England On Her Knees, 1002 AD
By Rory Naismith
Anglo-Saxon England was, at the end of the 10th century AD, one of the richest realms in northern Europe. Stable and prosperous, she traded widely and was held in high regard by neighbours for her culture and sophistication. A powerful chain of monarchs, starting with Alfred the Great in 871, had forced out the previous invaders; the Vikings, and by the death of Edgar in 975 the borders of England were more or less what they are today.
However, Edgar's successors did not continue this tradition of strong kingship. Dynastic struggle split the land as his sons vied for the crown, with the elder - Edward the Martyr - being assassinated at Corfe Castle in 980. Power fell into the hands of twelve year old Aethelred II, known to history as 'Unraed' ('the Ill Advised'). Although he displayed aptitude in other areas, Aethelred was no warrior. In as violent an age as this, foreign adventurers quickly saw through the weak young king to the unprotected riches of England. The Vikings soon returned, with a Danish force defeating an Anglo-Saxon army at Maldon in 991 and another fleet attacking London in 994. At first the national wealth held off the onslaught: Aethelred forked out vast amounts of silver to keep the invaders away. But in the long run this only financed further aggression.
The last straw came in 1002 AD when, in response to further raids, Aethelred had hundreds of Danes in England murdered. Hearing this, the vengeful Danish King Svein Forkbeard decided to embark on a campaign to England. He came not as a raider, but as a conqueror. And if he failed, there were many other ambitious princes ready to take the initiative.
The campaign begins in spring 1002 AD, when the Vikings launch their attack. Turn sequence is as follows: Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Scottish, Normans, Welsh, Irish. The campaign lasts for a maximum of eight campaign years, at the end of which prestige points are added to find the victor. Rules are as normal, save for the exceptions noted below.
Note: All routes marked in dark blue are sea routes; capital cities are capitalised.
Anglo-Saxons: Aethelred II, King of England, List III/24b or 75b, controls London (capital), York and Winchester: Your land is under threat, and it is up to you, as warlord and ruler, to keep everything under control. Great resources are at your disposal, for the land is rich and well-organised. But with so many enemies at hand, will you be able to hold out?
Vikings: Svein Forkbeard, King of Denmark, List III/40b or 106a, controls Roskilde (capital), Norway and Hedeby: Years of warfare have turned you into one of the greatest warriors in the north. Recently, Olaf Trygvesson, King of Norway, was defeated by your forces in the battle of Svold, leaving you as master of both Denmark and Norway. Now, with an excuse for further conquest in the rich lands of the west, you are keen to extend your empire.
Normans: Richard II, Duke of Normandy, List III/51 or 102c, controls Rouen (capital), Fecamp and Bayeux: In 911 the Vikings settled in the county of Rouen, and since then have grown into a tough, militaristic feudal society. Your forces combine the ferocity and determination of their Norse ancestors with the military technology and organisation of the French, making the Norman cavalry the most feared troops in the west. It is up to you to use them as you see fit, either for or against the English throne.
Welsh: Cynan, Prince of Gwynedd, List III/19a or 92, controls Gwynedd (capital), Dyfed and Powys: From your mountainous homeland in Wales you have watched events unfold, speculating on the outcome as the fortunes of the Anglo-Saxons rise and fall. Commanding the vulnerable western route into England, your lands and forces present a valuable asset to any prospective King of England. But why should the Britons not reclaim their ancestral lands for themselves?
Irish: Brian Boru, High-King of Ireland, List III/46 or 112, controls Armagh (capital), Dublin and Isle of Man: Unifying the quarrelsome tribes, colonies and kingdoms of Ireland has been a long, hard fight, but you proved up to the task; all the kingdom now lies - nominally - under your leadership. Crowned this year at Cashel, Ireland has never been so firmly unified. By tradition the Irish have withheld their influence from the mainland, but times may be changing.
Scottish: Malcolm II, High-King of Scots, List III/45 or 111, controls Scone (capital), Moray and Cumbria: The kingdom of Scotland is a large and quarrelsome land, with a long history of war at home and abroad. Its many peoples are all proud of their independence, and will only reluctantly acknowledge the leadership of the High-King. Even so, you can count on considerable support if there is a possibility of land and plunder from the south.
Special Rules (optional)
Danegeld: Faced with massive incursions against his coastline, Aethelred frequently resorted to placating the invading Vikings with vast quantities of silver - 48,000 pounds (in weight) in 1012 alone, for example. Tapping England's great wealth in this way did help in the short term, but also encouraged yet further attacks by other greedy raiders in subsequent years. And, of course, England's riches were not without limits.
To represent the English use of Danegeld, the Anglo-Saxon player has a 'stock' of five silver payments. He may play one (and only one) of these at the beginning of the spring round after declarations of war are made. Despite history, Danegeld may be paid to any enemy force to prevent them attacking. An enemy nation paid may not invade any Anglo-Saxon territories this year, but may do so the following year.
Each supply of Danegeld counts as one further prestige point, and after being paid out may not be re-used for any purpose other than prestige. For example, if the Anglo-Saxon player managed to play the campaign without using any Danegeld he would gain a further five prestige points. More likely, he would use at least some of them to prevent an attack on his kingdom; these will add prestige to the final total of the enemy nations.
Riches of England: This campaign centres around the terrible struggle for England, which was by far the richest and most hotly-desired of the countries represented. Thus, the English territories have increased prestige values; London, York and Winchester all grant four prestige points to their controller rather than the usual three. As tributary territories, each is worth three prestige points.
Viking Seamanship: The Vikings were by far the best sailors of the early middle ages, and their sturdy longships crossed the choppy north Atlantic to Greenland and even Vinland in modern Canada. Such skilled seamen had little to fear from crossing the North Sea; an adventure conducted very regularly for both raiding and trading. For this reason, the Vikings need not roll a dice for possible loss when crossing a sea-route out of the summer round.
Last Updated: May 1, 2001
My thanks to Rory Naismith for submitting this campaign scenario. Questions, comments, and feedback are welcome. Sent them to Chris Brantley at IamFanaticus@gmail.com.