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Feb 22, 2004
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I've decided to start another Crusader Kings AAR with the added bonus of playing an Irish (well, sort of) faction. In order to finish it however I have decided to set out with a Four Step Master Plan (tm) :

1) I have a set goal: Become King of Ireland. Piece of cake. ;)

2) I'm starting in 1337 so I have a deadline.

3) ???

4) Write best Crusader Kings AAR ever.

I am playing the Counts of Desmumu, though I'm using the more period appropriate: 'Earls of Desmond'. Medieval Ireland didn't have Counts (we had Earls like England) and Desmond was the anglicisation of Desmumu. I'm playing the latest Beta.

So without further ado:

The Fitzgeralds: Earls of Desmond


Above: The scenic Earldom of Desmond, 1337

Part 1: Where there's a will...


Above: Maurice Fitzgerald, 1st Earl of Desmond. A modest man with much to be modest of.

Maurice Fitzgerald, 1st Earl of Desmond was not a man overly cursed with undue imagination. However it was the birth of his son (also called Maurice) the previous year that had stirred this dormant part of his personality. Or perhaps it was his marriage, the year before the year before to a member of the historic O'Brien family that had done it.


Above: Countess Margaret. Far too noble to care about such a vulgar thing as money.

Or it may just have been something in the water. Whatever the case something happened to the 1st Earl of Desmond that would change the course of Irish history.

"You've been spending a lot of time speaking with those scholars," noted his wife over another breakfast that saw her husband musing over crumbling codexs and family trees, "what are you planning husband dear?"

The Earl glanced up, deciding to give up trying to decipher a particularly archaic piece of Irish text and confide in her - after all it concerned them both.

"My dear you would agree that we both come from very prestigous families?"

She thought on it before replying: "Well we are half agreed anyway. My family is indeed very prestigous."

"Hmm. Anyway I believe that our son is - technically - the rightful heir High King of Ireland."

"That's very nice I'm sure, but there isn't much we can do is there? King Edward isn't even satisfied with being King of England - I believe he wants to be King of France too. Not really the sort of man to hand over the Kingdom of Ireland to a one year old."

"I'm aware of that," he said rather testily, "but I'm thinking in the long term: maybe not our son, our even his, but his line has the blood and status to become King of Ireland."

"Oh?" A sceptical eyebrow. "Just how are we to manage that?"

Maurice hadn't quite figured that one out yet, but then again it was only nine o'clock in the morning.
It is always hard to not get distracted from your main goal, I know that myself :).

So good luck
Wow, lots of replies. Thanks guys. :)

Alhazen: Well Number 3 is the most important one. :D

J. Passepartout: Four. ;)

SecondReich: Cool. Alas Foharta (Carlow) doesn't feature in the game so I can't play my own family. :)

the_hdk: Thank you. :)

Veldmaarschalk: Indeed. I'll try and avoid being distracted by the clever ploy of being unsuccesful. :)

Drachenfire: Well to the Fitzgeralds anyhow. ;) An unofficial goal is to end up with Irish culture for my characters. :)

Part 2: Maurice the Modest


Above: The modest Killarney tower house of the Fitzgerald family.

The only problem with advancing the Master Plan was that Maurice Fitzgerald was almost exactly the wrong person to do so.

Modest to the point of timidity Maurice was unwilling to make any public or indeed private move to entertain his grand design, at least in the early years. The man who would be king (or at least father to the king) was the last person at the dinnertable to give an anecdote. Not a very awe inspiring beginning. The only place he wasn't modest was in the maratial bed - which though doubtless pleasureable was not useful per se in the matter of taking over Ireland.

However even though he didn't flaunt his powers or resources he was still Earl of Desmond and thus had a certain amount of responsibilities. In a move as unpopular as it was financially sound he legalised moneylenders (1338). This was not a move much appreciated by the Church, so when the Pope asked the Earl to take in an itinerant bishop Maurice jumped at the chance to take him on board - neglecting to wonder exactly why this particular bishop had been having so much difficulty holding on to a diocese of his own.


Above: William O'hEachthighearna, Bishop of Cork

Bishop William turned out to be a Englishman. Not merely one of the Old English like the Fitzgeralds but an actual Englishman from England. From Bristol in fact. And ferociously proud of it.

"So, I couldn't help but notice your name..." said the Earl as tactfully as possible one morning after mass. "It, um, must be a little uncommon in England."

"Oh not at all Your Grace, William is a very common name in Bristol."

"No I mean... Well what was your mothers maiden name?"

"O'Loegaire. Matilda O'Loegaire. Fine old Bristol name." He beamed at the Earl.

Maurice gave up. More trouble than it was worth.

Indeed these were troubling times in general for the British Isles (or Hibernian Archipelago, as certain heroically optomistic Irish geographers were busying suggesting to anyone with in earshot). King Edward III had grown weary of the French pretending he didn't exist and had invaded France. For some reason he felt no need to summon feudal levies from mighty Desmond, nor did his stooge in Dublin. Not that Maurice was exactly longing for war... Just that the opportunity to have to use some excuse would have been nice.

After three strongly worded letters went unanswered he decided to complain in person, so he got up on his horse...and fell off the other side struck dead by a sudden attack of unprecedented old age. (He was 48)

So on the 14th of August 1341 his 5 year old son Young Maurice unexpectedly became the 2nd Earl of Desmond...
That reminds me of my old Orkney game where I had a courtier of Norwegian culture called something like Olaf O'Cathasaigh. Good start. :D
J. Passepartout: Heh, just wait for the names in this episode. ;)

Fiftypence: Thank you. :)

cuchulain: Desmond/Desmumu is just a better location and one I'm experienced in. Don't worry, I'm hoping to make them Irish by the end. :)

Mettermrck: Thanks. :)

Ok, chapter 3 here. After this one I'm trying to find more of a mix between seriousness and comedy, but it's going to take a while to quite get to grips with it, so please be patient. :)

Part 3: The Regency of Countess Margaret.


Above: As a young widow from a famous family Countess Margaret often had to deal with unwelcome passes, no matter how humourously gesticulated

The unexpected death of Earl Maurice had left a 5 year old in charge of the earldom. As the business of a major Irish earldom often - almost weekly indeed, was conducted at a slightly higher level than that of most 5 year olds a regent was called for. But whom?

Naturally Countess Margaret considered herself the best candidate. For one thing she was the mother of Young Maurice - a feat unlikely to be duplicated by even the most determined rival. Also as the earldoms Spy Mistress she was certain to hold juicy blackmail secrets over the other members of the court - or would at least as soon as she figured out how to pick the lock on the Chancellor's diary.


Above: Eleanor O'Cruadhlaoich, Chancellor of the Earldom of Desmond

The Chancellor was her main rival for control of the earldom. An attractive ash blonde with more brains in her little finger than the little fingers of everyone else in the court combined, Eleanor O'Cruadhlaoich was, as can probably be guessed from her name descended from a fine London family. Though cursed with honesty (a devastating drawback in a diplomat) she had a fine line in holding grudges and was rumoured to keep a List. You might never know until the day of reckoning whether or not you made the List (unless of course you asked her), but, on that day you certainly would.

Eventually Margaret won the power struggle. Family connections counted and the O'Briens certainly had better local connections than these O'Cruadhlaoich blow ins from England. Eleanor grumbled and took out the List...

Meanwhile a new nobleman arrived at court - yet another Englishman, named Paul O'hEachthighearna (no relation).


Above: Paul O'hEachthighearna. Family is from Sussex.

Though incompetent in just about everything else Paul managed not to injure himself when given a sword instantly putting him head and shoulders (literally) above the other applicants for the position of Marshal, which he was promptly given.

For the moment however Desmond remained at peace. Not that things were quiet...

Young Maurice it had been decided would have a Court Education which meant long evenings at home pouring over endless genealogies so that young Earl, should at some future occasion, be able to state exactly his family tree in chronological order and exactly what each one had died from, in order that he never be stuck lacking a party trick at parties. On one evening in 1342 Countess Margaret discovered, tucked within one of these genealogies that Young Maurice was in fact the rightful claimant to the throne of Tuadmumu.

Suspicions were arroused when skeptics pointed that this link was noted in no order source and also the ink was still wet (and slightly smudged). Still Young Maurice now had a claim to Tuadmumu, needing only to pry it out of the current owners hands. As the current owner possessed an army exactly the same size as that of the Earl of Desmond this currently seemed a remote possibility, but one never knew.

Then in 1343 to mass astonishment Edward III, King of England and (or so he claimed) France dropped dead in France at the age of only 31, leaving behind an underaged son, now Edward IV and a confused situation France - to say nothing of England.

These momentous events meant relatively little in Desmond, which though a part of the Kingdom of England and a vassal of the Duke of Meath had little contact with it's liege and ground on as usual, indeed they failed even to send a replacement when Bishop O'hEachthighearna died of old age in 1345.

As for Young Maurice he was beginning to grow up now, and he was learning a lot from observing the swirl of court politics. He was certainly not going to be known as Maurice the Modest like his father. Cruelty and decietfulness seemed like much more useful traits in an Earl...
Why steal someone else's list when you can make your own? (Maurice DID learn to read/write while he was studying genealogy?)

I agree with Alhazen, I like your third goal best, Ross.

Also, since my ancestry is English, I have to approve of all these good, practical English names in your game so far Ross. :D
Ah, great joy, another Ross AAR! I shall eagerly follow this one!

Now with Edward III out of the way, mayhap Maurice (despite his young age) can start moving closer to the High King's throne?
J. Passepartout: :D Well he isn't five any longer.

CatKnight: Young Maurice did indeed learn to read and write - forgery is an important weapon in any political armoury. :D I'm sure an Irish 'Donal Smith' is in the future. ;)

Draco Rexus: Perhaps indeed. :) See Part 5, upcoming, for what kind of king, Edward IV is.

Part 4: Young Maurice


Above: Young Maurice 2nd Earl of Desmond

Young Maurice had suffered a fairly tragic life. The early death of his father had been bad enough, but much worse had been inheriting his fathers looks.

Nevertheless he was a cleverer, though crueler man than his father and had been preparing himself mentally for his reign most of his life, so it was with a certain degree of impatience that he finally gained control of his Earldom after turning 16 in January of 1352.

He summoned the court to his Great Hall and informed them bluntly:

"I am the Earl and I expect you to follow my orders. I shall ask for your counsel and if it is good I shall heed it, but never make the mistake of thinking you still have a say in running the country - that say belongs to me, and to me alone."

Having said that he promptly informed his startled courtiers that they were going to war with the King of Thomond [OOC - the County of Tuadmumu], Mataghamhain O'Brien, despite his name a native irishman.

"But Your Grace," said Eleanor a little nervously, her hateful honesty forcing her onward, "they are practically our equal millitarily. And they have a better Marshal."

Before Marshal O'hEachthighearna could raise his scandalised objection to this perfectly true piece of information the Earl waived his chance to do so.

"Well," he said smiling unpleasantly, "in that case my new Spy Mistress, I shall leave it to you to make sure that marshal is no more. My mother can handle the Chancellors office for the moment."

With which he swept grandly from the room, uncaring for any objections from either the former Spy Mistress or Chancellor, now uncerimoniously swapped around.


Unfortunatly the attempt to take out the marshal failed and worse the man spilled the truth, causing considerable damage to the Earl's reputation. Uncharacteristically he chose not to punish Eleanor for this failure - she was simply too useful and talented.

"Well it's too bad," Young Maurice shrugged, "but it was a thin risk in any case. We'll just have to it the old fashioned way."

So the army of Desmond marched into Thomond under the banner of Young Maurice, loudly proclaiming his right to Thomond to all and sundry. He was well aware that he if stumbled here that would be the end for him, but this conferred on him more a dermination to gamble than to be caustious - what throne was ever won by staying at home?


Above: The Battle of Cloneagh

The two armies joined battle at Cloneagh in February. The Thomond army was slightly the smaller and more infantry based than the Desmond force, but the Earl proved a fairly capable cavalry commander caving in the Thomond flanks and routing Mataghamhain - though at enormous cost. Staring the war with 1800 soldiers Young Maurice had under 400 left to carry on the siege of Limerick, Mataghamhain's capital.

It took a full 8 months before Limerick finally surrendered and Mataghamhain was exiled to a foreign court, leaving Young Maurice lord of Thomond. Unmerciful in victory the Earl of Desmond demanded his due: Thomond and 82 ducats, forcing the wretched king to pay up by leaving him tied to a stake in Dingle Bay at low tide and coming back just before high tide cleared his chin.

The money was almost as important as the land, allowing as did the dream of kingship to become just that little bit closer. For on the 18th January, three weeks after his 17th birthday Young Maurice bribed the English court 100 ducats to grant himself a new title: Duke of Munster.

He was on his way now.


Above: Fitzgerald possesions, 1352
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Well done! But shouldn't it be King of Munster? After all, the Irish were notorious for calling a man 'king' if he had two acres and a pig of his own. ;)
King of Men: First thank you for commenting. :) As for kingship - Maurice is still English (by culture) and an English vassal so he feels more comfortable with the English title of Duke. An Irish (culturally) successor might think differently...

J. Passepartout: Well obviously. :D

I can see my transition to a more serious style hasnt been very popular. I'm sorry guys, but i wasn't sure if I could sustain a pure comedy AAR. :(

Part 5: To Court a Wife


Above: Maurice fixes his army payrolls.

Edward IV was heavily involved in wars. Quite apart from the tradtional fighting with France he somehow managed to find himself at war with the Prince of Novrogrod, who had the gall to actually sail up the Thames and sack London while the English armies were in Aquitaine, so to his great annoyance Maurice found incessant demands for levies arriving at his hall. Reluctantly he agreed, but spitefully ordered his Steward to cut there upkeep to the bone.

"He can have my men, but I'll be damned if I pay for them."

Unfortunatly this lack of men, accompanied by a lack of, ahem, "legitimate" claims in Ireland hampered any potential wars. Which was just as well really as Maurice was busying with something infinitely more dangerous: wifehunting.


The obvious candidate was the only child of a wealthy earl or duke. Unfortunately there was no such noblewoman in Ireland and Maurice had determined he would need to marry an Irishwoman if he and his family were to be fully accepted as rulers of Ireland. Still there were two potential brides: Ben Muman of Leinster and Gráinne of Tir Connail. Daughters of their respective native kings. After some hesitation Maurice asked Eleanor (now restored as Chancellor) if she had any advice:

"Well Your Grace," she said after some thought, "Gráinne is probably the better of the two. She's intelligent well educated and very regal and it will be easier to persuade Tir Connail to give one of several children the Leinster to give his one. Though to be fair she's also proud, cruel and selfish."

"Sounds perfect. Soft mothers make for soft sons. Is she pretty?"

"Fairly so Your Grace - certainly more so than the Leinster lady."

So it was that Gráinne O'Domhnaill became Duchess of Munster. Or rather, to her mind Queen of Munster: the O'Domhnaills of Tir Connail were very oldfangled culturally with little adoption of English culture. Her husbands famous Norman name and English titles meant nothing to her, the fact that he was a descendant of the O'Brien kings of Munster and now ruler of that ancient province meant everything.

Certainly despite potential cultural conflict the two experienced instant connection in one important respect: within a week Gráinne was pregnant. A passionate, ferociously proud young woman she had seen something within her husband that drew her deeply and he with her. A flame soon kindled between them.

To Eleanors dismay she followed this achievement by completing her education and revealing herself to be a first class diplomat (the phrase 'grey emminence' was used) and she found herself demoted back to Spy Mistress in favour of the Duchess (or Queen).

Above: Gráinne O'Domhnaill, Duchess of Munster (or Queen of Munster)

Though she had no English and very little French, she spoke beautiful and very pure Irish and considerable Latin (the only language she shared relative profiency with her husband, though she was teaching him Irish). Certainly when she wanted too Gráinne had little danger making herself understood.

In December of that year (1354) she gave birth to a son, whom she convinced Maurice to name Flaithbeartach. She was absolutely determined to raise this son and heir in the old Irish ways.


Above: Flaithbeartach Fitzgerald, future Duke... and perhaps Rí