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Mithfir

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Synopsis

Richard I "the Just"


Young, middle and old Richard

Attributed quotes

"Do not tempt the wrath of France."
"How dare (insert unfortunate adversary) oppose me?!"
"Nothing is impossible for a willing heart."
"A king cannot afford to be weak. An emperor cannot afford mistakes."


Also known as:

The Just
King Richard Firebeard (sobriquet given by his wife)

Richard I “the Just” was born to Guy d’Ivrea (grandson of King Guy the 1st) and Countess Éléonore of Thouars. Himself great-grandson of the previous king, Richard was brought up as the next ruler of France, since his father died during his early childhood and his grandfather Richard the elder was already in poor health. Once he inherited the throne and the Will at the young age of 15, Richard quickly set the tone for his long reign: an ambitious and dynamic political agenda that would shape Western Europe for centuries to come.

Richard possessed a very sharp personality. While he was quite gregarious and socially pleasant with his fellow peers most of the time, he also proved to be a ruthless opponent when angered. The emperor’s wrath became legendary in the Will of the Anscarids and other sources of the time. Few persons aside from his immediate family could calm him down when Richard entered one of his terrible anger bouts. One such occasion was at a winter feast, when a bishop cut the throat of a servant who spilled wine on his clothes. Richard was so scandalized and revolted that he sent the priest to the dungeons, proclaiming him unfit to be a holy servant of God. This particular event earned Richard the epithet “Just”. Interestingly, the hot-headed emperor also loved gardening. It soon became a form of therapy to soothe his fiery temper during his free time. Charlemagne may have been known for his flower beard, but Richard was known as “King Richard Firebeard, the man who is afraid of nothing” according to his wife Giulia.

While his fellow vassals found Richard to be overbearing at times, his reign remained popular with the common folk. As France was prospering under his reign, Richard funded the construction of several cities to accommodate the population boom. The cities of Cosne, Noyers, Ardres and St.Nazaire are attributed to Richard.

Contrary to the usual customs of medieval royal marriages, the young king married a commoner, Giulia Dandolo, daughter of the Doge of Venice. Richard’s contemporaries predicted he would marry Ælfgifu of Norfolk, the previous Queen of France. According to Richard’s own words, he appreciated the duchess, but he saw her as an aunt, despite her being only a few years older than him. Nevertheless, Richard’s marriage proved very fruitful: Giulia gave birth to 9 children in rapid succession. Among them was Richard II, his second son and successor. A few months before his death, he married Carola d’Este, Countess of Mantua, once Giulia perished of old age. This second union produced one son: Robert d’Ivrea, the next Count of Mantua.


This event popped at least 15 times during Richard's rule

While the emperor wasn’t a womanizer, he was quite popular with his court ladies. One ill rumour spoke about how Richard was cheating on Giulia with another lady. However, this seems highly unlikely, as there’s never been any mention of Richard frequenting other women besides Giulia or his second wife Carola. Most likely, the emperor preferred to focus his energy on either work or gardening.


They didn't believe me...

Animated with an ambition rivaling that of Julius Caesar himself, Richard greatly expanded the frontiers of France. Against the Holy Roman Empire, France acquired Provence, Upper Lorraine, Gévaudan and Vivarais. These defeats shook the Salian dynasty so hard that they eventually lost the imperial crown to another prominent house: the Udonens. Under Richard, Brittany was completely annexed and the last Norwegian holding in northern France, Eu, was also conquered. The cities of Béziers and Nîmes who were captured by Genoa were also won back. However, Duke Alan IV of Brittany sought revenge by having Richard excommunicated.

Being the inflexible ruler he is remembered for, Richard appointed an Anti-Pope, Sisinnius II, and had him remove the excommunication stigma. He then proceeded to depose Pope Sylvester IV by force. While his army was marching to Rome, a revolt rose in the duchy of Champagne to install Ancel d’Ivrea, a son of the previous king, on the throne. Richard boldly fought on two fronts, emerging victorious; Sisinnius II became the new Pope while the rebels were crushed and arrested.


Perhaps Richard’s most famous act was his participation in the 3rd Crusade, an episode that is intertwined with the mythic Five Peers. Pope Eugene III appealed to every Catholic noble to aid him in his quest to free Andalusia from Islam’s yoke. Most of the European kings were caught in wars of their own, but France answered the call. Victorious in Andalusia, Richard proudly elevated himself as the new emperor of the Imperium Francorum, arrogantly challenging the Holy Roman Empire’s claim as heirs to the old Roman Empire. The Just died naturally at the age of 61, still bathed in the respect and glory of his subjects. Aside from one battle where the Paladins were routed, Richard remained undefeated in his time. Richard II then assumed the reigns of the empire. The old emperor was survived by 31 grandchildren and 7 great-grandchildren.


Direct dynasty branch

Richard’s personal life was not met with the same brilliance. The Just arranged a marriage between his eldest son and heir André to Milia Jimena, duchess of Aragon. Unfortunately for Richard, the union produced only one girl, Violante, who inherited the duchy once her mother died prematurely. André remarried and had another girl, Mélisande, before dying at the age of 40. Due to the male preference succession law, the imperial crown would pass to his second son’s lineage, Richard II, bypassing his hopes to bring Aragon into the empire. Also, three of his daughters-in-law would rebel against their liege, fail and be imprisoned afterwards.

His personal marriage prospects for his eldest son André might not have gone as expected, but Richard nonetheless concluded several advantageous marriages for his family. While André’s descendants would never gain the imperial purple cloak, they gained a consolation prize with the kingdom of Aragon. Indeed, Violante I “Ironside”, Duchess of Aragon, married the future Felipe III, King of Aragon. The marriage was effectively a matrilineal union, thus, the d’Ivrea name would rule Aragon for the rest of the Middle Age. As for Richard II’s wife, she would bestow the Duchy of Silesia to their son Richard III, marking the birth of Francia Orientalis. Princess Esclarmonde’s own matrilineal marriage would install the Anscarids back on the Scotland throne. Other unions of Richard’s children sired cadet branches inside the Holy Roman Empire (Gent and Meissen), Poland (Kulm and Kujawy) and Scotland (Albany). His unborn youngest son, Robert d’Ivrea, later became Count of Mantua (Italy) after the death of Countess Carola.

Political map of 1182​

On a fun note, I can access my old saves with the Old Gods content! Notice the rivers on the map? And also that ugly Genoa expanding on my borders, reminding me how annoying they are?! So here we go, next update will be Richard II's story. It seems that Alfred is winning my small poll so far... Now, to return to my pile of screenshots... Till next update!
 

c0d5579

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1. That ugly Kingdom of Burgundy bulge in HRE gray has to go. Return Burgundy to France! And, while you're at it, subjugate the Genoese coast, make the Dutch French, and put the French border somewhere east of Milan. That should fragment the empire enough that you can work with it.

2. The reason I suggest Rolf Ganger is because it's the ultimate fish out of water story: he's a Norse Catholic in a time when Norse and Catholic just don't go together, and in-game, he's a vassal of what will be the HRE eventually, which means that he's not trusted by his superiors either.
 

aniuby

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Wow, that's a really detailed summary of the reign of Richard I, along with the references to future developments. I can imagine the sheer amount of notes you must be keeping in order to write all that.

Those wars with the Kaiser are another reminder to me of how much I dislike CK2 - the HRE is just too monolithic, and the internal dissension and mutual backstabbing that existed in real life are rarely translated into weak rule. Indeed, it has grown stronger with The Old Gods, with the Italians and Brandenburgers no longer constantly seeking to break away. Worst of all, you have to literally beat the Kaiser into the ground with 100% warscore to get anything bigger than a single county out of him, which is an utterly ludicrous yet completely logical extension of the warscore/casus belli system in CK2.

I wonder how Richard II will turn out. You've expressed your doubts in-character in the earlier updates, and I'm curious to find out whether that sense of foreboding will turn out to be prophetic.
 

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1. That ugly Kingdom of Burgundy bulge in HRE gray has to go. Return Burgundy to France! And, while you're at it, subjugate the Genoese coast, make the Dutch French, and put the French border somewhere east of Milan. That should fragment the empire enough that you can work with it.

2. The reason I suggest Rolf Ganger is because it's the ultimate fish out of water story: he's a Norse Catholic in a time when Norse and Catholic just don't go together, and in-game, he's a vassal of what will be the HRE eventually, which means that he's not trusted by his superiors either.
Alas, a succession just happened, so that means I gotta stabilize my fickle vassals first... All in due time. I'm definitely putting that guy on my future playlist, along with a Zoroastrian, Muslim and other games I'd like to try. Oh yes, I see you have an AAR as well? I'll have to catch up.

Wow, that's a really detailed summary of the reign of Richard I, along with the references to future developments. I can imagine the sheer amount of notes you must be keeping in order to write all that.

Those wars with the Kaiser are another reminder to me of how much I dislike CK2 - the HRE is just too monolithic, and the internal dissension and mutual backstabbing that existed in real life are rarely translated into weak rule. Indeed, it has grown stronger with The Old Gods, with the Italians and Brandenburgers no longer constantly seeking to break away. Worst of all, you have to literally beat the Kaiser into the ground with 100% warscore to get anything bigger than a single county out of him, which is an utterly ludicrous yet completely logical extension of the warscore/casus belli system in CK2.

I wonder how Richard II will turn out. You've expressed your doubts in-character in the earlier updates, and I'm curious to find out whether that sense of foreboding will turn out to be prophetic.
Oh, writing summaries is quite easy, since most of the stuff is already written in the earlier chapters. The boring part will be to browse my screenshots and set the pace for Richard II. Richard II is the weakest of my 13 protagonists stat wise. I was quite discouraged when the game told me he would be my successor. I have yet to fashion his personality, though I have a few ideas. I underestimated him, so I made his father underestimate him as well. The game gave him the nickname "the Great", but to give you a hint, I would have named him "the Prudent". In any case, in this current game, the HRE is my most hated faction, followed by Genoa. The HRE is just ridiculously strong while Genoa is always taking counties that border my empire.
 

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Nice concise recap of Richard I's rule. There's a big difference between 'the Great' and 'Prudent'. I'll be curious to see why the 'game' thought he was great, and you figured otherwise :).
 

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Nice concise recap of Richard I's rule. There's a big difference between 'the Great' and 'Prudent'. I'll be curious to see why the 'game' thought he was great, and you figured otherwise :).
Once you become emperor, the prestige piles up so quickly that getting "the Great" nickname is very easy. Quite a few of my protagonists got it, even when I felt another name might have been more appropriate... Next chapter should give you a good idea about Richard II's challenges!
 

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Once you become emperor, the prestige piles up so quickly that getting "the Great" nickname is very easy. Quite a few of my protagonists got it, even when I felt another name might have been more appropriate... Next chapter should give you a good idea about Richard II's challenges!
Seconded. My current playthrough, there are plenty of king-level lords who are "The Great" who have spent their entire reigns in civil wars and losing territory... and at the same time a couple of "The Fat" lords who have been massive expansionists in places other than their belt lines. And, of course, "The Good" Cruel, Deceitful Impaler...
 

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Once you become emperor, the prestige piles up so quickly that getting "the Great" nickname is very easy. Quite a few of my protagonists got it, even when I felt another name might have been more appropriate... Next chapter should give you a good idea about Richard II's challenges!
Excellent read, and yes, "the Great" triggers too often; I toned it down in my personal mod once I saw this loser king, whom I've been beating like a punch bag for two decades, gain the title.
 

Mithfir

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Seconded. My current playthrough, there are plenty of king-level lords who are "The Great" who have spent their entire reigns in civil wars and losing territory... and at the same time a couple of "The Fat" lords who have been massive expansionists in places other than their belt lines. And, of course, "The Good" Cruel, Deceitful Impaler...
Such is Paradox's way! No pun intended.

Richard I's summary reads like a history book. I mean that in a good way, though!
I hope I made my history teachers proud then! Thanks!

Excellent read, and yes, "the Great" triggers too often; I toned it down in my personal mod once I saw this loser king, whom I've been beating like a punch bag for two decades, gain the title.
Thanks and welcome aboard! I just checked and I confirm that 6 protagonists have "the Great" as their nicknames. Ah well, I'll respect the game and use em anyway.
 

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Chapter 27

Prudence (1181-1186)​

Well, it's Saturday and Alfred got the most votes, so I will start a full campaign as Alfred of Wessex. Depending on how the story goes, I'll determine if it would be a worthy AAR or not. This will be a long term project, but I'll give some updates here and there. I might wait for the Celtic portraits and the next patch to actually start. I will keep in touch regarding this project.


She becomes a lunatic later

When Richard II returned to Francia in order to be crowned emperor in Reims, none of his courtiers could predict he would be remembered as “the Great”. Slanders portrayed him as “the Polish Emperor”, since the new ruler spent most of his adult life in Poland. The mood inside the imperial court was tense: eyes were anticipating Richard’s actions. Would he be an expansionist like his father? Would he prove as successful? Richard himself saw through his subjects’ worries. The oldest members of the court knew he participated in petty conspiracies in Poland, along with plotting to kill his older brother André. The emperor also understood that his new power was precarious. He was the emperor officially, but he had proven nothing yet, aside from his regency in Silesia. The very first night of his reign, he read the Will of the Anscarids from the first page to the last, peering wisdom from his predecessors.


Richard III, my 4th protagonist and his lovely possessed wife

Among all my CK2 games I played, Richard III was by far my smartest landed heir ever. You will see why later... I just wish my lunatic better half had chosen a better spouse. I mean, possessed and low stats... come on!

“It’s with great sadness that I realized how much Lord Father held me in contempt. He did give me recommendations at the very least. I also noticed that my court underestimates me. I can turn this to my advantage, as men tend to lower their guard in the company of their lesser. And none will be the wiser, except me.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

Despite his rhetorical awkwardness, Richard II was by no means a stupid man. While governing the Duchy of Silesia, he managed to amass a small fortune thanks to his prudent and skilled administration. In fact, his experience and love of court intrigue probably seated him on the throne firmly; he understood the lowest instincts of the ambitious sort and could distinguish them with ease. While he didn’t possess his brother’s intellect or his father’s insatiable ambition, he was diligent and determined. The son also inherited his father’s temper; it’s with great restraint that Richard II gripped his anger to avoid undesirable situations. Even if he could have impressed his court with his ire, it’s unlikely the outcome would have been in his favour, given his lack of serious accomplishments. It’s in great wisdom that Richard II chose prudence over extravagance.


A restrained emperor

Also, his marriage with Duchess Anastazja proved unhappy. Her eccentric behaviour grew more and more insupportable as she began to slip into utter madness. It’s with much relief that Richard left Silesia for Francia where he focused all his time on administrating the growing empire. Work became his refuge from both women (Richard was nearly asexual before his second marriage, most likely due to his bad relationship with Anastazja) and lack of fatherly love. Contrary to his father, he maintained a close relationship with the future Richard III, his eldest son. The young man received a stern Polish education, but in secret, he also learned old French and other Frankish customs from his father. Reminiscing of his uncle André, Richard III was endowed with a brilliant mind, plus a substantial interest in politics...


Francia Occidentalis

On the second day, the new emperor gathered his court. He announced that he would not order major reforms. The council was left intact and no drastic actions were taken against his vassals. Richard hoped that he would be portrayed as a stable ruler and that he didn’t induce false paranoia among his subjects. His father launched an offensive against the Republic of Genoa in Andalusia and Richard had every intention of honouring his father’s last act, if only to show that he was continuing the great work of Richard the 1st. As such, in late September 1181, the war against Genoa proceeded as the Peers planned. The next month, Granada was occupied by the imperial army. The Italians prepared their counter-attack by landing in southern Francia Occidentalis.


Asterisks!

However, one viper left unattended for sank her teeth in Richard’s flesh: Queen Aldonza of Aragon. The venomous ruler appealed to Pope Eugene III, the same man who crowned Richard the 1st emperor, to excommunicate his son. Richard remembered how crucial the alliance with the Catholic Church was for Francia: the key to the nation’s stability rested in keeping both the political and spiritual spheres in balance. Having upset the scales of destiny, the emperor hastily sought an audience to remedy the situation.

“To witness Rome, the hearth of our civilization, is unexplainable in mere words. Being watched by the Holy Father, along with his fellow holy men, is quite intimidating. I then knew this was a battle I could not win. Instead, I rekindled an alliance. If I had to preserve either my pride or my empire, I would choose the latter any day.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​


There goes my yearly budget...

Pope Eugene III held much authority in Europe, being the one who launched the 3rd Crusade for Andalusia. A charismatic and pious leader, the Pope was held in high esteem throughout Europe. Richard, on the other hand, had not been emperor for more than a month. When he arrived in Rome, the Holy Father harshly reprimanded the Frankish lord, citing that he knew he plotted to kill his older brother, even if he was innocent of André’s demise. Backed in a corner, Richard prostrated in front of the Pope, begging for pardon. Such an act touched Eugene III, as he believed Richard looked sincere. However, he suggested subtlety that a meager donation for the poor would help his cause, at least to show his charitable side. The savings Richard II spent most of his life accumulating were effectively given away. After confessing his sins and promising to keep Andalusia in Christianity’s bosom, Richard II was brought back to the shepherd’s flock. The contrast is striking between father and son. Richard I started as a zealous Christian only to turn to cynicism in old age, while Richard II was pragmatic at first and then ignited his piety. Richard II was willing to curb, but he refused to break.


Battle of Alcolea

In the meantime, the Peers of Francia continued the assault on Genoa. With the arrival of November came Genoese mercenaries under contract. The main imperial army led by Orson de Qula intercepted them in Cordoba, where the battle of Alcolea took place. Securing an easy victory for Francia, Orson then ordered a march to catch the secondary Genoese force before they reached Granada. The rest of the Frankish force reached Nice, where they seized control of the Republic’s holdings. They then proceeded to continue to Genoa itself.


I smell another Peer demotion...

“Emperor Richard II forgave me this humiliating defeat. I am glad that I didn’t have to report this to his father instead.”
- Orson de Qula, Peer of Francia​


At least, I won in the end

Eventually, Orson reached the remaining mercenaries who were camped in the mountains of Caracuel. Overconfident, the legendary Peer ordered a quick charge to dislodge them. The resulting debacle ended in utter failure for the Franks. Even after this defeat, Richard II strong armed Genoa to concede defeat, obtaining Granada as the newest territory of Francia Occidentalis. His father’s last act had been fulfilled. Afterwards, the emperor created the Duchy of Granada and bestowed it to Éléonore of Mortain.


I was actually surprised that the factions weren't stronger

In March 1182, Duke Alan of the Isles asked Richard’s help to reclaim Scotland. He agreed to help, but never sent troops, because rumors of a revolt bothered him. Duke Alar I of Brittany was preparing a revolt to break free from the empire. Richard’s spies confirmed that he already gathered a large contingent of loyal followers. As such, Richard preferred to keep his men inside the borders. This was also one of the rare occasions Richard II unleashed his anger. Feeling more confident after his repentance and his victory over Genoa, the emperor sent an emissary to Alar, strongly suggesting him to stop his little conspiracy if he wanted to remain in function. The duke wisely abided his liege’s warning.


Perhaps history does repeat itself

The following years of 1183 to 1186 remained peaceful inside Francia. Richard kept one eye fixed on his untrustworthy vassals and another on his family. Good news reached Richard II in May 1183: his daughter-in-law gave birth to a healthy girl, Mélisande. Another granddaughter was born the next year, Julienne. Richard congratulated his son and encouraged him to keep growing a large family. One day, the empire would be under his command. He needed a male heir to stabilize the succession, lest the sad episode about André’s daughters would repeat itself.


Duchess Violante I "Ironside", future Queen consort of Aragon

After mentioning her so many times, I felt obligated to show her portrait. Isn't Violante a lovely beauty? Brave, smart, ambitious, red hair, a perfect political spouse.

“I propose an alliance between our two prestigious families. I’m sure this will be an offer you can scarcely ignore. A noble, virtuous young lady from the d’Ivrea family offers her hand in marriage. What do you say?”
- Violante I "Ironside" d'Ivrea, Duchess of Aragon​

Around this time, Violante I, Richard’s niece, turned 16. The young lady inherited her parents’ intelligence and her grandfather’s burning ambition. She found herself in a very favourable position, since Felipe II, the previous king of Aragon, was still rotting in Queen Aldonza’s cell. She graciously visited him and offered to marry his son in good will, the future Felipe III, on the condition that their descendants would bear the d’Ivrea name. Violante argued that her family was now the most powerful dynasty in Europe. Her generous offer proved to be one that couldn’t be refused: Violante received an excellent education, was young, beautiful, competent, and ruled the Duchy of Aragon. The kingdom would double its size with this marriage, without mentioning an alliance with the d’Ivrea house. In the end, Felipe II accepted. This would only be the beginning of Violante I’s endeavours.

Richard’s second son turned 16 as well. Adémar d’Ivrea would later marry a daughter of the Count of Lower Silesia, Salomea of Lwowek. The young man would remain in Poland. The emperor’s daughters were already married: Julienne shared her life with Count Karol of Poznan while Adèle lived with Przybor II, Duke of Kuyavia.


Iberian Peninsula in 1186

After ruling a few peaceful years, Richard II received news from Iberia. Queen Juana I of Castille faced a terrible civil war led by Countess Leonor of Valladolid. A claimant for Castille’s throne, Princess Alduara, reunited a large coalition to oppose the queen’s rule. Violante d’Ivrea was among them. This would be an excellent opportunity to increase Richard’s prestige...
 

Mithfir

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The reign of Richard II seems to be going well! Violante also seems to be doing well. I'm looking forward to the next chapter!
To be honest, the next chapter isn't very interesting, which makes writing it a bummer. The next 2 should be more fun though. I'm not even sure I can fill my usual 3 Word pages before I break the 20 screenshots limit. I'll think of something. Thanks for the encouragement!
 

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So ... when exactly does Violante become 'Ironside'? I always thought that you had to fight in a war or have martial training to get that title, I've never got it myself (because I never fight personally), and I'd imagine it would be doubly hard for a female character to get. Or is it something you ascribed to her by yourself? Regardless, Violante is a rather appropriate name for a woman fighter =P

Also, why do you have two messages absolving you of excommunication? I presume you had to pay twice as well? Or is this another glitch in the matrix case of CK2 being a difficult customer? One way to get around this is to always send your ruler and your heirs as commanders when a crusade is declared, and replace them once you've got the Crusader trait, so you can (almost) never be excommunicated.

Anyway, keep fighting the good fight. I hope you get rid of that disgusting 'Genoa' in Iberia - really, I hate those merchants popping up everywhere so much, it's not even funny any more.
 

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Mithfir

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So ... when exactly does Violante become 'Ironside'? I always thought that you had to fight in a war or have martial training to get that title, I've never got it myself (because I never fight personally), and I'd imagine it would be doubly hard for a female character to get. Or is it something you ascribed to her by yourself? Regardless, Violante is a rather appropriate name for a woman fighter =P

Also, why do you have two messages absolving you of excommunication? I presume you had to pay twice as well? Or is this another glitch in the matrix case of CK2 being a difficult customer? One way to get around this is to always send your ruler and your heirs as commanders when a crusade is declared, and replace them once you've got the Crusader trait, so you can (almost) never be excommunicated.

Anyway, keep fighting the good fight. I hope you get rid of that disgusting 'Genoa' in Iberia - really, I hate those merchants popping up everywhere so much, it's not even funny any more.
I checked my saves and she got the nickname when she reached 24. It can be obtained by reigning 15-20 years and by having the brave trait. This only shows what stuff she is made of. I don't think I could have picked another more appropriate epithet. I would have picked "Prudent" for Richard II, and this isn't a synonym of excitement unfortunately. Once the next chapter is written, the follow-up will prove more interesting hopefully.

There's an option in the intrigue bar to send money to the Pope for additional piety. This is probably seen as buying indulgences from the Pope like it happened during the old days. Of course, some weren't happy with this system... silly Protestants! Since Richard II had near 0 piety and then got excommunicated, I bought indulgences along with the excommunication removal. I also prefer to keep Free Investiture as it can be very useful in a pinch. It will also come quite in handy later for Richard III later, much to my surprise.

As for Genoa... I... must... not... laugh... evilly...!

Mithfir, you may want to go check out Best Character Writer of the Week. You deserve it for the great job you did bringing Richard I to life. Congrats.
Oh jeez, what an odd moment to receive an honour when I'm having a writer's block! Many thanks!
 

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Interlude​

Hello everyone. My writer's block has been unblocked and the next chapter should be ready fairly soon. I merely wanted to keep you updated on my Alfred of Wessex project before I forget about it tomorrow or the day after when I update the story. Since the new patch is up, along with the Celtic portraits/units, I feel now is the time to start it up. I'd rather not promise a 2nd AAR right away, as this will take quite a while merely to play from 867 to 1453 while taking screenshots. Writing alone is a lot more colossal than I first expected, even if I enjoy it immensely. There's also no guarantee I'll survive until the end or if it will even be interesting to make a story out of it.

I'm going to play that campaign with all the current DLCs, minus the Mediterranean portraits because I find them ugly. Just my personal taste. I also include the Aztecs, even if a lot of forum users seem to hate it. I feel that it makes playing in the west a bit more interesting, even if it's not historical. Paradox added a tie-in with the last Vinland event as Norse interestingly. It adds some flavour and honestly, they aren't very strong once their invasion stacks are gone. And if they land in Morocco, it slows down their conquest spree a lot. Paradox reduced the penalty for the holy war conquests on holdings, so perhaps they'll be even tougher this time (get levies more quickly). Retinues are also nerfed...

I played a 867 Venice game on fast-forward to observe the new changes. With the new rebel mechanics, adventurers carving out realms, pagans, new political map and other perks, this should prove an interesting game. The new feature to keep track of interesting characters will greatly help too to follow some landed kinsmen or other rulers. I read on the forums that some experienced Mongols reforming Tengri, only to steamroll everything afterwards... In my Venice campaign, the Ilkhanate and Golden Horde went Nestorian and even fought against each other. Since Timurids are already Shia when they appear, no changes there. I guess we'll see how they turn out for the Wessex house. The Aztecs were stronger than I expected, even if they landed in Morocco. After nearly 100 years, they were still Aztec pagans, so I sent my court chaplain to see if I could convert their leader. Mission successful after a few years! It might have been because Catholicism edged 100 moral authority.

Muslims, on the other hand, were much stronger in 867. The Pope launched a Crusade for Sicily and after 12 years, they forced it to a white peace. I participated in it as the Doge of Venice and even hired 2 Holy Orders, to no avail. Holy Wars are much more dangerous to use at first. I might have to stick to De jure and 1 county wars at first just to be safe. Eventually, they gradually declined, but it took a long while.


I picked the one on the right

Which brings me to Alfred. For some odd reason, sometimes Alfred's portrait changes when selecting another ruler. The one on the left is the "original" when you pick him at first. To get the one on the right, I selected another ruler, saved the game, reloaded, and picked Alfred. I prefer the one on the right, because he looks very similar to Guy d'Ivrea, my first protagonist and a character I really enjoyed playing as. Must be the red hair and the eyes. Either way, this slight modification is all there is to it. I don't plan on killing my older brother right away. With some luck, he might die early and I'll inherit Wessex like it happened in real history!

Other rules I'll use are as follow:

- No reloading, unless my index clicked something on its own.
- I remove the court fertility penalty threshold in the defines file. I leave the base children number per couple at 2.
- All DLCs (except the Med portraits), no mods.
- Minimal, if any, kin slaying. This is one reason that rebuffs me from playing a Muslim dynasty. It seems in order to minimize decadence, we gotta imprison every male kinsmen except our heir, because otherwise, it becomes out of control. One fun aspect of the game I love to use is to marry my family all over Europe and check how they're doing later.
- I usually marry daughters and kinswomen matrimonially, unless they have bad stats or traits. I like to keep my kinswomen as tutors if I can. I might have to form more alliances with the Norse being mischievous in England though...
- I prefer Agnatic-Cognatic Primogeniture succession, since it's more stable without bad surprises (vassals picking a noob for heir instead with Elective) and more realistic of the times. Except if I get a crappy heir or a surprise regency, but that can make an interesting story. I plan to use Elective for my eventual Zoroastrian game because of inbreeding problems.

So here we go, small interlude is over. I'm going back to play- I mean write the next chapter of course! I'll keep in touch how Alfred's story goes in the not so distant future.
 

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Chapter 28

Court Intrigue (1186-1192)

On a fun note, I kept writing Castille instead of Castile. In French, we use 2 "l" and I'm so used to it that I thought my Word bugged out when it underlined my errors. It tends to do that when I use different language words in the same paragraph. I know now at least.

“Ruling the empire is much like riding a wild untamed horse in a herd. One false movement and I may find myself under hooves quicker than I can avoid it. The other animals are my humble neighbors while my horse represents my vassals. It would be impossible to tell which one would trample me and it would not really matter at this point.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

Castile’s situation left no doubts: the opportunity to seize more territories from divided Iberian nobles proved too irresistible, even for a prudent man like Richard. One issue that preoccupied the emperor was his subjects; something appeared amiss in Paris. The mood of the imperial court grew heavy. The Great understood that his courtiers waited for something. He just couldn’t figure out what at the time. As such, security was increased around the emperor; Richard smelled a possible conspiracy against him.

The other issue that bothered him was the Holy Roman Empire. Under Wenzel “the Great”, the eastern empire regained a surge of energy; Wenzel was greatly admired by his people and aristocracy. The Kaiser possessed a remarkable mind, sharpened tactical knowledge and a blazing charisma. Such was his popularity that he ruled a united, consolidated empire until his death in 1205.

In comparison, Richard II threaded carefully as his hold on Francia revealed to be shaky. While no revolt occurred after the succession of the imperial crown, there was no great enthusiasm either. Richard stubbornly maintained the army inside Francia’s borders, fearing the worst. His prudence is all to his credit however, as it would prove him right in due time. Nevertheless, his council strongly urged him to send his army against Castile in order to expand Francia Occidentalis against such weak opponents. In the end, Richard opted for a prudent, yet pragmatic, compromise: the Paladins would be dispatched against Castile while the levies would stand on guard. Richard reminded his council that deposing the Salians also meant that the electors chose a more competent ruler to replace the disgraced dynasty.


The Paladins siege Évora

“André’s little girl, Violante, is much stronger than I expected. I never liked my elder brother, but I must admit my niece makes our family proud. Now, it is my turn.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

So it was in June 1186 that Richard II declared war against Castile in order to annex Évora. The veteran Peer Savary de Brindas once more led the Paladins on this offensive. Queen Juana’s situation grew more precarious as the rebels grew in numbers. Richard’s veteran knights entered Évora unopposed for the time being. They started the long siege of the various holdings, waiting for the inevitable surrender.


Hey, wait a minute...

The emperor then received unexpected news from his vassal, or rather, his former vassal Count Engelbrecht of Algeciras. He inherited the Duchy of Köln from his distant kinswoman Oda Wigeriche. Since Duchess Oda died without any issue, her titles transferred to her closest male living relative, which was Count Engelbrecht. Köln was de jure part of the Holy Roman Empire, which meant that Engelbrecht’s vassal contract with Francia became void. Francia Occidentalis lost 2 counties, Algeciras and Malaga, to the Germanic power, much to Richard’s dismay. The Great remained patient: there would be opportunities to reclaim the lost southern tip of Iberia in the future. For now, Kaiser Wenzel was too powerful to confront directly. Even if Richard had won, it was very likely that his forces would be greatly depleted either way, a risky situation to be in when his subjects weren’t completely won over.


Surely, no one would miss him...

One of them, Duke Ranulf I of Valois, plotted to gain a claim on the kingdom of France. A Norman noble, Ranulf portrayed every trait that made him an unsuitable vassal: excommunicated, unpopular, greedy and worst of all, ambitious... The duke also supported a faction to install Roger d’Ivrea, a grandson of King Guy, on the throne. The emperor decided to get rid of him discreetly. Intrigue remained one of his stronger assets, plus a hobby he enjoyed to take part in when it suited him.


KABOOM! It never gets old

Contrary to Richard, Ranulf enjoyed to stuff his stomach with luxurious food. This weakness would prove lethal. Somewhere in March 1187, the duke visited one inn in Valois, to naturally satisfy his voracious hunger as was his custom. The innkeeper, paid by the emperor’s accomplices, stuffed the inn’s floor with manure. Once the unfortunate Ranulf sat with his guards, the inn went up in flames. Few people mourned the unpopular Ranulf. However, the innkeeper felt remorseful and confessed his crime to a bishop. Word spread to Paris that Richard II might have been involved with the “accident”. Those rumors are effectively confirmed in the Will of the Anscarids. Richard II never hid his intentions of getting rid of Ranulf, nor his actual plot to blow him up.

“One less untameable wild horse in the herd.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia

While the emperor had one less potential rival to take care of, the rumors concerning his implication with Ranulf’s death had an ambivalent effect on his courtiers. Most of them underestimated Richard. This event sowed more confusion in their minds, since the emperor could be more dangerous than they expected. On the other hand, if Richard was indeed a culprit, this dishonourable tactic tarnished his name. Even the most successful ruler could be ruthless with his lesser, in the name of the greater good. In the end, a small group of Richard’s courtiers chose to get rid of him, rather than risk a future backstab. The Great had been justified to be wary of his subjects, ironically.


o_O

Strangely, a plot to kill Richard II was discovered by the emperor’s spies. The strange part was who ordered the assassination. It was none other than Richard’s sister-in-law, Duchess Klara of Meissen, married to his brother Gaucelin d’Ivrea, who wanted him dead. Fortunately for the emperor, he caught wind of the plot before it was set in motion. He prudently gathered his court and announced that he knew some of them aimed to kill him. He also boldly confirmed that he ordered the assassination of Ranulf, because he had legitimate reasons to do so: possible rebellion and excommunication. With a valid cause, Richard now held a proper excuse to imprison a few more persons. The warning had been given and promptly heeded. Afterwards, the Great wrote a letter to Duchess Klara, mentioning his great disappointment about her scheme. Klara abandoned the assassination plan, although opposition towards Richard’s rule was not completely gone.


Curses!

Meanwhile, the Paladins successfully captured the barony of Évora, the city of Portalegre and the bishopric of Avis in early 1188. However, the civil war against Queen Juana worsened as the duchy of Beja, ruled by Duchess Juliana, casted their lot with the rebels. No longer bound to Queen Juana, Évora was Castile’s vassal no more, thus rending the casus belli null. The emperor shrugged off that pitiful excuse. Still, he observed protocol by once again declaring war against Castile with a different casus belli. Instead, the Paladins set out for Almeria, the last Castilian bastion in southern Iberia.

Joyful news reached Richard II, for his son, the future Richard III, was now the father of a healthy boy, Zygmunt. Another boy would be born in June 1191, named Richard. In opposition, his daughter Adèle died suddenly at the tender age of 30.

“Lord Father,

Surely, you must have heard about poor Adèle’s sudden death. I attended the funeral in your stead, along with Julienne and Adémar. We miss you greatly. Also, it is with much joy that I announce you as the grandfather of my newborn son, Zygmunt. Dearest Cecilie is in good health as well, despite her odd behaviour at times. I grew accustomed to it, even though I wish she’d be calmer. Dear mother’s condition worsened after Adèle died... I stumbled upon the barony’s stables, where I heard her talk to the horses as if it was you. I’ll not repeat the words she used. I can’t blame you, Lord Father, for leaving her side so quickly after grandfather died. I believe addressing the higher functions of a lord remain our only solace. Everything is going according to the Divine Will.”
- Richard d'Ivrea, Dauphin of Francia​


I can play that game too!

Countess Echive d’Ivrea, a granddaughter of King Guy, died in August 1189, leaguing the County of Asturias de Oviedo to her infant son, Oveco de Léon. Since Oveco was already Count of Caceres, a vassal of Francia, Asturias de Ovideo in turn became de jure part of the empire. Now, Richard II possessed another foothold in Iberia, albeit in the northern area. In a strange turn of events, Richard obtained a northern county for the price of 2 southern ones.

As a side-note, the d’Ivrea family placed another key player in Iberia during this period. We already mentioned Violante’s ingenious marriage with Felipe III, but there were other notable members as well. Duchess Juliana of Beja married Bouchard II d’Ivrea, from the cadet branch of East Anglia (descendants of King Guy I and Duchess Ælfgifu). The cadet branch managed to break free from England a few years before in an independence war. As such, Bouchard II was in line to inherit East Anglia from his father. Furthermore, this meant that their eldest son, Bouchard III, would unite Beja and East Anglia under his rule one day.


Oh, that can't be good...

Queen Juana herself had concluded an interesting political alliance. She married Sælræd Godwin, the first son of King Æthelwulf II. While her husband died a few years before, their son Osulf was now the heir of three crowns: England, Castile and Galicia. This potentially meant the emergence of a powerful united kingdom on Francia’s western borders. In this situation, the empire would be caught between the reinvigored Holy Roman Empire on the east and the combined crowns of Castile and England on the west and the north. Richard II hoped that the civil war would see Juana deposed. Unfortunately, that wish would be quickly crushed.


Richard II triumphant

Inside the Holy Roman Empire, activity shuffled the dusty countryside. Kaiser Wenzel prepared his armies for war against Venice. His target was the County of Zara, situated in the defunct kingdom of Croatia. With his greatest rival busy in Eastern Europe, Richard II felt more confident. He sent additional troops to Iberia to quickly annex Almeria. By October 1189, a large force assaulted the Almerian region. Next April, the area was occupied by the imperial army. The Paladins began the long march north towards Castile’s core territories while the main army returned to Francia Media. When Roland’s Chosen reached Alcantara, Queen Juana had no choice: she relinquished Almeria and signed a peace treaty with Richard II.


King of Scotland

Richard’s brother-in-law, Alan de Cornouaille, finally triumphed over the Scottish usurper Arthur. He proudly reclaimed the throne of Scotland and avenged his defeated mother Queen Sybille. As of January 1191, the long Scottish civil war was effectively over.


This should be a piece of cake!

On the other hand, the civil war in Castile remained inconclusive. One year after his victory over Juana, the emperor felt opportune to return to the Iberian battlefield. Richard II attempted to snatch additional territories by sending his army against Count Fadrique del Carpio, who ruled the County of Plasencia. The Great misjudged the Iberian situation, for two months later, the rebels and the Queen negotiated a white peace. Once again, the casus belli was no longer valid.


You bun of a stitch!

Picture me, putting my hands on my monitor and shouting: "Fadrique, give me back my casus belli!"



Meanwhile, in the Holy Land...
 
Last edited:

Greenskyguy

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Would be interesting to see Francia invade Jerusalem to help save it from the Muslims.
 

Mithfir

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Would be interesting to see Francia invade Jerusalem to help save it from the Muslims.
Help my most powerful neighbor, not to mention help the wretched Salian keep the Jerusalem crown, the Holy Roman Empire, the most annoying faction in this campaign? Hmmmm... let me think for a spell...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsNHeSoABYQ

Sorry, you're about to be awfully disappointed!