The Subjugation Wars - Part II
Orland had his eyes focused on Hesse when he mentioned creating more vassals. The German Princedom wasn't particularly rich or important but they could use all the allies they can get. A polite invitation to the Hessian King to join the Brabantine realm for the greater good remained unanswered however. This left them with one option, to take Hesse by force.
Orland Debruyne unifies the monetary system
Before the war started Orland finally implemented his masterpiece. For years he had been working on a proper monetary system that could fulfill all the needs of the country. The implementation was easier said than done though. Many people preferred sticking to the old trade system and it took a while to convince them. However more liberal minded individuals embraced the changes and quickly specialized in the new coinage, which was commonly referred to as a Florin.
French forces blitzkrieg across the Burgundian border
Excerpt from ''concernant les rois Français'', unknown author*
In 1386 the French king Jean II had almost entirely retired from public service. His son Charles IV had taken over the leadership of the kingdom in all but name. Thus it can be said that it came as quite the surprise when the old monarch ordered the French generals to march onto Burgundy. War between France and Burgundy wasn't uncommon these days either. The powerful Burgundian Kingdom under Henri II ruled over much of the area that is now part of the Netherlands. As a last act of revenge Jean II wanted to remove this land from Henri's control. If he succeeded, and we know he did, it would effectively reduce Burgundy to a mediocre power at best.
So somewhere in April 1386 the French troops under command of Charles IV marched into Burgundy. France's armies quickly destroyed the Burgundian armies, leaving it for the many dukes that France counted back in the day to conquer it's cities. Without an army Henri II had no other choice but to retreat and hide behind the walls of Anvers, now known as Antwerpen. Here he actually managed to hold out for more than a year before all of Burgundy's cities had fallen.
On the other hand the French had already almost forgotten about their war with Burgundy. After infiltrators in the English court of Queen Jane I informed Charles IV that the English army was crusading in Anatolia against the Ottoman Empire, France was quick to declare war. England still owned land in southern France in the Aquitaine region and of course Calais.
Fortune wasn't on Charles IV side though. Mere months after the death of his father, he himself died in an accident. He was personally laying siege to the city of Calais when he got fatally injured by a stray practice arrow. His untimely dead led France into a crisis of some sorts. With no effective rulers the Regency Council for young Louis XI was left in charge of the country. They were quick to make peace with Burgundy, demanding the annexation of Hainaut and liberation of the Flemish nation of Belgium. Burgundy could do nothing but accept. Their lands were reduced to the core area around Dijon and the recently acquired regions of Liege, Luxembourg and Barrois.
France's war with England would last a lot longer though. However the story of Louis XI and his younger brother Louis XII is an entirely different one.
*Since we lack completely accurate information on this time period any dates might be slightly different.
War on Hesse!
A month after the Declaration of War from France on Burgundy Brabant also went to war. The army of Brabant had been expanded again to be able to decisively beat the Hessian forces. The Hessian army originally mustered in the Westfalen region, part of Cologne. Commanding the Hessian army was a distant relative of queen Jeanne, Ludwig II de Reginar, king of Hesse.
The Palinate wants to ally Brabant
The Battle of Westfalen
The Battle of Westfalen was a victory for Brabant. But it came at a great price. The Hessian army had taken superior defensive grounds in the Colognian province and only through the sheer number of men Brabant managed to break through the lines. Most of the Hessian army managed to retreat and fled to the province of Nassau. Brabant was unable to pursue them. General van der Most had to regroup and replenish his forces or his army would have been doomed right away. Thus it was up to the Münsterian and Colognian armies to deal with the rest of Hesse's army. They failed.
Burgundy is thoroughly defeated by France. Brabant's allies are fighting the Battle of Nassau
The results of the Battle of Nassau
In January 1387 Hesse's army again proved to be too tough. Cologne and Münster had been engaged in combat with Hesse already when Brabant's army finally arrived to support the attack. They were however unable to turn the tide. The result was total annihilation.
Nassau, near the town of Nassau, 17-01-1387
General van der Most ordered prince Antoine to take command of the First Reserve Brigade and help protect the eastern flank. The Hessian forces were breaking through the Colognian lines guarding the position. Antoine's younger brother Jean looked annoyed.
''What is it, young Prince? You look as if you have something on your mind.'' the general asked.
Jean rolled with his eyes. ''My brother is always the one who's actually allowed to do battle. I never do anything else but carry around messages and observe recruit training.''
''There is a reason for that. Your parents gave me very clear instructions to not send the both of you into battle at the same time. We need to be careful with our heirs.''
''I guess that's true but I want to fight for our country too! Especially now!''
At that moment another messenger almost crashed into the command post. ''Sir! The eastern flank has fallen. Prince Antoine is trying to hold back the enemy but they're steamrolling our centre from every direction!''
Trumpets sounded, ordering a total retreat to defensive positions a couple of miles behind the frontline.
''Retreat into the forest! Jean, it looks like you'll have a chance to prove yourself. We need to get as many men out of here as possible.''
Jean nodded and jumped on his horse. In the distance he could see the reserve brigade under his brother engaging Hessian cavalry forces. General van der Most was already leading a detachment of troops in the opposite direction to protect that side.
''This way! Fall back to the forest.'' Jean ordered the rest of the men.
They galloped into the forest. The trees drained out the sounds of the battlefield. Making it oddly silent, except for the sound of his own troops. When they reached a narrow passage they halted and set up a defensive line. ''We wait for my brother and the rest of their army to get here!''
Now that they weren't moving anymore the darkness of the forest was almost sensible. Strange sounds of both men and animals seemed to be coming from every direction. Jean almost expected the Hessians to mysteriously pop up behind him.
Then, all of a sudden, Antoine and his men appeared. ''I think we lost them in forest. The battlefield was a blood bath, brother. We can be glad if any of our troops survived. Let's get out of here first, we meet up with Geoffroi near Berg. If he survived...''
Jean nodded. ''Let's go.''
Together they had about 400 men under their command. Somewhere in the forest and surrounding lands more than 12.000 enemy troops were coming after anyone who survived.
A couple of months later Brabant takes its revenge
The battle of Nassau completely obliterated Brabant's army. The only positive thing was that Münster's and Cologne's armies had fled in different directions, allowing them to escape. It took general van der Most almost eleven months before a new army was raised and trained. This time, fortune was on his side though. Together with Cologne the Hessian army got beaten at Münster. They retreated into Nassau, but to no avail.
Without an army Hesse is forced to surrender
Hesse surrendered one month later. Ludwig de Reginar was vassalized and demoted to Duke as a punishment for his fierce resistance.
The Byzantines and the English are taking on the Ottomans
Aachen is next
Next on Orland Debruyne's target list is the newly liberated city state of Aachen. The city had been under Burgundian control for about the last twenty years. However with the French attack on Burgundy they overthrew the conquerors and declared their independence.
Brabant's navy is very prestigious
Brabant's bloodiest war to date starts
S-Hertogenbosch, Royal Palace, 09-04-1388
In the 32 years that she had been queen of Brabant, queen Jeanne had effectively become the dominant power in the Low Countries and the bordering German city states. Even though she was not as young as she once was anymore, her age hadn't deprived her of her future dreams.
Last year's war against Hesse had proven to be a lot tougher than expected. This had made her take the decision to expand the army even further. She couldn't very well let all these men just die on foreign soil. Together with Orland they discussed their plans on many occasions. She still praised herself lucky, even after all these years, with such a likeminded figure by her side.
Had her father still lived she probably would have married some German noble in exchange for certain rights, she realized. But that was not the case so she herself had made the decision. For Antoine and Jean that would be entirely different. Brabant was a relatively powerful nation, which brought obligations for everyone. Royal marriage arrangements were already being made with France and England in order to strengthen their bonds. Jeanne wanted war with neither of them.
A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. The royal physician entered the room.
''He's doing better, Your Majesty,'' he said while bowing. ''I've given him a mix of herbs to make him sleep a little better and ease the pain a little.''
Jeanne was relieved, the thought of losing Orland was hard to bear. ''Thank you, I will go check on him now.''
She quickly left the room and walked to the royal bedchambers. The hallway was decorated with imported carpets from somewhere in the Middle-East and paintings of her forefathers. Jeanne barely noticed them though, as she hurried herself through the hallway.
Orland seemed peaceful, sleeping in their bed. She knew that he had been through a hard time though. He had been suffering from a heavy fever for almost two weeks, something which was very dangerous at his age. She realized that, although their age difference wasn't big, it could be fatal soon. She sat down on the bed and grabbed his hand. It was time for Aachen first..
Time for another bloody war next time. It won't be any of Aachen's allies who's going to prove too much of a challenge though.