Shields of Vindashire

Written By: Stephen Dove - Feb• 07•14

In my last post, I mapped the area of western Albion between Netherford and Cantorbridge that Dave Morris has dubbed Vindashire. Note that I’ve updated the map from last week, and there are a few changes; so you might want to download it again.

This week, I have been creating the coats of arms for the important families that hold most of the land in this area. I have written about the amazing use I have had out of heraldic symbols and family trees in my games elsewhere, but I consider them essential; especially in a game involving Knights or those of noble birth. I hope you get as much use out of them as I will.

The Westring family are something from Dave Morris’ own game, and so they could not be ignored, but the rest are of my own invention, as are most of the shields below.

Arms of Vindashire copy]

The Westring Family

The Westrings have holdings all over Vindashire, but their main hold is Mountly Castle, just outside the town of Westring. The Westring family motto is ‘Honor before all‘ and they are a prideful and rather sanctimonious lot, who regard the current crop of sycophants that surround the King, with disdain. But they reserve a special brand of hatred for the Talbots, with whom they have a long running feud stemming from the Talbot’s part in the destruction of the Neville family.

The Westrings are out of favour with king HadricĀ  after protesting too strongly over his treatment of the Neville and Fitzwilliam dynasties (see later) and so have been careful to do nothing to draw the King’s ire in recent years. Marcus Westring (eldest son and heir) is a famous tournament Knight and is still commands some respect at Court. The Westrings are also in dispute with the Archbishop of Cantorbridge over hunting rights in Otley Chase, though as neither has the King’s ear these days, the dispute is unlikely to be resolved in the near future. The Bishop of Netherford, Lord Vulnifex is the Marquess of Westring’s brother (according to Dave M).

westring holdings1

The De Lacys

The De Lacy Family are the second great landowners in Vindashire, holding most of Bishops’ Landing, Gullsgarth and Frith. They are related to Old King Athelstan’s family; from whom Hadric’s father usurped the throne, and so their star has been waning for the last fifty years. Hadric has ruled against them in a number of land disputes with the Abbot of Clee and they have lost much land, prestige and money in the last decade or so.

Traditionally, the De Lacys were shipbuilders; half the Kingdom’s Fleet was built here in days gone by. Indeed some fine cogs are still made in their docks at Bishops’ Landing; though it is a trickle of work besides the flood of ships that once poured off the beach below the town. Nevertheless, Bishops’ Landing is still an important port and many ships still call here; especially ships from Ereworn and Cornumbria.

Now Lord John uses his skills to build merchantmen, which then ply the trade routes between Albion and Chaubrette; for the De Lacys are also famous for the cider from their vast orchards that surround Gullsgarth, and the nobility on the continent cannot get enough of the stuff. This has arrested their decline, albeit only a little, but they remain hopeful of better times.

Being ‘old money’ they are natural allies of the Westrings against the rapacious Talbot Family, and are also enemies of the monks of Clee Abbey. Their Abbot constantly writes letters to the De Lacys and to Archbishop Beckett denouncing the ‘pagan worshipers infesting Frith’ though his real grudge is because of more temporal matters; the Abbot of Clee was a Talbot before he took the cloth! Lord John despises him and his family and is seeking for a way to right the wrongs done to him and his kin without involving the King. Their motto is ‘Rule by Divine Right‘.

The Talbot Family

The Talbots are sycophants of the King and have his ear, as they loudly remind everyone they meet. They gained the King’s favour by denouncing several families as ‘traitors to the crown’ and it probably helped that the King owed the Fitzwilliam and Neville families a great deal of money and was able to cancel his own debts once their ‘perfidy’ became known. The Talbots somehow acquired their wealth and titles and most of the Nevilles were hanged; before that they owned a minor holding on the edge of Neville land’s. The Talbots currently wield a great deal of influence at court; but by no means as much as they think, such is Hadric’s short memory. Indeed, they are sailing very close to the wind, though Edmund Talbot is too foolish to realise this.

The Talbots are loathed by most right thinking and honorable families in Albion; but especially by the Westrings, who had excellent relations with the Nevilles. Few would openly admit to this hatred though; for these upstarts do wield power ‘at least until the wind changes’ runs the common proverb these days. The Talbots are rapacious, violent and willing to lie, cheat and intimidate to get what they want, which is pretty much anything their eye falls on. They have caused serious trouble in the shire; raiding cattle, imprisoning pilgrims and thumbing their nose at Archbishop Beckett of Cantorbridge, and it is only a matter of time before there are serious consequences. Indeed, there are whispers that the wedding of Hugh Talbot to Catherine De Courcey occurred after he had raped the poor girl, leaving the De Courceys with no say in the matter. The Talbot family motto ‘Victory is sweet‘ sums them up quite well.

One of their number, Matthew Talbot, was installed as Abbot of Clee ten years ago and he is busy using his influence to enrich his former family and his own coffers and move against those who are weak or who stand in the way of the Talbots. His current targets are the De Lacy family, as he suspects them of harbouring heretics and pagans in Frith and is seeking evidence to bring before the King, who already hates them because they are a constant reminder of his Father’s misdeeds.

The Talbot family currently holds the old Neville family ancestral lands around Waterford, including Waterford Castle itself. They also have manors in Barrow and Kenit that belonged to the Fitzwillam family. Indeed, they have recently been accused by the Abbot of Maiden Priory, of hiring ne’er do wells to rob the pagan tombs on Maidenmoor; an accusation they strongly deny! There are also rumours that they have organised raids to set the other great families against one another, and The Merrow Lord in particular is convinced of their involvement.

The Merrows

It has often been observed that a name was never more ill-bestowed than that of Merrow, for the name means ‘one who is merry’ and that is not something to associate with this dour family. Their family motto ‘We are stone and shall endure‘ seems to personify their fatalistic and ill-humored attitude to life.

The Merrows have held Ayelsham Castle, and protected the Royal Forest of Ayelsham for two centuries. The Albish King has enjoyed a hunting lodge in the Forest for almost as long as Albion has existed as a nation. The Merrow’s verderers are hated and feared by the locals; not a few of whom have lost a hand for killing the King’s deer in the midst of a lean year.

The current Merrow Lord, is the aging Robert Merrow, but he has lost none of his fierceness nor his stubborn pride. His sons, William and Edvard bait each other and snap at his heels, like hounds kept too long on the leash; they are straining to attack the Scarth family, whom they suspect of raiding their horse studs, but Robert wants proof before he’ll give them their heads. The wily old man suspects that the Talbots are behind the recent midnight raids and are out to stir up trouble, but his sons are less wise and are already making plans of their own…

The Merrow-men are a fierce lot, who like to drink and hardly ever speak or smile. They have always been staunch supporters of the King; without any regard for who is actually wearing the crown and consequently, the King’s Champion is often a Merrow-man. Even the paranoid King Hadric could never conceive of a Merrowman betraying him, for to him they ‘lack the imagination to even think of it’.

Famous for the horses they raise, one uncharacteristically enterprising Merrow brought back some stallions from the Crusades many years ago and crossed them with Elleslandic stock. The resulting horses are highly prized and fetch a fortune at horse fairs the length and breadth of Albion. The Merrowmen use these powerful steeds to hunt, for most of them seem bored when not in the company of horses and hounds. Indeed they themselves have permission to use the Royal Forest and take full advantage of it, hawking the day away whenever they can.

Yet a storm is brewing; for there are rumours that the King has taken Alice Merrow, the eldest Merrow daughter, to bed and if he does not wed her, then this clannish group are unlikely to take it well. Indeed, anyone in Ayelsham will remind all those who care to listen, that the Merrows started a rebellion in 675; and all for the honour of one of their womenfolk. Hadric seems blissfully unaware of the danger, whatever the truth of these whispers.

Next week; more politics in Vindashire as we look at the other families, their holdings and their relationships.

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