Thragka

Second Lieutenant
71 Badges
Aug 11, 2010
146
18
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Semper Fi
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
The Chronicle of the Oak
translated from the Irish text of the Croinic Dara
and the Latin text of the Chronicon Quercum
by Seán Óg Mac Cionnaith.​


Table of Contents

Introduction to the first edition

The History of Conchobar, as chronicled by Donnchad macMurchad
I. On Earl Conchobar's Ambitions, the Alliance with the Isles and the Carrick War, 1066-1074
II. On the War with Breifne and the Ascent of Meath, 1074-1081
Brehon Law



Introduction to the first edition:

The medieval political landscape of the island of Ireland was a fractured, and, some would say, chaotic, mess. A predominantly rural society, by the time of its Christianisation at the turn of the ninth century AD the only true “urban” settlements on the island were monastic communities centred on abbeys. The homogeneously Gaelic culture of previous centuries was marked for change after the first Viking raids of 795-807, sparking nearly two centuries of intermittent warfare as monasteries and towns across the island were plundered. Norse expansion in Ireland intensified after 821, with the first fortified encampment in Dublin being settled around this time. As the Vikings expanded inwards from the east coast of the island and established many other coastal towns, their presence became an important factor in the struggles between the Gaelic kings on the rest of the island.

The hundreds of clans, or túatha, were nominally all beholden to the office of the High King, or Ard Rí; however, while legendary figures take on this role in literature dating back to the seventh century, it was not until the Viking Age that the High Kingship became a political entity capable of exacting influence over the island as a whole. Historical sources present conflicting opinions on whether the cultural notion of the High Kingship was important to the minor kings, or whether the tribes were happy to operate independently, but it cannot be gainsaid that all of the island’s major political entities aspired to the role from the Viking Age onwards. For the majority of the eighth and ninth centuries, the Uí Néill dynasty were the most frequent pretenders to the title of Ard Rí, with much fighting between the northern and southern branches of the family over which of them claimed the role. The Southern Uí Néill claimed the title of the kingdom of Mide, or Meath, and had the prestige of controlling the Hill of Tara, the ceremonial centre of the High Kingship where new High Kings were crowned. Other kingdoms of similar political power were Ulaid (Ulster), Connacht, Laigin (Leinster) and Mumu (Munster). The kingdoms of Bréifne and Osraige were semi-independent realms within the greater kingdoms of Connacht and Munster, respectively.

Ireland_early_peoples_and_politics.gif

Ninth century political landscape of Ireland

During the tenth century, Dublin had become a thriving Norse city, and the Vikings had also settled in the cities of Wexford and Waterford in the south-east, Cork in the south and Limerick in the south-west. The balance of power between the various kingdoms and city-states was resilient, despite frequent warfare between the Viking states, the Uí Néill high kings and the kingdom of Ulster. This stagnation in the north and east was to prove to the advantage of Munster in the latter half of the tenth century. In 976, Brian mac Cennétig, who would later be known as Brian Boru, became king of Cashel. He defeated Norse Limerick in 977 and by 983 was the preeminent king in Munster after raiding Osraige. The King of Mide and High King at this time was Máel Sechnaill mac Domnaill of the Uí Néill. Viewing Brian as a threat, he raided Munster in 982, sparking two decades of war between the two kings. In 997, Máel Sechnaill recognised Brian’s authority over the south of Ireland and for a time the two kings were even allied. However, in 1000 Brian attacked Máel Sechnaill and by 1002 he had forced the king of Mide to submit to him, claiming the title of High King. Over the next decade, he campaigned against the Northern Uí Néills and the Ulaid, and by 1011, every regional king on the island recognised him as the High King. He proclaimed himself Imperator Scottorum, Emperor of the Irish, signifying his rule of both the Gaels and the Norse in Ireland, and possibly claiming overlordship of the Gaels of Scotland as well.

Brian_Boru%2C_King_of_Munster.jpg

18th-century engraving of Brian Boru, High King of Ireland

However, this period of Irish unity lasted only a year before kings in the Northern Uí Néill, Leinster and Dublin revolted. Brian Boru was killed in the Battle of Clontarf against the King of Leinster, and although his army eventually won the day, the power of the High Kingship was broken. Máel Sechnaill re-assumed the title of Ard Rí until his death in 1022 but by now the Kingdom of Mide had effectively lost control of Norse Dublin and few considered Máel Sechnaill’s second reign as high king to carry the authority of his first. Following his death, although Brian Boru’s son Donnchad mac Brian styled himself as King of Ireland, the various minor kings of the island all recognised that the position of Ard Rí had had no true holder since Brian’s death. The interregnum lasted well into the eleventh century, almost mirroring the period of chaos that was to erupt across the Irish sea.

Hereafter, the history of Ireland is less clear, in part due to the general decline of Gaelic society during the interregnum. The prominent historical document of the period, however, is the book variously known as the Croinic Dara or Chronicon Quercum, both meaning the “chronicle of the oak”. This chronicle was started by order of Máel Sechnaill’s descendant Conchobar, and takes its name from the earldom of Cill Dara (Kildare), the “church of the oak”, the remnant of the Kingdom of Mide after Brian Boru. This translation of the chronicle follows the descendants of Earl Conchobar as recorded by the court chaplains of the Ua Maíl Seachlainn dynasty from 1066 onwards. The translator has done his best to keep to the spirit of the original text at all times, and convey the various styles and opinions of the chronicle’s various original authors as accurately as possible.

--

Hello all! As you can see from my location, I live in Kildare myself, so I thought what better county (well, earldom) to try out for a game of CKII? I'm not very experienced with the game, I must admit, so there's a non-negligible chance that the glorious Ua Maíl Seachnaill line will completely fail to carve a name for themselves in the history of the medieval era - but I reckon I've got about as much managerial skill as your typical eleventh century Irishman, so what can possibly go wrong? The style will likely be history-book-ish, although it may stray from time to time depending upon who's writing the chronicle.
 

Attachments

  • Ireland_early_peoples_and_politics.gif
    Ireland_early_peoples_and_politics.gif
    311,5 KB · Views: 45
Last edited:

Thragka

Second Lieutenant
71 Badges
Aug 11, 2010
146
18
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Semper Fi
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
Well, how about ... now! Although I probably won't get another update out until next week.

The History of Earl Conchobar of Kildare, as chronicled by Donnchad macMurchad

Translator's note: Conchobar was the grandson of Máel Sechnaill macDomnaill, and his direct successor - his father Domnaill having died in 1019, three years before Máel Sechnaill, Conchobar inherited the rump of the old Kingdom of Mide at the beginning of the Interregnum. Donnchad macMurchad was the grandson of Conchobar's half brother, and had served as the Earl's Court Chaplain. It is often questioned why Earl Conchobar chose Donnchad to begin the chronicle, when the more obvious choice would seem to be his vassal Bishop Brandub of St Brigit. However, this historian believes the answer is simple: given the amount of trust Conchobar would place in the author of the chronicle, it seems likely that he did not want to divulge the less upstanding details of his reign to a man of God, and preferred to admit only a family member into his trust.

I. On Earl Conchobar's Ambitions, the Alliance with the Isles and the Carrick War, 1066-1074

It was in the fifth decade of Conchobar's reign as Earl of Kildare and successor to the King of Mide and the Ard Rí that word reached our shores of the tumult across the sea, with Saxon, Norman and Norse at war for the throne of Sasana [translator's note: England; compare 'Saxon']. Seeing a similarity with the fracturing of his grandfather's realm, Conchobar was spurred to extend his own power. The Earldom of Kildare had been in decline, as had all the kingdoms of Éire [translation: Ireland], since the death of Brian Bóruma mac Cennétig. Conchobar was committed to reversing this stagnation and sent forth his councillors to improve the state of his realm. His son and heir, Máel-Sechlainn macConchobar, was his steward, sent to raise taxes throughout Kildare. His marshal Murchad macFlann set to training the Earl's levies, and increase their knowledge of tacticson the field of battle. His court chaplain, Donnchad macMurchad, was tasked with improving religious relations in Kildare, and improving the earldom's religious customs. His chancellor, the Bishop Brandub of St Brigid, was sent north to Breifne to attempt to sway the lords of that kingdom to Conchobar's allegiance. His wife the Countess Gráinne was his spymaster, whom Conchobar sent southeast to Leinster to study the technology of that Earldom. Conchobar hoped to reclaim the title of King of Mide, or Duke of Meath as it was called during the Interregnum, and knew to do this he would have to become richer than Earl Murchad of Dublin, the other pretender to the duchy title.

At this time the Earl's son and heir Máel-Sechlainn macConchobar was unmarried, and Conchobar was eager to find him a highborn wife, yet there were few highborn ladies in the courts of the Earls and Dukes of Ireland; so Conchobar looked further afield, to the Duchy of the Isles across the Irish sea. Duke Gudrod I Crovan of the Isles was without issue, his heir being his younger brother, and it was widely spoken that he was not capable of producing a child, whereas his wife Princess Ragnhild Maria of Norway was known to be of the fertile Yngling line; whence Conchobar conspired with Count Fingal of Galloway to plan to murder the princess and ensure Duke Gundred remained childless. Count Fingal was at first unwilling to partake in the scheme, but Conchobar gifted him gold and won his support. Then he approached Gudrod, that the Duke's sister Helga might be betrothed to Máel-Sechlainn, and not suspecting the Earl's motives, the Duke agreed.

MaelSechnaillBetrothal.png

Even having found him a wife, Conchobar still for a time found his son a disappointment, for Máel-Sechlainn's attempts at collecting tax enraged the peasants of Kildare and soured relations with his vassals Bishop Brandub and Máel-Ruanaid, the mayor of the city of Kildare. At this time, at the beginning of 1067, Earl Diarmait of Leinster fell asleep and his title passed to his son, Earl Murchad of Dublin. This enraged Conchobar, for now he could not hope to become richer than Earl Murchad, and his plan to become Duke of Meath was defeated.

It was only a fortnight after this that Máel-Sechlainn married Helga Haraldsdatter, however, and this pleased Conchobar, especially as he collected the marriage dues. But when the following month his son was attacked by peasants while collecting tax, Conchobar's rage returned, and his wroth was terrible to behold.

MaelSechnaillAttacked.png

When Conchobar's nephew Domnall approached the Earl, hoping his uncle would find him a marriage as he had done so for Máel-Sechlainn, in spite the Earl married him to a lowborn woman, and after this no member of the court approached the Earl about marriage again.

By the end of 1067, the fighting in Sasana was at all ends of the country. Much of the north of the country was controlled by Harald Hardrada, king of Norway, whereas the southeast was being invaded by William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, and many in Éire thought that the rule of the Saxon Harold Godwinson was soon to be at an end; although there was no consensus, and many wagers, as to which foreign king would prevail.

EnglishInvasion.png

Also at this time was a son born to Máel-Sechlainn and Helga, named Finnsnechtae, and at this joyous news did Conchobar forgive his son of all his failings, and the Earldom rejoiced. As Finnsnechtae was the nephew of Gudrod Crovan, and the Duke of the Isles had still produced no heirs, the babe was in the line of succession to the Duchy of the Isles via his mother, after Gudrod and Helga's other sibling Donald Crovan. So Conchobar put aside his scheme to murder Ragnhild Maria, and instead plotted to kill Donald Crovan. Again, he recruited Count Fingal of Galloway; also Bishop Eilif of Iona, who was Gudrod's chaplain, and the Norwegians Øystein and Harald av Laggan, who were nobles in Gudrod's court.

In spring of 1068, Harold Godwinson conceded defeat to Duke William the Bastard, who was then called the Conqueror, and so the Norman lands in France passed out of that kingdom and into the kingdom of England. But Harald Hardrada was not happy for his claim to be silenced, and made war against William, refusing to relinquish control of Lancaster and York to the Norman king.

CarrickRebellion.png

The wars across the sea were finally felt in Éire in September of that year when Earl Mac Congáil of Carrick rebelled against Duke Gudrod, the latter calling on Conchobar to honour the marriage-bond between them. Conchobar was eager for war after forty years of peace, and summoned his levies, and marched them to Ulaid and across the Giant's Causeway to Galloway, and thence began beseiging the castle of Turnberry in the County of Carrick.

GiantsCauseway.jpg

The Giant's Causeway, Ulster - location of straits between Ireland and Scotland

Conchobar led the siege at Turnberry for over a year, and though some of his levy fell to disease around the camp, the Earl remained healthy, and in September of 1069 the castle fell to Kildare. Conchobar led his levies to the city of Maybole and laid siege once more; but the city's defenders outnumbered Conchobar's host, and the army of Duke Gudrod were too concerned with Mac Congáil's army to strike camp and lay siege.

SiegeTooSmall.png

So Conchobar wrote home and ordered his vassal Máel-Ruanaid of Kildare to raise his men and come to Carrick. Máel-Ruanaid's levy numbered only one-and-twenty, yet did the work of many times their number; when they arrived at Maybole they pretended to be scattered remnants of Mac Congáil's army, and by this treachery convinced the city's defenders to open the outer gates.

IntrigueSiege.png

A Norwegian army did also arrive at Maybole, for Gudrod was also allied to Harald Hardrada by way of his wife, and together the two hosts had soon convinced the mayor of Maybole to surrender the city by January of 1070.

Maybole.png

Also at this time did Conchobar take advantage of Gudrod's trust in him to plot with Gudrod's wife Ragnhild Maria, and somehow persuaded her of the merits of his scheme to kill her brother-in-law Donald.

RagnhildDonald.png

In April of 1070 did the last holding in Carrick fall to the combined Irish and Norwegian armies, with the capitulation of the Bishop of Crossraguel. Conchobar was eager to return to Kildare after two years making war in Albain [translation: Scotland], and began leading his levy home, but Mac Congáil returned to Carrick with his host to relieve his holdings, and Conchobar was forced to do battle with him to prevent his years of sieging becoming undone. Conchobar's army suffered grevious losses and was forced to retreat, but in doing so damaged Mac Congáil forces enough that the rebel Earl no longer had the men to retake his own holdings. So Conchobar returned to Kildare, leaving his loyal garrisons controlling Carrick, and Mac Congáil was known and shamed as a homeless Earl that had lost his own Earldom.

BattleOfTurnberry.png

Though Mac Congáil's army still troubled Gudrod, for Conchobar the war had all but finished, and he returned home to peace. For a year the Earl of Kildare was untroubled, until summer 1071, when his wife the Countess Gráinne uncovered a plot to kill him by his own daughter-in-law, Helga Crovan, who learned of the many members of Gudrod's court with whom Conchobar was conspiring to kill their brother Donald. So Conchobar had her arrested, and imprisoned her in his dungeons. This saddened Máel-Seachlainn, who beseeched his father to be merciful towards his wife, and so Conchobar relented, releasing Helga from the dungeons and placing her instead under house arrest. But when after a year Helga tried to escape, Conchobar returned her to the dungeons, and Máel-Sechlainn had no choice but to accept, as his wife had now twice betrayed her liege's trust. And his court accepted the fairness of his judgement, for he could not let her stay free, but nor did he consign her to imprisonment that would belittle her rank.

HelgaRope.png

In April of 1072 the rebel Earl Mac Congáil died, and control of Carrick passed away from Conchobar. But in recognition of Conchobar's role in deposing him, his younger son Murchad was betrothed to the new Countess of Carrick, Fine; and this greatly pleased Conchobar, for even if his scheme to make his grandson Duke of the Isles failed, at least his bloodline would be spread to that realm.

CarrickBetrothal.png

Even when Earl Murchad of Dublin and Leinster declared himself Duke of Meath, Conchobar was not enraged, for he knew he had not been idle in planning for his heirs' expansion. Indeed, in February of 1074, Bishop Brandub wrote from Breifne that he had managed to fabricate a claim on that county for Conchobar, and for the first time the Earl made ready to expand his realm directly, rather than plotting for his successors' benefit.

BreifneClaim.png
 

Thragka

Second Lieutenant
71 Badges
Aug 11, 2010
146
18
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Semper Fi
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
Thanks Dovahkiing. I'm off work until Monday, so I may get one or more updates out over the long weekend, but after that I predict a much slower pace.

Comments and criticism from anyone are of course most welcome, be they on gameplay or writing.
 

Thragka

Second Lieutenant
71 Badges
Aug 11, 2010
146
18
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Semper Fi
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
II. On the War with Breifne and the Ascent of Meath, 1074-1081

Before the life and death of Brian Bóruma Mac Cennétig, Breifne was a kingdom within the greater kingdom of Connacht; but during the Interregnum it drifted out of the latter kingdom's control, and owing to the decline of the High Kingship, became known as the Earldom of Breifne, whereas Connacht was called a Duchy; and Connacht claimed the right to rule Breifne owing to their relationship in times past. Of the kingdoms bordering Kildare, Breifne and Osraige had been the weaker in the history of Éire, and Conchobar had thought long over which of these to make war with; but Osraige was more closely associated with the Duchy of Laigin, which Earl Conchobar feared Duke Murchad of Meath would claim. So Conchobar had sent his chancellor Bishop Brandub of St Brigit north to Breifne in 1066, to make claims on that Earldom for Kildare, and in 1074 Brandub reported that he had succeeded. Conchobar suspected that Earl Áed of Breifne had a stronger host than he did, so he held his peace, and waited for his Marshall, Murchad MacFlann, to train the levy of Kildare. Bishop Brandub was then sent to Dublin, to entreat with Duke Murchad for friendship between he and Conchobar, for the Earl of Kildare was wary of the growing power of his eastern neighbour.

In Sasana at this time King William the Conqueror had passed, and the claims of Harold Hardrada were truly forgotten on that isle, and William's son Robert took the throne of England. It was said of Robert that he was not half the king his father had been, and all spoke of his envy, his sloth, and his wroth. It was rumoured also that he preferred to lie with men than women, despite having begotten a son and heir. So little did his own vassals think of him that after his father's death, Sasana fell to war once more. The Dukes of Lancaster and of Northumberland at this time were brothers, and both were kin of Harold Godwinsson of Hwicce, and both rose up in war against Robert to return their family to the throne; but their rebellion was subdued by Robert by the end of that spring.

HwicceRebellion.png

While waiting to make war on Breifne, Conchobar turned his thoughts back to the demands of peacetime. He still felt displeased at his son Máel-Sechlainn's work as Steward, for it seemed his heir could not tax the peasants without them rising up against him; so instead he told Máel-Sechlainn to remain at court and think of ways to improve Kildare's economy. Máel-Seclainn was disappointed at his father's lack of faith in him, but some years later he developed a new method of farming, which was shared with the peasants to some success. His chaplain Donnchad MacMurchad was in St Brigit to pay respect to Bishop Brandub's holding; for as much as Bishop Brandub loved and respected Conchobar, equally did he love and respect the Holy Father Alexander II, and so would neither pay his tax to Conchobar nor allow his liege to raise his levies. But with Bishop Brandub in Dublin, Donnchad only had his court to deal with, and this suited him poorly; and when he claimed it was beneath him to treat with any less than the Bishop himself, relationships with the bishopric soured.

At this time Conchobar was heard to frequently belittle the members of his council, and claim that none were fit to hold the offices the Earl had bestowed upon them; but in January of 1075 Murchad MacFlann reported that the earldom's levy was swollen with recruits, which pleased Conchobar. So he declared war on Breifne, and led his army north to Cavan, and sent word to Duke Gudrod of the Isles to come make war against Earl Áed. But the wretched Duke was craven, and despite Conchobar's role in subduing the rebel Earl of Carrick, Gudrod would not make war on Breifne; so Conchobar attainted him as a worm and an oathbreaker, and the friendship between the men was lost. The host of Breifne was larger than that of Kildare, and Áed was a better warrior than Conchobar, so the field was lost; and Conchobar led his levies home, to be refilled with Marshal Murchad's recruits.

Cavan.png

In April of 1075 Donnchad MacMurchad did succeed in making Bishop Brandub aware of the Holy Father's failings, and so Brandub assured Conchobar that he would pay his tax and lend him his levy, which pleased the Earl. Conchobar knew that with Brandub's men, the host of Kildare would be larger than that of Breifne, and so he waited for the new recruits to be ready before striking out against Breifne again.

LevyComparison.png

During this time Conchobar took his grandson Finnsnechtae as his ward. Finnsnechtae was known to be angry as a child, and fond of getting his own way; so Conchobar beat him to teach him the virtue of patience, pointing out that if the Earl could not get his own way in matters of war, there was no reason why his grandson should. But although the war was not succeeding, when the Holy Father Alexander II fell asleep in the lord, Bishop Brandub did not think much of his successor, Adrian IV, which pleased Conchobar; so he brought Donnchad MacMurchad back from St Brigit and instructed him instead to devote his tim to improving the society of the Earldom. In November of 1076 Conchobar raised his levies once more, knowing that now they were greater in number than the army of Earl Áed. He came upon the army of Breifne at Dromahair, but despite their lesser numbers, Earl Áed's leadership was too much for Kildare, and again Earl Conchobar was defeated. For this failure Conchobar blamed his Marshal Murchad, and replaced him with his brother Domnall MacFlann.

Dromahair.png

In 1078, the levy of Kildare was at full strength once more; whereas the levy of Breifne remained weakened from the two battles of the war, and in May of that year Conchobar led his host to Cavan for the second time; and this time his army was victorious, losing only one man for every two they killed. But when they had chased down and killed the remnant of Áed's host, they were no longer strong enough to lay siege to the holdings of Breifne. Conchobar's wroth was much inflamed by this, and so for the third time in as many years he returned from the war, unable to proceed.

Cavan2.png

It is said that the presence of his grandson did much to calm him, for as Conchobar's ward the boy had grown a gentle soul, and was known to have a loving and kind nature. So Conchobar drew strength from Finnsnechtae, and turned his mind away from the war. By way thanks to his grandson, Conchobar betrothed Finnsnechtae to Thorborg Ragnvaldsdatter av Vedrafjord [translator's note: the Viking city of Waterford], daughter of the Earl of Ormond.

Thorborg.png

In April of 1079, Conchobar's fears were realised, as Duke Murchad of Meath declared war on him. When the army of Meath arrived it numbered six hundred, and Conchobar knew he could not make war against both Meath and Breifne; so he put aside his pride and agreed to Duke Murchad's overlordship. This won the Duke's respect, and Murchad instantly set to improving the fortifications of St Brigit and the city of Kildare, not wanting his newest vassal to be defeated in his war with Breifne.

InMeath.png

In October of 1080, the Countess Gráinne passed, and though Conchobar grieved he knew he must marry again, for Gráinne had been his spymaster. So he entreated with the Duke of Apulia, Bohemond d'Hauteville, to marry the Duke's sister Eria; and Bohemond found the match agreeable. Conchobar made Eria his new spymaster, and the marriage duty vastly swelled the coffers of Kildare, which pleased the Earl. Conchobar used the gold to hire the Saxon Band of Captain Maldræd. With this army now vastly outnumbering the host of Breifne, Conchobar was finally ready to finish his war after five long years.

Eria.png

In January of 1081 the Saxon Band reached Cavan, and set to assaulting the holdings of Earl Áed; but Conchobar's Council felt the war had gone on for too long and been too costly, and did not trust Maldræd's mercenaries; so behind the Earl's back they spoke with Áed and agreed to abandon Kildare's claim on Breifne, and pay a tithe for having made war. At this betrayal, Conchobar was much enraged, and reorganised his council; his grandson Conchobar macMáel-Sechlainn replaced Máel-Sechlainn as Steward, while Bishop Brandub was demoted from Chancellor to Court Chaplain and replaced in the former role by Donnchad MacDomhnall. I, Donnchad MacMurchad, was removed from the council, but as Conchobar made no mention of this chronicle I have resolved to continue the record for Earl Conchobar's descendants.

Betrayal.png

The tithe to Breifne had left Conchobar indebted to other members of his court, but the Earl was most displeased at this shaming; so he broke the laws of God by visiting usurers, and borrowing a large sum at interest, after calculating that he would emerge the richer after the debt. But the Earl of Breifne was not yet satisfied with how much he had punished Conchobar, and sent a spy to infiltrate his court; and when Conchobar discovered this, he carved the spy's eyes out in front of all his court. Many thought that Conchobar had been driven mad; and certainly the outcome of the wars with Breifne and Meath weighed heavily on his heart, and on the 14th of March of 1081 his heart gave out, and he fell asleep, leaving Máel-Sechlainn to inherit Kildare.

ConchobarDies.png

I do not wish to speak ill of the dead, but in writing this chronicle I must be honest. Earl Conchobar rules Kildare well for nearly half a century, but it seems it is his ambitious later years for which he will be remembered. His goals were grand, and it is an insult to his memory that he died spiteful with them unattained, but perhaps if he had chosen his friends and bided his time a bit more wisely he would have succeeded. For my part, I intend to continue this chronicle, and turn my attention now to Conchobar's son Máel-Sechlainn. Perhaps one day I will show it to him.

Thus ends the history of Earl Conchobar of Kildare.

--

I learnt something very important during this session: if your warscore drops to -100%, you automatically surrender even if none of your holdings are occupied. This was especially annoying since my huge mercenary army - well, relatively huge, for Ireland - were just storming Breifne's holdings. Given how long the war ended up taking I would have been far better off just to wait the years it would have taken to raise the money for the mercenaries myself and use them from the start.

Now I find myself a vassal of Meath. Hopefully I can use this to my advantage.
 

Thragka

Second Lieutenant
71 Badges
Aug 11, 2010
146
18
  • Crusader Kings II: Charlemagne
  • Europa Universalis IV: Third Rome
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mare Nostrum
  • Cities: Skylines - Snowfall
  • Stellaris: Synthetic Dawn
  • Cities: Skylines - After Dark
  • Europa Universalis IV: Pre-order
  • Cities: Skylines Deluxe Edition
  • Victoria 2: Heart of Darkness
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Semper Fi
  • Europa Universalis IV: Res Publica
  • Heir to the Throne
  • Hearts of Iron III
  • For the Motherland
  • Europa Universalis IV: Call to arms event
  • Europa Universalis IV: Conquest of Paradise
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: Rajas of India
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sunset Invasion
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Darkest Hour
  • Europa Universalis III
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis IV: Wealth of Nations
  • Europa Universalis IV: Art of War
  • Crusader Kings II: Monks and Mystics
  • Stellaris: Leviathans Story Pack
  • Stellaris: Digital Anniversary Edition
  • Tyranny: Archon Edition
  • Europa Universalis IV: Rights of Man
  • Crusader Kings II: Reapers Due
  • Stellaris - Path to Destruction bundle
  • Cities: Skylines - Mass Transit
  • Europa Universalis IV: Mandate of Heaven
  • Crusader Kings II: Conclave
  • Crusader Kings II: Horse Lords
  • Europa Universalis IV: Common Sense
  • Pillars of Eternity
  • Crusader Kings II: Way of Life
  • Europa Universalis IV: El Dorado
  • Europa Universalis 4: Emperor
  • 500k Club
  • Victoria 2
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
  • Europa Universalis III Complete
Translator's note: Brehon Law

From time to time during the translation of this text, this historian will digress from the literal account of the Croinic Dara to explain and account for certain historical contexts with which the reader may not be familiar. It is essential to bear in mind that the Croinic Dara was not, at its inception, envisioned to be a historical document that would record the lives of the Ua Maíl Seachlainn. Rather, it was an extension of the Gaelic tradition of sean nós, the oral tradition of recounting and telling tales of one's forebears. (Sean nós was usually sung - although the complex ornamentation of the melody and nasalisation, nasalisation, and abrupt glottal stops, renders it quite unlike what one thinks of as an Irish folk song in this day and age, and might be said to be 'intoned' rather than 'sung' - whereas the text seems to be an experiment in writing down one's family history, as opposed to committing it to song or speech.) To this end, the chroniclers wrote as if to a contemporary, assuming that their readers, usually the children of the current Ua Maíl Seachlainn, would be perfectly au fait with the society of their ancestors. To this end, the richness of the text is only revealed when combined with other historical sources that unlock its social context. Certain historians - although this writer would not besmirch any by name - fail to appreciate this fact, and dismiss the Croinic Dara as 'useless' and 'infantile' because it is difficult to make use of by itself, but this writer feels that such nonsense is obviously brushed aside when one realises that the chronicle gives the reader a unique insight into the minds of its writers, and its worth is in how close it brings us to communicate with people who lives their lives in ways described by other dusty tomes that speak only of laws and cultures.

If the reader will forgive the tangent, this historian will, then, spend a moment discussing the legal system of Gaelic Ireland. In their own legal texts, which date back to the eighth century, this system is referred to as the Fenechas, the law of the Feni, that being the name for the freemen of the period when the native Gaelic culture was assimilating Christian influences. Unfortunately this term is something of a dirty word in modern historian circles, most likely due to the manner in which the term 'Fenian' has been adopted in the past two centuries to apply to various brotherhoods of revolutionary and sometimes terrorist Irishmen that claim a cultural descendance from these medieval freemen. Thus, the accepted term for early Irish law is Brehon law, named after the caste of judges in medieval Irish society.

377364_Irish-Brehons.jpg

Irish Brehons (date unknown; likely stylised)

Much like the sean nós, before Christian clerics arrived to the island and took up their ubiquitous habit of condemning local customs to be eternally frozen on vellum, the law was passed down orally, and consisted of centuries of accumulated decisions of the Brehons. As such, the fine details were prone to change from túath to túath and between generations; however, the core principles were the same across the island. The law was broadly divided into covering six categories: women (and marriage), kingship, status, clientship, physical injury and kinship. In the interest of completeness we will provide a brief overview of these six categories, even though not all of them are relevant to the present section of the chronicle.

Although in the first millenium it is true that, as in other European societies, women were second-class citizens, with the advancement and stabilisation of Brehon law it is often said that in medieval society an Irishwoman was substantially more free than her European counterpart. Although they had to be represented in court by a male, they were free to own their own property, and the laws for combining households upon marriage (and dividing them again upon divorce) were delightfully complicated. Before Christianity took hold, divorce was provided for on a number of grounds (notably, impotence or homosexuality on the husband's part), and while a husband was permitted to hit his wife to 'correct' her, if the blow left a mark she was entitled to claim back her bride-price and divorce him. The roles of queens and chieftains' wives were powerful ones by the medieval period, rather than simply being the rulers' consorts as they had been prior to circa 800 CE.

Kingship occupies a surprisingly small proportion of the texts, and often has confusing or contradictory precepts - which may go some way towards explaining why every local clan chief was called a king in his own right, with some kings being more powerful than others. Texts identify between three and five levels of kingship - the lowest being king of a single túath, and the highest being the 'king of overkings' or 'king of a province'. The High Kingship is in turn above these provincial kings, but incredibly there is almost no legal structure provided for the role of Ard Rí; which, again, may indicate precisely why the High Kingship was so unstable in medieval times.

As with other medieval jurisdictions, the king's status in society is equal to that of a bishop; however unlike elsewhere in Europe, the highest caste of poets also shared this status. Kings acted as agents of the law, and some texts imply that they were merely tasked with upholding and enforcing the law; it is unclear (and possibly was at the time) whether the king had the power to change the law at will. One subject that is eminently clear, however, is that Irish kings were still subject to the law; although given how powerful as an individual a king usually was, it could be difficult to succesfully prosecute one for acting above the law.

PIC8.jpg

Illustration of a chieftain and his clan enjoying a meal, 1581

The majority of Brehon law deals with managing the fact that not all people in Irish society were born equal - in fact it could be said that such modern egalitarianism was actually undesirable under Brehon law. Each person in medieval society had a specific rank, and the interplay between two people's ranks determined the nature of almost every conceivable matter between them, such as hospitality, personal honour, employment and criminal justice and in particular their honour-price, which formed the basis of legal compensation. The clergy in Ireland were given 'parallel' ranks to the laity, with, as mentioned before, bishops being of equivalent status to kings. Notably, poets were also outside the standard hierarchy, with the top tier of poets also being equated with bishops and kings. Otherwise, society was divided into slaves, hereditary serfs, commoners, cow-owners, land-owners, and several ranks of lords who could have clients in lower ranks, and thence the heir to the throne and then the king himself. Changing status was possible, although only after three consecutive generations of promotion was a family's change in status considered final. Any property owner could become "free clients" of their lords, who would grant their clients land in exchange for service and the promise to return the granted land with interest. This system of clientship was the main vehicle of social mobility. The lower classes (from slaves to cow-owners) could only become "base clients" of lords, whereby they were granted livestock or much smaller tracts of land, and their lord was responsible for part of their honour-price, meaning his lord was entitled to a portion of an compensation legally due to him. A man could act as base client to several lords at once.

In cases of physical injury, the law would in modern terms be understood be a civil code as opposed to a criminal one, as offenders only had to answer to their victim or their victim's representative, not the society as a whole. In addition, fines were the chief form of punishment and compensation imposed on offenders. All physical injury was unlawful and requiring compensation except if the injured party had gone to a location where injury was likely. Those who caused wounds were fined based on the severity and location of the wound, and the injurer was also responsible to pay for any time the wounded spent recovering. In the case of murder, capital punishment was a last resort and murders instead were doubly fined; first the "body fine" for the price of the victim, and second the honour price depending on the relative rank between the two parties, demonstrating that the the accused's honour was void. If neither the accused nor their family could (or would) pay, the murderer was placed in the custody of the victim's family, who could then keep them alive awaiting payment, sell them into slavery of kill them. Notably, however, if the killer and the victim were kin, the victim was protected from execution, as the crime of fingal or kin-slaying was prohibited regardless of the kin's honour or deeds. If the murderer was at large and the debts had not been paid, capital punishment was permitted; indeed, the victim's family was responsible to launch a blood fued, but often these fueds would become murderous affairs spanning generations if a member of the murderer's family was killed in place of the murderer.

The final section of Brehon law was kinship. The law recognised a number of degrees of kinship, and most notably the immediate family (descendants of a common father) were not thought to be particularly special (except among royalty); much better respected boundaries were the descendants of common grandfathers, great-grandfathers and great-great-grandfathers - indeed, the derbfine, or descendants of common great-grandfathers, are the most commonly referenced kin-group in the law. One member of the kin was its head, who was responsible for all members of the group and had to ensure all debts were paid; he was also responsible for unmarried women after the deaths of their fathers. To a certain extent, the derbfine operated as a single legal unit - it was this group that was responsible for paying an injurer's or a murderer's debts, and that could be targeted in a blood fued if a murderer was at large.

The main concern of the texts on kinship is inheritance. In early Irish law, all land was split equally between sons upon a father's death - whether legitimate or illegitimate (although 'disobedient' sons could be excluded from the inheritance). Later, the method of dividing the land becomes unclear. In some cases it seemed that the youngest son was responsible for deciding the division of land, and then the portions were chosen from eldest to youngest; ensuring that it was in the divider's interest to try to be as fair as possible. In other accounts it seems that the eldest son both divided and chose first, but that younger sons could challenge the division. Finally, some lords decided upon the division of their lands prior to their deaths, and as long as all obedient sons were provided for, this division was honoured in the inheritance. Notably, it was required that any land-holders that adopted a son stipulated precisely what land went to that son prior to his death; the splitting of the rest of the land was only for his biological descendants.

BrehonLawDocument.JPG

Page from Brehon law document

The arrival of Christianity brought many changes to Brehon law, and such alterations were almost uniformly disliked, seeing as they tended to reduce the rights of women, poets, lesser kings, second sons and even the legal protection an accused's derbfine gave him in court. As such, there was strong resistance to any change that moved the laws of Ireland away from traditional Brehon law and more in line with European law; although, ultimately, the Christianisation of Ireland would strip the druids and pagan Brehons of their power and erode the old laws, principles of Brehon law were still used as justification for many conflicts on the island from the twelfth century on. In particular, a briefing on Brehon law helps to immediately illuminate the unrest in Leinster in the 1080s, when Duke Murchad began consolidating his power to bring his duchy in line with eastern examples, and the huge resistance he faced from, among others, Earl Máel-Sechnaill of Kildare ...


--

This started as a quick flavoursome intro to the next chapter, to explain some in-character actions, but then it started getting long and I figured it deserved its own post.
 
Last edited:

Dovahkiing

Watcher on the Walls
16 Badges
Jan 22, 2012
1.176
2
  • Arsenal of Democracy
  • Crusader Kings II
  • Crusader Kings II: Legacy of Rome
  • Crusader Kings II: The Old Gods
  • Crusader Kings II: The Republic
  • Crusader Kings II: Sons of Abraham
  • Crusader Kings II: Sword of Islam
  • Europa Universalis III: Chronicles
  • Europa Universalis IV
  • For The Glory
  • Victoria: Revolutions
  • Rome Gold
  • Victoria 2: A House Divided
  • Victoria 2
  • 500k Club
  • Hearts of Iron IV Sign-up
I love it when an AuthAAR makes a lengthy flavorful digression, maybe because I'm too lazy to do some in my own AARs. Awaiting the next chapter, and also, when you said 'the unrest in Leinster in the 1180s', am I correct in believing you meant the 1080s?