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Thread: The HAARd Way - Friesland AAR

  1. #1

    The HAARd Way - Friesland AAR

    The first half of this AAR is now complete as of 1813. A new, second, part which carries on from that in a new format is currently underway.

    The mod this AAR uses can be found in this link. This is the original version which is lacking in AAR-specifc items like Greater Friesland and the Revolutionary states, but it still has many interesting features. These include: new unification decisions, more religious decisons and locations for non-Christians, a divided Japan at game start, new events for Granada and Byzantium and most recently a dynamic colonial revolt system for the Americas (not featured in the AAR, which was on an older version). Credit to Patrick Johnson aka Brainmeats.

    Contents:
    The HAARd Way - Friesland AAR

    Contents currently under construction.

    Revolution's End

    Chapter One: The Third Revolutionary War
    Chapter Two: The Second Inter-Revolutionary War
    Chapter Three: Quest for Independence
    Chapter Four: Revolution's End?
    Chapter Five: Interlude

    -------------------------------------------------------------

    Forming the Netherlands is quite simple for Burgundy, Holland or Brabant, in fact I've already done that once before as Holland. On the other hand the Dutch minors have a much tougher time of it, with the aforementioned nations looming over them and the HRE watching to prevent easy land grabs. Of these, Friesland is probably the second-hardest. Gelre is toughest as Utrecht have a core on them (in my test game I was annexed within a few years), and Utrecht is slightly easier for the same reason. So playing as Friesland, I’m taking the hard way to forming the Netherlands.

    So, my goals and rules for this AAR are:
    -Survive: it’s actually my first time playing an OPM so this’ll be a challenge for me
    - Form the Netherlands, unite Dutch/Flemish provinces
    -Colonise
    -No excessive expansion in Europe: I won’t force myself to stay inside the Netherland’s borders, but taking a swathe of land in one go is out of the question.
    -No forcing release of same-culture group minors (exception: HRE members). Forcing France to release Normandy, Champagne etc feels too gamey for me.

    This is played with a mod, however it only really affects areas outside of Europe so I won’t explain the changes unless they come up in the gameplay.

    Without further ado:

    The HAARd Way – Friesland AAR
    Prologue – The Ambitious King

    On the coast of the Netherlands, Friesland was a small and unimportant kingdom within the Holy Roman Empire. Without much to distinguish it from its neighbours it languished in obscurity amongst the wider world. Nonetheless it held the same potential that all the wealthy Dutch nations did, it simply lacked the leadership to make use of it. This came to a head in late 1399 when the Frisians were left entirely without a King. The people searched for someone to lead them from the noble houses, and eventually found such a man in Hendrik Casimir von Holstein. (Friesland starts with no king, and I was lucky enough to get a talented one on the second day)

    A man of great ambition, he found his talents stifled when the Holstein region fell under Danish dominance and had taken his house into the Empire. After settling down in family lands in the Lowlands and proving himself a worthy lord to the Dutch peasants he soon found himself being handed the keys to the kingdom. In his ascendance he cast aside his past and embraced Dutch culture as his future. From here on he would work for the benefit of all the people of the Lowlands, and hopefully get his name remembered in the history books for centuries to come.

    The first thing the new king did was take a look into the nation’s finances.

    It wasn’t a pretty sight; despite the wealth of the people, very little flowed into the national coffers either directly or through investment. It seemed that the best thing to do would be to stop doing what had been done before and look abroad to find out what suited a small nation like Friesland best. The answer was simple and lay just across the water in Holland. They had achieved great wealth by opening up their borders and allowing trade to flow freely through the country. That model was exactly what Friesland needed, so Hendrik I began to enact such policies. (1 towards free trade)

    Diplomatically, his advisors suggested an alliance with nearby MŁnster. When the bishop refused to even consider it, the king signed alliances with other nearby nations who were more open to discussion. He also began to send his family members to forge marital bonds with the nations in the Empire to further improve the position of his nation.



    After MŁnster failed to provide an alliance (mission cancelled), the advisors suggested that the nation should accumulate money before doing anything else, something that Hendrik I was able to agree with.

    Further emulating Holland’s trading economy, the King minted a large quantity of money in order to pay for merchants to travel to LŁbeck and start bringing back money. It didn’t take long for it to pay off, and with money steadily flowing into the economy he was able to scale back the minting to satisfactory levels.



    After LŁbeck was exploited to the best capacity, he turned his sights to Antwerpen and began to spread his merchants there as well.

    He also sought out some of the greatest economic minds of Europe and found those who had been ignored by their military-minded nations. These great men were brought to Friesland and put to work lending their expertise to the traders of the Kingdom.



    With his administrative skills the government was running more smoothly than ever and within two years of his rise to the throne, his efforts paid dividends when a major fishing contract brought a large sum of money in which could be used to further expand the kingdom’s trading opportunities.



    Hendrik I was satisfied with the Kingdom’s progress from backwater to major regional trader in just two years, but there was still so much more to go...

    To be continued...
    Last edited by Sybot; 31-07-2010 at 20:36.

  2. #2
    Friesland AAR? Seems promising.

  3. #3
    General Range's Avatar
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    I found that playing an OPM is the most fun and challenging.

    Frankly, I'd be first to admit that I know absolutely nothing about Friesland... and, looking at their position right out in the open it's going to be a tough go. But, with the start you have I think you'll finish strong.

    Great start...Right from the beginning I've enjoyed what you're doing and the read is very colorful.

    I'll be following...good luck.
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  4. #4
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    Interesting choice. Good luck!
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  5. #5
    Zitanier, JDMS: Thanks!
    Range: Friesland’s position in the HRE means it’s safer from hungry blobs than most OPMs and the Dutch nations have great potential, so it’s not the hardest nation around. Still, when the smallest nation you’ve played before this was Holland it does make it a fun and interesting challenge. Hope you continue to enjoy the AAR.

    Chapter One: Necessary Expansion
    Friesland’s traders spread throughout northern Europe, bringing larger quantities of money inot the small nation that dwarfed its earnings from simple taxation. However, this was not enough for Hendrik I. He knew that Friesland was in a very vulnerable position. As it was, it would be easy for a larger and more powerful nation to walk into the country and seize control without any resistance. Of course, within the Empire this was unlikely to happen, but all it required was one unlucky war with the likes of Denmark, England or Burgundy to end his ambitions in an instant.

    As such, he searched and waited for any excuse to go to war within the Empire. As long as the reason was valid, the Emperor would overlook any transgressions and Friesland would be free to expand as much as it wanted. The opportunity arose relatively quickly, as in 1403 Bavaria launched an invasion of the small kingdom of Ansbach. It wasn’t very well advised, as they went to war with a number of German nations as a result, including Friesland’s ally Cologne.



    This was all Hendrik required as he declared war on Bavaria with the declared intention of assisting his ally.

    It was then that something else much more lucrative came up. Hendrik’s allies in Oldenburg and Brunswick abandoned the alliance, despite Bavaria being on the ropes already and no threat to them. That was even better, as their territory lay literally next to Friesland’s so it would be far easier to administrate once incorporated. After offering only token words of support to Cologne, Hendrik began to assemble an army for a more devious purpose.



    Even though the influx of money damaged the economy, Hendrik ordered the royal mints to print coins as fast as possible to pay for mercenaries. The necessary expansion would be carried out at any cost. Such lengths were required because, while Oldenburg’s army was insignificant, they were backed up by the Hansa themselves, who could muster a far larger force.

    Citing the insult caused by the dishonouring of their alliance as the casus belli, Friesland went to war with Oldenburg.



    Brabant’s guarantee of Oldenburg’s independence thankfully turned out to be empty words, while the Hansa kept to theirs.

    Frisian soldiers and mercenaries marched into Oldenburg and easily dispersed the local army before laying siege to the city itself. The Hansa, despite having access through neutral Bremen, did not show itself with an army of its own. Instead, it chose to wage economic war on Friesland. By barring Frisian merchants from from LŁbeck and removing them from the League it hoped to remove the funding that allowed them to field an army beyond their normal capacity. However, Hendrik had a way around that.



    While far-off Venice wasn’t as desirable a place as LŁbeck to trade it did once again give a flag for Frisian merchants to fly under that would boost their competitiveness.

    Within a year, the capital of Oldenburg fell and Hendrik himself marched into the city to accept the now deposed king’s surrender.



    Forcibly annexing Oldenburg to his nation, something far beyond reasonable when the reason for the war was a simple insult, drastically harmed Hendrik’s reputation amongst the nations of the Empire. It was worth the trouble for Hendrik though, as he had doubled the size of Friesland in just a few short years of ruling it. And despite the damage done to his reputation, because his merchants flew under the flag of the Venetian League they weren’t affected.

    Around this time one of Hendrik’s sons, who was married to the sister of the king of Gelre, had a child. As the king himself was still without an heir, this allowed Hendrik to stake a claim to the throne of Gelre. However the claim came to nothing as the king of Gelre had a son of his own soon after.

    After assembling a suitable army of its own, the Hansa invaded Friesland to reclaim the land that had been taken. The first and only battle between the two sides came to an end when Hendrik was forced to retreat after significant losses. However, the Hansa had taken heavy losses in the battle as well so when a peace was proposed giving them minor concessions they were more than willing to take it.



    Now at peace, Hendrik disbanded the mercenaries he had assembled and began to work on rebuilding the economy. In his continuing efforts to improve the nation’s trading ability he set up an official policy to deal with the flow of money to and from the distant centres of trade Friesland worked with.



    The war with the Hansa had damaged Friesland’s traders as they had intended, just not enough to completely tip the war in their favour. With LŁbeck out of the picture, he sent traders to Venice and Paris and even began trading all the salt produced in Oldenburg through Venice, anything to boost the money flowing into Friesland. (Having not really played within trade leagues before I’m not sure on the best trading strategy. Should I avoid League CoTs besides my own?)

    Tragedy struck in 1408 when Hendrik’s son died of a completely treatable illness. The state of the Kingdom’s finances were still too poor to afford a proper medicus, so Hendrik blamed himself when all he could do was pray for his son’s life.



    His melancholy did not last very long however, as on his way back from negotiating an alliance with Brabant he found another child that had been cast adrift in a river. Taking the child, almost certainly from some lower-class woman, as his own hurt his reputation but it turned out to be more than worth it as the child was a prodigy, with skills and ambition that were like his adoptive father’s.



    The economy began to get back on track as well as the Burgundian placed in charge of the royal mint made drastic improvements to the national coinage.



    Meanwhile, not too far to the south, Burgundy had begun a campaign to extend its control across the Lowlands. With apparent approval from the Emperor, they had swallowed up the minor nations of Luxemburg and Liege, and now turned their eyes to Friesland’s ally Brabant.



    The first real test of Hendrik’s rule was about to begin.

    To be continued...
    Last edited by Sybot; 26-02-2010 at 17:09.

  6. #6
    Hypothetical Hegemon JDMS's Avatar
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    Well, the next update should be intense. Good luck with your war.
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  7. #7
    JDMS- Thanks.

    Pretty short update today; I felt like focusing on just the war.

    Chapter Two : The Burgundian Lowland Campaign, Frisian perspective 1413-1415

    Eager for wealth and glory, the kingdom of Burgundy had begun a campaign of conquest and terror that steadily spread north into the Lowlands. Bar, Lorraine, Luxemburg, Liege, and now Brabant had all been targeted. All of this was done with implicit permission of the Emperor for reasons unknown. Perhaps he wanted a strong western frontier for the Empire to defend against the English and French, or maybe as a Czech the affairs of the Dutch and French regions of the Empire didnít interest him. Whatever the reason, it left the nations of Brabant, Friesland, Trier and Hesse alone against the might of the Burgundian war machine.



    Hendrik knew that there was no way for him to stand up to the Burgundian army in battle, so he used his access treaties through the nations of western Germany to approach the side of his enemies. His aim was to strike at smaller enemy armies and those of the smaller nations that had gotten caught up on Burgundyís side.

    This opportunity apparently bore fruit quickly, when Lorraineís army was spotted travelling towards Trier. Both the Frisian and Hessian armies moved to intercept it and defeat it in detail. However, poor scouting was their undoing as a large Burgundian army appeared from the fog of war within a week to assist their vassal. Hendrik and his allies were forced to retreat.



    Not letting the defeat get him down, Hendrik attempted once again to defeat the army of Lorraine while the same Burgundian army pursued the defeated Hessians. Going it alone proved to be a costly mistake, as the Hessian army was routed while the Hendrik failed to defeat his foes due to insufficient numbers. He was forced to retreat into French territory as Burgundy brought its forces to bear once again.

    After travelling through French territory and into Flanders, Hendrik found himself attempting to retake the province of Brabant from its occupiers. Brabantine forces had recently defeated a large Burgundian army in Liege, and so he felt that was the opening to regain all that had been lost so far.

    That plan was brought to a halt as news came of Brittany launching a naval invasion of Friesland itself. Latecomers to the war, the Bretons provided amphibious support to their allies as they were too far away from the front to bring their main army to bear.



    Hendrik was forced to withdraw his army to deal with the interlopers. Luckily Brittany must not have been expecting his return so soon, as their forces were inadequate to deal with Hendrikís army. In total, 6000 Bretons were killed or captured in three failed invasions. The distraction lasted for several months, so it was very likely that this might have been the tipping point of the war, when victory slipped from grasp completely.



    In the midst of all of this, the Emperor enacted a reform intended to improve the efficiency of the Empire. While there were some complaints about it, Hendrik merely skimmed the proposal and gave his vote in favour before returning to the war.



    While Hendrik had been occupied, the main Burgundian army had pushed deep into the territory of Trier, suffering heavy losses due to attrition in the process. He decided to link up with the recovered Hessians and push this weakened army out of Germany for good. It didnít come to pass though, as the capital of Trier fell and the Burgundians withdrew to recover their strength. Trier was forced into vassalage of Burgundy. Lorraine ignored its overlordsí retreat and attempted to push the issue further into Hesse, however an irritated Hendrik was waiting for their army. He pursued the army into Trier and attempted to wipe it out for good. Then tragedy struck.



    Taken from his horse by a stray arrow, Hendrik I died in battle. His adopted son, still at the tender age of five, was unable to take the throne and so a regency council took power. Seeing the state of the war and all the Frisians who had died for nothing in it, they ordered the main army home to recover and defend just the homeland.



    With their main army freed up, Burgundy crushed the remaining Brabantine resistance and swept into their territory unimpeded. The outcome was inevitable.



    The war resulted in another Burgundian vassal as well as the conquest of swathes of territory. Friesland had gained nothing in the war, and had lost their beloved king. His son, seen as illegitimate, was not nearly as well liked despite already showing skills on par with his fatherís. With the regency unwilling to get involved in any further wars, now was the time for Friesland to lick its wounds and recover.

    Meanwhile, the Lowland Campaign continued...

    To be continued...

  8. #8
    Hypothetical Hegemon JDMS's Avatar
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    Well that was a foreboding update.
    Burgundy needs to be dealt with soon! Any chance of dragging France into a war with them, after the Regency?
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  9. #9
    JDMS: No such luck Iím afraid. France has been focusing on England and Aragon, and has been buddying up with Burgundy. In fact they were even allied (for a thankfully brief period) during this update).

    Chapter Three: From the Sidelines

    The regency council was lead by Hendrik Iís nephew, a loyal and unassuming relative who only wanted to see the chosen heir placed on the throne. This was far easier said than done, as despite the skill of the boy the general population didnít see him as someone of truly noble blood and seriously doubted the entire von Holstein dynasty as a result.



    In order to improve public perceptions, the regent sent out members of the house to marry throughout the Empire. Over time, this would cement the von Holsteins as a part of the Empireís politics and give them a better showing at home as well.

    Spreading the family did much to improve the standing of Friesland through the nations of the Empire. Taking note of this work, the King of Hesse offered an alliance to their former co-belligerents. This was an obvious decision, as the nations of West Germany and the Netherlands needed to stick together in the face of Burgundian aggression.



    With that dealt with, the regent then turned his attention to the matter of finances. The war had hurt the kingdomís trade network as money had been diverted to military spending. First, he cut that back down to pre-war levels. The situation in the Lowlands had stabilized, as on the eve of their invasion of Hainaut the Burgundian king had suddenly died without an of-age heir. With its leadership in turmoil there was no threat of them continuing their campaign for the time being. He also cut back on the money spent of merchant travel. Trade was stable, although still below pre-war levels, so attempting to expand it at that point was a risk he wasnít willing to take.



    In his continuing efforts, the regent was able to build up the treasury and give a decent amount of leeway in spending, as well as organise a large number of bureaucrats to assist him in his work, and that of future kings.

    Then, all hell broke loose in the Empire.



    The Hansa pressed a claim on the city of Bremen, something that no one else in the Empire took seriously. The claim was enough for the Emperor himself to stay out, but that didnít stop anyone else. Half of the Empire, as well as Denmark, went to war with the Hansa as a result. Even for a major economic power, such a war was unwinnable. The regent knew that, but because he was unwilling to take the country to war before recovery was complete he decided to not get involved.




    In the end the Hanseatic League collapsed as half the nations within it left or were expelled as a result of the war. On top of that the Hansa themselves were forced to sign a humiliating peace that had them lose control of the city of Hamburg and admit that their claims on Bremen were false. It wasnít until after the war was over that the regent began to regret his decision. His own charge, the bright young king, had pointed out Gelreís position as one of the Hansaís allies. If they had attacked they might have been able to seize the province in the confusion. Alas, MŁnster got that luxury instead.

    The Empireís problems continued as the Emperor himself was excommunicated.



    On top of that, aggression by Brandenburg sparked a major war in the eastern half of the Empire.



    All the action was going on throughout the Empire, with so many opportunities to make gains, and Friesland could only sit on the sidelines of it and watch because of the regents insistence of rebuilding.

    Europe was in chaos. The never-ending conflict between France and England continued, Aragonese ambitions in Italy were met by French armies and the Holy Roman Empire could only fight amongst itself. As such, few noticed when the bastion of the other Roman Empire fell.



    Constantinople was seized by the Turks, and the Byzantine Emperor fled to southern Greece. How could Europe fight amongst itself as this threat advanced? (This is part of the mod. If Thrace is occupied but the Byzantine Empire still has a few other possessions, they can be forced into exile so Thrace can be taken without needing to completely annex them.)

    Further observation of the situation the Hansa was in uncovered something interesting. Munster had joined the war later, so when the Hansa signed peace with the rest of the Empire they werenít included. This meant the full economic might of what was left of the League could be focused onto a single bishopric. Gelre was once again freed.



    Although that didnít last long...

    The regents continuing efforts to make sure the economy was in top shape for the kingís ascension led to Frisian merchants opening up shop in distant Novgorod.



    They brought much wealth back to the kingdom, but the long-term sustainability of such a distant operation in a League-dominated trade centre was debateable.

    Finally, after a decade of rule, the regent stepped down and let the true king take his place on the throne.



    Willem was just like his father, and after being forced to watch the regent squander opportunities to expand the kingdom he was hungry for something to do. As it just so happened, he found it, very close by.



    To be continued...

  10. #10
    Hypothetical Hegemon JDMS's Avatar
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    Alright! Finally some action! Here. . . we. . . go!
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  11. #11
    JDMS: Oh yes, plenty of action this time around.

    Chapter Four: Turmoil in the Lowlands

    Holland had a tumultuous recent history. As the Burgundian Lowland Campaign continued, their ruler in Hainaut founds himself more and more isolated by hostile territory. Fearing that they could be brought down along with him, the Dutch people selected a new king to rule them. However, that king had very little legitimacy abroad because the means of his ascension. On top of that he did not have an heir and so it was simple for Willem I of Friesland to press a claim to the throne of his wealthier neighbour.



    Obviously the claim was little more than pretence for war, a fact which many that Friesland had forged relations with recognised. Hesse withdrew its support and relations throughout the Empire dropped.

    Of Frieslandís remaining allies, only the emasculated nation of Brabant could be counted on to lend any support. This was against, in the worst case, the combined forces of Holland, Bremen, MŁnster and Cleves.



    The coalition seemed set up to deal with threats against Holland coming from the east, maybe even Friesland itself after witnessing the annexation of Oldenburg. There would be no way for Friesland itself to field an army equal to the thirteen thousand already under arms, not even counting those that could be raised if a war broke out.

    As such, Willem emulated his father and began minting large sums of money to pay for mercenaries. If he could assemble a large enough army in one place, then it would be simple to defeat Holland and its allies piecemeal then the numbers they could bring to bear would be meaningless.



    Five thousand Frisians along with seven thousand hired mercenaries were assembled and ready to begin the war.

    After a demand to declare Willem heir to the throne of Holland was rebuffed, war was finally declared.



    As expected, Brabant was the only one of Frieslandís allies to join, while all of Hollandís allies did so.

    The war was off to a good start, as the armies of both Bremen and MŁnster were easily crushed by the massed mercenaries. Holland itself used its superior navy to ensure dominance of the straits and crossed a large army directly into Friesland itself. Things were going as planned, but unbeknownst to Willem, another Dutch leader was about to make his move.



    The Bishop of Utrecht invaded Brabant with the intention of aiding his ally, Cleves. Even though it expanded the frontline to include the entirety of the Netherlands, Willem accepted the offer to aid his ally. Luckily, Utrecht was focused on Brabant at first, so there was some time before their forces could reach the front.

    Meanwhile, to the south the new Burgundian king was ready to take up his predecessorís goal and continue the Lowlands Campaign.



    Hainaut was crushed and annexed within months, and Burgundy shifted its attentions northwards. By escalating claims over trade routes into Antwerp they were able to claim ownership of all of Zeeland. Regardless of the validity of the claims it was enough reason for them to go to war and so they declared war on Holland.

    Willem wasnít sure how to take the news. On the one hand it made the war much easier, but at the same time he wasnít pleased about the Burgundians pushing even further into the Netherlands.



    There wasnít any time to worry about that however, as Brabant was absorbed by Utrecht.

    Realising that reinforcements would soon be on the on the way, Willem marched his army directly at the Hollanders in Friesland to dislodge them. Realising that Burgundy was a far greater threat at that juncture, Holland retreated to defend its territory, leaving Utrecht to face the mass of Frisian mercenaries alone.



    Their army was crushed, and their territory besieged.



    It was only a matter of time until their defeat, and the same could be said for Holland. Burgundy had annexed their ally Cleves and turned their attention to the true goal of the war, Zeeland.

    While the war was going in Willemís favour, the von Holstein dream of unifying the Netherlands was not to be. In the siege of Utrecht itself, he caught a disease while inspecting the soldiers in their camp and died. The von Holstein line ended that day.



    Without an heir to be found in Friesland, a cousin from Milan was brought up to become the new king as soon as he was of age. The son of one of Hendrik Iís sisters who had married in Italy, the boy wasnít a von Holstein by name but was still determined to see the war to the end and help unite the Dutch people as his uncle and cousin wanted. With his tutor and regent, Johan Sanders, taking the helm of the nation in his stead the war continued.



    The war against Utrecht and the latest chapter in the Lowland Campaign came to a close almost simultaneously, with Burgundy taking Zeeland and Friesland gaining Gelre, as well as Brabant returning to the stage. (I wouldíve taken Brabant as well, but as soon as the province Utrecht fell Holland and a massive army marched in so I needed to pull everyone back and make peace as quickly as possible)

    The war was in its final showdown now: Friesland vs. Holland alone. Hollandís allies had been paid off with small concessions so all attention could be focused on them. There was one major problem though, even if they could defeat the large army currently inside Frisian territory, they could just retreat across the straits where Hollandís navy prevent them from following. Through some amazing diplomatic wrangling, the regent was able to secure access for the armies through the recently defeated Utrecht, cementing his victory.

    After assembling as many mercenaries as he could afford, Johan lead the armies and routed the Hollanders. Then, he sneaked his troops around through Utrecht to meet the depleted enemy in their own turf.



    They were crushed and nothing stood between Friesland and the conquest of Holland.

    After dismissing the mercenaries to prevent any looting of the valuable city of Amsterdam, Johan marched into the capital of Holland on behalf of his liege and accepted their surrender. Through some quirk of international law, even though Willem Iís claim on the throne had died along with him the people of Holland were still willing to accept the new king as ruler.



    As the nobility of the conquered nation bowed down before him, Johan felt a great sense of power and achievement. He was just a humble tutor, but being placed at the reins of a rising nation in place of its king was a rush unlike any heíd felt before. Perhaps he had found his true calling.

    Before returning to Friesland, the regent inspected the trading centre that had been set up. After the dispute with Burgundy over trade into Antwerp, Holland had decided to open up a competing centre. Such a place was a valuable addition to the Kingdom, and would certainly fund any future endeavours.



    After doubling in size once again, Friesland was well on its way to becoming the true nation of the Dutch people.

    The acquisition of the trade centre in Amsterdam came at a critical time, as Frieslandís trade was collapsing across Europe. The cause of all this lay in Italy, where Venice had somehow folded to the minor kingdom of Ferrara.



    Without Veniceís flag to fly under Frisian merchants had a much harder time competing, so Johan ordered all foreign adventures to cease in favour of establishing trade in their own nation. Once that was done, merchants could begin to spread abroad again.

    What followed was a period of relative calm. Friesland gained a new ally in Luneburg, who proceeded to use their aid to conquer the city of Hamburg from a beleaguered Bremen. Other than that, rebuilding the economy and trade network took top priority. A grand tapestry was commissioned to celebrate the victory and the nationís glory.

    As he oversaw the new glory of Friesland, Johan knew that it was he who should truly rule the nation and that the king-to-be was far too weak to bring the Dutch people to the heights they truly belonged at. Then, the boy fell ill with an unidentified illness. Johan stayed by his bedside and prayed, but in the end it wasnít enough.



    Without an heir to the throne, Johan quickly seized power under pretence of preventing a foreign ruler from claiming the vacant throne. He took Willem as a middle name to honour his student and promised that the legacy of the von Holsteins would continue through him, even though he was not blood related in any way. No one complained as they were satisfied with the way Johan, now Johan Willem I, had led the country in the final days of the war and the recovery afterwards.

    To this day, it is not know whether Willem Visconti was poisoned or if Johan I took advantage of a simple illness. Either way, the Kingdom was once again in the rule of someone of great ambition. Such desires would be necessary in the years to come. With Burgundy bearing down on the Netherlands with no one willing to stop them, the situation was very precarious indeed and only those with the will and the ability to survive could lead Friesland onwards.

    To be continued...

  12. #12
    Major Soarom's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sybot View Post
    Johan stayed by his bedside and prayed, but in the end it wasnít enough.
    Or was it

  13. #13
    General morningSIDEr's Avatar
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    Very good AAR. I hope Burgundy is given a thrashing sometime soon!
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    Hypothetical Hegemon JDMS's Avatar
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    Well, at least you will have a strong leader when Burgundy decides to take a bite out of you.
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    I always enjoy stabbing Burgundy in the back when playing a Dutch minor... so satisfying

  16. #16
    Soarom: Depends on what he was praying for.
    morningSIDEr, JDMS, Keinwyn: Burgundy will get whatís coming to it sooner or later, just wait and see.

    Chapter Five: The Lowland Campaign Turns Around

    Friesland had a problem. In its expansion through the Lowlands it had garnered the attention of the major nations of western Europe, both as a potential ally and as a possible target. In order to ensure that Friesland would be a worthy ally and undesirable target, it needed an army befitting its size. Johan I ordered the army expanded to twelve thousand men. However, such a program was expensive, and as the annexed regions were yet to be fully incorporated into the nation they did not support their fair share of the cost. Another source of income was needed.

    Previously this would have been trade, but with the destruction of the Venetian Trade League and the acquisition of the trade of Amsterdam, Frisian merchants were viewed with suspicion throughout Europe. As a result, Johan had to go crawling back to the Hanseatic League, who had kicked Friesland from its books years before.



    Luckily for him, the League was a shadow of its former self and so they were eager to have a major up-and-coming power join them.

    As trade was once again expanded into LŁbeck and Antwerp, things were stirring in the south. The finale of the first phase of the Lowland Campaign came as the Kingdom of Burgundy invaded the English port of Calais to secure their recent conquests. This was apparently the final straw, as shortly after the war began Englandís ally the king of Portugal used his influence with the Pope to have Burgundy excommunicated.



    This was exactly the thing Johan I had been looking for, a valid reason to attack Burgundy and reclaim the Dutch lands that had been lost over the past forty years.

    Once again, he released tons of gold from the royal mint to provide payment to mercenaries. Burgundyís army was incredibly large so any amount of damage to the economy would be worth it to ensure victory.



    Additionally, he was able to secure an alliance with England. Their war with Burgundy had ended in a stalemate, but they were more than eager to get revenge for the attack and enforce their own claims on Burgundy.

    War was declared, and the second phase of the Lowland Campaign began.



    With England and Luneburg assisting, the armies of Friesland were now equal if not greater than those of Burgundy. However, most of those soldiers lay on the opposite side of the channel or guarding English Aquitaine, so victory was not garunteed.

    The Lowland Campaign thus far had been a giant diplomatic red flag for other nations nearby. They were incredibly pleased that someone was standing up to Burgundyís dangerous expansion, and so monetary support came flooding into Friesland from a variety of places.



    This was more than enough funding to keep the nation afloat while funding large numbers of mercenaries.

    Friesland wasnít the only one intending to take advantage of Burgundyís situation.



    An alliance of small west German states joined in the action, lending even more support to Johanís action.

    Despite all the aid, there was still the threat that Burgundy would defeat each of its opponents piece-meal with its large armies, and so Johan was very, very careful not to rush in and get caught off guard. Luckily, the main Burgundian force saw fit to deal with rebel in Cleves before joining the war proper, and so Frisian forces were free to fight the smaller nearby armies.



    A man named Sibraht Gauma had distinguished himself in the war with Holland, and was promoted to lead the armies of Friesland in Johanís stead. After what had happened to two of the previous kings, he was not willing to go to the frontlines himself. General Gauma proved himself worthy when he went to support the siege of Brabant against a significant approaching Burgundian force.



    A great victory was won, although the defeated army retreated to the safety of the main Burgundian force in Cleves and could not be defeated completely.

    After defeating the rebels that holding Cleves, Burgundy was able to turn around and finish off the Germans before heading back towards Friesland and Brabant, inciting a general retreat.



    Cologne and its allies hadnít sacrificed for nothing however, as they had bought time for England to land significant forces in and around Calais, greatly increasing friendly forces on the mainland.

    With Burgundian forces hot on their heels, the Frisian forces had to move quickly to defeat an invasion of the homeland by a Swiss army from Burgundyís vassal before turning around and facing their attackers directly. What followed was the bloodiest single battle in Frieslandís history as the Burgundians, confident of victory, repeatedly battered the Frisian lines with cavalry charges over and over again. All hope seemed lost, but General Gauma was able to keep the line together and...



    Victory! The Burgundian army was crushed completely, leaving only minimal forces threatening Friesland itself. (Iím not quite sure why, but the Burgundian army kept on fight until it had no troops left. Somehow it still had morale even with only 100 men left in the whole army.)

    Elsewhere, the English and Burgundian kings faced off outside of Calais with the bulk of their armies.



    The western front would remain a thorn in the Burgundian side for the remainder of the war, as they were never capable of completely exterminating Edward IVís armies and so had to station the bulk of their forces there.

    With nothing in the way of his armies, Johan ordered the troops forward. Luneburg joined in as well, once the Burgundian fleet was destroyed.



    The Lowands began to fall, one city after another. Luneburg was able to seize Antwerp, while Zeeland and Limburg were taken by the Frisians. Victory was in sight.

    A total victory was slipping away however, because as the English armies on the continent got more and more depleted their ability to hold down the main Burgundian force came into serious question. As such, Johan motioned for peace.



    Burgundy, suffering under the weight of rebellion in its southern territory, was more than willing to cede parts of the Lowlands for peace. The first stage of the reclamation had begun. Not all were pleased with the outcome however; Edward IV expressed extreme displeasure that England had not gained anything in the war despite taking the most losses and keeping the Burgundian king occupied. It was only words at the moment, but it would come back to bite Johan later.

    Having defeated the scourge of Western Europe, Friesland was now incredibly highly renowned both within the Empire and abroad. Taking advantage of his popularity, Johan set up a massive tournament for the knights of the Empire to participate in. This would bring in much knowledge and experience that could help Friesland in future endeavours.



    It also served as a demonstration of Frieslandís military prowess. A mock re-enactment of the Battle of Gelre was the centrepiece of the event, bringing much amusement to the attendees from the Lowlands, Rhineland and France who were eager to see Burgundy humiliated.

    After the great war with Burgundy, other diplomacy within Empire seemed minor and trivial by comparison. First, the King of Brabant had called for aid from Friesland multiple times in the war. If he could not defend himself, perhaps he needed a more official protection agreement with Friesland.



    Fearing Burgundy, the King was more than willing to become a Duke to ensure the safety of his nation.

    Friesland also got into two minor wars. First, Luneburg invaded the much put-upon city of Bremen with claims on it. Obviously they didnít remember what had happened to the last nation to do that. They were jumped on by several small nations including the recently elected Austrian Holy Roman Emperor and forced to pay large sums of money. Friesland offered some support, but retreated as soon as the Emperor showed himself.



    Additionally, England got into a trade dispute with Castille that escalated into a full-scale war. Or it would have been, had either side attacked one another. That war ended quietly.



    After peace was once again secure, Johanís advisors started getting restless. Having been brought up in the era of Frisian expansion starting with Hendrik I, being at peace and without anything to conquer was uncomfortable to them. They suggested a quick and dirty vassalisation of nearby Brunswick. Politically they had been more and more overshadowed by Friesland, so an invasion would likely go unnoticed by the Emperor. They were right, as Frisian forces easily moved in and forced Brunswick into servitude.



    However Edward IV had refused to go to war this time, declaring that he wanted no part of another conflict that wouldnít be of any gain to his kingdom. It didnít matter too much to Johan, as he knew he could get them back on-side easily enough. It was just a matter of patience. Unfortunately, not everybody was going to wait patiently for that alliance to be re-forged.



    With Friesland lacking a major ally, Burgundy pounced. The Lowland Campaign was far from over.

    To be continued...

  17. #17
    General morningSIDEr's Avatar
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    A very good cliffhanger to end the update on. I look forward to finding out what happens next.
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    Nice work against Burgundy. Me thinks attacking Hesse would be quite profitable

  19. #19
    Hypothetical Hegemon JDMS's Avatar
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    Hmm, no English distraction to keep away the Burgundians? This war should be interesting. Good luck.
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  20. #20
    morningSIDEr: Thanks.
    Keiwyn: I have something else in mind for Hesse, as youíll see
    JDMS: The un-distracted megastacks of Burgundy are definitely the toughest part of the war, especially since they can win any war of attrition.

    Chapter Six: Preparation
    The sudden attack by Burgundy had caught the Kingdom completely off guard. The ink hadnít even dried on the peace treaty with Brunswick when the news came. Without England, the situation looked far direr that it did in the previous war.



    Burgundyís armies would easily roll over Frieslandís should they be allowed to mass in a single enormous force.

    Luckily for Johan I, General Gauma had already been on his way to the Burgundian border and so he received the messages first and began moving his forces south before the King knew what was happening.



    It seemed as though Burgundy hadnít been entirely prepared for the war either. They had a number of smaller groups positioned on the border, but their main armies were still in the area of Lorraine. Gauma used the opportunity to move in and rout as many smaller groups as he could before they could converge with the reinforcements. He even managed to successfully trap one of the incoming reinforcement armies as they crossed a bridge near Cologne.

    Heavy casualties were inflicted on the leaderless Burgundians, and they attempted to flee south.



    It did not save them.

    The chase had put Gauma and his army badly out of position though, so they were forced to flee to neutral territory when a large, fresh Burgundian army appeared. With the army shadowing their moves, he was forced to take his men the long way around through neutral lands to reach Friesland once again.

    Meanwhile, a group of mercenaries was fighting small Burgundian armies as they came. They could pick off the smaller groups that attempted to sneak into the country and besiege the cities, but there was little to be done directly against the larger armies.



    What could be done was to tear up the supplies of food that kept an army going. The mercenaries gleefully ripped up the landscape as they moved through it, ensuring that any large Burgundian army would suffer greatly if it attempted to move through there. Eventually though the mercenaries were cornered by the main Burgundian force and forced to disband.

    However, by that time General Gauma and his forces had returned. In an effort to avoid starvation, the Burgundians had split off several medium-sized armies to besiege Frisian territory while the main army waited to strike at Gauma himself. Through the use of neutral territory, particularly Utrecht, the general was able to stay ahead of the Burgundian commanders and strike at their more vulnerable armies.



    This strategy was the only thing keeping the Kingdom going at this point, as the people who had suffered at the mercenaryís hands were crying out for peace at any cost. As long as there was still a chance for victory, Johan I wasnít willing to listen to them.

    It didnít take long for him to come around, though.



    The main Burgundian army finally appeared after being forced into the scorched land of Limburg by their own King. There was no way to hold against such numbers directly as the enemy started to rally around their king and prepare for a major push.

    Seeking out some minor officials within the Burgundian government, Johan began to parley with them looking for peace. The officials were displeased with their Kingís decision to charge ahead regardless of the lives of his men so his proposal caught their interest. With Friesland offering minor political concessions, they were able to convince their hot-headed king to back off for the time being.



    With peace secured, Johan knew it was only a matter of time before the King of Burgundy would be back. The man was a Visconti, just like his former charge, and so he knew that there was at least some resentment that his dynasty had failed to make it onto the Frisian throne. He had very little time to prepare for the next attack, so he immediately got to work.

    Strengthened ties with local magistrates and appreciation of Hanoverian culture ultimately led to the formerly independent city of Oldenburg agreeing that it was a full part of Friesland. It was a sign that the Dutch and North Germans could get along an cooperate against threats.



    It also marked the first real sign that Hendrik Iís grand plans for Friesland were going somewhere, as the people themselves were accepting Frieslandís place as a major power.

    The various wars against the Hansa, Burgundy and Holland had damaged the economy as large numbers of mercenaries were hired with printed money. Johan I established a centralised bank to more effectively control the money being put into the economy and deal with the damage.



    Working with those in charge of the royal mint, the Bank of Groningen worked to repair the economy slowly but surely.

    Meanwhile, not too far away, Frieslandís old ally Hesse had gotten itself into a war with several minor powers within the Empire. They proved themselves very rapidly, as their enemies fell one after another and were absorbed. Such martial prowess impressed Johan and he approached them for an alliance. (Note: they also conquered Osnabruck and Anhalt after this picture was taken)



    They accepted, realising that their power would still not be enough to take on Burgundy without a similarly up-and-comer supporting them. The two nations had worked well together the last time theyíd fought together against Burgundy, although now they were both major regional powers instead of the insignificant Imperial kingdoms they had been when they failed to defend Brabant.

    Frieslandís long time ally Luneburg decided to pounce on badly weakened Bremen. The unfortunate city-state had been through a rough time. After beating back the last invasion by Luneburg, they were attacked and vassalised by Denmark, who were then forced to release them by the Emperor. Now, without any allies, it was simple for Luneburg to move in. Johan was more than willing to support them in this simple endeavour.

    His support was cut short however, as he received news that Burgundy was moving once again.



    However, this time Friesland was ready for them...

    To be continued...

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