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Morkar is a man beset on all sides. He holds the Earldom of Northumbria from the last undisputed King of England: Edward the Confessor. But it came with a terrible price: the new King--then only Earl Harold--had had to recommend to Edward that his own brother Tostig be removed from the Earldom as his cruelties had driven the thegns and franklins of Northumbria to the point of open rebellion against him. Edward had had no choice but to agree and depose Tostig in Morkar's favor. Tostig did not go quietly: he swore to have the blood of his brother and Morkar's head on a pike above the gates of York.

Morkar's personal life had not been much happier. Married young to Gertha of Corsham, she had hated Northumbria and Bamburgh on sight and taken herself back to Ludenwic and Court. No love was lost between the two but that meant no heirs for the Earldom for once the marriage had been consummated, she had refused her duties as wife.

Worse yet for Morkar, his Archbishop of York, Roger, had refused his request for a divorce and had persuaded King Edward to agree to it as well. Which meant that Morkar could not marry the woman with whom he had fallen in love: Sigardis. But he told King and Bishop both to be damned when they tried to force him to deny her. If they'd not free him from an empty marriage bed, then they'd not the right to forbid him Sigardis. They had three children. Twins who were now fifteen: Haluin and Elena and one other daughter, Sefa.

With Gertha's death, Morkar thought he was finally free to marry Sigardis and legitimize their children as his heirs. But Edward refused to allow it. He wanted no half-Danish son to succeed to the Earldom of Northumbria. Morkar (and his brother, Edwin of Mercia, finally managed to wring a compromise from King and Archbishop: if, within a year and a day of Gerytha's death a wife of proper station could not be found, then could Morkar and Sigardis marry.

It almost came to pass. But, two months shy of the deadline imposed, word was sent that Richenda d'Segre had been chosen by Phillipe of France. Morkar's sister, Soraya of Skye, could find no reason to refuse the girl and had to accept Richenda as Morkar's new wife. The proxy wedding was performed and Morkar had to give the heartcrushing news to Sigardis--and their children.

What Morkar did not know was that Richenda had already had a suitor to whom she had given her heart:

Ricchar d'Yvelines--the very man who stood in for Morkar at the proxy wedding. And who had managed to have himself appointed the Frankish King's Ambassador to the Court of Harold of England.

This year a very special project was undertaken by PanHistoria--one that is of great importance as there is no larger truth than the fact that horses should be allowed to live out their lives in dignity.

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