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Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 9:45 pm
by giantlemon
I know that the fictional character is based on a real character, (Uhtred of Banburgh?) and although I know that Cromwell does keep high standards of authenticity I was wondering if he is accurate on his portrayel of clothing, for example when Uhtred is a 'war lord' in full mail armour with arm rings etc. Any advice or information would be gratefully recieved.

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:55 am
by Neil of Ormsheim
Take his "accuracy" with a pinch of salt. In the first book of the series, the locals of Northumbria are said to be wearing helmets with face-plates on them - a la Sutton Hoo. From what I have read of the rest, the clothing does not seem too outlandish.

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 10:39 am
by Andy R
He makes a few stinkers - he had Derfel riding with his feet tucked in the girth to stop him falling off (The Arthur series) which is just stupid.

That said, I enjoy his books immensely and I am just reading the Burning Land at the moment (and most of it is set where I live, so it will be interested to see how he describes it)

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 4:40 pm
by giantlemon
cheers guys

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:49 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Bernard Cornwell does claim to do a lot of research for his characters & time periods, but he does make some quite obvious & glaring errors in all his books which if he has done his research properly ought not to make.

It can be argued that some of the errors can be down to artistic license to make sections of the story more interesting, but clearly some gaffs are as has been pointed out, silly. Ironically I consider that getting it right might actually improve some of the story lines.

Phrase of the day is & remains "Pinch of salt"

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 10:44 am
by Marcus Woodhouse
The key thing about Cornwall and any author of historical fiction is that no matter how much (or little) research they have done it is still a work of fiction.
I have lost count (and patience) with the number of WOTR re-enactors who quote the Sunne in Splendour as if it is an actual record of the life and times of Richard Glous. and Anne Neville. They're as bad as the numptys who think the Da Vinci Code et al is actually clueing them up on the secret cabals that are ruling the world behind the scenes.
For instance, when I did my MA on Celtic studies with a focus upon the Celtic Church (albeit of the 6th -10th centuries rather than the 4th-5th) there was a lot of eviedence to support claims that in Ireland the interaction between "pagan" druids and Christian missionaries was largely amicable, not least in the way the Celtic church adapted/adopted various customs, festivals and even deities (under the guise of being Christian Saints). Of course the druidic cults in Ireland were different than those of Wales/England not least because they survived the Roman invasion whereas those in your part of the world had been pretty well wiped out or subsumed as part of the Roman panopoly of gods/goddesses.
In fact what I found was that until the reigns of Charlemagne and Alfred there was very little persecution of pagans or attempts to focably convert them to Christianity. That, though does not fit into Bernard Cornwalls viewpoint of the Church as a force of evil.

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 11:25 am
by Simon Atford
One slightly jarring thing about Cornwell's writing is his use of the phrase "like a charnel house" to describe the aftermath of bloody siege. It's something he's done since Sharpe. A charnel house is of course a place for storing bones and therefore nothing like a breach strewn with gore and dead bodies at all.

Rather pedantic I know :wink:

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Fri Mar 19, 2010 1:50 pm
by Marcus Woodhouse
I think that every main charcater (even his one female one) is essentially Sharpe in different clothes.

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 8:38 pm
by Sir Thomas Hylton
Not totally convinced about the Sharpe in different clothes analogy, as all his key characters do have significant differences. Though if there is a failing for most of his other character is the continual anti-church attitude of most of his more recent main characters since the books about Arthur. So if there is one continued thread from one character to the next its exactly this.

Must agree with you about the trap some can sometimes fall into with historical fiction.

However, if reading certain Historical novels makes us read up on a subject to find out the truth (maybe not the best word choice) of the history rather than the fiction of history, its cannot be all bad.

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:54 pm
by Simon Atford
Although he's known for series - Sharpe, Warlord Chronicles, Grail Quest etc. some of his more interesting books are the stand alone ones like Redcoat (set in American War of Independence) or Gallows Thief.

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:45 pm
by giantlemon
I have bought the Redcoat but i haven't got round to reading it yet. When is the gallows thief set?

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:29 pm
by Simon Atford
Gallows Theif is set in the period after Waterloo. The main character is ex-army but quite different to Sharpe.

Re: Historical Accuracy of Uhtred of Bebbanburg

Posted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 11:08 pm
by giantlemon
Sounds like another one to add to the ever-growing pile of books I need to read.