Charlotte Bronte as Gamer # 1

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The suitably scruffy standard bearer of the “vermined and victorious”  Angrian forces in the East, holding its Rising Sun banner.

“What news is stirring in your parts?” I asked.

“Nothing special” was the answer. “Only March has left the Angrians madder than ever.”

“What, they’re  fighting still are they?”

“Fighting! Aye and every man amongst them has sworn by his hilts that he’ll continue fighting whilst he has two rags left stitched together upon his back.”

“In that case I should think peace would soon be restored”, said I.

Mr. Saunderson winked. “A very sensible remark”, said he. “Mr. Wellesley senior [Charlotte Bronte’s fictionalised Duke of Wellington] made me the fellow to it last time I saw him”.

“The sinews of war not particularly strong in the East?” I continued.

Mr Saunderson winked again and asked for a pot of porter. I sent for the beverage to the Robin Hood across the way and when it was bought Mr Saunderson, after blowing off the froth, took a deep draught to the health of “the brave and shirtless!” I added in a low voice “to the vermined and victorious!” He heard me and remarked with a grave nod of approbation, “very jocose”.

After soaking a little while, each in silence, Mr. Saunderson spoke again  –

Mr. Saunderson did not speak again. He departed like the fantastic creation of a dream. I was called to hear a lesson and when I returned to my desk again, I found the mood which had suggested that allegorical whim was irrevocably gone …

———————————————-

This is not a couple of beer raddled gamers sitting in the pub talking about their fictional campaigns.

This interrupted fictional conversation is a snippet called  “My Compliments to the Weather” section 5 from Charlotte  Bronte’s The Roe Head Journal. This snippet, on  p.168-9, is published in The Brontes – Tales of Glass Town, Angria and Gondal. Selected Writings Oxford, OUP 2010, edited with notes by Bronte scholar Christine Alexander.

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As a young student teacher at Roe Head School, miles away from her Haworth parsonage home from 1835-38, Charlotte Bronte was partly exiled through the demands of her teaching work from her full part in the fictional Imagi-Nations that her brother Branwell and sisters Emily and Anne had created  together. Her frustration   is obvious!

“No more. I have not time to work out the vision. A thousand things were connected with it, a whole country, statesman and kings, a revolution, Thrones and princedoms subverted and reinstated.” Section 3, the Roe Head Journal, Charlotte Bronte.

I like the arch, snarky irreverent tone of Charlotte’s  narrators like Charles Townsend casting scorn on the elsewhere heroic struggles of her brother or sisters’ creations, in this case the character Zamorna (also known as King of Angria, Marquis of Douro and fictional son of the  Bronte’s fictional Duke of Wellington).

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Very helpful annotated 2010 map by Christine Alexander with Angria added from her book  (based on map by  Branwell)

The Angrian Wars 1831-39

Compiled  from notes in Christine Alexanders book  (Oxford, 2010) and Heather Glen’s Tales of Angria (Penguin, 2006) further detail of clarification will be added as discovered.

According to Christine Alexander, in 1831 Zamorna was struggling to defeat an Insurrection or the Great Rebellion.

This was  caused or led by one of  Branwell Bronte’s main characters, the balding former pirate, drover,  gambler and serial seducer Northangerland (also known as Alexander Percy, Ellrington or Rogue) that is part of the  First Angrian  War of March 1831. This flares up again in 1832 by Northangerland’s renewed insurrection or Rebellion in The North (Sneakysland). Northangerland may have been aided at this time by the shadowy figure of Sir Jehu Macterrorglen (formerly cloth trader Jeremiah Simpson).

Zamorna leads a Constitutionalist Army, aided by Fidena, Wellesley and Warner Howard Warner, overthrowing his rival Northangerland’s Republican or French Revolutionary Government in the Glass Town capital Verdopolis.

This revolutionary situation,  along with most of the wars, was Branwell’s  creation, his earlier chosen characters included a version of Napoleon.

1833/34 The War of Encroachment

In 1833/4 the War of Encroachment saw the Ashantee tribes to the East of Verdopolis attack Verdopolis, Angria and the other allied countries of the Great Glass Town Federation. It is fought mainly in ‘the East’ around the  city of Angria and provinces of Northangerland  and Zamorna,  after whom Zamorna and Northangerland are named Duke and Earl respectively once victorious.

Zamorna and Northangerland have a love-hate relationship throughout the Angrian sagas but during the War of Encroachment are working together against external threats and encroachment.

The Ashantee tribe were joined by Arab Troops  from the North (the Sahara desert and Jibell Kimmri or the Mountains of the Moon above Sneakysland and Angria) and the French troops (from offshore island / colony of Frenchyland) led by a “Napoleon” figure.

The French troops are also led by General Massena, Commander of French Forces against Verdopolis. Massena later returns to campaign  with Ardrah and Northangerland against Zamorna.

The Battle of Velino near Freetown was a decisive battle in the War of Encroachment c. November / December  1833. Velino and the Velino Hills was Headquarters for Fidena’s troops during this war. Popular Angrian Field Marshall (and horseman “The Chevalier”) Sir Frederic Lofty, Earl of Arundel (Arundel the Angrian Province) was thought to have died or become missing in action during this battle. His younger brother Macara Lofty adopts his title and becomes active in the Verdopolitan Government under the Reformist Ardrah.

Zamorna was assisted in defeating the Ashantees by Joachim Murat, the flower of French chivalry who was rewarded with a post as an Angrian Minister (named after Napoleon’s cavalry commander).

Zamorna ‘s  role in suppressing this invasion led to him being granted in parliament on 9 February   1834 the disputed land to the East of Verdopolis, a new kingdom of Angria where he is to be known as King of Angria.

Angria is eventually formally added as a Kingdom (after parliamentary battles) to the Glass Town Federation, which became known as The Verdopolitan Union.

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Percy (or Rogue / Ellrington as he was formerly known) is rewarded for his role in defeating the Ashantee threat. He gets to be known as (the Duke of) Northangerland and is appointed the Angrian Prime Minister under Zamorna as King.

As in Russian novels and literature (War and Peace, Chekhov plays) what gets confusing in the Bronte sagas is the complex relationship between characters and the many names and honorary titles that they acquire over time and to different people.

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1835-37 – The Second Angrian War

December 1835 Angria is expelled from the Verdopolitan Union by Ardrah and his Reform Party.

1835 – Northangerland as a Prime Minister is denounced as a traitor and forced to resign his seals of office by Zamorna.

1836. Verdopolitan Union plunged into Civil War! Angria is expelled from the Verdopolitan Union!  Zamorna outlawed to his remote Hawkscliffe estate in the Sydenham foothills Northern in Angria! Or outlawed to the Ascension Isles …

By March 1836 – half of Angria is “in possession of our foes”.

Adrianpolis in Angria is invaded by Ashantee Forces under Quashia Qamina, briefly an ally of the Verdopolitan Government ruled by Zamorna’s ally Ardrah and His Reform Ministry.

Arthur, the Marquis of Ardrah and Prince of Parrysland, was a Commander or Admiral in the Verdopolitan Navy. Leader of the Reformist Party in Verdopolis, Ardrah  was opposed to Zamorna and the creation of the Kingdom of Angria.

The Marquis of Harlaw, Edward Tut Ross, son of John King of Rossland,  is one of Ardrah’s allies against Zamorna in the civil wars. Another of Percy ‘Rogue’ Northangeralnd’s Colonels in the Rebel Army  is Arthur O’Connor, former cattle dealer.

Civil war between Angria and the Verdopolitan Union is happening at the same time as the Ashantee threat.

June 1836 – Zamorna is defeated at the Battle of Edwardston in Angria on the 26 June 1836, leaving his country to be marauded by the victorious Ashantees, Arabs and the Provisional Government of  Northangerland.

At Edwardston, Zamorna’s forces are defeated, losing 18,000 men (Captured? Killed? Wounded?) against the assembled forces of MacTerrorGlen, Massena, Quashia’s Ashantees and Lord Jordon / Sheik Medina’s Arabs.

Native Angrian hero, Squire of Ardsley in Angria, George Turner Grey (as described in the novelette The Return of Zamorna) called his tenantry around him after the Battle of Edwardston for a memorable last stand, to the motto “Ardsley to the Van!”

The Angrian army … ruined, the Angrian nation enslaved and the Angrian King disgraced.” (Five Novelettes)

From June 1836 to September  / autumn 1836,  Northangerland was in control of the new French style Provisional Government of the Grand Republican Union (formerly the Verdopolitan Union). He has direct control over Angria where his allies (Ashantees,French and Bedouin forces) wreak a reign of terror. The Arab troops are led by Lord Jordon, in Byronic ‘Turkish’ dress and known as Sheik Medina.

Further bickering between Northangerland and Zamorna (now his  son-in-law) about family and government seemed to have led to this further Republican rebellion by Northangerland against Zamorna.

July 1836 – Northangerland’s troops storm Rivaulx near Hawkscliffe on the edge of a royal forest, a hunting lodge where some of Zamorna’s family and followers are sheltering. One of Zamorna’s young sons Ernest Fitz-Arthur is captured and killed.

Zamorna  has been deposed into exile after The Battle of Edwardston by Northangerland, but is  rescued or reinstated by Constitutionalist Forces in December 1836.

August to October 1836 – Constitutionalist allies  of the deposed Zamorna  fight on, Fidena and Warner Howard Warner fight on in the hills, whilst Angrian Commander in Chief the Italian general Henri Fernando Di Enara ‘The Tiger’ fights on at Fort Gazemba.

Warner Howard Warner, governor of an Angrian province and then Prime Minister of Angria, appears to have waged a guerrilla war with his “blackguards and boors” in the Yorkshire Moor-like Olympian Hills of Angria, in support of Zamorna. He rallies the “War worn” troops of Angria to avenge Zamorna’s dead son Ernst Fitz-Arthur.

The Constitutional Forces of the former Verdopolitan Government (under Wellington and Fidena) eventually retake Verdopolis where Northangerland had his capital in December  1836.

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Zamorna returns from exile in December 1836.

January to June 1837 – Northangerland’s retreating allies are routed by forces  loyal to Zamorna. The Revolutionary troops of Northangerland that invaded Angria were routed at the Battle of Leyden near Alnwick in  Angria and at the Battle of Westwood.

1837the Battle of Leyden. Zamorna and his troops won a victory over  the Ashantee forces of Quashia, Montmorenci, MacTerrorGlen’s troops and the Arab troops of Lord Jordon / Sheik Medina. The battle is fought around the Village of Leyden near Alnwick in Angria.

Branwell Bronte’s narrator figure Captain Henry Hastings (Angrian soldier, poet and historian) has deserted from Zamorna’s own 19th Regiment (“The Devil’s Own”) and is now fighting against  Zamorna.

General Lord Edward Hartford and Captain Sir William Percy (an officer in the Angrian 10th Hussars ) fought on Zamorna’s side against Northangerland. Sir William Percy is Northangerland’s disowned second son.

Zamorna’s enemy Lord Jordan (Sheik Medina) is killed in the battle.

1837 – The Battle of Westwood – Zamorna and troops rout Northangerland’s army of  Montmorenci and MacTerrorGlen’s troops.

In the muddled chronology of Angria and its Civil Wars, this may be  situation that Saunderson (Fidena) and the Narrator may be discusssing in the exceprt above, round about March 1837, according to Heather Glen.  

One of the Angrian’s most infamous infantry regiments are The Bloodhounds (Glen, p. 501) led by the Italian ‘Tiger’ Enara.

“A host of Dark whiskered and bearded warriors such looks of savage and relentless ferocity I never held before … their great Raven banner bore in silver blazonry the single emphatic syllable. “DEATH” at their head … accompanied by 8 vast liver coloured dew lapped red eyed bloodhounds held in leashes stood the second commander of their Army Colonel Henry Fernando Enara. (Branwell Bronte, Angria and the Angrians

Zamorna had some unusual generals including Henri Fernando di Enara, an Italian known as ‘the Tiger’, whom he created Baron of Etrei and Governor of this Angrian savanna province of Etrei. Other generals include Sir John Kirkwall and Frederic Lord Lofty.

Gazemba, June 1837 – The troops are reviewed before the final Battle of Evesham by Zamorna at Gazemba, a frontier town (population 59,000) in the desert on the East bank of the Calabar River. The Calabar river also links back to his capital Adrianpolis and Fort Adrian his  mansion / fortified castle on its east Bank.  The Calabar River has its source in burning and desolate and hostile African desert. Gazemba was the centre of Zamorna’s operations against the Ashantees.

Zamorna finally achieve peace using  Angrian troops to defeat  Northangerland and his retreating Allies during the ‘Campaign for the West’ at the Battle of Evesham, 30 June 1837 on the banks of the Angrian River of Cirhala.

Led by General Thornton and Zamorna, Angrian troops and their allies retake Evesham, despite the town being fortified by Northangerland’s Revolutionary troops.

General Wilson / Wilkin Thornton, an Angrian farmer with a strong Yorkshire accent,  became Commander in Chief of the Angrian Army. He was an ally of Zamorna, related through his marriage to Julia Wellesley, Zamorna’s cousin.

Northangerland is exiled to Monkeysland. For a while …

1838 – Angria is at peace,  Zamorna’s enemies scattered. Northangerland returns to his country seat and third wife.

1839 – January / February – disgraced soldier Captain Henry Hastings makes an attempt on Zamorna’s life, having drunkenly already killed his superior officer and deserted to the enemy in Paris.

21-23 February 1839 – Zamorna  and  Northangerland are publicly reunited at his Zamorna Palace in Adrianoplos in Angria, despite angry crowds who blockade the place when they discover Northangerland is there.

This timeline was pieced together from the notes in Christine Alexander’s and Heather Glen’s editions of the Bronte’s early works.

Gaming possibilities 

Plenty of imaginative gaming scenarios should present themselves, based on the Angrian and Glass Town sagas of a mixed Colonial Central West Africa / European fusion, along with the North and South Pacific islands of Gondal and Gaaldine.

They were written by the Bronte family at a time (1820s – 1850s) of European Insurrection, nation building and independence, Latin American revolution, industrial revolution, strange alliances, Civil Wars and colonial expansion and exploration. This was the post-Napoleonic background that the Brontes were growing up in and reading about in journals and newspapers.

  • Post-Napoleonic Peninsula and Waterloo veterans as elders / generals
  • North African troops and desert arabs, led by a Byronic European in Turkish dress,
  • French colonial troops, African Ashantee warriors, insurgent and guerrilla forces.

Charlotte’s quick character sketch of Saunderson

Mr. Saunderson is later revealed to be John Sneachie, Duke of Fidena, speaking under an assumed name of “John of The Highlands”, Sneachisland or Sneakysland being one of the Glass Town Federation Imagi-Nations to the North West of Angria. It is the equivalent to the Scottish Highlands, albeit laid by Branwell and Charlotte Bronte over a fictional map of Central West Africa!

Many of the early settlers into this fictional colony are from Scotland and Yorkshire.

Saunderson is a dark haired, brooding character, with cane, black neckerchief and wearing a “blue surtout and Jane trousers” a Regency Trench Coat or Greatcoat with twill cotton trousers, or Jeans, according to The OED and Christine Alexander. How dashingly military today it still feels buying cavalry twill trousers, rather than jeans.

The narrator or the I  is Charlotte Bronte and / or one of her many personas, her irreverent Angrian Narrator Charles Townsend.

Hopefully the bizarre tropical fusion of Africa with the Scottish Highland aspects of The Bronte Imagi- Nation settlers, the characters of Sanderson, MacTerrorGlen and such will allow kilted Scottish Highlander type troops to be used in gaming scenarios, albeit possibly in tropical dress. Scottish New Zealand troops and militia memorably wore of fashioned kilts for bush fighting and River wading  during the later Maori Wars.

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There is even the rogue Scotsman, MacTerrorGlen, leader of a drunken Scots brigade and leader of the Verdopolitan Reform Army fighting with Ardrah and the Ashantees against Zamorna’s and the Angrians. Known as Sir Jehu MacTerrorGlen (a reinvention of himself from his other life, as a roguish linen trader Jeremiah Simpson). After the defeat at the battle of Evesham, MacTerrorGlen is hunted down by Captain William Percy and the Angrian Government Police.

Having recently acquired several other Bronte books, including the encyclopaedic The Oxford Companion to The Brontes and Heather Glen’s edited edition of Charlotte Bronte’s Tales of Angria, there looks to be plenty more details of places, characters and events to flesh out the maps and timeline for future gaming scenarios.

Previous Bronte inspired Gaming blog posts

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/17/ashantees-or-zulus-reborn/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2016/06/12/the-brontes-games-scenarios/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/brontes-waterloo-soldiers/

https://manoftinblog.wordpress.com/2017/03/19/bronte-imagi-nations-maps/

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Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Born near London and now based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

7 thoughts on “Charlotte Bronte as Gamer # 1”

  1. Another fascinating post.I have just ordered the book you mention. I am tempted to use these narratives as part of my gaming.
    Cheers
    Alan

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  2. Alan

    I think there should be many interesting scenarios and skirmishes here. Enough for everyone!

    When the brother and Bronte sisters disagreed, each one would just write an alternative account, bring characters back to life etc.

    Now reading through more Bronte juvenilia for more terrain and uniform ideas.

    Next job is to write a similar gazetteer piece for their two islands Gondal and Gaaldine, then the kingdoms of the. Glasstown Federation to the side of Angria.

    Mark

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    1. The Oxford Companion to the Brontes (an A-Z encyclopaedia style reference book) by Christine Alexander is proving interesting on the historical background to the period and its characters as well as to the Brontes themselves and their fictional characters and places.

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  3. I have been trying to get caught up on my favorite blogs. This is an intriguing post. I went to a bookstore yesterday looking fro this book, but no luck. It makes me think of my brothers and mine fictional countries we had as kids. Hardly as clever as the Brontes, but still made for a happy childhood. Perhaps I should do a small history on my blog.

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    1. John
      I think your own fictional countries sound as good – I am finding the Bronte ones are hard work because there is so much to them but also much is missing or that was in their heads. I wanted to steal their fictional geography and fill in the gaps as best I could.

      There are lots of scenarios here.

      However I think another solution that I will explore further in a blogpost is to jump forward a decade or two, past all the mess of complicated political and personal relationships of the Bronte characters to the Early to Mid Victorians. The Bronte tales are written in the decade before Queen Victoria was on the throne and into the early years of her reign, roughly 1830s / 1840s.

      What would the Bronte countries have made of the expanding British, French and Other European Powers throughout the Victorian era?

      Jump further forward to the Palmerston forts scares of Napoleon 3rd in the 1850s, European Colonial expansion throughout the nineteenth century.

      What of the Angria, Gondal and GlassTown involvement with the First and Second World Wars? Who did they side with? I’m pretty sure that being set in fictional Central West Africa and the fictional tropical Pacific islands Gondal (North Pacific) and Gaaldine (South Pacific) that they would continue to be at risk of being Invaded by or invading “real” countries into the 20th Century.

      There is also the throwing off the Colonial leash and independence from Empire in the 1950s and 1960s.

      I wonder how the Angrian Defence Forces dealt with WW1 colonial campaigns in Africa? Problems with The Vichy French rulers of Frenchysland off the coast of Angria?

      I wonder how the rival provinces and rulers in Gondal or Gaaldine dealt with the Spanish / American colonial conflicts in the 1890s or the Japanese Pacific campaign after 1941?

      I can see it now, the Bronte fictional countries but armed with early light tanks, bicycles, biplanes and Machine guns skirmishing in the tropical grassland jungles moors and rivers (fused / mixed with their familiar Yorkshire moors).

      Being Imagi-nations, there are no restrictive uniform charts, and there is little or no guidance from the text to such things. This gives lots of freedom to experiment or invent with colour schemes but this is frustrating also. No comfort zone of uniform books or Osprey titles, but lots of period inspiration from them!

      I’m trying to loosen my paint schemes on existing 15mm and 54mm figures and ones on the painting tray to make them flexible for real or fictional campaigns. Rebrand them with officers and flags and fire away, much as James is doing on the Quantrill’s Toy Soldiers blog.

      Some of the Bronte books such as Branwell Bronte’s books edited by Victor Neufeldt are £40+ academic reprints each – in a trilogy – ouch! Maybe another time.
      So I am “making do” with the digest of these stories in the extensive footnotes in cheaper paperback reprints secondhand, including Charlotte Brontes Tales of Angria edited by Heather Glen (Oxford) and the Oxford Companion by Christine Alexander, a useful A to Z of the Brontes lives and works. Helping me puzzle out and fill in my fictional Maps more …

      I think if the Brontes had been born a generation or two later, the Bronte sisters and brother would have been part of the H G Wells science fiction generation. And H G Wells, Floor Games, Little Wars, matchstick firing guns, Gardens and lead soldiers
      Or 100 plus years later writing fantasy / dungeon / Victorian Science Fiction / Steampunk games and scenarios.

      All inspired by Branwell’s original box of toy soldiers …

      Mark, Man of TIN blog

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  4. This has been quite inspiring. Your potted history is a really useful stater for the rest of us. I can for see a lot of Bronte inspired campaigns ahead. It will be fascinating to see how other gamers interpret the history and import that into their games.

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    1. Jon
      Thanks. Your comments and others have given me many ideas (sketched out replying to John) for future blog posts on the Brontes Imagi Nations into the 19th and 20th centuries …

      Mark, Man of TIN blog

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