91. FOLKE'S PROCESSION OF THE REALM (1399)
Now the Pope in Rome had announced that the fourteen hundredth year after the birth of Christ should be a year of Jubilee and celebration; and to this end Folke undertook a great procession through the Yngling lands. Everywhere he went, he gave food to the poor, settled long-standing feuds, and tithed generously to the Church. In Norrland the Swedes turned out five thousand strong to meet him. When Folke went out among them to speak with the men, his officers tried to hold him back, lest there should be assassins in the crowd; but Folke said "Why should I worry? Five thousand men guard me here." Along the rivers of Rus, Folke drank vodka into the late hours. In Finland, he sat at sauna with the notables, and tumbled in the snow afterwards. In Germany he met with the burghers, and heard Mass at the Church of Our Lady of the Waters in Hamburg. And in Iceland he hunted ice-bears, and sprinkled three drops of his blood over the howes there; for, he said, "Although they had not the Christian faith, still they were great men in their time; and I would do them honour in their own way." In this manner King Folke came to know his people, and they him.
92. WAR OF SILESIAN SUCCESSION (1400)
We have told how Skofte Yngling was heir to the counties of Lubusz and Poznanskie, and how, after his death at the hands of Polish assassins, these lands fell to his uncle, Friedrich Yngling, who was Duke of Coimbra in Castille. Now Friedrich had no sons; and therefore King Folke was not greatly put out; for he had not liked Skofte, and he was soon able to arrange that one of Friedrich's daughters should marry Eirik, a landless Yngling of his court. But Mieszko grew angry at this, for he felt that an understanding had been broken, and that Folke had agreed that the Lubusz lands should be his. To this Folke replied "As to that, you must speak with the Castillian King; but for myself, I never have, and never will, agree that a Polack should have a say in a Norwegian marriage."
Mieszko did not reply to this; but instead he sent emissaries to Friedrich, pretending to be the Norwegian delegation come to bring his daughter to Norway, and bearing rich bride-gifts. But when they were well out of sight of the Coimbrans, the Poles killed Osterhild and left her body for the crows; in this manner, the marriage was foiled.
The Maid of Coimbra.
At this Folke grew dark and sad, and said "It is an ill thing to make war on women. Our vengeance must be terrible, else this will become a common custom, and no woman will be safe." A few months later, as the young sons of Mieszko were travelling to their summer castles on the Black Sea, their train was ambushed, and all were slain. In this manner did Folke avenge the Maid of Coimbra, and give Miesko grief for grief.
This guy was Sterk's heir after our little duel of assassins, and he had just changed his law to salic consang and couldn't get away from him. Tell you the truth, I'm not surprised he was a touch annoyed. As it turned out, though, his king survived to 1419.
But, grieving, Mieszko could still share his sorrow with others; and he ordered the armies of Poland mustered for war. And because the kings of Flandern looked with greedy eyes upon Celle and Bremen, that they had lost many years before, men now marched on Norway from two sides. The Elbe and the Oder resounded with the clash of arms; but against such numbers as Flanders and Poland together could bring to bear, there was little the men of Germany could do. Still Folke did not give up hope : "There are more nations in the world than three", he said, "and Norway has been in worse straits ere this." And he sent out the war-arrow; from the narrow fjords of Norway, the deep forests of Sweden, and the thousand lakes of Finland, warriors by their thousands answered his call.
But the plains of Poland, too, are rich in warriors, and the cities of Flanders sent forth their sons by the tens of thousands. Bremen and Brandenburg fell to the invaders before the dragon-ships had crossed the East-sea, and Novgorod came under siege. Folke's emissaries to Hungary and Italy were rebuffed, and Polish ships raided Gotland and the Swedish coast.
Germany ablaze with war. As you can see, I'm getting hammered.
Then Folke said, "The willow bends where the oak breaks; if we cannot win, let us not lose more than we must. There will come better days; for now, let no more men die uselessly." Thus he sent to Mieszko and to Robert de Flandre, asking what were their terms for peace. On hearing this, Mieszko laughed and said, "Now the Norse king begs for quarter; and quarter he shall have. Krakow quarter." And when the reply came back, Folke blanched; for Mieszko demanded that Novgorod and Brandenburg both be returned to his rule, and also broad lands around Novgorod, even to Lake Ladoga. At this Folke balked; and as Robert de Flandre's demands were much more reasonable, he quickly agreed to hand over Bremen and Celle, hoping thereby to split the allies and deal with Poland alone. With this threat Mieszko at first grew more timid; but as Robert would not agree to a peace that did not include his ally, naught came of this, and in the end Folke was forced to give over, lest the Poles cross the Sound and ravage Norway itself.
The Polish demands in Russia. In addition comes Brandenburg. You can see why I was reluctant to make such a peace; but it was that or see Polish warriors in Bergen, and a dictated peace stripping me of all my Russian lands. In the end, the treaty was not completely enforced, due mainly to Sterk being absent. Still, the return of Novgorod is one of my immediate goals for the EU2 period.
93. DEATH OF FOLKE (1402)
Now with this defeat, Folke was the first king of Norway in three hundred years to lose a war; and this thought darkened his every day. He began to refuse food and drink, and grew thin and drawn; his hair became white, and his booming voice was softened to a thin whisper. Three months after the Peace of Rugen, he turned his face to the wall, and did not rise from his bed again. The court mourned, but was not surprised.
Folke had been well liked among the people, and there were few who held him at fault for the greed of Mieszko; so his name was not least among the kings of Norway. And though they could not give him a conqueror's name, he was called the People's King, because he had loved them well.
Here ends the saga of Folke Akesson Yngling.
As a side note, Folke is actually a Galloway-Yngling; his father Ake was Duke of Småland and Galloway. That sub-dynasty gets everywhere!
93. ELECTION OF TORGEIR (1402-1414)
Torgeir was Jarl in Akershus when Folke died; because he was a man of stature among the Ynglings, and because he had fought well against the Poles, the Yngling men elected him King of Norway. Of his reign there is little to tell; he busied himself in restoring the land from the ravages of Mieszko's men, and planning for revenge. He gave generously of his own pocket, to rebuild the walls and houses of Hamburg and Lubeck; the burnt docks of Mecklemburg he rebuilt in stone, twice as large as before. Each summer he called out the leidang of three provinces, and had them practice mock war against each other, until the men grew hard and practiced, and could maneuver their ships as though they were indeed sea-horses.
But as the years went by and Miszko's health continued good, Torgeir grew discouraged; for it had been his plan to await the death of Mieszko, and the ascension to the throne of his son Zbigniew, to launch his attack. He began to be plagued by ill dreams, and circles appeared under his eyes; nor would he take comfort in the company of his wife. Soon it was clear to all that, however well he had prepared for war, Torgeir would not live to see Mieszko's death. Then he said "I have wrought well; it is time to use the weapon I have made. I shall travel south to Spain, and join the Italian King's war there. It is meet that a King of Norway should die in battle; now, who will come with me?" Many men of Norway clamoured to go; but Torgeir took no youngsters, and only such men who had had two sons live to see their twelfth winter. Then he set forth in a fleet of a hundred ships, landing in Asturias de Santillana in the spring of 1413, and marching south to lay siege to Burgos, the seat of the Castillian kings. Now at this time the Castillians were at war with the King of Italy, who desired them to give up their dominion over the Two-River land; so there were few to stand against Torgeir as he went through the land. When he reached Burgos, the magistrates there gave him bread and salt, and in return he spared their city. But when he went west to Compostela, he met the host of Friedrich Yngling, who was Duke of Coimbra. Then Torgeir sent to his kinsman, saying that Ynglings should not fight, but instead stand together against foreigners. But Friedrich sent back this word : "What is the blood of the Ynglings to me? I was born in Spain; its hills and skies are in my bones; here I will lay my bones when my time comes to die. If you would have peace with this Yngling, go back to your chilly fjords, with my blessing." Then Torgeir grew angry, and told his men that Friedrich had betrayed the Yngling-ætt; and they went forth for battle. Now Friedrich drew up his men in a broad wedge, with his own household guard at the front; but Torgeir had his men form a shallow crescent, with the opening of the arc away from the enemy; and he had his best men placed on the sides.
Torgeir's enemy and nemesis.
The Spaniards charged then like a river in flood, crying "Santiago! Santiago and Spain!" But louder was the Norwegian cry, "Death to traitors!" For although the weak center of Torgeir's line gave way before the charge, as he had planned, the men there still slowed the Spanish advance. Then the edges of the crescent came in on both sides of the Spanish army; and when the sun set that day, Friedrich Yngling was a captive of the Norwegian host, and his warriors scattered to the winds. But in the midst of this battle Torgeir took a blow to the head, so that his helmet broke the skull; then he lay three days unwaking, and on the third day he died.
Because of his victories in Spain, Torgeir is often called the Southfarer; though there are some who prefer to name him Hærbøte, for that he had remade the Norwegian host after the Peace of Rugen.
Here ends the saga of Torgeir Sigurdsson Yngling.
94. ELECTION OF OTTAR (1414)
Now before he left for Spain, Torgeir had called a Ting, and there he had asked that the Ynglings elect Ottar, Duke of Skåne, as his successor. Some men grumbled at this, saying it was not meet for a king to choose his heir, as that power had always fallen to the assembled Ynglings. But others held that Torgeir had taken no power away from them, but merely asked that they use it before his death. And as Ottar was a strong and likeable man, he was soon elected Heir of Norway, and took his place in Bergenshus as Torgeir sailed south.
The last saga-king of Norway.
Now, it had always been Ottar's intent to attack Poland and reverse the Treaty of Rugen; it was for this reason that Torgeir had chosen him, as the man best able to carry out that plan. But the Norns spin no man's life as he plans; but chance and fate happen to us all. Thus it came about that the Pope sent word to Ottar, demanding that he make no war on the Polish King, but obey the Peace of God. And as Ottar was a pious and God-fearing man, he agreed to this, though not without some unkind words. Instead he sent to Mieszko, offering the Lubusz and Poznanskie lands that Torgeir had obtained from Friedrich, to be the ransom of Brandenburg. And as these lands were very close to Krakow, and Mieszko feared lest the Norwegian armies should descend on his capital, he agreed to the trade.
(OOC : Well, it was very nearly as annoying as this. In fact, every time I mobilised and DOWed, the game would crash. Talk about your messages from God! I was seriously pissed at this, I could have smashed him completely - total manpower 400k while his AI had frittered him down to 150k or so. Hence Torgeir 'Hærbøte'. Ah well, I'll smash him in EU2 instead. Alas, it makes for a rather weak ending to the CK portion.)
Now after this there is little to say of the reign of Ottar; for the time of the hero-kings of Norway drew to its end, and the pen replaced the sword as the instrument of rule. Now clerks and scribes were given as much honour in Bergen as brave warriors, and gold was more spoken of than steel in Håkon's Hall. But even so, Norway's mountains stand guard over the Yngling line, and ensure that none of them can grow too soft; and the long darkness of the winters enters their souls, and gives them the strength to rule far-flung lands. And their boys still go to Nidaros, to swear the Kin-Oath before the grave of Håkon. And under Dovre sleeps Olaf Halkjellson; and the promise that he shall awaken in Norway's darkest hour still gives comfort to house and hut alike. For our father have not fought in vain, nor our mothers cried; and, if needed, we too will march to defend this beloved country, as it rises, weatherbeaten, over the waters.
Here ends the saga of the kings of Norway.
Europe at the conversion.