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Thread: The oad not taken: A Volgar Bulgaria AAR

  1. #21
    Biding their time
    Part 1

    Burtasy, Volga Bulgaria
    July 19th, 1075
    2:00 PM

    The Sultan Khalid bin Ja'afar was travelling to Burtasy to inspect the recently constructed Royal Post; in his party were Chancellor Alp Arslan, the great scribe, now chronicler for Khalid, Al-Fadl and several guards. The troupe had trekked the long road system recently constructed stopping at various small villages along the road all now more prosperous then before but finally the gates of the fortress near Burtasy was in sight. Alp Arslan rode ahead of his master and spoke with the guard on duty then returned to Khalid. The Chancellor lowered his head and looked back at the man.

    "My…my Lord, the guard is well…sire the man is intoxicated! As drunk as the Rus barbarians!" The chancellor spoke invigorated.

    Without speaking a word, Khalid kicked his horse and took off towards the gate master, enraged, ready to destroy him. Upon reaching the visibly drunk man, the Sultan dismounted the horse and marched up to the offender.

    "What is your name, Soldier?" The man just stared. "Tell me. I AM YOUR SULTAN!!" Kol'n roared inches from the scared man's face.

    "My name is Yusuf bin al-Hawari…my Lord." The guard said in a very slurred style almost unintelligible to any but himself.

    Khalid turned to his guards and motioned for them to take the man's place at the gates. Yusuf stumbled away into the city and off down a long street disappearing. Alp Arslan, Al - Fadl and the Sultan all set off through the streets of the city looking for the commander, a man called Abu 'Abd al - Malik; he had been stationed in the city for many months after converting when Khalid first entered the city several years ago. Finally the royal post was in sight, it was a tall white tower with the Dulo family crest proudly embossed just above the door entrance; upon reaching the gate the men dismounted from their horses tying them up outside.

    Opening the door to the tower Alp Arslan stepped in first and greeted a portly man sitting down just inside dressed in light armor with black robes over them. Before the man sat a large bottle of honey wine half empty and two others lay completely empty on the floor beside him. When the Sultan entered, the man straightened himself and came to as much attention as he could in his inebriated state. Khalid has visibly enraged as he stood before the man, causing him to slap the man's face and retract his hand for a punch.

    "I demanded to know the meaning of this! You are Muslims! Followers of Allah! And I see you drunk?! What explanation do you have for yourself? " Sultan Khalid's face had become very red and he had placed one hand on his sword waiting for the man's answer.

    "al - Fayyad told us it was O.K. to drink mead and honey wine. Who you like some, my Lord?" Abu 'Abd al - Malik said slowly trying not to mess up any words.

    Khalid angrily seized the drunk and pulled him over the table slamming him to the ground. "GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE! Wait for us outside the door." Khalid said tossing the commander from the room and slamming the large wooden door behind him. The Sultan looked around the room in anger before opening his mouth to speak to the two other men in the room.

    "What is this? These people were never pious Muslims but to be drinking like this? And al - Fayyad, I appointed that man. He was an upright and true follower of Muhammad. I must correct this at once, no Muslim in my lands will be defying the word of Allah!" Khalid said enraged and confused.

    Alp Arslan raised an eyebrow and leaned into his Sultan before speaking. "This could work in our favor if we spread this reform throughout the country, it could work to increase conversions but might alienate us slightly from the rest of the Muslim world. Which doesn't mean much for us in the long run, they will still trade here regardless, my Lord."

    The Sultan stroked his beard and then narrowed his eyes keenly. "Make it so and al - Fadl, do not record this conversation."

    [Secretly he did record it but hid this moment until after his death in 1113.]


    Royal post in Burtasy. Constructed c. 1075

    Last edited by theblacksheep; 18-02-2011 at 16:12.

  2. #22
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    But those are cold lands... we need something to warm ourselves?

  3. #23
    Enewald - True and in the immortal words of Vladimir I of Kiev, it is the "very joy of their lives."

    Note to readers - Some minor changes in format will be coming in the next update but only to add more flavor and more of a glimpse into the world of the Sultans.

  4. #24
    Biding their time
    Part 2

    Men rise from one ambition to another: first, they seek to secure themselves against attack, and then they attack others. ~ Niccolo Machiavelli

    Starting the spring of 1074, Sultan Khalid ordered the construction of a road to run through the countryside of Sryt and eventually meet up with other roads to be constructed later in Bolgar, Kama, Cheremisa and Chuvash. During it's construction the royal court was moved into the White Castle in the south to allow Khalid to micromanage the building of his road, which was to be paved in red stones and framed by granite mined from the Ural mountains by Slavic and Finno-Ugric slaves from the conquered Mordvin tribes. An outbreak of Small Pox prompted the Sultan to abondon his micromanagement plans and return to Bolgar just before the highway was completed. Upon reaching the city, news reached him that a revolt had broken out in Chuvash over their treatment by Adam Dulo.

    The Sultan arrived in Chuvash in the fall of 1074 and forcibly put down the revolt by executing the ringleaders in the town square. Before leaving, a warning was posted throughout the city in Volga-Bulgar and Mordvinic stating that any revolts were seen by the crown as an act of high treason and punishable by death, which would be in the form of burning at the stake. The hope was that this warning would make local troublemakers think twice as no revolts to date had been successful but that hope was grossly misplaced. When Khalid returned to Bolgar, things in the Sultanate calmed down but he was still very hungry for conquest and another opportunity for it came in the form of a civil war in Cumania, started by the Chief of Sugrov; this fortunate turn of events corresponded with the finishing of the central road system which the Sultan was more than eager to test. A messenger was dispatched from Bolgar heading towards Sugrov to inform them of the coming war with the Volga Bulgarians but the warning came just days before a grand Muslim army reached the fields of the pagan Cuman.

    The battle that ensued at Khopyor was short but incredibly bloody, fully two-thirds of the pagan army lay dead while the Volga Bulgarians only suffered minor loses but the Chief of Sugrov was not about to surrender any lands to Khalid just yet. The siege lasted through the earliest parts of the spring with little resistance as Sökmen of Sugrov was busy trying to keep the Cuman armies out of his capital but to no avail. By April of 1075, the city was on the verge of surrender when a troupe Muslim converts inside seized control of the gates by killing the guardsmen; the mob opened the gates allowing a flood of Volga Bulgarian soldiers to enter. A third of the cities pagan population was put to the sword and it's Muslims were elevated to leadership positions. The converts were distinguished from their neighbors by painting the name of Allah above the doors to their homes and by praying in the town square when the soldiers stormed in. Ten days after Khopyor fell, on April 29th, Sökmen met Khalid in Burtasy to sign a peace treaty granting the city to it's conqueror and resigning himself to a life of exile as the rest of his lands had been stripped from him just a few days before. Soon the Sultan would return to Bolgar victorious but with his personal demesne too large, prompting him to grant his original Sheikdom of Zyraine to Alp Arslan Salah, his chancellor and very close friend.


    Sultan Khalid bin Ja'afar entering Khopyor after Muslims opened the gates. Painted in the mid-XVII Century.

  5. #25
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Map?
    Damn Muslims opening gates.

  6. #26
    Here is the map I forgot to post:

    Volga Bulgaria's political subdivisions c. 1075


    There will be an update, hopefully, later today about the Cuman Civil War to kinda make up for my mistake. Enjoy.

  7. #27
    Enewald - Those Muslims sure do enjoy opening gates, especially when they've been drinking.

  8. #28
    Human Enewald's Avatar
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    Rule Wolga, rule the east!
    Keep expanding!

  9. #29
    Enewald - Don't worry, I shall continue to expand. The Rus will one day tremble at the fear of war with the Volga Bulgarians.

  10. #30
    Cuman Civil War

    Sharu-Khan, the former King of the Cuman had expanded his country but placed a lot of strain on her Crimean territories trying to rule over land so far away. He had ignored the vassals and shunned them at every chance, the man had held the people together under the simple force of his personality, though it would prove to not be enough. The battle of Itil in the summer of 1072 marked the beginning of the civil war, in a largely symbolic manner, with the death of Prince Umur after being abandoned by the armies of his father's vassals to fight off a Muslim horde from Derbent that had come to attack the Kingdom. This war with Derbent would cost the Cuman and their leaders far more than any of them had expected it to, taking nearly a year and half to fight the Azerbaijani invasion force back across the border and nearly all of the money throughout the land. The greatest cost though, came in the winter of 1073 with the death of Sharu-khan and the ascension of Prince Ridvan (13) to the throne. The boy was entirely unready for the responsibilities of power and to make things worse, he was straddled with a bankrupt treasury and several disloyal vassals.

    In Sharukan, the Chief whose name is simply recorded by the Volga Bulgarians as "The Demon, or al-Iblis" as he was a renowned soldier and a feared general as the man was recorded to be "cruel by standards only achievable by a godless heathen", sought to place himself on the throne of Cumania ruling as King. Al-Iblis garnered the support of Sökmen of Sugrov and Sirҫan of Crimea who both eagerly awaited the chance to gain lands at the expense of their liege. The conspirators attacked swiftly, almost before Ridvan's advisors even heard of their treason and they met with great initial success, taking full control of Desht-i-kipchak just days after the young King departed. Ridvan quickly traveled the Itil and assembled a large force behind his Marshal Kabuksin, who was sent north to fight the rebellious chiefs and bring peace back to the Kingdom.

    By the summer of 1075, Sugrov and Crimea had been beaten back by Kabuksin but al-Iblis remained a thorn in his side so far having refused to meet in open battle, instead opting to make a series of raids on the King's territory. In June 1075 the war had attracted the attentions of the Christians and seeing the momentary weakness of the strongest pagan Kingdom, they attacked en masse; the first to attack was the Byzantine Empire, spearheaded by the Prince of Cherson who had been looking hungrily at the lands of Southern Crimea for some time. Knowing the Greeks would soon arrive in the south and overrun all but the most fortified of towns, Kabuksin looked for quick solutions to the war with al-Iblis. When the first peace offer reached the rebellious chief, he laughed at it and the suggestion of him returning to the fold of Cumania; he had seen the coming Greek attack as a blessing, even planning a major offensive for the fall months. Torn between two fronts and with his troops beaten and worn, the leadership of the Cuman armies had a tough decision to make. Their options were simple, defend the south against the Greeks leaving the north to al-Iblis, defend the north leaving Crimea to the Greek hordes, or try to defend both fronts and lose everything.

    While the Cuman deliberated, their foes knew exactly what there plans were and both acted on them in mid-September forcing the Kingdom into the position they had long dreaded, defending the north and south from attack. Al-Iblis was the first to attack, bringing all of his rested forces to bear and catching the army just as it was departing for the south the defend against the Byzantines. Only half the army could stand and fight whilst the other half continued towards Crimea and what seemed to be certain defeat. The Demon's armies completely annihilated the forces assembled against them and began to besiege Desht-i-kipchak; the King's armies suffered a similar fate in Crimea, losing fully half of their army in the first day of battle. When word reached Ridvan, it is recorded that he wept for the lose of his Kingdom and begged the gods to take his life. Al-Iblis would take control of the capital and Sugrov it before the first snowfall of the year but the Byzantine campaign would last through the winter and see them take control of Crimea, with hungry looks at the much weaker al-Iblis. Peace was signed with Ridvan in the old royal palace in Desht-i-kipchak; terms were simple, the King would surrender all conquered cities to their current controller. This granted the Prince of Cherson, all of Crimea and al-Iblis received Sugrov and Desht-i-kipchak.


    The belligerents in the Cuman Civil War c. 1074
    1. Chiefdom Crimea
    2. Principality of Cherson



    The Cumania after the civil war c. 1076

  11. #31
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    Is Sharukhan a duchy?

  12. #32
    Enewald - No it is not. It is quite likely that one or more of his provinces went to his son after the war but I made the map to show the immediate results of the war.

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