Campaign of the Month: August 2014
The Concord of Ashes
Kelemen Szantovitch Gutkeled
A notorious womaniser and wastrel, this Hungarian courtier has proven to be a surprisingly good castle administrator at Reps, in the Transylvanian heartland. He is a member of the Ashen Band of Kronstadt.
A handsome, willowy young man with long brown hair, cunning brown eyes and a smug smile plastered to his face. He is dressed in the finery of a courtier, and wears altogether too much jewellery for one man. His sword and dagger are of exceptional quality, yet look they are rarely put to use.
The arms of the gens Gutkeled, a noted noble family of Hungary.
- Born into noble privilege, Kelemen was the son of Győző (Victor) Gutkeled and Jozefa Szantovitch. The gens Gutkeled are of Swabian or Bavarian origins, but they emigrated to Hungary in the 1040s. The Szantovitchi are an old Slavic family, reputedly of Great Moravian origins, who have spread as far north as Novgorod and as far south as Bulgaria and Serbia.
- Both of his parents are deceased. His father, Győző, died leading Hungarian troops in alliance with the Eastern Roman Empire at the Battle of Myriokephalon. He was slain by a Turkish lance. Kelemen’s mother also died when her children were young, and they were looked after by Jozefa’s cousin, Lady Sebastiana Szabo. A prominent courtier and power-broker in the royal court of Esztergom, Sebastiana raised the Gutkeled’s in her own image.
- He is the younger brother of the late Laszlo, who served Veceslav Basarab for many years. In addition, he has a younger brother, Andor, and a younger sister, Bianka. Both courtiers are active in Buda-Pest and Esztergom respectively. With Kelemen’s interests now lying in Transylvania, Andor has taken possession of the family estates east of Gyor. Bianka is married to Miklós Bána, a prominent knight in service to the Archbishop of Esztergom.
- Veceslav Basarab made a deal with certain elders of the clan that he would bring Laszlo across into undeath, but he never seemed to get around to it. A formidable warrior with a taste for pushing his limits, the oldest of the Szantovitch Gutkeled’s fell defending the Bostral Pass from Voivode Koban in the early days of January,1203.
- In order to fulfill his promise, and to placate the elders that he had incensed with his reluctance, Veceslav instead Embraced Kelemen in 1206. The act was done for political reasons rather than any real enthusiasm on the part of the knez of Tihuta, for the younger Gutkeled brother had a reputation of being even more of a womaniser than Laszlo, but without the reputation for courage or fighting skill.
- Indeed, the sole skill in which Kelemen could claim to exceed his more puissant late brother is in the arts of seduction. A notorious cad and bounder, Laszlo’s sexual conquests paled in comparison to his adventurous and notably undiscerning brother, who is rumoured to have bedded most of the court of Esztergom at one time or another.
- Veceslav and Sebastiana, plus Vencel Rikard to a certain lesser extent, expended considerable influence to see Kelemen appointed to the role of Ispán of Reps, a castle and village that is an important key to the defence of the trade route between Kronstadt, Shassburg, and Mediasch.
- Kelemen took possession of the castle in AD 1212, and he has maintained the position through several Voivodes of Transylvania, including Michael Kacsics (1209-1212, who lost his position over the rumour that he was involved in the assassination of Queen Gertrude), Berthold of Merania (1213, now Patriarch of Aquilea and Count of Andechs; the brother of the late Queen Gertrude), Nicholas Csák (1213; who has since honourably moved on to a number of other offices), Julius Kán (1214, who moved on to the very powerful position of Count Palatine), Simon Kacsics (1215, who was also implicated in the assassination of Queen Gertrude), and Ipoch Bogátradvány (1216-1217, a prominent intriguer noted for his connections to the Bohemian and Polish courts). Evidently, serving as ispán grants rather more stability than serving as voivode.
- He joined the formative coterie known as the Ashen Band of Kronstadt in 1214, and he has served as a stalwart member ever since. Kelemen’s main role to date has been to underpin their objectives with his wealth. Something of a quixotic mixture of gallant and poltroon, Kelemen is noted among his allies for his willingness to serve courageously in the second or third rank of battle, and to prefer his armour unblemished by nasty dents or scratches. He has shown himself to be an indifferent combatant for the most part, and he prefers to use his coin to make sure that others are well equipped to stand between he and whatever peril comes his way.
- In this capacity, he was active in the Cuman Campaign against Kordönül in 1214 and 1215, including the fateful Battle of Buzău and the trials faced by the Ashen Band in the pyramid mountain through the valley of the same name.
- In 1216, Kelemen “took the cross” in his capacity as Ispán of Reps. In partnership with his coterie-mates, he drove a wagon train of grain (from Reps), wine (from Weissenburg), and cattle (from Kronstadt) to Zagreb and then to Spalato, in order to provide comestibles for the Hungarian Crusade. He would continue on to the Holy Land in service to King András II.
Embrace: AD 1206.
(d?)= believed destroyed.