History becomes myth..
Hereward's place in history comes from being recognised as the 'last man standing' in the aftermath of the events of 1066, when the English Crown had fallen to a foreign foe.
On the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, where the English King Harold fell to an arrow in the eye, we learn through the Hereward story that as far as many English were concerned that was not the end of the fight.
The length and breadth of the country, over the ensuing five years, witnessesd a mighty ongoing effort led by various disaffected English nobles to rid England of the new king, William the Conqueror.
Uprising, rebellion and revolt in Dover, Exeter, Hereford, Durham, York, Chester and many other places met with defeat and by 1071 there was only the Fenlands of Eastern England that was still standing and posing a threat to William. Led by Hereward, a stout resistance followed but ultimately Ely too fell to William while Hereward made his escape.
His name passed into legend soon after and during the nineteenth century the new trend of the historical novel moulded him into a folklore hero of great fame, rivaling Robin Hood and King Arthur in popularity.
Hereward came to symbolise not just the spirit of English resistance to the Norman Conquest, but the indomitable, steadfast spirit of the English as a people throughout time. This popular narrative of Hereward, so closely linked to patriotism and empire faded from common knowledge as the British Empire was laid to rest.
In recent times the work of a number of Historians has elucidated the career of Hereward as a mercenary soldier and identified several of his 'Band of Men' - pulling his story out of the misty world of legend and in to historical authenticity.