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Musings on…the priesthoods of Bretonnia, part 3: Priests of the Old World Gods during Unification PDF Print
Sunday, 02 February 2014
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Musings on…the priesthoods of Bretonnia, part 3: Priests of the Old World Gods during Unification
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Breaking the spears

The next port of call for the Grail Companions was Brionne, where Lord Balduin was besieged by Greenskins. Since this Dukedom is close to Estalia, and the people of Brionne are obsessed with poetry, music, courtly love and other arts and customs which were probably influenced by the south, I think this would be a good place for the Companions to encounter the Myrmiddian sects - by which I mean priests of Myrmiddia from both Estalia and Tilea.Because of their feud - and because the influence of the Cult of Myrmiddia on the Bretonni needs to be minimal - the priests wouldn't have much say in the politics of Brionne. Besides, Balduin doesn't seem the type to care much about strategy. "Virtue of the Impetuous Knight: In the glory of the charge was Balduin most alive, and though others more tempered by the fires of war better controlled their ardour, he was ever in the forefront of battle."[9]


I see the Estalian and Tilean priests squabbling with each other during Unification even more than usual, criticizing their opponent's beliefs at every turn and blaming each other for every mistake. Then the Grail Companions came along, destroying with knightly valour what strategic warfare failed at. An inspired Balduin sallied forth from his fortress to help in killing the Greenskins, and when the Lady of the Lake suddenly appeared in the midst of battle to grant him the same power Gilles and his friends possessed, he immediately agreed and drank from the Grail. After the battle the Lord of Brionne would toss the Myrmiddian clergies from his domain.


This would accomplish two things. Firstly it would signify to everyone that the people of Brionne - and by extension the rest of the Bretonni, especially those in the south - were not vassals to the southern nations, regardless of how much the Bretonni were influenced by their arts and customs. In other words, it would add greater depth and patriotic fervour to Unification and Bretonnia as a whole. Secondly it gives us a reason for why the Myrmiddians did not aid the Bretonni - or else gave insufficient aid - during Unification. This also explains why the Cult of Myrmiddia would have a minor influence on the people of Bretonnia.


Persuading the judge

After Brionne the Grail Companions went to Carasconne. This was the first early Dukedom where no major battles (that we know of) took place. In fact, the Grail Companions are described as racing through Carasconne to get to Quenelles and Athel Loren as fast as possible. But Lord Lambard and his forces still joined them, in spite of the Companions not aiding the Carasconnians in any major conflicts and the absence of the Lady of the Lake. Apparently the Lord of Carasconne was persuaded to accompany Gilles and his army without any visible demonstration of their abilities or their Goddess. Since there's no mention of conflict between the Carasconnians and the Grail Companions, it seems likely that they simply talked with each other. Eventually Lambard was persuaded into joining up to wipe out the enemies of the Bretonni, which does conform to his description as a brave warrior. "Virtue of Stoicism: Tales are still told of how Lambard stood alone against hordes of Orcs and saved his Dukedom of Carasconne. Steeled by his bravery, those around him fought with the courage of the Breton himself."[10]


I think that this debate would be a good spot for the Grail Companions to chance upon the Cult of Verena. Firstly, Verenans are disposed to diplomacy, which makes it plausible that they would be present at the negotiations between Lambard and the Companions - or even be the ones who suggested and planned the whole affair. This in turn also makes the success of these negotiations more likely. Besides, her worship would be concentrated in the south and Carasconne is the most southern Bretonnian region. Secondly, while the people of Carasconne are a martial people and not overtly inclined to matters of learning, they also consider themselves as the champions of civilization. "However, [Carasconnians] do not look down on those who are not warriors. This is seen best in their attitude to Brionne, a Dukedom that spends its time on poetry. The Carasconnians like to listen to Brionnian minstrels when they have time, and those who can travel visit Brionne to see the wonders of the city. The Carasconnians are proud of these achievements because, they say, they fight to make such things possible. They fight so that the Brionnians do not have to, and they are proud of this."[11] The Verenans would empathize with this point of view, considering their own beliefs on justice and civilization.


I don't see the priests of Verena needing much incentive to give their support to the Grail Companions. Because "Verenans are almost universally wise"[12], I think they would see the many enemies plaguing the Bretonni tribes at that moment in time more important than what Goddess the Companions worshipped. Especially since this particular Goddess was considered as a patron saint of the Bretonni. Since there was no visible evidence of the newfound abilities of the Lady of the Lake, the Verenans could be forgiven for dismissing her power and influence.


Placating the forest

Now it's time to talk about Quenelles. I don't think I'll surprise anyone when I say that the Grail Companions would encounter the Church of Nature and Nurture here, since I've already said that this early Dukedom would be the most likely centre of this particular cult. But another thing to consider is the capital of the Dukedom. "The city of Quenelles sits right on the border of the Forest of Loren. Indeed, the walls do not guard the eastern edge of the city; instead, they run up to the trees and stop. A broad stone road runs along the border of the forest. This used to be the eastern wall, but it was cast down over a thousand years ago at the command of the Fay."[13] Since it lies right next to Athel Loren, the city would be the place where the bounties and dangers of nature, the Fay and the Wild Hunt would appear most often and thusly a major place of interest for the Church of Nature and Nurture. This would also mean that the resident priests of Taal and Rhya had ample chance to mingle with the ruling class of Quenelles, which might explain in part the urbanization of the cult. It also means that they would most likely help Lord Rademund the Pure when he and his army went to the aid of the Fay during Unification. Particularly when you consider that the Church of Nature and Nurture would consider the Forest of Loren as sacred because of its unpredictable inhabitants the Fay and its connections to the Wild Hunt. So the Grail Companions would meet the more prominent priests of the Church together with the rest of Rademund's army in the depths of the forest.


I think the priests of Taal and Rhya would be hostile to the Companions and the Goddess of Chivalry. The Church of Nature and Nurture would probably see the proclamation of a patron saint of the land as a new Goddess as a challenge to their authority, especially when the Grail Companions show their unearthly abilities. The priests would entreat the Lord of Quenelles to deny or to fight the Companions, saying that he only needed their Gods to defeat the rampaging Greenskins in the forest. But then the forest spirits of Athel Loren and the inhabiting Wood Elves appeared to aid the Grail Companions in battling the green hordes. The complaints about the Companions would suddenly ring hollow. Perhaps a priest or two tried to claim that this was a benediction of Taal and/or Rhya, only for a forest spirit or bow-wielding Elf to kill the overeager preacher. Rademund the Pure would most likely see the Fay's apparent approval of the Companions as validation, as a sign he should respect these knights. It would not be the first time he trusted otherworldly beings. "...indeed it is said that times long past, the first Duke, Rademund the Pure, befriended the [Fay], and could walk among them without fear."[14] Because of the Fay's acceptance, Rademund pledged his support to the Lady of the Lake when she came to him in his dreams.


The Fay's approval of the Grail Companions, and subsequently the denial of the Church of Nature and Nurture, is necessary in my mind. Because of their dominance among the Bretonni, the Church needed to be humbled before these nature lovers could accept another deity having a closer tie to Athel Loren and its inhabitants. Furthermore, it signifies to the rest of the Bretonni that the Lady of the Lake has more power than Taal and Rhya, and by implication the other Elder Gods. This act would be the groundwork for the worship of the Lady to become the new state cult.


I think we can skip the Dukedom of Parravon. There's little evidence that the Grail Companions would in this region chance upon a particular cult or creed which they couldn't see elsewhere and/or wouldn't come across somewhere else in greater force. Since Parravon was once controlled by the Empire (see the previous installment) one could make a case for Sigmar or another Imperial creed, but the early Dukedom's proximity to Athel Loren and the friendship between Lord Agilgar of Parravon and Glorfinial, Lord of the Pegasi, makes it unlikely that there would be a lasting Imperial influence on the region. You don't befriend a magical flying horse by being a pushover. The Parravonese simply don't seem the type to bow down to Imperial influences. "Many ordinary Bretonnians think that [the forest folk of Parravon are part Fay (which is nonsense) and that they have some sort of extraordinary sense for the hazards of the world around them (which is true). The forest folk move through the world as if they could be punished with death for scraping against a tree."[15]As such I think it's fair to say that the dominate cult in Parravon would be the Church of Taal and Rhya, and that after the battle in Athel Loren the Parravonese would take the Grail Companions at their word and the resident priests would follow suit.


Submitting the wolf

This brings us to the mountains of Montfort. I think this rockbound region would be the best place for the Ulricans to confront the Companions. Firstly Montfort is a good place for the leadership of the (Imperial) Cult of Ulric to be located. The region consists almost entirely of mountains, many of which are infested with monsters and Greenskins. "Greenskin attacks are a fact of life in Montfort. Almost everyone has some experience of fighting the Orcs and Goblins, and villages are built to be able to withstand an assault long enough for help to arrive."[16] Furthermore it shares a border with the Empire, which makes it easier for the Imperial creed to establish a foothold. The same could be said about the other three Dukedoms - Parravon, Gisoreux and Couronne - who border the Empire, but the Parravonese are too strange to control, Gisoreux is split into many isolated regions thanks to its labyrinth mountain ranges, and Couronne is the locale of the Cult of Shallya. Secondly, after the defeat of the Church of Nature and Nurture it makes sense that (priests of) one of the Elder Gods would confront the Grail Companions. With the Cult of Manann already on the side of the Companions, the Cult of Ulric remains. Thirdly it makes thematic sense. Let's not forget that Gilles was struck down in the battle for Montfort, and since Ulricans despise weakness they would pounce upon any possible failings they could see in the Companions and their strange Goddess.


The local high priest of Ulric would preach to anyone who would listen that Gilles' injury meant that the Gods did not favor him or his Lady of the Lake. The Grail Companions, their soldiers and the people of Montfort would begin to have doubts about their fate. But then the Lady of the Lake appeared to heal Gilles and bless Lord Martrud and Lord Agilgar, and restore her followers' faith in her. While the emboldened knights returned to the field of battle, she punishes the offending priest(s) of Ulric (for example, turning them into frogs). The remaining Ulricans would bow down to the strongest, as they always do, and aid the Grail Companions in the Unification of Bretonnia


Aside from the thematic spectacle (more on that later) and submitting the Bretonnian chapter of the Cult of Ulric, this further signifies the independence of the Bretonni. Much like Balduin tossing the priests of Myrmiddia out of his domain announces to everyone that the southerners have no claim on the Bretonni, the trashing of the (mostly Imperial) Ulricans says that the Imperials don't belong in Bretonnia. It's true that the Empire has other cults and creeds, most notably the Cult of Sigmar, but the Cult of Ulric would be the one with the most appeal and therefore influence on the Bretonni. Taking the Ulricans down to size would hinder any notions of the Empire controlling or conquering the Bretonni.


I'll have to skip a few early Dukedoms again. Aside from that only Morr and Shallya remain of the major influential deities of the Old World pantheon and there were still four Dukedoms - seven if we count the home grounds of Gilles, Landuin and Thierulf - who were plagued by monsters and misfortune, the Grail Companions had pretty much won over the country at this point. They had allies in the cults of the Elder Gods and Verena, more than half of the Bretonni tribes were behind them and both southern and Imperial influences had been defeated by the power of the Lady of the Lake. The remaining cults would probably not antagonize them unduly. The next stop for the Grail Companions was Gisoreux, which is a diverse region filled with peaks, valleys and more. "The Dukedom of Gisoreux is divided into four geographical areas. The first, the Plains of Gisoreux, is actually mostly pastoral country and very hilly. (...) The second area is North Gisoreux. This land, between the [major river] Sannex and the Pale Sisters [mountain range], is also mostly pastoral but has substantial arable portions along the course of the Sannez. (...) The third region is the Forest of Arden. (...) The final region of the Dukedom is covered by mountains, split between the Pale Sisters in the west and the Grey Mountains in the east."[17] With this in mind, I think the inhabitants would worship Taal, Rhya and/or Ulric. The clergy of these deities had already thrown in their lot with the Companions, so this region can be skipped. I have trouble getting a (religious) fix on Bastonne, but its major river which spans the north and east border could indicate the Cult of Manann or else the Church of Nature and Nurture as the prime movers and shakers. Anyway, since Gilles le Breton came from Bastonne and his crusade experienced success after success, I think the priests of this region wouldn't trouble the Companions. Especially since I mentioned earlier the Companions at best rode close to the border of Gilles' Dukedom on their way to Mousillon. This brings me to the next cult.


Laying the dead to rest

Since the Cult of Morr would have few temples in early Bretonnia and most of the priests roam the countryside, the question here is not where they would have their headquarters, but where the Grail Companions would meet a majority or most authoritative of the wandering priests of Morr in early Bretonnia. Considering that the God of the Dead and Dreams sends prophetic dreams to his followers, I think the Cult of Morr would concentrate their power on Mousillon because of the marauding legions of the walking dead in that region.


The priests would most likely greet the Companions with open arms. Either their God would have sent them a vision of Unification and the future of Bretonnia, or he wouldn't, in which case the priests of Morr would have had to admit that they didn't predict the coming of the Lady of the Lake and her Grail-supped followers. Revealing this to the public could have a disastrous effect on their reputation as diviners. Besides, with hordes of the Undead - and a few Beastmen - on the prowl and with the Cult of Morr having few dedicated soldiers and Templars, they would be fools to complain about a massive army willing to help them. However, I do see the priests demanding that Gilles and his drinking buddies swear that they would make sure that all dead Bretonni were buried, and ensure that they stay buried. After the Grail Companions made this vow, they got the full support of the Cult of Morr.


While I've already discussed how the Bretonni would pay little mind to the God of the Death and Dreams and his priests are (for the most part) apolitical, I do believe the cult would have doubts about their future. At that point in time the countryside was teeming with monsters and witches killing people by the thousands and destroying whole regions. Despite their prophetic visions - or maybe even because of it, since they could conceivably receive dreams of every doom in the land - the priesthood could easily fall in a state of despair. But then the Grail Companions came along, with enough warriors and powerful knights to sweep away the foes threatening both the living and the dead Bretonni. Their salvation at hand, the priests of Morr would do everything in their power to ensure that the dead are sent to the afterlife and stay there.


The remaining stops on the Unification tour were Artois, L'Anguille and Couronne (the Companions at most skirted the borders of Lyonesse). Both Lyonesse and L'Anguille are mostly bordered by water[18] and Artois is heavily forested. "The land of Artois is dominated by the dense and mysterious Forest of Arden."[19] The Church of Nature and Nurture and/or the Cult of Manann would most likely reign supreme in those early Dukedoms, which were already aligned with the Grail Companions at this point. This leaves us with Couronne, which was already established as the center for the Cult of Shallya.


Last Updated ( Tuesday, 04 February 2014 )
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