The Kingdom of Malahaut
Malahaut is the powerful kingdom that occupies most of Cumbria. It includes everything from the Tees River in the north to the Wharfe River in the south, and from the North Sea in the east to the Pennine Mountains in the west, whose residents are alternately loyal members of the kingdom or rebellious hill men.
Malahaut consists of several large and distinct geographic regions. It is basically a 20-mile wide vale between the Central Pennine Mountains to the west and in the east, the North Moors and Wolds.
The Pennine Mountains are impassable on horseback, but the Dales are scenic and fertile. They are narrow valleys with steep sides that cut through the hills. The most important dales are Swaledale, Urredale, Niddale, and Wharfedale.
The Ouse Vale is a wide and fertile land. The Ouse River runs down its center, and is fed by the many rivers that flow from the Dales and the North Moors. The lowest lands of the Vale are often marshy, but generations of farmers and monks have worked to dam and drain them, revealing incredibly fertile soil to farm. Many cities, including Eburacum, serve as markets for the wealthy farmers.
The Tees Valley in the north is Malahaut territory only on its south side—beyond is the Kingdom of Nohaut. It originates in the Pennines—in Teesdale. It empties at Teesmouth into the North Sea.
The North Moors (modern Yorkshire Moors) are extremely rugged and hostile to men on horseback. Farms and a few manors can be found nestled among the hills and in the valleys. No significant settlements are present.
Deira is the coast east of the North Moors and the Pickering Vale. It is not suitable for ports, though small ships and boats can pull up along the beach in several places.
Pickering Vale is a wide expanse of flat land between the North Moors and the wolds. It is good farmland.
The Wolds is an expanse of rolling hills. They are farmable, just not as good as the flat champion lands.
Humberside includes the lands on the north side of the Humber Estuary. These are generally level, and includes extensive marshes being drained and farmed.
The Humber is an estuary, not a river or bay. It is two miles wide where the ferries cross between Winteringham and Brough. It is subject to the tides so that when they come in the waters backs up through the Humber and affects the water level far up the rivers that feed into it: in Malahaut all the way up to Eburacum. When the tide goes out the waters fiercely rush out to sea.
Cumbria was originally settled of the region by descendants of the Trojans who had arrived under Brutus, the grandson of Aeneas of Troy. They first settled in the south and moved northwards along the rich river valleys. In the time of Ebraucus, the sixth king of Logres, the fort of Kaerebrauc was established in the lower Ouse Vale. Ebracus had 20 sons, many of whom were the ancestors of the powerful families in the Brigantes tribe, and also among their neighbors, the Parisii.
In the barbarian days the Brigantes tribe was the most powerful in Britain. When Caesar came the Brigantes helped repel him, and when the emperors came again they fought valiantly but, through treachery, were finally conquered. To suppress the independent-minded tribe the Roman governor built a permanent legionary fortress at Caerebrauc, and then made the city into their regional capital, which they called Eburacum. Later, when Britain was split into two provinces, Eburacum became the capital city of Britannia Inferior. It grew large, prosperous and powerful.
The Romans ruled, and the Brigantes endured. The people were not shipped off and replaced, but simply altered their lives to Roman ways as subjects and members of the empire. They adopted many of the Roman ways, and their leaders became rich and senatorial leaders of their land. But they also kept their tribal identity and many of their day-to-day old ways were unchanged, especially among the populous commoners.
When the Empire abandoned Britain in 410 the senators of the island met and established the Supreme Collegium to rule them. Naturally Eburacum contributed a member to that body. This body, preserving the republican traditions of ancient Rome, had the power to make a Dictator who would rule absolutely as long as a crisis existed. Vortigern was one of these Dictators chosen by the wise members of Britain’s Supreme Collegium.
The peoples of Malahaut resisted the way that Vortigern seized permanent power, and they entitled one of their own members named Coelestius to be the Dux Brittanniarum, or “Leader of Battles” in charge of the military. Coelestius is remembered now with his Cymric name as King Coel Hen, or Coel the Old. His wife was named Stradwawl, and their daughter Gwawl married the great King Cunedda. His sons were at the front of the battle against Saxons, Picts and Irish and his descendants include the King of Malahaut and many other lords of the North and the Pennines.
Kings of Malahaut
Coel the Old. Ruled before and during Vortigern's reign
?. Ruled before and during Ambrosius's reign
Heraut de Apres, aka King of 100 Knights. Ruled before and during Uther's reign
Barant de Apres, aka le roi Cent Chevaliers, Ruled during Arthur's reign
Malahaut in the GPC
512. Battle of Bassus, Arthur conquers the Centurion King & his ally, the Kingdom of Garloth
513. The New King is mentioned as having changed his name to be le Roi de Cent Chevelier
This timing of these is significantly altered in the history below.
Malahaut under Arthur
Unrecorded in detail in GPC is the fierce resistance of the people of Malahaut against the High King’s advance. Arthur killed their king in the Battle of Bassus River in 512, and captured the heir, but to the people those were reasons to resist, not surrender. The opposition was led by two nobles, the Earl of Catterick and the Seneschal of Pickering. The Guildsmen of Eburacum and the local churches donated huge amounts of money to the rebellion. They calculated that Arthur would not kill his hostage. They were right in that.
King Arthur loosed an army led by Duke Derfel of Lindsey to pacify the country. Duke Derfel's family had a long-standing grudge against the lords of Malahaut, and he adopted a scorched earth policy to force the rebels to surrender. He ravaged huge swaths of land, burning crops and villages, cutting down orchards and uprooting vines. At last he provoked the earl and seneschal into a battle. Though the enemy was inspired by their Hatred, it was not enough to bring victory and the rebellious army was smashed. Yet, even leaderless, the people resisted. They refused to pay taxes, broke their own bridges, ambushed messengers, and even burned their own crops to prevent the invaders from feeding. Every village that Derfel burned sent more bandits loose.
From 512-516 Duke Derfel stamped on the smoldering resistance in Pickering and the Pennines, and kept outright rebellion suppressed. The Malahaut underground, now led by Abbot Stephen of Whitby, consorted with enemies of the Britain. Their hatred for Derfel was greater than their hatred for the Saxons. In 516 the bandits gathered as an army, and they greeted the army of Saxons led by the war lord named Colgrim. When these two armies came to Euburacum the knights of Malahaut opened the gates of the city to them. Their invasion was a huge surprise for King Arthur, who responded with recklessness rather than care. The Saxons nearly killed him at the Battle of the Humber, but were themselves surprised by a night attack, and forced to retreat. Eburacum gave refuge and help to the Saxons and when Saxon reinforcements arrived, they combined to drive off the king. The Malahaut rebels, full of hatred and misguided by Abbot Stephen's mad raving, prepared to make Colgrim the King of Malahaut. Abruptly, the son of the Steward of Pickering said that they ought to swear to Colgrim only after he proved himself able to defeat their old enemy, the wicked Duke Derfel of Lindsey. The rest of the Brigantes agreed, and Colgrim wore he would do it the next year.
In 517 King Arthur released the young heir of Malahaut. In Leicester, with court as witness, including the Steward of Pickering, the young Prince Barant de Apres swore homage and fealty to the Pendragon, and promised that he would keep his people peaceful and friendly to the High King. He and all other Malahaut prisoners received entirely new outfits of arms, armor, horses and robes; and were released, without ransom, to freedom.
At that time Colgrim had begun the siege of Lincoln, with an army of Saxons and northern British. When Prince Barant appeared, resplendent and free, the Malahaut forces abandoned the Saxons. To maintain their oaths the Malahaut army did not fight for either side, though their king helped King Arthur. The Saxons were disheartened and withdrew from the battle as soon as possible, heading to Eburacum. this time they shut the gates against the Saxons, who set off in flight. While King Arthur pursued the Saxons all the way to Caledonia, Prince Barant reclaimed his lands and rewarded those who had helped preserve his position. Ironically, these included many of the rebels who had fought against Arthur.
Barant de Apres was crowned King in the spring of 517. The young King of Malahaut called himself le Roi de Cent Chevaliers, a modern interpretation of his father’s Centurion title. His first royal act was to lead his army against the Saxon forces of Nohaut that were plundering the North Riding. He was fighting against these when he heard about the great Battle of Badon. [Whether he is at Badon or not is up to the GM.]
King Barant privately disliked Arthur, but maintained cordial relations. He rigorously asserted his feudal rights, and often verged on the edge of rebellion. He scrupulously maintained his Honor, and was hostile to anyone (including other Round Table knights) who didn't speak with the utmost care about Barant in Malahaut. The long-term patience of the High King, plus the courtesy of his knights, eventually won King Barant over to the chivalrous way, though he as often used it as to create rivalry as cooperate.
Subinfeudation of Malahaut
The king had some good economic reasons to resent King Arthur.
When Arthur returned the young king to his throne he did not include all of the customary benefits of the kingdom. In fact, he left the young king with just enough land and income to maintain his one hundred knights and his dignity. This amounted to about one third of the original holdings. Here are some changes to the realm imposed upon the “scion of the Brigantes” by the generous High King:
The Duke of Richmond was created by King Arthur. He held almost a third of the kingdom’s former holdings, mostly in the north and along the King’s Roads.
Hull, an entirely new city, was built on the Humber. This royal city inspected and taxed all imports into Cumbria. The income went to the Pendragon. Arthur didn’t touch the older tax apparatus for Malahaut that operated in Eburacum, but made it redundant.
Eburacum received a charter from King Arthur, so that it owned very little to the Malahaut and much to King Arthur. He built a new castle there in 518. Later le Roi de Cent Chevaliers negotiated with the city to keep his castle, called the "Old Bailey."
Almost a third of the kingdom’s holdings were kept as demenses of the High King, distributed as banneretcies among King Arthur’s knights and nobles, who often rewarded their own followers with fiefs. Some holdings were devoted to supporting the Pendragon’s own royal officers.
Religion in Malahaut
The druidic practices of ancient times blended unevenly with the Pagan Roman rites to form the current British Pagan religion that is still practiced by the Malahaut peasantry everywhere except in cities and among the densely packed population of the Ouse Valley.
British Christianity came here from the south, first as an interesting belief among the Druids; and afterward as its own faith. It was practiced by some of the Brigantes who fought against the Roman invasion. When the Roman developed cities they brought in people from across the empire. These city dwellers brought their own Christian practices, and the urban citizens all changed to be Roman after Constantine the Great made that to be his imperial practice.
Years later a dispute arose between Roman and British factions, and the King of Malahaut stepped in and exercised his ancient prerogative as a judge. In the end he ejected the Roman Bishop and the British church got the Bishopric and cathedral in Eburacum. Now Malahaut, even the cities, are British Christian.
However, Eburacum has become a cosmopolitan place, and now churches for each of the many Christian faiths are in the city. Several large and important abbeys are in the city, as well as many smaller ones that cater to various creeds.
The Ridings, Divisions of Malahaut
The kingdom is divided into three districts called Ridings, plus a fourth part which is of the city of Eburacum and its hinterland, called Ainsty. These are both geographic and political divisions, so that each Riding is the equivalent of a county, and has its own court, sheriff, etc.
North Riding. Everything east of the Ouse and Swale, south of the Tees, and north of the Derwent. This includes the eastern Ouse Dale, Teesdale, the North Moors, Deira coast, and most of Pickering Vale. 135 knights
East Riding. Everything east of the Derwent, west of the ocean and north of the Humber. This includes the Wold, Holderness, Humberside. 100 knights
West Riding. Everything west of the Ouse, north of the Wharfe, east of the Perilous Forest and south of the barony of Appleby (that, is, Stainemoor). This includes western Ouse Dale. 135 knights
Ainstey. Includes the lands which surround Eburacum City, about five miles to the west and north, and along the Derwent River to the east. 30 knights.
Total Knights: 400 knights total (of which 100 are loyal to Malahaut)
What is Riding from?
The word Riding comes from Old English Thrithing and means “a third part” (similar in usage to the word farthing, which means “a fourth part.”) The initial “th” sound got absorbed by the last sounds of North and South to make it into “riding.”
Where a place is named, it is a town, unless otherwise noted. The only villages noted are those that are on the border, or that are near to another feature of note.
Ainsty. The lands around Eburacum are the land of Ainsty, and not part of any Riding, but subject only to the city of Eburacum. It is a big area in the best land of the kingdom.
Aldborough. City on the Ouse River, about a half-day travel (10 miles) north from Eburacum. It was once called Isurium Brigantum, and was the capital city of the Brigantes, the most powerful of the pre-Roman tribes. It remained the tribal capital during Roman times, though nearby Eburacum outstripped it for size and wealth.
Bouroughbridge. This is a strategic river crossing on the Dere Road.
Bridestones. A natural stone formation where the Pagans worship. Upon it is carved a horned head
Brimham Rocks. A Pagan holy center, including a Wishing Stone. Put your right fingers into the hole, make a wish! It also includes Rocking Stone, which can be moved only by an honest man, and also the Lover’s Rocks.
Brough-on-Humber. Large Town, the northern side of the royal ferry service across the Humber, from Winteringham in Lincoln
Carrs, the. Hills east of the North Moors
Catterick . (formerly Cataractonium, “Place of the waterfall”) is a walled city on Dere Street, and is just south of the bridge over the Swale River. Forts guard each side of the bridge. It’s an important regional trade center and also a stop along the King’s Way.
Dales, the. The Dales are a series of fertile river narrow valleys along the eastern edge of the Central Pennines, noted for their scenery and isolation. They are all named after the river at their center, except Wensleydale on the Urre River. These include Deepdale near Dent, Skipton, Ilkley, Harrowgate. In the South Pennines are the larger southern dales: Ribblesdale, Malhamdale, Airedale,Wharfedale, Nidderdale, Swaledale, Teesdale. Uplands are heather moorland
Deira Forest. The Deira Forest includes the North Moors, and covers much of North Riding and into Nohaut.
DEIRA. Coastal region on the North Sea, including Whitby and Scarborough. It is/was the center of the Saxon Kingdom which, at its height, also included most of the South and North Ridings.
Dere Street. Dere Street was an old major highway in Roman times. It is still in use, though less well maintained now and deteriorating from its former greatness. It runs from Eburacum to Catterick, and then past Scuts Cross (from whence the Royal Road goes westward over Stainmoor); and onward northwards along the eastern edge of the Pennines through Nohaut to Corbridge in Tynedale, and then beyond the wall on northwards through Garloth to the Castle of Maidens, in Lothian.
Derwent Road. Between Eburacum and Norton is a ghost of a lady who guides travelers through the mist.
Devil’s Arrows. Huge standing stones near Aldborough, which were thrown at the city by a devil.
Eburacum. Eburacum is the second largest city in Britain. It is where the Ouse River opens into the Humber (?), and at the highest point that seagoing ships can navigate. For more information, see the maps of Eburacum,
Ermine Street. This was a major Roman highway, and is now part of Arthur’s Royal Roads. It runs south from Eburacum, across the Humber to Lincoln, then on to London.
?Filey. Town, near which lives the Filey Dragon. (See also Perilous Forest)
Filey Brigg. A long ridge of rocks jutting into the North sea.
Flamborough Head. Easternmost point roughly marking the border between Deira and Holderness, it is dangerous to shipping. The nearby residents have a charter to let them salvage ships washed ashore, and as a result many of them are secretly wreckers as well, luring ships to crash.
Fountains Abbey. Benedictine Abbey, with the Chapel of Nine Altars, and a ghostly choir that sings
Giggleswick. A famous healing well, whose waters ebb and flow, the only thing left of a nymph who was transformed to avoid satyr.
Greenhowe. In Nidderdale, a lead mine is here.
Harrowgate. Small market town in the Dales, on the Nidd River.
Hob Hole. In Runswick Bay lives a hob goblin that can cure whooping cough.
Holderness. East Riding’s eastern border upon the North Sea, with a long cliff along its length.
Hull. Hull is a new city, started in 519 by King Arthur to take control of the imports into Cumbria.
Humber. (pronounced “umber”) A long estuary connecting the Ouse and other Rivers to the sea. It is deep, wide and navigable by sea-going ships all the way up to Eburacum, and has a notable tidal surge detectable all the way upriver to Eburacum.
HUMBERSIDE. Land north of the Humber, including the coastal lands of Holderness.
Ilkey . Small market town in the Dales, on the Wharfe River in West Riding.
Kirkham Priory. Upriver from Eburacum
Lambton. Town on the River Wear, in Durham, near which lives the Lambton Wyrm.
Malhamdale. One of the larger Dales, with a small market town, on the *river. *not on map*
Marketweighton. As its name states, this city is the central “weighing station,” or market, for the South Riding.
Middlesbrough. Fishing and local shipping center, of the Teesmouth
Middleham Moor. A ghost haunts this moor, which is in *
Northallerton (N). Town, in the North Riding; from here roads go north into Nohaut, west to Catterick, and south to Thirsk.
NORTHHUMBERLAND. This includes all the lands of Humberside, Holderness and the Wolds. Before Roman times these were lands of the Parisii.
North Moors. [Yorkshire Moors]
Norton. Castle, at the southern mouth of the Pickering Vale
Nunnington. Town, near which lives the Nunnington Dragon. It is near the border of Brigantia, Humberside and Pickering.
PENNINE MOUNTAINS, Central. The central Pennines are between the Celibe Pass and Pase. The scattered peoples in the north are more or less united by the Duke of Rouse.
Penshaw Hill. Iron Age fort, the only triple-rampart hill fort in the north.
Pickering Vale. This wide and pleasantly fertile region is along the Derwent River, and in the north includes the Carr Hills and North Moors.
Pocklington. This is a city in Humberside, a day’s ride east from Eburacum.
Ribblesdale. One of the larger Dales, with a small market town, on the *river.
Richmond Castle . This is a large castle near Catterick, and the seat of the local Duke of Richmond.
Ripon . This is a small city on Dere Street, that is the residence of the Bishop of Eburacum.
Roman Roads. See Ermine Street, Dere Street, Royal Highway
Rouse Castle. This old style castle commands the Lon Valley, which is one of the known (to locals) routes through the Pennines form Edenside to Ripon County.
ROUSE. The Rouse are the hill tribes of the Central Pennines, including the rich areas called “the dales” (Londale, etc.) The Duke of Rouse, who lives in the castle of that name, rules them. They are generally tributaries to the king of Malahaut.
Royal Highway. King Arthur’s road, along part of Dere Street, but then over Stainmore to Carduel.
Rudston. Center of megalithic sites, including a 25 feet tall monolith.
Scarborough. Fishing market on the Deira coast, Pickering.
Scuts Cross A fork in the Dere Street road four miles north of Catterick, the westward Royal Highway heads over Stainemoor towards Carduel.
Skipton. Small market town in the Dales, on the *river.
Snapa. Town, later a castle of King Arthur.
Sockburn. Home of the Sockburn wyrm, close to Caterick
STAINMOOR. The “stony moor” is the best crossing point over the Pennines. Nonetheless, it is steep and difficult. Several castles, each a day’s ravel apart, protect travelers along the King’s Road here.
Stamford Bridge. Crossing point over * river,
Streets, the. See Ermine Street, Dere Street, Royal Highway
Swale River. The river…*
Swale Dale. This dale is the site of lead mines.
Tadcaster. This city and castle guards the crossing of the Wharfe river, and is coveted by both Roestoc and Malahaut.
Tees River. The lower stretch of this river is in Teesmouth, where it empties into the North Sea, and with the city of Middlesbrough. The middle stretch is the border between Nohaut and Malahaut, while the upper river is the holding of Barnard (castle).
Teesmouth. The area around the mouth of the Tees River centers on Middlesbrough, a local port and fishing city. The region also includes the coast along the North Sea to the south, including Whitby.
Thirsk (N). town
Thornborough. Vast megalithic complex. (north Riding)
Troller’s Gill. Appleteewick. This deep limestone ravine is the haunt of trolls and sprites. The Gill is also associated with a black dog legend.
Vinovia (Binchester). Former Roman city, now a ruin. (On Nohaut map)
Wharfe River. Wharfe is Cymric and means "twisting, winding."
Wharfedale. Wharfe Dale is one of the Dales in the Pennine Mountains.
Whitby. Fishing town, with a haunted abbey on he cliffs over it. http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/england/north-yorkshire/featured-sites/whitby-abbey.html
Wolds. These are gently undulating low hills and valleys in the East Riding, south of Pickering Vale.
North Moors. [Yorkshire Moors] These are a large expanse of treacherous and dangerous heather-covered moors, boggy at the top and prone to unseasonable fogs capable of hiding just about anything. They stand between Teesmouth and Pickering Vale.
Back to top
Back to Pendragon