Kings on a throne of wool, an Anglo-Flemish kingdom timeline

Context

Context​

In late September 1066 William the (soon-to-be) Conqueror set sail from Saint-Valery-sur-Somme intending to become the next king of England, and with him came various lords from Normandy, Brittany, Flanders, and other parts of northern France, plus an army of roughly 10.000 men. Hardly 3 months later William was king, and most of his competitors were either dead, in exile, or his prisoner. "Oh no, not another timeline about England in 1066." Well this one will be a bit different, as it isn't about William, what would have happened if he had failed, or had never tried, or if a certain Norwegian claimant had succeeded before he did. Instead this timeline is about the counts of Flanders becoming kings of England. But before we start the timeline in the next chapter, first a short backstory.

The Flemish dynasty had its origin roughly 200 years prior, when count Baldwin I ran away with the Carolingian princess Judith of France, daughter of king Charles the Bald, to marry with her. Her father didn't approve of their marriage and had his bishops excommunicate Baldwin, but they fled to Rome in order to plead with the Pope. The Pope approved of their marriage, and then pressured Charles to accept as well. Charles gave in, and then appointed Baldwin to be the first "margrave of Flanders" (which at the time only encompassed Bruges and its surroundings) to help protect the kingdom against viking invasions.
It is speculated that Charles had hoped Baldwin would meet his fate at the hands of these invaders, but maybe he really did have a genuine change of heart... Either way that didn't happen, and Baldwin began to expand his small domain in the northern corner of the kingdom. Apparently Baldwin set a precedent, as his descendants also took a keen interest in the daughters of important monarchs (marrying into houses like Wessex, Billung, and Ivrea), and in territorial expansion. By the time Baldwin V died in 1067 "Flanders" encompassed most lands north of the Somme and west of the Scheldt, as well as a small amount of land within the Holy Roman Empire.

At that time Baldwin V's oldest son, Baldwin VI, was also jure uxoris count of Hainaut (within the HRE). Meanwhile Baldwin V's wife was the Capetian princess Adela of France, a marriage that also resulted in Baldwin serving as "co-regent" (but effectively the only regent) for the underage Philip I from 1060 until 1066. Baldwin V's daughter Matilda was the wife of William II of Normandy (otl's the Conqueror), and his younger son Robert was regent in the county of Holland for his son-in-law Dirk V. Meanwhile Baldwin V's half-sister Judith was the wife of Tostig Godwinson, the Earl of Northumbria and a brother of otl's king Harold Godwinson.

Finally Baldwin was also involved in English politics. In 1037 he hosted the exiled queen-dowager Emma of Normandy at Bruges. Here she met her son Harthacnut in 1039, who also intended to launch an invasion of England from there. Baldwin then also offered shelter to Godwin of Wessex, his wife, and most of his children when they were exiled in 1051, and he likely helped Edward the Confessor and Godwin to get Edward the Exile back to England. When Tostig Godwinson was again exiled in 1065 he once more gave him shelter, as well as a title, and when Edward the Confessor died he even provided him with a fleet to reclaim his earldom. Tostig eventually joined forces with Harold III of Norway, and died along with him at the Battle of Stamford Bridge. Thereafter a number of Flemish lords also crossed the Channel with William the Conqueror, a more successful endeavour.​
 
Bump, this is a really cool idea. 1066 is quite overdone in terms of either an English, Norwegian or altered Norman victory (with the Danish getting involved a step below), but you never hear of anyone else throwing their hat in the ring.

Excited to see where this goes!
 
Chapter 1: The Reign of Baldwin V

Chapter 1: The Reign of Baldwin V​

That Baldwin V would be an ambitious figure shouldn't have been much of a surprise to any of his contemporaries, after all most of his ancestors down to his own father had been. And that he was would become glaringly clear when the boy came of age in 1027. The first thing the then 15 years old Baldwin did was marrying Adela of France, daughter of the French king Robert II. The very next thing he did was rebelling against his father, demanding at least a role in his government. The rebellion was initially successful, maybe more successful than he had expected as his father was forced to flee to Normandy. But in Normandy he forged an alliance with the duke, and with Norman aid managed to supress Baldwin's rebellion by September of 1028... In the end Baldwin reconciled with his father 2 years later, and was then given a role in his government until his father's death in 1035, when Baldwin V became the new count of Flanders.

It didn't take long before Baldwin began getting involved in politics again. In 1035 Cnut the Great, king of England, also died, and in the uncertainty of the following years. In 1037 the dowager-queen Emma of Normandy was forced to flee England, and Baldwin decided to give her refuge in Bruges. He provided her with guards, entertainment, food, etc. for which she was very grateful. In return Emma donated money to the poor and to churches in Flanders. In 1039 Emma's son Harthacnut (who since 1035 had been king of Denmark) also arrived in Bruges, where he met with his mother, and planned to invade England from there to reclaim his throne. But as luck would have it while Harthacnut was preparing the invasion news reached Bruges that his would-be enemy Harold Harefoot had fallen ill, and by early 1040 he was dead leaving no children behind.

Baldwin V's next foray into the the international stage came in 1046, when he joined a rebellion by Godfrey the Bearded, duke of Upper Lorraine. Godfrey had rebelled before, then because the emperor had refused him the titles of both Upper and Lower Lorraine, fearing the strength of a united duchy. That rebellion had failed, and Godfrey swore fealty again and gave one of his sons hostage. This new rebellion began after said son died in captivity, and besides Flanders Holland also joined the rebellion. Together their forces devastated Verdun and raided as far east as the Moselle region, but eventually they were defeated. In response to the rebellion the emperor had stripped Baldwin of his imperial title in Valenciennes, and had given it to the margrave of neighbouring Mons instead. This backfired however... The margrave died already in 1050, Baldwin kidnapped his widow Richilde, disinherited her children, after forced her to marry his oldest son. The emperor was outraged but was powerless to stop him this time, so despite losing the rebellion Baldwin expanded his imperial domains considerably.

Roughly around the same time, somewhere during the 1040's, Baldwin V's half-sister Judith married with a certain Tostig Godwinson, one of the son of Godwin of Wessex. This marriage would once again get Baldwin involved with a group of English exiles, when Godwin and his close family were expelled from England around 1050. They found refuge in Bruges, but they quickly returned to England with an army and forced king Edward (who had succeeded his half-brother Harthacnut in 1042) to restore their lands. In the following decade the power of the Godwins grew considerably as they acquired more an more earldoms.

More importantly however was the succession. By now Edward was 50 years old and like many of his recent predecessors he had no heirs of his own. This had to be solved somehow, so Edward began to search for an heir (in the literal sense). Somewhere in eastern Europe Edward had an exiled nephew (also called Edward), and he decided to bring him back so that he could be his successor. Once again Baldwin got involved, and helped to get Edward the Exile back to England, but soon after his arrival he died. However, before his death Baldwin had personally met with this Edward and had come to an agreement with him and his wife.
When he returned to England in 1057 Edward the Exile had a 5 years old son, and Baldwin had a 3 years old granddaughter, Ogive [1]. Seeing that Edward had no powerbase in England of his own he would need supporters, and he had very few of those other than the current king (who wasn't nearly powerful enough). Baldwin might not have had any lands within England, but you could see them from Dover and that's close enough. Furthermore Baldwin did possess the army, fleet, and money needed to offer the aid he promised, and had connection to an English earl and other continental rulers. So Edward the Exile took him up on the offer and the children were betrothed.

The last important event that occurred during Baldwin's reign, other than the famed invasion, was when he became the regent for the French king Philip I. Although officially he was co-regent with the king's mother Anne of Kiev he was effectively the sole regent for most of the regency. After a single year the king's mother had remarried... the her late husband's cousin, who was also still married with another woman at the time... For this transgression her new husband was excommunicated and the regency fell in Baldwin's hands. The influence that came with this would also help Baldwin in a couple of years during the English Succession Crisis... But he didn't know that yet.

[1] This is the (main) POD, historically Baldwin's only grandchildren at the time were his son's 2 sons, ittl his son first has a daughter 2 years before his first son is born.
 
When he returned to England in 1057 Edward the Exile had a 5 years old son, and Baldwin had a 3 years old granddaughter, Ogive [1]. Seeing that Edward had no powerbase in England of his own he would need supporters, and he had very few of those other than the current king (who wasn't nearly powerful enough). Baldwin might not have had any lands within England, but you could see them from Dover and that's close enough. Furthermore Baldwin did possess the army, fleet, and money needed to offer the aid he promised, and had connection to an English earl and other continental rulers. So Edward the Exile took him up on the offer and the children were betrothed.​
Lmfao I ended up marrying Edgar the Ætheling to Ogive of Flanders in my own TL on coincidence. Great minds think alike.
 
Lmfao I ended up marrying Edgar the Ætheling to Ogive of Flanders in my own TL on coincidence. Great minds think alike.
This is great. Had to check up your tl just now just to make sure it wasn't too similar lmao.

*Renamed to avoid confusion with his namesake and uncle. If I had a nickle for each time this happened.
This footnote hit a little too close to home, with 3 consecutive generations of "Baldwin" alive at the same time rn in this tl...
 
C‘mon, the Baldwinian dynasty is amazing. Who doesn’t like naming their child after themself and all your ancestors!

love the timeline!
 
How is this allowed to stand? Why was the Emperor powerless in this?
This is unfortunately a case of something that isn't very well documented. I did my best to find a clear explanation for it in like 4 different languages but found nothing conclusive. So I did a bunch of puzzling and it might honestly just have been a case of good timing lol. At the time of the marriage emperor Henry III was busy campaigning against the Hungarians, and in the following years he also got involved in Italy and Poland, which didn't really leave a lot of time to stop a marriage all the way on the other side of the HRE.

But there are some mentions of a war between the emperor and Flanders actually, but also with a lot of inconsistencies. Some of these claim the war was actually about the marriage itself, others say it didn't begin until 3 years later and was instead about Cambrai. Some say this war (whatever the cause may be) ended in a "total defeat" for the Flemish, others are very vague about the outcome.
All the different stories have issues again however, for example the "Cambrai" version happens in 1054 and involve a deal between bishop Libert of Cambrai and the emperor. But Libert was on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 1054. Likewise the "anti-marriage" version coincides with Henry's Hungarian campaigns, not to mention that Henry never actually broke up the marriage, whether he won or not. Baldwin, Richilde, and their direct descendants kept ruling over Hainaut until the late 13th century iotl.

So the most realistic thing I can imagine is that the emperor was just too busy elsewhere to be able to stop it. He might well have sent an army to Flanders a couple of years later but it had nothing to do with the marriage, which he might not even have cared about anymore by that time.​
 
What might be the linguistic implications of this?
Flanders at this time, despite having lots of its land in what is now France, was firmly germanic speaking. The linguistic border would retreat in the coming centuries, but for now everything up to the somme is Germanic.

If we see them do what William did IOTL, with a complete nobility overhaul, we might see English resemble Dutch or Frisian even more, though theres no garuntee the Baldwins will rule the same way.
 
Flanders at this time, despite having lots of its land in what is now France, was firmly germanic speaking. The linguistic border would retreat in the coming centuries, but for now everything up to the somme is Germanic.

If we see them do what William did IOTL, with a complete nobility overhaul, we might see English resemble Dutch or Frisian even more, though theres no garuntee the Baldwins will rule the same way.
IMO English and Dutch at the time were not very different. If an Englishman went to Flanders in Monday, he'd be fully fluent in Friday.
 
IMO English and Dutch at the time were not very different. If an Englishman went to Flanders in Monday, he'd be fully fluent in Friday.
Yeah, if we see Flanders staying the point of control for a decent amount of time, we could very well see the Germanic dialect continuum reach cross the channel.

Though it should be said that Flanders at this time was probably somewhat weaker than Normandy, and with the easier cross communication you also could see the Baldwin's assimilating to English culture even quicker than the French did in our world, leaving minimal impact on the language.

Could go either way, excited to see regardless
 
What might be the linguistic implications of this?
I'm not going to give a full reply to this yet, because I haven't completely figured it out myself... But what I can say is that at this point 1. (Picard) French is the language of the elite in Flanders 2. Said elite is almost guaranteed to be bilingual, because 3. Flemish Dutch is spoken by the overwhelming majority of the population in Flanders, and they've been living amongst them for centuries by this point.

My first thought is that there would still be a French influence in English, but less extensive and with Picard instead of Norman. Furthermore Dutch would also have some influence over English, and likewise English would have influence over Dutch. Both languages might well grow closer together as a result. I'm not sure about the "dialect continuum" mentioned above but at the very least I could see certain elements such a stronger Ingvaeonic character in Dutch (as seen today in Coastal West Flemish for example) emerging over time.​
 
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The kings of England would be very rich and I do wonder will the Normans be keeping the Capations bussy.

I would Imagen that the HRE & France will be wonting Flanders
 
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