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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Alfredian

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great stuff as ever, do like the way you are putting this together and the rather pragmatic character of Aethulwulf - though it appears his scope for ducking and diving has just ended
Absolutely right about Aethelwulf's lack of room for ducking and diving. Only diffcult decisions and trying to syrvive the consequences.

Well, the whole feudal-monarchic republic thingy was unexpected, but very good to read nonetheless.

And now you have most of Greece under your control! The map looks so much better now! :D
Much tidier, but Emperor Ilyas seems to think it would be tidier still if it was coloured in with Imperial Purple.

*************

Have I mentioned the AARland Choice Awards enough yet. There are hardly any votes for CK AARs so far, so please de-lurk and vote for your favourites!

*************

Next part coming up. I'm not quite happy with this one, but maybe that is because of the lack of room for ducking and diving....
 
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Part 19 – A fight for survival (1123)

Emperor Ilyas’ declaration of war against Aethelwulf’s friend and vassal (Prince Hvalimir of Rashka) placed our King in an unenviable position. If he went to war to support his vassal he would be committing the Republic to an unwinnable war against a foe who was far bigger and wealthier, had beaten his father and crushed the old Greek Empire. If he abandoned Prince Hvalimir then his other vassals might decide to desert the Republic and do homage to Emperor Ilyas directly. Either way he was gambling with the future of the Orthodox Church, as rule by a Muslim ruler would mean eventual conversion to that faith. This was already happening in Anatolia under the rule of both Emperor Ilyas and his Turkish rivals.

The Geography of the two realms was also distinctly unfavourable for the Republic. Many of the Republic’s territories had been gained by the Uffasons while they were still Princes in the Old Greek and New Muslim Empires, so were scattered throughout the Empire’s periphery. In any conflict the Empire would have internal lines of communication, while the different areas of the Republic would be cut off from one another. The main areas were (1) the Greek mainland, (2) Serbia, (3) the Danubian Provinces, and (4) the Aegean Islands.


Aethelwulf responded to Emperor Ilyas’ declaration of war against the Prince of Rashka in a speech to the Senate:

“The story of our Roman civilisation in the East has always been one of holding back the Eastern hordes that would destroy us. Our ancestors fought the Persians for hundreds of years. Before that we fought Mithradates and his degenerate Eastern armies as they ravaged Greece itself. Even before our Roman ancestors arrived our Greek forebears had locked shield to protect their homes from Darius and Xerxes.

The Arab barbarians broke through our ancestors defences while their so-called faith was young. They have done so again in our own lifetimes. The Empire our ancestors created has been destroyed. All of Egypt, Syria and Anatolia lost. Even the great city of Constantinople has fallen and the Turks stable beasts in the churches. Now the Arabs have come for us again. They have perverted the idea of the Empire and try to tell us that we are rebels because we do not bow the knee to them. Must we do homage to this so-called Emperor and see our faith defiled?

I say to you we must fight. We must fight as our forefathers did at Marathon and at Thermopylae. There is nowhere left to run to. There is no other haven on Earth for our beloved Church.

We may be shattered by the force of the blow our enemies will deliver. But we must return and fight them again and again until we have bled them dry, or until we ourselves perish.

We may be separated in this war. Each man may have to decide how best to fight to preserve the Republic. To aid this I am appointing five Proconsuls who will be empowered to fight the war as they see fit, subject only to those instruction that I (as Dictator) may be able to issue from time-to-time. You must trust these men and follow them as if you were following me:
• Marshal Badry will attack the Imperial vassals in the Crimea.
• Prince Eadulf of Wallachia (my Uncle) will lead our forces on the Danube. He will defend our territories and strike where possible at Imperial vassals on the European Black Sea coast.
• My brother, Prince Ulf of Dioclea will lead our forces in Serbia. He must drive out the Imperial forces.
• My half-brother Earl Saebert of Lesbos will campaign in the Aegean, depriving the Empire of their island bases.
• Prince Basilaios of Achaia will take his vassals south to liberate Crete from Muslim rule.
I will command the main army here in Macedonia. I will guard the heartland of the Republic and attack the Emperor’s main demesne lands in Europe.

Now go gather your retainers and prove you are worthy of your ancestors and your faith.”
Laying out Aethelwulf’s plans like this might seem like a rather foolish thing to do, as Emperor Ilyas would surely come to know the plan of campaign. However it did not really tell Emperor Ilyas’ generals anything they could not have guessed. The geographically fractured nature of the Republic left little choice between but to fight a series of separate local campaigns. Concentrating the Republic’s forces would mean abandoning the outlying provinces. The nobles of those provinces might well prefer to defect to Emperor Ilyas rather than abandon their lands and families to the enemy. The speech did say who would command each front, but Imperial spies would have reported this during the first weeks of the campaign. It did give the benefit that nobles and townsmen throughout the Republic knew who commanded each front. This would at least reduce the squabbling between the Republican nobles.

Emperor Ilyas’ generals went into the conflict feeling confident. Their local sheiks and emirs (mostly Greek converts to Islam) would hold the peripheral fronts, while the overwhelming mass of the Emperor’s Arab and Anatolian forces occupied the Republic’s heartlands in Macedonia and northern Greece. They could then mop up the Republic’s remaining forces at leisure. They had every reason to feel confident. They had never lost a major war and had grown rich and powerful from their success.

Phase One of the war – Spring and Summer 1123

The Emperor’s generals spent the Spring and Summer of 1123 mobilising their Arab horde and setting sail for Greece. However the Republic’s forces did not sit idly by, waiting for the axe to fall. They made substantial early gains, which were partly a result of the energetic campaign planned by King Aethelwulf and partly a result of the half-hearted campaigns fought by the Emperor’s European emirs and sheiks. These men were Greek converts to Islam, whose new faith was shallow at best. A matter of convenience, not conviction.

Before the first army set out Aethelwulf had publically announced that any emir or sheik who would do homage to him would keep their lands and enter the Senate. This did not fit his ‘holy war’ rhetoric, but was very effective. Many of the sheiks and emirs were defeated far more easily than would have been expected. They quickly did homage, and some were even re-baptised with the local commander of the Republican forces as godfather.

By the end of summer:
• Marshal Badry had conquered the Crimea (vassalising the Emir of Kherson) and was bringing his forces across to Bulgaria.
• Prince Eadulf’s forces were stalled on the Danube and awaiting reinforcements.
• Prince Ulf had driven the Imperial forces out of Serbia, vassalised the Sheik of Vidin, and was moving to support King Aethelwulf.
• King Aethelwulf had occupied the important Imperial demesne province of Macedonia and vassalised the Bishop of Chalkidike. This had involved some particularly hard fighting, as already the Imperial forces were beginning to concentrate there.
• Prince Basileios and Earl Saebert had occupied Crete and the remaining Greek islands, vassalising the emirs. Unfortunately they then began to bicker, as Earl Saebert wished to raid the Anatolian mainland from Rhodes, while Prince Basileos wanted to invade Cyprus. Unsurprisingly these two failed to achieve much more.

Phase Two of the war – Autumn and Winter 1123

As summer starter to turn to Autumn the war became more serious with the arrival of fresh Imperial forces from the heartlands of Anatolia and Syria. The Anatolians (a mixture of Turks and converted Greeks) came overland into Thrace, while the Arabs came by sea and landed directly in Macedonia and northern Greece.

The Republican armies were pounded again and again by these incomers until there were only two fighting forces of any note remaining: King Aethelwulf’s army in Macedonia and Marshal Badry’s army in Thrace.

As the year wore on the battles became larger and more fierce, sucking in reinforcements from across the Republic and the Empire. The situation in Thrace was the most fluid, with Marshal Badry trying to stem the flow of Imperial Anatolian reinforcements, and to occupy the rich Imperial demesne provinces there, yet constantly having to manoeuvre to protect conquered territory in the face of large Imperial armies.

In Macedonia the battles were simply relentless. However, despite Emperor Ilyas’ best efforts he was unable to drive King Aethelwulf army away from the capital of the Republic. The citizens of Thessalonike were able to stay put and treat the ever-growing number of wounded. Amongst the wounded was King Aethelwulf himself. He had been leading from the front on a regular basis and had been severely wounded on two occasions. By the winter of 1123 he had to be strapped to his horse to allow him to ride. It was obvious that his efforts were killing him.

There was a lull in the fighting just before Christmas 1123. King Aethelwulf and his men feasted together in Thessalonike. The young men drank and sang like the young everywhere who live with the possibility of death in combat.

The older men sat together and discussed the plans for King Aethelwulf’s forthcoming coronation as King of the Bulgarians (a title made possible by their conquests in the war so far). They discussed the war so far. They were still outnumbered. Their reserves of men and treasure were being used up at a frightening rate. The enemy continued to receive substantial reinforcements. They were without allies.

They talked until late, when King Aethelwulf rose to his feet. He stopped suddenly, staggered to his knees and died there within the hall, clinging to the arm of his brother Ulf.

The Republic was still in the gravest of danger and its fate had passed into the hands of a sixteen year old boy.
 

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oh whoops, not a good time for the dead king thing to happen.

I like the update, its a very different tone to your usual ones, perhaps because its a lot more military orientated than usual - but very appropriate.
 

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That could be my favourite comment on an AAR ever.

oh whoops, not a good time for the dead king thing to happen.
You can wait ages for a useless king to die, while the good ones often seem to have a deathwish.

*********************

Anyway, ridiculously busy time at work recently (end of our financial year, training new people......) so haven't had much time for reading or writing.

Bit of a different post coming up. All of the action takes place on one day, in the same city.
 

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Part 20 - The Mayor and the Clerk

Two men sat in a small room above Thassalonike’s council chamber. They were both anxious, but trying not to show it. Hiding their fears behind sips of unwatered wine and small-talk about the great families that dominated the city’s commercial life.

One of the men was the Mayor of Thessalonike. The other served as clerk to the City Council. Officially the Clerk was employed as a scribe to record the meetings and decisions of the Council. In practice this meant acquiring a great deal of knowledge about the city, and using this knowledge to help moderate disputes within the community.

What worried them today was not gangs in the streets, or feuds between oligarchs. They had been called to two awkward meetings already that day and knew that a third must take place before nightfall.

****************

They had been summoned to King Leofric’s palace at dawn. They were not taken to see the young King though, but were shown to a roof terrace where four figures waited for him. On one side of the terrace stood Iya Bagratuni, Queen Dowager and mother to King Leofric. She was flanked by the head of the Church within the Republic, her first cousin Patriarch Giorgi [Bagratuni]. The figure on her left was much younger, and no relation by blood. Anastasia Uffason was daughter of the late King Aethelwulf by his first marriage. She was now steward of the royal demesne and had married into the Bagratuni clan. These Georgian émigrés formed a powerful faction at court and clearly wished to remain in power.

“Dear Mayor, faithful Clerk” Queen Iya began. “I hardly need to tell you what dangerous times these are for the realm. The Emperor’s forces range across the countryside north of the City – your city – and our own brave soldiers can scarcely keep them away. I hate to think what would happen if those animals were to break through and capture the city. Why even your own homes.....” She paused to let them fill in their own images of families dead or in chains.

“And at this vital hour we have lost my poor husband, leaving my dear young Leofric to take his father’s place. Leofric needs loyal friends right now. Friends like you dear Mayor, and you faithful Clerk”. Queen Iya laid a hand on each of them, knowing that she had always been able to bend people to her will. Even King Aethelwulf (a most determined and canny man) had been unable to resist her. “However some of my son’s most important subjects do not seem completely loyal”.

At this point the fourth figure spoke. He spoke in Greek, but his heavy accent marked him out as a northerner. To many Thessalonikans all northern barbarians were much the same, but the City Council had to remain aware of the great figures at court, so both Mayor and Clerk knew him to be Prince Hvalimir of Rashka. He was the most powerful man in the Republic’s Serbian lands, and had been friends with the late King Aethelwulf since they were both children.

“Get to the point Iya”. The Queen Dowager bristled at the informal use of her name, but remained silent. “There are many who say we shouldn’t have a boy to rule at a time like this. The Senate should choose someone else. One of Aethelwulf’s brothers. Earl Saebert [of Lesbos] or Prince Ulf [of Dioclea]. Well I shit on the Senate and I shit on elections too. We can’t let some jumped up shopkeepers decide who rules. Where would it end? I’ll see Aethelwulf’s boy Leofric on the throne or I’m out of the Republic and I’ll take the whole of Serbia with me. You can tell that to Saebert and Ulf and see how they like it”.

“What Prince Hvalimir is trying to say” Queen Iya said “is that we would like you to speak to Prince Ulf and Earl Saebert and remind them of their duty to their nephew. Offer them anything reasonable, but see that they make the correct choice.... Prince Ulf’s residence is really quite near. Why don’t you go there now”. With this Queen Iya turned to speak to her stepdaughter and the Mayor and Clerk took the hint and left.

*********************

Prince Ulf’s palace in Thessalonike was as grand as King Leofric’s. He was 38 years old and very conscious of his status as a member of the royal family. This could be regarded as insecurity on his part. If so, it was very clear where it came from. His father (the late Prince Edward) had been head of the family. Prince Edward had two sons by his first marriage (Aethelwulf and Ulf), a bastard son (Saebert), and then three legitimate sons by his second marriage. When Prince Edward got a decree from the Patriarch legitimising Saebert, it pushed him above Ulf in the line of succession.

King Aethelwulf had tried hard to produce an heir. His dedication produced five daughters, yet only one son (Leofric). Children die. It is a fact of life for the rich and the poor. Sometimes plague, sometime accident, sometimes maladies that no doctor understands. From the day of Leofric’s birth the Uffasons were very conscious that should anything happen to him it would make the newly-legitimised Earl Saebert the heir to the throne. Those who wished to avoid this formed a clique around Prince Ulf, urging him to use any means necessary to take the throne if it looked like it would fall to Saebert. The Legitimists (as the clique were known) wished him to act now, pre-empting Leofric’s likely removal by the Senate.

The Mayor and the Clerk were greeted brusquely when finally ushered into Prince Ulf’s presence. “What do you two want? Not the harbour dues again? Can’t you see that without money there is no army, and with no army the city would be in ruins within the week.”

The Clerk replied “Your Grace, the City Council is well aware of the importance of the army, and the brave deeds that are being done on the eastern front to protect us. It is indeed a great patriotic war to defend the motherland against those barbarians. In fact we have come to you at the request of the Queen Dowager. She is worried that certain nobles might be plotting to take advantage of King Leofric’s youth, and might even use the Senate to depose him. She did not mention any names”

“That bastard son of a Serbian peasant I expect.” interrupted Prince Ulf. “Unless she meant me. You can never tell with that one. My sister in law is a slippery creature.”

The Clerk returned to the approach he had prepared. “The Queen Dowager thought that you might take some action to publically support King Leofric. If you were to speak in favour of the King then all would know you to be the loyal subject you are. The King might then want to appoint you as commander of the army in Macedonia. Commanding more than half of the Republic’s forces and being so near the capital would surely enable you to prevent anyone unworthy from taking the throne. It would also make you very popular with the Senate. They would surely remember this should King Leofric die without issue.”

This might seem like an invitation to replace King Leofric, but the Clerk knew his man well. The Legitimist faction were prepared to play rough to keep a bastard off the throne, but would not kill their King.

“Tell the Queen I would be honoured to take command in Macedonia. I will defend King Leofric from all his enemies, be they led by the Emperor or some bastard son of a Serbian whore”.

**********************

The Mayor and the Clerk should have been buoyed up by this success, but it just left them more apprehensive about their next meeting. So they sipped more wine and eventually set off from the council chambers down to the docks for their third meeting.

Earl Saebert was down at the docks overseeing the arrival of more of his armed retainers. In peaceful times the Mayor liked to see soldiers arriving. They spent money like water, and he owned a stake in several businesses which catered to their recreational needs. Now all he could see was trouble, unless Earl Saebert could be persuaded to leave peacefully and quickly.

The Mayor assumed a worried expression and ran across the dock. “My Lord. My Lord. I have urgent news of an alliance between the Queen Dowager, Prince Ulf and Prince Hvalimir.”

“What do you mean. Spit it out. Now.”

“My Lord, Prince Ulf is to be given command of the army in Macedonia this very night. He has promised to slay all the King’s enemies. He did not say who he meant, but I fear for your safety. Meanwhile Prince Hvalimir has promised to lead the Serbians against you should you take your rightful place.... Their forces will be too strong for you to repel with the men you have here.”

“Thank you master Mayor. We must act fast. I need to get away from Thessalonike and I need some sort of protection from my younger brother. Go to the Queen Dowager for me. Tell her how keen I am to affirm my allegiance to young Leofric. Tell her that I wish to serve as deputy commander to her brother [Marshal Badry Bagratuni] with the army of Thrace. Even Ulf won’t be able to touch me with half the Republic’s forces behind me. I might even earn some favour with the Senate by serving there.”

The Mayor and the Clerk hurried straight to the palace. Earl Saebert received King Leofric’s blessing to set off for the army of Thrace that night.

********************

The one man who did not come out of this well was Marshal Badry. He died very soon after Earl Saebert arrived as his deputy.

The sucession was still far from secure, but the reckoning had been postponed for a while at least.

The role of the Mayor and the Clerk in these events has vanished from history. It was ever thus for those who work behind the scenes.
 

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nicely done ... good to see you developing the theme of an oligarchic republican power structure interacting with a conventionaly medieval one. And at the least the war with the Turks is not yet lost?
 

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Very well written. Will be following!
 

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nicely done ... good to see you developing the theme of an oligarchic republican power structure interacting with a conventionaly medieval one. And at the least the war with the Turks is not yet lost?
Good comment. There is bound to be a struggle between those who have different conceptions of what the republic is: A monarchy under another name; an oligarchy; a Roman style republic with an short period of emergency dictatorial rule.....

The war is very much in the balance. The next post should settle this.

Who can resist some wonderful powerplaying? This sort of intrigue gives valuable insight on this lovely, complicated republic
I liked the idea doing something where the Mayor and the Clerk having to sell different ideas to different people. I also wanted something to show that there is life outside the aristocracy. Being an AAR that is following a single (noble) family I realised some of the other classes had disappeared from view a bit.

Very well written. Will be following!
Thank you for the compliment and thank you for reading.

Part 21 coming up.
 

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Part 21 – A fight for survival – King Leofric (1124)

A great many people were trying to decide the fate of the Republic, and of young King Leofric. All were now at least superficially loyal to him, but all were focused on building up their own power at the expense of the crown. While prepared to let King Leofric reign, none were keen to let him rule. They split into six broad factions:

1. The Bagratuni clan. Headed by Leofric’s mother this group were committed to keeping him on the throne, but only to preserve the family’s power.
2. The Legitimists. This faction included most of the Uffason family and were committed to keeping Earl Saebert [Uffason] of Lesbos off the throne. Leofric’s uncle [Prince Ulf of Dioclea] headed this faction as the Legitimists regarded him as Leofric’s true heir.
3. Earl Saebert’s men. These recognised the late King Aethelwulf’s legitimisation of his bastard son Saebert, and so regarded him as Leofric’s heir. These supporters came from a diverse range of backgrounds, but the uncharitable would say they we outcasts on the make.
4. The Serbs. Prince Hvalimir of Rashka led the Serbs out in support of King Leofric, but clearly expected to have both greater control over the whole of Serbia, and a significant influence at court.
5. The Greeks. The Greek magnates of Thessaly and the Peloponnese were waiting for the opportunity to regain their independence or to seize the throne.
6. The Republicans. These idealists wished to see open elections for the position of Senior Consul, and the abolition of the position of Dictator. Their support was mostly drawn from the merchant classes. Therefore although they were lacking in armed force, they had deep pockets.

King Leofric was young and untested in 1124. He has often been criticised by historians for lacking the dashing ruthlessness of his father [King Aethelwulf]. However, he was clearly bright, methodical, determined, and well able to keep his own counsel. He was the first Uffason to inherit the throne and he intended to keep it.


Leofric faced two main challenges - surviving the war with the Emperor, and gaining power over the six factions.

To some extent the war with the Emperor was out of his hands. His two armies were in the hands of Prince Ulf and Earl Saebert. These each led one of the factions and would obey Leofric’s orders only so long as he told them to act as the wished. The only way they would give up their commands was if the war ended and the soldiers went back to their homes. Neither Ulf nor Saebert could gain a decisive victory over the Emperor’s forces, so they continued with the bloody cycle of skirmish, manoeuvre, and raid. This continued to drain the manpower of both sides and laid waste to most of Thrace and Macedonia.

As Leofric could not achieve victory with his own armies he set about finding other armies to come to his aid. He set out from Thessalonike and toured the courts of other Christian Kings. Although they would never admit it all of these rulers were both jealous of Emperor Ilyas’ wealth and fearful of his power. He was hated by a great many men of substance. Few would dare face him alone, but many were considering trying to strip lands from his Empire while most of its forces are tied down fighting the Republic.

Leofric has four successes on his travels:
1. The King of Sicily joined the war in the hope of regaining the provinces of Apulia and Benevento. His forces were relatively weak, but could only be of benefit to the Republic.
2. The King of France declared war on the Empire. While wrapped in crusading language, this declaration had nothing to do with supporting the Republic, and everything to do with stopping the growth of Imperial power in France’s backyard – Iberia. No French forces travelled east to assist us, but their offensive did stop Imperial forces travelling from Iberia to Greece.
3. King Sobeslav of Bohemia and Hungary (known as Sobeslav the Magnificent) was the most powerful man in Christendom. His father (the late King Vojtek) had inherited the throne of Hungary and in doing so created a superpower within central Europe. Leofric had to humble himself before King Sobeslav, like a beggar craving alms. Who knows whether this appealed to King Sobleslav’s vanity or his generosity, but he did declare war on the Empire and an army was dispatched to the Balkans. Unfortunately, like many given to boastfulness, Sobeslav’s weapon was not as potent as he led others to expect, and the army achieved little more than raiding along the Danube.


What was the fourth success? Not an army, but a bride. Leofric knew he must struggle against the factions as well as his external enemies. A wife could give him an heir, and an heir would push Prince Ulf and Earl Saebert further down the line of succession. If they were further from the throne then the raison d’etre of their factions ceased to exist. It might take a while for their supporters to realise this, but it would happen. In particular, the Legitimists would come across and follow Leofric personally, giving him greater strength to counter the remaining factions.

Who was this bride? Princess Richza Premyslid of Bohemia-Hungary. Sister of King Sobeslav, daughter of the late King Vojtek. Of impeccable birth. Determined to be a queen, even if in Christendom’s borderlands. A little older than Leofric (21 to his 16).

Importantly she brought Leofric (and his potential heir) a useful form of insurance. Any faction who deposed either Leofric or the potential heir would set themselves against Bohemia-Hungary, the strongest state in Christendom. Even if Leofric and the potential heir were killed, King Sobeslav would probably invade and seize the crown to sooth his wounded honour.

What was the downside of this marriage? Leofric had humbled himself before King Sobeslav to ask for aid. Many (especially in Bohemia-Hungary) would interpret this as King Leofric having done homage to King Sobeslav. This would make the Republic a vassal of Bohemia-Hungary. He had also introduced another strong foreign element into court. The last foreign influx to court had been the Bagratunis (including Leofric’s mother). They had been refugees from Georgia, keen to adapt to Helleno-Varangian ways. The new Queen Richza was not. She planned in introduce Bohemian ways to court, and the marriage contract stated that any heir would be named and raised as a Bohemian. This had been a bitter pill for Leofric to swallow, but swallow it he did.


As 1124 ground on, Emperor Ilyas begins to accept that he is caught in a stalemate, but one that is being fought on his territory. This is hugely embarrassing as he started his war with the Republic confident of victory and eager for the glory that would result from it. His Iberian and Italian lands were now also being ravaged by the French and Sicilians. Added to this his vassals were beginning to get rebellious, tired of contributing forces to a war with no profit. Worst of all though, what is really worrying for him is that the Seljuks were very aware of his weakness and might declare war at any moment. He needed to secure peace before the Seljuks could intervene. Ideally peace through victory. If not, an honourable peace that would let him prepare for the next war.

King Leofric was desperate for peace, as were most of the influential figures within the Republic. They are drained by the war. They have lost sons, brothers, homes and gold. They were also scared that the Turks would attack and destroy the Republic, just as they had been instrumental at destroying the old Empire.

In late October envoys finally arrived from Emperor Ilyas suggesting peace. The Royal Council included representatives of all the main factions. All the factions were agreed that the offer should be accepted, so they drew up a decree to send back to the Emperor. This accepted Ilyas’ terms and would ensure the end of the war, restoring the status quo ante bellum.

Then something unexpected happened. When King Leofric was called upon to apply the Great Seal [as the Uffasons always sealed documents rather than signing them] to the peace decree he refused to do so. He not only refused, but he had the Patriarch threaten to anathematise anyone making peace with the Empire before King Leofric commanded it. This is interesting for three reasons:

1. It was the first time King Leofric managed to impose his will on the factions.
2. It was the first time the Uffasons had made use of the Church to buttress the power of the ruler.
3. It showed that Leofric was prepared to take a calculated risk that any further conflict would weaken the Empire more than the Republic.
Leofric’s terms were simple. Any peace must reflect not the frontiers before the war, but the land each party controlled now. This would represent a huge gain for the Republic and would rob the Emperor of all his European possessions.

The envoys were not happy about taking back these terms and Emperor Ilyas was not happy about receiving them. Ilyas introduced his new envoys to the widows of the previous set and send them off the King Leofric in Thessalonike, who set exactly the same terms as before.

Several sets of envoys later, Emperor Ilyas was becoming desperate. The Turks were beginning to muster and his forces were still tied down fighting the Republic. He finally offered to concede territory. The Republic could keep all of its gains except for the Emperor’s two demesne provinces in Thrace.

Through this peace treaty King Leofric gained five earldoms for his own demesne: The island of Rhodes; the Macedonian provinces of Philipolis, Strymon, and Naissus; and the Danubian province of Severin. He also gained many Greek converts to Islam as his vassals. These included the Emirs of Kherson, Macedonia, and Karvuna (including all their vassal sheiks), and four sheiks who had done homage directly to the Emperor. These conquests doubled the size of the Republic at a stroke.


This peace demobilised the armies controlled by Prince Ulf and Earl Saebert. It also gave King Leofric huge power of patronage as he gave out grants and honours from the newly won lands.

The war had left Leofric the most powerful man in the Republic. His position was far from secure, but he had become a power in his own right. A faction of his own.

 

loki100

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nice bit of high stakes diplomacy there ... do like the idea of encouraging your envoys to be persuasive by introducing them to the widows of the previous bunch. But the price is having given both the Church and the Hungarians ideas of having influence in the realm, this could get entertainingly messy
 

Alfredian

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Now retake the City of the World's Desire! Good to see Leofric shaping up to be a successful ruler.
I'm sure Leofric would love to, but I'm not sure the Seljuks would cooperate. We would need them to be distracted.

nice bit of high stakes diplomacy there ... do like the idea of encouraging your envoys to be persuasive by introducing them to the widows of the previous bunch. But the price is having given both the Church and the Hungarians ideas of having influence in the realm, this could get entertainingly messy
Eastern despots have always been good at finding inventive ways of motivating their underlings. There are a few modern footballers in the middle-east who have paid the price for not getting the desired result.

It genuinely was high stakes diplomacy. Normally I am quite in control in CK games, but this time it had got out of my hands. It really did look like the Turks would turn on either the Republic or the Empire.

***********************

I have decided that I like 1124, so lets have another section on that. This one lets me release my inner geek (even further) by playing with spreadsheets outside of working hours
 

Alfredian

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Part 22 – Aldwulfson’s peerage (1124)

Most of my noble readers will own a copy of Aldwulfson’s Peerage. Within its familiar red cover is listed the current holders of each noble title and most of the hereditary thegns. It gives a short biographical entry on each of them and provides their coat of arms, their family seat, and how the title has descended to them. Many of us have watched with trepidation as dearest Mama hunts through its pages in search of a suitable spouse for ourselves or a sibling. Many a household has been spared great embarrassment by checking the table of precedence (at the front of the volume) so that dinner guests are seated correctly by rank.

While this is the familiar image of the book, it should be remembered that it has only existed in this form since the invention of the printing press. The Aldwulfson’s began their family business long before this.

Edward Aldwulfson was born in Epirus in 1098. His blood was the normal Helleno-Varangian mixture of exiles (English and Rus) and Greek. He came to Earl Aethelwulf’s court in Epirus and went with him when he became first Prince of Wallachia and then Dictator of the new Roman Republic. Edward worked in the Dictator’s chancellery, drafting legal deeds and general proclamations, and then preparing the formal illuminated copies of the documents. His time at court saw an increasing formalisation of the hierarchy within the high nobility (princes, earls, etc), and their desire to clearly set out their place in that hierarchy.

Edward found himself approached to prepare documents charting particular family’s claims to nobility. As his knowledge of this grew he was increasingly approached, by people wanting to know their place in the order of precedence – e.g. were they higher or lower than their neighbours. These records were never mass-published (remember they had no printing press) but the Aldwulfson family retained all Edward’s old notes, and my father was able to obtain copies of these for his researches.

The order of precedence

It was only with the foundation of the Republic that a formal order of precedence was established amongst the high nobility. This considered three main factors:

1. The type of title held. In order of precedence they were: First the Dictator/King. Second the princes/dukes/archbishops. Third the earls/counts/bishops. Fourth any Muslim Emirs. Fifth any Muslim Sheiks. If two nobles hold a title of the same level then they refer to
2. The way the title was given. The most prestigious way is to have received a grant of land from the royal demesne to endow the title. The next level down is to have had been regranted an existing title by the Crown when vassalised. This normally applies to those defeated in war by the Crown. The least prestigious titles are those awarded by a Prince/Duke (rather than the crown). If two nobles hold a title of the same level AND it was given in the same way then they refer to:
3. When the title was given. This is the year the title was recognised by the Crown. Therefore vassalised nobles are only deemed to have held their title from the time they were vassalised, not when they originally claimed it.
These rules may seem a little formal, but issues of precedence at great events have often led to bloodshed between the retainers of great lords in the past. Having a system like this minimised the conflict involved.


Here we can see the order of precedence from young King Leofric down to the recently vassalised sheiks. We can see that in 1124 there were three main ways that peerages had started:

1. Grants made by the crown to children of the head of the Uffason family
2. Nobles who had been vassalised in war
3. Princes granting earl/count titles to their brothers and children.

We can also see that most of the nobles were the first to hold their title (in its current form). This is a reflection of the newness of the Republic at this point.


We can also see that Greek culture is still strong amongst the high nobility, despite the destruction caused by the Arab/Turkish takeover of the old Greek empire. In large part this in down to a conscious effort by the Uffason rulers to leave the Old Greek nobility in place. It took severe provocation to make the Uffasons strip a noble of his lands. Even those Greeks who had turned apostate under Arab rule generally had their titles preserved.


This graph excludes the provinces of the royal demesne as these were not 100% loyal to King Leofric. We can see that followers of the Greek faction outnumber all the other factions. The Greek faction agreed that the throne should be held by someone from one of the Old Greek families, but each thought it should be their own family. Rather unsurprisingly they never cooperated effectively. In practice many leant tacit support to the Legitimist or Saebertist factions within the Uffason family.

By contrast the Uffasons could all agree that their family should keep the throne and (as long as King Leofric stayed alive) were prepared to work together. Between them they controlled 44% of the provinces within the Republic. This gave them a force that no one else could challenge.


The other factor to note here is that 20% of the Republic was controlled by Muslim vassals of Greek or Bulgarian descent. These families had changed religion to gain the Emperor’s favour when he ruled them, and there was every chance that they would convert back to Christianity now they had a Christian overlord.

The order of precedence worked to encourage this. To take the example of Nikodemos Emir of Kherson, converting to Christianity would see him dubbed a Prince. He would leap from 30th in the order of precedence to 8th. Those earls who had spat at him would become his inferiors, speaking only after him, served only after him, seated further away than him from the King. A powerful incentive in a status conscious world.
 

mayorqw

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When is this 'book' (AAR) being made? The reference to modern-day nobility and arranged marriages makes me ask the question.
And its good to see that the Varangians keep their nobility (and who exactly is a noble) in line in true scandinavian fashion: clean, ordered spreadsheets :D
 

loki100

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well that is impressive - I thought I was bad with such things but I do reckon this is the first deployment of a spreadsheet in CK AAR. And very informative as to how well balanced (ie precarious) the realm is
 

Eldridge

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A very good AAR. I look forward to seeing the Uffason banner above the gates of Constantinople!