Roosmarijn Doolaard (2 January 1112 – 21 May 1185) was a Cyntha and a close friend of Empress Matilda ‘Maud’ of Anjou. She is known for her quest across the world to recruit Nyridiae under Maud’s commands, during the First Hycath War. She was awarded the Duchy of Chiltern for her loyalty and services during the war. Her journals and diaries remain remarkable pieces of history, containing detailed documentation not only of her travels but also of the famous city of Aktau.
Roosmarijn was born in Oxford and was raised by her Dutch parents. As a child, she was already a free spirit who didn’t care much for traditions or protocol. Since she was also a good student, her parents didn’t worry much about her behaviour. She became pretty independent from a young age. Through her parents’ connections, she met Maud when they were still teenagers, and the two formed a strong friendship that remained solid throughout their lives.
Context and Preparations
In early 1137, Maud had started to take action against her cousin, King Stephen of Blois, to regain the throne that was rightfully hers from him. She asked Roosmarijn to help her achieve this. Roosmarijn was entrusted with the mission to travel to Anatolia and recruit the Nyridia there to fight in the upcoming war. Maud also had Lucy of Bolingbroke, a powerful Nyridia, as her ally. However, she was beginning to doubt Lucy’s loyalty, which she told Roosmarijn in confidence.
The Journey Begins
Roosmarijn’s travels first brought her to Vienna, in 1137. There, she saw the full extent of the dominance of the Catholic Church for the first time. Seeing the corruption within the Church and the extensive political influence it had, made her realise the importance of her journey as well as its dangers. She had no choice but to keep a low profile in order to avoid imprisonment or death.
Constantinople and Nuray
Continuing on her journey, she reached Constantinople. In the city’s outskirts, she discovered a Hycath community functioning as a refugee camp for exiled Hycath citizens who had been banished there out of fear and distrust. Here, Roosmarijn met Nuray, a young orphan Hycatha. Nuray made her aware of the existence of a fully Hycath-led city the refugees always spoke about. She was so intrigued by this news that she abandoned her original mission in order to find this place with Nuray by her side. During the journey, they formed a strong bond, and Roosmarijn promised her that once they completed the mission, they would return to England together.
Aktau and Elmira
A few weeks after leaving Constantinople, Roosmarijn and Nuray arrived in the city of Aktau, which was under the leadership of the Nyridia Elmira and her second-in-command, Zoraida of Valencia, another Nyridia. Elmira refused to join Roosmarijn immediately in the war and had her spend a couple of months in Aktau, where Roosmarijn studied their advanced library and was introduced to Aktau’s societal structure. She was so impressed by this new way of living that she made long notes about it in her journals. Roosmarijn also used her time in Aktau to expand her knowledge of Hycathic magic, as the local Hycathae were clearly more advanced and powerful than any she had met before.
After three months, Roosmarijn approached Elmira again and this time was successful in convincing her to leave Aktau for England. The exact reason remains unknown; some historians, like Dr. Victoria Flood, have suggested that it had something to do with advanced Hycathic magic experiments that were being conducted within the city and that were intended to find ways of transferring the powers of Hycath Relics to humans. In her book An Odyssey of Fire, Flood posits that Roosmarijn confronted Elmira about this, and that the two came to an agreement that saw them depart Aktau together, leaving Zoraida to assume the position of leader.
Whilst preparing to leave Aktau, Elmira persuaded Roosmarijn to divert her course once again and search for Tanoute of Damanhur, another Nyridia and a former acquaintance who had made her way west after leaving her homeland of Egypt. Roosmarijn, convinced of the power of two Nyridiae over one by her experience of Aktau’s command structure, agreed; however, this change of plan required travelling through dangerous lands, and Roosmarijn felt compelled to leave Nuray in Aktau for her own safety, to the young girl’s consternation.
After a long and exhausting search, and drawing on Elmira’s prior knowledge and the scant information they could find elsewhere, Roosmarijn and Elmira located Tanoute in the trading post town of Ouadane in West Africa. Their recruitment attempt was a resounding success; Elmira’s presence helped matters, but Roosmarijn’s newfound experience and confidence in sharing the English Hycathae’s vision sealed the deal.
Return to England
Roosmarijn and her two recruits arrived at Maud’s court in Gloucester in September 1140, where they were swiftly inducted into the war effort. Maud is known to have been impressed by Roosmarijn’s yield and to have forgiven her straying from her original goal.
Roosmarijn soon met with Alice Eymor and Aurélie Paquet, both of whom had been based at Gloucester for a year since returning from their own travels – and, in Aurélie’s case, the Siege of Arundel. Roosmarijn would form an especially close bond with Aurélie, taking her under her wing as the Hycathae continued to build their forces.
The Battle of Lincoln
Roosmarijn served in the Hycathic forces at the Battle of Lincoln under Maud and Gabriella Fitzwalter. Upon their victory, Maud named her Duchess of the newly-created Duchy of Chiltern, with Oxford as her seat and capital.
Career in Hycathic England
After Elmira returned to lead Aktau on completion of her war service, Roosmarijn assumed custodianship of her knowledge as transcribed in her own diaries. These would be used as a significant reference point for the setting up of the inaugural Hycathic society in England under Empress Matilda.
Return to Aktau
Although Roosmarijn kept her promise to Nuray, it took her ten years to return to Aktau. When she finally did so in the 1150s, Nuray had become an adult and was a proud member of Aktau’s society. Roosmarijn planned to bring Nuray back to England with her, but the young Hycatha had already set up her home in Aktau and no longer wished to leave. Heartbroken, but accepting Nuray’s choice, Roosmarijn returned to England alone. Her diaries record that she never forgot about Nuray, and would always consider her to be as good as her own child.
Roosmarijn gave birth to two daughters, Hendrika and Geertruida, in the years following her attempted reunion with Nuray. She also maintained a close link with the Paquet family down the years, most notably being chosen by Aurélie as godmother to her first child.
Death and Legacy
Roosmarijn died in 1185, surrounded by her family and loyal friends. Her Duchy passed to her elder biological daughter, Hendrika.
Her journals remained in her family, being passed down from generation to generation. In 1533, her descendant Jacoba would be inspired by these diaries and would organise an attack on Aktau, destroying not only the city in the process but the Doolaard family line as well.