Alviva Josephine Fitzwalter was the 2nd Margrave of East Mercia and only surviving daughter of Gabriella Fitzwalter, a general in Empress Matilda’s army during the Clash of the Cousins civil war. She was a Cyntha and renowned philanthropist, establishing the Alviva Trust in support of war veterans and their families, which still operates today.
Alviva was the third child born to Gabriella, but the only one to survive infancy, her two elder sisters having died in a fire. Her mother never confirmed the identity of her father, but it was widely rumoured that he may have been Archibald ‘Archie’ Lane, a young man rescued by Gabriella and Margaret during their social vigilantism and with whom they became very close. Paternity was never proven, but Archie was recorded as being visibly distraught at the deaths of Gabriella’s first two children, as well as being very protective of Alviva.
As her only surviving child, Gabriella was overly protective of Alviva and until the age of six, the young girl had no contact with anyone except her mother, her grandparents and Gabriella’s partner Margaret Loxley. During this time, she was kept to the house and grounds of the Fitzwalter family mill, her mother believing it was too dangerous to allow her to roam freely outside.
Alviva’s mother was often absent during the first years of her life, performing acts of social vigilantism with Margaret and the soldiers she had access to as acting Earl of Huntingdon. As a result, Alviva was largely raised by her grandparents, Firmin and Theresa, and frequently helped them in the bakery.
Her mother’s actions made a strong impression on the young Alviva, however, instilling in her a lifelong belief in equality and justice for all.
First Hycath War
At the age of four, Alviva’s life was turned upside down by her mother’s involvement in the conflict which became the First Hycath War. Alviva was left at the mill, well away from the fighting, though Margaret made frequent visits to put her to bed at night, as well as Gabriella when she could manage it.
With the end of the war in 1141, Gabriella was rewarded for her service with the Marcdom of East Mercia and given Nottingham Castle, so Alviva moved from the mill to the castle to live with her mother and Margaret, then later to Hunting House, Margaret’s new mansion just outside Nottingham.
Although the relationship between Alviva and her mother became closer after the war, Alviva found life at the castle just as restricting as it had been at the mill. With Gabriella still over-protective, she was allowed only the freedom of the castle and its grounds, and never without at least one servant to accompany her. She was also subjected to a strict regime of study and battle training. As the new marcdoms became settled, there was still the constant threat of insurgency against the Empress and Gabriella wanted to make sure her daughter was ready for any eventuality.
As she grew older, however, these restrictions led Alviva to rebel against her mother and their relationship during these years was extremely volatile, with Margaret often acting as peacemaker and go-between. This culminated in an incident in YE 7 where Alviva ran away one morning, causing Gabriella to mount a search party formed from Huntingdon soldiers and Nottingham Castle staff; she was eventually located in a treehouse in Nottingham Forest that she had built herself. In letters written later in life, Alviva would express great regret at her actions during this period, noting how Margaret ultimately smoothed things over by choosing not to take umbrage at Gabriella for appropriating her soldiers.
Once Alviva came into her Hycathic powers, Gabriella relaxed her restrictions, finally allowing her daughter a degree of freedom. However, having fought her mother for so long on this point, Alviva found her new freedoms overwhelming after a life of confinement, so much so that she voluntarily retreated back to the safety of the castle and immersed herself in study and practice for the remainder of her teenage years.
Career and Legacy
By the age of 22, with her Cyntha powers fully developed and an accomplished swordswoman, Alviva finally felt ready to venture out into the wider world. As a devout Hycatha, and having grown up with her mother’s stories of the Hycathae brought back by Alice Eymor and Roosmarijn Doolaard to fight in the war, she embarked on an ambitious journey across Europe to retrace their steps and make a pilgrimage to the Hycathic sacred places.
She began by visiting Roosmarijn at her home in Oxford, spending several weeks with her before setting off for Dover. Her diaries from this time describe long conversations with Roosmarijn, during which they discussed Roosmarijn’s experiences and mapped out the route Alviva would take.
Alviva left Oxford for Dover on 12th July YE 17. Arriving in France she followed Roosmarijn’s footsteps, travelling first to Vienna then on through Constantinople to Aktau in modern day Kazakhstan. Here she met with Elmira and Nuray, delivering gifts and good wishes from Roosmarijn. Alviva’s diaries report that they were glad to hear news of their old friend and she spent several weeks in Aktau, visiting the Hycathic sacred sights and studying ancient texts. On her departure, Nuray gave Alviva a Hycath relic of a jade bracelet. Alviva treasured this and wore it for the rest of her life.
From Aktau, Alviva travelled to Ouadane, then a small settlement on the salt and gold trade routes through the Adrar Plateau in what is now Mauritania. Here she visited the Hycath temple established by Tanoute of Damanhur and studied the texts held there. She had hoped to meet with Tanoute, but found her to be away assisting Hycathae in Egypt where the Nile had flooded, destroying a harvest. However, she met many Hycathae who worked with Tanoute and spent many happy days in their company.
On her return to England, Alviva established a charitable foundation to assist those who had fought in the war and their families. She endowed this foundation with a sizeable sum which she instructed should be invested. As a result, the foundation’s resources grew over the centuries and today the Alviva Trust is the oldest continuing charitable foundation in East Mercia, as well as being one of the richest.
Alongside the foundation, Alviva also made regular donations to several Hycathic causes, all of which have earned her enduring acclaim into the present.
News of Alviva’s efforts had reached England and Gabriella in her absence – particularly through the link between Aktau and Roosmarijn – and so Alviva returned to find she had earned her mother’s full respect. By her own account as well as several others’, their relationship was the healthiest it would ever be from hereon in.
Margaret died in YE 23 and, as her only child, Alviva took on the responsibility of arranging the funeral rites, helped by Gabriella. It was during this time that she met William Hammond, son of Margaret’s cousin Abigail Hammond. Alviva and William became close and, two years later, they married on 12th July YE 25. However, the wedding was bittersweet as Gabriella was very ill by this time and died only a week later.
A little less than a year after the wedding, on 17th June YE 26, Alviva gave birth to her first daughter, whom she named Gabriella Margaret in honour of her mothers. In total, Alviva gave birth to seven children, four of whom lived to adulthood.
Alviva and William were devoted to each other and lived happily together until his death in December YE 59. Alviva’s daughter, Gabriella Margaret, wrote in her diaries that her mother seemed to fade after William’s death, spending much of her time walking in the funeral forests, visiting his tree, or her mothers’ tree. She died little more than a year after her husband, in January YE 61.