Of Wittens and Wittelbachs: A History of Hussites, Protestants, Catholics, and Religious War

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Of Wittens and Wittelbachs
An MEIOU AAR

The First Article
Introduction


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Europe and the Near East in 1603


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Religious Map of the West, the 1st of June, 1603.

Alright, let’s do this! This is my second AAR (if you are interested you can read the first in my signature). I have a few notes I want to make before I begin.

  • If you suddenly see writing in this colour it is something I’m saying out of story. Usually I’ll talk about bugs, why I did something instead of something else, or comments on what I didn’t include in the AAR but I still found interesting.
  • I'm playing as Meissen, but I'll spend many chapters writing about other nations.
  • I suffer from a variety of dys issues, so I apologies if I make stupid spelling or grammar mistakes. If you see something, say something!
  • I’m using the excellent mod MEIOU and several wonderful sub mods, including Historical Wars, Island & Costal Trade Nodes, Personality 4x, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, and GSG and Taxes Revival. Try them out! Things are pretty different from vanilla, so if you are ever wondering what is going on don’t hesitate to ask!
  • I will actively use the console commands in order to make a better story. This will almost always make the game harder for myself, since one thing I do (maybe every 50 years or so) is sort out each other every power AI nation by helping them out with tech, ideas, cash, and stability. I’ll also help certain nations colonize. Finally, I’ll change certain areas religion from time to time in order to further the story. I will probably never directly buff Meissen.
  • Sadly, I decided to start this AAR way after the start of the game, so I won’t be able to include screenshots from the middle of the 14th century, when MEIOU campaigns start, to the start of the 17th.
  • I’m not a professional historian and this game doesn’t always make sense, so please forgive me if something happens that makes you go “wait a minute, that couldn’t have happened!”. I’m trying my best here.
  • Most importantly, please comment! It gets pretty lonely when I’m the only one posting things, and if people stop commenting I’ll figure I’m messing up and writing an awful story. Which, I mean, if I am I guess it is good to know, but if you like this story please say something.
  • Finally, I apologise for the quality of the pictures. I'm not sure why some of them are so blurry.



State of the World in the Year of Our Lord 1603

This chapter will all be about showing you what has happened to the world between 1356, when MEIOU game start, and 1603, when my AAR begins. It'll be a pretty dry post, but I've already posted the next chapter below. If you're short on time, go read that chapter to see if this AAR will be in a style you enjoy.


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Holy Roman Empire


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Religions in the Holy Roman Empire



The great conciliation of the 16th century resulted in a Holy Roman Empire that looked nothing like the one that existed a hundred years prior. Hundreds of free knights, cities, bishoprics and villages had submitted to larger lords, and the Great Families of the Empire (the Habspburg the Wettin, and the Wittelsbach) now control well over half of Germany. Any hope of unification has long been torn asunder by the Hussite Controversy and the Reformation, but a curious calm has kept four of the major powers aligned against the Hussite Bohemia. That calm was to break forever with the Dutch Uprising, an uprising with monumental consequences for the Holy Roman Empire, Europe, and indeed the world.

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Austria

Catholic Austria in 1600 was a nation burdened by its many international obligations. It looked warily on Ottoman Expansion in the Balkans, especially because Hungry and Croatia were ruled by lesser branches of the Hapsburg family. Its northern border was shared with feuding Bavarian petty lords and the aggressive and expansionist Bohemian state. To the south a hostile and power Milan resented Habsburg and Spanish expansion into Italy. In the West, French control and dominion over large parts of the Holy Roman Empire remained a constant thorn in the side of Austria’s ambition. Only its alliance with the powerful nations of Reformed Meissen and Protestant Prussia kept it secure, but these alliances with heretics would be tested in the years ahead.


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Spain


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Spanish Central America

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Spanish Asia

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Spanish Italy

The Castilian annexation of Portugal in the 1580s and its unification with Aragon in 1593 lead to the birth of a new superpower. Confident in its power at home and steadily growing abroad, the Spanish state looks hungrily at lands it lost to the French during Iberia’s time of weakness. The declaration of a new Spain, one that inherited both Portugal and Castile’s claims to the new world, threatened every colonial power in Europe.

While no one in the early 17th Century could have known this, it is clear in hindsight that the Spanish state suffered from intractable issues. Its economy was becoming highly dependent on gold imports from its New World colonies, its aggressive military expansionism led to increasing expenditures abroad, and above all its Portuguese subjects chaffed under the rule of Spaniards. In 1600 Spain strode upon the world with swagger, but difficulties waited around every corner.

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South America

After the country of Portugal was absorbed into the growing Spanish state, their final king and his heir fled to only remaining independent colony of Portugal, the Kingdom of Brazil. The Protestant population of Portugal, which was a large minority by 1560, fled both Catholic oppression the coming of Spanish troops, and many ended up settling in the New World. When independence came for Brazil in 1586, its population was majority Protestant, and forced old king to abdicate and his son to become Protestant. Spain’s failed attempts to bring the Portuguese colony to heel led to the birth of the New World’s first nation: the proudly Protestant nation of Brazil. While Spain’s growing colonies in South America and Brazil remained in a wary peace for now, their lands would soon run up against each other, a situation that inevitably lead to conflict.

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France

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France's Religious Map

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The Lowlands

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French North America

France is a nation at war with itself. By pure numbers the most powerful realm in Europe, France had struggle for over a century with radical Catholics who rose in armed conflict against their Calvinist Kings. Nowhere was this resistance stronger than in the French Lowlands. The inhabitants of these lands began a low-level guerrilla warfare against their heretical French overlords, killing French soldiers and civilians alike. If France could ever escape this cycle of religious warfare it could take over the world: its colonies in the New World were growing, its might in the Western Holy Roman Empire looked unbreakable, and its economy was the strongest in Europe. But the years ahead for France in 1605 were dark, and none darker than the years of the Dutch revolt.

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The British Isles

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English North America

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English India

The British Islands, long lands of conflict and strife, had settled into a peaceful existence with the Ulster unification of southern Ireland. The Ulsterman unification was an event that no one could have predicted even ten years before the start date: the Reformist Christian states of Ireland that pledged allegiance to the French King allied together and declared war on their Catholic brethren. With the soul of the Irish people at stake the Catholic Ulstermen defeated the combined Reformist/French force at the Battle of Adare and quickly obtained dominion over the Emerald Isle. The French state, unable to finance its former vassals, abandoned them, and the heretics of Ireland now look to a new savior: the Protestant English Crown. The victory of the Yorkist claimants in the English War of the Roses resulted in nearly a century of extended peace for the English. Henry IV De la Pole ruled not only over the English, but the Scottish as well, the result of the la Pole’s expedient marriage policy with its northern neighbor. Henry IV ruled over a rapidly expanding economy, colonies that continue to prosper in both India and the New World, and a military policy that avoided entanglements on the continent. Given Scotland’s control of Northern Ireland the Ulster Problem would need to be settled at some point, but in 1603 the English had every reason to be confident.

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Scandinavia

Sweden and Finland, Denmark and Norway: nations that had long been at war. Since the breaking of the Danish-led Union in 1370, Sweden had slowly encroached on Norwegian and Danish territory. When the Reformation swept through Sweden and Norway during the first half of the 16th century, the Danish crown, fearing that a heretical Norway would be easy prey for the Reformist Swedes, founded the Order of Jesus (also later known as the Jesuits) in order to fight this new heresy. Slowly, Danish and Norwegian identity would begin to merge with their Catholic faith, and Protestantism and Reformism was wiped out of Norway.

After the death of the childless Carl III, Sweden’s thrown was inherited by his closest relative, the hated and feared Wittelsbachs of Bohemian. The Swedish Nation is isolated, its King opposed by both international sentiment and noble opposition. Confident in their ability to withstand Swedish aggression, the combined crowns of Denmark-Norway began to plan the reconquest of Swedish held territories and the destruction of Protestantism Birthplace.

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Northern Italy

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Russia

Suffering for centuries under the Mongolian Yoke, a combined army of Russia’s princelings achieved a devastating victory in 1555 at Zvenigorod where the Khans of the White and Blue Hordes were killed and the leading heir of the White Horde was captured. The Hordes fell into a state of acrimony and chaos, and the combined Russian forces marched through their hated enemies’ lands and annexed all that remained. A devastated and backwards country, Russia still teems with natural resources and potential. It prepares to take back lands long held by the Lithuanian throne, and its thrust into Siberia began to pick up steam. Russia in the first years of the 17th century is neither a threat nor a concern for the powers of Central Europe, though in the decades ahead that would suddenly and irreversibly change.

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Lithuanian

Like Austria, Lithuanian is a power surrounded by enemies. The Crowns of Sweden and Bohemia stand united against the Lithuanians. Protestant Prussia and its vassal Livland eye Lithuanian land greedily. Russia has long desired to reclaim its lost territories, and, to the south, one of the last remains of the Mongolian Horde raid Lithuanian land with impunity. Its majority Orthodox territories bridle under Catholic rule. With a weak economy, underpowered army, and no allies to call upon, the fate of Lithuanian in the 17th century looked bleak indeed.

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The Middle East

By the start of the 17th century, only two powers of note survived in the Middle East: the powerful Ottoman Empire, which reigns from the halls of Athens to the Holy City of Mecca, and the newly unified Persian state. Renewed focus on the contribution of Persian society has led many historians to believe that the Shia Persians, more than any other factor, saved much of Europe from being invaded and conquered by the mighty Sunni Turks.

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The Subcontinent

India at the start of the 16th century was a land divided between powers both great and small. The great Hindu kingdoms of the past fell one by one to invading Islamic powers, and now only Vijayanagara remains, tenaciously holding out against Islamic attack from the south, north, and east. Delhi, fabled land of great wealth and power, has grown decadent and weak, and now enters what might be its final days as wars from both within and without threaten to topple its great halls. Bengal, Malwa, and Madurai reign over their Hindu subjects from their great palaces, but the explorers of Europe and their great warships threaten to change India forever. As storm clouds grow on the horizon, a small band of Sikh rebels have raised their banners against their oppressive overlords. To war!

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The Spice Islands

I have less to say about the Spice Islands, East Asia, and Africa, since I haven't been paying much attention to what is happening over there. I share these pictures with you to sate your curiosity.

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East Asia

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Africa​
 

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Ivashanko

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The Second Article

The Hussites


"They come. With fire and swords, they come. They burn down our churches, they take all our weapons and our gold, they run the faithful out of our homes. And then they kill."

A Saxon Catholic Priest

I hope that reading about politics and religious controversies interests you, because I wrote a lot of chapters about them.

The Wars of Reformation came soon after a curious historical interlude: the Ecumenical Concordant that survived in the Holy Roman Empire between the Battles of Dramstadt in 1560 and the War of Dutch Independence (an event which is traditionally considered the start of the Wars of the Reformation). While armed religious conflict raged through parts of Italy, France, Poland, and Scandinavia, the Protestant and Catholic nations in the Holy Roman Empire settled into an uneasy truce. Despite the exhortations of the Pope, some even thought this peace to be eternal:

"How great is our Prince, the Glorious Wilhelm I! how beautiful his actions, how pure his conduct. Was it not he who brought Cassel and Schonburg under our banners? Was it not he who routed the Hussite menace at Niederlausitz? He has proven that the Catholic needs not be our enemy, that those who follow the Pope can live side by side with us. May they forever be at our side as we stand against the Bohemian menace!"

Meissener Noble, likely written at near end of Wilhelm I’s reign. Wilhelm died in 1583.


As I wrote earlier, this all happened in my game before I actually decided to write this AAR. This chapter won't have any in-game screenshots. I apologise.

Late 16th century German Originalists and Protestants did not necessarily see the Catholics as their enemies. Given later events this might surprise some of my readers, but let me assure you: in the 16th century no man or beast was feared nearly as much as the radical Hussites were.

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Map of Bohemia and the surrounding Kingdoms in 1356. By the time of the Hussite Controversy Poland had been divided up by its Teutonic, Lithuanian, and Bohemian neighbors.

Bohemia! A center of trade and commerce, Bohemia was renowned for its silver mines. Historians have found Bohemian coins as far away as the Indus, for Bohemian money flowed into Venice, and from Venice to those eastern lands. It is difficult for us to know much about the lives of individual Bohemians, but presumably their lives were not entirely different from the lives of the peoples’ around them. Bohemia diplomatic situation was relatively isolated: The Bohemian Kings’ struggle with the Austrians for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire often spilled into armed combat. Bohemia, the Tectonic Order, and recently-converted Lithuania divided Poland amongst themselves, wiping that unfortunate country off the map for centuries.

While Bohemia in the 14th century seemed peaceful, a dangerous undercurrent of discontent had been building up. Many Bohemians grew resentful of the German minority, who dominated the towns and cities of the country. The growing banking system in the Czech lands left many nobles indebted to that same German minority, and many would look the other way when the Germans began to suffer persecution.

Moreover, the prestige and influence of the Czech clergy was at an all-time low, as their lives of luxury and immorality had been castigated by religious reformers such as Thomas of Štítný, Conrad of WaldHauser, Matther of Janov, and most crucially John Milíč of Kroměříž. The teachings of Conrad and Milíč were strongly puritanical: they held up the ideal of apostolic poverty and believed in the exclusive authority of the Bible. Seen in this light, Jan Hus was not an exceptional revolutionary, but rather the last and most influential of a long line of reformers trying to save the Catholic Church from itself.

"How can the Church, holy and unbroken, swaddle itself in worldly goods? How can men of God lay with the whore of Babylon, spreading cancerous untruths and degeneracy in their wake? We must separate the wheat from the chaff, and drive these unholy men out of our church. The people demand it, the Church hungers for it, and God wills it!"

John Milíč


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Jan Hus. Founder of the Hussite Movement. To this day calling someone a Hussi in Austria is an unforgivable insult.

We don’t know much about Jan Hus, the man whose actions would create the Hussite movement in Bohemia. Most of what we know about him comes from either his Catholic enemies or his Hussite followers, and neithers’ statements about the man are credible. Shifting through hagiographic Hussite propaganda and scathing Catholic screeds has long been an issue for historians, but I’ll try my best to briefly separate fact from fiction. Hus was probably born into a poor family around the middle of the 14th century. His became a Catholic Priest in Prague around 1385, and instantly attracted the ire of the Catholic Church through his incessant criticism. Hus was greatly influenced by the English theologian John Wycliffe and by the Milanese Church reformist only known to us by the name ‘Giovanni of the Poor’. Hus attracted many followers among both the poor and the nobility, especially those nobles angered by the Schism Controversy of the late 14th century. This controversy not only split Catholicism, it split the bonds of the nobility: throughout the era several towns near the borders of pro-Avignon Papacy France and Pro-Roman Papacy Germany were raided by partisans of the other faction. Good Catholics of the late 14th century were deathly concerned about following the wrong Pope, as the state of his or her very soul was at stake.

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Wenceslaus Wittelsbach

In 1408, a prominent Lord of Bohemia and the brother of the King, Wenceslaus Wittelsbach, announced before both God and man that he had been convinced of the righteousness of Jan Hus. The Catholic Church came to a decision: Jan Hus and Wenceslaus must both appear before a Council to explain his heresy. While Wenceslaus refused to go and instead disappeared into the Bohemian countryside, Hus, who considered himself both a Catholic and a reformer, appeared before the Pope in the Council of Passua. Letters recently released from the Vatican confirm something historians had long theorised: the reigning pope, Julius II, had decided to execute Hus long before the council began. In 1411 Hus was burnt at the stake.

The Pope could not have known the explosion he was about to unleash, nor could he have understood the depths of anti-Papal propaganda already spreading throughout Bohemia. Many Bohemians began disappearing from their manors and their farms to seek out and join Wenceslaus’ rebel forces Many historians trace the start of Bohemian nationalism to this moment, when many Bohemians (nobles and peasants alike) rallied around their Rebel Liege and began raiding Catholic monasteries and lands alike. Charles V, who was in his early 30s, died when a Hussite army caught his troops unaware in the Battle of the Boleslawsko Woods.

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The popular novels (later televised) God of Swords depicts Wenceslaus Wittlebach, shown above, as he struggles to defeat the Catholics.

Charles V’s death was the catalyst for an even greater disaster: the Burning of Prague. Spurred on by the successful murder of the King, Hussite nobles launched an attack on the city, capturing it and massacring the German inhabitants, many of whom remained staunchly Catholic. Charles V’s son and heir was a young boy who had yet to reach the age of six, and thus the Catholic nobility were unable to effectively resist the growing horde of Hussite troops that harassed them and their peasants. One by one the nobles converted and joined their armies to that of the Pretender Wenceslaus. In order to obtain the weapons and gold necessary to continue their struggle, many Hussites began raiding nearby Catholic villages regardless of who those villages belonged too. Every neighboring country, from Lithuania to Austria to Brandenburg to Meissen, felt the wrath of a Hussite War Party.

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The Hussite war parties were well known for using war wagons on their raids throughout Europe.

In December 1413, only two years after the execution of Jan Hus, Austrian soldiers lead by the Hapsburg Duke Ernst I of Austria and Friedrich II von Wettin of Meissen, joined their forces with the boy king Charles VI of Bohemia near the Czech city of Plsen. Their goal was to capture the Hussite centers of Resistance at Prague and Leitmeritz. They expected the pretender king would not risk open conflict with the pride of Europe, and that the fall of these great cities would force the nobles, many of whom had only converted due to political expediency, to fall back in line. On December 5th the great army moved out.

This was a dangerous move: European armies almost never fought that late in the year. Winter snows made it dangerous to operate, and the cold and lack of food could destroy an army as quickly as any enemy could. But the international situation was growing desperate: in October of that year, the Hussites, who were apparently adapt at fighting in harsh winter conditions, had defeated in detail the armies of Lithuania, the Teutonic Order, and an allied army of Polish noblemen. For more information on these struggles I suggest my readers buy the great Polish classic The Snow Falls Lightly Where We Lay Our Head.

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A picture of the great Hussite general Jan Žižka destroying the Polish insurgence at the battle of Grotniki. The battle of Grotniki was notable as being the first battle where field artillery was used against enemy troops: previously it had only been used against fixed locations, such as walls. Their effectiveness on the battlefield led to their widespread adoption by Hussite generals, something that would give the Hussites a critical edge over their opponents in the battles to come. It was only after the battle at Prague that the Hussite’s Catholic opponents begin using artillery on the battlefield.

The Allied armies were not prepared for the harsh conditions. The winter of 1414 was the worst in many years, and the movement of the men were slow. The Royalist force was expected to reach Prague by mid-December: instead, it got there on Christmas Eve. Tired and staggered, the army was soon caught between the walls of Prague and an attack by the forces of Wenceslaus. This ‘Miracle of Prague’ resulted in the death of the Royalist’s hopes. Their boy king was forced to abdicate and named his uncle Wenceslaus king and ruler of Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland.

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19th century painting of the Battle of Prague.

Wenceslaus soon attempted to patch up relations with his Catholic subjects and neighbors, but was unable to control the violent impulses of his anti-clerical populace. The Hussites staged raids and battles throughout Western Europe, causing widespread death and destruction. In 1420, lords who lived on the boarder of Meissen and Bohemia declared that they would fight and die as one. From that day on the members of the so-called “Compact of Meissen”, also known as the Covenant of the Border Lords, became a powerful voice in the country of Meissen. It also re-energised the Catholic’s Crusading Tradition, and in 1422, the Pope called a Crusade upon the heretics. The Crusaders were unable to dislodge the Hussites in Bohemia, but their rout of a large Bohemian army besieging the walls of Meissen much of the rest of Europe of the righteousness of their cause, and many would-be holy warriors flocked to pledge their swords. Lords in Austria and Lithuanian would soon set up similar agreements, a cross-national network of Catholic knightly orders that often fought as a single army. The Bohemians would, for the next century, launch raids and attacks on their neighbors and sap the nearby lands dry. The Hussites were the first guerrilla fighters, capable of surprise attacks deep in their enemy’s lines that cut smaller forces to ribbons before their comrades could come back them up.

Wenceslaus’ attempts to control the Hussites eventually separated them into two groups: the radical Taborites, so-called because of the city they founded, and the moderate Orphans, thusly named because they felt ‘Orphaned’ after the death of their dearly beloved King Wenceslaus in 1439.

“God is the only Father we have. We need no other. Wenceslaus was only a man, and the Orphans commit a vile heresy when they place his name above God the Father’s. Death, death to the Catholics, the Orphans, the Greek Christians (Ie, Orthodox), and all those that blaspheme! God willing, we shall strike them down.”

Taborite Soldier writing home to his wife. Note that even common soldiers and their wives were expected to read and write: both Orphans and Taborites believed that every good Christian should be able to read the Bible. Some historians have theorised that this is why the Hussite communities were so successful, both when it came to war and when it came to economic production, though this is still debated to this day.


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Taborite Communities were relatively egalitarian and democratic. Socialists of today call this the First Great Uprising of the Proletariat. More right-winged groups also praise them, but for different reasons.

The Taborite Wars stretched on for many decades. Weneslaus’ successor, the short-lived Jan I, was unable to bring the Taborites to heel. In 1442 Jan was captured by a group of armed university students after hunting on his royal estate, brought to a nearby tower and thrown out the window (the famous, albeit misnamed since this event happened nowhere near the capital, Defenestration of Prague).. One might wonder why Bohemia’s neighbors did not intervene at this critical opportunity, but once again luck favoured the Hussites: The Meissen, Austrian, and Lithuanians were all busy with wars of their own, and only the Teutons were able to take advantage of Bohemia’s plight. The Taborites and Orphans eventually bleed themselves dry, and were forced to cooperate during the Austrian Invasion of 1453. Left with no choice but to band together to resist the Papist hordes, the Taborites and Orphans rallied behind the newly crowned Queen Mary of Bohemia and defeated the Austrians. From that day on Taborites and Orphans would largely work together to fight for the Lords of Bohemia, and Europe trembled.

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Taborites and Orphans fighting against a Polish uprising

Wow I wrote a lot more than I thought I would. I hope that this doesn’t bore people! We will get to the actual gameplay soon, I promise. Strange as this may seem, I'm not actually playing as the Bohemians! I'm playing as Meissen! It’s just that all the most important ideological developments of the 14th and 15th century take place in Bohemia. Meissen’s time in the spotlight will come, I promise.
 
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stnylan

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So very much a game that starts in media res. Interesting

Nice write-up of the Hussars
 
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Interesting. Will be following
 
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Ivashanko

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Interesting. Will be following
I hope you enjoy my AAR!

So very much a game that starts in media res. Interesting

Nice write-up of the Hussars
Yeah, I didn't start this game thinking it'd be a good AAR. It was only in the mid game that I realised I had a (potentially) very interesting story on my hands. I'm glad you liked the chapter on the Hussites!
 

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The Third Article

The Reformation


“Here I stand; I can do no other.”

Final word of the Finnish Reformer Matias Korhonen, said shortly before his execution. March 3rd, 1519.



By the early 16th century, the Hussite faith had set up deep roots in Bohemia. Unable to wipe them out, the Catholic leaders of Europe accepted that Bohemia was lost to them, and as the Bohemian lords and Hussite raiding parties began to taper off the knightly orders who swore allegiance to the border lords of Austria and Meissen began to die out. While the Discovery of the New World shifted the eyes of many Europeans overseas, to understand what happens next one must to look north to Scandinavia and to the Swedish province of Finland. Conquered in 1150, Finland had long been backwards and poor. Starvation was a common scourge of Finnish society, and it must have rankled the common person to see the great Catholic bishops live in their great palaces and churches.

The Catholic Church had undergone many reforms in the years since the Hussite disaster. Rome had become suspicious and vengeful, unable to tolerate criticism. After the Hussite Wars, many radicals and would be reformers began popping up in other areas of Europe. According to Hussite and Protestant tracts, executions quickly follower: proud men and women of God were bundled up, brought to the stake, and burned alive.

There is a general, albeit tentative, consensus that while the Roman Catholic Church had indeed become radicalized after the success of the Hussites, the main instigator of violence was actually the Catholic nobles. Terrified of the Hussite Reformation spreading to their lands, the Catholic nobles began cracking down on anything that suggested heresy. The most famous massacre was that of the Waldenses, a Protestantesque community that had thrived in south-eastern France for generations. Those that resisted were killed. Those that freely gave up their lands were also killed.

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"That every head of a family, with the individuals of that family, of the reformed religion, of what rank, degree, or condition soever, none excepted inhabiting and possessing estates in Lucerne, St. Giovanni, Bibiana, Campiglione, St. Secondo, Lucernetta, La Torre, Fenile, and Bricherassio, should, within three days after the publication thereof, withdraw and depart, and be withdrawn out of the said places, and translated into the places and limits tolerated by his highness during his pleasure; particularly Bobbio, Angrogne, Vilario, Rorata, and the county of Bonetti. And all this to be done on pain of death. Those that refused were killed in their houses. They few who did leave were surrounded and butchered on the high roads."

John Fox, The Book of Martyrs


When we take all of this into consideration, Matias Korhonen was not a unique individual. He was the latest of a long line of Church Reformers who tried, and failed, to change the fundamental nature of the Catholic Faith. We do not know the day or year Matias was born. We know nothing about his family. We do not even know if he was a priest, a monk, or a layman. What we do know of his theology suggests that he was remarkably moderate for a Reformer: indeed, had Matias been allowed to live, it is possible that the Reformation would not have been nearly as radical.


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One of the only known pictures of Matias that was created by a confirmed associate of the Finnish reformer.

By 1519, Matias had attracted a small but growing following in his home city of Turku. The Swedish authorities, nervous of any Hussite-tinged Finnish led movement, captured the man, tortured him, and sent him to Stockholm. He was placed in front of a tribunal and forced to plead his case. But Matias did not beg. One of the most impactful images of the Reformation, one of the most impactful images of all time, is Matias, small and weak, blooded and bruised, standing up and condemning the proceedings, the corruption of the Catholic Church, and all who have turned their faces away from the Most High. Matias spoke long, and he spoke well: soon, word of this trial began to leak out to the wider populace, and each day more and more people showed up to listen to the Finnish man talk.


1589965162392.png
Matias at the stake

But the reason why Matias was not just another in a long line of failed reformers, the reason why his death ultimately had meaning, was Carl I. Carl Wittelsbach the Great, King of the Swedes, the Finns, and the Balts, was a sickly man, but strong of character and remarkably compassionate. His letters to his wife survive, and even though they married for political reasons it is a clear that a deep and abiding love sprung up between them. On the morning of the third day, Carl and his wife appeared before the court to hear Matias speak. At the end of the third day, Matias was found guilty. He was soon after burnt alive.


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King Carl the 1st.

"The Finn’s death has not sat well with me, my love. I came into the proceedings expecting to hear some vile heresy, cries for abolishing the sacrament, destroying the rights of kings, advocating the destruction of marriage and the end of faith. Instead, what reached my ears was sympathetic to what I already, deep in my heart, felt: that the Church had gone too far, that its power had grown too great, that it was leading people away from Christ. I must think on this."

Letter of Carl to his wife.


The next day, Carl threw out the most zealous Catholic orders out of Sweden. To this day a rancorous debate rages among historians as to why the King, usually so cautious, acted so rashly. I have neither the time nor the words to summarize that argument here, but if you have the time and the inclination I suggest you read King Carl’s Choice: A Summary of the Carlian Debate by Edgar Wild.

It is important to note that while Carl did force many of the most fervent Catholic to leave Sweden, he had not yet broken with the Catholic faith. Instead, Carl implemented an Edict of Tolerance across Sweden, and many heretical priests, including Polish and Bohemian Hussites, began migrating to Sweden in order to spread their doctrine. Soon mass conversions, aided and abetted by noblemen who wished to break the power of the church, spread across Sweden. On May 13th, 1520 (Reformation Day) the Swedish King officially broke with the Catholic Church.

This new Swedish Church banned the sale of indulgences, asserted that the Pope had no authority over their believers and that the Treasury of Merit had no foundation in the Bible. The Reformation developed further to include a distinction between Law and Gospel, a complete reliance on Scripture as the only source of proper doctrine (sola scriptura) and the belief that faith in Jesus is the only way to receive God's pardon for sin (sola fide) rather than good works. The priesthood of all believers downplayed the need for saints or priests to serve as mediators, and mandatory clerical celibacy was ended. Sacramental theology was simplified and attempts at imposing Aristotelian epistemology were resisted. Most importantly, the Carlian Reformers argued that baptising those who did not understand the significance of such an act was meaningless, and all true Believers should re-emerge themselves in water in order to be blessed.

A lot of that paragraph was taken from Wikipedia. Thanks Wiki!


1589965296819.png
The knights of Landstulh

Unconnected to the horrors of the Hussite Wars, this new protest movement began to tentatively spread throughout Europe. The new invention of the printing press allowed widespread dissemination of Matias’ Creed, and soon his words reached even the furthest-flung frontiers of Christendom. Throughout the latter half of the 15th century, the greater nobles and princes of the Empire tried to impose Roman Law, which decreased the power of the lesser nobles and the knightly class. Inspired by the sacrifice of Matias and the example of Carl, several knights and lesser nobles under the leadership of Franz von Sickingen and Ulrich von Hutten gathered together and began raiding the countryside around Franz’s castle of Landstulh. This threat may have been easily put down, if it were not for what was about to happen in Lupfen.

The peasants of Germany, who had, for the past few decades, launched sporadic attacks on their lords under the sign of the Bundschuh began to adopt Protestant rhetoric and band together. The heavy-handed reaction of Catholic nobles against these Bundschuhers throughout Europe caused peasants and city members alike flocked to the new Protestant cause as a way to fight back against their overlords. Terrified and tired of being unjustly persecuted, a small peasant army gathered in Lupfen and forced the countess to flee after she rejected their demands. Within two months the whole of southern Germany and Austria was in open revolt.


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The peasants were poorly armed, but many in number. While they could not defeat massed armies, they were more than a match for smaller groups of knights or soldiers. Sickingen and his men kept the peasants from slaughtering captured knights and nobles when they could, but many of the peasant bands had no knights in their ranks.

Between 1521 and 1526, these ‘Peasant Wars’ terrified much of Europe and her nobility, and the Pope called for an armed crusade against them. For over four years, the uprisings of Peasants and Knights fought against the Empire. The rebels demanding the implementation of the Sixteen Articles, a series of regulations that re-centered European political and economic life on the peasants and knights.

1589965316303.png
The Sixteen Articles. Socalists of today call the Peasant Wars the 'Second Great Uprising of the Proletariat'.

The Knights’ Rebellion was stronger in the north of the Holy Roman Empire, as secular and ecclesiastic lords had largely subjugated the lesser noblemen and forced many to endure poverty and humiliation. Nowhere was this struggle greater than in Meissen, as many minor members of the Covenant of the Border Lords had been impoverished continuing the struggle against Hussite Heretics. The covenant fought a brief civil war, with the lesser lords being defeated by an alliance between greater Border Lords and the monarchy.

In the south, the Peasant Armies were larger and fought with greater ferocity. These peasants were worse off than their brethren to the north, as the minor nobility in the south retained unrestricted control over their serfs. These lords, suffering from the rising cost of labour, the declining cost of land, and their own military irrelevance as the importance of gunpowder and infantry increased, harshly taxed their peasants in order to fend off destitution. The peasant armies committed many massacres, none greater than the destruction of Weinsberg, a massacre which shocked Europe and resulted in the Pope calling for a Crusade against the fiercely anti-Catholic revolting peasants. It was at this time that the split between Protestant and Originalist doctrines came into being, as many reformers, shocked and appalled by the excesses of the peasants, repudiated them and reclaimed the moniker ‘Protestant’ for themselves. They who refused to denounce the peasants called themselves Korhonensons. The Korhonensons were denounced by Carl 1st, whose theologians met with the leading Protestant thinkers in the city of Falun, the capital of Sweden.

1589965346507.png
The Falun Conference, July of 1523.

Two developments then occurred which threatened the burgeoning protest movement. In Falun, Protestant thinkers Nicolaus von Horn and Philip Melanchthon met with Carl 1st and his theologian, Laurentius Andreae. The men were unable to come to an understanding on a variety of issues vital to the Christian faith. Out of all of their disagreements, none was as important as their struggle over baptism. Carl 1st refused the notion that baptism was something a child should undergo, arguing that a baby could no more understand baptism than a dog could the Eucharist. The conference ended acrimoniously. The reformers who followed Melanchthon and von Horn left, disappointed and heartbroken, and become Protestants. Those who followed Carl and Andreae became the Reformed Christians, often called Originalists as they believed their beliefs echoed that of the Early Church’s. The split brought the spread of the more ruler-friendly strands of Protestantism to a screeching halt.

The Peasant and Knight Rebels, on the other hand, were condemned by both Originalist and Protestant. Split off from both confessions, the peasants found themselves turning to the Hussites, a group all too eager to restart the conflict and throw themselves at their weakened rivals. The Bohemian nobility and monarchy, terrified of the peasant fighters, attempted to restrict their soldiers’ movements. Unfortunately, the Taborite influence, which was still strong in the Bohemian Communes, convinced many to take up arms and join the peasant bands. All over eastern Germany, Hussite warbands met with Peasant marauders and marched upon Catholic city. The Knights, Burghers, and Lesser Lords of the rebellion could not abide this alliance with the hated Hussites, and separately made peace with their governments. The combined Hussites and peasant armies clashed with the armies of the Empire near Amberg, Passau, Munchen, and besieged cities all over southern Germany. The Duke of Augsburg, unable to hold back the rising tide, renounced Catholicism and became Hussite. Peasants and Hussites alike fortified the castle at Augsburg, and began raiding the surrounding countryside.


1589965352591.png
The Siege of Augsburg

Finally, in the summer of 1524, the fever broke. The Hussite and peasants suffered defeats at the hand of professional armies in Hungary, Austria, Bavaria, and, most disastrously, in Meissen. Friedrich III, ruler of Meissen, eradicated the combined Hussite and peasant armies at the Battle of Niederlausitz. The Bohemian Taborites were a spent force, and while it took another year the forces of the empire were able to control and put down the peasantry. Only the castle at Augsburg held out, its Duke unable to return to Catholicism without being torn down by the Taborities and peasants inside of his walls.

Soon after, Franz von Sickingen’s castle in Landstulh was besieged. After two weeks of heavy fighting, it fell. The Knight died in the fight. Ulrich von Hutten, Franz’s fellow insurgent, had been slain by the French Disease a few years earlier. With Franz’s death, the Peasant Wars of the early 16th century came to an end.

1589965358372.png
The Massacre of Niederlausitz

With the failure of the Peasant Wars and the Falun Conference, Protestantism appeared fated to die then and there. Then, as if it were the will of the divine, the French King Louis the Bold shocked Europe and, indeed, the world, by converting to the Originalist Faith.​
 
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cm_spitfire

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What a fabulous start! Really intrigued by this so consider me subbed.

The list of mods in your OP - is that the complete list?
 

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What a fabulous start! Really intrigued by this so consider me subbed.

The list of mods in your OP - is that the complete list?
It is! Island & Costal Trade Nodes mod does seem to significantly slow down the game though, which is unfortunate.

Also: I've noticed some errors and grammar mistakes in the articles already posted. I'll spend some time tomorrow fixing them up and correcting them.
 
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Louis the Bold really becoming a wildcard here :p
 

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The Fourth Article

The French Miracle

"God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the Papists, and the reformation of His Holy Church."
Louis the Bold


While the Peasant Wars were raging in Germany, a struggle of a different sort was happening within the borders of France. The intellectuals of Paris and France, weened on the philosophy of the Renaissance, were the perfect audience for the Originalist doctrine. Many gathered and formed circles of intellectuals, concerned with combining the knowledge of the Reformation and the Christian faith. The Catholic Church had condemned humanistic reasoning and the entirety of the Renaissance as Hussite inspired heresy. As the philosophy took over in France, the Church in Rome reacted by publishing the Concordant of Bologna, which revoked the independence of the French Catholic Church laid down by the 1438 Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges.

The French King at the time, Louis the Bold’s father, Edouard the Posthumous, so named for being born after his own father had passed, reacted with fury. Edouard, who had long been a patron of the arts, began restricting Catholic privileges and openly supporting the humanist circles. The Bishop of Meaux, Guillaume Briçonnet, friend of the king and Renaissance man, formed the Meaux Circle in order to build up support for the crown and promote religious reform in France.

The Schism of the late 15th century split most of the clergy off from the Church of Rome. Even after the collapse of the Papacy in Avignon, by the start of the Reformation the French clergy remained deeply alienated from the Pope in Rome. Many bishops, who had recognised or been installed by the Avignon Pope, resisted Rome’s attempts to extend its authority. The nobility and common people, deeply concerned with the safety of their own souls, were disgusted by the petty political feuds of priests.

The death of Edouard in 1502 left his barely twenty-year-old son, Louis the Bold, King of France.


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Louis the Bold earned his nickname at the tender age of 16 in the Last Tourney, the final large-scale jousting tournament held in France. He unseated the famous, but elderly, Louis of the Green and Gold, and won the support and admiration of all of France.

The young King, still uncrowned, was then thrown into a political firestone when his own brother was implicated in the Affair of the Placards. Anti-Catholic Hussite sympathizers posted posters all over Paris, criticizing the Church and praising Jan Hus and the Bohemians. The Roman Church, unwilling to risk its status in France so soon after being allowed to return following the collapse of the Anti-Papacy, ordered a crack down on those who posted the posters. The young king allowed this investigation, not knowing that it would soon implicate members of his younger brother’s social circle. His brother, Francis, had long been a temperamental and rash child who had been known to drink and fornicate. Blame soon feel on him, and while the King was able to save Francis, his brother’s friends and the others guilty of posting the placards were soon burnt at the stake. A few weeks later, a Catholic radical and priest, Father Antoine of Neuchâtel, stabbed Francis as he was returning to the Louvre Palace.


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There was only one assassin of Prince, but enemies of the Church spread countless conspiracy theories suggesting others were involved.

Francis’ death drove a permanent wedge between the Church and Louis. Despite the assurances of the Pope, Louis suspected that Antoine was not acting alone when he killed Francis. Like his father before him, Francis began signaling his displeasure with the Catholic Church, and while he never acted on his threats to reinstating a Pope in Avignon, he would spend much of the next two decades restricting Catholic Authority and pushing the First Daughter of the Church away from Rome.

Into this explosive mix of anger and resentment, the Conversion of Gustav and the Peasant Wars went off like a musket shot. The new invention of the printing press allowed Reformer’s pamphlets to spread throughout France. Several competing doctrines spread throughout the country, and while the peasants never engaged in armed revolt like they did in Germany, many did turn away from the Church. The nobles, knowing the King thoughts on Rome and increasingly swayed by anti-Catholic arguments, converted en masse. By the time Laurentius Andreae arrived in 1526, everyone in Paris, Catholic or Protestant, knew what that meant.


1590307077312.png
Laurentius Andreae, foremost theologian of the Swedes, was personally sent by King Gustav to converse with Louis the Bold.

The King, finally feeling like he could break the hold of Catholic Church, declared with his entire court that he would adopt the Originalist Creed of the Swedes. Land that had belonged to the church for generations was confiscated, its monks cast out, forced to flee to foreign lands. Paris rose in celebration as tens of thousands rushed to be re-baptised.

Many in the south of France, which had long been separated from the intellectual and cultural trends than dominated the north, reacted by torching printing presses and the small Originalist Churches that had begun emerging in the southern French Cities. The southern nobles banded together and took to arms, and fought to a draw the royalist army in the battles of Bourges, Poiters, and Clarmon. Louis, unable to bring the southern Catholics to heel, declared an Edict of Clarmon, offering religious freedoms to his Catholic subjects. While for the rest of his reign Louis did not persecute the Catholics, he allowed Originalist missionaries free reign in the north of his Kingdom. Large pockets of northern Catholics remained, and even as late as the mid-17th century the country was fairly evenly divided between Catholic and Originalist.


1590307051562.png
The Battle of Clarmon brought to an end to Louis' dreams of quickly routing the Catholic Nobility, but the Edict of Tolerance bought time for France to recover from its wounds.

The French Lowlands, too, refused to accept the new creed, and rose in a short-lived rebellion. While the Royalist Armies were able to defeat the Dutch insurgents, they were not able to root out the Catholic organisations that spread anti-French propaganda. This not the first Dutch rebellion, nor would it be the last.

1590306996710.png
Catholic Strongholds in Purple, Originalist controlled lands in grey, and Protestant areas in Blue.



With the conversion of the French, other rulers finally felt free to break with Rome. Edward IV of England, desperate to have a son, embraced Protestantism in order to divorce his wife. The Teutonic and Livonian Orders used the new creed as a way to break with their knightly traditions and set up a new administration under their leader Albert, a dynast of the von Wittelsbach family, who had become Grandmaster after he saved the Teutonic Army from the Bohemians at the Battle of Naklo. The Protestant Reformers found fertile earth in the Swiss alps and some of the little pumpernickel states of Germany. But their most consequential work in the Holy Roman Empire was the land of the Wettin’s: Meissen.



Sorry for having to skip over the conversion stories of England, Prussia, and other nations. I could write all day about the conversions of individual kingdoms, but I wanted to finally write a chapter on the nation I was actually playing: Meissen!
 
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The Number 9

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I only discover your AAR now. It's really interesting, I really like your state of the world updates.

Now, I'm eager to see what you did with Meissen.
 

Crimson Lionheart

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Catholicism and the Pope are now showing their true colours.
 

Ivashanko

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Catholicism and the Pope are now showing their true colours.
To be clear, the views of the historian writing the AAR and my views are not always the same. And in this world, Catholicism has clearly been radicalised through its prolonged interaction with a victorious and often quite warlike Hussite Bohemia.
 

Crimson Lionheart

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To be clear, the views of the historian writing the AAR and my views are not always the same. And in this world, Catholicism has clearly been radicalised through its prolonged interaction with a victorious and often quite warlike Hussite Bohemia.
Of course, got the distinction easily. Catholicism has gone a different change than it had been in our timeline, especially with how strong this reformation is. An endangered Catholic world is being backed into a corner, something which I could imagine that the League War or its counterpart is going to be exceptionally violent when it occurs.
 
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Ivashanko

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Of course, got the distinction easily. Catholicism has gone a different change than it had been in our timeline, especially with how strong this reformation is. An endangered Catholic world is being backed into a corner, something which I could imagine that the League War or its counterpart is going to be exceptionally violent when it occurs.
Absolutely! I just don't Catholic readers of this AAR to feel like I'm being unnecessarily hard on their faith. It's something I tried to avoid in the AAR. For example, I made the effort to shift blame from the Catholic Church to the nobility when possible.
 
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Pieter Bruegel

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The Wars of Religion and the 16-17th centuries were a fascinating time of change and upheaval in our world, it seems even worse here! I'll definitely sub, looking forward to more.
 

Ivashanko

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The Wars of Religion and the 16-17th centuries were a fascinating time of change and upheaval in our world, it seems even worse here! I'll definitely sub, looking forward to more.
Thank you! I'm hoping to post another chapter in a day or two.