Braelean Hedge Wars Military Conflict in Wyrion | World Anvil

Braelean Hedge Wars

Historical Overview

 

Background

  The Blossom Fields, the eastern third of the Vinelands, had been ruled by House Braelea since the misty days of legend in the early Age of Rule. Their founding, cloaked in myth, including a visit by Vestria, made House Braelea a well-respected and popular ruler, with unquestionable legitimacy. Their tight control over the wine exports of the region, and close ties with the major House Thewisy of the Eastmarches, made their rule almost unassailable.    
"The banner of my family came tumbling down last week, says messengers who have began trickling south. I am to be the last of our line, as my kin were butchered by those who's oaths our lords once held, the detestable purveyors of sellswords, lowly hawkers of coin, those ill-bred Semillons." - Guy d'Aimonne, Chronicles of Guy d'Aimonne
  The loyalty afforded to them by their vassals did not extend, however, to House Semillon. A wealthy, if small, minor house, Semillon made their name through having one of the few standing militaries of the Age of Rule. The highly professional Free Company was rented to houses from the Vestral Downs to the Eastmarches, facilitating wars amongst minor houses for profit. With a glut of money, and their own skilled military force, House Semillon seized on an opportunity to take the Blossom Fields from their overlords, capitalizing on growing discontent with wine export rules.  

The Raymontale

  While the Fall of House Braelea, also known as the 1st Semillon Usurpation War, is a separate conflict from the Hedge Wars which followed, the flight of Raymon II Braelea from Surlee set the tone for the future conflict.   The Raymontale, tale being to flee in New Anharan, was the mad dash for freedom of the Lord Braelea and his family. While the attacking Free Company was bogged down battling House Aimonne and other defenders across the city, it was clear that the fight was lost. Loyal guards, managing the smuggle the family of Lord Braelea out of the besieged Terracetop, met up with him as he fought in the streets.  
"The messenger told me much of the city's lower districts were damaged greatly in the siege, and I pray for those who remained loyal to our houses, and will surely now be deprived of their own by a new regime." - Guy d'Aimonne, Chronicles of Guy d'Aimonne
  To sneak past the enemy lines, Lord Raymon, his wife Elise Thewisy , and his three children traveled in disguise, with a handful of guards, along what is now the Raymontale Road towards Caer Semillon. Not only was traveling past their enemy's seat the quickest way to safety, but the Free Company had mustered their full numbers to assault Surlee, leaving Caer Semillon devoid of fighting men. Passing through the lands of House Semillon, the ragged company made it briefly to safety in Septhearth, one of the wealthiest settlements in the Blossom Fields.   Septhearth, held by House Cyrton, was staunchly loyal to House Braelea and sheltered the family briefly. However, they had few men, as in the early Age of Rule houses maintained only a small standing company for short notice. As such, they could not shelter the Braeleas long, and sent them south with half the company of household guards towards the Braelea fortress of Surlee Rock.   Fleeing south to Surlee Rock, the Braelea band was now being actively hunted, and encountered a party of Free Company soldiers on the shore of the Basselac. Here the first casualties of the Hedge Wars fell, as a dozen guards were killed defending the party as they crossed the lake by boat. Along the opposite shore, following the Ciderwinde Strip to Surlee Rock, was fought a continual rearguard until they reached the safety of the castle.  

Siege of Surlee Rock

  Held by House Braehill, a cadet branch of House Braelea, Surlee Rock allowed the lords of the Blossom Fields to control the southern portion of their domains, separated from the rest by the Timber. Sitting at the first bend in the river, Surlee Rock was at the time a stone shell keep fortification atop a rocky hill, insurmountable on each side but the southern. It offered a near-perfect escape for the Braelea family.   Here the family was sheltered for almost a week by their cousins in House Braehill, and used the time to plan their next steps. It was clear that despite the defensible position of the fortress, it would be unwise to leave, if not all the Braeleas, the women and children there. Thus, Lady Elise would take the family to seek shelter and military aid from her brother, the Lord Thewisy. These plans were forced into effect by the arrival on the Timber of an armada of ships from House Reed.  
"'Twas that a band o' farmers I saw,
late to the market in Somae?'
'Nae, too noble their guise by far,
'twas none but our lord and lady.'
'Where hurry they all battered and sore,
carrying no banner as sign?'
'South to the crimson halls, I suspect
over the Timber and Twine.'"
- A few lines from "Raymon's Rush," a Braelea Loyalist Song
  Lords of the Winerun, the next region of the Vinelands over from the Blossom Fields, House Reed was then one of the wealthiest houses in Anhara, as they are to the present day. From their seat at Reedbury they controlled trade along the Cooper River, Lake Salis, and all its tributaries, as well as being able to field a sizeable naval force. However, much of their growth in trading power was bankrolled by loans and military assistance from House Semillon, which placed House Reed subtly on their side in the battle for the Blossom Fields.   Disembarking on the banks of the Timber, House Reed requested House Braehill surrender the Braelea family for safe transport north, to appeal to their mutual lords, and lords of all the Vinelands, House Salis. However, before they could even make their request, the entire Braelea family had begun their flight south to the Eastmarches. Covering their rear, House Braehill settled in for what they knew would be a lost cause, as House Reed would quickly move to block the Twine River, and prevent House Thewisy from relieving the siege in time. The defenders were proved correct, as the Rock fell after three weeks, though some survivors managed to filter down to Somae.  

Alainic Uprisings

  While Raymon and Etien Braelea are placed high in the pantheon of Vinelands heroes and celebrated frequently across the Blossom Fields, the Braelea claimant between them is less often discussed. Alain III Braelea was a child of sixteen when he was smuggled out of his home in Surlee during the siege by House Semillon, embarking on a harrowing journey through the wilderness to Somae. When his father died, he assumed his title, still a teenager in a strange land. With the title, Alain inherited the struggle to reclaim his home.  
"His choice of field was sound, his martial prowess true to his bloodline, but luck was not on his side. For the deaths of his men, he punished himself by turning his back on his Braelea nature." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ , Blood Red Blossoms
  However, after early attempts known as Alain's Forages, only one of which actually saw him take the field, Alain Braelea deferred to covertly coordinated uprisings rather than military action. Gaining a reputation for cowardliness, he grew corpulent from the generosity of his uncle's court and fell victim to the hive of scheming that was the Braelea Palace in Somae. Mockingly referred to as His Rotundity or the Yellow Bell, Alain's reputation suffered in his day, both abroad and with the common folk of the Blossom Fields. However, later scholars of the Vinelands, particularly his son's biographer Sir Rys Thewisy, came to view him as a tragic figure.  

Alain's Forages

  While the uprisings durings Alain's time are referred to as Alain's Forages, only one featured Alain Braelea himself. Alain spent the first few years of his reign ready to fight, and attempting to negotiate with House Thewisy over a timetable. However, while Pelain III Thewisy was eager for battle, a significant portion of his court delayed and resisted. Frustrated, Alain took the field with a company of volunteers, Braelea and Cyrton guards, and Braehill survivors.   After crossing the Twine, Alain's forces were engaged at Arlbre, a hill north of the river. A strategic position, the Braelea forces engaged a slightly smaller Free Company group, which was forced to attack uphill. Despite this advantage, Alain's right wing broke ranks and charged the enemy. In an attempt to rein in the attack, Alain's lieutenant, Sir Beraud Marcel, who smuggled him from Terracetop during the siege, was killed. While Alain entered the fray himself, killing many, the loss of an experienced commander was a strategic defeat, despite having suffered fewer casualties. Alain withdrew south.  
"With his withdrawal, Lord Alain took with him the body of his mentor, Sir Beraud, but left behind his stomach for combat. Deprived of a father, with a life of hardship, and his quest to retake his home necessitating the future loss of those close to him, it is hard to place blame, though the disappointment of his allies was manifest." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
  On his return, Alain found no sympathy from his mother, and much frustration from her fellow Thewisys. Lord Pelain had no choice but to cave to the requests of his advisors, and instituted a policy of Thewisy-controlled uprisings. Alain was lodged comfortably in the Braelea Palace in Somae, with the tacit understanding amongst all that House Thewisy would take it from there. Agents from Somae began filtering over the border, delivering arms smuggled across Lake Salis to loyalist villages across the Blossom Fields.   In the Age of Rule, House Thewisy controlled a small portion of land for a major house, known as the Trifling Wards. While the territory would become known for its high level of centralization and efficient bureaucracy, these trends were just beginning at the time. Further, while the Crimson Quill existed, House Thewisy had not yet solidified their system of soft power, and was thus in a precarious position both militarily and politically. To prevent risk or any disturbance to Thewisy control over their small territory, Pelain's court decided against risking open combat.   Instead, from 454 to 471AR, uprisings of varying success occured across the Blossom Fields. While they succeeded in disrupting House Semillon establishing control over the loyalist bureaucracy of the region, thus significantly reducing their income from wine and cider exports while increasing smuggling into neighboring territory, the uprisings led to excessive loss of life amongst the peasantry of the region. While Alain opposed this privately, he said nothing in public as his position was precarious, besides ordering his advisors to prevent Braelea men from engaging in wasted battles.   For a more detailed breakdown of the individual uprisings see the Alainic Uprisings.  

Etien's Forages

  In 471, the focus of the wars shifted. With the uprisings having varying degrees of success, young Etien Braelea was growing impatient with the coddling his family received from House Thewisy, whilst the people of the Blossom Fields fought for his father's claim. At the start of that year, the teenage heir slipped away from Somae with his young cousin and future biographer Rys Thewisy, who at the time was an apprentice Quill, along with a handful of his father's knights.   He reappeared a few weeks later in The Promenade, the seat of House Prominere, a major house from the Coquet Heights. There he negotiated with Lord Prominere, his cousin, who was growing frustrated with Houses Semillon and Reed's attempts to crack down on smuggling. While the Promenade was a hive of smugglers, it also interfered with the legitimate whaling industry, who's ships were being randomly boarded.  
"The bulk of the men who had come with us, many grizzly old survivors of the fall of Surlee, had been dispersed amongst a handful of ships, easily fitting in as whalers. Lord Etien, as a boy of only seventeen, and one so noble in bearing, stood out considerably. The captain quickly hid him under a pile of whale meat, most unsavory, but kept on board in the expectation of just this scenario." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
  Lord Prominere agreed to aid Etien in his search for allies, committing a detachment of knights to his forces, and smuggling Etien and his men across the Bay de Noc. Avoiding House Reed patrols, which by then had heard of Etien's appearance in the Promenade, and at one point being boarded, Etien arrived at Fenoffoi, the seat of House Ayrmen.   Lords of the Cragtiere, House Ayrmen is an oddity within Anhara. Created largely as a formality, House Ayrmen is ruled by a council of elders, representing the villages of the Ayr people. Scattered across the Cragtiere, the Bay de Noc, and other islands along the northern Anharan coast, the Ayr are a formidable, and private, group. While they are valuable and loyal allies, Etien needed to gather the consent of their largest villages' elders by travelling across their islands.  
"A party of Salis men landed on the shores of Henbryn just after us. As we would learn, in our absence House Salis had fallen in with the enemy, for all the good it did them. A number of Ayrmen emerged from behind the pines and apprehended them." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
  After a month of negotiation, the young Etien finally returned to the mainland at Argenston, a town in the Cragtiere, where he was met by the forces of House Salis. Lords of the Vinelands, House Salis' commander informed Etien he was to be brought to their seat of Nocboro for a negotiated end to the conflict. Refusing, Etien gave battle in the streets of the town.   The Ayr of Argenston, renowned for their prowess in individual combat, overwhelmed the forces of House Salis, who were thoroughly interspersed with Free Company men, and raised the banner of House Ayrmen alongside that of Braelea.  

Etien's Wars

  When Etien and the Ayr engaged House Salis at Argenston, they rose up against their liege lords, and ended any chance of a mediated settlement. When news of Etien's battle reached his father in Somae, the shock is said to have killed him, and Alain III Braelea died on the fifth of Mistra, 471AR. His son became Etien IV Braelea, though he was unaware until the news reached Fenoffoi on the nineteenth, where he was anointed on the beach of the island by a priestess of Vestria.  

Initial Invasion

  As Lord Etien's forces took down the banner of his father and raised own personal standard alongside that of his house, he was joined by the banners of Houses Ayrmen, Cyrton, Braehill and Promenade. While Promenade's ships engaged House Reed in the Bay de Noc, Etien landed at what is now Etiencay, a small fishing village along the coast. Marching north to Surlee, they engaged the Free Company in the first battle of Etien's invasion, and emerged victorious.   Skirmishing along the road to Surlee, Etien's forces arrived outside its walls without facing any large scale opposition. As they learned when they began their siege, the Free Company was committed to the south of the Blossom Fields, as Pelain Thewisy, inspired the young lord's actions, had finally overcome his advisors' opposition and taken the field. While Pelain's forces had retaken Surlee Rock, luck was not on their side. The small but skilled Thewisy forces left behind a garrison for the retaken Rock, but were called away to the east, as an unusually large raid from al-Tahat had pushed past the fortifications along the Narrow Sea.  
"When Lord Etien's great uncle withdrew east, much of our support in the Trifling Wards left with him. The Eastmarchers felt Vestria could not have been on our side, as our foul luck was too much to be mere coincidence. Regardless, the young Lord Braelea forged on undaunted." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
  With the withdrawal of Thewisy forces, Etien was left with no choice but to lift his siege, briefly setting his eyes on the city of his fathers. Seeking to consolidate his forces, Etien marched west towards Septhearth, the seat of his allies in House Cyrton. Having risen up during the Thewisy-sponsored resistance of the 460s, Septhearth and the rest of the Ciderwinde Strip had been battling alone, awaiting the return of the Braeleas. They would have to resist alone longer however, as Etien's forces were engaged by a much larger company of Semillon and Salis men halfway to Septhearth.   Outnumbered by a combined force of Semillon, Reed, Salis and their vassals, Etien lost a large portion of his men. Left with only some of his Braelea and Braehill veterans, as well as a core of Ayrmen, the initial invasion comes to a disastrous end, and in true Braelea fashion, the Etientale begins.  

Etientale

  With his forces greatly reduced, Etien crosses the Ciderwinde and heads into Murkmantle, with the Free Company hot on his heels. Murkmantle, one of the great forests of Anhara, was, especially then, a wild and untamed place. Protected by law from public use, Anhara's forests often provide refuge to those who wish to avoid being found. Here, the young Lord Braelea made camp, and planned his next steps.  
"We turned the inhospitable Murkmantle into our own verdant roadway, emerging now here, now there, at a speed shocking to the Free Company. The young Lord Etien was a man remade, and through his fury and prowess won a month long string of battles." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
  Over the next two months, Etien's forces would emerge from the forest to skirmish and raid Free Company camps and patrols, especially striking near Septhearth in an attempt to relieve the pressure being brought to bear against his allies. Through his probing attacks out of the Murkmantle, Etien also established an enduring legacy with the villages along the forest edge, where Braelea loyalism would be strongest in the subsequent centuries.  
The Green Bells
  While Etien's campaign of moving light and striking fast was winning him many victories, it was getting his forces no closer to Surlee nor ending the threat to Septhearth. Thus, in 473, after over a year of living in the Murkmantle, Etien openly took the field at Septhearth. Here was where the legendary Order of the Green Bells was formed, when twenty four of his closest knights knelt around him in a meadow of green bells, a common flower in the Blossom Fields, and swore to die with him before they surrendered. Here began the last campaign of Etien Braelea.  
"When our two dozen greatest knights swore to do or die with the young lord, there came upon the camp a sense of noble resignation. We knew the Semillons had become too entrenched, Surlee too deep behind their lines, our numbers too few, our days running out." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms

Battle of Basselac Fields

  Etien's company, bolstered somewhat by men from Septhearth but still small, crossed the river outside of the city and headed towards Surlee. Aiming to skirt around the fortress of Caer Semillon, they first went south towards the Basselac, intending to then turn and head northeast. However, they never made it, encountering a force of Free Company and Salis men, backed by House Reed ships in the lake cutting off any retreat. Etien gave battle at the same site the wars started, where his grandfather crossed the lake during the Raymontale.  
"While they seemed to take three or four or five with them before they fell, Etien was eventually left standing alone in a field of fallen Bells, surrounded by the enemy. I watched as his head rolled, lopped off by a Free Company Lieutenant, and with it any hope of freedom for the Blossom Fields." - Sir Rys Thewisy, CQ, Blood Red Blossoms
  While the Braelea forces inflicted many casualties, as they fought knowing there could be no surrender, they were nonetheless up against overwhelming numbers. Cadaan I Semillon, son of the Semillon lord who took Surlee, cut through the Braelea ranks with his personal guard, and met Etien in combat. While Etien forced him from the field, and he left his right hand behind, the Green Bells were whittled down until all that remained were a handful and the young Braelea lord. They were finally taken and beheaded, effectively ending the Hedge Wars.  

Post-Etien

  The last battle of the Hedge Wars was less of a battle and more of a massacre, as the few men who survived the Basselac managed to make it as far south as the Timber. There they fell on what is now the village of Holdout Hill, within view of the Thewisy garrison at Surlee Rock. The Thewisys soon withdrew, as did the Prominere ships from the Bay de Noc, leaving House Cyrton's Ciderwinde League to stand alone before their eventually eradication in the following months.
Braelean Hedge Wars
Included under Conflict
Included Conflicts
Conflict Type
War
Start Date
450AR
Location
Timeline of
The Braelean Hedge Wars

Belligerents

Strength

Not exceeding 12,000 at one time
Not exceeding 20,000 at one time

Casualties

Approx. 7,500 across all stages
Approx. 12,000 across all stages

Objectives

To retake Surlee and Braelea control of the Blossom Fields
To hold Surlee and prevent former Braelea vassals from taking the field

Articles under Braelean Hedge Wars


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