The Concord of Ashes
(modified from the wikipedia article)
also known by some foreign traders as Lunenburg
The former home of the Saxon Ducal House of Billung, Lüneburg lies some 28 miles to the southeast of Hamburg and 75 miles north of Brunswick. It is a powerful and wealthy free trading town, founded upon the salt mine that dominates its economy.
Lüneburg lies on the river Ilmenau, about 19 miles from its confluence with the Elbe. The river flows through the town and is the centre of its trading life, as cogs and flat-bottom river barges are constantly putting in to take salt from the town to the other, larger, ports of the rapidly expanding Hanseatic League to the north.
Local legend holds that people have camped on the hills of the Zeltberg and Kalkberg for generations beyond counting. By the time of the Roman imperial ascendancy, a walled trading post, known as Leuphana, had sprung up in the area. The settlement was known as far away as Greece and Egypt, and grew important enough over the centuries that it was fought over during the Barbarian Migrations of the 4th and 8th centuries CE. While the city is a part of the Duchy of Saxony, many of the residents are in fact also descended from the Lombards who settled here in those bloody years.
Lüneburg was mentioned in records in a deed signed on 13 August, 956 AD, in which Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor granted “the tax from Lüneburg to the monastery built there in honour of Saint Michael”. The castle on the Kalkberg was also mentioned in Frankish imperial annals dated 795, but it was not until the mid-11th century that the town entered into true prominence when large salt deposits were found there.
According to tradition, the salt was first discovered by a hunter who observed a wild boar bathing in a pool of water, shot and killed it, and hung the coat up to dry. When it was dry, he discovered white crystals in the bristles — salt. Later he returned to the site of the kill and located the salt pool, the first production of salt on the site took place. The preserved leg-bone of the boar still sits in a place of honour in the town council chambers.
The reputation of the settlement for the wealth generated by its Saltworks has made it a strategic gem for those wishing to control the destiny of the Duchy of Saxony. However, it was never allowed to truly realise its potential owing to the excessively generous trade rights granted to its neighbour, Bardowick (located some ten miles to the north). Until 1189 CE, all salt mined in Lüneburg had to be traded in Bardowick, which was the richest town in the entire region. However, when the citizens there rebelled against the authority of Henry the Lion, he destroyed the settlement and instead granted full town privileges to the loyal people of Lüneburg.
As the primary producer and trader of salt in Saxony, its importance to the swiftly growing Hanseatic League cannot be underestimated. The salt of Lüneburg is needed to pickle the herring that is caught in the North Sea and the Baltic. These salted fish are in great demand throughout Western Christendom, as fish are permitted for consumption during fasting. Salted herring lies at the base of the trading empire, and the guilds of Lüneburg are being offered generous terms to join the Hanse.
Between the 3rd and 10th centuries, the region was contested between various Ventrue and Gangrel of Saxon, Vandal, Frankish, Obotrite, Veleti and Sorb (also known as Wend) extraction. Few settlements were large enough to truly support more than one Cainite during this time, and the names of the rulers and would-be rulers are largely lost to history. It is known that many of the Ventrue gave their feudal allegiance to Erik Eigermann, Heinrich von Volstag or Hardestadt while the Gangrel were often descendants of Velatorix the Averni or the mighty ancient known as Pard.
The first prince to hold the position secure for any great length of time was Ulrich von Evern, the progeny of the elder Guntramus. Ulrich, as the childe of one of Lord Hardestadt’s inner circle and the older brother-in-blood of Lanzo of the House of Billung, had considerable support to stake his claim. He declared his authority in 957 CE and maintained it until 1039 CE, when he met the Final Death at the fangs of his Brujah enemy, Walther Fuhrmann of Bardowick. Lanzo had his eyes on a larger picture, and declined to succeed his consanguineous brother, but an allied neonate by the name of Kuritz soon moved to the city and began laying the foundations for his own rule.
Kuritz, now a vassal of Lord Jürgen von Verden of Magdeburg, still reigns as the prince of Lüneburg. He has held the city formally since 1136 CE, but at heart he is a merchant, not a warrior, and was obliged to use his connections to his overlord to drive out the proud Gangrel ancilla Bernhard von Billung and his ancient sire, Lucien the Roman. He is seen as a faithful vassal to Lord Jürgen, funneling much silver to his Lord’s coffers as tribute. Lucretia von Hartz, who serves as one of Lord Jürgen’s chief lieutenants, is the eldest childe of Kuritz, and she has brought much honour to their bloodline. His other childe of note, Sir Guy d’Arles travels far and wide on his sire’s business, meeting with potential allies and engaging in all manner of intrigues with and against the Eastern Lords, Arpads and with Hardestadt’s rivals amongst the Holy Roman Ventrue. The remainder of his Kuritz’ small brood resides in Lüneburg, using their wiles to strengthen their sire’s and their own power base.
The Current known residents include:
- Kuritz, the Merchant Prince (8th gen Ventrue, Childe of Baron Hredel, e. 1002 CE); a fretter and poltroon, Kuritz works hard to maximise the wealth flooding into the coffers of his city, Lord Jürgen and, of course, himself. He is well-spoken and genteel of manner, but these are clearly affectations rather than franchise. Kuritz’ hold on the Salzhändler Guild, the city guard, and the office of the mayor is unusually strong, even for a Ventrue.
- Lambert Kaufmann, Seneschal of Lüneburg (9th gen Ventrue, Childe of Kuritz, e. 1145 CE); a merchant by trade and inclination, Lambert exceeds even his sire in greed and skill at manipulating the salt trade that flows through Lüneburg. He also receives most Cainite visitors to the city on his sire’s behalf.
- Elias Segler, Sheriff of Lüneburg (9th gen Ventrue, Childe of Kuritz, e. 1166 CE); a thinking man’s ruffian, Elias maintains order in the Domain and watches over the river port and its tavens, alehouses and inns. Kuritz has rewarded Elias for his loyalty by giving him Domain over several of these establishments.
- Felizitas, Scourge of Lüneburg (10th gen Ventrue, Childe of Lucretia von Hartz, e. 1181 CE); a peasant girl with a powerful will and a prodigious talent for begetting violence, Felizitas took over as Scourge in 1189 CE when her predecessor, Jonas, was slain thwarting an attack on the prince by Walther Fuermann, the former prince of Bardowick. While young, she has become a Paladin like her sire, and rides through the territory surrounding the city as a knight.
Frequent Cainite Visitors
- Sir Guy d’Arles, Kuritz’ agent (9th gen Ventrue, Childe of Kuritz, e. 1119 CE); a charming blackguard and schemer, Sir Guy caused much damage to his sire in the past due to his enmity with Bernhard von Billung. His temperament seems to have cooled in recent years, and he now spends much of his time in the courts of the Arpads, seeking to rekindle their old ties to the Holy Roman Ventrue. His skill as a diplomat is considerable, matched only by his talent for treachery.