Ok! Time for something a little more…German. This time going for one of the dukes of the HRE. Never played as the vassal to someone before. The approach for this is going to be a mix of two things. Glimpses into the events in a first person sort of style as they happen and also recorded entries in a journal. Journal entries will be dated while in person events usually not but happening sometime between two points in the journal. Custom character though I kept the family name and crest.
*Journal entry dated for September 15th, year of our Lord 1066*
My name is Sieghard von Nordheim. I rule as the duke of Bavaria. I come from a long line of Northeim counts and this year in 1066 I was granted the duchy of Bavaria by the dowager Kaiserin Agnes de Poitou the mother of our current Kaiser, the noble Heinrich the 4th of the Holy Roman Empire. I am unmarried and recently divorced. My first wife gave me no children at all and the Pope was kind enough to let me escape marriage to a woman who was surely barren. I am as all dukes should be a loyal follower to our young Kaiser. My ambitions are small things really. All I really want is a wife and children, the continuation and prosperity of the von Nordheim name and success of Bavaria. I am of course a good and honest Catholic man as well and in these troubled times I understand we might have to take action against the Muslim’s in the Holy Land.
My duchy is amongst the strongest in the Empire and I personally have 9 counties under my rule though I only rule the county Obeyberern directly. I have an acceptable council. I do wish that some of them were a little more capable though but that is no matter. In fact they should all be arriving now for our first proper meeting.
*End of Journal entry dated for September 15th, year of our Lord 1066*
“Gentlemen! It is good to see you all made it. I know well how the weather can be here during the fall months.” As if to lend weight to my words we begin to hear the pattern of rain on the shutters.
I close the book I had been writing in, a piece of velum to mark my place. Here in my home in Munchen I have set up one of the rooms for meetings in private with my council. The family coat of arms hangs behind me as I sit at the head of the table. I stand and gesture to them indicating where each of the five men should sit. At my right hand is Count Burengar von Sulzbach of Nuremburg who serves as my Chancellor. To my left hand sits Count Otto von Wittlesbach of Neiderbayern. The two highest ranked men in my council they hold those esteemed seats. At the far end sits Bishop Berthold of Freising who serves as my Court Chaplain. The other seats held by Philip von Dachau and Stefan von Adechs who hold the positions of Steward and Spymaster respectively. Once they have all sat so do I as a final gesture of respect to my new council.
“I know that most of you have only known me for a little while but I trust that together we can do much. A duke is made great by the men who choose to follow him. God willing we shall make Bavaria strong and the Kaiser will shower us with praise and glory.” I have always been a master of oratory and they hang on my words nodding along. “Now then gentlemen what do you think is the first thing we should do?”
“If I might be so bold Lord, why not seek the make the Duchy of Tyrol? It lies unclaimed for now though thanks to the dowager Kaiserin you govern enough territory you could make it such.” Count Berengar is the first to speak on the matter and raises a good point.
“The County of Chur is held by Prince-Bishop Thietmar who governs it for Duke Rudolf von Reinfelden of Swabia. You would have good reason to try to take control of Chur if you restored the Duchy of Tyrol but I am not convinced that we could best Rudolf for the land with our current forces.” Count Otto is the next to speak and builds on what Berengar has said.
“Perhaps something to worry about in the future then.” I file away this information in my head for something to look into later but to leave alone for now.
“Lord, the coffers are not exactly overflowing. Perhaps I shall see about that?” Philipp suggests. He has a large heavy ledger with him with numerous little marks in black or red ink. More black than red it looks like from what I can see. I give him a nod of assent to his suggestion.
“And mayhap I should travel to Rome to speak of your wisdom and piety with the Pope?” Suggests Berthold. To be perfectly honest I don’t like the man. He is cruel and arbitrary and really the only good thing he has going for him is that he doesn’t sleep around though as a priest really that should be expected. I don’t trust him to exactly promote my interests in Rome. If I send him I might end up excommunicated!
“Ahh perhaps next year. I had a special project in mind for you actually. Everyone knows that the greatest works of art and culture have been inspired by God and supported by the church. I would like to continue that tradition.” I say with a smile to him quickly hiding any of my real thoughts behind my charm. The flattery seems to work as he just smiles and nods.
“Have you given any thought about who you plan to marry Lord?” This is from Berengar. In some ways the man is much like me. We both have an appreciation of the female form more than the Church approves of. “There are quite a few princesses who may be inclined to accept a proposal of marriage from you as well. Perhaps one of the Princesses from the Catholic lands in Iberia?”
“Actually while I was at the Kaiser’s court this summer I ran into a woman I have had my eye on. Gudrun von Merseburg.”
“I admit I am not familiar with her Lord. However if that is what you wish I can make the arrangements immediately.” There is a dubious look on his face about my suggestion but honestly the other potential brides are far too distant for any claims they may get to have any reasonable way of me acting on or passing on to my sons to be. Besides I have spoken with her a few times and she has a wit and brilliance that at least I should enjoy my time with her.
“Count Otto, if you could please put your efforts to work with the soldiers? If I do act on the matter of Tyrol I will want my soldiers in top form. Count Berengar if you can work with the nobles of the land on my behalf? Convince them that though I am new to this rule I shall rule justly.” Both men give nods and with that dealt with I indicate for them all to leave. All but for Stefan and myself. Alone with my Spymaster we have things to discuss that should not be done in public.
“And what of me my lord?” He asks, guessing rightly there is a scheme in my mind he wants me to act on.
“What advice do you have for me?” I ask as I rise and move to one wall where a map of the Duchy is hanging on the wall.
“Honestly I really do think you should expand your personal demesne. The count of Kempten is not well liked. He is known to be a coward and cruel that also spends too much time chasing skirts rather than ruling. You should revoke his title and take it for your own. If you forgive the suggestion.” Suggesting that I strip a loyal man of his title isn’t a wise political move for most but there is a reason we are having this talk in private.
“I shall take that under due advisement. Thank you Stefan. Work to ensure no one wants to see me toppled from here for the time if you would.” He rises and nods, bowing respectfully to me before he leaves and once more I am alone.
*Journal date for the 24 of September, year of our Lord 1066*
I am no longer a single man. Yesterday Gudrun and I were wed. Berthold did a surprisingly acceptable job with the marriage ceremony. I did not collect any duty from my vassals to pay for the marriage for I want their respect right now. Besides it does not cost coin to do what we did last night. I can only hope a son comes quickly to us. I imagine she does as well. No doubt she would prefer to study works of philosophy and religion rather than perform her wifely duties each night. Well no match is perfect. Still I am charmed by her and pleased so far about just sitting and talking with her.
King Saloman Arpad of Hungary is off to a rough start. Stefan has brought me word that the Duke of Nyitra is trying to depose and replace him. I have also penned to the Kaiser my own vote that we not raise the authority of the crown of the Holy Roman Empire. I must admit a personal preference for freedom here and hope that the Kaiser does not hold this against me.
Furthermore I have been able to find someone to replace that fool Berthold. Count Dietpold Rapotonen of Passau has come to me with the request that he take over as Court Chaplain a request I very quickly accepted.
*end of Journal dated for the 24 of September, year of our Lord 1066*
I am wearing my finest clothes as I arrive in the great hall in Nassau. They call my name as I enter, listing my titles. Duke of Bavaria. Count of Obeyberern. Chancellor of the Holy Roman Empire. Though I keep my face calm I am nervous. The eyes of the court of the most powerful secular ruler in all the world are on me as I approach Kaiser Heinrich and go to a knee.
“You may rise Chancellor Sieghard.” He says and I rise and move to my place in his court. Today is merely a formality. The young Kaiser though a kind man is more interested in his young wife and prefers to keep things public where he can keep an eye on everyone. Paranoid but when you are the second most powerful man in the world, second only to the Pope, perhaps you have good reason.
“Ahh Duke Fratislav.” I find myself beside the Marshall of the Empire, a firm shake of his hand. He wears a gleaming breastplate and the only one allowed to carry a sword so close to the Kaiser. A Bohemian man we are not and we are not enemies we just know each other and now have to work together. "As always a pleasure to meet with you.”
“Duke Sieghard, I am not surprised that the Kaiser requested you attend him here. You are well known for your eloquence.”
“As you in turn are known on the battlefield. Your wife is well I trust? And the children?”
“All good thank you for asking. I heard that you got married not long ago yourself no?”
“Yes Gudrun is my wife. Barely had any time with her before the Kaiser requested I serve him as his Chancellor. We only married in September.”
“And by December you were working in the court of the Kaiser himself. Seems the favor of the dowager Kaiserin still leads you to high places.”
“I only hope I prove worthy of that favor.”
*Journal dated 26 of February, year of our Lord 1067*
I find myself in command of some soldiers for the Kaiser. I suspect that his Marshal does not wish the Kaiser success. He has no heirs so were he to die me and the other Elector Counts would have to pick a new leader and from what I can gather that would likely be Duke Ordolf of Saxony. A man that I know Duek Fratislav supports for the position. The Marshal suggested that the Kaiser support Count Mariano Torchitorio of Arborea against the Muslims who invade Sardinia. That is all well and good but my Spymaster sends word about how the war goes already. We will not be able to make it there in time to make a difference I fear.
Still the Kaiser is my liege. If he says I march with the troops then I march with the troops and that is the end of that. I just wish that these things didn’t make it harder for me to find time with my dear Gudrun. At least when I was at the Kaiser’s court I could have her visit for intimate moments. That will not be an option when I am with the troops. I wouldn’t want her near them anyways. Those stories about soldiers are generally true. Further I should see about hiring a proper cook this food for the military is abysmal.
*End of journal dated 26 of February, year of our Lord 1067*
“Sieghard? Sieghard?” I can hear someone calling for me. Gudrun in fact by the voice. Now this is suprising I did not expect her to come see me so soon after her last visit. Even as I am rising up from my desk in my chambers in Nassau she sweeps on inside and runs to my arms.
“Gudrun what is it?” I can’t keep the surprise from my voice at this. She never runs to my arms. I can’t help but fear something has gone terribly wrong. The loss of a parent perhaps? Trouble in my court? Perhaps one of the men at my court is trying to cuckold me!
“Dear Sieghard…I bring joyous, joyous news. I am with child.” She beams at me. We have both been wanting children. She knows I want a son and I know she wants a daughter. My eyes go wide as my smile and I lift and spin her.
“That..that is wonderful! Amazing! Thank God for this blessing!” I clutch her tightly to me before I kiss her. The world fades around us and for a time there is nothing but me and her.
*Journal dated for 20 of June, year of our Lord 1067*
My life is full of ups and downs. I find myself imprisoned by the Kaiser. His spymaster, Baron Welf Welf of Altdorf has whispered lies into his ear. I was accused of making passes at his wife. Why would I do that? I have my own wife who is pregnant with my child. What need have I to go chasing anyone else’s? I am an innocent man yet here I find myself locked away.
At least I am given pen and paper and my journal. Though falsely accused it isn’t like I was plotting against the Kaiser so he has been merciful at least in that regard. Still I must find a way out of here. How can I govern my land’s from a prison cell? And what of the Kaiser? Some fool will have to replace me and they will not do nearly as good a job as I. Tomorrow when the light down here is brightest I shall pen a note to the Kaiser to beg for his mercy and for him to release me. Hopefully my Steward in Bavaria will not have to be my regent for long.
*End of journal dated 20 of June, year of our Lord 1067*