• Hearts of Iron IV Survey

    Help us make HoI IV better by sharing your experiences in this 5 minute survey


  • Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
PLEASE...

...do not post to this thread. Pretty please?

The sheer size of the Denmark Cooperative AAR thread, and the number of comments in it (feedback, suggestions, funny OT, logistics, etc.) may make it hard for a newcomer to the thread to "smoothly" read through the back posts to "catch up", so to speak, with where we are.

To make their lives easier, this thread will contain all of the text portions of the thread, but none of the feedback, etc. I would beg you NOT to post any responses or feedback here please so this thread can remain clean. If you'd like to make a comment, please do so in the main thread.

To read the whole shooting match, click on this link to the main thread.

To read about how it all came to be, here's the thread that set it all up.

Thank you all, very much, for your cooperation.

MrT.
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Denmark: Fellowship of the Kings

Originally posted by MrT

Greetings.

My name is Erik, seventh King of Denmark to bear that name. Today, I just finished learning how to write and I thought I’d use this new-found skill to create a record of my actions for the benefit of generations to come. This is fortuitous, as I have now decided that the time is ripe for Denmark to strike out and once again attain the glory that she held in her past.

Glory? Yes, the sagas are filled with the marvellous exploits of our people. Together with our vassals the Norwegians and the Swedes, we once formed a mighty empire whose navies ruled the waves and whose fearsome armies struck terror in the hearts of all who faced us. We were an empire with established trade routes down through the Volga, into the Black Sea, and far beyond to mystical lands whose names are now forgotten; and also traded and plundered the length of the European coastline and into every nook and cranny of the Mediterranean. There was even a time when we were rumoured to have sailed the deep, dark, frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean and had commerce with a strange people beyond the seas.

Many of these records are lost to us now. Whether this was the onset of Christendom or some other cause, I do not know. Nor shall I take up your time by recounting the histories of our people. And quite frankly, I would not be the best person to do so either. I only just learned to read and write, and I am far too busy to go back and read about my more recent ancestors – the ones who allowed our power to wane as the sun does even now outside my bedroom window. It is a pity, however, that none of the ancient maps still survive. So now, once again, we are limited in our scope.

I should, however, give you a brief idea of the depths to which we have sunken, if nothing else than as a prelude to our mighty rise so you may say “What a great and noble people to have done so much with so little.” So here, so to speak, is the state of affairs with which I begin my tale on the eve of a new year – for tomorrow it will be January 1st, 1419 in the common reckoning.

I mentioned our vassals a few moments ago. There are two. Sigurd III Jonsson rules over Norway in our stead and is ably aided by his wife, my dear sister Gertrude. She regularly passes messages to me about the goings-on in that country. Because they are deeply in love – and the man truly knows how to put back the mead – we are on very, very good terms. She makes sure it stays that way, and I have striven to keep it thus through careful consideration of their needs.

Our other vassal, Sweden, is considerably less enamoured of our realm. Though we have attempted to curry their Unionsråd’s favour in the past by securing a marriage between our royal houses, our relations are on considerably shakier grounds. Perhaps I may find a way to improve things somewhat in the future, but for now they pass us the odd intelligence report and would prefer, otherwise, to be left to their own devices. If only they had a true monarch on the throne – someone I could speak to face to face. I will acknowledge that I am neither skilled in diplomacy, nor in the art of warfare, but surely there would be some improvement…but I repeat myself.

For the good of all, however, both Sigurd and the Unionsråd have abided by our pact of mutual self-preservation; by which I mean that we have a standing formal alliance to assist one another in times of strife. These have been frequent in the past, and will undoubtedly be so again in the future. This may, indeed, be of great benefit to us as immediately to the south are a number of very hostile nations.

Our next-door-neighbour, so to speak, is Holstein – a small country with who we have been disputing borders for as long as I can remember…and probably longer. My diplomatic corps assures me that the international community would object very little if should choose to settle this – at any time – by force of arms rather than by silver tongues. Or at least that is what they tell me. I could confirm this right now except none of them is available to converse with me at the moment – all being out on the road right now. Several are expected back in the capital within the year, however, so I will confirm this as soon as the first arrives.

Holstein, presumably in an effort to defend themselves in case of a concerted attack, has a standing army of some twelve thousand or so men and has negotiated an alliance with a veritable multitude: Pommern, Mecklenburg, Prussia, Bremen and the knights of the Teutonic Order. Most of these are small, however, and lack much muscle to assert themselves, and certainly none has an established navy that could contend with our own. Of these, Mecklenburg is interesting indeed as there is a very active port and trading centre there, which must supplement their domestic economy handsomely. Most of these nations are very evasive and have given distinctly cold receptions to our ambassadors.

But I stray far from home.

I should tell you about our domestic priorities. In general terms, we are a largely aristocratic nation that operates with only limited direction from the central capital. We are not as open-minded as some countries are, in spite of our very heavy bias towards mercantilism. We have, traditionally, focussed slightly more of our attention on the navy than on the army and favour a slightly larger army and recruiting pool than on ensuring that they are exceptionally well trained. This is supported by our trend towards, perhaps, few serfs of late. I would say, however, that we have adopted neither an offensive nor defensive doctrine was far as our tactics go. Both the army and the navy are competent in battle, having recently emerged from the greatest darkness of the mediaeval era.

Now, there is peace, tranquility and stability in the realm. We are at war with none; and the peasants and aristocracy seem to be essentially as happy as they are. I certainly don’t foresee any significant improvement being possible on that ground at any rate. Should the need arise, I would imagine that we could draw upon a pool of perhaps ten thousand men to bolster our armies, and our royal treasury currently boasts some 80,000 marks in gold and coin. To give you some idea of this value, consider that this would be enough to order the construction of some eight full fortifications…if we required them We don’t, though as the defences were constructed by my ancestors and are certainly nothing we could improve upon at this time.

As for our economy, well I haven’t had a close look at the books yet but I’ll get around to it in the very near future. Our prime two market items are grain and fish. The former is grown for export in our provinces of Jylland and Skåne; while the latter are caught in the coastal waters here off Sjælland, and in Gotland as well. We are far from being the most expert traders, but our merchants are able to outshine some of the potential competition. In fact, I recall speaking to two such men only yesterday afternoon and I shall surely quiz them about it again tomorrow when they return to the palace to receive their orders from me as to where next to vend their wares.

Denmark’s population is not what it once was, in the years before the Germanic tribes pushed us back from the rich lands in the south. I would estimate that at the low end, only some five thousand live in the city of Visby, in the province of Gotland; and perhaps a few thousand more than that live in Skåne’s provincial capital Lund. Our next largest city is Aalborg, the provincial capital in Jylland, with some ten thousand; and the greatest of all is København - our capital here in Sjælland - boasting some twelve thousand inhabitants. Our bailiffs report no difficulties whatsoever in any of our provinces as we are, really, a very homogenous country. On the other hand I believe there is room to collect somewhat more in the way of taxes from them, and will consider this a priority in the new year. Undoubtedly they will be able to administer such things far better than I am able.

Our people are, of course, deeply spiritual though we have converted from the disgraceful pantheon of our ancestors, and now truly believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is our Savior. In fact the pope himself blesses our archbishopric every year at Christmas mass and Easter mass, though he never been able to make the long journey north to visit us in person. We are admirably served, though, by our bishops, priests, and lower clergy who ensure that we do not stray from the path of the faithful.

Other than our catholic brethren, we occasionally entertain visitors from more distant lands who hold different beliefs. Those Greeks and Byzantines and others who pursue a more Orthodox interpretation of our Sheppard are somewhat misguided, but we will at least tolerate them within our home. Those heathen devils who call themselves “Moslems”, or some such ugly name, are a scourge upon the earth and should be eradicated – though several crusades have already been undertaken by all of Christendom without seeing much lasting success. Fortunately, being so far to the north, these occasions are rare, for the nearest nation that is not properly Catholic is quite some distance to the east.

And that, I suppose, nearly completes all I need say – or at least all the curious reader might wish to read. The only other thing that comes to mind is our current military disposition. The navy is in port here at the moment, commanded by Commodore Svendbord, and boasts some thirty ships of the line; and fully sixteen troop transport squadrons, able to handle an astonishing number of men are assigned to him as well. All told, we could likely move more than sixty thousand men at sea in a pinch. Not that our army is anywhere near that large – indeed we would likely go bankrupt trying to support and maintain such a force. As it is army and navy drag heavily at our purse strings on a monthly basis.

There is Colonel Christiansen in control of the main army who protects our southern border with Holstein. He has, at his disposal, some twenty thousand foot and six thousand horse. Colonel Aalbord is in charge of protecting our capital with a somewhat smaller force of nine thousand infantry and one thousand cavalry. As I wrote earlier, we could likely also field some ten thousand others in the short run.

I mention all of this because I feel, now, the time is close at hand when I will send them into glorious battle to strike the first of many blows for the rebirth of our nation.

By my hand, this day, the 31st of December, 1418.

Erik VII, rex.

01-01-1419.jpg


Denmark, New Year's Day 1419

*********

This AAR will be in interesting experiment as you will find that fully sixteen different authors will contribute to it as it runs its course. Each of us has taken on the “assignment” of writing a chapter, so to speak, of Denmark’s history – with each chapter covering the reign of one of that country’s monarchs. If you’re curious about how this all came about, please see this thread.

The first installment, Chapter 1 - Erik VII, will be along in the next few days.

We hope you enjoy.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Erik VII - Part I

Originally posted by MrT

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had the time to write…best laid plans and all that. I hope that’s the only New Year’s resolution that I break.

I began carefully considering how best to begin the restoration of Denmark, and naturally I began to think about the rich lands to the south, where larger populations would bring in increased tax revenues and improve the size of our nation. I also looked with considerable jealousy upon the wealth of my long-dead grandmother’s homeland of Mecklenburg, wealthy because of its bustling centre of trade which was always full of merchants plying their wares.

To that end, I have sent several merchants to establish our own import and export business through the port in the short term, but I have begun to eye it with a certain covetousness that occasionally is so strong that it wakes me up at night. I gave each of them 200 marks in hopes that this will suffice to get them established.

Now there seems to exist an excellent opportunity if I am able to size up the right moment to strike. I believe I mentioned in my previous entry that the international community accepts that we have a legitimate causus belli with Holstein. Now, by great fortune, Holstein is an active participant in an alliance with the Teutonic Order, Prussia, my birth-place of Pommern, Bremen, and Mecklenburg as well. It is quite likely that if I can persuade the Danehof – the council of Danish lords and nobles who have the majority of control in the laws of our nation – if I can persuade them that it is time for us to declare war on Holstein it is likely that their allies will pledge their support.

Now there’s some irony here, as two of her more dangerous allies are separated from her by Danzig, a province of Poland who is distinctly hostile towards them. Neither Prussia nor the Teutonic Order possess a navy of any sort, so this means that even if all five of Holstein’s allies agree to support her, only three could actually do anything about it.

In the very early months of the year I sent out orders for our warships to be divided into two fifteen-ship fleets. Commodore Svendbord was instructed to sail briefly in the seas off Bremen’s shores before returning to assume a patrol in The Sound. At the same time, Commodore Tonder was sent along Pommern’s coastline before assuming a station in the Kalmar Strait. The transports I ordered to remain in port here but instructed Commodore Aalborg to be ready at a moment’s notice. The result of this reconnaissance was that we determined that few standing troops were prepared in any of our potential foes’ lands, and thus their ability to counter-attack us would be minimal at best.

At the same time, I instructed Colonel Aalborg (it’s a military family, that one) to take his force of ten thousand to join Colonel Christiansen in Jylland in preparation for a quick strike on the enemy when the time came.

I also realized that we will need plenty of money to finance the wars and conquests I envision for the future, and that our current system of having the bailiffs collect it, more be hazard than by intent, was simply not very efficient. As a result, in all four provinces, I sent 5,000 marks to each bailiff and ordered them to establish a superior tax collection procedure. I also gave them a maximum of a year to achieve these reforms as I expect us to be at war well before then and it will cost rather a lot to raise and maintain the necessary forces.

Giving some consideration to our immediate needs, I decided that our navy could still function well enough if I reduced the amount of maintenance that I pay them by as much as a half. They grumbled about it, but still go about their daily lives and perform their tasks. I gave brief thought of doing the same with the army, but this first war will be fought in the marshes and fields of the enemy, and I wouldn’t want the lack of a bit of pay to undermine their desire to fight.

I further decided that we will need to have a dominating cavalry force in order to beat my German cousins. To that end, I fork over an appalling 17,000 marks to the recruiter in Jylland and instruct him to buy 10,000 horses, find the men to ride them by whatever means necessary, and train them into some sort of a fighting force as quickly as humanly possible. He succeeds admirably at his task, and these new horsemen have joined the amassed army in Jylland. Along with the now-combined armies, our force numbers 29,000 foot and 26,000 horse. This single force will bear the great responsibility of not only defeating the combined defences of four nations, but also of taking their fortresses. Of course I am not so foolish to think that further reinforcements will not be necessary. But I will wait until I have persuaded the Danehof of our cause.

I also issued instructions in January that the men were to all be trained on a daily basis as opposed to bi-daily. I hope this new edict will improve the quality of our forces, although the initial announcement produced a ripple is dissent throughout the nation – not enough to provoke anyone into anything foolish, mind you, but enough to have a slight effect on the economy.

Other changes I instituted involved a slight lessening in the amount of the tax revenue that I take into my own coffers. Instead, these funds were allocated to promoting research and improvements in our trade capabilities as well as our army’s outfitting. This is not to say that I am neglecting either our infrastructure or the importance of the navy, merely that I place a slightly greater emphasis on the others. I also ceased to give any tax contributions to the populace as I had done in the past. I make small personal donations, but as part of the national budget, it is unseemly to devote public funds to the pleasures of the serfs when we are on the eve of war.

Now as I was making all these plans, and the various armies and navies and recruiters and such went about their assignments, I did still keep an ear on the events and upheavals elsewhere in Europe. France and her allies are in the midst of a sizeable war with England and hers. And various other more distant wars are brewing, but the two most important pieces of news have arrived within the past month.

The first of these came by way of the rumour mill, but I was able to get confirmation of it shortly later as I am still in correspondence with a number of my more distant relatives in the south. It appears that Teutonic Order declared war on poor little Pskov on April 17th. Thinking that they might put up a bit of a fight, these knights also asked their alliance to join them in their action, and all of them agreed. Our spies did remark, however, that there was precious little troop activity to the south of us; to which I replied that the same barrio (Danzig) which prevented Prussia or her overlord from marching in this direction would have the same effect on troops desiring to march in the other.

The second bit of news came as a bombshell. It seems that the Unionsräd is intent on waging war with Novgorod and to that end, declared war on the rusk on May 4th. Naturally, the Swedes expect the other two members of the Kalmar Union to join her, and Norway and I (after checking with the annoying Danehof) agreed. As I have my own plans to accomplish elsewhere, I determine that our support will be of the “moral” variety rather than the military although I do open my coffers slightly to increase the pay to our mariners somewhat – though of course not fully – in the hopes that if there are any “enemy” vessels about, our crews will have the desire to defeat them.

And so we are at war, but not with the people I want us to be at war with. How annoying. There was, however, one bit of good news this month. One of our foreign affairs types – a diplomat – has made himself available to us finally should we have the need to send a message anywhere. And that is just what I was waiting for, since if you intend to declare war on someone, you must do it politely. He will be charged with that task tomorrow if I have my way with the Danehof. We are ready, and our army has managed to resume most of its poise after the addition of the raw recruits in the cavalry.

Yes indeed. Tomorrow I hope to be issuing them their marching orders.

1419_03_19_ready.jpg


Ready, but for the still-recruiting cavalry.
March 19, 1419


I have drawn here a little map to show you the disposition of our forces and of many of the potential enemy's from my notes made in March. I hope this gives you an idea of the activities on-going.

By my hand this 15th day of May, 1419

Erik VII, rex.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Erik VII - Part II

Originally posted by MrT

Oh glory! The Danehof has seen the wisdom in my plans and have drafted a declaration of war against Holstein. This I saw handed to our diplomat who will make haste to deliver it. This day, May 16, 1419 will live forever in the hearts and minds of our people. We have thrown off the shackles of despair and drunk full of the cup of life. Ah. I feel glorious. The people are slightly disgruntled that we would do such a thing to another Catholic nation, but that dissent will soon disappear.

But now I must attend to the business at hand, for we are now truly at war, as opposed to our “shadow war” with Novgorod – who incidentally is also now at war with Muskowy as well and is being hard pressed by my two allies and the other russ.

I receive word that, true to form, Heinrich IV has called upon his allies for support, and that they have all agreed to aid her – so now we are also at war with Jahann II of Bremen, Jahann III of Mechlenburg, Kazimierz V of Mechlenburg, and Michael Küchmeister von Sternberg who seems to speak for both the Teutonic Order and their vassal Prussia. I decide not to tax the good will of our own allies and decline to ask them to join us. Denmark must learn to stand on her own two feet after all.

I instruct Christiansen to hold fast in Jylland, but send a large portion of his force forward under his fellow colonel by the name of Tonder. He appears to be both willing and able, and is given command of 16,000 foot and 17,000 cavalry with orders to engage the enemy army of some 12,000 in Holstein. Since Christian’s force is now quite small, I send another 4,000 marks to the recruiter in Jylland and instruct him to find and train 4000 men for infantry duty. Theirs will be the task of besieging enemy fortresses and reinforcing Tonder as appropriate.

That should do. The strike is ordered, now all I must do is control my own impatience while the army marches.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Erik VII - Part III

Originally posted by MrT

Ah. What a busy year this has been. In another few hours the clock will strike in the tower to signal the dawn of a new decade, for it is nearing midnight and 1420 looms large. It is cold in the castle, but warm here in my study as the flames dance prettily, almost mesmerizingly, in the fireplace. Much as they do, no doubt, at this same hour but many miles away, on the walls of Bremen. Ah. But I get ahead of myself.

On June 1st, Tonder’s army of 16,000 infantry and 17,000 cavalry surged onto the field to engage a hostile force of some 10,000 Holsein foot, and 2,000 cavalry. These were engulfed by Tonder’s superior might and part of the cavalry executed a brilliant outflanking manoeuvre to prevent any of the enemy soldiers from escaping the blood bath. Tonder’s own casualties are very light, and his force’s morale is strong.

Immediately upon hearing his report, I order him to leave a very light covering force of a thousand – half infantry and half cavalry – and to press on as quickly as possible towards Mecklenburg. At the same time I issue marching instructions to Christiansen to bring his foot forward to besiege Holstein. His brother (for this is another family with deep ties to the military) is left in charge of the balance of the force in Jylland to await for the other recruits to be ready.

Heinrich sends us an offer of white peace several days later which we “lose” in the great shuffle of paperwork on my desk. His diplomat returns empty handed.

Two weeks later, on June 18, Christiansen arrives in Holstein to siege the city in earnest. On the same day, Tonder begins a week-long struggle against the forces of Mecklenburg. Their 14,000 men, of which 2,000 are cavalry, are no match for Tonder’s determined force of 14,410 foot and 16161 horse. By the 26th, Tonder has routed the enemy army and dispatched all the straglers, ensuring that none will be able to reassemble and present a threat in the future. Tonder reports light casualties of 1400 foot and fewer than 300 horses – most of whom pulled up lame due to some unexpected terrain conditions.

Tonder communicates that he feels that his men are up to even greater feats and requests permission to leave a small covering force of about a thousand in Mecklenburg, and to take the majority of his force westwards to ford the Elbe River before the army of Bremen realises it.

With some misgivings, I agree to the plan as our intelligence is that Bremen fields no more than 8500 men. Tonder and his men, I think, may be up to the task. However that leaves a very small force in Mecklenburg to guard that flank do I order the remaining army in Jylland to march to that location to initiate a siege and repell any Pommern troops that should engage them. On the other hand, this may be unnecessary as the nearly-ten-thousand-strong Pommern force in Vorpommern is presently reported to be marching eastward to join a small brigade stationed in Hinterpommern. Curious, I think, but a blessing.

Also interesting, but neither Bremen nor Pommern seem particularly concerned with our activities as our spies report that neither is recruiting at present. Well, I thinkm I’ll make them wish they had taken us more seriously.

In mid July, the recruits I had ordered in Jylland are ready for action and I order them, with their commander Rodby, to board Svendborg’s warships in The Sound. This will bring them more rapidly wherever they are needed and reduce their losses due to attrition as they march. I wished that I had thought of that earlier, but the pace of events had made it slip my mind.

A day later, Tonder and is men (some 11,000 foot and 15,000 horse) are spotted by the Bremen army as they make their attempt to cross the swift-flowing Elbe. The Bremen army of 7000 infantry and 1500 cavalry move instantly to engage our men. Pinned against the banks, Tonder makes a daring effort to break through the enemy lines but is eventually repelled on July 27th and retreats back towards Mecklenburg. In the aftermath, Tonder reports having lost some 1500 foot and 500 horse in the confusion, however he feels that a similar level of damage was done to the enemy prior to his decision to quit the field.

On August 2nd, Rodby indicates he is ready to land wherever I deem fit. I quickly size up the alternatives and order him to try slipping ashore at night into Vorpommeran. He knows that this may be a suicide mission with some 12,000 Pommern veterans situated just to the west, but he understands the need to secure the flank and protect the siege of Mecklenburg.

On August 24th, Tonder’s defeated but still-strong army arrives in Mecklenburg. The forage there is poor so he presses his men on to Holstein where richer pastures may be found and his men may regroup themselves.

That night, Rodby’s night landing is a success, losing only 40 men to the intense surf on the beach. He immediately seals all roads and encircles the city, though he lacks the men to besiege it. These, I tell him, will be along soon, and he is instructed to hold his position until receiving new orders.

On September 1st I contact the recruiter in Jylland once more. I inform him that another 4000 infantry will be needed for siege duty and hand him yet another sack of 4,000 marks. The man has managed a considerably better income than I have this year, but he is efficient – yes, I have to hand it to him. He is efficient.

A diplomat from Novgorod requests an audience on Septemebr 2nd, which I grant. He says he has been sent to offer us a white peace. I reply that I am rather busy right now but that I might turn my intentions towards him again in the near future. Perhaps sensing the double-entendre in my words, he leave dispiritedly.

On September 8th, Tonder’s force arrives in Holstein and I decide to lift the siege and leave only a covering force. There is a pressing need to deal with the army of Bremen before they can regroup, so Tonder takes all available men and begins to cross the Elbe once more, hoping to catch the enemy guarding the wrong ford. To this end, he has 12,177 infantry and 13594 cavalry at his disposal. I hope that this will be enough.

Runners arrived early in the morning of September 26th to give me the news that the siege of Mecklenburg had ended and that we now controlled the province. Unfortunately, King Johann III managed to evade capture and is believed to be somewhere at large. I curse, but order the 7000 men to give up their search and march on Bremen as a second wave to engage the enemy in case Tonder is hard pressed.

Several emissaries knock at our door in the following days. We politely refuse Prussia and the Teutonic’s offers for a white peace. Depending on the progress of this war, there may still be opportunities to explore in that direction, but I am not overly keen on biting off more than I can chew. Holstein’s diplomat issues an incredible demand that I pay them to stop the war! 5,000 marks!!! Can you believe it? I laugh, the Lords of the Danehof laugh, and we take the guy out and send him merrily on his way…empty handed of course.

Mecklenburg has managed to find somebody to take charge and their rider bears a heavy sack of 27,800 marks. While this is tempting, I tell their diplomat that only their complete annexation will suffice. He refuses and returns to wherever their King is hiding. I instruct one of our more talented scouts to follow the man and report on his actions.

On September 30th, Tonder reaches the northern fords of the Elbe and is able to get the bulk of his force across before being engaged by the Bremen forces. In a pitched battle that see-saws back and forth in the shallow waters, Tonder finally manages to get the horse guard to envelope the enemy and, just like that, the battle is over and the enemy is destroyed.

Tonder is ordered to leave only a covering force in Bremen and to march quickly to Mecklenburg. I don’t want to risk having our only remaining enemy with field forces press us at an inopportune moment so I also order the army that was still marching from Mecklenburg (to offer the support that it turned out that Tonder didn’t need) to reverse directions and march into Vorpommern instead. I can’t bring both armies into the enemy’s territory as there won’t be enough food to feed them all.

Meanwhile, we dismiss offers for peace that are pouring in almost daily from various nations. Most are insulting, and the others would be premature to agree to at this juncture.

By the end of October, our forces have Vorpommern under siege and Aarhus, the leader of the latest band of recruits, is beginning the march to resume the siege of Holstein. I am becoming concerned as winter is only just around the corner.

On November 9th I receive a private message from the scout. He has located Johann III and is asking for instructions. I tell him to capture him alive and bring him to me – we are related after all. The following day, the defeated monarch formally agrees to our annexation of his lands and agrees to permanent house arrest.

Perhaps I should have had him killed, but I cannot bring myself to do this at the present. The down side with this decision is that there is still a strong sense of nationalism in Mecklenburg province, and I imagine the risk of socially- or politically-motivated uprisings will last for some considerable time. The up side? We are now in possession of the trade centre and will see a benefit come year-end; and Mecklenburg’s principal trade good is naval supplies which will help to reduce our naval maintenance expenditures greatly.

While leaving part of Tonder’s force in Mecklendburg to quell any revolts, I instruct him to cross the Elbe once more with 7000 men and lay siege to the Bremen capital. He has that weary look in his eyes, but complies none the less. His force arrives there on December 1st, only two weeks after Aarhus had re-instituted the siege of Holstein.

And so here I sit; and as I hear the chimes in the tower I know that, by and large, this first year of my new initiative has been a success.
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Erik VII - Part IV

Originally posted by MrT

Once again, the time has seemed to flow by so swiftly that there had been little opportunity to pause and think. Little time until now, at least. It is new year’s day 1422, and I should set down in writing the events of the last two years. Let’s see; when I last left off Holstein, Bremmen and Vorpommern were under siege, Mecklenburg was ours, and an enemy army lay in wait on the other side of the Oder.

In January of 1420 I dispatched a couple of merchants to our trade centre to add to our base there. Over the last two years I have done so as often as I could; at first to our own centre until it could accommodate no more, and then further a field. Novgorod, Venuto, and so on. There are many centres in Europe, but the competition is stiff and we have only a limited number of merchants willing to make these attempts every year. Those that do, though, require little money as an incentive and go off to do…whatever it is they do…and on occasion they actually succeed.

With a harsh winter in Holstein threatening our siege force, I ordered 3,000 more men from my friendly recruiter in Jylland. I didn’t expect to be able to give him as much business that year as the last, but it was worth keeping him busy. Fortunately spring came early, in February, but when the men were ready, they were sent to Holstein to assist anyway.

Finally, on March 2nd, Tonder’s force in Bremen managed to tunnel under a wall and take the city by surprise. Even so, Johann II escaped our men and Tonder could find nobody who would accept our diplomat’s demands for their immediate surrender and annexation.

Another round of peace negotiations rolls around during the remainder of the month, and we finally accede to the Teutonic Order’s offer of a white peace, thinking that their allies would shudder at their withdrawal and be more willing to accept our terms. Similarly, on April 16th where we had still made no diplomatic inroads, we agreed to Prussia’s identical offer.

In the meantime we sent forces forward to either replenish the losses to our siege force in Vorpommern, or to sit in nearby Mecklenburg – ready at a moment’s notice to move forward should our scouts report signs of the Pommern army advancing towards the Oder.

Finally, on April 16th of that year, Holstein falls to our forces and a day later we have the very public execution of Heinrich IV. Holstein now becomes a Danish province, and our supply of fish exports practically doubles overnight. We also gain two war ships and one transport that had been holed up in their port. The fighting vessels we assign to Svendborg, the other we send to København to join the rest.

One of our diplomats warns me that we have a rather bad reputation at the moment and should exercise some caution in our future actions. I agree to keep this in mind for the future. Meanwhile, I have a war to fight.

It is still too soon to march on Hinterpommern as we will probably lose as many to forage and attrition as we would to the enemy. The various armies are assembled in Mecklenburg and told to wait. This is fortunate as in August some 10,000 peasants organize themselves into a mass that must be put down by arms. This takes three days.

A few days later a strange ambassador arrived at our court requesting an audience. He said he had been sent from Cologne to offer us a white peace. He must have seen my dumbfounded expression as I clearly had no idea that we had even been at war. It turned out that his ruler, I believe the king’s name was Dietrich von Mörs or something, had entered into our enemy’s alliance at some point in the past months and had therefore found himself being forced to declare war on us as a result. I explained that I hadn’t received their declaration, but would certainly be wiling to accept their offer of peace as there were a number of intervening countries that would prevent either of us from acting against the other.

Finally on August 5th we managed to find someone in Bremen who would talk to our diplomat and had some sense. We explained that we intended to annex them. Period. He nodded. We annexed, and gained a very highly populated fish-producing province. We also added to our fleet with yet another warship and transport that were similarly appointed. Because the Bremen had been fairly well led for a long time, the sense of national pride was still strong with these people. I felt it best to dispatch a force to stand watch in case of rebellion. I was also becoming a little nervous at the ten- and twelve-thousand-strong armies that were sitting immediately to the south.

Of course all of this time our Kalmar Union allies were busily fighting with Novgorod. Their losses must have been astronomical, as the winter saw several of their forces vanish completely. I had brushed aside many of the enemy’s diplomats and saw no reason not to do so again as summer crept into autumn and still the siege of Vorpommern continued. After all, if the war lasted long enough then I might be able to avail myself of some of their territories as well. I was leery, however, of sending forces there now whiel a nearer enemy still stood untested; and I had no doubt that the extra weight of my armies might force Novgorod into a hasty surrender to Sweden which would net us nothing, and cost us many valuable lives. No, I would let my allies continue to waste their efforts for a while longer.

Finally, after about of year of careful siege-work, Vorpommern fell on the 28th of September, 1420. This had the side benefit of forcing the small fleet out to sea where Svendborg rapidly engaged and destroyed it. Meanwhile some of the reserve army was sent forward to prepare for the push on to the Pommern capital. Our spies reported that the enemy was now recruiting in that province, and this heightened the urgency that we engage whatever forces were already there.

Hoping that winter would be mild and start later than normal, on November 22nd I ordered Christiansen to march on Hinterpommeran with 12434 foot and 6583 horse. Not only did they have to cross the Oder, but our scouts had also reported some 11,800 soldiers waiting on the other side to engage us. Perhaps this was a foolish order, but it turned out just fine – barely.

Christiansen began the struggle for the east bank of the Oder on December 22nd, and finally managed to put the enemy to flight on the 30th after a week of very bloody fighting for both sides. Having no where else to go, the fleeing 5000 or so had to swim the Oder to our now-controlled territory. Sensing this, I ordered about 4000 healthy soldiers to “greet them on the other side”.

In early January, a Novgorod warship that had managed to slip through the Swedish and Norwegian patrols was astutely spotted by a captain in The Sound and quickly destroyed by our navy. Over the course of the next few months we managed to spot and sink several more vessels that flew either the flag of Novgorod or the Pommern colours.

At land, the enemy army was once again engaged as their stragglers arrived in Vorpommern. The survivors of this battle turned once more towards towards Hinterpommern. At the same time, the recruiting efforts of the Pommern army materialized – a full 8000 horse. While we were able to defeat this force, I was nervious about the casualties we were sustaining, and our morale was low. I ordered some recruits to be found in Mecklenburg, and moved some of the other forces forward.

In battle after battle, or should I say rout after rout, the two remnants of the enemy military bounced back and for across the Oder, taking casualties at every turn and gradually growing smaller and smaller. To be honest, I would have loved to be able to move a large force forward to put them out of their misery, but I had already been forced to put down to more sizable revolts – one in Mecklenburg and one in Bremen. This left us with few spare men, and would have put our hold of these new territories in peril. Eventually, though, they were all hunted down and killed.

The Pommern city was practically impregnable and we were forced to just sit there abd try to starve them out. Our funds were low, and I’m not sure why it never occurred to me to request war taxes, but it just didn’t. Instead, we watched and waited.

We received word from Sweden that they had successfully negotiated a peace treaty with Novgorod on August 17th. Our share of the 3,600 marks seemed like both a lot and a little. A lot, as we had actually done virtually nothing other than sink a couple of ships that had strayed into our sights. Very little, in that Sweden could surely have done better than that. Oh well. That was one war over with.

Miracle of miracles, on December 30th, 1421 the besieged city fell and Kazimierz V is captured almost immediately. Keeping in mind our rather bad reputation, I offer to not only let him live but to re-install him on Pommern’s thrown as a vassal. I also demand 15,000 marks from his treasury. Seeing no real alternative, Kazimierz V agrees.

And, just like that, we’re at peace for the first time in more than two and a half years.

1422_01_01_ally.jpg


Our diplomatic situation, including vassals
January 1st, 1422


1422_01_01_polit.jpg


Denmark and surrounding countries.
January 1st, 1422
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Erik VII - Part V

Originally posted by MrT

Now having come to peace, you would think that things might settle down and I would be able to focus all of my attention on the next great conquest. To be honest, I did indeed have rash ideas of finding an excuse to go after some of my new southern neighbours, or to go and begin a war with England or Scotland or Ireland or some combination of these. Unfortunately, there were a few things that prevented me from acting on these plans.

I have mentioned that our diplomatic corps was discovering a distinct dislike towards us among the rest of the European community. Even our vassal, Norway, was having serious misgivings about our dealings. Sweden was grumpy, and just about everyone else was downright hostile. Initiating more wars, too soon, would very likely bring down on our heads the entire combined might of Christendom. Now I suppose it could be argued that we would have survived this as a people, but we would have seen a crushing blow to national pride and our economy; and no doubt our newly acquired territories would fall into enemy hands.

It was all speculation really. The biggest problem, after the war was over, was that we only had about twenty-five or thirty thousand men in the field, and our treasury was fairly low – certainly not enough to build up the number of forces we would need if we began to covet, say, the lowlands of England (that is where my dear wife Philippa is from, incidentally). We needed cash and troops. And in fact, this had been the very reason that we had gone to war in 1419. More cash. Well, now it was time to start raking some in.

The cash shortage proved to be fortuitous. I was determined by the middle of the decade – say 1425 or 1426 – to be ready to strike out at a new opponent. This gave me three years to get things all nicely arranged; to build up the army, and to find some lovely pretext to go to war. A border dispute, and unintended slip of the tongue, anything like that which would give us an excuse to get nasty. Until then I would sit tight, spend as little as possible, send merchants out to the wealthiest centres of trade, and generally make it look like I was trying to keep my nose clean.

Now I said this was fortuitous. Why? Because I found out the hard way just how strong the nationalistic determination of the peoples of Mecklenburg really was (or is). My people in the administration down there had been assuring me that the risk of an actual uprising was quite remote. In far Gerhart, the bailiff down there, had sent me his personal appraisal of the situation, and I had been so impressed by his thoroughness that I sent him 5,000 ducats to begin setting up a tax collection system that would be more efficient. It was small satisfaction that when, a few months later, about 12,000 locals took up arms, stormed the city, and strung the bastard up by his own entrails.

Fortunately our standing army there had not yet been recalled to the capital and they quelled the riot in a matter of days. They took some pretty heavy casualties, though, and I was forced to spend more of my ever-diminishing treasury just to bring it back up to a strength that could handle any future such revolts. It took them many months more to regain control of the city, and when they did there was a second uprising of nearly identical proportions, however our veterans were able quell this one before it reached the city gates.

In nearby Bremen, the populace saw what was going on next door and decided to stage an uprising of its own. Again, the army was able to prevent much damage being done; and again this was at some considerable loss of life. This taught me two valuable lessons: never trust reports from your administrators, and never fail to have a strong standing army in the province to deal with the troubles instantly.

I would probably not be exaggerating – or if so, it’s only slightly – if I reported that both of these provinces have had the audacity to attempt uprisings just about every year or two in the past eleven or twelve years. Of course it has begun to diminish somewhat, but I must still maintain at least 15,000 soldiers in each province to assist the local authorities in maintaining order. Curiously though, Holstein has never exhibited any such tendencies. I’m not sure if that’s because there never was any sense of nationalism there, or if it relates to some unknown (to me at least) historical action by which they should feel so well-disposed towards being part of our nation. Whichever it is, it is a comfort to know that the newly absorbed province settled almost immediately into being a productive part of the realm.

Effectively, then, I found myself without an army. Practically every available man was needed merely to hold on to what we had, and they certainly weren’t going to be able to march off to England or wherever and leave our provinces unguarded against internal strife. I revised my estimate of when I’d be ready for the next phase, and the new estimate didn’t look very promising. I’d be an old man before I was set to act, for the spirit of nationalism takes generations to subside, and my coffers badly needed replenishing before I could raise and army of the sort of proportions required to engage yet another country.

Rather than being dispirited about this, I began to look for new ways to enlarge and stabilize my realm. I was quite concerned about the possibility that Sweden might decide to opt out of the Kalmar Union – after all they were being very belligerent towards our overtures. To reduce this possibility somewhat, I sent a personal gift to the Unionsräd of some 3,500 marks which seemed to reduce their resentment somewhat. I also penned a letter to Sigurd in Norway assuring him of my intentions which my sister reported as getting a somewhat lukewarm reception.

Over the course of the next decade or so, I gradually sent various expensive artifacts or even cash gifts to both Sweden and Pommern, and continued to try to reassure Sigurd. And over time, these countries began to hold us in ever-higher regard.

You might well ask why I took things to this extreme. To be honest, there were two overriding reasons: I hoped to ensure that they would come to our aid if some other nation decided that I was a little to “acquisitive” and wished to put me in my place; and in the back of my mind I held the idea that there might come a day when one or more of these nations might decide to actually merge with us to make a greater Denmark. It is, of course, quite unlikely that I will live to see such a day, but it is a goal I feel is worth striving towards.

Other things I should record about the 1420’s? Well it is worthwhile noting that as the level of foreign trade competition rose, I managed to convince the Danehof to enact a new series of tariff laws that will allow us to compete better and will end up costing us somewhat less to fund each new merchant’s venture. The down side of these new laws, unfortunately, is that there will be less incentive for new merchants to solicit us to fund their efforts – something I hadn’t thought of at the time.

Ah. Another rather interesting bit of fortuitousness: in July of 1425 there was a very large, bright object spotted in the night sky. It moved at an incredible rate, leaving a trail of flame behind it. The peasants were terribly concerned that this signaled the end of the world – Armageddon and all that – and became somewhat more fearful. This was short-lived and ended up amounting to nothing since the population had been at a peak of happiness prior to the event and the slight dip did not even really make an impression. If we had been at war…well, the consequences would surely have been dire indeed.

What else? In January 1426 our mariners reported seeing a very strange looking vessel in The Sound. They described it as having white silk sails and the prow of the boat was styled in the shape of a dragon of fearsome countenance. As if this wasn’t unbelievable enough, they went on to say that the crew of the vessel had been somewhat short, had a yellowish complexion, and had very narrow unnatural eyes. Upon hearing the recounting of this…apparition…I ordered the rum supplies cut in half in the fleet. There is no place for extreme drunkenness in my navy.

At any rate, as the end of the decade approached I was encouraged by some of the advances we had made in both our internal infrastructure and our approach to trade. Both seemed to be humming along a little more smoothly.

Now I should tell you of one of the more momentous events of the decade. It all began back in 1423, really. I wrote earlier about the level for foreign trade competition rising and the new tariffs we enacted. Perhaps it was even this that contributed to our subsequent advances in the craft. Well, in 1427 I guess Bohemia finally decided that a little retribution was in order, and began harassing our merchants there. While I did contemplate disputing their efforts in international court, I ended up opting to resolve this situation diplomatically, but I’m not sure that we got the better part of the bargain. They liked us a bit more – or perhaps I should say they despised us a bit less for a while – but it did get me to thinking about trade in general, and about the vast trade traffic passing through The Sound on an almost daily basis.

Well, I wondered, why is it that all of these riches are flowing to and fro through our national waters and we don’t see a skilling for it? In all honesty of course we did see a skilling (many in fact) for it because Mecklenburg, the main center of trade in the Baltic, belonged to us. Nevertheless, there were goods destined for other lands and other peoples and they had to pass through our national waters to get there. In fact, through our very well defended national waters. Through the very narrow straits of The Sound…

On July 18th, 1429 I issue orders to our navy. From now on, every vessel that enters The Sound must anchor off Helsinger and pay due to the crown of Denmark for keeping the waters safe for their traffic. If the vessel fails to comply, it is to be boarded or sunk. I call this, imaginatively, “The Sound Due”

Well, you can imagine some of the outcome from my new edict. The revenues in Sjælland soared practically overnight. It also meant that just about every nation that did regular traffic through The Sound is now somewhat pissed of with us. This includes, most importantly, England, France, Sweden, Pommern and the knights of the Teutonic Order. The increased income is certainly useful, and it more than paid for the cost of the gifts I have been forced to send to Sweden and Pommern to undo some of this damage.

Also this seemed to cause quite a stir among even our own merchants as they expressed, in no uncertain terms, just how unhappy they were by looting one of our trade research centres on October 6th.

And so things were chugging along nicely, the money starting to roll in a bit and my gradual efforts to pacify my vassals were beginning to show results. In fact, in December of the same year, Sweden declared was on Novgorod again and invited Norway and I to join in.

Now even by this time I really didn’t have an army to speak of that I could risk sending anywhere unless I was willing to risk losing Bremen or Mecklenburg to rebellion. Nevertheless I certainly didn’t want to risk alienating my vassals or dissolving our alliance so I sent word off to the Unionsräd that we would, of course, valiantly stand by our dear friends. Norway said much the same.

And then the light dawned. Since we were now at war, I could justify raising war taxes. So I did. This unsettled the populace a bit, but not dangerously so, and a few days later when the annual tithes were collected our coffers were practically overflowing with marks. Rather than spend this on raising a large number of troops to go and die through attrition in Novgorod, I began publically stating that we were “doing our bit” in the war, and sent a few more personal gifts of varying amounts to our vassals.

A couple of months later, in the spring of 1430, I was interested to hear that Poland (and her ally Lithuania) had declared war on my vassal Pommern. Naturally Prussia and the Teutonic Order rushed to Pommern’s aide, as well as three of the new members of their alliance; Cologne, Hesse and Milan. This, I thought, could get interesting. I watched the proceedings with great interest and noticed that in spite of a few early gains, Poland was being pushed back nicely by late summer. I had no idea how things were going between Lithuania and the knights, but I did here reports of several cities being sacked.

In the fall of 1430, an ambassador from Portugal – that’s a country a long way to the south of us – asked us if we’d be interested in entering into a trade agreement with them. Since we had recently been losing ground in our efforts to establish mercantile exchanges in several more remote centers of trade where Portugal was quite active, I readily agreed.

Just before the end of the year, I ordered war taxes to be raised again. The public was a little puzzled by the need to do so, given that we had yet to move even a single soldier, let alone an army in that direction; but they did pay. Handsomely. The initial disgruntlement gave way to overall happiness once again the following May when I leaked a document detailing our plans for a grand invasion in support of the Swedish war effort. I followed that up with yet another gift to the Unionsräd and the combined effect was that my people were happier with me, and the Swedes were practically gushing with delight.

My letters to my Norwegian counterpart also had their desired effect as one my diplomats stated “I really don’t believe they could possibly like us any better than they do now.” Ah. Well, in time they may come to love us even more, by becoming part of us. But not yet…it is too soon to even think of asking them. In keeping with our policy, we continued with letters to Pommern and Sweden to continue wooing them.

In September of 1431 I received good news from Bremen. Apparently a large forest fire had inadvertently cleared some particularly choice land, and as a result a number of new families - perhaps 5000 new citizens in all - had established agricultural estates in the area and I was told to expect somewhat higher tax revenues and recruiting potential as a result.

I was able to take advantage of raising war taxes once more before the conflict between our allies and Novgorod came to its inevitable conclusion. Sweden and Norway had lost many men over the course of several harsh northern winters but Sweden managed to wrest Ingermanland from Novgorod and laid claim to this province as well as demanding military access for the future. This treaty was signed on November 11th, 1432…just before I would have raised war taxes again. Oh well.

I should also mention that I have been nervous about reports of some of our neighbours having achieved a slightly higher degree of military prowess than we have – particularly on land. I worry that our research allocations are lagging behind and just this spring I went to visit the people who are in charge of this branch of the military. They were surprised to hear that non of their proposed reforms had been adopted or incorporated into our army or navy. I was surprised to hear that there had been any. Apparently just some “minor” communication glitch – easily resolved. Thus in March 1433 our navy became just a little bit better, and then by May, our army. These changes reflect an improved capability that keeps us on par with the rest of the European community.

Now, as the winter began to set in, I contemplated changing some aspects of the Danehof, to make it slightly less regional and more centralized. I put this to some of my closer friends there, and they said that it might be something they could manage to get a majority vote on. I asked them to give it a try, and they did. I suspect that this will move our research along a little faster and may increase our production efficiency a little as well.

Unfortunately, to make these changes they had to agree to a few stupid things as well, things which will set our infrastructure and trade capacities back for a while and cause additional unrest in the general public. For the first time in my reign, the public is really not happy – though they are not particularly unhappy.

I brood on this as I wait for 1434 to roll around. Not that I have any particular plans for the year. Just that this is where I happened to find the time to write once more. Perhaps I will be able to do so another time before I move on to other things.

By my hand this 30th day of December, 1433.

Erik VII, rex.
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Erik VII - Part VI

Originally posted by MrT

This shall be the last writing my hand will ever do. I grow weary of being King. I grow weary of the inactivity, the need to mind my P’s and Q’s because of some stupid possible international reaction. I bridle with the desire to not have to manage a country’s economy, or it army. All I really want is a ship I can call my own, a crew of faithful lads, and enough gunpowder to blast a hole through the side of a ship.

I guess, then, that I should put down an account of my final seven years on the throne before I hang up my crown and don the pirate’s cap.

I sent a few more letters in 1434, and a large personal gift to Pommern that helped quite a bit. It was a little joke actually, a bronze statue of my father riding a horse in a victory salute. If I neglected to mention it earlier, my father was the King of Pommern, so of course this offering could be taken as a token of my esteem for their once-beloved king. Of course it could also reflect the fact that one of his sons now, in victory, has made Pommern his vassal. As I say, it’s my own perverse little private joke and I don’t expect many to understand it.

Where was I. Right. 1434. Well the rest of the year seemed to pass along without anything of note with, perhaps, one minor exception. But I have to give you a little background first.

One thing I have to do occasionally is appoint new sheriffs to “police”, as it were, the provinces of my vassal states. I do this on a fairly regular basis now given the number of different provinces there are in Norway, Sweden and Pommern. At any rate, one of the guys that I had appointed was a nobleman by the name of Jösse Erikson, and his assignment was to be sheriff of Bergslagen, a province in Sweden. Now, to be perfectly honest, Jösse was a bit of an asshole. He took what he liked, where he liked, whenever he liked. And this “thievery” (I call it such in that precious little of the alleged goods made it into my coffers) extended beyond the appropriation of material goods, for Jösse had a bit of a thing for women…other men’s women.

Now I can understand that the people of Bergslagen were quite put out by his behaviour, and in fact I must confess that I was unaware of just how deeply disturbed Jösse really was. Well all of this was set straight when a delegation from this province arrived at my court on December 5th, 1434. The leader of this party was a man by the name of Engelbrekt and his mission was to make me understand just how bad things were and to request that I appoint someone new.

Now it takes a lot of nerve to travel a great distance to essentially insult a foreign ruler who happens to hold your life in his hands because he happens to be the man who appoints the person who can either make your life tolerable or downright miserable. I had to admire the Swede for that, so I was inclined to make some sort of change just to make him feel like he’d accomplished something.

Now here was a quandary. There were two guys available that I could think of immediately: Hans von Eberstein had been pestering me for an appointment for a donkey’s age; but he was an equally odious man as Jösse so I suspected that by appointing him as the new sheriff of Bergslagen I was virtually guaranteeing that the province would rise up in rebellion. On the other hand, he wielded a certain amount of power here at court, so sending him off to such a remote place might have the side benefit of improving our own centralization. He was worth considering.

Johann auf Lenientia was my other option. He was a fair man, perhaps a little lenient but capable nonetheless. I was quite sure that he would be a replacement that would placate the people of Bergslagen but it would probably cost me about 10,000 marks to convince him to move and it would take him out of my local fold of friendly people, resulting in a slight decentralizing shift in our domestic policy. Worse, Johann was a particular favourite at court and his posting to such a remote location would surely outrage the public.

This was a tricky decision that I could afford to let go either way. The real clincher, though, was my sudden realization as to how the Unionsräd would react to Hans von Eberstein’s appointment. They’d be absolutely livid! And this would undo all the careful diplomacy and erase the value of tens of thousands of marks worth of gifts over the past years.

No, I decided, Hans would be a bad move no matter how much the short-term gain might entice me. I looked up from my contemplation and informed Engelbrekt that I would, indeed be appointing a new sheriff, and that his name would be Johann.

Now I have to credit the piety of our people that this news didn’t spark off a series of revolts, since the people were distinctly unhappy with me at the moment. On the other hand, it would only be a few months before the anger had subsided somewhat and within a few years everyone would have forgotten about it.

I sent a few letters the following year to the Unionsräd to explain what had happened and how I had resolved things. I took great pains to make them understand how I was suffering somewhat in order to have made their lives easier. I got the sense that these were well received and I was pleasantly surprised that a few of my own nobles got together and not only gave me the 10,000 marks it had cost me to con Johann into going, but also another 10,000 marks to help defray the cost of some of these letters and gifts I was sending. I thanked them most graciously.

In the later part of the 30’s I noticed several of our neighbors (Hanover, Saxony) beginning construction of some rather impressive upgrades to their fortresses. These changes allowed the garrison size to be doubled and the overall strength of the fortifications seemed considerably better than ours. I went and spoke to our own military engineers who assured me that they could do a similar job, but that the cost to upgrade even one of my cities would be 20,400 marks. Now as it happens, I had enough money in the treasury to do this for one city and still have a respectable amount left over, so I ordered construction of an upgraded fortress in Mecklenburg to secure it against possible future attacks.

Well of course the damn nationalistic bastards took this as a sign of further oppression and almost immediately revolted in force. My army was able to put the revolt down, but we lost nearly 6500 men in a week of very bloody fighting. A couple months later, Brenen is at it too. No way to just leave the armies like that, so I have to spend almost 15,000 marks just to bring them back to a healthy enough strength to deal with possible future rebellions, and my treasury is almost wiped out again.

Finally, in February of this year, the 22nd to be precise, I receive word that Poland has declared war on Pommern again. Lithuania, needless to say, is also tagging along…probably looking forward to another opportunity to get it’s butt kicked by the knights of the Teutonic Order who have sided with their ally. Prussia will also be helping Pommern, but I was surprised to learn that Milan, Cologne and Hesse have dishonored their alliance and refuse to come to their aid.

The Polish army marched forward…again…just like it did the last time.

And frankly, I am sick of this. Sick of seeing these warring nations bouncing back and forth. Sick of putting down the seemingly endless revolts in Brenen and Mecklenburg. Sick of the pissy nobility that ties my hands at practically every turn. Sick of shelling out hundreds and thousands of marks to maintain an army, and a navy. Sick of trying to be nice to the Swedes and the Norwegians. Sick, in fact, of my own pathetic, backwards people. I’ll never get rich this way.

Well. I’m going now. I’m going to set myself up as a pirate, and god help you all if you should cross my path any time in the future, for I will eat your men alive.

Last act, by my hand, April 10, 1440

Erik VII, rex no longer.

1440_04_11_ally.jpg


Our diplomatic situation, including vassals
April 11th, 1440


1440_04_11_relig.jpg


The religious state of Europe.
April 11th, 1440


1440_04_11_trade.jpg


The trade centres of Europe,
April 11th, 1440


Christoffer shall now rule, but that is another tale, and for another pen.

[And with that I don my best black hat, hoist the skull and crossbones, start thinking about how to kick some serious Wlak, and wonder how to best prepare a Yak]
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

Prologue

April 11, 1440: Copenhagen, Denmark



There was a large crowd gathered on the docks: peasants, nobles, merchants and travellers. They watched a lone ship slip gently away toward the horizon, wind catching the white and red striped canvas sail, causing it to strongly billow in proud defiance.

The mood on the wharves was jocular, festive, and dare we say, even party like. Food stalls opened and wine kegs were tapped as the citizens of the fair city broke into a frenzy of celebration the like of which had never been witnessed 'ere mow.

Into the swelling press of people strode King Christoffer III of Bavaria, newly crowned and rather pleased at the reception he was accorded by the population. Though surrounded by a heavily armed escort, the odd toothless crone managed to shove a wine sack at him, or a rancid looking piece of meat on a stick. At one point he accepted a proffered stick of flesh and looked at it with barely concealed distaste.

"What in God's name is this?" he asked the Captain of the Guard.

The soldier, a grizzled veteran of many wars in Holstein and Mecklenburg, barely glanced at it. "It's Wlak, sire. Long-strided by the look of it. See the gristle? I wouldn't touch it if I were you. Only good enough for mercenaries, it is. You be wantin' the short-strided Wlak. Far better taste to it. Adds inches to your dick, it does." He leaned in close, as if confiding in a secret, "O' course it's hard to find the short strided stuff, and it takes a rare hand to cook it. Fact is, there's only one man I knows that can do it proper, and he's down near Tours, in France. Georges be his name, sire. Shall I send a rider for him?"

King Christoffer II carelessly tossed the meat behind him, and didn't notice the mad scramble of poor and crippled that dove for it. Behind him one of his guards crack, "Bloody peasants."

The King stopped in the press of people and took in the massive reverie. "This bodes well. The King is pleased. It is good to know the people love the King so dearly."

The Captain of the Guard coughed, "If it pleases your highness, I believe they are celebrating yon departing ship."

The King moved to the edge of the dock. He watched the sail slowly disappear over the horizon. With face turning red he asked, "Who is it that they celebrate?"

"Why, your predecessor, your Highness. He has given up the crown to become a pirate."

"A pirate?"

"A pirate."

"And the people rejoice over the fact their ex-King has become a pirate? More than they rejoice over me, their new King?" Christoffer III began to pull at the neck of his collar. "Are you saying that I get no respect? What kind of morons are these people?"

"Er... they're your morons, sire... it's just that Erik was very popular with the masses, your omnipotence."

"I see. Popular was he? Tell me, is there a bounty on his head?"

"Of course not sire! He's just starting out, and the people love him."

"Well there is now. We'll see how much love 200 marks for his head will bring!" He swung about, his regal robe swirling majestically. "I'll give these peasants something to cheer about. Now take me back to the palace. I wish to talk to the Treasurer and the Ambassador General. It's time to see what kind of country I was left to govern."
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

April 18, 1440: Copenhagen, Denmark


"Tighter! Pull the damned thing tighter! I don't want to attend this ball with my gut hanging out"

"Well, your majesty, perhaps if you would suck your gut in. Thankyou, sire, that is most helpful. Just a couple more tugs on the lacings."

"Arrgghh!"

"Sorry, sire. There we go. Now you look every bit the King."

"Of course I don't, you moron! I'm standing here in a corset! You expect me to greet all the diplomats of the world in a bloody corset? Dress me, then I'll look like a King."

"Of course, your Highness. Would you like the purple with the white trim, or the green number wth the brown and black... or perhaps..."

"I'll take that one. No, that one... ah hell... let's go purple. With so many dignitaries I want to look my regal best. You! Yeah you! The guy exploring his nose, what's you name?"

"Knud, sire."

"Well Knud, have the foreign guests arrived?"

"Yes sire. The Swedes, and the Norwegions, but..."

"Of course I expect the Swedes and the Norwegions to be here, you wlak. It's all the other diplomats that I wish to mingle with." Christoffer tossed his head back. "After all, this is my first function as King, and I want everything to be oh so perfect. Shit! The crown's too loose! I thought I asked the 'Royal Smith' to fix this! I can't meet all these people with the crown of Denmark sitting on the bridge of my nose!"

"You could carry it, your Highness... you know, under your arm..."

"What crap you feeding me? I expect better advice from my Seneschal than to 'carry it under my arm'! You! The one who's face looks like a squid's ass! What's your name?"

"Knute, your Highness."

"What do you know of the army and navy that I inherited?"

Knute cleared his throat. "Colonel Christiansen resides in Bremen with 11,000 infantry and 8,600 cavalry. Colonel Holstein is stationed in Mecklenburg with 13,000 infantry and 6,500 cavalry, while Commodore Aarhus returns from The Sund with our fleet of 32 warships. Commodore Lingby commands 19 transports in Sjaelland."

King Christoffer II beamed. "Well done. Doesn't matter how ugly you look, you're promoted. Now, let's see to our guests. I'm eager to meet every last one of them."

The King strode confidently through the massive halls, nodding sagely to the nobles and their ladies as he passed. Behind him his courtiers followed, tittering away in hushed voices. Finally he reached the huge double doors of the ballroom, and waved at the doormen to let him past.

"I am here, most honoured guests! Please don't rush me all at once...." His voice trailed off.

Standing in the center of the massive ballroom were two figures, tiny and lost in the vast cavernlike expanses of the elaborately designed entertainment area. They looked over to the King and waved.

"What insolence is this!?" Christoffer roared.

The Seneschal coughed politely. "That's what I've been trying to tell you, your Hugeness. No one likes you." He pointed at the two tiny figures, who waved again. "Except them."

"What do you mean 'no one likes me'? I've just become King! They don't even know me!"

"If it pleases your grace, it may have something to do with the taking of Bremen, Mecklenburg and Holstein by your predecessor."

"My predecessor? You mean the pirate?"

"The very one. We could always return those three possessions."

"Fat chance of that. Raise the bounty on that wannabe pirate's head. Now, who are those two pop-in-jays over there?"

"The Norwegian Ambassador is named Kentt Nilsson, and the man beside him is the Swedish Ambassador Bjorn Salming."

King Christoffer sighed. "Why me? Very well. Maybe a little annexation is in order. Let's go meet those two throwbacks. Thank God their countries are to the north of us, and out of the way. As least they can't do something stupid."

* * *

On June 18, 1440 Sweden declared war on the Teutonic Order and her allies Prussia and Pommern. Norway eagerly honoured the alliance, joined later by a thoroughly pissed King Christoffer III. His plans to annex Sweden would have to wait.

To be continued...
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

June 19, 1440: Copenhagen, Denmark


"Imbeciles! Ingrates! Morons! Don't they know that annexation is good for them?" King Christoffer threw his arms up in frustration. The King and his Seneschal, flanked by an escort of men-at-arms, walked with a purpose toward the dock area of Copenhagen.

"Not sure if they do, sire," the Seneschal replied, struggling to keep a respectable distance, yet trying to make himself heard over the noise of the city. "However, it's a moot point, your Largeness, seeing we have joined the fight against the Teutonic Order and her allies."

"What in blazes are you? My conscience? Obviously the Swedes don't know what's good for them, whereas I do! Wasn't that letter we sent good enough?"

"It was a splendid letter sire, very flowery, with all the right adjectives, but you can't expect a single letter to convince them that Danish overlordship is a ticket to paradise."

"I'll show them something about paradise... ahh, here we are." The party stopped at the dock entrance. Before them lay the total might of the Danish navy. 32 warships rocked gently to and fro in the calm harbour, while a collection of sailors milled about the wharf.

"So this is my fleet, is it?"

"Yes sire. Pretty, don't you think?"

"Shut up. Where's Commodore Aarhus?"

"Over there, your Immenseness. By the flagship."

The Royal party strode over, and the sailors turned to face the King. As Christoffer III drew closer, his mood darkened. "You! Yeah you! The one that looks like a snail's genitals. Wheres Commodore Aarhus?"

"You're talking to him, your Highness."

"Oh. Who are all these toothless old farts?"

"They're my men, sire."

"Shouldn't they be six feet under by now? And what's with these so-called warships? Look at them! The sails are torn, the wood looks rotted, and the tits on the figure-head of the flagship have fallen off! You call this a fleet?"

"Cost cutting, your Highness. Your predecessor felt we would be effective at reduced maintenance, sire."

"My predecessor? Not him again! Seneschal, raise the bounty!" Christoffer III scratched his belly. "You have heard that we are at war, Aarhus? What will it take to bring this fleet up to fighting trim?"

"Money."

"Christ! I'm surrounded by comedians."

* * *

After making the neccessary monetary promises to the Commodore, bringing fleet maintenance spending back to 100%, the Royal party met with Knewt & Son to secure a loan of 200,000 marks.

On their way back to the palace the King said, "Fleet, check. Money, check. What am I missing?"

"Er, the men, your Girthness. Shouldn't you give them orders? And how about recruits. We will require more soldiers."

"Do I look stupid? Of course we have to give the men orders. I was just testing you! Ok. The guy in Bremen..."

"That would be Colonel Christiansen..."

"I know that, you moron! Colonel Christmas will march to Mecklenberg and link his army with..."

"Holstein, sire, but I'm sure you already knew that."

"You pushing my buttons, Seneschal? When Christmas and Jersey join forces that will give us an army of... let's see... carry the three..."

"24,500 infantry and 15,000 cavalry, your Monstrosity."

"Exactly what I was going to say. Now, when they join, we should send them to..."

"Vorpommern, sire. It would make sense to fight the enemy closest to our borders, sire."

"Of course it would make sense! Do I look like I was born yesterday?"

"Far from it, your Plumpness."

"Good. Now that I've planned our course of action, I've found that I've built something of an appetite."

"The recruits, your Loftiness."

"Eh?"

"The recruits. You mentioned recruiting more soldiers. I would be in dereliction of my duty if I did not remind you."

"You are pushing my buttons, aren't you? Of course we need men. I think we should raise... hmmmm... perhaps... naw.... hmmm..."

"Might I suggest 5,000 infantry in Bremen and a further 5,000 infantry in Mecklenburg?"

"Suggest all you want, your advice is all but useless to me. Let's see, let's go with 5,000 infantry in Bremen and a further 5,000 infantry in Mecklenburg."

"As you wish, my Lord."

"Honestly, Seneschal, you're as useless as tits on a bull. I don't know why I keep you around."

"For amusement, your Ampleness?"
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

December 6, 1441: Copenhagen, Denmark


The small gathering of Ministers and lackeys to the King stood solemnly outside the Royal Water Closet, eyeballing each other mournfully, waiting for the first to make a move.

"It's your turn," the Minister of War said, pointing to the Minister of Trade. The small man shook his head vehemently. "Well then, how about you?" The Minster of Internal Affairs turned white.

The Minister of Peasant Affairs jerked his head at an old, frail, bone thin man standing by himself in the corner. "Let's give it to the Royal Butt Scrubber."

All eyes turned to the white haired, toothless man sporting one-inch thick quartz glasses. He looked up, his mouth working side to side, and put a cone to his ear. "Ehh??"

The anteroom door flew open, and the Seneschal strolled in, an innocent look of greeting on his cherub-like face. "Good morning gentlemen. Why are you all gathered outside the Royal Water Clo...set... Oh no... NO... Not me! No!" His hands went up defensively, and he backed toward the exit, pointing at the wizened old man. "Ask him. It's his turn..."

The Minister of War put on his best diplomatic face. "My friend... no, our friend..." He waved his arms to take in the other Ministers. They all smiled in return, showing feral teeth. "We all know how close you are to his Royal Thighness." He advanced quickly, placing a document in the reluctant Seneschal's hands, then leaned forward to whisper, "Either you take it to him you worthless slug, or I'll rip off your arm and beat you with the wet end."

The Seneschal blanched and swallowed. "Sure, since you put it so nicely..." He took the document and approached the door.

* * *

King Christoffer III shifted on the porcelain seat, raising a meaty cheek. *quaaacckkk!* "Ahhhhh. There's a winner." He glanced at the single page written with large print, clasped in a pudgy hand, for the hundredth time. There was a tentative knock on the door.

"Who is it?"

"It's your Seneschal, your Obeseness. I have rather exciting news."

Christoffer lifted the other cheek. "Eeeennnntttterrrr" *quaaacckkk!* "....ahhhh! There's a beaut!"

The door opened and the diminutive man stepped in, stopping dead. His hand went to his throat as he gasped, eyes bugging and turning opaque. "Holy crap!" he squeaked.

"I have not! Just gas so far. Spicey Wlak Sausages(tm) do it to you every time, you know." He waved the small piece of paper. "Been sitting here since breakfast, and the only reading I've had is this!"

The Seneschal coughed. "What is it, your Foulness?"

"It's called 'The Life and Times of Erik the Pirate. Make a note. The Royal Water Closet requires a decent amount of literature. Now, what do you have for me... hang on..." *quaaacckkk!* "Ahhhhh!! There's a masterpiece!"

"Dear Mother of God..."

"Get a grip man, it's only gas."

"Of course, your Rancidness. Must be the sniffles..." The Seneschal dabbed at his runny eyes. "It's my pleasure to announce that... oh God, I'm dying..."

"See the Royal Physician then, for Christ's sake. You shouldn't be walking in here if you're feeling ill. You wouldn't want your beloved King to catch whatever festering illness you have, would you?"

The Seneschal gagged, took a deep breath and rushed, "OurgloriousarmyhasconqueredtheprovinceofVorpommernyourRanknessmayIgonow?"

"What's your problem? You don't like talking to your King? Now, you say we've conquered Vorpommern? I didn't even know we'd invaded it. When did that happen?"

The Seneschal dropped to his knees, tongue dangling loosely from the side of his slack jaw. "If it pleases my Lord, we invaded them last August. Our brave generals defeated their army and laid siege to Stralsund. Oh Lord have mercy..."

"Hang on..." *quaaacckkk!* "Ahhhhhhh! There's a champion. What was I doing when this happened?"

"Not sure, your Staleness, you could have been devouring babies..."

"Your poor attempts at humour sickens me, Seneschal. I don't eat babies... mind you..." Christoffer tapped his chins. "What else have you not told me?"

"I didn't tell you that in January we raised 5,000 additional infantry in Bremen and Mecklenburg, respectively. Let's see... *gasp*... things are getting dark, need fresh air..." The Seneschal poked his head out the door, his lungs expanding and exhaling. He took a deep breath. "On the 24th of same month the Teutons offered a White Peace, but you declined it."

"I did?"

"Yes, your Rotteness. I have the document at my desk."

"I knew that! What do you take me for, an imbecile? What else?"

"On July 8 the Prussians demanded 25,000 marks from us for peace. You declined it, in your infinite wisdom."

"I did? Oh, I did! Of course I did. Foul Prussians! Is that all?"

"Yes, your Fetidness. Does my Bileness have you any orders for his most humble, near dead servant?"

"Oh stop being so bloody dramatic! Of course I have orders! I need toilet paper, and I need it now." He waved the thin page. "This won't do!"

"I mean the troops, sire. I suggest we order them to Hinterpommern. If we capture it, we can drive them from the war and claim some territory."

"You imbecile! You'll never be a general with obsolete thinking like that! Let's see... I think we should send my men to... ah..."

"Hinterpommern, sire?"

"Yes, Hinterpommern. If we capture it we can drive them from the war, and take their land."

"Very good, sire. Your brilliance boggles me."

"That's because I'm the... hang on..." *quaaacckkk!* "Ahhhh!!!! There's a victor. That's because I'm the King! You, being nothing but a moronic Seneschal can't be expected to think of such profound decisions. In fact, you haven't had a single original thought since I assumed the throne."

"Of course not, your Reekness. I'm merely your whipping boy."

"And don't you forget it! Now get out of here and see the Royal Physician! You look like shit!"
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

April 6, 1442: Hinterpommern


The coach bounced recklessly down the dirt rutted road, the maniacal driver standing, braced against the running board, snapping the reins repeatedly, urging the straining, lathered horses on. Every pothole, every deep groove caused the overstressed coach to bottom out with a groan and screech of pine on rocky ground.

Looming ahead was the army of Denmark, deeply entrenched around the capital city of Hinterpommern, a city that was clearly on its last legs of freedom.

The gaunt, hungry Danish soldiers stared blank eyed at the wildly approaching coach, mumbling quietly as they spied the Royal Danish Crest on the double sided doors of the elaborate vehicle. A pudgy forearm rested on the window ledge, the tiny hand grasping a food stained silk hanky.

The straining transport raced past, to finally clatter to a stop near the command tent of Colonel Christensen and Colonel Holstein. The sight of collapsing horses brought the starving soldiers edging closer, until the two Colonels stepped outside and screamed at the bone thin soldiers to back off.

The coach door flew open and the men gasped as a meaty leg appeared, then another, all attached to the King of Denmark, Christoffer III.

"I'm here, soldier-boys. Your King has come to watch you rugged men do feats of daring. Don't rush me now, I bruise easy."

The coach groaned and sprung high as the King stepped away. A moment later one of the wheels buckled and the vehicle tilted to one side. The King looked back as the Seneschal stepped gingerly from the bowels of the vehicle, taking in great gulps of fresh air.

"Come now, Seneschal, look lively. We're finally here. Tsk. Tsk. Look at the Royal Coach. Yet another broken wheel. That's four sets we've gone through on this trip. I swear, they don't know how to build these things anymore. Tell me Seneschal, why do these men approach me with their tongues hanging like that?"

"Probably to eat you sire."

"Eh?"

"I said, probably to greet you sire. Most of them have never seen a real live King before."

"Oh, well make sure they don't touch me. You two, yeah you! You both look like a pair of pimply buttocks, standing together like that. Where's Colonel Christmas and Colonel Jersey?"

The two officers exchanged looks.

The Seneschal said, "That's Colonel Christensen and Colonel Holstein."

"That's what I said. Where are they?"

"You're talking to them, your Mammothness."

"Of course I am. Tell me, good Colonels, how goes the siege?"

"The siege progresses well, your Blindness. We think they are ready to surrender."

"Did you say surrender, Colonel Christmas?"

"He's Christm... er Christensen."

"I knew that, Jersey. You think your King's a fool?"

"Of course... not, your Obliqueness."

"Good. Now, when do we storm the castle?"

"That won't be necessary, Your Gluttoness, as I said, they are ready to surrender."

"Ahhh?! Not even a tiny little storming of the castle? Just a teensy weensy, little itsy bitsy storming of the castle?"

One of the men pointed. "Colonel! A party approaches under flag of truce!"

"CHARGE!!!"

"Sire! Stop that! Here, I saved you a leg of reindeer."

"Oh, thank you, Seneschal."

Minutes later the city delegation joined the group. They all eyed Christoffer with a vacant, hungry look.

Colonel Holstein said, "Sire, they wish to surrender. They want to discuss terms."

"Surrender? We just got here."

"Sire, the siege has been ongoing for six months now."

"Really? OK. Well, Pommern scum, the price of peace will be, ahhh... will be..."

"500,000 marks, sire?"

"500,000 marks! Now pay up, you Pommern granites!"

"Ask them for Vorpommern, your Glibness, we could use the extra land."

"I know that! Stop buzzing in my ear and leave me to handle these delicate negotiations! We'll take Vorpommern too, you skinny slugs. If you don't, we'll eat your babies! Take it or leave it!"

The Pommern delegation exchanged vacuous looks and nodded bleakly.

"We won, sire. The war's over," the Seneschal said.

"Good. Can we kill them now?"

"That wouldn't be wise, your Elephantiness."

"I know that. Ok, let's get back to court. I'm starving, and I don't like the way my men are looking at me."

"It's respect sire. They look at you and think, 'Now here's a King that could feed us for a month.'

"Of course I'll feed them. Here men, there's some meat left on this reindeer leg. Toodles!"

* * *

May 17, 1443: Copenhagen, Denmark


King Christoffer III lay back in the hot tub, a large stone bowl built over a series of natural volcanic springs. On one ledge lay a platter of food, and the other sat a flagon of ale. Behind him a rather heavily built woman massaged at the folds of skin around his neck.

The Seneschal poked his head in, then coughed. "You sent for me, sire?"

"Eh? Oh, yeah. Against my better judgement I require your useless services. I need an update. Things have been hazy since..."

"Hinterpommern, sire?"

"Hinterpommern, I believe. Yes, that's it. I've been so preoccupied since then. Come in, come in, don't be afraid of your King."

"Dear God! You look like an oversized prune."

"Eh?"

"I said, are you sure there's enough room? I'd hate to crowd the... er... lady."

"Don't worry about Olga. Olga's the soul of discretion. Right my dear?"

"Ja.... *buuurrrppp*..."

The Seneschal sat down and opened his notebook. After flipping through several pages he began, "On May 21 in the year of our Lord, 1442, you authorised 13,000 infantry to be raised in Skane."

"I did? Oh, yeah. Tell me, someone said it rains in Skane."

"It does, your Immenseness, but mainly on the plain. Shall I continue?"

"Please."

"Let's see... on June 20 in the year of our Lord, 1442, the Teutonic Order paid 22,000 marks to Sweden for peace. In response you ordered another 1,000 infantry to be commissioned in Gotland."

"Sweden and the Order are at peace? Why didn't you tell me?"

"Mental lapse, your Grossness. On July 1 of the same year you ordered 1,000 infantry to be raised in Vorpommern, then detached 10,000 infantry from Colonel Holstein's force and marched them to said province to oversee that rather restless, hungry population."

"I knew that! How's Colonel Jersey?"

"He's dead, sire. Died of starvation."

"Pity. The man should have eaten."

"Yes, sire. It had something to do with lack of food."

"Eh?"

"I said, I guess he didn't pack enough food."

"Well, can't blame me for that!"

"Of course not, sire. Now, where was I? Oh yes, on September 5 in the year of our Lord, 1442, Colonel Elsenaur landed in Livland with 7,200 infantry and 9,400 cavalry, brushed aside some 1,000 Teutonic infantry and laid siege to Vorpat."

"Who's Elsenaur?"

"He's Colonel Holstein's replacement, sire."

"Well, I hope the damn fool's not stupid enough to go starving. Where did they land?"

"In Livland, sire."

"Where's that?"

"To the east of us, sire, across the Baltic. It's Teutonic land."

"Of course it is! You implying I don't know my history?"

"Geography, sire."

"You yanking my chain?"

"Wouldn't think of doing that, your Blobness."

"Hurry up and finish. I'm getting hungry."

"Of course, sire. It's been at least ten minutes, you lard."

"Eh?"

"I said I'll be finished in a minute, my Lord. On November 18, in the year of our Lord, 1442, you commissioned yet another 3,000 infantry to supplement the army in Vorpommern."

"Vorpommern... Vorpommern... why is that name so familiar?"

"That's because I've been talking about it for five minutes, FOOL."

"Eh?"

"I said, I think in five minutes you should get out of the pool. You may waste away from lack of nourishment, my King."

"There is that possibility. A little lower on the neck, my dear. Almost, almost, flip that fold of skin up, there we go... ahhhh!!!!"

"And finally, your Blubberness, Colonel Elsenaur's army in Livland has been reinforced with an additional 6,500 infantry as I... as we speak."

"Livlind? Livlind? I've always wanted to see Livland.! Prepare my galley!" King Christoffer bounded up, his bleached white, hair-matted body dripping off-coloured water. The level of the hot spring dropped two feet.

"OH DEAR MOTHER OF GOD... *raaaalllllppphhhh*"

"Still under the weather, are you? Better see the Royal Physician again. You know, you really are a weak, spineless man, Seneschal. In fact, you sicken me. I grow tired of your uselessness."

"*raaaalllllppphhhh...raaaalllllppphhhh...raaaalllllppphhhh"

"I've never seen projectile vomit clear a dozen feet before. Have you, my dear?"

"Nyet...*buuurrrppp*..."
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

November, 1445: Copenhagen, Denmark


*BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM* "Sire, you in there?" *BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM - BAM* "Sire! You in there?" Shaking his head, the Seneschal opened the grand door leading to the King's quarters, to be greeted by the sight of King Christoffer III, his back to the small man, bent over at the waist. "That has got to be the fattest ass I've ever seen in my life."

The King shot upright and turned, his face red and apoplectic. "What?"

"I said, are you looking forward to meeting your young wife?"

"You! Why didn't you knock!" One foot gingerly poked at a painting that was laying on the floor, trying to push it under a massive armoire. The Seneschal managed to catch a glimpse of a nude woman reclining on a couch, all her naughty bits on display.

"Nice painting, your Lewdness. Excited about your wedding?"

"Er, ah, no big thing. I mean, she's just a lithe, dark-haired, doe-eyed, 15 year old girl with bee-stung lips, wide child baring hips, a delicate posterior and huge,,, er, ah... potential as a wife."

"Of course, your Virginess. I'm sure your highness will be too occupied with duty and affairs of state to worry about repeatedly attempting to produce an heir with such a virginal, innocent beauty. I mean, the utter horror of spending day after day in bed with such a lithesome, energetic, agile, supple, athletic, fawning young thing that would no doubt wish to please her king in every wicked, carnal, delicious method known to man must make you shiver."

"Oh yes." The King croaked, his voice high pitched. "Open a few windows, Seneschal. Suddenly I find it very warm in here."

As the King's aid moved from window to window, Christoffer said, "Why are you here, anyway?"

"You called for me, your Blankness."

"I did? Oh yeah, of course I did! I wish to be brought up to date before my wedding. I may be rather.. er, ah, indisposed afterward."

"As you wish, your Naughtyness." The Seneschal produced a dog-eared note pad. "Let's see... On June 5, in the year of our Lord, 1443, the Danish army captured the Teutonic province of Livland. They marched north to Estland. On the return trip, your Highness ordered the fleet to stop off at Gotland and commissioned 5,000 infantry to be sent as reinforcements for Colonel Elseneur's army."

"Who's Colonel Elseneur?"

"I doubt you'd remember him sire, you only spent 6 months with the man when you journeyed to Livland."

"Oh. That Colonel Elseneur. A gaunt, tired man if I remember correctly."

"Could have had something to do with the freezing winter, lack of warm clothes and no food, your Ineptness, but I could be wrong."

"You grow impertinent, Seneschal."

"It was an attempt at humour, your Vastness, though I know I'll never be as funny as you."

"And don't forget it! What else do you have?"

"On the 7th of June in the year of our Lord, 1443, the Teutonic Order demanded 52,000 marks for peace. You, in your infinite wisdom, turned the demomic knights down. In July of the same year Colonel Elsenaur invaded Estland, defeated a Teutonic army of 4,000 cavalry and laid siege to Revel. On the same day we settled for a white peace with Prussia."

"I was a busy ruler, wasn't I? I tell you, a king's work is never done."

"We did all the work, you scum."

"Eh?"

"I said, you did wonderful work, and then some. On November 9 in the year of our Lord, 1443, the army besieging Revel was reinforced by 6,000 infantry, and in January of the new year, 1444, you authorised the raising of another 6,000 infantry in Gotland."

"Tell me why I consistently raise so many men, Seneschal? Surely the men under Colonel Elseneur are sufficient to do the job."

"It's starvation and disease, sire. The poor conditions eat the men up like cheesies."

"Well, have them forage for food, Seneschal! Surely they can do that."

"My Lord is most correct. I will send a message to the Colonel immediately. I'm sure they have never considered such a radical idea before."

"Good. Are you mocking me, Seneschal?"

"Of course not, your Fleshyness. You are much too smart for the simple likes of me."

"And don't you forget it! Continue!"

"As your Majesty surely recalls, Saxony and her allies Austria and Oldenburg declared war on us, March 26, in the year of our Lord 1444. Sweden and Norway declared for our side."

"I remember that! Sweden and Norway joined our cause, didn't they?"

"That's what I just said, you fat toad!"

"Eh?"

"I said, yes sire, their armies are on the road. Might I add that on that same day you commissioned 5,000 cavalry in Bremen."

"Bremen? Where's that?"

"You should bloody well know, you has-been!"

"Eh?"

"I said, to the south of Holstein. On April 28 of the same year Colonel Elseneur in Estland was reinforced with another 6,000 men. On May 26, a Saxon army of 6,000 cavalry invaded Vorpommern and defeated the Danish army of 14,000 infantry and laid siege to Stralsund."

"Our army was defeated by a bunch of horses?"

"Cavalry, sire. They were defeated by enemy cavalry."

"Well, go defeat them back! But first I want that commander hanged!"

"Colonel Christensen, sire?"

"Colonel Christmas? That thin, starved looking man was in command?"

"Yes, sire."

"Then hang him!"

"He's dead sire. Died at the battle in a valiant effort to save your Highnesses' lands. Shall I have him dug up and hung anyway?"

"Never mind. What else is there? I must get dressed soon."

"On June 11 in the year of our Lord, 1444, the defeated army under our new commander, Colonel Radby, entered Mecklenberg with 9,700 infantry and was ordered to march to Bremen."

"Who ordered that?"

"You did, sire."

"I knew that! Carry on."

"On August 1 of the same year, our armies combined, giving them an effective strength of 26,023 infantry, and 5,000 cavalry, under command of Colonel Radby. They proceeded to march on Oldernburg. On the same day we made peace with the Teutonic Order, receiving 150,000 marks from the knights. Our fleet was dispatched to Estland to pick up the remains of Colonel E;seneur's army. On the 28th of August we defeated the army of Oldenberg and laid siege to their capital."

"You're rather long winded today, Seneschal."

"As it pleases you, my King. On the 26th of February in the year of our Lord, 1445, Oldenburg fell to our victorious army and we promptly annexed them."

"We did? I don't remember that."

"It was probably because you were dead drunk in a gutter."

"Eh?"

"I said, I'm almost finished, do you want to hear another?"

"Go on."

"On March 30 in the year of our Lord, 1445, 3,000 infantry was commissioned in Oldenburg, while the army under the victorious Colonel Radby was ordered to Mecklenberg to reinforce another 11,000 men under Colonel Elseneur."

"Elseneur? I though he was dead."

"That was Christensen, sire. Do you want me to hang Elseneur anyway?"

"Not yet. What else?"

"On May 22 of the same year, Colonel Elseneur with 20,400 infantry and 5,800 cavalry was defeated by a Saxon army of 15,000 infantry and 3,700 cavalry in Vorpommern."

"What? Am I surrounded by incompetents?"

"We serve the King of incompetents. My Lord."

"Eh?"

"I can't handle these compliments, my Lord. On July 1 of the year 1445 we repaid a 200,000 mark loan. On the 26th of the same month Vorpommern fell to the Saxons. They immediately asked for it in return for peace, but you declined."

"I did? Oh, yes. Of course I declined. The Saxon pig-dogs!"

"Inexplicably the Saxons left Vorpommern and invaded Hinterpommern. Colonel Elseneur slipped back into the vacant province and on the 25th of July laid siege to the capital with the intentions of liberating it for your Swolleness."

"There's a good man. We won't hang him yet, then. Maybe later..."

"As you wish, your Bloatness. Finally, on November 14 in the year of our lord, 1445, Bohemia and Hungary declared war on our great country. Once again Sweden and Norway came to our aide." The Seneschal closed the book. "And that sire, brings us up to the present, and the day of your marriage."

King Christoffer III rolled his eyes. "I don't know why I bothered listening to this tripe. You didn't tell me anything that I didn't already know. Now get out!"


* * *


The marriage was a grand, lavish affair, the like of which had never been witnessed before in Denmark. As the holy bond of matrimony was sanctioned, the vast, crowded hall grew silent, waiting for a sign from their King. The sign came, punctuating the solemn, grave, dignified chamber with a note of authority.

"*qquuuuaaakkkkkk!!!* There's a corker."


* * *


Dorothea of Brandenburg was fifteen years old. She stood shyly in the Royal Bedchamber, naked except for a silk sheet that was clasped demurely before her. In the Royal Water Closet next door she heard a prolonged gargling.

Suddenly King Cristoffer III bounded into the bedroom, dressed in his birthday suit, arms spread, huge fleshy body bouncing and jiggling like a bowl of jelly in a hurricane. "Who's your sugar daddy? Who's your plumb pudding?"

"My King! You... you... you are excessive."

"Don't be shy, my little dumpling. Let your King and husband check out your Queenly goodies."

"Batting her eyelashes, the young girl dropped the robe, revealing herself to the King in all her youthful glory."

"Ooooooohhh... tits...."

"My Lord, where is it?"

"Where's what?"

"Your thing, my Lord. Where is it?"

"My thing?"

"You know, your weapon, your hammer, your tool, your sword, your pike, your claymore, your lance, your arrow, your flechette, your grand inquisitor, your battering ram, your..."

"Bloody hell girl. It's right where it's supposed to be."

"I don't see it!"

"Trust me, it's there... down there somewhere... say, what are you implying? Do you think your King is fat?"

"Well, my Lord, if you take away all the massive rolls of blubber, I would have to say most certainly not."

"Well then, come to papa... say, what's that?"

"What's what?"

"That! Under your arms! Have you ever heard of shaving?"

"Why should I? Where I come from it's a sign of my sexuality."

"Well where I come from it makes you as sexually exciting as a neutered Wlak! You're a woman, for Christ's sake! And your legs... Good God, you look like a man with tits!"

"You should talk about tits!"

"What?! Why I oughta..."

* * *


On the other side of the door, the various Ministers and the Seneschal listened to the rapidly escalating argument. Before long objects began to smash against the walls.

The crowd split up and went their separate ways.

The Seneschal cracked a smile. "Ah, marriage, such bliss."
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

December 25, 1447: Copenhagen, Denmark


"You called for me, sire?"

"Ah, yes, the most useless Seneschal in the history of the world. I wish to test your knowledge of major Danish events for the past two years."

"I'm sure it will be a total waste of your Majesty's time. May I sit?"

"If you must. Just don't soil the upholstery."

"Thank you, your Crankiness. May I inquire about the health of the Queen, my King? Is she, how do you say, preggers, by any chance?"

"Shut up! Let's get this over with as quick as possible. The Minister of the Navy waits to present me with a Christmas gift."

"How nice. You must be orgasmic with joy, your Thighness. If it pleases you, I shall begin with events immediately after your... er, most eventful marriage."

"Whatever."

The Seneschal flipped the much-used notebook. "In January of 1446 you authorised the raising of 5,000 infantry in Mecklenberg."

'Now why would I ever do that?"

"Possibly to fight the Saxons and liberate Vorpommern, but I could be wrong."

"Are you ever right? Continue."

"On March 12, in the year of our Lord, 1446, a Saxon force of some 5,900 infantry and 1,150 cavalry invaded Vorpommern and engaged our illustrious army of 15,100 infantry and 5,500 cavalry."

"Where did we retreat to this time, and did you hang the commander?"

"Au contraire, your Stoutness. We laid a real beating on the Saxons, and sent them packing in much haste to their side of the border."

"Good men. I knew they had it in them. I shall present the commander with a medal."

"The Royal Order of Bullshit, my Lord?"

"Eh?"

"I'll get right on it, my Lord. On a side note, the Swedes landed in Hinterpommern, defeated the Saxon army and annexed the country."

"The Swedes? That reminds me, the Swedish Ambassador Bjorn Salming, and the new Danish Ambassador Knute Rockne, are supposed to meet me for after dinner mints."

"I'll send out a reminder, your Greasiness. Let's see, after several minor skirmishes, your glorious army managed to liberate Vorpommern from the Saxons. On December 6 of the same year you secured peace with the evil Saxons for the low, low sum of 6,000 marks."

"I paid them for peace? I don't remember that."

"I'm not surprised. On February 1, in the year of our Lord 1447, we recruited 3,000 infantry in Oldenberg to watch over their rather restless population."

"Why were they restless? I thought all my people loved me."

"Fat chance of that, my Lord."

"Eh?"

"Can't argue that, my Lord. In July of the same year, you accepted a white peace with Bohemia, marking the first time in 7 years, or when your reign began, oddly enough, that Denmark had not been at war with one part of the world or another."

"And it shall remain that way for decades to come! I have grown tired of war, Seneschal. From this day forth Denmark shall be seen as a paragon of peace, as a purveyor of justice, as champion of the oppressed, as overlord of freedom from strife!"

"Very noble, your Blowholeness. On September 2, in the year of our Lord, 1447, England declared herself as Sole Defender of the Faith, and on the 3rd Norway, along with Sweden, declared war on Novgorod. Denmark had no choice but to honour the agreement. Much as I thoroughly enjoyed my King's rant about peace and nobility of purpose, it was not to last long."

"Crap! You made me waste my breath!"

"As if that requires me, my Lord."

"Eh?"

"Will you further require me, my Lord?"

"No! Get out! I think in the New Year I will look for a replacement. Your uselessness grates on these nerves."

"You are most generous, your Flabiness."


* * *


January 6, 1448: Copenhagen, Denmark


The Minister of Peasant Affairs burst into the study that the Seneschal used for relaxation. "Have you heard? Have you heard?"

The smallish man held up a hand. "Heard what?"

"The King is dead! The King is dead!"

"Really? What happened?"

"Well, you know the Christmas present the Minister of the Navy presented him, that personal yacht?"

"Yes, what of it?"

"Well, he went sailing, and a fleet of warships cruised past, swamping the boat and tossing the King overboard."

"That's horrible, though I'm sure he had no trouble floating. Did anyone try to save him?"

"Well, there was a hue and cry on shore, and a flotilla of fishermen set out."

"That's noble for a bunch of primitive peasants, but couldn't they rescue him?"

"Rescue him? The fishermen mistook the King for a Beluga! It wasn't a pretty sight, especially after they harpooned him a couple of dozen times."

"Dear God! Where is he now?"

"Back at the village!"

"Well, we better go get him."

"That'll be kind of hard. The villagers are carving him up as we speak?"

"What?

"Well, like I said, they thought he was a Beluga. I didn't have the heart to tell them otherwise."

"Why not?"

"Cause it's the biggest catch they've hauled in for over a decade, and they said it should keep them all in food for at least six months."

"Oh crap! You know what this means? It means we need to find another King, and soon."


* * *

The news of King Cristoffer's III's death hit the population with barely a whimper. Conversation quickly turned to bets on who would become the next king of Denmark. It was common knowledge that Queen Dorothea of Brandenburg was barren, so that left her out of the picture. The country waited with bated breath.

The Queen mourned until lunch, then rushed to keep a hair appointment, complete with manicure and facial.

As for the Seneschal, he had no idea how history would remember such an insignificant little man.


Thus ends the reign of King Christoffer III, on January 6, in the year of our Lord 1448.


war_1440.jpg


Denmark is dragged into war by Sewden and Norway against the Teutinic Order, Pommern and Prussia

vorpommern_1442.jpg


The addition of Vorpommern after peace negotiations in 1442

siege_oldenburg_1445.jpg


The siege of Oldenburg: 1445

denmark_1448.jpg


Denmark on the death of King Cristoffer III



LD has left the building...
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Sytass

The Sheep's Heart or The black sheep of the family or A Shepherd's Tale

Prologue

It had been a thoroughly shitty month right from the start. It began with me losing the allowance that my father, Franklin Maxwell, well reputed merchant in London, had given to me, his son Alexander, in a game of dice. I had just made up an excuse for asking for more money, preparing myself for a tirade about how he left the besieged city of Tours with just his cart, coming to the island with no money, and the usual credences of a speech attempting to make me feel guilty for having an easier life than he had at my age. However, I was presented with my father and my older brother Oliver sitting together.

"Ah, Alexander, good that you are here", my father said cheerfully. A bit too cheerfully for my taste, for I knew he was not at all fond of how I passed my time. Unlike Oliver who loved our father's business and immersed himself fully in it, I preferred to spend my time with friends, and never really found a business that was to my liking and that I would make money from. Thus, sensing a hint of danger because of my father's joyfulness at that moment, I sat down uneasily with the two.

"Why, father, what is it?" In part I was curious. Then again, I was not sure if I wanted to hear what the two had to say. Yet, it would give me time to prepare for giving a speech on how I needed more gold than my monthly allowance.

Oliver chuckled, then spoke. "We've been discussing your, my - the family's future." I never liked Oliver. He would always tell on you if you did something wrong. He was keen at school and learning, and I was thoroughly surprised how his nose and face kept so pale and white with him seemingly exploring the lower body crevasses of all those who might prove to be benefactors to his rising in wealth and status.

"Oh?" I said in honest surprise, raising an eyebrow. It had always seemed clear to me. Oliver would inherit my father's business, while I would receive a small sum of gold. I never really thought about what might come afterwards, but I always believed that the chances would present themselves once the time arrived.

"Yes", my father said, and I began to dislike his smile more and more. "I don't want to just pass this business on to the two of you and you divide it some day, making it half as strong and powerful than it was."

"Indeed. Only one of us can inherit the business. The other must... well we will see", Oliver added to our father's words.

I cleared my throat, still unsure what the two were up to. "And how will we know who is worthy? It's not like we didn't know who it's going to be."

My father stroked with his hand over his large belly. "I don't want to be partial. And I don't want to be unfair. Therefore we will have a contest."

"A contest?" I asked.

"A contest", Oliver and our father said with one voice, grinning. Our father went on. "The two of you will receive a hundred pieces in gold. Then you will set out to where you wish. The one who returns with the most gold in two years' time will be my heir. And the other... well we can talk this out once you two have returned."

I was confused. One hundred gold was a hefty sum. Enough to quit this family once and for all. Contest. Yeah right. I didn't have a merchant's heart and my father and brother knew that. To hell with them, I thought. I'll use the money for getting out of this hell hole. I managed to stike a rather convincing smile, or so I thought, and replied, "Father, if that is your wish, so shall it be." I shook Oliver's hand. "I wish you good luck, my dear brother. May the better one win."

I left the two, seeing on their faces that they were the confused ones now, but as I heard them laughing together later on in the hall when I layed in bed already, I figured they were not so unhappy after all.

**********

We left London a few days later, just after the turn of year 1448. Oliver sailed on a ship towards France, while I decided to begin my European travels in Germany. I bought passage on a ship that would bring me to Bremen, a city that I was fairly accustomed with, having accompanied my father there on his travels a few times, and I had learned German, for my father did many a business with Germans.

There were other merchants on this ship and I sat with them in the evening. To pass the time we entered a game of dice, and, to add some excitement to the game, we played for money. It became quite clear that I had been equipped with a considerable sum, and I was without luck as I kept losing gold piece after gold piece. I was fortunate to carry a pair of rigged dice which I had acquired in a rather illustrious way that I prefer to say nothing about. Pretending to accidentally have dropped the true dice onto the floor, I exchanged the pairs. And indeed, my luck returned. Too impressive was this return, for my fellow gamblers soon began to question this sudden swing of luck. To cut a not so pleasant story short, they found out my secret, stripped me of what gold I carried and threw me over board to the cheer of the captain and crew.

The water was chilly, and a slight storm was sending the waves up and down, carrying me with them like a piece of wood. I was a good swimmer and tried to stay afloat for as long as I could, shouting only occasionally for help to preserve my strength. But in the end, I fell unconscious and thanks to more luck I ever had in gambling, I was washed ashore, merely fainted, not dead.

That was where the shepherd found me.
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Sytass

Chapter One - the shepherd's aide

When I awoke on the shore I thought I was dead. My lungs ached, I felt terribly cold and my head spun and hurt. When I opened my eyes I saw a demon and was I sure I had been sent to hell for my sins, numerous as they were. I closed my eyes again, wondering how I could be in hell when I felt cold. Shouldn't I feel hot, burning in the flames of the purgatory? I dared to open my eyes again, and kept them open, despite the hideous sight that they caught. A man was cowering above me, his face terribly distorted. Where his left eye should have been was a deep scar running from the disfigured forehead down to the jaw. It looked like a large dent in his head, obviously struck with a large sword. The right side of his face bore a resemblance of molten cheese. Obviously, he had been exposed to fire there.

The distorted face came clse and I felt dry lips pressing against mine, and foul breath being blown into my mouth. I managed to assemble all my strength and push that vile creature away, coughing. I sat up, and, tasting still the foulness of the breath, emptied what was in my stomach onto the wet and sandy beach.

With an extremely croaky voice, the creature spoke. "Ah, you're alife." He spoke German, of course, but knowing the language, as I have already explained to you, my listeners, I understood him. I didn't answer him but coughed, some salty water coming up from my lungs. I realized that this hideous being had obviously blown more of his evil smelling breath into me to keep me alive. I had to vomit again.

"You must feel very cold", came the voice again. "Can you walk?" I sat up a bit more straight and tried to get up. Eventually I stood in my wet clothes, staggering, and the man quickly stood by my side supporting me by laying my arm around his neck. He led me a few steps, but my consciousness fleeted again and when I woke up again I was lieing in a bed. The first thing I noticed was warmth. Great warmth, as I noted that I was under several blankets of sheepskin. I also noticed that I was not wearing any clothes. And I noticed a breath taking smell. I reconsidered whether or not I was in hell now, with the heat I was put under, and the stench that would have been worthy of the mighty lord of evil Satan himself after eating a waggonload of wlak.

I lost track of how long I lay there, but it must have been several days, having feverous fits, and slowly getting accustomed to the foulness of my surroundings until I didn't notice it any more. It was in the middle of january. Outside was a loud storm howling, angrily dragging on the shutters that sealed the glass-less windows that had been filled with sheeps' wool and straw to keep in the warmth during the winter. I got up and hit my head against the low ceiling, cursing myself. I was alone in the room, and pushed the blankets aside that were in several layers on top of me. I noticed my clothes neatly folded up on a small stool before a tiny stove that emenated a surprising amount of heat. I dressed myself and noticed how hungry I was. I opened the door to the next room and stood in the main room of the shepherd's small house.

I realized that the room I had spent the past days in was a lot tinier, like a small addendum to the house itself. The larger room was tall enough so that I could easily stand. A larger bed than the one I had lieing in was in one corner, right beside a friendly hearth. A small cupboard was there, and a table with four chairs. A door led outside, another one to a room that - as I later learned - connected the house to the stables and where the shepherd slaughtered sheep or shore them as needed.

The vile looking shepherd sat at the table, eating a stew of sheeps' meat and bread. It smelled not too appetizing, but my empty stomach was willing to neglect the smell. The shepherd turned his deranged face towards me. I shuddered involuntarily , and I noticed how the shepherd's face took on a hint of sadness at this reaction of mine to his sight. "I see you are strong enough to get up again." His voice was rather emotionless. I could but nod, my mouth dry and the tongue sticking to the gum.

The shepherd got up and I noticed that he was walking limp with his right leg which seemed so much thinner than the other. He fetched a small bowl, a knife and a spoon and got me a serving of the stew and some bread. He also poured me a cup with beer. I eagerly drunk to moisten my throat again and began eating. The stew tasted as terrible as it smelled, but my hunger made it easy to ignore this.

After I had finished eating, I sat back, tired from this exercise that I had been bereft of for some time now. The shepherd struck a smile that made him look like a demon that had just robbed a sinner's poor soul. I didn't realize then how close to the truth that was. "What is your name, stranger?" the shepherd asked. I answered him. "English, ey? Well, it doesn't matter to me. I am Hans. Hans Larsen."

He told me where I was. He took out a map and pointed to the coast near the city of Oldenburg which belonged to the Danish king back then. The former king had just died under most peculiar circumstances and Christian II had just risen to the throne. The Danish were not the most beloved country, and their neighbours were eagerly following each of their moves.

103919632.jpg

Denmark in January 1448

He wanted to know how I had come to go overboard and washed ashore, and I made up a tale of pirates boarding the ship that I had travelled on. I couldn't possibly tell him the truth. As weakened as I was, and without a piece of gold I would need all the favor I could get. I thanked Hans for his friendly hospitality and him saving my life. I promised to do what it took to make up for it, which I took as a hollow phrase, but which Hans took too serious to my liking.

"Now, my friend...Alexander, wasn't it?" I nodded. "Well, Alexander, I spent quite a bit of my time and food and drinks on you surviving your episode." The tone he struck with his voice, a voice that kept reminding me of rusty chains grinding against each other, bode none too well.

Hans got up and poured me some more of the strong beer he had in store. "I need a hand with the sheep. I am old and... you can see what I look like." I wanted to say something, but he cut me short. "To hell with the Danish. I was among the defenders at Oldenburg. I was a strong man. And look what the Danish did to me." He shook his head as if wanting to shake off the memories. "And what thanks did I get? Nothing! I was sent back to my sheep and my bit of land." He made no secret of it that he held no love for the Danish oppressors. However, he was far from being in the position to openly oppose them, not in his condition.

A tear appeared in his living eye, running down the hairless, molten side of his face. I felt sorry for him. I realized that for the first time since I could remember I felt sorry for someone. He had saved my life and I owed him. I took his hand, feeling it cold like a dead piece of wood. "I thank you again for you help in distress. And I will serve you as long as you desire."

And so began my shepherding years.
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Sytass

Sorry, real life concerns have taken a firm hold of me, more than I desire. Work is unbelievable. I am in office from 7 am till 6 pm, with internet access but far from enough time to write something. I leave the house at 6 am and return at 7 pm. I hope to be home earlier today (6 pm) and do some writing then.

Sorry for the delay. :(

Besides, I am planning on quitting my (overly busy) job which I don't like and exchange it with (overly busy) studies of history and political sciences at the university of Hamburg, beginning in october.
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Lord Durham

OOC: I took the liberty of writing a little something to tie people over until Sytass can get himself up to speed. Hope you enjoy.

-------------------------------------

A Brief Interlude


1448: Copenhagen, Denmark



The country was still in some turmoil as the new king slowly settled into his job. The Seneschal had been left on tenterhooks, uncertain of his position in the new order of things, so spent much of his time writing memoirs and walking the streets of the Danish capital.

It was during one of these walks along the wharf that he was distracted by a group of people who rushed past, heading for the lip of the docks. The Seneschal watched with growing curiosity, then followed. When he found a spot that gave him a view of the harbour, he saw what the townspeople were looking at.

It was a great Viking ship, a throwback to the earlier days of Danish glory. The crowd oohed and aahed as the boat rapidly approached, the massive oars rising and falling in unison, the great dragon sail billowing majestically. At the prow stood a magnificent figure, dressed in furs and replete in a large horned helm. His whitish beard flowed back over his shoulder in the sea-tainted air.

As the Viking ship drew nearer, the Seneschal elbowed a neighbour. "Don't you think it's about time they trimmed sail and raised oars?"

The city folk looked at him like he three nostrils. "Eh?"

"I said, 'Don't you think it's about time they trimmed sail and raised oars'?"

"Eh?" The throng regarded the ship in growing alarm. "Oh... RUN!!"

The crowd rapidly dispersed as the ship crashed into the dock, sending the wood planking, crates and barrels flying wildly in random directions. As the ship groaned to a halt, the imposing figure leapt from the boat to land on the dock with a thud, hands on hips and chest thrust out.

One of the city folk said, "Is that... Erik? Erik the pirate, who used to be King?"

The cry went up among the citizens, and they drew nearer. The Seneschal finally pushed through and confronted the man. "These people think you are Erik! Are you indeed... Erik?"

The huge Viking looked down into the eyes of the diminutive Seneschal. His stern visage cracked into a huge smile. "Not I, little man-child thing." He waved behind him as a plank was lowered and a tiny, wizened, bent at the back geezer hobbled to the wharf, leaning heavily on a 'walker'. "Thith ith Erik, peathanth!" The Viking shouted magnanimously. "Behold the 'Thcourage of the Theven Theas!'"

A voice from the crowd asked, "What the hell are the 'Theven Theas?"

Another voice answered, "Dunno. Could be a tavern in Harfleur."

"Or a brothel in Paris..."

"Doesn't look the sort that would be of any use in a brothel..."

"Ain't that the truth, he's only half way down the plank... WANT A HAND, OLD MAN?"

"Who thaid that?" the massive Viking screamed. The crowd parted, all hands pointing at a hapless merchant. With a shout the Viking pulled an axe, bounded in one step and clove the man in half.

"Here! Watch what yer doin'! You got blood everywhere!"

"Yeah! Was that really necessary?"

"You spoilt my best dress! Asshole!"

"Jerk!"

"Lummox!"

The Viking looked sheepish. "Thorry."

During the altercation the old man reached the splintered deck and slowly hobbled forward. The Seneschal wiped flecks of brain from his jacket and said, "Are you indeed Erik, former King of Denmark, also known as Erik the Dread?"

A voice said, "Looks more like Erik the Dead, to me."

The Viking began to vibrate again, "Who thaid that!?"

This time the townspeople shook their heads and backed away. The Seneschal asked, "What brings you here, former King of Denmark?"

The wizened man cocked an eye at the Seneschal, his toothless mouth working furiously. "What ya' think, ya young whippersnapper! I hear'd the King is dead! I come to reclaim the throne!"

The crowd gasped. Someone said, "What'd the old fart say? Something about claiming a bone?"

"No, I think he was asking if he was home."

"Home? He should be six feet under, let alone home!"

"Thatup, peopleth!"

The Seneschal continued, "But we have a new king."

The old man looked genuinely surprised. "Huh?"

"Yes, oh Saint of the Oceans. He was crowned a short while ago."

"You mean I'm too late, young man?"

"Quite, oh Scoundrel of the Waterways!"

"Oh. Shit! Late again! Well, never mind then." Erik turned his walker about and headed back to the ship. "Come along Sue, looks like were not needed here after all."

The huge Viking's shoulders slumped. "Not needed, Bothh? Aww?!! All right, Thue comth. Want a lift?"

"Bugger off, oaf! I got off the boat, I'll get back on the damned thing."

Though it took most of the morning, the former King of Denmark finally embarked. With a shrug, the Viking laid his shoulder into the ship and pushed it back into the water. He leapt on board.

As the ship sailed away someone said, "Damn it all! Forgot about the bounty!"

A voice from the back shouted, "Get your fresh Beluga-on-a-Stick!"

The Seneschal stuck his hands in his pockets and walked on. Maybe it was time to relocate, he thought to himself. Nothing exiting ever happens here any more.
 

unmerged(6777)

Field Marshal
Dec 10, 2001
12.470
5
Originally posted by Sytass

[edit]: Sytass has now been able to replace some of his original text. Hoping more to follow as time permits...MrT[/edit]

I am sorry that my being held by the tight grip of real life issues has delayed any updates recently. And as things do not seem to get better for me anytime soon, I therefore post the notes I took when I played through my reign, so that nalivayko will be able to post his tale. I hopefully fill in my parts some time, but as what I had planned would be too large,I might incorporate them into another work some time, or rather: when I find the time.

As of now, I halt all my AAR works, till I have more time again, which does not mean, however, that I will not be lurking on the board and post occasionally. :)

Sorry for the inconvenience.

**********

Rain. Oh, how I hated the rain. Many years had passed since I was taken as a hand by Hans the Shepherd. From him I had learned the trade of shepherding. How they were kept. Cared for. Sheared. Bred. Slaughtered. Bartered. I was far from the gambling tables, and had no money for myself, but this quiet life was all I longed for. My mind was at ease. Except that being with the flock in rain, cowering under a hood under a tree in pouring rain, which, unfortunately, was rather frequent in Oldenburg, was among the worst experiences if endured for weeks on end. Nevertheless, I was content with this life as the years passed, until Hans died.

The story of his death was rather... well, how should I... alright, as you pry it from my lips, I will tell you. It was the year 1468. Eleven years had passed since King Christian's Edict of German Friendship. The king had wisely seen that his country was causing great unease among the countries of Europe as his predecessors had been eager to expand their realm with the sword. And therefore he granted Hanover, which he had recently conquered, Holstein, and Pommern independence, handing the reins of the countries to trusted nobles who pledged allegiance to him. Nevertheless, the rest of Europe still viewed Denmark with a blend of fear and anger and in the meantime several coalitions had tried to wrest parts of the previous exploits from the Danish rule. Aragonians landed in Oldenburg. Fortunately, the battles took place far from us, and we were spared by the perils of combat. Eventually, in september 1468, the war was over, and the Danish King received 10,000 kroner for the coffers from his former adversaries on the fields of battle.

In october that year, Hans went to the nearby town, as he occasionally did. I knew he went there to drink and spend some of his hard earned in a bathing house on one of the women that "served" the male patronage there. However, he came home angry. I had already told you that Hans was a rather hideous sight for the unprepared eye, but he was a vey sympathetic man. One of the female employees had cried in terror when she beheld him and the others threw him out with the aid of a few male guards. I was already in my bed when I heard him shout and throw things around. I went to see after him, hoping to calm him. The light of my faithful brass lantern caught him in the sheep's stall where he took from one of the flock what the woman had denied him. He froze when he beheld me and then rushed out past me as quick as he could in his drunken state. I attempted to follow him, but didn't find him until the next morning. His carcass layed crushed on cliffs at the coast from which he had jumped. I buried him as became a christian, but the priest of the nearest church, aware of the conduct of Hans in town, denied him the last rites.

Now I was the shepherd. I continued the life of a shepherd alone. The years passed. A large war wasted the lands, and indeed I was fortunate to elude the perils once again. Burgundy made the Danish pay dearly. Hanover was annexed by Burgundy. Lübeck, the former Queen of the Hansa fell to Burgundy, but the peace treaty signed in april 1472 granted them but 900 kroner. It was in the very same month that I was sitting under a tree in the pouring rain, huddled in a cloak, the sheep seeking what cover they find.


Jan 1474 - Holstein eludes annexion, breaks vassalization
Mar 1474 - Pers. gift to Holstein
Oct 1474 - gift to state

Jun 1475 - war: Burgundy, Palatinate, Baden, Kleves Cologne, Helvetia vs Saxony, Austria, Venice, Papal States, Hessen

Jan 1476 - Sweden DoW's TO, Lithuania, Castile, Siena. We, Norway, Holstein join.
Dec 1476 - Sweden captures Pskov from Novgorod

Nov 1477 - nobles demand old rights - accepted

May 1478 - order to improve fortifications of Lübeck

Aug 1479 - Denmark sieges Stralsund in Vorpommern

Apr 1480 - good government policies

Jan 1481 - Stralsund falls

May 1481 - the end
 
Last edited: