The History of Catreath

In the beginning, the land that is now called Catreath was populated by tribes of men. They had names such as the Brigantes, the Votadini and the Parisi. These tribes dwelt in hill forts in well-defined regions, often competing with each other for territory. In the year 43 the Men of the Empire came to the lands and though the tribesmen fought, they were conquered one by one by the Empire's superior tactics and training. For many centuries the Empire ruled as overlords, bringing with them their language, education and engineering skills. Around the year 400 the Empire left these lands to defend their Holy City from invasion far over the sea. They left behind them many great cities, roads and bridges, but took the knowledge of how to create or mend such constructions.

It was then, after the Men of the Empire left, that the native tribesmen formed the first kingdoms in the North. Rheged stretched across the land from Gallowgreen to Kelda, then Elmet stretched from there to the rivers Mere and Holyn. Within these kingdoms the tribes retained their identities, but paid tax and fealty to the dominant tribe.

It was soon after the year 500 that the People of the East first came to the shores of Rheged. The chieftain Ossa the Knifeman brought a small group to settle, but he was met by the warlords of Rheged. Ossa was killed, and his people driven back. However, the People of the East came again in 547, led by Ossa's grandson, Ida. The Men of the West were poor and ill-armed, but they were numerous and they were desperate, and they washed over Rheged like a flood. Ida established the Kingdom of Bernicia where he ruled for some 12 years from his castle in Dinguardi. When he died in battle with King Urien of Rheged, his son Ossa the Flamebearer took the throne. It was at this point, in 559, that Ella, a rival chieftain from the West, arrived to the South of Bernicia and took land from Rheged and Elmet, forming the Kingdom of Deira. The Kingdoms of Deira and Bernicia formed an uneasy alliance allowing them both to continue their wars against the natives in the West, but neither King dared leave his land for long, and thus the invasion was seriously hindered.

King Ossa the Flamebearer ruled for 30 years before passing the throne on to his son Ethelfrith in 589. During the latter part of Ossa's reign, Ossa had King Urien of Rheged assassinated and Urien's son, Owen, took the throne. Owen, still a young man, became known by his people as 'the chief of the Glittering West'. Ethelfrith was a great warrior and ruthless leader; he became known as Ethelfrith the Destroyer. In 592 King Ella of Deira died, and Ethelfrith took this opportunity to marry Ella's daughter Acca, to exile Ella's son Edwin and to unite Bernicia and Deira, thus becoming the first King of Catreath. He named the Kingdom after the wildcat motif that his Grandfather bore when he first set foot on the land.

Ethelfrith continued to plunder the lands around him. In 603 he fought King Aedan of Dariada, a small Eiran state on the mainland in the North. Despite King Aedan's superior numbers, Ethelfrith won the battle. In 613, he led a war party that reached Deva, an ancient city left by the Men of the Empire, where they fought King Brocmail of Gwynedd. Brocmail had gathered some 500 monks to pray for his success. Ethelfrith the Destroyer slaughtered the monks, won the battle and looted the city before returning home.

In 616 Ethelfrith's attention turned on the only man who could challenge his claim to the Kingdom of Catreath, the exiled Prince Edwin of Deira. At this time Prince Edwin was 32. He had taken refuge in the Kingdom of Mercia in the court of King Redwald. He had a wife, Quenberg, a Mercian princess, and a son, Osfrid. When Ethelfrith discovered Edwin's location he tried to bribe King Redwald to assassinate him. King Redwald declined, and he assisted Edwin in raising an army to fight Ethelfrith. In 617 Ethelfrith the Destroyer fell in battle, his army collapsed around him and Edwin became King of Catreath. Ethelfrith's sons, Eanfrid, Oswald and Oswy, fled into exile, and Edwin took up the court in Dinguardi.

King Edwin is well-liked by his people, who remember the viciousness of their previous monarch. He continues to rule from Dinguardi, though the people of Deira feel he should move his seat of power to Eoforwic, the previous seat of Deira. Queen Quenberg died a year after coming to Catreath, and she was soon replaced by Queen Ethelburga from the Kingdom of Gwent in the Southlands, a religious woman who is yet to be blessed with a child. Mercia is Catreath's ally but King Edwin remains in debt to King Redwald's for Mercia's assistance in gaining the throne. There is an uneasy peace between Catreath and Rheged, although there is no goodwill between the two nations and they plunder across each other's borders regularly. The Clans to the North are little understood, but greatly feared.