HoI3 AI ExperimentAAR
- Jun 21, 2014
Crusader Kings 2 - The Road of Queens
Prologue : Enter The Warrior Princess
Prologue : Enter The Warrior Princess
History is said to be written by the victors. This is sometimes true. Facts are facts, be they written by the victors or the defeated. Those victors are not always scholars. Sometimes they are great military leaders who have crushed their foes and lifted their banners over the nations they had claimed for their own. Sometimes the holder of the pen were political movements who washed over the land like a flood, destroying and rebuilding all in its wake. Sometimes the writer of history was a dagger in the night or a poisoned goblet. Sometimes they are bitter old men complaining about past wrongs or young men dreaming about bringing about great change. Victory and defeat are both words that mean change. The change is just good or bad depending on what the ripples do to those living in the time period.
India's first RECORDED history could be traced as far back as 3300 BCE, when the Indus Valley Civilization came to being in the north-western part of the Indian sub-continent, which was the first major civilization in South Asia. Yet it was not till the appearance of the Iron Age Vedic Civilization that we started to see what was to become more familiar to us today such as the social stratification of the caste systems and also texts on Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.
Soon Dynasty after Dynasty would appear as true Kingdoms would form, rise up, and fall. Sometimes the Kingdom would continue to exist but their rulers were just replaced. These Kingdoms would sometimes have to deal with bandits, famines, and even outside invaders such as Greeks and Arabs. And here our story begins.
Modern Artist Impression Of The Queen
She and her men came to the Kingdom of Kamarupa on the request of the peasants in late 768 A.D. with the promise of gold. The locales were sick of their current Ruler. The fight was brutal but the ruler, King Balavarman, while a brave man, was not a good fighter, and stepped down to be become the Prince of Kamarupa.
He decided his neck was more important to him than his title. Anyway, she was just a hired sword. Once she left he could easily take over again. He had ruled for 19 years since the death of his father. He would rule again.
But the woman did not leave. Once she had the money, and still had her armed men, she didn't feel the need to go. She changed her name to Arminestra of Dysnomia, declared herself a Buddhist and the NEW Queen of Kamarupa, even while she limped to the throne to sit on it. She was a dark haired Greek with a wound from the fighting still marring her otherwise pretty face. For her to declare herself Queen was shameless but nobody stopped her. They saw something in her eyes. Something...bad.
Most historians today still debate how much of this information is true or how much of it is just falsehoods to slur the first Queen of Kamarupa. Remember, many of the more famous histories of this period were written decades, if not centuries, afterwards. Many by authors who had their own reasons to color the history in a certain way. Their own axes to grind, if you take my meaning.
Yet, we can easily gleam some truth out of the many sources. There are letters, journals, palace records, warehouse inventories, and so on that help support many of the following details I will add to our otherwise, very thin, historical outline. I will endeavor to do my best to create a living picture of the events that created the Kingdom anew and explain, as best I can, how we know what we know.
Now, to say that the nobles were not pleased would be an understatement. And what she did next, if the records are correct, would have been even more upsetting to them and the Prince. She announced, while sitting on the throne still warm from the Ex-King's behind, that from now on only daughters would wear the Crown of the Kingdom.
The people of the court were shocked. From now on Absolute Cognatic Primogeniture would be how inheritance was handled within the NEW Royal Family. As many of the vassals in her Realm were either Hindu OR related to the old Royal Family, this was adding insult to injury.
Picture it. The shocked silence, the glances between the rich nobles as they tried to process what was happening, the nervous shifting of boots on the marble floor, the murmuring of the highborn crowd.
There she sat, this WOMAN, from the West. A female barbarian who sat on the throne of KINGS. Still covered in sweat and dirt from the battle that had ended just a few hours ago. Her sword notched and smeared with the blood of brave warriors. On top of that she had embraced the religion of the lower classes. Yet, they still did nothing. Many had seen or heard about her skill with the sword and they dared not lift a finger against her. Not openly, anyway. Not then.
Why didn’t they kill her right then and there? Why not rush her? Maybe it was the guards? Maybe it was that the gentlemen and ladies were not prepared for battle that day? Or maybe none wanted to die for the former King?
What happened next we know mainly because of the Queen’s own official history and those of her family. Plus we can make some guesses on her state of mind based on the actions she later made.
It is said she dismissed the court and her private guards secured the room. Maybe the new Queen then leaned back and felt the throbbing wound across the bridge of her nose. The local army had some good warriors. Not as good as her men, of course, but still skilled. She would need to see a surgeon or physician soon. Who knows what may happen to her nose if it is not taken care of soon?
Now she would have to take it slow and easy. Many of her NEW vassals outright hated her. She would have to work hard to find those who she could trust to put into power. But power could corrupt. Sometimes a barking dog, when you gave it a bone, would bark louder for more. And sometimes a barking dog could bite.
Greedy men, wishing for power, would not be brought to her side by the promise of more power. Giving drunkards more drinks did not sober them up. She would have to handle her court and her new subjects carefully. Some would want to claim her throne. Some would want to claim her wealth. And some would wish for her hand in marriage. She would need to use many skills - not just her skill with the sword.
"Well, " she said to herself, "I am a woman of many skills." She grinned, showing a perfect set of shiny white teeth that would have made any wolf proud, and enjoyed, for the moment, the peace and calm of her new throne room.
"Also it helps," she whispered to herself, "that I have the coin the commoners paid me.(1)"
Where the lowborn farmers, merchants, and peasants had been able to collect so much gold coins was beyond her. But once added to the treasury it came to a nice sum.
In fact many historians suggest she might have helped herself to more than was promised to her. And her men might have had some sticky fingers also.
She looked at a nearby wall, where some artist long ago had been paid to make a map of the region and had done a pretty good job of it. The image was old and worn but presented a Kingdom that was well protected by the mountains and on the end of one of the greatest trade routes of all time. No doubt many an old Kings had studied it and bragged to members of their court about their rich holdings.(2)
Wealth Came On The Trade Winds
And there was a reason why the Kingdom were so rich. The Silk Road. Well, a maritime part of it linked this part of the Indian sub-continent to the rest of the world. The local provinces exported many types of fabrics, spices, semi-precious stones, dyes, and ivory. Such items as mangos, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon were all in high demand among the Europeans and the Chinese. In return India received glassware, new types of spices and herbs, metals, and ideas. Strange ideas. Wonderful ideas.
The woman who now called herself Queen Arminestra cracked her knuckles and decided it was time to get to work. If she wanted to rule the Kingdom first she would need to build a proper foundation.
"You don't build a house on sand," she said to herself. "And it is about time I settled down in a proper house." She glanced about her throne room and added, "Well, a proper palace."
She leaned forward and became thoughtful. She eyes lost the madness they had shown a few minutes ago to the uncomfortable court. They became deeper and calmer.
"I will need to marry," she whispered. "Somebody I can trust not to stab me in the back. And maybe have some education and some skills to offer."
She looked around the empty room. "And I need to make sure the Council is either full of loyal members or made powerless. I can't rule all by my lonesome."
She sat up and shouted to her guards, "Bring me the Council! NOW! And the court scribes. We have work to do! Bring tables, lamps and some wine. We will be working as long as needed."
What she did next was amazingly swift and many researchers suggest that the following happened over a few weeks and NOT a few days, as many of the earlier accounts suggested.
Her first goal, of course, was to keep the people from trying to kill her next. She needed to build a solid foundation. She realized that military operations, for now, were to be shelved.
Second, she found a husband among the court who only slightly disliked her. Balavarman, a lowborn Buddhist with no relationship to the Royal Family that she could tell, was the next in line for the Throne. She decided to kill two birds with one stone by suggesting their marry. Of course all offspring would be of her line. He agreed and, by going so, she had one less person to worry about. Sadly, the records say he was VERY ugly and has no useful skills. But neither did he has any real faults.
She had the wedding right there and then, among the grumbling nobles, confused scribes, and amused soldiers.
It is said that at the wedding she refused to collect Royal Aid Duty to pay for it. She was trying to regain some of the prestige for marrying such a man of common blood. The guards served the wedding 'guests' cheap wine and trail rations as a wedding feast. Her new husband would, in fact, prove to be useful.
For next she had to reorganize her Council. It was a mess as the Military Position of the Protostrator (as she demanded Greek titles would be used in her presence) was empty and most of the members hated her.
Her husband became Magistros (think Chancellor who primary job is diplomacy) . After his appointment he was also made the Designated Regent. As you can guess, his feelings towards the Queen just grew warmer.
The new Protostrator, Harhapala, was also granted the title of Master of the Hunt after his appointment.
The rest of the Council members were selected for their skills. Many still hated her. The Queen had long term plans to try to bring them about to her way if thinking. Though many historians debate about how much of her actions were planned out or just decided on the spot.
The very next action she carried out, with the new members of her Council freshly appointed and with her guards still armed and ready, was to have them approve increasing the centralization of the Kingdom. Which gave her slightly more authority.
She found out, likely to her great dismay, that many of the lesser titles were still empty. One of which was that the court had no skilled physicians. Not a one! Mounted messengers were sent out right away to search the small Kingdom.
Still, many of the Council pointed out that she held too many titles. Even a Queen was limited to how many holdings she could directly rule over. So after checking the maps, and tax information, she appointed her husband Count of Goalpara.
“Enough for now! The sun has set and I still have important matters to attend to!” said the Queen as she led the embarrassed new King off to her new private chambers.
Of course, nobody believes that she did so much in so little time. Those who understand the slow wheels of politics and court affairs will tell you that it is doubtful she was able to do this in one day or even one week.
Others say that sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. We will never know, most likely. And so, my readers, I put down my pen and close this short opening to what may be a amazing and yet confusingly long tale of a Greek Queen in a Indian Court. How long will she hold onto power? How long will she survive? We will see. We will see!
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Author's End Notes:
1. Did she say this? And would she really say the words I will be putting down in this history? Well, the reports that her knowledge of many languages seem to be backed up by her own writings. She seemed to know some Sanskrit (which was THE languages of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism and the language of high culture), and was also familiar with the Arabic language, the Persian language, and even some common phrases in Turkish! This was very useful, as in some regions of India Arabic had become the language of religion and of the law. But more importantly Persian was the language of the court. Turkish might be spoken in every day life but produced little in important literature. As all these languages have their own rules, their own syntax, it is not too hard to figure out how something was said or delivered. But we also must assume a Greek influence in her earlier exchanges with her vassals and subjects as much of her own writings was in Greek. Seemed that speaking a native language was not as easy as writing in it. This means that many of her public speeches and private discussions with her vassals, army commanders, and Council members may not have been as well polished as those in the upper-class of India were use to. So I assume she would have sounded somewhat rustic to her new subjects. So I can give you a good idea of what she said and how she said it. If she said it at all.
2. This wall map still exists and is a wealth of material and historical details to those who can get access to it. The original artwork, sadly, had long since been retouched and repaired so many times we can only guess at the sight that greeted the Queen when she first looked at it. Yet, all who see it, even in its current state, praise it and the wealth it seemed to project.