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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Olligarchy

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On the 5th of April, 2010 a collection of books was found in one of the lower vaults of Moulins castle in Bourbon. Upon a brief inquiry by a set of professors from the University of Paris, they were deemed to indeed be penned down by the ancient ancestors of the Bourbon Kings of modern France. Ecstatic, King Louis XX de Bourbon requested the finest scholars in France to aid in translating the ancient Frankish into a more modern French so that he and his family could find out more of their ancient roots.

In the end, what the scholars discovered was glory and ancient wisdom a plenty… but also a long list of new sins to be placed upon the Bourbon heads. However, the Bourbon monarchy was so intimately tied in with French society that the negative blowback soon changed into a sort of mysterious and “sexy” new image for the Bourbons and even was the cause for a new television series… the Bourbons.

This AAR will be focused on an alternate history scenario where the Seigneurs of Bourbon arise from their humble roots to become one of the most powerful dynasties in Europe. As the focus on this AAR is more on family matters than general strategy, I will be playing this very slowly and will most likely not feature many screenshots… tough some will appear in most important junctures. The AAR will be formatted in a diary style with each character writing their own story.

There are only two rules I will follow:
  • Ironman: I am going to Ironman this campaign to give it a more realistic tone.
  • Roleplay: Each character will be roleplayed as they are.
 

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30th of September, 1066 AD. Reign of Comte Archambaud of Bourbon.
My son, I have undertaken this task of recording and organizing my thoughts, plans and desires in the firm hopes that you will find them upon your ascension. I realize that the coming years may tear us apart, as I will change quite radically to suit the needs of our family. For this I apologize. It is, and always has been my most ardent desire to be a good father to you and your brothers. The times that we are being thrust into however are not a place for good fathers or men. There is civil war in the air in France, and a coming darkness that may destroy this great kingdom. Though King Philippe is a friend of our family, and will no doubt grow to become a good man as well, we must look after our own and rise from our humble roots. The coming days will offer us risk and reward alike. We must be strong enough to grasp them, and wise enough to choose the reward whenever possible.

In the past two weeks I have made the long journey from our ancestral holdings to Paris to treat with the young King and his ministers. There I... I... I manipulated his Royal Majesty. I spoke of the ancient ties between our Houses and offered him a sizable dowry in exchange for your betrothal to Princess Emma. Whilst he was at first skeptical knowing that our family was far from the most powerful, I was saved by the arrival of Duke Guilhem of Aquitaine... our Liege Lord. He too was there to parley with the King, hoping to arrange a betrothal of his daughter Aines to his Majesty. Whilst the offer was suitably ennobled with a sizable dowry and offers of eternal friendship, his Majesty was naturally fearful of aligning himself with the most powerful Duke in his realm. For whilst Duke Guilhem may sometimes appear a friendly and gregarious sort, he truthfully has the mind and soul of a viper... ever awaiting to strike. His Majesty the King requested for a nights time to consider the proposals after which he retired to his chambers with the Queen-Regent and his ministers.

After I had been escorted to my quarters a servant arrived, bearing a sealed letter from his Grace the Duke of Burgundy... Robert the Old. The Kinslayer himself. He too was visiting the capitol and wished to parley with me over dinner. What else could I do? When a great lord of our Kingdom offers to sup with you... you accept. Whilst the discussion itself seemed innocent enough, it was not long after the Duke had dismissed the servants that he cut to the heart of the matter. As son of King Robert, he had a good claim to the throne and in exchange for us securing his southern flank from intervention by the Lords of Aquitaine, he offered to marry his eldest grandson, Hugues to your sister Ermengarde. As you may expect I was outraged... the only reason such a request would be made was if the Duke intended to rebel against his majesty the King and install himself on the throne. However before I could vocalize my outrage, he silenced me with a gesture and explain to me in explicit detail my options... such as they were.

I could say nay to this foul serpent and return to my meager holdings, and on the way back my carriage would be attacked by bandits and I would perish and those very bandits would destroy our family root and stem... or I could accept his offer in which case he would throw his support behind my proposal to marry Princess Emma to you, my beloved son. He also promised to speak to his Majesty, to whom he is closely related to on the matter of the match with Duke Guilhem and cause a rift between them, giving us a narrow opportunity to gain a measure of independence and increase our holdings at the expense of said duke.

I know you my son, and I know you for the true and good Christian Knight that you are, and I am aware that you would not in a thousand years consent to such a demand... but when I looked deep into my soul I knew I was damned. I accepted the Dukes proposal and sealed our fate... one way or another.

I know that the coming days will cause a rift between us my son... you may well hate me for the deeds that I will commit in the name of family, love and power, but I hope that when you read these words you will know that in the end I do it not for some deranged image of Bourbon glory, but for us. For you, me, your brothers and sister... for blood. For family.

Forgive me.


Below: Count Archamaud of Bourbon, his family and lands.
 

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1st of January, 1067 AD. Reign of Comte Archambaud of Bourbon.
The events for the past seasons have indeed been a sign of things to come. I have managed to negotiate marriages for my younger sons, Aymon and Pierre. Aymon is to marry Agnes de Barcelona, the daughter of Duke Ramon-Berenquer of Barcelona, whilst Pierre will marry Agathe de Normandie... the daughter of Duke William of Normandy. Both are excellent matches... better than I ever thought that our small family would be able to muster. Life has been good for the Bourbons, but on the 13th of October we woke up to the worst news: Kaiser Heinrich Salian had declared war upon the Kingdom of France with the hopes of gaining control of the province of Gent in Flanders. However as the war is waged war to the north and the King has not requested us to send anything more than the standard few dozen levies, that has not bothered us so far.



My plans however have begun to take shape. My wife, Filippa... whilst our marriage has been fruitful with four children, and we share some affection for each other, we have never been madly in love. I find her far too manic and unpredictable to truthfully feel comfortable with the idea of her in a position of power, however as we are too weak for military conquests we must play the game of greater lords than us... a game of inheritance and subtlety. To that end I have begun to plot the death of my brother in law, Comte Robért of Auvergne with the intention of replacing him with his only suitable heir... my wife, whom would eventually upon her death be inherited by our son, strengthening our holdings and making us all the more fearsome and powerful. To such end I have gathered a shadow cabal of people whom would welcome the shift in power. So far the cabal consists of Bishop Adalbert of Aurillac whom has apparently grown tired of Robérts sinful way of life, several courtiers whom back him and surprisingly the Comte's of Thours and La Marche whom were swayed over to my side with bags of gold. So far everything seems to be going according to my desires and I await for a suitable opening to end the life of my brother in law.

In addition I have sent my agent, Bouchard... a lowborn scoundrel to attempt to "discover" long lost claims that the Bourbon's may have held on the province of Limousin. Perhaps it will bear fruit, perhaps not.

Outside of the borders of France, life seems to be going on quite normally. Far to the east the Empire of the Romans is waging a war against the Turks whom are attempting to invade Anatolia, whilst England to the North is under siege by a multitude of pestilences in the form of King Harald of Norway and my soon to be father in law Duke William of Normandy. Whilst I cannot predict whom will come out on top in the end, it will be interesting to see if the Anglo-Saxon realm can hold out... and if not, what will happen to it.




Please be kind about the map... my first time trying one such as it! If anyone has any idea how to make it a bit better I'd be grateful. Using Paint.net.
 

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1st of January, 1068 AD. Reign of Comte Archambaud of Bourbon.
The war to the North continues. With King Philippe still in regency, he and his council had tasked Count Étienne of Bourges to lead the army, an army some ten thousand strong with another thousand men acting as Reserve a weeks ride behind. From what the scouts tell us, the Kaiser has sent a force of nearly nine thousand to the Low Countries with an unknown quantity of more reserves following behind. Unlike the young King Philippe, the Kaiser led his host by himself. Whilst it is not for the likes of myself to complain about unfair privileges, it strikes counter intuitive to me that Philippe's Council have placed de Bourges... a courtier if there ever was one in command of an army critical to the defense of the Realm. Should he fail the results could be catastrophic for the Capetian dynasty.

I smell a rat... a rat looking much like a certain Duke of Burgundy. Would the man truly be willing to weaken the realm as a whole so he could reign as the lord of ashes and dust? Or was even he, the Kings kinsman overruled on this matter? I doubt I will ever know.



Then again, this might simply be de Bourges' way of attempting to reclaim some prestige. In the absence of a suitably high placed match he has been wed to the daughter of one of his domains most notable merchants. Whilst the girl does not look very intelligent or even charming, she does have suitable child bearing hips and I despite myself wish the couple good luck for the future. Perhaps they can weather the storm that is to come?

On the 25th of march, Bishop Bertrand of Souvigny, my steward contacted me about the risk of revolt in my domains. Apparently he has managed to run roughshod over the peasants there in an attempt to extract more funds for the war effort. Whilst I desire to punish the bishop, it is not for the likes of me to chastise Princes of the Church and I merely contain my grumbling to muttering about peasants.

On the 29th we receive news from the front at Gent: Kaiser Heinrich has received reinforcements which swell the size of his host to some eleven thousand and is now marching from Breda to Gent with clear intention of meeting de Bourges on the field. However on the 7th of April the ruse becomes apparent... the Kaiser has no intention of attacking Gent! He has maneuvered his host to Brabant and is moving south with the majority of our strength now behind him. He clearly means to strike for either Champagne or Paris, placing the King himself at risk. Indeed on the 25th of April my fears become realized as the Kaiser places Vermandois under siege... and de Bourges host is nowhere to be seen. Perhaps his inexperience on the field has resulted in him not even realizing he no longer has a foe to maneuver against?

The reason for the Kaisers sudden strike south becomes apparent on the 3rd of may when another substantial host of roughly four thousand appears near Bar, marching to join the Kaisers host. The host is soon joined by another thousand marching from Bourgogne to the north. My son has commented on the failed chance that de Bourges had in the early days of the war to use his superior mobilization speed and strike at the Kaisers host before it could be reinforced by others, in essence speedily defeating each host in moderately sized pieces rather than the massive horde that it is about to become. Clearly the German Kaiser has massive forces to draw upon... much greater than our Kingdom does.

On the 16th of June the battle between de Bourges and the Vanguard of Kaiser Heinrich's army begins at Gent. Though our forces initially have superior numbers, it soon becomes apparent that the Kaiser has lifted the siege of Vermandois and is marching to join the battle. And indeed after a long campaign, on the 1st of August de Bourges' host is broken and flees towards Brugge, leaving the Kaiser ample time to begin his siege, and or march after him. Of the over ten thousand men he had initially, de Bourges now only has roughly three and a half thousand, and when the Kaiser sends a splinter force of eight thousand to smash the Count... it is all over. Surprisingly, the guards of Duke Boudewijin of Flanders join de Bourge's side, but the difference in numbers is too large and the Frankish host is once again broken. However that is all I will say on that depressingly poorly fought war.



On the 29th, I am faced with difficulties in managing my estates. The war has added additional expenditures to our already tiny budget, and I face ruination. My wife Filippa offers to aid me, but I realize that I cannot be the kind man I was... I MUST tame these numbers for the good of the Bourbon dynasty!

With the year coming to a close, King Philippe I of France comes of age. In a pompous ceremony held even whilst Reims is held under siege by the Kaiser, he is acknowledged as the King of France and all his vassals... including myself kneel before him, acknowledging him as the heir to the Kingdom of West Francia and first amongst the monarchs of Europe.

 
Last edited:

mike the knight

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hmmm A young King with so unruly vassals sucha misery for him to begin his reign during an already lost war :p
 

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such a dedicated father ...... I hope that his plans go smoothly ;)
This is CK2... things don't "go smooth." :D

nice map :D Let us hope that our great lord does not find retaliation for his plans ;)
hmmm A young King with so unruly vassals sucha misery for him to begin his reign during an already lost war :p
Well, we'll see what I can get my hands on. I've horrible luck at fabricating claims and despite having over 150% plot power my beloved brother in law might just survive AND find out. After that the only option is brute force assassinations.

I like the style! You're a good writer, too. Subbed.
Why thank you. :) Glad to have you along for the ride!
 

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1st of January, 1069 AD. Reign of Comte Archambaud of Bourbon.
As the war rages in the north, I've continued plotting to increase our family lands. Upon some "negotiating" Comte Folcuqes of Angloume has decided to join the plot to slay my erstwhile brother in law. However the man continues being elusive about his schedule, making it difficult to plot anything that might end up causing an unfortunate end to his life. In the mean time I attend the mans wedding to... a lowborn girl whom is shortly after the wedding already pregnant with child. I must end this quickly if my family is to gain Auvergne.

On the 25th of may the hussy gives birth to a healthy baby boy. Whilst I know I should celebrate the birth of my kinsman, I curse him in private. Now my family has yet another obstacle in gaining our prize. I must accelerate my plans to counter this... We strike on the 16th of August when one of my agents manages to stage an explosion which SHOULD kill my brother in law. On the 12th of September the news reach me that I have succeeded... however there is a price to my gains.



My soul. Nobody else, but myself and my co-conspirators whom I silence where able know of the deed... not even my wife or you my son. However I know that it was this day that I left gods grace and entered into the hell he has surely prepared for me. 13th of September. Remember that day my son. It was on this day that your father became worse than those monsters he told you of before bed time: He became a hypocrite. A villain hiding behind a mask of politeness and loyalty to murder those closest to him. However even knowing this I know... I must go on. Guilhém d'Auvergne yet stands. So I set about writing yet more messages carried by messenger pigeons to my old "friends" and prepare for yet another death...

I am indeed disgusted by the number of people whom would do an infant harm, and in my old days would've denounced them all before sending them to the headsman... but today I need such people and I ingratiate myself with them to the best of my ability. Whilst I smile and shake hands with them, I already can see their bodies hanging from gibbets in hell. One day... one day there will be a reckoning for us all. Even myself. I can already see the fires of hell drawing closer. I am not a young man anymore, and with each day I grow a bit more weary. A bit more tired... a bit older, and it will not be long until you, my son will be faced with the same. Always remember that your mortal coil will not outlast the ravages of time. Neither will the coil of your sons or daughters... only family last forever. Your name, your blood and your deeds. Make your life different from mine so you may taste salvation offered to us by our lord Jesus Christ.



On the 7th of November, Kaiser Heinrich and King Philippe meet at Gent and our young King surrenders the province to him. An ignominious defeat for France, and the Capetian dynasty. I can already sense the Duke of Burgundy circling...readying himself for his master stroke.

War is coming, and it will not be glamorous. The Dukes of Flanders, and my liege lord, Guilhém of Aquitaine have already announced their desire to secede from France, where as Duke Robert is pressing for others to recognize his claim as the rightful King of France.
 

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1st of January, 1070 AD. Reign of Comte Archambaud of Bourbon.
In the aftermath of the war, King Philippe has been trying to smooth the ruffled feathers in his kingdom by promoting the dukes to positions of authority within his council. Whilst initially a good idea, it has turned out to be a monumentally bad one in the end as the Dukes compete to put their plots into motion, hindering the management of the entire Realm and weakening the Kings position further. As an unmarried monarch whom only has a single war, which he lost under his belt, Philippe is stepping on egg shells. Whilst I feel sympathy for my future son-in-law, I am not in any position to aid him.

On the 12th of January I receive word that a maid is willing to poison the young Count of Auvergne. Grimacing in distaste, I acknowledged the offer and accepted it... writing a sizable bribe for said maid... along with orders for the thug delivering it to silence her forever and keep her payment as his own. I've come too far to become squeamish about a few more deaths.

On the 8th of February I receive word that the deed is done. Guilhém d'Auvergne is dead and resting with his father in whichever afterlife God may wish them to rest in. My wife Filippa was soon after ennobled as the Comtessa of Auvergne... with you my son as her heir. Once again there is no trace that the deed was ordered by my hand.. the maid was silenced and the assassin has already gone to walk different paths.



Soon after the murder I was walking in our palace gardens when Bishop Bertrand came up to me and offered me a chance to come and visit a monastery he has been supporting for some time now. Despite being supported by a bishop the place is apparently suffering from horrid conditions and Bertrand, ever the earnest fool trusts me to make up the difference. The old me would not have even considered telling a prince of the church "no", but I am already knee deep in debt from loans to Jews and cannot afford such indulgences... I leave him with a stunned look on his face in the gardens. Clearly the discussion had not gone as he thought.

Later, King Philippe is married to Princess Gytha Godwinsdotter of England and crowned as the Queen of France. Whilst this at first appears a suitable match between two of Christendoms greatest kingdoms, we all know the truth.. it is a sham where the desperate King of England wishes for King Philippe to intervene on his wars against King Harald of Norway AND his own vassal William of Normandy. As expected, King Philippe after the marriage declines such requests stating the need for France to, quite rightly... recover before being thrust into another conflict. His fear and distrust of the Holy Roman Empire to the east is only increased when in a surprise move Duke Boudewijin of Flanders swears fealty to Kaiser Heinrich, seceding from France into the Empire.



However, in a confusing move if there ever was one... the Duke also leaves the Empire within only a months span of joining it. Clearly the man is plotting to gain an independent Flemish Crown somehow. However both the King and the Kaiser leave him alone after his double crossing and I am left to wonder where he means to expand...

News also reach me from the east that the age old Doukids dynasty has lost the war against the Seljuks and been replaced by the Komnenos dynasty. It would seem that France is not alone in different families vying for power and influence.. it seems quite global in fact.

The coming year will bring many new things I expect. My son is to be married to Princess Emma, my wife will have to reign on her own in Auvergne and... plots. New and manyfold. Plots which may bring us to new heights... or bring us crashing down to nothing.


Below: Map of the year 1070 AD.
 
Last edited:

mike the knight

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Olligarchy

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Honestly? Didn't expect it to go that smooth! Both murders without witnesses, no penalty malus or anything. Perfect success. Now I'm a bit paranoid for the future. :D I mean SOMETHING has to go wrong, right?
 

Olligarchy

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1st of January, 1071 AD. Reign of Comte Archambaud of Bourbon.
The year begins suspiciously with the Council announcing that from now on the Kingdom of France will be following elective succession in the manner of the Holy Roman Empire to the east. I read the letter stating this no less than five times to verify that it is indeed the meaning of it, rather than just some elaborate way of stating something different. However no matter how many times I read the blasted paper, it does not change to something different and I am forced to come to terms with the entirely different political landscape that is presented upon me. Prior to this event the King, the Capetians and their supporters held majority power as the power came from the King and your closeness to him. This was part of the reason why I so adamantly desired for my eldest son to be married to the Kings sister.



However now the power is derived from the Dukes (whom no doubt orchestrated this!) whom have the right to elect the King from amongst their numbers. Making some discreet inquiries I learn that it is Duke Thibault of Champagne that holds majority vote. Not surprising considering that his domains lie closest to Paris and that he holds control over Reims, the highest religious seat within the Kingdom. Whilst de Tours have always been loyal followers of the Capetians, and Duke Thibault an honourable man if there ever was one, clearly the chance at attaining true power has swayed him, and his supporter the Duke of Anjou to back him for the throne. Other candidates are Prince Hugues, the Kings brother whom is unsurprisingly backed by the King himself, and Duke William of Normandy backed by... himself. None else sees fit to back the Norman.

Another crimp is thrown into my plans on the 4th of may when I learn that Hugues de Bourgogne, the grand son of Duke Robert the Old has died. He was to be my daughter Ermengarde betrothed and this represents an opportunity too good to waste. I immediately send a messenger to Paris where I offer my daughters hand in marriage to the Count of Orleans... Prince Hugues of France. King Philippe gladly accepts. Now de Bourbon dynasty is tied to the Capetians with a pact of iron... our dynasties are mutually interlinked and the common generations will find that eventually drawing succession of Capetians will result with de Bourbons at the end. Or so I hope... who knows what the Lord has in store for us all?

Also on the 24th of may, Bishop Bertrand once again contacts me that he has managed to rile up the peasants. What am I to make of this man? Perhaps he is NOT fit to be my steward? After all, a man whom cannot do as he is bid and increase the income of my estates should not be in such a position.

On other news, on the first of January a multitude of things happen. For one, my second son Aymon named after my great-uncle and many, and I mean many grandfathers, comes of age. He has turned out to be a fine knight. Brave and valorous he will no doubt carry on the family legacy with pride.



Also, Princess Emma of France comes of age and is wed to my son Archamaud in a glorious ceremony in Moulins with bishop Bertrand holding the ceremony and all of the realms note worthies assembling to witness the event. As I stand besides my son and await for the beautiful princess to walk down the aisle, I look at them all. Dukes of Burgundy, Champagne, Normandy, Poitou, Anjou and Tolouse I can feel a mixture of their emotions. Some like Robert the old and Guilhém of Poitou seethe seeing my family rise to such heights. Others like William of Normandy return my smile as there is another wedding on the way soon... and the rest look on in a mixture of curiosity and suspicion. Whilst it is not unheard of for a princess of the Blood to be married to a mere Counts son, it is quite rare and they know that many plots must have come to fruition for such an event to take place.

The ceremony itself goes off without a hitch, and soon my son and daughter-in-law are feasted ín the Great Hall and then bedded... sealing the Capetian and Bourbon dynasties together in marriage. As I sit next to my liege, the young King of France, pouring him more Bourbon, I can only feel pity for him. He is not a bad man by any stretch of the imagination, but already I can see his reign withering and dying as the Dukes gain more and more power whilst his seat in Paris is weakened by constant foreign wars and plots. The loss of Flanders, the plots of Guilhém and Robert the Old are already taking its toll, and with only his brother as the heir to the Capetians... well the dynasty seems to be on its last legs.

This leaves me in a very peculiar position where my decision may alter the course of history. Whatever to back the Capetians and hope for their recovery from these dire straits... or to push them off the ledge they find themselves on and hope to claim the ultimate prize: the throne of France for the Bourbons?



So, that seals the deal so to speak and I'd like to hear your opinions guys... I know a lot of you read this even if you've seen no reason to comment, but I'd appreciate any thoughts on which way to take this. Should the Bourbon's back the Capetians... or as said, attempt to seize power as the royal dynasty weakens?
 

mike the knight

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Seize the power as a true plotter ! Show to these arrogants lords who has the brightest mind to rule ;)
 

Olligarchy

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That fixed it. Going to try and update again today so if anyone wants to suggest a strategy do so before then. ;)
 

soda7777777

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Not the real Bourbons. :p