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Hereward the Wake

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2013-07-15. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-05-18.

Hereward the Wake (c. 1035–1072), Hereward the Outlaw, Hereward the Exile or Hereward the Saxon, was a leader of Anglo-Danish resistance against the Norman invasion. His base was in the Isle of Ely and surrounding areas, North Cambridgeshire, South Lincolnshire and West Norfolk. The primary sources for our knwoledge of Hereward and his deeds are the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, Domesday Book, Liber Eliensis and, especially, the Gesta Herwardi. Written in the first third of the 12th cent., the latter was based on a now lost Old English text. It details the birth, upbringing and career of Hereward. The tale is a mixture of fantastic events in distant lands and more down to earth accounts of guerilla warfare in the Fens. In the mix are also tales of trickery, ruse and disguise that often foreshadow the tales of Robin Hood and other outlaws.

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