In this series I’m attempting to take the house of Northumbria, which rules in Northampton, England, from small counts to the kings of England. I have no idea if it’s going to work, or whether the house of Waltheof of Northampton will sink into obscurity. It’ll be fun to find out, though.
Earl Waltheof of Northampton – 1080-1084
The newly-crowned King Robert of England really has it in for my poor Earl of Northampton, Waltheof. The King has been fighting a war against the Holy Roman Empire for a year, and leaves Walt to command a small army encamped between the Alps and the Mediterranean Sea. What’s more he’s created the Duchy of Norfolk, a title that by de jure rights belongs to Walt, and given it to himself.
Patience is the name of the game here for Walt and I. Robert is 26, four years Walt’s junior, but is a man who is fat, lazy and awful at diplomacy. His people hate him and his lords hate him. It’s surely only a matter of time until rebellion strikes. Fed up with how Robert is ruining the once glorious nation of England, Walt joins a faction trying to crown Eadwin, Duke of Warwick, as king.
Then in 1081, lit by the spark of heavier crown intervention, the country rises in revolt. York, Derby, Warwick, Lincoln, Oxford and Somerset all rise against King Robert, whose armies are stuck in the Swiss Alps. Then, as the cold begins to set in as September 1082 rolls around, even worse news reaches Walt.
Sigrid, Princess of Denmark and Walt’s wife for 16 years, has died of smallpox. What’s worse, both of his daughters have contracted the disease. The war against the Holy Roman Empire is almost lost, the rebellion in England moves ever closer to Northampton and now Walt is hit with devastating news.
While I am saddened on his behalf, I move quickly to my backup plan. Gunhild, one of the dead King Harold’s daughters, is 27 and still unwed. She’s a decent woman and, crucially, can pass her claim on the crown of England onto her children. If Walt has a boy with her then their son will have a claim on the throne.
Finally back home in Northampton Castle, Walt spends his days arranging marriages for his court and his friends. Some of them are talented individuals, and having them produce equally talented offspring will only help the house in the future. The rebellion, meanwhile, still sits on borders of Northampton, ominously threatening to spill over at any time.
Things look precarious. The only good news is that both of Walt’s daughters recover from smallpox without issue and Gunhild falls pregnant. With fingers crossed for a son, Walt spends much of his time inspecting the defences of Northampton, wishing he had more money. Waltilda comes of age, marries a prince of Denmark and reveals herself to be a master spy, with a rating of 20 in the intrigue skillset.
In February 1084 a baby boy is born to Gunhild and Walteof. Named Siward, after his grandfather, he represents a new hope for the dynasty. Walt has little time to celebrate the news, as he is thrown into the depths of battle in Gloucester. He personally kills the spymaster of the enemy and gains the ‘brave’ trait for his skills in battle.
Walt spends most of 1084 touring the country fighting for a king that doesn’t even like him. His martial skill increases and increases and he becomes a legend on the battlefield. But, just as Walt believes the war is over, he faces a ferocious Irishman fighting for the rebels. Unable to best his opponent he’s struck down and dies. Earl Waltheof of Northampton, only 18 years under my control, is dead.
Siward Waltheof, his son, is not even one year old. I have now taken over as him, with Waltilda (who was the heiress until Siward was born) as my regent. A fragile newborn child without a father, Siward is totally at the mercy of Waltilda, who is both regent AND heir. Let’s hope I raised her right.
Earl Siward of Northampton, 1084-1091
There are a host of issues now facing me. As a child ruler in Crusader Kings 2, I get a HUGE relationship penalty with nearly all of my court. Siward, apparently a gifted child despite being unable to talk or walk, spends the first year of his life conducting delicate diplomatic matters. A promotion here and a title there and soon some of the court is back on side. It’s going to be a long 16 years, though…
It seems that before he died in battle, Walt (that old dog) managed to get Gunhild pregnant again. Siward’s sister Aeflaed is born in 1085. The family is certainly growing. By 1087 Waltilda herself has had two children, both girls. I grow slightly anxious of her, mainly because her relationship with me keeps dropping and she keeps popping out heirs and claimants. On the other hand she would make a good ruler, should Siward die.
Waltilda decides in quick succession that Siward should scrape bird droppings from a tower, walk into the forests alone and ride runaway carts. Okay, something is definitely amiss, here. Perhaps she’s jealous that Siward, at age seven, has both a higher stewardship and diplomacy rating than her? Finally, driven mad by her attempts to kill Walt’s only son, she attempts to stab him in the night. Will he survive? I cross my fingers and click ‘continue’…