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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Tyler96

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I wonder at Konrad's easy facade. Because I am quite sure it is a facade. If he comes face to face with the one behind the would-be killers, I am sure the facade may slip
I think you've got to put up some sort of facade when you're a crippled emperor in an intensely martial world.

It almost looks like he's having fun!
Getting carved up in bed, what's not to love?
 
Uncertain Accolades

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Uncertain Accolades

After these early hiccups the Crusade passed without much incident. Nadbor, Ancel of Franche-Comte, and Cenek of Savoy marched forth into central Anatolia, bolstered by another twenty thousand troops.

Even had their Sultan not been a swaddling babe the Mohammedans would have been hopelessly outmatched. Tens of thousands of Crusaders poured into Anatolia from the west, having completed the treacherous overland journey- Konrad’s vassals Emmo of Brabant, Magdalena of Pomerania, Konrad VI of Nordgau and Ilsa of Bavaria had marched forth with their personal levies.

The great Kings of the East- Arpad Levente of Hungary and Borzywoj Piast of Poland-Sweden- swept eastward at the head of their legions. Even Arpad Nandor of Croatia, the pox-ridden, one-legged lunatic, issued forth with all the troops his few remaining lands could offer.


Croatia ain't doing too good.

The West was less well-represented- Alan of England, Sunyer of Aragon, and Guichard of France still languished under excommunication, though their vassals ventured forth freely. Scotland and Leon were hamstrung by the ills of regency, whilst Konrad’s nephew Oveco of Castille lacked sufficient funds to participate. It would be humble-born Maelcon, peasant-king of Brittany, who made the most impressive contribution of the western monarchs, bringing ten thousand men.

Konrad saw little of their glories, spending his time recuperating in Seleukia under heavy guard. The locals were relatively welcoming- the last King of Cilicia, Davit, had converted to Catholicism, and maintained that faith as a vassal of the Sultans of Rum. It was only under his daughter Aghavni that the proud Hetoumi had been prevailed upon to adopt Islam, and even then it had been lukewarm- Aghavni’s son Vachagan had engineered the murder of Sultan Gunduz in 1331.


The Emperor’s wounds healed, but he was assailed on other fronts- cancer had determined to claim the life of a second consecutive Hohenstaufen emperor. Healer Ute’s regime of stargazing did little to help, and an unorthodox treatment involving a severed hand was taken by the emperor as mockery, resulting in her banishment. None were appointed to replace her, Konrad having little faith that the healing arts could restore his present state.

Nevertheless, the Crusade progressed quickly, drawing to a close scarcely two years after it had begun. The ailing emperor was conveyed north to Ikonion to see his daughter and son-in-law enthroned as rulers of the Kingdom of Anatolia. All present paid obeisance to the Emperor, whose contributions had been crucial to the success of two Crusades. ‘’The Sword of the Blessed Virgin,’’ the title bestowed upon Konrad for his youthful glories in Egypt, had been reaffirmed in his dotage, but the Emperor took little pleasure in these honours. The escape of the Rumite leadership, including Sokmen, was a disappointment, but the issue went deeper.


All the glories in the world, and all the treasures lavished upon him by the Papacy, could not restore his health, his limbs, his youth, or those lost. It was thus with sombreness that Konrad returned to Palermo. His granddaughter Constance and daughter Brunhilde both visited to nurse him, but he paid them little regard. There was only one figure who could rouse the Emperor to something of his old vivacity- the future of his house, Konrad the Younger, King of Italy and Duke of Swabia, now on the eve of his majority.


I'm not sure if anyone other than me finds this sort of stuff interesting, but...

Duke Koszegi Janos of Thracesia, second-cousin of Duke Koszegi Erno of Balaton

Duke Brywn Aberffraw of Cilicia, son of King Einion of Brythonaid

Duke Arpad Donat of Bucellarian, great-nephew of King Arpad Nandor ‘’the Oppressor’’ of Croatia

Duke Lionel de Lacey of Charsianon, son of Duke Randolph II of Warwick, York, Northumberland, and Cumbria.
 

stnylan

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Temporal glory is but one thing, but it is cold comfort in the throes of a failing body.
 
Konrads Young and Old

Tyler96

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Konrads Young and Old


Konrad of Italy was determined to immediately make his mark, having attained his majority.

‘’It is unseemly that the King of Italy possesses no holdings in his kingdom, I mean to rectify this.’’

Konrad the Elder grinned wryly. ‘’And how do you mean to rectify this?’’

‘’I would try to finally rid Italy of the Pisans.’’

‘’And what say your vassals?’’

‘’That they’d be glad to be rid of the Pisans.’’

The Emperor acquiesced, as one must, to youthful enthusiasm. ‘’Very well. But be mindful, the merchant’s pocket’s run deep. I am also to depart on campaign soon.’’

‘’Serbia?’’


Yet another Serbian revolt.

‘’Aye, another rising against your mother. She seems mightily unpopular.’’

The grandson shifted uncomfortably at the mention of his mother. She had left to take up her post in Serbia when he was but a toddler, and their relationship since had been solely epistolary. Her favouritism for her younger sons, and rumours of schemes to alter the succession in their favour, had naturally infringed on whatever amicability the exchange of letters had created.

The ambivalent feelings for his mother were pushed aside. ‘’And you must go personally? Your health is barely recovered.’’

The Emperor scoffed. ‘’You sound like the mother hens on my council.’’ His feelings towards the council had become even more uncharitable since the passing of his cousin Hartwig, Duke of Provence and Tyrol, had left it largely the preserve of patronising, energetic, youths.

‘’They have you best interests at heart.’’

Another scoff. ‘’As do you, I suppose?’’

‘’I do.’’

The Elder Konrad let the silence hang for a moment. ‘’You must abandon your fantasy that I will live long enough to make you acceptable to the electors.’’

The Younger Konrad protested. ‘’I entertain no such fantasy.’’

‘’And yet you would have me spend my time laid up in bed, so that I might eke out a few more years as a malformed cripple?’’

‘’And you would throw yourself to your death to alleviate your own self-pity. Heedless of the effect on your realm. Your dynasty.’’

Konrad smirked. Dynasty meaning you, of course. ‘’I had convinced myself that I was leaving that in secure hands, despite your attempts to prove the contrary.’’

‘’But what of the Empire?’’

‘’The electors will not have you. Your youth will be counted against you, even if you preserve me for another decade.’’

‘’What can they hold against us? They’ve profited under your rule.’’ The boy was sulking now. That was unseemly, for a King.

‘’That provides no guarantee they’d profit under yours. The electors are fickle creatures.’’

Konrad the Grandson continued to pout, so Konrad the Grandfather elaborated. ‘’Let a placeholder rule for a decade or two. It won’t be an enemy- Boleslav of Bohemia sits in our dungeon, the continuation of the Premyslid dynasty resting on his single son; the Welfs are ruled by a teen girl. Let the placeholder rule for a while, you will be dominant south of the Alps- his writ need not run here, should you find it odious. If you so dearly desire the Empire, then butter up the bishops, marry the Saxon girl, and lean on Duke Johann to promote your claim upon the next election.’’

The younger Konrad bowed his head. ‘’That course of action seems reasonable.’’

The Emperor raised an eyebrow. ‘’Does that mean you’ll follow it, then? And stop resenting me for expiring on you. 62 is old enough. It’s more than my father got. Much more than my brother and my son. More even than Stupor Mundi. I will not cling on to this enfeebled existence solely for your benefit. So, let me march against these intransigent Serbs…’’

 

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And so onto the next Konrad, with much to prove.
 

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Well the leadership of the House of Hoenstaufen passes into the hands of a new generation.
 

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And so onto the next Konrad, with much to prove.
Indeed he does.

That red skull is ominous
Kinda to be expected when you send a cripple with negative personal combat score into battle, TBH.

Konrad died as he lived, violently.

And fighting Serbian rebels.
Yep, that's about right.

Just to clarify, what is the status of the rest of the dynasty, specifically Konrad V's daughters?
Bold denotes a player character, highlighted denotes a character still living.

Konrad IV, Duke of Swabia (1254-1301); King of Sicily (1254-1258; 1270-1301); Holy Roman Emperor (1298-1301) m. Princess Arpad Erzsebet of Hungary.
1. Hildegard m. Enrico von Hohenstaufen, Count of Bizerte​
1. Tiberios the Cruel, Duke of Tunis​
1. 2 Daughters
2. Enrico, Baron of Ghezala​
1. 2 Sons
3. 2 Daughters
2. Konrad V, Duke of Swabia (1301-1302; 1306-1337); King of Sicily (1301-1341); Holy Roman Emperor (1301-1341) m. Bojana Nemanjic, Queen of Serbia (1321-1326)​
1. Barbara, Queen of Serbia (1326-) m. matrilineally Fernando de Castrosiero​
1. Constance m. Tryphon von Hohenstaufen, Duke of Holland
1. 2 Daughters
2. Konrad II/IV, King of Italy (1337-) and King of Sicily (1341-)
3. Gottschalk, died young​
4. Zoran
2. Hildegard, Queen of Anatolia (1339-) m. matrilineally Nadbor Piast.
1. Gunhilda
2. Friedrich
3. Konrad
3. Brunhilde, m. matrilineally Heinrich Wettin (died young in battle), then m. Smil, Duke of Moravia.
4. Prince Konrad the Younger, died young of the plague.​
3. Elizabeth von Hohenstaufen m. Alfonso X 'the Bear', King of Castille and Leon.​
1. The House of Ivrea, Kings of Castille and Leon.​
4. Friedrich VIII, Duke of Swabia (1302-1306)​
1. Sibylla, Duchess of Swabia (1306-1307); died young of plague.​
5. Margaret the Protector, Queen of Egypt (1305-) and Jerusalem (1309-)

So, to answer your question, all three of Konrad's daughters live.

Barbara reigns in Serbia, with her son Konrad of Italy as her heir. Next up in the succession is her younger, Serb-cultured son, Zoran, and then her daughter Constance and Constance's children (who are Hohenstaufen due to her marriage to a distant kinsman).

Hildegard reigns in Anatolia, and the succession there is assured by her two young sons Friedrich and Konrad.

Brunhilde has been wedded normally off to Moravia, but has not yet found issue.

Further branches of the Hohenstaufen persist in the North Africa as the descendants of Konrad V's sister Hildegard, who had wed her cousin Enrico. As of 1341 these take the form of Duchess Ghnima of Tunis and Baron Artemios of Ghezala.

Another sister of Konrad, Margaret, still lives. She was established as Queen of Egypt in the early 1300s and conquered Jerusalem on her own initiative. She has no issue, and her heir is a matter of some interest.


Left: the North African Hohenstaufen, descended from Konrad IV's daughter Hildegard.
Centre: the descendants of Konrad V, including his daughters Barbara of Serbia and Hildegard of Anatolia, and his grandson Konrad of Italy.
Right: The House of Ivrea, descended from Konrad IV's daughter Elizabeth, and Margaret of Egypt.​
 
Emperor Konrad VI

Tyler96

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Emperor Konrad VI

The news had travelled relatively quickly. First it found its way to the Duke of Saxony’s heir Albrecht Askanien, currently in Steiermark suppressing a revolt. Albrecht, as the King of Italy’s future brother-in-law, had despatched word across the Adriatic post-haste.

Konrad of Italy, presently commanding an army outside Pisa, was left to reel at the loss of his grandfather, the titan who had ruled the Holy Roman Empire for four decades. ‘’A lowborn Serbian?’’

Guido of Milan, the Chancellor, nodded in affirmation. ‘’Named Vladimir, in service to the rebel Martin of Bosnia. It seems the Emperor plunged forth into the fighting, despite his… debilities.’’


He was ever so eager for a glorious death. ‘’The how of it matters not. Are the men left there sufficient to relieve my mother?’’

‘’Duke Cenek thinks so, your grace.’’

‘’Very well. Write to my grandsire’s council in Palermo. The men of Sicily must be raised to march against the Pisans.’’

Gingerly, Guido felt compelled to mention the elephant in the room. ‘’And the empire?’’

Konrad grimaced. ‘’That seems to be beyond us, at the minute, though it should be watched keenly nevertheless.’’

***​

The thirty-six year old Konrad VI of Nordgau was a man of little distinction. He had a Hohenstaufen pedigree as an agnatic descendant of the great Stupor Mundi by the bastard Federico of Antioch, though he himself bore his mother’s surname of von Urach. Nordgau he had ruled without incident for three decades, and he made a modest contribution to the recent Crusade by leading its troops to Anatolia.


It was this man whom the electors now exalted to the Imperial Throne. Their reasons are a matter of some dispute. A pious, amiable, Crusader may have had much appeal to the episcopal electors. Those with darker motives may have also preferred an emperor who could only call upon the small duchy of Nordgau, as compared to one capable of calling upon the might of Italy.

The latter party would, however, be speedily disappointed, as the new Emperor Konrad VI von Urach took immediate steps to expand his patrimony. As Count of Breisgau he had been well known to the Swabian nobility for some three decades- three decades in which Swabia had felt somewhat neglected by the imperial Hohenstaufen.

It was thus, as one of his first acts, that the Emperor forcibly seized Swabia from his young namesake. This was a gamble, but the Italian Konrad was otherwise engaged in his war for Pisa, and as an unknown youth had few allies.

Indeed, many of the old Hohenstaufen loyalists cleaved to the new regime. Duke Adalbert Meinhardiner of Tyrol and Provence, whose father had been a long-serving steward of the old Emperor, was named Chancellor of the new von Urach regime. Rudolf of Baden, one of those neglected Swabian vassals, was similarly named a councillor by Konrad VI.

Duke Stefan of Saxony, whose daughter Gerberga was betrothed to Konrad of Italy and who had been a marshal under Konrad V, was busy with the revolt in Steiermark. Duke Zikmund Meinharder of Austria, whose father had risen so high in Hohenstaufen service, was an uncertain teen in thrall to his much older wife.

Nevertheless, the younger Konrad would not take the insult lying down…

***

The faint din of the sack could be heard outside, and the smell of acrid smoke had also filtered in to the great chamber. The throne previously occupied by Doge Sciarra the Great had been hurled over. Steward Liutprand was wafting about an ornate mace liberated from Sciarra’s armoury, said to be his reward for participation in the recent crusade.

The King paid him little heed. ‘’This will not stand.’’

‘’We cannot take him militarily.’’ Guido shrugged apologetically.

‘’There are other ways to indicate our displeasure.’’ This from the spymaster, Duke Jean II de Brienne of Apulia.

Liutprand momentarily stopped playing with the mace. ‘’Nothing too blatant, I hope. No blabbering assassins in the emperor’s bedchamber.’’

‘’That would be too extreme.’’ Konrad rubbed his chin.

‘’Have you something more… proportionate, your grace?’’ asked Jean.

‘’He will need the Pope to crown him to secure his position. No passage will be granted for him to pass through Italy.’’

‘’That is sure to provoke hostility, Papal as well as Imperial.’’ Guido noted.

‘’He provoked the hostility, and will live with its consequences. As for the Pope, I think he needs to be relieved of his vast temporal territories so that he might focus on spiritual matters. The Papal States have been a scar across Italy for too long.’’

Guido remained uncertain. ‘’A powerful enemy to make.’’

‘’My family have survived unfriendly Popes.’’

‘’You are certain of this course of action?’’ Inquired Guido.

‘’I am. This is what my grandsire planned for- a Hohenstaufen bastion south of the Alps, where the emperor’s writ need not run.’’

‘’And will that be our only stratagem?’’ Jean seemed more enthusiastic than the Chancellor.


‘’No. Release Duke Boleslav. It is no longer the Hohenstaufen’s concern if the Premyslids nurse imperial pretensions. Duke Adalbert’s perfidy must also be punished. We march on Verona when the Pisans concede.’’

Notes

I don't know why the Duchy of Swabia got automatically usurped by the new Emperor, but I've tried to justify it in-universe.

Writing a thesis over the next three months :confused: so updates may grow even patchier.
 

stnylan

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He thinks himself a Hohenstaufen? What gall? Indeed it displays such gall one might almost think him French.
 

Tyler96

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Good luck on the thesis!

Also, picking a fight with the Pope immediately, eh? Those Hohenstaufen never change after all!
Thanks.

And why would they change? The Papal States are still a blight upon Italy.

He thinks himself a Hohenstaufen? What gall? Indeed it displays such gall one might almost think him French.
The French are actually something of a basket case now, funnily enough.
 
Italian Adventures

Tyler96

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Italian Adventures

The new Konrad, King of Italy and Sicily, spent most of the 1340s asserting his authority in Italy. Verona was seized from Duke Adalbert Meinhardiner of Tyrol and Province, as punishment for his perfidy and a warning shot across the bow of the Emperor he served as Chancellor.

Further wars followed, carefully arranged against rulers occupied elsewhere. France had fallen into turmoil, the House d'Artois sputtering downwards in a series of excommunications, depositions, and assassinations. The throne had eventually passed to the House de Thouars, and the regents of young King Savary thought to bolster their position, and the exchequer, by declaring an embargo against the Doge of Ancona.


Pope Martinus was thus busy directing a war against the French when young Konrad marched on Bologna. Hastily recalled Papal troops were preyed upon with ease by Konrad’s battle-hardened men, with the King himself slaying Mayor Ambrogio of Viterbo in battle.


The English were also occupied in Scandinavia when the King laid claim to Modena. King Arnold’s inexplicable decision to march his army overland to Italy from Norway ended in predictable disaster. A naval attack on Palermo was less foolhardy, but ended in the same way. Bizarrely, it was only the presence of an English army that drew the young Konrad to his capital, for he otherwise spent the first decade of his reign living a peripatetic existence in northern Italy, moving from army camp to army camp.


This did not entirely preclude him from matters of state. Duke Sozzo of Milan did homage in a siege camp outside Vincenza, and the King only briefly dashed south to Aquileia to wed Gerberga Askanien in a ceremony presided over by his court chaplain. Konrad’s military lifestyle was judged inappropriate for the Queen, so she was dispatched south to the capital. She quickly made herself at home, spending her time in the company of a coterie of female companions. The couple would rarely see eachother in the years that followed, though Gerberga’s tastes meant that the relative separation suited her.


Konrad, on the other hand, should have been concerned at his lack of an heir, but his blasé nonchalance towards this issue characterised his early reign. Other matters of concern also left him seemingly unfazed- the death of his spymaster, Duke Jean of Apulia, at the hands of a band of ruffians in the capital was not judged sufficient reason for a return to the capital. Perhaps Palermo served as unwelcome reminder of a lonely childhood spent under the gaze of his forbidding grandfather, or he simply preferred a soldierly life, asking for no greater joy than bearing down on an enemy with his custom made lance, 'The Impaler'.

It would be a mistake, though, to characterise these early years as ones of complete negligence. The King attended to correspondence from his councillors in Palermo with a begrudging diligence, and his many wars had purposes other than vainglory. The reconquest of Verona, for instance, served as a sop to the dangerous Grand Mayor Armando, whilst the promotion of Corrado d’Este to the duchy of Modena served to counterbalance the power accumulated by the Savoyards and the della Torres. Further, the permanent existence of 20 000 men in northern Italy served to constantly dissuade the Emperor Konrad from trying to force his way to Italy for an imperial coronation.

This time of relatively carefree kingship, however, would be brought to a resounding halt by certain events in 1349…


Note

Bit of a bridging update, this one. Lots of wars in which not much happened.
 

Captured Joe

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Apparently each new Konrad has to grow a beard after a couple of years reigning.

Also, that's one way to keep one's wife happy I guess!
 

stnylan

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Biology can be a most terrible tyrant.