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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

JabberJock14

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The House Plantagenet almost needs no introduction. One of the most famous houses in medieval Europe, they ruled England from Henri II in 1154 through Richard II in 1399 on the main line, and through Richard III in 1485 in the cadet branches (House of Lancaster and House of York).

Some of England’s most famous kings hail from the family, including Richard the Lionheart, Edward I, Edward III and Henry V and as well as some of the most infamous in John, Richard II and Richard III. At their peak, the Plantagenet family held parts of Ireland, seized control of Wales and large chunks of France.

But this is an AAR of what came before – the House d’Anjou. Before they were the masters of England, they were the mere Counts of Anjou, in northwest France. And this AAR will begin with the Count of Tours, Foulques IV, who in real life was the father to the future King of Jerusalem, and grandfather to Geoffrey Plantagenet who, in turn, was father of Henri II of England.

This AAR will start in 1066, with the count aiming to take back territories lost to his family over the prior decade. Can this House d’Anjou match the heights the real one achieved? Only time will tell…

A few notes:

I’m using the spelling the game provides for names, so for example, it will be “Foulques”, rather than “Fulk”, and “Guilhem”, rather than “William.”

There was no “Duke of Anjou” until much later than the period we begin. However, since the game refers to the title as “Duke of Anjou” that is how I’ll be referring to it.

I’m aiming to play the characters to their personality traits, but there’s also some gaming there – I want to approach the heights of the actual Plantagenet family after all.

I’m playing with all but two DLCs – Monks and Mystics and Sunset Invasion.

I was largely inspired by @coz1 ’s The Rightful King AAR – so hopefully it can be as enjoyable as that is.

Feedback and discussion always welcome!

Update: We have come a long way since this post was written nearly a year ago! As such I feel as though I should include a link to the second character we play as. I would encourage you start from the beginning, but it is long, so if you wish to get a bit closer to where we are in the story you can start from our second character.

Book II: Angevin Ambition (Chapter 139)
 
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Before Plantagenet -Chapter 1



September 1066 –Tours, France

“He is uninterested, my lord.”

Foulques d’Anjou sighed. “What of his sister?”

“I do not understand why you are interested in the old crone,” Andre said.

“If you do not understand, then perhaps I made a mistake in appointing you chancellor,” Foulques said as he glared across the man from across the large wooden table.

Andre bowed his head. “I mis-speak my lord. I know you seek Duke Guilhem’s knights. But I wonder if it is worth it. What good is securing your title if you have not a son to pass it to?”

Foulques frowned. Even if Andre was more able for the task than his former chancellor, he did not like the lowborn man anymore. Andre was stubborn. A decent diplomatic mind made up for some of that, but not enough to cover his lack of ambition. Or imagination.

“And you would suggest?” Foulques asked.

“Your stepsister, Constance,” Andre replied. “She is but a few years younger than you. And your stepfather would bring a powerful alliance.”



“Which I already could call upon,” Foulques said. “He is, after all, my mother’s husband. And she’s been a dutiful wife, bearing him more children.”

“Then someone closer,” Andre said. “Aenor de Thouars? Her father’s troops would have ease of access to Anjou – helpful in a battle against your brother.”

“He can call upon less men than me,” Foulques grumbled.

“But between your forces, Duke Robert’s and the count’s, your brother would hardly stand a chance,” Andre said.

He already hardly stands a chance, Foulques thought to himself. When had Duke Geoffrey ever shown himself capable of handling matters of war? Certainly not when he lost Maine to William the Bastard of Normandy. And not when his refusal to come to Foulques' aid had cost the young man Saintonge to Guilhem, Duke of Aquitaine, Poitou and Gascony.

In time, Foulques might have both back. But for now he had to contend with the problem in front of him – how to remove Geoffrey from power.



As Foulques listened to council in his keep in Tours, his mind drew towards a military solution. He was confident he could handle his brother on the field of battle, both with his tactics and his ability to inspire men. Geoffrey’s questionable military mind and leadership qualities had been further weakened by his excommunication. By himself, Foulques thought victory likely. With his stepfather Duke Robert, it was assured.

But war had its risks as Adrien constantly reminded him. And as Foulques glanced toward the bald spymaster, he knew such a lecture was again about to come.

“I agree an alliance with the Duke of Aquitaine is a tempting,” Adrien said. “But beside that he stole Saintonge from you, my lord, I’m not sure he’s inclined to hand his sister Beatritz to you. And then my spies are not certain he can be trusted to back you.”





“So you would suggest?”

“The de Thouars girl,” Adrien said. “She’s a tasty morsel, of sound mind. And she has but one brother. Should luck be with us, perhaps your family might expand your holdings to Thouars without a drop of blood.”

“Is that all?” Foulques asked.

“You know my thoughts on attempting to overthrow your brother,” Adrien said. “Why risk yourself in battle when an assassin could accomplish the same goal?”

“Because that takes time,” Foulques said. “And should it be traced back to me, I’ll have the reputation of a kinslayer. If my stepfather did not have such a title, he might already have dealt with young Philippe.”



“A living kin-slayer can do more than a dead warrior,” Adrien said.

“I’ve a mind for war. Not for plotting.”

“I disagree,” Adrien said. “A better mind for war. But a fine plotter as well. And the de Thouars girl also has a knack for both, I hear.”

Foulques stroked his goatee. “You both have given me much to consider. I shall make a decision in the morn.”

The two councilors departed leaving the Count of Tours alone. He looked over the large map strewn across the table. Anjou was a prize, yet, it was but a start. Foulques desired to reclaim all that his family had lost – Maine, Saintonge, and perhaps more.

If his advisers did not share his ambition, then… he might need to find himself new advisers.
 
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Specialist290

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Well, this looks like it's going places. I'll have to keep an eye on it :) I've always been a little fascinated by the Angevins myself -- hopefully you'll take them onwards and upwards to heights to rival those of their real-world counterparts.
 

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Well, this looks like it's going places. I'll have to keep an eye on it :) I've always been a little fascinated by the Angevins myself -- hopefully you'll take them onwards and upwards to heights to rival those of their real-world counterparts.
Thanks! This start is probably my favorite in CK2. It also probably helps that I have a book on the Plantagenets on my computer desk. :)

But also just because of all the different ways it can go depending on what happens around you - does William win in England, can Philip keep France from devolving into constant civil war, how aggressive is the HRE and what happens in Spain? Plus, I find with the Reaper's Due, the marriage claim game within France can really pay off without having to invest in intrigue. Of course, since I'm playing with matralineal marriages off, that could burn me as well.

We'll see how this one goes though. Hope I can at least take a crown, somewhere, eventually.
 

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Welcome the to the world of AARing @JabberJock14! And you decide to play as the House of Anjou... yes, I have a deep soft spot. Not only in CK, but also to revive them in EU!! :cool: And inspiration from coz1 is always a good thing!

Count me subbed, and can't wait to see how you play this through. And may this first AAR expedition of yours be memorable and successful, as all first AARs should be.

Cheers!
 

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You do me a great honor, sir. I thank you and it may not surprise you to learn I am very much a fan of the Plantagenets myself. Prior to messing around with the Atheling I spent several games playing as Geoffrey a little down the line from the 1066 start. I forget the year I always started (early in the 12th century), but he already has the "surname" by that point. It never went quite as well as RL but it never failed to be a very fun game. I will definitely be reading this with interest.

And an excellent start! Ah...the troubles of trying to find a suitable bride that will help you win wars...oh, and have an heir and spare, of course. ;)

Good luck!
 

JabberJock14

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Welcome the to the world of AARing @JabberJock14! And you decide to play as the House of Anjou... yes, I have a deep soft spot. Not only in CK, but also to revive them in EU!! :cool: And inspiration from coz1 is always a good thing!

Count me subbed, and can't wait to see how you play this through. And may this first AAR expedition of yours be memorable and successful, as all first AARs should be.

Cheers!
Thanks for support! I'm curious how to you revive the Angevins in EU4?

You do me a great honor, sir. I thank you and it may not surprise you to learn I am very much a fan of the Plantagenets myself. Prior to messing around with the Atheling I spent several games playing as Geoffrey a little down the line from the 1066 start. I forget the year I always started (early in the 12th century), but he already has the "surname" by that point. It never went quite as well as RL but it never failed to be a very fun game. I will definitely be reading this with interest.

And an excellent start! Ah...the troubles of trying to find a suitable bride that will help you win wars...oh, and have an heir and spare, of course. ;)

Good luck!
Thanks for the luck and my pleasure with the compliment. I found your narrative compelling. And focus on the details. It's amazing how you can craft plenty from what the game gives you in events surrounding the people around your character.

It's funny, I've never actually played with Geoffrey himself! I'm a sucker for starting at the early dates, so I usually play at the Charlemagne start or the Sept. 1066 one. I always feel like there won't be enough time to accomplish what I want if I start a little later.

The marriage game in France is certainly interesting... I recently explored the Beatritz de Poitou option for the first time because Guilhem's troops are extremely useful if you decide to take your shot at William (provided he loses his war in England) and I was surprised how well it worked out in warfare, but getting a son from that marriage is very hard. This game thus far is playing out a bit differently however...
 
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Before Plantagenet - Chapter 2

October 1066 –Tours, France

Foulques d’Anjou noticed his chancellor eyeing him. As a small smirk formed on the lips of the count, he raised his goblet of wine at Andre. A glare was the return.

“Is something the matter… my Lord?” Beatritz de Poitou asked him.

“My councilor is sore I do not heed his council,” Foulques said, drinking down his wine. “But he shall learn his place in time.”

Beatritz’s dark eyebrows rose. “Is it a matter of import?”

Foulques looked at Beatritz. “I would say my choice of wife would be considered of import. Perhaps even great import.”

Beatritz’s eyes widened. “He wished for someone other than myself?”

Foulques nodded. “Indeed. Of course, you are here. They are not.”

A smile formed on the woman’s face before taking large gulp of her own wine. Foulques did not know if it was out of pleasure, relief or brought about by uncertainty. But he did not care. He had what he wanted.

The proof was seated to Beatritz left – Guilhem, Duke of Aquitaine. Enemies a few years back but now their families joined by the bonds of marriage, Foulques was nearly certain he could secure the cooperation of Guilhem for his attack on Geoffrey.



Foulques hoped as much from his stepfather as well. It was a good sign then that Duke Robert had accepted the invitation to the wedding feast, joining his wife, Foulques’ mother, Ermengarde. They were seated toward Foulques’ right, along with his sister Hildegarde and her courtier husband Joscelin de Courtenay. So too were Foulques teenage half-brothers, Robert and Simon and his half-sister Aureade, all of the union between his mother and Duke Robert.

They looked over the others in the hall from their long table – his councilors, courtiers and the travelling retinues of the noblemen present. The young count of Vendome, Bouchard, was not in attendance, but his regents were.

As Foulques again glanced down at Robert speaking with Ermengarde, the count was reminded to seek a moment to discuss the finer details of the alliance with both Dukes. But he could not just yet as he had to contend with an expected, but frustrating situation seated to Foulques’ right – Duke Geoffrey.



“Your new wife seems to have quite the appetite,” Geoffrey whispered to his younger brother. “Have you already put a child in her belly?”

Without turning his gaze from the courtiers in the hall, Foulques answered. “I have not yet bed her, brother.”

Geoffrey sipped his wine. “I would have assumed you had – she has a small belly already. And given her age, making sure she can have a child would have been the wise decision. Surely the good Duke Guilhem would not have objected to you taking your marital rights early.”

The count bit his tongue. In his few days since meeting Beatritz, her gluttony was undeniable, and despite a somewhat long and gaunt face, she was much thicker in body. She was also not particularly active, preferring to remain in the keep, rather than exploring the grounds.

Yet, while Geoffrey’s assessment was not wrong, Foulques did not wish to hear of it. He knew he had taken a risk in this marriage. It annoyed him when Andre made light of it. It angered him when his foolish brother did.

“I am securing important alliances for us,” Foulques said, doing his best to restrain his voice and still not turning to his brother. “I have Duke Guilhern’s help when we attempt to retake Maine from the Bastard. What have you done? Have you even looked at a new potential wife?”

“You sound like mother,” Geoffrey said. “Can you believe she suggested our stepsister, Constance to replace my dear departed Julienne?”

“And you were not interested?” Foulques asked.

“She is the zealous type,” Geoffrey said. “She would not approve of actions toward the church that are sometimes necessary.”

Foulques refilled his goblet with more wine. The desire of Geoffrey to appoint his own bishop of Le Mans had gotten the Duke excommunicated. In Foulques’ eyes, it was a needless provocation with little return. But his brother was often short-sighted in such ways.

“Then perhaps she would be a good match,” he said, finally turning to Geoffrey. “She appears to have the sense you lack.”

Geoffrey took another drink of his wine, now turning his gaze toward the courtiers in the hall. “You would be wise to watch your tongue brother. Such talk might seem treasonous.”

“Offering council is treason now?” Foulques said. “If it is, then you will need someone else to oversee your armies.”

“Perhaps the Baron de Cholet?” Geoffrey asked. “He is not quite of your mind, but far more obedient.”

“I did not realize you were searching for a dog, rather than a marshal,” Foulques said. “You shall never strike back at the Bastard with that attitude.”

Geoffrey slammed his wine glass down and spun his head toward his brother. “And I wonder if you seek to repay the Bastard at all! Your allies may well have other purposes.”

A tap on Foulques’ shoulder stopped him from responding. He and Geoffrey both looked up to see their mother, Ermengarde standing over them. She motioned for the two to follow her away from the feast for a moment. The men did as they were instructed.

Once out of earshot, she slapped them both across the face.

“You fools,” Ermengarde said. “You would sully a happy occasion with needless bickering? Geoffrey, your brother chooses a wife and you seem fit to mock him for his choice? And Foulques, you waste your energy questioning your brother’s rule when you should be preparing to bed your bride?”

“Our conversation was meant to be private,” Geoffrey said.

“Then you both should have kept your voice down,” Ermengarde said. “All of us alongside could hear.”

The two men looked to the floor. Their mother shook her head.

“Geoffrey, go,” Ermengarde said. “I have to discuss matters with Foulques.”

Geoffrey opened his mouth, but no words came out. Instead he sighed, kissed his mother’s hand and returned to the feast.

“He is a fool,” Foulques said.

“And so are you,” Ermengarde said. “You would have the whole world know you mean to strike at the Bastard?”

“That is one possibility,” Foulques said. “I have other ideas for how best to use my new allies.”

“I can imagine,” Ermengarde said. “And I care not what you plan to use them for, except you be more discreet as to your plotting. You will not get far if you are willing to reveal yourself just to win a silly argument with your brother.”

Foulques lowered his head. He wished to argue. But he knew better.

“What do you think of my bride?” Foulques asked.

“I think Duke Guilhem is happy someone was willing to take his sister off his hands,” Ermengarde said. “But I am one to talk. I was not the youngest of woman when Robert took me as his wife. And I have borne him children. We shall see if what she brings is worth the risk you take.”

Foulques was silent. But he nodded, his eyes drifting again to the ground.

“Well then, we should return to the feast,” Ermengarde said.

“You may, mother,” Foulques said. “I… if you would, I would like to discuss a matter with Robert. And then Guilhem.”

Ermengarde sighed. “I will fetch Robert. Guilhem, I shall not. Discreet, Foulques. Not obviously summoning away both men you tout as new allies, in front of your brother, while not inviting him to your little conference.”

Foulques again lowered his head. She knew. And yet, she merely counseled him in how to avoid greater suspicion. Did she realize that attempting to stop this battle was fruitless? Did she secretly favor Foulques to remove his brother?

Regardless, he was not one to complain, especially as the old Duke Robert joined him a few minutes later.

“What do you need of me boy?” Robert demanded. “And what that couldn’t be said in front of others?”

“Has my mother spoke to you of any plans I have?” Foulques said. “Regarding our alliance.”

“She said you wanted my support,” Robert said. “Beyond that, nothing.”

“I do seek your support my Lord,” Foulques said. “I plan to soon strike at my brother in hopes of freeing Anjou from is mis-rule.”

“A rebellion against your brother,” Robert said. “I see why you have come to me. You’ll find few better, boy.”

The old man chuckled. Foulques knew well enough – the Duke had rebelled against both his father and later his brother, both of whom were King of the Franks at the time. Robert’s rebellion had not netted him a crown, but it had gotten him the Duchy of Burgundy.

“Then, I may count on your assistance?”

Robert laughed. “And why should I give that to you over Geoffrey? You are both my wife’s sons.”

“Because he endangers all my uncle strove for,” Foulques said.

“You believe I care what happens to your uncle’s legacy, boy?” Robert asked. “And perhaps I think one of your half-brothers may suit better than you to be duke.”

“Before Duke Guihem picks it clean? Or the Bastard finishes what he started?” Foulques asked. “Or perhaps your nephew, King Philippe, decides to expand his demesne beyond the Ile de France…”

“Get to the point boy,” Robert said.

“With me, you gain an ally,” Foulques said. “One, who given time, can grow in strength to the west of the King, and Thibault de Blois, while you sit in the East. Should the need arise, we could flank either. And with my alliance with Duke Guilhem, the three of us could stand against anyone in the realm, and perhaps a few beyond it.”

“Point taken boy,” Robert said. “You’ll have your alliance.”



“Thank you for your assistance,” Foulques said. “I promise my lord, you will not regret this.”

“See to it that I do not,” Robert said. “Your mother speaks highly of you boy. We’ll see if you prove yourself worthy of such high praise.”

The duke departed to rejoin the feast. Foulques cracked a small smile. Robert was, in some ways, the hard part. The Guilhem part in this was all but finalized when he agreed to marriage of Foulques and Beatritz.

Foulques returned to the feast. Once he was seated again, Geoffrey leaned in once more.

“Such a woman you have there,” he whispered. “So lady-like.”

Beatritz was in the process of devouring into a large leg of boar. After tearing off a huge chunk with her teeth, she washed it down with a large gulp of her wine.

She was a glutton for sure. But he didn’t marry her for temperance – she brought support. And if she also brought forth a son, it would hardly matter what her manners were.

Foulques leaned toward her. “Come wife, I believe it is time for us to retire.”

Beatritz did not protest, instead wiping her mouth with her arm and then following obediently as Fouqlues took her hand and led her away from the feast. As he did, the Count threw one last look at Geoffrey.

Soon brother, Foulques thought, soon.

 
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Folques is moving quickly, securing personal alliances with two powerful dukes. Perhaps it is a testament to Geoffrey's (lack of) ability that he isn't able to immediately see this move for what it is -- though perhaps he has his suspicions at that.

And I'm getting this distinct impression that, no matter who it is that reigns as Duke of Anjou, it is ruled by Ermengarde, at least for now. She seems to have both of her sons pretty securely under her thumb.

I'm definitely getting a sort of Lion in Winter vibe from the cast so far -- which is only appropriate, given the family history, I suppose.
 

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Folques is moving quickly, securing personal alliances with two powerful dukes. Perhaps it is a testament to Geoffrey's (lack of) ability that he isn't able to immediately see this move for what it is -- though perhaps he has his suspicions at that.

And I'm getting this distinct impression that, no matter who it is that reigns as Duke of Anjou, it is ruled by Ermengarde, at least for now. She seems to have both of her sons pretty securely under her thumb.

I'm definitely getting a sort of Lion in Winter vibe from the cast so far -- which is only appropriate, given the family history, I suppose.
I'm of the mind Geoffrey has to know something is up, but an unpopular excommunicated Duke may not find a lot of powerful allies. As for Ermengarde, I wish I had taken an earlier screenshot I could post (I have one from later, but it contains spoilers) but she's brave and wroth... so yeah, she isn't going to let her two sons get away with behaving like that in front of an audience.

Ha, yeah, it's definitely appropriate given the family and location.
 
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There is a certain degree of plotting going on here, not all of it fruitful I suspect.
 

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As revealed by my avatar, I come from "Anjou" (barony of Cholet in game terms ;) ). I'm obviously interested by your AAR.
I have played a game with Geoffrey (and then Foulques, and their descendants) and it was one of my favorite.

I hope you'll be successful to recreate the Angevin Empire. And I'll be following your story. Good luck !
Make an Angevin proud ! :D
 

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There is a certain degree of plotting going on here, not all of it fruitful I suspect.
Definitely not. Situations change and can change quite quickly, throwing a wrench into the best laid plans.

As revealed by my avatar, I come from "Anjou" (barony of Cholet in game terms ;) ). I'm obviously interested by your AAR.
I have played a game with Geoffrey (and then Foulques, and their descendants) and it was one of my favorite.

I hope you'll be successful to recreate the Angevin Empire. And I'll be following your story. Good luck !
Make an Angevin proud ! :D
Oh the Barony of Cholet! The Baron of Cholet will make a few appearances in future updates for sure. And I'll do my best with this AAR!

I've never actually played a game with Geoffrey. I wonder if it's because in my first? CK2 playthrough, he murdered Foulques first-born daughter. :mad: I swore revenge.

Hoping to get the next update tomorrow. The feel of the second half of the chapter is a work in progress, but hoping to get it figured out to my liking soon.
 
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Chapter 3 - October 1066

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Before Plantagenet - Chapter 3

October 1066 - Tours, France

Foulques d’Anjou could barely believe what he was seeing and hearing.

“Then it stands,” Chancellor Andre said. “By a vote of 4-2, the council stands opposed to revolt against Duke Geoffrey.”

The count of Tours was speechless. He was prepared to mobilize his army immediately following the session of his council. He had even instructed his marshal, Leon, to be ready as soon as the vote was taken. It was to be a mere formality.

Instead, Leon was the only supporter Foulques had on the council for war. Chancellor Andre, Mayor Guilhem the steward, Adrien and Bishop Berenger all stood opposed.

“This is an outrage!” Foulques said. “After all of our planning, you would stand against this just action?”

“Is rebellion against one’s brother ever a just action?” Andre asked.

Foulques saw the other councilors nod to Andre’s words. The count had half a mind to take them from the main hall and throw them all in the dungeons, but thought better of it. He would likely need these men to further his long-term goals. There had to be a way around this mess. Surely some of these lowborn men could be brought to his side…



“We shall adjourn for an hour,” Foulques said. “Then we will discuss the matter again.”

“I think we have discussed this matter enough,” Andre said.

I am your Lord,” Foulques said. “And I will decide when we have discussed the matter enough.”

The six men vacated the hall, but Foulques pulled his steward, Mayor Guilhem of Amboise, aside and told him to follow to the count’s chambers.

.....

“They are not convinced this is the right action,” the mayor said as he took a cup of wine from the count. “Myself included. We attack a weak enemy, one who is your brother. It will appear dishonorable.”

Foulques rolled his eyes and sat at the small table across from the steward. “Meanwhile that weak enemy makes us all weaker. Listen to yourself – if he is so weak I could defeat him, what chance would he have against William the Bastard? Or Duke Guilhem? Or Thibault de Blois?”

“Andre argues that your alliance with Duke Guilhem should keep him at bay,” the steward said. “As for the Bastard? His war in England appears to have begun well. Andre believes that the King would not allow him to expand his possessions in our realm if he should succeed there.’

“Andre? Andre is a short-sighted fool,” Foulques said. “He argues for others to protect us. If a liege lord cannot protect his charges, then he is unworthy of his title.”

“Your points are fair,” the steward said. “I think I need more time to think on it.”

“Every moment we wait,” Foulques said. “Our task may become more difficult. Now is the time to strike!”

The mayor sighed, but did not disagree. However, he did not agree either.

“You may try to convince the others,” the steward said. “But Adrien hopes for a solution that does not involve war. Berenger, I believe, would back you. But Andre has gotten a favor from him to back him on this matter.”

Foulques knew what his steward was getting at. He leaned forward on the small table and grumbled: “If you support me on this matter, it will not be forgotten in the future.”

The steward looked up. “Having the favor of a count… nay… Duke, could be quite valuable.”

“Then you’ll back me when we reconvene?” Foulques asked.

“Aye,” the mayor said. “I have… my reservations, but I will support you.”

“Good,” Foulques said. He raised his cup toward the mayor. “To our success in war!”



When Foulques returned to the hall after an hour to reconvene, he once again expected this to be a mere formality.

Instead, the vote remained 4-2, this time with Marshal Leon opposed.

“What is the meaning of this?” Foulques demanded. “You sided with me in the last vote!”

“Chancellor Andre has made some good points,” Leon said. “About the honor of the conflict… and how it may be unwise to unsettle the balance of things in the duchy…”

Leon was never that eloquent. He was being fed this explanation by Andre, who seemed intent on blocking Foulques no matter what.

“Is the matter discussed enough, my lord?” Andre asked.

Foulques slammed the table. His outburst caused the others to flinch and take a step back, but no votes changed.

“I wish to speak with my marshal, in private,” Foulques said. “Leave us.”

The other four men departed. Leon kept his eyes on the map, strewn across the large table before them. Foulques paced around him for a time.

“What did he promise you?” Foulques asked.

“I don’t know what you mean my lord,” Leon said.

“Don’t lie to your lord,” Foulques said. “It will not end well.”

Leon gave a slight nod. “He said for my support, I could have his support in future matters."

“So he makes deals,” Foulques said.

“He does,” Leon said. “He has secured the votes of everyone else on the council. Except Mayor Guilhem, of course. You will not be able to have this war, my lord, unless you give Andre what he wants.”

“What does he want?” Foulques asked.

“He did not tell me,” Leon admitted.

“So you agree to his wishes without even knowing what he wants of our realm?” Foulques said. “I thought you wiser than that Leon.”

The marshal said nothing as an infuriated Foulques stormed out of the room, and marched his way to Andre’s quarters.

“My lord,” Andre said as he opened the door to his chambers. “What a pleasant surprise!”

“Why do you stand against me?” Foulques demanded.

“Never one for diplomacy,” Andre said. “I suppose that is why you need me.”

“I need to know why you oppose me,” Foulques said. “And place our lands in jeopardy!”

“You put your family’s lands at stake for overgrown ambition,” Andre said.

“You would trust my brother to keep these lands?” Foulques asked.

“I trust him not to lose it any further,” Andre said. “You may expand them for a time, but you would remove him, kill him, and then leave no one but your sister to inherit. When you old southern wife does not give you a child, the lands will pass away from your house.”

“You presume much,” Foulques said. “Lady Beatritz is a healthy woman. She will produce a child.”

“Your mother is a healthy woman,” Andre said. “But she will still produce no more children. One cannot deny time.”

“This is unacceptable!” Foulques said. “I am the count of Tours. You are just a lowborn fool I have raised to your position.”

“I may be a lowborn man,” Andre said. “But I am no fool. I could have helped you secure the friendships you wished outside the county as deftly as I have secured your council’s support within had you just listened to my advice. Instead, we shall see. If the lady bears a son in the next three years, you shall have your war.”

“The chance may be gone!” Foulques said.

“If the Duke is as inept as you claim, then you have little to fear. The chance will remain,” Andre said. “Now, if my lord has nothing more…”

“What do you want?” Foulques said. “What that I have, do you desire? Gold? A wife? A promise of a barony or city in the future? Name it, so that I may have your support.”

“I do not seek material wealth or favor,” Andre said. “Repudiate the woman and wed Aenor de Thouars.”

“You wish me to insult my new ally, Duke Guilhem?” Foulques said. “And embarrass myself to the whole realm? And you claim you are not a fool.”

“You need not do it now,” Andre said. “You can wait six months. A year perhaps. But a promise it shall be done, if she does not produce a male child.”

Andre’s short-sightedness was again rearing its ugly head. Such a move would be worthless for the count. He wanted Guilhem’s support in future endeavors more than he wanted it for his war with Geoffrey.

Foulques could lie. But he did not even want to give the chancellor the least bit of satisfaction, even if it temporary.

“You are not the lord of this county,” Foulques said. “I shall do what is necessary, whether you agree or not.”

“Then you will be labelled a tyrant,” Andre said. “And all those in Anjou will know of your mis-deeds... and my not find you a palatable option to your brother.”

“And should I replace you?” Foulques asked.

“I am hard at work securing your right to seize Vendome from Count Bouchard,” Andre said. “Do you believe another man in the country more capable of performing that task?”

“You work against me,” Foulques said. “You likely will never produce that claim.”

“I do not work against you,” Andre said. “I strive against your methods, my lord. I would welcome your family holding the lands over Count Bouchard. It would strengthen your house without endangering it.”

“You expect me to believe you work for the betterment of my house?” Foulques asked.

“Everything I do is for that purpose,” Andre said. “What am I to do if my lord endangers himself and his family? I have a duty to protect him from himself, if he will not see reason. That is what I do here.”

Foulques stared the chancellor down. “That you presume to know best for the House d’Anjou is laughable. Know I will not forget this.”

Andre nodded, with the count noticing a smirk on his chancellor’s face. He had half a mind to fire him now, but he was right about one thing – there was no one else in county who could be counted on to secure Vendome for him.



Fouqlues returned to his quarters and poured himself a full cup of wine. After chugging it down, he poured another and did the same before storming back out, and heading to his new wife’s quarters.

He was not certain the chancellor’s promise to release his objections if Beatritz bore a son were genuine, but even if they weren’t, Foulques wanted nothing more than to show Andre how wrong he was about the chances a son would be borne of the union.

....

A pounding headache is what greeted Foulques when he awoke the next morning. The night before was a haze that slowly came into focus, along with his vision as he saw Beatritz standing over a small table, pouring out liquid into a cup.

“Water?” he asked as she handed him the cup.

“It will help my lord,” she said. “You had much to drink last night.”

Foulques gulped it down. He did hit the spot and he took another helping when she offered.

“Thank you,” he said. “In truth, I do not remember much from last night.”

“You had a great deal of drink,” Beatritz said. “Before and after….”

She did not finish, but she did not need to for Foulques to understand her reference.

“Is something the matter my Lord?” Beatritz asked. “I have been in Tours for but a few weeks, and I have not seen you as I did last night.”

“Many things are wrong,” Foulques said. He reached to his wife’s abdomen and grabbed at it. “Many things that would be solve if your belly quickly swells with child.”

Beatritz blushed. “I know they question me my lord. But you are young and strong. It will happen soon, I have no doubt.”

“Not soon enough to please that fool of a chancellor,” Foulques said. “He will not give me my war against my brother unless I repudiate you.”

Beatritz hand cupped her mouth. “My lord… surely you will not…”

“I will not listen to such talk,” Foulques said. “He thinks himself my lord.”

If Beatritz was relieved, she did not show it, instead slowly wandering to the bed and sitting beside her husband.

“Surely you would replace such a man,” Beatritz said.

“You think I have not thought that?” Foulques said. “But it is not so easy. I have no one in the county who can do as he does. And if I wish to find someone outside the county, it will take time.”

“Can you trust a man who does not abide by your will?” Beatritz asked.

“He is not afraid to voice his opinion,” Foulques said. “There is value in that.”

“Not as much value as the keep at Angers, or your brother’s title,” Beatritz said.

“You now question me?”

“I question him, my lord,” Beatritz said. “He questions your every move. He, who believes in your brother more than you, my lord. He, who questions that you, my lord, will not produce a son.”

“He doubts you,” Foulques said.

“He does,” Beatritz said. “Because I was born in the south. Because of my brother. But I am a loyal wife… and…”

She trailed off.

“And?”

“Never mind my lord,” Beatritz said. “I do not wish to overstep my bounds.”

“Out with it, woman,” Foulques said.

“I do not wish to be replaced and after you told me your chancellor thinks of ill of me at the feast, it was all I could think about,” Beatritz said. “My brother was recently searching for a new man for the role in his court, so before he returned to Aquitaine, I asked him to send me the names he had. I received his reply a few days back.”

“You do not wish to overstep your bounds,” Foulques said. “Yet you do that?”

“I would not bring such things up with ease my lord,” Beatritz said. “I only speak because he angers both of us. And you sounded as if you wished to find someone else, but worried about the time it would take.”

Foulques did not know his new wife to be brave, but he doubted she would have asked her brother for a list of replacements for Andre on the mere hope Foulques would grow tired of him. She had to have meant to bring this up to him soon – this just provided her with an opportunity.

Still…

“You would send me a southerner? From your brother’s court?” he asked.

“I would not if you do not wish it,” Beatritz said. “Especially after marrying a woman from Aquitaine. Some of the men on the list are Franks.”

She isn’t foolish at least, Foulques thought.

Then Beatritz brought her hand to his face. “I know you chose me as your wife for my brother’s knights. But they will be wasted while that fool remains as chancellor. Let me help you my lord.”

Foulques stroked his goatee. “We shall see if you are capable then, woman.”

“Truly?” Beatritz asked.

“Yes, truly,” Foulques said, and was greeted by a tight embrace from his wife.

He had some hesitation giving in on this matter. If he were to choose a man not from the court of Duke Guilhem, Foulques' brother-in-law shouldn’t have too much influence over the man. But he didn’t fully trust anyone suggested to be completely free of strings – either Guilhem or Beatritz must have heard of him from somewhere. Trading Andre’s obstinacy for those strings was not necessarily beneficial to him long term.

But in the short term, it removed the biggest obstacle to his goal – getting the council to agree to his revolt against Geoffrey. He could deal with finding another chancellor if this new one failed – with the draw of serving a duke, rather than a count.
 
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Andre is making quite the nuisance of himself. It wouldn't surprise me one whit to learn that he has high ambitions of his own despite his low birth, or that he's already taken steps to counter the possibility of his own replacement.
 

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Ah the fun and games of an obstructive council.
 

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Andre is making quite the nuisance of himself. It wouldn't surprise me one whit to learn that he has high ambitions of his own despite his low birth, or that he's already taken steps to counter the possibility of his own replacement.
He is surprisingly obstinate. I get a high-born noble being a complete malcontent. A lowborn man? That takes something. Then again, maybe he knew I had pretty much no one to replace him. It was basically barren in the county and even the available outside options... were not great, as you'll see.

Ah the fun and games of an obstructive council.
Was mildly surprised when the council voted no originally. Was extremely surprised on the second one, though lately - meta commentary here - it feels like that other councilors will counter your favors if you leave people to their own devices. But yeah, while I did not drink like Foulques when Leon flipped, I certainly used more colorful language.
 
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Chapter 4 - November 1066

JabberJock14

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Before Plantagenet - Chapter 4

November 1066 - Tours, France

Foulques d’Anjou looked over the five other members of his council. This vote should be a formality, but he had suffered two humiliating setbacks when assuming that before.

This time, however, things would be different.

“I know you all had reservations before,” Foulques said as he presided over the council in the main hall of the keep in Tours. “But this is for good of Anjou. If my brother is so weak he cannot fend off an attack from his own count, how should he be able to fare against an attack from another Duke?”

“Our lord makes a good point,” Mayor Guilhem said. “We have a duty to the people of Tours, Anjou and Vendome to ensure they are protected. If Duke Geoffrey is derelict in his duty, then we must act.”

The council was silent, trading glances with one another.

“There is another matter,” Foulques said. “One I believe our new member should discuss.”

Bernard de Brosse looked up. He looked over the other council members, then Foulques, who motioned for him to begin.

“Duke Geoffrey was excommunicated,” de Brosse said. “His excommunication extends to whole of the duchy and its people, sadly, isn’t that right bishop?”

Bishop Berenger, who Foulques knew was not exactly the most learned or knowledgeable man, appeared to be surprised by the question. He stammered for a bit, scratching his head before blurting out: “I… am not certain if it applies to everyone…”

“Regardless of whether or not it does,” Foulques said. “It is the duty of all good Christians to strike against one who so openly defies the will of the church.”

Foulques could see the Adrien, Leon, Berenger and even Mayor Guilhem furrow their brows at the suggestion. They knew it was an excuse and nothing more.

“Voting to stand with the Duke is a vote against our Lord,” de Brosse added. “As painful as that is for me to say.”

He had taken to the role well enough, Foulques thought. It was no sure thing. Foulques was surprised to hear Bernard did not have a diplomatic education, instead garnering a set of skills that would serve him well in the world of plotting. It gave the count pause to make the change.



“You can compromise on this,” Beatritz reminded him in private as he deliberated that previous evening. “Or you can compromise on your desire to take Anjou from Geoffrey. But you cannot do both.”

He didn’t like hearing that from his wife. Bernard was from the County of Limousin, where his older brother Guy was count and paid homage to Duke Guilhem. While Bernard had claim to the title, he was in little position to claim it, and rather than sit in Guy’s court, he professed to want to make himself useful elsewhere.

What Foulques suspected was that Bernard hoped to curry enough favor with someone press his claim on Limousin – whether it was the count, Duke Guilhem or Beatritz influencing either of the two men or both of them.

“I hope you made this man no promises,” Foulques said to his wife.

“Of course not my lord,” Beatritz said. “But I cannot know the dreams the man has.”

I must remember not to promise him any favors, Foulques made sure to note to himself that day.

Yet Foulques knew himself to be in a difficult position.

While he could provoke war with Geoffrey by simply demanding he hand over the ducal title, such a move would leave his brother with the keep in Angers and a power base. Foulques intended to take it all from his brother, to build a foundation by which he could achieve his long-term goals of expanding back into Normandy, Poitou and possibly Brittany.

No, nothing less than rebellion would do. And declaring it over the excommunication would ensure he take Angers and the title. So, the change had to be made.

Foulques' reminiscing stopped when he heard a commotion at the doorway of the hall. The council turned its gaze there, and saw the two guardsmen denying someone from entry. But despite his best efforts, Andre’s pleas were falling on deaf ears.

“This is an outrage!” Andre shouted. “You deny the chancellor entrance to this council meeting?”

Foulques walked over, tapped the guards on the shoulder and motioned for them to allow Andre into the hall.

“Ah, Andre, I did not think you would be joining us,” Foulques said.

“Because you did not inform me of the meeting?” Andre asked. “Would you hide such a fact from your council?”

“I hide nothing,” Foulques said. “They all knew I did not inform you of the meeting.”

“You seek to keep me from voting?” Andre asked. “So you can pursue your treasonous war?”

“I do not seek,” Foulques said. “You do not have a vote. Only members of the council can take part and you are no longer on the council, seeing as you are no longer chancellor.”

Andre blanched. “You… this is tyranny!”

“Tyranny?” Foulques asked. “Just as it is in the right of the council to deny my war declarations, it is in my right to replace councilors. And I have done so. Now, shall we take our vote?”

“You… you do not have to stand with him!” Andre said. “You promised me your support!”

“They do not have to stand with me,” Foulques said. “So let us see if they do. Those who are in favor of warring against Duke Geoffrey, for means of replacing a man excommunicated by the church, say ‘aye’.”

The ‘ayes’ were unanimous.

“Traitors!” Andre shouted.

“Their favors were to vote with you on council matters,” Foulques said. “But seeing as you are no longer on the council, they owe you nothing.”

“You will all destroy Anjou!” Andre shouted. “May God have mercy on your souls.”

Andre hurried from the hall, leaving Foulques with a wide grin on his face.

“Will you let him leave, my lord?” Mayor Guilhem asked. “He may run to Geoffrey.”

“Let him,” Foulques said. “My brother will know our intentions soon enough.”

The count looked toward his marshal. “Raise our forces. We make for Vendome at once.”

Leon gave a nod to Foulques and quickly hurried out of the hall. Foulques adjourned the council and made for his quarters, a wide smile on his face. There, Beatritz waited for him with a cup of wine for each of them.

“Is it done?” Beatritz asked as she handed him the cup. Foulques nodded. “Did Bernard perform as you hoped?”

“He did as he had to,” Foulques said. “But this is not his real test. Let him bring me Vendome, and I’ll sing his praises.”

“But not press his claim,” Beatritz said, a smirk forming on her lips.

“And you say you did not make him any promises,” Foulques said.

“Nay, my lord,” Beatritz said. “But I am a countess and sister to the duke whom his brother pays homage to. Perhaps he believes this his best hope at securing his claim.”

As long as he can handle disappointment, Foulques thought as he sipped his wine.

Beatritz finished her cup and then poured herself another. “I have heard those in court speak of your willingness to be at the front of your men when you go to war. Do you plan to now?”

“I do,” he said.

“I would beg you not,” Beatritz said. “You have capable commanders, do you not? Would it not be better if you remained here, and we continued to try for a son?”

“You jest woman,” Foulques said. “This is my rebellion. My only place is at the front of my men.”

“Aye, but…”

Foulques finished his cup and then slammed it on the table. “There is no ‘but.’ I should sooner take you with me into battle, in hopes of producing a son, than stay here in Tours.”

He saw Beatritz’s face blanche at the prospect of joining him anywhere near a battlefield. He had heard she did not have a taste for war, or combat, and this seemed to confirm it.

“Forgive me, my lord,” she said. “I just… do not wish you to place yourself at great risk.”

“You sound as if Adrien has your ear,” Foulques said. Beatritz’s eyes drifted to the floor. “So, he works to convince you of his plans.”

“I would not listen to his pleas to influence you to stop your rebellion,” Beatritz said. “But I worry. Much can happen in war.”

“Adrien is good at his job,” Foulques said. “He knows your fears and plays on them.”

“Are my fears wrong, my lord?” Beatritz asked.

“I do not expect you to understand,” Foulques said. “You are not one for war. But it is my place.”

“Of… of course my lord,” Beatritz said. “Please, forgive my outburst.”

Foulques kissed her forehead. “It is already forgotten wife.”

The count watched as Beatritz finished her cup before he poured both of them another. As he drank the wine down, he smiled, knowing he had dealt with one obstacle. His months of planning had nearly paid off. Soon he would be leading his men, in battle, hoping to defeat and capture his brother, ending the war quickly.

What if she’s right? What if something does happen? What if I’m betrayed? What if an archer is lucky? What if…

Foulques put thoughts far from his mind. He had his war. Soon enough, he’d have his duchy. And perhaps much more than that.
 
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stnylan

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War then, but with an eye to internal things as well. Foulques is not so clever as he thinks he Is, by my reckoning..
 
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Specialist290

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I have an inkling that Andre is not one to simply sit around and nurse a grudge when he could be acting. Replacing him may have been a necessary move, but adding insult to injury by humiliating him like that may have earned Folques a rival he ought not underestimate.
 
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