The Fitzwalters are one of six Founding Families of the Queendom of East Mercia on the Anglia Isle, and also its ruling family since 1378. In the present structure of the Queendom they also hold the Duchy of Nottingham. The current head of the family is King John II of East Mercia, with his niece, Marian Fitzwalter, as heir apparent who also holds the title Duchess of Nottingham.
As the Queendom’s royal family, they maintain East Mercia Palace as their official residence and Nottingham Castle as their private residence.
The Fitzwalters are Norman in origin, hailing from Saint-Lô in what was then the department of Manche.
The knight Guillem Fitzwalter entered England as part of Willem the Conqueror’s invading forces in 1066. Willem instructed Guillem to build a castle at the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Snotingham – subsequently renamed Nottingham – which was completed in 1068. However, Guillem’s relationship with an English Hycatha, Cyneburg Seely, brought disgrace upon his name, and his assets were stripped and given to William Peverel.
First Age of Hycath
The Fitzwalter family would recoup their lost assets with the defeat of the Church and the arrival of the First Age of Hycath in England in 1141. Guillem’s descendant, Gabriella Fitzwalter – a Cyntha, just as her mother and grandmother – was selected by Empress Matilda “Maud” Beauclerc as general in the Battle of Lincoln. This was the decisive conflict in the First Hycath War, which saw the defeat of King Stephen of Blois. England was reorganised by Maud into sixteen Duchies, supporting her ruling seat of London. Nottingham became the main city of the new Duchy of East Mercia with Gabriella as the first Duchess, in recognition of her service. In this new state of female primacy, Gabriella’s title would pass upon her death to her only surviving daughter, Alviva, and be held by her female descendants for the next two centuries.
The 9th Duchess, Mary-Anne Fitzwalter, would become a well-revered historical figure. In 1378, she travelled to Rome, accompanying Empress Matilda VI of England and Adelaide Loxley. They were travelling to fight in what would be known as the Sacking of the Vatican, the climactic battle in a conflict with the Church. This battle stretched back to the 1320s when England was in dispute with France over female succession to the throne. They won the battle, and succeeded in driving the Church out of Europe. However, Mary-Anne discovered Empress Matilda’s plan to conquer all Europe for her own ends and was forced to kill her, triggering a succession crisis back home.
Second Age of Hycath
In order to avoid another severe conflict, Mary-Anne was instrumental in dissolving England into eleven autonomous Queendoms, the landmass now named the Anglia Isle. She remained as ruler of East Mercia, then its first Queen, until her death in 1412. Within the new Queendom itself, she joined forces with the heads of five other prominent families – including the Loxleys – to establish Nottingham anew as capital city. They would be the Founding Families, and Mary-Anne created new Duchies within the Queendom for each family.
One of the most notable elements of Queendom life to emerge from this period were the Championships, first held in the wake of Queen Mary-Anne’s coronation in her honour.
Mary-Anne’s daughter and successor, Matilda, would see her reign troubled by seditious rumblings from the Olivers, one of the Founding Families. They had become upset by the continuing state of female-dominated and matrilineal succession. Matters were accelerated when Eliza Oliver, heir to the Duchy of Morleston, did not produce a daughter. She wanted her first-born son, Merrick, to inherit, but the Queen preferred Eliza’s niece, Bathsheba. As a compromise, Queen Matilda married her daughter, Princess Cecily, to Eliza’s younger son Gregory, but she and Merrick were not satisfied by this and began gathering allies – including the Loxleys under Adelaide Loxley, 3rd Duchess of Huntingdon. During this time, the Queen had commissioned the first incarnation of the Eye in Nottingham, to keep order as tensions grew.
Cecily succeeded her mother as Queen upon the Queen’s death in 1444 and held out against Merrick and his cabal. This culminated in an attempted coup in 1449, which Cecily successfully quashed. This was partly due to the help of Adelaide, who had defected from the Olivers’ side and surrendered to her. She executed Merrick and banished the Olivers, who would move west and establish their own city, Fort Oliver, in the years to follow. The disgraced family’s former lands and titles passed to another prominent East Mercian family, the Aldridges. Although they were not founders, they ascended to that level of society and became involved in the administration of the Queendom.
In 1656, Queen Alviva II designated a new location for the Championships, which endures to this day. The University of Clifton was granted the right to move its campus to the former site; its own former site was leased to the Barton family, who founded Barton University there.
Two centuries after their banishment, the Olivers would return to Nottingham as part of a rebellion intended to restore England as a single monarchy under their rule. This was known as the Acorn Uprising. In 1671, Lydia and Oswald Oliver, the niece and nephew of King Lionel of Fort Oliver, murdered Queen Alviva II and her teenage daughter and heir Gabriella. This brought about the end of the Fitzwalter family’s Hycathic line. Alviva’s brother Jonathan replaced her, becoming John I, the first King of East Mercia. He, together with his wife-to-be, Eleanor Rosamund Loxley, fought the Olivers in the Battle of Anglia in 1673, at the close of the Second Age of Hycath, emerging victorious.
In the wake of their defeat, the Olivers’ adopted homeland was redistributed among the surrounding Queendoms, with East Mercia gaining the parcel of land on which Fort Oliver itself had stood. King John I presided over the integration of the settlement into East Mercia, ensuring that those citizens who had not sided with the Olivers were not tainted by association and were allowed the same rights as citizens of Nottingham. Oliver supporters and sympathisers were treated less cordially, with some agitators tried and convicted of seditious conduct.
The Age of Equality
King John I died in 1684. Queen Eleanor then ruled as Regent for twelve years; their combined reign is recognised in history as a great era, ushering in the Age of Equality. In this age, lines of succession abandoned the matriarchy of the Ages of Hycath without resorting to pre-Hycathic patriarchy. John and Eleanor’s son and eldest child, Richard Fitzwalter, was crowned King in 1696. Their daughter, Alviva Loxley, inherited her mother’s Royal Duchy of Huntingdon.
Richard’s reign had a troublesome start when, at his coronation, a large portion of Nottingham Castle went up in flames after stray cannon sparks ignited the many banners and decorations hung from the castle walls for the event. His solution was to rebuild the castle in a classical European style, moving away from its previous medieval incarnation and extending the grounds. A century and a half later, Queen Alviva III would make further extensions, most notably a third storey.
Richard’s other great architectural achievement was the completion, in 1723, of the neoclassical Champion’s Arena, a project commissioned by his father in memory of Richard’s aunt Queen Alviva II.
In the wake of the Second Hycath War in the mid-1890s, Queen Rosamund II restored the Eye, which had fallen into ruin following its destruction during the Acorn Uprising. Rosamund believed that strong defensive surveillance could have limited the damage of the war, and that it was therefore necessary, going forward. The Eye received its present-day name upon completion in 1901. Since then, it has been in constant service, and it has also been maintained and updated as the technologies of the times have permitted.
Nottingham suffered severe losses due to the Great Torrent of 1921, being virtually halved in size. Due to its solid defences, Nottingham Castle survived, but it has since been a coastal installation.
King Richard III died in 1986 at the relatively young age of 56, leaving his eldest son, Richard – himself only 24 – to succeed him as Richard IV. The younger Richard had been together with Eleanor Loxley, seven years his senior and already a general, for three years previous to this, but his infertility had led to the end of the relationship. He would remain a bachelor throughout his reign.
Promised Land Campaign
see also: Promised Land Campaign
King Richard IV had learned that a new seed had been developed in Al-Murooj. Al-Murooj, also known as the Promised Land, was founded by Hycathae fleeing in defeat after the Second Hycath War a century earlier. The new seed could grow in extreme climates and it could feed on saltwater. With much of East Mercia now ridden with saltwater, the new seed would be a boon for their recovery. Richard and his Council duly opened negotiations with Al-Murooj in an attempt to secure a consignment.
The negotiations came to nothing, however, and Richard made the decision to lead the East Mercian Army to Al-Murooj in 2015, installing his niece Marian as regent in his absence. The changes also necessitated the return of Richard’s younger brother, John Fitzwalter, along with his wife Isobel (née Clifton, daughter of Warden Charles Clifton). Champion archer Robyn Loxley, daughter of Eleanor and girlfriend to Marian was among the company who left, to great public fanfare.
Upon arriving at Al-Murooj, the army first put pressure on the elders of the city from the outside, but the Hycathae stood firm against their threats. After six months, Richard escalated the conflict into all-out war by launching an attack on the city. This war would last eighteen months, ending in 2017, when East Mercia lost. Richard and Robyn never returned to Nottingham, sparking rumours back home that they died in battle.
Reign of King John II
John Fitzwalter had taken over as regent by 21 March 2016, following Marian’s abdication. As the war continued to drain Nottingham’s finances and yield little news of the army, the public’s support began to waver. Political agitation from figures such as Will Scarlett – who had protested King Richard’s campaign from the off – further chipped at morale. The rumours of the King’s and Robyn’s deaths in battle, borne by returning survivors, weighed heavily on the people. John took the decision to declare his brother and Robyn dead, ascending to the throne of East Mercia as King John II in October 2017.
Concurrent with this, he had announced plans to build a wall separating Nottingham into two Circles. The more affluent centre of the city would be designated the Inner Circle, with the more suburban and agrarian outskirts named the Outer Circle. The official rationale was to improve safety and security, which was enough to placate a populace seeking reassurance and direction in difficult times. Plans were approved in 2016, while the war was still being fought in Al-Murooj, and construction of the Wall was completed in 2018.
Queen Isobel lost her life in a terrorist bombing in 2018, orchestrated by Will Scarlett and his rebels, who had successfully invaded Nottingham Castle. This act pitted them firmly against King John.
King John II remains head of the family and monarch of East Mercia. He is currently most active in the field of sustainability, working to improve the environmental profile of the country and Nottingham in particular.
Marian Fitzwalter serves as Duchess of Nottingham and remains resident at Nottingham Castle as heir apparent to King John. Her relationship with Robyn Loxley soured upon Robyn’s departure to Al-Murooj, and she is presently in a relationship with Philippa Murdoch, Sheriff of Nottingham and half-sister to Robyn.
Coat of Arms
The Fitzwalters’ heraldic colour is blue, and their family coat of arms describes a sword enclosed by vines, denoting the family’s belief in the twin forces of militaristic might and respect for nature, which harks back to their Hycathic ancestry.
In Popular Culture
The Nottingham-based broadcaster and historian Dr. Annette Lynton is known as an authority on Gabriella Fitzwalter, having researched her as the central subject of her PhD. It was published in 2007, under the title Gabriella Fitzwalter: Woman Divided.
Professor Gilbert Arlin, an historian, also based in Nottingham, who has long been close to the present monarch, is the author of a continuing series of books on the family’s history, simply titled The Fitzwalters. The first three volumes have been published, with Arlin currently working on the fourth. He appeared in 2022 on Lynton’s podcast, The Clash of the Cousins, discussing Gabriella Fitzwalter and her contributions to the Battle of Lincoln and the Hycathic victory in 1141.