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Tulune

[The Barony of Tulune]

Unlike with some other realms of the region, the first record of Tulune does not come from the Book of Life. At the time of the Nordic occupation, there was no such village, nor would there be for the duration of the First Empire’s stay. First records from the general region that is known today as the barony of Tulune date back to the time of the Direnni, but it does not concern any settlements, at least ones there – some of the first records from Daggerfall note that Raven Direnni ordered some slaves from the land north of the town to be settled in the immediate surrounding area of Daggerfall, as a gift and aid to her appointed mage-lord.

Tulune is, in fact, a town that can boast a more Bretic history than the majority of its neighbours. After fading back into obscurity following its brief mention, the future barony once again resurfaces when a local mage-lord swears loyalty to King Thagore following his victory over Glenpoint. Following this, more and more of contemporary Tulune would fall under its powerful southern neighbour, though it wasn’t to be the final extent of Daggerfall’s expansion as its chevaliers carried the banners of their king to Glenumbra as well.

The present-day capital of the barony was established some fifty years after Daggerfall first established a foothold in the land, being a small village artificially pieced together from surrounding free farmers for the benefit of a Daggerfallian chevalier. A significant detail of Tulune’s history, this would set the trend of the barony’s fate being influenced greatly by its powerful southern neighbour – something to be expected, given the weight carried by such a mighty presence. As an aside, this is also the first mention of serfdom in Tulune – the freemen whose humble dwellings were nonchalantly moved to create a village fitting the views of the nobles back in Daggerfall were, as is to be expected, bound to the land and turned over to the service of this chevalier (whose name has long since been forgotten, although legend would have us believe that he was of the Tulune family – hence the current name of both the capital and the barony; most historians will point out that ‘Tulune’ is modern Bretic and unlikely to be an ancient family name, instead explaining the name to be a modernized form of Telwen, which is how Tetwen is sometimes spelled in Daggerfall’s chronicles).

The fortunes of the chevalier line that Tulune was granted to would not go on to improve substantially – there are occasional mentions of men from that region being present in the king’s host along with their ruler, so the bloodline never became important enough to attain exemption from direct war service as many of the Daggerfallian magnates did. There are also no records of notable amounts of land being added to their holdings, with most of contemporary Tulune being divided between other similar military aristocrats, with the occasional plot owned by a greater noble residing in the heartland of the kingdom.

Such a state of affairs would continue for quite a while, although there are signs of local nobility gaining influence – one sir Eithar, a chevalier of Daggerfall hailing from the north-west of modern-day Tulune, can be found in the royal records after marking himself as ‘a man of extraordinary skill and valour’, being granted the lands of his neighbour (fallen in the same siege, apparently, and with no male heirs) afterwards for some or other deed that goes unspecified. Eithar proves to be a recurring character in Tulune’s tale, noted once again some years after the siege of Orsinium for gaining more land through marriage with a neighbouring chevalier’s daughter, gaining a village and the surrounding lands as dowry. The chevalier’s son would go on to swear fealty to Eithar yet more years later, making the upstart noble the first local noble from Tulune of some calibre (relatively speaking, for the oath of one chevalier does not a magnate make).

Though Eithar himself died a bit more than a year after the oath of fealty, his line went on to survive and prosper to some degree, striking out on their own during the tumultuous period known in Daggerfall as the Nobles’ War. It was precisely this family, with twenty chevaliers and their troops under them that represented the strongest claim to an independent Tulune; a laughable army perhaps this may seem, but one must remember that this was a time when Daggerfall itself was a city with only some twenty thousand inhabitants, while the surrounding countryside was sparsely populated, with large tracks of forest or unused land being present where today we might find arable land or hamlets. Coupled with the chaotic conflict that raged in the south, this meant that Eithar’s heir, Widrun, could break off from Daggerfall with little fear of retribution, joining the ranks of rebellious nobles that were already quite successfully combating Daggerfallian garrisons further north, in Glenumbra Moors.

The exact details of how Tulune gained independence are unknown, however it is quite clear that it was this same Widrun who first brought independence to the future capital of the barony, apparently managing to convince the few troops left to defend the town (which had grown somewhat since its founding, becoming the largest settlement in the otherwise very rural land that would later take its name from it) to join his rebellion. We might consider Widrun the forefather of the modern barony of Tulune, then, were it not for the fact he was quickly forced to abandon the town when a Daggerfallian magnate turned his troops on it. The settlement was brutally sacked – another addition to the already long list of places that suffered such a fate thanks to conquering chevaliers from Daggerfall – and a magistrate loyal to the kingdom (or at least the noble who ran Widrun out of it) was reinstated. That this magistrate ran the town for a grand total of thirty days is a good indication of how quickly things changed during those violent days.

Tulune would change hands many times during the Nobles’ War, being occupied by the forces of different magnates from northern Daggerfall, with the occasional local noble claiming it to add some variety, only to be forced to retreat in a manner all too similar to Widrun when more powerful forces took an active interest in the place. In the end, it was a coalition of local nobles – Widrun’s second son among them, having apparently overthrown his father and his elder brother both – who managed to get their hands on Tulune for any longer amount of time, not least because they also managed to curry the favour of a Daggerfallian magnate from further south, who had an interest in seeing that his rivals from that area did not get too powerful. Unfortunately, by then the town was thoroughly sacked several times and there didn’t seem to be much there save for the castle – the prime reason for all the interest the place received – and a handful of families who eked out a living (barely) in the war that raged around them.

The early treacherous tendencies displayed by Widrun’s second son, Tetwen, would prove to be indicative of the course he’d take when faced with the situation of sharing power with several of his peers. Marrying the daughter of one of his temporary allies, he used their combined resources to sway some of the nobles to their cause, securing their loyalty either to him and his father-in-law both, or, much less openly, to himself alone. Others were openly disposed of, finally his wife died in an accident that goes unrecorded and Tetwen turned on his previous ally, killing both him and his supporters. With a handful of nobles behind him, he proclaimed himself baron and married for a second time in the span of three years, this time to the sister of an influential Daggerfallian noble, securing for himself a strong ally outside of Tulune.

Unlike the fate one might expect for a man with Tetwen’s methods, the first baron of Tulune went on to lead a long life, successfully uniting quite a bit of land surrounding the ruined township and reinvigorating the settlement itself through increased relationships with Daggerfall, although he did lose his family’s lands in the north, sacrificing them to appease several noblemen in the region who posed a threat to his ambitions in the south. Tetwen’s marriage to a Daggerfallian set the precedent of the kingdom’s society heavily influencing the court of the baron, as his wife would turn out to be a patron of various arts, bringing Daggerfallian culture to the capital, along with providing a counterweight to the baron’s influence by acting as a sort of an agent for her brother.

Tulune’s close relations with Daggerfall did not spare it from an attempt at reconquest after the conclusion of the Nobles’ War, however it seems Tetwen’s son was able to successfully ward off the invasion – the fact the Thrassian Plague broke out soon after the war started undoubtedly contributed greatly to this. However, though the plague spared Tulune from the ravages of a full-scale conflict with its unquestionably much more powerful southern neighbour, it also brought about death of a stunning magnitude, leaving the land with only a third of its previous population and nearly delivering the death blow to the upstart barony after claiming the baron’s life. Thankfully for Tulune, his infant son survived and managed to wrestle control back from the nobility who acted as regents until he reached adulthood. The regency had taken the liberty of expanding the realm through marriages with what independent noble bloodlines had survived the plague, while upon coming to power the new baron also employed more militant means, for the first time giving the barony access to the sea.

The nobles’ diplomatic expansion would prove to have a very detrimental effect on the authority of the baron, however. Lands incorporated into Tulune through their relations with its nobility rather than loyalty to the baron, the inhabitants of these lands would never come to place the baron before the nobles, giving them a good position from which to challenge their sovereign’s authority. Following Tetwen’s lead, many nobles also sought to become related to Daggerfallian nobility, seeing them as a means to give them an edge in Tulune; in the end this would lead to some nobles outright swearing fealty to their more powerful counterparts in Daggerfall, eventually leading to the situation that the barony is in now – it fought off the half-hearted attempt to return it to Daggerfall’s rule by force only to hand itself over to the kingdom some time later.

By now, the baron is not a position of much influence in Tulune, even if he is the nominal ruler of the land and the nobility pay him lip service – most of the time. In the past, whenever there was a weaker baron the nobility seized the opportunity to gain more influence; sometimes they did not shy even from openly claiming the baron’s lands or luring away his chevaliers. The result of this is that by now, the supposed sovereign of the barony holds slightly more land than the average nobleman of his realm, with a matching number of knights answering his call.

An overwhelming majority of Tulune’s nobles are related in one way or another to Daggerfallian families, with quite a few having openly sworn fealty to these ‘foreign’ nobles (although one cannot truly call Tulune and Daggerfall different countries, so intertwined they are). Most of the chevaliers in the barony’s south answer directly to nobles across the border, while their peers in other parts of the country often do the same through a local sovereign of theirs, the end result being the same – any baron who wished to resist Daggerfall militarily would find himself with no army for the task. There certainly have been many occasions in the past when the ruler of Tulune wished to gather a host for some or other matter, only to find that many knights were campaigning under Daggerfall’s banners somewhere. Tulunese soldiers are an everyday sight whenever the kingdom marches to war, sometimes even taking part in parades or royal inspections.

Much of what can be found in Daggerfall will also be seen in Tulune. Serfdom is widespread, with nobles being free to abuse their peasants however they wish – the serfs of Tulune lack even the theoretical right of their peers in Daggerfall to submit a complaint. The citizens of the capital are not much better off; while they are free men, many have to seek patrons among the nobility to get anywhere in life, with only a few seeking for protection from the barons. Theoretically, the assembly of the realm is the estates-general of Tulune, but it hasn’t been called since early second era and it can be presumed most people have simply forgotten such a gathering even exists and even if the baron were to call one, he’d probably find most of his nobles were already preoccupied attending the estates-general of Daggerfall.

Of note is the fact that in Tulune, chevaliers hold quite a bit more power in their hands than their southern peers. Often having the liberty to pick their masters instead of seeking service wherever they are able, the knights of the barony often work to accomplish their own goals rather than those of their patrons. This independence, however, provokes quite frequent infighting, whether it arises from the knights’ own devices or is a mirror of their distant Daggerfallian patrons’ designs. This is perhaps what contributes most to making Tulunese knights infamous for their lack of discipline on the battlefield, acting with little regard to the plans of their commander or sometimes even refusing to fight alongside one another; this is in sharp contrast to their southern peers – while Daggerfall’s chevaliers might be widely known for the atrocities they commit in occupied lands or settlements, in battle they are a force to be reckoned with.

Taking into account the enormous influence the kingdom has over Tulune, it is not at all surprising that the defining aspect of Daggerfall, the grand game, can also be found in the barony, and not as a different struggle taking on similar forms, but an extension of the powerplay that is a daily occurrence in the south. Scoff as they might at their northern neighbours, the magnates of Daggerfall do value influence in the barony quite a bit as a sign of status, meaning they are all too eager to have their Tulunese vassals act on their behalf in a manner not too dissimilar to what goes on in the kingdom – although many a Daggerfallian noble will say that the Tulunese lack finesse or a true ‘spirit’ for the grand game.