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Timeline of Events

 

1066 William the Conqueror (a.k.a. William the Bastard) invades England and becomes king.

When King Edward the Confessor of England died in 1066 he left no children. The chief English claimant was his brother-in-law, Harold Godwinson; another powerful contender was his cousin Duke William of Normandy. Edward may have promised him the throne in 1051; and William had strengthened his claim by persuading Harold (possibly by a trick) to swear loyalty to him. On Edward’s death, the English Witan (council) elected Harold king. For some months Harold kept his army ready to repel a Norman invasion. But then he had to go north to beat off an attack by his brother Tostig and King Harald Haardraada of Norway whom he defeated at Stamford Bridge. Immediately after the battle, he heard that William had landed in Sussex. He and his bodyguard hastened south and raised fresh, inexperienced troops. They met the Normans at Senlac, near Hastings; Harold was killed and his army defeated. On Christmas day 1066, William the Conqueror was crowned in Westminster Abbey. William now carried out a systematic campaign to subdue the rebellious Saxons. He confiscated large estates and bestowed them on his followers – taking care to give them small areas scattered over the kingdom to prevent them from becoming too powerful. All landowners, great and small, swore loyalty directly to him. William commissioned the Domesday Survey to assess the monies and properties in England of the time in order to develop the appropriate taxes for the crown. It was completed in 1086.

1087 William II, Rufus, becomes King of England.

            Quarrels with brother and et cetera go here.

1096 Following an appeal by Pope Urban II to free the Holy Places, the First Crusade begins.

The Crusades which began in 1096 and lasted until nearly 1300 gave a great opportunity to the idealistic knights of Christian Europe. For many, the legends of romance and chivalry could come true in battle against the Saracens (i.e. Muslims). A number of special orders of knights were founded, pledged to liberate the Holy Land from the infidels (i.e. followers of Islam), and to protect Christian pilgrims. The first was the Order of St. John, founded in Italy in 1080 and officially recognized and approved in 1113 by the pope. The Knights Hospitallers, as they were called, were dedicated to guarding a pilgrim hospital, or hostel, in Jerusalem. The Order of Knights Templars, founded in Jerusalem in 1119, was formed especially to fight the Crusades. It’s name came from the fact that the knights had their headquarters on the site of Solomon’s Temple.

1098 Crusaders defeat Saracens at Antioch.

1099 Crusaders capture Jerusalem and Godfrey of Bouillon is elected King of Jerusalem.

1100 Henry I becomes King of England.

William II Rufus was accidentally shot with an arrow by a knight named Walter Tirel while on a hunting expedition in the royal forests with his brother Henry I. Henry immediately went to Winchester and seized the royal treasury and three days later had himself crowned king. Interestingly enough, Tirel received a reward in lieu of a punishment for accidentally killing the king with his faulty marksmanship.

1104 Crusaders capture Acre.

1106 Henry V becomes Holy Roman Emperor. Henry I defeats his brother at the Battle of Tinchebrai.

            Henry I imprisons his brother Robert. Robert remained imprisoned until his death 28 years later.

1106 Louis VI becomes King of France.

1114 Matilda, daughter of Henry I of England, marries Emperor Henry V.

1120 William, heir of Henry I, drowns in a shipwreck.

1125 Lothar of Saxony is elected Holy Roman Emperor.

1127 Henry I secures the pledges of barons to accept Matilda, or any son she might bear, as his heir to the thrown.

1129 Matilda, widow of Henry V, marries Geoffrey the Handsome, Count of Anjou, nicknamed “Plantagenet”. (This nickname comes from wearing a sprig of broom, planta genista, as a badge.)

1133 Henry II is born to Matilda and Geoffrey.

1135 Matilda has her husband pursue acquisition of the dowry promised her (a number of castles) and upon her father’s refusal a small-scale frontier war breaks out. Henry I’s armies triumph. However, in December he dies of indigestion/food poisoning from eels. Stephen of Boulogne seizes the thrown of England on his uncle’s, Henry I, death.

1137 Louis VII becomes King of France.

March Stephen leaves for Normandy and forms an alliance with King Louis of France.

May Normandy is invaded by Geoffrey of Anjou. Two-year truce is negotiated by Stephen but he loses support of Norman barons who dislike him and his Flemish mercenaries.  

August Payn fitzJohn, Sheriff of Herefordshire, dies. His de Lacy inheritance is disputed between Gilbert de Lacy, Geoffrey Talbot II, and Celia, wife of Roger fitzMiles. Stephen grants the inheritance to Celia.

November Stephen returns to England leaving Normandy to Earl Robert of Gloucester.

 

The campaign begins in January of 1138 A.D.

 

Background Material

Some things that players should keep in mind are:

 

Religion: England is Catholic during this period and Catholicism is the dominant form of religion throughout Europe. “Pagan” rituals, rites, and beliefs were regulary commingled into Catholicism during the Middle Ages as converted groups kept some old ways and mixed them with the new ways. Tithes were very prevalent during the Middle Ages. The church held considerable influence in the period and often warred with secular rulers for dominance.

 

Education: During this period almost all education is either done at the monasteries or by private tutoring from church trained persons. The church is the only source of reading, writing, and “civilized” arts.

 

Language: Three primary languages should be kept in mind for this period. Middle English is the native tongue of English born characters. It is the only language known to lower class citizens. French is the language of the royal court and spoken by those of elite (read noble) rank for social and business meetings. Latin is the language of the church and all official documents (religious and secular) are written in it. All religious ceremonies are conducted in Latin.

 

Armor: Armor is a sign of rank in this period and is one of three types. Chain hauberk, scale armor, and reinforced leather. For the most part, if your character isn’t a knight, then chain is out of the question and the best you’ll probably be able to obtain, if any at all, would be leather armor. The following can give you guidelines to a typically outfitted warrior for the period:

 

            Early Norman Knight: sword, knife, kite shield, sleeved knee-length mail coat, helm with nasal guard, and spear if mounted. Possibly lance if cavalry.

Crusader Knight: sword, knife, medium heater shield, sleeved knee-length mail coat, mail coif, mail gloves, mail leggings, sometimes a pot helm or great helm. Mounted knights would use a small heater shield and maybe a lance.

Men-at-arms: spear, pike, or sword, knife, kite or medium heater shield, sleeved knee-length leather or mail coat depending on status, and a pot helm.

Archer: shortbow, longbow or crossbow, knife or short sword, normal clothing. Possibly leather armor and a leather cap.

 

Herbalism: The best form of medicinal help during the period.

 

Coinage/Money: The only coin that was minted and used in transactions was the silver penny. However, shillings (12 pennies), pounds (20 shillings), and silver marks (160 pennies) existed in financial notations for record keeping. Silver pennies weighed around 22 grains. (It took around 320 silver pennies to make a pound in weight.) A knight could be hired during this period for roughly 8d per diem. (d = denarius or penny, s = solidus or shilling, and l = librum or pound) Gate guards or wall watchmen were paid about 1d per diem.

 

Law/Courts: The legal system was complex and often overlapped in jurisdictions and traditions. Hundred courts dealt with local matters and were run by Reeves. Shire Courts were run by the Shire Justices. Royal Justices managed cases relevant to the king. The Chief Justiciar acted in place of the king when the king was away in cases. Often times, the courts charged fees which can best be described as bribes in order to hear a case or obtain a necessary writ or warrant. The four basic penalties to be handed out were outlawry, blood-feud (wronged party could take vengeance as they saw fit), fine or mutilation, reparations (to be agreed upon by the parties).

 

Royal Forests/Hunting/Forest Laws: Royal forests were established in Saxon times and greatly expanded and enforced during Norman times. Henry I was notorious for heavily enforcing forest laws and upon his death there was a violent and indiscriminate slaughter of beasts in the forests to send the signal to the next king the populace’s discontent. Stephen disafforested some of the lands in 1136, but still considerable forest land existed. The laws forbid killing deer or beasts of the chase, destroying their cover or pasture land. Clearings or encroachments in the forests could be heavily penalized by fines or forfeitures of land for the rich and corporal punishment to the lower classes.

 

Sheriff: The sheriff was the main local governmental agent of the crown during the Norman period and carried out the crown’s administration. Often the sheriff held land as a gift from the king. The sheriff was to collect taxes and levies, apprehend criminals, and pronounce the King’s writs. Often the sheriff delegated these tasks to ministri (personal agents of the sheriff) such as deputy sheriffs, under-sheriffs, or hundred reeves.