Eclectic Voices

Fiction, Monologues, Plays & More

The Shadow of Kings: Act 1, Scene 2b

Dinninga new play by Tyler Tanner 

A Note from Tyler:  This is the first full length play that I wrote, so be gentle. The dialogue is admittedly heightened and still could be tweaked here and there. It takes place in England after the Viking Conquest of 1015, shaping the consequences that caused the Norman Conquest of 1066. It focuses on a man named Godwin and his family. History hasn’t been kind to Godwin. With what little there is, he’s normally presented as an opportunist and a Kingmaker. Following a trick of one of my favorite authors, Sharon Kay Penman, I decided to turn him into a protagonist without tampering with the history. This is what turned out.

To read Act 1, Scene 1 & Scene 2a, CLICK HERE.
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ACT 1, Scene 2B

LIGHTS UP on a chamber room in a castle. CANUTE, a man in his late thirties/early forties and the newly conquering king of England is seated center stage on his throne. Eadric takes his place next to Canute. Various nobles, including SIWARD with guards at either side. There is a table with two goblets and a flask of wine to the side of the stage.

EADRIC: Godwin Wulfnothson, Thegn of Sussex. You stand accused of treason against King Canute. Lord and rightful Master of the Danes and Conqueror of Brit-ain.

GODWIN: I am no traitor.

EADRIC: What was that?

GODWIN: I never swore my allegiance to Canute. He is not my king. Therefore, I have committed no treason.

CANUTE: Ethelred is dead, Godwin. And so is Edmund.

GODWIN: You are not Saxon.

EADRIC: You are not Saxon, Your Grace.

Godwin remains silent, a guard looks to Eadric. Eadric makes a motion and the guard hits Godwin in the back with his pike. Godwin falls to his knees.

CANUTE: (to guard ) Stand down! (To GODWIN) The age of the Saxon is over Godwin. It’s now the time of the Vikings.

GODWIN: Brigands.

CANUTE: Conquerors.

The Court laughs in agreement.

CANUTE (CONT’D): The glory of Alfred and his offspring have passed. Except it.

EADRIC: My Lord, clearly he cannot.

CANUTE: I’m sure you have a suggestion, Eadric.

EADRIC: Dispose of him. If you let him live he will gather a loyalist force and attack you the first chance he is able.

CANUTE: Yes, but loyal to whom? There is no king to fight for. Thanks to me.

The Court laughs again.

EADRIC: Edward, possibly his brother Alfred.

CANUTE: Those little whelps in Normandy? I doubt it. Ed-mund was the legitimate heir to his fathers throne and he is now dead. Those pups from his second marriage are no longer a threat. Besides, I have plans.

EADRIC: But my Lord –

CANUTE: Leave us. All of you. Now.

EADRIC: But my Lord Canute, this man will kill-

CANUTE: You don’t think I’m capable of dealing with one man? Get out!

All present exit, except for Canute and Godwin. Canute rises from his throne, takes off his crown and pours two drinks.

CANUTE (CONT’D): Are you thirsty? You must be, you just lost a war.

Godwin looks at the goblet offered to him and then looks straight ahead.

CANUTE (CONT’D): Come. Don’t be a cliché. Drink.
Godwin still refuses by being silent. Canute places the other cup on the table and sips his own.

CaNUTE (CONT’D)
You’re an odd sort, Godwin. Here you are. Defeated and yet you refuse to admit it. What kind of man do you suppose that is, hmmm?

GODWIN: A loyal one.

CANUTE: Some would say stubborn. Loyal to whom?

GODWIN: Edward and Alfred –

CANUTE: Oh come, you fought for their half brother Edmund, you have no loyalty to them.

GODWIN: If Ethelred still has living heirs –

CANUTE: Ethelred was unready and incapable of dealing with my army. He was a tyrant and a bully. Totally in-competent! You’re reaching. And if sources are true, he held no fondness for you. Half of his thegns swore their allegiance to me barely a week after I set foot on this island.

GODWIN: Including Eadric.

CANUTE: Yes, Eadric as well. He very was useful at Ashing-don. So, Edward and Alfred, you would remain loy-al to them?

GODWIN: Yes.

CANUTE: And their mother Emma, she as well?

GODWIN: She is descended from Alfred the Great. Yes.

CANUTE: What if I told you there was a way to be loyal to both?

GODWIN: …..I’m afraid Danish reason defies Saxon logic.

CANUTE: Then attend! I will wed Emma. Any offspring will be both Saxon and Dane. Edward and Alfred would be under my protection. Of course they would still remain in Normandy and out of the way, but it re-connects the boys lineage to the throne.

GODWIN: I must admit that is a possibility. But what of your son?

CANUTE: Harold. He will stay in Norfolk. His mother will manage my territories in Denmark, but there is little need for concern. Bastards never make good rulers. Thanks to my new bride, our new heir will have the bloodline of your legendary Saxon Alfred the Great. Both sides are happy.

GODWIN: Why now the concern for Saxons? And why are you telling me this?

CANUTE: Our people have been fighting for over one hundred years. We raid, you beat us back. We defeat you, you rebel. The only way to have peace is through my marriage to Emma. Our future son would then be undisputed ruler with both Viking and Saxon bloodlines. I need you to convince the Witan that this will work.

GODWIN: You plan on keeping the Witan?

CANUTE: Yes. The Witan has counseled your Kings for years. I see no reason why I can’t benefit from their advice as well. It’s their country and I am, after all, just a stranger in this land. But it is mired in bureaucracy and infighting. The idea of the Witan is sound, but it does not have strong leadership. Leaving a bunch of fools with their heads filled with pride and power who think they know what’s best does not make for good government. It leaves you weak and open for attack. Disunity. That, dear Saxon, is why we won. As a result, Saxons are now, and will always be a conquered people. Tell me I’m wrong.

Godwin remains silent, then –

GODWIN: Again, what does this have to do with me?

CANUTE: You will be my liaison to the Saxons. I need their support. I want to rule, Godwin. Not tyrannize. I want peace, and so do your people. We keep Saxon tradition with Viking ideals. As to why I choose you, it’s because of the kind of man that you are.

Canute puts his crown on, sits back down on his throne, takes a dagger out and toys with it.

CANUTE (CONT’D): Come!

The Guards and nobles enter.

CANUTE (CONT’D): (pointing) You, you, Eadric and Northmen. Forward.

The thegns mentioned step forward. Canute non-threateningly gestures with his knife

EADRIC: We humbly and respectfully –

CANUTE: Yes, yes, yes enough of that. Eadric.

EADRIC: Your Grace.

CANUTE: Tell me why are you loyal.

EADRIC: You …… are powerful, my Lord.

CANUTE: I am that. But if another, more formidable, power came to threaten England. Would you still swear your allegiance to me?

EADRIC: There is no one in this kingdom more powerful than you, King Canute.

CANUTE: Slippery Eadric. Ethelred and Edmund.

EADRIC: Yes, my Lord?

CANUTE: Did you and the rest say the same to them before you and turned tail and fled to me?

EADRIC: My … Lord.. My Lord when they –

CANUTE: (stands up, knife still in his hand) Lets talk of your land.

EADRIC: My land?

CANUTE: Yes. I’ve decided to give your province of Mercia to Leofric.

EADRIC: To that boy? His father died fighting you. He and Godwin have opposed you since-

CANUTE: Yes, and they maintained allegiance to their king and their people. They have kept their honor. You, however, you and the rest of your lot deserted! And if you’ve betrayed one king, you’ll betray another!

Eadric draws his dagger, but Canute is quicker and stabs Eadric in the stomach. Eadric falls and dies.

CANUTE (CONT’D): (to guards) Execute them.

Some of the guards salute and take the traitorous nobles away screaming. He points to Eadric’s corpse.

CANUTE (CONT’D): (to other guards) And throw that over the wall. Let it rot.

The rest of the guards salute and exit offstage carrying Eadric. Canute takes the two goblets, crosses to Godwin, and again offers the other cup.

CANUTE (CONT’D): To Unity and Honor, Godwin.

Godwin takes the cup.

LIGHTS OUT

TO BE CONTINUED…

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Originally from Texas, Tyler Tanner, as a young lad, dreamed of becoming the next Don Dokken. At Lon Morris College his musical tastes refined and realized he was more of a Robert Goulet type. He then tried his hand at writing comedy. It started with an online comedy troupe called What’s Wrong With Wally, then evolved to Tres Grimm at The Met and a late night serial comedies at Sacred Fools and The Eclectic. He has now “matured” to drama where he incorporated his wittiness and love of history into a monologue called “A Life” which played also at the Eclectic.

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7 comments on “The Shadow of Kings: Act 1, Scene 2b

  1. sarastarkwrites
    July 14, 2014

    I like it. I just wish I knew more about history, but this makes me want to read about that time period.

  2. b00kreader
    July 14, 2014

    I like this, but be careful some of your word choices sound out of place for 11th century, like cliche. I cannot wait to read the next instalment.

  3. Tyler
    July 16, 2014

    Thanks for the comments guys! Yes, I agree b00k: “Cliche” always clunked for me too. I never went back and changed it. Sara, you have validated me telling these stories! I you want to read more about the time period, then I’ve done my job. Yay!

  4. Tyler
    July 16, 2014

    Sorry. The last sentence should read: If you want to read more about the time period, then I’ve done my job.

  5. jessmbaum
    July 19, 2014

    It pulled me in which is always the first obstacle with me, keeping my attention is the next and you did. I haven’t read many plays lately so I have little to compare it to but nice work.

  6. Tyler Tanner
    July 19, 2014

    Thanks Jessmbaum!

  7. deancameron
    September 28, 2014

    This is really cool. I like that there is the history “lesson” but it’s not dry; the characters are interesting and Godwin is conflicted.

    My note – I think the last two words here: CANUTE (CONT’D): The glory of Alfred and his offspring have passed. Except it.

    Should read: Accept it.

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This entry was posted on July 14, 2014 by in Playwriting and tagged , , , , , , , .
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