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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(58610)

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Well that wasn't what I expected. Sad to see Harold die at the moment of his triumph. Leofwine must pay with his head.
 

Estonianzulu

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Oof, nothing says stability like losing your king.
 

RossN

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Kelly Hrdina: Thank you. :)

Ashantai: Thanks! :)

Tommy4ever: True... though Harold did live longer than in OTL.

Jape: King Earled. Godwin was dead of course, and poor Harold's thiking was growing hazy. :(

Omen: True and thank you.

Chief Ragusa: Alas, he cheated me of the satisfaction. :mad:

NewbieOne: Thank you! :)

Estonianzulu: Heh, true.

Before we start Volume Two proper I'll give an overview of the Regency and a glance at Europe in 1083.
 

RossN

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Interlude Two - from E. Granger's ‘England Under the Godwins’.


Ælaf, Bishop of Salisbury, Chancellor of England and Regent (1072 to 1083)​

The following is an excerpt from Granger, Edward ‘England Under the Godwins’, (1999 Winchester). As always Granger's extensive footnotes have been omitted.

The death of Harold at the age of forty seven threw England into crisis. The heir apparent was the four year old Earled, the son of Prince Godwin and Lady Adela of Germany. With Essex still blazing in rebellion the Witan must have been tempted by the idea of another candidate – perhaps Leofwine himself.

What secured young Earled the throne was partly the popularity of Harold amongst the common people and partly due to the efforts a man who was not a Godwin, or even a great noble. Ælaf, Bishop of Salisbury and Chancellor of England suddenly became the most powerful man in the kingdom at the age of forty three. When news of Harold's death reached Winchester Bishop Ælaf at once called the Witan into session. The formidably intelligent Ælaf could call not only upon consiserable oratory but also upon the passionate pleas of two widowed Queens of England: not just Ældgyth de Gaunt but also Edith, widow of Eadweard the Confessor and sister of Harold[SUP]1.[/SUP]. Leofwine's advocates saw the way the wind was blowing and kept silent, as did the followers of Morcar and Eadwine. Swept along by both reason and emotion the Witan caved and aknowledged Earled as the new king.

Despite his obvious abilities Ælaf was not the obvious regent, being unrelated to the King. The favourite candidate was Prince Edmund, Earl of Hereford and Harold's oldest living son. However the Prince stood aside, recognising his limits. Prince Magnus was considered too young and Harold's other sons were younger yet. Leofwine of course was a rebel and Ældgyth de Gaunt threatened to walk the streets of Winchester in her widow's garb and call upon the common people to resist if the Witan so much as considered offering Leofwine the regency. So in the end Ælaf accepted the role. He was to hold the position for nearly twelve years.

If Leofwine had hoped Harold's death might offer a respite he was sorely mistaken. Leading the royal armies Thorold of Bolingbroke captured Bedford, Hertford and St. Albans and easily defeated Leofwine's last army at Canterbury. On the 19th of May 1073 the rebel Earl surrendered at Dover. Penniless and near catatonic with depression Harold's younger brother cut a sad figure as he arrived in chains in Winchester. He was perhaps already dying; certainly he did not last long dying in a dungeon two months later unmourned and unvisted by his family, his estates falling to his three month old daughter Elfwynn. Leofwine's death must have come as a relief to Ælaf. The Regent, faced with the choice of executing Leofwine at once or banishing him had with scrupulous justice decided on a trial. The trial would have been a double edged sword at best as the conclusion was inevitable and Ælaf was saved from having to order Harold's brother to the executioneer.

Leofwine was the last son of Godwin, Earl of Wessex. In just seven years five brothers had died; two in battle, two in captivity, one simply worn out by war. No wonder some folk began to speak of the House of Godwin as being cursed. Yet handed this poisoned chalice - a kingdom that had been through three major wars in short succession, a royal line that had clawed its way to the throne only to devour itself, an infant on the throne - the Bishop of Salisbury would rule England in peace and prosperity for over a decade.

[At this point Granger extensively details the early life of Ælaf, Bishop of Salisbury along with his theological works, which were considered of great merit in 11th century Europe but which alas do not survive, save in fragmentary form. Granger states that while Ælaf's surviving correspondance show him to be cynical in political terms but also sincerely just and genuinely pious.]

Ælaf seems to have had a conservative approach to government. Foreign entanglements were avoided, Skuli Tostingson and Elfwynn were confirmed in their Earldoms and trade, especially cross Channel trade was encouraged, though Ælaf refused any suggestion of lowering city taxes, citing the need to fill the treasury after the wars. In Dorset he founded the city of Wimborne, which recieved its charter in 1077 and began to draw up plans for a second new city in Somerset. Minor peasant uprisings in Northumberland and Cornwall were quickly crushed and efforts were made to stamp out both the smallpox in Chester and the heresy in Hereford, neither of which threatened the kingdom as a whole thankfully.

Ælaf also followed a process of strengthing the Godwin claim to the throne by strategic marriages. The King's aunt Princess Gunhilde married Eadgar Eadweardson, grandson of Edmund Ironside, thus once again uniting the old and new royal dynasties. More controversially Lady Adela married Marshal Thorold, the foremost soldier in England and a key ally at court. As for the King himself Ælaf favoured Queen Isabel, the child ruler of Aragon. In 1083, the last year of the King's minority Ælaf sought to arrange a betrothal.

Earled however was to have other ideas...

11th October, 1083: the Regency ends.​
1. Lady Adela seems not to have spoken to the Witan, despite being Earled's mother. Pehaps Ælaf felt the effect of the queens pleading would be lessened if a woman who had never held royal rank had joined them.
 

RossN

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Europe in 1083



France is by far the strongest kingdom in Western Europe, thanks to the efforts of King Phillipe I to expand his realm into Spain. Toppling the Emirate of Barcelona (which had itself devoured the old Duchy of Barcelona in the 1070's) the French King now holds court in Rosello in the far south of his country, though the current war with Brittany may draw his attention back north.

William the Bastard is also in Rosello, though not voluntarily as he lingers under house arrest after a power struggle with Phillipe. Normandy endures as a wealthy duchy but its power and ambitions seem to have passed.

Norway is now ruled by the 33 year old King Olaf the Kind, who displays little interest in war across the North Sea though he still nominally claims the English throne.

Castile
and León have divided most of Christian Spain between them though the growth of French power threatens their prominence and the Moors are far from defeated. The tiny kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre cling on, squashed between more powerful local kingdoms and the newcomers.

Ireland remains disunited, though Connacht seems to be the power on the rise.
 
Last edited:

Estonianzulu

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A peacefull regency is a godsend. You get a chance to recover your manpower and get your building on. Good to see you took advantage. It'll be interesting to see what changes this new king brings. He's already sounding like a man of his own mind when it comes to his bride.
 

Machiavellian

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Great reading. I have really enjoyed the twists and turns.
 

unmerged(58610)

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A good regency and the prospect of an excellent warrior king. New cities in personal demesne add to revenue, which is necessary if wanting to finance wars abroad. Earled may be considering a crusade in southern Spain. I hope he does.
 

Tommy4ever

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That period of peace under the regeny will have grealy helped England recover. This new King makes me nervous though, great general Kings tend to vigorously pursue war and conquest - I'm not entirely sure if England is ready to be flung into another major war. Lets hope he preys on weaker targets like the Welsh and Irish, rather than something more substantial and continental.
 

RossN

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Aenaid: Thank you very much. :)

Estonianzulu:
Indeed, and it will be a choice of bride with a lot of repercussions.

Machiavellian: Glad you like it! :)

Chief Ragusa:
Hmm, interesting idea...

NewbieOne: Hopefully! :)

Jape: Abroad is like a whole other country. ;)

Tommy4ever:
Well all that depends on where his wooing takes him I suppose. :)
 

RossN

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Volume Two

King Earled of England​

Winchester, October 1083

The Bishop of Salisbury was not a natural traveller but he had to admit the boat across the channel had been swift and untroubled. How wonderful to have green trees and pastures of England around he thought. Oh France and Italy were beautiful but what Saxon born could be content without the cool breeze rustling through oak leaves? The Continent could keep its fine weather... well for the most part. Perhaps an allowance could be made for winters.

He got no further in his musings as he had entered the courtyard of Winchester castle and as the stablehands helped him off his horse a familiar figure was crossing over with a smile on his face. Ælaf looked at Earled, which involved looking up. The young monarch had been a tall boy. As a young man he was up there with his grandfather and Harold had been tall.

"Sire," he moved to bow but the King stopped him with a chuckle.

"On your feet my friend! I may not be a boy any more but I still respect my elders. Come take a seat in the great hall, give your old bones a rest and tell me of Rome and Rosello.


"Old? I am only fifty-four Sire," Ælaf replied with a touch of irritation, but he couldn't help but smile. Young Earled might wear a crown - and be uneccessarily tall - but he was still as close to a son as he'd had or would have. "But perhaps a glass or two of mead will aid my dry throat. I've had wine enough for a year these past four months!"

The great hall was a large smokey space, perpetually full of the smell of roasting meat, the crackle of fires in the hearth and the barking of the King's pet hounds. Saxon monarchs did not reside in marble palaces surrounded by frescoes. Seated at the great table that dominated the room the King and Ælaf spoke while the King's bodyguard Osfrid, an enormous red headed huscarl with arms like three trunks and a permant brooding scowl on his face watched on in a corner. It was unlikely any Vikings would be bursting into the room but Ælaf had always had the impression they'd be in Vahalla before they got three paces if Osfrid had anything to say about it.

Their talk of Rome was brief, not due to any lack of piety for both the King and his Chancellor were genuinely religous men but more because of the great political importance of Ælaf's trip to Rosello. On his way back from the Eternal City the Bishop of Salisbury had visited the French court, now located far from English shores.

"Your Aunt[SUP]1[/SUP] fares well Sire," Ælaf said, "And thanks you for your letters. King Phillipe is also in robust health."

"I should expect so; he has dined well off Spanish territory,"
the King said and smiled. "And the Bastard?"

"Not enjoying his new home Sire."

William, Duke of Normandy​

The King did not laugh at that, not being the kind to take delight in the misfortune of others but he did allow a smile of statisfaction. Ælaf - not a cruel man either - could understand that. The Bastard might have been forced to renounce his claim to England but he was still a very dangerous, very capable man. Best for all concerned if he continued to stew in Phillipe's dungeon.

The Bishop took another sup of his mead before continuing. "I met Queen Isabel."

"I hear age does not improve outside or in,"
commeted the King offhandly as he scratched between the ears of one of his hounds.

Ælaf hesitated. Queen Isabel of Aragon had been his choice for Earled's future bride, but having met the young lady even his enthusiasm for the match was cooling. "I am afraid you hear correctly, Sire," he admitted. "But she does come from a great house and Aragon is secure from threat."


Queen Isabel of Aragon

"Aragon is secure from greatness too," suggested the King, gently shooing the contented hound away before looking up at his chief advisor. His shrewd green eyes glanced at Ælaf unhappily. "Perhaps even now Phillipe eyes it for himself. No, I think I should look elsewhere for a bride. The bethrotal shall be broken."

Ælaf felt an flush of disappointment, anger - and relief. He had after all met the lady in question. "Do you have any lady in mind then Sire?"

"Perhaps, my ancient friend, perhaps."
The King smiled and would say no more.

It was only much later as the Bishop of Salisbury got down on his not so elderly knees to pray before retiring to bed that the King's words came back to him. All that talk of Phillipe's power in Spain... Isabel might have proven no great attraction but maybe Earled was not quite done with that part of Christendom.

1. Gytha of England, Queen-Consort of France
 

Sarayakat

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Not having CK2 (yet) I can't decipher Isabel's traits. Would you mind listing them?

Btw, nice update. I like this king.
 

RossN

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Isabel has Harelip, Decietful, Charitable, Arbitarary, Brave, Humble and Wroth.

So she is a physically unattractive liar without the slightest concern for justice and a bad temper. On the other hand she is physically courageous, generous to the poor and not given to boasting. A poor Queen and a poor future wife but not completely without good qualities.

Earled incidently has Brilliant Strategist, Wroth, Charitable, Content, Brave, Just and Gregarious.

Like Isabel he is courageous, gives freely to the poor and has a short temper. Unlike her he values justice as something more than a whim and gets along well with other people (who tend to like him well in return.)
 

Sarayakat

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Isabel has Harelip, Decietful, Charitable, Arbitarary, Brave, Humble and Wroth.

So she is a physically unattractive liar without the slightest concern for justice and a bad temper. On the other hand she is physically courageous, generous to the poor and not given to boasting. A poor Queen and a poor future wife but not completely without good qualities.

Earled incidently has Brilliant Strategist, Wroth, Charitable, Content, Brave, Just and Gregarious.

Like Isabel he is courageous, gives freely to the poor and has a short temper. Unlike her he values justice as something more than a whim and gets along well with other people (who tend to like him well in return.)
She sounds like a perfect candidate for a nunnery.