BanterCaliph

Banter Caliph
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No I didn't mean that. I meant are you going to explain how did you manually convert your save from one game to the other. You project inspired me ;) Anyway I really liked your update !

Just edit text files and add a few custom flags, stuff like that is fairly easy to do after a few times. Might have to learn how to mod a bit better for this project though.

Very Interesting, please keep this up!

Thanks :D

I'm sorry i've not posted an update for a while, real life's been relatively busy. I've also now played through to the year 700, getting closer to the end of the first game and awaiting the viking age with some concern!

Anyhow here's chapter 4, enjoy!


Chapter 4, A New Crown (514-528)

King Eadbeald I of Anglia had a standard to live up to. After the great performance of his father as King of Anglia the new ruler would have to work hard to keep the Nedalskip name prestigious. Eadbeald I was a ruthless and ambitious man and sought to continue his father’s work in the west and overrun the Brythonic Kingdoms. The land that had been won had been impressive, but the Saxon holdings were not yet secure and more wars would have to be fought.

Eadbeald came to the conclusion that an alliance with a native Brythonic power would strengthen Anglia’s position in the British Isles. His lowborn wife Sigaflæd was a hindrance to these plans however, for in this era family and national politics went side by side. Thus Eadbeald decided to kill off his wife and wed Princess Aelwyd of Gwynedd, thereby establishing an alliance with the northern Welsh power. As Eadbeald plotted to bring down Powys with Gwynedd’s help however his plans were thwarted by the other Saxon Kingdom of Cantia.



The Cantian King Cerdic II had held a claim on Cunetio for over a decade (from January 505) though had been too scared to claim it against the powerful King Eadric who was also married to Cerdic’s sister. Eadric had been dead for over a year however and Cantia’s Jarls called to test Anglia’s new ruler’s resolve in holding Cunetio. Thus began the first Saxon vs. Saxon war in Britannia, with the Anglo-Cantian War for Cunetio in August 515.

As a result Eadbeald made a temporary peace with Powys in order to fight to their former comrades in Cantia. The armies of Anglia were dealt a crushing defeat in Cunetio however with the battle of Glevum castle from the 15-16th of November 515. With nearly 2,000 men being killed on our side alone the battle was one of the costliest two days in England’s early history.

A brief ray of hope shone through after the massacre at Glevum however with the rebellion of Venta, a Briton province in Cantia which had gained the support of other Britons under Cantia’s rule. Cerdic II sent many of his troops back to Venta to deal with his internal problem, giving Eadbeald a chance to rally a new army and fight to put Anglia back in the war.



The fight back began on the 18th of February 517 with a victory over Cantian forces near Abona, in Calleva. Thegn Æthelræd of Lundenwic led the smaller Anglian force (a secondary army to the one being mustered by Eadbeald) to a morale boosting win and managed to elevate himself to seneschal, an honorary title and friend of the King. Eadbeald then showed up with his army and routed the Cantian remnants on the 12th August, turning the tide decisively in Anglia’s favour!

518 was a year of great change. Merchion I of Rheged finally died early that year and his great northern Kingdom split into many smaller nations. Elmet returned to the maps of Britannia as a nation and bordered Anglia to the north. On the 17th of April Eadbeald won the Battle of Calleva Manor and captured Cantian King Cerdic II. Rather than ending the war then and there the Anglian King opted to ransom him for a total of 250 gold, thereby refilling the treasury and allowing Anglian forces to inflict more damage on their rival.

By the 11th of August of 520 after several smaller battles Cerdic II finally renounced his claim on Cunetio and the Saxon War in the south came to an end with nothing gained for either side. Less than a month later Powys declared a renewed state of hostilities with Anglia and another long war dragged on until 523 where after several more victories and the sack of Caer Lund the Britons of Powys conceded defeat and the midland province of Ratae. Meanwhile in the north Elmet and Rheged continued to dissolve into smaller states, weakened by the lack of a central authority. The Peak and the Wetlands split from Elmet, creating small nations that bordered Anglia to the north.



With Ratae taken the Midlands was now completely under Anglian rule. Eadbeald consolidated his control over the area by appointing Saxon rulers to take over from local Britons and proclaimed the birth of a new Kingdom, equal in land and power to his original Kingdom in Anglia: thus Mercia came into existence.



The creation of Mercia on the 13th of January 524 redrew the borders of central England around Saxon rulers and conquests. Though it angered the local inhabitants it encouraged more Anglo-Saxon settlers to arrive from Germany and Denmark as well as increasing Eadbeald’s and Nedalskip prestige greatly, now being among the most powerful lords in Europe. The year of 524 would also see some great inter-family intrigue as a plot was uncovered by the Anglian spymaster where the nephew of Eadbeald (Aradoc, son of Maldræd) who had formerly been heir to the Kingdom but had been displaced by Eadbeald’s son, conspired against the young Prince’s life in order to ensure his own claim.

Aradoc was disliked by many of his fellow rulers in Anglia, for he had embraced the Romano-British culture of those he ruled rather than remaining true to Saxon ways. He was thus popular with the common people in his Jarldom of Eastern Gwent but unpopular with the Anglian aristocracy. After hearing of Aradoc’s plan to kill his son Eadbeald ordered his imprisonment. Aradoc escaped however and resisted imprisonment for 7 months before his hold fell to besieging forces. Upon being captured Eadbeald showed no mercy and ordered his nephew to be executed for his crimes against his family and his country.



On the 20th of May 526 more interesting news came to House Nedalskip with the birth of a new bastard… this time to an unwed younger daughter of Eadbeald’s! 18 year old Eadwynn had not yet been married and being a rather lustful woman had taken several lovers. A result of this was the birth of a bastard son, Swæfræd. Rather than disgracing his daughter Eadbeald opted to take care of the new-born and his wayward daughter, claiming they were both of Nedalskip blood. Swæfræd later grew into a commander of Mercia’s armies and the first Jarl of Lindsey.



Anglia and Cantia were once again at war from 526-527, this time in the southwest of England, over the Jarldom of Somerset. Two small battles were all it took for Cerdic II to cede Avalon to Anglia, and on the 21st July 528 the Jarldom of Somerset was created to govern the area.

The last few years of the reign of Eadbeald I were dominated by a civil war in Anglia as Arden Forest (a Briton region) and Aquae Sulis run by Æthelwine Nedalskip (Eadbeald’s uncle) fought against the crown to assert self-rule. Despite early rebel victories against Anglian forces Eadbeald I managed to score a decisive victory on the 27th September 527 which routed the large armies of Arden Forest (reinforced by Briton rebel sympathisers from Powys). Campaigning through the cold winter the revolt was defeated by April 528 and Lord Gawain of Arden Forest was executed. Eadbeald opted to show mercy to Æthelwine who remained lord of Aquae Sulis, due to his bloodline and smaller role in the uprising.

The campaign took its toll on Eadbeald’s health however, who passed away on the 21st of October 528. His Kingdoms were passed on to his son, Eadbeald II Nedalskip, who became King of Mercia-Anglia choosing to make the first title his primary. Thus the Kingdom of Anglia became Greater Mercia. The years of transition saw a bloody border war with the Lords of The Peak, a duchy that had formerly been ruled by Elmet. The conflict ended in a white peace but left hundreds dead on both sides. Eadbeald II inherited a nation torn by the Anglian-Mercian divide, though he had little skill at war he was a great diplomat and intelligent steward. Greatly ambitious Eadbeald II would lead the Nedalskip family and the Saxon Kingdoms to new heights.

 

NapoleonComple

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Mercia is becoming the dominant state, but I wonder if that will change once the Vikings show up on the stage.
 

BanterCaliph

Banter Caliph
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This is awesome!

Really ambitious plans - I hope you pull it off!

Thanks! I think the scale of the project is just beginning to dawn on me, its going to be epic :D

Mercia is becoming the dominant state, but I wonder if that will change once the Vikings show up on the stage.

The most powerful Anglo-Saxon state perhaps, got a long way to go before uniting England though. And the Vikings are hundreds of years away yet!

Anyhow Chapter 5 and now Mercia will rise to dominance in England!

Well after dealing with subordinate rebel scum first that is...


Chapter 5, The Lost Years (528-542)

After the death of his father Eadbeald II became the new King of the central Saxon Kingdom now known as Greater Mercia, or Mercia for short. A union of old Saxon Anglia and the newly conquered midland Kingdom of Mercia it was a large realm with many ethnic, religious and dynastic divisions. Previous Kings had ruled and conquered through force of arms, but Eadbeald II was no warrior king. So in 528AD the future of Greater Mercia looked bleak under the rule of an inexperienced and young ruler.



Eadbeald II was wed to Beornwynn, old King Eadric’s daughter to the princess of Cantia and a year his senior. Though cousins the pair were often mocked for being incestous, but Eadbeald II had been reluctant to wed a noblewoman outside of his dynasty for fear of a claim to his throne being used against him. The marriage was one of love however and Beornwynn would provide Eadbeald many children, the first of which being born on the 7th of November 529, a daughter called Eoforhild.

529 and 530 passed as peaceful years in Mercia, but abroad nations were falling apart. Crippling civil war in Kernow and Rheged split the two Brythonic nations in pieces, Rheged went into terminal decline and would never recover to its former glories. As the northern Briton kingdoms fought each other over scraps of land the young king drew up plans for an invasion of the Peak, these plans would have to be shelved however due to events within the realm.

On the 14th of April 531 the most divisive civil war yet seen shook Greater Mercia to the core as the last Halsthud sister, High Lady Eadwynn of the Saxon Shore, rose up against Eadbeald in order to gain independence. Earl of Cunetio Æthelræd (the man who led Anglian armies to the great victory of Abona against Cantia in 517) threw in his lot with Eadwynn, bringing Cunetio into the war too.



The war got off to a good start however with a decisive victory at Durobrivæ in the Fens on the 12th of July. Eadwynn’s army was routed and lost about half its number, fleeing back into East Anglia. Mercia won another important victory at Fosse Manor in October, firmly turning the tide of the war in Eadbeald’s favour. On the 7th of October Cunetio fell and Eadwynn’s holdings began to be put under siege by Mercian forces.

The High Lady soon realised the game was up and tried to hold out for as long as possible to get favourable terms. It was to no avail however and both Eadwynn and Æthelræd were executed by the young king, who was determined to have no more challenges to his rule. Unfortunately the defence of his realm and proving his legitimacy to friend and foe alike would be of pressing concern to Eadbeald for the next decade, a period where he fought dozens of wars to hold onto Greater Mercia and known as the Lost Years due to the lack of any progress.

Little more than two months had passed since the Saxon Shore rebellion before Mercia was once again embroiled in a defensive war. This time Queen Nwelle I of Powys attacked in an attempt to regain the Brythonic province of Ratae. The Mercians held the attack back, winning a decisive victory at Viroconium in which 1500 Britons were killed for a mere 270 Mercians. With Powys defeated peace once again returned to the Kingdom of Mercia.

The new year began with the birth of a new heir to the Nedalskip family, Tostig son of Eadbeald II and his wife Beornwynn. With the Kingdom now secure under a male heir King Eadbeald II began to study military tactics and command in more detail to make up for his shortcomings in that area of education.

England continued to change domestically as more Saxon settlers arrived in Mercia’s capital region of Glevum (Gloucester) changing the dominant culture of the area. Changing the culture and ethnicity of the people would be slow, but this was a sure step in the right direction.



From late 533 to 534 Greater Mercia and Powys fought another war over the region of Ratae, with the Brythonic nation attempting to regain its lost land. The result was another war won for Mercia, holding onto its land in the midlands and yet another defeat for the old British nations.

Following the recent war with Powys Eadbeald II decided to improve his army: therefore on the 22nd of January 535 the first official and professional armed force was created by Mercia. This force of 500 heavy infantry known as the Mercian Huscarls would be the backbone of the Kingdom’s armies from then on, the standing salaried force of the King. On the 11th of May Eadbeald opted to cede his direct rule over Thrunslea in Anglia to the Jarl of East Seaxe (Essex) thereby improving relations with his vassal and neatening the borders of Mercia-Anglia.

Eadbeald was wrong in hoping that such a gift to Jarl Leofdaeg of East-Seaxe would placate relations. Instead the powerful Jarl used his extra land and influence to rise up against Greater Mercia in calls for East-Seaxe’s independence. Thus in November 535 yet another civil war divided the realm.



The Battle of Tripontium in February 536 was an encouraging start for Eadbeald however who scored a critical defeat against the rebel armies: losing 260 men for over 1,600 traitors. A few more skirmishes and sieges were fought and the war dragged on until early 538, until eventually Leofdaeg surrendered, was briefly imprisoned and then executed. Leofdaeg was replaced by his half-brother Cynemær who during the conflict had fought on the King’s side.

Following this period of turmoil Eadbeald II decided to consolidate his power and draft a new series of laws whereby the power of the king was increased. With Leofdaeg removed the main opposition to the new law was too and Mercia was soon ruled under “medium” crown authority, preventing the King's vassals warring amongst themselves and securing the realm.



With his Kingdom secured and dissent beaten for the moment Eadbeald decided to press on the Briton Kingdoms to the north, who had become weak after decades of internecine wars after the collapse of mighty Rheged. From the 24th July 538 to the 24th of December 541 a series of wars were fought with the High Lordship of the Wetlands which resulted in that state being incorporated into Greater Mercia along with the populous roman city of Lincoln.

During this small conquest of the Wetlands Cynemær of East Seaxe rebelled against Eadbeald, determined to seize the crown of Anglia for himself. Unsurprisingly the traitor failed, but the frequency at which the Jarls of East Seaxe were revolting was becoming a major concern within Greater Mercia.

The period of late antiquity in the British Isles was one of great change, with the Saxons displacing the native population in England and a new powerful faith spreading across Europe. By April 541 Lundenwic had joined many other regions in Britain and converted to Christianity, this time however it was the first province of Anglo-Saxon ethnicity to do so! It was quickly followed by Thunreslea in June 542. By April 542 another strain of Christianity had also spread to newly settled Glevum: Pelagianism. It was a belief denounced by other Christians which espoused the false views of Pelagius, a British monk.



Determined to hold Greater Mercia together Eadbeald ceded some of his own large demesne (specifically the recently conquered wetlands, now renamed the Jarldom of Lindsey) to the newest member of House Nedalskip, the bastard Swæfræd. Swæfræd was the bastard born out of wedlock to Eadbeald II’s sister, Eadwynn back in 526. Giving such an important position to the bastard child helped ensure his loyalty to his King and house – to which he did not belong.

With Greater Mercia now stable from within and new Jarls like Swæfræd acting as a counter-balance to powerful East-Seaxe it appeared that the dark years of 528-542 were finally over. Though the “Lost Years” had seen much Saxon bloodshed and many rebellions Eadbeald II had finally stabilised his rule over Greater Mercia. The following years would see Eadbeald become the first Nedalskip ruler to earn the title of “The Great” and the winning of much new Mercian territory to the north.

 

NapoleonComple

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Sounds like it's time to chew up and spit out Rheged.
 

Jokolytic

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This is wonderful! Although I hope you convert to Pelagianism or adopt Roman culture. :D
 

BanterCaliph

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Sounds like it's time to chew up and spit out Rheged.

Yep, time to kick the celtic Britons out of my home region :) Though Rheged split into Elmet and Rheged again by the next chapter, not sure if I mentioned that in Chapter 5 :/

This update made my day thanks

Thanks :D its good to have support!

This is wonderful! Although I hope you convert to Pelagianism or adopt Roman culture. :D

Thank you :) and no way, Anglo-Saxon England is the future! though I'm trying to stay pagan for as long as possible.

And here's another chapter, thought I'd treat you guys ;) also I need to catch up my posting to the rate of my playing so you guys can actually advise me and play along.


Chapter 6, Eadbeald II “The Great” (542-558)

The Lost Years of Eadbeald’s early reign were behind Greater Mercia and now the Anglo-Saxon King who ruled over much of central England began to look beyond our borders once more, to the fractured northern Brythonic Kingdoms. As a reaction to a newly strong and expansionist Mercia the Welsh Kingdoms of Powys and Gwynedd formed an alliance in late 542 to resist Eadbeald’s planned expansion into their north-west territories. Thus in January 543 war broke out between Greater Mercia and the Powys-Gwynedd alliance – Eadbeald intended to conquer the Powysian province of Viroconium and then strike for the Romano-British fort-city of Deva, currently held by Gwynedd. Viroconium fell easily, after a victory at the Battle of Oak’s Cross where despite the Briton defenders inflicting higher losses upon us they could not stand against such high Saxon numbers.

Wasting little time Eadbeald soon pushed the initiative and invaded Gwynedd in October 543, going all out to take Deva. Gwynedd left only a token force to defend the city, mustering its armies in Snowdonia and then attacking at a large battle fought at Letocetum. The Mercians scored a great victory however and the Britons were routed.



The city of Deva in 543AD. Deva was an important old Roman settlement.

On the 19th of January 544 the forces of Gwynedd were finally crushed in the field as Eadbeald II and his army pursued them to Lladudno, on the north coast of Wales. With Gwynedd’s armies defeated the siege of Deva began properly and throughout 544 the Anglo-Saxons waited for the city to starve. After a failed sally by the defenders on the 21st of September the fate of Deva was sealed and by January 545 the city fell into Mercian hands. With the taking of Deva and the surrounding area the Welsh Kingdoms lost their last land border with the other Brythonic Kingdoms of Britannia. Surrounded by the sea and a large, powerful Anglo-Saxon Mercia the Welsh Kingdoms began to develop separately.



545 saw the expansion of Mercian land to the north aswell, with the fragmentation of Elmet-Ebrauc the tiny Lordship of Caistor (the area of modern Grimsby) was friendless and vulnerable – a perfect time for Eadbeald II to grab more Briton land! The Battle of Brayford on Valentine’s day 545 ended with an inevitable Mercian victory and the end of Caistor’s short independence.

In what was proving to be a very eventful year the North Angles (progenitors of the Kingdom of Northumbria) began to arrive in Northern Britain adding yet more chaos and bloodshed into the former Rhegedian Empire, which was now fragemented into 13 small Brythonic Kingdoms. The North Angles soon carved out land for themselves, becoming the third independent Anglo-Saxon Kingdom (Greater Mercia, Cantia and Northumbria).



As Northumbria formed in the north and Cantia continued to grow against a weak Kernow in the south Greater Mercia saw a few years of hard fought peace. In 546 Eabeald attempted to patch up bad relations with Gwynedd and gain an ally within Wales – marrying his daughter Eoforhild to the Prince of Gwynedd. An alliance would not materialise however, Eoforhild fell deeply in love with Prince Bledynn and renounced her father and House Nedalskip.

Though a few years of peace reigned in England over the Channel the Franks at last achieved total hegemony over northern Gaul, destroying the last remnants of Roman rule in Lutetia (Paris). On the 22nd of May 547 word reached Greater Mercia that even the famed Legio VI “Gallicana” had been unable to protect the Soisson Kingdom and that they were offering their arms to whoever could pay. The Legio VI was indeed a legion of Rome that had fell from grace.
Concerned that his people were “going soft” after 3 years of peace Eadbeald declared war on Elmet on new years’ day 548, beginning the war of 548 which would unsuprisingly cover most of that year.



Fought over the Trent Hills region in southern Elmet (the area known as The Peak) the first major battle was won by March the 4th – a costly victory against defending Elmetian forces at Manchester. Nearly twice as many Anglo-Saxons were killed, the good defensive terrain and the insipred leadership of Elmetian King Cadvael led to such high losses. On March 12th Gwynedd joined the war on Elmet’s side, completely disregarding the marriage between Eoforhild and Bledynn in 546. They chose not to declare war, instead their routing of a smaller Mercian force besieging Codnor Fort made their position on the conflict clear.

At war with both Gwynedd and Elmet Eadbeald called in as many troops as possible. Mercenaries travelled from Germania and Denmark, hired for cheap and lured by bloodlust. Even the fanatic Warrior’s of Thunor cult was swayed by Eadbeald’s medicore devotion to the nordic belief in to fighting the non-believers of Britain. With his armies regenerated a new wave of fighting began later in 548. The mercenary/fanatic army scored a victory over Gwynedd at Margidunum on September 16th, practically knocking them out of the conflict. All that remained was to mop up the shattered remnants of the Elmetian army in a series of small battles: Verbeia on the 1st of October being the largest.

With Gwynedd and Elmet’s armies defeated in the field King Cadvael knew when to call defeat and on the 30th of December ceded the Trent Hills to Mercia. For a large war gaining such a large province the pace of the fighting was extraordinary – most provinces took a few years to capture.

As 549 came around the heir of Greater Mercia came of age, Prince Tostig Nedalskip who had emerged form his education as a “Brilliant Commander”. He wed his childhood sweetheart Cwengyth of Brayford an Anglo-Saxon lady of minor nobility from Lincoln. Tostig was immediately given the Jarldom of Hwicce (which made up the core of Mercia) and Eadbeald II moved his court to rule from Deva. Delegating his nation to be ruled by those most loyal to him strengthened Greater Mercia, for Eadbeald had learnt against trying to rule too much, as he had done in the Lost Years before 542.



With Greater Mercia stable Eadbeald II pushed to increase crown rule and increased taxes on his vassals and trade, implementing a slightly harsher town tax law. With more money flowing in as well as more immigrants from the Saxon homelands in Europe Eadbeald felt confident to launch another large war against his Brythonic neighbours, thus beginning the War of Caer Lerion (Leicester) in September 549. A decisive victory against Elmet at the Battle of Sudbury once again prompted Gwynedd to join the war, though this time the ruler of Gwynedd could muster fewer than 500 troops and was easily defeated near Deva by a Mercian force.

As 550 came around Elmet mustered another amy only to be completely routed again near Sudbury. Elmet lost the initiative and by July all of Caer Lerion was in Mercian hands. The Mercian armies then marched north to Legioalium (now Castleford, West Yorkshire) and won a string of small victories against smaller Elmetian forces. By 551 Elmet was defeated and Caer Lerion looked ready to seize. However the King of Powys declared his support for Elmet and the Brythonic cause and marched north with an army to “liberate” Caer Lerion. The Powysian armies were defeated on the 11th of April near Deva however and Elmet was forced to finally admit defeat, losing Caer Lerion.

With the Welsh Kingdoms and Elmet now uniting together it showed that the Britons were now fighting together to defend their culture, which was being pushed aside by Anglo-Saxon in most regions. After riots in Deva following the Mercian victories over Gwynedd, Elmet and Powys Eadbeald decided to “get rid of” the native population through a mixture of genocide and mass Saxon migration. By Summer 551 Deva could be considered a majority Anglo-Saxon province. Across Mercia however the Britons were still the majority, highlighting the divide between Mercia and Anglia.

In late 552 Eabeald II declared war on the remnants of Elmet in order to claim the remaining lands that had once been part of The High Lordship of The Peak. King Cadvael once more called upon his Welsh allies to aid Elmet but this time his cries fell on deaf ears, Gwynedd decided that Elmet would not survive and did not wished to be drawn into another costly war with Greater Mercia. Cadvael then tried desperate measures, sneaking around the main Mercian army and laying siege to Deva in order to liberate the province for Gwynedd and bring them into the war. At the Battle of Treboeth however the Elmetians were defeated and Cadvael forced to flee back to his lands. With the counter-attack defeated Elmet was sent reeling and lost the province of Cornovia.



As the lands of the former Lordship of the Peak were integrated into Anglo-Saxon Mercian lands King Eadbeald II created a new title, the Jarldom of Lancaster and awarded it to his second son, also called Eadbeald. On the 27th of December 553 Eadbeald also created the Jarldom of Pegansaete in Northern Mercia, the second traditional Jarldom of the Mercian Kingdom. The new title was given to his daughter’s new husband, Jarl Eadweald of Ernid’s Hall from Denmark who became another steadfastly loyal noble vassal.

Making use of a new causus beli brought about by the creation of the Lancaster Jarldom Eadbeald II once again declared war on Elmet, with the intention of conquering Hibernicum (Liverpool). With Elmet now reduced to this one province Gwynedd finally stepped in, sending an army to Deva. The Britons were wiped out however and by The 10th October 555 Penstone (Elmet’s capital) had fallen and was looted. Hibernicum had fallen and the Lords of the Peak lost the title of Kings of Elmet (because we killed them all). The High Lordship of Ebruac took on the title Kings of Elmet, though it was a mere fig leaf – Elmet was gone in all but memory.

In 556 the largest civil war to strike Greater Mercia in over a decade began as Jarl Ealdfrith of Somersaete declared independence from Eadbeald’s rule. He was joined in the conflict by the powerful Jarl of East-Seaxe, Cynefrith of Anglia. On the 10th of October a crushing rebel victory at Venonae in the province of Ratae seemed to seal Sumorsaete and East-Seaxe’s independence, a massacre where over 2,000 Mercians were killed to a mere 400 men of East-Seaxe. Despite this defeat against East-Seaxe the King received good news in January 557 as the armies of Sumorsaete were defeated at Cunetio, however the main threat was East-Seaxe with its larger manpower and better leadership.

The rebels of East-Seaxe were led in battle by the son of Cynefrith, Cyneweald. Cyneweald was perhaps the greatest military mind in the Anglo-Saxon world at the time and had won many battles against the Elmetians before the massacre at Venonae. He was dissatisfied and shunned by his father however for the unfounded belief that he was in fact not his son. Cyneweald was a great asset to the rebellion and Eadbeald’s spymaster informed him that the commander could be turned to join the side of the King with enough persuasion, depriving East-Seaxe of its greatest commander and putting that asset in Mercia’s hands at the same time. The turning point of the war thus occurred when Cyneweald turned his back on the rebellion of his father and Jarl of Sumorsaete and joined with King Eadbeald II.



Along with Cyneweald came many of his soldiers and the rebels soon looked in a much worse position. The Battle of Tripontium on the 26th of May 557 saw the utter defeat of the rebel armies of East-Seaxe as Cyneweald led forces loyal to the King in a great victory.

By the 3rd of July the rebels surrendered, unable to continue fighting after the destruction of their forces at Tripontium. Eadbeald took differing approaches with the rebelling Jarls. Despite making up most of the rebel manpower Jarl Cynefrith of East-Seaxe was pardonned and made master of the horse – thus increasing the loyalty of Eadbeald’s vassal and his brilliant commander son Cyneweald. Jarl Ealdfrith of Sumorsaete was executed however, the man who fermented the rebellion in the first place and a minor noble that could be replaced fairly easily.

On August 26th 557 Greater Mercia was partioned into the Kingdoms of Mercia and Anglia in order to prevent such fracticious civil war again during Eabdeald’s reign. The Kingdom of Anglia was granted to Prince Tostig so that upon Eadbeald’s death the Kingdom of Greater Mercia would pass to Tostig Nedalskip.
Tostig immediately solidifed his new power, declaring war on Elmet and seizeing the major city of Ebracum for Anglia, a war in which Eadbeald II sent 800 troops to aid his son.

As 558 dawned it appeared that young Tostig would not have to wait long before he became King of Greater Mercia, as from the European continent a great pandemic spread to the realms of the Anglo-Saxons.



The Plague of Justinian had been ravaging the Mediterranean world for the last few decades and its arrival in Britain marked 558 as a very dark year. The Great plague claimed many victims amongst peasantry and nobility alike. It claimed its most presitigous victim on the 1st November 558 however as after only a week of fever King Eadbeald II “the Great” of Mercia succumbed to the plague.



King Tostig I was crowned King of Greater Mercia the following day, inheriting the Kingdom of Mercia and keeping Anglia for himself. The plague continued to ravage Greater Mercia until 560, leaving about 1/3rd of the Nedalskip extended family dead and many, many more peasants. Population levels would not recover until three hundred years later as Europe slided into the Dark Ages.



- That point where the civil war was ended by simply turning one of the rebel commanders was sooo satisfying, the best "moment" I've had in a paradox game and a nice bit of good luck :)
 

NapoleonComple

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This is getting pretty brutal even by Crusader Kings standards. It's like a knife fight in a phone booth.

It'll be interesting when you get to the CK2 transfer point as a pagan leader, if you do so. Especially if you unite the British Isles. A pagan British Isles, able to commit to holy war against opponents on the mainland and face invasion from them for the same reason. Also puts the pagan Eastern Baltic in an interesting position as the Catholic Scandinavian countries will essentially be flanked.
 

BanterCaliph

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This is getting pretty brutal even by Crusader Kings standards. It's like a knife fight in a phone booth.

It'll be interesting when you get to the CK2 transfer point as a pagan leader, if you do so. Especially if you unite the British Isles. A pagan British Isles, able to commit to holy war against opponents on the mainland and face invasion from them for the same reason. Also puts the pagan Eastern Baltic in an interesting position as the Catholic Scandinavian countries will essentially be flanked.

Well it gets more brutal I assure you. That would be a pretty cool scenario... but you'll just have to see what happens :p

Next update and now I realise just how big and hard to control Greater Mercia is...


Chapter 7, Tostig I (558-567)

Tostig I was the 2nd King of Mercia and the 4th ruler of the Nedalskip dynasty, he ruled for a relatively short period of 9 years, following the devestating plague of Justinian and fighting large wars within and without Greater Mercia. For most of his reign Tostig was at war as Greater Mercia began to stagnate.

Tostig’s first action as ruler of Greater Mercia was the creation of the Jarldom of Deira in the lands that had once made up Ebrauc, Elmet. This helped consolidate Anglo-Saxon conquest and rule in the area and also helped the king rule it easier and more efficently through a loyal vassal: Jarl Wealdhere of Sullon Hill.



Dividing Greater Mercia’s territory to be governed by loyal vassals seemed of uptmost importance given the frequent revolts of the Anglian Jarldoms. On the 1st of July 559 Tostig’s brother Eadric became the first Earl of Deva and Tostig I moved his court to Glevum (Gloucester). By October 559 the great Plague of Justinian appeared to have come to an end in Greater Mercia and restrictions on trade and plague laws were repealed.

Though many had died and Mercia was weakened all nations in Britannia had suffered the same fate, even the Irish nations were not spared. Thus in December 559 Tostig launched a war of aggression against Elmet to conquer the Chevriot Hills region and add it to the Jarldom of Deira.
The war was over quickly and after the sacking of Longdendale the Elmetians surrendered in August 560.

Inside the realm however simmering tensions reached boiling point in the issue of the Mercian-Anglian divide. Also relations between the current monarch and the Jarls of Lindsey and Pegansaete were much frostier than those of Eadbeald II – all these factors mixed together. Tostig ignored it for a while, busy campaigning against Elmet and hoping the problem would dissappear. By November 560 however Greater Mercia was involved in a civil war the scale of which had never before been seen.



The Great Mercian Civil War of 560-563 was actually two wars (that expanded to three with the failed arrest of Eowa of the Saxon Shore in 561): the first being Jarl Cyneweald of East-Seaxe attempting to put a puppet ruler on the throne of Anglia (usurping the title from Tostig I in the process) and the second being a bid for independence from Jarls Swæfræd of Lindsey and Eadweald of Pegansaete.

Men from across the Anglo-Saxon world flocked to the banners of both sides, Northumbrians and rebellious Britons filled Jarl Swæfræd’s ranks, looking for glory and a wage. The armies of Lindsey were dealt a close defeat at the Battle of Aquae Arnemitae near Leiceseter however by Jarl Wealdheare of Deira. The victory and Wealdheare’s inspiring leadership raised low morale in the loyalist side, who had previously felt beset on all sides by rebels.

Throughout January and February the Mercian army purusued Swæfræd’s forces throughout the Jarldom of Lindsey, dealing minor defeats to the rebel Jarl. A major blow came to the rebellion when on the 13th of February 561 Jarl Eadweald of Pegansaete was captured and executed at a skirmish at Ednaston Manor. The loss of one of the rebellion’s major figures and Wealheare’s speeches boosted support for Tostig’s rule and loyalists flocked to the King’s banner.



The new army finally met Jarl Cyneweald on the field at Glevum Castle on the 14th of March. The great commander of East-Seaxe was still a force to be reckoned with however and dealt the loyalist forces a crushing blow. From March to May 561 Cyneweald’s forces ranged unopposed in Mercia, sacking the towns of Lactodorum and Dun Cair.

By September however events had taken an unexpected turn. During the chaos of the civil war King Cynemær of Cantia had took up a distant claim to the Jarldom of the Saxon Shore (part of Anglia) through an old relative. The Cantians invaded East-Seaxe and the rebels were unable to resist the Cantians on their own. Cyneweald proposed a white peace, whereby both sides in the civil war would lay down their arms and deal with the invading foreigners. King Tostig I agreed, a war in the north midlands was still going on and he wished to patch up more division in his realm.

On the 15th of September young Jarl Eowa of the Saxon Shore also began to plot for independence! Fearing a continuation of the war Tostig moved to have the young Jarl arrested, but failed and the Saxon Shore rose its flag in rebellion, joining Lindsey and Peganseate.

Finally on the 30th of September 561 Jarl Swæfræd of Lindsey was captured at a skirmish near Leicester, where the rebel Jarl was attempting to rally more to his cause. With his capture the rebellion in the north of Greater Mercia was ended, though the civil war continued in Anglia.



King Tostig I showed great restraint and mercy with Swæfræd, who could be seen as the primary antagonist of the Great Mercian Civil War of 560-563. Swæfræd was released from prisoner and remained the Jarl of Lindsey. He would never again rebel against Mercia’s rule and remained loyal to Tostig I and his son Cynemær “Ironside”.

The war with the Saxon Shore dragged on for two more grim years. Punctuated with small skirmishes and long sieges it was December 563 before Eowa’s last hold fell and his forces surrendered. Despite being only 15 years old Eowa was not spared and executed as an example for all future rebels. A hard fought peace settled over Greater Mercia, though it was becoming apparent to many that the old Mercian realm was simply too large to hold together indefinitely.

In the wake of the large civil war Tostig decided to focus Mercian attention on the Brythonic Kingdoms neighbouring it, attacking the remnants of Elmet for the region of Duntoning, west of Ebracum. After a major victory at Cair Dun the Britons (many of which had came from Rheged to hold back the Mercian conquest of the north) were routed and the Jarldom of Deira’s de facto holdings matched the de jure claims.



565 was a year of peace and respite in Greater Mercia, though that was not to say King Tostig I did not face challenges in maintaining his position at the top. Intrigue was the fashion of 565 as a new threat began to rapidly rise in Mercia. Jarl Beornwulf who had merely been a huscarl before the Great Civil War used his newfound power and hefty retirement fund to usurp the Jarldom of Somerset from the young Lady Ceinwyn, a minor Briton noblewoman. Word soon reached Tostig’s court that Beornwulf intended to take Combe from Cantia with the help of Tostig and then declare a new Kingdom (Wessex). Tostig I was loath to allow this to happen and plotted to bring Beornwulf’s ambitions to an untimely end. The Mercian king was successful in the plot and Beornwulf died after slipping on a bar of soap left by the side of his bath, severely hitting his head on the fall on a hard stone floor.



With a potential rival neutralised Tostig decided to push for the crown of Wessex for himself to add to the long list of titles held by the King of Greater Mercia. In May 566 he declared war on Cantia in order to gain the Scir of Combe and incorporate it into the Jarldom of Somerset.



A victory was won at Sorviodunum on the 8th of July gaining Mercia the initiative and the holdings of Cantian Combe were besieged. Despite the arrival of a relief force the Cantians were unable to turn the tide. After the major victory on the 29th of November at Ermid’s Hall Cantia lost its grip on Combe, unfortunately events in the next few months also meant that Mercia would not gain control of the small county either.

On the 23rd of December 566 Jarld Cyneweald of East-Seaxe once again rebelled against Tostig’s rule, this time to fight for an independent Essex. Both sides mustered their forces until on the fateful day, January the 18th 567, the armies of Tostig I and Cyneweald met at the Battle of Corinium (Cirencester).

The two armies fought hard and Tostig led his huscarls on the right flank where they succeeded in holding back nearly twice as many rebels. Cyneweald decided to break that flank and moved himself and his bodyguard to encourage a breakthrough. It was then that the two rulers and adversaries met on the field of battle, though Cyneweald was an experienced and powerful warrior King Tostig was brave to the point of foolishness and would not endure being called a coward – he stood his ground and fought single combat with the rebel Jarl.



The end result was predictable, King Tostig I was slain by his rebelling vassal and Jarl of East-Seaxe. Tostig I chose a bad time to die: his Kingdom divided and still in a state of war with Cantia. Worst of all Tostig was suceeded by his 3 year old son Cynemær Nedalskip and thus a regency had to be declared before the boy came of age. With an unpopular regent at the head and an infant king the vassals of Greater Mercia began to chafe under the laws of crown authority instituted by the previous Nedalskip rulers of the realm. Echoes of 560-563 returned to haunt many in Greater Mercia as the Kingdom’s future began to look very uncertain…
 

NapoleonComple

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This is not looking good... lucky you've got till 1948 to succeed!
 

BanterCaliph

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This is not looking good... lucky you've got till 1948 to succeed!

I was honestly worried it would end here, but I had some good luck later on and as I said it gets very brutal as I try to cling my dynasty onto power. But this is the "Dark Ages" I guess, so anything goes...

I have to make it to 1948 first and if I do I intend to play beyond that date ;)
 

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This looks indeed very bad

It was, but I think I did a good job of getting through it :p

See what you think, here's Chapter 8.


Chapter 8, The First Mercian Regency (567-579)


After the untimely death of Tostig I his heir Cynemær (who was 3 years old) was far too young to govern as king of Greater Mercia. Taking power on the 19th of January 567 the young Cynemær inherited a kingdom torn by civil war as the rebellious Jarl Cyneweald of East-Seaxe pushed for independence. The young King’s regent, Jarl Cymen was an envious man adept in the art of plotting and intrigue, hence how he rose to the position of regent of Greater Mercia from a low birth position. Cymen liked Tostig however, having served the previous king well and was unwilling to see Greater Mercia torn apart by the petty struggles of its leadership.

Seeking an end to the civil conflict within the realm Cymen ordered the rebellious Jarl dealt with through more covert means. Assassins were sent to kill Jarl Cyneweald and succeeded, thereby ending his rebellion swiftly. Come May however East-Seaxe rebelled again, this time under Cyneweald’s successor: Aelle of Anglia. Unwilling to fight yet another war to keep hold of the rebellious Jarldom Regent Cymen decided to let the Jarl become independent… for now.



The pressures of holding together such a larger Kingdom as Greater Mercia had finally reached boiling point, with many vassals clamouring for independence.
On the 18th of July Cymen decided to release one of Greater Mercia’s more loyal vassals, Swæfræd of Lindsey, as the Nedalskip king of Anglia. This divided Greater Mercia but kept a strong bond between the two kingdoms so that their interests were entwined. Most importantly both areas were now easier to govern. By the end of July however 3 independent realms existed in what had formerly been Greater Mercia, which now became known as simply Mercia.



In August the disintegration of Nedalskip power continued in the north as Jarl Wealdhere of Deira declared his intention to join the Kingdom of Northumbria (perhaps believing he could become more powerful in a smaller kingdom). This of course was met by resistance from the regency and a brief war began in the north to keep hold of Deira.

The war continued until 568, but with Mercian troops busy in the south pacifying rebels and keeping Cantia away Deira had to only win a few minor battles before it was able to declare independence and then joined the Kingdom of Northumbria not a day later. By the end of 568 the borders of Greater Mercia had changed quite extensively (see map below).



569 saw a small war fought to keep the Lordship of Caistor within Anglia. The Brythonic nobles that ruled the tiny province at the mouth of the Humber had always hated Swæfræd and saw a divided and weak Saxon Kingdom as the prime time to strike. They did not count on Mercia coming to Anglia’s aid however and with both powers arrayed against tiny Caistor the result of the war was inevitable.

The division of Greater Mercia and the constant squabbling of the Saxon nobility had a profound effect on the development of young King Cynemær. During 570 he gained a fearsome temper as well as a patient, plotting attitude. 570 also saw the Seaxneat cult take hold in the Jarldom of the Saxon Shore (part of Anglia). The heretical cult and seperation from Anglia caused the Jarldom to declare its independence, drawing Anglia and Mercia into yet another civil war with a former vassal. It took a year but eventually the rebels were defeated, restoring unity once more to the Kingdom of Anglia.

To the south in Cantia Jarl Frearic Abebridge consolidated his power by at first forming the new Jarldom of Dorset for himself and then in an unprecedented move declaring the birth of the Kingdom of West-Seaxe (Wessex) and independence from Cantia! The Cantian King simply allowed Frearic to leave rather than face a great civil war, but in the process lost much land to the new kingdom. Though West-Seaxe was small it would have to be considered in the future, another saxon kingdom that could be potentially useful against the powerful Cantians. Following in West-Seaxe’s wake the small Scirdom of Combe also declared independence from Cantia.




Worried that Cantia would seize back its land or Wessex would take the small Scirdom Cymen offered the chance for Combe to become a Mercian vassal, which the lord of the tiny province agreed, becoming part of Mercia on the 14th of April 571.

Worried that this action would worsen relations with the new Wessexian Kingdom a betrothal was announced on the 17th May where young Cynemær would wed King Frearic’s daughter, thereby securing a marriage-dynastic alliance with Wessex.

The very existence of independent Wessex was a problem to the old established order however and soon the opportunistic Jarl Berhtric of Somerset rebelled against Mercia in order to join with Wessex (as Somerset was de-Jure part of West-Seaxe). The conflict was brief however, basically won after a major battle at Combe Manor on the 18th January 572.



Over the Channel in Gaul the Franks were sent reeling by a Visigoth invasion and massive civil war. With uncertainty on the continent many more Christians came to Britain, converting lands in Wessex and Cantia.

With Mercia stabilised and pacts with Anglia and Wessex, Regent Cymen began to look at the Jarldom of East-Seaxe, remembering the claim to the Jarldom held by his King, Cynemær Nedalskip. The problem with Essex was the size of the Jarldom, being nearly as large as a Kingdom the men who had ruled it had been historically rebellious and powerful. Cymen planned to bring it under the rule of the monarch and distribute the Scirdoms to minor nobles – allowing no-one within Mercia to get too powerful. Of course, this plan would require a large war to be fought and won against Jarl Aelle of East-Seaxe.

So in August 573 Mercian levies were raised and Anglia called upon as Cymen set about ensuring his ward’s claim to the Jarldom of East-Seaxe. On the 22nd of August a major battle was fought and won at Dun Cair on the borders of East-Seaxe. On a single day over 4600 men lost their lives in one of the biggest battles of the era.



Despite this crushing victory for Mercia the war dragged on as the many holds of East-Seaxe were put under siege. By 575 Essex was on its last legs, it was at this time that treachery from within struck at the heart of Mercia.

Lady Theodhild of Cunetio had been in contact with Jarl Eadbeald Nedalskip of Lancaster (Cynemær’s uncle) in a joint bid for Lancastrian-Cunetio independence. Theodhild declared war against the Regency of Cymen on the 21st November 575, just as East-Seaxe was about to fall.

Rather than meeting the new rebels directly Cymen chose to concentrate Mercian force on the remnants of East-Seaxe. By the 3rd of July 576 Aelle of Essex had been defeated and his titles surrendered to King Cynemær. East-Seaxe was now part of the royal demesne. Aelle and his loyal followers fled to Deira rather than face the executioners blade.



With East-Seaxe now taken more levies (even reluctant ones) could be brought to Mercia’s banner to face the Lancastrian-Cunetio rebels. The rebellion did not last long, on the 19th of July 576 the Mercians won a decisive victory at Sudbury, routing the enemy. A month later Lady Theodhild surrendered.

The rebels were dealt with perhaps not as harshly as normal. Lady Theodhild was banished from Mercia to Cantia. Her entire fortune was confiscated by the Regency and her titles given to her successor. Being the uncle of the King Eadbeald of Lancaster was released from the dungeons and even given the title of master of the horse in order to keep his loyalty.



577 and 578 were relatively peaceful years. The Jarldom of East-Seaxe was split into three Scirdoms given to minor nobility who could be assured of their loyalty to future King Cynemær. Though many of these new lords petitioned the Regent to be given the title of Jarl of East-Seaxe Cymen resisted, too much blood had been shed over Essex to repeat the lessons of the past.

Over to the west in Wales the Kingdom of Lleyn had rapidly expanded their territory over weakened Gwynedd. Besides Powys they were the most powerful nation in Wales and soon began to flex their muscle in Mercia’s direction.

Ruled by savage Irish chieftains Lleyn was more barbaric than its neighbours to the south and sent raids into Mercia in 578. These came to a head at the Battle of Brynford near Deva as the Lleynians attempted to take the city. Though the Welsh/Irish forces were repelled the emergence of a more aggressive power to the west did concern many in Mercia.



In January 579 the Chief Diviner of Mercia and supposed paragon of the Norse faith attempted to sway the beliefs of Cynemær, who was coming of age. Attempting to convert the boy to the Cult of Wodanar – a heretical offshoot of the Norse faith that was seen as an affront to the religion for its worship of only one god in the pantheon. The young King resisted the blasphemy however and Chief Diviner Pænda was imprisioned, dieing in his cell a few months later. This event did shake Cynemær’s faith in traditional Norse belief however.

Finally on the 8th of May 579 Cymen relinquished his role as Regent and King Cynemær came of age on his 16th Birthday. The boy became King of a powerful Mercia with much potential. Though the early period of the regency had been tumultous Cymen had served well and Mercia was in a powerful position in Britannia by the ascension of its young King. Cynemær would prove to be a great ruler as a warrior and a steward, helped in no small part due to the tutorage of his great regent.

 

NapoleonComple

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All hail the saviour of the realm! May he be remembered for as long as any of Mercia's serving kings!
 

BanterCaliph

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All hail the saviour of the realm! May he be remembered for as long as any of Mercia's serving kings!

Indeed! I was pleasantly surprised with the success of the regency :)

Nice job. But I suppose that now this separation is going to create some conflict between the Nedalskip's ?

Yep, lots of inter-family war will be coming up shortly...

And here's chapter 9! and a new Nedalskip King sits on the Mercian throne.


Chapter 9, Cynemær “Ironside” (579-593)

King Cynemær I of Mercia came of age on the 8th of May 579. Though officially being King of Mercia since the death of his father Tostig I on the 19th of January 567 the young King had been unable to govern his realm, with Huscarl Cymen taking the reigns of a mostly successful regency. Early on the young king had decided to make it his life goal to restore Greater Mercia to the height of its power, as it had been under his father Tostig I Nedalskip.

Greater Mercia had always been plagued with disloyal vassals and constant civil war, thus Cynemær decided that in order to win the loyalty of his current Jarls he would embark on a campaign against the native Britons to the north, in the area of present day Cumbria.



Fighting in and winning the Battle of Arnside on the 22nd October 579 secured a decisive victory over the Cumbrians. Though Setantia held out until the following summer (giving up in July 580) Cynemær’s victory at Arnside had sealed the victory for Mercia.

A loyal noble was given the title “Jarl of Cumbria” and sent to rule the new province in the name of the King of Mercia and thus Cynemær gained a loyal vassal and prestige for his victory.



The new land won in Cumbria was merely a bonus however, for Cynemær’s true aim as king was to recreate the Kingdom of Greater Mercia. In 581 he usurped the title of King of Anglia, receiving support from nobles in Essex and accepting the vassalisation of Swæfræd of Lindsey (the former holder of the title). Jarl Eadwine of the Saxon Shore staunchly resisted Cynemær’s threat of vassalisation however and lacking a legitimate claim to the Jarldom (besides the de-jure status of it as a vassal of Anglia) Cynemær decided to avoid war in that area for the moment. The massive diplomatic offensive that brought Lindsey back into the fold also gave time for the Briton lords of Caistor to proclaim their independence from the Mercian kingdom. Caistor was not the biggest threat however, given their independence Northumbria attacked the small state, determined to gain land south of the Humber river. The Northmen were driven back at the battle of Praetoria however, and Caistor would ultimately be annexed back into Lindsey and Mercia.

On the 2nd of October 581 a Mercian-Wessexian alliance was solidified as King Cynemær wed Cynethryth of Wessex. Though she gave the king a child the marriage would not be a harmonious one.



Mercia and Britannia in general was a haphazard mess of religions and cults in the year 582AD. Though Christianity was strong in the south of England the original druidic-pagan beliefs of the Britons were prevalent across most of England. The Saxons believed in the Norse religion (Germanic paganism) but this belief had become highly fractured in England, splitting into the Seaxneat cult which dominated Anglia and the Cult of Wodanar, prevalent in the Fens.



Thus in 582AD the official religion of Mercia (Norse Paganism) was only followed by the leading nobility and the majority of the population in the Chiltern Hills region near Lundenwic.

A casual look at a map showed that the majority of Mercia’s core subjects were actually Christian. The new faith was a growing force in Britannia and Europe and many Anglo-Saxons had been converted over the last century. After much consideration of the implications Cynemær decided to announce his conversion to Christianity on the 26th of December 582 (boxing day). The reasoning was that Christianity had converted many Anglo-Saxons, but most of the old Britons still remained true to their old gods: rather than converting to a foreign religion Christianity could increasingly be seen as a religion of the Anglo-Saxon people. With Cynemær’s conversion many of the Mercian nobility followed in his stead, but there were always those that did not and the religious-ethnic divide in Britannia would continue to be a problem for years to come.



583 passed as an uneventful year, save for a magnificent Christmas Feast hosted by Cynemær at Gloucester. The news of Cynemær’s conversion soon spread to Rome itself, where the pope welcomed the news of another Germanic chieftain converting to Christianity. Trade links were soon established with the Mediterranean world, with expensive Latin wines and ideas flowing into Mercia in exchange for Mercian craftsmanship and coin.



The years of stability and prosperity came to an abrupt end in 584 as Jarl Eadbeald of Lancaster (a Nedalskip and Cynemær’s own uncle) declared himself to be better suited as King of Mercia, announcing his conversion to Brythnonic paganism. A religious and a usurper war at the same time the War of 584 ended two years of great progress in Mercia.

It was a relatively short war however. After winning a relatively small battle at Dorn Manor both sides mustered their forces for a deciding clash near Caistor. The Battle of Caistor looked set to be a bloodbath, with nearly 4,000 men on Cynemær’s side and 3,000 on the traitor Jarl Eadbeald it looked as though thousands would die that day. However during the early part of the battle both leaders lead the attack and came face to face in the midst of battle. Cynemær then entered single combat with his traitorous uncle and managed to slay him! The killing of the rebel leader shattered their morale: for the war was entirely about setting Eadbeald up as the King of Mercia, his death certainly put paid to that cause. Cynemær was praised highly for his victory in battle and his direct way of ending the conflict, peace once again returned to the realm of Mercia.



The slow cultural assimilation of the Anglo-Saxons and the Romano-British continued as in 584 the province of Avon became a majority Anglo-Saxon culture province. Inter-marriage and the adoption of Christianity with both ethnicities aided the cultural conversion. The year of 584 was also one of changing borders. In Ireland the Kingdom of Mide unified the entire Island, its ruler King Duncan Midi proclaiming himself the Irish High King. Closer to home the Jarl of the Saxon Shore was usurped in a short war with Cantia. The Southern Kingdom instead placed a Lady with a rather weak claim on the Jarldom, making it a Cantian puppet. In Mercia Cynemær had to face reality when it came to his vassals: Jarl Berhtric of Somerset did not wish to be part of Mercia and Cynemær’s spymaster had informed him that the Jarl intended to revolt, potentially bringing many other Mercian vassals with him. In reaction Cynemær did something unprecedented: he gave up his overlordship of Somerset and made the Jarl independent. This won the Mercian King an ally in Somerset and prevented yet another civil war.



War was on the horizon however and in 585 Cantia attacked Wessex, determined to put another candidate (puppet) on the throne of another nation’s Earldom. Cynemær opted to aid his ally in their time of need and also saw the conflict as a chance to weaken the powerful Cantians. While honouring the alliance with Wessex Cynemær was simultaneously plotting against his Wessexian wife, Cynethryth. His young wife had fallen out with him since his conversion to Christianity and also failed to bear him a son. On a more strategic level an alliance with Wessex was good, but Cynemær’s conversion had now opened up the possibility of an alliance with Western Europe’s most powerful state, the Franks.

With this thought in mind and a powerful alliance block to be made against Cantia Queen Cynethryth did not stand a chance. Cynemær ordered her assassination on the 4th November 585, when the inn she was staying in was blown up with manure.



Barely a month had passed before Cynemær had wed the Princess of the Franks, Audofleda, cementing an alliance with the major power across the sea. Any who had not suspected the Mercian King’s involvement in his wife’s untimely death soon thought otherwise, the timing of the marriage could not have been better for now Mercia had a powerful ally to call upon when dealing with Cantia.

Support would not come in 585-586 however as the Franks were too busy in Europe, completing their conquest of Britanny. Thus Cantia won its war against West-Seaxe, inserting a new Jarl of their choice in the north of that country. Wessex was also forced to end its alliance with Mercia, though this term was agreed upon as news of the demise of their King’s sister began to reach Wessex – whereupon everyone blamed King Cynemær. The Mercian king cared not however, the loss of a small ally to a much more powerful one was a favourable result in his eyes.

586 passed mostly quietly in Mercia, Cynemær spent the year “getting used to” his new wife and learning philosophy and business with the Mediterranean traders. Thus the administration of the realm improved as Cynemær learnt to delegate roles better. By the summer of 587 the smell of war was once again in the air however, over on the continent Britanny had been absorbed into the Frankish domain and Cynemær knew that he would be able to call upon his ally to aid in wars in Britannia. Thus in November 587 Mercia declared the first of its wars with Cantia for control of the Saxon Shore.



The war mobilised thousands of men on both sides, the largest seen in Britannia since the days of the Roman conquest as Cantia and Mercia called upon their levies and mercenaries from the old Saxon homelands. A few thousand men came from Europe to fight as christian fanatics under Cynemær’s banner as well as the huge armies of the Franks. Despite a costly defeat at Lycceword on the 8th December 587 (in which some 8000 men died) the Mercians hit back the following year as the Franks reinforced them, winning a crucial victory at Steortford on the 11th March 588. With the Cantian armies broken after the deaths of thousands the Mercians and Franks besieged their holdings in Suffolk. By that December the Cantians had gave up and lost the castle of Camulodonum. The victory was extremely costly, but the Cantians had come off worse, simply unable to stand against the united power of Mercia and the Frankish Empire. During and after this war King Cynemær would gain his nickname “Ironside” for his decisive victory against Cantia and the sheer size of the conflict he led Mercia through.

The year of 589 and the beginning of 590 saw religion as the main point of interest. Over their time ruling the subjects of Lancaster the Nedalskip branch of the north had converted to Brythonic paganism. Cynemær was disgusted by this however, the weakness of his Anglo-Saxon brethren converting to the faith of those who had been conquered. In July 589 Cynemær ordered Jarl Glædwine Nedalskip of Lancaster to convert to Christianity, a demand he accepted. Though Cynemær had some success converting his nobles this did not spread through to the common folk, perhaps as a backlash to Glædwine’s forced conversion the province of Deva began to embrace a Brythonic pagan cult (of Gofannon), a cult that was directly at odds with both the traditional Norse religion of the Anglo-Saxons and the new Christian faith. What made the matter worse was that Deva’s population was mostly Anglo-Saxon, this being the first time the majority of Saxons in a province had adopted a Brythonic belief system. This simply would not do and Cynemær dispatched his Theologist Eadread to convert the wayward people of Deva.



Besides the heresy of Deva 590 was a good and peaceful year in Mercia. In June a talented young artist painted a portrait of Cynemær’s late father, King Tostig I, greatly increasing the Nedalskip family prestige. The Nedalskip family also welcomed its newest member and new heir, Ceolwulf, son of Cynemær and his Frankish wife, Audofleda.



As 591 came around Mercia once again found itself at war with Cantia, this time Cynemær pressed his claim on central East Anglia, the area around Theodford. Major battles were once again fought as with the help of the Franks the Cantians were forced to give up more of their East-Anglian holding by the summer of 592.

After the fall of Theodford the Cantians could no longer be considered the only claimants to the Jarldom of the Saxon Shore. On the 7th of April with enough gold and work done to falsify claims on the Jarldom King Cynemær usurped the title and bestowed it on a minor nobleman from Mercia.

Cynemær continued to show his devotion to the new Christian god when in March 592 he levied a new tax on the population of Lundenwic at the church’s request. Increased relations with the church were seen as a priority for the Mercian King, for the Pope held both earthly and spiritual power. The constant work and campaigning were bad for Cynemær’s health however and by early 593 the Mercian king contracted a violent fever.



Though he fought against it and many thought he was too young to die of a simple cold Cynemær was destined to pass away from that fever, lasting a mere 11 days before being taken from life. Cynemær died at a poor time, once again leaving Mercia in another regency…



PS. I wanted to remain pagan for as long as possible, but with Christianity taking hold throughout my lands I didn't have much choice to convert or be left behind!
 

NapoleonComple

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A very historical result here, that conversion to Christianity.

Something has to be done about those Cantians. You seem to be suffering from Middle Kingdom syndrome; whenever you beat down one neighbour three more neighbours strike from the shadows.
 

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Hi Oestado,

I am the creator of the Winter King mod and I just wanted to tell you how immensely I enjoy your AAR. To see stories like this born is the reason I created the mod for. You're also amazing in taking every small feature I spent some time into and turning all of them into narrative elements. Great stuff.

Thank you for this!

I am extremely sorry I had to put the development of the Winter King mod on halt (temporarily, I hope). I am very busy with my job, but I can at least promise that the moment the mod will stop working (with the new official patch/DLC for example) I will at least update it and release a new version.

Best,

L.