• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Oct 14, 2003
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Northumbria, England 1066AD

An Unlikely Independence
Morcar Leofricson, son of Alfgar, Saxon Duke of Northumbria was an unhappy man. This bastard William was no true king in his eyes and he was unable to accept defeat. He bent the knee and swore some oaths on the battlefield at Hastings but ever the schemer, he began to plot the moment The Bastard was out of earshot. Together with his older brother Edwin, Duke of Lancaster, he dreamed of carving out a new Saxon realm in the north, one that could one day bring The Bastard low. In the end it was surprisingly simple. Morcar sent a letter to The Bastard declaring that he was no King in the North and that henceforth he would rule Northumbria in his own right, free of Norman intrusion. The King of England failed to respond, at least not openly; there was no declaration of war and no effort to refute Morcar's delusions of grandeur. The Duke grinned from ear to ear as he had himself crowned, oblivious to the fact that William of Normandy was at that very moment having papers drafted to seize all of House Leofricson's titles for the crown.

Reveling in his early success, Morcar was already looking to his maps with a greedy eye. If The Bastard was too craven to challenge Northumbria's independence then he would surely turn a blind eye to an invasion of Whales! First though, Morcar rightly looked to consolidate his power. Whatever grand schemes were swirling through his mind, he still knew that Northumbria in its current state had no hope of standing alone should The Bastard ever bestir himself. Thus he traveled to Scotland to broker an alliance with King Malcolm and returned home with a Saxon bride Margaret Atheling, who had been living in exile since the Norman conquest. Meanwhile old Duke Murchaid of Leinster and Meath formed his own alliance with Morcar. It seemed that Northumbria would be secure for years to come.

War in Scotland
Morcar was immediately smitten with his young wife coming to trust her implicitly and granting her perhaps a little too much leeway. Nevertheless, the realm was overjoyed when she gave birth to Thored, Morcar's long awaited son and heir. Rumors of her improprieties and excesses were just starting to spread when the war horns sounded. Young Duke Maelsnechtan of Moray had called his banners and laid claim to the Scottish throne! True to his word, Morcar raised nearly 700 men and sailed to Moray at great expense to join the seige. It was in camp beneath the walls of Castle Moray that he first received word, Thored was not his son and there was irrefutable proof. The scandal rocked the court and put Duchess Margaret to shame but for Morcar, there was still a war to fight. When the castle fell, he marched his 700 deeper into the highlands in search of glory and spoils to take his mind off the terrible news. He had trusted that bloody wench! Before long and emissary of House Loarn appeared with a fat purse of gold and Morcar was obliged to march home, confident that he had provided sufficient aid to his allies despite never having actually seen the foe in the field.

Making a Botch of Everything
He had meant to punish Margaret, to imprison her, kill her even but his foolish heart melted the moment he saw her again and she was soon once more with child. Meanwhile in Lancaster to the south, Edwin Leofricson had made a total botch of his own attempt to break away from the tainted English crown. Some years removed from Hastings, King William was now secure on his throne and he came down on the Saxon upstart with brutal force. Edwin's castles were smashed in a matter of days, his lands were seized and he fled into exile in Germany. Morcar only shrugged at this news and returned to his maps, looking for any excuse to attack the Whelsh and secure new lands for his true-born son Aethelthryth who had just been born. (It was hoped that an even more Saxon-sounding name would better guarantee his legitimacy.) This was made more urgent when the declining health of his steward forced Morcar to grant the County of Westmorland to the young knight Saexbald de Cherlton.

It is strange how so trivial a matter can set chaos into motion. Saexbald seemed Saxon enough but had adopted a Norman-sounding surname and it was this confusion that was used as a pretext for his excommunication. King William had finally set his trap as 300 Normans invaded Westmorland on a "holy crusade" to end the heresy of Saexbald and his dubious origins and Morcar took the bait. As liege lord he was obligated to defend his vassal and having thrown off the Norman yoke he would not allow his realm to be chipped away at piecemeal, not by that Bastard! Morcar raised his full host, some 2,500 men and fell upon the 300 "crusaders" destroying them utterly. Greatly exaggerating his very first victory as an epic battle, he marched to his strongest castle at York to await William's host, overconfident to the point of madness and certain that his allies Scotland and Leinster would come to his aid. As it happened, King Malcolm had been wholly unimpressed by what Morcar had considered proper assistance in the Moray War and Murchaid Ui Mordha was dead, his six year old son now sitting his throne.

Morcar took an arrow through the neck while trying to give his men an inspiring speech (that would not have gone well even if he could have finished) and fell dead moments before the Normans charged. His host was routed, his castles reduced to rubble and his infant son was attainted and stripped of all titles before his first birthday. Thus ended Northumbria, House Leofricson and all pretense of a Saxon revival.