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Cornelius Rex

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(Draft; pictures to be added later :) for lack of tools in this frigging machine).

January 1102-January 1103. When the going gets desperately tough, Amat gets all intellectual. Or “We are hated throughout the whole world”.

Sand, sand and more sand. I read the north of Africa was once the Romans’ bread basked, but nowadays it seems there has been some climate change. At least, so I am told by my generals. I haven’t returned there for years.

But do sit down. It’s a long story, this time. And, as usual, it’s partly the Pope’s fault. Not that I can get many to share that opinion…

Let’s start at the beginning. In January 1103 I managed to reoccupy the last fortresses of the Kingdom of Germany. It didn’t take as much effort as the previous time: the battlements were still broken everywhere and the garrisons depleted.

As soon as the news arrived, together with the prisoners, I had Eberhard von Franken called back from his rooms again (he insisted in brooding and talking about “being imprisoned”, but he had the run of the Palace during those months and actually seemed to enjoy himself playing petanca in the garden). I allowed him to meet his captured garrison commanders in privacy and to form his own picture before calling him to audience.

Well, I have to say it. The last King of Germany behaved with dignity as he signed away his throne and the Duchy of Swabia. I liked his attitude so much that I let him keep the Duchy of Franconia and all of his provinces.

But when I turned back to my courtiers, all wore worried looks. After the (now) Franconian deputation departed, they became so glum as to be nearly reproachful. To put it into a nutshell, everyone was absolutely scared of the impact of this “expoliation of a historical, annointed family”, “desacralization of the remains of the Holy Roman Empire” and generally “breaking the principle of God-given authority of a King over his subjects”. In short, they feared we’d be facing a very ugly backlash, internal and external, for this.

Then there was the Pope. The old buzzard up and died on me. And the new one was controlled (you wouldn’t guess it) by the Count of Jülich. Yes. A single-county Count was the new protector of the landless Pope.

Well, I couldn’t have that, so I revoked the title of the Count. And he very meekly and appropriately renounced it. Which was great, except for the fact that most of my nobility was absolutely shocked at such an arbitrary action against a very loyal vassal. And we were again dumped into the legitimacy question, with risk of rebellions growing like weeds. I did everything I could, including sending Cristina a new slew of titles (Jülich included, and some twenty duchies: she’s got a roomful of coronets for the kids to play with). It helped a bit . We were no longer hated throughout the whole world. We were just regarded as dishonourable scum.

Amat, of all people, had an answer. He put it forth at a Great Council shortly after.

“My Lord Emperor, lords and ladies councellors”, he started, after gargling and spitting to clear his throat “I think we all have heard enough of the legitimacy problem. We know the Pope is currently unenthusiastic and stirring dissent. We know some people fear Navarra has broken too many crowns instituted by God and backed by the Church. And we know less haughty people simply worry that if Luis of Navarra here will not stop at throwing the von Frankens out of their home, he will stop at nothing, and all feudal relations are in jeopardy.

“But think.” He continued, as his listeners assented, “The Emperor has been established by the Pope himself to take care of the temporal matters of the Church. He has every right to take under his scepter any Christian kingdom, indeed it could be argued that he *should* do it, and so gather all Christendom under a single secular head, with the Pope acting as spiritual head, and the one reinforcing the other.

“It doesn’t matter that there is currently little chance of the Vicar of Christ seeing things that way”, he lifted a hand to quell comments. “We have the armies to enforce this view, and we have the people and the power to make these arguments heard. We can sway the opinions of the public, at least inside the Empire.”

“But” interjected Simonis, the Chancellor, “this kind of argumentation would give every Catholic kingdom an argument for war! It would be like a declaration of intent to revoke their crowns!”

“So it would”, nodded Lodovica, my Steward, liking the idea. “But only if we officially sponsored this view. We need only make it heard and taught all over Europe, not spread it openly from the Chancery. Indeed we can distance ourselves from it if asked”.

“That wouldn’t fool anybody!”, said some backbencher, who got instantly cuffed for speaking out of turn.

“Sire”, Laura the Spymistress turned to me, “this would be buying internal peace with the promise of foreign war!”

I took a time to meditate it, but of course there was nothing to argue. There was no other option, and further, I liked it.

“We don’t have a choice”, I said, and they knew it was true. “If establishing the principle of single Imperial authority is the price of avoiding civil war, we will establish it. If other sovereigns feel that this questions their right to rule independently, I think we can handle them. Neither Scotland, nor Norway or Denmark can dream of hurting us. England is probably another matter, especially now that my sister Garcenda is no longer Queen, but the family links are strong and I doubt we will have real trouble there. Poland is run by an excommunicated who has nothing more to fear. In short… it is decided. We will inherit the von Franken policy of Imperial supremacy in every material matter, and expand it to include a single throne for all Catholic Christendom. By next month this should be pushed, taught, and written through every channel we can control, directly and indirectly. Understood?”

Widespread nodding of heads. Only one remained still, eyebrow arched, general look of wizened-head-skeptically-regards-brat-who-doesn’t-get-it.

“Yes, Amat?”

“It will not be enough, Sire”, gruffed the Marshall. “You’re too feared and loathed right now for the nobles to listen to learned argumentations. The only way to correct your reputation fast enough to avoid problems is to earn the respect of the commoner as a defender of their faith and their customs.”

“In other words…?”, I urged him.

“Ehrm. Well, yes, my lord. You need to kick heathen ass, fast and hard. In other words, war. But this time, against the enemies of the faith, and if possible, against some of them that the people can actually identify.”

“A Crusade?”

“Sort of, Sire. I’m thinking about a wholesale invasion of the Barbary and Tripolitanian coasts. Go for the infidel pirates, clean the Mediterranean, show that the Emperor is really there to protect the faithful and do things their own princes can’t do. In short, use the sword to illustrate the truth of the new legitimacy theories”.

“Ehm… let me think about that”.

Well, no need to bother you with the details. I placated the worst of the fears of the nobility by giving Cristina a cartload of duchies and several counties. I backed some of the leading polemicists and sent them into battle: old Benzo of Alba and Waifer of Montecassino, for instance, and a young brat called Bernard of Fontaines who apparently can hold his own in debate with only thirteen years.

And we started the war in Africa. Currently, both Amat and his up-and-coming sidekick, Esteve, are burnishing my credentials as defender of Christendom by taking as many Sheikdoms and Emirates as we can get a hold on. Amat is pulling a royal rampage with the Alexandria regiment, going West along the Libian coast, and Esteve is playing understudy.

Since we don’t want the whole Muslim and Pagan world to jump at our neck, the conquests are being handled in a most delicate manner, with the sheiks usually left in their seats, a bit shaken up but usually not much the worse for the change in allegiance. We have already overrun the Tripolitania coast and the Kingdom of Beni Helal, and I don’t plan to stop until my reputation shines more than the Chains of Navarra.

By October, things got very critical: vassals everywhere questioned their loyalties, and winning them back was enormously urgent. The debaters and the universities were abuzz, and town squares too, and sometimes the discussions ended in worse than academic fisticuffs. And, yes, there were rebellions. The von Frankens took up arms, and some other minor nobility in Iberia and Gallia Cabelluda (or Belgium as they’ve taken to calling themselves). But they didn’t last long. There was a pretender in Trapani who allowed me to burnish my credentials as a generally good guy.

Then Abelard won a public debate at Notre Dame University in Paris (the old Gallic capital at Ille de France) and the tide changed. We started to see the end of the tunnel. Popularity was low, but no longer disastrous (hey, we poached Maine from England). The people are already beginning to appreciate the benefits of “One Church, One Emperor”. Amat was right, you see. I think we have passed this crisis. Hopefully.

On the other hand, our new policy is very probably taking us into some weird places…

The best satisfaction is knowing that, when I finally convince the Pope to establish in Jerusalem, he will do so in a very becoming apostolic poverty. Didn’t Jesus say, “give into Caesar what is Caesar’s and into God what is God’s”? He should forget about wordly pomp and strife… and let me take care of it. I do pomp beautifully, and as for strife, this year's been a good example.

Me, and eventually my son Juan. Who is already becoming a quite skeptical person.

 
Last edited:

Cornelius Rex

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That's the spirit :).

Now, the pics are late again (editing and uploading are limited in this machine) but to compensate, the next chapter is just about to arrive. No pictures yet, either.
 

Cornelius Rex

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January 1103-December 1103. The blood of Marshalls and the three-legged stool.

Hello again, visitors. Glad to see you. I was needing some distraction. Talking about which, it’d be nice to know how you enter and leave the Palace grounds. It seems you’ve never been seen beyond the antechamber. Maybe I should take you on a little tour… and you can return the favour.

Well, yes, about the year to date. I should be happy to tell you that the plan worked as expected. We’ve rebuilt the trust of my people, and most of the loyalty issues have gone away. But the price has been quite heavy.

No, not the money. And I can’t say I lose sleep over thirty or forty hundred men-at-arms, and less over their enemies. Those were professional warriors and ours were well led. What I’m worried about is my leading generals.

You see, after crushing the Beni Helal, we signed a peace with their King and kept all the coast. And then we attacked the Kingdom of Hammadid, figuring it would be another march through the desert. Yeah. Well, remember my father’s final campaign in Western Africa? The al-Murabitids were fiercer, but they were much fewer that the armies we’ve been fighting ever since. And the King’s domain was positively impossible to hold. We conquered provinces once and again only for them to break free the second we turned our backs.

Not to mention the King of Hammadid could place some punches too. In Sicily, for example, where it took a bit of effort to stop him. And he fostered rebellion as far as he could.

So, well, it was not surprising that first Esteve and then Amat himself, the thick-skinned old boar, got themselves wounded and unable to lead armies. That concentrated minds fast. I had my people sound out a representative bunch of nobles and found that the plan had worked: my reputation was back where I could handle it without fearing massive uprisings. So I grabbed for peace, and luckily it was during one of those times when we were holding the fortress of Tunis, so militarily the adventure was a huge success.

There’s been more good news of late at the court, by the way. You may have met some of the celebrants… No?

Well, the thing is Juan came of age a few months ago. He’s now a dark brooding bearded young man instead of a dark brooding princeling, so I figured we should get him a nice wife. Since we’re challenging the rights of every Catholic realm, I turned to Orthodox Nubia, where I was told this really sweet and brainy girl was just coming out in the debutante circuit. The King of Nubia (currently nearer Crimea) was quite reluctant to part with her, but I sent Juan to do the wooing and he put such sad-dog eyes to the task that it was all settled in the end.



Of course, since the news arrived in June, this year’s Sanfermines have been utterly delirious. Juan was always popular in our homeland, and navarrans never need much of an excuse to party in July. A tall good-looking exotic wench to marry the shorty, dwarfish-looking heir to our throne? Party! He’s done us proud! She says she likes our quaint folklore and customs? Bring out the red neckerchiefs! Everyone on the street not in typical dress gets drenched in wine! She loves the bulls? One more week of running! Bring it on! They’ve even made a song about the pair and the ways to get over the disparity in height. Very loyal and heart-felt, if physiologically improbable. Something about “the maiden and the three-legged stool”. They both blushed the first time they heard it. No wonder.

Makes one feel a bit aged, does it not? I mean, he was born very soon and is just 16, but he could turn me into a grandpa anytime now. It would be good for Navarra, of course…

But I’m happy for Juan. He’s always been such a solemn, serious boy. He still is. Except when he’s with his beautiful Fedora, of course. Then he smiles like a happy child. And for some reason she does too. The Palace’s all up in parties ever since the wedding.

Makes me miss Cristina awfully. She’s been so busy in Pisa, and I in Burgos, that we’ve only managed to meet a couple of times this year. The last time we parted, after the wedding, was a real strain. I hear she’s a bit stressed, but on the whole she’s doing a great job handling her part of the “Emperor and Duchess show”. And no new child deaths in the family. That’s so very important for us I can’t even start to tell you.

And right now, news arrived of Sozzo's pneumonia.

 
Last edited:

Kurt_Steiner

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It seems I missed some updates... Nubia? But, but, but... it's so far away from almost anywhere!!!!
 

Cornelius Rex

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@ Enewald, the name of the girl is Fedora. Maybe she invented that type of hat... :).

@ Kurt, welcome back :). Well, nowadays Nubia is run from the shores of the Black Sea, which is close to Luis' Hungarian provinces... and also, Navarra has the North coast of Egypt. So they're close neighbours, really :).

But the point is, she's really cute. For CK. And those stats...
 
Last edited:

enf91

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What's not to like about her? She's beautiful, she's rich, she's got huge... stat levels.
 

Cornelius Rex

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And the beard :D.

I just spent the last few hours working instead of clipping the pics for upload. Unseemly, I know... but I'll get at them in the end :D.
 

Cornelius Rex

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October 1103-January 1104. News of Doña Muña, and the unfinished taming of rogue Pontiffs.

Trust the Pope to keep us distracted.

Oh, yes, please. Use the decanter yourselves. Else we’ll have to call in a lackey and you know how they freak out with your talking dog and things…

Thanks. Yes, I’ll have some.

Ahh, that’s better. Not that I’m complaining, you know. I think this time I’m onto something with this Papal thing. That is, if my pet conspirators are any good. But I’m getting ahead of the story here.

You see, at the end of last year we got a couple of shocks. First, I got a message from Cristina in Pisa warning me that she’d been browbeaten by the Pope into ceding him the county of Jülich. You may remember the late Count was very close to the Pope Obizzino (well, when I say “late”, I mean I took his coronet from him precisely to try to avoid the Pope inheriting land). Then, it seems the old man tried to travel across half Europe, from Roma to his new see, in the worst of winter, and died on the road.

The interregnum didn’t last long: the bishop of Fürnstemberg was chosen as Pope in a Conclave that was just a hair this side of causing a civil war, and promptly ran to his Jülich realm. He settled in the fortress, all warm and snug, and started conspiring with Guelphs and other traitors all over the Empire.

Well, I couldn’t have that. Even if the new Pope didn’t have a controller to pull his strings, he was a danger to the Empire as long as he didn’t publicly endorse our new Imperial-supremacy doctrine and renounced all land outside of Jerusalem. The whole feudal structure could be broken by an excommunication. If I have him under my thumb, I could probably squelch any attempt to do it. But if he has independent land…

So, well, it was not really a long story. I declared war on the Pope, conquered Jülich, and took it from him. We had a private chat afterwards, he and I… and I told him how things stood. No land unless in Jerusalem. No independence of canonical law. Every ruling bishop to be a vassal of the emperor and appointed by me. He refused to be drawn in any compromise: just blinked, nodded, and looked sad. Until I told him of how we Pope and Emperor would eventually unite the Catholic lands, and his moral authority would be unquestioned in the realm. That perked him up a little. I packed him back to the Lateran in Rome, with a Jerusalem travel brochure.

Ah well.

This reminds me. I’ve been so busy that I simply forgot. Did you know we had new of Doña Muña? Yes, that one.

She was found last year below Montecassino. Mummified. Apparently she’d been living in a sort of monkish cell in the catacombs, writing and running her sisterhood from down there. And then it seems one day she died, quite a while ago judging by her remains, and her people just put her on the bed, tidied and left. Her desk, writings and books were there as if she were expected to get up and return to work the next day. The monks who found her apparently thought they’d walked into a saintly hermit’s refuge, and were already counting the potential relics, until they identified some of the texts on her library.

I had the chance to peruse those writings after Cristina sent them over. It seems she was utterly confused in the end: apparently she couldn’t decide whether her conspiracy had triumphed or I was just going megalomaniac. But it seems she was satisfied that we are doing the right thing. The betting book ends with a note that gives me six chances in ten to “win”. Whatever that means.

Which reminds me of another thing. Since he fell ill and stopped charging about the Empire in January, Amat and I have been working a rather different project. We’ll attempt to conquer a kingdom that doesn’t exist.

Care to bet on which?
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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So there is some Kingdom left? :p

How about state owning manufacturing rights for potential relics?
 

Cornelius Rex

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Hm, a relic monopoly :), not a bad idea. Got to put in on the table next time :D.

Kingdoms left (currently existing and Christian) are Poland, England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway... and Bulgaria, buried under Byzantion.
 

Kurt_Steiner

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A kingdom that doesn't exist?


Mmmh...


Mordor? :D
 

Cornelius Rex

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ROTFL :D.

Well, actually... it's dark, cold, gray... hmmm.
 

enf91

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The Drengin Empire? Wait, that's an empire, not a kingdom. (please tell me someone gets this)
 

Cornelius Rex

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:)

Naaah, that Empire is for the next AAR. The Drengins are so very like the rulers of Dioclea...

On the other hand, this dark, unbuilt kingdom does have some savage customs... wouldn't put it past them to eat a messenger or two.