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Bretonnia

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"Thou shalt give unto thine glorious liege the taxes that he requires. Thou shalt labour all but feast days. And no more than a tenth-share shall you keep for kith and kin. Rejoice! For a Knight of Bretonnia provides your shield."
—Vows of the Peasants unto their Bretonnian Lord
Bretonnia Coat of Arms

The Bretonnian Coat of Arms

The Kingdom of Bretonnia is a highly-chivalrous feudal Human kingdom that lies between the lands of the Grey Mountains and the Great Ocean. Bretonnia is second only in size and military power to that of the Empire of Man, both their chief rival and closest allies, having a culture and society that revolves around the ideals of nobility, social birthright and the upholding of a strictly enforced code of chivalry. Ruled by a Royarch, the nation of Bretonnia has been known throughout the Kingdoms of Man for having the greatest Knights within the entire Old World, rivaling or in some cases even surpassing that of the Knightly Orders of the Empire. A proud and honorable kingdom, the warriors of Bretonnia comprised mostly of Knights and Noblemen, who ride into battle with lance, horse, and sword, seeking out glories and rooting out injustice wherever they go.

The religion that currently dominates this mighty feudal kingdom, is the worship of a local elemental deity known only as the Lady of the Lake. This mysterious Goddess of Purity, Light and Order is believed to have aided Gilles le Breton in unifying Bretonnia into a single unified 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.  

However, though these honorable Warriors are meant to uphold Chivalry and Justice above all other traits, they are nonetheless afflicted with a much darker side from the shinning Knights they believe themselves to be. Within the feudal social structure of Bretonnia, these Knights consider their subjects as nothing more then property in their hubris and arrogant eyes. Indeed, the life of a Bretonnian Peasant is a life fraught with endless injustice and cruelty by a nobility whose sole duty was meant to protect them and to uphold their duties of Chivalry and Justice. Though such cruelty and injustice have since stained the honor of these proud Knights, there is no doubt within the minds of the Old World that the Knights of Bretonnia are still amongst the greatest Knights within the Realms of Man.   

History

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 in 977 IC. Bretonnian recorded history can vary greatly from Duchy to Duchy, being recorded and maintained such as it is, mostly by monks within the many Grail Monasteries dotting the land.

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 passed before a great and noble Knight united the highly independent and prideful Bretonni 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 Incursions, 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.

These colonies survived the civil war with Malekith, and then the Sundering relatively unscathed, but soon faced the full wrath of the Dwarfs in a time known as the War of the Beard. 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 Dwarfs. 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 colonies in ruin. Those few Elves who had refused this commands 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 worshiped a primordial earth elemental goddess called Rhya, and erected many primitive stone circles in her honour. These Stone Circles were places of great natural power, and were marked with symbols that remain as a foundation of the Druidic Old Faith unto this day. 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 a growing Greenskin threat from the east. These new human tribes were warlike, strong and and fierce, they fought both 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 displaced both the Greenskins and human earth-worshipers, thus soon becoming the dominant culture west of the grey mountains.


The Dark Age of Bretonnia (900 to 977 IC)

The Dark Ages of Bretonnia

Knights fighting against the Greenskins during the Dark Ages

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. In time, trade and knowledge was eventually gained from the nearby proximity of Dwarfs living within the Grey Mountains, which allowed 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 Duchy.

The Greenskins had lived within Bretonnia alongside the Bretonni for many years, and as is normal for these foul creatures, their population eventually reached critical levels, and they began to overrun the Bretonni lands in a seething green tide. Attacking almost simualtanously, the Dukedoms of Cuileux and Glanborielle were the first to be consumed by the ever growing Hordes of Orcs and Goblins. The Bretonni Knights rose in their hundreds to face these monstrous foes in combat, riding on-top of their might warhorses as they ploy headlong towards the many battlefields that are springing up all across the realm. However, the Dukes of each Dukedom did not have the time to properly gather his Knights into a single unified army, and in so these scattered bands of Knights eventually found themselves outnumbered and surronded. To the north, the Dukedoms of those lands have been overrun by Northern Raiders from the shores of Norsca, raiding and pillaging the lands without mercy.

At roughly the same time, the Undead armies of Settra the Imperisable and his fleet of rotting warships and skeletal warriors appeared upon the western coast of Bretonnia. No sooner had the Orcs and Goblin armies rampaged through the region, that the Undead Hordes swept across the lands and completed the desolation with silent impunity. To the South and East, restless Goblin tribes came down from their homes within the Grey Mountains, pillaging and burning their way through the Dukedoms of Quenelles and Bastonne. With the enemies of Mankind amassing all around them, the remaining Dukes have all but lost hope.

The Blessing of the Lady

The Lady blessing Gilles le Breton as the first Grail Knight

One of the Dukes however, Duke Gilles of Bastonne, led a campaign 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 Theirulf of Lyonesse, and then his greatest and most loyal friend, Duke Landuin of Mousillon under his Crusading banner, but even these three men and their combined grand army found themselves outmatched and facing almost certain annihilation.

This inexperienced and badly battered "Bretonni" army then encamped themselves 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 Waaagh! 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. 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 a-gasp and afraid. Gilles was the first to make a move, raising the bloodstained and tattered banner of Bastone 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. When he drew it forth and raised it high again so all could see, it was dry and fully restored, only now also emblazoned with the glowing icon of a golden Grail. The 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 to his companions to drink from and gain the strenght needed to achieve victory. These three became the first Grail Knights, and fighting under the banner of the Lady of the Lake, the Bretonni won their first great victory against the Greenskins race.


The Unification of Bretonnia (977 to 978 IC)

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The Age of Unification

The morning after his encounter with the Lady of the Lake, Duke Gilles of Bastonne led his army against the Orcs besieging the Dukdeom of Bordeleaux. The three Grail Companions did as much slaughter as the rest of their army combined, and the Greenskin hordes were driven into the ocean. Seeing a means to retake their lands from the Greenskins, Lord Marcus of Bordeleaux and Lord Fredemund of Aquaitaine eagerly joined Gilles and his ever-growing army of Knights. After the victory feast, the Lady of the Lake appeared in the private chamber where the Lords were gathered, where she bestowed Marcus and Fredemund the Holy Grail and thus become the fourth and fifth Grail Companion. Marcus turned that chamber within his castle into the first Grail Chapel, a site still of unparalleled sanctity today.

As the Companions rode south to the Dukedom of Brionne, they found their way blocked by the army of a bloated Orc by the name of Warlord Brogtar. Lord Fredemund summoned a great flock of Falcons, which struck the flying beasts of the Orcis armies from the sky. With the flying beast slain, the Grail Companions sounded the charge and fought their way deep into the heart of the enemy army, where Lord Landuin struck the Warlord down with his own sword. With victory achieved, the Companions hurried their armies towards the besieged capital of Brionne.

Once they reached their destination, they found the castle under-siege by a horde of Greenskin warriors. The Knights drove through the unsuspecting besiegers from the rear-flank, shattering their resolve and breaking the siege. Lord Balduin of Brionne sallied forth with his Knights and met Gilles in the midst of the Orcish army. As they clasped forearms as brothers, the Lady of the Lake appeared and gave Balduin a drink from the Holy Grail, thus becoming the sixth Grail Companion. Although the Knights were outnumbered three-hundred to one, the Grail Companions were able to still drive them from the battlefield.

Urged on by the vision of the Lady, the army crossed the River Rienne and rode east through the ravaged Dukedom of Carcassonne, towards the besieged Dukedom of Quenelles. As they rode, Lord Lambard of Carcasonne rallied to their banner and entered Quenelles. Upon their arrival, they found that the Forest of Loren was in flames, assaulted by another army of Orcish warriors. Some of the Knights were afraid to venture towards the burning forest, for fear of the dreaded Fay Enchantress that has made the Forest her home. Unafraid, Gilles urged them on, and upon entering the Forest, the Knights were attacked by the Orcs. In the heat of battle, the Fay Enchantress appeared from the shadows and lent her aid towards the Knights, with the very trees of the Forest rising up to meet the Greenskin invaders. As the battle raged on, the Knights were met with the army of Rademund the Pure, Lord of Quenelles, and with the last Orc slain, the Lady blessed both Rademund and Lambard for their bravery, thus becoming the seventh and eighth Grail Companion.

Riding north to the Dukedom of Parravon, the Grail Companions found it's +beautiful capital lying in ruins. Rampaging Giants rained down boulders upon the city walls from the mountains above, whilst a horde of Goblins from the Severed Head Tribe looted the city streets. Lord Agilgar of Parravon, mounted upon Glorfinial, his faithful Pegasus, took to the skies and aided Gilles in retaking the city.

Heading further north-west, the Companions alongside Lord Agilgar, came to the aid of the Dukedom of Montfort. Besieged and surronded, Gilles order the charge against the Greenskin invaders, but was struck low by a ballista bolt from one of the Greenskin war-machines. His companions rallied about him and fought their way towards the city, where they were met by Lord Martrud of Montfort. As Lord Agilgar and Martrud watched over the body of Gilles, the Lady of the Lake appeared before them and healed Gilles of his injuries. For their dedication to Gilles, the Lady blessed Lord Agilgar and Martrud in becoming the ninth and tenth Grail Companion. Arising from his sick bed, Gilles led that charge that broke the Greenskin army.

With the Greenskins retreating, Gilles ordered a counter-attack and plunged deep into the cavernous homes of the Goblin Kings. Illuminated by the holy light of the Grail Companions, the Lords of the Britonni slaughtered the Goblin Kings and broke the unity that held their fractious tribes together. With their purpose achieved, they fought their way back to the surface covered with the black blood of their enemies.

Now with ten of the Bretonni Lords following his banner, Gilles turned west to face the Greenskins despoiling the Duke of Gisoreux. Joining forces with Duke Beren of Gisoreux, GIlles faced a horde containing many of the Orc's most deadliest Shamans, who turned their foul magic upon the Bretonni. Protected by the blessings of the Lady, the Knights and the Grail Companions charged unharmed through the magical maelstrom and struck the enemy horde with great force, breaking their resolve.

The army continued west into the Duchy of Mousillon, once the most beautiful and fairest lands of the Bretonni people. Now wasted and burning, the Knights walked through the wasteland and met Duke Folgar of Artios within the city of Mousillon. Duke Folgar told the Knights that an army of Beastmen and Undead warriors march upon the city within a matter of hours, and so the Knights took to the city's defences and stood resolute. The Grail Companions each took out a Dark Champion of the army, with the battle ending when Duke Landuin struck down the sorceror who is controlling the Undead warriors, destroying nearly half the enemy army, forcing the Beastmen to retreat. The Grail Companions perused the fleeing beastmen army, and when Duke Beren and Duke Folgar returned, they shined with the light of the Lady, becoming now the eleventh and twelfth Grail Companion.

The victorious Lords turned north, riding through the Forest of Arden until they reached the besieged port-city of L'Anguille. There, they found the great city under-siege by an army of Norsemen Marauders and Chaos Warriors, attacking from both land and sea. Duke Corduin of L'Anguille cut a path through the besiegers and met up Duke Gilles. At lenght, Lord Marcus of Bordeleaux challenged the leader of the Norse, Svengar of the Skaelings, to single combat, with the conditions that the loser's forces would withdraw. Too proud to refuse, the giant warrior met Marcus upon a lighthouse tower and fought until the next day. As dawn broke, Lord Marcus found renewed strenght and struck down the Norse Cheiftan. A savage but honorable race of warriors, the Norse kept to their words and returned to their ships and sailed home.

After but a nights rest, the Grail Companions rode eastward where they met up with Duke Caerleond of Couronne. There the Duke joined the armies of Gilles and fought an Orc horde at the River Sannez. With the aid of the combined armies, the Knights drove the Greenskins back, defeated them, and turned the waters of the river black with blood. With victory achieved, the Knights rode with all haste to the city of Couronne.

Gathering within Couronne, the Knights heard news of a massive host of Beastmen, Trolls, and nameless creatures of Chaos pouring from the Forest of Arden. As they prepared for the final battle, messengers brought word of an army of Greenskins warriors, the largest they have ever seen, pouring out of the mountainous region known as the Pale Sisters. Worst yet, when the Knights assembled outside the walls of the city, an army of Skavens rose up from the sewer networks and pillage the city streets. As the Lords took counsel before the fight, the Lady of hte Lake joined their numbers. There she had Lord Corduin and Caerleond drink from the Holy, thus being the last and final thirteenth and fourtheth member of the Grail Companions. Then she blessed the whole army and bade them fight in her name.

With a ferocity not seen by their people for centuries, the Knights of all the Bretonni people fought the three armies that assails them. The battle raged for weeks upon weeks, as foul creatures continued to pour from their lairs like a stormy tide and break upon the armies of the Bretonni as against a cliff. When at last the sounds of battle fell silent, the plains of Couronne were awashed with the bodies of the slain. This was the greatest victory ever achieved by the Bretonni people, and the battle had finally signalled the end to the fighting, and the birth of a new kingdom.



The Founding of a Kingdom (978 to 1448 IC)

Thus with peace won, it was agreed that there shall be an everlasting peace amongst the surviving twelve Dukedoms. Gilles was dubbed "The Uniter", and with a blessing from the Lady of the Lake's representative, the mystical Fay Enchantress, he thus became the first Royarch 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 recognized 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 Duke Landuin should take the position, whilst other's believed his rival, Duke Thierulf or the wise Duke Marcus, should make a more suitable heir to the throne.

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 the time of the Kingdom's founding. It has been decreed that no Knight, 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 as King, earning him the title of "The Rash". This event eventually led to the traditions of the Questing Knight.

For years, Louis the Rash traveled the length and breadth of Bretonnia, righting many wrongs and doing great deeds in service to the Goddess. In his absence, Duke Theirulf acted as steward of all Bretonnia, much to the annoyance of Duke Landium. Years later, Louis returned to his ancestral castle astride a mighty purebred charger, his golden hair was shining and his eyes were aglow with a Divine noble presence. 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 chivalry 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 land 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 manner of evil from within their border's, and aided in the struggles of their neighbours to do like wise, which 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 strength 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. 


The Crusades and the Wars of Errantry (1448 to 2490 IC)

BRETONNIA 1

A Crusader-Knight during the Great Crusade

In the year 470 (1448 IC) the war-torn southern realm of Estalia was invaded by Sultan Jaffar and the armies of Araby. Diplomatic envoy's pleaded with Bretonnia to send aid, and the king sent out a 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 their King's holy 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 Age of Three Emperors. This military campaign had since been named the Great Crusade, in homage of the zeal of these warrior-knights.

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 city of Magritta, Jaffar's armies were hounded by the Bretonnians who pursued them tirelessly. The Crusader army eventually 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, a breach was made and soon 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 fervor 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 vastly larger army then the crusaders, 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 furiously 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 hostile to be completely conquered, the Bretonnians sailed back home, with cargo-ships laden with exotic goods and treasures, whilst the Empire Knight's remained behind to hunt down the remnants of Jaffar's army for another century, which would eventually lead to the creation of several more Knightly Orders.

Meanwhile, a second great crusading force, led by Baron Tybalt, 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 civilized race. Seeking glory and honour, they sought out the armies of Greenskins that plagued these lands, and many great victory were won. The hardy Dwarves that dwelled within 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 Dwarfs to make contact with the other nation's of men, other than 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 Princes. Indeed some knights remained, building great castle in the following decades hoping to create their own kingdom upon the frontiers of this new land. 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 Duchies. 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 disappearing once more. Other perils have been successfully 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 next one. One such crusade however was led into the deep deserts to the east of Araby, in the land of the Tomb Kings, and a great many battles were won in that year. Others seen Bretonnians fighting far from home, even as far across the oceans as the jungle lands of the New World. Some of these crusades were declared as Errantry Wars, 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 fulfilled before they can attain full knighthood. 

Errands traditionally included such things as the recovery of a lost artifact, the slaying of a great beast terrorizing a rural village or successfully escorting a noble 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 thick of battle, 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 amassed a grand army after declaring an Errantry War, with thousands of young knights joining the ranks of the more experienced retinues of the Dukes. Together, this army smashed the growing Orc and Goblin tribes that have been amassing for many years on the border's of Bretonnia. The traditional frontiers of the dukedoms 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 Princes were overrun by enemies and, despite bitter resistance, there were eventually overrun. 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 a brave and mighty warrior, but was never known for his great power of wits and strategy, for everbody knew that the Greenskin horde can never truly be defeated. 

Nevertheless, many thousands of young knights embraced Charlen's vision passionately, and a great army set off across the mountains, with many knights perishing on the long and arduous journey. At first, victory followed victory and the Greenskin's were slaughtered on the banks of the Blood River. However, as the years rolled by and more young knights traveled to the war-zone to gain honor, Bretonnia grew weaker due to the lack of defender's within it's border. For over sixty-years the war continued, draining Bretonnia of its finances, leader's, and entire generations of knights. Eventually, in the year 1444 (2422 IC), retaliatory attacks from Orc tribes had ravaged the undefended Dukedom of Carcassonne whilst the Knights that should've protected the realm joined the Errantry War.

Eventually, under King Phillippe V, the Errantry War was ended after a devastating defeat at Dread Pass, where an entire army of Bretonnian Knights were slaughtered by the thousands, as the Greenskins pulled these proud knights from their saddles and killed them wholesale. The Bretonnians, in their pride, did 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 honor of their defeated brethren.


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

As the years grow by, one of the most recent and major battles fought against an Undead horde, took place near and within La Maisontal Abbey located around the Grey Mountains. A joint Undead-Skaven army lead by Lichmaster Heinrich Kemmler and a Wraith Lord named Krell, attacked and sacked the aforementioned sacred Abbey of the Lady. 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 that held the army togather.  

Seeing imminent defeat, the Skaven army abandoned there allies as is their habit to do. The Knights returned victorious and with much honour, for their victory was indeed glorious. However, it was a hollow victory, for the treasonous Skaven had merely used the foolish necromancer to gain hold of a mystical and powerful artifact kept within the Abbey.  

It is believed by most that Heinrich died in that bloody battlefield. 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 Lichmasters 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 to enact his revenge against the Bretonnians that defeated him. 

Feudal Government

"We have political systems like this in the Empire. We call them 'protection rackets'..."
—Matthias von Pfeildorf, former Imperial Envoy to Couronne
Bretonnian Court

A Lord and his Feudal Court

The Governmental system that controls much of Bretonnian society is the use and implementation of a Feudal System, an out-dated archaic political system that was widely used within the Old World many centuries ago, but has seen been removed and replaced with more efficient systems of Government. Bretonnia is now the only Human Kingdom to still follow this system. The functionality of the Feudal System is based upon oaths of loyalty between individuals within a society or nation, from which there is little to no direct form of a centralized state. The basic principles of the Feudal System is where those below the social ladder must give up their goods and service to those of higher nobility in exchange for protection and certain rights, privileges and titles.

The peasantry of Bretonnia form the foundations of this feudal system and are required to serve and obey the nobility without question in exchange for their protection. As such, the vows of the Peasants are those of servitude. Above the peasants are the nobles, whose responsibility is the protection of their lands and subjects from the depredations of outside threats, who in exchange for a land and title, shall fight for the King or Royarch when called into war. Thus, the vows of the Nobility is one of fealty.

At the very top of this social pyramid is the King or Royarch. The Royarchs rule is sovereign and absolute, with no laws made within the kingdom having any hold upon the actions of the King. The Royarch has the right to do anything he pleases within his realm, and has the ability to create new laws or legislation should he wish it. However, to be a King of Bretonnia requires one to become a Grail Knight, and to be a Grail Knight, one must be the purest of all humanity's hearts.

As such, nearly all Kings of Bretonnia are a shining beacon of Chivalry, Justice, and Bravery. The Kings of Bretonnia have been known to truly care for all of his people, constantly finding ways to better the lives of his subjects under his rule and to root out injustice wherever it grows. Thusly, the King's power serves as a check on abuses and exploitation made by the lesser nobility.


The Royal Court

"What is a Knight without his steed. But what is the steed without his knight. Knight and Steed, noble and peasant; on such relationship is Bretonnia built."
—King Louen Leoncoeur
King Leoun Court

The Royal Court of King Louen Leoncoeur

By ancient tradition and the will of the Lady of the Lake, the king of Bretonnia must be a Grail Knight, selected by a conclave of as many Grail Knights as can attend the Grail Council of Bastonne immediately following the death of the previous Royarch. This unanimous choice is then legitimized by the Fay Enchantress, the holy representative of the Lady of the Lake. Once the election is finalized, the Fay Enchantress will then crown the new Royarch for life in a ceremony within the traditional Grail Cathedral of Bastonne.

Like any government ruled by a central figure, each King of Bretonnia houses a Royal Court from which he is able to govern and manage his realm with the aid of advisers and his fellow nobles. The current ruler, King Louen Leoncoeur, holds court within the Duchy of Couronne during the winter months. In the summer months, the nobles within his court disperse to their fiefs.

By long custom the King speaks only to the highest nobles, and rarely speaks to those of less than baronial rank. Indeed, nearly all of the Kings servants are Barons, powerful in social ranking due their constant interactions with the king and being sworn in fealty to him alone, for only by the King's direct proclamation can a patent of Barony be issued. The only time a Peasant would ever speak to the King in person, is when he raises one unto the ranks of nobility by knighting them, and this has occurred only five times in the kingdom's entire history.

Unlike most of the lesser nobility King Louen is deeply devoted to his country, and has declared he is willing to hear of abuses and injustices committed by any of his subjects, no matter how powerful. Peasants who can find a noble no matter how lowly, to plead their case can appeal directly to the King. Still, the King has limited time and there are far more abuses than he could ever hear. As such, only the most grievous of abuses are heard. Fortunately if the King hears a grievous case, he always judges fairly with both a wisdom and conscious that most nobles have often lack.


The Code of Chivalry

Another aspect of Bretonnia society that governs the actions of the nobility is the Codes of Chivalry. This code was first introduced upon the coronation of Gilles le Breton as the first Royarch, which grew out of the warrior traditions of the ancient Bretonni tribes that occupied the lands of Bretonnia before its establishment as a kingdom. Indeed, this Code of Chivalry is in its own way, a system of laws from which the Bretonnian nobility has to follow in order to regulate the way their dukedoms should be run.

It wasn't until the reign of King Louis the Rash that the Codes of Chivalry were formalized and established, with the king appointing many heralds to regulate the ranks and honors of knighthood throughout Bretonnia. The code of chivalry has since been almost unchanged unto the present day.

The Seven Commandments

The Bretonnian code of chivalry requires that every Knight must follow these seven commandments. These commandments is an integral part of Bretonnian society and government, and is often used to dictate the actions of a Bretonnian noble.

  • To serve the Lady of the Lake.
  • To defend the domains entrusted to him.
  • To protect the weak and fight for the right.
  • Always to fight the enemies of virtue and order.
  • Never to give up the fight until the foe be defeated.
  • Never to break faith with a friend or ally.
  • Always to display honor and courtesy.

The Rules of Honor

Apart from the commandments of chivalry, there are certain traditional 'rules of honor' from which are adhered to and respected by all Knights. These rules are an important part of the code of chivalry. They date back to the very origins of knighthood in Bretonnia and mark out Bretonnian Knights as distinct from those of other realms. The most important rules are summarized below:

  • A Knight may only fight hand-to-hand, with sword or lance he may not use a missile weapon.
  • A Knight shall always accept a challenge towards personal combat.
  • A Knight shall not draw sword against his fellow Bretonnian Knight, except in trail by combat or within a tournament.
  • A Knight shall not allow himself to be captured alive.
  • A Knight shall not flee from the enemy, nor retreat without proper tactical cause.


Religion

"Lady, I am your servant and in this time of trial I once again offer you my blade and service. 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 shall remain untainted by evil. Honour is all, chivalry is all. Such is my vow."
—the ritual vow of a Knight of the Realm
Grail Chapel

A Grail Chapel of the Lady of the Lake, patron Goddess of Bretonnia

The religious spirit of Bretonnia is often as divided as the division between the nobility and peasantry. Within Bretonnian society, the worship of the Lady of the Lake is considered the main religious doctrine. Much of Bretonnian culture is shaped by the actions of the Cult of the Lady, making them a large political power amongst the nobility. However, unlike the worship of other cults, such as the Cult of Sigmar where doctrine claims the allegiance of all the Empire's people, the Cult of the Lady is restricted to the nobility only within open and or public worship. Although the middle class of freemen commoners, are allowed to worship at shrines and temples, upon payment of a tithe unto the brotherhood maintaining such sites.

For Nobles such tithing is entirely voluntary and the amount dependent upon the noble's generosity. Most tithing's thus being made for show and to establish their social status and reputation amongst the peerage.

Peasants are prohibited from openly worshiping the Lady of the Lake under pain of death or very severe punishment. Instead the peasantry are allowed and in some cases, forced to worship the Gods of the Old World. The Cult of Ulric has very few followers and even fewer public shrines, the Cult of Mrymidia is growing substantially due to the presence of nearby Estalia. Being a martial God, it is a common theme for peasant soldiers and common militia to revere Myrmidia more than any other diety. The worship of Rhya and Taal is strong amongst farmers, where peasants regularly pray for good weather and a bountiful harvest, so to feed their hungry families and to pay the exorbitant tithes and taxes imposed by their Lords and masters.

The Cult of Verena is strongest amongst the few scholars that occupy Bretonnian civic society, found exclusively within the ducal capitals and larger trade port towns. It is common knowledge that outlaw vigilante groups known as Herrimalts or more commonly as a band of Merry Men, make her their patron goddess of justice.

The Cult of Morr is especially strong within both the peasantry and nobility alike, for the recurring theme of the dead rising from the graves has ensured the creation of many Gardens of Morr, both to keep the spirits at rest and to contain the dead should they begin to stir. The cult is more feared by the peasantry than worshiped, supported as a vitally important and necessary service by the nobility. Since the invasion of the kingdom by Lichmaster Heinrich Kemmler, the royal court has patronized and encouraged the formation and dedication of fortress Gardens and monasteries unto the Guardian of the dead. Amongst the nobility the black monks and their protectors the mighty Black-Guard are seen as special protectors of the kingdom, therefore although they are mostly being trained and sourced from the Cult's central temple's within Empire, amoured warriors of the Temple of Morr are given a special royal dispensation for the wearing of plate armor, baring martial arms and the stone construction and castleation of their monasteries. The largest and strongest of these within Bretonnia can all being found within the boarder region of disgraced Mousillon, aiding in the guarding and maintenance of the Sanitaire des Mousillon.

The Cult of Sigmar is practically non-existent within Bretonnia's heartland, although not discouraged "Officially" a high level of noble prejudice and suspicion is attached to any that follow it. It can being found within small communities of displaced Empire citizens, now living within disputed boarder regions, and the passes of the Grey Mountains.


The Cult of the Lady

Revered throughout Bretonnia but almost unknown elsewhere, the Lady of the Lake is the Bretonnian patron Goddess of purity, nobility and courage within the face of danger. She is the romanticized ideal of womanhood, the one fair Lady that every Knight aspires to love and serve without any doubt or hesitation. Within the minds of many nobles the Lady is the very heart and soul of Bretonnia, a mystical elemental incarnation of the land itself and a guardian of all people living within the kingdom.

Sacred groves and pools of mystical healing power are her dwelling places, and the Grail Knights her protectors, devoting themselves to upholding her honor and purity.  No base creatures or evildoers can be permitted to profane her sacred sites, this is a duty every knight within Bretonnia, not just Grail Knight's, take very seriously indeed.

The Bretonnian Code of Chivalry is inextricably linked with the Lady of the Lake, as it is she who rewards all honor and virtue, it is the supreme sign of a knight's favor to receive her personal Divine blessing. Achieved only by drinking from the chalice she carries with her at all times, said to contain the pure and incorruptible life's blood of the Land itself.

Throughout Bretonnia there are many Grail Chapels built upon sites of holy significance, ranging from the most humble road-side shrine, up to the truly grand and beautifully ornate flying buttressed fortress cathedrals, incorporated into a Duke's castle estate. It is the sacred duty of all Grail Knights to protect these shrines, often such holy paladins will devote the remainder of their lives to defending the Lady's sacred places. These mighty warriors are best known as Hermit Knights, whom willingly spend their remaining lives living beside and defending the relics housed within such places, or standing vigil over magical items and tomes far to dangerous to be allowed out amongst common, frail willed and easily corrupted men.

The fame of these hermit Knights can spread quickly, especially if they are Grail knights, each will soon gain a varied rabble of displaced commoners, peasants and even a few disgraced minor nobles. Over time this rabble, sworn in fealty unto the original knight or a noble born successor, can form a brotherhood, which if it gains official recognition from the central Grail Temple within Bastonne and a royal patent from the King in Couronne , can become a landed estate monastery or Grail Abbey, paying tithe and fealty unto their local Duke and the King. It is these brotherhoods that build and maintain the wayside shrines and chapels upon the King's Highways, and it is these selfless grail monks whom care for the many pilgrims traveling within Bretonnia. The Master, or father Abbot of such a Brotherhood can also march his brothers to war at the call of the local Duke or the King, when needed, thus forming core units of fanatical shock troops, and morale boosting divinely blessed bastions upon the field of battle.

The Cult of Shallya

The largest and most important religious cult within Bretonnian society, after the Cult of the Lady of course, is the Cult of Shallya. The life of a Bretonnian peasant is extremely hard and the relief brought by the caring and ever merciful Shallyans is a most welcoming sight within any village, town or city. The religious doctrine's of Shallya have been known to contradict those of the Lady at times, for while the Lady of the Lake promotes ideals of chivalry and honorable deeds in battle amongst the nobility, the Goddess Shallya cares for all people equally and weeps crystal-white tears for the suffering they must endure. Wishing only to ease their burden and provide a sense of comfort and relief in an otherwise cruel world. The symbol of the cult is white dove in flight.

As you might expect the Cult is extremely popular within the peasantry and most commoners, to such an extent that no Bretonnian peasant would ever want be more than a few hours walk from a shrine dedicated unto Shallya. Such is the popularity of Shallya's teachings that even the nobility have taken to endowing small shrines of Shallya near and even associated within Grail Chapels, in the form of Grail convents, a custom that is rapidly growing in popularity. In fact the main temple for the Cult of Shallya is now located within the Duchy capital of Couronne and has the official patronage of the entire royal court and the present King himself.

A common and growing heresy among peasants and some commoners, is a belief that both Shallya and Varena are merely aspects of the Lady, whom provide comfort for the peasantry and guide the nobility towards their protection. However such beliefs are ruthlessly suppressed by all agents of the lady, namely the Bretonnian Inquisition based within Bastonne. Despite many years of vigorous investigation, a repeated reappearance of this heresy is now believed to be a natural weakness of the mind formed within common and other simple folk.

Language

There are two main languages spoken within Bretonnia, Common Bretonnian and High Bretonnian. The most important is the High tongue, a dialect that is spoken only amongst the nobility. Almost exclusively spoken within the ducal and royal courts, it has a highly complex and rigidly formalized grammar, which was originally intended to create a language barrier between the upper and lower classes of Bretonnian society, someone not raised to the tongue thusly stands out immediately, so preventing pretenders to nobility easily entering a noble court.</span>

Over time it has grown to become a near entirely foreign language, far greatly refined as compared to that of the rather course Common Bretonnian, which shares its roots within a mix of early Sigmarian and local tribal Bretonni Gothic, which in itself varies greatly from Duchy to Duchy. A peasant within Lyonesse for example would barely being able to make himself understood within Carcassonne, a fact that the Nobility have exploited to curb the movement of the lower classes and further isolate them.

Thus High Bretonnian has also become a universal form of converse amongst the Noble ranks for use in parlay and contract and all negotiation. A fact that any foreign visitor is wise to consider if he wishes to gain any respect and consideration within dealings of trade and commerce there. All conversation with foreigners will being done exclusively within High Bretonnian, and the failure of proper diction will being seen as amusing, as well as inviting the unvarnished contempt of the local Noble party, a fact that has lead most non Bretonnians towards seeing them, quite incorrectly, as being generally brusk, rude and even arrogant.

Society

There are Three Major pillars supporting Bretonnian Feudal Society. The Nobility, the Clergy, and the Peasantry in order of authority. The peasantry grow the food, do all the work and support civil infrastructure. The Nobility hold all authoritative power and privilege, they are duty bound to face all dangers threatening the kingdom both local or foreign, and uphold all qualities of Honour and Chivalry, at least publicly.

The entire system is then held together by the Clerical class, whose duty's are to maintain the kingdom's spiritual health enforce the faith and all "moral" authority within the kingdom. Primarily they are used to keep the peasantry in check, suppressing un-contentment and rebellion. The Clerical class are also the record keepers and administration of Bretonnia, advising the King and other nobles at all levels. All learning and writing is done through them or is under their influence. The hunting down of witches and mutants are their darkest and most important duty.

The geography of Bretonnia is decidedly rural, all powerful local tradition's allow little to no innovation in science and enlightened modern philosophy, its people are somewhat backwards and highly provincial compared to the more technologically advanced nations of the Old World, such as the Dwarves and the Empire. The Bretonnian military is well known to shun advanced weaponry such as Handguns, Cannons, and most War-machines, seeing them all as dishonorable weapons that go against the ideals of Chivalry and the will of their patron, the Lady of the lake.

The Kingdom of Bretonnia is made up of 14 dukedoms: Couronne, L'Anguille, Artois, , Mousillon { provisionally }, Lyonesse, Gisoreaux, Montfort, Bastonne, Bordeleaux, Aquitaine, Parravon, Brionne, Quenelles, and Carcassonne. Each of these, with the exception of Mousillon, is ruled by its own Duke, whom in turn has various lesser rank nobles and knights who serve under him. The Forest of Loren is also provisionally within the borders of Bretonnia, but is considered to be a forbidden realm of the wild Faye and the home of Bretonnia's Wood Elf allies.

The Nobility

The lands of Bretonnia are a feudal, traditional society where peasants and commoners serve Noble Knights in return for protection, while the knights are bound militarily to serve their lords in return for certain rights privileges and landed titles. At the top of this feudal hierarchy, is the King. Beneath the Kings are the Dukes. Beneath them are lesser ranks of nobility such as Marquesses, Earls, Viscounts, Lords and Knights all in descending order, and the Barons having a special place within the courtly pecking order.

Each of the senior nobles are also master over a number of Knights, whom are the lowest noble rank of society. Each Knight, including the higher nobles has a duty to raise his own full time force of Men-at-Arms, chosen from the most physically able peasants within his domain. In return for serving his knightly lord, each peasant is given a small tract of land to farm for his family and can be expected to be called upon in times of war, to form a peasant militia of archers and pikes, commanded by the highest ranking Nobleman present.

The Knights of Bretonnia are divided into four generalized categories.

  • Knight's Errant - are the young sons of noble families who must prove themselves in battle, so then to earn their spurs.
  • Knights of the Realm - Should they survive to become fully honoured Knights, they are granted their own small landed estate to govern, called a knight's fee or tithe, and are obligated to defend that estate and Bretonnia should they be called to muster.
  • Questing Knights - These are brave individuals, revered as the land's most dedicated and selfless heroes. They willingly renounce all title and worldly possessions, so to journey unto faraway lands, all in hopes of being deemed worthy by the Lady to become a blessed Grail Knight.
  • Grail Knights - These are the most powerful and revered individuals in all of Bretonnia if not the entire human world, second only to the Lady in influence. They are considered living saints who represent the fearsome might and power of Bretonnia and answer only to the Lady herself, the rightful King of the realm can only be chosen from within their holy order.

The Clerical

The lands are also ruled by spiritual and mystical leaders, such as the Fay Enchantress, her Damsels, and the Grail Knights, all whom are faithful servants unto the Lady of the Lake. The Lady gains her servants by stealing all children with magical ability, ideally by the age of three. The girls become sorcerers within the service of the lady and would eventually become her Damsels and mighty Prophetesses. However, those born as male are never seen again. For reasons of religious devotion, Bretonnian parents both noble and peasantry alike, allow this awful custom to continue without due comment mainly through fear.

The highly destructive actions of many hedge witches, and especially necromancers within the kingdom are espoused as justification for this practice. A fear of curses and witchcraft is "the" major concern amongst all and particularly the highly superstitious peasantry, it is manipulated ruthlessly by all levels of authority within the kingdom, almost any accusation can be justified when tarred with the label of witchcraft.

At a more human level, the Kingdom is kept running by a series of Brotherhood orders, and Grail convents. These small groups serve the varied temples and maintain all shrines, temples and cathedrals throughout the land. They are given land and local authority by the King under fealty to him first and to the local duke second, they are charged with maintaining the moral order of society, they record all marriages and births, witness all legal contracts. Monks are also used to broker parlays and truces between feuding Nobles. All writing and learning is enacted through them for a fee, upon the local nobleman's permission.

The most important duty of the Clerical class is to work closely with agents of the Lady, although mostly these are simply Questing Knights and Grail knights, giving them shelter at need and support in battle if called for. The local Inquisition is their darkest duty, hunting out practitioners of magic that have escaped detection by the Lady's Damsels. Publicly punishing those witches and necromancers, mutants and un-licenced foreign Mages that are captured, by burning them at the stake, after a very showy public trial called an Auto-de-Fe. The center of Religious Bretonnia is the City of Bastonne, the kingdoms grandest and most spectacular Temple Cathedral is to be found there, along with the Grail councils hall and bureaucracy. All patents and petitions of Brotherhood must be heard here before being signed of by the king, a procedure that can take many months if not years to complete.

The Peasantry

Bretonnian Peasants

The simple folk of the lands

The lands are notorious for their oppression of both the commoners and peasants, which some say are more strict and harsh then those of other Old World nations. This dark side of Bretonnian culture is unashamedly out in the open, where all nobles and nobility are set high above the peasantry in many ways.  Noble-men have all the say in most matters, and peasants often live in far worst conditions than those in the Empire.

The peasants have very few rights at all, and are kept illiterate and uneducated by law. They are considered mere property and must surrender 9/10th's of their crops to their feudal lord.  As a result most of them remain extremely poor throughout their entire lives. They may 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 minor defects and mutations. Bretonnian justice is extremely harsh and entirely ruled by superstition, any peasant who is caught stealing or poaching is usually hanged. Even harsher punishment is dealt unto a peasant whom attacks a noble. He and his entire family will be tortured and slowly dismembered, being drawn and quartered is the preferred method, while all his closest friends and acquaintances will be crippled. Such is the price of rebellion.

A small but growing middle class of commoners, also referred to as Freemen, make up both the professional trades and merchant class within Bretonnian society. Although literate for the most part, either self taught or by monks as there are no schools in Bretonnia. All education is thus done by private arrangement and stems from the many Grail Monasteries for a price.

Artisans, craftsmen and semi-professionals live almost exclusively within the Kingdom's few cities and numerous larger towns, situated mostly along the kingdoms coasts and rivers. They remain socially segregated from the bonded peasants and give fealty unto a Lord or landed Knight but remain free to move, with permission from local authorities if their skills are not considered too important to their current master and or community. Intellectuals such as scholars, doctors and other similar profession are well respected for their duties but remain of a lower class than the Nobles, usually having about the same rights as a skilled commoner.

The ownership of gold jewelry and hoarding of gold is forbidden to the common classes, forcing merchants to deal almost exclusively in copper and silver. Gold is officially used only amongst the nobility, usually as tax and tithing unto the royal treasury. Any gold received in trade must be declared and handed over to the merchant's noble master, this being done each tithing day and at an exchange rate that is considered criminal in nearly all other countries.

The Sumptuary laws are most strictly applied to this class, with gold and certain gems forbidden to be worn publicly. As is cloth of Purple, Bright Yellow or Green thread or silk of any colour. Furs are restricted to rabbit, cat and rat. The use of plate armor is also strictly forbidden for use by the lower classes, as is the carrying of heavy swords or any weapon class above a rapier or light saber. Foreign visitors are being permitted the use of both armor and heavy weapons upon licence, papers must being carried at all times, expect to be questioned and considered suspect by any local authorities when travelling beyond Bretonnia's port cities, or boarder settlements.           

Military

"I pledge my service and my loyalty, body and soul, to my Lord. 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. Honor is All! Chivalry is All! This I swear on my blood and my breath"
—The Knight's Vow
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A Bretonnian army on the battlefield

Unlike the professional armies of the Empire, the armies of Bretonnia consist almost entirely of armored heavy cavalry and the use of levied units of spear-men and archers. Bretonnia has no regular army as such, this means there are no massive number of professional soldiers ready to be pressed into service of the nation when the call for war is suddenly blown. Instead, the Kingdom relies on the long and complicated feudal service of her Knights. When a lord must go to war against the enemy, he appeals to the military assistance of his vassals. They in turn take the long process of summoning their own vassals to his banner, with most knights taking with them local peasants drilled in basic ranked pike combat or archery. These armies do not follow common military training and usually have even no internal hierarchy, but their military tactics are simple and homogeneous enough to function smoothly in all circumstances, units being formed and reformed on the fly or at need during an extended campaign.

The main weakness of this system appears especially in long campaigns. Lords and Knights need return to their holdings and lands in order to govern them appropriately, and pay tithes unto higher ranking noble masters and or the crown. As such, most military campaigns traditionally do not exceed more than forty days at a stretch. It is only when a Lord is under siege from an enemy, or the Roy-arch calls forth an Errantry War, will a Lord and his Knights gladly fight zealously for a longer period of time, being thus freed from all tithing whilst under such service.

Bretonnian military tactics are often very simple and highly predictable, using a tactic that many have called the "Hammer and Anvil". The peasants and levies of the Bretonnian armies are considered the "anvil" during combat, providing a stable wall of infantry to hold the enemy at bay, with massed archery harassing and bleeding the foe, whilest heavily-armored cavalry becomes the "hammer," attacking the enemy flanks in a "Spearhead" formation, shattering the enemies resolve and achieving victory over the battlefield.

As such, it is a common misconception that nearly all battles are being won by the valiant deeds of Bretonnian Knights, often showing little regard for the important role that "peasants" have played during the battle.

Nevertheless, the Knights of Bretonnia see themselves as a model of chivalry and virtue, representing the pinnacle of the warrior ideal. When in war against civilized opponents, a Bretonnian Knight must be courteous towards his noble prisoners, and put those of common blood to the sword. A war gives the young Errant's and established Knights of Bretonnia a chance to show their superior courage, thus earning honor and advancing the ideals of chivalry by acts of personal bravery. However recommendable, (but not always applied) these values ​​are, this idyllic attitude towards war is not always in favor of Bretonnian warfare. Excited to face the most powerful opponents, Errants will often ignore all other considerations and tactics, and many Lord commanders will gladly throw away the lives of many commoners all for the sake of honor and chivalry. Nevertheless, the deeds and bravery that these honorable knights have done for their kingdom, and the many glorious battles they have won have always outweighed such shortcomings.


Bretonnian Infantry

  • Men-at-Arms - are the basic front-line infantry that comprises most Bretonnian armies. These men have been chosen from a very young age to be trained and equipped with basic weaponry and gear and fight on the behalf of their Lord. Wearing mostly chainmail armor, these reluctant but adequate soldiers are responsible for defending a noble master's castle, or holding the line against the enemy with shield and spear, whilst the Knights upon their mighty warhorses attack from the flanks and bring victory. 
  • Peasant Bowmen - commoners that are not fit to join the men-at-arms companies are often press-ganged at need into service as basic support units, archers are a common and readily formed unit as all peasants and commoners within Bretonnia are required to maintain a proficiency with the bow, Their willingness being reinforced by the promised bounty of copper coin for any who survive the campaign, an exception from tithing and the right to loot the enemy fallen, which is to any peasant a potential princely fortune. Unfortunately as with most Bretonnian infantry units, these men aren't very reliable soldiers.
  • Grail Pilgrims - though not considered an official part of Bretonnian armies, these "Pilgrims" are fanatic and pious followers who believe zealously within the holiness of their chosen Grail Knight, flocking in their dozens to join and bask in their master's reflected glory. Equipped with the discarded weapons and armor of the Grail Knight, these units provide the Bretonnian army with a much more reliable source of stalwart shocktroop infantry.
  • Yeoman - experienced soldiers who provide the Bretonnian army with dedicated skirmisher infantry or fast light cavalry and scouts. These veterans have fought in and survived many battles with only the skills of their arms and their unwavering bravery. Such is their combat experience that Yeomen are almost as skilled in combat as any Knight of the Realm, but such a boast is often ignored and even suppressed by the nobility. When promoted to the rank of a Yeomen, these men are often divided between Mounted Scout Yeomanry or become the Sergeants within a Men-at-Arms company.

Bretonnian Cavalry

  • Knight Errant - these young nobles are the lowest ranking member of most Bretonnian cavalry as well as the nobility. In the prime of youth, these ill-experienced but highly enthusiastic warriors comprise a significant portion of many Bretonnian armies. Fighting on horseback, these Knights often engage the best enemy regiments in their eagerness to earn the title of a Knight of the Realm.
  • Knight of the Realm - are the backbone of nearly all Bretonnian armies and as such, they are the most common members of the ruling elite. They have distinguished themselves in errantry and have thus received a fief or a position of power within noble society. They are expected to honor and defend their lords and kingdom from the depredation of all those that seek to destroy it, fighting on horseback, with lance in hand and their unwavering faith in the Lady of the Lake.
  • Questing Knight - these Knights are those nobles who are seeking the attention of their patron goddess, the Lady of the Lake, in hopes of acquiring her blessing as a means to obtain the status of a Grail Knight. Living a solitary existence, these men would strive to prove himself to the Lady, performing good deeds, slaying foul beast, and aiding the armies of Bretonnia when in times of peril.
  • Grail Knight - these Knights are the very pinnacle of Bretonnian chivalry, honor, and bravery. Those Questing Knights who have drunk from the Holy Grail are blessed with the powers of the Lady and have thus been proven worthy to become a Grail Knights. To obtain the position of a Grail Knight is the ultimate goal for all Knights, and to become one is to be the very embodiment of a Holy Warrior. It is said that these Knights are one of the greatest of Mankinds warriors to ever walk the earth.
  • Pegasus Knight - unlike traditional mounted warfare, those Knights that can tame and ride the mighty Pegasus into battle are warriors without equal. Flying across the battlefled with wings of angelic appearance, the Pegasus Knights take to the sky and fight the flying monstrosities the enemy has unleashed upon them with lance and swords.

Bretonnian Artillery

  • Trebuchet - are immense siege engines used to lob large projectiles at enemy formations from a safe distance. The machine itself can vary greatly in design, and the projectiles thrown can range in weight from a cannon ball sized rock, up to as large as a peasants hovel. Due to it's bad reputation as a dishonorable weapon and the lack of any proper education amongst the common people, only a handful of craftsmen have the skills and knowledge to build such expensive and time-consuming devices. Thus with only a finite number of engineers available for hire and no consistent quality or qualifications amongst them, Trebuchets are usually scratch built onsite, using whatever materials lay at hand, and are then stripped down again for scrap, with only the valuable iron forged parts travelling from siege to siege, along with the hired engineer that made them.

Bretonnian Lords

  • Bretonnian Lord - are powerful noblemen or knights whose deeds are recounted throughout the lands, warriors unparalleled in combat and the stout follower of the Codes of Chivalry. These Bretonnian Lords includes the mighty Earls, Barons and the Dukes that occupy much of the higher nobility. Proud and powerful warriors all, Bretonnian Lords are excellent warrior-generals.
  • Prophetess of the Lady - The most favored devotees of the Lady, whom have served their divine mistress faithfully for much of their lives. They are potent spellcasters, and their magic can dramatically affect the outcome of any battle, their magic is elemental in nature controlling plants and the animals of land, air and water, calling down raging storms thick cloaking mists and mighty bolts of lightning.

Bretonnian Heroes

  • Grail Damsels - Lesser servants of the Lady, not as long in service as a Prophetess. They specialize in protective wardings, purification's, healing and the dispelling of hostile magic, coming to the aid of armies and questing knights. Moving always from place to place at the Lady's need, so as to root out evil and corruption, hunt down potentially gifted children, and guide heroes unto holy sites in need of protection.
  • Paladin - Paladins are powerful warriors renowned throughout Bretonnia for their chivalry and feats of arms in combat against all evil, as respected and noble as a Knight can become without the grail blessing. Many of them are highly ranked nobles, holding titles such as Earl or Baron, while others hold warrior titles, such as Marshal or Warden. THey are legendary heroic fighters as well as leaders for an army of noble Knights.

Bretonnian War Mounts

  • Hippogryphs - A ferocious creature, a Hippogryph has the head of an eagle, and the body of a horse. Only owned and trained by the greatest of lords and nobles.
  • Royal Pegasus - The purest of all pegasus, legend has it that these creatures are descended form Glorfinial himself, these incredibly rare creatures are once in a lifetime sights for Lords and Nobles.
  • Pegasus - They can be found on the slopes of the Grey Mountains and only the richest and influential knights can boast about having them.
  • Bretonnian Warhorse - Bretonnian horses are believed to be the best in the old world, because of their endurance and fiery temper.
  • Hagranyms - These horse related mutant creatures are found within the Grey Mountains, usually used as war mounts by powerful Ork warlords. They are carnivorous and entirely more intelligent than any Ork riding them, the Hagranym will tolerate the presence of their greenskin allies only because it aids them in their desire towards ever greater blood and slaughter. To date no Knight of the realm has successfully tamed or allied with one but this does not stop the foolish and overconfident few from trying an dying in the attempt. Strong swift and agile, able to climb even the most difficult terrain, such a beast would be the perfect mount for a knight to ride into battle.


Locations of Interest

400px-Bretonnia

A Map of all the Duchies of Bretonnia

The Dukedoms of Bretonnia

Lost and Former Dukedoms.

The former Dukedoms of the Kingdom of Bretonnia and other regions of note:

  • The Dukedom of Mousillon - After the horrific event known as the Affairs of the False Grail, the Dukedom of Mousillon has since gone into regression and poverty, and with the death of Duke Maldred, no Duke has since claimed the throne.
  • The Dukedom of Cuileux - A Bretonni Dukedom that was ravaged by war during the Dark Age of Bretonnia. Little is known about the Dukedom saved that it was overrun by a Horde of Greenskins.
  • The Dukedom of Glanborielle - A Bretonni Dukedom that was ravaged by war during the Dark Age of Bretonnia. Little is known about the Dukedom saved that it was overrun by a Horde of Greenskins.

Cities of Bretonnia

The Kingdom of Bretonnia is famously for its rural landscape, and lack greatly in the construction of urban environments. However, some of the Dukedoms capitals are all cities that were built either as trade-hubs or ports to the sea.

  • Castle L'Anguille - The port-city of L'Anguille is a famous trading-port, situated at the mouth of the River Sannez. In the past, this city was formerly an ancient Elven colony abandoned during the War of the Beard. Today it is the premiere sea and trade port within the kingdom and the home port for the Royal Bretonnian navy. It is this city that most travelers see first upon arrival and is the most multicultural of all Bretonnia's Duchy capitals. Its most impressive feature being the Duke's castle, located upon a towering pinnacle of rock just off shore, linked to the mainland by a long and graceful, elven made stone arched bridge, guarding an extensive harbor and a multitude of dock wards below. The city itself being built mostly into the cliffs overlooking the harbor, guarded atop by a ring of mighty cliff top walls.
  • Larret - the city of Larret is located within the Dukedom of Artois, squeezed in between the borders of Mousillon and Lyonesse, famous for its modernization in comparison to other towns within Bretonnia. Its duke quested extensively within the Empire and has recreated much of what he saw there in an attempt to advance Bretonnian society. This has made him rather unpopular within the royal court.
  • Castle Bastonne - This is claimed to be the oldest city within Bretonnia and its spiritual heart. The noble seat of Duke Gilles le Breton himself, it then became the original capital and seat of the first Kings. Today it serves as "the" major pilgrimage destination within the kingdom. At its heart sits the largest and most important Grail chapel cathedral in all the land, and holds the tombs of many grail Knights as well as many of the earliest Kings, including the tomb of Gilles himself, containing all his most Holy relics if not his actual body. It is one of the very few cities not built upon a river or the sea coast, being located at the center of Duchy Bastonne.
  • Castle Bordeleaux - The fortress-city of Bordeleaux is the capital of the Dukedom, famous for its port and the grand ring of defenses that guards the city from sea-born invaders, it is the second most important navy port within Bretonnia and has a long standing rivalry with L'Anguille over this fact. Its most important role being maintaining a royal naval blockade of the Grismerie estuary, hunting pirates and smugglers who use the river and its hundreds of low swampy islands as bases, thus to raid small river settlements and all along the western coast . The city is renowned for producing the finest red wines in all the old world.
  • Castle Brionne - the fortress-city of Brionne, is best renowned as being "the" architectural, fashionable and artistic center of all Bretonnian society, and since the fall of Mousillon has taken the title "Jewel of Bretonnia." most beautiful of all cities, finest patron of entertainers and poets. On the darker side it is also infamous for its many Slaaneshi, and Nurgalish cults. A fear of plague is ever present within the city and the Inquisition also maintains an ever watchful presence. Built of a fine white sandstone and Marbled facades, with fine sky blue painted tiles upon every roof and tall slender turreted tower, the city is a true splendor to behold, artists call this city their capital and performances by all the greatest poets, minstrels and mummers can be found within every market place, tavern and noble hall throughout the year.
  • Castle Couronne - This is the current capital of all Bretonnia, a mighty fortress-city and the seat of power of Royarch Louen Leoncoeur. The royal castle's tall alabaster white walls, many graceful towers and bright blue tiled turrets and city houses, make it the second most beautiful city in the old world after Brionne. The city attracts trade from throughout the old world and beyond and therefore has the most multicultural population after L'Anguille. Politics and a cut throat, never ending game of intrigue within the court dominate all aspects of life within the city. The inquisition maintains a very careful presence here as do many cults devoted to Tzeentch. Hardly a season goes by without some great scandal within the Nobel court's ranks being carefully hushed up. The Grail council also meets here annually each winter to offer their advice to the King. The city is home to the second biggest Grail cathedral within Bretonnia and is famed for its many chapels and holy places, and as a site of pilgrimage. The central temple of Shallya within the old world, is also located here and maintains a subtle presence, carefully maintaining a strict separation from all local politics. The city is divided by the river Sannez, the noble quarter and temples etc are all located upon the north bank, the peasantry, all trades and most commoners occupy a sprawling slum of hovels guild houses and market places upon the other, separated by tall multi arched, fortified stone bridges. The second most impressive structure within Couronne is the giant and gracefully beautiful Royal Hippodrome. Tournaments, races and martial displays are a constant feature of the Royal city's social and entertainment circles, all the finest horse breeders within the kingdom and even beyond show off their finest here. Many grand and not so grand theaters and concert halls offer artists of every type a ready source of noble patronage, and a ready population ripe for corruption within the city's large and bustling artist's colony.
  • Castle Gisoreux - a bustling fortress-city that is home to a wide variety of traders and travelers stopping in upon their way along the River Grismerie. An important port of call for the Cordon-de-Sanitare over Mousillon, and since city Mousillon's fall has become the largest center of trade upon the kingdoms largest and most important river highway. It also serves as guardian over a Grey Mountains pass into the Empire, called the Gisoreux gap.
  • Castle Lyonesse - The small official capital of the Duchy, it is barely large enough to qualify as a proper city. It is known to have once been a far larger port and a beautiful elven city, abandoned after the war of the Beard. The god Mannan it is believed, punished its later human inhabitants for their lack virtuousness, to back this legend up, many extensive ruins are exposed along the near shore upon the lowest tides, many adventurers claim to have found valuable treasures sunk within them. At low tide each day the castle and its small rocky island become accessible for a few hours via a stone causeway, only at high tide can small boats and barges access the sprawling castle's main sea gates and docks.
  • Castle Montfort - a massive fortress-city that guards the western most end of Axe-Bite Pass. It displays the finest example of fortification within the old world, five mighty tiers of towering stone walls guard the pass at the western most end, another just slightly smaller fortress-garrison town sits at the pass's eastern end as well. The city is primarily a trade center charging a toll upon all whom enter through the gates of the pass, going both ways, even its own citizens. It's craftsmen are renowned for their extensive mining operations and for the fine quality of their steel, weapons and armor, an influence of their very close association with the dwarves of the Grey Mountains. It is claimed Montfort's original foundation was Dwarven, abandoned either during or soon after the war of the beards. Montfort and its lord stands as a stalwart bastion against the Ork tribes that now infest local valleys.
  • Castle Mousillon - a decaying fortress-city that serves as the provisional capital of the now-disgraced Dukedom of Mousillon, situated upon the north shore of the mighty River Grismerie's, chaos tainted and eternally mist shrouded, swamp dominated estuary. Its most famous landmark is the Lance of Light, a tall ruin believed to be the port city's old Lighthouse. The largest islands of the estuary's southern most shore are held by forces from Duchy Bordeleaux, they are used as a fortified port base of the Cordon de-Sanitare, and the river's Royal Blockade Fleet.
  • Castle Parravon - an impressive fortress-city carved directly from the rock of the mountains and marks the highest navigable point upon the mighty Grismeire river. It is most famed for it's Heroic Paladin Duke and his extensive stable of Pegasus, these stables are built within the towering shear sided cliff walls of the city. Many of his highest ranked vassals ride forth upon these noble beasts when the city is threatened by either Ork or Empire armies.
  • Castle Quenelles - a fortress-city that is located at the borders of the Forest of Loren. It has a long and intimate connection to the wood elves, and its Duke is even rumored to have some elven blood within his ancestry. It's people are the most superstitious of all the kingdom, living in constant worry over bad luck and wild faye mischief and changelings, witch-hunts and the subsequent brutal even near hysterical trials and burnings, are a common popular event. The Inquisition maintains a strong and ever vigilant presence within the city at all times, all forms of magic are considered highly suspect here, so foreign adventures beware when adventuring here.

Notable Characters

  • The Green Knight - Legend states that this may being Gilles le Breton himself, eternally serving his Lady and awaiting the time he may be needed to defend the Kingdom again.  He appears only in times of the greatest need so to aid the king in battle or a fellow Grail Knight. His primary duty seems to be, offering the final test of worthiness unto a questing knight, he will appear and challenge a knight when the Lady deems him ready, if the knight then defeats him in single combat or simply passes a test of either Courage or Chivalry, the Lady will then manifest and grant her new hero a blessing from the holy grail itself.
  • Fay Enchantress - This individual is the living voice of the lady of the Lake. The mightiest Sorceress within the kingdom. Often seen within the company of the Mystical Green Knight, she travels the land aiding questing knights and giving spiritual and magical aid and advice to the King and varied Dukes. Her primary duty is to select and proclaim the next rightful King of Bretonnia, from amongst the brotherhood order of Grail Knights. It is uncertain whether she is an immortal as all the legends claim or is simply replaced by the next most powerful Prophetess when her time is done.

Sources

  • Bretonnia (5th Edition) pg. 5 - 34, 17 - 19
  • Armybook: Bretonnia (6th Edition) pg. 6 - 28
  • Knights of the Grail (RPG) pg. 6 - 11, 14 - 20, 21 - 29, 30 - 34, 36 - 42
  • Barony of the Damned (RPG) pg. 6 - 10
  • Warhammer fantasy (RPG) 1986 - 2009 
  • Tome of Salvation (RPG)
  • Tome of Damnation (RPG)
  • Knights of Bretonnia { Warhammer Omnibus} black library authorized novels by Anthony Reynolds.

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