• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Alfredian

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We need the Constitutionalists to get some muscle and create a true Roman Republic!
On principle I think you are right. However, there would need to be a way of keeping the competition for power in check (something the original Roman Republic eventually failed at). This one of the main arguments for constitutional monarchy, that it contains the struggle for power by taking the top job out of play.

Great update. I like how you always strive to flesh out society at different times.
A very believeable update on the social composition of the Republic.
nce update, as with mayorqw I really appreciate the effort you put into fleshing out the background and on wider social issues
Thank you. It is something I enjoy thinking about. It makes a fictional world a little more plausible and a bit easier to write about.

I have a feeling that Slavek is going to turn out to be solidly Royalist at the very least. Either that or argue that the state is in perpetual emergency and therefore needs a permanent dictator.
I think you are spot-on about Slavek's inclinations. We will hear about this in the next proper update.

Took me a couple of hours, but I've caught up with this. Subscribed!
Thank you for reading. I think this is already around 32,000 words, so well done for persevering.

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

I am still working on the next proper update, but here is a list of rulers to make the text a little easier to read.
 
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Alfredian

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Heads of the Uffason family 1066-1182

King Slavek the Proud
Born 1129 Thessalonike
Reigned 1182 -
Son of:

King Leofric the Saint
Born 1108 Thessalonike
Reigned 1124 - 1182
Son of:

King Aethelwulf (founder of the Republic)
Born 1085 Epirus
Reigned 1108 - 1124 (gained Royal title in 1115)
Son of:

Prince Edward
Born 1068 Epirus
Reigned 1085 - 1108
Son of:

Prince Cerdic
Born 1045 Berkshire
Reigned 1066 - 1085 (gained Princely title in 1078)
Son of:

Uffa Aethelwulfson
A Berkshire Thegn (killed at Hstings)
Son of:

Aethelwulf Eadgarson
A Berkshire Thegn
 
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Alfredian

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Also in the excitement of the AARland Choice AwAARds I forgot to mention that this AAR has now passed its first birthday, so

Happy Birthday Uffasons

And thank you all for reading.
 

Dewirix

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So far we've followed the pattern of the odd generations going up a rank (count -> prince -> king) and the even generations consolidating and laying the foundations for the next. Slavek's an odd generation - the fifth - so it's Emperor or bust.
 

Alfredian

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Anyone else notice that none of them had kids until they took over?
Good observation. I hadn't noticed that.

So far we've followed the pattern of the odd generations going up a rank (count -> prince -> king) and the even generations consolidating and laying the foundations for the next. Slavek's an odd generation - the fifth - so it's Emperor or bust.
I think Slavek would like that Emperor title, but would the Senators like him to have it and what could they do about it?

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

Part 27 comning up
 

Alfredian

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Part 27 – King Slavek the Proud

King Slavek was 32 when he inherited his father’s Royal titles (King of Serbia and Bulgaria) and was elevated to become Dictator (for life) of the Roman Republic. He was the first of the Uffasons to be born the son of a king, and had a royal mother as well (Princess Richza of Bohemia-Hungary). His mother had died when he was only one year old, so all Slavek had from her was his name and a cold empty place where a mother’s love should have been. He filled this place with a pride in his royal blood, and a desire to be treated with the dignity he felt his birth deserved.

This desire for respect was hindered by a lack of personal bravery. He was no weakling, but when pressed into combat he was overwhelmed by his fears. His hesitation meant he could not effectively lead men in the way a man of his class was supposed to. This was even worse when set against the martial talents of his half-brother Earl Albert of Chortitza. They had never been close, but the way Albert’s achievements in the Byzantine War of 1157 eclipsed Slavek’s own was simply too much. They became bitter rivals.

King Slavek did have his good qualities though. He was eloquent, and (in 16 years as Earl of Epirus) had proved himself to be an honest and energetic ruler. He may have been accused of having a lust for power, but it was acknowledged that his sin was a prideful search for recognition, not greed for money or land in itself.


When Queen Richza died King Leofric stripped the Bohemian influence from the Royal court, so Slavek was raised within the Helleno-Varangian tradition. However he found himself instinctively looking West, not East. He wanted recognition from the other kings of Christendom, and felt he could only gain this by gaining power in the West. In particular in Italy, Germany and Bohemia-Hungary.

He maintained a close interest in Germany throughout his reign and we can see three key steps he took to expand his influence there:

1. In 1162 Slavek accepted the homage of his cousin Ludwig Duke of Austria (son of Slavek’s aunt Ealdgyth). This shifted Austria’s de facto independence within Germany, to de jure submission to the Roman Republic. Nevertheless, it was not a bad deal for the Duke, as nobles within the Republic rarely lost their land. This was very different to the land-grabbing habits of the German Monarchy.

2. In 1163, when his first wife (Queen Zinaida) died Slavek chose a German bride. Adelheid von Babenberg was the daughter of Hugo Duke of Bavaria, who was the heir to the German throne. This started a strong personal bond between Slavek and the German royal family.

3. In 1165 Duke Hugo inherited the German throne, and sealed a formal alliance with the Republic. It saw Slavek intervening repeatedly to help his father-in-law put down rebellious vassals.


The Kings of Croatia had taken an active part in the crusade to free Jerusalem. When the fighting stopped it was they who were left in control of the Holy City itself. In an act of piety they handed temporal control of Jerusalem over to the City’s new Catholic bishop. The Kings of Germany had also campaigned in the Holy Land and one of their vassals ended up as the Bishop of Jerusalem’s neighbour. In 1165, a minor dispute over water rights saw the Bishop of Jerusalem and his German neighbour argue, and then turn to arms to settle their dispute. King Hugo of Germany and King Petar of Croatia met to settle the dispute, but instead of setting peace terms they made matters worse and took their kingdoms to war.

This turned out to be a very bad decision for King Petar. Slavek might have acted honourably in coming to the aid of his Germany ally, but then turned to the sort of trick his grandfather – Prince Aethelwulf – would have played. The Chancellor of the Republic unearthed documents ‘confirming’ Croatia’s status as a part of the old Roman Empire. A part that had been granted short-term autonomy, but never acknowledged as an independent state. In its role as successor to the Empire, the Roman Republic would be obliged to annex Croatia and King Slavek enthusiastically set about enforcing this claim.

When I say that Slavek enforced the claim, I should have said that Slavek ordered key vassals to enforce the claim for him. So Duke Ludwig of Austria invaded from the north, Milos Prince of Rashka from the south, and Earl Albert (Slavek’s brother) invaded Croatia’s Black Sea possessions. Slavek himself remained in Venice, ‘focusing on grand strategy’.

These three armies took the Kingdom of Croatia apart, forcing the individual dukes to accept vassalisation, and hunting down King Petar himself. Much to Slavek’s disgust it was Earl Albert that defeated and captured King Petar, covering himself in glory once more. King Petar was forced to hand over his crown to Slavek and became simply Duke Petar of Dalmatia. He was no longer a king, but retained a demesne of eight provinces and many vassals. Within the Republic only King Slavek had more power.


We have now seen Earl Albert outstrip his half-brother in the Byzantine War of 1157 and the Croatian War of 1165. However at this point the dislike was all one way. Albert saw his half-brother as rather cold, but still sent his children to be fostered at court. In 1166 Albert visited court and found his son and heir doing tasks which he considered demeaning and a blazing row ensued between himself and King Slavek. Bloodshed was only avoided by the Patriarch physically intervening and making them both swear peace.

The feud was held roughly in check by this oath until 1172, when Earl Albert found out that his 17 year old daughter Aethelswyth had been seduced by King Slavek (her uncle) and was living as his mistress at court. Albert had her kidnapped from court and married swiftly to a thegn within his own earldom. It was only strong opposition from the Senate that prevented Slavek from sending an army to reclaim Aethelswyth from her father.

Slavek did not normally listen to the Senate, but even the most ardent members of the Royalist Faction felt that using an army against ones brother to take ones niece back as mistress was simply unacceptable.

This was the only occasion during his rule when the Senate really stood up to King Slavek. Generally he followed a policy of marginalising them. He asked for no legislation. He asked for no extra taxes. He summoned them no more often than he was obliged (Michaelmas and Easter each year) and then used his supporters to prevent any substantive discussion taking place. A favourite trick was asking the Senate to assemble in a building that was too small, so his opponents could not fit in and were left outside in the cold.

Slavek might not have been an absolute monarch, but he was able to rule undisturbed within the letter (though not the spirit) of the constitution.
 

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again, brilliantly developed and very plausible. Rather worrying though that Slavek might lean to the West but seems to have adopted the sexual mores of the racier Byzantine emperors - a definite echo of the 'Secret History' in there
 

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Just read through the whole thing. Hopefully, there will be more updates soon. You inspired me to start my own CK game. Great stuff!
 

Alfredian

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again, brilliantly developed and very plausible. Rather worrying though that Slavek might lean to the West but seems to have adopted the sexual mores of the racier Byzantine emperors - a definite echo of the 'Secret History' in there
Even I thought he had gone a bit far with the whole 'niece-as-mistress" thing. This is one of the great things about CK though. You can take a series of three or four individual events and really work out the story that explains them.

Just read through the whole thing. Hopefully, there will be more updates soon. You inspired me to start my own CK game. Great stuff!
Thank you for reading and for your kind comments. The next update is probably going to be after Christmas now. My wife and I decided to do a big family history project as a Christmas present for my father-in-law and it has taken monstrous amounts of time. I am now writing it up and trying to add maps, etc. We have found out lots of interesting stuff (e.g. where different parts of the family were from before coming to Victorian London), so hopefully it will go down well.
 

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How do you find out these things? Are there detailed archives in some government facility or something?
 

Alfredian

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How do you find out these things? Are there detailed archives in some government facility or something?
If you are UK based there are a lot of good resources, in particular detailed census records (from 1841) and registers of births marriages and deaths (from 1837). These are both easily available online. Before this you can get useful information through parish records (although this is harder to access).

There are definitely advantages to living in a country that has basically had domestic peace for 450 years. It is a lot tougher if you want to research less peaceful countries.
 

Alfredian

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Part 28 – Slavek’s search for recognition

By 1169 Slavek had significantly improved the Republic’s north-east frontier. He had conquered the Kingdom of Croatia, tamed the Kingdom of Germany through marriage, and brought the Duchy of Austria fully into the Republic.

He then began to focus on the Republic’s position in Italy itself. Firstly this consisted in moving the capital to Venice. He expanded the building programme started by his father (King Leofric) and began spending less and less of his time in Thessalonike. This combination of building and royal glamour had a big impact on the population of Venice, inducing many to convert from Catholicism to Orthodoxy. By 1169 a majority of the Venetian populace were worshipping in Orthodox churches. It is probably no surprise that the Venetians were more receptive to conversion than the other Italians. Through their trading links with Greece, many had spent a long time living in close proximity with Orthodox believers.

The conversion of Venice made the journey west slightly more palatable for Greeks attending Senate sessions, but they still had no real interest in Italy. They were focused on the east and the (still substantial) threat from the Sultan of the Seljuk Turks and the Arab Emperor (who by this time was normally referred to as the Emperor of Rûm). The 1160s had seen Sultan Allahyar and Emperor Talib fighting a bloody war for control of Syria and Anatolia. This had finally finished in humiliation for the Emperor in 1168, when he had to hand over four provinces and his ancestral title (Emir of Edessa) to buy peace. Sultan Allahyar built on this success with an expedition to southern Italy that once more establish the Turks as a power there.

Suddenly the interests of the Senate and King Slavek were aligned and preparations began for an offensive war to drive the Sultan’s forces out of Italy. The winter of 1168 was spent getting forces into position for campaigns in Italy, the Caucasus, and Syria itself. At the start of 1169 the Republic’s forces struck and quickly overwhelmed the Turks. The Sultan had been very successful in the 1160s, but that success had come at a high price. The forces that opposed the Republic were small and disorganised – old men and boys.

By Easter 1169 the Republic controlled all of the Sultan’s territories in Italy, the Caucasus, and Syria. King Slavek began sending out envoys to negotiate peace before the Sultan could bring forth any hordes from the depths of Asia. This may seem a silly worry, considering the ease with which the war had been won so far, but we should think about how the depths of Asia were then perceived in the popular imagination. Greek tales were full of limitless Asian hordes. Some of these had been stopped (like Darius’ Persians), while others (like the Sultan’s Turks) had overwhelmed Greek civilisation. One thing seemed sure – there was always potential for another horde to arrive, and no one knew when this might be, or who would summon it up.

A second certainty was that no one within the Republic wanted to march off into the depths of Persia to try and force a peace. All manner of historic Greek and Roman armies had tried and failed at this, and a lot of men had failed to return. King Slavek’s peace terms were therefore relatively lenient. The Sultan was to give up his two Italian provinces (Taranto and Benevento) and confine his future activities to Asia.

When the Sultan agreed to this King Slavek expected to be hailed as a hero, defending Christendom from the Muslims, but this was not the case. Once more his failure to lead his armies in person caused whispers about his cowardice, which was compared unfavourably with Prince Stylianos of Kherson’s bravery. Stylianos had led the campaign in the Caucasus, as Earl Albert was still refusing to have anything to do with King Slavek.


It was this recurring charge of cowardice that helped to destroy Slavek’s foreign policy towards Germany. In 1172 Duke Ljubomir of Dalmatia (head of the former Croatian royal family) fell into a border dispute with King Hugo of Germany (Slavek’s father-in-law). This is very similar to what had happened to trigger the Croatian war of 1165. Same families, same type of dispute, same intransigence. The ironic twist was that in 1165 King Slavek helped Germany to defeat Croatia, now he was the Croatians overlord, charged with protecting them from his own German allies.

Sporadic fighting started in the disputed borderlands and rumours began to circulate of a large German army on the march. King Slavek was still searching for a way to bring about peace, but the talk in the Republic was that he was afraid to fight, as this time Venice would be on the frontline. This culminated with Earl Albert calling Slavek a coward publically on the Senate floor. Slavek vowed that he would lead the Republic to war in person, and runners were sent straight from the Senate chamber to rouse the Venetian militia. Ships set sail the same day to call for reinforcements from the Republic’s Adriatic and Italian provinces.

King Slavek proved to be a rather plodding commander. A far better politician than general. Nevertheless he led his army without disasters, winning three battles and taking part in (a limited amount of) combat himself. Luckily Germany was coming out of ten years of civil war and King Hugo did not devote all of his resources to the war. Peace came as soon as Slavek felt he had ‘won his spurs’ and could return to Venice. As part of the peace deal King Hugo handed over the province of Tirol, leading to a brief fashion for Tyrolean folk dances at court.


1174 saw the King of Bohemia-Hungary strike a major blow against the Islamic presence in Europe by driving the Kingdom of Hammadid out of Southern France. This was a major undertaking, as the King of Hammadid held ten whole provinces there, and had successfully withstood the wrath of neighbouring Christian rulers for many years.

King Slavek had no wish to be outdone, so in 1176 commissioned Prince Stylianos of Kherson to lead an expedition into the Caucasus to free the remaining Orthodox Georgians from Muslim rule. Preserving this kernel of Orthodoxy in Asia would surely bring Slavek some credit.

As ever, King Slavek’s hopes of recognition were thwarted. By the time the expedition had landed in the Caucasus, King Slavek himself was dead. His health had been bad since coming down with the great fever that swept the Court in 1169, and he died in his bed at the age of 45.

Slavek’s reign had been relatively short (1162 to 1176), yet quite eventful. He did not live long enough to achieve his dreams of ruling all of Italy, but he had established the Republic as one of the four main powers in the Italian Peninsular. The others were the Kingdom of Burgundy (strong in the north), the Kingdom of Poland (who had crusaded successfully in the south) and the Papal States (in central Italy and Sicily).

He had been very successful in raising the profile of the Republic within Christendom. Instead of being a peripheral state, it now had a noticeable presence in the heart of Europe (Germany and Italy). Importantly, the Uffasons were also coming to be regarded amongst the established royal houses of Europe. Slavek’s second marriage had made him the son-in-law of King Hugo of Germany, while he had married his heir (Prince Alexandros) to Princess Marthe, sister of the Capetian King of France.

Slavek has not been well regarded in popular memory, which has portrayed him as cowardly or proud, yet we have to ask if his sins were worse than those of any ordinary man? Is it just that we judge a leader more harshly than we would have ourselves judged?
 

Alfredian

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Hope you all had a good Christmas and new year. I have had great time but am now back at work. The positive side of being back is that I am near a computer and should be able to catch up on my favourite AARs.

Speaking of favourite AARs, it is time to vote in the AARland Choice AwAARds. By my way of thinking this is the big one, your final chance to vote for writing from 2011 and therefore the top AARs for the year.

It is also especially big, as this is the last round of voting before CKII is released, and CKII AARs sweep the AwAARds thereafter.

So, please vote as widely as you can, but in particular please vote for this AAR. Your vote really can change the way each of these awards go.