Bretonnia

Bretonnia is a large feudal kingdom based on Arthurian Britain and France that was formed from a collection of warring city states by Gilles Le Breton at the bidding of the Lady of the Lake who would later become the patron deity of Bretonnia. Bretonnia is probably the second most powerful nation in the Old World after the Empire and has a strict class system where the upper class abide by (supposed) principles of chivalry and are rich and educated. The lower class is the majority and is made up of oppressed peasants. Bretonnians eschew Black Powder weaponry in favour of more traditional mounted combat using knights and footmen/archers as support.

“….Thou shalt give unto thine glorious liege the taxes that he requires….Thou shalt labour all but feast day’s…..And no more than a tenth-share shall you keep for kith and kin….Rejoice! For a Knight of Bretonnia provides your shield”

—Vow’s of the Peasants unto their Bretonnian Lord

The Kingdom of Bretonnia is a Human nation that lies between the Grey Mountains and the Great Ocean, within lands that were once part of the High Elves domain in -3000 IC. Bretonnia is second only in size, and military might unto that of the Empire, having a culture and society that revolves around the ideals of nobility, social birthright and the upholding of a strictly enforced code of chivalry.

The nation of Bretonnia has also been credited for having the greatest Knights in the entire Old World, rivaling, or in some ways even surpassing that of the Imperial Empire’s own Knightly Orders. As such, it is a common practice for the armies of Bretonnia to be comprised mostly of Knights and Noblemen, supported by massed peasant levies of archers and pikemen. Each Knight is required by Law, {these being mostly the edicts of the King}, to bring his own vassle army of levies, {His Knight’s fee}, to provide the Bretonnian military with much needed man-power.

The religion that currently dominates this mighty feudal nation, is the worship of a local elemental diety known only as the “Lady of the Lake”. This mysteirous Goddess of Purity, Light and Order is believed to have aided King Gilles le Breton in unifying Bretonnia unto a single nation, during a Greenskin Invasion from the Southern Mountains in 978 IC. The Bretonnian calender is offset from the Sigmarian Empire’s by about 977 years, as the people of the Bretonni weren’t fully united until King Gilles reign as the first Bretonnian monarch and Grail Knight.

Bretonnian recorded history can vary greatly from dutchy to dutchy, being recorded and maintained such as it is, mostly by monks within the many Grail Monestary’s dotting the land. Even today most Bretonnians are completely illiterate, this includes the Nobles, all of whom retain through patronage a stable of artists, musicians, scolars and monks to do such work for them.

History

Common Mythology and Pre-History

The Land of Bretonnia did not in fact truly exist during the time of Sigmar and the earliest days of the Empire. Indeed, many centuries have passed before a great and noble Knight united the highly independent and prideful Brettonni tribes in the same way Sigmar had with the birth of the Empire.

The earliest days of Bretonnian history are not well recorded, though it has been conjectured that as within the wider world, it may have once been ruled over by the cold-blooded Lizardmen at the dawn of the planet’s creation. Long after their first great struggle to hold back the Forces of Chaos, during the First Chaos Incurions, the land that would later become Bretonnia was settled by the High Elves of Ulthuan, this being done during the reign of Phoenix King Bel-Shanaar the Explorer. Many elven colonies dotted the coast and larger rivers of Bretonnia during the first years of their colonization, of which the most famous was the city of Tor Alessi, (now L’Anguille). These colonies survived the civil war with Malekith, and then the Sundering relatively unscathed, but soon faced the full wrath of the Dwarves in a time known as The War of the Beards. Bretonnia was the primary battleground of this war, which lasted for well over three centuries. The conflict finally ended with the death of Phoenix King Caledor II, and the subsequent capture of the Phoenix Crown by the Dwarves. However, the war had so weakened the High Elves by this time, that the next Phoenix King Caradryel, ordered a withdrawal of all Elves back to Ulthuan, leaving the Elven colonies in ruin. Those few Elves to refuse this command, retreated into the enchanted glades of Athel Loren and over the centuries degenerated into the now feral Wood Elves.

It was at this time that the first nomadic human settlers of Bretonnia appeared. Circa fifteen hundred years before the time of Sigmar, an agricultural tribe of people arrived on the western side of Axe Bite Pass after escaping the many wars being fought in the East as the Greenskin menace began to overwhelm all in their path. These primitive tribes had little knowledge of metalwork or warfare, and relied heavily on agriculture and flint-crafted weapons to survive in the harsh wilderness.

These groups of people were known to have worshipped a primordial earth elemental goddess called Rhya, and erected many primitive stone circles in her honour. These Stone Circles were a place of natural power, and were marked with symbols that remain as a foundation of the Druidic Old Faith unto this day. Presumably it was around this time that the Greenskin race followed them into the lands of Bretonnia, where they would become a consistent plague to all of humanity.

Approximately five hundred years later, around one thousand years before the time of Sigmar. A second wave of human migrations crossed over the World’s Edge Mountains in order to also escape the Greenskin threat. These new human tribes were warlike, strong and and fierce, they fought greenskin and indigenous human populations alike. While most of these tribes settled within and eventually became the Empire, one far ranging tribe crossed the Grey Mountains. This tribe, called the Bretonni, was to give its name to the land they found. Like their eastern kin, they fought both the Greenskins and earth-worshippers, and thus soon became the dominant culture within this new land. The Bretonni were also master horsemen and possessed of a proud martial bearing. They settled and farmed the new land, soon splintering into smaller groups which made war upon each other with just as much gusto as any other enemy. They would thus remain within this state for almost two thousand years.

The Unification of Bretonnia (978 to 1447 IC)

Age of Unification

When Sigmar founded the Empire, he extended an invitation unto all the Bretonni warlords to join him in his new confederation. Despite noble Sigmar’s goal of pan-human unity, the cultural differences between the Bretonni and his people were apparently too large to overcome, thus his offer was quickly rebuffed by them. While the Empire experienced many growing pains throughout the first millennium of its existence, the Bretonni would remain as a whole, a fractured people. It would be foolish to say that they did not advance though, trade and knowledge gained from the Dwarf holds within the Grey Mountains, allowed the the early sub-tribes of Bretonnia to resemble something closer towards their modern state, with each petty King or Warlord renaming themselves as a Duke of his own small province.

The Greenskins had lived within Bretonnia alongside the Bretonni for many years, and as is normal for these foul creatures, their population eventually reached saturation point, and they began to overrun all the Bretonni lands. The Dukedoms of Cuileux and Glanborielle were the first to be consumed by this ever greater multiplication of Orcs and Goblins, eventually leading the remaing Dukedoms into a desperate fight for thier lives. One of the Dukes however, Duke Gilles of Bastonne, led a crusade alongside his peers in their effort to stop the Greenskin menace. He was the most highly respected amongst his peers for slaying the dragon Smearghus earlier in his reign. Gilles rallied first Duke Thierulf d’Lyonesse, and then his greatest and most loyal friend, Duke Landuin d’Mousillon unto his side for the coming conflict, but even these three men and their combined grand army, found themselves outmatched and facing almost certain annihilation.

This inexpirenced and badly battered “Bretonni” army then encamped beside a lake. Upon the morrow, they felt certain to face their doom upon the field of battle, with the war drums of the Orc Waagh allowing them no rest or sleep. That morning, when all hope seemed lost for the Bretonni cause, a true miracle unfolded upon Gilles and his army of Knights.

For as Gilles knelt before the lakeside to drink of its pure waters and pray for strength. An ethereal and heavenly beautiful woman arose from out of the mists, leaving the Bretonni army agasp and afraid. Gilles was the first to make a move, raising the bloodstained and tattered banner of Bastonne high, inspired by some genius or desperate madness, he cried out “Lady, wouldst thou bless mine banner!” He then dipped it into the lake at the lady’s feet, whence he drew it forth and raised it high again so all could see, it was still dry and fully restored, only now also ablazed with the glowing icon of a golden Grail. Other Dukes and knights then scrambled to follow his example, asking the Lady to bless their sword, lance, or warhorse for the coming battle. Finally the lady held forth a large gilded chalice overflowing with light, giving it first to Gilles and then his companions to drink from, and thus regain their strenght to do what is neccessary to win.

These three became the first Grail Knights, and below the banner of the “Lady of the Lake” the Bretonni won their first great victory against the Greenskins. Gilles then led his army across all of Bretonnia, fighting the twelve grand battles against its enemies that lead to the formation of the twelve surviving and original Dukedoms of Bretonnia. The Lady appeared again and again as each Duke proved his worthiness to her, offering the grail unto each of these noble knights as a reward for their bravery during battle. The twelve Dukes, or Grail Companions as they soon became known, inflicted a final decisive defeat upon the greenskins and forced them back into the deep woods and mountains. Thus with peace won, it was agreed that so to would there be peace amongst the surviving twelve Duchies. Gilles was dubbed “le Breton and le Uniter”, and with a blessing from the Lady of the Lake’s representative, the mystical Fay Enchantress, he thus became the first King of Bretonnia.

With the tragic death of Gilles in the year 17 (995 IC) by Orcish ambushers, the Kingdom of Bretonnia was left with a dilemma. There was much wailing lamentation and gnashing of teeth throughout the lands, as all Bretonnia mourned the passing of their first king. Gilles’s only recognised son, Louis was crowned the next Duke of Bastonne, and a possible new King of Bretonnia. However, the question of whether he should also be proclaimed King of all Bretonnia, as old tribal tradition allowed, was much debated. Many advocated that Landium d’Moussilon should take the position, whilest other’s believed Landuin’s rival, Thierulf d’Lyonesse or the wise Marcus d’Bordeleaux, should make a more suitable heir to the crown.

The majority of Dukes eventually agreed that Louis should take on the duty, but this then posed another greater problem. Louis had not drunk from the Holy Grail, as had his father and all other Dukes at that time of the Kingdom’s founding. No knight it had been decreed, no matter of birthright, could become Lord over all Bretonnia without first having the blessings of both the Fay Enchantress and the Lady of the Lake. So it was that Louis left court, setting out immediately upon his quest to find the Lady, and thus prove his worth before her sight, towards earning himself the title of King. This act has also earned him a title of “The Rash”. This event eventually led to the tradition of the Questing knight.

For year’s Louis “le Rash” d’Breton traveled the length and breadth of Bretonnia, righting wrongs and doing great deeds in service to the Goddess. In his absense, Duke Theirulf d’ Lyonesse acted as steward of all Bretonnia, much to the annoyance of Duke Landium d’Mousillon. Year’s later, Louis returned to his ancestral castle astride a mighty purebreed charger, his golden hair was shining and his eyes were aglow with a Divine noble pressence. None could doubt that the Lady had blessed him, so thus his subjects fell unto their knee’s before him, and pledge their loyalty to the new King.

So it was that Louis was crowned King of all Bretonnia, and presented with the golden Crown, a gift given by the Fay Enchantress herself. All Bretonnia rejoiced in their new monarch, and made ready to do what ever he demands. His first act as king was to formalize the code of honour and chilvary that his father and the Companions had lived by. These original vows of chivalric knighthood still exist within the halls of Bastonne, upon a crumbling parchment, decorated with an elaborate script, detailing all the duties and privileges of a knight, and those of all other ranks within noble society. All across Bretonnia, knights eagerly embraced these vows, and many noble warriors gave up all deed of title and title, castles and wealth, Thus to embark upon the path of a Questing Knight. A wave of faith swept through Bretonnia, and the Lady of the Lake verily became the primary deity of the noble classes.

The Dukes continued to push back all evil from within their border’s, and aided in the struggles of their neighbours to do like wise, whichl lead to Bretonnia flourishing with wealth and power. The great port cities grew large and sprawling, prosperous with renewed trade. Grail chapels were built in places of holy significance, and the Fay Enchantress guided the Dukes of Bretonnia in their worship of the Lady. For the next few hundred years Bretonnia continued to grow in both strenght and cultural influence. This was a golden age of chivalry, and when their lands were threatened, they crushed all foe’s that dared to face them. King Gulliaume defeated the Orc tribes of the Massif Orcal highlands, sparing none. Lord Lamorte smashed the skeletal fleets of the Tomb Kings at Savage Point. The hated beasts of the forest were also pushed deeper and deeper into their darkly wooded realms, and were even finally expelled from the more open and lightly forested lands of the Dukedom of Theodremund d’Artios.

The Crusades and the War’s of Errantry (1448 to 2490 IC)

In the year 470 (1448 IC) the war-torn southern realm of Estalia was invaded by Jaffar and the armies of Araby. Diplomatic envoy’s pleaded with Bretonnia to send aid, and the king sent out his call to war towards all of Bretonnia. Throughout all the dukedom’s this call to war was heard, and countless knight’s pledge their lance to the cause. In his noble wisdom, King Louis the Righteous gave permission for warriors of the Empire to cross Bretonnia on their journey to Estalia, for they too had pledged their aid, despite the lack of unification during the reign of the three emperors. Within time, the armies of Jaffar were pushed back by the more mobile and heavily armored forces of the Crusading Knights, forcing him to relinquish his hold on most of Estalia. Retreating back to Araby, but leaving a token force of troops around the important sea-ports of Estalia, Jaffar’s armies were hounded by the Bretonnians who persued them tirelessly. The Crusading army finally managed to reached the sandy beaches of Araby and invaded the major city and trade-port of Copher.

As the crusaders sailed with the aid of Estalian ports and Tilean warships, Jaffar and his men prepared for the coming invasion by fortifying most of the major sea-ports. When they finally arrived in the spice-trading city of Copher it was heavily fortified and the defenders were well prepared for the coming battle. Yet they weren’t prepared for the wrath of the northern kingdoms that Jaffar had brought upon them, and once the defenders first started faltering against the onslaught of knights and siege towers, the high spires of Copher were pulled to the ground and much of the population were put to the sword. Not even the harsh desert condition’s could perturb the knights, and their fevour very slowly took their toll on Jaffar’s warriors as many desert tribes under Jaffar’s control are growing tired of this war of attrition. Despite Jaffar having a far more vastly larger army then the crusaders as the war’s entered their third year, Jaffar’s armies began to disband, for many of the tribes of Araby grew weary of the despot’s incompetence. After frustrating months of minor skirmishes, the Bretonnians faced Jaffar at the Battle of El Haikk.

Elemental spirits of the deep deserts were summoned to fight alongside Jaffar’s armies, and with their numerical superiority, they overwhelmed the outnumbered crusaders on all sides. Just when all hope seems lost and the army was almost at the breaking point, a host of both Empire and Bretonnian knights charged furiosusly at the tightly packed army, mowing down the lightly armored soldiers until finally the armies were scattered by the sudden death of Jaffar by a Bretonnian lance.. Disliking the harsh, dry lands, for it proved too vast and hostle to be completely conquered, the Bretonnians sailed back home, with their cargoships filled with exotic goods and treasures, while the Empire Knight’s remained behind to hunt down the remants of Jaffar’s army, and would eventualy lead to the creation of several more Knightly Orders.

Meanwhile, a second great crusading force, led by Baron Tybalt, had left Bretonnia and was travelling the long road overland towards Araby. Hearing of the great victory, his force did not press onto the desert kingdom’s, feeling sadden at the lose of such a glorious campaign. Nevertheless, under Tybalt’s leadership they pushed into lands that had not yet been conquered by any civilised race. Seeking glory and honour, they sought out the armies of Greenskin’s that plauged these lands for centuries, and many great victory were won. The hardy Dwarves that dwelled in the mountains around these lands rejoiced, for the Bretonnians had dealt a serious blow to their ancient enemy, and they bestowed much praise and honour upon the Knights. Rare it was these day’s for the reclusive Dwarf’s to contact with the other nation’s of men, other then the Empire. These victories eventually bestowed a bond between Bretonnia and the Dwarves of Karaz Ankor.

These lands later became known by most as the Border Prince. Indeed some knights remained there, building great castle in the following decades, hoping to create their own kingdom upon the frontier of this region. Despite these grand crusades beyond Bretonnia, the dukedoms themselves were not left undefended, for there were still intermittent threats within the borders of their kingdom that needed to be secured. One such threat coincided with the deadly Red Pox that swept through southern Bretonnia and decimating the population’s of peasants living in the sinking slums and hovels villages. As if this were a trigger, foul rat-men creatures erupted from their tunnels and attacked the Bretonnian provinces. Marching to the aid of the Duke of Parravon came the mysterious fey folk of Athel Loren, lending their otherworldly power’s to the knights to destroy this threat before disappering once more. Other perils have been succesfully defeated, including attacks from other hated minions of Chaos, be they beserker Norsemen or foul forest Beast.

Throughout the ages, other crusades have been waged by the proud Bretonnians, yet none of them so great as the last one. One such crusade however was led into the deep deserts to the east of Araby, in the land of the Tomb King’s, and a great many battle’s were won in that year. Others seen Bretonnians fighting far from home, even as far across the ocean’s as the jungle lands of the New World. Some of these crusades were declared as Errantry War’s, a tradition that derives from the old custom of the Errands of Knighthood. Usually a young knight would be set a task by their lord, an errand that must be fufilled before they can attain full knighthood. Errands traditionally included such things as the recovery of a lost artefact, the slaying of a great beast terrorising a rural village or succesfully escorting a nobly lady through dangerous lands. However, in times of war and peril, a king may declare an Errantry War. At such times, a young Knight Errant may earn the title of Knight of the Realm through brave deeds and daring exploits on the field of battle. When an Errantry War is declared, many of young knights all over Bretonnia rally to the cause, eager to earn their full knighthood. These unseasoned Knights throw themselves in the thickest of fightings, often fighting recklessly trying their best to outdo their comrades and gain the attention of their superiors. As such, the king may declare an Errantry War when has a need to quickly gather a large, well-motivated, yet unseasoned army of knights.

In the year 1223 (2201 IC) King Louren Orc-Slayer ammassed a grand army after declaring an Errantry War, with thousands of young knights joining the ranks of the more experienced retinues of the dukes. Togather, this army smashed the growing Orc and Goblin tribes that have been amassing for many years on the border’s of Bretonnia. The traditional frontier’s of the dukedom’s were expanded, and many Greenskin strongholds have been conquered. New castles were built along these borders, and many of the young Knights Errant were granted these domains along with full knightly titles at the end of the war. The longest Errantry War ever fought was launched by King Charlen in 1442 (2420 IC). The Border Prince were overrun by enemies and, despite their bitter resistance, there were being worn down. Charlen responded instantly to their appeal for aid, declaring his intention’s to rid the Old World of the Greenskin menace once and for all. Charlen was brave and mighty warrior, but was never known for his great power of wits and strategy, for scholars knew that the Greenskin horde can never truely be defeated.

Nevertheless, countless thousands of young knights embraced Charlen’s vision passionately, and a great army set off across the mountians. However, a great many knights perished on this arudous journey. At first, victory followed victory and the Greenskin’s were slaughtered on the banks of the Blood River. Nevertheless, as the years rolled by and more young knights travelled to the region to gain honour, Bretonnia grew weaker due to the lack of defender’s within it’s border. For over sixty-years the war continued, draining Bretonnia of financies, leader’s, and entire generations of knights. Eventually, under King Phillippe V, the Errantry War was ended after a devastating defeat at Dread Pass, where the armies of Bretonnian Knights, were slaughtered by the hundreds, as the Orc’s pulled these proud knights from their saddle’s and killed them wholesale in the mountain pass. The Bretonnians, in their pride, do not cope well with defeat, and were it not for the wise king ending the wars, then countless more knights may well have thrown their lives away in an effort to regain the honour of their defeated brethren, making Bretonnia extremely weak militarily.

The Incursion of Lichmaster Heinrich Kemmler (2491 to 2520 IC)

The Dead rising from their graves, be a common theme amongst the tales of travelling merchants and commoners, those few what journey throughout Bretonnia, and reflect upon the profound effect the Undead hast had upon the kingdom. Being a very superstitious people, the idea of the dead rising and walking again, be especially horrific and abhorrent to the Bretonnians, amongst both noble born and commoner alike. The poorest and most isolated Peasants still follow their ways of the old religion. Thus they often bury their loved one face down in the earth below the hearth or front door of their hovels, with a pair of dried crow’s feet in their mouth, and cloves of garlic stuffed into ear’s. Apparently this is believed to stop them rising from their grave due some dark sorcery. In times long past, legion’s of rotting warrior’s borne upon the seas by the equally rotting fleets of Amenemhetum, raided the coasts of Bretonnia. They slaughtered without mercy or thought, in vessels of shallow-bottomed boat’s, fashioned of rotting wood and bone kept afloat by the darkest of D’har sorcery. In isolated hamlet’s all across Bretonnia there are also said to be foul vampiric mages and warrior-knights lurking still. The most famous of these latter being the so-called “Red Duke of Mousillon” whom plagued the lands of Bretonnia and raided into the Dutchy Aquitatine. Many a powerful and courageous Questing Knight hast set out to find and fight against him, thus to rid the land of such horrors but few have ever returned. The cursed dutchy of and the City Mousillon itself, hast long been associated with the undead. Indeed it is a very morbid realm, where death and disaster feature strongly in it’s history. Being built upon a sinking swampland, and subject to frequent flooding, the tombs of the dead within thy City Mousillon are all by nessessity built above ground. {So massive are these sprawling and macabre graveyards there, that they are like a City of Tombs in their own right.} It is said that all manner of foul necromatic and sorcerous things, lurk and sculk amidst the darkened crypts hunting, plotting and scheming. One of the most recent, and major battles fought against an Undead horde, took place near and within “La Maisontal Abbey”, within the Grey Mountains. A joint Undead-Skaven Horde, created and led, in a pact forged by the dreaded Empire Lichmaster “Heinrich Kemmler.” and a Wraith Lord named Krell, attacked and sacked the aformentioned sacred Abbey of the Lady. The Lichmaster is the most hated and feared figure within all Bretonnian lore. Mother’s use him still thus to scare children into behaving. Such was the invasion of Heinrich, that many of noble knight’s still dread a second rising of Heinrich. One which would ultimately pull the great nation of Bretonnia into nothing more then a dreadland of rot and death. The battle was a most fierce struggle between the noble knights, and the rotting hordes of zombie’s and warriors Kemmler and Krell had summoned up to serve them. As the battle raged on, knights and undead warriors fought viciously within the sacred grounds. They were finally overcome by the heroic actions of the great “Duke Tancred d’Quencilles” and his proud companion knights. Whom pushed the hordes back with a devastating charge and disrupted the sorcerous hold they had over their army, and it crumbeled away. Thus the skaven seeing this abandoned there allies as is theire habit to do. The Knight’s returned victorious and with much honour, for their victory was indeed glorious. However it did still seem a hollow victory for the treasionous Skaven had merely used the foolish necromancer to gain hold of a mystical and powerful artefact kept within the Abbey. It is believed by most that Heinrich died in that bloody battle. Nevertheless the Lichmaster’s body was never found, and Tancred spent the remainder of his life pursing the hated Necromancer unto the ends of the World. Tancred finally fell in battle against the surviving forces of the Lichmaster’s minions, at the Battle of Montfort Bridge. Just as the hordes of Heinrich were scattered, he fell before he could reach and kill a hooded figure he believed to be Heinrich re-risen. It is said that the Lichmaster is still biding his time, thus to exact his revenge against all Bretonnia.

Crowning of Louen Leoncoeur and the Storm of Chaos (2521 to 2522 IC)

The Current King of Bretonnia is Louen Leoncoeur, and within him the populace of Bretonnia can see echoe of great knight’s and warriors of past ages. It is said that the blood of Gilles le Breton run’s strongly within his vein’s, and all knights give thank’s unto the “Lady of the Lake”, in that they might better serve under him. For his nobility and strength harken’s back unto those time’s of the original Grail Companion’s, this being thy highest pinnacle of Bretonnian noble honour and chivalric heroism. Louen has newly revived many old warrior traditions, including the hosting great tournaments. Indeed, he will often take part in these himself, and has provent time and again that he is the greatest and most skilled Grail knight within the the realm today. By encouraging all knight’s to constantly hone their martial skill’s at every oppertunity, some have speculated that Bretonnia is currently as powerful as it has ever been, perhaps even more so. The current king is wise, and the Faye has warned him that a storm of darkness be coming. It is the belief of those closest to him that he is readying for a new Errantry War. Some believe this could be against foul City Mousillon, to once and for all reduce the entire tainted pit unto rubble and scour it clean of all the dark souls hidden within. While other’s talk of a great evil coming down from the lands of the far north, thus to consume the Empire and then all the Lands of men. Whatever the case, Bretonnia and it’s knights will stand ready. At the onset of the Storm of Chaos, a great conclave was called for all the nation’s of the Old World to attend. Where Man, Elf, and Dwarf shall sit side by side to discuss the ineviatable. Yet another invasion from the Chaos Wastes, and the coming of the Storm of Chaos. Knowing that he would need to gather all such forces he could thus to defeat Archaon, the Emperor has invited all Elector Counts of the Empire, and indeed the whole of the forces of Order within the Old World. Including the Dwarfs and the peoples of Estalia, Tilea and Bretonnia, to attend the great council in Altdorf in (2521 IC) known as the Conclave of Light. Many have answered the call, even the High Elves of Ulthuan, and the mighty Archmage Teclis once again walks the streets of Altdorf. At the Conclave the rulers of Man, Elf and Dwarf agreed to set aside their petty disputes, thus to fight under the banner of Order against the terrible threat of Chaos Undivided. For they know that if the Empire fall’s, there will be no stoping Chaos from then consuming the Old World entire. Once Loueren returned to his castle, he called for a Errantry War against the hordes of Undivided Evil. Thus a great and Noble force of Bretonnian Knights and stout men-at-arms shalt race towards Middenheim. From the Southern pass of The Empire, lies hope of helping the Empire fight against this storm, and so probably save the world entire as well.

The Lands

“When the clarion call is sounded….I will ride out and fight in the name of liege and Lady….Whilst I draw breath the lands bequeathed unto me will remain untainted by evil…Honour is all…Chivalry is All!….”

—Vow’s of the Knight unto their Bretonnian Lord

Bretonnia is the second largest nation in the old world, about 1/3 the size of the Empire in terms of territory. The Land of Bretonnia is a feudal, traditional society where the peasants serve the knights in return for protection, while the knights are bound to militarily serve their lords in return for certain rights and titles. At the top of this feudal hierarchy is the King. Beneath the Kings are the Dukes. Beneath them are lesser ranks of nobility, the Marquesses, the Earls, the Viscounts, and the Barons in descending order.

The King, Dukes, Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, and Barons are also each the lord of a number of Knights, who are the lesser nobles. Each Knight (including the higher nobles) has his own force of Men-at-Arms chosen from the most physically able peasants. In return for serving his knightly lord, each peasant is given a small tract of land for his family and can be expected to be called upon for service in times of war.

The Knights’ forces typically consist of the stronger Men-at-Arms and the more lowly Bowmen levies. The lands of Bretonnia are somewhat rural, often having little to no innovation’s in science and philosophy, and are somewhat backwards compared to the more technologically advanced nations, such as the Dwarves and the Empire. Often shunning advanced weapon’s such as Gunpowerder, Cannons, and Machines, seeing them as dishonourable weapons. The lands are also ruled by spiritual and mystical leaders, the Fay Enchantress, her Damsels, and the Grail Knights, who are all faithful servants to the Lady of the Lake. The Lady of the Lake gets her servants by stealing all children with magical ability by the age of three. The girls become wizards in service to the Lady, her damsels. The males are never seen again. For reasons of religious devotion parents allow this awful custom.

The Knights of Bretonnia are divided into four categories. Knights Errant are young sons of nobles who must prove themselves in battle. If successful, they become Knights of the Realm, are granted their own small plot of land to govern, and are obliged to defend Bretonnia should they be called. Questing Knights are brave individuals who renounce their titles and worldly possessions and journey to faraway lands in hopes of being deemed worthy by the Lady to become Grail Knights.

Grail Knights are the most powerful and revered individuals in all of Bretonnia, second only to the Lady. They are living saints who represent the fearsome power of Bretonnia and answer only to the Lady herself. The Kingdom of Bretonnia is made up of 14 dukedoms: Couronne, L’Anguille, Artois, Lyonesse, Mousillon, Gisoreaux, Montfort, Bastonne, Bordeleaux, Aquitaine, Parravon, Brionne, Quenelles, and Carcassonne. Each of these, with the exception of Mousillon, is ruled by its own Duke, who in turn has various nobles and knights who serve under him. The great castle of the King is in the fortified city of Couronne, traditionally the capital. The Forest of Loren is within the borders of Bretonnia, but is considered to be the forbidden realm of the Wood Elves.

The Commoner’s and Peasants

The lands are notorious for their oppression of the commoners and peasants, which some say are more strict and harsh then those of other Old World nations. This dark side of Bretonnian is put out where, the nobles and nobility are above the peasants in many way’s. They have all the say in most matters, and the peasants are often living in far worst conditions then those in the Empire.

The peasants have nearly few rights at all, and are kept illiterate and uneducated. They are considered property, and must commonly surrender 9/10ths of their crops to their feudal lord. As a result most of them will remain extremely poor throughout their entire lives. They may also not leave their home province unless allowed; as a result a certain degree of inbreeding is quite common. Many peasants are afflicted by clubfeet, extra fingers, lazy eyes, or similar defects. Bretonnian justice is harsh and ruled by superstition, any peasant who is caught stealing or poaching is usually hanged. An even harsher punishment is dealt to a peasant who attacks a noble. He and his family will be tortured and slowly dismembered, while all his friends and acquaintances will be crippled. Such is the price of rebellion.

A small but growing middle class of commoners, also refered to as Freemen, make up the professional trades and merchants within Bretonnian society. Although literate for the most part, either self taught or by monks as there are no schools in Brettonia. All education is by private arangement and stemms from the many Grail Monasteries for a price.

The artisans, craftsmen and semi professionals live almost exclusivley within the kingdom’s few city’s, and numerous larger towns situated along the kingdom’s coasts and rivers. They remain socially segregated from the bonded peasants and give feilty to a lord or landed knight but remain free to move with permision from local authorities. Scholars, advocates doctors and the like are respected for their duties but remain of a lower class than the nobles, with few, if any, rights more than the peasants. The owership of gold jewelry and horded gold coin be forbiden to the common classes, and merchants must deal almost entirely in copper and silver. Officially Gold is used only amongst the nobles, mostly as tax and tithing unto the royal treasury.

The Sumptuary laws are strictly applyed to this class, with gold and gems forbidden to be worn publicly. As is cloth of Purple, Bright Yellow or Green, gold and silver thread or silk of any colour. Furs are restricted to rabbit, cat and rat. Armour of burnished plate also be forbiden to all lower classes, as is the carrying of heavy swords. (Anything over the class of a rapier or light saber) Freemen are permitted to worship the Lady at shrines (upon a tithe being paid first), and a number of their recognised deities be permitted. Morr, Shallya, Manan and nominally Varena, as justice is totaly the bailiwick of the nobles and their authorised representatives. With all authority stemming from the King under divine right. The old religions of Taal and Rhya can still be found in some isolated rural areas.

The nobles largely worship the Lady of the Lake, considered the national patron deity of chivalry. However the other deities of the Old World are respected and presumably worshipped on occasion. The main priestess of the Lady of Lake is the Faye Enchantress who is respected throughout Bretonnia. Other ‘minor’ Prophetesses and Damsels roam the kingdom, advising noble families, and occasionally aid Bretonnian armies in battle through their magical abilities. The peasants are not considered worthy enough to worship the Lady of the Lake directly. While they certainly respect and fear her, they usually worship the other deities of the Old World. Shallya, Verena and Morr are most common.

The Blessing of the Lady

“That which is sacrosanct I shall preserve….That which is sublime I will protect….That which threatens I will destroy….For my Holy Wraith will know no bounds…”

—Vow’s of the Grail Knights unto the Lady of the Lake

Since ancient times, the Bretonnians have worshipped the Lady of the Lake as their goddess and their primary deity, a figure of myth and legend who guides their kings and protects their lands from harm.

Worship of the Lady can be traced to the earilest days of the Kingdom. It is said that she arose from a lake before Gilles le Breton and his Knightly Companions on the dawn of the Great Victoy of Bordeleaux. Wreathed in a fey light, the Lady rose from the water bearing a grail which overflowed with light that spilled into the waters of the lake, blessing the assembled knights until dawn’s light broke over the mountains. Gilles famously dipped his bloodied and tattered banner into the radiant waters of the lake crying: “Lady, Bless my Banner”, only to lift it from the waters, magically restored and bearing the image of the lady and her glittering grail. Gilles and his Knights rode out and defeated the Orcs, then returned to the lake after the battle to give their thanks to the Lady for her blessings. And at this lake, he and his companions swore great oaths of friendship and to serve the lady and remained together to free the lands of Bretonnia from the monster’s that assailed it.

In the years that followed, Gilles and his kngihts went on to win many great victories and since those days, worship of the Lady has spread throughout Bretonnia. The lady herself is very rarely seen, and only in the most verdant depths of the land may she be found by a few privileged and pure souls. Those who do find her are regarded as highly favoured and are themselves revered.

Appearing as an ageless maiden of unearthly beauty, the Lady will only appear to those who have faced great peril and are pure of heart. Many knights, wishing to prove their valour, declare that they will go on a Grail Quest and seek the lady of the lake to sup from her sacred chalice and become one of the legendary Grail Knights, warriors of unsurprising skill who are incapable of malice and impure thought.

Sacred groves and areas of mystical power are her dwellings, and the Grail Knight are her protectors devoting themselves to upholding her honour. No base creatures or evildoers can profane her sacred places, and this is a duty that every knight in Bretonnia, not just the Grail Knight’s, take very seriously indeed. The Bretonnia code of Chivalry is inextricably linked with the Lady of the Lake, as it is she who rewards honour and virtue, and the supreme sign of a knight’s favour is to recieved her blessings.

Throughout Bretonnia there are many Grail chapels built upon sites of holy significants, ranging from humble road-side shrines to great fortress cathedrals incorporated into a knight’s castle. It is the sacred duty of the Grail Knights to protect these shrines and often such knights will devote the remainder of their lives to defending the Lady’s holy places. These knights are known as hermit knights and spend their lives living in and defending the shrines and relics housed within.

Bretonnia

WFRP - Karak Azgal HPLovecraft