In 1066 the Holy Roman Empire stood strong, its enormous size protecting it from external threats.
As a loose federation of lords it was far less centralised than its Roman namesake. This allowed Dukes to plot, bribe and stab to their way into postions of power.
This is the tale of one such Duke and his family's rise to prominence.
Lothar-Udo Staden, Duke of Brandenburg, was a man of action. He dreamed of a crown on his head, a sword in his hand and a vast army at his back. He dreamed of glorious battle, a prestigious empire, and loyal followers.
But more than anything, he dreamed of power. The power of life and death over his vassals, the power to seize anything he desired. The power to bring order to his homeland.
His territories consisted of the Duchy of Brandenburg, giving him legal jurisdiction over the counties of Brandenburg, Anhalt and Altmark. Only the first two were under his direct control however, as Altmark was governed by his vassal Friedrich von Goseck.
The greatest power of all is derived from law, and it was to this end that Emperor Heinrich tried to increase his own powers at the expense of the regional lords. Naturally, Lothar was opposed to this.
The Kingdom of Denmark had no such trouble with voting, and the King's word was law.
Political matters were delayed in September when Lothar encountered a rather odd man.
The second greatest source of power was familial presitge: the great Karling dynasty, descendants of Emperor Charlemagne, possessed great amounts of prestige but little actual power. Seeing their ancestry squandered Lothar negotiated to have his son Heinrich betrothed to Adéle Karling.
Legal reform continued to face resistance from the electors.
There had long been a rift between Germany and Italy, but nobody expected that war would come in January 1067.
In an attempt to garner fame Duke Lothar mustered his troops and marched South to help deal with the rebels.
Things went from bad to worse when Bologna, Bourgogne and Lombardy broke free.
A few weeks later it turned from a few private wars into a full-blown rebellion.
Twins were born to the Stadens in 1067, named Johann and Frederick.
Even at the birth of his sons Lothar continued to tangle with the mysterious book.
Great start. Also watch your provinces culture Unless of course ending up pommeranian is in your plans
In the end he failed to decipher the book's secrets, but he enjoyed the experience so much that he decided to become a scholar. He sent a servant to Byzantium to procure copies of the great masterpieces.
The armies of Brandenburg captured a Lombard stronghold, liberating considerable amounts of gold from the treasury.
Further successes followed.
The Brandenburgers routed an army from Provence at Sospiro.
The victory proved to be Pyrrhic, as the losses sustained meant Lothar could not effectivaly siege their foes. Regardless, he returned home rich in loot.
An attempt at plotting backfired when the Count of Altmark rebelled.
The Count stood little chance and his army was wiped out.
Noticing his exploits a chronicler approached Lothar-Udo.
Yet another son was born to the Stadens in 1070.
With Italy rebelling and the threat of civil war the Emperor managed to force through his legal reforms.
The Count's fortress fell quickly, giving Duke Lothar-Udo full control over his realm.
His next move was to forge a claim on Saxony, and with the support of some fellow dukes he managed to produce some rather
Never one to rush his moves, Lothar waited until his lands were recovered and his coffers full before striking. This was helped
along when he received additional funds from his enterprising steward.
Unfortunately for the Brandenburgers the Emperor's protection of his realm had lapsed, allowing the northern pagans an opportunity
to push deep into Brandenburg.
The pagan's assumption that they were safe was proven wrong when the Brandenburgers rose up and crushed them at Querfurt.
Heinrich continued to learn from his father, biding his time until the best possible moment.
Frederick on the other hand was quickly becoming an aggressive brute. Lothar encouraged this, as excessive aggression effectively
nullified the threat posed to the firstborn son.
Lothar's support among the electors grew steadily, though he was still no match for the Emperor's son.
The taxation of Brandenburg met resistance in October 1072, forcing Steward Gebhard to relocate to Altmark.
Heinrich displayed virtues at every turn.
In August 1073 Court Chaplain Hermann turned to heresy. Knowing that tolerating a heretic would destroy his powerbase Lothar
had the man imprisoned.
Following threats, several of which involved spherical objects and clamps, the Chaplain rejoined the Catholic Church.
Lothar finally convinced the bishops to pay their taxes to him rather than the Pope.
On December 14th 1073 Lothar-Udo Staden declared war on the far stronger Ordulf of Brunswick. Many called him a fool, but Lothar
didn't come alone. He brought with him the renowned Breton Band, a group of disciplined mercenaries who gave him just the edge he
Be interesting to see if he wrangles in the true Saxons
Reforging Burgundy - The Chronicles of Little House de Forez: One of my first AARs, a fun game with many lucky breaks.
The Duke of Saxony had foolishly sent his troops south to aid the Emperor in Tuscany, and with the support of the mercenaries Lothar quickly captured Lüneburg.
Another son was born in August 1074. Lothar named him Pepin, as yet another sign of his ambition to rule Christendom.
The holdings of the Saxon Duke fell with terrifying speed, the loot seized being more than enough to pay the mercenaries.
In October Lothar recieved word that the Saxon army was returning north. With the recent influx of funds he purchased the services of a second mercenary company and crushed the Duke's army at Walbeck.
With their army destroyed and their lands under siege it was only a matter of time before the Saxons surrendered. Lothar felt confident enough in his troops' abilities to leave the front and attend a tourney.
The mercenaries continued to earn their keep at the Battle of Havelburg, where they captured two prominent bishops. These men were ransomed, netting a profit for both the mercenaries and Brandenburg.
The last of the Saxons fell at Bautzen.
Heinrich's education hit its first obstacle in October 1075: it would seem being the son of a Duke made it rather difficult for him speak with others. Lothar gave him a nudge in the right direction.
With the war wrapping up Lothar took some much needed time at home with his family. His wife began to take an interest in falconry, which he chose to indulge.
Heinrich continued to err from his father's plans, showing little ambition. Frustated at the lad's passiveness Lothar took the strap to him.
On February 5th 1078 an emisarry arrived from Saxony: Ordulf Billung, Duke of Saxony-Brunswick, surrendered.
Needless to say Lothar was thrilled at this news. He immediately accepted and Saxony joined the Brandenburger realm.
Nice to see an AAR of Brandenburg. I'm playing as Brandenburg right now and are even trying to write my first AAR about them. Will be fun to compare notes.
Interesting to see that Lothar-Udo had twins, that happened to my Lothar-Udo as well.
However, you seem to be better at plots than me. I have fought the Duke of Brunswick as well, but only in defense and did not gain a single province from him.
Though the war with Brunswick had gained no actual territory, the title of Ducal title of Saxony gave Lothar-Udo free license to subjugate the independent Saxon counts. He wasted little time in expanding Southwards.
Though his gaze was turned South Lothar also made progress in the North.
The war in Plauen didn't last long.
Lubeck was next on the list.
After a rather one-sided battle the forces of Lubeck were crushed. Lothar settled in for a siege.
The pagans to the Northeast continued to launch incursions into the Empire, forcing Lothar to hire mercenaries. After two battles for pagans were expelled from Brandenburg.
Lubeck fell soon after, granting Brandenburg a coast.