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Map of the Eleven Kingdoms, including Gwynedd
|Deryni novels location|
|Other name(s)||Kingdom of Gwynedd|
|Created by||Katherine Kurtz|
|Notable locations||Rhemuth (capital)|
There was an actual historical Kingdom of Gwynedd, an important part of Wales with a long history of its own. The fictional kingdom is in no way identical to it; still, it was clearly the writer's conscious decision to use the name of an actual kingdom, rather than invent a fictional name.
- 1 Geography
- 2 Cities
- 3 Government
- 4 Heraldry
- 5 Religion
- 6 History
- 7 Kings of Gwynedd
- 8 Sources
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Gwynedd is located near the center of the area known as the Eleven Kingdoms. It is bordered to the north by the Kheldish Riding, by Torenth to the east, by the Southern Sea to the south, and by Meara, The Connait, and the United Kingdoms of Howicce and Llannedd to the southwest and west. The exact borders of the kingdom have fluctuated greatly over its four centuries of history, expanding and contracting as the result of wars, conquest, treaties, and marriages. Nonetheless, Gwynedd has steadily increased in size over the years, eventually becoming one of the largest realms in the Eleven Kingdoms. The capital city of Rhemuth is located on the eastern bank of the River Eirian, which flows through the west-central plains of the kingdom. The geography of Gwynedd contains a wide variety of climates and terrains, including plains, farmlands, forests, hills, and mountains. The summers are usually moderately warm, while snow is common throughout most of the kingdom in the winter.
Rhemuth is the capital city of Gwynedd. Known as "Rhemuth the Beautiful", it is located on the eastern bank of the Eirian River in west-central Gwynedd. The foundation of the city pre-dates the Byzantyun conquest of the third century, but it first comes under Gwyneddan control in 655. In 674, King Aidan Haldane moves the capital of his kingdom from Valoret to Rhemuth, where it remains until the Festillic Coup of 822. Rhemuth suffers from declining prestige and population during the Festillic Interregnum, but it is rebuilt following the Haldane Restoration of 904. The royal court returns to Rhemuth in 917, where it has remained for over two centuries, and Rhemuth has flourished as one of the largest and most prestigious cities in the Eleven Kingdoms. Rhemuth is also the location of Gwynedd's secondary archbishopric.
Valoret is located on the southern bank of the Eirian River in the western foothills of the Lendour Mountains in central Gwynedd. Valoret's All Saints' Cathedral is the residence of the Primate of Gwynedd, the senior clergyman of the Holy Church, and the city itself is central location of Gwynedd's senior archbishopric. It is also the original home of the House of Haldane, which conquered Valoret and its surrounding lands in 411. Valoret is the original capital of the Kingdom of Gwynedd when it was founded in 645, but King Aidan Haldane moved the royal court to Rhemuth in 674. King Festil I Furstán moved the capital back to Valoret in 822, but it returned to Rhemuth less than a century later, following the Haldane Restoration. Nonetheless, Valoret remains one of the largest and oldest cities in the Eleven Kingdoms, and its ecclesiastical influence in Gwynedd is unmatched.
Grecotha is located on the border of Gwynedd and Kheldour, northwest of the city of Valoret. Originally a free city, it was conquered and incorporated into Gwynedd by King Aidan Haldane in 678. Over the centuries, Grecotha served as the home of several of the greatest learning institutions in the Eleven Kingdoms, including the Varnarite School and the University of Grecotha. The Battle of Grecotha in 984 was the turning point in the Torenthi-Gwyneddan war, with King Jasher Haldane soundly defeating the invading Torenthi forces. Grecotha is also the center of one of the oldest dioceses in Gwynedd, giving the ancient city a great deal of both scholarly and ecclesiastical importance.
Dhassa lies directly east of Rhemuth, located on the northwestern shore of Lake Jashan in the Lendour Mountains. It is one of the most religious cities in Gwynedd, with an unbroken string of bishops ruling the city since before the foundation of the kingdom itself. Dhassa became a sovereign city in 597, its independence secured by the presence of Gwynedd on one side and Mooryn on the other. However, Mooryn became a part of Gwynedd in 835, leading to Dhassa's eventual inclusion in Gwynedd in 903. The Bishops of Dhassa traditionally maintain a neutral stance on most political issues, earning them a reputation of fairness and equality that has provided them with significant influence in matters of both church and state. Due to its central location, Dhassa is often a convenient location for gatherings of the Curia of Bishops.
The Kingdom of Gwynedd is a feudal monarchy, similar in structure to the kingdoms of medieval Europe. The head of state is a hereditary monarch which descends through the senior male line of the royal family. (The throne may only pass to a woman if the direct male line becomes extinct, at which point the senior female descendant inherits the crown.) Much of Gwynedd is divided into several duchies, each of which is further divided into a numerous earldoms, baronies, and counties. The titles of the nobility are also based on hereditary inheritance, but the monarch reserves the authority to change the standard rights of inheritance under certain circumstances (such as attainting the family of a convicted traitor). Additionally, the monarch has the power to create new nobles and new titles when necessary. The monarch has nearly-absolute authority in all secular matters throughout the realm, and each noble wields significant power within their own lands. While the nobles have the authority and responsibility to deal with matters such as taxation, law enforcement, and civil disputes, there are also many commoners who hold lower-ranking official positions such as clerks, guards, tax collectors, and legal advocates.
The governing body of the realm is the Royal Council, alternately known as the Privy Council or High Council. The Council advises the monarch (or the designated Regent) on various matters of state, assisting the monarch in establishing new laws and carrying out the monarch's decisions. The monarch may appoint anybody to the Council, but positions are usually reserved for senior nobles, churchmen, and the monarch's closest advisors. The monarch (or Regent) always sits upon the Council, and positions are customarily reserved for the Archbishop of Valoret, the Archbishop of Rhemuth, and the legally-designated Regents of Gwynedd.
In military matters, each member of the peerage maintains their own levies to protect and defend their lands. Most nobles retain a military rank (ranging from a simple knight to a general), but the monarch retains supreme authority over all garrisons and soldiers in the kingdom. In addition, a standing royal army under the direct command of the crown is garrisoned around the capital city of Rhemuth. The senior military officer of the kingdom is the Earl Marshall, whose authority in military matters is superseded only by the monarch.
The Holy Church of Gwynedd is a Christian faith similar to the Roman Catholic Church, including the celebration of Mass, usually in Latin, and the common use of confession and penance. Religion is an integral part of Gwyneddan society, and senior members of the clergy often wield a great deal of temporal influence in addition to their ecclesiastical power. The Church is led by an elected Primate of All Gwynedd, who also serves as the Archbishop of Valoret. The organizational structure of the Church is further divided into a collection of sees, each of which is run by a titled bishop. There are currently twelve titled sees in Gwynedd, though the exact number and size of various sees have changed regularly throughout the history of the kingdom. Additionally, there are a number of itinerant bishops, senior clergymen who do not have a set area or land to oversee.
The Church pre-dates the founding of the Kingdom of Gwynedd, and the large role of the Church in Gwyneddan culture often results in the church's involvement in secular affairs. The Holy Church of Gwynedd was once under the control of the Patriarchate of Bremagne, but Gwynedd's ecclesiastical independence was secured in 647 by King Augarin Haldane, the first King of Gwynedd. In 820, the late King Bearand Haldane was formally canonized as a saint, and military support for the Haldane Restoration of 904 was provided by Michaeline knights, a militant religious order. A royal Haldane prince, Jashan Haldane, was even elected Archbishop of Valoret and Primate of All Gwynedd in 1044.
The lands of modern-day Gwynedd are first conquered by the armies of Autokratór Basileios I of Byzantyun in 249. The Byzantyun forces withdraw in 408, and the local chieftains divide up the land into the states of Haldane, Carthane, Lendour, Molling, and Rhemuth. The rulers of these lands war back and forth for the next two centuries, until Count Augarin II of Haldane succeeds in conquering the neighboring lands of Carthane in 645. Augarin declares himself ruler of both lands as High King of Haldane, and formally changes the name of kingdom to Gwynedd in 647. Although initially a small realm, Augarin's descendants successfully expand the borders of Gwynedd over the next two centuries through both conquest and treaty. Gwynedd is plagued by a series of barbarian raids during the 8th century, but King Bearand Haldane eventually pushes the invaders back, winning a final decisive victory in 755.
The Festillic Interregnum
On June 21, 822, Prince Festil Furstán, a younger son of the royal family of Torenth, launched a surprise assault and succeeded in overthrowing the legitimate Haldane king. King Ifor Haldane was slain in the coup, as was almost every member of the royal family. (The only survivor was the king's youngest son, Prince Aidan Haldane, who was smuggled out of the palace before he could be killed.) Supported by the Torenthi armies of his father, King Kálmán II of Torenth, Festil conquered Gwynedd and proclaimed himself King Festil I. Festil replaced many of the human nobles who had been loyal to the Haldanes with his own Deryni supporters from Torenth, establishing a new peerage who supported his claim to the throne. Festil and his descendants ruled Gwynedd for the next eight decades, during which time Gwynedd was a vassal state to the Kings of Torenth.
The Haldane Restoration
Festil's great-great-grandson, King Imre, ascended to the throne of Gwynedd in 900. Imre's arrogance and cruelty to his human subjects resulted in a great deal of antagonism toward the king, much of which had been slowly building since the last Haldane king was deposed. Ironically, it was a Deryni noble, Earl Camber MacRorie of Culdi, who eventually rose up to challenge Imre. After discovering the existence of a Haldane heir in 903, Camber gathered the support of the militant Michaeline order and launched a lightning attack on the royal palace. On December 2, 904, Imre was deposed, and Cinhil Haldane, the great-grandson of King Ifor Haldane, assumed the throne.
Although Imre was killed, his sister, Princess Ariella, escaped and fled to Torenth. She mounted the first Festillic invasion the following year, leading a Torenthi army into Gwynedd in an attempt to regain the throne. Ariella was slain during the defeat of her army, but her infant son remained alive in Torenth. Over the next two centuries, Ariella's descendants, known as the Festillic Pretenders, regularly invaded Gwynedd to press their claim for the throne.
After the Haldane Restoration, many of the descendants of those human families who had lost their titles during the Festillic Interregnum reclaim their lands. However, the decades of anger and resentment toward the Deryni Festillic kings evolves into a general hatred of all Deryni. Despite the fact that several Deryni play central roles in the Restoration, anti-Deryni sentiment continues to grow throughout the kingdom. Shortly after the death of King Cinhil I in 917, the human Regents of young King Alroy forcibly removed the newly elected Deryni Archbishop of Valoret, Alister Cullen, igniting a wave of Deryni persecution. In 918, the Statutes of Ramos are passed, which forbid Deryni from holding titles, owning land, or joining the priesthood. Additionally, the Church begins teaching that Deryni are inherently evil and corrupt, and actively sanctions the violent and bloody suppression of Deryni throughout the realm.
The early years of the Haldane Restoration also see a significant expansion of the kingdom's borders. The lands of Kheldour, Eastmarch, and Cassan are all brought under the control of Gwynedd during this time, nearly doubling the size of the realm. All of these lands are secured through a series of treaties, requiring no conquest or warfare.
Due in part to the close familial ties between the Festillic Pretenders and the royal family of Torenth, Torenthi monarchs are often willing to support invasions of Gwynedd with money, supplies, mercenaries, or even Torenthi soldiers. Additionally, the stark differences in the treatment of Deryni within each society cause further antagonism and distrust between the kingdoms. While Deryni are openly persecuted and feared throughout Gwynedd, most of the royal family and peerage of Torenth are openly Deryni, leading many Gwyneddans to fear their eastern neighbors.
In 983, Imre II Furstán-Festil, the grandson of Princess Ariella, launches the second Festillic invasion, sweeping into Gwynedd at the head of army provided by King Malachy II of Torenth. The invaders kill King Nygel Haldane and conquer most of Eastmarch, but their advance is halted by the onset of winter. When the war resumed the following year, King Jasher Haldane soundly defeats the invaders at the Battle of Grecotha, driving them back into the lands of Eastmarch. The war finally ends in 985, when the Gwyneddan army defeats the last of invaders at the Battle of Rengarth, a battle that claims the lives of both King Jasher and Imre II.
The third Festillic invasion occurs in 1025, during which time Gwynedd is beset by the armies of King Kyprian II Furstán of Torenth, Prince Jolyon II Quinnell of Meara, and the newest Festillic Pretender, Marek II Furstán-Festil. The Gwyneddan forces are led by Prince Cinhil II Haldane, who quickly defeats the Mearan invaders and then turns his efforts toward the Torenthi armies. The decisive battle of the war occurs when the armies of Gwynedd and Torenth meet at the Battle of Killingford on June 15. Three bloody days of carnage ensue, claiming the lives of thousands of soldiers on both sides. When the battle finally ends on June 17, the Gwyneddan forces emerge triumphant, though the final toll of the victory is very high. The Festillic Pretender and his eldest son are slain, and his youngest son is captured and executed a week later, but the royal family of Gwynedd also suffers losses. King Urien Haldane dies at the Battle of Killingford, and his heir, Prince Cinhil II, dies a week later, leaving the crown to the sixteen-year-old Prince Malcolm Haldane.
Hoping to solidify a more secure peace with Meara, Prince Malcolm Haldane marries the heiress to Meara shortly before his coronation to produce a joint heir to the two lands. However, Mearan separatists refuse to acknowledge Princess Roisian as the rightful heir, choosing to support her younger sister in an attempt to maintain Meara's independence. After several failed attempts to resolve the matter diplomatically, Malcolm is finally forced to mount a military campaign in Meara to suppress the rebels and assert his wife's rights. He defeats the Mearan separatists in 1027, but is forced to return to Mearan in 1044 to put down another attempt at Mearan independence.
Although Gwynedd retains nominal control of the land, Mearan separatists make several more attempts to split from Gwynedd over the next several decades. Malcolm's son, King Donal Blaine Haldane, campaigns into Meara in both 1076 and 1089, achieving military victories both times but failing to capture the Mearan Pretenders who lead the rebellions. A series of border conflicts with Torenth plague Gwynedd's eastern border during this time, but they never escalate beyond raids and skirmishes.
Ongoing conflicts with both Meara and Torenth continue to plague Gwynedd into the twelfth century, often separated by periods of uneasy peace. In 1105, Prince Hogan Gwernach Furstán-Festil becomes the first Festillic Pretender in eight decades to mount a challenge for the throne of Gwynedd, but he is ultimately defeated by King Brion Haldane. The following year, Brion is forced to march his army into Meara to put down the rebellion of the Mearan Pretender, Judhael II. Within his own kingdom, Brion is openly lenient toward Deryni, often ignoring the more oppressive laws that repressed the rights of Deryni. While Brion's guarded support of Deryni is perhaps more public than his predecessors, it continues a general trend of increasing tolerance toward Deryni that has been evolving in Gwyneddan society for several decades. Although Deryni are still feared and scorned by most of the general population, very few people still partake of the violent and brutal persecutions that had been commonplace two hundred years earlier.
Brion's son and heir, Kelson Haldane, is also forced to deal with these issues. On the very day of his coronation in 1120, Kelson is challenged by Hogan's daughter Charissa, but the young king manages to defeat the Deryni sorceress. The following year, Kelson meets the invasion of King Wencit Furstán of Torenth and succeeds in defeating Wencit in arcane combat, gaining dominion over Torenth through his victory. Several years later, a new Mearan Pretender rises up to seek Mearan independence, but Kelson mounts a military campaign into Meara in 1124 and successfully puts down the rebellion.
A new era of peaceful relations between Gwynedd and Torenth dawns in 1128, when King Liam Lajos II returns to Torenth to take up his crown. Not only does Kelson protect the young monarch from the treason of his uncles, but he later relinquishes his authority over Torenth and restores Torenth's independence. Several months later, a pair of marriages are scheduled between the ruling families of both lands to further secure the developing bonds of friendship between the two realms.
Kings of Gwynedd
- Katherine Kurtz, Camber of Culdi, ISBN 0-345-24590-3
- Katherine Kurtz, Saint Camber, ISBN 0-345-27750-3
- Katherine Kurtz, Camber the Heretic, ISBN 0-345-33142-7
- Katherine Kurtz, The Harrowing of Gwynedd, ISBN 0-345-33259-8
- Katherine Kurtz, King Javan's Year, ISBN 0-345-33260-1
- Katherine Kurtz, The Bastard Prince, ISBN 0-345-33262-8
- Katherine Kurtz, In the King's Service, ISBN 0-441-01060-1
- Katherine Kurtz, Childe Morgan, ISBN 0-441-01282-5
- Katherine Kurtz, Deryni Rising, ISBN 0-345-01981-4
- Katherine Kurtz, Deryni Checkmate, ISBN 0-345-22598-8
- Katherine Kurtz, High Deryni, ISBN 0-345-23485-5
- Katherine Kurtz, The Bishop's Heir, ISBN 0-345-31824-2
- Katherine Kurtz, The King's Justice, ISBN 0-345-31825-0
- Katherine Kurtz, The Quest for Saint Camber, ISBN 0-345-31826-9
- Katherine Kurtz, King Kelson's Bride, ISBN 0-441-00732-5
- Katherine Kurtz, The Deryni Archives , ISBN 0-345-32678-4
- Katherine Kurtz and Robert Reginald, Codex Derynianus (second edition), ISBN 1-887424-96-2
- Heraldic Devices in the Kelson era Archived 2011-06-29 at the Wayback Machine.
- Fraser, B. (December 1978). "About Our Cover: A Crash Course on Deryni Heraldry". Deryni Archives (1). Retrieved 2011-02-25.