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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

The Kingmaker

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THE CHRONICLES OF THE GOLDEN CROSS REDUX
A Crusader Kings II After-Action Report of the Kingdom of Jerusalem



INTRODUCTION


I’m sure there are still a few people hanging around the forums that remember my original AAR attempt back in 2008, The Chronicles of the Golden Cross. It was a tale of battle and intrigue in the Holy Land as I struggled to guide the perpetually wrong-headed Guy de Lusignan and his long-suffering wife Sibylla along the perilous course of their reign -- all in the vain attempt to prevent a Hattin-style debacle from bringing an abrupt end to the kingdom. The story was filled with political backstabbing and sordid love affairs as Guy and his family continued to make bad decision after bad decision. Yet somehow the kingdom managed to survive despite its incompetent royal family and even began to thrive. Do feel free to check it out if you feel so inclined.

But this is not that story.

Since Crusader Kings I was hard-coded into just 3 starting dates, I was compelled to pick up the story of the Kingdom of Jerusalem in 1187, when Guy stands at the edge of disaster with his enemies looming on the horizon, set to utterly destroy his kingdom. Crusader Kings II, however, allows you to start at any date during the period. :D

Therefore this story begins on 31 December 1179.

Why, you might ask? Simply put, it is because that is the very last day in CK2 when Sibylla of Jerusalem is an unmarried woman. In real life, Sibylla was compelled to marry Guy de Lusignan around Easter 1180 to prevent a political coup by dissatisfied vassals. Guy would prove to be a unmitigated disaster for the kingdom, losing Jerusalem to the vast Muslim hosts of Salah ad-Din before being forced into a shameful exile.

This time around, I’ll be telling a different tale. I want to tell the story of the Kingdom of Jerusalem without that prat Guy de Lusignan hanging around my neck like a millstone.

This is the story of how Queen Sibylla saved the flagging Kingdom of Jerusalem.

This is The Chronicles of the Golden Cross Redux.

TABLE OF CONTENTS


 
Last edited:

The Kingmaker

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BEGINNINGS



We start out in 1180 with Princess Sibylla of Jerusalem, reigning as the Countess of Jaffa and Ascalon (a duchy-level fiefdom in the game), while her younger brother Baldwin the Leper is king in Jerusalem. The Kingdom is in a little bit of a pickle, but nowhere near as bad as in my old CK1 1187 start. As stated above, the worst thing about playing Jerusalem in CK1 was wrangling King Guy de Lusignan, who will not be a problem this time around.

Here’s a look at a map of the current situation:


As you can see, Jerusalem is divided into a handful of powerful lordships and completely surrounded by potential enemies, with the Seljuk Turks to the north and the Ayyubid Sultanate of Egypt to the east and south. The Byzantine Empire to the northwest is not likely to provide any assistance, so any foreign aid will have to come from new crusaders arriving from across the Great Sea.

Now to meet the prominent members of the kingdom: the Haute Cour. We’ll be seeing a lot of them in the near future, so it will be important for us to keep them all straight. Since Jerusalem has very weak royal authority at the moment, these powerful vassals have a great deal of free reign over their territories. Too much, in fact.

Jerusalem
As I mentioned before, Jerusalem itself is ruled by Sibylla’s younger brother, King Baldwin IV, the Leper. He is kindly, chivalrous and clever –- he seems like a decent enough sort, aside from the flesh-consuming disease wracking his body. He became king in 1174 at the young age of 13, and was aided by a regent until he recently came of age. He is a good king, albeit a weak one. His nemesis Saladin respects his ability and courage, which is important.

But he is not expected to live long, and the fact that he is unlikely to ever be able to father an heir means that a succession crisis is very likely, at least in the eyes of the vassals. They are already each plotting to make themselves the power behind the throne, which means Sibylla will need to be very deft in negotiating a perilous balance -- working to pacify the nobles but being careful not to give them too much of an advantage.


Jaffa and Ascalon
Sibylla’s own fiefdom is along the coast of Palestine, with some rich, juicy ports bringing access to profitable Mediterranean trade. The most noteworthy courtiers here are the last remnants of Sibylla’s “family.”

Foremost among these is Baldwin and Sibylla’s mother, Agnes de Courtenay. Hers is a rather sad story. She was the daughter of the last ruling Count of Edessa, forced to flee south from the invading Muslims. She was then forcibly abducted by Prince Amalric of Jerusalem, who fancied her. He made her his bride and fathered two children on her. But then, when Amalric’s brother died and he succeeded to the throne, the Haute Cour refused to support him unless he annulled his marriage to Agnes. He was all the more motivated by the promise of a lucrative marriage to Maria Komnena, a Byzantine princess. So Agnes was jilted and deprived of her position and family all at once, and so she has become very bitter.

But why is Sibylla’s mother’s so important to the political scene? Because her ex-husband’s new family also resides within the duchy. After Amalric died, Queen Maria married Balian of Ibelin, Lord of Beersheba, one of Sibylla’s vassals. Balian is a competent and loyal courtier, but Maria is a Komnenid snake, used to the Byzantine world of betrayal and poison. And to make matters worse, she brought along her surviving daughter from her marriage King Amalric: Princess Isabelle of Jerusalem, half-sister of Baldwin and Sibylla. That girl is nothing but trouble – not only a rival for the throne, but a Komnenos as well!

Also worth mentioning is Joscelin de Courtenay, Agnes’ older brother. He is Lord of Acre and heir to the fallen County of Edessa. Due to Sibylla’s close family relationship to him, his lands might be easy to usurp.

The Knightly Orders
Both the Knights Templar and Hospitaller reside within the borders of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. The Hospitallers own the formidable castle Krak des Chevaliers at the northern reaches of the kingdom, as well as the County of Baalbek. Their Grand Master, Roger de Moulins, is old but feisty.

The Templars have their headquarters on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, as well as various strongholds throughout the Holy Land. Their Grand Master is languishing in one of Saladin’s dungeons, so his second-in-command Arnau de Torroja is in charge in his stead.

Tripoli and Tiberias
The most powerful and influential nobleman in the Kingdom is Raymond of Tiberias, the Count of Tripoli. He is very shrewd and capable, but also sullen and proud. Up until recently he had served as regent for the young King Baldwin, and did not like giving up his power so easily when the Leper King came of age. Raymond could be an asset as long as his opinion is followed, but any slight to his honor could lead him into a dangerous, brooding rage.

Oultrejordain
The only vassal even more unpredictable than Raymond is Reynald de Chatillon, Lord of Oultrejordain. He rules de jure uxoris, or by right of his wife Etienette de Milly. They have both been married before: Reynald to the Princess of Antioch (which explains his love of power and finery), and Etienette to the Lord of Toron, by whom she had a son, Humphrey. The most important thing to remember about Reynald is that he is fickle, reckless and power-hungry. He has already been raiding Muslim caravans on the outskirts of his territory, recently causing even Sultan Saladin himself to vow vengeance. That’s a very, very bad thing. Oh, and Humphrey of Toron, Reynald’s stepson, is betrothed to Sibylla’s half-sister Princess Isabelle (!).

Antioch
Prince Bohemond the Stammerer of Antioch is de jure independent of Jerusalem, but in practice he is forced to rely on Jerusalem for both support and safety. With the Seljuk Turks to the north and the Ayyubids to the east, his small territories are barely an appendage to Jerusalem. Of note is his relationship with his neighbor Raymond of Tripoli, who is his cousin and ally.

And now to get down to business…

***

1180

With so many treacherous vassals to contend with, the first order of business for our fetching young Princess was to find a decent spouse. Since Baldwin was not expected to live long, the vassals were anticipating that whomever Sibylla married would swiftly become the real power in the land. Therefore a capable, strong-willed husband was in order – not only to put the vassals at ease, but to be strong enough to knock them around if they became troublesome.

I didn’t even need to look to find the perfect candidate, for I had one in mind already. No, not Guy de Lusignan. I was more than content to allow that idiot to spend his days puttering around southern France as the worthless younger son of a second-rate French count that he was.

Instead, we go now to the Aquitaine, where we find our premier marriage candidate: Sibylla’s first cousin once removed.

Allow me to introduce Richard of Anjou, second son of the King of England and heir to the Duchy of Aquitaine.

The one they call Cœur de Lion.



(SIBYLLA'S THEME MUSIC)

***

More to come...
 
Last edited:

morningSIDEr

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A wonderful start to things, I was instantly smiling at this line.

This time around, I’ll be telling a different tale. I want to tell the story of the Kingdom of Jerusalem without that prat Guy de Lusignan hanging around my neck like a millstone.
Consider me very much subscribed. You have a difficult starting location but with many, uh, 'loyal' vassals to call upon I'm sure everything will go well!
 

unmerged(444330)

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I enjoy all the background information you share. Are you a historian or educated somehow about this time of age?

I will keep an eye on this one for sure. :)
 

Qorten

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I loved the first Golden Cross. I don't know how decent the shape of CK2 is bugwise, but maybe you ought to wait for the first patch to be released (I even don't know whether Paradox released one already or not, too much to do in too little time!). Anyway, whatever you do and whatever happens in Golden Cross Redux, I'm sure it's going to be a magnificent read and I'll do my best to follow (or catch up eventually).
 

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As others have already said, this looks excellent and I shall be eagerly following!
 

The Kingmaker

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RESPONSES

morningSIDEr: Thank you! Yes, I expect that my rather "interesting" handful of vassals will soon prove to be, well... quite the handful. ;)

slokiller: Thanks. I've got the next update in the works, so you won't have to wait long to find out!

zenxl: Thanks, that's very flattering. As a matter of fact, I am an aspiring historian. I've nearly completed my master's degree in medieval history and intend to pursue a doctorate soon after. I just can't seem to get away from my passion for history.

Zzzzz...: Welcome back! Glad to have you aboard.

loki100: That's high praise. I'll do my best to live up to it.

Cartimandua: You know me all too well. ;) I'm very grateful to have your support for my writing efforts.

Qorten: Good to see you again! I have indeed taken the recent patch into consideration, which may be mentioned in passing in the next update.

metaliturtle: Hey there! Good to see a familiar face.

The_Archduke: Thank you sir! It's always a pleasure to have you following my writing. :D

Hannibal X: Thank you! Welcome back to the AAR, such as it is.

Robert Wyatt: Indeed. I think I'm going to need to stop by your story some time and check it out.

Carlstadt Boy: Welcome aboard!

Warspite_TW: Great! I hope you enjoy the story.

BwenGun: Thank you. I certainly hope I can live up to everyone's expectations. :)
 
Last edited:

The Kingmaker

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TILL DEATH DO US PART



1180

An appropriately flowery marriage proposal was sent to England forthwith. Originally I had asked Richard for a matrilineal marriage in an attempt to save myself some grief. In my first playthrough he accepted my request immediately, but now in my post-patch game he refuses every time and will only accede to an offer of a regular patrilineal union. (I’m aware that this will require a reload at a later occasion in order for me to play as any of their heirs.) In reality this should not be a problem at all, because the Houses of Anjou and Plantagenet are truly just two different branches of the same family. (Perhaps in future Paradox will include a means of distinguishing alternate branches of greater houses. That would be particularly wonderful for dealing with long-lived families like the Capets.)

With the marriage proposal sent off to Richard the Lionhearted and Sibylla’s first ambition set to “Get Married,” it was now time to assign the Princess’ courtiers to their various responsibilities.

Of Sibylla’s three counties, Jaffa was by far the most populous and prosperous, so I assigned the Steward to collect extra taxes there. I also placed the Marshal there to train the local levies, although I expected Richard would soon be filling that position. The Chaplain I sent to the province of Darum to curry favor with the influential Bishop of Gaza. The other two courtiers I assigned to missions outside Sibylla’s demesne: the Spymaster was sent to Jerusalem to keep an eye on any plots that might be brewing in the capital, and the Chancellor was sent to Acre to work on a claim for the lands of Sibylla’s uncle Joscelin.

Shortly thereafter, amidst great pomp and fanfare, Richard Cœur de Lion arrived with a retinue fit for a king. Sibylla was immediately smitten with her cousin, who was tall, fair-haired and handsome. The local townsfolk seemed equally enamored with the charismatic newcomer and his glamorous entourage of gallant knights and fair damsels.

There was but one concern which overshadowed all the splendor: the glowering specter of consanguinity. For Richard and Sibylla were first cousins, once removed; her father King Amalric was the younger half-brother of Richard’s grandfather Geoffrey of Anjou. That relationship makes for just two degrees of separation, well within the church’s prohibited seven degrees of shared lineage. Behold:


Nevertheless, the fear of consanguinity need not be an insurmountable burden. Such measures were simply the church’s methods of meddling in important royal marriages, which gave them a great measure of influence and power over the nobility. Many medieval couples were consanguineous, including William the Conqueror and Matilda of Flanders, and Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII of France. In the latter case, consanguinity was simply the means by which Eleanor obtained an easy annulment.

So I thought I’d ask forgiveness later rather than permission first. It’s a lot easier to pay an indulgence than to overturn a papal ban. Of course there’s always the worry that such a coupling could produce inbred children, but I thought I’d take the risk in this instance. It’s Richard the Lionhearted, after all.

The wedding was a sumptuous affair held at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. All the great lords and magnates of the realm were in attendance to witness the nuptials of the Crown Princess. The raven-haired Sibylla was absolutely resplendent in shimmering, ermine-edged white samite while Richard was clad in a fine dalmatic of his trademark crimson. The ceremony was performed by Heraclius, the newly-invested Patriarch of Jerusalem, who spoke much of duty, love and filial piety, but breathed nary a word about consanguinity.

Some of the more strident clerics of the realm wondered at the Patriarch’s oversight of such a glaring matter, but then they must not have been very well-informed as to the Patriarch’s most important supporter: Agnes de Courtenay. King Baldwin had considered the many clerical factions contending for the office to be far too partisan to make an unbiased decision, so he relegated the task to his mother and her ladies-in-waiting. Needless to say, the new Patriarch was thoroughly “educated” on the more particular aspects of his office.

***

With Sibylla’s marital ambitions successfully completed, it was now time to choose a new goal...

Among the myriad options available to me one stuck out like a sore thumb. I took it immediately and unhesitatingly.

It thus came as no surprise when the spymaster brought back news that Sibylla’s half-sister Isabelle was plotting to have her killed. More specifically, it was Isabelle’s mother Maria Komnena using all of her Byzantine wiles to spearhead the conspiracy. Their motive was obvious -- with Sibylla out of the way, Isabelle could lay claim to the Kingdom of Jerusalem as King Baldwin’s sole surviving heir. But again it was no surprise, for I had already been planning the same thing. What was important now was to make sure that Sibylla’s hired blades made it to their target before Isabelle’s (or rather her mother Maria’s) could do the same.


The most obvious person to invite to the scheme was Sibylla’s doubly-scorned mother, Agnes de Courtenay. As a final insult, she had been assigned to serve as a tutor for Isabelle. That was an enormous mistake on the part of Maria the Dowager. Agnes joined the plot eagerly and her position as tutor made her access to the young woman all the easier.

Finding additional conspirators among the nobility would not be so simple. Raymond of Tiberias was cynical about all of the succession options and would be no help; he might even present a hindrance if he were informed of the scheme. Neither Etienette de Milly nor her husband Reynald would be of any assistance either, for her son Humphrey was betrothed to Princess Isabelle and they would not likely part with such a large boost to their own prestige. The steadfast Balian of Ibelin was useless -- he was Maria’s loyal husband and Isabelle’s stepfather and guardian.

But there was one other courtier I had yet to try.

A few months after I commenced the plot, the spymaster reported that a certain individual was guilty of planning a murder and could therefore be justly imprisoned without comment. Who was this cunning plotter? Richard Cœur de Lion, Sibylla’s new husband. And who was the target of his dark plans? None other than Princess Isabelle of Jerusalem.

Brilliant.

Good old Richard was immediately added to the plot, the odds were sky high, the knives went out with a maximum chance of success, and Isabelle perished without so much as a peep. I’m certain Maria suspected Sibylla was responsible, but what could she do? Since their own skills were roughly equal, a real war of knives between the two would cause far too much collateral damage, and as I couldn’t seem to get a plot action against Maria herself, I assumed the same was probably true for her.

***

1181

As the next year commenced, things in the Kingdom of Jerusalem proceeded as usual. Raymond of Tiberias continued to sequester himself in his northern bastion, dour and cynical as ever; Reynald de Chatillon persisted in raiding Saladin’s defenseless caravans; Maria Komnena continued to spin her vindictive webs and King Baldwin’s condition continued to worsen.

Then, as the royal court prepared for the annual celebration of Lent, word came from the south of an impending doom. Because of the weakened King Baldwin’s failure to rein in the incorrigible Reynald’s constant harassment, Salah ad-Din had declared a jihad against Oultrejordain.

Sometimes actions can have unforeseen consequences. This is not one of those times.

 
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unmerged(89475)

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Dec 23, 2007
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Awesome, it's nice to see newly weds bonding so quickly. Richard is taking to this like a duck to water isn't he?
 

Kurt_Steiner

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Feb 12, 2005
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Sibylla Vult!

Let's hope that Richard lives longer in Palestine that he did in England... And, of course, Reynald had to cause sombre troubles. It had to be him...:p
 
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