The House of Leopold
We all mourn the loss of the Haverstaad line, whose noble members brought great prosperity to not only Brisburgh, but to Brisland as a whole. My cousin Gerald was akin to a brother to me, and I swear that the Leopold family name shall honor his memory and that of all the Haverstaads. The eagle shall keep watch over the lion's den. King Wilhelm Leopold I, at his coronation ceremony.
Since 723 I.R., the Leopold family has ruled over the Kingdom of Brisland and held the seat of the Duchy of Brisburgh. They are the second dynasty of the Kingdom; following the Haverstaad dynasty, who were the founders of both the Kingdom of Brisburgh and later unified the various powers of the region into the Kingdom of Brisland. The crest of the Leopold family is that of a black eagle on a field of gold. When Wilhelm Leopold I took the throne, he dictated that the family crest of the Haverstaads would remain the official crest of Brisland - that of a golden lion's head on a field of blue. Since then, and inspired by the words of his heartfelt coronation address, the family motto of the Leopolds has been the eagle watches over the lion.
In addition to holding the crown of the Kingdom of Brisland, the Leopold family's reach extends rather far. They control a number of trading companies with extensive caravan networks and even reach across the sea with an impressive fleet of family-owned trading vessels.
While the Leopold name might not show up often enough to tell the true story, much of the nobility in the kingdom is closely related to the King's family. Very close cousins control the towns of Lanston and Wesford within the Duchy of Brisburgh. The Leopold family has also held control over the Duchy of Northampton off and on for several centuries, and the King's own uncle - Faustus Leopold - now holds the title of Duke there.
For most of its history, the Haverstaad family ruled over the Duchy of Brisburgh and the Kingdom of Brisland. In fact it was Benalas Haverstaad II who proceeded over the Unification in 415 I.R., and he was able to trace a lineage back to the founding days of the Kingdom of Brisburgh almost six hundred years prior to that great accomplishment. It is no wonder that the passing of Gerald Haverstaad in 723 I.R. with no clear heir brought dismay and fear down upon the people of the kingdom. A terrible pox had run rampant across the southern lands and had decimated every family from the poorest swineherd to the royal family itself. As a result, all of Gerald's brothers, sons, and nephews were dead. The decade-long time of disease, famine, and death was known simply as The Pox; and it was a dark time indeed for the kingdom.
Prior to taking over the throne of Brisland, the Leopold family were an important and influential force in and around the city of Brisburgh. Their origins are shadowed in the past, but the earliest family records show that they built their fortune of both coin and power as a major trading family in the early days of the Kingdom of Brisburgh. Negotiating deals with not only nearby settlements, but with neighbors as far as Riverton and Northampton, the Leopolds were central in establishing the first long-range trade caravans in the southern plains.
If you see wagons under armed guard, chances are a Leopold owns it. Common maxim, circa 350 I.R.
As a result of this trade network, the Leopolds were also the first to advocate the building of a system of roads connecting the various pre-unification kingdoms - something that would turn out to be vital in the transition of the widespread territory into a unified kingdom. As they grew in power and wealth, the Leopolds eventually were among the first families to form the foundation of the current peerage system. Leopold ancestors were among the first entitled lords in Brisburgh, and eventually were granted lands of their own near the city. Through several generations of close relations with the Haverstaads - including a number of marriages between the two families - the Leopolds became the closest living relatives of the Haverstaads at the time of The Pox. This, of course, is what eventually lead them to becoming the de-facto ruling family of the kingdom just over a century ago.
Notable Living Family Members
Francis Leopold III
King Francis Leopold III is the ruler of the kingdom of Brisland and the duchy of Brisburgh. He is a fair and benevolent ruler, although he is less interested in the day-to-day affairs of the kingdom than he is in more entertaining diversions such as reading, horseback riding, hunting, and the games-militant. Francis was born in 798 I.R. to Francis Leopold II and his wife Lizbeth. He was the middle of three sons, and therefore was not in line to inherit the crown. After his older brother died of an illness, he found himself in line for the throne. When his father passed away in 842 I.R., he took over as King of Brisland. Francis III took his own wife in 830 I.R., marrying Glenda Bartledge, daughter Duke Elias Bartledge of Riverton. Thus far they have had three children: a son - Sebastian - born in 832 I.R., a daughter - Helene - born in 834 I.R., and another daughter - Marissa - born in 838 I.R.
Faustus "The Crow" Leopold
Faustus Leopold is the uncle of King Francis Leopold III and duke of Northampton. He was born eighteen years after his older brother, the late king Francis Leopold II, to the second wife of their father - who was quite younger than her husband. When the former Duke of Northampton died without leaving a male heir, Francis II appointed his brother as the new Duke. Faustus quickly established himself as a firm ruler of the duchy that had in recent years become something of a thorn in the side of the kingdom. Production shortfalls, tax collection issues, and the morale of the peasantry were all concerns that Faustus set about correcting with an iron fist. Although many people look upon him with spite, he has turned what was once an inefficient burden on the kingdom's economy into an example of economic success.
Jocham "The White Wolf" Bargas
Following the end of The Kingslayer Rebellion, Pavish Leopold and his son Nathan fled from the kingdom and took refuge in the Principality of Remaria. In Remaria, Nathan Leopold's name was changed to Nathan Bargas. He later married Glenda Verhest, daughter of the Count of Borvalem, in 806 I.R. The count died without a male heir, and Nathan took over the title by right of marriage in 813 I.R. His own son, Jocham Bargas, inherited the title of Count of Borvalem in 836 I.R. and still holds this position in 850 I.R. As a direct descendant of King Rikard Leopold, he or his descendants could possibly contest right to the throne of Brisland. His true identity is still a close-held secret known only to a few trusted acquaintances. The true fate of Pavish and his heirs remains a mystery within the borders of Brisland.
The eagle watches over the lion.
The Leopold Legacy
In the 127 years since the Leopold family took the throne, the Kingdom has known a time of relative peace - with the exception of The Kingslayer Rebellion. The Leopolds have been generally regarded as fair rulers, if not always kind. There seems to have always been a dichotomy within the family between benevolent - but absent - figureheads and those who rule with an iron fist. The current king, Francis Leopold III, is commonly considered one of the former but still loved by the common people; while his uncle Faustus Leopold - the Duke of the Duchy of Northampton - is considered the latter, and generally reviled.
Yeah, they're decent enough folk. The King seems to care about the people. His pa was a good one, too. His uncle, up in Northampton, is another story. That man is a right bastard, that one is. Overheard in a tavern in Gerald's Crossing.
For all their failings, the Leopold family has generally been well-liked by the people and respected by both the nobles of the Kingdom and by the rulers of neighboring lands. They hold to the rule of law as it was laid down by the Haverstaad dynasty, and what little they have changed of the laws over their reign has been with the support of the nobility and executed through established protocols. Much of what they have accomplished over the last century has included improvements to the Kingdom's trade economy, improved relations with the Western Realms - most notably the Mardhelm Empire, and systems of agricultural surplus preservation and redistribution to prevent famines such as that which took place after The Pox decimated the land.
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