• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Omen

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Just what England needs: something to draw them onto the continent! Seriously, you are having some nice luck to balance the bad. I've not seen a non-ruler with a nickname before! That's pretty cool.
 

Sleight of Hand

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Nice update. Like it. :)

It's Philippe I of France by the way -- Philippe II was Philip Augustus, Henry II's great rival.
 

Estonianzulu

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A great get, hopefully France can avoid its general fate in my games of constant civil war so that you don't get dragged into that mess.
 

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Nice move by old Hal in somewhat nullifying the threat of the Normans by marrying off a daughter to their liege. Lets hope France remains united but still somewhat unstable, so that England is left alone for now. Anyways, really nice update - and on the death of the Queen, I say Livia did it.
 

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So much for peace!

Jape: Happily William is preoccupied with a war of his own so he should be out of the picture for now. As for overseas expansion I am (or was until the Essex rebellion) considering somewhere a bit further afield than Ireland or Scotland.

Omen: Bad luck is back with a vengance sadly. :(

Sleight of Hand: Eep, sorry about that. I'll be more careful in future. :)

Estonianzulu: So far they seem to prefer fighting the Moors. Be interesting to see where that goes!

Apelstav: Heh. :D THe Godwins are starting to look like that sort of family aren't they?
 

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Volume One (continued)

An Anglo-Saxon village that has escaped the pillaging of armies - a rare sight in much of England by 1069.​

Winchester, 1069 to 1070

The war might run for another year but the Battle of Buckingham had decided the end. There were a few battles in late '68 but nothing approaching the scale of the earlier fighting. Yet the luck of the House of Godwin ran true to the end. In August Wulfnoth, Harold's youngest brother died in Denmark. The unfortunate Wulfnoth had spent most of his life in captivity, first as the guest of William the Bastard then as a prisoner of the Danes. Harold grieved this brother, little knowing he was about to lose another.

A month after Wulfnoth passed away Tostig Godwinson, exiled Earl of Northumbria and Harald Hardråde's tame Saxon died in a confused battle between Norse and Germans near York. The second city of England had been recaptured that year and the traitor Tostig had fallen in the desperate Norse retreat. The Germans had taken Tostig's head and delivered it to Winchester as a present for Harold. The King gravely took his brother's head – and then took the Germans'.

In the New Year Harold sent his Chancellor Ælaf, Bishop of Salisbury to negotiate with the Norse. A few weeks later the Bishop was back with news. Harald would accept a white peace. "I advise you to take it Sire," said Ælaf, his lean and clever face looking the worse for wear after a voyage across the wintery North Sea and then an unbroken ride to Winchester. "Unless you plan to invade Norway itself I feel we can ask for no better."

"I agree," wheezed Gyrth, Earl of East Anglia and Harold's youngest living brother... though you would not know it to look at him. Earl Gyrth was ill and his appearance had caused some shock when he had arrived at the Witan. Grey of pallour and short of breath he looked far older than his thirty six years.

The war has drained us all, but you more than most brother, reflected Harold sadly before turning to his other living brother. "Leofwine?"

The Earl of Kent rose from his seat at once furious and incredulous. "How can we talk of a white peace with the Norse and Danes brother? Aye, they have pillaged my lands more than most. Villages burnt to ashes, cattle and swine slaughtered, monasteries raided... how shall I face my people and say that we have let Hardråde off the hook? No it cannot be!"

Leofwine spoke with passion, but he spoke alone. All else of the Witan agreed to a status quo ante bellum and so Harold dispatched the Bishop of Salisbury (after he had rested) with his agreement. The Norse Invasion was over.

"I understand your fury brother," Harold told Leofwine as the others had left the Great Hall. The King had asked the sullen Earl to remain a moment or two. "But we must know our limits. The Kingdom cannot survive another year of war. Now, onto other matters - have you seen how poor Gyrth ails? He is childless you know."

Leofwine's expression turned to grief for the fading Gyrth, then something else as the meaning of Harold's words filtered through. Eyes wide he looked at the King. "You mean you would grant me East Anglia?"

The King gave him a vulpine smile. "My brother, I promise you I will not allow those lands to pass outside the family."



The Peace of York, signed 7th March 1069

The Peace of York was signed just a week before the royal wedding in France and the sheer national relief at an end to the war combined with the celebration of Princess Gytha's marriage meant criticism of the treaty was muted. England had been exhausted the invasion and Northumbria in particular would take many years to recover. York itself had exchanged hands three times and the once bustling city was a near ruin. The Bishop of Salisbury (riding north to attend negotiations) burst into tears at the sight of York Minster, burned to the ground by Danes during the winter.

Prosperity might have taken a while arriving but peace held for the rest of the year and as 1070 dawned there was little reason not to feel it would last forever. England was technically supporting Phillipe of France in his war against the Sardinian Moors but it was a 'war' in which no English soldier served and France seemed capable of winning without Harold's help. It was not until July of that year, the fourth of Harold's reign that the looming crisis arrived and even then no one realised where it was leading until too late.

Gyrth Godwinson, Earl of East Anglia and loyal brother to King Harold II died on the 9th of July 1070. He left both his title and his personal demense of Suffolk to Harold and at his funeral his last two surviving brothers quarelled.

"Brother, you promised me those lands," stated Leofwine. "Yet I have heard that Magnus[SUP]1[/SUP] might take them."

"He needs a title of his own brother," said Harold, his eyes narrowing. "And you seem to have done well enough - you call yourself Earl of Essex now, do you not? Well I did not grant you such an honour yet you took it anyway."

"I was Essex in all but name, why should I not take that name too?" demanded Leofwine, face turning red. "You promised me East Anglia."

"I promised they would stay in the family, my lord Essex and they shall." Harold said, his own voice and expression growing colder by the moment. With visible effort he tried to keep his temper in check. "Think brother; you are already the greatest lord in England. Is that not enough? Make peace with me and we shall speak no more of East Anglia - or of Essex."

Leofwine simply stared at Harold, then turned and silently walked away. His answer would come a month later.


9th August 1070: Leofwine's answer.

Brother vs. brother.​




1. Prince Magnus, Harold's third son by Ældgyth de Gaunt (born 1051.)
 

unmerged(58610)

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And families are supposed to be a source of strength. Poor Harold! Leofwine thinks 1500 troops will win him a crown does he? You survive two difficult wars only for some idiot to think he should be king. England ought to be looking to expand to remove foreign claims on the English throne.
 

Apelstav

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Heh. :D THe Godwins are starting to look like that sort of family aren't they?
Does that mean we'll get to see a Saxon king making his horse part of the Witan and... and... Master of the Horse? That would just be lovely! Jokes aside a fine update. A shame those pesky brothers never'll be satisfied with anything. Ungrateful gits, every last one of them.
 

Omen

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Ah, family. You get some peace and then they go crazy. Got to love them.
 

Estonianzulu

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Given his already significant size, i think not granting him more land was probably a smart call.
 

Nikolai

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Harold DID deceive his brother though, it certainly sounded like he was promising the lands to his brother. But it would have been foolish, making his brother so strong.
 

Tommy4ever

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This is a really well written and engaging story. Such a shame that England should be plunged into civil war so soon after the brutal years following The Confessor's death. I wish the best of luck to the House of Godwin!
 

Jape

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Leofwine - passionate but foolish. If I was in his position I wouldn't have taken such a vague promise on face value. Then again if I was Harold I would have preferred avoiding such an assumption with a hot head like his brother.

Regardless should have taken the King's offer to accept Essex as a fait accompli with grace, its hardly a poor realm, and a little pondering would have told him he has little hope of winning over England after such bloodshed. Particularly after all of Harold's hard won success, I imagine he is quite popular.
 

RossN

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Chief Ragusa: Such is life, sadly. I am reminded of my Antioch AAR - though hope things aren't going to be quite that bad! :eek:hmy:

Apelstav: Heh, true! :) Of course events are about to change the situation somewhat.

Omen: True. Sadly. :)

Estonianzulu:
Definitely. England under this mod starts with several very powerful earls so the king has to keep an eye out to stop one becoming too dominant.

Nikolai:
True... ish. Harold was in a no-win situation. He needed peace with the Norse and Leofwine carried a lot of sway with the Witan. The Earl had to be brought around somehow.

Tommy4ever: Thank you - I feel they will need it! :)

Jape: No wonder Leofwine ended up depressed! If he hoped the other nobles would join him he was mistaken and he seems about to loose everything.
 

RossN

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Volume One (continued)

The Traitor​

Middlesex, August & September 1072

"You'd think this would have been enough for my brother," Harold said. "The greatest city in England and some of the richest land in Christendom! Isn't that enough?"

The officers and courtiers standing on the banks of the Thames knew not to give any answer to the King's rhetorical question, at least any answer other than a supportive murmurring. Ahead of them, across the broad slow river the city of London smouldered in the evening. Many buildings had been destroyed when the town had finally surrendered and a Cornish thegn had lost control of his troops who had run amock on the cowed populace before Harold unleashed his Huscarls and restored order. The episode had done little to improve his mood.

"Where is the Traitor now?" Harold asked, turning away from the sight across the river. Leofwine was always refereed to as 'the Traitor', or 'the Wolfshead' or (in the bitterest of moments) 'my brother'. Never by name. The King had said more than once that the Earl of Essex was to be afforded no place of glory in the chronicles. Let his name be forgotten like reviled Roman emperors of old.

"Dover Sire," Thorold said. The Marshal grimaced. "After we overrun Surrey last year he must have known we'd attack Middlesex next and I guess he didn't want to get caught in London. Well Dover is as far as he can run."

"Unless he tries for Normandy,"
Harold said, shrewd hazel eyes turning south as if he could see through all the many miles to Rouen. "William has sworn his peace to me but who would trust a Norman?" The King shrugged and turned once more to his advisors. "Well Dover can wait a while. I want to secure St. Pauls first. I believe the Traitor left his silver reserves with the Bishop. Let's see what shrift the Bastard gives him without that!"

For two years war had raged across south eastern England. Harold had been reluctant to call upon his vassals for troops, uncertain that they would not throw their lot in with the Traitor. Northumbria was still recovering from the Norse invasion and Prince Magnus kept a new and unsteady seat in East Anglia. And then there was Oxford which been inherited by none other than Tostig's boy Skuli who had returned to England and bowed before his astonished uncle. Harold had no idea what to make of this prodigal nephew but was not about to march into battle alongside him. So it was that the war had seen Harold draw only upon his own lands: Cornwall and above all his beloved Wessex. It would be enough to deal with the Traitor.

Battle of Winchester, October 1070 - Leofwine's failed attempt to defeat Harold in battle​

As Harold's main force, a thousand men or so had been besieging London another thousand was attacking Bedford. The Essexians had been defeated and scattered at Winchester in the first year and now the war had turned mostly upon sieges. Slowly but remorsely Leofwine's realm was being overrun. Another six months and he'd be begging for peace, in exile or dead. Or so the soldiers of Harold's army cheerfully believed as they had celebrated in newly freed London. To a Wessex huscarl a man of Kent was scarcely less foreign than a Dane. So long as their King led them to victory and kept their pouches full of silver and throats full of mead a civil war was not much worse than a regular war.

Needless to say Harold thought differently. Any foe slain or wounded was one of his subjects, and that more than the personal betrayl was why he would never forgive his brother. Some of those self same subjects had shut themselves up in St. Paul's Cathedral, meaning Harold would have to fight to capture the Cathedral. Oh my brother, is it not enough to offend me you must offed God Himself? Harold thought, looking at the imposing wooden bulk of the building. Well it is not I He will call to account for this!

The siege of St. Paul's began on the 20th August. The rebels had managed to obtain much food and water before London surrendered and could hold out perhaps as long as a month, maybe even too, counting on Harold's reluctance to take a holy place by storm. Still there could only be one outcome and after three weeks the rebels knew that help was not going to come...

***​

Harold couldn't sleep. Strange that, he reflected. Until the day he had become King he had never had an troubled night in his life. Now it seemed there were nothing but troubled nights. In the dead of night he gave up the unequal struggle with sleep, threw on his cloak and went to investigate the siege.

As he arrived with a small troop of sleepy huscarls he noticed something a shawdow in the dark streets near the Cathedral. A cat or drunk most likely, yet somehow he found himself reaching for his sword.

Then he heard it. A clink. An unmistakable sound.

"The silver! The Traitor's silver!" the King shouted as he drew his sword and charged, his huscarls springing to startled life around him. From the lanes around came the sound of footsteps as more of Harold's men heard his cry and came running. The panicked rebels, dropped their sacks of silver and drew swords and knives of their own.

Harold was amongst them at once, his bloodlust up. A rebel fell before him, then another. A tall man rose before him and the King prepared to cut him down too when he caught a glimpse of his foe's face - and froze.

Harald! Harold thought in shock It took a moment to regain his iniative and strike a blow through the man's guts. He went down heavily, dirty blonde hair falling from his face, vacant brown eyes staring up. Not the Norse king, he realised, just another nameless rebel.

But I was so sure, the King thought in confusion, and moved to pull back his sword. His fingers felt numb as he tried to grasp the blade. Harold looked down. The rebel's sword lay buried in his stomach to its hilt. He had not felt a thing, and he slowly fell back he realised he still wasn't feeling anything. Dimly he was aware that his huscarls were cutting the rebels to pieces. Good boys. He wanted to call out encouragement to them, but it felt beyond him. Good boys, you'll serve Godwin well.

It was getting hard to focus on things but he could just tilt his head to see one of the sacks the rebels had been carrying that had fallen and split open. Bright silver pennies had spilled out and he could make out the face on them: his own. Despite himself Harold managed a vulpine smile.

"You'll never...be on... a... coin... Leofwine..."

And then he sighed and closed his eyes.


End of Volume One
 

Ashantai

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This is extremely well written and very enjoyable! Bravo!
 

Tommy4ever

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Your family members seem to have a very short life expectancy on the battlefield.
 

Omen

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Kings leading from the front seem to lead to bad things. I'm looking forward to Volume 2.