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Did Hereward the Wake really exist?

"He called his sword 'Brainbiter'.
He could fight twelve people at once with it!

"He found out that Normans had taken his father's land and killed his brother.  He killed 14 Normans in revenge!"

"We can say little about Hereward for sure."
J. Bradbury.  The Battle of Hastings
(Sutton, 1998) p.229

We do not know much about Hereward.  We know he was a leader of resistance in East Anglia but it is impossible to work out what is fact and what is legend.

The Saxons know how harsh King William was, and how ferociously he would react to any resistance.  Most Saxons did not dare to get involved with any rebellion.

Saxons who were too afraid to stand up to King William could look up to Hereward.  They heard about the man who was not afraid.  As stories were told, a legend developed.

Hereward the Wake was a resistance hero.

Just like Robin Hood, he was known for standing up against cruelty.  Just like Robin Hood, the facts about him are probably very different from the legend


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Last updated Wednesday, 02 July 2003