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TreizeV

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This will be a slow paced AAR that I will update when I can. With my huge work of Vive L'Empereur, I think it’s good to take a break once in a while and write another AAR that interests me. The fight against Louis XIV and his ambitions to conquer europe (Gasp, a non french AAR from me!)

This game starts in 1672, the Raampjaar (or disaster year for the dutch), and I will be playing as the Netherlands, covering the Franco-dutch wars and hopefully the coalition wars up to 1718 :D

Enjoy!



Prologue

Holland: The Jewel of Europe​



The second half of the Seventeenth century represented the golden age of Holland, which was the name used to describe the seven united provinces of the Northern Netherlands which broke away from Spanish rule in the late Sixteenth Century. Unlike their neighbors, the Dutch were a republic, with elected representatives that met at the States-General, the governing body of the Netherlands. With a tense teeming population of two million people crowded into a small area, Holland was by far the most urbanized and economically advanced country in Europe, boasting the world’s first full time stock exchange.

Not surprisingly, the prosperity of Holland attracted the envy of many neighbors, and this lead to a series of wars with England and Spain. Against these odds, the Dutch, with their limited resources, fought in a way which was practical, yet desperately and sublimely heroic. To maintain their independence, the republic fielded one of the best trained armies in Europe, as well as the second largest fleet in the world.


The Battle of Texel: Second Anglo-Dutch War

The wealth of Holland came from its ingenuity and trade. In the rest of Europe, most of the population was generally tied to the land, whereas in Holland, one simple farmer could produce enough to feed two of his other citizens, freeing them for other activities as sixteenth century Holland excelled in commerce, industry and shipping.

This was the real source of Holland’s wealth, for the seventeenth century was the age of Dutch mercantilism. The two great sister ports of the age were Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which were located at the mouths of the famous Rhine River and Europe’s link to the oceans. With these rivers as the great highways of Europe, almost everything that passed in and out of Europe had to go through Amsterdam, this included Swedish Iron, Chinese silks, Spanish Wool, Russian Furs, English Tin, Danish Timber, Indian Spices and Teas. All had to go through the Netherlands for grading, packaging, sorting, weaving, sorting, before finally being shipped out to the rest of Europe.

To carry these goods, Holland had the world’s largest merchant fleet, larger than the rest of the world combined. With offices in almost every major port in the world, the Dutch East India company dominated the trade routes, which Holland had inherited from Spain. As these ships sailed around the world with their cargoes, Holland became richer and richer, so much so that young men from all over Europe came to the Amsterdam to study the Dutch method of commerce and mercantilism.

It was towards this glittering Mecca of Commerce, Wealth and Power that the Sun King, Louis XIV, had laid his eyes on.

(next update soon)
 

comagoosie

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Is this going to be a gameplay AAR or a narrative, either way I will read and comment :D
 

TreizeV

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April 27, 1672 - Versailles


The palace at Versailles was bustling in activity, and the thunderous sounds of nervous footsteps echoed throughout the gilded halls of Europe’s greatest palace. Under the crystal chandeliers and gold emblazoned doors, servants and courtiers ran about, some carrying vases filled with carefully pre-arranged tulips for the gardens and others holding priceless paintings and cutlery. The King was holding one of his famous balls tonight, and already a line of carriages were waiting outside in a line that stretched for a fifth of a mile. They were the Nobles and Dukes from all over France, and tonight, Versailles would represent the complete concentration of power of a single kingdom under one room, where nobles from all over the kingdom were summoned to court. Such was the way of King Louis.

The King himself was a country man, and in the first years of his reign, he had "traveled back and forth between Paris and the Great Royal Chateaux outside the city, but Kings of France, especially great kings, had built palaces to reflect their own personal glory. So Louis ordered his chief architect, Le Vau, to build. The work had taken fifteen years, at the cost of thousands of lives and millions of francs, but by the time it was done, Louis had the greatest palace in the world. There were no ramparts, Louis had purposely built this palace in the open country, completely undefended, to demonstrate the absolute power of a monarch who needed no moats or walls to protect his person.

Covering over one fifth of a mile, the Palace contained enormous public galleries, council chambers, libraries, ball rooms, private apartments, a private chapel, not to mention dozens of stairways, corridors and ballrooms. The decoration was said to have been the most conspicuous consumption of art since the days of Rome. Throughout the palace, gold and velvet covered the walls, which were paneled in marble. Around the corridors, were statues, priceless paintings and carvings, often in the shape of the flaming sun of Apollo. Artists such as Raphael, Titan, Rubens and Van Dyck all had their works of art displayed in Versailles, it was even said that Louis had the Mona Lisa hanging in his very own room.

This dominating and glorious atmosphere was appreciated with awe by the nobles as they entered the palace gardens, each one in their own personal carriage. There, a small army of valets attended to their needs, opening doors, and announcing the guests who had arrived. It was a mix of nobles, some minor, and others famed throughout Europe.

One such Royal Carriage arrived with an escort of blue-uniformed French dragoons. As it stopped in front of the palace, a guard riding a horse beside the carriage dismounted and opened the side of the carriage to reveal an expensive and lavish interior.

"Announcing Henri de la Tour d'Auvergne, Vicomte de Turenne.” The doorman shouted in a firm voice as the man left his coach.

The Marshal nodded politely at the doorman as he made his way into the Palace. He was a huge man, with a well built body and a face darkened by years of campaigning. Though he was of noble blood, he rejected the luxurious trappings of that station had devoted his life to training his body and honing his skills at war.

He first took the field in the great Dutch revolt, fighting as a captain under the Great Dutch Captain Frederick of Nassau. Spurred by the chance of promotion, he joined the French Army in 1630, where Cardinal Richelieu promoted him on the spot to Colonel. From then on his rise was meteoric.

Having fought and won several prominent victories in the 30 years war, such Breisach and Nordlingen, he became a field marshal. Then, when Louis XIV reached his majority, the field marshal smashed his rival, the famed Conde, securing Louis his throne and for the marshal, his gratitude.

Marhsal Turenne entered the banquet hall in the palace, which was quickly becoming crowded with guests. The busy sounds of servants were suddenly muffled out by the wave of conversations that filled the ball. Mixed in with that, was the distinct and soft melody of a violin quartet, which played with skilled precision for the benefit of the crowds of dancing men and women as the ball began.

As the Marshal made his way through the ball, he gave brief nods and salutes to various officers he saw on the dance floor. It was an odd sight, the Marshal thought, such pomp and pageantry for the men on the eve of a war.

He himself had brought along a friend of his, François Michel le Tellier, Marquis de Louvois . He was a general and diplomat and a good friend that Turenne could trust.

Holding the position of Secretary of State for war, It was Louvois who supervised the reorganization of the French Army, from the formerly undisciplined bands of mercenaries and corrupt contractors, the French army was now the first one to be organized by professional regiments of soldiers loyal to the king. Aside from discipline, Louvois also made sure France's army was the best armed and fed. Huge portable ovens and a system of depots and fortresses allowed France's armies mobility no other European army had enjoyed, and the production of the new flintlock muskets and bayonets made the French army a formidable foe on any battlefield.

They walked shortly to the table and on the way were greeted by a courtier carrying a tray of appetizers and wine glasses.

"Messieurs Turenne, Louvois? Would you gentlemen like some refreshment?" the waiter asked in a heavily accented French voice.

"Yes, please, and please advise his majesty that Marshal Turenne and Monsieur Louvois have arrived." said Marshal Turenne.

The courtier gave a slight bow, skillfully balancing the many delicacies on his platter. "Of course messieurs, the King is expecting you. Please, make your way to the grand table."

Turrenne gave the courtier a nod to show that he could go, but not before relieving the courtier of a glass of Chateau de Ferrand.

Turenne and Louvois moved to the table and sat down. King Louis was indeed chatting away at the table, along with another guest, Lady Mariana, a countess from Bearn that had recently been the talk of the court. To the Marshal, she seemed the epitome of many a youthful passion he could recall from his earlier days. Indeed, rumors passed throughout Versailles, some calling her a 'Pocket Venus'. It was no surprise to anyone that she was sitting next to the King tonight.

"Ah, it is good to see you Monsieur Turenne, Louvois," Louis XIV said in French, delightfully clapping away at the nearby orchestra which, on the kings command, now switched into the more uplifting music as the orechestra switched into a pastorale.

"Thank you sire." The two men took a swift bow before the King. "I do hope we haven't arrived at an inconvenient time."

"Nonsense Messieurs." The King said lightly as he brushed Madame Mariana away. The Countess nodded obediently, quickly getting to her feet, but not before the King pulled her towards his shoulder and whispered something into her ears, and the king was quickly repaid by a small giggle from the countess as she blew the king a kiss before departing.

"Now then Gentlemen, to affairs of state. I am sure you have met my friend here?" Louis asked, gesturing towards another general who sat next to the king. "He is one of your associates is he not Louvois?"

Marshal De Luxembourg nodded at his benefactor, for it was Louvois who had secured the Marshal a command in the upcoming campaign.

"This is François Henri de Montmorency-Bouteville, the Count of Luxembourg and general of its armies."

"Bonjour, Messieurs" he said politely in French, nodding towards the two men as they sat down. The food came in a few minutes later and they began their feast. From the kitchens, came plates of soups, salads, pheasants, pastries, mutton and fruit. The Marshal himself had a bisque served to him as he sat.

"Sire, I am pleased to be hear at this banquet but I am wondering, what are we here for?" Turenne asked.

Louis, famous for his love of food, put down the roasted partridge on his plate and wiped his hands on the napkins. "My dear General, always to the point. It is good that you do not wander from the matter at hand. My purpose in bringing you here is simple," he began.

"Two days ago I received a letter from Johan de Witt of the United Provinces, he wishes my support for his faction in the coming election in the States-General. He proposes a renewal of the treaty of friendship and commerce to solidify his position."

"Against the young William I presume?" Louvois asked curiously. Every diplomat or politician in Europe knew of the internal strife of the United Provinces, and paid particular close attention to the struggle between the De Witt faction and the House of Orange, both vying for supreme power in the parliament.

"The States General promises us their support for our claims in Franche Compte against Spain." Louis said bitterly. Just five years ago, the French armies had successfully torn Franche Compte away from the Spaniards, but the success and speed of the French conquests had frightened the Dutch, so much so that they had turned on their former friends, then the French, and forced them to sign a treaty giving the territories away, or be threatened by an even larger war involving England and Sweden. With a heavy heart, Louis signed away the region, but was allowed to keep Lille and the border fortresses south of Spanish Belgium.

It was an insult he would not forget.

"Yes, I have heard much of this proposal, the Dutch ambassadors have been regular visitors to court nowadays. It seems the de Witts are growing quite desperate, enough to even give up what they had taken from us five years ago."

"Yes," said the King. "I have been thinking of what action to take and decided to bring the matter to you, Louvois, and now that you are here, Turenne, you as well."

Louis put down his own food and began to speak.

"We have tolerated the Dutch perfidy long enough, years ago when our armies came to assist them against the Spanish, we fought as common allies, and helped liberate them and establish their government. We lived as neighbours for the last few decades and watched as the Dutch grow rich and fat off our people's hard work and labour. It is time gentlemen. Holland is not only an affront to France's greatness, but it is also a sin against her religion. She must be dealt with."

"Delenda est Amsterdam." Louis finished off rather amusingly in latin.

"Indeed sire," said de Luxembourg. "If this is the case, I would also recommend making overtures to the English, as well as their allies. I am sure they would be as eager to have at their main commercial competitor."

Louvois nodded. "I have had the pleasure of dining with Lord Arlington of the English foreign Ministry. He tells me that King Charles is more than willing to ratify his part in the treaty." The 'treaty' in question, was the treaty of Dover, negotiated in secret for years as a defensive alliance between France and England.

"My staff have been going over the details these past few days, but I believe his majesty Charles II requires a considerable sum of funds and a detachment of 6,000 troops at his disposal. This will free him from depending on the actions of his parliament considerably."

"Charles wishes to have me pay for his soldier's accroutements again I see." Louis gave a weary sigh. "Sometimes I do believe why we bother with the English at all, if they have not prepared the proper finances to deploy their own fleet."

"They are the only ones with enough ships to challenge the Dutch sire." Turenne added.

"Yes, beggars cannot be choosers. Very well Louvois, see to it that Charles gets his funds, so long as his cannon keep the Dutch fleet occupied."

"And on the other front sire?" De Luxembourg remarked. "I hear that Brandenburg has recently signed an alliance with the Dutch. And there is also Austria."

"That would be your department General. I myself would like to put in some imput," the King said. "Brandenburg is detached and removed from our theatre of war. It is highly unlikely that Emperor Leopold would allow their armies to march freely within the Empire, at least, not without some disturbance."

"The Dutch sire." Louvois countered. "also have ambassadors in Vienna pleading for an alliance."

"You see gentlemen? How can we trust these people when they offer friendship on one hand, and stab us in the back with the other?" Louis said in disgust. "Austria will not move, it is almost certain. I hear the turks are acting up again in the Balkans, and Leopold is no fool to move his army several hundred miles to the Rhine while the Ottoman is eyeing Hungary."

"Indeed," said De Luxembourg.

"And the Spaniards sire?" Turenne asked.

"Spain is weaker than Holland and their armies in Belgium are in serious disarray. They have been at war across all of Europe with dozens of states for years. They will be demoralized and exhausted. France Compte and Brabrant will be easier targets than Holland though you may not think so." De Luxembourg said in a confident tone.

Before Turenne could even respond to that accusation, Louis had already cut in.

"Brilliant gentlemen. Brilliant, get this on paper quickly and I will send this out to every general so that he is prepared for the coming storm." The Sun King casually stabbed his dinner knife down and proceeded to finish the last of his partridge

"Now..." the King said as he stared at the young Mariana who was waiting patiently by the corridor leading to the king's private suites... "I believe it is time to retire. Good night, gentlemen, I wish you the pleasures of the night. Enjoy the party."

"Thank you, your majesty," Louvois gratefully concluded.

"Yes, thank you," put in Turenne

The King walked off and Turenne took a glimpse at the Lady Mariana.

"Charming woman, isn't she?" The Marshal replied.

"The King certainly thinks so." Louvois shook his head, already used to the palace intrigues of Versailles.

There was much work to do.


***
 
Last edited:

TreizeV

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CapibaraThanks Capibara, there's more to come! ;D

comagoosie Although there will be some gameplay elements in some updates, this is mostly a narrative AAR. I dunno, i just enjoy writing them!

rcduggan Welcome aboard rcduggan ;) hope you enjoy the show!
 

Sir Humphrey

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Great stuff indeed. Rip roaring.
 

Elias Tarfarius

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Vive le Roi! :cool:

Good choice in change from your usual Napoleonic exploits. Will be reading.
 

coz1

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Oh yeah! A new TreizeV AAR. I like that you are staying around France but looking in instead of out as in Vive L'Emperor. And the Dutch are always fun to play. I'm looking forward to the rest of it. Already we are off to a great start. :)
 

Deamon

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Yes! A new TreizeV AAR, and with my home country to makes me so happy! Will certainly follow this.
 

unmerged(86922)

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I love 1600- to end of game aars!!!!!
 

TreizeV

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The Hague, Amsterdam - May 1672

William paced restlessly back and forth through the wooden halls of the States-General, the seat of government in the United Provinces. He had been waiting for the better part of five hours now, and even the guards at the door seemed to shudder at every step that echoed through the huge empty halls. Behind the large oak doors, which William had found himself staring at, the representatives from all the seven provinces had convened for a special session regarding the appointment of the Prince of Orange as Captain-General of the armies of the republic.

It was a tedious process, one that had stretched back to before William’s birth. Normally a member of the House of Orange held the nominal title of Stadtholder over the Netherlands. William’s father had attempted to expand upon that title to include power over the military, which the regents heavily resisted, deeming it superfluous to the Stadtholder title. Ultimately, William II tried and failed to obtain it, besieging Amsterdam but dying before he could finish his work, and leaving his newborn son at the mercy of the regents, who purposely left the Stadtholder position vacant. Instead, the Grand Pensionary, Johan de Witt, became the de facto ruler of the country.

It had always seemed, to William, that from childhood he was doomed to a life of internal exile, for it was the De Witts which had managed his education and activities. His favourite tutors were removed, his friends barred from seeing him, and his finances in disarray. It was no exaggeration that William had felt lonely in his childhood, especially since the death of his mother.

Now however, with the impending collapse of the Triple Alliance (England, Sweden, Netherlands) and rumors of Charles’ intent to declare war on the Netherlands had driven the legislature into a panic. It was this moment of crisis that had made many of William’s former enemies turn to the House of Orange like terrified children, hoping for the salvation they provided a century before. The deputies of Zeeland being the first in proposing that William be elected Captain General.

More vehement arguments echoed from behind the door, and William shook his head in disgust, for no doubt the Loevesteiner party would oppose it vehemently, being long time enemies of the House of Orange. The things politicians would do, even when the fate of their country was at stake.

Not that William altogether had a great notion of what he was getting into. He was twenty two, and had little to no military experience. He had never led men into a storm of bullets nor had he experienced the baptism of fire. This was not to say that the Prince was lacking in any positive traits, as all his tutors and courtiers had praised him for his sharp intellect and pragmatism.

His thoughts were quickly disturbed as he felt a burning sensation in his lungs. William’s chest tightened into a vice grip and the young Prince soon found himself unable to breath. It was an ailment he had known since he was young, the shortness of breath, and the fire in his chest.

“Quickly now!” A voice shouted at the dumbfounded guards. “For god’s sakes! Open the windows!”

Within seconds, the huge windows that illuminated the hallway with sunlight were opened, and William inhaled deeply, the fresh cool air that flowed into the room.

“You musn’t exert yourself too much my prince.” Count Bentinck, a page and close friend of the Prince, propped William up with his shoulder. Born in 1649, the young prince was one of William’s greatest friends. A rather handsome man with reddish blond hair, he also shared a mutual love of field sports and art with the Prince.

“Perhaps we should have a walk outside? To clear the head?” Bentinck offered helpfully.

“Your concern is noted my friend, but it is not appropriate. Protocol requires us to wait until the council has adjourned.” William said with a thin voice, not having fully recovered from the Asthma.

“Yes,” Bentinck said with disdain, “By then we will all be speaking French instead of Dutch. Lose a war just because they can’t decide on the season to appoint a captain-general!”

“No doubt De Witt will remind the deputies of the actions of your father. God rest his soul. But they require a committee just to promote you to colonel!” Bentinck finished off in outrage.

“It is much worse than that my friend. The De Witts still believe the French can be reconciled. I can tell the States-General one thing I learned from my visit to England. And that is my uncle is intent on imposing his will on us by force.” William recalled bitterly when he pressed his uncle, King Charles II, to exert pressure on the States-General to appoint him Captain General, even offering Charles an alliance and a promise to help further England’s commercial and political interests. To this, the English diplomats simply replied with a series of smooth and profitless speeches that brought nothing but loss of time.

At that moment, the double doors to the council chamber had swung open. There was a flurry of noise as the deputies emerged into the hall, each man trailed by at another holding a pad of notes and paper.

In the centre of the crowd, was Johan de Witt, and William briefly nodded in acknowledgement to the Grand Pensionary of the Netherlands. An experienced statesman of considerable eminence for almost twenty years, De witt gave the appearance of a tall, serious and scholarly man, who had a reputation in the field of mathematics as well as statecraft.

“Greetings my prince, I trust that the day has gone well for you?” Johan nodded respectfully towards William.

“It would sir, if the council has reached a decision regarding my appointment?”

The politician put on a look of concern. “Of course my dear William, you must know, I have been championing your cause from the beginning, despite the efforts of the Loevesteiners. They are arguing on the basis of the old law of 1657, where Captain Generals must have attained the age of 21.”

“I have attained that majority already last year.” William replied flatly.

“Is that so? Well then I shall have to inform the deputies at the earliest opportunity. But they were anxious, so I have already proposed a compromise. You will be declared the exception to the rule. The states general will be willing to overlook your inexperience and age. You will be appointed for a single campaign this year.” The Grand Pensionary finished with a friendly smile.

“That is impossible sir.” Bentinck protested vehemently. “The campaigning season has already begun, by the time the Prince has reorganized the regiments, and the navy, it will be well into September.”

William lifted up his hand, and gently bade his friend quiet.

“Although I do hold the states general in the highest regard, this is a compromise that I cannot accept. Perhaps I can offer another suggestion.” William replied.

“And that would be my good prince?” De Witt said sympathetically.

“Appoint me Captain-General for this summer, so I can oversee the reorganization of the army. Then next year, I shall assume command.”

“A rather bold proposal William,” Johan admitted. “But this too, will have to be petitioned before the states-general.”

“Then at least allow me to oversee the rearming of the troops while they convene.” The Prince of Orange suggested.

Johan sighed, masking perhaps a deep contempt for the naïve prince. “Perhaps you are rushing into this too hastily my prince. You should not trust so eagerly the rumors you are hearing. France has no reason to fight against the Triple Alliance. That issue has been settled years ago.”

Indeed, Johan thought, the French conquest of the Netherlands would be inimical to English interests. Even the English were not bellicose enough to let a fellow protestant neighbour fall to the Catholics.

“To ask me to mobilize the troops and incur the expenses of providing for them, as well as halt all the merchant shipments coming from the Rhine and Atlantic. How can I justify it to the burgomasters that I disrupted their finances for a false alarm? Or worse yet, what if a mobilization exacerbates the risk of conflict?”

William replied bluntly.

“Allow me to offer another scenario sir, one where our troops are unprepared, and the armies of our enemies occupying the republic without so much a bullet fired or a fight.”

“Or how about one where the soldiers of both countries remain in their barracks and commerce continues as normal. I believe that is two favourable scenarios to one my good prince.” The grand pensionary said with a tone of amusement.

“It is a gamble sir, I admit, but when one’s country and life are involved, how can you choose otherwise?” William said coolly.

Johan De Witt smiled, turning back to his assistants. “I really do miss our old discussions my good prince. Your father would be proud to see that you have grown so much in your view of the world. But what you are proposing is no different from mine, it is simply a matter of probability. I will of course, forward your proposal to the states-general. Until then my Prince, adieu.”

With that, the delegates of the Grand Pensionary left the hallway, leaving the Prince and Bentinck alone.

“You were right Bentinck, this was a waste of time.” William said bitterly.

“They will come to their senses my Prince.” The count replied helpfully. “in time.”

“I am afraid that even that is a luxury we cannot afford my friend.” William said despondently.

With that, the two men left the Hague, to the royal carriages waiting for them outside. The sun was now dipping in the horizon, casting a pale orange light through the clear sky.

It was dusk now, and the last of the fishermen and traders were busy unloading the rest of their cargo, and men cursed as they navigated their carts through the busy and narrow streets of Amsterdam, eager to get the last shipment of cod and halibut to the warehouses before the end of the day.

Unbeknownst to them, a light breeze swept through the city, followed by the light pitter-patter of rain as the low growl of thunder echoed in the distance.

A storm cloud was brewing in the west.
 
Last edited:

TreizeV

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Sir Humphrey Thank you sir humphrey, always a pleasure to have you aboard :D

CatKnight thank you! ;D though i may not completely agree with that statement lol

Elias Tarfarius Nice to see you again Elias, yes! Its good to write something other than Napoleon for a change :D

coz1 Thanks coz1! I cannot thank you enough for having put up with my absences and writing for the last few years ;) I'm very honored to have you aboard here :D always a pleasure

Deamon Thank you ;) I will do my best sir in doing the netherlands justice!

mad general I completely agree! I think it has to do that by the 1600s, high explosives and bullets come into play far more than pikes ;) much more fun to read about hehe.
 

coz1

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Indeed. They'll come begging for him when the French attack.
 

SerFranke

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What a great start. Normally, I prefer gameplay AAR's; but this one will surely be worth following...
 

TreizeV

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London - May 15th 1672

The halls of Parliament echoed as William made his way towards the council chambers. It was early morning, and already the city was awake with activity, carriages jostled for position in the narrow streets, while the theatres, pubs and coffee shops opened for business, drawing crowds from all walks of life.

The trip to London was a rather unpleasant experience for William, one of much pomp and ceremony for the young Prince, but yet it was a welcome distraction from the weeks of useless speeches and empty promises of the States General he had been used to. Leaving Bentinck in Amsterdam to plead his case to the council, he had taken the opportunity to pay a visit to England. The official reason, which the Dutch ambassador had given his grace the King Charles II, was for the settlement of a debt the Stuarts owed to the House of Orange since the days when they seeked political asylum with William's Father. For William however, the more important matter at hand was to gauge whether or not England was bent towards war.

As William traveled across London, this hardly seemed the case. Having experienced their own Civil War just under thirty years ago, it seemed the citizenry of London were more interested in passing time in the alehouses and drawing rooms of the city than mobilizing for a general war.

William himself, was never particularly fond of London. Unlike the symmetrical and practically designed Dutch cities, London was a city of extremes. The city was a place of filth and disease, with piles of waste and excrement filling the narrow streets and alleyways as citizens callously dumped their garbage from their balconies. It was also a violent and cruel city, with coarse cruel pleasures that claimed many an innocent life. The dark alleys, indeed, were a world unto their own.

Yet for all its derogatory cruelness, London was also a city of extreme grace and beauty. Recovering from the great fire, the English had taken the opportunity to construct dozens of breathtaking cathedrals, designed by the great Sir Christoper Wren, the greatest of them all, St. Paul's, dominating the skyline.

In general, William was satisfied with his stay so far. Charles II spared no expense for his nephew, paying for all his expenses at the Newmarket races and supplying him with the finest suites and meals of the city. The Prince himself, used these opportunities to become acquainted with the leading politicians of England, such as Lord Halifax, Sir Thomas Osborne, and the Earl of Alrington. Yet despite all this, the visit was proving as fruitless as the previous journeys to England the Prince had endured, indeed, the mood between the Dutch and English embassies was growing quite tense, as talk of the end of the Alliance and of future hostilities filled the halls of Parliament.

In navigating this uncertain environment, he was lucky in his old host and friend, Thomas Butler, the Earl of Ossory, who had entertained William on his first visit to England.

William paused at a massive studded door, allowing the two redcoated guards to open the door for him before he strode in. It was a large room, almost empty save for the bookcases that covered the walls. Two rigid armchairs had been pulled up close, occupied by a black-suited man. William stared down beyond the chairs, saw a large map of England weighted down over a table, wooden blocks supporting colourful painted flags that denoted the position of troops in the kingdom.

"Thomas, thank you for seeing me at this early hour." William said, holding out his hand which the Earl of Ossory cordially shook briefly in acknowledgment.

"It is my pleasure my good Prince." Ossory replied cheerfully, despite their age difference, almost sixteen years, their friendship had been quite close and informal. "Perhaps you can oblige me again by joining me on a hunt this afternoon? The foxes are quite active this time of year."

"Of course," William nodded, "but first there is the matter of business at hand."

"Yes, your impending crisis with the French Kingdom, You are not the only one worried William, the merchants and burgomasters have been sending their own delegates to Parliament. Word has it the Spanish may become embroiled as well." Spain, under the frail and physically weak Carlos II, had lost her place in the pedestal of the great powers after the thirty years war. Although still a force to be reckoned with, the condition of its king left many statesmen and diplomats worried throughout Europe, for Carlos did not have an heir. And Louis was looking for any opportunity to tear some strips from the ailing empire.

"It is sad to say, but Spain's famed tercios are not made of the same meddle as the ones who conquered half the known world." Ossory gave the tribute in an ironic tone.

"And England Thomas?" William asked.

Ossory gave a weary sigh. "You must know William, I have done everything in my power to press your case to the King. I believe that the United Provinces can be an invaluable ally and trading partner to England, but the King is badly advised in this matter."

"But will it mean war Thomas? My country can understand if England wants no part in conflict, considering your recent history, but we must know if we can count on England to not betray the alliance." William paused. "Present company excepted of course."

Ossory gave a small chuckle. "No offense taken William, you speak the truth. The intrigues of Parliament are more subtle than that of the Ottoman Porte, it is difficult at this point to see where the true policy of the country is heading."

"It's present course is certainly nothing to celebrate about." William said gloomily.

"Perhaps you should petition the King? Surely King Charles himself has no ill feelings towards the Provinces. Not after the services your house rendered for the Stuarts?"

"I did, I have offered everything in terms of concessions, short of slavery, if he had supported my election for Stadt-holder, even the issue of trade. The King still has not given me a reply." William, without the knowledge of De Witt, had secretly sent Sir Gabriel Sylvius, his former secretary, to Charles in hopes of forging a secret treaty, but even that had been in vain.

"Perhaps you are thinking too much of this my prince. I know of many influential people in Parliament who are sympathetic to your cause. Lord Halifax for one, is sympathetic to your cause."

"Sympathies can only go so far Thomas, what the Netherlands needs now is action, not empty speeches and promises."

"Then I am afraid you came to the wrong place to look for them my friend. For what is Parliament but that?" Ossory gave a wry smile. "I will see what I can do for you, the King after all, lends his ears to all his advisers."

At this, Ossory stood up and gestured towards the door to William.

"Now then my prince, now that you are here, perhaps you can give me the pleasure of your company at breakfast? We are preparing a reception for the ambassadors of Muscovy, in anticipation of the birth of a new Tsar. No doubt we can take some Pheasant for ourselves." The Earl said gleefully as he guided the young prince towards the door. "The Diplomatic corps of England can at least render one useful service to the famed Prince of Orange."

William nodded appreciatively, following his friend and reflecting on his friend's words. The King may lend his ears to his advisors, but which one's advice would he follow?



Political Situation, May 1672
 

TreizeV

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coz1 Yes, its not a far stretch to say the politicans operate much like weathervanes. ;)

Jape Thank you kindly jape! The struggle ahead will be difficult for sure.

RedBaron1918 Thank you for reading! and don't worry, there will be some non-narrative posts as we go along
 

coz1

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William would do best to work a little on as many advisors as he can. Well that, and simply enjoy his time in London while he's there.