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ThaHoward

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Hi everybody! You might not remember me, but I used to be active here. I've always wanted to create an AAR, and did so last year. Unfortunately the file got corrupted, and before I could look into it and fix it, I got a job for 12 months that gave me no time for freetime... Now, after getting back to this forum, I will start as Harald Hardråde (or Hardrada in English) and start at the 1066 start date - hopefully we will conquer England! :D It will be historical narrative, and I will try to roleplay and may cheat (however almost never in my favor!) in order to get realistic outcomes and exciting ones - however I won't cheat myself to i.e conquer England. I will also try not to hyperextend and keep it "realistic". Also I will not educate or marry out of trait considerations. It will be either inter-realm marriages and tutalages in order to have stability in the realm or with neighboring powers to get alliances. In other words to follow up the medieval doctrine of marriage and tutelage. Also I will try to have one update per ruler, unless it is such a significan ruler as Harald Hardrada. I may also from time to time post "flavor" chapters. Thise will not be of great importance to the game, but may feature things like the political situation of Norway, duels or conquests of women. Which may be relevant to the main chapters, or it is just pure balony.

Hopefully you will bear with me and have a great time together! :)


Objectives:

    • -Conquer England and hold it.
    • -Re-establish the Danelaw. (De-jure duchies of Lancaster, East Anglia, Lothian, Essex, York and Northumbria being under Scandinavian rulers).
    • -Do not fall under foreign occupation.

Table of contents:

Harald 'Hardråde' (reign 1046-1084):
Olav III. (reign 1084-1090):
Harald 'the Great' (reign 1090-1147):
Harald VI. (reign 1147-1160):
Håvard 'the Holy' (reign 1160-1210):
Queen Gyrid I. (reign 1188/1210-1233):
Håvard II 'the Lame' (reign 1233-1244):
Ogmund I 'the Wise" (reign 1244-1245)
Magnus II (reign 1245-?)




Flavour chapters:

Chapter 1:
Chapter 2:
Chapter 3:
Chapter 5:
Chapter 7:
Chapter 8:
Chapter 9:
Chapter 11:
Chapter 12:
Chapter 13:
Chapter 14:
Chapter 15:
Chapter 17:
Chapter 18:

 
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Deaghaidh

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Just stay on the right island.

 

ThaHoward

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When you speak of it, it is an Island to the west of England that I might need to visit... Oh we'll see, remember that Norway isn't that strong against the ungrateful Anglo-Saxon natives, and that it is tons of claimants in Denmark.. Maybe I will befriend the Irish, enemy of my enemy is my friend? :D

Oh and since it's quite lateish here... Excpect the first update tommorow!
 

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Prologue: The Rise of Hardrada
The year was 1066 and King Harald of Norway had set his feet in the English lands of Northumbria. With him he had fierce warriors who had not abondoned the old gods, and wanted to seek glory and untold riches in the green and fertile land of Albion. Tostig the brother of King Harold II. of England was also in the invading army pillaging the countryside of Yorkshire. Tostig had been deposed by his very own brother from the throne of Northumbria, and swore fealty and loyalty to the Norwegian King. In return for being reinstated, Tostig gave Harald his unconditional support and provided valuable support from over 1000 Scotsmen for Harald's invasion of England. These three factions united in a common ambition to take on the English Kingdom. Tostig was ready to reclaim what was stolen from him, the Scotsmen wanted to unleash their fury on the decadent Anglo-Saxons and Harald was eager to gain his rightful title as King Harald III. of England - at every cost. The band of Hardrada went on and rampaged Northern England with little opposition. Whereever they went, they pillaged and burned down cities - using strategies carefully honed by Harald after decades as a feared warrior-king. Village after village succumbed to the Norwegian overmight, and soon after a decisive victory conquering the vital city of York, or Jorvik as the men of the North called it, Harold of England had little choice to face Harald Hardrada. And face him he did, at the opposite ends of Stamford Bridge, their fates would forever be sealed...

A church painting decipting Harald Hardrada - King of Norway

To better understand the motivations and character of Harald, we take a look backwards in time, from his upbringing, career as a Varangian to the most ruthless consolidation of the Kingdom of Norway. His history, and the stories revolving around him, give us a clear indication that this was no ordinary man and he was without any exaggeration named Hardråde - Hard Ruler.

His career as a professional, ruthless and bloodthirsty warrior started already at the age of 13. Along with his brother, the future Saint-King Olav the Holy, he escaped to the great kingdom of Gardariki - otherwise known as Kievan-Rus in the rest of "civilized" Europe. There, he and Olav the Holy prepared to return to Norway, and get rid of the joke that was Denmark occupying lands that was rightfully theirs. In his ambition for glory, and above else the excitement of war, Harald needed no persuasion to join his brother just two years later to "liberate" Norway. Olav II. "the Giant" returned to his former Kingdom, and tried to reclaim his rightful title as King. Unfortunately the subjucated nobles of Norway, swore their alligiances to Cnut the Great - the king of what is today known as "the North Sea Empire". Olav II. was also widely hated by the Norwegian peasantry and warrior caste, as it was he had brought Christianity to Norway from Wessex, and forced Christianity by the tip of his blade wherever he went in the great northern realm. Olav brought his army, mostly consisting of foreign mercenaries, to face the Danish loyal army led by Hårek. Hårek's army outnumbered Olav's army by 2:1. The 3500 soldiers of Olav, faced the 7000 man strong army of Hårek - which in turn represented Cnut the Great. Olav's army fought bravely, but in the end they were simply outnumbered, and this led to it's total destruction - and the Danish overlordship of Norway remained. It was however in this tragic hour that Harald Hardrada really distinguished himself. Only at the age of 15, he proved himself to be a skilled tactician, a natural commander and a bloodthirsty warrior. He alone led his 600 man strong Hird with exceptional skill. Also he fought bravely, refusing to yield any ground to the traitorous army. But even with all his skills and bravery, he was severly wounded, but were one of the very few who escaped the decisive defeat at the hands of Hårek. Yet, the 15 year old Harald showed exceptional talent and boldness. The great lion of the north had awoken, and he would set out to change the world forever..


The death of the later canonized King Olav during the Battle of Stiklestad
For obvious reasons Harald could no longer stay in Norway, after the nobles loyal Cnut the Great won such a devastating victory. Some would say that Harald fled eastwards, however others would say that he, as he later said himself, "it was not a route, it was a mere retreate". Nevertheless, Harald traveled eastwards, and back to the Gardariki. Here he met the famed Yaroslav the Wise, and this would later arrange a marriage between Harald and Elisiv of Kiev - the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise. This was no trivial feat, as the other children of Yaroslav would be married off to the King of France, Hungary and the Emperor of Byzantium. Yaroslav quickly sensed the talents of Harald, and employed him as his Marshal - the Captain of his army. Under Yaroslav Harald led numerous military campaigns against the Poles, Estonians, the steppe people and even the Byzantine Empire. Harald would only be the Captain of his army for a few years, but during this time he had become an experienced commander and warrior and forged a powerful alliance with Yaroslav the Wise of the Kievan-Rus Grand Principality himself.

Yaroslav the Wise, Grand Prince of Kievan-Rus. The most powerful figure in the East after the Emperor in Constantinoples.

After making a name for himself as a great warrior and brilliant strategist in Gardariki, the young Harald set sail to the immense riches of Miklagard the heart of the Roman Empire; Constantinnoples. The Emperors of the Eastern Roman Empire, or the Greek Kings as the northeners called them, had a long tradition of employing warriors of the north to act as personal and utmost loyal bodyguards to the Emperor. The Varangians was widely known to be fearless as Daniel in the pit of the lions, strong as bears and bold as none other. The Emperor had no qualms against hiring such a talented, and even battle hardened, young warrior as Harald. Harald made an anstonishing career in the Service of the Byzantine Emperor. He was quickly set out to become the leader of the Varangian Guard, and went on many campaings with and without the Emperors blessing. These campaigns included, but were not limited to, taming the Steppe people, liberating Sicily from the Saracens, protecting pilgrims in Jerusalem, sacking eighty Arab cities as far east as the Euphrates, quelled the Arab pirates in the mediterranian, assisted the Byzantines to push the vicious Arabs out of Asia Minor and various military campaigns in Italy. But most importantly he led the Varangians in the Bulgarian rebellion against the Byzantine Empire. Here Harald showed no mercy, and put put all his bloodthirstiness. Following his service against the Bulgarians, he would earn the name Harald Bolgara Brennir - Harald Bulgar Burner. One do not need to user their imagination to get the picture..

But even with his dedication and utmost loyalty to the Byzantine Emperor, Harald Bulgar-Burner were imprisoned by the very man he swore to protect. Reasons why he was imprisoned is still unclear, the myths have it to be anything from Harald requesting a marriage with a close relative of the Emperor, to fraud, for the Empress wanting to marry Harald and leave the Emperor behind, to outright murder. However, Harald was loyal to the Emperor he served, and many speculate that when a new Emperor rose to the throne, he feared Harald for the power he had amassed and that he were not loyal to the new Emperor. Nevertheless, Harald escaped his prison cell. And it all ended with Harald himself dragging Michael IV. by his hair to a monestary, personally crushing him eyes and castrating the Emperor and followed up by "applying" on behalf of the Emperor to become a monk dedicated to the service of God. Not long after this event, Harald once again set sails. This time he went North. Through Gardariki, meeting his ally and friend Yaroslav the Wise and finally marrying Elisiv. Yaroslav had safeguarded Harald's untold riches, fortune which he would use to fund his campaign to reclaim the throne that he and his brother lost so many years ago...



A Varangian Guard.

In 1045 at the age of 30 Harald would finally return to his homeland of Norway after 17 years a great Commander in a foreign country. Fortune had it that after the death of Cnut the Great, or Knut the Mighty as the Norwegians knew him, Cnnut had left a power vaccum after him. England had slipped out of the Danish hands, but most importantly Norway was once more free. However it was under a false King: Magnus "the Good" who were coronated in 1035 as King of Norway and in 1042 as King of Denmark. Harald quickly allied himself with Sweyn Estridsson - later Sweyn II. of Denmark - to gain the Kingdom of Norway for Harald and the Kingdom of Denmark of Sweyn. The duo set out to pillage and harass Danmark, to show the population that they were in control and not Magnus. However this was all a ruse of Harald. With the extreme wealth he had accumulated in the East, Harald bribed the bankrupt son of Olav the Holy. Harald promised to cease his aggression, leave Sweyn behind and give half of his wealth to Magnus - in exchange both would be co-rulers of Norway. Both would be Kings. The reign of Magnus would only last one more year after this, as he suddely died without an heir, leaving Harald as the sole inheritor to the Kingdom of Norway, and became a claimant of Denmark and England as well. However the oppurtunistic Sweyn seized control of Denmark right under the nose of Harald. From 1048 to 1064 Harald would campaign yearly in Denmark to reclaim what was his. Both as a form of revenge against the Kingdom of Cnut the Great and what they did to Norway and his brother Olav the Holy during the early life of Harald, but also Harald dreamed of re-eastablishing said empire that Cnut the Great ruled - the North Sea Empire leaded by a Norwegian King, by him, Harald IV. Hardrada. But as the coward Sweyn II. was, he never confronted Harald and his army. Only two major battles were set out between the major Kingdoms - both times Norway won decisive victories. The first time Sweyn's army jumped into the sea and started to swim, and most drowned, as the superior Norwegian army installed fear deep into their hearts just by the looks of them. The second battle woudl also result in a decisive Norwegian victory, even with most decietful practices from Sweyn. But the yearly raiding and invasions had it's tolls on the Norwegian morale and mostl importantly Harald's wealth. To make things worse, the Danish-centered chiefdoms in the eastern realm didn't pay taxes and threatened with succession and civil war. Harald had to give up his plans to conquer Denmark, and renounce his just claims, as he was the sole inheritor of the Norwegian-Danish King Magnus the Good, on the Kingdom of Denmark.




Harald pillaging lands of Denmark.​

It was the following events, and prior ones, that would earn his nickname as Hardråde - Hardruler. Harald was already well known as the Bulgar Burner after his infamous campgains in Bulgaria. Now he would further "elaborate" on his reputation. To rewind a little, quickly after Harald seized power as the sole ruler of Norway he put himself at odds with the nobility. Not only did he have to prove that he was worthy of the mantle of King, and not only someone who had bribed and bullied himself into such a position. But Norway was at this time quite fractured, with many nobles acting as independent kingdoms. This was especially true for the powerful Lade Jarls in the North. Harald however, outmanuevered the Lade Family at every turn, and without any mercy murdered all who were in his way. Harald IV. soon consolidated power around his ruthless tactics, and marriage alliances (in addition to Elisiv, the daughter of Yaroslav the Wise, Harald married Tora Torbergsdotter, daughter of the mightiest noble family in Norway). His infamous acts however soon lead his realm to civil war. But the lessons he learned in the Greek Empire proved valuable. Not only did he know how to use terror to suit his ends, but he also used his silver tounge and diplomacy to secure peace and centralize power around him. Back to 1064 Harald had already become known as Hardrada, and only he were allowed to have a Hird - a personal and loyal army. Following the tax rebellion of the eastern realms, Harald systemitically lead a campaign against them. Harald vistied each farm and each city. Everyone who disagreed or opposed him would find their lands burned, their kin murdered and themselves maimed. Harald ruled through sheer force, and by these actions enforced realm peace. Ironically Norway would after the countless attrocities after the tax rebellion face a lasting peace. Hardrada was ahead of his time acting as an absolute monarch, however as he centralized power around him, he would also enforce peace and prosperity never seen in Northern Europe. Now however, with all the successes, and the failure of aquiring Denmark, Harald turned his eyes westerwards. West to the island of Albion, the Kingdom of England. During his late days, Edward the Confessor had promised his lands to Magnus the Good and is inheritors in exchange for Magnus to not press his claim for kingship of England, as he was the successor of Cnut the Great - king of the North Sea Empire. Now, Hardrada was the successor of Magnus the Good, and with Edward the Confessor dead, the throne was righfully his...


And elderly Hardrada, ready to conquer England.

As mentioned earlier Hardrada had allied himself with Tostig, former Earl of Northumbria. The pretender king, Harold Godwinesson had disrespected his own kin, and disposed of his own brother Tostig Godwinesson. Tostig had early on sent emmisaries to Norway to negoatiate a deal with Hardrada. Tostig would provide his own personal guard, warriors from Scotland and knowledge of England to stage an invasion. Out of the deal Tostig would gain the Earldom of Northumbria, and he would support Hardrada, which he knew were planing to invade, to become the next true King of England. Right before the invasion, Hardrada stayed with the Jarl of Orkney (which would play a vital part in the invasion of England) in the islands of Shetland and Orkney before meeting up with Tostig on the 8th of September 1066 in Scotland to invade England and it's decadent King Harold II.


Tostig Godwinesson - with abilities like his, one have to wonder why he was ever deposed...

The band of Hardrada went on and rampaged Northern England with little opposition. Whereever they went, they pillaged and burned down cities - using strategies carefully honed by Harald after decades as a feared warrior-king. Village after village succumbed to the Norwegian overmight, and soon after a decisive victory conquering the vital city of York, or Jorvik as the men of the North called it, Harold of England had little choice to face Harald Hardrada. And face him he did, at the opposite ends of Stamford Bridge, their fates would forever be sealed....


A romantic painting of the battle for Stamford Bridge


The giants were ready for a faceoff. The Norwegians would invade in the north of England, with a second incoming wave. However in the south another force were mustering their forces, ready to strike....
 
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ThaHoward

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Damn, Harald was pretty hardcore! Anyway, I've been waiting for someone to try for a Norse England.
After all, those who can't do, read AARs! :p
Yes he was pretty special. And I didn't even take in half of the stories about him :p The Pope himself even sent delegates to him, but Hardrada just threw them out :D That can be a good story point later on :) But alas, even if he and most rulers after him were defacto Heathen (just look at the Norwegian/Kings Crusade, a Viking expedition sponsored by the pope) in game terms they are Catholic. But there are still some Norse left in Sweden and Herjedalen (look at the map, the small independent area between Norway and Sweden) so who knows what may happen ;)

Sorry that was longer than intended.. Glad you liked it and Thank you for reading! Expect the first chapter today or at the end of the weekend! :)
 

ThaHoward

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The Lone Warrior
Clockwise from the left: Tapestry of the Norwegian fleet, drawing of the battle stage (note, that 25th is the Julian calender), and the opposing forces.
It was the 1st of October 1066. The summer had been exceptionally warm, and faced with little opposition Hardrada had ordered his men to leave behind their heavy armor in the boats, this would prove to be a fatal error. Hardrada had taken with him his youngest son Prince Olav to get useful war experience, and left his oldest son Prince Magnus behind. Right before he left he also hailed Magnus as co-king of Norway (allthough the junior partner) and while Hardrada and Olav were conquering, Magnus would rule Norway. Harold Godwinesson had made an astonishing speed march all the way from the cliffs of Dover in the south to face the forces of the pretender William the 'Bastard'. But he never came, instead Hardrada joined by his housecarls and thanes and Tostig with his Scottish and Flemish bands had invaded Northumbria and won a decisive victory over the forces of Yorkshire. No longer facing the anticipated invasion from the south Harold Godwinesson hurried to face Hardrada in the north. In just 4 days Harold II. force marched his men in over 300 km non stop. The English were prepared to defend their homeland against the viciousness of the Norwegian invaders, and never again would they be under a northern king, they were fighting. For a free Englond. For liberty. The Norwegian conquerers were caught completely by surprise, it were some initial skirmishes at the west bank of river of Derwent, however these unprepared and unarmored Norwegians were mostly slaughtered, only a few escaped to the west side of the river of Derwent where the bulk of the invader army were, and Hardrada himself..


The lone warrior holding the bridge for himself.

This was a most fragile moment for Hardrada and his forces. All of his grand plans could now fail in mere minutes. The English army had caught him completely off guard, the Norwegian army were disorganized, had not yet formed a their infamous shieldwall, a significant portion of his forces had been decimiated at the west bank of the river. Worse the bulk of his forces were without armor and shields. They had been left at their ships, and they all had to wait for Øystein and his forces guarding the ships, getting the call to arms. However it would be hours before these vital reinforcements and armor would arrive. For now they had to face the enemy, in disarray, confused and without armor. This looked to be a most glorious victory for Harold II. of England. However at this moment, according to the stories, a giant among the Norwegian ranks rose. He was over two meters tall, strong as a bear and wielded a double bladed axe like it was a butter knife. He pleaded his king to hold the bridge alone. He said that they would all die anyway, but that his legacy is the only thing he had after death. He wanted to alone face the enemy. Hardrada accepted this, and said to him "may God be with you". The Lone Warrior simply replied "what I need is Odin and a seat in Valhalla".

The Lone Warrior then went on to the bridge alone, without armor, harassing the powers from the old gods. Up to this point the Anglo-Saxons were storming in full speed, however at the sight of this giant they shivered and ran back across the bridge even jumping down in the river. Others would not be so lucky to escape, and were thusly cleaved down by the Lone Warrior. Once things had settled, the Lone Warrior shouted with the deepest and most frightful voice ever heard of mankind. It is said that the cliffs of Dover fell down and the mountains of Scotland cracked. He shouted "who dares to face me! Who want to face death! I will take you all to paradise, to your maker, just face me cowards!" For hours the Lone Warrior held the bridge. First the bravest warriors and thanes of the Saxon army faced him in duels one on one. However, in short time there simply were none left who dared to face him. The Saxons then tried to storm him with sheer numbers, but even this failed. Hundreds of English warriors, peasants and housecarls alike, were sent to their deaths. The bodies piled up at the bridge and it is said thebridge almost fell apart because of the weight alone. After a time the English army simply lost their will to fight. At the eastbank of the river the Norwegian army had got a sudden surge of morale and had been chanting "Death, death, death!" the whole time. More importantly they had re-organized, and taken up proper positions and Hardrada and his commanders were boosting the morale of his men. However, disaster struck.

A few cunning and brave English peasants had sneaked under Stamford Bridge with a simple fishing boat. In their blood rush, the Norwegian warriors didn't recognize them, and they piked the Lone Warrior. The pike hit him in the groin, and worked it's way up through his throat. A most gruesome sight. Fear was struck among the invading forces, and the Englishmen who defended their homeland now had the iniative.


Hardrada taking an arrow to his throat

The Lone Warrior had made an immense sacrifice. The forces of Hardrada and Tostig now managed to regroup and that on top of a hill. Harold II. now had to literally fight an uphill battle, and with his back to the river. And more importantly, at least for the warrior, his legacy would be forever sealed. Still the invading Norwegians, Scots and Flems didn't have any heavy armor, and would need to use all their skill for survival and wait for Øysteins reinforcement. A second wave was also incoming from Norway under Jarl Pål of Orkney (Orkneys, Shetlands and Caithness of Scotland proper), but that was still weeks away. Hardrada had to hold just a little longer, waiting for the rest of his forces to arrive. The battle were most gruesome. Blood soaked the otherwise green fields of Albion and the crystal clear river of Derwent were now red, making Biblical stories shun in comparison. It was major losses on both sides. Hardrada as the seasoned warrior he was leaded his forces from the front. He fought valiantly and personally opened hundreds of skulls. The Norwegians slowly pushed the English down from the hill, and over the river and taking the bridge. The Norwegians had regainded lost territory, and could get a breather. It was at this time however, a lone arrow flew through the air as silent as as a hawk eying it's prey - and that prey was Hardrada. The arrow hit him in his throat and he fell down while he was holding a motivational speech, quoting promises of victory, wealth and eternal glory. Hardrada fell. Everyone was in shock, was their warrior king really dead? His most loyal soldiers dragged him away from the scene, his lifeless body was dragged away. All hope was lost. The English pushed on. The Earl of Mercia, a famed warrior, pushed on the attack to retake the bridge and push on to take the hill while they had the momentum.


Tapestry of the battle of Stamford Bridge.
The English fought on, slaughtering the Norwegians in the hundreds. They were ready to cut finally cut down the Norwegians and the Traitor Tostig. To beat the men of the north once and for all. The battle raged on for several hours. Neither side getting any noteworthy gains. The Norwegians regrouped themselves and were once again holding the high ground. After hours, with massive bloodsheds on both sides, horns sounded in. Øystein had finally arrived with the rest of the forces. The Norwegians finally got the rest of their invading forces, which quickly got to the front and established a shield wall. The torn out soldiers of the initial hours got to the back and re-armored themselves and re-conditioned before arriving yet again into the fray of the battle. Now the Norwegians were finally again in numerical superiority, and with fresh troops. However they had lost their King, lost their cause. Harold Godwinesson encoruaged them to give up. However soon a loud voice sounded, sending shivers down the spine of Harold Godwinesson: "No! I am Hardrada, the King of Norway and the King of Engaland. I am known as Harald the Bulgar-Burner. And soon I will be known as Harald the Saxon-Burner.. Now my men, my band of brothers, fight. Fight to death, fight to eternal glory 'cos this is our finest hour. To Valhalla!". With renewed energy the Norwegians army pushed forward. And Harold Godwinesson sounded the retreat. The battle at the bridge itself was over. But the battle would continue on for days, and the struggle, the struggle had just started..


The continuing battle in Nottingham, and the relief from Jarl Pål coming from the east. Also a testament to the battle prowess of Hardrada.

The battle would rage on. However this time it wouldn't be a major engagement like Stamford Bridge. Harold were on a retreat, pursued by Hardrada. Harold Godwinesson would retreat out of Northumbria, much to the delightment of Tostig, and into the Earldom of Mercia. For days it would only be minor engagements, with hit and run tactics from both sides probing each side (which at this time was roughly at the same size). In November however, the opposing kings would again soon clash in full force around Nottingham. Hardrada proved his worth as a warrior in the eyes of the Norwegian Warlords and warriors, as he personally slain hundreds of Saxons (and while still wounded). However, the Norwegians were still in bad shape from the previous engagement at Stamford Bridge, while the English had gotten the home field advantage getting supplies and fresh soldiers from the countryside of Leichester. However had it not been for the detirmination of Hardrada and Tostig, the battle would be over. They fought a futile attempt to get into the fort of Nottingham, but sheer will made the impossible possible. They had to wait for the Jarl of Østeyar to arrive with his 4200 men, and to completely the loop around Harold's neck. And arrived he did..


The aftermarth of the battles, occupation of southern Northumbria, or "Jarldom of Jorvik", and potrait of Jarl Pål of Østeyar.

When Pål came with his band of warriors from Orkney and Norway the army of Harold quickly routed. The battle of Stamford Bridge and Nottingham were finally over. It had raged on from 1st of October to the 27th of November. The fighting in Nottingham alone raged from 7th of November to the 27th. It had claimed thousands of lives, and the invader army were severly crippled, as the English army had the advantage of getting supplies and men directly from their own lands. However the addition of Jarl Pål turned the tide, and Hardrada and Chief Brynjulf took command of these forces to hunt down Harold Godwinesson. Jarl Pål would go with Tostig and Prince Olav to lay siege of York. Hardrada would for weeks pursue Harold, however he got words that the Bastard Pretender had landed south in Hastings, and were laying siege to the strategic important city of London. Hardrada didn't want to provoke Duke William, and hoped that he would engage with Harold for him. So he went back up north, and laid siege to the rest of southern Northumbria, meanwhile claiming himself to be Jarl of Jorvik. This would in effect cut the Earldom of Northumbria in half, which would later on greatly anger Tostig. Here Hardrada used the tactics he learned in his campaigns as a Varangian and his campaigns in eastern Norway. He would ruthlessly burn down every village which did not swear falty to him, and maim everyone who did not pay taxes to him. He wanted the population of Northumbria to see that Harold and the Earl of Northumbria couldn't protect them, and only by siding with Hardrada and Tostig would the terror end. During the next months, Hardrada would use his silver tounge and thought marriage convince the Kings of Sudreyar (Hebrides), Denmark (which had his own interest in a weak England..) and Svea (parts of Sweden) to join him in his struggle. In January of 1067 the Danish King Sweyn would assist Hardrada with 3400 men, in April Sudreyar would invade Northumbira with 1700 men, the Svea King would assist Jarl Pål and Prince Olav with 4600 men. The situation was indeed hopeless for Harold and the Anglo-Saxons of Albion.


The battle of Gainsborough.

The 23rd of February 1067 Earl Eadwin of Mercia, the Earl of East Anglia and King Harold would yet again face off with the invading army. This time Hardrada had built a fort at a vital choke point just outside of Gainsborough. And Hardrada had just 4000 men defending this choke point. The nobles of England had mustered the final amount of peasants and housecarls into their army, and hoped to trap and defeat Hardrada once and for all. Hardrada gambled that Harold were busy fighting the Bastard Pretender and re-take the important city of London and lands of Middlesex. Harold once again surprised Hardrada. Everything seemed to go in Harold's favor, however the Norwegian King had prepared for this, and had pre-established a communication line to get the army of his son Olav and King Erik II. of Sweden to his fort. Harold had hoped for a quick victory, however it ended up in a prolonged siege, and within days he was caught by surprise when 17000 men came in from the north, effectively ending the battle. Harold went in with just over 6000 men, not even 3000 would return. And one of them were Earl Eadwin of Mercia. He was perhaps the most powerful ruler in all of England after King Harold himself. Now he was captured. And Hardrada who was raised as a Byzantine Despot showed no mercy. He threatened the young Earl with a life in the dungeon personally blinded and castrated by Hardrada himself. All he had to do to live in house arrest in his great hall, and his testicles intact, were to swear fealty to Hardrada. So the once mighty realm of Mercia was now completely at the mercy of the Norwegian overlords. Now as Northumbria had succumbed to the Norwegian terror, with Tostig installed as Earl of Northumbria, and Mercia also fell to the Norwegians the Anglo-Saxon nobility panicked. They must have felt a cold shiver go down their spines, as they saw the old borders of the Danelaw form under an unstoppable Northern Army.


The vast invasion army of Duke William of Normandy - mostly consisting of deadly knights.

To make matters worse the Duke of Normandy had won battle after battle in the south, and started his gruesome occupation of the Crownlands of Wessex and the Earldom of Kent. In an futile attempt, Harold and the Anglo-Saxon nobles tried to vrest Northumbria out of Hardrada's iron fist. Like the last time, they thought they would catch the invading army off guard, sending 5200 Saxons to 4700 Norwegians. However history repeated itself, and it was all a ruse from Hardrada. Behind a ridge yet another 10000 warriors awaited led by his son Olav, and the battle was over. Harold retreated, but in May of 1068 he was forced by the Witan council, and the lords of Mercia and Northumbria, to give up his crown to Hardrada. As they saw it, Hardrada would give them a fighting chance against William the Bastard. And they were like Sweyn oppurtunistic. As Sweyn thought that an England under Hardrada would be weaker than united under Harold, the Saxon nobility thought it would be easier to re-take England from the aging Norwegian King. One also have to keep in mind the terror regime put in place by Hardrada in Northumbria persuaded the Saxon nobles to sue for peace, and the threat of an invasion from Mercia. If they sued for peace now the old Earldoms and nobility of England could be preserved. The Norman Bastard on the other hand had already started to hand out estates, land and titles to the conquering Norman-French nobility.Thusly Hardrada was hailed by the Witan Council as King of England. However the war was not over. As in the south the Normans were still powerful. They had occupied the rich territories of Wessex and Kent, and had gathered over 10 000 men in London at the far side of Thames. This was just the beginning.


Hail Harald III. the true King of England!
 
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ThaHoward

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There! Finally the first update have been posted! Except later today a "flavour chapter" detailing the political situation of Norway. It won't be necessary, but it can be interesting to look at and useful to understand future politicking and power struggles in the cold kingdom. Also expect another update about Hardrada in 1-3 days.

About this update: I chose to focus mostly around the Battle of Stamford Bridge considering how important it was IRL. For some reason the AI didn't attack me to trigger the battle for stamford bridge (which almost always end up in the war ending) so I attacked them instead in the county of Leichester. This triggered the battle for Nottingham, however taken into consideration of the length of the battle I chose to write the story as the battle really happening in Stamford Bridge and ending with a siege of Nottingham. I chose to start it 1st of October, and while the battle raged during the 25th of September IRL, that was the Julian calender, and with our calender it would be the 1st of October.

Of other gameplay notes: -I married my daughters off to Denmark and Sweden and allied them, pulling them into the war. Sudreyar were already in a non aggression pact with me. I however didn't ally them before after the battle of nottingham. -Since I haven't played this game after shattered retreat was implemented, I actually did follow Harold's armies over some countys before occupying Lincoln again. -It did happen two major battles in the county of Lincoln, and both times I baited the English with a smaller army and sent the major army in York to assist them once the battle started. -Of occupied territory I only occupied the counties of York, Northumbria and Durham. However in story all of Northumbria fell. The Duke of Mercia were arrested, I didn't occupy Mercia, but I felt it was in charcter of Hardråde to bully the Mercia into submission. Lastly William the Bastard (maybe the conquerer?) "only" occupies the county of Oxford and Middlesex (London). However, given the time from his invasion in October (IRL) to May 1068 I felt it was better fitting to make him story wise occupy all of Wessex and Kent - especially considering the total collapse of Harold Godwin. Game wise I start the conflict with William with -38% in war score and our armies are roughly equal with allies. Without allies he is stronger.

Hoped you enjoyed it! :)
 
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ThaHoward

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Backstory: Norway 101
A short introduction to the history of Norway, and the political situation of 1066.


Norway was first united under Harald Hårfagre - Harald Fairhair. He gained his nickname, as he promised to never cut his beard or hair before he united all of Norway. It isn't exactly established when he united Norway, but it is estimated that he united it in ca. 872 and ruled the Kingdom to his death in 932. It would be through diplomacy and warfare Fairhair would unite all of the Norwegian petty kings, jarls and chiefs under his High Kingship. The eastern part of Norway had also been dominated by the Dane Petty King of Sjælland. Alltough he united all of Norway, after his death the High-Kingdom fractured, with his sons fighting over power, and the petty kings once more warring eachother for power.


Petty Kingdoms before unification. Red being Fairhairs own kingdom.

Division of Norway after Fairhair. Yellow being various lands assigned to Fairhair's kinsmen, and red being the realm of the High-King.



The four seats of power in Norway in 1066, the West, Trøndelagen, the East and Jemtland.
Fast forward to 1066. Ever since the unification of Fairhair, Norway had been on paper a single Kingdom. However, it had been again and again been subject to infighting, and conquest by the Danish crown. However Harald Hardråde would consolidate the realm during his reign. He did have quite aggressive ways of consolodating his power, but his reign up until 1066 was indeed an era of peace and no infighting. He however did finally crack down upon the various petty kings in the east, and oust Danish influence out of the eastern realm that had traditionally been under Danish influence. He would also oust the powerful Lade Jarls from Trøndelagen, and install his son Magnus in their place. In the eastern realm, he would replace the various Danish loyal Chiefs and Jarls with his own son Olav. It was here he would personally maim and burn those who didn't pay him taxes. The Western realm would still have self ruling Chiefs pleding their alligiance to the Norwegian King seated in Nidaros and Oslo. In the border area of Jemtland-Herjedalen, Herjedalen had swored their fealty to the Hardrada, but were mostly indepdent minded. Jemtland were still indepdent, and they were ruled by a Norse Jarl. North of Scotland however were perhaps the most powerful figure after the Hardrada clan: the Jarl of Orkney.



Pål and his Jarldom. The red ring being the islands under Hardradas possession.

Jarl Pål of Orkney was a powerful figure - despite being a hunchback which normally would have meant the end for a Norwegian Jarl. Pål however overcame, and was now in 1066 the stronest indepdent Jarl in Norway. He also served as the Marshal of Hardrada's army, being the highest commander in the Kingdom of Norway after Hardrada himself. However, Pål was mostly loyal to the Bishop of Nidaros (Bishop of Norway as a whole) rather than the King. He was therefore a potential troublemaker in the stabled Kingdom of Norway, as Hardrada was known to not be on the good side of the Church, but was rather working against it to gain power for himself and centralize power around him. To further add upon the conflict, Pål desired the Faroese islands under the direct control of Hardrada. Pål meant that these islands were withhin the natural borders of his Jarldom. Pål also knew of Hardradas campaigns against the Lade Jarls and Jarls in the east. He feared that Hardrada would soon turn his focus to him, seizing all the islands for himself. For now however, it were peace between the last Jarl of Norway and it's King. Pål proved to be a vital and loyal subject to the King when he assisted him in his hour of need. And Pål needed Hardrada to protect his Jarldom from the Scottish savages.


Prince Olav and his realm. The red area is Hedmark, which were under the rule of his elder brother Magnus co-King of Norway.

In the Eastern Realm Olav ruled. It was here Hardrada in 1064 brought upon a terror reign. It was in this area the population had traditionally been loyal to Dane King, and not the Norwegian. However this was the richest area in Norway. Not only did it have vast areas suitable for agriculture (something that lacked elsewhere), but it was also an important trade hub. The trade from the baltics and to Europe went thorugh the sound of Skagerak. The Danish king controlled this trade route from his base in Sjælland, however Hardrada founded the city of Oslo, and started to challenge the traditional trade power the Danish King enjoyed. Hardrada would also make this his second capital. Nidaros would rule over the western part, while Oslo would rule over the eastern part. Beside from ruling Oslo and the land surrounding it, Hardrada gave the East to his sons. To the newly hailed King Magnus he gave Hedmark as a vassal. His younger son Olav would also be given the traditional capital of Viken, in addition to the rest of the East, signaling th at he would soon be king. Trouble was however brewing.. Olav desired Hedmark for himself and to be the sole ruler of the East and Norway. And in return Hedmark also wanted independence, and perhaps even depose of the pubertal Olav. The Danish King Sweyn would also never forget how he had been humiliated by Hardrada during his campaigns in Denmark, and for Hardrada to challenge his position of dominatng the trade in the Skagerak sound was unaccepteble. For now Olav were following his father into war in England. But who knows what might happen once he return.


Young King Magnus, and his personal realm in red borders.

The brother of Olav was Magnus. Or King Magnus of Norway. Magnus was hailed King of Norway by Hardrada when Hardrada and Olav embarked to their great journey. King Magnus would rule over Norway as a co-King. This would give valuable experience to Olav and prevent anyone from seizing control over Norway in Hardradas absence, let it be any of the Norwegian nobles, the King Sweyn of Denmark or perhaps even Magnus himself. Magnus ruled over the remainder of the lands of the once mighty Lade Jarls. He also ruled over northern norway and Herjedalen. This could prove to be more troublesome, as the peasants of northern Norway and Herjedalen refused to give up the old Gods, and had hated the Norwegian kings eer since Hardradas brother Olav christianized Norway though brute force. And they all knew very well that Hardrada had fought for his brother Olav the Holy which were a tyrant in their eyes. It would also be more complicated as the Jarl of Jemtland desired Herjedalen for himself, and had close ties to the King in Uppland who were also Norse. Now, if Hardrada would die, conflict might also erupt between the brothers, who would both become kings after their fathers death, and who would both desire to be the only king..


The four chiefdoms of the West.

Chief Bryjulf.

The West Realm was still pretty much the same as it had been before Hardrada came to power. The western chiefs had survived partly because they chose to be pragmatic and align themselves with Hardrada and partly since it had such a harsh terrain to enter and claim control over, but mostly since the nobles in the West had seen what Hardrada had done to the once mighty Lade Family (which ruled Norway for many generations) who fancied themselfs Jarls and the rulers in the East. They simply bowed their knees to the Hard Ruler. Before Hardrada came to power the rulers of the West liked to claim themselves as kings and jarls. Hardrada's only demand was theat they gave up their titles of Jarl and Kings, and istead adopted the titles of Chiefs. It was mostly a symbolic gesture, but it did show the clear absolutic policies of Hardrada; only he was the King, and only he could decide who were Jarls. This also went against the tradition of the nobility being free ruling. They however had for the time being had to accept the overlordship of Hardrada, but each of the rulers wanted to carve out their own Jarldom and one day rival Pål of Orkney, or perhaps challenging the King himself. The West were msotly dominated by four chiefdoms. Each of them had again various forts under them. The Chiefs were: Brynjulf of Bergenshus, Svein of Rogaland, Lodin of Agder and Jon of Telemark. Of these chiefs it was Brynjulf who were the most powerful. Not only did he control the trade from Europe to western and northern Norway and to Iceland, but he was also a most treasured advisor Hardrada had in his court and whereever he went. He also joined Hardrada to his campaign in England, and would be an commanding officer. But during a heated debate with Hardrada about the direction of the campaign, Hardrada became so furios that he mortally wounded Brynjulf for the rest of the campaign, even when he showed loyalty to his king. For now the west were fractured, but if it were united under one Jarl, it could be powerful enough to challenge the Clan of Hardrada.



The Religious schism of Norway in 1066. Jamtland and Herjedalen still being Norse, with support from the Swedish norse rulers. Northern Norway were still Norse.

That was the state of Norway in 1066 and it's nobility. Mostly it consisted of a strong Jarl in Orkney who wanted to go a different way than Hardrada, putting him at odds with the King. In the East it was rebellious thoughts, and Denmark wanted it for it's monetary value as a trade hub. Jemtland were still Norse, and refused Norwegian overlordship, and wanted to liberate their Norse brothers in Herjedalen, with the help of the King of Uppland and the Jarls of Västerbotten and Ängermanland. The West t were still fractured, but had it's own rulers. And the strongest one, controlling the trade along Norway and to Iceland, had just had a major fight with Hardrada and been humiliated. Lastly it was the two brothers. IIt may be peace now, but looking at the history leading up to Hardrada, it was usual for the sons of a ruler to fight deadly civil wars for who were going to be the sole ruler. But for now, Hardrada had the situation back home in control, and his eyes were turned to the west. To the riches of England.
 

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So did he not really get shot, or is he just that hardcore that he doesn't need a throat?
 

ThaHoward

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This looks fun! Good luck :) Will be following this.
Thank you! :) Hope you like it.
So did he not really get shot, or is he just that hardcore that he doesn't need a throat?
IRL he got shot and died. In game he did get wounded. Maybe he did get shot and somehow survived, or maybe it was a strafe shot? On the other hand, the sagas and chronicles are notorious for exaggeration. So what really happened is up to you ;) But he did get wounded at the very least. And can you tell me who was in the picture you sent? Something might happen to Ireland soon :p

And expect a new update tommorow! :)
 
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The Two Great Lions

The coat of arms of William (left) and Hardrada (right).

Clockwise from the right: Duke WIlliam the Bastard, coronation of William, Archbishopric of York and Stigand the Archbishop of Canterbury.
Hardrada might have defeated Harold Godwinesson and persuaded the - remaining - Saxon Lords to elect him as King of England. However the struggle for England had just started. Duke William the Bastard of Normandy also claimed the throne to England. While Hardrada claimed the throne because of a written down agreement between the Norwegian King Magnus I. and the English King Harthacnut that if either king died without an heir the other would inherit his kingdom. And this did indeed happen when Harthacnut died heirless. Edward the Confessor however stole the throne right under the nose Magnus I. Hardrada in turn inheritated Magnus I. claim on the throne. William's claim was just as, if not more, dubious. He laid his claim upon an oral agreement between him and Edward - the only witness being William himself. Nevertheless right after Hardrada and Tostig invaded England to reclaim their lost land, William invaded the south of England landing in the Earldom of Kent. After Stamford Bridge Harold rushed to fight off the Bastard Pretender in Hastings. Harold however had an already weakened army, just short of 6000 men, were unable to defend against the 13000 strong Norman army. Harold would on the other hand weaken William's host as he lost some 3000 men. Still Harold retreated and focused to gather troops to fight off Hardrada, the rest is history..


Green being lords loyal to Hardrada. Red lords loyal to William. Red stripes, occupied Wessex.

It was during this time, when Harold continued to fight off Hardrada in the north, that William sealed his powerbase. William quickly went on to occupy all of Middlesex and the important city of London. Following the Norwegian occupation of Mercia and York the Earl of Kent pleaded his alligiance to the Duke of Normandy. Soon events spiraled. Following the collapse and defeat of Harold the ambitious Count Cenwulf of Wiltshire broke free from Wessex (crown lands of Harold) and took the County of Oxford with him. As the Earl of Kent he swore fealty to William the Bastard hailing him as King. In return for hus loyalty William awarded Cenwulf the title of Dux au Hwicce - Duke of Hwicce, Hwicce being an ancient Saxon Kingdom. It was also during this time that the nobles of Cornwall broke free from the Saxon yoke and swore fealty to Hardrada instead of the Norman Duke. Events would soon spiral further and further out of control and in favor of William. Even with the decision of the Witan council to coronate Hardrada as King, the Archbishop of York refused to do so. Furios Hardrada deposed of the Archbishop and proclaimed a man loyal to Hardrada the new Archbishop which in turn hailed Hardrada as King of England. In the south the Lords loyal to William claimed they were now the true Witan Council, and followed it up by using Stigand the Archbishop of Canterbury (placed in the Earldom of Kent) and the former Archbishop Ealdred of York to coronate William as King. To make matters worse for Hardrada the Pope in all is decadency, which had sanctioned the Norman invasion, refused to acknowledge Hardrada as the true king and said that it was the will of God to have William rule the lands of the English. Hardrada on the other hand was an old enemy of the Church and he was no stranger to using violence to meet his needs, and he refused to lay down his claim of the English crown. As a contemporary priest wrote at that time: "The two Great Lions eyed it's prey, the prey being the once proud Dragon of Wessex. They swallowed their prey from each side whole, until they met face to face. It was now the real last great battle would begin, the duel between the two Great Lions".


Normans driving the Norwegians on a flight across the country. Battle of Walthalm between Hardrada and the Breton Band. A Norman knight and a Breton warrior. Note the much heavier armor of the Norman.

Hardrada soon found himself once more on the road to war. However this time he recognized the overmight of his adversary. He ordered his warriors who he had called upon to war to return home to their lands - hoping to later on call on upon even more troops - disbanding some 2000 men. Hardrada still had a sizable force with 7000 of his personal guard and 2000 from the Danish King Sweyn. The Normans on the other hand used tactics and knights that far surpassed any country in the Northern or Anglo-Saxon world, so Hardrada didn't dare to face Norman Duke yet on the battlefield. The entire summer Hardrada marched around England closely pursued by William. During this time William had employed Breton mercenaries, promising them gold and glory, to invade the Earldom of East-Anglia. Hardrada gambled this time and faced the Breton Band in Walthalm. Hardrada wished to show his soldiers that rew restless that he was still strong and in lead - and most importantly the restless Saxon Nobility. Earl Morcar of Northumbria refused to give away his title of Earl of Northumbria to Tostig even if Tostig controlled most of Northumbria. Hardrada had also created the Jarldom of Jorvik for himself, hoping this to be the seat of power in England. Morcar in his arrogance however also claimed himself to be the Earl of York. He followed up by openly schemed to become the King of England. Hardrada needed to desperately show that he was in fact the Stern Ruler people claimed him to be. He then took the gamble to face off the Bretons, at the risk of getting into the trap set by William. The Normans hoped to rush into the battle and finally crush Hardrada. Hardrada on the other hand won a decisive victory in Walthalm on the 27th of July 1068, and let no Breton come out of the battle alive. Hardrada might have beaten the mere 1500 strong Breton Army, but the Norman Knights counting ten thousand three hundred still remained. And they would not give up without a fight. Hardrada once more went on the run, hoping the seasoning to soon go over, and to wait for the incoming winter.


The Celtic Coalition, led by the Welsh Bleddyn of Gwynedd.
During the duel between the two lions a third lion rose. Earl Domnall of Airgalla, an Irish petty Earl, saw Hardrada as a great threat. He had heard stories, and seen for himself, of Norse lords pillaging and conquering lands in Eire. He feared that Hardrada would use his sudden expansion and subjucation of the once mighty Saxon Lords to fuel a campaign to subjucate all of Eire. Domnall rallied most of the petty Earls and Kings of Ireland behind his personal demand to Hardrada "Just stay on the right island". Such boldness impressed most of the Irish lords, and they agreed upon his cause. Soon the ancient enemy of England, the Welish lords, joined the coalition too. King Bleddyn of Gwynedd took the mantle of leadership. Under his banner, the crest of a lion, he and the coalition swore that if Hardrada and his men set foot in the sacred lands of Cymru or Eire, they would together release their fury on the defiler. The Coalition also made one other crucial decision, to let the Duke of Normandy freely enter their territories and get support in terms of arms, food and water from the Celtic Lords. This would prove to be a blessing for William the Bastard, but a thorn in the side of Hardrada. Hardrada was humiliated, and he would never forget that.


The battle for St. Pauls.


Over the summer Hardrada would continue to delay the inevitable confrontation. Not only were he pressed from his men to engage the enemy, the rebellious "Earl" Morcor of Northumbria, but his finances went dry. Hardrada had used all his personal wealth in his invasion, and had to burrow a substantial amount of coins from Jewish bankers. This was seen as a most serious sin by the Church, which further deepened the conflict between Hardrada and the Clergy. However winter set in, and Hardrada recalled his peasant army from both England and Norway. They set out to liberate the former Roman city of London from the Normans. William soon pressed on and find himself confronting Hardrada in the fields of Middlesex. Initially it was only light skirmishes and feint attacks from both sides for weeks. But during Christmas Hardrada took advantage of the pious William and attacked him right during the Mass itself. William and his most loyal followers were in the church of St. Pauls praying for Christmas peace. William and the Normans were completely caught off guard and couldn't comprehend that some would make war on such a holy day! To make matter worse neither the soldiers nor the horses were accostumed in the art of winter warfare. The Norwegians however lived in a country with 7 months of severe winter a year. The outcome was a decisive victory for Hardrada. Even the heavy Norman knights wouldn't tip the balance off power - only prolong it. The battle would rage on to the 30th of December, right before the new year. Hardrada proclaimed that "this year was a red Christmas, and the finest there have ever been". At the start of the confrotation both sides had around eleven thousand warriors. The Normans had hoped to use their vastly superior knights and tactics to defeat the savage Norwegians. In the end it showed that it was Hardrada and his generals that mastered the battlefield. Over five thousand five hundred Normans laid lifeless in the halls of St. Pauls and the fields of Middlesex. The Norwegian and English merely counted for 1400 bodies. This was a severe blow to William the so called King of England. William went with the tail between his legs and retreated across to the Welsh lands Hardrada would now start to liberate Middlesex. In the north of England Hardrada had used brute force and a reign of terror to succumb the Saxon people. Now on the other hand he would show how adaptive and cunning he were. Now he would help the Anglo-Saxon people and it's nobles, who had suffered under the harsh occupation and war making himself look like a liberator and benevolent ruler. In the end of April 1069 London and Middlesex were finally free with the last remnants of Norman soldiers wiped from existance.


The Battle fo Bristol, and the fall of the Earl of Kent.

Duke William would lick his wounds in Wales like a wounded animal. However William for unknown reasons traveled back to his court in Normandy and let his brother continue the campaign. Soon after the winter were over the Norman knights once more crossed into England. During the hot summer day of 1st of June 1069 the Norman forces were crushed in the battle of Bristol. The Normans had hoped to gain victory with new arms and weapons, months of reconditioning and a replenished army. However they did not count upon Hardrada managing to muster the English levies, and Hardrada now commanded a significant force not to be trifled with. To further worsen the case for the once proud Normans Hardrada had taken into extensive training to master the flat terrain of England. In short the battle of Bristol were a disaster for the Normans, and they were now just short of 3500 men. It was during this time Hardrada also sent his Marshal Jarl Pål of Orkney to arrest the traitorous Earl of Kent, or Duke of Kent as he was called now. Leofwine were now rotting in the dungeons - William had lost a valuable ally. Once more the Normans fled like headless hens over to the hills of Wales. More importantly Hardrada finally secured his position as King of England in accordance with Anlo-Saxon customs. He forced the Archbishop Ealdred of York to resign as Archbishop and make Hardrada's puppet the new Archbishop. Stigand of Canterbury would also renounce William's coronation and proceeded by crowning Hardrada in Westminister. Yet another Saxon Earl had fallen into the shackles of Hardrada, and the Norwegian King tigthened his grip upon the Church - planting the first seeds of a future conflict.


The Battle of Stafford and Evesham. And the capture fo the great Norman Marshal.

The Normans would once again assault from the Welsh hills. This time they assaulted the capital of Mercia on the 1st of October - hoping to liberate the Mercian Earl and bringing Mercia to their side of the war. The assault would turn into a siege, which would develop into a lengthy one and soon the Normans had to find themselves under siege from the powerful Norwegian army. The Battle of Stafford would rage on until the 2nd of January 1070. The Normans were vastly outnumbered and famished and their forces finall broke together. In the midst of battle a Commander named Torgeir would personally capture the Norman Marshal Odo de Conteville - the brother of Duke William himself. For this great deed Torgeir would be given the lands of Dunholm and hailed as count of Dunholm. Another commander who showed prowess were Chief Jon of Telemark. Jon had been at the side of Hardrada and Torgeir since they first campaigned against William, and rumors had it he would be granted Jarlship of all of the West in Norway. For now the Normans once again fled over to Wales, and made a futile attempt to catch the Norwegian by surprise in January. The battle of Evesham would however prove to be a complete disaster and the all of the once mighty Norman invasion army were now wiped away. Hardrada would soon turn his attention to Oxford, to liberate it from the Duke of Hwicce. The 17th of August Duke William II. 'the Bastard' of Normandy and King Harald IV. 'Hardrada' of Norway signed a peace treaty. The Norman duke would pay a substantial amount of money as war reperations and give up his claim as king of England and recognize Hardrada as the true King. William on the other hand wouldn't keep up to his word, and still claimed to be the King - backed up by the Pope himself. After almost 3 years since Tostig and Hardrada set their feet in England, the war were finally over. Now it was time to rebuild the two great Kingdoms, and to cement his hold over the restless Saxon nobility.


The runestone Hardrada erected and his coronation.

Hardrada would soon erect a runestone near Stamford Bridge, proclaiming his victory to all of etirnity. What would happen next? Hardrada was a special character, already at the age of 13 he had first joined war. Now he was 54 and up until now he had lived a life of constant warfare. And his throne was far from secured. It was still the restless saxon nobility of the Earls of Northumbria and East-Anglia and the Duke of Hwicce. The Normans had still not given up their claim on the throne. The Pope also refused to recognize Hardrada as the true King, only deepening the hostility the Clergy and the Norwegian Crown had to eachother. And Hardradas ally Sweyn of Denmark also had an interest of securing the English throne for himself. The tales of Hardrada had just begun.

The realm of Hardrada in 1070.



 
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ThaHoward

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Phew one more done! They sure do take a long time to write.

To be more specific about certain events:
-The Duke of Kent and Duke of Hwicce weren't in game loyal to William. However both had their own plots going on so I arrested the Duke of Kent with my Marshal to surpress a revolt with a 50% chance. So I found it story wise likely that the Duke of Kent were on the side of William and therefore got arrested. The same with Hwicce, I wrote it as they broke free from Wessex, but in fact it was Wessex who granted him the duchy of Hwicce and Oxford as a vassal. But again I thought it made sense, so I could have a reason to arrest him later on (in game it was justified by him scheming). Oxford were occupied in game by William, so in story that is how the Duke of Hwicce gained it. Both instances could lead to civil war, further supporting the story.

-Cornwall did break free from Harold when he no longer were King and the two counties became vassals of me. I then took it as a natural step in the breakdown of Harold's demense following his imprisonment and the occupatiof the Normans.

-The part of where the church play into the politics is just fantasy. However the king in england did indeed had to be crowned by the Archbishop of York. And if you look at the Norman invasion of England, you will find that it was indeed lots of trouble with these two Archbishops. Also when I took England I got the county of York, and then made a bishopric there. In story I simulated that with the ousting of the Saxon Archbishop and the inaguration of a puppet bishop. The Pope did IRL sanction William's invasion, and since William still have a string claim on England in game, I made it so that it is the Pope who support him. Not only since Hardrada went against the Pope in real life, but also to lay foundations for later conflict with the church. So the g of what the Church do is just fantasy to add up to a potential future conflict - except for that me making a Norwegian bishop in York.

-I did stand down my levies to save money and make them replenish. This made me flee from the Normans all over England :p I did gamble at taking down their Breton mercenaries. And after a time I got bored, and mustered my troops and stood my ground - and actually won As the story say, the heavy knights of the Normans were excepional and prolonged the battle. In story it was onyl skirmishes fron November 27th, in game the battle started then.

-The Duke of Northumbria did found a faction and invited the Duke of Kent. The faction is to install himself as a King of England. Tostig is the count of Northumbria, or the Earl as it say. The Duke of Northumbria is also the Duke of York. The reaosn he have these two titles is that I simply didn't revoke them. Story wise however I play it out as Hardrada claiming to be Jarl of Jorvik and Tostig Earl of Northumbria. Now this can again lead to further conflict when I ask for revocation in game of the two duchies.

-I did get a coalition against me, but during the war they didn't play a role. However after each route the Nromans fled to Wales. I thought it was a good addition to let them rebuild in a hostile Wales - creating further conflicts down the road.

-Other things: William somewhy didn't join as a commandeer. I checked itm and he was overseeing construction for the King of France :p I did capture his brother. I also nearly went bankrupt, and in the end I did get bankrupt. Fortunately I got over 600 coins when William surrendered :D
 
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Deaghaidh

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That picture is a much later, romanticized view of Brian Boru. One would expect even an ignorant Finn-Gall marauder like Hardrada would recognize him.

And yes, his crest is yet another set of lions.
 

ThaHoward

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That picture is a much later, romanticized view of Brian Boru. One would expect even an ignorant Finn-Gall marauder like Hardrada would recognize him.

And yes, his crest is yet another set of lions.
Seriously what is it with Europeans and lions? :p
 

mike the knight

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ThaHoward

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Hello! Time for another "flavor chapter". This is also one of the more boring ones explaining the political situation of England in 1066. Hopefully it will help cast some light into the situation of Tostig wanting to reclaim Northumbria, Hardrada carving out the Jarldom of Jorvik and so on.

Earls and Kings of Englaland

The five Earldoms of England in 1066. Note that Cornwall and Northampton were vassals under Wessex - King Harold II. of England.

The two great families in 1066, the sons of Gowin and the House of Hwicce.
In 1066 Anglo-Saxon England were divided into five Earldoms which were the equaliants to Duchies in continental Europe - these Earldoms were in turn the former Kingdoms that united to form the Kingdom of England. It was first Alfred the Great of Wessex who took upon himself the task of uniting the Saxon Kingdoms of England to face against the vicious Heathen armies hailing from the north. Alfred would make himself the dominating power, but it would be his son Edward the Elder that became the first king of England. Nevertheless it was Wessex that became the ruling body in England and which would lead England. In 1066 the last King of the House of Wessex - Edward the Confessor - would die heirless and Harold Godwinesson would inherit the Earldom of Wessex and be crowned as King of England.

Now in 1066 most of the old dynasties of Anglo-Saxon England were no more, only two were left standing: The Sons of Godwin and the House of Hwicce.


The personal land of King Harold II. of England. The Earldom of Wessex in red borders. In yellow borders the lands that would cede as the Duchy of Hwicce during the Norman invasion of England.

Harold Godwinesson was the son of the powerful Earld Godwin of Wessex. Godwin had married the Danish noblewoman Gytha who were sister in law of Cnut the Great which ruled England and Denmark at that time. Godwin was an avid supporter to Cnut the Great and loyal to death. For this Godwin were rewarded the Earldom of Wessex which traditionally were ruled by the Lords of the House of Wessex. Harold would also like his father rise to power and become a powerful nobleman. In 1045 Harold would becoem the Earl of East Anglia and mostly took upon the task to protect England from invasion from Magnus the Good whom claimed all of England after Harthacnuts death. After his father Godwin's death Harold would inherit the Earldom of Wessex, even if Edward the Confessor -- head of House Wessex --would assume the crown of England after Harthacnut died heirless - sparking the succesion crisis between England and Norway, which would culminate at Stamford Bridge. Harold was now without any doubt the most powerful figure in England ruling the rich lands of Wessex. When his brother Tostig doubled the taxes in Northumbria the nobles of Northumbria would rise up against Tostig. Rather than supporting his own kin Harold would help Morcar become Earl, in order to support his claim as the rightful heir to Edward the Confessor. This would in turn lead to Tostig seeking an alliance with Hardrada himself.. The 5th of January the elder king Edward the Confessor would sleep in and already the day after Harold were proclaimed as King of England of the Witan Council. However this lead to Harald Hardrada of Norway and William of Normandy putting their plans into motion..


Clockwise from the left: Earldom of Northumbria. Earl Morcar of Northumbria. Tostig Godwinesson. Tostig out hunting with his brother Harold upon hearing the news of losing Northumbria. Morcar taking the throne of Northumbria.

Tostig was the third son to the powerful Earl Godwin. He would reign in Northumbria for only a decade from 1055-1065. After Tostig and his father secured power in Northumbria, by the blessing of Edward the Confessor, Tostig would implement harsh and very unpopular laws in his Earldom. These laws would be known as the "martial laws" and everyone who spoke up against his authority or challenged him in any way would be punished most severly. This made him a hated man in Northumbria. Tostig would try to further tighten his grip upon the Northumbrian Earldom by simply murdering most of the great nobles in the northern Earldom. Tostig were also unable to muster much levies of his own and proceeded by hiring Danish mercenaries as his fighting force. At this time the population of Northumbria still had the many wars and raids by the Norse fresh in memory, and despised his Danish security force and saw Tostig as a foreign oppressor - added by the fact that Tostig would rarely be at home and rather be in the court of King. In 1065 he would double the taxes in Northumbria, this would only deepen the conflicts in Northumbria and soon the nobles rose up against him.

In 1065 Morcar would lead a rebellion against Tostig's rule. Tostig at this time was however in the south and out hunting with his brother. Harold was now the regent of England as Edward were comatose and Harold saw the situation of what it was; hopeless. He recognized Morcar as the true Earl of Northumbria and exiled his brother. Tostig would never forgive his brother and his betrayal and would seek allies to depose of his traitor brother and reclaim his lost land. Harold also did ths as a move to gain the approval of the Witan council as a whole to be the heir of Edward. Morcar on the other hand were the brother of the Earl of Mercia. Now the House of Hwicce more or less ruled all of northern England. Tostig on the other hand were plotting over the sea to the east, waiting for his chance..


Earl Eadwin of Mercia and his Earldom in 1066.

Eadwin were the older brother of Morcar. Eadwin were of a proud lineage with his father being the Earl of Mercia and his father before him likewise. Mercia were perhaps the most powerful Earldom in England after Wessex. Before Alfred led Wessex to greatness it was also Mercia that had been the dominating power in England. Mercia were inhabitated by a proud people who wanted to once more return to greatness. Eadwin represented this sentiment, and were a most skillfull schemer and ambitious Earl. Following the rebellion against Tostig he also took part in orchestrating the replacement of the Godwin Tostig with his own brother Morcar. This would solidify the Hwicce hold of central and northern England - and perhaps even England itself.



The Earldom of East Anglia under Earl Gyrth Godwinesson. Also an Anglo-Saxon Housecarl.



Leofwine Godwinesson, Earl of Kent and a tapestry of the brothers Leowine and Gyrth Godwinesson.

Gyrth were the fourth son of Godwin and Leofwine were the fifth. After their father's death the sons of Godwin were able to center a lot of power around them. Gyrth would become the Earl of East Anglia (after Harold abdicated in favor of Wessex) and Leofwine of Kent. With Wessex, Kent, East Anglia and Northumbria in control of the sons of Godwin now controlled all of southern England and the east coast all the way up to the Scottish kingdom. This sudden rise to power however would put them at odds with the other nobles in England - especially the powerful Mercian Lord who had an agenda of his own. Following the noble rise against Tostig Harold would betray his brother and instead install the brother of the Mercian Earl as Lord of Northumbria. This would forever fracture the unity of the Sons of Godwin. Perhaps the following events would unite them once more, or divide them even further..


Northumbrian settlements in Scotland. The Hadrian Wall - the "natural border of England" and the Kingdom of Northumbria at it's greatest extent.

Like Mercia, Northumbria had once been a proud Kingdom of it's own. Following the Dane and Norse invasions during the Viking Age the once mighty Kingdom had been reduced to a former shadow of itself. First of all had it been reduced almost half in size. During the 800's it had gone far beyond the Hadrian wall and deep into Lothian. Lindisfarne had also been a most treasured crown jewel for Northumbria. These times however did end under the constant Norse invasions and attacks. And after the invasion Great Heathen Army Northumbria would become a Norse Kingdom. Northumbria would soon turn into a delicate mix between native Angles (not to be confused with the biblical kind) and Norse settlers. Over the years Northumbria would lose most of it's lands to Scotland. However the Northumbrian nobility were still proud and wanted to re-enact it's former glory. Their old territories in Scotland were still inhabitated by Northumbrian (Anglian and Norse alike) and all of the English nobility agreed upon that the Hadrian Wall were the natural border of England as dictated by the once great Romans. And now the Scottish Kingdom were as weak as ever, with most of Scotland being part of the Norwegian kingdoms of Sudereyar and Norway. Their King was also a mere child with the Lord of Lothian wanting the crown for himself. Perhaps Northumbria would once more get a great ruler who would lead Northubria to it's rightful glory and position in the world?