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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

CBusAlex

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to my first AAR! On this journey we'll be following the descendants of Ketill Björnsson, a Norse pagan who made the Isle of Mann his domain in the late 800s. My goals are to follow the story until the British Isles are united with Mann as their capitol, or until the dynasty collapses and disappears from history. (I will be heavily favoring roleplaying the characters over game strategy, so the latter is a real possibility.)

I am not a wordsmith like many of you here, and this will not be a narrative-style AAR. What I am is the sort of nerd who enjoys reading wikipedia articles with titles like "History of [obscure kingdom]", clicking on all the links therein and reading those too. That is the style this AAR will be written in, and each entry posted here will contain many links to a custom wiki site I have set up to support it. It is my hope that this format will bring to light all the various branching and intertwined storylines that take place over the course of the game.

So, without further adieu, the Flatnefr Dynasty of Mann:
 

CBusAlex

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Ketill of Mann

Ketill Björnsson, nicknamed Flatnose (Old Norse: Flatnefr), was a Norse Chief of Mann during the 9th century. He was a commander of the Great Heathen Army during the invasion of England from 865-869.

Early Life
In the Laxdaela Saga he is recorded as being the son of Björn Grímsson, from the county of Møre og Romsdal. The Eyrbyggja Saga places him as Chief of Mann as early as 850, although this is disputed by historians. The earliest known contemporaneous account of Ketill dates to 867, where he is described as a vassal to Ivar the Boneless, King of Suðreyjar. He fathered three sons (Björn, Helgi, and Sæmundr) and three daughters (Auðr, Þordunn, and Jorunn).

Commander of Great Heathen Army
In 865 the sons of Ragnar Lodbrok (Ivar the Boneless, Halfdan ‘Whiteshirt’, Ubbe, and Sigurdr ‘Snake-in-the-eye’) led a Scandanavian invasion of the Anglo-Saxon Heptarchy. Ketill led a small contingent of Manx warriors on behalf of Ivar. Although the bulk of the fighting took place in East Anglia and Mercia, Ketill’s army remained north of the Solway Firth for the duration of the conflict for the duration of the conflict, largely sacking and pillaging tribes in the Kingdom of Strathclyde.

Ivar was unable to secure any territory outside of Suðreyjar for himself during the invasion, while Halfdan succeeded in capturing nearly the entirety of Northumbria.

Death
Ketill’s wife Yngvild died in September 869, near the end of the Great Heathen Army’s invasion. Upon returning home and learning the news, Ketill fell into a deep depression, and took his own life in December of that year. His eldest son Björn succeeded him as Chief of Mann.
 
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CBusAlex

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Björn ‘the Just’ of Mann

Björn Ketillsson, nicknamed ‘the Just’ was the Chief of Mann under the Kingdom of Suðreyjar from 869-877, and the King of Mannfrom 878-879. During his reign the tribe of Mann expanded its territory into mainland Scotland, and became independent of the Kingdom of Suðreyjar.

Early Life
Björn was the first son of Ketill Björnsson. He had a brother, Helgi, and two sisters Auðr and Þordunn, Little is known of his life prior to 865. He may have accompanied his father as a commander of the Great Heathen Army during the invasion of England.

His first wife was Svanhildr, a Gydja from the Kingdom of Jorvik. She died of an infection shortly after giving birth to their only daughter. Björn remarried a woman named Asta from the Orkney Islands with whom he had three sons, Ketill, Olafr, and Sæmundr.

Upon his father’s death in 869, Björn assumed the title of Chief of Mann.

Conquest of Strathclyde
Main article: Norse Conquest of Strathclyde

Following the conquest of Northumbria by Halfdan Whiteshirt in 869, King Artgal of Strathclyde found himself in a precarious situation, with viking invaders controlling territory to the north, south, and east. Björn was among the first to exploit this position. After securing alliances with Chief Olafr of Dyflinn (to whom his sister Auđr was married) and Halfdan (whose son Sigfrið was married to Björn’s sister Þordunn,) Björn raised an army and invaded Galloway in 870.

Although Halfdan was occupied with a war against Cornwall in the south, Björn and Olafr’s combined forces of around 1,000 men were sufficient to overpower Artgal’s, capturing tribal lands and temples across Strathclyde. Artgal’s wife Heledd was taken prisoner during one such seige, and would eventually become a concubine of Björn’s. After the decisive Battle of Tygwyn in December 871, Artgal would sign a treaty conceding Galloway to Mann in exchange for peace.

This defeat highlighted the weakness of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, and in 872, both King Ivar of Suðreyjar and Halfdan of Jorvik launched separate invasions of the region. Björn remained neutral during this conflict. The largest battles to take place were those between the competing viking kings. By 875, Halfdan had emerged victorious over his older brother and annexed the territory of Clydesdale. King Artgal died of natural causes during the war and was succeeded by his son Rhun.

Björn again invaded Strathclyde shortly after the conclusion of Ivar and Halfdan’s war, with the aid of Chief Olafr. After fighting off a competing invasion by Chief Guðmundr of Teviotdale at the Battle of Croes Rhygal Björn laid siege to the tribe of Aeron, where Rhun’s wife Morag was captured. This ended the existence of the Kingdom of Strathclyde, as Björn took control of their only remaining territory in Carrick.



Marriage and Affairs
Asta became pregnant with her first child while Björn was leading the invasion of Galloway. Letters written by Björn during this period reveal that he was suspicious of the child’s true parentage, although unable to find any evidence of infidelity. After returning to Mann, Björn began a short affair with his brother Helgi’s wife, Gurli Mikli. Gurli’s son Rikulfr may have been a result of this affair. When Asta again conceived a child during Björn’s invasion of Carrick, Björn took one of the noblewomen captured as a concubine. Historians are uncertain which, if any, of Asta’s children were actually fathered by Björn, although all took the Flatnefr family name.

Death of Ivar and Breakup of Suðreyjar
Main article: Manx Independence War

King Ivar was wounded in battle during an attempted conquest of Moray in 877. He returned to Suðreyjar but was unable to recover and died on March 12 of that year. His third son, Barid, was chosen as successor to the throne, but his first son Sigtrygg refused to accept this decision and took up residence in Argyll, declaring himself independent from the rule of his younger brother. For reasons unknown, Barid took no action to reassert authority over Argyll.

Björn assessed Barid as a weak and ineffective leader, and resolved to assert his own independence. To this end he believed he had the support of Chief Olafr of Dyflinn, on whose side he had fought during the conquest of Strathclyde. In December of 877 he refused to make the scheduled tax payment which was due to the crown, insisting that his oath of service was sworn to Ivar and that he owed Barid no allegiance.

Barid raised an army in Suðreyjar to force Björn’s compliance. To Björn’s surprise, Olafr sided with the king, and raised his own army in support. Björn was now facing two armies whose combined force outnumbered his own, but separated by the North Channel. When Olafr attempted to cross the channel in March to join Barid, Björn ambushed them at the First Battle of Whithorn, driving Olafr back into Ireland. Inspired by this victory, several thousand common tribesman of Mann volunteered to fight alongside Björn.

Björn eventually met Barid in pitched battle in May at the Battle of Carrick. Although Björn was gravely wounded during the fighting, his army inflicted heavy casualties on Barid’s, who was forced to flee across the North Channel towards Dyflinn. Olafr, who was unaware of Barid’s defeat at the time, had attempted a second crossing into Manx territory, but was again defeated at the Second Battle of Whithorn.

Björn was unable to continue the campaign due to his injuries, and placed his brother Helgi in command of the army in his place. Helgi crossed into Ireland in pursuit of Barid and Olafr. A series of smaller battles followed, culminating in the Siege of Dyflinn in December 878. Following the capture of Dyflinn, Barid surrendered, acknowledging Björn as the independent King of Mann.



Death and Succession
Björn ruled as King of Mann for nine months following the war, but never fully recovered from the injury sustained during the Battle of Carrick. He died on September 26 of 879. His brother Helgi received the succession of the kingdom, while possession of the counties of Galloway and Carrick passed to his sons Ketill and Olafr, respectively.
 
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Helgi of Mann

Helgi Ketillsson was the King of Mann from 879-895. During his reign the kingdom would expand to include most of northern Ireland, as well as the area formerly controlled by the Kingdom of Suðreyjar.

Early Life
Helgi was the second son of Chief Ketill ‘Flatnose’ of Mann. He had a brother, Björn (who preceded him as King of Mann) and two sisters Auðr and Þordunn. He was regarded by most as a better fighter than Björn. Off the battlefield he was a quiet man, with little taste for socializing.

When Björn became Chief of Mann in 869, he appointed Helgi as his Marshal. Helgi commanded the garrison of Mann while Björn was in the field during the conquest of Strathclyde, and led the Manx army for the latter part of the Manx Independence War, successfully capturing Dyflinn and bringing the war to an end. When Björn died in 879, Helgi was his chosen successor to the kingdom.

Marriage and Children
Following Björn’s death, Helgi took his widow Asta and concubine Heledd as his own concubines, establishing a tradition of royal concubinage that would continue until [TBD].

His wife was Gurli Mikli, an ambitious woman who would use her influence over Helgi to secure positions of power for herself in Mann. When a council dispute over the continuation of the Northern Irish campaign occurred in 882, Gurli convinced Helgi to fire his sister Jorunn, who opposed the wars, and grant Gurli the position of Seeress in her place. By 890, she had also become Lawspeaker and Designated Regent of Mann, positions she would hold until [TBD].

Helgi would father nine children in all, seven through Gurli and two through concubines. It is thought that one of his children, Rikulfr, was in fact a product of Gurli’s affair with Björn.

Conquest of Northern Ireland
Main article: Manx Conquest of Northern Ireland

With the kingdom’s holdings in Strathclyde under the rule of Björn’s children, Helgi sought to conquer new lands to provide a legacy for his own children. His first target was the Chiefdom of Ulaidh in Strangfjorðr, which had been weakened recently by a failed war against Argyll. In 880 he brought his army across the North Channel and surrounded the tribe, which surrendered without a fight.

With a port in Ireland now secured, Helgi next waged war in 881 against Flann Sinna of the Kingdom of Mide. Upon bringing his army into Ireland, Helgi discovered that Flann Sinna’s army was several thousand men stronger than expected. He was engaged at the Battle of Connor, but was able to retreat back to Strathclyde with minimal losses. Helgi appealed to King Halfdan Whiteshirt of Jorvik for aid, and in February of 882 Halfdan brought an army of 7,000 men into Ireland, defeating Flann Sinna at the Battle of Daire Coluimb Chille. To avoid further losses, Flann Sinna ceded the county of Tyrone in exchange for peace.

Following the near disaster at Connor, the Manx council met to decide whether to continue the wars in Ireland. The faction opposing the wars was led by Helgi’s sister Jorunn, the longtime Seeress and Designated Regent of Mann. She favored the sons of Björn, and was concerned that the balance of power in the realm would be tipped toward Helgi’s son if they acquired too much land. Helgi’s fired her and replaced her with his wife Gurli, who was able to convince the other councilors to support the wars by promising them a share of the spoils.

With council support thus secured, Helgi went on to conquer Tyrconnell and Bréifne in 883, granting temples in the conquered territories to his Steward Botulfr, Marshal Sölvi, and Chancellor Bersi. The presence in Connacht of Ubbe of Moray, who was under the protection of the Kingdom of Scotland, halted Manx expansion further south in Ireland.

Conquest of Suðreyjar (884)
Main article: Manx Conquest of Suðreyjar

In 884, King Barid of Suðreyjar was defeated in battle and forced to swear fealty to Ubbe of Moray, becoming a vassal of the Kingdom of Scotland. Many of the powerful tribesmen within the kingdom resented being ruled by a Christian king, and one such tribesman provided Helgi with (likely forged) documents stating that Helgi’s brother Björn, not Barid, had been Ivar’s chosen heir. Helgi used this as a pretext to invade Argyll, whose independence had never been officially recognized by the crown. Chief Sigtrygg had only narrowly avoided defeat at the hands of Ubbe mere months ago himself, and did not have the manpower available to resist. Within months he was forced to capitulate and cede the county to Helgi.

Helgi refrained for the time being from attempting to retake the Chiefdom of Suðreyjar itself, as it still lay under the control of the larger and more powerful Kingdom of Scotland. After a six-year peace during which Helgi consolidated power in his recent conquests and trained and reinforced his army, he would resume the war in 890.



Breakdown of Mann-Jorvik Alliance
A series of diplomatic incidents, the exact nature of which is not recorded, between the Chancellor of Mann and Halfdan Whiteshirt led to a chilling of the relationship between Mann and Jorvik in 884. A series pirate attacks on the Isle of Mann, which Helgi suspected to be ordered by Halfdan himself, proved to be the final straw. In 884 the alliance was officially broken.

Raiding Expeditions of 885-895
The pirate attacks in 884 convinced Helgi of the need to acquire ships capable of defending his kingdom from naval assault. The first shipyard was constructed in Mann later that year. Although the longships produced in Mann were inferior in quality to those the larger viking kingdoms in Scandinavia were using, they were still far ahead of the technology possessed by the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England, or even the Karling kingdoms of mainland Europe.

By 887, enough ships had been constructed to send out raiding parties to loot and pillage along the coast. Early expeditions raided the smaller kingdoms of Gwynedd, Deheubarth, Cornwall, and Brittany. Over the course of the next ten years Manx raiders were sighted as far west as Holland and as far south as Aquatine. In one particularly long expedition in 895, Helgi lead a raiding party into the mediterranean and sacked Mallorca and Sardinia.

The income from these campaigns spurred a period of rapid economic grown on the Isle of Mann. A market city sprung up based on the sale and trade of captured goods, and quickly became one of the largest in the British Isles. Helgi reinvested much of the income into defensive structures, constructing a stone hillfort, weaponsmith, war camp, and practice range by 895.

Conquest of Suðreyjar (890-892)
Main article: Manx Conquest of Suðreyjar

By 890, Helgi had brought the Irish territories fully under Manx control and improved the kingdom’s army to the point that they new stood on equal footing with the Kingdom of Scotland without the need for foreign alliances. King Constantine still controlled the Chiefdom of Suðreyjar in the Hebrides through his vassal, Barid Ivarsson. Helgi invaded in early 890 to recapture the territory and reunite the former kingdom.

After several small skirmishes in southern Schotland, the Manx army met the Scottish at the Battle of Moray in September 890. The Scots suffered a terrible defeat, losing up to half of their 1,500-man army, although Helgi’s son Rikulfr was wounded during the fray. The defeat of Constantine’s army left Helgi nearly unopposed in Scotland, and he took advantage of this state of affairs by laying siege to and eventually capturing both the Chiefdom of Suðreyjar and the Scottish capital in Gowrie over the following year.

Constantine reassembled his army and crossed the Irish Sea to attack the less fortified Manx holdings in Ireland. Helgi followed and in September 891 the two again met in combat at the Third Battle of Derry. The Manx army at this point outnumbered the Scots fully four-to-one, and defeated them once again.

With the Scottish army in tatters, three separate chiefdoms from the Kingdom of Jorvik launched individual invasions of Scotland in 892. Unable to deal with so many simultaneous threats, Constantine sued for peace in December 892, conceding the Chiefdom of Suðreyjar to Helgi. The wife Helen and daughter Donada of High Chief Hugh Mac Ailpin of Moray, who had been captured during the war, were also taken by Helgi as concubines.

Transition of Power
As the younger generation of the Flatnefr dynasty, Björn and Helgi’s children, began to come of age, Helgi began incorporating them into his government to prepare them for rulership. Chief Ketill of Galloway was appointed Spymaster in 888. Rikulfr married Aslaug av Agder on his 16th birthday in 889, and was granted the Chiefdom of Strangfjorðr as a wedding gift, also becoming Helgi’s Chancellor at around this time. In 892 Chief Olafr of Carrickchallenged Ketill to a duel and slew him, earning Helgi’s respect as a warrior and the position of Marshal. Froði married Alfriđ Kráka of Orkney on his 16th birthday in 893 and was granted the Chiefdom of Tyrone, also replacing Ketill as Spymaster of Mann. Helgi’s daughers, Linda and Gunnhilfr, were married to princes from Ostlandet and SviÞjod during this period as well.

Catholic Uprising of 895
In 895, a Catholic priest from Argyll named Arran led an uprising to free the country from its Norse rulers. Helgi was leading a raiding party in Sardinia at the time with a large contingent of Mann’s army, mostly soldiers from the Chiefdom of Galloway. 3000 men flocked to Aran’s banners and laid siege to the sparsely defended tribe of Galloway.

Helgi sent word to Rikulfr to gather together what armies remained in Mann, but avoid engaging Aran until he returned from Sardinia. In July, Helgi arrived in Strangfjorðr, along with a mercenary army he had hired along the way. Their combined forces crossed the North Channel into Argyll, then attacked Aran from the north. Although equal in number, the Manx soldiers were trained and professional fighters and easily dispatched the Catholics, most of whom were simple peasants. Aran was captured and sacrificed during a Great Blot in December 895, ending the rebellion.

Death and Succession
One week after the conclusion of the Catholic war, Helgi died of an apparent heart attack. His eldest son Rikulfr succeeded him as King of Mann. Adhering to his father’s wishes, Rikulfr distributed the land taken during Helgi’s lifetime to his brothers. Arni became Chief of Suðreyjar, Refil became Chief of Breifne, Ale became Chief of Argyll, and Bersi became Chief of Tyrconnell. Longtime Steward Botulfr retired following Helgi’s death, leaving the council of Mann for the first time entirely staffed by members of the Flatnefr family.
 
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Good luck with this one: interesting approach that you have clearly put a lot of thought and work into :)
 

alscon

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That's certainly a different way to tackle an AAR - mark me as intrigued. I certainly found myself clicking on a bunch of these many, many links already :p.
 

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Clearly a lot of work gone into this.
 

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THis is certainly intriguing, a really surprising way of approaching AARs.

I will certainly subscribe to see more (also I will need to read every single part of that wiki now, damn it).
 

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Rikulfr Helgisson


Rikulfr Helgisson was the Chief of Strangfjorðr from 889-895, and King of Mann from December 895 to February 896. The eldest son and heir of Helgi Ketillsson, his reign was cut short by a fatal heart attack after only three months.

Family
Born in June 873, Rikulfr was the first of Helgi Ketillsson and Gurli Mikli's five sons, and second of seven children overall. His brothers were Froði, Arni, Refil, and Ale and his sisters were Linda and Gunnhildr. He also had a half-brother Bersi and a half-sister Ingfrid. Rikulfr's true father may in fact have been Helgi's brother Björn Ketillsson, who was having an affair with Gurli Mikli at the time of Rikulfr's conception.

Rikulfr married Aslaug av Agder in 889. They had two children together during Rikulfr's lifetime, Geirr and Vigdis. Aslaug was pregnant with Haraldr at the time of Rikulfr's death, and their second son Haraldr was born one month later.

Military Career
Rikulfr received his first command of the Manx army at age 17, during the Manx Conquest Of Suðreyjar. In the Battle of Moray, Rikulfr surprised the Scottish army with an aggressive charge upon first sighting the enemy, catching them unprepared. Although Rikulfr was wounded during the charge, the tactic was successful and the Manx were able to inflict heavy casualties. Rikulfr was relieved of command for the remainder of the war to recover from his injuries.

When Arran of Argyll led a Catholic uprising against Mann in 895, Rikulfr was assigned the task of raising the Manx army and preparing them for battle by his father, who was raiding in Sardinia at the time. Helgi gave Rikulfr command of the center during the Battle of Whithorn, during which the rebel army was routed and Arran captured.

Rise to Power
Rikulfr gained a reputation as a child as the most shrewd and charismatic of his siblings, and Helgi and Gurli began grooming him for rulership at a young age. When Rikulfr married Aslaug at 16, Helgi granted him the Chiefdom of Strangfjorðr as a wedding gift. He received the position of Chancellor of Mann shortly thereafter. An ambitious man, Rikulfr used the post to travel the kindgom, gaining the support of the local tribes.

In 892 Chief Olafr of Carrick challenged his brother Chief Ketill of Galloway to a duel and slew him. Although Olafr was Ketill's next of kin, Gurli convinced the tribal leaders of Galloway to support Rikulfr as their next chief instead.

King of Mann
In December 895, Helgi died of an apparent heart attack, leaving the Kingdom of Mann to Rikulfr, and dividing his remaining landholdings among his other sons. As Rikulfr was already in possession of two of the kingdom's core territories in Galloway and Strangfjorđr, he viewed his power within the kingdom as sufficiently secure, and began seeking to expand almost immediately. In January, he declared war against the Kingdom of Mide, which was at this point reduced to a single holding in Cil Dara. The stress of rulership proved too much for him, however, and in February he succumbed to a heart attack at the age of 23. His brother Froði assumed rulership of Mann, while his 6 year old son Geirr became the next Chief of Galloway.
 

CBusAlex

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A short update this week, as Helgi's chosen heir (and unbeknownst to him, the product of his wife's affair) dies after only three months on the throne. Next up will be the second Helgisson king, a possibly autistic 19 year old with a diplomacy rating of 1.
 

Bullfilter

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You really have gone to a lot of effort with this. No-one will ever legitimately accuse you of not providing enough detail, context or background! :cool:
 

ChaoYang

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Interesting and pretty engaging read! Looking forward to see how the Kings of Mann fare going forwards
 

alscon

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Poor Rikulfr didn't have a chance to live up to his promise. Froði's reign at least begins with the promise of a lot of chaos in Mann. :rolleyes:
 

stnylan

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I remain very impressed by the effort this must take.
 

Nikolai

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