Stapleford
Stapleford.png
HOUSE STATISTICS
County: Salisbury
Religion: Roman Christian
Motto: Mortis metum numquam novit "Death Knows No Fear"
Colors: Black and Gold
Liege: Earl Robert
Starting Glory: 150
Passions:

Hate (Saxons- 10)
Hate (Picts- 8)
Suspicious (Willcott) (Optional)

LEADERSHIP
Head of House: Claire De Stapleford
Predecessor: Gideon De Stapleford (Missing)
Heir: Bran De Stapleford

Manor Overview

Coat of Arms

Black and gold, paired serpent and chalice

The adder is viewed by druidic traditions as a symbol of rebirth and immortality, and the chalice is intended to represent the Holy Grail. The merging of these two symbols was devised as a means of placating both faiths, and symbolizing the veneration of the temporal dead and the immortality of the spirit.

Motto

Mortis metum numquam novit

Translated from the latin: Death knows no fear. Although quiet and fatalistic by nature, the people of Stapleford are a surprisingly vibrant people. The certainty of death frees them from attempting to escape it, and joining the honored dead is a far more democratic process than traditional feudalism might otherwise permit. There are claims that this attitude is also what gives the Staplefords belief in a certain…latitude in their decision making, believing that only God can provide a true judgement of the merit and worthiness of an act: and should he find the act unforgivable, better a Stapleford bear the punishment than those whom they serve and those they protect.

Religion and Culture

Faith

"We serve the Holy Father. Unless it is a direct threat to kin and country, we will be bound by his will."

Though Stapleford professes itself to be Roman Christian, many suspect it is in fact an attempt to avoid temporal authority by placing their submission in the hands of the Pope who is far away in Rome. The majority of the common folk are Roman Christians, but a sizable Pagan minority exists. Religious tolerance is exercised in the name of avoiding conflict and due to common cultural bonds.

The Cult of Death

"You see inevitability as something to be feared. We embrace it with a fond heart. For if we do not fear Death, what exists that can bring woe to our hearts?"

Of all Stapleford's traditions, this is the most maligned and misunderstood. Early in its conversion to Christianity the people of Stapleford became fascinated by the imagery and iconography of the archangel Michael, particularly in his role as the Angel of Death. The De Stapleford and their men at arms on their passing are interred in a great mausoleum of Roman construction, though local custom demands that regardless of rank or privilege any who die in the common defense have the right to be buried there. Stapleford knights have been known to go to exceptional risk to recover the bodies of their fallen so as to not deny them this supreme honor. Funerals are vibrant, raucous affairs, and clever priests have at least tried to make these functions serve double duty rather than rail against the excess and exaltation of the passing of the temporal body. Some claim that this is what has lead to a certain latitude the Staplefords apply to their decision making, believing only God may judge them and assay their deeds at the time of passing. If He finds the action without merit, at least it will be a Stapleford's burden to bear.

The Role Of Women

"A Lord may be the head of Stapleford, but without a neck and arms nothing connects him to the hands that execute his will. Your wife, your mother, your sisters and your aunts are the holders of your estate, the council in your ear, the keepers of your bones. Treat them accordingly.

Another key difference between Stapleford and its neighbors is in the role of women. Though rarely knighting ladies of the household, a Stapleford girl is expected to train with the blade, as the frequent and expected absence of their husbands and male kin often forces them into the role of protectors of the household. The Lord of Stapleford manor holds final say in decisions, but has historically rarely overruled the 'advice' of his female advisors. They also hold a prominent place in the Stapleford 'cult', among them is a generational matriarch known as a Keeper of the Bones. While all women are considered keepers for their own family, the generational 'Keeper' is expected to advise the heir and maintain order in the family. Dulcibella held this role and Claire was trained for it. It would not be unheard of for a backup Keeper of the Bones to be trained as well should the primary fall in battle.

Just How Many of You Are There?

It is a joke among the family that an exact count of the family members or knights of Stapleford is a theoretical number, updated by the return of bones to the mausoleum than from births. Squires and knights are often far afield and rarely see the house that raised them except in the winter months, and there are often rumors that the squires they return with are not always the ones they set out with. This means that the Lord of Stapleford is often tasked with reassembling the family tree as the returns and 'disappearances' of its knights dictate.

Background

Recent History

The recent history of Stapleford Manor begins in 440, when Orson de Stapleford was slain in a Pictish raid. Though the Staplefords bore no particular malice towards the Picts of their own accord, the disdain of their neighboring manors led to them joining in on the vendetta. His son, born never seeing his father, would probably be the first to feel the undue influence of what has been referred to as the "Stapleford woman". Balwin De Stapleford would grow up into a strong and noble knight, but he leaned heavily on the council of his mother Verona and his maiden aunts who served to keep Baldwin a great deal more informed than his peers. Although the "death cult" popularly subscribed to the Staplefords had been in existence for some time, it was Verona acting through Baldwin that turned it into an actual codified practice, spending a vast sum to improve the Roman mausoleum which had become the burial site of the Stapleford knights. The mausoleum would become a pilgrimage site of sorts for men at arms and the nobility of Stapleford alike. The peasants would come to emulate this practice, though in their own limited manner.

Baldwin married the Lady Dulcibella in 464, three years after his knighting. Dulcibella, already a rich widow twice over, usurped Verona's position and secured her relocation to a convent. Baldwin would spend much of his time engaged in hunting or in border skirmishes with the Saxons, fighting in four major battles. Dulcibella was often left alone, and was thus unsupervised as she governed in her husbands name. Though far more feared and loved, the general consensus was that Dulcibella's harshness is to the benefit of the people of Stapleford. Baldwin himself would pass away a year before the knighting of his son, Barrett. Barrett would go on to marry the lady Chantal De Woodford, though the majority of the people whispered that Dulcibella still held the reigns of power. Unlike her predecessor, Chantal was never able to vanquish the "Stapleford Wyvern", and so was resigned to make her mark as best she could.

Barrett De Stapleford was poisoned along with Uther Pendragon and many of his other nobles at the Infamous Feast, and thus would follow his own grandfathers fate, though serving for a significantly shorter span of time. Gideon would thus grow up surrounded by women, namely Dulcibella, older but showing no signs of infirmity, and Baldwin's three sisters. In 514, however, Gideon went missing after departing for a skirmish line at Dorset. Without an heir in place, the House was put at risk. In his absence the youngest sister and generational Keeper of the Bones, Sir Claire, took over day to day leadership of the house. She was wed to Sir Drustan de Falt in October 514. In early November at a battle to break a siege, Claire lead a militia of Knights into battle near Dorset. The sky blackened and the sun was blotted out while Claire howled at a Knight she faced. As she did, the ghosts of the dead rose on the battlefield and fought with nary a reaction from Claire. Many people believe she is capable of raising the dead now, especially after the attack she lead directly impacted the ability to break the siege.

Over the Winter of 514/515 a tragedy befell both Stapleford and Willcott. Lady Elsane de Willcott nee Stapleford and Lady Maeve de Chalke nee Stapleford (sisters) were murdered by Sir Morlois de Willcott in what was ruled to be the fault of both parties. It was announced in court that Elsane and Maeve had taken to poisoning Morlois' food and drink due to his violent habits and dissatisfaction in marriage. When it was discovered that possibly infidelity on Elsane's part may have produced a bastard heir, it came to a head. Stapleford and Willcott have agreed to leave it as a tragedy without pursuant to further indemnity for the losses on either side. Elsane's infant son was killed by Morlois also but Maeve's daughter was given over to her mother and sister, Letha, to look after and raise. In early April 515 Claire and Drustan welcomed an heir to the family: Bran. It is rumored he will take the position of leadership for the house when he reaches age of majority. However in mid-April, Earl Robert officially named Sir Claire as the Head of House — the only woman in Salisbury holding the position and one of the youngest Heads of House.

Location

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Political Relationships

Due to both its cultural practices and its insular nature, Stapleford is slow to trust and slower to make enemies or at least openly declare them. Past accusations of necromancy and self-interest have cut deep, and their pride in being the 'Unknown Knight' has made it difficult to leverage what goodwill the house possesses. Though they do not necessarily possess the same vitriol towards other religions as some Houses, those who marry into the House must publicly declare their conversion or take the Stapleford name (the latter often the greater source of discord), as it is believed that the manor family's connection to the Archangel is what allows the sanctification of even the unbaptized dead. As a house that has never been particularly numerous, the few times they have saved the day are oft overlooked, and their retreats are often immortalized. On the flipside, be a friend of Stapleford is to know that help will come if seldom from the most obvious direction, and that glory shall never be prioritized over the survival and good fortune of their friends.

Residents

Noble Family Members

Seraphina de Stapleford nee Newentone (Newton Tony)
seraphina Wife of Gaius.

Commoners

Residents - Commoner Members (see above)

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Family Tree

Timeline

  • 440: Orson Dies in a Pictish Raid
  • 460-461: Baldwin Knighted
  • 464: Baldwin Married
  • 465: Barrett Born
  • 468: Battle of Snowdon
  • 478-479: Battle of Frisia
  • 480: Battle of Salisbury
  • 484: Baldwin dies of wounds sustained in the Battle of Eburacum
  • 485: Barrett Knighted, Battle of Colchester
  • 490: Battle of Lindsey
  • 495: Battle of St. Albans, Barrett is poisoned at the Infamous Feast
  • 514: Gideon is Knighted
  • 514: Gideon goes missing near Dorset, Claire rises
  • 514: Final Battle of Dorset, Stapleford leads to victory
  • 515: Bran is born to Claire and Drustan
  • 515: Claire named official Head of House
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