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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Introduction: A Coming of Age

Tyler96

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The Chronicles of Conradin and the Resurgence of the House of Hohenstaufen

‘’Much has changed since my grandfather’s time. Northern Italy flouts imperial rule. An Englishman names himself emperor. The Hohenstaufen standard has been cast down by usurpers in both Sicily and Jerusalem. I mean to rectify this situation.


The Angevin dog has turned on its master, and Charles of Sicily now fights the very Pope who gave him his kingdom. This opportunity cannot be ignored. To Sicily!’’

-
Thus spoke Konrad IV, Duke of Swabia, rightful king of Sicily and Jerusalem, heir of Barbarossa and Stupor Mundi, at the gathering to celebrate his coming of age in early 1268.


The other two Konrads, his half-brother Konrad the Bastard and his cousin Corrado of Antioch, quickly shouted affirmations.

Both had been deep in their cups in celebration of their own recent advancements- Konrad the Bastard had been betrothed to Swabia’s neighbour, Countess Anna Hupoldinger of Bern, Zurichgau, and Schwyz, whilst Corrado had wed Adelheid von Hohenzollern, only living child and heir of Duke Friedrich III of Nordgau.

The Spanish infantes, Fadrique and Enrique d’Ivrea, also bellowed their support. They were a malcontented pair, both had been expelled from Castile after a rebellion against their brother Alfonso but had found their way to Swabia by different paths.

Fadrique had served under Konrad’s uncle Manfred of Sicily, but survived his defeat at the hands of Charles of Anjou and fled. Enrique had bounced around France, England and North Africa before joining the Angevin expedition. Finding himself ill-rewarded by Charles, he had defected to Konrad with news of the hostilities opened between Charles and the Pope.[1]

Konrad’s uncle and guardian Ludwig II von Wittelsbach, Duke of Bavaria and the Rhine, was less enthusiastic. He had signalled a desire to speak privately with his nephew and been ushered out of the festive environment of the hall.

***​


- Ludwig II, Duke of Bavaria and of the Rhine
‘’A fine speech, nephew.’’

Ludwig’s tone may have been patronising but Konrad chose to ignore it. His uncle’s support would be a boon to the enterprise.

‘’Thank you, uncle.’’

‘’You know Italy has proven somewhat disagreeable to your dynasty. Friedrich Barbarossa spent half his reign in interminable campaigns against the Italian cities, and Heinrich VI died there of sudden illness.’’

‘’I know my own family’s history, uncle. I also know that my grandfather Friedrich II, the Wonder of the World, was always a Sicilian at heart, so clearly not all Hohenstaufen suffer ill-fate in Italy.’’

Ludwig could have pointed at that Friedrich spent his entire life grappling with the Papacy and was expelled from the Catholic church with startling regularity, but his nephew was set on the campaign, so Ludwig moved on to a more practical question.

‘’Do you have the men?’’

‘’My diplomats have been busy.’’

‘’Names, nephew.’’ Ludwig was a curt man, with little time for coyness.


- Konrad's betrothed, Princess Erzsebet of Hungary

‘’I am to wed Arpad Erzsebet, whose father Istvan is the heir of Bela IV of Hungary; my aunt Blanceflor to Duke Napoleone della Torre of Milan. Both will provide support. Additionally, alliances have been made with Duke Albrecht Wettin of Thuringia, who was already wed to my aunt Margaret, and his father Duke Heinrich III of Meissen; and with my stepfather Count Meinhard of Innsbruck and Landeck (who was made Duke of Tyrol by the time of the picture below).


- Konrad's main allies within the Holy Roman Empire. His external allies include Duke Napoleone of Milan and King Bela IV of Hungary

Additionally, Corrado has wed the daughter of Duke Friedrich III of Nordgau, as you know; and my cousins Beatrice and Filippa are to wed Othon d’Ivrea, heir to the Duchy of Franche-Comte, and Erich Askanian, brother to the Duke of Brandenburg. None of these matches are of sufficient prestige to form the basis of an alliance.

Finally, my aunt Costanza and cousin Maria have wed the infantes Fadrique and Enrique, in a probably forlorn attempt to keep them loyal.’’

‘’A respectable coalition, there may be hope.’’

‘’With your support, uncle, the hope would be greater.’’

There was a twinkle in Ludwig’s eye, then, and scarcely concealed smirk. ‘’And what would be in it for me, nephew?’’

Konrad smirked back. ‘’Is the honour of a royal nephew insufficient?’’

Ludwig just raised an eyebrow, and Konrad sighed.

‘’Fine. The Englishman will not live forever and I concede that the lords seem unlikely to support me in any elections in the near future. Your assistance here would earn my unqualified support for yourself and whoever you choose to back at the next imperial election.’’

‘’More fine words, nephew, that are of little immediate value.’’

Konrad hesitated, before speaking next. I suppose I must play my trump card.

‘’Very well. When I discussed the recent marriages organised for my kin you may have noticed the absence of my aunt Margaretha. You may marry her, if you wish. She has proven herself a capable administrator during my long minority, and should some ill befall me in the coming campaign she would inherit Swabia.’’


- The wedding of Konrad's aunt Margaretha to his uncle Ludwig II of Bavaria

‘’That would be acceptable.’’


[1]I sort of just pillaged these guys bios from wiki, it could be inaccurate- Frederick (Fadrique) and Henry (Enrique). They were cousins to Conradin as great-grandsons of Frederick Barbarossa.
 
Last edited:
Historical Context, Authorial Notes, and Ruminations on the Scenario

Tyler96

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Authorial Note

So, I've reached the point where I've wasted 2/3rds of my uni summer holidays on hopeless indolence, and am now grasping at something mildly productive to do. Hence, this AAR.

This isn't technically my first attempt at an AAR- I did a couple eons ago, in those halycon days of 2013-14. But obviously I'm a little rusty and the game has changed heaps since then. I also used a different image hosting service back then, so your forbearance would be appreciated on that front too.

Also, this post uses English spelling of stuff (i.e. Conrad not Konrad, Frederick not Friedrich), which, in retrospect, is probably needlessly confusing.

Historical Context


So, this AAR is about Conrad IV von Hohenstaufen, Duke of Swabia, who is known to history by the diminutive Conradin. He was the son of Conrad IV of Germany, and grandson of Frederick II (Holy Roman Emperor, King of Sicily etc).

Conradin was only a toddler when his father died in 1254. Consequently, Germany/the Holy Roman Empire fell into the Great Interregnum, and from 1257 the title King of the Romans was contested between Richard Earl of Cornwall (brother of Henry III of England) and Alfonso X of Castile. Richard was the ‘winner’ here (Alfonso never really set foot in Germany) and is thus the in-game Emperor at our start date in 1268, but historically his authority was incredibly limited.


- There's what Richard of Cornwall looks like in-game.​

In Sicily, meanwhile, Conradin was usurped by his bastard uncle Manfred in 1258. In 1266 Charles Count of Anjou (brother of Louis IX of France), with the support of the Pope, invaded Sicily and defeated and killed Manfred at the Battle of Benevento.

Then, in 1268, the 16-year old Conradin invaded Italy, but was defeated and captured at the Battle of Tagliacozzo, and executed in its aftermath. His death brought an end to the legitimate male-line of the Hohenstaufen dynasty. Hopefully things go better, or this will be a short AAR! Thankfully Charles made it easy for me in-game by immediately declaring a de jure war for the Papal holdings in Benevento.

Henry and Frederick of Castile (which in-game gets converted to Enrique and Fadrique) were both involved in Conradin’s campaign historically, and that’s why I’ve brought them to my court in-game.

The Matter of Jerusalem

So, historically, Frederick II’s second wife was Queen Isabella II of Jerusalem. Isabella died giving birth to Conrad IV. As a consequence, Conrad and Conradin both theoretically reigned as Kings of Jerusalem (from 1228-54 and 1254-68 respectively).

However, neither actually set foot in the Jerusalem or exercised much effective power there. The game can’t really model this- if it gave the KoJ to the Conrads then Jerusalem would be part of the HRE from 1250-68, which wouldn’t be historically accurate either and would probably result in the HRE blobbing all over the Middle East- so from 1228-1268 the in-game KoJ belongs to the de Lusignan family who historically inherited the throne after Conradin’s death in 1268.

Presumably in support of this goal, the game has also changed it so that Conrad IV is the son of Frederick II and his third wife Isabella of England (or maybe some wires got crossed due to both being named Isabella?). For the purposes of this AAR, we’ll be treating Conradin as a grandson of Isabella of Jerusalem, and pretending that Hugh III de Lusignan of Cyprus usurped Jerusalem at some point during Conradin’s minority.

Other Family Tree Stuff

So, there’s some other stuff with the Hohenstaufen family tree. For one, Conradin has a bastard half-brother whose actual name (rather than nickname) is Konradin. I’m not sure if this guy or his daughter are historical, but his name makes things confusing. I’ll be referring to him as ‘Konrad the Bastard’.

Additionally, Conradin’s heir historically was his aunt Margaret, Landgravine of Thuringia, and she’s in-game with her historical marriage as Duchess of Thuringia. However, she’s not Conradin’s heir- the game has interposed another aunt named Margaretha (whom I've married to Ludwig of Bavaria, above). I’m not sure who she is meant to represent, it could be one of Frederick II’s many bastards, but she’s obviously legitimate in-game, so…

Also, Charles of Anjou has two daughters born in 1261, and they’re both named Elizabeth. Is this just a case of accidental duplication?



My Editing

I’ve given Conradin claims on Jerusalem and Sicily. Even by in-game logic, he should have a strong claim on Sicily as a deposed king, and the Jerusalem thing I’ve justified above. He does start out with a strong claim on the HRE, though.

Also, a bunch of counties in northern England (including those belonging to Prince Edmund Crouchback) start out independent for some reason, I corrected that.

What does the in-game situation look like in 1268?


- Look at those borders!

First and foremost, the borders are a terrible, terrible mess. The HRE holds a bunch of counties in Southwest England because Richard of Cornwall is Emperor, and chunks of France are owned by Sicily and Navarre, because Charles of Anjou and the House of Blois are rulers of Sicily and Navarre respectively. Now, I could done something with the exclave independence rule to deal with this, but I haven’t had enough time to experiment with that and figure it out, so I’ve turned it off entirely (Satanic worship is also off, all other rules are default).


-The East

Further east, the Balkans are still unsettled. The Latin Empire has ceased to exist in 1261, but other Fourth Crusader statelets continue to exist in the form of the Duchy of Hellas and the Duchy of Achaia, as do the breakaway Byzantine Despotates of Epirus and Trebizond. Epirus is particularly interesting because it contains Manfred’s widow Helena Angelina Komnenos Doukas (who is the sister of Despot Nikephoros) and their children (historically these children were blinded and imprisoned by Charles of Anjou).


- Manfred's widow

There’s also a rather large Serbia.
 
Last edited:

Captured Joe

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Very interesting, you don't often see people using the later start dates for AARs (which is a shame).
 

stnylan

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A very nice start date and character. Let us hope Conradin can restore the Hohenstaufen name to the greatness it deserves.
 

Jokerang

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Is that the same Elizabeth of Hungary that married into the House of Anjou in real life?

Good start with the initial marriages and alliances. Conradin will need them if he wants to restore the glory that was his grandfather's empire.
 

Arnulf Floyd

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Good start for a intriguing AAR. Interesting choices for marriages and alliances. I love Hohenstauffens so much. Not let Charles to conquer Two Sicilies and restore glory and legacy of Stupor Mundi:)
 

Tyler96

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Thanks for all the comments!

Very interesting, you don't often see people using the later start dates for AARs (which is a shame).
Indeed, there's plenty of interesting potential starts hiding around the later start dates.

Let us hope Conradin can restore the Hohenstaufen name to the greatness it deserves.
I love Hohenstauffens so much. Not let Charles to conquer Two Sicilies and restore glory and legacy of Stupor Mundi:)
That's the plan. ;).

Is that the same Elizabeth of Hungary that married into the House of Anjou in real life?
In real life Elizabeth's sister Mary wed Charles II of Naples, and their eldest grandson found his way to the Hungarian throne as Charles I of Hungary.

Historically this Elizabeth had a couple of brief marriages to the Bohemian noble Zavis of Falkenstein and to Stefan Milutin of Serbia.

Subbed. It's nice to see something a little different.
Thanks.
 
Milan, and the Papacy

Tyler96

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Milan, and the Papacy

It was a fraught exercise, relying so heavily on an unwieldy alliance. If you considered the men brought by the Wettin Dukes of Meissen and Thuringia as a single force, then the four thousand men Konrad could muster made Swabia the weakest member of the coalition.

There were further complications, as Konrad and his companions would learn when they approached the city of Milan and were met by Musca della Torre, son and heir of its Duke, Napoleone.


His brother is leading a mercenary company, if anyone's curious what's going on there.

‘’Welcome, your majesty’’ opened Musca with an extravagant bow. ‘’Stores have been laid out for your men, and the Bavarians, Thuringians, and Meissians sure to follow. Accommodations for yourself and your commanders have been prepared in the city.’’

‘’Thank you, your efforts are much appreciated’’ replied Konrad as he, and his own entourage- the infante Enrique; Swabia’s foremost commander, the humble-borne Erich; Albrecht von Hohenzollern, Baron of Hohenberg; and Swabia’s Marshal, Count Ludwig von Zahringen of Ulm- rode to join Musca.

‘’I trust your journey has been agreeable?’’ asked Musca, a vision of hospitality.


Countess Anna Hupoldinger of Bern, Schwyz and Zurichgau, betrothed to Konrad's bastard brother.

‘’Aye, both my future sister-in-law Anna Hupoldinger and your own vassals were must welcoming’’. Then, in a lower voice, as he came alongside the Milanese lord. ‘’I had hoped to meet with your father.’’

Musca shook his head. ‘’I’m afraid the Duke Napoleone has already departed southwards. Count Meinhard of Innsbruck insisted on plunging ahead with his troops and my father thought it best to support him.’’

Damn it! We were meant to meet in Lombardy.

‘’There is also another matter’’ said Musca as he waved nonchalantly to a member of his entourage. ‘’Ottone, over here.’’

The man bristled at this. ‘’I am the foremost prelate of your realm. You will address me with respect’’.

Musca rolled his eyes. ‘’This is Ottone Visconti, Bishop of Monza.’’ Then he turned to Konrad and whispered ‘’You must forgive his impudence, Ottone has conceived quite the hatred for my father. Unfortunately his nephews are counts and sit on the council, so we cannot remove him.’’


Note Ottone's mutual relations with Duke Napoleone. Historically the della Torres and Viscontis engaged in some pretty vicious competition, which culminated in Ottone defeating and replacing Napoleone in 1277 and inaugurating the reign of the Visconti. Though historically the della Torres were anti-Hohenstaufen Guelphs and supported the Angevins.

Ottone glared as he rode over, certain Musca was whispering maliciously about him, before he addressed Konrad. ‘’His episcopal majesty Pope Clemens IV has announced a crusade to retake Jerusalem. He expects the lords of Christendom to put aside their worldly squabbles in pursuit of this holy goal.’’

The Pope’s hypocrisy knew no bounds. Here he was complaining about worldly squabbles whilst he himself was engaged in a war against Charles of Sicily to maintain the Papacy’s temporal power. If you wanted tranquillity you could have just surrendered your holdings in Benevento, dear Clemens. Nevertheless, this was not the time to antagonise him.

‘’Very well. I will pledge my support. Would you oversee the ceremony, Bishop Ottone?’’

Ottone’s demeanour changed slightly at this. ‘’Of course, your majesty.’’

***

Deus Vult!
Konrad and his party had been shown to their rooms in Milan.

‘’Are you sure about this?’’ asked Enrique, as he idly fiddled with the cross recently sown into his clothes.

‘’The Pope and I are almost on the same side, now is not the time to alienate him.’’

‘’And if we have not concluded the war for Sicily when the Crusade begins?’’

Konrad waved off his concern. ‘’It will take years for the Crusader host to assembly, our forces are already in Italy’’.

‘’And if our host should survive the war, it will surely be in need of rest and recuperation’’ offered Count Ludwig of Ulm from the couch he had characteristically found to lounge on. The man had little taste for warfare, had protested at being dragged over the Alps, and was thoroughly unsuited to his position, but he occasionally summoned up a valid point.

Konrad shrugged. ‘’We need only send a token force. I’m sure some will volunteer.’’


Konrad's distant cousin and commander, the well-travelled infante Enrique of Castile.

‘’And what about the matter of the Kingship of Jerusalem?’’ questioned Enrique.

That’s a difficult one. ‘’It would seem… logical to prioritise the recovery of the Jerusalemite hinterland from the Muslims. The usurper can be dealt with at a later date.’’

Enrique remained unconvinced, but tilted a glass nevertheless, ‘’First, let us win Sicily.’’

Notes

Letting your allies free range things and not ordering them to attach immediately can make things go badly.

And in no way take this post as an indication that I'll be posting updates every day, because that will not be the case.
 

alscon

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An intriguing start, a clear objective and plan in motion from the beginning, a very nice introduction to the setting - let us see what fate has in store for this Konrad.
 

stnylan

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A very intriguing opportunity here. I wonder what fortune can be won in this new war.
 

guillec87

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subbed!

btw, who are you going to marry?
 

guillec87

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Tyler96

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An intriguing start, a clear objective and plan in motion from the beginning, a very nice introduction to the setting - let us see what fate has in store for this Konrad.
Thanks for the kind words.

A very intriguing opportunity here. I wonder what fortune can be won in this new war.
Fingers crossed, I guess.

Would inserting Conradin's claim to Jerusalem make him the person to receive the Levant should the Crusade be successful?
I'm still not 100% on how crusades and claims and suchlike work with the new crusade mechanics, but the fact that there is an incumbent king of Jerusalem in the form of Hugues III of Cyprus, and Hugues is the selected Papal beneficiary, makes Conradin's claim irrelevant (I think).

subbed!

btw, who are you going to marry?
Thanks!

And Jokerang has the right of it, Konrad is betrothed to Arpad Erszebet, granddaughter of Bela IV of Hungary-Croatia. It's also worth noting that Erszebet is the eldest daughter, and she doesn't have a great deal of brothers.

It was really just a mix of her being close to marriageable age (~12 in 1268), which is important given I've married off my current heir to Bavaria, and a good alliance. I probably could have looked for someone in the HRE, but I was pretty comfortable with the allies I'd snagged there through other means (the dukes of Meissen, Thuringia, Bavaria and by the Rhine, the count of Innsbruck and Landeck, and the Countess of Bern, Zurichgau and Schywz).
 
Decisions, Decisions

Tyler96

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Decisions, Decisions

Konrad and the Wettins would finally catch up with the overeager men of Innsbruck and Milan in Chieti, one of the northernmost dominions of the actual kingdom of Sicily. The sluggish Bavarians had yet to catch up, and none had heard from the Hungarians.

Nevertheless, Konrad had decided to hold an impromptu war council with those of his allies that were present.

Meinhard, Count of Innsbruck and Landeck, had been sheepish. His men, and those of Milan, had narrowly avoided barrelling into a far superior force of Angevins in Florence. He had blabbered some protestations about being misled by his scouts and informants, but Konrad had waved off his concerns. No ill had come of it, all was forgiven, and Meinhard's spirits had been lifted when news filtered south that the Emperor Richard had elevated him to the Duchy of Tyrol.


Konrad's step-father, Duke Meinhard of Tyrol, who had narrowly avoided annihilation at the hands of a superior Angevin force in Florence.


Napoleone della Torre, Duke of Milan, was ill at ease at such meetings, and opted to cede the floor after bluntly introducing his nephew. ‘’Guido has a fresh scouting report. We’ve had men trailing the Angevins since that mishap in Florence.’’

The youthful Babenberger brothers, representing their uncle Duke Heinrich III of Meissen and cousin Duke Albrecht of Thuringia, sniggered at the reference to Florence. Guido cracked a smile had their reaction.

A glance from Konrad quietened them before Meinhard could grow too indignant, then, when silence had returned, Konrad gestured to Guido to speak.


Guido della Torre, who often acted as the voice of his uncle in council.

‘’The Angevins followed us south, but appear to have broken off their pursuit to engage Papal mercenaries in Capua. It’s also possible they were headed to confront the Hungarians somewhere in the south’’.

‘’How many?’’ asked Konrad.

‘’With our forces attached, we are about evenly matched. With the Bavarians, we should have more.’’

‘’Will they defeat the Pope?’’


The Milanese and Tyroleans idling in Chieti as they await the arrival of the Swabians, Thuringians, and Meissians, whilst Angevin and Papal forces battle to the south.
Guido shrugged. ‘’It was hard to get too close, with both armies on alert, but it seemed neither side had a large numerical advantage.’’

‘’Very well. The question, then, is should we push ahead and engage whatever remains of the Angevins after their engagement with the Pope, or wait for the Bavarians and overwhelming force?’’

‘’There’s no need to risk a battle immediately, we should wait until we can be sure of victory.’’ This from Napoleone’s brother Corrado di Cuma, previously a silent participant in proceedings.

Napoleone himself smacked Corrado down. ‘’Nonsense, brother. We should attack. The Angevins will be weakened or in outright retreat after fighting the Pope's mercenaries. That gives us a greater advantage than waiting for the Bavarians.’’ Apparently a need to condemn his brother’s suggestions outweighed his shyness.

‘’I agree with the Lord of Milan’’ offered Meinhard.

Berthold Babenberger tread carefully, these men were senior to him in age and rank. ‘’With respect, my lords, these are not the only two options.’’

‘’What would you suggest?’’ Konrad was not a militarily-minded man, and thought it judicious to listen to all suggestions offered.

‘’Well, some members of our company have already established for themselves a reputation for… rashness’’.

‘’The ‘mishap in Florence’’’ chirped Berthold’s brother with a smile.


Berthold Babenberger, nephew and cousin to the Wettin dukes of Thuringia and Meissen.

‘’Aye. So, what if we were to divide our forces, tempt the Angevins into an attack, and then hit them in the rear with the remainder.’’

Napoleone chuckled, but shook his head. ‘’Boys, I know full well the value of deceit in warfare, but you usually employ it when you’re the weaker party. There is no need for such risks here.’’

Konrad nodded uncertainly. ‘’Very well, we’ll march on Capua to catch the Angevins whilst they recover from their previous engagement. But let us send word to the Bavarians, so they might join the battle when they arrive.And send someone to find those blasted Hungarians.’’

''To Capua, then...'' echoed the rest of the company.
 

Captured Joe

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Maybe Konrad can win this without help from the Hungarians anyway!
 

stnylan

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Let us hope there is a great victory. Battles can be chancy things
 

guillec87

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to Capua! Why is Sicily at war with the Pope?