A dream of unity
December 3, 1111: Duke Brian's dear, sweet, conniving, murderous wife, Princess Sigrid of Denmark, dies in bed at 63. For once, the duke is not so broken up to lose a family member. Duke Brian wastes no time in marrying the 16-year-old Princess Thorborg of England. She is the eldest daughter of the Norwegian King of England, Magnus II. As he has no sons, any male issue of the union would be the heirs to that kingdom. Thorborg herself is a fortune builder, zealous but cowardly.
So what if she's 40-something years younger than me? And I have granddaughters older than her? And... okay, yeah, that's definitely the creepiest marriage I've arranged so far. At least we're not related. With any luck, she can give me another child or two to fill the hole left by the four that died. Oh yeah, and our son would be the King of England. You know, just a nice perk.
December 12, 1111: Ath Cliath falls to Duke Brian, and shortly after, the city of Dublin follows.
February 25, 1112: Duke Domnall surrenders. Duke Brian becomes Earl of Dublin, and orders all the lords from across the land to gather in the great city, under the protection of his armies.
Earl Indechtach of Tyrone, Earl Indrechtach of Ulster, Earl Eógan of Oriel, and Earl Áed of Tyrconnel ride from their northern holdings to join Brian's bannermen, never having met the legendary crusader face-to-face before.
Domnall of Leinster, hanging his head in defeat, is joined by his former vassal, Earl Donnchad of Ossory.
Standing atop a pavilion in the town square, the 64-year-old Duke of Munster calls on his chancellor to bring a silk-draped parcel before him. He speaks at length of Irish unity and independence, and the importance of banding together as true Irishmen to oppose all the forces who would seek to subjugate the Emerald Isle. He speaks of glory to be earned, and a seat at the table in world affairs waiting to be claimed. A seat that never can be claimed by a handful of squabbling, petty kingdoms, such as England has become.
The silk is removed to reveal a shining crown, and Brian ua Brian, son of Duke Murchad I, crowns himself High King of Ireland before all the realm. The cheers are so uproarious that even the cobbles of the city streets themselves seem to shake. Dancing, singing, shouting and drinking break out among all those assembled.
For a man who has lived through many a dark hour, it is a good day.
And so it is spoken. And so it is done. The ua Brians have risen from a humble house governing two counties in the south of Ireland, to the first High Kings it has seen in generations. It has been a long road, fraught with sorrow and adversity. But we have persevered, and we have prevailed.
The time for celebration is now, but I know that my realm is not yet secure. Ossory, Leinster, and the four Lords of Ulster remain independent. My next task will be to offer them all the protection of my kingdom as vassals. If they do not take kindly to this suggestion, it could spell the greatest civil war Ireland has ever faced.
Come back next week. Now, my true reign begins.
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