- "I give my body, heart and soul, to the Lady whom I seek. No plea for help shall find me wanting. No obstacle will stand before me. No evil will taint the lands bequeathed unto me. When the clarion call is sounded, I will ride out and fight in the name of Liege and Lady. That which is sacrament, I shall preserve. That which is sublime, I will protect. That which threatens, I will destroy, for my holy wrath will know no bounds. Honour is all. Chivalry is all. Rejoice, for we, the Knights of Bretonnia... will be your shield."
- —The combined vows of the Knights of Bretonnia.
The Kingdom of Bretonnia, also known as the Land of Chivalry, is a highly martial feudal kingdom that lies between the lands of the Grey Mountains and the Great Ocean.[1a] Bretonnia is second only in size to that of the Empire, both their chief rival and closest ally, having a culture and society that revolves around the ideals of nobility, social birthright, and the upholding of a strictly enforced code of chivalry.[2i]
Ruled by a Royarch,[3a] the nation of Bretonnia has been known throughout the kingdoms of man for having the greatest Knights in the entire Old World, even surpassing that of the Knightly Orders of the Empire. A proud and honourable kingdom, the armies of Bretonnia are comprised mostly of knights and noblemen, who ride into battle with lance, horse, and sword, seeking glory and rooting out injustice wherever they go. The Knights of Bretonnia are trained to fight from childhood, and even the lowliest Knights Errant are considered superior to ordinary warriors. Their skills are further enhanced through constant training, battles and tournaments. It is not only Bretonnia's knights who are famed, however, for the kingdom also boasts the finest human sailors in the World. With their great sails billowing in the wind, Bretonnia's mighty fleets are a majestic sight on the high seas. Due to this regime, the combined military might of Bretonnia has surpassed that of even the greatest armies in history.
The religion that currently dominates this mighty feudal kingdom is the worship of a local elemental deity known only as the Lady of the Lake.[2r] This mysterious Goddess of Purity, Light and Order is believed to have aided Gilles le Breton in unifying Bretonnia into a single unified nation, during a Greenskin invasion from the Southern Mountains in 978 IC.[2a] The Bretonnian calendar is offset from the Sigmarian Empire's by about 977 years, as the people of the Bretonni weren't fully united until King Gilles' reign as the first Bretonnian monarch.[1e]
Bretonnia is widely considered to be the fairest and most beautiful land in all the Old World. It is a green land of fertile farms, rolling hills, starkly beautiful mountains, and airy forests. Bretonnian chefs are famous for their culinary skills, and the wine produced in the vineyards of the country is renowned throughout the world. It is seen as a land of honour and virtue, where noble knights keep the domain safe as peasants till the fields, where chivalrous heroes slay monsters and rescue fair damsels. This is the image Bretonnians want to project, and it is not entirely false.
However, while the loftiest ideals of personal bravery and strength can be found throughout the many knights of the land, there is a much grimmer existence for its vast peasant population. Generations of inbreeding mean that the peasants are, for the most part, ill-fed, downtrodden and little use as soldiers. For their part, the knights are far superior in physique and ability, and often fail to see the woeful conditions the peasantry must endure.
Though such apathy has since darkened their reputation, it is still believed that there are no mortal men whose martial prowess can equal the Knights of Bretonnia. Dedicated as they are, body and soul, to the pursuit of excellence in honour of the Lady of the Lake. These brave warriors form a bulwark against the growing evils of Chaos and the power of the Orcs, Goblins, Skaven and other monstrous creatures that threaten mankind's survival. They are protected by their honour and by their strength of arms, and whilst they endure the lands of men remain safe from destruction. If the Knights of Bretonnia were ever to fail in their sacred duties, then the whole of the human race would surely be doomed...[4a]
- 1 History
- 1.1 Common Mythology and Pre-History
- 1.2 The Dark Age of Bretonnia (900 to 977 IC)
- 1.3 The Unification of Bretonnia (977 to 978 IC)
- 1.4 Founding of a Kingdom (978 to 1448 IC)
- 1.5 The Crusades against Araby (1448 to 1451 IC)
- 1.6 Of Pox and Rats (1786 to 1812)
- 1.7 The Wars of Errantry (2201 to 2422 IC)
- 1.8 The Dead Arisen (2491 to 2520 IC)
- 2 Feudal Government
- 3 Geography
- 4 Locations of Interest
- 5 Religion
- 6 Language
- 7 Society
- 8 Foreign Relations
- 9 Military
- 10 Notable Characters
- 11 Theatre
- 12 Sources
- "Above all others, Bretonnia is the land of heroes..."
- —The Kingdom of Bretonnia.
The Bretonnian calendar is offset from the Sigmarian Empire's by about 977 years, as the people of the Bretonni weren't fully united until King Gilles' reign as the first Bretonnian monarch in 977 IC. Bretonnian recorded history can vary greatly from duchy to duchy, being recorded and maintained such as it is, mostly by monks within the many Grail Monasteries dotting the land.[1e]
Common Mythology and Pre-History
The Land of Bretonnia did not in fact truly exist during the time of Sigmar and the earliest days of the Empire. Indeed, many centuries passed before a great and noble knight united the highly independent and prideful Bretonni tribes in the same way Sigmar had with the birth of the Empire.[1e][2c]
The earliest days of Bretonnian history are not well recorded, though it has been conjectured that as within the wider world, it may have once been ruled over by the cold-blooded Lizardmen at the dawn of the planet's creation. Long after their first great struggle to hold back the forces of Chaos during the First Chaos Incursion, the land that would later become Bretonnia was settled by the High Elves of Ulthuan, this being done during the reign of Phoenix King Bel Shanaar. Many elven colonies dotted the coast and larger rivers during the first years of their colonisation, of which the most famous was the city of Tor Alessi.[1e][2c]
These colonies survived the civil war with Malekith, and then the Sundering, relatively unscathed, but they were soon faced with the full wrath of the dwarfs in a time known as the War of the Beard. Bretonnia was the primary battleground of this war, which lasted for well over three centuries. The conflict finally ended with the death of Phoenix King Caledor II, and the subsequent capture of the Phoenix Crown by the Dwarfs. However, the war had so weakened the High Elves by this time that the next Phoenix King, Caradryel, ordered a withdrawal of all elves back to Ulthuan, leaving those colonies that stayed behind to fend for themselves. Those few elves who had refused his commands retreated into the enchanted glades of Athel Loren and over the centuries degenerated into the now feral Wood Elves.[1e][2c]
It was at this time that the first nomadic human settlers of Bretonnia appeared. Circa fifteen hundred years before the time of Sigmar, an agricultural tribe of people arrived on the western edge of Axe Bite Pass. These primitive tribes had little knowledge of metalwork or warfare, and relied heavily on agriculture and flint-crafted weapons to survive in the harsh wilderness.[1e][2c]
These groups of humans were known to have worshipped a primordial earth elemental goddess called Rhya, and erected many primitive stone circles in her honour. These stone circles were places of great natural power, and were marked with symbols that remain as a foundation of the druidic Old Faith to this day. Approximately five hundred years later, around one thousand years before the time of Sigmar, a second wave of human migration crossed over the Worlds Edge Mountains in tens of thousands, escaping the rampages of the greenskin threat. These new human tribes were warlike, strong and fierce, and they fought both greenskin and indigenous human populations alike. While most of these tribes settled within and eventually became the Empire, one far-ranging tribe crossed the Grey Mountains. This tribe, called the Bretonni, was to give its name to the land they found. Like their kin within the lands of the Empire, they displaced both the greenskins and human earth-worshippers, thus soon becoming the dominant culture west of the grey mountains.[1e][2c]
The Dark Age of Bretonnia (900 to 977 IC)
- "The Bretonnians? Aye, I know 'em. Arrogant lot, full of fancy ideas about valour and chivalry and what not. Yet they've no love for the grobi, mind you, so that makes 'em a firm friend to the Dawi!"
- —Darthon Ironbeard, Dwarflord of the Grey Mountains.
When Sigmar founded the Empire, he extended an invitation unto all the Bretonni warlords to join him in his new confederation. Despite noble Sigmar's goal of pan-human unity, the cultural differences between the Bretonni and his people were apparently too large to overcome, thus his offer was quickly rebuffed, unable to accept a foreigner as their leader. While the Empire experienced many growing pains throughout the first millennium of its existence, the Bretonni would remain, as a whole, a fractured people. It would be foolish to say that they did not advance though.[1e][2c]
In time, trade and knowledge of masonry and metalworks was eventually gained by the nearby proximity of Dwarfs living within the Grey Mountains, which allowed the early sub-tribes of the Bretonni to resemble something closer towards their modern state. Among the tribes of the Bretonni it became the custom for the best and bravest young man in the village to be armed and ready at all times to fight off foes. Everyone else in the village toiled to provide for themselves, but also to feed and equip the warrior and his warhorse. The warrior lived off the fat of the land, ate the best meat and drank the best wine. This, together with constant training and practice at arms, set him apart from ordinary men. He was physically bigger, fitter, and more robust, standing head and shoulders above an ordinary peasant.[2c]
The chosen warrior took up residence in the village watchtower, a wooden structure which would in later times evolve into a stone Castle, and would take for his wife the fairest maiden in the village. In return for all this, the warrior was honour-bound to defend the village against any foe, no matter how terrible. If necessary he would take on even a horde of marauding orcs alone. These warriors became known as "knights", and as the centuries passed both knight and warhorse became exceptional examples of their kind. Although knights were known among other human tribes of the Old World as well, it was among the Bretonni tribe that the tradition of knighthood was perfected.
Among the Bretonni each petty king or warlord soon began to rename themselves as a duke of their own small dukedom. By the year 770 IC, the lands of all Bretonnia had since been divided into sixteen realms, each ruled by their own duke.[1e]
The greenskins had lived within the lands alongside the Bretonni for many years, and as is normal for these foul creatures, their population eventually reached critical levels, and began to overrun the Bretonni lands in a seething green tide. By the year of 930 IC, a massive horde of orcs, led by the warlord Gragabad, poured out of the mountains of Massif Orcal and overran the lands of Cuileux. Faced with imminent destruction, the last of the remaining knights of Cuileux rode out in a last, desperate battle, and fought the greenskins on the open plains. Though the greenskins fell like wheat before the scythe, the last of the knights of Cuileux were killed to a man.[1e][2c]
In the wake of this disaster, the armies of Quenelles and Brionne rode forth and attacked the now weakened orc army. No sooner had the orcs began to route from the battlefield than the two Bretonnian armies faced each other for rulership over the charred-husk that was Cuileux. Fortunately, the two armies hadn't the stomach to face each other in open combat, and instead, the two dukes of each kingdom fought one another in an honourable duel. By duel's end, the Lord of Brionne was struck down, and Quenelles was expanded. It is said that the destruction of Cuileux marked the beginning of the wars that would culminate in the unification of the entire Kingdom.[1e][2c]
By 932 IC, Balduin, the newly stated young Duke of Brionne, led his armies to victory after defeating the hordes of Gragabad and slaying the warlord in single combat. In the battle, Gragabad's greataxe became lodged fast in Balduin's shield, and the lord fought the entire battle with the axe in place. Afterwards, the axe was adopted as the symbol of Brionne in memory of this event. This victory did not the stop the orcs, however, and around 948 IC, the northern lands of Bretonnia were engulfed by waves of enemy armies. Northern raiders from the frigid shores of Norsca burned the coastlines of Lyonesse and Couronne, while beastmen warherds poured forth in implacable numbers from the dark woodlands of Arden. Beset by three enemy invasions, the Bretonni of the northern lands were forced to relinquish all they once ruled, hiding behind their stout walls while the enemy roamed across their lands at will.[1e][2c]
At roughly the same time, the undead armies of Settra the Imperishable and his fleet of rotting warships and skeletal warriors appeared upon the western coast of Bretonnia. No sooner had the orc and goblin armies rampaged through the realms than the undead hordes swept across the lands and completed the desolation with silent impunity. To the south and east, restless goblin tribes came down from their homes within the Grey Mountains, pillaging and burning their way through the dukedoms of Quenelles and Bastonne. By 974 IC, orc tribes poured from the mountains and forests in numbers never before seen in Bretonnia's history. Cut off from aid, the once ancient dukedom of Glanborielle was utterly destroyed. In response, the Bretonnian knights rose up against the onslaught of the greenskins, charging headlong towards the many battlefields that were springing up all across their realms. However, the lords of each dukedom had not the time to properly gather their knights into a single unified force. Outnumbered and surrounded, these scattered bands of knights were soon overwhelmed by the superior numbers of the greenskin hordes. With the enemies of mankind amassing all around them, the remaining dukes had all but lost hope.[1e][2c]
One of the Bretonni Dukes, however, did not give way to despair and was determined to unite all of his people into a single nation. This ancient and legendary uniter was Duke Gilles le Breton, the newly crowned Duke of Bastonne, the famous knight who personally slew the red wyrm Smearghus, deep within the forest of Chalons. Gilles rallied first Duke Thierulf d'Lyonesse, and then his greatest and most loyal friend, Duke Landuin d'Mousillon under his crusading banner, but even these three men and their combined grand army found themselves outmatched and facing almost certain annihilation.[1e][2c]
This inexperienced and badly battered "Bretonni" army then encamped themselves beside a lake. Upon the morrow, they felt certain to face their doom upon the field of battle, with the war drums of the orc Waaagh! allowing them no rest or sleep. That morning, when all hope seemed lost for the Bretonni cause, a true miracle unfolded upon Gilles and his army of knights. As Gilles knelt before the lakeside to drink of its pure waters and pray for strength, an ethereal and heavenly beautiful woman arose from out of the mists, leaving the Bretonni army agasp and afraid. Gilles was the first to make a move, raising the bloodstained and tattered banner of Bastone high, inspired by some genius or desperate madness, he cried out: "Lady, wouldst thou bless mine banner!"[1e][2c]
He then dipped it into the lake at the Lady's feet. When he drew it forth and raised it high again so all could see, it was dry and fully restored, only now also emblazoned with the glowing icon of a golden grail. The other dukes and knights then scrambled to follow his example, asking the Lady to bless their sword, lance, or warhorse for the coming battle. Finally, the lady held forth a large gilded chalice overflowing with light, giving it first to Gilles and then to his companions to drink from and gain the strength needed to achieve victory. These three became the first Grail Knights, and, fighting under the banner of the Lady of the Lake, the Bretonni gained the courage needed to face the greenskins upon the plains.[1e][2c]
The dirt of the approaching enemy was gathering from all sides, fouling the air with their war cries and drumming. The knights hurriedly took up their weapons and mounted their warhorses. They gathered in a battle line around Gilles and the banner. The orc horde darkened the horizon ahead of the Bretonnian knights. Steadily and without flinching, they rode on as the arrows dropped around them. Then the moment came to charge and the knights plunged into the midst of the orc horde. The first ranks of the enemy crumbled before them. The entire horde reeled like some great beast pierced by the hunter's lance. The knights cleaved through wave after wave of the enemy and burst forth into the open plain beyond. All around them the enemy began to scatter in flight. As the sun began to set the knights ceased their pursuit and rode back to the Sacred Lake.[1e][2c]
Here they gathered once more and rested as the rooks and ravens descended to feast on the orcish slain. All the dukes and knights gathered around Gilles and together they vowed to serve and honour the Lady of the Lake. They also vowed to stay together as an army and free Bretonnia from orcs and all her other foes. Gilles was proclaimed 'Leader of Battles', with the authority to command the army and the entire resources of all the dukedoms until Bretonnia was freed. This moment marked the origin of the Grail Knights and also the Kingdom of Bretonnia. In the years that followed, under the banner of the Lady of the Lake, Gilles led the Grail Knights from victory to victory throughout the length and breadth of Bretonnia.[1e][2c]
The Unification of Bretonnia (977 to 978 IC)
The morning after his encounter with the Lady of the Lake and his first grand victory over the greenskins, Duke Gilles of Bastonne led his army against the orcs besieging the Dukedom of Bordeleaux. The three Grail Companions did as much slaughter as the rest of their army combined, and the greenskin hordes were driven into the ocean. Seeing a means to retake their lands from the greenskins, Lord Marcus d'Bordeleaux and Lord Fredemund d'Aquitaine eagerly joined Gilles and his ever-growing army of knights. After the victory feast, the Lady of the Lake appeared in the private chamber where the Lords were gathered, where she bestowed Marcus and Fredemund the Holy Grail and thus become the fourth and fifth Grail Companions. Marcus turned that chamber within his castle into the first Grail Chapel, a site still of unparalleled sanctity today.[1e][2c][4a]
As the Companions rode south to the Dukedom of Brionne, they found their way blocked by the army of a bloated orc by the name of Warlord Brogtar. Lord Fredemund summoned a great flock of falcons, which struck the flying beasts of the orc's armies from the sky. With the flying beast slain, the Grail Companions sounded the charge and fought their way deep into the heart of the enemy army, where Lord Landuin struck the warlord down with his own sword. With victory achieved, the Companions hurried their armies towards the besieged capital of Brionne.[1e][2c][4a]
Once they reached their destination, they found the castle under siege by a horde of greenskin warriors. The knights drove through the unsuspecting besiegers from the rear, shattering their resolve and breaking the siege. Lord Balduin d'Brionne sallied forth with his knights and met Gilles in the midst of the orcish army. As they clasped forearms as brothers, the Lady of the Lake appeared and gave Balduin a drink from the Holy Grail, thus becoming the sixth Grail Companion. Although the knights were outnumbered three-hundred to one, the Grail Companions were able to still drive them from the battlefield.[1e][2c][4a]
Urged on by the vision of the Lady, the army crossed the River Brienne and rode east through the ravaged dukedom of Carcassonne, towards the besieged dukedom of Quenelles. As they rode, Lord Lambard d'Carcassonne rallied to their banner and entered Quenelles. Upon their arrival, they found that the Forest of Loren was in flames, assaulted by another army of orcish warriors. Some of the knights were afraid to venture towards the burning forest, for fear of the dreaded Fay Enchantress that had made the forest her home. Unafraid, Gilles urged them on, and upon entering the forest, the Knights were attacked by the orcs. In the heat of battle, the Fay Enchantress appeared from the shadows and lent her aid towards the Knights, with the very trees of the forest rising up to meet the Greenskin invaders. As the battle raged on, the Knights were met with the army of Rademund the Pure, Lord of Quenelles, and with the last orc slain, the Lady blessed both Rademund and Lambard for their bravery, thus becoming the seventh and eighth Grail Companion.[1e][2c][4a]
Riding north to the dukedom of Parravon, the Grail Companions found its beautiful capital lying in ruins. Rampaging giants rained boulders down upon the city walls from the mountains above, whilst a horde of goblins from the Severed Head Tribe looted the city streets. Lord Agilgar of Parravon, mounted upon Glorfinial, his faithful pegasus, took to the skies and aided Gilles in retaking the city.[1e][2c][4a]
Heading further north-west, the Companions, alongside Lord Agilgar, came to the aid of the dukedom of Montfort. Besieged and surrounded, Gilles ordered the charge against the greenskin invaders, but was struck low by a ballista bolt from one of the Greenskin war-machines. His companions rallied about him and fought their way towards the city, where they were met by Lord Martrud d'Montfort. As Lord Agilgar and Martrud watched over the body of Gilles, the Lady of the Lake appeared before them and healed Gilles of his injuries. For their dedication to Gilles, the Lady blessed Lord Agilgar and Martrud in becoming the ninth and tenth Grail Companion. Arising from his sickbed, Gilles led the charge that broke the greenskin army.[1e][2c][4a]
With the greenskins retreating, Gilles ordered a counterattack and plunged deep into the cavernous homes of the goblin kings. Illuminated by the holy light of the Grail Companions, the Lords of the Bretonni slaughtered the goblin kings and broke the unity that held their fractious tribes together. With their purpose achieved, they fought their way back to the surface covered with the black blood of their enemies.[1e][2c][4a]
Now with ten of the Bretonni Lords following his banner, Gilles turned west to face the greenskins despoiling the dukedom of Gisoreux. Joining forces with Duke Beren d'Gisoreux, Gilles faced a horde containing many of the orcs' deadliest shamans, who turned their foul magic upon the Bretonni. Protected by the Blessings of the Lady, the knights and the Grail Companions charged unharmed through the magical maelstrom and struck the enemy horde with great force, breaking their resolve.[1e][2c][4a]
The army continued west into the duchy of Mousillon, once the most beautiful and fairest land of the Bretonni people. Now wasted and burning, the knights walked through the wasteland and met Duke Folgar d'Artois within the city of Mousillon. Duke Folgar told the knights that an army of beastmen and undead warriors would march upon the city within a matter of hours, and so the knights took to the city's defences and stood resolute. The Grail Companions each took out a Dark Champion of the army, with the battle ending when Duke Landuin struck down the sorcerer who was controlling the undead warriors, destroying nearly half the enemy army, forcing the beastmen to retreat. The Grail Companions pursued the fleeing beastmen army, and when Duke Beren and Duke Folgar returned, they shined with the light of the Lady, becoming now the eleventh and twelfth Grail Companion.[1e][2c][4a]
The victorious lords turned north, riding through the Forest of Arden until they reached the besieged port-city of L'Anguille. There, they found the great city under siege by an army of Norsemen marauders and Chaos warriors, attacking from both land and sea. Duke Corduin of L'Anguille cut a path through the besiegers and met up with Duke Gilles. At length, Lord Marcus of Bordeleaux challenged the leader of the Norse, Svengar of the Skaelings, to single combat, with the conditions that the loser's forces would withdraw. Too proud to refuse, the giant warrior met Marcus upon a lighthouse tower and fought until the next day. As dawn broke, Lord Marcus found renewed strength and struck down the Norse chieftain. A savage but honourable race of warriors, the Norse kept to their words and returned to their ships and sailed home.[1e][2c][4a]
After but a night's rest, the Grail Companions rode eastward where they met up with Duke Carleond d'Couronne. There the duke joined the armies of Gilles and fought an orc horde at the River Sannez. With the aid of the combined armies, the knights drove the greenskins back, defeated them, and turned the waters of the river black with blood. With victory achieved, the knights rode with all haste to the city of Couronne.[1e][2c][4a]
Gathering within Couronne, the knights heard news of a massive host of beastmen, trolls, and nameless creatures of Chaos pouring from the Forest of Arden. As they prepared for the final battle, messengers brought word of an army of greenskins warriors, the largest they had ever seen, pouring out of the mountainous region known as the Pale Sisters. Worst yet, when the knights assembled outside the walls of the city, an army of Skaven rose up from the sewer networks and pillaged the city streets. As the lords took counsel before the fight, the Lady of the Lake joined their numbers. There she had Lord Corduin and Carleond drank from the Holy, thus being the last and final thirteenth and fourteenth members of the Grail Companions. Then she blessed the whole army and bade them fight in her name.[1e][2c][4a]
With a ferocity not seen by their people for centuries, the knights of all the Bretonni people fought the three armies that assailed them. The battle raged for weeks upon weeks, as foul creatures continued to pour from their lairs like a stormy tide and break upon the armies of the Bretonni as against a cliff. When at last the sounds of battle fell silent, the plains of Couronne were awash with the blood of the slain. This was the greatest victory ever achieved by the Bretonni people, and the battle had finally signalled an end to the fighting, and the birth of a new kingdom.[1e][2c][4a]
Founding of a Kingdom (978 to 1448 IC)
Thus with peace won, it was agreed that there would be an everlasting peace amongst the surviving twelve dukedoms. Gilles was dubbed "The Uniter", and, with a blessing from the Lady of the Lake's representative, the mystical Fay Enchantress, he thus became the first Royarch of Bretonnia. The first Royarch of Bretonnia battled dark forces all across the realms for many years until he finally fell in a mighty battle by a cowardly weapon shot from afar. With his dying breath, he asked to be laid before a small raft by a nearby lake where it is said in legend that the Lady took his body back to her domain, where his body remains to this very day. [1e][2c][4a][4d]
With the tragic death of Gilles in the year 17 (995 IC) by orcish ambushers, the kingdom of Bretonnia was left with a dilemma. There was much wailing, lamentation and gnashing of teeth throughout the lands, as all Bretonnia mourned the passing of their first king. Gilles' only recognised son, Louis , was crowned the next Duke of Bastonne. However, the question of whether he should also be proclaimed King of Bretonnia, as old tribal tradition allowed, was much debated. Many advocated that Duke Landuin should take the position, whilst others believed his rival, Duke Thierulf or the wise Duke Marcus, would make a more suitable heir to the throne.[1e][2c][4d]
The majority of dukes eventually agreed that Louis should take on the duty, but this then posed another greater problem. Louis had not drunk from the Holy Grail, as had his father and all other dukes at the time of the kingdom's founding. It had been decreed that no knight, no matter of birthright, could become lord over all Bretonnia without first having the blessings of both the Fay Enchantress and the Lady of the Lake. So it was that Louis left court, setting out immediately upon his quest to find the Lady, and thus prove his worth before her sight, towards earning himself the title as King, earning him the title of "The Rash". This event eventually led to the traditions of the Questing Knight.[1e][2c][4d]
For years, Louis the Rash travelled the length and breadth of Bretonnia, righting many wrongs and doing great deeds in service to the goddess. In his absence, Duke Thierulf acted as steward of all Bretonnia, much to the annoyance of Duke Landuin. Years later, Louis returned to his ancestral castle astride a mighty purebred charger, his golden hair was shining and his eyes were aglow with a divine noble presence. None could doubt that the Lady had blessed him, so thus his subjects fell to their knees before him, and pledged their loyalty to the new king.[1e][2c][4d]
So it was that Louis was crowned King of all Bretonnia, and presented with the golden crown, a gift given by the Fay Enchantress herself. All Bretonnia rejoiced in their new monarch, and made ready to do whatever he demanded. His first act as king was to formalise the code of honour and chivalry that his father and the Companions had lived by. These original vows of chivalric knighthood still exist within the halls of Bastonne, upon a crumbling parchment, decorated with an elaborate script, detailing all the duties and privileges of a knight, and those of all other ranks within noble society. All across Bretonnia, knights eagerly embraced these vows, and many noble warriors gave up all deed of land and title, castles and wealth, thus to embark upon the path of a Questing Knight. A wave of faith swept through Bretonnia, and the Lady of the Lake verily became the primary deity of the noble classes.[1e][2c][4d]
Louis also realised that as long as Athel Loren stood, it would be nearly impossible for enemies to invade Bretonnia from that direction. Furthermore, the Elves defended themselves and, unlike the Barons, looked for no favours from the King in return. He decided to forge an alliance with the Wood Elves, sending one of his most esteemed Questing Knights, Gaston de Galliard to brave the dangers of the forest. The brave knight reached Orion and Ariel and made them an offer of peace. No barons would be permitted by the King to transgress the ancient boundaries of the Wood elf realm if in return, the Wood Elves would ally with the Bretonnians against their common enemies. The King and Queen of the Wood accepted Louis' offer of friendship and the messenger soon returned with various strange and magical gifts.
The dukes continued to push back all manner of evil from within their borders, and aided in the struggles of their neighbours to do likewise, which led to Bretonnia flourishing with wealth and power. The great port cities grew large and sprawling, prosperous with renewed trade. Grail Chapels were built in places of holy significance, and the Fay Enchantress guided the Dukes of Bretonnia in their worship of the Lady. For the next few hundred years, Bretonnia continued to grow in both strength and cultural influence. This was a golden age of chivalry, and when their lands were threatened, they crushed all foes that dared to face them. King Guillaume defeated the orc tribes of the Massif Orcal highlands, sparing none. Lord Lamorte smashed the skeletal fleets of the Tomb Kings at Savage Point. It is said that Bretonnia will never experience such a Golden Age ever again.[1e][2c][4d]
The Crusades against Araby (1448 to 1451 IC)
In the year 470 (1448 IC), the war-torn southern realm of Estalia was invaded by Sultan Jaffar and the armies of Araby. Diplomatic envoys pleaded with Bretonnia to send aid, and the king sent a call to war out to all of Bretonnia. Throughout all the dukedoms, this call to war was heard, and countless knights pledged their lance to their king's holy cause. In his noble wisdom, King Louis the Righteous gave permission for warriors of the Empire to cross Bretonnia on their journey to Estalia, for they too had pledged their aid, despite the lack of unification during the Age of Three Emperors. This military campaign has since been named the Great Crusade, in homage of the zeal of these warrior-knights.[1e][2c][4d]
Within time, the armies of Jaffar were pushed back by the more mobile and heavily armoured forces of the Crusading Knights, forcing him to relinquish his hold on most of Estalia. Retreating back to Araby, but leaving a token force of troops around the important city of Magritta, Jaffar's armies were hounded by the Bretonnians, who pursued them tirelessly. The Crusader army eventually reached the sandy beaches of Araby and invaded the major city and trade-port of Copher.[1e][2c][4d]
As the crusaders sailed with the aid of Estalian ports and Tilean warships, Jaffar and his men prepared for the coming invasion by fortifying most of the major sea-ports. When they finally arrived in the spice-trading city of Copher, it was heavily fortified and the defenders were well prepared for the coming battle. Yet they weren't prepared for the wrath of the northern kingdoms that Jaffar had brought upon them, and once the defenders first started faltering against the onslaught of knights and siege towers, a breach was made and soon the high spires of Copher were pulled to the ground and much of the population were put to the sword.[1e][2c][4d]
Not even the harsh desert conditions could perturb the knights, and their fervour very slowly took its toll on Jaffar's warriors as many desert tribes under Jaffar's control began growing tired of this war of attrition. Despite Jaffar having a vastly larger army than the crusaders, Jaffar's armies began to disband, for many of the tribes of Araby grew weary of the despot's incompetence. After frustrating months of minor skirmishes, the Bretonnians faced Jaffar at the Battle of El Haikk.[1e][2c][4d]
Elemental spirits of the deep deserts were summoned to fight alongside Jaffar's armies, and with their numerical superiority, they overwhelmed the outnumbered crusaders on all sides. Just when all hope seemed lost and the army was almost at the breaking point, a host of both Empire and Bretonnian knights charged furiously at the tightly packed army, mowing down the lightly armoured soldiers until finally the armies were scattered by the sudden death of Jaffar by a Bretonnian lance. Disliking the harsh, dry lands, for it proved too vast and hostile to be completely conquered, the Bretonnians sailed back home, with cargo-ships laden with exotic goods and treasures, whilst the Empire knights remained behind to hunt down the remnants of Jaffar's army for another century, which would eventually lead to the creation of several more knightly orders.[1e][2c][4d]
Meanwhile, a second great crusading force, led by Baron Tybalt, left Bretonnia and was travelling the long road overland towards Araby. Hearing of the great victory, his force did not press on into the desert kingdom, feeling saddened at the loss of such a glorious campaign. Nevertheless, under Tybalt's leadership they pushed into lands that had not yet been conquered by any civilised race. Seeking glory and honour, they sought out the armies of greenskins that plagued these lands, and many great victories were won. The hardy dwarfs that dwelled within the mountains around these lands rejoiced, for the Bretonnians had dealt a serious blow to their ancient enemy, and they bestowed much praise and honour upon the knights. Rare it was these days for the reclusive dwarfs to make contact with the other nations of men, other than the Empire. These victories eventually forged a bond between Bretonnia and the dwarfs of Karaz Ankor.[1e][2c][4d]
These lands later became known by most as the Border Princes. Indeed some knights remained, building great castles in the following decades, hoping to create their own kingdoms upon the frontiers of this new land. Despite these grand crusades beyond Bretonnia, the dukedoms themselves were not left undefended, for there were still intermittent threats within the borders of their kingdom that needed to be secured.[1e][2c][4d]
Of Pox and Rats (1786 to 1812)
One such threat coincided with the deadly Red Pox that swept through southern Bretonnia and decimated the populations of peasants living in the sinking slums and hovel villages. As if this were a trigger, foul rat-men creatures erupted from their tunnels and attacked the Bretonnian duchies. Using the same method used against the Empire, the Skaven unleashed the Red Pox upon the sewer networks of the city of Bordeleaux. The scourge was once more successful, and nearly a third of the populace was infected and killed, but Baron Giscard Du'ponte acted quickly and ordered the poor quarter of the city to be put to the torch, killing both innocent people and the vast majority of the infected populace. This act, for its deplorable lack of humanity, halted the contagion from further spreading. However, just a quarter of a century later, the full assault was launched by the Skaven and nearly all of Bretonnia and northern Tilea blossomed with a virulent outbreak of the Red Pox.[1e][2c][4d]
As the nightmare that unfolded within the Empire once more repeated itself, whole countrysides was lost, with the cities of Brionne and Quenelles soon fighting for their lives against the verminous hordes of the Skaven Empire. It seemed that this time, the Under-Empire should triumph, but fate has an ill-will towards the ratmen, and once more their glorious victory was taken away from them.[1e][2c][4d]
Duke Merovech of Mousillon and his black-armoured knights rode south where they slew thousands of the chaotic creatures, and lifted the siege of Brionne. The route his army took mirrored that road taken by the Grail Companions before him, as he then pushed towards the east, crossing Carcassonne. His dreams were filled with blood, death, and horror - in his delusions and hubris, he actually believed that he was Landuin reborn, and that he was the only one who could save Bretonnia from destruction.[1e][2c][4d]
Meeting up with the armies of Parravon and the fey folk of Athel Loren, a great victory was won, and the rat-creatures scattered before the martial might of Merovech and his most trusted knights. In the middle of the battle, Merovech was soaked in blood, revelling in the killing. Even after his foe lay unmoving, still he continued to hack at them with his gore-soaked blade. The virtuous and honourable knights of Parravon looked on in horror. After winning their great victory against the hordes of the Under-Empire, the once mighty Dukedom of Mousillon had since begun its decline from the jewel of Bretonnia after a heretical event took place that shook the very foundation of the kingdom to its core. In the wake of his victory, Merovech invited the dukes to his castle for a great victory feast. Many saw him as a saviour, for he had saved Brionne and Quenelles. Nevertheless, the banquet horrified the chivalrous dukes. Dinner was served by shambling servants, and the dukes were shocked to see spitted and impaled criminals arrayed about the hall.[1e][2c][4d]
Merovech could not understand their discomfort at all, and having already drained many goblets of fine Bordeleaux wine, he drunkenly claimed that his hospitality was being dishonoured. The king was repulsed by Merovech, and spoke against him and his court. In a rage, Merovech accused the king of jealousy, and plotting against Mousillon. The king formally challenged Merovech, though the other dukes begged to be the one allowed to punish the disgraceful knight. In the ensuing combat, Merovech fought like a daemon, and tore out the king's throat with his bare hands. Merovech raised his goblet and filled it with the blood of the king, which he then drank from.[1e][2c][4d]
The other dukes hastily left Mousillon to gather their armies, pursued by twisted creatures and malformed peasants. In the following months, Merovech was publicly denounced by the Fay Enchantress and the newly crowned king. Lyonesse led a massive invasion of Mousillon, and many of the knights of Mousillon gladly took up arms against their liege-lord, having no wish to be associated with their corrupted duke, and swore fealty to Lyonesse. Faced with the might of all of Bretonnia, Merovech was finally slain, though many brave warriors fell beneath his blade. The righteous anger of the Bretonnians against one they see as having tainted their own honour is truly to be feared.[1e][2c][4d]
The Wars of Errantry (2201 to 2422 IC)
Throughout the ages, other crusades have been waged by the proud Bretonnians, yet none of them so great as the next one. One such crusade was led into the deep deserts to the east of Araby, in the land of the Tomb Kings, and a great many battles were won in that year. Others saw Bretonnians fighting far from home, even as far across the oceans as the jungle lands of the New World. Some of these crusades were declared as Errantry Wars, a tradition that derives from the old custom of the Errands of Knighthood. Usually a young knight would be set a task by their lord, an errand that must be fulfilled before they can attain full knighthood.[1e][2c][4d]
Errands traditionally included such things as the recovery of a lost artifact, the slaying of a great beast terrorizing a rural village or successfully escorting a noble lady through dangerous lands. However, in times of war and peril, a king may declare an Errantry War. At such times, a young Knight Errant may earn the title of Knight of the Realm through brave deeds and daring exploits on the field of battle. When an Errantry War is declared, many young knights all over Bretonnia rally to the cause, eager to earn their full knighthood. These unseasoned knights throw themselves into the thick of battle, often fighting recklessly, trying their best to outdo their comrades and gain the attention of their superiors. As such, the king may declare an Errantry War when he has need to quickly gather a large, well-motivated, yet unseasoned army of knights.[1e][2c][4d]
In the year 1223 (2201 IC), King Louen Orc-Slayer amassed a grand army after declaring an Errantry War, with thousands of young knights joining the ranks of the more experienced retinues of the dukes. Together, this army smashed the growing orc and goblin tribes that had been amassing for many years on the borders of Bretonnia. The traditional frontiers of the dukedoms were expanded, and many Greenskin strongholds were conquered. New castles were built along these borders, and many of the young Knights Errant were granted these domains along with full knightly titles at the end of the war.[1e][2c][4d]
The longest Errantry War ever fought was launched by King Charlen in 1442 (2420 IC). The Border Princes were overrun by enemies and, despite bitter resistance, they were eventually overrun. Charlen responded instantly to their appeal for aid, declaring his intention to rid the Old World of the greenskin menace once and for all. Charlen was a brave and mighty warrior, but was never known for great wit and strategy, for everybody knows that the greenskin horde can never truly be defeated.[1e][2c][4d]
Nevertheless, many thousands of young knights embraced Charlen's vision passionately, and a great army set off across the mountains, with many knights perishing on the long and arduous journey. At first, victory followed victory and the greenskins were slaughtered on the banks of the Blood River. However, as the years rolled by and more young knights travelled to the war-zone to gain honour, Bretonnia grew weaker due to the lack of defenders within its border. For over sixty years the war continued, draining Bretonnia of its finances, leaders, and entire generations of knights. Eventually, in the year 1444 (2422 IC), retaliatory attacks from orc tribes had ravaged the undefended dukedom of Carcassonne whilst the knights that should've protected the realm joined the Errantry War.[1e][2c][4d]
Eventually, under King Phillippe V, the Errantry War was ended after a devastating defeat at Dread Pass, where an entire army of Bretonnian knights was slaughtered by the thousands, as the greenskins pulled these proud knights from their saddles and killed them wholesale. The Bretonnians, in their pride, did not cope well with defeat, and were it not for the wise king ending the wars, then countless more knights may well have thrown their lives away in an effort to regain the honour of their defeated brethren.[1e][2c][4d]
The Dead Arisen (2491 to 2520 IC)
As the years went by, one of the most recent and major battles fought took place near and within La Maisontal Abbey, located around the Grey Mountains. A joint undead-Skaven army lead by Lichmaster Heinrich Kemmler and a Wight Lord named Krell attacked and sacked the aforementioned sacred Abbey of the Lady. The battle was a fierce struggle between the noble knights and the rotting hordes of zombies and warriors Kemmler and Krell had summoned up to serve them. As the battle raged on, knights and undead warriors fought viciously within the sacred grounds. They were finally overcome by the heroic actions of the great Duke Tancred II d'Quenelles and his proud companion knights, who pushed the hordes back with a devastating charge and disrupted the sorcerous hold that held the army together.[1e][2c][4d]
Seeing imminent defeat, the Skaven army abandoned their allies as is their habit. The knights returned victorious and with much honour, for their victory was indeed glorious. However, it was a hollow victory, for the treasonous Skaven had merely used the foolish necromancer to gain hold of a mystical and powerful artifact kept within the Abbey. [4d]
It is believed by most that Heinrich died in that bloody battlefield. Nevertheless, the Lichmaster's body was never found, and Tancred has spent the remainder of his life pursuing the hated necromancer unto the ends of the World. Tancred's father, Tancred I, fell in battle against the surviving forces of the Lichmaster's minions at the Battle of Montfort Bridge. Just as the hordes of Heinrich were scattered, he fell before he could reach and kill a hooded figure he believed to be Heinrich re-risen. It is said that the Lichmaster is still biding his time to enact his revenge against the Bretonnians that defeated him.[2c][4d]
- "We have political systems like this in the Empire. We call them 'protection rackets'..."
- —Matthias von Pfeildorf, former Imperial Envoy to Couronne.[1f]
The governmental system that controls much of Bretonnian society is the use and implementation of a feudal system, an outdated archaic political system that was widely used within the Old World many centuries ago, but has seen been removed and replaced with more efficient systems of government.[1f] Bretonnia is now the only human kingdom to still follow this system. The functionality of the feudal system is based upon oaths of loyalty between individuals within a society or nation, from which there is little to no direct form of a centralised government. The basic principles of the feudal system is where those below the social ladder must give up their goods and service to those of higher nobility in exchange for protection and certain rights, privileges and titles.
The peasantry of Bretonnia form the foundations of this feudal system and are required to serve and obey the nobility without question in exchange for their protection. As such, the vows of the peasants are those of servitude.[4f] Above the peasants are the nobles, whose responsibility is the protection of their lands and subjects from the depredations of outside threats, who in exchange for land and a title, shall fight for the King or Royarch when called into war. Thus, the vows of the nobility are ones of fealty.[1f][4g]
At the very top of this social pyramid is the King or Royarch.[3a] The Royarch's rule is sovereign and absolute, with no laws made within the kingdom having any hold upon the actions of the king. The Royarch has the right to do anything he pleases within his realm, and has the ability to create new laws or legislation should he wish it. However, to be a King of Bretonnia requires one to become a Grail Knight, and to be a Grail Knight, one must be the purest of all humanity's hearts.[1f]
As such, nearly all Kings of Bretonnia are a shining beacon of chivalry, justice, and bravery. The Kings of Bretonnia have been known to truly care for all of his people, constantly finding ways to better the lives of his subjects under his rule and to root out injustice wherever it grows. Thus, the king's power serves as a check on abuses and exploitation made by the lesser nobility.[1f]
Below the king are the dukes. A Bretonnian duke has royal power within his dukedom, but he is still subject to the king. That means a duke acting within his own dukedom can break the law, unless he disobeys a direct order from the king himself. Unlike royal power, the power of the dukes has been abused, most notably in Mousillon. There is no current duke of Mousillon to avoid having someone hold such authority in such a corrupt area. All dukes hold their land directly from the King. Louen also holds the dukedom of Couronne from the king, and thus holds it from himself. Legally, he is two different people. In theory, the king can create as many dukes as he wants, though the title is meaningless without land. In practice, only the fourteen great fiefs descended from Gilles and his Companions are held to be worthy of this status.[1f]
The Royal Court
- "What is a knight without his steed? But what is the steed without his knight? Knight and steed, noble and peasant; on such relationship is Bretonnia built."
- —King Louen Leoncoeur.
By ancient tradition, the king of Bretonnia must be a Grail Knight, selected by a conclave of as many Grail Knights as can attend the Grail Council of Bastonne immediately following the death of the previous Royarch. This unanimous choice is then legitimised by the Fay Enchantress, the holy representative of the Lady of the Lake. Once the election is finalised, the Fay Enchantress will then crown the new Royarch for life in a ceremony within the traditional Grail Cathedral of Bastonne.[1h]
Like any government ruled by a central figure, each King of Bretonnia houses a Royal Court from which he is able to govern and manage his realm with the aid of advisers and his fellow nobles. The current ruler, King Louen Leoncoeur,[2s][4c] holds court within the Duchy of Couronne during the winter months. In the summer months, the nobles within his court disperse to their fiefs.[1h]
By long custom the king speaks only to the highest nobles, and rarely speaks to those of less than baronial rank. Indeed, nearly all of the king's servants are barons, powerful in social ranking due their constant interactions with the king and being sworn in fealty to him alone, for only by the king's direct proclamation can a patent of barony be issued. The only time a peasant would ever speak to the king in person is when he raises one unto the ranks of nobility by knighting them, and this has occurred only five times in the kingdom's entire history.[1h]
Unlike most of the lesser nobility King Louen is deeply devoted to his country, and has declared he is willing to hear of abuses and injustices committed by any of his subjects, no matter how powerful. Peasants who can find a noble, no matter how lowly, to plead their case can appeal directly to the king. Still, the king has limited time and there are far more abuses than he could ever hear. As such, only the most grievous of abuses are heard. Fortunately if the king hears a grievous case, he always judges fairly with both a wisdom and conscience that most nobles often lack.[1h]
The Code of Chivalry
- "Every Bretonnian Lord knows that honour and chivalry come before everything."
- —The Chivalric Code.
Another aspect of Bretonnia society that governs the actions of the nobility is the Codes of Chivalry, also known as the Chivalric Code. This code was first introduced upon the coronation of Gilles le Breton as the first Royarch, which grew out of the warrior traditions of the ancient Bretonni tribes that occupied the lands of Bretonnia before its establishment as a kingdom. Indeed, this Code of Chivalry is, in its own way, a system of laws which the Bretonnian nobility has to follow in order to regulate the way their dukedoms should be run.[2i]
It wasn't until the reign of King Louis the Rash that the Codes of Chivalry were formalised and established, with the king appointing many heralds to regulate the ranks and honours of knighthood throughout Bretonnia. The code of chivalry has since been almost unchanged to the present day.[2i]
Bretonnia is renowned as a land with a code of conduct that must be followed by all those with noble blood. The code is not just about a Knight’s behaviour – although that is also important – but also about the choices he makes during his exploits. Living for the moment, a Knight should always choose the most honourable course of action. To them, what matters is what they do now, not what they may or may not do in the future. It is often as simple as seeking battle as a way of securing personal honour and pride.
The Seven Commandments
The Bretonnian code of chivalry requires that every Knight must follow seven commandments. These commandments are an integral part of Bretonnian society and government, and are often used to dictate the actions of a Bretonnian noble.[2i]
- To serve the Lady of the Lake.[2i]
- To defend the domains entrusted to him.[2i]
- To protect the weak and fight for the right.[2i]
- Always to fight the enemies of virtue and order.[2i]
- Never to give up the fight until the foe be defeated.[2i]
- Never to break faith with a friend or ally.[2i]
- Always to display honour and courtesy.[2i]
The Rules of Honour
Apart from the commandments of chivalry, there are certain traditional 'rules of honour' which are adhered to and respected by all knights. These rules are an important part of the code of chivalry. They date back to the very origins of knighthood in Bretonnia and mark out Bretonnian Knights as distinct from those of other realms. The most important rules are summarised below:[2l]
- A knight may only fight hand-to-hand, with sword or lance; he may not use a missile weapon.[2l]
- A knight shall always accept a challenge towards personal combat.[2l]
- A knight shall not draw sword against his fellow Bretonnian knights, except in trial by combat or within a tournament.[2l]
- A knight shall not allow himself to be captured alive.[2l]
- A knight shall not flee from the enemy, nor retreat without proper tactical cause.[2l]
- "Bretonnia is fair and peaceful because everyone knows their place. Yours is with the truffle hounds."
- —Lord Thederic of Maronz, to a captured outlaw.[1a]
Bretonnia is one of the greatest human realms of the Old World, almost rivalling the Empire in size, wealth, and power. It stretches from the Grey Mountains in the east to the Great Ocean in the west. In the south it is bordered by Estalia and Tilea and to the north its rocky coast is lashed by the stormy Sea of Claws. Unlike the Empire, Bretonnia has a kinder climate and is a more easily cultivated land. Its vast forests and wilderness regions are separated by great fertile plains and valleys where the nobility of Bretonnia have established their feudal domains. It is a rich, strong, chivalrous, and well-defended land.[1a][2a]
Short-term visitors to Bretonnia see a land of fertile farms, rolling hills, starkly beautiful mountains, and airy forests. The population consists of noble and courteous knights, fair ladies, and contented and deferential peasants.[1a]
Anyone travelling through Bretonnia, outside the blighted land of Mousillon, sees a country that looks fair and prosperous. The forbidding forests and frowning mountains of the Empire are nowhere to be seen. This does not mean Bretonnia is completely safe, however. Behind the facade, peril lurks. Bretonnia's landscape can be divided into six main types: arable land, where crops are grown; pastoral land, where animals are grazed; forests; mountains; the coast; and the great rivers.[1a]
The dominant arable crop in Bretonnia is wheat, though oats, barley, and green vegetables are also grown. Fields are very large and divided into strips. Peasant families are responsible for one strip each, and differences in treatment mean many fields look somewhat stripy. Fruit orchards and vineyards are common in the hills, on land that is too steep for easy farming. Sheep are often grazed under fruit trees.[1a]
It does, however, conceal problems. The mountains are home to Greenskins, the forests to foul creatures. Many peasants are starving, and knights who use courtesy to cloak brutality are found throughout the land. Even the superb flavours of the food often mask rotten ingredients. The cynical say Bretonnia wears a fair mask over deep corruption; the more generous lament the gap often found between its ideals and reality. No one who knows the country at all can ignore the contrast, however.[1a]
Most of Bretonnia’s hills are devoted to pastoral farming, whilst the plains and valleys are arable. The grazing animals keep the grass short, and the view of green hills dotted with white sheep or typically Bretonnian russet cattle is a common one. The flocks and herds are tended by shepherds and herdsmen. Shepherdesses are common in the south of Bretonnia, where it is the only occupation that allows women to travel by themselves. In the north, the idea of letting women go into the hills alone is frowned upon.[1a]
Flocks of sheep are attractive to predators, starting from wolves and climbing through goblins, orcs, beastmen, and the like. As a result, the life of a shepherd is much more dangerous than it looks. Shepherdesses, in particular, have a reputation as tough and dangerous fighters and generally cannot find husbands. Most of them do not particularly care. Many shepherds carry the Bretonnian crook, a spear with a hook at the end of the handle, and are skilled in its use.[1a]
The outer edges of Bretonnia’s forests are thoroughly exploited by the people. Pigs forage in the leaf litter, trees are felled for building, and others are coppiced or pollarded. These are techniques that ensure a tree produces a lot of long, thin branches, useful for wattle and daub or for firewood. It involves cutting the branches back every year, almost to the ground in the case of a coppice, or further up the trunk for a pollard. In Bretonnia, pollards are more common, so that pigs and sheep cannot eat the shoots of new branches. As a result, the trees in these areas are spaced out for easy access, and there is little undergrowth.[1a]
Further in, however, the forests become as dark and tangled as anything in the Empire. There are no elves in the forests of Arden or Châlons (Athel-Loren is outside Bretonnia proper),[2a] and no humans live beyond the tamed borders. As a result, they are a haven for beastmen and similar foul creatures, or for cultists of the Ruinous Powers. Human outlaws often lair near the edge of forests, and provide an important defence for local communities, keeping worse creatures back in the depths of the woods. There are stories of whole cities of beastmen in the depths of the Arden, and whilst there is no evidence for this implausible idea, it is not impossible; no one knows enough about the forest interior to say the cities are not there.[1a]
The mountains surrounding Bretonnia, and the Massif Orcal in its heart,[2a] are notable for their spectacular scenery. Soaring cliffs and thundering waterfalls mark the outer edges of mountain ranges, and on clear days, the peaks seem to shine from the snow on them. Farming and mining communities dot the edges of the mountain ranges, renowned for the extremely steep roofs of their houses, designed to shed snowfall quickly. Some of these communities are cut off from the rest of Bretonnia for months at a time in winter and have developed their own customs, in some cases involving the worship of the Dark Ones. Further in, orc and goblin tribes make their homes. When the snows melt in spring, at least one mountain community is found reduced to charred rubble. It has, however, been many years since these orcs dared to raid outside their mountain strongholds; some fear they have been building their strength.[1a]
Locations of Interest
The Dukedoms of Bretonnia
- The Dukedom of L'Anguille
- The Dukedom of Aquitaine
- The Dukedom of Artois
- The Dukedom of Bastonne
- The Dukedom of Bordeleaux
- The Dukedom of Brionne
- The Dukedom of Carcassonne
- The Dukedom of Couronne
- The Dukedom of Gisoreux
- The Dukedom of Lyonesse
- The Dukedom of Montfort
- The Dukedom of Parravon
- The Dukedom of Quenelles
Lost and Former Dukedoms
The former Dukedoms of the Kingdom of Bretonnia and other regions of note:
- The Dukedom of Mousillon - After the horrific event known as the Affair of the False Grail, the Dukedom of Mousillon has since gone into regression and poverty, and with the death of Duke Maldred, no duke has since claimed the throne.[1e][2c]
- The Dukedom of Cuileux - A Bretonni Dukedom that was ravaged by war during the Dark Age of Bretonnia. Little is known about the Dukedom save that it was overrun by a horde of greenskins.[1e][2c]
- The Dukedom of Glanborielle - A Bretonni Dukedom that was ravaged by war during the Dark Age of Bretonnia. Little is known about the Dukedom saved that it was overrun by a horde of greenskins.[1e][2c]
Cities of Bretonnia
The Kingdom of Bretonnia is famous for its rural landscape, and lack greatly in the construction of urban environments. However, some of the dukedoms' capitals are cities that were built either as trade-hubs or ports to the sea. Since each duke is also a knight in both duty and status, the capitals of each dukedom are often founded and built upon the remains of ancient Castles that served as the duke's own estate.
- Castle L'Anguille - Castle L'Anguille is the ducal capital of L'Anguille, famous for its ports and bustling trade.
- Castle Aquitaine - Castle Aquitiane is the ducal capital of Aquitiane, famous for the Lace Tower, a tall spire built with so many windows that it looks as though it is made from stone lace.
- Castle Artois - Castle Artois is the ducal capital of Artois, famous for being the only ducal seat with no town outside its heavily fortified walls.
- Castle Bastonne - Castle Bastonne is the ducal capital of Bastonne, famous for being the original capital of Bretonnia and the seat of power of Gilles le Breton, first Royarch of Bretonnia.
- Castle Bordeleaux - Castle Bordeleaux is the ducal capital of Bordeleaux, famous for its port and the grand ring of defences that guards the city from sea-born invaders.
- Castle Brionne - Castle Brionne is the ducal capital of Brionne, famous for its archetypal beauty and a major cultural centre for arts, music, and poetry.
- Castle Carcassonne - Castle Carcassonne is the ducal capital of Carcassonne, famous for being a large mustering field to gather armies against greenskin invaders.
- Castle Couronne - Castle Couronne is the ducal capital of Couronne, famous for being the capital and seat of power of Louen Leoncoeur, current Royarch of Bretonnia.
- Castle Garamont - Castle Garamont is the seat of power for the Castellan of Bastonne, and is thus the main line of defence for the entire dukedom.
- Castle Gisoreux - Castle Gisoreux is the ducal capital of Gisoreux, famous for being a major trading hub and for having a wide variety of traders and travellers stopping in upon their way along the River Grismerie.
- Castle Lyonesse - Castle Lyonesse is the ducal capital of Lyonesse, known for being one of the smallest out of all the ducal capitals.
- Castle Montfort - Castle Montfort is the ducal capital of Montfort, famous for guarding the western approach of Axe Bite Pass, the main trade route between Bretonnia and the Empire.
- Castle Mousillon - Castle Mousillon is the ducal capital of Mousillon, famous for being one of the most cursed places within all of Bretonnia.
- Castle Parravon - Castle Parravon is the ducal capital of Parravon, famous for being carved directly from the rock of the mountain.
- Castle Quenelles - Castle Quenelles is the ducal capital of Quenelles, famous for being at the very borders of Athel Loren itself.
- Larret - Larret is a growing community almost as large as a city, famous for its innovation and acceptance of new ideals and technology.
- Antoch - A mighty fortress-city located on the Gulf of Medes in Araby, Antoch is the greatest of Bretonnia's settlements outside of its own lands.
- Bregonne - A frontier settlement located on the coast of Lustria, near the island of Tlencan. Bregonne was founded by the renowned knightly explorer, Baron Marcel of Parravon.
- Turín - A holy city located in Carcassonne, it is famed for containing the Shroud of Gilles le Breton, an artifact of great religious significance.
Lost and Former Cities
- Marienburg - In 1597 IC Marienburg was seized by a large Bretonnian army under the Duke of L'Anguille. After five years of violent resistance from its inhabitants and with the Empire mustering its forces to aid the city, they were ultimately forced to retreat.
- "That which is sacrosanct I shall preserve... That which is sublime I will protect... That which threatens, I will destroy... For my holy wrath will know no bounds!"
- —The Vow of the Grail Knight.[4g]
The religious spirit of Bretonnia is often as divided as the division between the nobility and peasantry. Within Bretonnian society, the worship of the Lady of the Lake is considered the main religious doctrine. Much of Bretonnian culture is shaped by the actions of the Cult of the Lady, making them a large political power amongst the nobility.[1l] However, unlike the worship of other cults, such as the Cult of Sigmar, where Imperial doctrine claims the allegiance of all the Empire's people, the Cult of the Lady is restricted to the nobility. Although the middle class of freemen commoners are allowed to worship at shrines and temples, they are required to pay a tithe unto the brotherhood maintaining such sites. For the nobility, such tithing is entirely voluntary and the amount dependent upon the noble's generosity. Most tithings are thus made for show and to establish their social status and reputation amongst the peerage.[2r]
The Cult of the Lady is almost entirely restricted to the nobility. Instead, the peasantry often worship the gods of the Old World. The Cult of Ulric has very few followers and even fewer public shrines while the Cult of Myrmidia is growing substantially due to the presence of nearby Estalia. Being a martial god, it is a common theme for peasant soldiers and common militia to revere Myrmidia more than any other deity. The worship of Rhya and Taal is strong amongst farmers, where peasants regularly pray for good weather and a bountiful harvest, to feed their hungry families and to pay the exorbitant tithes and taxes imposed by their lords and masters.
Whilst worship of the Lady is centred on the nobility, the peasants do not ignore her. It is true that most peasants give their primary devotion to other deities. A few peasants, however, are as devoted to the Lady of the Lake as any Grail Knight. As these peasants cannot become Grail Knights or Damsels themselves, they try to be as close as possible to those who have. Damsels of the Lady are more feared than loved by most peasants, and most would drive off any peasants who started following them around, so the vast majority of these peasants join the entourage of a Grail Knight. Such people are known as Grail Pilgrims.
The Cult of Verena is strongest amongst the few scholars that occupy Bretonnian civic society, found exclusively within the ducal capitals and larger trade port towns. It is common knowledge that outlaw vigilante groups such as the Herrimaults, or more commonly known as the Merry Men, make her their patron goddess of justice. The Cult of Morr is especially strong within both the peasantry and nobility alike, for the recurring theme of the dead rising from the graves has ensured the creation of many Gardens of Morr, both to keep the spirits at rest and to contain the dead should they begin to stir. The cult is more feared by the peasantry than worshipped, yet supported as a vitally important and necessary service by the nobility.[1h]
Since the invasion of the kingdom by Heinrich Kemmler, the royal court has patronised and encouraged the formation of fortress Gardens and monasteries dedicated to the guarding of the dead. Amongst the nobility, the black monks and their protectors, the mighty Black Guards, are seen as special protectors of the kingdom, and so although they are mostly trained and sourced from the Cult's central temples within the lands of the Empire, the armoured warriors of these Gardens are given a special royal dispensation for the wearing of plate armour, baring martial arms, and the stone construction and castellation of their monasteries. The largest and strongest of these within Bretonnia can all be found within the lands that border disgraced Mousillon, aiding in the guarding and maintenance of the Sanitaire des Mousillon.[1h]
The Cult of Sigmar is practically non-existent within Bretonnia's heartland, although not discouraged "officially". A high level of noble prejudice and suspicion is attached to any that follows the Cult's teaching. Such worship can being found within small communities of displaced Empire citizens, now living within disputed border territories, and the passes of the Grey Mountains.[1h]
The Cult of the Lady
- "In the west of the Old World lies Bretonnia, a fabled land of honour and virtue, where noble Knights of the Realm keep their domains safe as their peasants till the fields, where Knights Errant strive to win their spurs in battle and where Questing Knights venture in search of the most holy of artefacts - The Grail. For it is said that to sup from this most holy chalice a knight will become more than just a hero, he will become a saint..."
- —The Kingdom of Bretonnia and its fabled Holy Grail.
Revered throughout Bretonnia but almost unknown anywhere else, the Lady of the Lake is the Bretonnian patron goddess of purity, nobility, and courage in the face of danger. She is the romanticised ideal of womanhood, the one fair lady that every knight aspires to love and serve without any doubt or hesitation. Within the minds of many nobles the lady is the very heart and soul of Bretonnia, a mystical elemental incarnation of the land itself and a guardian of all people living within the kingdom. Sacred groves and pools of mystical healing power are her dwelling places, and the magnificent Grail Knights her protectors, devoting themselves to upholding her honour and purity. No base creatures or evildoers can be permitted to profane her sacred sites; this is a duty every knight within Bretonnia, not just Grail Knights, takes very seriously indeed.
The Bretonnian Code of Chivalry is inextricably linked with the Lady of the Lake; as it is she who rewards all honour and virtue, it is the supreme sign of a knight's favour to receive her personal divine blessing, achieved only by drinking from the chalice she carries with her at all times, said to contain the pure and incorruptible life's blood of the Land itself. Throughout Bretonnia, there are many Grail Chapels built upon sites of holy significance, ranging from the most humble roadside shrine, up to the truly grand and beautifully ornate flying buttressed fortress-cathedrals, incorporated into a duke's castle estate.[2r]
It is the sacred duty of all Grail Knights to protect these shrines; often such holy paladins will devote the remainder of their lives to defending the Lady's sacred places. These mighty warriors are best known as Hermit Knights, who willingly spend their remaining years defending the relics housed within such places, or standing vigil over magical items and tomes far too dangerous to be allowed out amongst common, frail-willed, and easily corrupted men.[1l]
Over the centuries, some Grail Chapels have been enlarged as various nobles have rebuilt old chapels or embellished existing shrines. Such chapels, often called Abbeys of the Grail, may contain so many valuable relics that they require defences in the manner of a castle and several Hermit Knights to guard them. In addition, the chapel may attract a small number of female recluses known as Damoiselles du Grail, who seek to devote themselves to the Lady of the Lake.
The Cult of Shallya
The largest and most important religious cult within Bretonnian society, after the Cult of the Lady of course, is the Cult of Shallya. The life of a Bretonnian peasant is extremely hard and the relief brought by the caring and ever merciful Shallya is a most welcoming sight within any village, town, or city. The religious doctrines of Shallya have been known to contradict those of the Lady at times, for while the Lady of the Lake promotes ideals of chivalry and honourable deeds in battle amongst the nobility, the goddess Shallya cares for all people equally and weeps crystal-white tears for the suffering they must endure, wishing only to ease their burden and provide a sense of comfort and relief in an otherwise cruel world. The symbol of the cult is a white dove in flight.[1n]
As many might expect, the Cult is extremely popular within the peasantry and commoners alike, to such an extent that no Bretonnian peasant would ever want to be more than a few hours walk from a shrine dedicated to Shallya. Such is the popularity of Shallya's teachings that even the nobility have taken to endowing small shrines near and even associated with Grail Chapels, in the form of Grail convents, a custom that is rapidly growing in popularity. In fact, the main temple for the Cult of Shallya is now located within Castle Couronne and has the official patronage of the entire royal court and the present king himself.[1n]
A common and growing heresy among peasants and some commoners, is the belief that both Shallya and Varena are merely aspects of the Lady, whom provide comfort for the peasantry and guide the nobility towards their protection. However, such beliefs are ruthlessly suppressed by all agents of the Lady, namely the Bretonnian Inquisition based within Bastonne. Despite many years of vigorous investigation, a repeated reappearance of this heresy is now believed to be a natural weakness of the mind formed within the common and simple folk.[1n]
- "Those Knights who swear fealty to the Lady, and to the King, ride to defend what was and what will be again..."
- —Celeste Vérité, Damsel of the Lady.
The lands of Bretonnia are a feudal, traditional society where peasants and commoners serve noble knights in return for protection, while the knights are bound militarily to serve their lords in return for certain rights, privileges, and landed titles. At the top of this feudal hierarchy is the king. Beneath the kings are the dukes. Beneath them are lesser ranks of nobility such as marquises, earls, viscounts, lords, and knights, all in descending order, the Barons having a special place within the courtly pecking order.
Each of the senior nobles are also master over a number of knights, whom are the lowest noble rank of society. Each knight, including the higher nobles, has a duty to raise his own full-time force of Men-at-Arms, chosen from the most physically able peasants within his domain. In return for serving his knightly lord, each peasant is given a small tract of land to farm for his family and can be expected to be called upon in times of war, to form a peasant militia of archers and pikes, commanded by the highest ranking nobleman present.
The Knights of Bretonnia are divided into four generalised ranking categories;
- Knights Errant - The young sons of noble families must prove themselves in battle to earn their spurs.
- Knights of the Realm - Should they survive to become fully honoured knights, they are granted their own small landed estate to govern, called a knight's fee or tithe, and are obligated to defend that estate and Bretonnia should they be called to muster.[2l]
- Questing Knights - These are brave individuals, revered as the land's most dedicated and selfless heroes. They willingly renounce all titles and worldly possessions, so to journey unto faraway lands, all in hopes of being deemed worthy by the Lady to become a blessed Grail Knight.[2m]
- Grail Knights - These are the most powerful and revered individuals in all of Bretonnia, if not the entire human world, second only to the Lady in influence. They are considered living saints who represent the fearsome might and power of Bretonnia and answer only to the Lady herself; the rightful king of the realm can only be chosen from within their holy order.[2m]
- "Son of the soil, thou art born to labour and to serve, protected by thy betters. Thou shalt give unto thine glorious liege the taxes that he requires. Thou shalt labour all but feast days. And no more than a tenth-share shall you keep for kith and kin. Rejoice! For a Knight of Bretonnia provides your shield."
- —Vows of the Peasants unto their Bretonnian Lord.[1f]
The kingdom is notorious for its oppression of both the commoners and peasants, which most agree is stricter and harsher than those of other Old World nations. This dark side of Bretonnian culture is placed unashamedly out in the open where all nobles and nobility are set high above the peasantry in all ways. Noblemen have all the say in most matters, and Bretonnian peasants often live in far worse conditions than those in the Empire, Tilea, Estalia and perhaps even brutal Kislev in some respects.[1d]
The nobility often disputes these claims, however, pointing to the religious inquisition of the Empire and the atrocities committed by the Witch Hunters. To them, the peasantry have homes to live in and food on their tables. They can marry whomever they want without the concern of politics, and they live under the protection of their lord. They work, they eat, they sleep and they rut. Indeed, this does not sound like a bad life to most Knights Errant who, while appearing brash and dismissive to the serfs, will soon learn to adopt a more solemn and honourable bearing, befitting their sacred role as protectors of the realm.
Nonetheless, the peasants have very few, if any, rights at all, and are kept illiterate and uneducated by law. They are often considered the mere property of their feudal lord, and must surrender nine tenths of their crops each harvest. As a result, most remain extremely poor throughout their entire lives. They may not leave their home estate unless allowed; as a result, a certain degree of inbreeding is quite common. Many peasants are afflicted by clubfoot, extra fingers, lazy eyes, or similar minor defects and mutations. Bretonnian justice is extremely harsh and entirely ruled by superstition; any peasant who is caught stealing or poaching is usually hanged. Far harsher punishment is dealt to any peasant who attacks a noble. He and his entire family will be tortured and slowly dismembered (being drawn and quartered is the preferred method) while all his closest friends and acquaintances will be crippled. Such is the price of rebellion.[1d]
A small but growing middle class of commoners, also referred to as Freemen, make up both the professional trades and merchant class within Bretonnian society. Although literate for the most part they can be either self-taught or instructed by monks, as there are no public schools in Bretonnia. All education is thus done by private arrangement and comes from the many Grail Monasteries for a steep price. Artisans, craftsmen, and skilled semi-professionals live almost exclusively within the kingdom's few cities and numerous larger towns, situated mostly along the kingdom's coasts and rivers.[1i]
They remain socially segregated from the bonded peasants and give fealty unto a lord or landed knight but remain free to move, with permission from local authorities, if their skills are not considered too important to their current master and or community. Intellectuals such as scholars, doctors, and other similar professionals are well-respected for their duties but remain of a lower class than the nobles, usually having about the same rights as a well skilled commoner with money. The ownership of gold jewellery and the hoarding of gold is forbidden to all common classes, forcing merchants to deal almost exclusively in copper and silver. Gold is officially used only amongst the nobility, usually as tax and tithing unto the royal treasury. Any gold received in trade must be declared and handed over to a merchant's noble master, this being done each tithing day, and at an exchange rate that is considered criminal in nearly all other countries.[1i]
The Sumptuary Laws are most strictly applied to this class, with gold and certain gems forbidden to be worn publicly, as is cloth of purple, bright yellow, or green thread, or silk of any colour. Furs are restricted to rabbit, cat, and rat. The use of plate armour is strictly forbidden for the lower classes, as is the carrying of heavy swords or any weapon class above a rapier or light cavalry sabre. Foreign visitors are permitted the use of both armour and heavy weapons upon being issued a licence at the border for a steep price, usually in the form of a bribe to the local petty noble forced to command a frontier castle, either due to dishonourable behaviour or powerful rivals within his duke's court. Such duties are considered highly undesirable as it involves constant dealing with uncultured foreigners, whilst also living isolated from all centres of decent courtly civilisation. Papers must be carried at all times and adventurers can expect to be questioned and considered suspect by any local authorities when travelling beyond Bretonnia's port cities or border settlements.[1k]
Peasants are also encouraged to breed at an alarming rate. This ensures that there will always be hordes of lowborn warriors to throw at Bretonnia's enemies, and plenty of farmers and craftsmen to support the kingdom's infrastructure.
- "Rejoice, peasants! For a generous Knight of Bretonnia provides for you!"
- —The Charity of the Nobility.
Naturally, in a feudal society such as Bretonnia, peasant handouts are extremely rare, so when they do occur, they have a profound effect. Knights typically never share their riches with the low-born, be it battle-loot or the profits of his peasants ceaseless labour.
As soon as a child exhibits strange powers, before it is killed by superstitious peasants, the Fay Enchantress, representative of the divine Lady of the Lake, will pay it a midnight visit. At least that is the common explanation for the sudden disappearance of such pro�digious children. They are thought to be spirited away to a mystical otherworld, and are mourned as dead by their relations. However, years later, girls thus taken often return as mysteriously as they left. Boys never come back.[16a]
These ‘damsels’ or ‘prophetesses’ never speak of their experiences, but their time away changes them irrevocably, and grants them powers which they use for the benefi t of Bretonnia, healing the sick and needy, protecting valorous knights in battle, or commanding the earth and waters sacred to the Lady of the Lake to devastate those who seek to harm the land. Damsels are much sought after by dukes and barons for their wise counsel, as their wisdom belies their apparent youth, and they can detect falsehood lurking in a man’s heart, however sly he may be.[16a]
The common folk adore and worship the damsels as though they were the living embodiments of the Lady of the Lake. However, they are in terror of foreign men and women who openly display magical powers, believing that they are not humans but change�lings, whose souls have been stolen at birth by malignant daemons.[16a]
This fear sometimes manifests as a hysterical lynch mob. Breton�nian peasants hold all elves in fearful awe as wizards of great power, and do all they can to placate them with ‘valuable’ off erings (usually curiously-shaped turnips or other worthless vegetables).[16a]
The nobility, or at least those among them who have some edu�cation, do not share these ridiculous beliefs, or at the very least pretend not to do so.[16a]
Bretonnia has borders with most nations of the Old World, meaning it must find some way to live with them.[1q]
- "My father’s father’s father was a Knight Errant of Bretonnia. Our family upholds the honour of true nobility, unlike some here."
- —Lord Bastond of Rushwater, Border Prince[1q]
Many of the Border Princes are descended from Bretonnian knights who fought in King Charlen’s Errantry War against the Greenskins, a war that lasted 68 years and ended only 34 years ago. These knights did not leave in disgrace, and some still owe fealty to nobles back in Bretonnia, though given the barrier of The Vaults, this is almost purely notional.
The Bretonnian Border Princes tend to see themselves as Bretonnian and as maintaining honour, as opposed to the opportunists who make up the other petty princedoms. This has made Bretonnians in general unpopular with all the other inhabitants of the region.
- "They eat live frogs, make beer that tastes as if it’s been drunk once already, and ponce about on horses rather than using guns. Still, the wine is good."
- —Thomas of Helmgart, mercenary[1q]
Bretonnia’s relations with the Empire are the most important and currently better than they have been for decades. King Louen Leoncoeur declared an Errantry War to assist the Empire against the hordes of Archaon, and the Emperor is still grateful. However, the two nations have very different personalities, and the Empire’s greater age leads it to look down on Bretonnia. In return, the Bretonnians can see little nobility in the Empire, even among those who claim to be noble.
- "Look down on their lack of technique if you must, but a lance of Bretonnian knights is still a formidable force on the field of battle. Their matters of honour do get out of hand, though."
- —Diego Cortez y Maranda, Diestro[1q]
Bretonnia’s border with the Estalian kingdom of Bilbali is a mere river. The consequence is that there is almost as much traffic with Estalia as with the Empire, despite the Empire’s far greater size. Relations with Bilbali are good, and Bretonnian nobles recognise Bilbalian nobles as peers. As a result, relations with Magritta are generally bad, and most Bretonnians regard the southern kingdom as composed entirely of peasants. Bretonnian knights and Estalian duellists have very little understanding of one another’s fighting styles, and this incomprehension is responsible for much of the tension between the nations.
- "Puffed up snobs relying purely on the achievements of their fathers! What have they done? Nothing! And they call me a peasant!"
- —Ricardo of Trantio, merchant[1q]
The Tileans have remarkably few dealings with Bretonnia. Bretonnians never hire mercenaries (officially), and merchants have such low status in the country that Tileans prefer to trade with the Bretonnians who come to them. As a result, stereotypes and prejudice are rife. To the Tileans, Bretonnians are either stupid nobles who need to be told which end of their horse to face, or they’re peasants so blighted as to be barely Human. To the Bretonnians, Tileans are all either thieves posing as merchants or murderers selling their services to the highest bidder whilst claiming to be warriors.[1q]
- "Why swap an Emperor for a King?"
- —Marienburger saying[1q]
The Bretonnians would like to incorporate The Wasteland into their kingdom, as long as they can do so without offending the Empire. The boundary between the Marches of Couronne and the Wasteland is ill defined, and Adalbert, Marquis of Couronne, would dearly like to add Marienburg to his realm and petition for the status of a Dukedom. Dukes Folcard of Montfort and Hagen of Gisoreux also cast acquisitive eyes northwards, though the Grey Mountains make any conquest harder for them. The Marienburgers are aware of these ambitions and normally play the Empire and Bretonnia against one another. The weakened state of the Empire has led them to strengthen their own forces, mainly by hiring Tilean mercenaries.
- "Does war visit fair Bretonnia this day? It is no longer enough for the Dukes to sit idle. It is time for the flower of Bretonnia to unfurl and reveal its thorns! Like the Grail Companions of old, the Dukedoms of Bretonnia will unite under the banner of their King. Let their enemies feel lance-tip and blessed sword. Now is the age of chivalry and greatness! Now is the age of blood and battle!"
- —The pinnacle of mortal chivalry.
The Knights of Bretonnia are feared and respected throughout the known world. Men of valour and honour, they are exceptional warriors and guardians who protect a land founded upon the most heroic of ideals. In the name of the Lady of the Lake and for the glory of the dukes and king, they sweep aside evil on the field of battle, for none can stand against their glorious charge.[4a]
The Bretonnian military are a powerful army formed around a core of brave knights supported by scores of low-born peasants. They are a warlike and valiant people who willingly seek out battles as a way of securing personal honour and pride. Any who invade their domains face the fury of their powerful knights and few foes can match them on open ground. The knights range from the youngest Knights Errant, eager to prove their worth, through the Knights of the Realm, defenders of the land. Rarer still are the Questing Knights, wandering warriors engaged in a quest for the Grail. And then there are the legendary Grail Knights themselves, who have succeeded in their quest and sipped from their goddess's Grail, becoming imbued with fey power and longevity. Riding into war atop the finest steeds, from mighty Warhorses to soaring Pegasi and roaring Hippogryphs, the Knights of Bretonnia are warriors with few equals.[4a]
One important aspect that defines Bretonnian military is that, unlike the professional State Troops of the Empire, Bretonnia has no standing army. Instead, the Kingdom relies on the long and complicated feudal service of her knights. When a lord must go to war against the enemy, he appeals to the military assistance of his vassals. They in turn take the long process of summoning their own vassals to his banner, with most knights taking with them local peasants drilled in basic ranked pike combat or archery. These armies do not follow common military training and usually have no internal hierarchy, but their military tactics are simple and homogeneous enough to function smoothly in all circumstances, units being formed and reformed on the fly or at need during an extended campaign. Due to feudal law, the Bretonnian military is well known to shun advanced weaponry such as handguns, cannons, and most war machines, seeing them all as dishonourable weapons that go against the ideals of chivalry and the will of their patron, the Lady of the Lake.[4a][1h]
On the field of battle, the ultimate and most glorious goal of any Bretonnian army is to run down their foe with lance, sword, and the iron-shod hooves of their mighty knights. Such an approach to warfare has lead the Bretonnians to almost always follow a strategic tactic known simply as the "Hammer and Anvil". The peasants' role is to support the knights by peppering the foe with arrows and to crew the mighty trebuchets. Regiments of men-at-arms march into battle to protect and hold the line as the “Anvil”. Finally, it is the Knights who come charging through the field of battle, crushing their foes from the flank or rear as they essentially become the killing "Hammer". Protected by the Lady and her blessings, these Knights blaze through firestorms of lead and arrows and crush their foes, earning glory, honour, and most of all, to uphold the values of chivalry.[4a][4e]
The Unification of Bretonnia
- "One people, one land – all shall know its glory and grandeur."
- —Bretonnia United.
When the fourteen standards of Bretonnia come together, it is one of the most majestic displays of unity in the Old World. Gilles le Breton could not have achieved the unification of the Kingdom without the divine Blessing of the Lady and the other Companions, the first dukes of Bretonnia. When the greatest Knights across the fourteen Dukedoms come together to fight as one, as they did on the day of the final Great Battle, it is truly a sight to behold. It is an inspiring show of solidarity, earning respect of both men and Dwarfs alike.
- Peasant Mobs - The lowliest units in a Bretonnian army. To make their numbers count, peasants are ordered into huddled units on the battlefield, which makes up for their lack of training and skill.
- Peasant Bowmen - Commoners that are not fit to join the men-at-arms companies are often press-ganged at need into military service as basic support units. As such, archers are a common and readily formed unit within most Bretonnian armies as all peasants and commoners within Bretonnia are required to maintain a proficiency with the bow. Their willingness is reinforced by the promised bounty of a single copper coin for any who survive the campaign, an exception from tithing and the right to loot the enemy fallen, which is to any peasant a potential princely fortune. Unfortunately, as with most Bretonnian infantry units, these men aren't very reliable soldiers.[2g]
- Men-at-Arms - The basic front-line infantry that comprises most Bretonnian armies. These men have been chosen from a very young age to be trained and equipped with basic weaponry and gear and fight on the behalf of their lord. Wearing mostly chainmail armour, these reluctant but adequate soldiers are responsible for defending a noble master's castle, or holding the line against the enemy with shield and spear, whilst the knights upon their mighty warhorses attack from the flanks and bring victory.[2g]
- Grail Pilgrims - Though not considered an official part of Bretonnian armies, these "pilgrims" are either feral peasants or fanatic and pious followers of the Grail Brotherhoods, all of whom believe zealously in the holiness of their chosen Grail Knight. They will flock in their dozens to join and bask in their master's reflected glory. Equipped with the discarded weapons and armour of the Grail Knight, and whatever handmade items they can craft for themselves, these units provide a Bretonnian army with a much more reliable source of stalwart, near unbreakable shock infantry, and sacrificial arrow fodder.
- Battle Pilgrims - As a result of their long service, Battle Pilgrims have become competent fighters. In most cases, they have also become even more fervent admirers of their Grail Knight and worshippers of the Lady of the Lake, having seen what the flower of Bretonnian chivalry is truly capable of.
- Foot Squires - The peasant-elite, selected from the youngest and fittest of Bretonnia's lowborn. Foot Squires are equipped to the highest standards and trained to act as personal retainers for their lords. Many are also bastards, illegitimate sons born of both noble and peasant blood.
- Foot Knights - Among the best infantry Bretonnia can bring to bear. On the battlefield, there is one thing more than the presence of the Yeoman that makes Men-at-Arms swell with pride and push their fear deep within, and that is when the noble Knights of the Realm are standing alongside them. It is an honour, and they cannot fail in their duty, for it would be a fate worse than death to quake in fear in front of such brave warriors. Surely, as long as the regal Knights stand against their foes, they will hold.
- Hermit Knights - Grail Knights can seem almost immortal, but they will eventually start to age and die. Those who are nearing the end of their lives often become Hermit Knights, guarding Grail Chapels and the powerful relics housed within. It is the Hermit Knights who allow the ancient weapons of their Chapels to be taken up in times of need, and they who offer advice and wisdom to those knights who still seek the Grail. Some Hermit Knights are served by a retinue of lesser knights and Paladins, who assist them in defending their sacred charge.
- Yeoman - These experienced soldiers provide the Bretonnian army with dedicated skirmishers or fast light cavalry and scouts. Grizzled veterans, they have fought and survived many battles with only their skill in arms and unwavering bravery. Such is their combat experience that yeomen are almost as skilled as any Knight of the Realm, but such a boast is often ignored and even suppressed by the nobility. When promoted to the rank of a yeomen, these men are often divided between mounted scout yeomanry or becoming serjeants within a men-at-arms company.
- Knights Errant - These young nobles are the lowest ranking members of most Bretonnian cavalry squadrons as well as being within the hierarchy of Bretonnian nobility. In the prime of youth, these ill-experienced but highly enthusiastic warriors comprise a significant portion of many armies on the field of battle. Fighting on horseback, these knights often engage the best enemy regiments in their eagerness to earn the title of a Knight of the Realm.[2e]
- Knights of the Realm - These knights are the backbone of nearly all Bretonnian armies and as such, they are the most common members of the ruling elite. They have distinguished themselves in errantry and have thus received a fief or a position of power within noble society. They are expected to honour and defend their lords and kingdom from the depredation of all those that seek to destroy it, fighting on horseback, with lance in hand and their unwavering faith in the Lady of the Lake.[2l][2f]
- Pegasus Knights - Unlike traditional mounted warriors, those knights that can tame and ride the mighty pegasus into battle are warriors without equal. Flying across the battlefield with wings of angelic appearance, Pegasus Knights take to the sky and fight the flying monstrosities the enemy has unleashed upon them with lance and sword.
- Questing Knights - These knights are those nobles who are seeking the attention of their patron goddess, the Lady of the Lake, in hopes of acquiring her blessing as a means to obtain the status of a Grail Knight. Living a solitary existence, these men strive to prove themselves to the Lady, performing good deeds, slaying foul beasts, and aiding the armies of Bretonnia when in times of peril.[2h][2h]
- Sons of Bretonnia - These mysterious knights act as the Lady's personal courtiers and servants. They were once young male nobles, taken from their parents as children for exhibiting magical abilities.
- Grail Knights - These mighty knights represent the very pinnacle of Bretonnian chivalry, honour, and bravery. Those Questing Knights who have drunk from the Holy Grail are blessed with the powers of the Lady and have thus been proven worthy to become Grail Knights. To obtain the position of a Grail Knight is the ultimate goal for all knights, and to become one is to be the very embodiment of a holy warrior. It is said that the Grail Knights are the greatest of mankind's warriors to walk the earth.[2h][2i]
- Grail Guardians - The Fay Enchantress is one of the most revered and respected figures in all of Bretonnia. As is fitting of someone who speaks with the voice of the Lady, she is accompanied at all times by a retinue of Knights who defend her to the death. These men, selected from among the very best of the Grail Knights, are warriors par excellence, striking down the enemies of Bretonnia with shining blades of justice. Though rumours abound that the Fay Enchantress is none other than the Lady herself, and therefore requiring no earthly protectors, the Grail Guardians care not and defend their charge all the same.
- Royal Pegasus Knights - Greater than regular Pegasus Knights in every way, these are Grail Knights who bear the King's Royal Insignia, entrusting them with powerful Royal Pegasi. The rarest of all steeds, only the most noble of Bretonnians can ride these dignified, sophisticated creatures into battle, acting as devastating aerial fighters who bring holy wrath from above.
- Royal Hippogryph Knights - Bearing the King's Royal Insignia, these are Grail Knights who have captured and tamed ferocious Hippogryphs. Riding into war atop these mighty creatures, they are an all but unstoppable force. Combining superhuman skill with bestial fury, they destroy their enemies with giant talon and blessed lance, causing fear and panic in their wake.
- Trebuchet - Immense siege engines used to lob large projectiles at enemy formations from a safe distance. The machine itself can vary greatly in design, and the projectiles thrown can range in weight from a cannonball-sized rock up to something as large as a peasant's hovel. Due to its reputation as a dishonourable weapon and the lack of any proper education amongst the common people, only a handful of craftsmen have the skills and knowledge to build such expensive and time-consuming devices. Thus with only a finite number of engineers available for hire and no consistent quality or qualifications amongst them, trebuchets are usually scratch-built onsite using whatever materials lay at hand, and are then stripped down again for scrap with only the valuable iron-forged parts travelling from siege to siege along with the hired engineer that forged them.
- Blessed Trebuchet - These trebuchets are made at dedicated facilities, where Bretonnia's master carpenters work to bring these devastating machines to war. They are crafted from the holy ruins of Grail Chapels, and hurl thrice-blessed stones at the enemy, crushing them with devout fury.
- Bretonnian Lord - These are powerful knights whose deeds are recounted throughout the lands, warriors unparalleled in combat and stout followers of the Codes of Chivalry. The ranks of the Bretonnian Lords include mighty Earls, Barons, and even the Dukes that occupy much of the higher nobility. Proud and powerful warriors all, Bretonnian Lords are excellent warrior-generals.
- Prophetess of the Lady - The most favoured devotees of the Lady are those whom have served their divine mistress faithfully for much of their lives. They are highly potent spellcasters and their magic can dramatically affect the outcome of any battle. Their magic is elemental in nature, controlling air and water, plants and animals, calling down raging storms, thick cloaking mists, and mighty bolts of lightning.
- Grail Damsel - Lesser servants of the Lady not as long in service as a Prophetess. They specialise in protective wardings, purifications, healing, and the dispelling of hostile magic, coming to the aid of armies and questing knights at need. Moving always from place to place at the Lady's will so as to root out evil and corruption, whilst hunting down potentially gifted children and guiding heroes to holy sites in need of protection.
- Paladin - Powerful warriors renowned throughout Bretonnia for their chivalry and feats of arms in combat against all evil, as respected and noble as a knight can become without the Grail's blessing. Many of them are highly ranked nobles, holding titles such as Earl or Baron, while others hold warrior titles such as Knight Marshal or Knight Warden. They are legendary heroic fighters as well as natural leaders for any army.
- The Green Knight - Legend states that this may be Gilles le Breton himself, eternally serving his Lady and awaiting the time he may be needed to defend the kingdom again. He appears only in times of the greatest need so as to aid the king or a fellow Grail Knight in battle. His primary duty seems to be offering the final test of worthiness unto a questing knight: he will appear and challenge a knight when the Lady deems him ready. If the knight then defeats him in single combat or simply passes a test of either courage or chivalry, the Lady will then manifest and grant her new hero a blessing from the Holy Grail itself.
- The Fay Enchantress - This individual is the living voice of the Lady of the Lake, the mightiest sorceress within the kingdom. Often seen within the company of the mystical Green Knight, she travels the land aiding questing knights and giving spiritual and magical aid and advice to the king and varied dukes. Her primary duty is to select and proclaim the next rightful King of Bretonnia from amongst the brotherhood order of Grail Knights. It is uncertain whether she is an immortal as all the legends claim or is simply replaced by the next most powerful prophetess when her time is done.
- Louen Leoncoeur - "The Lionhearted" is the Duke of Couronne, one of the mighty Grail Knights and the penultimate warrior King of Bretonnia. Louen took the Questing Vow when he was a young prince. He travelled across the realm of Bretonnia and into lands beyond, displaying such courage and honour that he earned the epithet Leoncoeur or "lion-hearted." Louen travelled for years, searching for the Grail. He had met with prophets and ghosts alike on his travels, survived battles against dragons and daemons in his attempts to win the Lady's favour, even fighting alongside the Green Knight at one point.
- Calard of Garamont - A mighty Grail Knight who rules as both Lord of Garamont and Castellan of Bastonne. Calard became renowned after saving Bretonnia from an army of undead, slaying the Vampire Duke of Mousillon, Merovech the Butcher. Over half a century since that fateful day, Calard's many heroic deeds are now recounted across the length and breadth of Bretonnia.
- Alberic of Bordeleaux - The current Duke of Bordeleaux. He is renowned for his personal courage and astounding self-discipline. He is also notorious for expecting all of his household knights to reach the same standard and for dismissing those who do not. As a result, he has the smallest household of any of the dukes, but the knights there are some of the greatest in the realm.
- Bohemond Beastslayer - The current Duke of Bastonne, Bohemond is a mighty Grail Knight and a direct descendant of Gilles le Breton himself. He is renowned for fighting monsters, to the point that he is known as the “Beastslayer.” He is also famous for refusing to fight inferior opponents; even if they attack him, he merely stuns them so that he can turn his attention elsewhere. As his prowess has grown, the search for worthy foes has taken him to many places within Bretonnia and beyond.
- Amalric of Gaudaron - Renowned as the "Bane of the Undead," Sir Amalric of Gaudaron Keep is one of the Lady's most favoured champions. A member of King Louen's royal court in Couronne, he famously assisted the Wood Elves of Athel Loren in repelling the undead hordes of Heinrich Kemmler.
- Repanse de Lyonesse - Originally a humble and devoutly religious shepherdess, Repanse would go on to become one of the most renowned heroes in Bretonnian history. Taking up the arms and armour of a fallen knight, and with the divine blessing of the Lady, Repanse rallied the armies of Lyonesse into defeating a massive Chaos invasion.
- The Red Duke - Known as the "Scourge of Aquitaine," the Red Duke is the former Duke of Aquitaine. Having been assassinated in a dramatic betrayal by other nobles during the Crusades, the Red Duke arose as a powerful blood knight after accepting the Blood Kiss from Abhorash.
- Bertrand the Brigand - Bertrand leads the famed "Bowmen of Bergerac," which includes Hugo le Petit and Gui le Gros. He was originally an upstart ploughman who challenged the taxes levied onto him by a corrupt noble. After saving his village from the predation of Orcs, Bertrand took to living by his wits in the woods along with his band of merry longbowmen. Amongst the nobility of Bretonnia, roughly half of them think that Bertrand is a hero, the rest think that he is a scoundrel and outlaw.
- Reolus - Reolus was a legendary Grail Knight, a veteran of countless battles whose skill with a blade bordered on the sublime. Considered virtually invincible by his comrades, he was idolised throughout Bretonnia, with young Knights Errant being brought up on tales of his exploits, hoping that they too could one day achieve such renown.
- The Hermit Knight of Malmont - The lone Hermit of Malmont is perhaps the greatest of Bretonnia's Hermit Knights - mighty Grail Knights who are nearing the end of their long lives, spending their final years guarding sacred chapels.
- 1: Knights of the Grail (2nd Edition Fantasy Roleplay)
- 2: Armybook: Bretonnia (5th Edition)
- 3: End Times: Nagash (Volume I)
- 3a: pg. 37 - 39
- 4: Armybook: Bretonnia (6th Edition)
- 5: Knights of Bretonnia (Omnibus) by Anthony Reynolds
- 6: Hammer and Bolter: The Court Beneath, Issue 25
- 7: Total War: Warhammer
- 8: Warhammer: Duty and Honour (Short Story)
- 9: White Dwarf 202 (Aus), pg. 55-57
- 10: White Dwarf 203 (Aus) pg. 8-16
- 11: Mordheim - Bretonnian Warbands
- 12: Armybook: Wood Elves (5th Edition), pg 35
- 13: Man O' War: Raging Sea Battles in the World of Warhammer
- 14: Marienburg: Sold Down the River (Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay)
- 15: Warhammer Fantasy Rulebook (7th Edition), pg 151
- 16: The Winds of Magic - Advanced Magic & Wizardry
- 16a: pg. 25