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Thread: The Grey Eminence - A Narrative/History AAR 1399-1821

  1. #41
    General morningSIDEr's Avatar
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    Interesting stuff all round. The war with France seemed particularly brusing thus the white peace was no bad thing. I just rather hope John's impending meeting with Lady Mendenhall is not similarly brusing! As the meeting does seem rather foreboding now.
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  2. #42
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Thank you all for repling! Now we meet her Ladyship.

    morningSIDEr: Yes, I was lucky to get a White Peace, since in this war I got beat up. As for the meeting...foreboding possibly, but not immediately!
    Avindian: I will certainly look into a Vicky 2 conversion when this story is done and dusted. If I can make it anything as good as your or Dewirix's conversions though I will be very happy!
    Range: Thanks! I've taken this chance to make my own history using the game as an outline. I hope it works.
    Dewirix: Exactly true! The fall of the Valois helps me storywise too, since it makes the English claim stronger than the French!
    Arakor: Charles VI usually dies quite early, and without an heir. It's bad in a way since he was a 3/3/3 and thus got all the penalties!

    Chapter 3 – Her Ladyship

    6/1/1820


    John approached the front of the house, walking up the fine stairs. A servant opened the door, and two maids stepped forward to help him off with his coat and hat, and to clean his shoes off. With this done he was allowed to enter.
    Three Oaks was magnificent inside, with opulent wood, marble and art everywhere. The entrance hall was crafted in an elegant 18th century Henrician style. Further on, a graceful spiral staircase led up to a higher floor, while further on still was a dining room that could have seated two score of people.

    Finally though John entered into an elegant drawing room hung with art, and set with antique furniture.
    A dark skinned maid in a black dress came and offered John a glass of wine. He took it, nodded his thanks and drunk. It was of exceptional quality, probably from the Languedoc provinces in the south of France.
    For a moment John hesitated about what to do, but then the maid went to the balcony door and opened it.
    “My Lady,” she said softly.

    As the maid stepped aside, Lady Clarice Mendenhall entered. Wearing an elegant black dress and walking with a silver topped cane it was the clothes of an older woman. Her appearance though was that of someone barely in their 20s. Long black hair fell elegantly down her back, framing a pale face with dark eyes and a broad smile. She was beautiful, and she moved with grace and style into the room, not even appearing to use the cane she carried.
    Awkwardly John bowed, desperately trying to think of the right form of address. “Good evening, Your Grace…Lady Mendenhall,” he said, stuttering.
    Her Ladyship smiled wryly. “I think ‘my Lady’ will do just fine. John Adams, I presume?”
    He kissed her right hand, noticing the inlaid ruby ring on her finger. “Yes, my Lady,” he replied.
    “Excellent. Welcome. Please take a seat.”
    John sat, still holding his wine as Lady Mendenhall took a glass of water from the maid. “This is Tempest. Her grandfather was a slave on a plantation until King Henry abolished that…reprehensible trade. My family offered her parents, and now her, employment.” She handed the empty water glass to the maid.
    “This wine is excellent, my Lady,” John said, looking still at the oddly named maid, before back to Lady Mendenhall.
    “Thank you. It is a fine vintage. I myself do not drink…wine, but I am always careful to have some for visitors to enjoy. Now, Mr Adams…may I call you John?”
    “Please do, my Lady,” John replied, smiling.
    “Excellent. Now, I must apologise again for contacting you so unexpectedly, however you did intrigue me. I also apologise for any mix up you might have thought regarding where you were headed. Grey House is a very proper residence, but it is much smaller, much less…private than here is.”
    “No apology needed, Lady,” John said. “This is a lovely house.”
    Her Ladyship smiled slightly. “It is but a simple London house. Compared with my residence in Kirkwall this is…not so grand at all. But thank you for your compliment.”
    She gestured at Tempest, and the maid brought over a sheaf of papers. John was astonished to see that it was the very paper he had written in his final exam at Drake University all the way across the Atlantic in America.
    “I am good friends with the Dean at Drake, and he brought this with him for when he attends the Symposium at Oxford later this year. When he mentioned it I asked to borrow it.”
    Faced with this sudden reminder of that cool autumn day the year before, John nodded slowly. “Did you…like it?” he asked cautiously.
    Lady Mendenhall smiled. “Like it? Better, I was impressed by it. In the limited time you had you managed to prepare an answer I would gladly use in my book. While most students would have taken a basic approach to the question of how England rose to such prominence, you answered in a more advanced way. I am sure you have not had time to read my book, but our lines of reasoning are the same.”
    This high praise made John colour slightly. “Thank you, my Lady. I must confess though that I had not seen any of your works before you sent me your book.”
    “That is because I do not widely publish.” She flicked an errant strand of hair from where it had fallen over her face. “It is why I was so interested in seeing your answer, because you had not seen my book before.”

    There was silence for a moment. Her Ladyship took a fresh glass of water from Tempest and sipped from it.
    “So what do you plan to do next, John?”
    John gestured vaguely, feeling a little more relaxed now. “My father wishes me to become a lawyer or follow him to Parliament.”
    “A ‘proper’ job?” she replied in a slightly amused voice.
    “So he says. However, I would rather study history, maybe become a professor or a tutor. I am not sure, but that is what appeals to me most.”
    “I see. I certainly am not one to try and dissuade you, so I will simply ask what you next step would be.”
    “Go to Oxford or Cambridge and attempt a thesis. If I obtain that then I can teach or…” he trailed off.
    Lady Mendenhall nodded encouragingly. “Most excellent.” She put down her glass and leaned forward slightly. “I may be able to help there.”
    “You can?”
    “As you are aware the universities on this side of the Atlantic are not so…enlightened as to allow women to attend. However, I do have an honorary Doctorate from Oxford…the late King was kind enough to provide it for me. I am meeting with the Dean later this week; I could take you on as my student if you wished. I do not like to boast, but I have the largest collection of historical artefacts in all of Great Britain.”
    John was stunned by the offer, but also intrigued. “You would really do that for me?” he asked.
    “I would. I have no reason not to, so long as you are interested.”
    “I will think about it, thank you.”

    At that moment Tempest stepped forward. “My Lady, the time,” she said softly.
    “Ah yes. Time got away from me,” she said with a small smile. “I have a meeting with the Queen, so sadly I must go. However, if you wish you may come to dinner in two night’s time and we can discuss this more.”
    “Yes, of course, I would like that, my Lady.”
    Her Ladyship smiled and bowed her head. “Very well. I shall send a carriage at the same time as tonight. You are welcome to bring family along if you wish. And now, her Majesty awaits.”
    John knew this was a polite dismissal and stood. “Thank you for your hospitality, my Lady,” John said, bowing.
    “Think nothing of it. Tempest, show him out, and instruct Christian to take him home, and then return. We will take the other carriage.”
    “Of course, my Lady.”

    As John was shown out the new-fangled gas lights were starting to come on around the house and by the gate. As he got into the carriage he reflected again on how very different her Ladyship had been to his expectations, and how surprising her offer had been. He was determined to go to dinner, and seriously consider her offer.
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  3. #43
    General Range's Avatar
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    I love the setup of your characters; they're very believable like a 40's movie classic.
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  4. #44
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Somehow I'm now unable to picture Tempest as anyone other than Halle Berry as Storm from the X-Men film. Damn you pop culture!

    I like the "18th century Henrician style" - a nice touch.
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  5. #45
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Range: Thanks!
    Dewirix: That's actually how I imagined her too...and it's an appropriate comparison as you'll see eventually.

    Chapter 3a – The Succession Crisis

    Summarised from Chapter 2 of ’Britannia Triumphant’ by Lady Mendenhall.


    Edward IV had fought and barely survived war with France, and now he was faced with new problems. The most insistent, and of concern for all royal families that that of the succession. Edward’s first wife Philippa de Mohun had not had a successful obstetrics history, and after several miscarriages she finally produced an heir, Henry, in 1400. However, she did not survive her son by more than a month, leaving father and son alone.



    Edward was distraught by the loss, but was also moved by practical matters. Though Henry survived and grew, there was concern in the realm that should the boy die there would be further instability. At first Edward resisted the suggestions he remarry, but in 1404 he was introduced to the young Louisa de Bourgogne, niece of the Burgundian Duke. The two were married, with indecent haste, some argued, and the King’s new wife was pregnant within the year.
    As it turned out this was fortunate, as young Henry died in 1405, just months after the birth of his half brother. This new heir, while in theory a member of the York line was never acknowledged as such, and was seen as a foreign, corrupting influence on Edward as he grew up.



    The King however had other matters to consider. The crown of Castille had belonged to the frail Enrique III who at this time had no living male heirs. Therefore, the nearest living male claimant to the throne of Castille was in fact Edward, whose mother had been the daughter of a former king. This link was tenuous at best, but John of Gaunt, Edward’s uncle, had made this same claim two decades earlier. Therefore when Enrique had died suddenly in 1404 it was decided that Edward would advise the regency council of Castille while a claimant was found. Thus, Edward became King of Castille in theory, if not in actual reality.



    While the succession was still an open issue, the French question remained an open debate. The Dukes of Somerset and Kent especially were at odds about how to prosecute a war in France when and if it resumed. Somerset, survivor of the horrors at Bayonne, favoured a defensive strategy supplemented with frequent chevauchee raids. Kent however, was more in favour of an aggressive strategy. King Edward, still smarting from the defeats of the last war, sided with Kent.



    Though not a pious man, Edward had always been careful to keep the Pope and the church happy, sending regular donations to Rome, and appointing prominent churchmen. In gratitude the Pope declared the great uncle of King Edward to be Saint William of Meath.







    Thus, the King’s position was stabilised, but with the rumblings of war on the horizon again King Edward could not rest easily.

    (The PU with Castille was a total surprise and in the end became the basis for much of my success!)
    Last edited by Ashantai; 03-11-2011 at 02:36.
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  6. #46
    Dremora Courtier Arakhor's Avatar
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    Unless something very odd is going on in your game, Philip the Bold (Philippe II) wouldn't be King of Burgundy, but rather its first Duke.

    I must say, though, a random PU with Castille in 1405? Lady Luck is favouring you today!
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  7. #47
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Terminology in the game is a bit...suspect, I agree. The game calls him King, though yes, I suppose he is a duke. I'll edit it, though Burgundy starts with almost as much territory as France itself.

    Pretty much as soon as you start the game weird things start happening. That PU was utterly out of the blue, just like Charles VI's death.
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  8. #48
    General Range's Avatar
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    Stability loss can be a killer, but often good luck follows.
    And, could there be any other way but toward war?
    Excellent!
    I can't wait until your next post.
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  9. #49
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    Why so many people opposed the second marriage of Edward IV? Wasn't it normal in those times to marry princesses from foreign countries? Also, during these times arranged marriages meant that getting married a few days/weeks after being introduced to the future wife was not indecent haste, but rather "huh? What took them so long?"
    Last edited by Memento Mori; 03-11-2011 at 08:23.

  10. #50
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    As you point out in the AAR, the personal union with Castile at least has the advantage that it was something John of Gaunt had been working towards in reality. That said, it gives England some serious hitting power on land.
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  11. #51
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Dewirix: It certainly does. I considered breaking it, but I thought I would keep it. A mistake maybe, but it fitted well the story I was creating.
    Momento Mori: It wasn't that it was a royal marriage, it was that it was a potential rival. Burgundy and England were not exactly friends, as will be seen later, and having a Burgundian as heir was a big issue. Consider Mary's marriage with Philip II of Spain, or Charles I's with Henrietta of France. Unpopular nationalities could create discontent.
    Range: Yes, stability can be a big problem for early nations, so the one for the saint was very welcome.

    Thanks for replying!

    Chapter 4 – The Invitation

    5/1/1820




    “So, what happened?” Elijah demanded as soon as they had sat down.
    They were in the exclusive St James Club near to the Houses of Parliament. It was a place where both their fathers were members, and thus their sons were allowed in.
    John let his friend hang while a butler poured tea for them both. “I am going for dinner there tomorrow night,” he said, smiling.
    “It seems as though you made a good first impression!” Elijah said happily.
    John laughed, but shook his head. “Oh, it’s not like that.” He held up a hand to still his friend. “Truly. She was already married, she said. To be honest with you it was very different from what I expected. I expected her either to be a silly girl, bored with life, or a woman looking for some sort of paramour. The first I expected much more than the second, I will add. However, it was very different from what I expected. Though she seems not much older than me, she was very…poised. She looked like nobility.”
    Elijah became serious, frowned. “So why was she so interested then?”
    “Unknown to me, my final exam was very similar to a book she has written. She has offered to be my mentor for a Doctorate.”
    Elijah was now really staring. “That is…strange. Yet, in a way it makes sense. I confess I am disappointed that there was no dashing romance. Will you accept? Are you going to dinner tomorrow?”
    “Dashing romances only happen in books, El,” John replied with a grin. “She has invited me, and any family of mine which wishes to come. Sadly father will be in the Commons tomorrow night debating the Mexico Act, and George….”
    “George should certainly not be invited,” Elijah agreed. “Not unless your father wants a libel suit by Friday.”
    “What about Alexandra?”
    Elijah considered the eighteen year old sister of his friend. “If you don’t ask her she will never forgive you. She loves parties and occasions; especially when someone else is paying.”
    “Yes, very true. I shall ask her then.”



    They finished their tea in silence, and then John rose. “Did you want to walk down to the river? My father will be some time yet, and I would rather not take a taxi home if I can avoid it.”
    “Sure.”
    They walked along the road, passed by pedestrians and carriages. The large, grand Houses of Parliament were before them, the great central spire rising to three hundred feet high and crowned with a statue of Britannia. This imposing edifice was somewhat spoilt by the pigeon perched on Britannia’s crown.
    “Spare a penny for a veteran, sir,” a man appealed to the two of them. He wore the tattered remains of a redcoat, and was missing an arm at the elbow. His beard and hair were long and prematurely grey.
    “Which war, friend?” John asked.
    “American war, sir, Second Battle of New Market, sir,” the man said.
    John hesitated, then reached into his pocket and pulled out a shilling, dropping it into the tin. “There you go.”
    “Thank you, sir! God bless,” the surprised man said and ambled away.
    “He probably lost his arm in a gang fight in Bristol, you know,” Elijah said softly.
    John shrugged. “Maybe. If he had really been at New Market…” John said, and stopped.
    “I understand, John. Come on, let’s get going.”
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    loved your Eternal Exile AAR, and loving this one, too! Can't wait to see where you take it.
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  13. #53
    Historically plausible Dewirix's Avatar
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    Hmm, the alternate Palace of Westminster seems contrived to outstrip the gaudiness of the real thing.
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  14. #54
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    splendid...the suspense builds.

    And, whatever will the English do with Castile...I wonder...
    Last edited by Range; 04-11-2011 at 16:50.
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  15. #55
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    Well, I take some time off the forum and bamm the promised new Ashantai AAR is here.
    Finally a reason to come back to this place more often.

    But curse you Ashantai, I can't find a thing to criticise yet. Great story so far, though you really are a lucker with a PU like that so early in the game.

  16. #56
    Lost in Time Ashantai's Avatar
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    Chapter 4a – Victory in France

    Summarised from Chapter 2 of ’Britannia Triumphant’ by Lady Mendenhall.


    Though loyal to the church, Edward IV was less rigid when it came to being a defender of the faith than his predecessors had been. From Richard II he had inherited the problem of Lollard dissenters, and while many believed that heresy should be vigorously opposed. The King however refused to authorise burning at the stake, as had been common in Europe and Spain at that time. In doing so he made himself unpopular with certain elements of the state.





    Heresy however was not the main thing that concerned King Edward. War would come again with France, and he knew that it was vitally important that the Kingdom was prepared. Unfortunately, without a standing army of any description and lacking in funds, the King was hampered in his ability to prepare.



    However the death of the wealthy Earl of Essex allowed the crown to collect a substantial windfall which would provide much needed funds for when war came. The collection of further tariffs and taxes from trade and the selling of long defunct titles also provided much needed revenues for the crown.






    What he did do was to increase the laws concerning archery in the realm first instituted by Edward III. Thus, the Longbow, first used almost a century before, was once more made the decisive weapon of war. In order to increase its effectiveness the King mandated that all local shires had to have one day a month’s combined archery and weapons drill. In reality this was rarely practical or obeyed, but it was a step towards better efficiency. It would be wrong to call this a move to a standing army, but when war came the King had a better trained force to fight it.



    With infantry now better organised, the King decided to hold a grand tournament. This tournament revived the medieval pageantry of jousting, and though most nobles were now not able to personally participate their proxies and champions gained or lost great honour fighting on their behalf.



    Finally the navy was an area of developing interest. Under the Lord Admiral Sydney Smith, Lord Newcastle, the navy became staffed by a small corps of professional captains and leaders called the ‘Tar Men’ recruited from trading vessels. It was nothing dramatic, but it was a start, and the modern Royal Navy owes much to Lord Newcastle and his skills.



    Thus it was that when war came the English were much better than they had been fifteen years before. King Edward himself led the largest English army, while Henry Cook, Earl of Kent, commanded a smaller force in Normandy and Caux. Further forces were dispatched to ensure the Scots remained passive, which they did.
    Thus, despite unprecedented taxation voted from Parliament and royal surpluses, the crown was soon forced to borrow money. If the war ended in defeat then it would be a disaster for King Edward.





    Fortunately for the King therefore, the war ended in success. Divided, faced with Spanish and Portuguese forces now properly working with the English Normandy and Caux were occupied. King François, his own position deteriorating, was forced to concede this control to the English before further disasters ensued.

    Edward had emerged triumphant from this phase of the Hundred Years War, though the cost had been great. This first victory however would prove to be decisive. Had Edward died soon after, or had a great king arisen in France the situation might have collapsed and England might still have been driven from the continent. In hindsight though the recovery of Normandy was to be the most important victory by any English monarch for many years.
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  17. #57
    Dremora Courtier Arakhor's Avatar
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    Nice update, but your battles shot seems to have come out badly, seeing as it seems you took the time to cut-and-paste it together.
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    A stunning victory, particularly the battle of Gascogne. At a stroke the success of recovering Normandy more than made up for lack of action against heresy.

    Still, we know that France is a powerful adversary, so England can't rest on its laurels just yet.
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  19. #59
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    Nice, beating up the froggies.
    Looking forward for the next "Story"-part as well.

  20. #60
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    Nice work as always! Am I the only who thinks that admirals are almost entirely useless? Sure, they can help you win a relatively even fight, but I've seen very few even fights in DW.
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