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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

c0d5579

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Yes, seems more likely you'd encourage them to keep their attentions on the east by moving their western border a little more in that direction. Just a gentle nudge, make sure they're pointed the right way.
 

Lord Durham

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Losing casus belli appears to be Richard's bane at the moment, though I'm sure he'll manage. Good update.
 

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Yes, seems more likely you'd encourage them to keep their attentions on the east by moving their western border a little more in that direction. Just a gentle nudge, make sure they're pointed the right way.
At this point, the HRE is way too strong to go to war against. Wenzel is a genius, a brilliant strategist and all his vassals love him. Richard has average stats, fickle vassals and is stuck between two giants. They're also gaining a steadier foothold in the Levant. It's a stroke of luck that they're busy in Jerusalem, because Richard has a problem to take care of.

Losing casus belli appears to be Richard's bane at the moment, though I'm sure he'll manage. Good update.
When it happens, it's really frustrating, but when I look back at it, I find it amusing. It's one of those "we'll laugh it up when it's all over!" situations. I also love to write "Curses!" whenever I get the chance!
 

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Chapter 29

Merchants and Insurgents (1192-1195)

My writing is slowing down this summer. I blame the heat, as it turns my computer into an oven. Being from Canada, I am used to colder weather and when it goes over 30 degrees, I feel like slumping in a chair at home, besides stripping my clothes, sweat and do nothing but drink water and read. Hopefully this won't affect my writing too much. Perhaps my writer's block isn't completely gone either. I apologize. On a fun note, I received ads for buying Great Courses lectures. It's tempting (especially the Western civilization lecture): I was already contemplating buying a Japanese Rosetta Stone this summer to get started on a 3rd language. It's a bit expensive though... Then again, investing in ourselves is the best investment, right?

Game wise, I'm now in 877 for my Alfred game. Slow start. I want to go easy while taking screenshots. There's not much worthy of mention without spoiling, as I am merely a Count. I expected it to be slow... We'll see how it goes later. Also, I tried a Zoroastrian game only to be crushed by the Shia Caliphate in the early 900s. Somehow, they managed to reach my small Satrapy and they quickly destroyed me (bangs head against desk). I had a good start too... I'll have to retry. I also started a Ghana game, but I've been foiled by my own playing habits. I like to have a big court of competent courtiers, so I marry each young woman in my court. Since West Africa is quite small, I sought other Pagans to marry to diversify my gene pool. It went well at first... until my heir became a Norse. Unreformed Pagans cannot ask to convert as well, and then all my vassals became Norse... West African religious authority crumbled to 0. Sigh, I deleted that game. I guess I learned something for my next attempts.


Iberian Peninsula 1194

While Kaiser Wenzel was preoccupied with the Muslims in the Holy Land, Richard II worked tirelessly to administer the large empire. Between 1192 and 1194, a long peace flourished in Francia. A power balance was established between the emperor and his subjects. Or so Richard II believed. It wouldn’t be long that ambitious vassals would dare challenge Richard’s rule. The only question left unanswered was who.

The Muslims lived their last years inside Iberia. Castile faced numerous revolts during this period, but still the overall Christian presence remained strong. The Republic of Pisa recently acquired a second foothold in Iberia, where they managed to evict the last significant Zikri faction, the Abbadid Emirate. Pisa already held the Duchy of Barcelona further east. Doge Giano governed a rising power in the Mediterranean, one that caught the emperor’s eyes. Richard II shared his father’s disdain for the Italian republics. In his eyes, mere burgher merchants could never attain nobility, not even with a fortune. However, they do possessed one quality, which was to generate large amounts of gold. Everyone cared for gold, like everyone cares for money today. Richard’s pragmatic administrative skills sparked an idea, one he wanted put in motion to counter the Italians’ greed.

First, Pisa’s ambitions needed to be slowed, if not stopped. Richard II declared war against Pisa before they could dig in further in Iberia. In March 1194, after a long peace of two years, the emperor, who previously refused to send a large army away from the core provinces, allowed the Peers to lead the whole armed force in their campaign for Murcia. Now that Richard maintained a moderate amount of respect, he felt bold enough to strip the borders. The Great would relearn that boldness must be tempered with caution. For the time being, the Paladins under Bohemond de Narbonne were already en route to Faro in south-western Iberia, while two divisions hastily set out for Francia Occidentalis.

A first skirmish was fought in Rosello, where Pisa’s meager forces were crushed by the 2nd imperial army. Once the area was secured, the Franks began the siege of Barcelona. At the same time, the 1st imperial army made landfall in Granada. Under the command of Savary de Brindas, the veterans prepared the siege of Murcia.


A first victory

Doge Giano wasn’t one to concede defeat without a struggle to the bitter end. Mercenaries soon arrived in Almeria to repel the Franks. Savary abandoned the siege of Murcia and withdrew back to greet them. At the battle of Vera, Pisa’s mercenaries faced their demise at the hands of Savary de Brindas. However, the legendary Peer fell in battle, vanquished in a bloody skirmish. From the legendary Five Peers, only Bohemond de Narbonne and Orson de Qula were still alive in 1194. Duke Emich of Upper Lorraine assumed the command of the 1st army, ordering his troops to pursue the broken mercenaries to Murcia.


A second victory

With victory practically assured, the Franks opted for a simultaneous attack on three fronts: the 1st imperial army would occupy Murcia, the 2nd army Barcelona, and the Paladins Faro. By July, Murcia was pacified by Duke Emich. As reinforcements arrived in Almeria, the Franks once again defeated them without effort at the battle of Motril.


You gotta be kidding me!

Richard falsely believed his vassals to be docile while his army was decimating Pisa in Iberia. Sudden news reached Paris in September, announcing that a large coalition was preparing to take arms against him. The disaffected rebels sought to have Richard replaced with someone else. A petty plot to kill the emperor, orchestrated by his sister-in-law Duchess Klara of Meissen, had been dismantled before, but a familiar name was linked to the ultimatum: Gaucelin, his younger brother and husband of the same Klara. In his name, Duke Uc II of Toulouse, along with his conspirator Guilhèm IX of Aquitaine, was ready to fight to the death to see him crowned as emperor.

However, Duke Uc severely underestimated Richard. While the emperor was often compared poorly to his father, he took great caution to dissimulate his intentions. As he himself wrote in the Will, Richard knew he was held in contempt, a dangerous behaviour to adopt in front of a deceitful (and powerful) man. This mistake would cost Toulouse and Aquitaine their freedom.


The revolt of Aquitaine

“At last, my unseen enemy has revealed itself. Warning after warning, I’ve been advised to keep an eye on Aquitaine. Those prudence calls were only half true: it was the Duke of Toulouse who pulled the strings all along. My next entry will be written either by an emperor or a duke.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

Richard’s contemporaries were impressed by his stoutness. As his father underestimated him, so did his courtiers fall into the trap. The emperor didn’t lose time: the Peers were to quickly subdue Pisa, so that they may return to Francia Media in due haste. The Aquitanians gathered their respective armies, fully intent on claiming Richard’s head.


And then, I had an idea...

Back in Iberia, the battle of Huelma ended with the decimation of Pisa’s remnants. The Italians’ surrender would soon follow to stop the massacre. Answering the emperor’s call, Godfrey of Conversano, a Norman orthodox (a rare kind), assumed command of the 1st imperial army and returned to Aquitaine. The Paladins were still camped in Faro, in western Iberia, led by Bohemond. The 2nd imperial regiment remained in Francia Occidentalis until Pisa surrendered.

The County of Toulouse was part of the imperial demesne. As the last loyal stronghold in Aquitaine, Toulouse soon found itself under siege by Duke Uc. The 1st imperial army led by Godfrey attempted to initiate a confrontation, except Uc’s scouts quickly noticed movement from the imperials. Uc withdrew, refusing to commit his forces against Godfrey. At the same time, Emich’s forces entered Rosello, getting closer to Aquitaine. Finally, in December 1194, Pisa gave up: Murcia became the newest territory of Francia Occidentalis. Bohemond’s Paladins then set sail for Aquitaine. They would arrive on the battlefield in January. Now, the rebels had the full attention of Richard’s Peers.


The chess game is about to be played

Instead of triggering a chase for Uc’s troops, Godfrey chose to assault his personal demesne, situated in Narbonne. There was also the risk of Toulouse and Aquitaine merging their armies before the Peers could assemble their forces. Guilhèm had yet to reunify his larger army while Uc maintained a vigil watch over the Peers’ movement. When Bohemond made landfall, Narbonne had been stormed by Godfrey. Melgueil would be the next to suffer the same treatment in February. Guilhèm captured the castle of Charroux in Lusignan unopposed. However, Duke Emich’s army finally arrived in Aquitaine. Now, the time had come to stop the traitors.


Emich serving a dish of pain

The main imperial force was now under the command of Duke Emich. The obvious choice was to strike swiftly at the weaker army: Uc of Toulouse. As such, Emich marched to Toulouse, where Uc’s forces were starving the imperial stronghold. Aquitaine caught wind of the movement: they also proceeded to move south. Unfortunately for the rebels, Aquitaine was too late to join the battle of Castelnaudary. In March, Uc’s contingent had been severely beaten. By April, only Aquitaine’s army remained untouched.


Finally, I get to stomp Guilhèm in glorious combat...

In order to draw out Guilhèm, the Peers proposed an outflanking maneuver. The main force under Emich would pursue Aquitaine without pause while the Paladins would join the fight once they locked in melee combat. A mounted flanking charge would mercilessly devastate the Aquitanians. The plan was then set in motion: Emich and Bohemond marched east against Guilhèm. It would be in Gévaudan, at the battle of Marvejols, that the bloody massacre would take place.


The Paladins attack the rear

As expected, Emich eventually manage to catch Guilhèm in Gévaudan. Aquitaine, despite his old age, remained a competent military leader. Still, his subordinates proved no match against Richard’s veterans. The battle raged on until Bohemond’s Paladins appeared near their rear guard. Once the heavy cavalry joined the fight, there was no hope left for the Aquitanians.

“As much as I loathe taking up arms against my countrymen, I abhor traitors more. We suffered too much to let the empire fall apart so soon. We must restore order.”
- Bohemond de Narbonne, Peer of Francia​

After a brilliant victory, Bohemond ordered a pursuit to Vivarais. At the battle of Viviers, Guilhèm once again faced defeat. The main army remained behind to assault Gévaudan’s strongholds. The message would be clear: traitors were to expect no mercy from Richard. In the late summer of 1195, the rebel army was thoroughly crushed and Gévaudan contained. With no means to oppose the emperor, Duke Uc and Duke Guilhèm surrendered. The rebellious leaders were then brought to Paris, where Richard II gave them a scolding worthy of his father.


I am the emperor of emperors, not the vassal of vassals!

“Did you think me weak, incompetent, coward? You fools nearly brought the empire to ruins! Did you not see our precarious situation? Did you not see the Holy Roman Empire stirring? Did you not see Castile and England’s eventual unification? I should publicly execute you and have your families destitute for your stupidity!”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

Richard didn’t execute Uc and Guilhèm, though he did sentence them to a lifetime prison punishment. According to some sources, he even asked Guilhèm if he wanted his old prison cell! The old duke spent merely a few weeks in prison before dying of old age. Ironic that he was put to prison by Richard’s father, only to be pardoned and released, before taking up arms against his son. In the end, Guilhèm had only himself to blame for his dim end. King Guy had warned his descendants to restrain Aquitaine. It took decades to see this precaution validated. To further humiliate Guilhèm's house, Richard revoked the Duchy of Aquitaine, naming himself the new duke of the Aquitanians.

With the civil war over, Richard was now free to execute his plan. Since the Italian republics kept expanding their sphere of influence in the Mediterranean via their trade zone, it gave Richard an idea. The emperor didn’t like to squander his forces in successive wars, but there was one battlefield where he could counter the growing republics: commerce. By battling the Italians on their own turf, Richard would kill two birds with one stone. For one, encouraging the empire’s economy would prove beneficial in the long run while diminishing Genoa and Pisa’s revenues. Two, this new approach would be less costly in manpower while reaping huge potential benefits in term of economical expertise and currency.


La République de Flandre... it has a nice ring to it


Since Murcia had been administrated by a republic, Richard was inspired to establish Murcia as the seat of a new republic, one that would be run by Frankish burghers under the protection of the empire. Lord Mayor Hamelin de Bissy was chosen as Doge. Native of Flanders, he proudly named the new budding economic empire the Republic of Flanders. Other notable families who joined the republic were Patricians Gilles de Boisrobert, Antoine de Barthe, Sigismond d’Oisy and Arnault de Méziriac.


“Hard work conquers all. It will just be easier with more gold.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

 
Last edited:

Hastings1066

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I understand what you mean about the heat; I've been fanning myself with a SimCity 4 manual (which is now torn and crinkled) and drinking boatloads of water, pop, and lemonade. No fear, soon we'll be back in the comfy embrace of a winter. :)


Keep your eye on the Flanders Republic; they'll hate you for the difference in government systems, and the more money the Doge has, the more it will take to bribe him.
 

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I understand what you mean about the heat; I've been fanning myself with a SimCity 4 manual (which is now torn and crinkled) and drinking boatloads of water, pop, and lemonade. No fear, soon we'll be back in the comfy embrace of a winter. :)


Keep your eye on the Flanders Republic; they'll hate you for the difference in government systems, and the more money the Doge has, the more it will take to bribe him.
I'm an indoors guy, so summer doesn't have much appeal for me, besides girls becoming strangely more eye candy. I prefer autumn: it's prettier than early spring and not too hot nor too cold.

Oh yes, them silly republics... Greedy little buggers, but now I got one of my own! And they'll annoy the other republics while making me more rich! It's well worth the -30 opinion loss. Most of the time...
 

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I understand what you mean about the heat; I've been fanning myself with a SimCity 4 manual (which is now torn and crinkled) and drinking boatloads of water, pop, and lemonade. No fear, soon we'll be back in the comfy embrace of a winter. :)
Yeah, I'm waiting for the temperature to drop to around 0c so I can put on a t-shirt :).

Good work on the revolt, Mithfir. It's maddening when siblings try to undo all the good work done to date. And am I the only one who thinks Duke Uc sounds like an Orc?
 

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Yeah, I'm waiting for the temperature to drop to around 0c so I can put on a t-shirt :).

Good work on the revolt, Mithfir. It's maddening when siblings try to undo all the good work done to date. And am I the only one who thinks Duke Uc sounds like an Orc?
This revolt was nothing compared to what's coming in the 1300s. We haven't heard the last of Gaucelin either. The bastard will live up to 8 decades! Uc reminds me of Budehuc castle in Suikoden 3 for some reason... What an odd name.
 

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Do you have plans for Italy considering that your house does come from that country?
Also what site do you use to upload your photos?
 

Mithfir

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Do you have plans for Italy considering that your house does come from that country?
Also what site do you use to upload your photos?
Not really, because most of it is held by the Holy Roman Empire, the strongest faction currently. The Kaiser is strong and besides, I have other, better, opportunities, as you'll find out in the next chapter. At this point, I tread lightly because I always feared the HRE would declare war on me. Of course, the emperor's eyes are always looking towards the east...

I had an old Photobucket account so I merely used it for this AAR. The bandwidth quickly reached the limit so I upgraded it as well.
 

Mithfir

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Chapter 30​

The War for Poland (1195-1198)​

Steam sale going on and I managed to resist until today... I bought Bioshock Infinite and Dust: an Elysian Tail. I really loved Bioshock 1 and Dust reminds me a lot of Odin Sphere, one of my favourite games of all time. I am currently playing my 2nd protagonist in my Wessex game and things are starting to heat up a lot! I also started another Mali game with a Enatic-Cognatic mod, and I wonder if I should have tried a Norse Valkyrie Enatic-Cognatic game instead... This reminds me of Valkyrie Profile, another great game. Yes, a dynasty named Valkyrie, with Enatic-Cognatic Norse game mechanics! I'll try it. On the other hand, Mali is crazy hard and slow... Perhaps I'll change my plans down the road. I think my female chancellor's job event trigger aren't functioning either. She never sow dissent while my previous male chancellor triggered it a few times. Annoying mod problems!


Free! Free at last!


As the year 1195 drew to a close, Richard learned that his wife, Duchess Anastazja of Silesia, died a natural death. She was 54. With his marriage ties virtually non-existent by the time he inherited the imperial crown, Richard didn’t even attend her funeral. Aside from her remaining children, all her contemporaries let out a sigh of relief. While it’s impossible to establish a firm diagnostic of Anastazja today, we do know that she suffered some sort of mental illness. Whether it was a form of delirium tremens, schizophrenia, Asperger syndrome or pure dementia, we may never know. Richard III himself pointed out that his mother sometimes yelled at horses, picturing her husband committing non-catholic acts. A few other sources also confirmed her yelling at horses and other animals while mentioning Richard II’s name. Perhaps one reason Anastazja chose Cecilie as her son’s wife was because she related to her mental condition (Cecilie suffered violent mood swings irregularly).

“Lord Father,

It is with great sadness that I announce Mother’s death. I attended the funeral in your name, since I know you are extremely busy governing the western empire. We are all in good health in Silesia and now that I am the duke, I must do what I can to protect our family in this inhospitable land. To restore order in Silesia, I fear I’ll have to plead Heaven for help. I do wish the best for Poland, especially with the future conflicts with Denmark that are yet to come. The people of Poland are strong and courageous; they will have to be even more soon. Until we become subject to the law of God, we must serve under the law of Man. Everything is going according to the Divine Will.”
- Richard d'Ivrea, Dauphin of Francia

Richard II merely sent a brief reply with his condolences. However, he also ended his letter with a short sentence.

“By our ancestor Anschaire d’Ivrea, our family’s will remain wise.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

After perusing the correspondence between father and son, I eventually suspected they conversed in symbolism and codes. The son ended each letter with the reference to the Divine Will, which could have meant “everything is going according to plan”. While Richard III was a pious man, he was also endowed with an astute pragmatic approach to politics, if not Machiavellian. And then, the father’s reference to Anschaire d’Ivrea, the dynasty founder, probably meant he wanted his son to consult the Will of the Anscarids once he ascended as emperor. Indeed, the Will contained various recommendations for the next emperor (it was by now a family tradition). Based on the son’s future actions, I’m inclined to believe Richard III planned a coup d’état in Poland for years, ever since he became a young man. His father constantly reminded him to be patient and prudent, advice that was soundly followed by the smart son. Lastly, if we decipher the son’s letter, he is in fact asking his father for help once he set his plan into motion, which is to usurp Poland’s throne! In his reply, the emperor commends his son’s wisdom. We can only imagine he answered: “I will”, if we assume the symbolism the emperor used in the last sentence below refer to himself and his son (Richard II’s citation). The later entries in the Will also provide a detailed account of the events that have passed, and those that will follow. Truly, Richard II was severely underestimated by almost everyone during his reign, except for his son.

“My beloved son, I am saddened to hear Anastazja’s passing. I do hope she found peace in the celestial skies. She suffered so much in this life, as we did all to protect her. Remain prudent, work hard and let nothing stand in your way. Wolves only show their fangs before the kill. We do what we must to protect our family. May the Holy Father watch over His children.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​


Richard III, duke of Silesia

In any event, Richard the younger attended Anastazja’s funeral in his father’s name. He also inherited her titles, effectively becoming the Duke of Silesia. Now that he had secured a moderate political powerbase, the young man accelerated his plans for Poland.


The new empress

Now a widower, Richard II was pressured to marry once again by his advisers. The Great just went through an unhappy marriage and was quite reluctant to welcome another woman in his intimacy; especially that he ruled Francia as if he was a celibate. Nevertheless, his duty as liege of Francia required him to seek another alliance that could prove beneficial for the Anscarids. The union between Silesia and Francia would later spark the birth of Francia Orientalis, despite Richard’s sad memories of Poland. Surprisingly, the emperor chose a young woman from the Salian house: Cecilia, daughter of Baldemar Salian, duke of Tuscany. The Italian duchy managed to break free from the Holy Roman Empire years before, but it remained vulnerable towards the northern empire. An alliance with Francia might just be their independence’s guarantee. Also, Richard II didn’t inherit his predecessors’ hatred of house Salian either. The betrothal between the 15 year old girl and the old emperor was signed. The marriage would be cemented in March 1196.

When I look back at it, I married many women from Italy... Could it be a subconscious thing?

To Richard’s pleasant surprise, Cecilia managed to reconcile his differences with the fairer sex. While the young empress maintained a proud posture, she also became a firm pillar for the emperor. She took an active part in administrating the empire alongside her husband, a welcome and much appreciated helping hand for Richard. They were as much accomplices in work as in romance. The emperor noted how his young wife loved romantic poetry and as such, he gifted her with an abundant supply, much to her happiness.

“This is the spouse I dreamed I married years ago. I find it odd that my father once despised the Salians so. If their men are as well-bred as my beloved Cecilia, I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to triumph over them years ago.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​


Easy enough

Soon after the imperial couple settled in Paris, Richard once more turned his attention to Iberia. Much of the peninsula remained a divided battlefield. To increase the empire’s territory, the emperor declared war against Count Juliàn for the county of Astorga. Against such a weak opponent, the Great merely sent the Paladins. At the battle of Ponferrada, the Peers scored an unimpressive victory. In order to swiftly conclude the war, additional troops were sent for the siege of Astorga. By November 1196, Count Juliàn became the latest vassal of the empire of Francia.


Break time is over

The Jihad for the Holy Land against the Holy Roman Empire was abandoned in May 1197. The eastern borders now had to be watched closely. Richard never let down his guard against his giant neighbour.


Son, I am so proud of you!

Richard III, my smartest landed heir ever!

The younger Richard now set his plan in motion: he pushed his own claim* for the throne of Poland and officially requested his father’s help, which the emperor did at once. Count Sulislaw of Plock also agred to help the pretender. With the Holy Roman Empire victorious in the Levant, Richard II prudently sent only the Paladins to Poland. A small, but powerful unit, commanded by the veterans Bohemond de Narbonne and Orson de Qula, would prove sufficient to counter King Bogumil’s army. Richard III heavily depended on the empire’s support to succeed as his own meager forces were outnumbered against Poland.

* Around the time, Poland adopted an elective succession law, which meant that any landed noble within the kingdom could be elected as the next king. Richard III exploited a loophole, since this system bypassed blood ties (claims). Election also means that force claims can be legitimate, which is exactly what the Dauphin chose to do.


The Paladins enter Poland

In September 1197, the Paladins reached Poland after sailing from Évreux. Richard III’s army avoided confrontation with the stronger Polish army, preferring to let the Paladins carry the heavy load. Count Sulislaw’s forces were camped in north-eastern Yatvyagi, sieging the county. Time was of the essence, Bohemond and Orson quickly moved to support the Dauphin’s army.


Decisive victory

Bogumil was too slow to avoid the Frankish knights. At the battle of Kalisz, the Peers clashed with Poland. An easy victory was won by the veterans and a relentless chase followed to suppress the remnants. In Sieradz, Bogumil’s army was no more. With Poland’s army destroyed, the way to the capital was now opened. Richard III marched to Krakow and began the long siege for the control of the royal capital.

“For a prince of letters, the Dauphin also appeared as a leader of men. Sometimes, I pictured Duke Richard as the son of his father and the grandson of his grandfather. Ambitious and being more than he let us on. I understand better why his Imperial Majesty Richard the 2nd held him in such high esteem.”
- Orson de Qula, Peer of Francia​

Bogumil didn’t forfeit: a rag-tag army was raised and a clumsy counterattack was set in motion. Their target was the Dauphin’s residence: Upper Silesia. Of course, the Paladins stood in their way.


Cecilia fell pregnant almost immediately after marriage

In January 1198, a son was born to Richard II and Cecilia, Thomas.


Another victory

Poland’s auxiliaries met an untimely demise at the battle Glatz. The situation grew more desperate for Bogumil. Still, he fought on. Another small inexperienced army was gathered. Once again, the Frankish knights crushed them at the battle of Jarocin. Without any opponents left, the Paladins themselves marched to Krakow to aid the Dauphin. In May, Krakow fell to the rebels, followed by the city of Tarnow in June. The young Polish king emptied his lands yet again to field a small army. Without any surprise, they were once again defeated at the battle of Sieradz.

Back in Paris, the emperor only received good news: his vassals remained loyal, the Holy Roman Empire’s borders were uneventful, the empire flourished, his marriage was fruitful and happy, and his son was winning the war for Poland. Then, in August 1198, a message arrived. Violante of Aragon, his niece, requested the emperor’s help...


You didn't think her role was over, did you?

“That girl never cease to surprise me. It seems the female line of our glorious family will crown a queen in Iberia. Oh, father and brother, if only you could see how little Violante has grown!”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​

There is another Violante!
 

Greenskyguy

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Interesting update! Also how will be Poland dealt with? Will a cadet branch of your grand house hold a free Polish kingdom?
 

Hastings1066

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Interesting update! Also how will be Poland dealt with? Will a cadet branch of your grand house hold a free Polish kingdom?
That's the same thing I was wondering. In the update it mentioned the union of Silesia and Francia, not Poland and Francia. It also said that it would spark the birth of Francia Orientalis. Two separate empires perhaps, both administered by the d'Ivrea's? Or one empire to rule them all? I guess we'll just have to wait and see...
 

Mithfir

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Interesting update! Also how will be Poland dealt with? Will a cadet branch of your grand house hold a free Polish kingdom?
That's the same thing I was wondering. In the update it mentioned the union of Silesia and Francia, not Poland and Francia. It also said that it would spark the birth of Francia Orientalis. Two separate empires perhaps, both administered by the d'Ivrea's? Or one empire to rule them all? I guess we'll just have to wait and see...
Richard III is winning so far, isn't he?
 

c0d5579

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aniuby

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I like this AAR so much - it's the only one written in history-book (or even pseudo-history book) style which I read. It seems that just about every other update there's someone getting a kicking, or the CK2 game mechanics decide to screw over the player, and while you're always in a position of strength it doesn't feel dreary since there's the feeling that things could really fall apart any moment.

I'm surprised Aquitaine is still a mega-duchy despite about a century of your management, or maybe it's because they haven't actually rebelled yet and given you a chance to revoke something. I'm a firm believer in prioritising keeping vassals weak over keeping them happy, and perhaps a few (unprovoked) political assassinations here and there would have been helpful for weakening the megadukes. It's absolutely stupid that he rebelled despite having 100 relations, and it's things like that (and the constantly disappearing casus belli) which fuel my loathing for actually playing CK2. You need to enlarge your demesne to keep your vassals from thinking they can overpower you.

Also, your rulers keep marrying young brides despite already having a secure line of succession, even if you won't inherit any lands. Is there a reason for this, like roleplaying? Because all it does is gives your descendants problems with pretenders and other claimants. I usually tell my ruler to marry some old granny with incredible stats to help boost his state attributes.

Richard's son's rebellion for the throne was pretty awesome though. I wish I saw AI 'smartness' that actually personally benefited the player-run country in my games. Violante on the other hand just sounds like a nutter, Aragon vs England? Unless England is having some serious internal problems at thsi point.
 

Mithfir

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... Said everyone to Henry Tudor. :p
Indeed! Since Richard III is my next protagonist, I gotta make sure that he succeeds for the good of the empire, whether he has a horse or not.

I like this AAR so much - it's the only one written in history-book (or even pseudo-history book) style which I read. It seems that just about every other update there's someone getting a kicking, or the CK2 game mechanics decide to screw over the player, and while you're always in a position of strength it doesn't feel dreary since there's the feeling that things could really fall apart any moment.

I'm surprised Aquitaine is still a mega-duchy despite about a century of your management, or maybe it's because they haven't actually rebelled yet and given you a chance to revoke something. I'm a firm believer in prioritising keeping vassals weak over keeping them happy, and perhaps a few (unprovoked) political assassinations here and there would have been helpful for weakening the megadukes. It's absolutely stupid that he rebelled despite having 100 relations, and it's things like that (and the constantly disappearing casus belli) which fuel my loathing for actually playing CK2. You need to enlarge your demesne to keep your vassals from thinking they can overpower you.

Also, your rulers keep marrying young brides despite already having a secure line of succession, even if you won't inherit any lands. Is there a reason for this, like roleplaying? Because all it does is gives your descendants problems with pretenders and other claimants. I usually tell my ruler to marry some old granny with incredible stats to help boost his state attributes.

Richard's son's rebellion for the throne was pretty awesome though. I wish I saw AI 'smartness' that actually personally benefited the player-run country in my games. Violante on the other hand just sounds like a nutter, Aragon vs England? Unless England is having some serious internal problems at thsi point.
What is this music I hear from my eastern window? It is the dawn, and from the Sun's radiance come Lady Van Henegouwen in all her greatness! Thanks again. One more compliment and you get a whole poem! I guess history AARs aren't very popular compared to humourous/memes ones, but then again I used to be a history student before I switched to a communications (journalism) degree, and now I'm heading towards a computer course in September, phew! When I was playing further down, I thought: "Hmm this is a little too easy... I wonder if it will get more challenging at some point." And it does, oh it sure does... I guess Paradox loves to throw a spanner in my well-oiled imperial machine to make it more interesting. I'd rather not reveal too much, as I already hinted that the 14th century will be turbulent.

As for Aquitaine, I really thought he'd leave me alone until his son took over, and then the ultimatum letter popped up. Toulouse probably managed to scheme him into joining his faction. I hoped that gavelkind would split Aquitaine 2 successions later... Oh well, now I managed to weaken him at last. I usually let my vassals be until they start factions... Then, I actively seek to dismantle them as much as I can. Sometimes, it just isn't enough to avoid a revolt.

Marrying young brides you ask? Well, one aspect of this game that I love is to have a large family and marry them all over Europe. As my House prestige increases, so does good marriage opportunities. At the current time, I have a few cadet branches scattered over England, Scotland, Denmark, Poland, Germany and Iberia. I think the AI takes your current allies into consideration before going to war as well. By 1452, my dynasty prestige is a little over 10,000! The big drawback is my close relatives will get claims like you mentioned. Still, I find it more fun that way.

Alas, Richard III is the exception among most of my landed heirs. Still, a most pleasant one! And England? I will explain next chapter... Ah, my troublesome cadet family branches!
 

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England, you say? Troublesome cadet branches? Shades of the Habsburgs. This was another enjoyable post, Mithfir. I especially liked the section about the correspondence containing symbolism and codes. Makes sense in an age when such letters could be easily intercepted and used for nefarious purposes. Not that it could ever happen in this day and age with the internet ;)
 

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England, you say? Troublesome cadet branches? Shades of the Habsburgs. This was another enjoyable post, Mithfir. I especially liked the section about the correspondence containing symbolism and codes. Makes sense in an age when such letters could be easily intercepted and used for nefarious purposes. Not that it could ever happen in this day and age with the internet ;)
Both Richards have the deceitful trait... Since I do some roleplaying immersion, why not go all the way?
 

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Chapter 31​

Return to Iberia (1198-1201)​

With this chapter, we are entering the 13th century! Only 252 years to go!


Osulf, king of England, Castile and Galicia

The war for Poland went well for the Anscarids: the royal capital of Krakow was occupied and King Bogumil’s forces were no more. It would only be a matter of time before Poland welcomed a new king. Richard III remained entrenched in Krakow, fortifying his position, while the Paladins under Orson de Qula continued the siege of Czersk, another royalist stronghold. Czersk would fall in May 1199 with the surrender of Bogumil to Richard III.

“Lord Uncle,
We must sever Galicia from King Osulf of England while he is occupied in the northern isles. The moment to strike is now; for our family is the most powerful on the continent. Now, is the time to prove it once and for all. Please, lend us your aid, for our family’s sake.”
- Violante "Ironside" d'Ivrea, Duchess and Queen consort of Aragon​

Once again, great activities shook the Iberian countryside. Queen Juana of Castile died of old age in July, and as Richard II feared, England now gathered three crowns under King Osulf: Galicia, Castile and England. Of course, the English king’s new Castilian subjects were less than enthusiast about their new liege. Not even a year after Osulf received Castile, revolts rose to challenge his rule. No less than 4 wars were declared against Osulf.


The British Isles 1198

Notice East Anglia in the far north and south-east?

First, a large coalition in England aimed to depose Osulf in order to restore the Yngling Norwegian dynasty on the throne. Led by Duke Ossor II of Mercia, several English nobles preferred to install Amund Halfdansson as the rightful king of England. Osulf found himself on the losing side early in the war, even though he would manage to fend them off.

Second, Duke Diego of Léon fought Osulf for control of Salamanca in Iberia. Seeing the king tremble under his vassals, Diego hoped to wrest the county away from England. Unfortunately for him, he would fail in his endeavour.

Third, Bouchard III d’Ivrea, duke of Beja, led the war for Castile. His own father, Bouchard II of East Anglia, aided him in his quest for Castile. These two dukes were part of the cadet branch of England, who managed to break free from the crown years ago. They were also descendants of King Guy the 1st and Duchess Ælfgifu. Misfortune would follow the cadet branch, as they would lose the duchy of Beja soon after the war for Castile would end in failure, forcing them to retreat to their home in East Anglia.


Iberian peninsula 1198

Fourth, Violante “Ironside” d’Ivrea, duchess and queen consort of Aragon, seized the opportunity to snatch Galicia away from Osulf and instead crown her kinswoman Violante Bouchardez, sister of Bouchard III. Contrary to her distant cousin, Violante had the wise idea to call her uncle Richard II for help. Being fearful of the rise of a united power on his western flank, the emperor gladly obliged once his son Richard III won the war for Poland. Victory was near for the young man, but with victory always come new challenges, as Richard III would soon learn.


Sancho IV's descendants

Osulf is the eldest son of Juana.

The two wars concerning the d’Ivrea family had a common thread linking them: Duchess Juliana of Beja, sister of Queen Juana of Castile. She married Bouchard II d’Ivrea, duke of East Anglia, and sired numerous children before she died in 1190. Among them were Bouchard III, now the current duke of Beja, and Violante Bouchardez. After Juliana’s death, her claims passed on to her children, making them legitimate pretenders to the thrones of Castile and Galicia. Osulf’s shaky situation prompted both Bouchard III and Violante “Ironside” to bare their fangs against the king of England. Ironically, Osulf remained a cousin of the claimants through marriages between the powerful dynasties of the Godwin, Jimena and d’Ivrea families.

In any event, Aragon quickly went on the offensive by capturing two counties, Soria and Calatayud. Violante’s war started brilliantly, until England’s main army arrived in Iberia. The two armies fought a bloody battle in Cuenca, ending with Osulf as the decisive winner. It was after this defeat that the impetuous duchess called Richard II for help. At this time, the tides had turned in favour of England. However, with the emperor entering personally the war, the advantage would prove ephemeral.


I'll do the heavy lifting

To rectify Aragon’s weakness, Richard II raised troops in Francia Occidentalis while Osulf’s army was camped in Toledo, near the empire’s borders. While Beja managed to occupy Coimbra, Bouchard III also faced a terrible defeat against England at the battle of Évora in March. Richard II counter-attacked by sending Bérenger de Crepon, a rising star in the ranks of the Peers, at the head of a large army. Following the battle of Avis, Bérenger earned his first victory in the name of Francia. The imperial army then pursued the English to Coimbra.


Another son so soon...?

Another son was born to the imperial couple in May 1200, Gelduin.

The same month, Bérenger army’s arrived in Porto to save Aragon’s battered army. England’s remnants were then trapped in Salamanca, in mid-western Iberia. Bérenger moved east to Bragança and captured the fortress. Still, England remained close. The imperials intercepted them in Zamora, triggering the victorious battle of Toro. Osulf’s army was annihilated. Without any significant English troops left in Iberia, Richard disbanded his army, believing Aragon could handle the rest. The English king was a wounded animal; he merely licked his wounds until he would bite again.


Wait, this looks familiar...

While Richard II added another victory on the Peers’ list, dissidence brewed inside the empire. Duke Gausebert of Gascogne, the successor of Guilhèm IX, preferred to bend the knee to Richard’s half-brother Robert, the count of Mantua. The emperor also noticed dissension feelings from the duke of Toulouse, unsurprisingly. The restless Aquitanians didn’t learn the lesson from their ill-fated predecessors about opposing Richard’s rule. This, of course, meant that the Great would have to be pro-active in dismantling their petty schemes.

“I will have to remind my son to keep an eye on Aquitaine. It would appear that our southern subjects are especially prolific for breeding traitors. It would be best to kill poisonous weeds with a stronger poison, discreetly.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​


I felt a little better

Which is exactly what Richard chose to do. After all, the emperor never lost his love for court intrigue, especially when it was about removing a potential threat against the throne. Gascogne was an esteemed ruler in Aquitaine, but Lop of Toulouse revealed to be another story. Richard contacted several disaffected courtiers inside Toulouse’s domain. An assassination plan was quickly imagined as the emperor cited: poisonous snakes to feign a pest invasion. Toulouse’s sources mentioned that Lop was bitten many times by snakes and that he quickly succumbed. However, the sources also revealed that Richard II was behind it. At the very least, the Anscarid had one less rival for the time being, or "one less wild horse in the herd" like the emperor often wrote when eliminating political opponents.


Jeez, again?

Still, this didn’t stop resentment towards the emperor. A petty scheme to see Richard II killed was brought to his attention by his whispers. The wife of Count Peter of Gent, Richard’s nephew by his brother Guy, made no attempt to hide her intentions to kill him. Richard merely shrugged it off, confident that none of his courtiers would be foolish enough to assist her. History would prove him right. On the other hand, Gascogne proved a genuine threat. With Lop of Toulouse dead, he instead recruited duke Judikael of Badajoz for his coup.


Richard III, king of Poland

Finally, in November 1200, Richard III became king of Poland. With their purpose complete, the Paladins set sail for Iberia. King Osulf gathered a meager army, stronger than Aragon’s, and prepared his revenge. Orson de Qula eagerly prepped the knights for their next challenge. Bohemond de Narbonne died of an infected wound during the Poland campaign. From the five legendary Peers, Orson remained the sole bearer of their glorious legacy.

“Richard, if you believed the hard part was over, you are about to be sorely disappointed. Au contraire, the real challenge of a ruler is to keep its crown. Do not forget what I taught you, or your enemies will remind you of your lacking when it will be too late.”
- Richard II "the Great" d'Ivrea, Emperor of Francia​


Orson pursues the English

Freshly arrived in Iberia, Orson led the Paladins in a pursuit against England’s army. Eventually, England encountered Beja in Mértola, with Orson hot on their heels. The battle of Mértola ended in a victory for the legendary Peer.


Violante and Violante, Queens of Iberia

In the end, Osulf chose to focus his remaining strength in the British Isles. The coalition led by Mercia stood strong, but there was hope to defeat them. As such, the war for Galicia ended with the two Violantes as the victors. Violante d’Ivrea became the new queen of Galicia. As the Iberian situation seemed to take a turn for the best, the emperor received an urgent letter from his son in April 1201.


It's not over yet it seems...

“Lord Father,
Your wisdom proved right, as I now face a rebellion to restore the false king Bogumil on Poland’s throne. The wretched cur languishes in my dungeons as I am writing these words, yet I cannot execute him. I must show my subjects I am better than a simple rebel lusting for power. I beseech the empire’s aid to crush the unfaithful rebels, as Bogumil left Poland’s army bare. I suspect another player will make his presence known as well. This new rebellion appeared too quickly to be mere coincidence.”
- Richard III d'Ivrea, King of Poland​

Curiously, this was one of the few letters in which Richard III left out his reference to the Divine Will. I suspect the tone the Dauphin used was to emphasize the urgency of the Poland situation. While Richard III successfully usurped Poland’s throne, he annihilated the royal army in the process. When he became king, this meant that his own army was left in a crippled state. As his father warned, it’s when the prey is weak that wolves show their fangs for the kill. At the mere scent of blood, the hounds are quick to follow. Fortunately for the new king, Richard II had every intention of helping his son, no matter the cost.