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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

TomosCaerllion

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Start: Count Mauregato of Astorga, Kingdom of Asturias, 769 Charlemagne start.
Count Mauregato is a bastard son of King Alfonso I of Asturias and a lowly Moorish serf. He is repeatedly overlooked during succession in favour of cousins or uncles with 'purer' genealogies. Mauregato has no great skills but growing up with the contempt of his peers and being disowned by his own family puts him in a great underdog situation. Of course, as a bastard son of a Moorish serf he will unlikely be remembered well by history, and IOTL he is remembered as 'Mauregatus the Usurper'.

Aims:

A: To seize the throne of Asturias, bringing the throne back to the direct line of Alfonso I, at any cost.

B: To survive the onslaughts of Moors and Franks, ensuring that by the end of the game* there is a descendant of Mauregato that still has lands to rule.**

*Either 1444 or when the game gets stale.
**B is harder than you'd think. In my private playthrough I got holy-warred out of Asturias and had to console over to a cousin with one county in Gascony, which then proceeded to fall into Umayyad hands.


Ambition: To rebuild the legacy of the Visigothic Kingdom and the Roman Empire, establishing a Mediterranean Holy Roman Empire and completing the reconquista.


Index:
Chapter I: Half-Blood Prince (769-788)
Chapter II: Against the Tide (789-807)
Chapter III: Driven to Madness (807-830)
Chapter IV: Road to Navarra (831-841)
Chapter V: Navarrese Debt Crisis (842-872)
Chapter VI: Kingdom of the Sea (872-914)

Geopolitical Update: The World in 922
Chapter VII: Britonnic Papacy (914-931)
Interlude: Carolingian Succession
Chapter VIII: Old Half-Hand (932-949)
Chapter IX: Interregnum (949-962)
Chapter X: King Arthur (962-983)
Chapter XI: Ugues the Regent (983-999)
Geopolitical Update: Millenium
Chapter XII: Match Made in Heaven (1000-1009)
Chapter XIII: Kingmaker (1010-)

Kings of Asturias:
Agila (1009-)

Kings of Asturias:
Mauregato the Shadow (788-807)
Theodoricho the Strange (807-831)
Berengario the Scholar (831-832)
The Catholic Kingdom of Asturias ends in 832.

Kings of Castile:
Theodoricho the Strange (820-831)
Berengario the Scholar (831-878)
Liuvericho (878-892)
Agila Half-Hand (892-898).
The Kingdom of Castile is revoked by the Emperor of the Franks in 898.

Kings of Navarra:
Berengario the Scholar (841-878)
Liuvericho (878-892)
Agila Half-Hand (892-951)
Arturo the Wise (951-983)
Agila II (983-1009)
The Kingdom of Navarra becomes an Imperial Viceroyalty.


Kings of the Britons:
Agila Half-Hand (933-951)
Arturo the Wise (951-983)
Agila II (983-1009)
The Kingdom of Navarra becomes an Imperial Viceroyalty.
 
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TomosCaerllion

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Chapter I: The Half-Blood Prince

Chapter I: Half-Blood Prince (769-788)​
I am Mauregatus the Usurper, Mauregatus the Shadow, the Bastard, the Moor, the Murderer, the Truce Breaker, the Tyrant, the Jew Hater. My enemies write many evil things about me, and I won't deny that much of it is true. They forget, however, that I am also son of Alffonso the Catholic, and the inheritor in the true line of kings, unlike the cousins and in-laws from whom I seized my crown. I am the Moor Slayer, the Host to Princes, my progeny are in-laws of King Charles the Great, I have been friends to more than one Bishop of Rome (some pious, some infamous), and in the last days of the world it is me, and me alone, that stands between the plump and comfortable few that pen my vices and the Moorish devils that would have them toil as serfs.

I am Mauregatus, shield of Christendom, son of Kings, true sovereign of the Visigoths.


When I was merely a count, exiled by my cousins to the hills of Astorga, I conceived many plots (and a son, Theodoricho). I was not a popular bastard, if such a thing can be, and I spent many years trying to convince my peers, through all manner of carousing, that I was one with whom they could conduct business. I soon tired of this charade after many nights alone, and determined that I would not need a silver tongue in such dark times: there were thieves, thugs and murderers that could do my bidding and needed only silver. In this manner did I plot against Count Uermudo of Asturias de Santillana. Twice ruffians tried to kidnap the man, and twice my involvement went unknown, but once they failed to kill the man they announced to the world that I had attempted the murder of my kinsman. I was a marked man, and henceforth met with the blame for all murders and scheming in the land. Strangely, a dark reputation worked far better than my previous attempts at wooing with a smile, and many noble princes with dark desires now come to me when they wish to see them manifested. Some I reveal to the world if the Prince is one of my enemies, since everyone believes with ease that Mauregatus the Shadow knows all dark things.

During this time I succeeded in taking by force the county of Asturias de Santillana from my still-living cousin Uermudo, with the assistance of Lombard mercenaries. In the same year, my daughter Egilona was born and Charles the Great conquered the Lombards. Uermudo was promptly compensated with another county by the King, who had follies of his own to conduct also. My foolish cousin, playing at King, attempted to follow the deeds of my father and recapture territory from the Musselmen. For seven years he battled in Navarra, trying to seize land from the Musselman. Thousands of Christians died for his vanity project, which the poets praise so highly. The man who shattered the fighting youth of the country praised for crippling his crown, while I who held it together in the shattered state in which he left it, am maligned. Granted, I too tried my hand in the Navarrese wars, but for sounder reasons. The ambitious Emir of Cadiz had induced a rebellion, and the lands of Najera were ripe for the taking. Unfortunately, the Moorish host entered the province and slaughtered my armies on campaign, leaving only a handful of Lombard mercenaries alive to report the defeat. Unlike my cousin, I knew when to end a failed campaign and immediately came to terms.

My cousin Uermudo, now Count of Burgos, challenged me to a duel for a perceived slight on his honour caused by my seizure of his lands.


The brute wounded me in the course of the duel, and I vowed my revenge. I would have to wait only a year before my own thugs succeeded in killing the brute. The pleasure of exacting revenge was well worth the discovery of my own complicity, and I feel it to be righteous revenge against a man who had sought to kill me in a duel. My means may be less honourable, but the principle is the same. My daughter Theodora was born as I recovered from my wounds.


The following year I seized the county of Viscaya and extended my lands to become almost as powerful as the inept king, who mocks my Moorish lineage yet feels no shame in marrying a Moor - the vile Queen Badra. For my murder and scheming all began to call me the Shadow, and I am told that many children eat their vegetables due to the threat of my coming.

I have been accused of the murder of my cousin, the King Aurelio, and I must confess that I did try. His ultimate death, however, was wholly natural. If my thugs had been involved, dear reader, you would surely know, as they have all the subtlety of a bull in heat. The death of the proud and vain glorious king was a blessing, however, as the throne passed to an infant daughter, Theodora. I bided my time, as could request no additional moneys from the Jewry yet, and it took time to muster enough gold to support my Lombards for a whole campaign. In the meantime there were dark deeds being done. Gascony fell to the Musselmen, and Armagnac was settled by desert tribesmen known as Bedouin. The lord sent a plague of typhoid against the Moors for this crime, and the lands of the infant Queen were not spared. At the same time I was blessed with another son, Suneario.

Theodora was as dark as cowsh*t and remained under the influence of her Moorish mother Badra, who many suspected of being a practicing Muslim despite her baptism as a Christian. None would defend her when I and my Lombards came to seize the crown. When the girl was placed in my prison, and the crown placed on my head, the natural order was restored and the line returned to a son of Alffonso the Catholic, not some distant cousin with 'purer' blood. The peasantry of Leon rose up against her at the same time as I commenced my war for the Crown, and they would later accept vassalage under my righteous rule.

I reigned, a Bastard on the Throne, the King of Asturias, head of the House of Betotez.

Next time: Mauregato gets a cool new hat, the Pope's corpse gets put on trial, Charlemagne is crowned, marriage matches are made as the princes and princesses grow up, the Asturians fight amongst themselves and struggle to cling on as the Umayyads pour down on them.
 
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TomosCaerllion

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Chapter II

Chapter II: Against the Tide (790-807)

As King I married my chosen heir, my second son Theodoricho, to Duchess Adelgundis of Galicia.

The Kingdom of Galicia is a hastily fabricated crown worn by the deposed Queen Theodora in her stubborn refusal to hand over my inheritance; for although I wore the crown, the Christian lands of Asturias had not been reunited yet. The spring of 790 would see a great onslaught of Moorish aggression, however, and the capital of Astorga was lost to me, as was the entire Duchy of Galicia to the woman who claimed to be its Queen. Devoid of her lands, I had the now useless Adelgundis disposes of, so that I might find a better match for my son - a match I found in the eccentric Countess of Lombardy. I have learnt that I can trust Lombards, and a secure powerbase outside of volatile Hispania can only be a blessing for my grandsons.

How did my vassals thank me for the expensive and tiresome effort of keeping back the tide of Muslim invaders? They first asked me to lower taxes, and when I refused, a great petition was presented to me back by the threat of violence. I had no choice to accept such a crippling blow to my kingship that to this day my subjects are autonomous and I have lost what little real control I could muster. Still, I make my plans and I trust it to my heir Theodoricho to reverse this setback and re-establish the authority of the crown.

Following this shame, the Duchy of Viscaya was lost, by armies with commanders selected by 'nobility' rather than skill, as I would have done if I had the power to appoint them following the shameful charter of 794. In this time also, the sorrowful news reached me that my late friend, Pope Adrian, had suffered the fate of having his corpse exhumed, subjected to a mockery of a trial, moved, re-exhumed and dumped in the Tiber.

Luckily, his monstrous successor did not live much longer before being replaced by the honourable Pope Sixtus IV, whom I had the pleasure of visiting in 805 during my pilgrimage to Rome.

I discovered one day that my own son and appointed heir, Theodoricho, had been plotting against my life. He relented when I made my polite request that he stop, but it is good to see that the fight has not been extinguished from my progeny, though they were raised as princes and not as black sheep.

This would be the last black deed before the great pious turn, in which the tide of defeat was finally stemmed and I began to court a reputation for piety, through pilgrimage and study. A great deal of improvement it did for my reputation too, as my vassals became far more content. It is always beneficial for a ruler to appear pious.

The pious turn, where foul deeds were no longer required as I finally grafted together again the state of Asturias, successfully joined my dynasty to that of Charles the Great of Francia, and with his aid turned back an invasion by the Moors into Leon, began with the great coronation of 800.

Two years after this great coronation, a great victory was won over the Moors. With the help of the Frankish armies, they turned back from my Kingdom and paid vast sums of gold for a peace.

A time of great political change was seen in the early years of the ninth century, and I am sure that my family are to benefit. Although the south of Frankish Italy fell into the hands of Swedish Vikings, it soon fell apart as Greek adventurers and byzantine conquests seized most of the heathen exclave.

Upon the death of Charlemagne, his kingdoms were divided between his sons, two of whom had grown up as Princes in my court and had married my daughters. Although the one, Waltgaud of Aquitaine, would sadly die before my daughter could grant him an heir, the other Avremar, still rules as King of East Francia and has had many daughters by my own daughter. I sincerely hope that they may add a son to carry on the lineage, and so that a Visigothic prince may rule over lands in distant Germania. One day, perhaps, the progeny of Theodoricho may marry the daughters of Avremar and in so doing establish Betotez as one of the foremost dynasties in Christendom.


The Kingdom of Avremar.


The Kingdom of Waltgaud.

The remaining counties of Asturias were reconquered, and the last, Burgos, would fall in 806. The arrogant Sultan of the Umayyads, however, ignored the reconstitution of a united Asturian kingdom and declared himself to be ruler of all Hispania, including even Christian lands in his supposed Islamic Empire.


The Kingdom of Asturias, and the Umayyad Empire.
Also includes last Galician enclave, conquered 806.
Sad tidings continue even in the good times, however, and I discovered of late that my daughter, Theodora, has been letched upon by the perverse Count of Verona. To add further insult to the shame, he refused to legitimize the bastard, treating my own daughter as my father had treated my mother - with contempt for the honour of her and her offspring.


Lupo and my daughter are safely back in my court now, and I shall ensure the proper education of the young Lupo and hope to one day secure his future position with the grant of lands, to afford him with an income and dignity.

Thus ends the 'Confessiones' of Mauregatus Rex, for the King died three months later on 7 April, 807. At the time of his death, Asturias was a united kingdom, but despite his efforts consisted of only four counties. He also died while Asturias de Santillana was being ravaged by 800 Geats.

 
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TomosCaerllion

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Thanks for the feedback.

@siempie78: I would be tempted to convert, since Mauregato was half-Moorish anyway, so could realistically worm between the two spheres. But I worry that being subject to the Umayyads would be less dynamic, if a little safer, and it'll ruin my chances of building a Visigothic HRE.

@RedTemplar: It's actually vanilla, but I was really pleased to see such a nice bit of flavour. Pope Adrian was a wicked priest, so I imagine that (and maybe some time constraint) must have been the trigger. Disappointingly Sweden will lose all of Sicily apart from the Duchy of Capua by the end of the next chapter, but I have my fingers crossed for the possibility of a Norse enclave in the Med. I'm a big (lurking) fan of your Lombard AAR too, btw.
 

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That's vanilla? Go figure... I played quite a few "test" runs before starting my AAR and never saw that event... I guess it's based on some specific trigger that never happened for me? But then again mine went all kinds of alt-history on me, as Charlemagne never formed the HRE and died of sudden illness quite before his time.

And thanks! I'm having a lot of fun with that AAR, and after all the work I put into Iberia in that campaign, it's great to sit back and watch someone else's journey through Spain. Enjoying this!
 

TomosCaerllion

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Chapter III

Chapter III: Driven to Madness (807-830)

Bold Italics: Translator's notes.

The reign of King Theodoricho began with great promise. The Vikings that raided his shore were repelled, and the Lombard mercenaries raised for the purpose were then used in capturing the Bedouin county of Armagnac from a local Muslim warlord independent of the Umayyad Badsha. There are many accounts of the personal bravery and heroism of Theodoric in battle during the early years of his reign.



The onset of his madness is commonly associated with the disastrous battle of Bayonne and the death of his mother, Creusa, which both occurred in 813.



Although Theodoric did keep an autobiographical account of his reign, in a manner presumably inspired by the 'Confessiones' attributed to his father, they had been written in basic code to obstruct their contents. Although the code is not complex, being only an alphabet devised by Theodoric and being written Boustrophedon (winding, 'as the ox plows'), it has only recently been deciphered due to the stigma associated with the volume as a 'work of the devil'. The account is heavily laden with the occultic peculiarities devised and believed by Theodoric, and the often lucid account can at other times diverge into rambling nonsense.

Asturias was much reduced from my father's time. Though I have delivered on all the promises I made before Ehulhul in the bleakness of the night. When monsters from the sea attacked the shores, I promised blood. Though the amphibians [Geats, the Viking raiders] fled into the waves before I could slay them, or to make a goblet of their skulls, I did wet my blade with the lifeblood of the bedu of Armagnac. I promised blood, I delivered blood.

When Leon was lost to the great barbarian, and my mother was taken ill and died, I fell into mourning and anger. I replaced my incompetent advisor with my horse, who did a better job.



I retired to my castle in Asturias de Santillana. I studied the stars and the world, observing omens and discovering secret knowledge from the books of the ancients. I visited the Bedu in their tents, I learnt the mysteries of the orient, and I spent my nights in devoted worship of the moon. After forty days and forty nights I found myself bare in the woods of Armagnac, I found a rock in a clearing and lay upon it. I gazed at the moon; at first beautiful I watched as its form changed before me and became a face. The face, fair and womanly, turned monstrous and great and called my name. It christened me the Wise and named me Solomon. I bowed before it and found myself clothed in ancient robes of royalty and wearing the crown of thorns. I drank the blood of Christ and became divine. The god told me his name, and his name was Ehulhul. From that day I have observed the rituals to which I have been entrusted and have dutifully worshipped in secret to please my master. My master promised me sovereignty over lands and people, and said that I shall be twice crowned.

Omitted section on the 'Rituals of Ehulhul' and the types of solar eclipse.

The lord Ehulhul spread discord among my enemies, splitting the Muslim kings and weakening their power. As two men fought to be Badsha and the Christians of Valencia fought in revolt, I marched my men south, deep into Muslim territory. Their divided armies were crushed under my heel and by the summer of 820 I had been crowned as King of Castile. I moved my capital to Burgos and announced the dawning of a new age.



I fulfilled a promise of my father by granting gainful employ to my bastard nephew, Lupo.



And I did not allow my pride to cloud my vision, and recognised this achievement as the gift of Ehulhul, whom I continued to reverently observe in my worship.


AAAAAOOOOOOO!!!!!

I continued my campaigns, not wishing to halt while gains could be made, and expanded my realm into Galicia and to the border of Valencia. I even recovered the land of Navarra, after which my preceding kings had lusted for decades. All these deeds and accomplishments would surely have ensured the recognition of Theodoric as Theodoric the Great, and maybe the love of my people would be great enough for Solomon the Wise to induct the worthy into the chosen followers of Ehulhul.



Now that grim-visag'd war had smoothed his wrinkled front, I turned my efforts away from war and towards love. Ehulhul had instructed that I conquer the women of europe with my seed as I had conquered the lands of Castile, Galicia and Navarra with my sword. I seduced two of the daughters of the King of Italy, and welcomed my niece, Queen Ermengardis of Essex, into my bed. She had grown up in the court of Charlemagne and had the most unappealing Frankish accent, but her stern look, fiery hair and blue eyes more than compensated for her unusual style of speech.

Omitted section on the nations and races of Francia and of the relative levels of civilisation amongst various western kingdoms.

Peace wearied me too, however, as the avarice of the nobles became increasingly apparent. They would spend great amounts of wealth on glorifying themselves and increasing their own vanity. I ensured a return to an Age of Silver by ordering the seizure of their precious metal trinkets, and implementing a new wholesome mode of currency that would induce a new austere virtue amongst the nobility. The Turnip.



I must have become too contented with peace, for the lord Ehulhul awoke me with a great calamity. When hard-won Castile was lost to the Badsha, I had spent the entirety of my enormous wealth, borrowed at great interest from the Jewry I had welcomed back at the beginning of my reign, and was then forced to do as my father and drove them out of the country by seizing their wealth for my own. All this and more could not stop the heathen. Ehulhul and Jesus abandoned me both. My counsel was ineffective, and dogged me for peace. They were reluctant to aid me even in defending Christendom. When I was ultimately forced to concede and found my armies slaughtered, my coffers empty, my Lombards deserted, my Bretons deserted, all my mercenaries gone... I did what I had to do. I showed my contempt for the idle and fat aristocrats that pretend at being my servants by dismissing my Chancellor and giving my royal mount a second consulship.



What Ehulhul giveth, Ehulhul may taketh away. I pray only that I may live long enough to deliver vengeance upon the Badsha, that I may offer his body and his blood to Ehulhul, that I may drink of a goblet made from his skull and that I may unite the lands of Hispania under the eternal rule of Ehulhul's chosen.



Following the loss of Castile, which Theodoric had attempted to establish as the centre of his realm, the kingdom was in to disarray. The capital hastily moved to the Bedouin county of Armagnac, a largely Sunni region the other side of the Pyrenees; such was the feeling of insecurity that the court needed a mountain range between itself and the rest of the kingdom. Theodoric found himself with no funds, no fighting men to call upon, a kingdom in chaos and himself highly unpopular among his vassals due to his now widely-known bouts of lunacy.
 
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Michaelangelo

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Those are some rather strange events you got. Appointing a horse chancellor and using turnips as currency. I suppose that seems logical to someone who appears to be a werewolf. :D

Your Muslim neighbours are relentless. Hopefully they'll fracture soon.
 

TomosCaerllion

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I actually got the 'Werewolf' event multiple times too. Theodoric was a very active lunatic. Unfortunately he died rather soon when I went back into the game, so there's not much more to his story...

I'll update shortly with Theodoric's peaceful natural death (quite amazing when there were multiple plots against his life, and he spent much of his life fighting in wars), and the early reign of his son. I'm going to move to a more defensive strategy, swearing fealty to the Franks, and trying to build a powerful Christian realm first since my best chance of survival currently seems to be crossing the Pyrenees.
 

TomosCaerllion

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Chapter IV: Road to Navarra (831-841)

From the personal annals of King Berengario I:

In the year 831, in the month of May, the land of Galicia was lost by Christendom. Even with the aid of Franks the armies of my father were vanquished. Although he would die still having not surrendered the fight, he had no armies and no funds with which to fight in earnest, and nothing stood in the way of Moorish armies as they occupied town after town. The battle of Mondonedo in 831 was the decisive moment of the war.



My father, the good but bewildered King Theodoricho, spent his last months is a stressful cycle of insanity and despair, until one day age caught up on him and passed to the Lord.



My reign began ignominiously as the defence of Galicia had to be conceded in my first weeks.



Raised as I was amongst the Catholic Bedouin of Armagnac, many accused me of siding with the enemy, of being a secret Mussalman, of being a witch like my father. All, of course, have been proven untrue by my subsequent piety, but some in my realm, possessed of moral perversity and believing all lies told to them, began to plot rebellion. I was unaware of my duplicitous vassal, the Duke of Navarra, at the time and so continued as best I could - at the age of fourteen - to work with my regency council to secure the realm. It was decided that our cousins, the Emperors of Francia, were the foremost kings of Christendom and ruled over a great many lands, although they had once ruled over many more, would be an appropriate protector for the beleaguered crown of Castile (the crown of Asturias having fallen to the Moors). There would be no shame in a king bowing before a greater lord, since the lord was possessed of such power and virtue. I offered my service in return for protection.



Now within the realm of the Franks, my upstart vassal Alvaro launched his coup, wishing to establish himself and Navarra as the foremost Catholic power in Hispania. With the assistance of mercenaries, and the now much-trusted Christian Bedouin of Armagnac, I recovered my lands from the rebellious Alvaro.



During the war I was recognised to be capable enough to govern in my own right, without the aid of regents, and experienced my first taste of battle at the age of only sixteen. Victorious, I placed Alvaro in my prisons, and there he perished.



At this time my cousin, Garci, inherited the Imperial Kingship of the Franks, and I married a princess of Asturian blood, my own kinswoman, the beautiful Theodora. In Italy, now independent of the Franks and divided between Franco-Lombards in the north, the Papal States in the centre, the Byzantines of Magna Graecia, and two free counties inhabited by northmen.


The Norse culture and Germanic faith have managed to survive in the Kingdom of Sicily, but for how long?

In the northern kingdom, my mother Aurona had her rightful lands seized by Princess Desiderata, Duchess of Milan. My Italian inheritance may have been seized, but I must remain grateful to the lord for the good health of my family, my mother's long life and the protection he maintains over us in the face of relentless Moorish attacks. Perhaps one day the County of Lombardy may return to the Betotez, but in an age of misery it would be wrong to spill the blood of Christians over petty power-squabbles, when the fate of Christendom itself hangs in the balance.

Contemplating my situation I devoted much time to the reading of the Gospels, and walked the Way of Saint James to see the relics of Santiago, which had miraculously survived the fall of Galicia and now rested in Moorish territory. On my return, having seen many lands lost the enemy, including my supposed heartland of Castile, I called a council of my ministers. Our lands now lay elsewhere, the capital at Armagnac, the core of Navarra, and a few coastal enclaves that we still held, were what constituted my kingdom. My claim to lordship of Castile rang hollow following its swift loss after my father's reconquest. In a humble ceremony at Armagnac, I was there crowned as King of Navarra. Navarra, where the bloodiest battles of my father's reconquests were fought; Navarra, where Catholic worship remains pure and pious, where the wealth of my Kingdom lies, and upon which the safety of Christendom depends; there could be no worthier Crown for a pious servant of Christ.

 
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Michaelangelo

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Aw, I was hoping for more crazy antics from our favourite werewolf. :p

Hopefully being a vassal of the Franks will keep the Moorish hordes from swallowing you up. I guess now comes a lot of patient waiting to reclaim what was lost.
 

TomosCaerllion

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That's the plan, although a terribly timed AI war against me means that I miss a great opportunity for expansion in the next update. In fact, in 20 years time from the last chapter, I'm no longer even the most powerful Catholic in Iberia...

I was also having crossed fingers for the possibility of befriending the Pope enough to get a Papal Invasion against Italy, to use as a powerbase for a reconquista, but the Popes never seem to like me all that much, and the Lombards are getting along very well with the Papacy (probably due to all the Italian cardinals) so that doesn't work out either.

About to post it now.
 

TomosCaerllion

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Chapter V

Chapter V: Navarrese Debt Crisis (844-872)

From 'Berengario the Scholar: Spain's Philosopher King' by Robert Sanchez-Hughes (2008):

Lupo's slow and cautious reign is said to have taken off after he began to have an affair with the courtier Guthela, daughter of the HaNagid Steward, a Sephardi Jew who managed the finances of the crown for a period under the reign of Theodoricho, but was expelled from the realm during the great expulsion of Jewry during the failed defence of Castile. The young woman, a Christian often reviled as a 'half Jew' by her opponents in the court is said to have formed a deep bond with the king, encouraged his religious studies and ended his habit of being content, filling him with more dynamic energy. Of their lust a son was born, named Lupo, who shall come to be one of the contenders as the heir to the crown of Navarra.



Berengario's religious studies would have him recognised as a Theologian, and he would come to be known as Berengario 'the Scholar' even after his later crimes against the church. He built a new Bishopric named Castelnau, and fostered good relations with the Pope. prudently believing that il Papa would be a useful ally to have in times of crisis. He was wrong.

In the year of our lord, 859, news reached the court in Armagnac of a great rebellion in the Umayyad kingdom. A man named Suleyman had emerged from the deserts of the Maghreb leading an army of zealots and vowed to bring down the Andalusian dynasty, which he proclaimed to be decadent.



Hoping to take advantage of the unrest, which would allow the Lombard King of Italy to seize Barcelona, and Christians in Astorga to gain their freedom and that of the other lands of Asturias, Berengario prepared his armies. Unfortunately, his plans would be cut short by the Frankish King of Aquitaine and Germany, who desired the capital of Armagnac for himself. Berengario's kinsman, Ragnald of Vienne, would refuse to come to his aid and even joined in with the opposition, allying himself with the Germans.



The war was won in 861, at the cost of more than a little blood and treasure, but Berengario hoped he would have enough left of both to bring holy war against the Muslims and capture the land of Aragon for his kingdom. Much to the annoyance of Berengario, the Emperor of the Franks succeeded in recapturing Castile, but distributed it amongst his Frankish vassals and kept Burgos for himself rather than handing it to the Visigoths to whom it belonged. As for Berengario's war for Aragon, it would end swiftly as the combined forces of Islam came crushing down upon his armies. Outnumbered and exhausted, his army was slaughtered and the campaign was lost.



The Umayyads demanded much treasure and the crown of Navarra found itself hounded by creditors, with a deficit of more than 300 pounds of gold, with the same again owed to Jewish moneylenders.

Calling upon the Pope, attempting to cash in his favour, Berengario requested that the Holy Father grant him financial aid for his continued defence of Christendom against the Moors, but found his request rejected.



Out of desperation, unable to pay any of his expenses and finding his realm falling into chaos, the King turned to the Navarrese clergy, who had grown wealthy over the years, particularly under the patronage of Berengario's pious reign. Churches were raided for their gold and silver, valuable estates seized and clergymen were imprisoned for fabricated crimes. Bishop Friednand was even forced to pay a ransom for his own release, to provide the last injection of funds that Berengario needed to return to the black.



His accounts may have been black once again, but many believed his soul to be black due to his crimes against holy mother Church, and in the year 864 Berengario 'the Scholar' of Navarra, the Theologian-King, was excommunicated by the Pope.



Berengario would eventually stabilise the realm and amass enough gold to assuage the Pope's objections, issuing a declaration of repentance and paying over two hundred pounds of gold to the Church to remedy his errors, but the period of the Navarrese Debt Crisis left him hated by vassal and lord alike, and if it were not for his close relations with the Emperor of Francia, he could easily have seen his lands taken from him.

Map of Christendom, 872 A.D.:
 
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Stuyvesant

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He also died while Asturias de Santillana was being ravaged by 800 Geats.
I misread that as 'being ravished by 800 Geats' and for a second thought Asturias was a woman very free with her affections. :p

Anyway, on to what was actually written, instead of what I thought I saw. I'm enjoying this story so far. You have an easy style to follow and unlike many AARs, we're nowhere near at a point where you're comfortably crushing everyone around you. It doesn't hurt, of course, that you have had some memorable rulers to work with. :)
 

TomosCaerllion

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Thanks again, guys. Not being terribly successful has actually made this AAR more fun to play and write too. Thanks to the Umayyads, I've not had enough rest to let the gameplay get stale, or enough breathing space to expand to critical mass. Losing really is fun, although it does make me very jealous whenever I see a large Christian power in Spain in other AARs. :p

@stuyvesant: You're not the only one... I have had to be careful while writing 'ravaged' as I actually have a bad habit of freudian-slipping my way into 'ravished'.

@RedTemplar: I hope your exams went well! I'm in a similar boat now with essay deadlines, stopping me from satisfying my CK2 cravings.
 

TomosCaerllion

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Chapter VI

Chapter VI: Kingdom of the Sea (872-914)

'The Navarrese Kingdom of the Sea' by Robert Sanchez-Hughes, chapter taken from 'Studies in the Early Medieval West'.

Three kings pass in this period. Berengario dies having once again bankrupted the state on a failed dream, to be followed by Liuvericho, who is sometimes called unremarkable but begins the process by which the Visigoths take to the sea - which they do with great success which continues into the reign of Agila (who tends to get most of the credit for the seizure of Atlantic coastlands). The world in which these developments take place is, of course, chaotic. Berengario dies during the Frankish civil war, and 872 sees the collapse of the Abbasid Caliphate and the fracturing of the Islamic world.



The Passing of Berengario:

As soon as Berengario had the power, he indulged once again in ambitions of Spanish reconquest, failed miserably and saw his armies and mercenaries routed entirely.



The only benefit of Berengario's ambitions was the continued development of a highly militarised elite and a large class of adventurer-soldiers. The continued military competition provided ample opportunity for mercenaries and nobles to make their fortune and forge a reputation, despite the high risk to their lives. State funds going almost entirely into an aggressive funding of mercenaries means that the Navarrese fortifications during this period are comparitevly small and underdeveloped, whereas elsewhere in Europe the centres of feudal power attracted artisans and markets, creating the nucleus of new towns. In Navarra, this process is not seen, and royal forts and palaces are entirely unremarkable, sometimes more meagre than even the lower nobles of Francia or humble Sheikhs of Andalusia.



Out, out, brief candle!

Succeeding a mediocre inheritance from his father, King Liuvericho brought enough of his own wealth to the royal coffers to balance the books and begin preparations for new campaigns. Liuvericho was skeptical of any campaign against the Umayyads, in the light of recent failures, but required a war in order to cement his legitimacy and find a use for the vast armed contingent in Navarrese society, for whom war had become a way of life. In 882 the inspiration for this campaign presented itself. A Viking warlord, named Alfr the Conqueror, had seized the Welsh kingdoms of Dyfed and Powys. In the Welsh court, a daughter of Liuvericho was living as he bride of the Welsh king and was taken as one of the spoils of war by the Viking Alfr.



Liuvericho swore revenge and began plans for the conquest of Brittany, under the pretext of serving the Emperor of Francia as a marcher-lord but really to gain an ideal position from which to launch a campaign of conquest and revenge - the ultimate goal being the destruction of the Viking Kingdom of Dyfed.

At this time there were also many movements questioning god's favour, with heresies springing up on the battled edges of Christendom, principally in occupied Hispania and beleaguered Britannia. A large uprising in England installed a Lollard Heresiarch as the ruler of Leicester, who infact controlled much of the historic kingdom of Mercia. Similar uprisings also occurred in 'Middle Britain' in the lands of Lothian and Northumbria. In the east, exposure to the Catholic Church and the cetralisation of political power under the Ilmenian Rus did not inspire conversion, but adaption. Inspired by the structure and organisation of the Roman Church, the Slavic rulers of the Rus declared the foundation of an organised pagan Church, denounced by the Pope as 'the Church of Satan' but successful in uniting the Slavs under its guidance. The question of Lollard heresy and Catholic failures would become more and more important to the Navarrese Visigoths as they came into ever increasing contact with the English Lollards.



Liuvericho would successfully subjugate the Bretons, who were divided after a coup and simultaneously defending against would-be Viking conquerors.



Liuvericho didn't have long to celebrate his victory, however, or to continue his campaign into the British Isles, as he would fall dead just two years later. Although his reign was not short, his youth and the relative quiet of his reign - mostly devoted to acquiring the funds for campaigning and preparing for a campaign across the sea to Britanny, have left the reign of Liuvericho with a feeling of brevity. He laid the groundwork, however, for the successes in the reign of Agila, and his sizeable wealth would be used to great effect in the close-run Navarrese War of Independence.



As soon as Agila's regency ended and he could act as an adult, he brought war to the Britons of Kernow, who were now ruled by Irish conqueror-kings from Dublin, and had only one ally to call upon, they were soon defeated. That ally was the Saxon King of Wessex, who Agila would remember.



Navarrese War of Independence

Having freely relinquished the largely honorific title of King of Castile, the Navarrese kings were clearly now taken to be easily swayed by threats of force and the Emperor of the Franks foolishly demanded that they relinquish all kingship and accept the Frankish Emperor as King of Navarra. Finding himself at war with his cousin, the Emperor of Francia, King Agila was in a difficult situation only slightly mitigated by his ability to hire large quantities of mercenaries and the presence of Viking invaders in Provence.



He secured a white peace, as the Emperor agreed to call off the revocation temporarily so that he may focus on the Viking incursions. No longer trusting his Frankish overlords, King Agila went on the offensive, declaring his intention to establish Navarra as a Kingdom independent of Francia. Despite the distraction in the south, the Franks recovered quickly and outnumbered the Navarrese significantly. Having at least 15,000 men in their armies, whereas the Navarrese could only muster less than 9,000 at great expense. The Navarrese managed to even the odds by taking advantage of the sheer size of the Frankish empire. The Navarrese consolidated their forces and fought a number of small battles in Aquitaine, hunting down smaller armies as they headed towards the Emperor's mustering grounds. By taking out bands of a few thousand at a time, Agila needed only to wait for the Frankish main force to strike at his capital lands and pursue them. Catching them in Blaye, on the mouth of the Gironde, King Agila won the decisive battle of the campaign. Occupying the French crown lands and paying for the upkeep of his armies largely through the ransom of captured Dukes and Nobles (including the Emperor himself, who was foolishly ransomed by the King, rather than forcing the captive king to agree a favourable peace), the campaign was eventually won.



The fact that God had allowed the foremost secular ruler in Christendom to be defeated by armies that had failed to defeat the Muslims did not go unnoticed. Clearly something was wrong in the spiritual life of Catholicism, and many were tempted to join heresies. Agila even considered establishing a new, more holy, Papacy in the British Isles, but failed to find a Bishop willing to take the position.

Vikings and Visigoths

The Free Navarrese took to the sea and continued the campaigns started by Liuvericho. Agila opened the campaign with a great ceremony on the Breton coast, in which he sat upon a throne as the tides lapped around at ankle-level and the local Bishops assembled to decorate him as 'His Sacred Majesty, Agila, Lord of the Kingdom of the Sea, Sovereign of Navarra, Ruler of Lands and of the Sea, Duke of Britanny and of Cornwall, King of the Britons.'

His pretensions established, he launched a campaign in Britannia, conquering Glamorgan and then Wessex.



Poised and ready for his conquest of his father's arch-enemy, Alfr the Conqueror, Agila launched the completion of his Britannic campaigns against the Vikings of Dyfed, who had already lost Powys to the Welsh but were not yet fully defeated. Alfr, now an old man, had his kingdom seized, his armies destroyed and his lands all lost. Destitute, he returned to the sea, leaving Britain for ever and, it is assumed, dying soon after. Agila kept the new Welsh territories for himself and installed Visigothic nobles and clergymen in positions of power across the newly conquered lands.



Agila now found himself King of Navarra, 'the Kingdom of the Sea', a Kingdom stretching from the remaining Visigothic enclaves in the south, to Dublin on the Irish Sea to the north, and including Brittany, Cornwall, Devon and much of South Wales between them. A happy position for a crown once threatened with extinction only a decade before.
 
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