Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Storytelling with Wood Carving | The Martyrdom Of King Edmund of East Anglia

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Said to be born on Christmas day in 841 in Nuremberg, Germany

Almost nothing is known about Edmund. Records or any evidence of Edmund's life

or reign were likely destroyed by viking invaders

accounts of his life were written some years later

possibly fictitious, stating that he was crowned as the king of east anglia when

he was 14 years old

it's also reported that he became a model king

kind to his subjects and generous with his wealth

a lot of these details were written by Abbo Of Fleury

an abbott from france who, upon learning of king edmund,

decided to write a biography on his life

so many of these details are to be taken with a pinch of salt

but it's an interesting story nonetheless

during, before and after king edmund's reign

it was a troubled time in britain with viking invasions coming frequently

after a successful and bloody campaign in northumbria by two of ragnar

lothbrok's purported sons Ivar and Ubba Ragnarsson. Ivar or Ivar the

boneless as he was also known ventured south to the kingdom of east

anglia in the year 869

Ivar's nickname is said to have come from some kind of bone condition

or inability to walk upon returning to his wife Auslag after

a long campaign, ragnar lothbrok wished to consummate his

marriage auslag, being a kind of clairvoyant

said that they must wait three nights before consummation

in order to avoid a curse. ragnar however did not wish to wait and

thus Ivar was born with his bone disease

upon entering east anglia, Ivar Ragnarsson sent the messenger to king edmund

he suggested that edmund submit to their rule and renounce christianity

his messenger, according to Abbo of Fleury, said the following

" My august master and unconquerable sovereign Inguar (Ivar)

a terror by land and sea, having by force of arms brought countries into

subjection to himself, has landed with a great fleet on the

desirable shores of this territory with the intention of fixing his winter

quarters here and in pursuance thereof commands you to

share with him your ancient treasures, and your hereditary wealth and to reign

in future under him

but if you hold in contempt his power, which is fortified by innumerable

battalions it will be your own prejudice as you

will be encountered unworthy to live or to reign

and who are you that you should presume to oppose such great power

the storms and tempest of the deep subverse the purpose of our fleet

and cannot turn from the accomplishment of their settled intentions

men who by grace and honor of the elements have never suffered injury from

the awful thunders of heaven or from the oft repeated lightning flash

submit therefore with all your people to the greatest of monarchs

whom the elements obey, since he is repaired in his great clemency and all

that he undertakes to spare the meek while he overwhelms

the proud"

upon hearing the message king edmund called one of his most trusted bishops

to his side to discuss the choices ahead

the king heard him for a while and listened to the bishops pleas to

submit to Ivar. He was worried for the safety of edmund

and so advised that they submit to viking rule

he stared at the floor for a moment in silence

gathering his thoughts and according to Abbo of Fleury

replied to the bishop as follows

" Bishop..... i have reached a point in my life which i never had any apprehension

see, a barbarous stranger with drawn sword menaces the old occupants of my

realm and the once prosperous natives are

reduced to sighs and groans and silence. With that those who now live and dread

of perishing by bloody death might be spared to survive

amid the beloved fields of their country even though i should fall

and that they might in course in time be restored to the brightness of their

former prosperity"

the bishop replied " How can you speak of survivors in the land?

seeing that the enemy sword has left scarcely one alive in the whole city

their axes are blunted with the slaughter of your subjects

you are left without a guard and they will bind you fast with thongs

and therefore my sovereign, dear to me as my soul

unless you seek safety and flight or have recourse to the ill-omened

alternative of surrender i fear the tormentors will soon arrive

and you will forfeit your life through the unholy execution of their orders"

" This i heartily wish and desire" replied the king

"That I not be the only survivor after my beloved thanes are slain in their beds

with their children and wives by these pirates

it was never my way to flee. I would rather die for my country if i need to

almighty god knows that i will not ever turn from worship of him, nor from his

love of truth If I die, I live"

after those final words to the bishop it is then said that king edmund

undaunted, turned to the viking messenger and spoke " Reeking as you are with the

blood of my countrymen you might justly be doomed to death, but

to speak plainly i would follow the example of christ my lord

and refrain from staining my pure hands and for his name's sake if the needs

arise i am willing and glad to perish by your

weapons therefore, return as fast as you can at

once to your lord and take forth with this message to him

" Son of the devil, never in this life will edmund submit to Ivar the Heathen war leader

leader unless he submit first the belief in the

savior christ which exists in this country" "

the messenger returned to Ivar Ragnarsson with the king's reply

which obviously wasn't particularly pleasing to his ear

he came and surrounded edmund with soldiers and ordered that he'd be bound

and brought out it's reported at this moment that he was

savagely beaten with rods and taunted before being tied to a tree

and lashed. Edmund however in what was now a depleted voice

still called out in refusal to submit this further angered the invaders and so

they shot him full of arrows filling his body with gashes and wounds

and taking him beyond any state of recovery

still a resolute voice came from the king's mouth

and so Ivar the Boneless, on the 20th of november 869

ordered that he be beheaded

upon departing after the murder of king edmund, the vikings hid his decapitated

head in the woods so that it couldn't be buried with his

body the locals decided to do a thorough

search of the thicket spreading out and shouting "Where are you?"

in hopes of some form of reply

eventually they heard a voice " Here, here, here!" and followed it into an opening

where a wolf sat protecting the head of the departed king

with its paws

king edmund's body was buried in a chapel near to where he met his fate

later his remains were taken to Beodoricsworth, which is the old name for

modern-day Bury St. Edmunds getting its name from said burial

interestingly it was the vikings of east anglia who began the cult of king edmund

the very people who were responsible for his death turned him into a saint

perhaps in an attempt to create a viking saxon identity for the people of east

anglia this of course goes against many

opinions about edmund being the representation of

anglo-saxon resistance to viking invaders

though to be honest i prefer the idea of two communities finding harmony from the

mistakes of the past

St Edmund's shrine was situated in or near the abbey of Bury St. Edmunds

and for centuries was one of the most famous and wealthy pilgrimage locations

in england visited by various kings

even after the norman conquest in 1066 the cult of St. Edmund was promoted

but unfortunately the shrine and abbey was destroyed

and stripped for parts during the dissolution of the monasteries by henry

viii St edmund was actually the patron saint

of england before edward the first changed it to

St george in 1348 if you visit Bury St Edmunds today

you can still see many references to the Martyr King

the grounds of the old abbey though now just ruins have become the abbey

gardens its entrance is actually the abbey gate

which i carried previously on this channel

there are two sculptures at roundabouts in the town

one of a wolf with a crown and the other with king edmund bound and full of

arrows an archaeological dig began in 2020

under the tennis courts in the abbey gardens

with some hope that king edmund's remains, which were moved during the

dissolution of the monasteries may lie there

this carving took 90 hours to complete and is made from limewood which is

basically the uk version of basswood

it measures one meter long 24 centimeters wide

and it's two centimeters thick the technique you see me using here is

that i'm sealing the limewood with a mixture of polyurethane and

mineral spirits or white spirits in a 50 50 ratio

so after i sealed the wood by going over it twice

I'm now mixing up a wash with oil paints and mineral spirits

the first sealing is just to make the paint application a lot more

easy, make it so the paint doesn't soak in too far into the wood

and so you can control the color a little more


i always like to do a wash every time i finish a carving it just

helps to show off some of the details and add a

bit more color to the wood the lime wood that i

have and generally lime wood and bassword and

linden wood is quite a white wood, quite pale

so quite often people will finish it with some kind of stain or color just to

bring out all the textures and the carving that you've

created on the piece of wood

this is learned from a youtube video from a woodcarver called fred zavadil

and he makes some incredible carvings and really knows how to

control the oil paints very well i actually bought the same

oil paints that he uses just so that i could try out the same

technique and see if it worked for me and so far i really love it i've used on

a few of my carvings so far you saw on the Abbeygate carving as well

as the carving of the anime character that i made

they were using the same technique

so i'm just applying it with a brush and then

taking the paint away with a piece of tissue

this is because i don't want too much of the color to sit

on the carving to start off with, i like to build it up

in layers. So i'm painting quite a lot on but then taking it off

with the tissue or sometimes with my fingers or a different brush or

something just to kind of take the color out of it

a bit and turn it more into a stain and less like just painting acrylic

straight on and in this technique here i'm just

adding some highlights and moving it around with my fingers

because i find that helps to add a little bit extra on there

and if you push the paint in with your fingers a little bit

you can then wipe it away afterwards with the tissue

and it leaves a little bit of highlight so i'm just adding a little bit of a

white highlight to the bottom of those flames there


the center section i took quite a lot of time making

because it's one of the pivotal moments in the story and one of the most

important parts of the carving so i wanted that to be represented in

the very centre and sort of draw your attention to it a


because this is when king edmund refuses to submit

to viking rule

so in the background there i used a leather stamp that you'd usually use on

leather but i decided to use it on this just to

stamp the background a bit and bring the characters a bit further

forward and then i use the stain on it again the

same stain that i used before but just layered it a bit more

it's a good thing about this painting technique you can layer

on top a few times just to make things a little bit darker

if you wait for the paint to dry and then layer on you can make it even

darker even add highlights all this kind of


so the center section is really important because

it enforces the the story that we're going with

that he was a martyr that he he gave his life for his beliefs

but there are other stories out there who

portray edmund as a coward and said rather than him defying the vikings he

ran away but it depends which story you go for

and i think the martyr angle is a lot more appealing and a lot more


the oak tree that i've carved in the carving there

is apparently a place called Hoxne in suffolk and there's actually a

monument there to king edmund which is on the very site

where the oak tree once stood [Music]

where he was tied up and shot full of arrows

i actually began to paint this part green

but then soon realized that this happened on the 20th of november

so those leaves would be very much in autumn colors by then and perhaps a

lot of them would have fallen on the ground

but i decided to go with this nice orange autumn color

[Music] so with the painting on top of the

carving of 90 hours it took around 105 hours to carve

and paint and complete this project this one i've been planning for a long

time and i've gone through many different designs

trying to figure out how i wanted it to be set out

which parts of the story i wanted to tell

it's hard to get every single element of the story

in one carving but i tried to display the main moments and give a feeling of

what things were like back then and i took some influences on style from

old medieval paintings and particularly drawings associated with Abbo of

Fleury's text that he wrote on king edmund

the border was something that came up last minute really

i looked at it for a while and kind of examined what i wanted to do

and looked up some anglo-saxon patterns from the time

and some viking patterns and i think this sort of

pyramidal repeating square type pattern around the outside would

have fit in back then with the kind of jewelry and trinkets

and art that they used to make painting it a dark colour i think makes

you focus more on the subject at hand

i've lived near Bury almost my whole life

so going into Bury St. Edmunds and seeing king edmund referenced all over

the place it's uh really cool to see that history

there and that just made me want to bring this

even more to life really so not only did it bring

out the passion and interest i have in wood

carving but also for the local history the local legends

and i want to say thanks to everyone on twitch who watched me carve this

whole thing live including the painting and for sticking

around while i was doing it i really appreciate your company and the

support you've given me same with all you guys on youtube of

course, I've had my youtube channel for quite a long time now

and i'm glad you're able to share this wood carving kind of journey that i'm

going on trying to express all the things i want

to do and trying to improve every day so thank you very much for hanging around

and i hope you really enjoyed this video and this piece and i look forward to

bringing another carving your way soon [Music]


The Description of Storytelling with Wood Carving | The Martyrdom Of King Edmund of East Anglia