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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Kazmir

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Tales of de Bigod Family




Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Hugh de Bigod, the Crusader​
The Crusade, Part 1
The Crusade, Part 2



Prologue:



A horseman was hastily riding through the plains towards the port. He was in a hurry, carrying important message to someone. He was going through the events of the past few days in his mind. The beautiful duchy was in chaos. The old Duke was dead, power claimed by a regent. The said there were no heirs, but what about the Duke’s son? Wasn’t he sent to Jerusalem in the name of God? Suddenly a spray of arrows stopped his pondering and his journey. One hit him in the elbow; another one penetrated his light armour and sank next to his heart. He fell off his horse that ran away in panic.Two men approached the dead horseman. One of them took off his right glove and picked a parcel the rider was carrying. He read the note that came with it and burned it. They soon disappeared into the shadows.
 
Last edited:

Kazmir

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Chapter 1: Hugh de Bigod, the Crusader


Happy Days of the Childhood
Part 1​

I am Hugh de Bigod, son of Roger de Bigod, Duke of Norfolk. This will be my story. I was born in Norwich, anno domini 1186. My father used to tell me it was the happiest day of his life.


My first memories are from when I was 4. I remember a day when we were out with my parents, having lunch on a hill overlooking the construction site of the templar’s house, which my father had given construction rights some months back. There was temporary office for the templars next to the construction. Knights, albeit just a few of them, literally in their shiny armours were following the building process.

I was very energetic as a child. I guess I still am. I was also afraid of dark, but my father knew what to do about it.
One night he took me into the woods with him. It was dark and first I was so afraid I couldn’t move. I just kept telling my father it was late and I was tired, nonetheless, we kept going. After a while I started to feel more natural. We had long conversations, ran around and I started to enjoy it.
We used to do the little journey once a week and it was the highlight of the week for me, as it was one of the few moments when my father was there just for me. During the days he was understandably busy running the duchy and I usually went to bed before he stopped working. But during those special nights we were fooling around, enjoying each other’s company and just having fun. My father seemed to enjoy it too.

***

I remember when the third Crusade started; I was still a young boy then. It was the same year Richard Lionheart was crowned as King of England at the age of 33 and the typhoid spread to Suffolk. Two important looking messengers came to my father while he was having a meeting with the administrators of Suffolk, discussing what to do about the disease.
The men worked for the Pope himself. They told my father about the Crusade on Alexandria and criticized him of not having a diocese Bishop in his court. My father’s answer was, that there were no able men to take the duty of a Bishop and he kindly requested the Pope to send someone to him.
The messengers left and my father dismissed the meeting with his administrators of Suffolk.

***

When I was still 6 years old, my father organized a ball. All the nobility of our realm, as well as numerous Dukes and Counts from England and Normandy, took part. It was a magnificent evening. But I still have a rather negative memory from it.
I remember looking around for my father. On my way to check the room where he met with his court, I saw him having a conversation with his Spymaster, Isabella de St. John.

Isabella, the namesake of my mother, was enchanting lady. She had been proposed by numerous Dukes and Counts near and far, even by the Duke of Flanders, who’s a wealthy noble, but my father had always turned down the marriage proposals. I always though the reason was because she was so good in what she was doing, but now I know the more pressing reason; my father was deeply in love with her.

I saw them in the corridor and hid in the shadows. “Isabella”, my father said with downcast look on his face. “We cannot meet anymore like this, I’m a married man and I respect my wife and the heavenly Lord won’t see our relationship in a good light.” Isabella walked away disappointed, but I knew she would understand. She was a good woman, sweet and understanding. You wouldn’t believe it considering her job. To my knowledge my father never slept with her. He was a chaste man who has dedicated his life to serving the Lord and his people. He had spent some time with her flirting and given her expensive gift. That is at least what I want to believe.

***

When the Bishop, sent by Pope himself, Henry FitzGerald, arrived, I was following another meeting in my fathers hall as part of my education. The man stormed into the room banging the doors and loudly representing himself. I knew from the beginning that this man would bring trouble with him, but I could have never imagined the volume of them. I must admit though, he was a talented man, but from the day one, he and my father didn’t get along with each other at all.
He was always running after different women, was skeptical of everything, unlike my just father. And not the least he was, as my father used to say: “the eyes and ears of the Pope, looking for the smallest guilt in people.”
 
Last edited:

Kazmir

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Happy Days of the Childhood
Part 2​

Richard fell off his horse, the wild boar was charging towards him and he couldn’t see his hunting partner nearby. He was already praying for a swift end, when suddenly arrow flew through the air, piercing the boar’s throat. The big animal fell dead just few metres away from Richard. “You saved me”, he told Roger, Duke of Norfolk, “I knew I shouldn’t have gone hunting alone.” “It was my duty”, Roger replied. Richard answered to this jokingly: “Are you suggesting you would have let me perish hadn’t I been your liege, my friend?” They laughed and decided to head back to the castle while few peasants came to prepare the boar for transportation. There would be a feast tonight in the English court. Important people around Europe were expected to show up.


My father was worried, as I still didn’t have real friends of my own age; I was already 8 at that time. There were no other children in my father’s court and I did always feel a little bit lonely. One day he decided to take me with him to the court of Richard Lionheart to learn some social interaction. It was magnificent. Plenty of food, lots of important nobles were there and I enjoyed the company of other Children. We didn’t actually take part in the feast, but rather observed it from the second floor of the hall. Nonetheless, it was impressing.

***

“Roger, I’d like you to meet a friend of mine”, Richard said. “Let me represent you to Philippe, the King of France.” “I am delighted to meet you”, answered Roger. “I heard you are a man of the Lord”, Philippe pried, “That is good.” “Gentlemen, if you would follow me, I have something to tell you”, Richard requested.

John Lackland Angevin, the Duke of Meath

They went to another, smaller hall where Richard told them about the Duke of Meath, John Lackland Angevin, who he suspected of trying to plot overthrowing Richard from his throne. A messenger, bringing note to Roger, suddenly interrupted the meeting. “Friends, I must sadly return home. My wife is expected to give birth at any moment. He took his son and headed straight back to Norwich.


It was late night when my father was asked into the delivery room. The whole court was excited. I heard crying from inside, but it wasn’t the baby; it was my mother. The baby was stillborn. My mother didn’t take it easy. She was quiet and introvert after that night, spending lot of time with herself.

She started seeing Henry the Bishop. This caused serious tensions between my father and mother. He confronted her about it. They had pretty bad fights. My mother was accusing him that God had punished them because of his relationship with Isabella de St. John and killed their child.
After my mother’s relationship with Henry my father became more selfish and ill tempered. Luckily he never vented his anger on me.

***

At the age of 9 my father decided to start my military education. He appointed his Marshal, Henry de Greystoc as my tutor. He wasn’t much of a tactician but had mastered the art of swordsmanship.
He was also a great teacher, he believed in the combination of rewarding and punishing. As an example he used to train me archery by placing an apple on top of the target doll, telling me if I could hit the apple I could have and eat it. Hitting the doll was good too; it didn’t give me a punishment, but neither a reward. If I managed to miss the doll and the apple, he would hit me lightly and tell me that in a real situation I might be dead now.

We greatly enjoyed each other’s company and soon became good friends. We would go hunting together and he took me to the barracks to meet some of the soldiers. Good times.
 
Last edited:

Deamon

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It's sad that, this one hasn't had a response yet because it is quite good.

Well, atleast I will follow this AAR.
 

Enewald

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Not sleeping with Isabella? :rofl:
NOT!
Great narrative!
 

Kazmir

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Thank you for both of you, I already thought no one was reading this. :)

I hope everyone enjoys it and I am sorry for all the spelling mistakes and typing errors, I'm not a native English speaker, but when I have time I try to go through the previous episodes and fix them as we go.
 

Kazmir

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Happy Days of the Childhood
Part 3​

In 1197 the typhoid epidemic finally ceased in Suffolk. The same year my father took part in the war against the Emirate of Mallorca on Richard’s side and the joint Franco-German forces breached the walls of Alexandria. Rest of Egypt soon followed. On the other hand, Jerusalem and most of the Holy Land was lost for the heathens, ruled now by the Abbasid Caliphate.


But my most memorable experience from that year was when we went down to Suffolk with my father. The fishery had suffered badly due to the epidemic and he wanted to see the range of damage. It was quite bad. Numbers of fishing boats were decaying on the shores and the storage buildings looked like they would collapse by any minute. We saw few fishermen trying to desperately repair their boats to continue practicing their livelihood. My father didn’t hesitate and decided to help them out. Men were hired to renovate the storage rooms and tools and raw materials were brought to the fishermen to help them build new fishing vessels.

***

Next year Richard went to war again, this time against the Duchy of Toscana that had broken free from his German allies. My father didn’t dare to send men for Richard’s help now as he was insulted by Philip, Earl of Lincoln, who claimed to be the rightful heir as the duke of Norfolk. My father demanded compensation, but Richard couldn’t help him as he had enough problems as it was with his vassals due to the numerous wars.


The Bishop FitzGerald had managed to persuade my father to give vast amounts of land to the church. The nobles and peasants didn’t take it too easy and tried to resist, causing some minor conflicts around the Duchy.

***

Years passed and I grew more mature. At the age of 14 my father hired a skilled tactician, Alfred de Fauconberg, to help me master the strategic side of warfare. The man was not like my old tutor Henry. He was strict on discipline and easily punished me for the smallest of mistakes. Yet I respected him and value his teachings greatly, he was a brilliant man.

Same year Henry the Bishop became more impudent; he started demanding more pay and land from my father, threatening with consequences. My father turned his requests down. He had become a real pest.

***

A new crusade was soon declared to liberate Antioch from the heathens from the Turks. But something more important happened, something unexpected; Richard’s friend, Philippe of France, declared war on England. Reason was the pressure from French nobles to reclaim the lost lands of Normandy, Brittany and Aquitaine. The French might have underestimated the English army, as most of France, including Paris, was soon under English occupation, but the war itself would still continue for years to come.
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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Your english is quite satisfying, most of the people inhabiting aarland are not native anglanders.
Priests, behave!
I wonder what kind of reaction would today such a requests cause. :D
 

Teep

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Wow, this is great work. I'm guessing he is going on a crusade once he reaches his majority.
 

unmerged(104889)

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I think that your english is good and the text is easy to read. Very interesting AAR, I will follow. And I have to encourage you because I know how frustrating it is sometimes to write in english if it's not your native languange. Great job, keep going!
 

Kazmir

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@Enewald: Thanks, I guess I'll do fine with my language then. ;)

@Teep: I hope you enjoy it. And about the crusade, I think it is pretty obvious. :)

@Auray: Thanks for the encouragement, although I enjoy writing in English, it is indeed quite frustrating sometimes when you have to go through a dictionary for that one little word you can't figure out.

New update later today.
 

Kazmir

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The Crusade
Part 1​



Henry FitzGerald, Bishop of Norfolk, walked into Roger’s main hall where he was sitting with a surprised look on his face. “Henry, I didn’t expect you to show up, what’s the matter?” “Sire, the Pope is furious of you. Why haven’t you taken part in the crusade?” Henry replied. “You know very well that I cannot spare any men while Richard is at war and his vassals eager to claim his throne. Besides, all my military staff is helping in the war against France.” “Not your old Marshal or your son.” “I cannot send my son, he’s too young.” “He has reached maturity in the eyes of the law and the Pope will not be too happy to be let down. Give him your last men and send him to the Holy Land. He will bring honour to your family.”

It all came out of the blue; one moment I was preparing for a hunt with my tutor, next moment we were in the harbour, loading men on ships, setting sail to Jerusalem.

The journey was strenuous and we lost more men every day. When we were supplementing our supplies at Mallorca, groups of 10 or more deserted every few hours. It looked desperate and I have to admit, I was about to give up but I knew I couldn’t return home yet.


***

We spent – or rather wasted, two months on the sea until we landed in Acre that had been conquered by English crusaders earlier. From them we heard that the armies of Kingdom of Jerusalem were marching towards Jerusalem with French reinforcements. We decided to march towards Tiberias, according to the Englishmen it was held by large number of Mamluks, originally soldiers drawn form the slaves and now a respected military caste. I led my forces onwards knowing of the dangers we might face if we separated from the English main forces. But then again, here death was lurking everywhere.

***

After three days of marching through empty desert we encountered a small infantry regiment of less than two hundred men, many unarmed. Judging from their ragged clothing and looks, they had suffered severe defeat just recently. Had they been honourable Christians I might have had let them go, but you cannot trust a heathen. I ordered my cavalry to surround them and demanded their immediate surrender. They naturally had no choice but to accept, handful of them tried to fight back without success.

This was unfortunate, as I had to employ some of my men to guard the prisoners while we marched onwards in the burning hot sun. But soon we would reach Tiberias, city named after the Roman Emperor.



The commanding officer in Tiberias was observing the crusaders while they were arranging their ranks some distance away from the walls. “Fools”, he commented to his lower ranking officers who were accompanying him, “We have tenfold the men. Let us crush them before the dawn, I will personally lead the cavalry charge.”

***


I had given my men orders to shave our prisoners the evening before the initial battle and exchanged their outfits to those of my men.


***

Omar al-Filistini was charging with his cavalry towards the Christian infantry. Sun had started rising in the horizon, slowly engulfing the bodies and armours of his men. From a short distance to the enemy they noticed the heathens kneeling down and yelling something at them. Some were running away already. The Mamluks cried out chants and prayers while flying through the desert.

Suddenly something hit the Mamluk commander’s mind like a million daggers – the Crusaders were screaming at them in his native tongue, in Arabic. It was too late to turn around now. Before the two groups collided with each other, Hugh ordered his men into charge.
Light and heavy cavalry was charging towards the Mamluks behind the nearby cliffs and well-placed archers that the hills had hidden revealed themselves, showering the surprised defenders with arrows.

The Muslim cavalry was in the middle of a group made up of our prisoners. It was too late for them to prepare a new charge now and thus they tried to position themselves in defensive order. I ordered my friend, Henry de Greystoc who had followed me here, to prepare ladders for the walls while the cavalry and pikemen were fighting the surprised and unorganised Arabs with success. The castle’s defence was left on the shoulders of militiamen and shouldn’t be much of a problem for my well-trained men-at-arms.

The city fell soon, but we had also suffered some losses. Albeit smaller than I had expected, you needed all men you could get in these harsh lands.


At the Castle of Tiberias after the city was captured.​
 

Kazmir

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Enewald: Sadly, yes. :(

demokratickid: Hope you enjoy. ;)

As you've noticed already, my update frequency is low. Next update should be up tomorrow, by latest on Friday.
 

Kazmir

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The Crusade
Part 1​

“Take care of this land while I am gone, my friend”, Hugh told his friend Henry. He took most of the men, leaving behind just a small number of troops to keep order in Tiberias and head to Jaffa. He had heard that the Arabs had recaptured it from the Frenchmen.​

***
The men had had a good rest at Tiberias and the mood was high. After four days of marching we finally saw the lights from the old city of Jaffa in the distance. Knowing that they had large army stationed in the fort, I decided to wait for the French troops from Jerusalem before acting.
***
A messenger arrived in Acre. He seemed to be anxious and in a hurry. He kept inquiring about the armies of Hugh de Bigod, and where they might be located currently. He was forwarded to the recently capture Tiberias.

***
It was a glorious sight to see the French bombard the city with their trebuchets. After two days of siege we decided to storm the fort. It wasn’t easy even with the French backup. We fought for every alley and corner with the heathens. It lasted for the whole day and night, but in the end we were victorious.



The messenger galloped past the ruined gates of Jaffa. Near the inner castle walls he was stopped by French troops. He informed them of his important message to Hugh de Bigod. He was allowed to enter the castle and have his information told.​


The news brought to me was shocking. I couldn’t believe the man at first. But after he showed me parcels signed by the pope himself, I had no choice but to trust his word.

The events surrounding my father’s death were shady. The messenger argued that one day he had been conducting his everyday duties; next morning no one had seen him. The claim that he had died peacefully in his sleep seemed didn’t seem to convince the messenger, he insisted my father was assassinated. But that isn’t something we have to worry about now.

Henry the Bishop claimed that I had fallen in the Holy Land, leaving my father without an heir. Thus, he married my own mother and declared himself as the Archbishop of Norfolk, confiscating the lands for the church. I know the King couldn’t worry much about this – he had enough problems with the rebellious vassals.

I felt hopeless. I didn’t know what to do. I knew I couldn’t just return and claim the throne, no. I am sure he had managed to gather enough support from the local nobles and church even before the alleged coup d’état. I would spend the next week in despair and sorrow.

***

After mourning at the loss of a father and the injustices of life, I rode off to Jerusalem, leaving my men in Jaffa. I pledged vassalage to the Queen of Jerusalem as count of Tiberias and Acre. Knowing my excellence in military command she was more than pleased to accept my request.

It would be the new beginning.​
 

Enewald

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Being Count of Tiberias and Acre sounds much better. :D
Dukedom of Jaffa or Galileia as next?

Evil bishops... how can a bishop marry someone's widow? :confused: