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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Cornelius Rex

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Thanks, Doctor :). This one will do perfectly.
 

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September 1092
Sent by pigeon to the Royal Palace in Burgos


My liege Lord,

following your instructions I have tracked the bishop that burned Monte Carlo (for it is indeed burned, and no prisoners are recorded or reached trial) and also the message sent by its mistress before it fell.

The bishop is long dead, since 1089, in strange, or at least inusual circumstances: he seems to have wandered into his own dungeons and become lost in them, dying of hunger and thirst before he was found by his minions after a week of search. Of course, being bound and gagged made finding him all the more difficult. The causes of the death had been hushed up, and it took all the collaboration of the authorities to extract it from the episcopal officers.

Even more inusual is the answer that I received from the Abbot of St Bernardine. He says he did not receive the documents from any fleeing page, but from a very old lady travelling in state, with several servants, apparently toward Monte Cassino in the province of Roma.

Tying both pieces of evidence, I dare say that her Royal Highness the Dowager Queen Doña Muña managed to escape the siege, punish the besieger, and run to Monte Cassino to claim sanctuary while secretly sending Your Majesty those papers.

The matter may be delicate, since the current Pope is, as your Highness will remember, the blessed Victor III, former Abbot of Monte Cassino under the name of Desiderius. Whatever secrets he has will be very difficult to wring out.

Victor_III._-_Desiderius_of_Montecassino.jpg

The Pope Victor III as last seen by your agent.

I follow your kind instructions to Monte Cassino, and will send news and contact addresses once I'm again established.

Your obedient servant and secret agent,

Annacletus
 

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September 1092-January 1093. The revenge of the Leaning Tower.

Hello again, my friends. Just a second and I'll be with you. The problem with this new messenger-pigeon system is that it works. Everyone's sending so many p-mails now, and carbon-copying everyone else, that I can't read them all. The pigeon-house is crammed full.

Cristina? Well, she's off attending to some new obligations. I'll tell you about that later.

This has been a rather quiet time for us in Burgos. Of course, it was not so quiet elsewhere, but that was to be expected, if you remember my promises to Cristina while I was travelling in Outremer. And we may just possibly have got ourselves into a bit too much trouble.

You see, she had a really serious case of neighbor-hate with the Duchess of Toscana, a craft old lady who was next door to us when we were Dukes of Pisa. The Duchess of Toscana was always poking fun at our new baptistery tower at Pisa Cathedral. We had only built the first two floors and she was already saying that the building was drunker than its architect. When it became clear that the building was toppling, Cristina was angrier at the Duchess that at the workmen.

She flogged the workmen. And now, of course, she wanted to skin the Duchess. Who just happens to be a vassal of the young King of Poland. A kingdom with almost more domain provinces than us (and a king who has already clashed with us).

So, after putting Lodovica under the thumb of some new educators (which worked, thankfully), I set out to work mobilizing Genoa, Pisa, and all our domains on the north of Italy... and sending them to serve a Jimenez Breakfast to the Duchess with our compliments.

41-1-lodovica.jpg


41-3-positions.jpg


By October the troops were already playing tourist in Firenze and every other province of her domain.

41-4-war.jpg


So we declared war on her. And Poland declared war on us.

41-5-breakfast.jpg


41-6-brunch.jpg


But while the Duchy's armies were many, ours were more, and we had infiltrated the provinces in such a way that prevented any serious resistance.

41-8-siena.jpg


41-9-modena.jpg


In December, when the Duchess was on her last leg and just before the Polish troops started arriving, Laura came to me with further news on the missing papers of doña Muña. She had put the screws on the master of the ship that carried them from Barcelona to Outremer, and he confessed that he had allowed a monk to handle the package while in the ship, assuming that it was not possible to tamper with it.

When she told me that the monk was (or posed as) a benedictine, I forgot about the state of our finances and rewarded her as deserved.

41-11-laura.jpg


41-12-whiteeagle.jpg


The glad tidings of the victories over the Poles were almost enough to cover the pain for the continuing string of infant deaths in the family.

41-13-catalina.jpg


Only in January, when Cristina became pregnant and we stormed the last bastion of Toscana, things began to look decidedly up.

41-14-good.jpg


In fact, Cristina was so happy that she let the old Duchess escape with her duchy intact. I relinquished my own claims on her counties (they were so new that I didn't feel much pain at it) and she took the oath of vassalage.

41-15-toscaning.jpg


And if Cristina was smirking a bit when the Duchess kissed her hand, who can blame her?

This made us masters of most of north Italy, but left us with an unresolved war with a rival King whose demesne was very, very difficult to dominate. Even if his armies are not very effective, this war is not finished yet and may cost more than expected. In men, time, and money, which is again running out of the treasury like it had an appointment somewhere else.

41-16-northitaly.jpg


That said, our prestige among the nations is still good. So it would seem we're on the right track.

41-17-leaguewelshremains.jpg


And... this is the new map that I'm having painted on the mantelpiece, where Dad's mapamundi was. I had them colour the original Navarra in red, and the latest conquests in darker green.

sep92-jan93.gif


Ooops. It seems there's another p-mail in the message tray. I'd better leave you now. It could be Annacletus.
 
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Cornelius Rex

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"Pigeon-mail". Luis is quite crazy about using the latest technologies. He even has some engineer working on a p-Pad, I hear. One B.S. Johnson.

Matilda was born in 1046, so IRL she would be 47 years old. In-game... I don't remember :).

Today I finished Luis' game at last (reached his goals in a very unexpected way). So I've been trashing over a gig of saves... and now have to process two gigs of screenies :D to see how they fit in a story. Just punishment.
 

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January 1093-June 1093. The revenge of the Leaning Tower (continued)

Right, where were we? Ah, yes, the Tuscan war and the Polish derivations... The first half of 1093 was an eventful year.

In January, when we were trying to sign a fast peace with young King Bolko of Poland, my own son Juan was due to choose an education. He was reasonably proficient in administrative and courtly matters, but quite weak on the field of arms, so we agreed he should train with Amat the Marshall. Cristina had some doubts about his influence on the child, but you can't deny he's effective.

42-1-juanypaz.jpg


Sadly, Bolko refused to sign a white peace. So we invaded his provinces closer to North Italy and drove back his expeditionary force. The Battle of Bologna was particularly deadly, with fifteen hundred Poles fallen. By February we had Padua, and were scheming how to reach the rest of his domain to force a peace.

42-4-padua.jpg


The main obstacle was Poland's most powerful vassal in central Europe, the duchy of Austria, who had also declared war on us. They were trying to wriggle out of it now, but Amat convinced me that we should seize the opportunity to consolidate the map.

42-5-austria.jpg


Operations were quite leisurely, and live went on in Burgos. Sozzo and I decided to give Savarics, his first son, a Church education: it would not hamper him, and we always needed candidates for Court Bishop.

42-6-nephew.jpg


More importantly, I had occasion to arbitrate for the Count of Eu on a boundaries issue. We got to talking on the laws of the realm and the influence of the Church (which we both feel to be too heavy). Indeed Charles Capet has become a friend, something I appreciate especially since he's the direct descendant of the last King of France.

42-8-eu.jpg


Don't think I don't appreciate the Truth of Our Lord, or even the Church itself. What I don't appreciate are the Pope's attempts to meddle in everything. See how his influence destroyed the Holy Roman Empire.

So, when the muslim-raised Palermitans objected to the official religion of my private realm (of which they are a part) they got very short shrift. Not as short as my father used in Córdoba... but effective enough.

42-9-conversion.jpg


42-10-conversion2.jpg


This became a policy. With some brief interruptions to attend to King Bolko's retreating armies...

42-11-padua.jpg


... I dealt the same way with the recanting Muslims in Valencia. It worked, too, and they took it better: no revolts beyond some looting fast quelled by the civic powers.

42-13-conversion2.jpg


The Austrians had no enthusiasm for this war, and our armies reached and occupied Pfalz in May 1093.

42-13-pfalz.jpg


This was less surprising than what happened a week later: after almost a decade, an old riding wound that had been hampering my right leg stopped hurting.

42-14-milagro.jpg


Which left me feeling much better. Now, if only treasury problems had gone the same way...

42-15-ficha.jpg

Just, strong-willed, combative, and reasonably good at making plans.

On the other hand, Ingeborg's old fiction factory worked as swiftly as ever. We concocted a claim for Pfalz...

42-16-borg.jpg


... sent it, and got ourselves a new Ducal vassal. At the same time, we denied King Bolko the help of the Austrians in blocking the Appenine mountain passes against our armies.

42-17-offer.jpg


The surprise was that the Polish armies were already on our side of the mountains, or at least in the territory of Carinthia. A very pitched battle was fought in Steiermark, with almost eighty hundred dead. It was Navarra's most significant reverse of the war, but after those losses, the Polish armies were in no shape to continue into Italy.

42-19-defeat.jpg


Something was changing in Poland. Bolko was not taking the strain well, and his vassals were protesting against the war. In June, we learned that my (bastard) elder brother, Felipe, was no longer count-consort: Bolko had deposed his wife. I hear he left for Outremer with the idea of carving himself a piece of land. I wish him all the good fortune... but, if you ask me, I could have used his arm and given him that title. I miss the gruff old bastard.

42-20-sobrinobastardo.jpg


A trait, by the way, that will not hamper his son, Jimeno. Quite an able and sharp fellow.

Finally, King Bolko's internal troubles became too much and he accepted a white peace. By June, things in Poland were so disastrous that he had to raise his domain to 12 provinces, squeezing most vassals out. Too much for a young boy. He will not end well, I'm afraid.

43-1-pazpoland.jpg


All in all, between September 1092 and June 1093, my sweet dear wife had managed to get even with her old pal at Toscana, adding seventeen provinces to the Kingdom, and incidentally wrecking Poland.

jan93-jun93.gif


Which all goes to prove, it's a bad idea to mess with an Irish woman. I do think most of Europe got the message this time.

And that, my friends, is the tale of the Tuscan War, or as trouvadours have it, "the revenge of the Leaning Tower".

If you don't mind, I should see if there's any message from the Queen. She's been off to Toscana, to try and wrest the Iron Crown of Lombardy from the loyalists of the King of Germany... and to investigate the trail of Doña Muña. We haven't had news in that front for months now.
 
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Cornelius Rex

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Indeed :).

The problem is the garrison of Venice. Mobilizing it is awfully expensive. Luis hasn't learned to play with the vassal's forces yet...
 

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June 1093-October 1094. Long live Queen Garcenda

Hello again, and welcome. Yes, it's a rather happy day here. As Cristina would say, you can tell that Garcenda is gone.

Don't get me wrong, she's gone to a better place and we're all very happy for her. The added peace in the Palace is just a welcome extra.

Sort of. And if you buy that, I have a stone bridge out there that you can have real cheap too.

It's been a festive time, indeed, ever since June last year. You may remember back then our only serious trouble was money, or the lack of it. Yes, there was all that about finishing Dad's work, getting revenge on the King of Egypt, and the mystery of the family curse, but it could wait. Ever since I got back the use of my leg, I had been looking forward to really enjoying one San Fermín as it should be done: running the bulls.

Running.jpg


Nowadays it's quite an institution. Dad started the policy of getting new vassals to send a yearly complement of youths to run before the bulls, and after a while everyone started sending their own, so it became a real national festival with people from all over Navarra, even from Outremer. And over the years they've actually learned to avoid being run over. Most survive. The locals have taken to running too and celebrating the runners, so all in all what started as the commemoration of a battle is now just plain great patriotic fun.

banderas.jpg


Indeed people come from over the frontiers... and some stay. Nada, the Countess of Ragusa, enjoyed her visit so much that she wanted her own place for the next year.

43-3-ragusa.jpg


And those that stay, enjoy themselves. Many great friendships start in the Sanfermines. And more than one pregnancy, I hear.

43-5-friendsyficha.jpg


All in all, the climate of order and the lack of money was good for most, but stifled some of the most creative professionals.

43-7-thieves.jpg


In October, Cristina and I had another daughter. Inspired by our friend Nada ("Nothing" in Spanish) we called her Toda ("All of it" in Spanish). You can see that Cristina was feeling good enough to joke.

43-8-toda.jpg


Unlike the thieves, most of our vassals were enthusiastic about the good times. They took to calling me "Luis the Just" instead of "Luis the Indebted" as has been usual this last couple of years.

43-9-religions.jpg


The feeling was common among the "greenhorns" (muslim vassals) and the "whitewashed" (converted or old Catholic provinces).

Truth to tell, I was having a bit too much of order and peace, but the economy was the economy and you can't raise the legions, or field the regiments, without cash.

The only permanent source of "disorder" in court was Garcenda, and generally Cristina and I could keep her in check. With the help of the Guardian of the North Tower, occasionally. We love her, but she was more often locked in that roaming out. She has only herself to blame: you really don't want to know what she did for her sixteenth birthday. The sixteen guards who were fooled to strip naked for medical revision and then pushed onto a dancing stage during the party would have liked to remain ignorant, too. And I'm definitely not telling you how she doctored some of the seats preferred by the old ladies and nuns, or the effects it had.

nuns_barstools.jpg


So, all in all, nobody was surprised when Cristina decreed that, since she was now of age, she should be married off. To someone we either hated or believed to be hard enough for her.

43-10-garcenda.jpg


The only pity is that she's my sister, not my eldest daughter, so I get no dowry. We need the money. Even though it's flowing in very healthily, we still haven't recovered the costs of the last war. The lenders were getting testy, too, and one of the less patient, a stiff character from the city of London, all dressed in gray, went and reposessed a tile-factory in Córdoba in November.

43-11-brokeandengland.jpg


I took care to invite him to next year's San Fermín, the usual spot on the Moneylenders' Row inaugurated by his predecessor Isaac of York in my father's time (it's famous now, thankfully only among the locals).

And that got me talking with my ally, the old but still quite pushy William the Conqueror of England. He had come to negotiate some trading agreements and talk Crusades. And he's fun.

He has all those stories about how the people keep defaming him, calling him a "land-thief" and an invader, when in fact he was the heir designate of the last legal Saxon king, who lacked a son and favoured him as a moderniser for the kingdom. He only got rough after the Saxons decided to elect a different successor and fielded an army.

"When the going gets tough, the tough get going", he said by way of explanation over his tea. "When the going gets rough, the tough get rough".

"And when the tough get enough?", said Cris.

"That's the problem! My Norman toughs can't be sated with all the Saxon land in England...", he answered, laughing.

"Just as long as you don't look at my island, that's just too bad on the Saxons".

And then - what do you know - Garcenda came into the room to ask for her missing chain saw or something, and William saw her, and they began teasing each other, and laughing at each other's jokes, something about the weapons of conquest... Cris and I looked at each other, and the rest is History.

43-12-garcendaqueen.jpg


Let's hope those manage to make some more history and our two kingdoms become real friends. Navarran tradition in the matter of allies is... problematic.

The winter arrived, and the kingdom coffers kept crawling out of the red, and the scars of past wars cleared... and Cristina convinced me to send Amat to designing our soon-to-come war academy, instead hiring a pal of her called Llywarch as Marshall. Llywarch has a very modern and progressive haircut and (fact is fact) Amat was a bit long in the tooth, even if that only gave him another weapon in close combat.

Amat took it well. Sort of. I mean, after the hissy fit about "crawling babes thinking they can do the work of men".

43-13-llywarch.jpg


She also maneouvered things to get rid of Raimundo's lover. Ordinarily she doesn't get into those things, but he's married to a royal cousin. That will clear the atmosphere of the Palace almost as much as the departure of Garcenda.

43-14-exwaywardbishop.jpg


Late in January, we received a visitor from the other side of the Adriatic. Apparently Bernardin, Duke of Bosnia (all of two provinces), is a close pal of Nada, whom I told you about a while ago. She had convinced him of the advantages of being a vassal to a large, well-run kingdom with a very scenic bull-running festival.

43-15-bosnia.jpg


I'm afraid he also mentioned something about "lasting peace and security". I hope he doesn't get to hear about my ex-vassals of Irbid and Amman (who will be avenged), or about the improving state of my finances and regiments. Because they are improving...

And to cap the month, my son and heir, Juan, became a friend of the new Marshall. I see the hand of his mother in that, too, but hey, what can go wrong?

43-16-princejuan.jpg


Amat, meanwhile, surprised us all and finished the project and the War Academy in a matter of months... in Livorno. I thought I said clearly said "Córdoba". But then, maybe he didn't hear. Or he didn't want to be to close to old Ingeborg's works.

43-17-general.jpg


In February, we had another applicant to become a vassal of mighty Navarra. This one was central European, and either quite sporting or out of touch with the news. For in February 1094 the mighty Navarra's treasury returned to black. Oh yes.

43-19-ulm.jpg


That was the last bit of relevant news until October 1094. Which has been an uneventful month, except for the very warm satisfaction of seeing my Juan and Sozzo become friends. Let me tell you, that's something that a father likes to see. Especially with the heritage situation in Navarra.

44-8-goodboys.jpg


So, since your last visit we've only added four provinces to the map on the mantelpiece. They're the darkest green; the previous ones are already fading pale. But let me tell you, we have enjoyed these months. And built up the strength of the kingdom no end.

jun93-oct94.gif


In other words, next time we meet you can expect news. Lots of them.
 
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Nothing but rivers, I hope :). The two provinces marked red are the original kingdom of Navarra in 1066. Are they showing in blue?
 

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Hm, yes, sorry. I thought he meant on the map. The actual colour of Porto on the screenies is blue. I don't right remember now if it was Swedish-blue or Scottish-blue. Swedish, I think.

Update incoming...
 

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October 1094-April 1095. When the going gets tough, Amat (and Anonymous) get going.

It all started during a Council the week before Christmas. All the clan was there, the four councillors, Ingeborg, and Amat. The old Marshall very discreetly lounged back on his chair, his feet on the table, absently playing with his dagger, throwing it toward the ceiling and picking it up.

Jamila was keeping an eye on him and another on her papers.

"Sire", she was saying, "I know you want to restart hostilities with Jerusalem and Egypt, but we just can't afford to send a large army there. Think of the cost. We've only just started to recover, public works are stalled..."

"It wouldn't be a good move", added Simonis. "There is no crusade to keep our rivals busy, and we would risk attacks from outside and even inside the kingdom if we pulled our vassals there".

"I agree", supported Laura. "No christian realm would like to see us advance in Outremer, and every muslim would be a potential enemy. The assasination risk would increase".

"It can't be done", stated Llywarch flatly.

The dagger landed on the table with a thud and quivered, indifferent to its effects.

"Well, if you ask me", growled its owner, "which I suppose is the reason for being here, I don't see why not".

Llywarch tore his eyes from the weapon and looked at Amat belligerently.

"Were you asleep, old man? We can't risk sending our armies there, and we can't afford it either. So..."

"So", said Amat, suddenly sitting straight and looking serious, "source locally".

"What?", said all of us.

"Simple enough. We need an army in Outremer. Armies are raised from regiments. Regiments come from counties. So we need to get counties, locally and fast. See here," and he grabbed for Jamila's map, "north of Jerusalem is the Emirate of Tripoli. Some good fortified counties, all fragmented. We put the Alexandria regiment there, a cheap boat trip, and drive them north. We can even collect some loot along the way", he added as an afterthought.

"And then...", said I.

"We drive back south, Sire".

The war against Tyrus was declared in October. Tripoli promptly declared war on us.

44-9-tyruswar.jpg


Llywarch led the first charge of the Alexandria regiment.

44-12-alexandriareg.jpg


And was carried off the battlefield almost before it started.

44-13-llywarch.jpg


When the p-mail arrived, Amat took some convincing before he agreed to leave his Academy and take up his old post. He could not get to Outremer in time, but he piloted the war from a distance.

44-14-amatback.jpg


By the end of October, we had beat Tyrus back.

44-15-victoria.jpg


On the 20th, they signed on as vassals and kindly emptied their purses into the royal coffers.

44-16-november20.jpg


Next was Safed, where we faced some real resistance.

44-17-safed.jpg


They were almost exterminated by our most able general to date, Anonymous Commander.

44-19-safedexterminio.jpg


The sheikdom went the way of Tyrus in early January.

44-20-safedbagged.jpg


About this time we sent Sozzo to a monastery for training in the softer arts, seeing that he had even less martial prowess than his older brother.

45-1-sozzomonast.jpg


In late January, Anonymous beat back the tripolitans from Baalbek.

45-2-baalbeck.jpg


It didn't take much more than two weeks to storm the town and receive the allegiance of the sheik.

45-3-baalbeck2.jpg


The Church thanked us for the unasked-for Crusade by sacking the merchants from the Temple, or rather, the minor merchant families that had made Venezia so prosperous. The kingdom numbers were beginning to look healthy, but let me tell you I didn't appreciate the Venetian news.

45-4-venezia.jpg


Still in March, our army flanked the arabs, marched north and occupied Tripoli, the capital of the Emirate. Thus completely broke down the resistance.

45-5-tripoli.jpg


And speaking of resistance. The clergy in Venezia were clearly on a rampage, and I received a mission of priests petitioning me to expel the merchants not just from the temples, but from all Church squares. Still smarting from their antics of the previous month, I told them to go search for me by the river and tell me all about it when they found me.

45-6-venezia.jpg


It was much kinder than what Cristina wanted me to do to them, although she also wanted them to get acquainted with the river. They didn't take it well, but I could afford it... and to tell the truth, I enjoyed denying them something.

By mid April, Anonymous had led his troops back south, falling on Beirut and thus conquering the last sheikdom in the Emirate.

45-7-beirut.jpg


This conquest, on top of the defeat of his master, allowed us to extract an inordinate amount of prestige from the peace deal. In other words, they were beaten so badly that they almost couldn't believe we offered them a simple vassalization, or the "standard package" as Dad used to call it.

45-8-beirut2.jpg


The same day, under my instructions, Anonymous took the keys of the fortress of Tripoli from the Emir. He sent the deposed ruler to banishment, and the keys to Burgos.

45-9-gottripoli.jpg


castletripoli.jpg


I intend to keep the castle, and the province. It will be a key part of the next stage of the plan I've been cooking with Amat, now that he's back in Burgos. For the time being.

oct94-apr95.gif


We had bagged five provinces in seven months. Not awesome, but -here's the important thing- all of them are right by Jerusalem.
 
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Cornelius Rex

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Well, most of the white spots in the middle are Germany, Sweden and England :). Most independents (and German defectors) have already joined some kingdom looking for safety :).

That said... :D.
 

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Well, now Ulm is part of Navarra, your success is assured!
 

Cornelius Rex

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April 1095-September 1095. This year, in Jerusalem

Hello again. Isn't it nice? The view, I mean. Temple Mount, and all that quaint mixed architecture. It looks as if Christ could come down on his donkey down that alley any day now.

Not that I've seen it, yet. But Anonymous Commander's field reports are so vivid that one can almost feel himself there.

You see, Amat was right. With the Alexandria regiment and a few locally-raised regiments, it could be done. He's drinking to it right now, and will be chasing the maids all over the Palace for the next six or seven hours, the rascal. These days they're swifter than him, but he can still ambush them...

To the point. In April23rd we received a nearly-unprovoked declaration of war from the Emirate of Jerusalem. We sent a receipt and launched Anonymous' army into Tiberias and gathered our largest Outremer regiments for the scrape.

45-11-jerusalem.jpg


In totally unrelated news, something peculiar happened. The daughter of old suicide D'Appiano, the prodigy Lodovica who used to help Garcenda to make life interesting (if somewhat stressful) for Palace inhabitants, is come of age.

45-12-lodovica.jpg


She's quite bright, although a bit on the unsociable side. But she's also deucedly popular. We started receiving marriage proposals almost on the same day... some of them fun enough to keep in the kingdom records.

45-14-lodovicayasaltojerusalem.jpg


By mid-May, our Amman division had reached Jerusalem and Anonymous had brilliantly enclosed the Emirate's army in Tiberias with a flanking maneouvre that will go to the kingdom records too. The result was a slaughter of the opposing army.

45-15-tiberias.jpg


He was able to liberate the city shortly after.

45-16-tiberias2.jpg


One week later, the undefended citadel of Jerusalem fell into Christian hands at last.

Which was duly celebrated by the Church: the Bishop of Piombino, old-time vassal of my times in Pisa, decided to go independent.

45-20-falljerusalem.jpg


Actually, neither the Pope nor the Church in general are taking it well at all that someone conquered Jerusalem without being part of a officially sanctioned and dully blessed Crusade. Cristina said the other day that these priests are really weird: they stopped the last Crusade when Dad was about to win, and now they grow very unconfortable when my own troops liberate the City. Laura smiled knowingly and muttered something about "the Church's real object with the Crusades", "the Plan" my father had designed to beat them, and that "they probably can guess at parts of it".

It's good to know Dad had a Plan, but I sometimes feel that it'd be better if I knew it. Indeed that time I almost went and asked Laura outright. Almost.

Anyhow, we used our own divisions in Livorno to crush the rebel bishop.

46-1-depiombinate.jpg


Meanwhile I had very good news from Outremer. Not just were our gathered armies sweeping the Emirate's in Hebron, but my old bastard brother Alfonso had emerged as Marshall to the Count there. Not a very efficient one, but effective nonetheless.

46-2-bastardopilota.jpg


August brought worse news. Although it started well enough, with victories in Piombino (Amat joyfully skewered the rebels), inaugurations (we wanted a new roof for the Palace, so we had to get a tile-factory), and vassal homages... the Burgos weather finally got at my daughter Toda.

And that really got at Cristina, in turn. She's been downcast ever since. Says we should never have come back from Pisa.

46-4-toda.jpg


The Piombino victory was swiftly followed by the storming of the Bishop's castle; Amat's new Academy-trained boys were not as hard as the Palermitan families, but they learn fast.

46-6-piombino.jpg


Our troops found the rebel hiding under a table, dressed as a nun, and they laughed so hard that he almost escaped again. And while they were holding him upside down for negotiations, we found something really interesting. Someone had given him a very unusual documental claim... on the throne of Navarra.

46-7-bonifaziopretendiente.jpg


We wrung it from him and sent it to Ingeborg for detailed analysis. The inmediate result, though, was that the whole Christendom saw my (unintentional) defeat of a fair pretender to my throne, and my prestige rose so incredibly that anything I do or say now gets repeated, quoted and sung simply everywhere.

46-8-prestigioestratosferico.jpg


You would have guessed that happened to the conqueror of Jerusalem. But no. It happened to the squasher of a tiny little misguided bishop.

I discussed it with the Council and Cristina. Some thought the bishop's claim had been planted to try and set up a widespread rebellion now that we were looking in another direction (Laura backed this view), while some thought that preposterous and rather suspected someone in our own side had planted it to fabricate the enormous prestige and legitimacy I now enjoyed (Cristina pushed that view).

So we had two conspiracy choices: either someone powerful wanted to bring us down indirectly, or someone powerful wanted to help me with ammunition for doctoring my own claims. I didn't comment, but the best known forgers in Christendom live in Córdoba, in Ingeborg's dungeons.

Yes. The same people who have the only proofs of the conspiracy now.

Don't underestimate the impact of the conspiracy. Whoever did it, and whatever they were trying to do, this is what happened.

46-9-league.jpg


At the start of September, the last province held by the Emir of Jerusalem was occupied.

47-3-beersheb.jpg


I had Anonymous send peace proposals to the Emir's two remaining vassals. They were cowed enough to surrender and come under our banners.

47-5-negev.jpg


That done, we put an ultimatum to the Emir. He would surrender the land between Hebron and Tyrus, and I'd let him reign on in the oases of Beersheb if he didn't make much noise.

47-6-dismemberjerusalem.jpg


Which he very wisely accepted.

47-7-endjerusalem.jpg


I tried to condecorate Anonymous and make him a Count at least, but he disappeared as mysteriously as he came; indeed some (priests) have been gossiping that he was a Divine Tool for reclaiming Jerusalem, and has now gone back to Heaven. What a year for mysteries, indeed.

apr95-sep95.gif


And thus we finished Dad's last work in Outremer. Not that I plan to let the King of Egypt off: he mishandled two of the most faithful vassals I've ever had, and will pay for it with every strip of land and skin he has. But that will happen when we have the time: Cristina has other plans now.

And besides, I'm looking forward to spending this Christmas in the Holy Land.
 
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Cornelius Rex

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@ Enewald, he's unstoppable. He's the Divine Tool, remember :).

@ Nekromans, yes. Location is everything :).

@ Doctor Zoviet, I think now we will see some of that... if Luis can pull it off.