Thursday, February 23, 2012

Strathearn Dynasty Pt.3 - Duchess Aufrica the Wise of Albany

Duchess Aufrica the Wise of Albany
As Aufrica took the matriarchal position at the head of the Strathearn Dynasty,  her two ambitious sisters acquired land also in the gavelkind succession. Fife went to Bethoc, while Flora took Moray up north. The sibling rivalry would stir ofen during Aufrica's reign, and both sisters spent a good portion of their lives behind bars to curtail their scheming. Without any direct control there were fears that the Strathearn line would peter out in those two branches, but both countesses managed to find suitable matches that would accept matrilineal descendants. However, the prolifeartion of girls in the next generation would continue to be a problem.

Aufrica married into the Babingberger line to set up a loose alliance with mainland Europe, but was under no illusions that the Dynasty required a legitimate heir to the throne. Even though Queen Finnguala currently reigned, a male descendant would be the only true way that Scotland would accept such a new lineage. Duchess Matilda arrived first to take the female count to 10 from 10 progeny, but Kenneth arrived next spring with his twin sister Ada to finally bring hope to the Strathearn line.

Poor luck and indecisive breeding also plagued the Lothiens to the South. Their Duchy claim backtracked though their tree to Gille-Crist's wife, and hence enabled Aufrica to make a play for the title. The Queen and other gentry up north ignored the young Duke of Lothien's pleads for help as the Strathearn Guard took them apart. Lothien had previously extended themselves by claiming the Duchy of the Isles, and this was to be their saving grace as they managed to squirrel away the majority of their holdings under that secondary title. Stirling Castle and Dunbar, the jewels of Lothien, still found their way into the clutches of Strathearn's Duchess.

With the Duchy spread clear across the breadth of Scotland, the power now belonged solely in Aufrica's hands. Queen Finnguala had passed on her crown to an inexperienced Godfrey a Muirebe, whose lack of leadership further put him in a weakened position. She bullied him into conceding Argyll and Caithness before attemting to relieve him of the crown itself. As Kenneth was still only 14, a plot hatched to bring Ingram Dunkeld to the throne. Even though it undid some of the work to extracate the Dunkelds from their position of power in the Scottish highlands, Ingram was the weakest of the candidates with no personal heirs and a 60 year old wife. He jumped at the chance to don the crown, but there was no doubt where the Scottish might now came from.

King Ingram the puppet. No love, no heirs, no control over his vassals. Soon to be deposed.

Kenneth was handed the Lothien Duchy as he turned of age, but with the Saxon populace objecting to Scottish rule, most troops were unavailable for him to wield. Aufrica continued to do the bulk of the work to depose Ingram and install Kenneth as the first Strathearn King of Scotland.

With only minor scuffles to deal with at home, the Dynasty turn their sights over the waves to Ireland. Some groundwork had been laid with Domnall's injection into Ulster during Muiredach's reign, but the female curse had spread there too, leaving only a generation of Strathearn blood to call upon. Kenneth had taken an Irish bride as the plans for the Puppet King were unfolding, and with her came the rights to claim the Duchies of Connacht and Meath. Other claimants were catered for in the halls of Strathearn to cover almost every part of the green isle.

As Aufrica slipped in and out of illness, Henry, her youngest, was her final bullet in the game of genetical warfare. Sizing up the Kingdom of Denmark, they accepted a betrothal to the young King's sister before he sucumbed to repeated assasination attempts. This cost Aufrica dearly in the sight of her peers and contributed to her worsening mental state. She slipped away from court as Otto, her husband, took over as regent in her final months.

Henry, atop the throne of Denmark, saw off the Polish threat that was plaguing the nation with help from Kenneth and Otto's combined forces. 2 sons, 2 Kingdoms. A testiment to Aufrica the Wise.