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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

aniuby

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Wow. I've finally read all of this fantastic AAR, and I'm reminded as to why I don't play CK2 all that much any more.

There are the good things - the heart-stopping action (especially under Guy), the risky wars, the clever political marriages, the unstoppable ascent from underage count to King and eventually Emperor, thrills which kept me on the edge of my seat and left me dreading the next gutsy move you'd try. And then there are the bad things which affected you - like the annoyingly singular Casus Belli system, easily invalidated wars, heirs making stupid marriages, and overpowered Republics seizing all the coastal towns, which are (in my opinion) some of the aspects of CK2's mechanics that really put me off what should be an otherwise fantastic game. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, and for that I'm glad that I'm the one reading about your triumphs and tribulations rather than the one playing =) How far ahead have you played?

I also like your faux-history book style of writing, interspersed with these really informal 'quotations' that might not be close to real medieval speech, but which serve to highlight the characters' natures and bring them to life to the present-day reader. As it is, too many established and aspiring history-book style authors take themselves and their writing far too seriously, and I'm really impressed by your innovative and individualistic style. And your writing is good enough that it really doesn't occur to me at all that English might not be your first language - are you a French Canadian, then?

I'll be following this from now on!
 

Mithfir

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Wow. I've finally read all of this fantastic AAR, and I'm reminded as to why I don't play CK2 all that much any more.

There are the good things - the heart-stopping action (especially under Guy), the risky wars, the clever political marriages, the unstoppable ascent from underage count to King and eventually Emperor, thrills which kept me on the edge of my seat and left me dreading the next gutsy move you'd try. And then there are the bad things which affected you - like the annoyingly singular Casus Belli system, easily invalidated wars, heirs making stupid marriages, and overpowered Republics seizing all the coastal towns, which are (in my opinion) some of the aspects of CK2's mechanics that really put me off what should be an otherwise fantastic game. It's a rollercoaster of emotions, and for that I'm glad that I'm the one reading about your triumphs and tribulations rather than the one playing =) How far ahead have you played?

I also like your faux-history book style of writing, interspersed with these really informal 'quotations' that might not be close to real medieval speech, but which serve to highlight the characters' natures and bring them to life to the present-day reader. As it is, too many established and aspiring history-book style authors take themselves and their writing far too seriously, and I'm really impressed by your innovative and individualistic style. And your writing is good enough that it really doesn't occur to me at all that English might not be your first language - are you a French Canadian, then?

I'll be following this from now on!
Oh jeez, comments like this make me blush... If you keep flattering me, I might be honour bound to write you a love letter in return. To answer your questions yes I am a French Canadian and I have played this game all the way up to 1453. All the main screenshots are taken as well, I just need to write it up. I know what is going to happen all the way to the end, and also made up some aftermath information beyond the Middle Ages. For example, Mahaut I "the Enlightened Lady" will be the first Empress of the family and she will ascend the imperial throne in 1459. A great patron of the arts, she sponsored many great budding artists and many painted her in gratitude. Even one made a nude to illustrate her great beauty and grace... (scandalous!) She has been spurned by her stupid husband as well, so when she took the throne, she got rid of him and kept many favourites at her side. Finally, she began the Paladins' transition from a heavy cavalry unit to a musketeer firearms unit. She's the eldest daughter of my last protagonist. I try not to give the spoilers right away (that wouldn't be fun), but I do give some subtle hints here and there...

As for the characters, I do play with the "right" choices in mind, but since they all have different stats and traits, I thought I could give them different personalities. I use the quotes to space the reading and catch the reader's attention with the different colours, while to give more life into the different characters. Yellow apparently is the one colour that is easiest to notice, which is why it's put on road signs. Guy has a high diplomacy score and he was always appointed as chancellor, so I made him this sneaky smooth bastard that everyone loves, despite his ambitious and manipulative nature. Except Renaud, but he failed against him, so hah! Richard has a lower diplomacy score, but still fairly high. He is gregarious, zealous (he becomes cynical later) and wroth at first, so he could be a very fun friend to be with, until you get in his way... He doesn't take crap from anyone and the way I played him reflects that I hope. My 3rd protagonist will be different from Guy and Richard as well. I just hope that the Old Gods doesn't corrupt my saves so that I can keep them as a reference in case I miss some information while writing...
 

Idhrendur

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Oh jeez, comments like this make me blush... If you keep flattering me, I might be honour bound to write you a love letter in return. To answer your questions yes I am a French Canadian and I have played this game all the way up to 1453. All the main screenshots are taken as well, I just need to write it up. I know what is going to happen all the way to the end, and also made up some aftermath information beyond the Middle Ages. For example, Mahaut I "the Enlightened Lady" will be the first Empress of the family and she will ascend the imperial throne in 1459. A great patron of the arts, she sponsored many great budding artists and many painted her in gratitude. Even one made a nude to illustrate her great beauty and grace... (scandalous!) She has been spurned by her stupid husband as well, so when she took the throne, she got rid of him and kept many favourites at her side. Finally, she began the Paladins' transition from a heavy cavalry unit to a musketeer firearms unit. She's the eldest daughter of my last protagonist. I try not to give the spoilers right away (that wouldn't be fun), but I do give some subtle hints here and there...

As for the characters, I do play with the "right" choices in mind, but since they all have different stats and traits, I thought I could give them different personalities. I use the quotes to space the reading and catch the reader's attention with the different colours, while to give more life into the different characters. Yellow apparently is the one colour that is easiest to notice, which is why it's put on road signs. Guy has a high diplomacy score and he was always appointed as chancellor, so I made him this sneaky smooth bastard that everyone loves, despite his ambitious and manipulative nature. Except Renaud, but he failed against him, so hah! Richard has a lower diplomacy score, but still fairly high. He is gregarious, zealous (he becomes cynical later) and wroth at first, so he could be a very fun friend to be with, until you get in his way... He doesn't take crap from anyone and the way I played him reflects that I hope. My 3rd protagonist will be different from Guy and Richard as well. I just hope that the Old Gods doesn't corrupt my saves so that I can keep them as a reference in case I miss some information while writing...
If you've got the hard drive space, you can simply make a copy of your CK2 install and use that to open the saves to review things. It also leaves you in better shape to convert the game to EU3, if that catches your fancy.
 

Mithfir

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If you've got the hard drive space, you can simply make a copy of your CK2 install and use that to open the saves to review things. It also leaves you in better shape to convert the game to EU3, if that catches your fancy.
What a great idea! You sir, are both a scholar and a gentleman. I did try out the EU3 converter and it copied the territories quite well, with one mistake in Ethiopia that I recall(named it Poland instead of Abyssinia). It changed my heir from my eldest daughter to my youngest instead, but from the looks of it, she got decent stats. I think she had 5-8-5... Is it good? I'm quite the EU3 noob so while I'll keep the save, I'd rather not play it until I get much better at the game.
 

Mithfir

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Chapter 24​

The Iberian Situation part 2 (1172-1177)​

With my backup saves, I can open my old saves and glean information as I did before. However, the game doesn't recognize the DLCs, which mean the portraits packs I used and the coats of arms are disabled. No Republic, no Sword of Islam, no Legacy of Rome and no Aztecs either. Sure is weird to see a Mongol Khan dressed like a Turkish Sultan... I don't want to push my luck by tampering with my second CK2 folder, so I'll just leave it be.

As a new emperor rose in the west, so did new challenges emerge for Richard. While Castille remained the strongest power in the north, Francia now established a solid foothold in Andalusia. The distant County of Castellon lay in the middle of the empire, cut off by all except sea. If the new emperor intended to reunite Castellon with the west and the east, he would have to fight through the various Muslims remaining in Iberia and through the Republic of Genoa. Also, Richard sent priest emissaries to convert his new Andalusian subjects. Those who refused to convert were expelled from his territories. A vast campaign began to expand Francia Occidentalis on the Iberian chessboard.

“My enemies are weak while my armies wait only my orders to strike. Tomorrow, our borders expand.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​


Richard makes landfall

In chess, the whites always move first against the blacks. As such, Richard placed a pawn against the Alcole Emirate, declaring war to seize the County of Qurtubah. The difference was while Richard had a full set of white pieces, Emir Rasiq “Ironside” had only 3 black pieces left, since he was already caught in a war against Mansa Soumaba I of Mali and an invasion from the Berber Company in Mauretania.



Curb-stomped

In November 1172, the imperial army made landfall in Andalusia, rapidly joining their troops to march east. At the battle of Galaroza, the emperor scored an easy victory. A meager Zikri army returned from North Africa a few months later, but they had no chance to counter the Franks. After capturing the fortress of Alcolea and the city of Qurtubah in December, Richard moved in to eradicate the remaining Muslims. More forces appeared in February 1174 and they faced the same fate as their predecessors at the battle of Écija.

It is around this time that André's second child was born: a daughter awoke in March, Mélisande d’Ivrea. The long awaited son had yet to be born, however. Mélisande would grow up in Aragon with her sister, and many years later she married Christopher Giffard, the future Duke of Somerset. The poor Dauphin didn’t manage to soothe his father with the birth of his second daughter; Richard desperately wanted André to sire a son to strengthen his line, despite his granddaughter Violante now ruling the Duchy of Aragon and her own brilliant future.

“I could see the disappointment in my father’s eyes when he learned about Mélisande’s birth. I can see, hear and feel every thought his courtiers send me. I can feel the whole kingdom leaning on my shoulders, urging me to give them this long awaited son.”
- André d'Ivrea, Dauphin of Francia​


Check-mate!

Out of breath, the Emir ceded Qurtubah to Francia in May 1174. The galvanized Franks continued their expansion by striking Sultan al’-Abbas I of the Almoravid Sultanate next. The County of Malaga was the next prize to be claimed by the Just.


The spitting image of Guy

Meanwhile, Bouchard d’Ivrea, son of Guy and Ælfgifu, became the new Duke of East Anglia. Ælfgifu was the one who led the revolt to depose the infant Danish king of England to re-install the Godwin dynasty on the throne. King Offa I regained the English throne at the old age of 73, reigning only for 2 years. The crown remained firmly in the control of the restored Godwins until the 15th century, aside from a brief period where a usurper from the de Vassy house claimed England in 1286. In any case, Ælfgifu had been greatly rewarded for her loyalty and was granted the Duchy of Orkney along with additional English territories. Once she died of old age, her large demesne passed on to her oldest son Bouchard which he would then transmit to six generations of Bouchards after his own death.


The tears of my enemies

Malaga fell in December 1174. Fully intending to destroy the Sultan’s forces in Mauretania, Richard’s army crossed the Gibraltar strait. The following January, the belligerents clashed at the battle of Ain Ben Amar, where the Sultan’s meager forces were thoroughly trampled. Seeing no way to escape from the wrathful emperor, the Sultan ceded Malaga while cursing Richard’s name at the same time.


The imperial army is relentless

With two victories hastily gained, Richard was far from done. On the northern border of Francia Occidentalis lay the Duchy of Asturias, who broke free from Castille’s rule. In the spring of 1175, the Franks marched north to subdue his northern neighbour. Without any surprise, Richard’s army completely occupied Caceres by June.


Francia Occidentalis grows

Duke Juliàn II sent his main force to outflank the imperial army, but they were hopelessly outmatched. At the battle of Badajoz, Asturias was wiped out by the Franks. Following the debacle, Juliàn II ceded Asturias to Richard, ending the invasion.


The sacking of Granada

While his missionaries were busy converting the Andalusians to Catholicism, some holdings were still held by Zikri faithful in the County of Malaga. Diplomacy with Emir Al’a’addin I of Marrakech failed to bring the Mosque of Antequera and the fortress of Tamisa under Francia’s rule. Once again, Richard resorted to use the sword. As soon as November 1175, both strongholds fell under the onslaught of the Franks.


Why do the Muslims have 1 holding in each frickin County anyway?

The Emir was still preoccupied with the Berber invasion of Mauretania, thus he was unable to send any troops to Iberia. The Franks mercilessly sacked Granada until the Emir was forced to sue for peace. Eventually, the Mosque of Antequera went unde Frankish rule as part of the peace terms.


Club-footed or not, she's pretty

Duchess Klara I of Meissen, betrothed to Prince Gaucelin, turned 16 in March 1176. With his youngest child now married and abroad, only Princess Esclarmonde remained at the emperor’s side in Paris.


The Dauphin's death

At the height of his glory, the emperor learned the death of his eldest son and heir, Dauphin André, on the 7th of February 1177. Richard immediately left for Chalons, fearing that his other foolish son might have succeeded with his petty plot. As it turned out, André’s heart stopped beating, probably due to a stroke. Chalons was spared the emperor’s terrible fury. Convinced that André hadn’t been murdered by his brother, the old emperor prepared a monumental funeral, proclaiming a whole week of mourning in Paris. His contemporaries noticed that Richard hardly spoke during the next 3 days, which was a very peculiar behaviour for someone as extraverted as him. A royal funeral was given in André’s honour and he was buried with the other kings of France in the royal chapel.

Now that Prince Richard was to become the new Dauphin, the emperor wasn’t sure how to deal with this predicament. Judging from his memoirs in the family heirloom book, he held his second son in contempt, underestimating him greatly, if not disliking him outright. It’s with much disappointment that Richard II discovered just how much he wasn’t appreciated by his father once he inherited the Will. At the very least, the new Dauphin was innocent about André’s death. Encouraged by his family to warm his relationship with his son, the emperor summoned him to his side in order to acknowledge him as his heir.

André’s death also meant that Chalons would be inherited by his daughter Violante, the Duchess of Aragon. With his son’s passing followed Chalons who now found itself under the jurisdiction of Castille. Ever the consummate politician, Richard found himself caught between two evils: either he would fight his own granddaughter to reclaim Chalons or he would relinquish one of the Free Counties, dishonoring his ancestors’ heritage.

“God has been so cruel to me. Not only did He take my son, now I’m forced to fight his own daughter, my own flesh and blood, to preserve my family’s honour. A king cannot afford to be weak. An emperor cannot afford to make a single mistake. Until my last breath is spent, I must walk forwards. Until the end, nothing will stand in my way. I can only hope I make the right choice, like how my great-grandfather always made the right choice.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

Details remain unclear about Prince Richard’s return to Paris. The emperor hardly left any writings concerning the period he mourned André’s death. Empress Giulia, herself an accomplished scholar, was also scarce regarding her son’s return to Paris. According to the chronicles of the imperial court, the emperor spent nearly the 4th mourning day slumped on his throne, brooding. His fellow courtiers dared not to stir him from his torpor, lest they feared rousing Richard’s legendary temper. Princess Esclarmonde kept him company for a while, but the old emperor stubbornly refused to move, still deep in thought. Then, once the day’s supper had concluded (Richard still hadn’t moved), he finally got up, called his council and ordered them to summon the prince to Paris. Richard himself mentioned that he could not cry, not shout, not think, nor speak. His state of mind was so chaotic that he couldn’t sort out his thoughts. The Just refused to confess to his court chaplain, a demeanour he kept until his death. Gossip at the time speculated that the emperor forsake God after the death of his son.


Richard II, my 3rd protagonist

Prince Richard’s entries in the Will relate how he felt an unwelcome ambience, as if every noble in Paris knew something he didn’t. In fact, most of them already knew he plotted to have André killed, since they had been warned by his father years before. The prince later learned the situation once he inherited the throne, prompting him to remain prudent at all times.

“What was supposed to be the happiest day of my life became a most unpleasant moment. I recognized those stares all too well: they are evaluating me, judging me, as if they were challenged by their own perceptions and prejudices.”
- Richard d'Ivrea, Dauphin of Francia​

Other sources mention that the younger Richard arrived in Paris in good spirits, anticipating to be welcomed as the next emperor. However, Richard the elder was far from happy. His reception was formal, if not cold. He wanted to speak to his son alone in his personal garden, where they spent a few hours discussing the future of the empire. It seems that father and son managed to find common ground, since the emperor then formally recognized his son as his new Dauphin. Perhaps the impulsive ruler realized that the future Richard II wasn’t as incompetent as he once believed. In this light, for once, fate would be kind to the old emperor. History would later remember Richard II as “the Great”, the first Anscarid emperor to be named as such.
 

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Ive read this AAR from the beginning, it only gets better. Awesome work man, and I love the style you use.

If I wasn't such a lazy ass, i'd love to start my own.
Thanks again! To be honest, the writing is the easy part. What I find bothersome is to browse through my huge pile of screenshots, pick which I'll use and remove those I won't. And also making the general skeleton of a chapter through all the screenshots. The way I do things is I play through to the end (easy part), taking a lot of screenshots (a reflex I learned to develop). I then compile them in a folder and they sit there, waiting to be browsed. I got another good 280 years worth of screenshots left to go through. As long as you love the subject, your passion should flow through the writing. There's nothing worse than working on something you don't like...

I love Medieval France, having taken one university history class with the faculty elder giving the course. (My ancestors from my mother's side hail from Normandy) The old guy was truly awesome. I remember driving through a snowstorm on a Friday morning hoping I would not miss his class. When I walked to the class' door a few minutes late, he was there waiting and he gladly welcomed me in. The teacher was quite surprised that most of the class went to university despite the massive storm and he gratefully thanked us to attend.

As I was browsing through the different French Counts, I stumbled upon tiny Mâcon, with the name Guy d'Ivrea. I then thought: "What an awesome dynasty name! I'm so going to play this little guy." The rest is history.
 

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Chapter 25

The Iberian Situation part 3 (1177)


The emperor's mood darkens

“I may not have gotten my father’s love, but I at least obtained his respect. I wish I could say the same for my future subjects.”
- Richard d'Ivrea, Dauphin of France​

Now that Prince Richard was officially acknowledged as the rightful heir to the empire, he fully intended to prepare himself for the colossal work that awaited him. His father tutored him during his childhood and while he didn’t possess his elder brother’s intellect, he was a hard worker and unafraid of responsibilities. Also, the prince already had four children of his own; worse come to worse, the imperial crown would pass to one of his two sons. It’s with a new resolve and a re-ignited determination that the future Richard II returned to Poland to resume the regency of his captive wife.


“Richard, the next time we meet will be at my funeral. You had better be ready when the time comes, because your future enemies already are.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​


Chalons

So it was that while Francia now had a new heir, its emperor was now faced with a delicate situation concerning his granddaughter’s inheritance. With André dead, Chalons was now officially part of Castille. This problematic gave pause to the usually inflexible Richard. The emperor placed much hope on André and his successors, but now his hopes cruelly backfired. Unable to come to terms with his misfortune, he once again locked himself in a deep meditation on his throne. His mood darkened so much that his courtiers were affected by it. Overbearing and demanding Richard might have been, they preferred his natural state over his brooding one.


Iberian Peninsula in 1177


I helped you gain your crown!

Still, Richard had a decision to make regarding Chalons. In the end, he decided that he could not afford to show weakness. With a weary heart, the old emperor declared war against Castille, pressing his claim to regain the Free County of Chalons. He later dubbed this war “The Sad War” in the Will of the Anscarids, lamenting he fought against his granddaughter to regain his dead son’s domain. Violante was merely a child and didn’t understand what was happening at the time. Despite this, we know that she didn’t forsake her kin, based on her future actions with Richard II. The war would be entrusted to the loyal Peers. Undaunted, Sancho IV called his allies for help: Duke Julian II of Asturias and Queen Aldonza of Aragon. When Richard’s trusted council reported the news that Queen Aldonza joined the war, the emperor’s gaze fixed and flared.

“How dare Queen Aldonza oppose me!? That ungrateful woman should be thanking me for giving her a kingdom on a silver plate! I ought to wipe Aragon out and claim it for myself! I will show her that going against the d’Ivrea family is the same as signing your death warrant!”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

His council was swelled with tears of joy when they heard the emperor shout. Richard I was a choleric and stern ruler, but he was their choleric and stern ruler. The old emperor’s beard had long turned white with age, but his temper remained a vivid passionate red. Richard fully intended to remind Aldonza that opposing him, not to mention dishonouring their alliance, came with a very high price to pay.


Bohemond assaults Chalons

Richard ordered Bohemond’s army to march to Aragon and to completely destroy their army who was sieging Rosello once he had secured Chalons. The massacre of Cuixà related how 15,000 Frankish soldiers slaughtered 1,500 Aragonese men. He also gave instructions to leave the bodies in front of her stronghold in Urgell, so that every citizen could see the consequences of her dishonoured alliance with Francia and what future opposition could mean to her people. The psychological effect struck hard: Aragon’s people went into mourning while cursing their ruler’s name. Aldonza’s reign remained very unpopular for the rest of her life, even if she remained in power until her death. While the queen was horrified with the treatment of her army, she understood that Richard was too strong to oppose directly. However, she merely bid her time to exact her revenge on the d’Ivrea house.


The Franks enter Iberia

My Paladins are in south-western Castille, being mischievous.

At the start of the campaign, the Paladins were already camped in Andalusia to pacify the region. Minor revolts occurred frequently against the empire during this period. Richard’s missionaries only provoked the local Muslim population who refused to abandon the Zikri faith. The Andalusian troops skirmished with Castille’s scouts at the battle of Jeréz de los Caballeros. Savary de Brindas and Mathieu de Cluny, two of the legendary Five Peers, led the Paladins to southern Castille and began ravaging the County of Évora, joining with their Andalusian brethren. In March 1177, the full might of the imperial army was now mobilizing. With the kingdom of Aragon being hostile, the first imperial army marched through Navarra to reach Castille, while the second imperial army was assaulting Chalons.

In April, the first army under the command of Bertrand “Steelhand”, another legendary Peer, crossed Navarra. Bertrand was seconded by Drogo d’Avranches, a new Peer recently knighted by Richard, and Count Sancho of Caceres, the new Iberian vassal of the empire and experienced war leader. Drogo was an inexperienced and aggressive young man, but he showed great promise as a commander. Count Sancho was selected to test his loyalty to Richard and also for his knowledge of the Iberian territory. He would more than prove his worth.

A first victory was earned at the battle of San Sebastiàn where a meager Castillan force was crushed by Bertrand. Meanwhile, the second army was assaulting Chalons under the command of Orson de Qula and Bohemond de Narbonne. In May, Chalons was completely controlled. Bohemond then marched to Aragon to execute the emperor’s wrath, while Orson led a small reinforcement unit to Navarra, flanked by his aide-de-camp Jean de Toulouse.


In my (totally unbiased) Peer ranking system, Bertrand was swiftly demoted

Back on the western front, Bertrand moved the host to Najera, on the hills of Calahorra, firmly believing they could hold out against the Castillan army. As he predicted, Castille attacked, thus beginning the battle of Calahorra. Count Sancho suggested that they wait for Orson’s reinforcements before moving away from their ideal defensive position. An expert at defensive combat, Bertrand instead surprisingly ordered a reckless charge on the right flank. Greatly underestimating his adversary proved lethal: Bertrand’s veterans were routed. Taking too many losses, he ordered a humiliating retreat. The veteran Peer had been schooled by his lieutenant Sancho. The Count managed to rebuff the left flank and joined Drogo in the centre.


How come this martial 5 guy is so frickin strong?!

King Sancho IV entered the fray with his army, with Asturias following closely behind. Count Sancho’s flank remained solidly anchored on the hills, cutting the new warmongers to shreds on his left. Drogo fought bravely, but the Castillans reinforcements outnumbered his force three to one. Before he was completely overpowered, he rallied his surviving soldiers and called a retreat from the hill. Count Sancho was the only commander left to fight.


Orson joins the battle

At the ninth hour, Orson’s army joined the fight. Drogo returned to lead the centre in a daring counter-offensive. Drogo’s gambit bought enough time to allow Sancho to relieve the weathered Franks in the middle of the hill. Castille’s left line broke, allowing Count Sancho to flank the centre against the king’s army. Before Drogo’s men were all killed, he pulled back his troops to the safety of Sancho’s victorious soldiers. Sensing his victory slipping away, the Castillan king ordered a full cavalry charge. In the end, it was the Andalusian pike men who had the last word. A slow advance decimated the Iberian mounted knights, sealing the Frankish victory at the battle of Calahorra. It was Count Sancho, newest vassal of Francia and future Peer, who grasped victory from the jaws of defeat.

Honestly, I think the game read that martial 5 guy as 30 instead.


Decisive Frankish victory

“I mistrusted Count Sancho of Caceres at the battle of Calahorra and I was revealed as the fool. I expected to be shamed and dishonoured by my liege, but Emperor Richard was so touched by my praising of the Count that he allowed me to remain a Peer, reminding me that he never forgot the role I played in Andalusia. The Count became my friend and my brother-in-arms as the newest Peer of our glorious empire.”
- Bertrand "Steelhand" de Narbonne, Peer of Francia​


Reinforcements arrived too late


With the Castillans on the run, the Peers faced a freshly arrived second corps. Fatigue and low morale were not enough to stop them. At the battle of Logroño, the Franks emerged victorious once again.



Battle of Estella

In September, the first imperial army was united under the command of Orson, who now led the army east to finish the battered Iberian army. It would be in Navarra, at the battle of Estella, where the first army would engage Castille once again. At the same time, the second army under the command of Bohemond invaded the south-eastern holdings of Castille. The battle of Estella resulted in a brilliant victory for Francia.


I am a horrible grandfather

Asturias brought the last untouched army of the Iberian coalition to fight the weary Franks, but they were also routed by Orson in November. Without any leverage left to use against Richard, King Sancho IV relinquished Chalons to Francia. Such a decisive victory against Castille didn’t improve Richard’s mood. At the very least, this sad episode was now over and the emperor could once again direct his considerable energy towards expanding the empire.

“I understand my husband’s pain better after yesterday. He came to me after the evening supper and told me that as a ruler of men, he couldn’t afford to make mistakes. Despite his wrinkles and white hair, he will always remain King Richard Firebeard to me, the man who is afraid of nothing.”
- Giulia Dandolo, Queen of France​

Richard’s contemporaries noted that his cynicism slightly improved after the war, especially because the Salian house was facing difficulties inside the eastern empire. Richard’s favourite nemesis, the Holy Roman Empire, shook from within as rumours of rebellion crossed the border...
 

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Terrible that you had to attack your own flesh and blood, but sometimes one must do what one must do.
I really don't like to attack my kinsmen usually... But at least it was the king of Castille that I declared war against. Don't worry about Violante, she'll make her family proud later.
 

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Chapter 26

The Disgrace of House Salian (1178-1181)

After writing this chapter, I felt like it was too short, even if it has the same length as the previous ones. I feel like that I may be too concise in my writing sometimes. Perhaps it's just me...


Richard's son-in-law

While the main family branch amassed victories in Iberia, the cadet branch of Scotland faced ill fortune. Even if Queen Sybile I managed to fend off a rebellion led by Duchess Margaret of Albany (married to Richard’s son Jourdain), a stronger coalition succeeded to depose her. In May 1171, the new king of Scotland was now Arthur I a Muirebe, great-grandson of Malcolm III. The usurped queen died in prison in the year 1177, leaguing her titles to her son Alan, the new Duke of the Isles. He also inherited the County of Rennes in Brittany, who was now a Scotland vassal. Since Alan is the husband of his favourite, Princess Esclarmonde, Richard let him have Rennes for the time being. Most likely, the old emperor didn’t want to wage war on his family again so soon and Alan needed every man he could get his hands on if he wanted to reclaim Scotland.

Richard’s son-in-law then embarked on a long campaign to regain his lost inheritance and avenge his dead mother. The campaign would eventually end with Alan as the victor in January 1191. Ironically, posterity would remember him as Alan I “the Unready”, an epithet shared by his grandfather Alan IV, a previous Duke of Brittany. While Scotland’s throne returned to the d’Ivrea house after Alan, the weakness of its successors allowed the crown to pass to the Dunbar dynasty later. As for the main d’Ivrea branch, they wouldn’t face serious difficulties until the 14th century with the sudden death of Emperor Antoine I “the Brief” and the long regency of his son François I. This led to a chain of events which began with the creation of the Council of the Kings, which later caused the great revolts of that period and the great purge of 1391-1394, but for the time being, let’s continue Richard’s story.

As Richard’s whispers enthusiastically reported, the Holy Roman Empire fractured from within as a number of its stronger vassals challenged Adolf II’s rule. A coalition led by Count Bartolomeus of Zeeland aimed to curb the Kaiser’s power; they believed Adolf II had too much authority inside the empire. The duchies of Brabant, Bavaria, Susa and Modena went into open rebellion. The kingdom of Lotharingia soon joined them. These were the kind of news that made Richard extremely happy; it meant that the time was ripe to seize more territories from his greatest political opponent. Richard retained the lesson well from his mentor Guy “the Old”, that is to never forget the Salians.

“I never forgot the Salians. They are undeserving of wearing the purple cloak of the Romans. Once my armies have crushed these fools, their grandchildren will still be reeling from the bruises I will have given them. Now, they will never forget me either.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia


A general view of the battlefield

You are about to find out why I hate going to war against the Holy Roman Empire. No matter how hard I hit them, no matter how many armies I destroy, no matter how many civil wars they endure, no matter how much territory they lose, they can always pull out gigantic armies out of nowhere. Sometimes, it feels like going to war against them is like striking water with a sword.


At least, that one was easy

The Paladins were immediately dispatched to Vivarais under the command of Savary de Brindas. Mathieu de Cluny commanded the first imperial army to sack Saintois and Sundgau, fully intent on rapidly subduing the Lotharingian king. Orson de Qula led the second imperial army to Metz. Following the sack of Sundgau, King Luitpold quickly relinquished the Brixey city keys to Richard. As it happened, the king chose to focus his remaining forces against the Kaiser instead of the Franks.


The Kaiser chooses to confront the Franks first

Following the victory, the two armies moved south to Burgundy in order to ravage the Holy Roman Empire in the autumn of 1178. All the way up to summer 1179, the distant south-western border of the empire was pillaged by the Peers. It would not be until September that the Germans would engage the Frankish invaders at the battle of Tarentaise.


Battle of Tarentaise

Savary’s Paladins braced themselves for the inevitable. The Germanic-Danish alliance struck the Frankish knights, fervently believing they would break under their onslaught. A scout was dispatched to Mathieu’s division who was camped in Vienne. The first imperial army marched east to help their brethren locked in combat. Despite being outnumbered, Savary’s knights stood their ground. Once Mathieu’s army joined the melee, a charge was ordered. The devastating losses suffered by the Germans caused a retreat from the mountains. With minimal losses, the battle of Tarentaise resulted in a decisive Frankish victory.


More Germanic massacre

Mathieu resumed the siege of Savoy while the Paladins pursued the broken Germans. At the battle of Grenoble, the Kaiser’s army was humiliated once more. In the meantime, another Holy Roman army marched south of the Alps. Eventually, the first Germanic army was decimated in Vienne.


Honestly, how many men do they have left?

The second Holy Roman army arrived too late in Vienne to save their comrades. Savary and Orson joined their forces and marched south to engage the new army. In February 1180, the 2nd battle of Grenoble began. Once again, the Teutons have been trampled by Richard’s veterans. The pursuit gave chase to the broken Germans who fled to Brindas, where they were all killed.


Seriously, how many more do they have left?!


Even after losing two full regiments against Richard, Adolf and Anders persevered. A third Danish army arrived in Vivarais in May. Needless to say, they were welcomed by none other than Orson and Savary, who proceeded to sing their steel against fresh foes. The battle of Viviers resulted in another Frankish victory.



I actually had to increase the war score to 100%

In July, more forces arrived in Provence. However, Adolf finally learned his lesson after losing 3 armies. The next month, Vivarais was conquered in the name of Francia.

Richard’s prophecy eventually turned out to be true. Adolf II was the last Holy Roman emperor from the Salian house. Instead, the Salians would relocate to Jerusalem following the unstable rule of Adolf II. The electors, greatly disillusioned by Adolf’s rule, refused to select his son Heinrich as the next emperor. Instead, they favoured Eberhard Scarponnois from the royal house of Lotharingia. Eberhard I briefly ruled for a little less than a year. The crown then passed to the Udonen dynasty, a rising power in Germany. Wenzel I “the Great”, a notorious member of the Udonen, was a contemporary of the future Richard II. The Udonens would keep the imperial crown until Lothaire I “the Silent” would be elected, thus reuniting the two imperial crowns of the west at the end of the 15th century.

“The humiliations my family suffered at the hands of Emperor Richard d’Ivrea were so harsh that even the electors lost faith in us. Even bringing up the prestigious Salian name as a potential candidate for the title of emperor is met with sarcasms and disdain. Curse the d’Ivrea name and their hellish spawn lings!”
- Bruno I Salian, King of Jerusalem


Goodbye Giulia...

Sadly, Richard would not celebrate for long. In December 1180, Empress Giulia died a natural death at the age of 60. While the imperial couple had their differences, they always supported each other during crisis and times of joy. Giulia’s strong personality matched Richard’s splendidly. She was perhaps one of the few people in his entourage who could reason the bashful Anscarid. The void left by Giulia only confirmed Richard’s growing cynicism regarding matters of the faith.

“When I needed my wife the most, God decides to summon her soul to His side. It’s as if every great victory I earn must be paid with the blood of my family. I wouldn’t be surprised if Richard would be the next to die after my campaign against the Republic of Genoa.”
- Richard I "the Just" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

Having lost none of his pragmatism, the old emperor sought another spouse to share his intimacy. Feeling nostalgic about Giulia’s Venetian origins, he looked to Italy again for a bride. He chose Countess Carola of Mantula, a 16 year old woman from the House of Gent. The Countess gladly accepted to marry the impulsive ruler. While Richard was now an old man, he remained very popular with his court ladies. Being a faithful spouse, the emperor turned down all their advances and his own impulses, preferring the company of his strong-willed wife and the serenity of his gardens. The marriage was celebrated in January 1181.


The new empress

After spending a few months in peace with his new young wife, Richard decided it was time to return to Francia Occidentalis. The Genoans were expanding their borders and their trade zone. The aggressive Italians threatened to move further in Iberia and this was something the Just was unwilling to allow. As such, in order to reunite Castellon with the French holdings in Andalusia, the emperor declared war, pushing his suzerainty over Granada against Doge Oberto of Genoa. At the same time, Empress Carola was pregnant with the future Robert d’Ivrea, who will become the Count of Mantula.


A new campaign begins...

On the morning of September 7th 1181, Richard I “the Just” was found dead in his bed. He was 61. The imperial court of Francia was both saddened and relieved to hear the news. Richard proved a successful ruler both inside and outside the empire. At the same time, his ambitions pushed his subjects’ energies to the limit. After a very dynamic reign, a new chapter began in the history of the Anscarids with the coronation of Richard II. His new vassals prudently waited how the new emperor would govern and if he would be a worthy liege to swear fealty to.

If Richard gave one lesson through his dynamic life, it would be to never let anyone stand in your way. One particular message was written for Richard II when he was summoned by his father after the death of André. He warned his son to be ready and not make mistakes, for his enemies already were ready for him. And indeed, they were.


Farewell Richard... we had a good time

This ends Richard's story. Phew, 2 stories complete, 11 to go! Now to wrap up Richard's story in a synopsis...

I'd like to ask something to my readers. I had an idea to start taking screenshots of a 2nd AAR and I was wondering which character I could play next. I don't think I'll make it as a history AAR however. I am currently playing a Norse game, but honestly I don't think it would make a good story, because I'm steamrolling through Europe like I was driving a zamboni. Since there are many Norse playthroughs already along with a few Zoroastrians, I thought about playing as Alfred of Wessex in 867. I think it might make a good story, especially during the Viking age. It would be my first choice, but I got others as well.

My other choices are:
- a Scottish/Irish/Wales Count (once the Celtic portraits come out in late June)
- a Russian Slavic Count
- a Iberian Catholic in Asturias
- a Salian Count in East Francia
- a Muslim Count in the Holy Land


Of course, I'll be playing the game up until the end before I start a new AAR thread, just in case I find the story might be boring or end too abruptly. What do you folks think?
 

Lord Durham

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Excellent read. Richard 'The Just' proved to be a power house and a man of principal, even when it came to dealing with his family. I'd like to see an Alfred of Wessex AAR, too.
 

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I like your first choice.
All righty! Alfred starts with 2 counties and very high stats and I have yet to play in the British Isles. Wessex is a moderately strong power in 867 as well, so I hope I won't be destroyed by the Vikings too quickly.

Excellent read. Richard 'The Just' proved to be a power house and a man of principal, even when it came to dealing with his family. I'd like to see an Alfred of Wessex AAR, too.
Another vote for Alfred! Thanks! Richard sure proved a fun character to play as, even if he (me) was plagued with bad luck concerning his family. Then again, setbacks make the game more interesting. My current Norse game is way too easy in comparison...

I'll wait until Saturday before starting another potential AAR game to see if more readers would like to vote. In the meantime, I'll finish up the conquest of Poland and Rus with my Housecarls and maybe take some concubines while sipping some wine on the side. Oh yes, and write Richard's synopsis before the week-end.
 

dantescritic

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All righty! Alfred starts with 2 counties and very high stats and I have yet to play in the British Isles. Wessex is a moderately strong power in 867 as well, so I hope I won't be destroyed by the Vikings too quickly.



Another vote for Alfred! Thanks! Richard sure proved a fun character to play as, even if he (me) was plagued with bad luck concerning his family. Then again, setbacks make the game more interesting. My current Norse game is way too easy in comparison...

I'll wait until Saturday before starting another potential AAR game to see if more readers would like to vote. In the meantime, I'll finish up the conquest of Poland and Rus with my Housecarls and maybe take some concubines while sipping some wine on the side. Oh yes, and write Richard's synopsis before the week-end.
Bah! Too easy, I say play as King Aella of Northumbria. If you survive the story could get extremely interesting.
 

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I don't know if the King of Northumbria is a survivable starting location, because there's an army of 11000 coming for you straight from the start if I'm not mistaken. But! If you are capable of surviving that start, I'd prefer that to Alfred. Anyways, my vote in general is for a Non-Norse ruler in England.
 

Tyler96

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Another vote for Alfred, the British isles seem more interesting and fluid with TOG, try to be a good brother too, don't kill Ethelred (?) right off the bat.

As for Northumberland, I haven't really seen them survive; but as long as we're discussing near-suicide spots in northern Britain, how about Galloway- the Kingdom of Alt Clud/Strathclyde.
 

c0d5579

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Given the way host mechanics seem to work in Old Gods, I'm almost certain Northumberland is unwinnable. They start at war with all three of the major invading factions. The piglets really do grunt about how the old boar suffered. Even if you cheat, give yourself enough gold to build a solid-gold palace, and assassinate the sons of Ragnar, the host passes to someone else and the invasion continues. You really do have to beat them in the field, and the only kingdom in England proper that's set to do that is Wessex, because it's got the other English kingdoms as buffer states to bleed the invasion out before it reaches Wessex.

Actually, I'm going to vote for something COMPLETELY different: Rolf Ganger (de Normandie). Norse Catholic count of one of the Frisian coastal counties.
 

Mithfir

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Bah! Too easy, I say play as King Aella of Northumbria. If you survive the story could get extremely interesting.
I tried it for fun yesterday night... Ivar utterly destroyed me with his 22k troops. Even if I had the support of all the British Isles, he's right at my doorsteps while all the other armies are scattered over Britain. I did manage to plot kill Halfdan Whiteshirt and forced the 2nd invasion to a white peace. I really don't know if I can survive beyond the 5 years truce though. Even my wife tried to poison me!

I don't know if the King of Northumbria is a survivable starting location, because there's an army of 11000 coming for you straight from the start if I'm not mistaken. But! If you are capable of surviving that start, I'd prefer that to Alfred. Anyways, my vote in general is for a Non-Norse ruler in England.
Ivar is a monster at 25 martial and an army of 22k. My meager 3000 men bravely died to the last. I merely played 2 years and I'm quite unsure Ivar will let me be once the truce is over...

Another vote for Alfred, the British isles seem more interesting and fluid with TOG, try to be a good brother too, don't kill Ethelred (?) right off the bat.

As for Northumberland, I haven't really seen them survive; but as long as we're discussing near-suicide spots in northern Britain, how about Galloway- the Kingdom of Alt Clud/Strathclyde.
I avoid killing kinsmen usually. The kinslayer trait really rebuffs me if I get caught anyway. I didn't check Galloway, but if it's near suicidal I'd rather not push my luck! I guess that makes 3 votes for Alfred then!

Given the way host mechanics seem to work in Old Gods, I'm almost certain Northumberland is unwinnable. They start at war with all three of the major invading factions. The piglets really do grunt about how the old boar suffered. Even if you cheat, give yourself enough gold to build a solid-gold palace, and assassinate the sons of Ragnar, the host passes to someone else and the invasion continues. You really do have to beat them in the field, and the only kingdom in England proper that's set to do that is Wessex, because it's got the other English kingdoms as buffer states to bleed the invasion out before it reaches Wessex.

Actually, I'm going to vote for something COMPLETELY different: Rolf Ganger (de Normandie). Norse Catholic count of one of the Frisian coastal counties.
Hmm I didn't check the Normans actually. Since I already played a full game in France, I wanted to try another location, even if I like West Francia and Charles the Bald. Frisia might be a fun game someday though. There's also a d'Ivrea count in Burgundy! He would be a challenge too, since the guy is old and already has 3 sons. One of them is named Anschaire as well... As for the invasion, I managed to survive, even if Ivar took a large portion of my demesne. I just don't know how long I'll live beyond the truce. Probably a very short reign.
 

dantescritic

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I tried it for fun yesterday night... Ivar utterly destroyed me with his 22k troops. Even if I had the support of all the British Isles, he's right at my doorsteps while all the other armies are scattered over Britain. I did manage to plot kill Halfdan Whiteshirt and forced the 2nd invasion to a white peace. I really don't know if I can survive beyond the 5 years truce though. Even my wife tried to poison me!



Ivar is a monster at 25 martial and an army of 22k. My meager 3000 men bravely died to the last. I merely played 2 years and I'm quite unsure Ivar will let me be once the truce is over...



.
Gah haahaha, that made me laugh. It's nearly impossible to play with King Aella, although I did manage to see him through 11 very turbulent years XD.