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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Mithfir

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Anscarid d’Ivrea, the Free Count of France

Mutantur omnia nos et mutamur in illis
All things change and we change with them.​

Last update 04/05/2014: The Last Years of Richard III

Table of contents here

Color legend

Green = Author comments
Red = Protagonist quote
Yellow = Contemporary quote
Gray = Narration

Introduction

Hello! Welcome to my first attempt at recreating a story. The main goal of this report is to recreate one of my previous game as the Count of Mâcon. I had first chosen this character because I liked how the name d'Ivrea sounded. Over time, I discovered there was more than just a name behind it... Hidden depths possess a nice potential to bring out a good story. Hopefully, I will succeed as well as I did in my previous incarnation. I have chosen to write this story in a historical way. More precisely, a historian is discovering this dynasty's history in the Middle Ages and is trying to separate fact from fiction. I plan to include quotations during key events. Hopefully, I'll be able to keep this promise. I shall let this fellow historian (fake) take you back to 1066.

Dear reader, I am Alexandre de Beaumont, historian, researcher and man of letters. I have been given the great honour of perusing through multiple ancient documents to write a concise history of the Anscarids, also known as the house of Ivrea, a noble family hailing from Burgundy.


Founder of the dynasty

The history of the Free Counts begins with Anscar, the Count of Burgundy. In 887, he supported the duke of Spoleto, Guy III, in his attempt to claim the throne of West Francia after the deposition of Charles the Fat. They failed at claiming the throne; however, Guy III became king of Italy in 889. In recognition of his loyalty, the new king created the March of Ivrea in Piedmont and appointed Anscar as Margrave. He would bequeath his position to his son Adalbert on his death. His grandson, Berengar II, would become king of Italy.


The March of Ivrea


Berengar II, King of Italy

Berengar has been negatively portrayed in the Church documents I was lucky enough to read, despite his noble lineage. Berengar II was a direct descendant of Louis the Pious, emperor of the West, by his daughter Gisela. This makes Berengar a descendant of the noble line of France’s forefathers: Charles Martel, Pepin the Short and Charlemagne. This fact would sear the defiant attitude of the Anscarids regarding succession laws. They would never accept the Salic law, which disqualified women from succession.

In 940, Berengar revolted against his uncle Hugh II, King of Italy. Initially unsuccessful, he fled to the court of Otto I, King of Germany. Otto refused to choose sides, but allowed Berengar to return to Italy in 945. Finally, in 950, Hugh II relinquished the crown to his son Lothair, though the real power rested with Berengar. The puppet king would only reign briefly before dying from poison.



Otto I

Berengar II and his son Adalbert, now Kings of Italy, attempted to affirm their authority by marrying Lothair’s widow to Adalbert. Adelaide, the young widow, refused and was imprisoned. She managed to escape to the court of Otto I in Germany. Himself a widow, Otto I married her and invaded Italy. He crowned himself King of the Lombards and forced the Kings of Italy into vassalage. The Anscarids remained Kings of Italy, but would never become loyal servants of the future emperor.

In 953, Otto’s son revolted against him and Berengar seized the opportunity to break free from his yoke. However, in 960, he marched against the Papacy and the Pope called Otto I for help. The German King once again marched to Italy, although this time, he would kill two birds with one stone. Berengar’s troops deserted him and Otto I declared him deposed on Christmas 961. February 2nd 962, Otto I was crowned Holy Roman Emperor and then turned his attention on Berengar. The Italian King was eventually captured and died in prison, in 966. Adalbert fled to Burgundy in disgrace.



Otto-William, duke of Burgundy

Few contemporary sources mention the fate of Adalbert’s family at this point, but one name kept appearing: Otto-William, Adalbert’s son. According to these sources, Otto-William rose to prominence by unifying the counties of Mâcon, Nevers and Burgundy under his rule. He inherited the duchy of Burgundy from his step-father Henri the Great. His great ambition saw the Free County of Burgundy independent from German rule. The Free Count’s legacy would not live long after his death in 1026. Soon after his passing, the three counties were split among his children and the Free County of Burgundy was incorporated into the Holy Roman Empire. The Anscarids were now split by a border, reduced to a mere shadow of their Italian glory.


Guy d'Ivrea, Count of Mâcon, age 16

Ah, but here’s where things start to get interesting. A few generations later, the name d’Ivrea appears once again in France’s history. The year 1065, around the time when William the Bastard embarked on his campaign to conquer England, a young boy becomes Count of Mâcon after his father died suddenly... His name was Guy d’Ivrea, Count of Mâcon, age 10.

From this point, it is now possible to go in further details. Sources have been very well preserved and provided me with a detailed account of their successive title holders. One must not be over enthusiastic and should take in consideration that even contemporary sources can be misleading. As your guide, I shall do my best to provide a clear understanding of the events regarding this dynasty. Together, perhaps we can find one of the many truths hidden under the various sources that shared their legacy with their heirs: us.

Will you accompany me to learn about this forgotten dynasty? Will they prove themselves as rightful heirs of the grandfathers of Central Europe? Will you journey with their sons and daughters as they struggle to restore their former glory? I invite you to travel with me, fellow reader, so that we may relive the events of this family and learn what they have to tell us.

- Alexandre de Beaumont
 
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Chapter 1

Early years (1066-1070)​


[COLOR="#0008000"]Work hard play hard![/COLOR]

The young Count would not be in control until his 16th birthday. His mother describes him as a kid who worked as hard as he loved biscuits. Indeed, he was often seen eating them inside his castle. Perhaps his greatest quality remained with his silver tongue. The Count was a smooth talker and his mastery of rhetoric would not go unnoticed. Indeed, the duke of Burgundy would appoint the young man as his chancellor. However, his eyes would always be fixated on the Free County of Burgundy, which he greatly desired restored back from Germany.


As a child, the Count shows his future diplomatic skills

Raising a family (1070-1074)


[COLOR="#0008000"]I don't think she would have let me touch her at night...[/COLOR]

Once he took command of Mâcon, his mother suggested a marriage between him and the daughter of the Grand Prince of Russia. Guy considered the idea until he realized that the young woman was a fierce Orthodox believer and reluctant to marry a Catholic. Slighted, the Free Count sought a wife in Italy.

In the County of Lucca, his whispers found a young woman named Walpurga. A lowborn, she had received an excellent education and was reputed for her charm and wit. The Count did not lose time. He eagerly asked her hand in marriage, despite her not being of noble birth. What he lost in prestige, he would find happiness in marriage. All accounts describe how the couple clearly appreciated one another.


[COLOR="#0008000"]Happily married![/COLOR]

Now a married man, Guy began his life work: conquer the duchy of Burgundy.

Autumn 1071, the duke of Burgundy, Robert the Old, attempts to seize the French throne from Philippe I. The powerful duke of Aquitaine allies himself with the pretender and the country is divided in two. France would suffer many years of civil wars...



French factions in 1071

13th July 1072, the Countess gives birth to a girl, Alice. The Count was so overjoyed that he postponed his conquest ambition for a year. He would personally tutor Alice and become very close with his daughter. Ironically, he would increase city taxes before the next winter. Another daughter would be born on 8th August 1073, Pernelle.


[COLOR="#0008000"]He liked his eldest a little more[/COLOR]

Claiming Chalons (1074-1076)

One week before Christmas in 1074, Guy declares war against his neighbor, Count Hughes. Hughes holds both the Counties of Chalons and Charolais, flanking the Free Count’s own demesne. Guy uses the tax money he collected to hire Saxon sell swords, reinforcing his own small army. He effortlessly crushes Hughes’ army at Chalons and lay siege to his holdings. Only the city of Seurre managed to repel the mercenaries after a failed assault.


[COLOR="#0008000"]I expected nothing less[/COLOR]

The captain of the Saxon band returned to Mâcon feigning victory, but the Count swiftly sent him back to capture the city. A second assault failed miserably against the citizens and again the mercenaries fled back. Béatrice, Count’s mother, relates what followed afterwards.


[COLOR="#0008000"]2nd assault failed... Curses![/COLOR]

“... the mercenary captain reported how the city rebuked our soldiers. In the company of his wife, his 2 daughters and me, the Count praised the courage of the citizens. He even praised how common folk managed to push back trained soldiers. Then, the smile gone from his face, he calmly told the captain that if assaulting the city was impossible, they would just need to starve it. The Count grabbed a biscuit, took a large bite and gave a crumble to the captain. In his eyes, I could only see the hint of a warning. Once the captain hastily departed, my son took little Alice in his arms and regained his smile.”
- Béatrice, regent mother of Mâcon


Guy becomes Count of Chalons

The city would finally surrender in January 1076. Chalons was now part of the demesne of the Free Count. Guy would personally praise their valour by erecting a small palisade and a village near the barony. 8th June, the Countess gives birth to a son, Geoffroy. Fortune seemed to favor the Anscarids for the time being.


[COLOR="#0008000"]Alice is still daddy's little girl[/COLOR]
 
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Mithfir

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This is an interesting format you have chosen! I'll follow this and hope you'll post more soon!
I'm currently in the year 1099, so yes there's still more to tell! It's all about managing screenshots, information and writing... Thanks for the encouragement and I'll be sure to check your report as well!
 

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Chapter 2

War interlude (1076-1079)


Duchy of Burgundy


[COLOR="#0008000"]The meek shall inherit the earth[/COLOR]

While the Count was gaining a steadier foothold in the duchy of Burgundy, the civil war ravaged through France. Peasants from the county of Dijon appealed to the d’Ivrea house for help and Guy distributed goods to the famished poor.


The new duke of Burgundy

After 6 years of inconclusive fighting, the civil war between Philippe I and Robert the Old ends with the latter’s death. On the day of Christmas 1077, the duke dies a natural death. His son, Henri II, would continue his father’s fight for the Frankish throne. Contrary to his father, he would not use the sword to achieve his goal...

Winter of 1079, the new duke organizes a large feast and invites every noble in the duchy. The Free Count joins the festivities and the unthinkable happened: he gained the friendship of Count Hughes, the same man he usurped the County of Chalons from. Guy’s personal memoirs describes that after drinking a few wine bottles with Hughes, he used his most formidable weapon: diplomacy.


[COLOR="#0008000"]Making a friend out of an enemy[/COLOR]

Hughes was an old man and in declining health by 1079. Out of respect for him, the Free Count honoured his friendship by remaining in good standing with Charolais, the County he wanted to conquer next. 8th March 1079, a second son is born to the Anscarids, Richard.


[COLOR="#0008000"]Titles lost on succession...[/COLOR]

A new king (1079-1082)


[COLOR="#0008000"]He ate only broth for days[/COLOR]

With the arrival of spring, Guy catches a serious fever and is bedridden for many days. In the meantime, the duke of Burgundy travels to Paris and seek an audience with the king. It is not clear what happened exactly between the two men. However, we do know that Philippe relinquished the throne to Henri II peacefully.


[COLOR="#0008000"]Claiming the duchy of Burgundy is gonna be difficult now...[/COLOR]

Now, Philippe I claimed that he was under severe stress after the long civil war and Henri II offered his services as a counselor. The grateful king would have taken a few days of repose in Orleans to “clear his head”. When he returned, the gates were closed to him and his crown sat on Henri’s head, the rightful king of France. The furious Philippe felt he was duped by his vassal and forced to return to Orleans.


[COLOR="#0008000"]Shy + trusting = gullible idiot?[/COLOR]

According to Guy’s memoirs, Henri had marched to Paris with a large retinue. When he returned to Dijon, his retinue was as large as he had departed and the kingdom’s crown shone on his head.

“My liege, the duke of Burgundy, had conquered a kingdom without anyone understanding how he actually did it. Once I recovered from the dreadful fever, I was appointed Chancellor of France.”
- Guy d'Ivrea​

Perhaps the truth lies in both versions. It would be reasonable to assume that Henri II gathered a large army of loyal followers and presented an ultimatum to Philippe I. Whatever the case, no battle had been fought and France had now a new king, Henri II.



[COLOR="#0008000"]At least, I don't have the title lost on succession anymore...[/COLOR]

Tragedy struck the d’Ivrea family in autumn 1079. The young son of the Free Count fell asleep and never woke up. He was only 3. Guy would have to tutor his second son Richard.



2 years later, Guy felt bold enough to request the duchy of Burgundy be given to him. Henri II had re-conquered Maine from the English crown and moved the capital there. For the first time, the Free Count’s silver tongue failed him. Henri II tactfully refused the duchy while praising the Count’s loyalty and skill.


[COLOR="#0008000"]Silver tongued :p[/COLOR]

“My liege is wise and I submit to his decision. God willing, I shall be granted what is my family’s legacy in time. Whether by sword or word, His will shall grant me my just reward.”
- Guy d'Ivrea​


[COLOR="#0008000"]Philippe I grew a spine[/COLOR]

While Henri II pacified the ambitious Count, another vassal broke his leash: Philippe I. In January 1082, shaken from his torpor, he declared war against Henri II, plunging France into another bloody civil war. Philippe sought the assistance of Guy in his war, but the Count refused. The Free Counties remained loyal to Henri II for the time being.
 
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Idhrendur

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Thanks for the link. This is rather interesting so far, and I'm enjoying the way you write it!
 

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Thanks for the link. This is rather interesting so far, and I'm enjoying the way you write it!
Thanks, welcome aboard!

Hey Mithfir! I can see you're doing an amazing job encouraging others! Maybe you could bring even more readers here by putting a link in your signature, so people can follow you from everywhere?
I shall do that. Back when I used to write fanfiction, a friend asked me years later if she could read some of it. I realized that if 1 person tells me they enjoy what I write, it's possible that a few more enjoy it as well without telling me. Just gotta keep writing no matter what.

Love the work, but cyan? That is the most evil of all the neons to read.
Thanks! Well, I wanted to use the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) formula for the text like the company I used to work for. Perhaps Cyan is too bright... I'll switch to a darker blue on my next update. Should be easier on the eyes this way!
 

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I shall do that. Back when I used to write fanfiction, a friend asked me years later if she could read some of it. I realized that if 1 person tells me they enjoy what I write, it's possible that a few more enjoy it as well without telling me. Just gotta keep writing no matter what.
So true! Just keep writing it.
The fact that someone wanted to see it years later should encourage you a good bit.
 

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I am officially subscribed and support your work. Please continue writing!
 

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Chapter 3​

The winter of Charolais (1082-1084)


Minus 2

Humbled by his setback against Henri II, the Free Count restrained his ambition. Having ignored Philippe I’s call to arms and feeling honour bound to his friend Count Hughes, Guy did not raise his army against Charolais. His court began to notice his behaviour change, notably his wife.

"My dear husband lost some of his spring this year. The Count remains vigorous and sharp of mind, but there’s something changed in him. He spends long hours eating biscuits and staring at the horizon, always to the west. He reassured me that he was merely patient and that circumstances delayed his ambitions. Perhaps he still mourns Geoffroy, our first son. Today, he took my hand into his and told me how blessed he was to have me as his life companion and to have given him such lively children. Our hearts beat as one."
–Walpurga, Countess of Mâcon​


I'll take good care of your county

All changed in February 1083. Count Hughes dies of old age at 61 and is succeeded by his infant son, Thibault de Sémur. Guy paid his respects to his dead friend, but he remained pragmatic. Free of his friendship ties, he declares war on the new Count of Charolais, proclaiming that Hughes had intended to lend the county to him once he died. This seems highly unlikely, as Thibault had succeeded Hughes peacefully and the succession had been smoothly executed. Nevertheless, Guy sent his army to Charolais and claimed the county as his. In early 1084, Thibault surrendered to the Free Count. Guy now had half the duchy of Burgundy under his direct control.


No mercenaries needed

Civil war concludes (1084-1086)​


I have a nice mustache now

13th April 1086, Walpurga gives birth to a son, Archambaud. The Free Count began to think about his succession.


His story is not over yet

In autumn, the civil war ends with Henri II as the victor. Philippe I surrendered after a string of defeats and was imprisoned. His supporters were defeated, but not destroyed.

The Navarra campaign, part one (1087-1088)


I really love the mustache

8th June 1087, the Anscarids welcome another daughter: Raymonde.


Future power couple

At this point in the d’Ivrea history, a new name appears: Guilhèlm d’Ivrea, a distant cousin of Guy. This kinsman married a daughter of the Jimena dynasty, the dominant Christian house in the Iberian Peninsula. His wife, Urraka Antsez, was a bastard daughter of the late king of Navarra and niece of the current king, Erramun. Despite being born out of wedlock, she possessed a claim to the throne as a descendant of the previous king.


Jimena family tree

Erramun was facing problems of his own. His rebellious vassal, the Count of Najera, named him a pretender and pushed his claim for the Navarra throne. Navarra called Castille for help to crush the rebellious Count. This succession dispute allowed Urraka’s claim to be pressed. Guy’s whispers reported that Najera would fall soon to the joint force. In a bold move, Guy entered the war, pressing Urraka’s claim against Erramun. The die was cast. The house of d’Ivrea would attempt to establish a cadet branch in Navarra. If he were to profit from the situation, the Free Count would have to attack on two fronts.


It's on!


Treading on thin ice

First, capturing Navarra remained the primary objective. While the Navarra army was weakened after subjugating Najera rebels, the Free Counties’ army remained at full strength. Guy’s forces entered Navarra unopposed in January 1088.


King of Castille, Léon and Galicia


Iberian peninsula in 1088

Second, the biggest obstacle to the Count’s plan was Castille. The young infant king Gonzalo had united the crowns of Galicia, Léon and Castille under one banner. If Gonzalo enters the fray, it would be impossible to repel their superior army. Guy entered parlay with Castille and he quickly noticed there was no love between him and Navarra. Pressing his advantage, the Free Count smoothly buttered the young king. Gonzalo liked the Count so much that he gave his blessing to Urraka and wished Guy good luck. The Castille army would withdraw after the sacking of Najera in March 1088. Erramun was on his own against the Free Count.

“To find such a lowly Count spoke so elegantly in front of His Majesty the king of Castille, I would have not believed it had I not been there. Even less when I saw him share biscuits and pleasantries with my liege. If a Count is capable of this, I shudder to think should such a man become king, bestowed by the Lord’s grace!”
- Bishop Muno of Mondonedo, regent of Castille​


This seems too good to be true...

13th July 1088, Alice, the Count’s eldest daughter, comes of age. Being her father’s favourite, Guy negotiates a marriage contract with king Torfinn of Norway. Harald, the heir to Kingdom of England, will be 16 the following month and Guy proposes a matrilineal marriage between Alice and the crown prince. The betrothal is signed.


I should have known...

However, Harald attempts to modify the contract into a regular marriage, claiming he is too far up in the succession to marry unfavorably. Guy tactfully employs his wordsmith gift to convince Harald of respecting the contract, in vain. The betrothal is broken and Guy seeks another husband for his beloved daughter. The Anscarids would defy the Salic law to the end. After all, they claim their noble legacy from Emperor Louis the Pious’ daughter.

“Harald of Norway, him, I underestimated once. Our Majesty the king better keep an eye on England’s princes.”
- Guy d'Ivrea​


My new master of the coin

Instead, he finds a suitor in Croatia. Radomir Trpimirovic, brother of the king, received an excellent stewardship education and is unmarried. The prince accepts to marry Alice on Guy’s terms. The young man makes such a fine impression on Guy that he becomes his steward when he arrives in the Free Counties.


Meanwhile, in Orient...