My brother, my king. Polish AAR.
Boleslaw Piast wasn't a clever man but he was old. More than that he was a king. His 40th birthday saw people from distant corners of the world coming to Krakow. It wasn't long ago that these people would never have dreamt of kneeling before the King of Poland. Yet today they did. Speech by speech the admiration started to morph into something real and simple prestige would turn into power. The Piasts would rule Poland for centuries, and yet in 1082 it seemed as if all there was to the dynasty was a feeble old man with matching socks. What had Boleslaw done with his time? Few knew and even fewer asked the question. What had time done with Boleslaw? Now that is a story worth telling.
Born to the world in the 1042nd year of our lord, destined to be the king, he had spent his time learning from his father. Strictly religious and with the country poised by the threat of the pagans beyond the borders, his father had him sent to the military. Filled with false ideals of honour and justice, Boleslaw would take to the throne with courage in his heart and blindness in his eyes at the age of just 24. His brother Wladyslaw viewed him with contempt and there were only a few who saw any potential in the young king. Both the nobles and the clergy saw the younger brother as far more reasonable, far more controllable for the good of the people, or parts of it at any rate.
The split between the two brothers has been dramatized out of proportion in history writing. Many believe that Wladyslaw the deceitful was after the throne. Yet, infact, it was he who in reality controlled Poland. Boleslaw had been brought up to trust his family, a grave mistake, by his father. It was in 1074 that the Prussians attacked without a warning, summoning his troops Boleslaw marched out to meet the threat. Wladyslaw would refuse any and all of his troops to support the Polish effort. Boleslaw dind't lose heart, in fact he thought that a victory with fewer troops might improve his status. Newly wed and eager to conceive babies, the king spent less time riding at the front than at home. Still, disorganized and disheartened by the sheer number of opposition, the Pagans quickly surrendered. Boleslaw wasn't sure how to deal with victory. His father had taught him to fear and hate the pagans, but how to deal with them once they lay down their arms and lives at your feet was another thing altogether. The Archbishop of Kuyavia, Stanislaw, demanded that all Pagans be burned and the lands donated to crusaders and settlers. Wladyslaw at the time wished those lands to become his. Unsure what to do the young king consulted his wife. It would be the first, but certainly not the last time, that Queen Scholastyka would step in. Demands left and right were met by denial, instead the lands would remain with the family.
The son of Boleslaw, Zbyszko, was appointed the duke of Prussia, with her sisters gaining the surrounding counties. With the lot of them being under age at the time, rumours started to circulate on who truly was in control. In an attempt to undermine the authority of Boleslaw, probably led by Wladyslaw, it was told that the Queen had stepped in to save her fellow pagans. Scholastyka was a Polish Catholic but coming from a relatively poor family, she would continue to be targetted by these false claims till the end of her days. In 1076 in a feeble attempt to seize power Stanislaw the Archbishop of Kuyavia would demand the king to give up his throne in favor of his brother. The king would not act and neither would his brother. The Archbishop was in no position to force through his desires and all that his words would do, was to start a feud that would last until the end of his life.
The war on the Pagans would continue, as the tribes bordering the Baltic would one after the other attack the Polish lands. After the fall of Pommeralia which was given to the second son of the king, also Boleslaw, the chiefdom of Werle would plea to the Polish for support in their fight against the tribe of Mecklemburg. Unsure whether or not to engage in the war, as the lands had been claimed by the king of Germany, Boleslaw would again consult her wife. As a result the rumours circulating the royal family would again rise. Opting to engage in the war, with hopes of destroying the Western Pagans once and for all, Boleslaw quickly learned that the kings of Denmark and Germany would not look favourably upon the annexation of these lands into Poland. Yet at the time neither Germany or Denmark could act upon their threats. Denmark, having been beaten in a war against the pagans losing Holstein and more importantly Norway gaining Lübeck, and Germany fighting internal revolts. With their armies out of order and treasuries emptied, the kings of Europe turned to other means of curbing the expansion of Poland. In 1078 it was decided that the archbishop of Kuyiva, a fierce rival of the King of Poland, would become the next Pope. The lands of the Archbishop, as a final insult to the king, would be turned over to Wladyslaw. The king, of course, could have overruled this, but seeing his brother with five sons, decided to act upon the advice of his father and trust his kin. Even with the acquisitions of the duchies of Prussia and Pommeralia, the armies of Wladyslaw were now more numerous by far. This further convinced Boleslaw to conquer Mecklemburg.
By the time the Polish armies reached the Oder river, Werle had fallen as had many of the Pagans. Mecklemburg would crumble at the feet of Boleslaw, with parts of it given to his son, ruler of Pommeralia and now Pommerania as well. Boleslaw the younger had grown to be an ambitious character and it was not something to be overlooked. It seemed as if Zbyszko, like his father, would have to share the throne with a brother. The king, now old, had granted Pommerania to his second son to turn his interest into subduing Pagans and serving the country, instead Boleslaw was to turn his ambition against his brother and cousins, and even on Germany. The king, disheartened by the moral character of his nine-year-old, would never suspect his own brother in poisoning the mind of young Boleslaw, so strongly did he remember the words of his father. His wife, on the other hand, would not be fooled. The last act of the young king therefore just hours before turning forty was to form an alliance with Hungary, with the paragraphs clearly stating that the allegiance was to Zbyszko, now 11, after the death of his father.
Such was the story of young Boleslaw, now old, bitter and afraid. Had he only been challenged by the Pope, the most powerful courts of Europe and, to the East, numerous Pagans, the situation would not have been intolerable. But to be challenged by his own kin, not only his brother, but his son aswell, and to rely on the Hungarians for protection, was something that he could never forgive himself, nor would his father. The thoughts that surrounded Boleslaw on that day must have been crushing. The most eloquant speeches and the most wonderous presents were of no comfort to a man who had lost everything. Boleslaw was never to be the same again. The king is dead, long live the king.
Last edited by Fluffammable; 15-03-2009 at 11:52.
Black Hound of Han
Poland, quite easy to go conquering into any direction.
True that. I haven't played CK in years, though, so I'm hoping that the two will balance each other out.
Originally Posted by Enewald
Warden of the Cinque Ports
Wow. That situation doesn't look good.
Sometimes things do not go as planned, sometimes they go exactly as planned and on a rare occasion they go exactly unplanned. This is the story of King Boleslaw's succession.
In 1083 it became painfully obvious to Boleslaw the he had no friends in Europe. On his 40th birthday he had been a celebrated hero, on his 41st it seemed as if the whole world would turn against him. Not only did the king of Norway falsify claims to the throne of Poland but he made it clear that Poland would have no friends in the North. Norway at the time was something of a power to be reckoned with. Their latest acquisitions at the expense of the Swedish made them feared and respected throughout Europe. More importantly they were, mainly because of the Pope's position, given claims on the very Pagan lands that the Polish considered their own. Regardless, Boleslaw granted his heir apparent Mecklemburg. The diplomatical failure to make him recoqnised as the duke of Mecklemburg, rather than the count of individual parts of the land was a devastating blow to the king. The tribe of Mecklemburg, hiding behind Norwegian Lübeck was told to have a legitimate claim on the lands. So low would the Pope and fellow catholics stoop just to attack Polish interests. A Pagan tribe on catholic lands, protected by the greatest powers of Christendom. Boleslaw would not forget the insult, nor would he forgive.
By 1084 the prestige lost abroad would stir internal troubles for the king. The count of Kujawy, a bastard son of Wladyslaw, would revolt against the rule of his father. Boleslaw was not sure at first whether to welcome the revolt and attack Wladyslaw, but with the words of his father still blinding him, he chose to support Wladyslaw, much to the dismay of Queen Scholastyka who had for long campaigned for her husband to take a stronger stance against his brother. However with the king of Hungary head deep in troubles at home and the loyalty of the Polish army mixed, the king decided not to risk civil war. Instead the 16-year-old revolter was put down and sent back home. He was never to rule again. The scenario had humbled Wladyslaw, or so it seemed. The decision of Wladyslaw to grant his bastard son a county of his own and at the age of just 16, had been questioned at the time and seeing how just months afterwards the boy would try and take on his father, many of the followers of Wladyslaw would alienate. Ridiculed, Wladyslaw could no longer afford his passive stance. On the 16th of May in 1084, Wladyslaw the duke of Mazovia would summon his most loyal lords and ride South, leaving his loving wife a note stating simply, "Alea iacta est".
Boleslaw, unaware of his brother, famously stated upon his return from Kujawy, that war had been avoided and that common sense had triumphed over ambition. By August the king would learn that his brother had other plans, as the armies of Mazovia and Kuyavia approached Krakow. Ordering the mobilization of his troops, the king rode out to meet his brother. Finally disillusioned, Boleslaw ordered his brother to stand down. "How will your armies take on those of Germany and Scandinavia?", Wladyslaw is said to have remarked on the occasion. Little did he know that politics, as ever so often, had shifted following his inability to deal with his revolting son. The powers of Europe no longer had faith in Wladyslaw Piast. It can be said that they now put their money on Boleslaw. How true that statement is, you shall later see.
The first few weeks of the war, Wladyslaw would attack the heart of Poland wishing to win a spectacular victory allowing him to claim the crown. The pieces of the puzzle began finally to fall in place. He had the Pope on his side, he controlled the most populous regions of Poland and commanded the largest army. The Countess of Opole was the first to accept him as her sovereign. Poland was in flames, the Piast family split into two camps and there was little that Boleslaw could do. Afraid of creating even more enemies the king decided not to call upon his vassals for more troops, not even his sons, as he felt that he could no longer trust anyone, and inevitably calling upon one of the sons might lead to the other taking the side of their uncle.
By autumn the royal armies, reinforced by the Hungarians, defeated the threat of invasion and turned on offensive. Wladyslaw, disheartened by the failure of Boleslaw junior to join the war effort, marched North against the duchy of Prussia that had entered the war out of their own decision. The king warned Zbyszko, however, not to engage the enemy unless absolutely necessary, as his brother was not to be trusted. Opole fell by Winter and the countess was forced to renew her oath to the true king of Poland. Boleslaw would then enter Mazovia, where Wladyslaw had created counties, or duchies as he called them, for his sons. The king would meet his brother one last time in the field of battle in Plock. A crushing defeat to a mixed Polish-Hungarian army three times the size of his was more than enough to convince Wladyslaw to give up the struggle. He would, however refuse the demands of his brother. Wladyslaw spent the next year in a royal prison in Krakow contemplating on his position.
With the duke absent, the counts of Mazovia and Kuyiva began to fight amongst themselves. Like father, like sons, it seemed. Throughout 1085 Polish armies would fight each other. The only real border change was the countess of Opole gaining Czersk, thus extending the borders of royal demesne at the expense of Wladyslaw. In 1086, the situation settled down and Wladyslaw was allowed to return to his duchy. At the time the release of Boleslaw's brother created something of an uproar, especially Scholastyka was astounished by the weakness displayed. Still, the king had no reason not to, as the entire scenario had only shown the weakness of the opposition against his rule. His father, though, had now completely left his reasoning.
In 1086 a window of opportunity opened in the East allowing the king to fabricate somewhat believable claims on the principalities of Galich, Vitebsk, Polotsk and Novgorod. Orthodoxy had entered the courts of Poland and the king, not really a religious man as such, had welcomed it. Meanwhile in Hungary a civil war had broken out and the armies of Poland would march South to help an ally, whose aid in fighting Wladyslaw's rebellion had not been forgotten. The county of Nitra would swear allegiance to the king of Poland before the end of the war, an event that would later damage the relations between the two kingdoms. In 1088 with the war still raging in Hungary, kingdom of Bohemia would be declared independent of Germany. A new neighbour with mixed agendas, the king stated without ever giving the whole thing much thought. By 1089 the war in Hungary was all but over and the Polish armies could finally enforce the words of Polish diplomats. Principality of Galich, also of Novgorod (Though in name only), would bow before the king of Poland. The borders moved East considerably.
Finally in 1093 Stanislaw the Pope would die and remove a vital proponent for the instability of the realm. One by one the former enemies of Poland would re-establish diplomacy and acknowledge Boleslaw as the true king of Poland. The Norwegians were fighting internal strifes, with Lübeck amongst other counties declaring independent. With the regained stability and prestige Boleslaw got bold, but even bolder was his son Boleslaw junior. Just moments after Lübeck gained it's independence, the Duke of Pommerania and Pommeralia announced his intensions of forcibly annexing those lands into his. There was little that the king could do to stop him. The situation, however, enabled the king to march his armies into Holstein and demand the Pagan king to renounce his claims on Mecklemburg and turn the title over to his loyal son, Zbyszko. The actual province of Holstein along with the newly claimed duchy title for the adjanced provinces were given to the old and trustworthy Archbishop of Greater Poland. The king hoped that joint administration between the old man of the cloth and his overly ambitious son might save what was left of young Boleslaw.
In 1097 the new vassals in the East came under attack by the Lithuanians. The tribe would be destroyed, as Poland had finally ran out of enemies. Marching against the threat of the East, Boleslaw was astounished by how his vassals, his brother, his sons and his nephews would march side by side against a common foe. After years of struggle he had now accomplished everything he had hoped for, complete sovereignty over his brother and the loyalty of his vassals. Wars, however, rarely come without casualties and this one was no different. At the final stages of the war in 1098, with the all but destroyed enemy armies engaging in their final battle on the fields of Polotsk the grim reaper would do more than the former Pope ever could. Zbyszko, the heir apparent, lavished by his father with the Duchy titles of not just Prussia and Mecklemburg but also Lithuania, Galich, Lesser Poland and Novgorod, rode out into battle never to return. After the fight, on what otherwise might have been a day of triumph, the king wept. Everything he had built was now gone. Like a house of cards falling down at the final stage, so did his dreams and hopes come crumbling down just as everything had been perfect.
The king would never recover from the loss of his son. Some questioned whether young Zbyszko, only 27 at the time of his death, had been slain by a pagan blade. The king, even when approached by her beloved Queen Scholastyka, would refuse to speculate. Having lost all other hope, the king could but try and learn to love his other son. Boleslaw the younger, or Boleslaw the second as he later would be known, was granted most of the conquered lands in the East. Only Polotsk was to be granted to the Duchy of Prussia, for 7-year-old Lech to remember his father by. The king, now 56, would finally understand the full weight of the words of his father. The folly of youth would not return, but the cynicism was replaced by despair and hopelesness. The queen, from this point on, would rule the kingdom of Poland until the days of Boleslaw the second.
-Red is royal demesne and vassals. Note that the province West of Polotsk is a county vassal of the king (As is the county of Nitra)
-Green is lands of deceased Zbyszko (Note Pskov and Rügen)
-Purple is Boleslaw the second
-Yellow is the Archbishop of Greater Poland and Holstein (Note that they lost their vassal)
-Teal is the Duchy of Silesia
Warden of the Cinque Ports
Well, at least the son is better than the father in most respects.
Black Hound of Han
Boleslaw jr has nice skills.
And who cares about cash when you can obtain it by conquering neighbours?