This ancilla is the Seneschal of Schaasburg. He belongs to the Arpad Ventrue, but like his former mentor, Vencel Rikard, he is a Bavarian rather than a Magyar.
A handsome, tall German knight approaching middle age. He has a strong jaw, prominent cheek bones and expressive blue eyes. His wavy brown hair is worn at shoulder length. He carries himself with a lordly air, and practiced grace. A broadsword and dagger are worn at his waist, and he is garbed in mail under a midnight blue surcoat bearing a red tower on a yellow field.
Sir Matthias is quite often called upon to be the public face of the Iron Covenant. His friendly and chivalrous nature lends itself well to the role of emissary for the coterie, though at times his brother-in-arms Sir Heinrich speaks in his stead when it is deemed appropriate. While the Gangrel’s manner is far more polished and practiced, the Ventrue has a natural charm and a certain franchise about him that more than makes up for his lack of high court graces. He is very much the lynchpin of the Covenant, mediating between the strong personalities in the coterie. However, Sir Matthias’ lack of tolerance for dishonourable and underhanded behaviour (a little extreme even for a Paladin) has landed the Iron Covenant in hot water more than once.
Matthias is skilled at navigating the pitfalls of feudal estates and municipal hierarchies, and he has slipped easily into the role of Seneschal of Schaasburg. Prince Janos and Sir Heinrich concentrate their energies on the security of the city and patrolling the Burgaviate’s borders in order to fend off the depredations of Voivode Ionescu’s raiders. This leaves Sir Matthias and the Toreador deacon Aloysius Benedictus Gallo to insinuate themselves into the city’s feudal and ecclesiastical power structures. They are advised (somewhat erratically and occasionally brilliantly) in this task by the Malkavian Matthilde Wallenstein.
Little is known of his mortal years other than the fact that he was born and raised in the Bavarian city of Bamberg, and that his family are distantly related to the House of Babenburg. He likely had few prospects at home, for like many Bavarian knights he travelled east to the realm of Hungary to take service with the Arpad dynasty. There he fell into the orbit of a number of pale nobles who variously served and advised the Count of Pozsony in secret matters. One of these secretive men was his kinsman, Johann ritter von Bamberg, who wasted no time in taking Sir Matthias. The young knight sought out, and soon received, the Embrace from Sir Johann, and entered the ranks of the Arpad Ventrue.
While still a rank fledgeling, his grand-sire Prince Gregor sent Matthias to the East to fight the forces of Voivode Vladimir Rustovitch. The nocturnal conflict that ensued would later be called the War of Griffons and Dragons. The Dux Bellorum of the Arpads at this time was Prince Vencel Rikard of Buda-Pest, who had taken up the mantle after the Final Death of Jelek Arpad at the hands of Rustovitch himself. For eight grueling years the Arpads fought the Tzimisce. Sir Matthias idolised the older knight, and became one of Rikard’s most eager recruits onto the Path of Chivalry. Sir Johann was the prince’s most able lieutenant, and served as dux when Rikard was indisposed on King Bulscu’s business. For his bravery and heroics at the terrible Battle of Csaba, Sir Matthias was inducted into the prestigious Order of the Griffon.
It was also during that terrible fray that he met Janos, a Magyar warrior who was a mere handful of nights Undead. The two desperate Ventrue saved each others skins several times over on that fateful night; Rikard and his knights persevered and the hated Tzimisce were put to flight. The two young Ventrue formed a fast friendship and together with a number of other young Arpad Ventrue they formed the Iron Covenant soon after. Unfortunately the war against the Tzimisce was an attritious one and only Matthias and Janos saw its end in 1139 CE.
After the war, Heinrich and Janos returned to Pressburg with their sire’s and made their services available to Prince Gregor once more. In 1149 CE, when Janos went east to found the town of Schaasburg with his sire, Karol Borbas, Matthias was unable to follow. Instead, he was oath-bound to serve a term with Prince Vencel in Buda-Pest. There he completed his induction onto the via equitae and became Rikard’s roving agent and trouble-shooter. The Iron Covenant effectively ceased to be when Matthias and Janos parted ways, but the two Ventrue continued their friendship via correspondence.
By 1180 CE, Sir Matthias was travelling with Mathilde Wallenstein and Aloysius Benedictus Gallo. The Malkavian’s visionary guidance, combined with the Toreador’s flair for deductive investigation, helped them solve a number of problems for their master. However, despite his charm Sir Matthias readily acknowledged that he was no leader and the coterie tended to languish a great deal when not actively engaged by Rikard. Janos began joining them intermittently in 1186, seeking to earn enough prestation to gain support to return to Schaasburg and take vengeance on his sire’s vanquisher, Vlad Ionescu. His drive gave the coterie enough energy to direct their talents in more useful ways, and by 1193 he was offered a permanent place in the party. In 1195, the Iron Covenant was made once more, and their star swiftly began to rise throughout the Arpad courts.
Over the last fifteen years, the Covenant has slipped from the patronage of Vencel Rikard, finding that more than half the princes of Hungary were antipathetic towards them (owing to partisanship regarding a feud between Rikard and Geza of Esztergom).Prince Gregor of Pressburg was a far more attractive patron, as his perennial fence-sitting in the dispute allowed them considerable freedom of movement and a welcome almost everywhere in Hungary. Rikard proved to be understanding regarding Sir Matthias’ decision to bow to the coterie’s group decisions, and he has used their services frequently.
Sir Matthias and his companions were called upon to build a tower in the southern reaches of Tihuta Pass in 1197 CE. Word had reached Prince Gregor that his rivals sought to build a base there, and he was eager to get there first. Sir Heinrich of Clan Gangrel (the childe of Gregor’s lover and Scourge, Jana von Dorsten) happened to be at loose ends in Pressburg at the time, and following Matthilde’s advice, Sir Matthias and Janos offered him a place in the Covenant. Sir Heinrich quickly proved his worth as both an escort and a warrior, and both Matthias and Janos have sworn brotherhood to the Gangrel.
The Covenant was beaten to the pass by the Concord, and it fell to Sir Matthias (backed up by a disguised Sir Heinrich) to parley with the rival coterie. He proved himself to be a fair and gracious diplomat, ceding that the claim of the Concord was better than that of the Iron Covenant. Friendly conversation with Iulia, Veceslav and Maude yielded their suspicions that Prince Nova of Mediasch was not all that she appeared. Ultimately this would lead the Covenant to investigate the Arpad Overlord, which would lead to the exposure of the Nosferatu imposter Ruxandra. This in turn set up the necessary support for Janos to finally make a claim on Schaasburg the Domain that he fought to protect for decades with his sire, Karol Borbas.
Sir Matthias has worked hard to see the city and his coterie prosper. He also works for the interests of his Overlord, the restored prince Nova Arpad of Mediasch. Any less would be a betrayal of the oaths he has made. It is for this reason that he reacted with uncharacteristic ill temper when he found two members of the court of Mitru of Klausenburg at the investiture of Bernhard von Billung as the new prince of Kronstadt in 1199.
As Mitru was under sentence of Blood Hunt from Nova, and the sisters Lorea and Nicoleta were guilty of regularly aiding and abetting his activities, the Hunter’s punishment was theirs as well. By inviting the girls to the investiture as well as the supporters of Prince Nova, Bernhard had placed the two intensely honourable knights in an impossible position- keep their peace and break their oaths to their Lord, or confront the would-be prince over his error and potentially injure his authority. Matthias chose the latter approach, pointed out Bernhard’s duty, and suffered an outrageous rebuke from the Gangrel for his trouble.
Sir Matthias bristled at the insult; a slight on his dignity and honour that was both engineered and then executed by a Cainite who clearly made only lip service to his own oaths! Sir Heinrich salvaged the situation with graceful words, and Matthias managed to see out the investiture with relative calm, enduring the shame for the greater good. It was clear to all of the politicians in the room, though, that great damage had been done. The powers of Schaasburg and Kronstadt would not easily find amity and common ground in the future.