Warriors of Renown
Vikings for all occasions, no tale too tall
Ascension to Prospect is achieved when the Henchman possesses Mail armour and passes one of the following assessments:
Advanced Display Combat.
Ascension to Candidate is achieved when the Prospect passes the following assessments:
One of the following: Short Spear, Long Spear or Long Axe.
Advanced Display Combat.
One of the following: Basic Archery or Javelin.
He has defeated an opponent at one of the following: kubb, hnefetafl or nine men’s morris.
Has show that he can light a fire with flint and steel and keep it alight long enough to boil a litre (approx) of water.
Has been heard bragging of his prowess.
Ascension to Warrior of Renown is achieved when on the day of his ascension the Candidate has:
Before battle he has bragged of his fighting skill with a rousing tale of his past victories.
In a single battle he has fought with a missile weapon, a spear or long axe and a sword or hand axe.
He has been presented with a drinking horn (Bragarfull) by the Valkyries.
Ascension to Warrior of Legend is achieved when a Warrior of Renown grows too old and weary to fight every comer, preferring instead to sit around the camp fire telling stories of his greatness and:
He is then killed in battle by another Warrior of Renown.
Then raised and escorted from the field by the Valkyries.
Have I done enough? (A check list)
This is a quick reference guide to help those aspiring to be Warriors of Renown understand what they have to do to ascend to the status of Warrior of Renown and to help all aspirants, Warriors of Renown and Valkyries understand how they are to behave.
The point of this is to give warriors a goal to aim for, to encourage them to act as a Viking warrior should without forcing them, and most importantly to have fun.
For the Valkyries too, the point is to have fun and to participate in the warriors activities. Viking women are the mothers, daughters, sisters and wives of warriors and anything that encourages them to be more involved with the warriors’ lives is a good thing.
Throughout this document gender references are in keeping with the Viking period, warriors are he, Valkyries are she. It is unlikely that many men will wish to portray Valkyries but there are certainly women who do want to be warriors, who are warriors. Part of the fun will be that when a woman is dressed as a warrior all other warriors will see her as male, think “Bob” from Black Adder or the stoning scene in Life of Brian.
Gods of the Code
He is chief divinity of the Norse pantheon and foremost of the Aesir. Odin is a son of Bor and Bestla. He is called Alfadir, Allfather, for he is indeed father of the gods. With Frigg he fathered Balder, Hod, and Hermod. He fathered Thor on the goddess Jord; and the giantess Grid became the mother of Vidar.
Odin is a god of war and death, but also the god of poetry and wisdom. He hung for nine days, pierced by his own spear, on the world tree. Here he learned nine powerful songs, and eighteen runes. Odin can make the dead speak to question the wisest amongst them. His hall in Asgard is Valaskjalf ("shelf of the slain") where his throne Hlidskjalf is located. From this throne he observes all that happens in the nine worlds. The tidings are brought to him by his two ravens Huginn and Muninn. He also resides in Valhalla, where the slain warriors are taken.
Odin's attributes are the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target, the ring Draupnir, from which every ninth night eight new rings appear, and his eight-footed steed Sleipnir. He is accompanied by the wolves Freki and Geri, to whom he gives his food for he himself consumes nothing but wine. Odin has only one eye, which blazes like the sun. His other eye he traded for a drink from the Well of Wisdom, and gained immense knowledge. On the day of the final battle, Odin will be killed by the wolf Fenrir.
Some of the aliases he uses to travel incognito among mortals are Vak and Valtam.
In Norse mythology Freya is a goddess of love and fertility, the most beautiful and propitious of the goddesses. She is the patron goddess of crops and birth, the symbol of sensuality and was called upon in matters of love. She loves music, spring and flowers, and is particularly fond of the elves (fairies). Freya is one of the foremost goddesses of the Vanir.
She is the daughter of the god Njord, and the sister of Freyr. Later she married the mysterious god Od (probably another form of Odin), who disappeared. When she mourned for her lost husband, her tears changed into gold. As punishment for an indiscretion with four dwarfs Odin made her the Goddess of Battle.
Her attributes are the precious necklace of the Brisings, which she obtained by sleeping with four dwarfs, a cloak (or skin) of bird feathers, which allows its wearer to change into a falcon, and a chariot pulled by two cats. She owns Hildesvini ("battle boar") which is actually her human lover Ottar in disguise. Her chambermaid is Fulla. Freya lives in the beautiful palace Folkvang ("field of folk"), a place where love songs are always played, and her hall is Sessrumnir. She divides the slain warriors with Odin: one half goes to her palace, while the other half goes to Valhalla. Women also go to her hall.
In Norse mythology, Hel is the ruler of Helheim, the realm of the dead. She is the youngest child of the evil god Loki and the giantess Angrboda. She is usually described as a horrible hag, half alive and half dead, with a gloomy and grim expression. Her face and body are those of a living woman, but her thighs and legs are those of a corpse, mottled and mouldering.
The gods had abducted Hel and her brothers from Angrboda's hall. They cast her in the underworld, into which she distributes those who are sent to her; the wicked and those who died of sickness or old age. Her hall in Helheim is called Eljudnir, home of the dead. Her manservant is Ganglati and her maidservant is Ganglot (which both can be translated as "tardy").
In old Scandinavian myth, Ull ("glory") is the god of justice and dueling, as well as the patron god of agriculture. He excels in archery and in skiing and lives in his hall Ydalir ("yew dales"). He is regarded as the son of Sif and the stepson of Thor. When the giantess Skadi divorced Njord she married Ull.
Thor is the Norse god of thunder. He is a son of Odin and Jord, and one of the most powerful gods. He is married to Sif, a fertility goddess. His mistress is the giantess Jarnsaxa ("iron cutlass"), and their sons are Magni and Modi and his daughter is Thrud. Thor is helped by Thialfi, his servant and the messenger of the gods.
Thor was usually portrayed as a large, powerful man with a red beard and eyes of lightning. Despite his ferocious appearance, he was very popular as the protector of both gods and humans against the forces of evil. He even surpassed his father Odin in popularity because, contrary to Odin, he did not require human sacrifices. In his temple at Uppsala he was shown standing with Odin at his right side. This temple was replaced by a Christian church in 1080.
The Norse believed that during a thunderstorm, Thor rode through the heavens on his chariot pulled by the goats Tanngrisni ("gap-tooth") and Tanngnost ("tooth grinder"). Lightning flashed whenever he threw his hammer Mjollnir. Thor wears the belt Megingjard which doubles his already considerable strength. His hall is Bilskirnir, which is located in the region Thrudheim ("place of might"). His greatest enemy is Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent. At the day of Ragnarok, Thor will kill this serpent but will die from its poison. His sons will inherit his hammer after his death.
Bragi is god of eloquence and poetry, and the patron of skalds (poets) in Norse mythology. He is regarded as a son of Odin and Frigg. Runes were carved on his tongue and he inspired poetry in humans by letting them drink from the mead of poetry. Bragi is married to Idun, the goddess of eternal youth. Oaths were sworn over the Bragarfull ("Cup of Bragi"), and drinks were taken from it in honour of a dead king. Before a king ascended the throne, he drank from such a cup.
In Norse mythology, Saga is the goddess of poetry, poetic arts and history. Every day she drinks with her father Odin from golden goblets in her hall Sokkuabekk. She is identified with Frigg.
Mimir was the wisest god of the Aesir and one of the two gods sent as hostages to the Vanir. After the Vanir discovered they had been tricked by the Aesir, they hacked off Mimir's head and send it back to the Aesir.
Odin took the head, smeared it with a mixture of herbs, so that it would never decay, and placed powerful spells on it. The forces Odin called upon were so great that not only was the head brought back to life, but it was also able to speak to him. From that moment on he regularly consulted the head which revealed many occult secrets to him.
Loki is one of the major deities in the Norse pantheon. He is a son of the giant Farbauti ("cruel striker") and the giantess Laufey. He is regarded as one of the Aesir, but is on occasion their enemy. He is connected with fire and magic, and can assume many different shapes (horse, falcon, fly). He is crafty and malicious, but is also heroic: in that aspect he can be compared with the trickster from North American myths. The ambivalent god grows progressively more unpleasant, and is directly responsible for the death of Balder, the god of light.
Loki's mistress is the giantess Angrboda, and with her he is the father of three monsters. His wife is Sigyn, who stayed loyal to him, even when the gods punished him for the death of Baldur. He was chained to three large boulders; one under his shoulders, one under his loins and one under his knees. A poisonous snake was placed above his head. The dripping venom that lands on him is caught by Sigyn in a bowl. But every now and then, when the bowl is filled to the brim, she has to leave him to empty it. Then the poison that falls on Loki's face makes him twist in pain, causing earthquakes.
On the day of Ragnarok, Loki's chains will break and he will lead the giants into battle against the gods. Loki is often called the Sly One, the Trickster, the Shape Changer, and the Sky Traveler.
Syn was a Norse goddess invoked by defendants on trial. She was an attendant of Frigg and guarded the door of her palace.
The Valkyries ("Choosers of the Slain") are beautiful young women (some sources describe them as hideous hags! - perhaps it depends on the mission they are on), mounted upon winged horses and armed with helmets and spears. Odin needs many brave warriors for the oncoming battle of Ragnarok, and the Valkyries scout the battlefields to choose the bravest of those who have been slain. They escort these heroes, called the Einherjar to Valhalla, Odin's hall.
The Valkyries are also Odin's messengers and when they ride forth on their errands, their armour causes the strange flickering light that is called "Aurora Borealis" (Northern Lights).
Some of the Valkyries are Brynhildr, Göll, Göndul, Gudr, Gunn, Herfjoturr, Hildr, Hladgunnr, Hlokk, Hrist, Sigrdrifa, Sigrún, and Svafa.
Valkyrie Wrangler, (aka The Wanderer, Odin All Father) recruits the Valkyries. A warrior is appointed Valkyrie Wrangle and will don the hat of the Wanderer; he will then wander the camp until sufficient Valkyries are recruited.
“Two wooden stakes stood on the plain,
On them I hung my clothes:
Draped in linen, they looked well born,
But, naked, I was a nobody.”
Bragging is an essential skill for the Warrior of Renown and it must be done with care and attention but above all with humour. The tale told must be principally about you and based at least on a small kernel of truth. Develop a small number of stories rather than inventing a new one every time, a story can grow in the telling both as you remember facts and as the audience contributes new “facts”. Be as physical as you like, especially when describing how big your enemy was, after all a fisherman will always use his arms to show how big a fish was. Try to engage your audience in the tale, the feedback helps and it is much more fun. Don’t be shy about borrowing some elements of contemporary story-telling, such as TV and film. If you have for instance chopped all the limbs from an opponent the audience will expect your foe to try and bite your ankles, if you don’t mention it one of them will! Some small hint of depreciation of your skill goes down well.
Sidekicks can be useful for telling a tale, particularly if they are a part of the story, anything that may have gone badly in the action can be blamed on them! The sidekick is also useful for getting the audience in tune with the story, shouting out encouragement or reminding you what happened gives the audience some idea how they should behave.
Stories need not based on an event during the performance at a show, some of the funniest incidents occur “after hours”. All you have to do is to convert everything to the tenth century, a car could be described as a ship for instance, a small and annoying little dog would be a great and savage beast like the Hound of the Baskervilles. Never miss an opportunity to exaggerate the size and number of your enemies or the length of time you fought them. Beowulf, after all, probably only broke the arm of Hrothgar’s neighbour when he came round to complain about the noise! A few more nights of drunken revelry turned the neighbour into the monster Grendall and a legend was born!
Comments on this site should be sent to Roger Barry
Ranks & Titles
Henchman, any warrior that does not fulfil the criteria to be a Prospect or better. They may be mentored by any Warrior of Renown. A Henchman should attach himself to a Warrior of Renown and assist him in any way he can. If allowed he should fight as close to his mentor as possible and miss no opportunity to praise the skill of his mentor. For example, when his mentor slays a foeman the Henchman could say something like “Another falls to the mighty .....” If the Henchmen should see danger approaching his mentor he should do all he can to prevent harm coming to him, even at risk to his own life! The symbol of a Henchman is nothing for he is yet nothing. A Henchman has a name but very few remember it.
“The coward believes he will live forever
If he holds back in the battle,
But in old age he shall have no peace
Though spears have spared his limbs.”
Prospect, has passed at least one of the society assessments and possesses mail. May still be mentored by a Warrior of Renown but should also be trying to behave as a Warrior of Renown. If possible a Prospect should seek a Warrior of Renown to accept him as a Sidekick. The symbol of a Prospect is his mail for his strength of character. A Prospect has a name that sounds familiar, some may even remember it.
“Who travels widely needs his wits about him,
The stupid should stay at home:
The ignorant man is often laughed at
When he sits at meat with the sage.”
Candidate, has passed all society assessments required, has mail, has not yet taken Warrior of Renown tests. A Candidate’s behaviour should make him stand out as a future Warrior of Renown. He may have a mentor and be a Sidekick but should be more his own man. The symbol of a Candidate is the flame he raises in his fire for his burning ambition. He has a name, it is remembered by many people.
“Blessed is he who in his own lifetime
Is awarded praise and wit,
For ill counsel is often given
By mortal men to each other.”
Warrior of Renown, to become a Warrior of Renown a candidate must fulfil the following criteria: Passed Advanced Combat, Advanced Display Combat, Short Spear or Long Spear or Long Axe, Javelin or Basic Archery. He must own a coat of mail. He must have told a tale of his great deeds as a warrior. He must defeat an opponent at kubb, hnefatafl or nine men’s morris. He must light a fire with flint and steel and keep it going long enough to boil water. Then he must be prepared to defend a hopeless case when called upon. He will be raised to the status of Warrior of Renown by the Valkyries having fought in a single battle with a missile weapon, a spear or long axe and a sword or hand axe. He will mark out an opponent for a single combat. He will not be slain during this battle, even if “killed” he will act as if wounded until presented with a drinking horn (Bragarfull) by the Valkyries as the final act of his ascension. Once he has ascended he may have a Sidekick and Henchmen. He should seek out the best opponents to fight. He should seek every opportunity to brag of his prowess; no audience is too small to hear his of his mighty deeds. A Warrior of Renown should be free with advice to lesser warriors, particularly those that seek to emulate him. He should conduct himself with dignity paying close attention to the advice given in the Havamal and The Code. The symbol of a Warrior of Renown is Bragi’s drinking horn, Bragarfull, for his true oaths and skill at bragging. He has a name, it is renowned.
“To ask well, to answer rightly,
Are the marks of a wise man:
Men must speak of men's deeds,
What happens may not be hidden.”
Warrior of Legend, when a Warrior of Renown is too old to continue, when he no longer feels he can fight a single combat or when his fellow Warrior of Renown think he has slowed down too much he may ascend to Warrior of Legend. To ascend the aged Warrior of Renown must be slain in battle by an enemy Warrior of Renown and fall with his sword in hand, a Valkyrie will take him by the hand and lead him from the field, he must remain on the ground as dead until the Valkyrie collects him even if the “dead to rise” call has been given. Warriors of Legend will arbitrate all disputes between Warrior of Renown and organise and conduct the final assessment for Warrior of Renown. Warriors of Legend, on ascending, will be chosen by the Valkyries to live either in Sessrumnir with Freya or Valhalla with Odin. Those chosen to live in Sessrumnir will sit to the east of the Valkyries at the camp fire; those chosen to live in Valhalla will sit on the west of the Valkyries at the camp fire. The symbol of a Warrior of Legend is his seat for he is resting. He has a name, it is legend.
“He who has seen and suffered much,
And knows the ways of the world,
Who has travelled, can tell what spirit
Governs the men he meets.”
Sidekick, he is a Prospect who is being mentored by a single Warrior of Renown. A Sidekick should take every opportunity to praise the deeds of his mentor, should assist his mentor in the telling of his tales. He should make sure the Henchmen are carrying out their tasks leaving his mentor free to look good. He should back up his mentor where ever he goes and ensure that everyone knows who his mentor is.
“A man should be loyal through life to friends,
And return gift for gift,
Laugh when they laugh, but with lies repay
A false foe who lies.”
Valkyrie, a daughter of Odin, she chooses the Warriors of Renown and Warriors of Legend. Any warrior that fulfils the criteria may be raised to the status of Warrior of Renown. The warrior must fight prominently in a battle at a major muster; he must fight a single combat during the battle. If he is “killed” in the single combat or at the end of the battle, he should make a death speech before the last of his breath leaves his body and behave as though severely wounded, he will not expire before the end of the day. If he wins the single combat he must brag about it as soon as he gets back to his own side, if possible a short poem would be preferable. Three Valkyries are to watch his performance and if satisfied they will present him with a drinking horn (Bragarfull) as the final act in his ascension to Warrior of Renown. Any three ladies of the society may be Valkyries but if possible one or more of them should have experience as warriors. Valkyries must not take part in the battle but watch from the side lines. Valkyries may look for infringements of the code which they will bring to the attention of other Warriors of Renown. Valkyries should look for suitable warriors to become Warriors of Renown, approach them and encourage them to seek ascension. Valkyries raise fallen Warriors of Renown to the status of Warrior of Legend and decide in which hall they are to sit, Sessrumnir with Freya or Valhalla with Odin. Valkyries will sit to the north of the camp fire.
“Greetings to the host,
The guest has arrived,
In which seat shall he sit?
Rash is he who at unknown doors
Relies on his good luck”
Odin, Lord of War, wields the spear Gungnir. Warriors of Renown slay their enemies with their spear or long axe as a sacrifice to the Lord of War.
To encourage the use of a pole arm, especially spear, particularly at the start of a battle.
Freja, Goddess of Love and Battle, Chooser of the Slain, takes up those Warriors of Renown who, spear broken, shield shattered, die valiantly with sword or hand axe in hand. Freya divides the fallen warriors into two groups taking the first to her hall Sessrumnir where for eternity all their desires are met by the most beautiful women. The remainder, the Einherjar, spend eternity in Valhalla feasting and fighting.
To encourage the use of a side arm after a pole arm as the weapon of last resort. The Warrior of Renown should use pole arms in the first half of the battle; Warriors of Renown may then choose to change to side arm.
Hel takes to her realm murderers, thieves and other despicable types condemning them to eternity on the Shores of the Dead in Nifleheim. He who kills with a knife or seax is a murderer.
To discourage any use of a seax by a Warrior of Renown in combat. If they are seen using a seax like a common criminal the Warrior of Renown looses their status until another Warrior of Renown defends their action to their fellow Warriors of Renown so as to redeem them, when possible a Warrior of Legend will adjudicate.
Ull, God of Justice and Duelling excels in archery, Warriors of Renown wield a bow or javelin in his honour.
To encourage the use of missile weapons, particularly the javelin and single combats such as battles of champions. Most, if not all, hearth troop warriors should be Warriors of Renown, or prospective Warriors of Renown, and have a javelin which they hurl at their opponents when the enemy first attack. This will make the first two clashes look different as the defenders in each use missiles briefly. Whenever a champion is called for all Warriors of Renown should volunteer and show disappointment if they are not called out.
Thor, God of Thunder, wears Megingjard his belt of strength. Warriors of Renown wear coats of iron and bear shields and helms in his honour.
To encourage the use of mail, only when wearing mail is the re-enactor portraying a Warrior of Renown on the battlefield and therefore subject to the code.
Bragi, God of Eloquence and Poetry and the patron of skalds, and Saga, Goddess of Poetry and History are honoured by Warriors of Renown who can compose or recite poetry or stories.
There is more to a Warrior of Renown than being tough, the sagas show that they are multi talented and are expected to entertain their fellows. Most of their tales will be accounts of their own deeds, bragging!
Mimir the Wise is honoured by Warriors of Renown who can play a board game.
There is more to a Warrior of Renown than being physically strong, they are also expected to show intelligence and tactical skill playing hnefatafl, kubb or nine men’s morris.
Loki the God of Fire (amongst other things!) is honoured by Warriors of Renown who can light a fire.
If the Warrior of Renown can’t light a fire he can’t cook his food on a hunt, he is not so uncouth that he eats his food raw.
Syn the Goddess of Defendants is honoured by Warriors of Renown who will speak in defence of the defenceless.
A Warrior of Renown must be prepared to defend the indefensible as this is the hero’s lot. A Warrior of Renown must be able to use wit and word as well as strength and sword.