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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Europa Universalis Short AAR Contest - The Entries

  • Gladius Dei, Sword of God

    Votes: 4 20,0%
  • Westphalia Alert

    Votes: 10 50,0%
  • Scandinavia is Not Enough

    Votes: 1 5,0%
  • The Russo Persian War

    Votes: 0 0,0%
  • Crisis of Faith

    Votes: 1 5,0%
  • Knights of the Order

    Votes: 4 20,0%

  • Total voters
    20
  • Poll closed .
Status
Not open for further replies.

Duke of Wellington

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Welcome to the first Europa Universalis Short AAR Contest. In this thread you will find the entries themselves. Please keep any comments on the AARs to the comment thread that can be found here.

From the original field of ten entries it has been reduced down to seven. One participant unfortunately having to drop out because of time constraints. Two are missing in action.

Without further ado here are the AARs.

Enjoy.
 

Duke of Wellington

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Gladius Dei, Sword of God


With a groan, the tall timbers finally gave way, a significant portion of the gate collapsing inward, opening up a measurable gap. There was a brief moment of silence, both sides watching in silence and shock. Then a fierce roar erupted as the Christian army hailed the breach and began pouring through the opening. The first knights through the Mogattam defenses were cut down by enemy arrows but soon men-at-arms began tearing at the damaged pieces of the gate, pulling apart the splinters to widen the breach, allowing more of the army to press forward. A frenzied melee developed as desperate warriors on either side fought beyond the bounds of endurance, clawing and screaming at one another, hacking and slashing through any opening, and yelling epithets, curses, and battle cries in at least six languages. The defenders’ archers murdered the first attacks until ranks of knights and sergeants joined the fray. Both sides fought bravely, yet numbers began to tell, and within minutes, the Hospitallers had achieved a decisive breakthrough. Amalric’s army was now deep inside the heart of Cairo’s defenses. The final phase of the city’s fall had begun.

Wearily, John stood back, observing the breakthrough with a measure of reluctant relief. He kept watch with the remainder of the company, arrayed defensively around the Patriarch’s retinue. The True Cross, kept aloft in its gilded casing, stood boldly amongst them. John no longer feared a Muslim counterattack, yet maintained a careful vigilance, conscious of the weight of his duty. His men were ready as ever, though on the edge of exhaustion. Rohault still nursed his nasty leg wound, and only a few of the others had been able to keep up during the long struggle up the fortified hill. He tried not to think of Stephen, his torso cut open by a spear, still dying back down the road. His arms longed to simply fall off and rest, and he himself wished for a soft bed and clean water. But he knew his body would respond when called upon to fight. It always did. The piece of metal placed carefully under his tunic ensured that he would. He could still feel its slight warmth against his skin, unable to push it fully from his mind.

The sounds of fighting continued to echo behind the walls, as more and more of the King’s army pressed into the fortress, eager to be in on the kill. A contingent of Templars disappeared through the broken gate, their swords ablaze, sergeants guiding them carefully amongst the rubble, with “Deus vult”, the sacred cry, on everyone’s lips. Behind him, John could hear the screams begin as the less devoted amongst the army began to openly plunder the city. As he had suspected, Amalric’s edict was not being observed too closely. The sounds of wailing rose, as the city’s womenfolk, those who had foolishly remained in the city, fled their tormentors only to be set upon by eager soldiers looking for plunder of a different kind. Rooted to the spot by his assigned role, John could only listen as the army began to lose its soul, not daring to watch. Even before the fighting was complete, the sack of Cairo was underway.


“God help us all,” he heard Konrad mumble next to him, the guttural language unable to hide itself from John’s ears. No language could, not anymore. “I alone must answer for all of this,” he replied quietly, his accent as perfect as if he had grown up in Swabia himself. Konrad blinked in surprise, as he always did, but only nodded grimly. Nearby, the Patriarch stood mouthing prayers. Amalric of Nesle, called such to distinguish his name from the King’s, seemed oblivious to the chaos around him, causing John to wonder how much of that piety was contrived. Was the anticipation of complete triumph enough to blind him to the destruction around them? Likely the clergyman cared little, basking in the shadow of the Cross itself, as well as other weapons of faith. If those prayers were for the souls of the innocents now being massacred, they made little difference.

What followed was an orgy of violence, two purposes in conflict yet each just as fierce. In front of him, the holy banners of the faithful could be observed mounting the parapet of the stronghold itself, tattered and bloody, yet triumphant on this greatest of days. Shirkuh, Nur ad-Din’s own, was somewhere inside, doubtless in prayer or behind his ranks, contemplating his end. Surely he wouldn’t run. Few in the Christian army doubted his bravery. Regardless, King Amalric had already given instructions and there was to be no quarter. In their overconfidence, the Christian army was at its most merciless. Also my fault, he muttered to himself.

Behind him, he could hear the sounds of Cairo’s people being dragged into the street, openly violated and desecrated as the scent of victory hung in the air. The men wanted their rewards now. It was all John could do to keep himself rooted to the spot. If he had looked back even once, he would’ve broken ranks to intervene. It was a test, he told himself, and he wasn’t sure if he was passing or not. On one hand, glory, divine triumph, and the hopes of the faithful. On the other, his very soul and those of his comrades, few remaining though they were. It was all for good ends, he kept telling himself, God’s ends. His companions, as aware as he though less burdened, could no longer look at him. The hot air blanketed them all in a layer of steamy air, sweat pouring under their layers of armor.

Finally, when he thought he could stand it no longer, his hand tightening on his hilt, the sounds of battle changed. On the parapets, he saw the banners suddenly give way in retreat, as a wave of black-garbed soldiers poured out of the fortress in counter-attack. Shirkuh’s bodyguard, he thought, feeling the implications press in on him. One of the banners, the red cross of the Templars emblazoned on it, went down in a haze of dust, the others rushing to escape capture. Here was the critical point of the battle and John knew what was to come. Muslim cries filled the air as the two armies battled back and forth amidst the twisting stonework of the stronghold. Gradually, the Christian army pulled back, unable to press home its final assault. A dull moan swept through the ranks until the knights milled just beyond the gate.

Yet, as John knew, the cries of despair and worry were gradually thrown aside by other cries as the clusters of Knights withdrew off the parapet. There was the “Deus vult”, of course, yet something else, filled with more profound hope and expectation. Many in the contingent couldn’t resist looking at him now. It was a faint echo at first, then growing louder, coming closer as increasingly, the army took up the shout. Even some of those engaged in plundering paused to watch, anticipating what was to come.

John heard the gallop without needing to look to see who it was. “King Amalric,” Rohault gasped, a completely unnecessary observation. Who else would come now? Clad in his royal armor, battered yet proud, the King had had his veteran ability to lead soldiers enhanced beyond dreams in the past years. He had brought the Cross further than any predecessor had before, and was on the verge on yet another such impossible achievement. All eyes were definitely on John now.

“Sir John,” the King said quietly, “it is time.”

Caught up in his reverie of inner conflict, John paused before responding, and then merely exhaled in an audible sigh.

“Just one more time, John,” Amalric encouraged, softer this time. Only one man in the army would the King coax so. Only one was needed so much to carry home the war. How many occasions had the King promised ‘one more time’? Gaza, Daron, Bilbeis, Damietta, Alexandria, and now Cairo? Was this really the last? Never, he knew deep inside. He was an instrument of divine victory, never to be discarded, always to be used.

“One more time,” he thought he heard repeated. So be it, he sighed again. What was once begun in grand excitement had become a dull ache of pain and shame. Even as the wails and screams echoed in the city beyond, he placed his hands over his shoulders and, as Konrad assisted him, pulled the cloth casing from his back. A shiver went through him as his hands extracted the contents, as only he was able to. Rohault, summoning last reserves of strength, planted the long golden hilt into the ground, allowing John to drive in the mounted shards. Could they feel the pulse? Most eyes were wide with awe, some with tears of adoration, yet did they really feel it? The Patriarch stepped forward and raised his hands in blessing, for John but most particularly for the holy burden he now carried. As he listened to the patriarchal blessing, he quietly muttered his own prayers, hoping God would grant his mercy yet again. ” Pater noster, qui es in caelis…”.

As each man fell silent, the raucousness around them grew in intensity. Impatient, with a faint hope that this might be the last time, John held the hilt aloft, where it caught the hot sun and glinted spectacularly. Now the cry swept over them as a wave, the assembled army raising their swords in an eager salute. In the courtyard beyond the broken gate, Amalric’s army readied itself for another assault. Even the Saracens seemed to pause, not daring to hope that the myth was merely that. The remnants of the Ordo Sanctae Crucis formed ranks around John as they tramped forward. His ears drowned with the roars, which had once given him such a thrill.


“Lancea! Lancea! Deus Vult! Lancea!”

One more time, he told himself.
 
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Duke of Wellington

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Einstein: Stop playing with that thing. If we want to prefent Hitler from rising to power, we must act now.
Assistant: I just got to adjust this...
Einstein: Give me the sequence calculations. NOW!
Assistant: They're already done.
Assistant plays a little bit with the machinery, which powers up.
Einstein: I wonder if it will be raining.
Assistant: Standby?
Strange machinery goes like 'bzzzzzt'.

Kassel, 9 july 1807

Einstein: Scheiße...

Cool intro music.



Welcome to this Westphalia AAR, played in IN 3.1. I haven't seen many AARs of this nation, which is understandable: formed on 9 july 1807, the country comes into play almost at the end of the game. But still... It's fun to play for this short while. I'll be doing that with everything on normal settings. Things tend to go weird anyway, but well, that's for later.
Let me tell you something about it. After Napoleon I of France had fought against Russia and Prussia, and won, he signed treaties with them both. Russia gave Napoleon some area's, and Napoleon guarenteed some small German states with relatives of the tsar. On the other hand, Prussia was stripped of almost half of it's territory, it's army was reduced to 40,000 men and he had to pay 100 million francs. From the western half of Prussia a new nation was formed: Westphalia.
The kingdom of Westphalia was made out of not only the Prussian area's west of the river Elbe, but also the Electorate of Hesse, the Duchy of Brunswick-Lüneburg, the Electorate of Hanover and the Duchy of Magdeburg. To govern this new state, which was intended to be a 'model state', Napoleon choose his youngest brother, the 23 year old Jérôme Bonaparte, also known as Hieronymus. He's on his way now, but before he arrives, let's have a look at the territories:



As you can see, it's quite an area with 11 provinces. But despite that it was formed by Napoleon, it's not a vassal of France. But almost the rest of Europe is, so there isn't much room for expansion. Luckily Westphalia is allied with Revolutionary France. Let's look at the influence of France in Europe at 9 july 1807:



Almost the entire western Europe is under French influence. Most of the German and Italian states are annexed or vassals: the kingdom of Italy is in a personal union with France, and the model state Westphalia and Spain are allies. But France is at war, with Great Britain, Sweden, Sicily and Ragusa (by the way, I couldn't find the free nation of Regusa yet on the map: only the by the French annexed province where Regusa normally lies. I'll have to search for a little longer...).
Westphalia had to support France with a lot of troops during the Napoleontic wars. They were brave, but ultimately perished in the Russian campaign. After the lost battle of the Nations, in which Napoleon finally was defeated, on 19 october 1813, the kingdom of Westphalia was dissolved. So this kingdom existed for only six years.

Einstein: Hey!
It is in this timeframe that...
Einstein: HEY!
...I can.... O, Einstein, you are still here?
Einstein: Jawohl. I guess my assistant really screwed up and can't find me anymore. Well, I'm here in the past to prefent Hitler from rising to power. It's a bit early for that now, but I can ensure that another kind of Germany will be formed. Hm...
Ok... Well, good luck Einstein: the new king is there already. I suggest you go and see him.
Einstein walks towards the arriving carriage. There are a few other people standing there too.
Einstein: Hi all, I'm Albert Einstein, a scientist from the future, and I'm here to advise you how to alter the timestream so that Hitler won't get to power during the next century.
Gauss: O, well, hi there. Welcome to the club then. I'm Carl Friendrich Gauss, mathematician from the present. Almost half of the mathematics is being named after me. Also, I formulated the mathematical descriptions of the electromacnetic effect used by magnetic accelerators. In other words, thanks to me you future brads can have Gauss rifles.
Stolberg: Hey, I'm count Friedrich Stolberg, and I'm the poet around here. I did also some law thingies and translated some things, but you might only know me because of my poems.
Scott: Ye bastard! I'm a poet too. Walter Scott is the name. I did some law thingies too, ya know. I translated German work. I was the one who wrote Ivanhoe.
Einstein: Great... Just my luck. I'm in the wrong time, with the smartest man ever to walk this planet, and all he could stick up with are two translating law-poets. And Scott, you won't write that book before 1820, so please shut up. We don't want any spoilers before you write it, especially not from you. Paradoxes give you headages.
Einstein looks at the castle, and frowns.
Einstein: Well, guys... I guess we should take Jérôme towards the first inn available, before he sees the state this ruined and plundred palace is in. Else he will be decorating this place for the coming six months...



King Jérôme and his wife Catharina are guided by the four men towards the first inn they can find: 'The Prancing Pony'. After a few German beers Jérôme goes knock-out, and Catherina brings him to a room. The four are left alone at a tabel.
Stolberg: So, Einstein, tell us, do you have a plan to prevent this 'Hitler' from raising to power? He is yet to be born, I believe.
Scott: Ye know, the unborn man can't be stopped.
Einstein: But we can prefent history to go down that path. Al we need to do now, is making Westphalia the dominant power in Germany and destroying the Austrian Empire. We've got plenty of time to establish that...
Ahum... Since the game will end on 1 januari 1822, you've only got 14.5 years time.
Einstein: Ow... Well, then we have to make the best out of it.
Gauss: I have already ordered as many men as possible to be recruited. From the stories you told so far, the men will otherwise be used by Napoleon anyway for his wars. We can thus better use them ourselves. And if we seize initiative, we can even force France, our ally, to follow us in war and determine what direction we go to.
Einstein: Very clever! Have you thought of the other aspects of governing our country?
Stolberg: Well, I did so. As you can see, we are a very advanced nation, gaining access to all of France' secret research projects. We are a model state, aren't we? So we shouldn't concentrate much on investing in technology. Well... Ok, maybe we should invest a bit in Government tech untill it reaches lvl 65 and we can pick our final national idea, but for the rest we must invest in stability. With the upcoming wars we will loose plenty of it anyway.
Further, we should expand our army. We have currrently 7,000 men, while we can easily support 24,000. Good to hear you already started this, Gauss, by ordering 11,000 men. Best if you continue to be our military advisor. You're the smartest of us anyway. O, and forget the navy: We are not going to need any ships when going for Prussia and Austria.
When looking at our religion, we see that the country is mostly protestant. If there are people who want to convert the remaining provinces to protestantism that's fine, but religion is not our main focus point. We don't care what the people believe, as long as they read my poems.
And finally we can look at our domestic policies. We can slide the slider one time: after this, we have to wait quite a long time to move the slide again. So I ask you: what should we change?



Einstein: We could decentralise the government even further. We're the ones that actually rule the country anyway. That will give us less war exhaustion.
Gauss: Nah, we won't be getting to the max anyway, so no need for that. We can also go to more serfdom, and thus reduce the cost of infantry and stability.
Stolberg: That's a good one to keep in mind. Another option is to get to more aristocracy, and thus reducing the cavalry costs, and also giving the leaders more shock.
Scott: Why can't we go more towards mercentalism? If we pass the Merchant Shipping Act, we can even maximalise it.
Einstein: You fool! It wouldn't benefit the army, which is the only thing we're interested in now. We're not gonna trade, we're gonna take. The rest of the sliders are to neutral to consider, so the only viable options are to gain more aristocracy or to enslave more people. Tough choice.
Gauss: Well, we should look for benefits during combat. So the aristocracy option is maybe the best. We then only need a leader. We don't have enough funds to hire a general...
A snorling sound comes from the rooms above the inn. Jérôme 'Hieronymus' Napoleon...
Einstein: I have heard that he wants to lead his men. Let him do that. And if he dies... Well, we're a decentralised country anyway: we will then take over. Everything is now settled?
Gauss: Not yet: we need to assess which country to attack, since a truce lasts five years. Give me a few days and I'll figure it all out.
Stolberg: And there are decissions to be taken at each province. There are three decissions we can establish province-based in each province: Establish March!, which will reduce the local revolt risk, stability cost, tax and manpower, but raises the spy defence and defensiveness. Ánd it let decentralisation gain 1.
Then we can also Establish Recruiting Centre, which raises the local revolt risk a little bit, but greatly reduces the recruitment time.
And finally we can make Embassies, which improve our relations with our neightbours, increases our spy defence and local defensiveness, but reduces our local tax.
Gauss: I think we should do them all in every province. O, and we shouldn't forget to ask for military access through Saxony: we'll need that with our conquest plans. And maybe it's handy to arrange some kind of royal marriage with France, to strengthen our bonds.
All men nodd in agreement.
Einstein: So things are settled then. We will make the king a general, raise the slider towards aristocracy, marriage someone to some relative of Napóleon Bonaparte, ask Saxony for access and enable all the provincial decisions. Wait... Jérôme is a relative Napóleon! If we can dump his wife, and give him some nice German girl, like Helga from the bar over there, it would be settled.
Scott: I'll be on it! It's time to prove that ye pen is mightier than any bastardsword ye can wield.
Scott runs upstairs. There is some short scream, which is cut off. The snoring of the prince continues, and Scott returns with the head of Catherina.
Scott: Now the king is still sleeping. Quickly, marry him to Helga!
Einstein rolls his eyes.
Einstein: Please, it takes time to make it official. Well, let's bravely run away before he catches us...

And thus the four men part. Hieronymus becomes a general of his own army, a 2-1-1-0-general, while grieving at the loss of his wife. All the men are gathered and moved towards the border.



The next day all the decissions are ratified. Jérôme marries with Helga, beeing forced by his advisors, Saxony allows Westphalia to march through their lands and the country got the mission to build a weapons factory in Brünswick. The only problem is the price: 1140 ducats. That's quite much. But then a general will join the ranks for free.
Days pass. On 22 july Portugal offers an alliance, which the four men accept. Portugal is far away, but well, it's handy to have friends. Three days later Danmark follows the Portuguese example. Months pass, and then Gauss finally completed his analysis.


Gauss: Here we are again. I have something to show you all. Let us have a look at this map:



Gauss: Prussia has Sweden and Denmark as allies. Denmark is an ally of us too, so it has to choose between us and them when we declare war. I think it's not a good idea to test our bonds: our relations are not that warmhearthy, and it is very likely that they will even side with the victims, Prussia. So I suggest we don't attack Prussia directly. Instead, look at Oldenburg. They are beeing guaranteed by Prussia, and have no allies. So if we attack them, we will automatically be at war with our actual victim.
Einstein: That's sounds like a plan. But don't we have good relations with them?
Gauss: Yes, so do something about it!

Einstein rode to the border, and made the funniest faces he could think of. For two months long he did this. It really disturbed the Oldenburgians, and the good relations were destroyed.



And then it was 7 march 1808. The army was ready at the Oldenburg-Westphalian border. Westphalia was ready for war. But that's something for the next chapter.
 

Duke of Wellington

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Introduction to the following AAR
Welcome to «Scandinavia is not Enough» my contribution to the EU short AAR contest. When I first applied for the contest I was originally planing to make this a comedy AAR, but when I played the game I came to realise two things. The first is that I can't tell a joke, and the second is that I couldn't possibly make up a story to explain the wierd things that happened. So instead I will make a gameplay AAR instead. Anybody who can make up an explanation (in game or narrative) for a certain event in update two will get a cookie. I don't expect to be giving away any.

I should probably mention that I'm playing Norway. I could make an ultra nationalist piece showing how under powered Norway is in EU3 and starting flame wars with all danes and swedes. However I'd feel very lonly being the only person on the forum acting like that. So I won't
 

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«Scandinavia is not Enough»- Update 1: Union and independence​

Here's Norway in 1399. Norway's a really poor country west in Scandinavia, our richest province has tax base 2 and produces fish.



To add insult to injury we're ruled by the king of Denmark. The king of Denmark also rules our only nabour, Sweden. Both are bigger and richer than we are and since they're allied and in a union we're probably going to have to defeat both of them at the same time. No worries!

I start by making a slider move towards centralization, which leads to three thousand peasants rising up and laying siege to Bergen.



I was lucky that the rebels didn't turn out to be pretenders because that would create a lot of problems. I probably wouldn't have been able to defeat them before they captured Bergen, and I would have had to recruit more soldiers to do so. It's a sad state of affairs when a three regiment rebelion can cause a national emergency.

However since they're only peasants my 2 infantery regiments (Did I mention how poor we are?) were easily able to defeat them after a month and a half and two or three battles.



Once that's done I send my soldiers north to Lappland and kill the natives.



After that i disband the army. I really meant it when I said we were poor. Just colonizing Finnmark is a huge drain on our treasury and having two is more than I can afford even without an army. However if I don't take it Sweden will, and I'm physically unable to sit by and watch that happen. I really shouldn't take the game this seriously.

The first colonist sent to Lappland fails, but thanks to some heavy minting I'm able to send another one the year after. I'm starting to think I'm to obsessed with that province.



Thanks to some more minting I'm able to stay afloat until Finnmark turns into a city and our colonial upkeep becomes managable again. After that it's just sitting back and waiting. Around this time I'm forced to take up a loan because I can't count.

In august 1403 this happens. I'm probably not going to be able to complain about how poor Norway is for quite a while now. Hopefully there will be other things to complain about however. It also means I don't have to mint to repay my loan.



I use the money to send all the colonists I can to Lappland as soon as I get them. Sending colonists is the most cost effective way of increasing colony size. One year of full colony upkeep costs 20 ducats and gives 60 colonists per year. One colonist cost between 17 and 15 ducats and gives 100 colonists.

In 1409 Lappland becomes a city. I'm not certain a 1 tax base iron province was worth the effort, but never mind.



After five more years I'm finally able to chose my first NI in 1414. I go for national bank. My minting so far has only given me 0,5% inflation, however I'm probably going to be minting a lot more in the future.



In 1415 things start to get interesting. Denmark declares war on Hamburg, draging in the Teutonic Order, Münster, Brunswick and Bavaria.



When i see an early Bavarian offensive reach Jylland, I decide to start sending insults to denmark. It's about time to get out of this union.



However attrition allows Denmark to destroy Bavaria's army. They then annex Hamburg. After they tried to attack the Münster and Brunswick, but the result was many years of fighting with no provinces ever being occupied. They did get a lot of war exhaustion however. I think Denmark had about 18 and Sweden 10 by the end of the war



Our relations with Denmark are now under zero so as soon as their king dies we're going to be free. They're probably going to be angry when that happens, so we decide to recruit an army for the first time in 16 years.



The plan is to have these troops ready and recruit another four regiments of cavalery when we get attacked or just before we attack. We won't be left with any manpower reserves, however since we can't win a war of attrition in any case it's not as important as having a big army at the start.

August 17th 1419 Erik VII dies and our union is over. Our new king Håkon VII is a great king, and better yet in our situation a decent general.





I start recruiting the cavalry and Denmark breaks their alliance with us on september 4th. War is inevitable now. The cavalry puts me well over support limit so if they don't attack I will have to.



On the 13th they make peace with the Teutonic Order. A two front war really was more than I could have hoped for. By february my cavalry is finished and I declare war on Sweden.



Seening as they're allied with the TO and Mecklenburg I should have realized they were independent too now. Could have saved a stab hit by marrying and claiming their throne, however when we're as small as we are one stab isn't very expensive expensive.

I start the war by sending my infantry into Värmland. Swedens army is almost non-existant after the german adventure, just 5 regiments. Hopefully they will attack my siegers and I can swoop in and destroy them.



I had hoped that Denmark wouldn't send any armies my way, or at least not yet. However they soon show up in Bohuslen with eight thousand troops.



We're outnumbered and forced to retreat to Akershus. The only Swedish troops so far are the two thousand headed for Jemtland, but their recruiting another two regiments in the south. My plan appears to be falling apart before the war is even two months old.

I need to turn this around soon unless I want to get overrun.
 

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Russo-Persian War

Ivan was walking in the streets of Astrakhan. Someone said,"You're in the army. Russia is at war with Persia.A spy went to Dagestan and fabricated claims."Ivan went to the regimental camp."March to Dagestan!You there!Get in Line!", some officer said.The rugged terrain of Dagestan was very hard on the newly recruited Russian troops.In Ivans army morale was just at half of what it was before. Once in Dagestan, the Russians occupied immediatly, as there were no enemy forces. But then Persian troops attacked. Ivan was fighting in a valley.
He saw his comrades-in-arms dying.He also saw the the enemy die. Then a Persian soldier attacked him,
Ivan.
The deadly hand-to-hand combat began. Ivan slashed at the soldier with his sword, but the soldier dodged.
The soldier attacked, but to no avail. In the end the
Persians retreated. Russia had won the battle.
 
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Crisis of Faith
The Protestant Reformation in Northern Germany

I

In the long and varied history of Europe there are few phrases that have continually aroused more passion, controversy, or fear than bellum sacrum - 'holy war'. It is no mere sensationalism that the appropriation of religion for the purposes of waging war, or vice versa, tends to echo through the history books. It has been this convergence of faith and warfare that has produced some of the most bitter, bloody, and festering conflicts of the past thousand years. Whether fought between Christian and Muslim, Catholic and Protestant, or National Socialist and Communist - to name just a few - the clash of universal belief systems invariably produces dangerous conflict and combustible zealotry. The collective memories of surviving generations are often indelibly scarred by the terrible destruction wrought by these wars... often all the more acute due to the religious or ideological tone of their persecution. You might say that holy fire tends to burn all the brighter. This is certainly the case of the Wars of Religion that were to wrack Europe throughout the 16th C and in particular their birth in Northern Germany…

It is hard for us to quite comprehend the two most defining factors of medieval religion. The first is of course its sheer prevalence. In a largely secular world in which religion is a personal matter we have no comparison, no real understanding, of how religion permeated almost every aspect of medieval life. From the peasant to the prince it was religious faith that provided, in different ways, the cornerstone of their understanding of the world and the centre of their daily lives. We cannot ignore that this piety was firmly entrenched in medieval culture and nor can we pretend that it was conveniently forgotten during Europe's darker moments. To take an example, there can be no doubt that the vast majority of knights who travelled to the Levant did so under the banner of God and in the firm belief that they were truly acting according to His will. This is one of the more disturbing truths that is reinforced by our study of Germany during this volatile period. In many cases it was faith that simultaneously inspired both the greatest of graces and most atrocious of evils. The second obvious peculiarity of medieval faith was the remarkable degree to which it was institutionalised. Of course its true that Europe had no shortage of itinerant preachers or unsanctioned holy men but on the whole to be close to God was to be close to the Catholic Church. The sprawling Church apparatus maintained a near-monopoly on religious authority in Christendom and this, with varying levels of success, was readily translatable into real temporal power. Of course it was not only its religious role that secured the position of the Catholic Church - the Vatican controlled, directly or indirectly, large swathes of land throughout the continent and the clergy were a vital component in the complex web of feudal society - but we cannot underestimate just how powerful the lure of eternal salvation (or threat of eternal damnation) was. After all, the various ruling houses of Europe could still be largely considered a warrior caste and war was an integral aspect of European diplomacy; all of which contrasted sharply with the generally pacifist message of Christianity. One of the most fundamental duties of the Church was to provide various ways in which its flock could find redemption and salvation. Which was of course where all the trouble started

This tightly intertwined relationship of religion and politics is central to understanding the events and controversies of the time but it was an arrangement that had begun to seriously fray by the 16th C. In the spiritual sphere the credibility of the Catholic hierarchy was significantly dented by the notorious debauchery of the Renaissance Popes. There is no need to delve into the various misdeeds of the Papacy during those highly exuberant years but the obvious degree to which Church institutions had apparently become commercialised or debased sparked a deep discord amongst many contemporary clerics and philosophers. Or at least those removed from the opportunities to sinfully indulge. At the same time the political winds in Northern Europe were changing as a host of new political and economic factors came into play. These generally led to a strengthening of state powers and an accompanying disgruntlement with the heavy hand of the Church. Perhaps even more significant was the slow decline of internationalist sentiment - as epitomised by the single universal Church and its Latin tongue - in favour of more local and national politics or church structures. The causes may be endlessly debated but the unavoidable conclusion is that when Thibaud d'Alegre nailed his (in)famous 95 theses to a church door in Lüneburg on the morning of 25 July 1518 he could not have chosen a more auspicious time to strike against the Church

Lüneburg: Birthplace of the Protestant Reformation

d'Alegre's protest was driven by a number of grievances, 95 if you want to be literal, but taken together these represented a general broadside against the practices of the Church, and in particular the aggressive marketing of indulgences. It was a revolt but one cloaked in the dull language of medieval theological debate. When looking back almost five centuries it is easy to forget that for years the subsequent public debate between the errant preacher and Pope Leo X was very academic and largely concerned with obscure doctrinal issues. Nonetheless it did not take long for d'Alegre to broaden his criticism into a devastating structural critique of the Church itself. Unlike previous heresies, such as that of the Cathars and Hussites, this new of Protestantism quickly spread beyond its birthplace and pockets of Protestantism and Reformism (a similarly heretical doctrine formulated by Calvin, Zwingli, and Bernstein amongst the mountains of Switzerland) were soon to be found throughout Germany, France, England, and Scandinavia. Not surprisingly tensions between d'Alegre and Leo X rapidly rose and with the burning of the Papal Bull on 15 June 1520 the break with Rome was rendered final

It was clearly impossible to imagine such theological developments remaining in the sphere of doctrinal debate and the initial fear amongst secular lords was that this fiery banner of rebellion would be seized upon by a desperately impoverished peasantry eager to overturn the existing social order. Support for d'Alegre amongst the nobility was greatly reassured following his publishing of Against the Murderous, Thieving Hordes of Peasants and talk of social reform soon gave way to practical political reform. Across a swathe of Northern Germany the years 1518-'23 saw Protestant teachings formally endorsed by local nobles. Beginning in Lüneburg (1518), official recognition of such 'heretical' teachings soon spread to Mecklenburg (1520), Switzerland (1520), Brandenburg (1521), Sweden (1521), and others. This was an important period in the evolution of Protestantism as not only were the central theological points arrived at (such as Sola fide, lit: faith alone) but the religion was inextricably linked to the ruling noble/burgher classes. This support was no doubt motivated in part by the eagerness to seize Church lands and funds (in Brandenburg alone this amount was significant enough to fund a substantial expansion of the standing army) but we cannot dismiss either personal piety or the eagerness to formally render previously independent church structures subservient to secular authorities. In the case of the latter it can be confidently argued that this was the logical conclusion of a process that dated back to the days of the Investiture Controversy, at the latest, and formed part of the never-ending friction between Church and state


In most newly Protestant states the church apparatus was quickly placed under direct secular supervision

Naturally not everyone shared this eagerness for reform and in many lands the governing authorities staunchly condemned d'Alegre and those who followed his teachings. Other nations such as France or England, which both possessed significant Protestant populations by the mid 1520s, were simply too big to convert to an alien faith overnight. Even in Northern Germany, which possessed the ideal conditions for the spread of Protestantism, there were many minor principalities, duchies, and archbishoprics that refused to abandon the Church. In many cases this produced the awkward scenario whereby the local lord remained Catholic while the population of his demesne worshiped at Protestant services. Given how important religion was as a political factor in its own right, this was all clearly unacceptable. Tension between state and subject continued to mount across Europe as doctrinal issues slowly bled over into wider society. The first major eruption of state sponsored anti-Protestantism was the efforts by Philip I of Hesse to eradicate heresy within his country in 1522, similarly bloody bouts would follow in Poland (1523) and Russia (1526). The tension was particularly damaging in France where, despite the supposed tolerance of the Edict of Nantes (1523), the Crown led a determined effort to destroy heresy and thus brought the country to the brink of civil war. The Protestant states tended to be less violent but no less determined to enforce religious homogeneity within their borders, and both Sweden and Brandenburg embarked on ambitious programmes to convert those remaining Catholics to the new 'true faith'. However even in these cases there was significant grassroots debate as to the justification of such measures and the degree of lay control over their direction. In particular the insistence of Berlin in converting Reformed communities in Neumark aroused a great deal of controversy and heated debate within wider Protestant circles. The great irony of these early years is that the drive to render religion subservient to the state actually produced churches that were simply not as unquestioning a tool as in Catholic lands

This comparison was made perfectly clear with the beginning of the great Catholic counter-offensive that began in 1524. Formally opened by Pope Leo X in September 1524, and enthusiastically hosted by King Ludvik I of Hungary, the Council of Osijek was to provide the Church with the firm and unquestionable theological ground necessary to halt the spread of Protestantism. The 19th Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church was in itself a tacit admission that numerous Protestant accusations of Church abuses were valid, or at least warranted attention. Nonetheless its primary mission was in combating the alarming spread of Protestantism. In this there were three general avenues of discussion - the refinement of dogma, through clarification of contentious doctrinal issues, thus formally rejecting all forms of Protestantism as heretical; the reform of the various structures of the Church itself in order to end the most objectionable of abuses and reinforce the integrity/abilities of the clergy; and the formation of specific holy orders designed to combat Protestantism, of which the Jesuits (founded in Spain in 1528) remain the most notorious. This was an impressive programme of reform but, given the scope of the Council and the sheer size of the Church, also a protracted process that would take decades to complete. The immediate value of the deliberations at Osijek was in galvanising the governments of the, increasingly shrinking, Catholic world into taking local action in defence of the faith. Widely endorsed by the powers of the day - particularly Austria, Denmark, and Spain - it marked the first concerted pan-European response to the religious and political questions posed by d'Alegre. It was however too late to forge a reconciliation amongst Christians or to save Christendom. For the first time in centuries the horrors of holy war were about to be visited upon an unprepared Europe
 

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Knights of the Order

13 August 1805

The ship bobbed on the waves. It was a powerful Ship of the Line and the flagship of the small Hospitaller fleet. Behind it were strung out three smaller merchant ships purchased from the English. They were East Indiamen and they were packed with the small army of the Order. On board the ships were 250 Knights and 750 Sergeant At Arms, the backbone of the Order’s land forces. Most of the Sergeants were Angolan. There were also 200 lancers and 1000 more infantry. These men were mercenaries. The Order referred to them as Crusaders, but the truth was, they were all sell-swords. Many an impoverished or exiled noble had sent a second, or even first, son to Crusade with the Order in order to keep themselves fed. After all, this was not a good time to be a member of the nobility. Especially in France.

As the fleet drew along the coast of Mozambique, approaching the invasion point of Sofala, one of the Crusaders, a young lancer, Adam de’Isle was leaned against the railing, watching the sea. Next two him was a grizzled bear of a man, old, scarred, and darkly tanned, he wore the mantle of the Knights, even at sea. He was more responsible than anyone for the current direction the Order had taken and would likely be elected Grandmaster whenever old Ferdinand von Hampesch slipped the mortal coil. He was Fra Claudius Carafa and he was Master of Sail, commanding the Temple Fleet. It was he who designed the Garnier de Naplous, based on the design of L’Orient, and carefully supervised the birth of the massive warship. It was he who personally oversaw the purchase of the East Indiamen, and their replacements. It was he who chose the landing points in West Africa, when the Knight’s ambitions were first realized, and it was he who conceived the notion of hiring Crusaders to fill out the Order’s tiny numbers and successfully shuttled them back and forth from Europe to Africa over and over, saving the Order form humiliation in the Loango War and ensuring the Knights Templar’s defeat in the Kongo. It was he who personally interviewed the Templar’s Grandmaster and set the Hospitallers on the move again, this time towards Ethiopia and it was he who, scrounging around in Rossyln Chapel, an old Templar stronghold in Scotland, had uncovered the map and the book that had started the whole thing. Fra Claudius Carafa was legend among the Knights.

Had young Adam known any of this, he would never have dared speak to such a man, but he did not. Having fled France during the failed counter-revolution, and having lost his family to the hungry guillotines in the process, Adam had been milling about Italy, serving in Milan, until Napoleon defeated the Austrians, in the Netherlands, until Napoleon defeated the Austrians, and in Germany, until Napoleon defeated the Austrians. He deserted with his charger before Austerlitz, which probably saved his life, but left him without a job. Until he reached southern Italy, and found a chance to both save his soul and his pocket book, serving with the Knights in Africa. The lancer turned towards the Knight.

“So, old one, by your worn mantle and worn face, you have served long with the Order. As I look over the seas, I am forced to wonder. Why are we here?”

The old man chuckled. In his younger days a duel would have followed such an impertinent attempt to start a conversation. Now, sometimes it was nice to not be recognized. “What, on Earth? Because God wills it sapling.”

Adam bit his lip, “no, not that, I mean here, half-way around the world. Why are we invading Portugal’s colonies? I mean, the Order, from what I’ve seen, operates on pretty thin margins and I’ve talked to the Sergeants and Turcoples, it’s not like they are happy to be excluded from the higher ranks just because they didn’t have Heraldry in the Congo. Why send so many loyal Knights, Sergeants and Crusaders so far away when there is so much unrest in your new playground?”

Claudius smiled. No, this boy could never understand. He saw what the rest of the world saw, which was just as well. The Knights, after being forced to victual Napoleon’s fleet in Malta, were moving their operations to Africa, to a new land away from the Secular Humanism which had made their ancient order and its entire purpose, well, pointless. Claudius’ mind drifted back. He had returned to Malta just days before Napoleon’s fleet arrived, pausing on its way to Egypt and disaster. Ferdinand was, in many ways, a failure as a Grandmaster, but on this occasion, presented with the map and the book, there could be no doubt and any Knight of the Order, subject on Earth only to the Pope, had but one course of action available. The actions of the Templars over the centuries became at once comprehensible and the chance to undo the Humanist Era even now plunging Europe into darkness and death was too real to be ignored.

Even so, the opportunity was almost destroyed. A cocksure and rude Napoleon insulted Ferdinand when he disrespected the Knight’s stated neutrality and demanded, at cannon point, the chance to re-victual at Malta’s excellent harbours. It was only with the greatest of effort that Claudius could convince Ferdinand to swallow his pride, allow the French in with a smiling face and live to fight another day, for that day was going to come. Besides, the Order could not have resisted the French fleet and army for long and, for this moment, pragmatism must triumph ideals. So, the French went on their way, Nelson shadowing them all the way, and Claudius, placed in command of the expedition, began to lay the hull of the Gernier de Naplous, negotiated ship purchases from Nelson’s agents, and tried to solve the manpower shortage. After all, few nowadays were willing to leave the hedonistic world for a life of celibacy and pirate hunting. But now the Order had a purpose once more and men would be found to fill out the ranks, for God had spoken and, excepting the Pope, there was only one whose orders the Knight’s obeyed.

The Order had started as a charity organization, helping pilgrims to visit Jerusalem, some say before the 1st Crusade, some say after. It found a new purpose, defending the Holy Land from the Saracens, a role the Knights played with honour. After the loss of Palestine to the Mameluks, the Knights found a new purpose on their island home of Rhodes, battling the Turks and Mameluks again, this time at sea. Standing guard, almost alone, in the Eastern Mediterranian, the Knights operated an advance base, operating against any Muslim powers which tried to gain controls of the sea. Until the Turks came and drove them from their Rhodian home. Thence to Malta and another role, battling pirates in the Western Mediterranean the Knights found another purpose, protecting the Christian coastline from slavers and robbers. Until the Turks came again in 1565. Then the Knights had their finest hour, once more as the bastion of Christianity, their tiny force of 5,000 outlasted a gigantic Turkish army, sometimes estimated at 200,000, saving Malta and Sicily, and maybe all of Italy, from the Ottoman grasp. And now, the Ottomans on the wane and Europe no longer requiring her protection, the Knights found a new purpose. At that moment, Claudius decided to share that with young Adam. Even if he didn’t understand, it was still one worth telling. Besides, the Crusader had the appropriate bloodlines to apply for full Knighthood. Perhaps sharing this story would add one more to the small number of full Knights.
 
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They trudged up what appeared to be the last bend on the long winding road up the mountain. The steep mountainside suddenly became vertical with a foreboding overhang dominating the road. The six knights spread out in a scouting posture as they slowed their pace, approaching the dark overlook. It allowed each of the knights a chance to recover their breath, particularly Rohault, who was easily the oldest of them all. Even the younger knights, eager recruits all, were winded. For his part, John wasn’t truly fatigued though he kept up a pretense. Even for those who understood his nature, it was best to avoid too many questions.



The wind whipped up with a fury, kicking up some of the dust on the rocky path. Despite the momentary blindness, the breeze was a relief of sorts for the exhausted warriors, even in the thinning air. Behind them, a steady tramping noise told John that the sergeants were catching up, in their usual disciplined formation in case of ambush. The knights, enthusiastic in nearing their final goal, were more content to race ahead to the attack. Yet everyone sensed the impending climax.






In the distance, there was a commanding view of the cultivated fields of northern Ethiopia as they stretched towards Gondar and in the far distance, Axum itself. A haze could be clearly seen, a sign that Baldwin’s attack on the capital was well in hand, the death throes of the Zagwe dynasty. Impressive as an attack on the ancient city by six thousand was, it was but subterfuge for the real purpose of the invasion. The only ones aware of this were the King and Patriarch, of course, and a few knights fighting their way up a lonely Ethiopian mountain. But on to the business, John told himself. Soon it would be over, his divine reward at last.



John slowly led the knights forward, moving towards what appeared to be a solid rock wall cased in shadow. This had to be the right place! All the reports pointed to this spot. Their prize had been secreted out of Axum months before, under the threat of invasion by the King of Egypt and Jerusalem and had been brought to a remote temple high in the Simien Mountains, out of reach of mortal hands. Fortunately, he was barely that anymore.



As they got closer to the wall, his doubts began to fade as he observed a tall stone slab protruding from the ground, ornately carved with images and writings that were difficult to make out from a distance. Yet it was confirmation enough. Stelae were commonly used in Ethiopia, and indeed across the Near East, for territorial markings, funerary decoration, and commemorative purposes. To find one here, with such sophistication, on an otherwise unadorned mountain, meant that it had to be true. “This is it, lads”, he said needlessly. The doorway to the temple should be right behind the stele.” He wanted to have a closer look at the stele, to see if there were any clues in its construction.






“So where is this…” Rohault began to say, and died off as a lone figure stepped out from behind the stele.



“This would be the guardian,” John finished for him.



Exotic would be a poor description for the figure that was cautiously emerging from the shadows. Clad in what appeared to be armor made out of hard hides – possibly bone - the dark-skinned warrior looked like one of the natives they had had to contend with in the thick forests at the mountain’s base. Decorations were painted wherever any skin showed, and there was a surprising amount of that. Twin swords graced the man’s back, curved in a style reminiscent of the scimitar, though thinner. An ornate headdress, as much for show as protection, draped over his head, toughened from the bones and hide of some dead animal. Small blades lay on his belt, and despite the odds, he grinned confidently, white teeth flashing unnervingly.



His hands hung freely next to his sides, within easy reach of his swords yet clearly in no hurry. John’s sword hand mirrored this posture, and it was clear that the guardian’s eyes were on him alone. There was no pretense here.



“You will never find it here, swordsman,” he said in a deep barreled voice.



“I know it was brought here, guardian,” John said calmly, with determination. “I know only the guardian knows its true location. Only you know where it is buried.”



“I will reveal nothing,” the warrior replied, his eyes now flicking from knight to knight, as if trying to glance under their armor, into their hearts. “Your God has denied you, swordsman. Turn back!”



“God? It is God who has sent me!” John roared, furious at how his deepest thoughts were stirred. No one had denied him, he told himself again and again. He had done more for the faith in the past years than anyone had. As hard as the road had been, his achievements had dwarfed the saints themselves! He was at the ultimate point now. His hand strayed towards his sword, and then he paused. There was no time for that sort of pretense either.



“Turn back, swordsman. Only repentance will you find, if you turn back now. Damnation lies behind me.”



“Surrender, guardian! You are undone! The temple will not be denied me! And you cannot thwart my passage…” He turned to Rohault, intending to ask for his hilt. No pretense.



“My lord, let me handle this for you,” a young voice shouted beside him and to John’s horror, Edmund stepped forward, sword out, bearing down on the warrior.



The guardian’s grin widened, and yet he made no attempt to go for his weapons even as the armored knight came closer. With each step, John hoped beyond desperation that he had chosen to surrender. “Don’t be a fool!” Rohault shouted, bringing John back to reality. Please, Lord, not another death on his conscience. Not when it was almost over.



“Edmund, step back, let me handle this…” But it was too late.



In a blur of motion, the guardian moved and before Edmund could step in to slash, both swords were drawn and reined down on the knight. The heavy mail protected him from one of the blows and his sword managed to deflect the other. The Englishman – John’s only countryman in the Order – made to counterstrike. It was not in time, however. The warrior slashed and hit Edmund in the joint between arm and shoulder, striking deep. A second blow struck the neck. Blood spurted and John knew the blows were mortal.



Before he could voice his outrage, another shout told him that one of the other knights had beaten him to it. Francis raced forward, always bold and far too rash, moving to avenge his best friend who had just been cut down. John could only watch in dread at the ordained result. This time the guardian stabbed low and got in under the young Frenchman’s guard. A second knight was down, and John and Rohault hadn’t even begun to react. He cursed himself and nodded to Rohault, even as the other two moved to attack in concert.



Ludwig and Conrad, the German pair, were veterans, Conrad having been in the Order since the first invasions of Egypt, helping Amalric to win the kingdom. The opening blows in this combat were much more measured and prepared. Even the warrior’s grin seemed to fade as his swords slashed back and forth, holding off determined attacks by both knights, who spread out to extreme angles to maximize their advantage. Together, they began to press their opponent back towards the stele and their objective.



Impatiently, John waited as Rohault helped assemble his weapon, the adrenalin coursing through him as he sought to retrieve the disaster. Easily a hundred knights in and under his command had fallen during the long fights from Jerusalem to Cairo and south along the Nile to Axum. He would have much to answer, but not now. Please not now, Lord.



With his weapon assembled, John gripped the hilt and felt the familiar power course through him, knowing that exhaustion and pain were unknown to him now. He flashed a determined look at Rohault. “Step back, man. I can’t lose you, too.”



Although angered by the order, Rohault had been with him too long to press the point now. And he had seen too many killings at the hand of that spear. “God’s eyes, John!” He exhaled. “Fine, fine. I’ll protect the rear. The sergeants and I, that is,” he said, thumbing his gauntlet back towards where the reinforcements were approaching. They were useless in this fight, and seemed to know it, slowing down to cluster around Rohault.



John turned and marched forward, in time to see the warrior strike home on one of the knights. It appeared to be Ludwig, who suddenly gripped his side in pain and limped sidewise, out of the fight for the time being. Conrad caught the motion, and retreated to protect himself and Ludwig, but the speed of the warrior was unmatched. His right hand swirled in and around the knight’s blade, which went wide, leaving the Swabian completely open for the killing strike. With a guttural roar, the guardian shouted in triumph. Three knights were down and one was wounded. His face withdrew in on itself, however, when he saw John, his look of fury, and the Lance.



Still undaunted, he raced forward to the attack, and John wondered, in those seconds, if he truly knew his doom. Most of the warriors he had killed did not, knowing nothing of the power he wielded. This man seemed to know much, however, and should know better than to hope. Perhaps it was bravery or bravado, or simply his duty. Regardless, he had to pay for the murders of John’s comrades. It took only an instant, the spear coming down hard on the closest blade. There was the expected flash, and the warrior’s sword broke in two. Before the second blade could take advantage, John parried and struck in turn, cutting cleanly through the curved sword. It was over.



In mute acceptance of his fate, the guardian knelt.



“Tell me,” John grunted, holding the Lance high. “Tell me where it lies. I’ll tear the temple apart if I have to.”



The warrior’s expression was calm, almost pitying. “You are not worthy of the power you wield, swordsman,” he said quietly. “Even should you find it, you will not find what you seek.”



“I am not worthy?” The anger coursed through him, soothing and forgiving. It helped justify everything he had done and everything he was about to do. It made it all rational. “I am not worthy?! I am the sword of God himself!”



“John, don’t!” A shout came from behind him, but he ignored this, grunting in satisfaction as the spear pressed down. There was a flash as metal struck armor, and then death.



He stood quietly over the guardian’s corpse, breathing raggedly, more from tension than tiredness. Behind him, he noted Rohault’s approach. Ludwig, still wheezing from the deep wound and the mountain air, limped over as well, all that remained of the Order’s knights. So much death, he thought, trying to revel in the victory and suppress the guilty and responsibility.



“John, we needed him alive. You know that only he knew.” And there was the unvoiced accusation, that John had just killed an unarmed man on his knees. Had he crossed a line? Both men wondered the same thing.



John’s stare was far away and mysterious. “We know it’s in here and we have time. Baldwin will not refuse me.” Not after he had been cured, he thought quietly. “I will tear down the foundations if I have to. Or maybe one of the priests will know. God will not deny me, Rohault. I am his instrument.” He composed himself, becoming the soldier once more. Rohault looked nervous, almost afraid of his friend. He dismissed the notion. “Ludwig, take command of the sergeants, and get that seen to,” he said, gesturing to the wound. “Rohault, you’re with me.”






Together, they strode around the strele, spotting the doorway for the first time. John stepped forward without fear, Rohault reluctantly following.
 
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Berlin, Schlossplatz, 7 march 1808

Assistant: My king, it's general August von Gneisenau on the line.
Friedrich: This is Friedrich Wilhelm III.
August: My king, I'm afraid we have a heck of a situation down here.
Friedrich: How bad could it be, August?
August: According to Oldenburg, they've got Westphalian infantry coming out of Bremen. I don't know how they snug onto them.
Friedrich: You better doublecheck this with Oldenburg. This doesn't make any sense. I'll call Kassel.
The king picks up the phone and calls to Westphalia.
Hieronymus: Oui, king Hieronymus here.
Friedrich: What's going on over there, Jérôme?
Hieronymus: Why mister king, whatever do you mean?
Friedrich: Jérôme, I have... I have euhm... You're throwing everything you've got at Oldenburg, Jérôme. We and them are supposed to be your friends, you maniac!
Hieronymus: Listen very carefully. We Bonapartes have our legacy to consider.
Friedrich: I don't give a wooden nickel about your legacy. You call them off. Jérôme, you call them off! You know we'll retaliate.
Hieronymus: Don't be so sure, mister king.
Hieronymus bangs the horn on the phone and looks at the man at his side.
Hieronymus: Is it done, Einstein?
Einstein: No, my king, it has only begun.

Cool intro music.



Welcome back to this Westphalia AAR. Now that the army is at the Oldenburgian border, it's time to make war against them and Prussia. It's time to march to the Prussian capital in Memel and back. It's time to decide if the official German language will be Platt or Deutsch. If Westphalia will dominate Germany, or Prussia.
During the previous chapter all the preparations were made, and now, on 7 march 1808, Westphalia declares war on Oldenburg: Prussia comes to their aid. The wars for the dominance of the German territories have begun. Who would prevail? Westphalia or Prussia?


Scott: O my God! All our allies betray us by not honouring our alliances! Ye bastards!
Einstein: This is not good... Our initial plan was based on the assumption that France would join us in our quest for glory. Now we have to face the Prussians ourselves, alone. Luckily we've got our Gauss rifles...



Gauss: We might be standing alone, but we did kick some ass in Oldenburg. Ok, it was an unequal battle, but we defeated their army in an instant and two days later their entire country was occupied. So let's now march against Prussia! They have invaded Altmark, so it's time to hit them.
Scott: Ya! Let's kick their butts in Altmark. We'll show them who's the best German nation.
Einstein: But you're not even German?
Scott: That doesn't matter to me. The beer and sausages are good, so there ya go.
Stolberg: But is it wise to attack them now in Altmark? Our armies are equal in size, and they have the defensive advantage. We have fortified our provinces, you know...
Gauss: Actually, you've got a good point. Let's ask Mecklenburg for military access, and go around them. If we occupy their entire country while they lay siege, we would have one hell of a bargaining position.
Einstein: I agree. We'll do that. Wait a moment, I've got mail!
A mail delivery boy walks in, and shows Einstein a few letters.



Scott: What's it, matey?
Einstein: Some peculiar news... Some kind of counter revolution, which is apparently bad. Naples also offers us a trade agreement...
Stolberg: Let's do it. They are far anyway.
Einstein: Mecklenburg indeed allows our men to pass through, we lost The March! in Hannover, Austria offers us an alliance...
Gauss: Austria? Strange! But well, as long as we're focussed on Prussia, we might use their armies to disrupt the rest of Europe. So let's do it.
Einstein: Our stability increases and... You! Scott! What have you done? You're the most famous poet in Germany now, which increases our stability. How did you do it?
Stolberg: WHAT?
Scott: Well, I just gave the people a sneak preview of Ivanhoe, a trailer.
Einstein: I had told you to keep the Ivanhoe thingy a low profile! But well, it seems it goes rather well for now, so it's forgiven for this time. But don't let it happen again.
Stolberg: Wha...? But... But... He's not even German!
Scott: Ya know, ya should write a simular thingy too.
Gauss: Guys, please. No-one is waiting for fighting poets. Let's instead have a look at the war progress. Our men have walked around Altmark, and thus avoided contact with the Prussian Army. Then they invaded Prussia, and quickly attacked the Prussian cities.



Stolberg: That's some nice progress. What road did you take?
Einstein: We marched through Mecklenburg, and went east by Ruppin, Postdam and Brandenburg. After a small detour in Hinterpommern we went south, skipping Neumark.
Stolberg: Why's that?
Einstein: Well, not 'skipping' it actually. We left enough soldiers to lay siege. But after the lvl 5 fortresses of Brandenburg, Potsdam and Hinterpommern our soldiers wouldn't be able to squeesh the defenders out of their forts. Thus the lvl 1 forts of the southern provinces were more atractive. And then we marched immediately to their Baltic provinces. We've got them all, except for Neumark, occupied.
Stolberg: And what's with that western fight?
Gauss: To support the war, I trained some extra soldiers. I was just about to send them to the front, when Prussia invaded Oldenburg. I sended my 2,000 fresh men to there, where they defeated their 1,000 men. Also, our navy really rocked: Our sole threedecker defeated seven Prussian galleys. I immediately ordered another one.
Stolberg: And their siege at Altmark?
Gauss: They didn't manage to occupy it in the thirteen months we fought so far.



Einstein: Now that we've got them, we should demand some provines and prepare for a second war.
Gauss: I agree with the first part. But no, we shouldn't prepare for war: we should continue it. Let's make peace, and declare war on the traiterous Denmark. We will have immediately war with Prussia again. Just look at their high war exhaustion! We should profit from this situation.
Einstein: Good thinking! Now, let's demand some provines:



As said was done: Prussia accepted the peace, and Westphalia declared the next day war on Denmark. The Prussians saw no other option than to aid their allies, and so they were at war with Westphalia once again. With the difference that this time Denmark was their alliance leader. Also, Austria chickened away and thus Westphalia faced the two enemies alone.
The defenders Memel made almost no resistance: there were just 100 men present there, so the Prussian capital was easily overrun. Also in the south: Breslau was an easy prey. Then the men moved to other provinces: Hinterpommern, Neumark and Brandenburg were laid siege upon. Danish troops did an invasion in Oldenburg and the Prussian Army was still in Ruppin. For a few months there was a status quo: these armies laid siege on these provinces. And then it happened. Some say that it was a cold, others that it was murder. Maybe it was cold murder. Anyhow, Hieronymus died on 1 januari 1810 and Albert Einstein rose to power.




Einstein: Finally! With the French king removed from power, I can truly control this country.
Gauss: Great you became king, but don't forget that we still have something to say. We didn't decentralize this country for nothing! So what do you want to do now?
Einstein: Well, let's split some men from our main army and lay also siege upon Potsdam: then we'll besiege all the free Prussian provinces. Also, let's send some men to Ruppin, where they can rest and restore their ranks.
Gauss: I already done that a few months ago...
Einstein: Well done! Now, we wait untill the sieges are complete.



Months passed by. In the meantime Denmark occupied Oldenburg with 4,000 men due to the lack of Westphalian troops there to stop them.
Stolberg: Hey, why don't we do something about that?
Gauss: We first bring down Prussia, and then march on to Denmark. We have access through Mecklenburg, and obviously Denmark hasn't.
And so they waited, untill october 1810. It was then that all the provinces were occupied, and Westphalia offered a peace.
Gauss: Look at their war exhaustion! We must finish the Danish war quickly, and press on.
Scott: Ya and ya pressin' on! Just look at our own war exhaustion.
Gauss: Yes, indeed, we got for each stability drop on the declaration of war 1 war exhaustion. But with Einstein as our new king, it drops even faster than with Hieronymus.



And so the second war with Prussia had ended. The army had not made contact with the Prussian main army, and had marched to Memel and back. But it was not over yet, since they had to defeat Denmark.
Einstein: Let's gather the forces, and kick those Danes out of Westphalia! There is some Jylland to conquer.
And thus it was done. The full might of Westphalia went to Bremen. Because Gauss that continued to train more men, the army had grown till 37,000 men already. The 4,000 Danish troops were not able to stop this flood of men. Right after the Danish had perished, Einstein continued to free Oldenburg, and march through Mecklenburg to the Danish homeland. There was no resistance. Within a month Slesvig and Jylland fell. The army seemed unstoppable...
Scott: Yay! Fear our men!
There was only one thing they hadn't taken into account...



The Danish navy!
Scott: O No! We need to pass the Öresund, and they block our way!
Gauss: That's a problem... And they also started to blockade our ports in Oldenburg and Bremen!
Einstein: I demand action! We must send our two threedeckers to relieve the blockade, and then clear the way for our men to cross to Sweden. I asked the Swedish king if I could pass through, and he allowed it. So we must now reach him!
Gauss: The blockade was done by small vessels, so it was no problem for our two ships to finish them off. But while we were fighting there, the Danish army crossed the water and started to free their provinces.
Scott: Do something! Ye are tha military expert.
Gauss: I know, I know. Their men were no match to our full army. But since they escaped every time we almost beaten them, it took some time to get them off Jutland. And then they sought refuge on Fyn, out of our reach.
Einstein: Well, how is it going with our ships? Are they in the Öresund yet?
Gauss: Yes, but then the Danish magically summoned also two threedeckers, along with four smaller ships. We're outnumbered, and thus fled to the harbor of Mecklenburg. We need more ships to destroy that navy.

More ships needed to be build. But the only harbor where that could be done, was in Bremen. One ship per 1.5 years... It was a painly slow process. The army was positioned in Jylland and Slesvig: each province now had 23,000 Westphalian men. And the army continued to grow. Gauss was obviously preparing for something big. Something really big...
Then it became 1814. Two new threedeckers were ready, and sailed to the Kattegat. There they provoked the Danish navy. Fearless, they sailed towards their foes. But they had forgotten the two threedeckers in Mecklenburg, who had laid still for three years. Those came and attacked the Danish navy in the back. Now they were surrounded by four threedeckers. This was way too overpowered for them: five of the six ships were sunk that day.


Stolberg: Hurray! To celebrate this, I have written a song, and my young friend Schubert, from Wien, has written a beautifull piano piece with it: Auf dem Wasser zu Singen
Einstein: Beautifull! Really worthy for a king.
Gauss: Yes, but will the normal people also enjoy it?
Scott: Nay, they prefer Ivanhoe! So I asked someone to write a nice piece of music for it. And to top it, I've got Roger Moore!
Stolberg: Noooo! You... You... I kill you!
Stolberg looks franically around and searches for a knife. Everyone hides theirs, and so Stolberg resorts to his fists. He walks threatening towards Scott.
Einstein: Please, no violence, we are gentlemen here! Please, stand back! Listen to me, I'm your king. You hear? King! Now sit. Sit! Good. Look Stolberg, it's all relative. Who will remeber Ivanhoe after 150 years from now? Well, anyway... Gauss, how does our bloody war go now that the Öresund is free?
Gauss: We can easily go now, and after defeating the Danish in Fyn, we continue without resistance.



Einstein: Good, good. Let's make peace and call our boys home. We've got a bigger fish to fry.



And so it happened that Denmark was beaten by Westphalia. Most of their territories were taken away, and the Westphalian men returned home. It was now clear that Westphalia had won the dominance over the German territories: When Germany would be formed during this 19th century, the Prussian influence would be neglectable. Would it be another Germany? Only time can tell.
In the meantime Gauss continued to train more men. The army growed and growed, untill it was as large as the Austrian army. 100,000 men. The only problem was that the economy couldn't support more than half of that, even with the new territories gained. But since there wasn't much invested in other things than the military, it was ok. The economy still seemed to manage it.



On 4 august 1815 the army was positioned around the small state of Hamburg. Tens of thousands of men were at their border. They were guarenteed by Prussia, and, more important, by Austria. With the men placed there, Einstein would not only connect his Danish provinces to the rest of his country, but also finish off the last pieces of Prussia and start the campaign against Austria. With only six years left, it would be a race against time! But that's something for the final chapter.
 

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Everyone: Sorry about the delay. I originally sent the entry to DoW as an .odt file, which he couldn't open.

CatKnight: I certainly hope I can keep the sitation interesting.

Coz1: luckily I had already played this session before reading your comment. «It is well known that a vital ingredient of success is not knowing that what you're attempting can't be done»



Scandinavia is not Enough update two: The Great Scandinavian War

Here is Norway as we return to it in 1420. The swedish have sent two regiments to siege Jemtland and there is one visible in this picture, but the rest of their army is MIA. They don't look like they're going to tak our bait.



I have a confession to make. The reason my army got beat so badly in our first battle with the danish is that I stupidly forgot to raise maintenance when I went to war. When this AAR is over I will report for summary termination.

At this point the enemy could just sit back and keep recruiting regiments and sending them to the front eventually overwhelming me. However the AI isn't that smart. When it saw that the garrison in Bohuslen had low moral they decided to assult. In the end they managed to kill of more than half the garrison, but it held.



However with all their infantry sitting at zero moral it was easy for me to ride in and drive them of. Without the infantry their cavalery got beat up pretty badly in the process.



I chased the danish army through Akershus and Eidsiva. After being beaten there they retreated to join the swedish army in Jemtland. Together with another swedish regiment moving up from Hälsingland their total army there is now 8000 men and 11 regiments.



This battle was really close. Sweden's king is a 5 shock general and they got us handily outnumbered. However, as you can see they have a problem with moral. A little luck with the dice rolls means that I don't suffer too many cautualities before they have to retreat.



As you can see in the picture the Swedish army is retreating south towards Dalaskogen. What you can't see is that the Danish army isn't retreating with them but rather retreating north towards Vesterbotten.



I go south after the Swedish army. Compared to me Denmark and Sweden have an almost unlimited ability to reinforce their armies so I have to rely on overruns. In this case I was lucky and was able to destroy the Swedish army after only one bounce.



I immediately send them towards Vesterbotten to try to catch the Danish army before they can recover too much moral or get too many reinforcement

When I chased the Danish army north earlier Sweden sent in two regiments to restart the siege of Bohuslen. With no armies left in southern Sweden I decided to split up my infantry and siege as many provinces as possible.



Now however Sweden has been recruiting and Denmark has sent a second army so I'm forced to consolidate them again. As you can see Denmarks first army is almost overrun. I tried to offer them white peace to see if they wanted to save their regiments. The day after they declined they were eight regiments poorer.



The thing I love about having an all cavalry army is how you move so much faster than your enemy. Like here where I got to Östergotland before the Danish were able to move even one province



Or like here where I arrived in Stockholm well before them and was able to overrun the single Swedish regimet standing there.



At the same time the siege of Bergslagen ends. I now occupy two provinces.



England decides to insults us. They've conquered most of Scotland and might want the Orkneys. If they DOW then Denmark is never going to white peace me.



I move my only full strenght infantry regiment north to Dalaskogen and start pingponging the Danish and Swedish armies between Stockholm and Östergotland with my cavalry. Thanks to their different armies moving at different speeds I'm able to overrun them faster than if they were one unit.



Even so, by the time I've finished them of they have recruited more troops to siege Bergslagen and are almost finished sieging Jemtland. At the same time my armies are running dangerously low. My cavalry is reduced to almost half strenght.



By the time I'm finished with Bergslagen's besiegers Jemtland has fallen. The army that sieged it heads into my unfortified northern provinces. In the good news however I've taken Dalaskogen and I'm moving on to Hälsingland.



I rush my cavalry north and they are able to destroy the Swedes near Trondheim. At the same time I get an alliance offer from Burgundy. I accept, hoping that they will scare England away from DOWing.




The siege of Bohuslen is finally over and a little later Denmark finally accepts a white peace with me.



That leaves me alone to take on Sweden and their regiment. Yes that's regiment without an «s». You can see it retreating from Hälsingland to Stockholm where it get's destroyed





Taking Västergotland is important. It has tax base 3 and a workshop, in Scandinavia that's a lot. After this the war becomes a lot less interesting. The Swedish keep recruiting regiments but I keep destroying them before they can accumulate. Other than that it's just waiting for sieges.

January 4th 1424 I take stockholm, a sad moment I think for all of my swedish reader.



By the time our king dies in 1427 we've reached finland. We're lucky and get another very good monarch. He's not as good a general, but that's hardly important anymore.



A while ago I allied Novgorod. Right now they're useless, but in the long term being allied with them is going to be important. They have been beaten pretty badly by Moscowy and I'd rather not have a united russia on our doorsteps. I accept the call to arms to preserve the alliance, but try to peace out at first oppertunity.



The last Swedish province, Finland, falls November 27th 1528. That's 8 years 9 months and 17 days after the war started



In the piece agreement I take everything I can, and that turns out to be a lot. Thanks to the low tax bases Scandinavian provinces have low WS costs and I'm able to reduce Sweden to a 4 province minor.



This is important because if I hadn't totally destroyed Sweden in this war I would get stomped by them and Denmark as soon as they recovered. DOWing just after they got mauled in a war with someone else only works once, unfortunatly.

Now the event that I promised a cookie to anyone who can explain. July 15th 1429 my 2000 strong garrison in Viborg gets attacked and annihilated by 8000 danish pretender rebels. The rebels then flee into russia before any other armies can reach them.



In the end I made peace with Moscowy for 3 ducats without ever fighting them. Novgorod fared badly. They even had to cede Ingermanland to Pskov in a seperate peace.
 
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The Russo-Persian War

The army Ivan was in had to march to
Mandazaran.The Imperial Eagle of Russia was bravely fluttering as they set off to attack the enemy.Persia was allied with Oman, however Russia got a white peace.The 1st Army was about to leave.Ivan checked the calender. It was 2 January, 1732. "Come onnnnn boys!Do you want to serve your Tsar or not?!", a stern officer said. "Actually, I would rather be at home then 'serve the Tsar'", Ivan said. "Well, well a deserter? You'll soon
learn a deserter gets", the officer said slyly. Ivan had to carry supplies on the long march to Mandazaran. Not only that. There were promises of torture.The 'boys' made fun of him.The officers name was Petrov. Petrov said, "That'un in the back, he no good. Get? HE NO GOOD!", Petrov said, treating the soldiers like
babies. As you can guess, this made Petrov extremely unpopular. Ivan was soon very popular, for
defying the authority of Petrov and the officer class
in general. One night a group of soldiers made a plan
to break Ivan out. So they crept tword the back,
stopping when someone stirred when suddenly,"We
have along march ahead of us! Wake up!" It was Petrov. They decided to act fast. They moved in the back, broke Ivans irons and said, "Come on!" Ivan said,"Ok." "Shoot them!", the order came from Petrov. The men shot Petrov. "You can come!,"
the said happily.
 

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Crisis of Faith
The Protestant Reformation in Northern Germany

II

It was Voltaire who famously commented in that the Holy Roman Empire was "neither Holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire" and while that may have been correct in 1756 it did not necessarily hold true two centuries previously. When the Reformation swept over Europe in the early 16th C the Empire was, with the possible exception of the Papacy, the single most important institution on the continent. Spanning almost half a million square kilometres, comprised of almost three hundred independent principalities, and containing millions of subjects it was without par amongst the secular kingdoms. More importantly for our purposes, and despite Voltaire's assertion, the "Holiness" of the Empire was far more than a mere name. From its very inception, with the crowning of Otto I by Pope John XII in 962, the Empire had possessed a strong religious character. It was the Church that, in theory at least, underpinned the legitimacy of the Empire and bound it together in a single Imperial entity. Frequent disputes between Pope and Emperor tended to dilute this authority but this was perhaps the foremost example of the tight relationship between medieval politics and religion – a marriage perfectly captured by the practice of having the Pope crown new Emperors. The latter was of course the other pillar of the HRE. By the 16th C this venerable institution had effectively become, in practice if not theory, a heredity title of the dukes of Austria and a powerful expression of Hapsburg dominance in Germany. Nonetheless the position of Emperor was a highly respected one, even amongst the new Protestant dissenters, as the foremost symbol of both German unity and sovereignty. The various petty princes might grumble about Austrian hegemony but only the most radical, and foolhardy, railed against the office of Emperor itself. For most German statesmen it was near impossible to imagine a diplomatic world without the vast network of transnational laws, councils, customs, and other tools of mutual support, that were provided by Imperial institutions. With 'Germany' comprising almost three hundred independent territories (some little more a few square miles of farmland) it was the Empire that granted this multitude of states a degree of cohesion and security


The spread of Protestantism
as a state religion throughout Northern Germany from 1517-'25

Protestantism therefore undermined these Imperial structures on two levels. On a fundamental level the explicitly Catholic nature of the Empire, and the foundation of its legitimacy, was firmly shattered as the northern states openly embraced heretical teachings. This was after all the Holy Roman Empire and the very embodiment of the Corpus Christianum (lit: the Christian body). These new divisions were in turn exacerbated by the staunchly pro-Catholic attitude of Charles V of Austria which firmly established the institution of Emperor in the emerging anti-Protestant camp. By the mid 1520s the Protestant states found themselves isolated within the Empire and alienated from the Imperial structures that until recently had formed the cornerstone of their diplomatic outlook

This was the dilemma faced by Joachim I Nestor of Brandenburg following his own conversion in 1521. This unlikely convert to the Protestant cause - the impetus to rebel had come from his wife, Elizabeth the Dane, in a timely reminder of the human stories that are often lost in grand sweeping histories - he was nonetheless an able diplomat and well versed in the labyrinthine intrigues of Imperial politics. Still, the 'betrayal' of the Church placed the Mark of Brandenburg in a precarious position and presented many new challenges. The most immediate danger was that the House of Hohenzollern would lose its status as one of the seven Electors of the Empire. This was a real threat as the role of Elector carried significant weight amongst the German nations and it was crucial to the efforts of Joachim I in thwarting the emergence of a counter-Reformation bloc on Brandenburg's borders. Aside from Vienna, the most obvious threat came from the north where Denmark under King Frederick I remained one of the few bastions of Catholicism remaining in the Baltic. This was the danger that provoked a minor diplomatic revolution in the region with Elector Joachim I abandoning his former allies, who had once included Denmark, and realigning with the Protestant strongholds of Lüneburg and Mecklenburg. For the most part however the disputes of the 1520s were confined to obscure ecclesial or Imperial courts as Europe came to grips with these new diplomatic realities. The entrenching of opinion on both sides was a gradual process and figures such as Joachim I, who had after all been a practicing Catholic for almost four decades, actively sought to act as mediators between the faiths. Figures such as this were to be rare in the turbulent years ahead

By the time of the death of Joachim I (1527) Germany had become ever more polarised as tension between faiths increased in the face of continued bloodshed in lands where power remained contested. Despite this the actual sources of antagonisms in Germany still remained largely traditional - chaffing at Hapsburg dominance, Denmark's trading rivalry with the Hanseatic League, a multitude of dynastic squabbling, etc etc - with religious differences merely sharpening the tone of these disputes. It is worth re-emphasising this point when we consider the Danish-Brandenburg Wars that so occupied the attention of Joachim II Hector following his ascension to the throne in 1527. In essence these were a series of wars defined by Frederick I's attempts to regain lost influence along the German coast and Joachim II's efforts to prevent encirclement by an alliance of hostile (Catholic) powers. Like most wars throughout history these conflicts owed more to man's ambition than any divine inspiration. In particular the impetus for war came from Joachim II who, lacking his father's interest in (or aptitude for) diplomatic solutions, was easily provoked into war less than a year after his coronation. The First Schleswig War (2 June 1528 - 30 October 1536) - so called after the site of many of its most prominent battles - saw an Protestant alliance of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg invade Denmark and its new ally of the Bishopric of Magdeburg. The latter was quickly conquered and annexed into Brandenburg (January 1529) but, despite occupying Schleswig and Jutland, there was little that the Protestant armies could do in the face of the Danish fleet. With Joachim II lacking the ability to cross the straits, and Frederik I unable to muster enough forces to retake Schleswig, the fighting degenerated into intermittent skirmishing. It was mutual exhaustion that finally led to a white peace being signed in 1536 but this did little to prevent the conflict from simmering on

However unremarkable the war itself the immediate fallout would have far-reaching consequences. The annexation of Magdeburg was not well received within the Empire and served to severely damage already strained ties with the Emperor. It was this act of aggression, more so than any confessional differences, that prompted Charles V to take the unprecedented step of stripping Brandenburg of its Electoral status in February 1537. This was a major loss of prestige and influence and one that instilled in Berlin a deep distrust and bitterness of Imperial institutions. It also, perhaps perversely, reinforced Joachim II's faith in the army as a tool of foreign policy and his determination to secure Brandenburg's borders. As such the Second Schleswig War (1 April 1542 - 27 May 1555) was almost a direct continuation of the first with skirmishing in the Baltic region giving way to open war following the fateful decision of Jan Fryderyk of Pomerania to align with Denmark. Once again religious motivations were firmly underpinned by base interests and sour dynastic relations. Expansion into Eastern Pomerania had long been an ambition of the Electors of Brandenburg and one that was finally realised when, after two years of campaigning along the Baltic coast, Vorpommern was seized and Jan Fryderyk forced to capitulate in 1544. While the Duchy of Pomerania fell under Berlin's control - culminating in its complete absorption into the Mark in 1555 - the war with Denmark continued much as the last as German princes seized Schleswig and Jutland but proved unable to force a crossing of the straits. A lengthy stalemate thus ensued as both sides resorted to traditional tactics of small scale raiding punctuated by the occasional pitched battle. Even the mortal wounding of Joachim II during such a battle in 1550 did not bring an end to the conflict and an inconclusive peace was not signed by his successor Jobst II until May 1555


The territorial growth of Brandenburg during the Schleswig Wars

It should hopefully be clear that these minor conflicts were not, as traditional historiography dictates, the opening shots in a vicious holy war. It was traditional Machtpolitik (Lit: might/power politics) that drove the dynasties of Denmark and Brandenburg into this series of clashes - no divine inspiration was required. Through these contests the territory of Brandenburg was almost doubled in size but at considerable diplomatic cost. The House of Hohenzollern had originally secured lordship of the Mark (as recently as 1415) in order to be recognised as Electors within the Empire. Now this cherished status was lost and the new Margrave Jobst II found himself in a dangerously isolated position. This was in part due to the aggressive actions of his father but also the sharpening religious fault lines in Germany. Doctrinal differences may not have inspired the two previous wars with Denmark but they were undoubtedly a real factor in politics of the time. Whatever the underlying causes of the Schleswig Wars they were the first post-Reformation conflicts waged between faiths and religious sentiment coloured their every aspect. Ecumenical feelings throughout Europe receded sharply throughout these decades and the Catholic counter-offensive, spearheaded by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, began to gather pace just as the aggrandisement of Brandenburg produced a Protestant state with a formidable army. Nonetheless even at this stage it was possible that war could have been averted with the emergence of a capable leader who desired peace. All accounts are agreed that Jobst II was indeed blessed with many talents but few fail to mention how he "burned with the faith" of a true zealot. Soon all Germany would follow suit
 

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13 August 1805

Claudius leaned back from the rail, patting the younger man on the shoulder. “You’re an inquisitive lad. Inquisitive and impertinent. Such attributes have killed many excellent men Adam. This day, it may instead earn your salvation. You want to know why we are floating off the coast of East Africa rather than watching our restless new subjects? Join me in my cabin, young man, I have something to show you.”

Adam blanched slightly. Only two men had private cabins on the powerful warship. One was the Ship’s Master and the other was the Fleet’s Master. The Ship’s Master, he knew, was on station whenever they were under sail. “Sir, I mean, My Lord, please forgive my impertinence, I would never have-”

Claudius cut him off, “of course you would not have Adam, but then, if you had known, would you have spoke at all? The Lord does not dictate our lives Adam, but he does guide us along the path he wants us to follow.” Claudius shrugged. “Perhaps, Adam, the Lord made you Inquisitive and impertinent just so this moment could occur.” The Knight turned from the railing. “Come along now. I shan’t ask again.”

At the door to Fra Claudius’ cabin, two young African men, dressed in full livery and armed, anachronistically, but beautifully, with halberds, bowed at his approach. Claudius nodded in return. “Anthony, Mark, please light my room and fetch us some wine.” The two men quickly dispersed without a word, one ducking into the room ahead of Claudius and Adam, the other disappearing down a flight of stairs to the galley.

The cabin, even for the Master of Sail, was modest in size and décor. Claudius was a throwback, austere even by standards of the Knighthood. Adam noticed the small bed, tucked into a corner, had no mattress, but only a wooden plank. A small book case, crammed full of ancient and weathered volumes, a wardrobe bolted to the wall, a small chest bound in iron, and a stout table covered in nautical charts, were the only furnishings. Claudius sat at the table and motioned for Adam to sit, which he did, nervously. Not a word was spoken until, the wine was served, the lanterns were lit, and the guards had returned to station outside the door.

“Well now Adam, you asked why were are here. I will answer your question, but first, I must ask, why do you think we are here? Why do you think the Order has gone to Africa?”

Adam paused for a moment, just to organize his thoughts. “Well, I mean, there hasn’t really been a reason for a Crusading Order of Knights in what? Five hundred years? So, I figure, with the Revolution spreading all over Europe, and let us be honest, it will spread to Malta someday. Napoleon’s visit will be repeated next time he heads for Egypt. Eventually, you are all finished. So where is a Crusading Order to go? Where there are no Christians, like how the Teutonic Knights went from homeless Crusaders to the Lords of Prussia. So why not go to Africa. And it seems to have worked out for the Knights, I mean, you own the coastline from Loango to the Dutch Colonies on the Cape. And you’ve done a much better job converting the locals to Christianity than the Portuguese ever did, so, you know; now you’ve got a power-base and everything. All that is left is to decide whether the descendants of local Kings and Magnates count as ‘nobility’ for purposes of joining the Knighthood.”

The old Knight nodded. This is what most people assumed, so far the youth had shone no real promise beyond a solid memory. He leaned forward in his seat. “So tell me, Crusader Adam d’Isle, what would you do if you were in my shoes? What if you were the Master of Sail, Commander of the Temple Fleet, Marshal of Angola and Kongo, and Commander of the Ba’kongo Langue? What if you answered only to an old man determined to never set foot off Malta and willing to let you have your way with the Order?”

Adam bit his lip. “Well, obviously, I would not be sailing here. I would have every Crusader, Knight, Sergeant and Turcople back in the Congo, watching over the local nobility. I would immediately accept the sons of the local tribal leaders, whether chief, King, griots or Shaman as being able to prove noble blood and therefore eligible for the Knighthood. Not doing that is what doomed you in Rhodos, threatened to undo you in Malta, and is currently dooming you now. If the Order’s future is in Africa, then make it African.” Adam shrugged, “it is not like you have much choice.

The Knight nodded appreciatively, “well considered, Crusader, but then, the Order is European, especially French and Italian, for those Langues to surrender their monopoly means surrendering their power, and really, surrendering the Order.”

“Well, sir, to be fair, most of your army is Angolan, Kongolese, and hired help. You have 250 Knights fit to serve in battle and most of the men manning the ships are Greek. They have surrendered the Order already. They have only to admit it.”

The old Knight rose from his seat, clasping his hands behind his back as he paced. “You speak boldly Adam. You also speak true. If our only goal was to claim a territorial empire, much as the Teutonic Knights did, I would have already done as you recommend. No, there is another thing which has driven us to Africa, even as it drove the Portuguese before us and the Templars before them. It is what has driven us to make war on the Templars and Kongolese and why the Portuguese and even Ethiopia chose to make war on us.”

“You see, Adam, we cannot settle down yet and, as much as I want to, we cannot admit the local peoples into full Knighthood yet. If we did, we would wind up as the Templars before us: embroiled in local politics and local wars and far to busy to focus on the real goal. No, for now, we must keep our eyes on the prize and brook no distractions. We must keep on the move, ever advancing, until Ethiopia is conquered.”

Adam was shocked, “but why? That is madness! The Knights of St. John can barely afford this tiny fleet and army, and you will risk losing Africa, losing everything, so you can send this tiny force against, not just Portugal, but Ethiopia? What possible reason can you have for this?”

Claudius smiled, almost serenely. “Tell me, Adam, have you ever heard of the Ark of the Covenant?”

Adam was annoyed. “Of course I have, but I don’t see what possible bearing the Old Testament has on –“

The Old Knight cut him off. “It has a great deal of bearing sapling, it is the reason for our quest. We seek the Ark of God itself!”

Adam’s mouth dropped open. Was the old man mad?
 

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Wien, 4 august 1815

In the conference room the two Austrian generals and an assistant are chattering.
Schwarzenberg: I do not understand. What's wrong with this 'Einstein'?
Assistant: Einstein has altert the present and changed the future.
Main screen turn on. The young Austrian queen is shown.
Maria Theresia II: A, good to see you generals. I have recieved your reports about the borders.
Karl: Good to hear. What do you think?
Maria Theresia II: France is still busy with Great Britain, so the Napoleontic threat is no longer of any concern.
Karl: Do you hear that? Our enemy France will soon be out of the way.
Maria Theresia II: Hold on, generals, I recieve an emergency transmission from our northern border.
The screen shows a frightened soldier.
Soldier: They're attacking! There are too many! We have to evacuate!
Maria Theresia II: Who is attacking?
Before the man can answer, the screen blurs: another transmission is overruling it.
Einstein: The imperial warmachine has been unleashed. Do not struggle against what is inevitable. All who stand in the way of our divine destiny will be swept away by the march of history. You will bow before us, or you will cease to exist.
The screen blurs again: the transmission is normal again.
Maria Theresia II: Generals, it apears that the kingdom has mounted a full-scale assault.
Karl: What kingdom?
Maria Theresia II: The kingdom of Westphalia of course.
Assistant: We now have two mortal enemies?
Schwarzenberg: Unleash our nuclear weapons! Annihilate them all.
Maria Theresia II: Excuse me, general?
Schwarzenberg: Our nuclear weapons? Our atomic bombs?
Assistant: Don't you understand? This is 1815, and even with Einstein here, they won't be invented for another 130 years. Even now he has altered the space-time continuum! Ohhhh who knows what nightmares he has created.
All look fearfull at eachother.

Cool intro music.



Welcome to the final chapter of Westphalia Alert. Previously Einstein travelled back through time to prepare the kingdom of Westphalia for German dominance. In order to prevent Hitler from rising to power he wanted to defeat Prussia, to distort their dominance on the German history, and defeat Austria: if they are no large power in the early 20th century, history might all turn out quite differently.
Now that Prussia is practically out of the way, it is time to face Austria. Of course, Gauss will continue to spawn more men. The next war will start in Hamburg. The question remains: will Westphalia be able to defeat the Austrians, and even better: destroy that country, so that it won't be a great power anymore?


Scott: Euhm... Einstein? King? Did ya anticipate a war with four countries?
Einstein: What do you mean?
Scott: Well... Hamburg was not only guarenteed by Austria, and Prussia, but was also allied with Denmark. And we have no friends. All abandoned us long ago.
Einstein: Gauss! Please explain!
Gauss: There isn't much to explain. Scott here has already told the situation. But if you want to know why... Well, of course we knew all this. But we will overrun Hamburg, and Denmark and Prussia have enormous high war exhaustions. They will be glad to prematurely end this war. On our conditions. And then it's up to Austria and us.



Einstein: That seems doable. Well, let's first have a look at Hamburg. We were approaching it from four different directions.
Scott: Watch out matey! Prussia attacks Ratibor!
Gauss: Yes, yes... That was a diversion province anyway. We'll take it back, don't worry. Anyway, it took is not much time to defeat their army: our force wasn't even assembled fully there when they dropped dead already. It didn't take long to occupy their country then, and annex it.
Scott: Yay!



The war made a good start. Hamburg was literally overrun by the many Westphalian forces. With the first of the four out of the way, the attention shifted to the next in line: the one country that stood between Westphalia and Austria: Prussia.

Einstein: Ja, ja, skip the drama, we're going to war!
Gauss: Actually, we're already...
Scott: Ya and ya preciseness! Com'on, let there be some drama! Some... some... Aye, has anyone seen tha Stolberg?
Einstein: Hm... no, actually, I haven't seen him for a while. Not since the moment he threatened to kill you.
Scott: Euhm... Let's hope he stays away for a while then. If he kills me, it would make me a sad panda
Gauss: No, it would make you dead. Definately very dead.
Scott: Aw com'on laddy! Drama!

While the three men were bickering, the war continued. The Prussians had occupied Ratibor, and then continued to the north, to Brandenburg. But they got help from Austrian forces, who claimed that province. And the Austrians pressed on. Potsdam and Ruppin were soon under siege. But the Westphalians ignored that. They continued with their usual tactic: occupy the country before they can do something dangerous. And thus the army went to Hinterpommern. There it split up: A part marched in the direction of Memel, while the larger chunk was going for Neumark and Breslau.
Einstein: Don't forget the north...
Good point! There was a threatening situation in Scandinavia: Danish men were going to invade the Westphalian provinces. So the cavalery was send to the high north, to quickly end this madness. The only bad thing was that this long run made the country decline a little bit. But well, the loss in technology investment wasn't missed. And in the meantime the fleet went back to the Öresund. Once again the portal to the East sea was occupied.



Einstein: So, we've got 75 percent of the small nation of Prussia already occupied, and with our men going to Memel we will soon have them all!
Gauss: Those men going east are actually unnessecary. We won't have to occupy their capital. We won't get any more provinces by doin that.
Einstein: No?
Gauss: No. We can now already demand the maximum. So let's not waste any more time and concentrate on the important thing: beating Austria.
Einstein: Good thinking! I'll quickly demand Neumark, Breslau and some money and move the men through Poland to the eastern border of Austria.

And so it happens that within a few months the war is already partially won: two of the four enemies are beaten. Two more to go.



But before we continue, a message boy wanders towards Einstein and gives him a few messages:



Scott: What's it, matey?
Einstein: Didn't you say that with the previous message too?
Scott: Hey, don't blame my repetition! Just show us tha messages!
Einstein: Ja, ja... It's once again a rise of stability, which is good due to our drop at the beginning of the war. There is no more The March! in Bremen. And apparently we didn't know entire China before now... And guess what... We can move the slider once again! How unexpected.
Gauss: We must give the Aristocracy more power. By the way, you did promise us titles...
Einstein: That's good. As long as you continue to serve the military, I'll make you Duke of Earl. This more aristocratic way boosts our army tradition a lot.
Scott: But... If ya promised all of us titles... Did you promise Stolberg tha too?
Einstein: Of course.
Scott: Arrrrgh! O no! Stolberg will come for me! I must do something! Protect me! Help, my oh my, what can I do now?
Einstein: Ok, ok, I'll spend some 100 ducats on armor to protect you. Now, please be quiet, for real men are going to war! Let's now focus on Denmark and remove another opponent from the war. Come Gauss, lead the army to victory in the north!



Gauss: The Danish posed absolutely no thread. The only problem was the distance. The men were underway to the high north anyway, so they proceeded. Until we heared that there was a rebellion in Bergenshus. Those rebels formed a greater thread than the entire Danish army! We really smashed them well during the previous war. But anyway, we split the northwards going army: half went back south, to smash that rebellion.
Einstein: Good riddance! It must be our high war exhaustion that spawned those rebel scum.
Gauss: Quite possible. But while our men were fighting in the north, I sended some to the Danish capital too. It took them longer, but finally they managed to occupy that province. Now all the Danish mainland provinces are under our control.
Einstein: But what about the islands? Iceland and Greenland? We can't reach them.
Gauss: Indeed. That posed a problem. Despite the fact that we agreed not to invest in the navy, I did build two transport ships. So I was able to transport two thousand men to the islands. I travelled then back and picked up another two thousand. For there was one regiment of men in Iceland, and one in Greenland. The last Danish resistance...
Einstein: I can savely assume you defeated them?
Gauss: Yes, but it took quite some time. By the end of 1817 Iceland was occupied. And then the same thing had to happen to Greenland: the long transports to the west.



Gauss: It took us till march 1818 to reach and occupy the province of Vestbygden. Immediately we went back to fetch the other 2,000 men, awaiting in Iceland: the natives rised against us, and weakened our men. But then in june we assimilated the culture of that province, and moved on, to Eiriksfjord: the last free Danish province. The men posted there were easily beaten. And now, by the end of june 1818, we have entire Denmark in our hands.
Einstein: Good! Since the Greenlandish provinces were colonies, which we, of course, seized, we can now demand all of Danmark's provinces, along with their vassalization and their renouncation of quite a lot of claims of former provinces. The North Sea is ours!
Scott: Yay!



Einstein: I have only one question... One tiny question... What happened to my men? I see only twelve thousand men! We started this war with a hundred thousand! Gauss...
Gauss: Don't look at me. You left Scott in charge of the Austrian campaign while I was doing the Danish war.
Scott shifts nervously on his feet. He barely dares to look at king Einstein.
Scott: Well... the Austrians were deep in tha Westphalian territories. Ya should have seen how all tha provinces fell one by one! I sended tha main army into the heart of Austria, to occupy their provinces. Tha same tactic as Gauss matey here always uses, ya know. But then he came... Stolberg!
Einstein: Scott has walked over to the Austrians?
Gauss: Actually that's not that surprising. He has good contact with the Austrian compinist Schubert, and well... Scott... You basically scared him away with you Ivanhoe.
Scott: Wasn't me! Awww... Crap. The only reason I'm standing here is for tha armor ya had bought me, Einstein. Because Stolberg came with an enormous army and shouted:
Stolberg: Silence! I kill you! Scott, you won't escape.



Scott: It was scary! O, have ya got new pantsies for me?
Both Gauss and Einstein step back from Scott.
Scott: Com'on guys! Drama! Anyway, tha army was split into a few divisions: one was coming from Poland, one from our just freed Ratibor and one was our cavalry coming form the high north. Tha austrians had one huge, massive army, which walzed all over us! Before we could join tha armies, they were defeated. Of course, I got quite a lot of provinces occupied. But ya know? They took them back! Tha bastards!



Einstein: This is not good... Our army has been smashed and the only reason we are able to do something, is because Gauss is training more and more men. Our army is defeated in the Austrian homeland, and their forces are moving slowly forward, occupying our country province by province.
Scott: Wait! We get signal.
Einstein: What?
Main screen turn on.
Scott: It's ya!
Stolberg: How are you gentlemen. All your provinces will belong to us. You are on your way to destruction.
Gauss: What you say!
Stolberg: You have no chance to survive make your time. Ha ha ha ha!
Scott is shaking visibly.
Scott: King Einstein!
Gauss: Take off every Napoleonic Square!
Einstein: You know what you doing.
Gauss: Move Napoleonic Square! For great justice.

And so it happened that, while winning against three of the four opponents, Westphalia was actually losing the war against Austria.

Gauss: Ok, let's assess the situation. We've got 12,466 men, spread over Norway, Greenland and Westphalia. The Austrians got our eastern provinces, and are slowly marching towards us. Also, in Hamburg and Hannover there are rebels, while Westfalen is already occupied by them.
Scott: What can ya do?
Gauss: Our first priority must be to form an army to strike back. We must not think about destroying Austria now, but about surviving ourselves. Let's regroup in Fyn.

From all over the world the Westphalian forces were withdrawn to Fyn. While the men were beeing pulled back, the free Westphalian men in Norway were celebrating: they honoured Gauss for his military strategy.



Einstein: I'm glad I can bestow a bunch of honourable titles on you, Gauss.
Gauss: Yes, yes, please hurry up. The men must assemble, and the rebels will never negotiate, and the Austrians are overwhelming our mainland.

It took in total a whole year to assemble. On 1 july 1819 all the men were finally in Fyn. 28,000 Westphalian soldiers.

Gauss: Quite dissappointing, after the army where we started with. But well, we have to do it with this. Of course, I'll continue to train men in Norway. Those vikings are really great warriors. Especially equiped with Gauss rifles.
Scott: If one can save us, it be ya! Save us, Carl Friedrich Gauss, you're our only hope!
Gauss: Well, I'll let our threedeckers guard the Öresund: that way the Austrians can't go to Scandinavia. And we'll be able to guerilla our way back to the mainland. For now: I'll sound a general Call to Arms. We will prevail, we will survive.

The Asutrians pressed on. While rebels were ravaging along the Westphalian homelands, they were moving their armies from province to province. Altmark, Lüneburg, Brunswick... they all fell. But what the Austrians didn't have, was military access through Mecklenburg. Westphalia did had that. So while rebels were laying siege on Hamburg, thus blocking the way to the northern provinces, Gauss his army could sneak past the Austrians through Mecklenburg.
Slowly but surely Gauss led his men through the occupied territories of Westphalia. All the small armies he encoutered were murdered to the last man. No-one was left alive. But he left the provinces to the Austrians. He needed the men for destroying Austrians, not for freeing civilians.
The march of Gauss' army continued through the occupied lands. They saw the horrors of occupation, but continued. Then they entered the Austrian homeland and smashed more Austrians. And staretd to occupy themselves. On their way they smashed more and more Austrians, untill there were no more opposing forces in this country. And the Austrian main army, the one that had destroyed the previous Westphalian army? They remained in Westphalia, fighting against rebels, and trying to occupy the provinces! Gauss clearly did a better job, by going for the provinces with level 1 and level 2 forts.




One province after anotehr fell. Almost half of Austria was now occupied, inclusing their two trade centers ánd two gold mines. The Austrian economy couldn;t handle this situation much longer. The war score had changed from -19 % to 46 %.



And then it became 2 februari 1821. The last free day of the game.
Scott: Oy Nutter! We need to end tha war now, or ya won't get another chance.
Gauss: No! The tactic was going to work, we were going to completely destroy Austria! Now it is too late. Too late...
Einstein: It is a sad day. But don't cry, you've managed to get us out of the missery we were in. Let's demand what's possible.



Einstein demanded three provinces and 25 ducats. Among those provinces was Görz, one of the two Austrian gold-provinces, and their sole harbor. Now the Austrians faced an enormous drop in their income, and no access to their few colonies in Africa.
Westphalia faced a few rebels. But that was not something they couldn't handle. Not after this war.
Then the next day came. Einstein saw a bright light, and a single message:




Slowly the light fades away. Einstein is once again sitting in the chair of his old laboratory.
Assistant: Did you find him?
Einstein: Prussia... Is out of the way.
Assistant: Congratulations, professor! With Prussia removed...
Einstein raises his hand, and the assistant falls silent.
Einstein: I left Austria still as a great power. I hope that the smack I gave them was enough to prevent Hitler from rising. Time will tell. Sooner or later, time will tell.

The End

 

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Scandinavia is not Enough: Update 3: Scandinavian Hegemon

After the war with Sweden things settle down for a while. For many years nothing really interesting happens, exept for a couple of wars we get drawn into. First we go to war with the Golden Horde in order to help Novgorod. As before we don't do any fighting at all. By this point I've basically given up on the thought of trying to prop up Novgorod. They're simply to weak to be able to beat Moscowy, no matter how much we help them. In order prove my point Novgorod got into another war with Moscowy. They get demolished. They lose 2 provinces in each war, but I get several years of war taxes, so I'm happy.

Mean while in Scandinavia something interesting finally happens in 1434. Apparently Denmark is invading Sweden.



They also seem to have invented the blitzkrieg early. They assulted Småland immediatly and destroyed the small swedish army in Stockholm. All in all I think the war lasted less than one month.

After the last war I started a fleet building program, because when Denmark was at war with Bavaria the only they weren't crushed is that their fleet kept the germans from taking anything past Jylland. On the other hand if I can park a big fleet in Øresund then it will be they that can't move their troops around

For some reason even having just fought a war against each other doesn't prevent Denmark and Sweden from still being allied. Maybe the AI is smart enough to not face me alone? If I know anything about the AI there's probably a much worse reason that's the correct one.

In April 1438 we declare war on Denmark after having claimed their throne in order to gain a Casus Belli.



We start the war by chasing down the small Danish garrison in Skåne. After a few bounces it gets destroyed in Småland



Then I send my cavalery north to chase down the Swedish army. It gets destroyed on the very same day that I capture my first province.



As you can see I've moved my fleet into Øresund as planned. The AI now has 18 regiments trapped in Sjælland.



Soon afterwards Swedens two non-capital provinces fall and I peace them out



Then I start the invasion of the rest of Denmark. I'm able to land a regiment in Fyn unopposed. However Denmark has 3 regiments standing in Slesvig so I have to wait until all of the sieges north of Øresund are done before sending my other 4 infantry to siege Jylland



Both Jylland and Fyn fell around the same time and I sent the 4 regiments in Jylland south to attack the danish army. Meanwhile, I sent the regiment from Fyn to Jylland to prevent the enemy from retreating into the province I just took.

Once again a few bounces were enough to overrun the enemy and we settled in to siege the cities. Bremen fell last, in August 1441. The peace left denmark with only 3 provinces.



The year after the peace I got a lucky event giving me core on Hamburg. That means I'll only lose one stab next time I DoW Denmark. I also notice that I've got a new national decision available.





Putting myself at -3 stab to change to a form of goverment that doesn't really have any real other advantage over my current one other than showing that I can? I simply couldn't resist.

Thanks to the negative stability we're quite busy for several years putting down rebels. Our alliance with Burgundy brought us into a war against the Platinate, but they never sent more than a few regiments our way. Burgundy however had it worse:



In October '47 we were ready for another war with Denmark. I could have DoWed Sweden in stead and avoided bringing England in, but I really didn't want to go -3 stab again and I didn't think England would actually participate beyond taking the Orkneys. In retrospect that was probably not a very good idea.



Naturally England joins the war while France and Burgundy who I'd managed to get alliances with when preparing didn't.

First thing I do is send my entire army south into the Danish provinces in Germany. After being beaten twice it's overrun in Bremen.



Unlike last war the Danish actually use their fleet to try to break my blockade this time. My fleet manages to hold position for almost half a year, but eventually it's forced to retreat to Skåne.



It's now that England decided to make their presence felt in the war. See the 3 regiments fighting our two in Bremen in the shot above? In a couple of weeks they got reinforced up to 5 regiments.



When we try to chase them down to overrun them they retreat to the ship. At least most of them did. We still got a few of their regiments.

By the time the english give up their attack our fleet can't hold Øresund anymore and we pull it back to Skåne. However once they've defeated our fleet the danish return to port. That allows us to sneak a regiment onto Sjælland.



Then we ship our cavalry over to Skåne and defeat their army there.



My original plan was to use our army to beat Denmark quikly then turn on Sweden before they could achieve anything. But England landing all those troops allowed Sweden and Swedish patriots to finish the sieges on Östergotland and Dalaskogen.

I destroy their armies but now there's a rebelion in Lapland and the english land in finland. First there's just one regiment but they bring in a lot of reinforcements.





As you can see they've been suffering badly from attrition, but even though I try several times I can't defeat them. In the end I have to return south in order to deal with the rebellions that spring up there.

On the way I accidentally stop another English invasion plan.



Sjælland finally falls in January 1450 and I peace out Denmark, reducing them to an OPM.



While I'm busy with the rebels the english land more troops in Jylland and have also landed a regiment in agder. Outside of the picture they have also landed troops in Hälsingland and Västerbotten and their forces finally finished sieging Finmark and moved on to Jemtland.



At this point I finally decide to swollow my pride. We've taken the Danish provinces we wanted and annexed Sweden so fundamentally the war is a giant sucess. After a few tries I'm able to get peace with england at the cost of just the Orkneys and Reykjavik.



Without the English invasion to worry about our full force could be brought to bear against the rebels. Eight months after the peacetreaty was signed the last rebel held city fell to loyalist troops.



With Sweden annexed and Denmark reduced to a single island there is no one to challenge Norwegian supremecy in Scandinavia.
 
Last edited:

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The Russo-Persian War

A young captain by the name of Hugh was in Astrakhan.
His business was serious, not the annual festival. His
mission was to tell regional command about the deserter regiment and Ivan. "The regiment shall be punished accordingly",the regional commander said,
banging his fat fist on the table."And you, you have
to go and pretend you were a soldier that was left behind!""Ok",Captain Hugh said unemotionally.
---------------------------------------------------
Ivan was in the front, well, what he thought was the front. The men were just a huge mass of soldiers walking casually around. Someone came and said,"Wait, wait!"He came from the north; it was quite
possible he had been left behind. "What is your name?", Ivan called out."Hugh", the man responded.
"He is not from the regiment! To Mandazaran!", Ivan
said charismatically. The whole Russian Army was descending on Mandazaran. Ivan decided that his regiment would blend in well. So they joined "the great attack" as it was later termed. The strategy worked; the Russian generals did not notice anything.
"Charge!"The order came from all around and the battle of Mandazaran began. The regiment of Ivan
did not do much. However, with their few lunges,
they secured the battle for Russia. They later attacked the Russian army. One such incident had bloody consequences. Ivan was leading his men against the main camp of the Russian army.
they wished to destroy the army. "Here he is!',
one of the soldiers said holding a sword to Hugh's
throat. A huge explosion of gunpowder barrels happened right then, coupled with the clang of steel.
Ivan died. His last words were; "Save me..."
Hugh lived.Therefore it is unknown what his last words were. Thus ends the tale of the Russo-Persian
War and Ivan...
 

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Crisis of Faith

The Protestant Reformation in Northern Germany

III



The birth of the Reformation (1517-'25) and its subsequent entrenchment in Northern Germany (1525-'55) has been extensively documented, not least in these brief pages, but this pales in comparison to the impressive number of studies and sheer volume of literature devoted to the following First War of Religion. From medieval tracts to Hollywood blockbusters, bellum sacrum continues to exert considerable pull on the popular imagination. Yet the war of Jobst II was merely the climax of a long historical process (or even numerous related processes) that saw the economic, political, and cultural interests of Northern Germany increasingly diverge from those of the southern states, and particularly Vienna and Rome. Over the previous two chapters we have seen that doctrinal disputes can only go so far in explaining this growing rift. However this is not to suggest that the motives for conflict were solely secular, no more than they were entirely religious, but rather that these were effectively two aspects of the same process. Political disenchantment with the established order revealed itself in religious unrest and vice versa. This was particularly apparent in the Holy Roman Empire, a political entity whose legitimacy was derived from the blessings of the Papacy, where the Imperial bonds were increasingly strained by the emergence of a solidly Protestant bloc hostile to the authority of Vienna. The reign of Jobst II of Brandenburg would test these to the limit


The coronation of Jobst II in November 1550 was the perfect example of the new realities of European politics. It was the princes of the north - Sweden, Mecklenburg, Luneburg, the Dutch provinces, and England (where Henry IX had sensationally converted a decade previously) - that made up attendance to the suitably austere ceremony. Here was a new European order taking shape and at its centre lay the Margrave of Brandenburg himself. Jobst II was by all accounts a gifted individual who was fluent in half a dozen languages, possessed of a fine wit, and with a keen interest in the sciences. He worked hard at cementing Brandenburg's central role in the Protestant community in the coming years and was rewarded with military alliances with England and Sweden in 1557 and 1560 respectively. Here was the first of the Hohenzollern line to have been born and raised solely in the Protestant faith. Having been a child during the tumultuous 1520s the turmoil and zealotry of those early years of the Reformation undoubtedly had a great impact on the young Jobst II. This Protestant identity was further reinforced by his father's campaigns against Catholic Denmark and the loss of electoral status within the Empire. With the integrity of the Empire slowly decaying in the face of religious rivalries such sentiments were not limited to a single prince


We cannot simply disregard such personal piety, as traditional historiography so often does, when considering the march to war during the late 1550s. In the political sphere this most notably revealed itself in a deep disenchantment with Imperial structures and a determination not to rely on the collective security arrangements of the Empire. This then was the background to the alliances with non-German powers and the doubling of the Army of Brandenburg from approx eleven thousand men, at the end of the wars with Denmark, to over twenty thousand by that fateful year of 1561. Such an armament campaign firmly established the Mark as a regional power but this new army still amounted to a mere fifth of the soldiers available to the Emperor. Under the staunchly Catholic Johann Karl I these Imperial forces were increasingly directed towards buttressing Papal regimes - such as an invasion of Bohemia following a resurgence of Hussitism in 1547 - in a policy that only reinforced the alienation of Protestant princes. It was little surprise when Austrian armies marched into Anhalt on 19 April 1561 in order to suppress an uprising by Protestant weavers but what followed would be the greatest shock to the Empire since the days of the Investiture Controversy. The rebels at Anhalt were Lollards - a medieval form of proto-Protestantism inspired by John Wycliffe in England and which enjoyed a 16th C revival in Central Germany - and thus not followers of d'Alegre but so severe were the atrocities visited upon them by the Austrians that the Margrave of Brandenburg could not ignore their pleas for assistance. On 11 May 1561 Jobst II openly ignored an Imperial edict and sent ten thousand men into Anhalt to support the Protestant cause. A week later he himself led another ten thousand men into the Austrian enclave of Danzig, seized from the Poles a decade earlier. The die was cast and, win or lose, the Empire would never be the same again. Mecklenburg, England, and Sweden all readily supported Brandenburg while numerous minor principalities - most notably the Duchy of Wurzburg and the Archbishoprics of Cologne, Trier, and Munster - rallied to the aid of the Emperor and Duke George III of Anhalt



The emerging Protestant (Blue) and Catholic (Yellow) leagues

No one was more surprised by developments than Emperor Johann Karl I who was caught completely flatfooted by the fury unleashed by his intervention in Anhalt. Most of his armies were either stationed along the Turkish border, tied down by English raids into the Netherlands or hunting Protestant rebels in Bohemia and beyond. The sheer size of the Austrian holdings would allow for many fresh regiments to be raised but it would also take some time to muster and deploy these in the volatile north. In the meantime the forces of Mecklenburg and Brandenburg, under the command of General Wilhelm Friedrich von Dessau, quickly seized control of Anhalt and the surrounding territories. With his lands occupied and army defeated Duke George III had little choice but to unconditionally surrender (13 January 1562). Now the conflict became even more explicitly religious in tone as, in addition to a large sum of gold and acceptance of Brandenburg's future 'protection', the Duke agreed to convert to the Protestant faith. After pushing south in the following months von Dessau was able to impose similar harsh terms on Otto I of Wurzburg in August 1562 before turning west to join the fighting in the Rhineland. It was in this deeply Catholic region that the horrors of holy war were truly realised with Protestant soldiers combating a hostile population with a brutality born of fanaticism


Such savagery was not limited to Germany and the campaigning in Netherlands proved to be equally bitter. It was the English possessions along the Channel that fixated Austria and it was these that saw the fiercest fighting in the early years of war. Imperial soldiers proved themselves to be equally adept at directing indiscriminate violence against civilians as they swept the English garrisons into the waves and ultimately forcing Heny IX into withdrawing from the war in September 1563. This was a major blow to the Protestant cause, if only because the Imperial armies were free to move east just as the newly raised regiments from the Austrian heartlands began to assemble for the march north to Berlin. This worsening strategic situation was largely disguised by continued Protestant success on the battlefield and the armies of Brandenburg concluded their campaigns in the Rhineland with the capitulation, vassalisation, and forced conversion of Munster (20 October 1563), Cologne (19 March 1564), and Trier (16 Feb 1565). This latter triumph marked the pinnacle of Jobst II's crusade - several petty princes had been forced to acknowledge his lordship, a major swathe of Northern Germany under his indirect control, his storerooms bulged with looted treasures, and Protestantism stood on the verge of a sweeping across the Empire. We can even speculate that Johann Karl I may even have accepted a peace in order to halt the costly conflict. This however was Jobst II's war and he was fighting for no less a cause than the sundering of the Empire and the guarantee of religious freedom (for princes at least). For him there could be no compromise in this most sacred of struggles and the war would continue



Victories of the Mark

In hindsight we can see the folly of this course of action but perhaps Jobst II was suffering from the dreaded 'victor's disease'. In the previous four years he had witnessed a procession of triumphs with barely a defeat to temper his faith in his men, his abilities, and his God. When the end did come however it was swift. Just three months after Trier was defeated, Brandenburg suffered a major defeat to a superior Austrian invasion force just outside Potsdam on 3 May 1565. Over four thousand irreplaceable soldiers of the Mark were lost in the bloody encounter and this struck to the heart of the new strategic dilemma. Brandenburg had always been a minor European state and four years of intense war had almost entirely drained its reserves of manpower. The losses incurred through the defeat at Potsdam and heavy campaigning to the west simply could not be made good and, despite the hasty recruiting of mercenaries, the army remained starved of men. In contrast the Imperial forces converging on Brandenburg comprised at least thirty thousand men assisted by an anti-Hohenzollern revolt in Pomerania. The next year unfolded as a series of bruising defeats for Jobst II as the Austrians moved to occupy all of the Mark. Finally on 11 April 1566 the Margrave was forced to sign the humiliating peace presented to him by Vienna. The terms dictated by Johann Karl I in the Treaty of Neumark were targeted not at Protestantism itself but rather the ambitions of Brandenburg that had enabled such a challenge to Hapsburg hegemony. Most of the Mark's territorial gains were stripped from it - Hinterpommern was ceded to Austria, both the Archbishopric of Magdeburg and Duchy of Pomerania were re-established as independent entities, and the various vassals gained through the latest war were released from their servitude. It was a combination of this harsh peace, continuing Austrian occupation, and sheer war exhaustion that plunged Brandenburg into chaos that summer of 1566. The Mark, and Jobst II, would survive but would no longer play a significant role in German history


Few corners of Germany escaped such troubles and these years of war were marked by an almost apocalyptic despair as famine and pestilence followed in the wake in advancing armies as they crisscrossed the country. Mortality rates skyrocketed as poor harvests, epidemics, and lawlessness all conspired to depopulate much of the countryside. The religious nature of the conflict lent a particularly bitter edge to the fighting with massacres and atrocities, against both soldiers and civilians, becoming increasingly common as the war dragged on. The harrowing of Brandenburg in 1565-'66 was merely repayment for the casual manner in which Protestant armies had butchered their way through the Rhineland in the years previously. These great crimes committed in the name of God would profoundly effect German society for decades, if not centuries, to come. The disruption of trade and pillaging of the land caused economic ruination for many while the fabric of urban society was once again severely tested by plague. In the political sphere the myth of German fraternity was forever shattered by the bitter warfare and the inconclusive nature of the Treaty of Potsdam. Emperor Johann Karl had secured a decisive victory over Brandenburg but he failed to produce a solution to the divisive issue of religion. Protestantism was simply not going to disappear and yet there was no broad agreement that could reconcile the diverse faiths within the framework of the Empire. It was this failure that would ultimately doom the Holy Roman Empire in the following century as the destructive forces unleashed by the Reformation continued to fester and build. Nonetheless the first chapter in this drama ended with the victory of the Catholic cause and a Germany divided like never before

 

Duke of Wellington

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13 August 1805

Adam was taken aback. “The Ark? You mean, the Ark of the Covenant?”

Claudius smiled, broadly, and his words came as a hissed whisper, “yes, the Ark itself. Think, Adam, think about the Ark. Think about its power. With it, we can reshape Europe, destroy the Turk, restore God’s Kingdom on Earth.”

“How, how did you find it?” Adam was curious, and even a little scared. The Ark, after all, was the most powerful, and unpredictable artifact in Israel.

“That, Adam, is why we are here, why the Portuguese came before us, and why the Templars tried to reach this place as well. You see, the Graal, as the Ethiopians call it, were given the Ark as a gift to the Queen of Sheba by Soloman himself. He sent it away on God’s command, for the Lord knew that Israel would be rent asunder, and he wanted his Ark taken and hidden away. Now the Queen of Sheba ruled over the Ethiopians, as we now know, and she knew how precious this artifact was. So precious that the Levites were sent into exile along with the Ark itself, so they could continue to care for it as prescribed by God. So, holed up in a new temple in the heart of Africa, the Ark disappeared from the world. Until the Crusades.”

“You see, the Templars did not come to the Levant seeking to protect pilgrims, no, they came in search of the Ark. That is where they get their name: The Israeli’s Temple. And the Temple had but one purpose, to house God’s Earthly Throne, the Ark of the Covenant. Of course, they never found it. How could they? It wasn’t there, so, to finance their continued search, the original eleven added more members and accepted donations to protect pilgrims and the Holy Land and they proved so successful that they built the second best fighting force in the Holy Land and they fought, bled and died never getting closer to their goal. Until just before the Third Crusade.”

“Adam, the Ethiopians maintained a chapel at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and, just as Saladin was rising to power in the Saracen world, an unusual exile arrived. His name was Lalibela. He was the King of the Ethiopians, or had been. His uncle drove him from the throne and into exile. So, he wanted his throne back. And he was willing to pay a high price. He offered a chance to view the Ark of the Covenant. Most of us thought him mad. Indeed, our Grandmaster had him scourged and chased from our headquarters for blasphemy.” And here, Claudius paused, shaking his head, “such an opportunity missed. But the Templars did not miss it. They’d searched for this chance for a century. With Templar help, Lalibela regained his throne, and true to his word, he showed them the Ark, even allowing a Templar Honour Guard to be stationed at the Church where the Ark rests.”

“Now, this happy condominium did not last long. The Templars, at least in the book I found, claimed that Lalibela was jealous and betrayed them. I think they were caught trying to steal the Ark. At any rate, the Templars were surprised, massacred and banned from Ethiopia. Ever since, they’ve been trying to get back, to get their hands on the Ark again.”

Adam shook his head, “this is all rather absurd, don’t you think? I mean, why wouldn’t the Templars have come and taken the Ark with power? Why not march armies down to seize it by force?”

“Think, boy, did you ever notice that the Crusades, after the Lion Heart’s, never really went after Palestine anymore? They went after Egypt, until that was given up on, then they focused on West Africa. That was the work of the Templars, twisting, manipulating, trying to raise every soldier they could find to break through the Ayyubid, then Mameluk hold on Egypt, the hold that blocked their chance to return and claim the Ark.” Claudius smiled, “poor foolish Saint Louis. Twice they tricked the French King into fighting their war, once going straight into Egypt and once into Tunisia, trying to cut around the Saracens, you see.”

“Consumed by their goal, the Templars failed to adapt to the new world. We claimed a home in Rhodes, the Teutonic Knights claimed one in Prussia, but the Templars? They wanted their new home to be in Ethiopia and they pushed, prodded, pestered until the Kings of France grew wise and crushed the gadflys. That woke them up. The last desperate remnants sailed out the Pillars of Hercules in their galleys and tried to sail to Ethiopia.”

“They got to the Kongo. And they have been lucky to maintain a precarious leadership over the hordes of pagans ever since. And the Portuguese? Did you ever wonder why they went East while the rest of the world was going West? They were going for Ethiopia too.”

Adam looked doubtful. “Why would the Portuguese care a whit about any of this?”

Claudius grinned. “When the Templars were suppressed, the Portuguese Templars, rather than being tortured and burned, were instead transferred into the Order of Christ. Do you know who the Grandmaster of the Order of Christ was, young Adam? It was Prince Henry the Navigator. The man who launched Portugal’s drive to the East. And they made it too, in time, leaping past the Templars, who they supported as Kings of the Kongolese, and made war with too on occasion, reaching Ethiopia just in time to save them from a Saracen invasion. The Order of Christ, and by extension, the Portuguese Crown, had forgotten the reason for the mad search by then, but enough of the memory remained for them to form a permanent defensive alliance with the Ethiopians, and the Ethiopians, still remembering the one good service the Templars had done for them, have offered aid to the Kongolese as well.”

Triumphant, Claudius rose from his seat, “and that, Adam, is why we are here, to reclaim God’s Throne for his most worthy servants. And unlike the Ethiopians, we will use this Ark to destroy Napolean, to destroy the Secular Humanists and the Lutherans, to crush any who stand in the way of God’s Will, for that, Adam, that is the sacred duty of the Knights of St. John.”

Adam sat, thoughtfully, there wasn’t any reason to doubt the old man’s story. Why, the Kongo Flag was emblazoned with a scarlet cross. Sure, it wasn’t the traditional Templar cross, but then, who knows what five centuries can do to an institution. It had clearly changed the Knights Hospitaller quite a bit. But then, even if it was true, was it right? Wasn’t there a reason the Ethiopians never used the Ark? Or that the Portuguese, armed with cannons and guns, never seized the Ark from the Ethiopians? What if they had not forgotten Henry the Navigator’s will at all? What if he sent Portugal East not to take the Ark, but to protect it? And the Templars, Kings of the Kongo, what if they learned this lesson before they sailed from Europe? What if they too, were seeking to protect the Ark? Adam’s head hurt. Who was right here? How did he get himself involved in this mess? He rose from his seat, bowing stiffly to Fra Claudius Carafa, and said, “thank you, My Lord, you have given me much to consider. Would you mind if I excused myself. There is much to think about and we make landfall tomorrow.”

Claudius nodded, “of course sapling. And when we’ve secured our base in East Africa, we can dine again, and perhaps discuss your future with the Order?” Claudius winked and smiled.

Adam smiled back, “I should be delighted to.” He walked out of the room. Claudius nodded, satisfied, this young man would make a fine addition to the order.

* * * * *​

The Epilogue – 9 September 1806

It had been well over a year since the Fleet sailed from Kisarna. Master of Fleet Claudius, the Temple Fleet, even the entire Army were gone. The situation was a disaster everywhere. The Templars had gone onto the attack again, seizing Ngongo. No further help would be coming from Europe either. The Portuguese had convinced their English allies that Malta would make a fine base for enforcing a blockade of Southern Europe. The Knights still nominally ruled there, but their Grandmaster, the treasury, and the Hospitaller’s Library had all been sent to Brazil, to the court of the exiled Portuguese Kings, for safekeeping. Tragically, Ferdinand von Hampesch, the Grandmaster, fell overboard and drowned along the way.

The Knights who made it to Brazil quickly elected Afonso VII, King of Portugal and Emperor of Brazil, as their new Grandmaster. The Knights in Africa refused to accept the nomination, instead desperately awaiting Claudius’ return. On 9 September, he did.

The Portuguese Fleet, some 8 Heavy Frigates, sailed into Kisarna. Packed on board were 6,000 soldiers. The same men who defeated the Knights in pitched battle, thanks to the timely murder of Fra Gregorius de Sengle, Master of the Maltese Army, which created confusion the Portuguese easily exploited. Then the Indian Ocean Fleet hunted the Hospitaller fleet relentlessly, at last pinning them down and destroying them off the coast of Madagascar, so Claudius did return, but only his head, hanging from the focastle of the Portuguese Flagship. In the cabin of the Portuguese Admiral, Ensign Adam d’Isle, hero of Sofala, stared out the windows. He was the one who stabbed the Maltese general. He was also the one who guided the Portuguese fleet. After all, Adam knew where Claudius planned to regroup if defeated. He was watching the garrison commander slowly lower the Knight’s flag and watching the Kongolese and Portuguese raise the flags of the Templars and the King of Portugal. This was the last time the flag of the Knights of the Order was lowered.
 
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