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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

theosZA

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After deriving much enjoyment reading the many great AARs on this forum (and with my long-running Spanish game coming to an end), I've decided it's time to contribute and write up my new game as I play.


The Lendian tribe are a Slavic realm in a very precarious position at the Old Gods start date. Historically they were incorporated into Great Morovia and later Hungary, though who knows what will unfold in Crusader Kings. In this AAR, I'll start as a chief (count) with the youngest of the Lechowicz dynasty and see where history takes us.

:excl: My own rules: No reloading or console commands. Role-playing is the highest priority, so playing according to the character's traits and respecting the relationships with other characters. I'll generally not be tutoring my own heir, so I expect the characters to vary a lot.

Using the following DLCs: Sword of Islam, The Republic, Legacy of Rome and, obviously, The Old Gods. (Not using Sons of Abraham, Rajas of India or Sunset Invasion.) Playing on the 2.0.4 patch.

I don't consider myself a strong player and this start position does look quite challenging, but I'm not going for blobbing and world conquest anyway. Hopefully the set-up and characters will lead to an interesting story.

Table of Contents
 
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theosZA

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Chapter 1: The Four Brothers

Our story begins on 1 January 867, in the centre of Europe where the tribe of the Lendians has been left to the sons of the dead High Chief Lech, founder of the Lechowicz dynasty. His eldest son, a bastard, is Chief Boryslav of Peremyshl. Boryslav and his two sons are chiefs of the three eastern Lendian provinces. The next son is Krakus, chief of Krakow in the Kingdom of Great Moravia to the west. The third son is Lechoslaw who is High Chief of the Lendians. The fourth son is Nadbor, chief of Sacz. Last of the four brothers, it is Nadbor's fortunes that we will follow...

Chief Nadbor of Sacz
b.847, Chief of Sacz since 860



The Lendians follow the Slavic faith and, while there are plenty of Slavic chiefs in the area, they are also surrounded by the threats of other faiths. Catholics in Great Moravia to the west; Romuva in Lithuania to the north; Norse in Könugarðr to the east; Magyar Tengri to the south-east.



Not as devout as his high chief, nor as ambitious as his bastard brother, Nadbor is simply happy that his position as chief of Sacz gives him his pick of the women in the realm with which to begin his legacy. He finds that the bright and learned Priestess Yevdokia gets his blood running and he takes her as his wife.

No sooner have the wedding festivities ended, than the Norse King Dyre of Könugarðr attacks the Lendians. 4000 Norsemen attack the eastern provinces, while High Chief Lechoslaw can muster little more than 500. By November the province of Vladimir Volynsky has fallen and the Norsemen are besieging Nadbor's own chiefdom of Sacz. Nadbor settles in the High Chief's court as his steward and so avoid the hardships that Sacz faces in 868. One by one Nadbor's holdings and vassals fall to King Dyre.



When High Chief Lechoslaw's army is caught and wiped out by King Dyre near Krakow, he is forced to surrender, giving up the eastern provinces to Könugarðr. The Lendian tribe is now reduced to just two provinces, Sandomierz and Sacz.

After conquering a large part of Bulgaria, the nomadic Magyar settle and establish the Kingdom of Hungary to the south. Well and truly surrounded by holy enemies, High Chief Lechoslaw holds a celebration of Jarilo.



Unwilling to risk his subjects in fights against his powerful neighbours, Nador contends himself with improving his holdings and bedding his wife. When his wife falls pregnant, Nadbor takes the sweet, shy Adelajda as his concubine. Nadbor's first child is a girl, Kazimiera.

Nadbor's brother, Krakus, is part of an independence war in Great Moravia. And now Great Moravia has come under attack from the newly formed Hungary. With money too tight to continue financing Nadbor's building plans, he sends raiders into Great Moravia to take advantage of the fact that King Rostislav is distracted by two wars.

Drunk on the success of raiding the barely protected provinces of Great Moravia, the raiders attack the Hungarian province of Spis. While looting farms in the vicinity of the Bishopric of Kisszeben, the 230 Lendian raiders are caught by a 6000-man Hungarian army. Each and every raider is killed.



The loss of all those men is tempered somewhat by news of Nadbor's wife's pregnancy. Yevdokia gives birth to a son and Nadbor's heir - Jacek.

Meanwhile, developments in the lands surrounding the Lendians are quite worrying. Könugarðr's growth is fuelled by continuous wars of conquest; Hungary has grown at the expense of Great Moravia; and the civil war of Great Moravia has ended with Nadbor's brother, Krakus, now once again a vassal of King Rostislav. Rather than face Rotislav's dungeons, Krakus has abandoned his Slavic beliefs and embraced the King's Catholic faith. The bonds of brotherhood are terminated and Krakus is now just another enemy of the Lendians.
 

theosZA

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Chapter 2: Hope in the Darkness

The Catholic Kingdom of Great Moravia soon finds itself embroiled in multiple wars with their northern neighbours. Nadbor takes the opportunity to send raiders into the lands of his Catholic brother, Krakus. Seeing that King Rostislav is unable to fight off Nadbor's raiders, High Chief Lechoslaw sends his own men to try wrest the province of Krakow from Krakus. 600 of Lechoslaw's men join 250 of Nadbor's in besieging Krakow. Even as Krakow falls, the rest of Lechoslaw's forces are eliminating all other enemies that they can find in Great Moravia.



In July 878, King Rostislav finally concedes defeat and gives up Krakow to High Chief Lechoslaw. Krakus is stripped of his chiefdom and he seeks refuge with his family in Nadbor's court. Nadbor takes pity on his brother, and the family are allowed to stay as long as Krakus's four children are taught to follow the Slavic beliefs.

During the two years of war, Nadbor has had three more children. His wife, Yevdokia, has borne him a daughter, Lucja, and a son, Konrad. His concubine, Adelajda, has had a daughter, Anastazja. Unfortunately Nadbor's health takes a turn for the worse. Seeing how much he still wants to accomplish in his chiefdom, and fearing he might not have much time to do it in, he pushes up taxes on the city of Gordice.

The Lendians have had only a year of peace when High Chief Drogowit of Mazovia attacks. Weakened by the previous war, Lechoslaw can only field 550 fighting men while Mazovia has a similar number. Ever supportive of his brother, the High Chief, Nadbor sends all the men he can, about 250. For many months the two armies avoid each other, content to besiege each other's holdings. But when Nadbor's men join the Lendian army, they strike at the Mazovians in Krakow. With the greater numbers, the Lendians win the day and Drogowitz calls off his campaign of conquest.



Meanwhile, the bastard brother, Chief Boryslav of Peremyshl has joined in a war for independence against the Norse King Dyre of Könugarðr. The rebels are swiftly dealt with and Boryslav has his chiefdom stripped off him. Seeing a chance for some more gold to finance construction in Sacz, Nadbor sends raiders to Peremyshl. With King Dyre busy with his expansionist wars, he doesn't trouble the raiders who soon move on to raiding Boryslav's son's province of Vladimir Volynsky.



News reaches the Lendians that there is a crisis amongst the Catholic faithful to the west. The Catholic Kingdom of East Francia stretches from the North Sea to the Mediterranean and its ruler, King Karl II, has been branded a heretic for following the Lollard teachings. Their religious leader, Pope Honorius II has united the other Catholics in a Crusade against East Francia.



With his health still poor, Nadbor is content to spend most of his time in his own gardens with his wife and his concubine. His concubine, Adelajda, gives him another son, Jakusz. With little else to occupy him, Nadbor takes another concubine, the young Swietoslawa, who shares Nadbor's love for his gardens. Nadbor has three delightful women to tend to him in his final days, before death plucks him from this world.



With scant resources, Nadbor has built walls, a militia and a town within Sacz. While the Lendians have lost their 3 eastern provinces, they've gained the province of Krakow. And they're still surrounded by religious enemies on all sides.
 
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theosZA

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Chapter 3: Forging a Friendship



Chief Jacek of Sacz
b.875, Chief of Sacz in 885



As the eldest son amongst six siblings, the 10-year-old boy, Jacek, becomes Chief of Sacz. He remains under the care and protection of High Chief Lechoslaw in Krakow, which is now the Lendians' capital. The High Chief's eldest son, Malowuj, is just 6 months older than Jacek and the two have grown up together in the same castle, becoming fast friends.

The steward of Sacz, Dobromir, is appointed as Jacek's regent. A loyal councilor for his former chief, Dobromir continues to administer the province much as Nadbor would have. He sends out raiding parties to augment the meager taxes he can scrape together, and uses the funds to finance additional building projects for the castle.

Since Krakow had been taken from Great Moravia, there has always been a fear of Catholic retribution. There's the first sign of potential problems when King Rastislav of Great Moravia allows the Catholic Teutonic Order to settle in the nearby province of Opole.



There is good news from the east however. The Norse King Dyre of Könugarðr dies after being maimed in battle. Könugarðr goes to his son, Halfdan, who has abandoned the gods of his father and adopted the beliefs of the locals. The Lendians now have a strong Slavic neighbour that might help in the defence against other faiths. The new king immediately starts subjugating his other neighbours, but Könugarðr is beset with civil wars as the Norse and Slavic faithful continuously fight. He soon becomes known as King Halfdan the Accursed.

Krakus, the bastard brother of Nadbor, dies of old age in the court of his son, Bronislav, in Könugarðr. Meanwhile Bronislav has converted to Norse and is one of those who wars with King Halfdan.

And news from the west is that the Catholic Crusade has ended. The Pope has declared that King Karl II of East Francia is possessed of vile spirits while his supporters view him as a latter-day prophet. The Crusade is successful and all of East Francia's possessions south of the Alps are granted to West Francia. Meanwhile much of the north of what used to be East Francia is now independent or has been conquered by the Norse of Denmark.



With the Catholics recovering from their Crusade, the Slavic Tribe of Sorbs attack Great Moravia to grow their territory. High Chief Lechoslaw joins High Chief Bjarnat as an ally against the common Catholic enemy. As Lechoslaw leaves Krakow for the war, he tells young Jacek that he has taught him everything he knows; that he is ready to assume the role of Chief. Jacek returns to Sacz, summons his first band of Lendian fighters and heads off into Catholic territory to join his High Chief.

 

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I have never seen such strange events in Europe so soon! This is looking interesting!
 

theosZA

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Most of the craziness is due to one man...


All those virtues, but a possessed heretic :laugh:

And the good news is that he's not yet dead, so the Catholic west is staying a bit crazy. Busy writing up chapter 4 now. Don't think I'll get to all the good stuff in this chapter, but Europe is definitely an interesting place.
 

theosZA

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Chapter 4: To See Distant Lands

With 365 men heading into Great Moravia, Chief Jacek is eager to prove his worth against the Christians. However, before his troops can join up with those of High Chief Lechoslaw, they run into an equal sized force of Great Moravia. Although inexperienced in warfare, Jacek understands the basics well enough. He reasons that an even battle isn't worth the risk when, if he can just link up with his High Chief, the combined army will be much stronger. And so Jacek retreats from his first battle.



When the Sorbs arrive in Great Moravia, the Slavic army numbers more than 1800 men. They chase down the Moravians, catching and destroying their army of 431 near Kuttenberg. With nothing left to defend their lands, the Slavic army settles in to besiege the Moravian holdings, hoping to end the war before King Markvart can get reinforcements from his Bulgarian ally. However Bulgaria is under attack from Hungary, so no reinforcements are forthcoming, and King Markvart eventually surrenders after four years of war.

The war has taken its toll on Chief Jacek's spirit. His eagerness to slay his enemies is instead replaced by a simple duty to support his High Chief. Once the surrender is accepted, he returns to Sacz to settle down and find a good wife. He betrothes Nadjiella Piast, the fifth child of the High Chief of Greater Poland.

Under the tutorship of his High Chief, Jacek had grown to love the act of learning. Now free of any desire for warfare, he just wants to see foreign lands and meet with their kings and their wise men. Hearing of his desires, High Chief Lechoslaw appoints Jacek as his Chancellor and diplomatic envoy. Jacek learns of the great Greek city of Constantinople to the south whose advanced ways are said to be ahead of anywhere else in Europe. With Lechoslaw needing Jacek nearby to treat with his immediate neighbours, Jacek sends his brother, Konrad, to Constantinople to see if the tales are true.



With High Chief Lechoslaw entering his old age, it becomes clear that he favours his nephew, Jacek, over his own son, Malowuj. He would probably name Jacek as his heir if it didn't run contrary to all the traditions of his people. Instead he settles for giving Jacek the province of Sandomierz, the former capital of the Lendians. The fort of Sandomierz has been neglected and will need a lot of funds to turn it into a proper castle, but the locals have a better knowledge of miltary matters and understanding of economics than the backwards people of Sacz, so Jacek decides to move his court to Sandomierz.



With this long lasting peace, High Chief Lechoslaw decides to hold a great festival to celebrate the arrival of spring. Once again showing his favour to Jacek, Lechoslaw chooses him to represent the god Jarilo in the festival. Another great honour bestowed on Jacek, his loyalty to Lechoslaw is secure despite him having more fighting men to call on than his High Chief.

As the festival draws to a close, Jacek's brother, Konrad, returns with exciting news from the south. It seems the stories are true and the Lendians have much they can learn from the Greeks. He brings details of some economic advances that they have made, but that only whets Jacek's appetite. Konrad is sent back to Constantinople and a trickle of knowledge comes from there in the following years.

There is news from the north-east - infighting between the Russians and Norse ends with the Norse Chief Gunnar forming the Kingdom of Garðariki, but has decided to follow the Slavic gods to better secure his kingdom. Along with Könugarðr, this means there are two strong Slavic kingdoms to the east and it is looking good for the future of the Slavic faith.

Nadjiella Piast, daughter of the High Chief of Greater Poland, comes of age, and Jacek and Nadjiella marry. It isn't long before the couple have their first child, a daughter, Stanislawa.

In 897, old age and the demands of his position catch up with High Chief Lechoslaw, and he dies, leaving his son, Malowuj, as the new High Chief. Though Jacek had always fancied he'd have made a good leader of the Lendians himself, he is truly happy for his good friend, Malowuj. Their bonds of friendship, formed during their shared youth in Krakow, should keep the Lendians strong in the coming years.



High Chief Malowuj keeps Jacek on as his Chancellor. Everything seems to be going great between the two Lendian chiefs when Jacek overhears Malowuj making plans to take the province of Sacz away from Jacek. This betrayal by his friend hurts more than anything his enemies could do. He is tempted to confront Malowuj immediately about the issue, and a younger Jacek may well have done that. Instead he returns to Sandomierz for a few weeks to spend some time with his wife and daughter. With time to think about it, Jacek realizes Malowuj's plotting will be for nothing. Almost all his vassals would support Jacek over Malowuj, and to secure the support of Mayor Zegota, he sends his daughter, Stanislawa, to be tutored by him. And since Malowuj can not succeed, there is nothing to be gained by confronting him. Jacek returns to Krakow, vowing to remain faithful to his friend.

Krakus, the last of the original Lechoslaw brothers, former Chief of Krakow, dies at age 64. His uncle's death is forgotten amidst celebrations of the birth of Jacek's second daughter, Nadzieja.

News from the west is that the "mad" king of East Francia, King Karl II, is dead. His son, Gaetano, rules there now but is still a boy. He professes to be a true Catholic, so the chaos there may have ended. However East Francia is now a shadow of the great kingdom that stretched from sea to sea. Much of East Francia is held by the Danish Norsemen. The Danish ruler, King Knud, having driven back the Christian threat unites the followers of the Norse gods and proclaims himself Fylkir of a reformed Norse religion. Not all the Norse choose to follow this Fylkir, but enough do to make the Norse a real threat to Europe.



Catholic, Norse and Tengri are all real threats to the Slavic Lendians. The more he learns of these foreign beliefs, the more Jacek realizes the importance of protecting the Slavic faith. He sees his second daughter, Nadzieja, as a Slavic priestess and tutors her himself so that she can be a true follower of the gods. He also starts on plans to build a new temple for her - something that might one day rival even the cathedrals of the Christian god.
 
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theosZA

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Chapter 5: End of the Lendians

With Chief Jacek supporting the High Chief, Malowuj's control of the Lendians is safe. Like his father, Malowuj holds a spring festival with Jacek again chosen to represent the god Jarilo in the festivities. In the feast afterwards, with Malowuj deep in his cups, he brings Jacek into his confidence about his vision for the region and his immediate plans. Malowuj seeks to unite all the Polish tribes under him as their king. More ambitious than Jacek would have ever expected from Malowuj, but seeing that his friend was unlikely to have a change of heart, Jacek resolves to support him in this endeavour. Jacek immediately sends word back to Sandomierz and Sacz for his warriors to march on Greater Poland.



Jacek's wife, Nadjiella, is unhappy that he is supporting Malowuj against her own brother, High Chief Coscisko. He tries to explain to her how a united Polish people will be stronger and better able to defend themselves against other foreigners, but Nadjiella will have none of it, and tensions grow between husband and wife. Jacek contends himself instead with managing the Polish campaign. Between Jacek and Malowuj they have over 1900 men, far more than Greater Poland seem able to muster. After a few minor battles, Malowuj's and Jacek's men part ways to put as many of the Polish forts under siege as possible. Jacek's men get some glory of their own in the battle of Gniezno where they defeat a force half their size. After that they settle in for the long sieges.

During the war, Jacek's elder daughter, Stanislawa, comes of age. Although sickly, she has her father's intelligence and, until Jacek has a son, she is still heir to his Chiefdom. Jacek has by now visited many neighbouring courts, and with Greater Poland out of the running, Jacek decides an alliance with King Halfdan of Könugarðr is best. Although Halfdan has an unsavoury reputation in his own kingdom, he is a follower of the Slavic gods and Jacek has always found him quite agreeable. Most importantly however, Könugarðr is the strongest Slavic kingdom in the region and an alliance with them is crucial. Stanislawa is betrothed to the 12-year-old Prince Oddr, third son of King Halfdan.



Finally High Chief Choscisko surrenders to the Lendians in June 914. To promote unity in his lands, High Chief Malowuj officially disbands the Lendian tribe as he starts forming his Polish kingdom. For now it consists of three parts: Greater Poland west of Krakow, Lesser Poland east of Krakow and Silesia west of the lands held by the Teutonic Order. The following year, another spring festival is held, this time celebrating Malowuj's victory in the war. He does not forget his friend as Jacek is once again chosen to represent the god Jarilo in the festivities.



There is peace for a time as Malowuj struggles with maintaining his expanded realm. While Jacek is serving him in his role as Chancellor, he sees all the resistance to Malowuj's rule. With Jacek's brother-in-law in Malowuj's dungeon, Nadjiella insists Jacek support another Piast for High Chief of Greater Poland. Her nephew, Boguchwal, is gaining a lot of support in the realm, but Jacek won't consider abandoning his friend for even a second. From then on Nadjiella is hardly ever seen in the same room as Jacek and rumours from Sacz say that she shares her bed with other women instead. A male heir seems unlikely now.

With no wife as companion, Jacek fills his free time studying the books and manuscripts that he's acquired over the years. Some are from his brother in Constantinople; others are gifts obtained from foreign dignitaries; and one book in particular, obtained from a mysterious cloaked stranger, so fascinates Jacek that he spends weeks secluded studying it.



When he finally gives up on his study of the strange book, he realizes too late that Malowuj's rule is crumbling. Despite all his grand ambitions, Jacek must admit that Malowuj is just not cut out for it. The Piasts refuse to follow Malowuj any more and he is forced to give up Greater Poland and Krakow to Boguchwal Piast. Silesia and Lesser Poland remain under Malowuj, but his court is displaced. Ever a true friend, Jacek cedes Sandomierz to Malowuj so he can rule from there. Jacek moves his own court back to Sacz.

 

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Chapter 6: It all Crumbles

Jacek's plans for a new temple for his younger daughter, originally intended to be built in Sandomierz, have to be altered. A suitable site is found near the castle of Nowy Sacz, and after the local priests have prayed over it, construction begins.

Both Chief Jacek and High Chief Malowuj had hoped for peace after giving up Greater Poland to the Piasts. But it is not to be. Separated from Lesser Poland by leagues of Tengri and Christians, Silesia was always going to be trouble. And so it proves to be when the Chieftess Beata of Lower Silesia revolts against Malowuj's rule. Not willing to give up any more land, High Chief Malowuj is resolved to fight the rebels and immediately summons all loyal fighting men to him.



Once again Jacek answers his High Chief's call to arms and his troops head west with Malowuj. Their combined might is easily enough to put down Chieftess Beata's meagre forces and start sieging her holdings. But this infighting has attracted vultures - the Catholics of Great Moravia use it as a pretext to bring "civilization" and their Christian god to Slavic lands. It is the Holy War that Jacek has long feared might come, though for now the fighting is only over the provinces of Silesia. Seeing the Christian threat, as well as her own helpless situation, Chieftess Beata surrenders.

With Jacek's men added to those of Malowuj, there are 1800 men defending Silesia, and they outnumber the 1100 with which Great Moravia are attacking. But Great Moravia are quick to bring in their allies, Bulgaria, another Catholic nation south of Hungary. This brings their forces to nearly 5000, greatly outnumbering the defenders.

And to make things worse, Jacek's elder daughter, Stanislawa, dies from her illness before she could be wed. An entreaty is made to King Halfdan to instead accept Jacek's younger daughter, Nadzieja, to be betrothed to Prince Oddr. The proposal is accepted, though no troops come from Könugarðr to help High Chief Malowuj.



It seems few Slavic rulers are willing to support Malowuj. He's seen as both greedy and weak, and has alienated almost all others who might come to his defence. Malowuj's army is destroyed in Upper Silesia and he is soon forced to surrender. The conquered provinces are split between the Teutonic Order and Great Moravia. High Chief Malowuj rules only Lesser Poland now - which is just his own holdings in Sandomierz and Jacek's in Sacz.

At least the warfare has not touched Sacz, and the workers have successfully completed the Temple of Jasto. Jacek still intends to give it to his daughter, Nadzieja, though he realizes she will probably be Chieftess one day. It must at least remain in the family so that one day it might match the Great Temple he envisions.

With all the losses, Malowuj seems to have lost heart. He keeps his friend Jacek in his court instead of sending him out on diplomatic missions. And very little news seems to reach Sandomierz these days. But Jacek speaks to every man passing through Sandiomerz for any scrap of information from the Christian, Norse or Tengri kingdoms. Eventually his efforts pay off as he learns that the Christian Kingdom of East Francia is no more. It turns out that the "mad" king's brother, Franz, was a true believer of King Karl's heretical teachings, and he deposed his nephew to have East Francia follow his righteous path. But with East Francia so weakened, they could not withstand the might that the Pope's Catholics could bring to bear. Now the former lands of East Francia are part of Lotharingia, a true Catholic Kingdom.



With the years passing, Jacek's daughter and heir, Nadzieja, comes of age. True to his promise, King Halfdan of Könugarðr sends his son to Sacz, and Nadzieja and Prince Oddr are married.

Using the marriage as an excuse, Jacek spends as much time as he can in Sacz. But eventually he must return to Malowuj in Sandomierz. When the two friends greet again, Jacek senses something different in Malowuj. It seems the High Chief has grown desperate - willing to do anything to regain some of his former glory before old age takes him. He orders Jacek to tour the neighbouring lands, to convince the local mayors and priests to support Malowuj's claim for their land instead of their own chiefs.

Jacek departs the next day, though he doesn't know how he can possibly succeed. No one else respects Malowuj, and though Malowuj probably expects Jacek to cheat, lie and coerce on his behalf, those aren't things Jacek can do. The first night, while his entourage sets up camp, Jacek plans how and where he'll begin. But as he pores over the map of the nearby chiefdoms, he fails to see the assassin slip in through the back of the tent.



Was the assassin sent by one of the nearby Chiefs not wanting to see Malowuj's influence spread in their lands? Perhaps. For Jacek, though, he died how he lived: always faithful to his friend and High Chief.
 

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Didn't see I'm afraid. There might have been a message that I clicked too quickly or something. But as it is, I wasn't too sad to see Jacek depart this world. Being the friend and vassal of a fairly incompetent leader hampered any real development. I think Nadzieja's reign will be more interesting - I'm busy writing up her first chapter now.
 

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Chapter 7: Half an Eye on Sandomierz



Chieftess Nadzieja of Sacz
b.904, Chieftess of Sacz in 923



With her elder sister having died of an illness, Nadzieja becomes Chieftess of Sacz. Her husband is Prince Oddr, third son of King Halfdan of Könugarðr and heir to the Grand Principality of Galich. Her liege is High Chief Malowuj of Lesser Poland.

Nadzieja was born in Sandomierz, and although she was just a girl, she remembers when her father gave the castle up to High Chief Malowuj because Malowuj had lost Krakow with Greater Poland. She cursed her father for a fool for pandering to his friend. Unfortunately she's in a weaker position than her High Chief, and so learns patience and waits for the right time to reclaim Sandomierz.

She sends out raiders to bolster the province's coffers. While the men are raiding, she goes through the collection of scrolls and books her father had accumulated. One book in particular piques her interest - a mysterious book that also kept her father so enraptured. Even with her father's notes, she's unable to decipher the book's secret but has gained a newfound appreciation for all these books.

In 925 Nadzieja gives birth to a boy, Gniewomir, who might one day inherit both Sacz and the Grand Principality of Galich.



Like with her uncle, Konrad, during her father's rule, Nadzieja employs a distantly related aunt, Hanna, to travel to Constantinople to study their culture and technology there. It seems that the Byzantine Empire, of which Constantinople is the capital, is slowly diminishing in the face of pressure from the Arab Muslims. However their faith, Orthodox Christianity, has been adopted by King Linütika of Hungary. Though whether it's Tengri or Christians to the south makes little difference - they're still the strongest realm in the region and are always a threat to followers of the Slavic gods.

In 927 High Chief Malowuj hosts a spring festival in Sandomierz. Upon returning to Sacz, Nadzieja realizes that she's pregnant. The midwives are upset that she was travelling while pregnant; the priests say that the birth will be blessed because of her honouring Jarilo at the festival. She gives birth to a daughter, Kunegunda, but there are complications during the birth. Afterwards the midwives say it's unlikely Nadzieja will be able to give birth again.



Although Nadzieja recovers from this difficulty, her own mother's health is failing, and she eventually dies at the age of 48.

The elderly Orthodox King Linütika of Hungary also dies, reportedly having lost even the ability to care for himself in his last years. He is replaced by his grandson, Csongor, who is still a young boy but apparently a pagan, following the Tengri faith of his forefathers.

King Halfdan of Könugarðr is defending and losing against Romuva Curonians from the north. Unwilling to see Slavic lands conquered by foreign faiths, and knowing that her husband will inherit land in Könugarðr, Nadzieja joins the war on the side of King Halfdan. She can raise a little over 750 men which are sent east to engage the Curonians. Their first battle is not far from the borders of Sandomierz where they defeat a force about half their size. It's a minor battle in the scale of the whole war, but it may have proved enough to tip the scales as the two leaders soon negotiate a peace.



Nadzieja knows her mother came from the Piast dynasty who now rule Greater Poland. And she doesn't blame them for the diminished fortunes of her family - that all rests on the weakness of her own High Chief as far as she's concerned. To show that she harbour no ill will towards the Piasts, and to foster greater ties with them, she sends her son Gniewomir to be tutored by her cousin, High Chief Boguchwal of Greater Poland.

By the time he's ten, Gniewomir is already turning out well with pride and ambition that could make him a king one day. Unfortunately High Chief Boguchwal dies and Nadzieja must find another tutor to finish her son's education. Nadzieja reasons that if he wants to be a truly great ruler, commanding the respect of all his subjects, he will need to be able to fight alongside his men. And so Gniewomir is trained by her uncle, Jakusz, who serves her in training the Sacz levies.

With Boguchwal's death, the peace in Greater Poland, which had held since Malowuj ceded the land to Boguchwal, is broken. Greater Poland is plunged into civil war after civil war.

King Halfdan of Könugarðr is also involved in a civil war - this one is with a few chiefs trying to gain their independence. Nadzieja sends about 750 men east to join King Halfdan's army. Meanwhile she starts building facilities for training and accomodating a temple militia in the Temple of Jasto. The money her father had put aside to improve the temple is not exactly being used in the way he envisioned it, but Nadzieja knows she will need the extra troops if she is ever going to claim Sandomierz as planned.

It isn't long before a peace is reached in King Halfdan's civil war, though he has lost his eldest son, leaving his second son, Prince Ottarr, as heir to Könugarðr.

Then High Chief Malowuj dies a natural death at age 63.

 

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Chapter 8: Son of Sacz

The old High Chief had had three children off his wife, though all have since perished. That leaves just his youngest child, Ryksa, an 8-year-old daughter of a concubine, as High Chieftess.



This is, of course, the moment Nadzieja had been so patiently waiting for. Knowing that the Sandomierz warriors won't be rushing to defend their new High Chieftess, Nadzieja assembles her own troops to reclaim Sandomierz from High Chieftess Ryksa. The Battle of Koprzywnica sees the Sacz army of 867 clashing against the Sandomierz army of 652. Despite their numerical superiority, the Sacz army is beaten back after a hard-fought battle.



With all the help Nadzieja has been providing King Halfdan of Könugarðr, she hopes that he'd be able to assist her now that she's on the backfoot. A promise of aid by King Halfdan is received, but no armies from the east are forthcoming as King Halfdan's forces are tied up in his own wars.

So Chieftess Nadzieja does what she'd hoped she'd never have to. From the treasury she takes all the money earmarked for improvements to the Temple of Jasto and hires fourteen hundred Lithuanian mercenaries. Knowing her own position of weakness, she pays them whatever they ask and directs them to Sandomierz and the High Chieftess's army. Ryksa's remaining forces are easily wiped out by the mercenaries and soon Sandomierz is attacked and sacked. With no allies and no army, Ryksa has no choice but to surrender Sandomierz to Nadzieja.



With her mercenaries returning to Lithuania, Nadzieja now has the men of both Sacz and Sandomierz to call on. She sends them all off to help King Halfdan of Könugarðr with his ongoing civil war. The war is punctuated by the death of the king from old age. He is succeeded by his second son, Nadzieja's brother-in-law, Ottarr. The Norse culture of his forefathers has become quite diluted within Könugarðr and Ottarr has adopted the culture of the local Russians. He renames his kingdom Ruthenia as the Russians call it.

Nadzieja's husband, Prince Oddr inherits the Grand Principality of Galich which includes lands in south-west Ruthenia near Sacz, and some lands in north-east Ruthenia. He leaves Sacz to rule his Grand Principality from Peremyshl.

With Ottarr as king of Ruthenia, the rebels are soon defeated, but then he's attacked by Queen Kraka of Garðariki. Nadzieja's men join King Ottarr's to form a combined army of 4000 men which defeat the Garðariki army of 3000 at the Battle of Kolomna, keeping Ruthenia safe.

Nadzieja's son, Gniewomir, finishes his education and is betrothed to Adleta Piast, the daughter of the current High Chief of Greater Poland, Karol II. He's not a master of warfare like Nadzieja's uncle, Jakusz, but still good enough to be trusted to lead troops in battle. Of greater concern for Nadzieja is that her son seems to have lost all the grand ambitions he had as a child.



Civil war breaks out again in Greater Poland. High Chief Karol II looks certain to fall unless Nadzieja can assist him. Unfortunately all her troops are still in the east in Ruthenia fighting against Garðariki. The army is summoned back to Sacz to help Karol, but by the time they get back, Karol has almost lost.

Gniewomir joins the army, leading the flank, as they head west into Greater Poland. His first battle is comfortable: an easy win with over 1300 defeating 300 rebels. But then the army is caught by the rebels' allies, Pomerania, who have 1800 men, outnumbering the Sacz army. With the Sacz centre holding firm, Gniewomir flees with his flank, dooming the rest of the army to destruction. And in that moment the civil war for Greater Poland is lost, Karol's surrender following just a few days later.



Nadzieja's daughter, Kunegunda, finishes her education under Nadzieja's cousin, the Diviner of Sacz. Trained to be a priestess, she is given the family's Temple of Jasto. Without the resources of the whole realm to improve the temple, it's unlikely to ever be as grand as Jacek's vision for it, but Nadzieja has always found other uses for that money anyway - whether it was paying for mercenaries or providing alms to the poor. A priestess who can give her full attention to it, is what the temple needs.

With King Ottarr successfully defending Ruthenia against Garðariki, he looks to expand Ruthenia by picking off the weaker provinces around him. Nadzieja continues to aid him, sending her son, Gniewomir, with her army. Gniewomir is happy to fight when the odds are overwhelmingly in his favour, but retreats at the slightest hint of danger. Failing to join a close battle near Pronsk and a quick retreat at the battle of Solotcha may have saved Sacz troops, but it costs King Ottar the conquest of Pronsk.



It comes time for Gniewomir to marries his betrothed, Adleta Piast. Her father is no longer High Chief of Greater Poland, but with all the civil wars that have been fought there, who knows how things will change in Greater Poland in the future.

Meanwhile, to the south, the Tengri king of Hungary, Csongor, dies at 47, leaving his young son, Dezsó, as the new king of Hungary. The boy converts to Catholic Christianity.
 

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Chapter 9: An Unlikely King



On 30 March, 952, High Chief Igor of Chernigov, a principality of Ruthenia, declares war on King Ottarr to put Nadzieja's husband, Prince Oddr, onto the throne of Ruthenia. Initially High Chief Igor is alone in his war, but he soon gets the support of Prince Oddr and Nadzieja.

Knowing that King Ottarr has allies to call on, Nadzieja hopes to end the war quickly and re-contracts with the Lithuanian mercenaries that won her Sandomierz. The mercenaries and her own warriors join up to form an army of over 3000 men. The Sacz army heads east into Ruthenia.

The first engagement of the war is the Battle of Dubrovitsya. The army of Sacz fights an army of Ruthenia numbering a little over 1800. With the greater numbers and the experience of the mercenary captains, it's an easy victory and there is hope that the war will be over soon.



Unfortunately King Ottarr calls in an ally: High Chief Kazimierz of Pomerania. With nearly 3000 men himself, many months pass with the armies manouevering around each other and sieging minor holdings. The next major engagement is when the Sacz army comes to the defence of the Chernigov principality in the Battle of Kozelets. Outnumbering their Ruthenian opponents three to one, it's another easy victory.

Meanwhile the rest of the Ruthenian army is descending on Sacz. The much larger Sacz army heads west as quickly as possibly and the armies meet in the Battle of Vladimir Volynsky. With nearly 2500 men in the Sacz army to around 900 men in the Ruthenian army, it looks like another easy victory. But then the 2500-strong Pomeranian army reinforce their Ruthenian allies and the tables are turned. The Sacz army retreats to lick their wounds and rebuild in Sandomierz. The combined Ruthenia-Pomerania army then sweeps Ruthenia of all rebel forces.



In the time of rebuilding Nadzieja's son and heir, Gniewomir, has a son, Maslaw, off his Piast wife.

By the summer of 954 the Sacz army has reformed with over 2000 men. They head east and encounter the Ruthenian army which has almost 2000 men as well. The battle goes surprisingly well and, with the Ruthenian army broken, the Sacz army starts sieging the western provinces of Ruthenia.

The constant fighting has so weakened King Ottarr that his other neigbours smell blood and press him further. It is unfortunate that this Slavic infighting has given the faith's enemies an opportunity, but with Prince Oddr's faction now holding the upper hand, there's no way that there can be peace until King Ottarr is deposed.

Prince Oddr is determined to lead his own troops for his claim to the Kingdom of Ruthenia. It's the kind of courage that should serve as inspiration for his son, though it must be said that Oddr's acumen for battle is quite poor. And it ends in tragedy when, in the summer of 955, he is maimed in battle while fighting for the province of Galich. He dies shortly thereafter.



As Oddr's heir, the war is now being fought to put his and Nadzieja's son, Gniewomir, on to the throne of Ruthenia. Gniewomir inherits the Grand Principality of Galich from his father, though in 956 he cedes the title to a local chief, Lasukas. He returns to Sacz with excuses - saying that he would rather focus his efforts on the war for Ruthenia. Nadzieja curses him for a coward and resolves not to send him out onto the field of battle again. He is instead kept in Sacz to inspire and train new recruits for the war.

With King Ottarr on the back foot, the Sacz army leads the rebels in besieging King Ottarr's capital, Kiev. King Ottarr concedes land to Romuva Lithuania and, freed from his war with Lithuania, he and Pomerania now have a combined army of over 3000 men which moves to retake Kiev.

The rebels avoid the loyalist army and eventually more reinforcements arrive from Sacz. The rebel army now has about 1100 men from Sacz, 1000 men from Chernigov and 1400 mercenaries. As the loyalist army splits, leaving only 700 men in Kiev, the rebels hit the capital and rout the men that have remained there.

Now neither side is willing to risk a potentially fatal attack, and the main armies continue to avoid each other. They are content to follow a cycle of sieging and retaking holdings as months turn into years. It seems as if the stalemate will never end. But then High Chief Igor of Chernigov is able to bring in another ally. Greater Poland has been through a number of rulers lately, and the current ruler, High Chieftess Wszemila, is willing to support Gniewomir's claim. King Ottarr of Ruthenia brings in the tribe of Sorbs on his side, leaving the war in the balance again.

In the summer of 960, the Chernigov army of just over 1600 men is caught by the loyalist army of 2300 in Turov near Kiev. The Sacz army is busy trying to retake Chernigov, but if the Chernigov army is lost it would be devestating. And so they give up their siege and race to the defence of their Chernigov allies.



The Sacz reinforcements arrive just in the nick of time. With a tactically advantageous position against the loyalists, the Battle of Mazyr is soon won. Although the casualties on both sides are near equal, the loyalists are in full retreat and the Sacz army gives chase. They eventually catch the Ruthenians in Galich and destroy their army, killing Prince þorgil, son of King Ottarr, in the battle.

The remaining Pomeranians are chased down to Hungarian lands where their remaining army of 1000 men is also destroyed.

Finally after nearly 9 years of war, on 8 February 961, with no armies left between him and his ally, King Ottarr surrenders and Gniewomir is crowned King of Ruthenia.



Less than 3 months later, under pressure from the Ruthenian chiefs, he cedes the kingdom to his cousin, Prince Daniil, the son of Sölvi who was Oddr's youngest brother and fourth son of King Halfdan.
 
Last edited:

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Thanks for the support.

Writing up chapter 10 now, after which I think I'll do a summary/world overview thing before continuing.
 

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Chapter 10: For a Safe and Secure Future

Chieftess Nadzieja is furious that her son, Gniewomir, has just given away his kingdom like that. So many lives lost on both sides ... Sacz's greatest victory ... and all for nothing! She is determined that her grandson, Maslaw, will not grow up to be a coward like his father and takes his education into her own hands.



Unfortunately it doesn't all go to plan. Maslaw's foolhardy courage results in him falling while climbing one of the Nowy Sacz castle towers. His broken bones eventually heal, leaving just scars behind, but Nadzieja worries that he'll lose his fearlessness.

Meanwhile a war between Catholic Hungary and Tengri Cumania ends with Hungary conquering a large swathe of territory from Cumania. It seems only a matter of time before their young King Dezsó turns his eye northward to Slavic lands. But fortunately the boy has overextended and half his lands revolt. The independence war is over quickly with a few new, mostly Tengri, lands arising out of eastern Hungary. The biggest new realm is Wallachia under High Chief Mózes.

War and politics have left the Kingdom once known as Könugarðr, divided. The Principality of Kiev controls most of the southern and western parts of the former realm (though it doesn't include the province known as Kiev). The Chiefdom of Galich is independent, sitting between the two halves of Kiev. And the Kingdom of Ruthenia makes up the central and eastern parts of the former realm.

After 4 decades of rule, Chieftess Nadzieja feels despair. Once she'd dared hope that her dynasty might forge a powerful Slavic kingdom, but instead the wars have left the Slavic lands shattered and weak. All she has tried to accomplish has only made things worse. She dies a natural death aged 61.



Chief Gniewomir of Sacz
b.925, once High Chief of the Grand Principality of Galich 955-956, once King of Ruthenia 961, Chief of Sacz and Sandomierz in 966



Gniewomir never wanted any titles. He was happy enough to give up Galich when the ambitious Chief Lasukas wanted it. And whoever thought he could hold onto the Kingdom of Ruthenia must have been crazy. Ruthenia is surely in much better hands with his cousin, King Daniil. Yes, Daniil is the firm hand Ruthenia needs to keep the Slavic faithful safe in these dangerous times. And so as Gniewomir is named Chief of Sacz and Sandomierz, he hatches a plan. As the first part of his plan, and as his first act as Chief, he unites Sacz and Sandomierz into the Principality of Lesser Poland, a title abandoned since his mother claimed Sandomierz.

With a principality created, Gniewomir is nominally a high chief. He knows there's no intrinsic value in the title, but he wants the respect for the next part of his plan. He makes the journey to Ruthenia to visit King Daniil, nominally the man who deposed Gniewomir. In the castle of Kiev, in full sight of the Ruthenian high chiefs and the rest of Daniil's court, he surprises King Daniil by bowing before him and swearing his allegiance.



Gniewomir's older son, Maslaw, is left behind to be tutored by King Daniil.

Although Gniewomir knew Daniil was involved in a few wars, he has underestimated how much of a problem they were. The first war is to bring the province of Kolomna back into Ruthenia. No serious offence against has actually been mounted and it isn't long before Daniil just gives up the conquest. The second war is against the rebelling Chiefdom of Galich who seek to return Prince Ottarr to the Ruthenian throne. Galich, although fully occupied by Ruthenia, is allied with Radimichi to the north and so still pose a significant threat. The third war is by the Grand Principality of Kiev seeking to subjugate Ruthenia and so reunite most of the lands that were once Könugarðr under High Chief Igor of Kiev.

The wars have left King Daniil without an army and Radimichi and Kiev armies are roaming free in Ruthenia. There is one glimmer of hope: this is a three-way war for control of Ruthenia and all sides are hostile to one another. Gniewomir counsels his king to be patient and let his enemies fight amongst themselves while Ruthenia rebuilds its strength.

Radimichi troops find their way to Gniewomir's lands and start sieging Sandomierz. Gniewomir, fearing a siege on his capital, spends the treasury building up the defences of the castle of Nowy Sacz. One by one the holdings of Sandomierz fall to Radimichi.

Gniewomir's older son, Maslaw, comes of age and returns to Sacz. Despite the stutter, he has a way with words that few can match. Gniewomir, eager to pass on some responsibilities to his firstborn, appoints him his Chancellor. And fearing that this war will end poorly, Gniewomir arranges the betrothal of Maslaw to Vasilisa, a daughter of High Chief Igor of Kiev.

The months pass with numerous battles between the Galich alliance and Kiev, greatly weakening them both. Only the birth of a daughter, Salomea, relieves the monotony. Eventually Gniewomir can raise enough men from Sacz to retake Sandomierz.



Seeing Gniewomir's success in retaking Sandomierz and the value of Gniewomir's earlier counsel, King Daniil appoints High Chief Gniewomir as his Marshall and he is set to training the Ruthenian troops. It's a job which Gniewomir relishes since he loves warfare, tactics and strategy, but doesn't want to be on another battlefield until the end of his days.

Gniewomir's younger son, Bezprym, turns 6, and wanting to maintain good ties with his Polish neighbours, Gniewomir sends him off to be tutored by High Chief Goszczon II of Greater Poland.

With enemy armies once again approaching Lesser Poland, Gniewomir's army falls back into Greater Poland. Both Radimichi and Kiev armies arrive in Sandomierz intent on claiming that prize. When the dust settles the Radimichi army is forced to flee leaving just 500 men in the Kiev army. And then Gniewomir's army swoops in, catching the Kiev army at Czersk. With nearly 900 men, it's a comfortable victory for Lesser Poland and the bulk of the Kiev force is destroyed.



It's been seven years since Kiev begain their war. Although they've had the better of the fighting over the years, they basically have no more army and a white peace is agreed between High Chief Igor of Kiev and King Daniil of Ruthenia.

Ruthenian armies converge on Kiev province to free the capital, which is soon accomplished. Then they head north to Radimichi to face the remains of Prince Ottarr's alliance. Those forces are easily defeated and so Galich also agrees to a white peace.

By the time all the peace treaties are signed, it's 976. Ruthenia is finally at peace again. Since the war for Prince Oddr's claim for the throne of Ruthenia began 24 years ago, there's been just 4 years without a civil war in Ruthenia. Gniewomir hopes that this new peace may last much longer.

 

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Interlude: State of the World

It's now 976 and time to have a look at what the world looks like at the moment...



We'll take a look at each region briefly.



In Northern Europe, Denmark is the star of the show. Currently ruled by a genius king, they've reformed the Norse religion and are eating away at East Francia. Norway is exactly de jure Norway (including Iceland and the islands north of Scotland). Sviþjod used to be the lower two-thirds of Sweden, but the kingdom has been destroyed, leaving just a bunch of duchies and counties behind. Denmark, Norway and the remnants of Sviþjod are all reformed Norse. A single Old Norse province is at the far northern tip of Norway. Finland is Suomenusko, and is mostly split between the Käkisalmians and Estonia.



The British Isles are as divided as ever, with only the Petty Kingdoms of Wessex, Jorvik and the Isles of any significance. The entire British Isles is Catholic including Jorvik since around the turn of the century.



The Karling legacy is very fragmented. There are four Karling monarchs left: the Queen of Burgundy, Queen of East Francia, King of Bavaria and King of Italy (which we'll see more of in a moment). East Francia's collapse has been the most notable, losing territory to Denmark and then having Bavaria become independent. But West Francia and Lotharingia are similarly divided as well. Bavaria and Aquitaine look to be the biggest powers in Western Europe. The whole of Western Europe is Catholic except for the Danish-held territories. After East Francia embraced the Lollard heresy they were crushed in Crusades and didn't exist for a while until being reestablished under a Catholic monarch.



Catholics control the north and west of Spain and Sunni Muslims control the south. Across in Africa are Shia Muslims. In fact the Idrisid Sultanate is the only Shia presence in the world. Galicia, Asturias, Castille and Aragon are all reasonably sized Catholic kingdoms that are a threat to the isolated Sunnis of the Umayyad in Spain.



Italy, ruled by a Karling, is in the middle of two civil wars disputing the succession. It is Catholic. The Byzantine Empire has lost a bit of territory, with quite a few counties and duchies independent or conquered by the Abbasids. Only the Byzantines and its independent provinces are Orthodox. The Sunni Abbasid Empire dominates the near east. Ten years ago they were taken over briefly by Muzaffaraddin the Conquerer, but is now once again safely in the Abbasid dynasty.



And back to familiar territory. Eastern Europe is mainly Slavic, with Romuva in de jure Lithuania, a Catholic Hungary, a Tengri Tartaria and a few Suomensko provinces in the east. Garðariki, Hungary and Tartaria are the big players in this area. As we've seen, Könugarðr used to be a big player but has lost quite a bit of land and is severly weakened.
 

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Interlude: State of the Dynasty

A look at Chief Nadbor's side of the dynasty...

We'll briefly take a look at the Ruthenian side of the family in the beginning of the next chapter.

A summary of our rulers so far...


Nadbor, b.847 d.885, Chief of Sacz 860-885 [8/1/12/1/4] Lustful steward.
Got his side of the dynasty off to a start with 6 children off his wife and two concubines. He also started to develop the economy of Sacz.


Jacek, son of Nadbor, b.875 d.923, Chief of Sacz 885-923, Chief of Sandomierz 895-915 [17/10/10/5/14] Loyal friend.
Rewarded by his uncle for his loyalty by being granted the Chiefdom of Sandomierz. Helped his friend and cousin conquer Greater Poland, who then lost it and reclaimed Sandomierz from Jacek. Tribe of Lendians became Lesser Poland in the process, which consisted of just Sacz and Sandomierz.


Nadzieja, daughter of Jacek, b.904 d.966, Chieftess of Sacz 923-966, Chieftess of Sandomierz 939-966 [12/8/9/8/15] Frustrated mother.
After the death of the High Chief, she reclaimed Sandomierz from his daughter. This destroyed the title of Lesser Poland. Her husband's claim for Ruthenia was pushed by a faction in Ruthenia. The war took 9 years during which her husband died, resulting in her son, Gniewomir, taking the throne. Despite all the efforts to claim the throne for the dynasty, Gniewomir gave up the throne.


Gniewomir, son of Nadzieja, b.925, High Chief of Galich 955-956, King of Ruthenia 961, High Chief of Lesser Poland 966- [11/12/6/0/3] Martial coward.
On inheriting Sacz and Sandomierz, he formed Lesser Poland, then swore fealty to his cousin, King Daniil (to whom he'd already given up the crown of Ruthenia).