Knights of the Realm
Christianity first reached Britain with the arrival of Jesus during the “missing years” of his life as
shown in the Roman gospels. He came with Joseph of Arimathea, a tin merchant, who later gave
his tomb for Jesus to be buried in. After the crucifixion Joseph was imprisoned for several years and
was given neither food nor water. When his captors later opened his cell, expecting to find a dessicated
corpse, they were greeted instead by a hale and hearty Joseph. He was kept alive by the Holy Grail, which
appeared to him each day and provided food and drink. The Roman authorities, awed and fearful of
this miraculous man, let him free.
Joseph gathered his family and followers and departed from the Holy Land, led by the Grail to found a new home in distant Britain where he already knew people who had traded him tin for the exotic goods of the near east. The island was not conquered by Rome yet. He was granted the lands of Glastonbury under extraordinary conditions, thanks to the piety of the king in Summerland. He established the first monastery, called Glastonbury. He began preaching to the locals, many of whom converted to the new faith. After many years he handed the Holy Grail over to a lineage of his descendants who became the Keepers of the Holy Grail. Others from his monastery began going about the country to preach and establish new abbeys. At Roman Sorviodunum his son established the first new abbey after Glastonbury, called the Abbey on the Rock, which name also identifies the site. It is known that many druids converted to Christianity and kept many of their old ways.
Joseph’s testament set the monastic standards and tone of the new religion in Britain. Most British abbeys follow his code and wear simple red-brown habits, and so are called Russet Monks. British Christianity differs from Roman Christianity in several important respects. The British
- reveres the sacred cup of resurrection as being of greater importance than the cross of death;
- is largely subservient to secular patrons who first financed the abbey foundations, a type of holding called a benefice;
- has no priests, but instead has Teachers, sometimes also called Shepherds;
- has no bishops, but some abbots have the power to authenticate new Teachers (since the coming of the Roman Church, they are called abbot-bishops);
- holds worship services in a circle centered around a table where Teachers sit, rather than at an altar, worshippers praying by looking upward with open arms;
- allows women teachers and abbesses who are fully equal to the males;
- is more closely associated with the commoners in the countryside, rather that with a Roman city.
Note that many abbot-bishops contribute troops to their patrons, but are not barons since they are not held from the king.
No single organization oversees the Russet Monks. Each abbey is independent of the others, and some tend to the poor while others tend to the nobles. Some abbeys are even small forts which provide refuge to their followers. Every abbey is headed by an abbot, who also has a power similar to Roman bishops to ordain their leaders, called “teachers,” who lead the rituals. Abbots are appointed by a local nobleman whose ancestor started the abbey.
An anchorite is a man or woman in a cell who does not ever move from where he or she sits to pray. Food and water are brought to the holy person
there. They are more common outside of Logres, and usually not in a monastic setting. Some live in communities, gathering only for food and common prayer, but spending most of their time alone. Others are hermits living alone in the wilderness.
Priories and Cells
A priory is a group of monks too few to be a monastery, and which is usually a daughter house to the monastery from which the original monks came. These are common and too numerous to list. Most baronies have at least a priory located on their home estate.
A cell is a single monk, who lives in seclusion, usually supported by a local lord to pray for him and his family. These are also called hermits.
Both churches have monasteries of Black Monks. Members are generally drawn from the noble class, are well educated, and are often found as advisors to the nobles. They tend to be more worldly than the russet monks.
The Black Monks first came to Britain as a Roman order. Many abbeys in Britain adapted the Black Monks’ Monastic Rule to their own use, including wearing black habits, but not their haircut. British Black Monks began because participants were attracted to their particular rules and intentions. The order had begun with strict regulations and rules, but over time these have become so relaxed that many individuals accept the training and offices of the church but are actually more loyal to their family or noble employer.
Black Monks of both religious traditions live in respectful harmony with each other, although in separate monasteries. While they may hold the
usual political grudges, they have no spiritual strife. The Black Monks have been around long enough to have acquired lands and wealth, which separates them from their more humble brethren.
The Indigo Monks are drawn from nobles and common classes alike, and are known for their education in matters of earth and sky, of humanand
animal-kind, and philosophy and politics. They are rare, most often found advising noblemen of the western lands— Cambria, Cumbria and Caledonia.
The British church has had a history of holy men with secular responsibilities, or of secular leaders who adopted church titles and roles. The Russet Monks were widely established before the Roman Church ever came, especially in the western parts of Britain.
Because the church considers the place to be more important than its leader, the names of the important abbots are given after the title. Some titles given here appear as “abbot(-bishop).” The leader’s title is “abbot,” and the -bishop part indicates that they also have the power to make new priests, while most of the abbots do not.
This list places the abbey first and the abbot second in the headers. This is because the institution is more important than the man. Some of the abbeys are relatively unimportant and their abbots are not named.
Ambrius Abbey, Abbot-Bishop Dilwyn
Ambrius Abbey was established by King Aurelius Ambrosius, granting to it extensive lands and rights. It is sometimes called Ambrosius Abbey. It is peopled primarily with noble men and women who have taken vows. It is a double abbey, with both Black Monks and Nuns in residence.
Glastonbury Abbey, Abbot-Bishop Gwion
Glastonbury was established by Joseph of Arimathea, and has undergone changes from being a site for hermits to being the greatest abbey in Britain. Alone among the British church establishments, this one is self governing, owing no debt to any patron. Glastonbury appoints its own abbot and enjoys rare liberties thanks to its ancient sacred status. It has acquired many properties from lords since its founding.
St Albans Abbey, Abbot-Bishop Cynfarch
The grave of St Albans is here. He is the first Christian martyr and saint of Britain. The first abbey here was built by the King of the Catuvellauni. It has gained near-regal powers over many of its lands. It is a center of British Church strength in the east. Although it is primarily British, it also has a “shrine,” which is the size of a church, to the “Saints of Rome.” Within that are the many precious relics brought by Saint Germanus when he tried to convert the monks to Roman Christianity.
Linden Pool Abbey, Abbot-Bishop Lampades
The abbey is responsible for providing ten archers to defend the settlement and castle.
Axe, Abbot Corentyn
This is located very close to the estate of Axe, Salisbury.
Bard’s, Abbot Ermid
This is an old abbey that has experienced a recent surge of growth. When the Bishop of Lindsey paid homage to the Archbishop of Eburacum, many monks resisted the change. Those who did left Linden Pool and rallied around this abbey.
Crow Land, Abbot Vychan
The abbey consists of anchorites scattered on dry spots of land in the marsh.
Eels, Abbot Pendaran
This abbey is on a large island amid the Fens.
Exe River, Abbot Daveth
This abbey has its abbot chosen by its patron the King of Cornwall, the heir to the rights established by the ancient King of the Dumnonii. King Uther regularly accuses the abbot of treason due to his appointment by the foreign Cornwall and disseizes his lands for security purposes. So far, £10 have been taken this way. None have ever been returned, and the former cathedral and minister buildings have been rented to cattle salesmen for the last two decades. The abbot is an expert at practicing humility, patience, and resignation.
Kingstown, Abbot Kilydd
This abbey is responsible for maintaining five archers to garrison the Count’s nearby castle.
The Rock, Abbot Brugyn
This is the second Christian abbey in Britain, founded by the son of Joseph of Arimathea when he left Glastonbury to preach.
St Mary’s, Abbot Vitrasius
This abbey is located in Londinium.
St Ninnians, Abbot Arvel
Saint Ninnian is a very early saint who converted the Christina Picts to the religion. This abbey is inside the walls of the Market Town of Leir.
Thorntree Island, Abbot Cian
Patron of this, the baron of Grantrabridge, is Ulfius the Duke. The abbey must provide five archers for the castle garrison.
Thorns, Abbot Rafael
This British abbey has recently grown powerful due to the abuses of power in the local Roman dioceses. The abbot has been seizing Roman lands for his own abbey. Dangerous quarrels between their respective followers regularly escalate into brawls and bloodshed. Most of its holdings are outside of its home territory. Its patron is Sir Galehaut, the Baron of the Castle Behind the Waters.
Wells, Abbot Cameron
Half of this abbey’s lands are outside of its hundred, but still within Summerland.
White City, Abbot Marius
This is the largest body of Indigo Monks. They train in the sciences and political diplomacy. Many nobles of the British faith have such advisors, so their number is greater than the income indicates.