Wits

Plot Notes

3 posts in this topic

I will post some notes about the main plot here from now on - might make it easier to get the big picture.

 

Grand Narrative:

In brief: It looks like Stephen Eruditus the Jerbiton Archmage and Stephen Langton the archbishop are conspiring with the king of France to invade England. There used to be a problem to that: No foreign army could invade England while three holy crowns were safely buried. Now one is not.

 

One of the crowns was buried somewhere near Libellus and Long Melford. Edith and Anna's family guarded the crown. Stephen the archmagus manipulated their dad to dig it up. He went off to Tribunal with it.

 

The crown was originally used to crown King Edmund 350 years ago at Bures. Stephen Langton the Archbishop sent Gui with a few monks to Bures chapel to avoid the curse of Saint Edmund for having the crown dug up. There is a chapel there called the chapel of the crown.

 

Now King John has vanished and is believed by many to be dead, and the Archbishop will probably return to England

 

Since the game started the Barons have forced King John to sign the magna carta, and then when he tried to go back on it they rebelled and have raised an army, and John has fled in to hiding or died. No one is quite sure where he is.

 

KIng John has recently lost Normandy, Brittany, and much of his continental lands. He still has Gascony, but really the French are taking masses of Angevin lands from King John. He is desperate to reconquer these dominions of the English crown, before he only has Gascony and Calais left

 

Remeber France is until about ten years ago a tiny little state with claims to a lot of land but no real power, and much of what we called France today is ruled by England

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Courtesy of CJ:

What Arabella finally tells you about Stephen of Jerbiton

 

Arabella says she was originally from a French family, from Compiegne, near Paris. Her father is a knight and High Official at the French Court; she seems cagey about his name. He is known to be part of the Louis the Dauphin's party: there is according to Arabella some tension between Prince Louis and his father, King Phillipe Augustus. Prince Louis is keen to invade England however, as everybody knows. The Pope has forbidden it, and King Phillipe has forbidden it, but Phillipe probably does not mean it. The argument may just be for show.

 

Arabella has no idea - her father put her in a nunnery when she was 12 years old, because of the strange things that happened around her. She saw visions, and had glimpses of secrets she should not know. She was only in the convent a few weeks, before she climbed over the wall and ran away.

 

Finding her self in Paris, she was taken in by the mysterious King of the Beggars, Anacrôn the Grand Coësre. He taught her of the Order of Hermes, and revealed to her that she had The Gift.

 

She was astonished to learn that he, the ruler of the Parisian slums and criminal classes was also a powerful magus, and she terrified of him, feared that he would take her as an apprentice. He did not, instead it seems negotiating with contacts the Royal Court (of France, not Anacrôn's beggars court). Eventually she was introduced to Brother Gui, a special agent for Archbishop Stephen Langton of Canterbury.

 

Stephen Langton was educated at Paris University, and is a personal friend of both Luis the Dauphin and Phillipe Augustus.

 

When he was appointed Archbishop of Canterbury King John went in to a rage, because firstly his preferred candidate for the position was not given it, and secondly because he felt the Pope had conferred a traitor and friend of his enemies upon him as Archbishop. Stephen Langton was forced to flee in to exile - it is after all only about forty years since St. Thomas Becket was murdered on behalf of King John's father, King Henry, no matter how inadvertently.

 

Anyway Brother Gui was an agent of the Archbishop in exile, and was tasked with the special task of delivering a sealed letter from Archbishop stephen Langton to Archmagus Stephen Eruditus of Jerbiton, along with Arabella. He therefore crossed the English Channel and took Arabella to Libellus.

 

On the way the couple became almost friends, though Arabella seems rather dismissive of Brother Gui who is clearly quite impressed by her. She also did not have much time for Edith, who she knew as the jumped up peasant daughter of the head of the guard, ie. a complete nobody of no manners and very plain looks. Arabella does like Anna, but Anna they only really got to know each other whileplotting their escape from Borley convent - an escape bid cut short by your rescue mission - they were going to sneak out the next week, using the secret passage that emerges under the Church.

 

Brother Gui then went off to Bures to set up a chapel with two other monks in the spot where kIng Edmund was croned, and pray for that Saints blessing on behalf of Stephen Langton. Arabella spent seasons studying under Stephen Eruditus of Jerbiton. She was party to his researches of the burial places of the three crowns of Anglia, and knows that while the crowns are all in place no foreign army can ever invade England. She knows Stephen Langton ordered Stephen Eruditus to remove the crowns, all if possible, and that Brother Gui was to offset the Curse of Saint Edmund by building a chapel at Bures on his coronation site to appease the Saint. Stephen Eruditus did not tell her this, and Brother Gui did not even know - the letter was sealed. Now, she just happened to read the letter, ok, she stole it and read it! When Stephen found out, he dismissed her, and had her imprisoned in Borley Convent. She was actually surprised he did not kill her - she knows the archbishop is guilty of high treason!

 

She has pieced the rest together from what Anna told her. Eventually Stephen Eruditus worked out that the Crown was guarded by a local family, and that his guard captain (Anna and Edith's father) was the custodian of the crown. Stephen knew where it was, but for some reason could not manage to dig it up! Eventually he used mental magic to persuade the old man to dig it up - and Anna was horrified and rushed off to join Borley Convent, to try and offset the curse her father had brought upon the family. Edith just got really angry, and her dad - well he was warped by the spells needed to make him comply with the request to dig up the crown, and changed... Arabella can not say how, but she shudders. Of course soon after he was killed by a drake. By that time Stephen Eruditus had travelled to the Stonehenge Tribunal meeting, taking the crown with him. And there Edith tried to make him carry out his promise to her father: that if the digging up of the crown brought ruin upon them, that he would rebury it.

 

Of course Stephen turned Edith in to a mouse instead. :)

 

And of course, I forgot to mention - Arabella is terrified of Taitale, and will not be in the same building as him if she can help it, and appears physically frightened of him. It's start to worry Brother Gui, who has mentioned that maybe folks should not trust Taitale, though he admits he can't get out of Arabella what is wrong - but something clearly is, very badly!

 

The Statue To An Unknown Goddess

 

In the Bazaar District the Alley of the Woven Reeds is a small back lane that suddenly opens in to a tiny yard, named Nine Eyes Court. The yard has a few small broken crates, some rotting fruits, rain barrel, the back door to a rather squalid perfumiers whose garbage oiled here gives the Courtyard a truly bizarre and overpowering if exotic stench, and finally the Statue of the Unknown Goddess

 

The statue stands some six feet tall, and is on a simple plinth, and is made of black marble flecked with golden and green veins. It is the lifesize depiction of a woman with a peculiar headdress, clutching in one hang a flail, and in the other what appears to be a small shepherds crook. The statues arms are crossed, and the flail and shepherd's crook (each about 18" long) are likewise crossed.

 

There are strange symbols in the base of the plinth, and a small fire pit in the centre of the courtyard before the statue, where the rubbish is burned when it builds up too much. The locals, indeed many through out the city call the figure the Unknown Goddess, and legend has it there were once four, one in each quarter. If so, you don't know where they are! It is however traditional for those performing any kind of new construction or renovation to come here, light a fire and burn some fruit or vegetables or bread or grain as as offering to the Unknown Goddess. Folklore says she must never be offered blood or animal sacrifice.

 

Strangely enough the statue as not part of the Pre-Magi city religion once practised in the Temple in the Plaza. Taitale believes that in fact the statutes were destroyed by the priesthood of that old City religion. Momo has heard from the city cats that on certain nights the goddess leaves her plinth and walks...

The Chariot of Calanthus

 

The last High Priest of the City Cult, the old religion that was displaced by the magi's just and benevolent rule, was one Calanthus. He had curiously enough tried to institute Latin rather than Hyperborean as the ritual language, but had discovered a curious fact -- most citizens of the city could not learn Latin, nor any tongue but their own language. Where he learned Latin from is unclear, but it seems likely to have been from his predecessor but one, a High Priest called Baruch the Calculator. Baruch was responsible for the carving on the edges of the disk by each tower -- DCXCIV in large letters. This is simply the number "694" and according to Taitale was the height that the High Priest of the City Cult felt the city was designed to fly at, in feet. Taitale has no idea where Baruch the Calculator came from, but notes he spoke both Greek and Latin, which is very rare as no one born on the city seems to have any ability with languages. There was also in the Library of the Temple a book by Baruch, apparently in Greek, but that is missing, perhaps destroyed when the magi took over the city and purged the Cult.

 

Baruch was High Priest for 143 years; he was followed by Jasaz, how was High Priest for 13 years, then Calanthus, and in the 25th year of Calanthus the magi captured the city. Calanthus apparently owned a fiery chariot, drawn by horses of burning fire, that flew upon the wind. It must have been large, for after the magi seized the Temple Calanthus left, his driver taking him and the last six priest of the city cult to survive in the fiery chariot as it drove off in to the sky. Many say that one day Calanthus will return and seek vengeance.

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TIMELINE, courtesy of CJ:

 

1214

2nd July 1214. Pope agrees to lifting of John's excommunication, which Bishop Eustace of Ely performs on this day.

July 27th 1214 Battle of Bouvines in Flanders http://en.wikipedia....tle_of_Bouvines By this battle John effectively loses control of Brittany and Normandy to France

19th October 1214 King John returns to England.

20th November 1214 50 Barons gather at Bury St Edmunds, and at the high altar of Bury abbey swear an oath to enforce a document they have drawn up to restrict the powers of the King, Magna Carta http://en.wikipedia....f_the_document. This meeting takes place under the cover of a tourney, and the oath is sworn upon the relics of Saint Edmund.

Christmas Day 1214 King John holds court at Winchester, then hurries back to London, fearing rebellion

December 27th 1214 King John arriving in London finds himself faced by the hostile barons, who demand he agrees to their Magna Carta. He plays for time, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, William Marshal and Eustace Bishop of Ely agree to act as guarantors of his intent, and a further meeting with the Barons is agreed for Stamford at Easter 1215.

1215


3rd February 1215 Bishop Eustace dies at Reading. http://en.wikipedia....(bishop_of_Ely)

17th April Good Friday 1215 By Good Friday, 2000 knights plus a large number of other troops have gathered at Stamford with the rebellious barons to meet John. King John, perhaps wisely, remains at Oxford, attempting to gather loyal troops and nobles.

27th April 1215 The barons have arrived in Brackley, Northamptonshire. John sends the Archnbishop of Canterbury and William Marshal to find out their demands, and they return to him with a copy of Magna Carta. John indignantly refuses, asking why they do not just ask for his kingdom, and saying he we will never be their slave.

2nd May to 17th May 1215 The Barons advance to Nottingham and besiege the castle which stays loyal to the King John. Robert FitzWalter http://en.wikipedia....bert_Fitzwalter appointed as Marshal of the "Army of God and the Holy Church" as the Barons call themselves. For two weeks they make no progress, and give up the siege. Robert's standard bearer and several others are shot dead by crossbowmen from the walls.

20th May 1215 The Barons arrive at Bedford, where Walter de Beauchamp receives them cordially. http://en.wikipedia....auchamp_(judge) and joins the rebellion. Messengers arrive from London declaring the city has declared for them.

21st May 1215 Barons camp at Ware, Hertfordshire.

Sunday 24th May, 1215. The Barons enter London peaceably, while the citizens are mainly at church. They place their own men on the gates, and ask the prominent citizens to support the cause. They send out letters to the remaining uncommitted nobles, many of whom come to London to join the revolt. The King, deserted by almost all sends William Marshal to say he will agree to the Magna Carta, to be signed on the 15th June.

15th June 1215 John arrives at "a field between Windsor and Staines" - traditionally said to be Runymede Island in the Thames - with many Bishops. "The whole nobility of England" is present. He signs the Magna Carta http://www.poemhunte...em/magna-carta/ smile.gif is the best account and very accessible... After signing it and agreeing to 25 Barons being appointed to oversee it, and saying he would judge cases arising from it at Westminster on 16th September, John leaves with 7 loyal knights and goes to Windsor. Fearing (further) treachery he flees before daybreak, riding hard to the Isle of Wight, where he immediately sends the Papal Legate Pandulph to Rome to try and get the Magna Carta overturned by the Pope. He sends emissaries to his remaining possessions across the Channel, to raise troops, and orders them to gather at Dover on Michaelmas, October 11th. He has no intention of honouring Magna Carta!

 

King John the Pirate :late June - mid September 1215 Still on the Isle of Wight, though sailing around the Cinque Ports, King John with some loyal knights of Pandulph (Papal Legate and Bishop of Norwich currently on his trip to Rome as John's emissary) becomes ... A PIRATE!... Yes, seriously. he may well have at this time found himself conducting operations or even negotiating a truce with his old friend and enemy Eustace the Monk, http://en.wikipedia....ustace_the_Monk who however declared with the Barons against John. Meanwhile rumours spread that John had renounced his faith, drowned at sea, or was simply missing. Very few knew where he was at this time...

20th June 1215 Simon Langton, brother of Stephen Archbishop of Canterbury elected Archbishop of York. As the brothers were strong supporters of the Barons, King John appeals to the Papacy.

13th July 1215 William de Aubigny was considered a threat to London by the Barons, and had supplied his castle at Belvoir for a long siege. The barons returned to Stamford to celebrate with a great tournament - however FitzWalter suddenly became aware a few loyalist knights and possibly de Augbigney were planning to take London, so the tournament was abandoned on the 14th, before they all returned to London.

21st July 1215 The Stamford tournament having been called off because of a threat to London, it was rescheduled for July 21st at the woods outside Staines, and with the Barons camping at Hounslow. A bear was given by a noblewoman as the main prize! Meanwhile representatives of the Pope arrive summoning the leaders of the barons to make an appearance before the 4th Lateran Council in Rome in November 1215.

20th August 1215 Pope refuses to ratify Simon Langton as Archbishop of York, and his election is declared invalid.

24th August 1215 - as noted above the Pope had already summoned the barons to the Fourth Lateran Council in November, and on the arrival of Pandulph was furious at the rebellion. While John had long been a thorn in the pope's side, he had in 1213 finally repented and by doing homage to the Pope for England and Ireland had made himself effectively a vassal of the Pope - so the Pope saw it as his possession, England, that was threatened! Also, John had taken the Cross, that is agreed to go on crusade, and the Church promises to protect the lands of crusaders while they are away from rebellious vassals and other lords, so the Pope was bound to act. On August 24th he issued a Bull condemning Magna Carta, asserting his right to England, and threatening in very clear terms the rebels who were to make peace with the king, surrender London, likewise renounce Magna Carta and end the rebellion. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury was to act as mediator. Given Stephen's long history or arguing with the King and open support for the barons this was unlikely to work!http://en.wikipedia....Stephen_Langton The Barons were to be excommunicated until they made amends for their acts.

11th October 1215 William de Aubigney finally comes to London and joins the rebel camp - http://en.wikipedia....Earl_of_Arundel and with 140 knights is given Rochester Castle, which the Bishop surrenders without a fight. John has few men left he can call upon now. However John arrives at Dover to find a large force has gathered to support him, coming from Poitou, Gascony, Flanders and many other overseas Angevin possessions. Only one loss, that of Hugh de Boves saddens the occasion -- he had been lost with his ship in a storm that suddenly blew up from nowhere while he was crossing over from Flanders, and his body washed ashore near Yarmouth. King John is deeply angered by this tragedy, and rants and raves all day. Could there be more to it than meets they eye?

The army of mercenaries includes men of Louvain and Brabant, and is described as "an immense multitude". They proceed to besiege Rochester Castle holding out under the latecoming rebel William d'Aubigny.

13th October 1215 Hearing of the Siege of Rochester the barons are forced to act, for they had sworn on holy relics and the gospels they would come to D'Aubigny's defence if he was attacked. They marched as far as Deptford, but a light wind blowing in their faces from the south strangely frightened them, and they turned and returned to London forgetting their oath and leaving Rochester to its fate. Another mysterious incident which may indicate a powerful Auram magus was afflicting both sides?

4th November 1215 Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury is suspended from office by the Papacy for refusing to issue the Pope's denouncement of Magna Carta (see 24th August above) and excommunication of the Barons. The Papal Legates, Pandulph, Bishop of Norwich, and Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester excommunicate the barons instead.

10th November 1215 Walter de Grey, Bishop of Worcester elected Archbishop of York as Simon Langton's election had been declined by the Pope. He was in Rome at the Fourth Lateran Council, where he successfully argued he was not "uneducated" as the Chapter which had refused to elect him and preferred Simon Langdon claimed. This argument cost him ten thousand pounds of silver paid to the Papacy to prove his point smile.gif

24th November 1215 After a long and incredibly bloody siege, when attacks on breaches in the walls and the best efforts of miners have failed, d'Aubigny and his garrison are finally forced to surrender by starvation to John. John orders the execution of the entire garrison, but his mercenary Savaric de Mauleon persuades him mercy is the better option, lest an example be set for when royalist castles are taken. The nobles are committed to dungeons, the soldiers given to the kings solders to ransom, and the crossbowmen are hanged for the slaughter they had inflicted upon the attackers.

28th November 1215 The mercenary Falkasius and the Earl of Salisbury take troops from Rochester and begin to lay waste to the region around London, attempting to force the barons out. The rebel castles at Houslow and Tunbridge are taken by these commanders for the King.

2nd December 1215 Bedford castle having held out for seb days forced to surrender to the King. The Home Counties - those around London - are now constantly harassed and effectively controlled by King John's troops, the barons remaining in London, their situation becoming increasingly desperate.

20th December 1215 On learning of the suspension of the Archbishop of Canterbury and his brother's replacement at York by Walter de Grey, King John marches to St. Albans where a group of English Churchman are read the news and a circular letter distributed to all the churches. Best of all is the confirmation the barons are all now excommunicated!

21st December 1215 John marches his army to Dunstable.

22nd December 1215 John moves to Northampton, burning the homes of his barons tenants, taking their livestock and laying waste to the countryside. Anyone not taking shelter in a church is imprisoned, tortured till they reveal what wealth they had, and held for ransom, until they can pay all their wealth to be freed.

24th December 1215 King John's army arrives at Nottingham, all castles en route having been abandoned by their defenders, and the King having taken the supplies left as they fled and hid wherever they could. The countryside continues to be laid waste by the King, and houses burned, treasures looted and ordinary folks kidnapped and held for ransom as a form of extortion.

Christmas Day 1215 King John holds court at Nottingham, but his mind is intent on continuing to put down the rebellion. It looks like he is succeeding, and many barons must regret joining the revolt.

Boxing Day 1215 King John marches to the Vale of Belvoir, and arrives at Langar, where the castle is faced with the execution of William de Aubigney, their liege lord who was captured at Rochester, or surrender. They surrender. another force marches to the town of Dovington, owned by the rebel John de Lacy, and burn it to the ground on finding the inhabitants have fled. The army shamefully treats women, robs churches, digs up cemeteries, and even tortures priests taken at the altar. No mercy is given, but this laying to wast of the opponents lands is actually very typical of medieval warfare,where pitched battles are rare.

1216

The king now appoints his supporters to ruling over various parts of the country, and sets about ravaging the south. Torture, murder, looting and burning are common, as the king makes his anger felt on the common folk, who hide in churchyards as the only places some of the king's men still respect, doubtless sheltering in the Dominion auras. The Isle of Ely falls and atrocities are carried out there. Meanwhile the Barons continue to remain in London, feasting, drinking and dicing, and are only moved to take action when yet another letter from Pope Innocent III arrives excommunicating them all individually by name.

January 1216 John marches against the Scottish under Alexander II, who had joined forces with the rebels, and they are forced to withdraw. In a desperate situation, the barons (still in London )sent the Earl of Salisbury and Robert FitzWalter to negotiate with King Philip of France, offering Prince Louis the dauphin the throne if he would invade. 24 hostages from the greatest nobles of England were demanded and sent to Compiegne near Paris, and in return the French finally sent assistance.

February 27th 1216 French nobles sail up the Thames and join the barons. The barons hear from Louis he will come on Easter Sunday: to celebrate they organise a joust outside London, where Geoffrey de Mandeville, Earl of Essex is killed accidentally by a French knight when a lance splinters and gives him a mortal wound. He forgives his opponent, and dies amidst great sadness.

April 10th Easter Sunday 1216 Prince Louis had still not set out for England, as the Pope was declaring an invasion illegal, as England his possession and John rightful king and a Papal vassal. Simon Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury has his suspension lifted on the understanding he does not re-enter England until peace has been established.


April 25th 1216 King Philip of France had been forbidden by the Pope to invade England (as a Papal dominion), or to allow his son Louis to. He sent word to the Pope that England was by ancient claim a vassal of his, and that King John had no right to give it away. The assembly of French nobles at Lyons declared that a King had no right to give away his kingdom, or his subjects would be mere slaves.

April 26th 1216 Prince Louis makes an impassioned case to the Papal Legate to France Walo, declaring that King John is under sentence of death for murdering his nephew Count Arthur of Brittany (c. 1210), and had no right to give away England which belongs to the French crown. Furthermore King John after taking the cross as a Crusader had broken his vows by taking French castles, and King Philip had not responded as to do so would be an offence under Church Law. he continued in the same vein, and when the Legate would not be moved remarked that if Walo fell in to the hands of Eustace the Pirate ( a French ally at this time) Louis would not be responsible for his fate - a remarkably blatant threat. The Legate furious, fled immediately.

April 27th 1216 Louis receives permission from King Philip to invade England at a meeting at Melun, France.

 

21st May 1216 Having set out from Calais with a fleet of 680 cogs, and the Eustace the Pirate, Prince Louis invades England landing at the Isle of Thanet. King John has gathered his army at Dover. Battle seems inevitable, but John does not trust that his knights from across the Channel and his mercenaries will not immediately switch sides and join the French, so he instead plans a withdrawal to gather native troops.

22nd May 1216 John decides to abandon Dover castle, leaving it garrisoned by Hugh de Burgh to hold out as long as it can, and retreats first to Guildford, and then as Louis takes all of Kent apart from Dover Castle and advances on Guildford, John falls back a few days later to Winchester. Prince Louis triumphantly enters London. Fortunes have once again reversed, with the Barons and Louis holding the upper hand, at least in the South-east.

June 1216 Prince Philip hailed as king by citizens of London; the barons already have, but many other leading nobles hurry to London to pledge fealty tot the Dauphin. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury ignores his papal orders to stay out of the country and arrives with Louis, and his brother Simon appointed Chancellor of England. Louis opens diplomatic relations with the Scottish King. Simon celebrates mass, and gives the host to the excommunicated barons, apparently with Price Louis' agreement. It seems England has a new French king!

However Walo the legate comes to England and goes to John at Gloucester, where with a large body of English clergy he solemnly excommunicates Prince Louis and Simon Langton. However other churchmen refuse to accept this excommunication of the Archbishop's brother.

Meanwhile Louis lays waste to Kent and Sussex, which fall to the French army. In Sussex however a young yeomen named William refused to swear fealty to Louis, and with a band of fellow outlaws, up to a thousand strong, waged incessant guerilla war on the French forces, killing large numbers and tying down large numbers of troops. Louis however marched to Winchester, taking the city, and across to Marlborough in Wiltshire, which surrendered. Only at Odiham, a tower owned by the Bishop of Winchester, was there a great resistance. The three knights and handful of soldiers within stage a heroic defence against huge numbers of French, and held out for eight days, even managing to capture three French knights. On the eighth day they were granted honourable surrender, and the French treated them well as men of undoubted heroism. The total garrison of the tower which had taken Louis over a week to take was just thirteen it was revealed, and as stated, only three of them knights! Only Windsor and Dover castles held out against Louis now, and the barons had moved through Essex and up through Suffolk, ending all royalist resistance.

King John was garrisoning and provisioning Devizes, Bristol, Corfe and other key castles that prevented Louis further advance in to the South-west, which remained royalist. The short distance between Devizes and Marlborough separated the two armies: John still avoided battle however, for fear his mercenaries would turn traitor. Louis however turned his attention to East Anglia, and marched to join the barons, and on arriving at Norwich found that great city, second largest in England abandoned by the royalist garrison. He immediately garrisoned it with French troops, and marched to the town of Bishop's Lynn (today King's Lynn), and important port, where the citizens were taken prisoner and taken off in chains until they paid a fee to be released.

The Scottish king invaded Northumberland on behalf of Louis, and Lincoln and York were surrendered to the French. For King John, the situation now appeared desperate, and despite the Pope finding in his honour and Walo doing all he could to raise money from the churches and monasteries and remove pro-Louis clerics from office, John must have wondered how much longer he could hold out.

June 24th, 1216 After his campaign in East Anglia Louis had returned to London, but now he turned his attention to taking Dover castle, the fortress known as the "key to England". Ever since his invasion Hugh de Burgh had held out here following John's retreat, with 140 knights but a large garrison of soldiers. The French brought up a great siege engine they named Malvoisine, and began trying to force a breach in the walls. (The siege engine is termed a petraria, but from contemporary records we know it was a large trebuchet not a petraria arcatinus.) such damage was done by the crossbowmen on the walls however that Louis was forced to pull back his engines and men, and absolutely furious he built shops and a well provisioned market was erected directly in front of the gates, in an attempt to tempt them in to a sally out to grab provisions so the knights concealed within could take the gates by surprise. The starving defenders resisted the temptation however, and the siege continued.

July 1216 A group of barons leave London and ride in to East Anglia, accepting the surrender of Cambridge castle (which had been ignored up to this point) and raiding Yarmouth, Dunwich, Ipswich and Colchester to gather loot, despite the fact these areas were securely in the hands of Louis anyway. Louis meanwhile is still besieging Dover, but he himself had moved on to try and take the less strongly defended castle at Windsor, where only sixty knights and a large company of soldiers defended the castle.

August 1216 With the French and Barons committed to two extended sieges one at Dover castle, and one at Windsor castle, King John assembled his knights and conducted a daring raid, burning the fields just before the harvest was gathered in and despoiling the countryside to bring ruin upon the barons as he tore through their estates. He made his way in to Norfolk and Suffolk, and so great was the devastation he wrought on his enemies lands that when the barons at the siege of Dover heard of it they broke off the siege and marched north to Cambridge to try and bottle him up in East Anglia. John was expected this, and by the time the barons and French reached Cambridge he was at Stamford, from which he turned north to Lincoln.

The county of Lincolnshire had surrendered in early Summer, but Lincoln castle had held out under the chatelaine Nichola de la Haye (technically Constable - she held the Castle in her own right and her husband was dead) who had refused to surrender and paid the French to go away. Once they had, she had secured Lincoln for the King. Now Lincoln was once more besieged, and John marched to his loyal vassals aid. On his arrival the French fled and he rode up to meet Nichola waiting for him at the gates, and we have a rare account of an actual conversation between them -- And once it happened that after the war King John came to Lincoln and the said Lady Nichola went out of the eastern gate of the castle carrying the keys of the castle in her hand and met the king and offered the keys to him as her lord and said she was a woman of great age and was unable to bear such fatigue any longer. And he besought her saying, "My beloved Nichola, I will that you keep the castle as hitherto until I shall order otherwise." Great age seems a bit strong - she was around 60, but a good age for the time. John appointed her High Sheriff of Lincolnshire.

September 1216 The King of Scotland marched south with a large army, planning to rendezvous with Prince Louis now, but at Barnard's Castle Alexander's brother-in-law Eustace de Vesci was shot dead by a crossbowman on the walls. Despite this tragedy Alexander II of Scotland continued and did homage to Prince Louis, but then retreated back to Scotland. Another death however was to prove more fatal to Prince Louis's cause -- that of the French noble, the Viscount de Melun, who grew ill and on his deathbed called a number of English barons around him, and revealed that on securing the throne Louis was going to have them all executed or exiled as traitors and their lands confiscated as he could not trust men who would fight against their own King! Whether de Melun's warning was true or not, it was widely believed among the barons, and many began to argue they must return their allegiance to King John, rather than lose everything. It was certainly true that when their estates were recaptured their castles were being garrisoned with French troops, and Louis had already granted lands belonging to some of them to his French nobles. Now they realised the awful situation their treason had placed them in: but they also knew John was unlikely to be forgiving.

October 1216 Louis had returned to the siege at Dover, and those barons not with him were paralysed by de Melun's deathbed confession in London. John returned to raiding East Anglia, but this time the French would not be drawn in to a pursuit. John Entered Bishop's Lynn, where the French had been particularly brutal, and was welcomed with church bells and great celebration by the citizens. On the 15th October King John and his retinue rode ahead of the army, planning to cross the River Wellstream near where it enters The Wash,and proceed to Newark Castle. Feeling unwell, on the night of the 16th he intends to stay at Swinehead monastery, and on the 17th at Lafort Castle, before proceeding to Newark. His army marched after him, but John, tired and feverish, insisted on moving ahead, and moving fast along with the crown jewels of England. And it as that small party leaves Bishop's Lynn to ride to Newark that my scenario starts, so I'll leave my account here.

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