is not known exactly what the price of this agreement was, though the Vikings did leave all the areas they occupied, in Wessex, and returned to London - a city they also occupied outside of the Saxon Kingdom of Wessex.

This uneasy peace only lasted a few years. In the East Anglia areas of Britain, the Viking Danes had established a Viking Kingdom under the rule of Danelaw. This was English held territory ruled by the Danes. Their Viking King Guthrum established firm control over this area and was looking to expand, venturing into neighbouring Anglo-Saxon kingdoms around AD 874. In AD 876 he turned his attention to King Alfred's Kingdom of Wessex. Once again the Vikings invaded the Saxon lands and Alfred was forced to confront the pagan raiders yet, again.

The Vikings did their usual of occupying a stronghold and waiting for the Saxon army to try and dislodge them. Again King Alfred was forced to broker a peace. The Saxon king was unable to defend the kingdom during this time and the Viking Danes seemed to roam and occupy areas as they pleased - demanding tribute to leave. Once more, the Vikings were paid to leave and Guthrum left the Kingdom of Wessex to Alfred, no doubt laughing at the ease of the money his army were earning.

In January AD 878, Guthrum broke the treaty again and attacked King Alfred's court at Chippenham. The Saxon king managed to escape capture by fleeing into the night with a few of his Saxon followers. This time he retreated into the sanctuary of marshes in the west of his kingdom. From these marshes, in Somerset, he gathered other stragglers and began to launch a guerrilla campaign against Guthrum's Viking force. (It was here that the legend of Alfred burning the cakes comes.) How effective this guerrilla war was, is not truly known, though it could not have had time to do much damage to the Vikings. It is likely beefed up by the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles.

The Vikings usually occupied areas and fortified, waiting for their opponents to attack or try and pay them off. However, by this time in AD 878, it is probable that Alfred realised he had to do something more substantial to drive out the Vikings. The same thing kept happening as the Danes invaded and held strongholds, they could wander around the Kingdom of Wessex and do as they pleased. Eventually, they might bring the Saxon kingdom under Danelaw as Guthrum had done in East Anglia making it a totally Danish controlled kingdom.

Alfred managed to gather many Saxon men from the surrounding counties and a famous council at Egbert's stone was held. He formed a new army and met the Viking Danes in open battle at a place called Ethandun. It was a hard fought battle, but King Alfred and his Saxons managed to inflict a very heavy defeat, once the Viking ranks broke. They pursued the routed Vikings, inflicting many casualties upon the fleeing force.

The Vikings withdrew to Chippenham - the place they captured in early January. King Alfred surrounded the stronghold and starved the Vikings into submission. Guthrum was forced to sue for peace and part of the condition of the peace agreement was that Guthrum and other Vikings chieftains were made to convert to Christianity.

The Viking Danes left Wessex and returned to the Danelaw territory of East Anglia. Guthrum did stick to this treaty and lived out the remainder of his reign over the East Anglia Danelaw kingdom as a Christian king over his Christian Anglo-Saxon subjects of the territory.

Although the Viking King Guthrum was taken from the main threat; King Alfred still had to fight other Viking chieftains who continued to raid from the sea. He built a navy and fought a number of small naval engagements against these new Viking raiders and achieved victories in open sea warfare. He also repelled a raid in Rochester Kent, where the Vikings fled to their long boats upon sighting King Alfred's Anglo-Saxon force.

He also launched a sea attack into East Anglia winning a victory and plundering spoils, though this Anglo-Saxon naval force was defeated coming out of a river estuary by another Viking fleet.

In AD 886, King Alfred was able to re-occupy London and strengthen its fortifications. He was becoming more prominent among all English peoples, though he was not yet king of all England, just the expanding Kingdom of Wessex. He never proclaimed himself king of all England, though many outside of Wessex looked up to him with an acceptance of his kingship. His reputation was growing stronger with every year.

In AD 893 a new force of Viking Danes was forced to leave the mainland of Europe and try to colonise parts of Kent. Alfred led an army and camped in a position where he could watch over the Viking forces that had two camps. He was planning a method of attack, but one of the enemy camps broke out and headed northward. The Viking Danes were met and defeated in open battle. There followed a serious of campaigns that left the Viking forces retreating into Essex, then still under East Anglia Danelaw. Guthrum had passed away in AD 890.

From this retreat, the new Viking colonisers raided across England and captured Chester near the border of Wales. However, they were pursued and starved into surrender by Anglo-Saxon forces all during the winter. The new Viking colonisers were forced to return to Essex under Danelaw. Even here they were constantly harassed by Alfred's Anglo-Saxon force.

King Alfred and his Anglo-Saxons had become more adept at fighting the Viking Danes. Eventually, the new Viking forces were forced to live within the Danelaw areas of England while some, with no connections in England, gave up the quest of colonisation to return to mainland Europe.

The year of Alfred's death is not certain. Most historians claim from between AD 899 and AD 901. He is believed to have suffered from Crohn's disease throughout his life and was not formidable in build, but he never lacked courage and was very intelligent. It is his versatility and learning that historians think allowed him to exceed and defeat the Vikings. He found new ways of confronting them.

He also enriched the nation's economy, founded a navy and passed good laws. His legacy echoes through England's history and many people of other nations know of his reign and fight against Viking migrants.  

If you would like to know more on Alfred the Great please click the link below:

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Ridley Scott's The Duellists - 1977 Cannes Film Festival.

The Duellists
The Duellists is a 1977 period drama movie set in France during the time of Napoleon's rule. It was awarded "Best Debut Film" at the 1977 Cannes Film Festival. It was the movie that launched British director Ridley Scott. It also shows that a great film can be made on a modest budget with great cinematography, good actors and good musical themes.

The story is based on Joseph Conrad's book and is about one man's twisted obsession and another man's entrapment of his notion of honour and fair play. The two men quarrel over a trivial thing and a duel ensues from the pointless argument. However, one man is twisted and obsessed by his notion of the insult and wants to constantly continue the duel on other occasions when both cavalry officers cross paths over the years. Each officer acquires celebrity status because of this. One enjoying the adulation and the more sensible one, not caring for the interest that the pointless competing attracts. The story takes place over a period of sixteen years from 1800 to 1816.

Some of the cinematography is wonderful - typical Ridley Scott with light and shadows. The climatic ending is fabulous because of the wonderful scenery. We have a fine hero and an excellent villain in Keith Carradine and Harvey Keitel. The American duo is surrounded by a host of wonderful Brit character actors too. The uniforms of the Napoleonic French cavalry officers are grand - the whole movie is a fabulous feast of entertainment.