Battle of Lincoln
The Battle of Lincoln took place on 2 February 1141, at the walls of Lincoln Castle in England (now the Duchy of Lindsey in East Mercia). It was the final and decisive battle of the First Hycath War, fought between the forces of the Temple of Hycath under Empress Matilda ‘Maud’ Beauclerc and Gabriella Fitzwalter, and those of the Church as represented by King Stephen. The Hycathic victory at the battle, cemented by the King’s death, ushered in the First Age of Hycath under Empress Matilda.
See also: First Hycath War
Following his son and heir William Adelin’s death by drowning in the White Ship Disaster of 1120, King Henry I of England appointed his daughter, Empress Matilda “Maud”, as the heir to the English throne, in spite of attempts by his nephew, Stephen of Blois, to curry favour with him. Stephen swore an oath of fealty to Maud upon her appointment in 1127, but later usurped her throne upon the King’s death in 1135, with the help of the Church – especially his brother, Henry, who was a papal legate.
An incensed Maud immediately set in motion a campaign to reclaim her throne, which would stretch over roughly a five-and-a-half-year period, becoming a pitched conflict between Hycathism and the Church. Initially, she directed affairs at a distance from her lands of Normandy and Anjou but returned to England in 1139. She had recruited a young Cyntha, Aurélie Paquet, to accompany her as maid and protégé. Initially, they took shelter at Arundel Castle, the property of Maud’s stepmother, Adeliza of Louvain. They were then besieged there by Stephen and were only allowed to leave following a confrontation whose exact nature remains lost to history.
Maud reunited with her half-brother Robert of Gloucester, who had consistently opposed Stephen’s coronation and rule and had acted as Maud’s channel of communication to Alice Eymor, and set up court in Gloucester with Aurélie. Alice soon returned, having recruited Hycathae and Hycathi from across England to the cause at Maud’s instruction. Maud’s close ally Roosmarijn Doolaard, whom she had sent across the world to recruit additional Nyridiae, returned some months later, having recruited Elmira of Aktau and Tanoute of Damanhur. Through 1140 and early 1141, the growing party masterminded their final response to the threat of the Church.
In early 1141, the Nyridia Lucy of Bolingbroke – who, unbeknownst to Maud, had engineered the White Ship Disaster – found herself besieged at Lincoln Castle by Stephen and his forces, and wrote to Maud to appeal for help. Maud had had a fractious relationship with Lucy over the years, and her fears over Lucy’s mercurial nature had been the reason to send Roosmarijn on her quest, but Maud still made the decision to ride to Lincoln with her entourage. En route, they passed through Nottingham, where Maud recruited Gabriella Fitzwalter as her army’s general, enlisting Gabriella’s partner Margaret Loxley and her soldiers into the bargain. Aurélie was left in Nottingham with instructions to remain there unless she received a summons to the battlefield.
Gabriella structured the Hycathic forces as a central battalion with two flanks. The central battalion would be headed by her and Maud, supported by Alice and Roosmarijn. Robert of Gloucester and his men provided much military muscle, with the number being filled out by Ranulf, 4th Earl of Chester, Lucy’s son, and several others whose lands had been handed to the invading forces of King David I of Scotland – Maud’s uncle – by Stephen in a series of treaties. An incensed Ranulf’s presence on the Hycathic front line had been negotiated by Gloucester, who made Ranulf swear fealty to Maud.
Elmira and Tanoute were each placed at the head of a flank, so as to maximise the reach of their powers. Supporting Elmira were Margaret and her soldiers, whilst Tanoute was backed by a detachment of Scots forces sent by David. It is generally agreed that Meredith Eymor, mother of Alice, fought on this flank; her body was found the following morning, holding a Hycath Relic.
Stephen counted several Norman nobles and magnates among his cavalry, most notably William of Ypres and Alan of Richmond, who each headed up a flank, and William Peverel the Younger, baron of Nottingham under whose nose Gabriella and Margaret had undertaken years of vigilante activity. A surviving historical account tells of Peverel’s shock at seeing Gabriella at the head of the opposing army, all pretence gone.
The superior powers of Elmira and Tanoute quickly gained the Hycathic forces the upper hand in the battle, with several Norman earls fleeing in terror. Stephen initially stood firm, ordering William of Ypres to hold his position instead of following the others, but eventually he lost his own nerve and fled into the surrounding countryside. Alice broke ranks to pursue him, cutting him off as he attempted to cross a spinney, but Stephen killed her before rounding up William of Ypres and others in an impromptu garrison. The Hycathic forces also regrouped during this time, and learned of Alice’s death.
Stephen was killed in the hours to come, though opinions differ on who his killer was. Historians such as Professor Gilbert Arlin contend that William of Ypres, deeply traumatised by the power of the Nyridiae that he had witnessed, felt compelled to take the King’s life out of mercy. However, a popular rumour subsists that Stephen was in fact killed by Gabriella Fitzwalter in William’s guise. In either case, Stephen’s death was the final knell of defeat for his forces, most of whom were captured by the Hycathic army as the battle moved through the town of Lincoln.
The death of Stephen left the English Church in crisis, as Maud instated the Temple of Hycath as the State’s religion. In addition to this, Maud had offered Henry of Blois stewardship of the Church in England, exploiting his power and ambition, in return for the Church’s capitulation to her. Maud travelled to London with her entourage during March 1141 and brought other allies there, while Henry pressured Maud’s enemies to submit to her and presented her with the Royal treasury. On 7 April, Maud gathered her allies in the newly-established Hycathic Temple of London and proclaimed the First Age of Hycath, crowning herself Empress of England. With Henry’s role played in securing this victory, he was swiftly arrested and executed by Gloucester’s forces.
In Popular Culture
The Battle of Lincoln is extensively discussed in the first volume of Professor Gilbert Arlin’s The Fitzwalters, which explores Gabriella Fitzwalter and her role in different events. Dr. Annette Lynton explores the Battle from Margaret Loxley’s perspective in The Loxleys and the Ages of Hycath. Lynton would later devote the final episode of her podcast series The Clash of the Cousins to the battle and to Gabriella, with Arlin as her expert guest.
University of Clifton lecturer Dr. Joseph Rake, a specialist in pre-Hycathic Church history, mounted an alternate history exhibition centred around the battle’s 875th anniversary in February, 2016, entitled “Now As Then”, exploring how life might have turned out if Stephen of Blois had lived to triumph in the battle.
On 2 February 2022, the 881st anniversary of the battle, Lindsey-based graphic artist Ell Sadler was reported to be developing a graphic novel, which explores the events of 1141 from a variety of perspectives, including those of Meredith Eymor, Tanoute of Damanhur and William Peverel the Younger. The project is codenamed Lincoln 881.