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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Jarren

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Deus Vult!


Prologue: The Kinslayer
The story of the Latin Empire is written in blood. The blood soaked ground at the Horns of Hattin in 1187 is where we begin our tale. That accursed day when God punished the sinful Christians by allowing the infidel to destroy them. With his enemies defeated, the great Sultan Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn was able to conquer most of the Kingdom of Jerusalem. When news of the fall of the Holy City reached Europe, the stage was set for a Third Crusade, the glory of which is still remembered fondly by both sides. The names of Richard the Lionheart, Fredrick Barbarossa, Philip Augustus and Saladin are still spoken in awed tones, as if they still have some hidden power. The battles of Acre, Jaffa and beyond ensured the survival of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, but failed to recapture Jerusalem for Christ.

It also failed to restore the home of one Richard Clement, who shall be the first subject of our tale. We know little of his origins, save that he shared his name with his father. This has led many to believe he was a bastard of some Outremer noblewoman, a rumor that Richard himself did nothing to deny. His name Clément is Frankish in origin, but he is unrelated to any known noble house in France. He entered the service of the Knights Templar as a stable hand, but was quickly poached by one of the knights as his personal squire. He taught Richard everything he knew about warfare, which after thirty years fighting the Turks was quite a lot. Unfortunately for Richard, his master was to die at the Battle of Hattin before his education could be completed. Richard barely escaped himself, and carried the news to Jerusalem of the army’s defeat. For a month he remained there, as Saladin slowly made his way south to the Holy City. Refugees flooded in from the countryside, but precious few of them had any military training.

Finally the commander of the city garrison, Balian of Ibelin, began knighting any man of noble birth who could swing a sword. Richard, having some military training, was one of the first to receive this honor, and so became a Knight of Jerusalem. He fought hard during the month long siege, and left with Balian when the city was surrendered on October 2nd 1189. Upon arriving in Tripoli, Richard was appalled to see that the local Frankish rulers were robbing the refugees of their possessions, and then expelling them from the county. Richard was surprised to find his father leading some of the robbers, and even more surprised when the men with his father attacked him. A furious battle ensued, with the younger Richard abandoning himself into primal rage at this betrayal. When the dust cleared, Richards father lay dead at his feat, stuck down by his own son. Bohemond of Tripoli sought to arrest the so called “murderer” but Richard was saved by his patron Balian of Ibilin. Bohemond, knowing that he needed Balian's support for his county to survive, agreed to release Richard. Despite the circumstances, Richard was marked as a kinslayer by all in Christendom. This made him a pariah in Outremer, and he soon left for France.


The Crusader army is destroyed at Hattin...​

He arrived in 1190, and for the next several years spent his time in the service of Baldwin of Flanders, a powerful lord in northern France. During this time Richard discovered that the women of France were far more beautiful and plentiful than they had been in Outremer, and developed a well-deserved reputation as a “fornicator extraordinaire”. Amazingly he is not known to have any children from this time, but did fight several duels with angry husbands of his conquests. He served his lord admirably, but because of his status with the church Baldwin was prevented from granting him lands in recompense. He was also denied any possibility of a noble marriage, for no lord wanted his daughter to marry a landless knight who was bound to Hell. Some have asked why Richard did not seek penance from the church, and the answer is quite complicated. His experiences in Outremer had shaken his faith in god, and taught him nothing but contempt for the Church. This anger led him to ignore the calls from the priests to repent, and to scoff at the idea of a holy pilgrimage. That is until his lord heard the preaching of one Fulk of Neuilly, a celebrated preacher who successfully convinced many lord to take the Cross. Baldwin of Flanders was inspired, and Richard was duty bound to accompany his lord. As one who had fought against the Saracens before, he was immediately raised to one of the top advisors to the Crusade’s leaders. Unfortunately for Richards’s spiritual health, the Crusade became hopelessly mired in debt to the Venetians, and they were diverted to the city of Zara on the coast of Croatia. The Catholic inhabitants there were surprised to see a Crusader army attacking their city, and the subsequent sack left a dark shadow over the rest of the expedition.


Zara is besieged by the Crusaders​

Still short of funds to pay the debts, the commanders of the Crusade now heard a plea from Alexios IV, a prince of Byzantium. He promised to pay the entire cost of the expedition, along with providing military aid, if he was made Basileus by the Crusaders. Desperate, and with great prodding by the Venetians, the Crusaders sailed north, conquering several islands in the Aegean before landing across the Bosporus from The City. The daring naval assault and subsequent flight of Basileus Alexios III and his army allowed the Crusaders to besiege the city. After three days fierce fighting the Crusaders entered the city, only to find that the “pretender” Alexios III had fled and the former Basileus Isaac II had been re crowned. The blind Isaac was persuaded to crown his son Alexios IV co-emperor, and the Crusaders withdrew from the city to await payment. But Alexios IV could not raise the funds, and his attempts to do so greatly angered his vassals. When Isaac II died in January 1204, the people had had enough. Alexios IV was deposed, and on February 5th Alexios Doukas was proclaimed Basileus by the people of the city. Alexios V now tried to negotiate with the Crusaders, who were still awaiting payment for their services. They refused, claiming to still be bound by the terms of their agreement with Alexios IV. When Alexios V ordered the execution of his predecessor, the Crusaders declared their intent to conquer Constantinople and take their payment by force. By late March the Crusaders had taken up position in Galata, just across the Golden Horn from the city. Finally on April 12th, fine weather permitted the Venetians to bring their navy up to the walls. Richard himself was one of the seventy Crusaders who managed to scale the walls, and despite his wounds successfully broke open the walls in the northern area of Blachernae, allowing the Crusaders to pour into the City. He was struck by a rock thrown from the walls, and did not awake for two days.


The Venetian forces storm ashore...​

The historian Seperos Vryonis relates the horror of the Sack that followed

“The Latin soldiery subjected the greatest city in Europe to an indescribable sack. For three days they murdered, raped, looted and destroyed on a scale which even the ancient Vandals and Goths would have found unbelievable. Constantinople had become a veritable museum of ancient and Byzantine art, an emporium of such incredible wealth that the Latin’s were astounded at the riches they found. Though the Venetians had an appreciation for the art which they discovered and saved much of it, if only to return to Venice for display in St. Marks, the French and others destroyed indiscriminately, halting to refresh themselves with wine, violation of nuns, and murder of Orthodox clerics. The Crusaders vented their hatred for the Greeks most spectacularly in the desecration of the greatest Church in Christendom. They smashed the silver iconostasis, the icons and the holy books of Hagia Sophia, and seated upon the patriarchal throne a whore who sang coarse songs as they drank wine from the Church's holy vessels…”


The Sack of Constantinople...​

Richard, which supposed anything he had seen in the Holy Land. Even the Saracens had let the citizens of Jerusalem pay a ransom, rather than slaughtering them as the First Crusaders had. He tried in vain to restrain his men, pulling them off of women in the streets, even drawing his sword to defend a family in the Hagia Sophia. It was here that Baldwin found him, facing down seven blood crazed soldiers with several young children and their mother behind him. After ordering his soldiers to stand down, Baldwin turned to his friend. “Richard, I didn’t know you were awake.” Sheathing his sword, but still standing between the soldiers and the civilians, Richard replied “The shrieks of dying men and raped women roused me. My lord, why have you allowed this to happen! Christian nuns raped in the streets, churches burned to the gro-“Baldwin stopped him with a wave of his hand “I know Richard, by God I know. But what’s done is done, and we now have to deal with the consequences.” Richard stood, staring at his liege with an angry expression on his face. “This Crusade is over Richard, the Venetians have already sailed home. The other leaders are planning to declare a new Imperium Romaniae, and they want me to become Emperor.” Richard, a crestfallen expression on his face, spoke “Congratulations lord, I wish you the best of fortune.” Baldwin now smiled “I refused their offer Richard. I want you to be Emperor.” Richards’s mouth fell open, and he gaped silently at his liege. Baldwin smiled again. “I know this is a shock, but I feel that you are the best choice for the job. You are intelligent, charismatic and well skilled in the arts of war. Your actions on the walls also earned the admiration of the entire army. Beyond all that, I think you are the one person who can make something good out of all this horror. No matter what the Pope may say all the men in this army are dammed for this.” Richard now recovered his composure, and began to protest. Baldwin silenced him, and then said “This is my last order as your liege lord. Richard Clement, Knight of Jerusalem and Soldier of Christ, take up now the crown of this Empire and lead it to glory, and redeem all our souls before the eyes of God.” Baldwin now walked away, leaving the new Emperor of the Latin Empire standing alone beneath the basilica…



Authors Note: This is a retrial of an earlier AAR titled The Knight of Jerusalem. I reused some of the writing from the intro, but the gameplay and everything after this point is all new. Ruler designed character, ironman mode
 
Last edited:

Voss

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Latin Empire, interesting as always.
I'd sub if I'd even know how to do this :D. So maybe call me a conservative, but sir, you can be certain I'll look here pretty often
 

DKM

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It's good to see your restarting you Latin Empire AAR. subbed
 

DumBMan

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Very interesting start, makes me want to play Latin Empire.
By the way, I really like Richard as a character and am intrigued what hardships will he face as new-crowned Emperor of Latins. :)
 

volksmarschall

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A new tale of the Latins in the east. Re-write history sir.

Cheers!
 

Jarren

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Chapter One: By Blood and Fire

With the smoke still lingering over the ashes of the City, Emperor Richard had no time to rest. The Greek population of the City seethed under the boot of the Latins, and the Emperor in Nicea was gathering all the forces he could to crush the nacent Latin state. Baldwin and his advisors urged him to strike quickly, lest the fractured Greek realms unite and destroy them. Richard agreed, but he lacked the funds to hire the necessary soldiers. The Venetians had taken almost all the booty from the Sack back with them to Venice, and even installed an Venetian in the Hagia Sophia as its bishop. The Knights Templar had no spare gold to lend, so the Latins were forced to turn to that most hated and despised people known as the Jews. Richard had no love for these people, but knew he needed their gold in order to wage a proper war. So he swallowed his pride and got a loan sufficient to employ three thousand Slavic mercenaries to fight the Greeks. Gathering together all the remaining Crusader forces in Greece with his Slavic forces, Richard had almost ten thousand men at his command. Opposing him was the remnants of the Greek army, numbering just over ten thousand. Luckily for Richard, those forces had not yet assembled when his army crossed the Bospherous in late July of 1204, and several Greek detachments were destroyed. Richard left his steward, Baldwin of Flanders, behind in the City, with instructions to raise whatever money he could and send reinforcements as soon as possible. This would prove to be a wise decision…


But now the battle began in earnest. And the united Greek force of nine thousand five hundred men marched towards the Latin host of nine thousand seven hundred camped near Nicomedia. At their head rode Basileus Thedore Lascaris, flanked by his terrifying Varagnian Guard and his mighty cataphract’s. Both sides seemed evenly matched, but the Greeks held a slight advantage in their cavalry, having both more men on horseback and a company of Turkish horse archers on their flanks. Countering them were the disciplined pikemen of Bulgaria, and the heavy Frankish cavalry led by Richard himself. The field in front of the Latin camp was wide and flat, perfect ground for the cavalry to engage. Fearing his cavalry being outflanked by the larger Greek force, Richard kept them hidden from view behind his camp, and even had some of them ride off in view of the Greeks, to make them think the Latin’s were retreating already. This ruse worked far better than even Richard could hope, as the Greek army immediately charged the Latin’s position. The disorganized Greeks managed to penetrate deep into the camp, but were then driven back by a enormous fire that seemed to explode from the very ground. The night before, Richard had ordered his men to soak the ground of the camp with Greek Fire, and then pulled his army back as the Greeks charged in. Once they were thoughouly ensnared in the trap, torches were tossed into the grass all over the camp, tuning the Greek force into a panicked rabble. Now the Latin infantry attacked, striking hard at the flanks of the Greeks as they tried to retreat. The battle seemed to be turning into a rout, until the Greek cavalry charged into the sides of the Latin’s. This broke the momentum of their charge, and gave the Greeks time to fully retreat and regroup.




The battle ended in a draw that day, but the fire that had served the Latins so well in the morning now began to ravage their supplies, forcing them to break off their pursuit of the Greeks and put down the blaze. Despite their efforts most of their supplies were destroyed, forcing a difficult decision upon Richard. If he stayed and did not achieve a quick victory his army would starve, and if he left to resupply the Greeks could bring in reinforcements and destroy him. At this moment a messenger arrived from the City, bringing news of further troops being mustered by the steward Baldwin of Flanders. Richard asked how Baldwin had come up with the money, and the messenger related the tale as follows

“Noble Baldwin called upon the citizens of the City to give all they had for its defense, but the Greeks were unwilling to part with their remaining goods, and the Venetians simply laughed and set sail, feeling that our cause was doomed to fail. The Steward then turned again to those vile usurers, the Jews, and demanded further funds to supply additional soldiers to your army. The Jews, no doubt secretly hoping that our cause should fail, refused to grant us further funds. They pled poverty, saying that the large loan already given and the Sack of the City had left them destitute and penniless. The Steward looked at their fine clothes and round bellies and immediately ordered the merchants seized, and with the aid of the lash and a strong arm the infidels remembered that they still had a cache of gold hidden in their holy place. The Steward confiscated this, and all the possessions of the Jews remaining in the city to fund another company of soldiers, who are on their way here now….”

Richard was overjoyed to here that further troops and presumably supplies were forthcoming, but his wroth on the Jews for withholding funds from him was terrible to behold. He ordered that all Jews in the Empire of Romania be expelled, and all their assets confiscated to the royal treasury. This order had little effect at first, as the Empire controlled only Constantinople and its immediate surroundings, but it would prove to have far reaching consequences.

Now the bolstered Latin forces attacked the Greek camp, and with the timely arrival of the Slavic Band crushed the last hope of a Greek revival. Richards army gave chase to the scattered survivors of Nicomedia for several weeks afterwards, but the war was essentially over after that first titanic battle. The Empire of Romania had survived its first brush with death, but the next was not long in coming…
 

volksmarschall

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And with this victory, and surely more to come in short order, despite the bloodletting your army also suffered in the battle -- I would gather that hopes for an AI restoration centered around Constantinople like what happened by 1261 is now out of the window.

Which means, it's time for the Latins to fully absorbed 'the empire in exile' and fully inherit the right to stylize itself as the (Latin) Roman Empire!
 

DumBMan

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Great victory over Romans, and also to mention, you found a good time to use Greek fire.
And as volksmarschall said too, I hope that Byzantine's ''successor states'' will focus on recapturing Constantinople adding additional flavour to the aar. ;)
 

Henry v. Keiper

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I'm interested in this. Subscribing. :D Also nice to see points in CK2 where the armies start to get a little bigger than a few thousand at most.
 

RossN

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Very interesting start.

Richard needs to marry and have an heir soon. His traits which are unlikely to lead to longevity!
 

Specialist290

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I have to say that so far I'm enjoying what I'm seeing. I've always enjoyed reading about the Crusades, the Byzantine Empire, and the ups and downs experienced by both, and Latin Empire AARs are rare enough that finding this one is a rather refreshing surprise -- especially with the unique starting character you've presented. Here's to hoping Emperor Richard has a long reign and many strong, prosperous descendants.