Well, infinity is close to eternity?
Prologue One: The Saxons
kalpæs háglán se sinik uv sinikæs, miestær ŝev pasule
All hail the King of Kings, Master of the World
In 1114, Æthelweard committed to his goal of destroying the Teutonic Knights and seizing the city of Riga. Riga was an important trading city, but more over was a port of safety for Catholics and Crusaders headed deep into the Baltic. It was important for the Prussians to end this safety and secure the Baltic Sea for themselves. However, the Knights knew the importance of Riga as a Catholic outpost in the region and thus they converted a small pagan settlement into a massive fortress. Riga towered over the surrounding environs. Æthelweard hoped that the natives in Riga would rise to his side and join their brethren, but when he arrived he found an entirely different situation. At first the Prussian King was more than happy to sit outside of the walls with catapults and trebuchets. His goal was to starve the Knights out; he estimated that a city of that size, blockaded, would last only a few weeks. But the Knights hoarded the food to themselves, intent on letting the natives starve to death. Natives called out from the ramparts to Letts in the Prussian army pleading for food.
By summer Æthelweard was tired of waiting and instead had his alchemists concoct an ancient weapon known as “Greek Fire”. He parlayed with the Knights, sending a single rider with a letter into the city. The letter gave a simple ultimatum: leave the city or have it torched, Knights and all. On July 2nd, 1114 the Knights surrendered the city to Æthelweard and the Prussian King took possession of the city. One year later the city practically had to be retaken, revolts had spread like wildfire and one of Æthelweard’s sons had been drawn and quartered by the locals. Even after the city had been retaken, the King felt a great loathing in himself. Losing his son was a major setback to him and he retreated into isolation. The King left his eldest son, Eadbert, in charge of the capital, and left for Mariengrád where he chose to reflect on his losses. Eadbert was meant to be a middleman, shuffling Æthelweard’s needs between the capital and the King. He did his best to keep to this task, but Eabert grew more ambitious as Æthelweard grew weaker.
However, Æthelweard’s short visit soon grew into a long stay. By 1116 he had not yet left Mariengrád. By 1120 it was obvious he was never returning. But the Kingdom went on, frozen in time as the King refused to do anything other than maintain the domestic functioning of the state. By 1121 Æthelweard had grown ill, but it was not until he was on his death bed that he decided to call his wife and eldest son to his side. But when the two arrived in Mariengrád they were one day late. The King was already being interred in a tomb under the city’s main cathedral. It was the King’s wishes that Eadbert be crowned King, something the young man had been waiting for and prepared for when no one else was looking. Eadbert was crowned King, watched over by his eldest son and heir apparent Ælle. The reign of Æthelweard the Conqueror was over, know began the reign of Eadbert the Cruel.
Ælle. I remember only good things about him. An awesome knight skilled in everything and a valiant defender of Christiandom. A saxon Roland defeating the Saracens in Iberia.
We never got a close look at him though and all this comes from short history book interims about him. Yep. Never got a good nice narrative chapter about him. Yeah.
Prologue One: The Saxons
laofæt ár láv ist devs in, laofæt bi badit ist násjá.
To rule with love is for God, to rule through fear is Human.
King Eadbert took the throne like a storm; he had many plans and was impatient to get them all into motion. His first plan was the removal of his brothers that he felt were less than worthy of their father’s name. He usually did this by given them impossible tasks and then punishing them for their failures. For his brother Leofwine he reserved a special task. Leofwine was to invade Finland and then turn the colony into a profitable source of income within a few years of their father’s death. In 1124, Leofwine was far behind on this task, but Eadbert was willing to forgive, and gave him an extension on the deadline. It was all a part of the plan. Eadbert ensured that the rule in Finland was especially harsh, forcing Leofwine to confront the consequences of many years of heartless rule on his people. By 1125 it was obvious that Leofwine would completely miss the new deadline, so he was summoned to Memelgrád and exiled from the Kingdom. And so Eadberts main rival to his authority was extinguished.
The King returned to working on his own dynasty. He had his eldest son, Ælle, married to a Russian Princess, securing his alliance with the Rurikoviches. In 1127 he and his fourth wife had a son, Gunvald. Eadbert’s wife at the time was a native, her father a Lettish convert. Gunvald was named after his maternal grandfather, once an important Lettish chief. His mother, Imela, was also a cunning woman; a match to Eadbert. Ælle was a powerful military commander, ensuring all conquests of the Prussian Army went directly to the King, and not some petty feudal lord. It was Ælle who conquered the city of Plock, the first of many incursions on the lands of Poland. The Prince might be a great military commander, and a chivalrous knight, but Imela saw in him a single-minded man, one who thought little of the state, little of the people around him. He was a glorious knight, not one to care for the suffering of the native peoples. The whole monarchy continued to speak in Saxon, distancing themselves from the natives. But more and more the laymen spoke a combination of Lettish, Old Prussian and Saxon. It made communication easier between the many peoples, but Imela saw it important that the next King speak the language of the people so that they would feel a connection to him. She knew that the Prussians needed to be a tribe, a family.
Despite Eadbert greedily eyeing Poland, a new threat was rising. In the West the Scandinavian nations had allied in an attempt to push their own agenda. Their plans included a united Baltic, under the Scandinavian powers. The Russians and Polish initially feared that Prussia, Saxon in its core, would feel compelled to join this alliance. But Prussia was one of the first to call a meeting to discuss this rising problem. The three nations tried to form some plan, but their inherent distrust of one another quickly meant that one would be left out. Eadbert decided the best path was to ally with Poland, ensuring an ally on the Baltic as well as getting Poland to let down their guard, making invasion easier later. Eadbert was even so bold as to demand Galich, a small Russian principality normally under the influence of Poland, be conceded to him, which the King of Poland agreed to, only because it seemed Scandinavia’s attack would come any day.
When will the next Culture update show up? Also; what happened to Shinto?
The French and the Bretons
Gaul was, and probably always will be, an important player on the European stage. Gaul was a core region of the Roman Empire, the Frankish Empire, the French Kingdom and the Caliphate of Toledo. In 1389 the region is divided into a multitude of regions ruled by Taifa, local feudal lords who were nominally under the rule of the Caliphate in Barcelona. The largest of the Taifa was the Realm of France, ruled by the de Beauce dynasty. However; by 1389 the de Beauce dynasty had fallen apart and existed as several lesser houses that ruled a divided territory. Southern France and Brittany was ruled by smaller, less powerful dynasties. The Bretons still ruled Brittany, but Vasques (Basques) ruled much of Aquitania. Occitania was ruled by native dynasties, often extending into northern Italy. But with the fall of the Christian Kingdom of France, France became a very diverse place culturally. It wasn’t until the XVII Century that the idea of “France” as a state would return, and even then it was a southern movement, supported in the north only by Brittany.
The Oïl languages in the north were in retreat. Dutch and German pushed from the East, Breton and Vasque pushed from the West. The Oc languages were shrinking in France though not to the same extent. Pressure from the Istimari people in Catalonia led to the retreat of pure Oc languages in the Mediterranean region. German, via Switzerland, also put pressure on Oc regions, taking over cities like Geneva. A third group formed, the Cartheginians. Cartheginians merged Occitanian and Arabic and was the language of Carthage as well as the region around Toulouse and Arles. This influx of new languages fundamentally changed French as Occitanian. No longer were most dialects mutually intelligible. These divides would define Gaul until the beginnings of the Enlightment.
Breton, however, was not retreating. It was a growing language. Breton pushed its way into Anjou as well as into Vendée and the surrounding regions. Brittany was one of the first Christian nations to join the Spanish in fighting the Moors, but after their defeats in and around Galicia they moved to a position of neutrality. After the fall of the Christian Kingdoms in Spain, Brittany allied with the Caliphate as a means of preventing invasion. Bretons originally resisted the spread of Islam, but eventually became the ones spreading it in France. They were also used in the administration of Ireland and Scotland while those two were under the control of the Caliphate. At its max, Brittany controlled its original lands, Anjou, Normandy, Vendée, Poitou, Ireland, Scotland and Mann and was one of the most powerful realms in the Empire. After the adaptation of the Taifa system and the fall of British territories to Christian hands, Brittany was reduced to three Breton Taifa: Nantes (Naoned), Rennes (Roazhon), Vendée (Vande), and Anjou (Anjev). Ruled by three separated clans, they were eventually united under the Count of Rennes and reformed back into Brittany (Breizh).
The former lands of the de Beauce dynasty are in a weaker position. Normandy holds the strongest position as an Elector of the Caliphate and a major ally of the von Zähringer-Holstein dynasty in Germany. Normandy also holds the city of Paris, the former capital of the Taifa of France, but other French states look to Lyon as their capital to avoid German domination. In 1389 there is a major distinction between “France” and “Gaul”. France refers only to the former lands of the de Beauce dynasty, centered on Paris and only in the North. Gaul referred to the entire region once ruled by the Capet dynasty. Within Gaul, many states were divided into Pro-Aragon and Pro-Holstein camps. Aragon and Holstein were the two supreme powers in the Caliphate, and it seemed that the Germans were ready to usurp power from the Istimari and transform the Caliphate into a world-spanning Empire.
Religiously, Gaul was one of the most homogeneous regions of Muslim Europe. Almost all people within Gaul were Muslim, only tiny settlements of Christians remained. Even Iberia held small pockets of Christian-majority regions. Throughout Gaul, Franda Islam reigned supreme. Only in the south-east were there small regions of Shiite settlement, run over from Italy. Franda Islam, that is Frankish Islam, was a movement that began in the late XIII Century. It started as a sect of Sunni Islam, only it stressed a more Christian set of morals. Their symbolism was not unlike both Islam and Christianity, often combining crosses, six-pointed stars and other symbols from local customs. It was only natural that local Christian converts would not completely give up their teachings and beliefs. Franda Islam did not stress facing Mecca, allowing old churches to be repurposed; supported the birth of the Savior, but not his return; dietary restrictions were waived, allowing people to continue eating what they had been for centuries. The whole movement began in the Vasque region of Bordeaux and quickly spread throughout Sunni populations in Europe and Carthage. The three Islamics faiths found it hard to coexist, leading to wars of religion in Italy and France. In the West, friction between Franda Iberia and Sunni Morocco quickly lead to a series of devastating wars. Carthage was quick to defend itself, and even though it was fighting on three fronts (Cyrenaica to the East, Algiers to the West and Sicily at Sea) it managed to come out victorious.
Liberal Islam FTW!
Not much else to say.
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And what religion was Carthage?
Prologue One: The Saxons
keæv ist se grád ŝev áustru, ien kunstántenágrád ŝev fældæs.
Kiev is the city of the East, a Constantinople of the plains.
No sooner than the ink had dried on the treaty allying Poland and Prussia, then Norway invaded the two Baltic States looking to build its own Empire. At the time Norway ruled Sweden and Denmark, making it one of the most powerful states in Europe. But the Union was fragile. Sweden and Denmark were still independent and their allegiance would not withstand a long war or a crushing defeat. Norway first turned its attention to Prussia: led by the Prince of Norway, the Norse attacked Memelgrád hoping to quickly take over Prussia. But on the sea walls, the Prince was slain by Prince Ælle. Meanwhile, the King of Norway led his host into Poland, trying to reach out to the Polish capital deep inland. But he was unsuccessful; he too died in battle, his dreams of a Pan-Baltic Empire cut to pieces on the blades of Polish knights. Back in Memelgrád, King Eadbert was hailed as the sole victor of the war. He was hailed as the defeater of Sweden and Norway, and was going to continue his father’s work expanding the Empire. From the war, Prussia was able to take Åland and the western tip of Finland, but the King was not done. There was one more target he had in his eyes.
During the war, Sweden managed to make one gain: Gotland. The island had been independent for almost a century, a tiny republic kept free by its massive forts. King Eadbert wanted the isle so he could project his power to Scandinavia by having a fortress only miles off their shores. Prince Ælle was able to do this for his father, taking the isle and enforcing Prussian rule. But this time, when the Prince returned, the people cheered his name as victor and that is when Queen Imela stepped in. The Queen, anxious to see her son take the throne, was determined to drive a stake between the King and his heir. So, in the depths of night, she planted the seed of distrust. She spoke of how the people cheered only for Ælle, and how the nobles only respected a warrior. King Eadbert was not naturally a trusting man, so he was soon worried that his heir was trying to undermine his authority. For Imela, the stage was set and the actors were moving to their places.
What Imela had not expected was an attempt on King Eadbert’s life in 1134 by radical Catholics. The King went on a rampage, forcing the conversions of thousands of faithful Catholics. Revolts spread like wildfire, and where the revolts went Ælle was behind them, trying to prove his innocents to his father. A movement within the Saxon nobility and laymen proclaimed Prussia “New Umbria” and wished to purge it of Greek and Russian influences (Orthodoxy). A brief confrontation in the center of Mariengrád ended it all, with the Red Witch of Umbria being burned at the stake as a heretic and as a warning to other Catholics. The religious division in Prussia ran deep at the time. Orthodoxy was the religion of the new nobility, Prussian cultured men and women who made up the back bone of the Prussian court. Catholicism was favored by older nobles, Saxons who made up the frills and wealth of the Prussian state. But controlling the coin purse meant nothing if the other intended to rob you of it.
In 1135 Orthodoxy suffered a major loss: the cities Kiev and Chernigov were sacked and annexed by the Cuman Horde. The Turkish hordes came from the East, bringing untold destruction in their wake. The Seljuks were a threat to the Roman Empire and the Cumans a major issue for Russia and Prussia. Eadbert ordered Ælle to retake the two cities for Prussia, and as usual his heir obeyed, taking the two cities and permanently making them a part of Prussia. Taking the two cities was also important for connecting Galich to the rest of the Kingdom. But as usual, the cheers of the people made Eadbert more and more wary. It was now that Imela suggested her son Gunvald be made heir. She pointed out that as a small child he was not capable of scheming and would make a loyal servant. Though Eadbert rejected this notion, he remained fearful of Ælle so sent his eldest son on a new quest: capturing a port on the Black Sea.
Initially Ælle’s campaign was a successful one, but the Cumans brought more and more troops to fight in Russia from the steppe. Ælle pleaded with his father for reinforcements, but Eadbert was convinced his son was raising an army to overthrow him. The King saw that the troops were loyal to Ælle, not to the crown. Whether or not it was true is unknown, but Eadbert only agreed to send the needed troops if he assumed control over the armies. Ælle was not happy with the arrangement, but went along with it for the time being. Their goal was a small region on the Black Sea, soon to be the home of a grand port: Mocárgrád. It would be from this port that Prussia would begin one of its greatest rivalries: the rivalry with the Roman Empire. By the end of 1135 the southern regions were secured, but Prussia’s eye was shifting elsewhere.
A big 'what if'-arises; what if Imela had not succeeded in her schemes?
No modern Prussian language?
Well, since Homelands has finished. I guess it's time to start lighting the torches and gathering the pitchforks here, so we can demand updates in a proper fashion.
Prologue One: The Saxons
se sun uv próŝjá, se laof uv chiná, se sinik uv pámploná, se tremtis himsulf.
The Son of Prussia, the Lord of Battle, the King of Pamplona, the Exile himself.- The Emir of Toledo referring to Ælle (from Arabic)
Ælle, Marshal of Prussia, was excused of his duties in 1136, often called “The Longest Year”. The Prince was exiled; he took his family to Denmark and then left them there so he could head to France and join the Crusade to recapture Burgos. Once there, Ælle took a small region using Danish Crusaders, but then called up a large army of both Muslim Vasques and Christian Spaniards. With his own army he conquered the city of Pamplona and was crowned King by its inhabitants. The Kingdom of Pamplona soon grew to encompass the old Kingdom of Navarre as well as the ancient Vasque Kingdom. But Ælle was not an ally of the Crusaders. His state was a realm of peace and asylum. It was because of Ælle that the Vasques became so powerful, his Kingdom attracted many people and they were slowly assimilated with the local Vasques. The Crusaders were taking an ever deadlier road, forcing Ælle to eventually declare war on the Crusader States in Spain. He defended the city of Zaragoza from an army made up of French and Danish knights. And there, defending the locals, he was slain in 1145, but Zaragoza was held. The Emir, soon to be Caliph, took Ælle’s body and interred it in Pamplona. Soon after Eadbert’s death, however, it was moved to Mariengrád to be buried with other Prussian kings.
In the West, Poland was looking to out-backstab Prussia. Known as the Polish Republic because the King was elected by the nobles, Poland was under the leadership of a new King, one who offered war against Prussia. The idea of a Greater Poland had entered the minds of many nobles in Poland. To achieve it would mean defeating Prussia and taking much of her lands. In Prussia, Eadbert caught wind of this plan and was worried. He was not a military commander; his only hope was the cooperation of Æthelwulf, his porphyric son. Æthelwulf was a strong military strategist, but he was not a tactical commander like Ælle. His disease forced him to live a life inside, so when Prussia marched to war, Æthelwulf was shielded from the sun. Eadbert planned to use this to his advantage, since Æthelwulf was relatively unknown, he would take credit for his son’s exploits and gain back the respect he had lost to Ælle.
War was quickly upon Prussia, but Eadbert (with Æthelwulf in the background) was able to take the offensive. With a few allies from within the Polish Kingdom, he was able to quickly sieze the city of Pinsk and put pressure on all of Poland. Pinsk was important to Eadbert as it was a Russian city and a center of Orthodoxy. Capturing it was an important sign to the Russian states as well as to Constantinople of the King’s commitment in serving the Orthodox cause. But it was not enough to win the war, and soon the First Polish War was on hold for the winter. Eadbert used this time to cement his alliance with the Roman Empire, marrying his eldest daughter to the Emperor of the Roman Empire. It was such an important moment King Eadbert travelled to Constantinople personally with Imela, Gunvald and his daughter. Prussia was slowly cementing itself into the patchwork of Europe.