NapoleonComple

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Well that could certainly have gone a lot worse. My heart was in my mouth when I saw Wessex intervene!
 

Idhrendur

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Just read the whole AAR. This is a rather good one. Well done!
 

BanterCaliph

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Well that could certainly have gone a lot worse. My heart was in my mouth when I saw Wessex intervene!

Wow what a victory. Good luck to the new king because I have a feeling that civil wars will occur soon...

Wessex did declare war but sent hardly any troops for some reason. This next chapter is called "the interval" for a reason, with a usurper on the throne another civil war is just around the corner!

Just read the whole AAR. This is a rather good one. Well done!

Thankyou :D

Also I've now played to the date of 767 - 100 years from the start of CK2 the old gods! and only a thousand years and a few centuries before I take England into space ;)

NEW UPDATE!




Chapter 15, “The Interval” (664-672)



The end of War was welcomed across the Kingdom of Greater Mercia in October 664. The conflict had divided the nation and led to thousands of deaths on the battlefields of central England. To the victor the spoils however and with his enemies apparently defeated new King Freamund (known by his enemies as the usurper) set about consolidating his power.

The first action of Freamund was his opposition to High Lady Æthelfryth of Lancaster’s bid for independence. During the chaos of the brother’s war the Lancastrian ruler had split from Eadweald’s rule and declared Lancaster independent. The High Lady had grown too fond of independence however and when Freamund I was announced king of Greater Mercia she refused to swear fealty to him in an attempt to maintain Lancastrian independence.

Freamund could not allow this challenge to his authority so early in his kingship and declared that he would not give up the Jarldom of Lancaster. On the 9th of January 665 the Lancastrian forces were beaten at Caer Lud and Æthelfryth was imprisioned. The High Lady of Lancaster was allowed to live in return for almost her entire treasury, a practice that was common amongst king’s of Greater Mercia to both weaken rebel vassals and show mercy to other subjects.



With Lancaster subdued Greater Mercia was secured under Freamund’s rule. The new king then turned his attention outside of his kingdom’s borders and north to the Jarldom of Deira. The city of Eburacum was still an important centre in Anglo-Saxon England and the largest settlement in Britannia north of Deva. The Jarldom of Deira led by Jarl Cyneric II had cast off Northumbrian rule during the 650s and had managed to maintain its independence from Brythonic Cumbrians and the Northumbrian Kingdom. They were however a minnow when lined against the Kingdom of Greater Mercia and Freamund recognised this. Deira had been founded way back in 558, the first year of King Tostig’s reign and over a century ago. Detirmined to restore Greater Mercia to its former height Freamund attacked Deira in late 666AD with the aim of conquering the city of Eburacum. The Deirans mustered their forces to defend but were outnumbered by a ratio of more than 8:1 at the battlefield near Caistor. The clash resulted in an unsurprising Mercian victory, though the siege of Eburacum itself would last until August of 667.



With the conquest of Deiran territory Freamund expanded Greater Mercia north of the Humber for the first time in nearly a century. The vast expanse of Greater Mercia at the end of 667 led to many in Britannia to call Freamund (and successive kings of Greater Mercia) Bretwalda or “Ruler of Britannia”. Though by no means the sole rulers of the Islands or ruling the majority of the land the Kingdom of Greater Mercia was a definite regional power, unlike in the 6th Century where Cantia could be seen as a potential rival. Though Wessex was powerful the only nation that could really match Freamund’s Nedalskip Kingdom at the time was the Frankish Merovingian Empire across the channel in what had been Gaul.

Expansion into the north of England provoked a hostile response from Northumbria however, which saw the invasion of Eburacum as an invasion of their sphere. A mere week after the taking of the city the Northumbrians declared war on Greater Mercia, prolonging the War for Eburacum. The Greater Mercians went on the defensive, keeping a levied army of some 5000+ troops around the area of Ebracum. These forces were joined in battle on the 3rd of October 667 by a slightly smaller force of just over 4000 Northumbrians. The battle was hard fought: as both sides held strong claims to the region. A religious element to the war was also apparent – by the second half of the 7th Century Greater Mercia was to all intents and purposes a Catholic nation whereas the men of Northumbria had been very slow to adopt the new monotheistic faith and still remained (in the majority) a pagan nation.



The Battle on the 3rd of October (Battle of Peveril Castle) resulted in a costly Mercian victory, with over 2100 casualties sustained for around 3800 Northumbrians. The scale of the bloodshed was a testament to the importance of Eburacum as a frontier between the Mercian and Northumbrian spheres in England though at Peveril the Mercians won a victory that put the Nedalskip Kingdom in control of lands to the north of the Humber for the first time in a century (Deira seceded from Mercia back in 568).

Free from religious persecution by the pagan lords of Deira and the threat of it from Northumbria the province of Eburacum became predominately Christian by the end of the year, integrating easily into the Anglo-Saxon/Christian Kingdom of Greater Mercia.



With no external enemies worth considering and the internal situation of Greater Mercia secure 668 was a good year to be Mercian. Given his success and high support amongst his vassals King Freamund pushed to increase the power of the king of Mercia at the expense of vassals by implementing the “Medium Crown Authority Law”. This law prevented the vassals of Mercia from fighting one another within the realm and would therefore free up more levies for the Kingdom’s grand army. By July the lords of Mercia had approved the law and Freamund became the most powerful King within Greater Mercia since before the period of the regencies.



Increased integration of the old Brythonic and new Saxon cultures continued as Eburacum and Lancaster became primarily Saxon areas, with the local Cumbric populace either adapting their customs, inter-breeding or simply being pushed out. Large Brythonic populations still held out across Greater Mercia in the late 7th Century however, primarily in hilly areas such as the Pennines and the forests of the Midlands.

In January 670 the son of King Eadweald I (the man who Freamund I had usurped to gain the Mercian throne) Sæwæld II, Jarl of Hwicce, came of age and began to govern his Jarldom personally. Freamund was understandably concerned with the maturing of his nephew – who had every right to wish for the death and overthrow of his uncle who had usurped the title from within the Nedalskip family. Freamund took steps to bridge the gap, offering the betrothal of his daughter to Sæwæld’s younger brother Æscewine. Though Sæwæld accepted the offer Freamund was still concerned that the young man harboured feelings of vengeance towards him and kept his spymaster in Gloucester to keep a close watch on the boy.



Young Sæwæld Nedalskip was a highly ambitious young man and plotted with fellow nobles to lower the recently raised crown authority. Freamund had raised the authority of the crown specifically to prevent vassals from waging war between themselves within Greater Mercia – however Sæwæld wished to repeal that law in order to increase the size of Hwicce (and a potential bid for the crown of Mercia). On the 30th of July 671 he issued demands to Freamund to repeal the new laws. Rather than face a civil war King Freamund appeased Sæwæld and scrapped the new crown laws.



This proved to King Freamund that Sæwæld was his enemy however and the King began to prepare for an inevitable clash. Being an ambitious young man Sæwæld would not stop at this and by the 30th of August he had moved against one of his vassals in Tripontium to gain the county for his own – it was now clear to Freamund that his nephew was increasing his power as Jarl of Hwicce before making a bid for the throne. Freamund started a plot with supporters to “dispose of” Sæwæld via intrigue, but could not get enough support for Sæwæld was fairly popular within Mercia and had a very competent spymaster of his own.



As the summer of 672 came around a civil war in Greater Mercia was just around the corner, Jarl Sæwæld would launch a bid to become the King of Mercia in another inter family conflict. The “Interval” period of peace was over. Whatever the outcome of the conflict it would see the recent inter-family rivalry between Sæwæld I sons’ come to a bloody end…
 

NapoleonComple

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Lets hope for a speedy conclusion to the war. These brotherly spats need to come to a final end, one way or another.
 

BanterCaliph

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Lets hope for a speedy conclusion to the war. These brotherly spats need to come to a final end, one way or another.

Looking back on it this period was rather fun to play, even though I was unsure where it was going to end up :p

NEXT CHAPTER!

A pretty short one, but it concludes the period I'm calling the Mercian Brother's Wars.



Chapter 16, The Return of a King (672-676)


The Summer of 672AD in Greater Mercia saw a chain of events beginning with Jarl Sæwæld’s taking of Tripontium that would lead to another large civil war between two branches of the Nedalskip dynasty. Since Freamund’s taking of the crown after the Mercian Brother’s War in 664 the country had known a time of artificial peace. The bloodshed between King Sæwæld I’s descendants was really just getting started with the Brother’s War however and the latter part of the 7th Century AD would see this saga in the Nedalskip family history come to a bloody close.



By the start of the 670s Jarl Sæwæld had come of age. Son of the late King Eadweald I “the Weak” who had been usurped by his more popular brother Freamund in the Mercian Brother’s War he was a loose end that Freamund had left and the young man harboured a deep hatred for his King, one bourne from the loss of his father at a young age and Freamund’s seizure of the Mercian throne which was Sæwæld’s by birthright.

Young Jarl Sæwæld was in a strong position within the Kingdom: being Jarl of Hwicce which was by far the largest Jarldom and ruling over the core of Mercia. He had inherited his father’s physical weakness and deceptive ways however and he had fewer friends among the nobles of Mercia than King Freamund.

Sæwæld decided to offset this by increasing his own personal power. This was achieved by lowering Freamund’s grasp over his vassals by threatening him and then declaring war on the minor Earldorman of Tripontium, sezing his realm by July 672.

About 1/3 of Mercia’s levies came from Sæwæld’s lands, though this was a sizable reservoir of manpower Freamund could call on about 6000 to Sæwæld’s 2500. The war to regain his title would not be won by Sæwæld alone and the Jarl soon realised this. His first step was to raise taxes across his demesne to gain funds for mercenaries and war payments. His second was to get married – to Princess Deuteria de Merovech of the Frankish Empire no less. Though the 3rd daughter and 6th child of King Chlodomer II the Frankish Kingdom was by far the most powerful state in Western Europe at the time, wether they would aid Sæwæld’s bid to reclaim the Mercian throne would be a topic of much debate however.



The marriage celebrations were shortlived however and Sæwæld immediately set about preparing his next steps. With King Freamund warring in the north of Britannia with the Northumbrians and distracted from his obligations to the King of Gwent Jarl Sæwæld declared war on Gwent, claiming the border province of Magnis for his most loyal vassal, Lady Ralla of Avon who also happened to be his mother. In November the armies of Hwicce were mustered to fight the Welsh and King Freamund could only voice his disgust at Sæwæld’s actions – sat up north fighting the Northumbrians the King was unable to come to the aid of his allies in Gwent. The erosion of Mercian crown authority prevented Freamund from ordering his vassal (Sæwæld) to stop his war.

Battle between Gwent and Hwicce was joined on the 31st of January 673 at Vicus Fluvii, near the crumbling ruins of the old Roman town. The Gwentish armies were decisively beaten by Sæwæld’s intelligent strategising and the long siege of Magnis began.



Magnis was a stronghold of the Roman Empire in Britain and though in recent years it had steadily decayed it was still a formidable defensive position. For months the men of Gwent held on as Sæwæld’s forces laid siege to the fort. King Freamund could not come to the aid of Gwent however, for the war with Northumbria dragged on in the cold north, though it was starting to swing in Mercia’s favour.

It took until the end of March 674AD before Magnis fell. The fort was burnt to the ground by Sæwæld’s forces and its surviving defenders mutilated. A new age had dawned over Britannia and Sæwæld would wipe out the Roman legacy for new Saxon rule. The loss of Magnis was devastating to Gwent, though Anglo-Saxon conquest of Brythonic land had slowed down greatly from the lightning pace in the previous Century the loss of more native land was a stinging blow to the Welsh – especially when dealt by the vassal of a supposed ally. The taking of Magnis effectively ended the Gwentish-Mercian alliance that had endured for much of the 7th Century. By September the war in the north was over and Northumbria ceded the border province of Duntoning to add to Mercia’s territory around Eburacum.



With the war against Northumbria over King Freamund was fast realising that Jarl Sæwæld would stop at nothing to increase his power – the young ambitious Jarl had taken over another Mercian vassal and then taken land from Mercia’s ally Gwent. Not only this but he had threatened the King with war if he did not lower crown authority in order for him to wage his own wars! Sæwæld would simply have to go, such a man was dangerous as a vassal.

It would appear that Sæwæld was indeed very dangerous for on the 19th of November 674 he announced his bid for the throne. A mere week later King Freamund laid dead, slain by assassins on Sæwæld’s orders. The news of Sæwæld’s involvement in the killing of the popular Freamund I led to an uproar in Mercia, so much so that despite being relatively disliked Freamund’s son Æscwine was able to gain enough support to be crowned the king of Mercia – another large civil war was inevitable between two branches of House Nedalskip. Sæwæld’s bid for the throne was joined by his brother Jarl Seaxbald of East-Seaxe and his thousand levies in December, a large boost for the returning King.



It was the new year before both sides met on the field however, finally clashing together at the Battle of Durocobrivis north of Lundenwic on the 9th of January 675. The two sides were both led by their rulers, with Sæwæld and Æscwine both being present on the field of that day. The battle is known for the craven act of Æscwine, who charged Sæwæld in an attempt at personal combat only to flee in terror when it seemed a fight was likely. This display of cowardice broke the king’s army and Sæwæld’s forces won the day. It was a costly victory however and over 2000 Anglo-Saxons were killed on that battlefield.



After gaining the upper-hand at Durocobrivis Sæwæld’s forces were unmolested through the summer of 675 and besieged loyalist holdings throughout Mercia at will. The birth of a firstborn son (Offa) to Jarl Sæwæld also strengthened his claim to the throne, as in the male dominated world of the early middle ages tracing one’s lineage back to Eadric I Nedalskip through a line of first sons was a powerful statement.

By October Æscwine’s capital at Lincoln had been forced to surrender after a long siege to Sæwæld. Though he was disliked across Mercia Sæwæld had spent his adult years strengthening his position for this inevitable war. A few more skirmishes were fought in 676, but after Durocobrivis support for Æscwine had fallen away – on the 31st of August depressed and on the run to Eburacum King Æscwine decided to end his own life rather than face defeat and life imprisonment at the hands of his cousin. Not a week later King Sæwæld II regained his crown, becoming the first Nedalskip and Mercian ruler to have been king twice.



Though Sæwæld had regained his crown and rightful place as the first Nedalskip son succession it had been a costly end to a bloody saga in the Nedalskip family history. Sæwæld’s reign would prove to be a step forward, but conflict would continue to ravage Mercia from within as new families looked to break Nedalskip rule.
 

CrackedUp247

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The Nedalskip saga continues! After a bloody dynastical war, I'm curious to see what the Kings of Greater Mercia will do next. Also, impressive that Greater Mercia managed to expand even during this turbulent period. Keep it up, I'm eagerly following this, and I'd love to see you take the Nedalskip realm into a bigger map.
 

BanterCaliph

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The Nedalskip saga continues! After a bloody dynastical war, I'm curious to see what the Kings of Greater Mercia will do next. Also, impressive that Greater Mercia managed to expand even during this turbulent period. Keep it up, I'm eagerly following this, and I'd love to see you take the Nedalskip realm into a bigger map.

Thankyou! to be honest I'm looking forward to the next game now, Britannia is too small! Plus in this mod its a real challenge to hold a large realm together (incase you hadn't noticed :p) still its been great fun for me to play and write so far :)

Anyways here's chapter 17 and the bloodshed is not yet over in Mercia...

Pretty depressing update this one guys, but things do get slightly better I assure you!



Chapter 17, Another Decade of Blood: King Sæwæld II (676-686)



After seizing power in the War of a King’s Return, young king Sæwæld II ruled over a divided Kingdom with most of his vassals disliking his methods of attaining the crown and blatant murder of a close family member. In particular old King Freamund’s brother Hrodberht (Earldorman of Lundenwic and Deva) was greatly opposed to Sæwæld and had a strong claim on the crown. Fearing that he would get support from other vassals and attempt to usurp Sæwæld the young king granted Hrodbhert his independence to rule.
By September Pegansaete and Lancaster had also split from Greater Mercia, their Jarls unwilling to recognise the new King they had fought against. With his Kingdom falling apart it appeared that the swords would once again be drawn in order to keep Greater Mercia together.



Sæwæld could not allow his newly won realm to collapse and so on the 11th of September 676 not long after the end of his war to gain the crown, he declared war on High Lady Cyneburh of Pegansaete in order to install a vassal who would be more loyal. The armies of Cyneburh were swiftly defeated in late October and her lands besieged throughout the winter.



With the Pegansaete conflict progressing well other enemies of Sæwæld began to show themselves. Despite his granting independence to Hrodberht of Lundenwic the Earldorman had many supporters within Mercia and in March 677 Earldorman Ælweald of Mildenhall declared he would fight to prop Hrodberht on the Mercian throne, thus beginning another civil war. Now fighting two wars with former Mercian vassals the power of the central Anglo-Saxon Kingdom began to collapse and Wessex became recognised as the most powerful Kingdom in Britannia. Ælweald’s bid to put Hrodberht was soon joined by many more petty lords from the Mercian heartlands (Arden Forest, Caistor and Lincoln). The two sides clashed at the Battle of Fosse Manor on the 24th of May where Sæwæld’s numerical superiority ensured a Mercian victory over the would be usurpers. The ongoing civil wars in Mercia weakened the Kingdom to foreign invaders however and due to Pegansaete’s temporary independence Powys had been able to take back the Welsh boderlands lost in 661. With this turn of events Sæwæld offered a white peace deal to Hrodberht where he would ask the nobles fighting for his claim to cease hostilities, but not give up his claim. Hrodberht accepted and Ælweald of Mildenhall was imprisoned for treason on the 17th of August. The Earldorman was later released for a sizeable portion of his income, a preferred tactic for Mercian kings in dealing with their rebellions vassals.



The year of 678 began with Mercian forces still tied up besieging the holdings of Pegansaete. In this year Sæwæld was once again forced to confront another would be usurper, this time a non-Nedalskip with a very tenuous claim to the Mercian throne. Due to the revocation of Freamund’s crown authority another of his vassals (other than Sæwæld) had taken the opportunity to enlarge his demesne by attacking other Mercian vassals in East-Anglia. Jarl Frearic of the Saxon Shore ruled over most of East-Anglia and was perhaps the most powerful individual vassal in the Mercian Kingdom. He was relatively well liked and in 678 Earldorman Cynefrith of Corinium (near Bath) declared his support for Frearic’s bid for the throne, thus another major civil war rocked Mercia.

Indecisive battles were fought throughout 678 but neither side could gain the upper hand. After hundreds of dead the Battle of Tripontium in early January 679 turned the tide in Sæwæld’s favour, with Frearic’s host being defeated. By April the war with Pegansaete was over and Jarl Leofric, an elderly puppet, was installed as Jarl. With Pegansaete secured Sæwæld could direct all his efforts against Jarl Frearic.



This conclusion to the Pegansaete war was just as well for Frearic rallied a new army and dealt a decisive blow to Sæwæld after winning a large battle at Avon, once again changing the potential result of the conflict. Things were going badly for Frearic’s coalition partner Cynefrith of Corinium however for upon his declaration of independence from Mercia King Frearic II of Wessex had used the temporary independence of Corinium to press the De-Jure claim of the Jarldom of Somerset on the province, with the goal of bringing it into the Kingdom of Wessex. Jarl Frearic was still a problem however and in September Sæwæld ordered his assassination. The assasins were unable to slay the Jarl, but instead maimed him inflicting grievous wounds. The tide on the battlefields was turning as Sæwæld’s forces found themselves exhausted from years of constant conflict. After another defeat near Lincoln the Mercian armies beat a path of retreat as far north as Eburacum with Frearic’s army hot in pursuit.



It was lucky then that in the November of 679 the wounds inflicted by the assassins on the 64 year old Jarl Frearic finally took their toll. Frearic died and his army was left without a purpose, putting down their arms and making peace with Sæwæld II. At the same time Corinium may have sorely regretted siding with Frearic as their land was absorbed into Wessex and their Earldorman imprisoned for the remainder of his life. The latest war was over and the people of Mercia breathed a sigh of relief. After this victory Earldorman Hrodbhert of Lundenwic accepted Sæwæld’s proposal of vassalisation and he swore an oath to King Sæwæld II, greatly increasing the legitimacy of the ruling king who had had his right to rule severely challenged in the recent civil wars.

Though Jarl Frearic had been defeated his family would not forget how close they had come to being rulers of Greater Mercia. In 680 Frearic’s sucessor, Jarl Osræd of the Saxon Shore plotted covertly at another attempt to seize the throne. The years of 680-681 were quiet to the average Mercian peasant but another more subtle attempt to usurp the throne was in play through intrigue.

King Sæwæld could simply not allow a man like Osræd to be a threat to his position and plotted with sympathisers in East-Anglia to remove this threat. A serious blow was dealt to this plan and Sæwæld’s prestige however when in April 681 Earldorman Wilfrith revealed the plot at a drunken outburst in a tavern. His reputation destroyed King Sæwæld II became from then on became popularly known as “the Wicked” due to his deceitful, kinslaying ways and forced usurping of the crown from Freamund I.



Despite this rather embarrassing setback the plot to kill Osræd was carried out and succeeded when the Jarl was ambushed on the road by a company of mercenaries in Sæwæld’s pay – everyone knew the wicked king was responsible of course.

The brief period of peace allowed missionaries to try once again to convert the stubborn last holdouts of paganism within Mercia’s land. In 682 Towcester and the Trent Hills finally converted after Sæwæld II sent religious missions. By now every province in Greater Mercia had a Christian majority.



With Sæwæld’s realm now internally secure (for the moment at least) the Mercian King decided to intervene in a small wall within the independent Jarldom of Lancaster. The ruler of Lancaster, High Lady Æthelthryth “the accursed” was disliked by her vassals - mainly on account of all her hair falling out which had granted her a rather unkind nickname. Sæwæld decided to offer military support to Earldorman Eadwig (who was very distant relation to King Tostig I, king of Mercia in the 6th Century) in order to prop him up as a friendly, allied Jarl of Lancaster.

The Mercian forces scored a decisive victory over a force of allied Deira-Lancastrians at the Battle of Verbeia near modern day Sheffield in April 683. Despite this “volunteers” from Northumbria and Deira continued to swell Lady Æthelthryth’s armies and the war dragged on.



During this time Mercia expanded to fully absorb all of Gwent and part of South Wales as Lady Ralla of Avon had independently of her liege declared war on the Welsh Kingdom due to her claim on the Scir of Burrium. By early 684 the armies of Gwent were defeated and the former large Brythonic power ceased to exist as an independent Kingdom. Though this land had been gained it barely compensated for the loss of other provinces to the Welsh in recent years and the conquest of Gwent removed another rival for Powys’ conquest of Wales.

The war with Lancaster continued into 685 before High Lady Æthelthryth of Lancaster was killed and her title taken by Earldorman Eadwig. Despite Eadwig’s elevation of rank due to King Sæwæld’s interference the new Jarl of Lancaster announced that he was not bound to Sæwæld’s fate or that he would accept any kind of alliance. All the Mercians that thus died in the Lancastrian civil conflict had thus died in vain and this annoyed many of King Sæwæld’s vassals.

As the year of 686 dawned Jarl Eoric of the Saxon Shore launched a bid to become independent of Mercia, along with the majority of other vassals that made up the de-jure area of the Kingdom of East-Anglia. Despite winning major victories over the rebels at Lundenwic and Tripontium in August it became clear to many that Greater Mercia was once again headed to another disintegration.



The stresses of keeping the kingdom together and the exertion from campaigning proved a bit too much for King Sæwæld, who fell seriously ill in May. While recovering his enemies did not relent and assassins were sent to murder the wicked king in his sleep. The assassins suceeded and on the 23rd of June 686 King Sæwæld II was the first Mercian and Nedalskip king to have been assassinated. The King’s death left his divided country in turmoil. He was suceeded by his 11 year old son, Offa Nedalskip and the third regency in Mercian history led by Earldorman Ælfelwine.

 

NapoleonComple

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...well that went south quickly.
 

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Oh Winter King, how easily your kingdoms fall apart. Still, it could always be worse, I went from High King of Britannia to count of Magnis in two generations once, I'm sure you'll ptturn it around :)
 

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...well that went south quickly.

Yeah, everyone seemed to hate the rightful king :(

Oh Winter King, how easily your kingdoms fall apart. Still, it could always be worse, I went from High King of Britannia to count of Magnis in two generations once, I'm sure you'll ptturn it around :)

Wow, there must be a good story in that!

And so, in the end, Offa still rules Mercia.

Some things are just meant to be :p


After the horrible goings on in the last chapter lets see if Offa I can turn things around a bit...



Chapter 18, Young Offa I (686-700)


After the bloody reign of King Sæwæld II and the tumultuous years since the Mercian Brother’s War it fell to an 11 year old boy-king to restore peace to the broken realm of Mercia. The Anglo-Saxons were fighting against each other everywhere, as Mercia crumbled into civil war Wessex and Cantia engaged in a series of futile territorial wars in the south. In the North the Northumbrians were torn by internal problems and were forced back to the coast by the Cumbrian Kingdom of Rheged. War was widespread on the Islands of Britannia in the late 7th Century.

Little King Offa was perhaps not the ideal ruler for the time, the young boy was weak and scrawny by contemporary standards and was generally disinterested in military matters instead being more inclined to study and religion. Offa Nedalskip also had a fine mind and attitude for the arts of intrigue – a skill that would be useful in the backstabbing and treacherous world of Anglo-Saxon politics at the time.

At the very start of Offa’s realm the boy-king found himself confronted by the secession of East-Anglia which had declared war on Mercia in order to gain independence. Offa’s regent, Earldorman Ælfelwine of Elmham was the only noble in the region that had remained loyal to the crown. Jarl Eoric of Camulodunum’s bid to become the Anglian King suffered major setbacks as the rebel forces were dealt crucial defeats at Tripontium and Bonaventum in the late summer of 686. By the end of the year Eoric was forced to surrender, but the war had shown to Offa and those in Mercia that the East-Anglian Jarldoms were united in their hatred of rule from Tamworth. Faced with the simple truth that Greater Mercia could simply not continue Offa approved his regent’s decision to grant the Anglian Kingdom independence. The title was given to old King Freamund’s third son Wulfric, a minor Earldorman in Lincoln and thus Anglia became independent under a Nedalskip king, therefore keeping it loosely tied with Mercia.



This act had not magically stabilised the Nedalskip realms however and less than a week later on the 27th of November Earldorman Hrodbhert (Offa’s Great Uncle) made his own bid for the Mercia throne during Offa’s weak early regency. Supported by the southern Earls of Mercia (Chiltern Hills and Mildenhall) Hrodbherts’ army of over 3000 marched north to Tamworth, seat of King Offa I.

Over the winter of 686-687 Offa’s armies refused to meet Hrodbhert’s in open battle, instead attacking smaller hosts around the midlands and allowing Hrodberht’s larger force to suffer casualties due to attrition. By March 687 Hrodberht’s force numbered 2300, having lost hundreds to the winter and the skirmishing of Offa’s forces. Despite this the army of the would be usurper was still large enough to worry Regent Ælfelwine who spent a large sum of Mercia’s treasury on hiring the Saxon Black Guard mercenaries from Northumbria.

Mercia’s finances suffered another blow when on the 15th of May Hrodberht’s forces pillaged the settlement at Dorn Manor (near Tamworth) looting a great deal of funds. Despite this setback the size of Offa’s force now allowed the loyalists to make offensive moves and a string of battles took place across June 687 which went well for the boy-king.

The conflict boiled down to the large battle near Gloucester on the 13th of August however where two roughly matched forces of nearly 2000 men each took to the field for King Offa or the would be “King” Hrodberht. It was in this battle that the future marshal of Mercia and one of the brightest commanders of the age, Ecgbhert of Leicester distinguished himself for the first time. Luring the traitors into a trap Ecgbhert pulled back Offa’s centre in a staged rout, allowing the organised flanks to move in and sandwich Hrodbhert’s forces leading to a decisive victory. Despite this tactical accomplishment many men died on both sides that day, a total of some 2600 out of the roughly 4000 men on the field. After this victory the resolve of those supporting Hrodberht’s claim to the crown was broken and the conflict had ended by September 687. Hrodberht was imprisoned until late 688 before he was released for a massive ransom. He died shortly afterwards a natural death aged 59.



688-689 were fortunately quiet years in Mercia. Peace was welcomed by lord and peasant alike for the recent decades had taken a heavy toll on the men of the Anglo-Saxons. The peace was perhaps stifling however – Mercia was still under a regency and beyond the borders of the Kingdom other events were moving on. In Wales the Kingdom of Powys finally annexed the last independent Welsh Kingdom, Siluria after a brief war. With all of the Welsh under the banner of Powys Mercia now had a powerful neighbour to the west as well as the south (Wessex).



This sudden rise of a powerful Powysian Kingdom to the West forced the abandonment of the old Roman town of Viroconium in Pegansaete. The more defensive location of Wroxeter was instead settled as the capital of the Pegansaete Jarldom.


The ruins of the old Roman bathhouse in Viroconium

As the year of 689 came to a close a great new years’ feast was hosted in Tamworth to mark the dawn of a new era in Mercian history – and the hopeful end of civil war. The feast was attended by the young king Offa, aged 14 at the time.

690AD passed without any events of note, another peaceful year of rebuilding in Mercia. To the south King Ealdwulf I of Cantia made a shock conversion to Christianity, renouncing the Norse Pagan gods. The Cantian people embraced the new faith readily, having endured decades of aggression from Wessex due to their pagan faith. Despite Cantia’s conversion the Northumbrian Kingdom in the north remained the last Anglo-Saxon pagan kingdom, despite the fact more of its people were Christian than Cantians. On the 23rd of January 691 Earldorman Ælfelwine stepped down as regent to retire as King Offa I came of age. The young king had learnt well from his regent and emerged from his education a “mastermind theologian” his study of history and diplomacy befitted his weak physical frame and King Offa looked set to be a great ruler.



All that the young king was lacking was a wife and an heir (the latter usually following the former). Princesses from the other Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms were refused to Offa, on the account of “political concerns” by their respective rulers – most likely due to the likelihood of embroiling them in Mercia’s frequent civil wars despite Offa’s claims that those days were done. In the end Offa wed Lady Ælfthryth of Woodcove, from a small holding near Towcester in the heart of Mercia. Ælfthryth was not connected to any major families which was perhaps a bonus in post-civil war wrecked Mercia, but she was a lustful and attractive young woman, traits which Offa looked upon favourably in the drive to continue his dynasty.



The remainder of 691 passed with little event in Mercia as Offa enjoyed his honeymoon period. The Jarldom of Lancaster was fighting for its survival however as King Wulfric Nedalskip pressed his dynastic claim on the various Scirdoms of Lancaster. Offa saw the collapse of Lancaster as an opportunity to expand his holdings north. Such ambitions were cut suddenly short when in December Earldorman Hrodberht’s sucessor and distant relative to Offa Earldorman Coenwulf of Lundenwic declared his own bid for the Mercian throne, a claim which had to be traced back to King Sæwæld I.

In early 692 Offa’s forces won two major victories in the Trent Hills, slaughtering some 2300 of Coenwulf’s troops for less than 400 casualties. With the rebel forces scattered Offa lost his reputation as a kind ruler, losing his temper and having many captured traitors executed for their actions.



Despite this Offa received support from those vassals that remained loyal to him in Coenwulf’s rebellion. Former regent Earldorman Ælfelwine even gave the king enough funds to hire Northumbrian mercenaries. Across the summer the rebels were pushed back in a number of small battles and sieges. By September 692 Coenwulf was forced to accept defeat, the traitorous noble was not allowed to make the mistake of turning against Offa again and he was unceremoniously executed on the 26th of September 692AD.

With internal security once again established Offa’s thoughts soon turned to the powerful and unified Powysian Kingdom on Mercia’s Western border. After unifying the Welsh it was possible that they would seek to retake lands in the midlands lost to the Britons centuries before. Across 693 Offa, with the advice of Earldorman Ælfelwine constructed small border forts on the frontier with Powys in anticipation of a future conflict. The village of Henley-in-Arden (known simply as Henley) became the site of the chief fort in the Arden Forest border region. The construction of roads in the formerly heavily forested and Brythonic area also opened up the area to increased settlement by Anglo-Saxon peoples.



With a time of peace settling over Mercia once more and the development in Arden Forest Offa was gaining a good reputation among his vassals. Determined to bring some form of unity to the divided Nedalskip realms King Offa implemented an increase in crown authority (the first one since King Freamund’s failed attempt in 671). The new laws enabled Offa to increase taxation and levy demands upon his vassals but still allowed the lords of Mercia to war with each other if they so wished. The year of 694 also saw King Offa enter a program of self-betterment. The young king was generally seen as an inferior steward and he took it upon himself to organise the taxation system on the vassals of Mercia, increasing his bookkeeping skills. Offa also carried out his infamous jewel theft of a visiting Frankish noble (in Mercia to see Offa’s mother Deutreuia), though a rather deceitful act it improved his skills at intrigue somewhat, so that King Offa became known as “the Shadow”



The year of 695AD saw the end of an independent Lancastrian Jarldom. Wulfric King of Anglia conquered most of the Jarldom and Mercia managed to gain the Scir of Manchester after a (very) brief conflict.

696 saw little of interest besides a miniature economic crisis within Mercia as wool became incredibly scarce. King Offa was blamed by the peasantry due to his poor stewardship skill and tensions grew. Offa thought that the best way to unite his divided realm was to find a common enemy – and the young king began to look west to the looming Kingdom of Powys. The peasants would forget the hardships of life in ancient Mercia and could instead be united in their fear of the “barbarous” Welsh “invaders”. The occupation of the christian province of Lugg Vale was a valid cause for war, because the King of Powys and the majority of his population still adhered to the old druidic Brythonic religion.



Another great feast was hosted by King Offa in Tamworth where the king announced to his vassals his plan to reclaim the western marches back from Powys that had been lost following the Mercian Brother’s Wars. In April 697 Ecgbhert of Leicester, Offa’s most dependable and best commander was elveated to Earldorman of Tripontium and wed Wæburgh Nedalskip, a distant relation to Offa. Installing a truly loyal vassal helped Mercia become more efficent to govern and more taxes and levies were raised throughout 697 as Offa prepared for war.

The inevitable clash between Mercia and Powys broke out in May and the Mercian armies were rallied from across the country. King Wulfric of Anglia refused to help, more concerned with expanding his own power in the north and against his powerful vassals – this created a rift of distrust between the two Nedalskip kingdoms. In 697 Mercia could muster nearly 6000 men all of which were sent to the capital at Tamworth before the planned invasion of Lugg Vale. The King of Powys, Ceredig I Coeling, had anticipated war however and had mustered his own levies with such speed that the first clash between the two nations happened in Mercian territory, a short distance from the capital at Tamworth. The Battle of Tamworth on the 15th of June saw 6700 Welshmen against 5700 Anglo-Saxons, despite the numerical superiority however the Powysian army was deeply divided on regional lines and their commanders of inferior quality. Mercia was victorious in the large battle, though total losses reached 7500, the largest single battle in Mercian history to date.



With the initiative favouring Offa I the Mercian armies pursued the welsh into Lugg Vale and were able to win another crucial (though much smaller) victory at Caer Lud. With Powys’ main army broken by late July the Mercian forces settled down and began to prepare for the winter, which would come harshly in the hilly welsh borderlands.

Ceredig of Powys was far from defeated however and Mercian spies told of another force of nearly 3000 Welshmen to the south. This army was besieging a rebel holding and was commanded by Ceredig himself, who was determined to bring his rebel subjects to heel before turning his army round to face Mercia. Offa would not give the king of Powys the opportunity however and the Mercian army marched full speed to meet the enemy in battle. The battle of Cicunium on the 24th of August was another victory for Mercia, the welsh force being broken by the shock of Mercians so deep in their homelands.

Though the successive defeats of the armies of Powys in the field in 697 might have weakened Ceredig’s image he used the war as an opportunity to bind his nation together against the Anglo-Saxon invader. On the 29th of August still fleeing the battlefield at Cicunium Ceredig declared himself “High King of Britannia” claiming that the welsh kingdoms were the last remnants of true Britons and that he should be recognised as true ruler of all the islands. The title was just propaganda, though it marked the first time Wales was truly united and is considered the first founding of the Kingdom of Wales even if it was not known by that name at the time.



With the Britons field armies in full retreat the Mercian army split into two forces – the first would remain in Lugg Vale and lay siege to the enemy holdings while the larger second force would pursue the enemy and fight their field armies, swatting away any counter-attacks. The rest of 697 saw a multitude of small battles and guerrilla skirmishes across Wales as Offa’s army hunted out Brythonic resistance. In early 698 even Ceredig’s son and heir Prince Cedwyn was captured by Mercian forces and ransomed back for a large sum of gold.

It took until late 698 before Ceredig was able to muster another large army, confronting the Mercians in Lugg Vale at the battlefield of Caer Lud once more. Marshall Ecgbhert of Tripontium simply lured the Britons into a trap however, using the naturally defensible terrain of the area to wear out the attackers and then carry out his tried and tested fake “rout” tactic, luring the Welsh into a trap where they were butchered.



10 days later Offa I received more good news as the birth of his heir and son (also named Offa) was announced on the 28th of December. With Nedalskip succession assured Offa could focus more on reclaiming the lands ruled by his ancestors.

As the year of 699 dawned the Welsh were on the edge of defeat. The 3rd of January saw Prince Cedwyn of Britannia captured for the second time by Mercian forces leading a band of 100 warriors in guerrilla attacks. This time High King Ceredig could not afford the ransom and King Offa decided to leave his mark on the Briton prince – Cedwyn was blinded and released, his empty sockets constant reminders of the power and wrath of Mercia. Offa I gained a brutal reputation in Wales for this act and his own people saw it with a mixture of fear and nationalist pride. A mere week later Ceredig’s brother was also captured in skirmishes and was put to death. With the blinding of one close family member and the execution of another Ceredig Coeling swore vengeance upon House Nedalskip and eternal rivalry with Mercia. The Welsh will to fight was broken however and on the 21st of January they surrendered the province of Lugg Vale back to Mercia. Offa had won a large and important war against a powerful neighbour and the victory gained him great prestige and friends in the church due to the “liberation” of a Christian province from pagan hands.



The re-conquest of Lugg Vale as well as land gained in south Wales necessitated the forming of a new Jarldom to properly administrate the region. In late January the new Jarldom of Magonsaete was founded by King Offa, a region that would govern the far western territories of Mercia. The boundaries of the Jarldom also included the province of Pengwern which was still under Welsh rule and another war over the area looked likely in the near future.



The result of the war was the disintegration of Britannia as King Ceredig lost the support of many of his vassals, particularly in the north of his country. Small independent states emerged in the north of Wales though Ceredig’s old Kingdom of Powys continued to dominate the region.

As the year 700 dawned Anglia began to attack the Anglo-Saxons of the north, invading Northumbrian territory around Setantia. Worried by Anglian expansion Offa decided to reclaim Pengwern from the Welsh and then turn upon his Eastern neighbour – the past glories of Greater Mercia were not long past and King Offa believed himself the man to forge a powerful Empire and unite the two Nedalskip Kingdoms of Anglia and Mercia. As the 7th Century came to an end Mercia seemed ascendant once more.

 

Mr. Capiatlist

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In the future, if your posts are not appearing, instead of posting it five times you should contact me or Qorten. Thanks.
 

NapoleonComple

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Despite everything it seems that England is going to be in the same divided state as it was historically when the vikings invaded.
 

NapoleonComple

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On the other hand maybe the vikings and Anglians will beat each other around the head enough for you to sweep in and mop up?
 

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Despite everything it seems that England is going to be in the same divided state as it was historically when the vikings invaded.

I have really tried! but yeah despite my best efforts I think English unification will have to wait till the next game.

You are going to be in serious trouble later on because of the vikings. And it is going to be fun to read :p

On the other hand maybe the vikings and Anglians will beat each other around the head enough for you to sweep in and mop up?

The year at the end of this chapter is 700, so there's still a lot that can happen before the norsemen show up :p

Anyhow thought I'd do a bonus chapter on the situation on the British Isles at 700, a sort of overview as well as a convenient point for new readers to get into the story :)

I'll be posting the next actual chapter later this evening :)



BONUS CHAPTER, Kingdoms and Realms in Britannia, 700AD


At the dawn of the 8th Century Anno Domini the British Isles were home to numerous polities from the Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms in the South-East to the Pictish tribes of Caledonia in the north. The following is a list of the independent realms of the Islands in the year 700 with descriptions and maps. Concise histories of independent realms are also included where known.





1) The Kingdom of Mercia (Anglo-Saxon)

Ruled by King Offa I Nedalskip the Mercian Kingdom in the heart of Britannia is nearing two centuries of age. The Mercians have been hegemonic Anglo-Saxon powers in the middle of the 6th and 7th Centuries and the most powerful state on the Island, known as Greater Mercia. These glory days have been relatively short-lived however under strong warrior kings and for much of its history Mercia has been plagued by internal instability. Much of the internal problem came from the fact that a desired Anglo-Saxon (and later Christian) Mercia was at odds with the local Britons and it took until the late 7th century before the country could be seen as somewhat homogenous in terms of race and religion.

Formed after the Anglian push into the Midlands at the start of the 6th Century Mercia came into being on the 13th of January 524AD. King Eadbeald II Nedalskip was the first Mercian ruler to prefer the title over the Anglian Kingdom and spent his lifetime forging Greater Mercia, putting the Kingdom through its first golden age. After his death in the Plague of Justinian weaker kings were unable to hold all his conquests together and the realm fractured. A series of regencies further weakened the grip of the Nedalskips though this was turned around at the dawn of the 7th century by some much needed good rule by King Ceolwulf and Queen Sisuile. The second Mercian golden age lasted merely a decade (651-661) during the reign of King Sæwæld I who was able to reforge Greater Mercia through diplomacy and conquest, bringing the East-Anglian territories back under Mercian rule. Upon his death however the years from 661-690 saw incessant civil war within Mercia and House Nedalskip itself. The crown was held by 6 Nedalskip rulers and very nearly usurped by a non Nedalskip in what became known as the Mercian Brother’s Wars. The civil wars ended just as King Offa I came to the throne and as the year 700 came around and the western lands were retaken from the Kingdom of Powys Mercia looked to once again be on the ascendant under Offa’s wise rule.

2) The Kingdom of Wessex (Anglo-Saxon)

The Kingdom of Wessex, ruled by the noble House Aberbridge of Devon since gaining independence from Cantia back in 570AD has steadily grown from its small beginnings to become the most powerful Anglo-Saxon state of the age. Internally stable compared to the feuding Nedalskips to the north Wessex slowly grew from the core provinces of Dorset to ruling over all the lands of former Dumnonia and more, taking lands from both Mercia and Cantia. After the civil wars of the late 7th century and the splitting of Greater Mercia the Kingdom of West-Seaxe is the most powerful in Britannia and appears secure and prosperous within its borders.

3) The Kingdom of Cantia (Anglo-Saxon)


The Cantian Kingdom is the oldest established Anglo-Saxon kingdom, predating the founding of even Eadric Nedalskip’s Anglian Kingdom to the year 466. Formerly a great power and occasionally THE most powerful Anglo-Saxon kingdom Cantia never really recovered from the loss of Wessex and defeats at the hands of Mercia in the wars of Cynemær Ironside in the late 6th Century. Surpassed by Wessex Cantia fell into steep decline and by the mid 600s was confined to the extreme South-East. Famously Cantia was the last of the major (excluding the Anglo-Saxons of Northumbria) Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms to convert to Christianity and some areas remained staunchly pagan at the dawn of the 8th Century.

4) The Kingdom of East-Anglia (Anglo-Saxon)

East-Anglia is the eastern half of Greater Mercia, and forced to be relinquished by the king in Tamworth for the difficulties of controlling such a large realm. Ruled over by King Wulfric Freamundsson, a not too distant relative of Offa I of Mercia the East-Anglians and Mercians are allies, brought together by the common dynastic ties that ensure even though Greater Mercia no longer exists the Anglo-Saxons of central Britannia are still bound together. Due to its larger population East-Anglia could be seen as more powerful than Mercia. The Kingdom is more divided however and much of the south-east is under control more of the powerful Jarls of Essex and the Saxon Shore rather than the King in Lincoln. At the dawn of the 8th century East-Anglia is expanding against crumbling Northumbria, but tensions are growing with neighbouring Mercia over the issue of de-Jure claims…

5) The Northumbrian Jarldoms: Deira, Bernicia (Anglo-Saxon)


Northumbria as a United Kingdom of northern Anglo-Saxons is a thing of the past. Though inroads into northern Britannia were made in the early 7th century the rise of the strong Brythonic Kingdom of Rheged in the area has seriously set back Northumbrian advances. The erosion of the King’s power has also allowed the Jarldoms of Bernicia and Deira to throw off his rule and become independent – thus the Anglo-Saxons of the north live in three de-facto “kingdoms” which in size are more like Jarldoms. Northumbria is disliked by its southern neighbours in Anglia and Mercia for its continued adherence to Norse paganism, the original beliefs of the Anglo-Saxon people. This is in spite of the fact that in the last century Christianity has gained many new converts in the region. Weak and divided the Saxons of Northumbria look set to continue their stagnation into the next century: that is unless a more southerly Saxon king does not try and seize the crown of the north…

6) The Kingdom of Powys and the Welsh (Welsh/Celtic)


Powys is by far the most powerful state in Wales and is Mercia’s western neighbour. Although defeated in the 697-699 war a ceasefire is under effect between the two countries, though the two are very likely to come to blows shortly due to Powys continued occupation of Pengwern, former Mercian territory. The loss of the last war with Mercia was costly for House Coeling of Powys, who had nearly completed the unification of Wales (even announcing the High Kingdom of Wales which existed briefly until the loss of Lugg Vale). Simmering tensions in the north of the country and the loss of the war with Mercia allowed the lords of Gwynedd and Ynys Mon to seize their independence, thus putting an end to the short-lived united Welsh Kingdom. Powys is still a threat to be reckoned with however and although losing the border territory of Pengwern to Mercia seems inevitable the re-unification of Wales against the Anglo-Saxon threat is a good possibility…

7) The Kingdom of Rheged (Brythonic/Cumbric/Celtic)


Confined to the edges of Britannia Rheged (and little Kernow) are the last remnants of the Celtic peoples of future England. Bordering the Pictish Kingdom to the north and the shattered realms of Northumbria to the south Rheged is the most powerful state in northern Britannia and a serious force to be reckoned with. Ruled by House Gul since the departure of the Romans Rheged-Elmet was once the supreme power north of the Anglian fens. Civil war and the unexpected arrival of the Northumbrians shattered the power of the northern Kingdom however which lost all of Elmet and a good deal of its coastal eastern lands to the Anglo-Saxon invaders. The 7th Century witnessed resurgence however – as Mercia and Anglia continued in civil war and the Northumbrians fought over their recent gains they were content to allow Rheged to rebuild its strength, believing that the war against the Britons was done. In recent years Rheged has retaken lands ruled by Northumbrians and driven the Saxons there back to the coastlines. With the current disorganisation of the Northumbrian lords the future of an Anglo-Saxon north seems unlikely given the power of Rheged…
 

NapoleonComple

Never permit evil to prosper
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Oooh, nice.

Brace yourself, men with decidedly non-pointed helmets are coming.
 

BanterCaliph

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Chapter 20, The Early 8th Century (700-715)

At the dawn of the 8th Century the Kingdom of Mercia was surrounded by opportunity. To the West the traditional Brythonic enemies of Powys had been broken in the last war and their lands were ripe pickings, the current ceasefire would end by February allowing a resumption of hostilities. To the North and East the other Nedalskip Kingdom, East-Anglia, was expanding into the north of Britannia at the expense of the Anglo-Saxons of south Cumbria. East-Anglia was internally vulnerable however as the Jarls of the Saxon Shore sought more independence from the capital at Lincoln. King Offa of Mercia thus had many possibilities.

Though King Offa wished to once again become the dominant Anglo-Saxon power (and that would mean an inevitable war with either East-Anglia or Wessex) he opted to first strengthen the power of Mercia and establish a new border with the Welsh Kingdoms. In February 700 he declared a new war to retake the province of Pengwern and this time hopefully hold it for good.



King Ceredig of Powys had been expecting such a move however and quickly mustered his armies, invading the Jarldom of Pegansaete in early March. Offa mustered his troops and marched north to engage the enemy near Wroxeter at the Battle of Oak’s Cross. With both sides fielding about 5,000 men the battle looked fairly evenly matched. King Offa was a superior commander and fighter than Ceredig however and this was shown rather dramatically in the battle. The defining moment was when Offa and Ceredig fought in personal combat, though the Welsh King was an inferior warrior he was spurred on by his hatred of Offa and Mercia (Offa had after all ordered his sons’ eyes plucked out) the duel ended as Ceredig was knocked to the floor and finished by King Offa. The King’s death demoralised the Powysian army, which routed and lost the battle. Due to this act and his wars against Powys Offa I gained the nickname “Hammer of the Welsh".



After the battle at Oaks Cross the Welsh armies were broken and forced to retreat back into their hilly country. The Mercian armies laid siege to numerous Powysian holdings and prepared to wait the winter out. A shock came when on the 7th of December one of these thousand strong Mercian armies was almost wiped out to a man at the battle of Severnia, in northern Pengwern. The northern Welsh states of Gwynedd and Yns Mon had decided to come to the aid of Powys in an attempt to halt Anglo-Saxon advances in the lands of their kin. The cavalry heavy force charge the unsuspecting Mercian encampment and inflicted heavy casualties.



This victory rallied the Welsh against Mercia and soon more men from the north joined the army that had won at Severnia. The enemy army marched south gaining manpower on the way and heading for Offa’s besieging force in Isca Siluria (modern Cardiff area). The Mercians still had a large army in the area however and the Mercian marshal, the legendary Ealdorman Ecgbhert of Leicester led his army of 1,600 to intercept the Northern Welsh at the Battle of Caer Lud, in the valleys of Lugg Vale on the 28th of February 701.

Here the military genius of Ecgbhert showed itself once more as the enemy army was utterly crushed. Ecgbhert lost a mere 151 men to kill and rout of force of over 1,500.

With the initiative once more in Mercian hands and the Welsh unable to raise another army the rest of 701 consisted of Anglo-Saxon armies rampaging around Wales and besieging the holds of the Powysian King Cadwallon. Cadwallon was Ceredig’s 9 year old grandson, the original heir Cedwyn (who was blinded by Offa in 699) had died from the complications of the procedure after becoming infected. By August Powys was forced to capitulate and Pengwern was once more a Mercian province. With this victory in the Welsh Wars Offa created the modern (RL) English-Welsh cultural and political border.



To the East in Anglia things were going badly for King Wulfric Nedalskip. In the north of the country the city of Eburacum had thrown off rule from Lincoln and enjoyed a brief period of independence, before being invaded and incorporated into the Jarldom of Deira, to which it belonged de-jure. The civil war with the Saxon Shore continued with both sides stuck in apparent deadlock.

Though Offa wished to assert Mercian dominance in Britannia he did not wish to turn against a fellow Nedalskip and war with Anglia, yet at the same time the Eastern realm was in a very precarious situation and making territorial gains would be relatively easy.

Rather than making an immediate decision on the Anglian problem Offa opted to spend late 701 and early 702 increasing relations with his vassals and allowing his nation time to enjoy peace. A great hunt was organised in Arden Forest and most of Offa’s vassals attended the event, where the King proved his merciful nature when his horse was immobilised.



Mere weeks after the hunt a luxurious feast was hosted at the King’s residence. Though most of Offa’s vassals attended Ealdoman Coenwulf of Lundenwic and Lady Ralla of Avon (Offa’s grandmother) notably did not for they were “otherwise engaged”. A day after receiving this response Offa learnt that the two and a number of other petty nobles were involved in a plot to realise Coenwulf’s claim to the throne through his (rather distant) relation to old King Sæwæld I through his father Hrodberht. A civil war was apparently boiling under the surface of what had appeared to be a stable court.



Offa got to work attempting to put out the cause of potential conflict as quick as possible, plotting to see Ealdorman Coenwulf involved in a tragic “accident”.
The King also took steps to improve the loyalty of his borderline vassals, giving Æscwine of Lugg Vale control over all the Jarldom of Magonsaete, a title that had formerly been held by Offa I.

As the year of 702 got under way ghosts from Offa’s past returned as he suddenly remembered his jewel theft of years ago. In horror he realised he had forgotten about the cook’s wife and she had been rotting in the dungeons for the last 8 years! He discovered that unsurprisingly the woman had been forgotten about and had died in her cell, after Offa’s death the story became well known and possibly exaggerated by the dungeon guards.



The rather eventful period of peace came to an abrupt end in March 702 however when Ealdorman Coenwulf declared his war to usurp the crown, giving Offa no time to put his plot into action. Mercia was once more embroiled in a civil war and all plans of increasing the power of the realm beyond its borders were put on hold.

Coenwulf’s rebellion had plenty of support from both in and out of Mercia. Conewulf was well liked by the Anglian King Wulfric due to their shared heritage (kin of Hrodberht and Freamund Nedalskip) and troops crossed the border to fight for the Earl of Lundenwic despite the ongoing civil war in their own country.



Perhaps the greatest betrayal for Offa was the treachery of his own grandmother however. As the two sides settled in to the war Lady Ralla of Avon turned against her King and blood and joined with the traitor Coenwulf. Being a intelligent and well informed man however Offa had suspected such an act (after all Ralla had not attended his feast) and his forces were positioned on the borders of Avon at the deceleration, swiftly moving in to neutralise the threat before it could grow in the area. Ralla’s army was basically removed from the war before it had started.

Numerous small battles were fought across Mercia before on the 18th of August the Battle of Branonegium was fought in Pengwern and Coenwulf’s armies defeated. The Ealdorman was captured and imprisoned, never to be released from the dungeons of Tamworth.



The 6 month conflict ended abruptly, though at the start both sides were relatively equal Coenwulf’s foolishness at leading from the front allowed Mercia to avoid another costly civil war. Lady Ralla was also imprisoned for the remainder of her life, dieing in her cell aged 71 and after a few months of captivity completely insane.

The Welsh wars and the recent civil war had left Mercia and King Offa relatively poor compared to the start of his reign. Thus the king used the period of peace to amass more wealth and focus on internal affairs. Offa and his wife reignited their romance during this time, having 6 children between 702 and 713!
Good stewardship came naturally to King Offa I and during 703 agriculture (particularly wool thanks to the wars raging over Cumbria – traditional wool producing country) thrived in Mercia. Offa chose to implement a tithe on this bounty however and gained a reputation as a slightly greedy king. Regardless of this by the end of 704 the national treasury was more full than it had been in 691 on Offa’s ascension to the throne.



As Offa’s son (also called Offa) grew older the time came for him to begin his education. King Offa wanted only the best education for his son as so the legendary Marshal Ealdorman Ecgberht was chosen to be his son’s tutor. Being Anglo-Saxon England’s greatest military leader at the time Offa hoped that at least some of this great man’s skill would rub off on his son. With a period of prosperity and progress in Mercia King Offa looked once more to East-Anglia with covetous eyes.



At the start of 706AD the Jarldom of East-Seaxe was held onto by King Wulfric Freamundsson (a cadet branch of House Nedalskip) of East-Anglia despite only half of the de-Jure counties of the Jarldom being under his rule. The border region was divided and Mercia controlled the population centre of Essex in Lundenwic. Offa realised that he had but to take the province of Cæster Forest in order to usurp the Jarldom, gain more territory in the region and increase his prestige. Though it would mean war against a dynasty member Wulfric was kin to the traitor usurper King Freamund and barely worthy of his connection to the Nedalskip name in Offa’s eyes. Thus in April 706 Mercia went to war with East-Anglia for control of Essex.

Recovering from a much longer and brutal war with the Saxon Shore nobles Anglia was wholly unprepared for a Mercian invasion and their field army of a mere thousand men was routed at the Battle of Brayford on the 7th of September.

The Mercian armies ranged freely across East-Anglia until Wulfric finally gave Cæster Forest up in early 707. Offa gained another province and usurped the Jarldom of East-Seaxe. Mercia’s prestige from this victory was great and it was beginning to once again be seen as the most powerful nation in Britannia north of Wessex.



Regarding Wessex the early 8th Century saw the pinnacle of their power. Unchallenged in the south they confined Cantia back to modern day Kent in a series of wars ending in 710. Offa sought to remain on good terms with the southern Anglo-Saxon Kingdom, who were quite easily the most powerful Kingdom on the islands after the collapse of Sæwæld I’s Greater Mercia.

707 and 708 were quiet years in Mercia despite the Wessex-Cantia war in the south of England. Christianity began to slowly gain a foothold in Wales around this time as Pengwern converted along with the first province in Powys to profess the faith of one god. Despite this the vast majority of Wales remained staunch believers in the old druidic faith of Britain.



In 708 Offa gave the Jarldom of East-Seaxe to Ealdorman Sigeræd of the Chiltern Hills, a noble who had sided with Coenwulf’s rebels 6 years ago. The noble had remained loyal since then and Offa wished to mend to scars of past conflict in his realm and also ensure it was governed efficiently.

In early 709 Anglia was once again ravaged by civil war as the states of the Saxon Shore (East-Anglia proper) fought to shake off Wulfric’s rule from Lincoln. King Wulfric petitioned Offa to aid in his fight, claiming that Nedalskip dynastic power would be lost over their ancestral lands. Offa rejected to aid Wulfric however, Mercia would only grow stronger while its neighbours fought. Instead Offa took the opportunity to seize Lancaster and Setantia from Wulfric’s rule, expanding north with the goal of eventually reforming the Jarldom of Cumbria as a Mercian puppet. By 711 Mercia had won, facing virtually no resistance apart from the Battle of Arnside in June of that year, which was a decisive victory.



By 712 Anglia had lost the Saxon Shore to rebellion and its northern provinces to Mercia, the Nedalskip eastern Kingdom was now confined to the East Midlands and Lincoln and began to be known amongst its enemies as the Kingdom of Lindsey.

In July 712 Offa began to notice funds missing from his treasury his spymaster discovered that the Jarl of Magonsæte, the previously exceptionally loyal Æscwine of Oaks Cross had in fact been stealing funds from the King. Offa demanded the return of the stolen funds and relations plumeted. The uppity Jarl even suggested that had Offa matched his intelligence (Æscwine was a well known genius) he would have caught him in the act, this enraged Offa greatly. When proof of Æscwine’s continued treachery came in September 712 (the Jarl was found attempting to forge a claim on the crown of Mercia, somehow) King Offa spared no time ordering his arrest for his crimes. Though the Jarl escaped he only evaded capture until the start of 713, his pathetic rebellion leading to only a few dozen deaths as most of his men sided with Offa.



After Æscwine was dealt with Offa turned his attention to the north and recreated the Jarldom of Cumbria. The title was given Eadbhert of Blestium, a minor noble who had a good rapport with the King. In March 713 King Wulfric of Anglia died and he was succeeded by his younger and well liked brother Freamund Nedalskip as Anglian King. He was able to swiftly bring the Saxon Shore back under his rule and now looked to regain Cæster Forest from Mercia. In August Anglia declared war and the two sides met near Sullon Hill, in the forest. Here King Offa I was wounded in the combat and his army defeated, despite his Marshall’s great leadership the Anglian armies had their own competent commanders and luck on their side that day.

Offa’s wound stayed with him and on the 24th of January 714 he passed away, his weak body unable to resist the growing infection from his festering battle wound. He was succeeded by his 15 year old son, also called Offa Nedalskip and Offa II. Though young Offa II was a highly ambitious young man and strove to honour his father’s memory and increase the prestige of the Nedalskip name.



Young Offa spent the year of 714 under the regency and tutorage of Marshal Ecberht of Leicester. Though the young king learnt many fighting skills from the great veteran he was a less than amazing commander and more of a footsoldier, only emerging from his education with one of the age’s best military minds as a “Dutiful Commander”

Offa was brave, attractive and very ambitious however and although his greedy and envious nature held him back diplomatically he looked to be a capable and relatively well liked ruler. Coming of age on the 28th of December 714 the newest King of Mercia had much to do to reclaim Mercia’s position as the premier Anglo-Saxon power.