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    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

Henry v. Keiper

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100 Years of the Croatian Peoples

3dflagsdotcomcroat2fabl0td.gif

--UPDATES--
PROLOGUE
Chapter I: 1066-1073
Chapter II: 1073-1076
Chapter III: 1076-1087
Chapter IV: 1087-1099
Chapter V: 1099-1106
Chapter VI: 1106-1110
Chapter VII: 1110-1121
Chapter VIII: 1121-1130
Chapter IX: 1130-1137
Chapter X: 1137-1144
Chapter XI: 1144-1149
 
Last edited:

Henry v. Keiper

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Prologue

pic018nr.jpg

Ancient Croatian text

The Croatian people are actually believed to have had barbarian origins. The Croatian language can be traced to Iranian, and the very original Croats were nomadic people moving westward from the region. They were eventually subjugated by the Avar Kingdom in eastern Europe and, living among Slavic culture, were assimilated into the language and customs of the region. They migrated into the region of modern-day Croatia around the 600’s, still a pagan culture. Christianity was spread into the region in 640 with the creation of the Archbishopric of Salona, though it wasn’t until the Franks, who defeated the Avars under Charlemagne, enforced Christianity in the region during the 800’s that the Croatian people accepted the faith.

For much of their time, the Croatians were under the sovereignty of the Byzantine Empire. After Pope John X crowned Zupin Tomislav King of the Croats in 924, however, a decision was made to split from the Orthodox Church and open ties to the Latin Church in Rome. Under Tomislav, the Pannonian and Dalmatian Duchies - which split Croatia - were united.

pic022za.jpg

Croatia after unification under King Tomislav

King Petar Kresimir Trpimirovic IV had become king of Croatia in 1058. Shortly afterward, he had merged the kingdoms of Croatia and Slavonia and was crowned by Pope Gregory VII as King of Croatia and Dalmatia. It was an auspicious start to his rule.

pic037yg.jpg

The new king of Croatia

As of 1066 he was 47 years old, married to a 17 year old girl named Ladika Hrvatinic, and ruled a stable, productive kingdom. To keep his nobles favorable to him, Petar lowered their financial duties and refused some court ideas to revoke titles from profitable lands held by nobles.

pic045nk.jpg

Queen and Chancellor of Croatia

Croatia was able to stand on its feet. Come 1066, however, it would be tested in one of its first foreign wars: the War of the Three Kingdoms

------------------------------------------------------------------------

I had free time, so I figured I could do an AAR for fun. It's been a while for me - I want to make sure this one is finished and goes on for a good while.

There are no rules or goals - my plan is to just roleplay the nation as it would be ruled by its different kings and courts. The style of writing will be like a non-fiction text. And that's pretty much it. :p I hope you enjoy.

Also, a note on my playing: I play ahead of where I am, and write updates per every incident that happens in-game. Even though I'm starting the game in this AAR, I've actually played the game and written updates all the way up to 1130, and still playing. This way, I can proofread my updates and perhaps write foreshadowing clues. Also, it just helps me organize. What I'm saying is this: don't offer suggestions like "You should do this" because chances are IRL its too late to do anything. :p
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Chapter I: 1066-1073

The War of the Three Kingdoms is a popular misnomer for this conflict. It was supposedly called this because three kings were allied against the Muslims in Sicily and Tunisia. In fact, one of the three, Robert de Hauteville, was the DUKE of Apula. Despite this, the title remains thanks to popular history.

pic011rk.jpg

Not a king

The Byzantine Empire, once the remaining half of the great Roman Empire, was now nothing more than a shadow of the past. The Muslims had stripped them of much of their land in the Middle East and Africa, despite pleas from the government in Constantinople for help from the west. Seeking aide during his reign, the aging Emperor Konstantinos Dukas turned to two nearby neighbors, Croatia and Apula. The Duchy of Apula, ruled by Orthodox Christians, was happy to go in with the Byzantines in hopes of spreading control over the Mediterranean, though the Kingdom of Croatia was a little less enthusiastic. Kresimir was worried that the Byzantines may attempt to enforce their sovereignty over Croatia again, seeking to expand into the Balkans. He was also worried about relations with the Latin Church in Rome if he were to ally with an Orthodox power.

pic020af.jpg

Croatia, Byzantine, and Apula.

It was indeed a motley group of nations. Even more strange was the combination of leaders. Konstantinos had a fairly good grasp on military matters, but was old and club-footed, making him useless on the battlefield and having to rely on his generals. Robert de Hauteville was by all means a greater tactician than the other two, but also had a mean streak and was not well liked by his inferiors. Petar Kresimir, on the other hand, was a fairly competent commander and had a great asset: his half brother Stjepan, the marshal, who was a competent field commander and knew how to work Petar’s personality to get things done.

pic031lp.jpg

Croatia’s capable marshal, and Petar’s younger brother

The War of Three Kingdoms erupted when the small Muslim nations of the Shiekdom of Siracuse and the Shiekdom of Trapani attacked Byzantine fiefs. Konstantinos called on his allies for assistance. The Duchy of Apula aptly accepted and prepared to send troops into the nearby island of Sicily, but Petar was more hesitant. Eventually he was persuaded by his Bishop to take part in the war in the name of God. This holy man was Soimir of Zadar, a bit of a strange priest who knew more about dying for God than he did about praying to Him. Many times during the war his personality would take on an almost violent heir of fanaticism that would foreshadow the madness to overtake him later.

pic041iq.jpg

He looks sane now…

Convinced that it was time to spread the word of God to the Italian region, Petar raised an army of 3300 men and prepared them for the Mediterranean trip. They were made up of the King’s Regiment, 1800 men commanded by Petar himself, the Croatian Force, 900 men commanded by Marshal Stjepan, and 600 men from Split that Bishop Soimir had raised after preaching the end of heretics in the region. The boats left the shores of Croatia at the start of June, 1067, and headed towards Sicily. Their goal: Trapani, the most westernmost point of Sicily.

pic058nh.jpg

The opening invasions

Landing ashore on July 26, Petar moved inland and met with 473 men under the Muslim general Ayyub. The Muslim army was a poor lot, and were no match for the superior numbers of Petar’s army. The Croatian swordsman first rushed through the small group of archers the Muslims had brought up, then tore through the line of peasants before decimating the rest of the army. All Muslims who fought that day were killed, while Petar lost only 200 troops.

Trapani castle was put to siege, though after the Battle of Trapani the Muslims were in no mood to hold out. A peace treaty was offered from the Skiekdom of Trapani on August 23, which Petar accepted. This put Bishop Soimir into a terrible rage - how could the King of Croatia have accepted peace with infidels who had desecrated Christian land? Petar did have his reasons - the war was costing him, and he did not want to see his treasury eaten up by a prolonged conflict. He also believed in the Byzantine and Apula troops to the west, who would most likely end the war by the time Croatian boats arrived back home.

However, things changed later that week when the Kingdom of Zirid, located in modern-day Tunisia, declared war in defense of the Muslims in Sicily. Bishop Soimir told Petar this was a sign that the infidels were growing bolder, seeing that any offense would get easy appeasement. Petar had to admit that he did not want the entire Mediterranean coast turning against him, and the campaign in eastern Sicily was going horribly. Konstantinos and Robert were incapable of coordinating their armies, and Byzantine and Apula troops were cut up peacemeal as they headed inland. Petar broke camp and had his troops prepare to embark towards the city of Tunis.

pic068fx.jpg

Someone decides to join in on the fun…

The Croatian army, now 2951 men, landed on the Tunisian shores and moved towards the city of Tunis. King Murtaza, the leader of Zirid himself, had formed an army of 705 men and was waiting for the Christians to come. The battle opened up on October 7 with a determined Muslim cavalry charge that almost turned the Croatian flank. When all seemed lost, Marshal Stjepan rode out and smashed into the Muslim cavalry, decimating them and sending them sprawling back. Soon the rest of the enemy army gave way, and Murtaza abandoned his army, and later the city of Tunis. It fell on January 18, 1068, after a three month siege.

pic072sg.jpg

Told you he was capable

Petar received a messenger telling him that a small - a very small - Apula force had landed west of him and was besieging the city of Bizerte. Knowing the small force would delay the Muslims on his western flank, Petar moved south to Mahdia. No army opposed him, and the city was besieged in March. When it finally fell in May Bishop Soimir took matters into his own hands and ordered his army of fanatics to burn the city to the ground. When Petar received word of this he was furious and sent footmen to control Soimir’s army. Though order was restored the damage was done, with many buildings - and people - put to the torch.

pic087fv.jpg

Christ was forgiving so we don’t have to be!

With his remaining army of 2289 men, Petar turned north and marched along the coast until he linked up with the Apula army in Bizerte. When the city fell in July it was a Croatian banner that rose up on the walls of the fortress. The Kingdom of Zirid was now part of Petar’s personal desmense.

Petar had hoped to return home, but he received news that a Muslim army of 234 men from the Shiekdom of Syracuse had invaded Mahdia. Enraged at the incompetence of his allies, Petar sent the rest of his troops home and led his personal army of 1300 men towards the Muslim force. He defeated it on February 23, 1069 and then, wasting little time, set sail for Sicily. The defenders of Syracuse saw the Croatian troops appear off the coast of their city on May 22, and the Croatian banner flew atop Syracuse in mid-August. Petar then prepared to move along the island’s coast when he received word that a large Byzantine army had finally secured the island. The War of the Three Kingdoms was over.

Croatia now held land in Africa and Italy. Profiting more than their allies, Petar had nabbed Tunisia as well as one of the most ancient and profitable cities in Sicily. After financing several building projects, Petar sailed back to Croatia to deal with matters at home.

pic093vw.jpg

Sicily and Tunisia after the war. Croatian gains are in blue; Byzantine in purple and Apula in yellow
 

Ksim3000

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So you finally did it at last my good sir! Excellent, I really did enjoy it! Petar I like and even though he may be fanatical, Soimir is an excellent addition to the story. I cannot see some of the pictures on your second post but no matter, I shall live with the writing.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Kaiser Franz - Thank you. I'm not too certain where its going myself. Well, except for the part I've already played. :rofl:

Ksim3000 - Yes at long last. And fear not, Soimir will be back later. ;) That's weird about the images though, I can see them fine. Well you're not missing much, just pictures of characters and their events.
 

unmerged(33638)

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Careful I think you ally in Apulia may back stab you to get his crown.

Excellent work, subscribes
 

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The noble line of Hauteville would never do such a thing!

Yes, excellent work. I'll be watching.
 

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New to CK, and your well-written AAR is an excellent way to get into the flow. Long live Croatia!
 

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Historically, King Petar Kresimir did die in a naval battle fighting the Normans. Never say never.

You made a good call allying with Romania. They can be quite a nuisance in early days with vanilla patch.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Thanks for all the replies. :D

BBBD - Well, thankfully he doesn't do that. I hope he doesn't, because the manpower in my Muslim regions is pretty low, what with crushing their armies and all during the war. :wacko:

Alhazen - In the words of Nasuke from Yojimbo: "Stick around, there's more." ;)

Vald M.S. - Well, I'm flattered that not only do you think my AAR is well written, but that it'll help you to some degree. :) A lot of this is going to be me putting a story behind in-game events to make it more interesting, but pretty much most of what happens here happens in the game to some degree. For example, battles in CK are not as strategic as I made him out to be, but Stjepan did have a "Shows Bravery" event during that particular battle. (as the picture shows)

Brownbeard - Yikes! Well luckily naval battles are non-existant in CK. :eek: Petar will be around a good while, I'm happy to say. Glad someone else knows about some Croatian history. :) The prologue's opening is pretty much a little bit of research I did, though there's more to Croatia than meets the eye, obviously. Also, I allied with Byzantine because I figured it'd get them off my back early on. You just look at that map and it looks like Croatia is some appendage of Byzantine. :eek:
 

Fiftypence

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Excellent, although I too cannot see some of the pictures in the second update. But no matter, great AAR.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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JackBob - Yes, time for something different. ;)

Fiftypence - Huh...OK then, time to get to the bottom of this:

NOTICE: HOW MANY PEOPLE CANNOT SEE THE IMAGES IN MY SECOND UPDATE? I CAN SEE THEM FINE, BUT I KNOW AT LEAST TWO PEOPLE NOW WHO CAN'T.
 

Henry v. Keiper

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There may be an update tomorrow. Just keeping you on top of things. ;)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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Chapter II: 1073-1076

The majority of Croatian nobles were of refined character. They admired their king and accepted his rule, especially after his show of skill during the War of the Three Kingdoms. However, there was one noble who hated his king and would become infamous for his treachery.

Upon arriving back home in August of 1073, Petar found several key issues facing him. The first issue was among his own court and concerned the lack of heirs. Currently, Stjepan was set to rule the kingdom, and while Petar trusted his brother in good faith he preferred to continue his own lineage. Ladika had given birth to two children during the war, both unfortunately daughters. The first had been shortly after Petar had left, the second was during the war. Although popular history says Ladika fell in love with a courtier and gave birth to an illegitimate child, this was far from the case - there is a recorded moment when Ladika visited the king in Sicily. Months later, when she had arrived back in Croatia, the baby was born.

pic018rx.jpg

What rotten luck!

Stanislava Vukic, Croatia’s spy master, tried to convince her king that she could kill off Ladika and make it appear as an accident, allowing room for marriage. Stanislava was a woman of good beauty and sly charm who also had her name tainted by popular history. As the legend goes, she was originally a prostitute who went through Zagreb offering her services to the rich men, later poisoning them and stealing their money with no evidence or trace of her escape. She was so successful that in a single night she had killed over fifty men and the populace began to think there was a plague in the city. She was caught and brought before Petar who, instead of hanging her, assigned her into his court. In truth, Stanislava was never a prostitute and was said to be a chaste woman. There was indeed a prostitute who poisoned the rich and famous of Zagreb, but she was actually hung. Part of the myth may stem from the fact Stanislav did employ courtesans and whores to gather information or perform murders, earning her a nickname among political enemies as “Croatia’s Madame.” It is true, however, that she had a wicked streak in her blood, and had no morals when it came to the value of human life.

pic021fm.jpg

Stanislava Vukic, one of the most controversial figures in Croatian history

Petar, however, was a bit more controlled. While he “appreciated” his spy master’s concerns, he would not cause any harm to Ladika. He would continue to try and have a son, even with Ladika’s growing age.

The second internal concern was a bit more serious. This problem was Bernardin Subics, the Count of Usora. Subics was not very popular among the nobles, and for good reason. He was a cruel, vengeful man who showed pity or compassion towards no one. When the mayor of a small hamlet asked him to relieve them of a tax burden, he had the man’s fingers cut off so that he could not count the money, and therefore not worry about how much he had to pay. When the villagers threatened to go to Petar about this he had the entire village razed. He also had many acts of perversions marked against his name: when a female courtier turned down his advances, he had her strung up naked, whipped by cat-o-nine-tails, and then allowed his personal guard have their way with her.

pic030ze.jpg

Bernardin Subics, a noble with few morals, and an ever shrinking loyalty to the king

The other nobles begged Petar to do something about this as soon as he had returned from the war. Petar was furious that his people had been treated this way. He sent many letters to Subics ordering him to cease. Shortly afterward, Stanislava’s spies brought back disturbing news: Subics was planning on revolting against the kingdom. The Usora noble’s megalomania had gone too far.

Now, Petar took his spy master’s advice to heart. Spies were dispatched to Usora, and it was said that Stanislava knew more about the happenings in the county than the birds. Eventually a deal was made with Subics’ wife. The marriage had been arranged and she was not happy with her husband’s doings, and in fact made it a point to send her son to a separate castle so he could not be tainted by his father’s evil. Stanislava agreed to spare her and her son if she gave information on Subics’ guard and daily routine. Now, a dangerous plan was set: kill Bernardin Subics and end his reign in Usora.

The plan was risky - if discovered, Petar would be have a tarnished name across Europe, and loyalty among his nobles may decrease. However, there seemed to be no other option, and Stanislava was very confident in her plan. Petar gave it the go, and orders were dispatched to the royal spies in Usora.

It was March 4, 1075, Subics conducted one of his ritual orgies. He and many court allies would gather in the main hall where prostitutes - or those forced against their will - came in and committed their duty. This time, however, all the women had been paid by Stanislava. The orgy went on for almost an hour before suddenly, reaching into her dispatched clothes, a whore took out a dagger and stabbed Subics in the throat. With bloody fury she continued to stab at him, even though he was by all means dead. It was then that the other women pulled out similarly hidden weapons and killed their partners. The guards, positioned outside, rushed in only to be ambushed. The morning was eerily quiet - as a unit of soldiers marched in to exchange with the guards, they found the bloody spectacle.

pic043mj.jpg

Success!

With Petar’s grace Subics’ son, Dobromir, ascended as the new Count of Usora.

pic057jz.jpg

The new - and quite young - count

The Subics saga was not over quiet yet. One of the Count’s court allies who did not go to the orgy on account of a sickness planned revenge. He himself went to Petar’s castle and broke into one of his children’s rooms. Efrosina, one of Petar’s infant daughters, lay there sleeping soundly. The man prepared to dispatch the child and move on to the next when suddenly the child began to cry. A hand maiden rushed in and screamed herself. The assassin tried to dispatch her but was taken down by Petar, rushing in to check on his daughter. The king of Croatia drew his sword and plunged it into the man’s chest. Petar himself resolved the Usora question once and for all.
 

unmerged(33638)

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Excellent, I take it that the young boy will not be so disloyal always.

where are the kings bastards by the way????? :D
 

Brownbeard

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Amusing, but a few tiny details. Zagreb, our todays capital did not exist in 11.ct. It was founded later after the bishopric at Kaptol merged with the settlement of Gradec. The bishopric was historicaly founded by the Arpads in 1094. during the war of succession.

Prior to Ottoman invasion in 15./16. century the core of Croatia was in the south. Petars capital was at Sibenik(which is in Zadar province) and most of the population was in CKs Zadar, Split and Zachlumia provinces. North was almost unpopulated until the Tatar invasion was repelled in mid 13.ct.

And about the Subics. Congratulations you erased one of the most significant dynasties in Croatian, Bosnian and Hungarian history. ;)
 

stnylan

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Nothing like a deniable massacre to get peoples' attentions. Excellent so far.