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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Asantahene

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Flower of Scotland- An Old Gods DLC

Ed: this game is playing TOG on Vanilla starting as Scotland from the beginning though the story itself commences some 180 years later. I am really enjoying CKII-1st time I've played it but not the 1st AAR that I have written: I have written many in many different genres-Space (Galactic Civilisations), Football Management (Football Manager) and for my Total War Games. I love it and generally people have liked my stories.

I have decided to launch it a couple of hundred years in as I now feel that I have the hang of the game. I am playing normal difficulty and will not reload from here on in. My dynasty: the Mac Ailpins have managed to see off the Viking threat and pretty much unified all 3 Celtic Kingdoms of Scotland, Ireland and Wales: there have been some twists and turns of late and so enjoy...

1 last thing-if you are enjoying this please let me know-there is nothing more lonely than writing for people and not receiving any feedback (good or bad)

Thanks


Table of Contents​

Chapter 1: Forres, Scotland, October 1053: Reign of King Malmure The Unready
Chapter 2: Forres, Scotland, August 1064: Reign of King Malmure The Unready
Chapter 3: Wiki Entry: Malmure I King of Scots
Chapter 4: Scone, Scotland, January 1097: Reign of Queen Fenella I
Chapter 5: Friesland, Low Countries, April 1097: Reign of King Richard I
Chapter 6: Dumbarton, Scotland, February 1124: Reign of King Richard I
Chapter 7: Rhuddalt, Wales, October 1124: Reign of King Laurence I
Chapter 8: Roscommon, Connacht, Ireland, September 1126: Reign of King Laurence I
Chapter 9: Scone, Gowrie, November 1141: Reign of King Laurence I
Chapter 10: Glasgow, Strathclyde, March 2014: Lecture on the Reign of King Laurence the Blessed
Chapter 11: Scone, Gowrie, June 1161: Reign of King Ewan I
Chapter 12: Poznan, Poland, May 1162: Reign of King Ewan I
Chapter 13: Essay Treatise: King Ewan The Great 1117-1192
Chapter 14: Scone, Gowrie, January 1198: Reign of King Macbeth I
Chapter 15: Scone, Gowrie, September 1215: Reign of King Uhtred I
Chapter 16: 1. The Red Dragon and the White Lion rise (Gwynedd and Leinster’s uprisings) 1222-1225. Reign of King Uhtred I
Chapter 17: The Nephews Revolt (Munster and Macbeth of the Isles's uprisings) 1227-1234. Reign of King Uhtred I
Chapter 18: Bamburgh, Northumberland, January 1236: Reign of King Farquhar I
Chapter 19: Bath, England, January 1244: Reign of King Farquhar I
Chapter 20: Inverinan, Argyll, September 1269: Reign of King Farquhar I
State of the Nations February 1272: Reign of King Farquhar I
Chapter 21: Abingdon, Oxfordshire, September 1278: Reign of King Farquhar I
Chapter 22: Dunragit, Galloway, April 1280: Reign of King Donal II



I. Stronghold of Forres, Ducal Seat of the Scottish Dukes of Moray

October 1063






There were few occasions when the old man, his grandfather, scared the twelve year old boy but his throwaway comment was just one of them.

‘You must never say that again in my presence boy!’ He thundered his wizened face growing a mottled shade of red- ‘NEVER! Do you hear?’

The boy cast his eyes downwards-a tactic that he had learned much benefited him whenever his father used to admonish him. He missed his Lord and master-dead these past few years…of his mother he had little memory-she had passed of a fever when he was still a babe.

‘Yes grandfather-I just thought-‘

Don’t think boy!’ Another outburst-his tactic was not working. The boy cast his eyes towards the massive oaken doors of the great hall, wishing that he were outside, maybe on the ramparts, marvelling at the fury of the seas in the October storm. Servants and scullions hastened about their business, not wishing to draw any unwelcome attention to themselves. The child may be the nominal Lord and Master but it was his Grandfather, Eadulf of Buckingham, widower of the old Duchess, Dervorgilla, who really reigned. The old man, once a fearsome Anglo Saxon warrior, was in his dotage now, but every so often his ire, or some passion, would remind all of his mettlesome past. His anger caused him to revert to his native Saxon tongue and a stream of expletives issued forth followed by a blow to the back of the lad’s head.

Richard, Duke of Moray, Earl of Caithness and Moray was, nevertheless, a child and as such he could be schooled by his elders and betters. It had been an innocuous comment about being pleased to hold two Earldoms and a Dukedom that had roused the wrath of his grandfather. He knew that his forebears had been mighty kings and queens and that somewhere in the past his particular branch of the Mac Ailpin clan had contrived to lose not one but three kingdoms, those of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

The old man grabbed Richard by the chin-a vice-like iron grip of a man who used to easily handle a broadsword and spear, ‘your grandam, my beloved wife would cast you down lad to hear you speak thus-you hear?’

‘Yes Sire’ tears had come unbidden to his face now-he knew that to cry was woman’s work but he could not help it-it was as much as he could do to stop himself from breaking down altogether but he knew that such a reaction would earn him a beating so he tried as best he could to compose himself. Yes he knew that his grandmother-‘she who should have been Queen’ had strove all her life to restore the throne to her side of the family. She no doubt remembered greater splendour when she was a child, being the granddaughter of a great King, Kenneth III, deposed by his enemies at the height of his powers and who, at the time had been overlord of all Scotland, Wales and nearly all of Ireland. Earlier conquests of his sires had united the Celtic speaking peoples of those rugged countries under a common hegemony, principally that of Dervorgilla’s great great grandmother Bethoc ‘the Great’ who had finally seen off the threat of the Norsemen, subjugated the Welsh and begun the task of bringing the unruly Irish to heel.

‘As easily as you may rise boy so may you fall,’ Eadulf intoned, calmer now as if reading his thoughts. ‘Go! Leave me-I grow weary.’ Richard needed no second bidding and bolted for the dubious ‘safety’ of the gathering storm outside.

It was huddled on the rampart that he was found by Moray’s Steward, knees clutched to his chest, his pretty oval face wet with rain and tears. Prince David-his uncle and son of Scotland’s ruling monarch looked down at the ragged pile, at first with bemusement and then with growing understanding. He had arrived fresh from a mission to extract tithes from the gentry in Caithness-an unpleasant mission but a necessary one nonetheless. He was honoured to be a member of Moray's Council and took his duties seriously.



‘Fie lad-what furies have driven you to tarry here?’ The Prince should have been heir to the Kingdom of Scotland and Ireland but whose loyalties to his wife, Richard’s Aunt and to Moray had so angered his father that he had been disinherited of the succession in favour of his younger sister. Always he had shown Richard much kindness, whether it was helping school him in the brutal art of war, or telling tales of derring-do and valour he always had an encouraging word or a twinkle in his eye for his nephew.

The boy lowered his head between his knees and just sobbed. Without a word the Prince stooped down and in one swift and fluid movement, picked Richard up and carried him inside. Majestic and terrible though the storm was to witness, it was no place for children, who were particularly susceptible to all manner of agues and ailments.

As they re-entered the Great Hall David commanded the main fire to be piled high and unceremoniously dumped the lad onto a pile of straw and rushes.

‘Bring me blankets and a cloak!’ he shouted to no one in particular. The called-for items appeared in a trice. ‘Strip lad! You must get warm-we would not want the mighty duke to catch his death of cold would we?’

When he was warmer and calmer Richard at last spoke, telling his kinsman of what had befallen earlier. He had noted the old man was no longer in the Hall when he had been carried in-mayhap he had taken early to his bed. Hopefully…

For his part the Prince listened quietly and then reminded the lad that his own father, the reigning King of Scots, sometimes called ‘Malmure The Unready’ in ironic reference to his presiding over the struggle to reunite Scotland and Ireland after the Kingdoms had split half a century earlier, was also Richard’s grandfather and that the young Duke was one of the strongest claimants to the throne-in fact he had a better claim to it, to be frank, than the King himself. David had no particular love for Eadulf-he saw him as a coarse foreigner who more often than not mangled his beloved Celtic tongue but in one thing he had been right: Richard should never stop striving to attain what was his by right: overlordship of all three Celtic Kingdoms.

‘And you had better move fast when you attain manhood my boy for the King of England casts covetous eyes both northwards and Westwards-particularly to Wales, which is no longer held by us Mac Ailpins.’ Aye Richard knew that when the Kingdoms had split in what his Irish brethren liked to call the siosma iontach, the Welsh had risen up under one of their petty Lords and cast off Scottish dominion. Giselbert 'The Good', King of populous England had long talked of bringing the Welsh to heel and had recently conquered Powys under some trumped up claim. David ruffled the boys hair and let out one of his customary brays of laughter, a trait which endeared him to both peasants and nobility alike, and had many in the Hall smiling as it echoed across the hall.

‘I know what will cheer you up son’ (oh how he wished that he was his father…) he said, eyes glittering with mischief, ‘but the hourglass says that it will soon be dark and time for your bed. I will go fetch your little brother.’

At this Richard’s eyes lit up for he doted on his brother Robert, his heir and truest friend, contrary to all the custom of the time. Because they were so close in age, just one year separated them, they were more like twins than brothers. Yes that would brighten his gloomy day that had taken on a hue much like the skies outside-there was one thing, though, that would remain with him: he would indeed do all he could to regain what was his by right-he, or his issue, would once more rule the three kingdoms…

 

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Asantahene

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Quick question guys-how do I stop my screenies being thumbnails? Have tried to post direct from computer and via Imageshack (using 'direct' URL)...no joy :mad:
 

frostwolf846

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A very good start, however I do suggest you use a third party image hosting site to post your images so that they are clearer and larger. In my humble opinion images play a large role in any AAR.

Edit
Do not use direct but rather the BB code one. (for forum usage)

Edit2

For image shack its the third link down called forum :)
 

Asantahene

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Thanks Frost but the 'Forum' code doesn't seem to want to work-not when I paste it into the image link on here anyway

The Direct one works but then the pic is not as big as it needs to be when I actually post-help!
 
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Asantahene

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Think I've sorted it re the Screenshots

Let me know any feedback guys-love to have it if constructive-we can all learn :)
 

Asantahene

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2. Great Council Hall, Forres

5th August 1064


‘QUIET YOU DOGS! I RULE HERE!’ Shouted Eadulf above the uproar even as the Ducal Chaplain struggled to make himself heard,

‘My Lords are surely agreed that now is not the time to bind ourselves to the House of Reginar-those Saxon upstarts, when we would seek closer ties with our own House or the Welsh!’ The smooth tongued cleric, Alan de Dunragit, intoned.

‘AGREED!’ Bellowed the Lord Marshall, David de St Macher-a gruff taciturn soldier whose beard generally matched his terrifying appearance.

‘I think we are all in agreement Eadulf’ Prince David now spoke, coolness personified, yet the pulsing vein on his brow betrayed his own anger: a marriage to one of the young Duke’s cousins, one of his nieces would surely bind him closer to the King and thus to the throne-what was this madcap plan that the old man was trying to foist on them?

The Council of Moray consisted of five of the greatest and the best that the Duchy had to offer and at this moment four were adamantly opposed to the proposed betrothal to the ruling house of Saxon England. Whilst the argument raged no one seemed to notice Richard himself, seated at the head of the great oak table and only recently allowed to attend. His words when they came were so soft that the Chancellor, Duncan ‘the Red’ of Whithorn carried on speaking.



It was the steady tapping of the hilt of his dagger on wood that finally gave them all pause and all eyes swivelled towards Richard.

Clearly and calmly he spoke: ‘When my Lord Eadulf said he rules here what he really meant was I am the one who rules.’

At this Eadulf started to bluster but Richard cut him off ‘No my Lord-I would speak!’ An indrawn breath, ‘I know that I am not yet of age to make my own decisions but that time is little more than a year from hence. You would all do well to remember that…’

‘We are listening your Grace’ this from his steadfast ally the Prince. At his seat old Eadulf glowered.

‘It is a good match in truth my lords. Think on it-as things stand my reckoning with the King is lower than an alehouse rat. He will not consent to any marriage with his offspring with or without my friend the Prince’s help.’ He had them all listening now-they were rapt. ‘No we must look to the future. This Princess Ælf…Ælfflaed’ he struggled to pronounce the strange Saxon name ‘is the eldest daughter of the next in line to the English throne. I may be young but only a fool would fail to see the opportunities that lie therein.’

He looked around for his words to sink in. ‘I consent to this match.’ And with those final words he left.

As soon as the plaid-clad guards shut the massive oaken doors behind him and banged their spears against their shields in salute to the departing Duke the tumult re-commenced.

‘Addled I say!’ Shouted the Marshall.

‘This must not stand! From the Chancellor ‘Eadulf you must overrule him!’

‘Quiet! QUIET!’ David shouted above the growing hubbub-for once Eadulf was silent, expectant, waiting for the attack on his character he knew must surely come from this man who called him enemy...or worse.

‘If this is what the Duke wants then we must not stand in his way. There I have said my piece. Servant-bring some mead-there are hot heads in here that need cooling.’

‘You’ve changed your tune!’ Alan flung at him ‘what craven-headedness is this? Or do you spy some opportunity in this?’

‘It is neither craven-headedness nor opportunism my Lord Bishop-think about what young Richard said-he will be absolute master in just over a year-you...we would all be wise to heed that.’

Eadulf smiled to himself. This had been his masterwork, using his own Saxon connections to England to make his suit on the young Duke’s behalf-the old King and his son, once persuaded that Richard’s ambitions stretched far beyond the De Jure borders of the Duchy of Moray, were enthusiastic in their agreement to the match.



Once the rest of the Council members had departed Eadulf and his antagonist sat in quiet contemplation.

It was the old Saxon who broke the silence ‘I will not be around for much longer Highness. The Duke needs hard heads to offset that natural kindness and honesty of his.’

‘I know it Eadulf-in truth I have never really liked you but you have only ever been a steadfast promoter of his rights and his claim upon the throne. What is it that you want of me?’

The older man appraised the younger, this playboy Prince, this laughing braggart who embodied so much of what he despised about the coarse, rough land that was Scotland, was nonetheless his best hope.

‘The Duke will not get to be King on his own merits and nor will his wife particularly aid him for whilst she is ambitious and humble, those qualities are matched by her love of indolence-no she is but a stepping stone. I am far more interested in how close she stands to the English throne than in the girl herself.’



David listened patiently-Eadulf was a more than adequate schemer,

‘No, when the time comes you will need to take the hard decisions where the Duke is concerned, to smooth the path to the crown.’

‘And what decisions might those be my Lord?’ The Prince asked smoothly his smile curling downwards in distaste.

Eadulf, however, was not about to be explicit but both knew that, should it come to it, nothing would be ruled out whether it be intrigue or murder.

‘I will do what I must my Lord’

Eadulf smiled and clasped David by the forearm to seal their agreement.

‘Excellent my Lord Prince-I give you good day.’

And alone with his thoughts Prince David of Scotland, Mayor of Inverness and esteemed Steward of Moray, knew that he would indeed stop at nothing to see his young charge on the throne…even if it meant seeing off the still unborn offspring of his own sisters…
 

frostwolf846

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It is very well written and the dialog between the characters is fluid. This is why I have nominated you for Character writer of the week. Go check out the thread and read the rules for the next nomination.

Congratulations and keep up the good work.
 

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An excellent start to an AAR! I'm looking forward to seeing you continue!
 

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Amazing-thanks so much guys-there is so much yet to be written: many twists and turns. watch this space...
 

Asantahene

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Malmure I ‘The Unready’ Mac Ailpin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia



Malmure Mac Ailpin (modern Gaelic: Maolmoire mac Ailpein) known in most regnal lists as Malmure I (May 1008-February 1092), was King of Scots and King of Ireland for the better part of the 11th Century and is to this date the longest living Scottish monarch dying at the princely old age of 84 after a 52 year reign. Malmure I is sometimes known by his epithet ‘The Unready’ a title somewhat unfairly attributed to him for his role in presiding over the breakaway of the Kingdoms of Ireland and Wales from Scottish hegemony-a process that had actually started in the great Celtic schism (siosma iontach) during the reign of his father, King Donal I ‘The Careless’. Nevertheless in the first few years of his reign Malmure worked tirelessly to regain these kingdoms which in the case of Ireland was easier since his father was created King of Ireland when the Kingdoms split. This was not possible, however, in the case of Wales which seceded under the House of Morgannwg.

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Early Reign

Malmure ascended to be King of Scots on his father’s death in June 1040. He was the grandson of Kenneth III who had been deposed after excommunication by the Pope for his ‘excessive warlike-ness’ in subduing his fellow Christians in Ireland. Kenneth’s son Malcolm I had briefly ruled before himself being deposed and ceding the throne to his forebears. All this instability led to the great Celtic Schism with all three Celtic Kingdoms breaking apart. Initially Scotland was ruled by the immediate descendants of Malcolm I i.e. his youngest daughter Forflissa but her short reign was a disaster paving the way for usurpation of her title by the reigning King of Ireland, Donal I. On Donal’s death It was not for another year after he became King of Scots that a compact was made with the Lords of Ireland such that Malmure was also crowned as King of Ireland. At that time both Kingdoms used an Absolute-Cognatic Elective Monarchy with only Dukes of both Kingdoms having one vote apiece. The ancient Tanist system that had been favoured by Scotland was dispensed with during the reign of Kenneth II 'The Just', most probably because it gave the ruling monarch more control over the election of their favoured offspring or relative.

Malmure’s first wife was Fenella Mac Giric of Connaught. Theirs was a productive union that sired the King no less than six children, two of whom went onto become monarchs (Fenella Queen of Scots and Ireland and Queen Joan of Lotharingia. Fenella died relatively young at only 39 and the lusty king was not long in marrying a lowbown commoner who history only records as Mascarose. When she died and he was in his dotage the King married for a last time a courtier called Melisande who bore him one more child, Princess Helen of Scotland.

Throughout the long period of his reign Malmure adopted what chronicles describe as a trident policy of keeping the English at bay, recovering the Isles and pressing Scottish claims in Wales. It is of interest to historians that even at the height of his powers he never made a concerted attempt to reconquer the Welsh and emulate his forebears. The Isles, however, were brought back under Scottish rule by 1072 after several successive wars of conquest there.

Scone

After ten years and with both the Irish and Scots lords quiescent Malmure made the bold move, in 1050, to transfer his capitol from Connaught in Ireland to Scone, co-locating the Royal Palace with an ancient and holy Abbey and starting the tradition of having Kings of Scots crowned on the sandstone ‘Stone of Destiny’. This tradition was to last for many hundreds of years and current Kings and Queens of England and Scotland are still crowned on this.



Children and succession

What is of interest about Malmure’s reign is his relationship with his son, David of Moray. At some point he effectively disinherited him, though he was the second born and therefore a good bet to be elected by his father to succeed. What actually happened was that records indicate that he was removed from the running not long after taking over his duties as Steward of his nephew, the young Duke of Moray, Richard Mac Ailpin, Malmure’s grandson through his firstborn daughter Gruoch (who died giving birth to Richard’s younger brother Robert Mac Ailpin-later 3rd Duke of Connaught). Prince David’s younger sister Galiena was proposed as heir until her untimely death in 1062, at which point it passed to another younger sister, Fenella (later Queen of Scots and Ireland). What Prince David made of all this is unclear but what cannot be doubted is the unstinting and loyal service that he provided the rival side of his family, the Duke of Moray.

Issues with the Dukedom of Moray

Throughout his reign Malmure, it is said, was always paranoid about the part of his family that descended directly from Malcolm I as some had argued that, as first born, their claim was stronger than that of Malmure who was the issue of the second born. This is often cited as the reason for David’s disfavour and also for the King’s relentless efforts to limit the foremost Duke in his realm, his own grandson Duke Richard of Moray. He even repeatedly inserted himself into the elective laws for inheritance of the Dukedom along with its vassal holdings of the Earldoms of Moray and Caithness. These attempts were all, in the end, unsuccessful and upon his death Duke Richard actually stood even closer to the throne than ever due to Malmure’s heir, Fenella, only having one child, Morgan of Connaught who died in suspicious circumstances only a few months after the old King on 23rd November 1092.



There has been much speculation by academics on who might have been responsible but whatever Duke Richard of Moray’s much vaunted honesty of character and ‘Christian goodness’ there is no doubt who stood to gain most from the young Prince’s demise.

Death and posterity

Maolmoire died a natural death in his bed at Scone Palace, the place from where he had ruled for forty two of his fifty two year reign. Marianus Scotus gives the date as 14 September 1092. He is described in the King’s Lists as ‘the most glorious’ of Kings. The fact that he had reigned for so long and bequeathed his heir two strong and united Celtic Kingdoms speaks volumes for his stewardship of the realm and far from earning the epithet ‘The Unready’ his reign can be seen in hindsight as a great success. The only shadow for him would be to see that his immediate heirs continued to reign but with Queen Fenella childless this paved the way for other branches of the Mac Ailpin clan to make their bids to rule.



Depictions in Fiction

• Malmure is depicted as one of the two main protagonists in the novel The Unready (1994) by the Scottish bestselling author Nigel Tranter. The other protagonist is his nemesis, his grandson, Duke Richard of Moray.
• Malmure features in the Hollywood film Kings of Alba (2007). He was played by Colin Farrell. The film covers the tumultuous period covering the great Celtic Schism. The film was nominated for no less than 7 Academy Awards and is widely credited with reawakening the world’s love of Celtic history in much the same way as the film Braveheart had done a decade before.
 
Last edited:

unc15

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Being of the Gaelic persuasion myself, I love a good Celtic AAR. Subscribed.

One question: whats the culture of England? Or who unfied it? Reginar isn't Norse or Saxon name.
 

Asantahene

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Being of the Gaelic persuasion myself, I love a good Celtic AAR. Subscribed.

One question: whats the culture of England? Or who unfied it? Reginar isn't Norse or Saxon name.
Hey Unc15. They ARE Saxons interestingly but would have come from Mercia which was the petty Kingdom that eventually came to unify the kingdom. That's probably why you don't recognise the name. For some reason they have left Cornwall alone and Devon is owned by the Welsh. They have nibbled into Wales and own Powys though. I'll try and put a map up as soon as I can. Thanks for the support :happy:
 

Idhrendur

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A wiki-style history-book update? Interesting. I've never seen that before. But it seemed to work rather well.
 

Asantahene

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A wiki-style history-book update? Interesting. I've never seen that before. But it seemed to work rather well.
Haha-thanks Idhrendur (faux Tolkien-esq profile name?). I needed to condense quite a few years quickly and this seemed like the best way to do it. I am going to keep the storytelling style varied and fresh to keep you readers on your toes :p
 

Idhrendur

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Haha-thanks Idhrendur (faux Tolkien-esq profile name?). I needed to condense quite a few years quickly and this seemed like the best way to do it. I am going to keep the storytelling style varied and fresh to keep you readers on your toes :p
Good eye! Word parts from the appropriate appendix to the Silmarillion made into a name. I only learned years later it's a mash of Sindarin and Quenya. Oops.

And I like diversity of writing style!
 

Asantahene

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Thank you my good man! Will try and post again in next few days
 

unc15

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Hey Unc15. They ARE Saxons interestingly but would have come from Mercia which was the petty Kingdom that eventually came to unify the kingdom. That's probably why you don't recognise the name. For some reason they have left Cornwall alone and Devon is owned by the Welsh. They have nibbled into Wales and own Powys though. I'll try and put a map up as soon as I can. Thanks for the support :happy:
Looking forward to it! I only asked because Reginar is a Flemish dynasty haha, though using the term Flemish might be anachronistic for their time period. So..Frankish? Either way, I always love seeing England form in an 867 start. One question: Are you a city or united fan?
 

mike the knight

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This is a truly amazing story! I like your style and I can not wait whhat is ahead of our young Duke....
 

Asantahene

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@Unc15: good spot! I had another proper look at the Reginar family tree and at some point about 100 years previously these Franks did indeed inveigle their way into the Mercian royal family so whilst they are Anglo Saxon now their origins are indeed Frankish.

Re the football: cough! Splutter! I'm a Gooner lol (I hie from London originally):rofl:

@Mike the Knight: thanks so much! Believe you me there are some great twists and turns of fortune in the offing. I'm looking forward to getting them written up so I can return to playing the game proper haha :)
 

Asantahene

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3. Scone Palace, Gowrie

12th January 1097




A wintry blizzard might have been blowing in the spacious grounds outside the palace but inside there was little sign of it as the doors had been sealed tight shut-the Palace Guards unlucky enough to be on watch wrapped tightly in plaid and lambswool. Many fires within were kept blazing high, the heat contending with the icy chill and winning this little war of the elements. This was all right and as it should be for the Queen had summonsed her greatest Lords from all over the two Realms to lend her their counsel in the ‘puissant matter of the affaires of England’. In December 1186 the relatively stable reign of the House of Reginar came to an abrupt end upon the death of King Ecgfrith II whose title ‘The Careless’ was most aptly given since his only male heir was a little boy of a mere six year’s standing. The next decade was rightly termed a time of bleak civil war as various grasping factions, from within and without the royal family, vied with each other to control the young King. All the while Scotland and Ireland watched and waited. It had been lost on no one that the boy King’s sister, Ælfflæd, was none other than the consort of the premier Duke of Scotland, the Queen’s most valued friend and confidante, Duke Richard of Moray.

Even after the boy had been murdered on the orders of his Guardian The Duke of Mercia and a rival branch of the family, under the House of Saxony, ushered in, the bloodletting had continued unabated as brother turned upon brother in what chroniclers have recorded as a time ‘when Christ and his Saints slept’. By the summer of 1096 there had been many delegations of nobles from the north of England and further afield imploring the Queen to intercede-indeed there had been many on her Council who had argued similarly. What if the unrest spread north of the border her Chancellor had cried hysterically in one Council meeting last autumn?

‘Then our levies will crush any uprising as they have all previous ones My Lord Chancellor.’ The queen had replied, unbowed. She had ruled in her own right for almost five years but still her nobles often forgot themselves, talked down to her as if she was some ingénue. It was tiresome but she always firmly reminded them that she was, in every respect, her father’s daughter. No she had already, with the unstinting support of Richard of Moray, crushed two wars of independence in Ireland and one vassal revolt in Scotland. She had mistrusted the Duke at first, particularly after the untimely death of her only heir, her beloved Morgan, in what were at best suspicious circumstances, at worst cold-blooded assassination. She remembered as if it were yesterday that November day five years ago, when, still half mad with grief, the object of her suspicions, none other than her nephew, arrived, mud spattered and unkempt from his pell-mell ride around the cairngorms. It had been a brave thing that he had done travelling, as he had done, to what might have been his death. He had earned the sobriquet ‘Richard the Honest’ in his time and his tear stained disavowal of any knowledge of any attempt to harm the Prince had melted through her bitterness and anger. One look at the anguish on his face told her all she needed to know. She had dismissed him then, peremptorily ordered back from whence he came, but it was with her blessing.



Back in the Palace’s Great Hall all had now assembled and her paladin-Richard of Moray, had newly arrived, approached and gave obeisance along with his Saxon wife. Before they could retire, the Queen, resplendent in white ermine, an azure blue dress and golden crown raised a haughty hand to stay them,

‘Our Lords and Ladies we are sure that you will be keen to find out why our sovereign person has summoned you here in the dead of midwinter.’ An expectant hush settled over the hall. This Queen was loved and whenever she spoke she held the attention of all.

‘Certes it is not so that all of you can share in our post Christmastide leavings!’ At this laughter all round the hall. The Queen’s fluid and lilting Latin, the language of the nobility, though she was equally as adept in Gaelic, put all at their ease. She rose at the lightening of mood and hastened down the dais to Richard and Ælfflæd. She held out her two hands to the Duchess, who had dressed almost as magnificently as the Queen, radiant in the Cyan and Gold of the Duchy of Moray. Thus speaking to the assembled throng but looking directly into her friend’s eyes she spoke loudly and clearly,

‘When your young brother, King Eadweald, was most foully murdered by his uncle and the realm of England continued to tear itself apart in internecine strife I promised you then redress Ælfflæd did I not?’

‘You did my Queen’ The Duchess’s striking hazel eyes held the icy blue ones of her Sovereign.

‘Well we have not forgotten our promise. Your cousin Beornwulf of Saxony does rule but only because he has these months past deposed his own brother and had him foully put to death.’

There was a collective gasp from the court at this. All knew that the Queen had issued an ultimatum to the warring factions in England to ‘settle to quiete for the goode of all the realms’ or Scotland and Ireland might have to make the peace. Beornwulf’s actions were a stinging rebuke that demanded action.

‘We have determined, in conjunction with the wise advisements of our Privy Councillors, that we can no longer stand idly by whilst England is rent asunder by a pack of wolves. We find that your claim to the throne is just and we will thereby raise our levies and call the clans in the furtherance of said claim.’

‘Madam I-I am lost for words’. This from the Duchess who sank to her knees in gratitude. Many days she had discussed with her husband whether there could ever be an English Queen ruling in England in her own right. Their customs were so different than here in Scotland-in England all went to the eldest surviving male heir. Women were nigh on invisible. She had learned early on that the Celts were different. They did value women of high standing and courage. There had been a Queen not two hundred years previously, Bethoc The Great of Scotland who had set out to unite the Gaelic speaking Kingdoms and had well nigh succeeded.



‘Rise my lady-come walk with me’ and with all bowing low the Duke and Duchess of Moray trailed after their liege acknowledging the little nods and curtsies from this Lord and that Lady. They were high indeed in esteem.

Once away from the Courtiers and Magnates and with only her personal guard following the Queen dropped the grandeur and turned to embrace the Duchess

‘It is the best Epiphany Feast present that I can give you Ælfflæd’ she murmured. You are like a daughter to me. And you!’ She looked to the Duke, who, as was his wont, had been the very model of patience and watchful alertness during all these proceedings, ‘You my lord Duke will call your clans-or are you still complaining that you can only summon one thousand to your banners these days’ Her eyes glittered with wry amusement as she spoke.
For his part Richard smiled and responded in kind ‘slightly more Madam since you so successfully pressed my claim for Gwynedd to sit with my Earldom of Perfeddwlad in Wales. And with my treasury well stocked I can treble the numbers with Mercenaries.’

‘Ah yes my Lord-so you can. The whole power of Scotland and Ireland-yea even some of Wales will be raised for this great venture. Yet you have never failed to come to my aid when I have given you the call so this is my way of paying you in kind untimely though it may be.’

‘Untimely madam?’ Ælfflæd asked, puzzled.

At which the Queen burst into laughter as warm and hearty as it was perplexing, ‘Look at us-we are growing old! I was an old woman when I came to the throne thanks to the many years of my father’s reign-may God assoil him. And now my two favourites, my nephew and niece who I see as more like a son and daughter-you two are old too-maybe too old to be embarking on this venture.’

They had come to a stop in a solar of the east wing of the palace-the tall windows gave a panoramic view of the snowstorm that was descending outside. Richard clutched his sable trimmed cloak closer about him as the nearest fire was at some distance.

‘Nonetheless My Lady it is a venture that I would not swap for all the world-we thank you for your kindness.’

The Queen smiled at him suddenly looking every bit her advancing years ‘I jest of course Richard-you are not old-either of you-but I would nonetheless that as you move through your middle age that you take care. I would see you both as King and Queen of England.’

Such was the subtlety and cleverness of Queen Fenella of Scotland-her unerring ability to wait for the right moment before striking to her and her realms’ maximum advantage. By promoting her favourites she would at once quiet her populous and warlike southern neighbour and install a dynasty that favoured their Celtic cousins. Yes this was a good plan and now was the time to execute it.

‘I would leave you both now-my sixty odd years begin to weigh heavily on me-come where is my manservant?’ She accepted their obeisance and departed moving more sprightly than her avowals of advancing age would have anyone believe and calling for her manservant, a young man, who it was said, shared her bed. In truth though the zealot in Richard looked upon such cravings of the flesh with distaste he could not gainsay his Queen-she had never married-her son, Morgan, was the product of an illicit liaison. Maybe she felt it would be easier to rule that way: alone and unburdened, above all unchallenged. Mayhap also, Richard thought with a pang of remorse, this made it easier to accept the fact that people he had trusted had been responsible for the lad’s murder these years past. He quickly brushed the troublesome thought from his mind and turned to his wife appraising her as she settled into an embrasure-she did look magnificent, this Saxon Princess who had been his companion these past thirty three years. She, for her part, had loved him without reserve or condition and stuck with him even in spite of his own many indiscretions and dalliances-it was expected of the menfolk in these times was it not? She had borne him five proud and beautiful daughters, the eldest of whom, Bethoc, was their heir. It was not inconceivable that, one day, she would rule England alongside her husband Ealdmund, Duke of Lancaster. Their other offspring had been found good matches with Kings and Princes in Europe-they were not lacking in powerful blood ties or alliances. If there had ever been any disappointment that there were no sons he did not show it. Of course his siring of a bastard boy with his brother, Robert’s wife, Princess Lowry had been an untold secret and one that made his toes curl with shame.



The boy, Laurence, was accepted without question by his brother with whom he was once so close but who lately had used his title as Duke of Connaught, an honour and prestige that he had bestowed upon him, to press his own claim to the Kingdom of Ireland-not something the Queen had been pleased with in the slightest. The fractious Irish Lords were a handful at the best of times but all had seemingly got behind the idea of Richard inheriting the Kingdom from his Queen. He was also de-facto heir to the Kingdom of Scotland having with his loyalty and adoration won over Fenella Queen of Scots and Ireland. For his own brother to now be stirring up Irish resentments and long forgotten grudges hurt him more than he would admit. There was going to have to be a reckoning there, either with himself or with the Queen, of that he had no doubt.

‘I can read your mind my Lord’ she said a flicker of a smile creasing her features. She was still beautiful in spite of her years-could still make his pulse quicken with desire.

‘Oh indeed My Duchess-and what is it that I think on prithee?’ He answered eyes twinkling-it was a game they had played so many times before.

‘How you will miss me when you are gone campaigning on my behalf-do not deny’

She was right of course-he would miss her, though on this occasion she was wide of the mark with her attempts at soothsaying. But there were at least two months of preparation and victualing, commissioning of the arrays and the calling of the clans before any armies would march south. January was no time for campaigning, as any man would tell you, but of one thing they were both sure: Scotland and Ireland was going to war and the prize was none other than the glittering jewel that was the mighty realm of England…

Afterword [Taken from the Chronicler Marianus Scotus]:

The war against the English lasted five long years for even with all the levies of Scotland and Ireland combined and the English weakened by years of internal division, the Gaelic power was only on a par with that of multitudinous England, even fractured as it was. Many of the greatest magnates in the land, chief amongst them the Duke of Lancaster, whose wife’s claim to the throne was being pressed, sided with the Celts.

In the spring of 1097, marching swiftly down from their mustering point in Lothian, one Scottish army under the command of Duke Richard of Moray joined forces with the levies of his son in law, Duke Ealdmund of Lancaster and at Mitford near the Northeast coast they brought to bay a large force commanded by the Duke of Mercia that was hurrying south to join with the royal armies mustering near Northampton. Moray commanding the centre with Lancaster the van and the Earl of Athol the rear, the combined Anglo-Scottish array fell upon the disorganised English whilst they were still in line of march. The result was a bloody rout-many English nobles were killed or captured in this first major engagement of the war.



King Beornwulf’s defence was greatly assisted early in 1100, by his bribing the Dukes of Meath and Lothian to rise up in revolt against their Liege. No doubt promises of additional holdings and the honeyed words of this most treacherous of kings were ringing in their ears. It was a serious rebellion nonetheless and for a while all hung in the balance. Certainly early gains made by Richard of Moray and his chief lieutenants in the Northeast of England were abandoned as the Scots Levies marched back northwards to counter this new threat. It is estimated that the uprising cost the Scots almost two years.

It was time that Beornwulf used to try and contain his own Civil War and prepare again for a further invasion. By the time it came England was not quiescent mainly due to the herculean efforts of the Duke of Lancaster in harrying and harassing the North of England, constantly keeping any English Forces mustered on the back foot and maintaining the damaging impression that the King was not in control of his realm-as indeed he was not.

By October 1101 and with her Kingdoms once more unified Fenella once more threw her armies at unquiet England. The larger Army of some seven thousand, once more under Moray, was despatched South-eastwards towards Darlington and York to reconquer the sizeable Duchy of Northumberland. A smaller force was despatched under the auspices of the Duke of Connaught, Robert Mac Ailpin, Moray’s brother to join up with the men of Gwynedd and then deal with the rump of the English Army besieging a small Scots garrison at Chester.



On hearing of the approach of Connaught the English Army retired southwards towards the Welsh marches but they had not reckoned on the speed of approach of the Scottish Duke and were brought to battle near the town of Shrewsbury. Again the two armies were evenly matched but it was the superior battle tactics of Connaught and what has been described as the ‘superiore martiale valoure’ of the Scots that won the day. The battle hinged on the turning of the English left flank by the Earl of Atholl, commanding the Scots van. With their flank gone panic set in and a rout and massacre ensued. Amongst the English dead, the Dukes of Mercia and Kent as well as the Earls of Oxford, Wessex and Somerset. It was a grievous blow from which there could be no recovery.

With the main English resistance defeated and with an Irish force under the Duke of Ulster sailing to Man to subdue an unruly army that was supporting the English there, all that was left was for the remaining English towns and strongholds resisting to be sieged and sacked-a process that took a further nine months. Beornwulf’s surrender was eventually taken outside the gates of the city of Oxford in late July 1102.



And so it was, in August of that same year that a Saxon Princess came home to be crowned Queen, her admiring Scots husband at her side. But as the adoring masses cried ‘Long Live Queen Ælfflæd! Long Live King Richard’ trouble was already brewing in their capital. England had been tamed but would not be quiet for long….


 
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