The rise of the noble households
The rise of the noble households
In the reign of the young Arthur II the commander of the King’s forces had been one Hroc, known as Rook. He became the King’s Lord Chancellor and was succeeded by his son; the position quickly became hereditary although not always from father to son, sometimes one would stand aside for a more capable cousin or nephew. The house of Rook remained closest to the King and came to be called House Corvadae.
In the west of Albion, at the border with Cymrija, lies a great forest known as the Greenwood; this has been inhabited by Elves from years uncounted. The Elves were supporters of Arthur I and his descendants but most of their energies were spent in keeping the Goblin hordes, from the mountains, out of Albion. Arthur II saw the need to remain friends with the Elves but also needed a strong military man on the border to deal with the Cumrijans. One of his commanders, Marin, had elven blood in his veins so he was the obvious choice as King’s representative in the area. The court joked about the Greenwood being the King’s hunting preserve and Marin quickly became known as the King’s Huntmaster, from this nickname the House of Hunter was born and the border region is now called the Huntshire.
The border to the north also required strong leadership as the Caledonians rarely missed an opportunity to raid across into Albion. One of Arthur II’s most trusted veterans, Sir Bedivere from Lyonness, was sent to oversee the north but had little luck in dealing with some of Arthur II’s northern vassals who objected to an outsider being sent in. One of the most truculent of these was a young noble woman, Elon. She was the last of her family, having lost many in the civil wars (her grandfather and father supported the “wrong” side). Her family seat was in the small pass at the northern end of the Vale of Eaton and was known locally as “Caer Elon”. She was fiercely protective of “her” people and did not take kindly to anyone, other than the King himself, telling them what to do. However Sir Bedivere found the perfect way to win her trust and loyalty; he arranged for her to meet the most dashing young knight he could find (who just happened to be his youngest son Kalor) and soon they were betrothed. However, many of the locals still did not like being ruled by an outsider so Sir Bedivere (with the King’s blessing) passed on control of the north to his son Kalor and Elon jointly. With the birth of their first son the King created a new family name and the Karlennon family became his Marshals of the north. Later on the Karlennons also took on the role of Keepers of the Wellspring of Life.
In the year 670AF King Stephen I created a new title to honour these three families. He made the head of each house a Lord General, answerable directly to him and with an assured place on the King’s Council.
The King is lost
In the year 838AF Albion’s peace would once more be in peril. King Frederick had but recently ascended to the Pendragon Throne, his wife was the daughter of the King of Estragales and they arranged a State visit to there, Lyonness and Teutonia. They sailed forth on a calm day in late spring taking with them a large part of the court as well as their young son and infant daughter. The three Lords General were left in charge. After a very successful visit where many treaties and trade agreements were signed the Royal Party set out for home. It was a fine day in the late summer but their ship never returned to Albion shores. Some timbers were found but the ship was presumed lost with all hands, the King and his family were no more and Excalibur was lost with them. Treachery was suspected since the day had been fine and clear and the sea calm, but the truth was not known and the mystery is yet to be solved.
The Royal succession was clouded. The King had had two brothers and two sisters. His elder brother, Matthew, had renounced all claim to the Throne when he took up studies as a Mage and could not even be found. The younger brother, Jeremy, had been slain fighting Caledonians some years earlier leaving a daughter, Isabel. Of the King’s sisters, one Eleanor was an unmarried twelve year old and the other, Ursula, was widowed with a grown son, Edgar. Nobody had ever set in law just how the succession should work. It was generally accepted that a younger brother would take precedence over an older female but when the generations were mixed nobody knew who the rightful heir was. The learned Chancellor Ravern, later known as peace-maker, studied the old texts and pronounced that a noble Lady of Albion must quest for the Swords of Waylund that Excalibur should be found again. But the court had grown soft, the King’s sister Ursula tried and failed, Isabel was forbidden from trying by Connor her husband and Edgar’s wife, Meganwy was Cumrijan.
Peace held for a little while as the Council of Lords General debated what must be done but then Edgar’s wife was poisoned, she lost the child she was carrying and died as a result of the miscarriage. Although there was no evidence, Edgar accused Isabel’s husband and swords were drawn. Within six months Albion was swamped in civil war.
The great houses took little part at first. Corvadae being busy trying to run what was left of the Kingdom, Hunter and Karlennon busy on their respective borders but inevitably they were at last drawn in. Turmoil ruled the land for some years with none gaining the advantage. Isabel’s husband had died and her son, Simon, now fought on her behalf. He and Edgar were well matched militarily and in September of 844AF it came to a final battle on a field near Warwick. The losses on both sides were dreadful, none more so since the battle of Camlann. One account of the battle describes seven unmatched warriors striding through the field wreaking havoc wherever they went, unharmed by all weapons. Later a warrior in blue armour was seen winning a fight with Edgar and another all in black had bested Simon. Thus at the end of the battle both claimants to the Pendragon Throne were slain. The two sides left the field in disarray, where now to turn for leadership?
What was not known at the time was that Eleanor (the King’s youngest sister) had fled to her friends in Lyonnesse. She had married and had had two children one, by then, a boy of three and an infant son. She had also, between the births, completed the quest for the Seven Swords and had summoned them once but decided not to reveal the truth until she could present Excalibur to the Council. When she learned of the appalling bloodshed at the battle she felt it was her fault for not giving the hope of Excalibur’s appearance in a few years. She refused food, would take no rest, and wasted away about a month after hearing the news. Her two sons were the rightful (and probably would have been undisputed) heirs to the Pendragon Throne. But trusted retainers fearing the worst spirited the boys away and it is not known what became of them.
The Land of Albion was completely leaderless and in disarray. Border incursions from Caledonia and Cumrija increased, privateers attacked the coast and the Elves in the Greenwood suffered greatly trying to keep the Goblin hordes at bay. After two years of such depredations Chancellor Ravern from house Corvadae decided that enough was enough. He was an old man, well liked and well respected so he drew up a plan which would be listened to. He travelled to the west, to Hunter and north to Karlennon, both listened and agreed to join him.
The Council of Albion
On the first day of spring in the year 848AF they called for all the Nobles of Albion to meet at the Wellspring of Life, under the supervision of the GrandMaster. They proposed that the Lords General should jointly take on the responsibility to rule Albion in the King’s absence, thus they would keep the peace while the land awaited the coming of a new Pendragon. The assembled Nobles, heartily sick of civil war agreed to this and so the rulership of the Council of Albion began. Once per year all the Nobles of Albion would meet in a Great Council but the three Lords General would run the Kingdom awaiting a new claimant to the Pendragon Throne.
There was peace in the land once more, the people forgot the time when a King had ruled in Albion and accepted the Council. In the eyes of the people and much of the nobility the Lords General were equal in power and stature, yet this was not the case. House Corvadae was pre-eminent, the idea for the council had come from them and they were able to be more involved with the Kingdom as a whole, rather than concentrating on the border regions. This was no problem and the leadership of Corvadae was especially strong when in 1045AF the Lady Rioc became the head of the House Corvadae; she was wise and fair, a good military leader and in her youth was called the “Flower of Albion”. She bore two children, a daughter, Alicia, and a son known simply as Corvus, who became head of his house and the council in 1087AF. Alicia married the Duke of Charenten and bore him sons and one daughter, Elspeth who married Lord General Elias Karlennon on 21st March 1088. But recent history tells the story of these people.