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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning
Chapter 1

WJS

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Chapter 1: One King, One Germany

Aachen was abuzz with activity. Accommodations were prepared for the Dukes of the German tribes: Saxony, Lotharingia, Franconia, Swabia, Bavaria, Thuringia. And, leading the Saxon contingent, Otto, son of Heinrich the Fowler, the late King of East Francia.

upload_2019-5-20_6-52-54.png


It was, admittedly, hard to keep referring to the kingdom as "East Francia." It had been about 25 years since a Karling led the Germans. When Louis the Child died at the age of 18 without issue, the dukes decided they did not want the kingdom to be ruled by the most eligible Karling: Charles the Simple, King of West Francia. So, they agreed to elect one of their own, Conrad of Franconia, as the next king. Conrad had hoped to maintain control over the other tribes, but that proved impossible, and East Francia was a hotbed of rebellion until Conrad passed away in 918. He asked the other dukes, including Eberhard, his brother and the next Duke of Franconia, to rally behind the Duke of Saxony, Heinrich the Fowler, to lead East Francia. Henry did lead with a strong arm and clever politicking, pushing the Magyars back, and even convincing oft-wayward Lotharingia back into the German fold. Calling himself First Among Equals, he assuaged the other dukes with promises that he was not above them, and they remained loyal. And so, wielding such control, he convinced the other dukes to agree to allowing Otto, his first son, to become the new king, taking full control of his holdings.

The problem, of course, is that Otto was not Heinrich's first son.

upload_2019-5-20_6-53-19.png


After the coronation, Thankmar stayed in Aachen a few more days. He visited with Geberga, his half-sister, wife of Giselbert, Duke of Lotharingia.

upload_2019-5-20_6-53-46.png


"Did you see how he sat in Charlemagne's throne? Does he think he's some sort of emperor? He is no Karling," Giselbert fumed to his guests.

"He's not even Frankish, but you never would have guessed it from what he wore to that coronation," Eberhard interjected.

upload_2019-5-20_6-54-17.png


"He's Saxon. His father ruled us not forgetting that. Oh, but when I punish a minor lord for not swearing fealty to me for not being Saxon, Otto decrees that I'm the party at fault, and sentences my commanders to carrying dead dogs in public. But when it's time for the coronation, 'Oh, no, I'm Frankish, not Saxon, and you'll all bow to me anyway.' He has no right insulting our traditions that way!"

"The Pomeranian marches were supposed to be mine," Wichmann added, "but Otto gave them to my little brother, instead."

upload_2019-5-20_6-54-40.png


"Plenty has been going to the little brother," Thankmar concluded. "It's not our traditions, and Otto does not have the mandate. Saxons are Saxons, and Franconians are Fanconians, and the dukes are free to rule their people by the grace of God. We were bound under Charlemagne and banded together to support his rule and the rule of his family as ordained by God. We kept that rule together for Conrad, for Heinrich. But now, we have strayed from Karling rule. We are not East Francians. We have strayed from our free choice of ruler. For Saxony, for Lotharingia, for Franconia, we hold the mandate for ourselves. What say you?"

"I've already told Otto that Lotharingia will not be part of this farce. I've pledged my support to Louis of West Francia," Giselbert replied. "Lotharingia wishes you well, and will be happy to have you as an ally."

"Franconia agrees, this insult has gone on long enough. You have our support as first son of Heinrich the Fowler, and will support you in battle." Eberhard rapped on the table in emphasis.

"Anything to put that pie-eyed charlatan in his place," Wichmann spat. "I support you, Thankmar."

"In the months after my wedding, then. I am marrying Strezislava of Bohemia, and her brother Boleslav has promised to ally as well. My sister Hedwig is betrothed to Louis, so West Francia will do nothing against us."

upload_2019-5-20_6-52-31.png


"As winter falls, so shall we descend on Otto."
 
Last edited:

TinyTopHat

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Images are broken, just me? <-- OP fixed it.

Gotta say I'm a bit confused about the perspective changes.
 
Last edited:

Keizer Harm

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stnylan

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Nice to see this :)
 

Enriador

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Nice AAR! Happy to see Otto & co will get special events.
 

WJS

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Wait, is Iron Century out already?
Not yet. I've been given a beta copy to showcase some of the new decisions and features in this AAR during this week of announcements.

Suffice to say, there may be slight tweaks between what you see here and what you'll see when it's released, but it shouldn't be anything too surprising.
 
Chapter 2

WJS

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Chapter 2: Thankmar's Rebellion

On the 15th of November, 936, Thankmar, Eberhard of Franconia, and Wichmann of East Frisia declared war against the tyranny of Otto of Germany. Giselbert of Lotharingia and Boleslav of Bohemia honored their commitments to Thankmar, and joined his side.

As Thankmar summoned his levies and brought them together at his modest castle at Hildesheim, a single rider arrived from the east. "Thankmar, rightful king and heir of Heinrich the Fowler, I bring word from Gero, Margrave of the Eastern Marches of Germany. Gero finds your cause just, and declares his intent to join your side!"

upload_2019-5-20_23-19-24.png


Thankmar stared at the rider, taken aback. "We gladly accept Gero's willingness to join our campaign. Come, let us together demonstrate who the true king is!"

In the evening, Strezislava spoke with Thankmar. "You were so shocked to see someone else support you. Do you have such doubts about the sacred justness of the cause?"

Thankmar turned to his wife and caressed her cheek. "Not at all. But the one other reason I fight is because Gero's lands were supposed to be mine. If Otto had granted them to me, I might have been persuaded to not take my rightful place."

She leaned in, calm and warm. "Then we can be thankful God has seen fit to judge Otto's selfishness and flagrant disregard for family."

He growled. "Speaking of family..." With a nod he dismissed the attendants.

Thankmar left the next day with his troops, trying to gain advantage with speed against Otto's scattered forces. Some early victories against small bands of troops loyal to Otto were found on the roads and crushed. Eberhard, Gero, and Wichmann gathered their troops. Boleslav summoned his forces but was immediately called to interfere with their tributaries in Orava and Sacz, both fighting for dominance and being simultaneously invaded with Magyars.

Thankmar hunched over battle plans on a table in a tent in Nassau. Men from Wichmann and Eberhard had gathered, and Gero was close behind. Bohemian forces were remaining east, but the full fury of forces loyal to Otto was marching on Nassau. Thankmar looked over the troop readiness. He felt confident in the discipline of his men, but not in their numbers; the Lotharingian contingent was late. To the east, reports on the approaching Ottonian armies increased. To the west... the banner of Lotharingia came into view, but the total number of riders was one.

The emissary entered the tent, and the pretender blurted impatiently, "Where are Giselbert's men? We should be seeing them by now."

"Your majesty, I bring word from Count Reginar of Liège."

"The Count of Liège? Giselbert won't even send me an emissary himself?"

"I fear not, your majesty, on account of his untimely death."

upload_2019-5-20_23-20-8.png


"Giselbert's daughter Geberga is the new Duchess, and on account of her age, Reginar is regent of Lotharingia. He writes to inform you that Geberga will not support your endeavor, and it is the advice of the council that further talk of alliances should only commence after the war is won. The Duchess offers prayers to her uncle, confident that God goes with you."

Thankmar waved the rider out. He pulled out a dagger and started carving notches into the table. "What a delightful child," he muttered. "What a thoughtful, pious child, sending all of God to me."

An alarm was raised, and Thankmar paced out of the tent, dagger in hand. He looked east, seeing the banners or, an eagle sable among them. That blackguard of a brother had the temerity to borrow Charlemagne's symbols?

As the soldiers descended upon the camp, Thankmar cursed to himself, "Where is God now, and can He lead a flank for once?"

upload_2019-5-20_23-20-35.png


His men showed great discipline and prevented their numbers from being thinned too much, so as they broke and scattered, Thankmar knew his brother had not yet won the war. He set about gathering all his remaining allies. The Jews proved willing to loan him extra funds, and he hired the Swiss Band to fight with him. With numbers on his side, he returned his forces to meet the Ottonian army. They lay siege to Hildesheim, and there was no way he was going to let Strezislava fall into Otto's clutches.

upload_2019-5-20_23-21-17.png
upload_2019-5-20_23-21-31.png


This battle was won, but the war continued, and the rebel forces sieged down Magdeburg and prepared to meet the loyalists a second time. Wichmann turned and left the main body to head home. Danes were invading, from Skåne and Skagen, vying for Ostfriesland and Hadeln. The Polish arrived in Lausitz, trying to take land from Gero. Magyars invaded Bavaria, which, thankfully, remained with Otto, so they were welcome to take it.

The Ottonians returned to try to siege Hildesheim a second time, and for family, Thankmar once again repelled their forces. And just in time...

upload_2019-5-20_23-22-1.png
upload_2019-5-20_23-22-19.png


Thankmar burst into the family chapel. "Ekkehard, I hear my daughter is being recorded as Richara von Württemberg. Why von Württemberg? Isn't she a Ludolfinger, like me?"

His chaplain hemmed and hawed. "Thank.... er, your majesty, it is..."

"It's Otto, isn't it?"

"Your majesty, I am afraid that you are recorded in the German records as a bastard?"

"My father and mother were married under the watchful eyes of the Lord when I was born! Does that sound like a bastard to you?"

"According to the records, your mother was a nun, and the marriage was considered void."

"She was in the convent, but she had not yet taken the oath. So my father tossed her aside for Matilda, they had Otto, and God says this is all well and good, and Otto is king, and so much more spewing drivel?"

"W-well..."

"Fine, write what you wish, make the books whatever the Pope needs to see to be happy. But mark my words, I will not let my child grow up with such an insult to her name."

* * * * *

Over the course of the rebellion, chaos reigned. Pagans saw the battles and attrition throughout Germany as opportunity. They bickered among themselves; Skåne, Skagen, Westergautland, Greater Poland, all trying to take pieces out of Germany or the rebels, or both.

upload_2019-5-20_23-22-45.png


The forces loyal to either Thankmar and Otto dwindled. More troops were diverted to pagan incursions. The sieges and countersieges contributed to the attrition. But Thankmar held his soldiers as a cohesive force, and was able to track down Otto in Paderborn, at Eresburg, stationed out of the church of St. Peter. The rebel armies arrived and lay siege, routing the small number of loyalists and surrounded the church atop the hill.

Thankmar insisted on entering alone. He was told to take care, as a plot against his life led by Otto was discovered. He shrugged off the worry and approached.

He took off his sword and handed it to an attendant as he entered the church. Striding in, the sun at his back, he called out, "Otto, my brother, this adventure is at its end, wouldn't you agree?"

Otto rose from his kneeling position, finishing his prayer. "Do not approach, brother, for you are an enemy of the king."

Thankmar laughed. "Come, I mean you no harm. Why, this is holy ground. So holy that Charlemagne himself burned the pagan Irminsul of Saxony that existed on this very site. I would never dream of trying to murder you in a place like this. What, are you afraid of a spear suddenly bursting through the window, to impale you where you stand?"

Thankmar looked at the window, the illuminated form of St. Peter staring down at the two would-be kings. Otto, stunned, looked at St. Peter with urgency, then back to his brother. Thankmar grinned widely as the silence refused to exit. Slowly, quietly, he answered, "This is sanctuary. We are safe."

Otto shuddered, realizing how truly defeated he had become. "I... yes. We can end this."

Thankmar approached, put his arm around Otto, and assured him that he would not let any harm come to him. Outside, Otto saw Liutfried, his best spearsman, held down by Thankmar's soldiers. He winced as they separated Liutfried's head from his shoulders.

"Here are the terms of your surrender," Thankmar explained. "The marriage of our father Henry to Hatheburg of Merseburg, my mother, is agreed to be valid. This means that I am his legitimate first born son, and I am thereby the one fit to be the heir. I and my daughter, Richara, are heretofore agreed to be full members of House Ludolfinger. And you shall remain in my custody, for your rebellion against the duchies, your claim of Charlemagne, your belief in a new empire... all this ends here, today."

upload_2019-5-20_23-23-26.png


Eberhard wiped his brow and approached Thankmar. "Congratulations, with the defeat at St. Peters, you are the true King of the Germans, scion of Heinrich the Fowler, and true inheritor of the mandate of Charlemagne."

Thankmar snorted and looked straight into Eberhard's eyes. "I am more Widukind than Charlemagne in this victory today. Charlemagne is the man who bound us together, and he is the man Otto pretended to be. We are no longer East Francia. We are Saxons, Franconians, Swabians, Bavarians. Let us no longer pretend to be beholden to someone else."

upload_2019-5-20_23-23-51.png
 

Rags17

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Wat the hell Paradox ?! You are giving us content and features almost on par with Charlemagne and you're literally giving it away for free ?

My God I can't wait to see what's in the next PAID update !
 

stnylan

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So long HRE, hardly got to know you :D
 

Enriador

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Amazing AAR! Will the empire of Germania still be available in case you turn the HRE defunct?
 

Andrzej I

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Thankmar laughed. "Come, I mean you no harm. Why, this is holy ground. So holy that Charlemagne himself burned the pagan Irminsul of Saxony that existed on this very site. I would never dream of trying to murder you in a place like this. What, are you afraid of a spear suddenly bursting through the window, to impale you where you stand?"
Haha, well played. Love the reference to Thankmar's historic fate :)
 

Parzival2211

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Chapter 2: Thankmar's Rebellion


Thankmar snorted and looked straight into Eberhard's eyes. "I am more Widukind than Charlemagne in this victory today. Charlemagne is the man who bound us together, and he is the man Otto pretended to be. We are no longer East Francia. We are Saxons, Franconians, Swabians, Bavarians. Let us no longer pretend to be beholden to someone else."

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Cool! And what about Bavaria?