Harold II of Edreland

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Harold II
Harold II depicted in a late 16th-century painting, holding the dual crowns of Edreland and Siar.
King of Edreland
Reign7 June 1101 - 30 April 1154
Inauguration1 July 1101
PredecessorHarold I
SuccessorHarold III
Born17 January 1094
Tremaine, Edreland
Died30 April 1154 (aged 60)
Domergue Palace
Burial14 May 1154
Mound of the Kings
SpouseAnalia of Carcossica
IssueHarold III
Edward IV
William, earl of Axlemouth
Alexander of Edreland
FatherHarold I
MotherJane de Compdon

Harold II (17 January 1094 - 30 April 1154) reigned as King of Edreland from 1101 until his death. His nearly fifty-three year reign, one of the longest in Edrish history, saw military successes as well as major reforms in the Edrish legal and fiscal systems and a flowering of culture. He transformed the weak monarchy inherited from his father into a strong executive institution with little regard for baronial rights.

Harold became king at the age of seven after the death of his father Harold I. The queen mother, Jane de Compdon, secured the regency in negotiations with the barons but in 1104 she was replaced by Henry de Uaileam, earl of Anshire, in a soft coup. Anshire, Harold II's great-uncle, continued as regent for another eight years with the support of the king, who attained his majority in 1112. The young king was related by blood or marriage to most of the nobility and, in the early years of his rule, found it difficult to manage his baronage. Harold II's chief complaint was the existence of the Concord of Hyffel, forced on his father by rebel lords in 1098, which bound the king to refrain from the exploitation of feudal incidents. In 1118 the king, with the support of his influential queen Analia of Carcossica, revoked the Concord and executed his erstwhile councillor and uncle, Eustace de Compdon.

Major reforms of the crown's fiscal system soon followed, designed to remove inefficiencies that hamstrung royal finances. The Board of the Lords Auditors was created to supervise the Bench of Exchequer, with the Lord Steward put at its head. The Court of Escheat was established to enforce the king's allodial right, with county sheriffs supplemented by new royal escheators. The system of inquisitions was established to better determine the value of taxable land; for the first time, detailed Exchequer Rolls were kept. General councils composed of the three estates- barons, knights, and clergy- were called to levy taxation, precursors to the modern Diet.

Harold II also instituted trials by jury, empowering local sheriffs to impanel juries of freeholders to hear cases before the Court of Eyre. To maintain control over the nobility, the king created the Court Baroniam separate from the courts under the jurisdiction of the King's Bench to hear cases brought by him directly against tenants-in-chief. Using this court, Harold II was able to tamp down baronial opposition. Despite their fear of this court, tenants-in-chief viewed it as illegal and it would be abolished shortly after the king's death.

Harold II used his reputation as a warrior-king to underline the executive authority of the crown. He led expeditions to Glanodel and Aleia. From 1125 to 1132 he was engaged in the Wars of Subjugation against the kingdom of Siar; in 1132 he secured his coronation as king of Siar and created an Edrish bureaucracy, complete with separate exchequer, to administer the island. In 1139 the Treaty of Langfield established the temporal authority of the Edrish crown over the Patriarch of the North, who had been living in exile in Edreland since the Newreyan Revolt of 1113, and gave him the new title of Archbishop of Edreland.

The king built extensively like his grandfather Edward III, erecting seven castles and spending lavishly on a huge new palace at Domergue, while also expanding the royal residences in Tremaine, Irvine, and Halenton.

In the later years of his reign Harold II was faced with opposition from his sons, of whom four survived to adulthood. They quarreled with their father and each other over the question of who would inherit the throne; Harold II had not chosen an heir from among them. Their father punished their insolence by denying them marriage, which had the unfortunate effect of ensuring that no third-generation heirs of the House of Fiodhàrd were ever produced. Harold II eventually recognized Prince Harold as heir, whereupon in 1141 Edward and the third brother, William, rebelled. The rebellion was defeated and the errant princes were banished from the kingdom. A peace settlement was brokered in 1143 by Queen Analia which saw Harold II grant estates to all four of his sons and arrange marriages for them. The "family curse" remained, however; none of these unions produced issue.

In 1147 the two youngest sons warred with the two eldest over who would inherit Siar on their father's death. Harold II was forced to divide the island into four viceroyalties. In 1153 the king fell ill after what was likely a stroke, and thereafter slipped into a coma-like state. A general council appointed Prince Harold as regent. Harold II died on 30 April 1154, aged 60.

Three of his sons ruled after his death, but none had issue, ending the rule of the House of Fiodhàrd.

Early life

Harold II is crowned king by the Bishops of Tremaine and Melville

Harold was born on 17 January 1094 in Tremaine, the only son and child of Harold I of Edreland and Jane de Compdon. His parents had married in 1092 after King Harold was forced into promulgating the Concord of Irvine, severely restricting the crown's ability to levy taxation. His maternal grandfather William de Compdon, 2nd earl of Compdon, stood as godfather at his baptism. In 1098 the young prince, aged four, was sent for his safety away from the capital when the Lords of Concord gathered an army to oppose the king. The result was the "Battle" of Hyffel, which saw Harold I and his lords seal the Concord of Hyffel on 23 April, forbidding the king from exploiting many of his feudal rights for financial gain.

The prince was kept in the care of his mother Queen Jane. The two were likely nearby when Harold I died at his hunting lodge of Newcombe on the night of 7 June 1101 after being mortally wounded by a stray arrow. The queen secured her seven year-old son and, guarded by a party of mounted knights, rode furiously for Tremaine, where she called a general council that met on 26 June. After heated debate, the council decided that the Queen Dowager should become Regent, advised by a council composed of Edwin of Sayeton as Chancellor, Edward of Banshire as Lord Steward, Henry of Anshire as Lord Chamberlain, and Thomas of Rosebery as Earl Marshal.

The composition of the government settled, the seven-year old Harold II was invested as King of Edreland on 1 July 1101 in the Cathedral of St. Quentin by the Bishops of Tremaine and Melville.

Regency of the Queen Dowager

The stability of the regency government was shaky at best. Anshire and Sayeton were avowed enemies; Sayeton and Banshire, both cousins of the young king, were widely believed to have designs on the throne. The Queen Dowager irritated her council, with the exception of her ally Sayeton, with her patronage to unpopular courtiers; in 1102 she made her brother Eustace de Compdon King's Constable, giving him control of the security arrangements of the royal household. Many felt this to be a move towards denying powerful barons access to the king- in effect, excluding them from government altogether. In 1103 she took the nine-year old king on a progress around the country.

In 1104 tensions within the council boiled over. Sayeton told the Queen Dowager that Anshire was plotting to remove her from power. Anshire was summoned before the Crown Court to answer charges of treason. Anshire pre-empted this move, however; together with his son John he gathered some retainers and arrested Sayeton. Anshire and his armed followers then marched to Halenton, in which castle the Queen Dowager had taken refuge with her son, and demanded her surrender in exchange for Sayeton's life. She relented and Anshire, now in possession of his great-nephew Harold II, moved on to Tremaine. There he called a second council that confirmed him as Regent. Sayeton was replaced as Chancellor by Rosebery and Compdon became Earl Marshal in a gesture of unity.

Regency of the earl of Anshire

The effigy of Henry de Uaileam, earl of Anshire, Harold II's great-uncle and Regent from 1104 to 1112.

Queen Jane was thereafter completely excluded from government, although she retained a pension at the intercession of the young Harold II. She died in 1115, aged 38.

Anshire served as regent for eight years, until the end of Harold II's minority. An old man, he was widely considered to be Edreland's elder statesman, and through a combination of this and shrewd political management he never faced a challenge to his authority.

The earl packed the council with his allies. On Rosebery's death in 1108 he was replaced as Chancellor by Anshire's son and heir, Lord John, who in 1106 had been created lord of Ardnell. The king's cousin Banshire was killed by Sir John de Layton in July 1107 in a joust at Compdon after Banshire had slept with de Layton's wife. Arthur, who became earl of Rosebery the following year, was appointed to replace him as Lord Steward. In 1111, Anshire had Harold II create his ally and longtime retainer Sir Robert de Graylund earl of Marshire.

In 1110 the disgraced earl of Sayeton was released from confinement. On bended knee before Harold II and the Regent, he swore eternal loyalty; the king asked that Anshire appoint his cousin to the position of Master of the Horse, which he did. This scene likely occurred in Tremaine, where Harold II seems to have spent a majority of his time during his minority. If the Great Seal accompanied the king at all times, then Harold II may also have spent the winter of 1107-08 at Irvine and that of 1111-12 at Winfeld in Marshire.

On 17 January 1112 Harold II turned eighteen, attaining his majority after nearly eleven years of regency. Anshire advised him to retain his council in its then-present form. Despite parting from his regent and mentor in perfect amity, the teenaged king was eager to flex his muscles and refused to do so, sacking Compdon as Earl Marshal and replacing him with his cousin Godfrey, earl of Banshire.

Adult rule

In the early years of his personal rule, Harold II engaged in heavy drinking and whoring alongside his young cousins Banshire and, after Sayeton's death in 1114, the new earl of Sayeton Edwin. Upon examining the processes of the Bench of Exchequer, the king was angered at the small receipts processed by the crown, which were not enough to cover his rapidly-increasing personal expenses. His first decree, Ad ius ad regem, was issued in March 1112 and declared that the king, who by right was beholden only to God, was legally above provisions imposed by his tenants-in-chief. This was an attempt to quietly cancel the Concord of Hyffel but it failed; at Easter court that year Harold was rebuked by Arthur, earl of Rosebery, who reminded him of the opposition faced by his father in similar circumstances.

In 1113 Harold II married Analia of Carcossica in a match brokered by the king of Calimi. The wedding was officiated by John III, Patriarch of the North, who had recently fled from Newrey. The Patriarch was installed in Langfield Castle.

At a conclave of the nobility gathered in October 1115 for the baptism of Harold, Harold II's firstborn son, the king again tried to wring support for the revocation of the Concord of Hyffel from his lords. Led by his uncle Compdon, who had become embittered towards the king ever since his sacking as Earl Marshal, they refused. Compdon blandly told his nephew that the baronage would replace him with the infant prince if he attempted to trample on their rights.

Something was glaringly wrong in the relationship between crown and tenants-in-chief; the political situation birthed in the reign of Harold I had now decayed to the point where great lords denied the king his feudal rights and insulted him with impunity. Harold II's mind was crystallized against the Concord and its supporters after this incident and he began to work towards their final destruction. He was supported by Queen Analia, by all accounts a strong-willed woman who resented the stringency imposed upon the royal household by the hamstrung collection of royal revenues.

During these early years the king lived largely in Tremaine, where he expanded the royal palace, and also began construction of a residence at Carolan. Sometime in the period 1110-20 the bullion content of silver pennies was increased in an attempt to give Edrish merchants more purchasing power in their trading ventures. The economy never experienced a "boom" in the reign of Harold II; nevertheless, the king managed to expand it, in particular encouraging the growth of the wool trade with mainland Asura.

End of the Concord

Harold II hands his decree De obiceret rege potestatem to John, earl of Anshire, the Chancellor

From 1115 to 1118 Harold II dispensed considerable patronage to "new men", young unlanded knights, in a bid to build up a loyal affinity around the royal person. David Byron, William Northrop, Henry Knox, and Robert de Weir, all retainers at the court of the king, were notable members of this cadre of knights, receiving lands and annuities. All four were given hereditary lordships in 1115-18, with Byron and de Weir receiving earldoms after the king's victory over the supporters of the Concord.

In 1117 the king fired a warning shot when he directed Rosebery, the Lord Steward, to order sheriffs to collect a carucage on tenants-in-chief, to be intromitted to the royal accounts for fiscal year 1117-18. Rosebery could not ignore a direct order from the king and he lost face with his magnate allies as a result. At Christmas 1117 disaffected barons lead by Compdon gathered at Melville Abbey and planned armed resistance against Harold II's emerging policies. It seemed as if the rebellion of twenty years prior was about to be played out all over again.

Harold II, however, was a different man than his father. He had the support of his cousins Banshire and Sayeton, both of whom had been given lordships in the Eastern Isles; there was also his growing knightly affinity, backed up by levies drawn from crown lands. The king felt he could afford to challenge the disaffected lords head-on and finally secure his freedom from the Concord.

On 11 January 1118 the decree De obiceret rege potestatem, or On the power of the king to tax, was issued. It declared that the king had full right to collect revenue from feudal incidents and to impose fines and duties where he saw fit as the highest lord in the realm. It also opined that, although it was proper to receive the consent of the community of the realm to do so, all rights of taxation rested solely with the king. The Concord of Hyffel was officially revoked and declared null and void.

Events moved swiftly. Queen Analia, pregnant with the couple's second child, was taken off to Irvine under armed guard for her own safety while the king summoned his lieges to muster outside the walls of Tremaine. Compdon reacted with hostility, holding Compdon Castle against the king and spending money to hire contract forces. He appealed to his friends for assistance; faced with a large royal army, none were willing to defend the Concord except Rosebery, but even he was bought off by Harold II. He led Compdon's army into an ambush at Kindersley on 19 March. The rebel earl was wounded and captured. Beginning on 23 April, the twentieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Concord, he was tried before a general council, which found him guilty and passed sentence of forfeiture upon him, and was then sentenced to death by the Court of King's Bench. On 1 May 1118 Eustace de Compdon was beheaded on Gildas Hill.

The "Trammeled Council"

Barons swear loyalty to Harold II at the Trameled Council of 1118

The general council which tried Compdon continued to sit until June. Possessed through the circumstances of a large standing army, Harold II decided to take out insurance against any further baronial opposition to the end of the Concord. He forbade his lieges to leave and then, one by one, had them swear fealty to himself and his successors on a chest containing relics of St. Alydian. Oaths were made on pain of attainder and death. This council became known as the "Trammeled Council" as those who attended were "trammeled" or restrained by the king.

Harold II used the opportunity to extend favor to loyal supporters in full view of the entire assembled nobility; Lord Byron was created earl of Follett and Lord de Weir was created earl of Greely. The night after the council, a great feast was held in the hall of the palace of Tremaine, with the king behaving graciously towards all present and winning back some of those who might otherwise have opposed him.

With the nobility pacified, Harold II turned eagerly to the reform of the Edrish fiscal system, which had largely died a quiet death during the decline of the crown's ability to dictate financial policy from 1098-1118.

Fiscal reforms

The Bench of Exchequer processing receipts. From a 13th-century illustration.

The primary catalyst behind Harold II's wide-ranging fiscal reforms was, simply, his need for money. The disuse of financial expedients such as feudal incidents and the general refrainment from taxation practiced during the regency had left the crown with few funds to execute the administration of government. The royal household did not have enough money to pay for its own expenses; the king either had to come up with new sources of income or borrow, a course of action he was not eager to take.

The basic framework of a income-collection system already existed, having been created in the reign of the king's great-grandfather Edward II. The Bench of Exchequer, of which the Lord Steward was head, commissioned local sheriffs to collect a certain amount of money whenever the king levied a new tax. The Exchequer commissions detailed how to assess the tax and what percentage of the value of the taxee's goods and land to collect. The sheriffs would then intromit their sums into the treasury, keeping fees for themselves. Feudal incidents, irregular sums collected by the king as his right, were also the responsibility of the sheriffs. The Lord Chamberlain, a separate official from the Lord Steward, supervised the spending of the royal household.

This system decayed from the bottom up over the twenty years from the Concord of Hyffel to the decree of 1118. Feudal incidents were no longer collected and taxes rarely levied. The income collected by the crown was thus lessened, as was the pay due to sheriffs, who collected fewer fees and as a result were unable to perform their duties as effectively. This vicious cycle ended up crippling royal government as the Bench of Exchequer was no longer taking in enough receipts to cover expenses.

Harold II, free at least from the Concord of Hyffel, was determined to fix the broken system. To do so he started with feudal incidents, the most obvious way to quickly boost royal income.

Reintroduction of feudal incidents

At Michaelmas 1118, Harold II issued the decree Ex multaticia pecunia regis, which codified the king's right to exploit feudal incidents for profit. This decree was the first time that feudal duties had been explicitly listed in Edreland outside of service specified in charters.

In Ex multaticia pecunia regis, Harold II asserted his rights to collect five kinds of incidents.

  • Fines on subinfeudation. These were imposed when a tenant-in-chief alienated their land to tenants who henceforth held from them and not the king. These lower tenants were termed mesne lords. Mesne lords were not fined for subinfeudation of their own lands.
  • Relief. This was charged by the king when a tenant-in-chief died with an heir. Before the heir could come into his inheritance- receive "sasine"- he had to pay relief. If the lord died when the heir was a minor and their wardship reverted to the king, the heir would have to pay relief once they attained their majority.
  • Heriot. The king was entitled to charge this when a tenant-in-chief died. In Asura it had meant that the king could take his pick of the deceased's possessions, usually animals or jewelry, but in Edreland heriot was paid in money.
  • Minority rights, such as wardship and marriage. If a tenant-in-chief died with a minor as heir, the wardship, or custody, of the minor reverted to the king. The king could arrange the marriage of his ward, and charge fines to "lease" the wardship to another person, typically a relative of the heir. The king was also entitled to a portion of the dowry from the marriage.
  • Escheat. This was the most important incident exploited by the king. Under escheat, if any lord, both tenants-in-chief and mesne lords, died without an heir the land would revert to the king under his allodial right. This also meant that the king could control, and receive the revenues of, land held by an underage tenant in his wardship. Officials appointed to enforce the rights of the crown with regards to escheat also dealt with other incidents, most commonly relief, which necessitated a large bureaucracy to assist them.

Processes known as "inquisitions" were carried out to determine the king's rights on a case-by-case basis with regard to feudal incidents.

Court of Escheat

Main article: Court of Escheat

The number of inquisitions necessary to ensure full efficiency of fiscal officers with regard to the collection of money under the system of feudal incidents rendered it impractical for the Bench of Exchequer to deal with the whole workload. Harold II decided to establish a new institution to manage the enforcement of the crown's rights; this was the Court of Escheat, which was in operation by 1125, although full records do not survive until the end of the century. It is reasonable to assume that the Court in operation then worked in largely the same way as that created by Harold II.

The Court of Escheat was presided over by the Justiciar of Escheat, the inaugural holder of which position was Thomas de Pendall by 1125. The Justiciar appointed one escheator for each county in the name of the crown. Escheators worked closely with local sheriffs to carry out their duties. The Court of Escheat and its escheators formed a major part of the royal bureaucracy- responsible for the collection of practically all feudal incidents.

When it was determined that a tenant had died heirless, the escheator was empowered by the Court to order the local sheriff to seize the deceased's demesne land. It would then be turned over to the crown. This process also occurred when a tenant-in-chief died with an heir who was a minor. With the demesne land taken into his possession, the escheator would begin to conduct an inquisition post mortem to determine the age of the heir, the extent and value of the land, and under what terms it had been held. Wardship of the heir would then revert to the crown and the completed inquisition sent to the Court of Escheat, which kept permanent records.

The escheator also had duties besides executing the processes of escheat and wardship. When an heir had to pay relief he did so to the escheator, who first carried out a proof of age inquisition to determine if the heir had, in fact, attained his majority. The escheator would then order the local sheriff to deliver sasine to the heir. Escheators also determined the value of heriot to be collected by sheriffs.

Lords Auditors

The king's Great Seal, applied to the report of the Lords Auditors at the end of the annual exchequer audit

The Board of the Lords Auditors was created by Harold II to ensure efficiency and honesty in the operations of the sheriffs and the Bench of Exchequer. The Lord Steward was appointed to direct the Lords Auditors, of whom he was primus inter pares. The Board was given plenary authority over the Exchequer, saving the rights of the king.

Each year midsummer, every sheriff and escheator in the kingdom would be summoned to the Bench of Exchequer, where the Lord Auditors would be waiting, having compiled all Exchequer Rolls and escheat records for the previous fiscal year (fiscal years ended at midsummer). The audit of the exchequer would then begin, with each receipt and inquisition examined, the sums of money tallied, and the accounts of the officials analyzed. The purpose of this was twofold: to obtain an accurate estimate as to the revenue brought in by the crown the previous fiscal year, and also to check if sheriffs were taking more than their due of fees.

The Exchequer Rolls, used during the audit process, consisted of the officials' accounts which were transcribed onto parchment by clerks working throughout the year. They were kept in large folios under the care of the Lord Steward.

Sede vacante

In 1127, Harold II issued the decree Sede vacante, which asserted his rights to a form of escheat regarding Alydian benefices. Sede vacante declared that, when a benefice fell vacant due to the death or translation of the incumbent, the revenues would revert to the crown until it could be filled. The Court of Escheat and sheriffs were expected to enforce this decree, seizing church property and lands in the event of a vacancy. The decree was very unpopular with the clergy as well as Alydian leadership such as the Patriarch of the North, who denounced it from his residence at Langfield.

A side-effect of Sede vacante was that the king was in no hurry to fill vacancies in benefices because, the longer that they remained open, the longer he could enjoy their revenues. Harold II frequently left vacancies unfilled to increase his income. Sede vacante was nullified de jure by the Treaty of Fakeham of 1139 but unofficial exploitation of religious vacancies continued for hundreds of years.

Legal reforms

A knight swearing fealty to the king before the Court Baroniam, Harold II's feared judicial innovation

Besides his fiscal reforms, Harold II also instituted important legal reforms, especially with regards to judicial process. His most significant innovation in this field was trial by jury. There was also the Court Baroniam, which the king wielded as a tool to intimidate his barons; the Court was very unpopular and it was eventually suspended by Harold III. The king's judicial reforms, then, may be seen to serve two purposes: to improve the fairness and effectuality of trials and to strengthen the power of the crown.

Jury trials

From the 1130s onward, trials held under the jurisdiction of the Court of Eyre during circuits around the kingdom included juries. This was eventually extended to all courts not including the Court of King's Bench and the Court Baroniam. Judges could issue writs of impanelment which began the jury process.

A writ of impanelment would direct the local sheriff to gather twelve freeholders, having first obtained security from the plaintiff in a civil case (in a criminal case, this was not necessary as the crown was bringing charges against a defendant). The jury would meet in a convenient location in the locality of the defendant to review the facts of the case. Both the plaintiff and defendant would then be summoned to a final hearing, at which the jury would return a verdict. Sentencing would then be left to the judge, in compliance with applicable statues. The jury could also choose to return a decision of "no verdict" in which case the judge would decide. This also occurred if the plaintiff was unable to provide security to obtain a jury in the first place.

Trials held before the two appellate courts, the Crown Court for criminal cases and the Court of Civil Pleas for civil cases, also featured juries. These were impaneled by writs issued by the Lord High Justiciar which were affixed with the Great Seal; in practice, this meant that the king could refuse an appellant a jury trial. Appellate juries would review the previous verdict and the reasons for it before making a final decision to either return a verdict or not.

There were no juries in the King's Bench; this remained the final appellate court- really a tribunal- where the king himself would judge and sentence cases. The Court Baroniam was intentionally designed to eschew juries.

Lord High Justiciar

To streamline the administration of the ever-growing legal system, Harold II created the position of Lord High Justiciar to supervise all courts of law except the Court Baroniam. The inaugural holder of this post was Robert de Graylund, 1st earl of Marshire. On Marshire's death in 1130 his son apparently received the post and it thereafter became a hereditary title, retaining its responsibilities.

The Lord High Justiciar was responsible for the operation of the Crown Court and Court of Civil Pleas; he issued writs of impanelment for jury trials held under the jurisdiction of these courts. He also reviewed the actions of all judges, both in appellate and circuit courts. When necessary he advised the king during trials held before the King's Bench. Sometimes he would make circuits along with the Court of Eyre to observe its operation.

Court Baroniam

Main article: Court Baroniam
The Court in session. From a 14th-century illustration

The most feared of Harold II's judicial innovations was the Court Baroniam, which was certainly established by 1136, and was likely created soon after the political convulsion of 1118.

The Court was a novel institution and represented an entirely different view on jurisprudence than was shared by many of the king's contemporaries. On the surface, it is surprising that Harold II, who was otherwise a champion of an individual's judicial rights through his establishment of jury trials, would have created such a court; the impulse to do so likely stemmed from his experiences in the early years of his reign, and also from knowledge of the treatment given to his father by what he viewed as overmighty magnates.

The Court was managed by the Chancellor, who in this role was essentially the judicial "hand of the king", even more so than the Lord High Justiciar. As Justiciar of Baroniam, the Chancellor appointed the panel of judges who tried cases, all hand-picked loyalists. Judges wore red robes and caps. The Chancellor also chose men to serve as court magistrates, essentially enforcers who would deliver summons to appear before the court and, if necessary, take them in by force.

The Court Baroniam allowed the king to bring charges against a defendant without having to go through the legal process that would ensue if, as was common practice, the crown acted as plaintiff in criminal cases tried before regular courts. Use of the Court precluded the defendant from enjoying a jury trial or appealing the verdict; legally, it was a court of final appeal. The Court was vested with the judicial functions normally accorded only to general councils, namely the ability to pass sentences of forfeiture and attainder, including corruption of blood.

The king would frequently use the Court Baroniam to attack barons without having to resort to a potentially-reluctant general council to punish them. Amorphous statutes forbidding lèse-majesté were often used as legal justification to bring charges of treason against a baron; in practice, this meant that the king would bring charges of treason against, essentially, anyone who opposed him. The Court was extremely unpopular and the focus of much discontent during Harold II's reign, notably the Eventide Rising of 1136. On Harold II's death in 1154 its functions were suspended by his son, Harold III. It remained in abeyance until its abolition in 1198.

General councils

The reign of Harold II saw the development of "great councils" or general councils, occasions in which the assembled baronage, as well as knights, clergy, and burgesses, could meet. During a general council, the king would typically take the opportunity to ask for a grant of taxation. The reforms of Harold II in his early reign meant that, technically, the king did not have to ask; however, taxation without assent was extremely unpopular and it was wise for the king to gauge the mood of the political community before taking that course of action.

General councils were also vested with some judicial functions. As a body, a council could pass sentence of forfeiture, depriving an individual of his estates, lands, and goods; it could also pass sentence of attainder, which added the death penalty to forfeiture. The most serious judicial action that a general council could take was to declare "corruption of blood"- this meant that the heirs of the convicted individual would be disqualified from inheritance and, effectively, live under proxy sentence of forfeiture for all time.

General councils were called at the pleasure of the king. All barons were entitled to attend, as were clergy of the rank of bishop or above. Knights were chosen by the sheriff of each county, who picked two from their jurisdictions; towns granted a royal charter were entitled to choose two burgesses, with some important cities, such as Tremaine, Irvine, and Compdon choosing more- Tremaine sent as many as ten.

The councils seen during the reign of Harold II may be called early precursors of the modern Diet of Edreland due to the fact that they were, in some sense of the word, representative bodies; however, they were not vested with the power to make legislation- legislative councils were a later innovation of the 13th century. General councils sometimes confirmed royal decrees and acts passed by the king's council; these decrees and acts were then known as statutes, a word which implied greater force of authority.

Building work

Domergue Palace, a fortified palace and Harold II's favorite residence

Like his grandfather Edward III, Harold II made use of the resources available to the crown to leave a lasting architectural imprint on his kingdom. His most notable work was Domergue Palace, built over a twenty-year period from c. 1120 to c. 1140. Built on Domergue Hill in Marshire, Domergue Palace was more a richly-appointed castle than a palace. The rectangular keep was three stories tall, with a large great hall surmounted by a hammerbeam roof. The keep also contained apartments for the king and queen and an audience chamber. Around it stood a complex of servants' quarters and kitchens. The inner bailey was protected by a curtain wall; the outer bailey, containing a chapel, aqueducts, stables, and other buildings, was surrounded by a second curtain wall. Both walls were interspersed with towers and gatehouses.

Harold II spent much of his time at Domergue in the later years of his reign. Considerable sums were spent on furnishings, including furniture, tapestries, and glass windows. The palace may also have had hot running water, a rarity in this time period but by no means inaccessible for those who could afford it. According to some sources, Harold II kept a large hoard of gold in one of Domergue's towers.

Royal residences in Tremaine, Irvine, and Halenton saw the most notable upgrades lavished on crown properties during the reign of Harold II. Tremaine Palace, where the king had been born, received a brand-new wing of apartments and a chapel with stained glass imported from Hergemoth. The king replaced the motte-and-bailey castle Halenton with a large new stone fortification, boasting a massive fortified gatehouse. The castle at Carolan was also renovated. A new royal mint was built near the silver mines of Kendalburgh, from where the king's coinage was minted.

Harold II did not invest heavily in religious architecture. He paid for repairs to his grandfather's magnum opus of St. Quentin when lightning hit the spire in 1151; besides the expensive royal chapel at Domergue, the king only dabbled in patronage to the Alydian church.

Development of culture

The Chronicle of Edre-land, written and illuminated by John le Morrow, a monk of Langley Abbey

During the reign of Harold II, Edreland experienced a flowering of culture in the arts and music. It was during the king's fifty-three year reign that Alydianism became firmly established among the lower classes; although the nobility had practiced it since the mid-11th century, the mass of the population still followed traditional religions. The religious shift was largely due to the growing influence of monasteries, which sprang up across the kingdom during Harold II's reign, as well as concerted efforts by the establishment to proselytize. With the increase of religious influence came Edreland's first illuminated books and manuscripts, made exclusively by monks. The king seems to have paid for histories designed to reinforce the majesty of the crown, such as the Chronicle of Edre-land, written by the monk John le Morrow c. 1150, but Harold II's patronage to bookmakers was nowhere near that given out by future de Uaileam kings, Henry and Edward V, at the turn of the 13th century.

Music, specifically religious music, flourished in Edreland during this time period. Surviving pieces display the development of polyphony. Church songs were sung by choirs; pipe organs were the most common instrument, used during services. Instruments within the reach of the nobility included lutes, mandolins, and other string instruments; flutes; and, sometimes, varying kinds of horns and bagpipes. Harold II is not known to have possessed musical ability, although his wife, Analia of Carcossica, did. Village harvest festivals featured woodwind instruments and horns, played to the beating of drums.

The king paid for tapestries and frescoes to be executed in his residences. It was in the 12th century that the stained glass displayed in Edrish churches began to take on its signature beautiful qualities. Paintings were not prevalent outside of churches, where religious images were displayed near the altar. Other evidence of a development in the arts during Harold II's reign include an 1134 treatise on bell-making that gave specific instructions as to how to cast a bell to achieve the purest sound.

Middle years (1118-39)

The legal and fiscal reforms of Harold II were carried out in the years following his victory over the Concord of Hyffel and its supporters in 1118. As the crown was strengthened, the king, who was maturing out of his teenage years, pursued policies designed to reinforce his royal authority and augment his temporal power and that of his kingdom. These included military campaigns abroad, culminating in the Wars of Subjugation against Siar from 1125 to 1132. In these years, the king was also preoccupied by his growing family, which eventually boasted five sons and three daughters; four of these sons and all daughters would survive to adulthood. After his victory over Siar, Harold II grappled with the problems of imposing control over that island, working tirelessly to build an Edrish bureaucracy to maintain his rule there; he also faced issues over religion with the Patriarch of the North, still the king's nominal overlord, who had been living in exile in Edreland since 1113. In 1139, the Treaty of Langfield secured the Patriarch's demission of authority and established him under the crown as Archbishop of Edreland.


The king, attended by the earl of Follett and Lord Northrop, is shown around captured Compdon Castle by its castellan, his cousin Godfrey, earl of Banshire

After the Trammeled Council of 1118, Harold II felt safe enough to give a wide cross-section of his nobility a seat at the table, ushering in newly-harmonious relations between the king and his tenants-in-chief. During the early 1120s the council was composed of John, earl of Anshire as Chancellor, Arthur, earl of Rosebery as Lord Steward, the king's cousins Godfrey, earl of Banshire and Edwin, earl of Sayeton as Lord Chamberlain and Earl Marshal, respectively- the men had swapped roles by 1120 at the request of the king- and Marshire as Lord High Justiciar, a new post. The royal favorites Follett and Greely held the posts of King's Constable and Master of the Horse, respectively; Lord Northrop was Keeper of the Privy Seal and Lord Knox was Lord Admiral. Anshire died in 1125 and Rosebery followed, carried off by what may have been leprosy, in 1127, to be replaced by their respective heirs John and Thomas.

There was some rivalry at court between various factions of the nobility. After the forfeiture of Compdon, his earldom was annexed to the crown, leaving only seven barons of the rank of earl: Anshire, Rosebery, Marshire, Banshire, Sayeton, Follett, and Greely. Of these seven, two, Banshire and Sayeton, were the king's cousins, and two, Follett and Greely, were loyal retainers and members of his personal affinity. Anshire, Rosebery, and Marshire, holding arguably the three most powerful positions on the council, naturally felt threatened by what they viewed as a hostile royalist faction. Harold II was apparently unaware of the intra-court conflicts which erupted as a result of these tensions.

In 1123 men led by Anshire's son and heir John, lord of Ardnell, clashed with retainers of Sayeton at Cabagh Moor, leaving hundreds dead, among them Sayeton's younger brother Sir Edward. Ardnell was cleared by an inquiry of the sheriff of Anshire, an appointment in the earl's pocket. Anshire died in a fire in 1125 when his great hall was burnt by a party of Sayeton’s horsemen. Anshire’s son and heir John, who followed his father as Chancellor, intensified the feud by attacking Sayeton, the Earl Marshal, through the council. An earl had been killed, and Harold II could no longer ignore what was happening. At a special meeting of the council, the Bishop of Tremaine made Anshire and Sayeton swear to make peace on the Book of Ancients.

Sayeton fell ill and died while on campaign in Siar in 1131, leaving a young son, Harold, as his only heir. The earldom escheated to the crown and Harold II was able to enjoy its revenues for some time. Follett became Earl Marshal and helped the king lead the Edrish army to a final victory. Follett now reached the peak of his influence at court; he was given considerable lands in Siar, becoming also earl of Kilravock. In 1134 he died in a tournament, to the intense grief of Harold II.

Eventide Rising

Whitcombe Abbey is burned by rebel knights during the Eventide Rising of 1136

The major domestic political drama of the middle years of Harold II's reign, besides the bloody feud between the earls of Anshire and Sayeton in the mid-1120s, was the Eventide Rising of 1136. The rebellion was carried out by a group of knights of the county of Donshire, in the royal demesne, and was provoked by the heavy-handed actions of the king acting through the Court Baroniam.

In the late spring of 1136, Sir William de Pendorric, a knight who held the manor of Holton in Donshire, was involved in a dispute with the sheriff, John Maddicott, when Maddicott attempted to rustle Pendorric's cattle as part of the security he claimed to impanel a jury in a case Pendorric was bringing before the Court of Eyre. The knight, along with Sirs David de Halberstam and James Graeme, seized Maddicott from court proceedings and carried him off to Holton, where he was murdered. On 4 June 1136 Harold II issued orders under the great seal to the earl of Marshire, the Lord High Justiciar, to bring the three knights into custody. A posse was sent out and arrested the men. Pendorric, Halberstam, and Graeme were brought before the Court Baroniam, where the king, infuriated at the death of his sheriff, had sentences of attainder passed against all three; their lands were annexed to the royal demesne. This angered William Seton, lord of Forbes, who had service from two of the knights, Halberstam and Graeme. Forbes, his brothers, and a party of horsemen rode into Tremaine and to the steps of the court hall, where the three knights were being held; forcing their way inside, they freed the men. On 19 June, Harold II issued commissions to the Earl Marshal, since Follett's death in 1134 the earl of Greely, and Marshire, ordering them to put down the rebellion. What had begun as a local dispute was snowballing into a major crisis for the king.

Forbes, knowing that the king's men were approaching, sacked Whitcombe Abbey, burning it and carrying off its treasures. Harold II now took the field in person alongside his son Prince Harold, aged twenty-one, on his first campaign. Rosebery, Greely, and Knox each led a column of soldiers that, working together, encircled Forbes so that he was at the mercy of the king, who approached with a force of upwards of 3,000. On the night 3 August 1136 the royal army attacked Forbes's camp at Barrowan. Struggling into his armor, Forbes was surprised and cut down by a Henry Murden, who received the lordship after the battle. Halberstam also died fighting; Graeme was grievously wounded but spared on the intervention of the king, who wanted the rebel knights alive. Pendorric, the instigator of the whole affair, was also taken alive.

Later that month, Pendorric and Graeme were sentenced to death for a second time by the Court Baroniam. Graeme died of his wounds before he could be executed; Pendorric's sentence was carried out on 22 August. The decisive failure of the Eventide Rising, although it had been minor in scope, demonstrated to much of the baronage that resistance to the Court Baroniam was futile; although the results might have been different if the Rising had been played out on a larger scale, no physical challenges would be presented to the Court's authority for the rest of the reign.

Wars of Subjugation

The bloody climax of the Wars of Subjugation: Harold II kills his second cousin Domhnall II of Siar at the Battle of Inchrannaird, 6 February 1132

Edrish expeditions to conquer Siar, the western kingdom which formed part of the Edrish Isles but yet maintained stubborn independence from its larger neighbor, had been launched in 1000, 1054, 1055, and 1065. The twin campaigns of 1054 and 1055, led by Edward II, had managed to secure several small islands for Edreland; however, the other two had been blown off course by storms and bad weather. It was Edward III who, to save face over the failure of the last expedition, arranged the marriage of his sister Edwina to Raghnall the Black, king of Siar, in 1066. Raghnall maintained good relations with his brother-in-law and at his death in 1081, the widowed Edwina became regent for their underage son Domhnall I. Harold I was intimidated by his aunt and the peace between Edreland and Siar continued. In 1101 Domhnall I died, leaving a seven year-old heir, Domhnall II. In that same year, across the water, Harold II came to the Edrish throne; both boys were great-grandsons of Edward II of Edreland, making them second cousins.

Siar had not experienced the gradual changes in Edrish society that occurred in the mid-11th century, propelling that kingdom into full Asuran-style feudalism by the 1060s. The western kingdom still passed the seasons in ways that had disappeared elsewhere in the Edrish Isles of the High Middle Ages. The king ruled as chief of one great tribe; his authority was absolute. Government was conducted by giving pieces of land to trusted lieutenants to rule as thanes, essentially feudal-style lords except for the fact that there were no obligations or requirements for either king or thane, saving loyalty. The orderly succession from Raghnall the Black to son and grandson was unprecedented in Siarish history, for previously the throne had passed from cousin to cousin or uncle to nephew, with spasms of violence closing one reign and beginning a fresh one.

Harold II and Domhnall II, who shared both the years of their birth and accession, do not seem to have enjoyed a particularly warm relationship. There are no extant records which show the customary gift exchanges of past generations, or embassies being sent back and forth. As Harold II asserted his authority over the Edrish baronage, Domhnall likely grew afraid of his cousin; if the king of Edreland dealt with his domestic problems, he would be more likely to turn his energies overseas and complete the work of his predecessors: the conquest of Siar.

This was, indeed, what Harold II did. The Wars of Subjugation, as they are collectively termed, were fought between 1125 and 1132. In the First War, fought from 1125 to 1127, Domhnall II was forced to accept Edrish overlordship. From 1128 to 1131, the Second War, sometimes termed the War of Siarish Independence, was waged to break Edrish political control; in the Third War, from 1131 to 1132, Harold II invaded again with a massive army and killed Domhnall II and the entire Siarish ruling class at Inchrannaird, his most famous military achievement. The king then set about establishing his control over Siar and creating a bureaucracy to govern and police the island in his absence.

First War

Domhnall II (center) raises the Siarish war-flag next to his uncle Raghnall Longsword (left) and his chief advisor, Adhamh, thane of Auchmatyre (right)

In 1125 Harold II was preoccupied by the feud between the earls of Anshire and Sayeton, which in that year saw the death of John (I), earl of Anshire, in a fire started by Sayeton's men. Before his death, the aging Anshire had frequently advised the king to invade Siar to take advantage of political discord that had broken out in the 1120s, when Domhnall II had been challenged by his brother Máel Coluim for the throne. With the aid of his fearsome uncle, Raghnall Longsword, Domhnall chased away Máel Coluim's men and, finally, slew his brother. The brief civil war had left many acres of the kingdom "waste places" and it was reported to Harold II that the authority of the Siarish king was slipping; rumor had it that his uncle Longsword planned to seize the throne. The time looked ripe for a military expedition, the first against Siar for sixty years. Once peace had been patched up between Anshire and Sayeton, Harold II began preparations for a campaign. Documents under the great seal survive from 29 August 1125, ordering the Lord Steward and Earl Marshal, the earls of Rosebery and Sayeton, respectively, to begin financial and military preparations for a mustering of the feudal host. It seems that the ports of Cooksmouth and St. Maria were designated as mustering-spots. In the weeks following the great seal letters of August 1125, a massive assemblage of military equipment took place on the western coast; the king with his men was joined by his barons with their retinues of knights and men-at-arms as well as masses of foot soldiers; armor, swords, spears, axes, horses, and victuals of all kinds were stockpiled, with a fleet of galleys to transport them, according to contemporary chroniclers. Those who witnessed Harold II's preparations were clearly impressed: this was to be the largest-yet campaign mounted by an Edrish king against his Siarish neighbor.

With Queen Analia and Anshire heading a regency council to govern Edreland in the king's absence, the expedition set out in November or December 1125, to land in Siar by the end of the year. It is unclear why Harold II and his council decided to commence the campaign in the winter. It is possible that they were making a gamble; perhaps King Domhnall would not expect an invasion in December or January and would thus leave the coast undefended. The risk paid off. On 1 January 1126 Harold II, accompanied by Sayeton, Follett, Greely, Marshire, Knox, and Northrop, was at the chapel of Braemuir on the Siarish coast, where he gave thanks to God for his safe journey. By 19 January the king had moved inland eastwards towards Malrankeld, where, on this day, he paid for masses to be said for the soul of the dead Siarish prince Máel Coluim; surely a provocative gesture.

Domhnall II was surely aware by now of the Edrish invasion. From his chief residence, the hill-fort of Candabh, he summoned Longsword and his thanes to decide on a course of action. The war-flag was raised and Longsword was sent out to raise the fiery cross and bring the clans to war. The thanes, including Adhamh of Auchmatyre, who filled the role of chief advisor, Murchadh of Kinvar, and Iain of Larggour, were appointed as captains.

The Edrish army continued east, taking Balinthoul and Kinvar, heading for Candabh at which the Siarish king's throne was located. Harold II split his army into two; a column of about 2,500 troops led by Follett, representing about a third of the expedition's strength, was sent south to take the hill-fort of Dunwall. Longsword with 5,000 clansmen approached, intending to do battle. The result was the Battle of Dunwall, fought on 7 May 1126. Follett, forming his men into close ranks, held off the Siarish attack, leaving many dead on the field. Dunwall was captured and Follett marched back north to rejoin the king. Harold II, meanwhile, had become bogged down in a siege of Glasnamore, a smaller hill-fort. Domhnall II used this opportunity to combine his army with that of Longsword's; he now wielded a force of over 11,000.

On 12 July 1126, Domhnall II attacked the army of Harold II and the Battle of Glasnamore was joined. The Siarish drove the Edrish vanguard back in disarray; Harold II was wounded by a spear in his leg. Follett, commanding the middle guard, counterattacked. At a pivotal moment, Iain of Larggour, bearing the Siarish war-flag, was killed; the Siarish foot soldiers, who had the numerical advantage but whose armor and weapons was inferior to that of the Edrish, lost heart and began to flee. When the rearguard under Marshire was thrown into the battle, it turned into a rout. Longsword died cutting a path for Domhnall II to escape. Glasnamore fell and the Edrish army moved onto Candabh, which resisted until February 1127.

After the defeat at Glasnamore, Domhnall II was unable to raise significant military forces. When Candabh fell he was forced to come to terms; the Peace of Kirkcree ended the First War of Subjugation, stipulating that King Domhnall would henceforth wear his crown at the pleasure of Harold II, who would become over-king of Siar; he would have to answer summons to attend general councils and would be obliged to pay feudal dues, yet would not enjoy this same privilege from his thanes, who would render service directly to Harold II. This was a humiliating settlement, effectively stripping the Siarish king of sovereignty.

Second War

The Lord Lieutenant, Graham de Layton, is killed at Auchkeld

Domhnall II and his thanes were deeply humiliated by the Peace of Kirkcree and the military failures that had led to it. When Harold II departed Siar in April 1127, he left behind Edrish sheriffs- one in each thanedom- and garrisons of soldiers, including a party of knights at Dunwall under the command of Graham de Layton, who was styled Lord Lieutenant of Siar. Layton came from a family which had long provided bodyguards to the king; his father, John de Layton, had been Harold I's standard-bearer at Hyffel, and did able service to Harold II in his minority. By 1119 Graham de Layton was in possession of several manors and estates around the kingdom, and eventually became castellan of Halenton Castle. In 1127 he was a logical choice to govern Siar and keep watch over its cowed rulers; as a minor noble, the political risk posed by his presence in the western kingdom was low, and he was the king's most skilled commander below the rank of earl; Sayeton and Follett were wanted back in Edreland.

Domhnall II lived in peace with Layton and the Edrish for some time after Harold II had left. Later in 1127 he obeyed summons to attend a general council and was seated directly next to the king; sometime in 1127-8 Harold II appointed his Siarish counterpart to be a judge on the Court of Eyre, perhaps to acquaint him with Edrish law, but there is no evidence that Domhnall II ever acted in this capacity. By the first months of 1128 discontent among the Siarish ruling class had bubbled over into blatant defiance of Edrish overlordship; some thanes began provoking Edrish sheriffs. In February or March of 1128, the sheriff of the thanedom of Larggour, Sir Mark Oxby, was killed by adherents of Adhamh, thane of Auchmatyre, Domhnall II's chief advisor. Auchmatyre seems to have pushed his king to openly defy Harold II and renounce the Peace of Kirkcree. Domhnall II was initially resistant, but he finally bowed to the sentiments that prevailed among his thanes; on 5 April 1128, the Edict of Candabh renounced and nullified the Peace of Kirkcree and rejected Edrish overlordship. The Second War of Subjugation, or the War of Siarish Independence, had begun.

Layton in Dunwall was faced with a tremendous problem. His garrisons were scattered throughout the kingdom; sheriffs could no longer maintain order effectively in the thanedoms. He sent back to Edreland with news of the rebellion and a request for reinforcements; in the meantime, he decided that the best course of action would be to strike quickly and deal a heavy blow to whatever nascent Siarish armies had been assembled. Gathering his knights and the garrison of men-at-arms and foot soldiers present in Dunwall, he began to march for Candabh. His little army numbered about 700; he was joined by 250 more foot soldiers from the tower and fort of Farmoor. Domhnall II, meanwhile, had sent out the fiery cross, summoning thousands of angry Siarishmen to his side; he was also joined by his thanes, who had scoured the countryside for men of all ages and conditions to create an army that numbered over 10,000; no mean feat in the aftermath of the slaughters of 1126. On 21 June 1128 the Siarish army made a stand at Auchkeld on the road to Candabh; they outnumbered the Edrish 10 to 1. Layton had made a grievous strategic mistake. Surrounded on all sides, the Lord Lieutenant decided that the only possible path to victory lay in killing Domhnall II, who was visible beneath his large war-flag. Charging with his knights and men-at-arms, Layton found the Siarish infantry forming tight schiltrons. He and all those who rode with him perished; the Edrish army was annihilated. Domhnall II then led his troops onto Dunwall and captured it.

The Battle of Auchkeld was the only pitched battle of the Second War; the Siarish leadership thereafter pursued a Fabian strategy, wearing successive Edrish armies down in a war of attrition. When he heard news of Layton's defeat and death at Auchkeld, Harold II is said to have been so furious that he ripped his own hair out and stomped the floor so hard that his wound re-opened. Over the next three years, three commanders were sent; leadership of the Edrish effort in Siar was frequently rotated by the king, who complained of his commanders' inability to get a firm grip on the rebellion. Follett served from 1128 to 1130 with a force of 4,000, when he was recalled by Harold II; he would return to Siar with the king's army as Earl Marshal in the following year. Following Follett's recall, Marshire was sent to replace him with a new detachment of 3,500, but he sickened en route and died soon after landing. Sayeton was sent in Marshire's place, with 3,500 more men.

Each commander was troubled by the slipperiness of Siarish forces. Dunwall and Candabh were both recaptured by Follett, who found that Domhnall II and his thanes had simply fled into the woods. The Siarish attacked and destroyed isolated garrisons, disrupted lines of supply, and always managed to avoid the Edrish field army, which by Sayeton's arrival in 1130 numbered 11,000 on paper. This was a considerable financial investment by the crown and the resistance on the part of the Siarish was extremely frustrating to Harold II, who in 1129 had to ask a general council for a poll tax, a brutal measure which was very unpopular.

Spending Christmas 1130 at Layton's residence at Dunwall, Sayeton grew ill, succumbing on 16 January 1131. Harold II decided that the only way to fix the Siarish problem would be to do it himself. He sent orders for 2,000 soldiers to remain in Dunwall and the other 9,000 to return home, the evacuation overseen by Lord Knox, the Lord Admiral. Like in 1125, the king now summoned the great feudal host to his assistance. All the ships of the eastern coast were assembled; victuals were sent from all over the realm. Men from north, south, east, and west marched to the side of their king. By August 1131 Harold II had 18,000 men ready to be transported by a fleet of 122 ships. The final reckoning- the Third War- had come.

Third War

The Edrish fleet approaches the coast of Siar, commencing the Third War of Subjugation. 15th-century illustration; the setting is stylized and fictional

When most of the Edrish army had departed in the early months of 1131, Domhnall II and his thanes, with their troops, had emerged from hiding and besieged Dunwall, held by 2,000 men. There was no intelligence as to the intentions of the Edrish; the Siarish assumed that they had simply given up and departed, leaving behind garrisons as had happened four years prior. Dunwall had been heavily fortified by successive Edrish commanders; Layton, Follett, and Sayeton had all built or expanded defenses, including a moat around the base of the hill and stone walls that replaced the old wooden ones. It was thus very hard to take and the Siarish were engaged in the siege for several months. Meanwhile, Harold II had completed the assemblage of his new army, and in September 1131 he once again departed for Siar, leaving Queen Analia, the sixteen year-old Prince Harold, and the council to govern in his absence. Accompanying the king were Follett, Banshire, Greely, Knox, and Northrop. The army was landed over the course of several days. By 18 October 1131 Harold II had reached Malrankeld, where he had stayed five years prior. There, styling himself "sole king in right of Siar", he issued a proclamation denouncing Domhnall II and six named thanes- Adhamh of Auchmatyre, Murchadh of Kinvar, Eachann of Kilnakirk, Foirtchern of Farmoor, Fingal of Glasnamore, and Rhiseart of Benrangar- as traitors, rebels in arms, and disturbers of the king's peace, charging them to appear before the king at Malrankeld by 18 November or face attainder and death. Not surprisingly, these royal summons were ignored.

Domhnall II continued to besiege Dunwall until mid-October, when he became aware of the Edrish invasion and broke off the siege. Dunwall stood in the middle of forty miles of open country; the Siarish king had placed himself in a very precarious position. Harold II did his utmost to ensure that his enemy would not be able to elude him as he had eluded his commanders. He tapped Follett, Banshire, and Greely to lead columns of 3,000 men each that would encircle the Siarish army and force it to give battle. Domhnall II, heading north towards Candabh, was intercepted by Banshire at Colthoul on 1 December. It was snowing and the Siarish were unable to discern the total size of Banshire's force; they assumed it contained all 18,000 Edrishmen, and after a small skirmish they retreated back south.

The Edrish encirclement proceeded at a slow pace, Harold II and his commanders taking care to ensure that all roads were secured. Domhnall II initially holed up in Glasnamore, and then proceeded to the village of Ouldon, from where he sent scouts to report on the progress of the Edrish. In late January, with the four enemy armies only miles away, the council of thanes advised the king to rush head-on at one of the smaller Edrish armies, break through it, and then escape to the vastness of the forest before Harold II could bring the bulk of his troops to bear on the Siarish. Domhnall II agreed to this course of action and targeted Greely's column. Unfortunately, the Edrish columns stretched out for so long that the Siarish scouts were unable to determine which one was Greely's; all flew the banners of the king. Domhnall II received a mistaken report that Greely was approaching from the west, when he was actually coming from the south. The western army was, in fact, commanded personally by Harold II and three times as large as the others. Desperate, seeking any means to escape the trap that had been laid for him, Domhnall II threw himself at this column. It was the greatest strategic blunder in Siarish history.

Inchrannaird: annihilation

"The murder of Inchrannaird... for battle it was none". Siarish troops are massacred in the River Falen

On 6 February 1132 the army of Domhnall II, about 10,000 men, confronted Harold II's 9,000 men on the plain of Inchrannaird, eight miles to the west of Ouldon. The River Falen crisscrossed the plain. The day prior to the battle had been unusually hot, and the winter snow had melted away, leaving the ground muddy. The day itself was also unseasonably warm. As the two armies confronted each other, dark clouds descended over the battlefield, heralding a thunderstorm.

Harold II was outnumbered, but knew that another 9,000 men in the form of the three earls' columns were hastening to his aid. Domhnall II was accompanied by seven thanes, the six named in the October proclamation of treason as well as Iain of Larggour, the son of the flag-bearer killed at Glasnamore six years previously. When he realized that the army he was confronting was not the earl of Greely's, but rather the king of Edreland's, he tried to flee, but was restrained by Larggour, who rebuked him for abandoning his army when so many, like the thane's father, had died or were willing to die for his cause. The Siarish king's face clouded over and his brow furrowed. "Then we are committed," he said, "and must commend our souls to God." He called for his armor, modeled after that of an Asuran knight- a gift to his father from the king of Aleia. Mounting his horse and calling for a lance and shield, he rode out to seek his cousin Harold II in single combat.

When Harold II saw his enemy emerge from the ranks alone, he was incredulous. He called for Lord Northrop to bring him an axe, the weapon with which he was most comfortable. Putting on his own helmet, ringed with a golden circlet, he trotted out to meet the king of Siar. Before leaving his lines, he asked Northrop to settle his affairs if the combat went awry, naming Queen Analia and Follett as co-regents of the kingdom in the event of a minority.

As the two kings approached each other, both spurred their horses on. Domhnall II lowered his lance, intending to skewer his opponent; Harold II maintained a gallop, trying to spot Domhnall's face through his closed visor. He had no shield, only his axe. With a great crash, the dueling horsemen collided. Domhnall II's lance missed its mark and deflected off of Harold II's chainmail armor. King Harold reeled back, then, with boiling rage, stood up in his stirrups and brought his axe down on Domhnall's helmet so hard that his head was crushed. Killed instantly, the king of Siar slumped from his horse onto the ground. Taking the riderless mount by its bridle, Harold II calmly rode back to his own lines to deafening cheers from his men.

The death of Domhnall II was witnessed with mute amazement by his thanes, who now found themselves in command of a kingless and demoralized army. Some sort of argument broke out; Auchmatyre may have pressed his claim to lead the troops as chief advisor to the dead king. Farmoor, a giant of a man, knocked Auchmatyre down and a brawl ensued. The men of the Siarish army, having seen the slaying of their king, now watched as their commanders fought each other. The time was ripe for a general advance; Harold II gave the order, horns sounded, and the Edrish army began to move forward.

As the thunderstorm broke, lashing the darkening battlefield with rain and wind, the Siarish panicked. There was no leadership to be had from the thanes. Men began to turn and run, intending to ford the River Falen and escape; however, during the combat of the kings, Follett's column had arrived through Ouldon undetected and was also now approaching the Siarish, to be joined later in the battle by the men of Banshire and Greely. The Siarish were now hemmed in on all sides and the flight became desperate. Schiltrons and lines dissolved as soldiers attempted to escape. The Edrish advanced from east and west, forcing the Siarishmen into the River Falen, where, like proverbial fish in a barrel, they were trapped. With glee the Edrish charged towards the riverbank. The water became clogged with men and quickly ran red with blood. Men were hacked, stabbed, slashed, cut down. Bumping into each other in close quarters, too panicked to fight effectively, the Siarish died in such numbers that they formed piles that reached to the height of two men; the Edrish stuck their swords and spears into these piles to ensure that no-one survived. Harold II, raising a special banner, decreed no quarter: this was to be a battle of annihilation.

The battle soon degenerated into an outright massacre, with the Edrish aiming to eliminate the entire Siarish ruling class. As lightning flashed in the sky, Auchmatyre was knocked off his horse into the river; struggling to stand in his heavy armor as wave after wave washed over him, he drowned. His enemy Farmoor met a similar fate. Kinvar, a veteran of all three wars and a survivor of the rout at Glasnamore, was unhorsed by Follett and finished off on the ground with a mace. Benrangar was struck dead after he had surrendered. Larggour, Glasnamore, and Kilnakirk also perished on the field or in the river, as did thousands of their countrymen. Some sources said that over 9,000 men, ninety percent of the Siarish army, died at Inchrannaird. The king, seven thanes, countless commoners- all fell at the hands of an Edrish army that only lost several hundred killed or wounded. It is small wonder that contemporary chroniclers refused to describe Inchrannaird as a battle, instead labeling it as "the murder of Inchrannaird" or "the massacre of Inchrannaird"; popular names arose and persisted for centuries, such as Bloody Inchrannaird, the Black Day (in Siar), and Thanes' Run.

King of Siar

Harold II is crowned King of Siar on 17 April 1132

"Bloody Inchrannaird" saw the death of Domhnall II and the entire ruling class of Siar- all seven thanes died alongside their king, who was slain childless. Siar now found itself in unprecedented political waters. The outcome of Inchrannaird was the best-case scenario for Harold II; every potential figure of Siarish resistance had died, and the royal bloodline of the kingdom had ended. The road to the throne was open, and the throne itself was vacant. Leaving the field of Inchrannaird behind, Harold II and his army proceeded on a circuit around the island, leaving garrisons behind in forts and villages. The king ordered that every third village that the army passed through be burned to discourage resistance to the Edrish occupation; this strategy only caused discontent among the population. Even so, any resistance was bound to be token, for the kingdom was leaderless and many of its able-bodied men had died. Having secured control of important locations in Siar, Harold II then rode to Candabh, the ancient royal capital, where on 17 April 1132 he was crowned King of Siar as "Harailt" by the Bishop of Dunwall.

The newly-minted king of Siar was determined not to make the same mistakes made in 1127 that had allowed the Siarish to re-emerge as a military force, dragging the wars on for a further five years. The first priority was to settle Edrish noblemen in Siar, importing feudalism into the kingdom and establishing a basis for more permanent control based off of land tenure. Harold II was in Candabh from April to at least August, during which time he issued charters creating several new earldoms. These were:

  • Ardnamoor, given to Lord Northrop. The earldom of Ardnamoor encompassed the north of Siar south to Candabh. Candabh was the earldom's caput.
  • Dalzell, given to Lord Knox. The earldom of Dalzell encompassed the western coastline, stretching inland about thirty miles, including the town and fort of Malrankeld and the chapel of Braemuir. Malrankeld was the earldom's caput.
  • Kilravock, given to the earl of Follett, making him Edreland's first dual earl. The earldom of Kilravock encompassed the south of the country and the eastern coastal plain. It was by far the largest earldom in size, yet was also the most sparsely populated. Kilravock was the earldom's caput.
  • Dunwall, given to the earl of Banshire. It encompassed the open country around Dunwall and Glasnamore. The geographic features of this earldom made it of enormous strategic influence. Dunwall, the caput, became the capital of Edrish-occupied Siar, home to the exchequer and courts.

Banshire, in his capacity as earl of Dunwall, was created Lord Lieutenant of Siar, to preside over a Siarish Privy Council made up of Edrish noblemen, the Bishop of Dunwall, garrison captains, and a quota of clan chiefs (first fixed at twenty-five). From April 1132 to December 1135, all Siarish clan chiefs swore loyalty to Harold II, either willingly or through coercion.

The next step was to create institutions that could govern Siar during the king's inevitable prolonged absences. The Lord Lieutenant was empowered to appoint a High Sheriff in each earldom, also placing a sheriff in each of the old thanedoms as before. The High Sheriff was given command of all garrison troops in his district and worked with the earl (or, if the earl was absent in Edreland as was common, his designee) to maintain order. The Lord Lieutenant also appointed judges for Siarish courts and escheators to work in the localities. He was, essentially, "vice-king" when the king was absent. This system of extensive delegation from king to Lord Lieutenant took much of the weight of governing Siar off of the king's shoulders and put it onto his subordinates'. It is small wonder that Banshire was never able to return to Edreland after his appointment, and died in his adopted land in 1135. After his death, the lord lieutenancy was given to Edrishmen that did not have significant interests at home, such as minor barons with a proven record of loyalty.

Having set up a viceregal administration, Harold II now issued decrees creating a Siarish court system. The Court Baroniam's jurisdiction was extended over the island, but otherwise Siar enjoyed legal institutions entirely separate from those employed in Edreland, although identical in structure. The Court of Eyre was the lowest court, operating at a local level, followed by two appellate courts, the Crown Court and the Court of Civil Pleas, and finally the Court of King's Bench as a court of last resort. Cases before the King's Bench were judged by the Lord Lieutenant, or the king when he was visiting Siar. The Justiciar for Siar fulfilled the day-to-day functions of judicial administration, similarly to his Edrish counterpart, the Lord High Justiciar.

There was also a Siarish Bench of Exchequer and Court of Escheat, again identical to their Edrish counterparts. There was a Lord Steward, appointed by the Lord Lieutenant, to supervise the fiscal system. The king or Lord Lieutenant would levy taxes without asking a general council; the practice of calling Siarish councils, which were known as "seanadhs", did not begin until the later reign of Edward IV, when the Edrish hold on the country was beginning to slip.

Harold II's achievement in building a Siarish bureaucracy from scratch was remarkable, and he planted the seeds of feudalism in the kingdom; by the end of the reign, Siar had been entirely settled by Edrish lords who held land under tenure laws just like they had known back home. As king of Siar, "Harailt" returned to his domain only once after 1132, bringing his two eldest sons with him in 1140. During this visit, he conducted himself energetically, appointing a raft of new sheriffs, rotating Civil Pleas justices, and summoning the chiefs to a great feast at Candabh, where he bade them swear loyalty again on bended knee. The king also paid for the construction of a hospital at Braemuir, run by monks.

For the most part, Siar was out of sight, out of mind for Harold II; successive Lords Lieutenant ran the kingdom during his absences in Edreland. It was not until later in the decade of the 1140s that it would rise again, painfully, in the king's view.

Religious struggles

Since the Battle of Axlemouth in 1026, the kingdom of Edreland had been under the nominal authority of the Patriarch of the North, the head of the Alydian Church in Newrey. This was a vague and undefined political settlement that slowly lost relevance over the course of the 11th century as successive Edrish kings simply ignored the Patriarch across the Asuran Channel. In 1035, Edward II had come to the throne with armed patriarchal support, but these soldiers departed after his inauguration and over the course of his reign homage declined into lip-service. Edward III abandoned the oath of fealty at his inauguration in 1062; in 1075, however, he traveled to Newrey to calm patriarchal concerns of a breach, reaffirming the Patriarch's status as leader of Edreland's Alydian faithful. Harold I did not swear the oath at his inauguration, and it was not recited by his seven year-old son in 1101. By this time, the only real power that the Patriarch retained was to appoint bishops and fill vacant benefices. Even though the Patriarch's authority was all but ignored, he still continued to claim temporal dominance over the kingdom, styling himself "by the grace of God, lord paramount of Edreland" in communications to king and barons.

In 1113, the Newreyan Revolt occurred across the channel in Newrey, forcing the Patriarch, John III, to flee. Finding the roads to Midrasia blocked, he took ship to Edreland, arriving in Tremaine in time to officiate at the wedding of Harold II and Analia of Carcossica. The young king was not sure what to do with the Patriarch, his nominal overlord; his presence in Edreland as "lord paramount" would no doubt damage the authority of the crown. Harold II decided to install John III in Langfield Castle in the far north of the kingdom, where he would be kept in comfort befitting his station but too far away to influence politics. This awkward status quo, with the man claiming to be the king's superior residing within the kingdom, prevailed until the 1130s. In 1127 John III issued a denunciation of the royal decree Sede vacante, prompting Harold II to order Sayeton, the Earl Marshal, to restrict communications from Langfield and place an armed guard around the castle to prevent the Patriarch from leaving. Essentially a prisoner, John III continued, in vain, to style himself "lord paramount" and trumpet his ancient authority over the Edrish crown.

After returning home from Siar in 1132, Harold II, now entering his middle age, decided that it was finally time to resolve the messy situation created by his improvised policy of twenty years earlier. Several options were available to do so. One was to simply kill the Patriarch and block the election of another, but this would no doubt enrage powerful figures on the Asuran mainland, such as the king of Midrasia, that Harold II could not afford to anger. Another was to exile the Patriarch to Siar, where the Lord Lieutenant, the earl of Banshire, was ordered to prepare accommodations twice, in 1133 and 1134; nothing came of these plans, and the quarters hopefully readied by Banshire remained empty. By 1136, it seemed that the king was finally able to back up his desire to resolve the thorny issue of the Patriarch's status with real action; on 11 March at Domergue- where he was staying to observe the construction work- he appointed John, earl of Anshire, Chancellor, Robert, earl of Marshire, Lord High Justiciar, Thomas, earl of Rosebery, Lord Steward, William Landellis, David de Keyston, and the bishops of Tremaine, Melville, and Irvine as his commissioners to treat with John III, Patriarch of the North, at midsummer 24 June 1136. On 19 June, however, Harold II was forced to suspend plans for negotiations by the outbreak of the Eventide Rising. Once the rebellion had been defeated, the king turned back to negotiations, appointing the same commissioners to meet with the Patriarch at Langfield on 10 January 1137.

The negotiations which ensued between the crown's representatives and John III in January 1137 were apparently inconclusive. Records pertaining to Harold II's attempts to come to some settlement with the Patriarch are only extant again from October of that year, when the king appointed the same commissioners, along with Henry, earl of Dalzell to represent Siar, to go to Langfield again by Christmastide and reopen talks. The commission included a copy of the instructions given by the king to the commissioners; namely, that the Patriarch "should quitclaim for now and all time any right he has, may have, or claims to have as a rightful authority over the lord king, and also should put himself under the king's power as a bishop like any other, and should quitclaim his right to appoint the holders of bishoprics and benefices, else he lose his title, properties, and safe quarters in this kingdom". Essentially, Harold II was forcing the Patriarch to either submit himself to the Edrish crown entirely, or be sent packing back to Newrey. Unsurprisingly, John III, by now in failing health, refused to accept these terms, perhaps relying on the inevitable Asuran outrage if he was forced to surrender power. For the second time, talks between king and Patriarch broke up with no result.

John III died at Langfield on 15 February 1138. Harold II had now been handed a trump card to break patriarchal strength; the late Patriarch's steward and fellow cleric Edgar de Beorn, the designated successor, lived under Edrish armed guard and would have to secure the king's support before taking up his position. On 23 February, Harold II issued a fresh commission, naming the usual group of barons and prelates to meet with the Patriarch-designate and present the same terms as had been tabled several months prior. Negotiations opened at Pentecost 1138; besides the commissioners, Harold II himself seems to have made anxious attendance at these talks; from spring to autumn 1138, he was on a circuit around the north of his kingdom accompanied by his council and eldest son. No records of the actual proceedings survive, but from the eventual result it is clear what occurred at Langfield; Edgar de Beorn was offered the position of "Archbishop of Edreland", holding ecclesiastical authority over all Edrish bishops, in exchange for his demission of the office of Patriarch of the North and relinquishing of claims to hold authority over the Edrish crown. This was a sweeter deal than that offered to John III- the archbishopric had not been included before- and may represent an improved relationship between Harold II and Edgar de Beorn. Beorn evidently decided to accept; on 9 September the Patriarch-designate set his seal to an indenture containing the terms. The king, Anshire, Marshire, Rosebery, and Dalzell also sealed the indenture. On 23 September 1138 Edgar de Beorn was consecrated as Archbishop of Edreland.

The Treaty of Langfield was sealed by Harold II, Archbishop Edgar, and an assembly of barons, knights, and prelates on 6 January 1139. It formally confirmed the terms set out in the September indenture and clarified the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the new archbishop.

After several years of horse-trading, Harold II had finally secured dominance over the Patriarch- and for barely any price. Some historians consider the Treaty of Langfield to be one of his finest achievements; he solved a problem that had troubled his predecessors for decades and neutralized a threat to his authority with the slight application of force and hard bargaining. Unfortunately, the Treaty represented the last real positive achievement that Harold II would complete during his reign. As he entered his late forties, two decades of bright success would give way to political and personal winter.

Later years (1139-54)

Harold II is wounded by his second son, Edward, at the Battle of Marsfold Green in 1142

The last fifteen years of Harold II's reign were marked by violent intrafamilial conflicts that rocked the kingdom twice: an armed rebellion in 1141 and the Four Earls' War in 1147.

As he entered the 1140s, the king, with four surviving sons, still had not named an heir. Harold II found it difficult to maintain political stability while dealing with the demands of all four sons, usually for land or recognition as heir; to keep them in line, he refused to give them marriages, a somewhat curious decision when considering dynastic stability. In 1141 the king designated Harold, his eldest son who had already been given a role in government, as heir to the throne, a decision that had been expected but that nevertheless drove his next two sons, Edward and William, to rebel. The princes were able to gather a hodgepodge army of discontented knights and minor lords; the rebellion took a year to put down, and in his anger Harold II banished his sons. It took the intervention of Queen Analia to smooth out the quarrel in 1143; four years later, the princes, by now created earls, turned on each other over their father's Siarish inheritance. By 1150 the kingdom was wearied by this internecine fighting; rents had slumped and the crown was finding it more difficult to take in money. As Harold II's health declined, the royal earls agreed to share in the administration of the government, with Prince Harold, earl of Donshire, taking the lead role. The king, who now resided entirely at Domergue Palace, was incapacitated by a stroke in 1153; a general council appointed Donshire to act as regent of the kingdom. Donshire, who gained full royal power in January 1154, used the three months before Harold II's death to consolidate his hold on Edreland, imprisoning his brothers and forfeiting his father's allies, replacing him with members of his own affinity. On Harold II's death on 30 April 1154 aged 60, Donshire succeeded as Harold III.

Family tensions

Harold II and Analia of Carcossica had four sons who lived to adulthood. Harold was born in 1115; Edward in 1119; William in 1122; and Alexander in 1127. A fifth son, Henry, was stillborn in 1130- Queen Analia's last pregnancy. The princes were brought up at the royal residences at Tremaine and Irvine. Harold II seems to have been especially fond of his eldest son and namesake, Prince Harold, disbursing considerable sums for his education and paying for an expensive suit of armor, attired in which the prince accompanied his father on campaign during the Eventide Rising in 1136. As opposed to his predecessors, Harold II did not designate an heir to the throne until 1141, when he had been forty years on the throne. Since pre-unification times, the eldest son of the king had always succeeded to the throne, even in the case of minority. The king may have felt Prince Harold to have been inadequate for the crown in some way; this is necessarily speculation, but by 1141 Harold II, who had achieved a high measure of security for his kingdom and his line by providing four sons for the succession, still had not decided how this succession should be routed.

Prince Harold is designated heir by Harold II at a general council in 1141

In 1139, having broken the power of the Patriarch of the North, the king, with the advice of his chancellor Anshire, began to consider the question of the succession seriously for the first time. A "devise for the succession" was drawn up by the jurist and royal clerk Thomas de Peyton; this no longer survives, but its contents were reported in later chronicles. The "devise" of 1139-40 designated Prince Harold as heir to the crowns of Edreland and Siar; Edward would receive his father's Siarish demesne lands and the younger sons parts of the royal demesne lands in Edreland. A general council met at Irvine in the spring of 1140 to consider the "devise"; no records of the proceedings survive but it is clear that the council rejected the proposal to divide crown lands on the king's death out of hand. Harold II departed to Siar with the princes Harold and Edward soon after, perhaps in a fit of pique, returning later that year to consider another plan for the succession.

The king, accepting the advice of the spring council, again decided to leave the dual crown to Prince Harold, but also to give him all the royal demesne lands in both kingdoms, with monetary appanages for the three other sons. A general council was called to meet in Tremaine on 13 March 1141 to discuss and confirm this settlement, outlined in a decree issued from Domergue on All Saints' Day 1140 and re-issued, with modifications likely proposed by Anshire and Ardnamoor, keeper of the privy seal, in January.

Prince Edward was now twenty-two, and Prince William sixteen, on the cusp of manhood; Prince Alexander was only fourteen and too young to take a political role. Edward and William were indignant at the terms laid out in the new "devise" of late 1140 that would exclude them from inheriting any portion of crown lands. As sons of the king, they could reasonably expect to become landholding lords in their own right, such as the three younger sons of Edward II, two of whom became earls during their father's lifetime. During the Christmas court held at Domergue Palace, the princes confronted the king about the "devise" and a heated argument ensued, with Harold II purportedly striking Prince Edward with his fist. The princes retired to their chambers to sulk while the king, taken aback by his sons' reaction, effected a reconciliation through Queen Analia. Edward and William were apparently promised a landed settlement in the upcoming general council.

When the council met on 13 March 1141, the princes discovered, to their surprise, that no such settlement was forthcoming. The king had left the "devise" exactly unchanged. On the fifth day of discussions, it was decided to support Harold II's succession plan; Prince Harold, twenty-six, was seated on his father's throne and a gold coronet was placed upon his head, constituting official recognition as Heir of Edreland.

Prince Edward, upon witnessing his elder brother's investiture as heir, departed the general council in a rage. It is said that the queen tried to stop him at the door but was pushed aside. William remained at court but rode off several days later to join Edward, who had departed for the manor of Holle, held by his friend Sir James Davies, in the west of the kingdom. Harold II received the news of his sons' flight dispassionately, not realizing that within months a major rebellion would be brewing- stirred up by his own progeny.

Rebellion: 1141-43

A romanticized depiction of rebel soldiers killing Sir Herbert Cleary, sheriff of Holleshire. Prince Edward rides on a white horse in the background

After reaching Holle, the princes engaged in discussions with Sir James Davies, seeking to ascertain how many men he could muster from his lands. It is likely that Edward, William, and Sir James had secret consultations with other local magnates, men such as Gilbert Horton, lord of Farranton, Roger Palmer, lord of Bushwell, and knights such as William de Coen, James Alland, and John de Morrow. Led by Prince Edward, these men began to formulate a conspiracy against the king; an army of the westland would march southeast to Tremaine, where it would force Harold II to nullify the succession "devise" and grant fair settlements to his younger sons.

As the weeks passed, the conspiracy grew in scale and scope. Men disadvantaged by Harold II's grasping kingship came out of the woodwork from all over the west of the kingdom and beyond. Messages were exchanged between the ringleaders- Prince Edward, Sir James, Farranton, and Bushwell- and barons from increasingly far away: the young earl of Sayeton, Harold, just released from Harold II's ward after ten years as a minor earl, was persuaded to commit himself, ten knights, and 500 foot soldiers. As the conspiracy grew larger, knowledge of it became widespread, eventually reaching Harold II himself at Domergue. The king refused to believe this "devil's talk", trusting in the loyalty of his sons; meanwhile, men and horses were converging on Holle. By May 1141 the princes' army numbered upwards of 1,000 men. It was not until early June that the king, having heard credible reports of this muster, ordered a herald to ride to Holle and summon the princes to the royal court to answer the rumors against them. The herald, James de Kendal, was joined along tge way by Sir Herbert Cleary, the sheriff of Holleshire, and a party of the sheriff's horsemen.

Kendal arrived at Holle sometime before 8 June, on which date he, Cleary, and their men were killed by the rebels, setting off armed conflict. It seems that the princes' men moved to capture Kendal and Cleary; the two men tried to flee on their horses but were dismounted and murdered. Sir James Davies, who held military command of the princes' small army, had effectively forced Harold II's hand. The king wasted no time in calling up the feudal host and issuing a proclamation denouncing the rebellion and condemning the "evil advisers" who had led his sons astray. Harold II also directed Anshire as Justiciar of Baroniam to pass sentences of attainder on Sir James, Farranton, Bushwell, and all other knights and lords who aided and abetted the rising. This was a very efficient response; the host's muster date was set for 24 June 1141. The king was stunned when Sayeton and his men abandoned the host, riding west to join the princes. Discounting the traitorous young earl, Harold II was joined by the retinues and levies of Anshire, Marshire, Rosebery, Greely, Banshire, Ardnamoor, and Dalzell, with an additional contingent of Siarish troops sailing to reinforce them. All told, this army numbered about 8,000 men; a far cry from the national unity army that had invaded Siar with 18,000 soldiers in 1132, but large enough to put down the western rising.

As the princes' army marched towards Tremaine, it swelled in size. As the senior baron present, Sayeton replaced Sir James as commander; the earl directed the rebel troops, of whom there were now over 3,000, to take and sack the town of Whitney and then reduce Carolan Castle, which contained one of the royal mints. The rebels now found themselves in possession of a huge hoard of coins. Sayeton, at the urging of Prince Edward, sent men out of the kingdom into all corners of Asura seeking mercenaries. The prince also attempted to redirect the army towards Irvine, to capture the palace and its throne room, but Sayeton won out and the troops continued on towards Tremaine. As support for their cause grew, Edward and William became more swollen-headed. Their goal slowly morphed from forcing a fair future political settlement to removing Prince Harold as heir. It is not known exactly what the princes now desired; they may have wanted their father to split his kingdoms between them, with Edward inheriting Edreland and William receiving Siar.