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First Lieutenant
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Feb 2, 2010
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Destined for Greatness - The Rise of the Hohenstaufens


Short historical introduction:
The Hohenstaufens were one of the most important families in the medieval Holy Roman Empire. They were granted the Duchy of Swabia in the year 1079 as a reward for their loyalty in the struggle between Rudolf von Rheinfelden and Kaiser Heinrich IV.. In the coming years they would consolidate their reign in Swabia and eventually succeed the Salians as Imperial Family (tracing inheritance through a marriage to Heinrich IV. daughter). Although they would be unable to stem the continuing decline of the Imperial Authority, their familiy's growth accelerated on the Throne as they acquired wide territories in Italy and eventually inherited the Kingdom of Sicily as well. Their Italian ambitions would often put them in opposition to the Pope and the resulting power struggles would eventually herald the end of their dominance as after Kaiser Friedrich II.'s death their powerbase collapsed and the agnatic line of the house would eventually be extinguished with the execution of Konradin in 1268. The demise of the Hohenstaufens would also prove to be the trigger for the chaotic "Interregnum" within the Holy Roman Empire until the first Habsburg was elected King. The Hohenstaufens had occupied the imperial throne for over a hundred years from 1138 until 1250.

-Short-term: Become Duke of Swabia
-Long-term: "Recreate" the peak of Hohenstaufen power by becoming HRE and Kings of Sicily.

Author's Notes:
-Played on normal difficulty and settings
-Decisions and Events will be roleplayed according to charactertraits (as good as it is possible)
-This is my 2nd AAR (first one was abandoned pretty fast), so please bear with me if I mess up badly. Critique, Feedback and comments in general are always welcome
-Hopefully you will like the style as it is going to be a mixture of chronicle & narrative writing
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Nice, looking forward to reading the story. :)
Count Friedrich I., The Beginning of a Chronicle

It is the Year of our Lord 1066, and I, Count Friedrich of Schwaben, have decided to start a chronicle of our family. May it guard our history and achievements until Judgement Day comes. For I believe we Hohenstaufens are destined for greatness and if one day we fade into distant memories this book shall be proof of our heroic deeds....


The starting situation

The bang of a door disturbed Friedrichs concentration as he carefully filled the first page of the blank book he had ordered.
"How often have I told you to be careful, when opening the door to the library, brother?" Friedrich shot his brother Ludwig a annoyed look.
"Some people actually work, you know?" As Ludwig ignored his accusations Friedrich continued: "So what is it that you have to bother me for?"
"I heard from Otto that you raised the taxes of our feudal vassals....How come that I did not know beforehand? I mean after all I am not only your brother but also the heir to the county!"


The count closed his eyes for a second.

Damn that blabbering fool of a brother Otto...

Sighing loudly Friedrich explained: "How often do I have to say it, I am Count of Schwaben and I do not need to consult you for everything I do, especially since you are only heir until I have a son..."
Ludwig fumed: "Nevertheless I am heir right now and you will have to respect my rights as well."
"Fine whatever. Then let me tell you something: I want to be more than just a count to Duke Rudolfs whims in Ulm and I believe that we, as a family can achieve greater things than running this little county, but in order to fulfill these ambitions we need cash and if some baron gets annoyed by that I will not care!"
"You and your delusions of grandeur! Just keep our lands together...brother"
And Ludwig stormed out of the room.

I must admit I will be soo glad to see my betrothed arrive, just to shut Ludwig up about being my heir...

Shrugging Friedrich returned to the parchment on his desk.


September 29th, 1067, Tübingen

Yesterday Count Friedrich I. married Rocca d'Hauteville, a kinsmen of the Duke of Apulia far to the south in Sicily. May their union be blessed with a child soon.


Looking up from his chronicle Friedrich looked at the open letter next to the book and inspected it again.

Dear Count Friedrich von Hohenstaufen,

As count of Schwaben you are a lord of the regnum teutonicum. A summon is hereby issued to Speyer. The gathering is scheduled for November 21st, in the year of our lord 1067. We require your attendance in order to debate the raising of additional levies and taxes to fight the heathens in Pommerania.

Heinrich, Romanorum Imperator Augustus.

Looks like I won't be staying long, at least I will have some weeks for Rocca before I have to depart.


Time well spent indeed....


November 21st, 1066, Speyer
Friedrich barely managed to suppress a yawn as the lords of the empire debated within the walls of the cathedral. The count shifted uncomfortably in his seat far to the back as he tried to listen to the revolving sounds of a heated discussion.
"...just cause against the heathens needs support and...."
"...extension of imperial and royal powers are dangerous..."
"...Pommerania is a poor backwater wasteland, why go..."

Personally he had already made up his mind. Seeing the opposition being as broad as it is, he favors the imperial cause.

Support for something which is clearly dear to the emperor could yield benefits in the long run. And being as unimportant as I am there is nothing to gain from blockading, nobody would care for my vote. But every single count that supports Heinrich could be one that tips the balance, hopefully the Emperor will value that accordingly...

Following several hours of discussion the additional levies were granted to the crown and Heinrich happily explained his campaign plans for the following year.


Streaming out of the church together with the other minor lords, Friedrich allowed himself a smile.

Although I have not gained something immediately weakening the Dukes can only be good to a count like me, who is looking for oppurtunities and chances. I'll just take it one step at a time.


22nd May, 1068, Tübingen

It has pleased the Lord to give Count Friedrich a daughter as first child of hopefully many to come. The mother and the child are healthy and the girl will be christened Elisabeth. Following the customs of our house she is now the heiress apparent to the county of Schwaben.



Author's Notes:
I know some of it does not really sound historical (especially a gathering to discuss the crown authority issue) but I thought it would be a nice little extra to the developing storyline.
If you have any Questions, Feedback or Critique, just post them!
That's it for the first update (or better start ;) ). Hopefully you have enjoyed it and more is to come soon!
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Friedrich II is one of my favourite historical people, so always good to see a Hohenstaufen AAR!
Pity about your save but I've subscribed and hope you continue!
Finally got around to rebegin the AAR. It pretty much played out the same for the first few years so I just edited the first post slightly to fit to the new save. I have already played through the full reign of Count Friedrich I. so expect an update soon
Count Friedrich I., The Spymaster at the Duke's Court

28th May, 1068, Ulm

In one swoop of fate Duke Rudolf of Swabia is no more, after a serious illness he ascended to the heavens, leaving the duchy to his underage son Berthold von Rheinfelden. Following the funeral and the accession of Berthold I. I was granted the honorable offices of Master of the Hunt and Spymaster. It seems to me that our rise to greatness has just begun.


The new liege of Count Friedrich

Friedrich stopped writing as his thoughts revolved again and again around the events of the last days.

The death of Rudolf seems to me like a sign of heaven. With a weak regency for little Berthold the chances within Swabia are limitless....Especially now that I am entrusted with managing the network of spies. Maybe it might even be the time to press our own families claim to the duchy...

Looking up from the parchments he missed the feeling of home he always had, when looking out of the window of the library in Tübingen. Instead he carefully watched around his new rooms within the castle of Ulm. Closing the book he stored it away in one of the chests next to his bed.

Time to get to work...


6th May, 1069, Ulm

A gentle knock on his door woke Friedrich from his slumber. As he shook off the last remnants of sleep he waited for the prearranged signal of his spies. A further 3 quick knocks were followed by 2 long ones. Carefully and silently Friedrich got out of bed, afraid to disturb his spouses sound slumber next to him. After lighting some candles at his desk Friedrich opened the lock on his door, allowing his nightly visitor in.
Recognizing his worker, Friedrich quickly waved him inside took another look outside to check for followers and then closed the door.
"Have a Seat, Gerhold." Friedrich pointed towards one of the chairs at the window, while seating himself on the other.
"Thank you, mylord."
Waiting for Gerhold to help himself to some wine, he asked.
"What news do you have?"
"Only the best, mylord. Do you remember the task you set me two years ago? The one for yourself?"
A glint flashed up inside Friedrichs eyes as he nodded, while leaning forward, urging Gerhold to continue.
"It is done. I have delivered the documents to your brother Otto in Tübingen and he told me that he is waiting for your orders."
"The claims are foolproof?"
"As good as it could be done, mylord. As soon as you seize the territories by virtue of combat nobody will doubt you anyway."


Going into a more relaxed posture Friedrich smiled.
"I must admit I had doubted your abilities. But I have never been more happy to be wrong."
"You flatter me, mylord, I was just doing a task you gave me."
"Of course, it is as it is. Here." Friedrich took a heavy purse out of one of the chests in the room. "A well earned reward, I say."
Weighing the money in his hands, Gerholds eyes widened, "I am in your gratitude, mylord."
"Wondering why it is more than I had promised?"
Gerholds face reddened. "I do not mean to..."
Waving his counterparts weak voice away, Friedrich took a piece of vellum from his desk and his quill.
"It is because I need you to deliver this letter to Otto."
As Gerhold waited, Friedrich quickly wrote down his orders.

Dear brother,

as Gerhold told me, you know that we are ready to strike. I do want to see this through as quick as possible, but we have to be certain of victory. Therefore I want you to wait for several years to build up a war chest, big enough to hire some mercenaries to overpower the Count of St.Gallen. Keep me updated on our progress and do keep a close eye on Ludwig.

Signed, your brother Friedrich.

"Here take it and off you go."
Taking the sealed letter, Gerhold left the room as quietly as he had entered it.

Going back to his bed, Friedrich saw Rocca stirring from her sleep.
"What happened, Friedrich? I heard you talking to someone..."
"Nothing, dear." he hushed. "just our first steps towards our rightful place."
"A rightful place?" Rocca sat up. "What do you mean?"
Friedrich gave her a kiss. "How about the place we were last night?"


The "other" result of that night

Author's Note:
After all the crap going on with my save. I must say I am happy to be playing the AAR again :) Hopefully you have enjoyed this update, more is too come!
On another note, I changed the name of the son to Konrad, a more "Hohenstaufen" name than the one suggested.
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Aha, the old false claims gig. Goo to see Friedrich is taking this cautiously and not rushing in - the last thing the Hohenstaufens need is to find themselves on the losing end of a war they started.

Konrad's a good, strong name. I look forward to his future!
Glad you were able to overcome the corrupted save without too much grief.

Looking forward to this story -- I'm a big fan of the Hohenstaufens. :D

(You could even say Frederick is my middle name... because it is.) :p
Count Friedichs War for St.Gallen(1)

10th June 1071, Ulm

The Lord has given me another son, we christened him Friedrich in honor of my father and grandfather. With these developments the inheritance and continuance of our family is secured. Praises to the Almighty one.

Second in line to the county, little Friedrich
Preparations for war are going on smoothly and ahead of schedule. Coupled together with the birth of my second son, I believe it to be a sign of God, it might be time for us to strike.

The familiarly coded knock of Friedrich's spies interrupted his entry to the chronicle and one of the more mysterious contacts of his stepped into the room.
Storing the book into a nearby cupboard, the count stood up to greet him, but was interrupted by the hoarse whisper of the hodded man.
"There is no time, mylord, just take this."
Shoving an untitled book into Friedrich's hand, his contact turned around and left the room again.

What the..?

Steps on the floor alerted Friedrich as another knock on his door heralded even more visitors.
Friedrich shot the inconspicous book another look before storing it right next to his chronicle.
"Come in"
Two guards in the Duke's colors walked into his room, eyeing the corners.
"Mylord, we have been alerted to an intruder roaming the castle. We chased him all the way to this tower. Have your seen something suspicious perhaps?"
Nonplussed Friedrich shook his head.
"Unfortunately not. But how come I have not been alerted to this intruder? After all I am in charge of the duke's safety."
Clearly feeling uncomfortable, the guards avoided eyecontact.
"I am sorry, mylord, but I cannot say."
Annoyed Friedrich glared them down and said: "Fine. But as you can clearly see, I know nothing of this intruder. If you do not have other business I would ask you to leave, since I am busy."
"Very well mylord."
Looking relieved to be let go that easily the guards quickly left the room.
As soon as the door was shut, Friedrich took the book again and opened the pages, in hopes of some sensitive information but what he read was only gibberish.
Frowning he took another look.

It must have some secret somewhere...



17th May, 1074, Tübingen

Friedrich was looking through the book of gibberish for what he felt like the thousandth time. But the words sprawled across the parchment still made no sense at all. Angrily slamming the book shut he threw it to the ground just as his brother Ludwig walked in.
"What's wrong Friedrich? After all these years you are still looking at that book?"
"What if I am?"
Ludwig crossed the room to pick up the book.
"Ever considered not reading it like a book?"
"What do you mean? It is obvious that it is encoded, I am not that stupid."
"That's not what I meant. Just look at it, don't you think it looks familiar? All these circles, lines and squares..."
"I already tried to replace them with the alphabet, it does not work."
Ludwig waved his words away and laid the book onto the desk.
"Just watch my finger as I follow this line here..."
And suddenly realization hit Friedrich.

It is a map!


The book, decoded!

"Do you know from which place it is?"
Ludwig smiled happily.
"Guess what? Rheineck, Fortress of the Count of St.Gallen."
"Are you sure?!"
"Why should I lie to you?"
Friedrich took a long look at his younger brother, who had since childhood always tried to best him. "I guess so...."

He might have finally grown up to put his own ambitions behind our families...

"You do know what this means do you?" Ludwig asked.
"Well we get a detailled plan of our enemy..."
"Take a closer look! There!" Ludwig pointed at a specific part of the map and Friedrich fixated it.
"Is that actually a side entrance to the main keep?"
"It most certainly looks so, brother. If we use this, we can sneak into the castle and take it by surprise with a small group of men, no need to hire mercenaries for a lengthy siege!"
Friedrich looked at his brother, astonished.
"Indeed. Go and fetch me Otto and the rest of the council, we will finally press our claim to St.Gallen!"
"On it already." Ludwig hurried out and left a more than happy Friedrich to wait in the library.


As Ludwig closed the door and ran down the stairs, he could not control himself any longer and burst into laughter.
"That fool!"
Reaching the exit towards the courtyard, he recomposed himself, but could not hide a smile.

As soon as Friedrich dies in this stupid endeavour, there are only two little boys between me and the county....


18th August, 1074, Konstanz

At the ridge of a hill overlooking the valley, Friedrich eyed the assembled flags of the county of St.Gallen on the opposite hill suspiciously.
"You are sure that we can take that hill from him in a frontal charge, Ludwig?"
Ludwig came closer and pointed at the left flank, where the banners of the bishop of St.Gallen were visible.
"The bishop is a craven and will turn his tail at the earliest sign of danger. If we come at them in force he will tremble and run, taking his men with him." His hand wandered to the right, where the Count of St.Gallen had made his command known. "Which will let us turn the flank on von Dillingen's center."
Friedrich remounted and turned around to inspect his own forces.
"Considering the reports of our scouts, we are slightly outnumbered, especially after the first clash at Rheineck, where we won the battle but lost more men. I doubt it will be that easy again."
Ludwig put a hand on his brothers shoulder.
"Trust me, if their count leads the charge up the hill, each one of our levies will fight as good as ten of Dillingen's men."
"Do not worry, brother, I'll command the center and cover you."
Friedrich did not reply but put on the helmet which his page had been holding the whole time.
"Give the command for a general charge, as soon as we are ready."
Ludwig nodded and left.
"What do you think, Otto?" Friedrich asked his second brother, who had followed their conversation silently.
"Hmm..you will not like what I want to say, so I prefer to remain silent."
Annoyed Friedrich replied: "I guess you were about to suspect Ludwig of some atrocious plot to harm me again, but I told you already, I trust Ludwig now, if he had not solved the mystery of the book, this whole thing would be meaningless!"
"Just let me take command of the attack towards the bishop and stay put in the center, brother. I know you trust Ludwig, but I do not and you have to admit, taking that hill by frontal charge is as suicidal as it can get. In my opinion we should just stay put and wait for them to come. We already lost too much in Rheineck, when you followed Ludwig's advice to attack before our army had a chance to rest from the long march."
"Why are you that suspicious? He is our brother!"
"Wasn't it you who always told me to have an eye on him? I'm just saying, that you do not need to be as reckless as Ludwig is. Don't forget all the things that happened before your sons were born. He always opposed you and tried to build up support for his claim to the county."
Otto's words got Friedrich thinking again.
"I guess there is some truth to your words, although I believe him to be loyal to me now."
He sighed.
"I'll let you take command of the attack on the left flank and try to support you from the center as good as I can. But do be carful."
Otto simply nodded and turned around to his new command as Ludwig returned.
"Everyone is ready, brother."
"Very well, listen to my orders for the battle: Otto will assault the left flank with the bulk of our cavalry while you take the right. I want us to erect a shield wall after we storm up into melee range until the bishop's forces are routed by Otto. Then we will attack again and hopefully take the field by the end of the day."
Ludwig's face showed no signs of emotions, he nodded and rode to the right.
Friedrich turned around to his army and gave the command to advance.


19th August, 1074, Konstanz

A great battle has been fought yesterday. It shall be the first of many decisive ones for our future! We met the forces of St.Gallen with a charge onto a hill, where the enemy had established himself. After making it through wave after wave of arrows and thrown spears, our attack hit home and the Bishop of St.Gallen fled the field as Otto threw his forces at him. Before clearing his flank Otto was wounded as a lucky pikemen took down his horse, but he is well and will recover soon enough. Meanwhile at the center and the right we met stiff resistance, that only started to crumble as their flank got turned upon. The Count of St.Gallen tried to stop our assault as he formed a shieldwall, effectively stalling our advance, but as it looked like the day might turn against us. God the almighty guided an arrow against him and struck my enemy down. In panic the army of St.Gallen evaporated as we chased the fleeing men down. Glory to God for such a clear victory!


Author's Notes:
First of all thanks for reading and welcome aboard to all new readers!
Hopefully you enjoyed this update.
Some random stuff:
-I kind of ran out of patience waiting for more cash to hire mercs and be on the safe side of the war, so I just DoW'ed and went with it. Thankfully I got the event with the mystic trait to kind of cover up for my hastiness as Count Friedrich actually has the Patient trait. :D
-I centered all the screenshots in this update, but I want to know how you as readers feel like they should be put. Centered like in this one or bound to the left like the previous.
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Ludwig's a clever bastard! Good thing the fates were on Friedrich's side - never trust battle alone to kill your brother. Taking the castle, though, will be a completely different matter.

I prefer the images in the centre, by the way.
Count Friedrichs War for St.Gallen(2)

1st September, 1074, Rheineck

It is with great grief and righteous anger that I have to write down the following. My brother Ludwig has been a traitor to our cause, giving us false information, trying to dispose of me and now as ultimate treachery has changed sides and fled to my enemies court after I found evidence of his evil machinations. To me and all of us we do not have a brother named Ludwig anymore and if I by some stroke of luck shall come across him, I'll make sure he will pay. His contribution to our cause has been to deceive us into attacking early. As it is now, although we won decisive victories in the field our armies are now so depleted that we are stuck besieging a well fortified castles for years to come. If I had only seen through Ludwig's schemes earlier...We would have taken the castle by storm already and he would rot in the dungeons instead of escaping justice.


Without the promised "secret" entrance to the castle the siege lenghtens on...


10th August, 1077, Tübingen

"Make way fo the count!"
Friedrich and his retinue rode into the yard of the castle in Tübingen and dismounted.
Home again I guess...
Handing his reins over to the stable lad, he entered the keep and made his way upstairs to his private rooms. Just as he had sat down at his desk Rocca entered the room.
"Friedrich! You are back again!" She walked up to him and gave him a little kiss. "How is the war going? You never answered my letters."
"I am sorry, but there has been a lot going on lately. I just did not want to write to you with bad news."
Concerned she sat down next to him and asked: "What news? Did something happen? I mean besides your brother's treachery..."
Sighing Friedrich said: "Nothing happens. Which is the whole cause of our troubles. We cannot breach their walls, they are to timid to attempt a sally, so we just sit there, stare and curse at each other."
Encouragingly she pat his back. "Can I help you in some way? Do you want to eat something? You must be hungry after the journey. I can order them to get something cooking quickly."
"No, thanks."
She frowned. "Really nothing? I mean we could also...you know.."
Annoyed Friedrich shook his head. "I really appreciate it, Rocca, but really not now...I just want to sleep now."
"That's all you want!? After 2 years of absence that is all you can say?" Rocca's temper flared up. "And all you keep writing to me are letters to keep a close lid on the treasury as everything is for your stupid war. Nothing for me, nothing for your children and you just want to sleep? I have had enough!" She stormed out of the room and left her stunned husband wondering.



31st December, 1079, Rheineck

The years have went by as the castle of Rheineck kept defying us, but today victory was finally granted to us as we took the castle by storm.


The siege concludes.

There is a bitter taste to this victory though, the traitor Ludwig escaped the castle just before we took it and fled north to Franconia, may he rot there and never trouble us again!

With a much stronger powerbase, the time to press my claim to the Duchy may be upon us soon.


With the addition of St.Gallen the income of the desmene is doubled.

But it has to be planned in every detail. I will not face another situation like Rheineck. Preparations have to be made and alliances need to be forged.


A plot in the making.

Author's Notes:
My Army stack was depleted from ping-ponging around St.Gallens army as the counties of Swabia and St.Gallen are both on mountain-terrain, the casualties as permanent attacker left me with not enough forces to deal with the garrision/reraise of levies. So it took a looooooooong time to save enough cash to get some mercs.
Ludwig was plotting to kill Friedrichs son Konrad and as I tried to imprison him he escaped first to the Count of St.Gallen and later to the count of the palatinate. Sorry for not catching that screenshot. Friedrichs claim to the Duchy of Swabia is inherited from his mother as Friedrichs Grandfather was a Duke of Swabia.

Saithis - Thanks for the Feedback and I definately learned the hard way to not underestimate the numbers needed to take a castle :)

NRDL - Well Ludwig has been dealt with, let's see if Friedrich can survive his further ambitions ;)

Thanks for reading!
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