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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Peter Ebbesen

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Tales of the Rus: Chapter III, "The Terror of the Opritjina"

shield_RUS.gif
- The Middle Years of the Reign of Ivan IV, "The Benevolent" (1533-1584) -
shield_RUS.gif

Summary: A blowhard waxes eloquent


The Reign of Terror
"....During the 1540'ies and 50'ies, the young Tsar had perfected the sport of evenhanded disingeniousness. Portraying himself as the father of the nation, the saviour of Russia from the muslim hordes, and, in accordance with tradition, as the true successor to the Roman (Byzantine) Empire, he had put up a kind public face, that of the benevolent Tsar. The business of ruling Russia had not changed, however, and was as brutal as ever: The main difference being that the Tsar had instituted a select noble council, the so-called Chosen Council, to deal with most of the less savoury aspects of government and to keep the traditional aristocracy in check. This worked well.... Too well. While the Council loyally obeyed the Tsar's every demand, it was inevitable that friction would arise as the Tsar's demands seldom were backed up by the economic means to see them carried through... This led to either displeasing the Tsar, a terminal mistake, or seeking funds elsewhere, at times destroying local economies.

By the late 50'ies, the survivors of the Chosen Council, as always short on money, hit upon a new scheme for financing the Tsar's edicts: Foreign investment. Official sources are single-minded in describing the negotiations that ensued as traitorous, an attempt to sell out Russian interests to foreigners such as the vile Barnusian family of Portugal, and having designs upon the imperial throne through a careful suborning the army and nobility. While this may well have been the case, and is certainly supported by the signed confessions under duress made by the surviving chosen, the modern reader has some cause to question the official version. The primitive methods of torture of the time, unlike those of the glorious security service today, often had people confessing to any and all things the were accused of, and, seen with a modern eye, it is clear that no matter what else they may have done, the Chosen Council had committed one fatal mistake: The army is always the domain of the Tsar, there are no exceptions.

Whatever the reason, by 1560 the Tsar had had enough and had prepared to retake the authority granted to the council. In a night raid on the CHosen HQ, the surviving chosen and their servants were taken into custody and put to the question. Of their travails, little is known, but they must undoubtedly have suffered most terribly before they were finally put to death in 1562. This, however, was just the beginning.

Concerned that corruption had reached even his most trusted servants, the Tsar unleashed the full fury of imperial power on his subjects in an attempt to cleanse Russia of traitors. He established a secret police, the Opritjina, and turned them loose on the people, to separate the wheat from the chaff. During the next decade untold tens of thousands of nobles, merchants, artisans, and farmers were put to the question and found guilty and precious few were found to be innocent. No village was left untouched, no stone unturned: The reckoning with the traitors was on hand. To fund the persecution, the Tsar imposed a new progressive tax reform. As a direct result of these two momentous events, it is fair to say that Russia was suffering a political crisis of unknown dimensions and that the country was on the edge of chaos.

It is noteworthy, however, that even during such troubled times, the Tsar remained full control of the army, even launching a campaign against Crimea in the mid sixties that saw Orthodox Kaffa and Kerch saved from the infidel. When angry Crimean tribesmen managed to sack parts of Moscow in retaliation in a few years later, it was observed that the Tsar was curiously lucky in their choice of targets, as they burned down several mansions belonging to his chief opponents while leaving the imperial palaces untouched, possibly due to the significant presence of the imperial guard. Even further, it was noted that the Tsar, rather than launch a new war against Crimea, cracked down hard on several noble families charged with the defense of Moscow since the year previous.

By the mid seventies Russia was at peace again, with all interior opposition to the Tsar's rule gone - or buried. Following a brief power struggle within the Opritjina, which severely reduced the heady power it had gained during the Terror, the survivors were brought in line and their reins tightened... Russia was at peace and stable, and everybody praised Tsar Ivan IV the Benevolent for bringing peace to troubled Russia.... It seemed safest that way.

Thus, the Swedish invasion came as a pleasant diversion, though, as it turned out, it was an omen of worse things to come." - an excerpt from an illegal copy of "The Rise of Russia, chapter 3: Ivan IV, the Terrible", by Boef Stroganoff, published 2210 [SemiConscious House ltd]


Note: All legal copies of the book were destroyed as a standard measure when the author was arrested on charges of defaming the character of an ancestor of the Tsar, defaming the institution of the empire, and contradicting official history. He was, of course, found to be guilty in short order. Due to his enthusiastic denunciations of several accomplishes and evidencing true contrition, the court was lenient and allowed Boef Stroganoff to volunteer for the colonisation of red Mars.


---------------​


1576: The Armenian Affair
A diplomatic communique: Tsar Ivan IV, The Benevolent, of Russia has noted the horrible forced conversion of the Christians of Armenia. Thousands of Armenians fled the terror to Russian Georgia where the Tsar has his southern bambi hunting grounds (a vigorous man for his age, is the Tsar), and, as the Tsar so fondly noticed as he was burning down a local village delinquent in tax payments (always one to take his pleasure as the opportunity arises, is the Tsar), when people flee to Russia, their suffering must be indescribable. He would like an explanation from the Sultan for this foul practise.

It is one thing that the Sultan is a blight upon the earth, a heathen, blasphemer, and tool of Satan, but, hey, these things happen in the best of families, just like syphilis. The Sultan should not try actively spreading his affliction, though. That is inconsiderate of the common good.



---------------​


1577: The Portuguese Poltroons
A diplomatic communique: If the Portuguese Trading Company does not VERY SOON reduce their predatory trading practises OR finds some way to placate the Tsar, they are going to be driven out of Russia with extreme prejudice. They harm the trade balance, fondle the women without showing proper respect, and underbid the honest hardworking Russian merchants with superior decadent western products. The situation is INTOLERABLE.
 

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Religious turmoil
1533-1577
a Danish AAR



Polish War
Following the Polish expansion into the HRE, Imperial citizens in Vorpommern and Mecklemburg was persecuted for their religious beliefs. This angered the Princes and Electors of Germany but the Catholic Emperor showed little compassion with his German brothers of the north. Many suspected that a secret deal was made between the Polish King and the Emperor that Poland would have free hands in northern Germany as long as they force converted the protestants of that area.

Finally when it was clear that the Poles only wanted the purses of the wealthy Germans the Emperor sent message to the Danish court of a retaliation of the long passed Polish aggression. Denmark which only wanted the best for their friends, the fellow protestants, agreed to join the Imperial alliance.

Soon war struck northern Europe and Imperial troops entered Polish lands. The great Danish armies was ready to free the occupied German provinces but the Polish ally Sweden threatend the eastern borders and there was a stand still. Finally the Swedes realized the size of the Danish armies and made peace. Now the armies could march.

Vorpommern and Mecklemburg with the great city of Lübeck was freed but in the south things were not looking positive. Polish troops fought with great skill and discipline, pushing back the Emperor. Only with the aid from French and Italian mercenaries, funded with Spanish gold, the Emperor managed to force a peace with Poland.

Still Denmark was at war with Poland but the Polish ambition for Germany was clearly not realistic so finally it was given up. This meant that Mecklemburg was ceded to Denmark and the free state of Pommern was released by Poland. Germany was once again at peace.

Nye Danmark
Watching French and English ships sailing away to distant lands to the west grew colonial ambitions also in the Danish King, Christian III. An expedition was equipped and shipped from Sjaelland to the ancient colonies of Greenland. From there the expedition explored the coast of what the French called the Labrador Peninsula and also the likewise French named Saint Lawrence Bay.

The French had already settled much of these lands and colonial race between the two nations finally ended in an agreement were definite borders were set up. The new lands, called Nye Danmark, were cold and not ideal settling grounds for colonies but not much else was still free from European settlers. Denmark also claimed the eastern part of the, partly English, Newfoundland island.

Treaty of Vienna
In 1559 the Emperor manifested the Teaty of Vienna. With the support of Spain, Poland, Austria and the Dutch puppet state the Emperor threatend not only the heretic Ottomans but also the lutherans and other protestants of northern Europe. The people trembled but no actions against the protestants citizens of the HRE was taken and the treaty was soon forgotten as empty words often are.

Swedish Visby
Frederik II, the newly crowned King of Denmark was disturbed by the Swedish ownership of the ancient Danish province of Skåne. Still he hesitated to make war as he knew the Swedish generals were very competent. The first military advisor, Daniel Rantzau, was also a good general and he was very confident of a success if war was to be declared.

In the end the King gave in to Rantzaus advice and a great army of 40000 Danish soldiers marched into Sweden. After a few small insignificant battles Rantzau finally faced the main army of Sweden. Rantzau had about five thousand more men under his command than the opponant Klas Fleming. The battle, that took place in Småland, ended with a Danish defeat and merely 9000 men returned to Danish lands. From there on the war was in Swedens hands. From no where a fleet consisting of over 100 ships appeared and Fleming landed on Jylland.

With still quite a large army Rantzau was sure he could hold Norway but with the Swedes ruling the sea the homeland of Denmark could not be defended. Frederick II acknowledged the Swedish victory and Gotland was ceded in the peace. Yet another ancient part of the Danish Kingdom was lost.

Protestant alliance
In 1576, the situation in Europe was chaotic. In the south France and England waged war with the Habsburg alliance and in the east Sweden and Russia fought over Kexholm. Without allies Denmark was vulnerable and when seeking allies King Frederick II looked to the immediate south. Brandenburg was invited to a military alliance and soon Mainz followed. The goal was to secure the southern border and the independance and freedom of the protestants within and outside the HRE.
 
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For your eyes only: special report on military strength of major European powers

…fragments from the private diary of Barnius VI “The Warrior”, Duke of Lisboa, Chairman of the Portuguese Trading Company

It was the year 1577 and Portugal was about to enter turbulent times so I ordered a detailed report on military strength of all the major European powers. The findings were good:

Code:
[color=white]                               HAB  BRA  DEN  ENG  FRA  HOL  TUR  POL  POR  RUS  SPA  SWE  VEN

Army (in 1000)                  67   39  104  103   75   39   95   34  104  193  140   99   42
Navy                             -    -   77   78   43   11  191    1  111   36   80   99   69
Army Morale*                  4,37 4,01 3,46 3,75 3,69 4,52 4,41 4,17 4,19 3,82 4,45 4,46 3,47
Navy Morale*                     -    - 2,61 2,84 2,19 2,84 2,25 2,25 3,63 2,25 2,38 2,31 3,30
Army Maintenance*               50   33   63  214  345   45  213   56  119  270  307  112   47
Navy Maintenance*                -    -   44   94   24   10   86    1  156   12   52   41   43
Total Maintenance / Income (%)   7   22   17   27   40   12   20    9    9   18   11   19   17

*At full maintenance; maintenance costs are not too precise because of several ongoing wars.
[/color]

Portuguese navy was definitely the most powerful in the world! If only more capable admirals wished to join it :( :mad:
But let’s hope we will not need them anyway – it’s bad for business!
 

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The Growth of the Republic

In the Years of our Lord, 1577 till 1600

The Great Republic of Venice, that divine city of Italy underwent some of her greatest achievements during these years. Our trade flourished, our armies conquered and our navy sailed the Mediterranean in great numbers then ever she had before. Though at the start of this period, all did look to be lost, for the war with the Pope and our ancient enemy Genoa, went into a downturn.

The year began with the Venetian armies engaged in conflict with the armies of the Papal states. While we did hold control of 2 of their provinces and also besieging 2 more of their provinces, on further examination, The Doge discovered that things were not as good as they appeared. Our armies were not made for actual combat, they were made for sieges and the Papal forces also had a significant advantage in technology. We also suffered from several loans and the economy was hard stretched to pay for our troops. A final effort was made by the Doge and his advisors to push the war into a satisfactory climax, but the Pope’s troops, were able to defeat all of our armies and we were forced to pay to Genoa the Princely sum of 50 ducats in order to have peace, lest they invade Venetian lands.

This humiliating peace rankled the Venetian councils and it was decided that we would have our revenge for the defeat, especially as Genoa blocked us from trading with them and the Pope consistently interrupted our own trade!

Elsewhere in Europe, things were growing more and more tense, the fate of the Netherlands and their religious practises was driving the World to war. While we may be devout Catholics, we were more concerned with our financial status. A war with the Netherlands, England and France would gain us nothing, and would hurt us financially, so we made it known to our alliance of Spain, Portugal and Austria that we would not take part.

When war broke out, we left the alliance of the Catholic powers and immediately found ourselves to be at war with the Pope! The sounds of glee coming from the Doge’s palace could be heard from miles, as we were given our chance at revenge! Our armies had been reformed and modernised, and within two years, we managed to increase our lands by almost a half!

Looking for a new ally with the conclusion of the second Papal War, Venice was offered an alliance with Poland and Sweden. This suited our purposes greatly as they provided us with an ally against the Turks in case they ever decided to go after our lands, yet at the same time, would keep us out of the bulk of any European wars.

On the home front, the Doges of this period concentrated on improving their trading position. A policy of having 4 merchants in every trade centre was in acted as well as improving our trading efficiency.

Venice’s future is certainly looking brighter; her main concern now is uniting the lands of Genoa and the Papal States under our authority, so that we will not end up having more destructive wars in fair Italia.
 

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France 1577 to 1600

The first Spanish war had just ended in mid 1577 and the people were slowly returning to the fields. There was harvest to be brought in if the country was to avoid famine after the ravishes of war. The French economy was teetering on a knifes edge for the King had been stretching the kingdoms finances the last few years as he ruthlessly began implementing his taxation reforms (governors!), a costly process but one he knew would reap grand rewards in the future. Yet with his reforms half complete war had arrived bringing even greater burden upon the royal purse and inflation had continued to mount. Now at conflicts end inflation was running at over 8% and becoming a serious concern.

Of equal concern to Henri was the threat of a Spanish backlash in future years and so with what funds he could gather without raising inflation further he began an extensive program of fortification along the Spanish border, a process his illustrious successor Henri IV would continue. It did not go unnoticed either by the King or his generals that Spanish armies were equipped with far superior weapons and better equipment (1 CRT disadvantage to Spain 14 land vs 18) and whilst it hadn’t stopped France inflicting grievous defeat upon Spain in the year just past it was still a worry for the future. At the Kings order, all effort would now be made to bring the French army into the modern age.

With the end of the First Spanish war Henri began sending his agents into the Netherlands and Spanish Lowlands, seeking out malcontents and those opposed to Spanish rule as well as encouraging such movements where they were found. Over the next decade the relationship with those opposed to Spanish rule was gently nurtured and developed until when William died in 1584 and the rebels came out into the open under the leadership of Maurice of Nassau, Henry was there to greet him and offer him the hand of friendship as well as to guarantee the independence of his government against any who would contest it.

That Spain would oppose it Henri was certain, though it would take her some time to gather her armies and perhaps her courage for over 5 years would pass before Spanish and Austrian armies moved on the Netherlands. That the Archduke of Austria would attempt also to suppress the freedom of the Netherlands and support the sworn enemy of France in this venture filled Henri with sorrow for he had considered the Archduke a friend even if not often openly. As he lay on his deathbed in 1589 Herni charged his son Henri IV to protect the people of the Netherlands. Tolerance to all faiths was what was needed the King said, something he had striven for throughout his reign both within his own country and via the alliance he had forged with England. Now he charged his son to continue this policy and extend it to the Dutch people their northern neighbours.

Henri IV was a skilled soldier and commander and with war imminent he took up personal command of the army as the nation faced the expected onslaught. In June 1590 Spain did not disappoint as she declared war upon the Netherlands and the nation held its breath.

Venice took this opportunity to abandon the Austrian alliance and declare her neutrality, a stance Henri sent word to the Doge that was appreciated and would be remembered warmly by France. The two sides now squared off, Spain, Portugal and Austria on the one side, against France, England and the Netherlands on the other. The coming conflict would dictate the balance of power for the coming decades.

The situation a few weeks after war breaks out:

fra1590a.jpg


Austria quickly put the northern half of the Netherlands under siege whilst in the South the Dutch army moved upon Brabant, one of the two Spanish Lowland provinces. Austrian and Spanish armies quickly began converging on the position whilst Henri gathered his forces in Paris waiting for the right moment to commit his men. Over 30,000 he directed north to relieve those Dutch provinces under siege whilst the bulk of the army galloped to Brabant at breakneck speed to join the Dutch in defence of the cities siege. There the Austrian and Spanish forces were caught unawares and butchered upon the plains outside the great city. Henri quickly pursued the remaining enemy forces to Luxembourg whence they also defeated a new Austrian force before putting the city put under siege.

fra1590b.jpg


Henri now kept the bulk of his force in Artois ready to reinforce either Brabant or Luxembourg should the enemy attempt to break either siege, but despite repeated enemy attempts, both cities would fall over the coming months.

The army of 30,000 in the north now began a campaign of liberation, destroying 12,000 Austrians in Geldre and another small army in Oldenburg before facing the main Spanish army of over 28,000 men in Friesland. All these armies were defeated for the loss of less than 5000 men. The victorious French army now stayed in the north for the duration of the war but was never threatened again.

As Luxembourg fell to France and Brabant to the Netherlands the Spanish tactics changed. No longer were they content to fight over the Netherlands, now they began invading southern France itself and besieging French cities. Henri was enraged. For this he vowed the Spanish presence would be removed from the Lowlands for all time. Gathering up his victorious army he marched south destroying a Spanish army of 50,000 men in Languedoc before proceeding to cross the Spanish border and route the small forces gathering there. On he marched through Catalonya and Valencia until he besieged the very capital of Spain itself, Madrid! A message was to be driven home to the war mongering Felipe of Spain. If he brought war upon French cities there was nowhere beyond the reach of Henri’s armies.

Henri did not stay in Spain long. With his point made and renewed fighting occurring around Franche-comte, the city Savoy was gallantly besieging, Henri withdrew his forces back across the Pyrennes, routing more Spanish armies on the way and rushing to Savoy’s aid. His aid would be too late as a combined Spanish/Austrian force repulsed Savoy and the handful of French forces close at hand. Henri was however in time to avenge their defeat, chasing the enemy from Franche-comte and beyond before returning to his homeland.

Spain and Austria had been decisively beaten and would mount no more fresh attacks on either France or the Netherlands, and in time Spain would cave in and cede Brabant to the Netherlands and Luxembourg to France as well as recognising the Dutch independence, thereby fulfilling Henri’s pledge to see Spain removed from the Lowlands.

With the armies of Austria and Spain defeated Henri now took this opportunity to strengthen his grip upon his own country, bringing Lorraine once more back within direct rule of the state upon the death of the previous Duke. Henri had simply to point to the inheritance document that bore the signature of the August Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I which granted the fiefdom of Lorraine to France to legitimise his actions. No murmur of protest was heard from the Emperor and nor this time from Felipe of Spain! Let the old dog chew on that, Henri of France was heard to mutter.

Unlike the first Spanish war, the second war of Spanish aggression saw little damage to the French economy. In the years leading up to the second conflict the astute policies of Henri III had led to a marked reduction in inflation (exceptional year yeah!) and allowed for the continued fortification effort and taxation reforms to be implemented without bleeding the country dry. The economy had come on so well that Henri had even indulged in sending the odd gift to those monarchs Henri felt could further French ambitions…

Europe in 1600:

fra1600a.jpg

North America in 1600:

fra1600b.jpg
 

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Brandenburg. The struggle for Religious Dominance

The Princedom of Brandenburg was undergoing the greatest period of religious upheaveal in it's history. Various factions within the court eached were pushing for their chosen faith to be the official state religion. The People of the Princedom were Protestants, yet their opinion did not seem to matter to the ruling elite.

The struggle between Catholicism, Protestantism and the Reformed faith was violent and bloody and looked as if it would continue for many years yet as the parties looked outside the Princedom for support.
 

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Peace within the Kingdom
1577-1600
a Danish AAR



Swedish war and Danish peace
While Sweden was deeply engaged in the bitter fight against the great Russian Empire Denmark enjoyed a few years of peace. Although the war in the east dragged on and severely weakend the two sides a Danish intervention against Sweden was never openly discussed. Instead the war ended with a minor Russian victory.

As the protestant alliance ended it was time to found a new alliance for Denmark. Relations with Russia had always been good and they had really proved them selfs strong in the war with Sweden. Negotiations was conducted and a defensive alliance was formed with the Czar.

Imperial aggression
After the strong protestant alliance was dissolved the Emperor finally decided to act according to the Treaty of Vienna. An offensive was made against the small German protestant states and with much sucess as well. The princes in the old Danish ally Mainz and also in Saxony was forcefully converted to Catholics. The people still remain in their own faith but who knows for how long.

Struggling merchants
With the value of trade round the world rising, the competition from merchants from new nations also increased considerably. The Danish merchants suffered a lot from this actually decreasing their piece of the trade income cake.
 
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Tales of the Rus: Chapter IV, "The Folly of Fedor"

shield_RUS.gif
- The Late Years of the Reign of Ivan IV (1533-1584) -
shield_RUS.gif

- the Folly of Fedor I (1584-1598) -
- the Rise of Boris I Gudonov (1598-1605) -​

Summary: An account of the Swedish war with commentary on the folly of incompetents. An incompetent takes the throne. An incompetent wages war against steppe dummies. Steppe dummies are defeated. A metropolitan wants to be Patriarch instead of the Patriarch. An incompetent feels threatened. An incompetent prefer old religious buggers to be far, far, away from his seat of power. The opportunity of a lifetime is wasted. Sanity restored: The Rise of Gudonov.



The 1st Swedish War (1577-1579)

In his ailing years, Tsar Ivan IV, the Benevolent, secure in his mastery of Russia, was assaulted by the importunate Swedes. Believing the Tsar to be old and weak, the young Swedish king demanded Kexholm ceded or bright war would engulf the plains and forests of Russia.

A miscalculation of the first order, as it turned out. Ivan the Great had risen to preeminence on the bodies of his enemies, and he did not mind adding to the pile. Though Sweden had better generals, much better weapons, and superior training, the Tsar did not flinch. With one single word he expressed the utter disgust with the Swedish presumptousness "Nyet", he answered, and he mobilized the Northern army to withstand the Swedish attack. Never, ever, shall a Tsar of Russia succumb to extortion.


The Initial Swedish Assault, 1577
russia_1577_04_18.jpg

The fighting was harsh and casualties plenty, most on the Russian side. Two for one was a good rate of enchange, according to the Tsar, and peasants for the armies were plentiful, as were weapons. For the better part of a year the war raged back and forth in Nyland, Kexholm, and Ingermanland. It became clear that while Sweden lacked the manpower to press home the attack, the ill-equipped Russian armies could not count on prevailing in direct confrontation with the ably-led Swedish army. It is said incompetent advisors to the Tsar at this point urged him to call up the 80,000 troops guarding the Polish and Turkish borders, arguing that the addition of those overwhelming forces would enable the decisive victory over Sweden. While this seems plausible, Tsar Ivan IV, the Great, was made of sterner stuff: Leaving the Polish and especially the Turkish borders unguarded was not an option to be seriously considered or all the northern gains might easily be wiped out by a southern invasion.

To break the stalemate in the north, the Tsar rolled out a plan for the direct attack on Stockholm: The Baltic Gamble. Later historians rechristened it The Baltic Sacrifice, and it is by this name that it is commonly known. With extreme ruthlessness, the Tsar ordered the dregs of his armies to form two special combat groups detached for special operations in the Baltic. Meanwhile, he gather his main northern armies in one large formation, ready to punch through Finland on a road straight to Stockholm. When his capital fell under siege, the Swede would surely concede and offer terms, rather than dragging out the war.


The Baltic Sacrifice, 1578
russia_1578_baltic_sacrifice.jpg

And so it came to pass. The Swedish army performed an amphibious assault on Livland, utterly wiping out the sieging force, and proceded to lay waste to the northern sieging force as fell. By this time, however, the Russian northern army had crossed Finland and was striking striking targets in northern Sweden at will. Hastily recalled, the Swedish army was crippled in the battle of Västerbötten, the Russian army taking severe casualties as well. With Sweden itself under attack and Russia showing no signs of giving in, yet unable to press the counterattack except at very great cost, a tentative peace was reached and Russia was paid 200d in war indemnities.

(Not bad, considering I had -14% warscore, but in this case warscore does not tell the true story of who was hurting the most :D)



The Passing of the Torch - Fedor I, the Incompetent (1584-1598)
The successor to Ivan IV, the Great, the Terrible, the Benevolent, was a lesser man. Under other circumstances, that might have been cause for a short reign, yet that was not to be. Intellectually challenged though he was, he still possessed a certain animal cunning and a truly vicious streak that more than once saw the corridor's run red with the blood of servants and visitors alike. While he performed little of note during his reign, he was the chief architect of two immense follies and is as a result on the official list of Tsars whose actions historians are allowed to portray as sub-optimal.



The Conquest of the Steppe Dummies (1584-1587)

Desiring to match Ivan IV's reputation as a great warrior, Tsar Fedor I looked to find an enemy. Preferably an enemy unable to hit back and whom nobody cared about. Nothing dangerous, of course. Such enemies were few and far between, but with an incredible eye for least economically viable option he cast his eyes on the Steppe Dummies... The invasion began a month after his coronation.

The great conquistador Yermak showed his true worth in the initial campaign yet fell victim to an overenthusiastic gunner during the first Uzbekh battle of 1585. Ill prepared, ill supplied, and with only few soldiers mustered, what should have been a cakewalk if led by a competent supreme commander instead took three years. The fact that Fedor I insisted on personally directing the campaign from Moscow is not, in general, considered beneficial to the war effort.

In the end, of course, Russia won by the valour of her soldiers, those brave peasant lads who always stand ready to die in their thousands, nay, in their tens and hundreds of thousands, to die in the name of the Rodina with a song on their lips. Russia was thus enriched with three incredibly poor muslim provinces from each Steppe Dummy nations, and the clergy, duly funded by the Tsar, were soon out in force attempting conversions. Mostly futile. The Steppe Dummies valued: their guns, their horses, and their sheep first and foremost. Religion was a distant third, and if could neither provide guns, horses, nor sheep, why convert?

As a testimony to his incompetence, the Russian government nearly collapsed under the weight of the Political Crisis of 1586 (The Omega Incident). None of this, of course, bear comparison to his greatest folly.

(Quote: The Tsar has decided! We don't want no buggering Patriarch in Moscow.... -2 CEN, -1 INN rather than +1 CEN, +2INN... The things we do for style :))



The Fate of the Patriarchate (1588)

The Byzantine Mantle was nicked way back in 1520 as an excuse for conquest by the prince of Moscow, the first Tsar of Russia. Ever since then, the current Patriarch of Constantinople had been demanding its return in his annual message to the Metropolitan of Moscow. This finally came to a head when the Metropolitan of Moscow tried to pull a quick one on the dimwitted Tsar Fedor I, whom he attempted to persuade that he, the Metropolitan, should be Patriarch instead of the Patriarch.

Unfortunately, Tsar Fedor I, fearing a strengthened church in Moscow would undermine his power and station, which were somewhat precarious after the Years of Blood, did not realise that this would in the long run put the clergy under his thumb and strengthen imperial power, so he vetoed the proposition... Permanently. The Orthodox faith had but one leader, one head, one Patriarch, and he was the Patriarch of Constantinople - comfortably far away from the REAL centre of power.

Frustrated in their plans, the Russian clergy began agitating for the rescue of their Orthodox brethren, pointing to the liberation of Kerch and Kaffa by the Great Tsar Ivan IV, the Benevolent, as proof positive that it was the Destiny of Russia, and the inevitable liberation of the Patriarch, attempting to spur the Tsar into action... Ignoring the clergy's more outrageous demands, however, is an old and time-honoured tradition: Tsar Fedor I could not care less, nor does it appear that his successor, Boris I Gudonov, long may he reign, takes much note of the clergy. He may yet live to regret it.

The historian will notice that as the tides of destiny shift, so too are ancient claims occasionally unearthed by those willing to dare fortune and wage red war for their imagined rights, yet the historian will also note that many claims lie forgotten, swallowed by the depths of time. Into which category the claim to the Byzantine lands of old and the Greek people will fall only time will tell.



The Rise of Gudonov (1598-1600)

Following the tragically delayed death of Tsar Fedor I, Boris I Gudonov took the imperial throne. Though weaker than the strong Tsars of years past, he was yet incomparably stronger than Fedor the Incompetent had been. He rebuilt the armies to a standing strength of 200,000 and righted many wrongs that had occurred in the latter years of the reign of Fedor. He also had a considerable number of heirs to the throne put to death, just to be on the safe side. With a strong hold on the Imperial throne, he confidently awaited the coming of the seventeenth century.
 

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…drafting the agreement between His Majesty King of Spain and His Highness Duke of Lisboa…

...fragments from the private diary of Barnius VII, Duke of Lisboa, the hereditary Conselheiro Confidencial dos Reis...

I was very concerned with the direction King Sebastiao I was leading Portugal. The country needed peace and stability and clearly the only thing His Majesty offered were wars all over the world. Including the most dreadful one fought on our own land in our cities and by our people – a disastrous bloody civil war from 1569 till mid 1570es. Something had to be done!

The most dangerous, but perhaps in the same time the luckiest thing was the King didn’t have a hair to the throne. No one that could carry on his uncontrollable desire for bloodshed in the veins – but who will inherit the Kingdom than? After one civil war another one would certainly start more easy. Not to mention external threat, for Portugal had a few things that could interest foreign powers – Portuguese Trading Company being only one of them!
Portugal needed a strong and wise Monarch… but Duke of Lisboa had to think on his family interests also…and PTC needed no one except Dukes of Lisboa! How to compromise those on the first sight so opposite goals?

Fortunately, wise men can find a solution satisfactory for all interested parties. Where to seek peace and prosperity for a little European Kingdom if not in the House of a powerful neighbour? For anything else would mean only making this neighbour the worst enemy and thus cause even more bloodshed and crying in Portuguese cities. Not that there were no offers in that direction from powerful neighbours of our neighbours that could perhaps mean even brighter future for Portugal... But that was all apart from what we desired: peace, stability and prosperity.

So it was that Duke of Lisboa secretly travelled to Madrid. There he met His Most Catholic Majesty King Felipe II of Spain. And there, on the August 28 1577, the Treaty of Madrid was signed that will mark the future of Portugal for years to come...
 

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TREATY OF MADRID


Madrid, August 28 1577

§1

Kingdom of Portugal accepts his Majesty King Felipe II of Spain as King Felipe I of Portugal, with his successors inheriting the title as long as God wishes it to be and as long as the conditions of this agreement are kept.

§2

Kingdom of Portugal is to be ruled as a separate Kingdom within the Spanish Empire, independent from Spain and her colonies and bound to Spain solely by the common Monarch.

§3

Kingdom of Portugal is reorganized into two parts, formalizing thus the state that de-facto existed for decades: Portugalia and The Portuguese Trading Company.

§4

Portugalia, the most important part of the Kingdom, comprised all European provinces and was to be ruled by the King himself, through the Governor appointed by His Majesty.

§5

The Portuguese Trading Company (PTC) exclusive prerogative and autonomous rule over all the non-European provinces and possessions and businesses related to trade, as well as the autonomy in affairs concerning colonial and non-European matters and trade, is confirmed.

§6

Dukes of Lisboa are granted the hereditary title of the Conselheiro Confidencial dos Reis Português, continuing this to occupy the former office of Conselheiro Confidencial dos Reis.

§7

Barnius VII de Rico and his successors are confirmed as the hereditary Dukes of Lisboa.

§8

All the clauses of this Treaty are to be realized as soon as the opportunity arises enabling both parties to enforce it peacefully and in the civilized manner.


Signed:

His Highness Duke of Alba on behalf of His Most Catholic Majesty King Felipe II, King of Spain

His Highness Barnius VII de Rico, Duke of Lisboa, Conselheiro Confidencial dos Reis.
 

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For your eyes only: special report from the PTC Cartography Division

It is the beginning of the new century, Your Highness, and we prepared new maps of Portuguese possessions around the world…

Here is Brazil, parts of Spanish and Dutch South America and northwestern Africa. Almost all Brazilian provinces are fortified cities. And Cape Verde is one of our most important naval bases, as is St. Helena. And Tangiers, naturally, for it gives us control over passage through Gibraltar.

1600 south atlantic.jpg



Eastern Africa and Southern Indian Ocean. We control it all. Bourbon and Mauritius with their refineries and shipyards are our main base here.
There is also Issas and former COT Al Kharm, Goa and Ganges COT. Ceylon island with it’s refinery and province of Howrah are also part of out Indian Ocean possessions.

1600 se africa.jpg



Australia. Only trading posts there. We really don’t know why we underestimated this area…

1600 australia.jpg



As you said, My Lord, we left out some areas still not so firmly under our control – no need competition to know too much :D.
 

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Confidential Report on 1599 Income

Portugal, 1599

…Barnius de Rico, Chairmen of PTC, receiving the confidential information on income of major European countries…


Your Highness, here is the report on Portuguese income for the last year. I also prepared the same data for other important European countries.

1599-income-table.jpg


1599-income-graph.jpg


Yes, yes…nothing new, I see, for three decades our country is leading in economy. But have you prepared the data showing separately the income of European part of Portugal and PTC?

Naturally, Your Highness! PTC’s share is 2.625 d of disposable income and 149 d of research income – total a bit more than 90%.

Hmmm. That’s satisfactory. But what is not is the state of our trading income! PTC share of the world trade fell form 26% to only 22%! It’s because of relocations fo COTs, I know, and there is little we could have done to prevent that, but still, it is alarming! We will have to do something about it…
 

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Outcome of the War Against Dutch Rebellion

…a clerk from the defense department approaches Duke of Lisboa shivering…

Your Highness, I am afraid our losses were HORRIBLE! English fleet under that pirate Drake defeated us severely! Look at the numbers:eek:o:

Combat and attrition Losses
Code:
[font=courier new][color=white]
[b]                                                                     
               FRA      SPA     ENG       HAB     HOL      POR[/b]

[b]INF[/b]          11597   104501   63430    173854   34693    68826
[b]CAV[/b]         128554   186477    2330     83787    4703     2728
[b]ART[/b]              0        0      14         0       0        6 
[b]WAR[/b]              5       34      33         0      10       51 
[b]GALL[/b]             0        5       0         0       0        0 
[b]TRAN[/b]             1        4       3         0       3        0 

[b]Total Land[/b]  140151   290978   65760    257641   39396    71554 

[b]Total Ships[/b]      6       43      36         0      13       51 
[/color][/font]


But please, let me tell you… We did fight well…Most of English losses are from our navy! And we almost killed two of their pirates! TWO of them barely escaped on ONE vessel off the coast of Western Africa and disappeared in uncharted waters of Atlantic. If only we were a bit luckier…But Spain was! They killed Drake :). And we were lucky against Holland: killed one of their pirates returning from our Indian Ocean :D.

Nevertheless, those numbers DO show we were severely defeted! We lost 1/3 of our navy!
But…I…errr…My Lord, there is little we can do! We need better trained officers in the navy, but…excuse me, My Lord, can I speak freely?

Naturally! That is the only way I want my employees to speak. Although I think I know where this is going….But do continue, you are not guilty our navy suffered a military defeat.

Right, My Lord, you are really kind! In fact it’s that kindness and generosity that is sinking our ships! All capable captains are in Your PTC, My Lord! You must raise military salaries or these things will repeat and repeat – we need capable captains and admirals in our navy!

Thank you for the report. I will study it. Just that you know: there is more to it than just a number of lost ships… Don’t be so confused…Wait! Stay and listen what your colleague from the accounting department has to say, perhaps you will learn something :) .

Your Highness, it is almost exactly as you assessed it in the first time J. Portugal had the lowest losses! Look at the numbers, they speak for themselves:

Costs of combat and attrition Losses
Code:
[font=courier new][color=white]
                                                                     
[b][/b]                                      FRA      SPA     ENG       HAB     HOL      POR[/b]

[b]Total (d)[/b]                            2.007    7.962   2.059     1.648   1.012    3.049
[b]% of average yearly income[/b]             166      250     151       209     127       98
[b]% of 1599 income[/b]                       134      234     129       193      91       92
[/color][/font]

Have you adjusted the prices of military units to the average inflation between 1576 and 1599, as I instructed you?

Naturally, Your Highness!

Excellent! Now explain this SLOWLY and in details to your colleague form the defence department. Everything is relative! If the competition is hurt more than we are, than it’s our victory :D. And regarding your remark that we lost 1/3 of our navy…perhaps there is hope your military brain could understand the concept of relativity after all!…England lost relatively more, you see, and we immediately started constructing 20 new warships, while our competition didn’t :rofl:
 

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Brandenburg, the growth of the Electorate, yet the great religious demise.

Brandenburg was the greatest Protestant Power in Germany on the dawning of the new century, 1600AD. We were the largest and had the greatest military in all of protestant Germany, yet we were faced by many foes. To the south the Habsburg Emperor was carving his way through Germany, forcing loyal Protestant to abandon their faith and turn to Catholicism. To the East was the Kingdom of Poland-Lithuania, a powerful Kingdom which had in previous years invaded the Empire and as they shared a border with only Austria and ourselves, we had a right to be concerned with them.

Combined with the external threats, the Electorate was fighting amongst itself over her religious destiny. At the Start of the year, we were Reformist, yet our people were Protestant. There was also a faction at court pushing for us to become Catholic and so avoid the menace of the Habsburgs.

At the start of 1600, Brandenburg returned to the Protestant faith, knowing that it would provoke the Habsburg, yet the will of the people was not to be denied. Over the following years, we prepared for conflict with the Emperor, slowing building up our armies and enlisting the aid of other powers, especially amongst the Protestant states of Sweden and Denmark (ooc: it would have been interesting if there had been an English player at this point, he surely could have been convinced to join our alliance).

In the second decade of the century, good and bad fortune happened to our princedom. We inherited the state of Kleeves, which increased our domain by a half! However a number of armies with Kleeves refused to accept our authority and would do nothing, but drained our coffers. (ooc: I had around 35k of troops whom I could do nothing with. This pushed my maintenance costs up from 7d to 17d at half maintenance, more then I could afford).

Disaster then struck, the foul Tsar of the Russians, together with his ally in Poland, declared war on Sweden, just as we were prepared to take the war to the Habsburg Emperor as he continued to kill Protestants across the length of the Empire. Sweden was forced to send her forces to deal with the Upstart Russians and taking his chance, the decadent Habsburgs declared war on us!

Catching us completely off guard, the Brave armies of Brandenburg were utterly destroyed and we were forced to capitulate, surrendering Pflaz and converting to the Catholic faith, with the Catholic factor at court being put in charge of the nation. This was too much for the elector Johann Sigismund and he died at the end of 1619.

A new elector arose to take his place, Georg Wilhelm and his hands were tied, as we had no army to speak of and very little by way of money to recruit one. We inherited the Duchy of Prussia and gave to the Poles the province of Kurland in order to cement good relations with them, and we were invited into the Austrian Alliance, where we received the Province of Munster from Holland. However, these were all attempts to strengthen the Catholic faction at court, who were in the minority. It is hard to say just where Brandenburg’s future lies, the struggles at court are becoming even more bitter, with the Protestant, Anti Habsburg faction coalescing around the young heir to the Electorship, Friedrich Wilhelm.
 

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The Ottoman Empire : The Reign of Közem Sultana

Közem is said to be born in Greece in 1585, already at young age being a girl of beautiful features. When she was but a few years old, she was taken as a slave to the Royal Harem in Istanbul.
There she lived and was raised by the concubines and enjoyed the full pleasure of being the audience of court politics already at a very young age, something that gave her a great experience in it for the rest of her life.
When the pious Ahmed took the throne in 1603, he was only thirteen years of age and due to this he was already at a young age the marionette of the harem.
Közem, now eighteen years old felt that this was her opportunity for power. Slowly she advanced in the harem hierarchy, until she became the main lover of Ahmed himself. This was not something extraordinarily hard for her as she was hot like the seven hells, according to the fashion and ideals of the time. Grasping young Ahmeds heart and other body parts, she forced him to marry her and in 1611 the party ever was made in the city of Istanbul. Some historians say you could hear the drunken noise all to the walls of Vienna itself!
grassini.jpg

Once in power as the Sultans first wife, she began redirecting the orders and rights to rule from Ahmed to herself. Ahmed didnt mind though, as long as he could sleep in the same bed with her at nights and got enough time for hunting and partying.

The Harem, August 17th 1615.....

Mrs. Közem Sultana : What does the idot take me for?! When ive said the Empire is not to be ruled by the Beys, but by the supreme authority of the Sultan, obviously i dont mean my husband! I mean, take a look at the man. Hes the most idiotic thing to have graced this earth!

The Grand Vezier : But... Great Sultana, he only asks if he can have a say in the matters of watering the Royal Garden. Its in a terrible state since the Sultan married and he loves it so.

Mrs. Közem Sultana : Flowers and water costs money and though we might have lots of it, we dont have enough. Tell him to shove the proposal, i run things around here.

The Grand Vezier : As you wish Great Sultana.
On the subject of what you just mentioned. It seems the Beys have been a bit offended by your outright denial of their rights. A bit offended is actually to say the least. Revolts have sprung up in Syria, Aleppo, Croatia, Armenia, Rumelia and Smyrna.

Mrs. Közem Sultana : I actually dont give shit about what the Beys think. They are all old farts with the intelligence of a drunken hamster. Vezier, recruit new armies from the populace, you have my full authority to beat down those scumbags.

And as the highest aristocracy in the Ottoman Empire were slaughtered to a pulp, only leaving the lower, less powerhungry lower part left, the future of the Empire was also saved. Had Közem accepted the rights of the Beys, the Ottoman Empire as a state would most likely degenerate, if slowly, into a descentralized, handicapped sick man of Europe.

The Harem 18th April 1617

The Grand Vezier : Sultana, only minor parts of the Beys are still resisting your purge. All of Europe, Syria and Egypt now obey directly under your authority, only the distant parts of Africa still resist you.

Mrs. Közem Sultana : Excellent Vezier, but there is a subject i would talk to you about. My husband, as you know, have fallen ill....

The Grand Vezier : My Sultana, Ahmed is in perfect health, just yesterday he went on a hunting.

Mrs. Közem Sultana : Silence Vezier or i will have your head cut off! When i say my husband is sick, hes damn well sick!
Though i wont care much about the demise of his mortal body, i care pretty much about staying in power. Now, my three sons are too young to take the throne and sadly, Ahmeds second wife Hadice has a son who is just at the right age. This "Osman" is also very much against my reign, so ive found just the perfect sucessor!

The Grand Vezier : Glamorous Sultana, surely you dont mean...?

Mrs. Közem Sultana : Yes Vezier! Get that damn Mustapha out from the asylum, its time for him to do something good!

And thus to avoid loosing power, Közem appointed the outright mad uncle of Ahmed, Mustapha. This might have been a smart move from the eyes of Közem, but Mustaphas mental state would cause a very great strain on the efforts of the government, mainly by overriding the Sultanas orders time and time again. Still, the Empire was saved once again from anarchy!
When the situation was going out of control, Mustapha was shoved out and Osman, the son of Hadics finally gained access to the throne, on one condition. That he would abide Közem in all matters but the military. Közem, a great economic mind, began taking care of the perhaps rich, but incredibly inneficient Ottoman economy.
 
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Venice 1600-1622

Domestic policies

The inflation in Venice had risen to 20% by 1600. This was seen as a major problem for the future developments in the Republic. Plans were begun to get the infrastructure more efficient, which would also lead to lowering the inflation to more acceptable levels. However, much was debated for *how* the process should be done, and thus it was not until 1620's that the first mayors were apointed. To afford these new mayors more money were printed, which actually lead to inflation rising. By 1622 inflation was already 25%, but the first mayors were already battling against corruption and for better efficiency.

As usual trading was seen as the main source of income. The Republic is after all a trading nation. Unfortunately the trade-war against Genoa ate away much of the trading, and the stability issues caused also harm to the traders.

It had been decided years ago that the Republic would be developed towards a more Plutocratic society. Steps where taken for this, until it could be said Venice was the most plutocratic society on the face of earth. Aristocrats attempted to

New Universities were opened in Veneto and Firenze. Unfortunately both of these were not actually budgeted for, so loans had to be taken to build them. It was however seen the loans where worthwhile as a new wave of innovativiness burst through the society. With modesty it can be said that Venice is carrying the torch of innovativeness of the true Christians.

While it was indeed seen that a plutocratic nation would be a necessity for the trading, and innovativiness would indeed be the key to keep the Venetian traders able to provide new and useful goods and methods, it was also seen a more centrally lead nation would be able to answer the problematic situations easier. Petitions for redress were seen as rightfull choices, even though they initailly caused some harm for the internal stability (and thus unfortunately for trade too). While the Republic is still quite de-centralised compared with certain autocracies, many decissions are nowadays made centrally be legislative orders by the Doge in Venice.

The call had been sent out for explorers. None answered the call still, and it was viewed as the biggest loss of Venice. Venetian traders would have been very willing to trade in the trading posts and the different centers of trade around the world

International policies

Venice was allied with Poland and Sweden in 1620. Negotiations where conducted with both allies, and with the neighbours of Venice too. The alliance seemed to suite Venetian needs very weel. The diplomatic core also got the impression that France and Austria too were pleased at having a secure diplomatic front in Italy, as Venice certainly wouldn't want to threathen either of them.

The political turmoil in north ended with Poland and Sweden splitting ways. Venice stayed in the alliance with Poland, and was then joined by Russia.

Venice got into two wars against Sweden. As Venice was not in a position to send any military help hundreds of ducats was sent to Poland (and about 100d to Russia) to help their war-efforts. Unfortunately this sending of money happened at the same time as the new universities were issued back home.

The Genoan situation was interesting, as the city of Genoa itself was held by rebels for 14 years. At the same time 32,000 men resided in Corsica but where not wanting to end the rebellion. Neither was the the Pope (the Genoan ally) willing to take actions.

Venice began talks with with Genoese officials, but the mistrust had been built in since long. In fact many venetians believed it would be time to end the rivaling Genoan markets for good. France (who had annexed Savoy) seemed to be also willing to end the problematic Genoan rebellion. Negotiations were opened, but then France got into a large war, and apparently lost all interest in the Italian situation.

Venice then decided alone to attempt a hostile takeover of the Genoan markets. It was decided that Corsica would be annexed and the Genoans be put under taxation. As the Pope was not giving any certain issues, an army was moved towards Marche too. The Pope wisely decided to stay out of the war (OOC: Darn...) and broke the alliance with Genoa. The forces could then fully be concentrated against Genoa.

The city of Genoa was easily taken and the fleet of Venice easily beat the Genoese navy. The 32 thousand men strong homeguard of Corsica proved to be a very hard nut indeed. The Corsican defenders were brought down to 3000 men at one point, but then they began a rapid rebuilding. Seeing the possibility slipping away the Venetian high command did raise a loan, and with the money new troops were gathered fast, and Corsica finally fell. Corsica was annexes, and Genoa made a vassal of Venice.

Conclusion
Venetian economy is in tatters. On the other hand, it has now a solid territorial hold, and inflation should be brought down during the following decades. Venetian trade is also in bad shape, but it should be able to be brought up to regular standards as soon as the internal stability has been brought up again. Venice *should* come out of this economically stronger than ever. Hopefully an explorer will join the Venetian fleet at some point...


A few facts of Venice 1600 -> 1622
Trade 6 -> 7
Infra 4 -> 5
Land 16 -> 17
Naval 17 -> 18
Stab +3 -> +1
Infl 20% -> 25%

Ari 3 -> 0
Cen 3 -> 5
Inn 7 -> 9
Mer 8 -> 8
Off 2 -> 2
Lan 2 -> 2
Qua 6 -> 6
Ser 5 -> 5

Venice suffered in all -12 to stab from events and DOW's during this session... Pretty bad for trade.
 

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*Deleted*
 
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Wyvern

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France 1600 - 1622

The early years of the 17th century were a brief golden age for France. Henri of Navarre had triumphed over the Habsburgs in the old Spanish Lowlands driving them out and helping create a free Dutch state. He had strengthened France both at home and overseas through the reaquisition of Lorraine and the incorporation of Savoy into the realm, a longterm ally and vassal who came to Henri for protection following the aggressive moves by the Habsburg Emperors in annexing many of their small neighbours under the fanaticism of Ferdinand.

Sadly all golden ages must pass and for France this came too soon in the years following Henri's death in 1610 and the ascension to the throne of Louis. Louis wasn't a weak man and in a more peaceful and less treacherous age he might have proved a capable king. Certainly on the domestic front he pushed through Henri's reforms to completion setting up a uniform taxation scheme across the whole country as well as the colonies that would greatly benefit the national purse. In foreign affairs the best that can be said is that he was naive.

When the Netherlands invaded the Germans principality of Munster without consulting her allies it was inevitable that the Holy Roman Emperor would react. Louis in his foolishness tried to walk a delicate line and failed badly, though it is fair to say he failed primarily in his trust. He refused to abandon his ally when the Dutch called upon his help, but agreed with the Emperor that a white peace would be appropriate and that the French weren't about to help the Dutch expand into the HRE. It must have been most galling therefore when the Emperor having got his desire over Munster then ignored all protocol, nay even ignored all reason and any plausible casus belli and launched a full scale invasion of France together with Spain. Louis fought bravely enough but he was no Henri, and the English, gallant though they were in aiding the French cause were quickly defeated and forced from the fight. A long bloody campaign then proceeded whence the French armies were gradually worn down. Many victories, nay even the majority of victories, were scored by the French on the field of battle, but the French couldn't be everywhere at once. In the north the Austrians were driven from French soil on numerous occasions, and Piemonte in the south east passed back and forth between Austrian and French control. Eventually though the superior manpower and mercenary buying power of the Habsburgs triumphed. Louis still held the Austrian at bay but the Spanish forces were too much for him and he had to concede defeat. Though it galled him greatly the French people of Lorraine would have to suffer under the iron boot of the Austrian Archduke, whilst Luxemboug would be returned to Spanish control. In the colonies losses were suffered too, with a number of trading posts along the Congo border burnt to the ground and replaced by Austrian TP's and the province of Mobile taken by the Spanish under Papal fiat.

Luxemboug, this loss did not trouble Louis or the French court greatly. A recent gain and now relinquished, it had never developed a place in the French heart as an integral part of the nation. Lorraine however was a sad loss that would long be remembered, as would the Austrian betrayal. Louis was a realist though and knew after this crushing defeat that his country could only utter diplomatic protests at best. His role would be to rebuild the country and make it strong for his successors. A re-evaluation of French foreign policy was needed Louis decided, and he vowed to begin it during the remainder of his reign.
 

TheArchduke

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Austria 1559-1564
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The scene is the meeting room of the Geheimer Rat of the Habsburg Empire in Austria. The year is 1562 during late August. 3 people are sitting around a round table with 20 chairs around it. Von Witzleben, the minister for internal affairs studies some pieces of paper intently. He is quite meagre and wears a monocle. Next to him another person sits down. He is Von Lebkuchen, the minister for external affairs. A very thick person sits on the other side of the table, apparently sleeping.

"Looking over the evaluations of the polish war?" Von Lebkuchen inquires.

"Yes, His Majesty has recovered from his lethargy concering the polish issue. He wants to know, what we propose, that this doesn´t happen again. Relations with Poland are - despite the Release of Pommern - still strained." Von Witzleben answers.

"Sad to know that so many ducats and soldiers were vasted in those battles. Too many for sure." says von Lebukchen as he looks at the numbers and the picture attached to it. It shows a painting of the battle of Krakow with Imperial troops running like mad away from the polish cavalry. Although painted from a hill behind the imperial troops it seems for unknown reasons unfinished "not very glourious.."


The door opens and a steady stream of more or less important people emerges, various other ministers, officiers and officals. After all have sat down the Emperor Ferdinand comes into the room. He walks across the room, behind the chairs whilst speaking.

"Gentlemen, we have the year 1558. As I have finally decided to move against the biggest enemy of Austria, the Ottoman Empire to the south, we need to reform the army throughly."

"Isn´t Poland our enemy? As we have finally finished upgrading our fortifications in the new crownlands in Bohemia.."
Von Witzleben throws in.

"Poland has released Pommern and retreated from Mecklenburg as we demanded and thus the imperial honour was restored, despite the shortcomings of the Imperial army." Ferdinand glared towards Von Stirpitz, who was growing smaller under Ferdinand´s look. "And with pleasure I announce that Franz-Joseph is the new commander of our Forces and will be promoted to Field Marshall. Von Stirpitz you are retiring."

Ferdinand snips with his fingers and immeaditly two guards emerge from outside and take the chair von Von Stirpitz with him sitting on it out. The tension is growing in the room.

"From now on, my dear advisors, Austria will seek to strengthen herself by expanding, not by fighting senseless fights for a dying Empire. I have already laid out plans with my dear cousin Felipe to destroy the evil ottoman empire or drive them out of Hungary."

"Most daring indeed, Majesty, but we sure aren´t strong enough to do this on our own, no?" von Lebkuchen throwed in.

"No that´s why I brought three more people in this meeting. Mr Ponschowsk, the ambassador of the russian empire has provided us with the information that the persian-ottoman war isn´t going good for the Ottoman Empire, " Mr Ponschowsk stands up and the everyone in the room gives him a friendly applause." , War exhaustion is rising in the OE and the people are unhappy. The time has come for the Empire to strike back." All of sudden Ferdinand begins to look really frightening.

Ferdinand walks to the next person, who looks italian, standy behind his chair and rests his arms on the shoulders of him.

"Mr. Salieri here the ambassador of the Venetian republic has assured us that Venice will secure our flank whilst the imperial army scrambles for Budapest."

Still unimpressed, the gathered advisors were not persuaded and von Lebkuchen was beginning to speak as Ferdinand cut him off and walked over to the next seat, where a small, totally insignificant person sat. He carried numerous purses.

"And this, dear Gentlemen, is Mr. Schmidt."

Silence.

"He is the one carrying the ducats from the spanish embassy to the Imperial court!"

Storming applause.

"And now off to the planning table, we have an Empire to destroy and another one to create!" Ferdinand laughs maniacally and all fall in, too. All except for the think person which is still sleeping and strangely noone takes notice.


Pest September 29th 1564

"....And so after my smashing victory of Kara Mustapha in Maygar against countless Ottomans..." Franz-Joseph said to his personal advisor who was busy writing the report for Vienna.

"Shouldn´t it be: "Vastly outnumbered Ottomans, fleeing from the might of the imperial army, being helplessly slaughtered, caught unaware?" Bernhard, the personal advisor threw in.

"Doesn´t come so good. Why should they know that resistance was spare. Come to think about it, double the number of the ottoman troops I annihilated. Comes better. Where was I?"

Franz-Joseph continues to dictate the outcome of his campaign in Hungary up to now, when a scout runs into the Field Marshall Tent and brings him a note. After hastly reading it, Franz-Joseph turns to Bernhard.

"Pack my stuff, the ottoman main army is coming through Croatia crossing the Danube, closing in on our position."

"Aren´t we going to fight them?"

"No, not at all, we will meet with our reinforcements and the spanish contigent under Duke Alba in Krain, if we have luck, we will catch the ottoman army unaware of our support and if we loose the battle, which is even more important, I can blame the Duke of Alba."


The battle at Krain some days later:
Krainbattle.jpg
 
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Peter Ebbesen

the Conqueror
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Tales of the Rus: Chapter V, "The Time of Troubles"

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- The Reign of Too Many Tsars To Accurately Count (-1612) -
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- the Rise of Mikhael, First of the Romanovs (1612-1645) -​

Summary: A Tsar dies. People are ecstatic and kill each other. Another Tsar dies. People kill each other. Polacks help to restore order. A third Tsar dies. A metropolitan has just about had enough with all those crownings. People kill even more of each other. The first Romanov takes the throne. Sweden is attacked by Russia, Poland sides with Russia! Poland wins big while Russia takes a beating. The Tsar is not amused. The Swede is philosophical. Colonisation continues. Sweden attacks Poland, Russia sides with Poland. Russian cossacks save Polish capital. Fall of Gustav "Fucking Unreal Leader" II Adolf. Sweden takes a beating. Russia wins big. The Swede is not amused. The Tsar is philosophical.


[The main text will appear when I have the time. ETA Wed 29/10 or Thu 30/10.]