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A golden lion rampant queue-forché - The Swedish Lion


A golden lion rampant queue-forché

This is my second attempt at an AAR, the first one died due to complications and a sudden uninterest in EUIII, much since I instead started playing Crusader Kings.

The nation played is Sweden, and the story starts in 1066, shortly after the battle of Hastings. Sweden is still a federal state where the kings, in reality, are elected at the Mora Stones of the three inofficial countries Västra Götaland (Western Gothia), Östra Götaland (Eastern Gothia) and Svealand. These three countries were generally ruled by the same king, with a few exceptions, and they were never really interconnected. Thus my focus will, technically, be the clan of Stenkilsätten and the creating of their dynasty -- at least to start with.

The title of the AAR comes from the heraldic description of the mighty lion in their coat-of-arms, the one that can be seen above: a golden lion rampant queue-forché, that one day, hopefully, will wave over all of not only Sweden, but Scandinavia. And after that... who knows?

Critique and suggestions for improvement are of course always welcome.


Part I - King Erik "Segersäll" of Stenkilsätten of Sweden, 1046-1090, r. 1066-1090
Chapter I
Chapter II
Chapter III
Chapter IV
Chapter V

Interlude - Mora Stenar
Chapter VI

Part II - Birger Eriksson of Stenkilsätten of Sweden and the Balts 1070 -, r. 1090 -
Chapter VII
Chapter VIII
Chapter IX
Chapter X [written as we speak]
 
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Sweden, the Kingdom! An interesting choice. Following.
 

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Part I Erik "Segersäll" of Stenkil - Chapter I

Northern Europe 1066 A.D.


Chapter I
Erik of Stenkil, he that in the second half of his life would go by the name “Segersäll” – the victorious – was not only my older brother, but also my king. My name is Halsten, and after my brother the oldest of the sons of King Stenkil Ragnvaldsson that died in 1066, thus leaving the throne of Sweden, a country of a whole lot of quarrelling counts as well as of three dukes, to a young son with young siblings and few, if anyone to tell him what to do.

Although period in the history of our country was unique in the way that most of the fractions in the lands of Svea and Göta were led by men as young or only differing with a few summers – not to mention that the duke of Östergötland, Sven Kolsson, was naught but a child and had to see his demesne ruled by a council his father had appointed before his death.

And so in this peculiar situation I, Halsten of Stenkil at an age of 20 winters became chancellor of Sweden.
I would not call myself anything particular within diplomacy, especially since I had barely ended my education at the court. But as my brother said to me when I asked him about this, even in my opinion peculiar choice he concisely stated that he needed people he could trust surrounding him, and his brothers would be the last ones to ever betray him.

When he walked away up the stairs towards his room in the North Tower I heard him mutter “Or at least they better be…” and instinct as well as knowledge told me that I was supposed to hear those words. And not for a second would I doubt that he, my Lord and brother, would punish his brothers milder for treason.

With this politic he gathered his court around him. Sadly none of us brothers – except for King Erik in his role as the oldest son – had gotten education in the art of war, and he stood without a marshal for a long time. He appointed our beloved mother, Maria of Munsö, stewardess and or youngest brother Håkon as master of the espionage.

The last appointment angered our second youngest brother, Inge. Håkon was only our half-brother, the result of a happy evening of our fathers during a feast in Linköping. Inge thought that he, as a full blood son of old King Stenkil would have the right to a high post in the king’s council. But the sad truth was that Inge, despite being our brother, neither was a good warrior, nor was he better at numbers than our mother, nor was he better at plotting and intriguing than Håkon nor was he – and pardon that I speak about myself – a better diplomat than me. And he was not king, as is easily understood. He thus had to bide his time, but was in the end rewarded with the title Count of Dalarna and Västmanland many years later.

King Erik’s first action was to tie bonds to the big courts in Europe by marriage; we were all bachelors and some of us – especially Håkon, who always had time for an extra bottle of Rhenic at the tavern – happy bachelors. But a fact was that it would be hard to keep the state together without any help from outside. Also, King Erik realized that ad an unfortunate event he might wake up dead one morning, and then a follower to the throne would be needed.

We ended up with widely different wives. I got married with a Danish maid by the name of Alfhild von Regnsburg, Håkon’s question of marriage was answered by the daughter of the Lübeckian chancellor, the five year older Gertruda von Kiel, and Inge found a wife in a Swedish noblewoman, Ingrid Ribbing. King Erik himself married a blonde muse by the name of Margaret Atheling from the Kingdom of Scotland, a Lady that became known as the most beautiful in the kingdom.

Of us all, King Erik was, naturally, the most satisfied with his marriage. We others married more due to our duty to the crown than for love, even though I have to admit that me and Alfhild held each other dear and sent letters already after our first meeting.

In the time that followed, King Erik managed to put a lot of local counts under his reign as vassals. Among these were the County of Dal, the County of Öland and the County of Finnveden. He also succeeded in making Margaret pregnant after only one month’s marriage.

A thing not spoken of as much is that King Erik, just before his marriage with Lady Margaret, shared bed with a woman working as a servant at the royal court. The fruit of this relation was a son named Niels whom was born right after Margaret’s arrival to our Kingdom. She of course did not like hearing of this, but King Erik firmly stated that his son would not be hidden, and thus Niels was accepted into the royal court, despite being a bastard.

And so in the end of the year a daughter named Gyrid was born to King Erik and Lady Margaret and there were big celebrations for this King Erik’s first legitimate child, despite it being yet another without any claims on the throne.

On January 11th in 1068 it was once again announced that Margaret was pregnant, and in the court people whispered admirably at the King’s potency. The result was yet another daughter, this time by the name of Thorborg. To celebrate, King Erik appointed himself Duke of both Bergslagen and Småland.
This newly-won prestige was soon lost though: Count Tyke of Öland was unhappy with the King’s way of ruling, he considered him an arbitrary tyrant and thus broke free from his vassalization and declared war. Also, Öland was one of the few non-Catholic provinces of Sweden – the people still worshipped the old gods. The combined troops of King Erik, Duke Sven and Count Sigvard of Kalmar took the island in a matter of three months.

Filled with religious inspiration, and with a slight lack of money, King Erik after the conquest of Öland turned his eyes northwards towards County of Dalarna, in which the count, Tjudmund, held a respectable amount of gold in his castle. Dalarna fell just as easy for the blades of the troops of the crown, much due to their army being occupied plundering Hälsingland. During this field trip to the heathens King Erik started to find himself a little lonely with his wife sitting pregnant in Eriksborg – he thus found himself a fair, blonde farmer-girl whom he charmed and then had many a pleasurable night with. This resulted in his second bastard, a son named Birger. When Dalarna was once again both Swedish and Christian it was granted to our brother Inge, who now finally got a position of power of his own. Öland, however, remained in Swedish hands. Soon after this, King Erik’s third daughter was born: Gyda. Right the year after yet another daughter, Kristina, was born. People marvelled at the royal couple’s fertility, but they also wondered why King Erik only managed to get sons via adultery.

In 1072 a messenger from Count Orm of Västmanland arrived at Eriksborg, requesting immediate audience with the king. He got that, and he carried the message that the Count – who had never liked King Erik’s very determined way of leading a country, leaving little room for flexibility for his vassals – declared his independence from the Kingdom of Sweden. King Erik got furious, drew his sword and beheaded the messenger as he stood. The very same day the regiment of Västergötland marched for Västmanland.

Count Orm was a good tactician, but not a genius on the battlefield – in competence he was thereby matched with King Erik, who stood without a marshal since there simply wasn’t anyone suitable for the mission in court.

The troops of the crown were however five-hundred more than the almost one thousand men of the Count, and thus the victory belonged to King Erik once again. During the siege of the Count’s castle with surrounding villages, King Erik declared – on penalty of death – that there would be no looting of the peasants or the burghers. His motivation was that it was the nobles and not the peasants that had opposed him and drawn his anger upon them, although this gained him a reputation of being soft and forgiving. Me, knowing him as a brother, I am sure that he did it merely to save himself from future rebellions as well as a tedious re-building of a plundered landscape.

This year his oldest son and bastard, Niels, became old enough to start an education.
With the lack of competent military leaders King Erik decided that the child would get his training in the hird of the king, his personal troop of soldiers. His fellow bastard brother Birger would a few years later also start an education, although he got an education for the court. It was considered remarkable how much King Erik – or that he at all – cared so much about his bastard sons.

About the same time, the last fortification of Count Orm’s castle fell and he had to hand over his title to King Erik before fleeing the country. The title was given to our brother Inge once again, thus extending his power, maybe as a compensation for being neglected when King Erik made his plans for the future of the country a few years earlier.
The success was followed by a tragedy however, because in the winter that year King Erik’s oldest daughter, Gyrid, got ill. The King took it harshly – he loved all his children equally much, even though he had an ill-fated tendency to create illegitimate ones. The same year our beloved Mother died in her sleep and the King spent the following two months alone in a room, “talking to Our Lord” as he described it. Thus, the doings of the Kingdom went into a tedious period of routine-work whilst our King was contemplating the mysteries of life and death.
When he finally left his room highest up in the North Tower of Eriksborg after two months of celibacy and thoughts, he looked five years younger. He walked as if on springs and had a smile and a loud, encouraging laugh for everyone. I ran into him on the Western rampart and he embraced me, to my surprise. My brother had never embraced me before, nor showed any bigger affection or happiness for other things than his children and, when he was in the mood, for his Queen. I asked him what be the reason for this mirth.
“Brother Chancellor, I have had a good little talk with the Supreme One” he said, a smile on his lips and his eyes glimmering. “And he hath given me not only clarity but also guidance and goals for the future!”
“I pray, tell me Brother King” I answered, my interest sincere and genuine.
“I have seen the cross and taken it: by my life, it is time for us to rid the North of the heathens and pagans pestering Our coasts with raiding parties” he said loudly. He was no longer looking at me, but out over the lake preventing siege from the West, wildly gesturing his arms. “It is time for Us to cleanse out the vermin. By my heart, it is time for the will of God to be bid through the tip of our swords! Brother, order immobilization and the preparation of a fleet. We sail when our bays are rid of ice.”

I should have known that only the prospect of a good fight would get my brother and king in such a good mood.

And so, with the death of a mother and the birth of a vision, ends the first chapter about King Erik of Stenkil - Kung av Svear och Götar.
 
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Oho! You are doomed my friend! The Seljuks will be there all over you, just you wait.

:D
 

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RGB said:
Oho! You are doomed my friend! The Seljuks will be there all over you, just you wait.

:D
I doubt that King Erik cares too much about it. As you, my this far one and only reader, soon will notice he is occupied with saving other heathens. ;)
 

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I was expecting a tale of Venice.

Instead, I find a tale of derring-do by the Swedes. Very different and likely to benefit from the mess that Michael Doukas makes as Basileios. The Seljuks will run into ill-tempered Vikings not revolting single provinces. That should make even them pause for breath.

Swedish Aleppo is the springboard for new Varangian conquests.
 
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Chief Ragusa said:
I was expecting a tale of Venice.

Instead, I find a tale of dearing do by the Swedes. Very different and likely to benefit from the mess that Michael Doukas makes as Basileios. The Seljuks will run into ill-tempered Vikings not revolting single provinces. That should make even them pause for breath.

Swedish Aleppo is the springboard for new Varangian conquests.
You know, that actually presents many ideas for the future of the AAR...

Nice to have another experienced reader on board!
 

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An interesting way of writing an AAR you have choosen. Keep it up !
 

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Since it won't be seen as with new posts since they are actually only edited, I would now like to declare that the first chapter is re-written as of a new save game -- read why in the first post -- and I am back on track. Thanks for your attention. ;)
 

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Part I Erik "Segersäll" of Stenkil - Chapter II

Chapter II
The Pope called to arms in September the year of the Lord 1076, to liberate Alexandria from the heathen Moslems.

King Erik of Stenkil, my brother and King, had only a vague idea where Alexandra actually was. He was quite confident that it lay eastwards, in the lands of Rus. He was not sure however, and thus he, when talking about it, varied in between mentioning it as lying west-, south- and eastwards. This confused everyone to madness, but no one dared oppose him.

He was however sure that it wasn’t northwards, for there were only Lappish pagans and a few Norwegian fishermen. And since this was incredibly much closer than Alexandria, this is where the troops of the Kingdom of Sweden marched first.

The High Chief of the Western Sames, Njuolla, led his troops bravely but they were simply too few. They were gravely defeated, and the northernmost provinces of Scandinavia were incorporated in our Kingdom. King Erik could now title himself Duke of Norrland.

The next target was hard to foresee, but King Erik settled for the Balts. War was declared upon the Tribe of the Curonians in Kurland, and two big, Swedish armies gathered in Kalmar for transport over the sea.

The Curonians fell easily, and so did the Zemigalians. The cleansing of the lands around the Baltic Sea would be no bigger battle, and as it looked now, they would be engulfed quickly. The superior equipment and ferocity of the Swedish troops combined into a mighty sledgehammer that crushed the heathens, and after only a year of war King Erik declared himself Duke of Courland. The war continued in the lands of the Lettigalians.

And at the same time as the war was raging successfully on the other side of the ocean, a personal tragedy happened to me. My beloved wife, Alfhild, died suddenly and inexplicably.
I, of course, took this very hard. I had loved my wife and worshipped her like a goddess, and she had been a good steward for our country, making us prosper. My brother and King sent me a letter of condolence as soon as he could, and in it he also started ushering me to remarry as soon as possible, pointing out that it was my duty to marry for the continued prosper and power of the Kingdom.

This was the first time in my life that I actually have defied my elder brother and written disrespectfully and in anger to him.
It took a long time before an answer from my brother reached me. And when it did, it only reported on the happenings of the war, my letter to him was not mentioned. Nor was I arrested or in any way mistreated and I thus concluded that he had let it pass – I had gotten away with my defiance and could keep on mourning in peace.

The fall of the Lettigalians proved not to be enough to stop their existence. They retreated to the islands of Ösel, to which the King sent a regiment of Islandic mercenaries. The Lettigalians did not have any troops left and thereby the following sieges were a mere formality. Meanwhile, in mainland Baltic, the Kings troops marched north to take on the Livonians.
When in the field camp in Livonia King Erik received a bull from the Pope, in which the pope personally complimented him on his success against the heathens and his successful spreading of the Holy Word. He was in the bull called “Rex Eric Victor” and after this his nickname “Segersäll” – the victorious – spread and got stuck in people’s minds.
The war against the heathens was one long victory-trail and the name of our King was celebrated in all of Europe. But then came, as if a lightning from above, a horrible obstacle.

Upon hearing these news the King had cursed loudly and soon after retired to his quarters for contemplation. What should he do? One of his vassals was under attack, but at the same time he had the chance of his life to create a second kingdom out of the old Baltic tribes’ lands. What would he do? This was the question he asked God.

According to the story, King Erik came out the day after, black rings under his eyes and a, for every day more, untidy beard and called for the commander.
“Milord” the commander said and kneeled in front of him.
“Life is interesting soldier” King Erik said with a voice far more awake and alert than the appearance revealed. “What you one day have you are threatened to leave the next day to acquire something new. And what steps are a simple, sinful human supposed to take in such a dance?”
“I hope my King have gotten enlightened as to what to do in the dance during the night” the commander said, still kneeling.
“By my word, I truly have” said the King. “And from no one else than our Supreme Lord I have just been told what to do, and that is what I, we, will do.”
“I’m listening, milord.”

And with a decision on action and a praised crusade, as well as the death of a beloved friend and wife, continues the tale of King Erik Segersäll.
 
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Part I Erik "Segersäll" Stenkil - Chapter III

Chapter III
As if a joke by the Supreme, a bull from Rome reached King Erik soon after he had made his decision on how to counter the Norwegian attack on Värmland. The bull told that the old pope had died and now was replaced with an abbot by the name of Manasses de Gourney, a man whom ten years earlier had been establishing the Dominicans in Sweden. He had befriended the Swedish king, and King Erik could now call himself controller of the Holy Father himself.
Due to his successful crusades King Erik had gained a wide-spread reputation in Europe. He was considered a man of God, following the orders of the Lord and spreading his word. Ironically enough, the Lord’s own representative on Earth would now be considered a man of King Erik, following his orders and spreading his word.

But not only did this new relationship in between a cold kingdom in the North and the Holy Chair mean gold and green forests for King Erik – it would also lead to him getting a bigger responsibility when it came to crusades against the heathens.

After counselling the Lord and his own chancellors, King Erik had gotten to know that the Norwegians could mass more than twice as many troops as the Swedes. A war against them would be fatal, especially since more than half of the Swedish army was participating in the crusades. Värmland thus had to be left on its own. King Erik would never forgive himself for this decision, but vengeful as was his nature, he solemnly swore on the blood on his sword that he would take revenge on the Norwegians, and if not, the task would be passed on to his son when he was dining in heaven. Sweden had acquired a hereditary enemy.

The root of the war laid in an old feud in between the Yngling’s, the royal family in Norway, and the family of the Värmlandish count Hakon Ivarsson of Oppland: Oppland had been conquered as a part of this feud, and the Ivarsson’s had had to escape. They had in Sweden gotten in favour with Stenkil Ragnvaldsson, the old king, and had thus gotten the County of Värmland. The Norwegian king saw it as his right to wipe out the Ivarsson’s from the face of the Earth however and thus used his claim on them to start a war. Count Hakon fell in the lead of his soldiers in the first battle against the enemy, and he thus did not have to live through the betrayal of his King.

In the Baltic, the war raged on.
Dorpat, the last of the pagan provinces in the old lands of the Livonians, came closer to total Swedish control for every day that passed. Almost no pagan warriors remained in the old Baltic States due to the highly successful war, and King Erik’s next move was hard to predict. He had decided to decide upon that when Dorpat had fallen – that would also be the time when he started sharing his newly-won lands with the lords and nobles with him in the war.

On November 8th 1080 Dorpat fell, and on January 13th the following year Värmland was taken under the protection of the Norwegian crown, the Värmlandish rulers – or the few that were left of them – escaping to England, where they would live the rest of their lives.

In Dorpat the atmosphere was tense. Instead of celebrating the victory over the pagans with the soldiers the commanders felt ashamed that they were not able to help Värmland in its moment of need. They all swore to avenge this outrage as soon as possible.

But likewise the new lands had to be divided in between the victors. The meeting was held on Dagö on the coast of Livonia on the 1st-4th of February in the year of the Lord 1081. On the conference the following was decided:
In the document naught was remarkable but one thing – young Birger Eriksson, with the common name “Birger the Bastard” being appointed Duke of Courland and, the more remarkable, Prince Regent of the Balts.
Being a bastard 10-year-old Birger was for all future incapable of inheriting from his father, all according to the ancient laws of Western Gothia. By giving him an independent title King Erik guaranteed him a future worthy of the son of a king.

Yet another odd thing in this oddest of doings was that it was Birger and not his older fellow brother and bastard Niels that got the title. The reason for this was easy find however: young Niels had for a long time been suffering from a depression, probably caused by him being a bastard with all that follows – the taunts, the glares and the laughs.
He was instead given the Counties of Lappland and Västerbotten, forming the Duchy of Norrland, so that also his future would be saved – if he prevailed through his depression.

Clearly not satisfied with seven defeated tribes and eight new counties, and also to get some frustration out after the thing in Värmland, King Erik once again started gathering armies for an attack southwards on the Prussians. The Pope had not called off the crusade yet, and the only favour King Erik had managed to utilize from his friend the Pope was to excommunicate the current Count of Värmland, the Norwegian king’s oldest son and – as for now, former – heir to the throne.
The army would be divided into two parts – one of about fifteen hundred men led by Duke Inge and the other, of about two-thousand, by King Erik himself. He was very explicit about neither having Duke Sven of Östergötland nor Duke Erik of Uppland to lead either army and thus conquer lands for themselves. A herald from the Teutonic Order also came with the message that the Order would support the attack with three hundred and fifty knights. Inge’s army would be stationed in Kurs to provide support and to secure the supply lines whilst the royal army attacked.

The tribe of Samogitia, south of Kurland, would be first. The Samogitian chief Dovyat fought valiantly, valiantly enough for a few of the knights to start doubting whether it might not be necessary to be Christian to be a chevalier. The battle ended, logically, with the victory of King Erik, even though Chief Dovyat’s men took more than two hundred and fifty Swedish men with them.

But Samogitia fell and the province they occupied, Memel, was incorporated in King Erik’s kingdom. The fight went on towards the Tribe of the Pruthenians, and when the Swedish army reached them King Erik got to know that it was an old enemy of his leading the Pruthenian army: Njuolla of Lappland, whom had been defeated years ago. Not only did he burn with hatred against King Erik who had robbed him of his birthright, he also had two hundred men more than the King.

The battle was bloody, the bloodiest one during King Erik’s reign and the bloodiest that any grown man in the Nordic could remember. For a long time it looked as if the pagans were about to win, and if the Teutonic Knights had not been with the Swedish army it would most likely have been lost. But these knights, these battling monks, were the reason that Njuolla himself fell after two hours of battle. Without their leader the defence of the heathens loosened up, but their ferocity grew. By dusk, when the battle was settled and the Swedish troops once again were victorious – they had this far not been beaten in battle during the Swedish crusade – King Erik had lost more than six hundred men. Njuolla’s troops were annihilated however, both form desertion and from the determination of the Swedish forces to get rid of as many enemies as possible.

After the defeat of Njuolla no more resistance was encountered. King Erik himself had taken the sword of Njuolla, not as loot but to honour his old enemy who had fought so bravely. The last fort of the Pruthenians fell on the 17th of February in the year of Peace 1083. After seven years and thousands of dead King Erik proclaimed the end of the Swedish crusade: the Baltic lands were rid of heathens and enough people had died.

And with the end of a Holy War and the beginning of a long period of re-building the story of King Erik goes on.

 

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Er, forum? Is there any interest at all in this one?

One comment, at least, before new chapter is published.
 
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Please do continue...I have just starting reading, but have enjoyed it so far. I like the documents - the letter and the charter dividing the Baltic, they add a clever and unique flair to the story.
 

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Alfred Packer said:
Please do continue...I have just starting reading, but have enjoyed it so far. I like the documents - the letter and the charter dividing the Baltic, they add a clever and unique flair to the story.
A post! It will thus be updated at latest on Wednesday ;) And thank you, the documents are results of frantic copy-pasting in Photoshop which I am sadly rather incapable of using.
 

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Very well written, good style and excellent layout. I eagerly anticipate your next installment
 

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Part I Erik "Segersäll" Stenkil - Chapter IV

Chapter IV

In the beginning of the summer in the Year of Peace 1083 King Erik and the men he had contracted from Västergötland returned to their homes. It was early, just after dawn, as an alarm of voices awoke me as I lay in my room in Eriksborg. Being the steward of the Kingdom in my brother and King’s absence I had to get up fast. I looked out of the window down on the courtyard: it was stirring with people down there. As I drew my socks on a sweet voice sounded right behind me.
“Halsten dear, what is the commotion? Return to me instead, you’ll enjoy an hour next to me more than you ever will enjoy a minute with a courtier anyway.”
I could do nothing but smile and blush at her words. Ingegerd Lake was five years older than me and the stewardess at the King’s court – in fact, she had been picked for the post by me in our King’s absence, after the death of my beloved wife Alfhild.

At first I had seen her as nothing but an associate and a person with a high post in the Kingdom. I grieved for a long time after the death of Alfhild, and I saw no interest in women. It took me three years before I once again touched the bosom of a woman – and that woman was Ingegerd and no one else.

Despite her age she was fair. Her hair was long and, when she worked, often uncovered. Her eyes were as blue as the field on our Kingdom’s weapon – that upon with the lion stands rampant queue-fourché. She was neither tall nor short but of normal length, only a little shorter than my humble appearance. She walked on long legs and, to complement her astonishing feature, had child-bearing hips and a pair of breasts that yet had not succumbed to her age. And a fact was that I once again was in love.
I answered her smiling, still with my head turned towards the courtyard of the castle.
“Ingegerd, dearest: the night has been pleasurable enough for an eternity forward.” She giggled, a sound putting any guess on her age astray. “But as duty comes knocking not even the fairest of ladies – that is you, of course – can keep a righteous man from the work he is entitled and given.”

She threw one of the feather-filled pillows at me and laughed. I smiled and watched her adoringly. A wide smile dominated her face, her eyes very glittering and her cheeks were as rosy as after a long walk in the crossroad in between autumn and winter. She sat leaned towards a side, the quilt covering nothing above her knees. I walked up to her and kissed her forehead, and not until I had embraced her once more I went out of the room to meet my newly-returned brother and King.

As I walked down guilt stung me. Only four years had passed since the death of Alfhild, and my vows of celibacy and eternal sorrow had felt true and devoted. But now, as I had realized, one could not live his life full of sorrow. Alfhild would never leave my heart, but even with this, there was still place left in it. That place now belonged to Ingegerd, and I intended to bring the matter up with my brother King as soon as fate saw fit.

I met him in the Grand Hall as he entered in the lead of a following of the barons that had been present in the crusade. There was the tall and fair-haired Duke Sven Kolsson, the shorter, crooked, and rather sly-looking Count Finn of Närke, there was the wide-shouldered Duke Inge, my brother, and there was the no more than fifteen years old boy Stenkil of Oppland, courtier in the court of the newly-appointed Duke Birger and current claimholder on the title Count of Värmland. The boy had a determined and severe expression and did not say much during the whole welcome ceremony and feast.

It took as long as until evening before I could talk to my brother the King.
“So, Brother King, I see that you managed to return from the pagans with your body intact.”
“Brother Chancellor, it will take more than a few sturdy pagans in furs to depart this me head from this my body.”
“And are You sure that this appointment of Birger hath not already departed it, if not physically then reputation-wise?”
King Erik let out a small, bitter laughter, out-voiced by the alarm of the feast.
“I appoint whom I see fit, and I see the boy fit. I may have utilized Sven’s troops, but in battle he was no more significant than my left boot – it might, in case you lose it, be hard to find a good replacement for it; but battles can surely be won without it, and I would not give it more reasons to put a claim on the throne against my heirs.”

I smiled at the comparison of Duke Sven and the King’s left boot, which seemed to have trod in a pile of horse-dung judging from a small pile of dirt that lay next to it on the stone floor.
“My King, if I may ask…” I started.
“You may always ask me, only not question” he smiled, amused at his own play of words.
“It can be said as that I take back a questioning of Your judgement – I want to marry.”
“After your sturdy letter I would never dare bring that up myself. Who is the bride? Will I expect a fair-haired seventeen-year-old dancing around the court and drawing the eyes of every man, married as un-married?”
“Nay, but the aunt of the one that currently holds that position in court.”
The king laughed loudly and bellowed for more to drink. He suggested a toast for this our new agreement, and smiling, we drank.

On the 13th of August, with the blessing of my children and my King, I married Ingegerd in the castle-church at Eriksborg. When standing by the altar and for the second time in my life taking the vows of marriage, I looked up towards the arched ceiling, my gaze in the direction of the azure sky beyond it. And when doing so, I felt in my heart and soul that what I was doing was right. I would never forget Alfhild, a woman I loved more than anything else, but nor would it have made her happier seeing me decay in a web of self-pity and sorrow for the rest of my days. And with my thoughts on the two women in my life, I said “I do”.

After the wedding, at the feast that King Erik hosted, I asked him what was next in his policy. If I could have chosen I would be entangled in a loving wrestling together with Ingegerd, but that would be impossible for three more hours, until the bride-giving. I was thus doomed to discuss politics, plots and intrigue with my older brother.
“My long-term goal is to become King of the Balts,” he said casually. “And before that I might, depending on the treasury and political winds, become Duke of Livonia as well as Esthonia.”
What do you answer to that?
“Why not now?” was the best I could achieve.
He smiled.
“Because I’ve just committed a foul crime towards any form of economical thinking by hosting this wedding – it delays my plans for months and months to come. But as soon as the ducats are there, I will be a king with two crowns, believe me on my word.”

The ducats arrived in form of a Papal gift just two months later, and so, in the newly-built castle-church in Njuollaborg in Marienburg in Southern Prussia – that had been named so after the old Chief Njuolla of Lappland, a commander and enemy that King Erik had great respect for, despite of his paganism – King Erik “Segersäll” Stenkil of Sweden could add the title King of the Balts to his curriculum vitae.

And with this new royal title the Coat-of-Arms of our proud Kingdom was reshaped into a slip shield with the golden lion of our Kingdom on the left half, and the weapon of the Balts on the right. King Erik was now Ericus Rex Sveorum, Gothaerum et Balticarum.

Around this time his oldest daughter and legitimate child, Gyrid, finished her education. She was a fair lady already at the age of sixteen, a true replication of her beautiful mother. She was ecclesiastically schooled and would make a very fine diplomat – or for that part, spy mistress – one day. She was married away to a certain Heinrich von Rostock, the son of a merchant and courtier in the court of the Count of Rugen.
The Kingdom was in a period of re-building and –breeding to replace all men that had fallen in the Holy War. King Erik, being a man of action and force, saw this as incredibly dull and spent most of his time with hunting or holding feasts. He also excommunicated the Count of Skåne and laid claim on the Count of Halland. You can take the knight out of war, but never the reverse – all of these actions were preparations for future wars, and a war against Norway was to wait as soon as their alliance with Denmark, for one reason or the other had expired.
But warrior-king as he was he of course did not remain entirely peaceful. He, in a short war without much drama, invaded the County of Zhmud, thus creating the title of Duke of Samogitia for himself.

---​

From the diary of Margaret Atheling Stenkil, Queen of Sweden and the Balts, Duchess of Västergötland and Småland, countess of Västergötland, Marienburg, Sambia and Livs.

Thus endeth the fourth chapter.
 

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Poor Halsten...never got to enjoy the peace - or the new wife. A victim, perhaps, of the Great Man theory? (or maybe the Great Man theory I just made up - reflecting on Patton, Huey Long and people like that)

Also, I like the graphics mod you are running - and the sheild for the new kingdom.
 

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Alfred Packer said:
Poor Halsten...never got to enjoy the peace - or the new wife. A victim, perhaps, of the Great Man theory? (or maybe the Great Man theory I just made up - reflecting on Patton, Huey Long and people like that)

Also, I like the graphics mod you are running - and the sheild for the new kingdom.
Quite a plot-twist, ey?

Thank you. I'm actually having small parts of a whole bunch of graphics mods installed... In fact, I have a hard time keeping track of what is from which mod by now. :p And yes, I think that the CoA of the kingdom will change quite much as the game proceeds. We'll have to see. ;)

(Good work on the last Crovan-post by the way!)
 

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Damned excellent tale. Really engrossing stuff. Look forward to more.
 

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(Praetorian) said:
Damned excellent tale. Really engrossing stuff. Look forward to more.
Thank you very much :)

I'll have you all an update for the evening, probably. With a few new graphic features. ;)

Map for Chapter 1 up now. I think I will skip drawing the maps for all of the chapters, and just start with the next chapter now.

Any comments on it?
 
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