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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Maximilliano

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Another CatKnight AAR? I'll be here for the long haul! Great to see you writing again
 

Fookison

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I like the progress so far. The TO is one of my favorite nations to play as well, and I currently have a campaign on the go so will be interesting to see the differences. Also, nice maps!!!
 

Enewald

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Hmm, you haven't conquered that much... :rolleyes:
I hope it changes in the future. :D
 

Stuyvesant

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Von Plauen's not a very likeable man, though you could sympathize with him for all the hardships his Order has to deal with. Then again, quite a few of his wounds are self-inflicted...

The Order hasn't exactly prospered under his leadership. Is that because the Order itself is an anachronism, unable to survive in these more 'modern' times, or is it Von Plauen's character? For the Order's sake, I hope it's the latter. It's probably in the Order's best interest if Von Plauen goes to meet his maker sooner rather than later.

Still a very interesting tale, even if progress in the game is rather restrained. ;)
 

dublish

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The Order hasn't exactly prospered under his leadership. Is that because the Order itself is an anachronism, unable to survive in these more 'modern' times, or is it Von Plauen's character?

I always thought Lithuania had something to do with it.
 

CatKnight

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dublish: I'd say there's a reasonable shot at it. At least, the Hungary and Ottoman AIs both want control of the Balkans. During this segment the Ottos jumped Serbia. Soon there will be no one between them.

Ar7: There's still that. Von Plauen would probably like another shot at Novgorod though he has bigger fish on his plate.

Chief Ragusa: Hm. I didn't know that. I thought the whole idea of giving Gotland back was to prevent Denmark et.al. from interfering in the Polish-Lithuanian War.

merrick: So many possibilities on who to fight! And thank you very much for the honor.

gabor: Egad. I didn't even notice that about Ireland until you mentioned it. The extra provinces are..hm. I'm not sure how I feel yet. I think WWM has a lot of potential, but there seem to be A LOT of potential rebel nations (the second Wales, Karelia). There are also many, many American/African/Indonesian/Australian tribes. What worries me a little is that Novgorod might be invincible - they have access to a Siberian corridor and they're starting to use it.

germanpeon: Thanks!

Maximilliano: And it's great to have you. Been a long time since I've seen you!

Darthvegeta800: Welcome! I'm also a TO fan, though they seem to be a difficult nation to play. (Makes sense given their history) There's no real opportunity for easy expansion.

Fookison: I look forward to comparing our campaigns. Thanks!

Enewald: Possibly - certainly I hope for a little more growth. All these draws and minor losses in warfare does get a little discouraging. On the other hand, I don't like WCs so don't expect too much. ;)

Stuyvesant: The von Plauen I'm developing isn't very likeable, I agree. He's also inconsistent: He's had a few brilliant moments, and other times he's been downright ineffective. He's not the kind of man who can help the Order go forward, though I think he can keep them from falling too far back.

dublish: The Lithuanian War certainly didn't help.
 

CatKnight

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smallteutonflagyc4.png


VIII: A Win is a Win (1428-1430)


Solitude

For perhaps a year following Karl Joseph von Knipprode's death things remained peaceful within the Order. It was a prosperous time as merchant guilds from Danzig established themselves as the premier trading partners in Lubeck and so throughout northern Europe. The Order itself employed over one thousand craftsmen rebuilding the navy and even making modest improvements to ship design. (Navy-5)

Much of this relative quiet came due to Hochmeister von Plauen's growing torpor. While succeeding in saving the Order from destruction and forcing Pskov to convert in the early years of his reign, the past two decades saw significant setbacks, losing influence in Riga, and even the sale of valuable territory.

Tressler Friedrich von Uexkull and Munzmeister Albrecht von Sangershausen favored a time of consolidation and private growth. Both men served with von Plauen since the dark days following Tannenberg, and both found it more and more challenging to keep the Order's finances under control in the face of two destructive wars with indifferent results.

Papal Legate Paul von Wattzau took a slightly different tack: He hinted that the Order's stagnation resulted from not following up on the 'Crusade' and subjugating Novgorod, Muscovy and anyone else who offered.

Paul von Wattzau said:
Jesus weeps when (Catholics) fight. Is it not proper, then, that God chastises us while still allowing us the chance to take up arms in His name?

None of this had much affect on the Hochmeister, and so the Teutons drifted through the spring of 1429 like a ship with no sails nor rudder, but fortunately in benign waters. Not even the election of nine year old Ladislav II to the emperor's throne helped. It would be Krysysztof of Poland who roused the grandmaster.


Proving Oneself

Krsysztof of Poland was born in 1414 the son of the late Wladyslaw II. As an infant some doubted his legitimacy, and throughout his childhood nobles serving as regents ran roughshod over the wishes of his Queen Mother. Soon these nobles came to assume they would always command. They believed in the medieval mindset that the King of Poland was 'just' another noble: More powerful, perhaps, but certainly no better. When Krysysztof was 14 the Duke of Sieradz tried to make him agree to the Liberum Veto where any nobleman could stop the kingdom from passing a law he didn't like.

Kryszstof refused. As he grew into manhood he decided that only through a successful war, one that won him glory and perhaps land for his loyal followers, would he be able to put the matter to rest. In May 1429 he cited a centuries old claim on Silesia and demanded the duke submit.

As far as the regents for Ladislav II were concerned, Silesia was under Bohemia's protection. Vaclav II ruled over part of Silesia in the late 1200s and in the next century control passed entirely to Bohemia. Though the Silesians regained some semblance of independence they enjoyed close relations with their western neighbor. When Poland declared war on Silesia for refusing to submit, Bohemia returned the favor. Pommerania entered on Poland's side while allies Austria and Hungary abandoned them.

This roused the Hochmeister. Here was an opportunity to subjugate Pommerania and possibly even regain the lost Dobrinland, not to mention a new chance to crown his reign with something positive. In late June he signed a new alliance with Hungary.

1429Jul-TroopDispositions.png


Plans to invade were delayed for various reasons: Gout and 'other maladies' afflicted von Plauen, and it took time to hire mercenaries to support the war effort. On October 6, the Teutonic Order finally declared war. (Stab falls to 1 due to no CB)

Austria and Hungary ignored Teuton requests for help, while Alexander IV of Pskov joined in. The final revised plan called for the western army to split into two sieging both Pommerania and the Dobrinland. (Torun province) The eastern army would attack Warsaw in Masovia. Both wings were led by inexperienced commanders who hopefully wouldn't have to do much fighting. (I couldn't afford generals)

Von Plauen himself led the center. The infantry sieged Plock, while von Plauen's cavalry advanced all the way to Schieratz (Sieradz) to watch for trouble. Mercenaries would join the besiegers as they became available while the newly completed fleet of sixteen galleys demonstrated off the Pommeranian coast. (Completed mission: Rebuild fleet. New mission: Protect against Poland)

When Krysysztof demanded an explanation, von Plauen replied with much of his former rancor:

Heinrich von Plauen said:
I knew your father. When he wasn't worshipping at pagan altars, stealing the last crumbs from a starving peasant's lips, or enjoying the company of little girls, he was a fair soldier. I've come to find out which traits you inherited.

The initial plan went smoothly and before the end of the month all of northern Poland except for the major cities were in Teuton hands. One of the younger commanders, Adam von Buxhoeveden, distinguished himself by defeating the Pommeranian army outside of Stettin.

Enter Zawisza Czarny, aka the Black Knight for his complexion and the color of his armor. Czarny fought at Tannenberg and later helped arrange the now broken alliance between Poland and Hungary. His bravery and loyalty were beyond question and in November he advanced at the head of nine thousand towards the weak Teuton left (Masovia) ... until Krysysztof recalled him.

Krysysztof worried about Bohemian advances near Posen and didn't want his marshal to commit himself. This was a serious error. Even though several thousand mercenaries (and later Alexander IV and his Pskovians) rushed to reinforce the siege at Warsaw, Czarny still held the advantage and might have flanked the Order's line of advance.

It wasn't until Posen fell, with Bohemians advancing on Kalisch, that the king released Czarny. In January 1430, reinforced to eleven thousand, he descended on von Plauen's 5,000 cavalry. Teuton reinforcements rushed to the scene setting up the climactic battle of the Teuton/Polish war.

1431Jan-Update.png


This would be the first taste both nations would have of new tactics and strategies. For centuries the Teutons relied on mass and shock to win battles - the invincible knight that dominated European warfare since Charlemagne supported by a body of heavily armored, but indifferently trained footsoldiers. Fighting in Denmark convinced Hochmeister von Plauen of the need for a stable infantry formations with superior equipment and training. These professionals wore lighter armor than before, but made up for it through mutual support and a variety of weapons including the dreaded crossbow.

Innocent II first banned the crossbow for use against fellow Christians in 1139 (though defenders in later centuries suggested the pope only meant to banish 'marksmanship' type spectacles like the legend of William Tell.) Proponents pointed to the obvious: Most crossbowmen were peasants. The weapon required little training to lose effectively. Worst of all, it could punch through a nobleman's armor with little trouble. In the Middle Ages, giving the commoners that kind of power promised trouble.

People found excuses to ignore the papal (and occasional local) interdict so the crossbow expanded to all parts of Europe. The Teutonic Knights probably used them against the Saracens during the early Crusades.

The crossbowman that marched with the Teutons in 1429 was cut from a different cloth however. The weapon's string was wound tighter allowing the bolt to be fired with greater force. Due to his training and discipline these men probably wouldn't run at the first sign of trouble and so could form an effective, if slow acting, firing line. When enemies came too close they could easily put away or drop their bow, draw a melee weapon and charge.

Von Plauen abandoned the bombard as a field weapon and so none participated in the battle, though some chroncilers say there may have been two or three at the siege of Warsaw.

The Poles hadn't been idle either: on foot, like much of Eastern Europe, they relied on poorly trained men with long polearms to ward off cavalry. These men wore some armor to add a little weight to their resistance and carried short swords when enemy infantry came too close.

Their innovation came with their cavalry: With Polish nobles, even poor ones, struggling to keep up a pretense of force they could no longer afford to heavily armor their horsemen. This turned out to be a blessing for the Poles stole ideas from the Balkan Wars and came up with a lightly armored (often only a breastplate and leather arm and shinguards) warrior equipped with saber and lance. This lighter cavalry could never stand up to the full fury of a charge by medieval knights, but their improved speed and versatility guaranteed they'd never have to.

Hochmeister von Plauen edged away from Czarny's advance, hoping to fall back far enough for reinforcements to join him, but the light cavalry ranged ahead and flanked him before he could reach Lodsch (Lodz). The Teutons deployed in a crescent around a lake some twenty miles north of Schieratz.

On January 30, the two sides battled through heavy snow and occasional gusts blowing from the lake. At first von Plauen's cavalry fought virtually alone, held at bay by polearm wielding infantry and sniped on the flanks by light cavalry.

At about eleven in the morning the first band of reinforcements showed up behind the northern part of the Polish line, forcing their cavalry to break off harassing. This allowed von Plauen to get an edge on Czarny's infantry and the battle seemed on the edge of turning.

Unfortunately the men rushing to help von Plauen were tired from force marches through snow on poor rest. Their crossbows did little damage to horsemen who simply dodged the firing line. Once in melee range the Poles had the advantage. For the next few hours more bands arrived with similar results.

Around sunset the two sides broke off fighting. Von Plauen realized he couldn't hold the Poles off for a second day and slipped away towards the Bohemian lines to discourage pursuit. The Knights lost about six thousand dead, wounded or captured, while Czarny lost about 2,500.

Czarny also lost track of the Teuton army. Snow and wind overnight combined to wipe out the army's tracks. Rather than risk going off in the wrong direction, the Poles retreated to Schieratz to await further developments.

In March 1430, Alexander IV led the Teuton/Pskov army through Warsaw's gates. Along with Bohemia's gains in the north this caused Krysysztof to panic. He rushed home from the siege of Rabitor to demand his nobles release their personal armies for royal use.

Liberum Veto

They said no.

In 1430 the Polish nobility was more or less united against what they saw as a disturbing trend by the Jagiello dynasty towards centralizing the government and putting themselves above the other noble clans. Wladyslaw II got away with this primarily because he was a strong ruler well who repaid friendship and betrayal with equal fervor. He attracted men like Czarny who were loyal to more than their own clans and believed only a strong Poland would be able to withstand her enemies.

Krysysztof was no such man, at least at age sixteen. He'd developed a remarkable streak of petulance in his youth somewhat deservedly aimed at the very noblemen he now needed. When he arrived at Krakow he spoke sharply of duty and honor, of life under the rule of an infant (Ladislav II) or a tyrant (von Plauen), and the need to deliver a sharp blow to drive one or the other out of the war.

Zbigniew w Brzezia opposed him. Brzezia had been one of Wladyslaw's closest advisors and friends. He'd served as Marshal of the Crown until Wladyslaw's death in 1415 and worked closely with the regency until the then thirteen year old king took exception to his criticism and struck him full in the face. This was more than his pride could bear and he retired to his estates - until today.

Zbigniew w Brzezia said:
And so the cub returns. He comes in his royal dignity to demand we save him from his own folly. Any man could have told him taking on the Emperor over a scrap such as Silesia would cost us more than it would be worth. That man could also have told him that devil to the north (von Plauen) would jump at any chance to pay us for Grunwald (Tannenberg). I see no need to waste our resources. If our king is to rule, then let us see him take command of the situation on his own.

This resulted in heated and pointless arguing. While most of Poland's nobility agreed with Brzezia's assessment, they didn't want to chance losing everything under a Teuton or Bohemian ruler. On the second day a minor nobleman from Plock brought up the dread 'Liberum Veto.' Krysysztof resisted for two more days, but when word reached him via Czarny that the Bohemians planned to attack the sieging army at Ratibor he capitulated.

1430Mar-LiberumVeto.png

O hai!

Lord Brzezia rallied a formidable army of noblemen and retainers from across central and southern Poland and descended on Ratibor with the king. Once there he left a sizeable detachment behind and moves on Breslau.

This left Czarny in charge of the Teuton front. Taking matters into his own hand, he advanced once more on Masovia with ten thousand men. This time the Teutons faded before his advance and he sieged Warsaw.

While the Poles worked to retake Warsaw, Plock fell in May. The Dobrinland followed in June, and Alexander IV of Pskov advanced all the way to Schieratz in an effort to force Czarny to abandon his siege.

1430Jul-Update.png


Czarny in turn hoped to force von Plauen to battle through a carefully constructed series of atrocities against the Teuton defenders. On June 27, a wagon bearing fifty rotting skulls arrived in Thorn. From July 10-14 he used catapults to launch diseased carcasses into Warsaw. In a very public ceremony on August 2, he crucified von Plauen in effigy...then set it on fire.

None of these provocations worked any better than the Pskov invasion. Von Plauen didn't want to risk fighting on ground of Czarny's choosing though he'd already determined he would defend Plock or Teuton soil. The Teuton army grew stronger by the day while reinforcements swelled the Pole's ranks to sixteen thousand. Poland, Germany and the Baltic alike watched to see what this second major battle would bring.

Absolutely nothing: In July the Bohemians seized Kalisch then turned and pushed Brzezia out of Breslau. He retired to take command of the still ongoing siege of Ratibor as Krysyszof moved east to support Czarny.

In September 1430 Warsaw finally fell to the Polish army. Days later Pommerania surrendered to the Teutons. A week after that peace talks began.

1430Oct-Treaty.png


A generation of historians have wondered at this peace. They argue that either:

a) The Teutonic Army was well rested and funded. Indeed, they'd just hired new mercenaries who even now were organizing south of Marienburg. When Czarny moved from Masovia - and he would have to sooner or later - the Teutons could intercept him and force a decisive battle on ground of their choosing. Defeat Czarny, coordinate with the Bohemians, and in another year or two they could force Poland to their knees, or...

b) Krysysztof was even now rushing eastward with reinforcements. Though it's questionable whether he left Brzezia with enough men to hold and take Silesia, if von Plauen tried to force the Poles to battle he could rush in with overwhelming numbers and so defeat the main Teuton army. Once von Plauen was defeated he could leave Czarny to retake lost territory while he pursued the knights and destroyed their army. It would take a few years, but the war was still very winnable.

Perhaps this is all true, and perhaps that's why they opted for peace before the God of battles decisively chose one way or the other.

For Hochmeister von Plauen, this victory made up for the Polish role in Tannenberg and added another honor to his reign. Von Plauen still belonged to a medieval mindset that believed a given piece of land was granted to its ruler by God, and only in cases where God's will was in doubt could war be justified. Pskov, Lithuania, Denmark and now Poland had very specific aims. It never entered into his thinking to destroy Poland, though perhaps he would have enjoyed crippling them more thoroughly. Nonetheless he found the presence of two large Polish armies intimidating and welcomed the chance for peace.

Krysysztof had bigger goals: He'd promised to add Silesia to the realm and he intended to do just that. The Teutons were major nuisances in this plan. Now he could focus on a single war and front. The additional noble armies acquired after the Liberum Veto passed strained the Polish economy beyond the breaking point - as it stood the Poles would start taking loans from merchants in Danzig and Venice before the year ended. Krysystof needed to defeat Bohemia and Silesia now.

Anyway, just because Poland ceded the Dobrinland didn't mean they couldn't take it back. As far as Krysysztof was concerned, all von Plauen did was ensure there would be another match, and another, and another until the Teutonic Order was nothing more than a bad memory.
 
Last edited:

Morboth

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Great AAR, CatKnight!

One thing though, one of your last screens is the very same as the first one, I think it is not meant to be so, or is it? :confused:

Other than that, great, great reading... /suscribed :)
 

Enewald

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The peace is just another reason for a new war. :cool:
Which is quite cool.
 

volksmarschall

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Looks like you put Poland into place, this will make the Teuton Empire very formidable within the region, more powerful than Denmark, Poland, Novgorod and potentially Lithuania... I'm guessing that will be the next war the Teutons will be involved in.

I wonder if you settled for too generous a peace treaty though... only Torun. And a nice incorporation of true history with Pope Innocent and the Crossbows that the Papal Authority tried to ban... great stuff! :cool:
 

germanpeon

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So is Pommern a vassal to the Teutonic Order now? If so, I'd say that was a successful war that cements the Order's position in Northern Germany and may scare off Poland for a bit.
 

blsteen

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So is Pommern a vassal to the Teutonic Order now? If so, I'd say that was a successful war that cements the Order's position in Northern Germany and may scare off Poland for a bit.

I'd doubt it. Besides there are other powers that may feel the need to... stabilize the Baltic region:D
 

unmerged(58610)

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You used Pommerania to gain Thorn. Neat.

Poland's a lot of troops thanks to the one use LV. it makes your neighbours a bit more difficult to defeat unless you can start eliminating enemy armies. poland's going to lose a great deal of money supportingthose troops.

I don't think Polnd can beat both Silesia and Bohemia. May take Silesia, but Bohemia will be their most bitter foe -maybe second most bitter.The Poles will lose men once Bohemia really starts on them. That oughto be good news for the Teutonic Kights.

Lithuania is probably up next. Gaining Riga would unite the north and south. Trashing Lithuania is probably asking too much.
 

Fookison

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50 rotting skulls, launching diseased carcasses, pure debauchery!!!!! Well written, nice update and good progress. I agree though with blsteen, check over your shoulder at others that may be lurking in the wings. What does Muscowy have to say about all this? What is your relation level with them and Brandenburg?
 

Stuyvesant

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Heinrich von Plauen said:
I knew your father. When he wasn't worshipping at pagan altars, stealing the last crumbs from a starving peasant's lips, or enjoying the company of little girls, he was a fair soldier. I've come to find out which traits you inherited.

Such a charming demeanor. :p At least Von Plauen directed his acerbic tongue at external enemies, instead of bickering with his fellow Knights.

A good war. Given the Teutonics' recent track record, I think opting for a modest victory (instead of risking an epic defeat) was the right choice. Plus, it gives Von Plauen a bona fide victory for posterity. Surely the man can't be around much longer, so it's a nice way to go for him.

I hope Poland gets thrashed silly by Bohemia, leaving it wrecked, weak and ripe for a fruitful resumption of Teuto-Polish hostilities. :)
 

AllmyJames

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I've just finished reading through this. Very good stuff indeed. I haven't played much EU3, and certainly not with the TO, so this is new to me and I'm learning a lot. Thanks! :)