Friday, 7 December 2012

Brian Boru and Ulf the Quarrelsome

The first two figures for my Saga Irish warband, and who better to start with than the Ard Rí na hÉireann himself and his brother.

Brian Boru.Brian seized the Highkingship of Ireland from it's traditional holders the Uí Néills. Born in Kincora in County Clare, Brian lived to the ripe old age of 88, in which time he increased his influence from his native province of Munster to Leinster, Connacht and finally to Ulster, making him the most successful Irish king in history. Brian's expansionist campaigns brought him into conflict not just with his fellow Gaelic Irish but also with the Hiberno-Norse vikings who had been settled in Ireland for many generations. It was this conflict with the Hiberno-Norse that led to one of the most famous battles in Irish history, the battle of Contarf in 1014. Brian led an army of mixed Gaels and Hiberno-Norse against and equally cosmopolitan army of Leinster Gaels, Dublin Norse and Manx Vikings. The battle itself was horrifically bloody with 6000 of the 6600 or so of Brian's foes dying in battle, Brian's forces fared little better, loosing 4000+ of his 7000 men. But most importantly in terms of consequences for Ireland itself Brian died a violent death at the hands of Brodir of Man, he 'who steel cannot bite', a Danish raider who mainly operated from the Isle of Man. 

Brian is represented in saga as an old man with limited martial abilities, but with plenty of beneficial rules regarding his own troops fatigue and saga dice.

Ulf The Quarrelsome.
Next up we have Brian's younger brother or step-son depending on the source Ulf. Ulf is described in Njall's Saga as the 'greatest champion and warrior of Brian's army'. The Annals tell us that Ulf lost his mother to a Viking raid, so his hatred of the northmen was born at an early age. Ulf was so incensed at Brian's death at Clontarf that he hunted down his brother's killer Brodir, and cornered him with what remained of his men, he slew all of Brodir's retinue and subjected Brodir himself to a horrific death. Cutting open Brodir's belly, he wound the still living northman's entrails around a tree, tying him there to die a slow and painful death.

Ulf's reputation for cruelty to his foes is modelled in Saga so that any unit in range when Ulf slays an enemy unit gains additional fatigue to represent the demoralising effect of his cruelty.

Brian and Ulf are from Crusader miniature's Irish Chieftains and Champions pack, the celtic cross is from Warbases.