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Duke Valentino
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armshv0.png

base image borrowed from wikipedia


This is another WATK AAR, and this time I'm actually playing it as I'm writing it (more or less). I'll be playing as France, but I expect to take the country in a slightly different direction from the norm--probably with a splash of save-file editing--so maybe it won't be so boring. Settings are Normal/Normal, autosave yearly (as usual for me, since I'm not exactly a maestro).
 

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Chapter the First

Being on the Rallying of the French in the Hundred Years War


In 1419 the Kingdom of France was a divided land, divided between the royal domain of the king and the fiefs of those dukes loyal to him (being Orleans, Auvergne, Bourbon, Provence, and Armagnac), and the domain of the English King Henry V and territories of those dukes that supported his claim to the French throne (being Burgundy and Bretagne). War had raged intermittently between the French and English factions since 1337, and though the conflict had waxed and waned it now leaned decisively towards an English victory.

At the battle of Agincourt Henry V had destroyed the flower of the French army, and he and his allies substantially outnumbered the French. The advisors to Charles VI, who was often incapacitated by a congenital madness, determined that to continue the war as it had been fought, by direct assault against the English, would be suicidal. Rather, the French armies would avoid the English and concentrate their efforts against the Duchy of Burgundy. Burgundy was more-or-less composed of two separate halves, one centering on the traditional duchy of Burgundy and the other around Philip the Good's inherited demesne in Flanders. The main French army left Paris defended by the castle garrison and marched through Champagne to Picardie, where Burgundian forces were few and sieges could be commenced.

Meanwhile, the Duke of Bedford, having taken over the command of the English armies in France, marched on Anjou and Orleans, and English forces in Gascogne moved to reinforce them. The French armies of the Languedoc lingered in Lyon to take on new recruits. By the summer of 1419, the seiges in the Flanders countryside had begun to see results, and in cooperation with the forces of Orleans and Bourbon, the French forces from Lyon overran the Duchy of Burgundy. In October 1420 Philip the Good and a representative of Charles VI met at Troyes, where they signed a separate piece by which Burgundy would cede Picardie, Artois, and Flanders, and surrender an indemnity of some 50 chests of gold, divided between France and it's allies.

The French armies thus freed moved against Gascogne and commenced to seiges around Bordeaux and La Rochelle.

france1420jq0.png

This victory should have allowed the French to concentrate their forces against the English and score a decisive victory, but the diplomatic wiles of Henry V and Bedford were not to be underestimated. Burgundy's aid was replaced by the entrance of Navarre and Aragon on the English side, and those Iberian kingdoms unhinged the whole southern flank of France. With the Iberians on the attack in the Languedoc, the ongoing French operations in Aquitaine were imperiled, and a strong thrust by Bedford might have won the war. Indeed, he had already taken Anjou to force the Duke of Provence from the war and was in a commanding position to break the French.

However, Bedford recieved news of a massive Scottish force in Argyll, apparently preparing for an invasion of England in support of France.

scots2061421lx7.png

In June of 1421 Bedford crossed the English channel to bring the situation under control, hoping to return in time to exploit the favorable situation on the continent. However, French armies were now free to concentrate their force against Navarre and Aragon, and those small kingdoms had only small reserves of manpower and gold compared to France. French armies brought the situation in hand by defeating them one at a time, first Aragon in July 1422, and then Navarre a year later in June 1423 (both sacrificing hundreds of chests of gold in tribute). During this same period, armies dispatched by the Duke of Bourbon took control of Bretagne, and acted in support of the French armies then seizing Normandy from the English.

Henry V died suddenly in August 1422, and Charles VI followed in October. Both nations had lost their kings, but while Henry V was succeeded by an infant son and an embattled regency, Charles VII of France was a competent young monarch in the flush of youth, who had already made his bones in the conduct of the war. He was crowned at Reims in November 1422, and he oversaw the capture of the last English cities on the continent. Bedford, now Lord Regent of England, saw that the war had moved beyond the point of recovery and offered terms of peace. England gave up Maine, Anjou, Saintonge, Normandie, and Gascogne, leaving them only toe-holds at Caux and Calais.

charlesviier5.jpg

Charles VII le Victorieux, or "Victorious"

To consolidate his gains, Charles VII promoted many of the bailiffs in the provinces of France to be royal tax collectors, and he reconciled with an erstwhile supporter of Henry V, Arthur de Richemont, whom he appointed Constable of France and placed in command of all the French armies. Thus did he prepare for the next inevitable round of war against England, but this time he calculated that it should be the last.
 

Drake Rlugia

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Looks good so far. Crush the bloody English and drive them back to Wessex! Although for good measure, you might want to burn London to the ground. :)
 

stnylan

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Yes, good start. Drive the English back into the sea. Do you have any particular aims in mind, or just see what happens?
 

Maximilliano

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hmmm im curious as to see where you'll be taking France with this... do the valois have any claim to the english throne?

/subscribe
 

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Lt.-Colonel of Guerillas
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Nice to see you handling the English like that :)
 

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The Grand God of Fried Eggs
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YES!!!! another WATK!
Grand......lookin mighty fine!
Vive la France!
Vive la France!
Vive la France!
Onwards!
 

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Duke Valentino
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Duke of Wellington-- Indeed, I very quickly developed deep pockets. Even in vanilla EU2 once you become a very large country, you start be much richer than your neighbors. I think WATK just becomes unbalanced faster, because you have more provinces and more CoTs to control. But I'm intentionally plotting a much harder course than the norm for France, as will come up later.

Maximilliano-- No, the Valois have no real claim to English throne, but I'm trying to make the whole AAR fit somewhat reasonably into a historical narrative, so it'll be explained as I get to it :)

Mr. Me-- The English, defeated? They still hold Caux and Calais! One more war to settle it.

Singleton Mosby, sunzyl, Simon-1979-- Thanks for reading!
 

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Duke Valentino
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Chapter the Second

Being on the Renewal of Hostilities and the Final Victory of Charles VII


The treaty under which England had agreed to relinquish so much territory to France had contained a provision stating that neither country would make war on the other for the following five years, but as soon as Charles VII had renewed his strength he was anxious to make war. To break the treaty would severely damage his reputation and the stability of the nation, yet he was not without options. The Treaty of Troyes had been signed in 1420, and its guarantee of a period of peace had already expired, such that France could make war on Burgundy, and Burgundy was still allied to England.

So, in November 1425, Charles VII summoned Philip III of Burgundy to Paris to answer charges that he had supported Henry V, illegal pretender to the throne of France, in violation of his feudal vows. Seeing this as an obvious scheme by which Charles VII would resume French domination of Burgundy, Philip refused; the king then declared the lands of Burgundy forfeit and declared war upon the duchy.

This left Bedford, as regent of England, in a quandary. He could not abandon Burgundy to destruction at the hands of Charles VII, but he was still bound by the treaty of peace. He finally decided to declare was on France in support of Burgundy, an act which outraged the barons who were still aching from the loss of so many fighting men and so much money in the last war in France. England was plunged into chaos, and its show of support for Burgundy was rendered mostly symbolic, as no troops could be sent to the continent.* Charles VII began to construct oar-driven galleys in Bordeaux, Poitiers, and Caen, with which he hoped to take control of the channel.

Despite the efforts of Philip the Good, Richemont annihilated the Burgundian army in a battle before the walls of Nevers, and proceeded to beseige and take Nevers, Dijon, and Besançon before the end of 1426, so that Nevers and the Franche Comte were ceded to France. The situation in Burgundy was thus contained, but the kingdoms of Aragon and Navarre once again proved dangerous enemies. Richemont engaged them in a back-and-forth struggle in the Languedoc for five more years, until in June 1432 Navarre swore to be a vassal to the French crown and pay 250 chests of gold, and Aragon surrendered the city of Roussillon. (Aragon would later forcibly annex Navarre)

With his armies finally freed from their conflict in the south, Charles VII ordered Richemont north to the channel coast, where he was joined by armies led by Gilles de Rais and Jean Dunois. Charles VII's navy had swelled to nearly 20 squadrons of galleys, in addition to the ten carracks and four transports by which it had initially been made up. This fleet sortied from Caen in the winter of 1432, and quickly defeated the English naval patrols, so that it could begin to ferry the invasion army to England. The English navy was larger than the French, but it never made a serious attempt to contest the channel, and therefore surrendered all initiative to the French.

Richemont, de Rais, and Dunois came ashore and set to besieging the castles of the channel coast in Wessex and Sussex. Richemont's scouts reported that an English army of nearly 50,000 footmen had been assembled near London, but the English were paralyzed and did not act. England had not faced an invasion in almost 400 years, and was ill-equipped to deal with one. Richemont avoided the British force and concentrated on capturing the cities of England, which they did throughout 1432-1434. French forces gradually pushed up from the channel coast into the Midlands and Wales. An English force of about 10,000 men made a probing attack into Oxford, which Richemont annihilated in detail; this was to be the only attempt by the English to contest the occupation of their island.

eng2461434mc2.gif

Status of the Invasion of England, 24 June 1434.

Finally in the fall of 1436 Newcastle upon Tyne was captured, and so all the principle cities of England save London (and Dublin in the county of Meath) were in French hands. The French armies returned south and took winter camp in a wide ring surrounding London; in January of 1437 Richemont ordered the attack.

eng1411437vl3.png

Though Richemont's forces were larger than the English and possessed more heavy cavalry, it was difficult for him to coordinate his advance. The force of infantry newly arrived from France was delayed crossing the Thames River, and so the English force was able to repulse each army in turn.** Jean Dunois was mortally wounded in the fighting, and Richemont retreated to Oxford to lick his wounds. Reinforcements arrived from the continent in the spring, and Richemont's second attack was a concentrated march along the coast; he devastated East Anglia and stripped the freshly planted fields all along his path, compelling the English to come out and meet his force lest they starve in London the following winter.

This time, Richemont was better prepared and showed his genius, and the English army was destroyed to the last man. Richemont left de Rais in command of the siege of London and returned to Paris to take his honors from Charles VII. Arthur de Richemont, Constable of France, became known to history as the first man since William the Conqueror to successfully invade England. de Rais conducted the siege with his typical skill, and the city opened its gates to him on 10 June 1438.

Henry VI of England, had only become king in his own right, without the mechanism of a regent, the year before, and had spent that whole year as king trapped inside London. So it was that his first significant act as king was to surrender to the French. The Treaty of Oxford, signed by Henry VI in the presence of Gilles de Rais as representative of king Charles VII, surrendered the city of Rouen as well as 250 chests of gold to France. Henry VI further agreed that the kingdom of England was henceforth vassal under the protection of France, and would pay an annual tribute, in exchange for which he would be allowed to retain possession of the city of Calais.

371438peaceenguf5.png

Charles VII, having concluded a surpassing victory over England, called his armies home and commenced to reunifying France. He made a final attack on Burgundy and annexed Dijon by force in 1439, but this attack caused the Duke of Auvergne to protest "the frightful machinations of this king Charles VII" and repudiate his feudal vows. For this insult the Duke of Bourbon attacked Auvergne and forced him to pay an indemnity; after which Bourbon, Orleans, and Armagnac were peacefully annexed to France in 1441-1444. Auvergne was conquered by force in March 1445, and their Swiss allies forced to swear vassal to France (though the Tagatzung would later allow this vassalage to lapse without comment from France). Brittany, too, was attacked and made to become a vassal of France.

Finally, the duchy of Provence was ceded to the crown in 1451, so that the whole of metropolitan France was either enclosed within the royal demesne of Charles VII or had sworn loyalty to him. He complemented his military conquests with administrative reform; creating a permanent army to replace the forces of the nobles, creating a new tax system for the kingdom, and even going so far as to make Jeanne d'Arc, a popular peasant girl who claimed to see holy visions, one of his advisors. It was under the advice of Jeanne d'Arc that Charles VII began a policy of liberating and protecting the common people--twice during the 1440s, peasants in southern France appealed to him for protection from rapacious noblemen, and twice did Charles VII support their claims against the aristocrats; thus increasing their liberty, reducing the privilige of the nobles, and buttressing his own authority over the nobility. In the years to come, France's peasants and common people would be the freest in all of Christendom.





* This is actually one of my favorite strategies for France in the HYW, and as far as I can tell it always plays out like this if you break Burgundy early and DoW them again as soon as you can. England is a lot easier to fight at -3 stab!

** Oops! I forgot to factor in the speed penalty for crossing rivers--amateur mistake.
 

stnylan

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Impressive peace-deal.
 

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Duke Valentino
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stnylan-- I suppose it is.

Duke of Wellington-- It's fairly straightforward. As it is, I'm a pretty casual EU2 gamer, so don't expect me to make it too challenging. The main goal with this AAR is to make it interesting to read, fun to write, and within some pale limit of plausibility. As you'll see in this update, I tweak history to justify it, but in a way I would consider reasonable :)

Maximilliano-- It hasn't diverged so much yet...

CSK-- Not only has Spain been having trouble forming, but Austria got itself annexed by Hungary (irony). I'm not sure who's going to form a bloc against me, really.
 

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Duke Valentino
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Chapter the Third

Part the First
Being on the Wars of the Roses


With his great and final victory in the Hundred Years War, France passed the remainder of Charles VII reign in relative tranquility. England, however, was thrown into a tumult after its crushing defeat and the 1438 Treaty of Oxford.

Henry VI grandfather, Henry IV, also called Henry of Bolingbroke, had first seized the throne of England in a disputed succession. This had left his dynasty, the house of Lancaster, on the throne, but had fomented a great deal of tension with the equally powerful house of York, who believed they had a more legitimate claim to the throne. Henry V's victories in France, culminating with Agincourt, had made him exceedingly popular and quieted the dissent at home, but with his untimely death and the humiliating conquest of England by Charles VII this peace evaporated.

Had Henry VI been of strong character it is possible that he might have stilled the tensions and maintained his throne, but he had inherited a congenital mental illness and suffered from bouts of insanity. In his stead, England was ruled by advisors and, from 1453, by Richard Plantagenet the Duke of York in his capacity as Lord Protector. The Duke of York abused his authority to support his partisans against the backers of the Lancasters, and he was removed in 1455 by Henry VI's wife, Margaret of Anjou, who became the effective ruler of the England.

York then returned to his estates in the north of England and took to arms, hoping to seize the throne by force. Margaret appealed to Charles VII to fulfill his obligations as per the Treaty of OXford as overlord of England, but Charles VII was at that time not interested in the dynastic affairs of England and offered only token support in the form of monetary subsidies, although he entered an official military alliance with England in 1454, together with Bretagne.

1441454diplomaprs9.png

For a time it appeared that this would be enough, as a series of battles were fought between the two sides in 1455-1459. York finally succeeded in the battle of Northampton (10 July 1460) in capturing Henry VI and carrying him to London, where he attempted to force immediate recognition of his claim to the throne, and the deposition of Henry VI in his favor. Shocked by his presumption, Parliament vacillated, and finally appealed to Charles VII for mediation. Corresponding by messenger with Parliament and after a geneological study, the aging French monarch agreed that the Duke of York had the better claim to the throne, yet it would not be just to simply depose Henry VI. Instead, Richard Plantagenet would be the heir designate to the throne, and would be once again Lord Protector of England.

Margaret of Anjou and the house of Lancaster were clearly displeased with this outcome, and before the ink was dry on the agreement, she began to intrigue against the Duke of York. She led Lancastrian forces against York at the battle of Wakefield (30 December 1460), which ended in her victory and the execution of Richard Plantegenet; this left Lancaster in control of the country. However, the Earl of Warwick--a Yorkist partisan--still controlled London and the south of England, and proclaimed the Duke of York's eldest son Edward the true heir of Henry VI (thereby the putative "Edward IV"). Therefore, the issue still stood and would not be ended without a final battle.

The two sides parried for advantage through the winter of 1460-61, until finally they met for a decisive engagement at Towton on 29 March 1461--36,000 of the Yorkist faction and 42,000 of the Lancastrian. The weather, which had been of blizzard conditions, was unexpectedly clear that day.

The two armies initially exchanged volleys of arrow fire, under which the Yorkists suffered the worse because of their smaller numbers. The Earl of Warwick was struck in through the eye-slit of his armor by an unlucky arrow and slain. Taking over sole command, Edward of York knew that his army could only be saved by an aggressive attack, and he closed with the Lancastrian line, leading his men from the front. The battle seemed to be going in his favor, until around noon, when a force of Lancastrian footmen launched a surprise attack from a wood on the Yorkist left flank. With his flank potentially unhinged, Edward was forced to commit all his reserves in order to save his army. As he was leading this counterattack, he was struck under his right arm by a spear thrust and had to leave the field.

Bereft of Edward's leadership, the battle wore on through the afternoon with heavy casualties, with the Lancasters having the apparent upper hand. Finally, in mid-afternoon several thousand fresh troops arrived to reinforce the Yorkist line, and the Lancasters suddenly broke and fled the field. As both sides had agreed to give no quarter, and to let this single battle decide who would be king, the Lancasters were massacred on the run during the rout. Both sides had suffered heavy casualties and the nobility of both York and Lancaster were decimated in the fighting. Worst of all, Edward IV recieved incompetent medical care and perished of his wounds the next day, apparently leaving his twelve-year-old brother George the Duke of Clarence as king of England.

Despite the technical victory of York, both sides were utterly exhausted, and the prospect of another boy-king was disquieting to many in England (the last such regency had ended with the French invasion). Henry VI and Margaret of Anjou were still alive and well in exile, although their army was for the moment destroyed; on the other side, York was nearly as broken and also effectively leaderless.

In April 1461 Charles VII demanded a halt to the hostilities so that he could resolve the dispute; however, he fell sick and was dead by 22 July. His successor, King Louis XI, also called the Spider King, was already an infamous dabbler in intrigue. Promising an end to hostilities and offering substantial bribes to Parliament, he recognized George Plantagenet as "George I" of England, and appointed himself Lord Protector of England. George was brought to Paris for his further education, or rather to be ever under the watchful eye of Louis XI.

louis111ox3.jpg

Louis XI, the Spider King

In October 1464 George I died under mysterious circumstances. Louis XI declared himself king of England, and Parliament offered no objection. Louis XI had paid substantial bribes to the Peers and the Members of the House of Commons, and in any case the people of England wanted no part of any further warfare--they had fought and lost the Hundred Years War, suffered a crushing invasion by France, and finally endured a vicious civil war. Though international recognition of Louis's succession was not forthcoming (as will be addressed in subsequent chapters), the population of England more-or-less accepted him in the hopes of final, long-awaited peace.

annexeng26101464uv3.gif

26 October 1464



Part the Second
Being on the Expansion into the Low Countries


While the Wars of the Roses were coming to their final conclusion, France was also conducting a fairly minor war within their own territory. The Duchy of Gelre, with it's allies the County of Friesland, the Republic of Genoa, and various German principalities, declared war on France in the hopes of averting a later conquest by expansionist France. This plan was poorly laid, however, as the French master of artillery, Jean Bureau, rapidly took their cities by siege and forced Gelre and Friesland to become vassals of France.

However, France prosecuted the war against Gelre's allies only half-heartedly, and finally surrendered the county of Piemonte, which had been inherited from Provençe, to Genoa in exchange for peace in January 1462. Louis XI had already charted his course for domination northwards, and had no real desire to expand into Italy.

peacegenoa391462le6.gif

The stage, rather, was now set for the War of English Succession.
 

stnylan

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I imagine you made Europe fairly made with that annexation. Not good for you badboy.