The kingdom of England is a state of turmoil. Decades of upheaval and war have caused many shifts in the kingdom's fortunes. Most recently, the King of France's invasion and withdrawal and King John's death have left the kingdom in the hands of a minor, King Henry III (b. 1207), who will not exert his full authority until 1230. As a result, many barons refuse to heed to the Regency in place, leaving England, Wales, and parts of Ireland without a strong leader and many headstrong local nobility.
On the other hand, Wales has a particularly strong leader who has managed to consolidate power and bring the other Welsh princes to pay him homage as their overlord. He deals with the Marcher barons on his own terms, which rankles the members of the Royal Court.
Given that the covenant sits on the Welsh-English border, they will find it impossible to avoid political entanglements.
Church and King
Kingdom of England
- Monarch: King Henry III of England, 1216-1272
Principality of Powys Wenwynwyn
- Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd and Powys Wenwynwyn, 1173-1240
- Deuddwr Commote
- Village of Melverly (Nova Semitae)
Roman Catholic Church
- Province of Canterbury > Diocese of St. Asaph > Archdeaconry of St. Asaph > Deanery of Marchia
- Pope: Gregory IX (1227-1241)
- Archbishop of Canterbury: Richard le Grant (1229-1231)
- Bishop of St. Asaph: Bishop Abraham 1225-1233
- Archdeacon of St. Asaph: None, 1210-1230; David, 1231–1240
- Deanery of Marchia: Unknown
- Parish of Melverley: Fr. Bartolomeo, 1228-
Village of Melverley
- Overlord: Lady Angharad ferch Madog
- Manor Holder: Sir William Cornwell
- Council of Magi
- Autocrat: Freyde bat Sholem
- Speaker: Daniel ben Jusef
The Covenant's Overlord
The covenant has resolved the issue of its place in the feudal society. This came about due to the marriage of Geoffrey of Jerbiton to Angharad of Wales. During their marriage, Prince Llewlwyn exchanged some land with the Prince of Powys Fadog. In doing so, he created Angharad as the new overlord of this land, which included the land the covenant lies upon.
Angharad, in turn, granted some of it upon Sir William of Cornwell as his fief, receiving his fealty and homage in return. Sir William then split the land keeping some of himself, but granting the land already settled by the covenant to the Council of Members. In this way, a definitive chain of overlords extending up through Llewlwyen the Great now exists, with taxes being paid upwards. The covenant is now firmly a part of Wales, even if it does open it up to more direct meddling and politicking.
Sir William, Lord of Melverley
Sir William is no longer landless and is now the covenant's overlord, after being granted his own fief by Angharad of Wales which includes the lands the covenant is settled upon. The arrangement with Sir William is that the covenant will continue to govern itself but pay its taxes to him. Sir William has taken the north-western portion of his fief as his own demesne.
The Covenant's Bishop
With the covenant's position as being in Wales, it now clearly falls under the bishopric of St. Asaph and under the spiritual jurisdiction of that bishop. Prior to his death, the covenant negotiated a relatively small tithe due to its relative lack of Christians from whom a tithe is expected. It also opened talks about filling in the chapel with a permanent priest, but this was not settled before the bishop died.
As of 1225, the chapel still lacks a full-time priest, though the covenant has a local candidate (Bartolomeo of Imola) who would require him to be ordained as a priest, should it be accepted. However, the new Bishop Abraham wishes to assign a Welsh priest, who could be used a spy to keep an eye on the covenant. In 1227 he has sent his dean to Sir William to arrange for this, finding it distasteful to deal with a jewish Autocrat. The covenant, using connections to the Papal Curia, finally got Bartolomeo appointed and raised to priesthood to take over as parish priest in 1229.
The Landless Knights
The covenant is home to several landless knights who have followed various magi to Conventus Muri. Two are already part of the Anglo-Norman system of knighthood, Sir Daniele and Sir Stephen. There are two foreign knights, Ritter Sigmund and Sir Jusef, from Germany and Poland, respectively.
Sir Daniele was ostensibly sent from Normandy to serve a distant relation to the baron who knighted him, but said relation had since died out and been dispossessed of his manors as well. Since he is not welcome back home, he is a knight-errant in search of a lord to serve.
Ritter Sigmund and Sir Jusef are effectively knight-errants, as their knighting was not done through the Anglo-Norman system so it is unlikely that they would receive manors short of exceptional service to a local lord.
Sir Stephen is a recent arrival, and father of the wife of one of the magi. He is knowledgeable with arms but suffers from physical impairments due to his lengthy imprisonment by King John.
As he has been knighted within the Anglo-Norman system of knights, he is eligible to receive land should he find an appropriate and generous overlord. Given his connection with the covenant and his constant travel, this seems unlikely.
Sigmund, being a foreigner, has little chance of gaining a manor, unless he does something very mighty for the Church or a temporal Lord. That said, he is a returned Crusader, which does count for a lot with certain populations. A fief connected with the Church is a possibility, particularly the Templars.
Sir Stephen de Aston
Father of Gwendolyn and a knight dispossessed of his lands by King John. He has been moved to the covenant and works as a trainer. He is getting old and suffers physical ailments due to his decade-long imprisonment. His former baron has washed his hands of him and would require a new overlord to acquire lands. That said, he has no sons to inherit those lands.
Sir Hywel ap Rhun
A welsh knight-errant sent by Angharad to protect Geoffrey when he leaves the protection of the covenant.
Timeline of the British Isles
While the PCs do not know this, the following are expected to follow real-world events. Included are Jewish-population events due to the covenant's population.
- 1219-1272 - 49 separate levies on Jews are imposed, raising some 200,000 marks for the Crown, and exorbitant amount of money
- 1228-1229 - The Sixth Crusade begins
- 1231 - Simon de Montfort expels all Jews from Leicester and annuls all debts owed to Jews by his subjects
- 1235 - Famine strikes England resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths through starvation. London alone suffers 20,000 dead
- 1237 - Border between Scotland and England established by the Treaty of York
- 1240 - Death of Llywelyn ab Iorwerth (Llywelyn the Great), prince of Wales; Dafydd ap Llywelyn accedes to the throne of Gwynedd
- 1246 - Death of Dafydd ap Llywelyn; Llywelyn ap Gruffudd (Llywelyn the Last) accedes to the throne of Gwynedd (he does not claim the title of prince of Wales until 1258)
- 1248-1254 - The Seventh Crusade begins
- 1252-1253 - The driest back-to-back years ever. London and the south of England are particularly hard-hit with heat and drought, resulting in many deaths due to starvation and heat stroke.
- 1253 - Jews are forbidden from settling in towns where a jewish community does not already exist
- 1255 - King Henry III sells the Jewish community to his brother, Richard of Cornwall, for 5,000 marks and loses control of them for one year.
- 1261 - The University of Northampton is founded, only to be shut down in 1265 after bishops and magnates petitioned the King, believing it threatened Oxford and Cambridge.
- 1264-1267 - Simon de Montfort leads rebel English barons to defeat Henry III at the Battle of Lewes; start of the Second Barons' War
- 1267 - Henry III of England recognizes the authority of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd in Wales
- 1270-1272 - The Eighth and Ninth Crusades begin
- 20 November 1272 - Edward I (Edward Longshanks) assumes the throne of England
- 1275 - Statue of the Jewery is passed, outlawing usury and giving Jews 15 years to adjust from one of the few ways they could make money.
- 1275-1307 - Edward I calls together knights, clergy, and burghers to advise him, forming the first parliaments
- 1275 - An informal parliament passes the First Statute of Westminster
- 1277 - England annexes Wales, a state of affairs which lasted until 1283
- 1279 - Statute of Mortmain
- 1282 - Death of Llywelyn ap Gruffudd, prince of Wales; Dafydd ap Gruffudd accedes to the throne of Gwynedd
- 1283 - Death of Dafydd ap Gruffudd; English conquest of Wales
- 1285 - An informal parliament passes the Second Statute of Westminster
- 1287 - Revolt of Rhys ap Maredudd in Wales
- 1290 - An informal parliament passes the Quia Emptores, or Third Statute of Westminster
- 18 July 1290 - Edict of Explusion - All Jews are banished from England, Wales, and English-controlled Ireland. Many Jews emigrate to France and the Netherlands, and to countries such as Poland, which at that time protected them (see Statute of Kalisz).
- 1294 - Revolt of Madog ap Llywelyn in Wales
- 1295 - Scotland and France sign a mutual self-defense pact against England (Auld Alliance)
- 1295 - Edward I calls together what will become known as the Model Parliament
- 1297 - William Wallace and the Scots defeat the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge