Solmyr

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My new AAR starts here. ;) Basic info:

Starting as the Count of Vermandois, who is descended from Charlemagne in the male line.

Primary goal: Take the throne of France from the Capetian usurpers.
Long-term goal: Reunite the Empire of Charlemagne (meaning Germany and Italy as well).
Very long-term goal: Receive fealty and/or recognition as the leader of Western Christendom.

Playing 1.03a, normal/normal, in the usual roleplaying character-oriented style.
 

Solmyr

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PART I: Forming the Power Base

The county of Vermandois, a vassal of the Duke of Champagne, was a forested domain northeast of Paris, lying on the border of the Holy Roman Empire and on the path to Lower Lorraine. Its folk, though not numerous, were hardy hunters and archers who made their living from the forest. In 1066 it was ruled by Count Herbert, a stern, proud, militantly religious man who accepted no excesses in anything save his legendary virility, of which he held an opinion that it was a blessing from God. Herbert was also descended from the great Emperor Charlemagne in the ninth generation, though with the ascension of the Capets to the French throne few recognized or remembered his descent.

CAROL01.gif

Vermandois and the surrounding lands

The count's family was not large. He was married to Adele, elder daughter of his neighbor Raoul de Valois, the count of Amiens and Vexin. They had two children, son Eudes and daughter Adele. Herbert also had two younger brothers, Eudes and Pierre, both unmarried. In addition, Herbert's cousin Adelaide also lived in Vermandois.

CAROL02.gif

Count Herbert

CAROL03.gif

The count's wife Adele

As the county was small, there were few court members besides the count's family. Knowing their abilities, he had little difficulty in appointing suitable tasks for them. His wife Adele took charge of security and information gathering; his son Eudes helped greatly in managing the household and the estates. Herbert's brother Eudes was made captain of the guards, and Pierre, a church-educated theologian, became the religious advisor. Finally, cousin Adelaide was appointed chancellor.

Though Herbert's wife Adele was not too young, she was a strong and healthy woman, and gave birth to a son, Robert, in November 1067. Meanwhile, the count saw to the fortunes of his two oldest children. In September, Adele was given in marriage to Jordan, son of the Norman count Richard of Aversa; she soon left for southern Italy. Herbert's son Eudes, in turn, courted Agnes, the daughter of Duke Guillaume of Poitou; finally, the Duke relented and gave his blessings to the union. The wedding was held in Poitiers on March 9th, 1068 to the great joy of all in attendance, and afterwards Agnes traveled in Vermandois together with Eudes.

The first half of 1068 saw growth of the towns and villages in Vermandois, promoted by the count's wise policies. The new growth was soon paying off in the form of increased tax and trade revenue from the merchant traffic between Paris and the Low Countries.

Desiring to ensure that the dynasty flourishes, Herbert soon sought wives for his brothers as well. Such wives were found in the persons of two ladies-in-waiting from the county of Dijon. Eudes married Marguerite and Pierre married Peronelle in summer 1068. Both were soon expecting children as well.

Herbert's wife Adele gave birth to another son in January 1069, but the infant died only three days later. Herbert's second son Robert also did not survive for long, and succumbed to an illness in May. The count, very upset at this turn of events, sought peace of mind by going incognito through the local villages. In one of these he had a brief affair with a peasant girl which resulted in the birth of a bastard son, though the child did not survive. Fortunately the count returned to good news, the birth of his first grandson Louis to Eudes and Agnes d'Aquitaine.

Relieved, Herbert again began to spend more time with his wife, and in June 1070 she gave birth to another son, Charles. So active was Herbert that she was again pregnant a mere two days later, and the infant Jean was born in March 1071. Meanwhile Eudes and Agnes had another son, Oronci, but the boy died in April 1071 due to poor health.

Herbert's brother, the captain Eudes, was not as fortunate. Though he had three children by then, in late 1071 his wife Marguerite, and then he himself, fell ill. Moreover, in May 1072, Marguerite gave birth to a stillborn child, no doubt due to her illness. In September Eudes succumbed to his illness, and Marguerite followed him in August 1073.

Herbert's son Eudes, however, was going strong. His wife gave birth to another son, Charles, in June 1072. Herbert himself had his second daughter, Peronelle, in October, but the girl died the following year.

In the county, things were going well. The forest was harvested for new resources, and in June 1073 a central sawmill was built to facilitate construction. At the court, a wandering merchant, Enguerrand de Dreux, was recently admitted. In November, he approached the count, asking to be named captain of the guards. Though Herbert did not have a lot of faith in his military skills, he nonetheless granted Enguerrand's request, as he had no captain since the death of his brother Eudes. Under Enguerrand's supervision, training grounds were built in the count's castle in December 1075, and Vermandois could now raise over a thousand men if needed.

Meanwhile, France was in some turmoil as King Philippe died of illness in late 1074 and the throne passed to his son Robert, a boy of six. The Dukes immediately started plotting to increase their power. Though Herbert wished he could do something, his power was not yet significant enough to take part in the kingdom's power plays. And so he waited.

In September 1076, an itinerant priest, one Henri de Montmorency, offered his services to the count. Herbert accepted, and soon named the zealous priest as his new guard captain, dismissing Enguerrand de Dreux from the position. Enguerrand had little chance to protest, but was mollified somewhat after he was given Herbert's cousin Adelaide in marriage.

Herbert's eldest grandson Louis had been sent to train with the soldiers two years before, and was not doing too badly. But the rigorous training, as well as the great expectations of his grandfather (Louis was, after all, the heir-apparent to the duchy of Aquitaine through his mother), caused the eight-year old boy to feel very stressed. Still, the stern Herbert would not allow him a moment's rest, placing the future hopes of the family on the boy's shoulders.

In January 1078, the Pope called for a Crusade to free the Holy Land from the infidel. Though Herbert would have liked to go, there seemed to be little interest among his peers, and he knew that alone he could do little. However, his desire was seen and praised, and his image as a pious man continued to grow.

The county of Vermandois grew and prospered. In 1081, small-scale annual trade sailing began along the small rivers of the county. At the same time, the local people perfected the use of terrain for defense and ambush. Herbert generously rewarded his son and steward Eudes as well as his chancellor, cousin Adelaide, for their work in making the county prosper. The solid base of Vermandois power was now well-established.

-----------------------

Vermandois genealogy started and updated to January 1082.
 

Shaytana

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May I be the first to congratulate you on your choice? I was playing Vermandois only about 30 minutes ago, :D I think there's something special about that county. ;)

Now, let's see if this aar can outdo your last one.
 

coz1

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This looks to be a quite enjoyable read. It was only a matter of time before somone attempted to reform the Carolignian Empire. Good luck!
 

Fall of Stars

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Ah, France! Backstabbing and war await! And I'll be watching. Best of luck!

Are there any good semisalic domains in France you can scheme towards? You look to have stolen Poitou already, if I remember correctly. :p
 

Solmyr

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PART II: The First Expansion

The next few years went by peacefully, with the peasants of Vermandois developing new ways to tend to their fields, increasing the county's prosperity. Herbert's mood was however marred by the illness of his grandson Louis in September 1083. The local physicians could not say what the cause of it was, but the boy was obviously very depressed. It did not help that his mother, Agnes of Aquitaine, died in childbirth in June 1084.

Despite his illness, Louis finished his military training that year, but did not become the leader that his father and grandfather hoped he would. Still, many hopes were placed upon him, and he grew only more moody and sullen. After mourning his wife for a proper period of time, Herbert's son Eudes courted and wed Mathilde, daughter of the Duke of Toulouse. At the same time, a wife was found for Louis: Thora de Fauconberg, a lady from the county of Chester. Louis however barely even noticed his new wife.

In February 1086, Herbert made his first political moves. At first, he laid claim to the county of Boulogne, which had recently been inherited by one of the vassals of the Duke of Brittany, who refused to swear allegiance to France. Herbert claimed his right to recover the county for France, though he did not yet follow up on his claim.

Herbert's other political move was a brief visit to Rome, where he met some senior cardinals and discussed with them the recent excommunication of the bishop of Ravenna, who opposed the Pope's rightful influence. Herbert said that he would take it upon himself or his successors to restore Ravenna to true Christian rule, with the unspoken understanding that if such were to happen, he would be free to dispose of the city as he saw fit. Though some cardinals opposed this, he nonetheless succeeded in maintaining this claim.

In October 1086, shortly after Herbert returned from Rome, his captain Henri de Montmorency died of old age. There were no qualified men to take over the job, and so Herbert decided to wait with the new appointment. In the meantime, he arranged the marriage of his second living son Charles to Ferranda Trencavel, a girl from a prestigious family of southern France. In March 1087, he also gave his niece Etiennette as wife to Gaucher, son of count Folques of Touraine. Finally in May, a suitable military commander was found: Arnaud de Saint-Denis, a skilled if reckless soldier. He was soon appointed as captain of the guards and was even given Herbert's other niece Judith as a wife.

CAROL04.gif

The new marshal

In August 1087, count Raoul de Valois died and Herbert's son Eudes inherited the counties of Amiens and Vexin. A new steward was needed for Vermandois, and was soon found in the person of Robert de Montmorency, a nephew of the late marshal Henri and also a priest.

CAROL05.gif


CAROL06.gif

The new steward

In November, a group of courtiers from Champagne contacted Herbert, inviting him to join them in plotting an embarrassment for his liege, the Duke of Champagne, in order to shake his influence. Herbert, however, refused to take part in this treachery and revealed the plotters to the Duke, gaining everyone's respect and proving his loyalty.

In June 1089, Herbert's brother and chaplain Pierre died of old age. For living a chaste and pious life (despite his six children), Pierre was beatified by the Church. His sole surviving son Boson followed in his footsteps by entering a monastery to learn there.

CAROL07.gif

Brother Pierre

Herbert received bad news from Amiens in October 1089. His son Eudes had succumbed to the dysentery that was ravaging the area, and Eudes' sickly, depressed grandson Louis was now the new count. Herbert could only mourn his son, knowing that he was now in a better place. Louis, despite his illness (which had now been determined as being caused by intestinal worms), nonetheless became Duke of Poitou when his grandfather, Duke Guillaume, died in April 1090.

CAROL08.gif

Sigh... look at that stewardship, now lost forever...

Also in April 1090 Vermandois was struck as well when the typhoid fever broke out among the populace. Herbert's nephew Robert was the first to become ill, and died the following year without recovering. Later in the year, an evil omen was seen in the sky, a vision of fire raining down upon the earth. Herbert turned to the clergy for assistance, and was assured that this omen was not threatening his lands. The count's son Charles, however, seemed not to take things seriously enough, and even held wild parties with his friends despite the disease ravaging the countryside. Herbert, however, finally managed to stop his son's foolish behavior by reprimanding him severely.

In late 1092, Vermandois was livened up by the arrival of Herbert's son-in-law, Jordan of Aversa and his family, including Herbert's daughter Adele and their two sons. Jordan had been recently excommunicated by the Pope, who then took Capua and ousted Jordan from his county. Though Herbert did not approve of Jordan's opposition to the Church, he nonetheless took him in out of love for his daughter.

CAROL09.gif

The exiled Jordan of Aversa and his wife

In January 1093, Herbert's sickly grandson Louis died without producing a single child. Louis' brother Charles inherited him as the Duke of Poitou. Charles seemed stronger and more virile, already with two sons, though like Louis he was not a great leader of men.

CAROL10.gif

The sickly Louis, first Vermandois Duke of Poitou

Herbert's dislike of heretics and blasphemers showed again in March 1094, when he claimed that he would make a better Duke of Österreich than the excommunicated Leopold von Babenberg. Some indeed took his claim at face value, and before long it received wide recognition. Herbert's fame was now rising, and soon he was able to give the hand of his niece Isabeau to Guillaume, the count of Evreux, who swore fealty to the English King.

Despite Herbert's successes, his wife Adele contracted the typhoid fever in December 1095. Though by next spring it was in retreat from the county, Adele did not get better. While Herbert spent much of his time at her side, his steward Robert de Montmorency oversaw the construction of new trade roads connecting Paris with Flanders. Trade was encouraged and the rising merchant class was supported, as peasants were forbidden to sell goods within city walls.

Finally on January 19th, 1097, old count Herbert died at his wife's side without seeing her get any better or worse. His grandson Charles, the Duke of Poitou and Bordeaux, was now the new head of the family.

-------------------------------

Vermandois genealogy updated to January 1097.
 

Shaytana

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"For living a chaste and pious life (despite his six children)"

I love chaste characters with a lot of children...I had a chaste character with (I think) 15 children from 3 wives. ;) (granted he was my ruler)

Agnes of Aquitaine......I could see that coming a 10000000 miles away. :(
 

Mike von Bek

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What a shame you couldnt unite Vexin & Amiens with your other holdings. Still, Bordeaux is a very powerful Duchy, with the possibility of heading South and crushing all those bedammed Moslems come the First Crusade.

A Carolingian Spain, perchance? :rolleyes:
 

Solmyr

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I think marrying Agnes of Aquitaine is standard strategy if you start anywhere near France. :D

And I did get Amiens and Vexin, they were inherited by Eudes and passed through Louis and to Charles. Except that AI Louis decided to give Vexin to his sister.
 

Nikolai

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A new Solmyr AAR eh? Good!:D Same quality as the old one so far. Keep up the good work!:)
 

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Solmyr said:
I think marrying Agnes of Aquitaine is standard strategy if you start anywhere near France. :D

And I did get Amiens and Vexin, they were inherited by Eudes and passed through Louis and to Charles. Except that AI Louis decided to give Vexin to his sister.

Ah, I misread - thought there were two Charles'. Thats what you get for listening to Thomas Dolby, obviously.

Agnes is great for French counts aiming high, but she isnt very fertile and in my games has a tendency to deliver only daughters. Ive been tempted on several occasions to write an AAR about it. 'Seven Grooms for Seven Brides', etc. You dont seem to have that problem though :)

Up the Carolingians! Charls has a lot to live up to, with that name :p
 

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Mike von Bek said:
Agnes is great for French counts aiming high, but she isnt very fertile and in my games has a tendency to deliver only daughters. Ive been tempted on several occasions to write an AAR about it. 'Seven Grooms for Seven Brides', etc. You dont seem to have that problem though :)

This time Agnes did reasonably well, seven kids of whom five were sons, though only two lived past 20. ;)
 

Solmyr

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PART III: Start of the Reconquista

CAROL11.gif

French domains upon ascension of Charles the Bearded; his personal demesne is dark green, his vassals are light green, the rest of France is pale green

Duke Charles, called "the Bearded" for his full, bushy beard, was said to greatly resemble in appearance (as well as name) his esteemed ancestor, the Emperor Charlemagne. Unfortunately, where Charlemagne was a great leader of men, the Duke left something to be desired. Despite his military upbringing, he could not be ranked among the greatest commanders of the time. Nonetheless, he decided that he would expand his lands in any possible way.

CAROL12.gif

Duke Charles the Bearded

In January 1097, to enhance his prestige, Charles proclaimed himself the Duke of Bourbon and Armagnac in addition to his previous titles. He then showed his somewhat misogynistic nature by revoking the county of Albret from countess Sybille, who had been appointed there by his late brother. He also allowed his sick grandmother Adele de Valois to retire from her position as spymaster, and appointed as new spymaster his aunt Judith, wife of marshal Arnaud de Saint-Denis. Adele de Valois, already very ill, died in November of that year.

CAROL13.gif

Judith, daughter of Pierre the Chaste and the new spymaster

Also the same year, Boson, son of Pierre the Chaste, completed his education and became a militant priest. In his family's tradition, he took a wife, Veronica de Comminges from the county of Foix, herself a theologic scholar.

CAROL14.gif

Young Boson is following in his father's footsteps

The Duke continued the building programs initiated by his grandfather, now on a larger scale. In July the Poitiers castle was completed and made the new residence of the ducal family. In Vermandois, the roads were expanded and now became major throughfares for merchant traffic between Paris and the Low Countries. Next year a tile factory was built to organize and facilitate further construction projects.

Soon Charles' brother Helie came of age, and a wife was sought for him. At first the Duke tried to arrange a Helie's marriage to Ermengarda, daughter of the Aragonese King Sancho, but his attempts were sharply rebuked, for which he understandably acquired a grudge. Finally in September 1099, a wife was found for Helie, Sophie de Blois, a daughter of count Philippe of Chartres. It helped that two years before, Philippe's son Arthur married Charles' aunt Isabeau, whose first husband had died. With Helie's marriage secured, he was given the county of Albret to rule.

Advised by his chaplain Archambaud and his uncle Boson, and pressured by the expectations on his power, Charles next decided that the time had come for a crusade against the infidels. To the south, in Spain, the Moors had already destroyed the kingdoms of Leon and Navarra, and Castile and Catalonia barely held on. In early 1100, the Duke gathered his army in Bordeaux and called his southern vassals - the counts of Albret, Armagnac, Bearn, and Labourd, and the bishop of Agen - to join him. As his first target, he chose the emirate of Zaragoza, ruled by the mad emir Yazid Abu Djafar.

CAROL15.gif

Yazid, the Mad Emir of Zaragoza

Charles' army set out from Labourd, crossing the Pyrenees and arriving in Aragon in May 1100. From there the army marched on its first objective, Rioja. There, a battle was fought in June, and the Duke's uncle Charles showed heroic prowess during the fighting, earning great honor. By late July, Rioja was liberated, and the Duke marched on Calatayud, the Mad Emir's capital.

CAROL16.gif

The Reconquista begins

At Calatayud, the force raised by the Mad Emir was defeated, and the Duke laid siege to the city. It was at this time that he received two pieces of unpleasant news. First, the Moors had invaded his lands, laying siege to Bordeaux. And second, King Robert had raised an army and was marching on Zaragoza, no doubt hoping to snatch some of the glory for himself.

Charles could do little about the second piece of news for the time being, but he could deal with the first. He sent word to count Hugues de Lusignan to raise his army and join his northern vassals, the counts of Perigord, Angouleme, and Limousin. They were to drive out the Moorish invaders from Bordeaux. By late 1100 the northern armies were gathered in Angouleme, from where they marched to Bordeaux, engaging the Moors in December. In January 1101, the siege of Bordeaux was lifted, and at the same time Calatayud fell to the Duke's troops. Sadly, the count of Lusignan sent word that Charles' wife Adele, who was expecting a child and was caught in the besieged Bordeaux, had miscarried and died from stress in the besieged city. Blaming the Moors for his wife's death, Charles pressed on with renewed vigor.

In February, the ducal army arrived in Zaragoza, defeating the Moorish regiment there and taking the city by April. At the same time, news came that King Robert had taken Albarracin and was now besieging Tarragona. Seeing that he would not be able to claim those lands for himself, Charles sent word for Hugues de Lusignan to join him with the northern army and marched west.

In June, the Duke passed through the independent sheikdom of Molina, which he besieged and annexed in September. At this time, count de Lusignan had caught up with him, and related news that the King had taken Tarragona and was also marching westwards. Making haste, Charles passed through Zaragozan-controlled Salamanca and Zamora, heading straight for the city of Leon, which he considered of the greatest importance. He arrived there in February 1102, encountering little opposition. Still, he sent word to the counts of La Marche and Thouars to raise their armies and join him; but ultimately this proved unnecessary, as the city surrendered in August, just as the King's army took Salamanca and Zamora.

CAROL17.gif

Spanish conquests; Charles' personal demesne is dark green

With the crusade successfully concluded, Duke Charles returned home triumphantly. His victories were recognized and lauded in the Christian world and now, with the new lands to convert, the expectations for another crusade were somewhat lessened. The Duke appointed his cousin, William of Aversa, as bishop of Rioja to oversee the spread of Christianity in Spain. He also rewarded his marshal Arnaud de Saint-Denis, though not as generously as Arnaud had hoped. It irked the Duke greatly when King Robert proclaimed himself the duke of Zaragoza and Salamanca, stealing crusade glory for himself.

CAROL18.gif

Evil King! :mad:

But Charles was making new plans. He pressed his claim on the county of Saintonge, which had been inherited by the German King two decades before, and was now held by one of his sons, who refused to swear fealty to Poitou or France. Charles also oversaw the upbringing of his elder son Guillaume, who despite his military training was also interested in mental pursuits, and was already noted as a wise and energetic boy. The Vermandois needed time to recover the losses of men in the crusade, and to prepare for the inevitable showdown with the Capetian usurpers.

-------------------------------

Vermandois genealogy updated to October 1103.
 

Mike von Bek

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Huzzah! What a great victory for Charles, he really is living up to his ancestors name, even without the military skill. I was really hoping you'd end up with a crown, but I guess it was not to be. Navarra is so close... who does own Navarra?

Oh. and I love the fact that Pierre the Chaste's daughter, Judith, looks like an absolute scheming minx. Oooh! What a little vixen she is! :eek:o
 

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Crusading already? Aside from the conquered lands being somewhat spread(I think it looks somewhat weird), a good job.:) With Pitou in your hands, you should have about half of France in your hands, so this could be a good time to weaken the king and take his title(or at least start to do the first steps) I guess?;)