Alright, the computer issue has been addressed, my classes are concluded, and I do not work today, so that means, time for an update. There will be no screenshots for this one because it covers two rather uneventful years. Hopefully I shall make it interesting for you readers.
3 April, 1401 Schwerin Castle, Mecklenburg
Ulrich von Mecklenburg was ecstatic. while he had not added any territory to Mecklenburg, he had expanded its influence immensely. He had secured a Personal Union with neighboring Saxe-Launenburg and, as the sole heir to the throne, any child that he and Amalia might have would inherit the nation. Brunswick and its ruler, Hendrick Milde von Welf, once hated rivals, were now obedient vassals. For all appearances, Brunswick was behaving for the time being. However, he was no fool. He knew the only reason they remained well behaved was because of Munster to their west. As long as Munster continued to support Mecklenburg, Brunswick had no chance at beating them. However, alliances tended to be fickle and he realized he needed to either increase his own power relative to theirs or else find another strong vassal to counterbalance against Brunswick. He made a note to consult Gustav about that the next time he saw him.
Magdeburg had also been forced into vassalization, however, unlike Brunswick, they were much more loyal. They were outmatched by Mecklenburg and they knew it. They also knew that the only reason that they had not been annexed was that Mecklenburg had not been the ones to occupy their lands. It was only a matter of time before Ulrich tried to annex them formally and they knew it.
The only black mark was that he had as of yet still failed to produce an heir to the throne. Even this, however, seemed to be a temporary situation, as Amalia seemed to have returned to her old self after the fall of Magdelena. She seemed much happier now and she and Ulrich were getting along remarkably well. The more time he spent with her, the more he also came to realize how clever she was. She had started offering small bits of advice on occasion in councils and, while she was told by Ulrich and Gustav politely and Heinrich less politely, that women were not generally supposed to speak in council, all three admitted that her ideas often held a fair bit of merit. He hoped that this intelligence would be passed to whatever child the couple had, but one never could tell with such things.
As he was thinking about the issue of the heir to the throne, his sister, Andrea, entered the room.
Andrea was 16 and was the talk of the court recently. She had just recently come of age and already their was talk of whom she was to marry. It did not help that as long as he currently had no heir, whoever married her would become the heir apparent to the Mecklenburg throne. As such, she was flocked by suitors day and night, from all the myriad courts of Europe. However, she had refused them all and Ulrich did not want to force her into marrying one of them. Privately, Ulrich thought he knew why she refused them. Growing up, she and Gustav, who was only 18, being the youngest of the three friends, had seemed to fancy each other. Recently, he believed that this may have turned into something more serious but he had not yet asked either of them about it yet.
"Hello brother, I take it everything is going well today"
"Yes it is Andrea, I was just thinking on my recent war."
"Then it is good I came down when I did, knowing you, if you think about it to much, your like to decide you like it and start another one right away."
At this, both brother and sister laughed. They had always been quite close and that was part of the reason that Ulrich refused to force her into a marriage, even though he knew she would probably not openly object to it.
It was then that Gustav also entered the room
"Ah, Ulrich, it is good that I found you, I was just coming to deliver this report and - oh, good afternoon Andrea, I hadn't noticed you there."
It was then that Ulrich realized that this was the perfect time to bring up the recent rumor, as the three of them were the only ones in the room.
"The report can wait for now, First, I have something I would like to ask you Gustav".
"Yes, sire, how may I be of service"
"There is a rumor circulating of late that you have taking a liking to my sister here. I would like to know whether their is any truth to this rumor".
The moment that he asked the question, both of them turned the brightest shade of red Ulrich had ever seen, and he knew he had his answer. As Gustav was struggling to come up with a way to answer the question, Ulrich spoke.
"There is no need to answer, I can see from your faces, which look like they have been out in the sun a little too long at the moment, that it is true. Do not worry, for I am not angry. In fact, I have another question for you Gustav. Would you like to marry my sister?
At this, Gustav was visibly shocked, he had thought he was in serious trouble. He expected to be scolded at the least and jailed at worst, but this he had not expected. After fumbling for words for a few minutes, he finally spoke up.
"Your grace, I would be honored to take your sisters hand in marriage, but I have to ask, why chose me? To be sure, I am a Count, but I am far from the largest landholder in the country and I hear tell that foreign rulers have been courting her, so why choose me among all these candidates?
"The answer is simple Gustav. You are the only one of them that I trust. The foreign rulers merely have their eyes on my crown should I die childless as do many of the domestic suitors. You, however, legitimately seem to care for my sister, if the rumor is indeed true, and I can trust you to carry on my legacy should the worst come to pass."
"Very well, old friend, as you say, I do indeed care very deeply for your sister and would be honored to have her hand in marriage and should the worst happen, I vow to carry on your legacy and make Mecklenburg a power to be reckoned with.
"Very well, I shall announce the engagement immediately. The marriage shall happen at the end of next month. Is this to your liking?"
"It is sire, now, if I may, I will return to the business I came to discuss."
Gustav then commenced with his report, though, to be far, his mind was most decidedly elsewhere. In just one month, he would be married to the woman he had fancied since he was a child and who he had recently come to love. However, he had never dreamed that he would actually be marrying her. He was simply not important enough outside of his post at the court. Now, he realized, all of his efforts had finally been rewarded.
A few weeks later. Schwerin castle.
This was the happiest moment of King Ulrich's life. As he stood there by his wife's side smiling, holding his newborn son in his hands, he had an immense feeling of pride.
As he stood their, looking at his newborn son, he knew he would make a mighty King. He looked strong, though who could be sure of such things where newborns are concerned, and if he inherited his mother's, or his, brains, he would make quite a King indeed. However, that was in the future, and who knew what this boy might turn out to be *. He handed his son back to his loving wife Amalia, who then held him close and smiled again.
Around him, his friends and advisors looked on with equal joy. Both Heinrich and Gustave were supremely happy for their King. Finally, he had a son, one who would hopefully grow to be a worthy heir. Gustav's own wife, Andrea, was currently pregnant and he waited with baited breath for the day that he could share his King's joy. He hoped the two children would grow to be just as good of friends as their father's were. Heirnich, on the other hand, could only imagine how his friend was feeling, still being a bachelor himself. He was, however, supremely happy for his oldest friend to finally have a son of his own
Thus did Mecklenburg gain a new heir to the throne. The King could now rejoice in the knowledge that his line would continue.
August 16, 1401 Schwerin Castle, Mecklenburg
Heinrich was beginning to get frustrated. He had been working for months to find a possible route of expansion and it just wasn't working. There was still as of yet no country that looked ripe for easy expansion. He was even more frustrated when he though of how high Gustav was rising. He had gone from Count to heir to the throne almost over night. While he was somewhat happy for his friend, a good part of him was jealous. Heinrich was an ambitious man and he had hoped to be the one to marry Andrea. He had served Ulrich for years and he felt he deserved something as a reward. He had hoped to secure command of the army so that he could enforce his claim to the throne should Ulrich died childless, or indeed, a small part of him had toyed with the idea of overthrowing the heir if one were to be born. However, despite his strong ambition, his loyalty to his friend, the king, was stronger. He believed in his friends vision of Mecklenburg as a great power and wanted to help him make it a reality. As long as the King lived, he would continue to serve him faithfully, but who knew what the future held? For now, Heinrich returned to his work, he believed he might have finally found a potential avenue for expansion. He would have to bring it to the King's attention at the January session of the Council.
January 1, 1401, Schwerin Castle, Mecklenburg
Ulrich took his place on the throne, his wife Amalia at his side. He then waited while his advisers took their seats in the council chamber.
"Alright, lets get down to business. First, Gustav, tell us how the diplomatic situation looks."
"As you will sire. As you know, Luneburg has recently secured an alliance with the Hanseatic League. While this is not a concern for the moment, it my well be in the future, as the Hanseatic League has had a dispute with the Danes over Holstein for some time. If they were to get drawn into a war between the two nations, they could be forced to break their alliance with us. As for our other ally Munster, they seem to be getting more and more unhappy with us. They have not forgotten how many lives were lost from their kingdom in the last war only for us to reap all the benefits, and I doubt they would help if called into another war. Luckily, however, this information has been kept from the Duke of Brunswick. This is good, because, while relations with Brunswick remain good, I still believe they are merely bidding their time to try and find an opportunity to break away. Should they sense even a hint of weakness, I have no doubt they will turn on us."
"Very good Gustav. Heinrich, have you had any luck in your search for targets of expansion?"
"I have your highness. I believe Pommerania may be ripe for expansion".
"What madness is this Heinrich, you know that we do not have the might to fight against Pommerania. Even if we did, we have no justification for war. Should we attack, we might have to fight the Holy Roman Emperor himself!"
That was the newest member of the council, Erick Askanier. The boy had proven himself a very loyal man and capable man. He had shown to have a sound military mind and that was why he was here. In addition to being in charge of the army of Saxe-Launenburg, Ulrich had made him his chief army adviser.
"At first glance, this may appear to be so, however, with your armies in Saxe-Launenburg and the support of our vassals in Brunswick and Magdeburg, not to mention Luneburg and Munster if they join, we should have the strength to defeat them, as they lack any truly frightening allies. As for a claim, I believe we may be in luck. Their heir is ill and many believe he will die soon. If that happens, his daughter becomes the new heir to the throne. If we arrange a marriage between her and someone from our country, we might be able to press a claim to their throne."
"That is not a bad plan, but it has one major fault, and that is that I have no male relatives to marry to his daughter. Also, he may say that it is a ruse to claim his throne."
"I realize this problem, yet I have a solution. I propose you adopt me as your brother. We have known each other since childhood and I have served you long and faithfully, it should not seem unusual. Then, you could arrange for my marriage to his daughter. As long as this is done before the prince dies, it should not seem overly suspicious, as the illness is a closely guarded secret and he will not be aware that we know about it. Moreover, he will see it as a chance to claim our throne, on however shaky a basis. He will never dream that we would try to claim his, based on how strong he is relative to us. Then, if his heir dies, you press your claim to his throne through me."
"I like the idea Heinrich. It is a perfect opportunity for us to expand. I shall adopt you as my brother, as Gustav is my brother-in-law. I will make the formal announcement after this meeting is over. Then, we will ask the King of Pomerania about the marriage. We will meet again in 6 months time to review the situation. dismissed".
At that, they all began to file out the door. Heinrich was very satisfied. True, this would give him a wife and Ulrich a chance to expand, but it also gave him something else. By adopting Heinrich as his brother, it gave Heinrich a claim on the Mecklenburg throne should he chose to press it on Ulrich's death. True, he would be third in the line of succession, behind young Friedrich and Gustav, however, Friedrich was still young and it was still unknown if he would survive to adulthood. Gustav, who had never shown any desire to be king, might also chose to decline the throne. Their was also the possibility of Gustav dieing before being a position to inherit, as all three men were still quite young. Who could say what the future held?
June 8, 1402, Schwerin Castle council chambers, Mecklenburg
It had been six months since their last meeting and much had happened. The heir to the Pommeranian throne had indeed died not long ago and now they were to discuss preparations for claiming the Pomeranian throne. Ulrich began the session by speaking first
"Alright, as you all know, the heir to the Pomeranian throne has recently died. This gives us an opportunity we cannot afford to pass up. An opportunity to both expand and eliminate one of our chief rivals in the area, one way or another. First, I will hear from Gustav about our allies opinions in this war."
"Thank you your majesty. As you know, Saxe-Launenburg, Brunswick, and Magdeburg are bound to follow us and follow us they will. Luneburg has also agreed to join us should we declare war. However, when I extended feelers to determine whether Munster would follow us into another war, my suspicions were confirmed. They are saying that they will follow us, but Heinrich has informed me that his contact says it is a front. The Archbishop has no intention of joining us. Too many of his men died in the last war for to little gain for him. However, I believe we have the strength to win the war without them and would advise calling them anyway, as the Archbishop may change his mind, as he did with the first war."
"Thank you Gustav, now it is Heinrich's turn to inform us on the forces our enemy has."
"Very well sire. I am afraid my news is not good. While Mecklenburg currently boasts a force of 2,000 men under arms, Pomerania has about 6-7,000 men under arms, and 8,000 according to some of my reports. They also have the ability to raise more troops should they need to and their province of Stettin can only be reach directly via Brandenburg, who will not give us military access, or by crossing a strait their navy can easily block. That means we will need to take a roundabout way to reach Stettin and Hinterpommern. That will give them time to replenish loses and raise more men. In any case, if Brunswick, Luneburg, Saxe-Launenburg, and Magdeburg join the war, I believe we have a chance.
"Very good, Eric, I want force estimates for our allies"
"As you will my liege. As you know, I currently command about 2,000 men. Magdeburg commands 1,000, though they can raise one more regiment if need be. Brunswick commands 6,000 men and Luneburg commands 2,000. All told, that puts our numbers at around 15,000 men total, and that is not counting Munster, who command another 6,000."
"Very good Eric. My friends, I have heard your council and I have made my decision. We will press our claim to Pommerania in 7 months and declare war shortly thereafter. That gives us 6 months to prepare for war. That is all, dismissed."
Ulrich von Mecklenburg could hardly believe what he had just said. true, Pomerania was no Bohemia, not even a Hansa, but it was still a respectable power in the region. If this backfired, it could yet again prove the end of Mecklenburg. However, yet again, Ulrich was willing to role the dice and risk everything on how they landed.