I took a crack at this before, but because of technical difficulties/time it failed miserably. Those who are reading this, it is going at a leisurely pace, probably each weekend. That is all I will promise. The way I was writing created a very elaborate story that would have been great, but it was to ambitious and it became way to cumbersome. So, I'm going to be concise. When I eventually move this from Crusader Kings, which I will as fast as possible because honestly I really find this game tedious and open-ended, at least the way I play. I've got to move it to EU III as fast as I can. Then I'm going to reorganize how I do this. Please, don't be kind in your comments, constructive criticism is welcome!
Chapter I -
Chapter II -
(Etc... will be filled in as I go)
I don't usually do this, but here is some music if you like it (I especially recommend it for reading the quotes) -
Renaissance: Élan de Romain Français
“Thy brokers of all Christendom, doubtful darkness, entangled thorn, compatriot and antagonist weave alike a most iniquitous creation of man! No Commonwealth can be founded but by free consent. I, Lords and Heavens do beseech, yea shall solemnly swear; not one kingdom, republic or religion to confine our auspicious flair; brought against most envious blear! Rather, t’was twice decided, blood articulate in glorious battle, board mitigation among gripping intrigues and with none placed in unacquainted or uninvited danger but great brotherhood,” – An excerpt from Herbert IV, a famous 17th century French play
Herbert IV’s legacy is undisputed. His contributions left unmistakably permanent changes to European civilization. Even as legendary a figure he has become, inspiring interesting fables and mysterious conspiracies, his life is easily the most relevant study of the rebirth of the Carolingian Dynasty. Clearly an interesting and fascinating tale of courageous survival and royal vitality, it is arguable that the Caroling line has had the most impact of any other family throughout Europe. His legacy is still relevant, even to today, as the father of the modern French kingdom.
Herbert IV was an unlikely success story. Within the volatile country of France, hardly could one even considered it a state, let alone a kingdom. After the death of Charlemagne, many of his former vassals became autonomous, further, after the death of Louis the Pious the Empire completely fell apart. In the remains was the French Kingdom stationed at Paris, especially along the periphery mainly the coastal areas of Brittany and Toulouse much of its territory became independent of central rule. In this very trying time for the young French state, Herbert was born. While the peripheral robber barons surrounding Paris slowly became independent of the King, Herbert witnessed the complete opposite and gave him reason to fear him. He had been by his father’s side when he lost the county of Reims and numerous smaller estates near Paris to the encroaching French King, thus he only inherited the domain of Vermandois and a few townships throughout Valois. It was his ambition to recover the family lands, taken by the King when his father had given him trouble within his realm. He was determined to not make the same mistakes as his father or to rely on the mercy of his King.
This history begins with the coinciding events in England. In 1066, the Normans, descendants of Vikings and Franks, had just conquered England placing their nobility in power at the expense of the English themselves. This was not the first time something like this had happened, nor was the Norman conquest something all that new. It was a common practice among Europe to tear down the prevailing order and replace it. Usually, the losing side wasn't working. For instance the fall of the Roman Republic and the birth of the mighty Roman Empire under Julius Caesar, it is efficiency, swiftness and inclusion that create powerful states. The legacies both Julius Caesar and Charlemagne left behind were important influences on Herbert when he was being educated as a young child. It was from them and the recent fall of the English kingdom that he began to plot the downfall of the French King.
He set out first to discover his claim to the Kingdom, which he would base his usurpation on. While he knew he was a descendant of Caroling blood and probably had an ancestor of the old Caroling rulers of France, any evidence of this tie had been lost to history. He commissioned a historian to discover his familial connections to the King of France, he hoped to be placed in the line of succession and use that as a legitimate claim on the throne. The historian, Gabriel-Jean de Encre, possibly Herbert himself, stumbled upon an interesting 9th century text that showed familial relation with Pepin I of Aquitaine. The history inspired Herbert and his court with the many tales of his apparent ancestor. Herbert’s attempts to trace his lineage to Pepin II*, the pretender to the throne of Aquitaine, became controversial only after his death. The account itself was supposedly written in ancient German and apparently translated. When the historian de Encre found it in the early 11th century it guided the scholar to a poem, written for Pepin II by one of his people. It described him as a fair ruler of his former lands. The poem apparently extolled his feelings, as it was written by an admirer of the pretender, and expressed his belief that God had given him a second chance to rule his former lands after his escape. He had been locked away in a monastery after he led an uprising against Charles the Bald who had usurped the throne from him.
According to the scholar's history, Pepin's image was tarnished as part of a larger plot in case he ever attempted to reclaim the throne. In reality, according to the history, Pepin II was not a Pagan, a Viking raider or a glutton. Instead this was an early example of a smear campaign used to depose him. In truth, he had a son with his wife who he sent to a monastery. There are, however, no concurrent records of his son or much evidence that contributes to the accounts in the Heeren de Francia Historie.
Here is an excerpt from Heeren de Francia Historie, translated into English in 1277 from the original French and German texts supposedly written by Nithard in the 9th century and lost after his death:
Anno 840, Louis, by the aid of God, king of the Franks and Lombards and patricius of the Romans, son and successor of Charlemagne, died and was delivered to God from this world. In death, he lived on through his four sons, except Pepin I of Aquitaine who died in Anno 836. They each, by birthright and in custom of Frankish law, were given each a possession to call as their own realm equal to eachother as Kings. It was in this fashion that most Frankish realms would be divided. Pepin I of Aquitaine would have ruled over his father's possession the Kingdom of Aquitaine, his realm would have stretched from Bordelais on the Atlantic coast bordered by the Pyrenees and Provence, his rule was over those who used lingua romana rather than lingua teudisca. While his father remained Emperor, he would become the heir-apparent to his father, ruling with him as equal. He died, however, before his father. Emperor Louis, under duress, had given his possessions to Charles the Bald, Pepin II's tyrannical Uncle, disenfranchising Pepin II of Aquitaine from his inheritance. The nobles rebuked Charles the Bald and recognized Pepin II, King of Aquitaine. He would be crowned, Anno 838, by the grace of God, Pepin II of Aquitaine in the city of Toulouse as the true King. When Emperor Louis died, his other son Lothar became overlord of his younger brothers as the eldest. Lothar was sympathetic to his nephew, however, this placed him in a precarious position between both his brothers when they allied against him. At the Treaty of Verdun, Lothar was forced to recognize Charles the Unjust, the name the nobles had given him when he attempted to impose his rule, as King of both Western Francia and Aquitaine. Pepin II, with righteousness on his side, defied the treaty and went to war with his Uncle. Pepin II eventually lost his Kingdom. However, he had enlisted aid from a Viking conqueror known as Jarl Oscar. After more than a decade in prison, he escaped and joined the Vikings in their quest to control Aquitaine. This unholy alliance gave the enemies of Pepin II enough evidence to falsely consider him a follower of Wodon, even though his brother was the Archbishop of Mainz and, thus such a conversion, would have disgraced him into obscurity and ostracized from his Lord God. While his detractors defamed him, it is rumoured he was wed secretly to a speaker of lingua romana, Maredith, as he reassumed authority of his lands. When she became pregnant with his son, she was spirited to a northern baron, where it is speculated his son would prosper.
This discovery gave Herbert IV the ability to plan a new balance within the French Kingdom and solidify his personal obsession to depose Capet, and remove the House of Capet from the throne. This was logical considering the Capetians on more than one occasion historically threatened the independence of the Duchy he had assumed after his son killed himself. This is a better conclusion, since the evidence for the claims made in the history even then were flimsy. It was more likely the histories referred to an illegitimate son and any reference to a wife could have been confused with a woman he likely kept as a slave. The histories were in fact fake, however, this wasn’t discovered till much later. However, had they been real his son would have no real claim to the throne anyways. His dispossession, especially after the Treaty of Verdun, would have left any future claims mute. The fictitious history Herbert used for his imaginary claim to the throne of Aquitaine, which gave him impetus to accept their ways, created a historical narrative for his sons. The history is still required reading for any French Historian and an excellent mythology that influenced future Carolingians upon reassuming the throne creating a “Pepinian” spirit or élan.
Those who were descended from the Frankish tribes that had invaded in the early 6th-7th centuries, still continued to speak the lingua teudisca, what today has become an extinct dialect of the Germanic tribes that had settled the northern frontier. His first born Eudes spoke only the more boorish Frankish language and continued to wear traditional German clothing. However, Herbert’s first grandson from his second son Robert was fluent in both Old French and began to wear Italian fashions from Venice. While he could never live up to his father’s ambitions, Eudes was still instrumental in his plans. Alix-Adele de Valois was Herbert’s first wife and also Eudes mother, putting him in line to become Duke. Historical records are mixed and vary on the exact details of Simon de Valois, son of the Duke, but he too played an important role. He died in 1076, killed by a stray arrow while on a hunting trip with the Duke as his martial. When Raoul III finally died in 1083 of old age he left all of his possessions to Eudes I, Duke of Valois. Eudes I, thereafter, committed suicide.
Historians agree that Eudes I had an early recorded form of schizophrenia. In his book, “The Possible Genetic Heritage of Psychological Disorder,” Paul X. Thibodeau, a psychological historian at the Universite d’Toulouse and royal psychologist, diagnosed Eudes in a controversial study. He classified Eudes with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and numerous dissociative behaviors after a thorough investigation of both his ancestral history and identifying clear symptoms. Dr. Thibodeau is clear in his case study of Eudes, “pressures from his father, the death of his mother and competition with his brother, Robert, gave him two realities. The patient, [Eudes], simply bore criticism in one reality and in another, which he created, he lived as an equal.” It’s obvious later that Herbert felt little remorse for his son’s death, who he believed was a “worthless boor.” Once he realized he had driven his son to suicide, however, he felt more empathetic toward his firstborn.
After the death of his first wife, Herbert married Matilda de Vogue. Matilda, born near Montpellier, spoke a crude form known as Old French and wore Italian fashions. She was a clear break from the northern Frankish traditions, which Herbert saw as boorish and uncivilized. Her influence on the court would set the tone for the creation of the Chateau de Amiens. Her very shrewd nature and almost total loyalty to her husband and his cause made her a valuable asset to the new Duke. She would give him his second son Robert I who would eventually become known as Robert the Magnificent. His sons and nephews would follow his example and marry women across the southern half of France. History shows Herbert IV knew full well the histories he created were false, but he was like his sons, especially Robert, a shrewd politician. He wanted revenge against those who he had believed betrayed the Carolingians, driven through this revenge, he established objectives to slowly erode Capetian rule. He was thus driven through revenge to propel his family to rule France. He didn’t simply want to depose the Capetians either but to eradicate their house permanently from the political and social arena through any means necessary, especially removal of their heirs from the throne, succession, any possessions they had within France or cadet branches. He planned to veil his motives from the king as revenge not against the Captians, but against the southern nobility that had abandoned Pepin. He wanted to use this ancient strand of French culture and language to drive a wedge that would eventually eliminate any allies the Captians had left through expensive civil war. While the Duke would consolidate his powers, he planned for his sons to gain popular support to match the Captians at their own game, the same game they had won to depose Charles of Lorraine.
His plan was thus made very simple divide France so he would rule it. His hero Julius Caesar used a similar strategy to conquer the Gallic tribes. His near insane fascination with Roman history created in him inspiration for a great empire. He believed his plan required common kinship with the old Roman rulers of France, which he believed was important to his legitimacy to rule. As aforementioned he would accomplish this through patronage of southern culture, which at the same time would create an unstable realm for the French King and would in the ensuing chaos forge a kingdom for his sons. He needed the compliancy and support of the southern regions while using the northern divisions to exhaust their strength to supply armies to assault Paris only then could his sons legitimately depose the king. He wanted to begin building with his rule his realm in the south and then his descendents would finish in the name of his legacy. The first obstacle to this bold initiative was the loyalty he barely commanded among his own nobles. This was a common issue that plagued 11th century European feudalism. These noble lords throughout Europe simply ruled from force and had carved out their kingdoms through conquest of the old Roman Empire. He had to devise a mechanism to give him the loyalty he required and the future establishment of a kingdom. It is here that he began the first progressive reforms, which would eventually become a characteristic of his long and fair rule. He began creating contracts that required their unquestioning loyalty, at the suspense of his total power. He hoped this would secure after his death his imperial prerogative.
- There actually was a Pepin II, if anyone is wondering, he really did try to retake his lands and he really did become a viking and a pagan to do it. Though there isn't historical accounts of him having kids, he did have a brother who was the bishop of Mainz. He was a horrible king. He led the Vikings on a guided tour, noting all his weaknesses the whole time, through his kingdom to get their help against Charles the Bald. They raided all of his lands afterwards and he quickly became very unpopular.
I hope everyone enjoyed this first installment! Comment, please!