Bretonnia is a kingdom located in the Old World, west of the Grey Mountains and the Empire. Its current king is Louen Leoncoeur. Carefully protected by its brave and honourable knights, regarded as the greatest in the old world. Bretonnia is a land of chivalry and honour. However this must be balanced against the poverty and oppression of its peasantry.
Bretonnia has a rich and ancient culture revolving around the ideals of honour, chivalry and glory. Gilles le Breton and his mighty Grail Companions are at the centre of these ideals, and many events and days of rest are held in their honour.
- Peace Tide is dedicated to Gilles and his Comapnions final victory against a vast horde of various armies.
- Grail Day is a day of great festivity and drinking, honouring the Holy Grail itself.
- King's Sleep honours the belief that Gilles shall eventually return to Bretonnia.
- Lily Day is a day to celebrate purity and new growth, centred around the sacred Fleur de Lys.
Government and Organisation
Bretonnia is ruled by a king, and the throne is usually passed from father to eldest son. A new king is crowned by the Fay Enchantress and (technically at least) she outranks him. The kingdom is further organized into 14 dukedoms, each ruled by its own Duke.
The first humans known to have settled in the lands now known as Bretonnia were the Bretonni who entered the lands after the War of Vengeance around -1000 IC. [1b] Orcs & Goblins also sought to colonise the lands where once the High Elves had ruled and many battles were fought against them by the humans who learnt to forge metal, build stone strongholds and most importantly ride horses into battle. [1a]
By -700 IC, the land is dominated by twenty horse riding tribes who amalgamate or destory smaller tribes. Attempts to enter the Forest of Loren around -650 IC fail, with the few who survive being driven mad by the fey. [2b]
Orcs demand tribute in 577 IC from the Brtonni but are refused. [1b] As they began to dominate the fertile valleys, driving the greenskins into the wilderness, the various independent tribes of the Bretonni fought against each other. This would change when Giles le Breton finally united the Bretonni into a single nation around 977 IC following a time of great peril for the tribes.
As the Greenskins banded together to ravage the human lands, Chaos worshippers crossed the Sea of Claws and Settra attacked the western coast in 100 IC. By 770 IC the remaining sixteen tribes each control a part of the land which broadly remain to the current era except Cuileux and Glanorielle which are later destroyed. [2b]
Giles gathered his knights, fighting several battles but against such odds, he could not prevail. The remnants of his army camped by the Forest of Chálons with the tattered armies of other dukes but as they heard the sound of Orc warhorns in the distance, they knew the enemy had found them. [1a]
As dawn came, many knights gathered at a lake to drink some water and it was then that the mist condensed into an incomparably beautiful woman bearing a gleaming chalice which she bid the knights to drink from. Giles himself dipped his bloodstained, ragged banner into the lake, asking her to bless it. When he lifted it clear it was remade with the image of an avenging goddess. [1a]
The other dukes and knights proclaimed him as especially blessed and followed his banner into battle, shattering the Orc horde. As the new Leader of Battles, Giles would lead the Grail Knights into battle defeating all the various enemies. The Elves of Athel Loren even gifted him with magical weapons. [1a]
On his death they returned him to the lake where they met with the Fay Enchantress who took him as a guardian of the sacred lake and the hidden island at its heart. It was Giles' son Louis who now became not only Duke of Bastonne but also overlord of the now united nation. However, he immediately set off to seek the Grail and prove his worthiness, earning him the name Louis the Rash. [1a]
After several years he returned in 1001 IC [1b] with a ancient golden crown and a magical blade and was crowned the first king by the Fay Enchantress. He would quickly set his mind to creating a code of chivalry and confirmed the Dukes in their roles as loyal and trusted deputies. War continued against the greenskins in the Grey Mountains, the Forest of Arden and Massif Orcal. [1a]
In 1448, King Louis the Righteous responded to the invasion of Estalia by Sultan Jajjar of Araby by raising a mighty army to help drive him out. Together with the Estalians, they succeeded but only after much hard fighting. When the Sultan retreated home, the army pursued, tempted not only by vengeance but also by tales of huge riches said to be found in Araby. [1a]
The resulting crusade was nearly a disaster as the ill-prepared knights fought to survive not only their enemy but also the heat of the desert and lack of water. However, the increasingly grim determination of the crusaders began to tell and the Sultans armies began to fall apart, many deserting. The final Battle of El Haikk in 1451 IC [1b] saw the end of the Crusade and the victorious knights burned and sacked much of Araby. [1a]
A second Crusade was already being prepared but the route was disputed until Baron Tybalt du Bois de Balzac was elected commander of the expedition and chose to lead them by land, avoiding pirates and the lack of available ships. By the time they reached Barak Varr however, the first crusade had already defeated the Sultan and so the crusaders instead attacked the greenskin strongholds along the Blood River, quickly joined by the local Dwarfs! The cleared region would become known as the Border Princes. [1a]
A peasant revolt is crushed in 1593 IC. [2b] At the Battle of Castellet in 1635 IC, King Philippe the Strong and 10,000 knights defeat invaders from the sea at L'Anguille. [1b][2b] A vast horde of Orcs under Warlord Gorbag invades in 1715 IC and is slaughtered. [1b][2b]
In 1813 IC, the Red Pox asails Bretonnia and the Skaven lay siege to both Brionne and Quenelles - Duke Merovech of Mousillon, the Duke of Parravon and the elves of Athel Loren ride forth and salughter the ratmen. [1b] [2b] At the subsequent victory banquet in Mousillon, the king is killed leading to the army of Lyonesse attacking and defeating him. [2b]
Around 2297 IC, [1b] King Jules the Just died fighting a Chaos Knight, he left the realm to his daughter La Belle Isoulde who as was custom agreed to pass the kingdom to any knight who accomplish a quest she set. She made it known that a Jabberwock must be killed. [1a]
Duke Maldred of Mousillon, although married to the Sorceress Malfleur sought to be become king and together they faked his search for the Grail and captured the Fay Enchantress herself. Isoulde and the Grail Knights were filled with rage but could not act directly against him and had to wait until Gaston de Geste released the Enchantress. Mousillon was besieged and all within perished from the plague. Isoulde and Gaston were wed and he was crowned king. [1a]
In 2420 IC the Border Princes were invaded by Orc hordes and Charlen responded to the calls for aid by declaring a Errantry War, swiftly mustering a powerful army which initally crushed the invaders but the war continued for a full generation. Orcs ravage much of Carcassonne in 2422 IC. [2b]
When a Bretonnian child is gifted with magical abilities, he or she is usually taken by a servant of the Lady of the Lake. Some the female children eventually return as Prophetesses and Damsels of the Lady, but the fate of the male children is unknown as they are never seen again.
Some of the wealthiest families send their children to the Colleges of Magic in the Empire instead, where they will be taught and trained as wizards and magicians.
The noble class is ruled by the king and is composed of dukes, marquises, earls, barons, and knights. Bretonnian society is patriarchal but noblewomen seem to be respected. All fit male nobles are knights and follow a code of chivalry, holding noblesse oblige and honour in high regard. While using bows to hunt during peacetime, they refuse to use any ranged weaponry in war, considering it dishonourable.
The peasants have nearly no rights at all, and are illiterate and uneducated. They are considered property, and must surrender 9/10ths of their crops to their feudal lord. As a result most of them will remain extremely poor throughout their entire lives.
They may also not leave their home province unless allowed; as a result a certain degree of inbreeding is quite common. Many peasants are afflicted by clubfeet, extra fingers, lazy eyes, or similar defects.
Bretonnian justice is harsh and any peasant who is caught stealing or poaching is usually hanged. An even harsher punishment is dealt to a peasant who attacks a noble. He and his family will be tortured and slowly dismembered, while all his friends and acquaintances will be crippled. Such is the price of rebellion.
Provinces and Towns
Most nobles live in mighty castles in the countryside surrounded by a village and only the castles of a handful of dukes protect developed towns, which sport the same name as their respective provinces. The people of Bretonnia consider the life in towns to be somewhat unnatural, fit only for the most desperate and poor. The largest towns are seaports, centres of trade and harbours of the Bretonnian fleets.
- Mousilion, seaport - considered currently lost to the kingdom
- Bordeleaux, seaport
The Marches of Couronne is not a dukedom but may eventually become one.
The main priestess of the Cult of the Lady of the Lake is known as the Fay Enchantress, who is respected throughout Bretonnia. Other 'minor' Prophetesses and Damsels roam the kingdom, advising noble families, and occasionally aid Bretonnian armies in battle through their magical abilities.
The peasants are not considered worthy enough to worship the Lady of the Lake directly. While they certainly respect and fear her, they usually worship the other deities of the Old World.
The society of Bretonnia is formed into two classes, the nobility and the peasantry.
The Bretonnian military is 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 honor and pride. The Knights of Bretonnia are feared and respected throughout the known world. Men of valour and honor, 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 upon the field of battle.
- Knights Errant are young and eager to prove themselves. these young nobles are the lowest ranking members of most Bretonnian cavalry squadron as well as 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.
- Knights of the Realm 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 honor 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
- Pegasus Knights are elite knights who ride into battle atop a Pegasus, diving from the skies to bring destruction upon the enemy. Unlike traditional mounted warfare, those Knights that can tame and ride the mighty Pegasus into battle are warriors without equal. Flying across the battlefled with wings of angelic appearance, the Pegasus Knights take to the sky and fight the flying monstrosities the enemy has unleashed upon them with lance and swords.
- Questing Knights are former Knights of the Realm who give up their social position to follow a spiritual quest. Always searching for the Grail they will slay monsters and evil foes. If they succeed, proving their faith, purity, and honour they may sip from the Grail, becoming a Grail Knight.
- Grail Knights are legendary saints and heroes, blessed with exceedingly long lifespans and power beyond mortal men. These Knights are the very pinnacle of Bretonnian chivalry, honor, and bravery. 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 these Knights are one of the greatest of Mankind's warriors to ever walk the earth, their superhuman skill and fearlessness making them an almost unparalleled cavalry.
- Grail Damsels, lesser servants of the Lady not as long in service as a Prophetess. They specialize in protective wardings, purification's, 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.
- Prophetesses, the most favored 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.
- Paladins are mighty knights who act as champions and a source of inspiration for Bretonnian armies. They are powerful warriors renowned throughout Bretonnia for their chivalry and feats of arms in combat against all evil, and are often as respected and noble as a Knight can become.
- Bretonnian Lords are the greatest of Bretonnian nobility and act as elite commanders in battle. They are powerful noblemen whose deeds are recounted throughout the lands, warriors unparalleled in combat and the stout follower of the Codes of Chivalry. These Bretonnian Lords includes the mighty Barons and the Dukes that occupy much of the higher nobility. Proud and powerful warriors all, Bretonnian Lords are excellent warrior-generals.
- The Sons of Bretonnia, are mysterious Knights who acted as The Lady's personal courtiers and servants. These were young male nobles, taken from their parents as children for exhibiting magical abilities.
Only the most fit and able peasants will be recruited into the military. They are allowed to use bows as they "evidently" have no honour to defend and uphold. In the dukedom of Bastonne every able peasant boy is obliged by law to train himself in the use of a longbow. However this ducal law is rarely upheld and few peasants have the means to buy or the skill to craft a bow, and even fewer have the strength to draw one. Presumably similar laws exist in the other dukedoms with similar results. Crossbows and gunpowder weapons are all but unknown in Bretonnia.
- Peasant Mobs are large hordes of peasants used as fodder.
- 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 military armies as all peasants and commoners within Bretonnia are required to maintain a proficiency with the bow, their willingness being 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.
- Men-at-arms are 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 armor, 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.
- Battle Pilgrims, although not considered an official part of Bretonnian armies, these "Pilgrims" are either feral peasants or fanatic and pious followers of the Grail Brotherhoods, all 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 armor 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 shocktroop infantry, and sacrificial arrow fodder.
- Mounted Yeomen are experienced soldiers provide the Bretonnian army with dedicated skirmishers or fast light cavalry and scouts. These veterans have fought and survived many battles with only the skills of their arms and their unwavering bravery. Such is their combat experience that Yeomen are almost as skilled in combat as any Knight of the Realm, but such a boast is often ignored and even suppressed by the nobility.
- Foot Squires are the greatest of Bretonnian peasantry, equipped to the highest standards and trained to act as personal retainers for their lords.
Bretonnia does not rely heavily on Warmachines and other seige weaponry for battle, considering them to be cowardly and dishonourable. They only make use of one such device out of necessity.
- Trebuchets are 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 cannon ball sized rock, up to something as large as a peasants hovel. Due to it's reputation as a dishonorable 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.
- Blessed Trebuchets are superior to the regular kind. Blessed by Priestesses of The Lady to hurl huge enchanted boulders at the enemy.
- Louen Leoncoeur, King of Bretonnia
- Calard of Garamont, Famed Grail Knight
- Morgiana le Fay, the Fay Enchantress
- The Green Knight, Gilles le Breton in his form as Avatar of the Lady.
- Duke Armand d'Aquitaine
- Duke Bohemond Beastslayer of Bastonne
- Tancred II Duke of Quenelles, famed Grail Knight, defeated Heinrich Kemmler at La Maisontaal.
- Duke Jerrod of Quenelles, successor to Tancred II and Hero of the End Times.
- Duke Theodoric of Brionne
- Reolus, Hero of Quenelles
- Jasperre le Beau, Slayer of Malgrimace
- Reynard le Chasseur
- Roland le Marechal
- Tristan le Troubadour and Jules le Jongleur
- Mallobaude, the Black Knight of Mousillon
- Fastric Ghoulslayer famed Pegasus Knight renowned for slaying undead.
- Agravain de Beau Quest, historic hero of song and legend.
- Aloys de Montjoie, Baron of Quenelles and fearsome Grail Knight.
- Amalric of Gaudaron, Bane of the Undead.
- Gilles le Breton, founder and first king of Bretonnia
- Landuin, Lord of Mousillon and one of the Grail Companions
- Thierulf, brother-in-law of Gilles le Breton and one of the Grail Companions
- Maldred of Mousillon
- King Gaston de Beau Geste
- Merovech of Mousillon, powerful Vampire, destroyed by Calard during his invasion of Bretonnia.
- Baron Odo d'Outremer
- Baron Lucus of Brilloinne
- Repanse de Lyonesse
- The Red Duke a former Duke and brother of the King, he would become one of the greatest Blood Knights in existence.
|"Heavily armoured, gilded, decked out in layers of steel that an Empire warhorse would have struggled to carry, let alone charge with. Formidable. Not for nothing did men across the Old World fear the onslaught of the knights of Bretonnia." -- Reiksmarshal Kurt Helborg, observing Bretonnia's Knights.|
When originally introduced into the Warhammer fantasy setting, Bretonnia was quite similar in its atmosphere and depth to the Empire. Its ruling class were uncaring, the least caring being the King himself (Charles de la Tête d'Or III). While corruption in every form was everywhere, the nobility (themselves sordidly decadent) were wilfully blind to it, preferring to hide their fear and corruption behind extravagance. (See: Bretonnia (outdated).
Bretonnia was ret-conned as a high-fantasy and resplendent legendary Arthurian kingdom; a bright land of plenty and goodwill for all.
A nobler king was introduced, and the Bretonnian army lost its cannons, taking on its Arthurian character with special rules to protect its knights from unchivalrous guns. The knights are champions of virtue and live by a code of chivalry.
Most telling, many knights embark on quests for the Grail and the goddess of the country is the Lady of the Lake. Gilles le Breton, who unified the tribes of Bretonnia into a single nation, fought 12 battles against the Orcs - mirroring King Arthur's 12 battles against the Anglo-Saxons. Another of the legendary figures of Bretonnia is the Green Knight, based in many ways on the character encountered by Sir Gawain.
This image of goodness and light acquired a slight tarnish with the advent of the 6th edition. The chivalric knights and the special rules survived, but the background has grown somewhat darker as the poverty and oppression of the peasantry is brought more into focus.
- 1: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (5th Edition)
- 2: Warhammer Armies: Bretonnia (6th Edition)