|The Roman Wall|
“The Ballad of King Geraint” is an action filled tale of brave knights and feats of derring-do in the battle between King Geraint of Britain and the Saxon hordes who encroached on his kingdom. Many of the participants’ names are familiar to Howard fans.
The poem is twenty-nine pages—too long to reprint. Here are some excerpts as well as a Cast of Characters list:
From the Roman Wall to Channel’s sand;
The Saxons held the eastern coast
By high-beaked galley and spear-tipped host.
They reached their hands from the eastern shore
And flooded the land with fire and gore.
King Geraint marched on the Watling Road,
Along the Ouse his banners showed.
Few his warriors but fierce his lords,
Dipped and reddened their worn swords.
He had scoured the land a-near and far,
He had sold his crown for the thews of war.
Knight and warrior and man-at-arms,
Yeoman drawn from the ravished farms,
Each was armed to suit his need,
Each one rode on a goodly steed.
The hoof-beat thunder sounded far—
So Geraint rode to his last red war.
List of Characters
The poem contains many similar names. In order to follow and understand the battle action, here is a list of which characters fought on what side and in parenthesis who was killed by whom.
On the side of Britain is King Geraint (unknown slayer) with ten knights and 1,000 men.
Angus, a chief of the northern Scot (dies from wounds after the Saxon foot soldiers flee in the third encounter)
Cadallon, the king of Wales (killed by Lodbrog in the third encounter)
Conal, close friend of King Geraint (killed by Oswald in the second encounter)
Conmac flower of knighthood (killed by Eadward in the final battle with King Caewlin)
Cormac of Cornwall called the Hawk (killed when overwhelmed by the hordes of Saxon foot soldiers in the third encounter)
Donal, the chieftain of Strathclyde (Donal and Hakon the jarl kill each other in the first encounter)
Dulborn, a Pict (Dulborn and Tostig the Raven kill each other in the final battle with King Caewlin)
Nial, brother to Ulster’s king (unknown slayer)
Turlogh of Connacht (sole survivor of Geraint’s men)
Uther, king of Humber, whose kingdom was destroyed by Anlaf (killed by Edric and Athelstane in the third encounter)
1. The first encounter, led by Prince Osric, a Jut, ruler from Ouse to Humber, commanding 1000 horsemen. (killed by King Geraint)
Athelney. berserker (killed by Angus the Scot)
Athelred, cousin to the king, (killed by Donal)
Halfgar, Frisian sea-king (killed by Conal who receives a mortal wound)
Oswick who ravaged London town (killed by King Cadallon of Wales)
Oswy the Jut (killed by Uther)
Otho the thane of the Black Boar’s Tooth (killed by Cormac)
Norseman Rane, (killed by Nial)
Rognor of the golden ring. (killed by Conmac)
Viking Swane. (killed by Turlogh)
Tostig the Ogre, berserker (killed by Dulborn the Pict)
2. The second encounter, led by Oswald, lord of the Sussex plain commanding 1000 horsemen. (killed by King Geraint after Oswald kills Conal)
Aella ruler from Tweed to Tyne (killed by Nial)
Anlaf the Angle who killed Uther’s family and ravaged his kingdom (killed by Uther who cuts off his enemy’s head and displays it)
Athelfrith (killed by Angus)
Godric (killed by Cadallon)
Gulla (killed by Turlogh)
Gurth (killed by Dulborn)
Hakon the jarl (killed by Donal in a charge that kills them both)
Jan the Lith (killed by Angus)
Wulfhere, chieftain of Horsa’s line (killed by Conmac)
Wutholwine (killed by Cormac)
3. The third encounter was led by both Athelstane, a Wessex ealdorman (killed by King Geraint) and Edric of Orkney Isles, a Dane (killed by Nial); they were co-commanders of the 8,000 foot soldiers.
4. The final battle was led by King Ceawlin himself with 2000 horsemen. Under his immediate command were: