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TheButterflyComposer

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[My first AAR. East Anglia, 867AD start. Ironman on.]
The Empire of Albion



Preface (and a note from the publisher)

There is a certain unease with which historians of today approach the past. Ironic, you might think yes? But it is true. For far too long the study and recording of history (historiography, the history of history you might say) has been mired by extraordinary inaccuracies, complex creations of propaganda and downright fanciful fabrications imposed on works either by historians of the past or their patrons.

Not that I believe my own work will be devoid of bias and personal emphasis. The nature of humanity does not befit a good neutral voice after all. However, being aware of that fact gives both the author and the reader fair warning of what lies ahead.

With that said, let us dive into a most interesting topic, one that has launched a thousand ships of debate in academia. So much of world history is tied into the story of Albion that almost everyone interested in history must inevitably come to study this particular empire. Beyond that, economic, social, cultural, religious, technological and…well you get the idea. Ignoring Albion is like ignoring Rome (not as bad as ignoring China perhaps but pretty close). Yet it is also easy to focus too heavily, as to be honest, historiography in general does tend to be biased towards the Anglosphere.

That is true but since we are going to be looking at why that is, as well as giving a general overview of all the topics mentioned above, I think we are safe to continue. These articles after all, are meant to inspire as well as inform. Let us start therefore with the origins of the Empire of Albion, which began centuries before its founding in a small corner of a very small island…

-Dr G. Monmouth, Christ Church, Oxford, 1985​

Here we stand over thirty years later and yet Monmouth’s work remains the definitive introduction to Albion’s history. From excerpts read in school to the national archives and everywhere in-between, the series of articles and essays by the now Sir Geoffrey continue to inspire new generations of historians and researchers alike. It is therefore with great pleasure that we bring the work to the internet in style; with the articles on the monarchs of the Empire incoming first (more shall come if interest is high!). It is hoped that this initiative shall encourage spirited debate online with perhaps even a few words from the author himself.

Please, enjoy!

Table of Contents

*dates shown are periods covered in articles, NOT the length of individual reigns!

PART I: The Rise of Camelot

The Medieval World, 1000AD

PART II: The Classical Empire

Triumph and Tragedy: The Invasion of Brittany, 996 - 1003AD
Triumph and Tragedy: War with France, 1003 -1005AD

Triumph and Tragedy: Lancelot the Great? 1005 - 1014AD
-
Galahad the Reformer, 1014 - 1018AD
Galahad the Crusader King, 1018 - 1019AD

Galahad the Puppet Master, 1019 - 1025AD
Birth of the Crusader: Galahad in Santiago, 1025 - 1026AD
Portucal and the Harrowing, 1026 - 1027AD
A Period of Expansion, 1028 - 1035AD
The Murder of Wiglaf and the Darkening of the World, 1035 - 1040AD
The First Crusade, 1040 - 1042AD
The First Crusade: Aftermath, 1042 - 1044AD
New Fronts against Old Enemies, 1044 - 1045AD
The War for the West Coasts: Algarve, 1045 - 1047AD
Familial Ties and the Fall of Asturias, 1047 - 1051AD
The War for the West Coasts: Norway, 1051 - 1053AD
The War of Sorrows, 1053 - 1054AD
The Battle of the Rock, 1054 - 1057AD

The Beginning of the End, 1057 - 1060AD
The Grand Crusade: Assembling the Troops, 1056 - 1066AD
-
Latin Christendom: Fracturing Foundations, 900 - 1028AD
Latin Christendom: Growing Tensions in Rome and Beyond, 1028 - 1054AD
-
Military Matters: The Birth of the Legions, 1000 - 1005AD
Military Matters: Galahad's Legions, 1014 - 1092AD
Military Matters: Galahad's Fleet, 1014 - 1092AD
Military Matters: Early Castles, 800 - 1075AD
-
A Brief Aside: Robert the Fat
A Brief Aside: Baron Windsor
A Brief Aside: Questions
A Brief Aside: Answers
[REDACTED]
A Brief Aside: His Last Bow
A Brief Aside: The British Question
 
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King Uther I and the origins of Empire

It is very difficult to resist the temptation of ‘great man history’. Perhaps it speaks to our inner desires for singular exemplary individuals to be the causes of great historical events but the reality is rarely so simple. When it comes to royalty, even modern historians get starryeyed over their deeds and battles and such. This has been the case with the British royal family for generations of historians. But perhaps I am too harsh, as the reason for this special treatment was deliberate manipulation on the part of those very figures, especially the subject of this chapter.

Uther Pendragon, one of the men most always put on a pillar of historical greatness is also one of the few people who might actually deserve it. It is very true that without his input, the Empire would likely not have come into being; at least, not so quickly and as successfully as in actual history. His rise is astonishing considering the relatively poor and weak lands that he started with and the genuinely extraordinary ways he fought off all comers including Nordic invaders, his own countrymen and internal strife to create not just the kingdom of England but the foundation on which his descendants would build an empire.

The Yates' East Anglia, 867AD

To begin, Uther was born into the Yates family of East Anglia in 845AD (as we now know. Accounts vary but at the time of writing, the evidence unearthed in 1983 at Anglia University has been proven authentic, displacing centuries old beliefs about him being born six years later and thus much younger when he began his rule). Little is known of his parents but we do know he had no siblings and was the sole heir to the two counties that made up the Petty Kingdom of East Anglia that the Yates family had ruled over for centuries. A prodigious child, Uther was noted even in youth for his excellent grasp of language, especially oration. Other accounts of, for example, his excellent skills with a blade, the genius of his composition and his holy piety even in childhood are all probable inventions of late medieval writers. What we can be sure of was that Uther was clever, persuasive and quick to learn, skills that served him well throughout his life.

Aged thirty two, the world changed for Uther. Whilst raids from Scandinavia were nothing new, in the decades before 867AD Viking invasions became more and more violent and increasingly more permanent, with kingdoms being stablished in the north of England and the west of Scotland. In 867AD, as any schoolboy can recite, the Vikings of Jorvik attacked and killed the majority of the court of East Anglia, including Uther’s parents. Alone and now commander of what remained of the small army, the young king decided to withdraw to more favourable ground as remaining to fight would be tantamount to suicide.

This action, the crossing of the River Thames, was the first of Uther’s many campaigns and it is here English historians like to call the start of their history. Having safely crossed and waylaid all attackers, Uther went to the courts of every nobleman in Wessex, massing a considerable amount of support for his seemingly hopeless cause through pure charisma. Whilst later acts of similar ‘charisma’ can be questioned somewhat as Uther found great wealth and military strength later in his rule, these early exploits are very likely genuine, as he had nothing else but his words at this point. Whatever the truth was, the people followed Uther in his desire to rid the land of the invaders, leading to him having an army slightly smaller in size to the Jorviks.

Uther then crossed the river again, this time encircling the unwitting Vikings before attacking, killing all but a few Norsemen and establishing himself as a great warrior in the eyes of the Anglo-Saxons. This would become more valuable when Northumbria, the northernmost Saxon kingdom, fell to Jorvik a mere few months later. With every Saxon in the land afraid of the continued march of pagan aggression into their own lands, Uther stood like a beacon to those who wanted to fight back.

At this point, it becomes difficult once more to remove the man from the legend. What we can say for certain is that between 870 and 880AD, Uther managed to bully, cajole, charm and fight his way across the land, earning the fealty of Mercia, Wessex and, most bloodily, Cornwall. This last small kingdom did not fall easily and its ruler Cenred continued to rule as duke under Uther. The king also married an Irishwoman (whom died shortly after giving birth to his firstborn son, having also borne daughters) and betrothed his daughters to the Karling royal family. With such significant military alliances and his own growing kingdom, Uther successfully fought off many raiding Vikings from Iceland and several genuine invasion attempts from Jorvik before launching one of his own. Jorvik itself burned in 882AD, allowing it to be rebuilt and rechristened York in the years after. The stinging loss of their capital broke the back of the remaining Vikings in England and before the end of the decade they had all been driven back into Scotland (where they were having greater success).

The triumphant Uther began to consolidate his position of power now that the enemy that had granted him his rule was defeated. The majority of the nobles and common folk loved him to the extent that even amongst all the exaggerations of early historians, their adoration remains constant. The prestige this granted Uther and the money and power he now held led him to be crowned King of England on the seventh of July 899AD at the age of sixty four.

Now the dominant power on the island, Uther still could not rest easily on his throne. He was challenged by the welsh princes whom had fought against him with the Vikings on multiple occasions and earlier than that against him in Cornwall. The king knew that his kingdom would not be safe with such people on the border yet lacked a true reason to destroy them and conquer their lands, as the Welsh were Christian. This difficulty led the king to adopt a most ingenious plan, a ploy so great that it tricked the majority of historians all the way through to early modern times. I am of course referring to the Great Arthurian Myth and the Legend of the Return of the Kings.

The plot is as famous as it is infamous, with popular history even today being blurred as to the truth. We in academia however know that stories of the man who would become the literary King Arthur were around in Welsh and Breton cultures in the 8th and 9th centuries AD and were growing in popularity across Anglo-Saxon lands too. Uther may well have heard in his youth of the Welsh tall tales of the great warrior king that linked the abandonment of Roman Britain to contemporary times and he most certainly had heard of the legends by the time of his campaigns against the Vikings for he named his son Arthur (or ‘Awtheur’, as it probably was at the time. Welsh names fell out of fashion in Camelot and so either he or one of his decedents retroactively changed it to the familiar form).

As to whether this was around the time the king began to think about using the myth for his own advantage we do not know. Regardless, Uther decided to identify himself and his family heavily with the Arthurian mythos, creating and spreading much of the legends and stories himself. When his new capital city and castle were finished on the banks of the River Thames, he christened it Camelot. In the following years, tales of the ancient Briton spread throughout the island and on the continent and Uther made sure everyone could see the parallels between himself and his version of Arthur, that of an early Christian ruler fighting off unholy invaders (the fact that these unholy invaders were undoubtedly Uther’s Saxon ancestors was never brought into attention). Whilst the stories were popular in every court in Latin Christendom, eyebrows were raised at the claims of the new king of England identifying himself with the legendary figure.

It did not matter for the moment what the Franks and other continentals thought however. The English loved the idea of being ruled by the rightful heirs of ‘their’ Arthur and celebrated when Uther announced his family would change their name to the Pendragons (which remained the case down through the ages) and the changing of the Kingdom of England to the newly rechristened Kingdom of Camelot.

Students of history are often surprised by the suddenness and daring of the king in attempting to pull this off. I remind them of the example amongst the Franks themselves. Charlemagne had not been dead fifty years before the man was glorified into a Christian ideal of both great ruler, warrior and pilgrim. Already in Uther’s time (which he knew from interaction with the West Francia court) Charles the Great’s children and grandchildren were fighting for the title of heir to the great old king’s glory. Uther apparently believed he could artificially start a similar movement in his own kingdom and whilst it did indeed work in his realm, abroad people were often incredulous or downright hostile, especially the Welsh and Bretons who viewed the man as an upstart looking for an excuse to fight them.

It was not the aim of Uther to solidify his claims of Arthurian legacy however, that was left to his descendants. He merely began the process and gave himself the perfect excuse to go to war against the Welsh by arguing that Arthur was the ruler of both lands. Many times in Albion’s history do we find that whenever the Pendragon’s needed to do something, a new addition to the mythos would show the original Arthur doing exactly that. And yet it was not for many centuries that historians looked upon these tales as anything but facts about British history. Never let it be said that propaganda fell out of use in medieval Europe!

Uther's Camelot, 903AD
So we come to the end of Uther’s reign. He has united his homeland and granted himself right of conquest to the welsh lands. Other than the capture of the Isle of Mann (that swiftly became known as the Isle of the Blessed from the ‘old’ legends) and a small excursion into the south of Wales, Uther did little warring in the last three years of his life. Instead Uther invested in the royal counties that formed a band across Camelot, centred on his capital itself of course. It is at this time that Oxford and Cambridge are established by royal charter (by far and away the oldest universities in Europe. The reason for two schools of thought is because Uther and Arthur favoured two different groups of scholars) and Westminster Abbey (in its first incarnation) begins to be built. The rivalry between the city of London and Camelot begins here too, both vying for royal attention. This would only truly end with London’s encompassing of Camelot in the industrial age.​


King Uther I of Camelot (Born: 845AD, Reign: 867-903AD)
Uther breathed his last, fittingly, within the walls of Camelot at the ripe old age of sixty eight. His son Arthur now had the monumental task of not only following up his father’s successful reign but cementing the Pendragon name as divinely blessed.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Hum...ah. Is this how it works?
Hello there, this is Professor Monmouth here (I do hope I'm doing this right?). I was informed some time ago of the possibility of my most popular work being placed on the internet (what a wonderful innovation it is!) and I want to do my bit for it, as it were. Any niggling questions and such you may have about Albion, the articles or history in general shall be answered (hopefully) by me personally. Isn't that fantastic? Of course, any people simply looking to read the work (perhaps for class) are welcome too. Hello to you too!
So, the next article shall be on the first King Arthur I do believe and we shall go from there I think. Happy reading and so on and so forth.

...I wonder if this dictation device pick up every little thing that I say?
 
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Saxon125

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Oh, a pendragon AAR, I wrote a similar piece on the pendragons years ago on the forums consider me subbed . :)
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Oh, a pendragon AAR, I wrote a similar piece on the pendragons years ago on the forums consider me subbed . :)
Well I do aim to please Mr Saxon. Of course, these are not 'really' Pendragons is we want to be pedantic but at the same time they really did merge with the myths they created over the years. Besides, I don't think 'Yates' is as good a name for the Imperial family. Rather nice wine bar though.
 

coz1

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Well done as a start! It seems to me that between you, me and @Asantahene there is a newfound love of glorious Albion. I applaud it! :)

Love the historical look and if the rest keeps at this likewise, you have a great story in hand. I'll be reading.
 

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Wow this is a rather interesting way of writing and I like the adoption of the Professor as narrator and author both

I am liking the new interest in all things Saxon so I echo coz1 and say I'm in!
 

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Well I am something of a patriot myself (which I assure you has nothing to do with the knighthood). I mean, who does not love the Imperial family?
I believe the techno wizards are working on putting up the article on Arthur I right now. How exciting!
 

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King Arthur, unifier or conqueror?

With the passing of his father, Arthur Pendragon held within his grasp the most powerful kingdom on the isle and the possibility for expansion was very real. With noble and peasant alike wondering how this new ruler would match up to the legacy of the legendary Uther, the new king was under pressure to start and win a war as soon as feasibly possible. We see this a lot in world history by the way, especially in newer kingdoms that haven’t had a tradition of succession drummed into them yet.

The south of Wales seemed the ideal place, having already been mostly conquered by his father already. Deheubarth was weak but traditionally had close ties with the Irish clans, several of which could easily aid the petty kingdom if pressed. Fortunately, Arthur used his familial relations with the chief of Cil Dara to ensure no Irishman would be coming to help the cornered Welsh. Within a year of becoming king, Arthur won his first victory in Wales, granting him a duchy and three counties to distribute.

This led to one of Arthur’s greater legacies that would inform how the rest of Albion would be treated after conquest. To unite the people and nobles around him, the king placed welsh rulers in each county and gave the duchy itself to one of the sons of the defeated prince. This led to the standard practice both in Great Britain and Ireland that local people would hold onto power, just not usually the same people who held it before the English came (the Mongol Empire used a similar method in their campaigns). With this, Arthur guaranteed the languages and cultures of the islands would not be lost. It also meant that local lords could actually speak to their vassals and more easily gain support from them against the monarch.

Obviously, this approach has been debated for centuries. Most scholars (and members of the public) believe the king made the right choice. The intermixing of the languages and cultures of the people of Albion led to the great works that united culture would produce. ‘Britishness’ was born from the marriage between various peoples all banding together to survive and thrive. Of course there are those, whom because of the pain of recent events, shall remain nameless here, that believe this was a mistake and a heinous one at that. Whilst Arthur is regarded as generally being a hero of multiculturalism today (whether that is deserved or not), it was his statues and monuments that were destroyed first in the Great War.

What is true is that the Welsh were far more rebellious than they might have been under direct English authority for the next century or so (by the time of 1000AD, most had come to accept Camelot and almost everyone by that point followed the monarchy), to the extent that though Wales remains a unique and reasonably well established cultural identity, the kingdom of Wales was never recreated under the Pendragons, remaining the only one of the four home kingdoms of Albion to never come into existence in at least one incarnation.

Arthur saw the wealth in the south and found the infrastructure there acceptable enough to leave to the local lords. He had another campaign to plan, this one far harder an undertaking. Gwynedd was a fully united petty kingdom in the easily defendable north of Wales. Arthur knew that fighting a war there would be long and bloody. To directly attack would be foolhardy. Fortunately the nobility in Powys were unruly, easily bribed and already gravitating towards the more powerful king in Camelot, so with some careful political intrigue, civil unrest soon broke out in the north. When Powys started a war of independence, Camelot rushed to their banner and made it clear to the remaining welsh lords outside of their kingdom that Powys was now beyond them. The independent lords of Powys declared fealty to Arthur, the promised son of the house of Pendragon (or so the histories claim. Several barons were richly rewarded for this display of ‘faith’ in the aftermath of this decision) and soon all that remained of independent Wales were the two northern counties.

The Crownwall, the royal demesne of the Pendragons.
The Duchy of Oxfordshire: Gloucester, Wiltshire, Oxford.
The Duchy of Camelot: Northampton, Bedford, Essex and Middlesex (now London).

The king was pleased with how his reign was going, ordering yet grander celebrations in London and in Camelot. The wealth of his kingdom allowed more development of what I call ‘The Crownwall’: the royal territories stretching unbroken from the Bristol Channel, through Oxfordshire, to the River Thames and the North Sea. Time and again, when invaders attacked the islands, the war was won with troops from the royal lands. It became the bastion for Albion’s defences for nearly 700 years. Only in the age of gunpowder and canons did their military value lessen but by that time, their cultural and economic value were immense. Of the ten oldest institutions in Western Europe, five can be found within the Crownwall (seven if we include the rest of the isles).

Arthur’s aim was to build a great kingdom that fit the legends and myths his family were spreading. The expansion of Camelot castle, the investments in making his personal demesne the most beautiful and mighty in the known world and the beginnings of investment in infrastructures such as roads and bridges all aided that goal. Ten years into his reign, Camelot was overflowing with wealth and well trained soldiers ready to fight the good fight to finish the job in Wales. Whilst Arthur was never the great all-rounder that his father was, his scholarly and political skill eclipsed him. The realm became far more centralised and the dukes more tightly controlled from the capital. The nonstop wealth and promise of more wars to gain prestige in endeared the nobles to him nonetheless. When the old king of Gwynedd died in 915AD, splitting the realm in two, Camelot was ready to strike.

Even with the two counties uniting in an alliance, mutual distrust and the fact they were outnumbered (by some accounts nearly ten to one) meant a speedy end to the war and the completion of uniting the legendary Arthurian kingdom back together. Arthur thus decided to ensure Camelot could grow in the peace that followed. Using the same formula as before, he installed new minor welsh nobles to the counties and duchy of Gwynedd. Whilst he would have some trouble with marauding Icelanders and rebellious welsh subjects, the following decade was quite peaceful for Camelot and thus, often ignored by historians. Yet in this time, Arthur and other members of his court were making the first of many attempts by the English to start a merchant republic to rival that of the Mediterranean city states. This tells us many things, not least among which that Camelot was heavily connected to the outside world and attempting to emulate what it saw as successful parts of it. The failure of the Isle of the Blessed to safely house a rich trading port (due to frequent attacks from Galloway and the Vikings in Scotland) meant that the idea faded from mind as other projects were focused on. However, as any Irishman will tell you, the idea did not stay dead for long.

Speaking of Ireland, the clans were infighting with each other to the degree that Arthur lost his small bit of influence there for some time. His family kept a claim on the land that would eventually prove quite valuable however the completion of the kingdom of the Arthurian legend meant the king had no true right to war elsewhere. Here then we see a new addition to the mythos, that of Avalon, becoming a separate place from the isle of the blessed. The Pendragons had not yet thought up the idea of ‘Albion’ as we know it today but it is clear that by this point they had realised the potency of their situation. They could take what they wished from any of the remaining other players in the British Isles but how much better would it be to be seen as simply reclaiming what was once yours regardless?

The view from the continent, or at least the Frankish kingdoms was that the English were right to press their claims, though stories of the Pendragon’s claims to Arthurian myth were still taken with a pinch of salt. We do know that the tales had reached as far as Rome by 920AD however, for there was a papal inquiry into the subject in that year. As Arthur was ‘coincidentally’ visiting the holy city on a pilgrimage, you can imagine the outcome of such inquires. Pope Jacobus III gave Latin Christendom’s support to the “proud histories of the Britons” and from then on, scholars treated the mythos as solid British history till the early modern era.

The long peace also gave time for marriages and children. Arthur had many daughters and three sons. His youngest two were made barons in the Crownlands whilst his eldest, Mordred, was promised the next duchy the kingdom came to possess. This son had reaffirmed the ties with Ireland (or as it was beginning to be called, Avalon), marrying into the High Chief of Dublin’s family. Arthur’s daughters were flung far and wide over Europe, gaining alliances with the Christian Spanish kingdoms, the Frankish kingdoms and one, Gertrude, even further afield in the court of the Byzantines. That last link becomes much more significant in the time of Lancelot.

With such friends in high places and military strength garnered over the years, King Arthur felt confident in pushing for a war in 927AD against the Vikings in the north, over the Duchy of Lothian. The pagan warriors were by this time nearly spent in Scotland and fell easily to the invasion by Camelot. Mordred then became Duke of Lothian and guarded the border against both Scotland and the Vikings that remained in Great Britain. Emboldened by the ease of the victory, Arthur began to plan more ambitious campaigns against the Vikings in the north, whom at this time controlled the east of Scotland as well as the islands directly north of it.

This changed when the court spymaster and a delegation of welsh nobles arrived in Camelot to hold council with the king. The southern Irish clans were becoming uneasy with the growing ties between the north of Ireland and the Vikings in Scotland. Whilst hindsight and historical study tells us that these fears were well founded (the four northernmost counties did indeed become pagan ruled in 932 and central Ireland in 934AD), at the time it seems Arthur was unsure as to what he should or could do. His spymaster (whom we have recently confirmed to be Sir Howard Ren, the noted philosopher and theologian) however informed him in three letters in 930AD that some of the Irish were leaning towards declaring fealty if Camelot could make a show of protecting them. Thus suitably encouraged, especially by his pro-Irish son and heir, the king personally visited Ireland in 931AD and sure enough two chieftains did join him in that time (Leinster and Ossory, which made up the new Duchy of Leinster). Given a sum of money, they built their keeps and became counts, upon which time the king gave Leinster (the port county and closest to Wales) the duchy title as well.

Arthur’s Camelot, 933AD

This version of a king doing nothing till land was offered up was and still is not what popular history (and for a long time, academia) believe. Taking Arthur’s actions in Wales, the tale of a man determined to protect everyone even those not within his kingdom from (depending on who you ask) pagan and/or foreign encroachment was a powerful one, especially when adding in the mistaken belief of the vassals pledging themselves out of gratitude. It is far more likely that even the version stated in the last paragraph is not the full story. Leinster stood to gain much from joining the large and wealthy kingdom of Camelot and had close ties with South Wales, whilst Ossory was too close and too small to refuse its larger neighbour. Still, reviewing Irish history, these two counties got a better deal than many.

Whether Camelot would have gone through with the planned invasion against the Vikings or developed further interests in southern Ireland is alas unknown to us for Arthur died unexpectedly in 933AD at the age of sixty one. Historians have wondered whether this was due to a heart attack or a sudden bought of illness for many years but a study began last month by some of my colleagues on the actual remains of the king (after the surprise discovery of his tomb last year in Glastonbury) might finally answer those questions.

King Arthur I of Camelot (Born: 872AD, Reign: 903-933AD)

What is generally agreed upon was that Arthur was a fine successor to Uther and did well in the way of solidifying the family’s relations with Arthurian myth. The conquest and subsequent treatment of the Welsh codified how the future kings of Camelot would treat the rest of their subjugated subjects in Albion and also was exactly what the later emperors rebelled against doing. Arthur ensured Camelot was wealthy and powerful throughout his reign and the long stretches of peace followed by quick, successful wars were constantly harkened back to by future rulers attempting to emulate his results. His grandson, Arthur II, is recognised as the father of Ireland today. Yet the man remembered for his tolerance and acceptance was also fine with allowing his son and not a Scot rule in Lothian and was disinterested in Leinster until essentially bribed. His is a complex tale full of perhaps more intrigue and deception than we realise and perhaps it makes what happened afterwards more understandable.

The throne passed to Mordred, firstborn of Arthur. And it is here pretty much everyone agrees it all went a bit wrong.
 
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Very interesting. Might be worth providing more pics to break up the banks of text. Also ones that show the actual realm situation. I'm struggling to understand why all of Britannia is in Red?
 

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Very interesting. Might be worth providing more pics to break up the banks of text. Also ones that show the actual realm situation. I'm struggling to understand why all of Britannia is in Red?
Ah, the maps we have date back to after the creation of the empire. Before then we have a confusing and not at all helpful selection of cartographical guesswork. I believe the editor marked where the boundaries of Camelot were on each map, however I understand that this can be not as helpful as we desire. I shall see if any better maps have resurfaced in the thirty years since I wrote this.
If not, then I shall ask a few friends of mine to take a map and draw on the realms that exist in 933AD. I do apologise for the confusion. I do agree about the lack of images however it used to be so much worse in that regard; the original articles didn't have any at all. Thankfully they are now lucrative enough that we can include custom impressions of what anthropologists think the monarchs actually looked like and some (albeit limited until after 1000AD) maps.
I shall have to see what the editors can do about that...
Thank you for the suggestion.
 

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How was the Pendragon family tree at the time of Arthur's death?
Not as convoluted as it would become in later years but it was 'getting there'. Uther and Arthur had many daughters each and the latter spread them all over Europe. Their sons are interesting because for the most part, they were not landed. As you might imagine, this led to a few problems that Arthur II tried to address with his campaigns in Ireland. I shall compile my notes on the family tree after the release of the article on the unfortunate Mordred but in essence, aside from Henry of York, before Arthur II no son was landed aside from the heir. The changed as Camelot grew. One youngest son in particular, Merlin, became VERY significant later on.
 
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Mordred the Ill-fated

The extremely short reign of Mordred (relatively speaking) and the manner of his death has meant that several centuries of historians and especially popular history simply pass him by. I am sure many readers of this article ‘know’ only two things about him: namely that he was a bastard and that he was insane. Neither, it seems, was really the truth. Considering his legacy, his son being Arthur II and the story of his life up to his coronation, I find it quite unfair how this king is passed over so quickly. So let us delve into the secrets of this mystery, a figure that his own descendants attempted to distance from.

Mordred was born just as his grandfather Uther was reaching his greatest heights. When the boy was seven, Uther was crowned King of England (later Camelot) and the Pendragon rise to the top was complete. Mordred was thus almost certainly raised in great luxury, with access to the best of everything the English could procure from their own lands and the continent. As his father, the first King Arthur, was unlanded (it was not till Arthur became king that any son received land whilst their father was alive and not until Lancelot that many Pendragons became landed nobles), the boy often travelled with the court as they visited their new kingdom and even a trip overseas to the Cil Dara clan Uther had ties with. Mordred was clearly impressed with what he found, for his letters as a young man of Ireland and his frequent voyages to that island indicated a fascination with the place his family did not share. Arthur had become king and was focused more on the conquest of Wales than anywhere else. What he did grasp was that his child had a great skill with communicating with foreigners and a drive to explore. Thus Mordred became the first Pendragon to tour Europe, making several pilgrimages Santiago and to Rome.

It is in Italy where Mordred truly begins to become a defined historical figure. The prodigious amount of letters and journals he kept on what he found have long been ignored till the beginning of this century. Now we are beginning to appreciate the perspective he brought on the forming city states in the north and his concerns over the already perceived corruptions in the Papacy. We do not yet know if he travelled further south to Byzantine lands but it is certainly possible. What we do know is that when the prince returned from his travels in 910AD, his imagination had caught fire and he began producing several treatises on philosophy and theology, as well as musings on how Camelot could benefit from forming its own merchant and trade cities, perhaps even banded together as a republic under the monarchy. The astonishing revelations we have only begun to glean from the records of Mordred are dispelling many long held beliefs, such as it was he and not Arthur II who first conceived of a merchant republic in his lands, and again he and not Arthur whom first visited Rome to speak with the Pope.

Yet there were signs even in those early days that the prince was not as mentally sound as his writings show. When his first wife died in 911AD after a mere few months of marriage, Mordred was heartbroken, sinking into what we today would call depression for a period of four years. His father forcing him to remarry less than two months later probably did not help matters. He began to recover during 915, when his father was away conquering the last of the independent welsh and by 918 was writing again, this time with more focus on Ireland, which he saw as the next logical step in Camelot’s expansion. He even resurrected his idea idea of a trading network being housed there, far enough away to conduct independent business but close enough to be managed by the monarchy. Mordred became increasingly worried by the Viking threat; the spread of paganism at the cost of Christian lands was a fear throughout northern Europe but the prince was more concerned with the Vikings gaining a foothold in Ireland and potentially doing there what they had done to Scotland (incite an exceptionally bloody and longstanding struggle that had brought the Scottish kingdom to its knees and was taxing the Vikings heavily too).

The situation in Ireland: In the south ,Camelot lands and three independent clans,
whilst further north the Vikings began to conquer as Mordred feared.

Mordred’s son Arthur was raised and taught almost exclusively by the prince himself until 927AD, when he became the Duke of Lothian. He impressed upon his son the value Ireland would have in the kingdom and shared his plans for how to revitalise trade in Camelot and beyond. But perhaps most importantly, in a letter written to his son in 930AD, Mordred explains that one day he wished to see “all these isles of Albion and her lands unified under one glorious kingdom, that of Camelot and the Pendragons. So that We, under our divine rule, might stem the flow of barbarous heretics, cease the butchery in the north and bring forth peace to whence it hast not been present afore.” Here we have both the first written record of Albion being used by a Pendragon not just as a classical word for Great Britain but for all the British Isles and a dream of unifying all of it under one banner. Whilst several kingdoms were in fact used to bring Albion into reality, here we see the actual birthplace of the concept. The conflict he refers to in the north is undoubtedly the Scottish wars against Norse and other Scandinavian invaders. The brutality of the many battles, skirmishes, sieges and even disease outbreaks and food shortages caused by the conflict had killed as many as one third of the entire population and brought both the Vikings and the Scots to their knees. The war, which I shall cover in greater detail in a separate essay, was a stalemate with every gain balanced by a loss. It was not until the Viking defeat in Ireland and the intervention of Camelot in Scotland that the fighting ended.

The situation in Scotland, 933-34AD: The Scottish Kingdom commands the centre of the land
but Viking forces surround them on three fronts. The Scots push back in the east
only to lose the southern counties in Albany.

I hope I have portrayed so far that Mordred is hardly the nonentity people believe; though he did indeed suffer from depression for a time in his youth, stories and rumours of him being a bastard actually only arise after the creation of the Arthurian Mordred character (which the Pendragons, though generally agreeing to ignore Mordred’s existence, still attempted to quash unsuccessfully). The idea of a cursed, ill-gotten monstrous being attached to the name Mordred originates from the last year of his life and the only year of his reign.

When King Arthur died in 933AD, Mordred was hit hard by the loss. Already vulnerable to depression, he slipped into a far deeper one in the following months, refusing to leave his castle in Lothian and making his son rule in his place in Camelot. The nobles grew to gossiping and his own son began to express doubts about his father’s sanity, as his letters and orders were becoming more and more erratic. Before Arthur could intervene however, the king had taken his own life. Mordred died in 934AD to the sound of silence. The people did not know him, he had spent more time abroad than in Camelot as far as they were concerned. The nobles by then viewed him as a disturbed and depraved individual and since the Pendragon name was otherwise untouchable, rumours circulated about his supposed parentage. A tragic end to a man who had held so much promise.

King Mordred I of Camelot (Born: 892AD, Reign: 933-934AD)

His son, Arthur II, now had several problems. The people and the nobles were wondering what the hell had just happened with the last king and rumours were abating that he and his father weren’t true Pendragons at all. To cap it all off, the Vikings were growing in power, with most of Ireland having fallen to them and the kingdom of Scotland finally beginning to buckle under intense pressure. With everything to prove and not much time to do it in, King Arthur 'the Gentle' II still managed to become perhaps the closest to the Arthurian ideals that his family had created for themselves.
 
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Maps are much better thanks :)

I like the way you've brought Mordred and his mental helth travails to life
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Yes it is confusing without being able to look at everything, especially in Scotland. However, since Scotland was ignored till Lancelot I, and he very successfully dealt with the crisis very quickly, it wont be too confusing for much longer. And after 1000AD, we actually have proper maps, some even with the separations of kingdoms on them! Then Albion becomes less of a complex issue and the chaotic border placements move to the continent instead.

By the way, how is everyone with the articles so far? We have so many more we can put on and were wondering on the order of placement. Is the continuation of the Monarch works agreeable or do we want more diversification?
 

TheButterflyComposer

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Well if we remain with the original plan, we shall presently get to Arthur II and his son Lancelot, then a break to take stock of the situation at 1000AD. After that, we might peruse the continent for a bit, look into the military make up of Camelot before the empire, observe Latin Christendom before Albion begins excepting influence on the church and have a look at family trees and dynasties.
 
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Military Matters: Camelot’s Army

Before the rise of the empire and the consolidation of all of the British Isles’ assets into one place, the various armies of the islands were all levy based and general speaking, small, disorganised and poorly equipped. Whilst a rich lord might be able to provide arms and armour for every man in his service, he didn’t have to (and knights serving under him definitely didn’t either supply nor were granted such). Of course, most lords at the time were weak and poor as well, so couldn’t provide such a thing even if they wished it.

It was the coming of Uther’s Camelot and Arthur’s reorganisation of his personal demesne that began the ‘revolution’ in warfare. Whilst I term these lands the Crownwall, they were not at first thought of as such and were in the beginning no different than any other set of counties, other than they were all connected together and their owner was far more powerful than usual. Arthur began setting up his castles to be more than simply posturing structures designed to cow the masses and potential attackers and instead remade most of them into what many think of as castles today: centres of military training, the production of war goods and the cornerstone of a medieval kingdom’s power. The king took the traditional heavy infantry that were so widespread in use in Camelot and in Ireland and standardised training and equipment. His levies would still be part time soldiers but they were required by law to train, to maintain the weapons and armour given to them (in this era, they took after the Carolingian heavy soldier: a large circular shield, a short spear, a sword and a coat of chainmail). These soldiers would make up the bulk of Camelot’s army till the formation of the empire, when alterations were made to how infantry was organised.

Representation of Camelot's Infantry (knights and nobles had greater variety of armour and weapons).

As for ranged fighters, Camelot was more accepting of archers than many other European kingdoms purely because the majority of bowmen used longbows, an extremely effective weapon fully capable of killing even a 15th century armour plated knight in one good shot. Arthur and subsequent kings recognised the value of having such men in the army and thus archery was encouraged, with many monarchs putting into law that every able man must practice at least once per week. Scouts (doubling up as light infantry) generally used shorter bows however and amongst the nobility, archery was seen as a sport rather than a fine position for a nobleman to take in battle. Whilst infantry was focused on in the Crownwall, archery was so widespread and had so many practical uses that most men were proficient, thus less effort was made to even marginally professionalise bowmen.

Longbows required such intensive training and exercises that we can tell if a man used one regularly. One of his arms would be noticeably longer, stronger and with longer fingers. Due to the widespread nature of these weapons, this must have been a common sight in most settlements outside larger towns and cities. Of course the ones pictured here are from a later period, both from the better armour they wear to the symbol on it.

Cavalry meanwhile was much rarer than people might think. Horses were not particularly common in Camelot until several Byzantine alliances lead to a large gift of Arabian horses arriving on these shores, to the delight of the Pendragons. Outside of Camelot, there were very few horses at all. This means that knights and nobles riding into battle did not occur very often and the idea of knights in shining armour (intrinsic in some ways to Arthurian myth) was not thought of until the 12th Century. Cavalry in general for the majority of the empire’s history has been used as a light force, for scouting, for cleaning up routing units and for manipulating the battlefield, rather than the hard hitting heavy cavalry much favoured on the continent later on into the high Middle Ages. For a very, very long time, nobles fought on the ground (in admittedly much better armour) alongside everyone else.

A rendition from Westminster Abbey (therefore made during the later reign of Lancelot) of a typical horseman. Here we can see the spurs of knights that made cavalry far more useful but oddly, no sign of stirrups, the other important factor in improving cavalry riding and techniques. Whether the knight is in some special tournament to display his prowess or the artist simply did not draw them, we do not know. The rest of the armour is reasonably correct.

It must be remembered that these troops were still levies and were not always available for war. Actual standing armies did not occur until Lancelot the Great’s military reforms following the unification of Albion. For the most part, the islands and empire were forged with part time troops that were not always committed to battle and whose availability was at the discretion of their local lord. Whilst the Pendragon’s own lands provided the bulk of the army, the dukes provided much needed numbers. With the rise of a standing, somewhat professional army, these lords lost much of their say in matters of war, though of course they still fought and almost always were in charge of battles in wars to come.
 
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