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Mar 28, 2007
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Preface

Since this is my first EU III AAR, I view it as an experiment – whether successful or futile remains to be seen. Certainly, it will be written with ‘training wheels on.’ Also, for me, European history of this epoch remains a fledgling interest– I am much more comfortable with ancient Rome or the American Civil War. So if I stray into gross historical inaccuracy, you will understand. The main thing for me is to have fun with the writing. I am also a comparative novice when it comes to EU III itself – although my initial foray as Portugal (vanilla) was pretty much a colonial cakewalk. This time, I am using the splendid Magna Mundi III mod (1.5), normal difficulty.

My goals:

 Develop landlocked Saxony into a powerful trading nation and ultimately, a trading empire;
 Maintain the integrity of her borders and expand them judiciously;
 Become Emperor-Elect of the HRE and ultimately gain the title of ‘King of the Romans’ by the hand of the Pope;
 Defend the political and religious integrity of the Holy Roman Empire (Saxony’s historical conversion to Protestantism may or may not take place), expanding its influence where possible;
 Unify the German nation under the enlightened leadership of Saxony;
 Disregard any temptation for early colonisation. We will remain focused on Europe and our relationships with European states.

The sweet song of empire beckons and much may be indeed be possible, even from minor landlocked dukedoms. Should we, like Odysseus, lash ourself to the mast and plug our ears? I think not. And so, we take up the chronicle of Saxony - whether it will be a long story or a short one is not for us to know. At least not yet.


SchlossMortizburg.jpg



Chapter One - Beginnings:

Future reader, let me introduce myself to you. My name is Luca Pitti of Venezia. This part of my diary - which I begin in early June of the Year 1453 - is written in my family’s secret code. The cipher is unbreakable. Therefore, I allow myself to be frank without fear of punishment or royal censure. Before my death, God willing, I will indicate to a trusted friend or relative where the key to the cipher can be found.

I have travelled far abroad in my life and have now washed up on the shores of a new kingdom, Saxony. ‘Washed up’ is of course a misnomer. My little joke. For this is a landlocked kingdom with not a seagull or a lighthouse to be seen. As I am adept at strategies to realise the competitive advantages of commerce, my advocates have secured me a most prestigious post. I have been retained to advise Saxony’s ruler himself – Friedrich II ‘The Gentle’ - on matters of trade. Truly, I am a most fortunate man in this always dangerous world.

How dangerous must appear obvious. Old certainties are dead. Constantinople’s walls have fallen, its defenders have perished. The 1,000-year-old Byzantine Empire is history and dust. The Ottoman Empire now comes knocking at the gates of Europe. And all around landlocked Saxony are powerful potential enemies: Brandenburg to the north, Austria to the south, Poland, Lithuania and Muscovy to the east, Burgundy and France to the west. How is a four-province Saxon state to survive in such a world? And I answer: with trade. And agile diplomacy. And luck. Our economy is not yet strong enough to support a military solution to Saxony’s plight. We must lay the bedrock first and that requires economic strength. For that, ultimately, we must expand north, to the sea. Because trade will underwrite Saxony’s future and trade without the sea is like the wind without the rain. This vision I have communicated to My King who is a man of reason if not one of great intellect. Friedrich II is no thinker. And unlike his father, Friedrich the Warlike, nor is he a fighter. He is, however, quite sensible to rational argument. At least I found him so.

FrederickIITheGentle.jpg


As a first step, I convinced the King to retain two other advisors, both giants in their respective fields. The first, Gilles Binchois, was a celebrated artist and thinker – his works would electrify, inspire and pacify Saxony’s growing merchant class. As for my second recommendation, Friedrich frankly thought me mad at first. Magnus Hamann was a renowned Naval Reformer, one of Europe’s foremost thinkers on naval technology and tactics. My King asked, why should landlocked Saxony hire a naval expert? My answer was simple: it would not be too long before Saxony’s shores were indeed lapped by the sea and when that day came, we would need a modern navy to protect our merchant fleets. In the interim, why let other nations enjoy the advantage of Hamann’s expertise?

Advisors.jpg


My advice could be summed up as follows: Saxony must expand to the north to reach the sea; Saxony must forge friendly relationships and marriages with strategic near neighbours while she develops her economic base; Saxony, in her present weakened state, must avoid costly military adventures and rely on diplomacy to win strategic territory if possible; within the HRE, Saxony must try to use its influence as an Elector to wrest the prestigious position of Emperor-Elect from Austria, our powerful and predatory rival to the south.

Naturally, I could only outline for My King the general tenets of my strategy – it would be for wiser tactical heads than myself to undertake the task. Fortunately, in July of 1454, a ‘Mastermind’ from Dresden literally knocked on our castle doors. I am pledged until death never to reveal his name but his brilliant scheming ensured that the opening stages of Saxony’s ascendancy would succeed along lines outlined above. Within the space of a year, Saxony had embarked on a series of overtures to its neighbours. The daughters of royalty were married off with unseemly haste to royal families in states such as Brandenburg, Anhalt, Bohemia, Austria, Hesse, Lubeck and the like. Gifts were sent in an effort to improve relations or assuage dangerous rivals. Many gifts. Sometimes they bore fruit. Often they did not.

The main diplomatic thrust, as mentioned, would be to the north. Anhalt and Brandenburg were the initial targets. Our aim would be to persuade them to join our kingdom as loyal vassels, cemented by royal marriage and alliance.

But on the 13th day of November 1454, in the midst of all this diplomatic largesse, our sovereign – may God rest his immortal soul – quite suddenly died. I was not in his presence but I am told that he clutched once at his chest and fell over never to awaken. My King was a good man and Saxony was in mourning for many weeks. I took a prominent role in the Regency Council that governed Saxony during the ensuing period until the King’s heir was deemed mature enough to take up his reign.

In January 1456, the first fruit of our diplomatic push to the north was realised. After many months of refusals and haggling, Brandenburg accepted the wisdom of our offer to join Greater Saxony as our loyal vassel.

BrandenburgVasseledit.jpg


All did not, of course, go precisely to plan. Anhalt continued to resist our attempts to entice her into vasseldom, despite a royal marriage, a solid alliance and many, many gifts. Lingering Hussite tensions caused some minor unrest in Meissen. Dangers also lurked just outside our borders, with prickly Bohemia – only a nominal friend – defending itself against the forces of Lithuania, led in a Personal Union by Poland. Greedy Austria, at the helm of the HRE, was fortunately preoccupied by wars in Hispania.

In May of 1457, Saxony’s stability was excellent. I deemed it appropriate to suggest a new type of National Idea, which I modestly termed ‘Shrewd Commerce’ to replace our current reliance on national conscription as an underlying philosophy. I carried the day in Council and despite an initial blow to national stability, the fruits of the policy began to bear fruit. Within months, our merchants – trained personally by myself - had secured three places in Europe’s most lucrative Centre of Trade, Vlaanderen. Within the space of a few years we would have five merchants there with others securing places in Venezia and Lubeck.

Then, on 17 September 1458, Saxony crowned a new king. And what a King he would be!

HenryIVakaFriedrAugustI.jpg


1458NewKingFrAugIedit.jpg



They say that Friedrich August I could charm the skin off a snake and having known the man, I am not one to argue with the assessment. He had no skill in warfare but his guile, his encyclopaedic memory, his wit and his humanity made him the consummate statesman and diplomat. He was also a superb administrator. As evidence of his skill, within four months of his accession, Anhalt finally accepted our invitation to become our vassal.
 
Last edited:

Garuda

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Well it didn't take you long to start gaining vassals. :)

Good luck with your first aar.
 

stnylan

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Smart move to neutralise Brandenberg like that. And indeed, a great new king there!
 

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*Subscribes*
 

WillT

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I've also just started a game as Saxony. It seems very similar to your game. I decided to focus diploannexing Anhalt and The Palitine (I know I didn't spell that right) first. Friedrich II died soon and I got a Regency Council. August I was an okay King whose reign lasted shorter than the Regency before him. After another Regeny, August II became King. He had ADM-8, MIL-3, DIP-7. He would become the Emperor and see a great age of expansion that lasted 20 years. I'm currently in a Regency after August II's reign. And I only need 2 more of the provinces needed to make the German State (one of remaining ones is my vassals land so it shouldn't be a problem to take). Good luke with your game!:D
 

unmerged(72879)

First Lieutenant
Mar 28, 2007
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The next decade would see Saxony further consolidate its trading strategy. To that end, I convinced My King to move our nation’s emphasis further toward mercantilism and away from free trade. In the long run, I felt that this would serve to encourage our trade efficiency, though admittedly at the expense of short term competitive advantage.

SliderSwMercantilism.jpg


On the diplomatic front, we continued to cultivate positive relations with our near neighbours and arranged royal marriages with some that were not so near, including Scotland, England, France, Sicily, Portugal and Spain. Several sources of frustration remained, however. Luneburg was one of them. It continued to reject our magnanimous offers of vasseldom despite the most positive relations (backed by an endless series of bribes).

LuneburgRejVasseldMar63.jpg


In fact, the drain on our Treasury from gifts to recalcitrant states like Luneburg accounted for much of our expense budget. I had encouraged Friedrich August to aim for zero inflation in our annual acounts and that meant there were no ducats to spare after fixed expenses. Indeed, we normally ran the place at a deficit. To be blunt, our military was a joke. At this time, I think we had only five-thousand men under arms. If anyone wanted to invade, we would be hard pressed to put up even a token show of resistance. For the moment, we counted on agile diplomacy to hold the wolves at bay while we tried to build our economic and trading potential. It was a risky strategy of which I was the author. If it failed….

The other source of immense frustration to the King was the coveted leadership of the Holy Roman Empire of which Saxony was an Elector. In early 1462, Friedrich August was most bitterly disappointed when Austria’s place as Emperor-Elect was taken over by Bavaria. My King had been privately hoping that he would be named, especially as Brandenburg, another Elector, had indicated that it would vote for him.

But this disappointment paled when compared to news that we would receive three years later, on 13 January 1465. A letter was delivered to the King by a courier. It bore the personal seal of the Emperor-Elect (who would not be known as true Emperor until crowned by the Pope). My King’s rage was volcanic after he read the tidings contained within. Bavaria’s place at the helm of the HRE had been taken by the Palatinate’s ruler, Friedrich I, who was now the Emperor-Elect. At this stage, I felt it prudent to retire to my chambers and take my dinner alone.

PalatinateHREJune65.jpg


My King’s black mood lasted for the entire year and beyond. In early 1466, his gloom was not helped by Brandenburg’s refusal to be diplomatically annexed. Luneburg, meanwhile, continued to refuse vasseldom. But by 1467, we had a new problem. Ironically, years of peace had ironically lowered our kingdom’s prestige. We were beginning to be seen as weak.

Prestige-6Sep67.jpg


Some Cabinet members felt that we needed to find a way for our troops to assert themselves. The problem was that we were virtually compelled to look beyond the borders of the HRE for this or face the very real wrath of the Emperor (note: Magna Mundi - as you will see, makes it much more difficult act aggressively toward other HRE states… unless of course you happen to be the Emperor yourself, in which case you have a bit more leeway).

Things started looking up with the new decade. A nice bit of bribery over an election netted us 80 ducats courtesy of Hesse. Part of these funds were used to start a workshop in our most productive province.

And on 8 June 1471, Anhalt finally saw the light and acceded to our request for annexation.

AnhaltAnnex8Jun71.jpg


A month later, Luneburg accepted vassaldom.

Things were definitely heading in the right direction. Until one day in February when the door to my library burst open and the King charged in, white as a ghost. In his hand, he held an opened letter. Friedrich August was nearly apoplectic with outrage. “It’s the Emperor…. He demands that we return Anhalt!”

EmperorEmbargo1472.jpg
 
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Markus III

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Very cool AAR, good luck with your monitor and keep going!

*Subscribed*
 

stnylan

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Just when things had started to look better!
 

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If I were you I would avoid those events if at all possible and just vassalize huge swaths of territory instead. But where’s the fun in that?
 

Woody Man

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Excellent start, real bugger about the Embargo! I'm really interested to see how you handle it..

*Subscribed*
 

Storey

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Just when it looked like smooth sailing ahead you hit a rock. :eek: If you select "He fights with money" what happens?

Joe
 

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Just what will happen for the two choices?
 

unmerged(72879)

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There was a long list of nasty economic effects from defying the Emperor, described under 'He Fights With Money'. Unfortunately, I neglected to take a screenshot of this sub-menu. But from memory, it boiled down to: all my provinces would be more or less economically gutted for varying periods of up to 2,000 days, I would face the likely expulsion of all my merchants from their lucrative positions in COT's (ouch!) and I would suffer - I think - a drop in reputation but a small rise in prestige. It might be the other way around on the latter point.

Returning the province would give me - I believe - a small rise in reputation but a drop in prestige. Could be wrong on that one. I saved the game just after the event came up.. and have yet to make my choice.

It's a difficult one. Saxony's long-term strategy is to gain access to the sea by eventually annexing - one way or the other - one of the northern coastal provinces. Anhalt is the first stepping stone to the north. If I defy the Emperor, Saxony faces possible economic ruin and a body-blow to its trade-centric policies. If I return the province, I am blocked from gaining key territory in Saxony's push to the sea. Of course, the King could just sack his faithful Venetian advisor and abandon any pretense of trade, build up the country's military and go for Land-Production-Military. But that would be a shame I think. The harder and more interesting path to me is to see if I can carry through with developing Saxony first as a trading empire. What do you guys think? I will take your advice on board in my decision.

Another option I neglected to mention is that if I return the province for now... I can redouble efforts in the meantime to get Saxony elected as Emperor of the HRE. If that can be achieved, I would then be free to annex Anhalt and possibly other provinces such as Luneburg, Brandenburg, etc without fear of economic embargo. I'm leaning toward returning the province I think.......

I can't access the game at the moment due to my PC monitor woes but am hoping to get a new monitor today if I can find one.
 
Last edited:

unmerged(17581)

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Wow that is quite severe! You're indeed stuck between a rock and a hard place.

Though two thousand days would be less than seven years? I would think that it would take more than seven years to recover territorially from the loss of Anhalt.
 

Woody Man

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Hmmm, I would,in light of your trading ambitions give back Ansbach, there'll always be more provinces to take I'm sure of it, and gutting your provinces and losing your merchants isn't handy at all.

Feel free to disregard though ;)
 

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Good time for me to catch up on some additional fb/fb:

To Garuda, Stynlan, Fulcrumvale, WillT, MarkusIII, Storey and others who have commented - many thanks for your attention and for your kind wishes. I'm very much enjoying the initial stages of the game and the AAR. I hope that you will continue to enjoy the narrative. Please feel free to offer any advice that strikes you as useful. I am happy to be an eternal beginner in most things.

As Magna Mundi adds a vast new dimension of Terra Incognita to an already complex game , I'm looking forward to continuing surprises, even the unpleasant ones such as an Emperor's embargo!
 

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The consequences of defying the Emperor would be dire. All of our provinces would be subject to economic blockade – in some cases – for up to 2,000 days. Our merchants would almost certainly be rendered uncompetitive and would face expulsion from their Centres of Trade. I saw my hopes of a Saxony trading empire in tatters were we to insist on retaining Anhalt. Thus, I hoped to convince the King to relent. It would not be an easy task. Friedrich August – despite his public face as an accomplished diplomat – had definite aims and regarded internal opposition as near heresy.

My King and I, together with other Council members, huddled amongst ourselves and debated our course of action. Some on the Council, notably our Naval Reformer, Magnus Hamman, argued for a change of course. Defy the Emperor, strengthen our military and take what Saxony needed by force. Poor Magnus. A brilliant thinker in his field but so naïve in the complex world of geo-politics. Such a course, I was convinced, would see Saxony’s dreams of empire in ruins and our relations with the HRE poisoned for decades to come.

My argument was reinforced by further tidings from the Emperor. They carried a grave threat to Saxony’s very existence.

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Friedrich was finally convinced. We would give back Anhalt and swallow our pride. And this we did. But I heard My King mutter as he retired to his chambers, “They may have Anhalt for now. But when I am elected Holy Roman Emperor, Anhalt, Brandenburg and more will become part of Saxony. It is our destiny!”

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The wisdom of our decision soon became evident. King Maximillian II of Bavaria was now the new Emperor. A prideful man indeed, he was greatly mollified by our return of Anhalt. In fact, our relations with all HRE states enjoyed a dramatic improvement.

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This in turn, greatly boosted My King’s prospects of becoming Emperor himself should the current Emperor die.

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Friedrich August, however, was still angry. And he rightly pointed out that gaining additonal territory for Saxony was now almost impossible within the current constraints of the HRE. Most HRE states already had other alliances and refused to entertain an offer from us. This made it impossible to vassalise them by diplomatic means. Also, Saxony’s military needed to gain experience in the field.

And so, the King and his Council agreed that a brief war against a weak opponent outside the HRE would assuage Saxony’s pride and improve its prestige, while gaining new territory and hopefully, a seaport. The chosen target was Bosnia. Its two provinces adjoined its ally Montenegro, which had a key port on the Adriatic. This would be our ultimate target. Our forces made ready while military access agreements with key states made it possible for our army to begin its march.

By late October in the year 1473, we were ready. Our smallish army of just six-thousand troops, most of them infantry, invaded Bosnia. They soon smashed that country’s paltry defending force and placed its fortress under siege. Our traitorous ally, Anspach, refused to support our incursion but faithful Brandenburg and Luneburg did so at once.

In January 1474 we received two offers of alliance, one from Castille, the other from – ironically – Anhalt. We rejected Castille’s overtures as she was far away from our concerns and likely to pull us into foreign adventures of which we wanted no part. We again allied ourselves with Anhalt, however, and awaited the day for its rightful return to Saxony.

In March, our troops won their first great victory. Bosnia’s defenders surrendered.

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Our army immediately invaded neighbouring Hum, laying siege to its fortress and brushing aside a relieving force sent by Bosnia.

In March, Anhalt accepted our offer to again become our vassal. The tides of nations are strange things……

By late January 1475, our forces were able to claim victory in the siege of Hum and Bosnia agreed to become our vassal.

The next move would be to invade and annex the important port province of Zeta, belonging to Montenegro.

Our plans to extend -- Narrative ends abruptly --

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