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Thread: Born to Breed: The Estridsen Lectures

  1. #1
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Born to Breed: The Estridsen Lectures

    Born to Breed: The Estridsen Lectures

    - An Introduction of Sorts -

    a welcome, a curious decision, a few gratuitous insults, bitching about the ministry of education, the incompetence of, and students, the worthlessness of, setting the scene for the first lecture, a curious royal decree, the rules and goals, an index.


    Welcome to this lecture series on the history of Denmark. We will be examining the chain of events that sprang from King Svend II Estridsen's curious decision upon hearing that his relative had invaded England and, ultimately and by many byways, led us to the world we have today.

    For your information, the scholarly work underlying the lecture series has been bastardized almost beyond belief in order to present the information in an easily-digested version suitable for nincompoops by order of the minister for education in a misguided attempt to popularize ancient history. You can rest assured that no real work will be required from you sorry lot, whom I am compelled by direct order of the dean to consider my students.

    I realize that scurrilous gossips amongst earlier so-called students may have enticed you with words such as “outrageous”, “a feudal mess of epic proportions”, or “inbreeding is how you make the best racehorses” but rest assured that this is a sober lecture series without pretty pictures and with no focus on the rather lurid events taking place as reported with horror in Saxo Grammaticus' Gesta Danorum. Rest assured that they will be mentioned only in the passing and with the greatest discretion as befits the acts of the kings and princes of Denmark.

    Each lecture will be short and to the point with no digressions of the sort encouraging intellectual activity or independent thinking. Motivations will be largely guessed at or ignored as time allows. Students are encouraged to bring pillows, lest they hurt themselves when falling asleep.

    And thus, without further ado, let me set the scene for the first lecture.



    1066 and all that


    Fall 1066. Three men struggling for the throne of England. King Harald of Norway was invading England from the north, Duke William of Normandy from the South, and King Harold of England was caught in between. Stuff of potential high drama though these days considered a footnote in the annals of history, but the importance for this lecture series is the impact it had on Svend II Estridsson and his sons. So let us forget those three losers and let the mind's eye swivel to focus on the man that mattered.

    He was the son of a count named Ulf and of Estrid, sister to Knud the Great, and daughter of Svend I Forkbeard, who was the son of Harald Blue-Tooth, who made the Danes christians, and himself the son of Gorm the Old. His lineage was second to none. He was also an old enemy and older friend of King Harald of Norway having contended with him in the Danish and Norwegian wars.

    His claim to the throne of England through his mother was as good as anybody's, or at least he considered it so, but he had made a deal with Harald after their last war to stay out of Harald's business so long as Harald stayed out of his, and Svend was arguably a man of his word. At least he argued so. Svend would focus on Denmark and get his realm in shape rather than going viking. Of an honoured lineage, Svend were to become known by his matronymic and, in time, so were his many sons.

    Do you see him yet? Tall and strong and darkly handsome, no longer young but still ready to seize the world by the throat and the women by the buttocks? No matter, it is he, Svend II Estridsen.

    Now, Svend loved children, and he loved the begetting of them even more. It is fair to say that he was a lusty man and had many bastards to his name, for the church's teachings about legitimacy and bastardy had not yet been fully assimilated in Denmark. Every bastard of his by a noblewoman was legitimate, and that was that.

    His advisers strongly advised him that getting church-approved legitimate children would improve Denmark's standing in the world significantly and with his holiness the Pope in particular, who could be a real killjoy where the issues of the flesh were concerned, so they started shopping around for a suitable chaste and not too shop-worn princess on the international marriage-market.


    Fall 1066: Shopping around for a chaste princess



    King Svend wasn't particularly interested in marriage to a chaste princess, so when he noticed there was a young hot Italian duchess on the market, he snapped her up. According to Saxo, his confessor put down his words for eternity, though it is likely that he paraphrased rather than quoting the king verbatim: “Sure, she might be seen as beneath my dignity, but my dignity is mighty indeed and I'll stay on top to show her who's the boss. She isn't reputed to be chaste, but only empirical tests can resolve that question and I'm up for it. Finally, she reputedly has a face like a pumpkin and doesn't speak a civilized tongue like Danish, but these are not necessarily downsides. Your objections are all silly. Let's not disappoint his holiness over trifles. She's young, she's available, she has huge tracts of land, and I want her. Gentlemen, let's rock.”

    Class dismissed.



    Rules and Goals


    I am playing CK2 version 1.04c. (VH difficulty). There are no specific goals apart from deliberately doing slightly silly things as the narrative allows and doing my level best to perform suboptimally overall rather than going all out, nor any specific rules save not setting up an anti-pope unless I can find a truly amusing reason to do so. Which I probably cannot.

    I do not intend to play this AAR through to the bitter end, only to play it until I get bored, get buried in work (as happens way too often), or some new patch invalidates the save game. If I find out that it is turning into a WC game despite my best intentions not to, I'll terminate it on the spot. You have been warned.

    Updates will be infrequent due to work; I expect two or three over the first week as I have enough material collected for a decent start, then probably one per week or so.


    Index


    Introduction – the thing you are reading right now.
    Svend II Estridsen 1066-1068 – a tale of the first exodus.
    Svend II Estridsen 1068-1070 - the worth of his word.
    Harald III Estridsen 1070-1079 – the Serene.
    Harald III Estridsen 1079-1083 – Bloody Harry.
    Erik I Estridsen 1083-1095 – his life and his times.
    Erik I Estridsen 1095-1096 – the First Crusade.
    Erik I Estridsen 1097-1111 – Ordering the Realm.
    Lennart I Estridsen 1111-1113 – Bad to the bone.
    Asger I Estridsen 1113-1120 – his Regency.

    A historical footnote to those confused by the title: CK2 names the Danish dynasty Ylving, tracking it paternally to Svend's father Ulf. This is consistent with CK2's approach to naming, but nobody cares about Ulf Jarl.

    Svend's claim to the throne came through his mother, Estrid, and he was happy to use that fact for PR purposes. Due to the unprecedented historical fact that no less than five of his sons became kings of Denmark, one after the other, and that the line remained kings for a very respectable three centuries, latter historians looking for a snappy title for this grouping of kings labelled them Estridssønnerne (the sons of Estrid, or the Estridssons) and talked about the house of Estridsen. I have followed their lead.
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 29-06-2012 at 02:03.
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  2. #2
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    superb stuff ... and good to see you taking on CK

  3. #3
    Ulf and Ylving. Must be Danish naming conventions -I'd expect Ulfing, except no-one would take the family name seriously. Not surprised they took the name Estridsen. Svend's bride sure is ugly and beneath him, but has but one duty to provide sons for the Danes shall conquer the world -not a world conquest. I'd still like to see an attack on England and the Danish throne uniting the thrones of Norway and Sweden ... and as princes of the Empire through Slesvig and Holstein become Holy Roman Emperor. Then reclaim the lands ruled by those lost kinsmen the Normans -Scotland, Ireland, Hungary, The Two Sicilies, Normandy and the Holy Land (as yetto be ruled) -

    but no, this isn't a world conquest. Definetely not, in no way, shape or form.

    Along for the ride. Should be fun.

  4. #4
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Born to Breed: The Estridsen Lectures

    - Svend II Estridsen -

    on agricultural simile and melons, the provinces of Denmark, different types of strenuous work, the joys of family life, second-hand courtiers and earplugs, the importance of moving out of the nest, a marriage market most extraordinary, beating up heathens, parental displeasure, beating up more heathens, stirring the diplomatic pot, infuriating even more heathens.


    Welcome back, class.

    To recapitulate. It is 1066 and Svend II Estridsen was king of Denmark. Encouraged by his council, some of the most skilled men of Denmark, he had just proposed marriage to a pumpkin-headed, cabbage-eared Italian duchess, who was apparently best described in agricultural terms. Probably melon-breasted as well, one shouldn't wonder.


    King Svend's Council, top men one and all.



    Svend had 14 living children at the time, most of them male, and he controlled all eight provinces of Denmark as king, with direct control of half the country and the other half being under the control of the Hvide dynasty in Fuenen, a trusted aide in Bornholm, and his son and likely heir, Harald, controlling Jylland and the Danish parts of Holstein.

    King Svend's Family



    Now, some sources say that good king Svend from his stronghold in Ringsted was soon engaged in strenuous work improving research, military training, and tax collection and that he grew tired of the infighting between his sons at court and their constant complaints that they weren't given an opportunity to show their valour in battle and of his daughters' sighs and meaningful hints as to their marriageable state and how they weren't getting any younger distracting him from his great works.

    Other sources say that he was galloping his new wife for all he was worth and the noise distracted the rest of the family to the point that the sons started bitching about having to make do with used female courtiers past their prime, while their father did all the deflowering in Ringsted, and the daughters started wearing earplugs and instructing him via sign language that his behaviour was undignified while envying and hating their new step-mother in equal measure, though we can probably discount these sources on the grounds of implausibility.

    Whatever the case, king Svend II Estridsen decided that it was past time for his grown children to go into the world and make a life of their own.


    The First Estridsen Exodus


    The court became a veritable marriage market. Most importantly, princess Sigrid was married off to king Boleslaw II the bold of Poland, and princess Gro to Olaf of Norway, heir to the Norwegian throne. The next daughter to reach her majority, princess Ingerid, would end up married to king Phillipe I of France. And so it goes.

    His sons Knud, Benedikt, Olaf and Svend the Younger got two English, a Hungarian, and a Navarran princess to tie them down and were told to polish their swords and get ready for war, the only one to lose out being Harald the heir, who was already happily married to his cousin Margrethe, daughter of Asbjørn, Svend's full brother, and, more importantly, living in his own court.

    The result was a tangled web of dynastical alliances the like of which has seldom been seen, ensuring that anybody attacking king Svend II Estridsen would have a major war on his hands and come spring 1067, king Svend unleashed his sons on the heathens of Prussia aided by a band of Lombard mercenaries.

    Why Prussia, the curious student might well ask, when there were nearer heathens in Mecklemburg, Pommerania, and Pomeralia? And if all that was needed was someplace far away, why not attack Livonia or Estonia? What special geostrategic features of Prussia informed Svend's choice, I hear you cry?

    Or rather, I would hear you cry if you were worthy of the name students, but since you are not, banish that vapid look from your faces and feel enlightened as I tell you the self-evident truth: It was the closest self-contained heathen realm neither part of the de jure Holy Roman Empire nor kingdom of Poland, that's why.

    Svend's sons soon crushed all organised resistance.

    War on the Prussian Coast



    With the sons and nobles off to war, it is little surprise that the lustful Svend found himself with the opportunity to avail himself of certain opportunities, so to speak, and he was never one to restrain himself.

    Hedonism at home



    With the war against the heathens of the Prussian coast regrettably won by September, king Svend ordered his sons to progress into Galinda to secure the last country of Prussia, for as they must surely understand, he didn't just want the coastal parts of the duchy, though they were the most valuable, he wanted the entire duchy and whomever performed the best in battle would be awarded the best spoils of the conquests... After all, two provinces for four brothers? It just wouldn't do. Three would be ever so much better, as he was sure they'd agree.

    They agreed and moved on.

    War in Prussian Galinda



    It came to pass that the chief of Mecklemburg reacted strongly against the Danish invasions and proclaimed a religious war to defend his fellow heathens, and even as the Estridssons were settling down to their Galindan sieges, the heathen warriors began their march from Mecklemburg through Pommerania and Pommeralia to Prussia; Svend called upon king Boleslaw to help him out, and Boleslaw honoured his call dragging all of Poland into the fight.

    What had started out as a way to keep the sons occupied threatened to turn into a much greater conflict as one by one the neighbouring powers got involved. The Holy Roman Emperor, despite many of his empire's lords having gone to the aid of Harold of England, chose this time for a bit of personal adventure and annexed Stettin. The Orthodox heretics made diplomatic noises but mostly stayed at home, brooding.

    The Heathens are Coming, 1068


    With the Mecklemburgers rampaging in newly conquered Prussia, king Svend received an urgent entreaty for reinforcements from his sons, and his answer was soon forthcoming... as you'll be taught in the next lecture.

    Class dismissed.




    Bonus gameplay information:


    The research focus is on legalism, farming, and tactics; I doubt this comes as a surprise to anybody who has seen the Danish starting position, but now it is stated for the record. Research is so excruciatingly slow that I'll only be mentioning it when something truly important happens or when it becomes relevant to give a status update many years of game-time from now.
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 07-04-2012 at 22:28.
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  5. #5

  6. #6
    14 kids and more on the way from the looks of it. Sons off to conquer Prussia and succeeding. That's not going to improve your research rate.You'll be stealing tech improvements?

  7. #7
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chief Ragusa View Post
    14 kids and more on the way from the looks of it. Sons off to conquer Prussia and succeeding. That's not going to improve your research rate.You'll be stealing tech improvements?
    No, no, no. I an much too honourable to steal research by sending my spymaster to study the techs of foreign rulers. Perish the thought. For now, my spymaster is back home in the capital trying to uncover plots. It isn't paranoia when you have such a large family.
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  8. #8
    Field Marshal Moltke's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Ebbesen View Post
    No, no, no. I an much too honourable to steal research by sending my spymaster to study the techs of foreign rulers. Perish the thought. For now, my spymaster is back home in the capital trying to uncover plots. It isn't paranoia when you have such a large family.
    Honor among Danes... tis truly a topsy-turvy world.

    You don't need tech anyway when all your neighbors are even more savage and backwards. You will breed them into submission.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Moltke View Post
    Honor among Danes... tis truly a topsy-turvy world.

    You don't need tech anyway when all your neighbors are even more savage and backwards. You will breed them into submission.
    Nothing funner then ensnaring the whole of Europe with your spawn

  10. #10
    NOP-field present Moderator Qorten's Avatar
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    Very good and quite funny writing, Peter! I wasn't around for your earlier endeavours in AARland, except one AAR about a Rome multiplayer game, but if they're as good as this then I might have to check them out. I hope you can keep your inner world conqueror at bay so we can enjoy this AAR as long as possible.


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  11. #11
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    Very good stuff thus far, I look forward to following the adventures of Svend and his ever growing family.
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  12. #12
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    I must say I am very, very happy to see another AAR from you, Peter. May it last long!
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  14. #14
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  15. #15
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    Nice to see the master at work again!

    Peter, do you intend to put an Estridsen at every possible position, sort of like with your CK AAR's goal of drowning the world in Ducasses?
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    Unsurprisingly, Danish AARs are some of my favourites. I'll follow!
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  17. #17
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Qorten - I'd argue that most of my previous AARs were at least as good and probably better than this, as I had more time to write in those days, though my best writing on these boards is probably to be found in my Guess the Author entries or my incredible puerile and sadly abandoned Mount and Blade Warband AAR. A major issue with my early AARs is that they relied heavily on screenshots that have now gone the way of the dodo, so I'm unsure just how what is left from classics like the Timurid Scientists (first documented world conquest of a Paradox game in existence) reads today. It is entirely possible that the lack of screenshots makes the weaknesses in the writing more apparent.

    Murmurandus is sleeping in class. Again. Typical!

    Knul - Svend II does not put an Estridsen in every position, he's just cleaning up his court to get some quality time with his hot Italian wife. I thought I'd made that clear? And don't remind me of my (abandoned) CK1 AAR "Byzantine Letters", please.. That court went critical in number of Dukases and caused me to de facto abandon CK1. Since CK2 has considerably better family mechanics, that particular issue will not arise again. (I really, dearly, and sincerely hope)

    Quift - For singleplayer, I consider CK2 to be the best Paradox strategy game developed yet. It isn't the greatest strategic challenge, but there are so many things that are done just right. Given my sense of humour, make of that what you may.
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  18. #18
    the Conqueror Peter Ebbesen's Avatar
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    Born to Breed: The Estridsen Lectures

    The Worth of Svend II Estridsen's Word

    regarding faulty memory, the student experience, agricultural studies, burgers vs. burghers, black dishonour, speculation on pragmatism, the worth of the given word, how to spend quality time during a siege, a son, don't drink and sign, a life lesson, bad prince Knud, the immortal bard speaks, the wisest man, the last invasion, a traitorous blow, unlikely last words, a new king.


    Welcome back, class.

    As you would no doubt remember, were you not still stressed out from the weekend's heavy drinking and partying that makes up most of the student experience of today, the good king Svend II Estridsen had sent his sons off to conquer while he performed agricultural studies but were now, at the middle of 1068, faced with a call for aid from his conquering sons, who were up to their necks in Mecklemburgers. Or Mecklemburghers, as the case might be. Whatever. It is part of the course notes; look it up.


    The Wisdom of Svend II Estridsen


    Faced with the prospect of fighting an enemy of considerable strength for little gain, Svend took the coward's way out and surrendered, informing the high chief of Mecklemburg that he'd seen the error of his ways and would no longer trample on the rights of heathens just because he could. The lords of the realm bitched and the clergy denounced his actions, but then, they would, wouldn't they?

    An Ignominious Surrender, Summer 1068



    It seems likely that the three of his sons who were confirmed as rulers of the new Baltic counties looked on the situation more pragmatically, but whatever the case, Svend's reputation had taken a serious hit and he needed to take steps to regain his lost influence.

    They were not long in the coming. Scarcely was the ink on the treaty dry and the Mecklemburgers returned home, than Svend declared war on Pomeralia, raising his own levies and taking personal charge of the army.

    Svend's Invasion of Pomeralia, Fall 1069



    With practised ease the defenders were overrun and the Danes set down to the serious, and seriously boring, task of besieging the heathen strongholds. It should come as no surprise to anybody that with few military tasks to occupy his time in Pomeralia, Svend spent his time doing what he did best, especially with his wife pregnant and unavailable. By summer 1069 Mathilda of Tuscany gave birth to yet another son, Peter.

    Yet Another Estridsen Joins the Living, 1069



    Apparently the partying to celebrate the birth of yet another of his brood was enough to temporarily deprive him of his senses, for it is known that while recovering from the party he received an emissary of the French King, his son-in-law Phillip Capet, and signed up to join a French Holy War against Emir an-Nasir I of Kabylia for Sardinia. Which would undoubtedly have had serious consequences for the French war, if Svend had known the approximate location of Kabylia or Sardinia, something he forgot to ask the emissary about. In the event, the emissary returned with a verbal promise and a treaty paper signed with a pictogram of a dancing drunk bull with erect penis in place of Svend's official signature, so no real harm was done save to his reputation.

    Let this be a life lesson to you, my groggy students: If you are going to join up for something while drunk, do get it on paper. And do stick to the latin alphabet. Less recriminations afterwards.

    Be that as it may, as 1069 drew to a close Pomeralia fell and king Svend took a close look at his brood. Had Prince Knud, who'd been the odd prince out during the conquests and not been awarded a county, distinguished himself enough to be awarded a nice Pomeralian county with a good view to the topless beaches where Svend used to hunt as a young man?

    No.

    In the bard's immortal words from Svend II act III ,

    Svend II: “You are a brave warrior, my son, and I've got to admire your lust for life, but you are an ambitious knave and hate my guts. Get thee to a nunnery!”

    Knud: “You are too gracious, sire. This is such stuff as dreams are made on. I woulds't be a breeder of sinners!”

    Svend II: “My clerk kindly informs me that I used the wrong gender, there... Monastery, that's the word. Latin is such a tricky tongue.”

    Knud: “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”


    Prince Knud's future is planned, 1069



    Thus it came to pass that the new counties in Pomeralia were kept firmly in the king's grasping hands, ready to be handed over to a worthy son once his younger sons reached maturity. And to ensure that his younger sons would be worthy of the positions rather than turning into wrothful ambitious deceptive men like Knud, he let them be educated by some of the king's top men, men chosen from the ranks of the lesser nobility for their ability and utterly loyal to the man who raised them up. Men such as the faithful Halvor of Kalundborg, known to legend as the wisest man in Denmark, into whose care the education of king Svend's youngest sons were put.

    Halvor of Kalundborg, Spring 1070.




    The Last Invasion


    Spring 1070 brought a new campaign season and the invasion of Courland. Disregarding warnings that he was seriously overextending himself, king Svend led the invasion first of Zemgale, then Kurzine. Taking ruthless advantage of the superior mobility offered by his navy, king Svend managed to draw the Zemmigalians out of position and began besieging their homes while confronting them on the plains of Zmud in Lithuania. The Kurzinians were rushing to their aid, but outnumbered two to one, the combined heathen forces never stood a chance: their time was up.

    Battle of Zmud, May 1070



    Alas, the same could be said for king Svend, whose mighty career was brought to an end that day as he fell in the battle, the victim of a traitorous blow from one of the many men he had cuckolded.

    Modern historicans consider it unlikely that he ever mentioned the famous last words from Svend II act IV, “Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with broadswords”, and certainly Saxo's Gesta Danorum makes no mention of such, but it would be kind of cool if it were true, would it not?

    Whatever the case might be, exit Svend II Estridsen and bring on his oldest son and designated heir, Harald III Estridsen, the serene, a.k.a. “Bloody Harry”. The man whose equanimity knew no bounds. Surely, you have heard of HIM, students. Right? RIGHT?

    King Harald III Estridsen



    Sigh. Class dismissed.
    Last edited by Peter Ebbesen; 11-04-2012 at 08:56.
    Confused about how manpower is determined in EU4? Read my Manpower Guide

    Finally got around to writing a list of my AARs in the inkwell.
    For those interested in Dominions 4 (SP or MP), we have organize the Wrinkletoes games and answer general questions related to the game in this thread.

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    Enjoying this. Nice mix of narrative style/humor and interesting gameplay. Will be following!

  20. #20
    Field Marshal loki100's Avatar
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    poor Knud denied his chance of life in a Nunnery and ... Bloody Harry sounds like a cool relaxed bloke

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