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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

RedTemplar

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Die Klingen des Himmels
An Iron Century German AAR


August 7, 936 AD. Otto has been crowned King of the Germans in Aachen following the death of his father, Henry the Fowler. Soon, he will found the Holy Roman Empire and earn the moniker "Otto the Great," forging a great political union of that promises to revive the rule of Charlemagne and last for generations in the heart of Europe. All around him, the German nobility prepares for the coming years of strife. Some prepare to support their liege in his campaigns against the Magyars and his fight for unity; others prepare to wage war against him for their own ends.



In the midst of all of this, a zealous and humble young man -- Rupert von Zahren -- reigns as the newly elevated Graf of Weinsberg. Surrounded by a small group of companions, this young man will strive to forge his own dynastic legend; one of martial strength, zealous faith, and fearless leadership. From a humble beginning as a vassal to the Duke of Franconia, Rupert will lay the seeds of a noble German dynasty that, by the will of God, may become one of the great noble lineages of the German people.

Introduction
Welcome to the very beginning of a brand new AAR project! I'm excited to begin this journey, which I hope will take some time and yield some fascinating stories to tell. My last CK2 campaign ended almost a full two years ago in September of 2018, when I finished the first part of my ongoing Baltic mega-campaign. Since then, I've devoted most of my time to continuing that campaign, while detouring into a little adventure in Mexico in HoI4. Now, I'm ready to begin a brand new project, coming all the way back to CK2 to start yet another single-county project to see how far I can rise and what stories I can tell on the way. Am I a little crazy for attempting to write two mega-campaigns at the same time? Almost certainly. Am I excited about doing it? I sure am. The current global scenario has left me with a lot of free time.. My job as a 911 Operator means I'm still working a normal schedule,, but pandemic-related restrictions mean I have a lot more free time than normal, and I love channeling that free time into creative writing via AARs, which is one of my great creative passions.

We will be beginning with a custom-created character, Rupert von Zahren, Count of Weisberg, from the Iron Century bookmark in 936 AD. As per my usual method, we will start with a one-county lord and simply see what happens and attempt to make the best campaign possible, with the goal of converting to EU4->V2-HoI4 and seeing what happens.

But, why did I pick this as my next writing project? A few reasons.

Crusader Kings 3 is on the way, and will be here before year's end -- in all likelihood, this will be my final CK2 AAR unless CK3 turns out to be a bust and need some time to stabilize. I played with multiple ideas for this project -- I thought long and hard about an African campaign, as well as an Islamic start, both from the Charlemagne bookmark. However, I changed my mind on Africa once I saw the added map scope of CK3, and I'd prefer to save my African game for that. I also entertained the idea of my long-awaited Muslim campaign, but in the end I decided that since Holy Fury in CK2 and Emperor in EU4 added so much to Catholicism and Europe that I would pursue that route, so as to make the most out of the newest content.

I will, however, be attempting to do things a little differently in this AAR. Over my past several projects, I've developed a particular style that I find comfortable and effective, a largely history book/documentary style of writing with just a touch of narrative flavor and character development. That has served me well and been a lot of fun, but I'm also hoping to use this AAR to do something new and stretch my creativity a little. I will still be making posts in that familiar historical documentary style, but I will also be focusing more on writing character-driven narrative postings as it relates to the events of my own character and their court/dynasty/demesne. Hopefully, it works and it's something people enjoy reading -- my aim is to make this a slower-paced AAR than my previous offerings, trying to put more effort into atmosphere and character development. If it isn't, I may adjust my style to be more in line with what I've written in the past. However, I am eager to try something different, slower, and more in-depth.


The Details
With all that said, here is a breakdown of the game we are stepping into:

CK2 Vanilla 3.3.3
Difficulty: Normal
Minor Epidemics: More
Non-Epidemic Diseases: More
Exclave Independence: Limited (Naval)
Devil Worshipers: None
Dynamic De Jure Shift: Restricted
De Jure Assimilation Duration: Long
Culture Conversion: Combination
Religious Conversion Speed: Slower
Diplomatic Range: Restricted
Province Revolt Strength: Very Powerful (4x)
Demesne Size: Half
Vassal Limit: Half

The custom settings are all intended to push some of what I prefer from a flavor standpoint -- a short, brutal medieval life where political unrest and rebellion are a legitimate threat to rulers. I like the instability of strong rebellions and severe plagues, as it simulates a very rough and uncertain medieval life that I find very interesting from a storytelling perspective. Aside from the above noted settings, everything else is default, and this time we are playing without Sunset Invasion. I enjoyed having that active in my last AAR, but this time I want to aim for something a little closer to normal history. I have also chosen to revert the difficulty from Hard on my previous AAR to Normal for this one -- I think that the various mechanical handicaps of the game rules will be enough to keep things interesting, and I will attempt to avoid game-y behavior to make myself stronger than I should be. But with a standard difficulty, things should be kept realistic so I won't lose battles I should clearly win due to artificial AI buffs.

I will, however, be making one significant alteration to gameplay, and this is purely due to personal desire/preference.

I will ensure that the Holy Roman Empire forms roughly on schedule. The 936 bookmark sets up scripted events to help the HRE form, but CK2 being what it is, anything can happen and sometimes things go awry. If the HRE has not formed via organic gameplay by the general time period in which Otto was historically crowned, I will use console commands to give Otto the kingdom of Italy and push the event to form the HRE. I have done several AARs that were either mega-campaigns or just CK2-EU4 campaigns, and I have never actually had the HRE form and survive until EU4, thus significantly altering the experience quite a bit, most notably in denying things like the religious league wars, a properly dramatic Protestant Reformation, and the HRE's impact on European politics in general. So no matter what happens, I will force the formation of the HRE in a roughly historically accurate time period, and I will also prevent the death of Otto until that happens. Beyond that, I will not use console cheats except to correct blatantly odd/game-y things that happen as a result of wonky behavior.

I'm excited to write what I believe is my final CK2 campaign -- I hope that some of you will join me for what will hopefully be an exciting ride!

Major Disclaimer: I am not an expert in the history of Germany, the German people and their culture, or the Holy Roman Empire, and I rely on Google Translate for German-language references. I will undoubtedly make some statements that do not align with the historical function of the HRE or the political and social machinations of the Germans. If I say something massively and blatantly foolish, I will more than welcome friendly and constructive criticism/correction. However, where minor discrepancies exist, we will simply accept it as a facet of the alternate history the AAR is generating.

That should conclude our basic introduction. I hope that some of you will come along for this journey and have some fun with me telling the story of the Holy Roman Empire and the journey of the von Zahren dynasty!
 
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Nikolai

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Good luck! Looking forward to this!
 
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Idhrendur

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Exciting! And since your last run, the converters team has created an alternate CK2 to EU4, and greatly improved EU4 to Vic2.
 
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mike the knight

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stnylan

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Will do my very best to follow
 
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RedTemplar

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Exciting! And since your last run, the converters team has created an alternate CK2 to EU4, and greatly improved EU4 to Vic2.
I saw! I was actually planning on using that converter when the time comes. I read through the features a little bit and it looks awesome!
 
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HistoryDude

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Another @RedTemplar mega campaign? Subbed!

Also, you're not the only trying to run 2 mega campaigns at once...
 
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guillec87

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subbed!
 
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RedTemplar

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Der Anfang der Reise
The Journey's Beginning

The Count's Wedding
Weinsberg Castle

July 9, 939 AD

At long last, some semblance of normalcy had returned to Germany, and Rupert von Zahren's life of nobility could truly begin in earnest. Three years had passed since he had been granted lordship over the County of Weinsberg by Eberhard, Duke of Franconia, but Rupert's entrance into feudal politics had been a jarring one thanks to the turmoil facing the German Kingdom in the early years of Otto's reign.



Rupert was born to a landless family, given as a soldier to Duke Eberhard's estate in exchange for a debt owed by his father. A young Rupert had fought in Eberhard's host on several occasions, but distinguished himself when, during the suppression of a peasant revolt in 936, Rupert had come to his liege's aid in a heroic fashion. The young Rupert killed six men in a frantic battle to protect the life of his Duke from an ambush, displaying a tenacious spirit and martial skill that impressed Eberhard. In gratitude, Rupert was awarded the castle and estate at Weinsberg and the right to rule the surrounding lands.

Rupert now stood atop that castle which had been his home for the past three years, looking out over the courtyard and the small village beyond its gate. His retinue of soldiers was nothing impressive -- a band of villagers, itinerant swordsmen for hire, and adventure-seekers who were paid enough to guard the life and possessions of a minor German count in a young realm. He owed this fortune to his former liege, and Rupert had hoped that Eberhard would have been there for this day. Unfortunately, Eberhard had contested the succession of the German throne and had chosen the wrong side by supporting King Otto's half-brother Thankmar. The rebellion was crushed, Thankmar was executed on Otto's command, and Eberhard died of smallpox in the king's dungeon.

But even if Eberhard he had lived, Rupert wondered if he would have been in attendance at all. The marriage of a small-time count whose nobility was only a few years old was hardly an occasion worth celebrating by those of power within the German kingdom. Only Rupert's personal vassals and courtiers attended the nuptial Mass that was provided over by his personal castle chaplain, no more than 50 souls in all. Father Adalbert had wed the two in a solemn Holy Mass that afternoon, and now as evening fell, Rupert stood atop his castle squeezing the hand of his new bride.



He turned his head to the side to look at her, standing beside him in her finely woven wedding dress, her eyes fixed on the horizon beyond the village. In the eyes of the German nobility, Klara was like Rupert -- nothing special or noteworthy. She was low of birth, a former assistant in the offices of the Mayor of Uffenheim, one of Rupert's vassals. But to Rupert, she was a hidden gem, shining with beauty in spite of being hidden where few would look. She would not earn him any alliances, nor would she bring any prestige to his house for taking her hand. But she had strong eyes, a firm heart burning with faith and a keen mind set on building something new, no matter the cost.

"It is a small little realm," he said as he pulled her in closer to himself. "But I treasure it as the start of a family legacy. And now, with our marriage... It is your legacy, as well."

Klara turned her eyes back to Rupert, offering a shy smile as she dipped her head down, her eyes just barely avoiding his. She had always been timid, though she rarely felt so bashful when she was alone with Rupert.

"By your grace, my lord husband," she answered in a soft voice. It felt a bit uncomfortably formal for her, but that was something she would need to adjust to in public court life. But she then looked back up at him, her eyes locking with his as her smile grew. "So tell me... What is this 'legacy' you want to build? When we have a son, one day... What will he inherit?"

Rupert took in a deep breath, and turned back to look down over the courtyard. As darkness began to set, the wood was being laid for the large fire that would be the center of their feasting for the evening. Already, servants were beginning to lay out food and jugs of wine under the careful direction of his chief steward. Before long, they would be celebrating among their courtiers and friends.

"More than this," he said frankly, "I am grateful for what I've received, but I intend to leave much more than this for my sons." Playfully, he emphasized the plural, where Klara had merely mentioned a son. Were it up to Rupert, he would have at least three, and many more if he could. He kept one hand interlocked with his wife's, and placed the other on the stone edge of the balcony, leaning over it and looking out.

"This is a great time for us," Rupert continued, "The kingdom is growing. Otto may have missed his opportunity to seize Austria from the Magyars, but he's already conquered Lorraine, and I'm sure he has designs on Arles, or Italy, or perhaps both. And as the kingdom grows, we can grow with it. Land, prestige, influence... The von Zahren name might be an unknown one now, but we'll change that. By the time I go home to God, our name will be one that German men know and respect... And honor."

Klara's smile broadened even further, though she had already known what his answer would be. When they first met, Rupert had talked frequently about his ambitions. If he didn't die a Duke, Klara had a mind to believe he'd haunt the castle until his heir finished the job. But that drive was one of the things that attracted her to him the most, and she rarely tired of hearing him express it -- especially now that she stood to gain from his triumphs, as well. She leaned in toward her husband and planted a soft kiss against his cheek, tugging at his hand to beckon him with her.

"A fine ambition," he grinned at him, "But before you can claw your way to greatness, perhaps you ought to welcome your wedding guests like a proper lord?"

Rupert followed his wife's lead, and the two made their way down to the outer courtyard to the cheers of their guests. After a brief prayer, the night continued on with hours of food, wine, song, and dancing. For Rupert, it was the first time he truly felt the benefits of his new station. Surrounded by his vassals and servants, celebrating his marriage and eating and drinking more than he would ever have imagined just a few years prior, he felt quite awestruck. The celebration carried into the deep of the night before he finally retired to his quarters with Klara, where they could finally enjoy the firstfruits of their marriage.

That day would long be remembered by Rupert, but the lively celebration of such a memorable day would quickly give way to the diligent work of making his grand vision a reality.


Wooden War Games
Weinsberg Castle

December 29, 942 AD

"Forget the center! The flanks must be the first to fall, and the rest will come with it! A decisive, aggressive strike there will see them scattered before they even know what hit them!"

Energetically, Baldomar smashed his palm down against the tabletop, causing several of the small wooden markers to topple over and roll away from him. Realizing that he'd perhaps allowed his enthusiasm to get the better of him, the thirty-something sheepishly picked the pieces back up and set them where they'd been.




Baldomar was the mayor of Rottenburg, one of two towns under Rupert's governance. Although he wasn't much of a fighter himself, he did have an enthusiasm for battlefield tactics. He had often talked Rupert's ear off with his descriptions of elaborate battle plans, spinning intricate stories of glorious conquest to expand the realm. It was never as simple as merely raising an army, marching on an enemy, and defeating him; every conquest involved subtle intrigue, carefully laid traps, many layers of deception, and -- almost inevitably -- a massive, bloodthirsty charge to crush the enemy underfoot. Rupert occasionally thought that Baldomar wasn't entirely in his right mind, but he was a capable mayor and made a good marshal for the levies, so his "quirks" were tolerable.

It was Baldomar who had gifted Rupert a set of wooden miniature soldiers for Christmas that year and insisted they put them to use in a mock battle. They were beautiful pieces, cut with an admirable attention to detail by a local woodworker in Rottenburg and worthy of display when they were not in use. Presently, the carefully detailed horses and footmen were spread across a large table in Rupert's central meeting hall, bearing red and blue cloth banners to indicate their affiliation. Today, Baldomar had joined his liege in a friendly competition against the court spymaster, Markward. Currently, both armies were making their way up a steep hill simultaneously, each one hoping to gain the advantage of favorable terrain before the other.

"And what happens when our flank fails, Baldomar?" Rupert asked with an amused tone. He turned to his marshal and raised an eyebrow, gesturing with his head to the left side of their formation, which was collapsing under a sustained attack from Markward's men. "Our center is soon to be exposed, and how will we win an uphill battle without our flanks secured?"

"I suppose it was... poor fortune, my lord," Baldomar hesitantly replied. He had pushed to make a decisive strike from the right flank, but as a result the left was being crushed by Markward's reprisal. Their main body of troops was now in danger, and the man entrusted with organizing the Graf's levies was in danger of looking rather foolish in his mistake. Across the table, Markward was expressionless as he cast his dice and swept the remaining models from the left flank off of the table, clearing his way for the decisive charge.

"Might I suggest a more balanced advance, my lord?" Markward offered. The man was nearly a decade older than Rupert and several years Baldomar's elder, and spoke as someone who was teaching his juniors. "Reading your ambitions was simple. You favored the right flank so heavily, it was clear that you intended to crush it first. I was able to deploy just enough men to delay you, allowing me to capitalize on your weak left flank and win the battle. I am hardly a scholar of the arts of war, but I certainly know deception when I see it so thinly veiled."

Those words were spoken calmly, but they stung Rupert's ego. He was well known as a strong fighter -- it was that martial skill that had earned him this county in the first place. But while he would wager himself against anyone in a contest of blades, it was clear that he still had a great deal to learn about the art of commanding armies of men. This contest was a mere game among men of the court, but Rupert intended to fight a true war sooner rather than later. Today's loss only cost him some of his pride; a loss on the real battlefield would cost him the lives of his men and his honor among the German nobility. Such failure could not be tolerated again.

"You're right, I'm afraid," Rupert spoke back to him, leaning against the table with both hands and surveying the final state of the battlefield, "Come the new year, I intend to raise our armies for war. If we make such a mistake as we did today, we will lose the lives of many good men... and we will make a mockery of ourselves among our peers. This was an unfortunate and embarrassing misstep, but a valuable moment of education nonetheless. Well done, Markward. Baldomar, I expect you will take this lesson in mind when we march next summer."

Rupert gave a polite nod to the two men as he turned to leave the room, leaving the other two to clean and store the models. Though he was embarrassed by the loss, he would simply take this as one chance of many to improve himself. In less than a year, the Graf of Weinsberg would lead his men onto the battlefield, and he would accept nothing less than victory and conquest.

Weinsberg was only the beginning.
 

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Humble beginnings, but everything has to start from somewhere.
 
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It is good that Rupert acknowledges his faults, at least.

Soon, a dynasty shall rise!
 
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Der Ergheiz des jungen Grafen
The Young Count's Ambition

Von Zahren's First Campaign
County of Worms

July 25, 943 AD

Three weeks.

For three weeks, Rupert had ridden at the head of his men as they traveled to the west. For three weeks, he had planned how he would lead the upcoming battle as he played it out over and over inside his head. For three weeks, he had checked his equipment daily as he steeled himself for combat. For three weeks, he had slept on a bed of grass and blankets as he yearned to return home to Klara and their bedchamber.



Three weeks ago, Rupert had left his modest castle at Weinsberg with a host of picked warriors and began the journey westward to the neighboring county of Worms in order to conquer it for himself. The decision on where to focus his attention had been a difficult one, and Rupert and his advisers had bickered over it for weeks before the most proper course of action finally became clear. Pragmatically, Worms was a valuable county to hold. While Weinsberg had just one modest castle protecting two towns, Worms was home to two such fortifications. These two castles stood guard over the city of Hagenau and, significantly, over the church that was home to the episcopal seat of the Diocese of Worms. It was this cathedral that had provided the opening for Rupert's quest for a larger demesne to begin.




The cathedral was held by Bishop Wenzel, who had been excommunicated by Pope Celestine II following accusations of apostasy. In spite of his excommunication, however, Graf Werner had not seen fit to remove Wenzel from his post, allowing him to continue to administrate the diocese in spite of being severed from the Church by Rome. In doing so, Werner had made himself an ally of the Church's enemies, and in permitting an excommunicated clergyman to operate in his realm had proved himself unworthy of rule. Rupert had thus mobilized his men for war on the pretense of restoring good and Godly order to Worms by force of arms.

Finally, on July 25 of 943, Rupert's host of warriors had arrived near Werner's primary stronghold at Kaiserslauten and took up their positions to prepare for battle. Across the field from them came the opposing army, bold blue and gold banners above their heads displaying the heradry of House Salian. At their head was a soldier who looked a fair bit Rupert's elder, a man he'd never seen before. Sitting atop a heavy brown horse decorated in his own green, white, and gold, Rupert rode out with Baldomar to his left and Markward to his right, until they stood just a few yards from the commander and his escort.

"I see that Herr Werner doesn't see fit to meet me himself?" Rupert greeted the man with a challenge, his tone holding confidence and even a touch of disdain. "Who is it, then, that I speak to?"

The commander, removing his helmet to reveal a bald head and scarred brow, scoffed at the insult.

"You speak to Gerhardt, Captain of the Castle Guard," he declared, "My lord is away attending to the affairs of our liege, the Herzog. I speak for him in his absence, and I demand to know why our neighbor has come before us clearly arrayed for war."

Rupert seethed at the response. Werner was Duke Baldarich of Franconia's marshal, and was often away helping to drill his armies. Not only would Rupert be robbed of the privilege of facing Werner directly on the battlefield, but he would have to endure the arrogance of his subordinates.

"Very well," Rupert continued, "As you well know, His Holiness Pope Celestine has declared your Bishop of Worms excommunicated for preaching heresy. And yet your lord has taken no action against him, and even permitted him to continue to hold the office of Bishop within his realm. The Graf has, therefore, shown himself in contempt of the will of Mother Church, and is therefore unfit to sit on his throne. Therefore Rupert von Zahren, Graf of Weinsberg, claims the throne of Worms so that it may be restored to the rule of one who will respect the laws of the crown and of the Church. If you fear God, stand down; if you do not, you will be treated as enemies and driven out by force."

Gerhardt stared intensely at Rupert in silence for a few moments, and Rupert found it difficult to read just what he was thinking. But after several long minutes, the man offered no reply; he simply put the helmet back on his head and road back to his men. It would be war. Rupert likewise rode back to his own men, where Markward and Baldomar began organizing them into groups. Rupert would lead the center, while his two subordinates would each command a flank. Once their preparations were made, both armies began their slow march toward one another across the field.

Now, Rupert's blood began to boil. His army outnumbered Gerhardt's, but he remembered the humiliating loss he had suffered at Christmas against Markward. There, he had committed too hastily and made a critical blunder that cost him the battle. At Christmas, it had cost him his pride. Today, if he lost, he would lose the lives of hundreds of men, and his rule over Weinsberg might even be threatened. Failure was not an option this time. Quietly, he bowed his head and whispered a prayer for good fortune and victory. When he had finished, he hastily made the Sign of the Cross and lifted his head, thrusting his sword into the air as he did.

"Soldiers of Weinsberg, for your earthly lord and your Heavenly Lord, charge and gain victory!"



At the head of the formation, Rupert led some 700 men forward. They stood close together, forming a tight shieldwall as they advanced at a measured and deliberate pace. As they marched, shields absorbing the clusters of arrows launched by Gerhardt's defenders, Markward and Baldomar took their small detachments charging madly off to the flanks. Each man took only a small warband of less than 50 soldiers, hardly enough to seem a great threat to their opponents. Gerhardt's formation was similar, with a heavy concentration in the middle and token forces to the flanks -- however, each of his flanks was larger than those of Rupert's army.

That was exactly what Rupert had planned.

He had remembered Markward's warning about making his plans too clear, and he had chosen his strategy for this battle accordingly. Markward and Baldomar took small forces around the flanks -- so small that Gerhardt was unlikely to consider them anything more than an attempt at a diversion. Taking the bait, Gerhardt charged headlong at Rupert's center formation, his men crashing against the tight shieldwall as a vicious melee broke out. What he failed to realize, however, was that the small flanking forces were made up of Rupert's best warriors, many of them personally trained by Baldomar's skilled hand. These small warbands struck the outer flanks with shocking ferocity, breaking formation and striking with a reckless fury in a decisive strike that overwhelmed their enemies. While Gerhardt was trying in vain to break through Rupert's solid defense, his flanks were defeated and he suddenly found his men being attacked from both sides by highly aggressive and elite soldiers.

The unexpected exposure of their flanks caused Gerhardt's men to falter, and his formation began to break as his men began to fear defeat. Soon, his men were turning in full retreat, running for their lives as Rupert's horsemen chased them down, slaying as many as they could as they fled back into the safety of their castle. Gerhardt followed them in retreat, and Rupert rode to the front of his men, hurling his helmet into the air as he shouted a cheer that his men soon echoed.

The young Count had faced his first flesh-and-blood battle and had survived to tell of its victory.


A Battle Won, A Throne Claimed
Castle Kaiserslauten, County of Worms

June 26, 944 AD

Compared to his home at Weinsberg, the throne room of the castle in Kaiserslauten felt much larger and befitting of a man of noble stature. Werner Salian had decorated the room lavishly, and it offered a larger throne and much more space to move around in. It was a beautiful room; Rupert regretted that Werner was not there to see his men occupy it. Instead of returning home to defend his castle, the coward had stayed in Wurzburg at the ducal palace while his men fought to repel Rupert's invasion.

The battle with Gerhardt outside of the castle had been a decisive victory, but it had taken time to force the final surrender of the castle's defenders. It took almost full year for the campaign to finally come to an end when the castle gates were lowered on the 26th of June in 944. Rupert had entered the castle to accept Gerhardt's surrender, and now he and his men stood in the throne room as Gerhardt and his remaining soldiers gathered their belongings to flee.

They had all been granted safe passage out of the realm in exchange for their surrender, with one exception: Bishop Wenzel.



Wenzel, badly bruised by the soldiers who had caught him attempting to escape, stood with his head bowed and his hands bound, flanked by two guards as he was brought before Rupert. The Count canted his head to the side and looked on the disgraced Bishop with a scowl.

"Not only have you practiced vile heresy in violation of your office in the Church," he spat, "But you then attempted to flee the castle by bribing your own soldiers with a promise of an indulgence for seeing you safely out? You are a coward among cowards, Wenzel... Divine law demands that you face justice."

The deposed Bishop cowered, shrinking away from Rupert as he spoke of justice, forcing the guards on either side of him to seize his arms to keep him standing in front of his captor. He shivered at their touch, and remained silent.

"Calm yourself, you pathetic, craven snake," Rupert growled as he sheathed his sword, "I have no intention of killing you myself. I will see you sent to Rome in chains so that His Holiness can deal with you as he sees fit. You ought to thank me... I have little doubt the Holy Father will give you a punishment far less severe than I would."

With that, Rupert stepped past Wenzel, walking toward the throne as the former Bishop was dragged out in the arms of his captors. Rupert stood at the throne, and he looked above to see the coat of arms of House Salian hung over it. He placed his foot on the throne and stepped up onto it, grabbing the banner and ripping down, sending it fluttering to the floor. He then descended from the throne and stepped on the banner with both feet, spreading the mud from his boots across it.

"Werner Salian," he said, raising his voice to carry through the throne room and out into the hall beyond it, "Was a coward unfit for his crown. He allowed apostasy to fester in his realm, and hid within his Duke's walls while his land was under attack. Such a man has no right to claim this throne, and so I will claim it in his place. On this day, I, Rupert von Zahren, lay claim to the throne of Worms in the name of God."

At that, Rupert's heart swelled and his hands trembled. He had been given a noble title less than a decade ago, and he had taken a great risk by mobilizing an army against a rival whose family clearly outranked his own. And yet, with a firm hand and the aid of Baldomar and Markward, he had overcome Werner's men and added the County of Worms to his holdings. Now with two counties ruled under its banner, the name of von Zahren would have to be spoken with that much more respect by his peers.

Step by step, Rupert's vision was becoming reality.
 
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mike the knight

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Rupert seems to learn quickly , it wont be too long till he is truly recognised as the rising star of the Imperial nobility
 
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stnylan

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Well he has made as loud a declaration as he can that he is not content to be a "mere" Count.
 
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HistoryDude

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Yes, Rupert is doing well.

Eventually, will his dynasty rule Germany?
 
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Das Heilige Römische Reich
The Holy Roman Empire

Otto Liudolfinger was crowned King of the Germans at Aachen in 936 AD following the death of his father, Henry the Fowler. From the beginning of his reign, Otto had grand designs for his kingdom's expansion; but before he could see to elevating the German kingdom to new heights, he first had to deal with keeping his own house in order.



Otto's half-brother Thankmar refused to bow to the new King's authority, and plotted against him by gathering a small coalition of nobles to organize a revolt against the crown. Thankmar enlisted the support of Eberhard, Duke of Franconia, and Otakar, Duke of Karnten in his scheme, and the three plotted to rise up in rebellion while Otto was away waging war against the Magyars. In November of 936, as Otto was leading his men into Magyar-controlled Austria, Thankmar and his allies declared their war against the crown.

Now forced to defend his flanks against his half-brother's treachery, Otto marched his men back from the front with the Magyars and dedicated his full military might to crushing the rebellion. It would take almost a full year for Otto to rein in Thankmar and his rebel dukes, during which several large battles were fought in central Franconia, with the largest one happening not far north from the von Zahren estate. In October of 937, the rebellion was finally defeated and Thankmar was executed in brutal fashion on his brother's orders. After Thankmar was hanged, drawn & quartered, Duke Eberhard was imprisoned in Magdeburg and died after contracting smallpox in the dungeon a short time later. Only Otakar was spared, and he returned to Karnten to continue to rule after pledging his renewed loyalty to Otto.

Unfortunately for Otto, his half-brother's uprising had severely delayed his previously successful campaign to capture the Duchy of Austria from the Magyars. By the time Otto was prepared to return to the battlefield, Italian missionaries sent by King Hugues of Italy had secured the conversion of Grand Prince Arpad Zolta to the Catholic faith. As the premise for Otto's invasion had been the liberation of the Catholic German population of Austria from pagan rule, his casus belli was no longer blessed by Pope Celestine II and Otto was forced to abandon the campaign and leave the rule of Austria to the Catholic crown of Hungary. Frustrated by his failed attempt to capture the duchy, Otto turned his attention to his other European neighbors in his quest for power.




Collectively dubbed "The Ottonian Campaign," a series of wars from 937 to 946 saw Otto set his sights on most of his largest neighbors in a decade-long undefeated campaign to bolster Germany's control over Europe. The first and largest of these was waged against Duke Giselbert of Lorraine, who was married to Otto's sister Geberga but a subject of King Louis IV of West Francia. Otto defeated Giselbert in spite of Louis' interference, and he split his territory into the separate duchies of Lower Lorraine and Upper Lorraine, given to Gottfried and Adalbert respectively, of the House Chatenois. Two years later in 940, Otto defeated Duke Boleslav of Bohemia, forcing the Duke to pay tribute to the German crown.

Otto would then go on to defeat King Rudolf II to establish Arles as a tributary to the kingdom as well, before he turned his efforts southward against Italy. King Hugues of Italy had been engaged in a years-long war to suppress the rebellious Duke Berengario of Ivrea, and the long-running war left the Italian king vulnerable to attack from the outside. Otto defeated Hugues' army soundly at Verona, and Hugues was forced to agree to pay tribute to Otto in exchange for peace. Hugues retained his role as King of Italy under his arrangement, but that title would soon be challenged by Otto thanks to the machinations of the Papacy just a few years later.




Count Premil of Istria, unhappy with Italy's submission to Germany, orchestrated a plot to convince Pope Stephen VIII to excommunicate Otto for the sin of fratricide over the execution of his half-brother Thankmar. Stephen, who held strong political sympathies toward the Italian crown, went along with the plot and declared Otto's excommunication in 946. When word reached Otto, he demanded that Hugues send soldiers to depose Stephen, but the Italian king refused to turn his army against the Church. Outraged by his defiance, Otto personally led his army into Italy and seized Rome in November of 947. He had Stephen tried for heresy and swiftly executed, then called for the election of a new Pope under his supervision. The chosen successor was consecrated Martinus II, and as his first official action as Pope he declared Otto's excommunication invalid and pledged his support.

Martinus preferred Otto over Hugues, and after some discussion between the two men, he agreed to personally crown Otto emperor in exchange for the guarantee of territorial sovereignty for the Papal States against the threat of ambitious Italian dukes.




On Christmas Day of 947 AD, Otto was crowned Holy Roman Emperor by Pope Martinus, claiming himself as the heir of Charlemagne's imperial authority. The title of King of Italy was retired, reducing Hugues to the Duke of Tuscany and a peer among all of the Italian dukes who would now serve as direct vassals of Otto. Otto would remain in Rome for several months, but he would eventually return to his home in Magdeburg to continue to rule the newly formed Holy Roman Empire from within the heart of Germany. Now, a new period of history for the German nation and for Europe and Christendom as a whole would begin.
 
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No standing freezing in the snow for Otto I see :)
 
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