Thanks again for the support, this update is probably the biggest so far at a bit under two thousand words, so it's probably going to be the one with most spelling, grammar and other errors so if you see any egregious ones please point them out.
Chapter Two: Trampling the Thistle
Across the border in Scotland in June of 1428 King James of Scotland was said to have fallen on his own sword during a training accident and received a mortal injury, his eldest son and heir, Alexander (IV)was deemed still too young to take the full burden of the throne being only twelve years old and so a regency began. It was not a good time for Scotland, the lords regent fought bitterly for power and influence and while the boy King was known to be very gifted in academic matters he was rumoured to be cowardly even in training and his interpersonal skills left a lot to be desired with frequent temper problems and a streak of pomposity unbefitting even for royalty. Combined with the dubious circumstances of James death the instability became such that only a year later a band of high nobles banded around a pretender for the throne and rose in rebellion against the Regency and the King. This was the opportunity Edmund had been waiting for. While the hosts of Scotland destroyed themselves in a bloody civil war Edmund began the raising and training of two new regiments and used connections among the Hanseatic league to take out a loan at favourable rates, which was then used to hire a number of mercenary companies.
When his preparations were complete Edmund didn’t have long to wait for his moment to strike, the final pitched battle of the Pretender’s rebellion in December 1429 saw that army destroyed and Lord Henry Randolph’s Regency army reduced to a demoralised rabble of a lowly seven thousand men. No match at all for six thousand professional troops and two thousand mercenaries at Edmund’s command. Thus on the 28th of December 1429 Northumbria went to war with Scotland.
According to records, the army’s first action was to be to force the recovering Scottish one into a battle and try to destroy it before it could reform and reinforce, at which point it would then head to Dunfermline and attempt to capture the King and as much of the high aristocracy in the Regency as possible. Not completely trusting the mercenaries to fight loyally and well Edmund sent them to occupy Lothian and besiege the city of Edinburgh, being the softer of the tasks they were only too happy to comply. Lord Randolph was not a great general, but be knew enough to see he was at a disadvantage and tried to flee before north before Edmund’s advance, however Edmund’s superior skills and the discipline of his men allowed him to force the Scots into a series of skirmishes between Ayrshire and Stirling, before finally outmaneuvering them completely, getting ahead of the army at Clackmannan and destroying it in a decisive battle. At that point King Edmund knew he had won the war after only seven weeks on campaign, Scotland had no army to field and so the questions was no longer if young King Alexander and his Regents would surrender, but when.
The question of when would prove difficult to answer however as on the march to the capital Dunfermline Edmund’s spies and scouts learned that the regency council and the King had evacuated the city, taking the boy into hiding and desperately trying to raise new levies. Rather than allow any resistance to form Edmund split his forces, with the mercenaries in Lothian able to deal with the threat there the King took three regiments north to Aberdeen and sent the rest of his forces, managed by a trusty captain, back south-west to Ayr. All three new levies were successfully disrupted and captured some weeks later although none of the council nor the King were among them, having fled even further out to attempt to stir more resistance. Edmund pursued relentlessly but often had to split his forces further and further to capture towns and besiege the cities and castles, thereby preventing the enemy sneaking back around his lines. In fact more than nine months after the Battle at Clackmannan the King was still on campaign putting down the few levies Scotland was still capable of raising and his absence from home was beginning to cause some issues. Without the imposing presence of Edmund some of old pact members had taken some liberties with their dues and taxes, one particular member even embezzling crown funds, which lead to a swift execution when William Gilbert brought it to the attention of the Queen and David Lambton, who were managing the day to day affairs of the realm while the King was on campaign.
Abroad several incidents of note occurred during this time, Edmund's friend Juan II of Castille and his old enemy Henry V of England went to war over a personal dispute involving Navarra, Henry got the better of the matter and forced Juan to cede the crown of old Galicia from the Castillian union. In the east the Greek Roman Empire, having restored several of Venice’s Greek satellites to it, struck a vicious blow against the Turkish invaders and recaptured much of Rumeliya. Most importantly for Northumbria and it’s immediate future though, the Hanseatic league had reached it’s absolute zenith of power and wealth with Lubeck, the seat of the league now reckoned to be the richest city in Europe, the fruits of which funded the war in Scotland via Northumbria’s association. However it was that wealth and influence that would soon bring the league down. When the Duke of Brunswick had some financial difficulties after a few failed ventures the merchants of the league refused relief and began calling in their debts, incensed at this ungentlemanly behaviour the Duke wrote to Pope Gregorius XII himself decrying the usury and avarice the of the Hansa declaring it to be a stain on the reputation of Christianity itself. Moved by the words of his friend the Pope promptly had the league master excommunicated and declared any debts owed to be null and void to such an enemy of Christ. While this was a terrible blow to them, their influence and wealth protacted them and enabled the league to carry on operating somewhat as before, however to their north the Kalmar Kings had long looked on enviously for decades at such power a wealth right on their doorstep and for the newly crowned Frederick I of Denmark, Sweden and Norway this presented an excellent opportunity.
Before that though, back on campaign, as 1430 passed into 1431 the teenaged King Alexander of Scotland finally ended his regency being deemed old enough to rule in his own right. Unfortunately for him though there was no ceremony or celebration being on the run from Edmund who had spread his armies across the whole country and despite being unable to raise any more levies and his advisers counseling a surrender, Alexander refused to negotiate with Edmund, labelling him an ‘upjumped bandit king’. Correctly believing that with the Northumbrian forces spread so thinly they would be unable to launch an assault and take cities and fortress of Scotland by force he hoped to outlast his enemies, his naivety on political intrigue, military matters and the supreme over confidence he had in his royalty guaranteeing the dedication and loyalty of his people didn’t allow him to really consider the prospect of his countrymen surrendering without him. Even when Edmund’s agents bribed the Guard in Dunfermline to desert allowing the army in, Alexander still refused to negotiate and offered only that Scotland and Northumbria return to their previous status antebellum. Edmund is known to have remarked that Alexander displayed the knowing and cunning of a fox, if that fox had been trampled by a horse, and then driven over by the carriage.
Throughout 1431 and well into 1432, as events abroad transpired as described earlier, the Northumbrians settled into a long and calm period maintaining the cordons around Scotland’s centres of power and population, allowing Edmund to take breaks from his campaign to return home and manage the realm in person as well as attend to his family. Young Samuel was now an impressive young man, displaying competence in his studies and training and now rivalled his father’s wit and charisma, able to attend counsels and meetings of state and it was decided it was about time to find him a wife. To that end the estates of the rich nation of Holland had recently brought an end to the union between that country and the county of Hainaut when their ruler died with only surviving daughters rather than sons, and the ambitious new count of Holland Jan van Egmont looked for friends and allies to secure his new throne. With no children of his own Samuel was wed to the younger sister, Caroline two years his elder, a quiet and studious though charming girl whose appearance had sadly been marred by a survived childhood ailment, perhaps not the young Samuel’s ideal spouse but the insistence of his father and the large wealth of the family sealed the deal with little complaint.
Back in Scotland the rest of the cities finally began to fall, after Dunfermline and central Scotland surrendered in the spring of 1431, Edinburgh surrendered before Christmas and most of the rest came in before the end of spring 1432. The last Scottish refuge in Ayrshire finally surrendered after over two years of resistance, walking out during the summer of that year. With all hope finally extinguished Alexander was finally persuaded to parley.
Edmund was tempted to make the boy pay for his stubbornness by annexing the whole of his Kingdom, or force him into becoming a vassal and teased him with such prospects but in the end decided that while Scotland was broken for now, it may not be forever and so such actions would not only be terribly damaging to the reputation of Northumbria but also could result in problems down the line. He settled for taking Northumbria’s rightful lands as well as significant income in compensation and ransoms, signing the treaty in July 1432.
King Alexander was devastated and highly embarrassed by the loss to the little ‘English breakway’ his temper problems only grew worse and were not helped at all by his taking to drink, feeling betrayed by his nobles, soldiers, advisers and people he grew ever colder, more distant, paranoid and drunk until eventually after a particularly hard night hitting the bottle in 1436 the he fell into a river contracting pneumonia, dieing childless at the age of 21 and leaving his altogether more stable and able younger brother Henry as King of Scotland. For Edmund's part the war was hailed as a great success at home and in the courts of his friends and allies abroad, however he had very little time to enjoy it before being back on campaign in Ireland assisting Tadhg V of Connacht, and of course would soon be in Germany facing in battle the merchants who’d payed for his war and even the Holy Roman Emperor himself.
- The political situation in the British Isles after Scottish surrender