Catching up on Knight Fort

From: Joerg Baumgartner (joe@toppoint.de)
Date: Fri 06 Feb 1998 - 00:12:00 EET


I'll try to compile what I perceive to be the consensus on Knight Fort. I've
collected the messages since Jim Gouldin's question, and I plan to put the
resulting text onto my Holy Country web-page.

First, however, a few comments and proposals:

Jeff Richard in v05.n396
>I am thoroughly convinced that Knight Fort was NOT built by Palangio.
>The Bright Empire was building military-religious fortresses of a type
>VERY DIFFERENT from Knight Fort.

I agree. "Modern" Knight Fort would have only a very few traces of
Palangio's fortified camp left within its substance, most probably some
chambers in the foundation of the central keep, and a fair number of bricks
with DHan style Lodril stamps used and reused in certain sections. Exactly

the stuff bored Lhankor Mhy sages would write about. For fun, there could be
one piece of Brithini Iron Statuary in an obscure niche deep down in the
fort, which would give us a good reason why any Sage would investigate the
origins of the fort... It could even serve a purpose, for instance create a
zone of negation of magics.

In my vision of the Holy Country, extremely few buildings from Palangio's
reign would have survived. Probably the best (though not necessarily least
dangerous) places to study his architecture could be Axe Hall on the Shadow
Plateau and the castrum at Old Karse below its eastern cliffs.

>Personally, I'd date Knight Fort to the period of Jrusteli dominance.

If Palangio had any sort of fortification at the oasis, I suppose that the
Hendriki kings might have occupied and modified that for a while. By the
time the God Learners arrived in strength in Kethaela, the fort most
probably was abandoned or in severe disrepair.

The Jrusteli had gathered a _lot_ of experience in contemporary siege
warfare in their conquests of the Malkioni world - it appears that they had
to weed out resistance in all Malkioni countries, even though the Ralian war
was the most concentrated action.

If Krak Des Chevaliers is accepted as the model of Knight Fort, we might
postulate a couple of stages of the fortification. The Krak is situated on
and around a plinth rising about 15 metres out of the surrounding terrain,
which could be slightly hilly. A similar rocky outcrop next to a watering
hole on the edge of the chaparral would be a logical place for any military
camp.

If you want a picture and map of Krak Des Chevaliers, try the Palladium Book
of Weapons, Armour and Castles (p.193), or "The Crusades and the Holy Land"
by Georges Tate (p.168). I suppose any decent book on European-built castles
would include the Krak...

I think we can take it as a given that the art of warfare changed during the
course of Glorantha's 16 centuries of history. While the basic principle -
large numbers of men-at-arms with a variety of hand-to-hand and in some
cases missile weapons, plus miscellaneous forms of magic assisting in combat
- - remained true, I am fairly certain that there were certain developments
(or shifts in prominence of armament and tactics) which influenced the way
battles were fought, and fortifications were built.

True, the Praxian art of warfare did not undergo that many changes - there
is only a limited set of tactics the beast riders can employ. They could
(and probably did) use widely different forms of magic, though - check Nomad
Gods for a plethora of different gods (or greater spirits) which could be
employed against the castle and its defenders. The castle would always have
been designed to withstand Praxian nomad raids, and to serve as a sallying
point for the mobile part of the garrison to harrass the enemy's troops.
However, the nature of these mobile forces changed a lot during the fort's
history.

If aboriginal Malkioni (the Ingareens of Shannon's History of the Kingdom of
Night) were the first people to fortify the oasis, we could expect a Horali
style advanced position there.

Which leads us to the question how the Horali are organized. Genertela Book
tells us they don't ride horses (or other beasts), but are trained in any
form of combat. Usually a Zzabur sorcerer accompanies a platoon of Horali,
led by a Talar caste commander, and provided for by Dromar servants who put
up tents, dig ditches and prepare meals. While it is possible that any of
these castes' representants include females, it is quite unlikely.

If (again) there was a Brithini-style outpost here, it would most likely
have been a stronghouse atop the plinth, with traps around it, since a
Brithini platoon consists of maybe a dozen fighters per sorcerer (who has to
maintain control of his spells for the company in advance) and noble.

Cults of Prax mentions 35 S.T. as the arrival of the first Theyalan warrior
cult (stated to be Humakt) in Prax. If this was a Heortling cult, Knight
Fort would have been quite out of the way...

When Palangio ruled Kethaela, he set up a ring of fortifications around
Shadow Plateau, and probably at the entries to other sources of trouble as
well. His hoplite plus skirmisher style troops would have to be present in
greater numbers than hypothetical Brithini-style predecessors, so he would
have installed a small Pelorian fortified field camp there, probably a
century of hoplites. If located atop that plinth mentioned for the Krak, a
rest garrison of 20 men should have been able to fend off even determined
foes a hundred time that numerous. His solar priests could have used
platforms open to the sun for their magics.

After Palangio's defeat against Arkat, it is possible that the Hendriki or
Arkat himself posted some Orlanthi forces at Knight Fort. If so, I think
that they would have been similar to the Romano-British forces of the Age of
Arthur, inheriting military organisation and fortifications but not quite
mastering them. From that to disrepair and abandonment wouldn't have been a
long way.

The Jrusteli keep would have been different from a part-Seshnegi
refurbishment of Palangio's castrum. Their castle would at least have
encompassed the area of the Inner Ward of the Krak, probably already
including the fortified ramp up to the Ward, but possibly lacking the outer
ward around the base of the Plinth. However, if they installed a mounted
troop here, the outer ward probably becomes necessary as grazing area, at
least during sieges.

With the fall of the Machine City, the Jrusteli surely would have abandoned
Knight Fort - probably already earlier during that siege, for lack of
provisions. The most likely next occupation could have been that by the
Merchant Prince venture boldly seeking to secure the spice route to Teshnos
through the Wastes, as proposed by Stephen Martin (in v05.n384 and
v05.n392). While their life as guardians may have sustained them for a
while, I strongly suspect that the garrison soon would have spread across
the farmsteads and ranches of the Marcher Barons rather than keeeping the
grand keep intact.

IMG the Hendriki king of Heortland conquered Refuge around 1370. He might
have taken an interest in the castle, and provided finances and support to
the garrison, causing a temporary return to strength in Knight Fort.

With the Lunar conquest of Pavis County, the Pharaoh took a personal
interest in the Praxian affairs, and may have pushed the re-fitting of the
castle with mercenaries around 1610. The Seshnegi mercenaries arriving in
1615 might have brought the battlements up to the latest state of the art.

Shannon Appel in v05.n397:
>Unless things have swapped around the Kethaela history is actually in
>Tradetalk #4. But, yes, it does talk about the Ingareens of God
>Forgot. Definitely from the West originally, and I'm not sure they'd
>have that much mixing with other groups: they remained hidden for an
>extended amount of time, and the nearest lands (modern Heortland) were
>chaos waste.

The term "chaos waste" sounds a bit exaggerated to me - there were
Heortlings living just outside of Snake Pipe Hollow at the same time. Sure,
there was the occasional outbreak of masses of chaotics from the Footprint,
but overall the Heortland plateau was a pleasant land, more so than the
curse-free parts of Dorastor. IMO the wind children used it as hunting
ground free of nomad warriors defending the herds...

An ancient map of the region showed a tribe called Gansavuli living in the
southern part of Heortland. The name sounds like a late Vingkotling star
tribe. Since Stormwalk Mountain is the most sacred place to the Heortling
Storm Bulls of the region, I find it likely that a small Orlanthi populace
may have lived in the south.

Michael Raaterova:
>Jeff, Knight Fort can be all of those things and more too. It doesn't have
>to be a *single* thing - it has been used by lots of groups and people over
>the years, all of whom can claim the rightful ancestry and origins of
>Knight Fort.

Amen to that.

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