fabiolundiense

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INTRODUCTION



Your Imperial Highnesses, Your Royal Majesties, Your Graces, and friends of all the above, greetings.

It’s been a few weeks now, and I decided to start a new EUIV game. After about sixty years of play, I will now move on to starting a new AAR from that game.

This time, the goal of becoming a Great Power did not feature in the choice of starting country. I wanted to start small but not doomed, and play to become simply an unexpected and uncommon nation in the world. Using the “Customise” button, I took the 1444 default country of Georgia, and tweaked it.

The result is the Kingdom of Pontus.



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The things I tweaked were dynasty name and Pontic ideas. The dynasty name Colchid comes from Antiquity, western Georgia being known as Colchis to the Ancient Greeks. Otherwise, like default Georgia, I start with only 50 development (Tunis, my last EUIV game, had just over a hundred), seven provinces, and Orthodox religion. In creating this “new” state, one default Georgia trait disappeared : I do not start by guaranteeing the independence of Trebizond. A huge difference in initial strategies.

I would have liked to add the goal of restoring a “lost” culture : Scythian or Pontic. In default 1444 EUIV, no one is Scythian, and only Trebizond, Caffa and Matrega are of Pontic culture. But it does not belong to the same culture group as Georgia. In fact, it belongs to no culture group. Hence the decision to stick with Georgian culture. Because yes of course, Pontus intends to expand !

Oh, and I changed the colour of my country on the map to purple. The colour of emperors, natürlich.



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At the start of the game, I am dealt three enemies : Genoa, Crimea, and Qara Qoyunlu.



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As I unpause the game, I note the following short-term goals :

— survive (I’ve already played sixty years)
— take provinces around the Sea of Azov (so war against Genoa and Crimea)
— take provinces along the Caspian Sea (so war against Great Horde and Nogai).

Long-term goal : create a Black Sea empire (so war against the Ottomans eventually ).

No mods, no cheats (except that I had to restart the game three times because the first three times, Q-Q attacked me even before the year 1444 ended and wiped me out), Normal difficulty level.

I wish you an enjoyable read !
 

fabiolundiense

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Chapter One
To The Sea of Azov

November 1444 - January 1450





Welcome to the magical Kingdom of Pontus. The land of the legendary Golden Fleece. The home of the sorceress Medea, whose arrogant father Aeëtes played with dragons’ teeth and fire-breathing bulls.

Contemplate the harsh, rugged awe-inspiring terrain. Suck in the acutely invigorating air. Harken to the innocent fall of crystal-clear Caucasian waters, and the murderous scream of an eagle on the wing. Welcome to the realm of the vulnerable but very valiant King Giorgi of Pontus.



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Before choosing this nation, I did investigate the www about playing as Georgia. It appears that conventional wisdom requires that the player 1) betray Trebizond asap ; 2) conquer Circassia asap ; 3) make friends with Genoa and Muscovy. But Pontus is not Georgia. Conventional wisdom does not apply.

The AI proposes a mission : get +100 relations with Trebizond, for a reward of +1 world-wide diplomacy. We take it. Our first official act of government is a Royal Marriage with Trebizond.

The time-lapse is set at pace 1. I want to see who gets cosy with whom. A diplomat sails to Theodoro : I want a Royal Marriage there too, because I would like to inherit that throne myself one day. (It’s only one province.) The Duke of Theodoro, foolish man, is wary of Pontus. Theodoro allies with Trebizond. To our displeasure, our enemy Genoa allies with Austria.



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Circassia wants a Royal Marriage with us, but I decline. Those tribesmen still like me though — same religion, more or less same culture.

1445 : the Khan of Crimea declares war on the Duke of Theodoro. Fire and brimstone ! We have no Royal Marriage, no alliance with His Lordship. Which means of course that we are not invited to defend him. And Trebizond, Theodoro’s ally, does nothing but P in his pants. Fortunately, our enemy Qara Qoyunlu ignores us, rallies an army and marches on Aq Qoyunlu.



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We cannot allow the Khan to annex Theodoro. We must get an alliance.

March 1445 : trembling Trebizond accepts an alliance with us. +1 diplomacy for ten years. Theodoro suddenly likes us more. Enough to enter into alliance with Pontus. The call to arms tarries not.



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Crimea’s fighting force outnumbers our own. We’ve known this from the beginning. But Theodoro must not fall to Crimea. The King takes out five bank loans in order to swell the Pontic army 60 percent. Next, he pays out 50 military points for a General. A waste, he is a nincompoop. Dismissed. King Giorgi shall lead his men in person : wow !



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We immediately move to crush Crimea. Our accommodating neighbour Circassia gives us military access. We begin to occupy Crimea. Trebizond finally mans up and scurries along behind us.

Crimea’s entire army occupies Theodoro. They are trapped in that province, unable to flee into Genovese territory. March 1446 : Pontus and Trebizond are laying siege to the fortress of Crimea when the enemy, in desperation, attacks.

It is madness. The Pontic coalition destroys Crimea’s army before their countrymen’s horrified eyes.



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The fortress in Crimea is a tough nut to crack. While the Pontic army suffers attrition in order to topple the enemy’s stronghold, the rest of our denizens focus on other pastimes.

1) The Patriarch of the Pontic Church adopts a move forward in liturgical matters, rather than hang on to meaningless traditions. 2) Legends about a former king of Pontus spread throughout our provinces, obliging the Treasury to spend precious ducats to enhance nationalist feeling and royal prestige.

3) Outside our borders, the Poles and the Lithuanians agree nicely to go each his own way. Our Court welcomes this piece of foreign intelligence with satisfaction, for it opens up the possibility of accrued Lithuanian interest in affairs concerning the Black Sea. A diplomat is despatched to the Court of the Grand Duke of Lithuania to improve relations.

4) As for our belligerent neighbour to the south, the Khan of Qara Qoyunlu, his unequivocal victory over Aq Qoyunlu results in the annexation of the latter khanate. 5) Then Genoa, smelling blood, declares war on Crimea ! Both these events are learned of with angry vexation.



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The fact that King Giorgi consistently displayed his commitment to breaking Crimea’s power finally overcomes the reservations of the Duke of Theodoro. In January 1447, the Duke gives one of his daughters in matrimony to a Pontic princeling.

Spring 1447 : the fortress of Crimea surrenders to our besiegers. The enemy flotilla, secure in its harbour, flees into the Black Sea. Pontic and Trebizond vessels ambush it in the Gulf of Odessa. Although the enemy succeeds in destroying two ships, their cowardice vanquishes their sense of honour, and the enemy sails away, conceding another victory to Pontus.



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The Duke of Theodoro’s fortress is still in enemy hands. Our men immediately begin to lay siege to the enemy’s last hold.

“Courage, proud soldiers !” exclaims King Giorgi, “the enemy is at our mercy !”

But as summer slips away, the Khan of Qara Qoyunlu makes an ignoble declaration of war against Trebizond. Our ally pleads with us to abandon Theodoro in order to come to their aid.

“Impossible, My Lord. Dishonour annihilates not only a kingdom but one’s right to the crown. Pontus shall not betray the Duke of Theodoro !”

The gasps that reverberate through Court in the wake of that decision are soon replaced by songs of thanksgiving. For three months later, the Ottoman Padishah in turn declares war on doomed Trebizond.



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Our enemy Qara Qoyunlu has unwittingly come afoul of the powerful Ottomans. This only a year after deliberately throwing down the gauntlet before the not-so-negligible Timurids. We are most pleased. But Pontus has more pressing matters to consider. For at the same time that Ottoman and Qaran forces prepare to clash over Trebizond, the Crimeans in Theodoro surrender.

King Giorgi is ready to negotiate. The Khan has no choice. In order to secure a peace treaty with Pontus, he cedes the province of Kuban to Pontus together with a purse of 92 ducats.

Pontus has humiliated Crimea in the eyes of the world. Pontus gains direct access to the Sea of Azov.



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The rest of the world barely notices what King Giorgi has accomplished. Pontus is too small, and the Crimeans are but a conglomerate of half-naked tribespeople. They have been humiliated, but they refuse to give up their claim on Theodoro. Our Ambassador does everything he can to lend His Lordship moral support in the unresolved conflict. Meanwhile, Florentine bankers multiply pretexts to remind the King how much he owes his victories to their generosity....

But a humble widow, a hundred years if she’s a day, suddenly bequeaths everything she owns to the Treasury, and then promptly dies.



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Her gift makes hardly a mark against our bill of debt, but it’s the thought that counts.

The Year of Grace 1449 winds down with a respite from bloodshed. August : Trebizond embraces vassalhood under Qara Qoyunlu rather than the Padishah. December : Crimea surrenders to the Genovese, retaining only one port on the Sea of Azov. Theodoro is safe, but the Sea of Azov is suddenly swarming with Genovese merchants.

“Miserable Duke !” cries Giorgi. “He must be made to understand that it is time he abdicated his right to rule !”

“Let us bide our time, Father,” replies Crown Prince Ishkhan. “Theodoro’s noblemen affirm that your place in the succession is secure.”

“As if their word could be trusted !”



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A few weeks afterwards, Italian bankers and merchants are full of Florentine gossip and self-importance. It appears that a Catholic monk, a paragon of scandal and debauchery, has recently unveiled a masterpiece of pious artwork that has all of Florence agape, declaring that nothing so beautiful as the monk’s fresco had appeared on earth since the Madonna herself.



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“Blasphemy !” cries King Giorgi.

“Father, why don’t we have Court Painters like the Duke of Florence ?” asks Crown Prince Ishkhan.

“ - - - ”


~~~​
 

stnylan

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What a mighty Gift to the State that was.
 

Tom D.

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The colour of emperors, natürlich.
Hell yeah! Beautiful purple you choose, if I were you I would stare all day at it and post only maps which show the glorious purple nation of Pontus, just for the looks. Anyway, nice to see you're doing another AAR, subbed!
 

fabiolundiense

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What a mighty Gift to the State that was.

Actually, those pennies are going to be a huge help.... :(


Hell yeah! Beautiful purple you choose, if I were you I would stare all day at it and post only maps which show the glorious purple nation of Pontus, just for the looks. Anyway, nice to see you're doing another AAR, subbed!

Woohoo! A new AAR! :D
Those Genovese must realize that the Black sea is yours and yours alone. Hopefully a sprinkle of Lithuania could help you with that.

Thank you ! There are a few harrowing moments on the way, this game keeps me constantly on my toes (which I prefer to getting bored, needless to say) :eek:
 

fabiolundiense

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Chapter Two
The Sheik, the Tribesmen, and the Grand Duke

February 1450 - August 1459





King Giorgi of Pontus may be a valiant, inspiring leader, but he is also vulnerable, and he knows it. The focus of his government is to maintain his throne and position. These in turn depend heavily on the number of armed men that will rally to his summons. Under his unrelenting command, the soldiery learn better military tactics, in advance of their neighbours.

The Duke of Theodoro, alas, cannot share this strength. In the spring of 1450, sensing his own end approaching, he submits to the Khan of Crimea. When he passes away a few weeks later, childless, the Khan installs a puppet prince on the ducal throne. King Giorgi’s claim to the duchy is met with guffaws and insults.



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The ugly truth is that Pontus’ first two military alliances, Trebizond and Theodoro, have now turned to ashes. The need for a new, much stronger, ally presses more urgently with each passing hour. At the same time, the Italian bankers hanker for the scheduled repayment of monies to them due.

“Eight-and-seventy ducats by the first day of September,” says the wearied Royal Steward.

“Pay them,” replies the King, “then negotiate new loans.” Giorgi is most anxious to appear trustworthy and honourable to the hilt. For he has hopes to win favour in the eyes of the Grand Duke of Lithuania. To that end, an alliance with a Russian Prince, the Lord of Ryazan — a minor principality in the north, and already in an alliance with Lithuania — is negotiated successfully. Whereupon the Prince further gratifies the House of Colchid by offering a Ryazanski princess as bride to one of Giorgi’s nephews.



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But the Grand Duke of Lithuania still expresses reserves about an alliance with Pontus.

Believing that weakness constitutes his greatest failing, the king decides to make a second show of might.

On Pontus’ eastern and northeastern borders sit two Sunni sheikdoms, Gazikumukh and Shirvan. The former expresses willingness to enter into alliance with Pontus. The latter refuses. Giorgi summons his army.

“Our task is simple : oblige the Sheik of Shirvan to recognise the error of his ways.”

It takes less than ten months to complete the mission. In the summer of 1452, the Sheik of Shirvan makes obeisance to King Giorgi as his lawful overlord.

In the meanwhile, Giorgi has made advancements in other sectors of government, in particular regarding the construction of churches and markets. All of this is presented to the Grand Duke of Lithuania as proof of Pontic brilliance in the world. To Giorgi’s delight, the Grand Duke is impressed.

“May I be so bold as to propose the hand of my niece Veronika to a prince of the House of Colchid ?” says the Grand Duke.

A slaughtering of wild boar and Caucasian lions, dancing and folk concerts are organised to accompany the banquet for the Royal Wedding on the Feast of Epiphany, 1453. Pontus’ prestige at other Courts reaches new heights. No one comments on the quiet figure sitting at a corner table, the former Duke of Trebizond, reduced now to a homeless exile after having submitted to the Khan of Qara Qoyunlu, only to have his duchy seized and annexed later by the Ottoman Padishah.



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And yet, despite the extravagant nuptials, the Grand Duke still stops short of signing an actual alliance with Pontus.

“Leave the princes of this world to their own devices, Sire,” advises Giorgi’s personal chaplain. “Strengthening the Church in Pontus will strengthen Pontus.”

Which remark inspires Giorgi to settle matters with the tribal chiefs of Circassia, all loyal disciples of Christian Orthodoxy. He proposes vassalisation with its inherent vow of perpetual protection. The chieftains decline. Giorgi insists. In vain.

“The Shirvan directive,” says Giorgi to his soldiers.

For their own good, the stubborn Circassians must be forced into a more secure position. On their own northern borders, Crimean rebels have for some time been making life miserable for all those who make their living off the Sea of Azov. But with this danger, they appear unconcerned.

“Sire,” the Lord Marshal announces one morning, ”Ottoman vessels lifted anchor at dawn and are heading back in the direction of Trebizond. Two days ahead of schedule !”



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This news is a godsend. The Padishah had been seeking to extend his malevolent influence across to the Sea of Azov, offering the Crimeans some sort of guarantee. It appears however that the Crimean tribesmen are as stubbornly independent as the Circassian chieftains. There shall be no Ottoman colony in Azov.

Giorgi marches into Circassia in the summer of 1454. The first encounter decides the fate of the chieftains. Every last warrior is slain on the battlefield. Giorgi splits his fighting force into four, despatching one unit into each of the four provinces of Circassia. But the troops barely make it to their designated provinces when stunning news reaches the king.

“Sire ! Crimean rebels threatened to take the Genovese Governor hostage, he has sought asylum in Poland ! ”

Thus does Crimea rise from its own ashes, with the province of Azov shaking off the shackles of Genovese rule. Giorgi instantly knows where his fighting men will go next.



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The army spends more than a year in Circassia. If any thought to wonder out loud why their king chose to remain so many months away from Court, they received no answer. For the truth — unpublicised — was known only to a handful of people close to the Privy Council. In the autumn of 1454, Giorgi suffered a moment of insanity.

“I went for a walk in the woods by the camp,” he recounted to his noblemen that evening. “Before I knew it, I came almost face to face with a dragon. It did not see me. It growled and breathed fire. Then I heard the sound of hoofbeats. I wanted to warn the horsemen of the danger, but it was no one of our cavalry officers who appeared. It was two centaurs, intent on doing battle with the dragon. That was when I slipped away.”

There was a silence at the dinner table during which no one dared look up from his dinner bowl. Giorgi’s Chaplain convinced the rest of the company to depart quickly, after which he had a conversation with the king. The Chaplain did not retire before he extracted a vow from the king to be very careful in future about what he recounted in mixed company.



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“It was a vision,” Giorgi informs his companions the next day. “Inspired by Satan. The less said about it the better.”

Circassian chieftains surrender to Giorgi in September 1455. Vassalisation is still on the table, but so is the surrender of two provinces to direct rule under Pontus. The agreement creates a Pontic corridor connecting the capital, high in the Caucus Mountains, to the Sea of Azov. On both sides, spirits are high, for Giorgi has indeed promised to defend his new vassals down to the last drop of peasant blood, if necessary.

The political situation pleases everyone. Pontus presides over a ring of united states stretching along its northern border. From west to east : Circassia, Gazikumukh and Shirvan. Further north is Ryazan, allied to Pontus ; northwest, the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. Between Circassia and Lithuania sit rivals Genoa and Crimea. And to the south : rival Qara Qoyunlu.

In November 1456, a Pontic princeling is wedded to a Circassian maid of something close to distinguished descent.

The next year, Giorgi responds to a call to arms from the Sheik of Gazikumukh. He has become involved in war against the Great Horde. Pontic soldiers have not ceased to hone their battle skills. They continue to dazzle armed warriors from other realms. The Sheik’s men battle whole-heartedly against the heathen foe. When arms are laid down in the summer of 1458, the Sheik returns home one province richer.

“We shall not shy away from helping the Sheik grow stronger,” declares Giorgi to his Council, “until such times as it become no longer wise to do so.”



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The renovated battling techniques render old practises such as jousting de facto obsolete. This development earns a wail of dismay from every corner of the realm, not least from among the youths aspiring to the honours and glories of chivalrous adventure. The king, moved by his subjects’ wishes, organises one last jousting tournament. Even the Grand Duke of Lithuania is enthralled, and a delegation from his Court duly turns up for the event. The feasting and revelry carry on for seven days and seven nights. At the end, everyone feels that the winds of change have made a permanent mark on the Kingdom of Pontus.

One late summer day in 1459, a spy returns to Pontus after a long sojourn in the West.



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“The King of Aragon has renounced his feudal rights and obligations over Naples, Sire. The new King of Naples is not adversely disposed towards Pontus.”

For the spy is all too aware that Pontus still lacks a powerful ally. In the West, however, another kingdom had just become weaker, not stronger. Giorgi knows that he must continue to work for an alliance with an Eastern power.


~~~​
 

Tom D.

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You serious? Aragon willingly just abandoned Naples? That's crazy Aragon! AI, when will you learn :rolleyes:... This would be so good for the Strange Screenshot thread :D! Unbelievable...
 

fabiolundiense

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It is unbelievable. The event just had to be included in the story somehow. It was also über satisfying that Crimea snubbed the Sublime Porte :) :)
 

stnylan

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Nicely done Crimea and Aragon :)

I can't ever recall seeing Aragon voluntarily allowing Naples to go free.
 

Nikolai

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It seems to me that the situation is still very precarious. And not many good prospective allies around either.
 

fabiolundiense

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Nicely done Crimea and Aragon :)
I can't ever recall seeing Aragon voluntarily allowing Naples to go free.
Those are some very nice events. I think Paradox has been waiting for Pontus to rise? ;)

I too think that those were such rare events, I made a point of saving the screen shot -- and saving the game ; no way was I losing those events. For a while I was even thinking that the AI that lives in my computer felt remorse for all the evil things it did to me in the past :rolleyes:


The wider world will surely not ignore Pontus for long!

Ah, thank you kindly Nuada Airgetlám. For now though, the wider world does indeed ignore Pontus, it being Orthodox and everything....


It seems to me that the situation is still very precarious. And not many good prospective allies around either.

Quite right, Nikolai. As said, there are some harrowing moments ahead. The Sublime Porte in particular wants my provinces :mad:
 

fabiolundiense

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Chapter Three
A Powerful Ally

September 1459 - June 1474



With King Giorgi’s military know-how, Pontus trots speedily along the path of Survival Through Muscle. Whilst the realm attempts to recover manpower and stability, tech advances become possible in August 1462. Pontus’ first Idea will be military — Offence. November 1463 : Pontic fighting men will have great men to lead them !



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No reason to let such useful gifts sit idle. Three months later, in January 1464, King Giorgi leads his army against the Crimeans. Circassian tribesmen and a sizeable force from the Sheik of Shirvan, assure success from the start, at the Battle of Tyn.

Even so, Pontus suffers more casualties than Giorgi is comfortable with.

“Implement extraordinary recruitment tactics !” he orders. “Away with old rhetoric and tales of knights in shining armour. Men who enlist will sit on my councils ! And where the devil is Ryazan ?”



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For although the Prince of Ryazan has promised a contingent to fight alongside King Giorgi, said contingent is as yet nowhere to be seen. However, a change of fortune at the Court of the Sheik of Gazikumuhk leans in Pontus’ favour. In October 1464, the Sheik despatches seven thousand horse and infantry to help reduce Crimea. At this time, Giorgi is informed that the Ryazanski General supposedly leading an army of nine thousand is too occupied P-ing his knickers to move out into public view.

Not until the summer of 1465, when most of the work has been done, will the Ryazanski General make his appearance.



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Exquisite timing, if one wishes to be there for the victory without risk of bruising one’s knuckles. Three months after the Ryazanski arrive, the fortress of Crimea falls. The Khan is at the same negotiating table as before. This time, the price for peace is three provinces.

Crimea is yet again humiliated in the eyes of the civilised world. Congratulations shower upon King Giorgi.

”You have as fine an infantry as one could hope to have,” beams the Prince of Ryazan. ”The finest, I say !”



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While a long truce with the Khan means relief for many families, the Crimean peasantry are none too pleased with the new state of affairs. Sporadic uprisings disrupt everyday life, affect merchant shipping, and cause embarrassment in foreign Courts.

Giorgi manages the volatile situation as best he can. In one area, however, he is helpless : the health of his heir. Crown Prince Ishkhan falls ill and dies in the summer of 1469. A premature death if ever there was one. Courtiers high and low outdo themselves in expressions of regret to their monarch, while simultaneously vying for the attentions of Giorgi’s second son, the new heir to the throne, Crown Prince Gabriel.



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Despite the shock and personal grief, King Giorgi does not desert the helm. His focus remains on securing Pontus’ future. He has shown his enemy in the north the superiority of Pontic arms against Crimean weaponry. The enemy to the south must learn the same lesson.

Giorgi continues to push his fighting force to further heights. The cavalry is reformed. A happy coincidence, for a storm is brewing in the south. One whose approach Giorgi finds fascinating.

The storm breaks in the spring of 1470. Qara Qoyunlu declares war on an obscure warlord somewhere in the Arabian desert. His appetite whetted, the Ottoman Padishah declares war on Qara Qoyunlu two months later. Followed by a third player : the Mamluk Sultan.

“Carpe diem !” exclaims Giorgi. “Heaven favours Pontus ! Now is the time to act, to welcome the gift that is offered us on plates of silver !”

In September 1470, King Giorgi invades the Shahdom of Qara Qoyunlu.



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Even after more than five-and-twenty years on the throne, King Giorgi himself leads his men into the Caucus Mountains to lay siege to the fortress of Yerevan, the primary war goal. Leaving capable men behind to follow through on his plans, he entrusts them with extraordinary powers. Pontus surges through more technological progress. As if obeying a rule of cause and effect, new recruits flock to the desks of the Ministry for Peace.

The Shah of Qara Qoyunlu, to Giorgi’s surprise, has diplomats talented enough to garner sympathy in foreign Courts. He makes no secret of his disgust with one prince in particular.

“Serbia, eh ? Orthodox Serbia is sympathetic to the Shah ? I start to have feelings myself for Serbia. Feelings of conquest and possession ! ”

Two days before the Feast of Epiphany 1472, Yerevan surrenders to Giorgi.



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At the same time, the Mamluk Sultan is negotiating a peace with the Shah. Giorgi worries not. He leads his men to splendid Tabriz, capital city of the Shahdom, the jewel of the realm. The walls of the city are not yet breached when the Shah lets it be known that he would settle for a peace deal.

“Our mighty king should be delighted with two provinces, Your Greatness : Yerevan and Ardabil,” says Giorgi’s envoy to the palace at Tabriz.

Proposal accepted.

”Father, are you sure about Ardabil ?” asks Crown Prince Gabriel. ”There’s no one there except for Muslim peasants.”

”Quite sure, my son.”

For in his regal munificence, and as a staunch defender of honour and justice, Giorgi has destined the Sunni province of Ardabil to his faithful vassal the Sheik of Shirvan. For a token sum.



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The outcome of this relatively painless conquest is heralded with much rejoicing, not least in the Sheikdom of Shirvan. Giorgi is pleased to lead his men back home. There is of course a reason for his making haste : the prospect of a new alliance. For from the outset of this war, Giorgi has been courting a rising power in the north. To wit, the Grand Prince of Muscovy. An embassy worthy of victorious Pontus is received at the Court of the Grand Prince. As had been the case of the Lord of Lithuania years hence, the Lord of Muscovy receives the news of King Giorgi’s accomplishments with boundless enthusiasm.

“May I be so bold as to propose the hand of my niece Anastasia to a prince of the House of Colchid ?” says the Grand Prince.

The difference with Lithuania being that the hand of Her Ladyship Anastasia comes attached to an agreement of military alliance.

The Shah of Qara Qoyunlu, while everyone is looking the other way, finishes another war — his fourth — by vassalising the Sheikdom of Haasa.



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On the home front, Crimean rebels are causing the realm more havoc than ever the Shah’s men did. The wedding feast uniting Pontus and Muscovy is in its second week when the provinces of Azov and Kuban plead for assistance : the rabble are turning the land to rubble.

Giorgi is swift to respond. The rebel scum are utterly defeated, first at Kuban, then at Azov.

A few weeks later, Qara Qoyunlu comes to terms with the Padishah.

“Eight provinces, my Lords. Eight !”

“Indeed, Sire.”

”Including Erzurum,” adds the king, ”Erzurum, which is rightfully mine !” For the population of Erzerum is Armenian, a people not very distantly related to the Pontic people.

Towards the end of summer 1473, an unexpected turn of events has Giorgi wishing he had pursued the war against the Shah. For that decidedly hapless prince becomes mired in yet another conflict, this time with tribal overtones : a war against the Timurids.



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After Epiphany in the year 1474, Crown Prince Gabriel pays a visit to this father.

”Father, many are we in the kingdom who would love nothing more than to mark thirty productive and glorious years on the throne,” he announces.

“Why ?”

“I take it upon myself to chair a committee to organise three months of games, concerts and receptions. In your honour.”

But other events are fated to intervene in the history of mighty Pontus.


~~~​
 

stnylan

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Mmm. Those Ottomans bear watching.
 

Tom D.

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Pontus is slowly solidifying its role in the Caucasus, now to hope the Ottomans or anybody else come knocking. At least you have very favourable terrain to defend in, especially with that fort.
 

fabiolundiense

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Mmm. Those Ottomans bear watching.

Ugh, I wish the AI would hurry up and get Austria or someone to knock them down to size.... :(


Pontus is slowly solidifying its role in the Caucasus, now to hope the Ottomans or anybody else come knocking. At least you have very favourable terrain to defend in, especially with that fort.

Ah, you noticed ! Yes, terrain is on my side. I'm also hoping that the first Pontic Idea, increased coring cost, will prove to be a deterrent for would-be invaders.


It's so interesting to compare the first war against Crimea to the second one.
I really thought you would get Lithuania in an alliance, but Muscovy doesn't surprise me either. Good job!

Yes, Lithuania’s attitude was a disappointment. I suppose it was too much to hope that a Catholic ruler would agree to royal marriage with an Orthodox :rolleyes:
I guess I'll just have to go after Lithuania now. And from the posts in your new AAR, I gather Lithuania should be a pushover.... :)
 

fabiolundiense

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Chapter Four
The Great Crimean Campaign

July 1474 - May 1482




”The Grand Prince of Muscovy has dominion over vast expanses of land. He
will find no rest until such times as he lay claim to the woods and snows of
Siberia. Be thankful for that, and pray he never gets over his aversion to
the sea, for then he will be tempted first and foremost by the Sea of Azov,
and to that temptation he will surely succumb. His dynasty sits on a hand-
ful of minor thrones. Our houses are bound together by the ties of holy
wedlock. Remind yourself that no church ceremony, however magnificent,
will ever suffice to stay an assassin’s hand. Keep abreast of every whisper
breathed in a nobleman’s chambres. Cultivate the company of the clergy.
And I’m sorry I let the Ottomans take Trebizond.”


Famous last words, which Prince Gabriel makes a point of never forgetting. For King Giorgi’s strength has waned. The Crown Prince’s plans for weeks of merriment and celebration are brought to an abrupt close when Giorgi passes away on the first day of July 1474. He had reigned over Pontus twenty-nine years and eight months.



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The kingdom that Gabriel inherits has twice the land mass and more than twice the population his father had before him in 1444. Many of his subjects pray to Allah, and use a different tongue at home than the one used in the royal palace.



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King Gabriel also realises that he does not possess the administrative acumen his father did.

“Keep an eye on the nobles. Cultivate proximity with the clergy. Well then, let there be Estates !”

And there were Estates. Four, in theory ; in practise, two : the Nobility and the Clergy. With the creation of these new institutions, envy is reborn, and fighting begins at once on every side to attempt to gain admittance into the ranks of the New Nobility. But Gabriel refuses to be corrupted.



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He receives a visit from the Grand Prince of Muscovy. The latter’s paternal affections are evidenced when he offers to lend Muscovite influence wherever Gabriel might desire it. Just not in the form of ducats.

“And don’t forget to find yourself a wife,” he adds.

Gabriel opts instead to create a new flotilla worthy of holding first position in the Black Sea. That mission will be accomplished in his second year on the throne.

Alas, the Crimean Trade Node is so poor that sending out light ships would burden the treasury rather than gain a penny’s profit. Pontus’ flotilla sits quietly off the coast of Adyghe.

He visits the more recently acquired provinces of Tyn and Yerevan, whose populace grudgingly agrees that it is good to be a part of the Kingdom of Pontus. In Yerevan, where the Armenian way of life holds sway, Gabriel decides to tarry. He is smitten by the graces and charms of Shorena, a girl of relatively comfortable ascendance.

In September 1474, two months after Gabriel’s coronation, weddings bells are rung all over the realm.



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Wedded bliss shall however not numb what little political acumen Gabriel does possess. He is acutely aware of, and is kept regularly informed about, his ally Gazikumukh. The ambitious Sheik decides to declare war on the ruffians commonly known as the Great Horde. His goal : the province of Majar, which lies between Pontus and Gazikumukh.

“An ill-advised decision, Sire,” the Chancellor confides without hiding his amusement. “The Sheik is taking a beating.”

“Should we not be alarmed, my Lord ?”

“The Sheik did not request assistance,” the Minister replies cautiously.

Gabriel knows this. The Sheik’s forces have indeed succeeded in occupying many provinces under the Horde’s nominal control, without anyone’s help. It is uncertain who will emerge victorious from this conflict. Gabriel worries that, if the Sheik were to win, he take the provinces of Majar and Manych.



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Gabriel does not want this to happen. Manych must be claimed for Pontus. For Gabriel has formulated an ambition : to extend his domain to the Caspian Sea. The route he has chosen passes through Manych, Sarai and Astrakhan. (The latter two are provinces under the rule of the Khan of Kazan.)

In the spring of 1476, Gabriel declares war on the Great Horde.

He has ridden off to war when Queen Shorena gives birth to a son, their first-born. He is christened Gabriel.



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It is Gabriel’s most ardent desire that this war reach a swift dénouement, for he is eager to rejoin his wife and son. To his surprise, his dream becomes reality. Pontic and Shirvani forces unite to crush the attackers from the Great Horde. A fierce battle is waged in August, on Shirvani territory. The Horde is crushed. Pontic horsemen have occupied two provinces. The Horde is already on the verge of collapse. That same month, Pontus is granted sovereignty over Manych and the Lower Don. It will be known to history as The Short War (five months).

“We are one step closer to the Caspian Sea,” sighs Gabriel in ecstasy.



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Back home, everyone is not as ecstatic as the king. Border tensions are a constant menace to the peace of the Queen’s home province of Yerevan. Neighbouring Melikates, under the rule of the Shah, would like to be a part of Pontus. And more or less everywhere, the clergy are getting grumpy.

“As an Estate, they feel the time is overdue when they should be granted hegemony in certain places,” says the Chancellor.

“Let them have Guria then,” Gabriel decides.

”Sire, they will not be content with less than two provinces.”

Gabriel grants them the province of Kuban. Its populace is one hundred percent Sunni, the clergy’s possession of it will add nothing to the Royal Treasure, but Gabriel hopes that they will do something about converting the masses.



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A few weeks later, the Sheik of Gazikumukh in turn makes peace with the Horde : he obtains the province he coveted, with which victory he assumes the title of Sultan. But the region is not to be spared further strife. For the ”Sultan” of Gazikumukh has decided to ally himself with the Khan of Kazan. Consequently, when the Khan declares war on the Horde, and the Grand Prince of Muscovy declares war that same year on Kazan, Crimea, Theodoro and Gazikumukh — all bordering Pontus — there is misery in the air.

”A monumental mistake,” sighs a Count in Gabriel’s Council à propos the Sultan’s politics. ”Allying with Kazan !”

The same remark is made (inaudibly) when an embassy from the Sultan arrives at Court requesting safe-conduct across Pontus.



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“The Sultan has gone mad,” Gabriel concludes. “As if we would ever betray the Grand Prince !”

While the world pursues each his own variation on the theme of madness, Pontus rebuilds after the labours of the Short War. In the spring of 1479, the Shah of Qara Qoyunlu treats with the Timurids, taking from them two provinces for the price of no more aggression.

In the north, the Grand Prince makes mincemeat of his enemies.



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“The Grand Prince did not invite us to assist him in his war,” says Gabriel, “assistance he assuredly does not need. But Pontus shall declare war on Crimea. The Prince can hardly object.”

”But Sire, Pontus already has a rather significant Sunni population.”

”Thank you for that information, Councillor. Prepare for war nonetheless.”

Pontic contingents move out in October 1479, followed by Shirvani auxiliary. The provinces along the Sea of Azov are swiftly subdued. The siege of the fortress of Crimea will be an arduous enterprise. But Pontic know-how continues to make progress, particularly in military sciences.

During the siege, Pontic observers are able to note the oddities — or rather the calamities — afflicting the Genovese provinces : militia waving banners of the ”traditional” heathen gods of the region have taken possession of the ports and markets.



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The Crimean Campaign places enormous strain on the National Treasure, but Gabriel shies away from raising a war tax. Another source of income presents itself, however : traders in the Black Sea are seeking and are willing to pay for the privilege of exclusive rights to market certain goods. Gabriel grants them the privilege of forming a monopoly. The profit gained from this deal flows immediately through the channels of the Minister of Peace, allowing to maintain the siege of the fortress in Astrakhan.



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In June of 1481, the fortress of Crimea itself capitulates. A year later, proud Theodoro follows suit.



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Crimea pleads for peace. Gabriel is only too happy to settle. The price shall be four provinces all along the coast of the Sea of Azov or the northern Black Sea. While many Western powers see the peace agreement as proof of Gabriel’s excessive aggressiveness, they also bow before the demonstration of military strength.

One unpleasant note is sounded in the aftermath of this splendid Pontic victory. The Sultan of Gazikumukh, livid with envy and outrage, denounces Gabriel as a felon, an enemy of the human race, etc. etc. He promptly demonstrates his own felony by unilaterally declaring his alliance with Gabriel to be void and defunct.



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~~~​