ComradeOm: If I were doing the Year's Edudation again, I would probably be tempted to meander as much as I am now for Rus to Russia, and sometimes I am tempted to return to CK to do just that. I am, however, infinitely grateful for your continued support, readership, and commenting in the EU3 section.
What's this, RGB? Why, It's a map.
Introducing the AtlAARs
After some consideration I have finally made up my mind, got some courage, and made a map. It's not the world's most polished, nor does it have much to do directly with the game of Europa Universalis. However, it is a fairly accurate map by AAR standards, and pretty useful in its detail and relative accuracy even on the internet in general. Or perhaps would be, if it wasn't alternate history, which it is.
Why is this not just like the maps I include with every update? Well, because it's the first map of the Atlas - a detailed overview of important locations in 14th and 15th c. on the territory of future Russia. So why does the detail matter?
I'd like to say that details tell a story. Not only will you be able to find with great certainty where something is if it turns up in the story, but one can tell, usually at a glance, why the place is important. I will also often link back to the Atlas entries instead of redrawing certain maps so I can concentrate on other ones.
Secondly, the names tell, to those curious, much more eloquently than I have space for, their immediate history. They name the rivers they stand on, the people who founded them - some of whom you can find in Part I of the story - and sometimes, just where their first settlers came from - naming it after their home town or named by outsiders after their tribe, or perhaps named by the colonising Slavs or Tatars after the Balts and the Finno-Ugric people they displaced and assimilated.
Thirdly, the place names are also character names; in real Russia's history the area in the first map and just beyond its edges produced many princely families who attained prominence in Lithuania or Moscow, whose last names bear the names of their former fiefs: Vorotynsky, Belskiy, Baryatynskiy, Belyovsky, Kashirin, Skopin, Shuisky, Mosalskiy, Odoyevsky, Novosilskiy, Obolenskiy, Mezetskiy, Palitskiy, Shatskiy, Mstislavkiy, Miloslavskiy, Myshkin, Trubetzkoy, Volkhonskiy, Galitzin; some princely side branches or boyar families instead took on the nicknames of their ancestors; but then themselves left their mark on the map - Gagarin, Serebryaniy, Koltsov, Pozharskiy, Repnin, Odintsov, Gorbachev.
In my story, Prince Andrey also bears the name of his udel that he holds from the Khan - Bogorodskiy. These names are important.
CLICK FOR FULL SIZE
The washerwoman works all day
Her husband is for vodka gone,
The little curly-bearded dog
Sits upon the porch alone
The whole day it stares around
With its clever little eyes
And whines a bit outside the house
When it hears that someone cries
And who has cause to cry today
In this town Tarusa?
There’s one who wants to cry all day
Wretchθd girl Marusya
She is sick to almost death
Of the hens and of the geese
How they strut around the town
Oh so many, Holy Geez!
“But had I those flying feathers
And I had those beating wings
I would fly right through the door
Into spear grass myself fling,
So I would not have to be
Forever more a-looking
So the cockerels and the geese
Cease honking and clucking!
Oh what trial is Tarusa
For the girl Marusya -
Nothing but the hens and geese,
What a living , Holy Geez!
- Nikolai Zabolotsky
This is a poem - badly translated by myself, it's really much better in the original - about Tarusa, the seat of one of the Upper Oka (Verkhovye) principalities. The Oka, the Opolye that lies between it and the Volga, and the Zalesye that straddles Volga's both sides, would in most other Russia-themed games be the centre of the story.
It is a very underappreciated region; it usually gets lost, swallowed by the few mega-provinces that occupy the area in Paradox games, reducing the complexity of the region to almost nothing. Yet by rights, it should be as grimly romantic as any medieval heartland and the marches bordering it. It is there that Russia's civilisation retreated; at first shaken badly by the waves of Oghuz, Pechenegs and Cumans, the great Dniepr principalities eventually beat the nomads and turned them into allies. They could not, however, beat the Mongols.
The area on the map suffered along with the rest of Rus. Of the 40-odd towns and cities in the area, less than ten remained unburnt. Many were ruined more than once in successive punitive expeditions. Some were destroyed in the internecine warfare of the princes, who, emerging after a hundred years of spotty chronicle keeping, are to be found once again in control of their ancestral lands - though obviously not every town was lucky enough to gain a second chance at life.
Nor, though you may see many parallelisms on this map, were the towns arising in the are pre-destined to become important. Moscow was a small place, and although well positioned, its road to dominance was rocky; so was Tver. The centre of the Zalesye was Pereyaslavl. This map brims with possibilities of different futures; some will end up like modern Vladimir or Ryazan, some like poor Tarusa, only attractive to poets seeking quaint village life, and some might become world capitals like Moscow did.
The feudal wars of the 1200s and 1300s are themselves worthy of several AARs (and if anyone has seen the film Andrei Rublev, this is exactly the setting) and the towns' dogged resistance behind the forests and the ever-tightening, ever strengthening walls of the abatis lines and the border forts and the military free settlements that eventually overcame the greatest nomad empire to ever exist, pushed back beyond the Don, and in the end colonised the steppes is at least as dramatic as real-life Reconquista of Spain.
Yet this is not the story I am telling; mine is a story of glory preserved, rather than reborn, of legacies absorbed and continued, rather than reinvented. It's a different story than it would have been had I been starting in any of the towns on this map - but perhaps the map can tell some of the story that I will not.
Regular update scheduled for this weekend.