The City of Athlone


Again I intend to only amplify, interpret, or change what is needed for purposes of the saga.

Reference: TCI pg 41

Geoffroy de Montrose, Baron of Athlone

Baron Geoffroy de Montrose is ruler of Athlone. He is English, holds the town with mostly English soldiers and a both sizable and loyal cadre of Norman knights in particular, and in theory reports to despised De Lacy as his direct overlord. Further Baron de Montrose is unquestionably Norman, doesn't seem to enjoy the company of his Irish subjects, and has rapidly acquired a reputation for a very deadly seriousness about protocol and respect for his power among said subjects. Despite all of these things which the Irish typically disdain de Montrose has grudging respect and growing acceptance amongst his people for several reasons.

Montrose has rapidly established that he is a competent and even handed administrator. The markets are well regulated and maintained, everything running on time and kept orderly and peaceful. Business in Athlone knows that it has a friend in the Baron. Those who would disrupt commerce either in the city or nearby have a keen awareness that they will draw his attention in a very negative way. Likewise what agriculture is attached to the city directly his representatives are equally actively engaged in. Montrose then actively is engaged with the prosperity of his fief for the long term, unlike many Normans who plainly are in Ireland to take as much as they can before leaving. His men are not actively shaking down the Irish for every possible penny or engaged in many of the other abuses that the English have a tendency to engage in when they do not care about the locals at all. Montrose seems to intend to stay and to be invested in his people. This alone is a substantive difference between him and many other English lords.

His efforts to foster prosperity in the small city have made an already attractive natural market even more so. In imposing a codified city charter he has brought a new stability and predictability to both the civic and commercial life of the city. Further he actively encourages expansion and immigration from the countryside, and the population of the city is growing quickly. In uncertain and violent times when villages are burned and ransacked many seek refuge in city life before or after their own see the same fate. And somehow he sees them all put to gainful work. Seemingly all are welcome to come yet none may be vagrant. And indeed for a growing city like Athlone there are uncannily few destitute or indigent types about. Some rumors persist that this is because of what dark deeds Montrose and his knights are up to in order to ensure such, but most see this state of affairs as speaking in favor of Montrose and his rulership.

Montrose further seems to have a growing estrangement from his overlord de Lacy. This is hardly an unusual state of affairs in Ireland, especially amongst lords who intend to stay. There is rumor whether this will turn into the English fighting one another internally or whether Montrose will genuinely "go native" and become one more Irish warlord that the English must contend with. The cause of this decreasing affinity is unclear. Plainly Montrose had the favor of de Lacy in order to be given Athlone to begin with. Why the two should be falling out when Montrose has made the fief prosperous remains to be seen. Rumors circulate regarding everything from Montrose failing to pay all of his taxes, de Lacy growing jealous over the increasing wealth and power of Montrose, to Montrose being a secret infernal sorcerer who de Lacy greatly fears. The truth is greatly speculated upon and may not be recognized when one hears it.

That said it is unwise to break the civic peace or in any way challenge the authority of Montrose or his men in Athlone. Disorderly conduct, especially that which might be seen as disruptive of trade, is punished with time in the stocks being the most mild of punishments. People who engage in violence within Athlone face stiff and swift punishment, often greatly exceeding the severity of the offense. Country visitors from the Irish hinterlands find themselves frequently warned by the locals that if they wish to keep their nose and ears they had best not run afoul of the Baron or his men. Any hint of being the agent of an outside lord or rebellion and men disappear, sometimes to reappear later hanging from the gates or walls. Athlone then is a very peaceful and prosperous city and Baron Montrose will not have it any other way.

Geoffroy de Montrose, Sorcerer of the Coill Tri

The Baron has very recently shocked the Hermetic World of Hibernia by joining the Coill Tri. What precisely the nature of his magical practice is he has not revealed. He displayed power enough, healing the wounds of a blindfolded subject as a demonstration, that his claim to magical power was taken seriously by native Irish Witches (locals to Athlone) and he was inducted rapidly with all due form. The fact that Athlone sits within Connacht and the significance of this as regards his joining the Coill Tri as a sitting lord does not appear lost on him. All of this transpired recently during the aftermath of the siege and fall of Praesis and the building and founding of Inchmore, both in very close proximity to Athlone. Many agree that he may have joined the Coill Tri as a response to all of these happenings on his doorstep. Some argue it is too dangerous to allow a sitting lord to be some, any, variety of sorcerer or wizard and be protected by the Treaty. Others say the Treaty and Hibernian Ways take precedence and as long as he stays in Connacht the matter is settled.

The Order then has not achieved anything like a steady state of affairs with Baron Montrose since his joining the Coill Tri, and as the nearest Covenant many eyes turn to Inchmore to take the lead on establishing what kind of relationship that will be.

The Knights of Montrose

Montrose has the direct loyalty of an unusual number of fully armed knights. They form a core of Norman martial power and nobility around him that insulate him socially and enforce his will. Many of the more violent punishments meted as justice in Athlone are attributable to their intercession. With varying temperament and mannerisms they are none the less violently efficient to a man and never publicly alone. Instead they are always accompanied by lesser men at arms in some number and frequently several of their own number. When Montrose himself takes the field he invariably does so surrounded by these men.

The knights are beginning to form the upper tier of society in Athlone around Montrose. They appear just as invested in staying in Athlone as he is moreover. There are rumors that several are courting local ladies of either noble blood or means, or both, as evidence of that these men like Montrose don't seem to intend to go anywhere.

The Council of Guildmasters

The craft guilds of Athlone have formal empowerment under the city charter to regulate their respective trades internally, under the authority and consent of the Baron. Montrose generally does not interfere (or seem to care) regarding internal guild matters though in principle of the charter he could. Though to what extent is unestablished. The guilds confer their ranks, judge work and candidates, set prices and otherwise regulate their respective trades. The Guildmaster of each guild has a seat on the Council which composes effectively one house of the legislature of the city. The Council then has the authority to propose and pass laws that affect the broader city beyond their trades, though then such laws require further being passed by the Merchant Consortium and approved by the Baron. In the eyes of most the craft guilds and their representation in the government of the city are the voice and representation of the local native Irish.

The Merchant Consortium

This is the official body of the Merchants that ply the markets of the city, work both the river and road trade, and otherwise compose the vibrant commerce that is trade in Athlone. They, like the craft guilds, regulate their trade. They confer guild ranks, evaluate and judge the work of candidates, set prices, and manage the market spaces which are not physical storefronts directly owned by Craft Guild members. Likewise they are one of the houses of the legislature of the city. The Merchant Council, composed of the Master Merchants as a body, has the same authority of the Craft Guild Council to propose and pass laws that affect the broader city beyond their trades. Likewise such laws require further being passed by the Craft Guild Council and approved by the Baron. In the eyes of most the Merchant Consortium represents the interest of people who are not necessarily local to Athlone but have a financial interest or stake there. There is also the quiet surety that the Goblins of Forionnag have sizable interests and influence, if not outright control, over the Merchant Consortium. Few are willing to say such things in public however.

The Dillon Witches

The extended family of the Dillons has a long legacy among their women of Folk Witchery. They usually manage to have at least one Gifted practitioner amongst their number and frequently in their history more than one. The women in this coven are knowledgeable witches and a cooperative family, so they understand the Gift. They compose most of one of the Tuatha of the Coill Tri, which includes all members in Athlone, and have never failed to produce a Gifted child as their tribute to the Order of Hermes. Their own Gifted witches are frequently protected and layered away from casual interaction in the city. The women have a long history of cultivating advantageous marriages and collectively wield considerable influence in Athlone. The witches prefer to avoid direct attention however the affluent families of the native Irish are keenly aware of them. The more religious are rather concerned about them. Those who are not so religious frequently try to arrange a marriage link into the family. The coming of Baron Montrose has shaken things up a bit yet how much will change with his presence remains to be seen.

The current patriarch of the Dillons as a family is Niall Dillon a Master Silversmith on the Craft Guild Council. The matriarch of the witches is Iselda Dillon, his grandmother and a Gifted witch of no small power who still looks younger than he does. She currently is the Ceannaire of the Tuath of Athlone. When Redcaps carry messages to the Tuath they deliver them generally to her.

The Ulfberht Smiths

The Ulfberht family is renown as a mystic smithing family in Athlone and beyond. They are racially Ostmen yet fully Hibernian in their ways. When or where from precisely they arrived is lost to memory. They have been present and further developing their craft for generations. The patriarch of the family is almost always a Master Weaponsmith with a seat on the Craft Guild Council. They are nominally members of the Coill Tri as well yet do not really participate in any meaningful way or make any effort to stay informed regarding the magical world. The true extent of their abilities is not fully known however even Magi of the Order have been known to come and order blades. They are selective as to their clients and they have enough requests that they can afford to be.

The Goblins

The Goblins of Forionnag all but rule Athlone at night. Good folk lock their doors at night and don't open them until morning. It is customary to give hospitality to any reasonably trustworthy person when dusk is coming so they are not on the streets at night, for this reason. Neither the regular townsfolk nor Baron Montrose seem to have any desire to change this state of affairs. The Goblins do not unduly terrorize the city or engage in wanton violence. Instead they prefer darkness and do their business and traveling by night and prefer to be unseen. Those who stray after dark however take their chances with either drawing their ire or finding themselves making a deal with a Goblin the terms of which never seem to work out quite how they might seem.

Significant Characters & Locations