I was invited to join in a series of games using Saga, the Dark  Age skirmish game, that was to be set in post-Hastings  England and when asked what side I’d like to be on I said ‘the  Normans’ without hesitation. I actually go with the fashionable point of view that the  Normans were (and still are) the bad guys, and I always cheer  the cowboys in the white hats, but the family name ‘Eyre’ is a  Norman name and it was with that in mind when I chose to be  the bad guys. The name Eyre comes with this founding legend:  “The first of the Eyres came to England with William the  Conqueror . In the battle of Hastings (14/10/1066) this  Knight, seeing the King unhorsed, and his helmet beat so  close to his face that he could not breathe, pulled off his  helmet and horsed him again. The King said: ‘Thou shalt  hereafter be called Air or Eyre, because thou hast given me  the air I breathe.’ After the battle the King called for him  and being found with his thigh cut off, he ordered him to be  taken care of, and being recovered, he gave him lands in the  county of Derby in reward for his services, and the seat he  lived in called Hope because he had Hope in the greatest  extremity; and the King gave the leg and thigh cut off, in  armour, for his crest, which is still the crest of the Eyres.”  My ancestor may have had Hope in the greatest extremity,  but the good folk of Derbyshire had none. The Normans  brought rape, pillage and genocide to England, to the extent  they had wiped out the English ruling class within a  generation and all the land and wealth was in the hands of  
those fighters who came over the sea with William, including  Eyre, (or Le Eyr).   So I was looking to build a Saga warband based around a peg-  legged pyschopath. Getting into the mind of Le Eyr, the  Norman Conquerors were a complex bunch. They were firstly  filled with the violence, paranoia and ruthlessness of a military  force trying to suppress a hostile nation, plus they were driven  by greed and avarice to seize as much as they could, with little  or no constraints by the law, to then settle permanently in  England. They were also driven by God. Their invasion had the  blessing of the Pope to crush the English Heretics and oath  breakers. By the beliefs of the time, they had God on their side  by right of victory at Hastings and William had declared anyone who had sided against him from the time of the Edward the  Confessors death to be a traitor. (That’ll be everyone in England then). So Le Eyr, deranged with pain from his severed leg, drunk with  absolute power and convinced God is on his side over a  traitorous, heretical population, is given lands in a region of  England that is still described 600 years later as ‘inhospitable’,  ‘a howling wilderness’ and ‘the most desolate, wild and  abandoned country in all England’ (1). What a scenario. Unfortunately for Le Eyr, I’ve been re-reading some old comic  books, and the villain Torquemarda (2)  seems to fit the bill for  my ancestor. Maybe Torque’s cry of ‘Be Pure, Be Vigilant,  Behave’ is not fully appropriate in 11th Century England, but I  can imagine cries of ‘Repent’ and ‘Death to all Heretics’ to be  fitting.