Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Medieval Hack: Carrockshire and the Earldom of Llancar
The river Severn divides the march into Welsh and English sides, with power projected along the Welsh border from both the stronghold of Carak and Faldun Tower, which are jointly administered by the castellan Guilliame fitzWalter, Roger's close confidant and ally. Roger himself was one of the first men to meet King Stephen when he first crossed the channel to claim the throne and is a strong supporter of his claim.
The people of the March have suffered badly since it was granted. Welsh raiders slip past the two keeps with ease, cross the Severn under cover of darkness, and make sharp raids against the Earl's forces to steal food, silver, and weapons. If the Earl's men ever give them chase, they can slip easily into one of the villages to find shelter, for many in towns such as Corbridge and Mordan have at least one Welsh parent and feel sympathy to their cousins over the border.
Roger is obsessed with the idea that some day a Welsh army will come to reclaim Llancar: under his watch he has restored its ancient walls and towers and spent more good silver reinforcing Carak Keep than his three predecessors combined.
His younger brother, Hugh de Beaumont, is bishop of Carrockshire and frequently involved with the important theological disputes of his day. The small house of Llangaran Abbey owes its existence to the bishopric, which maintains the right to appoint an abbot to the foundation.
Ever and anon come the Welsh and from abroad the rumors and stirrings of war. It is said that the Empress Matilda threatens Stephen's claim, but Roger laughs at this. "A woman," he is known to say, "challenge King Stephen?" And yet, in Normandy such things are not the subject of jests. Gloucester is not so far south that Hugh does not worry for his brother, for it is said that Robert, the Earl and half-brother to Matilda, is the strong arm behind her.
What the future will bring for Llancar is uncertain, but caught between the Welsh, Gloucester, and the King it cannot but fare darkly in the years to come.