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stnylan

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Probably fair to say that ''updates will be more irregular'' has morphed into ''this thing is on hiatus until I finish writing my thesis''.

Will return in late October.
All best fortune with you.
 

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still around!
 

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Still around!
 

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Ruminations New

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Ruminations

Konrad had much time to ruminate on the succession whilst wracked with camp fever, and subjected to bleedings and all manner of other experimental treatments. He had not cohabited with his wife Gerberga often, preferring to leave her to her own inclinations, and the marriage had not been blessed with children.


The Hohenstaufen heir, then, remained Konrad’s brother Zoran. The two had barely met, Zoran being born after their mother had been forced to relocate to Serbia to take up that throne. As if to emphasise this distance, Zoran had recently wed Matilda Visconti, niece of the Pisan Doge who had been driven from his capital by Konrad’s armies. After Zoran was their nephew, Duke Gijsbrecht of Holland- the product of the marriage of Konrad’s sister Constance to their distant kinsman Tryphon. A Serbian and a Dutch boy were not especially suitable heirs to the Dual Kingdom of Italy and Sicily, at least in Konrad’s estimation.


So it was that shortly after Konrad’s recovery Queen Gerberga announced her first pregnancy. Prince Konrad would enter the world in July 1350. The King gave 300 gold to the Knights Templar in thanks for this development, and his recent recovery, though the good mood would not last.


Kaiser Konrad von Urach had taken advantage of the King’s recuperation to dash south to Rome and negotiate a belated coronation, quietening dissent within the empire. A simultaneous kidnapping attempt was fought off by Marshal Cenek, Duke of Savoy and Susa, perhaps having been sent by the Kaiser to ensure Konrad remained occupied.


Other unwelcome developments followed. A revolt in Hungary unseated the teenage King Arpad Balazs. Konrad himself had a claim to that throne, and if he could pair it with his future inheritance in Serbia the Hohenstaufen would be a mighty force in Eastern Europe.

Unfortunately, Konrad was not who the rebels had in mind: they chose instead his aunt, Margaret the Protector, Queen of Egypt and Jerusalem. Upon her exaltation she named herself Empress of Carpathia, and upon her expiry two years later she left her unwieldy empire to her great-nephew Artemios- a two-bit North African baron of no great renown.


Konrad had long envisaged a return to imperial status for the Hohenstaufen, but this was decidedly not what he had had in mind. He worked out his frustrations with more border adjustments in Italy. His persecutions of the merchant republics continued, with the Serene Republic of Genoa deprived of its namesake capital. Unlike the Pisans, who had been forced to relocate to Sardinia by Konrad’s conquests, the Genoan’s exile would take them to distant Crimea.

Attention then turned back to the Papacy, whose stranglehold on central Italy remained odious to the Dual Kingdom. Pope Martinus was no great strategist, and the Papacy’s vast resources were squandered under his command.

Papal troops struck out quickly, attempting to land a knockout blow before Konrad’s Italians and Sicilians could combine their efforts. But instead of concentrating all his levies on a landward thrust into Capua, the Pope divided his troops. Over ten thousand men were sent on a naval invasion of Palermo, and defeated there, with those in Capua following suit a few weeks later. The King himself took part in the latter fight, wounding an enemy bishop in the melee.


The Pope’s vassal Grand Mayor Berto of Ancona, meanwhile, deposited his troops on out of the way Malta, and there essentially sat out the war with a half-hearted siege. Rome fell in their absence, with Pope Martinus dragged through the mud and several noble Roman patricians conducted away in chains.

These conquests were ably carried out by a cadre of commanders Konrad had assembled about himself, and such men were richly rewarded. Filippo Montefeltro, a cousin of the count of Urbino, found himself exalted to the Duchy of Genoa. Thereafter he found himself exalted to the council, where he was steadfastly loyal to the King’s ambitions- unlike some of the other, more established nobles. Another adventurer, Mario Torda- a nephew of the Grand Mayor of Verona- was named Baron of Gratteri when that title fell vacant.

All avenues of expansion in Italy thus exhausted, Konrad turned his attention back to the Kaiser, but their long-awaited clash proved underwhelming. At a mere show of force the Kaiser ceded all claims to overlordship of Italy.


The Kaiser had no appetite for a fight, it seems. He had suffered his own troubles with the Pope, and upon being excommunicated he had been abandoned by his own son and heir, who had left to join the Teutonic Order. The Dukes of Provence, Carinthia, Pomerania, Mecklenberg, and Tunis took the opportunity to also escape imperial overlordship, though some of those soon had cause to regret this decision.
 

Captured Joe

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The Hohenstaufen's relation with the Church continues to be ambivalent. Also, has Konrad given up on becoming Holy Roman Emperor now?
 

stnylan

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The Empire sounds lost with Hohenstaufen leadership
 

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The Hohenstaufen's relation with the Church continues to be ambivalent. Also, has Konrad given up on becoming Holy Roman Emperor now?
For the most part. Better to focus on Italy and the Med, as well as the coming Serbian inheritance.

The Empire sounds lost with Hohenstaufen leadership
Gets worse, too.
 
Delicate Balancing New

Tyler96

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Delicate Balancing

Konrad did not rest on his laurels. His forces immediately marched on Provence, to bring his wayward cousin Duke Adalbert Meinhardiner back into the Hohenstaufen fold. Adalbert was elsewhere, prosecuting a war against the Genoans holdouts in the Crimea. He was quickly made to capitulate, though not before the Hohenstaufen troops had suffered difficulties besieging his Tyrolean territories.


Adalbert’s ally, Sultan Abbad of Andalusia, also made an abortive assault on Palermo. Andalusians joined the myriad other nationalities buried outside the city’s walls. Imperial armies already mobilised in the north of Italy then turned their attentions to Karnten, where Duke Alwin was likewise induced to accept Hohenstaufen overlordship.


The borders that then solidified between the Dual Kingdom and the Empire were decidedly awkward. A sliver of Imperial territory stretched down to the Adriatic coast via Croatia, separating Konrad’s Carinthian territories from his future Serbian inheritance. In the Alps, Konrad’s vassal Dukes in Savoy and Tyrol jutted northwards, whilst holdouts loyal to the Imperial Dukes of Thurgau and Bavaria persisted on the Italian side of the mountains. Nevertheless, they had to do for now.

These further wars proved unpopular with the King’s councillors, fearful that they would rouse imperial disapproval, and prompt the Kaiser to attempt to reassert his authority over Italy. The King, having given up any intention of ruling the Empire, now treated it with contempt, disparaging any threat it posed. He would be proved correct when the Kaiser, Konrad VI von Urach, died aged fifty-two in 1357. His alliance with the Pope had proved shortlived, as Konrad VI died excommunicate. His children Konrad, Irmele, and Adolf would follow in their father’s footsteps, all being excommunicated and burnt alive for heresy.

Konrad VI’s successors would prove no more dangerous to the Dual Kingdom. Liutbrand Welf, previously Duke of Holstein, ruled as Emperor for only a year before being slain by infidels on an expedition to the Holy Land. Emmo Reginar, Duke of Brabant, would reign for longer, but his weakness for alcohol and perpetual money-problems proved to inhibit effective rule.

Instead, the Dual Kingdoms’ chief difficulties in the years following their escape from Imperial overlordship proved mainly internal. The demands of Konrad’s constant campaigns had proved trying for many. Peasants revolted in Trapani, whilst a rebellion led by local knights sought to restore the ancient Kingdom of Burgundy. Both were crushed in short order, but they served to demonstrate the strain constant campaigning had inflicted on the kingdoms.


Aristocratic discontent also swirled, particularly in the less secure northern parts of the kingdom. Duke Sozzo of Milan found himself ejected from the council for his opposition to the King’s wars of conquest against Provence and Karnten. Another Sozzo, the Grand Mayor of Verona, had conceived of an unfathomable hatred for the King. The Lord Mayor of Lucca, Galeazzo, even contrived to have the King excommunicated, though the thoroughly cowed Pope Martinus rescinded this after a token show of contrition.


Duke Adalbert of Provence was elevated to the council after offering fealty, but remained discontented. Some whispered that he had a hand stirring up the knights in Burgundy. Even Duke Cenek of Savoy, longstanding Marshal, nursed his own ambitions. The element of most concern was that Duke Adalbert’s only child, Solene, was wed to Cenek’s heir Gilbert de Savoie. The children of such a pairing would inherit a mighty northern powerbase- the duchies of Savoy, Susa, Provence, and Tyrol- with which to challenge distant Palermo.


Konrad’s constant presence, and liberal use of bribery, kept these dangerous currents under control, but the King’s energy was not infinite. Indeed, he had been worn down by constant campaigns- they had earned him the epithet ‘the Lion,’ but also left him coarse, ill-suited to diplomatic niceties, and irritable. More long-term attempts to staunch discontent had limited success. Filippo Montefeltro, one of the King’s commanders, was established as Duke of Genoa and proved a vigilant protector of royal interests for a time. Unfortunately, his death in 1359 and the succession of his young son, removed this stabilising influence.


The Archbishops of Friuli- foremost churchmen of the realm- were a constant source of support for the King, but their support seemed contingent on the near-monopolisation of the office of Court Chaplain, and the potential for an invigorated Papacy to snatch away their loyalty was constant. In the long-term, perhaps building upon the royal demesne of Pisa and Piombino, or the establishment of a younger son there as viceroy, was the best way to ensure Hohenstaufen influence. The latter became a possibility when the Queen gave birth to a second son, Heinrich, in 1358, but it remained to be seen if Konrad would be able to bring any such plans to fruition.

As the 1360s progressed, Konrad’s inheritance of Serbia, and with it yet more overmighty and discontented vassals, would further test the King’s energies…
 
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stnylan

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Sounds like internal matters are going to keep Konrad more than busy enough
 

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is the Kingdom going to be split into parts when Konrad passes away?
 

Riotkiller

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Glad to see this has returned just before I come back from my own hiatus - Very interested in the way Konrad has decided to leave the imperial realm behind and strike out by himself - And whether that's going to be temporary or permanent :)
 

Tyler96

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With so many troubles at home, it seems foolhardy to bother with Serbia of all places too!
Yeah, but you don't want to look a gift Serbia in the mouth.

is the Kingdom going to be split into parts when Konrad passes away?
No, both locked down on primo.

Glad to see this has returned just before I come back from my own hiatus - Very interested in the way Konrad has decided to leave the imperial realm behind and strike out by himself - And whether that's going to be temporary or permanent :)
Wrangling electors got a little tiresome, TBH.
 
Serbia New

Tyler96

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Serbia

As the 1360s dawned, Konrad could look back on the first two decades of his reign with pride. He had broken away from the feeble Empire, brought Carinthia and Provence-Tyrol under his overlordship, and made further gains at the expense of the merchant republics and the Papacy.

His constant campaigning had taken its toll, but it had also led many to dub him ‘the Lion,’ and his energetic exploits in northern Italy helped keep many of his less committed vassals in line. The succession was also secure, in the form of Princes Konrad and Heinrich, with the former being successfully introduced to the realm in 1362.


Queen Gerberga, feeling she had done her duty, would refuse further cohabitation after the birth of the couple’s third child, Beatrix, in 1359. The marriage had always been one of convenience, rather than companionship, and the political utility of Gerberga’s Saxon connections had declined with the break from the empire, so Konrad acquiesced. He instead embarked on a series of affairs with minor baronial ladies, acknowledging his first bastard in 1363.


Continuing to criss-cross northern Italy, occasionally overawing truculent and seeking consolation in the beds of fair Italian maidens, may have had its appeals. However, it was not to be. The King’s mother, Queen Barbara, died in 1363, and he was forced to decamp to Serbia to secure that inheritance. This task would be made easier by one piece of good fortune.



***​

Zoran von Hohenstaufen, Prince of Serbia and favourite son of the late Queen Barbara, lay bedridden as his guest entered. He tilted his head. ‘’Brother, I wish that we could have met in better circumstances.’’

The King looked down sceptically. ‘’As do I.’’

Zoran stifled a cough. ‘’They say I’m dying. I think it true.’’

Konrad had little experience of conversational niceties. ‘’Mmm.’’

‘’Perhaps it is justice. You’ve doubtless heard of plots to disinherit you. I was not blameless.’’

‘’I suspected as much. It was for you that I marched here with an army at my back.’’

Zoran grinned wryly. ‘’We could have come to some accommodation. You would have confronted me with overwhelming military might, I would have been chastened. Perhaps you could have made use of my local expertise, if you found it in you to trust me. Maybe even a title here or there, in the name of reconciliation.’’

‘’A shame to miss it.’’

‘’We could play it out in abbreviated form, in return for a favour.’’

‘’And what would that be?’’

‘’My son, Mihailjo. Treat him well. I understand if you consider it too incendiary to install him in Serbia, but find a place for him.’’

The King nodded his accent.

‘’It will be hard. You are not well-liked here. Most everyone lost family in the incessant the rebellions against mother, rebellions mostly crushed by Hohenstaufen troops from the Empire and Italy. Gavrilo of Hum is your bitterest enemy, we have plotted together. Assassination was mentioned. Cousin Miroslav should be watched too, his brother and nephew both sought to reassert the claim of old King Vukoman. Try and get Duga and Matija onside if you can, they are an influential pair.’’



***​
It was a good suggestion. Duga and her son possessed no claim to the throne, and yet commanded half the country. Secure their loyalty, imprison Gavrilo, and keep a watchful eye on Miroslav, and the country could be rendered quiet. A woman entered, impeccably dressed though inclined to corpulence in her old age.

‘’Duchess Duga, I presume?’’

‘’Your grace.’’ The words came with difficulty, through gritted teeth.

‘’I need a loyal viceroy in Serbia. I cannot administer much of the royal demesne. Who do you recommend?’’

‘’I-‘’


‘’Miroslav is problematic, with his family’s history of rebellion. Gavrilo even moreso- my brother made a deathbed confession that they plotted to murder me. He will be brought to heel in due course. I could try to remove them all, root and branch, and replace them with loyal Germans, but that strikes me as unnecessarily bloody and time consuming. That leaves just you and your son, doesn’t it?’’

The older woman was flustered. ‘’We were no friends to your mother.’’

That is one way to say my mother burnt your husband alive, I suppose. ‘’I trust we are both willing to let bygones be bygones, in the name of mutual benefit.’’

She remained guarded. ‘’What is it you propose?’’


‘’First, the restoration of Kastoria to you. It belongs to the duchy of Ohrid. Second, I would ask that you send word to your daughter, her husband Count Miroslav has yet to do me homage. Third, the betrothal of my daughter Beatrix to young Matija. In due time he will rule much of Serbia. It seems reasonable to let him enjoy pre-eminence here so long as he maintains his ultimately loyalty to a father- or brother-in-law in Palermo. Can you and he compel the levies to march and the taxes to flow?’’

She nodded.

‘’Good. If they do not, I may have to revisit my more extreme option.’’

Duke Gavrilo Muzaka of Hum, a possessed, syphilitic, lunatic. Imprisoned for plotting against Konrad's life.
Duchess Duga Dragutin of Ohrid and Duklja, and her son Duke Mutija Nemanjic of Bosnia, brought into uneasy alliance with Konrad by virtue of Mutija's betrothal to Princess Beatrix.
Count Miroslav Nemanjic of Onogost and Ras, a reclusive genius. His father, King Vukoman Nemanjic (r. 1310-1321) was deposed by Kaiser Konrad V in favour of Konrad's wife Queen Bojana Nemanjic (r. 1321-1326). Subsequently, Miroslav's elder brother Dragutin II of Rashka and his nephew Dragutin the Younger were both involved in rebellions against Queen Barbara von Hohenstaufen (r. 1326-1363), resulting in the deaths of both and the revocation of the Duchy of Rashka.
 

Captured Joe

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Huh, all those Serbs are Catholic, that should make things a bit easier I guess. I wonder what Konrad will do with young Mihailjo.