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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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CoyoteBeast

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INTRO

Hello everyone, hello to Paradox community :) Or should I say: HELLO WORLD!

This is my first attempt at writing AAR and I hope someone will read my story. English is not my mother tounge, but I'm sure you will understand, if not please don't take in grudges against me. I have played EU and it's sequel as soon as they were release, but have made big pause, and just recently (last autumn) I acquired EU3 DW v5.1, as I don't want to skip from EU2 to EU4, that would be great sin, wouldn't it? :) After getting introduced to gameplay with few campaigns on very easy (Portugal, Ottomans, Serbia, Byzanthine...) I managed to learn things and was quite succesfull with my Serbian campaign of putting Otts back into Minor Asia as well as Swedish conquest of North America on normal, so I should be ready for my next challenge for which I will write this AAR.

It's grand campaign scenario with start date at 14th of October, 1399 with Archbishopic Theocracy of Aqueliea. All start-game options are on normal, with no lucky nations. Save should be fair and square, with no reloading except if power goes down or something like that. If I go down, I'll go down honourable. Also, I won't acquire any province that isn't core, will become core as mission goal or isn't in Italy. At least not in the old world. My goal is to recreate Italy or try at least. Also, I don't plan to become bad boy during this campaign and won't enter any offensive war with infamy-cost if I get above 5 infamy points.

Few more words about style of writing. This will be historical chronicle written by court historians, anonimous of course, who are they to get their name remembered? :D Main persons are going to be archbishop himself (of course), his advisors (as in game) and military leaders, maybe with few nobles, peasants, foreign kings and maybe even Pope will appear :)

So that's it. I will submit short history in few hours and first chapter tonight with updates coming on weekly basis mostly. This first post will be edited with table of contents as updates get out. I will also be honoured if you reply with your impressions, critics and advices, so feel free to speak. Thanks for reading!

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1. TIMES OF GREAT TURMOIL IN FRIULI
[post=16856811]1.1. Short history of Aquileian Archbishopy and Patria del Friuli (180BC-1399AD)[/post]
[post=16858907]1.2. Change of centuries (1399-1403)[/post]
[post=16866679]1.3. Ten years of war (1404-1413)[/post]
[post=16878122]1.4. False peace (1413-1420)[/post]
[post=16883159]1.5. Invincibility (1420-1422)[/post]
[post=16889604]1.6. Changing of the guards (1422-1428)[/post]


2. THE NEW ERA
[post=16901583]2.1. Making the name (1428-1435)[/post]
[post=16912351]2.2. Showing muscles (1435-1440)[/post]
[post=16917058]2.3. Brave men (1441-1451)[/post]
[post=16939332]2.4. Catholic influence (1452-1464)[/post]
[post=16946140]2.5. Unnecessary wars (1466-1472)[/post]
[post=16951278]2.6. Shot in the dark (1473-1475)[/post]
[post=16962836]2.7. National Bank of Aquileia (1475-1482)[/post]


3. AGE OF EXPLORATION
[post=16965115]3.1. State of the nation on July, 16th 1482[/post]
[post=16966701]3.2. Amerigo Vespucci (1482-1485)[/post]
[post=16972743]3.3. War for Italian domination (1485-1486)[/post]
[post=16975921]3.4. Pursuing dreams (1487-1506)[/post]
[post=16987186]3.5. French agression (1507-1509)[/post]
[post=17053873]3.6. Arcivescovo di America (August 1509)[/post]
[post=17064870]3.7. Two-headed golden eagle (1513-1522)[/post]
[post=17070617]3.8. Pike and shot (1530-1538)[/post]


4. FIFTY YEARS OF PATIENCE
[post=17090454]4.1. State of the nation on January, 3rd 1540[/post]
[post=17186604]4.2. Island of torture (1541-1551)[/post]
 
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volksmarschall

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This will be historical chronicle written by court historians, anonimous of course, who are they to get their name remembered? :D

They usually left their names on the documents they wrote! :p

Anyways, good luck with this. I'll be reading along to see what transpires! :cool:

Cheers!
 

CoyoteBeast

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They usually left their names on the documents they wrote! :p

Anyways, good luck with this. I'll be reading along to see what transpires! :cool:

Cheers!

Maybe they did, but it probably got removed along with their heads as Archbishops weren't quite satisfied with their writings :) Thanks for cheers up, it means a lot.
 

CoyoteBeast

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Short history of Aquileian Archbishopy and Patria del Friuli (180BC-1399AD)

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"Let love flow so that it cleanses the world. Then man can live in peace, instead of the state of turmoil he has created through his past ways of life, with all those material interests and earthly ambitions." - Sri Sathya Sai Baba

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Aquileia was founded as a colony by the Romans in 180 BC along the Natissa River, on land south of Julian Alps and about 13 km north of the lagoons. Presumably named from an indigenous word Akylis, the colony served as a frontier fortress at the north-east corner of transpadane Italy and was intended to protect the Veneti, faithful Roman allies, during the Illyrian Wars and act as a buttress to check the advance of other warlike people, such as the hostile Carni and Histri tribes. In fact, Aquileia was founded on a site not far from where Gaulish invaders had attempted to settle in 183 BC. It turned to municipium probably in 90 BC.

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Remains of Roman forum in Aquileia

Besides natives of Italy, Celts, Illyrians, Greeks, Egyptians, Jews and Syrians all settled in the city and contributed to its commercial development. Jewish artisans established a flourishing trade in glasswork. Metal from Noricum was forged and exported. The ancient Venetic trade in amber from the Baltic was continued. Wine, especially its famous Pucinum was exported.

In terms of religion, the Roman pantheon was adopted although the Celtic sungod, Belenus, had a large following. Jews practiced their ancestral religion and it was perhaps some of these Jews who became the first Christians. Meanwhile, soldiers brought the martial cult of Mithras. Aquileia was an early center of Christianity as ancient tradition asserts that the see was founded by Saint Mark, sente there by Saint Peter who appointed Saint Hermagoras (died 70 AD) as first bishop.

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Saint Mark the Evangelist

In the war against the Marcomanni in 167, the town was hard pressed; its fortifications had fallen into disrepair during the long peace. Nevertheless, when in 168 Marcus Aurelius made Aquileia the principal fortress of the empire against the barbarians of the North and East, it rose to the pinnacle of its greatness and soon had a population of 100,000. In 238, when the town took the side of the Senate against the Emperor Maximinus Thrax, the fortifications were hastily restored, and proved of sufficient strength to resist for several months, until Maximinus himself was assassinated.

During the 4th century, Aquileia maintained its importance. Constantine sojourned there on numerous occasions. It became a naval station and the seat of the Corrector Venetiarum et Histriae; a mint was established, of which the coins were very numerous, and the bishop obtained the rank of metropolitan archbishop. A council held in the city in 381 was only the first of a series of Councils of Aquileia that have been convened over the centuries.

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Coin with Roman Emperor Flavius Victor minted in Aquileia

An imperial palace was constructed here, in which the emperors after the time of Diocletian frequently resided; and the city often played a part in the struggles between the rulers of the 4th century. In 340, Emperor Constantine II was killed under its walls while attempting to take the city from his younger brother Constans. At the end of the 4th century, Ausonius enumerated Aquileia as the ninth among the great cities of the world, placing Rome, Mediolanum, Constantinople, Carthage, Antioch, Alexandria, Trier, and Capua before it.

As metropolitans of such an extensive territory, and representatives of Roman civilization among the Ostrogoths and Lombards, the archbishops of Aquileia sought and obtained from their barbarian masters the honorific title of patriarch, personal, however, as yet to each titular of the see. This title aided in promoting and at the same time justifying the strong tendency towards independence that was quite manifest in the relations of Aquileia with Rome, a trait it shared with its rival, Ravenna, which, less fortunate, never obtained the patriarchal dignity.

Owing to the acquiescence of Pope Vigilius in the condemnation of the "Three Chapters", in the Fifth General Council at Constantinople (553), the bishops of northern Italy (Liguria and Aemilia) and among them those of the Venetia and Istria, broke off communion with Rome, under the leadership of Macedonius of Aquileia (535–556). The schism provided the opportunity for the bishop of Aquileia to assume the title "patriarch". Macedonius' successor Paulinus I (557–569) began using the title around 560.

In 628, the patriarchs of Old-Aquileia transferred their residence to Cormons. Patriarch Callistus moved the patriarchal residence to Cividale del Friuli (Forum Julii) in 737 and it remained there until the thirteenth century when it was moved again, this time to Udine.
In the last decade of the 8th century, the creation of a new metropolitan see at Salzburg added to the humiliation of Old-Aquileia, which long claimed as its own the territory of Carinthia.

Still later, Patriarch Ursus of Aquileia (died 811) accepted the arbitration of Charlemagne, by which the Carinthian territory north of the Drave was relinquished to Arno of Salzburg. Nevertheless, the Hungarian invasion of the 9th century and the decline of imperial control increased the authority of the patriarchs.

h02.png

Aquilean coat of arms

In 1077, the patriarch Sigeard of Belstein received the ducal title of Friuli from German king Henry IV, an act traditionally regarded as the birth of the state of Aquileia, or the Patrie dal Friûl. The Patriarchate, now Archbishopy subsequently extended its political control in the area: regions under Aquileian control in the following centuries included Trieste, Carinthia, Styria, Cadore and the central part of Istria. At its maximum height, the Archbishopy of Aquileia was one of the largest states in Italy. Noblemen from the Archbishopy were protagonists in the Crusades. In 1186 Archbishop Gottfried (Gitifredo Tedesco) crowned Frederick Barbarossa's son, Henry VI, as King of Italy.

h05.jpg

Map of Patrie dal Friûl

In the early 13th century, particularly under Volchero (1204–1218) and Bertrand (1218–1251), the Archbishopy had a flourishing industry and commerce, favoured by a good road network, as well as a notable cultural activity. Damaged by earthquakes and other calamities, and reduced to a few hundred inhabitants, Aquileia was nearly abandoned in the 14th century. The capital of the state was moved first ot Cividale and the, from 1238, to Udine, in central Friuli, which had been a favourite residence of the patriarch since the 13th century and soon became a large city.

h03.jpg

Patriarchat/Archbishopy of Aquileia in middle of 14th century

Antonio Caetani, born 1360, was appointed as bishop in January of 1395, following assasination of previous Archbishop, John Sobieslaw of Moravia, who faced critical situation in Friuli in which most of feudal families of the Archbishopy had seized local power for themselves. The events precipitated when the Archbishop's marshal murdered the noble Federico Savorgnan at Udine, causing a popular rebellion which was supported by the Republic of Venice. The Archbishop took refuge in the castle of Soffumbergo. However, John was lured to Udine for a fake negotiate, and he was assassinated there by Tristano Savorgnan, Federico's son (October, 13th 1394). He was secretly buried in the Cathedral of Udine to avoid further upheavals.
 
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CoyoteBeast

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Change of centuries (1399-1403)

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001.jpg

Political map dated on October, 14th 1399

It was autumn of 1399 when Archbishop Antonio Caetani returned to his residency in Udine, for first time in 14 months. His home was Rome, and he never left it, even after becoming Archbishop of Aquileia. And nothing showed that things will change this time as people were not delighted with his reign. Neither he was with people. Nobles continued their ruling and Aquileia is decentralized for ages resulting in really bad stability. And with two powers sitting on shoulders of country and ever-present Venezia, it seems like end is near and Patria del Friuli won't make it into new century. Antonio isn't interested at all to interfere with noble-peasants-Venetian triangle, at least he wasn't during his first 55 months of reign. Pope Boniface VIII's sibling maybe just isn't meant to be ruler of our beloved country.

002.jpg

Decentralization of country was main problem

Things started to change in October 1399 when statesman from Gorz, Ottobuono Sopransi, arrived for a meeting to Antonio's palace.
"Your Grace, the most reverend excellency, I'm so glad you accepted to meet me.", Otto said as he kneeled and kissed Archbishop's sacred ring. "My name is Ottobuono Sopransi and I'm local statesman. I would like to talk with you about state of our beloved Aquileia."
Otto was young and handsome, well dressed and so humble. Probably he was the only statesman who tried to change things around since being elected in spring. He tried everything and was really desperate, otherwise he wouldn't try to visit Archbishop.
"Mister Sopransi, I'm glad to meet you too. My personal assistant told me you want to address. However, it's not so clear what is the purpose of this meeting."
"Your Grace, with current situation in hand our four provinces won't stay in Aquileia for long. Not that I attack you, Your Grace, nor your ruling, but noble has took too much power and Venetians are trying from inside to make our land defect to their republic.", he was direct and was scared that his approach may get him hanged. But he had no other choice.
"I know son, I know.", Antonio replied. "But with no help from outside there isn't much I can do about it. Maybe I shouldn't have left Aquileia. This situation is really getting out of hand. And you are here to propose something?"
Surprised with Archbishop's response, Otto needed few second to get together, he finally made it through and his voice is heard. "Yes, Your Grace, I..."
Antonio interrupted him: "No need for Your Grace thing. You can call me by my last name. It's Caetani. Continue."
"Your Grace, uhm, Mister Caetani, you need to take things in your own hands. You need, you really need to centralize power and rule this country. Nobles are killing each other for few achres of land. And would sell their souls just for few denaros."
"Allright my son. I already know that. But how to strip them of power and not get killed?"
"There must be way.", Otto was suddenly confused.
"I will think about it and will send my assistant with response in few days."

It was October, 3rd. For seven days Otto waited for response, becoming more and more nervous. And just as he was leaving council room on eight day, emissaries came. Archbishop called for him. Deal was struck in lighting manner, Antonio I Caetani was preparing to take over Patria del Friuli, land he lays hand on. New Pope gave it to him maybe just because of his late uncle, Boniface VIII, but he decided it was time to defend his heritage. For sake of his ancestors, for sake of Aquilean people.

On October, 14th one thousand men came from Romagna, infantry regiment Pope sent on request of Antonio. At 6:00 they were in front of palace and it was a sign, sign for Antonio to call important people for big council meeting to his residence. Among clergy and noblemen, Otto arrived, as well as local minter Paolo Borromeo and country treasurer Fabrizio Testi. Feeling secure with small army in near sight Archbishop told noblemen that he is taking over internal ruling of Aquileia. He also took gold mines and mints from their possesion leaving noble with just their estates to manage. At least he didn't revoke their council seats.

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As they left he addressed his new advisors, Sopransi, Borromeo and Testi: "We made first step, and cannot go further for at least five years. But we made first steps." Afterwards they discussed state of country. With 4 provinces and two gold mines Aquileia had target on map of Austria, Hungary and Venezia. Unless they manage to make new friends and alliances end is near. That's why Antonio took 22 gold coins and sent together with letter to Albert IV von Habsburg, King of Austria. His first diplomatic step was decision to get relations with Austrians and Habsburgs improved maybe followed later with alliance proposal. Financial situation was rather good with more than 20 ducats coming in per year and it was Borromeo's job to reduce inflation caused by gold mining. They agreed that for now balanced approach was the best, with goverment and trade just ahead on priority list as trade in Venice could improve country's financial situation and goverment should improve to more easily deal with nobility. Later that day, as advised by Sopransi, Antonio moved national focus eastern to Gorz.

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Just few days later letters started to arrive. Urbino, Montenegro, Milan and Achaea offered military alliance as they heard Archbishop took over his country back from nobility. Among these letter from Pope came in which he expressed his gratitude to allowance of military access as well as congratulations to Antonio for getting grip. For first time Antonio spoke in front of large crowd and people were delighted with change of policy which is now seen as positive one throughout catholic Europe. In that speech, which lasted over two hours, every action was explained and military alliance with Milan announced together with Liquor act. Reforms were coming quick and coming fast.

It was becoming quiet in Udine with everyone doing their job during first few months of Antonio's active rule of Aquileia. But he couldn't stand still in his palace and went on diplomatic tour along Adriatic coast. During November and December he visited Salona in Dalmatia, city of Ragusa, Kotor in Zeta and almost all Italian coast cities in east. This trip resulted in improvement of diplomatic relations with neighbours and two new military alliances, with Ragusa and Papal States. Archbishop was happy as he came back to Udine, happiest he ever was in Friuli. Domestic situation was calm and stability steadily improved as days passed by.

"Your Grace, Your Grace! Venetians are opening trade station in Pula.", Fabrizio Testi was excited as he entered palace just few days into new year. "It might be minor gain in trade, but it shows we are respected in the area."
"Oh, it's you Mister Testi. Why are you shouting?", Antonio replied calmly.
"I'm sorry. I'm so glad everything gets better. You have changed country in just six months."
"Maybe, but we're just at the beggining. Are you here just to shout or you have some more news?"
"Uhm... Uhm... Nothing else Your Grace. Just wanted to share the joy. I'm sorry if I interrupted you in something.", Testi was blushing now, but still with spark in his eyes.
"Do not worry. But I will prefer to be left alone."
"Till we see again, Your Grace."
Testi left palace swiftly and decided to share his joy around Udine. This 30 year old bishop treasurer was appointed 6 years ago after finishing high schools in Venice, but was quickly marginalizied and couldn't do much work until October.

Early 1400 was marked with revolutions all around region. Rebels and pretenders unsuccessfully battled in Austria, Milan, Hungary and Montenegro. Milan took Ferrara under it's sphere of influence and Papacy warned Urbino not to start any wars, while Naples were finishing thing in Epirus. Things at home could be named boring, but that is very much what our ruler wanted.

In May Achaea sent third letter pleading for military alliance, but Antonio refused once again as he couldn't see any positives in long distance relationship between two minor nations despite Achaea having strong bond with Pope. And just as he was writing his final and hard no his two Udine based advisors entered the room.
"Your Grace, we have just been informed that Beneficio is marching towards Ancona.", Testi said.
Otto quickly continued: "Did you know that? Should we equip our men? In addition to our only regiment we can get three more in under three months."
"Wait there. Slow down Otto. So, Boniface started his Urbino agression?"
"Yes. Information we got from our friends in Romagna is that they should reach fort of Ancona in dawn."
Antonio wasn't surprised. Surely he knew what Boniface would invade Urbino in attempt to connect his two provinces. After all he prepared for war with Ferrara just to be interrupted by Milan's guarantee of independence.
"I think Urbino must fall.", Antonio replied. "Otto, please arrange that our regiment board ships and send all of our fleet there. But be careful, do not invade Ancona province before I give you such order."
"You mean you are sending Otto to war, Your Grace?", Testi couldn't believe what he heard. Top statesmam was about to leave to fight and possibly lose his life.
"Of course I am. He will stay on deck of command ship and won't engage in fights. Right Otto? You won't fight, you will just observe.", Antonio had an idea.
"As you wish Your Grace."
"And please, stop calling me Your Grace. I hear it every day at least thousand times. And mostly you two and Paolo are those who are addressing me with title. Mister Caetani is fine, Antonio is also fine. I act as a leader to you, when we are in public you can call me formally."
"Yes Your Grace, as you wish.", Otto said before room bursted into laughs. Who could tell that one of them is going to war.

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It took two months for invitation to war to arrive from Rome. But it arrived in July and Ottobuono got green light for military action. He was on command ship to just observe and wait for all combats to finish. And Urbinese troops were almost anihilated, except those defenders of city. Aquileia's only regiment, Papacy 1st, marched into foreign land and were ready to help their brothers from Rome in sieging the fort. Month later Naples declared war on Urbino, hoping like a vulture to get something if Pope fails. They conquered Epirus in 6 months and were eager to do some more combats.

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After two months we entered war with small stability cost

Otto was on ship for month before going to Romagna in Papal headquarters and was learning new things, while Testi and Paolo Borromeo stayed in Aquileia doing their regular bussines. Testi was in charge of trade, and not much successfull as merchants went in and out of Venice month after month. Paolo on the other hand was on relation Gorz-Krein, taking care of gold mining and minting. He was advisor with least contact with Archbishop, yet his word was golden and Antonio accepted his every advice, his every plan during this first year of friendship.

Situation was looking good in autumn, but Milan's warning against Pope and his expansions was enough to trigger nervous people in Italy. Just month later Jacopo Gonzaga took his troops to siege of Pisa as he claimed his right to throne of Milan. Our beloved leader recieved two very harsh letters late in 1400 from dear friends. Pope Benificio informed our court of Aragon's influence on him and people of Ragusa are under direct threat from Hungary who expanded influence accross Balkan pennisula. Archbishop entered new year with few worries. Austria was good, with not a single unit on borders, while Hungary had several troops near Istria. Venetians were building army, but apparently for some Mediterranean conquest.

Boring stuff continued to happen in Aquileia during first half of 1401. In June siege of Ancona finished and Urbino was annexed by Papal States and Pope was really satisfied with his allies and their help. Just two weeks later Achaea declared war on Byzanthine in their quest for Morea, and Byzanthines were already in war with Candar and Karaman. Archbishop was sorry now he didn't have that alliance, but would later found out from Benificio's letter that Pope doesn't approve such war in attempts to make amends with Eastern Christians.

August saw Istria becoming part of HRE, an event that improved our nations relationship with Emperor of HRE, Kingdom of Bohemia. In same month Venetians started their reconquest of Zeta, war that lasted just two months resulting in annection. Things at Hungarian borders were serious and Archbishop was worried with reason.

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With Istria joining all of our provinces are part of HRE

Letter arrived on November, 15th as top priority and Antonio called council. It was matter of national interest. Clergy, nobility and advisors came, very worried about news.
"I'm so sad to inform you that our brothers in Ragusa are under direct attack of powerful Hungarian army...", Antonio couldn't finish the sentence before his words would vanish in loud talk. "Calm down. Calm down. CALM DOWN!!!"
"We have two options in front of us. To go and help or to betray our friends and brothers. And I know everything, I've been thinking about this scenario for long time.", he tried to calm council members.
"First one would be heroic, as we have only one regiment ready to fight and wouldn't have much chance against opponent who has better weapons and outnumbers us. At best, we would lose our gold provinces with mainly Austrian population. The other one, however, is my prefered choice. Our reputation will tarnish, but we will save our heads. I just wanted to let you know that. We shall remain at peace."

Antonio seemed confident about his decision, but he almost cried when he wrote letter back to Montenegro in which he informed them that he cannot help as Aquileia is short of soldiers. Declaration of war would just postpone anihilation, and Hungarians would anihilate both countries. Europe looked at Aquileia as a traitor, and if it was of any comfort, reasonable traitor, who had no other option available.

January went stressful and Naples guarantee of our independence didn't change much. Antonio was sure that they had some hidden reasons for doing such thing. Was it possible they wanted to fight with Hungarians who had small navy or to provoke our alies? We will surely find out later. Castille became defender of faith, does that means they will defend us also? Antonio thinks it's all just a show.

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An insult, but still helping hand if Hungarian knock on our doors

And what of show is in Greece. Morea changed owner and it wasn't Achaeans who got their hands onto their ancient lands, but Karaman. Born in belly of Ottomans they managed to spread lands in south of Turkey and now gained precious Greek province after totally defeating Byzanthines. Morea on the other hand now has a chance to claim Thrace and Constantinopole itself.

Early in March Naples and Milan joined English-French war as opposed sides with strong armies. Everyone expects that Napolitans will invade Pisa and Siena as they are under control of pretender for some time now. 8000 men from Urbino stood up against agressor and started a revolt in Ancona, lead by Oddantonio Braschi, former Milanese general. As always thing in Aquileia are going slow and Antonio thought it was time to spice things up.

"Otto! Come here, please!", Antonio shouted.
"Yes? What can I do for you?"
"Is there any chance of getting more population in our cities?"
"Hardly. We could only try to lure Lombardians from other Kingdoms and Duchies to come to our country, but that is a long shot."
"I like that idea. That means we must put out some gold for them?"
"Not at all, we have lot of opening in our mining industry and opportunity to work and live peacefully for our compatriots is our only chance."
"So, what are you waiting?"
"Well, Your Grace, I'm sorry to say this, but by enabling that settlement we would probably angry our neighbours in Austria, as our golden provinces are those with Austrian culture. They would not like to see we are getting Lombardians in on behalf of relative natives."
"Who cares? They can attack us this way or another. Please proceed with plan."
"As you wish. But, I have one question. Which province?"
"The one with better chance of succeeding. That's such a silly question."
"I will look into it and supervise myself."
"That's the spirit Otto, that's the spirit."

And that's how settlement of Krain begun. Only other notable things that happened in 1402 is that Ragusa got annexed by Hungary and that Pope and Archbishop spent their holidays together in Romagna.

New year started with alliance between us and Toscany and continued mainly with court humour around Pope's inability to suppres those rebels in Ancona, who got into his favorite summerhouse in Romagna as well. But that humour was miles away from Archbishop who was very fond of Pope. After all, he appointed him here and helped him throughout the years. Milanese accepted white peace with England, meaning their war with Naples ended as well. Without even one casualty. And they called it war. Gonzaga is going up and down his "liberated" provinces of Siena and Pisa unable to break out to main Milan's provinces, but better for him as regular army outnumbers his in ratio 3:1.

Alpes are white in November, and winter came early to Aquileia. Boredom with lack of internal affairs can be positive as every non-clergy member of council went to mountains for some recreation. Clergy however stayed as they planned something big. And big things happened on November, 28th when Archbishop got letter from Pope.
"My dear friend,
I'm glad I can inform you we managed to appoint Monsineur Paradisi of Krain as Cardinal in The Holy See. Our preparations were complete just in time, as Cardinal Kesgaila died, aged 93, few days ago. Please inform Cardinal Paradisi of this and his obligations to me as well as to The Holy See.
With kindest regards,
Boniface VIII"

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News traveled fast causing big joy around our nation. Everyone was so proud we have our own Cardinal.

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Map of Europe dated November, 20th 1403
 
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CoyoteBeast

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1.3. Ten years of war (1404-1413)

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Annual meeting in Aquilea was scheduled for January, 5th 1404. For first time with Cardinal attending, Cardinal Paradisi of Krain. Archbishop called for these annual meeting to hear everyone from nobility and clergy and then build his strategy for future so everyone could be happy. All he ever wanted was peace and happiness in Patria del Friuli. And he listened to nobles, they wanted their previous rights, he listened to clergy who were only interested in gold and ducats. Antonio was furious since only his three loyal advisors actually had some nice ideas for nation to prosper. As he disbanded party he ordered for full mobilization, including two infantry and one cavalry regiment. Nobles weren't happy, but they had no other option, as they were not united in their demands. Fabrizio Testi informed Archbishop about state of treasury, over 100 ducats were there waiting to be spent. Inflation was around 0.3 percent as Testi didn't need to mint more than just basic amount of ducats. Last minute, Antonio ordered for another, 4th galley to be built in Friuli dock.

Things were slow in winter and early spring with just news of Pope and his crazy attempt to crush rebels in Romagna with just three thousand men, and rebels were twice as strong. In March Byzanthine annexed Morea and then entered alliance with Milan, our ally.

On 1st of May Archbishop sent men to gather his advisors.
"I've just been informed that Ottomans are attacking Karaman and their allies Candar. Are we in position to attack and liberate people of Morea?", Antonio directly asked his advisors.
"We have six thousand man at disposal, but naval transport for just two thousand at time being. It would be daring operation to transport all of them to Greece.", Otto was first to respond. He was still the man he was in 1399 and keen to make important decisions for Aquileia. And what is more important, he learned thing or two back about combat, both naval and land, in Pope's war against Urbino.
"Well, that is truly special situation. What about our abilites to raise some more transport ships?", Antonio asked.
"Maybe four or five more that we can pay in current economical situation. Two in November and two or three more next May. But what about naval force those islamic countries possess?" Fabrizio was well informed about situation in country, he was not only treasurer but also in charge of production, which included three Aquileian docks.
"Ottomans would take care of that for us. And Pope has around 10 galleys, give or take two, at his disposal. But, I'm not happy to hear about those dates. Any chance to push deadlines more into summer?"
"Dates I gave you Your Grace are best ones. That is if we hurry up with production."
"So, we must deal with navy we have at the moment. That's all I needed to hear, prepare for war. And Testi?"
"Yes, Your Grace?"
"You and your Your Grace thing, I can't stand it any more. We will go into production of two more transport ships."
"As you wish your honour."
"Antonio, if I may say something.", Otto had few words to share. "I've ordered settlement of Gorz, acted on my own. I hope everything is alright with that decision."
"Of course my dear, of course. Very well, your call on settlement was natural. But don't settle Istria yet. We won't gain much."

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War of Morean liberation started on May, 1st 1404

Antonio had war plan. With just two regiments at sea he needed help from third parties. So he wrote to Byzanthine Emperor Ioannes VIII asking for military access. He even asked Milan for help in that diplomatic arrangement. And he succeeded. That meant he can concentrate troops in Achaea before attacking Morea, in case Morea is heavily defended. But it wasn't and siege was promptly placed at beggining of war.

In June Bohemia declared war on Hungary with Milan and Venice going into war as opposed sides which should guarantee conflicts near our borders. By the end of 1404 we won battles in sea of Marmara and Candar's province Sinope against Karaman/Candar war coalition.

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With little help of our friends we sunk some ships in August, 1404

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Candar lost their last regiment in Battle of Sinope, dated November, 1404

New year, 1405, started with Milanese troops winning two battles against Urbinese rebels. They decided not to fight Venice in Verona, but help Pope instead. And rebels were anihilated, but noone had put siege on Ancona and Romagna forts. Situation at home was as always very quiet with all of our troops fighting in Greece and Turkey. We left Aquileia without protection, but Austrians aren't interested in war against us and with other two neighbours, Hungary and Venice, at war, we should be safe, for now at least.

In April things in Turkey started to change. Firstly, on 24th of April Sinope signed truce with Ottomans becoming their vassals and ceded province of Sinope to them, on which we had siege, very successful one. Four days later Aquileian troops won siege of Morea, and while we were interested in pursuing war against Karaman little more, truce between Bohemia and Hungary forced Antonio into signing peace treaty with Karaman as he had to bring back troops back home to protect our borders. Little did he know that those troops wouldn't reach home for another year.

In peace deal with Karaman, Archbishop gained territory of Morea which he released as vassal state just few hours later. We became liberators of Greek provinces, which was greeted throughout Christian Europe, especially by Byzanthines, who however still claimed those lands as their own.

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War was over with success

As always, Archbishop Antonio I called for meeting in his palace, to celebrate war victory. Halfway throughout meeting his was interrupted by messenger who had urgent news.
"Your Grace, the most reverend excellenty, Archbishop of Aquileia Antonio Caetani, my name is Luigi Robaldi and I'm Pope's messenger. He has message of highest priority for you."
"Carry on, my son.", Antonio replied as everyone in room went silent, wondering what happened.
"Pope Benificio VIII informs you about Urbinese rebels, nationalists, who declared their independece and claimed provinces of Ancona and Romagna."
"So, he is calling Aquileia for help in war against Urbino? We will assists. Otto, when will..."
Messenger interrupted him: "I'm sorry to interrupt, but Pope hasn't declared war."
"He isn't. Why? Nevertheless, tell him we will enter war. With our without his help. Take that message to Him with you. We will declare war on Urbino. Otto, when will our armies arrive in Adriatic sea?"
"Next month. Troops from Morea are already on board."
"That's good."

Pope was limited, with no army after latest attack in January last year against rebels, he lost all of his men. So, he decided not to enter war, but was grateful his ally would go into war against his enemies without even being asked. And in June sieges of Romagna and Ancona started, being briefly interrupted three times, twice against small Urbinese armies and once in heroic battle of Romagna when Urbinese peasants with 6000 men attacked Aquileian army which had just 2500 men at disposal.

Otto informed Antonio about new national idea of military drill in June. After six years of preparation Aquileian army was finally equiped with better weapons and clothes, resulting in higher spirit.

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Goverment research enabled adoption of first National Idea

On April, 1st 1406 Paolo Borromeo retired due to illness and Camillo Melzi, previously in charge of gold mine in Krain took his place. Cami waw Paolo's choice, one of the brightest people throughout the nation, capable to make finest economical decisions with no or small negative effects on treasury. Antonio wasn't pleased at fact he had to part ways with Paolo and was praying for his life every day. On same day siege of Ancona finished and peace offer from Urbino came, they were offering 25 ducats and Antonio wasn't interested.

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Camillo Melzi became new treasurer of state and Antonio's advisor

One month later Aquileian forces broke into fort of Romagna which was final act of war, Antonio's second offensive in two years. Urbino had no other option but to accept annexation. It even show our strenght in region and Hungarians decided to move troops from border. With them and Austrians out of the picture, Archbishop only had to deal with Venetians who are still trying to claim our lands and even have mission to conquer palace of Friuli.

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End of war against Urbino saw Aquileia expanding into central Italy

By October Venetians showed their face as they signed declaration of our independence. Archbishop Antonio saw that document as preparation for war. Even though he tried with all possible diplomatic solutions to stay in peace with Venice, he now knew war against merchant republic is reality. Maybe tomorrow, maybe next year, Venetians will atack.

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1408 went quietly in "old" Aquileia, but Urbinese nationalists revolted for two times during that year. First one in Ancona was suppressed in swift manner as 6000 rebels lost their life in just 20 days of battle against 7000 Aquileian soldier. Even though their maintanance was cut in half brave soldiers of 1st Army fought hard and won with just 668 lost men. Second revolt was harder one and lasted from September to March resulting in four battles and 4000 lost soldiers. But it was won and Aquileia showed it means bussiness.

In July Milanese entered war of aggresion against Mameluks, calling to arms all of their allies, including Hungary, Byzanthine and us. As our soldiers had to take care of possible revolts in Ancona and Romagna, we could only offer our navy as help. All 11 ships, including 5 transports were ordered to patrol shores of Egypt.

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"Your Grace, Gaetano del Caretto is revolting in Krain, he took gold mine and is besieging our fort.", Cami run across Archbishop's palace as he brought bad news to Antonio. "He has almost 9000 men under command."
"That's problem. Any chance to mobilize some more men in Friuli and Gorz?"
"I don't know. You should ask Otto. He is in charge of army."
Antonio was worried. He knew that new decision to strip nobility of 5 percent of income in favour of technological researches would make them nervous, but he didn't expected them to raise men and fight against their own people. Luckily he was able to gather some other noble families and make new cavalry regiment in addition to two new infantry regiments and 7000 men under arms he had at the moment. At that moment he raised war taxes, he needed all the money he could get to take care of Gaetano.

Luckily Hungarians helped and won two battles against Gaetano del Caretto before Archbishop's Army would killed them of including Gaetano himself on May, 19th. Antonio dealt with internal problem as he had worries about Venetians for long time. Just few month ago they annexed Corfu and wouldn't seem to stop dreaming about more expansion around Adriatic sea. Order was that all 10 regiments move to border with Treviso.

Nine days later big war started, France went with their reconquest of Burgundian land, at it drew many nations in. Austrians were backing French, while Bohemians stood up for Burgundy and Venice getting in as well. Antonio knew that this was right time to deal with Venice. He had allies of Milan, Morea, Papal States and Tuscany ready and willing to get into war if he asks. And with Bohemians battling Austrians, he could get them out of the way. Diplomatic actions throughout last few years saw dramatic improvements in relations towards leaders of HRE, but just under the radar of Austria, who are bordering us. And when Antonio found out from scouts that main army of Venice, which had 10000 men on foot along with 5000 cavaliers, went into Austria he signed declaration of war on June, 9th 1410 on same day he signed truce with Mameluks. He will need his navy back in Adriatic and East Mediterranean against much more powerful Venetian fleet. And as he expected everyone showed up except Bohemia. Aquileia, Milan, Morea, Papal States and Tuscany against Venice, Switzerland, Salzburg and Naxos.

Milanese took care of Swiss, while Papal States and Morea went into Athens and Crete. Archbishop's Army lead by Antonio himself was besieging fort of Treviso when Venetians came back from Austria and attacked. Navy left port and was placed strategically in channel just between city of Venezia and province of Treviso. That was risky move as Venetian fleet could get in and get easy victory, but Antonio needed to cut of opponent's army from reaching safe place after battle. And he succeeded, winning battle of Treviso and then pursuing Venetians to Verona where they were anihilated on September, 15th. One Milanese and one Aquileian regiment besieged city of Venezia, while two regiments besieged Treviso. With safe passage through Hungary rest of the forces were going for Zeta, Albania and Corfu.

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Venetians lost all of their forces in just one month

At that moment war exhaustion was too high and Aquileia was lucky not to have rebels in two Urbinese provinces. In December Cyprus joined forces with Venice in war against us. And in February next year Swiss wanted out of war with white peace, but Milan forces took siege of all of their cities in addition to winning all battles in Swiss mountains, and Antonio didn't want to accept that peace treaty. That year was filled with small battles on land which our war coalition won with ease and some navy battles at sea, but all of our allies were staying clear of Venetian fleet. Until September, when they were quickly beaten in sea of Crete.

On January, 3rd 1412 Milan signed peace treaty with Venice taking Naxos out of vassalisation as well as taking care of Albanian national question. In addition they took few ducats, but left Aquileia with Switzerland in sight. Antonio needed two battles and one siege to make Swiss sign white peace treaty in November. Few months before Naxos went out of war as they cut all of their relations with Venice. In December Tuscany went out, but they didn't even participate in this war at any single moment.

By March Archbishop Antonio I took care of Salzburg and Cyprus as he signed peace treates and conceded defeat, but it was strategical move as Venice without land unit and still very powerfull fleet was alone against Aquileia, Morea and Papal States, who controlled all but two of their provinces. Corfu was besieged by Greek rebels and siege of Venezia was under way. They attempted to sign peace treaty month after month, first with offering Treviso, then added Zeta as well and almost 50 ducats but Antonio wouldn't hear of that.

Some day in April 1413 Archbishop was under attack of his own people. They wanted out of the war, as they could acquire province of Treviso for quite some time.
"I can hear you very well, but I must say no. Venetians are too powerful, and they could quickly regain their strenght if we let them go this easily. I want to strip them of their provinces and leave them with only city of Venezia in possession.", Antonio defended himself in front of council.

On May, 24th siege of Venice was won, meaning just Corfu was out of Aquileian hands. And it would stay that way as Venetian fleet was blocking way for Aquileian troops to lay siege on fort.

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Antonio knew that now is time to make peace treaty. Total domination in war was crowned day later as he signed truce with Venice who released Zeta as independent nation, ceded Treviso and Crete to Aquileia as well as Athens to Papal States, paid 50 ducats as war damage, revoked core on Albania and they annuled their treaties with Cyprus. It was the biggest victory anyone in Friuli could imagine or even dream of. Venice was left with just city of Venezia and island of Corfu in their hands, broke and out of Mediterranean picture. Antonio gave independence to Crete, making this strategically placed island his vassal state.

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Peace treaty between Venice and Aquileia, dated May, 25th 1413

On very same day Archbishop decided to kick Fabrizio Testi out of advisor council to make space for Lodovico Mancini from Pola, Istria. With him, his advices and support of Florentine school act he will start diplomatic moves to lower his infamy as nation of Aquileia was seen as conquest nation following three offensive wars without proper casus belli. He very well knew it would take at least 20 years to do so.

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Antonio supported Florentine school in attempt to lower infamy

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Lodovico Mancini was one of finest diplomats Aquileia ever produced

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Political map of central and eastern Mediterranean, dated June, 1st 1413
 
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volksmarschall

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This should get interesting...plans to unify Italy perhaps? :)
 

CoyoteBeast

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Very nice update. Foreboding all around. But at the same time there is always the little glimpse of hope in your read. Amazing writing style. And I look forward to more.
Thanks. I'm hopeful despite the fact that doom day can come very easily with Austria and Hungary on our borders.

This should get interesting...plans to unify Italy perhaps? :)
That is my main plan. I'm not taking any provinces west of Savoy, north of Milan and Aquileia and east of Aquileia, so it would leave boot with four islands (Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica) as my goal. And won't go full throttle on exploration and colonization, at least not before I unite Italian lands.
 

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That is my main plan. I'm not taking any provinces west of Savoy, north of Milan and Aquileia and east of Aquileia, so it would leave boot with four islands (Sicily, Malta, Sardinia, Corsica) as my goal. And won't go full throttle on exploration and colonization, at least not before I unite Italian lands.

Ironically, I enjoy "handicapping" myself in many games I play throughout the Paradox titles to make for a more engaging, challenging, and interesting game. Not that I don't like WC or reading WC AARs, I never found much enjoyment stomping over the world. Of course, I'm also still playing to "win", in the sense that I want to be the strongest and most powerful country by games end, or in the EU world, have the most prestige points.

That said, it'll be interested to see how you do. :)
 

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1.4. False peace (1413-1420)

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In the middle of 1413 Aquileia was medium force. Antonio was more than happy with situation as he had quality army, consisting of 10 regiments, 10 ships in fleet, stable economy and loyal allies. His diplomatic actions with neighbours ensured his and Aquileian safety, even though he was not adored outside of nation's borders.

Economy was steadily improving and years of 1413 and 1414 were filled with news about rebels all around Europe. Aquileian mighty forces defeated those on island of Crete and in province of Ancona, while Milan and Papal States failed to take care of rebellions in Siena and Athens respectively. Archbishop's personal goal to ensury safety of nation was crowned on December, 9th 1414 when Austrians signed declaration of military access.

Rebels from Pisa fought with pride and honour conquering both provinces (Pisa and Siena) while defeating and totally anihilating 6 Milanese regiments of professional army. By March, 7th 1415 they prepared everything for declaration of independence. Archbishop Antonio decided to give nationalists a visit as he tried to ease things to Giovanni Maria I Visconti, King of Milan, his loyal friend. He didn't succeed.

Big grief hit Aquileia, especially Archbishop, clergy and people of Krain in August 1415. Cardinal Paradisi died at the age of 76, 12 years after being appointed to the Holy See. Antonio ordered three days of sorrow throughout the nation following death of cardinal.

Next year saw celebration as first constable was built in Krain. The first of many that will follow. Camillo Melzi did outstanding job as secretary of economy and finances. He kept inflation under 1 percent and ensured positive balance each and every year of his service. It took four years to collect enough ducats to start construction of constable, but he succeeded. Unfortunately, he died in 1417, just three days before Fabrizio Testi, who was out of service since 1413 because of illness. Antonio saw these deaths as bad omen. He lost his dear friends one after the another. Luckily for people of Aquileia, Cami's assistant Timeteo Franchi was skilled enough to take Cami's position immediately continuing his economical strategy. Lodovico Mancini from Pola was secretary of foreign affairs, while Otto, Antonio's loyal advisor, took charge of military, production and internal policies and was acting in position of Archbishop when Antonio was on long trip.

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Camillo Melzi was advisor, reformer and secretary and his death was big hit for Aquileia

In July Archbishop Antonio I Caetani recieved letter from Boniface VIII. Rebels in Athens, financed by Byzanthium, decided to occupy province and kick out all of Pope's men, declaring themselves as part of Byzanth empire. But Pope didn't want war against Orthodox leaders, and eventually forgot that he was actually in control of that province in any moment of history. Two months later another letter arrived, this time announcing inclusion of Monsineur Testi in the Holy See. Krain got second Cardinal and it seemed right for Testi to become Cardinal as he learned from Cardinal Paradisi who was his tutor.

Third Italian Conference on the position of Pisa took place in Modena on November, 26th with leaders from Milan, Modena, Ferrara, Tuscany and Aquielia attending as well as rebel leaders and Pope Boniface VIII. It was final attempt to find solution before even more conflicts occur and more men lose their lifes.
Problem were King Giovanni Maria I of Milan and two radical leaders of rebels, Marco Gustavo and Constantino della Ubaldini. They didn't want to make compromise and all efforts from third parties were pointless. Despite their best efforts by December rebels declared independence as Kingdom of Pisa and Milan declared war on them in attempt to reconquer provinces of Pisa and Siena. Constantino was crowned as King of Pisa, and Marco Gustavo as Duke of Siena.

Milan had 16 regiments fully equiped, but no mean of transporting them one at a time by ships to Pisa/Siena. And after their first landing in Pisa went as total disaster, losing 1000 men in just six days, long before reinforcement could arrive. Giovanni Maria had no other option but to call his allies for help, and Archbishop Antonio was first to respond. With seven thousand men under arms he marched from Ancona through Rome to Siena before engaging Army of Pisa on February, 4th 1418. With string of wins in battles, sieges were laid.

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Despite having dominant army Milan needed help from allies to take care of revolutionaries

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Aquileian army was way more powerful than Army of Pisa resulting in easy wins accross battlefields in Pisa

However, Aquileia had major drawback in war with Urbinese nationalists revolting during April and May. Antonio needed his big army and four months to take care of seven thousand rebels. By October Pisa started offering peace treaties, ranging from white peace to money reparation. End of 1418 was painful for Archbishop as two great man died. First, on December, 1st, Ottobuono Sopransi was killed in ambush just few hundred meters away from Archbishop's palace. Guard was quick to react and they catched two suspects, both been associated with Venice in past. And while Archbishop wasn't violent man, he ordered hanging of both suspects without trial. He made that decision on day Cardinal Testi died, and was possible influenced by own pain.

After constable in Gorz was finished Antonio appointed Leopoldo Luserna Bigliori, scientist from University of Romagna, to his advisor's council. Smaller neighbours were making big progress towards new technologies and Antonio couldn't allow them to break apart. On 9th of April, siege of Siena finished resulting in total war victory against revolutionaries and Antonio had meeting with King Giovanni Maria I in his palace in Milan.

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After long siege of Siena war was now over

"We have achieved total victory against those pesky rebels of Pisa and Siena. Territories are occupied by Aquileian soldier until you manage to transport some troops there and ensure your ruling in those two provinces.", Antonio was loyal to his ally and has spent a lot of gold in order to win last war.
"I am grateful Your Grace for you assist in war, but I can inform you I have no intentions of taking back those two provinces."
"What?", Antonio was surprised. "Why? Couldn't you inform me earlier?"
"That is decision I made with nobles one month ago. As you said, they are pesky, want their independence so bad and don't want to be vassals. I would love to take them back as vassals, but they will stand up once again no matter what."
"So, that means, I fought for nothing?"
"I guess so. But, at least you got little more experienced, didn't you?"
"I have to conclude this meeting. You have 12 hours to claim lands of Pisa and Siena. If times run out, I'll most probably return them to Bohemia, emperor of HRE."

Antonio was really upset. This wasn't first time King of Milan stood him up. Back in 1412 he signed peace treaty with Venice leaving Aquileia with Swiss behind back. It resulted in losing Corfu and extension of war. But, they are allied with Hungarians and still powerful and are very important ally for defense. That's why Antonio waited for 24 hours for reaction from Lombardia before annexing Pisa. This war wasn't so after all, as Aquileia gained two coastal provinces. On the downside, members of HRE and Bohemia as emperor won't look away from fact that Aquileia now controls two HRE provinces which are not their core one. But, Antonio was on right track of expansion into Apennines, and he won't take step back no matter what.

209.jpg

With no other option, Antonio decided to integrate two provinces into Archbishopy

Nobles in Ancona revolted for two times in 1419 and 1420 and Declaration of De-Centralisation was the main reason. Archbishop signed that Declaration in May taking all of national aspects of goverment and economy away from nobility. They were almost stripped naked and were ready to fight back.
 
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A very nice and important victory in Italy, and you got Pisa to go along with it!
 

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1.5. Invincibility (1420-1422)

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Pope's decision to stay in thruce with Byzanths left Antonio with tied hands after Wallachia, Byzanthium's loyal ally, violated Aquileian sphere of influence in Albania during summer of 1420. Antonio's alliance was dominant in Italy and Eastern Medditerainnean and could take care of Constantinopole in no time. Without Otto, Testi and Cami Archbishop felt helpless. New advisors were educated and smart, but no match to Ottobuono Sopransi's direct nature or Camillo Melzi's decision making. Antonio was feeling old, for 25 years he is Archbishop of Aquileia and has just turned 60. With all of his friends dead he was sure his time has come.

And he spent most of his time alone, reading on balcony of palace or in his room on second floor. Calm autumn evening in Friuli was interrupted with several cavaliers heading for palace in full speed. Even Antonio stood up from his old chair as he put down "Le Livre de la Cité des Dames", manuscript he read at the moment. Letter he recieved contained terrifying news:
"Your Grace,
I've just been handed declaration of war signed by Albrecht V von Habsburg. The Austrians are requesting our sacred land and are willing to grab more than just province of Brescia if we decide not to fulfil their ultimatum. Unfortunately, I cannot simply succumb to those demands, as I am King of Milan, and I must protect my people. Therefore, I'm asking you, my loyal friend and ally, to join forces in this defensive words.
Maria Giovanni I Visconti, King of Milan
Lombardia, 19th of September, 1420"

War quickly broke through central Europe and southern parts of HRE. Polish, Lithuanian and Genoese soldiers joined Habsburg agressors and crossed borders in October. Milan, Novgorod, Aquileia and Hungary were under direct hit, and had remote help from people of Morea and Crete.
On October, 4th Austrians have besieged city of Treviso and Antonio was worried. He needed something or Austrians would crawl all over core Aquileian land. Strange thing was that not a single Austrian soldier went into province of Brescia, the one they demanded. It seemed more clear, with casus belli against Milan and sure thing that Aquileia will help out, they went for Gorz and Krein, two golden provinces of Aquileia, with major Austrian people, who are now in danger after latest settlement policies.
Antonio made strategical move to transfer all of his troops to Udine, before 16 thousand Austrian men could arrive from Hungary. And with 4 new regiments, he had 33% improvement. 12 regiments under command of Antonio I attacked 7000 Austrians in Treviso, losing more men, but winning the battle that finished in december.

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Austrians were outnumbered but better equipped in 1420, resulting in lower number of casualties in direct battle

Province after province Antonio chased Austrians finally managing to eliminate all 7 agressor's regiments in Bavaria on February, 10th 1421. Roughly one third of attacking forces just vanished, and rest of them were under high pressured Hungarian counter attack. During spring of 1421 Aquileians made biggest progress, with Poles doing nice job in Hungary.

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Losing seven regiments was big blow for Austria, one from which they couldn't recover during the war

By May province of Gorz was settled with mainly Lombardians. It was nice news for Antonio in this hard times. Month later, joined forces of Crete and Morea won siege in Corsica and in September Aquileian forces took control of Kartnen and Lienz.

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13 months after start of War for Brescia, Austrians offered peace to Aquileians. And despite being in huge disadvantage they had big demands. Archbishop was offended with this peace offer and promised himself that they will pay for everything. Everything was lot clearer in November when last parts of Austrian army dropped their weapons. There was not a single thing to stop Antonio from conquering that magical city of Wien. Other battlefronts saw status quo in one-on-one battles (Milan-Genoa, Hungary-Poland, Novgorod-Lithuania).

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What were they thinking with this offer?

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Albrecht IV lost battle of Wien and all of his remaining forces

Very happy and satisfied Antonio hold annual meeting in his palace on first day of 1422. His magnificent army broke into cities of Tirol and Graz and has laid siege on all of remaining Austrian cities, including their capital, Wien. Austrians wanted white peace now, but neither he, nor clergy, nobility or advisors, would let Habsburgs get out without consequences. For first time inflation rate went single digit and Antonio needed to make some changes. Giovanni Savoldi, master of mint from Gorz, was hired as secretary of economy replacing Timeteo Franchi. More reforms were about to be announced.

And in February, Hungary went out of war with white peace after taking heavy losses in their attempt to conquer some border provinces in Poland. Three days later, Europe was in shock as city of Wien surrendered to Archbishop Antonio I and Aquilean forces. End of Austria was coming quick and fast.
"Who would say it, 25 years ago, that we would walk around these beautiful streets as conquerors. It's truly magnificent feeling.", Antonio was feeling invincible following his 27 years anniversary of being appointed as Archbishop of Aquileia. He has managed to expand in central Italy and now has whole Austria under control.
He decided to settle in Wien for time being, at least until war ends. He wouldn't know it would be so short trip to Austrian capital. On March, 10th he recieved bad news from Novgorod, who were leaders of coalition in defensive war against Austria. Muscowy has attacked them without notice. They cannot survive two wars.

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Situation on battlefield, dated March, 10th 1422

Following morning Antonio I signed peace treaty with Albert IV, taking province of Tirol away from Austrians, and then at the very same moment awarding local Gorz bishop Ferdinand as Ferdinand I, Bishop of Tirol, who became Aquileian's vassals.

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Aquileians didn't earn much from war victory because of Muscowy-Novgorod war

After all, war ended good, with expansion of Aquileian sphere of influence as well as crippling big nation such as Austria in defensive war. Month after month side went out of conflict signing truces before war finally ended on June, 17th with Austrians breaking ties with Teutonic Order, Poland and Alsace.
 
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1.6. Changing of the guards (1422-1428)

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In period between 1422 and 1426, one of rare quiet periods in early 15th century, Aquileia experienced economical improvements and stagnation of inflation rate. Giovanni Savoldi was reformer, just like Camillo Melzi, and has managed to improve infrastructure throughout the nation and it resulted in production increase, as well as more annual tax income. Lodovico Mancini was secretary of foreign affairs for years and has done fantastic job in diplomatic field, concerning how high national infamy was since Urbinese war.

Antonio, however, lost his ally, Pope Benificio VIII on May, 9th. As Archbishop said on numerous occasions, after Pope's death he was last one standing from "Change of centuries" generation. He had no more loyal friends and was ready to meet the God. During 1425 and 1426 he spent most of his free time preparing things for his successor.

Illness has tied him to bed, he couldn't ride any more and had limited range of movement. On August, 1st newly elected Pope Leo X visited palace in Udine, meeting Antonio for first time as head of state. They knew each other rather well, but they never clicked. Nevertheless, they had huge amount of topics to discuss and Pope stayed in palace for three nights, enjoying in Aquileian hospitality and broad intellect of Archbishop.
"But, Benificio always said he didn't want war with Orthodox rulers.", Antonio tried once more to explain Leo wishes of previous Pope. "And with Byzanths on our side, we have cushion to Ottomans and rest of non-believers."
"But still, they have aspirations to reclaim Morea, Crete and Knights.", Leo defended his decision to provoke war on east.
"They wouldn't dare to. And if they provoke revolutions I am more than ready to neutralize them with our army. Ottomans with their vassalisation of Serbia and Bosnia as well as nomad horde coming from Ukraine, those are Christian problems at the moment."
But their talk was interrupted with Milanese call to arms. They were at war with Savoy and England and once again needed help from Archbishop. Due to his illness Antonio couldn't lead troops, but he made grand strategy and made 4 armies of 5 regiments each. 1st and 2nd army were supposed to force Savoyards out of Milan, 3rd army should besiege Nice, cutting enemies from sea and English help, while 4th army would protect provinces of Pisa and Siena from English amphibious attack.

More than six months later, on February, 13th 1427, Antonio I Caetani died aged 67, 32 years after being announced as Aquileia's Archbishop. People were in grief and flags were half-masted in Aquileia, Papal States, Milan, Tuscany, Tirol, Crete and Morea. Later known as father of modern Aquileia, Antonio was popular figure throughout the Europe, despite being involved in number of wars, both offensive and defensive.

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Niccolo II was Antonio's choice, but he wasn't experienced in war or diplomacy

Two days later Pope Leo X executed Antonio's dying wish naming Niccolo II della Torre, bishop of Treviso, as Antonio's successor. Niccolo became fifth member of Della Torre family being placed as Patriarch/Archbishop of Aquileia, after Raimondo (1273-1299), Cassono (1316-1318), Pagano (1319-1332) and Lodovico (1359-1365). Della Torre were an Italian noble family who rose to prominence in Lombardy during the 12th-14th centuries, until they held the seigniory of Milan before being ousted by the Visconti. He, however, became member of Aquileian council in 1417 and quickly rose to one of Antonio's favourites. Niccolo was administrative genius, but very limited in diplomatic and military sphere where he needed every help he could get.

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Raimondo della Torre and family sign on Aquileian denaro (coin) back in 13th century

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Della Torre family coat of arms

First thing he had to do after taking position of Aquileia's Archbishop was to read Antonio's letter, consisting of 68 pages, with state of nation and personal goals included.
"...and my goal is to create Italian nation. All my work was meant to unite people of Italy and should be done sooner than later. Provinces of Siena and Ancona are under our control, but to raise Italian flag one should have cores on Friuli, Lombardia, Firenze, Siena, Ancona and Rome. I beg you not to dismiss my dying wish and in case you don't succeed pass it to next Archbishop..."

Next week he swapped Lodovico Mancini with his friend Ottaviano Sforza as secretary of foreign affairs. Ottaviano went to university of Parma together with him and was working in Milan's administration until succession of Pisa. He was one of the most skilled diplomats in Italy and was delighted to accept invitation from an old friend.

Niccolo inherited stable economy, infamous, but still prestigious, diplomacy and war against Savoy-England coalition. Yet, he inherited fantastic starting position, as Aquileians pushed Savoyards back into their borders. He only thought about English navy as problem, but would learn, very fast, that he sinked their fleet in March. Once a power nation was cut to 30% of British isles, with just 10 thousand soldiers and without any fleet. War was under control and Niccolo could spend his free time playing cards rather than brainstorming about unwanted wars.

England wanted out in July, offering white peace to Aquileia, but Niccolo couldn't let down ally and declined it without thinking about that offer for a second. By August province of Savoi was under control and on November, 14th all of enemies provinces were controlled by Milan-Aquileia coalition. Lombardese soldier held to their capital, while our mighty troops, helped by Morea and Crete, held three remaining provinces.

Niccolo felt like backstabbed after Savoy accepted white peace with Milan, going out from war by paying 48 ducats. He couldn't believe Milan would do things like that to him. It wasn't first time in history that they were backstabbers. He could easily remember Aquileian war against Venice or his family history. But at the same time he felt like he needs them to balance power in central Europe. Knowing their nature, if they were not in alliance, they would become enemies. It's that easy. And that's why he declined English white peace offer. Guards in palace could hear him saying: "We won't end this war, Milan will!"

It was slow war after November, and Aquileia defended it's coastal provinces with 2 armies with 5 regiments each and whole fleet which consisted of 6 galleys and 4 cogs. In March England had 2 transport ships, and they were quickly sunk near Parma, together with 2000 soldiers on board. And while Archbishop thought war was over and wouldn't reach coast any more, Milan was stubborn with their peace negotiations. They wanted money reparation from England, who didn't want to give it, and it left war at status quo until July, 20th when Kingdom of Napoli entered the war.

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Noone expected Naepolitans to enter English-Milanese war, but they did it on July, 20th 1428
 
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2.1. Making the name (1428-1435)

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“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.” - Plato

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Despite Naples intensified what was quiet war, Niccolo was calm. With 12 thousand man going for Ancona and 4 more in Siena as backup he had much better position. Napolitan army was split into two groups, with 6000 men in Naples and rest in Greece, fighting against rebels. Late in August he ordered offensive and half of troops besieged Abruzzi and were attacked on September, 12th. As they already trenched outside of Abruzzi fort, Aquileian forces had defensive advantage and outnumbered enemy in 4:3 ratio. Rest of army reached Napoli which was besieged six days later. Battle of Abruzzi ended in October resulting in enemy's army being cut in half. Soon, army from Crete landed in Calabria and 1000 Englishmen in Pisa. By the end of 1428 all field battles were won by Aquileian war coalition who had sieges in all Napolitan provinces. Second key battle happened on first day of 1429 in Calabria when 10000 Aquileians attacked retreating Army of Abruzzo lead by Ladislao I Durazzo, King of Naples. Seven days later, Ladislao conceded battle defeat.

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Ladislao waved with white flag making war even more easier for Aquileians

Archbishop's main issue was Milan and their laid back policy. For two years their army didn't participate in any battles, and since start of war they engaged in just two battles and besieged one town. And while Aquileians were doing all the dirty work, they couldn't even sign white peace treaty, which was offered to them on several occasions by England.

Small fleet from Crete was ambushed near African coast in March, but it wasn't for nothing, as that opened sealanes for Aquileia to transport small army to Greece and siege of Janina was laid in late April. Month after month Naples' provinces fell into Niccolo's hands and in October Milan signed peace treaty with Naples, but not with England. That was the last straw for Archbishop Niccolo II, who accepted peace with England five days later.

Now, he could deal with internal affairs and improvement of the nation. However, during next three years he had to deal with three big revolts, in Friuli, Pisa and Ancona. Reforms in goverment and economy made several groups unhappy, including peasants and nobility, together with Umbrian people who fought for independence.

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Istria was culturally assimilated in April 1450

1433 started with big war. Austrians decided to retake province of Tirol and declared war on Bishop Ferdinand I, Niccolo's friend and leader of vassal nation, on January, 30th. Army needed big and fast restructuring which finished by the end of March. Niccolo also promoted Salvatore Carafa, one of the bravest commanders in war against Napoli, to the rank of supreme general and secretary of defence. Austrians however went for Archbishop's palace and Aquileian capital instead of Tirol with all their strenght. Savoy and Genoa got into Milan and most of Europe thought that offensive armies are in way better position.

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Habsburg wanted to take back province they lost 11 years before

Niccolo was forced to move to summer residency in Romagna and requested from Salvatore to regularily send news about situation in battlefield. On April, 2nd he recieved detailed map of Northern Italy and Austria together with numbers showing number of soldiers each side possesses, based on reports from spies and friends in neighbouring countries. And it was fair and even fight, but Aquileian war coalition had 9000 men more in reserve.

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War position as known by Salvatore Carafa on April, 1st 1433

And while Carafa was masterminding the defensive war, Niccolo was involved in diplomacy more than ever. He even managed to get monsineur Borromeo to the Holy See in June as Cardinal from Romagna, Aquileian third Cardinal. During that summer Hungary called for crusade on Ottomans and Castille laid claim on throne of England. News from battlefield were good and positive. In August, Austrian province of Lienz was under Aquileian control and in October Tirol won siege of Trent and Aquileian main forces laid siege on Wien, Habsburg's capital. Opponents did have their share of wins, as Verona and Lombardia fell into their hands. Another great war started late in 1433 when Bohemia declared war on Hungary, and in few days almost all central European countries were involved, including mighty Castille.

Late in January defensive joined forces conquered Corsica and Wien, and stage was set for big battle to happen. It lasted for 20 days in province of Gorz. 15000 Aquileians attacked mightier Habsburg army and despite heavy losses managed to cut Austrian army in two forcing them to retreat. During next 30 days those two armies were chasing through Austria. Friedrich V von Habsburg surrendered together with 10000 men in Steirmark, opening way not only for conquest of Austria, but to move troops to west and battle against Savoy and Genoa.

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Battle of Gorz was beginning of the end for Austrians in their aggresive war

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One month later Austrian king conceded the defeat and his army surrendered to Salvatore Carafa

Peace offers started to come to Romagna one after the another, but at this point it was sure no force can stop Aquileia from total win in this war. In August crucial battle was won in Parma against Genoese troops and Carafa used his now trademark style of chasing down the enemy and then forcing him to surrender rather than anihilating in long fight. His reputation went sky high in first 18 months of war. Savoy's leader Ludovico I di Savoia however crippled Aquileian army which wasn't lead by Carafa in battle of Piedmont. And once again Niccolo felt betrayed. 12000 Milanese soldiers didn't fight in war at all, but would rather satisfy with hit and run siege strategy. Their 12000 soldiers were just two days away from Piedmont and didn't lend help. He was thinking: "How dare they to call themselves our allies?"

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First major defeat in war was inflicted by Savoy's main army

However, Niccolo returned to his palace in Friuli that autumn as war was ragining and still in place only west of Lombardia and Parma. By the end of 1434 Cardinal Borromeo died with lung infection and Ferdinand I, Romanorum Imperators, conducted Reichsreform. Year finished with Genoa signing peace treaty as they released island of Corsica as sovereign nation and paying 50 gold ducats as war reparation damage.

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Niccolo II voted for reforms in HRE

It took another 6 months of military actions to ensure positive ending of war for Archbishopy of Aquileia. Mantua became Niccolo's vassal state and Austrians had to cede five provinces, Bishop of Tirol received Trent, while rest was grouped into new sovereign nation, Archbishopy of Styria. It was signed by Friedrich V and Niccolo II in Archbishop's summerhouse in Romagna on July, 14th 1435, being named "Romagna Holy Peace Treaty". One of power nations was downgraded to average European state in two wars against former small clergy nation.

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Famous Romagna holy peace treaty saw Austria losing half of it's territory

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Map of central, south and southeastern Europe on August, 1st 1435
 
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2.2. Showing muscles (1435-1440)

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The peace didn't last for so long. Just as Romagna holy peace was signed Archbishop Niccolo II decided to expand his influence even more and acquire some new territories, or at least some new vassals. Ottaviano Sforza, secretary of foreign affairs and Archbishop's dearest friend, wasn't pleased with that idea as it would make Aquileia even more infamous. After several days of intensive meetings in summer house compromise was made. Tuscany was offered to become vassal state of Aquileia. They were passive in wars throughout the years and should have paid price for it, as Niccolo said. Yet, they declined giving Aquileia casus belli to attack. Preparation for war was quickly made, soldiers had just several weeks of leave and on September, 1st it all started with Aquileian main army with 12000 men leaving fort of Romagna for Tuscan-Aquileian border.

On the very same evening Archbishop recieved note from Hungary, once powerful nation, now weakened with long lasting war against Bohemia. They decided to protect Tuscany and therefore declared war on Aquileia. With no real intelligence information about Hungarian strenght Niccolo could only guess the numbers. He ordered his remaining 14000 soldiers to march into Krain and Istria and defend the border as neccessary. The big battle in Firenze was fought for six days. Salvatore Carafa defeated the enemy, laid siege and could now leave for eastern borders and take command of possible offensive on Hungary. He also ordered that 6000 peasants drop their weapons and go home. He didn't need them as Castilla entered war on Bohemian side landing more than 10000 men in Dalmatia.

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Once again Aquileia showed strenght

"Your Grace, we have just found out that Hungarians don't have active army, we can easily take their provinces. I need confirmation for offensive actions.", Salvatore Carafa asked Archbishop in December 1435.
"And what about Castille? I was thinking not to attack Hungarians, we don't want them as our enemies in the future."
"Castille is roaming around Hungary, and their only goal is to fear the population."
"When will siege of Firenze end?"
"Not before end of summer. They are tough, hanging in and hoping that Hungarians will come and help."
"How many regiments we have on borderline?"
"Eighteen, including three cavalry noble units. We can divide them into three armies, each consisting of three double regiments, and that would make sieging much easier."
"You've planned it all out, Salvi, didn't you?"
"Of course I had. That's why you placed me as secretary of military and defense."
"Do as you wish. But be careful and visit Ottaviano, see what Castillans have to say about whole situation. We don't want to insult them with our actions."
"As you command, Your Grace."

On December, 28th offensive operation "Eastern friends" started. It was fast and effective. However, events in February were worrying for Archbishop. Naples attacked Epirus and Milan kicked in to save Greeks. It would be matter of days before Venice join as Naples' ally taking several of friends in with them. He had to follow situation closely and react if needed. Good news for Christian world was that Golden Horde forced Ottomans to release Bosnia and Serbia from vassalage.

In April Venice, Switzerland and Salzburg answered to Napolitan call to arms. Visconti dynasty didn't ask for help and Niccolo didn't feel like the one who should help them on his own, after all these times they just laid back and enjoyed while Aquileian soldiers died for freedom of Milan. One after another Hungarian cities fell into hands of Salvatore Carafa and by May Aquileia controlled Sopron, Somogy, Osijek, Szolnok and was just months away from controlling all provinces.

"Nico, Hungarians want out of the war and are offering 7 ducats as war reparation.", Ottaviano Sforza was only one who could call Archbishop by his nickname. On May, 11th he reached palace in Friuli with peace offer.
"What? Seven? Or seven hundred?", Niccolo laughed.
"Seven, where could they collect seven hundred gold ducats? They are not so powerful any more. That's all they can offer, as you said to them that you want take any provinces."
"No, it isn't. They can release Croatia. Arrange everything for that to happen."

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Another war and another overall win for Aquileia

And it happened on May, 30th as Archbishopy of Croatia was formed. Once powerful, Hungarians were cut and weren't threat on Adriatic sea anymore. Niccolo got new ally and cushion between Aquileia and Hungary, as well as problematic Balkans. Defenders of Firenze surrendered late in October, enabling much wanted vassalisation of Tuscany. Niccolo expanded not only his influence, but also his income in gold as he collected 50% from his vassal states to fund Universities in Romagna, Pisa and Siena. However, Archbishopy of Aquileia stayed in peace for just under 48 hours. Milan was under heavy pressure and attack from Switzerland and Venice who had 21000 man combined and were in control of 3 Milanese provinces as well as sieging another two. Despite everything, Niccolo felt he was obligated to help allies and declared war on last day of October, but under one condition. He will fight separate war against agressors on Milan and will be able to negotiate peace conditions rather than being left in hands of Milanese King. All of Aquileian allies responded to call to arms, and Venetian coaltion had to deal with combined forces of Aquileia, Papal States, Croatia, Morea, Crete, Styria, Mantua, Corsica, Montenegro and Tirol.

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Despite their defensive best efforts Tuscany became Aquileian vassal on October, 28th 1436

Salvatore Carafa was in charge of military operations, as always, and he decided not to go all out attack on Venetians. He would rather start small with small sieges and coordinated defense. Nothing special happened on battlefield in next two months, but Switzerland backed out of war with Milan, but not Aquileia, and Epirus, who was no real threat to neither Aquileia or Milan, and therefore haven't been involved in Aquileian war, annexed Epirus. With Naples out of the picture Carafa started planning big offensive on Venice, which started on January, 11th next year. Small Cretean army landed on Corfu, while Papal States and Corsica besieged city of Venezia. Carafa's army however attacked Venetian main army, lead by doge Carlo Chiogga, with all its strenght in Mantua. After initial win with small casualties Venetians were pinned won in Verona and surrendered on February, 20th. They were out of the war picture and sieges in Milan were placed to take back provinces temporarily controlled by aggressors. Papal States took control of Venice in March, followed by takings of Cremona, Corfu, Parma, Bern and Chur by the end of the year.

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Doge Carlo Chiogga was unable to prevent Aquileians from taking control in war

1438 was year of peace treaties, with Switzerland and Naxos conceding defeats, King of Milan retreating from war, as well as Croatians and Corsicans. War finally ended in december, Corfu became part of Aquileia by the will of it's citizens, while Salzburg and Venice were annexed by Styria and Papal States respectively.

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Swiss had no other option but to sign peace treaty without real cost

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Defection of Corfu left Venice with just city of Venezia in possesion, but not control

But Archbishop Niccolo II would go against himself if he didn't engage in another war after just two months of peace. Early in 1439 he declared "War of Styrian subjugation" after their Archbishop declined peaceful offer of vassalisation. Once again Milanese true nature was shown as they backed out and refused to participate, leaving mighty "Holy alliance". Austria and Switzerland decided to help Styria and declared war on Aquileia and friends.

It was late winter and with war going on near capital of Aquielia, Niccolo decided to move to his summer residence in Romagna. He didn't do much of politics or minor decision making as he had 3 advisors and one general as secretaries. They were in charge of economy, internal and foreign affairs, army, education and technology. He however enjoyed and prayed. He prayed every day, five times at least, and didn't want to be interrupted, no matter how important news or subjects of discussion are. And he prayed in the morning of April, 15th.
"I'm sorry Your Grace...", master of estate, Giacomo Bianchi, interrupted him.
"Giacomo, I always told you..."
"I'm so sorry, it's of urgent matter."
"What it is so important?"
"I have several bad news. First, Naples entered war. They will help Styria."
"That's a pity, Salvi will have to take them down as well."
"Salvatore Carafa. It is our second problem, Your Grace."
"How can Salvi be a problem?"
"He was found dead yesterday in his battlefield headquarters. It seems..."
Archbishop was shaken and couldn't believe what he is hearing. "How come Salvi is dead? He can't be dead. I can't believe it."
"He is, Your Grace. And as I was trying to say, it seems he was poisoned."
Niccolo crossed himself and said: "God save your soul, Salvi, I will pray for it. Giacomo, you can leave now."

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After Archbishop Antonio I, Salvatore Carafa was second real master of military in modern Aquileia. His death shook the nation and timing could not be worse...

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...because Napolitans joined war on Styria's side making another, southern, battlefront

Niccolo had no other option but to take charge of military operations, and established his HQ in Romagna. But, Aquileian army was so powerful it could win a war with child in charge. One after another Austrian and Styrian provinces fell in coalition hands, but real problem was in south, where Naples had open space to move in and they reached Rome in July, on very same day Switzerland signed yet another peace treaty with Aquileia. It seemed like Swiss had to make irrelevant peace with Aquileia every now and then. In October, Creteans broke into Janina, Aquileian army finally and successfully ended siege of Vienna and it completed control of Austrian territory excluding one small province northwest of Switzerland. On October, 27th Austrians were forced to concede third defeat to Aquileia as they renounced claims on provinces in Styria and Tirol.

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House of Habsburgs was without any hint how to compete with not so long ago small Aquileia, after signing third concede of defeat less than 20 years after first battles between two nations occured.

After dealing with Swiss and Austrians, and after sieging two remaining Styrian provinces Niccolo moved his troops to south and ordered operation "Reclaim of Rome" which started on March, 18th 1440. Heavily outnumbering and encircling Napolitans it didn't take long for Aquileian three armies to defeat the enemy who dropped their weapons in Siena one month later.

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Battle of Siena was another example of Aquileian military strategy which included attacking the enemy, chasing and finally forcing to surrender due to low morale

And in May, after successfull siege of Kartnen, peace with Styria was made which was followed by peace with Naples. Another war ended and once again it was highly successfull. Niccolo II was as competent as Antonio I and he showed it battle after battle, year after year, war after war. Aquileia was deemed for bright future.

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Styrians didn't learn anything from Tuscan example and had to fight to realise one minor nation cannot say no to Aquileia

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Naples paid high price for their involvement in war
 
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Enewald

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Maybe time to get Venice, if someone else takes it the cost to demand it in a peace will be damn high.

Also how well are you burning all this infamy?
 

CoyoteBeast

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Also how well are you burning all this infamy?
Infamy is the greatest problem and I had to juggle along. Since I was participant in defensive war against rebels in Pisa, annexation didn't cost anything, but I got penalized for two unlawful provinces of HRE (+0.5 infamy/year) and it slowed down infamy reduction by roughly two thirds. On the plus side, I got two fantastic missions of enforcing vassalage on Tuscany and Styria, infamy free plus 2 points reduction per each mission. Maximum BB I had was 23.6. And good diplomat as advisor is always nice thing to have while conquering.

Maybe time to get Venice, if someone else takes it the cost to demand it in a peace will be damn high.
Because of infamy limit I couldn't do it in last war and Papal States annexed them, but they are part of further conquests as I have goal of forming Italian nation.

Edit: Just edited previous update, didn't see I wrote that Venice got annexed by Venice :)
 

CoyoteBeast

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2.3. Brave men (1441-1451)

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Archbishop spent rest of 1440 travelling through region, visiting neighbours, allies and all provinces under Aquileian flag. Annual meeting was held in Udine on first day of 1441 and among other topics one was very specific, island of Corfu.
"I want to hear your opinion about Corfu isle. How valuable it is to us?", Niccolo asked the crowd. "Giovanni, you are secretary of economy. Is Corfu valuable and profitable?"
Giovanni Savoldi had his answer ready for quite some time: "It's small island, lowly populated and we haven't inherited any buildings with financial benefit. And speaking about Corfu population, they are Orthodox Greeks, not one of our kind. We should invest gold in it to make it profitable, for time being we lose more than we earn."
"How much gold? Are speaking in terms of few ducats or?"
"Two or three yearly profits. Excluding missionary costs if we try to convert Corfu heretics."
"So, decision to integrate them into our nation was wrong one, speaking from this point of view. Alright. What about strategic position of the isle?"
"Your Grace, if you don't mind." University of Siena's professor Leonardo di Carde kicked in discussion. "It's position is strategically crucial for Adriatic sea. With possession of Corfu one can easily control straits of Otranto as entrance to Adriatic sea together with Naples on the other side.", He was geography professor and had lot of field experience as he spent almost a decade travelling around Greece and eastern Adriatic shore.
"That's true. I've visited Corfu few months ago and one could only admire at sight. And sea is so clear and mystically blue. You can actually see Apulia when weather is right. But at this point we are in no need to control entrance to Adriatic sea. We are in friendly relations with everyone but Ferrara and Naples.", Niccolo started his monologue. "And I've also spoke to the people and realised they don't want independence, they are in favour of rejoining those eastern Romans, Byzanthines. Also, some of Aquileian people that moved there after we acquired the island told me Orthodox are very fanatic about rejoining, often rebelling and trying to convert them would be painful process which could spur hard and long fight against people loyal to Roman crown. Ottaviano!"
"Yes, Your Grace", Ottaviano Sforza, secretary of foreign affairs, was formal when talking to Archbishop, his long time friend, in front of crowd.
"Try to connect with Byzanthine diplomats and offer Corfu to them."
Niccolo's decision ignited the room and everyone present, nobility in particular, who have been promised new lands in conquered provinces. One of the oldest spoke for all of them: "Your Grace, you promised us we will recieve land as gift. You told us we can expand, someone of us even move to new territories. And we did our part of the deal, we have accepted to finance those damn universities, we have accepted to pay more taxes, we have been removed from goverment and now you want to sell our land?"
"More or less. I'm sorry, but that's the current situation. We will expand, but Corfu is not meant for us. The price to pay is just above all limits. And people of Corfu were so nice, accepted us as rulers of the islands without a word, without a single demand. I, however, cannot spill blood of innocent and cannot convert heretics with sword if they are loyal. We can sell them, Byzanths will probably accept and we will have one problem less.", Niccolo was fair man despite all those stories in Europe that stated he is blood-driven leader hiding under name of God. "Ottaviano, sell Corfu to Romans. Get whatever you can, if they don't have gold tell them they can pay later."

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Fortress of Corfu, sketched by Niccolo II in 1440, was sold together with rest of the island to Byzanthines for 40 gold ducats

In August 1441 Aquileia was awarded with influence in the Holy See as Franchi was elected as cardinal of Ancona. He would remain there for 7 year before dying as last Aquileian cardinal. Life was going steady in Aquileia with no rebellions or wars during early 1440s. Archbishop tried to create powerful nation out of Aquileia and during peace all surplus of money was invested in buildings with strategic benefits such are docks, constables and workshops as well as building new churches throughout the nation. He spent most of his time in Bologna, in Palazzo Re Enzo, and visited palace in Udine on just several occasions. Udine was still the capital of Aquileia, but Niccolo was fond of Bologna with his summer residence in near vicinity.

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Palazzo del Podestà on which Palazzo Re Enzo was built as extension

The edifice was built around 1200 as the seat of the local podestà, the various functionaries of the commune. It stands on the Piazza Maggiore, near the Palazzo Comunale and facing the Basilica of San Petronio. Proving insufficient for the massive participation of the people in the city's government, it was in 1245 flanked by the Palazzo Re Enzo, over which stands the Torre dell'Arengo, whose bell was used to call the people during emergencies. The Palazzo del Podestà is a long building, with a large hall on the upper floor. The lower floor is a double open arcade, the so-called Voltone del Podestà, through which pass two lanes of shops. Pope Beneficio VIII wasn't interested in the building, neither was Antonio I of Aquileia. It remained being local govermental building until 1440 and Niccolo II trip around the region.

In 1444 Bonfiacio Adelasio from Pola, Istria was appointed as new treasurer, vice secretary of economy and Archbishop's advisor after death of Leopoldo Luserna Bigliori who spent 25 years serving both Antonio and Niccolo.

On 21st of October 1446 Savoy attacked Sardinia without a valid reason and by end of the month lot of nations got involved in war. Savoy was joined by England and Aragon, while Papal States took command in defensive alliance with Switzerland, Genoa, Naples and even Castille in. And as soon as he entered the war Pope called for help and Niccolo was quick to respond. Aquileia was local powerhouse at this moment with strong economy and military and was handed the lead in war. In March Aragon and England opted out of the conflict leaving Savoy all alone in their aggressive war than soon became battle for life against much powerful enemies. They couldn't fight Aquileia, let alone alliance which included mighty Castille and neighbouring solid Switzerland and Genoa. After few battles and sieges on Savoyard forts in August truce was signed in Milan with not much harm done to attackers, as they only had to cancel several treaties with other nations.

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Battle of Liguria, that was fought in April, showed Savoyard inability to handle defensive alliance

Ten days after "Truce of Milan" another very important event happened for Aquileia. Tuscany was diploannexed with people of Firenze accepting Archbishop as spiritual, military and govermental leader. It was ordered for three days of festivites in all cities as celebration of expansion. Nobility, however, didn't get any land in Firenze and weren't amused with Archbishop's neglection of their demands.

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Antonio's dying wish to control five crucial Italian cities was halfway through with integration of Firenze into Aquileia

Festivites ended after four days and were soon to be replaced with another call to arms, this time from Croatian friends who were under Hungarian attack in September. And Niccolo didn't need to hear call to arms twice. He was rushing to help immediately and order was made for all troops to penetrate Hungarian territory. Six months later sieges of Pecs and Sopron were won, and after additional two month Presburg and Moravia were also under control of Aquileian army. Bavaria entered war in April, but was unable to win single battle despite their 20000 men concentrated in single army and were soon to be defeated by combined Aquileian, Styrian and Tirol forces. Hungarian allies in Albania were crushed by Papal States and in mid July two separate peace treaties were signed. Albania was converted from Orthodox to true faith, while Hungary had to renounce their claims on Croatian territory. Aquileian army was invincible yet again fueling Niccolo's ego and ideas of Mediterranean supremacy.

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Mediterranean as unstable as it was would produce another war as soon as previous has finished. In September Sicily and Naples fought over title of Kingdom of Two Sicilies. Sicily however, had loyal ally in Castille, a friend with over 40 thousand men under arms.

Year later Milan started their reconquest of Modena, who were allied with Ferrara, Austria and crippled Naples. It was a chance Aquileian Archbishop couldn't miss as he wanted to vassalise Ferrara for long time. One thing he didn't pay attention to was Pope's betrayal who decided to defend Ferrara and entered defensive coalition with them, Modena, Austria, Meissen and Savoy. It was stab in the back for Niccolo and a fact he couldn't understand for the rest of his life. Early war didn't offer single clash in fields and first real battle was fought not on land, but at the sea. Fleet of 12 Aquileian ships intercepted 7 Ferrara ships and with little help from a friend, Croatian navy, sunk them on March, 2nd 1450.

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End of naval battle in Adriatic sea with ships from Ferrara sinking and winning fleet going for ports

In mid March Niccolo requested for detailed recon on battlefront. And he was pleased with situation. Sieges in Roma, Venezia, Modena and Ferrara were laid by Aquileians, while Tirol, Styria and Croatia sent their armies to Austria. Main Habsburg army which counted 14000 men was located in Styria and same number of Aquileians was placed in Friuli waiting for further notice. Reserve army was in Abruzzi, half of main army's strenght, waiting to see what will Napolitan-Sicilian war offer and to take care of possible revolts if neccessary. Month later Kingdom of Naples vanished under joint forces of Castille and Sicily, forcing them into acceptation of defeat and annexation. Sicily was new mighty force and it now bordered Aquileia.

Strange disease was rampaging in Northern Italy, cutting the armies besieging Ferrara and Modena in half, but wouldn't be noted in history if it wasn't of Niccolo's illness. It was quick and it was painful, Niccolo retreated to his room in Palazzo Re Enzo and after one week, on May, 10th 1450 he named Ottaviano Sforza as man in charge of leading the nation. But Ottaviano was diplomat, not a military leader and he recruited his friend, former Milanese general, Gaetano Sfondrati as secretary of military affairs. House of Sfondrati was noble Milanese family and family members were included in all aspects of life, from goverment, diplomacy and army to clergy. In fact his brother Lorenzo was Cardinal of Brescia in the Holy See.

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Experienced leader, veteran Gaetano Sfondrati, was forcefuly retired from Milanese army in 1448 after publicly disagreeing with King

It didn't take long for Gaetano to catch up and after Styrian conquest of Wien early in June he ordered Northern offensive against remaining Austrian forces in Steiermark. Twenty-two regiments attacked Habsburgs, who had 14000 man, from three directions, winning the battle in just 8 days. Austria had no other option but to accept peace and pay small war reparation.

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Positions in Styria and Austria before Northern offensive

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Habsburgs were getting used to sign defeats against Aquileia, this time their king did it on battlefield in Steirmark on June, 29th after losing quick, but massive battle against new Aquileian general

Even Savoyard wanted to get out from war, but with them being leaders of military alliance Ottaviano wouldn't even hear about such proposal. He was instructed by Niccolo, who was still in critical condition, to conquer both Ferrara and Papal States in this war. By the end of 1450 almost whole Savoy was under siege, Ferrara accepted forced vassalisation and cities of Venezia and Rome were conquered. Pope gave up on Venezia in Bologna peace treaty which was signed by Niccolo who was now feeling better, but still couldn't move much.

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Pope Leo X should have known better, turning back to Aquileia left him without valuable city of Venezia and control of trade center located in it as well

Milan annexed Ferrara in March as they took opportunity to get in as soon as Aquileian army left province and Archbishop couldn't do much about it. War against Milan would be unnecessary at the moment, concerning how high infamy of Archbishopy was in European diplomatic circles. But he got Modena and Savoy out of the picture with 107 ducats earned from peace and war was over. Once again Aquileians could think about internal affairs rather than fighting enemies. Just as war ended Innocentius VII was elected as new Pope, man who despised both the Archbishop and his war policy.

Late in August Niccolo II, Archbishop of Aquileia, completely recovered from disease. He was the lucky one and his prayers were heard by God. But he was another man, changed one, not interested in wars any more, but more into education, technology and trade. He even distances himself from Catholic world, living by his own rules. Not to be misheard, he was still devoted Catholic, but he lost his faith in Pope and Vatican. That's why he was open to more critical scientific thoughts. And as such he accepted to host several scholars in Palazzo Re Enzo.
"Your Grace, I'm so glad you accepted to meet us.", Leonardo di Carde, geography professor on University of Siena, who was member of annual council and who spoke on the matter of Corfu previously was in lead of delegation.
"Pleasure is all mine signore di Carde, pleasure is all mine. How can I help you?"
"As you already know, Aquileia has four universities and as such we are leaders in the world. After inclusion of Firenze in our network we have been engaged in finding out possible routes to India, trade routes."
"That's great. And I assume you have found new ways, rather than going through islamic lands in middle east?"
"We have theories. They are not foul proof, but are very scientific ones. And what we've found out from our friends in Portuguese university we have combined with our own research. There are two ways, two possibilites."
"I'm all ears Leonardo.", Niccolo was excited about proposal.
"First one is around Africa, but it is much longer than by sailing west, through Atlantic."

Meeting lasted for three days, which was highly unusual. Despite getting fatigued fast, Archbishop soaked up every word that member of delegation have spoken. And he was convinced. With control of Venetian trade center this could be massive discovery, and is worth a shot. On September, 1st everything was ready for operation "New Indian trade routes" and 10 days later large number of volounteers, scholars and soldiers went aboard Sent Agostino cog. Lead by Leonardo di Carde and general Gaetano Containi they were up for adventure, they were sailing to unknown. People of Aquileia called them "Brave men".
 
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Enewald

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Ah, perhaps you will be able to become the true ruler of Western Christendom after the current bishop of Rome has lost all credibility. ;)

I remember there was some real nice Aquilea AAR a few years ago.