Author: Paul Comben
Designer: Tom Russell
A Look at Hollandspiele’s Game of ‘The Anarchy’ in the UK
In 1066, as we all know, William the Conqueror took his kingly ambitions to England, won the Battle of Hastings somewhere near where it is meant to have taken place, and then started making every Saxon’s life a complete misery. It began with his own bloody and vindictive brand of repression, continued on with ‘Fitz This’ and ‘de Something That’ lording it all over the green and pleasant, and then, some fifty years after his death in 1087, things took another and even nastier turn.
This is the bit that not a lot of English people know about – the period of our history known as ‘The Anarchy.’ True, England is not all the UK, and in the Twelfth Century that very concept was still centuries off, but what happened in those years drew in much of mainland Britain as well as its nearest continental neighbour. Dynastic tussles, the age-old story of who was entitled to what because of what title they had, and who did not want to miss out on the main chance, led England into a prolonged era of civil war and political machinations. At its centre were two figures – King Stephen and his familial rival (cousin), Matilda – both of whom felt they had the better claim to the nation’s throne.
This is the bit that not a lot of English people know about – the period of our history known as ‘The Anarchy.’
Hollandspiele’s game covers four battles from the period – Tinchebray, which was fought in Normandy, and might be seen as an early scene-setter for all the fractious and violent dispute that would occur between England and France over the centuries to come; The Standard, where the Scottish King David, keen to help his niece, Matilda, in her claim as well as helping himself to a slice of the English north, lost big against a smaller and ad hoc English host; Lincoln, where Stephen might well have thought: ‘With friends like these…’; and Wilton, which historically was another example of Stephen’s less than wonderful luck when it came to being in the right place at the wrong time.