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Thread: Arthur's Tale

  1. #1
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Arthur's Tale

    PREFACE

    Boniface, a servant of the Lord and by His good grace, prior of the Cistercian House of Roche in the County of Yorkshire to my lady Rosamunde, greetings. Forasmuch as it has pleased your ladyship to make enquiries regarding the life of Arthur, late of blessed memory, although I am but a humble scribe, I trust that you will permit me to lay before you now the true story of his life. I know before God and all his saints that it is true, for although I am an old man now, when I was young and scarcely a twelvemonth in my Order, I had the story from the very lips of Arthur himself. This is no Vita Arthuriensis in the traditional sense, for the words are his and written in the first person as dictated to me (although he was an educated and great man, he never mastered the mysteries of writing). The words are true, but my memory and eyesight are not what they were, and if by any chance, God forbid it, I have erred in my recollections or transcriptions of my notes taken at the time, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. May God have mercy upon Arthur and grant his soul peace and refreshment and may light perpetual shine upon him. This is Arthur’s Tale.

    Item: CONCERNING MY BIRTH

    I was born in the town of Nantes in April in the year of Grace 1186. In those days, as now, we did not reckon the exact date, but it was after Easter, and I recall my mother telling me that the songbirds were in full voice, and the meadows dappled with spring flowers – periwinkles and poppies, celandine and cornflowers – so maybe it was towards the end of that marvellous month.

    My mother was Constance of Penthievre, a gentle yet determined lady who took a keen and personal interest in my upbringing. For one born of noble blood this was most unusual; not for me a wet-nurse, but instead my own mother’s milk. Now that I am nearer to death than to birth this is a source of great pride and comfort, but when I was but a child, I was frequently called a mummy’s boy and ridiculed by those, admittedly low-born, children with whom I occasionally spent my time. Verily, my mother was a wonderful person who would have done anything for me, even lain down her life had it ever been so demanded. I was her fourth child, but her first son, and I truly think she had given up hope of ever providing her lord, my father, with the son he so cherished, for she was around 25 summers old when I was born and would soon be approaching the end of her child bearing days. I shall return soon and often to my mother, for she was by far the most important person in my childhood, but now it is time to speak of my father, because for all my mother’s gentility and love, it was my father’s blood that marked out my destiny.

    That blood was the royal blood of England, for my father was Geoffrey the Angevin, but known increasingly as Geoffrey Plantagenet, a nickname coined by his grandfather, another Geoffrey, from the sprig of bloom that he oft-times wore on his bonnet. Father was one of the brood of vipers that had sprung from the fertile loins of Henry Plantagenet, the second of that name to be king of England. It is now, of course, common knowledge how Henry, a direct descendant of the great Conqueror himself through his mother Mathilde, had become king upon the death of his cousin Stephen. This Henry had married the formidable lady Eleanor of Aquitaine, and she had provided him with a succession of sons, of which my father was the fourth born. However, his two eldest brothers died before their father (it was said that the death of young Henry stole all the life force from his father king Henry) and thus for a while, father found himself separated from the throne of England only by the life of his remaining older brother, Richard, coeur-de-lion as he became know. He it was who became king upon the death of King Henry in December 1192. My father’s other brother, and my other surviving uncle was named John. He was said to be his father’s favourite; I know not whether this be true, but apparently the three surviving brothers fought oft with their father the king and fell into disagreement and quarrels with one another as easily and as regularly as the sun rises and sets in the heavens.


    It was in fact to one of these quarrels that I owed my early accession as Duke of Brittany. This had been my father’s principal title, but after one of his frequent arguments with his son my father, the king had forced Geoffrey to relinquish his title as duke of Brittany and elevated me, a mere babe in arms, to the dignity and honour of that ancient title. My father retained his title of Earl of York, for I suppose that even in his anger, the king my grandfather could not see his son disinherited entirely. A consequence of this action was that my mother spent her time with me in Brittany, away from my father’s side in York. Mother said how he would visit her periodically, but that over time, these visits became less and less frequent until in time he stopped calling altogether. Thus was I swaddled and weaned in the bleak citadel of Nantes, subjected as it was and is to the frequent Atlantic storms that batter the old town, especially in the winter months. Meanwhile, my elder sisters were in far away York with my father, for whilst he tolerated his father’s decision, possibly for my sake, he was determined not to lose control of his daughters, for despite his fierce temper and rashness, he loved my sisters with that tenderness only possible between father and daughter, and which, by dint of gender and geography was denied me.

    I spoke of my father’s royal blood as being my destiny, and so it was, yet my mother could also claim royal descent for she was the daughter of Margaret, a princess of Scotland, who had married Conan, duke of Brittany. Some even say that as the duchy fell into Angevin hands, she reigned briefly as duke, although the title was soon conferred upon her husband, my father, Geoffrey, upon their marriage. Needless to say though, after my father was stripped of his title, and with me still sucking on my mother’s nipple, she assumed effective control of the duchy through a regency council until I came of age, and much of what follows in my early years, was the direct consequence of her actions rather than my own. As I grew in age and wisdom, I became increasingly grateful for her wise and sensible stewardship of my domain, such that by the time I was of age and entered my majority, I inherited a duchy with a well-developed infrastructure, inhabited by people with such a positive disposition to my mother and her rule, that I was accepted without demur throughout the length and breadth of my lands.

    The game setup gave me a few problems vis a vis historical reality and forced me to take some liberties to establish a rationale for the AAR. IRL, Arthur was born posthumously on 29 March 1187 (in the scenario he is born at the end of April 1186). His ancestry is as described, but his father Geoffrey, died in August 1186, the result of his horse falling on him in a tournament near Paris. Thus IRL Arthur inherited his title posthumously, but legitimately. However, in the game, Geoffrey is alive and kicking as Count of York, with the infant Arthur ensconced as Duke of Brittany. His mother, Constance, is however, a courtier of his in Brittany, and not of York as I would have expected? Given the well-documented and turbulent relationships between Henry II and his sons, it seemed to me entirely conceivable that the king should revoke Geoffrey’s title as Duke of Brittany and hand it to Arthur instead. IRL I imagine this would have created considerable tension between father and son, but unfortunately the game dynamic cannot do this for me as the revocation is my device. I shall endeavour, of course, to develop this aspect of the storyline as it unfolds. Curiously, Arthur is a vassal of Phillippe II Augustus and not Henry II. So far all characters are in game, apart from our scribe Boniface, and the lady to whom his work is dedicated, Rosamunde. Arthur’s birth stats by the way are not massively impressive at 4/6/7/6. he starts with 100 each of gold, prestige and piety. He is born deceitful (hardly surprising as an Angevin!) and zealous. The game is normal/normal patch 1.04a.
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  2. #2
    Undead Dutchman Dead William's Avatar
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    The infighting of the Angevins is an excellent explanation of a knotty problem. I suppose such things do tend to creep in, though I seem to recall this one was solved in one of the Beta's. Good luck and godspeed and may Boniface live long enough to complete his great story.

    Edit: complete instead of coplete. I should be going to bed...

  3. #3
    Remember Carcosa! Fiftypence's Avatar
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    A very nice intro. I'll look forward to seeing how this goes

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    Meddler Sublime RPG Leader Velasco's Avatar

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    Looking forward to this AAr, im obsessed with the Angevins lol!
    Go Arthur!

  5. #5
    Second Lieutenant Maccavelli's Avatar
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    This looks good lets hope its as good as your flanders one i hae faith in you rex you will keep us entertained keep up the good work.

  6. #6
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Fiftypence, Velasco, Maccavelli, Thanks for stopping by and for your supportive comments. This first chapter was really all about setting the scene. Because Arthur is a baby, there's not a lot of action in the first few years which is partly why I used the device of a scribe, Boniface. Hopefully I've done this without plagiarising other's styles; I've used the scribe quite differently to Stnylan in his Somerset AAR for instance, although the overall theme is obviously similar. It's quite a challenge after the success of In Flanders Fields; I was really overwhelmed by the many kind comments I received on what was my first attempt at an AAR. This one is different in style, but I am pleased with what I've got up my sleeve so far and I hope you won't be disappointed. Need to play some of the game tonight if I can stay awake, having been up late last night following the election.
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  7. #7
    Meddler Sublime RPG Leader Velasco's Avatar

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    Wooooooooohooooooo Labour won! Cannae wait to get EMAs (hope i qualify)...
    *coughs, clearing throat*
    oh yeh, looking forward to the next post!

  8. #8
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Item: REGARDING MY REALM

    Mother was not only Regent and chief amongst my counsellors, but she was also steward of the Duchy of Brittany. In such a matriarchy, it is no surprise perhaps to note that my chancellor was the lady Almodis of Pontchateau, and that lady Julienne of Nantes was my spymaster. As a child I used to imagine that had a female marshal been a possibility then my mother would surely have appointed one. As it was, she had to make do with Henri of Nantes, a mere man. All of them acted for me and on my behalf and held their authority directly from me, albeit as ordained by my mother. (Arthur’s effective stats 10/14/20/14).

    The ladies in particular must have been very effective and very beautiful, for when I was older and able to read the chancellery records, I saw that in my early years, many offers of marriage were received for the hand of both the lady Almodis and lady Julienne and indeed for other ladies about my court. It seems that all of these were declined by my mother, apart from one, when lady Sybilla de Nantes was betrothed to and later married Alain, Count of Penthievre, my vassal.

    And what of the lands themselves. At the time I ruled over four counties that comprised the ducal demesne. Nantes was my principal seat and the richest of my lands. The town of Nantes stands towards the mouth of the Loire, said to be the greatest river in France. In summer the climate is benign and gentle, yet in winter it can be a bleak place, damp and chilly and windy, often subject to the whims of the Atlantic storms that rage across the Bay of Biscay, on whose northern curve the river empties itself. Rennes was the next most prosperous county, and lies due north of Nantes, stretching up to the Manche. Its principal town is Rennes itself, which lies inland at the confluence of the rivers Ile and Vilaine. The combined river flows north to the sea and the county’s main port of Dinard. Northwest of Nantes lies Vannes, a poorer place with a long history of fishing and seafaring, and then farthest away from Nantes lies Cornouaille. This is even poorer than Vannes, with a rocky coastline exposed to the full venom of the Atlantic. The north coast of the duchy was occupied by the lands of my two vassals. Leon in the west was under the rule of Guyomarch de Leon, whilst Penthievre, sandwiched between Leon and Rennes was ruled over by Alain de Penthievre in those days. Both men were devotedly loyal to me despite my youth, a legacy of my mother’s good lordship and stewardship during my minority.

    Taken as a whole, Brittany is a land of contrast. Its northern and western shores are rocky and barren, and the sea has carved marvellous shapes and sculptures out of the grey, black and pink rocks. Inland, the countryside is gentle and grassy, and provides good farmland for its inhabitants. It is also dotted by mysterious stone circles, said to have been left by giants who long ago inhabited these parts. Bretons are thus both good farmers and good sailors, and hardened by the exigencies of the winter climate especially, make good soldiers. They also value their independence, for although I was sworn in fealty to King Phillippe II in far away Paris, the distance between that fabled city and my own lands was great enough for the king not to bother over much with what he undoubtedly saw as a barren wilderness on the very edge of his realm. In fact I never met the man during my entire childhood, homage having been sworn on my behalf due to my youth and the distance to Paris.

    Item: KING HENRY

    One of my earliest childhood memories however is of King Henry, my grandfather. The Angevin empire over which he ruled included not only all of England, but much of western France too, notably Aquitaine, Maine, Touraine, Normandy and of course Anjou. I believe it must have been on one of his visits maybe to Anjou that he came to Nantes. Although I can only have been less than 7 years old (for Henry died in December 1192) I remember him as a rather short, barrel chested man with grizzled sandy hair, now shot through with streaks of grey, but also showing vestiges of the fiery red that it had once been. He was like a coiled spring, his energy and dynamism seemingly held under control only with difficulty. He was pleasant enough with me from what I can recall, but there was little real affection, and I was relieved to be released from his presence after but a short while. I did sit at his right hand at a banquet he held – I suppose in my honour for I was at the time nominally third in line to his throne behind my uncle Richard and my father. Later on when I was told of his death, all I can remember feeling was a curious pleasure that now I was second in line to the throne of England. Uncle, now King, Richard, I had never met.

    Item: STEWARDSHIP

    Mother was a diligent and competent steward and administered my lands wisely whilst I was a child. She had ordered that roads in the duchy should be better maintained, linking Nantes with Rennes and Vannes more easily, and then later on, that more extensive road networks should be created to benefit more outlying villages and hamlets.

    She was also responsible for building the first library in Nantes and then a second one in Rennes. Some apparently said that this was an expensive affectation, for only few folk could read, but as a repository of wisdom and knowledge the libraries were intended to provide a general benefit for all Bretons by hastening the development of knowledge and science amongst all people. There was a school within Nantes where monks taught Latin and grammar and logic to the select few whose rank or wealth commanded the opportunity for study. It must have been a success for mother founded a new school in Rennes.

    Each of my four counties already possessed a small stone castle and these provided defence and security and oversaw the recruitment and training of new troops. This was not very practical however, and thus a new training grounds was built in Nantes to focus upon the recruitment, training and equipping of my soldiers. Mother said that it was important that we could raise troops swiftly and mobilise them for action in case we were ever invaded by hostile armies or brigands. (I later realised that this was another reason for her expansion of the ducal road networks).

    Cornouaille was both the most remote and the most lawless of my lands and it seems that in those days, the ducal writ did not run effectively. This made organised crime an ever present threat and a most dishonourable guild of thieves sprang up in Cornouaille. Mother’s response was to create a Court of Justice, where cases would be heard and judgements handed down on the Angevin model.

    Item: DIPLOMACY EDUCATION AND GOVERNANCE

    It being the custom then as now for noble children to enter formal education during their sixth year, mother made suitable arrangements for me. Long before the 5th anniversary of my birth, she had moved marshal Henry to a new role as my personal chaplain and mentor (he had an ecclesiastical training). Henry was never a very martial figure and this new role suited his temperament and abilities far better. He began to tutor me in mathematics and Latin and then when he deemed it advisable, my formal education at court began in December 1191. A new marshal, Humbert of Nantes was appointed and he it was to whom mother gave responsibility for the building of the training grounds that I have already spoken of. Having established these, he became ill and died in August 1196. For several years his office lay vacant for there was no-one of sufficient martial knowledge or skill to fulfil the role. Also, a new chancellor was appointed, Bonne of Pontchateau, for lady Almodis was not well, and was presumably less able to look after my affairs of state than in former years.

    In April 1189, Pope Urban died and the cardinals elected as his successor Archbishop Absalon of Skane, who took the name Gregory when he ascended to the Holy See. At about the same time, it seems that my name was spoken of as a possible successor to the county of Goettingen in Germany. Strange as it seems this unheard of land had become a part of the kingdom of England and was now ruled over by the lady Wulfrida. For now, with me so young, the claim was not pursued, although it was well documented and the records can still be seen to this day within my chancellery records.

    A far greater claim came my way with the death of King Henry in December 1192. My uncle succeeded him as King Richard, the first of that name in England, but we Angevins have ever been a quarrelsome lot, and both my father, and, on my behalf, my mother, claimed that Geoffrey or I would be a better king than Richard.

    One claim that had not been pressed was over the county of Penthievre. This was already held in vassalage to me, and at such tender years I could not have ruled it anyway. Furthermore, Count Alain had proved to be steadfastly loyal and mother was presumably content to leave matters as they stood.

    This was a rich time for chancellery clerks and diplomats, for it seems that I also acquired a claim over the Celtic county of Dyfed in Cymru and on the title of Count of Chartres near Paris. Again both claims are well documented albeit neither was pursued at the time.

    Before I move on, I should perhaps mention my health. Ever since my 5th birthday I had been spoken of as a sickly child. There was nothing that anyone could ever pinpoint specifically despite my mother having me prodded and poked by the best medical men in the duchy. It seemed I was suffering from some unnamed general illness that mother and Bishop Henry were both concerned would hamper my ability to learn and in later years to rule. How wrong they both were!
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  9. #9
    Second Lieutenant Maccavelli's Avatar
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    your writing is so captivating rex makes a person really squirm while waiting for the next installment

  10. #10
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    Second in line to the throne hey? Hmmm...
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  11. #11
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Item: TOWARDS MY MAJORITY

    I was fortunate in that each of my counties contained a modern stone castle, each one completed by my grandfather duke Conan in the Norman style. They were small, by the standard of later castles, but they were bigger than any other building in the land, and, apart from a few churches, were the only buildings constructed of stone. All other buildings were made of wood in some shape or format, and thus fire was an ever-present threat. On one occasion (I must have been about 8 years old I reckon) mother had taken my court to Vannes. The eponymous county town lies right on the coast, the castle occupying the highest parcel of land, looking down on the small town that lay beneath its shiny stone walls. Vannes was an old settlement, and such wealth as it possessed sprang from the sea – fishing and trading being the main occupations of its inhabitants. Over the years an extensive fishing wharf had developed – landing jetties and huts wherein the fish were gutted and sold. No-one really knew what happened but whilst I was at Vannes, the whole wharf was consumed by fire in the most massive conflagration I had ever seen. Truly, the fires of hell could burn no fiercer than this, I remember thinking at the time.

    This was a disaster for the fishermen, traders and inhabitants of Vannes, but it also impacted upon the ducal finances, for, of course, I held rights over all fish landed, and levied a duty upon each cargo unloaded. So vigorous was the trade here that the loss of the fishing wharf made quite a hole in my local finances. So needless to say mother had the wharf rebuilt as soon as was possible. The people praised her generosity and good lordship, although by now I was old enough and educated enough to realise that her main motivation was the money we earned from the fishing rights. Later on mother extended the road network in Vannes so that fish and other goods could more easily be transported inland and sold at the various markets, on which I also had rights to levy taxes and fines.

    In November 1196, spymaster Julienne informed me that my uncle, king Richard, had laid claim to the county of Cornouialle. From what I had seen of this wild, windswept, poor and lawless place he was welcome to it. However, it was only prudent that we made adequate provision in case the king were foolish enough to press his spurious claim, and following the success of the training grounds in Nantes, the same facility was commenced in Rennes. Cornouaille was too poor and too sparsely populated, and it was far easier to raise troops on Nantes and Rennes for the defence of the whole duchy.

    Early in 1198 I learned that I had a new cousin, Louis, born to king Richard and thus heir to the throne of England. Less than 18 months later however the boy was dead (of natural causes I hasten to add). By then Richard’s queen was pregnant again and in December 1199 another boy, Bertrand was born and became Richard’s heir. He was soon followed by cousin Phillippe born in 1200. That same year, news came that my two oldest sisters, Constance and Eleonore, had both got married. Constance married Einion ap Dafydd, count of Perfeddwlad in Wales, whilst Eleonore was married to no less a person that Severino Andreotti, Magistrate of Padua. I imagine my father yielded much gold from these marriages.

    The scribes were kept busy in that year, for in the month of April came news that the Holy Father, Pope Gregory, had passed away. The cardinals elected as his successor, Guglielmo, Bishop of Ravenna who took the name Innocent. He it was who bestowed a signal honour upon my humble court, for in November 1200, the lady Almodis died. Such were her Christian virtues and her devotion to both her temporal lord and her spiritual Lord, that Pope Innocent pronounced her Saint Almodis of Pontchateau. She was buried in Rennes, where her shrine is now a minor place of pilgrimage and it is said that many miracles are wrought by the saint, although I myself have never met anyone who can attest to this personally, but I do not blame the monks for encouraging the stories!

    Here Arthur is surely wrong, for I know from my brothers in Brittany and Normandy, that Saint Almodis is indeed a miracle worker and that many poor folk have benefited from her intercession. I record Arthur’s views though as proof that even the greatest among us can err when it comes to matters of faith and belief, and I pray that the good Lord himself will forgive Arthur for his scepticism. Boniface, Prior.

    Thanks to my mother’s good sense and practical stewardship, not only Nantes itself, but many other surrounding towns and villages were prospering and the population grew accordingly. This was even more marked in Rennes, which became even richer than Nantes. Cournouaille by contrast remained poor, what income there was there was further denuded by the thieves guild that plagued the county. However, at last, the chief magistrate of the Court of Justice that mother had founded to deal with the matter reported to us in February 1202 that he had successfully hanged the last of the ringleaders, for which I gave hearty thanks.

    I knew the importance of this work for by now I was nearing the end of my formal education. I was a diligent student, and by now I could read Norman French and Latin. Breton I never bothered with for this is a coarse language used only by peasants and other low born ruffians. Although my reading was good, I never mastered the art of writing. Why should I bother when I had scribes to do my bidding, and as long as I could read what they had written, and scrawl my name (I did get this far) next to my seal, well that was enough for me. I shall have to read carefully what that rogue Boniface has written for I would not put it past him to amend some of my narrative to suit his purposes better (and to omit those swear words that, God forgive me, sometimes escape my lips).

    Nota bene: I have been true to my calling and to my lord Arthur, in fairly recording his deeds as he himself dictated them to me. I have amended some of his words, for truth to tell he was ever clumsy with his speech, and frequently foul-mouthed as he himself acknowledged. These profanities I have removed to spare your ladyship’s blushes, and because they have no place in the writings of a man of God. Boniface, Prior.

    I had ever considered it my duty to become as competent as I could in the ordering of my duchy, and in particular the work of the chancellery fascinated me. One day, shortly before my sixteenth birthday, bishop Henri pronounced that he had taught me all he could and that my formal education was thus at an end. He said that I had excelled in the chancellery, and that I would be a most excellent diplomat – he even went as far to say that I was an eminence grise (whatever that meant).

    Your ladyship, this is a term much favoured by career diplomats to indicate one with exceptional diplomatic skills, and was, I believe, fairly applied to Arthur, for he was blessed with these skills in abundance, even if he knew not why the epithet was so used! Boniface, Prior.

    Arthur’s adult stats 3/11/8/6, with his counsellors, 3/20/20/14. There is no suitable marshal, even though his low martial skills cries out for one.
    Last edited by Rex Angliae; 16-05-2005 at 23:35.
    Loyaulté me lie. Vivat Rex!
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  12. #12
    Most excellent update, my good scribe.
    "It is far better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." - Niccolò Machiavelli

  13. #13
    Second Lieutenant Maccavelli's Avatar
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    interesting read i wonder what arthur will do and what greatness he will achieve
    keep up the good work rex

  14. #14
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Item: MARRIAGE

    Now that I was 16, I assumed direct control of the duchy myself. However, I retained my mother in close counsel, for I greatly valued her wise advice and guidance, her abilities being so amply demonstrated throughout my regency. Having for a long time dismissed girls as lesser human beings of no worth and purpose, my attitude had changed as I approached my majority, and now I was intrigued by their charm and beauty. I also knew that marriage was essential if I were to beget a successor to inherit my realm. I turned to my mother for advice.

    Chancellor Bonne sent diplomatic approaches to all the most important courts in Christendom, but it seemed that at that time there was a dearth of eligible young women throughout Europe. The most promising response was from the county of Buchan, in the far north of Ecosse, commonly called Scotland by its inhabitants. Here resided Gisela von Geroldseck, widow and relict of Maurice of Buchan. She was a full 10 years older than me, but had experience of court life, and a 6 year old son named David, a boy of high martial promise if the tales about him were true. Her husband had been dead for 5 years, since when she had live a life of chastity and devotion to God and to her son and his interests. Her fertility seemed assured, and if this proved not to be the case, with her advanced years she would surely pre-decease me, by fair means or foul.May the Lord God forgive Arthur for these murderous sentiments, even though he assured me they were said in jest. Boniface, Prior.

    A portrait of Gisela was duly procured and this showed her to be a fair looking lady, with high cheekbones, and chestnut brown hair. Thus she was comely if not beautiful in the conventional sense. She was also it seemed, a highly capable steward. A marriage proposal was duly despatched, and in May 1202 the lady Gisela von Geroldseck and I were married in the chapel of Nantes castle.

    The reason for this seemingly obscure location was twofold. Firstly, although as duke I could have held a splendid public ceremony in Nantes or Rennes, this would have advertised my marriage to the world, and mother had advised that we should keep the news from my father as long as possible. Doubtless his spies would inform him soon enough, but why advertise the fact? The second reason was that the chapel had been the focus of my religious observance throughout my young life, and truth to tell, I had grown rather fond of it. The thought of marrying somewhere else never really occurred to me. It had no special architectural merit, and yet its pure and simple Romanesque lines appealed to me and spoke of God in their purity and grace. It was set on the second story of the three storeyed keep, facing east, with a gallery at its west end that gave access from my private chambers on the top floor above. Hear I could, and did, hear mass daily. Attendance within the body of the chapel I reserved for holy days and festivals. The chapel was dark, the only source of light being the round arched window above the altar, and candles were a necessity even in high summer. These were always of the highest quality beeswax, paid for out of my generous donations to the church, and as well as light, gave a sweet smelling odour to the chapel in contrast to the rest of the castle that always smelled of pitch or tallow from the wall torches and lower quality candles that were used in most of the castle.


    Father Henri presided of course, and Gisela and I knelt before him to receive his blessing as we were pronounced man and wife. My mother and my new step-son, David, were in attendance as were Chancellor Bonne and Spymaster Julienne. The service over, I took my new bride to bed there and then, for I was eager to learn how a lady made love (my experience hitherto having been limited to the odd willing servant girl) and my lady had not known a man since the death of her husband five years previously (or so she said). I have edited the following section since Arthur’s death , fair lady, for here Arthur went into graphic detail and it is unseemly for such intimate matters between husband and wife to be spoken of publicly. Boniface, Prior.

    My wife brought with her a modest dowry of 195 pieces of gold, and these I determined to put to immediate use in the expansion of Nantes castle to provide a more fitting and modern residence for its new duchess. This work was mainly the creation of a bailey, surrounded with a high curtain wall, against which I built a series of apartments for my lady and her son, together with a new hall, more spacious and lofty than its predecessor within the donjon. This had the additional benefit of accommodating a larger garrison, for a stable block and a new barrack room were also added at this time.

    My mother had served me faithfully over many years as regent and steward and yet it was at her suggestion that I now appointed Gisela as my steward, for she had fulfilled a similar function in Buchan and was thus highly experienced and able in the art of administration. Mother, of course, remained my principal counsellor. In a very short time I realised how good Gisela was, and when she pressed me for an increase in her establishment, I was only too happy to give her 50 gold pieces to suit her purposes.

    Disturbing news reached me at this time of the renewal of a thieves guild in Cournouaille, and I sent word to the magistrate that this had to be stamped out immediately else it would be his body that danced at the end of his gibbet. Also, it seemed that God was displeased with my land, for all across my realm, in Nantes and Rennes and Vannes, prosperity was not quite what it was. We were spared the grip of famine and absolute poverty, but compared to previous years we had to tighten our belts, and my ducal income suffered as a result.

    Against this backdrop, my knights and barons within Nantes chose to demand my support for Prima Noctae rights. This barbaric and un-Christian practice had existed in former times supposedly, yet seemed to me to be but a mask for rape, giving as it did, a cloak of legitimacy that allowed a lord to deflower every maiden on the occasion of her wedding, such that no man would ever marry a virgo intacto. I prayed for guidance and read the scriptures and consulted with Father Henri; my prayers were answered and I outlawed the practice throughout my lands, upon pain of death for any lordling found flouting the decision. May Arthur be praised for his zeal and his Christian charity. Boniface, Prior.

    Item: FATHERHOOD

    Over time I became quite fond of the boy David. His natural father had died when he was very young; indeed he could never have known him. As the son of a relict, no one had paid him any real attention, and thus, once his initial reserve had been overcome, and as he saw how happy his mother and I were together, the boy opened up towards me (curiously the age gap between him and me was similar to that between his mother and me). His time and circumstances in Scotland had taught him to be quite self-sufficient for one so young, and he showed good martial prowess. Thus I determined on a martial education for him, and I was already thinking of him as a future marshal of Brittany.

    Gisela and I had been married for over three years and I was starting to think that she had become barren when in July 1205 she announced that she was, at last, pregnant. How happy I was! I even tolerated the formation of a smugglers’ ring in Cornouaille as “just one of those things” (although later on I gave the magistrate one final warning). Thankfully Gisela’s pregnancy was uneventful, and in April 1206 she gave birth to our first child, a girl, who we named Yolande. As if in thanks, the Cornouaille smugglers’ ring was broken up soon after. Gisela and the baby prospered. We remained very happy, and this happiness was complete when in November that year, Gisela announced that she was again with child.

    Not long after this joyous news, came some sad tidings. My sister Eleonore, wife of the magistrate of Padua, had died, I believe in childbirth. She was aged just 22. Although I knew her not, for she had been brought up at my father’s court in York, there must have been some invisible bond between us, for I felt weakened and saddened by her loss, and I was in a sombre and reflective mood throughout the Christmas season that followed.

    I was consoled however by my own living wife, and throughout the first part of 1207 the child within her grew larger and larger. That summer was hot and sticky, and Gisela found it a most uncomfortable time. She got ratty and irritable and could not stand my touch, so I took to sleeping once again in my old chambers on the top floor of the old donjon.

    On 1 August (I remembered the date well for it was Lammas Day, when bread baked from the first of the wheat harvest was consecrated) my second daughter, Alix, was born. I was disappointed that it was not a boy, and my frustration at this was to find a masculine outlet ‘ere long
    Loyaulté me lie. Vivat Rex!
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  15. #15
    Yay! Update!
    Yay! Implied carnal relations!
    Yay! Promises of war!

    "It is far better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." - Niccolò Machiavelli

  16. #16
    Second Lieutenant Maccavelli's Avatar
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    I have edited the following section since Arthur’s death , fair lady, for here Arthur went into graphic detail and it is unseemly for such intimate matters between husband and wife to be spoken of publicly. Boniface, Prior.[/COLOR]

    lol i love that bit its hilarious well lets hope arthur goes on to great glory and a huge hard to maintain empire.

  17. #17
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Kristian, Maccavelli, Thanks for stopping by and posting. It's good to know that at least somebody is reading this! Sorry it's been a while since the last update. I've started playing Victoria and that has me hooked temporarily but I will be continuing this one too. Herewith the next update.

    Item: WAR!

    By now, as I have related, I had legitimate claims upon various counties and titles. The problem was that they were all part of one kingdom or another, and at that time I was simply not strong enough, or so I thought, to alienate King Richard (overlord of Goettingen and Dyfed) or King Phillippe, my own liege, whose man the Count of Chartres also was.

    I had been named after Arthur that great king of the Britons in the Dark Ages, and it was ironic that I should end up as duke of Brittany, for here too legends and stories of Arthur abounded; he was a great Celtic hero it seems. Perhaps in my boyhood I had dreamed of being a second Arthur; I was certainly familiar with the concept of a Celtic hegemony that might include Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany – maybe even parts of Scotland. Whatever, thwarted in England and France, my thoughts turned to Ireland, where several rulers still maintained their independence from English rule.

    I summoned my council, and we surveyed what we knew of the political map of Ireland, looking for a suitable opportunity. We soon found it. The duke of Leinster was said to be the greatest ruler in all Ireland. Donall of Laigin was 66 years old and ruled his one demesne duchy from its ancient capital of Dublin. He owed allegiance to no man, and from what spymaster Bonne’s agents had reported, his duchy was lightly defended from its ageing wooden motte and bailey castle.

    My court was still dominated be females, and thus I determined to act as my own marshal. A summons to arms was sent throughout Nantes, for here the army comprised knights as well as archers and foot-soldiers, and it was sufficiently numerous for my purposes. Trained in the recently completed training grounds, this would be a test for the effectiveness of the Breton army. We set sail from Dinard in August 1207, having had to wait 2 weeks or more for a favourable easterly breeze to enable us to sail with ease around the Cornish peninsula and then up the Irish Sea towards Dublin. At this stage, Donall of Laigin knew nothing of our intent, for I had insisted upon absolute secrecy, knowing full well that if word of my plans leaked out to my liege the king, he would doubtless be swift on my heels to “help” with my cause.

    We made landfall some way to the south of Dublin, undetected by the unsuspecting Irish. However, the time for secrecy was now over and I unfurled the ermine banner of Brittany and advanced upon Dublin, defying Donall to do his worst. From the battles I later became involved in, I can scarcely dignify this skirmish as worthy of the name. The native Irish were under-prepared, outnumbered and poorly led. They were completely routed and broken, and in no state to withstand the siege that I laid around Dublin castle. Early in January, the defenders surrendered, and Donall of Laigin himself offered me his submission and renounced his claim to rule as Count of Laigin, a title I assumed with immediate effect. The whole enterprise had been a huge success, and although I grieved for the men that I had lost (may God have mercy on their souls), their loss was but a small price to pay for the enlargement of the duchy, and for the attendant prestige that it would bring its new ruler.

    I soon discovered why the fortifications were so old-fashioned and outdated, for there was no mining or quarrying industry within Laigin, despite the abundance of rocky outcrops. Clearly Donall must have been senile. I immediately gave orders for a new quarry to provide stone to rebuild Dublin castle to provide a more fitting residence for its new count and his castellan, and to offer greater resistance to any future invader foolish enough to attack, than I had faced from the puny fortifications that I had so easily captured. The money I had plundered from Donall’s treasury, some 85 golden marks, just about paid for the expense of the mine.

    I confess that I had acquired a quick taste for warfare, and, the pickings in Dublin having been relatively slim, I decided to continue with my Irish adventure rather than returning home just yet. Laigin had been identified as number one target and had been duly captured. It was not, however, the only independent realm within Ireland. Far away to the north, where the sea batters the land even more fiercely than in Brittany, lay the 3 counties of Tir Connail, Tir Eoghain and Ulaid. Figuring that news would eventually reach them of the Breton incursion into Ireland, I decided to act swiftly and decisively. Leaving a small garrison in Dublin, I marched north and fell upon Cormac, so-called Count of Tir Connail in a frenzy. The topography was more rugged here and the defenders were able to use this more to their advantage than in the flatlands around Dublin, but they were still no match for the Breton troops who were more than showing their worth, and the value and wisdom of my investment in proper training facilities. In July 1208, less than a year after I had set sail, Cormac surrendered his title and his lands to me, along with 95 marks.

    Still I was not done. I moved on eastwards and soon infested Tir Eoghain, and before the year was out, its former count, Murchad, was now working in my kitchens, whilst I enjoyed the pride and prestige of his former title as Count of Tir Eoghain, and decided how best to utilise the measly 57 marks his treasury yielded.

    It was not all plain sailing though, for in the aftermath of my conquest of Tir Connail, a zealous firebrand had appeared, determined to stir up the people against Holy Mother Church and against me, its lawful and appointed ruler. I faced my first crisis as ruler as the native Irish revolted.

    Item: ON VASSALS

    I had been away for over fifteen months, and I decided that it was time to return home with my victorious troops, and to leave my wild Irish subjects to their own devices. Well not entirely, for I decided to reward my faithful servant Henri with the rule of these wild alien provinces. My last act before sailing for home was to create Henri Count of Laigin, Tir Connail and Tir Eoghain. I had quickly realised that the lands were poor, and with Tir Connail in rebellion, it seemed sensible to leave things for Henri to sort out.

    When I arrived home, Spymaster Julienne had news that had preceded me, for my ship had been blown off course by a winter storm and we were forced to make landfall at Brest in Leon, where I used the opportunity to acquaint myself with its new Count, Conan, whose father, Guyomarch had died whilst I had been in Ireland I learned. Conan was slightly older than me, and greeted me with caution. I sensed that we were never going to enjoy a particularly fruitful relationship, but he swore fealty to me for his lands, and I left him with 100 gold marks to ensure his loyalty.

    Anyway, where was I? Yes, the news from Ireland was most disturbing. No sooner had I left, than Count Henri, that quiet, unassuming, spiritual mentor that I had known all my life, had got married. Not to some suitable matron to look after him in his dotage, but to an 18 year old Welsh girl, Constance of Glamorgan. He was old enough to be her grandfather, and although such marriages were far from uncommon, they were normally for dynastic or succession purposes. Lustful wasn’t the word for it! I feared for Henri’s soul and I said an immediate prayer for his redemption. Or at least I did until I heard the second piece of news from Julienne. Henri had laid claim to the title duke of Ulster! Now I had my eye on this title myself – I was already overlord of two of the duchy’s historic counties – but the time was not yet right for me to press this claim. Strange as it seemed to me at the time, far from rejoicing in my success, word had it that my fellow rulers took a more jaundiced view of my conquests, and both Julienne and Chancellor Bonne informed me that my reputation was now seen as tarnished and that my prestige had sunk as a result of my Irish adventure. They also advised me to look to my vassals’ loyalty, for no-one liked serving a tarnished lord.
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  18. #18
    Oh, the poor soul ... can't they just see him as the Liberator he surely is?
    "It is far better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both." - Niccolò Machiavelli

  19. #19
    The White Rose of York Rex Angliae's Avatar
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    Item: JULIENNE

    My shock at the news from Ireland was so intense that a change in Julienne’s demeanour failed to make an impact at the time. However, over the next few weeks, the strangeness of her behaviour became more and more obvious; she would wander around muttering to herself, and start when asked a direct question. The seriousness of her condition was made plain for all to see at one council meeting, I think in August 1209.

    I was presiding, of course, with my mother at the place of honour on my right, and Gisela on my left. I used a round table, the better to engage all persons, and Bonne sat next to my mother, and Julienne opposite her next to Gisela. I forget the exact subject we were discussing, but I shall never forget what happened next. Julienne suddenly sat bolt upright in her chair, placed her hands on either side of her head and said in a loud voice:

    “Stop it! Stop it! Why are you torturing me? I can’t stand it any longer. Leave me alone, leave me. Go!!”

    And with that she screamed, stood up, knocking her chair backwards onto the floor, and ran out of the room. Well, neither I nor the rest of my council knew what to do or say. We must have concluded the day’s business somehow, and later on, when she had calmed down, Julienne still knew nothing about the episode. I found out several weeks later that she had been hearing voices in her head for many weeks now. It seemed I was among the last to know, for when I mentioned it almost casually to my mother, she was surprised I had not heard for apparently the court was alive with rumours of Julienne’s schizophrenia.

    Her condition deteriorated rapidly. I myself saw her lapse into a trance-like state on more than one occasion. One of these lasted for several days. I consulted doctors of medicine and wise women and even looked within the library, and apparently Julienne was suffering from a particular type of schizophrenia known as catatonic, a symptom of which was the inability to speak or to recognise anyone or even to conduct any business, but from which a sudden and full recovery could happen. Well, I couldn’t have such a person conducting affairs of state for me, so I had to replace her as Spymaster with Cecile of Nantes.

    Julienne hung around the court, her condition gradually worsening. On another occasion she found me alone at prayer within the chapel, and when I turned and saw her, she said:

    “Are you talking to the angels too? They talk to me all the time. Gabriel, Uriel, Raphael, Michael – all the archangels, and the seraphim too. Not had any contact with the cherubim yet, wonder why not? That Gabriel, he’s a one. Told me all about how he’d appeared to Mary and told her all about Jesus – she refused to believe him. It’s all true what’s written in the bible you know. I’ve seen him too you know, several times. Once he came to me in my chamber, and when he’d gone I found white feathers all on the floor where he’d stood.”

    Well, the woman was obviously mad; there were always feathers on the floor, either from the stuffed pillows, or from the birds that would fly in and out of the open windows throughout the castle.

    It was a morning in late January 1213 when Cecile informed me that Julienne had died. The door to her chamber was locked and had to be broken down, and there she was, lying stiff as a board on her mattress, her face drawn in a rictus of terror. It seemed that her death had been as troubled as her last years. But she had been a faithful and a loyal servant to me for many years, and I mourned her passing, and to this day I still say prayers for her soul, and may the Lord God look upon her with His infinite mercy and charity, and I pray now that she is with the angels with whom she so passionately, if surely mis-guidedly, supposed she spoke during life.

    Here once again we see the sceptic in Arthur, my lady. I have heard of many others with whom angels have conversed and I see no reason why the lady Julienne did not encounter these heavenly beings just as she described. Boniface, Prior.

    Item: GISELA

    I had been married to Gisela for over 10 years, and on the whole they had been very happy ones. She had given me two beautiful daughters, Yolande and Alix, although her failure to produce a son and heir disappointed both of us, and looking back on things now, this had cast a shadow between us. By now, she was surely beyond child-bearing age. She remained a highly capable steward and a loving wife and mother.

    As steward, Gisela used to pay frequent visits to the kitchens and storerooms in the basement floor of the donjon. I had noticed myself that the spiral steps that led down from the Great Hall on the ground floor, had, over time, started to become worn and uneven. I had warned Gisela to take extra care, for the risk was surely heightened by the long flowing skirts that she and all other ladies of status wore.

    The morning of 4 January 1213 (I remember the date well for reasons that will soon become obvious) dawned as any of the millions of days that had preceded it. It was nearly the end of the Christmas festival, and arrangements were in hand for the great feast of Twelfth Night that was to be celebrated the next day. Gisela’s visits to the kitchen area would have been more frequent than usual, and her movements well known as she supervised preparations for the feast. It would, therefore, have been very easy for anyone to have crept up behind her and push her down the worn spiral staircase, or maybe she just lost her footing. Either way, her body was found at the foot of these steps, her head lying at a very unnatural angle, her neck obviously broken.

    It was not long after her burial that the finger of suspicion began to be pointed at me.

    “He knew his wife was barren, and he needed an heir”

    “Who else had a greater opportunity than he?”

    And so on. It mattered not whether I was guilty or innocent. Within a short space of time, people started to say that I was a kinslayer. As ever, perception is what counts, not reality.

    My lady Rosamunde, you are probably wondering if I know what actually happened on that fateful day so many years ago. Regrettably I do not. All I know is that whilst he was talking of this event, Arthur’s eyes misted over and at times he seemed far away. Whether this be a sign of guilt, or simply of recollection, I know not. The truth I suspect was known only to Arthur and to his confessor. I know enough of the evils of mankind to know that even the most unsuspecting of people can commit terrible crimes, and Arthur, for all his greatness, could not be said to be “unsuspecting” for he was ever zealous in all things, not least his capacity to deceive. Boniface, Prior.
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  20. #20
    Undead Dutchman Dead William's Avatar
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    Hmmm. Intrigue! Now who will be the new wife to the great lord Arthur... The next to fall down the stairs if she should prove incapable of bearing a son... At least Julienne flies with the angels. I liked that bit a lot.

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