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Prodigal Knight
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May 16, 2006
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I. A Bittersweet Christmas Day

Christmas Day in the Year of our Lord 1066 was a frigid and snow-bound one in Appleby, where Morcar, Earl of Northumbria, addressed his courtiers in his Westmorland hall. A feast adorned the table, but the mood was far from festive. Morcar still bore the weary look he’d worn ever since his defeat by the Norsemen at Fulford, but today he looked even wearier to Maelwine, the youngest and newest member of his court. Maelwine noticed the apprehension on the faces of his cousins, Aethelwin and William. Aethelwin peered upwards from under a mop of white hair, his back slightly hunched from deformity and age. His clever eyes missed little about Morcar, and years in his service had made them particularly keen to the moods of his liege. And now they betrayed just the slightest glimmer of worry in Aethelwin, which in itself was disconcerting. Morcar’s young wife, Wulfthryth, laid a slender hand on his broad shoulder in sympathy. Morcar favoured her with a distractedly appreciative smile and an amicable arm about her waist, but said nothing.

William stood to the side. He had had the same education as Maelwine, in the parish, but was ten years his senior, and had developed into a talented military mind. Before the debacle at Fulford, he had burned with ambition and drive. Morcar had noticed this immediately, making him the marshal of his men in the field. Maelwine had been left at Appleby, one day shy of the age of sixteen, when Morcar and William had led three thousand men into combat at Fulford. But they had struck the Viking line too soon, or so William would say later. The Vikings had left the most of their men in reserve, so that when the first Viking line had been penetrated, the exhausted Northumbrians faced a superior number of fresh Vikings. Of the men he had led, only half of them left whole, and they had lost that territory to the depredations of Harald Hardrade’s Norsemen. Now, William went about more hushed and with less bravado than usual. Bold and gauche though he tended to be, even he could note the weariness on his lord’s face. Morcar cleared his throat, swallowed a bit more of his wine, then spoke.

‘A messenger arrived just today, bearing this news: Harold King of England has been slain in the south by an arrow through the eye, at Hastings. His forces were routed by William of Normandy, who has assumed his title as King of England. I have sworn my fealty to William, but he already has brought his retinue of Norman lords to replace us. It is unlikely a Saxon such as I, especially one who has failed so miserably as I have at Fulford, will be allowed to retain his place much longer.

‘If I am to stay Earl of Northumbria, I am going to need vassals I can trust to show William my worth. It is my decision to confer the title Baron Durham upon Maelwine of Durham.’

There was a cluck of disapproval from Aethelwin and a gasp of outrage from William. Maelwine could hardly believe his ears, could not so much as make a sound. ‘Are you sure that is wise, my lord?’ asked William. ‘Maelwine is only sixteen years old!’

‘Indeed, my lord,’ Maelwine suddenly regained his voice. ‘Surely William is the better choice – his skill at arms, his tactical knowledge…’

‘… is why I still need him here, even after Fulford,’ Morcar sighed. ‘I knew your father, Maelwine, while he was still alive. Hrothgar was a good man: always trustworthy and honest, never undervaluing others, even if his temper was somewhat uneven. But he knew how to value himself, and it’s time you did the same. Believe me when I say that I know his son will be cut from the same cloth. I must admit I was somewhat disappointed when he chose for your education the monastery instead of one of my own knights, but all the same I believe you would make an excellent baron.’

Maelwine shook his shaggy brown locks from his face and saw that Morcar was indeed in earnest. Maelwine made a few more futile protestations of his inadequacy for the title, but was convinced in the end to accept it, and be created Baron Durham.

As he left for his home city, Maelwine pondered this turn of events. He was being handed all the responsibilities that came with nobility at the tender age of sixteen: a title and an entire county to look after. He looked upon the frozen River Wear over its snow-laden banks in the distance as he neared the hill fortress which would soon be his home. From the depths of a heart somewhat in awe, somewhat in triumph, somewhat in fear, Maelwine prayed God would see him a fit, liberal-minded lord of this land to which he was so familiar.

History has tended to characterise Baron Durham as a rather lacklustre leader and somewhat lacking in political initiative, and his policies tended to favour the burghers of Durham over the peasants and (strangely enough) the clergy. But we must keep in mind that Baron Durham was no military strategist, he was first and foremost a scholar and a brilliant theological and philosophical mind. He heavily encouraged learning within his realm, and some of the first improvements he gave to Durham and Northumberland were their libraries.
This is my first AAR, playing as County Durham from a customised 1066 scenario. Though I don't know what other changes were made before I started playing the game, a 16-year-old male character named Maelwine (Generous, Modest, Wise, Master Theologian: good diplomacy and piety, no prestige to speak of) was added to Morcar's court in Cumberland. I changed some of the titles to better reflect the time: Morcar was Earl of Northumbria, and Durham probably would have been a Barony (in actuality, it was later made a bishopric, but this is speculative and has no bearing on actuality).

So far, I've only played about twenty years into the game, and will be making updates on my character's progress as events warrant. Things have gone rather smoothly for those twenty years - nothing particularly exciting, no disasters et cetera. Mostly the action has been around building up prestige (painfully slowly, given my character's attributes) and using revenues to upgrade my demesne.
Nice start! Keep it up :D
Thank you! I've got a bit of catch-up to do here. Hang on...
II. A Bride for Baron Durham


In those early days, Baron Durham was aided in government by his liege, Lord Morcar, and also by three older women who were selected from among the gentry by Morcar, with Maelwine’s consent. Godgifu Berkeley, a middle-aged woman who got involved in relatively sordid business from time to time, was nonetheless a good speaker and a good negotiator, and she quickly elevated herself to the office of Baron Durham’s chancellor. Then there was Aelfthryth FitzPatrick, a self-centred, rather silly woman of twenty-one years and mixed Saxon and Norman parentage who originally held hopes of attaining the title of Lady Durham. But Maelwine showed little interest in her, save for her ability with management: she was an excellent steward, and proved her worth time and time again to her liege. The last of the trio was probably the one Maelwine took time to seriously consider as a possible wife, the graceful Godgifu Butler. She was a woman of remarkable perception – there was little that escaped those piercing blue eyes. She served as both the eyes and ears of Maelwine’s court in those early days. However, Baron Durham found her slightly too old for him at twenty-seven years.

He was also taking interest in reports from foreign courts. He looked toward the tuaths of Ireland, taking only a passing interest in most of these two-penny self-proclaimed ‘kingdoms’, but one particular family caught his eye.

‘The royal family of the Kingdom of Meath, reigned over by one King Conchobar O’Máel Sechlainn,’ Maelwine read aloud. ‘Conchobar has two sons, Murchad and Máel Sechlainn Bán by his wife Gráinne, and present in his extended household are his cousins Domnall, Murchad mac Flainn and Brianna.’


For some reason, the last name of this list somehow caught Baron Durham’s interest, and he sent a messenger to Meath to inquire after Brianna, whose husband had not been mentioned. The messenger brought back a rather interesting description of the young lady.

‘Milord, I was slow to get a description of the young maid Brianna, but from what I gather she is of little importance even in that family. Her cousin is generous in his patronage of her education at the nunnery at An Uaimh, but declined to describe her lineage further than that she is of the O’Néill family and a distant cousin.’

‘In other words, she’s illegitimate,’ Maelwine guessed. ‘Did you get to meet her?’

‘We were introduced, milord,’ the messenger affirmed. ‘I think your Lordship would find her quite attractive, and she is of an age with your Lordship. She is fond of good food and drink and is forward with her opinions, perhaps too much so, and is of course illegitimate, but other than that seems to be of good character.’

Though it was not his intention, he’d said enough to intrigue his liege, who ended up formally inviting Conchobar, Gráinne and Brianna to Durham. He half-expected them to refuse, but the messenger was again treated cordially by them, and they agreed to travel to Durham. The journey would take three months, but Baron Durham finally received them with the greatest of hospitality when they arrived.

Maelwine first noticed them when they got off their ship, both from the way they dressed and from the way they looked about them, wondering at the foreignness of their surroundings. Of course an English port would look quite unfamiliar and even intimidating to a family accustomed to the hills of central Ireland. Conchobar was a short, solid, rather handsome man whose soldierly bearing made up for in presence what his height lacked. His wife Gráinne, by contrast, was tall and slender. She unfortunately had a slight harelip, but was generally of good understanding and pleasant demeanour. Then, there was Brianna O’Néill.

Maelwine recognised her the instant she appeared from the docks across the River Wear. She was very young indeed, matching Maelwine’s sixteen years, with thick auburn curls framing a fair oval face. Her step was light and lively, her lithe shoulders carried in a graceful alertness, her figure pleasingly full and at the same time somehow seeming weightless. In her eyes, as green and fair as the isle from whence she came, there was a candour which glimmered with a hint of unabashed curiosity. His messenger had not deceived him in the least: she was indeed quite attractive.

Baron Durham entertained them for three days before he decided to broach the subject of marriage to Brianna. That evening, after they had dined, the Baron Durham knelt before her. ‘Brianna, having spent these few days in your company I find you more remarkable than all reports of you had boasted. You would honour me far beyond my desserts if you would give me your hand in marriage.’

Upon hearing his proposal, Brianna appraised him, but gave him no hint of disapproval. ‘You understand, do you not, that my cousin cannot afford me a large dowry. I’m afraid a baron and his court would find me something of a poor catch.’

‘Well then,’ Baron Durham grinned, ‘you’d best agree quickly, before my steward comes to hear of it.’

‘Perhaps I’d best,’ Brianna grinned back as she brought him to his feet.

It was perhaps not the most politically savvy of marriages that Baron Durham might have made, but it is clear that he not only approved of Brianna’s temperament and suitability as a courtier, but her status as an illegitimate child appealed to his charitable nature and her lineage to his love of the foreign. Indeed, to all indications theirs was an exceedingly successful partnership. She was far better at talking and presenting an amiable face to her peers than even Mistress Berkeley, and, in addition to becoming his wife, also became Baron Durham’s new chancellor. To all appearances, they got along well in their personal lives also: it was not eleven months before Brianna had borne Baron Durham a daughter, whom they named Margaret.
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And... fast-forward 18 years.

III. Two Prosperous Counties

Baron Durham peered out the castle window as he looked up from his table. The River Wear still wound his castle about in the autumn chill, flowing indifferently by just as it had eighteen years earlier when he had come into this title. It no longer sat on him like some awful burden, weighing him down with insurmountable responsibilities. He put his trust in his courtiers: Mistress Butler still watched out for him as faithfully and as loyally as any man ever could, and Mistress FitzPatrick, despite her occasional silly outbursts and nervous temper, continued to serve admirably as his county steward. There had also been some additions to his court in years past. Wulfnoth, a Saxon knight from parts southward, ran afoul of one of William’s Norman dukes and had asked in the spirit of kinship a place in Baron Durham’s protection. The hospitable blood ran strong in Baron Durham’s veins, and he could not refuse such a request. As it turned out, Wulfnoth earned his keep many times over. Maelwine, raised in the shelter of the cloister, was no soldier, but as a nobleman it was expected that he keep, maintain and lead his armies into battle at the behest of his lord. Wulfnoth lent the young Baron his considerable aid in all matters military, which did help keep his knights and vassals happy. And then there was Egbert d’Audley. The papal legate had insisted that Baron Durham appoint the Holy Father’s favourite to the office of Bishop for Durham. Though Baron Durham disapproved of the manner in which the request was given and could not fully trust the cleric’s leering eye, he was a pious man and did not refuse.

Indeed, the Baron Durham was comfortable at last, having spent just as much time now in the peerage as he had in his education. The Earl of Northumbria had been thankfully allowed to retain his place as William’s vassal. Maelwine was glad, as rumours had been growing in his early years that William was looking toward the Norman Robert Comine to replace his liege. Morcar, in his relief at being allowed to remain, had granted Maelwine some additions to his demesne in the rather unproductive far north, retaining the choicer counties of York and Westmorland in his own. Maelwine welcomed the extra responsibility, and so far had a good deal to show for it.


Baron Durham leaned his large frame back in his chair and massaged his thick brows. Northumberland’s new tile manufactory had finally been completed, and he could turn his attention toward other projects. He had already earned some respect from the Church for furthering the cause of learning in his demesne – the libraries he’d encouraged through his coffers were the pride of the northern counties. And he thanked Aelfthryth from the bottom of his heart that she’d nudged him toward improving Durham’s forestries. The county reeves were bringing in more silver now than ever before, adding significantly to his own store of wealth and prestige.

He turned as the Baroness of Durham entered at his door, as beautiful as the day he’d wed her. Sure, there were a few more lines about her eyes, a couple wrinkles at the corners of her lips; such things are to be expected when one’s wife has borne one fourteen children. But to Maelwine, Brianna’s maturing had done nothing to detract from her considerable charms. She carried tiny Saexred, the sixth of their sons and the youngest among their children, at her breast.

‘Milord,’ she addressed him, ‘I’ve heard a request from his Excellency Bishop d’Audley. Apparently his diocese wants to hold a three-days’ fair next year, starting on Saint Cuthbert’s Day, and wish to have a charter drafted that will grant them the right.’

‘Come here, darling,’ Maelwine invited her. He stood and put his arms about her, joining her in admiring their infant son. ‘But surely Mistress FitzPatrick could have taken care of that?’

‘Oh, no,’ Brianna told him. ‘It falls under my duties, since the townsfolk were all against it. Apparently it’s hard enough to get by in Durham without them having to close their shops for a three-day Church festival, and they want either for there to be no festival or for the guilds to get some compensation for it.’

‘So, what should we decide?’ asked Maelwine, now brushing her ear with his lips.

‘I think,’ Brianna grinned, ‘that we should decide to put Saexred to bed before you go any further with that.’

‘A good idea, as always,’ Maelwine murmured as he led her toward Saexred’s room. ‘The Church makes a good deal of money from such festivals; surely they can afford the townspeople some small recompense.’

‘That’s what I thought, and it sounded as though his Excellency would agree to such a proposal, so between us three we should be able to tease something out on the morrow.’

‘Did Bishop d’Audley bring his deacon?’

‘Of course he did. The little fellow, Cnebba.’

‘Did you inquire after Harold?’

‘Cnebba says Harold’s doing remarkably well in his studies, and though he’s not making friends that easily, he has a few. Also, the nuns have nothing but words of praise about our Eadhild. She’s a perfect little Christian, not kind and fair just to her younger sisters but also to the other girls.’

‘That’s good to hear.’

‘Yes,’ Brianna agreed. ‘Oh, another thing. Our Uhtred’s getting married to Ingebjørg Gudrødsdottir of the Western Isles. I struck the bargain with her father’s messenger this past week.’

‘A Viking?’ asked Maelwine, tensing. ‘When the Count of Ångermanland offered his hand to Margaret, it was different, but Uhtred marrying…’

‘I know how you feel about them,’ sighed Brianna, ‘but Fulford and Stamford Bridge were a long time ago, and it was a good match for them both. We now have strong ties to the Thanes north of Scotland as well as several claims to Highland territories, and I must admit that Uhtred didn’t seem too displeased with the idea.’

‘He’s still so young,’ Maelwine grumbled. ‘Do you remember when we were that young?’

‘Yes,’ Brianna said. She beamed upon her child as she did upon each of her children, as little Saexred’s breathing slowed and calmed. Maelwine looked upon them both with a mixture of pride and some sadness that he could not have spent more time with them. His wife tucked Saexred snugly into his cradle, then fixed her gaze intently upon her husband.

‘You were saying something earlier,’ Maelwine began playfully as he caught her in his arms, ‘about “teasing something out”?’

‘So I was,’ breathed his wife.
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Cliffracer RIP said:
So your wife's a bastard. I though you didn't get female bastards in CK?

They can become bastards by event or she is a historical character from the start of the scenario.

And BTW welcome to the forum Revan86. Really good writing so far.
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A good start to the aar
Hmmm... Durham... where have I heard that name before?

Nice start to the AAR--good writing. :cool:
Thanks for the positive feedback! I've been playing a bit more, and the developments have been... interesting. Not fiscally beneficial, but definitely interesting.

IV. Waiting and Watching


Eadred of Durham scowled at the map that lay unfurled before him on the table, a scowl fit to burn clean through the vellum. The elderly Wulfnoth had died some years before, and his father had quite early recognised his skill at arms, making him his marshal. Eadred felt he owed a great deal to his doting father, but he also saw in him a good man who just could not take initiative when an opportunity was presented to him. Generous his father was with his goods, his person and his time, but cautious and conservative when it came to dealing with his neighbours to the north.

The Scottish thanes sat to the north, warily watching their sometime enemies in the lowlands, who returned the suspicion in full. Eadred’s own wife Donada was Scottish, as were several other courtiers in Durham. Maelwine, a border noble, would of course try to cultivate good relations with the Highlanders, marry his sons to Scottish women, look to the north for a stable truce.

Such an arrangement, however carefully planned, could not last forever. Soldiers like Eadred realised this.

Aethelmaer, the new steward in Durham, passed by Eadred’s chamber. Eadred called to his younger brother:

‘Hullo, Aethelmaer! Have you a moment?’

Aethelmaer nodded curtly and stepped inside. Eadred glanced at his brother briefly across the map. Aethelmaer was of a rather mean disposition: though he was given the same education as his father, he had inherited none of his father’s beneficence of spirit. He had a tight fist which, Eadred admitted, could handle money quite well – but was just as deft in dealing blows to his inferiors. He showed a greater tolerance toward his kin than even toward his poor wife. There were some times when Eadred wondered whether being raised in such a large family as theirs was so very beneficial: growing up alongside eight brothers and ten sisters, all in fierce competition for their parents’ favour, was bound to produce the occasional Aethelmaer. That, and Uhtred, to whom Eadred had looked up for so long, had fallen ill and passed away while he was still a squire. Now Harold was growing uncharacteristically irritable.

‘What’s wrong, brother? Are you going to tell me something important? I have no time for idle games.’

Eadred brushed his hair out of his eyes and looked again at the map. He traced his finger up the representation of the eastern coast, past the Cheviot Hills and toward the River Tweed. ‘There,’ Eadred tapped his finger on the vellum, ‘is the demesne of Gospatrick of Atholl, Duke of Berwick. He controls all this territory between the Tweed and the Firth of Forth: all lowland, all prime territory. And what’s better: our dear father is able to make and defend claims on both the land and on the Duke’s title.’

‘And your point?’

‘You know Father just as well as I do. He’s a good man, but he lacks steel and decisiveness. Here we have a ripe fruit ready to be picked, but I fear Baron Durham will not move to pick it when the time arises.’

‘Should we not then declare war?’

‘Not yet. Scotland’s armies are recovering from a Crusade against the Saracens, and once again turning their eyes toward the border. Thankfully, you’ve managed to keep house well. Our own vassals are happy and willing to contribute their men to our cause: in a pinch, perhaps three thousand strong. But that’s not enough. If our father drags our king into a war with Scotland’s, our counties will be the first overrun, and we’ll be in the midst of a long, indecisive war.’

‘So what is it you wish to propose?’ Aethelmaer grew impatient.

‘Simply give me your support. Lend me your voice when the time comes: when the Scots find themselves unable to counter our strength and that of the English crown. When two of Baron Durham’s sons and advisors call for action, surely he will not refuse us,’ Eadred finished.

Aethelmaer squinted at his brother as though to find any excuse, however slight, to refuse him. But Aethelmaer saw the benefits that would come with obtaining the lands across the Tweed. And Eadred, despite being Father’s spoiled favourite, certainly knew how to do that which he did best; if ever it came to battle with the enemy, it would be a brave and a foolish one who would face Eadred and expect victory.

‘Very well,’ Aethelmaer grumbled. ‘When the time comes, I shall do all in my power to aid you.’

‘For now, we wait,’ Eadred cautioned. ‘We wait, and we watch.’
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V. An Unexpected Offer

The time came suddenly and without warning, as the very first days of spring arrived in early March, of the Year of Our Lord 1102. The Duke of Atholl decided to rise up against his king, embroiling all Scotland in a brutal civil war. Malcolm Dunkeld, King of Scotland, exhausted from his Crusade against the Saracens of North Africa, hurriedly called together his men for the cold march north into the rebellious Highlands.

‘Father, you must act now,’ Eadred would say to his father as troops began to stir beyond the borders. ‘The rebels in Atholl will soon be calling on their kin in Berwick to join their rebellion. This is the perfect time: Berwick’s lord is in arms against Berwick’s family. We can take it as soon and as easily as you please.’

‘I must agree with my elder brother, milord,’ Aethelmaer added. ‘We are not only prospering, but our lands can support far more troops than ever before: five thousand strong, with Northumberland’s newly-built castle. There will never be a better time to strike.’

The Baron Durham put his hand over his old eyes. At the age of fifty-one, his hair had grown grey and his paunch had increased, yet he had lost none of his noble spirit nor his dislike of fighting. And yet, these were his sons who asked this of him: Eadred, the son he had raised himself since birth, and Aethelmaer, who after Mistress FitzPatrick’s death had proven himself her equal in management.

‘But will we involve our liege, Aldwulf Earl? Or Robert King?’ Aldwulf was the son of the late Morcar Earl of Northumbria and Wulfthryth, to whom Maelwine had shown equal if not greater loyalty.

‘They are already involved, Father. Robert will move quickly if he sees the chance for gain, and our lord Aldwulf with him. To be perfectly frank, Father, you should also.’

The Baron Durham bowed his head in resignation, and told his eager son to prepare his troops while he prepared a declaration of war upon Gospatrick Duke of Berwick.

Maelwine and Eadred each led a regiment into Berwick. Berwick’s armies, exhausted from warring with their kinsmen as per Malcolm Dunkeld’s draught, were no match for Durham’s army of five thousand. They quickly laid siege to the lowland fortress, and Berwick-upon-Tweed was soon captured. Gospatrick capitulated to Maelwine and acknowledged the Baron as the rightful lord of Berwick.

It was not the final battle they would fight, however. Malcolm King of Scotland had in the meanwhile stamped out Atholl’s rebellion and stripped him of his title and lands, leading his armies southward into Lothian and bringing them to bear upon Durham. Eadred again had his father’s ear, and the Baron Durham’s forces arrived first in Lothian. The battle was pitched on the Castle Rock beside the Firth, with Malcolm’s armies on the one side and Maelwine’s on the other. Maelwine knew the face of his enemy: two of his sons had married into the Dunkeld family, and in his dealings with Malcolm King had taken him for a vivacious, dedicated leader. Maelwine knew that the upcoming battle would not be an easy one to win.

Eadred was exulting in the moment. Long had he studied the patterns, the movements of war under his tutor, and now was the time to put all the martial theories and tactics he’d learned to test. He took pleasure in watching his commanders position themselves, pulling the swordsmen and cavalry and archers into line. While Eadred was centred on his own front, Maelwine looked across toward his opponent. The slender, tow-haired Scot in front of him he knew now for kin, and it would sadden him to know that his grandchildren would see one of their grandfathers defeat and humiliate, or perhaps even kill, the other.

The archers in the front row on either side loosed their arrows and fell back. The air was thick with whizzing and thudding as the deadly rain fell, and then with screams as Eadred ordered all his men to charge.

Before he knew it, Maelwine was drowning in the fighting, thrashing his way through with his Viking sword as though gasping for air. In a sudden, detached sensation he could see down the line that the Scots had broken and were retreating. A slight-framed man on horseback charged toward him, and Maelwine readied his sword against him, but he realised instantly whom it was he faced.

‘Hold, Malcolm King!’

The horse halted, its master with a puzzled, disapproving look on his face. ‘Surely you don’t wish the dishonour of surrender upon yourself? Speak, I’m listening.’

‘You can’t win this battle,’ Maelwine informed him. ‘Your commanders are falling back, and your men are falling faster than are mine. You exhausted yourself in the war against the treacherous Duke of Atholl, and managed to antagonise Berwick in so doing. I beg you, upon our relationship as kinsmen, having bonded ourselves in blood through our children, to end this slaughter.’

The King of the Scots scrutinised him a long, hard while. ‘It is true that in times past you have proven a valuable friend, Baron Durham. Your sons provided me with heirs, so that the Dunkeld line would not simply vanish into obscurity. But now you have robbed me of a key vassal, however disloyal he proved to me. We may shed no more blood here, Baron Durham, if you will in the same spirit of kinship accept this offer: you may keep Berwick, but you must swear your fealty to me as its Duke.’

Baron Durham was a Saxon to his very core, and at his heart a peace-loving one. So even when it came from a Scot, the appeal to blood-ties was nigh irresistible. He valued his relations even higher than he valued his liege, and if a peaceable arrangement with his neighbours was possible, it didn’t matter whether his liege was a Norman or a Scotsman. At long last, Baron Durham nodded, and Malcolm King of Scotland smiled.

‘Men,’ Malcolm yelled, ‘fall back! Maelwine Duke of Berwick has won the day!’


And so he had, but his coffers certainly hadn't. Malcolm draughted both his Berwick and his Northumberland regiments in his war against England, if only for the one month they were actually at war...

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Hah, poverty is ever the name of the game!
Veldmaarschalk said:
Excellent work !

King Robert 'Curthose' will not like this at all

No, he won't. Of course, it was never my intention to leave the Kingdom of England, especially since I'd conquered Berwick in a previous game with one of the northern English dukes and remained English. But I guess the biggest title wins out. (Thankfully, my intermarriage with the Dunkelds made it a lot easier to RP than it normally would have been.)

stnylan said:
Hah, poverty is ever the name of the game!

Indeed. But OOC I guess I can't complain too much. I've had incredible luck this game, but that's partly from playing so conservatively (which as a Count you kinda have to do). In one of my other games I was playing the Duke of Gwynedd, who decided to go on Crusade partly to conquer northern Spain and partly to relieve himself of the 'sceptical' trait (which he did). In the process, though, he also relieved himself of 750 gold which he didn't have.

Live and learn, I guess, is the motto.
Polar Mongoose said:
A good read. I nearly always play either Saxon or Catalan dynasties, so this one will be interesting for me to follow

Then I'm sure you'll enjoy who succeeded Robert Curt-Hose when he died in this game...
VI. Saewald’s Inheritance

Maelwine Duke of Berwick passed away peaceably in Berwick-upon-Tweed in the Year of our Lord 1116 at the age of sixty-five, succeeded by his sons Eadred, the new Duke of Berwick, and Aethelmaer Bishop of Northumbria. Brianna, Eadred and his second wife Aelfwyn all attended the funeral, conducted by Aethelmaer himself in an uncharacteristic display of filial emotion. Maelwine’s body was laid to rest, as per his request, at the church in Durham, beside the River Wear. Maelwine had died with no regrets, and thanks unto God that he was able to look upon his great-grandson before he died. He took his last rites and asked Eadred to look after the land and serve his king well. He then laid his hand upon his two-year-old great-grandson and breathed his last.

Durham mourned its Duke’s passing as few cities do, for it had gone under Maelwine from being a neglected border county to the most prosperous port city in the whole of Scotland. Eadred Lord Berwick did not know how to fill his father’s shoes, but as long as he lived and breathed he swore he would do the best that he could. He owed his father that much. As some time passed, however, Eadred fell into a deep decline. His father’s loss he felt deeply, and more so his lack of skill in administering his lands. Eadred followed his father not one year after, from sickness, stress and despair, leaving the duchy to his son, Saewald.


Saewald grieved over the sudden loss of much of his family: he had been the favourite of both his father and his great-grandfather. His son, also named Saewald, had been the recipient of his great-grandfather’s last blessing! But Saewald the Elder, the new Duke of Berwick, was yet young and ambitious, and would not succumb to grief as his father had. Why should he? Though he possessed a rather cynical view of the world, he was well aware of his position in it. He had land and wealth, and was blessed with a relatively happy and politically savvy marriage. Even though she was a year older than he was, Aelflaed, his chancellor as well as his wife, had been instrumental in maintaining good relations (or at least preventing outright hostilities) with a generally unhappy England to their south. After all, she was cousin to the influential Duke of Hampshire, Guy de Bohun. Though it seemed England, too, had also made way for a new ruler. Robert Curt-Hose had been succeeded by his grandson Sancho de Normandie, who had just been crowned.


He came upon Aelflaed, Lady Berwick as she was leafing through some of her predecessors’ vellums one day. Her womb was beginning to swell with the promise of their fifth child, and even the seriousness of her duties could not detract from her expectant radiance. Saewald put his arms about her shoulders as he peered over them.

‘I trust the work is not stressing you too much, Aelflaed,’ he joked.

‘I’ve found some that may interest you, my lord,’ she replied. ‘Your father and grandfather kept busy. Take a look at all this scribe-work. York, Hereford… They must have gone to a lot of trouble to attain that one…’

‘Claims?’ Saewald laughed. ‘Grandfather was too lazy and Father was too sunk in his own depression. How would they have gotten claims on… Tir Connaill?’

‘It looks like Maelwine Duke, may he rest in peace, wasn’t interested only in Erse women. He had a legitimate claim on most of the tuaths in Ulster while he was alive, but how I don’t know. Lady Brianna came nowhere near the successions of any of the tuaths either as a woman or as an illegitimate child. But as his heir, you now have legitimate claims on Ulster yourself, my lord.’

‘That can’t be right,’ Saewald squinted at the document, as though he could see through the vellum leaf to its error.

‘But there it is,’ objected his wife. Her ambitious Norman blood was beginning to surface as she thought to her husband’s prestige. ‘If you could take them, it would make you Scotland’s most influential lord.’


‘Yes,’ murmured Saewald in agreement. ‘But could it be done? I’ll have to consult with Aelle Percy, of course.’

‘Make me proud, my lord Saewald,’ Aelflaed exhorted him.

Saewald gave her a quick kiss, took the vellums from her and left to seek Marshal Aelle. It was true that Ulster was good, prosperous territory. A war for that title might not be such a terrible loss, after all.

It were thoughts such as these that stuck in the mind of this young Duke of Berwick for the next few days. Perhaps his relations had been neither as lazy nor as weak as he had first thought: they had given him a prime opportunity, and he was never one to pass such up when they came before him.
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Ulster a good and prosperous territory? He's been eating too many mushrooms if you ask me! ;) Though the prestige would be a good thing.