Other Lands in the British Isles

          In addition to Caledonia, the British Isles include: England, the Southern British Kingdoms, and the islands of Ireland and Man. See the Map of Western Europe.

          The four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England, Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, and Wessex, are currently fighting for their lives against a massive Danish invasion led by Ivar and Halfdan Ragnarsson. King Ricsig of Northumbria and King Oswald of East Anglia are both puppets of the Danes. Young King Ceolwulf II was recently crowned in Mercia, but most of his kingdom, including London, is overrun by Danes and he has no army of his own. Even mighty Wessex, the kingdom of Albert the Bretwalda (high king of Britain), seems poised to fall - the Danes have mounted a major offensive into the heart of Wessex. Many predict the imminent demise of Anglo-Saxon rule in Britain, much as they themselves conquered the Celts centuries ago.

Southern British Kingdoms
          Until recently, the mountainous lands of Wales were a patchwork of tiny kingdoms. However, under the threat of Viking raids the petty kingdoms have united under the rule of Rhodri Mawr (the Great), king of Gwynedd, Powys, Dyved, and Seisyllwg. Only two kings, Elisedd ap Tewdr of Brycheinlog and Hywel ap Rhys ap Arthfael of Glywissing, both in the southeast region of Gwent, remain independent of his rule. Having successfully convinced the Vikings to raid elsewhere, Rhodri, now an old man, is resting on his laurels, quite happy to see the Vikings tearing apart the English.

          Independent British Celts still live in Cornwall, ruled by King Doniert. Once a large land known as Dumnonia covering the entire southwest of Britain, Cornwall has been whittled away by Wessex until now it controls only the tip of the peninsula.

          On the continent the Britons of Armorica, now known as Brittany, have used the confusion surrounding the Frankish civil wars and the Viking raids to regain their independence from Charles the Bald. However, just last year King Salomon III was assassinated with no heir, plunging the land into confusion.

Ireland and Man
          Ireland has five major Gaelic kingdoms, Ulaidh, Connacht, Midhe, Laighin, and Mumhain, plus a host of lesser kingdoms. (There's little differentiation of rank, and almost any tribal chief claims the title of king.) All are technically ruled by High King Aedh the White-Grey in Tara, but in actuality the kings spend most of their time raiding each others' cattle and the high king has little authority and no effective administration. Even more than Caledonia, Ireland is famed for the influence of faeries on the land. The archbishop of Armagh is often considered the leader of the Celtic Church.

          In addition to the Irish, Ireland supports many Norse settlements on the coasts. The most important of these is Dublin, which reached its heyday under the rule of the brothers Olaf the White and Ivar, sons of a Norwegian king who took over the city from Danish Vikings. In 873 Ivar died, and the Kingdom of Dublin passed to the unpopular Eystein Olafson. Within a year many of his followers had left Dublin for greener pastures, or at least better raiding opportunities, in England, Francia, and Iceland. Dublin has thus ceased to be a major source of raiders, but remains the primary trade port for Ireland.

          The Isle of Man, Ynys Manau, has its own Celtic population which speaks a Gaelic dialect. The island is an ancient source of great magical power, with unique ties to the faerie realms. The kings of Man were once great wizards who commanded the powers of the sea and ruled extensive lands around the Irish Sea. Nevertheless, their wealthy island was one of the first targets of Viking raiders and was quickly conquered and turned into a forward base for further raids.

More Information on the Mundane World of A.D. 875:
Life in the Dark Ages
Peoples of Caledonia
Geography of Caledonia
The Church in Caledonia
The British Isles
Western Europe
Distant Lands
Map of Western Europe
Map of Caledonia

Return to the Index of Background Files

Caledonia: A Light in the North