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Papa Bear
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Sep 13, 2008
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Nice to see this continue so quickly. :)
Welcome to the second part of Here Dwells God, you can find the first part here.

This AAR has followed the Jewish Kingdom of Poland throughout the Middle Ages in the first part of our saga – and now it is time for us to march confidently into a whole new era!

Shortly I will post our first update giving a brief rundown of Poland’s history to date, covering the CK2 era. Then there will be another couple of updates on the CK2 portion and the state of the world at the beginning of this part of our story in 1432.

Let’s get started!




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A Brief History of Medieval Poland

Birth of a Nation 926-1093


The pre-Jewish origins of the Kingdom of Poland are not known in great detail. It is known that in the early 10th century the pagan East Slavic rulers of Galicia invaded the Vistula valley and established their mastery over the indigenous Poles – forming the first Kingdom of Poland. These invaders would gradually assimilate into the Polish population. Most importantly, in 1026 they adopted Judaism as the religion of their realm. Over the course 11th century the majority of the realm’s population adopted one of two main variants of the religion – Orthodox Judaism, mirroring the practises of Ashkenazi migrants into the region, and Samaritanism, a faith that blended Judaism with aspects of traditional Slavic customs and beliefs. Through this period, Poland’s independence was vigorously challenged by the Norsemen in the west and the Tatars in the east – with the important city of Kiev being captured from the latter group.

The Samaritan Era 1093-1175

In the thirty years from 1093 Poland was locked in a bitter dynastic-religious conflict that pitted the reigning Lyakhovich dynasty and the forces of Orthodox Judaism against the Samaritans of the Dregovich dynasty. The Dregovichs eventually won this contest, and established Samaritanism as the dominant religion of the Kingdom. Through the mid-12th century Poland would flourish through a period of relative peace – expanding its borders in the east, notably with the conquest of Minsk, and spreading the Samaritan religion to the independent Russian Princes to their north, in doing so cementing Judaism as the dominant faith of the Slavs. This brief Golden Age was brought to a crashing halt by the Polish Crusade of 1173-75 which destroyed the Kingdom of Poland and established a string of Crusader states across the Baltic region and the Vistula valley – thereafter known as ‘Old Poland’.

Poland Reborn 1175-1310

Judaeo-Slavic civilisation was saved from oblivion by a single great figure – Illiya the Bloodhound, a member of a cadet branch of the old Lyakhovich family. From his base in Minsk, the great warlord united the scattered successors states to the Polish Kingdom in Ruthenia and Galicia through force of arms. He then proceeded to reconquer a large part of Old Poland in the west. This Second Polish State would be different to the first – with a heartland in Ruthenia rather than the Vistula valley, and an East rather than West Slavic character. Illiya’s successors consolidated this new realm through most of the rest of the 13th century, notably conquering the norther shore of the Black Sea. Illiya’s bloodline eventually ran dry in 1290, leading to the rise of the Vyshenky dynasty. More significantly, from the second half of the 13th century a powerful new form of messianic Orthodox Judaism based on the preaching of the prophet Jacob Shamir swept over the country – establishing itself as Poland’s leading religion.

The Jewish Wars of Religion 1310-1368

In 1310 King Demid embraced Jacobean Judaism and sent his son Yaroslav on a quest to liberate the Holy Land from its Arab Muslim masters. Remarkably, Yaroslav, the Sword of Adonai, succeeded and established the Kingdom of Israel stretching from the Lebanon to Mount Sinai. The victory in the Holy Land led to the formation of an ‘established church’ in Orthodox Judaism based on Jacobean teaching, involving the restoration of the High Priesthood and construction of the Third Temple in Jerusalem. From the prince’s ascent to the throne as Yaroslav II in 1328 to his death in 1342 Poland was locked in a gruesome series of religious wars in the Middle East that many Jews believed would usher in apocalypse. Although this briefly saw a Jewish Kingdom established in Iraq, and for a time the Muslims reclaim Jerusalem, by the end of these conflicts little had changed – Israel remained Jewish, but no new lands had been conquered. While Yaroslav II’s son Igor attempted to move away from the religious wars of his father, he found time to conquer the Crimea following a final major conflict with the Arabs.

Descent into Anarchy 1368-1432

From the late 14th century Poland began to descend into a state of chaos. Firstly, it faced a series of dynastic crises – Igor’s young heir was held in captivity and later murdered by his treacherous uncle, then another King was driven to rage after being cuckolded by none other than the High Priest of Orthodox Judaism leading to civil war, finally the primary line of the House of Vyshenky became extinct, leading the rise of the obscure and disliked Drutsk-Vyshenkys to the throne. The weakened monarchy was confronted with an increasingly assertive nobility that grew united behind a conciliarist ideology that drove the Kingdom towards an early, oligarchic, form of constitutional monarchy. These political problems were compounded upon by religious and social dislocation. The creation of an established Jewish Orthodox church in the early 14th century upended a great many Jewish religious norms – sparking a powerful reformist movement known as Qahalism. By the early 15th century, the zeal of this movement was already presenting a threat to the large religious minorities of the realm. Meanwhile, as they increased their control over the state, the feudal lords of Poland had increased their exactions on their peasants – driving them into serfdom. This in turn had contributed to volatility on the Steppe lands of southern Poland – where largescale Slavic migration had created communities of nomadic warlike Cossack hosts who destabilised the entire region and proved devilishly difficult to control.
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Excellent. Eager for Part II
That's some fast commenting! :p

Glad to have you back aboard for Part Two. :)
Heh, I happened to be online and has set notifications for new AAR threads. :p
let's see what EU4 has to bring to this adventure
Excited to follow this story into Part two!
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The Great Men of Medieval Poland

Voislav the Galician c.870-927


Voislav the Galician was the semi-legendary founder of both the Polish and Galician Kingdoms. At some point in the early 10th century he was made King of Galicia, after uniting the East Slavic tribes of the region. According to legend, in 926 a council of Polish tribal leaders invited him to come to their homeland and become their King – bringing order to their unstable lives. While this story more likely describes submission following military conquest that a voluntary surrender of sovereignty, it marked the foundation of the first unified Kingdom of Poland. Voislav’s successors, the House of Lyakhovich, proceeded to rule Poland for three of the next four centuries before the line fell extinct in 1290.

David Lior and Leopold the Samaritan 961-1031 and 967-1049

The twin Rabbis David Lior and Leopold the Samaritan were the founding fathers of the two main branches of Medieval Polish Judaism. Lior was an Ashkenazi migrant from the Rhineland who arrived in Polish capital of Plock as a young man at the end of the 10th century and grew close to the crown prince Vyshata. Upon Vyshata’s ascension to the Polish throne in 1026, Lior oversaw his formal conversion to the Jewish religion and laid the foundations for the mass conversions of the common people that occurred in the years and decades thereafter. Throughout, he insisted on a strict adherence to Orthodox doctrines in the Ashkenazi custom.

In contrast to Lior, Leopold’s movement came from below. A native Slav born deep in the backwoods of Poland’s forests, he taught himself to read and adopted the Jewish faith in the late 10th century in either his teens or early twenties. While committed to Judaism, he admired the wisdom and spirituality of traditional Slavic religion and despised the way the Orthodox Jews dismissed the old ways wholesale. He sought to blend many of the beliefs and customs of traditional Slavic paganism into mainstream Judaism to create a faith more suited to Polish culture. The competition between these two religious tendencies would play a major role throughout Poland’s Medieval history.

Jacek the Hollow 1071-1131

Jacek the Hollow was the most imposing warlord of the First Polish State. He led the powerful Dregovich clan of Prussia, Mazovia and Greater Poland to victory in the Third Samaritan War between 1114 and 1119, becoming King in his own right in 1123. Through his crushing victory, he brought to an end a decades long rivalry between his family and the ruling Lyhakovichs – with the Dregovichs left as the undisputed masters of the realm. More importantly, he established Samaritanism as the Kingdom’s state religion – sending Orthodox Judaism into a spiral of decline it wouldn’t recover from for a century and a half. The community worst effected by this change were the Ashkenazi, who were forced to withdraw from most of the major towns and cities of the Kingdom to establish insular shetls across the land.

Gleb the Holy 1106-1149

Unlike many of the other great Kings of the era, Gleb was not a great conqueror or reformer. He made his impact on world history in the religious sphere. The grandson of Jacek the Hollow, he had largely avoided political affairs until succeeding to the throne in 1131. He would devote the rest of his life to spreading his Samaritan Jewish faith to the pagan Russian Principalities to the north of Poland. In this he achieved great success, with all the major Princes of the region committing themselves to the Jewish religion. Gleb then personally spent much of the later years of his reign travelling around these Principalities – offering moral and financial support to their rulers in consolidating the Jewish presence in the region. This led to the construction of a number of impressive synagogues, some of which still stand to this day – including the beautiful Great Synagogue of Smolensk.

Illiya the Bloodhound 1141-1209

Illiya was not meant to be King. Although he hailed from a cadet branch of the House Lykahovich, overthrown a generation before his birth, his claim to royal lineage was distant. What thrust him into history was the destruction of the First Polish State in the Polish Crusade of 1173-75. In the aftermath, Illiya’s Grand Principality of Minsk was clearly the most powerful of the Jewish successor states that emerged in the eastern provinces of the old Kingdom following this cataclysm. Through an iron will and force of arms alone, Illiya united these scattered successor states into the Kingdom of Galicia and Ruthenia in just eight years. His greatest achievement came in the First War of Reconquest between 1183 and 1189 when he reconquered a large part of Old Poland – including Krakow, Warsaw and most of the Vistula basin. Already secured as a legendary figure in Polish history, he would go on to win a number of further victories – liberating Smolensk, a sacred city for Slavic Jews, from the Tatars in 1192 and wrestling Prussia from the Latins in a second war against the Crusaders in 1197. The continued existence of the Judaeo-Slavic world is down to his efforts.

Prophet Jacob Shamir 1240-1314

There are few figures in history to have changed the fate of the world on the scale of Jacob Shamir. Born in the small Ashkenazi shetl of Selyatan in the Carpathian Mountains of Galicia in 1240, the year 5000 in the Hebrew calendar, Shamir a pious Orthodox Jew in a time of despondency for his faith in the face the Samaritan ascendancy. As a young man, Shamir took up arms in the Great Orthodox Revolt of 1263-67 against King Illiya II. Defeat in this conflict had a huge impact on his life, as he took part in a notable migration of Ashkenazi Jews into the lands of the western Steppe, that had only recently been conquered by Poland. There, he developed his religious philosophy – rejecting conflict between fellow Jews, whether Samaritan or Orthodox, calling for spiritual renewal and a return to strict Orthodox practises among Jews. Most importantly of all, Jacob assured his followers that the end of the world was imminent and the coming of this earthly paradise would be triggered by the emergence of a Jewish Messiah and return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel.

For almost a decade Jacob remained on the Steppe, winning a large following among the Khazars and further refining his beliefs. In 1278 he moved north and began to travel through Poland’s Slavic heartlands in Galicia, Ruthenia and Old Poland – spreading his message as he went. By this time he had already won over a large portion of Orthodox Jewry – and following the Council of Smolensk in 1284 was accepted as a genuine prophet by majority of the most influential Orthodox Rabbis in Poland. Thereafter, the Jacobean movement expanded rapidly – winning over adherents not only among the Orthodox, but also Samaritans, Muslims and Christians. The pinnacle of Jacob’s achievements came at the age of 70 in 1310 when a then teenaged Prince Yaroslav, the future Yaroslav II, came to the prophet and begged him to follow him to court in Minsk to speak with his father. There, Shamir convinced King Demin, a Samaritan, to embrace his brand of Orthodox Judaism and support his call for a great expedition to claim the Holy Land. The Great Aliyah that followed saw Prince Yaroslav lead an army of Jewish Zealots through the lands of the Arab Caliphate and into the Levant – conquering the sacred Land of Israel. Shamir himself would die shortly after enter the city of Jerusalem for the first time.

His impact on Judaism, Poland and the world was immense. In the years that followed his death his life and teachings became the basis of the Book of Jacob – an integral part of the Torah for Jacobean Jews. His branch of Judaism would solidify into the establish church of the Kingdom of Poland, forever shaping its cultural and religious life – with a large majority of the world’s Jews among its number. His words were the inspiration for the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, the Third Temple and the High Priesthood. His prophecies of Armageddon also provided the impetus behind the brutal Jewish Wars of Religion that followed the creation of Israel – seeing Polish and Arab forces do battle from the Sea of Azov to the Persian Gulf over the course of the mid-14th century.

Yaroslav II the Sword of Adonai 1294-1342

Few Kings can claim to be heroes of Biblical proportions – Yaroslav is one of the most prominent figures in the Book of Jacob. A latter-day King David, Yaroslav is a fascinating figure who was eventually consumed by his own megalomania and sense of religious destiny. As a teenager he imprinted himself on world history by bringing Jacob Shamir to his father’s court, and then taking leadership of the Polish army of Zealots that marched south in the Great Aliyah. An indomitable military strategist and warrior, Yaroslav won scores of victories as he conquered the Holy Land for the Jewish people. Through the rest of his father’s reign from 1314 to 1328 he oversaw the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel, the construction of the Third Temple and the development of the structures of the established Jewish Orthodox church.

Yaroslav was obsessed with millenarian predictions of Jacob Shamir, coming to believe it was his destiny to lead the Jews in a great struggle against the nations of the earth and bring about the apocalypse thereafter. Shortly after becoming King he launched into a gruelling invasion of the Arab Caliphate. Although he hoped to destroy the Islamic world and bring the entire Middle East under his rule – a mutiny in his army forced him to accept the conquest of Mesopotamia and establishment of a Jewish Kingdom of Iraq in 1335 as a compromise. When the Arabs invaded Israel an Iraq in 1337, Yaroslav found the opportunity to renew his wars in the Middle East. After another gruelling fight, he was able to liberate Jerusalem from Muslim occupation, however his army would not follow him on to further battles in Iraq and Syria – condemning the short lived Kingdom of Iraq to extinction, but preserving Israel. Yaroslav would die shortly after this second mutiny.

Yaroslav II’s legacy as a King is much less stellar that his time as Prince. He left devastated the Middle East for little gain, left his own country utterly exhausted from foreign adventurers, neglected his subjects in Poland and alienated much of the Polish nobility from the crown – leaving behind simmering discontentment that would contribute to the Anarchy of the 14th and 15th centuries.
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No time wasted here! I am sure you won't miss the council management. ;)
Excellent. Eager for Part II
Checking in from Part I :)
Heh, I happened to be online and has set notifications for new AAR threads. :p
let's see what EU4 has to bring to this adventure
Glad to see part two.
Excited to follow this story into Part two!

Welcome one and all! In the next update you will get your first glimpse of EU4 as we look at the state of play in Poland and the world in 1432.
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All those fascinating people... Really some characters you built up!
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Good recaps
Too bad that the kings from Yaroslav II onwards were poor performers.