Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thom Ecke

Thom Ecke (Born Tom FitzMowbray) was a bastard son of Thomas de Mowbray, the rebellious Earl of Norfolk in northern England He spent a rootless early childhood passed around the houses of many relatives while his father was away at court.

When he reached sufficient age, he apprenticed to a wealthy wool merchant in York and crisscrossed the cold northern moors learning the trade and exploring old Roman ruins. His master would often jovially chide him for wasting his time amongst old broken stones, but one day Tom's expeditions paid off handsomely when he found a stash of a hundred Denarii's in a clay pot wedged in to a crack beneath a "Chi Ro" on the remains of a wall. He saved this stash in the hope he might outfit himself, serve his father and brother at war and eventually to be knighted and settle comfortably with a couple of cozy manors of his own.

It was not to be, his father fell out of favour at court (in a dispute over precedence with another noble) and foolishly joined other northern barons in revolt against the King.

So young Tom buckled down resolving to learn the wool trade and so earn a comfortable living as a merchant. He remained unable to quell his wandering spirit and this in the end was the undoing of any plans for a comfortable life. While traveling south to trade, the tranquility of the open moor was forever spoilt for him when one wet day he had the misfortune to be struck by lightening. Thoroughly fed up with the a sodden island that seemed to frustrate him at every turn, he set off for the continent with no better plan than to earn money as a sell-sword and perhaps strike at the Turk. In time he fell in with the rootless young men who made their home in the Bayerischer Wald. His exotic background as a foreigner more than outweighed any possible disadvantages as an outsider and his many tales to tell beside the winter fireside soon saw him warmly welcomed into their brotherhood.

Thom was accustomed to hire himself as a mercenary with southern companies (hoping to one day emulating the fortunes of his illustrious countryman Sir john Hawkwood) and it was on one of these stints that he encountered Seighard of Zurich. Seighard might be a sometime boor, but he was well-connected and intelligent and shared Thom's background as a dispossessed noble. When Seighard set forth for Prague in the summer of 1419, Thom decided to join his comrade and see what opportunities that famed city had to offer.

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