See history

All law and all property ownership in England stem from the person of the monarch. With Henry II dead leaving no named heir, and no obvious candidate still in England to claim the throne and be officially crowned, the country has fallen into mayhem. The only law now is that of armed might and the petty knights and remaining barons are arming themselves and fortifying their lands against their neighbours. The Welsh and Scottish have started raiding the border lands again and there are rumours of military movement in both Ireland and France.

The country is tense and untrusting. Robbers and outlaws have left the Wilds and are setting up camps on the roads. Malicious Fae and their creatures can be spotted lurking in fields below villages at night. With no official hunts, the Knights of St George are thinly stretched to deal with new terrors and children are now being snatched from hovels in broad daylight.


Henry I left several possible contenders for his throne. While his favourite was known to be John, he died too suddenly to officially name an heir. Traditionally, the eldest child of the monarch has succeeded, but that is by no means a rule – merely a custom – and any of the following could have a claim to the throne: Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, their surviving children, Richard, Geoffrey and John, or his mistress Alais, sister of Philip II of France.

The royals are remote figures who choose to spend much of their time in France; the following figures are of considerably more day-to-day importance:

’Fair’ Rosamund Clifford

Rosamund was the primary mistress of Henry II. She has no legitimate claim to the throne, no political support, and no power. Yet she, alone of the Norman nobility, has called together anyone interested in discussing the current political situation. With sufficient support, Rosamund could make an effective regent until Eleanor returns, but Eleanor will order Rosamund’s death the minute she returns – along with the deaths of anyone who aided her rival.

Elga Tuck, Archbishop of Canterbury

The 'Fat Friar', Tuck is infamously more fond of a drink than a catechism, and knows more about brewing than the Bible. She's a great philanthropist and reportedly has given away much of the wealth of Canterbury Cathedral to the poor. Certainly the poor of Kent have reason to be thankful for the generosity of 'Sister Elga', but rumours spread that she is looking increasingly worried about the future of her charitable efforts, and certainly the supplies of food, blankets and winter clothing are somewhat diminished in the past year.

Rhiannon of Gorsedd Arbeth

Tutor to Prince John and a restless traveller. Rhiannon is the Fae that the lower classes are mostly likely to have met: she frequents towns, villages, the Wilds - searching for something she lost long ago.

Robert of Locksley

Locksley was outlawed by the Sherriff of Nottingham for charges including poaching the king's deer and murdering Gudreda, Lady Gisborne. Since then he has gathered a motley band of outlaws to his side and taken refuge in the massive Sherwood Forest.

Marion of Matlock Bridge, the Sherriff of Nottingham

While most county Sherriffs have taken advantage of the lawlessness and ruin to increase their finances and power at the expense of the local population, the Sherriff of Nottingham has outdone all the others. She has declared many unlucky landowners outlaw - not least Robert of Locksley - in order to get her hands on their wealth and lands. Any who speak out against her face mutilation, destruction of their crops, and the imprisonment of their families. There is money to be gained from spying for her and bringing her tales of wrongdoers - true or false, Marion cares not, as long as she can claim the riches of the convicted.

Matchi of Exmoor, Sherriff of Torbay

Young Lord Matchi is the last member of an old smuggling family and while he claims to be honest and loyal, his family history is against him. Since the disappearance of his husband Dylan of Powys he has dedicated himself to the promotion of the shipbuilding industry in Devon and Cornwall and promotes peaceful trade with Ireland and France. His sworn enemy is Sister Eustacia, who once captured or sank three of his ships in one week.


Lincolnshire is the great home of the wool trade and has good links with the Continent. Although recently it has suffered somewhat from piracy, it is still one of the richest areas of England. The country's wealth would probably double if a reliable route free from robbers could be created from Lincolnshire down to the London estuary and from there to France and Spain. The people of Lincolnshire are largely hard-working farmers and merchants and it's no secret that the Mercantile Guild are particularly strong there.

Nottinghamshire is a county of forests, hunts, inaccessible roads over the Pennines, and many, many outlaws. It's a great hunting ground for the Knights of St George and is rumoured to contain many sites sacred to the Old Gods. The people of Nottinghamshire are used to great hardship and many welcome the hard line against wrongdoers taken by Sherriff Marion.

The Welsh Marches are home to the serfs and vassals of the Marcher Lords, Normans placed there for the quality of their warrior vassals who could fend off the invading Welsh forces. Since then, the Marcher Lords have played the Norman English against the Welsh lords, switching sides depending on who was offering the most at any given time. The people of the Marches distrust both Welsh and English alike: many place their trust in the Catholic Church instead.

Cambridgeshire and the Fens is a marshy, forlorn sort of area, with the Isle of Ely the last bastion of civilisation amidst the wilderness. Historically the home of the resistance under Hereward the Wake and dogged by rumours of the actions of Elaine and Galahad, fortune-seekers of all kinds have sought to make their home here, whether outlaw, reward-hunter, or those seeking religious enlightenment. Both saints and Old Gods alike find holy places in the marshy landscape, and in the treacherous bogs those outlaws who know the paths seek out the hiding place of young Hereward. The Fens are teeming with hostile Fae, however - Kelpies and Will-o-the-Wisps are more numerous here than other humans.

East Anglia is the great home of the Freemasons. Though London has historically been of greater importance, the wool trade in East Anglia is taking off and the resulting riches are being used to build churches for the glory of God through the saints rather than building better homes for the poor. John Neville, the Bishop of London, has largely been in charge of the planned new cathedral in Norwich, much to the distaste of the Archbishop of Canterbury. Master Masons of all specialities are being offered work and as a result the area has been rich and successful. The people of East Anglia are among the best-off in the country; unfortunately, rumours of support for the Inquisition among the church-builders have dogged them and their neighbours in Ely are starting to view them with suspicion.

Kent, home of London, the capital city. London is the largest city in England with over 10 000 people living there; as such it attracts thieves, robbers, prostitutes, beggars, troubadours and others who thrive in areas of high population. This unfairly colours the view of many on Kent, which is a respectable shipping district; the ports of Dover and Folkestone are largely inhabited by high-ranking and up-and-coming members of the Mercantile Guild. The glamour of Henry and Eleanor has given Kent some popularity, but it lags behind the French cities in terms of glamour and elegance and since the death of Henry has become a den of iniquity, where, it is said, you cannot walk down your own street without being mugged for a handful of grain or a few copper coins.

The Western Counties of Devon, Cornwall and Somerset have traditionally been the strongholds of smugglers and pirates, and it's said that down there they'll worship and make alliances with anyone willing to grant them power on the open seas. This is smething of a stereotype - by the end of the twelfth century the western peoples are also known for brewing excellent beers, ciders and some wines, for their devout worship of several saints, and for being the only places in England to have officially banned prostitution altogether, with known prostitues of all genders spending many nights in the stocks or pillory for crimes against decency and religion. The Western Counties are at risk of invasion from Ireland, and don't have the military forces or the population needed to repel such an attack. Their hope is in their seacraft and their boats, and in young Lord Matchi of Exmoor, the current Sherriff of Torbay.

Oxfordshire is currently famous for housing the self-styled Queen Regent, Rosamund Clifford, at the Abbey in the little village of Godstow, outside Oxford. It's also getting something of a reputation as a new University has recently been founded. While not in the league of Paris or the centres of Ayyubid learning, the little University of Oxford is the first England has had and the country is largely very proud of it, despite the unfortunate incidents with Judas College. The lower classes in particular wait to see what the Collegium Profanum, the centre of Fae learning, has to offer those of limited means. The people of Oxfordshire are mostly farmers as the soil is fertile and trade links with London have been good, although recent thievery means they are becoming less so. With few natural borders to protect it from enemies and a lot of marshland, Oxfordshire risks becoming another Cambridgeshire, with most civilised people driven away and the land taken over by villains.

Holy Sites

Canterbury Cathedral The most holy place in England for Christians and the home of the Catholic Church in England, also the richest building bar the Tower of London.

Norwich Cathedral This new cathedral has just had the foundations laid; more work is needed to build it as high and as grand as the saints desire. For now, care must be taken that it is not desecrated by heathens, whether pagans or inquisitors.

Stonehenge A great standing stone circle, build by ancient Druids for the glory of the Old Gods. Christians have tried three times to demolish Stonehenge; even when the stones were thrown down and split into two, the next morning the circle was standing again. Whichever god is worshipped there really likes the place - and has a lot of power.

The White Horse of Uffington A carved chalk white horse stands on a hill in Oxfordshire; no matter where you stand, there is no hill from which the entirety of the horse can be seen. Before he died, Henry II had a plan to have the chalk around the horse carved away so as to destroy the pagan carving.

The Flora and Fauna of England

Most of this information is widely available to those who have studied in churches and monasteries, as a detailed study was carried out by the eminent Gerald of Wales, tutor of Prince John.


All hawks are considered the property of the nobility, as falconry is only permitted to those of Norman descent. The nature of the hawk is to cast their weak young offspring out of their nests, that only the strongest should survive. Weaker chicks are easy prey for imps, who rear them to adulthood then tear off their wings that the imps may fly into houses of good Christian folk to sour the milk and steal the children. Of particular note is the eagle, which can endure any temperature and so flies almost into the heart of the sun. The liver of the eagle burns so hot it can digest iron.

Barnacles, called geese

Barnacle geese are a small variety of geese which are born from pine-cones. At first the barnacle appears as an outgrowth on a fir-log as it floats in the water. As the goose develops it hangs by its beak from the weeds clinging to the log, while its body becomes encased in a shell to allow it to fully mature. Over time it will develop feathers, and eventually take flight. Remarkably, during the entire gestation period, it takes all the food it needs from the water and the remains of the pine-cone from which it hatched onto the log.

As barnacles are not born of flesh, it is acceptable to eat them during fast periods.


Small, brightly-coloured birds that live through fishing.

The kingfisher is remarkable for the body does not putrefy upon death. The body of a kingfisher, if kept between clothes, will impart a pleasant fragrance to the clothing. If kept dry, though dead, the plumage will change every year.


Unclean animals prone to biting. The popularity of the game 'Badger in a Bag' has died out since a group of prominent Londoners mistook a Pyewacket for a badger on a dark night.

Badgers who are born to serve, on the other hand, may be safely baited without worrying in case you anger a Fae creature. These badgers are notable for lying on their backs in sets that are being dug. Other badgers pile soil onto their bellies, then drag the serving badger out of the set with their teeth, bringing the soil with it. Twigs can also be placed in the serving badger's mouth for easy removal from the set. Anyone looking to find badgers for sport need only watch sets being redug in the spring to identify several serving badgers in each, which can then be safely removed without fear of loss of limb.

Dangerous animals

“No creature in England is a serious threat to a pure-hearted Christian with a stout stick and a good heart. Trust in the saint to protect you and live in fear of God, not the mindless beasts who share the isle.” Gerald of Wales

If anyone has seen Gerald of Wales recently, Prince John would like his tutor back.

Tales of Folk and Fae

Changeling myths

It is said that the Fae come out of the darkness on the third night after a child is born, steal the baby from the cradle, and replace it with a child of their own. The parents will not know the difference, but the luck of the household will turn. Crops will fail, milk will sour, and beasts will die screaming in the night, with not a mark on them the next day.

The only remedy is to go out into the darkness and bargain with the Fae to swap the children over again. If the deal is good, they will return to you a human child. It might not be the one you lost, but hopefully someone - somewhere - has made a deal and received your child, and they are in caring human hands. It is for their sake that you care for the child you are given by the Fae.

The King of Cats

Small black cats sometimes appear out of burning hearths. One of them is the King of Cats, and if you recognise him he will grow to his full size and protect your house forever - if you can guess his name.


Small, malicious Fae, usually leathery-looking and winged with strange black eyes and sharp fangs. They make good deals in return for fresh human corpses. They don't even mind if the human isn't quite dead already, so long as they're not going to get back up again.

Brownies, Hobs and House-Sprites

Brownies will do work if you leave cream, or bread and honey, out for them - they are usually tied to a house, sometimes against their will, and need to be given something by the owner for their own before they can leave. What they choose to do for that house is their choice, but most will work for monetary rewards, or food, or other favours.

If you once start leaving things out for a Brownie, you must always continue to do so, lest it curse you for forgetting or abandoning it.

Beware Imps pretending to be Brownies.

The Lady of the Lake

One of the Inquisition's early successes, the Lady was bound with fetters of Cold Iron and cast into the depths of Lake Windermere, and since that day has never bothered anyone. Her defeat is the reason the Cumbrians are sometimes willing to shelter or support the Inquisition.

southern_england.txt · Last modified: 2015/10/07 11:40 by gm_jonathan
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