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The Role Of The Three Chieftains In The Ballad Of The White Horse - Essay Example

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The Role Of The Three Chieftains In The Ballad Of The White Horse

Together the three chiefs present the picture of selfless courage and a conviction for a cause.
Eldred was a Franklin, not a noble man by birth, but a mighty man, huge and brave; dull of wit but warm-hearted, he hosted anyone who loitered into his ill kept farm. He was fond of ale and good food ; he loved to tend his swine and animals; issues of religion or country did not rouse him so much as did his friendship for Alfred for whom he rallied his forces. He was not enthusiastic about a fight, but he had fought fiercely in battles with Ethelred, the brother of Alfred.
Mark was an Italian whose father arrived with Caesar into England by ship; he was a confirmed Catholic and at heart a Roman. He grew pine and orchard and drank wine, the drink of Christian sacraments, and not ale like common farmers. He lived among the ruins of Roman settlements; a strong bronzed man with eyes keen like a bird and he remained unaffected by the bickering and wars of the tribes around him, and for him Rome alone counted and it was for Rome that he was going to strike a blow when Alfred asked him for help. He advised Alfred to conquer London, keep Wiltshire and the white horse Wold while he himself was for fighting to keep his own Pines and vineyard.

Colan of caerleon was partly Irish and partly welsh thus in him flowed the instincts of the Christian as well as the intuitions of the Druids. He lived in the valley of the Druids where the Usk flowed murmuring into the ghostly sea. He dreamt and sang about his race by now in ruins. His harp sang brooding songs while his sword swinging in war was a happy one."merry in war and sad while singing. His faith was imbued with Christian ideals but his Celtic past fired his spirits; danger and war drew him and his soul heeded to the CALL OF THE WILD.
Thus the motive for fighting for each of the chiefs differed. But they had the united purpose and role of being Friends of Alfred and defenders of the civilization.

Their Fight and Death

It is these three chieftains whom Alfred approached for providing spears ,bows and swords and men for the war against the Danes.

Marcus came with all his slaves in arms ,Colan with strange spears hung with ancient charms ,Eldred brought jars and stores of farm mead and rye on his farm beasts ,with his farm hands.The clan of Colan was Gaelic and wore torn and antique robes blowing wailing pipes ,and belonged to an ancient period of wars and strife. Mark's soldiers were mixed tribes of the west experienced in Arabia and Tyne.(Ballad of White Horse IV)

Though each of them was brave ,each chieftain responded differently to the war .The Saxon Eldred kept recalling his Farm and the beans there,Colan's heart was filled with the longing for his lost tribe ,and Marcus smote for the religion he strongly believed in. They had no doubt about the side they had chosen to support. But they were perturbed by the prospects of victory ...Show more


GK Chesterton says in his preface to the Ballad that King Alfred is as much a national legend as were Arthur and Roland, in that they crusaded against the Heathen nihilism , in favor of Christian civilization.
He created three fictitious chieftains as comrades in arms, fighting alongside of Alfred against the Dane Gurthrum.He explained in his Preface that the three chiefs were a triple symbol summarizing the First Crusade, representing the mixed blood of the Wessex that went to war then.
Author : shanahangordon
The Role Of The Three Chieftains In The Ballad Of The White Horse essay example
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