Slek the Gentle

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Slek the Gentle
Slek the Gentle.PNG
Slek in the early fourteenth-century
Genealogical Roll of the Kings of Staynes
King of Staynes
Reign7 October 981 - 16 March 1001
Coronation3 May 982 Fort Vitrayn
PredecessorPip
SuccessorSlev I
Bornc.955
Kentos, Donomere, Caltharus
Died16 March 1001
Sander, Barkoln, Staynes
Burial
New Gartier, Aurama,
later translated to Gartmoor Abbey
SpouseEdgiva
IssueSlev I
Edith
Gælwith
Oxeya
HouseMakuh
FatherPip the Gallant
MotherKælwith

Slek the Gentle (c.955 – 16 March 1001) was King of the Staynish from 981 until his death in 1001. He was the elder son of Pip the Gallant and his wife Kælwith. When Slek succeeded to the throne, he had to defeat a challenge from his cousin Rænald, who had a strong claim to the throne as the son of Pip's elder brother and predecessor, Rænouart.

Childhood

Slek's parents, Pip and Kælwith married in 954. Her father was King Kerstas I of Donomere and her mother, Malusha, was a member of the Laulian royal family. Pip and Kælwith had four children who survived childhood. The oldest was Slek, followed by their first daughter, Mahald, who would marry Baldwar, Earl of Vitrayn. The third daughter, Emmota, married King Khasar II of Dovia and the younger son, Brisghar, was given a scholarly education, including learning Latin. This would usually suggest that he was intended for the church, but it is unlikely in Brisghar's case as he later had sons. There were also an unknown number of children who died young.

Historians estimate that Slek was born in the mid-950s and was probably born about a year after his parents' marriage. Slek was brought up with his youngest sister, Mahald. Slek led troops in battle in 972, and must have been of marriageable age later that year as his oldest daughter Ada was born about 973. According to historians in his Life of King Pip, Slek and Mahald were educated at court by male and female tutors, and read ecclesiastical and secular works in Staynish, such as the Psalms and Old Staynish poems. They were taught the courtly qualities of gentleness and humility, and historians wrote that they were obedient to their father and friendly to visitors. This is the only known case of an Anglo-Saxon prince and princess receiving the same upbringing.

Rænald's revolt

Pip died on 7 October 981 and Slek succeeded to the throne, but Rænald disputed the succession. He seized the royal estates of Horilan, symbolically important as the place where his father was initially buried, and Fort Staynnica (now Fort Staynes), both in Horkalo. Slek marched with his army to the nearby Iron Age hillfort at Bilbury Downs. Rænald declared that he would live or die at Horilan, but then left in the night and rode to Tangder, where the Tangs accepted him as king. Slek was crowned on 3 May 982 at Fort Vitrayn.

In 983, Rænald came with an army to Redrugus, and the following year he persuaded the Tangs to invade the westlands, where his army looted and then returned home. Slek retaliated by ravaging Fort Rosten and other areas around southern Corstania, but when he retreated the men of Corstania disobeyed the order to retire, and were intercepted by the Tang army. The two sides met at the Battle of the Krev on 13 September 984. According to the Staynish Chronicle, the Tangs "kept the place of slaughter", meaning that they won the battle, but they suffered heavy losses, including Rænald and a King Grenar, possibly of the South Corstanian Tangs. Corstanian losses included Segrad, ealdorman of Corstania and father of Slek's wife, Edgiva. Rænald's death ended the threat to Slek's throne.