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King Lech the Holy
Part 4: A Call in the South


King Lech Piast is remembered as an old, wise mystic of the long-forgotten Slavic faith
However much accomplished and successful, King Lech’s rule was far from over. Indeed, it was to become the longest out of all the Kings of this first Age’s time on the throne and the King long refused to give in to age or illness.
By the 920s, the kingdom’s expansion towards the Baltic coasts was mostly complete. The patient, careful King waited only for the expiration of the truce with Svitjod, which broke apart in a civil war, and declared another war of conquest for the Norse-controlled territory of Galindia in 924. It took only a year to drive the Vikings out and end their presence in this region of the Baltic coast. As the King’s lands prospered and organized, the raiders and invaders became much less feared in the Slavic lands. It could theorised that were it not for the sudden rise of the Polans, and the most powerful Norse realms “pushed” into domestic conflicts during King Lech’s reign, we would see a much different power distribution in the whole Baltic region.


The southern Baltic coast after Lech's conquests
While the King was careful to keep enemies at a distance, though, the recently conquered Pomerania was not exactly peaceful. High Chief Frantisek the Ill-Ruler was not a popular chief, as the nickname may suggest. Even though he still managed to incorporate Anhalt into his domain (and by consequence, the Kingdom) in 914, doing that he only brought more support for his enemies already within. Situation kept slipping from his hands with various disagreements and outright conflicts against his vassals until finally a large revolt topped him in 921, placing its leader, Walenty z Wieleci, in his stead. The family of Frantisek was to never again emerge on the pages of history.


High Chief Frantisek deserved his fall in a variety of ways
Walenty became subject of multiple attacks as well, as many hoped to repeat his feat or called him usurper, and armed conflicts continued to occur. King Lech watched, careful as ever, and did not engage in his vassals’ wars, but the new High Chief of Pomerania won his respect and quiet favour as he kept a steady grip on his lands despite unenviable odds and ruling justly yet decisively. He passed the title to his son, Dragovit, in 935, and the son proved well-prepared to continue in his father’s footsteps.
The King himself still had much to accomplish as well. His rule is also remembered as a time of nurturing strong ties and honouring the alliance with the southern neighbour, Bohemia. It is suspected that King Lech saw Bohemia as the most important and trustworthy partner in the task of maintaining the unity and strength of the Western Slavic lands, evidenced by the continuous support both sides gave each other in war time after the marriage of Grzymislawa, Lech’s sister, and High Chef Castolov, including the civil war in Bohemia in the year 900. Also the aforementioned unhindered Bohemian expansion in Werle, far north, near the King’s Pomeranian gains, suggests such an approach on the Polish side.
Around the time of the conquest of Galindia, a request for aid reached the King of Poland. Castolov of Bohemia sought to reclaim the Bohemian land of Olomouc, for it to again fall under a Slavic monarch rather than the Hungarian Tengri. At this time, Hungary itself fell apart as old King Árpád’s brother fought the King’s grandson for the crown. Castolov unexpectedly attacked the claimant, Bertalan of Transylvania, and called King Lech for help. Once again using others’ conflicts for his gain, the Polan King helped the endeavour he considered worthy and marched south, ending the Prussian conquests to get a revenge on the Hungarians.


Hungaran rider attacking Bohemian soldiers
Olomouc was swiftly taken in late 925, and High Chief Castolov was bent on taking reign over the county himself, throwing out the grandson of Závis Benesovic, who was of course a Reformed Tengri. Since the ties with the Benesovic family and the Polish crown died down after the separation of the realms and the death of Závis, King Lech conceded. It is important to note that the Benesovics were also now strongly tied to the Hungarian royalty, as a member of the family, Guta Benesovic, married the grandson of King Árpád, Almos, who soon also won his war against the Duke of Transylvania. This made Guta the queen and mother of kings, and one might say that the Benesovic blood continued through the Kings of Hungary. The family’s male line and name, however, never again rose to match the fame of old Závis.
Castolov himself did not have the opportunity to celebrate in his new land for long, though, as he passed away in the following year. That meant the throne falling into the hands of King Lech’s nephew, Chval Premyslid. Chval immediately found himself in conflict with the second most powerful land holder in Bohemia, Jaromir, count of Litomerice, Boleslav and Domazlice, who planned to put Chval’s relative Borivoj on the throne and control the entire Voivodeship through him. Soon, Chval needed his uncle’s help as war broke out again in Bohemia, half the realm raising banners in support of Jaromir and Borivoj. The rebels did not take into account that the King of the mighty Polan Kingdom would care about the nephew he never had much contact with, especially since power would nominally remain in the same dynasty. King Lech had his own plans for Bohemia, however, and wanted the realm strong and stable. He came, striking at the rebel army, which already besieged Prague, and drove them out. He then proceeded to take the traitor’s seat of power in Litomerice along with his nephew. This put a quick end to the rebellion and the year 929 saw Bohemia united again.

The Battle of Prague
Peace only lasted for both realms for as long as until the end of 932. Then, King Almos of Hungary decided to put an end to the long conflict with Bohemia. He did not settle for retaking Olomouc this time, but rather ordered the warriors of the Tengri faith to take all of Bohemia. One last time, King Lech gathered his warriors to stand beside their Bohemian allies and rode personally leading the army despite his advanced age. The conflict was to last a long time. Initially, King Lech tried repeating the old, tested strategy of riding forward and catching Hungarian bands before they have a chance to gather, while the Bohemians crossed the border to lay siege to the closest holdings.

The beggining of the conflict
This time, however, the Hungarian King was prepared for such bold diversions and disregarding the initial loss of a few small groups of warriors, he surprised the Polans as he caught them near the borders with superior forces. The defenders suffered a terrible defeat, setting the alliance back and allowing for the Tengri to capture Olomouc and Boleslav early on.
King Lech was forced to empty a considerable part of his treasury hiring foreign mercenaries, while his forces dispersed after returning home with their tails between their legs. Meanwhile, the Bohemians avoided a decisive battle as well as they could and both the armies regrouped slowly, never giving up since the stakes were too high. Despite the initial advantage, King Almos found himself in an increasingly difficult position. Khazaria appeared busy with their own internal struggles and unable to provide the help King Almos hoped for from his Tengri brethren. His great armies could not sustain themselves on Slavic land, and soon, he began to recklessly assault their holdings in hopes of forcing a quick surrender from Chval. While the Hungarian capture of Prague is a noteworthy achievement, he lost too many men in the process and the Polan-Bohemian army with the help of the Oborites soon gathered enough strength to fight back and won an important victory at Glatz.


The Battle of Glatz
The war still dragged on, and only ended in late 936, after many more back-and-forth skirmishes and assaults along the Bohemian border. Ultimately, the Hungarian King was left with no choice but to bow down and give up his hopes of domination in Bohemia, as a minor revolt started in Hungary in hopes of exploiting his absence for the front.


The Hungarian retreat
That was the Polan King’s final victory, and the next three years he spent fighting a terrible illness he likely brought back with him from the war; the sickness only bested him in late 939. He was 66, only 3 years older than his father when he died, but ruled for over a decade longer.

The Slavic god Weles collecting the souls of the dead
King Lech got his name after the mythical founder of Gniezno and the tribe of Polans, who was believed to have built the fort where he first spotted a white eagle, a good omen and the symbol he then took as his coat of arms. However, King Lech I expanded the realm’s borders so that they stretched far from Gniezno in all directions and ultimately established the core of what came to be considered inherently Polish lands. He was always careful and wise in his rule, which along with his constant struggle to aid other Slavic rulers and campaign against believers of other faiths who would think to invade Slavic lands, as well of course as his deep belief in the gods and rituals, built his fame and let history remember him as ‘the Holy’. In fact, it is suspected that he Polish word for ‘holy’, ‘święty’, has to do with the name of the Slavic god Svetovid – ‘Świętowid’, to whom the King made regular sacrifices. About the King’s personal life, we are told by legends that his marriage with Malgorzata Mazowiecki, who was slightly older, was not at all forced and they loved each other dearly. Malgorzata gave the King three daughters until finally a single son was born, the much needed heir, Mieszko.


King Lech the Holy and his children
Lech cultivated and honoured his alliances, caring especially for the relations with Bohemia. He kept his relatives on its throne and he married his only son to his niece, Hedvika Premyslid, so that the ties would remain just as strong after his passing. Still, that did not stop the relations from gong sour after the new King took over and enacted his famous reforms.


Europe in 939

Following the victory in the war for Könugardr, in 915, Igor Tyvercy announced himself Grand Duke of Ruthenia, forever carving his name in the history of the region as he began further expanding his reach over the lands. Meanwhile, following the example of the Polans and other Slavs, Kulnos Palemonaitis united Baltic pagans and made himself Grand Duke of Lithuania in 928. Lithuania, however, was born prematurely and would soon become divided again.
Further south, Emperor Basileios the Great ruthlessly conquered Venezia in 902. However, with his heir’s, Christophoros I Makedon’s ascension to the imperial throne in 929, much changed in the Empire. As fascinated with ancient Roman tradition as he was greedy, Christophoros moved the capital from Constantinople to Venice and pronounced Byzantium a republic, which he based on the Venetian model. The nobility of Old Byzantium were unhappy, and the Empire split into a long civil war until the Republican forces won, making Christophoros Makedon the first Grand Prince of the Byzantine Empire.
Further yet, while the Abbasids and Saffarids continue to establish themselves as rules of Arabia, in Abyssinia there started what came to be known as the Monophysite Revolution, soon erasing any Miaphysite presence in the region with the last Miaphysites forced into exile, scattered around the north.
In the Karling states, Louis the Wise died soon after King Lech’s enthronement, leaving only daughters behind. According to his kingdom’s laws, only men could inherit, which put Italy in the hands of Lothaire II. West Francia and Aquitaine go through a period of civil wars, only to be held together by King Carloman II.
On the British Isles, King Aethelric I felt powerful enough to call himself King of England in 917. After a succession of a few, violently removed kings his dynasty would be replaced by house of Ilchester as soon as 931 though. Denmark still managed to hold on to northern Wales and a few holdings in central England, but even these little realms started to fight among themselves in the bloody civil wars Denmark was engulfed in after the defeat in Weligrad.
On the Iberian Peninsula, Asturias made territorial gains on the cost of the divided Umayyads and the Norse on the coast, but then infighting started in the Kingdom itself. Another Norse invader got his revenge by taking Navarra.

Lech was a great king. I always like to see strong heretical movements so its cool to see Monophysitism doing so well in Ethiopia.
First, congrats for the great AAR to the fellow Pole (I assume).

Second: a republican Byzantium? Crazy! Why would the AI do that? (I assume you have the republic DLC - I don't have it so this mechanic is foreign to me).
King Mieszko I
Part 5: Under a New Banner


Mieszko I is remembered as the King who brought Christianity to Poland
When Mieszko I began his rule at the age of 31, it seemed that there could be no safer succession and his rule would never be challenged. The ever-careful King Lech made sure to leave his son with a strong Kingdom and orderly foreign relationships. The royal treasury was once again overflowing with gold. Mieszko was an only son, which left no obvious claimants; he was mature, well prepared for his duties by years of serving as his father’s Chancellor, and already had a male heir, his three year old son. He was married to Hedvika Premyslid, keeping the powerful and lasting alliance with Bohemia strong, while his youngest sister Przybyczesc married Haraldr, the son and heir to both King Oddr of Gardariki and Queen Thordis of Svitjod. This meant securing peace with the once-enemies and powerful rulers in the north (and an alliance King Mieszko would later regularly disregard). The High Chief of Mazovia, uncle of the new King, remained a certain ally inside the realm.
Despite all this, only a few months passed since the old King’s death and something even wise Lech could not predict led to a full-fledged civil war in the Polan Kingdom and threatened to cast Mieszko and the Piast dynasty down from the throne. A rebellion, led nominally by Chief Mszczuj Swidnicki of Lubusz, who was clearly just a front-man scapegoat for a faction of more powerful landholders, rose to make Jolanta z Obodryci, daughter of Dobromila Piast and wife to the Chief of Rastoku, the Queen. The true author of the rebellion was High Chief Dragovit of Pomerania, whose domain was the largest of all High Chiefs of Poland and who imagined planting a Pomeranian on the throne. Jolanta herself had no power and would easily be controlled by the rebel leaders, who then must have had the covert support of the Oborites from whom Jolanta hailed.


Pomerania was once again separate from the Kingdom in the short rebellion
However, other than Lubusz, the Pomeranian faction and their leader, who rose to power very quickly and proved to be overly ambitious, found no support among non-Pomeranian, earlier vassals of the Kingdom. In the rest of the realm, memory of the old King and the loyalty to the Piast line, now grounded in decades of prosperous rules, proved stronger than the claims and promises of a Pomeranian new High Chief. The King called the levies and more than twice the number of warriors the rebels had answered. A few battles between their and the loyalists’ divided armies occurred during the next half a year, which was all that was needed to deplete the rebellious forces. Seeing their armies broken and castles besieged, the Pomeranians surrendered on mild terms. The King ordered only monetary compensations to the Crown and a renewal of vassal vows to remind them of their duties.
However, he saw the danger of letting ambitious men hold too much power, and would remember the lesson. As an immediate counteraction, he separated a new duchy, Pomeralia, and gave the title out to the Chief of Gdansk, breaking apart the most prosperous lands of the Pomeranian High Chief. Later on, a new, orderly division of land in the realm would be one of Mieszko’s valued reforms.


Count Morcar of Sambia
After the conflict ended in late 940, the King made sure to reward his loyal supporters, bestowing honorary titles and gifts, and spent some time reassuring his hold upon the realm, showing his status by holding feasts and funding the construction of many structures across the realm. Eventually, he sought to once again increase its size as well. His chosen target was Sambia, a lone independent county in the troubled lands of the Pruthenians, the last piece of Prussia still not brought under the rule of the Piasts. Unlike Marienburg and Galindia, which needed to be claimed from under the Norse invaders from Svitjod, Sambia fought strong to remain independent of the Lettigalians and then the Norse, until it fell prey to a different kind of invader in 938 AD. Earl Morcar the Conqueror, a Saxon Catholic hailing from Northumbria, set out with a host and claimed this land surrounded by and inhabited by pagans. Earl Morcar soon lost his ties with his homeland and needed to face King Mieszko alone when he attacked in 943. It only took a surprise attack by the King’s swift retinues marching ahead of the main army to disperse Morcar’s host. Then, following a successful siege of the Saxon’s holding, King Mieszko personally accepted surrender from his hands. It is another example of the King’s sense of justice, as he did not cast this non-believer from his land, but accepted him as a vassal under Mieszko’s protection and allowed for him to keep his faith.


The war over Hadec
In 947, the King was called to war by his Bohemian allies. For a time, it was to be the last intervention in the long Bohemian-Hungarian conflict by a King from the Piast line. Young King Almos III sought to finally overcome the Bohemian warriors, this time making a much more conservative demands than his predecessor, desiring only the bordering county of Hradec. He hoped to enter Bohemian lands and take the county swiftly, then beating the Bohemian army if need be and entering into negotiations with the weakened Bohemian state. If successful, this would leave Bohemia weakened and allow for later conquests. King Almos executed the first phase of his plan faultlessly, taking Hradec at a cost of a few of his warriors’ lives before the defenders could even gather. He then proceeded to hunt the Bohemian army with his overwhelming forces, catching them at Jicin. However, what seemed like an easy victory was soon turned into a bitter retreat when the warriors of Poland reinforced their Bohemians and split, attacking the Hungarians at their rear as well. Seeing his army divided to fight two large opposing forces, the King of Hungary recognized strategically impossible odds and ordered a retreat. He still managed to come out alive with many thousands of his warriors, undeniably a considerable force, and flee the immediate pursue. After a brief interlude – the retaking of Hradec – King Mieszko still caught the Hungarians on their own soil, and finally defeated them at Prerov. After just these two major battles, the war ended with a decisive victory of the defenders. This standoff finally made it clear that the once-menacing Magyar invaders are no longer the most powerful single force in the region.


It is not for the feats of martial and strategic prowess that King Mieszko is primarily remembered, however. It seems natural that a son wants to differ from their father and share not the father’s sentiments. While King Lech was a dutiful and convinced follower of the Slavic gods, some European monarchs thought converting such a powerful ruler to Christianity would be a worthy endeavour or a way to acquire a powerful ally. A few foreign missionaries consequently found themselves imprisoned by the old King and some even met their end in captivity. King Mieszko, however, felt estranged by his father’s excessive religious practises, and only fulfilled the base duties the Slavic faith imposed on him as a King. Upon hearing of the new King’s enthronement, foreign missionaries appeared again in Gniezno. Mieszko found himself curious of this powerful, compelling faith of the West which was never allowed as much as a fair hearing by Lech. First, a priest in service of the neighbouring East Francia’s King was surprised by a reserved welcome, but soon, Lothaire IV of the powerful Lotharingian Kingdom decided to pursue the apparent opportunity and sent his own Court Chaplain, Clotaire, to spread the word of Christ in Poland. Clotaire was much more successful in his preaching, wisely approaching one person at a time and slowly building a Christian gathering in Mieszko’s own court. Mieszko’s wife, Hedvika, had reportedly fallen under the preacher’s sway as early as the war against Hungary and some ascribe the King’s quick victory to her prayers. Hedvika had an influence on her husband and her sympathy towards the preacher protected him anytime Mieszko had second thoughts on letting him do his work in Gniezno.


The work of Clotaire
Finally, in 956 AD, having long listened to his wife’s pleas and Clotaire’s sermons, King Mieszko I decided to convert to Christianity. He was baptised by bishop Clotaire during a grand ceremony on an island temple turned-church in Legnica. His closest family members followed, including the faithful High Chief of Mazovia. The grandson of Siemowit the Great, who brought these Slavic tribes together to resist foreign influences, became part of this great western religion and so Christianity gained a foothold in the Slavic lands.


The introduction of Christianity
The following years the King spent introducing his other vassals to the Christian faith and slowly converting them. All of Poland’s major landholders became Catholic before the King died. Religious conversion was only the most important of Mieszko’s many reforms. With the introduction of the Christian religion, also church structures, Latin with its alphabet and envoys from the West were welcomed in the realm. The most important barriers in the way of cultural and political exchange with nearby East Francia and Lotharingia disappeared. King Mieszko took note of these realm’s political customs and the strict organization of the Catholic Church, and at the same time became a fan of the written word. This is when first reliable historical sources found inside Poland are created. The King codified and unified the realm’s laws, including, to the displeasure of his more conservative vassals, new requirements regarding the levies and tribute gold for the Crown, much increasing its authority. There also was a reform of the division of land, most important results of which were the creation of the Duchy of Prussia and further separating land from the Pomeranian High Chief’s inheritance.
There were a series of smaller laws the King istituted as well, concerning religious and judicial matters as well as many others. The King even issued a realm-wide reform of the noble Coats of Arms towards the end of his reign, deciding the presence of pagan symbolism retained in them should be abolished. The King gave an example to be followed by employing foreign artisans to craft an improved symbol for the Piast line, but still t took years for all the vassals to finally let go of their old family shields and many only went through a minor redesign.

The old and new Coats of Arms of the most powerful Polish families, from left to right: Piast, Swidnicki of Lubusz, z Stodaranie of Altmark, Mazowiecki of Mazovia, Lechowicz of Lesser Poland, z Wieleci of Pomerania, Borkowic of Prussia, Slezanie of Silesia, z Slowincy of Slupsk, z Dalemincy of Anhalt, z Hevelli of Brandenburg, Wielkopolski of Galindia, z Luzica of Luzycka, z Kaszebi of Pomeralia, Golensizi of Cieszyn, Sieradzki of Sieradzko-Leczyckie*
While all this was going on and despite all the attention on the inside of the realm, the King still took part in a few armed conflicts. In 961, he attempted to conquer Holstein and spread the new faith further into the Norse land. Despite initial successes and the taking of Holstein, however, the Danes soon gathered their allies and amassed a superior army, along with many ships from all over northern Scandinavia and parts of the British Isles. After the first lost battle, King Mieszko hurried to sign a White Peace in 962.


War over Holstein
Seven years later, the King found another target for religious conquest. His past allies, the Oborites, were down on their luck after a period of continuous success. They reclaimed Weligrad, turned on Bohemia and took Werle, as well as faraway Meissen. When continuing their advance into Bohemia, they once again were forced to repel an invasion on Weligrad, this time launched by a Frankish Catholic. Mieszko decided to claim the separated county of Meissen, creating a common border with Lotharingia. The King did not see the end of the war, however, as he died in 970, before the main engagement. It is suspected he died because of a wound he received during the war against Denmark, which permanently maimed him. He was 63 years old.


The Children of Mieszko I
King Mieszko is remembered as 'the Just' due to his righteous and kind treatment of his subjectsa and enemies alike, as well as codifying the realm's laws and fighting in defence of his allies. Christian tradition would also have it that the 'just' act of the King was giving the realm to Christ, as the rightful ruler of all peoples. Fact is, the religious conversion meant differentiating his subjects from among all the other Slavics at the time, no longer just a collection of tribes which happened to fall under one King's rule and not another's, as they were perceived before. It is then that Poland is first named in writing as an entity, and the birth of a Polish nation is made possible.


Europe in 970
In the West, one may oserve a period of unprecedented stability. Only on the Iberian Peninsula war rages on, as Castille becomes unified and gains ground at the cost of the Umayyads. Ireland becomes subject of back-and-forth squabbles between Scotland and Dehuebarth. Only near the end of Mieszko I's reign, England falls into civil war.
Svitjod and Gardariki/Rus experience a period of personal union under Haraldr Rurikid of Rus, but Svitjod then casts the Rurkids down in favor of the af Munsös.
In Ruthenia, the Tyvercy rulers continue their cruel reign and crush any who dares oppose them, in addition to gaining land at the cost of Rus and Lithuania. The Bohemians lose Moravia when devoid of the Polish support.
In the Muslim world, the Abbasids achieve the postions of near-absolute rulers of the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt. The Saffarids are topped by the Tahmasbids, but their caliphate continues to grow in the other dynasty's hands and even wins a war of conquest against Byzantium and Georgia.

*I genuinely like the heraldry, and because of a bug after the conversion I spent a lot of time designing and altering the save file to change the CoAs, so I thought I'd include this. Maybe someone else also cares.
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First of all, apologies for the lengthy break. Life had me away from the computer for a while and some problems with the game needed resolving. Slacking may have been involved as well. ^^'
Oooooh, nice. I might pay attention to this- I'm considering doing an AAR starting as Snake-in-the-Eye and megacampaigning through at least EU4.

...I like your rules, though. :p
You're welcome to stay, hopefully I can provide more frequent updates as we go on. :)
Nice work. What plans do you have for Poland in the future?
Thank you. I'm hoping to go through several "Ages" which would differ from one another. Right now I'm laying down the heroic, legendary basis for this world's future Polish national identity. I hope for things to get more gritty later. I did not play that much further into the future, though.
For CK2 in the long run, I hope for Poland to be the wall upon hitting which the Hordes will break.
Lech was a great king. I always like to see strong heretical movements so its cool to see Monophysitism doing so well in Ethiopia.
Monophysitism basically replaced Miaphysitism, which is now only a religion of some of the provinces under Muslim control and courtiers in the north. I exoect it to go completely extinct at some point. I think that's pretty interesting.
Thank you.
First, congrats for the great AAR to the fellow Pole (I assume).

Second: a republican Byzantium? Crazy! Why would the AI do that? (I assume you have the republic DLC - I don't have it so this mechanic is foreign to me).
The A.I. can go Republican regardless of whether you have the DLC, I think. Paradox includes those mechanics in patches, DLCs just let you play as the republics (/Muslims/Pagans etc.) I never tried one out, so I don't know much either. ;P
It is pretty crazy, but I like it as an alternative history thing, and as you can see I made up an explanation in my head to fit (Byzantium following the tradition of ancient republican Rome).

Yes, I'm a Pole, and thank you for the praise. ;)
Surprising number of big blobs already - that lotharingia looks fearsome! Good to see you convert, wonder how Poland's drift from the pagan to the Christian world will effect it.
A good update. Seems to me you should be considering picking up the smaller countries on your souther border, or, perhaps, Lithuania.
Nice AAR, I'm really enjoying it! I quite enjoyed the natural slow conversion to Christianity. Judging by that tasty looking Lithuania just on your doorstep, I think it's about due time that the Liths are forced to accept their inevitable destiny as a part of the Polish Empire! Besides, Lotharingia is looking a little to scary to push up against right now anyway.
King Mieszko II
Part 6: Wonders of the West


King Mieszko II, the Great
Mieszko II ascended to the throne in 971 AD, inheriting a war against the Oborites to be fought and a tired force of warriors to be led, still remembering the failed war for Holstein. On top of that, another threat soon occupied the newly crowned King when a Norse conqueror, Birger, appeared with a host of men to claim Pomeralia with Poland’s most prosperous coastal city of Gdansk. The only ally Mieszko II could hope to win over was the King of East Francia, the son of Mieszko’s deceased sister.
Thankfully, King Arnulf III was an honourable and glory-hungry ruler in his youth and answered his uncle’s call, proving helpful in the west while the King of Poland hurried to aid the defenders of Pomeralia. Birger was then besieging Bytow, the seat of power of the Pomeralian Duke and would soon force the keep’s surrender. Mieszko II showed his tactical prowess as he bested the aggressor in a rushed, yet brilliantly executed offensive in open field. Despite being outnumbered, he forced the enemy into chaos and eliminated most of Birger’s host, suffering minimal losses himself. The invader was left with only a small force and could not hope to fulfil his plans. The King soon joined Arnulf to see the Piast white eagle fly over Meissen by the end of 972 AD. The two Kings parted in good spirits.

The Battle of Bytow and the new borders of the Kingdom
Afterwards, Mieszko II gave his realm a decade of peace. It is then that he came to be called ‘the Great’, simply because of the prosperity his higher standing subjects could perceive with the King funding holdings and the cultural advancements resulting from opening to the rich noble customs of the West. The King was loved by most, but there were exceptions. The closest thing to war the realm experienced in these years was a series of peasant revolts in central Poland during the so-called ‘Pagan Reaction’. With Christianity enforced across the realm, it appeared the most firm followers of the old ways were the proud tribes which were the first to fall under the Piasts. Those never agreed to work together, however, and an unknown number of such separated rebellions rose right under the King’s nose, and was swiftly put down.

The Pagan Reaction peasant rebellions
In this time, the King quarrelled with his only brother, now-Duke of Greater Poland, Czcibor. The two could never agree and Czcibor, envious for the crown, was Mieszko’s main opponent at court. He would supposedly anger the King so much, he would at one point call him the court’s chief jester. Ultimately, Mieszko demanded that Czcibor gives up his ducal title. Whether from realising that resistance would be futile or not wanting to divide the realm after such a glorious period of peace, Czcibor conceded and finally accepted his brother as his rightful liege.

The King had been looking for powerful allies to cement his realm’s position, and the peace ended as he looked too far. His eldest daughter, Eufemia, was married first to Swithelm of Ilchester, King of Castille, and then, after his early death in 981, to Uthraed, Swithelm’s brother and successor, in order to gain an ally on the other side of the Karling realms. Having married onto the throne before losing the same position in England, rulers from house of Ilchester were the architects of Castille’s superior position at the time. In 983, Mieszko II was hence called to join Uthraed in defence of Castille’s lands from the again unified Umayyad Sultanate, as well as to help with untimely vassal rebellions. After some deliberations, he decided to come all the way to the Iberian Peninsula in full strength, as he needed to honour the alliance and prove his dedication to the Catholic faith.


The war-torn Iberian Peninsula
The Umayyads already made serious advances, occupying much of Badajoz and having won a few minor skirmishes. They outnumbered the Castillians greatly. With the Karlings disregarding the war as unimportant, certain of their own power and safety, the war was still a unifying experience. The Iberian Catholics, normally divided and in constant conflict, all stopped their infighting and stood side by side, joined by warriors from the parts of England still swearing allegiance to the old dynasty and the King of Poland himself, who arrived in 984 by land, while some of his forces came earlier by sea to help subjugate Portucale. The war turned with the battle of Tordesillas, led by King Mieszko II, where the Polish army fought the evenly matched Muslims, forming half of the Umayyad offensive. With the enemy defeated, the Polish warriors were joined by their allies to crush a regrouping Muslim army at Illescas. From there, the Umayyad Sultanate operated with only half its initial strength, which was left to finish capturing and protect Badajoz. The numbers finally favoured the defenders. Still, it took until 986 to break the Muslims’ will for conquest, and not least important was that a rival dynasty rose to challenge the Umayyads inside their own Sultanate, driving their attention away from the Catholics.


The Umayyad Holy War
It was the first time the warriors of Poland ever ventured as far west, and the war brought Mieszko II much fame back home, and his line – recognition across all Europe. Tales of the great Catholic victories and the valour of Christian knights preceded the King’s homecoming, and when the armies came back to talk themselves about the wonders of Iberia, Mieszko II’s court chaplain proudly awaited the King to tell him of his own triumph. He was tasked by the King with bringing the Bohemians into the flock of Christ. The news of the Christian success and Bohemia’s neighbour, Poland’s power allowed him to convince Tobiás Premyslid to the faith.


The work of Bishop Eustachy of Znin
The King’s warriors had just enough time to share the stories of wonders and miracles they saw in Iberia and gather their strength before the next storm came. In 988, the now-Catholic Pomeranian land of Mecklenburg, following a conquest by the German von Avences dynasty, became subject to a long-planned invasion by King Oddr II of Gardariki. King Oddr clearly did not expect the King of Poland to get involved after the Iberian conflict, and expected an easy victory. The invasion was disorderly, as King Oddr only provided enough ships for a part of his troops, the rest coming in separated batches, marching through Poland. King Mieszko II did not take kindly to heathen forces marching through his land to invade fellow Christians, and met them one by one with his armies. The attack soon stopped, and Gardariki was soon to experience much trouble with their closer neighbours, losing ground with not enough manpower to hold it.


The Invasion of Mecklenburg
King Mieszko II also made one important blunder in his foreign policies, which would cost his son after Mieszko II’s passing. Following Austria, Carinthia and Verona’s secession from Lotharingia, Mieszko II sought to form ties of friendship with the Duke of Austria and Brabant, in that way hoping to undermine Lotharingia’s dominant position over central Europe. He went as far as to mary his son and heir, Boleslaw, to Emma Aribonen, Austria's Duke's daughter. When Duke Markward Aribonen presented his ambitious plan of taking the Duchy of Pecs from the Hungarian Tengri, King Mieszko II promised his support, wanting for Austria to gain more power, as a natural opponent towards Lotharingia. Similarly, Duke Markward got the support of King Roger of West Francia. Initally, the war did not go as the Austrian Duke had hoped, numerous Hungarian bands taking his own soldiers with ease, but when the allied monarchs appeared, the tides turned fast. The allies operated separately, forcing the defenders to stretch their forces and even support from the Khazars could not save Pecs for the Hungarians. While the West Francian and Austrians routed Khazar reinforcements, the Polish King beat the Hungarians in the battles of Melk and Adony, in 992 and 993 respectively. An estimate of 17 thousand Hungarians are believed to have lost their lives in just these two battles.
Peace was signed in 993, giving the Aribonen family firm control over Pecs. At the time, it seemed keeping warm relations with them would only benefit the Piasts.


The War over Pecs
King Mieszko II died in 996 at age 59. He is remembered as a King who kept the peace in his land and watched over advancements in a uniquely Polish culture, having completed the realm’s introduction to Catholicism on top of that. He is also famous as a traveller-king and stories of his many supposed adventures in Iberia give his legend colours.


Mieszko II and his children
The throne passed to King Mieszko II’s only son Boleslaw, at that time aged 24, who came to be considered the greatest of the early Piasts.


Europe in 996
In the East, Ruthenia, here visible during a succession war, remains strong for most of the time and following Gardariki's defeat at Mecklenburg, makes significant gains at its cost.
Lithuania barely holds together. Its greatest success in this period was reclaiming its previously lost capital of Vilnius from Ruthenia under Svitrigaila II. However, the Lithuanians failed in their attempt to conquer Livonia and were forced to allow for Estonia and Tartu to become independent (along with some other counties, which were then reclaimed).
The Bohemians reclaim Moravia in 993, after Hungary's defeat against Austria. Prior to that the a Tokmak dynasty gained control over Hungary over the Árpáds.
In the Muslim world, the Umayyads get temprarily replaced by the Jattabids after the Iberian Holy War, only to claim the Sultanate back and then plunge it into another civil war. The powerful Jattabids traditionally remain in strong opposition towards the sultans from that point on. The Abbasids live through a similar crisis, and the Aghlabids have a part of their domain taken by a Frankish warrior-bishop, Bernard de Majorca, who forms a Christian state of Leptis magna in northern Africa. In these circumstances, the Tahmasbid Shia Caliphate lives the height of its glory as the most powerful Muslim state (but that would soon come to an unexpected end).
While most of the British Isles are relatively peaceful, in Ireland a great leader rises up as another hero of the Age, King Enri the Liberator, who casts down both the Scottish and Dehuebarth and by 996 unifies almost all of Ireland.
King Enri also entertains a very special guest. In 991, the Greek Orthodox republic of Amalfi conquers Rome, as its riches and influence hindered the republic's position in the Mediterranean. While the war was not waged on religious grounds, the Amalfians found themselves in control of the Papal State and hostility towards the Catholic head was unavoidable. The ope was ultimately forced to escape the city. Rather than take the hospitality of the Lotharingian King Guiges Karling, whom the pope did not hold in much regard, the lowborn, humble Pope Pelagius III chose exile in Cloyne, Desmond.
Sölvi Trönde proclaims himself King of Norway in 991 AD.

You're Best Character Writer of the Week.

Congratulations! I liked this latest update as well, remember to post in the threat in the general AAR forum with a successor in a week's time. :)
Surprising number of big blobs already - that lotharingia looks fearsome! Good to see you convert, wonder how Poland's drift from the pagan to the Christian world will effect it.
That Lotharingia is my primary concern right now when looking at the world, especially since it's Frankish and the Dutch and Italian cultures are being slowly replaced. I'd much prefer the HRE to actually be born, especially since this game is going to be converted.
Last time I tried playing a game like this, I've had a reborn Karling Francia take half Europe. Since then I've lost all hope of the Karling states turning out as they should.
A good update. Seems to me you should be considering picking up the smaller countries on your souther border, or, perhaps, Lithuania.
We'll be expanding a bit more soon. Those "smaller countries", however, are mostly just parts of Hungary. We did just win a war against them, kind of, so there you go. ^^
Nice AAR, I'm really enjoying it! I quite enjoyed the natural slow conversion to Christianity. Judging by that tasty looking Lithuania just on your doorstep, I think it's about due time that the Liths are forced to accept their inevitable destiny as a part of the Polish Empire! Besides, Lotharingia is looking a little to scary to push up against right now anyway.
Thank you.
I don't actually want to conquer all of Lithuania in CK2 since I'm hoping for some interesting decisions in EU4, perhaps forming the Commonwealth.
Definitely following this! I always enjoy seeing how Poland turns out in my games.
Thanks! Yeah, I guess Poland is quite interesting to watch concidering its position right between the Russian lands and the Catholic Europe. There are many directions in which things can go from there. :)

You're Best Character Writer of the Week.

Congratulations! I liked this latest update as well, remember to post in the threat in the general AAR forum with a successor in a week's time. :)
OMG, thanks! D: That came unexpected. I... I actually don't know who I could appoint, other than you. Out of AARs which are still going, I only follow yours at the moment. :p Now I'm gonna have to look around.
King Boleslaw I
Part 7: All Glory to the King​


King Boleslaw I
Boleslaw Piast, later one of the most successful kings in Polish history, was reportedly a child savant, mastering all his mentors’ teachings with ease, being well educated on matters of philosophy as well as administration and military leadership, but unmatched as a diplomat and charismatic by all accounts. When taking over the Kingdom in 996 AD, he felt as the whole realm felt with him that a time of hardship, but also of much glory was just ahead. Great expectations were placed upon him by all his subjects and as it turned out, he never disappointed except in his rather untimely death after a life spent in much part on battlefields.
Boleslaw I had a chance to prove his martial ability immediately after being crowned, having no chance to mourn his father when an invader sought to seize the opportunity he saw in the crown’s passing on to another King and rip some land off from the kingdom. The man was Lukacs a St Benedek, a Hungarian Tengri with the covert backing of Hungarian nobility and royal family members. With the a Tokmak family ruling Hungary shakingly at the time, they probably wanted to use the supposedly independent adventurer for their aims and incorporate Silesia into their domain without openly angering the Piasts.

Boleslaw I was known to ride into battle with his horsemen, leading from the front
Lukacs Host’s invasion of Silesia did not come to fruition because of its leader’s misplanning. Thinking he had more time than he did, he split up his warriors to siege several holdings at once, while Boleslaw reacted without hesitation. Only upon hearing of the King’s imminent arrival, Lukacs a St Benedek made an attempt to regroup his forces, and despite a partial success, he did not have the full strength he needed to prevail against Boleslaw. With just two battles in which the King crushed the invading force with ease, war turned into a hunt for fleeing remains of the enemy army.


The war over Silesia
Before even this short conflict could come to an end, however, King Boleslaw I received an urging plea for help. With his father’s policy of keeping relations with Austria and seeking opposition towards Lotharingia came Boleslaw’s wedding with Emma Aribonen, the sister of the Duke of Austria. By then, Lotharingia reclaimed Verona and, unsurprisingly if one looks in retrospect, decided to reconquer Austria itself. King Boleslaw I was so pulled into a war against mighty Lotharingia, the most powerful of European Kingdoms at the time. Marching at the head of his army for another war, he was determined to keep his honour as an ally but had little hope of anything good being accomplished there. Boleslaw was forced to play cat and mouse with the many Lotharingian armies throughout the Austrian lands, outmanoeuvring them and finally forcing a battle near Znojmo, where a part of the Lotharingian army roughly equal in size to the King’s was crushingly defeated. King Boleslaw took advantageous, defensible positions and forced the knights of Lotharingia into an attack which was nearly turned into slaughter by the end. However, Guiges I of Lotharingia had many more sizeable levies and Duke Gotzelo of Austria simply could not hold against them. The war ended in 997 AD, leaving Gotzelo Aribonen with Brabant (soon to be lost as well) and his Hungarian holdings, which he was forced into exile to.


The Battle of Znojmo
Fortunately for Boleslaw, nobody back home would blame him for the surrender, as all which was remembered was the spectacular victory at Znojmo and the fact that the realm itself did not suffer any tribute or humiliation by the victorious Lotharingia thanks to his stalwart diplomacy. The defeat was blamed entirely upon the Austrians, who could not hold even their most defensible, core holdings and gave them up by the end. In fact, many were impressed with the young King’s performance and graced him with the loyalty he would soon much need. Not a year later, the realm found itself in sudden peril with the arrival of Czcibor’s host. Czcibor, a son of Mieszko II’s brother, hoped to conquer Poland, starting from its very heart, Greater Poland. However bold, the plan to claim Greater Poland first would surely throw the rest of the realm into chaos if successful. Because Czcibor managed to sail his forces into the Greater Polish lands along the Vistula, King Boleslaw found himself unable to gather all his forces, which actually gave Czcibor a numerical advantage against the King. The one mistake the claimant made was siegeing the other major holdings of Greater Poland rather than focusing on Gniezno to trap the King in his residence, which allowed Boleslaw to flee and organise the forces coming to aid. Utilising a similar, slightly altered tactic from the war over Silesia, the King surprised his enemy by attacking quickly with the forces he brought to order in record speed, fighting separate battles against smaller parts of the divided invading force rather than gathering all his men for one decisive engagement.


The war against Czcibor's Host
After the conclusion of the war against Czcibor, the realm had some time to rest – but not the King. Boleslaw needed to once again aid Gotzelo Aribonen against a minor Hungarian noble who gathered his own host of men and sought to take back Pecs. Rather than marching his whole army, the King rode south with just his own retinues and personal levies, enough to charge an already weakened army of Hungarians and throw them into chaos. It would be a conflict otherwise barely worth mentioning, but it actually added to the King’s prestige and reputation as an undefeated leader, because he won a decisive battle with only a small force, losing as few as a dozen knights.


Two years later, in 1002, an opportunity dawned for something Boleslaw waited for and planned – a war in Iberia, where he wanted to repeat his father’s most praised achievements. Upon taking power over the Umayyad domain, the Jattabid Sultan sought to reinforce his position by achieving what the Umayyads could not and take Toledo from Castille. Boleslaw I reacted as soon as the news reached him and brought the whole strength of the Polish army to Toledo. He would soon find that Iberia isn’t just this mythical realm of glory he imagined. While the young queen Aldonza and her regency council greeted Boleslaw happily as their saviour from the Muslims, there were some among the nobles leading in the field who questioned the Polish King’s motives when bringing his vast armies to the Spanish soil. Some squabbles over the ultimate leadership of the defending forces erupted, resulting in Boleslaw taking his army and facing the Jattabids alone at Illescas. It was where his father and the King of Asturias once fought a grand battle as well. The Jattabids themselves did not operate with as many soldiers as the Umayyads before, having lost many during the internal struggles in the Sultanate. The Poles alone outnumbered them, and some records even claim that Boleslaw was ‘disappointed’ after the Muslims’ retreat despite his own men’s losses.

The Battle of Illescas
Boleslaw soon learned the dangers of leaving his realm undefended for such a lengthy campaign as well. Not long after Illescas, the King received a letter urging him to return, as he was needed to contain rising peasants. Bitter after his reception as well as convinced that the Castillians can handle the war after his victory, he took all his warriors with him as he travelled back. Peasants rose up en masse in Kuyavia and, when unopposed, inspired some smaller revolts to join them, hoping this time for milder terms of the feudal contracts. Still, when the King’s army came back in early 1004 AD, the rebels were crushed and order restored to the realm.


Fighting paesants was not the King's proudest moment
The King found himself caught between two groups of influential nobles of opposite convictions. One voiced their will of returning to the abandoned Iberian conflict, hungry for prestige or captives. The other were those affected by the peasant uprisings in some way, demanding that Boleslaw does not engage in the faraway conflict any further, arguing that his duty as the realm’s sovereign is to protect it and keep his part of the feudal oaths. King Boleslaw I conceived a simple way to please both groups and bring them together rather than risk discontent among his most powerful subjects. Instead of continuing the war in Iberia, he looked right past his own eastern border, where vast pagan lands had yet to be claimed for Christianity.


Always interested in a good Polish AAR.
Thanks a lot! :)
You are doing really well. I liked that side excursion to Iberia.
Thank you. I tried to make it interesting, but was worried it would come out as a filler considering my realm doesn't really gain from such a distant conflict. Such occurences certainly have a place in history, though.
The war for the Baltic begins.