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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

birdboy2000

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Table of Contents

Act 1: Dolomici (876-939)

Chapter 1: The Dolomici Revolution (see later in this post)
Chapter 2: Fighting for Freedom
Chapter 3: The Elections of 868 and a Stable Peace
Chapter 4: Partition or Scramble
Chapter 5: Peace in the Midst of Chaos
Chapter 6: The War of Nisani and the Dawn of Federalism
Chapter 7: The Costs of War
Chapter 8: Incumbency and Opportunism
Chapter 9: The Wolygast Question
Chapter 10: The Nobles' Rebellion
Chapter 11: The War of Revenge and the Passing of the Founders
Chapter 12: Stability Through Foreign War
Chapter 13: State of Emergency
Chapter 14: The Tyrant's Schemes
Chapter 15: Triumph Without Liberty
Chapter 16: The Rise of the Slowincow
Chapter 17: Svetovit's Wrath
Chapter 18: A Treasonous Farce
Chapter 19: The Curse of Wolygast
Chapter 20: The Armed Election of 929
Chapter 21: The Vikings Attack!

Act II: Polabia (939-976)

Chapter 22: The Federation of Polabia
Chapter 23: Governing in a Federation
Chapter 24: Unification
Chapter 25: A Universalist Dream
Chapter 26: The Western Frontier
Chapter 27: The Conquests of Jaroslav
Chapter 28: Should Poles Also Be Free?
Chapter 29: Forgeries and Conquests
Chapter 30: Treason and Nepotism
Chapter 31: The Gods of Free Men
Chapter 32: Miroslaw's Expedition
Chapter 33: New Towns and New Conspiracies
Chapter 34: The End of Greatness
Chapter 35: Strasz vs. Wenceslaw

Epilogue: A Democratic Empire No More


Chapter 1: The Dolomici Revolution.

At many times in history, peasants have revolted against their exploitation at the hands of the upper classes. The high tax rates needed for lords to maintain luxurious lifestyles (and often wage wars) were a burden even in times of plenty; in eras of poverty, rebellion was often a last-ditch effort to survive.

The overwhelming majority of these rebellions were ended by dukes and kings on the battlefield – the nobility were called “those who fight” in Christendom, and not without cause, for they had significant advantages in both training and equipment over any peasant levy. In addition, while feudal realms were typically large, peasant rebellions were typically in response to local conditions, and feudal rulers could more often than not summon levies from the rest of their realm to crush peasant uprisings. Larger rebellions, while often using peasant manpower, were typically animated by noble or religious reasons, and therefore claimed leadership from those groups who, while willing to overthrow foreign or heretical or tyrannical rule, had no interest in materially improving the status of peasants as a class.

Even in those rare incidents where peasant rebellions were successful, they often ceased after victory to represent the peasantry. All rebellions, after all, need leaders – and those leaders were more often than not fighting for personal advancement, not lofty ideals of freedom. Sometimes, these men would marry, pass power to their sons, and reduce their former allies to peasants (except for the trusted few and powerful leaders they named new nobles), other times, the rebellion would rise and fall on the strength of the urban burghers, who would institutionalize themselves and especially their leading families as a new ruling class.

And sometimes, in a few scattered instances – as in the ancient Greek democracies, or early medieval Dolomici – the masses succeeded in creating a government which answered to no elites at all.



Bretislav of Dolomici, despite his demonization by the historiography of the early Republic (and the accompanying lionization of Jakub the Liberator and the rest of the Republic's founder) was not a cruel man; indeed, as near as modern historians can tell, the movement against him was founded as much on falsehood as fact. A mere twenty-one years of age at the time of the revolution, his youth and timidity did not endear him to his subjects, and his large appetite won him criticism, as the Dolomicians were required by custom to hunt on their chieftain's behalf – one of their relatively few duties. He was not a tyrant, however, and similarly unremarkable rulers at accession have managed to win the respect of many followers and carve out illustrious political careers – or simply to hold on, unremarkably, to power.

Yet Bretislav was out of touch with the people he ruled, and seemed taken wholly by surprise when virtually the entire military-age population of Dolomici besieged his capitol in the hill fort of Zirwisti, demanded his abdication, and expressed a willingness to take it by force if he did not comply. Writings have, however, come down from prominent peasants detailing their motives behind rebelling, although Bretislav until his death disputed the charges in question.



The accusations made by Jakub and the founders of the Dolomici Republic against Bretislav were threefold; that he planned to adopt Christianity, that his succession was illegal, and that he intended to reduce the predominately free peasantry of Dolomici to serfdom.

Of these claims, the first is the easiest to dispense with; after his deposition, Bretislav fled not to any Christian realm, but to the Pomeranian lands, where he continued to practice the traditional religions of the Slavic peoples and make the case that his deposition was invalid to anyone any local notables who would listen; indeed, later in life, even most of the Dolomician leaders privately admitted they had been wrong. The mention of Christianity in these rumors is better understood as an expression of peasant fear of Christianization, for Dolomici bordered the largest remnant of the powerful Carolingian Empire, along with the converted Slavic state of Moravia, both of which persecuted pagans and whose nobilities had reduced much of their once free populations to serfdom. Despite its popularity before Constantine as the faith of the urban poor of the Roman Empire, the Dolomicians identified Christianity with subjugation and serfdom, and the charges against Bretislav should be understood in that context.

The second, that Bretislav's succession was illegal, remains hotly disputed by historians, owing in no small part to the lack of reliable information at what exactly constituted legal in the pre-literate Dolomician society. Judging by neighboring Slavic realms, hereditary succession was typically practiced – but inheritances were typically divided between sons, not according to primogeniture, and usurpations were common. Bretislav's father has been lost to history, and his “dynastic” name suggested nothing more than local origins, so a few revisionists have questioned whether he was even a monarch at all. What evidence exists is mixed; his deposition soon after his ascent to the chiefdom carries with it many of the characteristics of a succession struggle, but then again, if Jakub's reforms were nothing more than the restoration of traditional customs and a victory in a disputed succession, why was he called the liberator and why do later historians date the founding of the Republic to his victory?

The last claim, that Bretislav planned to introduce serfdom, is the most accepted of the three, because it is impossible to explain the revolution without it. At best, it can be alleged that Bretislav was not in power long enough to plan anything, and that his father's proto-serfdom policies were the true cause of the rebellion; his succession only offered Jakub and the common Dolomicians the power vacuum they needed to fight back.

In any event, although Bretislav was more than willing to oppose the peasants through words, he was far less willing to do so through arms – both because his forces were vastly outnumbered, and because even victory in such a struggle would have left him chief of the dead, unable to resist any foreign aggression. He surrendered without a fight.



And with his surrender, a new polity was born – a republic not of burghers, but of peasants. One based on the principle that government should serve the masses, and whose rulers were consequently chosen by a popular vote of all men they seek to govern.

 
Last edited:

GulMacet

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This is a highly interesting scenario, and I am highly intrigued how democracy as we know now it (well, without the bits about women being able to vote... or own property... or divorce...) shall fare in the Middle Ages - with the added difficulty of being Slavic and Pagan, next to a large realm of German Christians, of course.
 

birdboy2000

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What mods are you using?
This AAR is being played with CK2plus. The vanilla hordes, additional titular titles, and cultural titles modules are in use, but the cultural title module is altered to use english-language king titles should the default nationality hold them. (I don't think that's shown up in a screenshot yet, but it may later.) All of the gameplay DLCs are enabled, as is the in-game customization one, which I used to rename the county.

The cheat console has been used to make the peasants revolt, let me play a peasant revolutionary, nickname that peasant revolutionary and make that peasant revolutionary use an open elective succession law. Going forward, I won't use the cheat console to make the game easier, but reserve the right to do so for flavor stuff like nicknames, and I'm probably going to use it to give everyone who gets elected the peasant leader trait, because it is a peasant republic. Open elective realms are playable even on succession if run by lowborn characters - if there's no dynasty, there's no problem with dynastic change. If a risk of a game over through dynastic change develops (I don't think it will but my tests might have missed something) I have a plan to deal with that.
 
Last edited:

Tommy4ever

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This is very well written and a fantastically interesting scenario - I have very high hopes for this AAR! :)
 

birdboy2000

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Chapter 2: Fighting for Freedom.

The question of how to avoid falling back into monarchy had vexed the governments of many peoples who had managed to abolish it, who had devised for themselves a variety of answers. The Athenian democracy had no single dominant political figure, although skilled orators could often bring about dramatic shifts in policy; the Roman Republic had two consuls, each of whom only served for a year. But the Dolomici had not inherited this classical tradition, and both their own example and those of the contemporary German cities (and, further south, Venice) spoke to the need for a dominant leader capable of conducting foreign policy, and such leaders, once elected, were far harder (even when legally possible) to un-elect.

This situation often led to the rise of great families, and to hereditary or near-hereditary rule, which the Dolomicians were keen to avoid, and Jakub was no exception in this regard. His solution was a simple one; a man who never married or fathered sons, after all, could never pass power to them! He would always portray this decision as an act of supreme loyalty to the Republic, although as a constitutional method applicable to future leaders it left something lacking; his critics would attribute this refusal to a less heroic motive, for it enhanced his popular support when alive at the expense of that after his death, and some whispered that, although capable of leading a revolution, he lacked the courage around the opposite sex to even approach a woman.

Yet although Jakub was often accused by his critics of being a dictator, the very number of such statements from his own time period speak to the frivolity of this charge; if he was a dictator, he was a benevolent one, who accepted the principle of free speech and limitations on his personal power, especially over domestic affairs – although it was true that there was in this period no system to bring about a chief's legal removal.

The most notable of such limitations came in the form of the Supreme Council of the State, whose members were chosen by elections decided on merit, and who had the ability to check the elected chief's power, especially in domestic affairs, where the authority of the five cabinet officials, subject to annual elections (with special elections should any officials die before the completions of their term) was strongly delineated.

Ryszard of Curtfurt, an early supporter of the peasant revolution, but also among the wealthiest yeomen in Dolomici and of minor noble origins, made much of both his natural talent for diplomacy and the advantages his cultured background would provide him in negotiation with foreign courts, and won himself the position of chancellor – an office responsible both for foreign policy and to arbitrate any disputes between individual citizens and the government.

Lucjan and Zdislav, the marshal and steward of the realm, were leaders in organizing the peasantry, and won their elections on the basis of their evident natural talents – Lucjan was responsible for the day-to-day organization of the militia, although given the danger of a too independent army, his authority was somewhat circumscribed and Jakub was expected to lead in battle. Zdislav was responsible for the treasury, although for this term, and indeed the first five years of the Republic's history, the atmosphere of freedom led to frequent tax resistance, and the demands of a free and disciplined peasant army left few agricultural surpluses for the state to perform more than the bare minimum of functions.

A severe weakness in the democratic system can be found in the election of Aron, the mayor of the town of Hahaldeselvo, as spymaster and chief of police. He was by all accounts wholly unqualified for the position, but he was known to much of the citizenry and promised the electorate both patronage and an equitable rule, and his political base in populous Hahaldeselvo argued quite well in his favor on election day. A few cynics have suggested that much of his support came as a protest vote, as the spymaster's job included the act of protecting prominent public figures from assassination, and not all of those public figures were universally beloved – in truth, although perhaps a few malcontents voted that way, the number of people who wanted Jakub dead could not have been significant enough to install a spymaster, and the qualified candidates had sought election in far more prestigious positions.

Finally, Wdolomirz, high priest of the temple at Magadoburg, was confirmed in his position as high priest of the Republic. Although given his superior learning and the blessing of the gods, no one stepped forth to challenge him, the inclusion of his position among those subject to election showed that the early Dolomici Republic believed that even the gods must be subject to the people.



Having been freed from monarchy and the prospect of serfdom, the Dolomicians longed to export their revolution to their neighbors. In part, this was because they sympathized with the plight of those excluded from power based on their birth and wished to give them a chance to share in the benefits of democracy, but Dolomici, regardless of its form of government, was a small state which would struggle without expanding to stand up to the large neighboring tribe of the Sorbs, let alone the Christian states of Moravia and the Carolingian Empire. Dolomici's northern neighbor of Laczyn was in a similar position, but its ruler, Barnim de Stodaranow, was a ruler – which is to say, a quasi-feudal lord who did little to inspire his tribesmen to fight on his behalf. Both tribes were Wendish in language and culture, and worshiped the same gods, and many villagers had family on the other side of the border – factors which in some eras discouraged war, but in this age it was seen as cause for liberation.

Laczyn's army, outnumbered by the full fighting population of Dolomici's peasantry and hampered by poor morale and desertion from peasant sympathizers, fought halfheartedly and quickly surrendered.



The same could not be said, however, of the garrison of the hill fort of Stendal, which offered the only significant resistance in the chiefdom of Laczyn. These men knew their Chief, Barnim ze Stodaranow personally, and liked him on a personal level, and for many of them, their hereditary status as local notables was threatened by the prospect of revolution – or it wasn't, but the prospect of a revolution and a world with no masters still struck some of them as a radical violation of everything the gods and Laczyn's traditions (which were never as egalitarian as Dolomici's) had stood for – or they saw the war not as an exported revolution, but as simply another conflict between Dolomici and Laczyn, to be resisted as any foreign invader should. Although they were determined, they were unable to do much more than sit in their fortress and hurl insults at the besiegers; after a four month siege, the exhausted defenders ran out of food and an emaciated Chief Barnim surrendered, and Laczyn was annexed to the Dolomici Republic.



This delay would have meant nothing to the Republic, however, had it not been for the opportunistic Zitsobir, high chief of the Sorbs. He was no friendlier to Laczyn's ruler than Dolomici's had been, but to him the prospect of a war between the two represented not the fear of revolution, but an opportunity for expansion, for even the winner in such a conflict, he reasoned, would struggle to hold their gains against a mightier power.

Although Zitsobir had heard of the revolution, he had not quite understood what it meant, or how determined the Dolomicians were to hold onto their newfound territory and make their republic a power in the world – or at least in their small slice of Pomerania. Surprised and outnumbered nearly three to one, Zitsobir was defeated in battle and captured; he was freed only upon swearing to recognize the new republic and its sovereignty over Laczyn, and to pay an indemnity which played no small part in stabilizing the early republic's finances.



Word of the Dolomici revolution did not stick within Dolomici's borders, but had spread throughout the pagan portions of Moravia. The lords who rebelled for independence and borrowed many Dolomician slogans ruled their own chiefdoms as hereditary rulers, but used Dolomician arguments against monarchy to motivate their own peasants to fight the Mojmirids for their cause. The cause was popular among the Dolomicians themselves, because its success would represent both a victory for their gods, and the replacement of a dangerous neighbor with a weaker one, although having spent the better part of the last half a year at war, most had returned to their fields in a hurry to prepare their farms for the harvest, and even Jakub, who had the theoretical authority to send troops, had no hope of convincing his soldiers to intervene. If the Dolomicians had truly inspired this war – a thesis some historians question - it was only by making the Moravian pagan lords fearful of their peasants should they follow their king, and by rallying passions throughout the Slavic pagan world against Christianity.



And the Dolomicians watched on, as the war. not yet concluded, turned to the pagans' advantage, and prepared, doubled in size and secure (for now) in their independence, to celebrate election day!

 
Last edited:

JanBDim

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Great idea for an AAR, and well-written at that. :)

So basically your ruler is a regular count with his capital a fortress, the only difference being the agnatic-open-elective succession? Also, how did you get a claim on your neighbour that quickly?
 

Tommy4ever

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Another good update. I would recommend cropping your screenshots - it usually makes things look nicer and can focus the picture on what you are wanting to show. The writing remains great though!

Looking forward to more.
 

birdboy2000

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Orjasmo: I'm playing on 1024 by 744. Or at least that's what it says in my settings; I'm not entirely sure Paradox isn't rounding 744 to a rounder number.
Ngppgn: That is some of the inspiration - and to be sure, the French Revolution wasn't the first time the peasants tried, just the first time they got a better result than "army crushed by the king". I'm trying to also take influence from classical republics, too, though - it's just harder because I'm not quite as familiar with them, and most of the extant sources are either hostile to republics as a concept or hostile to the democratic aspect of such.
Tommy4ever: I'm sorry, but I'll decline that - partially because there are certainly times I'm trying to show (or don't mind revealing) more than one thing, but mostly because I'm lazy.

Update post next.
 

birdboy2000

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Chapter 3: The Elections of 868 and a Stable Peace.

As alien as this may seem in our age of ballot boxes and polling places, early republics – whether democratic or otherwise – tended to conduct elections at a single location, which left those who lived too far from said location effectively disenfranchised. What solutions existed to this problem – such as the proto-federalist structure of the Aetolian League in classical Greece – tended not to be associated with powerful polities, or to be widely emulated.

The Dolomician elections of 867 were held at the village of Zirwisti, and this decision was non-controversial – both because the electorate, in the form of the peasant militia, had already gathered there to dethrone Bretislav, and because it was centrally located in Dolomici proper and had long served as its political center. But the annexation of Laczyn had nearly doubled the size and population of the republic, and although the currently serving officers (who hailed from Dolomici proper, after all) were fine with this situation, the same could not be said about the republic's new citizens. Angered with the long distance they had to travel to vote, the Lacyzinians, led by the effort of their prominent candidates, turned out en masse on election day to ensure the seat of election was moved.

It is easy to see, in the large group of armed Lacyzinian men approaching Zirwisti, the makings of a coup d'etat or even the threat of civil war. But it must be said that, although the threat of internal conflict may have swayed some voters' minds, the election of 868 was as free and fair as possible under the tense circumstances, and that both sides came armed, as much from custom and self-defense as from any desire to illegally sway the proceedings.

Later histories ascribe a few farsighted proposals to this meeting which were rejected, such as a form of federal rule or multiple polling places – however, these suggestions are most likely an effort to ascribe individuals who later became prominent with a sort of insight by placing these ideas in their mouths, and were unlikely to have been seriously debated at the time. The Laczynians, aided in no small part by voters who lived in Dolomici proper, but closer to the border than Zirwisti, pushed through a proposal to move the place of future elections to a largely uninhabited clearing which had been disputed between the two polities before their union, although the capital for other purposes, despite Laczynian efforts, remained at Zirwisti.

The large turnout of Laczynian voters also contributed to the results of the election, for Laczyn could boast its own skilled and well-known office-seekers, and some of the previously elected individuals had failed to distinguish themselves by competence. Jaromar, the mayor of Walbeck in Laczyn, was able to unseat the popular Zdislav as steward, despite the incumbent's role second only to Jakub in organizing the initial revolution. Przbyslaw, priest of the temple of Halberstedt, also in Laczyn, and a man whose learning and connection to the gods were widely agreed to exceed that of Wlodzimierz, easily defeated the unprepared high priest of the republic. Ryszard of Curnfurt, however, defeated a challenge from an equally qualified Laczyn man named Havel, and Lucjan held onto his position as marshal – largely because Zdislav, the only man believed to be more skilled as a soldier, had underestimated the political influence and skill of the Laczynians and sought re-election as steward.

That Mayor Aron of Hahaldeslevo was wholly unqualified for his duties was without dispute by 868, but the question of who would replace him was. Jarmila, a young woman who kept her origins intentionally obscure to win votes from both sides, had made a reputation for her cunning even before reaching the age of majority, and at sixteen years old was already the most qualified person in the republic. However, she was a woman, and in a society where the franchise (and indeed, freedom itself) was identified with the ability to bear arms and therefore extended only to men,.the legality of her candidacy was itself controversial – and her arguments to give women the vote would have been controversial even had they not been seen as her attempt to cultivate a loyal electoral bloc.
However, she was also far and away the most qualified person in the relatively small realm, and few men wished for a return to Aron's haphazard policing, or believed he was in any way capable of protecting anyone from assassination. Although she was forbidden to vote for her own candidacy, Jarmila was successful in being elected spymaster of the realm.

An attempt to hold an election was also made for the position of chief, although by law it was a lifetime office. However, Jakub's popularity as founder of the republic and success in war would have ensured his re-election anyway, and those few who sought to stand against him were shouted down with calls of his name.

Although the election had been raucous, there was no doubting it had left both a more competent and more stable government in charge. It was then that events in the early republic began to settle down. The election of 869, held at the new, neutral polling place, saw only one change in office as Zdislav defeated his old ally Lucjan easily for the position of marshal.



The Dolomicians had settled into their new status as free men, and having done so they displayed a preference for returning skilled officers who had given them no reason to be voted out, and revenue began to flow into the treasury again as the peasants, safe in their security, increasingly paid attention to their fields as well as to their revolution.

This relief was undoubtedly aided by the success of the pagan lords in their rebellion against Great Moravia, and that state's subsequent implosion, and the civil wars raging in the Carolingian Empire. This was not to say all concern had diminished; bereft of their initial revolutionary passion, the Dolomician state could hardly claim to be powerful, and some opined that their new neighbor of Glomacze, from a related Wendish root word to that of Dolomici, could themselves prove a dangerous enemy – and that the Carolingian civil wars carried the risk of putting a ruler in charge less apathetic to the eastern border – or worse, to reunite West Francia and Aquitaine, united under a different Louis, with the rest of the realm.. But in every era, weak nations have cause to fear the strong, and the Dolomicians on the whole did not see foreign events as giving them anything more to fear.



In any event, there was no change in Carolingian ruler, as despite the numerous German princes who had joined the rebellion, Louis II was able to crush the attempted usurpation.



The elections of 870 saw a full slate of incumbents returned, and records from the year describe nothing more exciting than a Jarilo festival – the first under the republican regime. The festival was most appreciated by Aron of Hahaldeslevo, who saw in his central role there a sort of public redemption from his failed career as spymaster, but it also served to increase the prestige and popularity of figures throughout the new government.

In 872, many had come to wonder if the revolution was over – people had begun to settle down and return to their fields, elections had succeeded in returning qualified officers of the state from humble origins, and apart from its form of government, the Dolomician Republic was little different from their neighbors. Others, however, would correctly note that, having survived the strikes and chaos of the early revolution, after a series of good harvests, the army and treasury were just getting ready to try spreading the revolution again.

 
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birdboy2000

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Bulldog90: Thanks!

And to everyone else, sorry about the delay, but I don't know how quick a schedule I'll keep - at first I was really enthusiastic, but writing long entries every day can be exhausting. Rest assured it's not abandoned, though, although it might be slower (and I won't be able to update until late sunday or monday at the earliest.)

Chapter 4: Partition or Scramble?

At the dawn of 876, after nearly a decade of peace, the treasury and army of the Dolomician Republic had recovered from the chaos of the revolutionary era. With a significant standing army supplemented by militia, the Dolomicians could claim one of the largest military forces among the Wends, and had nothing to fear from any neighbors – the Carolingians, although certainly much stronger, remained occupied in foreign wars and had lost the crusading zeal against the pagans that had characterized Charlemagne's reign. The Dolomician system of government had ensured that competent men led the armies, and in democracy they, more than their hereditary tribal neighbors, felt that they had something to fight for.

Having liberated themselves and grown large enough to cease fearing foreign invasions, a few questioned whether there was any need to fight at all. But far more were captivated by the dreams of Jakub the Liberator, who had spent much of the treasury to claim the old region of Brennaburg, and convince foreign chiefs of the Dolomician rights over the whole of the land – including Brennaburg proper, the geographic center of the Sorb state. Adopting Brennaburg's traditional eagle standard – one nearly identical to the Sorbian symbol – in place of the yellow and black banners which had traditionally represented the Dolomicians – he called for the people of the Sorb lands to cast off their leaders and join his republic (as Dolomicians had to all Wends, and occasionally to all other peoples, since the dawn of the revolution) and followed it up with an ultimatum involving the cession of Brennaburg and the abolition of hereditary succession; when it was unsurprisingly refused, he followed it up with a declaration of war.

The war began with an easy victory – the Sorbs, as the defender, were unprepared for the timing of the conflict and had to gather their soldiers, and the Brennaburg detachment was obliterated before troops from the rest of the tribe could gather.



As the troops settled in for a long siege, Mscislaw, Sorb chief of Brennaburg, was caught sneaking out of the castle by Dolomician troops. He was given his freedom, but had to pay a significant ransom for it, which replenished a treasury exhausted by the effort of claiming the old Brennaburg tribal lands.



The prospect of a Dolomician conquest of the Sorb lands disturbed many neighboring Slavic tribes, but the Sorbs were the weaker of the two powers, and counter-revolutionary efforts took a back seat to simple territorial greed. The small chiefdoms of Dymin and Wolgast also claimed Brennaburg proper, but before crossing the border into Sorb lands, their chiefs met and argued ferociously about who had the right to claim the spoils Both armies came to blows, and the winner of this conflict was the Dolomici Republic, for neither was left with a force capable of marching south. Cechy and Slask disputed the Sorb capital of Luczyka, and in the east of the country, Wielkopolska and Pomerania each claimed Lubusz.

Against this scrambled partition, many Sorbs were unsure who to fight, for their tribe's hope of survival had been lost before any battles (save perhaps Brennaburg) had even begun. But Dolomici had started this process, and their siege had been growing long and difficult, so in a battle motivated as much by revenge as by victory, Zistobor, high chief of the Sorbs, led his force to Brennaburg in a mutually devastating battle.

Although many were among the dead on both sides, and both armies were left virtually wiped out, the Dolomicians were the “victor” - but not without a cost. Jakub the liberator was himself seriously wounded in the conflict, and his fate was marginally better than that of his soldiers, who were left too few in number to besiege the castle of Havelberg.



Yet the Dolomician effort was aided by an extremely unlikely source – the high chieftess Jacka of Pomerania. The Dolomicians could not claim friendly relations with any monarchies, but Pomerania, where Bretislav the tyrant had fled, was viewed with special suspicion; many feared that their former monarch and his hosts were only biding their time until the Dolomicians were left so weak that the republic could be abolished. Yet when this time came, Jacka of Pomerania hated the Sorbs far more, and instead of restoring Bretislav or marching east to dispute Lubusz with the Wielkopolskans, ordered Pomeranian troops to relieve the siege of Havelberg.

(I should've positioned this screenshot better; something like 1200 of those troops are Pomeranian)

Their fortress defeated, and with it their hopes of winning a peace of exhaustion, the Sorbs were left with no choice but to surrender. The Dolomicians won Brennaburg, while their other two territories continued to be violently disputed between their prospective conquerors.



Jakub the liberator, however, would barely live to see the fruits of his triumph. He had been seriously wounded in the battle of Havelberg, and rarely healthy since then; when he appeared in public, it was only to prove that he was still alive and that no one was ruling in his name. His behavior became increasingly erratic, and he had begun to describe himself as Jakub Krakewitz, a word of obscure origins which some historians understand as a nickname of obscure meaning, and others as pretensions of nobility – and this debate was no less stringent in his own time. Some even accused him of intending to marry and turn a republic into a dynasty.

A series of poor harvests in Dolomici proper, perhaps easier understood as the result of its men forsaking farms for military service, was seen by some as the gods' wrath against Jakub's warmongering and alleged new path, and by others as punishment for ingratitude towards a man who had never broken his oaths to the people and placed the Dolomici Republic on the map – at least the map of the Lusatian Slavic world.



In any event, the debate over Jakub's policies was soon resolved by his own illness, as the infection from his wound had spread aggressively, and the liberator and founder of the Dolomici Republic died at age 34. Zdislav, who had joined in organizing the initial revolution and served honorably as both steward and now marshal of the realm, was easily elected the second High Chief of the Dolomici Republic.



It was a republic with an army in tatters and chaos from the Sorb partition on its borders, a chaos which they hoped would allow them time to recover and integrate their new territories.

(shown on this map in light purple because change of titles).
 
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JanBDim

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Still enjoying this AAR, and we're all subscribed so take your time with the updates; we'll be following :)

Seems the Republic is becoming a major regional player!
 

birdboy2000

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Battlebunny: Thanks!
JanBDim: I probably won't be quite as slow as last week, but good to know. And yes, it is - although CK2plus means I'll get virtually nothing from Brennaburg until five years after conquest, so I have to wait a bit to really throw my weight around.

Chapter 5: Peace in the Midst of Chaos

The Dolomician election of 877 was held on the first of December, in 876, as soon as word had spread through the republic of Jakub the Liberator's passing. This decision was controversial to some, and the election's losers would later question its legality – but these questions can be fairly dismissed as sour grapes, for on the night of December when it was actually held, they campaigned as vociferously as the winners.

The site of the election was also moved, although this had been decreed by Jakub and the council of state soon after Brennaburg's annexation. Yet the movement was on the principle established in 867 as the result of Laczyn's protests – it was simply that, having added a third province in Brennaburg, the election would be held at the intersection of three instead of two. (Albeit technically on the Dolomici Proper side of the river, for the exact boundary between the three was water, not land.) However, Brennaburg is geographically larger than Laczyn or Dolomici Proper, and one must note that many from its easternmost villages could not make it to the election field; the system of a single, localized polling place had reached its limit, and should the republic expand further a new solution would have to be devised.

Zdislav, who had been by Jakub's side in the original revolution, and since had served honorably as marshal (and briefly steward) of the realm, was elected the new High Chief in a significant but not overwhelming vote. Tadeusz of Muncheberg and Lucjan both ran energetic campaigns, and both could claim a good deal of public support, but when the votes were tallied Zdislav could claim a slight majority, while his opponents failed to clear one fourth of the total. And Zdislav was well-qualified for his position; his courage in battle had won him many admirers, while his pride and patience saw many believe him well-suited to this position. He was, however, criticized for his greed – but his supporters claimed that this too could be placed in the service of the republic, for although his term as steward had been brief, there was no denying his skill at adding to the treasury.

Unlike Jakub, he was also married – to Jarmila, a woman fifteen years his junior, who had served honorably as spymaster and had met him in their shared role on the council of state. At the time of the election, Zdislav was forty years old and yet to have a son, but a few still feared he would someday have one, reign long enough for his son to grow to adulthood, and attempt to create a dynasty (or worse, try to pass power to his daughter Bohuslava) – however, most Wendish men of voting age were married, and the idea that Jakub's celibacy would be emulated by all future rulers was never anything more than a dream.



The other election spots were no less contested – not since the founding of the republic and the conquest of Laczyn had so much of the council changed hands. The position of marshal had been vacated by its holder's election to higher office, and the annexation of Brennaburg had seen many talented men of ordinary birth eager to serve their new republic.

Jaromar, priest of Havelberg, was elected fairly easily to the position of chancellor. The previous chancellor Ryszard of Curnfurt, despite his noble education, had never been particularly exceptional at his role, and had long been distrusted by most of the electorate for his high birth; he had spent the previous decade as the sole noble on the council. Jaromar was not that much more talented, but his priestly status had won him respect throughout Brennaburg, and he was of far more humble roots, which resonated throughout the population.

The other two positions to change hands can be interpreted as a backlash against Zdislav – or at the very least, a fear of one man concentrating too much power, especially one who serves for life. Zdislav and Lucjan had been comrades in the revolution, but their friendship had been strained from the moment Zdislav, having lost re-election as steward, challenged him for the position of marshal – although Zdislav had won, Lucjan and his partisans had long accused him of running an unfair smear campaign, and contesting the high chief election against each other had led to a repeat of bad blood. Yet Lucjan had placed second in every election for marshal since, and with Zdislav's position vacated by his promotion, he was able to reclaim his old position in the army, despite a challenge from his other rival in the high chief election, Tadeusz of Muncheberg.

Jarmila's election as spymaster was controversial when it had happened, and many had voted for her simply because she had no adequate competition. But allowing the wife of the high chief to serve as spymaster was viewed with far more suspicion than simply allowing a woman to do it, and the annexation of Brennaburg had brought with it Casimir, the mayor of Jutriboc, a man who if anything was even more skilled than Jarmila. Despite Zdislav campaigning nearly as hard for his wife as he had for himself, Casimir defeated Jarmila by a landslide.



The realm they ruled over, however, was one bereft of most of its fighting men, and devastated by war. Opportunity beckoned, but it beckoned for a less wounded state; Zdislav would watch his neighbors fight over Sorb lands, for the time being, not seek to claim more of them – Slask repelled Cechy's claims to Luzyce, while Pomerania, who had helped the Dolomicians so much to take Brennaburg, was unable to take Lubusz for themselves. Yet the wars did allow the Dolomicians time to train new men and consolidate their holdings; had their neighbors been at peace with one another, their own republic might have offered a tempting target, and shared the fate they had inflicted on the Sorbs.

And as Slavs fought each other to the east, to the west of the Dolomici Republic, the Carolingian Empire imploded – as the Dolomicians believe all empires, based on force and not popular appeal, inevitably will. Yet their own realm had expanded greatly, and many had begun to wonder how much further it could grow, without also becoming an empire out of touch with the people it governed.

 

birdboy2000

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Chapter 6: The War of Nisani and the Dawn of Federalism.

The world of early medieval Europe – especially that portion within sailing distance of Scandinavia – was a dangerous place, and worshiping similar gods offered no protections from the ravages of the vikings. As the Dolomicians recovered from the Brennaburg war, they were met with a fleet of raiders from Burgundaholmr, a small island off the Scanian coast. While some rulers, noting their superior numbers, might have offered battle in this situation, Zdislav instead urged the Dolomician people to carry all their valuables inside their forts, as the vikings lacked both the troops and the interest in a prolonged siege. A few harvests were delayed and a few treasures stolen, but the ravages of war were avoided and looting was kept to a minimum; the stymied Burgundaholmr host soon left Dolomician lands for Saxony in hope of better plunder. It would approach many times over the next couple years, but never to any greater effect.



The province of Nisani, center of the Glomacze tribal lands, had historic ties with the Dolomician people – and inspired by the revolution to their north, they too were growing restless. Radomil, their chief, was known to the literate class as the generous, but evidently this generosity did not apply to everyone in the realm; numerous subjects, most notably among them mayor Wlodzimerz of the town of Dohna, accused him of being disinterested in the plight of anyone outside his court and appealed to Zdislav for liberation.



The truth of these charges, it must be noted, was questionable at best; contemporaries both inside and outside of Glomacze, except those with obvious bias, described Radomil as one of the kinder rulers of his age. Many in the Dolomici Republic themselves questioned the merit of these claims, but the logic of an expansionist foreign policy – and the prospect of liberating the common people – overrode any real questions of tyranny, and the fact that Glomacze was a weaker state with close cultural ties and no foreign alliances meant as much as any real abuses on the part of its ruler – save for the fact that he was a hereditary, noble ruler at all.



In any event, the Dolomicians were not welcomed without a fight. Glomacze had an army, and this army fought – but Zdislav had been elected for his military skill, and he learned quickly in battle; his superior command of tactics in Nisani's hilly terrain gave his larger army a decisive victory.




The Glomaczian army attempted to retreat to Ploni, the eastern half of the territory, and there recover its strength, but were met with a successful pursuit - once the army was annihilated, castle Drezdany in Nisani, shorn of its fighting men, had no ability left to resist a siege. Once the castle fell, Radomil the Generous lost all hope of victory, conceded to the inevitable and surrendered the Nisani lands to the Republic.



Yet it was one task to conquer Nisani; another to administer it in a way fair to all, and this question was nearly as challenging and divisive as the actual war. Nisani was geographically far from the voting site, and although a few proposed a new place of election, no satisfactory location could be found; all attempts to do so met howls of protest from Dolomici Proper, Laczyn, or Brennaburg, for it would create the same problems in one or more of those locations that it would solve in the newly conquered lands.

This problem would be solved in the same way it had been in antiquity in the Aetolian and Achaean leagues – although it is highly doubtful any of the people involved had heard of those ancient Greek federations. Nisani – and indeed, any future conquests – would not be governed in whole by the popular assembly and the council of state, but would elect local leaders who would govern the lands (subordinate to the Republic as a whole) and record votes for national positions. This solution was not entirely satisfactory – many alleged that elected chiefs, who after all were immune to recall, would rig the numbers in their own or preferred candidates' favor, and that the observers provided by the law were too few in number to verify against fraud. Yet nor could there be claimed to be other realistic options; even those who shouted “dictator” lacked a more adequate solution for the question of a growing republic, and few wished to grant Nisani independence after shedding so much blood to conquer it, and to leave it prey for revanche or foreign aggression.

Wlodzimerz was easily elected, and few at the time alleged fraud, but what Glomacze loyalists remained in Nisani (having not perished in battle or fled west with the court) would accuse him of engineering the war to gain power – an accusation which would gain traction among his political rivals in the rest of the Republic.



Wlodizmerz of Nisani would do little to help his reputation in the rest of the republic on June 4th, when he submitted a petition on behalf of Nisani's people for a special election. His reasons were understandable, if not legalistic – Nisani had been Glomacze territory in February, and the length between then and election day would leave everyone in the region without a chance to win representation on the council of state for nearly an entire year. Yet it was also true that no one else in the region was particularly interested in running. Boleslaw van Altenburg, although qualified, gave the excuse of not wanting to leave his duties at castle Altenburg, which he continued to run – although many accused him of simply being angry of the many revolutionary reforms which had freed his peasants and left him little more powerful than a mayor – and no one else considered themselves to have realistic enough shot of victory to bother traveling to the election site.

Zdislav, however, would allow the unprecedented June election - for although this argument did not resonate in Dolomici proper, it did resonate in Nisani, and the region's loyalty, especially given the new federal system (which left the candidate for said election running the province), had to be ensured. Critics would accuse him of more personal motives; the present office-holder, Casimir, had won a fairly vicious campaign against his wife, Jarmila – but despite the questionable legality of the measure, Wlodzimerz was elected, and protests would begin to dissipate when he was re-elected in January.



The Dolomicians were not the only west slavic people to expand further after the scramble for Sorb lands; for all three partitioning powers, the war was only the beginning of their expansion. Slask invaded the declining Moravian state, whose adventurism against the Holy Roman Empire had ended with an annihilated army, seizing the province of Boleslav. Wielkopolska marched east, absorbing Sieradzko-Leczyckie from the Kuvayians. The Dolomici Republic had indeed grown stronger – but it also had stronger neighbors, although it thankfully appeared, at least for the time being, that all three states had easier targets elsewhere.

 

GulMacet

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Now, to gain a coastline and transition from subsistence agriculture to a trade-based economy. Wendish Slavic Hansa! (Also, what is Ferrara doing in what appears to be the Rhineland?)