• 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

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Chapter 15

A New Dynamic (1135-1138)

A few months away from his majority, the Dauphin now sat on the throne. With the coronation of Richard began a new chapter in the dynasty’s history. The young king retained most of the diplomatic skills Guy taught him, but none of his patience. In fact, Richard’s anger bouts soon became legendary in Paris. While the new king remained in good spirits most of the time, he could easily be roused to unimaginable heights of fury if provoked intentionally. Later, Richard would use his own notoriety to warn his political opponents. Those who believed they could bully the young man and get away with it would soon dearly regret their pranks. One source stipulated that when the king’s face “turned as red as his beard”, it was time to get out of his sights.

“Do not tempt the wrath of France. Rousing the king’s ire is most unwise.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​

With that being said, it’s worth noting that Richard wasn’t remembered for his cruelty, but for his powerful personality. Not many people remained unscathed after crossing the angered king, but Richard seldom attacked without good reason. While he certainly was prone to violent bursts of choleric passions when pushed, Richard never brought undeserved harm to his fellow courtiers or the general populace. Quite the contrary, he lowered city taxes and funded the construction of several cities. As such, he was nicknamed “the Just” by his contemporaries after a particular event happened at one of his feasts. An energetic and driven man, Richard’s courtiers often found him overbearing to the point that they could hardly keep up with his ambitions. Eventually, the Anscarid learned to restrain his enthusiasm years later.


The annexation of Provence

Since his great-grandfather died before the Provence campaign ended, it was now up to Richard to finish it. Actually, he left the invasion plans to his Peers. The king had little interest in leading troops himself, preferring to groom the gardens of his residence in Melun. This particular behaviour piqued the curiosity of his contemporaries. After all, a king was supposed to lead his troops in times of war and train in times of peace. Richard was noted as a competent fighter, though he never led any battles himself. Instead, gardening soon became a dear hobby to Richard; it served as a cooling point whenever he went through one of his red furies, which happened on a frequent basis early in his reign. Eventually, his wisest councillors understood it was for the best not to test his patience.

In August 1135, the combined royal army occupied Vivarais. Next, the Franks proceeded smoothly across Provence, annexing every County without any opposition. The Kaiser had much bigger fish to fry in the east, namely the rebellion in Moravia and Italy.


No Grey Eminence sadly

The king turned 16 in October. Now an adult, Richard sought a worthy spouse. He chose a daughter of the Serene Doge of Venice, named Giulia Dandolo. The young girl earned the reputation of being a genius scholar and a devout Catholic. In addition, Giulia also showed a strong affirmative personality, much like the young man. Himself a fervent believer, Richard asked her hand in marriage, and the betrothal was signed. The marriage concluded in early 1136, sealing an alliance between France and Venice. Giulia soon became pregnant the following summer. Blessed, Richard happily praised his new spouse to his court.


She's the brains, I'm the brawn

“King Richard sure is a curious mix: a beard as red as fire, passionate as a bright flame, strong as a brazier, warm like a gentle bonfire. Mayhap I’ll name him Firebeard in our private moments.”
- Giulia, Queen of France​

(It’s worth noting that while Richard was a faithful spouse, he often argued with his strong-willed wife. Reading about his personal interactions, it would have indeed taken a strong woman to live by his side.)​


Provence is occupied with a small bonus

The invasion of Provence was complete in December 1136. The Kaiser never sent his army west, barely able to contain his rebelling vassals. Pressed on too many fronts, he ceded the duchy to France. Grateful, Bishop Pons-Guilhèm praised the young king with many blessings. While the Holy Roman Empire shook from within, Richard took the opportunity to usurp the Duchy of Flanders from Prince Sieghard. However, the young king couldn’t celebrate just yet.


Tsk tsk tsk...

Ill rumours were brewing among his vassals. Whispers talked about a possible rebellion against the crown, aiming to install a member of the disgraced Bourgogne dynasty on the throne. The rumours were effectively confirmed by Richard’s spies. The hot-headed king flew into a red rage, demanding the names of the conspirators. The strongest supporter, Duke Bohemond of Orléans, recently fell into disgrace in the eyes of the bishops who requested his excommunication. Having a perfectly valid reason to get rid of him, Richard sent the Durendal to Orléans to arrest him on the spot. Next, Duke Thomas of Valois, the one man who previously supported Guy I’s claim on the throne, now plotted against his great-grandson. The young king was not amused.

“I’ll have you covered in chains by the Durendal himself if you do not stop your little scheming! We are the voice of France, bestowed by God! Do you dare oppose the Divine Grace?!”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


The Duke of Valois submits to Richard

According to the records of the Anscarids, Richard personally visited the duke without announcing himself. When he arrived, the king’s anger only grew as he forcibly threatened Thomas to cease his scheming against him. The older and much physically stronger duke recoiled in front of the wrathful king. Richard made it clear that he would not be intimated by his vassals under any condition. Furthermore, he told the duke that he already arrested Bohemond on charge of excommunication and possible treason. Thomas agreed to bend the knee, demanding pardon. Richard’s anger then disappeared, forgiving his fickle vassal. Anger is a short folly, as they say. Nevertheless, the king’s anger discouraged his other vassals from plotting against him, at least, for the time being.


The Dauphin is born

In January 1137, Giulia gave birth to a son, André. France welcomed her new Dauphin warmly. With the succession strengthened and his vassals pacified, Richard now intended to start what his predecessor couldn’t: re-conquer the southern cities under Genoa’ jurisdiction.


Genoa avoids combat while the Paladins continue east

With the arrival of spring, Genoa met with unexpected visitors: the Paladins. Béziers came under attack in March, hardly pressed against the young king’s forces. The Doge retaliated the following month, gathering his troops and preparing for the inevitable confrontation. With the city firmly under control, the Paladins withdrew, waiting for the main host to join them in Rouergue. Curiously, the Italians marched past Béziers, advancing further south in Iberia. The way east was now clear. Roland’s Chosen advanced to Nîmes, who fell in July. The Franks crossed the kingdom’s border into Nice. Seeing an overwhelming force nearing Genoa, the Doge hastily surrendered to Richard. Béziers was brought back into France’s suzerainty.


Genoa is like a fly buzzing around my head


Curses!

Unsatisfied, the young king sought a bigger challenge. One County remained under control of the united crowns of England and Norway: Eu. Once more, France gathered her forces to march north. With the hostilities properly given against Erlend I, Richard anticipated a fierce confrontation soon. Of course, he was confident that he would prevail just like his great-grandfather did years ago. Then, words of disaffection reached his ears. Count Alphonse of Charolais rallied some anti-royalist partisans in his stronghold, plotting secretly against Richard. As soon as he caught wind of the rumours, the king hastily acted. He sent the Durendal to Charolais, ordering him to bring back Alphonse to Paris in chains. The Count outmaneuvered the marshal and skillfully evaded capture. Now branded a traitor by the crown, Alphonse’s days were in short supply.

“How dare the Count of Charolais hinder my northern campaign! He will soon learn that the king’s wrath seethes and never let go of his enemies!”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


The campaign for Eu underway

Confident he could prevail against Norway and his traitorous vassal, Richard charged forward. A smaller contingent was promptly dispatched to Charolais while the main host assaulted Eu. The meager Count assembled a ragtag force, but found itself quickly cornered against the secondary royal army. At the battle of Autun, the Count’s army was routed effortlessly. Charolais was now under siege by Richard’s army.


The united crowns of Norway and England are now divided

More good news arrived in Paris. King Erlend I died on the 14th of December 1138. His only son being already dead, Norway passed to his daughter Sigrid. However, England’s succession laws forbade a woman to inherit the crown. As such, England’s new king was now Arnkjell, his infant grandson. Richard dutifully observed what his great-grandfather Guy warned him about: the division of land between successors. Norway lost a solid fraction of its territories and manpower due to different succession laws between crowns. Richard learned the lesson well: he vowed to modify the Salic law as was strongly suggested in the Will of the Anscarids. France could not afford to repeat the same mistake, especially with a neighbor as strong as the Holy Roman Empire.


Had I known, I would have waited and married this young beauty instead...

“Great-grandfather had been right. As Clovis' sons reigned over divided lands, so shall Norway's strength be divided among his children. I will not make the same mistake."
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​
 

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Chapter 16​

North and East (1139-1143)

Without England’s military to back them, the table had turned on Norway against France. Worse, the new infant king soon found himself alone against an English coalition demanding the restoration of the fallen Godwin dynasty back on the throne. Richard’s offensive went as planned, albeit with greater victory expectations. By February 1139, Eu was now under siege by the French. All that remained was the arrival of the Norwegian army.


He can meditate on his errors in prison

Regarding the Charolais rebellion, things looked grim for the Count. His residence in Charolles fell to Richard’s army in March. Eventually, the Count was captured in June and sent to prison. The meager rebellion had been crushed. Count Alphonse faced trial in front of the royal couple, where the king proclaimed his sentence.

“None shall doubt the king’s justice. Nor shall I be cruel. You can rule Charolais from your cell. Let it be known that the King of France is just and fair.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


Norway makes landfall

With the arrival of summer came the Norwegians in northern France. With all the Eu holdings under French control in July, the main host advanced towards the Scandinavians camped in Boulogne. At the battle of Hesdin, the royal army inflicted a crippling defeat on the Norwegians. Battered and broken, the remnants were mercilessly pursued and slaughtered afterwards. Queen Sigrid sent more minimal forces as reinforcements, but they were also brutally repelled.


A second son is born

In November 1139, a second son is born named Richard.


The war ends

While Eu remained under French occupation, Norway refused to concede defeat. In September 1140, Sigrid I sent another army to France. However, they proved no match against the combined might of the Paladins and the royal infantry. Running out of patience, the hot-blooded king made preparations for an invasion of the Norwegian holdings situated in south-western England. Witnessing the arrival of several ships within sight of Cornwall, Sigrid vied for peace, ceding Eu to France.

Years before, Guy the 1st had conquered the distant County of Castellon from the Muslims. Under Richard, the inhabitants had mostly converted to Catholicism. This pleased greatly Pope Sylvester IV, although that wouldn’t prevent the two men from bickering years later. For the time being, Richard maintained good relations with the Holy Father.

Contrasting with Richard’s good relations with the head of the Catholic Church, the new Kaiser Ekbert I was excommunicated. Seizing the opportunity to humiliate the weakened Holy Roman Empire, King Anders I of Denmark invaded, demanding he abdicated the crown to someone more worthy. Richard also jumped into the fray. His target was the recapture of the County of Gévaudan, who had been lost to the empire during the 18 Year War.

While the Holy Roman Empire was under attack from the north, it still remained a formidable political faction. Requesting aid from his father-in-law, the Doge of Venice, Richard prepared his forces and awaited a positive reply. Venice agreed to send help. However, the Italians found themselves under attack by the Byzantine Empire, who desired territories inside the now defunct Kingdom of Croatia. Those lands were under control of Venice at the time. The Basileus Bosporios I brought such a large force that Venice was unable to join the French on the western front.


Twin boys are born

Giulia gave birth to twin boys, named Alphonse and Guy. With so many sons this quick, the young king flattered his virility and the fertility of his wife greatly, believing it a blessing from God.


Battle of Montbrison

Richard predicted that the Germans would focus on the weaker Danish forces first before they would march west. He was wrong. Ekbert saw the French as the bigger threat and quickly gathered an army. As soon as March, a large army was already near Forez, on the western frontier. Richard had appointed the Paladins as the spearhead of his offensive. While his infantry core occupied Gévaudan, the Just firmly believed his heavy knights would crush the Germans without breaking a sweat. A smaller infantry division joined the cavalry in Forez, where the battle was expected to happen. The two armies clashed in April, where the Franks awaited the Kaiser’s army on the hills of Montbrison. What the Peers didn’t know at the time, was that the Holy Roman Empire brought their own heavy cavalry contingent.


My Paladins... lost?!

While the battle began in favour of Richard, his Peers’ overconfidence blinded them. The plan was to delay their opponents who were climbing the hill on the centre and right, while Roland’s Chosen were stationed on the left, waiting for the opportunity to outflank them. However, the French’s right flank took many more losses than the left and centre, before the knights could position on the side. Pressing his advantage, the Germans ordered their heavy cavalry to charge the right, where the poor French commander soon became overwhelmed by this reckless charge. While the French centre held firmly on the hill, they were completely taken by surprise on their right flank. Unable to take advantage of their knights’ powerful charge, they found themselves encircled, charged by the powerful German knights. Eventually, the retreat was called. Most of the Paladins were killed during the battle. A mere skeleton force fled back to France, demoralized.

Scholars theorized that the Peers waited too long before calling the charge on the left. With a mixed force of infantry and cavalry, the commanders became confused and unsure which strategy to issue their forces. One such theory proposed that had the Franks charged in immediately, the Germans’ charge on the right would have been utterly crushed. History showed us that the Kaiser’s army struck first, catching the French completely by surprise on the right.

A scout hastily reported the Paladins’ defeat to Richard. Understandably, the king could barely believe that his elite force had been crushed so easily. He quickly recovered, for there was no time to lose. The German knights crossed the French border and were pursuing the broken Paladins. Richard ordered the Durendal to gather his remaining forces. They had to avoid combat with the Holy Roman Empire until their full force had been gathered.

“As usual, the king groomed his personal garden outside, as he did every day during the warm seasons. A scout appeared, kneeled before the king. Had I been deaf, I could have seen the king’s anger from my window. Had I been blind, I could have heard the king’s words. Seeing my beloved husband angry didn’t impress me, but witnessing the urgency he ran back inside made me uneasy.”
- Giulia, Queen of France​


Fly you fools!

The Paladins were on the run after the debacle in Forez. Outrunning the Teutonic knights, they managed to rejoin the main royal army stationed in Gévaudan the next autumn. The Germans gave up the chase, instead sieging the County of Auvergne.


Sparks between Richard and Sylvester IV

As if the king couldn’t receive more bad news, an envoy from the Pope arrived. The Papacy requested Richard to curb to the Church Doctrine, allowing the Pope to appoint bishops in France. As Guy did in the past, an angered Richard refused. He argued that France was the protector of Christianity and as such, it was the Papacy that was dependent on his support, not the reverse.

“We are grateful for France’s cooperation against the infidels. However, the domains of the spiritual must be in the hands of the messenger of God. We hope you understand the situation, noble king, especially concerning our cordial relations. After all, we would dislike having to excommunicate France’s ruler like we had to do for the Holy Roman Empire...”
- Pope Sylvester IV​

“I’ll have you know that testing my patience is unwise. As ever, we have been the vanguard of Christ! As my great-grandfather already told your predecessor, we remain masters in our own realm. Do not tempt the wrath of France.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​

In reality, the Papacy was in a much stronger position now than a few centuries before. The Pagans had long converted to Christianity and the Pope himself trained a permanent army in Rome. Still, Richard’s refusal displeased Sylvester IV greatly. While the two men improved relations recently, it sourly went south once more.



Richard's remaining forces

In the summer of 1142, Gévaudan is fully occupied by the main host. Bolstered with the remaining Paladins, the French army moved back to France to intercept the German knights. Noticing the Franks returning from Gévaudan, the Kaiser’s army withdrew to Forez, triggering a chase between the two forces. Eventually, they met and fought at the battle of Charlieu, where the Imperial army suffered a costly defeat.


That's more like it

News spread quickly of the French victory. With the Imperial army greatly weakened with the loss of its heavy cavalry, the Kaiser’s vassals saw an opportunity to attack their liege. In Genève, a neighboring county, Count Jordain led a revolt against Ekbert I. However, the Kaiser was victorious on the northern front against Denmark and he hurried his forces back south to deal with the traitors. A large army was seen within sights of Vivarais where the French were now stationed, but the two forces never engaged. An uneasy standoff between the two nations imposed a cold bloodless confrontation.


The northern Imperial army returns from Denmark

In August, Richard’s army cautiously moved to Vienne. Still, the two armies did not engage. After suppressing the Count’s meager army, the Teutonic army focused on recapturing the rebellious holdings from the Genovese coalition.


A daughter!

A daughter is born to the d’Ivrea house, Mathilde, in July.


Warring against the HRE is such a pain...

After a long campaign and heavy losses, Gévaudan was secured back into France’s domain. Tensions remained with the Papacy and Richard’s victory exhausted France’s army for the time being...


Pope Sylvester IV is not amused
 

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Doesn't look like you'll have to deal with Sylvester much longer though, since he has Syphilis. Hopefully his replacement will be friendlier to French interests.
Well, I wouldn't want to spoil the next chapters... but no and yes.
 

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Anti-pope?

Nothing says screw you more, than barging into Rome and forcing someone onto St. Peter's throne.
 

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Anti-pope?

Nothing says screw you more, than barging into Rome and forcing someone onto St. Peter's throne.
And have them excommunicate each other for the lolz! But who knows what will happen next?

Next update will take a while longer. I read Futomato's post about his corrupted save so I've been pushing my game before the Old Gods arrive. Just a little more...
 

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Been reading for a while, thanks for the AAR, the whole different coloured quotes thing is a nice touch.
Many thanks, I should be thanking you for reading, not being thanked! I'll be sure to check out your AAR as well. I should be in 1453 in a few days. Then, I can start writing more regularly. A little more... Blasted Timurids slowing me down...
 

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Chapter 17​

Frictions (1144-1147)​

Emboldened with his victory over the Holy Roman Empire, Richard sought to expand the kingdom’s frontier further west. He continued the campaign for the conquest of Brittany that had been started by his great-grandfather. To validate his ambition, the young king invited a noble Breton, Gralon mab Guérech, who was a claimant to the County of Vannes. Arriving in Paris, Gralon was warmly received by Richard. Even more, Richard stripped Charolais from his wayward vassal Alphonse and graciously handed the title to his new Breton vassal. The ceremony had two goals: one, to demonstrate that France would be the de jure liege of the Breton people in the near future. Two, Richard planned to make the Duchy of Brittany de facto a vassal of France by force if needed.

“The king’s justice remains just and fair. However, Charolais will be better governed under a loyal Count. Regencies tend to invite trouble after all.”
- Richard I "the Just d'Ivrea, King of France​

The new Count of Charolais accepted his new title without realizing that the king’s generosity acted accordingly with his ambitious campaign in Brittany. Now armed with a valid casus belli against the independent Bretons, Richard declared war against Duke Alan IV “the Unready”, triggering a long term campaign to assimilate Brittany into France.


The diminishing Duchy of Brittany

In March 1144, the French entered Brittany, clashing with the duke’s forces at the battle of St.Brieue. The ensuing battle resulted in a crushing defeat for the Bretons. They were pursued to St.Malo where they were completely destroyed. Several strongholds on the frontier were then sieged and captured by the Franks.


The Gardener King

With the arrival of spring, Richard began working on his personal garden, which would later be called the royal gardens of Melun. An accomplished gardener, the Just groomed such a magnificent garden that his fellow courtiers gave up questioning the king’s virility. While Richard loathed leading his troops and witnessing warfare directly, he nonetheless governed a dynamic and warring reign.


Another daughter!

In May 1144, Queen Giulia gave birth to a daughter named Esclarmonde.


Future problems...

While the Brittany campaign proceeded smoothly, other events inside his own realm preoccupied Richard. The infant Duke Guilhèm IX of Aquitaine triumphed over his younger brother Berenguié I of Auvergne, recuperating much of their father’s inheritance. The Duchies of Bourbon and Gascogne were once more part of Aquitaine. Guilhèm was Richard’s strongest vassal and could potentially challenge the king’s rule once the regency ended. While the Just wasn’t intimidated, he took the news very seriously. Aquitaine remained a serious power in the south and should he decide to overthrow Richard, the ensuing battle would prove fierce.

“I must find a way to undermine Aquitaine’s power, lest he’d rather face the king’s wrath instead of my generosity.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


One less County for you

Back on the north-western campaign, several Breton strongholds fell to the French in autumn. Without any means of fighting back, Alan IV surrendered in October, ceding Vannes to Count Gralon.


Winter feast

Queen Giulia became pregnant again on the first sight of snow. In great spirits, Richard announced a winter feast to be held in Paris. He invited all his vassals, hired several entertainers and spent sumptuously on food and wine. During the feast, Richard remained extremely joyful and gregarious with his guests. However, a tragic incident happened.


The Just

Bishop Guichard of Avignon, probably drunk at the time, flew into frenzy when a servant spilled wine over his clothes. He grabbed a nearby knife and drove it into the poor man’s throat. Many nobles seated at the table merely laughed at the incident or applauded the bishop on avenging his honour, but not Richard.

“Lord Father spent a wonderful evening with Mother, my brothers and sisters, I and all our guests. He laughed, ate and told pleasantries to everyone present. Then, the incident happened... King Richard’s face became as red as his beard. I believe this was his greatest anger I ever witnessed.”
- André d'Ivrea, Dauphin of France​

According to Prince André’s future memoirs, the king, outraged with the bishop’s behaviour, left his seat and quickly walked towards Guichard. He then grabbed him by his collar and yelled continuous blasphemes at the priest. Scandalized that a holy man spilled blood during his feast, Richard summoned the Durendal to the banquet, ordering him to send him to the dungeon, much to the uneasiness of his guests. Then, the young king walked back to his seat and pronounced Guichard unfit to be a representative of God. It is because of this particular event that Richard I was nicknamed “the Just” by his contemporaries.


Yet another son

A son, Jourdain, was born in spring 1145.


Genoa is no.2 on my hate list

The Republic of Genoa elected a new Doge, Manuele I, in August 1145. Once more, Richard campaigned south to reclaim the last city held by the Italian republic, Nîmes. Already in autumn, the royal army captured the city. Near Christmas, the French faced the Genoans at the battle of Marseille in Provence, where the Italians were defeated. Next January, Richard’s forces moved to Nice, Genoa’s neighbour.


Pillage, loot, plunder and victory

Richard continued the march east after the occupation of Nice. Genoa was sacked by the Franks. The loot acquired would increase the royal treasury for future campaigns. By the end of summer, the Doge hired mercenaries in a futile attempt to counter the French. They were brutally defeated. Finally, Manuele I relinquished the city’s keys to Richard in August.


Republic drama

Immediately after, Richard’s father-in-law, the Doge of Venice, requested he launched an embargo war against the Republic of Pisa. Venice proposed to finance the war and even insured the war repair costs should the enterprise failed. The king reluctantly accepted, thinking it an easy occasion to gain more gold, since the only trade post held by Pisa inside France was in Rosello.

“These merchants disgust me. All for the sake of gold, they would sell their daughters, betray their mothers and send their sons to executioners. Still, gold has no odor and one can never have enough gold.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


Trade zone of southern France

And so, another war was declared for Richard. While the king went from victory to victory, his vassals found their liege excruciating. War fatigue began to weigh heavily for the French army. Still, the king persevered. To his genuine shock, he would eventually understand that not everyone was able to keep up with his tremendous ambitions. Years later, the king would listen to his council’s advice to allow his army time to recover their strength between each war and to restrain his ambitions for the sake of his vassals’ well-being.


War weariness...

In September 1146, Pisa sent a meager force to secure the trade post. Needless to say, the post was seized by the Paladins in October. Pisa counter-attacked by sending a large force to recapture the trade post. Richard was forced to pull back the Paladins and had to gather an army, much to the annoyance of his vassals.


Pisa is defeated

The Pisans retook the trade post in early 1147, but Richard’s army marched south with fresh troops. In May, the major battle of Perpinyà was won by the royal army flanked by the Paladins and their Venetians allies.


What a grave mistake...

At the height of his victory came grave news in Paris. A messenger of the Holy Father arrived, proclaiming that Pope Sylvester IV excommunicated King Richard at the behest of the Duke of Brittany. His whole court expected the king to burst in righteous anger as was his usual response. However, he didn’t. Stunned, the king merely slumped back on the throne, unable to utter a word. After a few moments, he dismissed the court and retreated to his office with his wife and council.

Bewildered, Richard didn’t want to believe he had been excommunicated. A fervent believer, the Just argued with his council that he had been appointed king by God, that he was the defender of Christianity, that he was a good Christian, to no avail. Pope Sylvester IV had chosen his side. After listening to his council and the queen’s recommendations, Richard regained his fire. He summoned the Papal emissary back to the throne room where he rebuked the Pope’s decision in front of his entire court. The tranquil fury Richard manifested drove fear into the messenger’s heart.

“I no longer view Sylvester IV as the rightful messenger of God. Tell him he will no longer benefit from France’s protection. Tell him he had been warned not to tempt the wrath of France. Tell him that his days are now numbered. Tell him that the king’s anger seethes and will not stop until his imposture is deposed.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


The Anti-Pope Sisinnius II

Even Richard’s court was surprised by his audacity, but the king was not done. He ceremoniously appointed the bishop of St.Denis as the new Pope of France, named Sisinnius II. The messenger, scared beyond measures, hurried back to Rome...

“When the king proclaimed the words to the treacherous messenger of Rome, I held his hand in mine. He looked at me, pressed my hand harder, and smiled. I pity the false Pope for what will be coming to him.”
- Giulia Dandolo, Queen of France​
 

Comm Cody

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Called it.
 

CrackedUp247

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Shall the King march on Rome for Sisinnius? Also, any idea how much added taxes Sissinius is earning you as Anti-Pope?
 

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Called it.
That's only the first phase! Now to actually dethrone the Holy Father and put my newest best friend on it to complete the circle...

Shall the King march on Rome for Sisinnius? Also, any idea how much added taxes Sissinius is earning you as Anti-Pope?
Since Richard is a man of action, you can bet on it. My Anti-Pope works just like any other bishop, since my other bishop vassals either pay taxes to me or the Pope in Rome. They all prefer me anyway, so no changes there. The real power of the Anti-Pope is being able to excommunicate anyone in my realm...
 

Mithfir

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Chapter 18​

Pope and Anti-Pope (1148-1150)​

“Blasphemy! To go against the Holy Father is to defy God Himself! Only the eternal flames of Hell await you, fallen king!”
- Pope Sylvester IV​


Dissension is on the rise

With the appointment of his new Anti-Pope, Richard’s excommunication was promptly lifted. However, not all his vassals approved the nomination of Sisinnius II. Notably, the dukes of Normandy and Aquitaine both recognized Sylvester IV as the rightful Pope. Worse, a new faction rose. One who aimed to install Prince Ancel, a son of Guy I and Duchess Ælfgifu, as king. Count Guillaume de Boulogne recruited Normandy and Aquitaine into his fold. Together, they brought more than half of France under their banner. Unwilling to spill the blood of his kinsman, Richard aimed his anger towards his fickle vassals.


Having an Anti-Pope sure is convenient

The impulsive ruler quickly took action. He ordered his puppet Pope to excommunicate the dukes, giving him a legitimate reason to arrest them. Richard was still in the middle of a war and he had to concentrate on the Republic of Pisa foremost. At the very least, the war was highly in his favour. Barcelona, a region under Pisan jurisdiction, fell to the royal army. The tenacious Doge refused to concede defeat against the embargo. Believing that Count Guillaume was too weak to revolt on his own, the king intended to keep true to his promise. That is, to depose Sylvester IV and instate Sisinnius II on the throne of God.


The war against Pisa ends

Besides, having two heads of the Church excommunicating each other only undermined the authority of the Catholic faith. Believers split into two camps, tensions rose, arguments became disputes... Worse, there could be a full all-out war inside his realm in the name of God. Richard knew he had to quickly fix this problem. Without any choice left, he negotiated peace with Pisa. With the embargo lifted, Pisa maintained its meager trade zone in southern France. With the rebellion nipped in the bud and Pisa pacified, Richard made preparations for a campaign in Italy. Along with his mother, wife and children, he visited Guy’s tomb inside the royal chapel and prayed for forgiveness for what he was about to do. Countess Éléonore of Thouars, Richard’s mother, gave the king encouragements. After all, he had to succeed if he were to stabilize the kingdom.


All that's missing are Latin choirs

“I wasted enough time with the faithless Italian merchants and the traitorous nobles. Now, there’s an impostor to get rid of on the Holy Throne. I can only hope that Great-grandfather will approve of my actions.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​

In April 1148, Sisinnius II openly excommunicated Sylvester IV. Pronouncing a lengthy sermon in the Abbey of St.Denis, the royal chapel, the Anti-Pope fired up Richard’s Paladins, granting them blessings and a promise of victory in the redemption of Sylvester’s soul. Gorged with fanatic fervor, the Peers set out for the long march to Rome. Richard then declared war against the Papacy, arguing that Sylvester IV was a false representative of God on Earth. Unimpressed, Pope Sylvester IV rebuffed the declaration, believing that the other kings of Europe would quickly rally to him. To his surprise and horror, none of the other Christian rulers came to his aid. Still, the Papacy maintained a permanent army itself in Latium, and the Holy Father had gold to spare should the Franks appeared in front of Rome.

“March to Rome! Depose the impostor! God and France will it! Do not stop until the Divine Will has been executed!”
- Sisinnius II, Anti-Pope of France


I didn't expect such a large army

By November, Richard’s army reached Italy, where they first clashed with the Papacy’s army at the battle of Rusellae. While both armies were nearly evenly matched, France’s heavy cavalry proved too much for the Italian troops. Successive pursuits annihilated Sylvester’s faithful. The Pope quickly spent gold to hire fresh troops, to no avail. Each regiment was beaten swiftly by the Franks. At the very least, Sylvester hoped he could buy time long enough to wear down the invaders.


France in 1149


The rebels occupy Amiens

While Richard’s forces campaigned far in Italy, Count Guillaume went through with his scheme to install Prince Ancel on the throne, despite the loss of Normandy and Aquitaine’s support. As such, in March 1149, a new civil war sparked inside France. To compensate, he convinced the Duke of Champagne to lend him his aid. Caught by surprise with his full forces far from home, Richard had no choice but to hire sell swords to defend the realm. The infuriated king would show no mercy to the traitors. No matter how many times he threatened his opponents not to provoke him, few seemed to understand the warning. Richard’s iron will refused to curb on both fronts.

By April, the Papacy’s cards were completely played out. Sylvester IV’s hired mercenaries, even with a full papal blessing to expel the French heathens from Italy, were routed again and again. Indeed, the royal army made quick work of them. With Richard’s army moving ever closer to Rome, a panicked Sylvester sought refuge in the cathedral of Orbetello.

The cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, where Sylvester IV sought refuge​

“I may be sick and defeated, but I remain the true Pope! I shall die as one even if you request my head!”
- Pope Sylvester IV​


Richard's mercenaries are defeated

Meanwhile, the Just’s mercenaries confronted the rebels at the battle of Beauvais in the summer of 1149. While they managed to inflict heavy losses on Guillaume’s army, they had to retreat after the 3rd wave overpowered their defensive line. The rebels managed to capture the holdings of Péronne and Amiens unopposed. Unable to risk another offensive against the rebels directly, the sell swords entered Chartres, a rebellious stronghold.


Another son

Gargamel is born to Giulia in October 1149.


Come out come out and play...

Eventually, the Franks pierced the gates of Orbetello after a long siege, where they found a sickly and bedridden Sylvester inside the cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta (at the time, he was inflicted with syphilis, a virulent disease). Richard’s orders were clear. The poor Pope was thrown outside like a vulgar beggar in his undergarments. Then, the Paladins escorted him back to Rome, where he was publicly humiliated, stripped of his pontificate and officially deposed. The grateful Sisinnius II was then appointed as the one true Pope of the Catholics in April 1150. Further weakened from the treatment he received at the hands of Richard’s army, the miserable Sylvester then returned to his family in Venice, where he died days later from his dreaded illness. From this point on, the successive Popes during the Middle Ages all originated from France.


Pope Sisinnius II

The drawback is several Popes fabricated claims on the County of Paris, much to my annoyance... I had chosen Sisinnius from my bishopric in Paris, silly me... Having the title claimant penalty on the Pope's opinion is quite frustrating.


Prince Richard and King Richard

“Father, if God truly appointed the Pope as his representative on Earth and if we really are the defenders of Christ, why aren’t we getting along?”
- Richard d'Ivrea, Prince of France​

While these events turned out to be a victory for Richard, his faith had been violently shaken. The young king wondered if God truly engineered what was going to happen or if it had merely been a power struggle between men of influence. Judging by his growing cynicism later in his reign, it is safe to assume that Richard’s fervor declined the older he got. In fact, his own son Prince Richard’s questions further shook his beliefs. Since the king tutored both the Dauphin André and the younger Richard, their influence eventually triggered a demeanour change inside the Just. Ironically, his second son would become more pious as the years went by while the king grew more cynical with age. André, on the other hand, remained a devout Catholic and seemed more apt as a priest than as a ruler much to his father’s future disappointment. In fact, Richard held both his two eldest sons in contempt based on future events. Perhaps the king saw in his two sons different sides of a coin. In the end, it was Richard the younger who influenced the king the most regarding matters of the Church.

As he matured, Richard I became bitter and cynical. Preferring to groom the royal gardens instead of interfering directly with clerical affairs, his own entries in the Will of the Anscarids clearly show a change over the years. A fervent believer and devoted follower in his youth, Richard evolved into a cynical Christian. He even went as far as name the Papacy a masquerade in his last reigning years.

“From a child’s truth came doubt and more questions. I see myself in André when I was a young man and now I see in Richard what I’m becoming. I cannot stop thinking about what my son asked me.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


Where was I? Oh yes...

Victorious in Italy, the royal army hurried back to France. The rebels under Count Guillaume completed the sacking of Amiens and marched closer to Paris. Instead of sieging the castle of Melun where Richard and his family resided, Guillaume’s forces advanced further south where Richard’s mercenaries were occupying Blois. In August 1150, Richard’s mercenaries were routed by the rebels. Guillaume pressed the attack, for the victorious Peers were back on French soil...
 

Idhrendur

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Oh, goodness, several updates while I was away. Good times! Or hard times? Nevertheless, an interesting playthrough!
 

Mithfir

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Too bad Sisinnius wasn't the Bishop of Avignon before becoming Pope. Does Avignon exist as a Bishopric in game? I can't remember.
It sure does! Check out the County of Vivarais in south-east France/HRE.

Oh, goodness, several updates while I was away. Good times! Or hard times? Nevertheless, an interesting playthrough!
A bit of both. Richard's main problem is when he fixes a problem, a new one pops almost instantly.
 

Mithfir

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Jan 4, 2013
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Chapter 19​

Respite (1150-1155)​


The main rebel force is defeated

Sensing the chokehold closing on him, Guillaume requested Count Guiges of Chalons’ assistance, which he obtained in autumn 1150. However, not even Chalons had enough strength to resist the king’s wrath. With Richard’s veterans back inside the kingdom, the mercenaries joined the royal army. Their combined strength confronted the rebels at the battle of Beaugency, where the dissidents were killed to the last. Following the battle, only Champagne’s forces remained unaccounted for. In great haste, Richard’s army moved against the duke’s army situated in Vendôme. At the battle of Lavardin, no mercy was given against Champagne.


Champagne's army is destroyed


And Chalons as well

The king’s wrath pressed on. Chalons, who recently went into revolt against Richard, was next on the list. No quarters were given against Count Guiges: every single fighter was slaughtered to the last. In February 1151, things looked desperate for the rebel faction. Count Guillaume pleaded to Richard, demanding pardon for his actions. The king remained deaf to his pleas, but he sent a vindictive reply.

“You have chosen your path, Count Guillaume. Now, take responsibility for your actions. You should have known, like every other noble in France, who you are dealing with by now.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France​


I admire their tenacity

A ragtag remnant force recklessly moved to Paris in a last ditch effort to oppose Richard. Angered with such audacity, Richard prudently ordered the meager force to be utterly crushed. The Just sent messages to his Peers, instructing them not to return to Paris until they captured Guillaume and his allies.


The rebellion ends

The royal army recaptured the strongholds of Péronne, Beauvais and Amiens the following summer. By August, Boulogne was under assault. Champagne dared an outflanking manoeuvre, but the Peers weren’t duped. Richard’s mercenaries recklessly pursued the duke’s remaining forces until their blood thirst was quenched. After a long siege of several months, Boulogne surrendered to Richard. Count Guillaume’s rebellion had been quelled.

In January 1152, not long after the holidays’ feast, the three wayward nobles were brought to Paris, as the king requested. A furious Richard greeted them sarcastically, praising his prodigal sons’ return to France. He then proceeded, to no one’s surprise, to verbally abuse each of the culprits. Queen Giulia reproached the king about making a pathetic show out of him. The king didn’t care. He merely replied that it was a small price to pay to vent his anger. Richard’s terrible red furies were reputed to last days after the initial storm. Some contemporaries mentioned that they could hear the king’s words resonating in the royal chapel for a week. After an interminable scolding, the Just proclaimed his sentence. Boulogne, Chalons and Reims were revoked, with the previous holders firmly kicked to the dungeon for the rest of their lives. Richard intended to grant one title to Dauphin André as a wedding gift.


War fatigue

At this point, Richard intended to carry on his goal of annexing Brittany into France. The bashful ruler never forgot Duke Alan IV’s appeal to have him excommunicated years before. However, his council boldly suggested the king to wait a few years until the truce expired. At the very least, the royal army needed to replenish their numbers. Also, repeated wars exhausted their morale and even the strongest man had to rest before exerting its full strength. Reluctantly, the king conceded to his council’s arguments. He also banned private wars inside France, stipulating that the country deserved a momentarily respite. What Richard didn’t mention is he also wanted to make clear that his authority was first and foremost. While Richard’s vassals weren’t fully convinced, they remained loyal and calm, much to the populace’s relief.

With his vassals and his council nearly begging Richard to not declare an offensive war so soon, the impulsive sovereign focused his considerable energy on internal affairs first and on familial matters second. The following years proved more peaceful for the nation, as fewer sources cited events happening inside France or near its borders. Most likely, Richard focused on grooming his famous garden and tutoring his eldest two sons who were budding teenagers.

“Had I have my way, I would gladly abdicate the throne and devote my life to the spiritual arts. To my own chagrin, I became a puppet in the grand theater of Frankish politics, with my father as the puppet master.”
- André d'Ivrea, Dauphin of France​


Where did that Theologian trait come from?


She'll make a man out of him. Hopefully.

The Dauphin came of age in January 1153. To Richard’s disappointment, André held little interest in politics, preferring to spend most of his time studying the Bible or participating in theological debates with the bishops. The prince remained an astute and sharp mind, so the king tried to the best of his abilities to nudge André’s interests towards more pragmatic goals, in vain. Richard lamented that he raised a priest instead of a king. Not even his legendary temper dissuaded the Dauphin. Hoping that marrying a young woman might spur his virility, he concluded a betrothal with the 13 year old Duchess of Aragon, Milia I, a vassal of the powerful kingdom of Castille. With the alliance signed, Richard concluded a very favourable marriage for André, as it would bring a whole duchy into France without shedding blood. History would prove cruel to Richard years later, as his plans wouldn’t go as expected.

Prince Richard was the complete opposite of his elder. Ambitious, hard-working, cynical, pragmatic, albeit not as capable as André, Richard the younger yearned for his father’s attention to be recognized more favourably. Unfortunately for him, the king held him in contempt for most of his life, criticizing his awkward rhetorical skills and love for court intrigue. He nonetheless praised his diligence, since it gave him a slight hope that his son could improve. Ironically, both Richards shared many personality traits, further accentuating their shaky relationship.

“My eldest son and heir spend more time in pointless debates while my second son envies his brother for his intelligence and birth. As for me, I can only sigh that my eventual successor might not live to France’s expectations.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, King of France


If there was no limit on children, I think Giulia would have given me 20 kids

Giulia’s 9th pregnancy ended with the birth of another son, Gaucelin, on March 29th 1153.


Aquitaine's brother died childless

More news arrived to Richard. Duke Berenguié of Auvergne, the brother of the powerful Duke of Aquitaine, died childless. This meant that all his titles were inherited by his older brother. While Guilhèm was imprisoned by the king, Aquitaine had no children of his own either. Believing that his successor would be easier to deal with, Richard dismissed the news, confident that the young duke’s large demesne would be divided among his remaining kinsmen. Unfortunately for Richard, his prediction would prove false.


The male preference law is adopted

An important event took place in August 1154. Fulfilling his promise to Guy’s recommendation to change the succession law, Richard effectively modified the Salic law, allowing women to inherit the royal crown should a male heir was absent. The new law, also known as “male preference”, would eventually prove the wisdom of the Anscarids only centuries later, when Empress Mahaut I “the Enlightened Lady ” would inherit the crown in 1459, becoming the first female ruler of the d’Ivrea house. In the meantime, several nobles in France disapproved the new law, even if duchies could be inherited by women in the absence of a valid male heir. However, none was bold (or stupid) enough to challenge Richard’s rule again.


I smell an opportunity...

The 10 year truce with Brittany was officially expired in 1155. Richard had patiently waited and now he had found a perfect opportunity to cripple Duke Alan IV once again. The Breton duke’s army campaigned in Scotland, helping Queen Fingola I to defend her throne against rebellious vassals. Seizing the opportunity, Richard invited another Breton noble to Paris, Glen mab Budoc, and made him swear fealty by granting him the County of Reims. The very next day, Richard declared war, pushing Glen’s claim on the County of Cornouaille against Brittany.


Brittany contracts further

With his forces overseas, the Franks entered unopposed in Cornouaille. The Paladins were stationed in Rennes, where they began a long siege. By April, Cornouaille had been completely overrun by the royal army. The next month, Léon was sacked. Unable to rebuff the Franks, Alan surrendered Cornouaille to Glen. The diminished Duchy of Brittany was nearly halved under Richard’s rule. Arrogant in victory, Richard created a second crown, the kingdom of Aquitaine, to be added to the royal domain.


This might not have been a good idea

Finally, in September 1155, Duchess Milia celebrated her 16th birthday, thus becoming eligible to marriage. As he planned years ago, Richard granted the County of Chalons to his son André once the marriage was officially concluded.


The Dauphin is married