“Not long ago mice lived in tree hollows, under logs, in cracks between granite boulders, and among other forgotten places. They lived scattered across the wilderness without community or culture. They were hunted by predators, exposed to the weather, and had few resources to sustain themselves in the face of cataclysm. These mice were far more likely to perish from depredation, exposure, illness, or starvation than live a long & prosperous life.
“But against the overwhelming forces of Nature a few disparate groups of mice made a stand, staking claims on a handful of safe patches in the wilderness. As word of these safe havens traveled, other mice flocked to them. The most famous settlement grew from a hiding place to an outpost to a fortification and finally to a citadel on the peak of a rocky mountain called Lockhaven. This place was a fortress of final retreat & a small army was formed to reach out to other settlements & form a safe place for all mice called the Shire.
“A king was chosen from among the mice, a wise & beneficient administrator, and all mice in the Shire prospered under the rule of King Abram. It was under his direction that a university was formed at Lockhaven where the best craftsmice & specialists from throughout the Shire assembled to further the community & culture of mice. A chemical concoction was created which was used for the Scent Borders to deter large prey from traveling through the Shire. Epic songs & poems were written about the heroes of the Shire. Metal was refined & crafted into tools & trinkets. The secret of glassmaking was developed. And the language of the mice was put down in a written form which could record their history. Abram was so popular that, upon his death, his first born son, Artur, was declared King of the Hazel River Mouse Shire. Many years of prosperity passed. When Artur died, his son, Artur II, was declared king, and after a few generations it became traditional for the first born son of the king to replace his father.
“Artur VIII, however, was not a good king, murdering his own father to take the title of king for himself. The King’s Guard was divided into two camps, one for the new king & the other against him. A war was fought among the mice. During this time, a band of weasel bandits invaded the Shire from the southeast, taking advantage of the warring mice to ransack mouse towns & settlements across the South Farthing with no organized resistance. By the time the mice in the Shire realized their dire situation & retreated to the fortress of Lockhaven, the weasels were already besieging the citadel. In three days Lockhaven fell, and the weasels marched off to their warrens with enslaved mice, leaving the Shire devastated.
“A female mouse named Gwendolyn had been building a monastic retreat in the Northshire where mice who did not want anything to do with kings & wars had gone to develop a community & live in peace beyond the reach of Lockhaven. After the weasel invasion many mice traveled northward, looking for refuge. At Stonewall Abbey they found comfort & compassion, and Gwendolyn began restoring the sense of community in the Shire. A few surviving veterans of the King’s Guard arrived, begging her to reforge their force into an army which could protect the Shire from weasels rather than fighting among themselves. From these remnants Gwendolyn organized the Mouse Guard.”
-from the Codex of Stonewall Abbey, a history of the Mouse Guard