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'War of the Axes'

The Old Boar Suffered

[1]

Clockwise from left to right: Einar Anker and Harold Sweynsson in battle against Flanders, Harold IV of England landing at Hrafnsporna on the Jórvík coast, Margaret of Anjou's Scottish allies at the Siege of Carlisle, Roald Svartfjall and Haakon Hálmrstein's lendmenn alliance engage at Fitheim.

Date 1264 - 1299
Location EnglandMerciaJórvíkEast Anglia, Kent, Five Boroughs,GloiuborgGrantebrú Francia; Guyenne, Aquitaine, Lowlands;Picardy
Result
  • Initial Jórvíkist victory leading to 
    Jórvíkist rule over England
  • Final Grantebrian victory
  • Ascension of the House of Oxeborg
    to English throne
Belligerents
House of Jórvík House of Grantebrú
Commanders and leaders
Ulf I, Jarl of Jórvík †

Harold IV Ulf II Eric Jarmflotnar † and others

Sweyn V

Margaret of Anjou Guthrum, Greve of Suðseax † Harold Sweynsson and others

Battles

The War of the Axes was a series of dynastic struggles and related conflicts for Kingdom of England. The war was fought was mainly fought between two major factions; the House of Jórvík and the House of Grantebrú, two rival branches of the previous House of Hereford, which had ruled over England since the Hereford War of 1114. The war lasted over thirty years, with battles spread out sporadically across this period, and encompassing entire wars in England and Francia. The war is known as the War of the Axes for the iconography used by the House of Hereford and the House of Oxeborg, the latter taking its name from the city of Oxeborg, from the Old Norse "ax fort".

Following the heavy devastating Twenty Years' Warwith France and the First Lendmenn War in England, which shattered royal authority across the kingdom, the financial and political instability in England created complete crisis. Combined with the ineffective rule of Sweyn V, who suffered from periods of mental instability, England was left with little central authority, allowing disputes and feuds to escalate to the point of violence. The war formally broke out in 1264, with a march on London by Ulf, Jarl of Jórvík, where he defeated Sweyn V's Grantebrian allies outside the city. Ulf was unable to seize the throne himself, but established himself as heir apparent and regent for Sweyn. His untimely death at the New Years Massacre, perpetrated by the Jarl of the Five Boroughs, caused war to break out once more between Ulf's son, later crowned Harold IV, against the Grantebrian government led by Sweyn's uncle-in-law, Guthrum, Greve of Suðseax.

Harold was crowned king in London in the summer of 1271, leading to temporary peace across England. Disgruntled with the new king's administrative policies, a rebellion led by Harold's former commander, Gudmund Anker, led to his temporarily exile from England and the return of Sweyn V in 1280. Six months later however Harold returned, aided by the Duke of Burgundy and schisms in the Grantebrian faction itself. At the Battle of Barrann several months later Gudmund Anker would be killed, and Harold returned to the throne of England.

ContentsEdit

[show]==Name and SymbolsEdit==

Combatants OverviewEditEdit

The War of the Axes, and the period of instability across England it brought upon, saw the rise of many different noble dynasties and families, taking advantage of the nation's weak central authority to fight among one another. Another important aspect of the war was a system of rewarding loyal commanders and nobles, which saw the introduction or strengthening of several titles across the kingdom. During this period numerous influential nobles also switched their allegiance to one side or the other, with these shifting loyalties affecting the outcome of major battles or even entire phases of the war. In London the capital was held for periods of time by multiple kings and claimants, with those officially recognized, having received coronation and some degree of recognition are listed here. See also the list of English monarchs for a more detailed overview of the English monarchy. [2]Harold III (1170 - 1212 ) Hereford[3]Sweyn IV (1212 - 1229) Hereford[4]Christopher I (1229 - 1239) Grantebrú[5]Harthacnut III (1239 - 1247) Grantebrú[6]Sweyn V (1247 - 1271) Grantebrú[7]Harold IV (1271 - 1280) Jórvík[8]Sweyn V Restored (1280 - 1281) Grantebrú[9]Harold IV Restored (1281 - 1283) JórvíkUlf IIUlf II (1283 - ) Jórvík Add a photo to this gallery===GrantebriansEdit=== The following people were affiliated with the Grantebrian (House of Grantebrú) faction for an extended period of time, or were directly opposed to the rival House of Jórvík. Named for the Jarldom of Grantebrú, the largest holding of the dynasty's founder, Christopher I, the House of Grantebrú held the throne of England for the majority of the War of the Axes. Following Christopher I's usurpation of the throne from Harold III Hereford in 1229, the Grantebrians held the throne until Sweyn V's abdication in 1271. Sweyn V's reign was plagued with his bouts of mental illness and general mental instability, allowing for the break down in authority to escalate. Throughout the war Sweyn V served as a figurehead for a number of regency governments, and was used as a brokering piece for which ever faction could capture him, thus securing the throne via regency for themselves. The Grantebrians permanently lost the throne after Sweyn, aside for his restoration of a few months in 1280 to 1281 by Gudmund Anker, with the Jórvíkists under Harold IV and his descendants ruling England to the end of the war.

  • Christopher I, King of England, Jarl of Grantebrú - Widely considered to be the first Grantebrian king of England, Christopher I was appointed Jarl of Grantebrú by his father Harold III, and served as regent to Sweyn IV as the king's uncle. During the Treaty of Konsby negotiations with Francia, at the end of theTwenty Years' War, Christopher helped arrange for a desirable outcome to the war, however Sweyn IV later ended his uncle's regency in 1223. After being banished by the king in 1228, Christopher returned to England the following year and successfully uprooted Sweyn from London, seizing the throne for himself. As Christopher I the king spent much of his reign attempting to pacify England, before his untimely death in 1239 from illness.
  • Harthacnut III, King of England, Jarl of Kent, Greve of Suðseax - As the son of Christopher I, Harthacnut III succeeded his father upon his death in 1239. Harthacnut was challenged by Sigurd, Jarl of Gloiuborg, who as the grandson of Sweyn III, and nephew of Harold III, had a greater claim to the throne of England than Harthacnut did. At the conclusion of the so called Stratford Plot, Sigurd died in captivity in 1242, leaving Harthacnut in control of the kingdom. During Harthacnut's reign England saw a vastly unsuccessful invasion of Francia, including an unsuccessful attempt with Alfvin II, Jarl of the Five Boroughs to take Brittany, however did manage to take the port city of Calais, which was held by Gudmund Anker after the war. In 1247 Harthacnut III fell ill while in Guyenne and died, leaving the throne to his underage son Sweyn.
  • Sweyn V, King of England (1263 - 1281) - As king throughout much of the War of the Axes, Sweyn V's weak and ineffective role played a major part in the development of a devastating civil war. Sweyn V was noted as suffering from numerous bouts of mental instability and disability, making him unfit for the throne during a period of instability. Additionally Sweyn's rule was dominated by powerful regents, such as Guthrum, Greve of Suðseax, and by his overbearing and manipulative mother, Margaret of Anjou. During the outbreak of the war, Sweyn was challenged by Ulf, Jarl of Jórvík, and was captured by the jarl after the Battle of St. Albans in 1264. The battle left the regent Guthrum dead in the field of battle, and the victorious Ulf was appointed his replacement. After Ulf's second dismissal on the orders of Margaret of Anjou, war broke out in the north, with Sweyn V personally appearing in full battle armor at the Battle of Karlakr, heavily demoralizing the enemy Jórvíkists. After Ulf's death his son Harold, later Harold IV, pressed his claim to the throne created by the Act of Accords, and Sweyn V fled England to Scotland in 1271. Sweyn was later restored to the throne of England in 1280 during Anker's rebellion, but less than a year later Harold IV retook the city of London and had Sweyn again imprisoned. Sweyn died in imprisonment soon after, succeeded by his mother Margaret and his son through Gytha of Mercia, Harold.
  • Margaret of Anjou - As Queen Consort of England to Harthacnut III and mother of Sweyn V, Margaret of Anjou served as the often unofficial head of the Grantebrian faction, and was one of the main instigators of the War of the Axes. She served as one of Sweyn V's regents and main advisers, having Ulf of Jórvíkdismissed and many of his allies detained during the early years of the conflict. After the ascension ofHarold IV to the throne, Margaret fled with her son Harold Sweynsson to Scotland and arranged for an alliance with the Scottish king, beginning a second phase of the war. When the Scottish alliance proved unsuccessful, Margaret next fled to the Kingdom of Francia, where she married the elderly Eric II, Duke of Guyenne, turning England's French territories against the Jórvíkist kings. Margaret participated in Gudmund Anker's rebellion, marrying Harold Sweynsson to Anker's daughter Erica in 1280. Margaret again fled England, this time to Einar Anker's court in Picardy, where Harold Sweynsson made his own preparations for invasion against Ulf II, alongside Christopher of Kent. After Ulf II retook London Margaret was captured and executed.
  • Guthrum, Greve of Suðseax, Thegn of Fjallborg - Norwegian-born nobleman and son-in-law of Christopher I of England, through his daughter Sophie. Became Christopher's chief military adviser following the deposition of Sweyn IV, and during the reign of Harthacnut III served as the senior most member of a royal-aligned council of lendmenn. Following Harthacnut's death Guthrum attempted to seize the position of regent for the young Sweyn V, despite objections from such nobles as the Archbishop of Canterbury, Peder Erlandsen, who supported Sweyn's cousin Eric II, Jarl of Guyenne. The regency was divided between Guthrum and Gunnvör, Thegn of Æglesborg, who Guthrum had arrested in 1254 and killed to secure his own rule. Guthrum would later serve as the head of the Grantebrian faction, after his overhanded regency was threatened by Ulf, Jarl of Jórvík, who had Guthrum temporarily imprisoned in 1263. At the Battle of St. Albans, Guthrum would be killed in battle, allowing Ulf and his supporters to seize the city of London, a series of battles largely considered to be the start of the War of the Axes.
  • Godric, Thegn of Rafenbrú - The son of Alfred of Rafenbrú, one of the key lendmann in opposition to Sweyn IV. 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. Godric served as the head of this army, alongside 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.
  • Erlend Ellbrecht, Thegn of Fólkesteinn - A major supporter of Guthrum's administration, and one of the regent's main military advisers and commanders. Erlend was present at the Battle of St. Albans.
  • Sverre of Reinford
  • Oliver Einhendr of Vikstaðr
  • Edvin Daa
  • Einar of Stafford
  • Fritjof, Thegn of Suðrvǫrn
  • Harold, Thegn of Sandvik
  • Harold Sweynsson
  • Christopher Estridsen
  • Thorgil II, Jarl of Mercia
  • Halle of Croyland
  • Niels of Djúra-bý
  • Olaf Juul, Jarl of Kent
  • Ralph Blár, Jarl of Grantebrú, Greve of Petersborg
  • Abel Estridsen
  • Rolf, Jarl of the Five Boroughs
  • Frey Rolfsson, Greve of Rutland
  • Eirik Guthrumsson, Greve of Suðseax
  • Thorgil, Thegn of Fjallborg
  • Einar Anker
  • Eystein Anker

JórvíkistsEditEdit

The following people were affiliated with the Jórvíkist (House of Jórvík) faction for an extended period of time, or were directly opposed to the rival House of Grantebrú. Named for the Jarldom of Jórvík, the house's stronghold under Ulf, Jarl of Jórvík, early commander in the War of the Axes and father of Harold IV, the House of Jórvík seized the throne for the first time in 1271 from Sweyn V. For the next several years Harold IV and his descendants battled with Sweyn's supporters and his relatives, who included Sweyn's capable son, also named Harold.

BackgroundEditEdit

First Lendmenn WarEditEdit

For much of the early thirteenth century England was at war with Francia, through the Twenty Years' War, however England had for the most part been forced out from a number of their continental possessions. 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 farther 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.

State of the RealmEditEdit

Disputed SuccessionEditEdit

Reign of Sweyn IVEditEdit

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 farther 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.

Reign of Christopher IEditEdit

Sweyn abdicated in 1229, and Christopher was declared King of England. Christopher immediately demoted many of Sweyn's supporters, and by the end of 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.

Reign of Harthacnut IIIEditEdit

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 farther 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.

Sweyn V's PhaseEditEdit

Outbreak of WarEditEdit

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.

Ulf's RebellionEditEdit

War in MerciaEditEdit

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 farther 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.

Return from ExileEditEdit

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.

Act of AccordEditEdit

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.

Mercian Civil WarEditEdit

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

Ascension of Harold IVEditEdit

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.

Guyenne WarEditEdit

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 farther 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.

Anker's RebellionEditEdit

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.

Guyenne Civil WarEditEdit

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

Ascension of Ulf IIEditEdit

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.

Mercian Capture of JórvíkEditEdit

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.

Second Lendmenn WarEditEdit

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.

Tamworth UnionEditEdit

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.

Lowland WarsEditEdit

First Flanders-Brabant WarEditEdit

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.

War of the Limburg SuccessionEditEdit

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.

Second Flanders-Brabant WarEditEdit

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.

Harold Sweynsson's InvasionEditEdit

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.

Sweyn VI's PhaseEditEdit

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.

Haakon's RebellionEditEdit

In 1298 the first major rebellion against Sweyn's rule broke out in the Jarldom of Jórvík, where the brother of the late King Ulf II, Haakon, was proclaimed king counter to Sweyn's regime in the south. Haakon's aunt Margaret, who had been wed to the Duke of Burgundy, Robert II, arranged for foreign support for her nephew, and enemy forces and mercenaries marched on Picardy concurrent to the rebellion in England. The Burgundians were convinced that the regime change in England would favor France over Burgundy, creating a potential risk to Burgundy's power in Europe. Additionally the English territories in the Lowlands were desired by the Burgundians. Robert led the Burgundian army and various Lowlander mercenaries in the Siege of Aumale, prompting Sweyn to begin preparing an army in southern England to counter the attack.

In the north Haakon rallied the support of Bamburgh and Cumberland, who had been heavily targeted by Sweyn and the Grantebrians before him. Following the death of Erlend Alfvinsson that year, Randolf was crowned Jarl of the Five Boroughs. Although Randolf had a similar claim to the throne of England, and was a member of the House of Hereford much like Haakon, Randolf was secretly aligned to Sweyn and his Grantebrian allies through his marriage to Ragnfrid Blár, daughter of Ralph, Jarl of Grantebrú, but appeared to be in favor of Haakon initially. Haakon won several minor victories in the north while mobilizing his forces, before meeting a small English army at Rotherheim. Largely consisted of northern loyalists and Mercians, the English army was commanded by Godric of Blackpool, while the Jórvíkists were led by Haakon personally.

In the ensuing battle Godric was decisively defeated, forcing him to flee south. The victory caused morale to rise among Haakon's men, and many in England began to expect a possible Jórvíkist restoration. Haakon hastily marched south to take advantage of his victory, meeting up with Randolf at Nottingham. The Jórvíkists set forth for Coventry, where Sweyn was garrisoned and raising his forces. At the same time Ralph Blár and the army of Grantebrú marched south, trapping Haakon on two sides. Sweyn vacated the defenses at Coventry and met Haakon on the field of battle, luring the Jórvíkists into battle. Haakon charged into battle, at which point Randolf and the men from the Five Boroughs defected, surrounding Haakon on all sides. Haakon and his men were slaughtered, ending the chances of a Jórvíkist restoration by the line of Harald IV.

Haakon's had one son, Cnut, who Sweyn spared. As part of the ensuing peace however, Guthrum Anker, grandson of Brynjarr, Greve of Bedford, was appointed Thegn of Skarðaborg and designated Cnut's regent. This was in part to have Cnut grow up as an ally of the Oxeborgs, rather than a rival to their throne. This also placed a trusted ally in a powerful position in the north, securing their allegiance for the time being, and allowing Sweyn to keep a close eye on the north of the kingdom. Eric Christophersson, Jarl of Kent, another Hereford and distant claimant to the throne though Sweyn III, was rewarded for his neutrality in the conflict, which was partially forced through by pressure from nearby Oxeborg Wessex.

In the Lowlands the English were initially less successful, as Robert II of Burgundy won the Siege of Aumale and captured its Einar's son, Charles, Count of Eu. Einar organized the English effort from Abbeville, while in early 1299 a second English army arrived in Calais under Halfdan Oxeborg, Greve of Berkland, reinforcing the small garrison under Erling Jarmflotnar of Calais. Robert marched toward Abbeville from Aumale, hoping to decisively defeat the Picards before English reinforcements could arrive. Halfdan and Erling managed to arrive to relieve the siege, and despite being outnumbered opened up an attack against the Burgundians. In the ensuing battle outside Abbeville Robert would be defeated. Rather than continue the costly campaign against the English, Robert eventually sued for peace.

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