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Thread: The Réduire: France 1399-1419

  1. #1

    The Réduire: France 1399-1419

    The Réduire
    France 1399-1419

    Divine Wind




    The fall of France began with a monarch's death. Charles VI met a Breton blade in Vendee on September 12th 1404. Without their cherished king and wartime hero, the French Réduire began; within twenty years, France would be doomed.

    From the Pretender revolts to Toulouse's fateful rise, the darkest age of France is recorded here.


    Table of Contents

    Charles VI de Valois (1380-1404)
    Guillaume and Louis: 1399-1401
    War of Blood and Cardinals: 1401-1404

    Regency (1404-1411)
    Death and Despair in Normandy: 1404-1406
    A Child's Mutilation: 1406-1411

    Xavier I de Montfort (1411-1419)
    The Knights of Toulouse: 1411-1412
    When Burgundy Sweeps the North: 1412-1413
    The Fall of France: 1413-1419
    Last edited by ncm; 26-03-2012 at 20:29.

  2. #2
    Charles VI de Valois
    Guillaume and Louis: 1399-1401




    The Battle of Perigord of Wednesday 4th 1400: the decisive victory for Charles over Guillaume.


    France was not united in 1400. To the observant eyes of the Parisian court, this much was clear; the Plantagenet kings of England and the Dukes of Burgundy regarded France as a playground for their influence. The Valois monarchy was little more than putty in their eyes, ready to be struck down by an angered sword. Local regimes were the cancer in France's heart, inspiring the action of patriots from Lyon to Toulouse against the Valois kingdom. These duchies that undermined Valois power in the south were loathed by the Court. The Valois court was dominated by four men; the beloved but mad king, Charles VI, and his ministers - the renowned theologians Pierre d'Ailly and Jean Charlier de Gerson with the civil servant Pierre d'Entraigues. Encouraged by d'Entraigues to consolidate his rule over all of France, in October 1399, the regalis legis was proclaimed. The law stipulated that God's will was for the House of Valois to subjugate all of France in their dominion, a clear attack against the Duke of Orleans Louis I and other self-governing rulers throughout the country.

    The regalis legis removed whatever powers invested in local Valois rulers, demoting barons suspected of rebellious inclinations and introducing Charles' puppets as replacements. The law was the first reformation towards autocracy in France. Unrest was stirred among these disgraced lords, who began plotting the reclamation of France from Charles VI. The unlikely claim of Guillaume de La Ferrandie, a mercenary commander, to the throne of France stoked the conspirators' dream, and on Friday 14th October 1399 he had garnered such support that 4,000 soldiers and peasants gathered under the Ferrandie banner outside the Perigord fortress for a long siege. Styled Guillaume I Ferrandie, the Madrid-born, thirty-six-year-old French commander was a lifelong mercenary enjoying ancestry deeply immersed in the Knights Hospitaliers.

    Troubled by Guillaume's revolt, Charles VI sought to solidify his legitimacy as King through negotiations with foreign powers. In early November, an alliance was agreed with the Teutonic envoy, ratified later by hochmeister Konrad von Jungingen. A minor royal, Elisabethe, married the Scottish heir David Stewart - Charles VI agreed with his court that, upon King James' death, a Valois monarch would govern in Edinburgh whether through rightful succession or war. Initially, Charles VI delegated the containment of Guillaume's Revolt to his senior-most general, Jean II Le Meingre. While Charles negotiated the pact with the Teutons, Le Meingre led an army of 9,000 to Perigord. After a month of fighting, on the 1st of December Le Meingre ordered a retreat to Toulouse.

    The attack at Perigord had been disastrous. Nearly 2,000 cavalrymen had been slaughtered by Guillaume's troops, his skill as a mercenary general honed for such an occasion. The chevauchée soldiers had been a third of the French standing army, the remainder being infantry wielding the recently-introduced halberd. Angered, Charles VI took personal command of the same force, now demoralised and wallowing in Toulouse. The personal leadership of the King inspired the remaining 7,500 to great feats; the second assault on Guillaume's rebels began on 15th December, and ended on Wednesday 4th January 1400 with Guillaume's force routed and the pretender himself beheaded.

    The failed Guillaume's Revolt set the precedent that the House of Valois would use force to protect its claim to France. The remainder of 1400 oversaw the marriage of a minor Valois prince to a Burgundian princess for reasons similar to Charles' nefarious plotted takeover of Scotland. France established a key contact in the Holy Roman Empire (HRE) in the Austrian Empire, which quickly became an ally of an increasingly stable France. With its influence in the Vatican falling to a push from London for an English Pope, the reading of the Holy Bible was restricted to clerics and noblemen in later September. The Court commissioned a tapestry recalling the defeat of Guillaume and a religious painting for several planned churches in northern France. A host of Frenchmen were hired by foreign courts in October, earning the French treasury welcome funds.

    Inspired by successful finances, on Wednesday 25th October 1400 Charles VI led the Armee Royale of 12,000 halberders and 3,000 cavalrymen into Orleans. Intended as a restoration of Valois power in the city, Duke Louis panicked. Louis' army was directed to Paris, but was intercepted and slaughtered by the Armee Royale. At Orleans, Louis' army was captured and executed alongside their leader. After a 173-day siege, Orleans capitulated in early July 1401 and entertained the direct rule of Charles.

    King Charles VI now turned his attention to the English duchies on his rightful land.

  3. #3
    Nice Aar, will follow. The picture is cool too, I would like to see a few others ! Just as a note, it's kinda weird to read about chevauchées in the Armies of France. Historically it was more a method used by the English armies to go through and loot the provinces, and occasionally the cities.

    However, what do you mean by the réduire ? It can't quite grasp the meaning...

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by migsjalv View Post
    Nice Aar, will follow. The picture is cool too, I would like to see a few others ! Just as a note, it's kinda weird to read about chevauchées in the Armies of France. Historically it was more a method used by the English armies to go through and loot the provinces, and occasionally the cities.

    However, what do you mean by the réduire ? It can't quite grasp the meaning...
    I know very little about pre-1815 history (even then, my only area of remote 'expertise' is Germany), therefore inaccuracies are likely to be in the hundreds by the time this AAR is finished. However, any correction is welcome. I was mostly going on the fact that the game itself calls the cavalry chevauchées. Were there any special terms for cavalry in the Hundreds Year War-era in Western Europe, or was it merely light and heavy cavalry?

    According to Google Translate (the beloved tool of the lazy writer), 'reduire' means 'reduction' in modern French (I don't think there are any oil translators on the internet, alas); this AAR focuses on the 'reduction', or 'fall' of France from regional power to a weak, unstable and poor state. I may continue it to describe the 'rise' of France, if the country ever recovers from what my terrible skill at EU3 will put it through. Perhaps the annexation of a few vassals in the coming decades may restore France's fortunes.

  5. #5
    Eudaemon Bagricula's Avatar
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    Delightful premise! I am subscribed.
    "My good man, this is not the time for making enemies." - Voltaire, on his deathbed, when asked to renounce Satan.

    "We give you no fixed place to live, no form that is peculiar to you, nor any function that is yours alone. According to your desires and judgement, you will have and possess whatever place to live, whatever form, and whatever functions you yourself choose." - God to Adam, Oration on the Dignity of Man by Pico della Mirandola.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by ncm View Post
    I know very little about pre-1815 history (even then, my only area of remote 'expertise' is Germany), therefore inaccuracies are likely to be in the hundreds by the time this AAR is finished. However, any correction is welcome. I was mostly going on the fact that the game itself calls the cavalry chevauchées. Were there any special terms for cavalry in the Hundreds Year War-era in Western Europe, or was it merely light and heavy cavalry?
    It meant quick cavalry roaming the land to avoid getting snatched by superior armies. It was composed of any kind of fighters, and usually a lot of archers. You know, being English and all.

    Quote Originally Posted by ncm View Post
    this AAR focuses on the 'reduction', or 'fall' of France from regional power to a weak, unstable and poor state. I may continue it to describe the 'rise' of France, if the country ever recovers from what my terrible skill at EU3 will put it through. Perhaps the annexation of a few vassals in the coming decades may restore France's fortunes.
    Then : La chute (de la France).

  7. #7
    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    Réduire is a verb, meaning "to reduce". Reduction would be "la réduction" - dastardly Frogs, stealing perfectly sensible English words. I suppose you can go with "la chute" as suggested, or "la baisse" (or "Le Déclin" - there they go again, the thieving onion-munchers! ).

    Anyways, wonderful concept for an AAR, well-written and short enough to stick into my already overstuffed reading schedule. I will be following. Judging by the table of contents, it'll be an exciting tale.

  8. #8
    Major Aetherius's Avatar
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    La baisse isn't good Oh and, It is the english who steals french words (norman ...)
    Chauvin un jour, chauvin toujours !

  9. #9
    bezrodniy kosmopolit Morsky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aetherius View Post
    La baisse isn't good Oh and, It is the english who steals french words (norman ...)
    Chauvin un jour, chauvin toujours !
    It was a little joke about the silly Anglo-French rivalry. I'm aware of the history of English. If I've accidentally offended any Frenchmen, I apologise. (And yes, having checked it in use, baisse apparently wouldn't work in this context. Titlewise, ncm is certainly better off listening to the natives, although "le déclin" apparently makes sense here as well.)

  10. #10
    Charles VI de Valois
    War of Blood and Cardinals: 1401-1404




    The Battle of the Channel, 1402: a Scots-Teuton flotilla battles in vain against an overwhelming English encirclement.


    With the Teutons, Austrians and Scots' favour, Charles' dreamed liberation of Gascony and Calais seemed real. Since Edward VII had claimed the French throne following the Capetian extinction with the 1328 death of Charles IV, England and France had been locked in a resurgent conflict in which all was staked between them: for the English, the prospect of a restored Angevin empire lured their hopes, and the intact rule of the Valois dynasty ascertained French attention. Amid this endless war, Scotland - a kingdom constantly threatened by the grand ambitions of England, which had sought since Caesar's invasion to dominate the British Isles - and France had co-ordinated a longstanding alliance that rescued both from an English stranglehold. As French advisors ascended through the ranks of European courts, the sympathies of many kings turned to what the Habsburg Duke Albert termed "those brave Frenchmen, who have scuttled the greed of the English across their shores for many years and restrained them to their petty island."

    With the world's unsaid support, on Monday 13th August 1401 the French ambassador in London relayed Charles' declaration of war to Henry of England. Honouring their own alliance treaties with the English, Britanny and Portugal were drawn into the conflict. The Breton king, Charles de Vitre, recorded in his diary on the eve of war:

    "War has revisited these lands once more. As the immortal feud between Plantagent and Valois rears its green head once more, the petty kings of France must choose their battle - and I have chosen the stalwart friendship of England to the barbarism of France."

    De Vitre led the Breton army of 8,000 peasants into Normandy, hoping a rapid strike on French possessions would earn Britanny's freedom. His gamble failed; Charles VI arrived with 14,000 men in October, and by December had laid waste to the Breton army after its retreat to Armor. However, the Armee Royale could not rest, for through Gascony the English general Robert Knolles had subdued Perigord and had converged on Limousin. Charles VI began a month-long march to the south, finally meeting Knolles' army of 6,000 in late January 1402. After devastation in Limousin, Knolles retreated to Limousin though was apprehended by the Armee Royale. He surrendered on 23 February, though the English garrison at Perigord refuted his orders.

    With the Armee Royale unable to subjugate Brittany, de Vitre raised a new army and led it to Normandy. Before de Vitre had arrived, a few thousand Teutons landed in the Vendee after skilfully evading the English navy. Despite the Teutonic assault, de Vitre did not depart from Normandy. Therefore, the French general Le Meingre raised a peasant army of 4,000 from Paris and the surrounding regions. By July, immediately after the defenders of Perigord surrendered to the Armee Royale, Le Meingre arrived in Normandy. At the same time, the French vassals Armagnac and Auvergne entered the war on their master's side; the former overtook the Vendee from the Teutons, who moved north to Morbihan. Despite this existential threat to Breton independence, de Vitre moved two new armies into Normandy as his forces seemed to gain an edge over Le Meingre's force.

    History is still divided over the wisdom of de Vitre's Norman adventure: while, by late August, Le Meingre retreated with half his men dead, the Armee Royale had arrived in Armor with crushing numbers compared to the Bretons. His army exhausted, by September 1402 de Vitre surrendered to Charles VI. However, his sacrifices were not in vain: with a defeated Scotland at the mercy of England, the first foreign army - 8,000 Portuguese men - landed in Caux. Although Charles soon celebrated their demise in October, he soon realised that he fallen for the most dire of traps.

    At sea, a Scot-Teutonic flotilla of 4 carracks was overwhelmed by the 50-ship might of the English fleet. Despite this opportune moment to strike, the English did not land any armies. Meanwhile, Charles' erstwhile romance with a peasant-girl culminated in the unlikely birth of a heir, also named Charles on the 22nd January 1403. With England avoiding a land war despite naval domination, the war fell into a lull until April: the remnants of the Breton army were captured as the Teutonic Order and Armagnac occupied Brittany. However, on the 3rd of April, Teutonia accepted a bribe from the English court in exchange for peace. Despite Teutonia's exit, the war failed to change: Brittany was occupied with occasional interupption by Breton guerrillas or Portuguese raiders, with England twice offering a truce to France. The war seemed to be won.

    In February, despite the vast reserves of the French treasury, Charles VI happily accepted several requests from noblemen for church appointments in exchange for payment. With a precedent set for noble control of churches, within the next few months many religious sites fell into noble hands and out of the treasury's purview. By September 1404, popular support for the Valois monarchy was dim as it effectively let its nobility merge with the church to the great distaste of the peasentry: with fears of a national revolt evident in the French court, the continued refusal of peace with England was criticised by the court. Many historians regard April 1403-September 1404 to be the commencement of the réduire; of the fall of France.

    Beaten and dejected, Scotland exited the war on the 2nd September. Austria, which had never actively participated anyhow, soon followed. Without allies and facing an Anglo-Portuguese coalition, Charles VI steadied himself for a long war.

    At the height of his power, on the 12th September, a Breton patriot attacked Charles' small entourage on a journey from Armor to Paris and killed the French king in forfeit for his own life. Charles VI was dead when his country most needed him.
    Last edited by ncm; 24-03-2012 at 23:06.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by migsjalv View Post
    It meant quick cavalry roaming the land to avoid getting snatched by superior armies. It was composed of any kind of fighters, and usually a lot of archers. You know, being English and all.
    English for scurrying away from their enemies?

    At the moment, I'm staying with The Reduire as the infitive 'reduire' is enigmatic yet distinctly French. Le Declin and La Chute are both being considered, though. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morsky View Post
    Anyways, wonderful concept for an AAR, well-written and short enough to stick into my already overstuffed reading schedule. I will be following. Judging by the table of contents, it'll be an exciting tale.
    Cheers. I'm doing one GC AAR - The Bactrian Rite (shamelessly self-promoting here) - that I'll be devoting a lot of time to, though mini-AARs like this one are always enjoyable. A welcome rarity among AARs is one detailing a catastrophic defeat rather than the typical national rise, the latter being depicted by The Bactrian Rite among many others.

  12. #12
    Regency
    Death and Despair in Normandy: 1404-1406




    Baron Aigeus d'Airan, Regent of France 1404-1411.


    Their king slain and no will to follow, the French nobleman Baron Aigeus d'Airan was elected head of a regency council composed of twenty senior lords and court-men. Baron Aigeus' reign inaugurated the Aigeun period of French history, spanning his Regency amid the turmoil of the English war and growing nationalistic sentiment in Occitania, the southern provinces of France, and the rebellious streaks of numerous duchies throughout France. Aigeus descended from Crusader knights, like the pretender Guillaume, though was not versed in combat himself: he was a statesman, negotiating between the different influences affecting French politics - the church, the nobility, the military and the people - to further his own agenda. Aigeus sought to crown himself and the d'Airan family kings of France, writing in his diaries;

    "What does a man want but the apex of power, the velvet fur of a crown and the subjected millions praising his name? I am a man above all, and this is my unvanquished desire."

    Nonetheless, Baron Aigeus never revealed his grand ambitions or ever acted to consolidate them: with France focused wholly on the war effort, political reforms could not be instituted. Despite private agitations favouring the conclusion of war, the jingoistic frenzy whipped up by Charles VI in his noblemen prevented any sort of peace settlement in which Gascony and Calais were not returned to their rightful dominion of France. Baron Aigeus presided over the French throne for the 2-year-old heir, Charles de Valois, whose illegitimate heritage as the bastard son of Charles VI and a peasant girl infatuated with the monarch was concealed, who demonstrated promise from a young age in mathematics. Aigeus acted as a substitute father for Charles, devoting much of his free time talking to his nurses and observing the child; if anything, he was a greater parent than the heir's namesake.

    With Charles' assassination leaving the French army in disarray, the first English force - numbering 14,000 - landed in Normandy and retook the province by July 1405. The French were concencrated in Brittany, which was slowly being subjugated by the French crown after its army's crushing defeat: with a beach-head established, England rushed to its ally's defence. The 15,000-strong Armee Royale was commanded by France's chief military leader, Jean II Le Meingre, who after hearing of the English siege of French-controlled Armor directed his forces to the city. With a slight numerical advantage and the controversial deployment of halberdiers, Le Meingre's attack suffered from logistical failures that ultimately led to the Armee Royale's decimation by Hallowen. Baron Aigeus was enraged by Le Meingre's meek leadership, though nonetheless left him to lead the reconstruction of the Armee Royale - as was completed by April 1406.

    In the interval, Aigeus negotiated a favourable peace with the Breton king Charles de Vitre that ceded Armor and Finistere directly to the French crown. Aigeus' urgency for peace came after the English Royal Army liberated Finistere, narrowing France's negotiating room with the Bretons. Additionally, Aigeus' cousin Guillaume d'Airan recruited a 5,000-man halberdier army responsible for Occitania. d'Airan routed a small Portuguese army that crossed the Pyrenees into Toulouse in August 1406.

    In the same month, the French heir Charles was poisoned. Aigeus reportedly collapsed at the child's bedside, and sent for a doctor immediately; however, the medician was of no use. On Friday 22nd July 1406, Charles was pronounced dead. As the French court recorded its shock, it was not aware of the great mutilation that would befall the body.

  13. #13
    As a fan of declining empires and France both, this seems right up my alley and I'm eager for more. Such a fall makes a possible rise and return to power all the more interesting, so if you do end up doing a sort of sequel to it I would be very much interested in that as well.

  14. #14
    Recruit Kavinsky's Avatar
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    I agree, "The Réduire" doesn't mean anything.
    "Le déclin" or "La Chute" are proper.

    By the way, i hate this cliché (oh, a french word ) saying that French people are frogs eaters, which is totally wrong.
    Last edited by Kavinsky; 28-03-2012 at 15:48.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by JuvenalianSatyr View Post
    As a fan of declining empires and France both, this seems right up my alley and I'm eager for more. Such a fall makes a possible rise and return to power all the more interesting, so if you do end up doing a sort of sequel to it I would be very much interested in that as well.
    The Reduire's save was deleted, though I'm sure a similar course of events could be re-enacted with a different state - the narrative of a government thinking it's awesome before launching into a disastrous war is familiar to history. Noting your Francophilia, would Burgundy, one of the French OPMs in 1399 or a later-dated France (War of the Spanish Succession, say) be good for a national collapse?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kavinsky View Post
    I agree, "The Réduire" doesn't mean anything.
    "Le déclin" or "La Chute" are proper.

    By the way, i hate this cliché (oh, a french word ) saying that French people are frogs eaters, which is totally wrong.
    The thread title can't actually be changed, so unfortunately The Reduire has to stick - Le Declin was winning me over until that realisation. But saying to a frog the Frenchman doesn't pander over his kind's succulent thighs is self-destructive, like heroin.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by ncm View Post
    The Reduire's save was deleted, though I'm sure a similar course of events could be re-enacted with a different state - the narrative of a government thinking it's awesome before launching into a disastrous war is familiar to history. Noting your Francophilia, would Burgundy, one of the French OPMs in 1399 or a later-dated France (War of the Spanish Succession, say) be good for a national collapse?
    Burgundy also occupies a fascinating place in between France and the Holy Roman Empire in culture and history. I might have to try something similar myself, though, once I get the chance. The game's timeframe encompasses most of my favorite periods of history, but I find myself liking the more character focused gameplay of Crusader Kings presently. That and I'm just pretty terrible at managing my economy in Divine Wind but that will just come in time.

  17. #17
    Regency
    A Child's Mutilation: 1406-1411




    The 1406 Battle of Armor: the Armee Royale beaten resoundingly by Henry IV's inspired English assault.


    The heir's death initiated mourning in the French court, the last legitimate hope for a continued Valois monarchy extinguished with the child's passing. However, the treatment afforded to the corpse and the resultant scandal became clear after six months thanks to the investigations of a nobleman lost to history, whose reports shook the establishment's faith in the Aigeun regency: Prince Charles' body had been torn by dogs and dumped in a satchel into the Seine river, the latter rumoured - though never confirmed - to have been ordered by Baron Aigeus himself. While Aigeus always denied these accusations, attesting that the Prince had been poisoned and captured by English spies, he nonetheless lost the favour of the court as his reputation was slandered by the scandal. France, amid a war tilting between victory and defeat and gathering nationalist furor in Occitania, was left with an unpopular regency rendered politically impotent by powerful generals. Hence, the senior commanders Jean Le Meingre and Guillaume d'Airan effectively became France's 'silent dictators'.

    The two generals' immense popularity concealed their battlefield ineptness; mere days after the scandal, Le Meingre's Armee Royale suffered a crushing defeat against the English Royal Army in Armor. For the following two years, England would freely occupy Brittany and Normandy until its repulsion in May 1407 Battle of Normandy, where the Armee Royale of 24,000 men massacred an Anglo-Portuguese force of 11,000 under Duarte de Avis. Portugal's contribution to the war effort was outstanding, distracting a large cohort of French troops under Guillaume occupied with rudimentary defences against woefully undermanned Portuguese invasion forces marched through Iberia for months. Nonetheless, the 1408 defeat of the the Portuguese forces in Brittanny warranted a Christmas Day Franco-Portuguese white peace. Nonetheless, the English Royal Army of 11,000 concerned itself with Normandy whilst French forces liberated Brittany.

    After Portugal's exit, the war was confined to the English Channel for several years: the Armee Royale, with superior numbers, fought off inspired English attacks. Guillaume's army occupied Gascony with little resistance. It took until 1411 for the defining feature of France's fall to rear its ugly head.

  18. #18
    Onto Xavier!
    Quote Originally Posted by JuvenalianSatyr View Post
    Burgundy also occupies a fascinating place in between France and the Holy Roman Empire in culture and history. I might have to try something similar myself, though, once I get the chance. The game's timeframe encompasses most of my favorite periods of history, but I find myself liking the more character focused gameplay of Crusader Kings presently. That and I'm just pretty terrible at managing my economy in Divine Wind but that will just come in time.
    My next AAR will concern Dracula's Wallachia, which due to the absence of a mass impaling tech will likely result in downfall.

  19. #19
    Well, history teaches us that even mass impaling technology was not enough to stop the Ottomans.

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