I decided to give my second stab at an AAR. Some comments on this AAR:
I decided to pick the Count of Labourd because it was a relatively prosperous county near potentially available muslim lands in Spain, but less vulnerable than Christian Spain in the early going because of being part of the Kingdom of France. I decided to place certain strictures on my play. The most important one is that I’m going to roleplay my rulers strictly. In any decision where their personality traits would tend to make them choose a particular option, they will choose that option. I’m also picking my childhood event decisions at random, so I don’t have control of the base personalities of my courtiers. I recognize the dangers in this—if I have a skeptical ruler, he’s likely to wind up excommunicated or heretical unless he’s deceitful, or perhaps modest. Oh, well—excommunication usually leads to exciting times! The role-playing will affect other choices as well—for example, the modesty of my first count prevents him from staking claims on any titles. I haven’t tried this before, so I’m interested to see how it goes.
The first count’s a little dull, unfortunately. But last time I abandoned an AAR because the first two reigns were boring, all hell broke loose later on, so I’ll persist.
Diary of Eudes de Lomagne, Count of Labourd (1046-1105)
January 7, 1067 – I received delightful news today. The King of Denmark has agreed to my proposal of marriage to his daughter, Ingrid. In fact, they arrived after a long sea voyage in our port this morning and preparations for the marriage begin immediately. Perhaps they were eager to get out of the northern winter for a while. Ingrid is just as lovely and charming as I had been informed. In fact, I have decided to make her my chancellor. It may be a little difficult for her at first, being so far from home and having to learn a foreign tongue, but Occitan shouldn’t be too hard for her with her, as she speaks and writes excellent Latin. She may be homesick for a time, but I am sure that she will soon learn to love my beautiful fertile land with the dramatic Pyrenees looming, particularly after growing up in cold, flat, dreary Denmark. I made a noblewoman of my court Petronela de Montesquieu my steward and her cousin Adela my spymaster. The Count of Auvergne wishes to marry Adela, but I feel I need her skills at court. Perhaps I can find a suitable young local nobleman for her in time.
September 20, 1067 – Ingrid told me today that she is expecting a child. While I have one son, Eudes, already, it never hurts to ensure the succession line with more heirs.
November 7, 1067 – Tierri de Montesquieu arrived at the court today with a message from the pope requesting that I take him on as diocese bishop. Well, I agree to, but with some misgivings. I don’t doubt Tierri’s faith or knowledge of scripture, but I must say he has quite the eye for the ladies for a man of God.
June 25, 1068 – It was an eventful day. Ingrid gave birth to a daughter today, whom we name Bodil. Also, Bertrand to Montesquieu, a cousin of Tierri’s has arrived seeking a place at my court. He seems to have some experience in leading men, and I do need a marshal, so I decide to bring him in.
September 25, 1068 – Poor Ingrid. Her newborn daughter died this afternoon. It had been a sickly child. I try to console her, telling her how young she is, and how many more children she will have.
December 3, 1068 – As a result of an inheritance of some fiefs in Ile de France through a distant cousin, it appears that I may have a legitimate claim on the throne of France. I do not wish to antagonize the powerful Capet family, however, so I choose to remain quiet.
December 2, 1070. Ingrid has given birth to a son, Godafres. I assured her that it wouldn’t take long for a healthy girl like her. I feel so much more comfortable now that I have a second male heir.
September 28, 1071. I have now lost 27 chess matches in a row to Bishop Tierri. It is becoming very frustrating. I keep trying to convince myself that I’m learning more of his tricks every day and soon will be able to beat him, but sometimes I think the only lesson I’m getting is one in Christian humility.
September 7, 1072. Ingrid gave birth to another son, Basajaun. I am so thankful that I have been blessed with a wife both talented and fertile.
October 3, 1074. A small pox epidemic has struck! The peasantry are panicking and it’s impossible to get anything done in the province.
March 24, 1075. As if life wasn’t difficult enough with all the disease, there is now an organized band of thieves preying on the populace. I must do something about this.
May 20, 1076. Bishop Tieri received a breathless messenger from the papacy yesterday, and today gave a thundering speech from the pulpit on how the people of the holy land suffer under the yoke of the infidel. A crusade has been called to free Jerusalem and all good Christians are urged to muster their forces to fight the Fatimids. I fear I can do little as the ruler of one little county, though if my liege, Guillaume d’Aquitaine feels we should go to war, I will naturally rally to his banner.
February 22, 1078. Ingrid gave birth to another daughter. I know that after losing her first daughter, she is very happy to have a girl this time.
September 20, 1078. Bishop Tierri reported that there have been no funerals for victims of the pox in over a month. It appears things are back to normal at last, though I still have to deal with that band of thieves.
March 25, 1079. My eldest son Eudes has come of age, and he is a fine young man. Indeed, in many ways he is an example of outstanding Christian virtue, magnaminous and even-handed, but perhaps too filled with pride. Indeed he was quite aggressive this morning in suggesting that Petronela was an inadequate and dishonest steward and that he would do a far superior job. His speech was very convincing, and I have heard some disturbing stories that suggest some corruption on Petronela’s part, so I have agreed to make him my new steward. A dangerous precedent to set, to be sure, but he is my son, and I do wish to see what he can do with a little responsibility. Come to think of it, he was so persuasive I think he might be even better as a chancellor than Ingrid. I shall have to find a wife for him. However, Adela has told me that a number of important rulers in Christian Spain—the King of Navarra, the King of Castille and the Duke of Catalonia—have been having trouble getting male heirs. I may see if I can marry him to one of their daughters.
December 29, 1079. Ever since the visit of my liege, the Duke of Poitou, and his wife last year, Ingrid has been pestering me to get her more fashionable clothes. Perhaps it’s a drawback of marrying a woman used to a royal court, rather than a backwater county. I chided her on her sinful vanity, and suggest that she confess to Bishop Tierri. Afterward, she was more subdued, and appears to have reconciled herself to our bucolic lifestyle here.
April 7, 1080. I unveiled our new court of justice in town today. I hope it will help to bring and end to all our troubles with ruffians and outlaws.
February 7, 1081. Now that my eldest daughter, Azivelle, is sixteen, I decide that it is time for her to marry. I’m quite fond of her, and she’s a clever girl, as well. In fact, I think I’ll make her my spymaster and marry her to Tierri, just to keep him out of trouble.
November 26, 1083. I ask if my son, Eudes may marry Ingiberga de Barcelona eldest daughter of the Duke of Catalonia. The Duke of Catalonia has no sons, so his daughter's children could inherit huge tracts of land.
December 7, 1083. Alas, much to my disappointment, the Duke has turned down my request. It isn’t because he’s received a better one either—it appears Ingiberga will remain single, at least for the time being. I was discussing this with my courtiers, and Azivelle says that she believes the Duke’s brother, the Count of Empuries has persuaded him not to marry her so that the ducal title should pass to his sons, thereby keeping the family name. At this, my youngest son, Basajaun snickered, and said, “the Duke had better watch his back.” Sometimes I wonder what they’re teaching at the monastic schools these day. Basajaun is already so cynical and he’s only eleven. I immediately send Ingrid to the court of the King of Navarra, so that she can propose that Eudes marry his older sister, Mafalda.
December 10, 1083. My middle son Godafres, who has been ill all year, grew much worse this morning, coughing and sputtering constantly.
December 22, 1083. Such a strange day. Godafres passed away this morning, coughing up blood for the last time. In the midst of this sorrowful day, Ingrid arrived with the young King of Navarra and his older sister. Though she knew Godafres was ill, she had no idea it had gotten so severe, leaving her in tears on a day which should have been a triumph for her. Mafalda seems a wise and cautious girl, a good match for my son.
August 14, 1086. Eudes and Azivelle have dug up evidence that we may be entitled to the county of Bearn. However, the Count is my friend, and in any event, it would be immodest to stake such a claim.
June 1, 1087. Eudes was furious at the news that Alfonso, the young King of Navarra died last week, allowing his brother, the Count of Rioja, to take the throne. Had either of Mafalda’s two children been boys, they would have inherited the throne of Navarra. Azivelle noted that the timing of the death was suspicious, as Alfonso’s wife was pregnant at the time, though the King had been ill. In any event, I’m not so sure inheriting the Kingdom of Navarra would be such a great asset for our family any more. The Christian realms in Spain are falling rapidly to the onslaught of the Kingdom of the al-Murabitids and the Emirate of Granada. In the past fifteen years, Castille, Leon, Galicia and Braganza have all been swept away by the Moorish tide. Personally, I’m happy to be the vassal in a strong realm like France right now.
July 2, 1087. I got into a bit of a tiff with the King of Aragon at a tournament last weekend. Eudes urged me not to allow him to insult me like that and that I should claim his title in retaliation. I admonish Eudes about excessive pride.
September 11, 1088. Now that my youngest son, Basajaun has come of age, I have decided to rearrange my court. I gently ask Ingrid to retire as chancellor in favor of Eudes—his smooth talk has always been his greatest strength anyway. My daughter Azivelle, I move to steward in his place and Basajaun will be my spymaster. Despite his ecclesiastical schooling, I fear Basajaun is not a righteous man, but his devious ways may prove useful in his new post.
September 20, 1088. I have arranged a marriage between Basajaun and Elise, a daughter of the countess of Exeter. She seems a strong and spirited girl. I am concerned that my son Eudes has not any sons, though, of course, Mafalda is still very young.
November 11, 1088. The pope has excommunicated Philippe Capet, King of France. I’m not certain of the details. Certainly, in the pillaging of the Duchy of Normandy a few years ago, he showed a certain degree of cruelty, but he is not a heretic to my knowledge. There was rumor of some insult to the honor of Mathilda of Canossa, the Duchess of Florence, who is said to have the pope’s ear. Or perhaps it’s his failure to support the pope’s crusade on Jerusalem. My own liege Guillaume d’Aquitaine remains loyal, but some of the northern duchies are getting restive. The Duke of Flanders has declared independence, as has the Count of Vermandois. There has been a lot of unrest in Europe in recent years. Germany has largely disintegrated. I worry that the powerful alliance between the Kingdom of the al-Murabitids and Emirate of Granada, having already captured most of the Iberian peninsula may threaten the heart of Europe if all this squabbling continues.
October 6, 1089. My liege Guillaume has died from wounds sustained in the war with the Duke of Flanders. As he had no sons, his lands have passed to a grandson, Gualtiero Obertenghi, who is only 2 years old. I imagine Guillaume’s longtime chancellor, Rainers de Quatrebarbes, will largely run the show, especially as the new Duke’s parents apparently remain in Corsica.
May 23, 1090. Basajaun arranges for me to meet with some of the major figures in the Duchy in a secret meeting in the County of Perigord. Apparently, Elise of Poitiers, steward of the duchy, and Emmanuel de Montreuil, the marshal, are concerned about the direction in which Rainers’ leadership is taking us. Rainers is notoriously irreligious, scoffing openly at the Pope’s call for a crusade some years ago, and Elise and Emmanuel are worried that he may lead the Duchy into a more active role in France’s civil strife, in support of Philippe. In other words, he may call up the forces of the various counts, including myself, in support of the King. A spirited, if inconclusive discussion followed:
GEOFFROY D’ANJOULEME: Outrageous! You think he’ll really ask us to bring up our forces to help an excommunicated King?
ELISE OF POITIERS: I do think he might.
EMMANUEL DE MONTREUIL: I know he’s considering it. He keeps inquiring as to how many men the various counts could muster.
GEOFFROY D’ANJOULEME: But Philippe has been excommunicated. Increasing his support for the king could lead to sanctions against us as well.
AMANIEU D’ALBRET: If anything, we should be rising up against this impious King!
I: I’m sure we all agree that we don’t wish to be dragged into this civil war. The question is how best to reduce the chancellor’s influence, so that this does not happen.
AMANIEU D’ALBRET: Well, I am friendly with the Count of Corsica. I might persuade him to release Gualtiero’s father Cristoforo from his duties as diocese bishop. He and his wife could then travel to Poitiers and rule in their son’s stead until he becomes old enough to seize the reins of power. Cristoforo is a godly man, and surely would not ask us to mobilize our forces for an excommunicated King.
RAOUL DE THOUARS: Listen, if we want Bishop Cristoforo as our liege, we can achieve that far more efficiently. Get rid of Gualtieri and Cristoforo becomes Duke.
ARCHAMBAUD DE BOURBON: Excellent idea! Eudes, your son, Basajaun, seems to have good sources of information. Do you think he might have an agent in Poitiers who might be able to arrange an accident for our little Dukelet?
AIMERIC GALEN OF PERIGORD: I’m not sure I like this idea. I’d like to know a bit more about this Bishop. He might drag us all into this mess on the other side, or ship us off to the Holy Land.
AMANIEU D’ALBRET: Are you afraid to fight? Or maybe you hold the same opinions as that heretic chancellor? It may have been a mistake bringing to trust you with our counsels.
I: Please, gentlemen. Aside from the fact that I find the suggestion of eliminating a mere babe to be rather distasteful, there is another possible wrinkle in that scheme. My son informs me that Cristoforo’s wife is pregnant again…if she has a son before Gualtieri’s “accident”, the newborn babe would be Duke, and we’d be right back where we started.
ELISE OF POITIERS: Why not assassinate the chancellor, instead? That would get to the root of the problem. Or are you too scrupulous for that, as well?
EMMANUEL DE MONTREUIL: I wonder if he’d accept a challenge to a duel.
ARCHAMBAUD DE BOURBON: I think I see where this is going. Get rid of the chancellor so you and Elise can control the duchy.
And so it went. The meeting was certainly interesting, but it seemed as if there were too many conflicting agendas for any agreement to be reached. I don’t think any action will be taken, unless somebody decides to act on their own.
December 8, 1092. I am becoming concerned by the increasingly strange and irrational behavior of Marshal Bertrand. He introduced me to a suit of armor yesterday, asking if I thought he should make it his new lieutenant. I briefly consider replacing him with Bishop Tierri, but he is extremely ill these days. My sons are really in capacities that suit their skills better. I really hope we don’t need to go to war at the moment.
November 1, 1093. Everyone seems to be losing their grip lately. Bishop Tierri rose from his sickbed last week long enough to give an incoherent rant on the evils of cannibalism from the pulpit—as if this were a serious problem in Labourd. His acolyte, who has been handling most of the services in recent weeks, was so embarrassed.
March 15, 1094. My daughter Dagmar is now of age. She really should marry, but I’m not quite sure what to do with her. I hesitate to marry her outside my demesne, because her forthrightness, energy, and courage might make her a valuable advisor to my son after I am gone. However, the only single man in my court of acceptable lineage is Marshal Bertrand. He might be a fair enough match if he were in his right mind, but under the circumstances, I can hardly trust my daughter to him. Perhaps someone appropriate will appear.
October 17, 1094. Tierri, my diocese bishop, has died. My poor daughter Azivelle has now lost her husband as well as four of her five children. Though, of course, he was quite a trial toward the end.
December 2, 1094. The pope has sent me Loup de Labourd, suggesting him as a candidate for bishop, now that Tierri has passed away. After a lot of discussion with my advisors, I have decided he may be a better candidate for marshal, allowing me to retire Bertrand. Perhaps relieving the elderly man of the burden of responsibility will help alleviate his distress. As Dagmar is in need of a husband, I suggest that she marry Loup. He’s a bit old, but otherwise not too unsuitable.
September 15, 1096. The Pope has sent me another man intended as a bishop. Why is he so intent on bringing in someone from outside, I wonder…I don’t really feel like spending the money for a new estate right now.
Sptember 16, 1097. Bertrand is now convinced that angels are speaking to him, calling him to the crusade to the Holy Land. All I can say is, I’m glad I relieved him of his duties as marshal.
October 5, 1097. Poor Azivelle has fallen sick with pneumonia. She hasn’t been feeling well since the spring and the change in weather has brought on intense coughing fits. Life has been hard on her in recent years. I shall ask Eude’s wife Mafalda to take over as steward for the time being. A bit more responsibility may bring Mafalda out a bit, as she has seemed unhappy of late. Her failure to produce a male heir may be weighing on her. She has three daughers now, and she hasn’t been able to become pregnant in five years. Or perhaps it is the fall of her father’s realm to the King of Aragon.
December 5, 1097. Excellent news. Azivelle came to see me this morning and said she felt fully recovered from her illness and is ready to resume duties as steward. This is a great relief, for while Mafalda is competent, her listlessness and despondent attitude were really getting on my nerves.
January 6, 1098. After a lengthy war that left us in the southwest essentially untouched, France has succumbed and we are now part of the Kingdom of Germany. At least the German king isn’t excommunicated. After a rocky start to his reign as a child nearly twenty years ago, young Peter Von Franken has proven an impressive ruler, successfully quelching most of the rebellions. While Provence, the Rhone and much of northern Italy are made up of independent duchies, otherwise, he’s largely reconstituted Charlemagne’s empire. That should help Europe resist the powerful muslim states in Spain. Jerusalem remains in infidel hands, despite over twenty years of war by various states against the Fatimids. The English have established a considerable power base in Egypt, however.
April 16, 1099. I have received word that the clergy of Labourd now feel that priest’s should be celibate. Old Tierri sure wouldn’t have liked that much!
November 2, 1099. My poor daughter Dagmar has died, attempting to bear her fifth child in six years. I guess some women are too fertile for their own good.
July 25, 1100. The Kingdom of Bohemia has successfully captured Jerusalem, bringing the holy crusade to an end after over 20 years of struggle.
June 9, 1101. The pope has sent me yet another prospective bishop—this one names Ebles of Labourd. Basajaun makes inquiries and it seems as though he’s not especially devout in private, and certainly not celibate, but if it will please his Holiness, I may as well invite this one to court.
June 21, 1101. The pope calls for another crusade, this one to free Burgos. This is quite a bit closer to home and I am tempted to join up. In addition, Burgos belongs to a vassal of the Kingdom of the al-Muratibids. Admittedly, they are powerful, but their capital is far away in Africa, and rumor has it that their young ruler is not on as friendly terms with the Emir of Granada as the old one. I consider testing the waters with Von Franken to see if he’s interested. He’s reputedly a zealous man and spoke often of his support for the Jerusalem crusade. I worry, however, that my little county is at the front line and the al-Murabitids might lay waste to us before von Franken could muster his forces. I decide to wait and see what other powers make a move.
July 12, 1102. Germany declares war on the Al-Murabitids and begins to mobilize. I will soon follow. I think it is time.
August 11, 1102. As the forces of the Duke of Poitou appear in Albret, I declare war on the sheikhdom of Masat, which controls most of the al-Murabitid’s Iberian posessions, and begin the march over the Pyrenees.
September 1, 1102. Well, my new bishop sure didn’t last long, passing away last night. I suppose the Pope will be sending me a new one soon enough.
October 23, 1102. Our army marches into Viscaya. The Sheikhdom of Masat has left it curiously undefended. There is word of widespread discontent and uprisings among the peasants, but no doubt they will be pleased to return to Christian rule. We lay siege to a small hill fort.
December 17, 1102. I triumphantly lead my troops into the fort. We have lost a little over 100 men during the siege, but Viscaya is ours. About 3000 troops from the Duchy of Poitou are expected to arrive in the next few days. As I still have a fair force, and I learn that the Duke is planning to continue westward to Asturias de Santillana, I decide that my troops will move on to Burgos itself, where a revolt is in progress. 600 rebel troops are besieging the castle there. Perhaps they will view us as liberators and assist us?
December 23, 1102. A small army of the al-Murabitids with about 300 men is reputedly moving northward through Burgos.
January 14, 1103. Our spies report 300 more men moving westward through Asturias de Santillana. I decide to halt our movement in case of an attack on our newly acquired territory at Viscaya.
January 30, 1103. The Duke of Poitou has successfully defeated the Murabitid troops and is laying siege to Asturias de Santillana. I cautiously order my troops to advance on Burgos again.
February 20, 1103. An emissary from the al-Murabitids has contacted me offering a white peace. I am tempted by the opportunity to consolidate my gains, but how can I make peace with the objective of the crusade so near. Meanwhile, the Duchy of Poitou has already captured Asturias de Santillana and is continuing to move westward. A clash with more troops in Asturias de Oviedo is anticipated, but the Duke would appear to have the upper hand.
March 20, 1103. Parlay with the rebels in Burgos has failed. Despite being outnumbered by more than 3:1 by my forces, they attack. Meanwhile word of nearly 500 more enemy troops entering Burgos has arrived. Still, more troops are still pouring in from the Kingdom of Germany.
April 15, 1103. No sooner had we routed the rebels than we were set upon by approximately 750 enemy troops approaching from the west. Although we outnumbered them, they hoped to catch us in disarray after the previous battle. Our troops rallied, however, and a fierce battle ensued. I anxiously watch for news of other troops—friend or foe—entering the area.
May 12, 1103. We had pushed the remaining enemy troops back into the hills north of the town. The terrain was difficult, and despite our advantage in numbers, victory was uncertain. However, one of my nobles Uq de Montesquieu led an uphill charge of 300 knights and cavalry directly into the onslaught of archers. Though reckless and costly, this charge won the day for us. I have a little more than 1000 men left ready to begin besieging the castle. About 800 men from the County of Maine are expected to arrive soon, to help. The Count of Maine is Alphonse Capet, Philippe’s son, but for some reason he is not leading the troops. The al-Murabitids, however are regrouping in Leon. I do hope this siege can be finished quickly.
Meanwhile, I have decided that any further negotiations with the enemy will be handled by Eudes’ second daughter, Cecilia. Eudes has been feeling unwell for the past few months, and the girl is brilliant, an artist in tact and diplomacy. She may be even more persuasive than her father, and her less trusting and generous nature may make her a little more alert to dishonest negotiations, though she seems forthright enough herself. Her elder sister Patricia has been highly sought after on the marriage market, but I had been hoping to allow her health to improve before sending her away. Once word gets out about this one, I will be deluged with offers, but I’d rather keep her near at hand. I shall look into an appropriate match when the war is over.
May 22, 1103. Alas, my son Eudes died in his sleep last night. While he had been ill for some time, I had not thought him close to death. Since Mafalda never did have a son, the family titles must fall now to Basajaun and his sons. It is a sad thing for a man to outlive his children. Eudes was my first, and in many ways, the one most like me of all my children.
June 1, 1103. The Sheikh of Massat has sent a rather odd peace proposal to my mind, offering to surrender his claim to sheikh of Viscaya, as if lack of a reputable claim would stop him from invading if he chose. I am still determined to bring this Burgos crusade to a close.
June 17, 1103. The troops from the count of Maine have arrived now, as well as a tiny force of enemy infantry. I’m not sure what they intend to accomplish as they are ounumbered by more than 10:1.
June 26, 1103. The remnants of that small force have been driven out of Burgos, so the siege resumes in earnest.
July 11, 1103. About eleven hundred troops from Agen have joined our siege, which will greatly increase the rapidity with which it proceeds. Or so I thought. Instead, it appears that after a short stay, during which they helped to eliminate the nuisance troops, they and the troops from Maine will pursue the enemy into Leon, leaving about 900 of my men to complete the siege. I do hope it is enough.
September 3, 1103. The pope is once again harassing me with my need for a bishop. His timing is impeccable. A confusing battle has erupted with allies and enemies entering the province from all directions, and he’s distracting me with this trivia. Ah, well, let him have the bishop and be done with it.
October 4, 1103. For reasons unknown to me, our King has signed a white [eace with the Al-Murabitids, before I was able to take posession of Burgos. Now everyone’s troops are going home. I thought of simply declaring war again, but there are too many troops coming from Africa for me to handle on my own. I guess I shall have to accept it. Anyway, the crusade was not a total failure. I expanded my demesne significantly with the Viscaya lands. I tell the troops to return to Labourd. Unfortunately, Eudes’ eldest son, Patricia, whom I had intended to find a husband for as soon as she recovered from her illness has passed away. I am troubled by this apparent poor health in our family. It’s strange—Ingrid and I are both well into our fifties and vigorous still.
October 21, 1103. In honour of Uc’s winning move in the battle of Burgos, I grant him my grand-daughter Patricia’s hand in marriage. Basajaun, ever alert to the possibility of treachery, suggests that there could be potential arguments over the succession, if Patricia has sons. Seeing his point of view, I inform our court that henceforth we will follow the salic consanguinity succession law. As I have only one son, the consanguinity is moot at the moment, but given the ill health many in our family have experienced, it might be necessary to skip over a sickly first son in favor of a healthy second.
December 21, 1103. I make a change of steward, requesting that Azivelle retire in favor of her only surviving child, Borel.
March 10, 1104. That Burgos crusade may have been too much for Marshal Loup, as he has passed away. I replace him with Uc.
August 15, 1105. Each day seems to pass more swiftly than the last…perhaps because I am too weak to spend much time out of bed these days. The bishop administered last rites to me yesterday. I fear the end is near, but I had a good life here. Some of my children might have thought me unambitious, but I never wanted one of those busy courts with dozens of scheming courtiers vying for attention. I’m happy with my quiet little corner of the world. I like drinking our local wines, aged in the oak cut from the forests of the Landes, out of pretty, delicate glasses they make in our onwn little town. I like to walk the road that leads northward toward Poitiers through the verdant fields, past the tile factory, and spend time studying the old Greek and Roman texts in the library. Of course, I wish I could have freed Burgos from the Moors, but at least I was able to return Christianity to Viscaya. I only wish Eudes had lived longer. I love Basjaun dearly, but I fear the choices he may make in the coming years. His love of subterfuge and ruthlessness worry me. Indeed, I agreed to change the succession law in part because I feared he was capable of killing his niece to prevent her bearing children who might have ambitions on what he thought was his. Perhaps Cecilia will be a positive influence. She shares enough of his cynicism about the motives of others that he won’t dismiss her views out of hand, but shows candor and compassion.