• 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

Estonianzulu

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Ah, the lack of battles curse. Nothing like going to war in CK2 only to find no one to stick it to.
 

RossN

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Chief Ragusa: Alas I don't have any claims in Sweden so land looks unlikely. At least I am getting plunder out of this.

richvh: Yes, technically Norway (and thus England) is in two wars at the moment, though only the Swedish war impacts us much.

Omen: Sadly no, just gold from sacking cities - and good feelings in Norway. ;)

Fyregecko: Once again thank you very much for this honour!

Tommy4ever: At the moment I'd have to change the law for Gunhilda to inherit but I'm not out of hope yet - Ragnhild has the Lustful trait and has had 3 children already so a son is very possible. :)

I chose to support Norway partly to keep a useful alliance and partly because Earled is a warrior king - peace is inappropriate!

Aenaid: Thank you! :)

noobermenschen: No arguement here. ;)

Sedgewycke: Welcome!

Estonianzulu: True, though sacking strongholds isn't entirely without charm.
 

RossN

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Volume Two


English ships at sea
Norway, early 1085

The Queen-Consort of England sometimes reflected that she had spent in two years of marriage to Earled she had spent less than two months in that kingdom while Norway had been her home for the first half of her life til her first marriage. Even so it was a very strange experience in her brother's court. Her brother was courteous but preoccupied, the servants treated her politely yet distantly and great courtiers in conversation with her fell into awkward silence at her approach. It had taken Ragnhild weeks to fully grasp why and when the realization came it shocked her.

I am not a Norwegian princess anymore. I am Queen of England, wife to Olaf's great rival. I am a foreigner.

At first the idea had depressed her but after a while she started to come to terms with it. Her father might have claimed the English throne - and her brother did too come to think of it - but it would be her children who would sit on that throne even though she had never lifted a sword in her life. In which case she start to think of herself as English, which meant learning the language. So she wrote to Ælaf requesting a tutor and some ladies in waiting.

A month or so later three ships arrived from England bearing the promised tutor, English ladies in waiting and none other than Lady Adela, Earled's mother. Dumbfounded Ragnhild made to curtsey but Adela quickly stopped her.

"It is I who must do so to you,"
Adela explained and smiled. "Don't forget you are a Queen Ragnhild - others will always be trying to do that job for you."

"But you are the mother of a King!" Ragnhild pointed out.

"True, but I never wore a crown." Adela said and gave her daughter-in-law a weary smile. "It has been a long journey; may we retire to your home Queen Ragnhild - and please tell me it is away from the smell of the sea because as any of the crew can tell you I'm no sailor."

They were close in age for all Adela being Ragnhild's mother in law but even if the gap was only a couple of years or so the German noblewoman was more worldly than her Norse daughter-in-law. Her brother of course was still the Emperor but at his point in her life Adela had spent more years in England than she ever had in Germany and knew Winchester politics quite well enough.

"The Witan is not your ally my dear. Oh you are not without friends in England other than me. The Bishop of Salisbury for one is your true supporter but for most you are a Norse princess and will remain a Norse princess. Forgive my bluntness but your age does you little favours."

"Earled is young but he is no boy," Ragnhild replied stiffly.

"Oh I know," replied the 'boy's' mother wryly. "But people are people – and the Saxons are more people than most. Well you'll see in time. Now, let me have a look at my granddaughter.”


Princess Gunhilda

The five month old English princess was sleeping in a finely carved wooden cradle but she awoke to the sound of voices and stared up at her visitors in wonder, or perhaps slight constipation.

"She has beautiful green eyes,"
Adela said and sighed happily. "But then it is a family trait."

"In a moment she's going to be bawling out those beautiful green eyes and screaming down the rafters in search of supper," Ragnild admitted. "The wet nurse has never heard of such a greedy baby."

Adela simply chuckled. "Another family trait my dear, another family trait."

Over the following few months Ragnhild gained a more than passing ability in English, and a deeper knowledge of her husband's kingdom. Adela was a gold mine of information: having never herself become Queen or enjoyed much public power during the Regency she had learned much simply because none saw her as a rival or much of a threat. At the same time being the sister of the most powerful lord in Christendom had advantages and meant she was treated with respect. Above all the friendship of the Bishop of Salisbury had been invaluable. “The House of Godwin owes him much,” she said to Ragnhild one day as they attended morning prayers.

“And your husband – you are married to the Marshal are you not?”

Adela smiled. “Yes, Thorold. Away in Sweden with my boy.”

Ragnhild shivered and crossed herself. “Should we talk of war in a holy place? It makes my blood freeze!”

The German gave her a surprised look but didn't reply. Ragnhild knew what she must be thinking though; confusion that a daughter of Harald was so unmartial, so sick at the idea of war. Well it confused Ragnild too but she had known from childhood there was nothing of the valkyire to her. She had prayed every night her father was away for his safe return and did so now for her husband.

Return to me soon Earled, return to our daughter. I want to leave this place. I want to go with you. I want to go home.
 

robw963

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Really nice work RossN. This AAR has a great blend of nice graphics, crisp use of color imagery and above all it's really well written. I doff my hat to you. *subscribed*
 

Aardvark Bellay

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Wow. This is beautifully written. Lovely wording. Had i just read it earlier.

Congatulations to the bronze medal iin the AARland choice Award (round2) !
I must admit i didnt vote for this as i hadnt read it then.
Reading this, it reminded me to watch the Lion in Winter again and Vikings with Kirk Douglas.
Thanks.
 

RossN

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First of all sorry this took so long. I was away in Glasgow for a few days and I sort of fell behind when I came back. I'll try and get back into the swing of things!

Sarayakat:
Well I didn't kill him off (or rather the game didn') and everyone is finally returning to England! :)

Omen: Thank you. I admit I struggled a little until I decided Earled's mother would have much in common with his (much older) wife and things sort of went from there.

Einar Matveinen: No it is part of the Saxon England mod by the_hdk. A fun mod but unfortunately it hasn't been updated in a while so I'm running this AAR game with an old mod.

PointGiven: You aren't alone! I dread another long regency, though I was lucky with my Regent last time.

Francis II: Thank you! :)

intertonik: Thanks!

robw963: Wow, I'm delighted to have picked up so many new readers! :)

Aardvark Bellay: Thank you, it was a great honour. :)
 

RossN

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Volume Two


Vale Ælaf​

Uppland, Sweden, May 1086

The Saxon army had reached the easternmost shores of Sweden. The lonely coast of Finland, once unimaginably far to any in England who had even heard of it was now closer, closer by far than Wessex, Kent and Mercia. The King, on romantic impulse one morning had taken a party of thanes to ride on horseback to the beach and gaze across the water. He didn't order them to gather sea shells though; English kings were not Roman emperors as Ælaf had used to drum into his skull during his boyhood. Earled smiled sadly at the thought, his old friend and teacher's voice seeming to reach him across the white waves. He missed the man more than he could say, especially here with the army and his nobles were he had to be strong and bold at all times and could not show grief... though more than a few thegns had noticed the subtle air of melancholy that surrounded him, the often distant look in his seagreen eyes.

Ælaf, Bishop of Salisbury and former Regent of England had died suddenly at the end of January, so suddenly that word of his passing was brought to the King with his last letter (Earled had thrown the unread letter in the fire with a shudder, unable to bring himself to read the aimable words and fatherly advice of a a man now gone.) The new Regent, Prince Harold[SUP]1.[/SUP] was a capable man and loyal to the King... but he wasn't Ælaf. The prince had an ill-omened start, having to write to Earled in April and inform him that his grandmother had passed on. Queen Ældgyth de Gaunt, still as beautiful as she had been in her youth had been one of the last living of King Harold's generation.

As he sat on his horse watching the water lap against the Swedish shore Earled allowed his thoughts to drift away from those of death. He knew the Swedes were on their knees. Nearly all their major strongholds had fallen to the Saxons and if a pitched battle eluded him victory could not be far off. He'd done well enough out of the Swedish campaign; much plunder had gone back to England. That plunder had been hard won too; Earled had left England with nearly six thousand soldiers. After more than two years of fighting both the Swedes and their winter he had a little over three thousand men left on their feet. A force of iron hard veteran huscarls and fyrdmen to be sure but it would be good to return home in triumph with these brave and loyal men.

The King turned his horse back towards camp, cantering through sweet smelling pine trees and a short while later he was in sight of his army when a messanger rode out to greet him. Call it hunch or a premonition or even a hint from the Almighty but Earled knew before he spoke that the news was not of England or even of peace with Sweden. He waited expressionless to hear the herald talk.

"Earled King[SUP]2.[/SUP] I bring great news! Your wife has born you a son! Both mother and babe are in good health in the hall of thy brother Olaf of Norway."

A future King of England is born in Norway...​

A son! He had fathered a son! Worry lines Earled did not even know he had melted away and as smiled for a moment he was once again the boy king he had been two years before. With a laugh he kicked the sides of his horse and rode into camp to the astonishment of the huscarls who saw him.

By noon the whole camp was aflame with excitement at Earled's announcement. The cheers of the huscarls lasted nearly an hour. All had known the King had visited King Olaf's court the previous Autumn but that the Queen was with child had been a closely guarded secret. Earled had deliberately witheld the news, afraid that a still born babe or worse Ragnhild dying in childbirth would destroy the morale of the army - to say nothing of breaking his heart. Suddenly the King found himself longing to see his wife again, even more than than he wanted to see fair England. Let the Swedes keep their beautiful desoltation. He needed green fields and a loving embrace.

A few days later a second herald arrived with sweet news: the war was over. The Saxons were going home.

Peace at last!​

1. Chancellor of England from 1086, the youngest son of King Harold II and therefore Earled's uncle.
2. In Old English the title usually came after the name. 'Earled King' = King Earled.

 

Omen

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At last! Hopefully he will be able to spend some time with his wife and son.
 

Estonianzulu

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Given the thus far unfortunate ife expectency of English Monarchs, it might be best to start work on a spare heir.
 

john_bell

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Peace at last, I wonder how long this will last.
 

Sargon of Akkad

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Jul 10, 2012
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Excellent AAR. The only thing I'd note is that I found the characterisation of Harold Godwinson a bit at odds with the sources' descriptions of him. IIRC, Harold was a likeable, gregarious man, popular and able to persuade people around to his will. I do want to say that this is not an attempt to detract from your characterisation, however - I found your version of him to be very understandable and easy to identify with. I'm just a history Nazi. ;)