Margueritte rode Concord every day in the spring, worked out with the weights Luckless made, and walked everywhere. Roland often rode with her, and sometimes Elsbeth and Goldenrod, just like the old days. Margo and Giselle took turns walking with her, and Margo understood that Margueritte, having had two girls just thirteen months apart, became determined to shape up and lose all the baby fat. Margo knew it would be a good idea in her own life, but she was not as determined.
Captain Wulfram returned in the spring, and he and Peppin had worked out a system to train the men to be lancers in the true medieval sense, as Margueritte thought of it. Knighthood remained connected, somehow, to horsemen, as opposed to foot soldiers, and Margueritte knew it would not be long before the lance became the staple of the horsemen.
Once Peppin and Wulfram understood what Margueritte was doing with the weights, they had more made and started sending their men regularly for strength and conditioning workouts. Margueritte had some special equipment built for the conditioning, and Gerraint kindly volunteered to show the men how to use it all, while Festuscato marked out several trails for running and walking through the woods of the Vergen. At the last, Margueritte put a hold on building the barracks for the men so she could build a gymnasium of sorts. There, the men worked on close combat, including working with staffs, swords, and hand to hand.
“I figure it will take three to five years,” Margueritte said, of her building projects. She had big plans but kept saying the money would run out first. Roland hushed her and took her, her mother Brianna, and Tomberlain to the Great Hall, where he had maps laid out on the big table. Wulfram and Peppin were already there, and Childemund, who was becoming a familiar face around the house. Elsbeth came in, wondering what everyone was doing, and Childemund spoke to her.
“I just brought the mail. You need to look at this.”
Roland spoke. “I have been going over the grants on the Breton border that make up the actual Breton Mark. They were established by Chlothar the First, the son of Clovis, a long time back, and your ancestor, I mean Margueritte, Elsbeth and Tomberlain’s ancestor got the lion’s share, being at the center of the whole Mark. All I can say is Chlothar was very generous, or he did not have a good map at the time and wasn’t aware of what all was involved.”
“Or he overcompensated the three Lords he willingly spared for the duty,” Margueritte said. “Go on.”
“Well, as near as I can make out, the North march starts at Fougere, where the tower was built, and goes north to the sea at Mount Tombe, what we now call Mount-Saint-Michel. Most of it contains a corner of the province of Normandy.”
“The South march surrounds the mouth of the Loire River. It includes Nantes, and though I know the new Marquise there, Count Michael realizes it, I am not sure he quite knows what to do with it. The South march does not include much above the Loire, but it stretches slightly north, mostly east to Ancenis.”
“It isn’t quite clear in these papers who owns Ancenis, but basically, you own everything from Ancenis north all along the Breton border to Fougere. It is a pretty wide grant as well, stretching all the way east to the Sarthe River, which was used as the boundary. You do not own Angers, but almost, and you do own a number of Frankish towns all through the area. And here is the big thing. You own Laval.”
“What are we going to do with a small city?” Margueritte asked.
“Impose a small tax,” Childemund answered.
Peppin pointed to the map. “My place is up here around Craon, and we pay ten percent of our earnings every year. As your father said, if ten percent is good enough for the Lord, it is good enough for him.”
“Basically, you own everything between well west of the Oudon and the Sarthe River, and south along both sides of the Mayenne and a good chunk southeast of the Erdre River.”
“Too much,” Margueritte said.
“Enough for your own small kingdom,” Wulfram suggested.
Margueritte hit her brother. “Don’t get any ideas,” she said. “Has Charles seen this?”
“He was the one who suggested the small tax to pay for whatever it is you are doing out here,” Childemund said with a nod.
“I need to think,” Margueritte said. “This is a lot to take in.” She turned to her mother. “Did you know all this?”
“Some,” she said. “I never imagined it to this extent, but I knew there was a lot more land than your father or his father or his grandfather ever settled.”
“Some of it may have been sold since Chlothar’s day.” Roland suggested, and Tomberlain balked.
“There goes my plans.”
“A palace in Laval for your old mother?” Mother asked, sweetly.
“So, I get to spend the next three to five years traveling the family lands to determine what has been sold and what we still own, if any.” Margueritte said.
“By the way.” Childemund spoke. “Charles wants to know the name of this new town you are building right here so he can mark it on the maps.” Many of the contract workers ended up staying and building ever more houses. Even the Breton farm workers were moving into town. Margueritte had the Paris Road diverted from its straight Roman line, so it went through the evolving market square of the new village instead of coming straight by the manor house. Margueritte had plans to encircle the house, barn, stables, and barracks with a stone wall. She wanted to take the church and parish house inside the castle walls as well, but that would cut right across the straight Roman road. Father Aden said that would be fine, though, because the way the community kept growing, they would have to build a bigger church in town, anyway, and already picked out a site and a name, Saint-Audin. The old church was really only a chapel.
“Potentius,” Margueritte decided on a name. “It is Latin. Potens means powerful, but in my mind, it also serves as the root for potential. At present, that is all it is. Potential.”
“Where’s Vergenville?” Elsbeth stared at the map and spoke up for the first time. She pointed at the map, but she was not sure.
“No,” Roland said. “That’s Remmes. Vergenville is this small dot.”
“Looks like only one house,” Elsbeth complained.
“That must be Chief Brian’s house,” Tomberlain said.
Margueritte had a thought. “That’s what they ought to call the place, House of Brian,” which of course came out, Chateaubrian. “But I guess they will have to wait a hundred years before that happens.”
“Of course, Margueritte could not get started on her tour of the family lands for more than a year. Grace needed to be eating regular food, regularly. It became a dull year in Margueritte’s mind. The only news of note was Chilperic IV’s sickness and passing away. Charles wrote that since Chilperic had been Daniel the monk and had no direct heirs, he appointed young Theuderic IV to be king. And let that be an end to the discussion. Charles was very clear about that. The only break in Margueritte’s work and routine came on Samhain, the once in four years visit to Vergenville, where the Lords of the Frankish mark met with the Breton King and renewed the ties of friendship and peace, and discussed grievances, if any.
The work in Potentius continued in 720. The dimensions for the castle were laid out and the towers planned and marked, but little actual work on the castle got done that year. The barracks were finished, but some of the men, who were not strangers to the Breton and to the area, fetched their families and thus built more homes in the growing village. Potentius got to be a boom town, but then again, there was work to be done in Potentius, and men actually got paid for their labor.
Brittany turned two on November thirteenth. Martin turned four on December second, and Margueritte began to consider looking for a tutor for his reading and writing in Latin, and his arithmetic. Grace turned one on December twenty-sixth, and Margueritte began to casually think about a travel route. She wrote a letter on the first day of the year of our Lord, 721, to Duke Odo in Aquitaine warning him about the Muslim ambitions and to be on the lookout. Toulouse came next in line after Narbonne and Septimania, and she did not want him to be caught unprepared.
Margueritte, Roland and Tomberlain went over the maps very carefully in 720, and Margueritte wrote kind letters to everyone she could that she knew was squatting on Tomberlain’s land, including the little city of Laval. She said she would visit in the next several years and hoped to work out an equitable payment of taxes as well as to hear any grievances or thoughts concerning the land distribution and usage. It was not at all a threatening letter, but she knew some would take it that way, regardless.
She did get some letters back, mostly from out toward the Sarthe River, where some claimed they had bills of sale written by her sires, and Margueritte encouraged them to produce the papers because her only substantial information was the original land grant of Chlothar, son of Clovis, and she expected there were some properties sold in the meanwhile. Margueritte decided at that time, that whatever had not already sold east of a certain point, needed to be sold if possible, or given to the church. The Storyteller looked things up for her, and she decided the twenty-first century department of Mayenne would more than enough for Tomberlain.
Margueritte did not feel sure what to do about the quarter of Anjou province, which was all that land west of the Sarthe and north of the Loire. and west to the Breton border. That land included her made up town of Potentius as well as Peppin’s Craon. She thought that might do well for Elsbeth and Owien, though it would require some serious talking to Tomberlain. Mother would help. As for herself, she did not worry. Roland would be getting the lion’s share of his father’s property, which she thought was a more frugal grant, but more than enough for them and their children and grandchildren.