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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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Accepting the olive branch

I don't think the Companions would have to go to much effort to win over the Shallyans to their cause. All the Bretonni tribes had encountered disaster after disaster, the city of Couronne was attacked from all sides by hostile armies and the ruler of Couronne was dead, apparently leaving no successors. Combine this with the apolitical and pacifist nature of the Cult of Shallya and the fact that by then all the other tribes and cults were united, and it's difficult to come up with reasons why the Shallyans would oppose them. In fact, the death of the ruler of Couronne seems more like a reason to support the Companions, since the people would need a leader during this crisis. It certainly explains why Caerleond was so readily accepted as the new lord and master of Couronne. I do think that the Shallyans would require a promise of them. Just like the Companions promised the Cult of Morr that they would protect the dead, the Shallyans would demand that they vow to protect the living. They would want that Gilles and his drinking buddies accomplished something more than just killing hordes of Greenskins, Beastmen, Chaos-worshippers and other monsters.


The end result of all this was that the Shallyans supported Gilles le Breton as the absolute King of Bretonnia. Following Gilles' vow to the Shallyans and his own devotion to the Lady, the King established a council of religion - let's call this the Council of Couronne, after the city it was established in - consisting of the leaders of the seven major cults. These would advise the King, support his edicts and acknowledge that the Lady of the Lake was theGoddess of Bretonnia, with the Old World Gods beneath her in the heavenly hierarchy. In return the cults would receive protection, funding and recognition from the kingdom.


While acknowledging the Goddess of Chivalry as superior to their own Gods seems like a difficult pill to swallow, I do think it would be an acceptable sacrifice to the cults. Aside from the Lady of the Lake's status as a patron saint prior to Unification, she didn't have any organization or priests at that point. It was only when Gilles died that the Fay Enchantress appeared and the concept of questing for the Grail was established. The priests would have to give up next to no power; they would just have to swallow their pride. Since the Grail Companions had basically saved the country singlehandedly and ensured the safety of its populace - and their priests - thereafter, that seems like a small price to pay to me. Of course, the price tag would chance once the Fay Enchantress and her Damsels and Grail Knights appeared, but I will discuss that in the next installment of this series.


History as the Bretonnians imagine it

There are a few Gods - and their cults - that I haven't discussed yet, but could still play a part in Unification. For example, a priest of Ranald could come to the Companions with important information on the enemy of the moment. Unable to trick the enemy, the trickster had no other choice but to pass on what he knew to the real warriors. Or perhaps the Norscan-inspired Ulricans witness the atrocities committed by Norse marauders at L'Anguille, and swear off their more brutal practices when they witness the bravery of the honourable Marcus in facing the barbarian warlord Svengar in single combat atop the lighthouse. Another possibility is the Cult of Sigmar appearing at the weeks-long battle for Couronne, in an attempt to conquer the region for the Empire. The hammer-priests who would take advantage of the Bretonni's plight were eventually defeated by the honorable Grail Companions.


Something I hope got across in the preceding paragraph or earlier in this article, is that Gilles and his drinking buddies either charm or humiliate the priests by showing that the Companions have more divine favour and/or are more capable than them. The Grail Companions, and by extension the Lady of the Lake, do more than just persuade those of other faiths to their cause; they prove that their holy warriors and Goddess are better than their cults and deities. This is both beneficial for making the Lady of the Lake and her followers the absolute rulers of Bretonnia, and appropriate for the mindset of Bretonnians. To me, a major part of Bretonnia is that its populace - both the nobility and the peasantry - want to believe in their heroes. "Individual heroism is very important to the Bretonnian knight, and tales of paladins fighting dragons and heroes facing off against countless foes are the kind of things they dream of. (...) However [peasants] have feudal obligations to their knightly lord and hold knights in the highest admiration - basically, if a knight says jump, a peasant will ask into what mud. (...) I cannot imagine a bunch of knights that didn't have a guy at the front declaring challenges, which was my thinking behind that - especially since the Bretonnians live for the stories of heroic individuals doing heroic deeds."[20] In my opinion, the Bretonnians want to believe that their knights, their champions, are capable of anything. "Weaned from a young age on these stories of individual heroism and bravery, it is every knight's utmost desire to have great deeds of their own to be sung and recounted for years after their deaths."[21] They want every villain to be despicable, every disaster a challenge for a hero, every event an exciting tale of suspense, romance or another genre. "The cynical say Bretonnia wears a fair mask over deep corruption; the more generous lament the gap often found between its ideals and reality. (...) Worse, the Bretonnians love tragic stories of knights who caught between their loyalties to two different lords, had no way to act correctly, and thus died tragically trying to do the impossible. Some knights even maneuvre themselves into starring roles in such stories."[22] They would want to believe that when the cults of the Old World Gods allied themselves to the Grail Companions, this was done in a spectacular fashion, with the Companions as the honorable and wise heroes, and the priests as scheming tyrants or humble supplicants. The events I described in this article might not have happened in this particular way, but it wouldn't stop the Bretonnians from accepting these stories as history.


That about sums up what I intended with this particular article. In the next instalment I will talk about the new structure of the cults in Bretonnia, from the courtly cardinals to the wandering friars. I will also discuss what role these priests play in the lives of Bretonnians.



[1] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (Games Workshop, 1996), page 10-12

[2] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (Games Workshop, 2003), page 6-15, 32, 33, 58 & 59

[3] Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (Black Industries, 2005), page 223 & 224

[4] Knights of the Grail (Black Industries, 2006), page 14-19

[5] Knights of the Grail, page 58

[6] Tome of Salvation (Black Industries, 2007), page 32

[7] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (2003), page 7, 15 & 62

[8] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (2003), page 59

[9] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (2003), page 58

[10] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (2003), page 58

[11] Knights of the Grail, page 64

[12] Tome of Salvation, page 72

[13] Knights of the Grail, page 91

[14] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (2003), page 15

[15] Knights of the Grail, page 85

[16] Knights of the Grail, page 78

[17] Knights of the Grail, page 71

[18] Knights of the Grail, page 8

[19] Knights of the Grail, page 51

[20] UK White Dwarf 290, page 29, 31 & 32

[21] Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (2003), page 46

[22] Knights of the Grail, page 6, 102 & 103



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