Not a story post, just a me realizing I need to get the background of this kingdom in order post.
I’ve been trying to avoid thinking too hard about how Albion started, for a couple of reasons … #1 I didn’t have any good ideas, and #2 when I first set up this ‘hood, I just intending to play and not write a blog or anything … so to that end I was thinking more “neighborhood” and less “kingdom” when it came to setting up things. So I have a separate downtown and business area and none of it really makes any sense in relation to Albion being a kingdom. But you know what, whatever, I can make up geography as I go along and just play pretend … you all won’t mind, right?
Anyway, as I was writing last night’s post (“Why are You so Wrinkly, Grandma?” and Other Awkward Questions in case you were curious), my lack of a coherent original story sort of tossed me into a brick wall. How was I going to explain the history of the Thatcher family (a rather interesting history IMHO) if I had no clue how it related to the history of the kingdom as a whole?
Well, I muddled through that post, and then put on my thinking cap and set to thinking up an origin story for Albion as a whole. And here’s what I came up with:
The origins of Albion actually start in a land called Glasonland, a large and prosperous kingdom bordered in the north and south by the Maxis Ocean and the Sea of Prydwyn. To the west, a narrow isthmus separates it from the evil Empire of Reme.
… Oh, what the heck, a picture’s worth a thousand words:
I should note here that the image is not to scale, completely accurate or even very well done, as I’m sure you can tell for yourself. But you get the idea. (Note: the brown areas are seacoasts. Just to make it look prettier.)
Anyway. On that narrow isthmus was, first and foremost, Camford University, the seat of learning of the continent. Though it was technically surrounded by Glasonland (more on that in a minute), it was a neutral territory, open to learners from all countries and all walks of life … well … if they could pay the fees. Beyond Camford University was a long stretch of hinterland, a buffer zone between the always-greedy Reman Empire and Glasonland. For many generations this was a war-torn and desolate stretch of land, for, as the armies of Glasonland and Reme tended to clash there on a regular basis, nobody was really too keen on the idea of settling there.
But all empires weaken and fall, and in time Reme began to weaken. Beset by internal troubles and difficulties with newly-conquered lands, the Reman Army has retreated entirely from the buffer zone and for many many miles beyond it, in essence giving up all claim to that land.
At that time King Uther of Glasonland was on the throne, and saw an opportunity to expand Glasonland’s power and influence at the expense of Reme’s. However, he was an old king (he had already lived thirty years past his expiration date, at least in the mind of his heir Vortigern), and he knew that he would not live to see out any settlement project he might begin. Furthermore, he did not trust his son and heir Vortigern to continue the settlement in a reasonable and orderly way — Vortigern was far too likely to lead an army to Reme and certain defeat, leaving Glasonland defenseless.
Uther also had another problem, and his problem’s name was Arthur. Arthur was his younger son, illegitimate, begotten on the widowed Igraine, Duchess of Tintagel (and no, Uther didn’t have anything to do with the Duke’s death this time, sorry all you Arthurian buffs). Unlike Vortigern, Arthur had many of the qualities that made for a good king: prudence, courage, steadfastness, compassion for his people, yet at the same time enough sternness to ensure that the laws would be respected. Also unlike Vortigern, Arthur lacked many of the vices that made for a truly awful king: temper, selfishness, laziness, and a head swollen past all reasonable proportion. Unfortunately for all concerned, pretty much everyone — including Vortigern and Arthur — knew this. Thus Uther was left with the unshakeable impression that it would only take a few months for Vortigern to so mismanage the affairs of the kingdom so as to start a civil war. And this war would be no brief affair, for while those who were wise and had their country’s best interests at heart would back Arthur, there were many who were neither, and Vortigern had a whole royal treasury at his disposal to win those who would fight for gold rather than right.
Uther could see no way out of this predicament … until he remembered the newly available borderland. So he struck a deal with Arthur and Vortigern: Arthur would receive the land immediately as a new kingdom, and in turn would give up all claim, for himself or his heirs, to the kingdom of Glasonland. Vortigern would in turn swear never to use his military might against Albion. Both brothers also swore perpetual friendship and military aid, though for quite a while only Vortigern would be in a position to offer such aid. The church witnessed and approved of these oaths, and to give them force, threatened to put the country of either brother under interdict if he were to break his oath.
So Arthur set out with his wife, their two children, and a band of chosen nobles (more on them in a minute) to settle the new land of Albion. Each of the nobles brought a single peasant family, and two merchant families tagged along, seeing opportunity in the new land. The church followed soon after.
So about those nobles — why did they choose to abandon their cushy lives and follow Arthur out into the wilderness? Well, naturally their reasons are as different as the nobles themselves …
Sir Lancelot du Lac and Family: Sir Lancelot was Arthur’s friend from childhood, and there was no way he would allow Arthur to go out into the wilderness without backup. Though he was the eldest son and only heir of the du Lac clan, his father Ban not only approved his actions but offered to come with Lancelot. To put it frankly, Ban saw how Vortigern and his reign were developing and wanted no part of it. Lancelot’s wife Guinevere agreed to the move because of Arthur’s promise of increased freedoms for women in Albion. And little William, the same age as the new King and Queen’s twins, didn’t have much of an opinion either way.
Sir Bors de Ganis and Family: Sir Bors had always idolized his more successful cousin Lancelot, so when Lancelot announced he was moving to Albion, Bors decided to go too. He was a second son and much strapped for cash, but his elder brother Lionel offered to finance the journey and even offer Bors his pick of peasant families in exchange for Bors taking their mother along and supporting her through her old age. Bors jumped at the chance. Evaine, his mother, was less than happy at being forced to leave the home of her married life, but was forced to comply. Claire, Bors’s wife, knew better than to state her opinion either way. Little Gwendolyn didn’t care much where she went, as long as her mummy and grandma were there to look after her.
Lord Pellinore Gwynedd and Family: Lord Pellinore was another second son. He’d been doing rather well for himself until his pretty wife Eilwen came under Vortigern’s notice. Eilwen didn’t want any of Vortigern’s attention, Pellinore certainly didn’t want it, but Vortigern would be king someday and making an enemy out of him would be a good way for Pellinore to end up with his head on a block. Luckily Pellinore heard of Arthur’s plan to resettle Albion and jumped on it before Vortigern’s attentions to Eilwen became too marked, or before Pellinore’s own power-hungry relatives started putting pressure on him to whore out his wife.
Lord Lot of Orkney and Family: Like Lord Pellinore, Lord Lot also made the journey to Albion because of his wife — though in his case, it was because his wife was the half-sister of Arthur. Morgause was the daughter of the Duchess Igraine and her first husband, though since she was born some six months after her father’s death (and because Uther had already cast his eye on the lovely widow Igraine at this time), there were rumors about her legitimacy. King Uther’s affair with Igraine started only a few months after Morgause’s birth, and Uther was the only father she ever knew. Reflecting this, he gave her a dowry fit for a princess — a dowry Lord Lot was only too happy to snap up, rumors of her legitimacy be damned. When the time came for the removal to Albion, Lot saw two vistas opening up before him, one agreeable and one not-so-agreeable. The first involved him being the brother-in-law of a king and making himself invaluable to said king through his military expertise. The second involved him being the brother-in-law of a foreign king and being stymied in his advancement at best, held for a traitor and executed at worst. Who would blame Lot for choosing the former?
Lady Morgan le Fay: Lady Morgan was the daughter of King Uther and the Duchess Igaine. A few years younger than Arthur, she was unmarried when the settlement of Albion began and chose to accompany her brother and half-sister. Why? Two reasons: first, her brother promised legal protection for her and for all other mages in the new Albion. Second, she trusted Vortigern about as far as she could throw him (without magic) and wanted no part in a kingdom with him at the helm.
All of the noble families (except for Lady Morgan, who ended up living with the Orkneys) brought a peasant family with them. If you want to see how the Thatchers ended up in Albion, check out the “Why are You so Wrinkly, Grandma?” and Other Awkward Questions post. The Gwynedds brought the Brogans along because the Brogans were the only family they could get: Finley Brogan’s laziness and slight alcohol problem had made the whole family such a headache for their former lord that said lord was only too glad to get rid of them. The Chevauxes, quiet and hardworking as they were, were picked by Bors from his brother Lionel’s indentured serfs. (Lionel is probably cursing their loss to this day.) And Morgause’s dowry had enabled Lot to purchase a small estate with a single working family, the Pelleses. When Lot decided to leave for Albion, he informed the Pelleses to pack their bags, because they were coming too.
As for the merchants … well, when opportunity knocked at their door, they ran and went to answer it. I’ll think of a more coherent backstory when I get to them. 🙂
Hope you all enjoyed. And as always, comments are welcomed, appreciated, and frankly solicited. Happy Simming!