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Thread: The Red Lioness of Holland

  1. #1

    The Red Lioness of Holland

    Country: Holland / Netherlands
    Starting Point: October 1399
    Game Version: MiscMods 0.78 DW. After 1417, changed to Death and Taxes 3.4
    AAR Style: Narrative / Textbook


    Table of Contents

    Prologue (1399 - 1416)

    The Reign of William VI (October 1399 - August 1401) [this post]
    Jacqueline's Childhood (September 1401 - June 1416)

    Jacqueline von Wittlesbach, The Red Lioness of Holland (1416 - ?)
    The Regency Council (June 1416 - August 1416)
    The Declaration (September 1416 - October 1416)
    The Gambit (November 1416 - December 1416)
    The Price of Peace (January 1417 - April 1417)
    A Second Try (April 1417 - November 1420)
    A Tempting Proposal (November 1420)
    God's Glorious Standard (November 1420)
    Grief and Negotiations (November 1420 - June 1421)
    The Netherlands Unification War (June 1421 - June 1425)
    The Outrage (March 1427)
    The Northern Trade War (April 1427 - January 1430)
    Bonus Bios #1: Emperor Sigsimund
    Mothers and Daughters (1430 - 1433)
    Strange Men From Strange Lands (1434 - 1435)
    The Second Partition of Burgundy (1436 - 1437)

    Prologue


    The political situation in Holland had been dominated since 1350 by an intermittent conflict between two factions of the nobility, the Hooks and the Cods. When Empress Margaret of Bavaria inherited Holland in 1345, she sent her son William to rule in her name. William arrived with many new ideas and was determined to implement them. Five years later, the conservative Hooks had become dissatisfied with William's leadership, and requested that Margaret come to Holland to reign personally. The more progressive Cods had benefited from William's reign and backed him against his mother. Although the Hooks and their English allies were defeated by William in 1351 at the Battle of Vlaardingen, the conflict had already taken on a life of its own in the form of dozens of petty acts of retribution between the lower nobility and the feud lasted far beyond its root causes.

    William V's rule did not last long, however, and he was declared insane in 1358. William's younger brother, the twenty two year old Albert I of Hainaut was appointed regent of Holland, thus joining Holland and Hainaut under a single ruler. Albert concentrated most of his attention on his home territories of Hainaut, leaving Holland's nobility to their own devices. Despite the ongoing low grade conflict between the Hooks and Cods, Albert's unobtrusive reign was prosperous if unremarkable for Holland.

    This general state of affairs lasted until 1392, when Albert grew infatuated with a young Hollander woman named Aleid van Poelgeest he met during one of his visits, and took her as a mistress. Aleid was a Cod, and she developed significant political influence with her lover. The balance of power that had been maintained for forty years was suddenly badly upset in the Cod's favor. Desperate, the Hooks conspired with members of Albert's own household to murder the twenty two year old Aleid. They succeeded, but when the identity of the conspirators became known, Albert went into a violent rage. He marched with his army, conquering castle after castle, determined to bring the Hooks responsible to justice.

    When the dust had settled, Albert returned to Hainaut, disgusted with Holland and its intrigue, and in 1394 he appointed his 29 year old son William VI to administer Holland in his name. Relations between son and father had never been very good, and if Albert had intended this move as a way of smoothing things over with his son, it would prove to be a gross miscalculation.


    William VI is pictured here, age 35.


    With Holland as his base of power, William VI consolidated his own strength around his Cod allies and plotted. Like his namesake uncle, he had many novel ideas, and used them to liberalize trade even further. He broke up certain guilds when he believed increased competition would profit the state, and formed others in formerly free trades. Complaints from the Hooks that had survived Albert's wrath grew loud enough that Albert sent a series of increasingly demanding letters to his son, all of which William ignored. By early 1399, it had become clear that Albert intended to soon revoke his son's authority in Holland. William was determined to strike first.

    By coincidence, in October 1399, all of Western Europe exploded into war. The most recent truce in the Hundred Years War ended when Henry of Bolingbroke ascended to the English throne. The French, believing Henry had no intention of respecting the truce, launched an attack against all of the English possessions on the continent. At the same time, King Philippe the Bold of Burgundy tried to press his claim against Liege, and found himself embroiled in a conflict with a large number of smaller German states, including those to the east of Holland, Brabant and Gelre. Surrounded by chaos, William knew there would be no better time to escape his father's thumb.

    After securing permission from the Burgundians, William told the army to march south, and only once they approached the city of Mons, capital of Hainaut and seat of his father, did he explain his purpose to his men. In a grand speech within sight of Mons, he told them that for too long, Holland had been ruled from afar, and that on this day, they would declare their independence. It was a bold and unexpected move, and a questionable one, not least because William himself was the son of a German and a Pole, and not in the least Dutch. But as the army dithered, a few well placed bribes put down the last dissent within the army's commanders, and the Hollander troops that ostensibly owed allegiance to Albert were now all too happy to work for his son. The unsuspecting Germanic troops still loyal to Albert were bivouacked outside the city walls, and William's Hollander troops descended upon them and slaughtered them.



    What remained of Albert's personal army escaped into the city, and the gates were closed mere seconds before William's troops could. Distraught, William began a siege of Hainaut. Messengers quickly brought word of outraged declarations of war by both Brittany and, most distressingly, the Holy Roman Emperor himself. William knew he had to take the city and end the war before Bohemia's forces could be brought to bear, otherwise he would quickly find himself dead or worse.

    While generally lost in the chaos of that bloody year, William VI's betrayal of his father still managed to filter into the ears of many nobles around Europe, shocking all. William was seen as a betrayer and an illegitimate usurper, something that would hinder his diplomatic efforts for years to come. Still, offers of alliance came flooding in from various German states. Knowing what little help they would be against the might of Bohemia and fearing getting dragged into other conflicts, they were all politely rebuffed.

    The siege moved slowly. William had no true siege equipment, and his Hollander troops had little experience making them. His men pillaged the countryside for food to survive the winter as the century turned. By 1400, word had reached him of the less dangerous of his opponents having landed two thousand men on the shores of Holland.



    With his men agitated to go defend their homeland, the newly proclaimed Count William of Holland had no choice but to leave a token force to prevent his father from resupplying and march home.



    Though victorious on the field, his enemies managed to retreat their army in good order. He pursued them into Burgundy, only to find that they had boarded transports and had outflanked him, now besieging Amsterdam itself. He gave chase again, defeating the army from Brittany a second time, but he was unable to make the battle decisive, and they withdrew with light casualties.

    William's army spent the Christmas of 1401 at home in Amsterdam, with more than a year having passed since his initial declaration of war. Unable to vigorously siege his father's castle in Mons while defending Holland at the same time, and receiving reports of the Bohemian Emperor's approach, William's mood was gloomy. By early February, with the Emperor's armies closing, the army was unhappily preparing to abandon their homeland and march back to Hainaut, and William visited his wife for what he believed would be the last time.

    William had been married to his wife, Margaret of Burgundy, daughter of Philippe the Bold, for nearly sixteen years, yet they had produced no children together. History does not record exactly why. There are reports of bad blood between the couple in some accounts, even rumors that Margaret used various herbal methods to prevent herself from conceiving, supposedly as retaliation for William's womanizing. Other contemporary writers dismiss these rumors as falsehoods. Regardless of the truth of things, we do know that Margaret became with child during the last weeks of William's visit home, and that the couple's relationship was a positive one thereafter.

    When scouts reported the Bohemian army only miles away, William's forces managed to escape southward through friendly Brabant, and William returned to his siege of Hainaut. The next nine months would be a race of sieges.



    The Bohemians had overwhelming numbers on their side, and had brought large numbers of 'ribaudekin', or primitive cannons. Though not particularly effective, the terrible noise they caused, bombarding the city day in and day out, was a powerful intimidation factor. Margaret calmly and bravely led the city of Amsterdam during the siege. Hollander ships controlled the sea, ensuring that food would not be a problem, but Bohemia had no need to starve them out. Over the months, the Bohemians tried to breach Amsterdam's walls seven times, and though their own casualties were horrific, each assault was barely repelled by Amsterdam's increasingly exhausted defenders. Heedless of her own safety, an increasingly pregnant Margaret made daily rounds of the walls, taking the time to meet, talk and pray with the shrinking number of defenders. All accounts agree that her leadership was invaluable during the siege.


    The layout of the city of Amsterdam


    In August, isolated and unaware of William's troubles at home, Albert I agreed to a parlay with his son. In a stroke of diplomatic genius, William secured a treaty with his father, granting William's reign in Holland legitimacy. Albert, who had feared William desired the throne of Hainaut as well, believed he was getting off easy. That belief was quickly shattered once the siege was lifted and he discovered the truth of William's dire situation. Albert was utterly enraged by his son's duplicity, but the treaty was signed, and a victorious William rode hard home, presenting it, ink still fresh, to an incredulous Emperor Vaclav von Luxemburg of Bohemia.



    In the last days of the siege, on August 16th 1401, Margaret gave birth to a daughter that she and her husband named Jacqueline. One historical account tells us a story of how the chamber where Margaret lay as she gave birth was struck by a cannon blast, even as the babe was pulled from her. New mother, midwife and newborn alike were peppered with fragments of glass from the window. Though probably apocryphal, the tale serves mainly to name Jacqueline as a child born in violence, foreshadowing the fascinating life Jacqueline, the Red Lioness of Holland, would lead.



    Without casus belli, the Emperor had no choice but to lift his siege and head home. William entered Amsterdam victorious and a new father, and for the immediate moment, all was well.
    Last edited by damienreave; 18-12-2011 at 23:03.

  2. #2
    Jacqueline's Childhood



    Despite the manner of William VI's ascension, Holland continued to prosper under his reign. Holland's mighty trading fleet filled the state's coffers with enormous sums, and William was generous with his money to the surrounding states. Though the stain of his illegitimate ascension could not be forgotten, William's gifts to the neighboring states bought him at least a facade of friendship.

    Albert, on the other hand, took every possible step to try and sabotage his son's rule. The humiliation he had received consumed him, until he was single mindedly obsessed with revenge. However, he was financially weak and militarily impotent, and his constant appeals to various regional powers annoyed them so that they began to ignore his envoys without even listening to the messages. Furious, Albert appealed directly to the Pope in Avignon, asking him to excommunicate William and to call for Albert's restoration.

    Burgundy was one of the primary beneficiaries of William's gifts. Now forced to choose between Albert's truthful complaints and Holland's generosity, Philippe the Bold chose the more profitable route. With a word in a few cardinals' ears, in a stunning turnaround, it was in fact Albert who was excommunicated.




    Though not a particularly godly man, the excommunication terrified Albert. He withdrew into a deep brooding depression and refused to attend to matters of state entirely. The nobility of Hainaut tolerated his antics for a few months, then fearful for how easy it would be for their small state to be swallowed up with an excommunicated leader, overthrew him in a bloodless coup. A republic was set up in his absence, and Albert was found dead in his chambers a month later under mysterious circumstances. The multitude of suspects who would profit from his death does not lend itself to easy determination of who ordered his killing, but contemporary historians seem convinced William did not have a hand in the murder, if only for his genuine outpouring of grief upon hearing the news.



    William set about with further changes to Holland's economy. The Count had a strong mind for numbers, and an even better mind for understanding human greed. He believed that so long as the merchant class prospered at the expense of the nobility, there would always be a tension between those who wished trade to flourish and those who saw it as a threat to the old order. William's solution was to enact a series of laws to tie the nobility's interests in with that of the emerging merchant class, through heavily regulating and controlling the sources of capital the merchants could access while operating out of Hollander ports, while simultaneously encouraging the nobility to fill the capital void. At first, he encountered incredible pushback from the merchants, but he won over enough of them with several concessions on other outstanding issues to avoid outright rebellion. The nobility, having previously preferred to keep their wealth in precious metals and land investments, responded cautiously at first. But when reports of the returns on the first successful nobility funded trade missions began to trickle back in, a flood of new capital became available to the merchants as the nobility liquidated what they could of their land assets and began to heavily investing in foreign trade through state sponsored and insured bonds. Shipbuilding and trade exploded, with Hollander merchant fleets sailing as far as Novgorod, and later even reaching Liguria in Italy and Ifni in Morocco. What William had devised was nothing less than the rudimentary foundations of Europe's first banking and insurance system, and the effects were phenomenal.



    Diplomatically, however, William's potency was lower. The primary vehicle for binding nations together was marriage, and in this field he had little to offer. Being already happily married to his Burgundian wife, and with the remainder of his family off in Bavaria and outside of his control, he had little to offer the great states of Europe. Henry of England and Charles of France both had little interest in the offer of a betrothal to a two year old girl, and rebuffed his offers. Even the diplomatic feelers he sent out to various Germanic states had decidedly lackluster responses. Although he struggled with the decision, he eventually decided to arrange for Jacqueline's betrothal to Duke Antoine Valois of Brabant, then seventeen years old and heir to the Brabant throne after his grandmother, who was already a crone of seventy nine years. The age gap between Antoine and Jacqueline bothered him, but the marriage was a political necessity, considering Brabant's proximity. He added a clause to the agreement requiring mandating that Jacqueline reach her fifteenth birthday before the marriage could be conducted.

    Margaret and William's new passion for each other lasted, and Margaret conceived twice more, but both babes were stillborn, and the second stillbirth nearly killed her and left her barren. Knowing he would never have a male heir, William set about ensuring that his daughter would have the education she would need to inherit and manage his estates when he died.

    William hired the finest tutors that money could afford, sailing them in from England, Italy and even Constantinople. The money was well spent, because young Jacqueline had inherited her father's mind for figures and her mother's gift for languages. She became proficient her native language of Flemish, as well as Latin, High German, French, Italian, and even learned some English from her Londoner tutor. She excelled in mathematics at an early age, and by age ten, William trusted her enough to double check his work on his ledgers. She dabbled in literature, and although as she got older she often found books too boring for her tastes.

    Jacqueline was in many respects spoiled, wanting for nothing from wealthy and powerful parents who knew she was their only chance to build a legacy. Yet it was also ingrained into her from an early age what a deep responsibility she held, and she took it seriously. She seemed especially desperate for praise and admiration from her own father, who sternly pushed her to excel in everything she did. In her early teen years she proved to be a talented rider. William even allowed her a limited amount of martial training, where she practiced with bows, spears, and some unarmed self defense techniques. Margaret did not approve of that, the last part especially, thinking it unladylike and fearing that Jacqueline was becoming too much like her father.




    A surviving piece of needlepoint work by Margaret of Holland.


    "You're late, Jacqueline," Margaret reprimanded, sitting primly in the plush seat as her daughter dragged herself through the door. "And, heavens above, you're filthy."

    "I was training, Mother," the fourteen year old explained with a roll of her eyes. There was little need to ask at what, since all of the girl's energy seemed to be going into her martial pursuits as of late. "I have better things to do than practice needlepoint."

    Margaret's eyes flared wide at that. Jacqueline was insolent at times, but she was rarely outright rebellious. "You'll do as I tell you, because I am your mother."

    Her daughter only looked to her with wide, guileless eyes. "I was only hoping... that we could practice Latin together?"

    The older Wittlesbach heaved a sigh, setting aside the needle and thread. She had taught the girl too well. "Fine. We'll practice Latin. I just don't know what you're going to tell your husband when you have exactly zero needlepoint pieces to show him on your wedding day."

    The girl made a face like she had eaten a lemon. "I don't want to talk about him."

    "Why ever not? He's a Duke... healthy, wealthy, handsome, and your children stand to inherit quite a large estate!"

    "He's old," she complained.

    "He's only thirty, and he has many years left ahead of him," her mother spelled out patiently.

    "But he's a boor! Every time he visits, he's loud and obnoxious, and he drinks too much... And the way he looks at me... I hate him!"

    Margaret had her own reservations about Antoine de Valois, but she kept them to herself for her daughter's sake. "Well, I hated your father too when I met him. All men are boors... they drink and wench and stink and curse. It takes a woman's touch to change them."

    Jacqueline's eyes widened to hear her mother speak so plainly. "You hated Father when you first married him? For how long?"

    Sixteen years... she thought sadly, although outwardly she only smiled. "You've managed to distract us for long enough, little devious one. If you won’t sew, let us at least study together."





    Sadly, Jacqueline's idyllic life was not to last. Three months before her fifteen birthday, with wedding preparations already in full swing, her parents were late returning from a state visit to Brabant. The army sent out search parties, only to find the ruins of a royal carriage surrounded by the scattered bodies of their escort, and the cooling corpses of the Count and Countess within.



    "Tell me how they died."

    There was a strange calm pervading her. She knew she should be running, crying, screaming, weeping for her lost parents, but years of drilled lessons had kicked in. She sat at the head of the council's table, a slight breach of etiquette since technically the regency council ruled, not her, but no one seemed eager to argue with her.

    "Bandits, my lady." It was the captain of the guard, Jan Kortrijk, who spoke, and his voice held iron certainty. "They've been getting worse as of late. I begged your father to let me take a thousand men and sweep the woods, but he insisted on keeping the men demobilized to keep costs down, so..."

    Little things fell into place in the young girl's mind... snide comments by the man twice her age at his last visit, secretive smiles when he thought she wasn't looking... Jacqueline felt as though a fist was squeezing around her heart.

    "Did my mother still wear her jewels?"

    "My lady?" He seemed confused.

    "I am asking you if my mother's... corpse... if she still had her jewelry on." Jacqueline could feel her throat constricting, and struggled to keep her voice steady.

    "I... did not think to check." He paused, pondering. "I suppose she did."

    "And the finery on the carriage? The gold trim?"

    A line creased the man's brow. "It was... intact."

    "So tell me, Ser Jan, what sort of bandits kill a Count and Countess but leave their gold?"

    The captain frowned at her, doubt in his eyes.

    She could barely spit the last few words out. "I name them assassins."

    The men around the table, her regency council, variously muttered in dismay.

    "A grievous charge, my lady. No doubt your father had many enemies... yes. But to go so far as murder?" The voice was from an elderly man far down the table named Karel Amstrel, a powerful Cod who had helped draw up her father's original National Trade Policy. He tutted, a dry sound from an ancient throat. "And even if we accept that it was, at whose feet should we lay the blame?"

    "Lex parsimoniae," she replied confidently.

    "Wha?" The old man raised an eyebrow.

    "The law of parsimony." Ockham's treatises had been written more than a hundred years prior, and a few years back she had read all of his writings that she could get her hands on, finding his philosophy in particular fascinating. "In this case, I feel safe in asserting that the culprit is the person who stands to gain the most from their deaths... my betrothed, Duke Antoine de Valois of Brabant."

    The council began shouting all at once.



    In the end, Jacqueline had not managed to convince them.

    She had her supporters and her detractors on the council, but in the end, the charges had been too much for the stogy old men to accept. It didn't help that she had a proven record of hating Antoine and trying to get out of the betrothal. She had lost her composure and started shouting at them in a most unladylike fashion, which had not won her any support.

    By terms of her father's will, it was the regency council, not her, who ruled Holland for the next three months, and there was little she could do against it. She had been confined to the castle, and several of those more dismayed by her behavior had wanted to confine her to her room. She had been plainly told that plans for her wedding would move forward. Seeing further discussion was futile, she played along meekly, apologizing for her outbursts. Once alone, she began to plot.
    Last edited by damienreave; 06-11-2011 at 20:59.

  3. #3
    First Lieutenant JKNUBZ's Avatar
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    Excellent story so far. I normally don't like narrative-based AARs, but this is irresistible. Keep it up.

  4. #4
    interesting read, i wonder where Holland will go next from this point

  5. #5
    Dremora Courtier Arakhor's Avatar
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    I've just been playing as 15th Century Burgundy, so it's quite amusing to see the Dutch side of affairs instead.
    Ius Hibernicum, in nomine juris. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

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  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by JKNUBZ View Post
    Excellent story so far. I normally don't like narrative-based AARs, but this is irresistible. Keep it up.
    I'll try not to make it /too/ long winded, although I seem to be failing at that so far ^_^;;

    Quote Originally Posted by Frozen_Predator View Post
    interesting read, i wonder where Holland will go next from this point
    War seems a likely answer

    Quote Originally Posted by Arakhor View Post
    I've just been playing as 15th Century Burgundy, so it's quite amusing to see the Dutch side of affairs instead.
    Ah, Burgundy. Historically, Jacqueline loses a large portion of her inheritance to those fiends *shakes fist*. We'll see how it plays out in my story.

  7. #7
    The Regency Council



    The state funeral brought unwelcome guests. The grief was still too fresh to her, and yet she was forced to endure a parade of well wishers who came to tell her what wonderful people her father and mother had been. As if she hadn't known.

    Most of the regional monarchs sent representatives. Holland was not a nation powerful enough to warrant state visits from the major powers, but some of the heads of state from the closest neighboring territories came in person. The ten year old Count of Friesland attended, along with his mother and retinue, as well as the Archbishops of Cologne, Munster and Utrecht. She smiled tearfully and played all the parts expected of her, thanking each in turn as each party offered her words of condolence so similar in character that she was hard pressed to remember who said what five minutes after the fact. The only one who made any real impression was Archbishop Hendrick II of Utrecht. He was quite young for a man of such high position in the Church, barely into his forties, and from their brief meeting, she could tell his mind was much sharper and geared for statecraft than his fellow men of the cloth.




    Archbishop Henrick II of Utrecht


    "And if there is anything I can do to help ease your transition as Countess, especially on the diplomatic front..."

    "Oh, I'll have to check with my betrothed husband," she murmured demurely. Her father might have tolerated and even subtly encouraged her willful ways, but before a man of the cloth, she knew she had to at least feign the role of a subservient bride to be.

    "Surely you'll retain regency over Holland proper yourself though," he said quietly.

    She flickered her eyes up to the Archbishop’s face, seeing that his smile was genuine and kind, almost hopeful. He fears Brabant... she realized. Antoine had recently waged war against Gelre, rich lands to the east of Utrecht, lands that the Archbishop had strong claims to. Brabant had swallowed them up, even managing to get the Holy Roman Emperor to acknowledge his conquest as legitimate, solidifying Brabant's position as the strongest regional power besides Burgundy itself. Utrecht’s small bishopric was now fully surrounded by Holland and Brabant, and the Archbishop no doubt felt Holland was the lesser of two evils. The merger of those two lands would be the last thing he would want.

    She carefully filed these facts away unconsciously, relishing the potential opportunity, but was still unwilling to break from her act. She did not trust Henrick, not on the offhanded word mentioned at a funeral. If Antoine caught wind and suspected her, all her plans would amount to nothing. "It will be decided in time." She managed a small smile in return. "I shall send a delegation to you to discuss matters further when affairs here are concluded."

    The Archbishop nodded and moved on, making room for the next mourner to visit her.



    A notable absence was her betrothed. The trip from Breda to Amsterdam was a short one, and having been given ample notice, the nobles could only interpret this as a slight on Antoine's part. The muttering grew louder, and bad sentiment grew amongst her advisers, heartening Jacqueline greatly. But he arrived nearly a week later to much pomp and splendor, bringing nearly a thousand knights with him.

    He met with the regency council for several days behind closed doors. No invitation for her attendance was extended. She paced about her room, muttering various curses she had learned from her father and the martial instructors he let her have. To keep herself from going insane with worry, she scheduled a flurry of meetings of her own, under the guise of a bride nervous before her wedding: Ser Jan Kortrijk, captain of her guard... Arnold Oldenhaven, a prominent Cod noble and friend of her father... and Bishop Jacobus, a representative from Utrecht's own Henrick II.

    What she had /not/ expected was a visit late at night to her bedroom from her betrothed.





    "We have been betrothed for many years now. I have waited long enough."

    The conversation between herself and Antoine had started innocently enough. He seemed to think little of her, a misconception she was more than happy to allow him to maintain. But Antoine's conversation had rapidly taken another turn that she was deeply uncomfortable with.

    Her heart pounded in her chest as she backed away. "No. Not yet. We are not married yet, my lord."

    He grabbed her arm, his fingers gripping her painfully, as he leered at her. "So? You won't be the first bride to walk the isle with a baby inside you." He drew her towards him, his hand an iron grip on her skin as he made to kiss her.

    A dread terror filled her at his words, and instinct took over. Her open palm slammed upwards at his looming face, its placement perfect. She felt cartilage crunch under the impact. Her martial instructor would have been proud.

    Antoine de Valois, Duke of Brabant, hissed in pain as he stumbled backwards, his hand clutching at his face as blood gushed from his shattered nose. He raised a hand up to strike her, his face dark with fury.

    She did not shrink back from the blow, but it never came. Instead, he lowered his hand at length and laughed. It was a strange, wet sound, as his breath wheezed through his bleeding nose. "Very well, my little Countess. Have it your way. But soon we will be married, and I promise you, you will pay for this. I will take everything from you. You will learn to obey me."

    His eyes promised terrible retribution. Then he spun on a heel and left. She heard a muttered excuse to the guards outside about having fallen and hurt himself. There was a glimmer of grim satisfaction in her heart. He would need a better excuse than that. She had felt his nose break during the impact, and knew he would need to find a healer to get it set, otherwise it would heal crooked. That would make him even more unpleasant to look at... if such a thing were possible.

    She felt herself begin to shake, all of the strength leaving her. She curled up on her bed, determined not to cry. One hand wrapped around the other over her knees, and she tried to control her breathing and stop the quivering. Alone, there were no more games, no more acts. At her core, this is all she was... a scared little girl.

    What have I done? she asked herself repeatedly. He knows now of my defiance. He will suspect, and if he takes steps against me, all is lost... It would take only one person involved in her plans to betray her. That was why she had tried to limit those involved in her scheme to only a select few she trusted, but there was no way to be certain. The nervousness was so intense that it made her nauseous. The contents of her stomach were emptied into her chamber pot once, twice, three times.

    At length, with the candles in her room almost burned out, Jacqueline felt most of the terror having run its course. Exhaustion had taken its place, and she could barely keep her eyes open. She called for the guards, suppressing a yawn. "I have new orders for you, guardsmen. You are to admit no one to my room without me specifically requesting for them." These were loyal men, selected for this duty by Ser Jan himself.

    "Even your betrothed?" the one on the right asked.

    "Especially my betrothed," she said without elaborating, giving them a tight smile.




    The political and military situation in the Low Countries in 1416.


    The next month was a blur, and her wedding was upon her before she knew it. Handmaidens and servants washed and brushed and dressed her, chattering away excitedly and gushing about how lucky she was. She smiled and ignored them, her insides knotted in fear. Ser Jan and Arnold both had been away for the last week on critical last minute tasks, which left her with precisely no one that she trusted. They had reassured her that all preparations were going according to plan, but she was isolated and unable to make certain of anything.

    The wedding day itself was a rush from one urgent meet and greet of the various dignitaries to another, and never was she given even a moment to collect her thoughts. Through all her planning, she realized she had never once given thought to exactly /how/ she would make her announcement, only how to survive what came afterwards. Through the day, each opportunity that presented itself seemed lackluster. Terror would seize her, and the words would die in her throat. Soon... she told herself, but the chance never seemed to come.


    Nieuwe Kerk, built in 1408.


    And that was how she found herself standing before the local bishop, in Nieuwe Kerk, the largest cathedral in Amsterdam, with over a thousand members of the local nobility and assorted entourages attending.

    "And do you, Countess Jacqueline von Wittlesbach of Holland, take this man to be your lawful husband?"

    The words woke her out of her withdrawn terror. It was, quite literally, now or never.

    "No."

    The elderly bishop blinked, then leaned in with a confused glance, as if he had misheard her. She ignored him, slowly turned towards the assembled audience, her heart feeling like the wings of a humming bird in her chest. Every eye in the building was on her.

    "Assembled lords and ladies," she began, marveling at how strong and clear her voice sounded as it echoed through the cathedral. "As you all know, three months ago, my parents were killed by unknown forces. What you do not know is that the agents of their deaths were employed by the man who stands beside me here at this altar."

    The room seemed to be holding its breath, and the meaning of her words seemed to slowly process with the crowd.

    "This morning, August 16th, 1416 in the year of our Lord, was my fifteenth name day. As such, according to the terms of my father's will, the title of Countess of Holland and all associated lands are now inherited by me. On that authority, and by virtue of the charges I have just leveled against him, I hereby declare war on the Duchy of Brabant."

    A single heartbeat elapsed, and the cathedral exploded into pandemonium. And all of the terror and uncertainty of the ordeal was made worth it in a single fell swoop when she saw the look on Antoine’s face.



    Last edited by damienreave; 06-11-2011 at 21:05.

  8. #8
    Dremora Courtier Arakhor's Avatar
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    Dun, dun, duh! Given that my Burgundian research tells me that Antoine de Valois died at Agincourt, we've already diverted from history. That was a climactic almost-wedding, certainly.
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  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Arakhor View Post
    Dun, dun, duh! Given that my Burgundian research tells me that Antoine de Valois died at Agincourt, we've already diverted from history. That was a climactic almost-wedding, certainly.
    Technically, we diverted from history when the French declared war on England on day two of the game, but yes. In this alternate history, France absolutely flattens England in less than a year, leaving them with only Calais. No more Hundred Years War means no Agincourt, among other things. Scotland goes on to ravage the weakened England.



    The year is 1411, in case it doesn't show up.

    I've noticed a trend in my DW games of England getting ripped to shreds within the first fifty years. I do hope they survive in some form, though. If Elizabeth I is begging for the Netherlands to make England a protectorate around 1585, that would simply make my day

  10. #10
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    Didn't the Dutch ask England to do that for them IRL?

    Also, I'll be following this. I'm assuming you're going to stay a monarchy? Pity that, I've always had a soft spot for the Dutch Republic, even though it was a monarchy in all but name. I like the way "Stadtholder" rolls off the tongue And will you convert to Reformed/Protestant or stay Catholic?
    A rebel without a cause.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Seek75 View Post
    Didn't the Dutch ask England to do that for them IRL?

    Also, I'll be following this. I'm assuming you're going to stay a monarchy? Pity that, I've always had a soft spot for the Dutch Republic, even though it was a monarchy in all but name. I like the way "Stadtholder" rolls off the tongue And will you convert to Reformed/Protestant or stay Catholic?
    They did at that! But, (spoilers) its looking less and less likely that the English will survive to 1500. I've played ahead to 1450 already, and the Isles are a total patchwork at this point.

    As for religion, I'm certain that Holland will be swept up in the Reformation, but as for what branch of Protestantism, I really can't say. I'm using MiscMods, which offers a bit more diversity of religion, and to be frank I don't even know how the events all work. So I'll be just as surprised as the reader!

    As far as my form of government goes, only the future can tell. I have some plots in my head, but we'll see if and how the game play supports them...

  12. #12
    The Declaration


    Armed conflict in the church was only just barely avoided.

    Bodyguards for both the bride and groom rushed towards the altar, quickly protecting their charges amidst the shouting and churning masses of humanity, and only the fact that everyone was unarmed prevented immediate bloodshed. Antoine quickly withdrew from the cathedral, and pulled back the encampment with most of his royal retainers, camped outside the walls of Amsterdam.

    Several early abortive efforts were made by Antoine's party to incite the citizens of Amsterdam against their young Countess. Unease and uncertainty spread like wildfire through the city, and Ser Jan was forced to declare martial law to put down several smaller mobs chanting against Jacqueline.

    But as evening set in, the final elements of the agreement with Archbishop Henrick were hammered out, and enormous caravan of gold departed the city towards Utrecht. Henrick had bargained hard, but Jacqueline's father had left her with a treasury overflowing with ducats, and the girl knew she needed legitimacy much more than money.

    Now delivering his half of the bargain, Henrick took to the pulpit in the Nieuwe Kerk, and gave a fiery sermon to the thronging masses that spilled out into Dam Square. He condemned Duke Antoine de Valois for his many indiscretions and vices, praised Jacqueline for her piety and modesty, and alluded to Antoine's improper and unchristian advances towards his betrothed before the wedding. Henrick was an accomplished orator, and managed to recast the conflict that many had seen as a willful girl refusing her arranged marriage into one that cast Holland as the righteous resistor against Brabant's tyranny. The crowd roared and surged, calling for the heads of Antoine and the other Brabantian nobility outside their walls. Knowing the terrible infamy that slaying wedding guests would bring, Jacqueline herself had to come to the pulpit to declare a twenty four hour amnesty period for the nobles of Brabant, giving them time to withdraw back to their homelands.



    The emergency war council met the next day. This time when Jacqueline sat at the head of the table, she did so with the full authority as Countess of Holland. The twin braids she had worn in her girlhood were gone, with her blond hair being done up in a more mature style of tresses to allow room for the modest crown she wore, with the remainder spilling down her back.

    "The army is in no fit shape to fight," Karel Amstrel, once head of the regency council, complained. "And we are outnumbered. This decision to war against Brabant is ill advised indeed. We should seek a peaceful resolution urgently. Perhaps if..."

    "There are several mercenary companies that have offered their services to us and are prepared to deploy." Her voice was crisp and commanding, just as her father had taught her.

    The old man glowered. "Perhaps, but even if we start today, it will take months to get our army ready for war."

    "No, the army is on full wartime footing. I had Ser Jan begin preparations for war the day after I was informed of my parents’ death, for just this contingency." Ser Jan stood behind her stoically and imposingly, the very image of a loyal Captain of the Guard. In peacetime, he was the leader of the armed forces in Amsterdam, which had made the deception easy. But without access to the treasury, she had been forced to borrow the funds from the merchants at ruinously expensive rates. Not wanting to pay interest a day longer than she needed to, authorization for payment had already been distributed to her quite satisfied backers during the night.

    "What? I've heard nothing of this. You had no authority to..."

    "You might have heard of it if you could have spared one moment from enriching yourself from my treasury and plotting against me with my loathsome betrothed!" Her eyes were wild. "You will sign over your lands and titles to your grandson and take leave of Holland by tonight." The powerful Cod noble stared at her with an open mouth, about to protest. "And I suggest you do so quickly," she cut him off, "for if I ever see you again, my judgment will be much less merciful."

    Aghast, the old man looked side to side, his eyes pleading for support from his fellow counselors. One by one, they each looked away awkwardly, leaving him isolated and without allies. Shell shocked, he slowly rose and shuffled to the door, leaving only silence in his wake. She knew Karel's sons were both dead, one of disease and the other in a shipwreck. Her agents had told her that the twenty two year old grandson would be thankful for his sudden elevation in status, rather than vengeful, since he did not hold his grandfather in high regard.

    "As for the rest of you who took the opportunity of my father's death to fill your own personal coffers at the expense of the state..." She trailed off, looking around. Virtually all had partaken in the embezzlement, although none to the same degree as Karel. She wished she could dismiss all of them, but she knew that in this time of crisis, the realm needed stability, and she couldn't afford vengeance for minor corruption. "We will start over with a fresh start. Serve me loyally and faithfully, and Holland will prosper under our guidance."

    There was a collective exhaling of breath as the council members realized Karel would be the only casualty of the regime change. They smiled and together with their Countess began to formulate plans for the war against Brabant.

    The first task of the war council was to elect a leader to the army. After some discussion, a Cod noble named Dirk Dokkum was selected. He was no military genius, but Holland had fought no wars in fifteen years, and Dirk was one of the few still able bodied nobles who had served under her father during his rebellion. Jacqueline was not overly impressed with the man, but he had been loyal to her father, and did not seem overly ambitious to her. It wasn't as if she had better options.




    The costs of mercenaries, on top of the costs of maintaining a force so massive compared to Holland's population, would quickly drain Holland's sizable treasury. Dirk's proposed battle plan was therefore traditional but effective. They would invade Brabant and destroy their field armies before Brabant's allies could come into play, then lay siege to their castles.

    The council was mostly worried about Austria coming to the field, but the Countess dismissed the possibility. The Austrians were too consumed with their fight against Hungary, she was convinced.



    There was little to discuss about an Austrian intervention in any case. If Austria did intervene, the Emperor was too strong for Holland to fight, so the only path before them was speed.

    With the paperwork signed and Dirk Dokkum's office official, he set off to assume command of the forces. He vowed to have the army decamped and ready to depart the following morning.



    The Countess threw herself into the affairs of state, reviewing all of the details of the kingdom her father had pressed her to learn, yet she had never quite gotten around to. The finances of the kingdom were second nature to her, although the men in charge of the positions were not. Therefore, she spent the effort to meet and get to know her various sheriffs and tax assessors, as well as the customs duty officials. By and large they seemed competent, and she kept them in place.

    While she was finishing this task, the word she had dreaded finally arrived.



    Wurttemberg was no real threat, but Austria's declaration of war was troubling indeed. Jacqueline knew she could only hope they remained bogged down in their other wars.

    Declarations of war trickled in from a handful of other Germanic states, all hoping to curry favor with the Emperor. Of them, only Trier was any real threat to Holland. She insisted on reading the missives themselves, even though they called her all sorts of awful names... harlot, succubus, fruit of betrayer's blood, and so on. Her father had taught her to always read any letters from foreign rulers herself, rather than rely on the messages being relayed by a minister, to try and discern what she could about her foes. In honesty, though, all she could tell from this pile of papers was that the German princes and bishops really, really hated her.

    Archbishop Henrick II was the one bright spot. After having given her that critical boost of support at just the right time (in exchange for a hefty bribe and other promises), he returned home to Utrecht. He was biding his time, waiting to see if she would win. She had promised him Geldre, but he would only press his claims when her victory was assured.

    Finally, after weeks of waiting, word of the battle that would decide her entire reign arrived.





    Antoine tried to regather his armies for a last stand in Limberg, but Dirk's cavalry advantage allowed him to trap Antoine within a pass and crush the Brabantian army, killing or capturing virtually the entire force.



    As per Jacqueline's orders, the nobility of Brabant were ransomed back to their families for quite reasonable prices, and the commoners were granted their freedom after giving a pledge not to take up arms against the Countess again. Many on the council questioned the wisdom of this move, since commoner rabble could hardly be trusted to keep their word, and many might very well end up in Antoine's armies again, but Jacqueline had no means to keep such a vast host of prisoners secure, and knew her reputation was bad enough without adding the killing of prisoners to the list.

    The Duke himself evaded capture, cowardly running when he saw the battle was lost and scaling the side of the pass to flee. He managed to avoid her scouts and made it to Breda to try and raise a new host.

    The newfound feeling of joy within Amsterdam was quickly dispelled a few days later, when word from Dirk came, announcing the newest development.



    "It's the Austrians, my Lady. Over ten thousand of them."

    The messenger had run all the way to the grand hall to deliver his report. Cries of dismay arose from Jacqueline's guests around the table, the wives of various nobles who she forced herself to socialize with. Ignoring the dread in the pit of her stomach, and thankful for an excuse to end the insipid conversation, she rose and gave a small nod to the assembled ladies, dismissing them.

    "Assemble the council. We must plan our response."


    The armies of Trier and Cologne are nearby as well, though thankfully they are not coordinated with Austria's. Aachen's armies remain neutral.
    Last edited by damienreave; 06-11-2011 at 21:06.

  13. #13
    Share Our Wealth! Seek75's Avatar
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    Hrm, things aren't looking the greatest for Holland. Let's hope the Austrians are incompetent.
    A rebel without a cause.

  14. #14
    Dremora Courtier Arakhor's Avatar
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    A two-province state taking on a four-province Brabant and (presumably) without casus belli? You're brave!

    An interesting anomaly I've noticed in the EU3 files is that Antoine de Valois, Duke of Brabant, is of the same dynasty as Charles VI of France, yet Antoine was the son of Philippe II of Burgundy, who is listed as "Philippe de Bourgogne".
    Ius Hibernicum, in nomine juris. Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.

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  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Arakhor View Post
    A two-province state taking on a four-province Brabant and (presumably) without casus belli? You're brave!

    An interesting anomaly I've noticed in the EU3 files is that Antoine de Valois, Duke of Brabant, is of the same dynasty as Charles VI of France, yet Antoine was the son of Philippe II of Burgundy, who is listed as "Philippe de Bourgogne".
    It is strange. Antoine's father is the founder of the Burgundian branch of the de Valois line. So while its technically true that Antoine is a de Valois, it would make much more sense to make him a Bourgogne. It also casts a new perspective on how Burgundy often declares war on Brabant early into the game....

    And while Jacqueline is indeed brave, I fear her motives are based more out of desperation at this point

    I've finished playing the game up to 1500 now. Going to sit back and start sorting through the 300 screenshots and get back to writing. I'm extremely happy with the game so far. The map is fairly clean, with minimal amounts of ugly borders, and nothing completely historically implausible going on. More than I can say for my average EU3 game
    Last edited by damienreave; 09-10-2011 at 19:09.

  16. #16
    Colonel Rifal's Avatar
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    1. Abandon all sieges.
    2. Gather all available forces to face the Austrians.
    3. Pray
    WritAAR of the week 08-09-2011

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  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Rifal View Post
    1. Abandon all sieges.
    2. Gather all available forces to face the Austrians.
    3. Pray
    That was pretty much my exact plan

    A little mini announcement of sorts. I have two more chapters written, but I don't know when I'm going to have a chunk of free time like this to write write write, so I'm going to put out the updates more slowly from here on out. The table of contents will reflect what I've written, including unposted stuff. Hopefully the chapter titles aren't too spoilery.

    I'd also be interested in feedback about the characters themselves. Well, okay, character, singular, for now. Jacqueline's husband and children will get quite a bit of screen time too, but for now, she's pretty much the star.

  18. #18
    I'm liking this AAR; narrative/historical AARs are fun to read, and this one is especially well-written. I love Jacqueline as a character; she seems to be a fiery type. Hope she can smash the Austrians and the Brabantians!

    Also, you should give Archbishop Henrick some screen time; he seems like a cunning character.

  19. #19
    Epic narrative, one of the best I have read for a long time, I will be following with great exitement. Subscribed !
    Last edited by Viking_Manstein; 10-10-2011 at 15:47.
    Check out my Brittany AAR: http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/...eton-AAR/page2 - winner of the Weekly AAR Showcase

  20. #20
    Colonel Rifal's Avatar
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    I must say i really enjoy this aar. Jacqueline is a really interesting charachter. What is her age in game
    WritAAR of the week 08-09-2011

    My AAR: The Polestar.

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