• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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BootOnFace

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Very nice. I just love the idea of a hands-off AAR.
 

kaeim

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Norway's dominance of Finland and upper Scandanavia is to be expected, in pretty much all my games this occurs. However, give it a few dozen years and I wager we'll see the complete collapse of Norway, followed by Denmark and Sweden picking up various lands for themselves.
 

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I just want to say that this is the AAR I was waiting for.
 

magritte2

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ALL IN THE FAMILY? THE RISE OF RUS, 1069-1089

Sometimes it wasn’t easy being a member of a great family. For another man than Vesvolod, being Duke of Rostov and Pereyaslavl might seem like great fortune indeed, despite the irritating fact of the separation of the two duchies by his brother Sviatoslov. But in a family where his brothers and nephews were Dukes and his sisters Queens, how could he not be infuriated when the demesnes of his brothers Viacheslav and Vladimir had been divided so unfairly after they died childless.

The Rurikovich family in 1077:

Rurikovich_1077.jpg


But before he could even think of making demands of his powerful brothers, he needed more men, more money and more land. To this end, he went to war with the petty pagan chiefs who roamed the grasslands to the south, capturing Burtasy, Merya and Mordva in the summers of 1069 and 1070. A few years later he attacked Sagak Romanov, a chieftain of the pagans in the northern forests and drove him from his lands.

In 1075, not long after his brother Sviatoslav’s accident, if such it was, he felt the time was right to strike. Vesvolod’s brother Sviatoslav’s wide lands had been divided among his three sons. Determined to gain enough land to make his realm contiguous, he demanded the duchies of Ryazan, Smolensk and Chernigov, from his nephews Gleb II and Oleg.

The war was not a complete success, but he was able to gain Ryazan and enough recognition for his growing power that Ioannes VIII, the ecumenical patriarch, agreed to travel to Uglich and anoint him King of all Rus in 1079. He had no real hope that his family would recognize his authority, but everyone agreed that his son, Vladimir, was brilliant. He had made him ruler of the newly erected Duchy of Cheremisa, and had been amazed by how successfully he had developed his demesne. Perhaps he would be the one to unite the vast Rurikovich lands.

Rus in 1080:

Rus_1080.jpg


He did not have much opportunity to enjoy his new position before he was off on campaign again, but such was the life of a warrior King. Shortly after the coronation, the wild Cuman began riding into his lands. Khan Saru Terteroba was the terror of the southern plains, and a much more dangerous opponent than the petty chieftains he had faced in the past. Hoping for a united front against the pagans, he implored all his family members to join with him in defending the Christian lands. But perhaps they were miffed by his claiming a higher title, for the response was tepid. Only his nephew, Rostislav, Count of Korchev, and his cousin, Vseslav, Duke of Vitebsk and Polotsk joined him and the war was a fierce and difficult one.

The results on the battlefield during the long years of war in the 1080’s. He succeeded in subjugating some of Khan Saru’s allies, capturing Syriane and Kerzhenets, but was forced after a bitter defeat at Burtasy in 1084 to cede several southern provinces to the Khan.

That was not, however, the greatest loss suffered in the war. His son Vladimir was maimed in the battle of Burtasy and never recovered, dying bedridden and incapable in 1086. When Vesvolod died in 1089, he did not pass his kingdom onto his beloved son, but to his grandson, Alexandr. He could only pray that Alexandr would grow up strong enough to cement the primacy of his branch of the family


Thanks for all the encouraging comments!
 
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magritte2

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THE CHARSIANON CRISIS AND THE SICILIAN CRUSADE, 1117-1130

When Doux Maximos Phokas rebelled against the Emperor, it did not appear to be an event that would have far-ranging consequences. The Basileus Nikolaos had died of an infected wound incurred during a similar rebellion, and his son, Michael VIII was still a child. It was not unusual for the nobility to challenge their overlords during regency periods.

Eastern Mediterranean in 1122:

Fatimid_1122.jpg


But Charsianon was a border region in central Anatolia, and the nearby sheikhdoms were weakly controlled by Fatimid authority at that time. The Emir of Armenia Minor and Kartli, Ismail had rebelled against his nephew, Caliph Bashir and been thrown in prison, while Emir Adnan Abuhairyad was ancient. Under the circumstances, it was not surprising that the young Sheikh Leon Taronites of Melitene and Coloneia, whose father had sworn fealty to the Fatimids and raised him as a muslim, would declare a holy war to expand Shiite power in Anatolia when a small independent Duchy arose on his borders. He was quickly joined by his allies, Sheikh Nasir of Lykandos and Sheikh Abdullah of Aedana. By 1121, the war of Charsianon independence had become a contest between the forces of the Emperor and the sheikhs.

It was this conflict that finally drew the attention of the Fatimid Caliph. Bashir was not be nature a particularly pious or valorous man. He was an affable man, a committed sybarite, and his most admired trait was the extravagant feasts he presided over in Cairo. His friend and marshal, the Wali Musa Abdullahid of Helwan was no paragon of virtue either, being notorious for his scandalous behavior with harlots and his drunkenness. But Musa was also ambitious, and drink had not dulled his military mind. Seeing opportunity, he persuaded Bashir to commit to a Jihad for Anatolia. With Musa’s leadership, it did not tak long before the Fatimids were once again driving the Romans back across Asia Minor toward the Bosporus. Michael VIII was forced to concede defeat and ceded still more territory to the Fatimids in 1126.

The Fatimid Jihad raised alarm in Rome once again. The Fatimids had been relatively quiet for the past thirty-five years but Benedict X still feared them in his bones, having barely escaped the Holy land with his life as a young Pope. But he could not let his flock, even schismatics like those Easterners, be conquered without some sort of response. He did not dare try for Jerusalem again, but perhaps an easier target, closer to home would be practicable, especially if he could find the right leader. And he thought he knew just the man.

Wulfnoth Godwinson had been only a boy when he had come south with the crusade thirty years ago, and his Chancellor had forbidden him to follow them to the Holy Land. But the Saxon King was a man now, a seasoned warrior who had brought most of England under his rulership in the campaigns of 1109-1117. He had a reputation for piety as well as bravery, having taken a vow of celibacy after his wife died, despite the temptation of his new teenage wife, the daughter of the defeated Duke of Northumberland.


England in 1117:

England_1117.jpg


And so Benedict X implored Wulfnoth to return to Italy and drive the Fatimids from its lands. Once again, though perhaps with less enthusiasm and more fear than the first time, the myriad peoples of Europe brought their armies together for a great war against the heathen. But this time they were victorious, and the Caliph accepted that his possessions in Italy and Sicily were gone less than two years after the Crusade was called.

Eastern Mediterranean in 1129:

Fatimid_1129.jpg


It was not the glorious march into Jerusalem that Benedict had dreamed of as a young man, but it was a victory, and thousands of Christians were freed from the yoke of their Mohammedan masters. Finally, Christendom had proven that they could pull together to drive off the Muslims and that the Fatimids could be beaten on the battlefield.

As to Charsianon, after Doux Maximos’ death in 1130, his daughter Parthena inherited his title. Now facing a Sunni Jihad called by some of the vassals of the Seljuks, she gave up on her father’s dream of an independent land on the Anatolian plateau and made peace with Michael VIII, agreeing to marry him. But would the Empire’s might be enough to hold back the Muslims in the East?
 

kaeim

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The Byzantine Empire is in a great deal of trouble if it doesn't get its act together soon. The Fatimids look like they're going to become the dominant power in the Middle East, which bodes ill for their Sunni neighbours, as fractured as they appear. Could be that within 50 years, we'll see the Fatimids spread across the whole of Africa and the Middle East
 

magritte2

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Well...let's just say that Crusader Kings 2 isn't that predictable. Much will change over the next few decades.
 
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magritte2

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The Return of Al-Andalus, 1114-1133

Rashid Abbadid (1066-1114) had been proclaimed Sultan of Al-Andalus in 1099, but in the chaotic years that followed his death in battle, it must have seemed a delusion of grandeur. The son who succeeded him, Ahmad was ill-equipped to revive the sultanate. He became increasingly reclusive during his reign, which was attributed by some to shyness over his harelip, but there were darker rumors. When he fell from the parapet of the Alcazar in Sevilla in 1118, it was almost a relief. Despite suspicion that he might have had a hand in his brother’s death, most in the sultanate preferred Muhammad IV, and there was little controversy about his succession. Unfortunately, he died in a hunting accident only two years later.

Mohammad IV’s death left seven year old son, Ayyub, as the heir apparent touching off an immediate succession crisis. The Emirs Abu-al-Malik Gharnatid of Portucale and the Yahya II of Algarve, along with a number of sheikhs, argued that the Sultanate needed a man to rule. They sought to place Muhammad’s 28-year-old brother Fadl on the throne. He was actually Rashid's eldest son, but had not been favored, long viewed as a bad seed spawned by his disgraced mother who was executed in 1093.

But the Emirs Fath Balansiid of Seville and Yahaf Hakamid of Toledo backed the child, and since their forces were nearer the capital, it was their will that prevailed. Fadl fled to Porto and his allies made plans for war. The Sultanate was in shambles.


Al Andalus in 1122:
Abbadid_1122.jpg


During the war, the young Sultan mysteriously drowned in the Alcazar fountain. Fath and Yahaf immediately had his younger brother Abbas elevated to the throne. Peace overtures were made, with the suggestion that all would be forgiven, but the rebels were no more impressed by this child than the other. In time, they prevailed, and Fadl was proclaimed Sultan in 1126, although the young Abbas was allowed to remain Emir of Cordoba. The Sultanate was reunited.

Al Andalus in 1127:
Abbadid_1127.jpg


Two years later, dreaming of bringing back the golden age of the Umayyads, Fadl declared a holy war on Castille, the most powerful of the Christian Kingdoms in Spain, but he had been hoping for help from Emir Raf Aftasid of Beja and Leon. Instead, the Aftasids began squabbling among themselves and Fadl found himself unable to bring Castille down by himself.

Undeterred by his failure, he turned his attention south to where the Almoravids had fallen into civil war. Taking advantage of the situation, Fadl claimed Granada for himself, capturing it in 1133. Though some in his court despised him for fighting his fellow Sunnis while there were infidels south of the Pyrenees, he was a patient man, and he had his own reasons for seeking Granada. The Umayyads had been content to rule from Cordoba on the Guadalqivir plains but those had been different times and he wanted a fortress capital that could withstand a long siege. He was not so afraid of Castille, Aragon or Navarra, even in combination, but a vassal of King Philippe Capet the Wicked had inherited some holdings in northern Iberia. He worried that the French King might have designs on expanding his holdings south of the Pyrenees, and he was not to be trifled with.

Having shown that he was willing to go to war against other Muslims for his right to rule Al Andalus had another benefit. Emir Raf had fallen in battle and been succeeded by his 5-year-old son, Rasiq. Knowing a boy emir had little chance of standing alone, his counselors had wisely agreed to bow to Fadl’s authority in 1134. Fadl now ruled the strongest state that Iberia had seen since the collapse of Caliphate of Cordoba a century ago.

Al Andalus in 1134:
Abbadid_1134.jpg
 
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magritte2

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THE PECHENEG CAMPAIGN AND THE WAR OF THE WOMEN, (1121-1146)

In 1121, the Kingdom of Rus declared war on the Pechenegs, seeking to gain access to the Black Sea, and the rich trade controlled by Constantinople. The war was going well, but young King Vladimir (1107-1123), who had always been a sickly child, fell ill with a fever and died, touching off a succession crisis.

Rus in 1122:
Rus_1122.jpg


The ensuing war would last more than twenty years and became known as the “War of the Women” because it began in large part due to the enmity between three women. The first of these was Vladimir’s great aunt Tatyana Vladomirovna, who was his legal successor. But the newly anointed Queen Tatyana had no experience in ruling so much as a barony, and was merely the wife of Mstislav Radoslavavich of Zubtsov, a courtier who served as spymaster in the Duchy of Yaroslavl.

Chief among those who rejected Tatyana’s claim to the throne were Gorislava Sudamantaitis, Duchess of Yaroslav, her husband’s liege, and daughter of Tatyana’s father’s half-sister—though there was no Rurikovich blood in her veins. She argued that the throne should go instead to Count Domaslav Rurikovich of Kolomna, son of the third woman, Duchess Liubiava of Vladimir. Liubiava had been close to the young King, having served as his mentor for many years, and claimed that it had been his wish that the throne go to his distant cousin Domaslav, not to Tatyana, whom he scarcely knew. These two women led a coalition of dukes and counts, some of whom were Rurikovich’s who were infuriated by the idea that the Kingdom might pass to the son of an obscure courtier after Tatyana’s death, while others thought a woman unsuitable to rule. Although Tatyana had an extensive demesne and her own supporters, circumstances did not appear to favor the Queen, especially after her brother-in-law, Oleg, Duke of Cheremisa was captured in battle by Duchess Liubiava’s forces.


Rus in 1127:
Rus_1127.jpg


But Tatyana, though humble and retiring at feasts and in court, proved more fierce as a leader than anyone expected. She forced the Pechenegs to accept peace, freeing her to fight her rivals. She commissioned a suit of armor for her use and rode into battle with her men, despite being a woman of advancing years, and showed a surprising aptitude for directing calvary in flanking tactics. The war dragged on, season after season, with neither side able to gain a decisive edge.

This looked about to change when in 1133, Khagan Saru II, ruler of the Cuman Empire that dominated the steppes, made war on Rus, and the future looked grim for the war-weakened Kingdom. Two years later, the High Chief of the Pechenegs followed suit, hoping for revenge for the humiliating peace of ten years before.

Ironically, the pagan onslaught may have ended up saving Tatyana’s reign. The sight of the Cuman riding out of the steppes terrified the independent Russian Dukes of Novgorod, Vitebsk, Galich and Chernigov. Fearing that the Cuman would soon overrun both Tatyana and her rebellious vassals, they decided their best hope was to side with Tatyana to beat back the pagans so that the Kingdom could be unified. With the fresh troops from the other Dukes, as well as a serious of rebellions among the Cuman, the pagans were beaten in 1137-1138. And as the years went past, the rebels gradually died off through battle and old age, their sons did not always want to continue the war, Liubiava grew old and senile. Gorislava, seeing her plans fall apart, drifted into an alcoholic haze.

It took another eight years, but ultimately, Queen Tatyana, now 70 years old, was the undisputed ruler of Rus. Most of the formerly independent Dukes decided that the Cuman onslaught had proven that they needed to be united, agreed to swear fealty to her. The foolishness of trying to stand alone was underlined by the desperate war the Duke of Novgorod fought against Sweden. Though a few provinces were lost to the pagans, and twenty years of war had laid waste to the lands and bankrupted the nobles, Rus appeared emerge stronger than ever.


Rus in 1148:
Rus_1148.jpg
 

BootOnFace

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I love how the muslims and russia seem to be doing the best. Maybe the mongols won't do so well after all?
 

magritte2

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The Mongols are a ways away, but what really strikes me about this game thus far is the strength of Cuman. Did they get beefed up in 1.06? I'm curious how a strong Tengri Khanate will affect the Mongols when they come. I decided before proceeding with details, that I would give some broad overview shots of the world, as of 1143. I know I've given short shrift to central Europe, but it's been kind of boring. The most interesting things that have happened has been a lot of break-away Italians from the HRE (Genoa is particularly strong) and a couple of big inheritances (A Trpimirovic inherited a big chunk of Hungary and a Premyslid Poland). Here is the dynasty picture as of 1143:

Dynasties_1143.jpg


I looked at the cultural picture but it hasn't changed enough to be of much interest. The relgions aren't dramatically different from 1066, but the Romuvans are vanishing, there's some Muslim heresies in the East and the Shiites have expanded in Asia minor.


Religions_1143.jpg


Finally, I made a list of the twenty most powerful rulers (ranked by realm size). Interesting to see how powerful the Dukes of Burgundy have become. That doesn't bode well for France's stability, I wouldn't think.


1. Kaiser Gerhard von Julichgau, Holy Roman Emperor 391
2. Michael VIII (the Great) Doukas, Basileus of Byzantinum 222
3. Ramazan (the Great) Toganoghlu Seljuk, Sultan of Persia 217
4. Philippe II (the Wicked) Capet, King of France 201
5. Musa II ibn Bashir Fatimid, Caliph of Egypt 198
6. Fadl ibn Rashid Abbadid, Sultan of Andalusia 122
7. Godwin II of Godwin, King of England 114
8. Saru (the Great) Terteroba, Khan of Cumania 103
9. Hugues III de Bourgogne, Duke of Burgundy 72 (Vassal of France)
10. Tatyana Vladimirovna Rurikovich, Queen of Rus 70
11. Zdik Premyslid, King of Bohemia 69
12. Maria Arnvidsdatter Hagalin, Queen of Norway 60
13. Fath ibn Khidr Hammadid, Sultan of Africa 58
14. Hakan III Bosson af Stenkil, King of Sweden 51
15. Umar II ibn Umar Almoravid, Sultan of Morocco 47
16. Erszebet Kornelsdatter Arpad, Queen of Denmark 47
17. Ali II ibn Ali Uqaylid, Emir of Mosul 44
18. Neil a Muirebe (the Bewitched), King of Scotland 44
19. Tekin Sinanoghlu Ghaznavid, Beylerbeylik of Birjand 42 (Vassal of Persia)
20. Ferzad kure Murad Seljuk, Emir of Hormuz 41
 

Wallienator

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Burgundy getting strong, well you in for a 100 years war with england being the historical burgundy :p?
 

Machiavellian

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Very good concept and well executed. I look forward to reading more. Is Bohemia, despite being a Kingdom, still part of the HRE and a vassal to the Kaiser or are they independent?
 

kaeim

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Yeah, the Cuman always end up being around that level early on, usually before the Mongols arrive, you'll see a standoff between the Rus and Cumans, both of them too close in strongness for either to be victorious over the other. Unfortunately, that does nothing to help them once the Mongols arrive.
 

magritte2

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@Machiavellian, Bohemia is independent. I'm not actually sure why he's tagged as Bohemia rather than Poland (culture?) because he was King of Poland first. He actually inherited the Kingdom of Bohemia from the previous Kaiser (Agnatic seniority succession), but doesn't appear to have picked up any of the other lands or vassals with it.
 

Zynnw

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I love the concept and I've enjoyed the AAR so far. Keep on going!