Snippets of The Prodigal Band Trilogy: Historical Context, Part Two—William of Normandy Invades Britain, and Genealogy

As with the Roman invasion of Britain under Emperor Claudius in 43 AD, the Norman invasion of Britain in 1066 AD has little context within The Prodigal Band Trilogy, except for one thing: a major spiritual character, Morwenna, aka ‘the witch of the Hovels,’ would not have had the influence she had on the prodigal band had this invasion not taken place, and had this invasion not been aided by an aristocratic family that somewhat aided the forces of William the Conqueror.

It is weird with aristocrats…throughout history, various aristocratic families have had a tendency to aid the enemies of their countrymen and that would include fellow aristocrats. But when power is to be had, aristocrats often turn against their fellows in order to gain power: Julius Caesar vs. Brutus; Tutors vs. Stuarts; the Hundred Years War between opposing yet related royal families of France and England; the Biblical split up of Israel into Israel vs. Judah, Spanish vs. Austrian Habsburgs, and many more. But the rivalry between Duke William of Normandy and England’s King Harold, as both are closely related, is somewhat complicated, which led to the Norman invasion aided by Norsemen and other English rival aristocrat families where timing was key. From the Wikipedia page on the Norman Conquest:

“The Norman Conquest (or the Conquest) was the 11th-century invasion and occupation of England by an army made up of Normans, Bretons, Flemish, and men from other French provinces, all led by the Duke of Normandy later styled William the Conqueror.

William’s claim to the English throne derived from his familial relationship with the childless Anglo-Saxon king Edward the Confessor, who may have encouraged William’s hopes for the throne. Edward died in January 1066 and was succeeded by his brother-in-law Harold Godwinson. The Norwegian king Harald Hardrada invaded northern England in September 1066 and was victorious at the Battle of Fulford, but Godwinson’s army defeated and killed Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge on 25 September. Within days, William landed in southern England. Harold marched south to oppose him, leaving a significant portion of his army in the north. Harold’s army confronted William’s invaders on 14 October at the Battle of Hastings; William’s force defeated Harold, who was killed in the engagement.”

So Vikings invaded northern England around the time Normans did? Hmmmm… Yet, if one has watched the History Channel TV series Vikings, it might make sense. It turns out William of Normandy is directly descended from Normandy’s first ruler, Rollo, a Viking (and brother to the TV show’s main character, Ragnar Lothbrok), who, after trying to conquer France in Paris, wound up marrying the Carolingian King Charles’s daughter (and supposedly converting to Christianity) and was given Normandy to rule over in 911 AD. (Note: the Carolingians are descended from Charlemagne, who took over France in 800 AD, crowned by the pope of that time.)

“In 911, the Carolingian French ruler Charles the Simple allowed a group of Vikings under their leader Rollo to settle in Normandy as part of the Treaty of Saint-Clair-sur-Epte. In exchange for the land, the Norsemen under Rollo were expected to provide protection along the coast against further Viking invaders. Their settlement proved successful, and the Vikings in the region became known as the “Northmen” from which “Normandy” and “Normans” are derived. The Normans quickly adopted the indigenous culture as they became assimilated by the French, renouncing paganism and converting to Christianity. They adopted the langue d’oïl of their new home and added features from their own Norse language, transforming it into the Norman language. They intermarried with the local population and used the territory granted to them as a base to extend the frontiers of the duchy westward, annexing territory including the Bessin, the Cotentin Peninsula and Avranches.”

So, is it possible these Viking invaders against King Harold invaded to aid in the cause of Rollo’s (I’m speculating here) great-great grandson, William? Hmmmm…. It was Rollo, then son William I, grandson Richard I, then sister of great-grandson Richard II (Edward the Confessor), then Harold, whom William considered illegitimate as he was promised the throne. And why does a Viking invasion have any context within the trilogy? For one thing, the mother of singer Erik is Norwegian—from what would turn out to be a family that had roots in the Norman invasion, as a snippet will tell later in this post.

But not just Viking aid, either. It also turns out that aristocratic families in the northern part of England at the time were also rivals to King Harold. One of these rivals was Harold’s exiled brother, Tostig, who aided Norwegian king Harald Hardrada, among others.

“Hardrada invaded northern England in early September, leading a fleet of more than 300 ships carrying perhaps 15,000 men. Harald’s army was further augmented by the forces of Tostig, who threw his support behind the Norwegian king’s bid for the throne. Advancing on York, the Norwegians defeated a northern English army under Edwin and Morcar on 20 September at the Battle of Fulford. The two earls had rushed to engage the Norwegian forces before Harold could arrive from the south. Although Harold Godwinson had married Edwin and Morcar’s sister Ealdgyth, the two earls may have distrusted Harold and feared that the king would replace Morcar with Tostig. The end result was that their forces were devastated and unable to participate in the rest of the campaigns of 1066, although the two earls survived the battle.”

And for more context with this  (and bear in mind a large part of England was under Danelaw, or “Viking rule,” for a while):

“When King Edward died at the beginning of 1066, the lack of a clear heir led to a disputed succession in which several contenders laid claim to the throne of England. Edward’s immediate successor was the Earl of Wessex, Harold Godwinson, the richest and most powerful of the English aristocrats. Harold was elected king by the Witenagemot of England and crowned by the Archbishop of York, Ealdred, although Norman propaganda claimed the ceremony was performed by Stigand, the uncanonically elected Archbishop of Canterbury. Harold was immediately challenged by two powerful neighbouring rulers. Duke William claimed that he had been promised the throne by King Edward and that Harold had sworn agreement to this; King Harald III of Norway, commonly known as Harald Hardrada, also contested the succession. His claim to the throne was based on an agreement between his predecessor, Magnus the Good, and the earlier English king, Harthacnut, whereby if either died without heir, the other would inherit both England and Norway. William and Harald at once set about assembling troops and ships to invade England.”

Now, after William took over England, rebellions took place. One listed on the Wikipedia page dealt with Yorkshire, where the dukes of Effingchester came from; these dukes do have context within the trilogy, especially in terms of genealogy.

“Early in 1069 the newly installed Norman Earl of Northumbria, Robert de Comines, and several hundred soldiers accompanying him were massacred at Durham; the Northumbrian rebellion was joined by…rebels who had taken refuge in Scotland. The… rebels besieged the Norman castle at York. William hurried north with an army, defeated the rebels outside York and pursued them into the city, massacring the inhabitants and bringing the revolt to an end. He built a second castle at York, strengthened Norman forces in Northumbria and then returned south. A subsequent local uprising was crushed by the garrison of York…”

It is stated in the trilogy that the first Duke of Effingchester, the one that captured the Red Crystal of Corion from a soldier (of King Harold) in battle, used the crystal to gain power and lands in what would become Walltown. When the first and second dukes died, the third Duke took over (they were triplets, by the way). The Third Duke and his wife had the baby Morwenna in the year 1070, born in what was called ‘the Wall Town.’ But the wife died and then duke number three married ‘an evil woman’ who gave rise to the evil duke number four, who used the crystal to send demons to burn the town in 1136 AD and forever keep the serfs he refused to liberate in bondage, within the Hovels. Drummer Tom was a descendant of those serfs (and the family was indentured). It turns out the first duke was an ally of William and was thus given those lands. And could Effingchester’s ancestors have been part Norman? The Wikipedia post claims after the conquest, most of the lands in England were given over to Normans. And it just so happens that an ancestor of one of the prodigal band members was Norman, Pordengreau—that is, an ancestor of guitarist-producer Mick.

Now, onto the more important context, the genealogies of the band members—because while having been given ‘missions of God’ to perform, all six prodigal band members wanted to know why God chose them. ‘Why us?’ they wanted to know.

The first snippet (which leads to the second and final snippet) tries to answer this question, which stems from a Walltown White Horse Pub Bible Study session featuring the prodigal band members, their women, Morwenna, pub owner Kelly, former band manager Billy, and bassist Keith’s dad, Sean Mullock. After discussing the issue of cussing (a habit among the band members), the issue of genealogy comes up, led by Bible study leader, guitarist Jack. Both this and the next snippet come from Chapter Sixteen of The Prodigal Band.

Why us?” Late July, 2003, Bible Study at the White Horse Pub, around 8 p.m.

“So, it sounds to me like the Bible says we can’t cuss anymore.”

Keith waxed regretful. He was designated by the others in the band as the ‘king of cussing.’ The Bible passage he referred to was Ephesians 4:29—‘Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.’

Pub owner Kelly, who had once told Erik and Bry to ‘keep on cussing’ the night of Mick and Julie’s engagement two years before, butted in with this pronouncement. “That’s not what that passage means, Keith. And I knew since we were studying Ephesians you’d bring that up!”

Still miffed. “You did, eh?”

“Yeh, Keith. Whenever I read that passage, I think of you!” Chortle.

Cut short by Sean Mullock. “Yeh and whenever I read that passage, I think of you, Kelly!”

Murmurs of “Oooooooo! Burn!” all around from the six and other pub goers in this weekly Bible Study session at the pub, including the women. And Morwenna. The Bible expert who could settle all arguments over what a passage really meant.

“I mean, Kelly, you the one who got me to cuss, and Billy, too.”

“Only Billy called it ‘swearing’,” Jack cut in.

“‘Cos ol’ Angus—God rest his soul—sure as hell wouldn’t let me cuss when I was a wee lad!”

“Yeh, yeh, yeh,” Kelly intoned. “But I am right. Ephesians 4:29 does not say you can’t cuss, okay? It means you should not use—the Bible defines it as profanities in many places—what we would call ‘foul language.’ Anyway, if you are trying to get someone to accept Christ as Savior, eh, you shouldn’t use cuss words or any kind of foul language.”

“By whose definition?” If Keith was the ‘king’ of cussing, Erik was the ‘prince.’ At least. “Like who gets to decide what constitutes ‘foul language’? You know who I mean.”

“Well it’s not Her Majesty, eh? And I’m sure she cusses every now and then,” Kelly answered. “But you have a point. Who gets to decide what constitutes foul language is likely the folks we might consider ‘polite society.’ Still, when the Apostle Paul spoke the words of this passage, he was saying no foul language should be used when you are trying to get someone to accept Christ. Or in any other usage in trying to speak to someone you suspect wants to ‘get saved’ if you know what I mean.”

“In other words, when I’m singing or talking to whoever about Christ or the Bible or God or uplifting type stuff, no cussing, eh?”

“Right.”

“But—when I’m with you guys? I can say, well, you know.”

“Um—well, Erik, just don’t be all—just say it as if you trying not to say it, but out of habit it comes out of your mouth anyway! ‘Cos when you’ve been saying certain words your whole life, you know, habits are hard to break, right?”

“So,” Keith chimed in, “if I say a certain word or two without intending to? Like it just comes out by force of habit—and guys, I really am trying to not cuss anymore, eh—then it’s not a sin?”

“Yeh, that’s pretty much what I’m saying.”

“Exactly,” Morwenna spoke. “As I am always reminding everyone here—every sin you make comes from a sinful heart spoken out of your mouth. If you cuss without intending to—and when do most folks cuss anyway? When they are angry, right? And anger can be sinful. If you cuss without intending to and you truly are trying to break that habit—and Keith and Erik, you both are truly trying to break that habit, eh? Then it is not sinful. Again, intent is the key.”

And, as usual, Morwenna’s pronouncements ended another discussion on what the Bible really is saying. Further, she only butted in when an argument could only be clarified if she did butt in.

“So, that’s it, eh?” Sean asked if the Bible Study over Ephesians was concluded.

Though Kelly owned the pub, Jack, on the orders of The Tooters, was the leader of Bible Studies.

“Well, that’s it if you need to go, but I fully intend on addressing an issue we in the band really need to address because this issue has only been around since The Tooters gave us ‘Let the Night Down.’ And that issue is this—why us? Why our band? Why were we chosen for this?”

“Our talent, eh? And the fact that we the ‘prophesied band’ and—”

Rolled his eyes. “Uh, Keith,” Jack smirked, “yeh we talented and all, but why? Like where did that talent come from? I don’t mean God, eh, and that’s the truth, it did come from God. But still, do you really think God just randomly picks six guys for great talent? God doesn’t do random. If He did, then some random Jew and not Paul—who was a leader of the Pharisees, right? He knew ‘the Law’ backwards and forwards. But God chose him since only a guy like that could repent, then be the Apostle to the non-Jews after he realized he was wrong when Christ actually spoke to him. Then he gets to say to the Gentiles that they are God’s children if they are inwardly—you know, Galatians 3?—chosen, if not outwardly chosen.”

Took a breath after that screed. “So, the six of us were chosen for a reason, and we need to know why. Because that’s been the burning question, eh?”

“So, God chose the six of us for a specific reason not related to some prophesy? Like how we supposed to find that out?”

“Because it goes deeper than that. Now like we know God gave us the talent. We know that. But what I’m trying to say is God gave us the means and the roots—”

“Genealogy!” Keith yelled. “Our ancestors, eh? And I know damned well where—”

Tom broke in, almost exasperated. “Well I sure as hell don’t know! I only know one thing about my ancestors—they were indentured. That’s it! I have no”—nearly cussing—“idea how it got into me to be a great drummer! None! Like I dreamed it? Bloody hell it’s got to be more than that! Erik sang in his dream, eh, but he knows bloody well where his talent came from.”

Because by 2003, the whole world knew that Erik’s grandfather was a world famous ‘crooner.’ and his great-great grandfather was a London-born opera singer in the 1880s who died very young, 26.

“So I’m saying that ancestors can be a reason, but all I know is, it’s not logical as far as I’m concerned for me.”

“But that doesn’t mean it couldn’t, Tom. For one thing, indentured folks don’t have birth certificates, right? So like how do you even know what’s in your genealogy?”

“Yeh, okay. But I don’t think that’s the only factor.”

“I agree, but we need to explore the issue anyway. Now it could be for Erik and Keith and maybe others that ancestry plays a big role, but for me and you, not so much, eh Tom? But we need to do it anyway. Because as for roots, I truly believe there is one defining root here. Could it be all six of us are related somehow?”

All Erik—with a London-born father and Norwegian mother—could say was, “Wow!”

“Which is why we need to look at two Bible passages. The first one is Titus 3:9.”

So they opened their Bibles to that passage.

“Notice the mention of the word ‘genealogy,’ and what it says is, basically, don’t get into it. But look at the context.”

Titus, a follower of Paul, was told that as a believer from Crete, he should not to listen to Jews who refused to accept Christ while calling Cretans evil people.

“Like it no longer matters, Jew or Gentile, eh? Except like Galatians says, if you are inward as a believer in Christ, or outward. Now to get a better idea, go to First Timothy 1:4.”

Which they did.

“Now here it talks about ‘endless’ genealogy. Meaning, going back and going back until basically you are back to Adam and Eve, eh? Because as Paul told Titus, it doesn’t matter anymore. But that concerns if you follow Christ, or not. That doesn’t mean we can’t try to find out somehow—and I have no idea how, but I suspect God will find a way if we are supposed to know this, eh? And I suspect God just might have this in mind. Like I said, He doesn’t do random. There is a hidden reason we were chosen.”

And it wouldn’t take too long for them to be ‘clued in’ on why, from the standpoint of being chosen by both the good and evil sides.

This leads to a conversation between Morwenna and singer Erik later at his nearby townhouse they had moved into from LA months earlier, where Morwenna gives the final clue as to why the prodigal band was chosen for the mission.

“Could all six of you be related somehow?” Morwenna faced Erik at the dining room table. She tended to eat later in the evening on Bible Study nights. “Yes, you could all be related somehow, even though your parents are not from this area while apparently most of the parents of your mates are from this area. And that is because unless you do a thorough genealogy, you can’t know if it is not the case as you have previously thought. Your father could have an ancestor from this area, or, conversely, your band mates could have ancestors from London, or even from Norway.”

“Norway?” Cocked his head in thought. “So are you saying Vikings—?”

“Yes. And, of course, the Vikings nearly also conquered all of England. Meaning, any of your band mates could have Viking ancestry.

All Erik could say to this was, “Wow!”

“But the Apostle Paul wasn’t just blowing smoke when he wrote to Titus or Timothy. Partaking in an endless genealogy is fruitless. Even if you six are somehow related, that won’t explain why God chose you six, got you together as a rock band with three configurations—the four of you, then Keith leaves and Mick and Bryan join, then Keith rejoins—and then keeps you six going despite your partaking in evil. But—”

As Erik sat there, dumbfounded.

“—here is what will explain why God chose you six. Well over eight hundred years ago—oh, and by the way, you’d be interested to know that I was born in the year 1070.”

As if being entranced at the hearing of that fateful period in English history, he then barked out in complete shock, “Oh bloody hell! Are you related to William the Conqueror?”

Of course he would say that! “No. But William of Normandy does factor into my ancestry. And you also need to know this if you don’t already. The Lambourgeaus, eh, part of Baron Torquay-Lambourgeau’s line, were also from Normandy and played a major role in the conquest. What you may not know however is that many of the aristocrats of the north in fact sided with the Normans. That is, on the promise that if the Normans conquered the southern kingdoms with their help, they would be given lands by the Normans. There was a knight from northern Yorkshire named Darrick. In some battle against the southerners, he killed a knight and became the bearer of the red crystal.”

“The first Duke of Effingchester?”

“Yes. He became a Duke by using the powers of the crystal at the age of 17 or so right after the Normans took over. Now Effingchester was a small enclave within Yorkshire that this Duke was given due to the crystal. And, in succeeding generations, the Effingchesters grew more powerful using the crystal until they owned various lands given by the Normans to them, including what would become Walltown. Walltown then was a town of several walls left from the days when the old kingdom fought against the Vikings. Walls, and houses and crop areas within, including what would become a large grove of cherries. I’m sure you know of where I speak!”

Laughs.

“Now Darrick had two brothers of the same age—triplets. After becoming the first Duke, he died in some battle and the Duke title went to the second brother, but shortly after that, Duke Two died and the title was passed to the third brother, Duke Three. And how am I related to all this? I don’t mean to shock you, Erik, but in fact I was a daughter of the third Duke of Effingchester.”

Stunned again. “Really? A real daughter, or one of those ‘prima nocte’ babies?”

She laughed. “I knew you’d bring up ‘prima nocte,’ because I had actually been told by my stepmother—I was so wayward, my stepmother thought—that I was not a legitimate child, but ‘prima nocte’ from some peasant woman on the night of her marriage to a peasant man. But in fact I was a true daughter. And my father, Duke Effingchester the Third, was a good leader who tried very hard, despite his upbringing, to not oppress the people like Duke Number Four did. For instance, most of his serfs were granted freedom. The problem was these former serfs, really peasants and fishermen, did not get their lands back that the Normans took from them. They were no longer serfs or tenant farmers, but they had to work for the Duke and get paid to do so to feed their families. They could farm the land for themselves, but could not legally own the land. So that was a point of contention as to the later peasant revolt in 1136.”

“But what about the serfs of the Hovels?”

“My father did not own them, but his son, Duke Four, bought them in a manner of trickery. These serfs did not realize that they were deceived. Duke number four told these serfs he was ‘buying their freedom.’ He did everything but!”

“So the fourth Duke is your brother?”

“By another wife, yes. My mother died in 1079, then my father married a rather evil woman, who thought I was wayward, eh? And she brought up for her own purposes a rather evil son, the fourth Duke. The same fourth Duke that refused to liberate those serfs and oppressed the peasants my own father had dealt well with. The same fourth duke that called upon the Demons to burn Walltown. Yes, he was my brother, or rather, step-brother. But keep in mind, we had the same father.”

Remembering that she later married Keith’s far-back ancestor, Mollock, he then blurted, “So what you’re saying is not only are you related to Effingchester, but so is Keith?”

“Yes, but not to the fourth Duke! Keep that in mind, please!”

Chortle. “Wait ‘til I tell me bro that! That’ll fry his pecker for sure!”

But Morwenna then got his goat. “That’s okay, Erik. You are all related to the third Duke—meaning, you are all related to me!” She then banged the table, stunning him even more.

For one of Erik’s Viking ancestors stuck around for a while in that part of the country and married another of the third Duke’s daughters, then returned to Norway after she died in the Demon fire, having had three sons that also returned to Norway, one son named Hans, leading to the Hansen clan of Stavanger. They left in the year 1139, after he had helped complete The Tooters statue and rebuild the city.

(Note: this Hansen clan gave rise to Erik’s mother.)

One of Mick’s ancestors, named Pordengreau, married one of Morwenna’s grand-daughters and they set up shop not far from Walltown after the city burn, in 1177. Pordengreau was a Norman descendant of humble birth. His grandfather came over with William of Normandy.

Tom’s family, of course, was among the serfs not liberated, later to become indentured. But they, too, were loosely related to the third Duke—through a prostitute concubine of his.

Similar to Jack’s ancestors—but through prima nocte by Duke number three, Jack’s farthest-back ancestor was among those peasant families that lost their home through Demon breath.

And, of course, Jack and Tom were her grandsons by two different daughters.

And Bry’s farthest-back ancestor was a servant woman—a concubine—of the third Duke’s household who, after delivering her son by the Duke, then married another member of the servant crew—a musician ‘court jester’ type who just happened to be a wiz at the Northumberland bagpipes, and just happened to be a McClellan from southern Scotland.

As for Mollock—the lute player who married Morwenna in 1136 was born in 1112, and was the very son of the same servant woman who married McClellan after giving birth to him, sired by Duke Effingchester the Third. So Keith and Bry were directly related to each other.

And the connection to the song and The Tooters? Each of these ancestors played their instruments in the music ensemble led by Mollock, who played mandolin as well as lute, then played by Jack’s ancestor as well. Pordengreau played a dulcimer-like instrument. Tom’s indentured ancestor played drums and Bry’s played bagpipes. And their flute player was also their singer—the man who returned to Norway.

Use the menu above to purchase the books (Bookstore) or download the FREE PDF “The Prodigal Band.”

The Prodigal Band Trilogy © 2019 by Deborah Lagarde, Battle of the Band © 1996 by Deborah Lagarde, The Prophesied Band © 1998 by Deborah Lagarde and The Prodigal Band © 2018 by Deborah Lagarde. Permission needed to copy any materials off this page.

Author: deborahlagarde

Born on Long Island, NY, in 1952, now live in the mountains of far west Texas. Began writing fiction stories at about 8 years old with pen and loose leaf paper, and created the characters in my Prodigal Band Trilogy as a teenager. From the 70s to the 90s I created the scenario which I believe was inspired. While bringing up and home schooling my two children I continued to work on the novels and published "Battle of the Band" in 1996 and "The Prophesied Band" in 1998. Took off the next several years to complete home schooling and also working as an office manager for the local POA. In 2016, I retired, then resumed The Prodigal Band, a FREE PDF book that tells the whole story to its glorious end. Hint: I'm a true believer in Christ and I'm on a mission from God, writing to future believers, not preaching to the choir. God gave me a talent and, like the band in my books, I am using that talent for His glory, not mine (and, like me, the band is on its own journey, only fictional.) I also wrote for my college newspaper and headed up production, was a columnist in a local newspaper in the early 2000s, and wrote for and edited "Log of the Trail," the news letter for the Texas Mountain Trail Writers, and wrote for and edited it's yearly catalog of writings, "Chaos West of the Pecos." OmegaBooks is my self-publishing sole proprietorship company founded in 1995. Other jobs included teaching secondary math, health aide, office worker, assembly line work, and free-lance writing and bookkeeping,much of it while home schooling.

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