Chris Taylor

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Byzantine Empire and fun are not two things that I associate together

Heh. I don't much enjoy the endless incremental wars that are required to reconstitute it—especially if ends up distracting one from other goals (colonisation, etc).

But I think Salik's got the right approach in tackling it near the end-game. By then you should have a tech advantage on the Ottomans and it will be much less of a manpower sinkhole than trying to take them on in the early game.
 

King_Richard_XI

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Byzantine Empire and fun are not two things that I associate together
Heh. I don't much enjoy the endless incremental wars that are required to reconstitute it—especially if ends up distracting one from other goals (colonisation, etc).
I have a fun game going as them, actually. Managed to convert loads of my neighbours to Orthodoxy while annexing the Mamluks and selling their islands to Swahili.

But that's another story.
 

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Factbox: Freeing the Peasant
Gyldenstjerne.png


Coat of arms of the House of Gyldenstierne
A key assumption in the 17th century had been that the wealth of a nation was founded on the amount of precious metals it could amass. The kings of Europe had colonized the New World in search of gold, and the Inca and Aztec peoples had been brutally slaughtered in this quest. But in the early 18th century, this idea was challenged by a school that has been called the Physiocrats. This school claimed, that the agricultural production was the real source of wealth. Gold and silver only had a value because it could be exchanged for goods, which were all ultimately produced by agriculture, fishing, forestry, mining and, especially in Vinland and Markland, trapping. In Denmark, agriculture occupied the majority of the population. When the first nationwide census was made in 1750, it was found that 75% of the population lived on the countryside, and it is safe to assume, that this figure was not all that different from the situation during the reign of Margrethe II and the council.
Most of the people living in the country had been living under the institution of Vornedskab, which was invented after the Black Death in the 14th century. The Vornedskab forced people to stay on the land of the manor where they were born, and allowed the landlords to assign their subjects to farms on the manor. These farms were rented by peasants, who paid rent by giving a part of their harvest and further through the corvée-system of Hoveri. Hoveri was the obligation of farmers to pay rent on their farms by working for the landlord for free. With the shortage of people after the Black Death, the peasants had had the upper hand for a short time, and many had been able to buy their own farms, thus getting out of Hoveri. By forcing people to stay on the land and to accept the manor farms, the nobility were ensured a steady supply of labour.

landboreform.jpg

Satirical depiction of the relationship between farmers and nobility. The farmer on the left is lifting the nobleman with his hard work. Meanwhile the many commissions and committees are fiddling away time, and no substantial change takes place.

The Vornedskab was hated by the peasants, and it had been debated for centuries whether it should be lifted. One of the sources for the animosity between Christian II and the nobility which led to his deposition (see Factbox: Rosekrantz and Gyldenstierne) was his attempt to lift the Vornedskab.
In 1689, Frederik IV had finally succeeded in bringing an end to the Vornedskab. This had led to a large shift, as people left their farms to seek employment in town or a new life in the colonies. The agricultural production suffered, and the nobility were furious.

The lifting of the Vornedskab was part of a process of extending rights to the broader population, but while it had freed the farmers from a serious injustice, it had not addressed the fundamental problem, namely that the farmers living on manor farms had neither time nor incentive to improve their farms. With the hard work they had to do for their landlords, many farmers, even on good farms, could only just survive. So even if they were free to leave their homes, they were not free to lead a good life as farmers.

As the ideas of the physiocrats started to gain support in Copenhagen, the declining agricultural production became a concern. A commission under the leadership of Jørgen Gjedde, who we will deal with in greater detail later on, was charged with reforming the agricultural sector, and in 1712, several of its main suggestions were implemented. Since all the land was theoretically owned by the crown, it was also possible for the crown to redistribute the land. The farmers were given ownership of their farms, and the rent was changed to a tax paid to the landlord as a fixed percentage of the harvest. The Hoveri was also kept, but in a very limited version. Each farm was required to send one grown man one day of the week. This way, the farmers were free to improve their own farms, and the productivity spiked. When the farmers owned their farms, they had a strong incentive to stay where they were, and were able to prosper.

The bleak side of the reforms, however, was that those farmers who only had small farms with bad land were even worse off than before. When the commons were enclosed and distributed among the wealthier farmers, and the woods were taken over by the nobility for hunting, these poorer farmers, the husmænd (literally house men, as opposed to the richer gårdmænd, farm men), had nowhere to let their animals forage, and as a consequence, they could only rely on their harvest for food. Many of these people had the choice between working for richer farmers or starvation. The liberation of the peasant had created a rural proletariat, containing almost half the population. For those people, life after the reforms was hard, poor and short, and their smoldering contempt for the richer classes grew by the day.
 

King_Richard_XI

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Ignore the peasant rabble!
 

Milites

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Bah, reforms for the peasantry? Give them a few days on the træhest and they'll hopefully be docile enough to give up their pseudo Communist ideals of 'equality'.
 

Salik

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New world looks promising surely?

I don't think much has changed since this http://forum.paradoxplaza.com/forum/showthread.php?397502-Gesta-Danorum-Deeds-of-the-Danes&p=11843976#post11843976

They can't go to the colonies for a better life?

Surely... What I was trying to convey was, that they were not free to pursue a decent life where they were born :)

Ignore the peasant rabble!

That's exactly what Margrethe is going to do. After all, production went up, what's not to like?

Bah, reforms for the peasantry? Give them a few days on the træhest and they'll hopefully be docile enough to give up their pseudo Communist ideals of 'equality'.

Bah, I thouht you had more compassion than that? Have you never asked yourself why Jeppe drinks?
 

Montague

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Sounds to me like an increase to the pay of the professional soldier and/or sailor might just help to relieve the problem AND provide for a better, more disciplined force both on land and at sea. It may reduce the national tax income 10% or so, but the rewards to stability and force projection should easily make up for this.
 

Salik

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Ah, economic dislocation...never good for stability but it can be good for the whole

In this case, it's very good for the whole (what I'm trying to depict here is the NI Smithian Economics, giving +20% production efficiency. OTL, similar reforms were inspired in part by The Wealth of Nations)

Sounds to me like an increase to the pay of the professional soldier and/or sailor might just help to relieve the problem AND provide for a better, more disciplined force both on land and at sea. It may reduce the national tax income 10% or so, but the rewards to stability and force projection should easily make up for this.

Interestingly, in OTL the very shortlived abolition of Vornedskab was followed by the equally oppressive Stavnsbånd in order to keep a rural population that could be concscripted to the army. It was one of the nobility's favorite sanctions against unruly serfs.
 

Salik

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Okay, I took another break from this. I still have the notes lying right there on my desk, but somehow I'm getting stuck writing the next instalment. I have a pretty clear idea about how this is going to evolve from now until the end, but I can't make any promises about when a new update will be ready. I'm going to need a period with no other obligations to get this started again, which probably won't happen before early August. So here's hoping I'll have an update for you by then. It should be good.
 

Chris Taylor

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Yay! Glad to hear this AAR will be back in action soon.
 

Milites

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I'll be hoping you break the curse of writer's block.
 

Salik

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Thank you, Urza. In recognition of this honour, and partly inspired by recent, horrible events, I took time off to write the following chapter this morning. I have always felt very much at home in Norway, probably because it reminds me of Greenland, my father's native country, and I have tried to convey a little bit of that in this chapter without compromising the unfolding of events.

I hope it will be worthy of the award.
 

Salik

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Chapter XLVIII: Norway in their hearts
Gyldenstjerne.png


Coat of arms of the House of Gyldenstierne

Margrethe Gyldenstierne, the daughter of Frederik IV and Margrethe of Great Britain, sister of Frederik V, was married to the Count Palatine of the Rhine at age 19, in order to secure the count’s support in case of war against Habsburg Austria (Chapter XLVI: Of Kings, Queens And Countesses). At 45, count Johann I was more than twice her age, and also quite uninterested in most other things than his collection of chinaware. The transition from cornucopian courtly life of the First Imperial Era Copenhagen to the rather bland court in Dresden was not easy for a young woman used to luxury. In Copenhagen, Margrethe had access to some of the greatest minds of her time, including Thyge Brahe, the naturalist, and the young philosopher J.H. Wessel, who were her tutors. Wessel’s proto-Enlightenment philosophy and Brahe’s early work on gravitation, which will be dealt with in greater detail elsewhere, deeply influenced the intelligent young lady. In Dresden, however, she was confined to the company of local ladies in waiting, who she found to be almost as unbearably dim as the noblemen who flocked the court looking for a handout. With her husband preoccupied with his collection, and her considerable personal wealth from private estates on the Baltic, she soon found a way to influence these noblemen, and in consequence the entire machinery of government. To the great resentment of her brothers in law, she became the de facto ruler of the state, which she tried to run according to the principles of Wessel.

This lonely, if powerful, stay in Central Europe only lasted five years, before Johann succumbed to pneumonia and, dying during his third childless marriage, was replaced by his brother Ernst. The new Count was not interested in having his brother’s widow stay at court, so Margrethe was sent back to Copenhagen, to the apparent relief of everyone involved. In Copenhagen, her mother and the regency council started drawing up plans for another marriage, but Margrethe had her eyes set on a young Danish nobleman, Jørgen Gjedde, who on her return was head of the Agricultural Commission that brought about the reforms of 1712 (see Factbox: Freeing the Peasant). Jørgen Gjedde, who was a rising star in the administration, was the nephew of Ove Gjedde, the disgraced general of the siege of Dresden in 1696. He had come to Copenhagen as a courtier in the early 1700’s, and had risen quickly through the ranks with the support of Franz Scholten, the spymaster. He was admitted to the Statskancelli in 1710, and, as described elsewhere, was put in charge of the Agricultural Commission. Like Margrethe, he was influenced by the early philosophers of the Enlightenment, and this common interest sparked a close relationship between the princess who came from Dresden starved of male attention and intelligent conversation, and the extremely bright and ambitious nobleman. The dowager queen, and especially Harald Danneskiold, did not approve of the connection, and in 1714, Jørgen Gjedde was sent to Norway as Statholder. This position was theoretically one of the highest within the administration, as the statholder exercised the king’s power, but with the increased centralization of the state, it had become much less powerful during the reign of Frederik IV. In the Imperial Era, the state revolved around the king or, in the case of Frederik V, the people reigning in his place. To be stuck in Oslo enforcing ordnances that were given hundreds of miles away at the steadily expanding Sorgenfri Castle was a major step back in the career of Jørgen Gjedde.

Margrethe’s reaction to this was more mature than would have been expected of her. On the surface, she played the role of obedient daughter, although she managed to avoid any further marriages on account of the incompatibility of her strict adherence to the one true church with the heretic beliefs of the Catholic, Reformed and Protestant princes that were suggested. But right under her mother’s nose, she was preparing the downfall of the regency council. With her experience of manipulating the court in Dresden, she started using her charm and wit to gain the lower echelons of the administration for her. Harald Danneskiold, her mother and Franz Scholten, who she despised above everyone else, were steadily losing the loyalty of the court, though they probably did not realize it at first.

Meanwhile, she also started travelling on prolonged journeys to the royal estates in Norway, especially those in the Akershus area. Although these travels were probably somewhat connected to the residence of the statholder at Christiansborg Castle in Oslo, it is clear from her letters and diary, that she developed a deep admiration for the Norwegian landscape with its fjords and mountains. She describes the feeling of waking early in the morning and seeing the morning light of October gracing the mist on the fjords. The smell of the fragrant bushes underfoot when walking in the mountains, and seeing the northern lights for the first time when traveling to the northern town of Tromsø. Accompanying her on travels along the coast to Stavanger, Bergen, Trondheim and further north was Jørgen Gjedde, who had numerous important administrative duties around the country. These tours were held in great luxury and with lavish festivities wherever they stayed. In fact, the statholder and dowager countess travelled so much in royal fashion that they were unofficially known as the king and queen of Norway.

Hurtigruten.jpg

The fjords of Norway fascinated Margrethe on her prolonged stays in the country.
This one, an arm of the Hardangerfjord, is named Margrethefjord for her.

At the court in Copenhagen, Harald Danneskiold started to suspect foul play, and, rather than see his power erode and spill like sand between his fingers, he decided to get Margrethe as far away from Sorgenfri as possible for a long period. During long talks with the queen, he planted the idea that a statholder might not be the worst match for a princess who had been married once and was approaching 30. Furthermore, since Frederik V was very unlikely to sire an heir, a son of Margrethe would be heir apparent to the throne, and as such, the dynasty would be better off if he was raised within the realm, and by parents who both belonged to the Church of Denmark. So in 1719, Margrethe Gyldenstierne and Jørgen Gjedde were married in an unusually quiet ceremony in the chapel at Sorgenfri, were they stayed for a few weeks before returning to their second homeland of Norway. With Margrethe permanently away from court, Harald Danneskiold and Franz Scholten had bought themselves time, but the wheels of history were turning steadily, and as ever before, young people were standing by to replace the old and tired
 
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Qorten

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Glad to see you back in business, Salik! I missed this. It was an excellent update. I'm set for a last century of the Gyldenstierne chronicles.