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Hereward

Hereward (11th cent.), known as ‘the Wake’ (‘the watchful one’) was the leading figure in the fenland revolt against William the Conqueror. In 1070, the appearance of a Danish fleet in the waters of Ely raised hopes of resistance among Englishmen of that district, many of whom had Danish blood. Hereward, leading a band of outlaws and Danish allies, sacked and plundered the monastery at Peterborough, but soon afterwards the Danes agreed terms with William and sailed away. Hereward was joined by other English leaders and their men in the defence of the Isle of Ely. In 1071 William attacked with ships, constructing a causeway for his main force. The outlaw's deeds are legendary. The alleged treachery of the abbot and monks of Ely after William seized monastic lands is blamed for the ultimate surrender. Hereward escaped by water, after which nothing certain is known of him, although there are legends of subsequent adventures. His fame is as a symbol of English resistance to Norman oppression.

Audrey MacDonald

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