FANDOM


Kingdom of EnglandTimeline: The Old Boar Suffered 

OTL equivalent: Kingdom of England

. '10th Century -'
[1]Map of England
Capital Jórvík (York)

(until 11th Century)

London

Official languages Old Norse, OldEnglish
Demonym English
Religion Roman Catholicism
Government Monarchy
 -  King Sweyn Forkbeard

(First)

 -  Royal House Knýtlinga(-1114)

Hereford (1114 - 1294) Oxeborg(1294 - )

Establishment
 -  Establishment of Jórvík 9th Century 
 -  Danish Conquest 1007 - 1012 
 -  Sweyn Forkbeardcrowned 25 December 1008 
 -  North Sea Empire 1011 - 1035 
 -  Ascension of the Herefords 1114 
 -  War of the Axes 1264 - 1299 

The Kingdom of England, own known simply as England, was a state on the island of Great Britain, which was formed in 1008 upon the ascension of Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark. Before the ninth century the area that would later form the Kingdom of England was inhabited by various Anglo-Saxon kings, the most influential being the Kingdom of Wessex and the Kingdom of Mercia, two major states in the England region. Beginning in 865 an invasion of England by the Norse, known as the War of the Great Heathen Army, destroyed the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, creating the Kingdom of Jórvík in their place. Over the next century the nation of Jórvík established itself as one of the most powerful in the British Isles, despite numerous civil wars and internal conflicts. A hierarchy of subkings and jarls dominated the kingdom, who carved up the British Isles and established extensive realms nominally under the control of the king in Jórvík. During this time Jórvík gained the Jarldom of East Anglia, a previous vassal of the Kingdom of Suðreyjar, but at the cost of increased autonomy for the Anglo-Saxon population in the nation, as well as territorial gains for the subkings.

Despite the nation's stable rule under Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson in the late tenth century, the Hvitserk Warbrought the downfall of the Hvitserk kingdom, with a successful invasion by Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark, supported by numerous allies in Britain. Sweyn declared the Kingdom of England out of the former kingdom of Jórvík, but would die before he could see stable rule established on the island. The Danish Conquest of England would be completed by his son Cnut the Great, whose North Sea Empire brought together England, Denmark, and Norway under one king's rule. After the death of Cnut and his subsequent two sons,Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut, trust in the House of Knýtlinga diminished, and England would have to be won over by Harold II, Cnut's grandson via Svein Knutsson, the king of Norway. Harold's descendants stabilized England, repulsing numerous invasion attempts, and ending countless civil wars and feuds, many of which born from the nation's increasingly complex system of jarldoms.

In 1114 the king of England would be usurped by Ulf I, himself a descendant of Harold II, in the Hereford War. In the next several centuries England became increasingly involved in continental affairs, fighting numerous wars in France across the English Channel. Most notably the seizure of Aquitaine via the marriage of Ulf I and Eleanor of Aquitaine made England a major power in the region, attracting the attention of the kings of France and other adversaries. A succession crisis after the death of Duke Harold of Aquitaine, son of Ulf I of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine, led to the Saintonge War, the first major confrontation against the nation of Francia. A rivalry between the two kingdoms ensued into the next century, with the Twenty Years' War ending with the majority of England's territories in the mainland under Plantagenet control. These extensive and costly conflicts with France would lead to a series of revolts, most notably the First Lendmenn War, which placed their first limits on the English kings' power. In the mid thirteenth century England was devastated by the War of the Axes, a half century long civil war between two rival branches of the House of Hereford; the House of Jórvík and the House of Grantebrú. The war resulted in the fall of thew Hereford descendants, and the rise of the Wessex-based House of Oxeborg.

ContentsEdit

[show]==HistoryEdit==

Danish ConquestEditEdit

Main article: Danish Conquest of England (The Old Boar Suffered)

Hvitserk WarEditEdit

Main article: Hvitserk War (The Old Boar Suffered)

Following the conclusion of the English Brother War of 900 to 902, ruler of the Kingdom of Jórvík was retained by Sigfrið Halfdansson, and his line was preserved through his grandson Rögnvaldr. Sigfrið died around the year 920, and was succeeded by Rögnvaldr. Rögnvaldr would have three children, his third being his son Styrbjörn. Born around the year 940, Styrbjörn would be established as Rögnvaldr's heir, and would become a formidable leader during this time, ruling over part of his father's kingdom.

Guðfrið died in captivity around the year 925, but his family lived on through his first son Halfdan. Living in exile, Halfdan would frequently plan to retake his father's domain and later overthrow the descendants of Sigfrið. Halfdan's attempts however would fail, and eventually he would die in exile. His son Guðfrið would father a daughter named Þyra, who was wed to Harald Bluetooth, King of Denmark. It was Harald's son Sweyn Forkbead who would eventually lay the foundations for invasion.

Sweyn Forkbeard inherited this claim to Jórvík following the death of of his grandfather Guðfrið, and although by now a weak claim, Sweyn possessed the resources to put an invasion into action. It is during Sweyn's reign that a number of raids would be carried out in England, causing disdain between King Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson of Jórvík and the Danish raiders. Sweyn made alliances with many nobles in England, and was active in southern England throughout 1003 and 1004, before famine the following year forced him to return to Denmark. In 1007 a full scale invasion was launched, utilizing a large army gathered in Scandinavia.

During the period of Sweyn's invasion, southern England was ruled by Ormar II, grandson of Ormanr Guðfriðsson, and subking under Styrbjörn. Sweyn collaborated with Ormar, securing an alliance in exchange for continued rule over a larger domain. That summer Sweyn arrived by ship in southeast England, quickly raiding across East Anglia and north toward the Humber's mouth. From there he sailed up the River Trent, receiving the surrender of the Anglo-Saxon people of central England. Sweyn met up with Ormar, who had raised his banner in rebellion and had captured the southern regions of England. After a brief campaign in central England, hostages and large gold payments were received. His men were provisioned and horsed, and led north toward York. A detachment of the main invasion force broke off and was led by Sweyn's son Cnut, while a third force under Ormar marched north to surround the Jórvík forces.

The combined armies met at the Battle of Leicester days later, meeting the army of Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson on the field of battle. Styrbjörn was heavily outnumbered, and choice to deploy his forces in a small, dense formation around a nearby hill, with nearby woods, cut with streams and marshes, guarding their flank. Prepared to fight defensively, Styrbjörn ordered his men to form a shield wall, to protect against oncoming attacks. Meanwhile Sweyn positioned his men to the south, divided between the three armies. In the center Sweyn personally led his Danish soldiers. The left flank was led by Ormar and consisted of local Norse and English soldiers from southern England and Jórvík. The right flank was led by Sweyn's son Cnut, and consisted of a large portion of Danish soldiers. The front lines of the Danish lines was lined with archers and ranged weaponry, supported next by a line of light soldiers armed with spears. The invading cavalry was kept in reserve to exploit any weaknesses in the defending English lines if the opportunity presented itself.

The battle began with a Danish barrage on the defending lines, with the Danish archers firing uphill at the English shield wall. The attack was largely ineffective, as the defenders held strong behind their defenses, while many of the fired arrows missed their targets entirely. The Danish light spearmen charged the hill and were met by a return bombardment of stones and spears. Ultimately the spearmen would be unable to puncture the defending line, and Sweyn ordered the Danish cavalry to support his infantry. The Danish retreated back to their lines, and Styrbjörn ordered his men to charge after them, causing panic to spread through the main Danish lines. It is in that moment that Cnut rode out onto the battlefield and rallied the invading forces in the center and right armies. With the majority of the defending army now lured out of their defensive positions, Sweyn's men charged and surrounded the defenders. Outnumbered, the defending army was quickly overwhelmed. During the battle Styrbjörn would be killed by Sweyn, causing his army to panic.

The battle would prove to be a decisive victory for Sweyn Forkbeard and his invading Danish army, with Styrbjörn now dead and his army destroyed. Sweyn continued his march north, his forces capturing a number of cities and towns, as well as raiding the surrounding countryside. Sweyn received the submission of a number of surviving English leaders, while in the north resistance continued under Anlaufr Baldarsson of House Skáld, Styrbjörn's cousin who was by now in his eighties. As a result rebellion against Sweyn's rule continued for many years afterword.

Later that year Sweyn surrounded and besieged the city of Jórvík itself, the capital of the kingdom and the center of resistance to Danish rule. After a brief siege the city would fall to Sweyn, and on 25 December he would be crowned King of England. As king war continued between Sweyn and Anlaufr, who established a rival government in the north of Jórvík.

Anlaufr's WarEditEdit

Main article: Anlaufr's War (The Old Boar Suffered)

In the aftermath of Sweyn Forkbeard's conquest of England, the majority of the nation had sworn fealty to the invaders, while the main resistance remained in Northumbria, the center of the late Styrbjörn's former power, led by his cousin Anlaufr. In spring 1008 Anlaufr led an army to surround and besiege the city of Durham, forcing Sweyn to march north with an army and relieve the siege, which was just north of the city of Jórvík. Although suffering a large number of casualties, Sweyn would successfully end the siege, the remaining rebel army retreating into the north. Over the course of the next year Sweyn would hunt down Anlaufr, who led a number of raids in the north. At the same time a rebellion arose in Mercia, supported by the nation of Gwyneddin Wales. Somerset, Devon, and Cornwall would all also be raided from the sea by allies of the old regime in Jórvík, who had fled to Suðreyjar and settlements in Ireland.

The majority of the rebels would be crushed by Sweyn Forkbeard by 1009. Sweyn would construct a number of forts for local garrisons loyal to him to station in and monitor regions of his new kingdom. Despite this, a large rebellion arose in early 1009, consisting of forces who had fled to Scotland. Sweyn pursued the rebellions into the city of Jórvík, slaughtering them and killing Anlaufr in the carnage. A second major fort would be constructed outside the city, allowing the city to crush a second minor rebellion later that year without Sweyn's assistance.

An army from Ireland and Suðreyjar landed in southern England, and was crushed by Ivar II Kolbjörnsson of Cornwall and Ormar II. After a series of brief battles the invaders would be crushed. At the same time a renewed rebellion in Mercia supported by their Welsh allies would be put down by Sweyn Forkbeard by the end of 1009.

War of the JarlsEditEdit

Main article: War of the Jarls (The Old Boar Suffered)

In 1011 Sweyn Forkbeard died unexpectedly, and his body was sent back to Denmark to be buried. Sweyn was succeeded as King of Denmark by his elder son, Harald II, but the Danish government and military established in England by Sweyn proclaimed his younger son Cnut as king. In the chaos of this transition however, an Anglo-Saxon rebellion broke out, in which a former nobleman named Æthelred declared himself king and began ravaging central England. Cnut began preparing an army immediately in Denmark, before sailing to southern southern England to support those loyal to him.

Known as the War of the Jarls, the war was fought between the last English or Norse jarls in England from before Sweyn Forkbeard's conquest, in rebellion against Cnut. A number of jarldoms across England raised their flag in rebellion, while those loyal to the Danish mobilized to defend their realms. In early 1012 Cnut landed on the shores of England with an army of approximately 10,000 Danish warriors and 200 longships. Cnut was then met by several thousand local warriors and deserters, most notably the Jomvikings, who had originally resisted Sweyn Forkbeard.

Cnut the GreatEditEdit

Main article: Cnut the Great (The Old Boar Suffered)

Cnut's conquest of England brought upon years of prosperity, with the end of most Viking raids, many of which originating from Cnut's Denmark. Cnut was also quick to eliminate any possible threat by executing a number of English noblemen who opposed Danish rule, or could challenge Cnut for the throne. Having collected a massive Danegeld nationwide from England, Cnut paid off most of his army and allowed them to return home to Denmark. Others, including leaders in the invasion, were offered land, while many soldiers sought to settle in England where large amounts of land were available. An army of about forty ships and their accompanying crew was kept in England as a standing force to protect the kingdom and keep order for the time being.

The political structure of England was altered, although the general system created by the Hvitserks, in which the kingdom was largely divided between a number of jarldoms, each including several Anglo-Saxon shires. On top of this, in 1030 Cnut would require oaths of loyalty to the king by all, even the vassals of his principal vassals, who held by feudal tenure. Holding by feudal tenure meant that vassals would be required to provide the quota of knights required by the king, or a money payment in substitution, when needed. In Cnut's early reign a number of the remaining Anglo-Saxon noblemen would also be executed, including all those who supported opposition against the crown.

England itself was divided into a number of subdivisions to make the territory more easily managed. A number of jarldoms were created or extended, based on previously established kingdoms or nations existing on the island. Thorkell the Tall, leader of the Jomvikings, was granted ownership over the Jarldom of East Anglia, having fought alongside Cnut the Great in his final invasion of England. Thorkell helped to extend the Jomvikings to England, however he later fell out of favor with the king, traveling back to Denmark. Likewise over the course of his reign Cnut would have to replace a number of his jarls, creating a critical balance of power in England.

Upon the death of his brother Harald II, Cnut the Great succeeded to the throne of Denmark as king. It is possible that there were some in Denmark who opposed Cnut, as he stated via letter that his voyage to Denmark was in part to avert attacks against England. During this time Cnut also led several raids against the Wends of Pomerania, who possibly opposed him in Denmark. Ulf the Jarl, husband of Cnut's sister Estrid, was appointed regend of Denmark, and Cnut returned to England the following year. After the banishment of Thorkell the Tall from East Anglia, Cnut possibly led an attack against the fortress of the Jomvikings at Jomsborg, leading to reconciliation between both parties.

Raids by Olaf Haraldsson of Norway and Anund Jakob of Sweden against Denmark prompted the Danish nobles, supported by Ulf, to declare Cnut's son Harthacnut king of Denmark. As Harthacnut's caretaker, Ulf benefited from this arrangement, and supported the usurping of Cnut's throne. Cnut set sail for Denmark once more and defeated Norway and Sweden at the Battle of the Helgeå, securing his position as the dominate force in Scandinavia. Cnut made amends with Ulf, who earned the king's forgiveness by fighting alongside him against Norway and Sweden, however it is believed that Ulf would be killed by one of Cnut's housecarls later on.

On Easter 1027 Cnut was present at the coronation of Conrad II as Holy Roman Emperor in Rome. In addition to attending the ceremony in the city as part of a pilgrimage to repent for his sins, Cnut also negotiated with the Pope for a reduction in the costs of the pallium for English archbishops, and for a resolution to the dispute between the archdioceses of Canterbury and Hamburg-Bremen, who fought for supremacy over the churches of Denmark. Reportedly Cnut befriended the Holy Roman Emperor, and in exchange for their friendship received land in the March of Schleswig. When Cnut returned to his empire from Rome his reputation with his subjects had greatly improved, influenced by the prestigious trip to Rome that their leader had undertaken.

Upon returning to England from Rome, in 1028 Cnut set sail for the city of Trondheim in Norway with a fleet of fifty ships. The king of Norway, Olaf Haraldsson, fled from Cnut's advance, allowing Cnut to be crowned king of Norway in the city. Now in control over Norway, Cnut restored Haakon Eiriksson, from the former line of the Earldom of Lade, after he had supported him in England. A member of Cnut's dynasty, as well as a lord in England, Haakon was destined to be Cnut's deputy in Norway, creating a strategic sea route between the west and east through Haakon's possessions. Haakon's death in 1029, shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland, ended this plan. Haakon's death also allowed Olaf Haraldsson to return to Norway, supported by an army of his followers and Swedish soldiers.

In the 1030s Cnut supported Sigtrygg Silkbeard and other Norse rulers in the Irish Sea, even raiding in Wales alongside Sigtrygg. The rulers of Suðreyjar essentially became vassals of Cnut's empire, although this relation was largely nominal and beneficial to both parties. After the defeat of Olaf Haraldsson at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, Cnut returned to the British Isles with a large army, making appearances in Scotland and the Irish Sea. Without major bloodshed, Cnut received the submission of numerous Norse and Scottish nobles.

Despite his initial favor with the church, Cnut's ruthless subjugation of states across Scandinavia and the British Isles led to an uneasy relationship. Cnut's open relationship with a concubine named Ælfgifu of Northampton, led on at the same time as his relationship with Emma (Ælfgifu) of Normandy, caused further conflict with the church. In response Cnut set out to repair all the churches and monasteries of England, which had been victims of Viking attacks for years prior to his ascension in England. The coffers of ecclesiastical establishments were refilled by Cnut, who also supported churches and monasteries as a patron of their practices. The first stone church in Scandinavia, located at Roskilde, was built under Cnut in 1027, with his sister Estrid as its patron. Despite these extensive donations and projects, it is unclear Cnut was motivated by a deep religious devotion, or was to reinforce his hold over his extensive empire. It is also speculated that Cnut respected adherents of Norse Paganism.

In addition to reconstructing religious institutions, Cnut also gave away land, tax exceptions, and religious relics. The port of Sandwich was granted a tax exception for example, as well as relics of St Ælfheah, much to the displeasure of the people of London. Thanks to Cnut's support Winchester became one of the richest diocese in England, second only to Canterbury. Cnut supported New Minister with 500 marks of silver and 30 marks of gold, as well as the relics of various saints. A shrine to St Birinus was constructed at Old Minister, and the monastery at Evesham, whose Abbot Ælfweard was purportedly a relative of the king through Ælfgifu, received the relics of St Wigstan. Cnut's donations made him popular among the nobles of England, although many of its citizens remained burdened by Cnut's heavy taxation. Reportedly Cnut was biased against the see of Longdon, as well as the monasteries at Ely and Glastonbury, which failed to receive his patronage. Cnut also reportedly sent a psalter and sacramentary to William of Aquitaine, featuring illustrations from the renown city of Peterborough.

Reign of Cnut's SonsEditEdit

Main articles: Harold Harefoot (The Old Boar Suffered) and Harthacnut (The Old Boar Suffered)

In 1035 Harold Harefoot ascended to the throne of England, initially as a regent for his brother Harthacnut. Harold sought to be crowned in his own right, but found that the Archbishop of Canterbury refused to crown him, thus avoiding one of the requirements legally required to be crowned King of England. The archbishop refused to remove the royal regalia from the altar, and forbade any other bishop from doing so. Harold was reportedly so angered by this refusal that he rejected Christianity in protest, refusing to attend church services while uncrowned. A Witenagemot, or assembly of the ruling class, was held in Oxford, where a selection of important English nobleman all agreed to recognize Harold as King of England. With support from the English noblemen in Jórvík, Harold ruled as king in the north. In the meantime certain jarls in the south continued to rule in Harthacnut's name.

It was not until 1036 that Harold was finally recognized as King of England, reaching a decision with Harthacnut in England that they would succeed each other in the event of one or the other's death. This decision came when it became clear that Harthacnut would require significant military strength to uproot Harold, and instead he waited for the right moment to assert his claim. This peace did not last however, and with no immediate threat to Denmark, Harthacnut prepared his forces for an invasion. That same year a revolt began under the Hvitserk Halfdan Ormarsson, in an attempt to seize the throne of England for the old dynasty. In 1037 Harthacnut landed in Wessex from Denmark, where he defeated an army under the command of Halfdan. Public opinion shifted in favor of Harthacnut, while Harold regrouped his men and prepared for his own attack against the rebels.

In the ensuing invasion of Wessex, Harold would be killed. This left Harthacnut as the sole claimant present to the English throne from Cnut the Great's dynasty, and he was declared king in 1037. Despite his initial position, Halfdan quickly lost support in Wessex and elsewhere, with members of his own kingdom even standing down. In 1038 he would be killed by Harthacnut, solidifying the king's position as sole ruler of England. In early 1038 Harthacnut would be officially crowned.

Upon his ascension to the throne of England in 1038, Harthacnut quickly restructured the Kingdom of Wessex to remove elements of the rebellious faction. He largely levied gold from the south to pay for his invasion force, which made him unpopular in the region. Harthacnut also sought to rule in an authoritarian manner, as he had in Denmark, and as such powers placed in the hands of the Jarls were partially withdrawn. During his reign he doubled the size of the English fleet, to protect the trade routes between England and Denmark, and maintain the overseas empire. To pay for this fleet taxation was heavily increased.

In 1040 Harthacnut had the Hold of Bamburgh murdered, a crime that offended many of the nobles in England. The maneuver was orchestrated to remove the heavily autonomous region of Bamburgh, which conflicted with Harthacnut's largely authoritarian rule. Afterword the hold was annexed into the Jarldom of Jórvík. Harthacnut attempted to outweigh his unpopular taxation and authoritarian practices by giving generously to the church. This included several grants to Ramsery Abbey, as well as numerous other donations, similar to how his father had been a patron of the church. Harthacnut suffered from bouts of illness throughout his reign, and in June 1042 he died of a stroke, brought on by excessive drinking at a wedding.

Descendants of Svein KnutssonEditEdit

Main article: Harold II of England (The Old Boar Suffered)

The death of Harthacnut in 1042 left the throne of England with no immediate heirs, as Harthacnut was childless. Instead Harold, second son of Svein Knutsson, king of Norway and Denmark, was called to England to ascend to the throne. Svein was a well liked and successful king in Scandinavia, and Harold was well supported, however the ineffective rule of both Harold Harefoot and Harthacnut made the English nobility hesitant to support the same house on the throne. With support from his father Harold arrived with a large fleet in England, and was crowned later that year. The most major rival claimant to the throne of England was Edward, the exiled son of the brief king Æthelred, who had been defeated by Cnut the Great in the war of the Jarls. In late 1042 Edward returned to England with the support of the Duke of Normandy, but found that Harold's army outnumbered his supporters.

By the end of the year however an extensive Anglo-Saxon rebellion had broken out across England, which aided Edward against the king. Edward's forces from Normandy had initially been blown off course, landing in Jersey, before landing near Hastings in southern England. There he met up with forces in Wessex who were revolting against Borkvard, Jarl of Wessex. Edward attempted to aid in this effort by marching west into Wessex, but was defeated by Harold south of London, and forced to retreat. Edward led a last ditch effort across southern England into 1043, growing the Anglo-Saxon revolt against Harold into central England. In the summer of 1043 Borkvard would be killed in battle near Swindon, and Edward proclaimed himself king of Wessex. The loss of Winchester and other major cities to Harold damaged Edward's legitimacy, and by that year he would again be on the run.

At the same time, a supposed bastard and grandson named Halfdan of Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson, the last king of Hvitserk Jórvík, learned of the death of Harthacnut, and traveled with an army from Suðrland to northern England. Halfdan landed in Jórvík by the onset of 1043, where he managed to find support from nobles in the north, as well as in East Anglia. Halfdan managed to capture the city of Jórvík, prompting Harold to hastily march north from his campaign in the south of England. Harold's advance was stalled by an attack by the East Anglians near Grantham. Harold's soldiers had been in the middle of a period of heavy marching, and the surprise attack by the East Anglians found them exhausted. The East Anglians initially attacked from Harold's right flank, before attempting to wrap around the front and rear, surrounding Harold from three sides. Unknown to the East Anglians however, a portion of Harold's forces had not yet arrived at the battlefield, after being ordered to stay back. These forces eventually arrived and managed to surround part of the East Anglian flank, eventually causing the attackers to rout. The battle was won for Harald, however his forces were weakened by a costly victory, and now facing enemies to the north and east.

The Jarldom of East Anglia fell upon Alvör, a member of the House of Hvitserk, who continued support for Halfdan's revolt. By this time Svein Knutsson's possessions in Scandinavia became under threat by an invasion of Magnus the Good, preventing Denmark from sending additional reinforcements to England. Harold chose to march east from Grantham and pursue the East Anglians, now rallied under Alvör, which inadvertently gave time to Halfdan in the north to prepare his forces. The East Anglians retreated to Exning, where they regrouped with Alvör, arriving from his coronation at Bures St. Mary. Alvör ordered his army to defend the Devil's Dyke, an ancient earthwork stretching from The Fens to the southeast. An army skirmish proved ineffective, and Harold realized a direct assault against the fortification would be another costly endeavor. Instead Harold ordered his skirmishers to break into smaller groups and attack sections of the wall. This went on for a few days, with moderate casualties on both sides. Unsure of where the enemy would attempt to cross into East Anglia, Alvör's forces eventually became spread out along the dyke, and other earthworks and defenses in the region. Finally Harold launched his assault, marching with The Fens on his flank, to deter the East Anglians from outflanking him from the north.

Harold defeated Alvör's army south of Soham, before taking the city of Exning from the East Anglians. The defense of the region had crumbled, and Alvör retreated to the east to defend East Anglia proper. Harold next laid siege to Thetford, which after a month siege fell to the English army. Alvör and the East Anglian nobility in the city were forced to flee, after a counterattack failed. Alvör's family were sent to Ipswich to seek ships to mainland Europe, while Alvör and his army took up residence in Norfolk. Throughout late 1043 Harold pillaged the cost of East Anglia, seizing the important port cities under Alvör and the Hvitserks. With half his kingdom now occupied, Alvör was forced to vacate his defenses at Norfolk and meet Harold on the field of battle. Alvör would be defeated and killed, allowing Harold to leave East Anglia and focus on the rebellion in the north of the nation.

By late 1043 Edward would be killed by the new Jarl of Wessex, Alfr, who managed to secure the majority of the south, before marching into Mercia. Harold's campaign of the winter of 1043 was particularly brutal, with disloyal towns across central England being severally punished. In the early months of 1044 Harold marched on Halfdan's self declared kingdom of Jórvík itself, cracking down harshly against those who supported the rebellion. A battle near the city of Jórvík itself resulted in a decisive victory for Harold's army, and Halfdan fled England across the Irish Sea.

With the war over, Harold became universally recognized as king of England by 1044. His brutal crackdown had caused numerous casualties across England, particularly in the north and in East Anglia, where pillaging was at its fiercest. In the south the Anglo-Saxon population was particularly targeted, causing a decreased of their numbers in historically majority regions, such as Wessex. Numerous jarldoms and other subdivisions were reorganized, with Danish nobles almost completely replacing Anglo-Saxon positions, as well as filling the vacancies created by the removal of rebellious nobles. The following year Harold provided a small number of soldiers to his father Svein's invasion of Norway against Magnus the Good, who would be killed at the Battle of Oskarström. This returned Norway to the House of Knýtlinga once more.

Harold's appointment of Danish nobles helped to stabilize his realm, but also led to controversy with some of the more powerful English nobles. In particular Alfr, Jarl of Wessex, came into conflict with the king, as Alfr's power in the south began to grow. Alfr had retroactively proclaimed the House of Ormar, named for one of his most famous ancestors, as a cadet branch of the House of Hvitserk, to distinguish himself from the rebellious Hvitserks in East Anglia and Jórvík. To the west ruled the descendants of Ragnar Hvitserk in Cornwall, who generally supported the Wessex branch of the family. In 1051 one of Alfr's relatives was elected the Archbishop of Canterbury, but Harold rejected his election and appointed a Danish clergyman in his stead. When another one of Alfr's relatives caused disorder in Dover, Alfr announced his support for his relatives, despite orders from Harold to have them punished. Alfr was accused by the archbishop of conspiring against the king, leading to an escalation of violence in Wessex.

After an attempt to capture Alfr failed, the Jarldom of Wessex raised its forces in rebellion against king Harold. Gudfred, Jarl of Cornwall remained neutral in the conflict, leaving Alfr further outnumbered. Alfr marched into southern England, finding initial success against English defenders in the region. In late 1051 Gudfred mobilized his forces and marched without incident through Wessex. Unknown to Alfr, Gudfred had arranged a deal with Harold, and attacked Alfr at Reading. The surprise attack decimated Wessex forces, and resulted in Alfr's death, after attempting to charge against Cornish forces. The revolt was crushed after only a few months, with the Battle of Reading acting as the final stand for Alfr and his supporters. Gudfred was crowned Jarl of Wessex, unifying Cornwall and Wessex under personal union. This lasted until 1055, when Gudfred died and was succeeded by his son Ragnarr in Cornwall, and his kinsman Kolbjörn in Wessex. Gudfred's descendants became known as the House of Oxeborg, a cadet branch of the Hvitserks, and would continue to rule in the south for years to come.

In the 1050s Harold launched an aggressive policy against Scotland, sending an army into Scotland in 1054 in support of a Scottish exile taken refuge in the English court. Four years later the Scottish kingdom was defeated, and a king friendly to the English was appointed. The peace lasted for several years, however the Scottish eventually resumed raids into northern England, against territory previously annexed from Scotland. Similar conflict broke out against Wales, where Gruffydd ap Llywelyn had established himself as sole ruler. Allied with nobles in Mercia, the Welsh launched several raids into England, before Harold pushed them back with a costly offensive. Conflict with the Welsh continued into the 1060s, with some Welsh princes being forced into English vassalage by the end of Harold's reign.

In 1066 the threat of foreign invasion against England culminated in the invasion of Harald Hardrada, and in the ensuing Battle of Stamford Bridge Harold II would be victorious against the Norwegians. Towards the end of his reign Harold focused on further stabilization and defense against invasion, to end the period of invasion from Scandinavian nations. A series of castles were created to defend crucial points across the kingdom, including a major fortification in the city of London, as well as in cities such as Oxeborg. Castles, keeps, and mottes became a key aspect in securing the kingdom, and carried his legacy long after his death. In 1083 Harold fell ill and died soon after, being succeeded by his son Sweyn.

By 1083 Harold Sveinsson had succeeded in creating a stable realm from the Kingdom of England, and upon the end of his long and largely successful rule, his son, Sweyn, by his first wife, Freyja of Oxeborg, was crowned king of England as Sweyn II. One of Harold's sons however, Ragvald, by his first wife Freyja of Oxeborg, claimed the throne of England for himself, and attempted to rally the Five Boroughs in rebellion. Ragnvald's disorder failed to delay Sweyn's coronation, and in late 1083 he fled the kingdom. Sweyn granted the Five Boroughs instead to his half brother Alfvin, who was considered too patient and weak to lead a major rebellion. Additionally the cities of the Five Boroughs were divided among Sweyn's supports, including other sons of Harold II, as well as military leaders loyal to Sweyn during his ascension. Niels, a bastard of Harold via a concubine, managed to acquire the county of Derby, founding the later House of Djúra-bý.

Sweyn donated handsomely to the monasteries and other institutions of England, while retaining the right of investiture across his kingdom. Sweyn managed to hold onto this right, while at the same time in Germany and France the pope had begun a large conflict over the controversy with other major European kings and nobles. Sweyn's reign saw England's most centralized and powerful kingship to date, avoiding the trappings of an anointed monarchy like in continental Europe, allowing England to stay resilient to papal condemnation. Sweyn's relationship with the church was strained after the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1085. Sweyn delayed the appointment of a new archbishop for several years, before selecting Gundulf, a theologian in favor of church reform, counter to the current papacy's regime. Sweyn and the new archbishop eventually disagreed on a number of issues, and the nobles of England were unable to officially support the archbishop, without attracting the disdain of the crown. The archbishop went into exile in 1090, where he sought refuge in Rome. During this time the pope was in a diplomatic struggle in Europe against the various antipopes established by the Germans and French, and he took Sweyn's side as not to make another major enemy. Sweyn recognized the pope in Rome as the sole pope, and Sweyn claimed the revenues of Canterbury throughout his reign, while Gundulf remained in exile.

Sweyn's reign was one of the more stable in western Europe, allowing him to accurately tax the nobles of England and effectively delegate to the kingdom's jarls. Sweyn fought hard to preserve this stability, going as far to lead an army into Jórvík after a chieftain named Eilaf, brother of Svein Haakonsson, Jarl of Jórvík, refused to heed the king's orders in the capital. Eilaf was imprisoned and dispossessed as a result. Another noble in the south, who had previously been pardoned after he supported Ragvald's claim to the throne, was found conspiring against Sweyn, and blinded and castrated as a result.

In 1091 the Scottish invaded England, but Sweyn successfully repulsed them. In order to better defend Cumberland from invasion, Sweyn had his half sister Sigrid married to the Jarl of Cumberland, and also helped finance and build a castle on the northern border as Sigrid's dowry. These precautions became important when in 1093 the Scottish king again invaded, marching into Jórvík. The Jarl of Jórvík, Svein Haakonsson, ambushed the Scottish army near the border, decimating the invading forces. In the west Sweyn also led two expeditions into Wales with no decisive outcome, settling on the construction of defensive structures along the Welsh border. During the First Crusade the English were largely not involved, although several nobles and volunteers did make the journey to the Holy Land on their own, including Sweyn's half brother Ulf.

Crises of the BoroughsEditEdit

Throughout the 1080s and early 1090s the power of the Jarl of the Five Boroughs was heavily diminished, as Jarl Alfvin's weak rule allowed for local rulers to gain autonomy and power within the region. This led to the First Crisis of the Boroughs, an armed conflict among multiple local rulers, primarily centered around Alfvin's jarldom, over the future of the region. In 1085 a Hvitserk noble named Sigfrið Alfrsson managed to ascend to the throne of Stamford, a major chiefdom within the Five Boroughs. By this time Sigfrið had also managed to marry his family in to several families across the jarldom, allowing him to build a network of allies among the lesser houses of the region. Sigfrið began to ellipse the jarl in terms of power, but he continued to stay loyal to the jarl. In 1086 Sigfrið's wife died, and he married the sister of Jarl Alfvin, Sigrid, a move that made many of his advisers skeptical. In 1087 Chief Olaf of Torksey rebelled against Alfvin, and Sigfrið marched in support of the jarl, laying siege to the city. For his service the jarl bestowed Torksey upon Sigfrið, on the assumption that he would in turn grant the city to a relative.

Sigfrið held on to his new found wealth and power however. When war seemed imminent between a coalition of cities against Alfvin, Sigfrið remained neutral, partially because of his rivalry with his cousin Rögnvaldr of Repton, one of the coalition's leaders. Sigfrið nearly went to war with his cousin in 1087, but this dispute was mediated by Ulf Haroldsson, a respected leader to both rulers. Alfvin put his foot down against Rögnvaldr and the conspirators, threatening to have them removed by force. Alfvin called upon Sigfrið to enforce these threats against Rögnvaldr, in an effort to undermine the Hvitserks and their supporters. Sigfrið hesitated heavily, before meeting his cousin alone in battle near Repton. Sigfrið would successfully ambush Rögnvaldr's forces, demanding he cede Repton to him in exchange for his life.

Sigfrið was called a betrayer by the other Hvitserks of the north, and his relationship with the jarl Alfvin deteriorated. At a formal ceremony in Lincoln, Sigfrið hid these feelings, and was appointed to lead the jarldom's largest army against Niels of Djúra-bý, the new leader of the anti-Alfvin coalition. Instead Sigfrið declared his allegiance to the rebels, and returned to Lincoln to surround the city. Alfvin narrowly escaped the fall of the city, as the Five Boroughs fell into full out civil war. In response, in late 1088 Alfvin called upon King Sweyn II's assistance, who agreed to provide military aid to reinstall Alfvin as jarl. Sweyn soon found however that Sigfrið's military ties were more extensive than he initially imagined, after his army was attacked by the Chief of Grantebrú while on route to the Five Boroughs.

Sigfrið found an unlikely ally in Ulf II Thorgilsson, Jarl of Mercia, who mobilized against Sweyn in 1089. Ulf secretly desired to extend the Jarldom of Mercia, which had been heavily diminished in the last few centuries. Ulf's forces arrived in Northampton, a city loyal to Sigfrið's forces, before marching on Towcester. The loyal town was pillaged heavily, before the attackers moved on to Buckingham. Sweyn met Ulf outside the city, after he had abandoned his march into the boroughs after the Battle of Grantebrú. Sweyn managed to achieve a minor victory against Ulf, who withdrew to the northwest. Ulf inadvertently delayed the royal forces from reaching the Five Boroughs, allowing Sigfrið to gain the upper hand in the region. By mid 1089 much of the Five Boroughs was now united under Sigfrið. Various chieftains who had supported the effort to rid the jarldom of Alfvin's rule were handsomely rewarded. That summer Huntingdon was raided by the Chief of Grantebrú, who had received a secret tip that one of Alfvin's sons, Harold, was within the city. Huntingdon was burned, and Harold was killed. The event led to Sigfrið promoting the chief responsible, Benedict of Grantebrú, to his head general.

In 1089 Sigfrið sponsored a Hvitserk rebellion in Jórvík, in an effort to reinstate the family in their original kingdom. If the north was to fall, Sigfrið's power would now rival the crown's, giving him the capability to completely undermine Sweyn II. The defense of the north fell upon Olaf Haakonsson, Jarl of Jórvík, who mobilized immediately to repulse the rebels. The Hvitserks were joined by Gospatric of Bamburgh, who was promised an extensive concession in northern England in exchange for his support. After defeating an unsuccessful siege of Jórvík itself, Jarl Olaf marched his army to the north to subdue Gospatric, who was now advancing rapidly into his jarldom. At the Battle of Durham Gospatric would be decisively defeated, allowing Olaf to turn the tide of the invasion in his favor. Olaf raided extensively into Bamburgh in retaliation, and by 1089 had largely secured the north of England. On route back south Olaf would also achieve victory at the Battle of Scarborough, where the Hvitserk commander Styrbjörn would be killed.

Sigfrið's plan to take over the north had failed, and now was faced with a war on another front. At the Battle of Rutland the forces of Sweyn II and Alfvin scored a major victory against the rebels, killing Benedict of Grantebrú, and routing the Mercians back west. Combined with the successful siege of Warwick by Sweyn's brother Ulf Haroldsson, Ulf of Mercia agreed to peace with Sweyn, and instead turned on Sigfrið. Sigfrið's chiefdom at Stamford would fall to Sweyn in late 1089, with Sweyn declaring Anlaufr, the husband of his sister Ingerid, the new chief. This severally damaged Sigfrið's position as jarl, who was now left defending Lincoln and the few remaining cities still loyal to him.

Sigfrið marched the last of his forces south in an effort to cut of Sweyn before he could met up with the rest of the Mercian army, at this point marching on Nottingham. Sigfrið met Sweyn at the Battle of Grantham, where he would be killed, reportedly by his own men. The victorious royal army marched on to Lincoln, where Alfvin was reaffirmed as Jarl of the Five Boroughs. The rebellion left multiple vacancies in the jarldom's powerful cities, who were quickly replaced by loyal allies. Alfvin also required each chieftain and noble to swear fealty to him once more, with all those who opposed being killed. Alfvin returned to his relaxed governance soon after the end of the crisis, although from then on he became less hesitant to use force or imprison dissidents. The nobles of the Five Boroughs pursued a policy of taking advantage of Alfvin's low central authority, rather than attempt to overthrow it, establishing peace for about a decade.

From 1098 to 1100 Sweyn's reign was again weakened by the Elmthorp War, a conflict that erupted across East Anglia and much of eastern England. The expulsion of the previous East Anglian jarl, Ragnvald Haroldsson, for conspiring against Sweyn II, left the Danish noble Valdemar of Thetford as jarl, the spouse of Ragnvald's sister, Sigrid. Valdemar was succeeded by his son Eric in 1093, however his reign soon became heavily unpopular. Eric ruled East Anglia harshly, imprisoning many of his rivals, and enacting harsh taxes on the jarldom's inhabitants. War broke out when an assassination attempt on the king failed while he visited the monastery at Elmthorp. The nobles of East Anglia elected Thorgils, bastard son of Harold II of England and Bothildr of East Anglia, who by this time had risen to become a major count within the jarldom. Thorgils claimed that Harold had legitimized him, and produced a fabricated document to prove so, further helping his claim.

Sweyn dismissed this claim, and supported Eric's regime. This was in part to eliminate a potential rival to his throne, and also to preserve the crown's authority, after it had sanctioned the ascension of Eric in the first place. An army was led into East Anglia by Anlaufr, Count of Stamford, who was married to Sweyn's sister Ingerid, but he was ambushed by Thorgil's forces, supported by the Count of Grantebrú. Sweyn did not directly mobilize against Thorgils after this attack, but did sanction his half brother Alfvin, Jarl of the Five Boroughs to lead an army into East Anglia in support of Jarl Eric. The last few years under Alfvin's weak rule however had made the individual counts of the Five Boroughs increasingly powerful, and after Alfvin vacated his jarldom, he was immediately faced by insurrection back home.

Harald of Leicester, a powerful nobleman in the region, was among the first to rebel against Alfvin. Harald established a dynastic alliance with Northampton, and led both armies across the jarldom, raiding and pillaging several towns, further convincing the population that Alfvin was an ineffective ruler. In early 1099 Jarl Alfvin captured the town of Ely after a brief battle. The jarl next marched hastily against Soham, only a few miles to the east. Thorgils arrived with his main army at the same time, and rallied the fleeing men from Ely to form a defensive line near Soham. When Alfvin arrived the defensive line fell back, luring Alfvin into a trap arranged by Thorgil's main army, Thorgil had the town burned, making it difficult for the attacking army to flee through through the town, while on their flank and front the enemy army now engaged them. Alfvin would be killed in the fighting, as would much of the jarl's army, causing chaos in the Five Boroughs, and beginning the Second Crisis of the Boroughs.

Alfvin's first son Harold had been killed by Benedict of Grantebrú several years earlier, leaving Harold's brother Sigurd as the next in line to the jarldom. Following the death of Benedict, one of Sweyn's supporters, a nobleman named Einar, was appointed chief of Grantebrú. Einar, and his dynasty named for his city, initially supported the crown, but by the late 1090s had been weakened by poor trade with Eric of East Anglia, who seemed to despise the city. Einar seized the opportunity to get back against the East Anglians, and after the engagement against Anlaufr, Einar led an army into East Anglia itself. Eric would be defeated by Einar at the Battle of Whepstead, a major defeat for the jarl of East Anglia. In retaliation for the death of Anlaufr, his son Sigfrið had Einar's brother, Gudbrand, who was married to the daughter of Huntingdon's chieftain and in that city, murdered. This sparked Einar to return west to march against Stamford.

The war further escalated when Ulf II Thorgilsson, Jarl of Mercia, declared his support for Leicester. Ulf had been a clear enemy of Alfvin and his dynasty, and supported the revolt to remove his lineage completely. By 1099 the following people were either claimants to the jarldom of the Five Boroughs, or mobilized as part of war:

  • Sigurd Alfvinsson of Lincoln - the first claimant to the Five Boroughs, as the second son of Alfvin Haroldsson
  • Guttorm Haroldsson of Repton - a bastard of Harold II, Guttorm received his chiefdom after supporting Alfvin in the first crisis
  • Niels Haroldsson of Djúra-bý - a bastard of Harold II, who had earned his chiefdom by supporting Sweyn II in the conflict surrounding his ascension
  • Harald of Leicester - one of the most powerful and ambitious nobles, directly seeking the jarldom for himself
  • Hjalmar of Northampton - Harald's brother and firm supporter
  • Sigrid Haroldsson of Nottingham - Alfvin's brother and veteran of the first crisis
  • Sigfrið of Stamford - a supporter of Alfvin's son and Eric of East Anglia, who mobilized against Grantebrú in retaliation for the death of his father
  • Einar of Grantebrú - a powerful chiefdom who received the city of Grantebrú following the death of Benedict, one of the main conspirators of the first crisis
  • Eric of Thetford - the rightful jarl of East Anglia
  • Thorgils Haroldsson - the bastard son of Harold II and an East Anglian noblewoman, Thorgils seized East Anglia in a revolt against the oppressive Eric
  • Ulf II Thorgilsson - jarl of Mercia and firm enemy of Alfvin's dynasty. who supports Leicester's bid for the jarldom

In late 1099 Eric met Thorgil's forces in battle, near Dereham. Eric was outnumbered by the largely peasant army, and Thorgil used this to his advantage to loosely surround his enemy. Believing that a larger force was attempting to trap him, Eric rushed into the center and attempted to break through Thorgil's line. Eric's charge would prove successful initially, however he would be killed in the fighting, leading his men to flee the battlefield. With Eric dead nothing stood in between him and the jarldom, and he marched into Thetford to have himself crowned before another threat could present itself. When he arrived in the city, Thorgil found that the city's defenders refused him entrance, and a siege ensued. After two weeks the defenses of the city failed, and Thorgi asserted his position by pillaging the late Eric's namesake.

Niels Haroldsson of Djúra-bý, fearing that if he did not consolidate as much of the boroughs as he could the Mercians would easily crush him, marched on Repton, where his half brother ruled. Repton was heavily outnumbered, but nevertheless Guttorm met Niels in battle outside the city. Niels rushed into combat and managed to rout the majority of the city's defenders, resulting in Guttorm's death. Rather than continue the violence, Guttorm's young son Thorfinn swore fealty to Niels, in exchange for continued ownership of Repton if Niels was to ascend to the throne. Niels next pillaged the area north of his possessions, into the lands of Sigrid of Nottingham. At this time Sigrid was preoccupied in the east. He had marched against his nephew stationed in Lincoln, who was powerless to stop his advance. After a long siege in Lincoln Sigrid finally seized the city, having his nephew executed, and himself crowned in his place.

Sigfrið now found himself encircled by three enemies. His allies Eric and Sigurd were dead, leaving Sigrid to the north as jarl in Lincoln, Harald of Leicester and the Mercians to the west, and Thorgil of East Anglia to the east. Sigfrið decided to ride to the north and recognize the coronation of Sigrid, leaving his son Borkvard in charge in Stamford. Sigfrið's change of allegiance won the support of the new Jarl of the Five Boroughs, but during his absence Harold of Leicester laid siege to Stamford. The city fell to the attackers, and Borkvard was executed. The Mercians also struck in the north, quickly capturing and pillaging Djúra-bý while Niels Haroldsson was near Nottingham. In 1099 Thorgil and Sigrid officially recognized each other's rule, effectively allying against Ulf II of Mercia and his ally Harald. Einar of Grantebrú also succeeded in gaining the support of the previously neutral Björn , Chief of Bedford.

Einar managed to defeat Harald in battle north of Northampton, temporarily turning back his advance. In the north Ulf laid siege to Nottingham, but an army under the command of Sigrid arrived in early 1100 and managed to break the siege of the city. While the Mercians fell back west, Sigrid quickly marched south and surrounded Leicester, while Einar continued distracting Harald further south still. Harald eventually fell back to Northampton, pursued by Einar and Thorgils, while Leicester fell to Sigrid. The Mercians retaliated by attacking Sigrid at Measham, achieving a major victory against Sigrid's forces. Northampton eventually fell however, with Harald fleeing into Mercia. His brother Hjalmar and much of his army chose to stay in the city, fighting to the last man.

By spring 1100 the East Anglians has pushed Harald out of the Five Boroughs, and had secured Stamford after Harald's withdraw. Sigrid and Thorgil regrouped in the north and marched north of Derby. Ulf, who was now outside Leicester, was caught off guard by this, and chose to return to Mercia and fight Sigrid, believing that Einar still remained stationed in the east. Sigrid and Thorgil raided into Mercia, managing to sneak around Djúra-bý. The attackers came upon the city of Stafford, where they were confronted by Ulf's army, which heavily outnumbered them. Ulf ordered his men to form a shield wall in the center, where Sigrid led his spearmen in an attack. Unable to make headway against the Mercian defenses, the attacking cavalry was ordered to charge the line as well, but both elements retreated. Sigrid rode into the field rallying the fleeing troops, who turned on the pursing Mercians and pushed them back.

Both sides regrouped, with the Mercians attempting to wrap around the attackers' flank. The Mercians had their forces concentrated in the center, with loose formations wrapping around the attackers. Sigrid led a cavalry charge against the center of the Mercian line, before falling back. The Mercians pursued into the main attacking line, where Sigrid managed to surround the Mercians. Thorgil then led an attack on the left flank, which was heavily spread out. The Mercians attempted to retreat after taking heavy casualties in the center. Their shield wall held, but was now heavily thinned out. The center broke up in an attempt to relieve the left flank, and Sigrid launched another charge. This time he broke through the thinner defenses, causing the Mercians to rout. Ulf rode against Sigrid and was killed in the chaos, causing a general retreat. The Battle of Stafford, nicknamed later as the 'Miracle at Strafford' ended in a decisive victory for the attackers, and soon after the Mercians sued for peace.

In mid 1100 Sweyn called for a council to be held in Wallingford, between the remaining belligerents of the war. Sigrid was recognized as the Jarl of the Five Boroughs, while Thorgils was recognized as Jarl of East Anglia. Additionally new borders were drawn, and new titles distributed. Peace lasted for years after the Second Crisis of the Boroughs, with later amendments being made to the 1100 agreement, such as the creation of the Jarldom of Grantebrú several years later. The agreement would also lead to the creation of the Jarldom of Hereford in the west, which further weakened the Jarldom of Mercia as a major power in England. Sweyn kept the peace in England until his death in 1108, when he was succeeded by his son Harthacnut.

Hereford WarEditEdit

Main article: Hereford War (The Old Boar Suffered)

In 1108 Sweyn II of England died in London, England, leaving behind three children by his first wife, Matilda of Normandy, and two by his second wife, Margaret of Scotland. The oldest son, Harthacnut, aged about twenty-seven, rode to the city and received the recognition of Sweyn's supporters as the late king's successor. Harthacnut was crowned by the Archbishop of Jórvík, as the Archbishop of Canterbury still remained in exile after he fled the reign of Harthacnut's predecessor.

Harthacnut announced his intentions to continue his father's legacy, continuing a firm rule over the kingdom. Harthacnut consumed much of his early reign with a dissipated private life however, gaining a reputation as a loud party goer. This reckless lifestyle resulted in the death of four of Harthacnut's men while drunk at a festival in the capital, and in 1113 Harthacnut announced his intentions to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, becoming one of the first European monarchs to do so after the end of the First Crusade. Additionally Harthacnut was noted as a strong and motivating leader, who won the support of the English assemblies with his long speeches. His appointment of many of his supporters to vacant lands across the kingdom also aided to this end.

Harthacnut inherited a deteriorating situation in Wales from his predecessors, at a time when the English had attempted to push into Wales, causing tensions with the native lords. The Welsh openly attacked the English in 1110, with some political prisoners in Welsh possession being blinded or tortured. This prompted an invasion against the main perpetrators, Owain ap Cadwgan and Gruffudd ap Cynan, consisting of a three pronged assault into Wales. Both Welsh lords eventually sued for peace, and Harthacnut personally appointed his own supporters to the Welsh marches, in an effort to strengthen the border region in the future.

Harthacnut's pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 1113 brought him to the courts of many influential European monarchs, including Henry V of the Holy Roman Empire. Some time while journeying in southern Europe Harthacnut fell ill, but decided to continue his pilgrimage, at his own health's expense. Harthacnut landed in Cyprus, where he died of illness. The king's lack of a son launched England into a succession crisis, with multiple members of his family eventually claiming the throne.

Harthacnut II died in 1113 while on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, and with no direct male heirs, when this news reached England a succession crisis emerged. Of Sweyn II's two legitimate sons, Harthacnut and Harold, both were dead by this point, with Harold having died in a shipwreck in 1110. The nobles of England next turned to Sweyn's siblings. These included Ragnvald, who had been forced into exile in 1083, Harold's first son by Gunnhildr Sveinsdóttir, Cnut, who had died young in 1065, Alfvin, the late Jarl of the Five Boroughs, whose death began and the Second Crisis of the Boroughs, and lastly the brothers Sigrid and Ulf. Both men were respected warriors and leaders, and both sought the throne for themselves. In addition to Harthacnut's legitimate uncles, there was also Thorgil, Jarl of East Anglia, who claimed Harold II to be his father. In the north there was Olaf Haakonsson, Jarl of Jórvík, among others.

Ulf Haroldsson was a notorious commander by this time, having served in the First Crusade, the Crises of the Boroughs, and other conflicts. His involvement against Ulf II Thorgilsson of Mercia earned him the Jarldom of Gloiuborg in the Council of Wallingford, which profited from the conflicts against Wales to increase its size. Born in 1070 to Harold II and Gunnhildr Sveinsdóttir, Ulf first rose to predominance when he married Gunhilde of Hereford, the only offspring of the chieftain Eadric, allowing Ulf to gain control over House Hereford and its territorial possessions. In 1087 Ulf negotiated peace between Rögnvaldr of Repton and Sigfrið of Stamford, but his efforts would only delay the inevitable First Crisis of the Boroughs. In the ensuing war Ulf served his brother Sweyn II against neighboring Mercia, winning a major victory at the Siege of Warwick in 1089. In 1100 the crises formally ended, and Sweyn granted his brother an extensive jarldom, partially carved out the territories of Mercia, known as the Jarldom of Gloiuborg, which would grow increasingly powerful over the course of the next several months.

Sigrid Haroldsson had also profited from recent conflicts, becoming one of the most influential nobles in southern England. By the time of Harthacnut's death Sigrid had personally acquired most of Essex, leaving him in a powerful position in relation to the capital. Sigrid also had become a major English noble after he seized the Jarldom of the Five Boroughs following the Second Crisis of the Boroughs. This placed him in possession of two major regions of England, located centrally around London. Sigrid, alongside the Bishop of London, had served as Harthacnut's regent throughout much of 1113, making him a logical choice for succession. Sigrid had himself swiftly crowned in London, but nevertheless his rule was still challenged. Ulf revolted, receiving the backing of Jórvík, as Jarl Olaf reportedly recognized Ulf's brilliance as a military commander when he fought in support of Olaf years earlier. Thorgil of East Anglia also supported Ulf, seeing him as the lesser of two evils, especially after Sigrid had participated in the pillaging of neighboring East Anglia under Thorgil, during the Second Crisis of the Boroughs. Sigrid was forced to rely heavily on soldiers from southern England to crush this revolt, however he was soon joined by Eilaf, Jarl of Mercia, whose personal vendetta against Ulf and many of his other neighbors forced his hand in favor of Sigrid.

Ulf marched an army against the capital, before meeting the royal army, primarily consisting of forces from Essex, near Oxford. The royal army slightly outnumbered Ulf's own forces, however Ulf managed to secure the higher ground overlooking the city and surrounding area, allowing him to counter English attacks from the east. Initially Ulf divided his army into four sections, arranging his army into these groups around the accompanying hillside. Sigrid responded by leading a cavalry attack against the left flank of the rebels' line, causing this section of Ulf's army to rout. Sigrid's cavalry pursued the fleeing army, temporarily drawing away a portion of the king's army from the main battlefield. Sigrid next launched the remainder of his army into the right flank of Ulf's line, which forced him to charge his infantry up the hillside.

After sustaining heavy casualties, Sigrid withdrew his forces into the city of Oxford, where Ulf pursued him and surround the city. When Sigrid's cavalrymen returned to the battle, weary from the chase, they were ordered into a counterattack. The town was largely set ablaze, and by now Sigrid's army had fled. Sigrid himself called off the attack and led a general retreat from the city, forced to return south toward London. During this time however, the Mercians had also mobilized, unknown to Ulf at the time. Eilaf's army entered Gloiuborg from the east, laying siege to the city of Worcester. Ulf returned north from his victory in Oxford, but by this time the city had fallen, and Gloiuborg itself was now threatened. In an attempt to draw away Eilaf's attention, Ulf marched directly toward the city of Warwick, while his son Sweyn fortified Hereford, preparing for a possible attack. The Mercians split their forces, with Eilaf leading one army toward Warwick to intercept Ulf.

Near Stratford, Ulf was bombarded from a garrison from Warwick, as well as from Eilaf's army arriving from the west. The Mercians falled to use their surprise attack to encircle Ulf, and he managed to withdraw to a defensive position further to the south. The Mercians pursued to Oxehill, where Ulf was forced to put up a defense against both armies. While the majority of his army fled up the hillside, Ulf led a charge of some of his fighters directly against the rapidly advancing and overwhelming Mercian army. After the initial cavalry charge however, Ulf withdrew back, with the Mercians swiftly pursing him. The Mercians found themselves charging up the hillside, into the shield wall prepared by Ulf's army, which had time to prepare itself thanks to Ulf's distraction. The result was a large loss of men for the Mercians, who eventually withdrew toward Warwick.

The western army had pillaged much of the countryside in northern Gloiuborg, awaiting Eilaf to return and march against Hereford. When the Battle of Oxehill became a defeat for the Mercians, they instead laid siege to Hereford without support, before lifting the siege and returning to pillaging. Sweyn, eager to prove himself as a commander, vacated Hereford and met the Mercians at Leominster. In the resulting battle Sweyn would be overwhelmed and forced to retreat in defeat, however he did manage to wear down the Mercian army, arguably long enough for Ulf's main army to return from the southern Mercian border.

Sigrid became preoccupied against Thorgil of East Anglia, whose ambitious war goals included the expansion of the jarldom to include Essex, if not the capital itself. Much of the English king's territory north of London fell quickly to Thorgil, who received the submission of Bedford, Grantebrú, and other major cities with minimal fighting. Thorgil next marched on Chelmsford, where a month long siege ensued. The English launched a counterattack against Thorgil, but would be defeated, allowing the city to fall into East Anglian hands. Sigrid himself marched against the East Anglians, and at Stortford managed to decisively defeat Thorgil, who withdrew to Colborg.

In the north Olaf Haakonsson of Jórvík had committed his forces for Ulf, defeating a minor Mercian army at the Battle of Oldham. Ulf's next victory would be political, with Ivar of Oxeborg, Jarl of Wessex, pledging his allegiance to Ulf over Sigrid. This trapped Sigrid among multiple rival armies, and by the beginning of 1114 his reign was collapsing. In the east Sigrid began 1114 with great success, capturing the important city of Grantebrú after a joint army from Mercia and the Five Boroughs invaded. Losing ground and allies rapidly, Thorgil appointed Ormar of Colborg as military commander, and launched an assault north to intercept English forces marching on Thetford. At Whepstead Ormar would successfully launch an ambush against Sigrid's forces, scoring a major victory against the invaders. This victory was not enough however, and by the spring of 1114 the Five Boroughs army had captured much of northern East Anglia. The Five Boroughs also defeated Olaf Haakonsson at the Battle of Donborg, staling the advance into Mercia from the north.

A crucial element for Ulf would prove to be the forces from Wessex, who invaded English held cities in the south in early 1114. Many of England's most important coastal cities would be seized, drawing away forces from London and the other fronts. At the Battle of Reading Sigrid would personally be defeated by Ivar, forcing the English to fall back around London. In May 1114 the Mercians laid siege to the city of Hereford for the second time, this time seizing the settlement after a few months. After a counterattack by both Ulf and his son failed, the pretender and his forces fled to Gloiuborg to defend the jarl's capital. The Mercians were largely unable to capitalize on their victory however, as immediately after the siege and subsequent pillaging of Hereford, Eilaf of Mercia returned into his jarldom to repel northern excursions into his territory. After the defeat at Donborg, Olaf Haakonsson of Jórvík regrouped in the north, before launching an assault on northern Mercia in an attempt to cut them off from the north. Olaf laid siege to the powerful of Manborg, and with the assistance of one Wilfrid of Boelton, a traitorous Mercian noble, took the city relatively quickly.

Jarl Eilaf quickly marched north from the Jarldom of Gloiuborg to respond to the northern invaders, meeting them outside the city of Legaborg, on the Mercian coast. Eilaf positioned his forces with the city on his left flank, attempting to wrap around and surround the besiegers. Unknown to Eilaf, Olaf Haakonsson had withdrawn much of his forces from the city wall's, essentially halting his siege, but allowing him to counter the Mercian advance by attacking on their right flank, with this reserve force. Almost immediately Eilaf's right flank collapses, and fearing this would spread, had his men withdraw and form a new line further away from the city. This allowed Olaf's remaining men to flee the encirclement, and pulled support away from the city. In the ensuing battle on open ground, Eilaf would be defeated, and in the coming days Legaborg fell to the forces of Jórvík.

In East Anglia Sigrid continued to find success, capturing Thetford after a victorious engagement against Cnut of Thetford. In the south however Ormar of Colborg had repulsed an initial attack against his city, and by mid 1114 these forces were relocated to defend against the Jarl of Wessex, now advancing into southern England. In late 1114 Ulf attempted to aid to this end by launching an assault to the east. He sought to cut off Mercia from Mercia, allowing him and his allies to surround London. An army from the Five Boroughs and southern England would be defeated near Northampton by Ulf, before he turned south and marched on London itself. Sigrid immediately pulled his forces from East Anglia and Essex to intercept, and Ulf was ambushed near Bedford. The city itself proved to be a crucial step toward London, and Ulf elected to siege the city. Surrounded on practically three sides, Ulf positioned his men in a defensive shield wall in a circle near the city.

Although suffering heavy casualties themselves, the English repeatedly attacked Ulf in this position, quickly cutting away his forces. After hours of fighting, the English finally pulled back, but rather than regroup, Ulf ordered his men to pursue the English, arranging his army into a triangular shape, with each leg attempting to surround an individual English army. The men from Bedford routed, and Ulf led the men on that flank in a flanking maneuver against Sigrid. At this time Ormar of Colborg arrived from the east, engaging in a skirmish against the fleeing garrison of Bedford, before attacking Sigrid's line from the rear. This distraction proved effective enough to rout the English army, ending the day as a decisive victory for Ulf. The victory did not come without a cost however, as Ulf had sustained heavy casualties before taking Bedford. After the victory however the Mercians largely withdrew from the south, focusing all their efforts against Olaf Haakonsson in the north. Ormar of Colborg led his army to the north to bait the armies of the Five Boroughs, before withdrawing to East Anglia. This daring move helped divert forces away from the advance toward London.

Sigrid personally marched an army to the north from London, meeting Ulf at the Battle of St. Albans in late 1114. By now his allies had either been defeated or distracted by a different front, and pressure from Wessex now left Sigrid with little options. With a larger force than the invaders, Sigrid sought to defeat Ulf at St. Albans and end the war with a decisive victory. Sigrid positioned his men into a three part shield wall, luring the rebels into combat, where they became overwhelmed. Ulf led a cavalry charge into the center, which broke the defender's lines slightly, prompting the English left and right flank to wrap in, in an attempt to trap this incision. Ulf quickly retreated, and the left and right flanks of the English pursued. Ulf barely escaped with his life, but did manage to feign the bulk of the English army into his own defending lines. The English suffered heavy casualties in this attack, before retreating, to which Ulf charged in return. Both of the English flanks were soon mostly routed, and Ulf wrapped his men around the English center. Their shield wall held strong, however they were eventually overwhelmed, and Sigrid was killed.

Ulf took the city of London soon after the death of Sigrid, and was crowned the new king of England. Although other claimants existed to the throne, none dared to challenge the powerful new king, and the Hereford War was concluded by late 1114. Ulf proclaimed a new line of succession, hoping to satisfy the concerns of many of England's jarls and nobles, in an effort to prevent another succession crisis in the foreseeable future. The conflict in East Anglia had heavily devastated the jarldom, and in Ulf helped finance the creation of defenses in the region. Ulf's kinsman Thorgil transferred his court to Gipeswic, whereas the houses of Colborg and Thetford were able to assert control over parts of the jarldom. Ulf's first son Sweyn was appointed jarl of a newly created Jarldom of Essex, while his second son, Björn, became Jarl of the Five Boroughs. The Jarldom of Gloiuborg was also slightly expanded at the expense of Mercia.

After his coronation Ulf had many of the jarls and nobles of England congregate in London, where they swore fealty to the new king. Ulf had acquired a kingdom heavily devastated by war, with low regard for royal authority. Many nobles had commissioned their own castles across England, the royal forests had been pillaged, and the king's income had steadily decreased in recent years. Ulf set out to turn this trend around, ordering several unauthorized castles to be demolished, and efforts were made to restore the kingdom's justice system and finances. In addition to the rebuilding of English infrastructure and defenses, Ulf had a Cluniac style abbey commissioned on the Isle of Sheppey, manned by monks from the nearby Bermondsey Abbey. Sheppey Abbey would become the resting place for Ulf and much of his family, and would be one of many construction projects began on Ulf's behalf.

Invasion of GuyenneEditEdit

In 1125 Ulf was wed to Eleanor of Aquitaine, a powerful duchess in the south of France. Eleanor had previously been married to Henry I, King of the Franks, and this caused deteriorating relations between England and France. Henry portrayed himself in as a higher moral authority, noting his experience as a crusader, and painting Ulf in a less desirable light. Over the next several years the relationship between the two kingdoms worsened. In 1129 Conan III, Duke of Brittany died, and civil war broke out in his realm. Ulf supported the claimant Conan IV, who had strong English ties and could be easily influenced by Ulf. Five years later Ulf personally led an army into Brittany, securing Nantes for himself against Conan IV after he failed to subdue his uncle, Alan. The French kings were largely distracted by civil war, nicknamed "The Anarchy", and were unable to counter Ulf's ambitious gains across the channel.

Eleanor's power had been heavily reduced in Aquitaine after the war between Aquitaine and Normandy from 1120 to 1121, with Aquitaine being partitioned between members of the House of Poitiers and other noble families. In 1136 Ulf launched an invasion of the County of Toulouse, supported by his wife's forces from Poitiers. Ulf also allied with the Count of Barcelona, who had a pre existing rivalry with the Count of Toulouse, William Capet. The invasion began with a naval invasion down the Gironde estuary, taking Ulf to the gates of Bordeaux, a city ruled by William's brother-in-law, Charles. Charles marched an army out of the city, hoping to intercept the landing army and defeat Ulf before he could properly prepare. Charles underestimated Ulf's army, and was defeated outside the city, but not before inflicting heavy casualties. Ulf retreated north to the town of Pauillac, a city aligned to Eleanor, where he met up with the rest of his docked fleet. At the same time Saintonge, ruled by Eleanor's cousin William, made a secret pledge to Eleanor over William of Toulouse, and the Army of Poitiers marched into Saintonge on route to relieve Ulf's men. William was reluctantly appointed commander of a joint Saintonge-Poitiers army, which first saw combat at the Battle of Salignac, a minor engagement against a portion of Charles' garrison.

The Count of Toulouse mobilized his army, and called upon the other counts formally under Eleanor's ducal control to support him, successfully mustering a considerable coalition of southern French states. One such ally would be Amanieu III, Lord of Albret, who had successfully elevated his family to a position of power following the rebellion over a decade earlier. William's coalition arrived too late to aid Bordeaux however, and a few weeks after Ulf's initial landing the city fell to the English and their allies. The English next turned on Bazas, an independent city to the southeast, and was met by William and the Lord of Albret. After a brief siege Ulf pulled back his men, causing William to order an immediate charge after the fleeing English. The Count of Toulouse would be ambushed however by the men of Poitiers, who devastated the coalition forces involved in the charge. Amanieu III, Lord of Albret, would be among those dead, being succeeded by one Bernard Ezi II. Numerous other castles were seized by the English, and many towns in western Aquitaine were pillaged.

This continued into 1137, when a peace treaty between King Stephen of France and Geoffrey of Anjou was signed, temporarily ending The Anarchy. Ulf was compelled to leave France, fearful of a possible intervention by the French king. A peace treaty was signed that ceded some of the Count of Toulouse's possessions on the western coast of France to Ulf, as well as some minor territorial possessions to William of Saintonge, such as the County of Nérac. This peace continued until 1139, when it was discovered that the Lord of Albret was supporting dissidence in Ulf's French possessions. He returned to France toward the end of that year, receiving Bordeaux with relatively little fighting. William, Count of Toulouse was joined by additional allies, including Angoulême, the city of Cahors, and Turenne, threatening Poitiers itself.

William, Count of Saintonge again claimed the role of commander of Ulf's French allies, which now included Elias IV, Count of Périgord, after Sweyn, Jarl of Essex was married to Elias' daughter Joana in 1138. Sweyn accompanied his father to France, who was now in his sixties, acting as a commander of the English forces in his own right. After the capture of Bordeaux Sweyn split off from the main English army with a smaller force, marching against Lord Albret while his father marched north to aid the Count of Saintonge. Bernard Ezi II, Lord of Albret had pillaged and occupied Nérac, and Sweyn sought to take back the county. Bernard Ezi had been preoccupied in the west after Nérac, pillaging towns loyal to the English along the coast. When he received news of Sweyn's advance he returned east hastily to aid the garrisons he had stationed, meeting Sweyn at Mézin. Bernard Ezi would be decisively defeated by the English, leading to the fall of Nérac a few weeks later.

Sweyn pursued the Lord of Albret into the lordship itself, laying siege to Albret in 1140. By this time war had broken out between the Angevin duke Geoffrey and the late King Stephen of France's son, William, again distracting other French nobles from intervening against the English. Ulf began 1140 by securing a decisive victory against the Count of Angoulême at Chalais. Combined with William of Saintonge's successful siege of Angoulême itself in April, the Count was forced to relent to English demands. The remaining coalition loyal to William of Toulouse rallied at Sarlat, where they were met by the English in the summer of 1140. Forces from Toulouse, Cahors, and Turenne were tasked with the defense of the city against Ulf and William of Saintonge, but in the ensuing battle the coalition would be defeated. This devastating battle left William of Toulouse willing to negotiate a peace treaty, and departed for the negotiation table at Castillon, where the bishop of the city was to act as a mediator.

In the Treaty of Castillon a large concession known as the Duchy of Guyenne was granted to the English, including Bordeaux, Bazas, and other cities in southern Aquitaine. The county of Targon, which separated Guyenne in two, was established as an Aquitanian vassal, as were Turenne and Angoulême. Nérac was returned to Poitiers, and any territories seized by the Lord of Albret were also returned. Bernard Ezi was forced to swear fealty to the English as well. Most importantly, William of Toulouse conceded the earlier agreement made with Eleanor in the wake of the 1121 invasion of Aquitaine, which had made William the heir to Aquitaine and all of Eleanor's territories. Instead Eleanor's children by Ulf would ascend to the throne of Aquitaine, passing the large French territory into the hands of the House of Hereford in the not too distant future. The Bishop of Castillon also saw his bishopric expanded, gaining territory controlled by the city of Cahors, possibly as a bribe on Ulf's part.

The acquisition of Guyenne made Ulf one of the most powerful nobles in France, earning him the disdain of the ruling Plantagenet family. Ulf's territory rivaled that of Geoffrey I of France, but Ulf attempted to maintain positive relations over the course of the next few years. After the conclusion of The Anarchy, peace between France and England was maintained by Geoffrey's frequent conflicts with the barons of Normandy and other parts of northern France, preventing him from marching against Aquitaine. Ulf's large empire lacked a coherent central government, and remained largely disorganized. Following Ulf's death the break up of these territories among his sons would affirm this disunity. To remedy this, Ulf traveled frequently around his possessions, appointing local authorities to act on his behalf. A complex hierarchical system grew out of Guyenne, something that England was largely free of.

Ulf also held regular council meetings, in which major decisions were decided upon, or an audience was granted to various bishops or barons. Many of these council members were born from the great houses already existing in England, while other positions in administration were filled by illegitimate members of Ulf's family. Ulf's court attracted the attention of dignitaries and chroniclers from across Europe, as Ulf promoted both literary discussion and courtly values, combined with drinking, hunting, and other forms of leisure. Ulf participated less in these activities by this time, now in his old age. He also ended his support for tournaments, fearing such congregations of armed knights during peacetime. In 1143 Ulf died of illness while traveling near Fontenay. Ulf's first son Sweyn was crowned Sweyn III of England when news arrived from France. In an attempt to quell complaints from his brother Björn, Jarl of the Five Boroughs Sweyn ceded all possessions in Brittany to Björn. Ulf's son by Eleanor of Aquitaine was crowned duke after the death of his mother, as well as duke of Guyenne, with William, Count of Saintonges serving as his regent for the next few years.

Saintonge WarEditEdit

Main article: Saintonge War (The Old Boar Suffered)
[2]

The political situation in France upon Ulf's death.

Sweyn's growing power in southern France attracted attention from the kings of France. Geoffrey Plantagenet had seized the throne of France and ended The Anarchy after the Battle of Bouvines, being succeeded by his son Henry II in 1151. Henry II allied with the Count of Champagne and the Duke of Burgundy against Aquitaine. Henry II's son Richard was born in 1157, leaving Henry more confident in his position as king, and he began preparing for war against England. In the north Sweyn exerted further influence across Brittany, leading an invasion in 1058 to punish the local barons of the region. Conan IV was defeated and forced to abdicate, granting the remainder of Brittany to his daughter Constance, who was betrothed to Sweyn's brother Björn, the Count of Nantes. Growing tensions arose over how money for the crusader states of the Levant should be collected, and in 1059 Sweyn attacked a French arsenal near Brittany. This severally weakened Henry II, and Sweyn was able to continue his war in Brittany without fear of retaliation.

In the final straw came when Harold, Duke of Aquitaine, Sweyn's brother, died unexpectedly at the age of thirty one. Sweyn claimed the throne of Aquitaine and Guyenne for himself, in the absence of a son to succeed Harold. Henry II built up his forces once more, and in 1163 the French king and his allies declared war on England. A French army was assembled in Chinon, while Sweyn led the English to Royan, where they joined up with Harold's former forces. In attempt to gain the support of William, Count of Saintonge, Sweyn proclaimed him duke in exchange for his fealty, and William was granted command of the French forces loyal to the English cause. The French gained the support of the Lusignan dynasty, led by Hugh VIII, one of the most powerful nobles under Harold's rule, and a chief supporter of autonomy for his possessions.

Sweyn marched north from Bordeaux and reached Ingrandes, where he met Henry II in battle. The French had occupied the nearby castle outside the city, which overlooked the bridge over the Charente. The English and French met near the bridge, before a massive charge of the French knights uprooted the English possession. The French pursued as far as Poitiers, where the English were besieged. At the same time Hugh had marched from La Marche and encountered William of Saintonge at Montmorillon. The Anglo-French alliance managed to repulse Hugh, but the battle delayed reinforcements from reaching Poitiers, which surrendered soon after. By early 1164 the French now controlled the capital of Aquitaine, but the alliance soon quarreled over the duchy's spoils. Henry II attempted to place his young son Richard on the throne, angering the Lusigans and other nobles. Hugh VIII in response made peace with the English that February.

A second English invasion of English and Breton soldiers, led by Sweyn's brother Björn, was launched from Brittany into Anjou. Henry II allied with John II, Count of Alençon, who spearheaded the French defense in the north. Björn marched as far east as Angers, before he turned north to relieve the siege at Fougères, led by John II. Despite the fall of Aquitaine, the majority of the duchy's vassals and forces were still aligned to Sweyn, who marched east against Toulouse, supported by Burgundy. William of Toulouse had seized English fortresses at Montauban and now marched toward Nérac, aided by rebellious nobles in Guyenne. At the Battle of Bergerac Sweyn would defeat a coalition of pro-Henry lords in Guyenne, diminishing the power of the rebellion in Guyenne. This was followed up by a successful siege at Sarlat that May, securing what was left of the duchy under Sweyn. Amanieu IV of Albret declared his support for Toulouse and the French king, and marched on Nérac from the east, trapping the county from two sides and forcing its surrender.

When Sweyn learned of this he immediately marched back west, meeting a combined enemy alliance at Marmande. In the ensuing battle William would be killed, launching Toulouse into crisis. Unable to support two major wars at once, Sweyn elected to make peace with the Lord of Albret and other supporters of William, securing a white peace in the south. In Brittany Björn defeated Henry II in Anjou itself, and had captured most of the lands of the Count of Retz. French forces were withdraw from Aquitaine that summer, and in August William of Saintonge retook Poitiers. The French coalition repulsed Björn back into Brittany, winning a decisive victory at Ancenis. A back and forth war continued into 1165, with a French occupation of Dol, and an unsuccessful raid on Nantes.

In early 1165 a French army marched against Poitiers, where William had himself crowned the previous year. Hugh of La Marche again declared war on Aquitaine, and joined the French invasion. At the Battle of Confolens the French would position their forces with Hugh's army on their left flank. William was partially surrounded, but not before breaking through the French left flank and devastating La Marche forces. Hugh would be killed in the battle, but nevertheless the battle became a decisive defeat for Aquitaine. Sweyn intervened and marched into Aquitaine from Guyenne, defeating the Viscount of Limognes and his allies at the Battle of Châlus.

By mid 1165 Henry II had reached Angoulême, receiving the count's surrender. The French had now penetrated into central Aquitaine, and threatened Saintes, an important city in William's regime. In July he marched south from Poitiers, concurrent to Sweyn's advance north, meeting Henry II had Cognac. In the ensuing battle the Anglo-Aquitanian alliance would successfully defeat the French, but the battle would not be decisive, as it allowed Henry and the majority of his forces to escape. Poitiers fell once more to French forces, while in the north Henry II's allies had made significant headway into Brittany. Similarly Thouars had fallen to Anjou after a successful siege, and the Lord of Parthenay surrendered his territory as well, essentially removing Sweyn and William from Poitou completely. In late 1165 Niort fell to Henry II, but he failed to defeat William at Fontenay the following month, where William had taken up court.

In early 1166 both sides agreed to peace negotiations, meeting in Chinon. Negotiated by the Archbishop of Tours, the ensuing treaty affirmed Björn's position as Duke of Brittany, William's position as Duke of Aquitaine, and Sweyn's position as Duke of Guyenne. However, William was forced to swear fealty to France, making Aquitaine a French vassal once more. Similarly the duchy lost La Marche and other territories. Although Henry II failed to seize the throne of Aquitaine directly, he had successfully acquired its vassalage, and had prevented the English from seizing it, thus splitting the southern French positions of Ulf Haroldsson in two.

Descendants of Ulf IEditEdit

Main article: Ulf I of England (The Old Boar Suffered)

In 1117 Ulf led the English to war, against the king of Scotland. The Scottish had largely taken advantage of the Hereford War and other conflicts in recent years, seizing disputed lands between Scotland and England. That summer he led a successful campaign into the disputed lands, restoring English supremacy over individual Scottish lords.

During the later half of his reign Ulf conflicted with the church. A reforming movement had been created which advocated for further autonomy from royal authority for the clergy. In 1120 the Archbishop of Jórvík died and a dispute over who should succeed him between the reformers and the House of Hereford caused the king's relationship with the church to deteriorate. Ulf had his nephew appointed archbishop, but this appointment was rejected by the pope in Rome, and eventually the decision was overturned completely. This papal influence in royal affairs infuriated Ulf, and refused to allow the pope's replacement archbishop into England. The Archbishop of Canterbury traveled to Rome in an attempt to resolve the matter, against Ulf's wishes, and Ulf refused his entrance into England as well. The archbishop's estates were seized, and ties with his religious order were cut nation wide.

A temporary peace was called between the archbishop and the king in 1122, as Ulf hoped to have the archbishop crown his son Sweyn as king while he was still alive. Ulf had his vassals swear fealty to his son, but the archbishop continued to refuse a coronation. Ulf had the archbishop imprisoned, but he escaped, and was pursued by Ulf's knights in mainland Europe. From 1117 into 1118 Ulf also led expeditions into Wales, to push back the Welsh advance that had occurred throughout the previous decade. Ulf's campaign proved successful, and he reclaimed the pre war border, plus additional territory.

Sweyn III Ulfsson was crowned in London in the weeks following his father's death. It is possible that Sweyn feared his brother Björn, as he may have been jealous of the underage Harold as Duke of Aquitaine over himself, and Sweyn's concessions to him in Brittany were an attempt to quell his complaints and remove him from England, where he could threaten the king. Sweyn also set out to standardize English law, as by this time many different ecclesiastical and civil law courts, with overlapping jurisdictions, had been formed from the conflicting of traditional legal practices. Sweyn's legal system was to be coherent, restoring the role of royal justice in England. Sweyn saw the complaints and various legal cases of monasteries and nobles who had lost land during Sigrid and Ulf's reign. Many had been depossessed of their property, by the profiting local barons, who had even sold many of these properties. Sweyn heard many of these cases himself, delegating the rest to local courts. Despite these efforts, the court system was still not fully developed, and many were unable to make effective cases. Sweyn intervened in cases he thought mishandled, trying to appease as many people as possible.

Sweyn cracked down on crime across England, seizing property from thieves and fugitives, and sending law officials to the midlands and the north. Sweyn greatly expanded the use of local courts for this purpose, and dispatched royal justices across England to aid in this process. Juries were introduced during this time, where they were used to establish the answers to particular pre-established questions, or in some cases, determine the guilt of a defendant. Methods such as trial by combat and trial by ordeal remained common however, but slowly the introduction of Sweyn's legal administers penetrated the various jarldoms of England. By the end of his reign special courts had been established to deal with the wrongful depossession of land, inheritance rights, and the rights of widows, challenging the traditional rights of the barons in judicial practices, greatly increasing royal power.

Throughout Sweyn's reign his relationship with the church also varied considerably, with no clear ecclesiastical policy in place by his administration. Generally Sweyn resisted papal influence, and attempted to push back the church's authority and increase his own. The general movement for greater autonomy from royal authority, and more influence by the papacy over the clergy continued to take hold in England. Long-running concerns over the legal treatment of clergy members continued into Sweyn's reign. In Sweyn's French possessions there were fewer disputes between the crown and the church. In Brittany Sweyn had the support of the local church hierarchy and rarely had to intervene in clerical matters. In Aquitaine the church had greater power and autonomy, especially in the wake of an underage king, and this caused tension between the southern bishops and the crown.

Sweyn is not remembered as being a zealous or pious king. Although he did supply a steady stream of patronage to monasteries across England, and even established a few in certain parts of the country, he controlled his funding to monasteries close to his family. Sweyn also founded a number of religious hospitals, and later in his realm built monasteries in France to increase his public image. The danger of sea travel compelled Sweyn to take full confession before setting sail to France on any voyage, and he would use auguries to determine the best time to travel. His movements also often took advantage of saints' day and other fortuitous occasions.

The old financial institutions of England existing in the kingdom since before the Hereford War were restored by Sweyn, who undertook numerous long term reforms to manage the English currency. A long term increase in the supply of money within the economy followed, leading to both an increase in trade and inflation. Sweyn supplemented the income of his own estates through legal fines and the taxes he imposed, raised intermittently. Sweyn also borrowed money more than most earlier kings, primarily from Jewish and Flemish lenders. These loans would become crucial for Sweyn's infrastructural projects, as well as military campaigns. The financial situation established by Ulf and his predecessors relied heavily on separation institutions, centered around a central royal treasury in London, supported by treasuries stationed across England. This system allowed the king to collect revenue as needed, but was easily disrupted by war. The disruption of English finances in recent wars was counteracted by a new English silver penny, which was issued in an attempt to stabilize the English currency.

Paired with these reforms, Sweyn restored royal finances by improving the quality of the nation's accounting. Towards the middle of his reign, Sweyn minted coins in his name for the first time, and reduced the number of mints authorized to create coinage. New taxes were also introduced and the nation's existed accounts were audited, making way for new streams of money from fines and other collections. Toward the end of his reign Sweyn would complete his coinage reform, moving the nation's mints almost entirely under royal control, passing profits directly toward the national treasury.

Sweyn III Ulfsson died in 1170, and was succeeded by his first son by Joana of Périgord, Harold III. The Duchy of Guyenne was ceded to Harold's brother Eric, while the Jarldom of Gloiuborg was ceded to Olaf. During Harold's reign England made numerous strides to increase in territory and influence across Europe. Under Harold the English would involve themselves in a number of conflicts and disputes in France and the British Isles, casting the nation into several costly wars. Harold also tried to continue his father's financial and judicial reforms, particularly by nationalizing English mints for the purpose of controlling coinage, leading to new coins in Harold's likeness being minted soon after his ascension. This came at the cost of increased inflation, but also helped to increase trade between England and various nations of western Europe.

In 1176 the Archbishop of Canterbury died, and Harold saw an opportunity to increase his hold over the church in England. The Danish clergyman Absalon of Lund was appointed the new archbishop by Harold, who believed Absalon could be easily influenced and controlled by the crown. Harold's plan backfired however, as immediately after his appointment Absalon changed his views on royal authority, and began working toward the protection of church rights. Absalon and Harold disagreed heavily on a number of issues, including taxation in England and attempts by Absalon to regain lands confiscated from the archbishop in the past. Most importantly, Harold argued that any clergyman who committed a secular crime was under the crown's jurisdiction to enforce justice, as part of a legal custom in England. Absalon however believed that only church courts could try cases of this kind, leading to further conflict between the two individuals.

Harold passed a series of constitutions that attempted to restrict ecclesiastical privileges, including the reduction of the church courts' power and the influence of the Papacy in England. The church courts had initially garnered so much support during the civil war to establish the Hereford, but Harold argued that no system was needed, as his legal reforms had largely reinstated English law and judicial departments. Under immense pressure from the crown, Absalon initially agreed to Harold's demands, but soon withdrew his support. Both men sought the support of foreign leaders, especially the pope, culminating in Absalon's flight to France in 1178, where he sought refugee at the court of Henry II.

In 1138 the anti-English Count of Flanders, Baldwin VII, had died without a male heir, and he instead named his uncle-in-law, Cnut Sveinsson, son of Svein Knutsson of Denmark, as his successor. Cnut was the husband of Baldwin's aunt Adela, and had supported him in the Lowlands to win over his favor. Cnut eased tensions with England, instead growing tensions with the rising Plantagenets in France. Cnut died in 1182 and was succeeded by his son Charles, who ruled until his death in 1206.

In 1179 a revolt broke out in Guyenne against the cruel rule of Eric Sweynsson, and in turn Harold III. The cruelty of Eric's rule as duke had made the local French population angry with English rule, and they formed good relations with Henry II of France, further complicating a war in the south. Rebel forces secured the well-defended fortress at Taillebourg, which they believed to be impregnable. With Eric unable to effectively corner the rebellion, Harold sailed for Guyenne with an English army, laying siege to the rebel fortress. The farms and supporting lands around Taillebourg were looted, and all connection to reinforcements or supplies were cut off by the English. The fortress, which was surrounded by a cliff on three sides and a highly defended series of walls, eventually sent its army out to meet Harold, sailing from the fortress to Harold's position. The English defeated the rebels however, and followed the routed rebel army back within the fortress, leading to its surrender a few days later.

The disastrous defense of Taillebourg successfully ended the rebellion, with many barons and lords of Guyenne no longer willing to risk a conflict against Harold. This hesitance largely kept the peace, however two years later a succession crisis over the after the death of the Count of Angoulême created a conflict between Harold and supporters of the Plantagenet rulers of France. The crisis spilled over into various other sections of Aquitaine, with William of Saintonge siding with Harold over his lord, Henry II of France. Aquitaine was split between the two parties, with Limoges and La Marche in particular supporting Henry II in Angoulême. After two years of fighting in Aquitaine, during which William was killed and succeeded by his son, William XII, Harold finally came to terms with the rebellious lords of Aquitaine, who recognized William XII as duke.

In 1183 France again invaded Guyenne, this time supporting an invasion into Brittany as well. Harold managed to hold back the advances of the French army in Guyenne, while in Brittany the English quickly lost land to the invading English. The following year after a disastrous English campaign in Brittany, led by Duke Ranulf Björnsson, Ranulf was forced to recognize Henry II's son Richard as heir to the duchy, while in Guyenne territory remained largely static. The French king Henry II and Harold III made peace not long after, and later both kings took the cross at Tours in the company of other French nobles, preparing to lead soldiers to the Holy Land to retake Jerusalem.

Third CrusadeEditEdit

The temporary alliance of both France and England against the Saracens was partially because both kingdoms feared the other would take advantage of one king's absence, and so both Henry II and Harold III agreed to fight in the Holy Land together. High taxes were raised across England to pay for the expedition, and positions were appointed across England's territory to administrate in the absence of the king. Harold finally departed England for the Holy Land in 1189, setting sail first for Sicily, alongside the French army. Following the death of William II of Sicily, the crusaders found that the throne was occupied by Tancred, illegitimate son of Roger III, Duke of Apulia, instead of William's aunt Constance, the wife of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Tancred had also imprisoned William's widow, Harold's sister Margaret, and Harold demanded that she be released and her inheritance paid.

Margaret was finally released, but by then locals in Sicily had begun to revolt against the foreigners, demanding that Tancred throw out the crusaders. Harold attacked Messina and looted the city, a decision criticized by Henry II, and a base was established in the city against Tancred. The following spring a treaty was finally signed, which agreed that Margaret would receive twenty thousand ounces of gold as compensation for Tancred's seizure of her inheritance. In addition Harold agreed to have Tancred wed a daughter of his heir, in exchange for an additional twenty thousand ounces of gold, which Harold would return if the marriage did not occur. The French and English stayed in Sicily for a while, which increased tensions between the two kings, and even caused Henry to conspire against Harold with Tancred. In the end the two came to an agreement, and they later left Sicily to continue their journey.

The crusaders left Messina for Acre in April 1190, but a storm had dispersed their fleet, and it was discovered that several ships had wrecked on the coast of Cyprus. In addition the ship carrying Margaret and other nobles, as well as the treasure ships, had anchored there, and the island's ruler had taken many of the English captive. In May Harold landed in Lemesos and demanded the return of the treasure and captives, and when his request was denied he laid siege to the city. The city fell to Harold, and Harold received Guy of Lusigan, who declared his support for Harold in exchange for English support against Conrad of Montferrat, Guy's main rival in Jerusalem.

Nobles across Cyprus abandoned their king in favor of making peace with Harold, and even joined him on his crusade. The king of Cyprus would attempt to flee, and within a month Guy of Lusignan had conquered the remainder of the island. Harold appointed a pair of governors on the island, but later sold it to the Knights Templar. Later the island was acquired by Guy of Lusignan, who created a stable feudal kingdom from the territory. The capture of Cyprus opened up a clear maritime route to teh Holy Land, granting the kingdom of Jerusalem crucial support from the sea against the Saracens. With the island now secured, Harold and Henry departed for Acre in June.

In Acre Harold formally gave support to Guy of Lusignan, whose claim to the throne of Jerusalem was through his late wife and father's cousin, Sibylla of Jerusalem, who died earlier during the Siege of Acre. This claim was challenged by Conrad of Montferrat, second husband of Sibylla's half-sister, Isabella, and famous noble in the Near East after he saved the kingdom from defeat at Tyre years earlier. Conrad received the support of Henry II, further dividing the English and French crusaders, and also the support of Leopold V of Austria. Harold also allied with Humphrey IV of Toron, Isabella's first husband, from whom she had been forcibly divorced that year. Humphrey was an important ally to Guy of Lusignan, and his knowledge of Arabic made him an important translator and negotiator to Harold.

In 1192 Harold departed the Holy Land for England, but bad weather forced his ships to land at the port of Corfu, within the Byzantine Empire. The Byzantine Emperor was hostile to the English, who objected to the annexation of Cyprus committed by Harold several years earlier. Harold was forced to sneak out of the port to evade capture, sailing north before shipwrecking near Aquileia. Harold elected to travel by land through central Europe, and was captured near Vienna by Leopold V, Duke of Austria. Leopold accused Harold of ordering the death of Conrad of Montferrat, Leopold's cousin, and held the king as his prisoner. As the detention of a crusader was contrary to public law, Duke Leopold was later excommunicated by the pope. Three months later Leopold had Harold transferred to Speyer, where he was placed into the custody of the Holy Roman Emperor.

As Harold had supported the emperor's rivals in Germany, and had recognized Tancred in Sicily, he had Harold detained further, hoping to receive a large ransom for his release, which would be used to finance a war in Sicily. The pope excommunicated the emperor just as he had Leopold. A high ransom totaling about 50,000 pounds of silver was demanded by the emperor, which England barely managed to pay. A quarter of the value of all clergymen and laymen's property was confiscated, as was all gold and silver from the churches, combined with high taxes, all organized and sent to Germany. Richard I offered the Germans an even larger sum of money to continue to detain Harold, but the emperor refused, and when the ransom had been paid, Harold was released.

Twenty Years' WarEditEdit

Main article: Twenty Years' War (The Old Boar Suffered)

War broke out between Harold and Richard, the son of Henry II, almost as soon as Harold arrived back in England. An English army was gathered to march on Brittany, landing on the northern coast and marching on the Plantagenet city of Rennes. Harold's kinsman, Ranulf Björnsson, revolted against French rule, and raised the armies of Nantes and the remainder of Brittany against the French king. Radulf led an army across Brittany, securing Vannes and other major cities, which had previously swore fealty to the English kings in previous years. Harold's strategy involved holding back the French in Guyenne, while primarily invading Plantagenet positions from the north. The English were delayed however by a giant lack of funds, allowing the French to invade northern Aquitaine and Guyenne.

Richard gathered an army in Normandy and repulsed the invading English, before besieging Rennes and capturing the city from the newly established English garrison. An attempt by Harold to defeat Richard on the battlefield west of Rennes resulted in a decisive French victory, and with the French now encroaching on Aquitaine and Guyenne as well, Harold sued for peace. Radulf ceded parts of Brittany to Richard, however by this time he had gained much of the duchy itself. Richard built several fortresses across his new border in the north, including an extensive castle at Fougères, the Château de Saint-Malo on the coast, and further along the river Rance. This defensive network proved expensive, but also made English attacks into France much more difficult.

In 1206 Charles, Count of Flanders died. His death caused further conflict between England and France, as the succession of Charles' seventeen year old son Cnut was disputed by Baldwin V, Count of Hainaut, husband of Cnut Sveinsson's daughter Margaret. The ensuing War of Flemish succession attracted the influence of Harold III and Richard I, as the County of Flanders was an important staging ground against either power.

French ships in Normandy were tasked with raiding the English coast and its fleet, striking first at the important port city of Portsmouth in late 1206. The raided city was without defenses or a major garrison, allowing the French to take the city with minimal fighting, after they entered the port flying English flags to keep the townspeople from alerting the English army. The raids against the English coast alerted the local rulers of the region, who insisted upon using a majority of their funds and manpower to construct defenses and station guards, stalling England's ability to mobilize an army to the Lowlands. Following the French navy, individual merchants and minor lords across northern France began minor raiding campaigns across the English Channel, exploiting the weakness discovered by the French at Portsmouth.

Major raids against England subsided by the end of the year, and Harold found an opportunity to cross the English Channel, landing in Flanders near Gravelines. Desperate for a victory against the French, Harold marched the French aligned Bishopric of Cambrai, raiding and looting much of the surrounding area in his march. Cambrai was besieged for two weeks before finally falling, however by this time Richard I had managed to raise an army, and he met the English just south of the city. In the ensuing battle the English were driven out of the bishopric by a French victory. English forces were rallied by Harold's son, Harold the Black Prince, so called for his brutality against the French in previous campaigns, and he marched north back into Flanders.

Richard I targeted Harold's allies in the Lowlands, which supplied a large portion of his army in the region, laying siege to the city of Arras, and later defeating an army from Boulogne further west. Harold's forces became split in order to combat multiple French armies operating in the Lowlands. An army led by the Count of Artois marched against the French after Arras, but at the Battle of St.-Omer were decisively defeated. A second French army met up with Baldwin of Hainaut, and laid siege to Tournai, which was carried out for the next few months. Both armies refused to meet each other in battle, and in 1207 a temporary truce was called between France and England. During this time Harold the Black Prince had taken command of an army in the north, decisively defeating Baldwin's army and supporters from Brabant at the Battle of Zottegem in late 1206. An attempt by the main Brabant army to march into northern Flanders and take Ghent was hastily defeated by the Black Prince, and Brabant signed a treaty with England to end its involvement in the war. Baldwin still received Brabant support from cities such as Namur however, and personally took control of what remaining forces there were.

The war remained indecisive after the 1207 truce, largely brought on by a lack of funds on both sides. That year Harold the Black Prince married Cnut's daughter Gertrude, and received estates along the border with Hainaut as a dowry. Lands won from Baldwin could potentially increase his possessions in the region, and in 1208 the Black Prince joined Cnut on a campaign against Baldwin. Hainaut was aided by William III, Count of Jülich, as well as the County of Vermandois and the Duchy of Champagne, leaving Flanders heavily outnumbered. Baldwin was initially successful, taking the town of Waregam before marching on Ghent. Outnumbered by the approaching Hainaut army, the Flemish forces under Cnut and Harold encamped in the city, and were narrowly beaten back after a week long series of skirmishes and siege attempts. The Flemish victory did little to push back the invaders however, who were now supported by Champagne and Brabant, heavily outnumbering Flanders once more.

At the same time an army from Boulogne and Artois had stalled forces from Vermandois from reaching Ghent in the north, later meeting Hainaut's allies at the Battle of Croisilles. Led by Eustace V, the forces of Boulogne were defeated, and Eustace was killed. This further escalated the crisis in the Lowlands, as Baldwin attempted to restore the House of Flanders and Boulogne to that county as well, and was opposed by the House of Blois, a powerful family in northern France. The Blois count, Theobald VI, allied with Phillip of Villebeon, Lord of Nemours, and both men led attacks against Champagne. The sudden expansion of the war in the south caused Champagne to lessen its involvement in the north, with the majority of the duchy's army vacating Hainaut after little use there. By that time Blois had taken the city of Sens after a two week siege, and next moved north. After Ghent Harold and Cnut stayed in Flanders, preventing an attack from Brabant against the weakened city of Ghent, or further advances from Baldwin in the south.

In the east the combined armies of Blois and Nemours had successfully diverted Champagne's attention from the Lowlands, and soon found the additional support of Philip III of Paris, an enemy of Richard I after the French king caused the death of Philip's father, Louis IX. Champagne sued for peace with the invaders, agreeing to end its support for Baldwin in the Lowlands, as well as cede a number of minor possessions to the three many allies in the war in Champagne; Blois, Nemours, and Paris. Without Champagnian support, Baldwin of Hainaut lacked the forces needed to uproot Cnut from Flanders, however Cnut and Harold the Black Prince had also been largely hesitant to strike south either. In late 1209 the Flemish forces launched another campaign into Hainaut, defeating a small army at Halle. Cnut and Harold largely undid all of Baldwin's major gains acquired over the course of the previous year, and Baldwin now fled into his own territory.

Both sides finally met in battle at Lessines towards the end of 1209, the culmination of a series of minor battles between large armies amassed by both sides. Baldwin would be decisively defeated, losing a majority of his army in battle, and fleeing to Valenciennes. As a result of the battle Baldwin and Cnut agreed to peace, with Baldwin conceding defeat and formally recognizing the ascension of Cnut as Count of Flanders. Minor gains were made along the border, which were granted to Harold the Black Prince, but for the most part the border remained unchanged. With the war over in the Lowlands, all that remained was the conflict between England and France, largely spillover from the War of Flemish Succession.

Flanders appealed to England for assistance once more, but by this time the kingdom was heavily in debt. Its involvement would also mean further escalation by Richard I, who sought to gain large portions of English territory in weakened Aquitaine and Brittany. In 1209 however, Richard I brought war to England, leading an invasion into Aquitaine from the fortress at Limonges. The duke of Aquitaine, William XII, was a firm English ally, however he was out maneuvered by the French, who now gained the support of several of his supposed vassals, including the Count of La Marche, and the Viscount of Turenne. An army from Anjou decisively defeated William at Thouars, and later in Châtellerault, after William attempted to intercept French reinforcements marching north of Poitiers.

English defenses across Guyenne had become severally strained after years of conflict and open war with the French kings and their allies. Alliances were made with the Count of Armagnac and the Count of Foix, who both provided soldiers against Richard I in Guyenne. Additionally Harold's brother Eric, Duke of Guyenne, had established good diplomatic ties with Bernard, Lord of Albret, ruler of a historically anti-English lordship. Bernard sided with the English, providing crucial financial support and valuable manpower to the English offensive in southern France. Richard marched against the Count of Périgord, a supporter of England since the marriage of Sweyn III of England to the noblewoman Joana, and brutally ravaged the surrounding countryside. The French besieged Périgueux, and the count was forced to surrender to Richard or face complete annihilation.

With eastern Aquitaine now in French hands, Richard marched north, where his allies and vassals now threatened Poitiers itself. At the Battle of La Trémoille Richard defeated William and several other lords, forcing the Aquitainian forces to flee west and defend Poitiers. The English and their allies in Guyenne, having received enough time to raise an army and allocate funds, marched north to aid William, defeating a French garrison stationed in Périgord by Richard. Richard responded by halting his pursuit of William XII and marching against the English directly. He followed them as far as Sarlat, where he won a decisive victory against the English. Over the course of the rest of 1209 the border in Guyenne remained unstable, with French forces advancing across the eastern section of the duchy, and the Aquitainians being trapped in the north.

While Richard I laid siege to Brest, French forces also advanced into Guyenne, defeating the English at Gourdon and Montauban. The English largely retreated into western Guyenne, where they managed to repulse an initial French invasion, however their resources and defenses were becoming stretched thin. Brest fell to the French after a month long siege, and the English were completely removed from the Duchy of Brittany, after over a century of influence. In 1210 Harold III agreed to peace with Richard, and signed a treaty conceding defeat. The French and English met at Castillon and signed a formal treaty, ending the conflict in France as a decisive French victory. The English were forced to cede Brittany to the Angevins, as well as much of Aquitaine and Guyenne. The sole benefit the English gained was recognition of Cnut as Count of Flanders, and affirmation of all the earlier terms agreed upon in the Lowlands.

In Brittany the English forces, led by Duke Auðo Ranulfsson, attacked French-held fortresses in the east of the duchy, but found that Richard I's vast system of defenses proved too fortified, being driven back east of Rennes and at Fougères. Auðo led an army on Craon, where he managed to ambush a French army and drive it back east. He then returned to Nantes and crossed into the Angevin County of Retz, where he achieved a minor victory over the Count of Retz. The French surrounded Nantes in late 1209, and fearing a long siege the city's inhabitants and defenders surrendered to the Angevin invaders. Auðo crossed back over into his duchy, and set up a headquarters at the nearby town of Hennebont for the winter of 1209. Over the course of the next few months the English managed to hold Hennebont from numerous attacks, as well as keep the road open to Brest, where English reinforcements arrived sporadically.

In 1210 Duke Auðo Ranulfsson would be killed in an unsuccessful attempt to take Nantes, and Brittany became torn between multiple claimants. The French were able to gain the upper hand in this regard, and an invasion of Brittany occurred with swift results. Richard temporarily left Aquitaine with a portion of his army, to personally lead the invasion of Brittany. This army arrived from the south and marched through Retz, before destroying the English camp at Hennebont. The Count of Penthièvre, Henry II, abandoned the English, siding with Richard I instead. As a result the English were defeated again near Vannes, leaving Brest as one of the last English aligned fortresses in Brittany.

Outbreak of Lendmenn WarEditEdit

With the war with France ending in failure, growing discontent with Harold resulted in a rebellion by English lendmenn across the nation. Particularly in Jórvík, where the majority of nobles were uninterested in French affairs, and had lent a large amount of money to Harold to support his campaign, rebellion was sparked in late 1210. Harold attempted to stall, first by organizing peaceful councils in London, and next by sending requests to the pope for papal support against the lendmenn. Harold went as far as to declare himself a crusader, granting him additional political protection under church law. Einar Radulfsson, Jarl of the Five Boroughs, and brother of the late Duke of Brittany, Auðo Ranulfsson, was one of the first major nobles to began organizing rebellion against the king. This was followed by Haakon Sveinsson, Jarl of Jórvík, who led a contingent to Grantebrú and held a rival conference among rebellious nobles. The rebels drafted an agreement that demanded political reform, including a focus on rights of free men, although not serfs and unfree labor, the protection of church rights, protection from illegal imprisonment, access to swift justice, new taxation only with lendmenn consent, and limitations on feudal payments.

Initially Harold agreed to the treaty, however made no serious attempts to uphold it, causing conflict with the jarls and lendmenn of England again almost immediately. In 1211 war broke out between the lendmenn and the king, in a conflict known collectively as the First Lendmenn War. England was largely torn, with a portion of England's jarls also supporting the lendmenn, as well as numerous greves and other nobles across the kingdom. With support from the lendmenn, Richard I broke his earlier agreement with England and landed an invasion force in Kent, taking Harold by surprise. London fell relatively quickly without major fighting, and Harold fled into Wessex. The rebellious lendmenn gathered at London pledged their support for the French, and marched on Winchester, receiving the city after a brief siege.

Richard I then moved back to the coast of Kent to seize the crucial fortress at Dover, still held by a firm English garrison. While en route cities across Kent fell to Richard, or defected against Harold in favor of the French. At the Siege of Dover the initial French attack was repulsed, while the Greve of Thetford began a guerrilla campaign across Kent, cutting off French-held towns. The siege at Dover began to take its toll on Richard, and also diverted much of his army from the rest of southern England. After three months around the city, Richard finally called a truce and Dover and returned to London. The French marched on Rovesborg, and Harold laid siege to the city himself. Awaiting reinforcements, the French stayed within the city walls, but the reinforcements were cut off by English fire ships deployed against the routes into the city. The lendmenn rode out of Rovesborg in an attempt to fight back the English fleet advancing up the river, but were beaten back atop the city's bridge. Siege weapons and mining equipment was deployed against the city with great haste by Harold, and the city's keep eventually fell the English. Of the lendmenn not pardoned by Harold, they had their hands and feet chopped off by the English, as an example to the other rebellious nobles of England. The city itself fell to the English from starvation during the coming winter, and Harold had those within imprisoned or killed.

In late 1212 Harold III died, and the throne fell upon his grandson Sweyn. The young king was the son of Harold the Black Prince, who had died the year before while in Flanders. The decision to pass over Harold's many able brothers in favor of a young king helped to turn the tide of the war, as many lendmenn now realized that Richard I of France now posed a greater threat to their rights than a young boy did. With London in the hands of the Richard I, Sweyn was brought to Gloiuborg and crowned King of England by the lendmenn using makeshift regalia. Sweyn's regent approved a revised version of the lendmenn's agreement, and he immediately gained the favor of much of England. Richard I remained popular in the south, however his costly campaign had left the country ravaged, and by now he had also received excommunication from the pope and the condemnation of many nobles.

By late 1212 Richard I was advancing into Grantebrú, taking a number of important castles north of London. With the lendmenn now beginning to support Sweyn, Richard decided to return to France where he could obtain reinforcements, but soon found that he would have to fight his way to the coast. Numerous ambushes plagued the French retreat, as did starvation from a lack of supplies. If not for the arrival of the French fleet on the southern coast, Richard's forces would have been trapped in the south, surrounded by hostile noblemen. Richard sailed to Dover, which since his earlier truce had disrupted Richard's communication with the mainland, and had weakened his advance into England. A second siege began outside the city, but the initial French camp was burned by English defenders. As such Richard was forced to land further south and march his way to Dover, taking away French resources from elsewhere in southern England. The concentration of French forces in Kent allowed the English to battle back French supporters across the region, and facing defeat at Dover Richard was largely unable to continue. The English fleet targeted Richard's reinforcements, leaving Richard outnumbered and low on supplies.

In 1213 the Treaty of Konsby was signed, officially ending the war between England and France. The treaty agreed that Richard would vacate the Kingdom of England in exchange for a sum of gold to be paid for the territory he controlled. The treaty also acknowledged French possession of the Channel Islands, and agreed that the French would make no attempt to conquer England. The Treaty of Konsby was the last agreement at the end of a series of wars between England and France, and ended a decade long period of conflict in both England and France.

Descendants of Harold IIIEditEdit

Main article: Sweyn IV of England (The Old Boar Suffered)

In late 1212 Harold III died, and the throne fell upon his grandson Sweyn. The young king was the son of Harold the Black Prince, who had died the year before while in Flanders. The decision to pass over Harold's many able brothers in favor of a young king helped to turn the tide of the war, as many lendmenn now realized that Richard I of France now posed a greater threat to their rights than a young boy did. With London in the hands of the Richard I, Sweyn was brought to Gloiuborg and crowned King of England by the lendmenn using makeshift regalia. Sweyn's regent approved a revised version of the lendmenn's agreement, and he immediately gained the favor of much of England. Richard I remained popular in the south, however his costly campaign had left the country ravaged, and by now he had also received excommunication from the pope and the condemnation of many nobles.

By late 1212 Richard I was advancing into Grantebrú, taking a number of important castles north of London. With the lendmenn now beginning to support Sweyn, Richard decided to return to France where he could obtain reinforcements, but soon found that he would have to fight his way to the coast. Numerous ambushes plagued the French retreat, as did starvation from a lack of supplies. If not for the arrival of the French fleet on the southern coast, Richard's forces would have been trapped in the south, surrounded by hostile noblemen. Richard sailed to Dover, which since his earlier truce had disrupted Richard's communication with the mainland, and had weakened his advance into England. A second siege began outside the city, but the initial French camp was burned by English defenders. As such Richard was forced to land further south and march his way to Dover, taking away French resources from elsewhere in southern England. The concentration of French forces in Kent allowed the English to battle back French supporters across the region, and facing defeat at Dover Richard was largely unable to continue. The English fleet targeted Richard's reinforcements, leaving Richard outnumbered and low on supplies.

In 1213 the Treaty of Konsby was signed, officially ending the war between England and France. The treaty agreed that Richard would vacate the Kingdom of England in exchange for a sum of gold to be paid for the territory he controlled. The treaty also acknowledged French possession of the Channel Islands, and agreed that the French would make no attempt to conquer England. The Treaty of Konsby was the last agreement at the end of a series of wars between England and France, and ended a decade long period of conflict in both England and France.

After the Treaty of Konsby Sweyn IV remained as king, although his rule was largely dominated by his uncle, the regent Christopher, Jarl of Grantebrú. In 1223 Sweyn ended the regency put in place for him, and ascended to the throne in his own right. Sweyn soon found that many were reluctant to give up power in his government, and Sweyn did a poor job of administrating England without the aid of advisers. Sweyn was wed to Maria of Brabant, securing a potential ally in the Lowlands against France if needed. The marriage was not popular in England however, and in 1228 she died, leaving behind a childless marriage. The marriage negotiations between the two states, who had previously been enemies during the War of the Flemish Succession only two decades earlier, were largely handled by Niels, Baron of Wetteren, the bastard son of Harold III and a commander under Harold the Black Prince during the war with France. After the death of the Black Prince his estates, the Barony of Aalst, were inherited by Count Cnut of Flanders, however Niels had remained an influential lord in the area.

Sweyn and Niels grew increasingly close as Sweyn grew apart from his regents, and appointed him chancellor. Sweyn also befriended Harold III's son Charles, another one of his half brothers, and appointed him Thegn of Fjallborg. Both Charles and Niels served as important advisers to Sweyn, increasingly replacing the advise of Christopher, Jarl of Grantebrú, and instead a plot grew against the king. Christopher allied himself secretly against the king, conspiring with Sigurd Olafsson, Jarl of Gloiuborg and other opponents of the king. Sweyn mismanaged English funds at a time when the nation was still recovering, and was stalled by local lords demanding that resources be used to rebuild and complete local projects. During Sweyn's reign many of southern England's most predominate nobles built castles and other defenses along the southern coast, while refusing to aid the crown in the same capacity. Sweyn was forced to go through a council of lendmenn, established in the aftermath of the First Lendmenn War, in order to levy major taxes, and his ability to pay for his expenses was strained.

Sweyn had his chancellor, the Baron of Wetteren, negotiate with the lendmenn, and at the advise of Christopher, the council demanded that Niels be removed from the position of chancellor. Sweyn refused and was threatened with deposition, forcing him to relieve Niels or face war. After Niels' removal from chancellor, the lendmenn established a commission to review and control royal finances for the next coming year, helping to repair the English economy and finances. Sweyn went on a tour of the kingdom in 1225, during which he appointed several new justices across the realm. Sweyn hoped to receive verdicts from the nation's judicial heads that the lendmenn council's actions had been unjust, and returned to London with sporadic support from across England.

Sweyn was met by Sigurd Olafsson, Jarl of Gloiuborg and Alfred, Thegn of Rafenbrú in London, who accused the Baron of Wetteren, the Archbishop of Jórvík, the mayor of London, and other loyalists close to Sweyn on acts of treason. Sweyn stalled negotiations, awaiting an army from Charles, Thegn of Fjallborg to surround Sigurd and his supporters with loyalist reinforcements. On the road into London Charles was intercepted by Sigurd and Alfred, and in the ensuing battle was defeated. Charles' men were routed and he himself fled the country to Flanders. With no other option available, Sweyn was forced to comply with the nobles' demands, and many of the accused were condemned and executed. Niels managed to flee to the Lowlands, where he retained his seat of power in Wetteren.

In the wake of the unrelenting lendmenn council and its military allies, Sweyn gradually tried to rebuild royal authority. Sweyn was now of age and a confident ruler, and he attempted claimed that the previous years of difficult rule had been the fault of bad chancellors and advisers, not the fault of himself. Sweyn promised to lower the burden of taxation, and focused primarily on relief and recovery in southern England. Upon the death of his wife Maria of Brabant, Sweyn was urged to pursue marital ties with France, in order to ensure peace with the kingdom's historical nemesis, but Sweyn refused. Angered by the interference in his reign by rival nobles and lendmenn, Sweyn drastically changed his domestic policy in 1228. Many of his adversaries were arrested, leading to some calling his reign tyrannical. Sweyn finally felt strong enough and was in a position of power to take revenge on many of his opponents of the last few years, and had the Thegn of Rafenbrú, the Thegn of Arnardalr, and other nobles imprisoned or killed.

In 1228 Sweyn found an opportunity to remove his old regent and uncle, Christopher, Jarl of Grantebrú for good, when he learned of a dispute between the Jarl of Grantebrú and Thorfinn, Greve of Thetford. Sweyn had both of the men exiled when they planned to resort to combat, a controversial move that Sweyn claimed was in the interest of a recovering England. Christopher returned the following year however, and easily retook his position as jarl, just north of the English seat at London. Christopher found that many of the kingdom's nobles were growing increasingly discontent with Sweyn's rule, and led an attack on London itself that year. Christopher convinced his brother, Otto, Jarl of Jórvík, not to interfere, believing that the overthrowing of Sweyn would be in the interest of the realm. At the time of Christopher's march on London, Sweyn and most of his loyal forces were in Gloiuborg, and London fell with little fighting. When Sigurd, Jarl of Gloiuborg learned of this, he had Sweyn imprisoned, and Sweyn promised to abdicate in exchange for his life.

the year they had begun planning a conspiracy to kill the new king and restore Sweyn to the throne. In late December the plot leaders planned to capture Christopher while he was attending a tournament near London. The rebels were primarily led by Einar Rögnvaldsson, Jarl of East Anglia, and before the plot could commence, one of the conspirators, Thorfinn, Greve of Thetford, Christopher's former enemy, betrayed Einar for his own gain, leading to Christopher assembling an army in London.

The conspirators fled and began a rebellion, however they were greatly outnumbered and divided. In East Anglia Christopher led an army into the jarldom and had Einar imprisoned. Einar's son Thorgil would be killed in battle, as would most of Einar's family, and for his aid in ending the conspiracy, Thorfin of Thetford was appointed the new Jarl of East Anglia. Under Thorfinn a crackdown began against the supporters of Einar, and at Wilsbech and Dereham Thorfinn would be victorious. Elsewhere in England Christopher found similar success, and by early 1230 the rebellion had largely collapsed. Christopher was recognized as sole king of England from there on, and many of the remaining rebellious leaders were executed. Additionally Christopher made the controversial decision to have the former king Sweyn executed, fearing his opponents would use Sweyn to depose him.

Sweyn's body was displayed to his supporters to prove he was in fact dead, silencing support against Christopher for the time being. Christopher had his son, Harthacnut, Greve of Sussex, appointed Jarl of Kent, which granted him much of southeast England under his control. In addition Christopher's son-in-law, a Norwegian named Guthrum, was appointed Thegn of Fjallborg following the position's vacancy. Almost immediately Christopher was faced with revolts and various plots, and had the Thegn of Fjallborg serve as his chief military adviser against these rebellions. Christopher temporarily pacified the realm, but his long and sudden periods of illness weakened his rule. In 1239 he died after a relatively short reign, and Harthacnut was declared his father's successor.

Upon his ascension to the throne of England in 1239, Harthacnut made it clear that he would not rule over a divided nation. As such he continued his father's policies against his family's opponents, but with greater leniency. The late king Sweyn IV was re-interred in a honorable ceremony, and some of Sweyn's supporters still active in England were pardoned. Harthacnut's reign in England was largely stable, aside from a rebellion in 1241 by Sigurd, Jarl of Gloiuborg. As the grandson of Sweyn III, and nephew of Harold III, Sigurd had a greater claim to the throne of England than Harthacnut did, and his ascension to the throne was supported by the Estridsens of Mercia.

Sigurd also gained the support of the Jarldom of Jórvík after he had his daughter Sigrid married to Jarl Otto's eldest son, Ulf. The conspirators were betrayed by Thorvald Olafsson, Thegn of Tempsford, who alerted the king to the plot while Sigurd was in Mercia. Harthacnut prepared an army in London and marched north, catching Sigurd and some of his supporters by surprise at Stratford, and Harthacnut quickly besieged the city. Sigurd and his men refused to surrender, believing that Thorgil II, Jarl of Mercia, would aid them. Mercia began its revolt, as did Jórvík, led by Sigurd's brother Ormar in his absence.

Ormar marched south from Jórvík, but made a detour to Torksey, when he learned that Thorvald Olafsson, Thegn of Tempsford, was attending a wedding in the city. Ormar besieged the city entirely, and after a week's siege the city surrendered. Thorvald was executed, as were many of his supporters, including the Thegn of Torksey. The Jarl of the Five Boroughs, Alfvin II, took the attack on the wedding goers within his jarldom as an insult and sign of war, and mobilized the jarldom against the conspirators soon after. Under the command of Alfvin's son, Rolf, Greve of Rutland, the boroughs' army intercepted Ormar en route to Mercia near Nyrvirk, and managed to ambush the northern army. Defeated, Ormar, withdrew north, while Alfvin and Rolf continued south to aid the siege at Stratford. The Mercians under the command of Thorgil II attacked Harthacnut outside the city, but were routed and unable to relieve Sigurd and the defenders within.

Finally, with its supplies diminishing, Stratford fell to the royalist army, and Sigurd was captured. The jarl lived in captivity for the next year, before he died of starvation while in imprisonment. This was possibly orchestrated by Harthacnut, who sought to remove this threat to his power once and for all. In 1242 Harthacnut agreed to white peace with Mercia and Jórvík, although Ormar was forced to compensate the Five Boroughs for its surprise raid on Torksey. Alfvin appointed his second son, Niels, to the position of Thegn in Torksey, and defenses were rebuilt using the tribute from Ormar. Many of the lesser lords responsible for the plot, especially those present in Stratford, were tried and executed by Harthacnut, putting an end to the so called Stratford Rebellion by the middle of 1242.

Harthacnut led a military expedition across the English Channel in 1245, taking advantage of the disorder following the death of Richard I. Richard was succeeded by his son Charles V, and faced numerous revolts, including in Brittany. Alfvin II, Jarl of the Five Boroughs and brother of the former Duke of Brittany, Ranulf, sailed to Brittany in an attempt to reclaim the duchy, and managed to take the city of Brest after a lengthy siege. Harthacnut's own army was slow to assemble, and when he finally arrived in northern Brittany, his campaign ended in defeat. After a failed attempt to take the fortress at St.-Malo, Harthacnut marched south to Lorient and took the city's port. He met up with his fleet and sailed to Bordeaux, prepared to intercept a French invasion into Guyenne.

With his campaign in France falling apart, Harthacnut appointed Gudmund Anker, Thegn of Hastings, as commander of a second English fleet, still stationed in England, with the task of attacking the northern French coast to relieve pressure off the southern front. Instead of aiding Alfvin in Brittany as expected, Gudmund besieged the French Imperial City of Calais, the source of many French raids in the English Channel, and an important and wealthy port city in the Lowlands. The city boasted a considerable port and fortifications, making it a desirable but difficult target. After the financial problems that plagued England in the past, Harthacnut had wisely decided to allow the lendmenn council in London continue to manage the English treasury, and by now his brother-in-law Guthrum, Thegn of Fjallborg was in a position of seniority within the council. Gudmund arranged for additional funding from Guthrum and the council, and used this money to purchase a large number of mercenaries from Flanders and other neighboring counties.

The Flemish mercenaries were to attack Calais by land, while Gudmund laid siege to the city by sea. Gudmund employed a series of catapults, ladders, and other siege equipment and materials in rapid succession, surrounding the city and taking it by surprise. A French army attempted to aid the city's defenders, but the English were protected by a position surrounded by marshland, and the French counterattack was stalled. After a month of constant siege the city's defenders finally surrendered to the English, who spared their lives in the ensuing occupation. The French soldiers outside the city decided to withdraw, burning their defenses as to prevent the English from capturing them. After the war Gudmund would be made the first Greve of Calais for his actions, although by the end of the war his capture of the city had done little to offset the balance of the war.

In Brittany Alfvin II had launched an unsuccessful siege of Vannes, which resulted in his death in battle. In 1247 France and England agreed to a peace treaty, which caused England to lose all land in Brittany, as well as parts of Guyenne. England was also forced to denounce all claims to Brittany, abstaining from invading the possession in the future. England retained the city of Calais and the surrounding area, but other than the city's acquisition the war had ended in failure for the English. That same year, while still in Guyenne with his army, Harthacnut II fell ill and died, leaving behind an under aged son to succeed him.

Ascension of Sweyn VEditEdit

Harthacnut III was succeeded by his son as Sweyn V, only an infant at the time of his ascension to the throne. Sweyn's rule would be surrounded by quarrelsome royal advisers and powerful relatives and other nobles. Immediately one predominate noble to seek the role of protector of the realm was Sweyn's uncle Guthrum, Greve of Suðseax, who was appointed to his role after the death of Christopher I, during which time he was Thegn of Fjallborg and an influential military commander and aid to the king. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Peder Erlandsen, attempted to prevent Guthrum's attempts, and instead called upon Sweyn's cousin Eric II, Jarl of Guyenne, to intervene in England. Eric had already asserted himself as regent over Sweyn's possessions in France, in addition to his capacity as jarl, and acted as a mediator between the archbishop of greve.

Between both factions, Gunnvör, Thegn of Æglesborg arose to become the predominant figure at court, and acted as regent for the next seven years. In 1254 Guthrum succeeded in having Gunnvör of Æglesborg arrested for treason and he was killed while awaiting trial. Guthrum become the sole regent in England, and also the recognized head of a faction seeking continued peace with France and the recovery of the nation. Meanwhile Ulf, Jarl of Jórvík became the head of a faction that advocated for another war with France, and the return of Brittany to English control. Additionally Ulf gained support for the throne himself, as he was Sweyn V's cousin, his father Otto being the brother of Christopher I, Sweyn's grandfather. Ulf criticized the country's court and its weak foreign policy, particularly under the leadership of Guthrum.

Guthrum's regency continued to gain power over the next several years, as it became clear that the king Sweyn was to be an ineffective and weak king. As he grew older Sweyn became to display signs of mental illness, and had few traits of a successful leader. In 1258 a violent revolt broke out in Kent and southern England, led by Barder Holck, Jarl of Kent. Holck had received his title from Gunnvör, Thegn of Æglesborg, who rewarded the nobleman with the jarldom, after it was inherited by Sweyn upon the death of his father Harthacnut. Barder Halck occupied London and the surrounding area, in protest against Guthrum's regency and the government courts' failure to protect the rights of local property owners. Inside London the city's citizen population and Guthrum's own garrison managed to push back the army from Kent, but not before heavy looting and damage to the city. Barder Holck was later arrested and executed, along with many noblemen of the region, something that Guthrum's rivals perceived as tyrannical.

In 1260 Ulf, Jarl of Jórvík marched on London himself, demanding that Guthrum be removed, and that drastic reforms be put in place upon the government. This drastic action was not largely supported by the nobles of London, and Guthrum assembled an allied army of lendmenn and thegns around London to oppose the jarl. Joining Guthrum was Godric, Thegn of Rafenbrú, the son of Alfred, the lendmann who had opposed Sweyn IV several years earlier, as well as Erlend Ellbrecht, Thegn of Fólkesteinn, Sverre of Reinford, Oliver Einhendr of Vikstaðr, and others, who collectively assembled an army outside London. Outnumbered and surrounded by a hostile countryside and city, Ulf was captured and imprisoned until 1262, when he swore to not take up arms again against the king.

Ulf's discontent with Guthrum's administration was present across the kingdom, as royal authority broke down and the nobles of England engaged in their own private feuds and justice. Conflict tore apart well established noble families in many cases, while minor houses across England were elevated by the opportunity to rebel or fill a vacancy. Soldiers were drawn from the English army to serve various lords, mounting raids against rival houses, and rigging courts in their favor. Civil war in England seemed imminent, with the threat of war having been escalated by outbreaks of violence between various families. Corruption in Sweyn's court also grew discontent, as the easily manipulated king allowed those closest to him to excel in power and wealth. Sweyn and his family supporters, nicknamed the House of Grantebrú, for Christopher I's power base north of London, as well as Guthrum and their party's supporters, received numerous lands and estates, at the expense of the kingdom's finances. In contrast, Ulf and his relatives, nicknamed the House of Jórvík, were placed increasingly further away from London and the throne, causing their power outside the north to falter.

In 1262 Sweyn suffered his greatest bout of complete mental collapse to date, failing to recognize his own family members. Sweyn's chancellor, Edvin Daa, died later that year, and with Sweyn unable to appoint a successor, a regency council was created with Ulf of Jórvík as its head. Ulf asserted himself into the capital's politics, taking an increasingly bold role in administration. By 1263 Ulf had Guthrum imprisoned, and had made an official stance against the Grantebrú administration. Ulf helped to improve England's failing financial situation and eliminate corruption, however feuds remained constant across the kingdom, with Ulf supporting various claimants himself. In 1264 Sweyn recovered from his bout of illness, and had Ulf dismissed, on the direction of his mother Margaret of Anjou, the emerging de facto leader of the Grantebrú faction. Margaret had Ulf's reforms largely removed, and built up an alliance of southern lords against the Jarl of Jórvík, seeking to eliminate him from power entirely. Ulf feared an attempt to arrest him once more, and resorted to violence to protect himself, causing England to slip into complete civil war.

War of the AxesEditEdit

Main article: War of the Axes (The Old Boar Suffered)

Sweyn V's PhaseEditEdit

Ulf and his allies, Olaf Severn, Thegn of Scrobbesborg, and Eric Jarmflotnar, Greve of Weorborg, two noblemen appointed by Ulf to significant positions in Gloiuborg, following its inheritance after the jarl Sigurd Olafsson's death in 1243, were called to London to appear before Sweyn and Guthrum's council of supporters. Fearing imprisonment in London, Jórvík and Gloiuborg mobilized for war and were led by all three noblemen against the House of Grantebrú. On march to London supported by an army, Ulf was met at St. Albans by the forces of Grantebrú's council of supporters, led by Guthrum and Einar of Stafford. Both sides engaged in lengthy negotiations, while Guthrum and the Grantebrú forces fortified within the city of St. Albans, and positioning contingents of the royal army along the city's perimeter. Ulf found out that Sweyn was not even involved in the negotiations, and after several hours of failed negotiation, Ulf led his forces into an attack.

Sweyn's army was caught off guard by Ulf's swift attack, but nevertheless anticipated a resolution similar to Ulf's march on London in 1260, believing that Ulf would back down against an assembled army. The initial charge, spearheaded by two frontal assaults against Fritjof, Thegn of Suðrvǫrn and the city's barricades were repulsed, causing heavy Jórvíkist casualties. Severn took command of Ulf's reserve forces, and led an attack through an unguarded section of the city. Severn managed to ambush Guthrum's army, while they rested within the heart of the city, charging against the unprepared army and routing the city's defenders, killing Guthrum in the process. Severn then attacked the garrison surrounding king Sweyn, leading to his capture. The main Grantebrú army realized they had been outflanked, and abandoned their positions manning the city's defenses, leaving Ulf in control of the city.

The battle had left one of the chief leaders of the Grantebrú faction, Guthrum, Greve of Suðseax, dead in battle, alongside Fritjof, Thegn of Suðrvǫrn, and Harold, Thegn of Sandvik. One of the faction's chief military commanders, Einar of Stafford, had also been captured. Most importantly, the battle had resulted in Sweyn's capture for the Jórvíkist cause, after he was discovered abandoned and hiding in a local shop, having sufferedanother bout of mental illness, and the following day Ulf and his allies escorted the king into London, where Ulf was restored to his role as Protector of England. Peace resulted after the Battle of St. Albans, however causes for additional conflict between the House of Grantebrú and the House Jórvík soon arose. In 1265 Sweyn was wed to Gytha of Mercia, in an effort to establish a lasting alliance between Grantebrú and the House of Estridsen. Later that year Gytha died in childbirth, however successfully gave birth to a son named Harold. As Harold grew older, disputes over whether Harold or Ulf should succeed Sweyn V again led to conflict.

Negotiations between Ulf and Margaret, on behalf of their respective factions, resulted in little result, as Margaret was adamantly against any solution that disinherited her grandson. Similarly Margaret and Grantebrian faction was against the military ascendancy of Jórvík and his allies. In 1266 Sweyn again dismissed Ulf from his position in London, and undid many of the jarl's reforms on his mother's request. Sweyn also did little to combat piracy in the English Channel, or the devastating disputes gripping the nation, and became increasingly unpopular after introducing conscription for the first time in English history. At the same time Gudmund Anker, a Jórvíkist ally during the Battle of St. Albans and veteran of the wars with France, became a popular noble in London, after he highhandedly began a campaign to protect English shipping, utilizing his posts as Thegn of Hastings and Greve of Calais.

Part of this campaign led by Gudmund however involved attacks on the neutral Hanseatic League, as well as foreign shipping through the region. For this he was summoned to London, but Gudmund refused when he believed his life was at risk. Further attempts of reconciliation between both factions failed, and Ulf began raising an army in the north, assembled from various allies. Aside from the main army in Jórvík, the second largest Jórvíkist army came from Gloiuborg, and had to be linked up with the main army to the north. Eric Jarmflotnar, Greve of Weorborg was tasked with marching this army through possibly hostile Mercia, and Margaret of Anjou had an army recruited in opposition to intercept this force. The Mercians set up an ambush near Lindborg, composed of about twice as many soldiers as Jarmflotnar's forces. When he came close to the city Jarmflotnar spotted the Grantebrian banners from afar, and instead of fleeing organized his smaller army into formations.

Jarmflotnar was just out of range of the Grantebrian archers, and took the time to arrange his army into a circular formation on his right flank, which protected his army from flanks on the side. Both armies attempted to negotiate in order to avoid bloodshed at first, but when Jarmflotnar refused to surrender battle broke out. Initially the battle was characterized with assaults from both sides' archers, but the separation between each army made ranged attacks ineffective. The vast open distance between both sides meant that if Jarmflotnar launched a frontal charge his forces would be devastated. Instead he had his center flanks fall back, causing the Grantebrians to believe him to be retreating. A charge ensued after the feigning Jórvíkist forces, and when they instead stood their ground, the Grantebrians were devastated. The attack left heavy casualties and the death of the Grantebrian commander, Christopher Estridsen, Greve of Vervik and son of Thorgil II, Jarl of Mercia.

Christopher's second-in-command, a southern Grantebrian named Halle of Croyland, assumed command of the fleeing Grantebrian forces, and led another attack against Jarmflotnar's position. The attack collapsed, with some of Halle's soldiers fighting to the death. The remainder of the Grantebrian arm fled the battlefield, allowing Jarmflotnar to continue his march across Mercia. Despite a victory over a much larger army, Jarmflotnar was still trapped between Lindborg, Stafford, and Djúra-bý, and was immediately combated by additional enemies. Jarmflotnar decided to lay siege to Lindborg, while he awaited the Jarl of Jórvík to come to him. To do so however, Ulf would have to cross through the heavily fortified northern region of Mercia, or march further south through the Five Boroughs. By this time the majority of Grantebrian forces had been mobilized, and Thorgil II of Mercia himself led an army north to cut off Ulf from the army in the west.

At the Battle of Rotherheim the Mercians finally cornered the army of Jórvík, forcing them into combat. Ulf formed a defensive line north of the city, and awaited Mercian attack. After the engagement with Jarmflotnar, the Mercians did not hesitate to initiate combat, with Thorgil leading a charge against Ulf's line. The attack ended with heavy casualties for both sides, before Thorgil withdrew. Ulf's army dug itself into a defensive position, surrounded by barricades, forcing the Mercians to come to them. Thorgil again did not hesitate, and subsequent charges were launched against the Jórvíkist position. Ulf's men initially held the line, but exhausted and sustaining heavy casualties, the army of Jórvík withdrew from the battlefield. The Mercians had successfully halted Ulf's advance, but had lost significantly more soldiers in the engagement, halting themselves from retaliating en masse.

At Lindborg a Grantebrian attack led by Einar of Stafford and Niels of Djúra-bý on the besieging army resulted in Jarmlotnar's decisive defeat, forcing the Jórvíkist army to retreat into Gloiuborg with the Grantebrian army in pursuit. Ulf launched another offensive into Mercia, meeting Thorgil at the Battle of Karlakr. To Ulf's surprise, the royal standard was flown in Thorgil's camp, as Sweyn V in full battle armor, leading a royal army from the south, was present on the battlefield. This caused morale to drop in the Jórvíkist army, when it became apparent that they were not fighting the king's poor advisers, but the king himself. The outnumbered and demoralized Jórvíkist army was swiftly defeated, and Ulf and his allies fled into exile. The remaining army surrendered to Sweyn and was pardoned, ending Ulf's hope of taking London.

After the battle the Grantebrian army returned south, meeting in Coventry at the request of Margaret of Anjou, where a meeting was held with England's noblemen. The Jarl of Jórvík and other predominant Jórvíkist leaders were convicted of treason, forcing them to remain in exile. Ulf's son Olaf, Greve of Dun Holm, and Eric Jarmflotnar, Greve of Weorborg, both fled to Calais, held by Gudmund Anker, Thegn of Hastings. Eirik, Greve of Suðseax, the eldest son of the late Grantebrian leader Guthrum, was appointed Captain of Calais, replacing Gudmund, however the Jórvíkist navy at Calais prevented Eirik from seizing his newly acquired city. Gudmund even began an extensive raiding campaign in southern England, causing havoc on the English coast. In the summer of 1270 Dun Holm, Weorborg, and Gudmund Anker led an invasion of southern England from their stronghold at Calais, rapidly establishing control over Kent and London. Christopher Haroldsson, brother of Eric, Duke of Guyenne, joined the Jórvíkist army at Kent, in exchange for the jarldom to be granted to him, as he had a vague claim to the jarldom through his cousin Harthacnut III of England.

The incumbent Jarl of Kent, a Grantebrian puppet named Olaf Juul, who had been appointed jarl by Guthrum after the unsuccessful revolt of Barder Holck, was quickly overwhelmed by the Jórvíkist invaders, and called upon the king for assistance. In the meantime Gudmund and the Jórvíkists received papal support, and marched toward north from the capital. The Jórvíkists encountered Sweyn V at Bedford, while his mother Margaret was busy attempting to raise an army in Mercia. Led by leading Grantebrian commander Einar of Stafford and Ralph Blár, Greve of Petersborg, and spouse of Guthrum's daughter Margaret, the Grantebrians prepared to defend against Gudmund's attack. The Grantebrians held a highly defensible position, complete with ditches and topped with stakes, as well as numerical advantage to the invaders. At a tacitcal disadvantage, Gudmund requested an audience with the king to negotiate peace, to which Einar replied that Gudmund shall not be in the king's presence, and would be dead if he tried.

Nevertheless Gudmund began the attack, hindered only by a strong rain blowing against them. The Jórvíkist army was bombarded with arrows, but luckily the storm had weakened the defenders' visibility, and prevented greater mobility on the defenders' line. The Jórvíkists outflanked the Grantebrians on their left flank, where intense fighting ensued. Finally the entire left flank routed, allowing Gudmund clear access behind the defending line. Additionally the noble Sten Grástr, a leading noble in the Grantebrian army, secretly arranged with Gudmund to abandon Einar and desert to the Jórvíkist cause, in exchange for support in Grástr's favor in a property dispute, and other favors. The Jórvíkists spared any man marked with Grástr's marks, and surrounded the remaining loyal Grantebrians, now trapped within their inner defenses. Einar of Stafford would be killed in the ensuing battle, attempting to defend Sweyn from the encroaching attackers. Gudmund escorted the king back to London, where Ulf of Jórvík had landed from his exile.

In London Ulf declared his intention to be crowned king, much to the surprise of local nobles and allies alike. When a majority of local lendmenn voted against this proposition, a compromise was signed instead, making Ulf the official heir to Sweyn's throne. In the meantime Ulf was restored to his position of protector of the realm, essentially making him acting king in the meantime. Spearheaded by Margaret of Anjou, the majority of Mercia, Grantebrú, and the Five Boroughs continued to oppose the Jórvíkists. Ulf mobilized against this threat, while Margaret and Sweyn V's son Harold sailed to Scotland to arrange for foreign support. In East Anglia the Grantebrian ally, Snorri Thorfinsson, Jarl of East Anglia, whose father Thorfinn had seized the jarldom for the House of Thetford by betraying the previous jarl Einar Rögnvaldsson to Christopher I, was prepared to march against the crown. While crossing through Essex the jarl was ambushed by his vassal Sigtrygg, Greve of Colborg, who had secretly remained loyal to Ulf. Sigtrygg's devastating ambush left the East Anglian army in turmoil, resulting in the death of Snorri and many other nobles.

Sigtrygg's attack in Essex had spared Ulf enough time to reorganize his forces in the south, before launching an invasion of the north. At the Battle of Reinford an army from Grantebrú would be decisively defeated, resulting in the death of Grantebrian commander Sverre of Reinford. This success was not universally felt however, as around the same time Thorgil of Mercia laid siege to Wallingford and seized the city, killing Olaf Severn, Thegn of Scrobbesborg in the process. In East Anglia Snorri's nephew, Alvar Brandsson, assumed control over Thetford and the jarldom, although the majority of the jarldom had deserted to Colborg's claim, and that of the king. Sigtrygg of Colborg had successfully rallied the armies of Essex, and while Alvar remained in Thetford, led the siege of Tempsford alongside royal forces.

In Scotland Margaret of Anjou had negotiated for complete Scottish support, in exchange for the eventual secession of northern England. Margaret's son Harold was betrothed to a daughter of the Scottish king as well. With no funds to pay the Scottish army upfront, Margaret commanded her forces to loot as they advanced, causing devastation in northern Jórvík. The High Reeve of Bamburgh, Eadwulf IV, had pledged himself to the Grantebrian cause, remaining a strong ally in the north. With the Scottish army aiding him, Eadwulf invaded Cumberland, seizing Carlisle after a long siege. This northern army marched into Jórvík, threatening the city itself. Ulf desperately marched north to defend Jórvík, and laid siege to Northampton for the next month en route. Ulf left the remainder of Grantebrú to its own devices, and was forced to abandon Gloiuborg, which was now being partially overrun by Mercian forces. The last remaining obstacle to the north was the Jarldom of the Five Boroughs, ruled by Rolf Alfvinsson, a distantly related Hereford and partially declared Grantebrian.

Rolf Alfvinsson was the son of Alfvin II, who had died while asserting his family's claim to the Duchy of Brittany. Alfvin had also fought with Ormar of Gloiuborg, and indirectly the Jarl of Jórvík, after Ormar's attack on Torksey during the reign of Harthacnut III. Ulf met with the jarl and negotiated peace, promising Ulf's first son Olaf to Rolf's daughter, and Ulf was permitted to march through the territory unopposed. Nevertheless Ulf arrived too late, and at the Battle of Harrogate met the small Jórvíkist garrison, commanded by Olaf, Greve of Dun Holm, acting jarl for his father. Olaf had initiated command when he sent out numerous skirmishes against the Grantebrians, before finally engaging full out near the city. Half the Grantebrian army, commanded by Eirik, Greve of Suðseax, advanced openly against Olaf's position, while the remainder, under the command of Ralph Blár, Greve of Petersborg, concealed their forces in the nearby woods.

Olaf was running short of provisions, and chose to attack when he saw the seemingly small army, under Eirik. Olaf was drawn into combat by Eirik, who periodically withdrew, allowing the Jórvíkists to be surrounded by Blár's contingent. The full Grantebrian army moved onto the battlefield, and Olaf was overwhelmed. The majority of the Jórvíkist army was slain, including Olaf, whose head was displayed on a pike. Ulf marched toward Jórvík, winning numerous minor skirmishes against elements of Eirik's army. Ulf came to find the Grantebrians laying siege to Jórvík, and managed to repulse the attackers. Eirik led the Grantebrian army into Mercia, and Ulf returned south, carrying the news of Olaf's death to the Five Boroughs.

Ulf rested at Lincoln, where he arranged for a revision of his earlier deal with Alfvin, involving his second son Cnut. It was during this meeting that Alfvin betrayed Ulf, trapping him inside the city. In the so called 'New Years Day Massacre', Ulf, his second son Cnut, Egil Eysteinsson, Thegn of Vargeisl, Halfdan Voss, Thegn of Engfólksheim, and numerous other Jórvíkist nobles were slain, and their armies, camped outside the city, were assaulted. The brutal assassination of many of the Jórvíkist leaders caused a complete reversal of their luck in the north, where the Scottish army reigned supreme. The head of a wolf was mounted on Ulf's body, and it was paraded through the streets, while Ulf and the other slain leaders' their heads were displaced on pikes at the gates of Jórvík. Ulf's heir was now his third and youngest son, Harold, who also had a claim to the throne based on the earlier treaty between Ulf and Sweyn V.

At the time of his father's assassination Harold was in Gloiuborg, where the Mercians had advanced steadily into Jórvíkist territory. At the Battle of Mortimer's Cross, Harold took control of the Jórvíkist army and marched against Thorgil II of Mercia. Archers were placed at nearby crossroads, stalling the Grantebrian advance. Numerous Grantebrian advances were launched against Harold, first by Thorgil in an attempted encirclement of the Jórvíkist left flank, which ended in defeat. Decisively defeated, the Mercians retreated as far as Hereford. Harold pursued and liberated his house's city, capturing and executing Thorgil. The defeat of Thorgil was a decisive blow to Mercian involvement, as the death of his son Einar decades earlier had left the jarldom's succession unclear.

Thorgil's nephew Christopher claimed the throne, supported by the Jórvíkists, while Margaret supported the more friendly Abel, a more distant cousin of Thorgil with a weaker claim. The Scottish Grantebrian army marched into Mercia and established a temporary court in Mansborg, while Christopher won the support of the south. Having liberated Gloiuborg, Harold offered his military support in Mercia, and marched alongside Christopher to meet the Grantebrians at Lindborg. Abel immediately charged against Harold's line, but was then promptly flanked by the previously idle army under Christopher. A portion of Abel's forces proceeded to desert, defecting to Christopher over the foreign Scottish, and Abel was beaten back. Additionally the Grantebrian leader and conspirator in the New Years Day Massacre, Niels of Djúra-bý was slain.

During this time leaders such as Gudmund Anker and Eric Jarmflotnar had kept up the Jórvíkist cause in the south, consolidating control over acquisitions made by Ulf on his march north. A portion of Margaret's original Scottish army, plus a Borough army under Erlend Alfvinsson of Stamford and Frey Rolfsson marched from the Five Boroughs against London. During this time Sigtrygg of Colborg had managed to seize the Grantebrian capital of Grantebrú itself, now recognized as Jarl of East Anglia. The Grantebrians diverted from their predetermined route against London to siege the city Grantebrú, where they met both the Jórvíkist defenders. Outnumbered Colborg held his ground, while the Grantebrians attacked the city shortly after dawn. Jórvíkist archers positioned around the city weakened the attackers as they entered the city, repulsing the initial attack.

The attackers found an alternative way into the city, managing to flank Colborg's archers. A brutal fight from house to house ensued between the opposing armies, lasting several hours. With the city back in Grantebrian hands, the attackers marched on Colborg's remaining army, now positioned in a line near the city. An attempt to re-inforce the defenders of the city failed, and the Grantebirans pursued the defenders back to their formation. The Jórvíkists held the line for the next several hours, but with his men now heavily outnumbered and demoralized, Colborg ordered a withdrawal from the city back into East Anglia.

The Grantebrian army followed up its victory by marching on London itself. Gudmund and other Jórvíkist leaders quickly transferred their forces to the north of the city, to prepare for a major battle, but found themselves outflanked by a second Mercian army approaching from the west. Eventually the Jórvíkists withdrew, and the Grantebrians moved on the city. The attackers also found Sweyn V unhurt near the city, and captured the king once more. The people of London however barricaded the Grantebrians out, believing that the marauding Scottish army would loot the city, like it had much of the surrounding area.

The majority of the Grantebrian army garrisoned at Dunstable, while raiding the areas around London. Meanwhile Gudmund led the surviving Jórvíkists west, where they met up with Harold Ulfsson, advancing east from Gloiuborg. Harold entered London unopposed, welcomed by the people of London. With public opinion heavily in favor of the Jórvíkists, Harold was unofficially crowned king in Vestmystur, vowing to not have a formal coronation until Sweyn V had been dealt with. The Grantebrians marched to Coventry, and began amassing a large army from among the many neighboring loyal cities. The largest force assembled thus far in the war, forcing Harold to respond with force.

Harold gave amnesty to any Grantebrian supporter who renounced his support for Sweyn, although this was rarely true for major nobles. When Jórvíkist forces finally did move toward the city, they were intercepted by Abel Estridsen, the Grantebrian claimant to the throne of Mercia. Abel managed to repulse the initial Jórvíkist attack, led by Haakon Hálmrstein of Rovesborg, and Harold arrived with the majority of Jórvíkist forces. Harold forced his way through Abel's line, killing Abel and the majority of his army. By this time however Margaret and the majority of the Grantebrian army had returned north, en route to Jórvík and Scotland, where they had greater support.

The death of Abel gained Mercia's undivided support for the Jórvíkist cause, and Mercians fought in sieges at Repton and Djúra-bý against Frey Rolfsson, Greve of Rutland. Jarl Rolf of the Five Boroughs withdrew the majority of his jarldom's army north toward Jórvík, to which Harold pursued. At the Battle of Vaktafr, near London, the two armies met, leading to a decisive battle for the throne of England. At the forefront was Harold, joined by Eric Jarmfltonar, Greve of Weorborg, Gudmund Anker, Captain of Calais, Christopher Haroldsson, Jarl of Kent, Christopher Ericsson, Jarl of Mercia, and numerous other nobles. While on the Grantebrian side, Sweyn V was not on the battlefield, instead being kept by his mother Margaret in Jórvík. This made Sweyn look like even more of a puppet for his mother, compared to the inspiring young Harold, who stood taller than most men, and was skilled in combat. On the Jórvíkist side the veteran commanders were also joined by other notable nobles, such as Sigtrygg of Colborg, who joined up with the Jórvíkist army in the Five Boroughs. When Colborg's loyalty was questioned he allegedly slew his horse, daring any man to do the same and still fight on the front line.

With Sweyn V absent from the battlefield, the leading commander of the Grantebrian army was Eirik Guthrumsson, Greve of Suðseax. Other nobles included Rolf, Jarl of the Five Boroughs, his son Frey, Greve of Rutland, Eirik's brother Thorgil, Thegn of Fjallborg, Ralph Blár, Greve of Petersborg, and numerous others. Eirik was a formidable commander, having defeated Harold's late brother Olaf in combat earlier in the war, and having spearheaded the war in the north for some time. Eirik positioned his vast army south of Vaktafr, facing a largely open field before him, which stretched around the topographic bend near the city. The Grantebrian army was deployed along a protective ditch, using the valley to their advantage. This deployment however prevented Eirik's forces from having clear visibility past the southern ridge. On either flank marshland protected the Grantebrians, however this limited Eirik from using his numerical advantage to greater affect.

Additionally Eirik ordered a large contingent of mounted spearmen to hide in a nearby forest, ready to charge against any approaching Jórvíkist army. When Harold arrived the Jórvíkist army was deplpyed on the southern ridge in ranks opposite to Eirik. Snow began to fall, while sections of Harold's army were still arriving. Eirik held his ground and let the Jórvíkist army come to him. With the wind favorably strong for the Jórvíkists, Gudmund ordered a volley of arrows be unleashed upon the Grantebrians, who were just out of range to retaliate. The heavy wind blew snow into the defenders' faces, and they were unable to fire any return shots. The attempted counterattack left a wall of arrows in the ground just north of the Jórvíkist position. The Jórvíkist archers moved up once the Grantebrians had exhausted all their ammunition, firing another successful volley, and using the used arrows in the ground as additional ammunition.

Taking heavy casualties from the ranged attacks, Eirik ordered his army to move forward and engage. The Jórvíkist archers shot a few more volleys before retreating behind the bulk of the Jórvíkist army, their escape aided by the thousands of arrows and debris in the ground blocking the Grantebrian path. The Jórvíkist line formed up to face the approaching infantry, when suddenly the concealed horsemen charged from the west and crashed into the Jórvíkist left flank. Harold himself rode into combat, rallying the left flank from routing. From short range the Jórvíkist archers weakened the cavalry charge, and in close combat the cavalry fought fiercely with Harold's men.

At the same time the repeated charges of numerically superior infantry in the center eventually pushed the Jórvíkist line farther back, regrouping up the southern ridge. The battle raged on for several more hours, largely indecisive at this point. It was the arrival of Colborg's men and his East Anglian re-inforcements that tipped the scale of the battle, as Colborg's fresh soldiers were able to outflank the engaged Grantebrian army to devastating effects. The Grantebrian line finally broke up, and its remaining forces retreated. They flung off their armor to run faster, and without protection were cut down by the charging Jórvíkist army. No soldiers were spared, and all those caught in the fields between the two camps were slain by Harold's men. The battle had resulted in a decisive victory for the Jórvíkists, resulting in the near annihilation of much of the Grantebrian army. After the battle many nobles defected to Harold's side, while Sweyn, Margaret, and the young Harold Swyensson fled north out of Jórvík. The city of Jórvík was liberated, and Harold had the heads of his father and comrades replaced with the heads of Rolf, Jarl of the Five Boroughs, who was slain in the battle.

Harold IV's PhaseEditEdit

Harold was crowned king in London in the summer of 1271, to much welcome from his supporters in the city. The Grantebrian cause was largely in ruin, with the last remaining strongholds in the north falling into Jórvíkist hands by 1274. Margaret and Sweyn V had fled to Scotland once more, where they launched periodic raids into England. At the Battle of Carlisle the Jórvíkists decisively defeated Margaret's Scottish born army, and lacking funds the Grantebrian campaign was halted. Sieges of major Grantebrian strongholds ensued, including at Bamburgh and Lincoln. After the death of his father Rolf, Frey, Greve of Rutland became Jarl of the Five Boroughs, but his inability to defend Lincoln led to his capture and execution. Instead Frey's uncle Niels, Greve of Torksey, was crowned jarl, after his defection to the Jórvíkists against his nephew.

In East Anglia Sigtrygg of Colborg reestablished control over the jarldom, forcing Alvar Brandsson of Thetford into exile. In Grantebrú the nobles of the jarldom vowed for peace with Harold, and elected Ralph Blár, Greve of Petersborg, essentially the highest remaining Grantebrian in the jarldom, as jarl. Ralph reconciled with Harold and was recognized by the king, bringing peace to the region. In 1274 however Grantebrian revolts broke out in the north of England, led by Eirik Guthrumsson, Greve of Suðseax. The Grantebrians were relying on the nobles of Wales and the Five Boroughs to support them, while continued courting with the King of Scotland ensured Scottish support to some degree. A meeting was to be held at Jórvík to discuss peace with Scotland, removing the threat of northern invasion, however by that time Grantebrian activity in the north had broken out. Unable to safely travel to Jórvík, the Jórvíkists were prepared to escort the Scottish delegation, led by Gudmund Anker's brother, Brynjarr, Greve of Bedford, and Thorvald, Thegn of Skardaborg.

Eirik and his allies ambushed the Jórvíkist army near Gatehead, exchanging archer bombardments and light skirmishes. The Grantebrian left flank, encompassing more than a third of the overall army at Eirik's disposal, faltered and broke, leaving the Grantebrians heavily outnumbered. The Jórvíkists charged the outnumbered Grantebrian line, and pushed them back, causing a general retreat. The Jórvíkist army continued on to Scotland, where they met the Scottish diplomats. Eirik continued to organize opposition, believing that he had to win a decisive victory in the north before Harold could arrive with greater reinforcements from the south. At Hagustaldheim the Grantebrians prepared another attack. When the Jórvíkists crossed over the Tinamuðá they were in a position to attack Hagustaldheim, leaving the Grantebrians unprepared. Eirik quickly marched his army to the front and arranged this force into three armies, hoping to cut off the Jórvíkists from the city.

The Jórvíkists charged into combat as the Grantebrians assembled, overwhelming the Grantebrian right flank. With the loss of the flank the rest of Eirik's army was in disorder, unable to maneuver amidst the Jórvíkist line. Grantebrian morale dropped, and Eirik's army was pushed into the river. Attempting to climb the riverbanks and escape into Hagustaldheim, his men either drowned in the river or were picked off by Jórvíkist infantry. Brynjarr ordered Eirik to be executed, and killed many other leading Grantebrians with little remorse. Continuing on to Jórvík, Brynjarr's army escorted the Scottish delegation without further incident, while any remaining Grantebrian supporters fled into the Five Boroughs or Cumberland.

The Jórvíkists laid siege to Hvitstaður, one of the last Grantebrian strongholds in the north, leading to the fall of Copeland. Sweyn V was captured in the city and brought to London, where he was held prisoner. In Jórvík peace was arranged between England and Scotland, and Margaret of Anjou fled with her son Harold to France. Up to this point the costly war had left several nobles across England dead, and Harold was quick to reward his allies with titles under his new reign. Gudmund Anker was granted the title of Greve of Suðseax after the death of Eirik Guthrumsson at Hagustaldheim, in addition to his position as Greve of Suthringa granted after Harold's coronation as king. Additionally Eric Jarmflotnar, Greve of Weorborg, was granted the Jarldom of Gloiuborg.

As one of the main powers at court, Gudmund arranged for Harold to marry a French princess, but he instead married the daughter of a Grantebrian knight, Ylve Neergaard, much to Gudmund's annoyance and embarrassment. The Neergaard family was granted increasing amounts of power in the government and across England, angering Gudmund, whose own attempts to marry his daughters to Harold's brothers and other relatives were repeatedly denied. In France Margaret of Anjou married the elderly Eric II, Duke of Guyenne, forming an unlikely alliance with the Hereford duke and the Grantebrians. Margaret's return to the Kingdom of England in Guyenne reached Harold, who demanded her immediate return to England for trial. Eric refused to comply, and Harold began to fear a possible invasion from the mainland. In 1279 Harold sailed to Guyenne to remove Eric and Margaret by force, but found that Eric had established a series of alliances with neighboring French powers, making military campaign difficult.

Eric II rose up in revolt, and on Margaret's advice nominally swore fealty to Charles VI, King of France, bringing the French Plantagenets into the conflict as well. The majority of the English army, commanded by Harold, landed in Saintonge near Royan, and marched south along the coast, raiding as they went. At the same time a smaller force under the command of Sigurd Beck, Greve of Vættir attacked the French ally of La Rochelle, laying siege to the city. Beck landed his men on shore and had them construct a series of encampments and barricades, completely surrounding the city. The French arrived at the city with an army numbering several times greater than Beck's, but were repeatedly forced back by the English defenses, creating a siege around the English camp. Brutal fighting ensued around the city with neither side gaining the advantage.

Finally Harold abandoned his march south and marched north to aid the besiegers at La Rochelle, but was intercepted by the main French army at the Battle of Saintes. Harold was decisively defeated, although this distraction did draw away French forces from La Rochelle, allowing the siege to continue. By this time Harold had solidified an alliance with Burgundy, who entered the war on the side of the English. Similarly Gudmund Anker began a campaign in the Lowlands, alongside the Duke of Brabant, the Count of Flanders, and the Duke of Luxembourg, whose daughter Isabelle was married to Gudmund's son Einar. Despite initial setbacks in mobilizing the Lowland armies, Gudmund successfully repulsed a French siege of Calais with English and Flemish aid.

Charles' son Louis, Duke of Normandy, was appointed head of the French forces in the north, and quickly marched against Gudmund. The French army regrouped in Artois, meeting Gudmund near Saint-Pol, outnumbering the English by three times. The English did not attack directly, as the city had been heavily fortified by the French. Instead Gudmund ordered a series of raids of the nearby countryside, and prepared for a siege while awaiting reinforcements. Hoping to defeat the English before their reinforcements from further north could arrive, which would put the two armies on essentially equal footing, Louis vacated the city of Saint-Pol and lined his men up outside the city. The French archers were positioned in the center, along with a small contingent of Norman men. The majority of the French army consisted of local soldiers from the Lowlands, primarily Artois, Hainaut, Vermandois, Eu, Ponthieu, d'Amiens, and Beauvais, who made up the French left and right flanks.

Aware of Louis' numerical advantage, the English waited to engage, however an unprovoked attack by French knights despite Louis' commands to halt drew the English into combat. The English defeated the French cavalry charge and moved on to the city's barricades, but were repulsed. The French infantry charged after the fleeing English into the open terrain, causing the English to halt their retreat and face the French. The ensuing melee lasted into the afternoon, with neither side gaining a decisive advantage. Finally the English launched their own cavalry charge against the exhausted and exposed left and right French flanks. The left flank shattered and the English army rushed into the gap, routing the disorganized French reserve. The English had now outflanked the French defensive line, and raided their camp.

On the right flank the French surrounded the English cavalry charge with ease, unaware of the threat in their rear. With the majority of their forces engaged the main English army surrounded them, marching into the city of Saint-Pol and cutting off the remaining French forces. Louis eventually broke off his attack against the English cavalry and retreated, leaving behind heavy casualties. With the French army temporarily repulsed, Gudmund organized the English army and their allies, and laid siege to Tournai. English reinforcements under the command of Gunnar Voss, Greve of Engfólksheim took the city of Eu, after John I of Brienne's surrender two weeks after the English landing.

In Aquitaine the English were initially less successful, abandoning La Rochelle after a two month siege to break into the city. Sigurd Beck moved on to Benon, where he achieved a minor victory against the Count of Aunis. Charles IV defeated Harold IV again at Angoulême, forcing Harold to retreat to the coast. Bernard Ezi III, Lord of Albret defected from Eric II and supported Harold, in exchange for Bernard being named Duke of Guyenne instead of Eric. Additionally the Burgundians had achieved several victories in the east, drawing French forces away from Guyenne. Harold achieved his first major victory at Bordeaux, where he defeated Eric and forced him to flee to Marmande. This victory was followed up at Bazas, where the English defeated Eric's son Svein. The Lord of Albret was killed in the battle however, and was succeeded by his nephew Amanieu VIII, Viscount of Soule.

With Harold and the majority of the English army absent from England, disputes and conflicts broke out once more across England. Additionally the prospect of a Grantebrian claimant to the throne caused Grantebrian revolts to break out across England. The main Grantebrian leader in England, Ralph Blár, Jarl of Grantebrú, began conspiring to march on London, and aided in the overthrow of many of Harold's allies in the meantime. Eric Jarmflotnar, Jarl of Gloiuborg, was appointed Harold's regent during his absence, and assembled an army in London from the Jórvíkist nobles promoted around the city. At the Battle of Vikstaðr Blár ambushed the Jórvíkists en route to London, and won a decisive victory. Jarmflotnar himself was killed, leaving the country in anarchy.

Harold quickly sailed back to England, signing a temporary truce with Eric, which recognized the duchy's defection to the Plantagenets. Despite the English withdrawal, however, war continued to some degree between Eric and the English allies, led primarily by Amanieu VIII. Amanieu allied with the Count of Foix, defeating Eric at Aiguillon. Eric appealed to Charles IV, who provided Eric with an army under the command of his son Charles, Count of Maine. The majority of French forces however was concentrated in Burgundy and the Lowlands, where Charles himself marched. In early 1280 a treaty was arranged between England and France, which formally recognized the loss of Guyenne, but also England's acquisition of various Lowland territories, which were largely united under Gudmund Anker.

That year Gudmund's daughter Matilda was wed to Eric II's son Svein, presumably to create a lasting peace. Harold was unaware of this union, and the marriage was conducted in Calais. Gudmund abandoned any hopes of appeasing Harold, as the king's dismissal of him over the course of the last few years forced his hand, and Gudmund secretly began supporting Ralph Blár. Gudmund also possessed a heir to the throne of England, separate from the Grantebrians, through his new son-in-law Svein, the great-great-grandson of Sweyn III, through his second son Eric I, Duke of Guyenne. Gudmund's defection brought the Lowlands and much of southeast England on the Grantebrian side, and his forces quickly assembled to intercept Harold's landing. After returning to London, Harold marched south into Gudmund's territory to put down the revolt, and garrisoned at Hestrheim. Gudmund and Ralph Blár surrounded the king's forces and decisively defeated the royal army, capturing Harold IV in the process.

The Grantebrians marched into London and imprisoned Harold there, while in the meantime Gudmund began negotiating with Eric II of Guyenne and the Lord of Albret. Eric II had managed to turn around his luck after the withdrawal of the English, retaking Bordeaux a few months later. By the end of the summer of 1280 Eric again held the upper hand, and a truce was arranged with Amanieu VIII. Two months later Eric II died, and his son Svein became Duke of Guyenne, creating a temporary setback in Gudmund's plans. At the suggestion of Charles IV of France, Gudmund made an unlikely alliance with his former enemy Margaret of Anjou, and married his daughter Erica to Harold, son of Sweyn V. All parties involved held completely different motives for the alliance, but in any case the union convinced Svein of Gudmund's loyalty, and in late 1280 accepted an invitation to bring an army to England, where he pressed his claim to the throne.

Harold escaped London and fled north, while in London, Sweyn V was released from prison and restored to the throne. Although Svein desired the throne for himself, the nobles of London were less hesitant to accept his son-in-law in his place, while Svein became regent for the king. Harold regrouped his forces in Jórvík. However, the sudden defection of Gudmund's brother Eystein caused much of the north to join the revolt. Outnumbered and surrounded, Harold fled the country to Albret, and was marked as a traitor by Gudmund's new government. A renewed offensive broke out in Guyenne with Harold now present, resulting in Albret's capture of Marmande and Nérac. By this time Charles IV was planning a military campaign in the Balkans, and accepted Amanieu VIII's offers of fealty, essentially recognizing Harold's claimant as legitimate. Svein sailed from England, leaving Gudmund as regent over his son-in-law, and landed in Bordeaux.

Svein marched south toward Langon, meeting Harold and Amanieu in battle. In the ensuing battle Svein was ambushed from the south and east, and was after heavy fighting pushed into the city itself. Many of Svein's men were cut off from the main army and forced into the river, where many drowned. The city was surrounded, and fell after a heavily destructive battle on the city streets. Svein was killed in the battle, leaving Amanieu VIII as Duke of Guyenne. Svein's next of kin, his brother Christopher, Jarl of Kent, was left with the most immediate claim to the Duchy of Guyenne in House Hereford, however the war in England left him hard pressed to spare such a voyage. Similarly Sweyn V was able to press his claim, as both de jure liege of Guyenne and as Svein's brother-in-law, as resistance from the Jórvíkists broke out across the kingdom.

Gudmund now had complete control over the throne as regent, and Margaret had successfully confirmed her grandson Harold as heir to the throne. A crucial mistake came when Gudmund attempted to repay France by vowing to combat Harold's former ally Burgundy. Fearing war against both England and France, Burgundy supplied Harold with soldiers to retake his throne, and in 1281 he sailed for England once more. Harold landed in Hrafnsporna on the Jórvík coast, armed with a large, loyal army. Initially Harold claimed to only wish to reclaim the Jarldom of Jórvík from Gudmund's brother Eystein, who he appointed as jarl. Eystein was chased out of Jórvík, and Harold began amassing an army from across England to challenge Gudmund. Additionally Christopher of Kent defected to the Jórvíkists, realizing that Gudmund has tricked his brother in the first place, and that Gudmund's promises of promoting Christopher to the throne were eroded after the emergence of Margaret of Anjou once more. Of the nobles who joined Harold there was Sten Grástr, who had been made Greve of Dun Helm by Harold in 1264, Sigtrygg Colborg, Jarl of East Anglia, and Christopher Estridsen, Jarl of Mercia, who made up the Jórvíkist commanders.

The Grantebrians were represented by Gudmund Anker and Niels Alfvinsson, Jarl of the Five Boroughs, as well as numerous other Grantebrian noblemen. Niels Alfvinsson was the son of Alfvin II, who had died during an unsuccessful attempt to take back the Duchy of Brittany. Niels was also the brother of Rolf, who had famously orchestrated the News Years Day Massacre against Ulf, Jarl of Jórvík earlier in the war. Although Niels had been pardoned and appointed Jarl of the Five Boroughs by Harold, the deaths of his family had made Niels strongly against the Jórvíkists. Another predominant Grantebrian noble at the battle was Thorgil, Thegn of Fjallborg. Thorgil was the brother of Eirik, Greve of Suðseax, and the son of famous Grantebrian leader Guthrum. One of Margaret's most trusted men, Thorgil had remained a Grantebrian supporter throughout the reign of Harold IV, although had remained quiet against royal authority. Although Thorgil was a strong enemy of Gudmund Anker, he had obeyed Margaret of Anjou against his best judgment to aid him in restoring Grantebrian power.

Harold's march toward Jórvík had gone unopposed, gaining additional forces as he marched, and the guise of only restoring himself to the throne of Jórvík convinced the Grantebrian garrison not to march against him, despite the wishes of Eystein or his allies. Once a significant force had been raised by Harold, he dropped his ruse and marched toward London itself, ready to restore himself to the throne. Harold moved against Gudmund at Coventry, who held off on an attack despite superior numbers, awaiting reinforcements to truly overwhelm Harold. Gudmund's hesitation allowed Harold to contact the nobles of Gloiuborg, who defected to join him. Gudmund abandoned the siege of Coventry and marched on London, and Gudmund followed. London, placed in the command of Thorgil, Thegn of Fjallborg, was instructed to close the gates of the city, forcing Harold to engage Gudmund in the open.

Thorgil had been pulled out of the city by Christopher of Kent, who now threatened the city of London from the east. When Harold arrived at London the city accepted him as king over Sweyn, who greeted Harold warmly and surrendered himself to him. The Grantebrians arrived outside the city, near Barrann, slightly outnumbering Harold's army. Harold left a large reserve in the city itself, and that night had the rest of his men march toward the Grantebrians in complete silence. Neither side spotted each other in the night, allowing the Jórvíkists to creep closer to the Grantebrian line. Gudmund's ranged attacks greatly overshot, as he was unaware of the Jórvíkist advance. Convinced that the Grantebrian low morale would be ameliorated by fighting on foot the following day, as mounted nobles were able to flee easily, Gudmund abandoned his horse.

The following morning Harold had his men surprise the Grantebrians before they could prepare. The nightly maneuvers and the morning's thick fog made attacks uncoordinated, and by early morning both armies were slightly offset of each other. This allowed the right side of either army to more easily flank the other, and the Grantebrians quickly took advantage of this exploit, with Niels Alfvinsson leading an attack against the Jórvíkists' flank. Harold's flank fled toward Barrann, leaving Niels' men to split off and loot the Jórvíkist camp. The rest of the battlefield was unaware of Niels' victory, and did little to affect either side's morale. In the center fighting remained even matched and brutally devastating, however Harold soon took advantage of a similar exploit on the Grantebrian left flank, allowing him to outflank the Grantebrian line. A slight slope hindered the Jórvíkists, however they eventually cut through the enemy line. Gudmund quickly ordered his lines to shift position, responding to this new threat.

The battlefield was now rotated to the side, as both sides responded to the weakness on their flanks. When Niels rallied his men at Barrann and returned north, retracing his steps through the fog, he came upon the Grantebrian flank, which mistook them for the enemy reservists. Niels was bombarded by volleys of arrows by his allies, and Niels assumed he had been betrayed. Their shouts of treason soon spread, and the Grantebrian line broke in chaos and panic, Harold saw this collapse and ordered the rest of his army to charge into the center, completely routing Gudmund's men. Gudmund attempted to flee, and Harold ordered him captured, however he was killed in the chaos of the retreat. The Battle of Barrann had been particularly devastating the Grantebrians, and left Harold in possession of London as king once more.

By this time Margaret of Anjou and her young son Harold had fled into Kent, where they were protected by Christopher of Kent. Public opinion had begun to waver however, and the nobles of Kent advised Christopher against this action, as Harold IV's army approached from the north. The Grantebrians again fled to Normandy, after the possibly of Christopher defecting to the Jórvíkists becoming imminent. After a brief campaign into Kent, Harold accepted Christopher's surrender, ending another period of conflict across England. Peace lasted for the next several years, with Harold restoring Jórvíkist nobles and loyal allies to positions across the Kingdom of England.

In 1282 Harold launched a campaign in France, to return the Duchy of Guyenne to English control. Amanieu VIII swore fealty to the English over his Plantagenet enemies, while the King of France, Charles V, was largely distracted by a war with Aragon in Sicily. The lapse in English rule however had developed a faction in Guyenne in favor of continued separation from the English crown, headed by the Count of Marmande, and later that year the appearance of Henrik Christophersson, the Jarl of Kent's second son, who sought to usurp the duchy once more, created a proper rebellion. Harold's party set up court at Bordeaux to wait out the remainder of the year, while Amanieu attempted to subdue the rebels at Marmande. At the Battle of Grignols west of the city Henrik defeated English loyalists, causing his movement to gain momentum. The marriage of Henrik to Joan of Toulouse, daughter of Count William V, created an alliance between one of England's historical enemies, who sought to prevent a return of English power in southern France.

Additionally the rebellion became roped up in a dispute between the King of Navarre, Philip I, who was also the spouse of Joan I of Champagne, against the Dukes of Valois, who held an extensive network of allies in the north. Philip's brother Charles, Count of Labourd, was married to Amanieu's sister Maria. Fearing the growth of Philip's allies in the south, John Tristan of Valois declared his support for Henrik. An alliance of Paris, Valois, Orleans, Nemours, and Bar was assembled against Champagne. Philip's vast territory in the north split up his attention and military efforts, with the majority of his army besieging Nogent in beginning of the conflict. John Tristan of Valois led an army on Roucy, defeating an army led by Philip's son Louis.

Philip's ally, Hugh IV, Count of Rethel, took over command of the northern front, salvaging Louis' army and defeating John Tristan at Braine. Additionally Nogent fell after a month's siege, and Paris was defeated at Melun, leaving Philip with the upper hand. Champagne's luck changed when the Duke of Burgundy launched his own invasion against Champagne, as Burgundy favored increased strengthening of England as a buffer against the Plantagenets. In the south Philip led a decisive attack against Mountauban, marking the first time in years that England and her allies had marched east of the Treaty of Konsby border. In 1283 Amanieu was ambushed west of Cahors and killed, leaving the English faction in chaos. Amanieu's son Bernard was underage at the time of his father's death, and many now flocked to Henrik's claim. Harold was forced to take command of Albret's forces, defeating Henrik at Lauzerte that spring.

Harold's men grew weary of the emerging long war, leaving morale low after the already devastating war in England. As such Harold sued for peace with Henrik, recognizing him as duke as long as he swore fealty to the English king. Guyenne was one more united with England, and had even been expanded to the County of Agenais around Sarlat. Philip gained the Viscount of Narbonne from Toulouse, granting him a wealthy port in the east, whereas in the north the war ended largely inconclusively. Harold returned to England, however he soon found himself facing a crisis in the Lowlands. Erling Ericsson, second son of Eric Jarmflotnar was appointed Captain of Calais after the death of Gudmund Anker, but soon found that the various other English possessions in the region were less likely to surrender to Harold's authority.

Gudmund Anker's son Einar, who had fled to Luxembourg after Barrann, returned to the Lowlands supported by the Duke of Brabant, and seized Eu and Ponthieu from a small English garrison. Einar welcomed Margaret of Anjou and her son Harold, further attracting attention from Harold IV in England. War between Flanders and Brabant broke out and Harold supported the Flemish in order to weaken Einar's ally in the region. While preparing for a proper invasion to restore order in the region, Harold IV died of natural causes in England in early 1283.

Ulf II's PhaseEditEdit

After the death of Harold IV, his eldest son Ulf II succeeded to the throne of England. Harold had managed to leave the kingdom largely in order at the time of Ulf's ascension, however the mere death of the king during this period of instability caused many nobles to begin fighting once more. Additionally Ulf was only eight years oldat the time of his father's death, placing the Kingdom of England again in chaos. Ulf's uncle-in-law, Roald Svartfjall, Greve of Efjahylr, husband of Harold IV's daughter Martha, traveled to London in a bid as Ulf's regent, an offer that was readily accepted by Ulf's relatives and allies. With the war with the Grantebrians temporarily over, many of the English nobles demanded that Ulf reinstate the agreement from the First Lendmenn War, and also sought the creation of a formal council of nobles to govern the nation, fearing another regent would let the nation slip into anarchy once more.

Later that year the weakened central authority allowed Eystein Anker to usurp the Jarldom of Jórvík back from Ulf II's younger brother, Haakon. Fearing another war with the Grantebrians, the lendmenn elected to support the Jórvíkists in putting down Eystein's rebellion, which would end the possibility of a hostile Grantebrian jarldom in the north. Sten Grástr, Greve of Dun Helm, became the leader of the Jórvíkists in the north, becoming regent for Jarl Haakon. An English army under the command of Sigtrygg Colborg, Jarl of East Anglia, marched to Jórvík in support of Sten and Haakon, and was ambushed by the Grantebrians at Spalding. Ralph Blár of Grantebrú joined the rebellion, as did the majority of the Five Boroughs, halting Sigtrygg's advance into the north.

In late 1284 Christopher Estridsen, Jarl of Mercia marched on Jórvík and captured the city in a brief siege against Eystein. Rather than relinquish control of the jarldom however, Christopher made peace with the Grantebrians and defected against the Jórvíkists. Christopher marched north to Sten Grástr's camp in the north, and in a surprise ambush, decisively defeated the Jórvíkist army. Sten Grástr was killed in the fighting, while Haakon was captured. At the same time Christopher's brother Charles began a campaign in the west, attacking Gunnar Jarmflotnar, Jarl of Gloiuborg. The Mercians laid siege to Hereford, where Gunnar was at the time, capturing the jarl without major incident. An army was raised at Weorborg, and the Mercians marched on the city from the west and east, surrounding Jarmflotnar's allies.

In the ensuing Battle of Weorborg, the Mercians managed to outflank the thinly spread defenders, allowing Charles to completely surround a portion of the defending army. A decisive victory was won by Charles, resulting in the destruction of most of Gloiuborg's army. Mercia under Christopher Ericsson now controlled the northern half of England, and much of the rest was held by the Grantebrians, leaving the lendmenn council in crisis.

Roald Svartfjall refused to give up power, and an alliance of southern nobles, led by Haakon Hálmrstein, Thegn of Rovesborg, began assembling an army against London. In 1284 Haakon and his allies marched on London, and Roald began scrambling to assemble an army in the city. The lendmenn army met Roald at the Battle of Fitheim, near London, where Roald's men outnumbered the lendmenn army slightly. The lendmenn initiated hostilities by engaging Roald's skirmishers with a surprise attack. Roald ordered an immediate cavalry charge against the left flank of the lendmenn army, causing their line to break and run. A portion of Roald's army marched after the fleeing army, leaving the main royal army unsupported. The remaining lendmenn ordered their men to form a defensive line, while Roald launched a frontal assault in the center.

Roald's charge was repulsed, and the introduction of fresh reserves by the lendmenn caused his men to retreat. Within the city of Fitheim itself the remaining royal forces put up a last ditch effort to fend off the attackers. When Roald's cavalry returned to the battlefield exhausted from their charge they found the city ablaze, and a retreat ensued. With Roald successfully defeated, the lendmenn marched into London and captured Ulf II. The king was forced to sign a constitution prepared by the lendmenn, which largely abolished the kingdom's absolute monarchy and favored a strengthening of the lendmenn council in London. With Mercia rapidly gaining land in the north, the lendmenn council led an army into Gloiuborg, while Roald Svartfjal gained control of the Jórvíkists in the south. Rather than marching against Mercia, Roald marched on Haakon Hálmrstein, Thegn of Rovesborg, at the command of an army south of Weorborg. While Haakon prepared for an attack on the Mercians in the aftermath of the defeat at Weorborg, Roald surrounded the lendmenn at Evesham.

Outnumbered by the Jórvíkists, Haakon concentrated his army in the center, in an effort to drive a wedge between Roald's line. This tactic was initially successful, however the defenders eventually began to break, and Roald surrounded the remaining army. Haakon was cut off from any reinforcements, and Roald devastated his army. Despite attempts to surrender, the lendmenn's pleas went ignored, as the Jórvíkists still remembered the earlier Battle of Fitheim, and fought with a sense of bitterness. Haakon himself was killed, as were the majority of the lendmenn army. With the death of their leader Haakon Hálmrstein, the lendmenn sought a compromise with the Jórvíkists in the face of widespread rebellion across England. Roald Svartfjall was approved as regent of the king, who in turn received a number of his rights and privileges back, in order to effectively fight the war. The lendmenn retained their role however, essentially preserving the original agreements to some degree.

Christopher Ericsson alienated his Grantebrian allies when he declared the Tamworth Union, uniting Mercia, Gloiuborg, and Jórvík under his rule. It soon became apparent that Christopher attempted to establish his own kingdom in England, and the Grantebrians, who saw all of England as their domain, opposed this union, slowly backing away support from the Estridsens. Charles Ericsson was appointed Jarl of Gloiuborg under Christopher, while Christopher's son and heir, Eric, was appointed Jarl of Jórvík. A large portion of Jórvík however, in addition to Bamburgh and Cumberland in the far north, opposed Christopher, and a costly campaign began to rid the north of Jórvíkist rebellion.

In early 1285 Niels, Jarl of the Five Boroughs died unexpectedly of disease, causing Christopher to lose one of his main allies. Niels was succeeded by his son Björn, much to the disdain of Niels' brother, Erlend, Greve of Stamford. Roald spotted this resentment, and created an alliance with the Greve of Stamford by marrying his daughter Matilda to his eldest son, Randolf. Erlend began preparing a rebellion against his nephew, and Sigtrygg Colborg launched a siege of Grantebrú to distract Jarl Ralph Blár from aiding the Five Boroughs to the north. At the same time Roald Svartfjall marched on Gloiuborg, forcing Charles Ericsson to march south from Weorborg.

Roald would be repulsed from Gloiuborg after a minor victory by Charles, forcing the Jórvíkists to return to the south. Fearing a possible attack into Grantebrú from the south, Ralph Blár dispatched a portion of his army to Bedford. At Grantebrú itself Sigtrygg Colborg held the siege for the next month, before defeating Ralph Blár's attempted relieving of the city. Grantebrú fell soon after, and the jarldom's efforts were now entirely concentrated against East Anglia. Erlend of Stamford seized Leiborg, receiving the support of both Grantebrians and Jórvíkists alike. Björn's allies were largely concentrated at Lincoln, as the majority of the jarldom began to defect to Erlend's cause. An attempt by Björn to intercept Erlend near Nottingham had resulted in his decisive defeat, further diminishing his cause.

In the north Christopher Estridsen had won a siege at Efjahylr, the original holding of Roald Svartfjall, and next moved into Cumberland. He soon found that the Jórvíkists had organized a very successful resistance, and his army was worn down by repeated raids and skirmishes. Harsh tactics were employed on the north, including the confiscation of Jórvík's food supply in an effort to force the rebels out of hiding. Instead this measure only angered the local population, and in late 1285, with winter coming, a rebellion in Jórvík itself forced Eric Christophersson to flee the city. The following spring, sensing the abandoning of the Grantebrians to the Mercian cause, Charles rebelled against his brother Christopher, and laid siege to Vervik. Christopher immediately abandoned his war in the north and returned to Mercia, leaving Jórvík to fall into enemy hands completely.

Despite Charles' initial success, near Tamworth Christopher decisively defeated the rebel army, killing his brother in the process. Christopher had reemerged in control of Mercia, but now found that his cause was in chaos. Jórvík had fallen back into the hands of Jarl Haakon Haroldsson, severing all ties to the Tamworth Union. Additionally Erlend of Stamford won the Siege of Lincoln later that year, becoming Jarl of the Five Boroughs over his nephew Björn. Christopher attempted to take advantage of the chaos in the Five Boroughs by launching his own invasion. After defeating the Grantebrian-aligned House of Djúra-bý at Burton, Christopher received the submission of most of the western sections of the jarldom, whose nobles feared a Jórvíkist leaning jarldom under Erlend in the coming future.

After securing Lincoln Erlend aligned the jarldom against the Grantebrians, but was largely consumed by war with Mercia in the west. During this time Ralph Blár had regrouped the Grantebrians and defeated an East Anglian army near Tempsford. Sigtrygg Colborg still remained unopposed in Grantebrú however, while Roald Svartfjall marched north toward Northampton. Erlend attacked Repton, which had fallen to the Tamworth Union earlier that year, where he met Christopher's main army. Despite being outnumbered, Erlend prepared for battle, forming a defensive line near the city. When the Mercians initiated attack, Erlend's forces in the center began to retreat, and Christopher quickly pursued in favor of a swift victory. Little did the Mercians known, Erlend's right and left flank had waited in reserve, and closed in on the charging Mercians, causing heavy casualties to Christopher's men.

Erlend rallied his men and broke off the retreat, charging after Christopher's army into Repton. The Mercians still held a superior position in the city, however the sudden death of Christopher during the retreat caused Mercian morale to splinter. Once in the city of Repton Erlend pursued the Mercians and laid siege, and after brief fighting the Mercians surrendered. Christopher's son Eric was declared the new ruler of the Tamworth Union, but with enemies closing in on his kingdom, readily sued for peace. The Tamworth Union was broken up, and Eric abdicated any form of kingship, being allowed only to keep his title as Jarl of Mercia. The Five Boroughs received the cities Mercia had seized, and Gloiuborg was liberated from Mercian control.

In 1283 Gudmund Anker's son Einar, who had fled to Luxembourg after the Battle of Barrann, seized the majority of English possessions in the Lowlands, including Eu and Ponthieu, and had also welcomed Margaret of Anjou and her son Harold, who had an immediate claim to the throne of England. An English invasion to uproot Einar was halted only by the untimely death of Harold IV, allowing Einar to establish his own kingdom, known as the Duchy of Picardy. That same year Einar and his ally, the Duke of Brabant, launched an invasion of Flanders, an English ally, beginning the Flanders-Brabant War. After numerous skirmishes throughout the remainder of 1283, at the beginning of 1284 Duke John I of Brabant led an attack into Flanders toward Ghent. The Flemish army was decisively defeated by John I's army, and later that year the Flemish sued for peace. A section of Flanders itself was ceded to Brabant, while Einar of Picardy seized the Barony of Aalst, which had historically been ruled by the English noble Harold the Black Prince.

Immediately the Count of Flanders, Charles Cnutsson, began forming allies, no longer able to count of the English during their period of instability after the death of Harold IV. Waleran IV, Duke of Limburg aligned with Flanders, marrying his daughter Ermengarde to Charles. Additionally Charles gained the support of the Electorate of Cologne, a historical enemy of the Duke of Brabant. Charles' brother-in-law Hugh Montfort, aligned with Charles, and also established an alliance with the Count of d'Amiens.

Almost immediately after an alliance had been forged between Flanders and Limburg, the death of Waleran IV caused the duchy to fall into chaos. With no male heirs, Charles Cnutsson held a valid claim through his wife Ermengarde, Waleran's daughter. Additionally Adolf VIII, Count of Berg held a claim to the duchy, and called upon the Brabant alliance against Flanders. Limburg was an important territory in the Lowlands, desired by John I, Duke of Brabant as part of the former Duchy of Lower Lorraine. Limburg was also economically important, controlling a valuable stretch along the major Rhine River trade route. The people of Limburg rejected John I, and war broke out once more between Flanders and Brabant.

In 1285 John I attempted to march on Limburg and force its population to submit to him, but en route through Horne found the city refusing his passage. Rather than seek an alternate route, John I laid siege to the city. Siegfried II of Westerburg, the Archbishop of Cologne, mobilized in support of Horne, as did the Duke of Guelders, and they managed to push back John I back into Brabant. By this time the Count of Mark, with support from Loon, Tecklenburg, and Waldeck, had declared independence from the Archbishop's control, preventing Siegfried from marching after John I. The alliance in the east was split, as Siegfried attempted to subdue Mark. Henry VI, Count of Luxembourg, and his brother Waleran I, Lord of Ligny, marched on Limburg from the south, capturing the city in a brief siege.

Einar of Picardy immediately marched on Amiens, defeating the count's army at Naours. Hugh Montfort marched to Amiens and asserted himself as the chief commander in the region. In command of Amiens' men and a vast collection of mercenaries and allies from the Lowlands, managed to defeat an attempted attack of Amiens itself. Einar retreated to the north, capturing the vast majority of the county's farmland and other towns. In Flanders an attempt to take the Barony of Aalst had failed, as John I rallied his men after Horne and marched into the territory. Henry VI, Count of Luxembourg and his allies quickly marched on Cologne to take advantage of the archbishop's internal instability. At the fortress of Worrigen the army from Luxembourg laid siege, aided by people from the city of Cologne, who sought to emancipate themselves from the archbishop.

Siegfried and his allies marched south to Worringen and beat back the Cologne militia. Adolf VIII, Count of Berg attempted to charge against the archbishop's position but was taken prisoner, causing the majority of the attacking army to retreat. Henry VI attempted to rally the fleeing army and charge against the fortress a second time, but was killed, prompting a complete retreat back to Luxembourg territory. Later that year the Count of Amiens died of natural causes, and with no clear male heir, Einar of Picardy claimed ownership over the county. The late count's sister Yolande, married to Charles, Count of Guise, instead supported its inheritance by her family. Yolande's son Louis led an army into Amiens, but at the Battle of Naours was killed in battle. Louis' sister Louise, who remained in Amiens, was wed to Hugh Montfort, the popular leader against Einar's claim.

The war in Flanders had remained a stalemate, and in 1288 Charles led a second campaign into Aalst, meeting John I at St-Truiden. In the ensuing battle the Flemish army decisively defeated John I, allowing Charles to march on Aalst itself. Finally peace was declared, with Charles inheriting Limburg. Aalst remained in Einar's hands, as did the majority of Amiens. The city of Amiens however, was now held by Hugh Montfort, who began preparing a second war to reclaim his county in the coming years. Siegfried eventually came to terms with his rebellious subjects, reestablishing control over the city of Cologne itself.

In 1292 the Second Flanders-Brabant War broke out after Hugh Montfort of Amiens attempted to reclaim the county's territory lost during the War of the Limburg Succession. Montfort had managed to secure numerous alliances with minor lords in the north, including the cities of Mantes and Beaumont, allowing him to raise an army comparable to Einar of Picardy. Additionally Montfort relied heavily on his ally Flanders, who was to surround Brabant on two sides via their territories in Limburg and Flanders proper. Charles Cnutsson of Flanders hesitated to invade Brabant, instead leading men into Aalst. By the end of the year the Flemish had successfully occupied the region, but not without considerable losses. The invasion also granted Brabant adequate time to raise its own army. Limburg's army was raised by Charles' son Baldwin, but was decisively defeated by Brabant during the early phases of its invasion.

The French king, Charles VI, was preoccupied with conflict in Sicily, but granted Sweyn Oxeborg a French army so that he could subjugate Picardy. Sweyn was joined by Charles of Valois, mutual ally of Charles VI, and Erling Jarmflotnar of Calais, who heavily opposed Einar's rule in the Lowlands. This new alliance allowed Flanders to focus exclusively against Brabant, to great effect. After routing the Brabant invasion of Aalst, Charles II pursued as far as Genappe, even capturing the city of Brussels. The French army met up with Montfort's and began a renewed offensive against Picardy, driving Einar from Amiens completely. This disastrous defeat for Einar led him to sue for peace, officially ending the war in 1293. Amiens in its entirety was ceded to Montfort and Aalst was ceded to Charles II of Flanders. Surprisingly Sweyn demanded Einar's complete subjugation, as Sweyn sought to use his new found power in an invasion of England. An agreement was finally signed in which Einar retained his lands as a vassal of Sweyn, as he too wanted war against Ulf II.

In 1290 Ulf II attempted to rid himself of regents and advisers, believing himself to be able to rule in his own right. Ulf's lack of support for the lendmenn council and their demands made him unpopular in government, and later that year the dismissal of one of his key supporters, Roald Svartfjall, proved disastrous for Ulf. Harold Sweynsson, son of Sweyn V, had become a successful noble in the Lowlands under Einar Anker, Duke of Picardy, serving in the War of the Limburg Succession and other conflicts in the region. Harold had an equal claim to the throne of England, and was even older than the ruling Ulf II, but was hesitant to press his claim, believing such an invasion would end in failure similar to earlier attempted seizures of the throne. Harold's grandmother, the former Grantebrian leader Margaret of Anjou, believed that a swift campaign in England would be able to put the Grantebrians on the throne for good, especially in the absence of a son by the current king.

Margaret of Anjou established an alliance with Christopher of Kent, who had previously housed them before defecting to the Jórvíkist cause. Christopher's second defection went unnoticed at first, as Roald Svartfjall began preparing an army to march on London. In 1291 Harold launched his invasion of England, supported by a fleet from Picardy, soldiers from Brabant, and other Lowland nobles. Einar marched on Calais, hoping to prevent Erling Jarmflotnar from intercepting reinforcements en route to England, while Harold landed east of Hastings. The original seat of Gudmund Anker, Hastings was hastily captured, before Harold marched northwest. Nobles from across southern England readily accepted Harold, and with support from Kent Harold's men secured most of southern England before Ulf could prepare an army himself.

With Harold and Roald Svartfjall approaching London, Ulf fled north, but soon found himself surrounded, as Ralph Blár launched a rebellion against Sigtrygg Colborg and managed to capture Grantebrú for the Grantebrian cause once more. Eric Estridsen of Mercia declared his support for Harold's cause, and began mobilizing an army to further trap Ulf II from retreating, who now garrisoned Wallignford. Olaf, Greve of Dun Holm and Haakon, Jarl of Jórvík however jeopardized the Mercian advance by marching into the northern territory of the jarldom, support from the east by Erlend of the Five Boroughs. London fell to Harold, whose supporters wished to swiftly crown him as Harold V. Harold however rejected coronation until Ulf had been dealt with, and chased after the Jórvíkist king throughout southern England.

The Mercians under Eric marched north to respond to the Jórvíkist invasion across the border, but were ambushed east of Stafford by Olaf's army and an army from the Five Boroughs. Eric's larger army was surrounded and bombarded by ranged weapons, causing massive casualties. In the chaos Eric would be killed, causing the Mercians to run in complete chaos. Fleeing into Stafford, Erlend laid siege to the city, before receiving the surrender of Mercia one month later. Mercia dropped its support for Harold, allowing Jórvík from the north to march south in support of Ulf. After the fall of Wallingford Ulf fled to Gloiuborg, but with support from the remainder of England, marched against Harold confidently.

The two armies bet near Holvel, after numerous indecisive skirmishes. A few days earlier the Grantebrians had attempted to seize a hill fort northeast of Gloiuborg, and after a costly exchange had been beaten back to Holvel to unite with the main Grantebrian army. Realizing that the Grantebrians would attack Gloiuborg if he did not react, Ulf marched to halt their advance. The Grantebrians, who had forced marched through the warm weather in an attempt to outflank Ulf, found themselves exhausted and still unable to pass unhindered into the jarldom. As such the Grantebrians halted for the night, while Ulf's high amount of cavalry was able to continue with less rest.

Unable to retreat without Ulf attacking their rear, the Grantebrians set up a defensive position south of Holvel, utilizing a series of hedges, woods, embankments, and other obstacles to their advantage, especially on their right flank near the town. Ulf's army, commanded in part by Olaf of Dun Holm and other nobles, had a numerical advantage, and marched quickly against the Grantebrians. Ulf had positioned his army so that the left of his army was guarded by a thickly wooded area, guarded by a small detachment of concealed mounted spearmen. Ulf's initial attack proved ineffective, as his men were slowed by the many obstacles guarding the Grantebrian line. The Jórvíkist archers however, who were for the most part better trained and experienced, effectively bombarded the unmoving defenders.

With fighting largely isolated in the center, Harold launched an attack to outflank Ulf's position along the left flank. Having escaped the Jórvíkist bombardment, Harold's men attacked Ulf's left flank, which held their ground. The detachment of spearmen that Ulf had prepared then charged into Harold's own right flank and rear, and the attackers were routed. With a section of Harold's army now routing, morale quickly collapsed, and the Grantebrians began to flee. Harold was surrounded and killed in the battle, causing the Grantebrian cause in the south to quickly collapse. Ulf marched to Coventry where he received the surrender of many leading Grantebrians. Roald Svartfjall however was still active, and in command of a large enemy army. Roald rallied Harold's army and had an opportunity to return to London, however when Ulf approached he fled to Sandvik instead.

Ulf took the city of London and captured Margaret within the city. Several days later Roald returned to London supported by Christopher of Kent and other nobles, however the city's inhabitants and some of Ulf's allies managed to repulse the attack, giving Jórvíkist reinforcements the time they needed to march to the city's relief. Christopher was killed in the campaign, and with the Grantebrian cause collapsing, Roald surrendered himself to Ulf's custody, only to be executed five months later for attempting an escape. In an attempt to make a lasting peace Ulf II was wed to Harold Sweynsson's wife, Erica Anker, daughter of Gudmund.

Ascension of the OxeborgsEditEdit

Harold Sweynsson's rebellion had been dangerously popular in England for Ulf II, and his management after the invasion proved unsuccessful at deterring future conflict. Although the death of Harold and the extinguishing of Sweyn V's line momentarily ended the Grantebrian claim to the English throne, Harold's supporters next turned to Sweyn Oxeborg. Sweyn was the son of Halfdan II, Jarl of Wessex and Margaret Beorthelm. Halfdan was the grandson of Halfdan I, who had been wed to Godiva, daughter of Harold III of England. Additionally Sweyn's mother Margaret was the daughter of Eirik Beorthelm, an illegitimate child of Christopher I. Born in 1262, Sweyn had spent almost his whole life in exile in Brittany, after Guthrum on behalf of Sweyn V had ordered his mother captured. Sweyn's father Halfdan had died earlier that same year, and his cousin Ivar Olafsson was crowned jarl instead.

Halfdan II's first son Kolbjörn attempted to gain support in the south of England for his claim to the Jarldom of Wessex. With a relatively small army, Kolbjörn joined Roald Svartfjal and the Jórvíkists against Hálmrstein, Thegn of Rovesborg, but was killed at the Battle of Evesham. The largely neutral Wessex under Ivar Olafsson declared his support for Harold Sweynsson, but after the capture of London by Ulf II, ended their support for the Grantebrians. Ivar Olafsson died in 1293, and the throne passed to Harthacnut, brother of Ivar III, Jarl of Cornwall. This was challenged, however, by Ormar Sigurdsson, the grandson of Jarl Gudfred III. The throne favored Harthacnut, but was hesitant to intervene. Ormar managed to obtain support from Mercia, due to his dynastic ties to the House of Estridsen, and from Eric Christophersson, the new Jarl of Kent.

Harthacnut and his brother Ivar III of Cornwall managed to secure an early victory, and Harthacnut was officially crowned in 1293. In the east of England conflict between Sigtrygg Colborg of East Anglia and Ralph Blár of Grantebrú had ended in white peace. Additionally Ralph Blár had wed his daughter to Ragnfrid to Randolf, son of Erlend, Jarl of the Five Boroughs, whose previous wife Matilda, daughter of Roald, had died in 1289. This action was successful in securing Blár's northern border and ensuring peace in the region for the immediate future. The Five Boroughs and Grantebrú now formed a potential alliance against the neighboring Jarldom of Mercia, while isolating Colborg, who was hesitant to back the Mercians and counter Blár's alliance. In early 1294 Mercia made peace with Wessex, fearing a possible war with their neighbors to the east. In their stead Ormar allied with Wales, who were no longer alienated by an alliance with their enemies, the Estridsens.

That same year Ivar III of Cornwall died of old age, and with no clear heir it was uncertain if Harthacnut would inherit both jarldoms, or be forced to recognize Ormar's claim over one of them. With his new found support, Ormar launched a renewed offensive in early 1294, defeating Harthacnut at the Battle of Frome. With Cornwall now rebelling in favor of Ormar, fled into exile, leaving Ormar as sole jarl over Wessex and Cornwall. Ormar took interest in the growing movement around Sweyn Halfdansson, and partially to protect his own gains, as well as see his rival Ulf II of England uprooted, Ormar began secretly backing a conspiracy to return Sweyn to England.

With the ascension of Malcom V in Scotland, an invasion of northern England was launched, ending the peace between the two kingdoms held since 1274. Disputed territories along the border were easily overwhelmed, while Cumberland was seized by Scottish allies. The invasion of Cumberland was led by forces the Isle of Man, who were distantly related to the Hvitserks, as well as forces from Ireland, and Cornwall. Ulf II was forced to mobilize his forces in defense of his brother Haakon, who had been taken completely by surprise. Haakon was seen as ineffective and weak, and a coup was launched in the city of Jórvík, backed by the Five Boroughs and Grantebrú, which resulted in his capture. Eystein Anker's son Olaf was appointed jarl, but his fragile rule was largely dependent on support from the south.

The Five Boroughs had been won over by the concession of southern Jórvík, while Grantebrú sought to restore the Grantebrian cause. Ulf was passing through western Grantebrú when he learned of this treachery, and immediately changed his course into the jarldom. The decisive confrontation came at Wellingborg, where Blár's alliance decisively defeated the king, leaving him trapped in enemy territory and partially surrounded. Olaf mobilized what little army of supporters he had and marched against the Scottish invaders. This bold move gained the attention of most of the northern lords, and many defected from Haakon's army to join a war against a foreign army. Bamburgh was decisively defeated, after being left heavily outnumbered and surrounded as the main proprietor of an alliance against both Scotland and Jarl Olaf.

With England seemingly in chaos once more, Sweyn Oxeborg made his move for the throne. The war in the Lowlands had left him in possession of a large personal army from France and Picardy, numerous allies and mercenaries, and important relations with Valois and other nobles. As such Sweyn's fleet was able to land in southern England with a well equipped and experienced force. Sweyn's main ally, Ormar of Wessex and Cornwall, mobilized in his defense immediately, as did many of the southern lords. Shocked by this betrayal, Ulf II forced his army to march with haste back toward London.

Ulf II rode in the front of his army, a skilled fighter and tall leader to the English army. Although he was young Ulf, had grown up in the midst of the War of the Axes, and had seen combat for much of his later life. Additionally he was supported by numerous English lords of the south of England, who led the bulk of his army. Sweyn Halfdansson was a foreigner in England, having been raised the majority of his life in continental Europe. Sweyn was a strong leader, having served under the French king and various other lords during numerous conflicts in the Lowlands. Sweyn's inexperience with the terrain and layout of the kingdom was supplemented by the knowledge of his allies, including Ormar of Wessex and Christopher of Kent. Both men were experienced commanders in their own right, and their presence raised morale in Sweyn's army, while troubling Ulf II.

Olaf Hálmrstein, Thegn of Rovesborg, whose father Haakon had been killed at the Battle of Evesham against Roald Svartfjal, aligned himself with Ulf's cause. Additionally the lendmann's influential position near the capital allowed him to gather an army of like minded lendmenn, slowing Sweyn's advance inland. The king's army departed the north toward Coventry, located between the Mercians and hostile Five Boroughs, where he could gather forces loyal to him. The king was also joined by the majority of his brother's supporters in Jórvík, while the majority of the jarldom's men had been focused against Scotland, and were largely loyal to Jarl Olaf. Sweyn was advised to march due east on Longon, or alternatively to Gloiuborg and other Jórvíkist strongholds. However, Sweyn sought instead to end the war as quickly as possible, and was willing to risk his entire host against the king immediately, before the enemy had a chance to better defend themselves.

A forced march left Sweyn and his supporters in Coventry before the king could reach the city, and after a brief skirmish the city was occupied by the invaders. With the city seized, Ulf II had his men fortify the nearby Ambion Hill, located north of the city. The royal army was deployed along this hillside, while Ulf himself positioned at the top, allowing himself an unobstructed view of the surrounding area. Unable to draw Ulf off his defense position, and fearing enemy reinforcements arriving from the south if Sweyn did not hurry, Coventry was vacated and Sweyn prepared to face the king on the field of battle at Bosworth Fields. Ralph Blár's army from Grantebrú arrived at the battle as well, where the king attempted to threaten him to remain neutral with the death of his son Frey Blár, Lord Kynligr, who had been captured in the king's initial march toward Jórvík. When Sweyn had reached the hillside, and advanced past the marshlands located at the southwestern foot of the hill, Ulf II demanded Blár join his side and attack the invader, however, Ralph Blár still refused.

Sweyn took notice of the king's long defensive line across the ridge, and chose to keep his army whole, rather than split his forces into the traditional three groups. This large mass of soldiers was harassed by the king's archers as they marched through the marshes, but once they reached firm land they began a counterattack. Archers on both side opened fire, while each side's infantry engaged. Sweyn's forces came out on top during the hand-to-hand melee, forcing Ulf II's men to retreat back up the hill. The narrow ridge where the king's men were positioned limited his movement, and another attack against Sweyn's army was halted. The Grantebrians arrived to the battle at this time, and Sweyn himself rode to meet with Ralph Blár. When Ulf II saw this movement, he charged after Sweyn hoping to end the battle with the quick killing of the enemy leader.

Ulf II's charge caused heavy damage to Sweyn's party, killing or unhorsing several of his closest bodyguards, however, it failed to kill Sweyn himself initially. Both men and their horsemen became locked in combat, when Ralph Blár decided to intervene on behalf of Sweyn. The Grantebrians easily surrounded Ulf II's cavalry, and his outnumbered force was cut down. Ulf attempted to withdraw his men toward the marshes, but the king and his men were soon killed. With Ulf II dead his army on the ridge and his allies retreated or defected, ending the battle as a decisive victory for Sweyn. Later that day Sweyn was crowned Sweyn VI atop Ambion Hill, bringing the war to an end. The bodies of the fallen during the battle were granted burial nearby, however the body of Ulf II was stripped naked and strapped across a horse. Later his body was displayed in Coventry, before being interred to a plain unmarked tomb.

Sweyn VI next marched to London, where he received the support and affirmation of the lendmenn. Olaf Hálmrstein had put down his arms when news reached the city of Ulf II's death, and was granted a pardon for his efforts to disarm the city. In an effort to further end conflict between the Jórvíkists and Grantebrians, Ulf II's sister Godiva was wed to Sweyn, connecting both factions. Ralph Blár and Grantebrú as a whole was greatly rewarded, as was the Five Boroughs, whose jarl held a rival claim to the throne. Erlend of the Five Boroughs was in no position however to claim the throne, and seemed to not desire as much. As such he was allowed to retain his jarldom, as long as he rejected any claims to the throne. The throne was secure under Sweyn VI, however the presence of Ulf II's brother Haakon in the north complicated his rule. Sweyn would also have to rally his forces and prove himself against the Scottish invaders, while still pacifying much of the realm.

Oxeborg EraEditEdit

The new king was tasked with restoring royal authority across the nation, spending much of his early reign combating illegally constructed fortifications, disobedient or independent minded nobles, and resistance to the nation's justice system. In addition to restoring the king's justice through provincial representatives in the local court systems, the king also set out to repair the nations' ability to raise taxes and collect royal revenues to pay for these projects. With the newly established court system, Sweyn VI had those who had fought against him in the War of the Axes tried and found guilty of treason. This tool was used to confiscate large portions of land across England, rewarding the king's supporters, disenfranchising former Jórvíkist supporters, and creating a large area of loyal territory under the king himself.

For the first two months of his reign after his ascension, Sweyn VI took care not to address the lendmenn council, operating outside their control during these proceedings. In September 1294 the king passed an edict to address the lendmenn, which decreed that any nobleman who swore fealty to him would, notwithstanding any previous attainder, be secure in his property and person. The wedding of Godiva and Sweyn took place in early December, officially linking the two warring houses of England, and granting their children the strongest claim to the the English throne in the future. Their first child, Ormar, was born in September of the following year, and was designated Sweyn V's official heir.

Territorial DivisionsEditEdit

BackgroundEditEdit

England inherited a complex system of jarldoms from the Kingdom of Jórvík in 1008, which were largely based on Scandinavian traditions. These divisions were also largely influenced by the earlier Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, with their names inspiring many of the later divisions' names. After the War of the Great Heathen Army, many of the kingdoms the Norse conquered remained, in name only, as a part of the newly established Jórvík. After the death of Halfdan Ragnarsson in about 898, the Kingdom of Jórvík went to Sigfrið, while Sigfrið's brother Guðfrið received the southern half of the nation subordinate to the north.

Many of Jórvík's early civil wars and disputes originated from this division, beginning with the English Brother War in 900. Guðfrið desired to install his son Halfdan as heir to the throne, over Sigfrið 's own son Sigbjörn. Guðfrið raised his banner in rebellion against his brother, and sent an army to corner Sigbjörn, heir to the kingdom, at the time only sixteen years of age. This action sparked war between the brothers, causing members of the Hvitserk dynasty to pick sides in the conflict. Southern Jórvík was also joined by Cornwall, ruled by Ragnarr Halfdansson, which had aligned with the south as the second established subkingdom after theCornwall War two decades earlier. Sigfríð 's central authority in Jórvík would be victorious, preventing a complete division of the kingdom for years to come.

The Kingdom of Jórvík remained in delicate balance for the next several decades. Almost immediately after the English Brother War the north and south again faced off, this time in the context of Æthelwold's War. Also known as the Anglo-Saxon Civil War, the conflict saw Anglo-Saxon armies on either side, aligned with either East Anglia, Southern Jórvík, and Cornwall, or Jórvík and Suðreyjar in the north. The war was largely a continuation of the English Brother War, with members of the House of Hvitserk engaging in direct battle. Like its predecessor the war was also fueled by a desire to limit the power of the kings in Jórvík, whose kingdom was the largest in the British Isles. Although Southern Jórvík, the self proclaimed Kingdom of Wessex under Ormar Guðfriðsson, and the Kingdom of Cornwall under Ragnarr Halfdansson failed to break up the Kingdom of Jórvík, large territorial concessions and rights were granted to each kingdom, severally limiting Jórvík power in the north. The war was also a conflict over the rights of the Anglo-Saxon nobles, who had largely been overtaken by Norse rulers. The war would be a success for the Anglo Saxons to some degree, as it granted them additional rights in the south.

Wessex remained a dominant force in Jórvík for he next several years, however largely unsuccessful campaigns into Wales, coupled with the outbreak of the War of the Alfar in 948, largely curtailed power in the south. Also known as the South Jórvík Civil War, the conflict between Alfr Ormarsson, son of the previous king of Wessex, and Alfr Guðfriðsson, the late king Ormar's brother, over the succession of the Kingdom of Wessex, soon grew into a devastating civil war. At the time of Ormar's death, his son Alfr was young and largely untested, prompting a majority of nobles in Wessex to support his uncle, also named Alfr, as Ormar's successor. Alfr Ormarsson's refusal to give up his claim to the throne led to the outbreak of war, which eventually engulfed many of Wessex's nearby neighbors.

Danish EstablishmentEditEdit

[3]

Map of England in 1042, upon the death of Cnut the Great's sons.

The Danish Conquest of England by 1012 radically changed the territorial divisions of England. Firstly Cnut the Great divided England officially into several jarldoms, largely drawn upon he lines of the earlier Hvitserk divisions, as well as Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. A section of the south, including Essex and Kent, was ruled directly by Cnut, in personal union with Denmark and later Norway. Wessex remained in the possession of Ormar II Alfrsson, for his support of Cnut against Styrbjörn Rögnvaldrsson of Jórvík. Likewise the Hvitserks also remained in power in Cornwall, through Ivar Ragnarrsson of the so called House of Oxeborg, and in East Anglia, through Guðfrið Alvörsson, who was later replaced by Thorkell the Tall of the Jomsvikings in 1012, who was in turn replaced by Osgod Clapa in 1021. The Hvitserks later returned to East Anglia, ruling over the jarldom for much of mid eleventh century.

Jórvík itself was granted to Eric Haakonsson, Jarl of Lade, but his descendants, the House of Hlaðir, did not hold onto the possession after his death. Jórvík instead was passed to a line of Hvitserks and other nobles, such as Uhtred of the House of Bamburgh in 1041. The jarldom was not secured under a stable house until Haakon Sveinsson was appointed jarl in 1044. In the Five Boroughs the House of Hlaðir also ruled there briefly from about 1016 to 1045, when it as granted to the House of Estridsen, the ruling family of nearby Mercia. In 1076 Styrbjörn I Beornsson was replaced by Ragnvald Haroldsson of the House of Knýtlinga, who as exiled from England in 1083 by Sweyn II. Sweyn granted he jarldom to his brother Alfvin, however his weak rule eventually resulted in the Crises of the Boroughs no long after. The House of Estidsen ruled over Mercia throughout the eleventh century, except during a brief reprisal by the House of Hwicce.

Feudal HierarchyEditEdit

In addition the the various jarls appointed by Cnut the Great and his descendants, a hierarchy of titles was created below the jarls that grew in complexity over the course of the next century. Firstly the title of Hold, or Hauld, was created as a title just below that of jarl. Influential holds included the Hold of Cumbria, who later established the Jarldom of Cumberland in the north of England, guarding the western border with hostile Scotland. Another position, he High-reeve, was created as an equivalent to the hold, which acted as a great steward. The high-reeves acted as head holds, and also as military commanders. In addition to the responsibilities and privileges of a hold, the high-reeves also acted as urban officials, deputies for jarls, and provincial military commanders. The most famous high-reeve title, the High-reeve of Bamburgh, was the most successful, defending northern England from Scottish invasion on multiple occasions. The High-reeve of Bamaburgh was also the Jarl of Jórvík on at least one occasion.

Below the hold and the high-reeve there was the position of reeve, which were senior officials with local responsibilities under the crown. The reeves acted as the chief magistrate of a town or district, a manager of a manor, or an overseer of peasants. As he position of jarl drifted toward a leader of a large region, the later position of chieftain was created as a ruler of a county or shire. Within a jarldom a number of chieftains or greves ruled over select areas under control of the jarl, and acted as his vassals. With the introduction of French customs and laws following the invasion of Guyenne and other wars, the term chieftain became synonymous with the title of count, and became increasingly popular in England, while the jarl was viewed as the equivalent of a duke.

Below the greves were the thegns, also known as lendmenn, who were vassals of a chieftain who ruled over individual towns or cities within the larger county. The majority of wealthy land owners and aristocrats comprised the lendmenn, and were roughly equivalent to the rank of baron in France and other countries. At a time when larger titles became increasingly dominated by hereditary noble families, the lendmenn became one way for nobles to increase in power and prestige, and shuffled heavily from war, rebellion, and dynastic conflict. Initially the lendmenn received extensive autonomy from the royal authority, allowing them to pursue their own goals to some degree.

ExpansionEditEdit

In the eleventh century kings of England began to break up larger jarldoms across England, leading to the development of many more divisions across the kingdom. After the Council of Wallingford in 1100, which sought to end the jarldom-based Second Crisis of the Boroughs, a number of new positions would be formed, which largely sought to break up overly influential jarldoms in favor of more easily controlled sections. Peace lasted for years after the Second Crisis of the Boroughs, with later amendments being made to the 1100 agreement, such as the creation of the Jarldom of Grantebrú several years later.

[4]

Map of England in 1315, upon the completion of the Conquest of Wales.

The agreement would also lead to the creation of the Jarldom of Gloiuborg in the west, which further weakened the Jarldom of Mercia as a major power in England. The Jarldom of Gloiuborg, also sometimes known incorrectly as the House of Hereford, after the royal family that pioneered its creation, became a major jarldom, acting as a heavily defensible buffer between England and the Welsh principalities, and as a deterrent to both Mercian and West Saxon expansion. The Jarl of Gloiuborg, Ulf Haroldsson, later became the King of England following the Hereford War, after he defeated his brother Sigrid. Ulf's descendants distinguished themselves from the House of Knýtlinga be calling themselves Hereford, after Ulf's first center of power, and the family he became head of through his marriage to Gunhilde of Hereford, the only offspring of the chieftain Eadric.

In the south of England the Jarldom of Essex was created for Ulf I's first son Sweyn in the twelfth century. Later during the reign of Christopher I the Jarldom of Kent was created for his eldest son Harthacnut, Greve of Sussex, to consolidate royal control over the southeast of England after the death ofSweyn IV. During the War of the Axes, which dominated English politics throughout the thirteenth century, the titles of the Kingdom of England changed hands repeatedly, however no major changes would be made to the collection of jarldoms until after the war's conclusion. During the reign ofSweyn IV, the first Oxeborg King of England, the English Conquest of Wales led to the creation of three additional jarldoms; the Jarldom of Suðhǫnd in 1312, and the Jarldom of Wales and the Jarldom of Norwalia in 1315.

Titles of EnglandEditEdit

List of titles in the current Kingdom of England, with approximate dates of creation in parentheses.

Under Construction

  • King of England, also ceremonial Greve and Lendmann of London (1008)
    • Jarldom of Jórvík (c. 866)
      • High-Reeve of Bamburgh (867; High-Reeve est. 879)
    • Jarldom of Mercia (c. 527; Jarldom est. 1011)
    • Jarldom of East Anglia (c. 6th century; Jarldom est. 1012)
    • Jarldom of Wessex (c. 519; Jarldom est. c. 898)
    • Jarldom of Cornwall (Jarldom est. c. 882)
    • Jarldom of the Five Boroughs (c. 1016)
    • Jarldom of Cumberland (mid 11th century)
    • Jarldom of Gloiuborg (c. 1100)
    • Jarldom of Grantebrú (12th century)
    • Jarldom of Essex (1114)
    • Jarldom of Kent (1229)
      • Greve of Suthringa
        • Thegn of Lambryggja
        • Thegn of Suðrvǫrn
        • Thegn of Kyningborg
      • Greve of Tvǫgr
        • Bishopric of Canterbury
        • Thegn of Rovesborg
        • Thegn of Sandvik
        • Thegn of Fólkesteinn
      • Greve of Suðseax
        • Thegn of Arnardalr
        • Thegn of Chisborg
        • Thegn of Hastings
    • Direct vassals of the king in London
      • Greve of London - Title held by king
        • Thegn of Lundenvik - Title most often held by king
        • Thegn of Vestmystur - Title most often held by king or a close descendant/heir
        • Bishopric of St. Pauls
        • Thegn of Rafenbrú
        • Thegn of Fjallborg
    • Jarldom of Suðhǫnd (1312)
    • Jarldom of Wales (1315)
    • Jarldom of Norwalia (1315)

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.