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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Sleight of Hand

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This is without doubt my favorite AAR. Please give us another update, RossN! :)
 

RossN

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Omen: Yes. Now for some peace... sort of. :)

Gedierond: Very true. I did get some gold out of it though, so not all in vain.

Estonianzulu: Heh, true! :D

john_bell: Um... well depends on how you define 'peace'!

Specialist290: Thanks! :) Great to be able to count you amongst my readers!

theavenger: Yes, very sorry about the long delay! I was busy, then started college again which made me even busier.

Sargon of Akkad: Thanks for the insight. Generally speaking I try to play characters true to their in game traits - Ragnhild is Craven for instance, which I picture as being generally timid. Harold is (in-game) Arbitrary which severely sours relations with his vassals, most whom (again in game) disliked him. Don't get me wrong I prefer to hew closer to history too but for the sake of consistency I ran with the game traits. :)

noobermenschen:
Lol!

Sleight of Hand: Here you go. More of an interlude I admit, but an important one. :)

Chief Ragusa: Lol! Actually the reason I brought Ragnhild to Norway was because she gave birth in the middle of the war when Harold had been away for longer than nine months. I figured a trip back to the Norwegian court was more plausible than one all the way back to England.
 

RossN

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Interlude Three - from R. D'Ollier's ‘The Frankish Inheritance’.


King Henri II of France

[The following is a translated excerpt from D'Ollier, Robert ‘The Frankish Inheritance’, (2003 Lyon). As always footnotes have been omitted for convienience.]


Under Phillipe I (r. 1060 - 1088) France had become the strongest kingdom in western Europe. It had been far from an obvious outcome; Phillipe had come to the throne young and surrounded by powerful and ambitious barons. William of Normandy in particular had an eye on a crown of his own in England and while his ambitions came to nothing, at the time a Norman realm across the Channel must have looked very plausible. The impact of such a power shift in France can only be imagined.

The defeat of the Bastard of Normandy was nearly as much a boon to Phillipe as it was to Harold - more so in fact as French king long outlasted his father-in-law. With a marriage alliance with England under his belt and the Normans broken as a serious power Phillipe could shift his focus onto a new frontier: Spain. William was not the only aristocrat in Christendom to have suffered a disastorous war and the collapse of the Christian Duchy of Barcelona in the early 1070's seemed to herald the advance of Islam to the Pyrenees. This was not an outcome any heir of Charles Martel could easily have accepted and Phillipe struck south with a vengance. By the end of his second decade in power Phillipe had retaken Barcelona for Christendom (and Capetian France.) The conquest of the short lived Emirate of Barcelona sent a political earthquake across the Iberian peninsula and Castile and Leon nervously eyed their giant new neighbour. Ominously for Spain (both Christian and Moslem) 1081 saw Phillipe establish his capital at Rosello.

The sudden death of Phillipe in 1088 brought his young son Henri II (r. 1088 - 1093) to the throne. Henri began well, conquering the Moslem stronghold of Zargoza in early 1089 but that was the peak of his success. A proud, cynical man given to explosions of temper the King quarelled with his bishops and his nobles alike. Worse he quarelled with the Pope himself, and paid the price when Clement III excommunicated him. The French nobles might have leaned towards revolt anyway, but excommunication pushed them over the edge. In 1089 the Flemish declared independence, quickly followed by the ambitious Duke of Tolouse. Within less than two years of Henri taking the throne the great kingdom of his father was coming close to collapse, and worse was to follow.

By all accounts Earled the Lionheart was a pious man and his desire to topple a excommunicated king certainly had a genuine religous aspect but the the King of England would have been other than human if he had not kept English interests in mind. In late 1090 Prince Arnoul, Henri's younger brother a pale quiet boy of nine had sought refuge at Earled's court in Winchester. Evidently the English king saw something in his exiled cousin as in January 1091 Earled declared war on Henri, with the avowed intention of the French Crown on Arnoul's narrow shoulders. Within a few weeks the English invasion of Normandy had begun.

For two and half years war waged across France as Henri faced the English (and Arnoul) in the north, the Tolousians in the south and the Flemish in the east. At least in Normandy there was little fighting in the field but many cities and castles had to be taken by storm. Rouen, Arques and Évreux fell to the huscarls and Paris was threatenened more than once. To add to Henri's woes the same time that saw the English run rampant in Normandy saw a rebellion in Aquitaine with the object of crowning his other brother the teenaged Bernard, soon to be appointed Bishop of Beauvais. Duran I, the immensely powerful young Duke of Aquitaine & Gascognie was already the first noble in France and the de Poitou family was determined to prove kingmakers. In such a struggle the younger Capet princes can be considered little more than pawns.


Victory!

By 1093 Henri's luck ran out. He had married Queen Sancha of Leon in the hopes of gaining her aid in his wars but his hopes were more than dashed when the Duke of Burgundy and the Duke of Orleans declared for the de Poitou faction. Their defection meant that nearly all Henri's territories in Northern France were under English control. On 19th September 1093 he abdicated in favour of his youngest brother Arnoul, as much to spite the Duke of Aquitaine as surrender to the English. With grave dignity the ex-king departed for Leon and a new life as Queen Sancha's consort. With Arnoul installed in Rosello the English sailed home in triumph.

Later historians (especially French historians) have often acertained that Earled of England was attempting to make France a puppet kingdom under Arnoul. This is highly implausible; having fought a hard war in Sweden Earled was scarcely likely to keep an army of huscarls in France indefinitely, especially since it would certainly have meant war with the de Poitou faction. Much more likely was a combination of religious faith and a desire to make sure the Normans would never again be a power in France. As for the glorious inheritance of Phillipe I, Arnoul and Bernard were welcome to struggle over the remains - and struggle they would.

[Editor's note: At this point D'Ollier continues his history of the Capet-de Poitou struggle but this falls outside the scope of our story.]


France 1094
 

Sleight of Hand

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Ah, a familiar sight indeed. Thanks for another good update. :)
 

Nikolai

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Aquitaine, the always dangerous big vassal in France does it again.:)
 

Specialist290

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A Saxon invasion of Normandy. Surely this is irony at its finest.

I've noticed a distinct tendency for large rebellions to break kingdoms in this game. I saw something similar in my latest one; Willie managed to cross the Channel and take the throne like he often does, but not a generation later the Hwicce broke away with half of England and formed their own Kingdom of Mercia*. I'm almost a hundred years in, and it's still going strong.

* It's in CK2Plus, which adds a few extra titular realms. Not sure if Mercia is available in vanilla, but I strongly suspect it isn't.
 

unmerged(62170)

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Its seems Earled is becoming something of a peacemaker in Europe, admittedly quite a violent peace - Interesting, with France doomed to dynastic warfare for the foreseeable future, and Scandinavia quiet, the English have an opportunity to look in their back garden...
 

Sleight of Hand

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RossN, I realize you're using CK II v1.03 or something stupid, but please continue this. It was/is such a great AAR. :D