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Thread: The Norse Kings of England

  1. #1
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    The Norse Kings of England

    The Norse Kings of England


    In 1066 the crown of England was for the taking. The death of Edward the Confessor in January of 1066 left the seat of power unfilled, and three great men sought to claim it. Harold Godwinson, Earl of Wessex was the second most powerful man in England behind the King, and he became the focus of the Saxon opposition to Norman rule. His selection by the Witen as heir to Edward only ennobled his plans to seize the throne. But his opposition was stiff both from the North and the South. Though the crown was initially Harold's, it would only be won by right of conquest. Two armies stood between the Saxon king and his claim. A fleet of ships sailed across the channel, and another from the shores of Scandinavia. William, Duke of Normandy and Harald Sigurdsson each came to stake their claim to the throne of England.


    (The Three Kings of England, Harald of Norway, Harold of Wessex, William of Normandy)


    Much has been written of the quest of the Norman invaders to bring continental feudalism to the British Isles, but with the long established traditions of Saxon governance it is hard to imagine such a foreign rule taking root with any long term success. It is left to the minds of the creative historians to divine a future with a William I of England in 1066. Instead we now look back at the invasion of York as one of the most important turning points in the history of England to date. It was the moment when power passed from the southern Saxon lords to the hands of the northmen. The victories of the Norwegians against the armies of William and Harold established Harald as the eminent power of Northern Europe and brought his adventures to an end. It would also divide his realm, enrage his vassals and plunge northern Europe into decades of conflict and violence.

    ]



    The Norse Kings of England



    Chapter I: The Northern Wind
    Part i: The Last Viking
    Part ii: The Battle of St. Cuthbert
    Part iii:The Conquest of the Normans
    Chapter II: The New King
    Part i: The Revolt of the Earls
    Part ii: The Bloody Fields
    Part iii: St. Swithun's Day

    Chapter 3: The Conqueror's Fall
    Part i: Build and Collapse
    Part ii: The Anarchy
    Part iii: The Compromise

    Chapter 4: The House of York
    Part i: Aslak of the North
    Part ii: Maud of Normandy
    Part iii: The Battle of Cambridge

    Interlude I: Maps of the 12th Century
    Chapter V: The Son of York
    Part i: The Clean Succession
    Part ii: The Petty Wars
    Part iii: The Invasions of Scotland
    Chapter VI: The Iron King
    Part i: The English Crusade
    Part ii: The Battle of St. Peter's Cross
    Last edited by Estonianzulu; 09-12-2012 at 00:59.
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  2. #2
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    Part i: The Last Viking


    Harald Sigurdsson was, at one time or another, the claimant to the thrones of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and England. His power was never realized completely but he was a figure of great influence throughout his life. He was the younger half-brother of King Oalf II and claimed his own descent through Harald Fairhair, king of Norway. When Olaf fell at the battle of Stiklestad (later to be canonized Saint Olaf), Harald was wounded and fled Norway in exile after the fall of the king. Harald would end up in Russia, fighting as a mercenary for the Kievan Rus. There, he gained allies and prestige. From there he went to Constantinople. There he made himself a leader of the Varangian Guard, named Spatharokandidatos and became engaged to the granddaughter of the king of the Swedes. In the turmoil of Byzantine politics Harald became wealthy. Through pillage, theft and graft Harald built a fortune, and used it to return to Norway. His glory and power proceeded him, and his nephew Magnus (natural son of Olaf II) agreed to share power. Less than a year later, Magnus was dead and Harald was king undisputed.


    (The meeting of Magnus the Good and Hathacnut)


    But the death of Magnus was important to Harald for more than one reason. Not only did it secure Harald sole control of Norway, but it also gave him a dubious claim on the throne of England. Hathacnut, King of England, died and was succeeded by Edward (The Confessor). However Harald, and others, claimed that Hathacnut had promised his realm to Magnus (and vice versa) should either die. It was feeble, perhaps no more so than William of Normandy's, but it was enough to encourage a war. Harald received his ticket into the fight with the arrival of Tostig Godwinson, brother and bitter enemy to the new king of England. Tostig was Earl of Northumbria, and wildly unpopular. His cruel approach to his enemies and distant from his subjects led his Earldom to revolt. With his lands in revolt and his brother leading the court of Edward against him, Tostig found himself exiled. Eventually that exile brought him to the court of Harald of Norway.


    (Tostig, in the court of Harald III of Norway)


    With Tostig in tow, and his personal armies mobilized, Harald made ready for invasion. And now he received an added boon. Not all of Saxon England supported Harold Godwinson's rise to power. While the Witan had overwhelmingly supported Harold, other nobles were not so eager. Among them was a rather influential Saxon nobleman from the north named Eanfirth, who claimed to be a descendant of the ancient Northumbrian kings. He, and his allies, were effectively mercenaries trading their arms to Harald for money and land. It made no difference to Harald where his armies came from and so he welcomed the new arrivals as he did with Tostig. This new Norse-Saxon army set sail for Northern England, Harald and his army first, with Eanfirth and his Saxon Band coming in reserve. Harald arried and scattered the first army to stand in his way at the Battle of Fulford. It seemed to Harald that the war was already won, before even his Saxon mercenaries had landed. He allowed Tostig and his vassals to begin collecting tribute from the local earls.



    Then, in one of those moments of historic irony, a curse became a blessing. While collecting tribute, one of Harald's raiding parties came back with more than gold, it came back with disease. The idea of watching an illness tear apart his army was less than thrilling, and so Harald reorganized his forces and marched north, leaving the diseased behind in York. Harald was persuaded by Tostig to march into Durham, where nobles loyal to Tostig were ready to flock to the Norse banner. No loyal troops were there to greet Harald, and for his troubles Tostig found himself earning the enmity of yet another king. However, the march did have one reward. Harold Godwinson, who was by all accounts too far away to be of any real danger, had rushed his army north hoping to catch the invaders at a bridge called Stamford. Now, in Durham with the Saxon mercenaries arriving in due order, Harald was able to turn and face the English army. With Harold Godwinson hot on their heels, the Norse invaders made their stand at the Ford of Saint Cuthbert, the battle which would decide the fate of England.

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  3. #3
    Lt. General Scorpi's Avatar
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    About time for a Norse conquest of Britain AAR (or so we hope)

  4. #4
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    nice beginning ... this should be entertainingly different

  5. #5
    Argentina Delenda Est Tanzhang (譚張)'s Avatar
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    Harold of Essex
    Wessex.

    Great start so far! I must admit that I always cringe whenever Harald wins the Battle for England but what you've written so far is intriguing enough for me to want to follow! I especially like how you used a rather uninspired game event as a way to circumvent the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Very clever!

    Also, the title begs the question, when you say Norse kings of England, do you mean so in more terms than just their ethnicity?
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  6. #6
    Imam Of The House in Imp. Off. Herbert West's Avatar
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    All right, finally Harald wins one. Just as he could have, with about one more day of planing (the army not leaving all their armuor behind, for example).

    On the other hand, there is still Guillaume the Bastard and his mighty cavalry.

  7. #7
    Major Aetherius's Avatar
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    Play as a norwegian lord in England is awesome Viva Hardraada ! So ... subscribed .

  8. #8
    AARficionado & Storyteller Demi Moderator Eber's Avatar
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    I enjoyed the start immensely. Onward Norse!
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  9. #9
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Norse victory in England? I'm all over this. Go Harald Hardrada!
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  11. #11
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    Game Notes and Responses

    So, I first started this one in v. 1.0 and it was way way too easy, all you had to do was sit still and besiege things to eventually win. After the patch, it became a HECK of a lot harder. If you fight Stamford bridge, you will lose every single time. My first attempt, I fled to the sea and escaped to the South, but it wasn't very fun. My final attempt, and the birth of this AAR, came from a big of movement and some very well timed reinforcements.

    Scorpi- Thanks, welcome aboard. I was actually very surprised no one had run one out yet. And yes, there will be conquest

    loki100- I hope so, entertainingly different is how I want to be remembered.

    Tanzhang- Ahem, yes well indeed. I always get my ssexes mixed up. I don't believe in the compass? Alas, so far paganism has not taken root in England, my only attempt at a pagan vassal went and plotted my murder as soon as I appointed him. So, Norse represents the culture, the language and the history, rather than the faith.

    Herbert West- Yeah, that Norman army is an ugly beast. Not only is it bigger and better equipped, but I have to fight i after weeks of war. I'll be honest, I lucked out with William, as you will no doubt see.

    Aetherius - I'm not sure viva is Norse, but I'll take it.

    Eber, Saithis, AP- Thanks and glad you enjoyed. No Hadrada's hear, far more exciting nicknames are given to the winners.
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  12. #12
    Wizzaard Estonianzulu's Avatar
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    Part ii: The Battle of St Cuthbert


    The Norse army had fled York in the face of disease. The secret allies of Tostig Godwinson had failed to emerge and now, tired and nearly lost, the Norse were forced to battle. With Harold the Saxon hot on the chase, it became clear to Harald that the easy conquest he had foreseen would instead be a bloody one. It only remained to decide where the battle would take place. The site chosen was perhaps a nostalgic one. St. Cuthbert, patron saint the north of England, had been in his life the Bishop of Lindisfarne, the site of the first great Viking raid. It was fitting that the last great raid would come to its bloody conclusion at his namesake. Harold finally caught up with the invading army at a ford of the river Wear, near St. Cuthbert's church in what is now known as Chester-le-Street. The initial engagement sent the Norse scouts running on morning of November 23rd 1066, and by noon that day the battle was engaged in full.


    (The battle of St Cuthbert. With Harald Sigurdsson commanding the middle of the Viking line in red.)


    The scouts fled across the muddied fields and across the ford of the river Wear. Harald and his elite guard were waiting. The king himself held the center of the line, guarding one edge of the ford. On the other end stood his Shetlanders, while the mercenary Saxons guarded the opposite end. A wooded hill separated his two flanks. Across the field the Saxons were completing their forced march north. The Mercians, dominated by nobles loyal to Godwinson, lead the assault, charging towards the ford. This flank contained the vast majority of the Saxon cavalry. The center was led by Harold himself and contained the heavy infantry and his archers. The remaining force, light infantry primarily, was lead by Eadric Wade of Shrewsbury.

    But the rolling hillocks and muddy terrain delayed Eadric in his march to turn the far flank of Norse line. And so, as Harold and his allies crossed the ford and engaged the Norse army, his flank was left behind. Even then, the cavalry and heavy infantry of the Mercians were enough to drive the Shetlanders back. Harald's commander, Torgeir (who had replaced Tostig as the most trusted of the king's vassals following the latter’s failure to rally any sort of support in England), had been remiss in forming his shield wall and so his flank buckled. It fell to Harold to stem the tide. He marched his heavy infantry forward, stopping at the edge of the ford and forming their wall. Harald's arrival, and the depths of the ford, stalled the Saxon cavalry charge. As the horses broke on wall of shields and axes, their riders turned and fled, right into the Mercian infantry. It was a bloody melee, and the sight of Harald's stalwart wall turned the Shetlanders from their flight. They returned to push the Saxons back across the river.


    (The Saxon cavalry shattered in the Ford of Wear.)


    At the sight of his army faltering, Harold turned his attention to his reinforcements. But Eardric was no where to be found. His delayed charge turned right instead of left. Eadric had failed to witness the Mercian collapse, as his vision of the battle was shielded by the forested hill in the center of the field. And so, with the sight of his kingdom slipping away, Harold cast his lot. With the center of the Viking line in view, Harold Godwinson charged across the ford into the fray. And while Harald Sigurdsson was temporarily laid low by an arrow to his side, the army did not falter. In the end, the strength of the wall was too great. Three attempted assaults all failed in the blood-filled shallows of the river Wear.


    (Harold's Fall)


    His army was broken, and by all accounts the retreat should have begun then. Instead, the King of England rushed forward for one final chance. It was for naught, the Viking wall did not give way and Godwinson lay dead on the field. By the time far flank engaged, the battle was decided. The king of England was dead, his army shattered and broken and his marshal in chains. The invaders did not escape without harm, a quarter of the army was gone, either to disease, desertion or death. Among those laid low in the shallow water of the Wear was Magnus Haraldson, heir to the throne of Norway. Despite the losses, the path to the throne of England was laid bare. One of he contenders was slain. Though the Witan would quickly elect Harold's son Godwin to the throne, it was an empty gesture. The fight had gone out of the Saxons, they now had to chose between a Norman king, or a Viking.

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  13. #13
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Bloody, but a worthy victory. Let's see the Saxon drive you out now!
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  14. #14
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    great battle scene, and so appropriate it was a bloody grinding mess rather than the result of an elegant manouvre or plan

  15. #15
    Major Aetherius's Avatar
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    You were lucky to kill Harold during the battle O_o In my game, the war last till 1081

  16. #16
    Cool. I wanna see a vikingdom rising in England. There are no ships in this game, though, right?

  17. #17
    Lady of the North Star Demi Moderator Saithis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NRDL View Post
    Cool. I wanna see a vikingdom rising in England. There are no ships in this game, though, right?
    There are ships but no naval combat - they're purely for transportation purposes.
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  18. #18
    Argentina Delenda Est Tanzhang (譚張)'s Avatar
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    Saxon cavalry, WTF?

    Killing Harold was indeed a lucky break, though I'm sure the Saxons would have buckled under the weight of the Vikings and Normans regardless. Let us see how Hastings pans out between the Vikings and Normans.
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  19. #19
    AARficionado & Storyteller Demi Moderator Eber's Avatar
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    In game Comments and responses

    So the battle went well as you can all tell. I got a bit of luck with the reinforcements for the Saxons showing up after I had already won a flank. Unfortunately the idea of marching against the Normans was not a fun one.

    Saithis- Darn right, bloody victories are always the best ones... unless of course another big army is waiting for you.

    loki100- I've always found most battles are won through the careful use of really foolish mistakes or laziness, great strategy always seems to come second.

    Aetherius- The War isn't over yet unfortunately. My first time round the war lasted a good 20 years as well, but with the update I was able move a little faster thank god.

    NRDL- Vikings are always fun, especially ones with the combined might of England and Norway. Unfortunately no, there is no naval warfare at least in the game.

    Tanzhang- The Saxon cavalry were surprising but they were there, outnumbering me significantly, luckily I had the meat of the army in my infantry, and its what won the day. Nabbing Harold was huge, but you can win without killing him.

    Eber- That one is, but they seem to pop up like flies.
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