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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

stnylan

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A toehold on the isle.
 
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The Irish are humbled, and that is very good. Perhaps some revenge against the traitorous Scots is in order?
More power will allow Strathclyde to become an effective counter to the English - especially when they’re united by Wessex.
The Scots have little wealth to be extracted, and they pose little threat to the rising Strathclyde, they shall wait before their time comes.
A first step across the sea. I would be very nervous if I governed the isle of Mann right now.
Indeed, it sits quite close to the mainland, and its Norse-Gaelic populace should definitely fear the Britons.
Meirchion is a cruel bastard. It makes you feel for the frigging Vikings. No doubt the Saxon chroniclers will tell all sorts of tales of his "barbarity." I do not envy his future bride. Still, the Britons are back on there feet.
Such is the way with war I'm afraid, the Britons have endured much over the past centuries, whether by the Romans, English, or Norse. A little strike back is only just, especially against heathens who have no fear of God. Perhaps Meirchion shall teach them to fear the axe.
A toehold on the isle.
Indeed, although I'm afraid it will remain so for many years, as Meirchion's ambitions lie elsewhere.
 
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Chapter 8

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CHAPTER VIII

KING MEIRCHION OF THE THOUSAND AND ONE NAMES

There is no consensus among historians as to what moniker the renowned King Meirchion should be given in modern writings, for even during his reign, the legend of Meirchion had outgrown the real person. It was a time of great prosperity for Strathclyde and the Britons within. The meteoric rise of the Kingdom had elevated the standards of living for the average folk, to a level not witnessed since before the Roman invasions. While the Irish had rampaged through the northern towns during their departure years ago, the Viking raids had nearly ceased completely, as the King had subdued its neighboring Kingdom of Northumbria, as well as the Irish, who often supported such raiders. It was a golden age for the Britons of the North.

Prospers.png

The capital and Kingdom prosper

The economy of the British kingdoms were food-based, for they lacked coinage of their own. Food rent was the means through which the Kings of Strathclyde would acquire its wealth from the peasantry, while the nobles and chieftains would often deal in cattle. In times of strength, the old English Kingdom of Northumbria would project its power through its mints, producing high quality coinage that the Britons would often trade for, but as Northumbria had fallen to the Norse, the mints had nearly ceased to produce entirely, with what few new coins remained being devalued with cheaper metals. As Strathclyde grew in size, the collection of taxes became problematic for King Meirchion, for a food-based economy could not sustain his ambitions over the entire island. Being the new dominant realm in the North, it was only right for Strathclyde to assume the role of the once-great Northumbria, and so he set about gathering learned men, establishing concise limits to the lands of each of the lords in the Kingdom, as well as recruiting skilled moneyers who could produce the first Briton coins in the isles. Not only would that simplify barter in the Kingdom, but also bring about great prestige, being the first Briton monarch to establish his own currency.

Economy, coinage.png

King Meirchion "the Administrator," working to establish a new economic system for his growing realm

coinage.JPG

The Cumbri "Ceiniog", or Penny, the first mint by a Briton monarch

Despite using much of his time to establish the basis for a thriving economy, King Meirchion was known to frequent the monasteries and abbeys of his realm, where the holy men would refer to him as King Meirchion "the Blessed," for his great contributions to the church. Many of the old abbeys and churches were restored during his reign, and the monks grew fat and jolly as they enjoyed the benefits of a charitable king, who sought to grow his realm not only in the world of man, but above as well. During his reign, the Kingdom of Strathclyde grew rich in holy relics, for Meirchion went about establishing a special retinue dedicated to the search of these blessed items. He would also continue his patronage by funding miracle plays, as well as the construction of a new Bishopric, where the remains of St. Mungo would be safely stored.

Patronage of church.png

King Meirchion "the Blessed," a pious and charitable monarch, truly God's King

St Mungo's Church.jpg

The Church of Saint Mungo (modern day)

King Meirchion's affinity toward the church did have its downsides however, at least for those who did not adhere to the strict regulations of the clergy. Such was the case of many of the new converts from the recent conquests, who perhaps due to ignorance, or maybe outright refusal of their oaths, wrongly professed faith toward false idols. Such a holy King would impart justice on those wretched men in this life, to match what they would suffer as they faced judgement.

Apostates.png

The fumes never seemed to cease as the holy men of Strathclyde went about punishing heathens and heretics, having been given free reign over the land

As the peasantry, traders, and clergy enjoyed the prosperous reign of King Meirchion, so did the fierce Cumbri warriors who wisely chose to follow the King into battle. Feasts and games were organized often by the King's men, with ample rewards for the winners. In some occasions, one could even participate alongside the King, as Meirchion often took part in these events, for he knew the best way to inspire loyalty among his men was to be one of them. Preferring to wrestle and train with his fellow warriors rather than his personal guard, Meirchion led by example, growing his skill and strength for all men to see. His leadership in battle was awe inducing, but even outside of battle, few men could inspire such devotion as King Meirchion "the Lionheart."

Warrior.png

While the men of Strathclyde sang Meirchion's praises, outside of his borders, his name alone inspired fear in the hearts of men. The Irish well knew of this, as much of Ulster was now reigned by the Cumbri, leaving devastation everywhere they laid their eyes upon. It was this invasion that had granted King Meirchion a bride-to-be, the young Sisuile, who had reached the age for marriage as the year 886 came to a close. While originally a captive of her future husband, Sisuile would grow to love Strathclyde, and its people. Her strength in the face of peril, as she was taken to this strange land was not unnoticed by the Cumbri, from who she would command great respect. It is from Sisuile herself that the future Queen Denyw would draw much from, becoming very much her mother's daughter. While this royal marriage would ultimately fail to produce any sons to inherit the Kingdom, the early birth of Princess Denyw merely a year later would have given the couple much hope, even if it never amounted to the desired result.

Irish Queen of Antrim.png

Queen Sisuile and her daughter, the future Queen of Strathclyde, Princess Denyw

Ireland and Northumbria were not the only targets of King Meirchion's ambitions however, as raids into Scotland would become a fact of life for the men of Strathclyde, who would venture yearly into those lands to seek plunder. There was no peace to be found for the neighbors of King Meirchion, "the Orphan-Maker," as his unfortunate victims came to know him as. Scotland would remain ravaged throughout Meirchion's reign, and while not outright annexed into his kingdom, all its wealth belonged to him and his men.

Raid Scott Capital.png

King Meirchion "the Orphan-Maker" in one of his many raids into the Scottish Kingdom

Famous Raider.png
 
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King Meirchion seems almost the perfect monarch, good, with money, a strong defender for the faith, a fine warrior, all he needs is to produce a son and heir...
 
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Shame that a male heir isn’t forthcoming, but Meirchion seems like a good King.

He does seem to be someone who has many faces...
 
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stnylan

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King Meirchion seems almost the perfect monarch, good, with money, a strong defender for the faith, a fine warrior, all he needs is to produce a son and heir...
He is certainly shaping up to be a legendary dynasty paragon
 
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Truly a remarkable monarch. I don't see how he can fail to produce a son, especially since I assume concubines are still allowed. Seems like he will be the type who lives by the sword and also dies by it.
 
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Truly a remarkable monarch. I don't see how he can fail to produce a son, especially since I assume concubines are still allowed. Seems like he will be the type who lives by the sword and also dies by it.
A very busy man he was, lacked the time to fulfill his marital duties. It is not all lost however, while Strathclyde remains very much tribal and opposed to women in power, Meirchion's reign is far from over, and one way or another, his legacy shall go on, son or not.
He is certainly shaping up to be a legendary dynasty paragon
King Meirchion seems almost the perfect monarch, good, with money, a strong defender for the faith, a fine warrior, all he needs is to produce a son and heir...
Shame that a male heir isn’t forthcoming, but Meirchion seems like a good King.

He does seem to be someone who has many faces...
He is quite great, but as the realm grows, so do his ambitions and pride. Make no mistake, Strathclyde is on the rise, but it is the overzealous ambitions of its monarchs, whether they be Artgal, Run, or Meirchion, that ultimately put the kingdom in the greatest of peril.

Thanks for reading y'all. That chapter lacked any "movement" on the story, but it felt fair to dedicate an entire chapter to chronicle the many internal achievements of the King. In retrospective, I wish I had paid more attention to the English side of the story as we move forward, for both Strathclyde and Wessex saw many changes, as King Alfred led the unification of the English. Two great monarchs in one relatively small island, ruling concurrently.
 
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Chapter 9

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CHAPTER IX

HOW THE LAW-MAKER OF STRATHCLYDE BROUGHT THE AUTHORITY OF ROME UNTO HIS FLOCK, BLESSING ITS PEOPLES FOR ETERNITY

For much of the early medieval period, British kings had few functions outside of military ones. Kings made war and gave judgement, but they did not govern in any sense of the word, especially when compared to their English neighbors, who by the 9th century had a very complex bureaucracy, greatly inspired by that of the Frankish kings. This had all begun to change under the reign of King Meirchion however, as he sought to centralize Strathclyde to better compete with the growing threat of an unified English Kingdom by the house of Wessex.

1920px-Scotland_Dumbarton_Castle_bordercropped.jpg

The former capital of Strathclyde, Alt Clud

While Strathclyde was quite distinct from the English kingdoms, it remained similar in how it handled the King and his court, which were a mobile one, rather than settled in a permanent capital as in the mainland. A mobile court allowed the King to better rule his lands, as he could keep tabs on his vassals, for the best way to assert your dominance in a decentralized kingdom was to be seen by the populace. When not journeying through their realm, the kings of Strathclyde would make Alt Clud, or "the Rock of the Britons," their capital. Alt Clud was a greatly defensible fortress, as the eponymous rock formations, as well as its position in the middle of a river made it virtually unable to suffer a siege or attack by anyone but the most intrepid of Vikings. While its protected position would make for a great permanent capital as Meirchion's kingdom centralized, and had been the center of power for his dynasty for generations, its position left it isolated from his realm, being only accessible by boat, which posed an accessibility problem for his court. Thus, King Meirchion saw the expansion of the nearby settlement of Guovan, or Govan, which would serve as the permanent residence of the Kings of Strathclyde. Thus, the Kingdom of Strathclyde or Ystrad Clud, gained its name, as the capital moved from Alt Clud (the previous name of the Kingdom and "capital") to Guovan, located in the "Strath of the River Clyde."

Now, rather than the King visiting his vassals, the vassals would be forced to commute to Guovan if they sought an audience with the king. The establishment of a permanent capital, as well as the many other reforms of King Meirchion had put a strain on the nobility, which felt their power diminished as the authority of the King rose. Thus, Meirchion would have to make concessions to his nobles, who up to this point had been more akin to tribal clans and chieftains, rather than a feudal hierarchy. Each cantref or county/chiefdom had its own laws and juries, and the local nobles reigned supreme, however the land in which they reigned was the possession of the King, and while they were normally passed down from father to son, the law stated otherwise. Thus, King Meirchion saw to imitate the English once more, borrowing the institution of "Bocland," or Bookland, in which the King would charter certain lands to be permanently owned by a person and his descendants. This secured the inheritance of the nobles of Strathclyde, who could now thoroughly invest into their lands freely as they no longer had to fear for the loss of them upon their death. This greatly increased the prosperity of the Kingdom, as rather than hoarding their wealth, the nobility started expanding their estates and new towns started to appear throughout the land, further increasing the revenues of trade throughout the region. As King Meirchion kept on dabbling on the legislature of the kingdom, he earned yet another moniker, "the Law-Maker."

Capture.JPG

A page from the Cyfraith Meirchion, or Laws of Meirchion, also known as Cumbri Law due to it being the backbone on which the laws of Strathclyde stem from.

While the implementation of Bocland greatly pleased the Cumbri nobility, the Nordic nobility of the Kingdom were far more interested in seeking plunder and taking wealth, rather than investing it. As many of them belonged to land-holding families all over the British Isles and Scandinavia, there were many claimants to many titles in the vicinity, chief among them being the Ynis Manaw, or the Isle of Man. The Flatnefr dynasty had been ousted from the island nearly two decades ago, but Jarl Björn still yearned for his lost home, which laid in a key position on the Irish Sea. If Meirchion launched a reconquest of the island, the Norse nobles would support the new laws of Meirchion, for they could acquire much plunder during the conflict, whilst also serving as an additional base from which to launch further attacks against the Irish. It was thus in September of 890 that King Meirchion would land in Ynis Manaw with one thousand men, laying siege to the island while the rest of the armies would remain in the mainland, deflecting any attacks from the Viking heathens.

Isle of man.png

Jarl Björn of Argyll and the latest target of the Cumbri wrath, King Alfr of the Isles

Occupy Mann.png

The siege of Ynis Manaw, September of 890

The island was taken without much slaughter by the forces under Meirchion, but as he suspected, the main force of King Alfr would intend to attack his mainland possessions, perhaps even conquer them, rather than defend the small island. Alfr and his men had began to assemble a large force in Northern Ireland, and had begun a siege of Meirchion's holdings in Ulster while they waited for the remainder of their men to arrive. Their plan was quite sound, but the large network of spies under the King's command had discovered their plans, and thus in April of 891, the men of Strathclyde, led by the Nordic nobility attacked the forces of King Alfr before they could assemble fully, destroying the backbone of his army and forcing his surrender. The men under Björn and the other Norse nobles then sailed to the remaining possessions of the defeated King, sacking their towns and seizing anything not attached to the floor that shined.

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The Battle of Antrim, April of 891

The nobility of Strathclyde had been pleased, and the centralization of the Kingdom would continue throughout Meirchion's reign without much disturbance until the dawn of the new century as Strathclyde joined the rest of mainland Europe and became a truly proper feudalistic and Christian Kingdom. His series of legislatures culminated as the year 900 began, with a visit from his Holiness Pope Lucius II, who formally consecrated King Meirchion in the Frankish fashion, declaring him God's King on Earth. King Meirchion had wanted to flaunt his wealth with lavish celebrations and gifts for Pope Lucius, with many of the nobility pitching in to assist in such a glorious event, but in true Christian fashion, Lucius rejected what basically amounted to bribes in the eyes of the Lord. What Pope Lucius truly wanted was total control over the religious matter of the Kingdom, requesting the investiture of Strathclyde's clergy to be in the hands of Rome, rather than the King (who usually delegated these duties to the Archbishop of Iona). King Meirchion was unable to resist such request, much to the dismay of the Cumbri clergy, who now feared their future might be in peril as Pope Lucius was known to place fellow Italians in positions of power all throughout Europe to better control the church.

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The legislation of Cyfraith Meirchion V, or the fifth and final of King Meirchion's Laws

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Pope Lucius II gaining full control over all religious matters in Strathclyde, and the supportive nobility assisting King Meirchion with the expenses of his coronation

As word of the festivities spread across Britain, the celebrations spread throughout the Kingdom, even reaching the peasantry, who had been able to participate on the many feasts across the land. King Meirchion would forever be associated as one, if not the greatest of all Cumbri Kings, standing through time as an example of what a truly great monarch could, and should be. While his entire reign had seen much of the conquest of Northern Britain, King Meirchion bowed to continue his reign as a true defender of Christendom, inspiring a zealous revival of his faith, which would ultimately benefit the Papacy, but would put his Kingdom in peril...

coronation.png


--------------------------------------
Just for clarification, there was a small timeskip of about 9 years in this chapter, but that was only done to conclude the developments of the internal politics and legislature of Strathclyde, I'll go back to what happened in 891-899 in the next chapter, which will mostly involve the previously mentioned "conquest of Northern Britain," as well as a bit about the English and the ultimate downfall of Northumbria :eek:. Also y'all, let me know if you like the usage of localized terms in this chapter, as there are plenty of Welsh/Anglo-Saxon words used here. If y'all prefer we can stick to a more modern, English vocabulary :p.
 
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Werson

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Very Interesting story so far
Wow! Meirchion is definitely going to go down in history, whether as a cruel pillager or a decisive leader. Either way, very fun to read! Excited to see how the English unification is going.
Thanks for reading y'all! Meirchion is definitely both though, gotta take a bit of revenge on the English, give the Norse a taste of their own medicine, and retake the island for the Britons. You can't do any of those things without pillaging a little on the way :p .
 
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stnylan

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Dragging the Pope all the way out there does make me smile.
 
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Cromwell

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I'm perfectly happy with the old terms and am greatly looking forwards to next update after those teasers!
 
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JSB217118

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Meirchion's reign is a true golden age for the Britons.
 
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codie

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The tales of the kings of Strathclyde are truly epic, from the troubled reign of his father to the rise of authority with Meirchion's reign, excellent job!
 
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HistoryDude

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I apparently missed this update.

Anyway, it seems as if the realm is becoming more centralized.

Hope this isn't dead, by the way, considering it has been more than a month since the last update...
 
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