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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Peter Ebbesen

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Austria: From pawn to superpower

Having just installed 1.8UK and IGC1.7c, I took power as Austria in my first 'play it to the end, come hell or high water' game. Very hard difficulty/normal aggression/base victory points/no missions/random & historical events.


Chapter I. 'The Pen and the Sword'.

It is 1492 and Maximillian I is king. Austrias core provinces include the rich gold mines in Styria. Though potential allies are many, Austria has many borders and no ports. Maximillian creates a military alliance with Bohemia and Hungary, hoping to diplomatically annex these two nations some time in the future. Incidentally, this creates the strongest military alliance in central and eastern Europe, though Turkey and Poland-Lithuania are constant threats. In the following years Austria forges royal marriages with all Catholic nations that show the least bit of interest and Maximillian writes scores of letters of introduction. He also initiates the bailiff program, guaranteed to bring each province a bailiff. Time passes...

And it's june 1501. The crown of Hungary is suddenly without a king and Maximillian I gains Hungary by dynastical inheritance. The bailiff program is extended to the former Hungarian provinces and an extra army is raised. The Austrian army has a peacetime strength of 100,000 men. Over the next few years the letters of introduction continue flowing from Maximillians hand but Bohemia repeatedly refuses vassalisation. The French and the Spanish have minor wars every few years, but nobody bothers Austria, a nation well-liked by all. In fact, not once, but twice, all diplomatic relations increase because of Maximillians fame. By 1516 Protestantism comes around, created by some heretical German named Martin Luther, but nobody really cares. How little did Maximillian know the problems Protestants would cause in due time.

In the year of our lord 1519, Maximillian, first of his name, dies. He leaves behind him a prosperous nation, twice the size of what he inherited and excellent relations with the European nations. He is known to later scholars as Maximillian the Good.

Karl V takes the throne and is elected Holy Roman Emperor. Amongst his first acts is a legal reform which, over the years, brings chief judges to every province. He forges the alliance of Austria, Bohemia, Bavaria, Savoy and Tuscany. At a time when the rest of Europe is at war, Austria and its' allies stay peaceful, and, finally, after years of careful diplomacy, in July 1531 Bavaria and Bohemia are vassalised. The European family is now splintered into Protestant and Catholic nations and relations have soured somewhat. Then disaster strikes...

It is January 1541 (just six months before the earliest diplomatic annexation possible) and Bohemia turns protestant, dissolving all relations. Karl V is franctic as forty years of diplomacy is overturned by the spreading heretical teachings of Luther. There can be only one response to such treachery. Karl V readies his armies on short notice, Ferdinand leading one and Von Frundsberg the other, and, in May, declares war on Bohemia - he does not invite the alliance partners to participate for this is an Austrian matter. Ferdinand marches on the capital and seiges the fortifications while Von Frundsberg assaults every other Bohemian province. Thousands die in the bitter winter but by August 1542 all of Bohemia is under Austrian control and Bohemia is annexed, never again to exist as a separate nation. Such is the fate of traitors and the conduct of Austias first war in 50 years. The Protestant nations have no love left for Austria after this.

The rebuilding of the army done, in December 1545 Bavaria is invited to join the growing Austrian empire and they gratefully accept. This is also the year in which the alliance is joined by Venice, making its members Austria, Tuscany, Savoy and Venice. This has almost immediate consequences as only five years later Venice declares war on Turkey. The entire alliance joins them in the fight, but two years later, in March 1552, Karl V withdraws Austria from the war having fulfilled his treaty obligations and gaining Serbia and Wallacia in a seperate peace.

In 1555 Savoy is vassalised by Austria which will (as history shows) turn into one of the longest lasting vassalisations of all time and one of the truest alliances.

Anno domine 1556, Karl V 'The Just' dies. The Austrian empire consists of the Austrian, Bavarian, Bohemian and Hungarian provinces as well as Serbia and Wallacia, Savoy being a vassal. In his reign Austria declared one war and fought two, the standing army having a strength of 150,000 men of which 40,000 were cavalry. Two nations were annexed, of which one peacefully.

Ferdinand I is crowned king, but the electors of the HRE (most of which is now Protestant) elects Felipé I of Spain HRE. Ferdinand, having waited so many years for the crown, dies untimely in 1559 and a regency is proclaimed. It guides Austria until 1564, when Maximillian II (Saint Maximillian) is crowned king. The peaceful decade has left Austria richer and more powerful than ever.


Chapter II. 'The Counterreformation and the years of bitter strife'

In 1565 the Catholic world rejoices as the ideas of counterreformation spreads. At last a chance to take the fight to the Protestants! Maximillian II is ecstatic and with his feet firmly planted in this world but his vision within the one to come, he declares war on Brandenburg in May. This will be a short victorious war bringing glory to the church and empire, so he doesn't invite the allies. Brandenburg not being so constrained calls upon its allies Saxony, the Hanseatic League and the Teutonic Knights. By November Saxony is forcibly annexed and by December Wurtenburg, Baden and Thuringen declares war - this time Maximillian calls upon the Austrian Allies and they gladly join the fight. By now it is Brandenburg, the Hanseatic League & the Teutonic Knights vs. Austria and Wurtenburg, Baden and Thuringen vs. Austria, Parma (which has annexed Milan somewhat earlier), Venice, Tuscany and Savoy. The allies race to the battlefields as the Austrian Northern command is caught in an unfriendly winter.

Not all of Austrias forces have been commited: 50,000 men remain in former Hungary near Turkey, just in case. This turns out to be fortunate as Venice declares war on Turkey and Georgia in 1566 dragging the Austrian alliance with it. This year is noteworthy because the Austrian vassal Savoy annexes both Wurtenburg and Baden. The Three-front war is turning into a real meat-grinder, but by January 1569 Venice makes peace with Turkey (thank God!). This frees up resources, allowing the annexation of Brandenburg in 1569 and Thuringen in January 1571. The remaining enemies (the League and the Knights) sue for peace and it is granted. There are a few rebellions to take care of, but nothing the battlehardened (but numerically weakened) Austrian army can't handle.

Austria gains all of seven months of peace but in August 1571 the Hanseatic League, Portugal and Pommerania declares war. Portugal is too far removed to really contribute but Maximillian II calls upon the allies anyway, a wise choice, since Hannover and the Teutonic Knights declare war in December 1571. The Austrian allies join this fight as well. The easy victories of the early counterreformation are gone and foreign armies are marching all over the Northern parts of the Austrian Empire. In november 1573 the Palatinat declares war, but they are too late, too late. In march 1574 the Hanseatic League is annexed gaining Austria several ports. Austria is no longer land-locked and the wars are looking better every day, though too many Austrian provinces show sign of looting.

It is October 1574 and grim news is brought before his majesty. Hessen has declared war and its allies, Kleves and Spain, join the war. The remaining protestant forces are insignificant compared to the might of Spain (financed by American gold) so Maximillian halts offensive operations and begins to consolidate his armies. By april 1575 he signs a peace with Portugal and Pommerania paying 250 ducats to smooth the way and sending a reconstructed Northern army into Hessen, he offers a truly generous peace giving Hessen 250 ducats while seiging their capital. Hessen agrees in August, thus removing the Spanish alliance from the war. Only in the war for a year, the Spanish nevertheless managed to destroy the forces of Savoy, Parma and Venice, leaving Austrias allies virtually unarmed. But now only the Palatinat remains at war with the Austrian alliance and alone they can never oppose us.

The bright news of August are overshadowed by the Turkish DOW in November and the French DOW in December. Soon fresh hostile armies are marching on the newly conquered provinces, but fortunately two or three of them are in revolt at any given time, greatly slowing the enemies advance.

Anno domine 1576, Maximillian II, later sainted, dies - the bitter year of 1575 having taken its final toll. He annexed Saxony, Brandenburg, Thuringen and the Hanseatic League while his vassal Savoy annexed Baden and Wurtenburg. His empire stretches from the Turkish Empire in the southeast to Poland-Lithuania in the northeast, to the Netherlands in the northwest (with Hannover as a buffer zone) to France in the west to Spain in the southwest (Savoy as a buffer zone). Maximillian II initiated one war and the repercussions of that war were still felt 11 years later at his death. He had peace for one year and seven months of his reign. Despite the bitter years of war Austria remains the stablest Nation in the world constantly rated +3.

Rudolf II takes power in a war-ravaged yet powerful Austria. He is only at war on two fronts against France (and the Palatinat in an older ongoing war) and Turkey. By March he forces peace with the Palatinat with nothing granted nor gained and by November with France at the cost of 250 ducats. Under the brilliant generalship of Karl the Austrian armies turn against the Turks (except for those constantly suppressing rebellions in the newly conquered provinces) and two years later, in April 1578 peace with Turkey is a reality, though nothing is gained. Austria is now at peace... [At this time I examined the savegame. Not surprizingly Austria with badboy 36 was way ahead of France (17) and Savoy (9). Spain had 0 badboy!]


Chapter III: 'To Defend the Realm'

For 11 years Austria has peace with her neighbours and Rudolf II orders new armies raised and a general fortification program that later monarchs adopt: raise all provinces with no revolt risk to the maximum fortification level and don't build a single fortification otherwise. This makes it easy to defeat any rebels, makes it nearly impossible for them to spread, and, in case of war, will leave enemy armies no option but to go for the possibly revolting provinces first. By 1589 the Austrian armies are as strong as ever before (at 300,000 men actually rather stronger), the alliance of Austria, Savoy, Venice (and on and off Parma and Tuscany) remains the single strongest alliance in the world which is fortunate, because all hell is about to break loose...

It is 1589 and Turkey declares war on Austria. Though Turkey is slowly becoming the sick man of Europe, she is not negligible so Karl and his 60,000 man army turns south. But if Turkey is a spring flood the tides of a greater war are approaching rapidly, soon to be battering the Austrian Empire. Battered England (half-size by now) and Sweden declares war. Hannover declares war. Pommerania declares war. Poland-Lithuania declares war. That is five declarations of war in a month! Rudolf orders his generals to defeat the opposing nations, one by one, leaving the others to ravage the newly conquered provinces, a harsh strategy, but a necessary one and in 1590 wih a few provinces under enemy control, Poland-Lithuania withdraws from the war and Hannover withdraws offering Oldenburg, which is gratefully accepted. This turns out to be a mistake since Austria now borders the Netherlands, so France and the Netherlands declare war in April 1591 and a huge army of the Netherlands conquers Oldenburg immediately. Rudolf II offers the Netherland Oldenburg for peace and they agree. In the meanwhile the Central and Southern commands have not been idle and neither have the Austrian allies. By December 1591 the peace treaty of Silesia removes England, Pommerania and Turkey from the wars at no cost, and only France remains in the fight. The Alliance forces outnumber the French by at least 6 to 1 so France accepts peace in 1592 with nothing gained. Considering the opposition Austria faced it is understandable that no gains were made in these wars, yet Rudolf II is now a bitter man.

Bitter perhaps, but not broken. He rebuilds the armies, increases the fortifications and builds a colony in Chicontini in the Americas. A few explorers and a rush of settlers allows him to expand it into a city whereby 500 natives become Austrian citizens. Considering that all of Europe seems to be uniting against Austria Rudolf becomes convinced that Austrias future lies overseas. But he will need many more settlers to reach that goal.

This is not to be. After 12 years of peace Turkey declares war in 1604 bringing with it Georgia. This is bad news, since Georgia has been at peace for decades, allowing them to build a not inconsiderable army (100,000+). This is immediately followed by a declaration of war from the Palatinat, Spain and Hessen. At this news and facing the third major war of his reign Rudolf II dies untimely June 1604. Rudolf II, the builder, reigned for 28 years. Under his leadership Austria declared no wars but fought two (almost three) against most of Europe. While he didn't add to Austrias possessions by the sword, neither did he ultimately lose any. A monument erected during the regency following his death, shows Rudolf directing engineers as they build a series of fortifications with the caption: 'By the grace of God, I DEFENDED THE EMPIRE.'. (*)

The regency guides Austria through five years of wars ultimately gaining Macedonia and Bulgaria from Turkey, but when peace is proclaimed in 1609, only a shadow of the Alliance armies of a decade before remains. Austrias faithful vassal Savoy has lost Nice, leaving it with Savoy, Baden and Wurtenburg.

[At this point Austrias badboy is but 28].


(*) Historical note: It is interesting to note, that although the title of Holy Roman Emperor had belonged to the Spaniards since 1556 since the electors (rightfully as it turned out) feared the united kingdom of Austria-Hungary-Bohemia, the Austrian monarch claimed the title of Emperor and called his kingdom the Austrian Empire while attempting to maintain good relations with the Papal States (however, consider the wars of 1677-1679 and 1706-1708, described in chapter V). This was, no doubt, one of the chief reasons for the bitter Austrian-Spanish rivalry.

To be continued...
 

The Danish King

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Great AAR!
 

unmerged(598)

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Not only are you a very badboy, but a successful one too. Excellent AAR, I love the way you give each King a name. Looking forward to the next installment.
 

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I can only agree with sean! Really great AAR! I hope, the next chapter will soon be available...

Tuenne
 

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indemnities

I don't see why you keep on paying indemnities and having white peaces with the smaller countries. Wouldn't it be better to take the chance to annex them? You do have the strongest alliance in the world. You have the might of Austria-Hungary. It shouldn't be that hard to take out a small german principality.
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Re: indemnities

Originally posted by Charles I
I don't see why you keep on paying indemnities and having white peaces with the smaller countries. Wouldn't it be better to take the chance to annex them? You do have the strongest alliance in the world. You have the might of Austria-Hungary. It shouldn't be that hard to take out a small german principality.

It's not the small German principality by itself that is the problem. It is the 200,000-400,000 combined armies attacking from all directions (and with humongous reserves on the way) that neccessitates knocking a few enemy alliances out quickly, and in these conditions stopping a coalition with Hessen, Kleves & Spain (1575 war) at a cost of 250 seemed cheap, since only the Palatinat remained in the fight then... until the next round of DOWs. Also it was my strategy to leave a thin line of independant Nations between Austria and France, the Netherlands and Spain; This gave me more strategic room than if they could have crossed a common border in order to attack.

Also note that most of my Monarch were actually fairly peaceful, defending themselves against outside aggression but not initiating any wars. I will post chapters IV+ going on to 1792 as soon as they have been written from my extensive notes, but by swift calculation I only count 3 Austrian DOWs. Against Bohemia (traitors!), Brandenburg (counterreformation!) and .... well I'll leave you in the dark temporarily, suffice to say Karl VI (1711-1740) had some very strange ideas.
 

hjarg

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Good AAR. But when being a counter-reformed catholic, you should have converted at least one German country. After all, what defender of the catholic faight are you anyway???
 

Peter Ebbesen

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Originally posted by hjarg
Good AAR. But when being a counter-reformed catholic, you should have converted at least one German country. After all, what defender of the catholic faight are you anyway???

Conversion is for a few years, but annexation is forever...

And a pretty good defender, though Leopold I changed that.

Part 2: 1612-1792 has been submitted as a seperate thread, but due to a typo it is labeled 1512-1792. Enjoy.