Siege of Bayeaux

By New Year 488, Lady Gwenhwyfar is large with child. Sir Bushey provides a home to Prithy Smith, a refugee blacksmith from Colchester; hiring him to be farrier to the estate and make iron tools for farmers. Also early in the year Squire John, younger brother to Sir Morial and wife of Lord Berkhamstead's daughter, is knighted. Sir John moves from Berkhamstead Castle to Hertford to serve as household knight to Earl Aralyd. To keep him well away from Lord Arawine of Berkhamstead, Earl Hertford entrusts Sir John to the same eschille as his older brother Sir Morial (now led by Sir Rhodri of Bushey.) Lord Arawine shows clear displeasure with this turn and is unwilling to speak or acknowledge anyone in the eschille of his newfound traducer.

Wanting an able guard for the Quinqueroi frontier, Earl Hertford decides it best that Sirs Boxbourne, Cheshunt and Harlow remain at their own manors during the campaign season. Answering the call of Marshal Brastias, Earl Hertford sends Rhys and his local peers to Malahaut to fetch Praetor Syagrius at the first sign of Spring thaw. Our player knights once again travel to Winchester where King Uther holds Pentecost Court. At Winchester, Marshal Brastias reiterates Sir Rhodri's role as eschille leader to accompany Prince Madoc to the continent. Rhodri accepts his duty with trepidation, not having experience as a leader of men in battle.

The player knights fraternize with others of the realm, trying to learn news from the four corners of Logres and progress of the Saxons. Sir Madog, as usual, spends his time with the ladies listening to their gossip. The ladies of the court are split in their appraisal of King Uther's wisdom. King Uther planned to attack King Clovis the Frank. Clovis holds a fearsome reputation and has never been defeated in battle; but, spoils from wealthy lands are welcome in the empty coffers of Logres.

Watching over Sir Madog and the ladies, Sir Morial is approached by Earl Aralyd. The Earl presses his case that Morial should wed soon and produce an heir. The Earl then offers to arrange a marriage to Widow Knebworth or Lady Elaine of Salisbury. Both ladies were in mourning, Lady Knebworth having lost her youngest son to a wet cough over the winter and Lady Elaine's husband dying in mysterious circumstances. Knowing the curse of Knebworth, Morial decides it is better to look into Lady Elaine.

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Damsel Iulia, Copyright C. R. MacTernan
Lady Elaine as yet had no children and Morial would gain a Salisbury estate if he married her. Earl Hertford introduces Morial to Elaine, who sits stonily silent in black and says only what courtesy demands of her. Sensing her distaste, Morial decides he should look elsewhere for a wife. A few delicate questions expose that Lady Elaine's husband was killed fighting a village knave who the lady had taken as a lover. The knave was subsequently hung. This further convinces Morial that Lady Elaine is not a good match. Earl Hertford commands that Morial has a year to find a wife or he will assign one to the young bachelor.

The following day is filled with a raucous hunt, from which our player knights return with a brace of red deer. Sir Rhys returns from Malahaut with Praetor Syagrius to a venison feast. Syagrius and Uther retreat to their own counsel for the evening. Meanwhile, Earl Hertford introduces Lord Shirburn of Rhydychan to his youngest daughter, Diane. To the poignant sadness of Sir Rhys, Diane serves Lord Shirburn for the remainder of Pentecost Court.

The great feast for King Uther's crown wearing was held outside as the weather was clear and fine. Colorful pavilions were set amidst golden foliage outside the bailey walls. Competitions and revelry of all manner were indulged. Sir Morial tests his strength at the caber toss, having the best throw of the day (critical success.) One young damsel by the name of Iulia inquires Sir Rhodri of the name and station of his friend Morial. Rhodri plays up Morial's manly endowments to Damsel Iulia, who is suitably impressed. Iulia also corroborates Earl Hertford's story of Lady Elaine and her scandalous past.

Morial spends the next day in Winchester's scriptorium, where he pours over a magnificent bestiary. Damsel Iulia interrupts Morial's studies and boldly tries to seduce him. Morial resists the young lady's blunt advances, fixing his mind on the task of ridding Lewarewich of the deadly pest Voraxingluvius. Shortly Lady Odstock, Iulia's mother, enters the scriptorium looking for her daughter. At first Morial feels vindicated in his chastity; but, he quickly comes to learn that Lady Odstock approves of her daughter's overtures. This leads to a frank discussion of Odstock holdings and what Morial might gain in an alliance with the family. Morial is convinced of the opportunity and later requests Iulia's hand from Earl Aralyd. The hand is granted and Earl Hertford works with Earl Salisbury over the next year to ensure the marriage is sealed. Finding that Damsel Iulia is but fourteen, Morial plans the wedding for two years hence when the young lady comes of marriageable age.

King Uther emerges from council and decrees, “For the sake of God and my good friend Praetor Syagrius, we will return to the continent and destroy everything that gets in our path. It is a time for all good knights to come to the aid of their king and country!”

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Prince Madoc, Copyright maxisanamefornerds at Deviant Art
Half of all knights and half of all armed footmen of Logres muster to invade King Clovis. Earl Hertford and half his forces gather at Hantonne under the command of Prince Madoc. Mustering takes three days, during which our knights serve in the prince's honor guard. While standing sentry before Prince Madoc's pavilion, Sirs Madog and Rhodri overhear the ongoing council. Voices ebb and flow in conversation. One voice rises loudly and forceful. A second speaks, they laugh. The third is sarcastic. The fourth is angry. Exchanges of anger and sarcasm but no insults. Finally, the nobles are loud enough that they can be heard clearly.

The prince slams his hand on the table and says, “Four weeks or one city, no more.”

The council falls silent. Later Earl Hertford emerges and Sir Madog asks him aside, "My liege, is it not against the king's will? Are we not to free Syagria from the Franks?"

Earl Aralyd flinches. "Prince Madoc's council is not to be shared with…"

Madog us nonplussed. Letting Earl Hertford leave and stepping back to his post, he turns to Sir Rhodri. Rhodri simply responds, "The prince knows the king's mind more than anyone."

The might of the realm boards Logres' navy from Hantonne piers. Fog and foul weather conspire to keep the fleet beached. The stench mounts as manure and detritus litter floorboards. Finally, after three days aboard, weather and tide align so that the boats shove off to make their way across the channel. Late that night land is sighted. Irish kerns quietly go ashore. Fire leaps from first one home and then another. Screams drift across the waves. Eventually torches are waved along the shoreline, sign that all was now safe to sail ashore and disembark.

Rhodri's eschille is among the first ships to unload. The knights find themselves at a fishing village named Pertes. Next morning they take to the saddle with Praetor Syagrius. They were to help Syagrius rally men of Manche to rise against the Frankish conquerors. The company goes as far as the outskirts of Bessin, avoiding conflict but not hiding their ride. In the wastes of Manche they meet knights gone to ground. Sir Belemy, leader of these bandit knights, falls to his knees before Praetor Syagrius and vows to fight Franks unto his last breath. They stay the night in relative safety beside the watchfires of Sir Belemy's rough men.

At Rhodri's advice, Syagrius and his gallic cavalry leave for Odon Valley and loyal Lord Odon. Still well before dawn, Madog and Morial send their squires to spy the village of Bessin and its manor. Should the squires report favorably, Rhodri decides that his eschille (Rhodri, Madog, Morial, Windridge, John, Aragore and Bleger) and Sir Belemy would together take the village as a way station for Prince Madoc to siege Bayeaux. Sir Belemy's men were poorly equipped and most of his knights were without mount. The stable at Bessin could nicely provide many gallic knights a steed with which to ride into battle.

Hugo and Boei, the squires of Madog and Morial, travel together along the cliffs of Manche. They reach the estuary where Bessing slept under a silver sickle moon. The manor house was surrounded by a wooden palisade with two gates, a small northern gate and a larger southern gate. In predawn light the squires made out a lone fisherman tending his net on the shore. The smell of bread wafts through Bessin, betraying a baker busy at his ovens. Eventually a single footman bearing a torch exits the northern gate and disappears among the hovels. Otherwise all was quiet. As the morning sun breaks the horizon Hugo and Boei return safely to camp.

Debating when and how to attack, Belemy's men spy a single horseman flying quickly eastward toward Bessin. Their progress the day before was noted. Fearing warning to Bessin, the knights decide to run down the Frankish rider. Sir Rhodri's steed is once again far faster than any other. He reaches the Frank well before the rest of the eschille. The Frank and Sir Rhodri square off. Rhodri couches his lance. The Frank raises an axe high and charges. Crashing headlong into each other, Rhodri nearly unhorses the Frank. The two lock in combat and Rhodri quickly discovers that the Frankish axeman far outmatches his skill. Rhodri absorbs blow after blow, trying his best to fend off his assailant. The eschille catch up to relieve Rhowydd. The Frank is quickly overwhelmed and left bleeding on the ground.

The scare convinces our knights that they must assault Bessin quickly. That night squires and unmounted gallic knights terrorize the peasants of Bessin. Mounted knights wait secretly along the shore northwest of town. Hearing the screams and cries of the people of Bessin, our knights wait with baited breath. A few squires are sent to throw torches over the palisade at the outbuildings of the manor. A fire breaks out. After some twenty minutes the south gate opens and a cadre of armored footmen emerge to route the gallic knights. At this the mounted knights charge. Half of the mounted knights split off and rush into the open manor gate. The other half take the rear of the Frankish footmen, crushing them under hoof and killing them to a man. It is a massacre. Bessin falls easily to Sirs Rhodri and Belemy. Many horses are gathered, along with small loot and coin.

On the following morning, Belemy wishes to push on and assault Asnelles Castle. Judging a castle siege with thirty knights and no footmen as folly, Rhodri refuses. Instead the men ride the countryside, visiting manor after manor. Those manors that resist them are burnt to the ground, their lords killed and horses taken. Many Gauls rise and join ranks with Sir Rhodri. After three days the group turns back for Pertes, much strengthened by the knights and horses of the Manche and Calvados coasts.

Prince Madoc and Praetor Syagrius are pleased with Rhodri's results and take the army to Bessin. There they march upriver and besiege to the city of Bayeaux. Summer rains drench the besieging army. Mud cakes everyone and everything. Prince Madoc, Praetor Syagrius, Earl Hertford, Sir Brastias and our player knights all wait out the siege on the hill above Bayeaux's northern gatehouse.

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After three days of feints and posturing, Prince Madoc gives signal to attack. Arrow fire concentrates on the gatehouse below the knights. Expendable Irish kerns assault the walls with ladders and spears. First one and then another mounts the city wall. Kerns take the gatehouse and begin to open the city doors. Fighting rages behind the door as it slows to a halt, still half opened. Madoc calls for a charge. Earl Hertford's battalion is first to reach the gate, with Sir Rhodri leading the charge.

The half-opened gate will allow three knights to charge abreast. Sir Rhodri's fleet footed horse rushes headlong into an armored footman with axe and shield. Rhodri rides straight over the footman, lance tearing off a chunk of the man's flesh. Sir Madog takes the left flank, facing a man in cuir bouilli with great spear. The spear glances off Madog's shield and hits him solidly below the ribs. With a thump Madog's wind is knocked out of him; but, he retains his seat and tramples the defender. Sir Morial rides along the right flank, skewering a man with spear point and leaving him vomiting blood against the wooden gate.

Inside the gates a chaos of murderous kerns and Franks struggles in a small, bricked courtyard. Franks have the upper hand and are driving back the Irishmen. Our knights press through the charnel. Earl Aralyd and the knights of Hertfordshire pour in behind. Prince Madoc and King Syagrius, riding with the Hertford battalion, shout to charge the donjon. Rhodri's eschille again leads, horse shoes clapping against cobblestones. Our knights rush headlong down narrow streets. The battalion is broken up as horses try different paths through the maze of hovels and town homes.

Again luck smiles upon the player knights. They are first to reach the courtyard before the donjon. Franks and Gauls loyal to King Clovis pour into the square from alleys and streets on all sides. Few yet stand between the knights and open donjon doors, wide enough for a horseman to duck and enter. Rhodri and the Earl call for another dash across the square. Rhodri and Morial are in front, followed closely by Earl Aralyd and Madog. Six footmen hastily gather to bar the knights' way, three in cuir bouilli with great spear and three in hauberk with shield. The knights try to ride them roughshod. Earl Aralyd and Rhodri trample their men, breaking bones as their horses ride over the hapless defenders. Morial takes an axe squarely to his chest. The force of the blow knocks Morial back over the horse's rump. Morial crashes into the cobblestones and is pounced upon by Franks.

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Copyright AnthonyGeoffroy at Deviant Art
Madog lowers his spear and charges a man in hauberk bearing a sword. Vivid memories of Sir Grays flash before Madog. Grays falls to the kitchen floor, a frankish axe buried in his skull. Tears of rage and pain well up in Madog's eyes. He steels himself for impact, vowing that much Frankish blood will flow today. As Madog closes with the defender he clearly sees the defender's shield arms. They bear Madog's family Tau symbol and colors. He knows not who the man might be; but, clearly they are of the same blood. How could a Roman, loyal follower of Praetor Syagrius and kin to faithful Madog, fight for King Clovis? Madog's senses fail him. The world spins and black closes over his heart. He rears back on his horse, turns, and flees off into the city streets not to be seen again. Madog fumbled a Love (Family) check here as he tried to use his passion to avenge the death of his distant cousin, Sir Grays. Mark took over play of the Earl for the rest of the session.

Rhodri defers to Earl Aralyd, letting his liege kick and ride through the keep's door. Inside is darkness. Men are running hither and fore. Some flee up a side stair to an upper floor. Other's reach for Earl Aralyd's reins. Spear points jab upward at the earl. Earl Aralyd forces his charger inward, knocking over furniture and beating back a throng of spearmen with his sword. The earl slashes in a swirl of metal, doing his all to simply keep the spears at bay and protect his horse. Rhodri pushes in just behind him, barely able to fit his horse into the crowded hall. There Rhodri engages a pair of defenders, one in hauberk and one in leather, trying to bring their attention away from the earl.

Outside, knights continue to pour into the square. Morial gains his squire's horse and rides over to the donjon doors. From his height and position he can poke a spear into the doorway, jabbing at a man trying to bring down Rhodri from behind. Sir Windridge is just behind Morial, jumping of his horse and running afoot into the donjon to help his liege.

Windridge presses inward, trying to save his liege who was now surrounded by spearmen. Both horses skittishly dance from side to side. Footmen do their best to dodge the heaving mass of the horses while still thrusting up spears or swinging axes. Rhodri strikes home with his spear and lays an axeman low. Morial does the same against his spearman at the door. A row of Franks line up just behind Morial's horse, not able to pay heed to Sir Lewarewich while trying to keep the remaining Logres knights in the courtyard at bay . Still the Earl held on, beating back blow after blow with his sword and shield.

One Frankish spearman loses his grip. The spear splinters as it is kicked by the Earl's horse. Reduced to a dagger and shield, the Frank cowers in a corner waiting for a chance to sprint away. Rhodri killed another spearman and Windridge was able to maneuver closer into the hall. The Frankish axeman facing Morial swings wildly, embedding his axe in the donjon door's thick oaken planks. Without his axe, he turns and flees upstairs. The Earl whirls once more, barely able to control his horse in such tight quarters. Rhodri tramples over another spearman. Windridge catches a third man with his sword, plunging it deep into an exposed side. The Frank emits an explosive sound of collapsing lungs in a great cough. Blood splatters the knights and covers the ground in gory rivulets.

Earl Aralyd screams out to the host beyond the door, "Secure the courtyard!"

Morial throws himself from his horse and leaps upstairs. He reaches the landing and kicks at the door slammed closed just before him. The wooden frame jolts inward a hair's breadth before the door snaps back closed from weight on the other side. Morial slowly backs away downstairs.

"Secure the courtyard!" shouts Earl Hertford.

Rhodri and Windridge clean out the rest of the donjon's hall, taking the surrendered Frank by the collar and dragging him out to the cobbled courtyard. Knights of Logres were gathering in mass under Prince Madoc's banner outside. Bayeaux had fallen. Within the hour the donjon submits. Britons sack Beyeaux. The great tapestry guildhalls and shearing houses are plundered. Irish kerns take to the streets pillaging and raping, broaching cask after cask of potent Calvados' distilled liqueur. Throughout the night revelry was punctuated by screams of a local woman in distress or a Frank being tortured and killed. The grisly scene churned until morning.

The noble knights stood above most of the rioting. The richest goods were looted from the church and town houses of the wealthy. Guard was set for higher personages. By midmorning of the following day our knights were once again in the courtyard of the donjon, loitering between duty and wondering when the army would set out for Soissons or Paris. A trumpet blast announces the arrival of Praetor Syagrius, resplendent with a retinue of knights bedecked in Roman gear and the eagle standard of the Empire. Syagrius rides up to Prince Madoc, who walks out of the donjon to greet the gallic king.

Praetor Syagrius rides close to Prince Madoc and dismounts dramatically as his fancy Roman bugler sounds the governor's call. Praetor Syagrius kneels before Madoc and with dramatic voice shouts, “Battle awaits us, Sire! The Franks march on my army at Rouen. Let us meet them and destroy them as your father swore!”

There is a moment of silence.

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Praetor Syagrius Confronts Prince Madoc Copyright nailone at Deviant Art

“We will not,” says the Prince, self-assured. “We have enemies at our borders and traitors in our west. We depart with the next tide.”

Syagrius is dumbfounded. “Your father swore…”

“I am not my father,” shrugs the prince regally.

The praetor seethes a moment, but then rises heroically and cries out, in Latin. “Then Victory to the Honorable! We go, and leave poison behind us.”

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Bayeaux Burns Copyright terezarsm at Deviant Art
Syagrius leaps onto his horse and rides away with his escort. Lord Odon pauses, looking long into Sir Rhodri's eyes with an unpenetrable expression.

"Stay here, lads."

Earl Roderick, watching from nearby, forbids our knights from going with Syagrius if they have such ideas. The army loads ships with loot, horses, knights, and then footmen. Savage Irish kerns torch the city and come aboard as flames sweep the entire waterfront where last night the sailors stole conquered women. The fleet sails home, our player knights burdened with booty and a heavy heart.

When the topic is broached Sir Rhodri responds distantly, "The Prince knows best the mind of the King."

King Uther once again holds Christmas Court at Winchester. Rather than showing displeasure at abandoning Praetor Syagrius, King Uther and Prince Madoc toast each other throughout the winter months. Frankish booty fills Logres' coffers. Losses from the invasion were kept to a minimum. The Saxons were held at bay and Duke Cornwall refrained from any deviltry throughout the year, though clearly the time was nigh to bring the Duke to heel.

In Hertfordshire the year is busy. Beyond war gains in Manche, Sir Bleger marries Lady Obilot of Knebworth. The lady, however, wears black to her marriage from mourning the loss of her oldest son. A 14 year old page at Hitchen, the lad was trampled to death by a panicked charger. Lady Knebworth is now without a male child, leaving any heir produced by Sir Bleger as heir to both Shefford and Knebworth. Earl Aralyd, flush with gold from the invasion, gifts Sir Bleger with 3£ to help rebuild from the string of fires Shefford experienced over the last years.

Lady Morcheidys gives birth to a son, Masog ap Madog. Alas, but Madog does not return from the continent, leaving Morcheidys to care for his three young children herself. Henlow itself fairs well enough this year, paying for upkeep of Madog and his new family. High Wycomb, however, was struck by raiders. Cymric men emerged from the beech forests, taking livestock and burning many peasant hovels to the ground. The people of High Wycomb grumble that their lord is always absent now that Sir Certher passed away and they don't get protection from bandits and rogues. Exacerbating the situation, violent thunderstorms destroyed many of the crops and left the estate 3£ short of what was needed for sustenance of the manor and Sir John. This depleted all of Madog's treasury. Unfortunately, without Madog returning from the continent there was no booty to make up for the losses.

The people of Bushey take pity on Sir Rhodri's flock, bereft of calves still from the prior year. They donate from their own and replenish the landlord's herd. Fondness between the landlord and his people grow. In addition, Sir Bushey hires Hertford masons to cut stone from the Chiltern Hills and bring them to Bushey. He intends to remake his manor hall in stone. The project will take all of 489 to complete; but, Gwenhwyfar and the newborn boys will be much more secure for it.

Voraxingluvius again comes to the lands of Lewarewich, this time with a hunger for livestock. He tramples fields nearly ripe with corn and kills or carries off many goats and cows. Loss of livestock and crops bring 3£ of debt£, which is easily recovered through loot from Bayeaux. Morial also has the foresight to bring vine cuttings from Manche. With the remainder of his booty he hires a vintner to plant vines along the southern hills. His intends to make the fine whites wines of Manche here in Logres and so grow wealthy selling tons. On the other side of Hertfordshire, Morial's younger brother Nai marries Damsel Indeg, young sister to Sir Harlow.

Lastly, Sir Rhys is yet again plagued by Saxons. Fulfilling his duty to Earl Hertford early by recovering Praetor Syagrius from Malahaut, Rhys stayed to defend Boxbourne the remainder of the year. When Saxons arrived he was ready, which was fortunate for many invaders came to Boxbourne with blade and torch. The village itself was set ablaze and some houses there burnt down. The village farrier was killed when his house and barn were burnt to the ground.

Glory Total for 488

  • Morial: 220
  • Rhodri: 200
  • Madog: 132
  • Rhys: 25
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Copyright subedei at Deviant Art

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