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NewbieOne

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We haven't heard from the Caliph in a while. It seems he's invading Syria. I really don't want to go there:



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I don't support offensive crusades for expansion, which is more or less how Syria came to the HRE, but I can't really sit around when Christian monarchs are getting hammered and Muslim ones rising through conquest. Our ancestors saw what a potent Caliph could do. It wasn't that far ago. First and foremost, the Kaiser really should be able to handle himself without help.

Here's some Byzantine warfare:



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Huge deployment, massive concurrent sieges at max supply, fastest possible finish, is the way to make sure the situation doesn't get out of control. Sometimes it still does anyway. So better minimise the opportunity.

Speaking of opportunity, I've caught my son misassessing his.



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Remember Terebovl? I had granted the county to the son and heir of the Count of Latgale in the lands of the Teutonic Order. The late count has just died:



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This means one county off the Hochmeister.

Shortly thereafter there is a parade:



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We looked dashing. Particularly when she slides from saddle right into my arms, which the Byzantines are keen to interpret as a sign of my political subjection, while the Poles see it quite the other way and the two of us just don't care, we're simply too tired. She still trusts me implicitly with her life despite all the differences.

Meanwhile my restless vassals go to war in Armenia:



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Leontia is still pleased with me, although the temperature is falling after the brief rise. It also turns out she's somehow been graded as a military commander. I have doubts about leaving her alone with the past in wars I disagreed with:



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My heart is warmed by news from Pinsk:



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But the Byzantine affairs will never let me forget them. The main stem of the Komnenoi, at least in terms of eldest-child descent via the daughters of Michael Komnenos (elder brother of Manuel, the founder of the "Piast" dukes all over Asia Minor), is dying out. This precludes some potential future marriages into the Polish royal line:



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The war I never did a thing in is over:



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And there's some more good news, from Alania and Karvuna:



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I receive some temporal recognition outside of any war really:



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Perhaps I should come to terms with the role of my dynasty as administrators and diplomats. And amateur theologians. But it's so hard when your ancestors have all been warriors. Better or worse strategists but always warriors. I've been in camp all over the eastern world myself.

I mentioned the Komnenos Piasts. Well, look at them. There's a strategic marriage going on. The new Duchess from Bulgaria and one of those dukes. Oh well, their ancestors actually ruled the land anyway:



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...But their claim to it is over, due to lack of pressing. What was I to do? Declare war on my own wife?



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Speaking of war, there is one I forgot:



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Vladimir, a powerful and historical capital of Rurikovich princes, has come back to the Catholic fold:



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Shortly thereafter I don't know what happens but my vassals appreciate my rule in a sweeping trend:



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Not all of them, though, which needs fixing:



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I basically return the Count of Terebovl under the Duchy of Galich's liegeance. The Duke is happy for this in its own right and also loses the reason for discontent. A double bonus to our relations.

On 30 April 1422 Uncle Dobieslaw dies:



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There goes one of the old 'founders', in terms of generations rather than personal merit, although he did serve his country in some important positions. He was born back when 'we' were still fighting the Hordes on expeditions without really knowing where that would go. So this symbolically marks the end of an era. I am so far disconnected from those times myself, born of a young woman my father married in his old age. My very own elder sister born of his first marriage was already grey and could have been my grandmother. That skipped a generation or two in an artificial way.
 
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The siege at Smolensk is going on nicely. If the barony only has several hundred defenders to man the walls, what about the city to follow. Those should fall soon. The Greek Duke of Galich (another Palaiologos, by the way) is handling the business:



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Kalojan is getting restless and getting close to hating me. He wants the control of the Kingdoms of Bulgaria and Greece. Hard to blame him about Bulgaria: his ancestors actually held it at some point. But Greece? Anyway, I can give him the liegeance of the County of Ani in his Duchy of Armenia. The current count is a child. His father was a distinguished commander but there's no reason to exempt the kid from normal feudal hierarchy.



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Moskva comes into union with the Holy Father:



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And the Duke of Galich inherits Adrianopolis. It passes into my realm. From my wife's. The politics aren't great for our marriage.



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Our joint heir is turning shy:



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And I need to declare another war in Abyssinia. There has been a shift on the throne, the current king is a minor.



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On 31 October 1422 my life is shattered. In the ensuing melee, I receive a terrible wound from the over sixty years old Christian burgher serving as mayor and spymaster for the possessed Tengri girl. I will live. For some time at least. But my health will never be the same and I'm less charming than before as a result. It is possible, even likely, that I will die within a couple of years.



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Soon thereafter she capitulates:



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Vasylko immediately reassumes the dukedom:



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And as King of Rus I declare her stripped of the Chernigov duchy, with a heavy heart as it was, after all, her birthright. I give the title to the current holder of the lands, a Bulgarian man of the house of Terter, relative both of Duke Kalojan of Karvuna and Armenia, and of the possessed Tengri girl. As far as I remember, he is the son of a daughter of the late Duchess Dobronega, whom my father once considered marrying.



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Two duchies down, she should stop accumulating prestige so fast, which should curb her ambitions. Also, less pretext to claim specific territories when opportunity arises, although she's still prone to declaring conquest wars. At the same time, however, she is now sufficiently small to be tackled by one of my dukes on his own intiative.

Meanwhile Podlasie converts:



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Yet another Palaiologos on the map is Nonna, the Queen of Sicily, an underaged relative of my wife's. And they have only just been allies in a war. There is some border friction and I need to support my wife:



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Speaking of my wife, her patience holds back her political and territorial ambitions that push her into a clash with the current geopolitical reality in which I hold many lands formerly belonging to the Byzantine empire and believed still to be within the empire of right. I do not contest the belief that of right they are under the empire but I don't invite administrators from Constantinople either. I wish she could simply be comforted by the fact that we have a joint heir who will rule all of it and that it doesn't matter anyway since she's the queen, by law actually and not mere right, of wherever my rule extends. I would even recognise her as the overlord if that made her happier, except I don't recognise her as the Empress formally, which is the beginning and source of all this trouble. My recent loss of attractiveness isn't helping either, although it is not a significant factor in comparison. She still remembers the wars I had refused to fight. Some of them I guess I could have helped her with, and should have. It pains me so much I hurt her trust. She trusted me like a puppy and I failed her.



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This marriage is really peculiar from the point of view of personal relationship and the reason of state.

The Caliph is winning in Syria, which is worrying but not yet decisive. I am not going to declare war:



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Speaking of war, the Byzantines somehow manage to hijack the command in Achaia, even despite their numerical inferiority:



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But it's their war anyway.

Another war which is not mine is one of the Komnenos Piasts. They go for what's left of Rum, which is the Emirate (Duchy) of Coloneia. By now believed to be more or less Rum's by right but used to be within the Kingdom of Greece under the Byzantine Empire:



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Soon dies Astorre and thus departs the first ruler who elected to become the vassal of our crowns, as Mayor of Galata, the Italian city within Constantinople. This also, in a sense, marks the end of an era, along with Dobieslaw's death but from a different angle. I will soon likely be parting this world myself anyway.



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The liberated Smolensk embraces the union:



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My other son gives me trouble too (some glutton):



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And the German count from Slupsk, whom I had installed there to make sure Kurzeme would pass from the Hochmeister's domain into our realm, revolts against my kinsman, the local duke. Who is not really a kind fellow but this is a bad precedent when it comes to my dynasty's right to rule. I look the other way.



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Rostislav Rurikovich has become more active about the reclamation of Russian lands:



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Around the half of October 1423 news reaches me that my wife has fallen ill:



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Not only is my life in question, now hers. It can be a rough time for our son if we both die.

The Rostov war ends just after it started:



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There are soon going to be more such wars than I can trace, with the size of my realms growing. I won't be able to manage everything personally.

Adrianopolis enters into union soon:



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But somehow the Duchy of Vidin has managed to stay independent of the Bulgarian crown and become ruled by a disunite duchess. We set about to do something about it:



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My relationship with Leontia slightly improves:



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Unfortunately, I have replaced the old chancellor and while the new one is more skilled in overall terms, he can't reach out to her successfully. There are no more joyful reports coming back from my envoys.



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We arrange appropriate marriages to unite the Russian lands:



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And in November there is a breakthrough in my marriage anyway:



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She has forgiven the past even as she still cannot get over the territorial changes in the modern world. I cannot blame her. But we are both too close to death to think about such things. The good news makes me energised and I fight with more vigour (despite my ever constant lack of any remarkable skill):



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Unfortunately, I cannot be at her bedside, as I need to fight some wars for her. Anyway, Novgorod, another important Russian centre, comes back to the fold:



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So does the recently wrested Chernigov:



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And the Bagrationi dynasty gets a real heir finally:



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Things being quieter now, I can finally turn my attention to the Hochmeister, who had invaded under a false premise the County of Philippopolis, belonging previously to a former courtier of mine.



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NewbieOne

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He had so much before him, so much yet to do. Wars to win, countries to build and cement and lead to glory, a marriage to recover and enjoy. Only 36 years of age and, judging by his father and his father's father, that was barely the starting age of a brilliant career. But he died in a minor battle where he got caught up en route to the front back in the homeland. Nobody even knew he was here. Apparently, he insisted on commanding in person.



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'Don't worry, young boy,' the heavily accented Scottish voice of the red-headed steward tried to be as stable and comforting as possible but far clear of any counterproductive softness. 'I will get you through this.' It didn't make any point to come up with 'Majesties' and bows and kneeling and oaths. The less of that stuff in his ripe age, the better for his sanity. He ruffled his hair instead with a gloved hand. 'You may wonder how I'm so sure saying this but I'm telling you, if you knew how to survive off that piece of a rock they call my father's barony, you'd know how to keep hold of a kingdom.' His squeaking optimism was contagious. Malise de Abernethy, Steward of Poland, became the regent.



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'This will sound strange to you but we need to discuss succession. Your general heir is obviously your brother Przybor. But for some reason known only to lawyers, it seems your lady mother is the heir to the Polish kingdom with everything there is in in the royal demesne. Don't ask me how.'



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'The battle where your dad the King died is still going on. But our armies are already filing into the Hochmeister's bedchamber. If there's anything I learnt from your father, it is how you get through a war fast:'



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'Ralph of Aswan is going to be trouble. English scum. ...Eh, never mind me actually. Old stories. Anyway, we gotta deal with him. I suggest the usual: court titles, gifts, inevitable donations. Whatever you need to part with you had better part with soon but don't give away land you can keep. We will need income. Oh well, I will handle this for you, we just need your signature because I can't really order dukes around. At least not when it comes to this type of stuff. ...And prepare yourself. I've got some news coming.'

On 8 May 1425 the news was confirmed:



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So started the reign of King Mszczuj dubbed FitzEmpress. His name was an old one and associated with vengeance. He would avenge his father but not in a cheap way, degrading into rage and making heads fall. He would carry his father's work forward as well as if he had not died. Leontia never remarried, although she would outlive him by a fair margin, reaching the years of Berta Orsini when the latter died. The women had something in common, other than both being queens of Poland.
 
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[OOC Comment: I reloaded but he kept dying on me. I eventually realised it must have been determined by the maiming wound in the Chernigov war, which would have been far to rewind. Various things happened, some of them good, some not. I reloaded and reloaded and finally I went back to the first save (I think) when he died. In one of the abandoned later saves, he had patched up his relationship with Leontia and her opinion of him went high up to 95. He was doing well. But eventually died anyway or something else happened. Probably the random way in which the game puts the king in command of a levy regiment somewhere on the map, the first you call from your demesne or something along these lines. So I decided it would be too artificial to keep him alive, given how hard it was, and I reloaded. In hindsight, that might have been a mistake. Especially after seeing how the marriage of the two got better, then reloading to the point before that happened. I really wasn't happy with it.]
 

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The FitzEmpress

My first problem is Ralph of Aswan:



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Now he seems to be family. While he's depressed and bedridden and has never been impressive physically anyway, other than a handsome face, the bookish young de Vere is still Brave. And Ambitious. And opposed perhaps not even to my policies, as I am not even sure I have any, but rather to my rule. Or possibly any rule above his own. However, he is not an indigenous ruler. He is very clearly an appointed vassal, a lieutenant, a fief holder, and he's not going to become independent.

As of 8 May 1425 the Teutonic front up in Warmia and Masuria looks thus:



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We follow the Wieslaw-Doman doctrine, the same that has carried us through Crimea and Damietta. We set up sieges with maximum supportable forces, which discourages the enemy from combat. We can thus hope to end the war without unnecessary casualties, even for the enemy. The less bloodshed the better. This characteristic dislike of bloodshed, possibly coupled with an ever present hint of a troubled conscience, is something I seem to have inherited from the previous Piasts. I am not yet making the decisions but I am already made aware of things as they go and have a voice in deciding. My councillors have decided that the sooner I become informed, at the cost of my remaining childhood, the better for the future. Which, at this moment, is relatively unpredictable. Soon I will need to take responsibility for every life that ends. In a way I already carry it now, as things are done in my name and I am the earthly source of the authority of people who act and decide.



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I decided to keep my younger brother (and current heir) in family. Uncle Borzyslaw is a rather worldly man but not a bad person, or untalented.



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Soon Ralph issues the predictable declaration of war. I am not exactly happy, although in the end I might be able to take care of him in a more decisive way as a result.



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Also mum wants me to go to her war against our cousin Nonna of Sicily.



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Your Imperial Majesty,

We are raising troops as per your notice. Please take cognisance of our intention to end the war in the promptest manner possible.

Your humble servant,

Abernethy (Younger)


And something is happening in Abkhazia. The current Davit, whatever his number, is in arms. We have war all over the place and so do our vassals. Asia Minor is balkanised (the blue shield is Karvuna and the boat is Cherson or some other Greek vassal of mine; the green is the Ilkhanate and the green and orange is what's left of Rum).



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That old fox Mongke is certainly worth a three hundred (which is half a barony or a bit less) to keep him quiet. I wonder how many kings he has survived by now.



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At my age I already have to deal with murder:



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No wonder my father didn't have the best opinion of his courtiers and Wladyslaw wanted to resign. Or was it Wieslaw. Or both. He was on the verge of reducing himself to a king of Cyprus on two counties but they would have eaten him up the moment he'd done it.

Not all courtiers are bad, though. My council team is quite capable and I trust them all:



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Ralph has dragged his mum into the fray:



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I wonder if mine would come. I can deal with Ralph anyway. As long as it doesn't protract. We don't need many more wars right now. One or two could be too much.

Ioseph, whom my father made the power in Ruthenia, is being malcontent. I should have a different situation with him than my father did. We are remote cousins actually. I am a matrilineal Palaiologos, as hard as this is to believe. Especially in light of Poland's long-term, stable foreign policy. I'm technically the heir of a crown I don't recognise. Anyway, Ioseph is not violent, he's just being in a bad mood. This doesn't need a forcible solution. No more wars if this can be helped. Perhaps he will turn around.



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For similar reasons I need to remake a strong Duchy of Pomeralia I simply cannot hold too much directly and I cannot exceed the limit just to keep Pomeralia in line. I move the Count of Danzig under the Duke:



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This should allow me to stop worrying about both. I do it personally. Malise is already in a tenacious position with the royal dukes.

Speaking of which, my Mallorcan aunt plots to undermine my reign.



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'Your Majesty,' the deep but soft and considerate voice of the German knight awoke the juvenile king from a state of half slumber. It partly bellowed, partly hummed in his head for a while. The boy's hand froze, holding a carved wooden queen in mid air. Adolf of Limburg briefly analysed the situation for the other side of the chessboard. He made three experienced moves, engaging the royal stripling in a new situation that was meant to expand his limits, a new task. He did not envy the boy. Soon he would have a kingdom to move very much like those pieces. The scratchy elk-gloved touch of the older man's hand proved comforting as he guided the young king's hand in making a quick and decisive counter. He did not bother explaining. That was not important. The boy would have it figured out soon enough on his own.
'I'm afraid it's your aunt,' Adolf was considerate and for the first time ever so slightly hesitant. Perhaps a little apologetic.
'What is it? She wants to murder somebody?' he wasn't entirely certain which aunt it was yet but this did not seem to have much influence on the conversation.
'No. She's plotting, scheming. Politically. Against your power,' he was almost sorry to do that to the wee sovereign but he had to tell him. But he was playing it well. It was very important not to let his voice break, so as not to infect the young one with a defeatist mood. He always reminded himself. He provided a warm, reassuring presence. While dealing with the information side of running the realm, he was no cloak and dagger type himself but a proper no-nonsense knight in a steel helmet, always wearing some chainmail. His voice rarely conveyed a worry.
'I see. Is there no way she can just be nice? She's my aunt after all?' that was a rhetorical question. He was a bit too old to hang on that level for too long.
'No, I'm afraid not. I think we will need to write a letter.' There was much hoping that the boy could be led to solve problems by writing or otherwise talking, the way the previous kings did.
'Let's get some paper,' the child rose, glancing at the chessboard with brief regret.


In August the Sicilian war was concluded.



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Immediately, however, mother wanted me to go another one with the mayor of Methone. That was just a mayor, did not seem to be anything big. The cost of declining would have been high. But I wondered how come she couldn't deal on her own with just one mayor.



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Mum. Why is my mum in a far-off land anyway?

People are evil. Well, not exactly evil, but the world is a gloomy place.



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We had a violent disagreement with my guardian. Apparently, the law doesn't protect a king from a tutor. While I mind the shaking and screaming, it's a good thing he was able to explain to me that at least the priests aren't all bad and probably some noblemen as well. I guess I was having a difficult time.



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My soldiers have it worse. They have to plough through the desert to get to Aswan, only to die there for some of them. I hope they manage to join the forces in time before the compact and concentrated army of Ralph gets at them.



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I am half Greek. And my father was half Ruthenian, which was not even really Ruthenian but largely Czech. And his father has half Italian. But I decide to stay Polish. This said, I do seem to have Roman blood on both sides of Rome, from the Palaiologoi and from the Orsini. I wonder if Berta Orsini was anything like my mother. She died seventy years ago, so I doubt there is anyone alive who still remembers her. But I figure they might be similar.



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NewbieOne

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[OOC: I'm sorry for making you wait so long, especially after letting you know that the game was already finished but waiting for a wrap-up. I have about eight hundred screenshots to process but only twenty-eight game years to go, so I will have to make some choices but I expect a couple of instalments to follow, it won't be one or two. Meanwhile I would like to ask you to help me think about a new game for a new AAR. Because I am definitely not gone from the scene when this is over. I might take a game for myself in private, perhaps as an insignificant count to see how it is to have a vassal (Vaclav of Bohemia didn't really count in this game) and to destress. But I would like to write something new. Would you rather see me take the helm of a specific historical dynasty or someone at the bottom of the feudal ladder, or both? Or would you rather have me show you a different period and a different situation of Poland? Did you appreciate my historical sorties more or my creative insets? Would you like action or would you like atmosphere? Decide basing on this AAR. It should give you the best idea of what things I can do better than others. I value your input and, besides, I just might be a little too undecided, so why don't you have some influence on where the new AAR goes. Thank you for staying with me. I will try to make a couple of posts throughout Sunday tomorrow.]
 

NewbieOne

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I will need a wife in three years (so now it's fiancée). Guess who:



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She's not a pleasant person by any means but who says life is supposed to be pleasant. At least the children will not be foreign vassals. The kingdom is within the de iure Byzantine Empire, which I or my successors will inherit anyway. She's 17 while I'm 13 but that's normal in my family.

It seems it will have a prestige effect for me:



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She accepts:



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Athenes, the home of philosophers, turn Catholic:



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Ioseph is out and leading troops under marshal Manfred. I don't know how he does it but he manages to kill about sixty light horsemen for ten heavy infantry. I guess he's quite resourceful. Not top level command material but useful. While here up north Marienburg, the historical capital of the Teutonic Order falls, Old Manfred, the once victor of the Teutonic Knights gives Ralph a solid beating:



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But a different Manfred dies at the camp:



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The Gryphites (Gryfitas) are a formerly polonised now German-leaning family that rules Pomerania or whatever's left of it in their hands. As you may remember from the previous kings' writings, there was much hoping to bring them to Polish fold. Some of the members of the family happily cooperated with the initiative. But it never worked out. There goes a younger generation. There might not be many left in my court, if any.

The news from Bulgaria is that we are winning against the Teutonic Order there:



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While at Bulgaria, there is need to settle down Kalojan a bit. He's the scion of the old kings of the land and I can't really blame him for wanting the crown. The Terters did nothing to regain the kingdom from the Mongols but they had not given it up to them too willingly either. They were reduced to counts of Mesembria and eventually (re?)appropriated the title of Duke of Karvuna that was given to Doman Piast by Wieslaw of Poland, my great-grandfather, the husband of Berta Orsini, the other Roman woman in my bloodline. I don't want to have to fight Kalojan. Perhaps, if I become the Basileus, I should give the crown of Bulgaria to him.



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I send a gift to Tesfaye 'Piast' in Abyssinia. I may need his help with Nubia. It's so far away from our other holdings and so close to his.



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I ask mum to join my wars and help me out a bit, if only as moral support:



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Well, she won't:



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But that's fine, we can manage. If you're interested in the northern part of the Teutonic theatre, it looks like this (as of 23 April 1426):



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Four days later the mayor of Methone capitulates:



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Leaves us with 'only' two wars: Ralph and the Teutonic Knights.

Speaking of which, Ralph is basically under siege right now:



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And I really wonder wherever those ten thousand Abyssinians are going. We should probably make use of the opportunity to arrange some marriages between the nobles as we can't possibly be related to them other than through Piasts.

Well, one thing is sure: they aren't going to help us:



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Teutonic Knights have become balkanised too. They're also losing thoroughly in the south theatre. This isn't really unexpected, the difference in potentials was vast. They could only hope for good alliance for them or bad wars for us. The war still claimed the life of my father, who possibly engaged too much resource to take back but one county. But did he have any other choice?



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Here is my sister, Helena of Greece:



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Ironically, she's not really pretty. But I love her all the same. I have no idea how she's managed to become Orthodox. Both mum and dad were Catholic. Well, mum still is. She just doesn't see me often. She probably can't, anyway.

(The blue shields are Kalojan sending troops over to Armenia.)

We need to marry Helena to someone. Do we marry her to Tesfaye?



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No, not really. We go for the Duke of Alsace. Maybe it's a mistake:



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As of 15 July 1426, the Teutonic Knights are definitely losing:



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If you'd like a larger view of the map, here is one:



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Hungary is pretty much intact, as is the Holy Roman Empire, which has grown in size, unfortunately taking half of Bohemia, the other half being torn between the rightful kings, now the bastard line of Opavan Premyslids formerly of Moravia, which is now the core of the kingdom, and the Kingdom of Jerusalem, which is the now-independent remnant of the once formidable power of House van Nassau, from which came Kaiser Walram of old, who had taken Bohemia county by county, to the regret of my ancestors. Most Ruthenian and Russian dukes are with us, while Vitebsk is independent under an offshot of the Bohemian royal house.

My troubles with the dukes are neverending. Now Rostislav, the mighty duke of Turov, who is actually the duke of Vladimir and about a half of the Kingdom of Rus, by now well advanced in years:



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Bertalan is another Terter. The branch who managed to intermarry with the Rurikovich ruling family of Chernigov. They seemed logical candidates for those lands to my father:



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What is worse, I have a falling out with Malise, my regent:



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In November (10 November 1426) the Hochmeister is willing to talk and I am willing to listen:



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The war is won and Ioseph is going to be inspired to gratitude for a long time. So the war which cost my father his life has concluded. There is now only one war remaining: the one with Ralph of Aswan.



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My mother, the Empress, has apparently gone to holy war against the Khagan for Crimea. According to rumours say she rides to battle with fearlessness that seems like apathy to some and she recalls my father a lot. She actually leads her troops in person and leads the ranks, they say. An unhappy woman in golden armour, with first silver on her hair.



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Can't I just play my chess? Can't I have my mum like any other child? Can't Malise be my uncle and just read books with me?



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Apparently not. My Spanish guardian has me shake off the last counterattacks of a repressed childhood:



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I don't even know what happened to Adolf. I don't have anybody to play chess with now. The new spymaster is the Duke of Volhynia, somewhat strange job for a man of his position, and he seems not to like me much or so I imagine:



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Obviously, it's my aunt again, and I write to her again. I hope I will not have to employ harsher measures at some point. Shouldn't an aunt be friendly? She's already a duchess, what else does she want?



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I don't know how he did it but Marshal Manfred managed to get me out of the palace. I guess his words have some sway. He has adopted a particularly no-nonsense attitude since coming back from Aswan. Something must have changed in him. Nobody really wants to oppose him now, and there is little chance anyway. Not that he's turned evil by any means. It's something different. We rode out and he showed me the tents and the soldiers. And he showed me their worn armours and their dented blades. He showed me the food they eat, the bedrolls they slept on. It was not a life I had at the palace. I had suspected that much but never had a real brush with it. Until now. He started talking.
'I need your help now,' he said.
'You? Mine?' I replied. 'What could I possibly help you with?'
'Money, obviously' he shot back. 'But it's not about money. It's about what you see. The squalor, the wear, the bugs, the lack of appropriate training. Some things have fallen apart since we last had a king ride with us. I can't get anything out of the pencil pushers and the bean counters. I need your word there?'
'But... but I'm not reigning yet.'
'You are, you are just not governing. And if they aren't going to listen to you, they aren't going to listen to anyone,' the Marshal steadied his horse and looked over his harm. I caught up with him. 'Your opinion does matter and it's high time it started to matter more.'
We rode towards the tents of the common soldiery. 'Here,' he said. 'Put on the armour.' He threw me a simple footman's mail. 'Take the shield.' He unsheathed his sword. 'Guard yourself.'
'It's heavy!' I said. 'And bulky. I can't move.' It was nothing like the nobles had, who passed through the palace quarters.
'Yes, it is. And I know how to make it lighter without losing the protectiveness. But they won't give me the gold to put the knowledge to use. And these lads here,' he circled around with his sword and puffed and blew, as he tired more when speaking than he did when fighting, 'they can die. They don't go to Milanese smiths, you know.'
'I'll get it for you,' I said.
'Not for me, for them.'
'For them.'
'Good. Now boy, let me show you something.'
I was sweating and stinking when we finally came back and I don't know how Manfred did it but nobody said a word about it.



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Several days later.

'Thank you, boy,' he walked in without in knocking.
I raised my head. He wasn't particularly rude and I wasn't particularly confident.
'We are starting a new stage in your education today. And if those pheasant-eating silk-wearing soft-headed idiots have anything to say about it, I'm going to bring your mother in. And yes, she approves. She wants you to become a man like your father was.'
'She said that?'
'Yes she did.'
'Have you...'
'Yes, I was. Why did you think it took me so long from the darn desert.'
'Does she really...'
'Yes, she does all those things and more.'
'She didn't help me with our wars.'
'Maybe because she has an empire to keep, and that is not easy. Especially if you're female. She's keeping it for you. Or maybe because... because...' the old Marshal's voice actually failed him.
'Because what?' I quizzed him.
'Because she's losing it.' He sighed.
'She's what?' I gasped in disbelief.
'They say she acts as if she doesn't have much left to live for. Even that she has a death wish. All this talk about riding in the first ranks, leading ferocious assaults, you see, it does have a certain meaning.'
'She has me.'
'She believes you'll do fine. And like I say, she's losing it. There isn't much contact with her these days any more. Don't worry, lad, at any rate,' he let his heavy hand land on my back. 'You will have a mother to remember. She's still in charge anyway.'
'But you said...'
'She's still tougher than most men in her position. And smarter. Her troops would walk to Damietta on foot for her. No silly senator can compete. She's safer at the camp and even on the battlefied than she would be in the capital. Someone weaker would have already died a gruesome death or been locked up in some bad all-forsaken place. She's a warrior. Better than most kings I've seen at the job. Including your father, I think.'
'My father...'
'...Your father had other talents and other merits. Besides, he took a barbed pike through his chest while defending simple villagers from a raiding party.'
'You were there?'
'No. Unfortunately not.' His head sank low. But he shook it off. 'By I know the story. It goes around. He carried on until the chaplain came. They supposedly talked some theology for a couple of minutes. You would need to ask him.'

Some days later Uncle Prendota died and Masovia lost a good duke:



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It seems I might die too:



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But I have to carry on, even though it's my council shouldering most of the responsibility anyway until I fully come of age. Meanwhile, here's a map of the religious composition of my peoples and the neighbouring ones:



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Back south Kalojan, being now the Duke of Armenia, decides to declare a holy war on Edessa, which used to be a crusader stronghold back in 12th century.



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Ralph's army actually seems to have managed to travel through Palestine and Syria to lay siege to fortresses Kalojan holds under me in Armenia, only to walk into the hostile troops of the Sheikh of Edessa, which come in superior numbers. The war for the remainder of Rum isn't going well. The Rumites have retaken Koloneia, while Charsianon levies are still trying to regain control of the holdings they were supposed to protect. Ilkhanate troops have shown up near Theodosiopolis for the first time in a long time and Manfred and I are marching our own royal troops into the region, at least after we deal with the rebellion in north Thessaly. My mother seems to be doing well and Kalojan of Kurvan and Armenia seems to be recruiting. So does the Caliph, which might be a worse type of news.

In August, nine thousand men from the Duchess of Lorraine ride into Silesia. I mobilise Poland proper to answer the threat.



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By September, the situation down south is taking a markedly bad shape for Ralph:



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...and there is only hoping that the Caliph's troops are not gathering to move in. But given the large stack from the Kingdom of Jerusalem we saw in Asia Minor, there is probably a war on that front rather. Could always also be the Holy Roman Empire, which has moved its capital to Syria.

And here's another map, this time more political. As you can see, it's basically Poland and the Timurids, although my mother is also not giving ground, in fact, being on the offensive.



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In November a strange man comes to the gates, claiming to be a medic from far off lands, sent by mother, and the chancellor, my guardian Enrique, says the seal, the ring and even the handwriting is impeccable. And yes, I got a letter. And a flock of her hair to keep. It was the same raven black but with some noticeable grey strands in it. She regretted she could not come and stay to see me grow up and reach my man years but very much considered herself the queen of this kingdom too, not only her own, and said I was always welcome to visit her. Her hand was steady, the letters were as proper as they could be.



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I feel all right now. Just somewhat weak, but it'll be fine in a couple of days. Manfred says he's waiting.
 
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NewbieOne

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In January, the Lorrainian commanders didn't know what him them (or on which side). They didn't know much in general, either:



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On 18 January 1428 I offically come of age and theoretically assume full powers. In practice not that much does actually change, since I've already been participating a lot and on the other hand I don't have nowhere near the experience of the guys who have been running the show for me. I reassure them they keep going going as usual, although there will be more and more royal meddling to put up with:



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So Poland has a fully fledged king again. Well, not really, but I get my official adult portrait:



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I also send envoys to Sicily:



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A while before Manfred assured me that even a woman with few objectively good qualities to talk about can actually be somewhat agreeable and Malise confirmed. 'There is no hard and fast rule,' they said. I didn't want to talk to my guardian Enrique for obvious reasons but he found me anyway. 'At least she's attractive,' he said. 'You'll be less tempted to chase skirts.' Sigh. People change the way they talk to you when you accomplish the last birthday of your childhood. Talking is about the only thing I see to be good about. Nothing really came out of the martial training intended by Manfred and I'm not a particularly adept administrator or schemer, either. In fact, while I'm still decent at chess, I'm no more of a scholar than my grandfather Wladyslaw. Almost all bishops are smarter.

Anyway, she says yes:



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We don't collect Royal Aid. I don't think it has ever been since 13th century:



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And I was wrong about Ralph's army. It somehow managed to strike a deal with the Saracens and they've joined ranks. Actually, it kind of looks like Ralph is personally leading a neutral Saracen army having beef with one of my vassals:



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Whatever. My forces are marching in.

Mum finally has a rebellion on her hands:



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She's my mother, whereas the rebel is the more senior Palaiologos heir, of the deposed imperial line. And the 'Piast' surnamed Komnenoi heirs are the heirs of the previous emperors from before the misfortunate 1204 crusade, who had ruled in Trebisond, falled and been reinstated by King Wieslaw. They are my vassals now. While they bring no claims, they must be conscious of their heritage. I really hope I don't need to get involved.

But I may have to. Things aren't looking good for mum:



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In May, Ralph's situations is basically beyond repair in human terms:



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Soon Elefantina and Dongola fall and as June, the war is 71% in our favour:



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Meanwhile, I get the first opportunity to put my talking skills to use. I explain to Kalojan (of Karvuna and Armenia and a couple more) why I still can't let Duchess Penka out of prison. I am not exactly happy for her to spend most years of her life behind the bars but I did not choose her political decisions. Nor did my father.

In August falls Gazali and Ralph is at -83%.

By November it shows my mother will hold on. She's leading her Crimean army through the mountains of Georgia itself, while another, fresh army is raised and moving from the opposite, south-west corner of the empire. It seems Empress Leontia is unbreakable.



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Rumour has it she doesn't talk much to anybody any more. She seems to live in saddle like an eastern khagan. So much for an empress of Rome.

The rebellion is joined by the Duchess of Epirus with her ten thousand army, and the Ecumenical Patriarch:



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Meanwhile I send reinforcements down to Nubia. I want that war over the fastest possible and I'm not in any way put at ease by all those Muslim stacks mobilising there.



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Here's another map, for the record:



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In early 1429, Ralph attempts to retake his namesake holding at Aswan but, long story short, it doesn't work:



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Meanwhile, Galatia in Asia Minor turns Catholic. The last conversion was Beresty in Volhynia (no picture):



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No, sorry, Tver seems to convert about the same time as Galatia but a little sooner:



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Beresty was a longer while ago.

Finally, it turns out the Muslim stacks in the region are not in any way loyal to the Caliph but rather the opposite. It won't be solved any time soon, so I will be able to reincorporate Ralph undisturbed:



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And Duchess Penka's husband dies in prison. Poor young Ivan II. He will be the ruler of large swaths of Bulgaria and Greece but the start of his life looks like a nightmare.



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NewbieOne

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Ambitions

For the record, the prison in which the late Duke of Charsianon died was not mine. He languished in the dungeons of the Sultan of Rum, who, ironically, was a relatively minor landholder compared to the Duke. But the rump state still commands the loyalty of a large band of merceneries bound to the person of the ruler.

I need to think about my goals in life. Growing up in the very centres of power, I have been thoroughly disappointed with politics and the ignoble affairs of those of noble birth. I want to become holy:



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While I'm not exactly a saint, I do my best to help inspire faith in my subjects. Lyubech converts:



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In September, up north in western Poland we chase off the remnants of the Lorrainian intervenors:



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On 29 October 1429 Ralph capitulates:



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I contemplate the idea of taking the ducal title off him and making him the vassal of someone but he would rebel all the same anyway. I decide to reduce his holdings instead and take back the County of Aswan:



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Being now at peace, I can finally let Duchess Penka out of prison. She is relatively neutral about me, so shouldn't spontaneously ignite and go to war any time soon.



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Peace doesn't last long, though. I set forth against her whom my father and his father before him called the, 'Possessed Tengri Girl,' who is probably three or four times my own age right now. This time we are trying to liberate the Duchy of Pereyeslavl.



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The closest of my vassals to the theatre dies in battle at Edessa, though:



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(Bertalan Terter, the Bulgarian-born Rurikovich-related Duke of Chernigov. Distant relative of Kalojan Terter of Karvuna, Armenia etc.)

Another vassal in close proximity to that area, namely our familiar Ioseph Palaiologos of Kiev and Galich, is an idiot and takes away the County of Latgale from the very person who brought it under the Polish crown away from the Teutonic Knights' realm (or his son but probably the same count). Unfortunately, I can't do much.



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My power outside my kingdom is sometimes smaller than within it.

Ralph keeps plotting even in prison:



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But the Pope won't have any of it. Ultimately, the now thirty-ish de Vere asks me to relax his jail rigour, and I acquiesce:



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His brother, Count Eric of Makuria, wants the Duchy but he won't get it. He would act the same as Ralph, I guess, and I want a permanent solution. Or if not a permanent solution, then I'd rather not change too much from how things are right now. So no.



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Kalojan of Karvuna and Armenia accepts the surrender of the Sheikh Edessa:



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...But he dies before the peace concludes:



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Seven out of twenty provinces of the old Kingdom of Armenia are in our realm now:



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A lot of it without the effort of the Polish kings. Speaking of which, my effort goes to building up the infrastructure in Russia. Those guys have been so impossibly poor under the Golden Horde and other subsequent Mongols and in the harsh climate. I build some new holdings there:



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I take my duties seriously. Just because my primary title is Poland and I'm Polish doesn't mean I'm going to do any less as the king of my other realms than I should.

In July, my wife Nonna is known to be pregnant:



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My brother Przybor needs a wife too, so we set him up with the Duchess of Benevento. Benevento and basically everything else that's there in the Kingdom of Naples, as the Queen probably holds just one barony somewhere on the African coast. I have no idea how that came to be. Anyway, Naples covers the other part of de iure Sicily, about half of which is under Nonna, i.e. my wife. The de iure kingdom is under the de iure Empire of Constantinople, of which my mother is the ruler and I am the heir.



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Apparently, poor Nonna can't handle the stress or get the grip of herself and she falls to the lure of alcoholism. It pains me to see such a young and beautiful woman ravaged by vices. Is there any way to make her come round?



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NewbieOne

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The Dukes

Tesfaye, in turn, has turned to being a Cruel, Craven, Wrothful Kinslayer:



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I'm glad I didn't send my sister over to him. No news from the Duchy of Alsace is good news compared to that. Besides, I could always just go to Alsace. It's not like the Welf Kaisers would stop me. We're related anyway.

Ralph has almost managed to escape from prison. I decide to be patient with him:



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Duke Ignatios of Cyprus has decided to... DoW the Khagan. Just like that. Must be the Piast genes.



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Duke Kalojan II has quickly grown up and declared a holy war on his own:



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Unlike the dukes, I don't really suffer from any urgent craving. In fact, I'd rather just my chessboard back and play with Adolf (whatever happened to him) or go visit the soldiers with Manfred.



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Vologda converts:



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My mother, Leontia, at age 50 is completely grey. She has, however, maintained her Trusting nature through all the adversity, as well as remaining a Patient person. She's as Brave and Zealous as she's ever been. A closer study of her person reveals she has no mind for schemes, so somebody else must be watching for her in this regard. She has just enough administration skills to avoid the empire falling apart or otherwise failing in her duties, while her military skills consist mostly in personal involvement and she actually is not a brilliant strategist of the likes of those of old. Or even most of my own current generals. It must be something else which is driving her. Her main interest lies in Learning. She is accordingly surnamed 'the Wise'.



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We've talked about Bulgaria, so I might give you a closer look:



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Basically, the Duchies of Moldau, Karvuna and Tyrnovo are under the crown (which is my secondary title). Hungary still holds Wallachia and the Teutonic Knights have three counties remaining. Adrianopolis in northern Greece has been liberated from them and so their holdings are enclaves by now. Penka of Tyrnovo's lands will be united with the Duchy of Charsianon upon her death. Kalojan of Karvuna is already a potentate elsewhere. Moldau is in royal demesne.

A daughter is born to Nonna and me. We name her Nawoja, an old Polish name. Relatively uncommon these days, and not connected with any of my recent ancestors.



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Here is her lineage:



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The old Duke Rostislav is fighting outside our realm, wresting some titles from the outside:



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Already as of June 1431 the war against the Duchess of Novgorod-Seversk is moving in our favour:



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My former guardian Enrique watches over the good relations inside our realm. He does not report spectacular successes like those of the previous chancellors (Beltra of Padilla has died recently) but overall he is one of the most talented there have ever been:



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Duke Ralph again complains about the circumstances of his imprisonment:



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I investigate and order some relaxation again but he stays under guard.

The situation in the middle east becomes a keg of gunpowder except it's already exploded:



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Soon the new spymaster dies and I need to look for another. It will take time, as there aren't many brilliant men left in this line of employment. Otherwise my council is the same as always:



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Some of them were probably in position before I came.

I continue the old policy of having at least some Piasts around at court to arrange marriages and man the fiefs:



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Speaking of Piasts, our family has become rather diversified over the last decades. What you see here is a scion of the Mongol-looking branch that came to prominence a while ago after holding some castles in Moldau and Cherson. As a result of the failed attempt to bring Pomerania back under the fold, there is now a Piast duke under the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, son of the last Gryfita duchess, who was married to a Polish duke. Other than him, his subjects have probably never seen anybody looking close to a hordesman, being so far west.



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More middle east:



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As you can see, the young Kalojan II commands about twenty thousand men. That is more than a half of what Wieslaw had when he tackled the hordes. And fewer than liberated Poland from Vaclav of Bohemia under the older Wladyslaw. Possessions of the Ilkhanate are full of my vassals' troops, including Cyprus (the crescent and star) and Kuyavia (the characteristic white and red shield).
Rum is just the two provinces you can see.
 

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Assorted Matters

Solomon is the semi-lowborn man who should be the king of Poland right now for all I know about the law. Maybe I'm wrong. My father Sulislaw was the younger son of his father Wladyslaw. The previous son left a couple of daughters in Hungary in the lordship of Tabanya, which belonged to Wladyslaw's first wife Ibolya. The only son of the eldest daughter and the current baroness of Tabanya is this guy Solomon, married to a cousin.



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I get more construction started in Russia:



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According to my reports, old Mongke of Alanya has a 5% chance of revolting. The thought of a protracted war against five counties and all the attendant useless loss of life is not pleasant. Whatever I think about this, I just need to get him to stabilise.



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One of the new holdings being a bishopric, I reward my chaplain with it. He was there when my father died.



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The Teutonic Knights are up in arms. I don't know what that is about but if they annex anybody I am probably going to wrest it back.



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With all this construction going, I take a look at my capital:



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Something could be built here too.

Mstislavl converts:



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In order to avoid surprises, we set my brother Przybor up with a title and some land. I need to make him a duke but first he needs to get some land:



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Here is he and his wife:



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I also reward Manfred, the old Marshal. His will be the barony of Hrebinka, which has somehow found its way to the crown. It used to belong to Ilya of Hrebinka, a mighty warrior and great leader in the previous century. Manfred will be a worthy lord. He is also of an illustrious family. Nothing close to the Rurikovich (like Ilya) but very respectable.



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After the lands, I also call the title of the Duchy of Pereyeslavl back from the previous holder.



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It breaks my heart to decline my mother's request, which she finally makes:



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I may be her heir but I can't find it in me to go to war against the more senior branch of the Palaiologoi, who are even in control of Constantinople and have always remained so, barring the city of Galata, which is under my suzerainty. I feel like a hyprocite.

I find a little dose of consolation in the news that Galich Mersky converts:



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Since there are some guys I think about putting in my family, well, them or their heirs, I reach to the faraway court of Abyssinia for suitable brides with the right surname:



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In fact, I'm not above going to Lorraine for brides.



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My mother was not pleased with the refusal. She didn't take it awfully hard but it was a blow. She probably understood the reasons but that alone couldn't soothe her wound:



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I find in my court a cute young lady from the previous ruling branch of Bohemia. I marry her to a Piast gentleman:



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The Alan culture is because of a certain family of wise men serving the kings of Poland in various positions, often as chancellors, and raising a lot of children for whom it was not absolutely necessary to keep the Polish culture. Particularly, there were a number of high-born girls with Europe's top surnames brought up in the ways of the steppes. Well, not really, since the pre-conquest Alans were close neighbours of Georgia and a civilised kingdom but the girls surely did have an exciting culture and did know how to ride a horse and fire a bow at the same time. At least that much freedom they could get.

In June 1433, I decide to go after the Khagan too. Well, not really the Khagan himself but rather one of his vassals. There will be a confrontation with the overlord perhaps too but the immediate goal is to recover a barony within Cherson still held by the Mongols:



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My reputation for piety plummets when I have a disagreement with the Pope. But I can't follow the particular man's dictate on this matter and hope the next one will be a more peaceful man:



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Duke Rostislav dies. The Grand Prince of Vladimir, Turow, Muscovy and more than I could recite from memory. I find some consolation in the fact he found it good to live under the aegis of the Polish crown and never complained, unlike my cousins whose fathers had not been independent monarchs. I had no reason to complain about him either, at least none I could name off the top of my head.



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Rest in peace, mighty prince.
 

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The Reluctant King of Armenia

As you can see, the time is taking its toll on my council. My former guardian Enrique has departed quietly and we have a new chancellor of the Alp family that I spoke about earlier. Yes, we have an Alan chancellor:



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If there is one rule the Polish court plays by, it is: stay away from Scottish intrigue. Robert de Brus was enough, I don't want to have anything to do with whatever the Stewarts are plotting.



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I might just not have to do with anything of this world any more... but nope, again, not this time yet:



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So, I survived my attempt to join a military campaign. Also, my wife is with child again:



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We take the lordship of Lusta but that's only 5% of the war to win:



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The cause of the Union of Churches goes faster. Pereyeslavl Zalessky joins in:



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Here is what the landscape in Armenia expands into. There is also noticeably less turmoil than a moment before. While still a lot.



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And:



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So, it's done. The Kingdom of Armenia exists again. At least I can discipline my vassals there with more efficiency. Or so I think.

The child duke of Karvuna wins his war against the Khagan of the Ilkhanate:



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On 26 July 1434, my son is born:



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He is also heir to the Kingdom of Sicily since birth.

The fallout with my mother is more drastic than I had expected. She seems unable to get over the kingdoms in my hand that are outside her empire.



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Half a later, in January, I receive word she's at peace with the Despot of Georgia, who once again acknowledges her as the empress. The empire seems to be at peace, and the empress completely grey.



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My brother Przybor also is lucky to have a son. Allow me to present to you Sieciech Piast:



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I don't really have much of a liking for lavish food. Big feasts bore me:



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The reclamation of Lusta ends inconclusively with the death of Duke Manuel IV:



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We start over:



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Almost immediately after incorporation, Edessa converts:



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Since there is little happening in military terms, we concentrate around Theodosia:



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In December Lusta is in our hands again:



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Soon thereafter Ryazan converts:



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Demise of the Empress?

Theodosia converts (it is actually the county in which the barony being the target of the war with the Khagan lies):



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My reputation for piety improves when I decide to turn Pereyeslavl into an ecclesiastical donation when it turned out the senior-most or otherwise most preferable heir... actually was a bishop.



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The Duke of Alsace died relatively young and my sister became a widow by age 26. I invited her back.



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Duchess Penka is beginning to give me as much trouble as my predecessors, well, almost, but getting there.



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My vassal dukes in Ruthenia and Russia apparently don't enjoy sitting there idly and the reconquest of Rus goes on:



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There is a new duke of Volhynia that I need to placate. This takes up more than a half of my current treasury. One more troublesome duke and I may be too poor to do that again.



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The Komnenos-Piasts can't seem to be able to stop thinking about erasing the Sultanate of Rum from the map:



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I send my sister back to Alsace. The new Duke is willing and she's already familiar with the land, the people, the language.



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Kolomna is another Russian province to enter into union:



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One of those battles claims the life of my namesake, the ex-Duke Mszczuj (the last ducal title he held was in virtue of his wife, a different one altogether):



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Young Kalojan II didn't survive long, either (although I'm not sure about the circumstances of his death):



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In July Nonna is pregnant again! For all her bad qualities we get along pretty well and have a relatively healthy relationship, as far as possible in the circumstances. It probably helps that she doesn't think herself to be a saint and I don't judge her. But I wish she could break out of the prison of her problems and enjoy a normal life.



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There is beef with Epirus again, and one that requires my attention. Attention that I can give, this time:



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Situation doesn't look good for Rum. Judging by the numbers, this time it might actually go off the map. Judging by past experience, that is not likely.



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As of October, Uncle Stoigniew is no longer with us. Big hopes were associated with him by grandfather Wladyslaw, but he eventually ended up a somewhat forgotten royal grandson. He enjoyed a relative peace together with the benefits of his position while being away from the political currents, other than leading armies, something he was good at.



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And yes, we shared a grandfather. Technically that was cousin Stoigniew.

In November, my mother gets into trouble with the Doux of Achaia. Since it doesn't involve any sort of a senior claim to the throne but only a war about authority, I decide to help. I have no heart to refuse.



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While fighting the war with me, the Khagan decides to usurp the title of Duke of Moscow from Nikita, son of Rostislav (who had usurped it from a Mongol high chief). I wonder what will happen as a result. I suspect Rostislav, if he were alive, might have just responded in arms. Or not. I saw him fight for land. I don't know if he would have fought for a title.



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To my grief, as of December 1437, my mother has become incapacitated. The once great and proud Leontia cannot lead her armies any more. I suspect it was a combat incident.



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She is exactly the same age Berta Orsini was when she died: fifty-six. My father would be slightly younger if he were alive.

Meanwhile Veliky Ustug comes back to the fold:



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On 3 February 1438 my second son is born. He is named Wladyslaw, like my grandfather, the son of Berta Orsini, and his grandfather before him, who had invited Berta from Orvieto after wresting the kingdom from Vaclav of Bohemia.



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No, a Different Loss

From my Italian Spymaster, I receive news of more plotting from Duchess Penka. Will that woman ever change her ways?



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A victory over the khagan improves my damaged reputation:



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It also seems my brother Przybor has joined the events in the middle east with other dukes. His is the red shield with the white eagle head in it. The black eagle on a yellow background are our Silesian cousins.

As the defeated Timurid armies depart, we receive word from the Khagan:



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Ten days later the rebellion against my mother is also no more:



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However, I might face a rebellion myself and need to resort to gift diplomacy again. Whatever it costs, a war is more costly.



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Apparently, the Bagrationi keep their Mongol heritage going despite several generations that have passed since Prince Mukhran and his mother the Princess of the Ilkhanate.

Somehow I seem to end up quarrelling with a simple stablemaster. Must be the stress. Ulyana Rurikovich apparently had enough confidence to tell a multiking to stand down. No wonder. Both of us believe the Rurikovich are as good as the Piasts. We actually intermarried in the centuries past, not much so the recent years.



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Herself, she has claims on many, many duchies. I don't know if she isn't actually the senior heir to some of them. But she isn't after power.

The good news is that my mother is still able to write. The bad news is that the Duke of Samos has risen in rebellion. Again, I set out to help her:



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And I need to make another donation.



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Penka just keeps plotting but she won't raise her banner. There is no point doing anything other than dissuading her from her every subsequent plot. She always apologises.



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Beloozero is now in union:



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Fighting ensues in Thessalonica:



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But meanwhile the Hochmeister must finally have come to be at peace with all his neighbours, as my vassal, the young von Boulogne of Manfred's family, has decided to wrest the ducal title to Kourland from him and apparently succeeded in holding on to it.



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As we are at peace with the Mongols, Duke Trpimir Terter of Chernigov returns home.



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My other vassals have gone as far as Mesopotamia:



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This is actually how far they stretch by now:



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And here a larger view of the middle east:



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Back west, that is, "west" in terms of the middle east, we intercept the main army of the Duke of Samos before it can threaten a similarly numbered force of ours which is besieging the Doux's domains.



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Apparently, the Duke of Abkhazia has set his eyes on expansion too. He declares a holy war for Azov, just north-west of his realm.



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And... on 2 April 1439:



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[OOC: The character screenshot is from end-game save, so the date is 1453, which explains why some characters look older than they should.]

She was not a bad person. She ate to compensate, the slothfulness was probably a sign of depression, connected with the stress that killed her, together with the pneumonia. Proud... few Piasts were not. She found some peace in books and in horse riding. She studied military strategies and tried to experiment in that field. Who knows what would have come out of that if she hadn't been taken away so early. Most of all, she was very kind. Another testimony to that fact it was stress which broke her, not a corrupt nature. I held her hand as she expired, home in Sicily, in a warm place not in the cold Cracow. There was no regret or animosity between us two.

And thus my son became the King of Sicily. I hope my mother will still be able to see the new King Sulislaw, the grandson.
 

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I need to look for a new queen for the realms but it will take a while before I remarry:



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The time to release Ralph has not come yet, either:



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Speaking of troublesome people, I receive another written apology from Penka. I don't even remember what this is one for.



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All this gets me Stressed:



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However, on 15 July 1439 the Doux of Samos capitulates and my mother is left mostly at peace. I must visit her while she is still alive.



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Unfortunately, I need to make another donation.



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Which is not the type of donation I would prefer to be making:



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My relationship with my mother is healing only very slowly, but it is not as bad as it used to be:



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[OOC: I'm not sure whether he didn't have the money for a gift or I forgot. The chancellor was in the Empress's capital province all the time.]

There is some friction with Azov: My dukes want its land, the High Chief wants the titles:



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Azov will probably shortly fall to a holy war from whichever direction. There are many candidates. I am not one of them

Also, I receive summons from my minor son. A duke is rebelling.



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Meanwhile, spending time with an elderly Cynical Mystic tends to improve my mood. The old, even scarred widow (another of the kind that have given someone a reason to assess their combat or command abilities) is so Kind and Content it's contagious.



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My dukes seem to be testing how far they can take it in the middle east:



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On 24 February 1440 the Sultanate of Rum practically ceases to exist. The Sultan still holds on to his title, which means he must have a holding somewhere, probably due to marriage, but it is far away.



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Melitene converts:



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And my Masovian cousins prove rather ungrateful:



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(If not outright stupid.)

I am confronted with the choice between Arbitrary ways and the ways of Justice. I choose Justice:



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...And Justice chooses me:



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Impartial people consider me to be Kind, Shy and Just. Who knows, they might be right. I am still relatively young. Almost a year has passed since Nonna died at age 31 and I'm still 28.



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Duke Trpimir, the ruler of Chernigov who has recently returned home from Mongol captivity, sets out to take two of the last three counties still under the former 'Possessed Tengri Girl'.



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NewbieOne

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Well, I've said something about Azov:



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Karin in Armenia joins the union:



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And the Calabrian war is over. The Duke probably died in battle:



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However, a mightier opponent is interested in my son's realm:



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[OOC: Ironically, in real history, Louis I of Hungary did capture the Kingdom of Naples several times. He went on to become King of Poland in 1370.]

Did he really think I would let him take it?

The Duke of Masovia has actually dared approach me with a claim. As far as I know there exists no land which could in any way be believed to be contentious between our two respective lines. Wonder if it's the same claim he made his chancellor forge.



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[OOC: Another Siemowit of Masovia, but with a different regnal number, gave some trouble to the Polish crown after the death of, incidentally, the aforementioned Louis I. He was even elected King but ultimately budged.]

On 2 April 1442 woe falls upon me:



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My mother, Leontia the Wise, is no more. May she find peace she lacked in life.
 

NewbieOne

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So 13 years before the end you are finally emperor! Are you going to convert to EU3?

Thanks! I'll keep the save but it's not very likely. I've already had a game with Poland in EU3 where I rescued BYZ, colonised Siberia up to the Pacific and the Manchu border, adopted Imperial Administration, got elected the HRE and enacted all the reforms. I'm sfraid that it could be very similar to that one, as I guess I'd still need to deal with the hordes on the east, while also likely needing to perform the gamey trick of joining the HRE with my capital despite being an emperor in name (it would probably give me Imperial Administration) as I'm not sure even vassalising the electors could do it. At the same time a lot of the good things would change: I'd lose the benefits of being an emperor or having my co-dynasts in one kingdom and two duchies, I'd end up in a gimped technological group beyond the ability to westernise, so at the same time it would be all the harder. I'm not sure but I'd probably lose the benefit of my heir being the king of one half of the south Italy while his cousin in line to inherit the other half as my vassal. So, essentially, it would set me back from what I had here, while lumping some old problems on me. So I think I'd rather stick with another run of CK2 instead. Maybe EU4 when it comes out, as dynasties and characters are supposed to play a larger role.