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Thread: Arise, a Knight of Ibelin - House of Ibelin AAR

  1. #1
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Arise, a Knight of Ibelin - House of Ibelin AAR

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    Having started a few AAR's for Heart's of Iron 3 (sadly never finishing any satisfactorily), I have decided to take the plunge and go for a Crusaders Kings 2 AAR, seeing as it grabs my interest and holds in a way HoI never could through being able to create your characters story as you see fit. I am unsure as to what format I will write this in, but most probably gameplay narrative, with character development spaced out to give me a change of pace (as well as removing the need for uploading annoying screenshots!).

    What I do know, however, is that I will play as the d'Ibelin family. I hope to attempt to mirror the meteoric rise of the family from virtually unknown to being one of the premier families of the crusader states, and this being a game about crusaders, we will have that a plenty. Kings, however, we shall have to wait and see...

    My choice was prompted by someone handing me the directors copy of Kingdom of Heaven (well worth it, don't get the original cut), which in turn caused me to read into the even more Hollywood-Esq truth behind the Hollywood movie. I hope this will be just as entertaining (No Eva Green, sadly )and that you enjoy reading.

    Please feel free to give feedback! Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside!

    Thanks.
    Last edited by MajorMayhem; 09-05-2012 at 03:19.
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

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    Introductions

    The Castle at Beersheb
    January 1134 AD



    Balian d'Ibelin sat at a table covered with parchments. Across the table was his son, young Hugues, a happy boy of nearly 5 years. His other son, Baudoin, was being consoled by the nannies, being reduced to tears by the prospect of his mother leaving him. Balian was a stark man, tall of limb and with a tough face, which from outward appearances, looked as though it had seen much of the world. And it had.

    Balian slid one parchment across the table to his son. A map of the Holy Land.

    "Now, I will let you go play Templars with your brother if you...show me our lands...and the Holy City."


    The map, along with a profile of Balian d'Ibelin

    The boy did not disappoint, and was soon sprinting away to hack at his brother with the mock swords they had been presented by Balian's marshal. A curious thought struck Balian. Here he was, a minor lordling from Italy, who had spent much of his youth as a hired blade to some lord, sheriff for another, constable for some. And yet, here he was, in the Holy Land, his hard work rewarded with a castle, land and vassals of his own. He had worked for this, but his children would inherit it. And more, if the tides of the times continued to flow as they had.

    Balian sighed, picking up another scroll. There were many like it. Bishop Adrien, his vassal and steward, attempting to get what profit he could from his lands, dusty and undeveloped as they were. Marshal Debir, with his report on the status of the county levy, a important factor, with the edge of the Kingdom a scarce few days ride away. Debir was a Muslim himself, and though Balian disliked the man, he was able, and more importantly, the local Levantine peoples took to him better than some stranger from across the ocean, and he got results. More men for the levy, and Balian could like him well enough.


    The d'Ibelin council.

    His Chaplain was out, preaching the word to the smallfolk around Balian's land. The man was poorly educated, as far as priests went. Balian suspected he was the scion of some noble family in France that with having no inheritance, had been taken with the notion of going East. The problem was the man had few skills, and when he turned up at Beersheb offering his services, Balian was glad to give him something he could do, and free a more able man to attend to more important matters, such as his Chancellor. de Gilat was up north, in the county of Hebron, doing his best to create the appearance that Balian had a legal and binding claim on the land. He didn't, but what did that matter? The crown was too concerned with other matters, and seeing as the Kingdom of Jerusalem was not too well established in terms of crown authority, who was to tell him no?


    The last thing Balian looked at before turning in for the night was a letter from his wife. Helvis had just arrived in the Holy City, and was in the process of establishing her household there. With the Kingdom of God, as with everywhere else, great gains came with great risks, and Balian had entrusted his wife to do her best to keep him informed on the machinations of the King's Court.


    The King, his heirs, family and Kingdom.

    I will need to know these plots, thought Balian, walking to bed. I will need to know, if I am to ever aspire to more than a castle and some sand...
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  3. #3
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Pope's, Kings and Crusaders

    The first four years of the d'Ibelin family in the Holy Land were not spent at peace. King Folques had seen in Balian the merits that were the cause of his present prosperity. Balian quickly became known to the King as the hardworking minor count from the south of the realm that was as wise as any man, and could get results.

    That was the supposed motivation for the King bestowing the title of the Duchy of Ascalon on to Balian. It caused a minor scandal in the Holy Land, with a virtual stranger being granted one of the premier titles in the land, with the great coastal city of Ascalon under his rule, Balian could become one of the great lords of the realm. The King himself rode south, to Beersheb, to bestow the honour on Balian.

    The main problem, however, was that the title was empty. After the feast to celebrate, nothing changed. Balian still only held the smallest and poorest county in the duchy, the rest of his lands were still in the hands of the Muslims, and would need to be brought for with blood.


    Balian d'Ibelin moves one rung more up the ladder.


    It was to Balian's joy that same year, when he visited his wife in the Holy City. Helwas brought him excellent news, the Pope himself, Innocent II, had called a crusade to reclaim Ascalon for the crusaders. He had sailed from Rome with a mix of knights, Italian levies and mercenaries to claim the city for God.


    The Holy See goes to war!


    The mobilzation in Beersheb was swift, and by the end of the year, Balian found himself outside the walls of Ascalon on the northern flank of the Pope's host. Lacking the men to seige the great city, Balian was instead trying to serve two masters. King Folques was fighting up north around Antioch, leaving the south of his Kingdom exposed. This exposed the supply lines of the Papal Army to raiding from south and east, and so Balian had positioned himself to cover both dangers.


    Unable to take Ascalon, Balian instead used it as a position to cover both his King and his Pope.


    After remaining outside Ascalon for almost two months, Balian led his troops to the Holy City for rest and resupply, and hoped to gather some fresh knights from Europe. His plans, however, soured as he enjoyed a night with his wife, before a rider found him to inform him that the Muslims had gathered a great host to the south of Ascalon, and that the Pope was crying for reinforcements.

    Balian pushed his men south as fast as he dared, leaving his wife with a girl growing in her belly, a girl, to be called Alice. His own host was small, but well drilled, and if he could fall on the Muslim flanks it may decide the crusade.


    Balian marches south, leaving Alice d'Ibelin growing in his wife.


    Balian pushed his host hard, so as to reach the battle in time to make a difference.



    Balian arrived at the Battle of Darum at its height. The two armies, Catholic and Muslim, had been toying with each other for three weeks before joining battle. The situation when Balian arrived was not good. The Pope's right flank was in full retreat, and the center would soon be hard pressed. The Muslims had chosen the battleground, and the battle seemed to be a defeat.


    Later painting of the battle. The Papal Crusaders pressed hard by the Muslim host.


    Balian rallied the left flank, his troops sudden appearance giving a great boost to the moral of the common men-at-arms. Adding his own troops to the battered left flank, Balian counter-attacked, catching the Muslims off-guard as they attempted to break the Christian center. Balian himself assembled what horsemen he could and led the charge, bulling through the exposed enemy flank.


    One of the many charges and counter-charges of the Battle of Darum


    The Muslims were taken aback by the sudden counter-attack, while the Christians drew strength from it. The Muslim center broke off its attack, but once the common soldiers started to run, there was little to stop them. The Muslim host broke apart, and the Papal Army started to cut down the stragglers. Balian himself took an arrow leading the charge. When his knights asked him to return to the rear he scoffed, repling "Bah, I once knew a man who fought two days with an arrow through his testicle!".


    Balian took an arrow at the height of the battle.


    When the Muslim army dissolved, counting the dead began. The losses on both sides were about the same. Pope Innocent II had been killed, as well as his Muslim counter-part. Word of the victory spread fast, as did Balian's contribution to the victory. Darum and Ascalon fell that same year. With his host badly depleted and himself wounded Balian marched back to Beersheb to recover his health and his host. It was two years before he was fit enough to resume his tasks, but 1138 AD was a cruel year for him.


    Losses were heavy in both troops and nobility for both sides.


    Balian's role confirmed him in the eyes of many as the ideal capable crusading soldier.


    With the death of Innocent II, Papal support for the crusade had waned. This was made worse by the fact that the French King, long a supporter of the crusade, was involved in war with England. Peasant revolts had occured in the Holy City, and in Balian's own county of Beersheb. King Folques was in the north, fighting still with the petty dukedoms in Armenia. The Muslims had another great host, camped outside Ascalon, and little support was forthcoming. Reports of reinforcements were vague and gave little hope.


    Revolts in the Holy City were sparked by the proximity of the Muslim host to crusader land.



    Balian recived a single letter from his wife, informing him that the Hospitalar Order had marched south to reinforce the southern part of the Kingdom. The next day, the steward of his household in the Holy City arrived to inform him that she had died.


    Helwas de Ramla was struck down with sickness and died quickly in the City of God.


    It was a great loss. Not only as she was his eyes and ears in the capital, but she was the mother of his three children, and a great wife. She would be impossible to replace. But with Muslims to the south, and a peasant revolt around him, a alliance though marriage with a powerful house was what the d'Ibelin family was in dire need of
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

  4. #4
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    I like the Crusader Kingdoms, and now I've found a whole one other person in the world who agrees with me that the director's (greatly!) extended cut of Kingdom of Heaven makes it a pretty solid period piece, basically rendering much of the criticism levelled at the dumbed-down theatrical version obsolete.

    So, yeah, I'm going to be following this! Your Balian seems to be down on his luck, though.

    Don't take this as harsh criticism (because it's not ), but I think you could do with a bit fewer screenshots. I find myself quickly jumping past stuff like the battle results. I trust your textual descriptions of what transpired - your writing is good, after all!
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  5. #5
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zealuu View Post
    I like the Crusader Kingdoms, and now I've found a whole one other person in the world who agrees with me that the director's (greatly!) extended cut of Kingdom of Heaven makes it a pretty solid period piece, basically rendering much of the criticism levelled at the dumbed-down theatrical version obsolete.

    So, yeah, I'm going to be following this! Your Balian seems to be down on his luck, though.

    Don't take this as harsh criticism (because it's not ), but I think you could do with a bit fewer screenshots. I find myself quickly jumping past stuff like the battle results. I trust your textual descriptions of what transpired - your writing is good, after all!
    Welcome aboard! Thanks for posting.

    I honestly think that the Directors Cut deserved a new title, release and premier. Even so, I don't think it done the real Balian justice. If I had a near infinite bank balance (I don't, but I can dream, right?) I'd hire Scott to do it over again with as much cash as he wanted. That and more Liam Neeson one-liners.

    Don't feel bad about being critical! Please don't. Screenshots was a issue with me, seeing as they took ages to upload and then format into the post. I'll take that on-board and get fewer screenshots of all the important events.

    Hope you enjoy!
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  6. #6
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Heirs, Titles and Holy Wars

    Office of the Marshal of Jerusalem, Antioch
    21st April, 1150 AD


    The office in which Balian sat was ill-suited to him, he reflected, as he sat in his cushioned chair. A thin curtain hung, blocking the view from his balcony. Not that the view was anything in particular, just the yard, and the sprawling city beyond it. The noise of the new levies drilling carried up t him, as did the smell, before he grew acustomed to it. Knights would know how to fight, but those poor fools out there had to be taught.

    They were a mixed bunch, as always. Some poor serf, who had journeyed to the Holy Land in hope of some redemption, only to find himself starving, carrying a sheild and spear to feed himself. Local Levantine lads, with the hope and prospect of plunder. Blacksmith's sons and men who's fathers were carpenters, joining in the hope of a new life in the East. He had heard it all before.

    "How is it I have grown so old and fat?" he asked himself as he sat.

    It seemed so long ago since that day, at the Battle of Darum. In truth it was near 15 years ago. Much had happened since that day. The King, old King Folques had rallied his troops, quashed the revolts in the south. The Pope had arranged a secret treaty with the Muslims, to spare the Holy See the shame of a abandoned Crusade as the great Kings of Europe fought and squabled.

    It had been the best years of Balian's life, he reflected as he sat in his chair, which was worth more than his father, or even his father's father had ever earned. After Darum, Balian never knew defeat. He reinforced his reputation with a stunning victory at the Battle of Safed, when the King was defending against the Emirate of Damascus. At the head of an army of the King's levies and knights from the Holy Orders, Balian had smashed the enemy host, winning the war in a single stroke, though the war would rage on yet for another year.


    Balian's victory at the Battle of Safed.


    He had learned many things, in those years, he thought, as he sat in the doublet bearing the family crest. How to deploy a skirmish line, to turn a flank, to position the heavy horse uphill, so they can develop a strong charge. In all fairness, he thought, I'd surrender this doublet and office to be back ahorse in mail again. After his victory at Safed, everything began to get better, he thought, and yet worse.

    The Duke of Outer-Jordan revolted shortly after, Balian remembered.

    "What an old fool..." mused Balian aloud.


    The King had demanded a county from Duke Payen's demense, and the old fool refused. The might of Jerusalem descended on his holdings, and years afterwards ran the jape that "Duke Payen paid in pain!" as he lost his holdings, and the wealth of his lands to his insubordination. He kept his head, however, and his lands. Of that, Balian had been glad of at the time, seeing as he rather liked the genial old man, even if he was overly pious.


    Payen before he paid his price.



    "And then I ended up here..." grumbled Balian.

    King Folques died a quiet death, and his loss was felt deeply throughout the Kingdom. He was suceeded by his son Baldwin, the third of his name. A kind-hearted and dilligent youth of fourteen years, he began his reign with his realm involved in yet another border skirmish with the Saracens. His regent, the Duke of Galilee, understood that the King and realm would be in dire need of strong men to guide it. Balian could remember the day well. Having wed Melisende, Folques widow, his loyalty to the crown was ensured as being wed to the King's mother, who eventualy had granted Balian a daughter. The young King had requested himself for Balian to serve as marshal of the realm. His wife had encouraged him, and he had brooded for some time on the issue. He would have much required from him...

    "If I had known then that I'd end up here..." muttered Balian.

    When he had accepted, he expected to be leading the King's armies into battle. He was disapointed, even now, six years after taking the title as Marshal of Jerusalem.


    A important role in the realm, but removed from battle.


    "Drillmaster of Jerusalem, more like..." he mused.

    He knew his role was important though. The King required troops, and Antioch was a large and thriving port, where many pilgrims arrived in the Holy Land. His main problem was that it was so far north, and removed from his seat at Beersheb and his wife, in the Holy City. And his problems.

    There were a few. His son and heir, Hugues, was now a tall lad of twenty-and-one years, but for all his brilliance at war, the lad was strange. Balian could remember on one of his rare trips back to Beersheb in bed with another boy. Balian smiled, though, at the memory of catching him two days later around the back of the stables with three kitchen maids.


    The heir of Ibelin.


    Hugues was promised to Yolande, a girl of three-and-ten years who held the title of Baroness of Ibelin. His other son, Baudoin, though lacking his brothers brilliance at arms, was promised to the Duchess of Tripoli, a woman of five-and-ten who was short in stature, but supposedly had queer tastes in bedroom companions. However, a duchess was a duchess, as Balian had reasoned, and a fantastic catch for the son of someone who had gained a dukedom through meerly being useful.

    Balian stood up. He was a warrior of paper and quill now, and he was showing it. He walked to the door and passed though, into the room where the lesser men of his office worked. Hugues d'Ibelin was taller than his father, and had spent the last five years after coming of age as his fathers marshal.

    "Now son," began Balian "I did not have you come to Antioch to grow fat and lazy as your father has. Come, this new levy is important for the king, and had best have them well drilled for him. Now, I want you too..." Balian walked out of the office with his son, his voice trailing away.
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

  7. #7
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    A warrior's end for a warrior.

    The last years of the life of Balian d'Ibelin were far from quiet. The unquenchable greed of both Muslim and Christian for the Holy Land ensured that wars broke out aplenty. With this came the strong desire for able commanders to lead the armies of Jerusalem. Balian would have been in a prime position to exploit this desire, had it not been for the death of King Baldwin, who passed away as a result of losing his hand in battle. While Baldwin lost his life, Jerusalem lost its King, Balian also lost his position as the King's Marshal. To add insult to injury, the Muslim Emir of Ascalon, Sa'id, had been able to exert enough control over his demense to declare himself the true ruler of Ascalon, leaving Balian with just the title of Count of Beersheb.


    Ascalon was no longer seen as a Christian Duchy, instead seen as a Muslim Emirate.


    With the sobering realization of how tenious the position of his family was in the Holy Land, Balian began to arrange dynastic marriages for his sons and daughters. His son Baudoin married the Duchess of Tripoli, and his first son Hugues married twice. The first was to Yolande, the baroness of Ibelin, who gave him a son, but died on the birthing bed. The child died soon after, and the title of Baron of Ibelin passed to Balian. Hugues second wife was Peronelle, the Countess of Irbid, another landholder in the Holy Land.


    Baudoin and Hugues marriages ensured that the d'Ibelin family would inherit further lands in Jerusalem.


    While his children set about rasing families, Balian threw himself into fighting, as it was all he knew. His service in the wars against the petty Emirate to the north of the Kingdom of Jerusalem went largely unnoticed. The day Balian was captured came at a shock to him. He had been leading a troop of horse to reinforce the seige of Appelo when Arab camel-riders had descended upon them. The horses had panicked, and Balian was thrown from the saddle and captured.


    Balian had been lucky in that he could raise the funds for his ransom. Other lords could not, and quickly died imprisoned.


    He was able to meet his ransom by the fact he had been diligent in ensuring Beersheb was ran efficently, and the taxes paid and tarrifs collected. He returned to Beersheb two months later, somewhat poorer, but somewhat more smarter.


    During this time the Kingdom of Jerusalem underwent significant turmoil. King Baldwin had been succeeded by Queen Plaisance, who hardly reigned for a month before taking ill and passing on. Her sucessor, King Guillaume, was a excellent leader for the Kingdom. He moved swiftly to strengthen crown authority, which earned him the dislike of many vassals, but needed if the Kingdom was to endure the constant wars it embroiled itself in.


    It was hoped the Guillaume would prove the strong King that the Crusader state needed.


    It was around nine years into Guillaume reign when Balian, a much older and wiser man, heard word of another Crusade, again for Ascalon. The old man grew the dream of being able to reclaim his dukedom, returning to his previous prosperity. At once, the old man returned to Beersheb, and raised every man he could from Beersheb, and sent word to the Barrony of Ibelin to march at once for the city of Ascalon.



    The Third Crusade was what Balian hoped would propell him to regain the title of the Duke of Ascalon.

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________

    23rd of Febuary, 1170 AD
    Outside the walls of Ascalon



    "God, I am too old for this Henri." Balian complained to his marshal. "I once fought a great battle here many years ago. God, I doubt you were even born then..."

    "And may you win many more, my lord." Henri was as typical a crusader as you could find. Third son of some minor French lord, he hoped to make a name for himself, like his lord Balian.

    The two sat ahorse, as the two great armies crashed together. Two armies, two religons, but only one victor. The entire might of Egypt had been roused against this crusade, and twelve thousand men made for a impressive sight. The Crusader army was about the same size, a patchwork quilt of the banners of all of Europe.

    The battle joined. Balian sat to the rear of the right flank, his own host only around eight hundred men was detailed to act as to screen the far right flank.

    "My lord, over there. Dust." Henri pointed to a cloud of dirt being raised some distance off, caused by movement of horse through the dry landscape.

    Balian had not even seen it, age had not been kind to his eyes. "Very well. Form up! Form up men! FORM ON ME!"

    The troops rearanged themselves as commanded. Balian gave simple curt instructions. He would lead the horse to cut off the enemy attack, while Henri led the infantry around to envelop the enemy horse. The troops set off, Henri leading the troops on the direct path, with Balian swinging around in a wide movement to get ahead of the Muslim horse.

    The heat, the dust and this confounded helmet, thought Balian as he rode. Sweat stung his eyes, bluring his already poor eyesight. He was ahead of the enemy now, and he turned his horse to face them. When he was content, he simply drew his sword and lowered it, as he had a thousand times before.

    Funny horses, they have, thought Balian, as the two groups closed. Oh God, camel riders! The two groups crashed together in a horrible crunch of men, beasts and mail.

    __________________________________________________ __________________________________________________ ___________________


    When Henri brought the infantry to fall on the Muslim flankers, most of Balian's horse had been cut apart. The Muslims were so intent on looting and cutting down the surivors that the infantry took them unawares, and slaughtered most of them, though most managed to escape.

    Henri walked through the carnage, as his men looted the dead and granted mercy to man and beast alike. The stench of blood filled the air. Lord Balian could not be found, he was not one of the group of horsemen that had banded together in a group to win free of the Muslim host. He must be around here, somewhere, he thought. Then he caught sight of him.


    He had not went alone. A dozen of his men lay around him, three times as many enemy lay around them. Old Balian, it was a fitting end, at least, he thought. He was made for battle. Henri prised his sword from his lords hand, knowing that it was his duty to present it to Hugues, his son. Henri looked up, gazing away at the center of the battle.

    He swore. The Crusader center was broken. The battle was lost. With at best a few minuites before Muslim troops were upon him, Henri ordered his men to carry the wounded that could walk, kill those who could not, and to sling his lord over the back of a stray Arab horse.


    Balian d'Ibelin, first of his name. Warrior, Crusader, Father.
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

  8. #8
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    Balian lived a good life and died a noble death. Let's hope that Hugues' brother doesn't make trouble as he attempts to reclaim what is rightfully d'Ibelin's
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  9. #9
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis View Post
    Balian lived a good life and died a noble death. Let's hope that Hugues' brother doesn't make trouble as he attempts to reclaim what is rightfully d'Ibelin's
    What's worse, Baudoin's wife is a duchess, while Hugues own wife is a meer countess! If he decides to push his claim, then Hugues may have a hard time of it!
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

  10. #10
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Sorry it's been so long since an update. Ran into some problems concerning the AI's tendancy to self-destruct stable kingdoms by smashing themselves against doomstacks. I can work around it, but it involves some heavy duty cheating. Still, in the interests of the AAR...
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

  11. #11
    Ah, glad you're continuing, since this is a great read. Cheat on (in the interests of the AAR :P)!

  12. #12
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    Reclaiming a birthright

    (Sorry for no screenshots)

    _________________________________

    16th of March, 1170 AD
    The Castle at Beersheb



    Hugues d'Ibelin made a impressive sight as he strode across the courtyard. Taller than his father, he had quickly grown used to his inheritance, as had his brother, Balian, who was now Baron of Ibelin and his brothers vassal. Hugues had left a wife to bury a father, leaving his wife Peronelle to rule the County of Iribid alone in his absence.

    The harsh sun beat down on the courtyard, and the dozen sentries as well as the workers laboring to finish roofing the barracks room of Beersheb castle. It did not beat down on the three mounted figures sheltered by four servants carrying a coverlet and another half-dozen servants on horseback. On the surcoats, the trio wore a sigil of crossed keys. Hugues was not familiar with those arms, he knew the arms of all the major families in the Holy Land, and did not know these. Until he realized. The Papacy.

    Within moments, Hugues had the trio indoors, and the servants and horses seen too. He was as practical a man as his father, but he knew that to anger the Papacy was to throw caution to the wind, and it cost him nothing to make the three agents welcome. Hugues had no idea as to what the men would want with him. The men were as plain as any men could be. One was beet-red in the heat, the other looked like a stick and the third had hair as white as ash. The made quite a sight sat at the High Table inside the keep.

    The white haired man introduced himself as Ezio, Bishop of some town in Italy that Hugues didn't catch, and couldn't have pronounced anyway. He ignored the other two. Hugues was beginning to grow fearful, if the Pope had gotten word about Hugues exploits in his youth with that stable hand and those serving maids...An excommunication would spell the end of his inheritance so shortly after it passed to him...

    The Bishop explained the situation of the Crusade to Hugues. His father had been a important man in the Crusade, and without him it was want to fail, or so Hugues figured from the way the Bishop praised the virtues of his father. It was common knowledge in Beersheb that the Crusade was faltering, and the last time that had happened it had caused the death of a Pope. The Papacy was looking for fresh troops and support, and they had came to Hugues to fill his fathers shoes.

    The Bishop sent his two companions to fetch something as he concluded, "For your support in this most holy venture, my lord, you will have the utmost thanks of the Holy See. The Lord is always kind to those who serve him well. If I recall, your father was Duke of Ascalon in title only. It would be most fitting should his son reclaim not only the title, but the lands with them..."

    The clergyman's voice trailed off as Red-Face and Stick-Thin returned, with four servants. Between the two, they carried a heavy chest. The Bishop walked to one, and opened it.

    "...and what better way to finance this restoration, with the gold of the Holy See?"

    A smile began to grow across Hugues face. Yes. Yes, this will serve.


    _________________________________

    3rd of September 1170 AD
    Outside the walls of Ascalon



    Hugues inspected the panorama from atop a small hill beyond bow-shot of the walls. Fifteen thousand men filled the panorama, along with siege engines, catapults and balista. Tents, horse lines and campfires decorated the scene, as Hugues army besieged the city.

    Baudoin d'Ibelin stood beside his brother. It was hard to discern between the two. They were of the same height and build, but where Hugues was a open-minded thinker, Baudoin was a simple soldier.

    "This is power, brother." said Hugues. "Before, our strength would have been but four thousand men, and that's if we scoured every boy regardless of age. With the Papal envoys and the gold they brought, I turned into twelve thousand men, and we turned those twelve thousand men into an army."

    "Aye, but the question is how well will these men fight. Our own should do well enough, seeing as I trained them." Baudoin was always concerned about military matters.

    "They are men who fight for gold and God, though I daresay they love gold more." jested Hugues. "They sense loot and plunder, and so they will fight well enough to take the city. It is a fair deal I think."

    "What means you?"

    "I get Ascalon, as is my birthright. The Crusader army is granted the knowledge that no army can land at Ascalon to trap it in the Sinai while it dances with the Muslim army. The Papacy is saved the shame of another failed crusade and the soldiers get a bit of gold mixed with death."

    "I think you win. Still, this siege will be long and boring, and I hope the men don't become so eager for death that they storm the city by themselves...." The two shared a chuckle before wandering back to camp.



    _________________________________

    10th of September 1171 AD
    The City of Ascalon


    A banner fluttered above the gatehouse for a instant against the gloom of a burning city, before being whisked away by the wind into darkness. The banner was quickly replaced by another, bearing the d'Ibelin arms.

    "Baudoin has the gatehouse. Ready the advance! Archers, cease fire! Stop the catapults firing!"

    The army began to rush forward, the sense of plunder thick in the air. Hugues had sent his brother to storm the East Gate by force, while his catapults had focused on the North Wall. The ruse had paid off, as Baudoin's men had taken the gatehouse.

    The besiegers began to sprint forward now, as the tension of a long siege suddenly released itself. Sitting ahorse some distance, Hugues was waiting for the sign that it was not a year wasted. The light from the fires in the city danced across his face and mail as he sat watching.

    There it was. The great wooden gates creaked open, and the city fell. Hugues spurred his horse forward, leading it and the reserve to join the attack. His troops poured in through the East Gate, overwhelming the few defenders that could respond to the sudden onslaught. By the time Hugues reached the gatehouse, the defenders were piled around it. In between the Arab silks lay a Frankish soldier in a surcoat, but these were few and far between.

    The defenders were broken, the city had fallen. Hugues had staked his claim. Now it was time to hold it. The fires, brighter now, played across his smiling face.

    _________________________________

    Ascalon burned for two days. Two longer than it should have, for the collection of hired blades and outcasts that comprised the besieging force were apt to excessive plunder. By the time order had been restored, much of the city slums had burned down. Enraged by the rampant disorder of his army, Hugues dismissed all those hired by him using the Papal funds, casting them out with a few golden coins for their troubles.

    What remained with Hugues in Ascalon was the core of his fighting force; two thousand knights and professional soldiers that he planned to use to hold Ascalon for when the Muslim army marched north to reclaim the city.

    But the Muslims never marched. The Crusaders inflicted a massive defeat on the Muslim army in the Sinai, crushing the army, and the hope of defeating the crusade. The great Muslim host broke apart, and the splintered remains were blown away like sand in the harsh Eastern wind.

    This victory left the power of the Shia Caliphate greatly reduced, and the Crusaders at an advantage. It was no great surprise that the Caliph sued for peace shortly after.

    The peace that was arranged swung the situation significantly in favor of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. Though it had not been directly involved in the crusade, it grew prosperous from its victory nonetheless. Hugues was granted the lands and titles pertaining to the Duke of Ascalon. As the Duke, he would be vassal to the King of Jerusalem. All the minor Muslim nobility was expelled, and their lands and wealth granted to the d'Ibelin family to dispense with as they saw fit.

    With the crusader victory came peace. It would not last.
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

  13. #13
    Colonel MajorMayhem's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bballman23 View Post
    Ah, glad you're continuing, since this is a great read. Cheat on (in the interests of the AAR :P)!
    Welcome! Glad that you're finding the AAR so enjoyable!
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    Hey! Glad to see a d'Ibelin AAR, though I was secretly plotting to claim it first. ;P Good writing there, very engaging. Love the dynamics of a small-time ruler.
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    Quote Originally Posted by NewbieOne View Post
    Hey! Glad to see a d'Ibelin AAR, though I was secretly plotting to claim it first. ;P Good writing there, very engaging. Love the dynamics of a small-time ruler.
    Welcome! Sorry to steal your thunder, and I was quite suprised that nobody had already started one, seeing as the high-profile role the family had in history. So, will there are Von Weimar AAR's and Von Hapsburgs AAR's, why not a d'Ibelin. Glad that you're enjoying it so far!
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    Finally an important victory for the d'Ibelin family, now let's hope they can capitalize on this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Saithis View Post
    Finally an important victory for the d'Ibelin family, now let's hope they can capitalize on this.
    Well, let us say that Hugues life takes a downward spiral...

    Update on the way!

    And welcome aboard Saithis!
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    An End Unfitting

    Hugues d'Ibelin died an old man, embittered, imprisoned by his own failings as well as the King he had served so well. Hugues was Duke of Ascalon in name as well as fact for three years. During this time, the lands of his duchy became pacified to crusader rule, churches replaced mosques and the rule of the King in Jerusalem extended down to the common folk. The d'Ibelins grew rich from their rule; Hugues moved his court to the old Emir's Palace in the city, and the taxes and levies of the hinterlands again made the d'Ibelins a powerfull force in the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

    It was perhaps that King Guillaume feared the new power of the d'Ibelin, for Hugues was a capable commander, and some rationalized that the King feared being forced to take the feild against Hugues, with the power of Ascalon behind him. Others said instead that the King was meerly a greedy man, hungry for land and titles, prestige and glory. This was backed up by the dissent festering in the Holy Land over the King's strict rule; every lord bent the knee to the absolute authority of the crown. Guillaume's greed was also well known, he had spent a great deal of time and effort to ensure that he maintained his personal holdings in Europe - the great city of Brugges - remained in his hands.

    Whatever his motivations, the King started a chain of events that would seriously threaten the position of the d'Ibelins in the Holy Land. It started when the King revoked Hugues title as Duke of Ascalon, taking it instead for himself.


    The spark that started a long, burning feud.

    Hugues options were limited. He could not recover the title, nor ask it to be returned to him. He could fight the King for the title, but even with Ascalon under his control, he could not win, nor would he desire to fight the King. Like his father, he was named Marshal of the Kingdom, and served the King as a loyal vassal. Nevertheless, the loss of the title meant much and more to Hugues.

    It was around this time that Hugues son Balian came of age. Named for his grandfather, he was the first son of Hugues to survive childhood. Hugues arranged to have him married to Joana, a relative, but heir to the powerfull Duchy of Tripoli. Once both Balian and Joana inherited, the position of the d'Ibelins would be stronger than ever, with two duchies under d'Ibelin rule, and several castles ruled by off-shoots of the main branch.


    Balian, the man who would be Duke.

    For Hugues, however, no promise of land and power for his children would salve the wound that festered like a boil on him; the Duchy of Ascalon. Under the pretense of the loyal, efficent marshal who could form companies of troops out of thin air, he plotted to have the Duchy restored to him. As Marshal, he had a excellent position at court to meet his fellow lords and members of the King's court. Even better, the position allowed him to remain at court, while the King was involved in his many wars against the Muslim splinter states. Soon his plot developed a small following, nobody important, but people willing to help him, for a price. The plot matured over nearly three years, until Hugues was ready to wait for the King's return to Jerusalem to move the plot into action.

    Somebody had talked. The King's return from the wars was not marked by a well-thought out plot moving into action, but by fifty of the King's guard storming the Office of the Marshal of Jerusalem. No craven, Hugues stood his ground, killing four before he was overwhelmed and thrown into the cell's beneath the Marshal's Office.


    Hugues was well respected for his fighting abilites, not his political sense. He paid for his ignorance.


    In response to this, his brother Baudoin and son Balian took control. The options open to them were few. They could accept the imprisonment, ask for ransom, or raise their banners against the King. Unwilling to risk the ruin of the d'Ibelin house by outright revolt, they quietly amassed funds over the space of a year, and presented an offer to the King. Two chests of gold for the return of Hugues.

    The King refused, and two months later, Hugues collapsed of heatstroke in the sweltering cells. Two days later, and he was dead.


    And so another Balian became head of House d'Ibelin. Would he live up to the name of his forebear?
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    The World Beyond

    The state of world affairs shortly after the sucession of Balian d'Ibelin, second of his name.



    Iberia

    The Kingdom of Castile had emerged as the strongest Kingdom in the region, uniting the others, excluding Aragon under its rule. The petty Muslim states had been driven back, most as a result of united Spanish and German assistance. It had been the de Barcalona family that was the cause of the Holy Roman Emperor becoming involved in the region, as when faced with overwhelming Muslim agression, the pragmatic family had sworn themselves to the Emperor, thereby ensuring his aid against the Muslims.




    Europe

    The established dynasties hold strong. The Capets rule France, the Dunkelds rule Scotland, and the de Normandie family rules over an England where land has been lost to Scotland and the dukes are in open revolt against the excommunicated King. The Holy Roman Empire is presided over by Diether von Limberg, and the von Limberg dynasty seems well placed to hold the Empire for the forseeable future. Eastern Europe is a patchwork of states, with only Poland and Denmark seeming to have made any significant gains.



    The Holy Land

    The position of the Kingdom of Jerusalem is stronger than ever. King Guillaume's only daughter is married to the Byzantine Emperor, and this has forged a strong alliance between the two. As a result, the expansionist Sultanate of Rum has been crushed by the combined power of the Emperor and King. The Shia and Sunni Caliphate's have persistantly endured constant rebellions, though the Sunni Caliphate shows signs of collapse under the expansion of the Turks from the east.

    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

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    The Balance Shifts

    Following the ascension of Balian to his fathers title, he settled down, swallowing the galling knowledge that the King had sent the old man to his death in the dungeons. The d'Ibelin's were a more pragmatic sort, instead of rasing his considerable levies from Ascalon, and calling on his well placed cousins and relatives in the various positions of power throught the Holy Land to join him, Balian waited.

    And waited.

    It was six years of plotting and preparation before Balian knew it was the time to strike. He would avenge his father and reclaim his duchy in one swift stroke. His planning and preparation paid off in ways unimaginable.

    The catalyst was the death of King Guillume of House de Bures, known as 'the Just', though not to Balian or the other d'Ibelins. The crown passed to his first-born son Payen. The other titles were divided between his other two children. Geoffory de Bures was declared as the new Duke of Ascalon and Count of Jaffa by his brother Payen shortly after King Payen's coronation.


    Balian d'Ibelin was the main vassal of Geoffory of Ascalon, and the two developed a bitter rivalry. Geoffory hated the fact that Balian was as powerfull, if not more so than he was; Balian despised the man for holding the title that should be rightfully his. However, the two rivals were commited to working together to further their own goals, so when Balian was offered the role as Marshal to the Duke, he accepted, abiet with poor grace on the 3rd of May, 1192.


    Some viewed the appointment of Balian as marshal to be a peace offering between the two men.


    For the few weeks following, it seemed that the two could put rivarly aside and work together. That swiftly changed when Geoffory plotted to take his brother's crown. The hatred between the two flared up; Balian refused to join his rightfull leige Geoffory to march on Jerusalem to depose King Payen. Geoffory responded by rasing what troops he could from Balian's holdings and marching north regardless.

    It was the moment Balian had waited for. A week later, Balian raised his banners against Duke Geoffory under the thin pretense of helping the King deal with his wayward brother. The fact was that Balian was marching to Jaffa to return the ducal title to its rightfull d'Ibelin owners.


    Geoffory de Bures marched off to fight one enemy leaving another to his rear.


    The war lasted for nearly three years, but was over in six months. Balian called the support of his relatives married to Counts and Dukes in the Holy Land, and his mother sent a contingent of her own levy to assist him. The single pitched battle of Balian's campaign ended in outright defeat for Geoffory, who fled back to Jaffa with twenty men, and remained inside the walls of Jaffa until the city surrendered some three years later.

    King Payen was placed in a curious situation, and perhaps he had no choice. The d'Ibelin strength, already formidable, was boosted by sellswords drawn by the propect of plunder from Jaffa. He could hardly uphold his rebel brother Geoffory's claim on Jaffa in the face of the stronger d'Ibelin claim, which was stronger, and perhaps, more importantly, backed up by a large host.

    As a result, King Payen returned the title of Duke of Ascalon to the d'Ibelins, along with the city of Jaffa, turning Balian d'Ibelin from a potentialy deadly enemy into a bastion of loyalty. As a result of King Payen returning his birthright, Balian would go on to serve with Payen in the uncountable wars and conflicts that characterized the Holy Land.


    Balian's reclaimation of the Duchy was perhaps some small vindication for his father before him.


    Over the next few years, Balian spent much of his time between fighting alongside the King, and the short intervals between wars building up his ducal holdings and raising his children. Balian had three daughters before his first and only son, also named Balian.

    While his children grew up, the situation in the Holy Land changed. The French, under pressure from the Pope, supported a crusade to reclaim the Kingdom of Egypt for God. Many, Balian included, foretold of a massive French defeat at the hands of the Shia Caliph. Few would have been able to predict the collapse of the Caliphate and the establishment of a French Crusader state in Egypt.


    The French Crusader state would, at worst, act as a speedbump against attacks from the west. At best, Balian hoped it would anchor the western borders of his Duchy.



    Holdings administered by the d'Ibelin family shown in green.
    Machtergreifung at the nation of Paradoxia on NationStates.

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