A few posts back I mentioned that I had recently finished writing a book of the fantasy flavor and was now in the process of editing said book. During the editing process one of the things my brother, who was helping edit, pointed out was that there was no clearly defined background for the setting. Although my book has a medieval-type setting, there was very little said specifically about the place in which the story is set. In what sort of country or kingdom does it take place? Is there a king? Why are the people who are in power in power, and exactly how much power do they have? What are living conditions like for the peasants who live there? These questions were all left hanging in the story, and I didn’t give a clear or complete picture of what kind of place it was that this story was unfolding in.
In an effort to remedy this, I wrote a political/ historical background of the kingdom in which my story is set. It establishes the setting of my story, but is also a story in its own right, much like a prologue. So I have decided to post this prologue-ish background here as a sort of introduction to what my book is about.
History of Fligere
Thirty years ago the kingdom of Fligere was ruled by King Eron III. The kingdom was prosperous, having good political relations with both the neighboring kingdoms, Amana and Fre-Elune, which enabled it to engage in beneficial trading agreements with both kingdoms. As the military superpower of the region, Fligere and its king, instead of seeking expansion, acted as an inter-kingdom peacekeeper, making sure that trade was available for all three kingdoms and that peace was maintained between them.
Fligere had only a small but well-trained army. Its military advantage lay in that, every man who worked as a tradesman or who lived within a major city was obligated to serve one year in training as a soldier. Since there were no major conflicts for these soldiers to engage in, the year was usually focused entirely on vigorous training. After the year was over the men returned to their normal lives. The result was that, although Fligere had only a small standing army, if any real military crisis assailed the kingdom, nearly half of the men of the country were well trained as soldiers and could be called upon for battle. The fully assembled might of Fligere’s fighting force would be formidable to say the least.
The commander of the army of Fligere was an ambitious man who was unhappy that King Eron did not desire to expand the kingdom. Behind closed doors he held meetings with several important figures, among them King Eron’s younger brother Ajax and a young knight named Jore. The commander of the army devised a plot to assassinate the king. Within two months, King Eron had been murdered, a dagger through his heart while he slept.
The commander of the army had planned on taking the seat of the king once Eron had been killed and then use Fligere’s military might to expand the borders of the kingdom. But this was not to be. Less than two weeks after the king’s death, the commander of the army was also assassinated, this time by Jore, who also desired the throne.
The death of the commander of the army sparked a full-out power struggle between half a dozen powerful men. In order to gain an upper hand, these men sent out heralds to all of Fligere to call the many trained men dispersed throughout the kingdom to their aid. Each one intended to amass the most men from around the kingdom and then proclaim himself the rightful king. In order to do this, all six men took with them an entourage of fighting men and rode out into the kingdom to rally support to themselves.
With all six men aspiring to kingship out of the castle that was the kingdom’s capital, it left a power void within the castle itself. Seeing an opportunity, a young nobleman named Theon, a second cousin to the deceased king, made a bold move and proclaimed himself the rightful king, and through skillful speech and eloquence, convinced all of the men of the standing army to pledge allegiance to him as the king (with no commander and no current allegiance to any king, most of the standing army was still within the capital castle).
When the six men (all of whom were either lords or knights) heard of Theon’s claim to kingship and that he was in control of the capital castle, they quickly returned with the forces that they had amasses and all six made a temporary alliance in order to dethrone Theon from his place within the castle.
The battle that followed was long and brutal. The six lord’s forces outnumbered Theon’s but the castle was a near-impregnable construction. It was unfeasible for the lords to starve Theon’s forces out, since there was a water source and enough food for over a year within the castle, so the attackers resorted to siege machines. Dozens of huge siege machines were created and they assailed the castle from three sides, hurling giant bolts and huge rocks into and over the walls. Dead animals and people were also thrown into the castle to spread disease and weaken morale.
The siege lasted a month. Desiring to end the siege as quickly as possible, the lords did nothing but bombard the keep and walls of the castle day and night. By the end of the month the keep was in crumbles and walls were broken and unsound, dangerous to be near.
At the end of the month, Theon emerged from the castle gates with the remains of his fighting men, less than a hundred. Theon proclaimed these words: “You have demolished the seat of this kingdom, and come with arms against the rightful heir to the throne. Yet even so, we will not genuflect to traitors to the kingdom as yourself: we stand in the right, and your wrongs shall be upon your shoulders even after your death. But even so, I can see there is only one way to end this conflict. You who claim this throne, whichever of you believes himself strongest, come and battle me in single combat for the throne.” Theon’s intent was to turn the six lords against each other as they argued over which of them was the strongest. But Theon’s silver tongue was not able to save him. Minutes after his speech, instead of a lord coming out to meet him in battle, a score of hissing arrows found their mark in his body, and he fell lifeless to the ground. The massacre of Theon’s soldiers and an all-out ransacking of the castle followed. In the moment of victory, the lords were unable to control their men, and by the end of the day nearly every inhabitant of the castle had been killed and the castle itself was decimated.
Once again the lords were thrust into a game to see who would be the one to claim regency over the kingdom. In the confusion of the aftermath of the siege two of the lords were assassinated, leaving several hundred men with no allegiance. The other four lords once again set out to levy the support of men around the kingdom. But this time their plan did not go as expected.
The news of the capital castle’s siege and destruction flew like an eagle throughout the whole kingdom. Hearing the news, many aspiring noblemen and knights from around Fligere saw a chance to grab greater power for themselves. Without a central seat of power, there was little uniting the people of Fligere. Dozens and dozens of lords and knights gathered their own fighting forces, and scores of battles flared up all over the kingdom as ambitious men struggled to makes themselves rulers. Mean palisade keeps and luxurious estates slowly turned into fortified castles as some men found a measure of victory in their campaigns and became more powerful, building up fortifications for themselves. A man could hardly travel five miles without seeing the grim outline of a mean stone castle or tower on the horizon. But for all the defenses which were growing up, the people of Fligere were by no means safe. Towns were burned, farms abandoned. Mercenaries roved through the forest and along the roads. The struggling continued with no resolutions for three years. Near the end of the third year, eight men distinguished themselves as the most powerful in the land, defeating all other who contended with them, and over the course of the next two years boundaries for eight provinces solidified. The great kingdom that had once been Fligere was no more; in its place were eight provinces, ravaged by years of war and bandits, built on nothing but mercenary military might, and constantly in danger from one another.
NOTE: My story takes place in one of these eight provinces.