Redwall Abbey

Redwall Abbey

Redwall Abbey is the fictional refuge of many of the "good" creatures in the Redwall series by Brian Jacques.

The abbey basically follows the rules of a normal Roman Catholic monastery except that it is occupied by animals and that no actual religion is practiced, as Jacques has said that he wishes to avoid any religion in the series, thus keeping it open to readers of all faiths. However, in the books "Redwall" and "Mattimeo", at feasts, the Abbot recited grace, followed by 'Amen' from all the animals. Mother Nature is also referred to. Nevertheless, the spiritual is not frequently mentioned.

The goal of the Abbey is to provide aid to all comers (though some vermin are refused treatment) and to give shelter to Woodlanders when needed. Despite the fact that the inhabitants are peaceful, they frequently must go to war when their beloved abbey is in danger. Redwall Abbey, though often under attack, is never conquered. The abbey is known to hold the unbreakable sword of Martin the Warrior.

History

Redwall Abbey was built after the events of the story "Mossflower". It was founded and designed by an old Loamhedge mouse named Germaine, who became first Abbess of Redwall. Built on top of the ruins of Castle Kotir, which housed the wildcat Tsarmina during the events of "Mossflower", the Abbey stands tall enough to be seen a league away. During the events of "The Legend of Luke" (parts I and III), the Abbey was declared completed following the completion of the weather vane - however, parts were added on following this. During the events of "Outcast of Redwall" it had a brief encounter with a ferret Warlord named Swartt Sixclaw. Luckily, he was driven off before he could ever reach the Abbey. However, his infant son was dropped and adopted by the Redwallers. Bella, a badger and mother of Lord Sunflash the Mace named him Veil because "there is a Veil over his life before he came here." Later however Abbess Meriam discovered a note written by Bella.

:Give him a name and leave him awhile,:Veil may live to be evil and vile,:Though I hope my predictions will fail,:and evil so vile will not live in Veil.

This was after Veil had been raised by a young mousemaid named Bryony, and though raised to be decent, could not deny his vermin roots and attempted to poison Redwall's cook. This led to Veil being outcast - the first Outcast of Redwall. Though most of his life he was quite evil, Veil saved Bryony by taking a spear into his chest. Later, after both Swartt and Veil's deaths, Sunflash the Mace came to Redwall to meet his mother Bella.

During the events of "Mariel of Redwall," a young mouse named Mariel comes to Redwall. Because she lost her memory, she called herself Storm Gullwhacker, for it was a storm that brought her to Mossflower's shores, and her weapon was a knotted rope called Gullwhacker. The Redwallers were able to restore her memory however and she traveled away with a young mouse called Dandin, a hedgehog named Durry Quill, and a hare named Tarquin, to take revenge on the one responsible for her injury, Gabool the Wild. During their absence, 100 searats who had deserted Gabool attempted to take Redwall. They were driven off by the Redwallers and three incredibly brave hares of the Long Patrol, two of which gave their lives for the cause. Dandin, Mariel, her father Joseph and many others returned to Redwall where it was announced that Saxtus would later become the Abbot.

In the novel "Redwall", Matthias, an orphaned woodland mouse, becomes the Abbey Warrior after defeating the evil rat Cluny the Scourge.(Let it be noted that Cluny was a well known and strict abbey in real life) The Abbey is later attacked by Slagar, a masked fox, in the book "Mattimeo". Slagar kidnaps many of the Abbey young ones, including Mattimeo, Matthias's son. Also General Ironbeak, an evil raven warlord, attempts to take over the abbey. He is killed by a Red Kite. The book "The Pearls of Lutra" describes the Redwallers undertaking a scavenger hunt, of sorts, which leads them to come across the infamous pink pearls called the Tears of all Oceans. During this time, a young mousemaid is killed by an army of jackdaws hiding out at St. Ninian's church, which leads the Redwallers to burn the old church to prevent any more vermin taking headquarters there. The Redwallers come across the ruins of Castle Kotir in the story "The Long Patrol". It is also in this book that the south outer wall is demolished and rebuilt.

In the novel "Marlfox", the Abbey is attacked by the Marlfoxes. However, they are driven off. In the book "The Taggerung", an army of Juska comes to Redwall, but they are driven off by Badger Lord Russano the Wise. The events of "Triss" chronicle an attack by Freebooters and Pure Ferrets, who are driven off by various defenders. In "Loamhedge" the Abbey comes under attack from corsairs, while in "Rakkety Tam" the antagonist is Gulo the Savage.

Inhabitants

Redwall Abbey is inhabited mainly by mice but is also home to squirrels, otters, hedgehogs, moles, voles, badgers, birds, hares and shrews. The abbey has an abbess or an abbot who leads the people and is responsible for the well-being of its inhabitants. Sometimes the abbey houses a Badger Mother, and there may be one or more animals that can act as warriors to protect the abbey in case of any sign of danger.

Dibbuns are the babes of the abbey. As babes, they often do foolish things, like venturing outside or getting captured by vermin.

At a few times, Redwall has housed vermin, such as the ferret Veil Sixclaw and the searats Blaggut and Grubbage, and the searat Graylunk.

tructure

Redwall Abbey's main ground floor is the Great Hall. Adjoining this are the Cavern Hole and the Abbot's study. The kitchens are also located on the ground level. Upstairs are the dormitories, and up even higher are the attics and various secret chambers. Below the ground floor are the famous wine cellars and many unknown underground tunnels. The foundations of Redwall Abbey, which house the tomb of Martin the Warrior and a stone statue of Abbess Germaine, are underground. Outside are the beautiful green lawns of Redwall Abbey, the abbey pond and the well-cared for orchard. The Gatehouse is connected to the abbey wall and houses the gatekeeper or the Warrior of Redwall. Written records such as scrolls and books were stored in the Gatehouse until the completion of the library, which was one of the attic rooms. High sandstone walls surround the abbey, with four big wooden gates as the only entrances to the Abbey. The Belltower is a tower containing the Joseph Bell which is rung numerous times a day by the bellringer. When Matthias kills Cluny the Scourge with the Joseph Bell, the bell is cracked and two smaller twin bells are made from the same material.

* Great Hall - The largest hall in Redwall Abbey, where the animals eat most of the time and where large feasts, events, parties and banquets are held. Also the famous tapestry of Martin the Warrior is hung in here.
* Cavern Hole - A cozy, warm, underground room where the animals occasionally eat but which is usually used as a story telling area.
* Kitchens - The famous kitchens of Redwall Abbey where the best of foods are cooked. The Friar is in charge of the kitchen, which is a large area full of ovens, food and other cooking utensils.
* Cellars - The cellars are located underneath the kitchens. This is where the abbey drinks are brewed and stored. The cellars are normally run by a Hedgehog but not always. Many different drinks are brewed in here such as: October Ale, strawberry fizz, elderberry wine, damson wine and many different cordials and juices. Cheese are also made and stored in the cellars.
* Dormitories - The dormitories are where the inhabitants sleep.
* Gatehouse - The gatehouse is a small house or room connected to the abbey wall. The gatehouse is the site of the written records of the abbey.
* Belltower - The Belltower is a very tall tower which contains the bells of Redwall Abbey. In "Mariel of Redwall," the first bell is delivered to Redwall Abbey. It is called the Joseph Bell. In "Redwall," the Joseph Bell cracks. A pair of bells are forged to replace the original. These are named the Matthias and Methuselah Bells.
* Orchard - This is where the Abbey-dwellers grow all their food. They grow every kind of fruit and vegetables possible. In summer they often take meals in the orchard.
* Pond - This is where the Abbey-dwellers get water and they also catch fish for their meals. Otters also love to swim in the pond and dibbuns like to paddle in the shallows.
* Walls - The four walls around the abbey are named after the direction they face- North Wall, South Wall, East Wall and West Wall. The walls have wide walkways on top and they hold a wall race in summer. Sentries are also posted on the wall tops if there is an enemy threatening the abbey.
* Infirmary -The room(s) where sick creatures are treated.
* Roofspaces -The attic above the main building where the Sparra warriors live. In the epilogue to Mattimeo the owl Sir Harry the Muse is elected leader; none of the following books include the sparra, however.
*Library -One of the attic rooms which was converted into a Library before High Rhulian.

Traditions and celebrations

While Redwall Abbey does not practise any humanlike religion, a number of traditions and celebrations have grown up over the years. Cregga Badgermum's comment in "The Taggerung" that " [T] he best way to make everybeast happy is to think up an excuse for a feast" seems to be the reasoning behind many of these, but they also have roots in the respect of life and nature.

The changing of the seasons is always a great occasion for celebration. It is frequently marked with a "Nameday" party when the new season is given an official name for the Recorder's books, based on its weather, plants, unusual events, or other characteristic happenings. Examples of season names found in existing Redwall books include the Summer of the Lazy Trout ("Salamandastron"), the Summer of the Talking Squirrel ("Redwall", marking the season when a particularly quiet young one was heard to speak for the first time), the Summer of Friendship ("The Taggerung"), and the Winter of Deepest Snow ("Redwall"). In addition, separate seasons have their own traditions suited to the weather and mood of the time of year, such as the midsummer race in "The Taggerung", the Snow Badger tale told to Dibbuns, or the apparently formulaic greeting "Summer's here, joy and happiness to all" in "Triss". In "Mattimeo" it is also suggested that "seasondays", possibly similar to human "birthdays" are celebrated, but this has yet to be described in detail.

Possibly the closest tradition to human religion in Redwall is the habit of saying a Grace poem before an important feast. However, this is not directed at any deity or supernatural entity, but is a simple expression of gratitude for the bounty of the seasons and the shelter of the Redwallers' home, and can range from a respectful piety ("Fruit of forest, fields and banks, To the seasons we give thanks" -- "Mattimeo") to a somewhat blunt statement of fact ("Thanks to the seasons and jolly good luck we all have a sword and a head, and the way we'll tuck into these vittles will show that we're living, not dead" -- "The Long Patrol").

Celebration feasts themselves are always elaborate and joyful affairs, involving at least a day's work in the kitchens. The main focus generally appears to be on desserts, with fantastic creations appearing as the centrepiece to an already crowded table, though no Redwall feast would be complete without a plate of deeper'n'ever pie (for moles) and a big pot of watershrimp and hotroot soup (for otters). Salads, cheeses and trifles are also frequent contributions. Scones are mentioned very frequently in the series. As well as the food and drink, there is often entertainment in the form of humorous monologues, poetry and song. Visiting creatures are invited to show off their party pieces, whatever form they may take.

In contrast to the complicated preparations for Namedays and other celebrations, the choosing of a new Abbey leader often comes as a surprise to those around them. There appears to be no set age or qualification for an Abbot or Abbess (many leaders have been chosen while apparently still the equivalent of human teenagers) and the final choice is almost always the decision either of the previous occupant of that position, or of some "paw of fate" like a premonition of Martin the Warrior. Naturally, there is no reason why the choice of a new Abbot or Abbess should not be followed by yet another feast!

Although Redwall Abbey seems to be designed after the fashion of a human monastery, there appear to be no strict rules on marriage and family as there would be in a Christian institution. Rosabel in "The Taggerung" is the daughter of Broggle and Fwirl, both long-term residents at the Abbey, and the Abbot himself blesses Matthias and Cornflower's marriage on his deathbed in "Redwall". Also, in Pearls of Lutra the squirrels Craklyn and Piknim sing a song with the words "...and I'll marry thee, if you give a bright bow of ribbon to me," giving a further reference to marriage in the series.

Defences

Redwall Abbey has never been fully conquered except in Redwall when Cluny the Scourge briefly took over. It was reclaimed the following day. The abbey is protected by large sandstone walls, with four gates in the walls. Three are small wicker doors, the other one a large double doored oak gate which has been shown to withstand the attacks of a ram for a sustained period of time. The walls have been described as smooth and impossible to scale, but this has been done by the rat Shadow. Defenders usually fight from the walls, using slings, javelins, and bows to protect the Abbey. Usually, there is rubble piled on top of the ramparts that can be used to drop onto attackers.

There have been only four vermin generals that have managed to breach the walls: Cluny the Scourge, the Marlfoxes, Raga Bol and General Ironbeak. Only General Ironbeak has ever managed to fight a way inside the main abbey building. All of these generals have been driven off at the sight of victory; Cluny the Scourge was defeated by Matthias, the Marlfoxes by a Skipper of Otters surprise attack, General Ironbeak by Stryke Redkite, and Raga Bol by Lonna Bowstripe.


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