Season three of Route Awakening is now airing in China, with some thirty or so other countries fast behind it. You can see the trailer here for glimpses of me getting attacked by Kam tribesmen in fancy dress in a muddy pond, witnessing the shamanic rituals of the Gorlos Mongols, and sundry other explorations among China’s ethnic minority groups. The picture above is my favourite from the shoot, taken by Mack Zhang, our fixer, of me and Daniel the director of photography, interviewing the village “Ghost Master” in Tang-an, Guizhou.
Greetings from Bulgaria.Currently I am reading your book “The Wikings”.It is very contemporary and corresponds to my understanding of historical facts and events.Enjoyed it very much.
In Bulgarian history books the name of the Norwegian king Harald Hardrada is a prominent one.Many facts concerning his stay in Constantinople are described in Bulgarian history books but you give a more detailed facts for his life and I have obtained a deeper understandig of him.
In our history it is said there was a stone writing on a lion statue that could be seen on the Venetian port and describes all his relations to Peter Delyan’s uprising in 1040.In our literature Hardrada is also called “The tall one”.
In my opinion,you have described Harald Hardrada in a very remarkable way and I really enjoyed the style.
Thank you, Krasimir. I think you are referring to the Piraeus Lion, now in Venice, but orginally in the Piraeus harbour of Athens. It has runes carved on it which are very difficult to read, but which have been interpreted by some as containing reference to one “Harald the Tall.” However, the most likely translation is: “They cut him down in the midst of his forces. But in the harbor the men cut runes by the sea in memory of Horsi, a good warrior. The Swedes set this on the lion. He went his way with good counsel, gold he won in his travels. The warriors cut runes, hewed them in an ornamental scroll. Æskell (Áskell) [and others] and Þorlæifʀ (Þorleifr) had them well cut, they who lived in Roslagen. [N. N.] son of [N. N.] cut these runes. Ulfʀ (Úlfr) and [N. N.] colored them in memory of Horsi. He won gold in his travels.”
Thank you for your time.Would it be convenient for you if I asked you several questions as amateur historian?Would it be of interest to you if I sent you the interpretation of the Norwegian scholar Sophus Bugge?
Sure, ask away. But I’m already familiar with Bugge’s interpretation of what’s written on the lion. It’s very difficult for anyone to come up with anything clear, because the inscription is so badly eroded.
That’s very kind of you.I hope my questions won’t cause annoyance.The history of the world is very intriguing subject to me.Studying world’s history helps me understand Bulgarian one better.It seems to me the wikings were represented in the same way both in Bulgarian and foreign text books.
Let’s leave aside the inscription on the lion since it is illegible for most part.Maria someone you mention in your book,is perhaps a daughter of queen Maria who was taken to Constantinople as a court lady in 1018 and was the wife of the last Bulgarian king.At least that is what is written in a non-credible source.One of Hardrada’s daughters is also named Maria according to wikipedia.Wha’t is your opinion on the matter?
Are there any golden coins from the reign of Constantine IX Monomachos,Michael IV the Paphlagonian and Zoe in British museums?
The inscription on the lion is indeed hard to read, but the debate on its content is divided between those who have been working from copies, and those who have been able to see it for themselves. Sophus Bugge, for example, radically changed his opinion on the meaning of the runes once he had actually seen the real thing up close.
The Maria that Harald Hadraada hoped to marry was a handmaiden of Empress Zoe, so might well have been Bulgarian, but I don’t think Heimskringla gives her nationality. Harald did indeed have a daughter called Maria, which is noteworthy because it is the first documented case of that name being used in Scandinavia. Maybe he just couldn’t forget a Bulgarian girl from his youth.
I have no idea what coins are in the British Museum, sorry.
I’m very grateful for the time you took to answer my questions.I’ll try to satisfy my curiosity by reading twice your book and perhaps look for other books you have written:”Pirate king”,”The moon in the pines”,”Confucius: A Biography”.But still some of the meaning is lost in the translation.
Nonetheless I can guarantee my copy of “Wikings”is not stolen by any means but borrowed from a public library.
Wishing you health,wealth , happiness and creative achievements!