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BanterCaliph

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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.

Well it seemed like the best thing to do at the time.

And yeah tell me about it... it doesn't help that Mercia is in the middle of the country and surrounded by potential enemies as well as from within.

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.

Hi!

And thankyou!

Without your hard work in making the mod this AAR would never have been written and I'd have probably given up on the idea of an Anglo-Saxon megacampaign. It was your mod that inspired me to do this project :)

Out of interest is there any scripted events in regards to the viking raids that will happen to the end of the mod's timeframe??

And yet another ruler converts to christianity....

I tried to avoid it I really did! :( but holding Mercia together was hard enough without religious turmoil too

Brilliant AAR! Subscribed.

Thankyou!


Sorry about the delay for a new update guys, I promise when I get back from work this evening I shall post another chapter after this one. I've now reached the year 740 in game, getting ever closer to those scary vikings!



Chapter 10, The Second Mercian Regency (593-606)

For the second time in 26 years the Mercian Kingdom found itself ruled over by a regency council of Jarls, this time headed by High Lady Burghild of Pegansaete – former rebel against the rule of King Cynemær and widow of the great traitor Eadbeald, Jarl of Lancaster. Young Ceolwulf Nedalskip was the official king, though being only an infant (3 years old in 593) he was of course incapable of rule.



The regency soon ran into trouble. Cynemær Ironside had spent his life securing his kingdom and attempting to restore Greater Mercia to its past glories. Without his strong leadership however and with religious turmoil still gripping the country civil war broke out as Lancaster, Tripontium and Arden Forest all rebelled against the Mercian Kingdom.

Battles were won and sieges lasted for most of 594. Worryingly during the chaos as Lancaster had temporarily become independent Northumbria seized on the chance to capture the province of Legiolium from us. With Mercian armies divided and focusing elsewhere there was little that could be done.

The situation detiriorated even further when on the 30th July 595 High Lady Burghild of Pegansaete, the regent ruler of Mercia declared her support of the rebels and the intention to govern Pegansaete as an independent realm. Reeve Eormenraed of Gloucester succeeded her as regent, ruling over a divided nation with a boy king.



With more men and better commanders however the civil war was going in Mercia’s favour. On the 22nd October 595 the forces of Pegansaete were defeated near Deva, shattering the rebels’ initiative to make any sort of attacks. By the end of the year Arden Forest and Tripontium had been annexed back into Mercia and Lancaster had lost its armies fighting the Northumbrians.

The internal problems were not yet solved however. In 596 Regent Eormenraed had to decide what to do with the rebels. He ordered the banishment of Earl Eadbeald of Tripontium, the execution of the Earl of Arden Forest and the release from prison of Jarl Glaedwine of Lancaster (due to his being a Nedalskip and uncle to the current King). As Pegansaete began to crumble under Mercian beseigers Jarl Eadric Nedalskip of Cumbria (a distant relation to King Ceolwulf) declared Cumbria’s independence, taking Deva with him. Unable and unwilling to put down another major rebellion Eormenraed gave up Cumbria without a fight In April 596.

On the 22nd of May however the rebellion against Ceolwulf was finally put down as High Lady Burghild surrendered as her holding was besieged. Peace briefly returned to Mercia and some good news came as the province of Caistor, long a Romano-British province that challenged Nedalskip authority converted to Christianity. Sharing a faith with the men of Caistor was judged as a good thing, even if cultural differences were still a problem.

Peace did not last however and Mercia found itself at war again as on the 14th September 596 Cantia declared war in order to prop up Lady Ealhflæd Hasthud (a distant relative to Berthtwynn and the Hasthud sisters that had caused Kings Eadric and Eadbeald I so much trouble) as their puppet ruler of an independent Saxon-Shore (East Anglia). At the start the war went badly for Mercia, losing a major battle at Lundenwic on the 12th November. However Regent Eormenraed had a cunning idea: asking Cumbria for aid. The Jarldom had been granted independence from Mercia, but still wished to help out its former ruler against a powerful Cantian invasion. Cumbria accepted and another thousand troops came down to Mercia. Mercenaries and Christian fanatics also swelled the Mercian ranks, so that as 597 dawned the Mercian and Cantian armies were roughly the same size despite the costly Mercian defeat at Lundenwic.



The Battle of Camboricum in central East-Anglia was the result as over 9,000 men met on the battlefield. The River Glipping was the main obstacle for the Mercian force which although numbering a good 800 men more lost many attempting to ford the river. However weight of numbers and superior inspiring command carried the day and the Cantian army was broken. Though the battle lasted 2 days on the 1st of March 597 the Mercians raised the victory banner. Around 6,000 men had died in the bloodbath at Camboricum, with about equal losses on both sides. The Cantian army was broken however and though the war dragged on until the end of April it was clear that it had been decided on that bloody battlefield.

Post war all was not well in Mercia. Suffering much from the Cantian armies in their lands and losing many soldiers the people of Anglia chafed under rule from Tamworth by a regency. The peasants and nobles alike clamoured for an independent Anglia with strong ties to Mercia and on the 9th of May regent Eormenraed granted Anglian independence once more to old King’s (or Jarl of Lindsey) son Siegfried I, who became the second King of East-Anglia.



The next few years were relatively quiet, besides a failed Northumbrian invasion of Hibernicum (the Mercian area dividing Cumbria’s lands). In the South Wessex expanded its territory with a war against Somerset, taking the tiny county of Combe. Shattered tiny Somerset could no longer hold its independence and after a brief war in 599 Wessex and Mercia partitioned the small Jarldom, with Wessex gaining the Lion’s share.



As the year 600AD dawned Britannia was more divided than ever. The slow break down of Greater Mercia and the expansionism of Cantia had led to some strange borders in England, Scotland was similarly divided into small Kingdoms. The only real regional hegemons in the period were Ireland and the Frankish Empire. In England Mercia and Cantia were about equally powerful, though Cantia was smaller and divided into 3 distinct areas it ruled over large homogeneous Anglo-Saxon populations. Mercia was still a hotpot of ethnic and religious divisions in the year 600 however and the assimilation of the English people was a very slow process.



As the 7th century AD dawned the first few years saw little occur in Mercia. The young King Ceolwulf continued to develop as he was educated and raised by his zealous mother and his teacher, regent Eormenraed. During this time the Anglian King Siegfried converted to Christianity, becoming the second Anglo-Saxon ruler to do so and declaring that he would make the staunch pagans of the region (which mainly followed the Seaxneat cult) convert to the religion of one god. Christianity had turned from a fringe religion to the adopted primary faith of the Anglo-Saxon people of Britannia.



On the 4th November 602 after over 6 years of imprisonment High Lady Burghild was finally released from the dungeons of Tamworth after agreeing to give up all of Pegansaete’s treasury – her entire fortune for her release. Though at first reluctant to free the traitorous high lady the Jarls and Earls of Mercia clamored for the title of Pegansaete and the spymaster advised Eormenraed that releasing Burghild would endear the nobles of the country to the regency. With the treasury considerably richer Mercia declared a war of reconquest in January 603, with the aim of regaining some of Lancaster’s land lost to the Northumbrians during the Lancastrian rebellion and following civil war back in 594. By August 603 the Northumbrians had been defeated and the province of Legiolium once was once again held by the Jarl of Lancaster, vassal of Mercia.



Extending Lancaster’s land through a war looked like a good deal for vassals of Mercia. Knowing this Eormenraed moved in 604 to diplomatically bring Cumbria back into Mercia, with a proposal of vassalisation. Jarl (and self styled King) of Cumbria, Eadric I declined however, for he believed that Cumbria could maintain its independence and culture (the population of Cumbria was mostly Cumbric and followers of the Cult of Gofannon, a Brythonic druidic religion) by playing Mercia and Northumbria against each other. This decision would lead to the unceremonious partition and destruction of independent Cumbria in the not too distant future. 605 seemed a quiet year, but it was one in which Eormenraed prepared for a new war in order to re-establish Mercia’s proper boundaries for when his King Ceolwulf came of age. Lindsey was a prosperous area that was geographically almost seperated from the rest of Anglia by Mercian territory. Due to the granting of Anglia’s independence by the regency not a decade ago the young King Ceolwulf still had a claim on the territory and Eormenraed demanded that King Siegfried of Anglia surrender it without a fight.

The Anglian King outright refused the loss of his original territory, for Siegfried and his father Swæfræd before him had been the Jarls of Lindsey since the Jarldom’s creation by King Eadbeald I back in 542. Thus war broke out between Anglia and Mercia in early 606AD. A major victory was won near the old Roman camp of Margidunum (around modern Nottingham) where the Anglians were routed. Cut off from their lands in Lindsey the Mercian forces laid siege to the Anglian holdings. The siege would go on until early January 607, but the result was inevitable and Lindsey fell to Mercia.



The main event of the year 606 however was the end of Eormenraed’s relatively successful regency and the coming of age of King Ceolwulf Nedalskip of Mercia. The young boy had matured into an ambitious and zealous Christian ruler determined to put his Kingdom at the head of ancient Britannia. The Nedalskip curse of short lives and short reigns hung over the appointment of the new King...

 

NapoleonComple

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Here's hoping for a turnaround. At least you're positively gushing prestige! How did that happen?

Worried about that powerful Ireland and Scotland. If things don't start going right in merry old England soon history could soon take a very different course indeed.
 

jmberry

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Here's hoping for a turnaround. At least you're positively gushing prestige! How did that happen?

Worried about that powerful Ireland and Pictavia. If things don't start going right in merry old England soon history could soon take a very different course indeed.

Fixed it - judging by the colors, the Scots are still stuck in Dal Riata
 

BanterCaliph

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Here's hoping for a turnaround. At least you're positively gushing prestige! How did that happen?

Worried about that powerful Ireland and Scotland. If things don't start going right in merry old England soon history could soon take a very different course indeed.

Fixed it - judging by the colors, the Scots are still stuck in Dal Riata

Yeah the Western Isles are where the Scots are, the rest of modern Scotland is controlled by about 10 minor Pictish rulers which I couldn't be bothered to draw on the map so I just filled the area in blue. Sorry, it is a bit confusing in hindsight!

Ireland IS united however under the King of Leinister and they have occasionally raided (a CB which allows you to steal large amounts of gold from an opponent) the Isle of Mann and the Western Isles so yeah they could have been a potential problem or help...

next update coming soon!
 

BanterCaliph

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Keep up the good work, these are great

Thanks!

New update here :)



Chapter 11, Ceolwulf I and Queen Sisuile I (606-625)



Ceolwulf I came to the throne much like his father and predecessor, Cynemær “Ironside”: aged 16 and from a period of regency rule. The Nedlaksip dynasty was smaller than ever and scattered across Britannia through marriage. Two main branches lived in Mercia, Ceolwulf’s and the Jarls of Lancaster, who had traditionally been Nedalskips, descending back to King Eadbeald’s II brother. Ceolwulf thus resolved to attempt to live longer and increase his branch of the Nedalskip family while at the same time increasing the power of his Mercian Kingdom.

In order to do both of these aims the young Ceolwulf plotted to gain Sisuile of Leinister (the most powerful of the Irish Kingdoms) as his wife – unfortunately she had just married a petty Irish nobleman by the name of Ualtar. Ceolwulf I did not let this phase him, for not only did he find Sisuile very attractive, but she would be useful in holding the country together for she was a very capable diplomat.


Rheged has been renamed Elmet on this picture, this is because someone usurped the crown of Rheged (the ruler also held the title King of Elmet) and decided to make Elmet the primary title. Not sure why but it changed back to Rheged not too long after.


King Ceolwulf set to work bribing and persuading the people close to Sisuile’s husband in order to arrange his untimely demise. By October 607 a plan had been formulated and some mercenaries hired to ambush Lord Ualtar disguised as highwaymen to conceal Mercian involvement.

The Irish lord was caught and killed and Sisuile greived for a moment as a widow. Within a week Ceolwulf proposed a marriage between him and Sisuile to the King of Leinister and High King of Ireland, Duncan “the Great”. The Irish king accepted and Ceolwulf had won both a capable wife and a powerful ally across the Irish Sea.



In 608 the Cumbrian Jarldom which had broke from Mercia back in 596 was finally snuffed out as Northumbria overran Setantia. In response Ceolwulf ordered a Mercian invasion of Deva in order to bring that region back into the Kingdom. No casualties were taken and Deva surrendered and an independent Cumbria was no-more.

Having had a good two years to start his reign and being decently popular with the ruling Jarls of Mercia Ceolwulf was able to increase crown authority from virtually none outside of his demesne to a reasonable level, being able to demand more taxes and levies from his vassals.

Times were good in Mercia, but over the English Channel the Frankish Kingdom was beset by a War of Two Brothers as King Ludger I attempted to hold the throne from High Lord Hunold, a would be usurper. Ceolwulf did not act on the Frankish issue straight away, but made a note to influence the next ruler, for an alliance with the Frankish Empire would be helpful, as it had been against Cantia back in the reign of Cynemær “Ironside”.



On the 31st July 609 Sisuile gave birth to the next Nedalskip ruler and heir to Mercia, Sæwæld. The security of the Nedalskip line of Ceolwulf was now assured. Ceolwulf was a pretty lustful man however and in January 610 he also fathered a bastard daughter by the name of Godgifu to his lover Leofcwen.

The year of 610 was filled with intrigue. Word reached the court of Ceolwulf that his peaceful reign would be shattered by the ambition of his vassal, High Lady Ælthryth of Lindsey who plotted with others to gain independence from Mercia.

Ceolwulf would not allow this and rather than facing a costly civil war plotted with his supporters to “remove” High Lady Ælthryth from power via an organised accident. The year passed and Ceolwulf fell ill with a strong fever. The King was left out of governance for most of 611 as Queen Sisuile governed in his stead. Growing up in a world of powerful men in Ireland and Mercia had taught Sisuile to be a strong woman and she was very much capable of holding her own in the male dominated political world of the 7th Century.

The Illness passed however and by November 611 Ceolwulf had recovered. News reached the King that High Lady Ælthryth intended to launch her independence bid in the new year: Ceolwulf and his co-conspirators would have to act quickly in order to avoid a conflict. Fortunately a minor noble by the name of Ricbhert (a huscarl in service to Ælthryth) approached the King on the 21st of November with the idea of derailing the High Lady’s carriage over a gorge, where she would fall to her death. Ceolwulf approved and the plan was put into action. Thus for the second time in Ceolwulf’s 5 year reign he had disposed of an adversary through the act of intrigue and espionage.



After wrapping up the civil war problem well Ceolwulf began to look beyond Mercia’s borders, to the south. The Kingdom of Cantia had been shaken badly over the last few decades. Despite gaining land in East Anglia they had lost the rich and populous lands of Wessex and their Kingdom was divided. Seeing an opportunity to weaken an old rival and keep the upcoming Kingdom of West Seaxe from growing too strong Ceolwulf declared war on Cantia to take the border province of Venta.

On the 11th June 612 the Battle of White Horse Vale (image of the famed white horse below) decided the brief war and was a crushing Mercian victory. King Ceolwulf personally led his troops to victory on the battlefield.



With Mercia secured and Cantia subdued for the time being Ceolwulf once again looked over the Channel, to Frankia. The old Frankish ruler Ludger had been overthrown and killed by his younger brother Hunold. Though still the Frankish Kingdom was unstable, wracked by civil war. Visigoth raiders returned to plague the southern Frankish holdings and chaos reigned. Hunold was powerful, but he was not the only man claiming lordship over the Franks. Ludger’s son (also called Ludger) and Lord of the Channel Islands was opposing Hunold for the crown and was the main faction in the civil war. Ceolwulf thought that if he were to support Ludger in his bid for the throne then he could claim alliance with him and have the Franks as a powerful ally against the southern Saxon Kingdoms. Thus in December 613 Ludger wed Princess Cynewynn of Mercia, King Ceolwulf’s sister. Ceolwulf thus established an alliance with Ludger the would be usurper and after preparing his huscarls entered the war on his side.



Setting sail for Frankia the Mercian huscarls left England for the first time, arriving on the shores of Cherbourg on the 17th of January 614. Though Ceolwulf had sent a mere 500 men the act of sending his standing and personal troops so far from home to fight for his brother-in-law endeared him to the Frankish lord and his bid for the throne continued with fresh enthusiasm. The Mercians marched with a small allied force south to Mortain where they relieved the siege on the town after a brief skirmish on the 4th of February, losing 8 of their number. Though a tiny skirmish the losses at Mortain marked the first time men of Mercia serving under command of House Nedalskip died outside the British Isles and it went down in the annals of history.



Throughout the rest of 614 the Mercian huscarls fought alongside Ludger’s forces in many battles – large and small. By that December 158 of the men had been lost, fighting a foreign war that dragged on with no tangible benefit. 614 also saw the birth of Prince Cyneric, Ceolwulth’s second son – he would later become a problem to his older brother Sæwæld.

In 615 Prince Sæwæld was old enough (6) to begin his education. Though many nobles put forward their requests and reasons to tutor the boy it was Queen Sisuile who gained the wardship of her son. A devout Christian it is from Sisuile that Sæwæld gained his zealous faith from: and perhaps her Irish origins affected his own upbringing too, for Sæwæld adopted a similar hairstyle to that of his grandfather King Duncan of Ireland. Disaster struck in November 615 however as the usurper Ludger of the Channel Islands, pretender to the Frankish throne was struck down by a sudden and deadly fever. His war ended and the death of 158 Mercian huscarls in Frankia was now a complete waste. The huscarls returned to Mercia with less men, though perhaps a sense of pride for their victories and achievements far from home.

616 began as an uneventful year, though not in Anglia. In Cantian ruled East Anglia tensions were growing between the local lords (who were mostly Christian) and King Cynemær III of Cantia (who was a devout Norse Pagan) these tensions erupted into full scale revolt in the Summer and Elmham declared independence, with intention of joining with Anglia after the conflict. Ceolwulf saw this as a chance to weaken Cantia, which was still the main rival to Mercia amongst the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms of England. Ceolwulf I rushed into battle with his army, rushed too eagerly perhaps and was caught by a loose spear, dieing a noble and glorious death at the Battle of Winchester on the 24th August 616. Killed at the age of 25 Ceolwulf appeared to be another victim of the Nedalskip curse, a King that died young and left an heir too young to rule thus needing a regency. However many did not consider the widow, Queen Sisuile…



Though Saxon culture dissaproved in general of powerful, ruling women a casual skim read over this history of Anglo-Saxon England will show that females could be very powerful in this age. In a period where ruling power was concentrated in the form of families/dynasties women were important in their own ways. Queen Sisuile was not your typical woman, born and raised in Leinister, Ireland she was naturally free spirited like many of her people and had grown up around powerful men. Married to Ceolwulf Nedalskip in 607AD she already had experience in governance during her husband’s illness in 611 where she basically ruled the country. Though the Mercian Jarls protested (much as they had done during her wardship of Sæwæld) Sisuile announced that she would rule as regent (and de-facto queen) until her son Sæwæld came of age when she would relinquish the throne. The early 7th century saw another first: a Queen on the throne of Mercia. The years of 616-625 was also a time where a Nedalskip did not de-facto rule in Mercia, for although Sisuile had married Ceolwulf she was still considered a member of House Midi, the Irish ruling dynasty.



Technicalities aside Mercia continued and the war with Cantia was not yet over. In October 616 Mercian armies invaded the core territory of Cantia for the first time, reaching as far as modern Canterbury. The winter forced our armies to abandon the attack however and the following year the death of the Earl of Elmham ended the war inconclusively: it was a massive insult to House Nedalskip for King Ceolwulf had died during the conflict. During the chaos of early 617 West Seaxe declared war on Mercia in order to claim the province of Ambra, a small borderland that was de-jure part of Wessex. Deeming the province unworthy of the loss of potentially thousands of Saxon lives (Wessex and Mercia were pretty big…) Sisuile surrendered it to the Kingdom of West Seaxe.

Mercia’s territorial integrity was once again threatened when on the 20th November 617 King Hereweald I ascended to the throne of Anglia. Hereweald was the Jarl of Lindsey, and inherited the Anglian throne due to the death of the more immediate claimant via an “accident” a few weeks previous. The new King took Lindsey (which was in Mercia) with him, messing up the borders of the Nedalskip Kingdom.



This of course could not do and an immediate deceleration of war followed from Sisuile of Mercia in order to regain Lincoln. 10 days later the two sides first clashed at the battle of Gloucester, which resulted in a close win for Mercia. This was followed on the 9th January 618 by a much more decisive win at Towcester where over 1300 Anglians died for about 680 Mercians. The Anglians were then put on the back foot and a series of running battles across the Midlands and East Anglia continued until March, resulting in many minor Mercian victories. The Anglians held Lincoln until the Summer of 619 when finally after a victorious Mercian siege they were forced to let go. Lindsey thus became part of the royal demesne.

Over in Cantia the earls of Devon where rebelling anew, proclaiming their desire to rejoin Kernow or join with West-Seaxe, the more powerful and closer Anglo-Saxon power. It appeared that the Cantian Kingdom was now in terminal decline after nearly 200 years after being Anglo-Saxon England’s secondary (and occasionally arguably premier) power. By 630 Wessex and Kernow had divided most of Devon between them, but the province of Din Tagel remained a part of King Cynemaer III of Cantia’s royal demesne and both dared not risk and open war with the Cantian King for the moment.

620 saw an interesting event in North-Western Mercia – the first raid on Mercian lands by people from across the Irish Sea. Those people being the inhabitants of the Isle of Mann, who raided Lancastrian lands in Summer 620AD. Not content with allowing barbaric Britons to raid Saxon lands Queen Sisuile ordered the Mercian army down on the raiders and then a counter-invasion of Mann!



The Battle of Cair Lonan on the 6th of October was the second time in 6 years that Mercian forces had fought outside of Great Britain. The Battle was a victory and the Manx forces were dispersed into the hilly interior of Mann. Not wanting to occupy the island or fight a guerilla war against the natives the Mercians withdrew as quickly as they came, though the memory of Cair Lonan would live long in the minds of the Manx who would not raid the lands of Mercia ever again.

The onward march of progress continued and in 621 Lancaster finally converted to Christianity. Long a stronghold of the Cult of Gofannon, a major offshoot of the druidic Brythonic religion, the conversion of Lancaster was an important event and soon afterwards the East-Anglian and Cantian Anglian territories followed suit, abandoning the old Seaxneat Cults for Christianity.

Religious turmoil broke out in Lincoln in 622 however as Sisuile attempted to convert the populace of Lincoln less subtly: the court Theologian was mobbed and beat up in the streets in a highly embarrassing incident. The events of these years and the strong faith of his mother dealt young Sæwæld a highly zealous streak. Events came to a climax in 623 when Saint Vigilius arrived from Rome to gain more converts in Britannia. The zealous saint appealed to Queen Sisuile to set an example to others that the old pagan beliefs of the Anglo-Saxons were not welcome in the Christian Kingdom of Mercia by getting rid of the Pagan Earl Elfrith of Towcester. Sisuile agreed with the missionary and expelled the Earl from Mercia. Elfrith fled to Cantia, which was by now the only Anglo-Saxon country with Norse Paganism as its official religion – all the other Anglo-Saxon monarchs had converted to Christianity! Though the official religion of Kings Christians were not the majority everywhere in England and pagans were not uncommon among the nobility and the lower class – over in Ireland the country had embraced the new religion much more forcefully.



As Mercia remained at peace in 624 changes were occurring beyond the borders of the Kingdom. Northumbria spread into the Cumbric lands of the Britons of the Old North, though it met tough resistance from the locals in doing so. Over the sea in Frankia the age of civil war and visigothic invasions had finally come to a halt and Frankia was unified again. Over in a distant Eastern corner of the world the Battle of Badr was fought in March. Though only 84 men were killed this battle was the turning point for the development of a new, rather militant faith – Islam. The new faith would spread extremely quickly over the next century.

Back in Mercia the time for Queen Sisuile to rule as regent was over and her son Sæwæld Nedalskip came of age, becoming the next King of Mercia. Sisuile left her son to get on with it, retiring to a nunnery to live out the rest of her days and devoting her life to the worship of god. Sæwæld I became King as a “Charismatic Negotiator” a useful trait in a Kingdom famed for its civil wars and insubordinate vassals.

 

NapoleonComple

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Glad those nasty Cantians have been sorted out. Though it looks like Wessex has risen in their stead. Better get the boot out...

Is someone actively killing your kings off or something? None of them seem to live much past age 20.
 
Last edited:

TheWolfe

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It's been very quiet on this forum lately:( . But ya, do you have your spymaster in your capital, it is very suspicious how fast your kings are dying. You inspired me to play the mod and I have found that such short reins is unusual, at least in rome. (Soissons)
 

BanterCaliph

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Glad those nasty Cantians have been sorted out. Though it looks like Wessex has risen in their stead. Better get the boot out...

Is someone actively killing your kings off or something? None of them seem to live much past age 20.

As you said earlier, middle Kingdom syndrome :p

Yeah I noticed that, I think its just my king's fault though for not really caring what others think of their actions.

It's been very quiet on this forum lately:( . But ya, do you have your spymaster in your capital, it is very suspicious how fast your kings are dying. You inspired me to play the mod and I have found that such short reins is unusual, at least in rome. (Soissons)

Soissons are quite fun to play actually :) I think after I've done this leg of my megacampaign though I'm going to give Elmet a go :)


Anyhow sorry for keeping you guys waiting, here's the next chapter.



Chapter 12, “The Kinslayer” (625-651)


On the 31st of July 625 the next Nedalskip King came of age and ascended to the throne of Mercia. The maturing of King Sæwæld presented the people of Mercia with new hope, hope that the Nedalskip Kings could guide the Kingdom back to its former greatness and could achieve more stability in the face of numerous civil wars and regency periods. For the first few years King Sæwæld was a great success in this regard.

Sæwæld did know that the Nedalskip dynasty would not continue without producing an heir however and married on the 15th of August to Ælfswith of Aberbridge, a distant relative to the ruling Aberbridge House of Wessex. Ælfswith was an intelligent and skilled woman and would provide Sæwæld with the heirs he so desperately needed.



The young King Sæwæld knew that in order to prove his strength as a ruler he would have to unite the fractious Jarls of Mercia against a common foe – and in 625 the perfect enemy was the crumbling power of Cantia to the south. Sæwæld declared war in order to bring about the independence of Hampscir (Hampshire) and make it a Mercian vassal state in the south. The Mercian armies marched into Cantia but were unable to bring the Cantian army to the field. Sæwæld resorted to burning the farms of Kent until on the 10th September the Cantians fought with Mercia at the Battle of Castrum Lemanis, near Dover. Here Mercia won a great victory (though Sæwæld was notably absent, being a craven ruler) and the Cantish King Cyneamær III was captured. He was ransomed back for a huge gold payment and the ceding of a border province – this truce would last only a year before hostilities resumed.

With the border province of Venta now in Mercian hands Sæwæld announced the birth of the Jarldom of Hampscir on the 28th of December 625 and gave the title to a puppet ruler. Hampscir finally erased the old Brythonic boundaries of the area that Cantia had left alone and re-organised the area into Saxon rule. The push to create Hampscir stirred something within the young King Sæwæld, who soon gained a reputation for being an ambitious young man – often speaking of restoring Mercia back to the glory days of Eadbeald II. In 626 Cantia lost its lands in Devon finally to revolting lords who chose to either join Wessex and Kernow, or strike out their own path as independent states – the latter often found themselves annexed by Wessex within a few years. Cantian East Anglia would follow in the 630s as the Cantian state was reduced back to its original homelands.




Mercian-Cantian hostilities resumed in 627 as the Battle of Portus Magnus (modern village of Bosham) on the 8th of March saw the defeat of a large Cantian army. The Cantian Kingdom had fallen apart and the result of the conflict was inevitable, Hampscir became a Mercian Jarldom and for a short time the Mercian Kingdom stretched from the English Channel in the South to the borders of Cumbria.



To celebrate his great successes against Cantia Sæwæld hosted a magnificent feast in the New Years’ of 628: the like of which had not been seen in Mercia before. A huge amount of gold was spent and the guests gorged themselves on the best food that could be procured in 7th Century Britannia. During February as the Jarls of Mercia were still under the warm spell of the feast Sæwæld took the opportunity to increase Crown Authority Laws so that they were at their highest level since Eadbeald II “the Great”. This would prove to be his undoing however and it was from 628 onwards that the reign of King Sæwæld began to deviate greatly from its bright and promising start.



The birth of an heir on the 16th of October was another piece of good news for house Nedalskip, Eadweald was born a weak and feeble infant though, a trait which would stay with him for the rest of his life. The air turned sour in early 629 with the death of Jarl Æthelfrith of Hampscir however. Æthelfrith had been a loyal Mercian puppet, set up in his position by King Sæwæld. With his death his pagan son Hrothgar inherited and the young Jarl had a deep resentment of Hampscir’s position as subordinate to Mercia. Hrothgar soon began to plot for independence and he had the sympathies of some of Mercia’s other nobles. Sæwæld decided to cut his losses and prevent a civil war in his Kingdom by granting Hrothgar his wish – independence. Hampscir was cut loose on the 20th March 629 to exist as an independent realm, forming a neutral buffer between Cantia, Mercia and Wessex.



Ill fortune continued to strike as Sæwæld declared war on Anglia to gain the Chiltern Hills to make up for the loss of Hampscir. Despite winning several battles the Anglians were able to hold onto the area thanks to a mix of guerilla tactics and harsh weather/terrain. More Mercians died of attrition due to lack of forage and hostile civilians than combat and the brief conflict ended in a white peace.

Looking to strengthen Mercia in other ways Sæwæld married off his half sister (and King Ceolwulf’s bastard daughter) Godgifu off to King Caswallon II Caradoc of Gwent, forging an alliance with the small Welsh Kingdom. This alliance would be almost immediately used because on the 6th of November 630 a large civil war broke out in Mercia, with the Earls of the core Mercian territories rebelling – mainly due to Sæwæld’s continued holding of the Jarldom of Hwicce. On the 6th of December the civil war took on a far more personal level as King Sæwæld’s own brother Cyneric Nedalskip, Earl of Avon, declared his support for the rebellion and the intention to become King of Mercia. Cyneric had the support of many Jarls, being a much more likeable man than his older brother (and importantly to people in the 7th Century, not a craven coward).



The first major battle was fought at Fosse Manor near the old Roman Road between a Mercian-Gwentish army and the forces of Cyneric the would-be usurper. Despite the loss of some 3,000 lives that day the traitors were beaten back and a victory was proclaimed for those loyal to King Sæwæld. By October 631 the rebels had been pushed back to their holdings in Avon and Tripontium and forced to surrender. Cyneric was imprisoned and now Sæwæld was faced with the impossible question about what to do with his traitorous sibling.

On one hand Cyneric was his brother, executing one’s kin was seen as a great moral sin and would greatly lower the respect Sæwæld’s vassals had for him, maybe in the future causing more revolts. But on the other hand Cyneric was too dangerous to let live – he had a strong claim to the Mercian throne and much support aswell as having already been the cause of thousands of deaths at Fosse Manor. In the end Sæwæld opted to arrange Cyneric’s death, by hiring an agent to slip into the prison and guide the Prince on a staged escape attempt where a fatal accident would befall him. Unfortunately Sæwæld did not tie up loose ends and allowed some of his hired perpetrators to live, who eventually spread the tale until it became common knowledge. Within a month of Cyneric’s death everyone in Mercia knew King Sæwæld was responsible and general opinion turned against the new king, despite the increased support from some who viewed it as the right action to take against a dangerous traitor.



Sæwæld became increasingly stressed and depressed in the following months, when news reached him of a plot of rebellion by Earl Cymen of Corinium in March 633 the King once again sent assassins, though this time his involvement was kept hidden. King Sæwæld was fast gaining a reputation as a ruthless ruler who would dispense of any who got in his way.



In 634 the population of Hibernicum (modern south Cumbria/north Lancaster) converted mostly to Christianity. This decleration was promptly followed by one of war between Mercia and Northumbria for the province, with Mercia preparing to defend their territory against the heathen northerners. The Battle of Cair Dun on the 11th of August sealed a Mercian victory and Hibernicum remained under King Sæwæld’s rule. Border conflict with Northumbria continued until 636 however as the northerners attempted to gain some land along the border, to no avail. No sooner had that conflict ended than a new civil war opened up in Mercia, this time Jarl Pæga of Lancaster, a Nedalskip with distant connections to Eadbeald II “the Great” claimed the throne for himself and launched a violent bid to usurp Sæwæld. On the 30th of May 636 Pæga was joined by the Jarls of Pegansaete and Deva. Though early June saw a string of minor victories against rebel forces a large defeat at Arden Forest on the 25th shook confidence in the ruling monarch and many traitors flocked to the banner of Pæga. Things began to look a bit better when the men of Deva where beaten decisively at Ednaston Manor on the 3rd of October, but it was only a temporary reprive: a mere day later Anglia declared war, determined to regain Lindsey – a de jure territory.



Now fighting against a foreign power and a major revolt it is easy to imagine that Sæwæld’s reign ended here, beset by so many enemies and conflict. However a string of major victories that could be attributed to little more than luck or divine favour against Anglia in November and the Lancastrian rebels in December turned the tables so that by 637 it was Mercia in the favourable position. On the 2nd of February the Battle of Margidunum saw a decisive victory against Anglia and given this rapid change of circumstances Jarl Pæga signed a white peace, resorting back to being a vassal of the Mercian King – albeit a dangerous one. By the 31st of March Anglia had also been forced into a white peace and things returned to how they had been the previous year, with much unspoken tension between the former belligerents.



Sæwæld could not deal with having Jarl Pæga running free in his realm however and attempted to imprison him in May. Pæga was able to escape the guards however and rebelled to cast off Sæwæld’s rule. This time the revolt was cut short as the Jarl was captured in battle on the 17th of June. He later died in the dungeons of Lincoln. With the traitorous Jarl lifted from Lancaster rebellious sentiment died down, the next piece of news to reach the ears of the King was that Viroconium (the capital province of Lancaster) had abandoned its pagan faith and converted to Christianity. Mercia was now about 80% Christian and along with Wessex the most Christianised of the Anglo-Saxon nations. Along with Christianity the culture of Mercia was slowly but surely changing to Anglo-Saxon amongst the general population. Though the hilly areas of the Pennines and the forested areas of central England held out (so too did Lincoln) for longer around this time the culture of Lancaster shifted to Anglo-Saxon along with most of Mercia so that by the end of 637 about 75% of the country could be considered Saxon.



Lincoln remained a bastion of Romano-British paganism however and one of the more notable events of 639 was the mobbing of Sæwæld’s court theologist by pagans during his attempted conversion efforts. As if an omen for bad times the Winter of 639-640 was especially harsh: killing many of Mercia’s elderly or weaker subjects and making taxation much harder. The snow did not recede until March 640.



The new year saw a new war with the Kingdom of Anglia. This time over the church in Gloucester which had by inheritance passed into the hands of an Anglian vassal and leaving the Mercian realm. Sæwæld could not abide a small part of Anglian land within his own Kingdom and declared war in order to set this state of affairs straight. The Battle of Woodcove in October of 640 was the decisive engagement and with the Anglian field army defeated Gloucester church had fallen by the end of the month.

The Anglians would not surrender so easily and marched a new army west. They were promptly defeated again in March 641 however and the war ended. 641 also saw the death of King Sæwæld’s mother and de-facto ex-Queen of Mercia, Sisuile. Aged 57 Sisuile’s death was natural and she was mourned by a great many people in Mercia and Ireland. The year of 641 also saw another death – that of an independent Hampscir which was annexed into Wessexian territory after 12 years of self rule.

Mercia was able to gain the province of the Fens from Anglia in early 643AD. The Fens had shook off the rule of Anglia after a war of independence motivated mainly by religious differences (the Anglian king was a pagan). Newly independent the Earl of the Fens was quite weak, granted his independence mainly due to the Winter weather of 642, which prevented Anglia from mustering an army to deal with the revolt. King Sæwæld of Mercia proposed to become protector to the Fens and the area became a mostly autonomous vassal of Mercia.



The next two years saw more peace in Anglia. In 643 Sæwæld courted a martial adviser from the east (most likely China) who had come to Britannia for an unknown reason, perhaps traveling the world. He stayed at the King’s court for several months and helped teach Sæwæld many things regarding the Art of War. The eccentric foreigner left without a trace, the lessons learnt from this period may have helped Sæwæld in the coming years during his reconquest of Anglia.
In 644 the people of Lincoln were finally converted to Christianity. Long a holdout of the Old pagan gods of the Britons the province was finally beginning to come in line with the rest of the country. Culturally aswell the province was beginning to change, with spoken Old English becoming more common than old Brythonic.



On the 16th of October (644) the firstborn and heir of Sæwæld came of age: Eadweald was a “dutiful commander”, though a weak individual he had a decent grasp of military tactics: he was certainly no good at politics however, being a shy and content individual. Still he was the firstborn Nedalskip son and heir to the Kingdom of that dynasty. He was betrothed to his younger cousin, Ralla, daughter of the deceased Cyneric Nedalskip (the traitor of 631) in an attempt to patch up the sins of the past and “clear up” the different branches of the dynasty – even if it meant inbreeding a little. Ralla was a boisterous child and would be able to fill in diplomatically where her quiet husband could not.



War with Anglia broke out again in 645 as Sæwæld pressed a vassal claim on the Chiltern Hills Province near Lundenwic. The Battle of Towcester in July sealed a victory that had been claimed by the following year after all Anglian holdings in the Chiltern Hills were taken. In 647 Lincoln finally reached a tipping point where the local population could be considered “Anglo-Saxon” due to the adoption of English, Christianity and other cultural quirks. Generations of inter-breeding had also changed the Saxons and Britons into the Anglo-Saxons so that by now the Saxons who had come to Britannia were quite different from those that had stayed back in Germania and Denmark.



The year of 648 saw another Anglian-Mercian conflict, this time with the new King Wilfrith I of Anglia attacking us in order to regain the Chiltern Hills area. Wessex fought on our side in the conflict and Cantian mercenaries sided with Anglia, making the war over a small border region much larger than usual. The Battle of Woodcove fought on the 6th of January 649 was the decisive action, with over 7,000 men being killed on the field that day on both sides. During the battle King Wilfrith was captured and ransomed back to Anglia for most of their treasury. The Anglians were broke and could not continue fighting: Mercia won the war. The constant wars with Anglia made Sæwæld think however: Anglia had once been part of Greater Mercia and was still much weaker than the Nedalskip Kingdom. Sæwæld declared it to be his new life goal to bring Anglia back into the Mercian realm and re-establish Greater Mercia.

To the west the Kingdom of Powys was busy uniting Wales under one King. The Irish ruled state of Yns Wyren had been pushed back to the Island of Angelsey as King Deiniol strove to unite all Wales: Mercian allied Gwent looked north with concern and Sæwæld increased the fortification of several holdings on the border with Powys, expecting a war in the near future with the Welsh.

As the year of 651AD began a new era dawned in Sæwæld’s reign. Anglia fragmented as the poor reign of King Wilfrith led many lords to abandon their King. The length of King Sæwæld’s reign and the lack of any real opposition (neutralised by an assassins blade or through the earlier civil wars) put the Mercian King in a good position to reach his aim of re-founding Greater Mercia. In many ways the period just gone was like King Eadbeald II’s “Lost Years” and Sæwæld’s reign was very similar.

 

NapoleonComple

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Finally, Mercias starting to look less like Mercia and more like England.
 

BanterCaliph

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Finally, Mercias starting to look less like Mercia and more like England.

Still got that annoying Wessex and the Northumbrians to deal with yet :p
I fear it may take the viking invasion to shock the English into unification.

To make up for the lack of posting recently here's the next chapter!



Chapter 13, The Mercian Golden Decade (651-661)


The later reign of Mercian King Sæwæld I Nedalskip is often referred to as Mercia’s “Golden Decade”. King Sæwæld had a bloody early reign suppressing his enemies inside Mercia through civil war and espionage, by the 650s however all serious internal opposition had been dealt with and now the King turned to the goal that had been on the minds of all Nedalskip kings since the death of Eadbeald II – the rebuilding of Greater Mercia and a return to those glory days.

By 651AD Elmham and Aldeburgh had split from the Anglian Kingdom: Sæwæld saw the entire territory as rightfully Mercian land and began to extend diplomatic offers of vassalisation to the eastern Saxons. The Anglian King outright rejected the offer, being far too proud and having fought numerous wars with Mercia relatively recently. Pagan Aldeburgh also rejected joining a Christian Kingdom. On the 19th of April Lady Ceolburh of Elmham accepted Sæwæld’s offer and Mercia peacefully accepted the province of Elmham into the Kingdom. This decision enraged Anglia greatly and the stage was set for conflict over the region.

A mere month later King Sæwæld I declared war on Anglia, determined to seize the province of Cæster Forest on the border. Wessex came to Mercia’s aid and “volunteers” from Cantia filled Anglian ranks. A series of minor skirmishes were fought but the war came down to a crucial battle fought at Aldeburgh on the 6th September 651. Here the Anglian army was decisively destroyed and the war basically won.

The Anglians fought on until 653 as a string of smaller battles were won and sieges completed. Cæster Forest had been taken and the Anglians were basically now at Sæwæld’s mercy. On the 25th of February steps were taken to ensure the survival of the Wessex-Mercian alliance as King Sæwæld’s third son Freamund was betrothed to young Princess Æscwynn, due to be wed when she came of age in 5 years.



653 was also the year in which the title King of Anglia passed back into Nedalskip hands. After victory over Anglia in the last war and the seizing of their most important de-jure provinces (mainly Lincoln and Lundenwic) King Sæwæld’s prestige was high enough to usurp the title. The Kingdom of Anglia fragmented into many small counties independent of each other. Though most of them remained hostile to Mercia the county of Adelburgh had a change of leadership: the new Christian ruler accepted Sæwæld’s offer of vassalisation on the 18th of December. Jarl Frearic was later promoted to Jarl of the Saxon Shore, ensuring his loyalty.



Tensions with the remaining rulers of Anglia were raised by King Sæwæld’s scrapping of the title King of Anglia in January 654. In the past the title had caused civil wars and the eventual splitting of Greater Mercia. Sæwæld believed that destroying the title for a temporary period of instability would benefit the Nedalskip Kingdom in the long run. King Sæwæld’s decisive leadership in recent years and re-founding of Greater Mercia had earned him the nickname of “the Great” with his supporters: the second Nedalskip King of Mercia to be given this nickname by popular support.



In February Sæwæld moved his offensive onto the independent county of Lundenwic. Its pagan leadership staunchly opposed diplomatic offers of vassalisation into Mercia and the fortified town held out until November. In December Sæwæld went to war with Theodford (in central Anglia). On the 12th Jarl Frearic of the Saxon Shore proved his loyalty and usefulness to the crown and won a battle against a larger force from Theodford at Aldeburgh.



Thunreslea declared its support for Theodford in January 655, entering the conflict on their side. The combined forces of the minor counties were defeated in the Battle of Theodford Castle on the 20th of February. Despite this defeat Thunreslea and Theodford held out all summer, fighting and winning several smaller battles and frustrating Sæwæld’s large unweildly armies by raiding Mercian countryside. By October however Theodford had fallen and was annexed, Thunreslea managed to survive a little longer and allied with the last remnants of Anglia: the county of Camulodonum.

The year of 656 started with the conversion of Deva – long a Brythonic pagan stronghold Christianity was the majority religion in all Mercian provinces besides the Trent Hills and Towcester. The brief winter peace was shattered as in June Mercia once again went to war with Thunreslea, this time to annex the county completely. Loyal Anglian forces suffered a setback at the Battle of Thunreslea on the 11th however and it took a joint Mercian/Gwentish army at the Battle of Sullon Hill 2 months later to finally defeat the stubborn men of Thunreslea.

Despite the defeat of Thunreslea’s field armies the province held out another year and was a real sign of defiance to King Sæwæld’s ambition and vision. Taking note of the county’s brave resistance to Mercia the pagan Reeve of Lundenwic Hereweald rebelled against Mercian rule, diverting more of Sæwæld’s troops to suppress his revolt. By the end of 657 however Thunreslea had been conquered and Lundenwic subjugated. King Sæwæld revoked Reeve Hereweald’s title and governed Lundnewic himself from then on.

By the 15th of August 658 the county of Camulodunum had also been forcibly annexed into Mercia after a brief siege. On this date King Sæwæld I declared the rebirth of Greater Mercia and the Nedalskip Kingdom was at its greatest territorial extent for decades.



Sæwæld did not rest and moved to ensure the loyalty of his vassals and the integrity of his Kingdom. In late 658 the House of Anglia was removed from its position as Jarls of Lindsey, with High Lady Tole being coerced to relinquish her title. Mostly disliked by Mercia’s other Jarls and an unabashed pagan Sæwæld met little opposition. The title was given to Sæwæld’s third son Freamund, a highly intelligent young man who it is said was loved more by his father than the eldest and second sons. Sæwæld’s second son Hrodberht was given the Scirdom of Deva to rule as his own county, a fact that he did not appreciate due to his lower position than the third son. Hrodbhert was promised the Scir of Lundenwic after Sæwæld’s death however, so that the inheritance would be balanced between the three sons of King Sæwæld.

Internal trouble struck in 659 however as Lady Tole (former ruler of Lindsey) declared her intention to usurp Jarl Freamund Nedalskip (the second son) and regain the Jarldom. King Sæwæld could do nothing as the crown laws of Mercia allowed inter vassal conflicts. The King plotted to “remove” the high lady through covert means however. Grave news reached the royal court in December as sibling rivalry reared its ugly head amongst the sons of House Nedalskip. Hrodberht had cast aside family values and sided with Lady Tole in order to get rid of his brother and probably use this as a springboard to gain the crown upon Sæwæld’s death. On the 12th of December Devan troops led by the wayward second son even sacked the town of Caistor (part of Freamund’s demesne) butchering many innocents – and yet King Sæwæld could only look on with sorrow.



Due to this sacking however Jarl Freamund called upon his ally and father in law King Frearic II of Wessex to support him and soon 3,000 more men were marching to aid the third son in his conflict. The would be usurper Lady Tole was defeated and imprisoned in January 660 and Freamund retained his Jarldom. Hrodberht was disgraced and fell from favour in Mercia, though he still held his titles and received nothing more than a telling off for his actions at Caistor.

Prince Hrodberht was snubbed however and the heir to Greater Mercia, Prince Eadweald was a craven weakling also disliked by the ruling Jarls. Many began to prefer that Freamund would succeed his father indeed King Sæwæld may have promised the Kingdom to both Eadweald and Freamund in 660AD, leading to hostilities between the brothers which would eventually erupt into open war…

661 also saw the collapse of the myth of Powysian invincibility in Wales, with crippling civil war after the death of King Deiniol I Mercia saw an opportunity to expand claiming two new provinces in the west: Lugg Vale and Pengwern.



On the 6th of November 661 King Sæwæld I died a natural death and the throne of Greater Mercia was up for grabs. His eldest son was nearest to Sæwæld at his death and seized the crown, proclaiming himself king due to his eldest birth. The people of Mercia did not want Eadweald as King however and soon a popular movement began to install Jarl Freamund of Lindsey (Sæwæld’s third son and potential Nedalskip heir) as the King of Greater Mercia. Thus began the great Mercian Brother’s War…
 

NapoleonComple

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Oh come on, not a kingdom-destroying civil war! You were so close!

This is the most exciting AAR I've read for years. Can't wait to read more.
 

BanterCaliph

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Oh come on, not a kingdom-destroying civil war! You were so close!

This is the most exciting AAR I've read for years. Can't wait to read more.

Yeah the next bit gets interesting, the Nedalskips are at each-others throats.

Thanks, that kind of support is great to hear :D

On a rather sad note though I'm not sure I'll be able to finish this AAR :( I've played through to the year 750 but the new update appears to have broken the mod, or at least my savegame where my armies cannot move =/ I'm really quite clueless what to do and I don't want to give up this megacampaign, especially as the transfer date to CK2 is only 117 years away :(
 

TheWolfe

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I've had the same problem with it since the update as well. I think, but this is just a guess, that if you could find the old
version of the game you could put it in your mod folder, run them both, and it might manage to allow the mod to run. I have no idea if this would work and have not personally tried it but it might be worth a shot in order to save such an amazing
aar.
 

jmberry

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Just about every active mod has a fix for that - just browse the Mod subforum and you should be able to find one that works (Game of Thrones is probably your best bet)
 

Luca0312

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Yeah the next bit gets interesting, the Nedalskips are at each-others throats.

Thanks, that kind of support is great to hear :D

On a rather sad note though I'm not sure I'll be able to finish this AAR :( I've played through to the year 750 but the new update appears to have broken the mod, or at least my savegame where my armies cannot move =/ I'm really quite clueless what to do and I don't want to give up this megacampaign, especially as the transfer date to CK2 is only 117 years away :(

You can download the new version of the mod here: The Winter King, updated for latest patch. It should be savegame compatible with your current campaign (I really hope so).
 

BanterCaliph

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So, thanks to Luca this megacampaign will go on :D

This next update is short is focused on the largest civil war yet, but for this one I decided NOT to play as Sæwæld's heir and oldest son but the usurper Freamund. Not sure if its cheating but I wanted the better brother on the throne and he still is a Nedalskip, also putting him on the throne causes trouble later...


Chapter 14, The Mercian Brother’s War (661-664)

The death of King Sæwæld I on the 6th of November 661 heralded the start of an uncertain period in Greater Mercia. The eldest son of the king and by tradition the “rightful” heir to the Kingdom was unloved by the lords and the people, a craven and weak individual. Eadweald Nedalskip gained the throne upon his father’s death, becoming King Eadweald I of Mercia.

However many were not happy with this state of affairs and with encouragement from other nobles in Mercia his younger brothers both conspired to seize the throne. On the 22nd of November Jarl Freamund founded a movement to put himself on the throne. The second son of Sæwæld, Hrodberht Nedalskip also strove to claim the throne for himself. Being a proud and selfish man however the various nobles of Mercia preferred Freamund and many prominent Mercian vassals declared their support of the Jarl of Lindsey. On the 26th Jarl Cyneheard of Pegansaete was the first lord to throw his lot in with the usurper, more lords promised assistance if Freamund where to move directly against his elder brother and declared war. Freamund gambled and on the 8th of December 661 he declared his bid for the throne and the Mercian Brother’s War began.



Support from Eadweald’s former vassals flooded in with a shock announcement from his wife Lady Ralla of Avon on the 12th of December that she would be supporting Freamund’s bid for the throne. Avon was a small county and would not grant Freamund many troops, but the morale boosting effect of having the King’s own wife turn against him was a big boost to Freamund’s rebellion. Sensing the way the wind was blowing Hrodberht Nedalskip abandoned his own bid for the throne and threw in his lot with Freamund: the opportunistic and ruthless second son wanted to make the most of the conflict. The lords of Towcester, the Chiltern Hills and Arden Forest all pledged their support to Freamund before January and on the 2nd of January 662 the rebellion received support from outside of Greater Mercia as the King of Gwent (staunch ally of Mercia) decided to recognise Freamund as Mercia’s new king, given the popular support the Jarl of Lindsey had attained.

By the beginning of 662 Mercia had divided into two camps – those loyal to Jarl Freamund of Lindsey the would be usurper and those loyal to King Eadweald I, the despised and weak monarch.



The first battle of the Brother’s War was fought at Aethelford, in the Fens on the 2nd of January 662 immediately following the Fen’s decleration of support to Freamund. Though the army of the Fens was defeated and destroyed it slowed down the reinforcing Mercian armies from their Anglian territories marching north. Due to this the forces of Freamund (men from his demesne in Lindsey) were able to defeat a segment of forces loyal to King Eadweald at the Battle of Gausennæ on the 8th of January, significantly raising the morale of the forces supporting Freamund. The rebel forces marched in unison to Eadweald’s capital at Gloucester (though the Mercian King had fled north to join forces in Lancaster) and laid siege for 3 months.



By early May it was looking as though Gloucester would likely fall. It was then that Eadweald called upon his powerful ally to the south – the Kingdom of Wessex which joined the war to prop up Eadweald’s weak claim to the throne of Greater Mercia. The forces of Wessex bypassed Freamund’s primary force in Gloucestershire and marched north to attack the Jarldom of Pegansaete (important allies of Freamund). Here they won the Battle of Fosse Manor on the 17th of May and struck back making the war once again a two horse race for the throne.

As Freamund and his army continued the siege of Gloucester the Wessexian army attacked the holdings of Freamund’s allies, scoring another more convincing victory at Steortford on the 11th of June, shattering the forces of Lundenwic. This Wessexian army had become such a nuisance to Freamund’s allies that the King of Gwent, Caswallon II, departed the siege of Gloucester in late June with 3000 men, determined to end the harassment. On the 15th of July the men from Gwent, reinforced by more Pegansaete soldiery finally met and defeated the rampaging army from Wessex at the Battle of Tripontium. The victory was rather Pyrrhic however, the damage had been done and the men from West Seaxe had inflicted heavy casualties on the rebels. The main Mercian army led by Eadweald had finally moved from Lancaster and was besieging Freamund’s demesne: having taken the town of Caistor by early July they now threatened the city of Lincoln itself.



With Lincoln under siege and the Mercian army finally brought down to face the rebels Freamund wasted no time in abandoning the siege of Gloucester and marching north to confront his enemy’s army on the battlefield.

The Battle of Ednaston Manor was the result, the largest single battle in the war and almost certainly the most decisive. Most wars of the period came down to one battle which tipped the scales to one side or the other and the clash at Ednaston Manor was the Mercian Brother’s War’s “tipping point” battle. The two sides met on the morning of the 5th of August 662.



Eadweald I’s forces were outnumbered from the start: with 3200 men they faced a force of nearly 6700 men loyal to the would be usurper Freamund. Freamund’s force was larger due to the simple fact that Mercia’s more populous territories were mostly on his side (with the notable exception of Anglia) aswell as having the men of Gwent to aid him. Though they had aided Eadweald with a rampaging army of 1500 that had been costly for Freamund to deal with the King of Wessex had not fully committed to aid the Mercian King (perhaps due to the perils of getting too set against a potential King Freamund) and still kept the majority of his forces back in West Seaxe. With such a numerical advantage the battle at Ednaston Manor could only end in one result: a victory for Freamund. It was a costly one however with Eadweald’s forces holding on well and inflicting 1:1 casualties. Over 5000 men died that day and the Mercian army of Eadweald I was forced to flee the field.

The rest of 662 was spent with Freamund retaking his holdings in Lindsey while Eadweald had the time needed to raise another army. In early 663 Eadweald and a Wessexian allied army put Tripontium under siege, forcing Freamund to meet them on the battlefield. On the 3rd of April the Battle of Fosse Manor resulted in a great victory for Freamund and practically garaunteed his victory in the war.



Sensing the way the wind was blowing the East Anglian vassals of Eadweald switched to Freamund’s side. Seeing an opportunity to jump a sinking ship High Lady Aetheltryth of Lancaster declared a bid to make her Jarldom independent from Mercia, becoming hostile to both Freamund and Eadweald and depriving Eadweald of more troops. In September Gloucestershire fell to Freamund’s forces leaving the court of Eadweald to relocate to Cæster Forest.

The winter once again slowed down the conflict and only one battle of importance at Fosse Manor was fought. The forces of the Saxon Shore were defeated by Eadweald’s men but it was a case of far too little too late and the rise of Freamund seemed inescapable. King Frearic II of Wessex attempted another attack to swing the war back to Eadweald’s favour but was decisively defeated at Gloucester on the 26th of April.

As Eadweald’s forces collapsed Freamund still had to remove his rival permanately to assure his position on the throne and plotted to kill the weak king. The plot was successful and on the 9th of July Eadweald fell to his death from the balcony of his fort in Cæster Forest.



Despite being rather finally removed from power Eadweald’s regime carried on as his most loyal supporters put his 12 year old son Sæwæld II Nedalskip on the throne of Greater Mercia. Most of his supporters realised the game was up however and many defected during the final months of the Mercian Brother’s War.
The final clash took place at Sullon Hill in Cæster Forest on the 10th of September where Sæwæld’s Huscarls fought to the last for their boy king. The forces of the old monarchy were swept aside however with over 450 of Sæwæld’s men being cut down at the battle to a mere 133 of Freamund’s.



With no men left to fight for him Sæwæld was forced to accept defeat. After being king for two months the boy was usurped and for the first time in nearly 2 centuries of Nedalskip rule the ruling King was usurped in a conflict and replaced by his younger sibling. Jarl Freamund declared himself King of Greater Mercia on the 27th of October 664. The young Sæwæld was stripped of his crown and became the Jarl of Hwicce. Freamund refused to kill the young boy out of mercy and as a gesture of goodwill to prevent future conflict. The opposite effect occurred however and the young Sæwæld would grow up with vengeance firmly in his mind…