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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Cornelius Rex

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June 1099-April 1100. A little Welsh town in Bavaria.

Oh, hello. Sorry, I'd completely forgotten about your visit. We're moving out today!

Yes, well, I wouldn't call it a surprise but it is a bit unexpected. I hope. You see, we're going to war, but we haven't declared yet. One of Dad's tricks. He used to call it a "Jimenez Breakfast".

But, well, since you're here we can run a bit of a fast review of these months. Let's see.

First thing of note happened just before Sanfermines 1099. Amat won another tourney at his 54 years. Probably scared the other champion with his bad language or false chompers or something; I was away doing some errands in Central Europe, so I missed it. The problem is that the foreign champion managed to unhorse Amat, and Amat's bones are not what they were. So after getting up, getting crowned victor, and using all kinds of foul language on the defeated, he sat down and called for the medics. And what do you know, he had broken his hip.





So, well, I entrusted the expedition to Oberbayern to my faithful dukes of Austria and Carinthia.

What? Yes, Oberbayern. You see, the king of Wales had been at it again and had given umbrage to the count of Mide, in Ireland, who had rebelled against my rule. He was probably hoping that our recent truce and lack of claims would keep me off his neck. But they didn't.



Ah yes. I forgot. Maybe you don't remember that the remains of the Kingdom of Wales are in Oberbayern. Very typical Bavarian village, now full of Welsh.



In any case, I got myself a claim on his throne and, this time, when we signed the peace I took the crown from him. It almost looked as if I was doing Cadwgan a favour, the way he accepted and ran away from the tent. He's kept his province and is currently independent, but I'm betting he'll soon be a vassal of some of my dukes. And I'm pretty certain whom will he choose. Tell you why in a moment.



After that, I took a while to look at the map. The largest swathe of central Europe still out of Navarra was the Duchy of Saxony, a vassal to the Swedish crown; they weren't the only piece of land coloured blue on my map. And most of them are in the way. So I also ordered a couple of claims against them.



This is how the rest of the world looks today, according to my cartographers.









And this is what the world thinks of each other, according to the Guild of Heraldics. You'll notice that a Byzantine island is currently holding the roost, and my systematic falsification of claims is taking its toll...



Not that it impresses citizens. I had to allow independent judges in Venezia to stop a long-running rebellion. It's worth taking a public snub: Venezian taxes are a large part of my income.



And now, I'm sorry to leave you, but my armies are embarking for Sweden and, even if Anonymous has again come to the fore, I want to be around. This is one of the most complicated countries we've attempted to tackle yet.



The plan is simple: we'll attempt to grab the royal demesne before they can gather. The problem, now, is that the demesne has a very bad shape for that, and the vassals are many...

 

Enewald

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Is Methone not on Peleponnesos?
And what did they do? Who is their ruler?
 

Cornelius Rex

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Byzantine imperial family ;). If not an ex-emperor himself.
 

Cornelius Rex

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April 1100 - November 1100. Saxony is won across the Baltic.

I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest. (Rev 6:1-2)
John the Apostle at Patmos, writing the Apocalypsis. Year 70.



On the year 1, the world will not end.
And the churches of God will lose their edge.
On the year 2, the First Seal will break.
And the crowned one will cross the seas.
On the year 3, ...

On the year 9, the world will end.
And the Lamb will rule from His home again.

Yitzak Nosladamus at Basra, uncovering a code in the Apocalypsis. Year 999.


Well, back home for Christmas. Some of us.

In 1092, I had launched a small invasion (less that forty hundred warriors) from the island of Ireland against the island part of Wales. This was a different affair: almost two hundred hundreds of lances carrying the symbols of the Imperial crown and chains, crossing the icy seas.



The Swedish War was faster than anticipated, but not cheaper. I launched the same flying columns that had conquered Bohemia (some came from as far away as Treviso), plus a few reinforcements, across the Baltic sea, and occupied King Erik's lands before issuing the reclamation. It was beautifully worded, it explained my irrefutable right to the crown of Sweden. It didn't matter: there was war.



There were few events of note, to be fair. The Swedish troops didn't manage to beat our grasp on their provinces, and it was a matter of fending them off while the sieges progressed.





But the cold of the North was bad news for the wounds of Amat, who is really feeling his years now.





The only distraction during the campaign was some noise from Outremer: some count or another had decided to become an independent realm. They can try: as long as I control the duchies, they won't get far. And I have every ducal title in our lands of Outremer. So the news didn't upset the warring parties.



Indeed it was a calm, chivalrous war. Both Erik and I conducted it as it should be: a honourable dispute about the validity of some documents. The fact that our arguments wore armour and trounced each other on the battlefield was no reason to behave as anything else that civilized neighbours.





I even took some time off in August to hunt with the Duke of Deheubarth, in Britain. He was quite interested in the campaign. Probably looking forward to being involved in some closer to home. But the King of England is not just my brother in law: he's also a very tough nut.



When we concluded the peace, I left Erik his four counties. To tell you the truth, I'm pretty certain that won't be a problem: he will have to fragment his realm and will be eventually absorbed by one duchy or another. Hopefully one of mine. Else, we'll meet again.



But the key to this war was not the crown of Sweden across the seas. It was the Duchy of Saxony, on the coast. And the vassals Erik had even closer to the heart of my empire. That was a risk that I wasn't taking, and aiming at the Swedish head proved easier that waging war on the Saxon body would have been.

 

Cornelius Rex

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Good manners anyhow :).
 

enf91

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Yeah. They kill kindly. It's nothing personal, after all. It's just conquest.
 

Cornelius Rex

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OK :). By popular request...
 

Cornelius Rex

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November 2nd 1100. Coming out of the closet.

After the conquest of Sweden, and regardless of the standing of Navarra, foreign Courts were starting to look a bit worried. I had my diplomats tell them that it was just a matter of returning home, that the Jimenez were Visigoth and we had just gone back to our ancestral land. Nothing to worry about. Pleasant neighbor and all that. It didn’t quite take.



So I convened a Council, called in my dear wife and other notables, and proceeded to create and give a host of titles. Most of them went to Cristina, who played her role of leading-noblewoman-curtailing-Emperor’s-power very well.

I also had another message to give. So I banged my scepter on the nearest seneschal, who gave an appropriately hollow gong-g-g-g sound, and they all quieted down a bit.

“Ladies and gentlemen”, I said, “there is something I have to ask of you.”

Cue murmur of agreement, obsequious smiles and bobbing of heads.

“Drop the conspirations. It’s betting boring. This morning I counted sixty-seven people in dark robes and deep hoods slinking along the passageways and bouncing off columns. You have exchanged so many secret handshakes before this meeting that I could hardly help laughing out loud. It looks like a kindergarten!”



Cue ashamed looking at feet and mumbling excuses, except two who looked around in surprise as if this was the first news they had. Laura was one, Amat the other.

“You think that because my spymistress is part of the game, I would not notice.” Laura jumped up as if pricked here. “Well, listen up: she’s not the sharpest intriguer in this Court. I have other means of finding out. About the 'Sisterhood', and the 'Secret Guardians', and the 'Holy Society', and the 'Rosacrucians', and the 'Keepers of the Lamb', and… what was that… the 'Faithful Sons of the Vimes Shoe'. To name but a few.”

Everyone was looking down now, some reddening slightly. Amat was busy with his nails again and trying to play it cool, but I know he leads a secret offshoot of the Almogávers known as the 'Desperta Ferro', who want to put the whole Mediterranean to the sword before calling in at Constantinople. Cristina's intelligence outfit at the Duchy of Pisa is working like a charm.

“You can drop it now. I know who you are and what you want. If you want to propose anything, just put in on the table. If it sounds preposterous when spoken in the open, it’s probably because it is actually preposterous. But let there be an end to the hooding and conspiring and tripping each other, because we have work to do!”

And it was true. After dissolving the meeting, I had a long chat with Cristina and Ingeborg about the next steps.

You see, all these months of hearing about a Plan had given me reason to think. And I had thought. And now we do have a plan. It involves war and devastation, daring strategy and reckless expenditure of human lives. Possibly famine and certainly lots of foul play with the fabrication of claims. But it will also necessarily involve very careful planning and a lot of praying, or we risk losing everything faster than we have gained it.

We will start slow, but, just as our dear conspiranoiacs dreamed of, Navarra is going to war.

On the whole world.
 
Last edited:

enf91

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Yeah. You plant babies in the ground and they eventually turn into children (kindergarten = garden of children, literally).
 

Cornelius Rex

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Over a hundred screenies died to bring you these images.

November 1100-December 1101. Finland, Hungary, Burgundy, Italy... wait, didn't I miss something there?

Hold it! Hold it! It's a map you were about to sit on!

That's it. Put it on the table. On top of the rest. We have so many maps around these days.

So you want an update? Ok, let's see, where do I begin... in late 1100 we were still assessing options. I remember we discarded going for Poland, where Bolko was still playing squash-the-vassal with some success. It looked like too much trouble for a kingdom that couldn't last.

And yes, in November we had declared war on the County of Finland, and on their liege. It's a long story. A Finnish scholar told me about a way to force the Pope's hand, but his method required a Catholic Finland. So a 6000-strong corps of our Sweden expeditionary force went to see the sights across the Baltic.



They tell me it's impressive in winter. It must have been invigorating, too, because they succeeded. Either that, or the locals couldn't be bothered to come out and fight in the snow. By mid February we had a foothold in the ice, and our troops could take cover in the enemy's hearths. They didn't emerge until March, for an attack on the enemy's heartland in Nyland.



Talking about invigorating. Old Amat managed to get a miracle-worker to pray for him, and left his sick bed in time for the main action.



And we started soon, with a stealth attack: the opportunity was too good to miss. By the end of January, we had discreetly concentrated six thousand lances and several catapults at Pressburg, the capital of the Kingdom of Hungary. Ingeborg herself then delivered a message to King Géza: my claims to his crown and to the county itself, and two lines of her own:



"Resistance is futile. Prepare to be assimilated".

She was right. Our army was small, but under Duke Fausto, it worked swiftly. The king of Hungary could not get his vassals to defend him in time. His castle was besieged and occupied in February 23rd, his garrison imprisoned, and his family put under arrest before help could arrive.



So, not unreasonably, he surrendered his crown and kept his county. And the Empire grew to the East so fast that new vassals had trouble finding red flags for every castle.

In May, our brave northern expedition trekked North to Kajanaborg, the second province in the domain of the Chief of Tabasts, where the Finnish put up a hard fight but (at 2:1 odds) were eventually beaten. Despite the spring, the troops of Duke Friedrich von Zaringen were evidently spoiling to get over the fighting and return to better climates.



Kajanaborg fell in June 28th. The Chief was a hard bone to break, the locals kept harassing our supply trains, and the Corps was rather frozen (not to mention shaken at the sight of the aurora borealis), so we settled for the province of Nyland, which I promptly turned into a Bishopric, for reasons best explained later on, and disbanded the army. As it happens, soon after that my (recently acquired) vassal the count of Finland, a son of the Chief, acquired claims on his seat. We will enforce them sometime soon.




In June, too, we took a step I'm a bit afraid of. We made preparations to attack the Kingdom of Germany. Yes, the heir of the old Holy Roman Empire. Much diminished in land, but still holding on to so many Catholic crowns that I couldn't spare him. He could be a rallying point for discontented vassals.

So in July, just after the Sanfermines, hostilities broke out in Tirol, and soon in every German province. Ravenna fell in August, despite the old walls and the infamous marshes, and Mantua followed soon after. I had the German King brought over to Burgos while hostilites lasted.



The last province in his domain, Marmaros in the East, didn't fall until late November. On the 26th I had the crowns of Italy and Burgundy on my table, and von Franken started packing to ride back to his lands.



And then, well... I'm almost ashamed to say this. I declared war on him. Again. This time for the crown of Germany itself. He was quite upset at having to undo the baggage, not to mention taking it up the stairs again.


There were some rebellions. Anjou, for instance, put up a spirited fight in December 1100 and early 1101. But it was soon quashed. The Bishopric of Amiens made some trouble too, but it didn't get far (surrendered in March). The attention of my vassals was not exactly there.






Tangiers rebelled too (after all the trouble Navarra had taken for them) and in late February corrective action was taken. Not just for the principle of it: the rebels were holding to the Chains of Navarra, which I had housed at the main Palace in Infa. The war didn't end until October when Infa finally fell. I had the Chains of Navarra brought to Burgos, and stripped the Emir of every province to give them to Cristina, along with the Duchy. She could take care of redistribution in her turn.



And in September, in the middle of the war against Germany, Rome revolted. Not really surprising considering the ferment of conspiracy and agitation, with the Pope and his enemies pushing the population every way and the first heretics poking fun at the establishment. A cavalry demonstration by the garrison settled the issue fast.



Clearing off the bad feelings created by those wars had a price, but one Cristina and I had decided to pay. My reputation worsened as the Empire grew, but it improved when I gave away duchies and provinces: the vassals, and the rivals, were less afraid if my personal power didn't grow. So I gave Cristina (and other deserving nobles) large numbers of titles and some provinces after each war in 1101. She became the overlady of Ireland, holding three Duchies in it, among other things. The end result was that my reputation survived, and Cristina's standing in the world rose beyond any expectation.





This led to other, peaceful annexations. The ex-king of Croatia and some other friends decided to join the Duchy of Pisa as vassals, for instance. I also made new friends, with the Counts of Corsica and Albarracín.

Not all news from Pisa were good. Enrique, our latest son, died too despite all the Tuscan sun could do for him. Sozzo, the younger of the survivors, was developing a quite introverted character, and in June fell ill. But it seems to have done his soul some good. By October they tell me he was an example of humility.



But we kept together. The Count of Forcalquier schemed to throw the young Elena de Provence in my arms, but between her nose and my awareness that the whole kingdom depended on keeping on the "Emperor and Duchess Show", I found it easy to resist temptation in spite of distance.


All through the year there were religious troubles. In Palermo, after a famous scandal involving a young curate and a younger girl of good burgher family, the town elders petitioned to have their city laws set above the Canonical Code, so they could judge the misbehaving priest themselves. I granted that, but forbid the father (and grandfather) from sitting on the bench.



In Jerusalem, the Muslims and the Jews were both agitating to obtain privileges for their worshippers, and fighting each other when they had time. So I decided make all Temple Mount into a shrine, where any cult but the Catholic one is now violently persecuted. That shut them up, and if the enormous numbers of conversions hide some recreants that just want a way to worship in the Mount, that is between them and the Lord.

In March we had news from the Pope. He had the nerve to ask for Valencia, to settle there in a new Papal State. I told his envoy it was Jerusalem or nothing. The envoy left grumbling, but there wasn't much he could do to hurt me. Less than a month later, in late April, the same envoy was back again asking for my land. I rebuffed him again. He didn't seem to believe it. Pitiful.



In late June, he was back again, and this time he asked for Rome itself. I denied the request... and the result was not just bad blood with the Pontiff, but a small rash of hereticism in Rome. Seems the populace were enjoying the lack of a Pope to keep them on the straight and narrow. I can't say it worried me. Jerusalem or nothing.


And that was more or less the past year. Two very targeted actions with small armies in Finland and Hungary, and a very risky (for my reputation) assault on the weak scion of Germany... who were the most powerful kingdom in Christiandom less than 40 years ago. Let that be a reminder of what may happen to us if we slip. Which may happen, if I keep running out of heirs.

And our heartbreaker Lodovica, you ask? Well, she did get some new marriage offers. The eldest son of the Count of Faro, for instance. She's still here at the Palace, though. Doesn't play too many pranks of late.

Here's a couple of maps to explain the situation in January 1102. The upper northern square is inhabited by Denmark, Norway, England and Scotland. The space East beyond the map (there's quite a bit) is full of pagans and Muslims.



And here's the state of the Imperial Map over the chimney.

 
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Cornelius Rex

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Good question :). The fear should keep Luis chaste :lol:.

Any bets on the next steps / disasters / things to look for?
 
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Cornelius Rex

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Not a bad list :D.

Luis has a lot of piety, but if the Pope keeps asking for Rome three times a year, he'll be excommunicable very soon.

Heirs are a real problem too. Only one is healthy. And he's nothing to write home about, either...
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Give Rome to the Pope and live in peace of spirit...
 

Cornelius Rex

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If neccesary :D.

It's a race: see where Luis can get to, before the Pope gets his claws on him. If Luis gets where I want... the Pope will not get Rome back :). "Jerusalem or nothing".
 

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Had to play some catch-up here. You did not disappoint :)
 

Cornelius Rex

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Very glad to hear it :).

I've hit a couple of bumps (projects coming off better than expected and demanding more time) so the writing is slower... but I think it will recover soon.