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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TomZGen

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Introduction

Hello y'all and welcome to this AAR. It will be set in northern Italy, to be more precise Lombardy. I will be playing as the House d'Este with the following initial goals: form Italy and gain independence. But there will be some rules:

1) I will not marry Mathilda di Canossa. That is just too easy.
2) I will not suffer any Germans on my soil at any time, on penalty of imprisonment and banishment, no matter what my vassals think.
3) I, nor my heirs, will not marry any Germans.
4) Last but not least: I will apply that ancient maxim divide et impera. I will try to prevent a single German duke from becoming to powerful and I will mess with the Empire. But I will not do stupid things, I will strike when I am ready.

By now you might have guessed: this will be a roleplay with a dynasty that doesnt like Germans that much.

Table of contents

Alberto II d'Este, duke of Lombardy, 15 september 1066 - 3 december 1075
Prelude
Part 1

Ugo I d'Este, duke of Lombardy, 3 december 1075 - ?
Prelude

DISCLAIMER

Views expressed in this AAR are that of a fictional character and do not represent the views of the writer.
 
Last edited:

TomZGen

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Duke Alberto II d'Este of Lombardy
Prelude


My name is Alberto d'Este, second duke of Lombardy. I rule this quaint little duchy in northern Italy, beautifully situated just below the Alps and the Ticino river. A fertile land with a magnificent history, dating back to Roman times. A proud, Italian history.

adelberto_zpsb84257f1.jpg

But the times have changed since then. Ever since they shambled out of the forest, those barbarian Germans have given us Italians no end of problems. Except for that little incident at the Teutoburger Forest, we managed to keep them quiet for a good long while. But then the Empire fell.

fall_of_roman_empire_zps07a729ce.jpg

And the barbarians stirred. In their filthy cowhides they managed to expand over Gaul and Brittania, followed by the rise of Charlemagne, who was crowned Emperor. He divided his realm, leaving La Bella Italia in the hands of a German. And so it comes to pass that we are now ruled by those sausage eating, beer swigging German forest dwellers.

Conan1_zpsfd395c61.jpg

This will not do. The Italians must unite and throw of the yoke of the northern oppressor. But herein lies the problem. Northeast Italy is ruled by Germans. In the south and northwest the pretenders to the Latin culture, the Franks, Occitans and Normans, have fortified their rule. They claim to be latin, but I see them playing about with their horses like those godless lackies to the north of us.

To the east are the pretenders of our Empire. They have lost their way, claiming to be a Greek empire now. I will have nothing to do with them.

The only people I do like (besides the Italians ofcourse) are the Spaniards. They fight the war of God against the Muslem invaders in Hispania and must be aided.

But first, La Bella Italia must be restored. Divide et impera!
 
Last edited:

DensleyBlair

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What about your d'Orange AAR?

I'd imagine - or at least, I hope - TomZGen can cope with two at once. After all, if I can do it... ;)
 

TomZGen

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I'd imagine - or at least, I hope - TomZGen can cope with two at once. After all, if I can do it... ;)

Hehehe I can cope with both indeed, I just have shifting interests from time to time. You gotta diversify, otherwise things get stale, y'know?
 

TomZGen

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Duke Alberto II d'Este of Lombardy
Part 1


The task before me is gargantuan. Restoring the Italian kingdom while keeping the Germans distracted enough? The odds are against my House, but we will survive and grow. We will oust those pretenders to Imperial glory out of our lands, OUR lands!

But where to begin? To the east are the lands of the Veronians/Karinthians, who are powerful in terms of allies and men. Those Germans do love to breed. We will remedy that. But I digress, his lands are not an option at the moment.

We have de jure claims on lands in Brescia and Trent, but the former is held by the duchess of Tuscany, Mathilda di Canossa and the latter by the duke of Bavaria. I cannot handle them. Yet.

That leaves the west: there lie the counties of Monferrato and Saluzzo, whos rulers fawn to get into the German oppressor's good book. With no allies and small armies they are ripe for reëducation of Italian might. Perfect. My chancellor is send to procure the needed documents.

At the same time I plot to get a claim on the duchy of Verona through virtue of me holding lands in Padua. The of beer reaking Bertrand must be impopular, as I am gathering support quickly.

fabricate_claim_verona_zps34e80e8f.jpg

A message arrives that there is count plotting to get the duchy of Verona granted to a new ruler. A weakened Verona with me having a claim on it? Perfect. I join.

back_plot_verona_zpsb6c904c1.jpg

It wasn't hard for my chancillor to fabricate the claim on Monferrato. Many of the nobles are disgruntled about their liege being too germanofilic. But in the process a lot of gold had been spent, and I am bankrupt. War has to wait a couple of months.

When my lack of funds is finally resolved, I gather my levies and march west. The Monferratian troops don't stand a chance and are whiped out. The siege begins while that German-loving coward hides in his store rooms filled with that disgusting brew called beer.

And once more my chancillor proves his usefulness as ancient documents providing claim for me on Saluzzo are produced at a staggering rate, leaving me bankrupt once more.

In the mean while, the Occitan imposters and Italian nobles rise in unison against the barbarian Emperor. Fools. They are not strong enough, by far. I that 'Kaiser' as well, but I am not stupid, no sir! Yuck, just saying that perverted form of a noble title leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Ugo comes of age and marries an Italian noble woman from the south, Gaita di Salerno.

Monferrato falls and is annexed, its land given to trusted Italians. A few months later the same goes for Saluzzo and that county is given to my heir, Ugo.

In the wake of my glorious victories over the lackies of the sausage eaters, the count who plotted against the Veronian duke started the war to make this happen.

war_for_new_ruler_verona_zpsb84c9658.jpg

Now, what happened next was supposed to stay a secret. And I kept it a secret for a long time. My wife... she... errr... she is.... Frankish... Cough...

Anyway, a solution to this problem presented itself. For some reason, she was plotting to kill the count of Monferrato. Imprisonment it is. Not long after she dies in my dungeon.

wife_dead_zps83f6215c.jpg

Time to find a proper wife: Sigelgaita di Salerno, sister to Gaita di Salerno.

While I am busy putting down domestic fires, the war in Verona rages on. I send an army of 2200 strong to deal with some 550 Bavarians in the county of Verona. Ah, there is a messenger bringing me the news of Victory! ... What? ... WHAT? THEY LOST? *Furniture flies around the room*

Count Ubaldo is stirring up trouble as well, but with the war he cannot be dealt with, so is asked politely to end his shenanigans. He obliges willingly.

count_ubaldo_zps3d2e52e5.jpg

Ok, so 2200 men are not enough. How about 3300? How they must quiver in fear now! Send them to Mantua, where the barbarians are gathering under a Karinthian flag. They number merely 1800. See how they run in... Wait, those are my men... TRAITORS, COWARDS! I WILL *censored* WITH YOUR COUSINS TWICE REMOVED AND *censored* YOUR CHICKENS!

Luckily duke Bertrand dies, so his second son inherits Verona. Mission accomplished. There is now a new duke who holds but one title. Ripe for the picking. No time to waste.

My son... My beautiful son Ugo... Is dead... Someone murdered him! I know it! It were the Franks to get back at me imprisoning my wife. Those lousy snail eating cowards! I will get my revenge, or otherwise his brother will! Now I must go to console my granddaughter, who took over his lands, excuse me.

The duke of Verona has a lot of friends. His older brother helps out, the Bavarians and Swabians chip in too. But they are too weakened, and my army supported by mercs defeat their alliance in Mantua. Verona is mine, those cowhide wearing forest dwellers are beaten back.

claim_on_verona_war_zps5327b4c7.jpg

In celebration we create the duchy of Susa, increasing our duckal titles to three.

create_susa_zps1e58cd26.jpg

Italy is slowly being united.

lombardy_zps13ac448f.jpg

This save game was lost, see here.

Proper part 1 here.
 
Last edited:

DensleyBlair

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That was a very promising first update - I like the writing. You've got a sort of casual wit that make it really enjoyable to read.

I await more.
 

tnick0225

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Oooo :) the d'Estes fun dynasty to play in, sad Alberto has a German son by the name of Welf though :p

And you snagged up quite a few duchies already I must say.
 

TomZGen

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That was a very promising first update - I like the writing. You've got a sort of casual wit that make it really enjoyable to read.

I await more.

Thanks, that is what I aim for.

Oooo :) the d'Estes fun dynasty to play in, sad Alberto has a German son by the name of Welf though :p

Why do you think he's a bastard?

And you snagged up quite a few duchies already I must say.

I was mostly lucky with the claims on Monferrato and Saluzzo, having both by februari 1069.
 

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Well, I stumbled upon a little problem... I lost my save game... As I was only in chapter 1 part 1 I will do a restart, but it will go differently ofcourse.
 

TomZGen

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Sad news, especially due to the incredibly good luck you had with claims

Well... you won't believe it, but I got lucky again... Even more then I was in my previous game...
 

TomZGen

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Duke Alberto II d'Este of Lombardy
Part 1


The task before me is gargantuan. Restoring the Italian kingdom while keeping the Germans distracted enough? The odds are against my House, but we will survive and grow. We will oust those pretenders to Imperial glory out of our lands, OUR lands!

But where to begin? To the east are the lands of the Veronians/Karinthians, who are powerful in terms of allies and men. Those Germans do love to breed. We will remedy that. But I digress, his lands are not an option at the moment.

We have de jure claims on lands in Brescia and Trent, but the former is held by the duchess of Tuscany, Mathilda di Canossa and the latter by the duke of Bavaria. I cannot handle them. Yet.

That leaves the west: there lie the counties of Monferrato and Saluzzo, whos rulers fawn to get into the German oppressor's good book. With no allies and small armies they are ripe for reëducation of Italian might. Perfect. My chancellor is send to procure the needed documents.

At the same time I plot to get a claim on the duchy of Verona through virtue of me holding lands in Padua. The of beer reaking Bertrand must be impopular, as I am gathering support quickly.

fabricate_claim_verona_zps34e80e8f.jpg

A message arrives that there is count plotting to get the duchy of Verona granted to a new ruler. A weakened Verona with me having a claim on it? Perfect. I join. This plot grows quickly and to my great distaste the 'Kaiser' gets involved. Luckily he manages to get the duchy granted to a new ruler. Unfortunately, it was granted to another German. Bah. But I have a claim on it, so all will be set right soon.

new_ruler_zps95a0c283.jpg

It wasn't hard for my chancillor to fabricate the claim on Monferrato. Many of the nobles are disgruntled about their liege being too germanofilic. But in the process a lot of gold had been spent, and I am bankrupt. War has to wait a couple of months.

When my lack of funds is finally resolved, I gather my levies and march west. The Monferratian troops don't stand a chance and are whiped out. The siege begins while that German-loving coward hides in his store rooms filled with that disgusting brew called beer.

And once more my chancillor proves his usefulness as ancient documents providing claim for me on Saluzzo are produced at a staggering rate, leaving me bankrupt once more.

In the mean while, the Occitan imposters and Italian nobles rise in unison against the barbarian Emperor. Fools. They are not strong enough, by far. I that 'Kaiser' as well, but I am not stupid, no sir! Yuck, just saying that perverted form of a noble title leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth.

Ugo comes of age and marries an Italian noble woman from the south, Gaita di Salerno. He also asks if he could be chancellor, but I deemed it too dangerous so I declined.

Monferrato falls and is annexed, its land given to trusted Italians. Actually, to a distant kinsman of mine. He has a son, but he is not of our dynasty though. A few months later the same goes for Saluzzo and that county is given to my heir, Ugo.

The peasants have risen against me. How dare they! I am reïnstating La Bella Italia and they rebel against me? Ah marshall, you bring news? The rebels defeated? By whom? Bourgognian rebels... Well, that worked out fine then.

Now on to... Yes spymaster, what is it? What about my son Folco? He's dead? Comatose? No, no, this can't be... Search the court, there must be Germans around! There is one! Imprison the filthy beerguzzler!

dungeon_zps8d7cbeaf.jpg

Ok, that didn't make me more popular with my vassals, but it was immensely satisfying. What, there are more Germans at court? An infestation! Imprison them all!

I lost count, how many did we imprison? 4? Good, keep my court clean of this vermin. What? My vassals hate me now? I don't care, I don't suffer Germans at my court.

Back to foreign relations. In the south is a little republic called Bologna. They are ruled by plebs, so must be brought under proper aristocratic rule. My chancellor manages to bribe enough of their own ilk to allow me to attack them without impunity. Rally my troops and get ready to march! What do you mean detour? 3800 Tuscans in Cremona? Well, I guess we have to detour then yes.

Now that those plebs have been brought to heel, count Ubaldo deemed it an appropriate time to plot against me. Traitor! Put him in jail with the German swines. He refuses? Drag him out of his keep then? REBELLION? THAT FILTHY *censored*! I WILL *censored* WITH HIS COUSINS TWICE REMOVED AND *censored* HIS CHICKENS!

rebellion_zpsec7b4b3b.jpg

His troops are overwhelmed quickly in the face of my wrath and his holdings are seized. Too bad that forest barbarian in the north can't rule his lands properly, now I lack the power to revoke titles.

Ok, all quiet on the western front, lets turn our gaze east. Verona is still in wrong hands, time to remedy that. They have no allies, we have no allies. Fair fight I'd say. Their troops are dealt with easily and the siege of Verona starts. Oddly enough, we are helped by a powerful alliance vying the same title: the Karinthians, Bavarians and Swabians want the land as well, but are not hostile to me. With their help the county falls pretty quickly. They head north and I head south.

My body feels weird. My physician came to me today and told me I was getting old. Well ofcourse I was getting old. I threw my bedpan. It hit him, but unfortunately it was empty.

I can hear them talking in my chamber. They don't know it, but I am not dead yet. Apparently Mathilda died and now the rebellion is over. Her two infant sons have divided her territory between her. Interesting.

My son told me today the war in Verona was won. I now have two titles. That is good I suppose. I can't remember.

new_title_zpsbcb12a44.jpg

Some sly merchant convinced me to buy an inn. Apparently it is called the Mead Fountain and bards play there from time to time. As long as they are not German bards I am happy. Or was it Norman bards? I... I don't know. Where is my son Folco? I want to speak to him.

I am angry, very angry! Now what I am angry about again? Oh yes! Remember my kinsman who I made count of Monferrato? I barely do, but that is besides the point. When he died, his undynastic son took over, and now he claims to be a better ruler of Lombardy then me! Traitor! I will quarter him and feeds his entrails to the Germans in my prison!

ulti_1_zps6dd9a658.jpg

Yes marshall, I am done ranting against him. What? Who? When did I appoint that kinsman brother to rule in Padua? Oh yes ofcourse. Now what was it again? WHAT? The counts of Bologna and Grisons think HE is a better ruler then me? I will... I will... well, I can't remember what I will do to them, but I am sure it is gruesome!

ulti_2_zpsa32e5efa.jpg

Good news from that inn though. My steward sold the place for a hefty profit. Now I can buy a pink bunny. Or mercs, whatever my marshall wants. I prefer the bunny though.

I think the Franks are trying to poison me! Or is it the Germans? It's all so confusing. At any rate, I developed this nasty cough I can't get rid of.

I see my son standing beside me. There are tears in his eyes. Why? Everything feels at peace. Oh, what a shiny bright light, I think I will go towards it.

alberto_dead_zps3c7217bb.jpg




Note: Yes, I did recycle text and 1 screenshot as they were remarkably similar to what happened in the second game. They really start to split where the plot actually fired succesfully instead of ending in war.

The situation ended up almost the same, with 3 differences.

1) The county of Bologna is my vassal
2) Alberto died
3) The rebellion was inconclusive, with no titles revoked
 
Last edited:

DensleyBlair

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Can we have a vassal map please? I'd be interested to see your gains.

A very good 'first' update - as with last time, really enjoyable to read.
 

tnick0225

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Once again a nice start and this time Ugo survived! He killed the Kaiser in my game in battle :) Perhaps he will do the same for you.
 

TomZGen

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Can we have a vassal map please? I'd be interested to see your gains.

A very good 'first' update - as with last time, really enjoyable to read.

Aye, I am planning to add this in my prelude for Ugo, otherwise it would get a little repetitive.

Interesting start. :happy:

Thanks! Though I am sad I lost my first save game. I lost two battles there which left me gaping at the screen in astonishment, so it would have been cool to get revenge for those. Except for the rebellions this was kinda too easy. Luckily imprisoning all those Germans made my vassals thoroughly pissed, so things get a bit harder.

Once again a nice start and this time Ugo survived! He killed the Kaiser in my game in battle :) Perhaps he will do the same for you.

Heh, I don't think I will let Ugo near any battlefield. He is trained as a diplomat, not a warrior.
 
Last edited:

TomZGen

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Duke Ugo I d'Este of Lombardy
Prelude


My father is dead... I can't believe it, I thought he would live forever. It was a hard death, disease riddled and infirm. Now I, Ugo, first of my name, am duke of Lombardy. And I am not happy.

ugo_zps8e7d7590.jpg

At the end of the Alberto's reign several rebellions started. Count Oberto Pallavicini of Monferrato thought he was the true ruler, just because he is the son of my distant kinsman. And the counts of Grisons and Bologna think Oberto's uncle is. It's a mess. Luckily, my treasure is somewhat full and I have a large enough force to quell the rebellion.

rebels_zps2cedc81d.jpg

The county of Oberto is already under siege, so I don't think he will be a problem for long. And my mercs are heading to Bologna as we speak.

The real nasty kickback is that Oberto is at this moment my heir.

oberto_zpsf88c261f.jpg

I got two daughters, but under agnatic gavelkind they are not elligible. This must change, we cannot let the family lands fall into a cadet branch.

As you can see, my prestige isn't state of the art.

state_zps01c20258.jpg

This has something to do with my marriage. At the time we got betrothed she was the sister of the duke of Salerno. But he lost his lands to the Zirid Sultanate.

salerno_zps308da922.jpg

Thus I married a landless noble, netting me negative prestige. At least she is Italian. I thank my father for that, I wouldn't want to be married to some peasant girl from the north.

After a quick survey I discovered a very pissed vassal. Surprise, it is the previous duke of Verona, now relegated to two counties. He wants some of his former lackies back, but as he is... 'German' *shudder*, he won't get them.

olderic_zpsc63bf3fc.jpg

And so, with all these problems, my reign commences.
 

hamtastic

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Enjoyable. Hope to watch this more. Always fun to make the game harder for yourself by encouraging mass rebellions!
 

DensleyBlair

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Ugo's reign certainly looks to be an interesting one - you've made some nice setbacks to keep things lively.

And thanks for the vassal map. It was much appreciated :)