The Pilgrimage of the Loyal

The Pilgrimage of the Loyal was the worst uprising in the Reign of the Council of Albion. It was a direct result of the decision of Chancellor Ravern’s successor that the search for the True Heir should be abandoned, a policy which confused and angered most Albiones. The original rebellion began at in Lincoln in early October. The presence of a Chancellor’s commissioner was the spark; the local incantors encouraged it to flame. The Lincoln rebellion lasted but a fortnight, but the North – led by the noble Thomas d’Arby  – was next. With the charismatic d’Arby as their leader, the rebellion spread quickly.

An army of perhaps 5000  men gathered in the north. The Chancellor ordered the nobles close to him  to respond. But there was no standing army in Albion; also, popular sympathy lay with the rebels.

The Chancellor’s forces were hopelessly outnumbered. Worse, their soldiers lacked equipment and the desire to fight their countrymen. And the rebel forces were far more experienced in battle, having fought the Caledonians near-continuously during Chancellor Ravern’s reign.

Faced with such odds, the Chancellor turned to diplomacy. The rebels, after all, did not seek to overthrow him. Their primary desire was for the Pendragon Throne  to be restored.

The Chancellor negotiated peace with d’Arby, conceding their demands and promising a free pardon to all rebels who dispersed. The search for the True Heir would recommence and a new parliament called to address the concerns of the people. The rebels accordingly dispersed. And then, on the slightest pretext, the Chancellor broke his word; martial law was declared, rebel leaders were indicted and put on trial (many faced a jury of their peers.) Several hundred rebels, including d’Arby, were executed.

The account below, written shortly after the Pilgrimage was crushed, was written by the Chancellor’s chronicler Edward Hall. It is very much an example of the idea that history is written by the victors.

“The Chancellor was truly informed that there was a new insurrection made by the northern men, who had assembled themselves into a huge and great army of warlike men, well appointed with captains, horse, armour and weaponry, to the number of 8000  men, who had encamped themselves in York’s shire. And these men had bound themselves to each other by their oath to be faithful and obedient to their captain.

The also declared, by their proclamation solemnly made, that their insurrection should extend no further than to the maintenance and defence of the Pendragon Throne and the deliverance of Pendragon Heir, sore decayed and oppressed, and to the furtherance also of private and public matters in the realm concerning the wealth of all the king’s poor subjects. They called this, their seditious and traitorous voyage, a holy and blessed pilgrimage; they also had certain banners in the field whereon was painted Arthur holding aloft Excalibur on one side, and a dragon and crown on the other side, with various other banners of similar hypocrisy and feigned sanctity. The soldiers also had a certain cognizance or badge embroidered or set upon the sleeves of their coats which was a representation of the Sword in the Stone, and in the midst thereof was written “Rex Quondam, Rexque Futurus”,  and thus the rebellious garrison of peasants set forth and decked themselves with false and counterfeited signs of honour, only to delude and deceive the simple and ignorant people.

After the Chancellor’s highness was informed of this newly arisen insurrection he, making no delay in so weighty a matter, caused with all speed the Lords of his Court, accompanied by his mighty and lordly army which was of great power and strength, immediately to set upon the rebels. But when these noble captains and counsellors approached the rebels and saw their number and how they were determined on battle, they worked with great prudence to pacify all without shedding blood.

But the northern men were so stiff-necked that they would in no way stoop, but stoutly stood and maintained their enterprise.

Therefore the abovesaid nobles, perceiving and seeing no other was to pacify these wretched rebels, agreed upon a battle; … but the night before the day appointed for the battle a little rain fell, nothing to speak of, but yet as if by a great miracle of the water, which was a very small ford which the day before men might have gone over dry shod, suddenly rose to such a height depth and breadth that no man who lived there had ever seen before, so that on the day, even when the hour of battle should have some, it was impossible for one army to get at the other.

After this appointment made between both the armies, disappointed, as it is to be thought, only by the Mother who extended her great mercy and had compassion on the great number of innocent persons who in that deadly slaughter would have been likely to have been murdered, could not take place. Then… a consultation was held and a pardon obtained from the Chancellor for all the captains and chief movers of this insurrection, and they promised that such things as they found themselves aggrieved by, all would be gently heard and their reasonable petitions granted, and that their articles should be presented to the Chancellor, so that by his highness’ authority and the wisdom of his council all things should be brought to good order and conclusion. And with this order every man quietly departed, and those who before were bent as hot as fire on fighting, being presented by the Ancestors, went now peaceably to their houses, and were as cold as water.”

We know, of course, that the Chancellor did not keep his word, and went so far as to employ Ritual Magicks to defeat the uprising. It was this harsh reaction to the fair and legitimate claims of the people, however, that rallied Albion behind the Lords General of the Great Houses, to remove this Chancellor, and ensure that they were in control of Albion’s future.

The Chancellor was himself bound and hung in an iron cage from the walls of the castle at York, and history did forget even his name, but not his deeds. Thomas d’Arby was elevated to the position as a hero, especially celebrated amongst the people of the North, who count themselves as the most loyal servants of the Throne.

Though we do not know the true reasons for the marshaling of the North to march on Winchester, there can be found, in various diaries of d’Arby’s contemporaries, the whisper that d’Arby expected the Pilgrimage to reveal the Heir in some way. As far as we know, this did not happen, though the retribution of the Chancellor was so swift and vicious that, had the Heir followed the banner, they would almost certainly have been killed.