Ἡ New England, τῆς Κριμαίας

in the aftermath of the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, a group of English lords who hated William the Conqueror’s rule but had lost all hope of overthrowing it decided to sell up their land and leave England forever. Led by an ‘earl of Gloucester’ named Sigurðr (Stanardus in the Chronicon Laudunensis), they set out with 350 ships—235 in the CL—for the Mediterranean via the Straits of Gibraltar. Once there, they voyaged around raiding and adventuring for a period, before learning that Constantinople was being besieged (either whilst they were in Sicily, according to the Edwardsaga, or in Sardinia, as the CL). Hearing this, they decided to set sail for Constantinople to assist the Byzantine emperor. When they reached there, they fought victoriously for the emperor and so earned his gratitude, with the result that they were offered a place of honour in his Varangian Guard. […] In conclusion, the above points would seem to add some considerable weight to the case for the existence of a ‘New England’ on the northern and north-eastern coast of the Black Sea in the medieval period. Not only does it seem that the Byzantine Empire regained control of that portion of the Black Sea coast in this period, just as the Edwardsaga/Chronicon Laudunensis claim, but there also exists a quantity of medieval place-name evidence from this region that offers significant support for the establishment of English Varangian settlements there and a thirteenth-century account that appears to refer to the continued existence of a Christian people named the Saxi in this area, who occupied defended cities and were militarily sophisticated. In such circumstances, the most credible solution is surely that the medieval tales of a Nova Anglia, ‘New England’, in the area of the Crimean peninsula and north-eastern Black Sea coast do indeed have a basis in reality. This territory would appear to have been established by the late eleventh-century Anglo-Saxon exiles who had left England after the Norman Conquest and joined the Byzantine emperor’s Varangian Guard, and their control of at least some land and cities here apparently persisted for several centuries, perhaps thus providing a regular supply of ‘English Varangians’ to the Byzantine Empire that helps to explain why the ‘native tongue’ of the Varangian Guard continued to be English as late as the mid-fourteenth century.

Πηγή

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