Chapter Forty: A More Glorious Dawn
The King of Bohemia and the Prince of Brandenburg were just the two most powerful members of the Luxembourg dynasty which ruled much of the western peripheral of Christian Europe. Below them were a number of Counts and Barons, each vying for power. Like many German dynasties, the Luxembourg dynasty craved, more than anything, the Imperial throne: the Crown of Germany. They would do anything to recapture it from the Caliphate, despite the insurmountable odds. Their biggest hurdle was the Zähringer lands: Styria, Tirol, Holstein and Sverge. The Zähringers maintained a great deal of wealth and influence from the days before the fall of the German Kingdom. This wealth was spent trying to coax other German states to support them in their bid to overpower the Caliph from within. To Muslims within Germany and France, those titles were long gone, buried beneath the sands of time. What mattered was the title of Caliph and the prestige that when along with it. But Barcelona was not apt to give up its authority. Many states, including Prussia, did dealings with the Caliph as lord of Toledo. Having the Caliphate suddenly switch not only capitals, but dynasty and relationship was feared by many inside and outside of the Caliphate. The German dynasties were feared the most, as were the French. Their tendencies for saber-rattling had earned them a bad reputation within the houses of Europe.
The central realms of Europe, circa 1357.
August 13th, 1357
King Gunvald II paced, almost uncontrollably, back and forth. The whole world seemed be crashing down around him. The March Lords seemed desperate to meet their own demise, the King of England spoke of schism from Prussian Unionism, the Mordvins discussed a similar situation with the Patriarch of Prussia, and the Sich was demanding more rights and autonomy to protect themselves against their neighbors. The point of carving up the Empire was to make things easier and more stable, but it was all back firing. A divided Christianity would not stand for long. "My lord, a visitor is here to see you. It is Ambassador bin Ińigo from the Caliphate."
Gunvald looked up and halted his pacing, trying to look calm and collected. "Please... show him in," he stuttered. Prince Txomin bin Ińigo entered with a bow. He was followed by several members of the Hadad family including Viba.
"It seems, my friend, that the times are as easy on you as they are on us," the Prince said referring to the Caliphate. "I am sorry to hear that war has broken out between the East and the Caliphate. I was one of those who held out hope that it would not."
"Don't worry, Prince Txomin, the folly of the Marches is not the will of the Kingdom. We will have nothing to do with this nonsense," Gunvald said flatly. "I have grown tired of their belligerence anyways."
"It is strange that you say this, I was actually sent here to say the same. My lord, the Caliph of the West, refused aid to the German states and in doing so is being called a coward by his vassals. We are in fragile times, King Gunvald, the very stability of Europe seems headed for collapse."
"I feel the same way. Does the Caliph believe that his son will be elected to follow him?" Gunvald probed.
"He does not; support has turned against him, especially from the French and Germans. However, I believe he will appoint another elector soon, one that is loyal to Barcelona and will keep the balance. The key to our stability might rest, ironically, with Italy."
Gunvald nodded and then took a couple of back and forth paces. "What are you doing about Frandism? I've heard that it has been spreading like wild fire throughout the West."
Txomin's face drooped a little bit. "Um... it has been. In fact, many of the Princes have embraced it especially in France and Germany. It is a popular movement, King Gunvald," Txomin said with a twang of anger.
"I had no opinion of it one way or another. I can see from the cross with a crescent at its top on your neck that you too are a Frandist. I am not completely out of touch, my dear ambassador," Gunvald said calmly.
"The movement speaks to the people of the west; they find it comfortably sits between two worlds. East and West. The Christians find it easier to handle, so they flock to it. The Muslims find it easier to live with, so they too flock to it. Frandism might be the light that can unite Europe. Can you imagine, my lord? Can you imagine a united Europe, like in the days of Rome?"
"I can see what is coming next, Txomin, and I ask that you stay your tongue. Prussia is a Christian nation, and I will not be swayed by unattainable dreams. This is a whole new world we live in. Europe doesn't speak four or five languages anymore." Txomin didn't look discouraged. "We can plainly see that people will bicker over the smallest of things. And they don't always like change. No, great changes in Prussia will have to occur before Europe can be united at all."
"My master did not send me to try to convert you, but the Caliphate is ready for change, and it is likely that our next Caliph will be a Frandist. He will either be German, thereby almost guaranteeing he'd be a Frandist, or he'd be the Caliph eldest son, who is also a Frandist."
"So, I shall be trading a Sunni neighbor for a Frandist one. I don't know how much of a difference it will make," Gunvald admitted.
Txomin nodded, he didn't know why he had brought it up and now everything was awkward. "Bohemia and Brandenburg cannot win this war," he said, returning to the original subject and cutting with a dark undertone.
"They will lose," Gunvald admitted freely. "They will lose and it will be their own fault. I have no qualm about that. But the Caliphate is standing on shaking ground. I can feel it from the news I get, and hear it even from the word of her ambassadors."
Once again Txomin was left nodding, "Many thought that the conversion of the Germans would end anything, but we can see now they did it just so that they can stay in power and keep fighting to rule whatever they lay their eyes on." His tone changed, Gunvald was hitting buttons, either intentionally or not, that were close to the surface for a man that would soon be one of the most important people in his Kingdom.
"And that, my lord, is why I keep so close to my friends outside of the Caliphate," Txomin said quickly, gathering himself and then turning to leave. Halfway out of the door he stopped and turned to the King, "Don't descend too far into isolation. Prussia is still Europe's backbone; I don't think that will be changing anytime soon."
As the crowd of people cleared, all that was left was Gunvald and Viba. Viba walked toward Gunvald, resting a comforting arm around his neck and turned her head to try to see his whole face. The King was lost, confused and missing the direction of the civil war. There was no more script, no more goals. The whole thing was an improvisation and he could see how it could drive someone to madness like his father's.
You guys got me all wrong. I wasn't bashing Mr. C's conlang - I infact like it very much. The mixture of culture is a fascination concept, and to see it implemented at this level is astounding. Mr. C and me go way back - I was just joking.
Prussia cannot go isolated, gold must keep pouring in!
I was very pleased to come home today and see that I have two proper story updates waiting for me!
And I told you so. There's no point in all-out releasing conquered nations. No point whatsoever.
I have a question gameplay-wise regarding the Caliphate. Is it one giant country or is it actually several smaller countries that you refer to as the Caliphate for narrative effect? It seems like the computer wouldn't let you alone if it was actually just huge.
*rabble rabble rabble* I demand a post!
Chapter Forty: A More Glorious Dawn
It didn't take long for the war to turn against Bohemia and Brandenburg. But it turned against Bohemia much quicker. By 1358 Muslim forces had sacked the capital at Prague and forced the beleaguered nation to give up its western provinces, including the city of Liberec. These lands almost doubled the size of the Taifa of Regensburg, who so far was the biggest winner of the war. Only slightly farther north, Brandenburg and the Zähringer lands locked themselves into a grueling war reminiscent of those before Germany converted. In fact, it is agreed upon by the vast majority of historians that this represents a new phase in the Infinite War, which is a phase between the Eastern Christians and the Muslims. This phase would last until the end of the Infinite War, a point which has now agreed upon date. However, the largest group of historians would point to either the beginning or the end of the "War for French Independence", which lasted from 1663 and 1667. The reason this is cited as the end is that it not only features Muslims fighting other Muslims in an all-out war for conquest, but also saw the first major war-time alliance between a Muslim state and a Christian one. However, the war itself was started mostly as a proxy war between Prussia and the Caliphate.
April 8th, 1358
The Prussian Unionist Church was preparing for a split. Many, including King Gunvald, thought it would be better to let the Anglican Unionists go on good terms rather than ruin relations with an important ally in the West. Many tried to hide the qualms between the two groups through excuses and talks of openness and people's rights. But there were some lingering feelings. King William of the English was sending an envoy to formally request permission to leave the Prussian Unionist fold. All the while Doyvát tried to enjoy a life as a peace-time leader. The matters of the spiritual were of little importance to him as Lord-Protector of Poland, so long as the different groups remained separate there was little concern from him. Poland was the most religiously dynamic region of Prussia. Most of the population was Prussian Orthodox, though large Prussian Unionist and Jewish populations existed. There were also a large number of Revisionists and Norse Rites believers who had descended from the old Catholic minorities.
The Lord-Protector rode past rows of perfectly uniformed men. In the spring breeze their regimental banners flapped gently, tugging at their masts. Doyvát was sure that soon his soldiers would be needed. Bohemia's failure in the war was a sign to him that Prussia would be threatened by an expanding Caliphate. He did not share his father's trust or belief that Prussia could keep ignoring everything around it. But his father was becoming increasingly popular amongst the middle class for keeping Prussia concentrated on trade. The Prince had to admit that his father certainly had a way with coin. Maybe that was the plan? Doyvát sighed in knowing that he could live a thousand years and never fully understand the workings of his father. Instead, he just had to be a dutiful son, as was expected of him.
Prince Txomin bin Ińigo was waiting for Doyvát on the veranda. His flowing robes ebbed in the breeze and he seemed intent to watch the womenfolk go about playing a game on the lawn. The Prussian heir sat down next to him and joined him in watching the girls play. "I hear your father is doing well, Txomin. That is certainly good news."
"Yes," the Vasque said turning to his host, "I suppose it is, though I don't know for what good."
"What do you mean?"
"My father is sick, he might be recovering now but in a few weeks he shall be ill again. I can see his suffering; I can feel his sickness every time I am near him. Why must a good man suffer such evils?"
"Txomin, I think that is a question for the wise men and the heretics to contemplate. It isn't our place to question the doings of God."
Txomin was quiet for a minute, "But isn't it? What if I was supposed to help? What if by not doing something and thinking God will do it himself I am preventing his will from being done?" The young prince was left in quite a state of shock.
Doyvát shrugged, essentially ignoring his friend, "I doubt it." He motioned for a maid who came over and poured him a glass of mead. "You are over examining your part to play, the part any of us play. What would you do?"
"I don't know..."
"I think God would have at least given you a clue if he meant for you to do anything."
"I guess you are right, hmm..." Txomin calmed down but he was still thinking. "Are you ever afraid of your father dying? Are you ever afraid of the task ahead of you?"
"I've sat at the helm of this nation once, I am certain that the task will be easier in the future."
"I am fearful of my duties, as a Peer of the Caliph... but I will never have to rule a land so very large, like you or my lord." Txomin looked over at Doyvát with a very serious face, "Never will history look back and say 'Ah yes, Duke Txomin, here is a man who forever changed the face of Europe.'"
Doyvát patted Txomin on the back, "You give yourself too little credit, I think. To forever change the face of Europe can mean anything. Even in the small sense, the mason who lays down a brick for even the smallest castle has changed the world around him. The lands of Navarre are wealthy, some of the best in the Caliphate. I have little doubt you will influence many as a Peer of the Caliph."
After a brief pause, the Vasque asked another question, "What will Prussia do about England?"
Doyvát seemingly ignored the question; taking a drink and then, after a brief pause, answered, "Nothing."
"Nothing? So you will just let a sheep wander away from the flock?"
"We are herding wolves, not sheep. Better to lose a small bit of dignity then your hand. Why do you ask?"
"Many seek change in the Caliphate. We are not the Muslims that first arrived in Europe. I want to vote for a Caliph who will lead us down the direction we seek and I want him to stand up for us when the East tries to condemn us for it."
"Are you worried about the East? I doubt the Seljuks will do much, or the Egyptians. Maybe that is your big thing to change Europe. Maybe you are supposed to be the one to lead the Frandists into power. Have you ever considered that?"
"Me?" Txomin asked, he chuckled at the notion, "No. I am not great prophet or masterful ruler. I am Prince Txomin bin Ińigo... nothing more."
"Ah, Prince Txomin who will one day be Duke and Peer Txomin... Lord of Navarre," Doyvát responded. "You sell yourself short."
Now this gets strange!
Too much Aristotle?
Anarchy in the Caliphate!
And go England!
I foresee crazy antics once Txomin and Doyvát take control of their respective countries.
Chapter Forty: A More Glorious Dawn
Unionism, almost ironically, always was and has been divided. It is easy to preach that Christians should be united. But you cannot accomplish this without stepping on the toes of all those you wish to unite. Unionists were defined mostly by whose toes were left the most intact. Prussian Unionists believed that Prussia was the most capable of uniting Christianity. Not surprisingly, Prussian Unionism was strongest where Prussia had the largest influence. Roman Unionists, also known as Hungarian or Balkan Unionists, believed that Constantinople was the most legitimate of the Christian Churches. In 1358 Anglican Unionism was officially established as the Church of England. It played a strong political role in a region that was fiercely divided by religion. It shifted the normally Prussian Unionist views of the Monarchy into a new light, that of uniting the Isles against Islam. But there was some proto-nationalism involved. The English monarchs, originally Prussian puppets, wanted to prove that England was free of Prussian influence. But it was hard to convince Norse Rites and Revisionists of this. In fact, throughout Europe and the Near East, there existed non-Orthodox Christians who were unmoved by the workings of the Unionist and Orthodox communities. In the East the Georgian, Armenian, Edessan, Coptic and Assyrian Churches all went about their lives not caring what one Patriarch said to another. In the West the Revisionists and Norse Rites Christians concerned themselves with resisting Muslim rule in Germany and Sweden.
May 5th, 1358
A young warrior sat on his horse watching the motions of the people below him. From where he was he could see their entire world: the livestock that gave them milk, the wheat that gave them bread, and the arms that brought them warmth and comfort. He could count all of their houses on his left hand, the one that was missing a finger. These were the people he sought. Spurring his horse he headed toward the village, some peasants looked up but hardly registered what his presence meant for them. He wore the uniform of a man in the Yuan Army, a high ranking official of semi-noble descent. He was a man who had connections and authority in the dying days of the Empire. The Yuan had little authority here amongst the Turks of the steppe and when that authority slipped, it was up to warriors to reinforce it.
At the center of town sat a large man in a blue robe, under the mark of the Om. He looked up at the warrior wearily and with the weight of his age soaked into his very being and voice asked the question that was on the minds of all under his ward, "Why are you here Yuan-boy?"
"I am here for the taxes your people chose not to pay last month. I shall also be collecting taxes of this month and next," the warrior said calmly. The people of the village seemed shocked; did the Yuan really remember them? How could they pick up on one missing bag of gold? The warrior produced his hand in asking for the money.
"We are one poor village on the edge of a vast ocean of grass, are we really so important as to be frisked for such a poultry amount of money? Surely the great and wise ruler of Yuan does not need our taxes so direly," the elder begged.
"I am sorry," the warrior said, "I am simply doing my duty. If I had a choice I'd be at home rather than here in the middle of nowhere. Now hand over the gold, please." Once again the warrior put out his hand. His voice was filled with displeasure and his quick movements gave away he was impatient. He dropped down from the horse and stood above the elder.
The elder scowled, his brow sinking deep below his eyes. "I see," he said simply. "What is it we owed you? Three months taxes? Here." The elder produced a single coin and put it in the hand of the warrior. "That is our entire income over the last month."
Elsewhere a small boy came out, only five years old or so. He saw his father in front of a man by a large black steed, but was too afraid to leave the doorway. He watched intently, willing to learn the tools of ruling the village. But instead he saw the warrior throw the coin back at his father and in a bellowing voice yell, "What is this insolence? One coin? You owe dozens of times more than one coin! You, elder, are under arrest!"
The elder nodded solemnly, "So what of it? We don't have that many coins. I don't think that many coins have even been through this village since I was a young boy." The warrior slapped the elder across the face, leaving a small dribble of blood on the ground.
"Get up. Get up!" the warrior shouted. He kicked the old man and then tried to pull him up himself. From a few meters away the small boy came running and put his arms around the old man. The boy sobbed uncontrollably and tried to protect his father. The warrior was taken back, but regardless drew his sword. He was still in control here, but all he could do is stupidly hold his sword at his side and look down at a pitiful tribal elder and his son. Finally rage build up in him and he came down on the boy. But in a flash he saw it was the old man that he had hit.
Bleeding on the ground, the elder gasped and looked up to see if his son was safe. The boy stood in shock, but the tears were drying up and a rage was building in him as well. But it didn't matter. A 'thwang' from a hut ended it all. The warrior staggered backwards, reaching for his reigns. He missed and fell on the ground. From his chest protruded a large arrow, its feathers swayed back and forth as he breathed in and out. He looked around, still alive, and watched everyone begin picking up their things. Their huts rolled up, their idols all neatly packed onto the backs of the livestock. One woman walked over to him and leaned him forward carefully; seemingly to help him, but instead moved his horse out from behind him.
Left staring at the sky the warrior heard the villagers leaving, he could hear the elder speaking to his son. "Go, Timur, go with the village... they need their leader. Go beyond the reach of the Yuan, farther onto the steppe. There you shall be safe, make me proud." And darkness closed in around the warrior, relieving him of his pain. But things were not over so easily. In the cool breeze of the night, his eyes opened. Focusing on the points of light above him it was easy to forget he was alive. With what little strength he had he tried to get himself upright. His armor was all gone, the arrow pulled from his chest and bandaged crudely.
Looking around there was no sign of the town other than a hole in the grass, a padded circle of dirt. Even the feces of the livestock was nowhere to be seen, hidden by those who did not wish to be followed. Taking a deep breath, the warrior was filled with pain and fell to the ground, propped up by his hand. But deep down he tried to move on. Then, in front of him, was something that he had missed... the coin. He reached down and picked it up. It was a coin minted not by the Yuan, but by the Seljuks. It didn't mean much for him, but he knew life on the steppe was nothing like that back in India. He began walking toward the army base he had come from, but after a few steps he looked back at the coin. Was that really a month's income? For so many people? He folded his hand up, the coin carefully contained within, and began walking away from the base, trying to guess where the nomads had gone.
Yuan in India? It's great now to see the bits of the world we didn't see before. Lots of catching up on international stuffs to do!
I know I believe in nothing, but it is my nothing
Cogito Ergo Sum