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Bagricula

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Nancy - Duchy of Lorraine
Seat of the Ancient Frankish House d'Ardennes


"Arms of the Dukes of Lorraine"​

Head of State: John I d'Ardennes
Player: Bagricula
Religion: Catholic
Culture: German, French
Stats: 2/0/9/10/2 --> [2/0/9/10/2]
Provinces: 3
Ports: 0
Owned: Lorraine(4), Metz(3), Bar(3)

A heavy joweled red-faced man in dark ochre velvet and a hat two sizes too small lumbers towards visitors brandishing a long thin oak staff. Under the weight of many keys, the iron chain that marks his office as chamberlain sinks into the creases of his coat. He brushes his sweat-laden thinning hair from his forehead and gives you a perfuntory smile before offering his services. The ducal seat has many amenities for visiting royals, nobles, diplomats, and merchant-princes.

Court of Lorraine
I. [anchorlink=news]News and Announcements[/anchorlink]
II. [anchorlink=history]History of Lorraine[/anchorlink]
III. [anchorlink=family]House d'Ardennes[/anchorlink]
IV. [anchorlink=faction]Factions at Court[/anchorlink]
V. [anchorlink=diplo]Diplomacy and Trade[/anchorlink]



[anchor=news]News and Announcements[/anchor]​

Pentecost Fair - Hear ye! Hear ye! John d'Ardennes has decreed a great fair to celebrate the Feast of the Pentecost in Nancy.

Eligible Bachelor - The rumormongers whisper that Charles d'Ardennes, 19 this spring, has been told by his father to settle down with a fine lass of noble breeding and vast wealth. Matchmakers may begin sending out feelers as soon as all our hearts are a flutter with spring fever. Gossipers even mention a concerted effort to find a match beyond the boundaries of Lord John's dominion.



[anchor=history]History of Lorraine[/anchor]​

When the Emperor Lothar I died in 855, his "middle kingdom" (Francia Media) was divided between his three sons: (1) Louis II received Italy and the Imperial crown, (2) Charles, Burgundy, and (3) Lothar II what was left, the area from Burgundy down to the North Sea. There was no traditional name for such an area, so it came to be called after Lothar himself: Lotharingia. This has become Lothringen in German and Lorraine in French and English. The lack of male heirs for all these meant that Italy, Burgundy, and Lorraine all were subsequently divided and passed around among the Carolingian heirs of East and West. Lorraine soon lost independent status and became a dependency, a Stem Duchy, of the East Frankish Kingdom, except briefly when it adhered to the West (911-925). The Duchy itself than became divided between the north, or Upper Lorraine, and the south, or Lower Lorraine (959). "Upper" and "Lower" were in the relation to the river systems in the area. The heart of Upper Lorraine was Nancy, on the Moselle (Mosel in German). Upper Lorraine originally extended all the way down to the Rhine on the Moselle and included Trier, but the border gradually retreated up river, and Trier itself became an independent Ecclesiastical Electorate of the Empire. To the east, Upper Lorraine bordered on Alsace, part of the Duchy of Swabia, on the south, the Free County of Burgundy, and on the west, Champagne. The western border was originally between the Marne and the Meuse (Maas in Dutch). By 1301, France obtained suzerainty over Bar west of the Meuse, which brought the border of the Kingdom of France to the Meuse iself (more or less).


"Lotharingia"​

Although it began as a Kingdom on equal footing with Burgundy and Italy, or, for that matter, with West Francia (France) and East Francia (Germany), Lorraine eventually lost this status and became a dependency of the Eastern Kingdom (900), albeit with the new elevated status of a Duchy, one of the Stem Duchies of Germany. The Duchy then soon divided, into Upper Lorraine and Lower Lorraine (959). These went their separate ways, with Lower Lorraine eventually losing its identity into Brabant and Upper Lorraine becoming simply "Lorraine" proper.

The last time Lorraine was a united and separate kingdom was under Zwentibold, the illegitimate son of the Emperor Arnulf. When Zwentibold died in 900, a German nobleman, Gebhard of Franconia, was appointed by the East Frankish court. Gebhard was thus no King but was beginning to be called a Dux (Herzog), the title of a Roman frontier military commander. Before long, this became the special title for one of the divisions of East Francia, the Stem Duchies. Lorraine thus became a "duchy." After the death of the last Eastern Carolingian, Louis the Child, in 911, Lorraine became for a while a matter of dispute between Eastern and Western Franks, with the power of local nobility consequently becoming more important. After Gebhard, chief among these was Rainier (or Reginar) of Mons (or Maasgau). Rainier transfered the allegiance of Lorraine to the West Frankish Carolingian, Charles (III) the Simple. In 923 Charles was deposed in the West by the Count of Paris, but Lorraine remained faithful to him until 925. Then Rainier's son Giselbert (Gislebert or Gilbert) returned to the East Frankish King, now Henry I of Saxony. Giselbert thus stands as the first Duke of Lorraine for its subsequent history as a division of East Francia (Germany).

Although Hainault (Hennegau) continued for some time in the family of Rainier, the Duchy of Lorraine itself fell to the disposal of the East Frankish Kings, who preferred to have in-laws or relatives in control, though this did not always guarantee loyalty, as the revolt of Conrad the Red demonstrated. The brother of Otto I, Archbishop Bruno (or Brun) was loyal and kept the peace. In 959 he also divided the Duchy, into Upper Lorraine (Oberlothringen) and Lower Lorraine (Niederlothringen), a division that had become permanent by 1044.


The "Cross of Lorraine" is supposed to have been used by Godfrey of Bouillon on the First Crusade. The upper bar may render the plaque (the Titulus) that announced Jesus "King of the Jews." Later it was adopted by Charles de Gaulle as the symbol of the Free French in World War II. The association here may be with the "Maid of Lorraine," who was supposed to have been foretold by Merlin to deliver France from her enemies -- and was then identified as Joan of Arc (d.1431).

In classic feudal fashion, the holdings of the actual Dukes of Upper and Lower Lorraine shrank to a mere core of the Duchies, as peripheral fiefs became alienated. Upper Lorraine retreated from the Rhine and acquired local rivals in the form of the Dukes of Luxemburg. When Lower Lorraine fell to the Counts of Brabant, they promoted Brabant to a Duchy. In time the identity of Lower Lorraine lapsed and the Dukes were simply the Dukes of Brabant.



[anchor=family]House of Ardennes[/anchor]​

John I b. 1346 m. 1361, Duke of Lorraine, Bar, Count of Metz, Toul, Guardian of the Holy Sepulchre, Titular King of Jerusalem, et cetera

Aged more by experience than by time, the white angels of wisdom, as his wife jests, already dance in his black beard. His green eyes, characteristic of the d'Ardennes, are still active if steadier than in his youth. He has few grand ambitions, finding more pleasure in a day of hunting or a dark stout shared with his friends than in the glittering courts of the potentates of Europe. He cares most all for the people of Lorraine, and that their lives be untouched by the chaos of war and uncertainty. His native tongue is French, but he speaks German fluently, and Dutch with some stuttering.

Sophie von Wurtemburg b. 1346 m. 1361, Duchess of Lorraine, Bar, Countess of Metz, Toul, et cetera

By many years of childbearing, Sophie has blossomed into a great German matron, always with a rosy cheeked smile for her children and a precise and knowing glance for the ladies of the court. She and John married when they were seventeen, and their marriage has been cordial growing into a kind of familiar warmth and friendship not often touched on such unions. She runs the household and the ladies of the court with an iron fist, dictating by her actions the proper opinions of the many noblewomen throughout Lorraine. Her native tongue is German, but she speaks French fluently.

Charles b. 1364, Count of Verdun, Heir-Apparent

Much more energetic and foolhardy than his father, Charles wants Lorraine to be involved in the affairs of the world. He often looks beyond the borders of his father's domain, dreaming of conquests, wars, wealth, and power. With time, his parents and his tutor hope he will grow wiser and his foolhardiness will turn to bold cunning. He speaks French and German with equal fluency, and has been educated in Latin, Dutch, and a smattering of English.

Isabelle b. 1366

An auburn-headed girl which adolescence has turned into a promising young woman. Her love is of poetry and language. She spends her days out in the countryside with the daughters of other ladies at court, composing verse and writing fantastic new stories. She is fluent in French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Dutch, can read Latin and Greek, and has smatterings of Dutch.

Frederick b. 1371

The youngest princeling of the ducal household, Frederick enjoys the outdoors, riding, swimming, fishing, and even planting. He keeps a garden of his own religiously and has become a favorite of the farmers and vintagers of Lorraine, who dub him lumière verte for his horticultural enthusiasm and agility.

Beatiz de Bourgogne b. 1372, Infanta of Portugal, Heir to the Crown

Only living child of King Fernando of Portugal and young wife of Frederick d'Ardennes, assuming that she has sufficient military backing she should be able to ascend to her ailing father's throne; however, Portugal is ripe for a civil war as religion and royalty mix in the battle for the crown.



Factions of the Court

Lorraine - 45% Influence - Leader: John d'Ardennes

The Lorraine faction is concerned above all with protecting Lorraine's sovereignty. Led by the Duke of Lorraine himself, the Lorraine faction enjoys considerable influence at court; however, their long stay in power and the aging of its senior memebrs have led to divisions as a new subfaction the Eagles led by the young Charles d'Ardennes.

Policies of the Lorraine Faction:
~Supports Lorraine's independance
~Opposes intervention in foreign affairs
~Remains neutral regarding obediences
~Supports ducal jurisdiction
~Supports expanding trade along the Rhine river valley

Policies of the Eagles:
~Supports projecting Lorraine's power abroad
~Supports trade ventures with distant nations
 
Last edited:

Bagricula

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Bagricula

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Welcome all! The court is open!
 

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zum Seine Exzellenz, Johann, Herzog von Lorraine

It is reassuring to hear such an earnest proposal from a respected Christian monarch. We honor your intentions and would certainly provide for the military education of your son Friedrich, the quality and vigor of which is unequaled. No excessive payment is required, save only Lorraine’s continued dedication to our cause and material assistance in time of conflict.

I shall instruct my staff to await Friedrich’s arrival. Though he shall be accorded no special privileges, the better to further his hardening and sharpening of body and mind, I believe he will find a place for himself here. Ihre Exzellenz, of course, shall be kept appraised of his progress.

May you continue to find peace in Our Lord,


Konrad III Zollner von Rothstein
Hochmeister, Der Deutscher Orden
 

Velasco

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"John, King of Naples, Jerusalem, and Albania, Prince of Achaia, Durazzo and Taranto, et cetera, unto John d'Ardennes, Duke of Lorraine, greetings.

I write to you to propose an alliance between our houses, and a marriage between one of my daughters and your son Charles. If such a proposal entertains your pleasure, I will send an envoy to your court, whom I will invest with the authority to talk of such matters with you face to face.

By his own hand,
John, King of Naples"
 

Velasco

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"John d'Anjou, King of Naples, Jerusalem, and Albania, Prince of Achaia, Durazzo and Taranto, et cetera, unto John I, Duke of Lorraine and Bar, et cetera, greetings.

It is with great pleasure that we received your letter. We send unto you our trusted friend and envoy Guglielmo di Taranto. We pray that you give him somewhere to stay, as an act of friendship towards us. We have given him authority to speak on our behalf to you.

By his own hand,
John, King of Naples"
 

Bagricula

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Just before setting out to inspect the ducal farms outside of Nancy, John finishes reading the most recent correspondence from the King of Naples. He turns his head to a stocky elderly man in heavy dark green raiments, and speaks in his drawling provincial French handing the Comte de Montluzin the letter.

"Davis, please have Messieur Guglielmo sent to me as soon as he has been settled in."

The wispy haired Majordomo bows slightly, having known the contents of the letter for three hours already and having alterted the Duke's men of the coming envoy's arrival only shortly after receiving the Neapolitan letter.

"Your word is law, my Grace."

John grins wryly before mounting his mare.

"Is it still? How nice..."

Setting on his face a more appropriately lordly mein, John sets out from the courtyard accompanied by two men-at-arms, smirking internally with the knowledge that neither he nor the Comte de Montluzin--nor Lorraine herself--could operate without the other. Well, thought the aging Duke, Lorraine probably would do fine, but we mustn't tell her or she might get ideas.

Smiling inexplicably the Duke of Lorraine set off to inspect the lives of his subjects.
 

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Guglielmo di Taranto approached the duke, and kissed the ring of his finger. Stepping back, he bowed, and introduced himself. He asked if the Duke had anything he wanted to ask of the King of Naples.
 

Bagricula

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Shadows and firelight run across the Duc de Lorraine's features, conjuring shifting and insubstantial meins on the aged man's rugged face. He studies the Neapolitan envoy with a curious gaze leaving his opinion inscrutable. The heavy rugs, thick tapestries, and dry crackling of the fire obscures the quiet conversations of the Lothringen court.

John smiles lightly at the envoy's question, "Monsieur di Taranto, your lord's own hand wrote of his desire to find a match among his daughters for my eldest son--and heir."

He takes a few steps towards the fire, unperturbed by the radiant heat in his Frankish garb.

"My dominion is a blessedly quiet one, Monsieur, and my people keep to their own affairs. So long as the harvest is good and the churches and roads are maintained, they are an easy people to govern.

We have little need then for word from the outside world, yet with your arrival the outside world has perhaps decided it is needed, even by us.

I would be a fool to ignore it, but I would be twice a fool to let it bring chaos to my home.

Tell me of events in Naples. I hear only the chaotic babbling of gossips. Tell me also of your lord's daughters, and what further agreements--and opportunities-he offers my Arcadian Duchy."


The last was spoken with the easy authority of a commander speaking to his subordinates, as Duke John returns to studying the Neapolitan.
 

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Pierre de Luxembourg, scion of the Imperial House, Bishop of the Church, and most despicable scum of the Earth, at least from his own viewpoint, tries to ignore the faint itching on the back of his calf where he knew a tick had engorged itself on his royal blood. Only man had been granted the gift of free will, and all the other animals of the Earth were thus under the guidance of the Lord--or the Enemy. For the moment, Pierre remains undecided on the allegiance of this blood-sucking insect. He was beginning to doubt that this was a test from the Lord since the irritation was so slight as to be almost unnoticable--stealth is the hallmark of the Prince of Lies.

He walks with the light steps of one who is not entirely in this world down the muddy lanes of the town of Metz. He resisted the urge to smile as he saw men from his flock rebuilding a neighbor's barn. Truthfully, Metz had seen many changes since his arrival, many for the greater glory of God. The episcopal palace had been opened as a refuge to the poor and sick, new prayer covenants were being formed. These small associations of four to six households dedicated to praying together daily and caring for each other were forming a useful moral backbone in the city. Pierre had a natural dislike of cities and the way that they could deceive people into believing they could hide their sins, so he had established these covenants which spent every Saturday evening recounting their many sinful thoughts and actions and encouraging their fellows to criticize them openly. The head of the leading household for that week would then report that night to their priest that the covenant was ready to ask for the forgiveness of the Lord and receive whatever God sent to them.

The Duc de Lorraine had been most cooperative interfering little in Pierre's projects, although reflected the bishop grimly this was probably because of the many monastic lands John d'Ardennes had confiscated and redistributed among the burghers and the ducal demense. Eventually, Pierre would find a way of showing him too the fierce light of God's righteous judgement.

Pierre frowns. He feels the warm swelling of Pride, that omnipresent beast, enemy of the righteous. He would have to flail himself to remind himself of his mortality and the power of the Lord.
 

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Frederick sat on his haunches, apparently inspecting a bed of new shoots in the ducal palaces extensive gardens. They had grown more and more extensive every year as Frederick's horticultural knowledge and sophistication grew. Soon the line between garden and demense would be irrevocably blurred and no longer would this simply be an innocent hobby but a productive and integral part of the Ardennes' stewardship of their lands. Frederick left pockets of forest and wildness, partly because as he said, "It lets the land breathe," but mostly because he still enjoyed an afternoon of rough riding or swimming in a cool forest pool.

Today though his mind was neither on riding nor gardening. More and more irritated he glanced up at the sun arcing its way innocently across the sky, carelessly letting mere humans know how time was coursing through their lives. No, it was not this reminder of his mortality that annoyed him, it was the knowledge that: She was late.

Certainly he'd never allow a--girl--he couldn't say woman get under his skin. Certainly he was glad not to have her incessant questions about his work. Certainly he would be able to have a lot more fun riding without having to worry about her following. Certainly she had been a little entertaining--but annoying at the same time. Certainly he sighed certainly she was late and I can't think straight.

Frederick, second son of the Duke of Lorraine, Prince Consort of Portugal, and a young man of only fourteen years threw himself onto his back staring up at the sun through the fronds of his garden. Staring up in the sun, partly out of sheer defiance, and partly in the hope he would be blinded and so never so foolish to look at a girl--a mere girl.

Luckily for the young lordling's eyes, a fair maiden's head crowned by a corona of light colored hair occulted the celestial orb. She was beautiful in the way that all the young are, having only fifteen years herself. She laughed like the angels playing in Eden, and held out a circular shape.

"Get up, you lazy farmer. After I've spent the whole morning gathering these for you."

He jumps up with an angry start grabbing the shape from Beatiz, Infanta of Portugal. "Call me lazy! I've already weeded four--"

He stares at the garland of flowers in his hand, "Uh..wha--what's this?"

With that infuriatingly self-confident and instinctive grace, she takes the crown from his hand and places it lightly on his head so it sits lopsided.

"A crown of periwinkles for my lazy farmer, King of All He Hoes."

He glares. She giggles. Beneath the anger and humiliation in his heart, Frederick feels a small excited voice repeating, 'she said "my lazy farmer".'
 

Bagricula

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Asceline de M. bites back her body's cries of protest as she carries the fourth pair of water-buckets up to the cottage in the low French Alps. It isn't fair, a voice in her head protested. Every day you work from dawn to dusk for the crones, and every night you struggle to sleep on the hard stone trying to reach into your dreams, the voice continues, And after six years all you have achieved is new callouses.

Daughter of an ancient house, a noble lineage, all so much as dirt! Asceline didn't know why she was here anymore. Or did you ever know? a voice asked. She was so filled with doubt, with uncertainty. If only she could learn the lessons the crones taught her day after day, night after night. But even if I learn, I've no talent in it...I'm sure. Certainly it had been easy as a child, surrounded by other children easily impressed by a small glamour or cantrip, but now nothing impressed the old witches. Worse they didn't even criticize her. They were nice to her. Very encouraging, but completely lacking in useful advice.

Maybe you just can't see their advice properly, that nagging doubtful skeptic in her volleyed. So Asceline pushed herself harder, never meeting her own standards or anyone elses (to her perception). She would sometimes see the young men in the village further down the slope, or in the meadows tending the sheep, maybe dancing at the fair, or whispering with a village lass. They seemed so happy. Their clothes seemed finer, their skin glowing, their steps lighter. Age would never touch them. Asceline felt very conscious of her own mortality, of the way she knew her body would slip away from her mind's control and by and by her inability and inadequacy would grow.

Yet to dwell on such things was wrong--such Asceline also thought. Living is only struggling not to be dead. Life is made up of the noble struggle towards the betterment of self and others. Her philosophy felt so strong in her, yet her flesh and her mind were so weak that the nagging doubt in the shadows of her gleaming beliefs always returned and left her feeling as if there was a bright broad and beautiful world out there filled with magical experiences, and that she was somehow trapped by her own laziness and self-deceptions, never able to make the crucial leap to experience it.

These ruminations tired her emotionally and intellecturally. She picked up the buckets and continued up to the quaint inviting cottage.