1430-1438: The Hehn Legacy
Having added a vassal to protect on top of their own territory, Brunswick felt the need for more power via economic strength. Just months after the agreement with Holstein, trade regulations were again loosened.
Despite the death of Treasurer Schütze in May 1431, Brunswick was able to take advantage of the new policies and progress in trade technology in September.
This came on the heels of other advances in government and production techniques.
After the breakthrough Brunswick's researchers had little idea of the next step so another expert, Philipp Magnus Eickenroth, had to be hired.
June 1432 saw the collapse of Würzburg. Coupled with earlier conquests, a great Bavaria was born a bit south of Brunswick.
Thankfully, Brunswick still didn't have a direct border with the potentially dangerous Bavaria.
Finally on August 29th Albrecht II died in shady circumstances. Some contend that Brunswicker nobles had something to do with the death, especially after the cloak-and-dagger tactics applied in Holstein. This suggestion could be supported by the fact that one noble, August Karl von der Mark (a distant relative of Cleves' ruling family), rose to the throne swiftly and without opposition despite seeming, to the outside, to have a shaky claim at best. His promising son Erich was born some months into his reign and was named as the heir.
Meanwhile, Friesland was left with a regency and a good dose of Brunswicker wrath.
Only a week later Austria deemed it necessary to guarantee Brunswick's independence. It's believed that the suspicious internal proceedings led the Emperor to believe that Brunswick might be a source of unstability.
Johann Hehn died in February 1434 and was replaced by Julius Gruebel, the most talented Treasurer Brunswick had seen in a while.
August Karl found Hehn's death distressing as there was now no guarantee how long the Brunswick sympathies in Anhalt would last.
In April 1436 Brandenburg re-annexed Meissen. From Brunswick's point of view it was a very interesting war. Even after the annexation, Brandenburg was still fighting the relatively strong Hansa, as well as the Teutonic Order which seemed to be active despite the distance, launching naval operations. Brandenburg was allied with Bremen and, notably, Austria, but the Emperor was fighting Muscowy, Novgorod and some smaller nations in addition to the war where they sided with Brandenburg. Besides, the Austrians had very friendly relations with Brunswick, so all things considered it was entirely possible that they'd leave a Brunswick-Brandenburg conflict for the smaller nations to settle. August Karl I figured that this was the best chance he was going to get to conquer Anhalt while the inhabitants still considered themselves Brunswicker, even with Brandenburg outnumbering his armies three to one.
The courageous declaration of war in May turned out to be the right choice with the busy Austria staying out.
Brandenburg was only supported by Bremen, but Brunswick's ally Trier was also traitorous, so only vassal Holstein joined their overlord in the conflict. With Trier deserting him, August Karl used a familiar strategy, forming an alliance with Brabant early in the war in an effort to discourage backstabbers.
The war started well. Just after the Brunswicker army entered Anhalt, Hansa won their siege of Altmark. This led to Brandenburg's forces concentrating on that province.
With six thousand troops entering the war - a good number for a country of Brunswick's size, but less than they would have fielded with less hasty preparation - more were recruited in all Brunswick provinces. The army would have nine thousand men before any enemies were encountered.
With no harassment from Brandenburg troops, Anhalt fell in October.
In an effort to force Brandenburg to the table as soon as possible, August Karl decided to march towards Berlin itself. A small enemy force was disposed of while moving through Ruppin, and the capital was put under siege in December.
Unfortunately, the main Brandenburgian army won the siege of Altmark in January 1437 and continued to Anhalt. Anhalt fell before Brandenburg did, so the enemy still wasn't willing to budge when their capital was conquered in August. Instead, the 18000 men headed for Brunswick territory.
As a consolation, a white peace was secured with Bremen, while an alliance offer from the crumbling Lithuania was also accepted.
Brandenburg's troop numbers were a cause for much concern, so Brunswick's army went out of its way to slaughter small enemy forces in Neumark and Potsdam before settling for a new siege of Anhalt. Meanwhile, frantic war industry had led to scientific advances in both government and military fields.
With the King's troops in Anhalt, the province of Brunswick fell to Brandenburg's men in December. That army went on to relieve Altmark, again under the Hansa's siege, so the King left only a small detachment to Anhalt while the rest went home to quickly retake Brunswick. The assault was a huge success as the enemy hadn't had time to organize a proper defense.
After this, things would only go downhill for Brandenburg. They ended up losing the battle of Altmark, and afterwards August Karl I took his army to Ruppin where the weary Brandenburgers had fled. After a major Brunswick win in that province, the siege detachment in Anhalt had the honor of playing anvil to the King's army's hammer in March 1438.
The loss of their primary army prompted Brandenburg to sign white peace with the Teutonic Order. The Teutons had conquered Bremen earlier and, despite being soundly beaten by Austria, now managed to keep their spoils thanks to Brandenburg's desperation. This meant that Brandenburg was only at war with Brunswick and Holstein.
July brought major international news as the throne of Scotland was inherited by Sweden.
After a couple of minor victorious battles over the summer, Brunswick was able to occupy Anhalt again in September. This enabled peace negotiations.
In addition to gaining the province of Anhalt, Brunswick severely weakened their most dangerous immediate neighbor with forced releases. Thanks to signed alliances with the new nations, Brandenburg would have to go through Brunswick to regain their land.