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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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Lurken

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Nikolai said:
This is a great read. I'll follow it from now on!:)

Do so, and check out the other AAR thread we got here "March Through Time - AARs".
 

King of Men

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Thanks for the kind comments! Seems my work attracts a dis-proportionate amount of Scandinavians. I suppose pastiches are most effective when you're familiar with the original work. (Do they still make you read the sagas in Norwegian schools?) And I even lured a fellow bergenser out of lurkerhood! Which reminds me, I really need to reconquer the old place. Damn that bishop, anyway, I don't mind him becoming Pope, but taking the most important city in Norway along with him is really a bit much!
 

Nikolai

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King of Men said:
(Do they still make you read the sagas in Norwegian schools?)
Yes, I had some of it two years ago when I was in my second year at Danielsen VGS.:)

And I even lured a fellow bergenser out of lurkerhood!
Only a pleasure.
:cool: :p
 

das

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*notices that he is the only non-Scandinavian here*

On the other hand, Rus was to a major extent founder by Vikings, so I guess I'm a honorary Scandinavian... ;) The only "sagas" that I somehow remember are Lay of Igor's Campaign and the Tale of Temporary Years (more of a chronicle, but the format is essentially the same), though. Does that count?
 

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In Denmark it is also common that children and students reads Sagas. But I dont think that only Scandinavians can understand and wants to read them.. I'm certain that all can enjoy this great AAR, whatever they are raised with! :)
 

das

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I quite agree. Tale of Temporary Years still does have a very similar format, but this is much more interesting. You should publish it one day.
 

King of Men

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das : I've already published it, right here! But thanks for the thought. I hereby bestow on you the title of Honorary Scandinavian For AAR Purposes. This gives you the right to drink to excess, carry a knife at all times, and talk in a melodious up-and-down (potato in throat is optional); plus, of course, you're allowed to read this thread. :p You're not getting any oil, though. :D

Nikolai : Danielsen?! Dear me, I had no idea I would be attracting such riff-ra, er, I mean, worthy members of the proletariat. Went to Katten, me. ;)
 

das

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Thank you, but lets not forget about the primary purpose of this thread. ;) In other words - when is the update?
 

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YNGLINGA SAGA

Due to some unfortunate technical problems, we lost the last two years of our playing time today, in which many interesting things happened. This means, unfortunately, that I am forced to report some fairly repetitive minor wars; I fear, then, that this week's update is not up to my usual standards. Apologies, and better luck next week.

44. ON POLAND AND THE GREAT SVITHJOD (1211-16)

It is said that the earth's circle, which the human race inhabits, is torn across into many bights, so that great seas run into the land from the out-ocean. Thus it is known that a great sea goes into Njorvasund, [the straits of Gibraltar] and up to the land of Jerusalem. From the same sea a long sea-bight stretches toward the northeast, and is called the Black Sea, and divides the three parts of the earth; of which the eastern part is called Asia, and the western is called by some Europe, by some Enea. Northward of the Black Sea lies Svithjod the Great, or the Cold. The Great Svithjod is reckoned by some not less than the Saracens' land; others compare it to the Great Blueland [Africa]. The northern part of Svithjod lies uninhabited on account of frost and cold, as likewise the southern parts of Blueland are waste from the burning sun. In Svithjod are many great domains, and many wonderful races of men, and many kinds of languages. There are giants, and there are dwarfs, and there are also blue men. There are wild beasts and dreadfully large dragons. From this land came, in the distant past, our ancestors, following Odin, as is told in the Ynglingatal.

Now in the days of King Olaf, it had come to pass that Mieszko Piast, the crafty and war-wise King of Poland, had gathered to himself the kingly power over this great country; this he had accomplished by making war on his brothers, by the use of foul and unnatural magics to make children strangle in their sleep, by secret marches on unsuspecting chiefs, by sending bribes to the greedy and threats to the weak; and by many other evil means, which would take too long to here relate. In this wise the natural order of things had become disturbed, and a darkness was upon the land; which made itself manifest in the numerous plagues that struck the people.

Mieszko Piast :

MieszkoPiast.jpg


Now King Olaf was greatly perturbed by the evil that had come upon his kingdom, and he sent emissaries to Edmund of England, and to Jacques of Flanders, and also to the great kings in the southern lands, saying "Shall we not move upon the man, Mieszko, and bring freedom to Gardarike? Are we not Christian kings, sworn to fight injustice wheresoever it may occur?" And to this the other kings agreed; but there were also some who counselled that they should wait, and bide their time; for travellers from the far east told of a great Christian King, called Prester John, who marched with a vast army from the seas of grass. "Therefore," they said, "we should wait until we can ally with this king, for surely he is sent as God's punishment upon the deeds of the Piast line." And all agreed that this was wise counsel, and emissaries were sent to the east to find Prester John and offer him alliance. And meanwhile swords were sharpened, treasuries filled, and many other warlike preparations were made. For Poland was a mighty kingdom, and its overthrow would be no simple task.

But when men lay plans, it is best for them to write in sand, or in running water; for the fates take no notice of such things, and spin the world as they choose, not as men would have it. Thus it happened now that Drogo de Hauteville, King of Naples, quarreled with his vassal Johann von Nordheim, who held Bavaria and the German lands on the Danube from Drogo. Both men held that the Malaspina family of Tirol owed them allegiance; for Johann claimed that Tirol had been part of Bavaria since his grandfather's time; but Drogo said that since the Malaspinas had rebelled against the von Nordheims, and asked protection of the King of Naples, they were his vassals and owed Johann nothing. Soon this matter came to blows, and Drogo marched north to bring his vassal again to obedience; but Johann, seeing that he could not win the war his words had brought about, turned to the Piasts for protection. And Mieszko Piast, ever eager to see his domains increase, gladly promised Johann a liege-lord's aid; and he marched south to meet Drogo in battle.

But at this there was great outrage in the courts of Europe, and many said that the end times had come, and that Mieszko was the Anti-Christ. For now his realm stretched from the Caspian to the Oder, from the Urals to the Alps; and men said that this must surely be the Great King of Terror spoken of in the Revelation. And so all over Europe men armed themselves for the final battle; in England the Dukes forgot their quarrels and answered the call of their King; from Flanders and Spain, from Hungary and France men marched to oppose the Piast.

Now at this time Olaf was campaigning in Germany in support of the King of France, and also because the German king held Holstein, which from time immemorial had been Danish land. But when he heard of the new aggression of the Polish king, he at once sent emissaries to Eberhard von Thuringen, asking for peace; and as the Emperor was hard pressed, he agreed to this with thanks. Then Olaf turned his army about and marched towards the Oder, and also he sent men ahead to Ernst Finlands-jarl, bidding him raise the countryside to attack Novgorod and bring that city under Norwegian rule. But because Ernst did not gather all his men in one place, saying it would be too difficult to feed them all, but instead sent each leidangs-led's men marching across the countryside, the Poles were able to fall upon them separately, and there was a great loss of life; thus Novgorod was still held for the Piast.

But now Drogo, stealing a march upon the Piast, met Johann's army with a great host, and leading his men forward, he came upon Johann in the melee, and they fought; and in this fight Johann von Nordheim got his bane-wound. And now also even the hard heart of Mieszko Piast was perturbed by the many armies that were marching against him, and he sent emissaries to treat for peace, saying he would give Bavaria back to Drogo, and restore things as they had been before his meddling. And by this means he divided the counsels of the allied kings of Christendie; for King Olaf held that what had been begun, should be finished, and Krakow burned to the ground and the land sown with salt; but other counselled waiting, and biding the time until Prester John should arrive, to crush Poland the more easily. At this King Olaf replied angrily : "Does God not help those who help themselves? Here are five strong kings all at war with the Piast; who knows when such a chance shall come again? Let us crush the viper, not coddle him to our bosom in anticipation of a saviour from the East!" But the other kings would not hearken to his words, and called their men home; and so King Olaf, too, was forced to bide his time. But as was to be expected, Mieszko did not keep his word, and only two parts in three of Bavaria were returned to Naples; and with this Drogo had to be content.

Eh, our Bavaria player dropped, which made the war a little inconvenient, so we patched up a peace. Damn stupid reason to drop, though, just because half the known world DOWs you. We were going for Poland, honest!

45. ON GERMANY

Now the von Thuringens who ruled in Germany had fallen far from the power of their ancestors, and many kings looked with greedy eyes upon their remaining lands. Therefore Jacques of Flanders called together his vassals, and fell upon the German counts east of the Weser, to replace the lands he had lost in Normandy. But this did not please King Olaf, who held that the Weser should be the border between Norway and Flanders; still, he did not wish to attack a kingdom that had in living memory been a vassal to his own, and also he did not wish to weaken the accord of the Christian kings against Poland. Instead, therefore, he called out his army to campaign on the Elbe, to force the chiefs there into submission so that he could better protect them from the ravages of the de Flandres. "And," he said, "once this matter of Poland is dealt with, we shall see whose allegiance the Weser chiefs prefer." In this wise Norway's lands in Germany were further extended.


Norway in 1220. Note Flanders on the Elbe, and Poland on the Po! My own gains of Holstein, east-Lausitz and Sjælland look rather unfortunately modest. However, Norway is actually rather stronger than it looks at this point in time, due to the services of the sons of Halkjell Yngling, as Marshal, Steward, and Chancellor. My adjusted stats are 19-27-28-31! Hence a truly vast income, no assassination worries, enormous manpower relative to my actual wealth, and of course people pledging themselves to me quite of their own free will.

Norway1220.jpg


46. ALLEGIANCE OF SJÆLLAND (1218)

Now the Sjælland area had fallen under the Munsö family, and they were a proud and haughty breed, who held no allegiance to any king. But when this was brought to the attention of Olaf, he was most angry, for he held that only Ynglings had the right to rule in the North, and here was a land that had indeed been under an Yngling chief at one time. Therefore he sent a message to Jedvard av Munsö, saying that he might either submit, or have his lands taken away and given to a man with the God-right to rule; and this message was delivered in a most insulting fashion, for King Olaf hoped that he should be able to march upon Sjælland and reduce it to obedience, and install an Yngling chief. But Jedvard swallowed his pride, and submitted to Norwegian rule; for this he was most ferociously mocked in his family, and it is said he had little joy of the bridal bed from that day onwards. Yet King Olaf kept his word, and permitted him to rule Sjælland as an under-king; and later he had cause to be thankful for this mercy.

Well, at any rate that was true in our lost two years; but comrade Jedvard is still in line for the inheritance that enabled me to usurp Sweden, so it should still work.
 

King of Men

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YNGLINGA SAGA

47. THE JARLS OF SWEDEN SWEAR ALLEGIANCE (1222)

Jedvard of Munsö had, by the grace of King Olaf, been permitted his rule in Sjælland, though he had little joy of it due to the mockery of his family. But soon thereafter he fell heir to the chiefdom of Södermanland, and left his wife to rule Sjælland in his stead while he betook himself to his new estates; there also he took to himself frill-wives, and it is said he had much joy in escaping his wife's sharp tongue. But what she thought of the matter the saga records not.

When news of this reached King Olaf, he bethought himself of Finnveden, which the Svea-kings had taken from his ancestors in the time of the Great Rising. Thus he said to his court, "Why should the Swedes lie in sloth, while we fight to deliver them from the Poles? Let us gather them to the crown of Norway, so they can fight for the cause of justice." So he called out the men of Skåne, Viken, and Lübeck, and marched into Finnveden and brought the men thereof to submission.

But with this acquisition, fully two parts in three of the old kingdom of the Svear lay under the Yngling kings; and therefore Olaf made a proclamation, that he was henceforth to be counted King of all the Norse realms. "For", he said, "it is not right that brother should fight brother; instead let Norwegian, Dane, and Swede live together in peace. And the bonds that I have forged between the Three Crowns shall never be broken while Yngling blood flows in the veins of Norway's kings." And all the Yngling jarls swore an oath to this, and that they and their sons should stand united and faithful till Dovre falls.

47. THE SONS OF HALKJELL

Halkjell Kings-son had in his youth married a woman of the Flanders court, where he often visited. Her name was Melissande de Flandres, and she bore Halkjell five sons, whose names were Erling, Olaf, Aslak, Inge, and Gudmund. They grew strong and straight, and soon came to be the leaders in all the boys' games, skilled alike in spear-throwing, archery, football, and riddle-contests. In this as in all else they took after their father; and none begrudged them their position, for they were generous and kind to all men. Thus when they came of age, King Olaf granted them high positions in the court, and gave them rich gifts and much honour; and all men said Norway was fortunate to be served by such men.

The sons of Halkjell :

ErlingYngling.jpg


OlafIIIYngling.jpg


AslakYngling.jpg


IngeYngling.jpg


GudmundYngling.jpg


Thank you, St. Olav. You want any more churches, you have only to ask. :D

48. AKERSHUS

Now in the time of King Gunnar, Eskild of Dal had fallen heir to both the Duchy of Oxford and the Jarldom of Akershus, and as he preferred to serve the English king, the latter had fallen from the Norwegian domains. Not wishing to fight the powerful English, King Gunnar had not raised arms over the matter; but seeing that Eskild had no sons, he instead arranged the marriage of his kinsman Svein to Eskild's eldest daughter Gyla. Svein and Gyla had many sons; one was named Eystein, another, Harald. But they do not concern us here, and fall out of the saga. Later Svein came to be chief of Trøndelag, as has already been told; therefore his eldest son Olav, when he came of age, was heir to Trøndelag, to Akershus, and to Oxford.

Now when Eskild died in sickbed, Olav Sveins-son had not yet been granted lands in Norway, though King Olaf had given Svein the lordship of Holstein for that very purpose. (OOC : Damn the slow AI!) Therefore it seemed that Trøndelag would soon fall to a vassal of the King of England. But as Olav was travelling to England to take possession of his lands, a storm came over his ship, which King Olaf had given him, and it sank.

(OOC : A very well-timed storm, to be sure. But don't look at me like that. The ship was perfectly sound, I checked it myself. There were absolutely no rotten boards in it. And the rumour that I paid a Finnish shaman to whistle up bad weather in summer is completely untrue. And I certainly didn't poke any holes in the ship with my sword, nor did I loosen the nails. In short, I had absolutely nothing to do with his death, and anyone saying otherwise had better not eat without someone else tasting the food first. *Whistles innocently.*)

In this wise Akershus and Oxford came to Svein, Olav's father; but this Edmund of England could not abide, and he took Oxford from Svein, restoring the borders as they had been before Eskild's inheritance. And this King Olaf accepted, as Edmund was a strong ally, and he had no wish to sow discord among the Christian kings of the West. But he did not forget.

49. THE DANISH LANDS

Now when the Estridsons had been kings in Denmark, the Emperors had taken from them Fyn and Slesvig; and these they still held. But King Olaf wished to see the ancient borders of Denmark restored; and therefore he marched upon the German lands, taking Fyn, Slesvig, and Hamburg - which had fallen to the Flandern kings. But as there was an ancient agreement between Ynglings and de Flandres saying that the Elbe should be their border, Jacques de Flandre raised no objection to this. Also King Olaf brought Plauen and Weimar under Yngling control, for he did not wish to see these lands fall to Flandern, and said, "Now we have an army in these lands, let us adjust our border for all the future." For in his age the future of Norway was much on his mind.

50. DEATH OF KING OLAF (1227)

King Olaf loved to ride to the hunt, and even in his age he often sought out boar and bear in the woods of Skåne. Now one day as he was pursuing a deer, his horse threw him, and he fell and broke his leg; and this wound became infected, and he died.

King Olaf was greatly mourned in the land, for he had brought the Three Crowns together, and had united Denmark, that had been split apart for a hundred years. Also he had caused to be built many harbours up and down the coasts, and had enlarged the fortresses, so the people could flee to safety when foreign armies approached. Therefore he is sometimes called Olaf the Builder; but because of his victories in Svea-land, some call him Olaf Swede-hammer.

Here ends the saga of Olaf Gunnarsson Yngling.

51. ACCESSION OF OLAF III HALKJELLSON

Now the Yngling males met to decide who should be King of Norway henceforth. Here Håkon, the eldest son of Olaf, had a strong claim, for it had been the custom for some time that a son of the old king should inherit; though Galindas, Duke of Norrland and Trøndelag, also had many supporters. But in the end it was agreed that there was no man in the country who was better than the least of the Halkjell-sons; and therefore the Ting agreed that they should hold kingship jointly, and rule together, according to the old custom of brother-kings. But the Bishop of Nidaros refused to anoint more than one king, for, he said, "God's majesty is not given to more than one man in the realm." At this the Halkjell-sons drew lots, and Olaf won the right to be anointed; but he gave his brothers much power in his court, and some said that they were brother-kings in all but name. And with this all were well content.

(OOC : I changed to elective law; wouldn't you, if it meant having a superman for king? I admit to rigging the election just a little - it was a cursed close-run thing, though; Galindas has a lot of vassals spread around the northern parts of Norway and Sweden. The heirship actually passed back and forth between him and Olaf several times - I'd grant Olaf another county, and later notice Galindas creeping ahead again. But it worked in the end.)

Norway in 1229 :

Norway1229.jpg


Ahhhh... My borders are much prettier now. I just need to grab Bergen back from the Pope, get rid of that unsightly green in Finland, and quash what's left of the Swedish dynasty in uppland - no hurry there, actually, since I'm King of Sweden they'll come around eventually. And, of course, I still need to deal with Poland... Sterk had to drop early today, and missed the Mongol arrival. I think there'll be a Prester John's War next update, though.
 

das

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Very nice update...

English king Edmund wouldn't happen to be called "Blackadder"? Because that would explain things about that storm... ;)

I feel rather sorry for Poland-that-will-soon-be-attacked-by-Mongols-and-other-neighbours. I actually do hope that Poland-Russia will last into Victoria, it seems very interesting. Ah well, empires rise, empires fall...
 

King of Men

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Granting that they aren't the richest provinces in Europe by any means, I do think a nation that size will be utterly unbalanced when we come to EU2. Not to mention having sole access to the Siberian corridor. Besides, its navy will be easily capable of dominating the Baltic, which plainly comes to the Yngling dynasty by God's grace. Therefore it cannot in justice be allowed to survive. Consider this indicator of its power : To get the picture of Gudmund as an adult, I ran the game forward for six years or so; at the end of that time, the Mongols were gone, and their former domains were green. Winning against the Mongols is one thing, but in six years? :eek:

Incidentally, I will be on vacation from August first to (approximately) September 22nd, and unable to play. I wonder if any of my faithful readers have the time and inclination to sub for me?
 

das

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That Poland sounds alot like Napoleonic France. I guess you people will have to hope for it to overstretch itself and make lots of mistakes. Must be a lot of headaches for you, though I, being simply a reader, hope to enjoy some lively accounts of the Great Polish War.

Sadly - no time, not to mention computer problems lately...
 

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Our game yesterday, unfortunately, did not go well; wars and backstabs got taken personally. Tempers flared; ill-considered actions were taken, and remarks thrown, in the heat of battle. I am therefore going to delay my AAR for this week a bit, in order to allow tempers to cool.
 

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Maybe time for that update KoM....
 

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Yes, well, you're right. People seem to have calmed down. Unfortunately Real Life (tm) has heated up a bit. Maybe I can do something tonight.
 

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YNGLINGA SAGA

52. ON PULCHERIA'S HERESY (1230)

Olaf's wife was named Pulcheria, and she held in all things to the Greek confessions, and would not take the sacraments from a priest who obeyed the Pope. And in this Olaf indulged her, for she was a very capable woman, and he held the order of his household more important than which cleric took the Queen's confession. But when the Pope in Rome received word of this, he sent nuncios to the Yngling court, demanding that Pulcheria be turned over to his men to be tried for heresy. This Olaf refused; instead he arranged that his wife should be tried by ordeal at the next Ting. And as the glowing iron did not burn her hands, she was declared innocent of wrongdoing; and all the bønder hailed the King for his courage in defying the Pope on such a matter.

(OOC : I don't care if she sacrifices little children to the Devil, she has 17 stewardship. The Pope can go hang.)

53. PRESTER JOHN'S WAR (1232)

Now as has been told, the West-Kings of Christendie had all agreed to make war upon the Piast line, and destroy their rule in Gardarike, as soon as Prester John's army should appear in the east. And when word came to them that a vast host had crossed the seas of grass, and waged war north of the Black Sea, they mustered their armies and struck. First into battle was Olaf of Norway. Swiftly he marched upon Krakow, while Wincenty Piast strove against the east-army of Prester John; and when that city was reduced to submission, Olaf took Opole. But he ordered that there should be no sack, and no indiscriminate looting, for he did not wish God to frown upon his holy cause; and though some grumbled, most held that this was a just and pious act.

But now appeared from the east Wincenty Piast, with a vast host, terrible in his wrath. He sought out Olaf's army, and it came to a battle; and in this fight Olaf prevailed, although there were four men in the Polish army for each three in his. For Olaf had carefully chosen his best men for this campaign, and had ordered that each chief should explain to his men that there could be no escape from so deep in the Piast lands. Only in victory could there be life for the Norwegians; and therefore each man strove his utmost, and did not flee, but fell where he stood. But the Poles were close to their homes, and thought much of their families, and did not seek to die in honourable battle, but to live to see their farms again.

Major battles of the Polish war :

battle1.jpg
battle2.jpg
battle3.jpg

battle4.jpg
battle5.jpg



Even so, the Poles were numerous, and the Norwegians few; many battles were fought, and the Yngling host stretched thin, while their foes seemed inexhaustible. Therefore Olaf was glad when he heard the news that Edmund of England had landed in Hamburg, with thirty thousand fighting Saxons and Normans under his banner. Also from the south came soldiers of the Great King in Miklagard, and Naples continued its eternal struggle with the dukes in Bavaria who still held to the Piast. But from France and Flanders came no men.

But now Wincenty Piast grew weary of the struggle; for although he descended from the great Polish kings of the past, he had not their mettle in him. Therefore he sent emissaries to Olaf, and also to the other West-Kings, and asked what terms they would have for peace. And to this Olaf replied : "Well known is our cause, and your king had not needed to ask our terms, for we have often set them out beforehand. Let Gardarike be ruled by the Rus, and Wincenty shall have peace of Norway." But Drogo of Naples would not agree to this, for he held that the Piasts had come to their rule of Bohemia by unlawful means, and should be forced to disgorge this land also. So the war dragged on for a while as the West-Kings wrangled. But in the end Wincenty gave over, and gave to Pandaazi Duke of Tver the crown of Rus, and the throne of Bohemia he gave to Gebhard von Nordheim, as reward for that family's loyal service to his line. And with this all the West-Kings were satisfied.

Europe after the war :
Europe1237.jpg


Note that Bohemia has the same colour as Naples, so what looks like one huge kingdom stretching way into Germany is actually two separate ones. The border lies at Tirol. And the light-green stuff to the east is the Mongols, who are now looking a bit stronger, since Poland isn't sitting on them like the Mother of All Elephants anymore. Plus the eastern counts have run out of money for bribes.


54. ON FLANDERS

Now the Flandern kings had in times past been friendly to Norway, for they recalled how the Ynglings had made no objection to their crusade in Africa, that made them kings in their own right. So when Louis de Flandre sent men to Olaf, asking him to stand aside when he attacked Geoffrey of England for the Normandy lands, Olaf was at first inclined to listen. But later he had second thoughts on this issue, for Geoffrey had been in the forefront of the battle against Wincenty when no men had marched from Flanders; and also England had in the past sent many men and ships to uphold the independence of Norway when all seemed lost in the German wars. Also he bethought himself of the lands between Elbe and Weser, which Louis had seized from the German kings in plain defiance of Norway's claim. Therefore when Flanders and France together marched upon the English lands, he did not stand aside, but instead called his army to cross the Elbe. There he had much success, and fought many victorious battles against the Flandern hosts.

battle6.jpg


But Drogo of Naples, and also the Great King Andronikos in Miklagard, held with Louis. And also Olaf's dreams troubled him; for although he had stood firm in his friendship with Geoffrey of England (who had taken the throne on the death of his father Edmund), he had used Louis ill, and lied to him, which did not become a King of the Ynglings. And therefore he confessed his sin to the Church, and for penance he was told that he must give up his new-won lands in Bremen and Luneburg. And this Olaf accepted, and offered peace and contrition to Louis. And thus the border was not moved so much as an inch, for all the men who had died. But neither king forgot the war, nor the causes of it.
 

canadiancreed

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just spent the last hour reading this. Quite a good read indeed :D Just curious if you could give a writeup of who is who in the large map of europe there, and have any kingdoms been written off from the face or the earth yet?
 

King of Men

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OK, I'm not really updating this, because I'm travelling, but since you ask so nicely. ;) Byzantium you know, of course; it is intermittently played by Blackeye. South of it in the Levant is the Kingdom of Jerusalem, currently in the throes of a BB collapse. (Though this may have changed in the recent session.) North of Byzantium, in grey, is Hungary, ambitiously trying to hold off the Mongols, expand into Bohemia, and take advantage of Polish weakness, all at the same time. To its north again is the wounded tiger of the Baltic, Poland. Battered but not crushed in the War of Russian Succession and the Mongol Invasion, it is licking its wounds in anticipation of revenge. Don't count it out yet; the Piasts are skilled warriors and cunning diplomats.

Norway, of course, now comprises the entire Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, and a good part of northern Germany. England you know; France is rather reduced in size; between them lies the a-historic power of Flanders, another sore loser of a recent war.

Moving south, Spain is almost united, perhaps the most powerful kingdom on the map, though very quiet about it. They have weighed in a few times on balance-of-power issues, but are not embarking on wars of expansion, lest Europe unite against them, as happened to Poland. I expect them to attempt a rather more dominant strategy in the EU2 era.

Italy, or rather Naples, has united its peninsula and is expanding into Germany and Libya, but it isn't as big as it looks. The northern part of that blob is an AI kingdom, Bohemia, which we forced Poland to release. And in the middle of all this, sadly shrunken, lies what is left of Germany. Sic transit gloria mundi, especially when a large kingdom is played by the AI.

For an updated map, you can check here. Note the way the Mongol (light green in Russia) holdings have migrated northwards; I understand there is a big back-and-forth war over Finland at the moment. Poland got out of it early, the coward. If the AI wins big enough, we might see Norway stretching to the Urals, though the other players would probably object. Poland found itself in a world war for just such a crime, after all.