Austria, Grand Campaign.
Version: 1.07 beta
AI aggressivness: normal (i want to enjoy the game)
Goals: Imperial crown, more than nominal control of HRE, conquest of Italy, expulsion of Protestants, obedient Pope, free Hungary (or rather, Austria free of Hungarian problems and rather poor provinces).
Let us get straight to the point, shall we?
The reign of Albert V: 1419-1439
For the whole duration of his reign Albert V was torn between the necessity of maintaining a large standing army and, despite of having a rather large treasury in the beginning, the inability to support it. His dream of becoming yet another Habsburg on the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, if realized, would fix all of his problems. Yet, he would have to wait until the Hungarian King is dead. For now, his other dream - the conquest of Italy - would occupy his thoughts day and night.
Unlike his predecessors, Albert decided to isolate Italy first, before marching his armies south. In order to prevent the other foreign powers from reaching the peninsula by land, he would have to conquer the Alps and the mountanenous regions of Istria. Then, he hoped, having no room for expansion outside of Italy, Italian city-states would turn on each other and exhaust themselves in countless wars after each all of the population would welcome Austrian rule as the lesser evil.
In order to establish Austria as the dominant force in the Imperial politics, Archduke also planned to make his domain's military more land-oriented and put the serfs under total control of the nobles.
On June 13th, 1419 Austria, supported by Bavaria, declared war on Venice. The latter's armies were already defeated by the Imperial Hungarian forces and all Albert had to do was to besiege Venice itself and hope for quick resolution of war. Several Venetian armies tried to lift the siege, but were all quickly annihilated. Some 30,000 Austrians were send to the walls of the capital.
The trouble came when Hungarian allies - Croatians - finally took Istria. The Emperor Zsigmond decided to take part in the siege and sent thousands upon thousands of troops to Venice. Before Albert V could retreat the bulk of his army, nearly 20,000 men died or deserted him. They would have been disbanded anyway, as Albert was losing money at alarming rate, but this Hungarian stupidity would not be easily forgotten by the Austrians in years to come.
In 1420 Wurtemburg joined Austrian alliance. Venice continued to fight the Emperor in the east. In 1423 their capital fell to the Austrian-Hungarian forces, with Austrian commander accepting the surrender of the city. In 1427 Venice lost Dalmatia to Croatia and sued for peace with Austria, offering Istria in return. The offer was accepted, since numerous rebellions in Austria itself prevented the Archduke from continuing the campaign in the south.
Meanwhile, Pope's initial successes in Italy were followed by a brutal civil war and the loss of Siena to the rebels. Albert began planning for the second phase of his plan to isolate Italy on land, but his allies had plans of their own. In 1430 Bavaria had declared war on Wurzburg and Saxony. Austria supported her on paper, but in reality dedicated it's time to strengthen fortifications in Tirol. Soon Wurzburg capitulated and was annexed by Bavaria. Not willing to waste another moment, Archduke declared war on Helvetia.
Swiss alliance with Savoy and Baden was more of a convenience than a threat to Austria. Baden was promised as a prize to Wurtemburg and Savoy's Piemonte, together with Swiss province of Schwyz would go to Albert, just like he planned years ago.
The war started in 1432. Bavaria initially refused to take part in it, but Albert's gentle persuasion tactics brought that Elector back into the alliance. Additional 15,000 troops were raised, while the existing 18,000 were used to invade the Swiss cantons' territory.
Swiss army entered the race with Wurtemburg's one. The first was trying to capture the latter's capital, before the latter captured Baden's. Meanwhile, Austrian forces took Schwyz and defeated several Savoyard armies trying to cross the Alps and join the allies fight in south Germany.
Rastatt - Baden's capital - fell first with Stuttgart surrendering a few months later. Swiss moved south to Tirol, while Bavaria and Wurtemburg concentrated on retaking the Stuttgart from the enemy. Austrian forces covered Bern and Savoy and besieged Piemonte. Soon all three provinces were in Austrian hands, while Swiss took Tirol, after defeating Archduke's army, which tried to lift the siege.
The war was almost over. Wurtemburg was liberated and Austrian army annihilated what was left of the Swiss in Tirol. The province was re-taken and harsh terms of peace dictated to the enemy. Baden was already annexed by Wurtemburg. Savoy had to cede Piemonte, pay 50,000 ducats and grant Austria the military access. Helvetia had to cede Schwyz, pay 50,000 ducats and become a vassal to the Austrian crown. The year was 1436.
Meanwhile, in Italy, Pope's alliance was challenged by the coalition of northen city-states - Venice, Milan and Mantua. Their victorious march south ended in conquest of Romagna, Modena and Tuscany. Pope also lost Marches to Aragon and was forced to become Venitian puppet, which caused a cry of disbelief and outrage across Catholic Europe.
King of Hungary, the Emperor Zsigmond, died a year later and, in view of recent events, Albert V was elected the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. He planned to make it holy not only in name, although the roman part he was not sure about. The least he could do though, was to add Rome to his domain and hope it would be enough.
The two years that followed the Emperor has spent in recruiting the army - becoming the Emperor solved somewhat his financial and manpower problems. Now he could maintain 50,000-strong force without bringing down the economy. Just when he was ready to invade Italy, God recalled him to Heaven, putting Ladislas Postumus in his place, both on the thrones of Archduchy of Austria and the Empire.
Elsewhere in Europe during Albert V's reign: Castille's annexation of Granada, Scottland's conquest of Brittany and south Ireland, and Turkish advances in the Balkans.