Hereward the Wake

Hereward the Wake : Last of the English, By Charles Kingsley A NOVEL

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Hereward the Wake: Last of the English (also published as Hereward, the Last of the English) is an 1866 novel by Charles Kingsley. It tells the story of Hereward, the last Anglo-Saxon holdout against the Normans. It was Kingsley's last historical novel, and was instrumental in elevating Hereward into an English folk-hero. Hereward is, in Kingsley's novel, the son of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, and Lady Godiva. He is introduced as an eighteen-year-old "bully and the ruffian of the fens" who is outlawed by Edward the Confessor at the request of his father. He sets off to see the world in the company of his boyhood friend Martin Lightfoot. In one adventure he defeats a caged polar bear in single combat in the north of England. He brawls his way through Cornwall and eventually turns up at the court of Baldwin of Flanders. Once there, he demonstrates his prowess against Baldwin's knights, and wins the love of Torfrida whom he marries. Three years after the Norman Conquest, Hereward and Martin return to England and discover the brutality of the Norman regime. Hereward takes revenge on the Normans who killed his brother. At a drunken feast he kills fifteen of them, with the assistance of Martin Lightfoot. Hereward then musters a force of English rebels and takes up camp at Ely in the Fens. William of Normandy leads a host of mercenaries against Ely but they are repulsed with heavy losses when the English set fire to the surrounding reeds. In spite of this victory Hereward's resistance is worn down by the Norman invaders and the intrigues of the Countess Alftruda who separates the hero from Torfrida. Herward eventually swears loyalty to William, acknowledging that the Norman is indeed king of all England. Married to Alftruda, Lord of Bourne and in favor with the king, Hereward is still hated by the "French" (Norman) nobles, most of whom have lost kinsmen fighting against him, Finally Hereward's prime enemy, Ivo Taillebois, surprises him in his ancestral home, where fighting almost alone he is killed after a brutal struggle. Charles Kingsley (12 June 1819 - 23 January 1875) was a broad church priest of the Church of England, a university professor, social reformer, historian and novelist. He is particularly associated with Christian socialism, the working men's college, and forming labour cooperatives that failed but led to the working reforms of the progressive era. He was a friend and correspondent with Charles Darwin.
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78 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 32% (25)
4 27% (21)
3 27% (21)
2 13% (10)
1 1% (1)
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