The Secret Origins of Eldred of Harding

The much anticipated second installment of our SECRET ORIGINS series …

Come meet the members of the Medical VS class in these exciting features. Learn their stories, their medical training, their combat skills AND find out how each one met their unfortunate demise.

Eldred of Harding

Eldred was born in the year 847 AD in Berkshire, England. The third son of a Saxon nobleman of the house of Harding, he was originally given a religious education at Cookham Abbey which included a great deal of medical instruction. However, he was forced to abandon this in 867 AD as his family fled the invading Viking hordes of the Great Heathen Army.

At the age of 19, he found himself at the court of King Ethelred of Wessex. Desiring a more adventurous lifestyle than the monastery provided, he used his father’s influence to gain a post as a cavalryman in the Saxon army under the command of the king’s brother Alfred, who would eventually become King Alfred the Great. In 868 AD, the Great Heathen Army under the Viking commander Ivar the Boneless pushed into Saxon lands and Eldred fought alongside Alfred to stall them at Nottingham. He distinguished himself at the Battle of Ashdown in 871 AD and quickly became one of Alfred’s most trusted allies.

By 872 AD Ethelred was dead and Alfred was king, but he was often troubled by chronic health issues. Eldred was able to use his medical training to minister to the king’s illnesses including the compounding of antibiotic ointments from garlic and cow’s bile. While wintering in the stronghold at Chippenham in 878, Alfred was attacked by Viking armies. Eldred sacrificed himself to allow Alfred to escape. Alfred got his revenge later that year in the Battle of Edington which saw the final defeat of the Great Heathen Army. After his death, Eldred was honoured by Alfred who saw to it that his medical remedies were preserved for posterity. They were eventually set down in the most pre-eminent Anglo-Saxon medical text known today, Bald’s Leechbook.

Eldred fights with the broadsword and mace. He is also skilled in the use of the lance and bow. He has a penchant for disabling his opponents, then mending them.

He has declared an interest in internal medicine with a particular interest in infectious diseases. He is currently debating the merits and drawbacks of sub-specialty training.

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