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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Vesimir

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Will be reading this. More will be written after I catch up. ;)
 

Alfredian

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Phargle and Vesimir thank you for reading.

I have just been rereading the Hastings post and realised that when I try and picture the battle what I actually see is all through the lens of 1914-1918. I think it is the whole idea of a doomed generation, be they Saxons or Edwardians. Anyway, on a less melancholy note, here is part 7.
 

Alfredian

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Part 7 – A hearth and a wife

Emperor Constantine wanted to get rid of his wife’s new ‘friend’ Cerdic Uffason, but killing Cerdic was out of the question. Constantine was a careful man where his own safety was concerned, and a careful man does not alienate his own bodyguards. This is especially the case here as the guardsmen who made up the Varangian Guard were northern barbarians, Men who were prone to swearing oaths of brotherhood with their comrades and launching bloodfeuds if their friends were killed. Cerdic was a member of the Guard and a popular one at that.

It is an ill wind that blows no-one good, and news of the destruction at Hastings gave Emperor Constantine an interesting idea about how to rid himself of Cerdic. During the 1060s Norman adventurers led such as Robert Guiscard were spreading like lice across Southern Italy and showed every sign of being prepared to attack the Empire as well. Who better to place in the path of these Norman land-pirates, than a Saxon like Cerdic who had already sworn to have his revenge for the death of his father and brother?

The Emperor asked his secretary to bring him maps of the Empire’s Adriatic coastline and looked for somewhere facing the Normans, yet as far from the comforts of civilisation (and the comforts of the Empress Eudokia) as possible. The Emperor had a classical education and a sense of humour, so decided that a potential opponent for Guiscard’s Italians should be based in Epirus. Therefore, at the start of 1067 Cerdic Uffason, son of a Berkshire thegn, found himself as Count of Epirus within the Theme of Epirus. Without asking the Emperor’s permission he styled himself Earl of Epirus.


Cerdic had never been short of female company, but as the last of his line he needed a wife to give him a legitimate heir. He knew his position was vulnerable, and sought to consolidate his position within the Empire by marrying into the Greek aristocracy. This was sensible, but showed something of a lack of awareness of how the Greeks perceived him. Cerdic might have been fine as a plaything for a married woman like Empress Eudokia, but no respectable family was going to marry their daughter to such a northern barbarian. Especially when it seemed likely that the Emperor would soon strip Cerdic of his land. Cerdic needed to look further afield for a bride.


If Cerdic could not consolidate his position on the East of the Adriatic amongst the Greek aristocracy, he realised that he might make a profitable alliance to the West. There were three options here. The first was to marry into the new Norman aristocracy of Southern Italy. Cerdic could not bring himself to marry one of those land-pirates (even if they were a different strain to those who had killed his father). The second option was to marry into the native Italian nobility of the north, but they had little power in the Eastern Mediterranean. The third option was to link himself to one of the great merchant republics. This would offer Cerdic a safe-haven if the Emperor should decide to turn on him. Venice was the obvious choice.


Domenico Corregio had heard from a junior merchant of his that an Englishman had been appointed a count in the wilds of Epirus. Before he could follow up on this curious piece of news he received a letter (which had obviously been composed in Greek and then translated into passable Latin) from “Cerdic Uffason, Earl of Epirus”. The letter told (a sanitised version) of Cerdic’s adventures in Constantinople, apologised for the poor quality of the scribes available (which is the sort of dictation that does not endear one to a scribe), and asks for the hand of Domenico’s daughter Adalasia in marriage.

This presented Demenico with something of a puzzle. Less than a year before he had sent Cerdic to Constantinople precisely to avoid such a match. However, the ‘pet barbarian’ was no longer quite penniless, having castles and retainers of his own. More importantly, he also had a harbour halfway down the Adriatic that could be very useful to Venice in general, and to the Corregio family’s business in particular. Cerdic would also make a useful ally against the growth of the nearby Republic of Ragusa. With a wry smile at this twist of fate, Domenico wrote to Cerdic to say that he gave his blessing to the marriage, but the ceremony must take place in Venice using the Catholic rite. None of his neighbours must be able to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the marriage.


Adalasia’s thoughts about the wedding are recorded in some notes taken down in her dotage by her daughter Aethelhild. She recalled being excited to escape from her parents’ authority and (as Cerdic’s mother was in England) to have a household of her own to govern. Epirus was not a wealthy land, and Adalasia would have been richer than if she had married into another of the grand Venetian families. However, she saw herself as becoming a countess as a result of the marriage, which enabled her to look down her nose at all of the girls she had grown up with and who stayed within the comfort of merchant life. She certainly never told Aethelhild that she had any worries about married life with Cerdic. Although Adalasia was not an intellectual, she had always been able to get her own way with the men in her family. Handling Cerdic when she had known him in Venice had not caused her any difficulty and she did not foresee any after the wedding.

Adalasia’s confidence was not misplaced. The division of labour they established on the first day of married life lasted until Cerdic’s death. Cerdic ruled the realm, but Adalasia governed the household. Though not strictly a love match, they were content together and built a family and an Earldom where nothing had existed before.
 

General_BT

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Clever move by the Emperor, and clever countermove by Cerdic, marrying into Venetian blood. Love how he regards the Normans as "land pirates." :)
 

Alfredian

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General_BT Thank you for reading

deceitful and trusting ... now those are traits to marry for!
Not ideal. I have probably been a bit charitable by imagining Adalasia as someone who has the cunning necessary for running the household, but maybe to trusting for the "big boys' rules" of Greek politics.
 

Alfredian

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Part 8 - The Earldom of Epirus - Society

Cerdic Uffason’s new earldom of Epirus was strictly speaking a district within the Theme of Epirus. As such Cerdic was (at least in theory) subject to the commands of Nikephoros Palaiologos, Prince of the Theme of Epirus and Count of Arta. The Theme consisted of three districts: 1) in the north Cerdic’s Earldom of Epirus; 2) in the south Prince Nikephoros’ district of Arta; 3) the island of Corfu (ruled by a succession of Nikephoros’ relatives).


Earl Cerdic and Prince Nikephoros did not get on. They both owed their position to their relationship with the Doukas family (currently represented by Emperor Constantine X), but there the similarity ended. Nikephoros felt that he was Cerdic’s superior, both by his position as Prince of the Theme, and more naturally as he was a civilised Greek of noble Macedonian descent, while Cerdic was an “illiterate barbarian from an island on the edge of the world”.

Needless to say, Cerdic saw things differently. He had been given his district of Epirus by the Emperor’s own hand. In Cerdic’s (English) view that made him an Earl, a lord in his own domain and answerable to no one but the Emperor and (in some circumstance) a Witan (i.e. assembly) of the nobles and churchmen within the Earldom. As such he refused to call out his retainers at Nikephoros’ command. Nikephoros never dared to force Cerdic’s hand on this, as to do so might have looked suspiciously like building up the powerbase for a revolt against Emperor Constantine X. While Nikephoros might have been reckless in many of his personal dealings, he had not become a Prince of the Empire without learning the consequences of apparent disloyalty. Indeed he had disposed of such threats to the Emperor more than once in his climb to power.


It would be fair to say that there are six main constituencies that must be considered when looking at any realm of Cerdic’s time: the Ruling Family; the High Nobility (Princes, Dukes, Earls, Counts); the Minor Nobility (thegns, barons, knights, etc); the Clergy; the Burghers (merchants, craftsmen, etc); and finally the peasants (whether free or unfree). Let us look at each of these groups within Cerdic’s Earldom of Epirus in 1067:

The Peasants. This group had little reason to like Cerdic. He was an outsider and like all nobles would inevitably take the fruit of the labours, be that the sons and daughters, their money or their crops (including their fruit). However, if Cerdic was no worse than the average Count of the Empire they were unlikely to rebel, and would confine themselves to grumbling and trying to withhold their taxes.

The Burghers. This group were keen on Cerdic’s administration from the start. While Adalasia had little experience of agriculture, her family background meant that she understood the importance of trade. She persuaded Cerdic to increase the amount of power held by the Burghers. They appreciated this honour, and the protection it brought from the Minor Nobility and served the Uffason’s loyally. Many members of the early administration were drawn from the merchant community. The Burghers also appreciated the improved trade opportunities (e.g. better access to the Italian market, lower shipping costs) that came from improved relations with Venice.

The Clergy. Their attitude to Cerdic was one of benign indifference. They too viewed him as a barbarian, but appreciated his conversion to the Orthodox rite. Cerdic was not the most pious of men, but he observed the correct forms, confirmed the church in its property, and encouraged the conversion to Orthodoxy of his retainers and household. While Adalasia retained her own private chapel, Cerdic swore that his heir (when one came) would be brought up to follow the Orthodox rite. The clergy were certainly not going to stir up the Peasants or Greek Minor Nobility against Cerdic.

The Minor Nobility. These formed the backbone of virtually every army of this period. Men wealthy enough to arm themselves for war and to take the time to train for it.

When Cerdic arrived in Epirus the established Minor Nobility were Greeks, holding grants of land in exchange for service in the army of the Theme. In theory this service was for one year in every 3 or 6 years, but in practice the time required had become quite flexible. These land grants were heritable, and as long as some member of the family (or a suitable proxy) turned up when required, then the duty was considered fulfilled. This was a set of responsibilities not very different from those of a knight in England under the William the Bastard’s land-pirates. The established Greek Minor Nobles were referred to as Old Greeks as their tenure predated Cerdic’s arrival. They had no love for him, and were waiting for him to be cast down by the Emperor.

This view was not held by the increasing number of members of the Minor Nobility who owed their position to Cerdic. He promoted Greeks who had entered his service from the Minor Nobility and the Burgher class alike. These so-called New Greeks were reasonably loyal, but would adjust to new circumstances if the Uffason’s failed to become a dynasty.


The final element within the Minor nobility were the men known in our family history as Saxons or Varangians. Both terms are misnomers, as only a minority of them were Saxon or had served in the Varangian Guard. The term Saxon came about because Cerdic was known to be an Englishman, and because much of our terminology and some of our (in Greek eyes rather outlandish) styles and customs are English in origin. Cerdic’s non-Greek followers came from a range of peoples, particularly England, Frisia, Scandinavia and the Princedom’s of Rus. Their languages and customs were similar enough for them to serve as comrades and where they differed, they adopted standards based on Cerdic’s English usages.

Let us consider what I call an ‘alternative history’. Imagine men from England settled the (possibly fictional) land the Norse call Vinland. They would take their own social structures and customs and use them in that new place. If individual settlers came from across Europe to settle there is it not likely they would take on some of these English words and customs to enable them to join the community? This is what happened when Cerdic’s non-Greek followers came together in Epirus.

The term I (and indeed most modern writers) prefer for this group are Varangians. This reflects the fact that many early members had served in the Emperor’s Varangian Guard with Cerdic, while many more were the half-Greek children of a previous generation of Guardsmen. These half-Greeks had every reason to serve Cerdic, as he offered them a degree of acceptance that they did not find having been born between two worlds. The use of the term Varangian for Cerdic’s ‘foreigners’ also reflects the practical need to differentiate them from the ‘pure’ English that lived under Norman tyranny.

The Varangians were fiercely loyal to Cerdic. The word itself comes from the old Norse word to pledge (var) and all of them had pledged their service to Cerdic and his heirs. This formed the basis for what was to become effectively a feudal society, where Minor Nobles pledged service to their Earl. The New Greeks took on this custom straightaway, and the Old Greeks eventually followed suit.

The Ruling Family & High Nobility. At this point these two constituencies consisted entirely of Earl Cerdic and his wife Adalasia. Cerdic had no family left alive and the couple had no children. The foundations of the new Earldom were clearly quite shallow.
 

AllmyJames

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Nice - I just caught up with the last two updates. Constantine certainly does have an ironic sense of humour! But a match-up against the Guiscard should be interesting for Cerdic!

And don't worry about Nikephoros - he's 39 and he still hasn't graduated yet!
 

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Yar har har! The Norman land-pirates be a-plunderin'! Fear the bizarre mixing of Norse, Frankish, Roman, and Gaul bloodlines!

If the AI weren't incompetent (not a jab at Paradox; AIs are generally inferior to humans), I'd wish you luck. But you won't need it.

An Anglo-Saxon in Emperor Constantine's Court... OK, it's not quite a Mark Twain parallel, but it sure seems like it.
 

Alfredian

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First a quick reminder that it is not too late to vote in the AARland CHoice AwAARds. Even if you don't comment a lot it is a good chance to promote some AARs you are reading and discover something new. It has got me into the HOI2 forum, which I haven' visited much before.

And don't worry about Nikephoros - he's 39 and he still hasn't graduated yet!
I think he is hanging about at Uni to meet girls. Or it could be that when I installed DVIP ages ago it screwed up those icons. I will blank them out in future.

nice bit of story development, but you can see that will turn out to a bad one - just look at the beard ... that is one nasty person's beard.
Bad beard, bad character. Its obvious really. What is the beard version of phrenology called? Now Cerdic has a trustworthy beard...

Yar har har! The Norman land-pirates be a-plunderin'! Fear the bizarre mixing of Norse, Frankish, Roman, and Gaul bloodlines!

If the AI weren't incompetent (not a jab at Paradox; AIs are generally inferior to humans), I'd wish you luck. But you won't need it.

An Anglo-Saxon in Emperor Constantine's Court... OK, it's not quite a Mark Twain parallel, but it sure seems like it.
Thank you for reading. You are absolutely right that you have to avoid taking advantage of the AI's foibles. That being said, the AI had been quite effective at handling the Seljuks.
 

Alfredian

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Part 9 – Darkness and decline (1067 to 1071)

Emperor Constantine need not have worried about keeping Cerdic away from Empress Eudokia, as he died within months of sending Cerdic to Epirus. He was succeeded by his son Michael. Emperor Michael VII Doukas had few qualifications for the throne other than his birth. He was lazy, weak-willed, and couldn’t speak in public. Like his father he was much more interested in scholarly dialogue than the governance of the Empire, which fell almost entirely into the hands of his ministers. When he did intervene it was in an arbitrary fashion, settling imagined slights by promoting some and demoting others within the imperial service.


Emperor Michael VII’s reign was period of darkness and decline, which thankfully lasted only four years (1067 to 1071). Three key problems arose for the Empire during his reign, one to the West, one at the heart of the Empire and one to the East.

In the West the Norman land-pirates continued to build their new domain. A rabble of self-declared counts and barons held loosely together by the D’Hauteville brothers, and in particular a cunning wretch called Robert Guiscard (the ‘Duke of Apulia’). Apparently Guiscard means fox or cunning or some such in their bastard tongue. He was better named than they thought, as like a fox he picked over the decayed remains of Emperor Justinian’s (died 565 AD) reconquered provinces in Italy. By the time of Emperor Michael VII’s reign the Italian provinces were effectively independent, yet still they represented the Empire’s claims to Italy and should have been defended. Emperor Michael did nothing. In 1067 he sat in comfort while the Guiscard completed this process by taking the lands of the Greek Prince of Salerno.

The Empire was spared not by the actions of the Emperor, but by the greed of the Guiscard. He found easier, richer pickings in Sicily and went for those instead. Nevertheless, relations between the Greeks and Italo-Normans were to remain hostile for some time to come.


In the heart of the Empire there was crisis as the Princes of the Empire chafed under the arbitrary and ineffectual rule of Emperor Michael. Men who fear they will be robbed of all that they have are often prepared to take great risks to prevent this injustice. In Emperor Michael’s short reign the Princes of Dyrrachion, Trebizond, Mesopotamia, Aleppo, and the Archbishop of Armenia all rebelled. The campaigns to recapture them drained Asia Minor of manpower and emptied the Imperial Treasury. The Emperor failed to retake the Eastern fringe of the Empire and so lost a valuable buffer between us and the Arabs and Turks.


In the East Emperor Michael was faced with a threat far more serious than the carrion-eating Normans. The Seljuk Turks were a mighty people. They were the continuation of the migrations that had been driving tribes of all descriptions from the east towards Europe and the Mediterranean since the days when the Empire was united. Importantly they had converted to Islam on their travels, so the threat they posed was not just temporal, but spiritual as well.

In 1069 they sensed the weakness in the Empire that had been apparent in the rebellions and moved into one of the Anatolian frontier Themes. In a rare show of determined action Emperor Michael VII declared war on the Seljuks and led his forces out in person. In 1070 he brought the Turkish Sultan Alp Arslan to battle near the town of Manzikert in Eastern Anatolia. Michael was out-thought and out-fought by the Turks, dying on the field surrounded by his loyal Varangian Guardsmen.

The Seljuks had humbled the Empire and the news had come that the Kingdom of Egypt had also collapsed, with each important Emir declaring independence. The Sejuks appeared to be supreme in the Near East.

What was the contribution of Earl Cerdic and the men of Epirus to this campaign against the Turks? They did march East to join the campaign, but were coming from further than any of the other contingents. When they got closer to the front, Cerdic’s guides reported the weakness of the (neutral) Emir of Aleppo and he decided that there was no harm in plucking this low hanging fruit before fighting the Turks. The guides were not particularly accurate, and when the Epirots drew up their forces outside Aleppo they were actually outnumbered (7:9).

In Epirus, Cerdic had found himself with a very mixed force at his disposal. His Varangian Minor Nobles (see part 8) were English/Scandinavian style heavy infantry. His Greek Minor Nobles mostly fought as heavy cavalry. These Cataphractoi were equipped very like a Frankish knight (not like a cataphract of the ancient Parthians). The rest of his force were Greek medium/light infantry drawn from the Burghers, Peasants, and the poorest of the Greek Minor Nobles. These were generally poorly trained and equipped, with most having only a spear, kite-shield and helmet. However, their level of training did improve somewhat during the journey across Anatolia. The anger of a huscarl can have a powerful motivating effect on a peasant soldier.

To describe how Cerdic’s army operated in battle let us draw on your knowledge of warfare on the classical world, back before the Pax Romana. The traditional hoplite battle had two solid walls of men facing each other. Each man stood close to his neighbour. It was essentially contest of strength, without a great deal of tactical finesse. Little use was made of cavalry and you won victory by pushing back your enemy, not outflanking them. This was very similar to the English (and indeed Viking) shield-wall tactics that Cerdic had been taught about since birth.

Most of Cerdic’s force were simply not good enough to win a battle against credible opposition if they were used this way. Cerdic needed to win the battle quickly, and that meant routing the enemy by breaking their line. To do this he used his Varangian followers in a deep strong mass to apply a sharp hammer blow to the Arab’s right wing. He had effectively moved his tactics forward from the classic hoplite battle to the weighted wing used by the ancient Thebans, with the Varangians playing the role of the Sacred Band.

Cerdic’s Epirots not on won the battle, but occupied the whole Emirate of Aleppo. When total victory was achieved did they get the spoils of victory? No, they were sold out by the treacherous Nikephoros (Prince of Epirus and Cerdic supposed superior), whose emissaries took the Emir’s gold and gave him back his land. Cerdic had lost all his gains and could do nothing without appearing to defy Prince Nikephoros and (by implication) the Emperor. This legal robbery left a bitter taste in Cerdic’s mouth. He swore he would never again campaign in the East and led his men home to Epirus.

Cerdic returned home to yet more bad news. The men of Northern England had risen twice against the Norman land-pirates and each time the Bastard had crushed them. The last bastion of the English aristocracy was crushed. In time many of these dispossessed thegns and huscarls would find their way to the East and (finding the Emperor’s Varangian Guard destroyed) enter Cerdic’s service. He was the remaining English Earl and the only alternative to piracy or service to a foreigner.
 

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Too bad for Cerdic - sold out by the back-stabbing Nikephoros. Let's just hope the Prince tries his luck against the Emperor, and perhaps the 'loyal' Saxon earl can deliver justice against him with Imperial blessing.

The situation in the East is better than I've come to expect from the Byzantine AI. I hope it continues. Who's next in the game of musical-chairs that is the Imperial succession? Alexios Konmemnos? Or someone else?
 

loki100

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one does get the strong impression that Cedric really has a thing about the Normans ...

would agree with AllmyJames, by the standards of the Byzantine AI thats not too bad, but a bit more chaos may help Cedric find a more independent niche?
 

Alfredian

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one does get the strong impression that Cedric really has a thing about the Normans ...
Well they are lead by a complete bastard.

The situation in the East is better than I've come to expect from the Byzantine AI. I hope it continues. Who's next in the game of musical-chairs that is the Imperial succession? Alexios Konmemnos? Or someone else?
would agree with AllmyJames, by the standards of the Byzantine AI thats not too bad, but a bit more chaos may help Cedric find a more independent niche?
You guys do not have very high expectations of the Byzantines. Surely an Empire that has lasted a thousand years can't crumble after just a few years of CK?

RE Succession I have had to make sure Cerdic does not end up as Emperor at an implausible time (as happend in my test game), so don't expect them to be serving beer in the Imperial throneroom just yet.

On a different note, there is a discussion in relation to the AARland choice awards about how easy it is to categorise AARs between Comedy, Gameplay, Historybook, and Narrative. I can't even work out what my own AAR is, so please let me know.
 

Alfredian

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Part 10 – If not East then where? (1072 to 1083)

When we look at Earl Cerdic in 1072 we see a man who is apparently successful. He has higher title, more money, and more retainers than he could have hoped for had he stayed in England. He also has an Italian wife (Adalasia) from an influential Venetian family, three young sons (Edward b. 1068, Beornred b. 1070, and Oshere b. 1072) and a daughter (Agatha b. 1069). Why then does he seem ill at ease?

The truth is that it is not easy being a new-man, and even less so when one is a foreigner. At any moment the Emperor could take away all that he had. The responsibility he carried was even greater as increasing numbers of English exiles found their way to his court. They all had to be fed and paid as retainers (as his huscarls), or found land (and peasants to work it) as his thegns. He could not take land from the Old Greek Minor Nobles without causing a rebellion in his domain. Cerdic therefore needed to increase the size of the Earldom, but his Arab Campaign of 1070 had been fruitless (thanks to his supposed liege – Prince Nikephoros of Epirus) and the prospects in the East looked bleak.


The war against the Seljuks raged on in Anatolia, but the new Emperor Constantine XI was a mere child. The Doukas family had held onto the throne, but at what price for the Empire? There appeared to be no prospect of victory as the Imperial court would not approve the creation of a command strong enough to force the Seljuks back. There was certainly no chance for Cerdic to feast on the spoils of an Imperial victory.

Much as Cerdic’s followers would have liked to attack the Norman land-pirates in Italy, it was obvious that Cerdic lacked the forces to mount a credible challenge to them. That left only one option. An option which Cerdic would have avoided had it not been for the land-hunger of the growing English exile community. In 1072, Cerdic declared war on the Chiefdom of Turnu and started a war between the Empire and the whole Pagan Pecheneg nation (which bordered the Empire along the lower section of the Danube).


The Empire could have done without another war while still fighting the Seljuks. The garrisons along the Danube had been stripped out and sent to Anatolia, so the Empire’s European defences were a hollow shell. In the end no Imperial Forces at all took part in the conflict, which became effectively a private enterprise by Earl Cerdic and the Count of Korinth. By 1073, Cerdic had forced the Pecheneg High Chief to accept peace and was busy settling Varangian and Corinthian Minor Nobles on estates in the new Earldom of Turnu.

Peace with the High Chief of the Pechenegs did not mean peace within the new territories, and the men of Turnu revolted twice against their new overlords within a year of the conquest. This set up a vicious cycle of rebellion and reconquest that would keep the region in ruins for a generation, with nine rebellions between 1073 and 1082 (two Marshals were killed crushing these). Each rebellion would be accompanied by an outcry from the Varangian and New Greek Minor Nobles. The outcry would not blame their ‘appropriation’ of land, or the imposition of Orthodox Christianity for the rebellion. The blame was placed squarely on the free Pechenegs across the border and demands were raised for Earl Cerdic to “put the Pagans in their place”. This saw further wars with the High Chief in 1075, 1078, and 1082. In both 1075 and 1082, the Emperor unilaterally imposed a peace settlement, robbing Cerdic’s followers of the new territories they felt they had earned. The settlement of 1082 caused so much ill will that Cerdic almost withdrew from the Empire to do homage to the King of Hungary.

However, the Pecheneg war of 1078 was far from fruitless as it brought Cerdic new territories bordering his Earldom of Turnu, which became the Earldom of Tirgoviste. They also allowed him to declare that his new Danubian territories were substantial enough to be considered a Theme of the Empire, and that in future he would hold them as Prince of Wallachia. He had taken by the sword the title which the Imperial court would never have given to him. He had also freed himself from the (nominal) authority of the Nikephoros, Prince of Epirus (who was jealous, greedy and had a villain’s beard).


Cerdic never spoke of the irony that his family and many of his Varangian followers had been forced from their estates by invading Norman Minor Nobles in England, only to do the same thing to the Pecheneg nobility across the Danube. He lived in difficult times when to a large extent might made right.

The addition of the new Earldom’s of Turnu and Tirgoviste clearly changed the power structure of Cerdic’s domain, so let us return to the constituencies we described in Part 8:

The Peasants. While the Peasants of Epirus were unchanged in their ambivalence towards Cerdic, the Pecheneg Peasantry of the new Earldoms actively despised Cerdic’s new regime for conquering them and imposing Christianity. Their frequent rebellions were a reflection of this.

The Burghers were still solidly behind Cerdic and Adalasia. Even those in the new provinces were loyal, as they began to profit from easier trade with the Empire.

The Clergy warmed to Cerdic as he opened up the Danubian Earldoms to their missionaries. Their growing support provided Cerdic with a greater degree of legitimacy than he had originally enjoyed.

The Minor Nobility was a constituency where the balance of power moved considerably in this period. The new Danubian Earldoms gave Cerdic significant power of patronage. It allowed him to increase the size of the loyal Varangian and New Greek Minor Nobility, who soon outnumbered the Old Greek nobles. The New Greek Minor Nobles across the Danube included substantial numbers of both Corinthians (who had campaigned under their own Count during the conquest) and the younger sons of Epirot Old Greek families.


Two notable domestic events happened within Cerdic’s court during this period. The first was the arrival of Eadgar the Atheling at court in 1078. He might have been born in Hungary, but he was the legitimate heir (in Cerdic’s view) of the English crown, being descended on the right line of the Kings of Wessex. He had been crowned King for a short time after Harold Godwinsson’s death in battle, but was handed over to the Bastard’s men and imprisoned. Despite eventually escaping and joining with Scots, Norsemen & English rebels, Eadgar failed to come close to regaining the crown and set out to start life again in the Mediterranean.

It was not surprising that Eadgar encountered Cerdic, as he was looking for exiles willing to campaign for new land and Cerdic’s court had become a magnet for these. What surprised many was that he chose to remain with Cerdic, instead of moving on. Eadgar accepted betrothal to Cerdic’s daughter Agatha, with a dowry of an Earldom to be assigned to Eadgar when Agatha was old enough to marry. Perhaps after being an exile since birth, Eadgar wanted something of his own at last, not just endless wandering from court to court. Cerdic at least was pleased with this arrangement. His grandchildren through Agatha and Eadgar would be the rightful Kings of England.

The second event was the banishment of Dowager Empress Eudokia from Constantinople. She was settled not far along the coast from the Earldom of Epirus. Cerdic would often pass that way, where the Empress turned her energies to continuing his education.
 

loki100

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nothing beats being educated by an Empress? Again I really like the way you're developing this & the way that Cedric justifies his actions.

without wishing to import the debate from the AAR voting thread - I'd say you're roughly what I'd call history book, but then as you have so many in-game pictures is it game play, & there most definitely is a narrative here (& a very good one too), and of course the discussion about Nikephoros' beard means its a comedy too? In other words who knows ... but at this stage I'd plump for history book as you're not setting out your actions in the logic of game moves.

re: Byzantium, I've never actually seen it disappear in CK, but it can shrink to very little & some very odd people become the Emperor, so all in all your Empire is doing as expected.
 

AllmyJames

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Hurrah! Edgar makes an appearance! Well done on getting a Principality for yourself. A Saxon Tsar of Bulgaria - that'd be quite something to behold...
 

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Just read through all of this and I really like it. I really like the love for detail mixed with an accurate description of society at the time
 

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A very interesting idea; an Saxon as a Prince of the Empire? I like it. Will be following.

Cerdic seems just barely cunning enough to thrive within the Empire; I do like his impromptu conquest of Wallachia.