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Thread: Austria ? Österreich über Alles (pics included)

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    Austria – Österreich über Alles (pics included)

    Austria – Österreich über Alles

    Albert V (1st January 1419 – 1st January 1439): A Quiet Beginning

    It is January in the year of our Lord 1419. The snow is thick on the ground in Vienna as I make my way to the Imperial Court of Albert V. With my reputation as a soothsayer and teller of prophecies, I am rather uneasy in surroundings such as these – the only time soothsayers are usually found in the vicinity of public buildings is when we are about to be condemned to death by means of a public barbecue. However, I sense no fear, just uneasiness. To my surprise, I am hustled into the great hall of the Imperial palace, and see Albert V himself sitting, enthroned with all the paraphernalia one would expect of a Holy Roman Emperor.

    I am introduced, and he greets me warmly. He seems to have been well-briefed, and I keep on my guard, only too aware of the number of people who have encountered this same personable façade, only to find themselves stabbed in the back in a dark alley shortly afterwards. Albert leads me over to a long table, and shows me the map thereupon:

    He bids me to sit down, and explains his situation. Austria is but a small nation, currently punching well above its weight in European politics thanks only to the reputation of the great house of Habsburg which rules it. It is economically backward, and surrounded by neighbours who appear outwardly friendly, but who could turn as soon as they sense a weakness. Albert emphasises that he’s well aware that, if the Habsburg dynasty were to fail, Austria would be at the mercy of those around her, a situation he does not wish to see happen. I am about to tell him that the fall of the Habsburg dynasty is about the last thing he should be worried about, but I feel now would not be the time. No, there’s something he wants from me, and I’m not about to blow my trump card at this early stage. Instead, I ask what he want from me.

    “Young man, people say you can see the future. Is this true?”

    “I have heard it said, your majesty.”

    “Well, here’s a change to prove yourself. Since the death of Fürst von Schmetterling, I have been without an adviser. I’m willing to put my faith in you. It is up to you to repay it.”

    I thank Albert profusely, and assure him that I will serve him for as long as I live, sensing that I might be able to avoid the fate normally reserved for my kind. I am sent to my new, opulent lodgings in the castle tower, and told that I will start work the following day.

    Sensing that Austria’s main weakness is economic, I set about loaning to other European nations, hoping to make sufficient money from interest payments to cover the expenses incurred in the everyday course of business. Noticing also that we are currently alone in the world, I ally immediately with Bavaria. I decide to sit back and see what will happen for a little while.

    Annexations are the flavour of the decade; Candar, Modena, Trebizond and Bosnia are conquered within a year by the Ottoman Empire (I make a mental note to keep a careful eye on these chaps), Tuscany, Dulkadir and Serbia respectively. A peasants’ revolt in Tyrol is crushed in December 1425, and Bavaria is vassalised on 7th May 1426.

    A protracted war breaks out between Poland & Bohemia on the one hand, and Hungary on the other. Matters are finally resolved in March 1428, as Bohemia takes control of Carpathia, and Poland gets its grubby mitts on Ruthenia. Feeling worried at the increasing power of Poland & Bohemia, I bring Württemberg and Helvetia into our alliance.

    The final decade of Albrecht’s rule passes as peacefully as the first. Fortresses are upgraded all over the nation in 1435, as my policy of being Europe’s bank (and even lending to those cash-hungry Ottomans, much to the disgust of the Archbishop of Vienna) finally pays dividends. Württemberg and Helvetia are both vassalised, and yet more nations are annexed elsewhere in Europe, some in peace, others in war (Oldenburg to England, Gelre to Burgundy, Cologne to Kleves, Munster to France, Milan to Genoa (much to my disgust, as I had hoped to take the riches of Milan for myself), and Albania to the Ottomans). 1436 sees some degree of tension at the Imperial court, as some nobles demand what they claim to be their traditional rights. Not willing to see Austria descend into chaos, and mindful that, in the atmosphere of an ailing monarch, I need to keep the nobles onside, I grant their requests.

    By Christmas 1438, Albrecht is demonstrably ailing, and won’t last much longer. I make a special effort to ingratiate myself with his heir, and get his agreement that I will be retained as chief minister after Albrecht’s death. Indeed, the old man himself does not long survive Christmas; he dies as the bells ring in 1439.

    Ladislas Postumus (1st January 1439 – 27th November 1457): Carefully Does It

    Ladislas is a man very similar in nature to his father. However, he is less than convinced by my policy of being Europe’s bankers. I point to the gleaming new fortresses all over the country, but he seems less than convinced. He remarks pointedly that Austria’s boundaries haven’t changed during my 2 decades in power, and warns that our neighbours are expanding at our expense. I refuse politely to abandon my cautious policy, but concede that we must expand at some point. In the meantime, Austrian money is still being circulated around Europe, and our exchequer is reaping the rewards.

    Ladislas’s warning about powerful neighbours strikes home suddenly one day in April 1442, when a courier arrived from Berlin to let me know that Poland has annexed the nation of Brandenburg. Ok, so it was peacefully accomplished, but it makes me worried. I bring Genoa into our Austria\Bavaria\Helvetia axis, and diplomatically annex Württemberg, so I can at least report to Ladislas that we’re expanding too.

    We’re not the only ones though; 1443 also sees Burgundy conquering Lorraine by force, and also the loss of the final relic of the Roman Empire, as Byzantium succumbs to the power of the Ottomans, who immediately move their capital to the smouldering ruins of Constantinople. Milan declares its independence from Genoa, but my hopes of conquering it for Austria are short-lived, as our army reports that the Genoese were already on the scene. Mournfully, I order our men to pull back from the siege. Despite us not doing anything, Milan sues for peace and pays us 147 gold for the privilege! Not that it does them any good, as they are re-annexed by Genoa almost immediately afterwards. No matter, as the peace settlement has already been loaned out to a couple of cash-strapped nations.

    On the domestic front, we continue to reap the benefits of my unexciting loan policy. The proceeds of one repayment are spent on upgrading our fortress in Württemberg, in case any of our neighbours might have wanted to use it as a back door into our heartland. In February 1447, there is an unprovoked revolt in Tyrol (there must be something in the water over there, you know). I send one army to crush it, and am subsequently rather shocked when I hear of its defeat and retreat. Never mind, we have more armies, and the rebels aren’t as lucky in the second battle. I order a small harvest of heads in Tyrol, just to remind people that authority does have to be obeyed.

    The last years of Ladislas are peaceful in terms of domestic goings-on, but the annexation merry-go-round continues elsewhere. Granada is conquered by Portugal, and Wallachia by the Ottomans (they’re starting to worry me now). Peaceful takeovers still happen though – Castile and Bohemia take control of Navarra and Saxony respectively without a single shot being fired (if only keeping them was so easy). Burgundy goes on a vassalisation spree, taking the Palatinate, Savoy and Mainz under their wing, all in less than a year.

    However, that time is coming round again. Ladislas is getting weaker, and will not be much longer in this world. I send a few gifts to other German nations, just to make sure that Ladislas’s heir Friedrich is elected Emperor as easily as his father was. Sure enough, on one stormy night in November, Death comes to the Imperial court, and Ladislas departs this world for the next. His reign was another peaceful one, with just one war (the only one I have fought thus far). However, the territory under Austrian control expanded; perhaps only by one (Württemberg), but we all have to start somewhere .

    Friedrich V (27th November 1457 – 21st August 1493): Twist of Fate

    As soon as the lavish coronation ceremony is over, Friedrich summons me to a private audience. He rewards me for my dutiful service to his father and grandfather with the title of Marquis, and briefs me of what he wants to accomplish. He wants to be remembered in history as a monarch who made a difference, quite unlike his predecessors. He walks over to his map table and points to the map thereon:

    He is of the opinion that eastward expansion has been more or less curtailed by the activities of Hungary, Bohemia and Poland. He eyes the single-province states in Germany with some degree of envy, and makes it clear I should direct my attentions there.

    That night, I have a strange dream. A great empire torn apart by the untimely death of its monarch, its territories split between two great powers, one Western and one Eastern. I awake with a start. It must have been one hell of a night last night, I think, and try to remember what I had been drinking. Oh yes, a red Burgundy. I wonder if the wine and vision are related.

    The first decade of Friedrich’s reign is another peaceful one, much to his disappointment. I firmly remind him that it is not Austrian policy to declare war without a good reason, something which he grudgingly accepts. Several European nations declare independence and are subsequently re-annexed. The only big event in the Austrian political calendar during this period is the accession of Bohemia to our alliance, replacing Genoa, who dropped out owing to an oversight on my part (something for which I am still cursing myself).

    The second decade is a whole lot more eventful, however. To mark the 10th anniversary of Friedrich’s accession, I spend 1000 gold on acquiring the title of Defender of the Catholic Faith. This delights his majesty greatly, as it promises not only to fulfil his spiritual needs but also his temporal ones, as we will now receive a causus belli on any nation declaring war on a Catholic country. It also vindicates my loan policy, as a poor nation such as Austria would never otherwise have been able to scrape together such an enormous sum of money. We must be careful, though – the title will be declared forfeit as soon as we lose a war.

    There is a small rumpus at court in 1473, when an innovative thinker appears on the scene. He is quickly imprisoned, as I feel his majesty only needs one such person around Vienna. Besides, a narrow-minded nation is much easier to lead than a free-thinking one. The following year, the Ottomans suffer their first major setback, as they lost Macedonia and Rumelia to Venice after a war for which, I’m proud to say, both sides paid using Austrian money.

    1475 sees Poland further expanding their influence, with the peaceful annexation of Pommern. Friedrich is really getting agitated now, but I stick to my peace policy. Mindful of my earlier vision, I expend a reasonably large amount of money cosying up to Burgundy, in case Charles the Bold proves too bold at any point – Friedrich’s son Maximilian is casting covetous eyes at Charles’s only daughter. Aragon takes a couple of provinces off Castile after a quick war, leading me to wonder why the two most powerful nations on the Iberian peninsula don’t just bury the hatchet and cooperate a bit more. Sure enough, within a year, Castile has taken the name “Spain”, and Queen Isabella has married Ferdinand of Aragon, leading to Aragon’s vassalisation by her more powerful neighbour. Venice takes advantage of the international confusion caused by this to annex Mantua (peacefully, of course).

    One June morning, I am sitting at my desk when a message arrives from Dijon. Charles the Bold has indeed lived up to his name too much, and has drowned during a fishing expedition. My policy of Burgundian appeasement has paid dividends too, as Maximilian has married Charles’s heiress and taken control over the vast majority of ex-Burgundian lands (Alsace, Lorraine, Luxembourg, Flanders, Holland, Geldre & Piedmont). France has taken the opportunity to seize Bourgogne and Franche-Comté, but I’m not too worried about that for the moment.

    In one twist of fate, Austria has become a big player on the Western European stage, and has gained the right to attack France at some point in the future, as their ally Kleves is holding some of Burgundy’s ancestral Dutch lands which Maximilian would like to see returned to their rightful owner. I make a note in my journal that we will attack in 1483, when our royal marriage with Paris expires, by which time our military men will have worked out the delicate business of assaulting enemy fortresses. As soon as 1478 rolls around, we bring the small but powerful nation of Friesland into our burgeoning alliance. I hurry to tell Friedrich, and to show him the new map of his possessions:

    While the Austrian army is being built up and trained, word comes in that the Ottomans continue to lose lands; this time Dobrudja to Moldavia. Hungary expresses its admiration for Moldavia’s achievement in the only way possible, namely by declaring war on them. In June 1481, I receive the message that our tacticians have finally come up with a way of assaulting fortresses. My joy is short-lived, however, as the Bohemian ambassador corners me in a corridor in the Imperial palace the following month to let me know that King Vladislav II has declared war on Hungary, and has requested Austrian assistance.

    Left with little choice but to agree, I find my nation pitched into a titanic struggle between the forces of good (Bohemia, ourselves, Helvetia, Bavaria and Friesland) and evil (Hungary, Baden, Cyprus, Hannover, Scotland & the Palatinate). Friedrich is delighted; I’m aghast. My anti-French policy seems to be falling around my ears, as I move our forces from Western Europe to Eastern Europe. An attack by the Palatinate on Lorraine in August 1481 is defeated, but I prevent the ringing of the bells in the churches of Vienna as news breaks of a heavy Austrian defeat in Luxembourg. December sees the Austrian capture of Pressburg, marking the first ever successful Austrian assault, and also the expulsion of enemy forces from Württemberg. On December 12th, we sign white peaces with Scotland, Cyprus & Hannover, knocking them out of the conflict.

    1482 starts badly, with a heavy defeat in Pressburg, which the Hungarians promptly besiege. On January 15th, the Palatine ambassador demands Ostmarch in return for peace, a request which I meet with derisive laughter. The smile is wiped off my face on March 5th with news that Alsace has fallen to the rampaging armies of the Palatinate, and that Hungary is about to retake Pressburg. The following day, I hurriedly meet with the Hungarian ambassador and inform him in my best Magyar that this war is in the interests of nobody, and ask for a white peace. Astonishingly, he agrees, and the Treaty of Budapest is signed immediately. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall when Hungary asked the Palatinate to pull out of Alsace! So, our war is over, with no gain at all, but at the cost of nearly 50,000 Austrian lives.

    Friedrich is shaken by the war, and informs me privately that my peace policy was probably the best course of action after all. I acknowledge him, and sit down to rethink my upcoming war with France. With so many seasoned veterans lost, I decide to postpone it indefinitely, and hire an Italian engineer to educate my troops on the finer points of defensive tactics.

    1483 is a year of consolidation and rebuilding, although Lorraine revolts twice against Austrian domination. The first rebellion is crushed easily, but the second takes 3 attempts and costs the lives of yet more seasoned soldiers. 1484 starts off in the same vein, with Piedmont playing turncoat. The fortress falls, but only after 2 bloody assaults. Some regional heresy in February is ignored, much to the disgust of Friedrich’s spiritual advisers.

    I continue to keep an eye on France, however, and note with great interest their declaration of war on Bourbonnais. With their troops occupied in the south of their country, I raise some war taxation and launch an assault on France’s Dutch and German lands (Kleves having been peacefully annexed by the French a couple of years before). A quick campaign now could see us nabbing at least 1 province before they can react properly. Indeed, a quick campaign is a must, as France can command much greater resources and manpower reserves than Austria.

    The First Franco-Austrian War, December 1484 – January 1492

    All our allies heed our call to arms, pitting our alliance against France, Tuscany, the Knights of St. John, Eire & Savoy. The first engagement, the First Battle of Zeeland on August 11th 1485, results in the defeat of the large French Northern army. Deprived of any chance of relief, Cologne falls to our forces on September 26th, at the same time as a plague decimates a large proportion of the population of Ostmarch. In late September and early October, I sign white peaces with the Knights, Eire & Tuscany, and raise a bit more tax to fund the war effort. Munster falls to our troops 3 months to the day after the First Battle of Zeeland. The year ends on a sour note, however, as France captures Piedmont. People around Austria will be less than amused too, as more war taxation is levied to pay for troops.

    1486 starts well, with the capture and annexation of Savoy to the Austrian crown. The victorious army moves on to Franche-Comté and captures it just over a month later. Collecting reinforcements in Helvetia on the way back, it subsequently recaptures Piedmont in September. This is rapidly followed by our first naval victory, as the French fleet is forced to beat a retreat towards Provence. Our victorious admiral sends me French maps stolen by one of our boarding parties. At the end of the year, Zeeland and Flanders both switch owners after long sieges, Zeeland to ourselves, and Flanders to France. Meanwhile, just to prove that life goes on elsewhere much as usual, the Papal States forcibly annex Naples on November 28th.

    Our first mercenary companies are recruited in Holland in January 1487, as the realisation dawns on me that this war will be a protracted and bloody one, one for which Austrian manpower reserves are not sufficiently adequate. The companies share very different fates; one makes it through to Kleves, and takes the city on April 2nd, but the other is met by a much larger French force in Zeeland whilst on its was to re-take Flanders, and is completely annihilated. Word reaches me from Piedmont that the French are again seeking to capture it (one wonders why they bother when there are many richer provinces elsewhere), and my gloom is compounded when I hear of the heavy defeat of the force I sent to relieve the city. However, I am gladdened by the news of the annihilation of a French army bound for Zeeland in Cologne in April.

    Flanders is liberated, much to my relief, on July 7th, and the victorious army routs the large enemy force at the gates of neighbouring Zeeland, killing more than half of the Frenchmen present. The Palatinate, still smarting from their treatment by Hungary over Alsace, join the war on the French side on September 3rd. They promptly offer me a white peace, but I refuse, eager to take revenge for their earlier conduct. December sees the first serious attempt to end the conflict, with France offering Franche-Comté and Artois (which I don’t even control!). Sensing that the French are desperate, I reject it and call once again for more taxation to fund the war.

    1488 is a quiet year, the only action being the continuing French siege of Piedmont, and the encirclement by our forces of Pfalz. A noble revolt in Flanders is quickly crushed. Of course, war taxes are again raised at the end of the year. I must say that I am becoming increasingly impressed with the manner of the ordinary Austrian people – despite the heavy tax burden, there is not even a single murmur of revolt.

    We capture Brabant on 23rd January 1489, followed quickly by Pfalz. The Palatinate ends its troublesome independent existence soon afterwards, the former ruling family fleeing to some den of iniquity in Paris, no doubt. I receive a shock on May 3rd, as the Würzburg ambassador informs me that they are now at war with us. I ask who they are allied to, and am told that they will fight their war alone. Incredulous, I call our alliance into action, and raise war taxes yet again. Leaving Würzburg to our allies, I concentrate once again on the main event, and laugh uproariously when I hear that a bunch of Brabantine rebels have slaughtered the French force besieging the city. I send my main army to besiege Paris.

    The siege does not last long, as we are forced out of the province after an unsuccessful attempt at storming the city in January 1490. February sees the end of the war with Würzburg, with them paying us nearly 150 gold, and being annexed almost immediately by Bavaria. If only all wars were so simple, I muse. I send my troops back to the gates of Paris, which falls on November 10th. The last French Northern army is defeated in the field in Champagne soon afterwards. In a completely separate conflict, Baden annexes Mainz on December 8th.

    Determined to bring the conflict with France to a profitable end, I order half my forces to assault the poorly-fortified province of Picardie, which falls on April 11th 1491. The French Southern army has now made its way north, and is once again besieging Zeeland. I send the rest of my forces to drive them out, and the final French field army is annihilated in two battles in August and September in Zeeland and Munster respectively. The final act of the war is the Austrian capture of Bourgogne on 30th December.

    Worn out and broken by the conflict, France is forced into a humiliating peace, signed in the Louvre in Austrian-controlled Paris on 2nd January 1492. They agree to hand over Zeeland, Munster, Kleves, Cologne & Brabant, and to pay us 50 gold to remove our armies from what remains of their territory. The war has cost us at least 200,000 men, killed either in combat or by the general rigours one must expect in a protracted conflict such as this. The Austrian people have stood resolutely behind their monarch, however, despite annual war taxation which has impoverished many. Now, I note, is a time for healing and rebuilding. France still controls some of Burgundy’s ancestral provinces, but we shall have to wait for another time to recover them. The map of Austria now looks something like this:

    Friedrich is, of course, delighted by the progress of the war. He promotes me to a ducal honour, and orders that celebrations should be held throughout his expended realm. He is an old man, however, and ailing rapidly. He does live to enjoy his empire for a year and a half, however, until the inevitable happens. He is succeeded as Austrian ruler and Holy Roman Emperor by his son Maximilian I, a close confidante of mine during the war with France. Friedrich towered over his nation for nearly 4 decades, turning Austria from a poor backwater in Eastern Europe to one of the most important powers on the Western European stage. Well, that’s what the history books will say, at any rate – those truly behind his greatness will doubtless be forgotten in the mists of time.

  2. #2

    On we go...

    Maximilian I (21st August 1493 – 14th January 1519): Consolidation

    Maximilian rises to the Austrian throne already experienced in the murky world of European politics. He was intimately involved in the campaign against France, often travelling with me as I visited the various front lines. He has also had some degree of autonomy in ruling the ex-Burgundian lands he holds in right of his young wife. He is a knight of some repute, and a man of genuine piety.

    He understands, however, that war is not the be-all and end-all of ruling. He knows only too well of the fractiousness of some of the provinces inherited from Burgundy, and lets me know that he desires a period of peace, in which wild lands can be tamed. Sure enough, within a year, Kleves and Lorraine erupt into open rebellion. Thankfully, I had already stationed armies in the vicinity, and the rebels are soon put to the sword. I continue to expand our armed forces, until they reach the numbers we saw before the French war, a target reached in March 1495. The following month, I am awakened by an almighty explosion coming from the garden of the Imperial palace in Vienna. I rush down to find Maximilian, covered in soot but bearing a huge grin, standing next to a massive but fairly rudimentary piece of artillery. He orders that it should be issued to our forces as soon as possible.

    The following two years are quiet and peaceful ones. Maximilian spends most of his time jousting, leaving me more or less to run the country. I upgrade some of the damaged fortresses in our newly-conquered lands, and continue with my loan policy.

    January 1499 brings news that Maximilian has promoted his first (indeed, Austria’s first) Field General. He is Georg von Frundsberg, one of Europe’s foremost siege engineers, and no mean commander of men on the battlefield either. I station him in Flanders, in anticipation of a possible French assault.

    The assault does come, but from an unexpected source. I receive news on January 2nd that our Helvetian allies have, quite out of the blue, declared war on Baden (a country sadly lacking in terms of allies). I rush Frundsberg across the Low Countries and into Hessen, whose fortress falls to an expertly-commanded assault on 5th May. Another army is defeated heavily in Baden itself on June 16th, but that is mitigated by the news that Frundsberg has captured Mainz, again by means of an assault. I move his army to Baden and order an assault, but this is unsuccessful. August sees him settling down outside the walls of Rastatt for a long siege, and also brings news that an unprovoked revolt in Ostmarch has been put down by 60,000 Bohemian troops, passing through on their way to join Frundsberg.

    Just when Baden is about to fall, I am informed that Helvetia has signed a peace treaty with the enemy, receiving a grand total of 25 gold and giving us exactly nothing. Incensed, I order all our armies to the Swiss border, and present the Helvetian government with an ultimatum; either they allow themselves to be peacefully annexed, or Frundsberg will take some pot shots at their fortress walls with some of our new artillery. They capitulate on November 7th, giving us two more provinces and linking our western and eastern lands for the first time. Frundsberg is created Governor of Switzerland and sent into Bern to make sure the locals don’t try to regain their independence.

    Now that the excitement is over, Maximilian promotes one of his relatives, Archduke Ferdinand, to a military command. Not as accomplished as Frundsberg, I appoint him to head the army garrisoned in Vienna, so he can remain at the Imperial Court.

    The next 7 years pass quietly. Frundsberg puts down several rebellions in the cantons, and we vassalised Friesland in August 1504. May 1505 sees the proclamation of the Treaty of Tordesillas, which to an Austrian is about as interesting as watching cheese mature, but which I’m sure will have plenty of significance to other nations. In October of the same year, Poland extends their sticky fingers into Germany with the annexation of Holstein.

    The Second Franco-Austrian War, October 1507 – June 1510

    France is once again on the warpath in early 1507. She forcibly annexes the rump of Bourbonnais in May, and declares war on Aragon in July. After having allowed her armies to head south, we declare war on October 5th. Frundsberg leaps into action, and quickly captures poorly-defended Franche-Comté on November 11th. 2 days after, we sign white peace treaties with Eire and Tuscany. Late November sees a heavy defeat for our armies in Lyonnais.

    France, realising that she will have her hands full coping with Frundsberg, pays Aragon a small sum on money for peace in January 1508. At the end of January, a man from the Fugger banking dynasty shows up in Vienna asking to be able to run the Austrian treasury. Preoccupied with the war, I persuade Maximilian to agree.

    Frundsberg continues his run of victories, with the capture of first Bourgogne and then Lyonnais in quick succession, until he finally meets his match at the hands of French General Pierre Bayard in Nivernais in November. Our armies at the gates of Artois are twice thrown back in 1508, prompting me to move them to the less well-defended Picardie.

    1509 starts badly, with a defeat in Picardie and Bayard’s recapture of Bourgogne for the French. However, this bad run is soon turned round, as Frundsberg defeats Bayard and recaptures Bourgogne in April, and Picardie falls in November.

    The French are in some degree of trouble now. However, they are not beaten yet, as they still have two great Generals in the field (La Palice and Bayard). La Palice, however, is killed when his army is completely annihilated in Artois in February 1510, followed 5 days later by Frudsberg’s greatest victory yet over Bayard. Bayard is again defeated in March, and Artois falls soon afterwards. Fresh from his field victories, Frundsberg encircles and captures Paris before King Louis XII can escape. Maximilian travels to Paris and, after a meeting with Louis on 17th June 1510, announces that the French have capitulated again. This time, we gain Picardie, Franche-Comté, Bourgogne, Lyonnais, and 50 gold.

    Habsburg Unity

    The remaining decade of Maximilian’s reign is a peaceful one. The most noteworthy events surround the progress made by Venice. First, Ragusa is peacefully annexed, then 3 provinces are wrested from the grasp of the Ottomans. Finally, Crimea is forcibly annexed. I am therefore overjoyed when Venice agrees to join our holy alliance in July 1518.

    1517 brings some religious turmoil, as an obscure monks starts claiming that Catholicism might not be as correct as we’d all assumed. Maximilian looks at the Reformation with some degree of disdain, but I am more cautious – I get the feeling this schism could last a while. Behind his majesty’s back therefore, I order that these new “Protestants”, as they’re called, should be treated on the same level as Catholics.

    My loan policy continues, and Austrian gold in excess of 2,500 is circulating around the royal courts of the world, the 10% interest rate we charge providing a very handy income for the Austrian exchequer.

    In late 1518, Maximilian’s health takes a sudden turn. Always a healthy man, he is suddenly sluggish, and looks all of his 65 years. His heir is his grandson, Carlos I of Spain. Worried that Austrian interest might be overshadowed by Spanish ones, I arrange for Carlos to visit Vienna, and impress upon him the importance of the Empire. After not a little browbeating, he agrees that, when he inherits Austria, he will rule his vast lands from Vienna rather than Madrid. Spain therefore become our vassals in early January 1519. Only a few days later, on 14th January, Maximilian finally succumbs to his illness.

    The Austria of 1519 is immeasurably stronger than the Austria of 1493. Under Emperor Maximilian, we have further expanded our influence in Western Europe with another heavy defeat of France, and have for the first time physically linked the two halves of our empire together. We have a strong ally in Venice, something we have not previously enjoyed, and Spain will from now on be ruled as our vassals, paying a goodly chunk of their annual revenues over the Alps to Vienna. The only way is up.

    Karl V (14th January 1519 – 2nd October 1556): The Traitor King?

    Karl accedes to the throne with a golden legacy. He is the master of perhaps the most powerful Empire seen in Europe since the days of Charlemagne. He is a strange man, though. Educated in the Austrian Netherlands but thoroughly Spanish in his ways, I am not entirely sure what to make of him. His brother Ferdinand, on the other hand, is someone I feel much more comfortable working with. Austrian to the core, he trusts me implicitly in everything I do, and knows full well that I act with the best interests of Austria at heart.

    My suspicions about Karl are proved correct when he returns to Spain as soon as he has been crowned Emperor. He doesn’t really want to be in Austria, and I get the feeling that he only agreed to rule his empire from Vienna because that was his grandfather’s wish. Now Maximilian is dead, he will do more or less as he pleases.

    The first years of Karl’s reign are quiet ones. Protestantism claims its first major success, as Denmark converts in December 1521. France goes to war with Aragon, another of Karl’s possessions, but one over which he does not seem to exercise a great deal of control, and claims the provinces of Messina, Gerona and Roussilon.

    The sudden death of Lewis II of Hungary and Bohemia provides us with more than a little excitement, however. He leaves all his dominions to Ferdinand, who graciously allows Hungary to become part of Austria. He wants to rule Bohemia in his own right, but accedes to my request that it should be vassalised to the Austrian crown. Hungary brings with it one orthodox province, Wallachia, to which I quickly send a missionary – it’s bad enough having two religions in one’s territory; 3 is too many.

    On 21st August 1528 dies a true hero of Austria, General von Frundsberg. He played an integral role in Austria’s wars for nearly 3 decades, and his passing is greatly mourned at the Imperial court. Whether Karl gives a damn, stuck as he is down in the Escorial palace in Madrid, is another matter.

    The first attempt at converting Wallachia fails, but we finally succeed in bringing it into the Catholic community in June 1536. By then, the Ottomans have made another gain, this time taking the province of Bosnia from Serbia. Serbia itself looks ready to fall any time soon, so I move some troops to the Turkish border, just in case. In Western Europe, France has been unable to control the territories she won from Aragon, and so is forced to give recognition to Catalunya, much to my amusement. I am tempted to declare war on France, but do not for fear of the 150,000 troops bottled up in French territory around Paris, unable to get to the South of the country.

    More nations find themselves drawn to Protestantism by the lure of money and power over their local churches. Sweden, England, Poland & Hannover convert between 1531 & 1539. Then, in 1540, another religious “reformer” appears on the scene. Jean Calvin’s appeal is something of a mystery to me, but I order that the “Reformist” religion should be tolerated and gradually eradicated through a programme of re-education. The fruits of this policy are first seen in 1545, as Maros returns to the Catholic fold, followed quickly by Banat, Geldre & Pfalz.

    Running concurrently to this, I am promoting Chief Judges all over our domains in the hope that any whiff of revolt can be stamped upon before it escapes.

    1548 sees the great Imperial Diet at Augsburg, in which we support Catholicism and the Papacy’s new Counter-Reformation against these new religions which seem to be popping up every day. Hannover, the only Protestant nation left in Germany (with the exception of Bohemia, which is well and truly obedient to Austria’s desires), leaves in disgust and promptly subordinates themselves to Polish vassalisation.

    The only military action of Karl’s reign occurs rather surprisingly, and rather disappointingly, against the Ottomans (one of my best customers with regard to loans of Austrian gold). We are pushed into the war by a Venetian assault on Constantinople on 8th August 1549. Our troops march into Bosnia, and take it on 8th October. Kosovo falls just over a month later, and we capture Constantinople on 12th January 1550. On 11th July, we make a separate peace with the Turks and take control of Bosnia and Kastamonu (on the Black Sea coast). Missionaries are immediately sent out to convert the Orthodox and Muslim populations of our new lands. Two years later, Venice more or less signs the Ottomans’ death warrant, forcing them to surrender Kosovo, Angora and a large amount of (probably originally Austrian) cash.

    The Final Betrayal

    Karl is becoming increasingly irrelevant to Austrian politics, and I persuade Ferdinand to more or less stage a palace coup and dethrone his brother. Ferdinand calls another Diet at Augsburg, and proclaims the principle of Cuius regio, eius religio, which basically allows rulers to determine the religion of their territories. Shortly afterwards, I hear rumours from the Austrian ambassador in Madrid that Karl is planning one final coup against Austria. Ruling is seemingly getting too much for him, and he plans to retire to a monastery soon. However, before he leaves power, he is supposedly planning to hand all the former Burgundian territories which Austria has owned for three quarters of a century to his Spanish son and heir, Felipe.

    We have to move quickly. I travel to Holland and meet with representatives of the local nobility. They are aghast at the prospect of Spanish hegemony in the Netherlands, and agree to my proposition that they should be granted freedom, but under Austrian vassalisation (to protect them from Spanish aggression). They drive a hard bargain, and make me hand over to the new nation Holland, Geldre, Zeeland and Flanders. A similar bargain is reached in Alsace, and the nation of Strasburg stands ready to be proclaimed.

    So it finally comes to pass that we receive a message from Madrid announcing Karl’s abdication in favour of his son Felipe, and the demand for the Burgundian lands. The independence of Holland and Strasburg is proclaimed immediately, and Spain only receives half of what Karl originally wanted – Brabant, Luxembourg, Lorraine, Franche-Comté & Bourgogne. Felipe, a dim-witted man at the best of times, accepts his “bonus” happily, but Karl is reportedly incandescent. To avoid any further embarrassments, I quickly announce Karl’s abdication as Holy Roman Emperor and ruler of Austria, and crown Ferdinand I in his place.

    Karl’s legacy to Austria is one of humiliation and embarrassment. He was a man pathologically unfit to inherit his grandfather’s legacy. The gains made by Austria were more by luck than his judgement, and his final surrender of our former Burgundian lands was a complete abrogation of his duty as Austrian ruler. It was only thanks to a bit of quick-wittedness that we only lost control over 5 provinces rather than 10. Even so, Austria ends his rule a significantly weaker and diminished nation.

    Ferdinand I (2nd October 1556 – 27th July 1564): Deutschland über Alles

    Ferdinand is well aware of the task facing him. Already an old man at the time of his accession, he is intimately acquainted with Austrian politics, having been more or less in charge of the government in Vienna for 3 decades while Karl was moping around the Escorial. He makes it clear to me that, after our bad experiences in the past, he wants to see our foreign policy efforts concentrated within Germany itself.

    In the third year of Ferdinand’s reign, I arrange the diplomatic annexation of our long-time allies, Bavaria. The ducal family is well treated; they are made Princes of the Empire and given sizeable pensions. Those of the common people who choose to accept our rule will see no difference; those who oppose it will be crushed. Crushed, indeed, by a new General who appears on the scene in January 1560, Archduke Franz-Josef.

    The remainder of the reign is peaceful. The only event of any real note is the conversion of Kastamonu to Catholicism in November 1560. A few remaining Muslims choose to stage a revolt, but they are comprehensively defeated. I send out a message that under no circumstances should Islam be tolerated in our Empire.

    Ferdinand dies in the early hours of 27th July 1564. His reign saw Austria start on the journey of recovering some of her lost national pride with the annexation of Bavaria. The military was also strengthened, with an eye to liberating some of the Northern German states from Polish oppression.

    Maximilian II (27th July 1564 – 14th October 1576): France’s Troubles

    Maximilian’s accession is greeted with joy throughout the Empire – in October 1564, I receive word that the newly-Catholicised people of Kastamonu chose to celebrate the new era by upgrading their fortress, which is just fine by me.

    Max’s reign is a quiet one. Austria makes no territorial gains, but I continue to build up her economic strength by means of loans. In January 1572, we make our first long-term deals, with 25-year contracts being signed with Venice and the Papacy. Venice receives 2000 gold, and Rome half that amount, with interest being paid annually at 10%. This guarantees Austria’s prosperity for the next quarter century. On top of that, another 1500 worth of shorter-term loans are made.

    On the foreign policy front, the key event is the complete collapse of France. Already rocked by her wars with Burgundy and ourselves in the 15th and early 16th centuries, religious differences virtually split her apart. The province of Languedoc declares independence in May 1570, taking the name Provence. Bourbonnais follows just over a year later, with the coup de grace being delivered in May 1574, as the French Huguenots declare themselves independent, taking Guyenne, Cevennes, Limousin & Maine with them. The 150,000-strong French army can do nothing about this, however, as it is stuck around Paris, unable to get to the problem area, as they are cut off by England and Spain. I watch this with amusement, but choose to do nothing, as we have no legitimate reason to go to war with the French. Besides, those 150,000 troops near Paris make me nervous.

  3. #3
    Rudolf II (14th October 1576 – 22nd January 1612): The Drang nach Norden

    The sudden death of Maximilian in 1576 brings his young son Rudolf to the Imperial honour. A man of genuine perception and realism, he encourages me in my loan policy, as he believes (as I do) that it is perhaps the only way a country with reasonably poor resources can make an impact on the world stage and still keep its domestic books balanced. He is also a passionate hater of Poland, a country against which we have a longstanding causus belli, owing to its possession of the ancient Hungarian province of Ruthenia.

    It is with Rudolf’s encouragement that I declare war on Poland on 2nd January 1578. The immediate objective is the capture and re-annexation to the Austrian monarchy of Ruthenia, which is taken on 2nd March. However, events elsewhere have forced a sudden policy rethink. Due to poor intelligence from Krakow, I had been unable to ascertain beforehand who Poland counted amongst its allies. Luckily for us, it is a nation which is not too well-liked in Europe, and was able to rely on the active support of only Hannover and Hannover and Denmark. The latter retires from the war with a white peace on 6th April.

    Hannover, however, grabs my interest. It is a single-province nation which separates Austria’s territories in Western Germany from Poland’s in the North. After a quick trip to Prague to consult with Rudolf (as he has decided to base himself there rather in Vienna, which he feels is too crammed with intrigue), we switch our war aims from the liberation of Ruthenia to the destruction of Polish power in Germany. The first step is the capture of Hannover, achieved after a series of rather embarrassing defeats by Archduke Franz-Josef on 28th December. Hannover is added to the Austrian Empire by the Treaty of Hamlyn on 2nd January 1579.

    There then follows an extraordinary series of victories as province after province falls to our rampaging armies – Bremen (22nd April), Mecklenburg (24th July), Holstein (25th July), Magdeburg (24th August) and Vorpommern (1st May 1581). The coup de grace is achieved when Krakow, the Polish capital, falls to Franz-Josef on 11th May 1581. Rudolf quickly journeys there (with me in tow, of course), and we force Poland to accept a humiliating peace. We take the provinces of Magdeburg, Bremen, Holstein, and the rich centre of trade in Mecklenburg, thereby destroying nearly a century’s worth of Polish expansion at a stroke. There is a slight tinge of sadness too, however, as Franz-Josef catches some sort of fever and dies on August 8th as his army makes its way back to Vienna from Krakow.

    The next 6 years are ones of rebuilding, as I consolidate our hold on the provinces taken from Poland. Unused to Austrian rule, they are a little rebellious, but our armies stationed there are more than capable of taking care of any problems. Würzburg and Württemberg (both long-standing Austrian provinces) are finally converted to the one true religion in May 1582. January 1585 sees the arrival of another Field General, as Archduke Karl takes command in Bern. In August of that same year, news comes from Iberia that Spain has taken Portugal somewhat to the cleaners, nabbing 3 provinces from her in the process.

    Our truce with Poland has expired by now, and we have to qualms whatsoever in declaring war again on 7th June 1586. The war begins well, with the capture of Brandenburg, Vorpommern, Hinterpommern and Kustrin in quick succession between September 22nd and 28th March 1587. After the fall of Hinterpommern, Denmark quickly asks for a white peace, which I accept.

    I am still celebrating the capture of Kustrin when grave news arrives from Krakow. Franz-Josef’s old army has been completely annihilated by a smaller Polish force. In a rage, I move some of our armies stationed in the West to the Eastern front, and another spectacular series of victories ensues. Krakow falls to an assault by a new army on 22nd August 1588, followed by Danzig (14th April 1588), Prussia (3rd November), Mazovia (1st May 1589) & Poznan (20th May). Realising they are facing a complete bloodbath, the Poles sign a peace treaty on 25th June 1589. This time, we receive Brandenburg, Kustrin, Vorpommern, Hinterpommern & another rich centre of trade, Danzig.

    A period of rebuilding follows once again, with the only big news coming from France, where the Catholics and Huguenots have made up with the monarchy and reunited most of the country. In October 1596, I diplo-annex Strassburg, thereby uniting our Northern and Southern territories once again.

    Rudolf is now eagerly eyeing the state of Moldavia, located just next to Poland on our Eastern border. We do not have a legitimate cause for going to war with them, but my sources at the Polish court report that they have unwisely allowed themselves with Krakow. We therefore attack the Poles again on 8th March 1598, and send armies into Polish territory. After a couple of victories on the battlefield, we sign a white peace, and concentrate our energies on Moldavia, which entered the war on the Polish side. We take Transylvania on 13th January 1599, but lose Wallachia 6 months later. However, we continue on the offensive, and quickly capture the remaining Moldavian provinces of Dobrudja (19th October) and Moldova (27th December). Wallachia is liberated in May 1600, bringing Moldavia to the negotiating table. We take Transylvania, Dobrudja, and the entire (though fairly meagre) contents of the Moldavian treasury.

    Impressed by our victories, Lithuania attaches itself to our powerful alliance in March 1601. 3 years later, I am notified that our engineers have found ways of improving our fortresses, so I initiate an empire-wide upgrading program. This is put on hold by our final annexation of Moldavia, accomplished after a quick war in 1607. Then, in November 1608, my political theorists present me with the concept of the governor. Eager to reduce our 8% inflation rate, I seek out the 8 most deserving provincial officials and promote them right away.

    The remainder of Rudolf’s reign passes peacefully, with General von Mercy taking over the command of the army in Bern from the recently-departed Archduke Karl in January 1610. 2 years later, Rudolf informs me that he is ready to abdicated in right of his younger brother Mathias. I accept his decision.

    Rudolf’s abdication comes at a time when Austria is at the height of its power. It has well and truly recovered from the events of 1556, and is now without doubt the single most powerful nation in Germany, and almost certainly in Eastern Europe. Rudolf was not only ready to use military power to further Habsburg ambitions, he was also a man who understood the reasons behind my loan policy, and the first monarch to give his wholehearted support to it. I therefore lent out more money for longer period than ever before, as the Austrian loan book shows:

    Our expansion does have a price, though. Countries seem to be more wary of us than we were before, and I find myself paying out increasingly large amounts of money in pensions to keep some of our more recalcitrant allies onside (Reformed Bohemia and Holland especially). Venice, our principal ally, continues to stand resolutely behind us, however – our connection has proved too mutually beneficial for either side to wish to abandon it now. I just hope that future Austrian rulers will look to Rudolf when they consider how to approach their tasks. If they do, then we will continue to prosper. If not, then the storm clouds could start gathering rather quickly.

    Mathias (22nd January 1612 – 22nd March 1619): The Age of Indolence

    Mathias’s first action on taking over from his brother is to put me in prison on trumped-up charges of embezzlement. While there, I am unable to get too much information of what’s happening in the outside world. I gather that we get involved in a Lithuania-Poland war, which ends suddenly when Lithuania accepts a unilateral peace treaty before we have a chance to annex the provinces we conquer from Poland (something which wouldn’t have happened if I were in power). It seems characteristic of Mathias’s indolent nature that the only wars we get involved in are started by someone else – our brief conflict with the Turks is the result of a Venetian assault on Sivas.

    I am finally released from my incarceration thanks to the good offices of Archduke Ferdinand of Styria, Mathias’s cousin and closest male relative (as the Emperor himself is childless). I join Ferdinand’s household as his main adviser and await Mathias’s passing.

    Ferdinand II (22nd March 1619 – 15th February 1637): The New World

    Mathias finally outstays his welcome on this Earth in March 1619, and Ferdinand accedes to the Imperial dignity. Despite my return to the helm, I have to spend virtually the entire reign undoing the manifest damage wrought by Mathias – loans need to be issued afresh, and the military needs strengthening further. However, some advances are made – I reconquer our only colony, Stadacone in North America, from rebels in January 1625, and set about exploring as much of that continent as possible with a pair of conquistadors who suddenly and unexpectedly appear at court. Apart from that, it is another quiet reign, apart from the shock in April 1633 of the province of Austria turning Protestant! I move the Imperial court to Budapest and instruct our missionaries to get to work in Vienna.

    Ferdinand III (15th February 1637 – 1st July 1658): Colonisation & Expansion

    Ferdinand III succeeds his father as Emperor in 1637, and instructs me to continue with my exploration of North America, as he has heard rumours of a city of gold there. Well, we don’t find anything like that, but we do discover an area called California, containing a province which looks like it might harbour some gold reserves (Monterrey). We colonise this and the neighbouring province of Sacramento in April 1646.

    By then, our European alliance has changed a bit. In May 1642, we bring in Baden to replace Lithuania, and vassalise it in July of the following year. Vienna accepts Catholicism once again in January 1649, and the Pope himself comes to the city to consecrate its new Archbishop, replacing the old one who was brutally murdered by the heretics when they took over the city.

    While the Pope is in Vienna, I quietly mention to him that all this conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism isn’t really helping anyone, and urge him to consider issuing some sort of statement saying that marriages can take place between the two denominations. There is, of course, a political motive – I would like to annex Bohemia more firmly to the Austrian crown after more than a century of vassalisation, something which cannot be done as long as it remain Protestant and the Pope forbids marriage between the religions.

    Sure enough, Rome issues the Edict of Tolerance in August 1663, and we diplo-annex Bohemia that very same month. The Dutch, Badenese & Venetian ambassadors express their shock at the loss of one of our long-term allies, but I send them home, placated by large purses of gold in their pockets.

    Ferdinand is ailing by now, so I ensure I’m placed in charge of the education of his son & heir Leopold. Sure enough, the old Emperor dies in July 1658, having just heard news that a new centre of trade has opened in our colony of Monterrey.

    Ferdinand’s reign was less than spectacular, with the exception of the annexation of Bohemia, which leaves the vassal-state of Baden as the only remaining independent state in Germany (something I do not intend to allow to continue for long). This, combined with the tentative steps in foreign exploration and colonisation, surely places Austria as one of the leading world powers. That will be Ferdinand’s epitaph, and a fitting one at that.

  4. #4
    Leopold I (1st July 1658 – 7th May 1705): The Hammer of the Poles

    Leopold is a man very similar in nature to that great Austrian hero Rudolf II. Like Rudolf, Leopold has a passionate hatred of the treacherous Poles, and makes it clear that he sees it as his task to take the war from Germany into Poland itself.

    The immediate concern, however, is the rump of the Ottoman Empire. Venice leads the charge, declaring war in 2nd January 1660. In September, I raise some extra war taxation, even though we have played no active role in the war (nor do we intend to). Instead, the subsidy is diverted to the construction of a Royal Shipyard in Bremen, commenced in January 1661. At the same time, we take the entire contents of the Ottoman treasury in a peace treaty – Constantinople is in Venetian hands, and I figure that we’d better get at least something out of our moral support. News comes from America at broadly the same time that we have established our first city on the Pacific coast – Monterrey will provide us with a steady and extremely useful stream of gold.

    Just before Venice annexes the Ottoman Empire in January 1662, a bolt hits us straight out of left field. Aragon suddenly declares war on Venice, and we feel morally obliged to follow our long-standing allies into war yet again. Fortified with the news that Dobrudja, a province we took from Moldavia many, many years ago, has finally chosen to accept Catholicism after many failed attempts, I decide to participate actively in the Aragonese war. I send armies to the Baleares and to Malta, both of which fall in the early months of 1663. I then take the war to Aragon itself, and capture Béarn and Gerona in April and June 1664 respectively. Peace has to wait for 2 more years, however, as Aragon itself steadfastly refuses to fall. Finally, the Aragonese are forced to agree to peace, in which we take Gerona, the Baleares & Malta.

    The next 5 years are spent rebuilding our forces and putting down sporadic rebellions in our new lands. Troubling news reaches me in May 1669, when I hear that France, despite being crippled by numerous and more or less constant bankruptcies, which have served to rip her apart, has peacefully annexed the large trading nation of Genoa. I make a note to the effect that France will reap some serious consequences from her actions in the future.

    Leopold appoints 2 new Generals in January 1670; Archduke Ferdinand now heads our army in Bohemia, and General Waldeck takes command in Anhalt. Fortified by the arrival of these two gentlemen, Leopold informs me that he wishes to attack Poland.

    The Destruction of Poland, 1672 – 1675

    We launch our attack on 19th February 1672, as the Poles are busy fighting Lithuania on their Eastern border. The war starts exceptionally well, with the capture of Wielkopolska (April 26th), Ruthenia (June 25th), Krakow (July 29th) & Poznan (August 18th) before the Poles can even get their armies over from Lithuania. On 21st September, Ferdinand’s victorious army is marching out of Krakow when they are attacked by a larger Polish force led by their king, Jan Sobieski. Despite being surprised and outnumbered, Ferdinand nevertheless leads his forces to a crushing victory, completely annihilating the Polish army and incapacitating Sobieski to such a degree that he is never again able to command an army. Another Polish General meets his end at the hands of Ferdinand in Galizien on November 9th.

    By now, our siege expert, Count Montecuccoli, has made his way across Europe from Picardie, and the remaining Polish fortresses fall as if they were made of paper. He captures Podlasia (17th November) & Galizien (April 29th 1673), decimates the last Polish field army in Podolia before capturing the province on 8th November, a few days after Ferdinand captured Volyn. Podolia and Ukraina fall to Montecuccoli soon afterwards, and he is dispatched to Bremen to board ships bound for Iceland, the final Polish province not under our control. Iceland falls on December 7th.

    Peace finally comes on 23rd February 1675. A shattered Polish nation is forced to hand over Iceland, Poznan, Wielkopolska, Masovia, Podlasia & Volyn. Soon after, his work done, Montecuccoli succumbs to a wound received in battle.

    The League of Augsburg, 1676 – 1678

    No sooner is the Polish war over than French diplomatic errors give us a legitimate cause for war. We duly declare war on 2nd May 1676, having raised 130,000 men since February. The French, despite their posturing, are in no fit state to fight, with much inferior technology to Austria, and with half their European lands in the hands of rebels. Our armies therefore completely obliterate French forces, and capture Lombardia (September 7th), Provence (October 13th), Nivernais (November 17th) before the year is out.

    1677 follows the same pattern, as our forces continue their march to victory, taking Liguria (January 26th), Champagne (January 30th), Auvergne (February 4th), Guyenne (May 6th) & Roussilon (September 1st). The final straw for the French occurs when Corsica declare their independence on 1st January 1678, and negotiations begin for peace. France drives a hard bargain, and I am forced to settle for Lombardia, Liguria (Genoa) & Roussilon.

    The Subjugation of Provence, 1681 – 1684

    The dust has hardly settled from the French war when a diplomatic insult from Provence drives us into military conflict again. Our allies once again respond to our call, as do Provence’s (the Huguenots & England). This time, all is not quite so simple, as our first army is completely annihilated in Languedoc by Provence, and England starts making some gains in Eastern America. We hurriedly sign a white peace with London in February 1682, and concentrate our efforts on Provence. Languedoc finally falls after a heroic 2-year defence in May 1684, and Provence is annexed to Austria. The Huguenots quickly agree to a white peace, bringing this war to a swift conclusion. The following year, I note with satisfaction that our best land General yet has arrived, as Prince Eugen takes command in Picardie.

    The next 5 years are spent in peace, subjugating revolts in Poland, Italy, France & Spain, and continuing our expansion along the Pacific coast of America.

    The Hammer of the Poles, 1690 – 1692

    Despite our colonial and French adventures, Leopold’s main concern is still Poland. Noticing that they are building up their forces again, we declare war on 26th March 1690. They have no allies at this point; we don’t bother troubling ours. Another Polish General meets his death in battle in Podolia in April, but we are driven from the gates of Krakow in August. From then on, however, it’s back to business as usual, as we take Ruthenia (November 2nd), Galizien (3 days later), Podolia (December 16th) & Ukraina (February 1st 1691). Krakow is more stubborn, only falling on September 1st 1693. That same day, we make peace, grabbing the contents of the Polish exchequer, Ruthenia, Galizien, Podolia & Ukraina. Only Krakow is left now.

    On 20th September, we grant independence to Ukraina (which takes the name Ukraine), as I baulk at the cost and trouble involved with converting this orthodox province to Catholicism.

    Baden, the last independent German state, is diplo-annexed on 21st September 1693, with large cash gifts being sent out to the Netherlands and Venice to ease their worries at our expansion. There are yet more revolts throughout our new lands, as people gradually get used to the Austrian way of doing things. 1696 sees us joining very briefly Venice’s war with Asia Minor’s Karaman, but we get out with a white peace after less than a couple of months.

    Colonial Adventures, 1699 – 1700

    On 28th August 1699, I receive a strange message from the Huron tribe of North America. It’s written in a strange language, so I call in help from our translation team. They report they think it’s questioning the maternity of the Emperor, suggesting that his mother may have been a canine. They’re not entirely sure, but it’s enough for me, and I issue a declaration of war on the very same day. We don’t bother calling our allies, as I expect the campaign to be short.

    Sure enough, it is. In less than a year, we conquer the entire Huron territory. We make peace in February 1700, taking 550 gold, Oshawa, Ottawa & Hochelaga to add to our Eastern American possessions. Missionaries are immediately sent out to convert the pagans living in these province to the one true religion.

    The War of the Spanish Succession, 1700 – 1703

    On 6th December 1700, we receive news that Carlos II of Spain is ailing. He has designated a grandson of Louis XIV of France as his heir, but we are not going to sit back and allow France & Spain to unite. We therefore declare war on France that same day.

    Our generals once again comprehensively defeat the French. Prince Eugen takes Paris (27th February 1701) & Armor (19th July), von Mercy captures Nivernais (10th March) & Champagne (12th April), and Artois falls to von Traun. On 1st October, the French agree to peace, surrendering to us the vast majority of their colonial ‘empire’ – Nouakchott, Louaga, Senegal, Cap Verde, Wabana, Gaspésie, Luanda, Barbados, Bermuda, Winsk & Lobito. All are only trading posts, but provide us with some colonisation potential.

    Having dealt with France, I turn my attention to Spain, declaring war on 24th April 1702. Their alliance holds together, as the Papal States, Tuscany, the Knights, Lithuania & Brittany all join in the fun. We start the campaign by taking Jedisan from Lithuania (14th May), prompting the Knights & Tuscany to sign white peaces. Lithuania suffers again on 30th June, losing Bujak to our armies. Brittany drops out with a white peace, and we finally make a gain from Spain, grabbing Luxembourg on 5th July. In retaliation, the Spanish burn our trading posts in Barbados, Senegal, Nouakchott & Cap Verde, but this only serves to harden our resolve. In November and December, Lithuania lost 3 more provinces (Mozyr, Krementjug and Smolensk). Bourgogne falls after a protracted siege on 16th December.

    1703 sees the final action of the war, as we capture Lithuania, Franche-Comté & Lorraine. Spain cedes us Franche-Comté, Lorraine & Luxembourg on 3rd April, but we continue to fight against Lithuania. We capture Chernigov (1st May), Belgorod (14th June) & Poltava (27th July) before a treaty is signed. Lithuania is forced to recognise our control over Mozyr, Smolensk, Bujak, Jedisan & Krementjug.

    All good things must come to an end, and Leopold’s long reign is no exception. After nearly 4 decades of towering over European politics, the Emperor succumbs to the inevitable on 7th May 1705. His son Joseph succeeds to the Imperial honour. Leopold was a true colossus, and his deeds more than matched those of his idol, Rudolf II. Under his rule, Austria has completely destroyed Poland, now reduced to a rump state consisting of nothing but Krakow, twice humiliated France, recaptured most of the land lost to Spain as the result of Karl V’s treachery in 1556, and continued to build up her colonies throughout the world.

    Joseph I (7th May 1705 – 19th April 1711): Potential Unfulfilled

    Joseph is in the unfortunate position of following a true Austrian legend. One weakness of Leopold’s expansiveness was that the new territories have to be subjugated over a period of 30 years or more, during which revolts are invariably plentiful. Indeed, the first years of his reign are marked by many rebellions throughout our domains, which I put down with ease.

    Eager to emulate his father, Joseph declares war on France on 16th February 1707. Her allies are quickly knocked out of the conflict, and our generals again find the French fortresses easy to conquer. The war lasts less than a year, and on 7th December, France grants us Nivernais, Auvergne, Guantanamo, Okosh, Nipissing & Biloxi. Joseph is overjoyed, convinced that he can emulate his father’s successes.

    It is therefore left to me to subdue rebellions in these new provinces, a task aided by the conversion of the former Huron lands of Ottawa and Oshawa to Catholicism in March and April 1709.

    On 6th August 1710, his eye on the province of Prussia, Joseph unilaterally declares war on Courland. Had he conferred with me beforehand, I could have told him that it was under the control of Lithuania at the time, meaning we had no hope of gaining it. However, the French are allied to Courland, and are the only one of their allies to join in the war, so we find ourselves at the gates of Paris for the third time in a decade. It falls on 15th September, followed rapidly by Artois, Champagne & Armor. Against my advice, Joseph joins Prince Eugen’s army as it marches from Armor to Moribhan, but the Emperor succumbs to a bout of dysentery on the march, and dies on 19th April 1711.

    News of Joseph’s death comes to me as I’m in Paris with his brother and heir Karl. Still very young when he died, Joseph showed that he was as headstrong as his father, perhaps more so. Despite its short duration, his reign saw a further increase in Austrian power, and another humiliation for France. When we make peace in this war, I will ensure it is dedicated to Joseph’s memory.

  5. #5
    Apologies for the length of all that, but this AAR is one I've been posting on another forum for a week or so. The game is still ongoing, and updates will appear here (assuming they're wanted, of course) when I write them.

  6. #6
    Holstein's Envoy in Vienna Syt's Avatar
    200k clubCrusader Kings IIDeus VultDivine WindFor the Motherland
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    Vienna, Austria.
    On 28th August 1699, I receive a strange message from the Huron tribe of North America. It’s written in a strange language, so I call in help from our translation team. They report they think it’s questioning the maternity of the Emperor, suggesting that his mother may have been a canine. They’re not entirely sure, but it’s enough for me, and I issue a declaration of war on the very same day. We don’t bother calling our allies, as I expect the campaign to be short.
    *falls off the chair, laughing*

    Great writing - at longer periods of time I find it often difficult to keep a steady pace - not too detailed but not omitting anything important. You seem to catch it just right.
    One strikeout is a tragedy; a million strikeouts a statistic.

  7. #7
    Enemy of Reality Carolus Rex's Avatar
    Crusader Kings IIDiplomacyEU3 CompleteDivine WindHeir to the Throne
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    Great AAR, among the best I have seen!
    I love the frames you have for the pics, not to mention how succesful you are in the game itself.

    Keep it coming.
    To the game you stay a slave

  8. #8
    Knight of the coffee table Zaan's Avatar
    Divine WindHeir to the ThroneCrusader Kings II: CharlemagneCrusader Kings II: Way of Life

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Warsaw, the one in Poland
    From an aristic point of view - flawless. Great job on the writing
    Just a setback that it was yeat another world domination game. Still this is great AAR.

  9. #9
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
    Crusader Kings IIDeus VultEuropa Universalis 3Europa Universalis: ChroniclesEuropa Universalis III: In Nomine
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    Mississauga, Eh!
    Very well written. Gotta love those frames! That's quite a lot of snow covering Europe
    Current AAR: The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: In the Shadow of the Great Old Ones

    Follow the link to read The Pariah. For more Lovecraft style horror, try The Crane Horror and my Holmes/Lovecraft story The Case of the Galloway Eidolon. All are free to read in the Lovecraft eZine.

    Available: The Saglek Incident in the anthology Sha'Daa: Pawns and Witiko in the anthology Bigfoot Terror Tales: Vol 1

    Also: Plains of Hell in the anthology Lawyers in Hell & Colony in the anthology Rogues in Hell, continuing the HUGO award winning Heroes in Hell series, edited by Janet Morris

    For a complete list of my AARs go to The Ink Well. Visit my Website for news, reviews and story excerpts.

  10. #10
    Defender of Denmark The Danish King's Avatar
    Crusader Kings IIVictoria 2Europa Universalis IV

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    Mar 2001
    The Kingdom of Denmark
    Yeah, good AAR/game style!
    Give us Skåne, Norway, Holstein, Iceland, Normandy, England, Estonia, Gotland, Eireland, Finland, the Scottish Isles, Kingdom of Jerusalem, Helgoland, Rockall, Newfoundland, Labrador and the U.S. Virgin Islands back!

  11. #11
    Its here too!!

  12. #12

    Time for another exciting installment (or not)

    Karl VI (19th April 1711 – 22nd October 1740): Peace at Last

    As I write this, Karl’s funeral ceremony is happening in the cathedral in Vienna. His reign began in the turmoil of war and ended in the glory of peace. Joseph’s war with France was rapidly brought to an end in June 1711, with Karl adding Champagne, Artois and Milwaukee to his domains.

    After that little bit of excitement, Karl wisely saw that our nation was calling out for peace after 30 years of almost constant war. He avoided armed conflict for the remainder of his reign, preferring instead to look to domestic policies, and consolidating his our hold on our new provinces. Ruthenia turned Catholic in June 1714, and Hochelaga also saw the light (September 1728).

    Our alliance with the Dutch and Venice was further strengthened by the addition of Ukraine (November 1715) and Lithuania (January 1733). The latter was subsequently vassalised the following year, leaving open the prospect that we might diplo-annex it at our leisure.

    Our colonisation programme continued apace, with trading posts being established throughout much of the rest of North America. With the wealth flooding in from this expansion, Karl ordered me in the penultimate year of his reign to oversee the construction of a new palace just outside Vienna. Sadly, he did not live to see its completion (it is still a work in progress), but his heirs will be able to enjoy it in perpetuity.

    Just because Vienna was at peace did not mean the rest of Europe saw fit to follow suit, of course. January 1727 saw the Ottomans resurfacing in Konya, as that province broke away from Russian hegemony. Their independence did not last long however, as the province was reconquered the following year. England diplo-annexed the Huguenot nation in March 1733, thereby increasing their influence in France still further. Finally, news arrived from Madrid in February 1737 that Spain had descended into civil war – hardly surprising with a Bourbon on the throne!
    Austria AAR (for those with plenty of time on their hands)
    If you fancy something a little shorter, then why not try A Century of Aragonce instead

  13. #13
    Wow, great aar! I agree that the only drawback is how easy the conquest has been for you. I was very surprised about that after the way you started, with your peaceful policies and loan granting. Great writing though. Just one question: how old is the soothsayer?

  14. #14
    Originally posted by Sharur
    Wow, great aar! I agree that the only drawback is how easy the conquest has been for you. I was very surprised about that after the way you started, with your peaceful policies and loan granting. Great writing though. Just one question: how old is the soothsayer?
    I actually intended to play a peaceful, diplomatic game. The wars I've fought started out being more or less forced upon me in my desire to regain my rightful burgindian lands, and just kinda evolved from there. The game's now finished through to 1819 (completed AAR will be up later today) and, despite my expansion, I never DOWd without a legitimate CB.

    I would agree with the ease of the game though (this was played on Normal\Agressive). I think part of the problem might have been down to the fact that France, who could have been an extremely potent enemy, was completely smashed by 1600. She ended the game with a grand total of 3 provinces, 1 TP, and over 7000% inflation (mainly due to more or less continual bankruptcies from about 1600 onwards). Her land tech never even advanced past 16 . Poland wasn't much more of an enemy, as her land tech was way down too (and only caught up after I reduced her to only 1 province).

    As for the soothsayer - well, perhaps he's found the secret of eternal life .

    For my next AAR, I was thinking of doing either the Byzantines, or playing as England and uniting the British Isles (peacefully, if possible) whilst not gaining any land on the Continent (any such gains would be vassalised immediately), trying instead to ensure no one nation becomes predominant, thereby preserving the European balance of power. My preference would be for the England\prevervation of BoP option, but does anyone have any strong preference for Byzantium?
    Austria AAR (for those with plenty of time on their hands)
    If you fancy something a little shorter, then why not try A Century of Aragonce instead

  15. #15

    All things must come to an end...

    Maria Theresa (22nd October 1740 – 30th November 1780): Scalping

    After Karl’s death, there is some degree of debate over who the next monarch should be. The candidates are Karl’s daughter Maria Theresa & her husband Francis of Lorraine. Having educated Maria in the ways of the world for many years, I naturally put my support 100% behind her. I’m not sure I trust Francis – Lorraine has only been Austrian for 40 years, and there are still strong pro-French sympathies in the Ducal family. My support swings the great majority of the Austrian nobility behind Maria, and I even persuade them to create the title Holy Roman Empress especially for her.

    The first years of her reign are spent in peace, until news reaches me in May 1745 that the Cherokee tribe of North America has diplo-annexed the neighbouring Shawnee. This sudden shift in the balance of power close to our colonies given me serious cause for concern (i.e. a strictly legitimate, though ultimately rather dubious causus belli). I exercise it immediately. The Cherokee’s allies, Creek and Dakota, join in.

    It takes a few months for me to recruit some troops to fight for us, but soon we are on the warpath. The enemy cities are hardly fortified at all, and the wooden stockades they use are easily overrun, even by green troops. By the end of 1746, all enemy provinces are under our control.

    We sign 3 separate peace treaties on 2nd January 1747. In our agreement with Creek, we get Savannah and a healthy stipend; they get the rare opportunity to become Catholic (lucky people). Dakota cedes us Iowa, Mesabi, Duluth & the contents of their treasury. The biggest loser, however, is Cherokee. They are forced to give up the provinces of Onandaga, Tuscarora, Shenandoah, Erie, Irondekoit, Kentucky, Tennessee, Hindua & Miamis. Each tribe is only allowed to retain 1 province; their capital. I send missionaries to convert our new pagan provinces to Catholicism.

    The fruits of our conversion policy are seen over the next 20 years, as the vast majority of our pagan provinces see the light and convert. The appointment of Kaunitz to a ministerial post in January 1753 makes me nervous, so I appoint him to head up a missionary program within our realm. Kaunitz is only moderately successful, however, as only Danzig, Sudeten, Mecklenburg & Anhalt convert during Maria’s reign.

    Other news with regard to domestic policy is the increasing influence of Maria’s son & heir Joseph. I’m rather worried about him, as he seems to be getting interested in this Enlightenment thing coming out of France. I think it’ll all end in bloodshed, and gain quite a success in 1770 when I persuade Joseph to make some decidedly anti-Enlightenment reforms, bolstering the traditional virtues of aristocracy, serfdom & mercantilism. He does, however, score a rather painful victory 7 years later when he persuades me, against my better judgement, to abolish serfdom. I point out that, as people have more time to think and spend less time tilling the land, this will make our country harder to control. He doesn’t listen, however, and mentions some rubbish about improved production and trade efficiency. Idiot.

    In foreign affairs, we take a back seat after our American adventures. Russia continues her eastward expansion at the expense of Nogai, but that doesn’t concern me a huge amount. England collapses in on itself in March 1762 as the House of Stuart (which is still on the English throne, against all expectations) proves to outdo itself in the “inability to rule” department. As a result, the US declares independence from England in April 1764, thereby giving a forewarning of the sort of idiocy these “enlightened” ideas can cause.

    Joseph II (30th November 1780 – 20th February 1790): Vive la Revolution!

    The death of Maria brings her son Joseph to the Austrian and Imperial thrones. His early flirtation with the Enlightenment seems to be over by the time of his accession, much to the relief of myself and Austria’s other vested interests which the new ideas threatened to destroy.

    Domestically, his short reign is peaceful. The final pagan province in America is finally converted, after several failed attempts, in April 1783, and Mainz follows suit in June. Music flourishes in Vienna, with two chaps called Mozart and Beethoven bursting onto the scene. Their kind of music isn’t really my thing, but they seem to be rather popular. Oh well, they’ll be forgotten within a century.

    Foreign affairs are likewise uneventful. France succumbs to the Enlightenment in 1789, but I don’t think this will have a great effect on Europe. France is only a tiny nation, with 3 provinces, each quite a distance away from another, and 7000% inflation thanks to more or less constant bankruptcies between 1600 and 1750. Nevertheless, I move my troops nearer to Paris, just in case.

    Joseph panics, however, and unilaterally decides in October 1789 to submit to some of the ideas of the Revolution. I am incandescent when I find out, as are most of the aristocracy, as it will be our job to put down the revolts which will inevitably follow. Joseph dies soon after, and I can assure you that his death is not entirely down to chance, illness or old age. I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.

    Leopold II (20th February 1790 – 3rd March 1792): Eww…

    Joseph died without issue, so his brother follows him onto the Austrian throne. A complete idiot who is unable to put his shirt on unaided, let alone run a country, Leopold’s reign is thankfully short (something I make sure of). He even fails to be elected as Holy Roman Emperor, despite being the only person eligible to vote and there only being two names on the ballot paper. He had a 50/50 chance, and voted for Carlos IV of Spain (another simpleton).

    I confine the moron to his quarters for the entirety of his reign, keeping him happy with magicians, jugglers & religious lectures by Jesuits from the University of Vienna. I take effective control over the country, and find myself putting down yet more rebellions by “enlightened” people who got entirely the wrong idea when Joseph pushed through his reforms. They obviously thought that I gave a damn. Big mistake, I think, as I sign some more death warrants.

    The Revolution in France continues to degenerate, as the king (yet another imbecile – this truly is the Age of Idiocy) manages to get his head surgically removed, along with many of the members of the high aristocracy. I look on with some degree of amusement, consoling myself once again with the thought that, in the grand scheme of things, France carries about as much weight as a small vole. On a diet.

    Franz II (3rd March 1792 onwards): Sense at Last!

    Leopold’s son Franz II is a man more suited to kingship than either his father or his uncle, as he is much more willing to heed my advice, and has no time for all this “enlightenment” rubbish. He orders that a programme of conversion should be undertaking in our Empire, a job I hand over to an eager young thing called Metternich, who joins the Imperial service in January 1800. He seems rather annoyed at this, and claims that he should be Chief Minister, but I quietly shoo him away to the Department for the Enforcement of Religious Conformity.

    In 1804, I receive news that the new ruler of France, some fat chap called Napoleon, has proclaimed the French Empire. I treat this new entity with the derision it truly deserves. 2 years later, Carlos IV of Spain dies. Franz votes the correct way in the ensuing Imperial election, and the title passes once again into Austrian hands.

    1810 sees our first participation in a European war for nearly a century, as we follow Venice’s lead and declare war on the Pope. My heart isn’t in it though, and we make peace for cash in November 1811 after we capture the province of Romagna.

    Imperial Press Release, 1st January 1820

    His Great Imperial Majesty Franz II of Austria notes with sadness the death this morning of long-time Reichskanzler Mathias der Löwe. The circumstances of his passing are as yet not certain, but it is believed that he accidentally brutally cut his own head off whilst shaving. Two Imperial soldiers who quite fortuitously happened to be in his quarters at the time found his body at his desk.

    Prince von Metternich, the Minister for the Enforcement of Religious Conformity, has been appointed temporary Reichskanzler. A final decision on Mathias’s successor is expected within a few of weeks, after all appropriate candidates have been interviewed. Prince Metternich expresses his sorrow at the entirely unexpected death of the previous incumbent, and says he very much looks forward to serving His Majesty for may years to come providing, of course, that he is the most suitable candidate.
    Austria AAR (for those with plenty of time on their hands)
    If you fancy something a little shorter, then why not try A Century of Aragonce instead

  16. #16
    There ends this particular AAR. Screenshots of the extent of the Austrian Empire in 1820 will follow later today. In case anyone's interested, here are the final standings:[list=1][*]Austria - 8164 VP[*]Russia - 2708 VP[*]Spain - 2362 VP[*]England - 1836 VP[*]China - 1829 VP[/list=1]
    Austria AAR (for those with plenty of time on their hands)
    If you fancy something a little shorter, then why not try A Century of Aragonce instead

  17. #17
    The Father of AARland Lord Durham's Avatar
    Crusader Kings IIDeus VultEuropa Universalis 3Europa Universalis: ChroniclesEuropa Universalis III: In Nomine
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    Mississauga, Eh!
    Recky posted:
    I confine the moron to his quarters for the entirety of his reign, keeping him happy with magicians, jugglers & religious lectures by Jesuits from the University of Vienna. I take effective control over the country, and find myself putting down yet more rebellions by ?enlightened? people who got entirely the wrong idea when Joseph pushed through his reforms. They obviously thought that I gave a damn. Big mistake, I think, as I sign some more death warrants.
    Sweet! This is my kind of guy!

    This AAR is truly awesome! Congrats on completing it.

    I'll be starting a link page in the near furture for completed AARs so it won't fade away into oblivion. Well done.
    Current AAR: The Sons of Ragnar Lodbrok: In the Shadow of the Great Old Ones

    Follow the link to read The Pariah. For more Lovecraft style horror, try The Crane Horror and my Holmes/Lovecraft story The Case of the Galloway Eidolon. All are free to read in the Lovecraft eZine.

    Available: The Saglek Incident in the anthology Sha'Daa: Pawns and Witiko in the anthology Bigfoot Terror Tales: Vol 1

    Also: Plains of Hell in the anthology Lawyers in Hell & Colony in the anthology Rogues in Hell, continuing the HUGO award winning Heroes in Hell series, edited by Janet Morris

    For a complete list of my AARs go to The Ink Well. Visit my Website for news, reviews and story excerpts.

  18. #18
    Thanks LD, glad you enjoyed it .
    Austria AAR (for those with plenty of time on their hands)
    If you fancy something a little shorter, then why not try A Century of Aragonce instead

  19. #19
    Enemy of Reality Carolus Rex's Avatar
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    I enjoyed it as well.

    Say, you wouldn't mind putting up those last screenies so we could see the might of Austria?
    To the game you stay a slave

  20. #20
    Of course, Carolus (pics might take a while to appear):

    A downloadable version of this can be found here (zipped Word .doc; 1.2MB).
    Austria AAR (for those with plenty of time on their hands)
    If you fancy something a little shorter, then why not try A Century of Aragonce instead

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