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Crest for Glennpoint

[The Barony of Glenpoint]

At the time of its first mention in the Book of Life, the modern-day capital of the barony of Glenpoint was little more than a small stop along the well-travelled slave-trading path leading to the great market at Glenumbra. It could boast less than a hundred permanent inhabitants, many of which made a living selling their wares (mostly food grown) to the passing slave drivers. The Nords note something that makes this particular caravan stop stand out, however – there was apparently a prominent family that dominated this stop, the first known instance of native aristocrats of a sort. This family, the only known of its sort in High Rock at the time as far as we can tell with our limited sources, handled most of the direct dealings with the passing merchants, on some occasions managing to exchange their wares for slaves. This gave them greater production power, allowing them in turn to tend to more land, thus producing more food and leading to more slaves.

Due to the tiny size of the settlement at the time and the developments afterwards, the history of Glenpoint becomes the history of this prominent family, the Morwigs. They are noted in the consensus to be ‘allies of our king’; siding with the triumphing Nords was undoubtedly a manoeuvre done in order to retain their special position. The decline of Glenumbra’s importance as well as its loss of a mercantile function meant that proto-Glenpoint also lost its main traditional source of income, however it did not shrink – instead of the peasants abandoning it for greener pastures when it became difficult to sustain themselves, they turned to the Morwig family for support, which soon translated into direct control over the whole settlement.

Trade in the interior of High Rock was very difficult and dangerous at the time. The vast majority of the land was untamed, settlements being few, far in-between and very small; thick forests slowed movement, though not as much as the complete lack of any proper roads (except for in the east, where Nords improved traditional paths slightly, just enough so that they didn’t become flooded messes during rainy autumn or didn’t disappear altogether during the winter). It was a high risk-low reward business, thus transporting food, slaves or anything from even a neighbouring village was more often than not outside the reach of commoners, so being self-sufficient was crucial for a household, since you could only hope for aid from your neighbours in worse times. The presence of a richer family, however, changed that; with their resources, the Morwigs could purchase slaves and transport them to their holdings, at first for their own needs and later – to trade to their neighbours, more often than not for their freedom.

Like future Bretic nobility, the Morwigs proved well capable of surviving shifts in the greater power of the region. When the Direnni began driving the Nords out, they were very quick to become vocal Elven supporters, even if battles passed their land by (for which the head of the household at the time was undoubtedly thankful). Apparently, they recognized the value of having local supporters, even if they weren’t entirely reliable in times of crisis; this the Elves would display later when they turned to the locals for aid in governing the lower levels of their expanding empire, teaching arcane skills to trusted families in return for them keeping their assigned lands in line. The Morwig family, quite unsurprisingly, became one such mage-lord bloodline, in fact one of the few of which we have records before they became magocrats.

Despite their rather extraordinary position, the Morwigs would not go on to achieve anything else of note during the period of Direnni rule; they resurface only some time later during their conquest of Glenumbra at an ill-defined time (understandable, given that our main knowledge of this event comes from a local legend). Apparently, rulership over the town was to be decided in an arcane duel, which the mage-lord of Glenpoint won, killing his Glenumbrian opposite. With rule over the previous slave market came the self-proclamation of kingship, as the Morwigs apparently felt secure enough to make such grand claims of dominance in the region. They would go on to prove that they had the strength to back the title up, leading their realm to become a regional power that had only one true rival, Daggerfall.
Notably, unlike in Daggerfall, where the process of granting land and slaves to trusted men in exchange for them serving as a more reliable military force had already begun, in Glenpoint it had not. The Morwig kings kept a tighter grip over their realm, every man being considered their client. The practice of slavery, which had allowed the family to ascend to the position they had, did not decline as it had in its southern rival; indeed, the vast majority of people at the time were apparently slaves. Those who were not usually served their kings in keeping the realm in check, in exchange being let in on arcane secrets – Glenpoint borrowed its model from that of the Direnni. A crucial thing to note was that the Morwigs created new mage-lord lines, as opposed to incorporating existing arcane bloodlines into their realm as would much later happen in Shalgora.

While following the Direnni model proved successful enough when facing off against tiny realms that lacked their resources or hold over the population, it would fall short of Daggerfall. Much like many armed forces in High Rock, Glenpoint’s army hinged mostly on the performance of its mage-lords; while the slave levy of the Morwig king was, apparently, more numerous, in a pitched battle the arcane abilities of the monarch alone could not outweigh the experienced and reliable landed warrior core of Daggerfall’s army, resulting in a catastrophic defeat and the death of Glenpoint’s king. The death of the ruler and a portion of his closest mage-lords resulted in a vacuum of power, with his heir – now king – being barely an adult and not quite ready to deal with troubles of this magnitude.

The fate of the kingdom of Glenpoint was quite similar to that of the Direnni Empire after which it tried to model itself – the remaining mage-lords split off; a handful turned to Daggerfall, however the majority became independent rulers. A short-lived coalition of these previous clients of the Morwig monarch was quite successful in warding off attempts by the young king to bring them back in line, even though it fell apart before capitalising on defensive victories. The end result of this brief conflict was that, while not entirely broken, Glenpoint lost the majority of its former power and was in no position to oppose Daggerfall any longer. The Morwig line itself would not last much longer – the new king would not go on to father any suitable heirs, his only son suffering from a mental condition which left him very much incapable of ruling the land. After the death of his father, he would become king, however shortly afterwards disappeared from the pages of history. His supposed advisor, one of the few mage-lords still answering to the king of Glenpoint, became the de facto ruler of the realm, although neither he nor his future heirs would lay claim to the title of king, instead calling themselves barons to attract less attention from Daggerfall – a title that remains to this day.

With the fading of the Morwigs, Glenpoint ceased to be anything extraordinary; the only thing of note about it was that it managed to remain independent of Daggerfall in spite of being seen as an ‘ancient enemy’ in the kingdom and harbouring much anti-Daggerfallian sentiments. Parts of modern-day Glenpoint fell under the southern kings, while the whole east was divided between minor mage-lords, tracing their arcane knowledge back to the Direnni or Glenpoint. Glenpoint itself, while a shadow of what it used to be, remained quite strong by High Rock’s standards of the time – certainly the barony was stronger than any individual mage-lord realm, even if it wasn’t powerful enough to threaten a coalition of them (and such were usually formed whenever the barons threatened to spread their wings). The proximity of Daggerfall also played a part in limiting the realm’s ambitions, as an aggressive policy risked attracting its attention – attention that Glenpoint would not survive.

In spite of these limiting factors, the barons of Glenpoint were always attempting to strengthen their realm. Widespread slavery such as practiced during the times of the kingdom fell out early during the time of the barons; instead, they followed the example set by Daggerfall, land grants becoming more frequent over the years. Since their predecessors had enjoyed a quite tight grip over the populace at wide, however, the barons did not leave the inhabitants of these lands granted to their followers entirely to their new rulers. Instead, a partial freeman status was established for many – while they were tied to their land and could not move anywhere without their lord’s express permission, their duties to them were not as abusive as in Daggerfall. More than that, they still had the chance to compete for their overarching sovereign’s favour and be awarded by him for notable military service, thus retaining some ties to the ruler of Glenpoint, something that did not happen in its southern neighbour or the countries that were influenced by it.

Eventually, the collapse of Daggerfall’s power would allow the barons of Glenpoint some breathing space. In the years after the Nobles’ War, they would go on to wage several wars against various coalitions of mage-lords in the east and south, some successful, others not so much. Several border disputes between them and the nearby barony of Glenumbra would, shortly after the Thrassian Plague swept over the west, escalate into a brief war. Though Glenumbra made some minor gains, however, they were reversed just some ten years later; conflicts of various intensity would plague the border between the two baronies for many ages yet, however, eventually the border settling down around where it is today during the late Second Era.

Much like all Bretic realms to have survived until the present day, Glenpoint exploited the disastrous effects of the Plague; though its own ruling line just barely survived, a baron and two of his three sons succumbing to the terrible illness, the middle son who survived proved capable enough to take advantage of similar lineal disasters in neighbouring petty realms. These gains would eventually allow Glenpoint to pursue further war against its smaller neighbours, provoking a large number of mage-lords to form a coalition only to be decisively defeated and, one by one, incorporated into the barony. Expansion south was, of course, always checked by the presence of Daggerfall; in fact, several conflicts would ensue between the barony and the kingdom, though never to escalate into a larger war between the two – mostly because Glenpoint would eventually back down, only to resume its expansion against the minor buffer realms between it and Daggerfall whenever the kingdom was tied down in its endless conflicts against Wayrest.

Modern-day Glenpoint retains its ancient capital and position as a barony. Unlike other smaller realms in western High Rock, it is not on good terms with Daggerfall, courtesy of their history; the barons still harbour animosity towards their southern neighbour, while in Daggerfall Glenpoint is remember as an ‘ancient enemy’, when it is remembered at all, as both the king and his magnates are usually focused on either their internal powerplay or the struggle against Wayrest; considering that Tulune is more of an extension of Daggerfall than a separate realm, matters are not much better there and ignoring one another seems to be the norm between these two baronies. Relationships with Glenumbra remain cold, thanks to cross-border raids and sometimes even low-scale warfare between separate nobles being the norm.

While over the years Glenpoint became quite similar to its neighbouring, Daggerfall-influenced realms, some differences still remain – in most places. Along the southern border, however, as well as part of the western one, one can find minor nobility similar to that in the neighbouring countries – they have nigh-unlimited control over their subjects. They are, quite simply, Daggerfallian-model chevaliers – in exchange for maintaining their ancient rights, they march to war when the baron has need of them, or at least in theory. In practice, over the three centuries of the First Era when they were part of Daggerfall, these noble bloodlines formed quite strong ties with the nobles of Glenpoint’s neighbouring lands. During their years of independence from any of the greater powers of western High Rock, these bonds only strengthened; by now, they are so tangled up with their neighbours (mostly Daggerfallian magnates) that any attempt to remove them might well result in a war breaking out.

These border nobles are notoriously unreliable and the source of no end of trouble for the rulers of all realms involved, since, seeing as they consider themselves more or less untouchable and realise full well what a troubling matter they are, they often change sides in conflicts or simply raid either side of the border, regardless of who the land belongs to. While technically answering to the baron of Glenpoint, many have lands that cross over the border into Daggerfall or Tulune and answer to more than one master. So long as their rule over their lands and the people residing in them is unchallenged, they care very little for matters of politics above the local level, much preferring to simply squabble among themselves instead of march under the banners of any lord or baron; the conflicts between these bloodlines should not fool an outsider, however, as, should they feel threatened, the borderers won’t hesitate to put aside their differences and resist in whatever way they can.

Beyond these troublesome border regions, however, the order of things in Glenpoint is rather different. The baron sits above all, obviously being the ruler of the realm and at the head of the March – the political assembly of the barony, taking its name from the fact that in the past, army musters used to serve a similar purpose. Unlike in most of western High Rock, this assembly is not dominated entirely by the nobility, since the practise of partial freedoms has not fallen out in Glenpoint. Thus, since the majority of the rural population in the east and the centre of the realm tends to fall into this ‘partially free’ category and they are represented in the March, they provide something of a counter to the nobles. They far from outweigh them entirely, however.

These partial freemen make the nobility of Glenpoint a somewhat confusing matter, however. The nobles are relegated control over their land by baronial authority and while most of the time they are free to relegate it further to minor nobles who would serve as knights, the baron partially sidesteps the usual vertical system of relationships that results from this system by being free to intervene and award land to a freeman for remarkable service, and with land – assign to his service other partially free men. This results in small bits of land answering directly to the baron being interspersed in nobles’ holdings, as well as the aforementioned confusion – while for every intent and purpose, these freemen might seem the equal of nobles and they answer directly to the baron in times of war (the most obvious opportunity to show your loyalties in a Bretic realm), they are, in fact, still under the noble that they used to serve and not actually nobles themselves. Sometimes, it is easy to tell these ‘upper freemen’ apart from the traditional nobility, however in other cases they are virtually indistinguishable from knights.

The baron’s freemen (as they are usually called) are not as numerous as the nobility, however, so the traditional Bretic knight still exists in High Rock. Unlike the freemen (for whom a horse is not a necessary requirement, only armour), they are required to turn up mounted and well armoured, same as their peers in other realms. Quite a few answer directly to the baron, holding land in the east where the majority of baronial lands are found, wedged in-between the lands of greater nobles. These greater nobles generally do not have a need for a great number of chevaliers to help rule over their lands, since their holdings are usually not that large. Knights answering to various bloodlines apart from the baron’s own still form a substantial part of Glenpoint’s host, however, which means that if they wished to, the nobility of the barony would be able to oppose the baron’s will to some extent. Unlike in some other realms, though, in Glenpoint the norm is both sides avoiding conflict. The baron is wary of aggravating his vassals, who in turn are none too eager to challenge his authority openly since the loyalties of their own subordinates are not assured.