A Matter of Britain
The year is 485 Anno Domini.
About seventy years ago, when your grandfather was alive, the Supreme Collegium, or High Council of Britain, chose a native leader, known as Emperor Constantin, to rule the island. He reigned well in difficult times, and in 440 his son Constans succeeded him. A few years later, Constans was killed, and the throne was assumed by a man named Vortigern.
At that time, a massive Pictish and Irish invasion threatened the entire island until Vortigern hired a small mercenary army of Saxon warriors. Victory was not enough, though, and, inflamed by lust, Vortigern married the daughter of the Saxon King Hengest. Vortigern also brought warlike leaders from the north and settled them around the western coasts to defend against Irish invaders. But Vortigern was tyrannical and not well loved.
Soon, many eastern lords of Britain rebelled against their new king, but they were crushed and their lands given to his Saxon allies. Vortigern’s own son led another rebellion, and, though temporarily successful, he was killed in battle just 23 years ago. Then, during the infamous “Night of the Long Knives,” the Saxons betrayed Vortigern, slaying nearly all the British leadership. The island suffered greatly as Vortigern himself came under the rule of his erstwhile Saxon allies.
When your father was a young knight, in the year 466, Aurelius Ambrosius, eldest son of Constantin, landed with an army from Brittany. Immediately, the people of Britain literally flocked to his banner, a magical standard that depicted a great red dragon. Vortigern fled and took refuge in northwestern Cambria. It was there that the child sage Merlin prophesied the fate of Britain. Aurelius Ambrosius overcame the Saxons and then Vortigern himself, and was named High King. He was called the “high king,” or Pendragon, in part because of the great battle banner he bore.
During his reign, Aurelius Pendragon defeated new invasions by Saxons and even led a fleet to ravage the coasts of the Saxon and Frisian lands, suppressing further invasions for years. But when he marched against a combined Saxon and Irish army five years ago, in 480, he was treacherously poisoned, and died. His brother, Uther, led the army instead and gained victory. The grateful nobles then named Uther to be the next King, the new Pendragon.
Uther has been a successful king thus far, quashing all rebellion, defeating Irish rebels and Saxon invaders alike. Last year he snatched victory from defeat with a surprise night raid that brought most of the northern kings under his rule.
Now, in 485, news has come that more Saxons are gathering in far Saxony to come to the aid of their kinsmen in Britain. The preparations for yet more war are building, and the noble British knights prepare once again to defend the realm under their courageous Pendragon.
Your character’s ancestors, your grandfather and father, participated in these events. When you roll through the “Salisbury Family History” section after character creation, you will learn more of these events.