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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TheButterflyComposer

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TBC, it was killing my reindeer. Don't you like Yule presents from the Great Hunter?
I prefer Secret alive. Reindeer are too weak. Polar Bears should be worshipped instead.
 
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Chapter XVIII - Victory and Death New

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Chapter XVIII - Victory and Death (1233-1239)

With the death of Badshah Umar, the realm and the Egyptian war passed to his son Abu-Bakr. A man of 37 who had already made quite the name for himself. Unfortunately, this reputation was not exactly a positive one. Widely renowned as ‘The Traitor’ due to his propensity to flee the field of battle leaving commanders and men to do the dirty work, Abu-Bakr hadn’t entirely endeared himself to his subjects. But was not the full extent of Abu-Bakr’s poor reputation. The former Emir of Castile-turned Badshah was also widely known to be a Shia practitioner. Unlike his father who proved more than capable of keeping his true loyalties hidden, Abu-Bakr couldn’t help but blurt out his allegiance to Ali whenever a religious conversation was struck. And if this wasn’t enough a series of rumours regarding the Badshah’s taste in women or lack thereof had begun to spread around the court.

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Naturally, a man of this status inheriting the Hayyid Empire didn’t exactly go down well with the vassals of the realm. Emirs lined up to support greater decentralisation or even suggest alternative candidates. If Abu-Bakr was to retain his position he would have to make good on his father's promise to reclaim Egypt. Only then would the masses and nobles accept him as their overlord.

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Before setting out on campaign however, Abu-Bakr was invited to conduct a secret ceremony for the Party of Ali. Umar’s death had worried a great number of the society’s members leading them to quit the organisation. Having taken over his father’s position as head of the secret society it was his duty to ensure that the Shia faithful maintain their united front. Unfortunately, Abu-Bakr’s leadership was not something a number of members could abide by. Everybody and their horse knew the Badshah was Shia, there was no hiding it. How could he be in charge of a secret organisation when everybody knew his secret, he could just as easily divulge the group itself! Despite Umar’s best attempts, he could not prevent his group from growing smaller. The Party of Ali was now a shadow of its former self.

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With his failure to unite the Shia of Andalusia, Abu-Bakr set out to Tripoli to defend the province from the Egyptians. Huge numbers of troops gathered on both sides. One wrong move could be the difference between victory and defeat. For now the Hayyids would wait for an opening.

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That opportunity soon came at Syrte as the Egyptians were separated from their allies. Abu-Bakr ordered a direct attack from two different flanks.

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The two sides met at As Sidr and whilst the Hayyids emerged victorious this would be but the first battle in a long and arduous struggle. A struggle which Abu-Bakr would not be directly involved in as once again he left the fighting to his generals and soldiers whilst he watched on at the sidelines.

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Pressing their advantage the Hayyids hit the Egyptian’s Senoussi allies at Qaryat Bishr. Disorganised and without any clear leadership on the battlefield the Senoussi were sent packing. So far so good.

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But soon news came in from Andalusia. It seemed a Jerusalemite army had managed to sneak by the Hayyids and was now laying siege to Córdoba. The court was now requesting aid. But not wanting to abandon his momentum in Africa (and also wanting to get one over his doubters back at court) Abu-Bakr refused to relieve the siege. The capital would have to wait. Egypt comes first.

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Soon the remaining Egyptian army in Tripolitania was put to the sword and the Hayyids could set about retaking the province. Great news soon reached the Hayyid armies as the King of Egypt Faramond had dropped dead from the Great Pox. News of the King’s death greatly bolstered the morale of the men who were in much need of rousing now they knew Abu-Bakr would be their commander and ruler.

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Having pushed the Egyptians out of Tripolitania the Hayyid armies advanced into Cyrenaica, clearing out another sizable opposing army in the process.

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However, all the time out on campaign had not done the Badshah much good. This had been his first and only major foray overseas and that Abu-Bakr had come a cropper of a horrible disease wasn’t exactly a major surprise to many. The Badshah wasn’t used to the harsh African climate, but after spending almost two days straight on the privy Abu-Bakr decided to pack up and head back to Andalusia with one of his armies. His generals would be placed in charge of the continuing campaign.

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Heading back home by sea with just under 8,000 troops Abu-Bakr’s army returned to Córdoba only to find the province abandoned by the Jerusalemites and only the outer settlements controlled by a token occupation force. It did not take long for the capital to return into Hayyid hands.

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Back in a more comfortable environment, the Badshah was able to pay a visit to the Court Physician Amr who identified Abu-Bakr had come down with quite a nasty case of dysentery. The cure? Swallowing a live fish. Amr being the medical expert he was, the fish naturally got to work and soon the Badshah was feeling as right as rain.

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Yet, return to the frontlines Abu-Bakr did not. The lavish palace of Córdoba proved too cosy to abandon for the dirty army encampments. More than a few raised an eye at Abu-Bakr’s non-committal nature to a war he hoped would salvage his own reputation. This in addition to the Badshah’s refusal to immediately lift the siege on the capital was making already aggrieved courtiers and subjects enraged. The wheels were set in motion behind the scenes…

Meanwhile back in Egypt the remaining forces had been forced into a retreat thanks to Abu-Bakr’s journey to Andalusia. Their gains in Cyrenaica had been completely reversed, whilst a new Egyptian army 12,000 strong was marching upon Tripolitania.

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Fortunately, whilst Abu-Bakr may not have returned from Córdoba, the rest of his army did. Under the command of Commander Galind the newly reunited Hayyid army hit the Egyptians at Syrte pushing the enemy back into their own lands. The constant back-and-forth fighting had taken its toll on the Egyptians. Surely the war was winding down? Victory would soon be at hand.

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But it was a victory that Abu-Bakr would not see. Fate, or rather the Badshah’s own courtiers and vassals had decided he needed to depart the world. Bitten by a venomous viper whilst sleeping. How tragic. With no culprit to be found, or rather, nobody interested enough in finding the one responsible, the Badshah’s death was put down as an accident. With the death of Abu-Bakr the Party of Ali soon found itself collapsing. The Badshah’s 13-year-old heir was not of age to personally rule and had no knowledge of the group. The Party of Ali was soon exposed after the would-be assassins searched the Badshah’s personal quarters. The members of the Shia faithful now found themselves exiled and forced underground once more.

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With the death of Abu-Bakr the vassals of the realm had ensured that the victory in the Egyptian campaign would not be accredited to their much-loathed ruler. This was their victory. The Hayyid soldiers and commanders had won this war, not their slothful, envious, Shia ruler. His heir Abu-Bakr II was not of age to gain the accolade either. And whilst much suspicion surrounded the young ruler, at least for now, there was nothing to suggest he would be anything like his father.

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Egypt was under Hayyid control. The Christians had been turned back. But not all was well in the Hayyid Empire. Having deposed their ruler with such ease, would the vassals of the realm be so easy to fall in line for their next ruler?

Map of the known world circa 1239:
map template.png
 
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Egypt was under Hayyid control. The Christians had been turned back. But not all was well in the Hayyid Empire. Having deposed their ruler with such ease, would the vassals of the realm be so easy to fall in line for their next ruler?
A dangerous precendent, indeed.
 
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Midnite Duke

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The Egyptian conquest was a graveyard of kings as the starting participants lay in eternal rest and children ruled both sides at the end. Did you know of the murder plot or was the death a surprise?
 

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The Egyptian conquest was a graveyard of kings as the starting participants lay in eternal rest and children ruled both sides at the end. Did you know of the murder plot or was the death a surprise?
It caught me completely off guard, though that was perhaps because I was too focused on the war.
 
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A great victory and a "great" murder ...
 
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Well, Urraca is manipulative...

Also, looks like the Shia are doing badly...

It looks like the vassals might yet break the Empire.

I doubt Egypt can be held...
 
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Chapter XIX - The Calm Before the Storm New

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Act Title card.png

Chapter XIX - The Calm Before the Storm (1239-1249)

With the passing of Abu-Bakr, the realm once again entered a regency. It was Emir Amr of Seville who would take the helm of the Hayyid Empire whilst its 13-year-old ruler came of age. The realm itself was teetering on the edge of instability. Plots were everywhere whilst Christian vassals left over from the recent religious conquests schemed against the crown.

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Clemency was issued for those Christian rulers who would convert to Islam, embracing the one true Sunni faith. The time of secret Shia dominance over the affairs of state was over.

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Schemes were broken up and an external ally was found as Abu-Bakr II was betrothed to a relative of the new Erdemid Sultan who had recently overthrown the Seljuk dynasty.

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Yet, Amr’s skilful statesmanship proved insufficient to quell all of the demands of the Badshah’s subjects. Faced with a major military uprising, the regent relented on a number of issues, the most notable being the empowerment of the Grand Council. No longer would the Badshah rule with near-absolute authority. Now the council would govern all manner of realm affairs. A slow process of decentralisation had taken hold.

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In spite of all this instability, including a brief pneumonia scare, Abu-Bakr II proved able to take the throne in 1241. Ultimately, the Badshah had proved rather unremarkable in his studies; outside of his religious education for which he had shown considerable devotion, so much so that the young man had already earned the moniker ‘the Holy’. The court educators had worked tirelessly to mould their ruler into a loyal and pious Sunni given his late father’s Shia leanings.

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This loyalty would soon be tested when the remnants of the Party of Ali re-emerged in an attempt to sway the Badshah to their ways. A Shia Koran was left on Abu-Bakr’s bed with a note to read the tome. Having been warned of the devilish Shia ways in his education Abu-Bakr resorted to burying the book within the Palace gardens so that no-one may ever find it again.

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In a display of personal faith and devotion, the Badshah also organised a personal pilgrimage to Mecca to fulfil one of the pillars of Islam. Whilst within the city Abu-Bakr was also able to take some time to study some of the older and more intricate scriptures of the Koran.

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Armed with the new knowledge cultivated on his religious journey Abu-Bakr returned to court a more learned man. Thanks to the Badshah’s studies a new wave of clerical dogmatism had taken hold at court as the clergy of the realm embraced the Ash’ari school of theology. Inspired by this new wave of religious reverence plans were put forward to add a school of Theology onto the University of Córdoba.

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In the international sphere, a number of new events were taking shape. Another revolt within the Byzantine empire. Whilst instability may be gripping the Romans for now, their recent expansion into Syria and Mesopotamia was concerning. A clash between the Hayyids and Byzantines was only a matter of time at this point.

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In the Dual Monarchy, an invasion led by an Occitan adventurer had succeeded in freeing the Kingdom of Aquitaine from the grip of the Franco-English. Whether the realm could maintain its independence though remained to be seen.

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In Britain however, a new King had been crowned. Faced with predatory neighbours in both Norway and the Dual Monarchy, the remaining independent Scottish nobles had banded together to elect the Earl of Moray as their new High King. Though highly decentralised, it was hoped that a re-united Scottish realm could fend off would-be invaders. Though the news of a reunited Scotland did not go down well in Norway. Seeing the realm as rightfully his through the ownership of Galloway and much of the Isles, Svein III of Norway declared himself rightful ruler of the Scots and made his intention to conquer the upstart kingdom abundantly clear.

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But further ashore news reached the great council that one of Umar’s sons and pretender to the throne Wannaqo was gathering mercenaries in an attempt to take the Hayyid crown by force. The son of Urraca was being sponsored by his mother to make a push for the crown. The scheming Jezebel wanted all the power to herself and her son would be just the puppet she needed! But Abu-Bakr did not want to strike out at his vassal. Civil War was the last thing he wanted and direct confrontation with Wannaqo's host could be costly. Not wanting to wait for the Prince to arrive with his host an assassination attempt was planned. Soon Wannaqo would find himself blasted into a thousand tiny pieces via manure explosion! A careful eye would have to be placed over Urraca, no doubt she would be out for blood now that he son had perished.

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But soon another threat was approaching. Something far more menacing. A small, rather unassuming letter arrived on the desk of the Grand Vizier one morning. Initially, it didn’t seem like much, but once the contents were read aloud at the council meeting the mood soon dropped. The letter was an offer of aid, surely something to be enthused about? But it was what this ally was aiding against that was most concerning. It seemed the Christian Pope had declared his intention to launch a crusade. And Hayyid Egypt was the target. Soon more of these letters started to pour in as Muslim rulers from across the land offered their support to the Hayyids. Dark times were ahead...

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Even the Almoravids threw their lot behind Abu-Bakr II. But as the Muslim alliance grew in strength, so did the Christians.

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The stress of the oncoming Christian invasion was taking its toll on the young Hayyid ruler, but fortunately, the Badshah did have something to cling to. Recognising her husband’s struggles, Empress Šepal had been spending more and more time with her husband providing some much-needed support.

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Furthermore, an heir had been born to Abu-Bakr II named Wannaqo. Hopefully, this one would not die in a similarly explosive manner.

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Intelligence suggested the Crusade would begin in April of 1250. Abu-Bakr and the council would need to spend the immediate future planning the logistics and strategy of the war effort. No expense would be spared in the defence of the realm. Military levies were raised in anticipation of the oncoming Christian assault whilst mercenary bands and the Bektashi Order were contracted to aid in the defence of Islam. A storm was coming and this would be the Hayyid’s greatest challenge yet...

ck2_30.png
 
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HistoryDude

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This Crusade is concerning...

I wonder if Byzantium will take advantage of the distraction?
 
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Well at least your fellow Muslims are presenting something of a united front against this approaching Christian storm
 
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The Treaty of Moray and the new King of Scotland

For almost two centuries the lands of Scotland had suffered at the hands of foreign invaders. The Norwegians, English, and Normans had all eyed the lands beyond Hadrian's Wall as unstable and ripe for the taking. The feuding clans, long suspicious of limits to their ancient authority would never accept a strong and powerful monarch stripping away their rights and centralising the realm. And yet it was this exact attitude which led to the collapse of the old Scottish Kingdom.

In 1083 the English and Norwegians came north, led by their new Nordic King Harald Hardrada. The might of the English armies crushed all beneath them and soon much of the Lowlands had been put to the sword. Though the Highlands continued to stand strong, bitter political differences between the major clans laid waste to any attempt to resist the invader. Scotland was forced into a brutal peace agreement with the remaining realm tearing itself apart at the seams in the ensuring peace.


Contemporary depiction of the Scottish civil wars which followed the
English invasion


Lothian, Teviotdale and Strathearn were given to the English whilst Norway gained yet more of the coast. Over the next few years, the remaining vassals and clans rebelled against King Malcolm IV leading to his abdication and the collapse of a united Scottish Kingdom. With no agreement as to his successor, the remaining lands fell into ruin as independent Counts and Dukes acted with no higher authority. Many would inevitably fall prey to the expansionist realms around them.

For years this situation continued unabated as Norway and the Dual Monarchy expanded their reach in Britain. Only in the mid 13th century did the Scots realise what must be done. With the few remaining Scots realms recognising the need to maintain their independence, the clans finally committed to put aside their differences and work in the defence of their realm. A Great Council was organised in Moray.


Romanticised depiction of the Great Council of Moray

Seeing the situation before them as Norway controlled almost the entire Scottish western coast, whilst the Anglo-French drove further and further north, a united Scottish Kingdom would be the only way to resist further foreign encroachment. Though considerable differences remained and certain ancient grievances could never be solved, an agreement in principle was reached.

A united Scottish Kingdom would be reformed, albeit a decentralised one in which the vassals of the realm exerted a great degree of autonomy. In recognition of his position as the most powerful Scottish ruler, the Earl of Moray Gilpatrick a Muirebe was elected as High King. Gilpatrick’s claim was further strengthened via his descendance from Kings Macbeth and Lulach who had ruled Scotland from 1040 to 1058.

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The remaining vassals, the Earls of Gowrie, Fife, and Buchan all agreed to recognise their new overlord and pledged to aid in the defence of the Scottish lands and the reclamation of their lost territories.

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The news of a newly reunited Scottish Kingdom did not go down too well with the rulers of Norway and the Dual Monarchy. Both refused to recognise the new ruler of Alba. The King of Norway Svein III went as far as to declare himself rightful ruler of Scotland given the number of territories he held within the region.

As for the King of France and England Scottish unity had brought with it a different sort of problem. Internal revolts. Buoyed by this new sense of Scottish independence and identity, peasants and petty nobles rose up across the Scottish holdings of the Dual Monarchy, hoping to reunite with their mother country. It would not be long before King Gilpatrick signalled his intent to aid these rebels reclaiming the long lost Scottish territories.

Emboldened by the revolts to the north a number of English and Anglo-Saxon vassals also rose up in arms in an attempt to win independence from Paris.

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The re-emergence of a united Scottish Kingdom brought with it many new questions. Could this agreement last? Could this lead to a widespread push for English independence from France? But most of all, would this new unity prevent further foreign expansion into Alba, or would it just make the Scottish crown a much larger target? Only time would tell what the future had in store for Scotland, England, and Norway.
 
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stnylan

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Well that could prove quite useful - dissention in Christendom I mean.
 
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HistoryDude

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Scotland seems like it can succeed.

France-England and Norway might face problems...
 
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