Knights of the Realm
The Age of Ambrosius and Before
“Who is that handsome young man who is at court so recently? Do you think it’s true he is the king’s bastard?”
“Well, if he is recognized then we can expect another dozen or so to show up!”
“You are terrible! Maybe he’s just another warrior come to save us from the Saxons.”
“Saxons? I’m watching out for the Irish! That Estregales isn’t worth trusting, sure as a horse has four legs!”
“Oh dear, what if both the Saxons and Irish attack? We’ll surely be doomed. I’m too young to die — or worse!”
Ulfius: “Paschent has allied with the Irish King, Gillomanius. They have landed in Cambria, and are now raiding it. King Aesc of Kent is assembling a fleet, too. We don’t know what he is planning to do with it.”
Aurelius Ambrosius: “Our brother, Prince Uther, will lead an army to the west to combat the Irish invasion. His son, Madoc, a most worthy young man, shall be knighted by our own hand, so that he may join his father in reaping the glory from the battlefield. We shall stay behind with the other half of the army to keep an eye on those treacherous Saxons.”
The Knighting of Prince Madoc
Battle of Salisbury
An army of Saxons led by Aesc, the King of Kent, sails their dragon-prowed longships up the Avon River into Salisbury. While preparing to repel the invaders High King Aurelius Ambrosius is poisoned by – as rumours have it – a treacherous physician. Despite his illness, Aurelius Ambrosius leads his army against the enemy. At the same time, Uther is leading his part of the army against the Irish in Cambria.
Bringing the Saxons to battle as they disembark, the knights of Salisbury have the advantage of superior troops and their horse. The battle rages for most of the day when Aurelius Ambrosius, weakened by the poison, dies in the fighting. The British army wavers as the cry “The King is dead!” spreads through the ranks. The army starts to retreat, the Saxons howling in victory. A great star appears on the evening sky, apparently to mark the King’s passing.
Duke Gorlois of Cornwall takes command, rallying the British. “Avenge the King! Death to Saxons!” He leads the charge of the reserves and catches the Saxons by surprise and cuts their army in half.
Battle of Menevia
Uther’s army meets the Irish at the seashore of Menevia where the Irish have beached their ships. The King of Estregales closes himself and his army into his castles, refusing to fight for either side. Though outnumbered by the Irish, Uther’s troops are both superior in quality and mounted. The battle rages all day, the Irish fighting back savagely to prevent being driven into the sea, their numbers allowing them to absorb the knight’s charges without breaking.
It is almost dark when a bright star appears in the sky, Uther is encouraged and orders a last, all-out, charge. This charge crushes the Irish foes and puts them to rout. The Irish try to flee to their ships, but the Britons chase them and butcher them at the seaside, the sea turning red with their blood.
Funeral of the High King
Aurelius Ambrosius is interred with great ceremony and sorrow in the Giants Dance, an ancient monument in Salisbury that had been prepared for this by Merlin. The barons of Logres acclaim Uther as their new king. Most of the Supreme Collegium is present for the funeral and Uther asks them to confirm him as the next High King of Britain. However, after the secret ballot, Uther has fewer than half of the total votes – far short of the three-fourths majority needed.
Death of Sir Gwylon
Baron Gwylon dies in the Battle of Salisbury with King Aurelius Ambrosius. King Uther reclaims properties gifted for life to Gwylon, including Wynchbank Castle. Lady Ellen, still an heiress to extensive landholdings, becomes Uther’s ward.
Immediately several lords proposition the King for her hand, including the new Duke of the Vale, Sir Ulfius, speaking for his man, Sir Blains. Uther claims it is too early to make a decision, Ellen is still a girl and a complete inventory needs to be taken of the inheritance. Two clear front-runners
emerge, though: Count Roderick and Sir Blains, the latter elevated to the Stewardship of Levcomagus by Duke Ulfius. Count Roderick is keeping his
eye on the other eligible maidens in the kingdom.
Coronation of Uther
Uther is crowned King of Logres at Westminster Abbey outside of Londinium. With great ceremony the Barons of Logres kneel and swear homage to their new King. King Uther keeps Gorlois kneeling longer than others, before accepting the duke’s homage.
King Uther confirms two new Dukes: Sir Edaris as the Duke of the Marche by inheritance, and Sir Ulfius, his long-time companion, as the Duke of the Vale by appointment. Both men swear homage to Uther for their new lands and titles. The title of the Duke of the Saxon Shore is vacant; its previous holder, Lord Ventrius, died at the Battle of Salisbury, leaving behind his one-year old heir, Lucius. King Uther, as is his right as the liege lord, claims the wardship of the child. A great feast follows.
- Spring: On the Road to Winchmere. Or: how to befriend and alienate people…
- Spring: The Bear and the Bandits
- Spring: The Squires Become Knights
- Summer: Off to Battle
- Spring 480 AD, A fight between Dalan and Tristan and how a boar caused them to muck out stables.
- Visiting the Winterbourne Gunnets
For years, Aurelius Ambrosius has been building a fleet of ships in the ports of his western lands. In this year, he musters his army and sets sail, sweeping around the southern coast, where he destroys the fleets of the Saxons in Britain. Then he sails to the Continent, destroying all the hostile shipping as he goes.
The British army lands in Frisia, doing great damage to the Saxons there, and winning the Battle of Frisia against the barbarians. The Saxons in Britain begin vicious raiding in retaliation, until they are stopped by Uther when they invade Salisbury.
Another Saxon king, Ælle, lands in southern Britain with a large army and takes over the area. Many of the
peasants flee, but others are captured and enslaved. Ælle renames the land South Saxony, or Sussex. Aurelius Ambrosius marches with his army to oppose the foe, who is reinforced at the last moment by the Saxons from Kent. Ambrosius is lucky to escape with his army. The Saxons remain.
The Saxons of Kent roam and pillage the land. Only fortified places are safe, and the peasants suffer terribly.
The Saxons, confident of victory, march into the Thames Valley. King Aurelius Ambrosius raises an army to resist and meets the Saxon army for the battle of Windsor, which results in a major Saxon victory and the British army routing off the field.
Many Saxons come over from the Continent and settle in Kent under their king, Hengest. High King Aurelius Ambrosius maintains an unsteady peace with the Saxons, Irish, and Picts, despite their raiding. His younger brother, Uther, makes a name for himself as a great warrior in countering these raids and leading picked warriors on raids into enemy territory.
Aurelius Ambrosius and his army pursueVortigern and besiege him in his new castle on Mount Snowdon. A battle ensues, at which Vortigern is killed and his army scattered. Aurelius Ambrosius summons the High Council, and they elect him High King. He takes the title of Pendragon (“high dragon” or “head dragon”), derived from his great battle banner.
Aurelius Ambrosius, son of the former King Constantin and brother of Constans, lands in Hampshire with an army from Brittany. He carries a great banner with a red dragon upon it. All across the land, discontented nobles muster their armies and join him. Vortigern seeks to escape, but his Saxon allies go back home to Kent, and many other allies desert him.
After besieging a portion of Vortigern’s army at Carlion, Aurelius Ambrosius marches through the entire island, accepting the submission of those loyal to Vortigern.
Vortigern, with his Saxons, marches back and forth across Britain, extracting tribute and plunder. Many more Britons flee the land.
Ostensibly to bring peace to all sides, Vortigern and Hengest call a council of all combatants to meet at Stonehenge for a feast of peace. Seeking reconciliation, almost all British knights attend. The Saxons prove their worth through great treachery, though, and the majority of the nobles of Britain are slain in the “Night of Long Knives.” In the subsequent confusion, a large part of their armies are dispersed or slain. The Earl of Salisbury is among the dead.
The rule of King Vortigern has proved unwise and very oppressive, often favoring his Saxon mercenaries (and in-laws) over his lawful subjects. Many nobles have talked of rebellion, and when Vortigern’s eldest son (by his first marriage) agrees to lead the nobles, general rebellion breaks loose. The Count of Salisbury is among the rebels to fight in the Battle of Cambridge.
Many dissident Britons depart from the island, moving with their families and possessions to Brittany.
The eastern Britons rebel, protesting the policies of King Vortigern. The king summons his army, including the Saxons, and marches against them. A great battle ensues at Kent, in which the rebels are crushed. Vortigern gives the great lands of the Kantii tribe to his loyal Saxons. Many Britons pack up and depart the land, moving to Brittany to escape the rule of Vortigern.
News arrives that Rome, the center of the civilized world, has been sacked! The tribe of Germans called the Vandals has done the impossible and brought Rome low. The Western Empire is finished.
Vortigern moves Cornovii warriors to Dumnonia, and Votadini to Cambria, where they expel the Irish. Vortigern is persuaded to settle Saxons under Hengest’s sons Octa and Eossa in former Parisi lands, founding Nohaut and Deira. Shiploads of Continental Saxons flock to the new theods.
Northern Irish under Fearghus begin colonizing Dal Riada. Vortigern sends raids into Irish lands.
News from the continent indicates that the Huns, led by their king, Attila, reached the walls of Rome itself but were unable to storm or besiege it. Some say the Huns were stopped because they lacked siege engines, others that they failed because of the pope’s piety. After failing to smash or bluff Rome into submission, the Hun army turns to Gaul for pillage and plunder, scouring the land of its wealth, slaughtering as it goes. The commander in Gaul, Aetius, calls for help from all who will send it, and Vortigern sends a small contingent. The allied army meets the Huns at Chalons, where the Huns are defeated and driven from Europe.
Vortigern, impressed with the battle prowess of the Saxons and even more with the talents of Rowena, the daughter of the Saxon chief Hengest, marries her this year in a lavish celebration. Hengest receives the Cantiacii civitas as her bride price and renames it Kent. Many voice concern that King Vortigern is favoring these newcomers more than local loyal native Britons.
During this time, King Vortigern spares his own army, using the Saxons to drive the Picts out of the north. More Saxons come to Britain, including many families, and Hengest’s daughter Rowena becomes a favorite at Vortigern’s court. News from the Continent is persistent in saying that new foes, the Huns, are defeating the German tribes right and left. These savages are thought to be half demon, half horse.
King Vortigern realizes that he needs assistance against the furious Picts and, in good Roman fashion, hires new barbarians to fi ght the old barbarians. The Saxon kings Hengest and Horsa come from the Continent with their bands of warriors to join Vortigern’s army. Thus reinforced, the Briton army marches north against the Picts. Battle is met near the city of Lincoln, and it is a great victory for the British.
The Picts stage a massive invasion, with their armies occupying much of the north and bands of raiders penetrating all the way into Logres. Rather than risk a great loss, King Vortigern orders his armies to dig in and garrison their homes and holdings.
Young King Constans is murdered by his Pictish bodyguards. After much debate, Duke Vortigern is selected to be the next King of the Britons. The younger brothers of King Constans are taken away to Brittany in secret.
Also this year, a prelate from the pope, the saintly Germanus, comes to Britain to condemn and combat British Christianity. Your grandfather either
resists or supports this, depending upon the family’s choice of religion.
At the urging of Duke Vortigern of the Gewessi, the High Council chooses Constans, the young son of Constantin, as king. Constans is a young, bookish type, however, so he relies on his uncle, Duke Vortigern, for advice.
During this year, King Constantin is murdered by one of his own guards.
The Saxons raid heavily across Logres. King Constantin forces the Saxons to battle at Carlion and soundly defeats the Saxon invaders.