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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

IamWhoa

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Part III: Are they Normans?


PARTIIIROUTE.jpg



Duke Arnau of Barcelona was rather perplexed by the shabby band of visitors before him. They claimed to be Breton, a people Arnau had scantly heard of. Yet their leader spoke almost flawless French – making communication rather easy.

“They remind me of Normans,” Arnau’s chief Marshal said, ominously.

Perhaps he’s right, Arnau thought. If they are anything like Normans, Barcelona could end up like Apulia – taken from within by obstinate mercenaries.

“I wouldn’t give them the time of day under your banner, if I may humbly suggest,” Arnau’s Marshal said.

At this point, that is obvious, but surely there is some use we can extract from these...Bretons.

They are certainly well armed: well made hauberks, swords, two-piece helmets-


“While we still can, we should lure them away with a fight, assuming they are like typical Normans. Hopefully they shall not return. Their presence in your realm is a disaster waiting to happen!”

Yes, but to where? To the Emirates in the south? Hah! I would sign my death warrant with such a move.


With a now portentous voice, the Marshal spoke once more- “The Mallorcan pirates ought to make good of em’.”

Now the Marshal is proving insightful. To send these brigands to Mallorca would be the best course of action. For starters, the Bretons would be taken far away from Barcelona. Perhaps as an added bonus, they may even take the islands! Perfect! The Mallorcan raiders have ravaged the Barcelonan coastline for ages. If the Bretons are anything like Normans, the Moors won’t know what hit them!


***​


As Arnau’s thoughts descended into whimsical fantasy and strategy, a different voice broke his day dream-

“So when may we expect a decision, Duke Arnau?” spoke Alan in a courtly fashion.

Taking a moment to examine the Breton Duke, Arnau answered as if his better- “I do not believe we are in need of your services. Though it is much appreciated.”

Alan’s eyes closed in restrained frustration.

Aranau continued- “Though, if it is some kind of war you seek, there is plenty to be found in the east. Mallorca is a thorn in our side, nay– an infected wound in the groin.”

Amidst the chuckling and murmurs he had evoked, Aranau’s tone began to become more friendly and welcoming-

“If you could pacify those lands for us, my Kingdom would be in great debt to you.”

Alan’s defeated expression lifted– “I’ll see what I can do, Duke Arnau.”

Arnau’s tone shifted into manufactured excitement-

“Good, I’ll have supplies arranged for you! It is quite a distance after all! I'll even enlist the services of other mercenaries for you!”

Always toss the garbage in one go.


BARCELONA.jpg
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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That could be quite a shrewd move. Only time will tell.
 

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Mettermrck: I'm going to have to play further to see how this might develop.

stnylan: We will see. ;)

Enewald: Not quite strong enough for that, though your enthusiasm is noted :D

Note- This next update is going to be rather long, compared to the others. Hopefully it will be exciting.
 

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Part IV: The Balearic Islands


It had been two days since the Breton fleet reached the large island of Mallorca. The genius commander, Abdul-Qadir Abdullah, wearily studied his foe from walls of Palma. He was terribly unsure of just how many Christians had just shown up on the door of the Mallorcan Emirate but already, those encamped on the shore outnumbered the Moorish defense.

As Abdul paced the battlements, each pass more urgent and frustrated, the 12 year old Emir of Mallorca, Hvlamir al-Amiri walked up to his side. In the shade of the towering Abdul-Qadir, the young boy was unsure just how serious the problem was.

“When you defeat them, will you still return in time for my studies?” the Emir naively asked.

“Of course, Emir al-Amiri. I have never been late – have I?” Abdul responded with cheer.

Secure and at ease in ignorance, the boy quickly ran off. Abdul’s smile soon evaporated.

After taking a moment to answer the call to prayer, Abdul returned to the walls. Seemingly at peace with himself, he immediately summoned the army to the gates. When a subordinate commander asked just how he was to defeat the enemy amassing at the shore, Abdul solemnly replied, “All my life, I have yet to be defeated, either by that of Christians or Muslims – but on this October morning, I lack the confidence that should give me. We shall see what Allah, in his mercy, has in store for us.”


Mallorca1100Army.jpg

***​

Alan studied the spectacle of battle before him. The Moors had lined up parallel to his own troops, laxly firing various shot into the Breton ranks. While the chain-mail and spectacular heraldry of his nobles sparkled and radiated color, their counterparts across the field bore simple, yet practical wear for the Mediterranean heat. Whilst the Bretons cheered and shouted, the Moors were largely silent – save for horns used in directing movement. As a particularly impetuous Breton ran into the middle of the field, bellowing the Song of Rolland, the men across the way looked on without amusement. Before long, it was clear that the battle was imminent – the waning twang of bows being its prophet. Alan turned to Brient Penteur, who had been directing much of the movement for Alan.

“Are we set to advance?” Alan asked.

Though typically lethargic, Brient spoke with tremendous energy and power, he was clearly looking forward to the battle-

“I’d say so, my boy. We outnumber them by a good bit, though this is your first pitched battle, I think you can take it from here. I’ve told Count Louis to flank them soon after we clash – it’s why they have the remaining horses, you see.”

As Alan began to nod in recognition, Brient quickly added-

“The Moors are a tricky lot, just be wary.”

Unsure of whether he should be reassured or frightened, Alan slowly raised his hand – periodically glancing towards Brient with uncertainty.

When the signal was given, banners were raised, horns sounded, and invigorated battle-cries echoed.


PART4BATTLEPALMA.jpg

***

Those few moments before the clash of the two armies, Alan felt lost in eternity. As any of his heros would have, Alan walked at the head of the army, fabricating the most confident look he could conjure. Despite Alan’s efforts, with each moment he took to look at Brient, the old man would nod with assurance – completely aware of the terror brewing in Alan’s mind.

As soon as the Moors were but a few paces away from Alan, sporadic fighting could be heard up and down the line. Before long, a cascade of shrieks and clashing metal thundered across the field. Mesmerized by the hellish sounds, it took the striking back hand of Brient to snap him out of it.

“Hah! Don’t get caught day-dreaming boy! Follow my lead.”

With a vigorous cry the old man charged into the fray. To Alan’s horror, Brient was knocked down almost immediately but as quickly as he had fallen, the aged Marshal jumped to his feet – hacking off the arm the warrior that accosted him. Alan rushed to his side, soon finding himself in combat of his own.

To the steady music of agonized screams and booming horns, Alan stood faced off with a Moorish warrior. The mans exotic scale-male armor and shrouded face intimidated the inexperienced Duke. With out a second moment to ponder, the Moor lunged towards Alan, bringing towards him a wide sweep of his single-edge sword. Cowed by the strength of his attacker, Alan barely blocked the strike. The force seemed to immediately drain him of any energy and when the Moor followed up with another wide arc, Alan was unable to withstand the blow. Tumbling backwards, Alan felt helpless as the Moor swung for his neck– coming up short by a heads width. As he fumbled about, struggling to regain his balance, his vision narrowed, collapsing into a thin tunnel.

“My Duke!” a Knight yelled, the blue and white eagle upon his tunic seemed angelic to the confused and dazed Alan. When quickly helped to his feet by the mail bound hand of the Knight, Alan found his bearings once more. Though he peered back into the battlefield with renewed ferocity, the Moor had gone. In his place, Brient hacked away at a remaining foe in the wake of the Moorish retreat.

***​

The Battle of Palma was a short one. With his flanks soon enveloped by the Breton Knights, Abdul-Qadir withdrew back to the city. He had little choice but to flee, the safety of the young Emir being paramount. Not wanting to risk his fleet of Cogs against the superior Moorish ships, Alan allowed their safe retreat. After little more than a month, Palma was in Breton hands. The other three major islands were also quickly subdued, Menorca putting up the last bits of dying resistance. Alan and his comrades would enjoy the Balearics for two years, solidifying the Breton nobility as the new social elite of the islands. The Duke had various local songs commissioned about his conquest.

As Alan eagerly set sail for his homeland in late 1101, questions began to seep into his mind. Who would govern the isles in his place? Who would be tasked with keeping them free of pirate safe havens and Muslim uprisings? Alan’s limited choices would plague him for years to come.​

BelearicsConquest.jpg
 

stnylan

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A useful little victory. Gives you a stake.
 

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I'd echo the comments above, and add that I really love your maps and graphics. How did you create the pictures of the Crusaders? Did you use photoshop? If so, what did you use in it?
 

Enewald

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yay! now keep conquering!
I always demand that from every aar I read. :p

But still, another yays!
 

IamWhoa

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Mettermrck: We'll see what happens, though I doubt it at this point. Poor Arnau has been devoured by the Cordobans. :(

stnylan: A nice little springboard at least. ;)

General_BT: Thanks! I just took a picture of a Hastings re-enactment and applied the "Fresco" Filter. Besides a few other smaller things, I colored the background blue and white (was originally forest), made the ground look more arid, and put in Brittany's banner. Only took a few minutes but I'm glad you like it :D

TheConqueror: Yes indeed. Didn't help Arnau in the end though, heh.

Enewald: Alan is going to try to conqueror some more, but he (I do as well) get a rude surprise in the end.
 

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Part V: A Dastardly Frankish Kerne



As Alan returned to Brittany, he was forced to make a decision as to who would govern the Balearic Islands. There were only two willing to take the job, one of which was the trusty nobleman Marc Prigent, who was sent to Menorca. The other was the devious cousin of Alan, the heavily French Antoine Kerne. Though Alan was glad to have gotten rid of a man he somewhat detested, Antoine would become a menace with a title of his own.


Antoine.jpg

Antoine Kerne

I must say that, it is a great relief to be rid of that guiling idiot. - Duke Alan Kerne



To the people of the Balearic Islands, Antoine was a Godsend. He gave much of his wealth to the poor and lived modestly – refusing to live in the former Emir’s palace. He was a well learned and an intelligent ruler as well, a trait which helped him get a long with the generally more educated Moors. Antoine’s charisma knew no equal. With the sheer musical quality of his voice, he was able to convert many to Christianity. Whilst Marc Prigent’s disgruntled Muslim subjects rebelled, tossing Menorca into a grinding depression; Mallorca prospered and Christianity reigned.

Amidst the success of his rule, Antoine was becoming dissatisfied as a subservient to his cousin. Having tasted the beauty and culture of Mallorca, he felt as if he could spend the rest of his days there. Constantly having to be recalled to Brittany for Ducal matters angered him. His annoyance was only amplified when Alan retained Antoine’s beloved wife, Catrin Mathrafal, for her excellent administrative abilities. Though eventually she would be allowed to join her husband, the line was crossed and Antoine began plotting to sever his allegiance.


MALLORCAPICTURE1A.jpg


Under the burning summer sun of 1104, Antoine declared to a massive, multi-religious crowd his intentions to build a Kingdom – just for them. To Antoine’s pleasure, mass rioting began in his honor. Alan’s consul in Mallorca was banished and the statue recently erected in the Duke’s image torn down. Alan received the news with terrific anger and upon reading Antoine’s declaration of independence, he reportedly called out-

“I shall have the fat French oaf flayed alive to the spectacle of his cultist followers, before having them all tossed into the sea!”

Alan’s life was now on a permanent course for a clash with his cousin, though that would be at least seven years in the future. In 1105, Alan’s first-born son Daniel returned from the Kingdom of Wales. The young man was a brilliant theological mind. Many, much to Daniel’s humble denial, thought he could easily best the Pope in his knowledge of Christianity. His great insights also brought great skepticism. Indeed, he was a liberal for his time. When given the County of Leon by Alan, Daniel proved not only a masterful administrator of the territory but also an adored champion of the peasant class.

By the time Alan’s second son Nikolaz had come of age in the year 1111, the Duke’s plans were coming to a head. Having built himself a heavy war-chest, Alan set sail for Mallorca. With Alan were ten-thousand men, including 331 Knights. Count Louis de Rennes and Count Jermen once again provided their armies. Alan’s two sons, Count Daniel and the young tactician Nikolaz, joined their father. The Marshal Brient Penteur had died in peace not many years earlier.

Though putting the foot down on Antoine was the first priority, Alan had far greater plans concocted for the future. Using the Balearics as a base, he would attempt to spring into the dreadful hornets nest of the fracturing East – fulfilling, or so he hopes, the Holy Crusade.​


Chapter2PartII-Map.gif


Summary of Alan's years in Brittany.
 

General_BT

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Ah... so little Majorca is attempting to take on the might of Brittany? Woe unto Antoine...

And Majorca is beautifully placed as a staging ground for Crusades, be they against Tunis or Cordoba or further away...
 

stnylan

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Always encouraging for one's own safety when France cannot hold itself together.
 

Enewald

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France seems to be free to be taken... but just first make yourself king if Bretagne, and then create the title king of france. You do not want to lose your nice flag.
 

Estonianzulu

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It would appear that your vassals are better rulers than you are. Both Daniel and Antoine seem to have a lot of popularity in their homelands and are making capable administrators.

It will be interesting to see what the islands allow you to Springboard into. Will it be Africa? Or is the middle east a more pressing target?