Damn. That gave me chills. Well written, Mr. C.
I can't wait to see Timur conquer the world before him. Who could stop him? All the states in the Near East are weak.
As for the Caliph... what a badass. He knew all along. It seems the Peer's time is almost up.
Nobody expects the Frandist Inquisition! I'm sorry... It was more powerful than me
I really like our Caliph Ramon. He's properly paranoid, and it seems he's set himself up to hold all the cards (the teddy bear was an awesome touch, both for you and Ramon). Under his rule, I think we'll have to bear with the Caliphate for a while longer.
See what I'm talking about? Even if the Caliph may be getting old, and become politically isolated, man, I LIKE that guy!
I know I believe in nothing, but it is my nothing
Cogito Ergo Sum
The Caliph is only 33 in 1380.
Update is still in the works... hopefully this weekend. I had a finished version, but felt it didn't really meet my quality standards... so this is like the 3rd/4th time I am rewriting it. Sorry.
Chapter Forty Six: Loss and Inheritance
Inheritance was often the law in feudal Europe. It was an extension of ownership and dominated the relations and workings of much of the world since the dawn of man. Earning something just lacked a certain prestige that one could have by inheriting it. The complicated and often twisted branches of family trees traced who would inherit what from whom. Inheritance would play a strong role in the reviving of Germany and the Germany's lead family: the Zähringers. Only now the part was played by the line of Zähringer-Holstein, the senior branch. When the line of Dukes in Styria, a lesser branch of the Zähringer line, went extinct, Styria was inherited by the senior line, essentially reviving Zähringer control over Germany and once again making Hamburg an important center for German law. But Styria was under a union, ruled from Hamburg as a semi-independent fief, holding back - for now - an explosive return to Zähringer dominance. In the west though; inheritance was being ignored and the armies of the Caliph stirred for the first time in a long, long while. Caliph Ramon III Mahoma sought to end the threat to his own reign and the increasing authority of the Prince-Bishop of Baiona over the Peers by invading the Peerdom of Navarre. It was his plan to split up the Peerdom and stick more favorable rulers onto the different thrones. He was effectively putting a temporary end to the Inquisition and overthrowing the Prince-Bishop in a single swoop. But for the Caliph, it was a time for desperate measures. To Ramon, the crown was the most important thing for Barcelona. To lose the title of Eternal King of Europe now would mean to lose it forever.
Lands of the Zähringers with the German lands for comparison. Sverge is no longer part of the Caliphate.
July 9th, 1380
The war was far from Barcelona's walls, but Caliph Ramon was as nervous as ever. He had caused quite a shock by quickly and decisively starting a war and seemingly winning it in a week. The armies of Navarre, scattered to help enforce the Inquisition, were quickly defeated by the larger army of Barcelona. But now, one month into the war, things were stagnating. The Vasques did what Vasques seemed to do in times of peril: retreat into the mountains and fight it out where they had the advantage. Now it was a war of attrition, though Ramon was confident that holed up in the mountains the Vasques would quickly starve with minimal effort on the part of his troops. Instead, the vast majority of the Caliph's armies were in France settling down the provinces of Guyenne and Limoges.
Back in Barcelona, though, there were still many risks. Many were political. Ramon was accused of the greatest blasphemies by the clerics and nobles alike for invading Baiona and ousting the Prince-Bishop. Hermann was now a prisoner in Barcelona, to be tried for treason and maybe even heresy. But some of the threats were physical. There were some that wanted to see Ramon dead before the end of the year and the crown passed to someone outside of Iberia. Since Ramon himself had last his heir to disease, the most likely contender was the Peer of Normandy. A Gaulish Caliph would likely be a powerful one. To move the capital to Paris would mean a central ruler who was better connected to a greater area of the Caliphate. It would also mean greater support from the lowlands and Italia, which often empathized with the Gauls.
"Doom." Ramon said aloud, even with no one to hear him. "A Caliph in Barcelona, Urbino, or Hamburg would mean doom." He flipped through his papers to a map of the Empire. It would fall... the Caliphate could not survive for very long. Forged in war, it was brittle. One or two strikes in the right place and the whole thing would shatter into a million little pieces, scattered on the floor like snowflakes. What then? What happens in a Europe without the Caliphate? Does Christianity return? Does Frandism splinter like the Christians did without their Pope?
"Hmm," Ramon's lips buzzed. He thought of the Prince-Bishop, he needed to appoint a new one. But one that all the Frandists could turn to. It meant adding yet another variable into the shifting politics of the Caliphate. He tapped his fingers on the desk as he thought. A major mess could be on his hands. Baiona was his to do with as he pleased, so far the plan seemed to be to give it to the province of Guyenne; the Prince-Bishop needed a mosque, not a country. What I need to do, Ramon thought, is find the descendents of Ferran and appoint them Prince-Bishop. A hereditary monarchy would be easier to predict.
Caliph Ramon III's plan for a post-war Iberia.
Suddenly a spring of frustration welled up and burst in his mind. He took the nearest object, a vase, and threw it against the wall letting a shower of flowers and glass rain down on the far side of the room. It had almost been an automatic reflex. Had he truly earned so much contempt from his peers? All he had done was try to defend his realm and what was his. In waging this one war did he not prevent the disintegration of the Caliphate? Ramon sighed and then walked over to the broken vase. As he suspected, it was unsalvageable. The flowers too, were ruined. A moment's insanity had forever destroyed something beautiful. "Dammit," he said aloud. He opened his door and called for a maid to clean up the mess and replace it. He gave no explanation to why. He left his room and headed out onto the balconies that ringed his palace. There the beautiful summer's weather calmed him. The bright sun warmed his soul and the ocean breeze reminded him why he was willing to defend Barcelona. This was truly the city of mythical Kings.
Depression and sorrow hung over the palace like a muddy blanket. Ramon walked past his wife and they didn't even exchange words. She still sulked over the death of their only son and was too beset to seek comfort in his arms. He only reminded her of their son. Again, somehow everything was his fault. Maybe it was because he had tried to remain stern and placated; somehow above the death of his son. He had tried to appear strong in front of the rulers of Europe. Maybe he had only appeared unattached. Had he done the same with the death of his friend, his long time mentor? He found a quiet place in the gardens and sat down, alone. Looking around he could see the great city walls, they were rivaled only by the walls of Constantinople. Though, that comparison was used less and less the more Constantinople fell. Barcelona was strong, it was independent. These walls would fall to no mortal army, Ramon thought. "Here, I am master." If he lost everything else, he hoped he could at least keep Barcelona.
He glanced around; the gardens seemed empty, though that could be a bad thing. He got up and walked toward the doors back to the palace. There two faithful guards stood at attention. But was he really safe, if anything the greatest danger to his life was his growing paranoia. Despite his victory he was worried. There could still be assassins and lunatics lurking all around. The Gauls and the Germans were uneasy having a Peer overthrown so easily. They saw that the Caliph still yielded ultimate authority and it was something they feared. Something they craved for themselves. As a child he wondered why his father always looked so serious, so under pressure. He had thought being Caliph would be easy; that he'd spend all day being taken care of and pampered. The reality he had found was anything but. He was not some petty land owner whose only cares were what color the walls should be painted and whether or not to plant more flowers. People counted on him whether they knew it or not, whether they liked it or not. The stress added up. It aged him as it had aged his father. His brow was deeply furrowed, the lines around his face faded. There was no time to smile. The bags under his eyes grew daily. The worrying, the worrying was omnipresent. It lurked over him while he slept and followed him during his walks. Something bad was always on everyone's lips. No one ever seemed to have anything good to say. It was seriously begun to torment him; that even in victory he had lost something. Everything came with a price and he was running out of credit.
When his mother had died, he had thought nothing of it. He had hardly seen her. She was removed, divided from him by rings of nannies and tutors. He was only a small child; he could hardly understand what it meant, or who she was. Now he regretted it slightly. Not too much, for he had barely known her. But he felt like he should feel bad about it, so he did. Returning to the center of the garden and to his thought he felt like he did not fear death itself, he feared how he would get there. If he was lucky, he would know who did it to him. So on that thought, he left the gardens and returned to his personal chambers. By now he should have a new vase and flowers and he could maybe forget all the things that tormented him. So he cheered up a bit and headed back inside thinking he could open the windows and enjoy a fresh drink and keep his mind on the few wonderful things that still intersected with his life.
How come it's name is Sverge? Svearike is old norse and Sverige modern, I can't help but be a little confused at the lack of the i in rike/rige (Realm). Apart from that, I love the maps, they make the updates so much more enjoyable I find.
Edit: fixed grammar and want to add this point; once Christian Sweden is conquered, Sverge will just be called "Sweden". But while there are two floating around I have given them different names.
Last edited by Mr. Capiatlist; 12-02-2012 at 18:13.
Argh, update this weekend, I promise. This week has had a year's worth of highs and lows. So I am looking forward to doing some writing.
Chapter Forty Six: Loss and Inheritance
Frandism found it hard to move farther north, though it was gradually making gains. The Norse were relatively recent converts to Christianity, and they had always had their own blend of the religion, especially in the far reaches of Norway and Sweden. When Catholicism ended, the Norse took matters into their own hands. The preached a gospel that made sense for them. Old topics, once left for the pagans, slowly crept back in. Like Revisionism, the Norse Rites was a warrior religion. They preached that heaven was divided into provinces, or Shires. Each had a purpose, but the one all men aspired to was to get into the Shire of Warriors; a Christian Valhalla. Gabriel, with an entourage of angels (usually shown as female, though their gender is never mentioned in the main books of the Norse Rites) would bring the souls of slain crusaders up into this special realm within heaven to live forever and become Christ's warriors when judgment day finally arrived. Known officially as the Church of Christ, Victor; the Norse Rites spread throughout Scandinavia, Iceland, Scotland, Ireland and Northern England. But many followers, especially in the British Isles, eventually turned to Revisionism. Even today, the Norse Rites are an important part of the Christian landscape. They are not the largest or loudest group, but almost a point of interest. Their suffering at the hands of many occupiers both foreign and domestic moved many to support the protection of dying practices and minority groups.
June 23rd, 1381
Had he cried when he heard his mother had died? Like he had when his father had passed? Caliph Ramon thought about it, trying to remember that day, so many years ago. It had almost been a passing gesture. All he remembered was the sorrow in his father's eyes. When his father had died, did he understand the dynamics of death better? Or had he just felt the weight of everyone's expectations on his back? His life had fallen apart around him, but the Caliphate stood strong. The rebellions had been crushed, the plans foiled, his enemies left ruined in the wake of everything. The Caliph had sacrificed everything to the cause of peace. The stress had been too much for his wife, it was becoming too much for him. And so, he chose to make a change: to do something; to fix it all. He stood out on his balcony and looked down at the ground below him. The air was filled with the singing of children. He took a deep breath and sat down.
He lifted a glass to his mouth and enjoyed a drink of sweet fruit and the sharp bitterness of alcohol. He smiled. Life was good when you locked your problems on the other side of a stone wall. A gentle breeze wafted over his face and brought the smells of the city: baked bread, cooked meat and fresh fish. A serene grace had come over the city, and the people rejoiced in their leader's victory. To them it was not about the Caliphate, it was about national pride and safety. There was also something to be said about victory. The states in the Caliphate turned their attention back to Barcelona as the center of the Empire. For all their saber-rattling, the Germans and French had yet to gain a strong victory against their rivals within the Caliphate. They were looking weak, while Barcelona looked strong. They knew that the Caliph would defend his situation and honor. What had the Germans accomplished: defeating weak and depopulated Christian states like Sweden or Bohemia?
"Bah," Ramon said aloud. With the warm sun above him, he just relaxed in his chair and slipped off into a well-deserved nap. For the first time in many years he didn't have a single care in the world. He knew that had Txomin been here, he would have approved. And so, it was in victory and the defense of the Caliphate that Ramon had honored his friend, his mentor, his Peer. "Good bye, Txomin," Ramon said. Sleep came to him easily. And for the first time it was a still dream filled with happy people and rolling hills. The Caliph did not know what tomorrow would bring, but today was for happiness and he left it at that.
In the north, King Tomas von Zähringer-Schweden had watched the events in the Caliphate carefully. He was at a crossroads: he could either move south or he could continue to push for domination of Scandinavia. The idea of uniting Germany from a position outside of the Caliphate had crossed his mind before, and as a legal successor of the Zähringer Kings of Germany, he believed that the German people would have flocked to his banner. But with the Caliph's victory, the King was worried that Germany had slipped from his grasp. So be it, he thought. There was still Scandinavia and the biggest fish to fry: Prussia.
The 'petty' Baltic Kingdoms. Prussia's dominance over the Baltic left the other Baltic states under a constant watch. At its height in the XIV and XV Centuries, Prussian became the court language for both Christian and Frandist Sweden. It was the only language understood by both the foreign monarchies and the native nobles and merchants.
Despite being German and despite only recently actually moving to the nation he ruled; Tomas was quick to pick up on the rivalries of his people. The Swedes had once ruled the Baltic, but for the last century or more had been marginalized by the expanding Prussian state. They were a warrior people and Tomas was interested in harnessing their talents and using it for the expansion of Frandism and his own authority in the northern reaches of Europe. But it meant making himself seem like less of a foreigner, which was hard. But what he could do was adopt the same enemies, convince the natives that he was on their side in some epic and noble struggle. He knew there was a huge risk involved as Prussia had invaded Sweden for less in the past. If this was truly the path he had been forced, Tomas knew that he'd have to unite Scandinavia. As three states they were weak. Only he had the strength to unite them all. He controlled the populated south, all the major cities and trading ports.
The Sweden and Norse were left in the same spot he was in: foreigners ruling a strange land. Norway was the best off with a slim Christian majority. Sweden on the other hand saw a handful of Swedish nobles ruling over mostly Sami pagans. They were just as weak as his fragile state. But they had each other; he on the other hand was isolated. He had played his cards the best he could. Trading isolation from neighboring states like Holstein and Prussia to help placate the locals. Now his sons would be forced to marry the daughters of lesser nobles or even Christians. He was in quite the situation. What now?
"My lord, the envoy from the Sami has arrived," Tomas turned to see his man-servant standing at attention.
He looked unhappy which prompted Tomas' question, "What is wrong?"
"I am not happy that we are bargaining with such barbarians."
"We are not bargaining. I have my offer for them; they can take it or be conquered. There is no reason to make the conquest of the Christians any harder." Tomas walked out of his office and into the throne room where the envoy waited. He saw several large tribal men and their sons waiting. They seemed not to notice the King as he entered; instead they talked amongst themselves and seemed not to care. "Gentlemen, I am happy to see that you've heeded my call."
With this they turned around and looked Tomas up and down and seem to lose interest once again. But the envoy stepped forward and started, "My lord, you have contacted the Sami with promises of land and rule. But how do we know that we are not simply trading Christian masters for Muslim ones?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, the Prussians have offered to fund our resistance and we play an important role in the politicking of free Finland."
"Wait... the Prussians?" Tomas asked, disheartened.
"You didn't honestly believe that Prussia didn't already have an interest at stake in Scandinavia?"
Tomas cursed under his breath, "They want to see us divided! They want to see us weak!"
"No," the envoy said, "they want to see you divided and they want to see you weak. They don't give a rat's ass about what us Sami do. They just pay us to make your life miserable. And they pay well. So? What are you going to do to convince us to work for you?"
I think the world needs more Sami diplomats. They speak the truth.
ooohhh the Swedes are getting uppity agian.
nice to see the Caliph is safe and his realm stabilised. Long may he live
Pesky Swedes. Ramon sounds like a pretty cool guy, and at least the Danes are still inependent from the Caliphate!