• 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

Tommy4ever

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The Noble’s Paradise – 1432-1453

The placid early years of King Sviatopolk’s reign were an incredible contrast with what was to come later in his life. With his position on the throne fragile, the King was happy to cede authority to the Duma and Boyars, and pursue more limited ambitions. Through the 1430s the only major campaign waged by the crown was an effort to pacify the Pripet Marshlands and spread Orthodox Judaism in this dark and lawless corner of the realm – an effort that achieved modest successes with the construction of a number of fortresses in the region and the conversion of several thousand natives to the national church.

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In 1445 Poland embarked on its first major foreign war in two decades as its forces invaded the Grand Duchy of Vidin. Despite sending appeals for assistance to the west, the Bulgarians were left to fight Poles on their own and faced a savage defeat at the Battle of Plodiv. With no realistic hope of turning the conflict around, Vidin agreed to surrender its Moldavian borderlands to the Poles – establishing a clear boundary along the Carpathians and Danube.

1593015629518.png

The feeling of positivity brought by the swift victorious war in Moldavia was not the last. Between 1447 and 1449 Poland was hit by one of the worst human disasters in its long history in the form of the Great Famine. Food shortages and famines were a relatively common occurrence in the Medieval world. In a subsistence society, when food production fell, which they invariably would at some point, starvation would shortly follow. However, the Great Famine was distinct in the scale of hunger, death and social dislocation it brought to eastern Europe. Brought about by a series of unprecedently cold years, a part of a wider cooling of global temperatures from the mid-15th century, for three harvests in succession the crops failed. The result was apocalyptic – it is estimated that between a quarter and a third of the Kingdom’s population would starve to death carrying away the lives of millions.

1593015703444.png

The most immediate political outcome of the Great Famine was rebellion on the Steppe. As thousands of desperate peasants had flooded onto the Steppe – either attempting to establish farms or join Cossack hosts – they threatened the region’s existing inhabitants. In particular, the Khazars were alarmed by a large influx of Slavs into their traditional heartlands along the Don and Kuban. In 1450 a Khazar leader named Tabghac Sofia began to attack a number of newly created Slavic settlements in the Kuban region – slaughtering all the Russians he could find as he sought to preserve his people’s control over the territory. The massacres prompted outrage among the Russian nobility and the local lords of the region quickly assembled an army to confront the Khazars. Tabghac proceeded to destroy this Princely army at the Battle of Lake Khanskoye on the shores of the Sea of Azov. From there, the Khazar rebels swept northwards and sacked the key port of Azov. Quickly Tabghac began to expand his coalition – recruiting disaffected Georgians and Tatars to his cause of expelling the Slavs from the region.

1593016013585.png

In the face of this growing crisis in the south, the King swore to lead the royal army against the rebels in person. Joining a sizeable force recruited in Ruthenia and Galicia with Cossacks desperate to crush their local enemies, the King won a great victory just south of Azov – capturing Tabghac and effectively ending the revolt as a serious threat. A serious threat to the Kingdom’s stability had been quashed, and Sviatopolk had won himself greater prestige than he had ever had before.

As the King returned to Kiev, he hoped to take advantage of his new political capital in order to confront the problems of his troubled realm. Since the Great Famine, political authority across much of the country had collapsed. Struggling to survive on their farms, thousands of peasants had taken to the forests to live as bandits. Meanwhile, in many parts of the Kingdom there were violent confrontations between nobles and their subjects as the peasants who remained on the land attempted to push back against the exactions and restrictions placed upon them as they attempted to recover from the hardships of the past years. In the Christian provinces of the Baltic and Old Poland these flare ups of conflict had grown threatening – with much of the country outside of the fortified towns effectively ungovernable.

1593015889828.png

The western question would be the source of critical political crisis. While the King’s victory over the Khazars had won him respect, it was a source of concern to many Boyars who feared that he would threaten the Golden Liberties and attempt to restore monarchical power. As such, when Sviatopolk requested that the Duma grant him the funds a new army to restore order in the west he met fierce resistance. A controlling faction of the Duma refused to raise the necessary taxes to fund the King’s campaign, unless the army was placed under the command of a general of its choosing. Unwilling to compromise and frustrated by the inertia of debate, Sviatopolk took the radical step of dissolving the Duma – rather than depend on his nobles, he would raise troops with his own resources and those of his allies.

1593015909446.png

With the King threatening to strike out alone, bringing the existing political settlement into question and raising the possibility of another civil war, a conspiracy of eight of the most powerful Boyars in the realm launched a coup. Sviatopolk was ceased and confined to his palace while dozens of his key allies were murdered. The Boyars proceeded to recall the Duma and announce a raft of measures popular among the nobility – granting new exemptions to taxation, rights over the peasantry, autonomy from any central authority and most importantly reaffirming the sovereignty of the Duma. Henceforth, while the King might rule, he would not govern.
 
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stnylan

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Ahh, we may be in a new game but the internal discord of the realm remains as ever the same :)
 

Tommy4ever

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Fun times in the Atlantic Archipelago with Jorvik in Scotland and Skotland in England. And a free Powys!

Always a little disappointing when the HRE just sort of blobs into one state. I quite like the traditional German tapestry. Will be interested to see whether they push east, or whether internal problems appear.

And France looks like it’s having a fun time. Resurgent Burgundy is cool (didn’t they used to have Baltic territories, or am I making that up?) and free Occitanie is a nice touch. Holy wars in the Pyrenees perhaps?

Powys is actually still ruled by a Welsh leader at this point IIRC! Even if the Norse dominate the rest of the area.

I was hoping for our traditional HRE too - I think the conversion is based on your level of centralisation in CK2, so looks like the in game HRE managed to build something of an absolutist state - very few other big powers got away without any EU4 vassals.

France is going to be a battleground for sure. And you remembered correct on Burgundy - those purple lands in Lithuania are Burgundian clay!

this seems like a fun TL. I especially liked the burgundians and the iberian abbasids (off-brand abbasids? for some reason they're abbadids:) ). of course liking a bogomil bosnia is a must.

as a tatar myself, I hope one of the tatar khans unite the different tribes or else they'll just become roadkill between the polish and the mongol empires! maybe you can nurture one as a buffer between you and the mongols :)

The Abaddids overthrew the Ummayyads in Spain in a decadence revolt around the 1200s in CK2, so the similarity in the name is just coincidence :p.

Interesting that you are a Tatar yourself! We will be using the term in quite an expansive way here - basically all the Turkic peoples east of Poland - but I can confirm they will play a big part in our story right the way up to Victoria2 (and beyond)!

I know this story is about Jewish Poland but I'm rooting for the Hindu Mongols, ngl.

Well I won't give anything away what happens with them, but the Mongols will play a big role in our story going forward ;).

Lots of areas for "interesting" things to happen.

Quite a different world in this time line.

For sure, with our world drifting further from OTL it was good to get some points of reference for the world :p.

By this point in time, France, Ireland and Britain would be more or less unified.

The big threat of blobbing in this conversion was the HRE (which ruled most of western Europe and even Vidin in the original conversion) - but I broke them up a bit to make Europe more balanced. They are still the dominant force on the continent though.

Definitely getting the impression of a world in flux, with lots of big shake-ups on the horizon.

It certainly is!
 
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DensleyBlair

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The Noble’s Paradise

Well now I’ve got Stevie Wonder in my head – though this doesn’t sound too ominous…

it is estimated that between a quarter and a third of the Kingdom’s population would starve to death carrying away the lives of millions.

Holy mother of god, that’s brutal.

The most immediate political outcome of the Great Famine was rebellion on the Steppe.

Ah, yeah, that sounds about right

A serious threat to the Kingdom’s stability had been quashed, and Sviatopolk had won himself greater prestige than he had ever had before.

…but maybe Sviatopolk can claw his way back from the brink after all?

Unwilling to compromise and frustrated by the inertia of debate, Sviatopolk took the radical step of dissolving the Duma

Or maybe not.

With the King threatening to strike out alone, bringing the existing political settlement into question and raising the possibility of another civil war, a conspiracy of eight of the most powerful Boyars in the realm launched a coup.

Well, it’s as fitting a way as any to inaugurate the new game! Gripping stuff, Tommy. Great to see its business as usual for our aggrieved Poles.
 

Cromwell

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Another monarch and his people at the mercy of overly powerful nobles. :( Let's hope Poland can somehow thrive under its new rulers coming out of the famine.

A nice dramatic update to start things off though.
 

Specialist290

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Sviatopolk is deposed (or confined to "house arrest," at least), but I suppose it could be worse for him -- at least he keeps his head. The boyars have long been a source of strife and discontent, and the upending of the social order by the Great Famine was exactly the opening they needed to assert their own prerogatives.

It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how the relationship between the king and the nobility evolves going forward.
 

Ebanu8

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Yikes, internal dissent at its worst. We really have to begin centralising power and fast.
 

Tommy4ever

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Into the Flames - 1453-1478

The Poland of the 1450s was an unsafe and unstable land. Banditry was chronic and universal across the realm, small scale revolts were endemic, much of the countryside was largely ungovernable, although the country was recovering from the Great Famine – crop yields remained low and food scarce. The determination of the Duma and the clique of Boyars ruling Poland following their coup in Kiev to keep taxes low ensured that the royal army was badly overstretched in its efforts to fight the fires flaring up across the Kingdom, and tended to rely on local militias to maintain order as best they could.

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While Poland had endured decades of instability up to this point, it would be wrong to think of the chaos it descended into during the latter half of the 15th century as a solely national phenomenon. The climatic changes that caused the Great Famine at the end of the 1440s had affected much of the globe and caused social and political dissatisfaction around the world. Close to home, Poland’s Middle Eastern dependencies fell into internal conflict during the 1450s. In Ascalon, Simeon Serhilda, the Count of Damietta with mixed Russian-Sephardic heritage, seized control of the Principality with the aid of influential mercantile interests in the Nile Delta. In Israel, a conflict between Princes squabbling over land and titles was interrupted by a large Arab revolt in the south of the Kingdom. The Arabs quickly overran much of the country and besieged Jerusalem. At this point the Israelites sent a request for aid to Poland, yet the Duma found itself unable to put together an expedition. Left isolated, the rival Israeli factions agreed to a truce and, joined by the Ascalonites, were able to push the Arabs back from the Holy City and agree a truce – ceding the east bank of the River Jordan to the rebels as the independent Arab Sheikdom of Al Karak.

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As badly as they were hit, the Polish realms did not suffer the worst period of anarchy during this period. That was the fate of the Mongol Empire. From the 1450s the Empire fell into a string of bloody succession disputes and blood feuds in its heartlands on the Steppe East of the Urals. This allowed a number of Persianate and Turkic realms to attack its holdings in Central Asia and Khorasan – forcing the Empire into a series of conflicts that pushed it towards bankruptcy. The troubles in the east left the Blue Horde, the Mongol Satrapy that ruled much of Russia from its capital in Novgorod, completely isolated. The Tatar Emirate of Tver took advantage of this weakness to launch a series of attacks on Mongol lands around Moscow. More importantly to Polish interests, the inhabitants of Pskov rose up against their Mongol masters and sent a plea to their Russian brethren in Poland for aid. Eyeing an opportunity to plunder the wealth of a weakened rival, and liberate their Slavic brothers, Poland’s Boyar government pushed for war in 1460.

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Although nominally a part of one of the most powerful empires in the world, with no aid coming from beyond the Urals, the Blue Horde had little hope of standing against its Tatar, Polish and rebel opponents. The Polish army had initially moved quickly against Novgorod, hoping for a quick victory. Yet, as the Poles set in for a three-year siege, the Mongols darted southwards, avoiding all enemy armies to plunder their way across Northern Poland, Ruthenia and Galicia, even raiding the environs of Kiev itself. Their great raid was only ended when a Polish force was finally able to isolate them at Lvov – and destroy the Mongol host. After this defeat, and the fall of the Blue Horde capital, the Mongols agreed to peace – granting Pskov its independence and surrendered Novgorod to the Poles. The new lands were predominantly ethnically Russian, however most of the population in the area had drifted away from their former Jewish faith in favour of Christianity during the previous two centuries. Ironically, the jewel of northern Russia – Novgorod itself – was barely a quarter Russian, with the majority of its population a mix of Tatars and Mongols.

The war with the Mongols had been unexpectedly expensive and left the crown with substantial debts. With Poland’s Boyar masters unwilling to contemplate raising taxes on their aristocratic base, they began a series of experiments in new taxes – primarily on agricultural production and some consumer goods like salt, that would place the burden primarily on the peasantry. These economic grievances were keenly tapped into by the still powerful Qahalist movement – a current in Orthodox Judaism that sought to forge a less hierarchical Jewish church that had long critiqued of the worst inequities of Polish feudalism.

1593161975422.png

The Second Qahalist Revolt began in 1464 near Tarnopol, along the Bug River in Galicia, as a group of peasants inspired by a radical Qahalist Rabbi lynched a tax collector before proceeded to storm the manorial state of the local noble magnate. While the First Qahalist Revolt in the 1410s had primarily been motivated by religion, the second rising took on a much more prominent class component. Quickly, insurrection spread across Galicia, Ruthenia, Old Poland and Smolensk. The revolts were their most serious by far in Galicia. There, the rebellion resembled a social revolution as the Qahalists forced the majority of the landed population to flee the territory, massacred a large portion of the region’s Greek Christian population – who were seen as allies of the elites, and captured a number of towns and fortresses. Most important amongst these were Przemsyl and Lvov. In the later city, the Qahalists were even able to capture the family of Roman Dregovich; the Grand Prince of Red Ruthenia, Poland’s richest Boyar and a key figure in the regime in Kiev; and proceeded to murder them in brutal fashion.

1593162041082.png

Horrified by the events in Galicia, the Duma approved the raising of a large army, some 40,000 strong, to quash the revolt. In Galicia, this army of restoration carried out its work in incredibly brutal fashion – destroying entire villages indiscriminately, deliberately destroying crops in an effort to stoke famine, executing untold thousands of real and suspected rebels. By 1469 the Revolt was over and order, of a kind, was restored.

Outside of Galicia, where the material damage of the conflict had been appalling, the most important consequences of the Second Qahalist Revolt were ideological. Many of the more mainstream Rabbis of the Orthodox church who had sympathised with the Qahalists’ call for religious transformation were alienated by the horrors of the conflict and turned away from any prospect of reform – solidifying the existing, centralised, religious settlement within Orthodoxy. Meanwhile, the ghettoization of the movement pushed many Qahalists towards further radicalism, increasing its association with social and well as religious egalitarianism. Among the Polish elite, memories of the revolt would cultivate a potent fear of the consequences of social revolt. Increasingly, order, even if it came at the expense of liberty, seemed attractive in its own right.

In the early 1470s, the government in Kiev achieved a degree of assertiveness it had not had for years. Many of the small-scale simmering revolts across the Kingdom were confronted by Polish troops and put down. In the Middle East, a small Polish expedition joined with Israelite and Ascalonite troops to reconquer the east bank of the Jordan from the Sheikdom of Al Karak – restoring Israel’s historic borders.

1593162106714.png

However, as ever, there was trouble brewing in the east. By the early 1470s a powerful warlord named Iakov Bogdanov had emerged has the dominant force among the Cossacks of the Don basin. Where Bogdanov differed from previous leaders on the Polish Steppe was with his skill in moving beyond the ethnic differences between the different peoples of the area. He would form a large coalition including Cossacks, Tatars, Khazars and even Georgians that came to dominate the south eastern corner of the realm. Bogdanov spread a message of liberation – calling for his peoples to throw off the shackles of the Polish state and the Princely landowners who dominated it in favour of self-rule. By 1476 he had grown in confidence enough to directly confront the Polish state – capturing Azov, where he slaughtered the city’s population of Italian and Greek Christian merchants, and then pushing into the Crimea to take Sevastopol.

1593162141926.png

These actions provoked an inevitable response and quickly Poland’s armies were mobilised in the south. Bogdanov moved fast – first meeting a small royal army near Odessa, and completely destroying it. He then swung northwards and pushed directly towards Kiev in 1477. At the Battle of Pereyaslav just outside the capital, the Steppe army swept away the last barrier standing between themselves as the city walls and began to besiege the capital. The city, and Poland’s elite, were gripped with terror.

1593162175524.png

As the state desperately scrambled to mobilise a relief of Kiev, the crumbling of its authority right across the Kingdom saw revolts spring up in every corner of Poland. The most threatening rebellions were among the Christians of the Baltic, the recently acquired northern Russian lands and Slovakia, but there was also notable unrest among the Jews of Old Poland and Northern Ruthenia. Poland was at the very brink of oblivion. In early 1478, several months into the siege of Kiev, King Sviatopolk finally died after nearly half a century on the throne. His only son, Demid, had passed away several years previously – leaving his nephew Igor to inherit the crown. Igor II, fascinated by the tales of the great Polish Kings of yore, saw himself as a man guided by destiny – fated to save Poland from oblivion.
 
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Tommy4ever

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For reference I hadn't played EU4 for years before starting this game - and it did not start out well :p.

In game this whole period was one of constant rebellions that tended to come in a series of waves - getting worse each time. The 'Nobles in Power' disaster also has a bunch of negative effects - most importantly drastically limiting your income.

Ahh, we may be in a new game but the internal discord of the realm remains as ever the same :)

It certainly does! And has only gotten worse!

Well now I’ve got Stevie Wonder in my head – though this doesn’t sound too ominous…

Holy mother of god, that’s brutal.

Ah, yeah, that sounds about right

…but maybe Sviatopolk can claw his way back from the brink after all?

Or maybe not.

Well, it’s as fitting a way as any to inaugurate the new game! Gripping stuff, Tommy. Great to see its business as usual for our aggrieved Poles.

Incidentally my inspiration for the idea of the Great Famine was this real famine during the Russian Time of Troubles. Of course if you go through history famines of that scale did happen occasionally.

Glad to see you've enjoyed the ups and downs of this anarchic period in Polish history. But when will it end?

I can tell you that squashing constant rebellions with an ever dwindling army and ever growing pile of debt wasn't the most fun period of this campaign to play through :p.

Another monarch and his people at the mercy of overly powerful nobles. :( Let's hope Poland can somehow thrive under its new rulers coming out of the famine.

A nice dramatic update to start things off though.

Let us pray Igor II can lead us out of this wilderness!

Sviatopolk is deposed (or confined to "house arrest," at least), but I suppose it could be worse for him -- at least he keeps his head. The boyars have long been a source of strife and discontent, and the upending of the social order by the Great Famine was exactly the opening they needed to assert their own prerogatives.

It will undoubtedly be interesting to see how the relationship between the king and the nobility evolves going forward.

Sviatopolk was largely unable to do anything to challenge the Boyars rule during his long captivity - but this Igor character seems like he might be willing to take some drastic action as he tries to save Poland from collapse!

Yikes, internal dissent at its worst. We really have to begin centralising power and fast.

Perhaps the our political experiment in a Nobles Republic hasn't been the rip roaring success in proto-democracy we might have hoped for. Will someone save us from this meddlesome parliament?
 
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If it all ends with the decline of boyars, Iakov Bogdanov would be in fact doing a huge favor to Poland in a convoluted way
 

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That's certainly a harrowing few decades there. I'd imagine that after all that slaughter and mayhem, Galicia must be pretty thoroughly burned out (in more ways than one). The Qabalists and the Cossacks may have lost in the end, but I'd imagine there are many Poles who are regretting that their nation didn't have a firm and steady hand on the reins in its moment of crisis.
 

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So with the boyars having left everything aflame Igor II certainly has the mandate to do a thorough housecleaning I'd say. I mean, it can't what's the worse that coudl happen :D
 

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There was a naive part of me that thought the internal strife might get a little better with the changeover to EU4, but I see now how wrong I was.
 
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There was a naive part of me that thought the internal strife might get a little better with the changeover to EU4, but I see now how wrong I was.

I had exactly the same idea, don't I feel a fool now.

Still, the Kingdom was kept together (just) and there's every chance for a new start under a new monarch.
 

DensleyBlair

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I can tell you that squashing constant rebellions with an ever dwindling army and ever growing pile of debt wasn't the most fun period of this campaign to play through :p.

When Paradox are at the wheel, fighting a obscenely powerful rebellion is never more than a slip up away. :p

I was very much rooting for the Qabalists. Hope we get to see them again. That said, Igor sounds like's about to embark upon a serious campaign of putting his house in order. I don't imagine this involves much latitude for egalitarian social movements...
 
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Liberty in Despotism - 1478-1505

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When Igor II succeeded to the throne in 1478 at the age of 38 Poland was at the lowest moment in her history since the Polish Crusade. Swathes of the country were overrun by rebels, the nomadic horde of Iakov Bogdanov was besieging the capital in Kiev, the royal treasury was completely empty, and the apparatus of state paralysed by the pseudo-democratic structures of the Boyars. This was the denouement of an entire century of instability known as the Anarchy. Guided by the hand of destiny, Igor saw it as his singular mission to save Poland from oblivion and forge a new political settlement that would the long decades of chaos to an end once and for all. He would go down in history as Igor II, Hard-Ruler.

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The first year of Igor’s reign was spent hunkered down behind the city walls of Kiev as Bogdanov’s men attempted to starve the city into submission. Their tactics changed in 1479 after they managed to secure a small number of cannons from the Arabs – pounding the walls they managed to form a breach and attempted to pour into the city. Seeing his realm on the brink of collapse, Igor road out from his palace to rally the defenders of the city – repulsing the Tatar and Cossacks attackers. In the confusion of their withdrawal, Bogdanov’s forces fell into a disorderly rout as the Polish army sallied forth to pursue them. Suffering heavy casualties – Bogdanov was forced to begin a long retreat towards the Steppelands.

Following this success, many Boyars who had been withholding their support while it appeared that Kiev might fall, rallied to the King’s banner – swelling the ranks of the royal army. This force pursued the Cossack-Tatar army far to the south east until it was able to pin them to a pitched battle at Luhansk, north of Azov. There, the nomadic army suffered a narrow defeat, but more importantly its charismatic leader fell into the hands of the Poles.

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While another ruler might have seen this as an opportunity to secure a quick negotiated peace, and turn their attention to the many other threats facing the realm, Igor had Bogdanov taken into Kiev in a cage and slowly dismembered in a public square – with the desecrated remains of his body being sent by an envoy to the remains of his rebellion in the south east. While this killing caused a great deal of fury on the Steppe, the loss of the great leader saw Bogdanov’s diverse coalition start to fracture along ethnic, religious and tribal lines.

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With the nomads if not subdued then at least seriously curtailed, and eliminated as a direct threat to the capital, much of Poland remained in open revolt. When King Igor went to speak before the Duma it was expected that he intended to request additional funds and men to continue the battle against the rebels. What he did instead stunned all those assembled. The King would begin a lengthy diatribe against the nobility and the existing constitution – blaming the selfishness and short-sightedness of the Boyars for the crisis enveloping the country. In response to the fiscal crisis greeting the crown’s coffers, he called for a series of near-confiscatory taxes on the landed gentry, announced the revocation of many of nobles’ privileges and most importantly called for the upper-aristocracy to turn over a portion of their land to the crown. Igor made clear that this what not a proposal to be debated, it was a command. The Boyars would accept it or face his wrath. When Prince Ivan of Kuyavia protested that the King had destroyed the Golden Liberties, Igor replied curtly “the Russians have grown tired of Liberty”. Many of the most vocally hostile Boyars would face arrest in the days after this meeting, while many others fled from Kiev back to their estates. Shortly later the Duma was dissolved, never to be reconvened in Igor’s lifetime.

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Igor had deliberately stoked war between the monarchy and the nobility. His enemies soon gathered in the small town of Pinsk, not far from Minsk, where they formed the Confederation of Pinsk – agreeing to a new constitution that would restore the Golden Liberties, institute an elective monarchy and, of course, depose Igor II. Throughout the past century the great bulk of the nobility had routinely united to defend the Golden Liberties from any threat of monarchical overreach, however on this occasion they found their ranks splintered. A sizeable portion of the aristocracy accepted the view that only a strong central leadership could end the crisis and bring order to Poland and were willing to accommodate themselves to the new regime. Nonetheless, the Confederates were able to rally the Dregovich lands in Galicia, Slovakia and Moldavia, much of Old Poland, parts of White Ruthenia and the North to their banner.

The Confederates had some initial successes – capturing Minsk from a poorly manned garrison before defeating a small royalist force at Gomel. However, the balance of power was against the rebellious Boyars. Many of their territories were riddled with insurrections of their own, while Igor had been able to amass an intimidating army. Through 1481 and 1482 the royalists would recapture Minsk, seize Smolensk and drive through much of Galicia.

1593354947337.png

With the war turning clearly against them, and King Igor making clear his intention to seize much of the wealth of the rebels at the war’s end, the Confederates assembled in Plock in 1483, the site where the Poles elected their ancient King’s, and elected King Erik VII of Denmark as King of Poland. The Boyars were desperate and saw a foreign intervention, even from a Christian, as their only hope. Many of the Christian rebels groups that had risen across western Poland saw in the Danes an opportunity for liberation and joined in a coalition with his the Confederates against Igor. Confident that the tide had turned, King Erik led his coalition against the Polish royalists at the Battle of Lublin. With both sides suffering horrendous casualties, the engagement proved indecisive, ensuring that the conflict would grind on for years.

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In the years since his victory over Iakov Bogdanov, King Igor had looked to strengthen ties with the Muslim Tatars both within and beyond the Polish frontier. These frequently restive people had long been alienated from Polish rule. Igor sought to align himself with these tribes – recognising their land rights, awarding many of their leaders with titles that formalised their position in Poland’s feudal hierarchy and guaranteeing them the right to practise their religion. This Tatar policy had implications beyond the frontier as well, with the royalists recruiting sizeable mercenary corps from the east and building alliances with favourable tribes. The King went so far as to arrange the marriage of his eldest son and heir Yelisey and the daughter of the Khan of Kegen-Volga, the rulers of Astrakhan, with the Tatar leader agreeing to recognise Igor II as his liege.

The key moment in the civil war came in 1485 when the Swedes invaded Denmark. Much of the Danish army swiftly withdrew from Polish territory to deal with this threat, significantly altering the balance of power in the region. The royalists then poured into the Vistula basin – recapturing Krakow and Warsaw by the beginning of 1486 and isolating the rebels to the Baltic shoreline. While the Danish fleet was able to provide a degree of protection to these coastal territories, it was clear that the conflict was over. When the Danes agreed to peace in 1487, the royalists were left free to reclaim that last of the rebel fortresses.

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By the defeat of the Confederation of Pinsk there were only a handful of restive provinces still outside of the authority of the King. By the end of the 1480s order had returned to these lands too. Peace had been brought to Poland, and Igor was determined to ensure that the realm would not sink back into the Anarchy that had gripped it for a century. Through the 1490s he would define this new political settlement. The revocation of noble tax privileges as done much to ease the financial woes of the crown. Meanwhile the huge land seizures, which had seen around a fifth of noble land transferred to the crown, had given the monarchy new sources of revenue and allowed Igor to create a new class of loyal Boyars by selling territory and titles to veterans from his military campaigns. With the Duma dissolved and the Boyars broken, Igor was able to govern as a despot – without recourse to limiting institutions.

Alongside this imposition of political tyranny, Igor addressed the diversity of his realm by embracing the idea of tolerance. The realm’s multitudinous religious minorities were promised the right to worship without persecution – even enjoying a degree of self-governance through the creation of religious courts that would try the criminals of each individual faith according to their own customs. On the Steppe, the most rebellious of all the Polish territories, Igor’s policies towards the Tatars – that formalised their rights to land and titles within a stable feudal hierarchy – was expanded to the entire region while special courts were created in Azov designed to resolve land disputes.

Controversially, Igor wished to address the problems of the Orthodox Jewish church. He called for a council of senior Rabbis in 1497 to discuss the future of the church and seek to ease the divisions that had fuelled the anger of the Qahalists. The council achieved few changed, with the violence of the Second Qahalist Revolt having soured the idea of reform in the eyes of many senior Rabbis, but it had clear symbolic value to the crown. Conspicuously, it took place in Kiev, not Jerusalem, emphasising the supremacy of the King’s secular power over the Kohen Gadol’s religious authority.

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Around the turn of the century Poland entered into two short conflicts with its neighbours. Firstly, the independent Russian Principality of Pskov was invaded and annexed in 1499. Then, between 1502 and 1504 the Poles became involved in a large conflict in the east, fighting on behalf of its allied tribes in Kegen-Volga and Karamans against a large Turkic coalition led by Emyür. Faced by the might of a united Poland, the Kingdom’s Tatar rivals were hopeless outmatched – surrendering substantial territories around the Caspian Sea region to the Polish-aligned tribes. With this victory, Kiev’s influence stretched all the way to the Ural Mountains.

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The final drama of Igor’s reign would come in 1505. The King was not a man of cool temperament. Prone to rages and uncontrollable anger he was often violent with courtiers and advisors. However, after a fierce disagreement with his son Yelisey in the winter of 1505 he would repeatedly strike his heir over the head with a staff – killing him in the midst of his fury. As he came to realise the horror of what he had done, Igor became consumed by his guilt and committed suicide by throwing himself into the icy waters of the Dnieper. With Igor II gone, his nineteen-year-old grandson Igor III was left with the task of maintaining the peace his predecessor had brought to Poland.
 
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So we've got out of the woods of the outright Anarchy now! Your eyes are not deceiving you - that was a screenshot of Poland at the end of the post not covered in rebellions! :eek:

The in game explanation of how we got through this is quite interesting as well. To get rid of the Nobles in Power disaster I realised the only thing I could do was confiscate land, deal with a fairly major rebellion and the noble estate being very angry for a while. It got rid of the distaster and those maleffects were only temporary - and more or less over within 10-20 years.

To counter the constant rebellions I took on the Humanist ideas set and poured monarch points to get as many of the best ideas as I could. Increasing the Religious Unity and reducing global revolt risk were live savers (and possibly AAR savers! :p). Combined, all these things brought an end to the cycle of revolts and made us so strong that I was actually able to fight a couple of modestly sized offensive wars by the time we reached 1500! Something I hadn't been able to even think about for the past 50-odd years of gameplay.


The way I see it, our new King must seize absolute power and oust the Boyars from power.

You got your wish!

I can imagine this period of the Anarchy over the last 100 years being a huge source of interest for future Polish historians. Is this a story of how only strong central authority can hold the nation together? That Poland needed to accept its diversity? That democratic ideals mean weakness? Or was the monarchy wrong all along?

So with the boyars having left everything aflame Igor II certainly has the mandate to do a thorough housecleaning I'd say. I mean, it can't what's the worse that coudl happen :D
If it all ends with the decline of boyars, Iakov Bogdanov would be in fact doing a huge favor to Poland in a convoluted way

And that is how things went - the shock of Bogdanov besieging the city gave Igor that last push to take strong direct action against the Boyars and bring in his despotic regime.

That's certainly a harrowing few decades there. I'd imagine that after all that slaughter and mayhem, Galicia must be pretty thoroughly burned out (in more ways than one). The Qabalists and the Cossacks may have lost in the end, but I'd imagine there are many Poles who are regretting that their nation didn't have a firm and steady hand on the reins in its moment of crisis.

Indeed, we could see how in previous outbreaks of civil war over the past hundred years the nobles routinely united to defend the Golden Liberties against the King. But after seeing how the Duma handled the Qabalists and Bodganov - an authoritarian despot who could keep them safe was suddenly a much easier sell.


There was a naive part of me that thought the internal strife might get a little better with the changeover to EU4, but I see now how wrong I was.
I had exactly the same idea, don't I feel a fool now.

Still, the Kingdom was kept together (just) and there's every chance for a new start under a new monarch.

If anyting the shift to EU4 made it worse! :p. Religiously mixed countries seem much weaker in EU4 than in CK2 and we were really struggling to keep our heads above water for a while. At the height of that Cossack revolt (in game an attempt to gain independence for 'Perayslav - which basically had cores across the south-east) got to about 90% on enforcing their aims - which would have lost me a huge chunk of land.

When Paradox are at the wheel, fighting a obscenely powerful rebellion is never more than a slip up away. :p

I was very much rooting for the Qabalists. Hope we get to see them again. That said, Igor sounds like's about to embark upon a serious campaign of putting his house in order. I don't imagine this involves much latitude for egalitarian social movements...

There wasn't much time for the Qabalists in this update (although they would certainly have been involved in all those smaller scale revolts going on in the background of the larger dramas with the Confederates, Danes and Bogdanov) - but I am sure they will rear their heads once of twice in the new coming century ;).
 
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Bloody Nora, Igor’s was certainly an action packed reign! And what a way to end it! :eek: Eager to see how you press the advantage of not having to deal with ceaseless rebellions.