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Thread: The Second Bulgarian Empire - the House of Asen AAR

  1. #1

    The Second Bulgarian Empire - the House of Asen AAR

    "Съединението прави силата" (Unity renders power).

    Our story begins in the Year of the Lord 1185. The Second Bulgarian Empire emerges at the 1 January, ready to stand against the oppression of the crumbling Byzantine Empire. Basileus in Constantinople is weak, his armies are in disarray, fifteen years after the battle of Manzikert and vultures are gathering already over what has remained of the once proud Eastern Roman Empire. Threat of the Sejuks of Rum looms on the horizon, even the so-called the Kingdom of Heaven in Jerusalem is not enough to halt muslim expansion into Anatolia and its domination in the Middle East. Last twilight will soon fall for the Greeks and when the sun comes again it will welcome a new Empire led by the House of Asen. It's time for the Bulgarians to take the mantle and restore order in the East. However, the young Empire is surrounded by enemies - with hated Byzantines to the south and vicious pagans to the north. Bulgaria's true test of strenght is yet to come.

    There can be only one Empire of the East.

    Table of Contents:

    - The Rise of Bulgarians.
    - Bulgarian Civil War.
    - The Miracle of the House of Asen.
    - The Twenty Years War - part I.
    - The Twenty Years War - part II.
    - Man and Wife: The Family Comes First.
    - The Bane of Serbia.
    - The Game of Thrones - part I.
    - The Emperor's Gift.
    - The Game of Thrones - part II.
    - The Defense of Balkans.
    - Antemurale Christianitatis.
    - Far Cry.
    - Birds of a Feather.
    - The Deal with the Devil.
    - Into the Sea.
    - The Reconquista of Sicily.
    - Dictator of the Republic.
    - Wanton Crusade.
    - There Can Be Only One.
    - Lord of the Holds.


    - The Clash of Empires and the Eagle Throne.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 09-03-2013 at 16:47.

  2. #2
    First Lieutenant BaronVonHarry's Avatar
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    That is a tricky starting spot. The Cumans to the north might be the biggest threat. Good luck.

    Quote Originally Posted by Holy.Death View Post
    There can be only one Empire of the East.
    Of course if you swore fealty to the ERE, that would leave only one. :P

  3. #3

    The Rise of Bulgarians

    Tsar is unmarried, it's about time for him to secure the dynasty as well as the future of the Empire. First choice is Hungary; marrying into Arpad dynasty would secure my northern border, get me an ally if I would wish to fight the Cumans or Bizantynes and - possibly - claims on the kingdom itself. However, my offer seems to be not enough. Romans are out of question. Then I find a perfect match. In similar age, young Sicilian princess. Daughter and aunt of the kings of Sicily, with inheritable claims by blood. Constance d'Hauteville arrives at my court. This is very promising and very disturbing as my current law of succession is gavelkind.

    This brings another problem to mind: my brothers. While on the outside Empire looks united the truth is much darker, Bulgaria is divided between three brothers: Petar, Ivan and Kaloyan, each of them controlling 1/3 of the whole realm. Not only their power rivals that of my own (if not even surpasses it) but gavelkind succession law will be cause of civil war, I am sure - as my heir will replace my brothers in the line to the throne they'll try to remove him instead. It would be a shame if the future-be king of Bulgaria and Sicily died choking on the soft pillow...

    Some of my vassals don't like me - slightly - as my king rules very briefly, so I grant two minor titles to the two of them (a mayor and a bishop) to increase my income. Increasing crown authority right now would not be a smart move, better to leave it for the future when my vassals will get accustomed with my rule, or I will be strong enough to ignore their opinion and be able to behave kingly. I hope to amass wealth when...:

    Doux Alexios II is quite powerful duke of the Eastern Roman Empire, one of the most powerful in the whole of Byzantium... and he can be a true thorn in my side as I hold the second part of the duchy of Vidin. In the meantime I grant my brother Kaloyan title of court jester to provoke him to something rash so I could deal with him more properly. My firstborn daughter - Lidiya - only ensures me that something must be done about my brothers and the sooner, the better. I am glad she is born for another reason; I want to send her to the court of the kingdom of Hungary in the future for education to the king himself to break the ice in our diplomatic relationship. This might be enough for her to marry (matrimonially) some distant Arpad for allegiance and claims.

    Byzantines and their arrogance... I agree, it won't be my problem and the more trouble the basileus will have with keeping his vassals under control due to high crown authority the better as various dukes and Komemnos will want to depose or murder one another. When we talk about murdering kin... I suspected something like this to happen and I can only thank God that my firstborn is a daughter. She is still my kid, my current heir and I have plans for her. Duke Ivan is introduced to a cell in the dungeons where he will spend the rest of his life.

    War! Call to arms is sounded over the Danube river, Bulgarians rise once more to repel the Byzantines as they did barely a year ago. I am able to muster force of 5800 men while Alexios II has nearly 5000, to ensure my victory I enlist 1300 mercenaries of the Bulgarian Band. Just before the battle is to be fought I receive a letter:

    He is a jester. Or it's a joke. I am not releasing a man who will - without doubts - try to claw his way through my children. His titles are just a bonus to this and Kaloyan will benefit from this too as he'll get a few provinces as well when Ivan dies. Kaloyan is stupid or think I am, neither comforts me. 19 January 1190 the battle of Rila in Seredica is fought. Highly concentrated Bulgarian troops did break the weak center lead by Alexios himself, the Byzantine flanks collapsed into a full rout soon after and the victorious Bulgars hunted down the remainder of the enemy army all the way to Strymon province where they laid siege to the castle. The result for a war is a foregone conclusion:

    I get title of Duchy of Vidin as well. Not that it matters but such course of action should buy me some time before my arch enemy will strike again. Just after the peace treaty is signed and men are marching back home Ivan gives his spirit to the Lord - God, have mercy upon his immortal soul - and his holdings are splitted between me and Kaloyan who obviously loved his brother and insults me deeply:

    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-08-2012 at 16:09. Reason: a few typos

  4. #4
    El Presidente of Tropico & etc Ivir Baggins's Avatar
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    Make the pics a bit bigger, but otherwise, nice start.
    "Moab is my washpot, and over Edom shall I cast out my shoe." - Psalm 108:9

    I have a YouTube channel!

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by BaronVonHarry
    That is a tricky starting spot. The Cumans to the north might be the biggest threat. Good luck.
    I like challenge. I even considered starting as a duke but given the geopolitical situation and perspectives I decided to start as a king because I doubt that the Empire would survive until I'd get to the top. It is even harder as an orthodox nation I don't have access to the Pope, Crusades or Orders (specialized to fight non-christians). It also has it advantages sometimes. In fact playing as Bulgaria has opened a new, richer world to me, but it's a story for another entry which will arrive soon.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ivir Baggins
    Make the pics a bit bigger, but otherwise, nice start.
    Do you mean bigger pictures after the minature is opened or replace minatures with big pictures? I will try to do both, but I need to check out how to place full pictures first (and not minatures). I don't want to increase size of the pictures too big and seeing how the story progresses I will need to think carefully about screen selections. I have to stop playing the game itself for a while for the AAR to catch up, a lot of interesting things is going to happen.

  6. #6
    I think increasing the size of the full pictures was his meaning, as they do sometimes make the text difficult to reed.

    On the AAR itself, I'm definitely subscribed and curious to see where Asen brings Bulgaria, I'm always a fan of unlikely empires. I also admittedly like the almost brutal account of the events by the Tsar, harsh times breed harsh men. One criticism I would level thought was that I wasn't exactly sure which Byzantine duchy had declared war on you at first. From context it seemed obvious that it was Vidin, but I missed it on my first read-through.

  7. #7
    Very good start, I hope to have more story soon ^^

    And it's pretty good for you to have Duke Kaloyan revolt, no? Cause' you're under your desmene limit, and for the gavelkind thing you will need as titles as possible to keep your heir's desmene strong, no?

  8. #8

    Bulgarian Civil War

    Bible. Psalm 33:10.

    These are the trying times for the Empire, misunderstanding between the two brothers turns into a bitter power struggle over the throne. The realm descends into civil war. Two men claim the rulership of Bulgaria: duke Kaloyan I of Turnovo and tsar Petar III of Bulgaria. Their power is equal, as are their holdings - half of Bulgaria has followed the wayward (half-)brother. Remainders of the king's army numbers 3600 men, duke can call 5000 under his banners. The lords of Bulgaria decides that it's time to set aside their differences and support Large Feudal Tax Law to increase the Crown's income. This event, combined with a sizable tribute from Alexios II (388 coins) is enough to hire two additional mercenary companies (The Victual Brothers and The Pecheng Company) which allows to assemble total of 8000 men. With superiority in numbers ensured, after a brief respite for the veterans returning from journey to home the army is now ready to face traitor in battle.

    31 October, 1191. Two armies clashes in Nikopolis, near the town of Oescus where Kaloyan laid siege to his brother's holdings. His men are fresh and well prepared to battle, using terrain to their advantage against the relieving Bulgarian army. The battle last for a week but outnumbered and ill-equipped Turnovians are forced to flee, the cavalry make sure there are no survivors or scare them too much to be any organized force. The Bulgarian Band is dismissed as their men are almost wipped out and in the aftermatch of the battle loyalist army fields 4800 men willing to serve their sovereign. Mercenaries are dismissed, they has taken huge losses and I won't need them to siege the remaining provinces

    My firstborn son, Boris reminds me that it'd be good to secure the future for him and his sister, Lidiya. Count Mihajlo of Zeta was a son and grandson of dukes of Duklja (that means Zeta and another coastline province of current duchy of Rashka) and his successor will inherit it. I gamble my daughter's happiness and betrothe her to Mihajlo's second son, hoping that he will be far enough in line of succession to accept matrimonial marriage to create little Asens with claims on Duklja. Boris is betrothed to the firstborn daughter of the son of now-dead duke, this young man's uncle is currently rulling Rashka and has two sons in line thus making my offer even more acceptable to Nemanjic. His daughter will inherit his title and I can force her into patrimonial marriage with Boris - betrothed women are in worse position than men - and then his progeny will have claim on Rashka as well, allowing me to settle my dynasty there. Remember that Boris has claim to the kingdom of Sicily, thanks to king Petar's marriage with Constance. Future of my line is secured, should I die I have an heir to continue my work. Now it's time to secure the throne once and for all...

    My scouts has reported that Hungarian army (numbering 13500 men) has entered the Wallachia and laid siege to the province of Severin, figthing Cumans for these territories. Territories that by all rights should be mine! Cumans can call in 7000 men, they are also entangled with two more wars - with Byzantines, Qarakhanid and a few vassals and they are losing across all fronts. Perhaps it is time to strike. I declare the Holy War for Wallachia but don't make my move against pagans themselves. I am biding my time, counting that Cumans will attempt to relieve Severin and battle the Hungarian army there which will, no doubt, take serious losses before they arrive as supply is not enough to maintain over 13 thousands men. I hire the Company of the Rose and the Rus Band (around 1500 men) in addition to re-raising my levies across the realm. Siege at Dorototum which falls soon, then move 2300 men to siege Karavuna, hidden behind the Danube river I plan to capture my brother's holding and be ready to attack Wallachia at the moment's notice if the need arises. A detachment of Cumans - led by pagan warlord of Moldau - is ambushed while attempting the rivercrossing and destroyed. Khan Koncek the Fat is giving up 2/3 of Wallachia to Bela III of Arpad who then spits in my face.

    Situation is peculiar. Not only did Hungary manage to capture 2/3 of Wallachia, but invited The Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem, leaving me to fight 4500 screaming Cumans on my own (in the meantime my second son, named Petar - after his father - is born). Three years of war (1195-1198) with Cumans alone has depleted my chest from all the savings and tributes I managed to get from a successful defense against Dyrrachion three years ago, in 1195. And I still have a civil war to win, when I was fighting pagans my brother managed to size control of a castle in Nikopolis. I can't win the war with Cumans, but I still can have a head of my brother on spike. I decide to parley with my enemy for a white peace and send a letter to the khan. Considering my numerous victories it is is enough for him to accept my offer, but not enough to not insult me in the worst manner possible as Bulgar can be:

    I will remember that. When the time comes the Cumans will weep the tears of blood. With 100 coins left I hire 1000 of the Rus Band that are still able to fight and with 2000 total men I take back Nikopolis, rally men from there and Constantia. I am able to muster 2400 total against 1700 men of Turnov. After this battle:

    Eight years of civil war, countless death and a lost war with the pagan barbarians... I will treat my half-brother justly, have no fear:

    I rule The Bulgarian Empire. No one will ever challenge my God-given right to rule! Not even my half-brother! His lands should be mine. And they will be. I hereby banish him from the realm, forbidding him ever to return under the penalty of the pain of death. I confiscate his lands and holding, his titles and his gold. This makes my vassals angry, so I grant county of Torki (which somehow ended up in my Empire) to loyal and content Prijezda of Prezlav and fulfill wishes of marriage to those who want to be married (by inviting debutantes into my court), leading them by example as I marry Radka (a common courtier with good stats). Grand Tournament is organized to celebrate the end of the civil war:

    Palaiologoses usurp a title of the duchy of Vidin from me. Again. It's hard not to drink when you hear something like that. Right now they do have to quell the rebelious uprising, but another war with Dyrrachion is coming, I am sure. I can only hope that when they will come, they will not be supported by the rot, corruption and malevolence known as the House Komnenos. My second wife gives birth to a son, she proposes a name of Ognen but I give her long stare and name him more properly, Kaloyan - a fitting name for the son of the second wife of a tsar and a half-brother... My other children - whom I rise myself - have various adventures and I do all in my power that they'll act as befits their station.

    Petar III has a long memory, witnessing the fall of Crimea into the Roman hands and weakened state of the Khanate of Cumans I break the truce with pagans on 17 June, 1201. They're pagans and khan's father has insulted me, a sin of his father passed onto the son and I demand compensation in the form of duchy of Moldau. War progresses slowly when 7 July, 1023 an old enemy returns; duke of Dyrrachion, Michael I the Palaiologos and worst of all - a Roman, once again tries to push his claim on the duchy of Vidin at the point of the sword. My men are forced to abandon their campagin in Cumans once more to defend the souther border of my Empire...

    Tip: by clicking on the picture you can enlarger it even more if needed.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-05-2012 at 17:42.

  9. #9

    The Miracle of The House of Asen

    A few words:

    - I have so much material that I need to reduce number of screens in favour of the text. Historic events - really important from the AAR's point - will still be presented but don't expect too many screenshoots. I am heavily against "screens with a bit of text" style (which I find understandable only in comics, and it is said by a person who enjoys comic books, and maybe funny AAR's, like "Saltborn: A Crovan AAR" where it simply fits the narration). I will, however, try to limit the hit known as "the wall of text" or "tl;dr". In the Internet story must be passed on a bit differently than it is in a book and I will try to make story more accessible without sacrificing narration.
    - Narration change is in order. I made an AAR once presenting Japan in Hearts of Iron III, but my approach was unique (at least from what I've seen) as I focused not on stating facts but explaining my decisions from strategical point of view. Later on I learned more about Pacific War (and World War II in general) and found out that my overall strategy in AAR was the same as real Japan! It also resembled history books like Fuller's "The Second World War, 1939-45: A Strategical And Tactical History". I loved making it and reading it. I want to do the same here; to change narration in a way to make it a good read as for now I find it a bit lacking.

    The Second Bulgarian Empire is forced to defend her holdings in Vidin once more against the Roman duke of Dyrrachian who attacks when Tsar Petar's armies are fighting pagan Cumans at the northern borders of their realm, obviously hoping to take Bulgars by suprise and claim what - he claims - is rightfully his. While the Duchy of Vidin is de jure part of the Eastern Roman Empire the duke refuses to acknowledge that The Second Bulgarian Empire is no longer a servant of the basileus and Roman laws don't apply. In fact it's Michael I who's unjustly holding Naissus - the second part of the Duchy of Vidin and de jure part of Bulgaria. The battle takes place near the castle of Serdica in Southern Bulgaria. It is October 5, 1203. Both armies are evenly matched, but tsar's men are veterans led by skilled commanders, fighting on their own soil and - in fact - won many battles across the whole of Bulgaria and beyond in past twenty years. Romans are beaten back to Byzantium. It takes two more years to sign the white peace with Dyrrachion on August 5, 1205. Army is ragged and tired as war never stops but regardless of this Petar III orders the men to finish the war with Cumans. It's a matter of honor and he is adamant. In the meantime Lidiya is forced to marry patrimonially and the second wife of the Emperor of Bulgaria - Radka - dies. He decided to marry... Elaiodora Angelos, daughter to the duke of Samos. As a little stone can cause an avalanche this decision will shape the future of the Asen dynasty half a century later.

    Hencz I Koszegi, duke of Temes, vassal of Hungary. Not significant person himself but from historical standpoint very noteworthy figure, his importance will become clearer in years to come and will be the cause of bloodshed on countless scale. Boris is successfuly married with Mudary Nemanjic, ensuring inheritance of titles of Duchy and County Rashka, being one step closer to assimilation of serbian provinces laying to the west. 21 July, 1208 - khan of Cumans is willing to submit to the Emperor's demands. However, Roman interference five years ago was enough for the king Bela III to step in and claim counties of Bilrad, Belgorod and Olvia, leaving only Peresechen to the Bulgars, there - however - city and bishopric has been claimed by the Hungarians as well. To add insult to injury Teutons has been granted with county of Bilrad*. Tsar of the Bulgars and Greeks raged in his personal chambers, swearing that one day all these lands will return where they belong. Then the raven came with a letter attached to its leg. Black wings, black words, tsar's face turned pale as he read:

    Peace - it seems - is not for Bulgaria. Men has been returned home, some saw their families first time after many years and now they have to pick up the sword and shield again? How many of them won't return? But Petar is made of iron - he will break rather than bend. No one will see him begging for mercy, this approach is, however, not common among the tsar's court. In their act of desperation Bulgarian army is trying to bar the way of the Hungarian king in Nikopolis but to no avail, enemy army is triple the size of what Petar can muster. Medium Church Tax Law is insituted to afford mercenaries and the second son of Elaiodora is born, he is given the name Miroslav (the first one is named Momchil). After a three years the war is still far from over but situation is slowly turning from bad to worse in this unwinnable war as the capital city of Tyrnovo falls before Arpad's troops. Last army of the Bulgaria, totaling nine thousands men, is moving towards Tyrnovo, hoping to beat the Hungarian army and recapture the citadel. Petar III won't be able to afford mercenaries for much longer and they form half of his surviving forces. Just before the battle is called - in November 1211 - Tsar has intoned "Lord's Prayer":

    Our Father who art in Heaven,
    hallowed be thy name.
    Thy kingdom come,
    Thy will be done,
    on earth as it is in Heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our trespasses,
    as forgive those who trespass against us.
    And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.

    Then the popists are seen breaking the siege of holdings in Tyrnovo and marching back towards the weastern border, leaving bulgarian territory. Rumors spread fast: Bela III is dead! Some sweared they had heard sound of a thunder as the Lord Himself has struck down the false christian king who has dared to attack Empire blessed by the God! Regardless of the direct cause the war with Hungary is over and Vidin remain the part of the Bulgarian Empire. This event is given the name Miracle of the House of Asen and for some serves as a proof that the dynasty is protected by the God.


    This mark: * will be a sign that a link to an image is attached to the sentence. This way people can see situation for themselves which is sometimes much easier to understand than just words, I know this by myself and I don't have to flood my AAR with with so many pictures allowing me to maintain much clearer storytelling. Also feel free to post your suggestions concerining my AAR if you have any. It is the only way for me to know if something needs to be improved and only by improving I can make this AAR better.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-05-2012 at 17:42.

  10. #10

    The Twenty Years War - part I

    Bulgarian warrior-king never sleeps but dreams of conquests. Barely a year ago he faced hungarian invasion, he said: "God has a plan, he spared me to do God's work!". His entire life being that of war and strife it's the only thing he knows. To the south Duke Konstantion II of Adrianopolis, ruler to the of Duchies of Adrianopolis and Thessalonika* has raised a flag of rebellion against the Byzantine Empire led by Basileus David I - known in history as the Great - and Tsar Petar is willing to enter the fray and push dubious claim of the Count Dobromir of Serdica on Philippopolis. Trusting in God now he calls in the banners against the Bogumilist Duke Konstantion II. During this war son of Boris, Vojnomir, a tragic figure, is born. Prince Petar is married patriomnially to Princess Alix Capet, daughter and granddaughter to the Kings of France. In 1213 war for Philippopolis ends as the Duke is more willing submits to the will of the Basileus and face his wroth rather than surrender an inch of his lands to the Bulgarians. Tsar turns his attention towards Sicily* and the unsuspecting King Bohemond I the Magnanimous, intending to put his firstborn son Boris on the throne... Following the war declaration Limited Crown Authority is enforced in Bulgaria. Army, numbering ten thousands will make land in Capua and then lay siege to the castle. The military might of the Sicilians is broken at the Battle of Nocera in Salerno where they are outnumbered two to one. The war is progressing slowly with the Bulgarians having the upper hand when in March 30, in Year of the Lord 1216 the tragedy has struck:

    Boris is mourned greatly by his father, the late Emperor*. Prince Petar IV visits the Tsar at the deathbed of his brother. "Father" he said " you know how deeply I loved my brother. I urge you to honor his memory and avange his death. It is the Sicilian blade that has ended his life. Ask at the court, there is no man or woman who thinks otherwise. I am ready to take the mantle of my dear brother and meet the Normans in battle. I know Boris would say the same if he could". Tsar has kissed his beloved son in the brow, now cold in his eternal sleep, and left the chamber without saying a word. Two months later Bulgaria is at war with Sicily. This time to put Prince Petar IV on the throne of his own. When the men land in Palermo their ruler's advanced age (already not feeling well since death of Boris) is taking its toll*. In 12 June, 1217 Petar IV is asked to rule in his father's stead.

    Perhaps that's why some decisions of the Tsar seem strange at best. Like granting all his holdings to Petar instead of Vojnomir* who is - by all accounts - heir to the throne of Bulgaria and Sicily. When the Crown army fights for Sicily in Palermo terrible news are spreading across the Second Bulgarian Empire. The Tsar is dead! Long live the Tsar!* Young Vojnomir I is 4 years old when he is forced to face second war of his reign as in September 11, 1217 Duke of Dyrrachion, Michael I send his condolentions attached to declaration of war*. Fate is cruel as Asens are forced to abandon their campaign in Palermo to fend off the Greeks. Eleven months later Michael pays a large contribution which bolsters the young Emperor's coffers, almost depleted by mercenary companies hired by his blessed grandfather.

    Tsar is murdered by the hooded assasin whose identity remains unknown* in the age of 5, rulling for 1 short year. Newly appointed Tsar Petar IV, the Emperor of the Bulgars and Greeks speaks to the court - shocked by this recent death - and quotes his predecessor's last words: "May my kin avenge me!" and points out the Normans as the culprits of this vile deed. Some claim it to be the revenge of the Duke of Dyrrachion for his lost war over Vidin. Those who know that the only man who has gained everything by outliving his brother and nephew* dare not to bring their ruler's gaze upon themselves. Queen Consort Alix dies at the age of 32 after accidentally falling down from the tower. Her body is returned back to France. A widower send a letter to the Duchess Amburga I of Apulia d'Hauteville, kin and subject to the King Bohemund of Sicily with whom Petar IV fights over the throne. Surely she won't accept? But some people spread rumors that the Duchess is possessed by the Devil...
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-05-2012 at 17:43.

  11. #11

    The Twenty Years War - part II

    Petar IV continues the work left by Vojnomir and prepare his men for war to fight the Sicilians, like his father before him. Before that he is tasked with solving the problems of others. Most notably his half-sister's, named Penka, wish to get married. He finds a good match, a fourth son of the Count Dobromir of Serdica with claims on the County of Philippopolis. Unfortunately, he is already married with Felicia de Bogdana. Unlike his father Petar - forth of this name - is accustomed to get whatever he wants. Felcia dies a month later, giving her spirit to the Lord. Tsar sends a letter to Count Boril of Serdca, asking for a marriage between Penka and Vladislav. The answer is "no"*. The Emperor was silent for a while before acknowledging Count's decision with a quite, frightening voice. Two months later, in August 1220, Boril finds out that refusal to his monarch was "not in his best interests"* as he is thrown into a small, dark cell for the rest of his life. Having dealt with domestic matters - and having married with the Duchess of Apullia - Tsar of Bulgaria calls the banners in 1220 and hires The Great Company, assembling twenty thousands men to remind the King Bohemund who should rule Kingdom of Sicily and lay siege to the castle of Capua. His invasion is fortunately timed too, as the Normans are already fighting against Sultanate of Egypt in the Holy War for Duchy of Sicily.

    Count Prijezda of Torki - elevated to this state by Petar III - bites the hand that feeds him and declares war against Bulgaria. Penka reminds Petar of his promise. Refusing to confess that he was denied and unwilling to ask again for hand of Vladislav Dobromirov he marries her with the son of a second son of the Count of Tarsos which is currently in the hands of the Seljuks, mostly to force Penka to leave him alone as he is entirely focused on carving a throne of Sicily for himself. In 1225 King Geza III, the ruler of Hungary is asking for help in subduing Cumans*. Petar IV replies: "The King must be strong enough to win what he wants by himself, not by calling the others to win his wars for him". Insult is intended, not only Geza III is son of Bela III who invaded Bulgaria nearly two decades ago but married with Pavlina Komnenos no less, the mortal enemy of Bulgaria! Besides that Petar's legacy is still not secured as Sicily is determined to make Bulgars pay a blood price for their ambitions. In 1226 Miroslav Asen comes of age, son of Petar III and Eloiadora Angelos*. A man who showed a talent for intrigues, schemes and assassination. It was in his blood, his grandmother was Theodora Komnenos after all. Young Miroslav did catch the Emperor's eye quickly and became his right hand, the most trusted advisor and the closest person, surpassing everyone else in Petar's family. Komnenos and Asen became inseparable. As a man and his shadow.

    The rumor creeps from the East that the Roman Emperor, David Komnenos, has usurped the title from the Tsar*. This is the most disturbing development as the war for Sicily rages on and on, having already cost the lives of a thousands Bulgars. Petar - the Cruel - receives another message, from Count Svietislav Dobromirov, son of Boril who is trying to warn his liege against treachery*. With his family in Emperor's disfavor he is dismissed from the Tsar's sight. Having conquered most of the personal holdings of King Bohemund army is shipped off to Bulgaria, to deal with Count Prijezda, who rebelled some time ago. He who wishes to rule must show no sign of weakness. In 1227 a son, named Petar, heir to the Second Bulgarian Empire and Duchy of Appulia is born. One year later Count of Torki is caged and sent to dungeon in Tyrnovo. Count Aleksii of Peresechen (next to Torki) was most displeased by his senior's decisions with Count Boril as well as losing a seat in the Small Council in favor of Miroslav, the Komnenoi! Tyranny and treachery! No Bulgar can stand that. He decides to take up arms "for the greater good of the realm". In November, 1229 Aleksii joins his neighbour in Tyrnovo's dungeons as the Crown army set sails to Gulf of Naples.

    King Bohemund of Sicily is no fool, while he has lost war over his heritage - the Duchy of Sicily - to the Egypt, he was able to recapture most of his holdings across Capua and was lying siege to the castle of Calvi, the last corner of the Bulgarian ressistance. However, all hope is not lost for Calvi's loyal garrison as Marshall of Bulgaria, Vintila de Poenari, Vlach and a pagan follower of Tengri, leads the relieving army to face the Normans and reconquer Capua. The battle of Teano takes place 10 December, 1229. Twelve thousands men fought ten thousands. The battle raged for several days, Volturno river ran red with blood, but for all Sicilian courage and desperation in the end it were the forces of the Empire - superior in numbers, training and leadership - who has emerged victorious. Next battle, in Aversa was the last of the war, where the Sicilians were outnumbered two to one. In December 23, in Year of the Lord 1232 Tsar Petar IV "the Cruel", the Emperor of Bulgars and Greeks is crowned as King of Sicily.

    The Twenty Years War is over. In honor of this historic day the Grand Tournament will be held*.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-05-2012 at 17:43.

  12. #12

    Man and Wife: The Family Comes First

    The Asen dynasty is a dark one, even more so during the rule of cruel Tsar Petar IV, who - allegedly - has killed members of his own House in order to seize not one but two thrones. Body of his brother wasn't even cold when he manipulated his own father to support his claim for the Kingdom of Sicily - ignoring his nephew, Vojnomir - and without a shadow of doubt he has sacrificed lives of countless thousands of his own subjects to overthrow the rightful King Bohemund I d'Hauteville of Sicily. To make the irony even thicker the dreaded Bulgar is married with the Duchess Amburga I of Apulia, descendant of great grandfather, King Roger I of Sicily, while himself being the son of Constance d'Hauteville, Roger's second daughter. The same Roger who was great grandfather of Bohemund, who is now the Duke of Capua and subject to the Emperor and one of the greatest threats to the Second Bulgarian Empire. Blood of the kin and strife with his own family (both Asen and d'Hauteville) marks reign of Petar IV Asen. There are other nobles who don't look kindly upon the orthodox heretic; amongst them the most notable is Prince-Bishop Wymund of Benevento.

    Tsar knows that in order to keep the crown of Sicily he must weaken his opposition, he starts by giving honorable titles, reduces Crown Authority from Medium to Limited* and releases Prijezda Prijezdaov ot Prezlav from prison as the show of his (unusual) mercy. Most of the vassals are pleased enough not to revolt, the most importantly Petar's own wife who declares war on the neighbouring Duchy of Benevento. While undoubtedly mad - or realistic - this was course of action the Emperor could work with as lands and titles of his wife will pass on from Amburga to their son and heir, and if Amburga will kill some of would-be rebels, like Prince-Bishop Wymund, in the process that's even better. Duchess Marie I d'Hauteville of Salerno and Count Gerard de Barletta of Tell Atlas raise banners of rebellion. Soon after plot of Duke Bohemund about acquiring the Kingdom of Sicily is revealed by spymaster Miroslav and Bohemund is declared traitor to the realm and thrown into a prison* to keep him under control. Because of war Grand Tournament is delayed. After eight months of the siege of Salerno Duchess Marie dies in unknown circumstances which brings to end of her uprising*. Some rumors says that one of her brothers was responsible for Maria's untimely death (who died in young age of 28), others are indicating that she was married to Momchil Petarov Asen, brother of Petar IV who died almost a year ago, in 1232, before her rebellion and knowing that the castle is about to fall the Duchess wanted to die quickly rather than land in hands of her cruel monarch who'd undoubtedly seek retribution on the beautiful girl for his brother's death. By blood and law Salerno passes on to her uncle, late Duke Bohemund who has been placed under house arrest to ensure that the Duke of Capua and Salerno will remain Tsar's guest for a while longer.

    As the revolting Norman knights and nobles try to depose "The Usurper" the dungeon starts to swell and not only that in Tyrnovo. The Mad Duchess has her own share of prisoners as well in the castle of Lece, now capital to the Duchy of Apulia and Benevento. The ghost of Hencz Koszegi returns as his two grandsons are married with grandaughters of Petar III which will soon be the cause of a terrible clash of nations as both Tidvar and Nandor have claims for powerful duchies in Hungary: Pecs, Dalmatia, Transylvania and Moldau*. While Count Gerard of Tell Atlas was technically the direct vassal to Duchess Amburga she didn't lift a finger in his defense when de Barletta was stripped of his title and put in the dungeon for the rest of his life after caputre Tizi Ouzou, capital of his little county. In Sicily count Arnulf of Sicily has been openly conspiring against his liege, he was also a subject and uncle to the rebellious Duchess of Calabria and a potential traitor to the realm. His fate is sealed. Countess of Reggio (who languishes in the dungeons with her husband) is introducted to oubliette which Petar finds more suitable for traitors and rebels. During this time - July 26, 1235 - Count Svetislav of Serdca is asking for mercy on behalf of his grandparent, Dobromir*. The Emperor diplomatically instructs Svetislav to wait and in August 9, 1235 Count Dobromir is released from Tyrnovo with full paradon. He is one of but a few who has been spared much more gruesome fate. Like Duke Bohemund, who tried to escape from custody. Petar says that if the Duke is so dissatisfied with his house arrest's accomodations he can find something more suitable - oubliette. A year later Bohemund's body gives up and he dies. His title is given to his firstborn son, Simon I of Capua along with the title of seneschal while his brother Ryner - and Bohemund's second son - is named Duke of Salerno. Barely a month passes when Simon decides to avenge his father, his brother joins him two months later. They both will share the fate of their father, a fitting end. With their demise Duchy of Calabria is granted to Duchess of Capua and Benevento, making wife of Petar IV only real power in Sicily, second to his own. Bernardin I - brother of Petar V, son to Petar the Cruel - is granted with the title of Count of Taranto. With the fall of the two brothers the last uprising in Sicily is over, ensuring reign of Tsar who now turned his attention to Serbia...
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-05-2012 at 17:43.

  13. #13

    The Bane of Serbia

    Serbia have a king. In November 25, Year of the Lord 1231 King Zoran I Nemanjic, called Half-Hand. The legend says he has been maimed while blocking assassin's blade with his own hand. His close relatives has died at surprisingly young age as well, presumably by the hand of an assassin. The same assassin that Zoran was able to stop. Culprit was most likely Duke Eusebios I of Paphlagonia, husband to Anna Nemanjic and sister to Zoran. It is not certain if the Duke was working on his own accord or it was Anna who convinced Eusebios to murder her sisters and her only brother, to secure the title of King of Serbia for her son Konstantion. Suprsing was that both Zoran and Anna died the same year, 1243 with Anna outliving her brother for but a few months. One theory proclaims that she was assassinated after her failed attempt on Zoran's heir and only son, the boy-King Rastko. Another explanation is that the King's death was natural and the Duchess died due to illness which was confirmed. The exact truth is unknown to this day.

    While these tragic events were about to take place a three years before - in 1240 - Tsar Petar IV has dispatched another d'Hauteville, this time poor Aline who was completely unimportant but stood in a way of forming a politicaly important marriage for the daughter of the Emperor, his firstborn Donka. Djordje Radolfic would remain a nobody if not for Petar's ambitions to conquer Serbia. Son of a bastard and grandson of the Duke of Rashka, Rastko - called "the Kind" - with uninheritable claim on the Duchy of Duklja and inheritable claim on the Duchy of Rashka. If someone powerful enough would support his claims the unimportant man could become Count or even Duke with two titles... That's why young Nemanjic did accept offer to join the court of the Second Bulgarian Empire. Aline wasn't greeted warmly, on her first day an unknown assailant maimed her. Soon after she has been ran over by the cart and when Petar sent his proposition of matrimonial marriage with Donka to the fresh widower, Djordje couldn't refuse.

    After securing marriage of his daughter and ensuring the further invasion on neighbouring Kingdom of Serbia Tsar took a look on the map*. In place where Teutonic Knights once were - probably expelled from all Hungarian domains in 1225 - now Duchy of Samogitia stand, already invided by Seljuks of Rum, no less. Seljuks who are fighting a civil war. Cumans are surrounded by enemies and are weak, their power was long gone as powerful nations teared them apart. War for Turnu is declared in October 1, 1240. The same month Djordje - future Duke of Rashka and Duklja - is given the province of Torki as part of his liege's plans of the subjugation of Serbia. During the war with pagan a daughter of Petar's sister, Penka, named Rusudan Hetoumi was concerned about her not being marriaged. She was a result of Petar's ealier mistake he made during the Twenty Years War over the crown of Sicily. Now it was time to correct this mistake and reinstate her into the Asen dynasty. Rusudan was Petar's niece, her husband was grandson of Elena Ivanova Asen, sister to Petar III. Petar's IV aunt.

    In 1243 son of Petar IV "the Cruel" has come of age. A brilliant strategist who did surpass his father with his abilities on any field, but it was his marriage that would create a possiblity, a chance for Asens to establish the one, true and only Empire of the East, able to rival even with that of Romans. To be able to fend off Seljuks of Rum and Ayyubids of Egypt the Second Bulgarian Empire needed to control the Gateway to the East - the Byzantine Empire with its seat of power at Constantinople, which double walls has never fallen. A marriage of one man and woman would determine the future of the world powers. It was insane and it would work. The envoy has been sent to the court od Duchess of Transylvania, Luca Arpad. No one less than Miroslav Asen, the Tsar's right hand. He was to ask Luca Arpad for hand of her daughter, Agnethe Ylving. She was the second daughter of the second son of the King Knud the Careless. It was the crown that Ylvings has lost in 1226 year in favor of the House Hvide. Agnethe's second great-grandfather was no one else than Bela III Arpad, crowned King of Croatia and Hungary. In addition to the lesser titles of Duchess Luca herself, like Duchy of Dalmatia and Transylvania, it was enough to risk dissatisfaction of vassals at home as it was Bela III - the greatest King the Kingdom of Hungary ever had - who has invaded the Empire in 1208 and lost. Memory of the Bulgarians is long, they won't accept descendant of Bela III easily. In June 24, 1243 the union has been made and Petar Asen, fifth of this name, has left the court of Bulgaria to the court of Dalmatia.

    The very same year newly crowned boy-King of Serbia, Rastko I, didn't have time to bury his father properly as news has reached the capitol at Prizren: "The Bulgars are coming!". Indeed, after twelve years Petar was ready to push Djordje's claims. This time on the Duchy of Duklja. War was quick and decisive as Serbian's two major forces are destroyed in first two months, in the end in June 10, Year of the Lord 1245 Duke Djordje Radolfic Nemanjic, vassal of the Emperor Petar IV "the Cruel" - called the Bane of Serbia after the war - sat on the throne with voivoda's diadem placed on his brow*.

    With Serbians in check Petar IV and Miroslav turned their attention to another scheme, concerning his son and possible grandson. They've decided to start a dangerous game, the Game of Thrones.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-05-2012 at 17:44.

  14. #14
    Ugh Peter “the cruel” is utterly ruthless! The sheer amount of killing (assassins) and underhanded things he is willing to do, to strengthen his “Empire” leaves me hoping that he has the same fate! I honestly don’t know if I should root for the Bulgarians or what appears to be more tame and less cut throat Byzantines lol

  15. #15
    Indeed, but there were reasons behind Petar's IV cruelty. Petar IV is unlike his father who was very simple man. Not that Petar III was incompetent, first Tsar of Bulgarians was in a difficult position and there were little he could do, ensuring marriage between Sicily and Bulgaria was one of the best options I had. It allowed me to stay in south-eastern Europe as conquering small nations around the world would be a bit ankward from geopolitical standpoint and historic context. Sicily was also similar in power and no one else was going to fight over it. Unsuccessful wars with pagan Cumans has been caused by much more powerful neighbours claiming the most of lands in question and constant interferences of various foreign powers.

    I am going to summarize the reign of the cruel Tsar in the next chapter, where the Mad Duchess will also receive a just judgement (a terryfing prospect). As for the Byzantines... Petar seized the throne in time of need and allowed Bulgaria to rise as regional power, Komnenoses in Constantinople do only one thing: cling to their throne before next Komnenos will take place on it. Yes, there are fewer Emperors back in Eastern Empire but behind the scenes and away from the Basileus's sight the family plays their favourite game of backstabbing at it's finest and mostly because of that the Komnenoi are a slowly dying breed. Asens are three to four times bigger family (42 to 15 and 11) than Arpads and Komnenoses. They also fight less amongst themselves so far.

    If you think that Petar IV is killing many people (by assasination only!) then you'll have to wait for two next chapters (I added Table of Content and Coming to give some glimpse what next chapter(s) might be about) when Petar's son, Petar V, will be crowned Tsar of Bulgarians, Greeks, Normans and (soon, I hope) Serbians with ambitions of Asens lying beyond all these titles. He is supposed to be the Son of the Devil after all, child born of a union that's appaling even for their own subjects, who are harsh people themselves, and cast a shade across the region. You can say that Petar "the Cruel" was able to launch a palace coup, true. But Vojnomir was 5 years old, unmarried and was unable to stop his uncle as he was his Spymaster in the Small Council (for the lack of anyone better and because of carelessness). Petar IV, while twice as talented as his father, wasn't master of intrigues. You should give some credit to Miroslav Asen, son of Eloiadora Angelos and grandson to Theodora Komnenos. It all was posible because of him. And he is the part of all that is yet to come.

    I started this AAR more in gameplay style, then it evolved in history book style, but the truth is that I should create a new category: Dynasty. I pay great deal of attention to the fate of people entangled with the House of Asen, one way or the other, as you surely read in past few updates. Take d'Hautevilles, the Serdica family, Nemanjic dynasty or even Miroslav Asen for example; I write their stories (with source to these writting being actual history and in-game events, real in-game events which, from time to time, I show you). I am amazed myself how well the gameplay fits the story I write. Sometimes by accident (starting second war over Sicily for Petar IV and giving his all the lands when being incapable was a mistake, I simply forgot that I will have to play Vojnomir but as I take what is given I didn't reload and simply play. It makes the story more alive, as some events are truly miraculous). It is not about winning the game, it's about telling a story and story is composed by the actions of people. That's why I spend more time looking at the dynasty trees, depicting geneaologies of some character. Fighting d'Hautevilles as yet another House is one thing, fighting your own family (as they are Petar's IV mother's family) is entirely different affair. Same goes for the others. This makes this game and this ARR alive for me. It was the game I was waiting for, without even knowing it. Everything is here: strategy, politics, faith, ambition and so much more...

    So much for a short answer. More updates will come soon, but after The Game of Thrones and before The War of Knives will be the moment where I left playing for a while to let the ARR catch up with the game, meaning that new updates won't come as fast as all chapters I made before. I need some material in order to tell the story properly. I thank everyone who read this ARR and everyone who did comment so far. I am glad it's not only me who is enjoying while both writting and reading this AAR!
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 03-04-2012 at 21:23.

  16. #16
    It's a great read so far. I am Bulgarian, so it's even more enjoyable for me. Keep it up.

  17. #17

    The Game of Thrones - part I

    Only a few knows that Petar IV was often tempted to commit adultery*, but for all his flaws he was a man of the state, a servant of the state and a builder of the state and his desires stood under that of the Empire. While adultery itself wasn't a problem for him it could be for his wife and any conflict with her - slowly descending into madness - could start a civil war. It would also enrage his Marshall, Vintilla de Poenari, and that wouldn't be a smart move as Bulgaria needed her best commander and a national hero on the eve of war with Hungary. There were many reasons that led to this decision. One of them was establishing Count Tivadar's hereditary claim to the Duchy of Pecs* - Tivadar was descendant of Hencz I Wolferfi Koszegi, whose claim on Vidin was reason for Bela's III invasion on Bulgaria in 1208, now the tables have turned - in order to weaken very powerful neighbour while Queen Maria I was forced to fight revolts in Wallachia, Transylvania and Bosnia. Seljuks of Rum were also invading the coastline and sieging the province of Belgorod. Petar IV was also hoping that the war will give his ally and his son's mother-in-law - Duchess Luca - enough time to overthrow the Queen of Hungary, bringing the Asen dynasty one step closer to the throne. On the 4th October, 1245 the Empire is at war. The Ten Years War has begun.

    First task before Bulgarian army was to cross the border, but it was guarded by more than just men. Dinaric Alps, a mountain chain in Southern Europe, barred the way. Going through hostile territories of Hungary, or - theoretically - neutral Serbia alone was a dangerous journey and would cost many men, even before the first skirmish of the war. There was another, safer way. Men-at-arms has been loaded on ships waiting in the Gulf of Varna and from there set sails to the Adriatic Sea, where they intended to make land near Zadar and take it by suprise. Petar's gambit was successful, when he was attacking southern Hungary eighteen thousands of combined Hungarian-Croatian army was marching east of Belgrade, obviously hoping to block the way for the Bulgarian forces. Instead of them they found a large host of the Saracens lying in wait... With their forces evenly balanced, after a long combat the Hungarian knights were able to rout pagans back to Caucasus Mountains from whence they came. Despite taking losses both from combat and attrition Hungarians laid siege to Nikopolis and Vidin. In the middle of the war burghers asked for an audience with the Emperor, claiming they can't afford to pay the taxes*. Truth was they were paying 20% less than the Orthodox Church, so it was more likely they wanted to line their own pockets. Not willing to anger the commoners in this difficult times the Tsar has promised to look into the matter "as soon as good of the realm will be secured". 13 December, 1246 a general call to arms was sounded across Sicily, allowing to gather another ten thousands men. It was a show of power for Konstantinos', the Duke of Epirus, fabricated claim on to Tyrnovo* to keep him away as well as reinforce army attacking Croatia, half of the men was then dispatched to attack Vas and Szekesfehervar as a response to the Hungarian armies ravaging northern Bulgaria.

    At the end of August, 1247 three things happened: commoners in Tyrnovo - displeased with subsequent war taxes - started to gather arms and men* and a revolt was at hand, province of Turnu finally has been taken from the pagan hands* and a letter asking for support in the war was sent to Duchess Agnethe, who replaced her mother, Luca*. It wasn't certain if Duchess Luca's death was of natural cause. Most likely her coup failed and due to the realm's difficult situation status quo was maintained and ambitious Duchess died soon after. In 1250 war has taken a turn for the worse as the Bulgarian detachment - numbering almost eight thousands men - was catched unawares by almost eleven thousands of Hungarians. From this point to 17 August, 1252 the Empire was losing and Queen Maria has decided to give Petar IV chance to come out of this situation with a face and sign the white peace. Tsar refused and took Knin by force, slaughtering the defenders there. Shortly after that a revolt broke in Karavuna as people had enough of the war and its cost both in men and coins they were forced to lend. At the fall November, 1253 Hungarians has been pushed from Bulgaria deeply into Pest where the battle took place. Outnumbered papists has been either routed or killed, ensuring that the conflict won't end soon by military power alone as both sides still have enough men and willingness to continue struggle. In March, two years later Tsar Petar IV was gaining the upper hand when Bohemund II the Drunkard, Duke of Capua declared independence, it was a huge mistake on Bohemund's part as in June 13, Year of the Lord 1255 Count Tivadar gave his spirit to God after long illness. The war with Hungary has ended inconclusively.

    With the Ten Years War over men has been transported across the Adriatic Sea to Capua to put rebellious Duke into the cage. When they were sieging the castle the late and powerful Duke Konstantinos of Epirus declared war on Bulgaria*. 8 May, 1258 Duke of Capua was lingering in prison and Konstantinos closed his eyes forever, leaving his 11 years old grandson whos father died of phneumonia seven years ago. The boy had little hope when facing mighty and dreadful Tsar who inspired fear even in able-bodied men. Peace treaty is signed in 1260 and Epirus has been forced to pay a hefty contribution (1000 coins), doubling the Empire's treasury. Petar ordered upgrade and repairs of the castles across his personal holdings in Bulgaria. November the same year Tsar invaded Serbia once more to put a second diadem on the brow of his son-in-law. In very first battle he took prisoner Prince Vladislav Nemanjic, King's second brother*. Before any decision could be made Tsar Petar IV, the Emperor of Bulgarians, Normans and Greeks has passed over to Christ. Or - as some say - to the Devil...

    Serbia is surely rotten to the core as even at war, sieging the walls of Rashka the newly apointed Emperor Petar V receives an unlikely message. Serbian Duchess of Duklja, subject to the King Rastko I proposed the Tsar to back up her plot to lower the Crown Authority of Serbia*. The deal has been made. Back home Prince-Duke Bernardin, ruling his holdings from Taranto, conspired to take the title of King of Sicily for himself. He is found dead in his bed as is his daughter, Duchess Donka I. A small white coffin has been ordered for unfortunate child as they both were buried with the honors that befitted royal family. April 11, 1261 German I, Petar's V only son, is calling for aid against rival Dukes*. The answer could be only one. War. News came from Sicily as Miroslav has unearthed a plot of the late Duchess Amburga I who wanted to steal a title of King of Sicily from her own son. Without husband to control her the Mad Duchess of Apulia has been locked away and later moved to private quaters, more suitable for noblewoman of her position. She will die in a house arrest, screaming in latin, hebrew, armenian and a few other languages that no one understands, scratching the walls and cursing the Lord, Christ, the Holy Father and all the Saints...

    Petar's IV cruel reign of terror - strengthened even more by marriage with his second wife - allowed Bulgaria to rise to power and become major player in the region. His family also prospered, as long as they didn't brought the wroth of their Tsar upon themselves, as d'Hautevilles did. While cruel and ruthless it was Petar's influence that caused all family in-fightings to cease, maybe it was fear, but regardless the reason it made the Asen dynasty stronger as a whole. Petar III managed to set foundations that Petar IV used in the best of his abilities. While not destined to rule (as he was second son) he managed to sit on the throne of Tsars and perhaps he was the ruler the Empire needed. With fear came order and with order future can be build... As for the Mad Duchess, she was intelligent and knowable woman. It is not certain what drove her insane. Some claim it was in her blood, as one of her ancestor - Roger I, King of Sicily and Duke of Apulia - was excommunicated by the Second Lateranian Council. Others said that it was young Amburga's devotion to books as not all things are written for the mortal souls. No matter the direct cause of her madness she seemed to retain some of her sanity, at least for most of the time. The union of these two brought peace to Bulgaria and Sicily, even if it was fear that made their subjects too afraid to squabble amongst themselves. However, with so many sins they've committed it's the Hell that awaits them... And, the time will tell, perhaps the whole Asen family. God have mercy on their immortal souls. Petar V was about to lose his, if he didn't do it already.

    With Serbian King and Hungarian Dukes beaten by the Emperor, he had to realize how little he knows about women as his own wife plotted his demise, for uncertain reasons. It took some time but not only did she stop seeking her husband's death but agreed to become faithful Orthodox. There was another score to settle, with Queen Maria I who's staunch defense of Hungary interfered with plans of his father. She had to be removed. And she was. May 26, Anno Domini 1264 Miroslav Asen's another victim was cold and with this single blow Hungary and Croatia splitted up, forming two separated Kingdoms. But it still wasn't enough. Two days later young Prince Geza was also murdered by an unknown assassin. King of Hugary, Jeno must have suspected something after his child untimely death and was able to defend himself against knifes that came for his life as well. It took six consecutive attempts, with King Jeno slowly descending into paranoia, but the deed was done. German I was crowned King of Hungary.

    For all magnitude of this moment, it was only but a prelude to much greater glory for the House of Asen.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 03-05-2012 at 21:06.

  18. #18

    The Emperor's Gift

    Castle of Tyrnovo, capital of Bulgaria, June 7th, Year of the Lord 1264

    "What's the point of having an advisors?" my father once asked me. I looked at the men assembled at the Small Council's table. My father left his mark on all those he has influenced. Some - like Count Dobromir of Peresechen, named the Master of Coin and Steward of the Realm, present at the meeting - never quite recovered. After his stay in Tyrnovo's dungeons Dobromir has emerged different. Broken. He often woke up at night, his screaming echoed and re-echoed through the walls. Many people died down there, they're mostly gone now but screams have remained. My court thinks the castle to be cursed, that Tyrnovo's stone blocks somehow has absorbed tormented howls of men and women. That our Lord and Saviour has damned us all to Hell. Some even claim that my father himself stalks the corridors at night, forbidden to enter Heaven, and pleaded me to open his coffin and drive an oak stake through his heart. Nonsense! It's the wind, my prisoners and imagination of fools!

    At least I hope it is...

    After the death of our Marshall, Vintilla de Poenari, this position has been filled by Count Prijezda of Serdca. According to one of a few grim tales surrounding my father's reign his grandfather, Boril, died here. Just a few levels below, in a place usually reserved for traitors after he refused to accept a marriage proposition for the Tsar's firstborn daughter. For such an honor he had been insulted. That wasn't something a man like him would simply forgive and forget.

    Tancred I d'Hauteville, newly appointed Duke of Capua, Chancellor and Seneschal of the Empire. For some not trustworthy enough to be given such an important position. His brothers and uncles did perish in Oubliette, died during the Twenty Years War fighting my father or died under murky circumstances. However, how could I don't use such a talented young man like him? The ruler who is afraid to use his resources is not fit for rule. I needed to keep my friends close and my enemies even closer, it was also a chance for him to prove his loyalty once and for all. He was given the choice - a position of power at my side or chains.

    Last person present at the meeting was Bishop Boril. Mastermind teologician and Court Chaplain cursed with an hunchback. We both knew that it was me who elevated him above his peers and rivals. To keep his position he had to be useful and loyal. I knew I can count on him, of all people, if not by kindness alone then for being important in maintaining his superior position in the Orthodox Church across Bulgaria. He was man easy to understand and even easier to manipulate.

    "Thank you for coming at such short notice, my lords" I said. "You're the Tsar, my liege, we all here serve at your pleasure" answered Tancred with a smile, looking consecutively at the rest of my advisors who noded in agreement. "I really appreciate you all for attending" I said. "We've received a message of great importance from Hungary. King Jeno I is dead". Count Prijezda waggled uneasily on in his seat. "With all due respect to you, Your Imperial Majesty" he said, "Why does it matter? Let the Arpads quarrel for the throne, it's none of our concern". "That's where you are wrong. The Archbishop of Esztergom will place the Holy Crown of Hungary on the brow of my son, German".

    Advisors were astonished. Chaplain cought, "Isn't the young King German of Catholic faith, the follower of the Pope? Wouldn't our support for the hungarian monarch be seen as inappropriate by the Eucumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople?". I frowned. "If His All-Holiness won't support our cause then perhaps the Second Bulgarian Empire should have its own Patriarch who will be more likely to see reason and benefits of friendships of the Hungarian King, would-be Tsar of Bulgaria and King of Sicily. For too long the head of the Orthodox Church has been pupet in the hands of the Romans" I looked at Boril and saw a flash in his eyes. I rised my hand to signal that I want to speak more. "I think" I begun, "that your faithful service to the Empire needs to be rewarded, good Bishop. Let it be known from this point on that you're given the County of Taranto and be known as Metropolitan". Boril was speechless and I noticed that Tancred - for all his smiles - looked down at priest with cold eyes, wondering if he won't be a potential rival to the title of Duchy of Salerno.

    "My lords" I focused their attention on the matter at hand, "I decided to send a token of my support to Sarbogard. This gift" - I pointed at the small chest lying on the table before me - "is to be presented before the King and his court". "It isn't" started slowly, and perhaps a bit cowardly, Count Dobromir "a severed head, my Tsar?". I shaked my head and opened it, the eyes of the Council started to goggle as they realised its meaning. "I will send Djordje of Rashka" I said. "He is no diplomat!" protested Tancred. "That's why you're going with him" I smiled, "It's only fitting that my gift would be presented by Djordje". Prijezda looked at the content dubiously. "Are you sure that the King will be able to comprehend the importance and the meaning of your... present? He is barely fifteen".

    "It is not for him. It's for them" I answered, looking at the chest. Inside, displayed on plush upholstery, was laying a small object. A knive. The Komnenoi dagger.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 08-04-2012 at 03:00.

  19. #19

    The Game of Thrones - part II

    The King of Hungary was a boy, already maimed in a previous assassination attempt, a foreigner in his own realm. Only a fool gamble everything when a single, sharp blow can end one's life. In the Game of Thrones even Kings can be pawns, moved by the hands of the player. It was obvious that the lords of Hungary will not rest and the Roman Emperor can always make a move. Croatia was still outside the influence of Asen family. Petar V needed a backup plan to make sure that both Kingdoms will be part of Bulgaria.

    Domoszlo Salamonfi - a cousin to Miklos, King of Croatia - whose mother had claims on crowns of Croatia and Hungary. Marriage between first daughter of the Bulgarian Emperor, Bogdana, and Domoszlo made sure that the Asens will remain the main players for the double Hungarian-Croatian crown. The only son of Miklos was too well liked to find any co-conspirators on the plot against his life. Miroslav Asen has been sent to Hungary once more, and soon Petar has received a message that Croatia is in mourn. This was the time to strike.

    Barely a month after Prince Peter's untimely death, in 10 February, 1265, Bulgarian army has crossed the eastern border of Croatia. Miklos' men stood their ground in Serbia, but in the end did nothing more than slowing enemies on their way to the capitol. In October, 1269 most of Croatia is conquered, the King is given an ultimatum and he decides to step down in the name of Queen Consort Agnethe Ylving. Ylvings have their own crown title now, if only for a very short time. It'd please her mother greatly to see what became of her progeny... After the death of Agnete crown will pass on to King German I who has managed to sire an heir, securing Asen's hold on the throne.

    In July the late Queen Amburga has died. Duchy of Benevento has been granted to Miroslav Asen, for his long and faithful service to the crown. Prince Kaloyan, Petar's uncle, has been given the Duchy of Apulia. Count Ranulf has been named the Duke of Calabria to both ensure his loyalty and in spite of the revolting Countess of Reggio. Soon after the Emperor has created the titular title of the King of Naples. After two years the war for capuan independence is over. Countess Yolanda d'Hauteville is stripped of her land and title which is given to the Duke Ranulf d'Hauteville. During his campaign in Croatia Petar V shows his mettle and becomes known as "The Lion". Duchess of Cantazaro decided to fight her liege, Duke of Calabria. With their forces evenly balanced the outcome came be only a good one as neither of the d'Hautevilles will gain an edge over one another and they don't have enough power left to plot against their King and Emperor.

    Countess Yolanda of Capua is complaining about her accomodations. Strangely enough no such complaints could be heard from the Duke of Salerno. It was probably why the Duke Rayner I of Salerno has survived more than two decades in the Lion's Den, outliving anyone thrown into the Tyrnovo's dungeons. He was a hard man to break or kill. Petar decided to show mercy and put the Countess under the house arrest. Half a year later Yolanda has escaped! Miroslav Asen has died two months before, his son Hranimir has been made next spymaster, and the Emperor has run out of patience. He send a gift to German I and invited him in his scheme of killing the Duke Matyas I of Pecs. Unfortunately the plot is revealed and this undoing will prove to be a critical mistake...

    The Pope calls for the Crusade for Jerusalem, but it won't be the Church of the West who'll contribute the most to the Crusade against the Saracens. For the latter came - in December 1269 - from the ill-mannered Sultan Ridvan Seljuk of Rum.

    The Holy War for Moldau is declared. The Emperor looked on the letter for the some time and... smiled. He said: "Assemble the Asens". A call to arms has been sent to King German I and Queen Agnethe I.

    The Tripple Alliance has been made.
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 04-05-2012 at 02:37.

  20. #20

    The Defense of Balkans

    The Komnenoi Restoration

    The world has changed. The Greek could rule the world and, for the time being, they did. Once. Much has changed since then. Since the battle of Manzikert the Roman Empire was fighting the endless battle with their arch enemy; the Seljuks of Rum. It was after that event when the Byzantine Empire was forced to call out for the rest of the Christian West for help, leading to Crusades. The First Crusade was a success and has ended with the creation of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. It was supposed to last forever. It stood for one hundred and a fifty years.

    With the Crusader State gone the Eastern Roman Empire was forced to fend for itself against the Saracens. While the Roman Empire still commands a formidable force the combined might of their enemies makes them fear the shadow of the Crescent, looming on the horizon. For the Shi'ite faith of Muslims stretches from as far as Iberia in the West to the distant lands of Persia to the East. It's obvious that might of the Romanion is slowly fading and pales in comparison to that of their enemies. However, the Komnenoi Restoration led to conquest of the large parts of Crimea and secured the remains of the Kingdom of Georgia, now fallen. Now the Empire is fighting over Thracesia, to stem the Muslim advance. Rum didn't sleep all this time though, as Seljuks conquered Abkhazia and part of the coastline near the Gulf of Varna, surrounding the new byzantine holdings and opening the Black Sea to their fleets.

    Now the Turks has turned their attention to Bulgaria.

    The Defense of Balkans

    The rulers of Bulgaria always knew that the time will come when their might will be needed against the horror that lingered in the East. They only didn't expected it to come so soon. Just as the Queen-wife of the Tsar Petar V became crowned as the Queen of Croatia, Bulgaria has been forced into yet another war. But this time she didn't fight alone... On 6 April of 1270 over twenty thousands Bulgarian knights has crossed the Danube river and entered the Turk-controlled Galaz, another eleven thousands troops from Hungary were en route to join forces and converge on the enemy city of Belgorod...

    On the 20 of June the Battle of Olvia was fought. 11 000 Bulgarians has been outnumbered by 14 250 strong Turkish army, after ten days of fierce fightings they were outnumbered two to one. On the morning of 2 July the reinforcements from Belgorod have arrived. Now it were the Bulgarians who were outnumbering the Turks two to one. The combat raged on and on, ending two weeks later. Bodies littered the field and the ground has been painted red as streams of blood dribbled to the Dniester river and into the Black Sea. From the initial of 15 000 strong army less than four has survived the battle and even these remnants were catched up and annihilated by the Hungarians. Bulgarians lost little less than a six thousands men total.

    Undaunted the Seljuks landed in Constanta and engaged the Hungarian army near Adamclisi. 12 000 Muslims against 13 000 Christians who were soon reinforced by the Tsar's army himself. In the end the Allied troops outnumbered their enemy three to one. The commander of the Seljuk army wrote: "The offensive on Moldau failed. All sacrifices and efforts of our valiant troops has been in vain. As a result the army's strength and morale is greatly undermined". Survivors fled into Birlad's mountains where they joined with 6000 strong regiment moving through Carpathian Mountains. They were followed by the Hungarians who outnumbered the enemy two to one and crushed the resistance. The last significant battle of the war was the battle of Varzaresti, in Peresechen. Rum tried to surprise the Bulgarian army by launching surprising attack from the north with 13 000 men. In fact these very men became encircled from all sides by three equally strong armies of Petar V. It was a massacre after which, on 8 June of 1271, Sultan Ridvan the Great was forced to sign unconditional surrender and make large post war contributions.

    The Holy War for Moldau was won. It was the climax of the Muslim invasion into the Balkans and, in later years, twilight of their presence there. It was time to fight back. It was time to take back Karavuna. The call "Not a step back!" became the call "Forward!".
    Last edited by Holy.Death; 13-05-2012 at 20:37.

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