My new AAR is thus underway, as the House of Hohenstaufen. Starting in 1066, they are the rulers of just one tiny county. Will I be able to match their historical record? It remains to be seen.
And if you are wondering about the title of this AAR, see here.
Part I: Claims and Wars
This is the story of the House of Hohenstaufen and its fortunes and fates.
In 1066, the House of Hohenstaufen was but a minor noble family like so many others in Germany. Its roots were in Swabia, the mountainous areas south of the Rhine. The head of the family was Friedrich, ruler of the small, mountainous county of St.Gallen just west of the Tirol, and a vassal of Duke Rudolf of Swabia. Having recently turned eighteen, the Count was nonetheless an able ruler, skilled in administration of his lands. His only unfortunate (according to some) characteristic was his penchant for intrigue and deceit, though opportunities for such were few and far between in the small county. Even so, the Count was not a vengeful man, and cheerfully forgave even very bad slights against him.
Friedrich knew that to ever achieve something greater, he would have to take his family on an international arena and to expand his lands. Thus he began to plan for expansion. His advisors said that he should seek a wife at once, to continue his dynasty. But Friedrich assessed the situation in southern Germany and decided to wait, for reasons that will soon become apparent.
A word must be said about the Count's mother, Hildegarde von Bonngau. Though well into her thirties, she was still a woman of great beauty and influence, having come from the large Bonngau family which held various lands along the Rhine. It was through his mother that Count Friedrich had several important family connections. In particular, he was in line of inheritance for the counties of Nordgau and Pfalz, along the western bank of the Rhine. The count of Pfalz was one Herman von Bonngau, a young man of eighteen who had no children of his own; he was also a distant cousin of lady Hildegarde. According to the rules of succession, Friedrich Hohenstaufen was next in line to inherit Pfalz... provided that Herman sired no other heirs. And thus, when on January 5th, 1067, count Herman died in a hunting accident, some fingers pointed at Friedrich... but there was no proof, and Friedrich was recognized as the rightful count of Pfalz.
In the meantime, war was erupting around Europe. Of most relative importance to St.Gallen was the war declared on January 6th, 1067, as Heinrich King of Germany declared a crusade against the pagan chiefdom of Slupsk and the Pomeranians. The King's armies marched north, fighting the pagans, but at first St.Gallen stayed out of the war. There were yet matters to attend to at home, and the count financed the building of forestries in his lands to aid future construction and income.
The war between King Heinrich and the pagan Pomeranians dragged on, and finally count Friedrich decided to try his luck. Mustering the forces of St.Gallen and Pfalz, he marched north, and in late January of 1070 crossed the border of Pomerania. His liege, Duke Rudolf of Swabia, also joined the campaign, and Friedrich was somewhat concerned that between the Duke and the King, there would be little left for him. Nonetheless, he led his army to the Baltic forests. Passing through Wolgast, he then invaded the lands of Slupsk in early May. While King Heinrich and the Duke of Swabia fought in the lands of western Pomerania, Friedrich besieged Slupsk. It was a long and hard siege, but in February of 1071 the province fell and was added to the Hohenstaufen lands. In the meantime, Duke Rudolf of Swabia had conquered the rest of the Pomeranian lands, and soon added the duchy of Pomerania to his titles.
Friedrich, content with his gains for now, waited for his opportunity. In summer of 1073, it came. The firstborn daughter of Duke Rudolf, Adelaide, had come of age. Immediately envoys were sent to the Duke's court, asking for her hand on behalf of count Friedrich. The Duke accepted, and on August 6th the wedding was held in Augsburg.
His marriage secured, Friedrich nearly spoiled everything. In October, he had an affair with a common woman in Pfalz which resulted in the birth of his bastard son Albrecht. Friedrich's new wife Adelaide, a vengeful woman, was terribly offended and refused to even sleep in the same room with him. Things looked grim for the family's future. Fortunately, Adelaide's father Duke Rudolf was a more merciful man, and finally convinced his daughter to relent after several months. So as the summer of 1074 ended, Friedrich and Adelaide were expecting a child.
In the meantime the development of the Hohenstaufen lands proceeded well. New forestries and sawmills were built, and fishing was sponsored on the coast of Slupsk. It was difficult to rule the three widely dispersed counties, but Friedrich managed it with the aid of skilled stewards.
On May 23rd, 1075, Adelaide gave birth to a boy who was named Hartmann, and by the end of summer she was again pregnant. Friedrich, happy with this turn of events, now tried his best to resist extramarital affairs, though his lust was notorious. But now he devoted much of his time to the upbringing of Hartmann, and for good reason. Not only would Hartmann inherit the Hohenstaufen lands, but he would also be the heir to the old Duke Rudolf of Swabia, who had no male children of his own. Now Friedrich's strategy in marrying Rudolf's eldest daughter became clear, and his family's rise in Swabia prepared.
Heir of the Duke of Swabia
On April 3rd, 1076, Friedrich and Adelaide had a daughter, who was named Maria. A year later, on May 4th, 1077, another son was born, named Adolf; and on February 24th, 1078 a second daughter, Amalberga, was born. The dynasty of the Hohenstaufen looked secure for the moment.
Soon, Friedrich began to plan another expansion of his lands. To prepare, he had training grounds built in all his provinces, and ordered the research of improved siege technology. Albrecht, his bastard, was sent to the army to train, away from Adelaide's sight. In September of 1080, Friedrich was ready. Calling up his armies, he spent one last night with his wife and then marched to Saxony, and from there invaded the lands of the Wends. As before, King Heinrich and Duke Rudolf saw an opportunity, and also sent their armies north. But Friedrich was already there with almost 2500 men, and he was determined to come out of this war with a profit.
First he marched on Lübeck, defeating the pagans there and liberating it by February 1081. Meanwhile, King Heinrich was besieging Mecklemburg, but his army had suffered severe losses and the siege dragged on. At the same time, the pagans had inflicted a defeat on Duke Rudolf and were attacking his Pomeranian holdings in Wolgast. Friedrich next marched on Rostock, taking it in June. By that time the King had lifted his siege of Mecklemburg and was retreating, and Friedrich quickly moved to resume the siege there. In October Mecklemburg was his, while Duke Rudolf had lost Wolgast and was also in retreat. Quickly, Friedrich marched east. The winter of 1081 was hard, as the pagans attacked Friedrich's army in Werle in waves after waves. But the count pressed on.
At the same time news came from home. Friedrich's daughter Maria was sent to study in a convent, and his wife gave birth to another son, Rupprecht. Meanwhile, his eldest legitimate son, Hartmann, had not yet begun his education but was already known as a vengeful, grudge-holding boy.
On New Year's Day of 1082, the Pope declared a holy crusade against the pagans and infidels. Friedrich, already at war, paid it little heed for now. In February he took Werle, and moved east to the fallen Wolgast. By July Wolgast was taken and added to the Hohenstaufen lands despite protests from Duke Rudolf. But Friedrich played the King against the Duke. On November 26th, 1082, Friedrich was created Duke of Mecklemburg, and was made a direct vassal of King Heinrich. Thus did the Hohenstaufen family first rise to importance.
Friedrich the Duke