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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

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This is my very first AAR. I've played the game on and off for years and have loved reading AARs. This AAR will take on the format of a history book. It chronicles the lives, loves and achievements of the Kings of Croatia. I hope you enjoy reading it and all comments are welcome.

The Heirs of Trpimir

Petar Kresimir IV the Lawgiver
King of Croatia and Dalmatia
Reign: 1059 - January 10, 1073
Consort: Miroslava


The King presenting his law code at Zadar.

He was the son of Stephen I and his wife, Hicela of Venice. He inherited the throne in 1059 and from then on took the country on a strongly pro-Western route. King Petar Kresimir IV reformed the Croatian church in accordance with the Latin Rite. He introduced his famous law code, the Law of Petar Kresimir in August 1067 at a congress of the nobility where he demanded that the nobles adopt the law in their lands. The law's administration in Zadar began in August 1068. It would spread out through the rest of the kingdom over the rest of the century but was firmly established in the royal demesne by the end of 1070.

King Petar Kresimir was to be remembered as a lawgiver and was beatified by the Catholic Church for his work enforcing the use of the Latin Rite. His foreign was concerned with containing the Roman Empire's ambitions in the Balkans and drove him to ally with the Principality of Rashka against the Roman Empire in April 1070. Having no legitimate male heirs of his body, he was succeeded by his cousin, Dmitri Zvonimir Jan 10 1073.

Issue
Neda, Abbess of Senj, unmarried

Dmitri Zvonimir The Rich
King of Croatia and Dalmatia, Ban of Slavonia
Reign: January 1073 to 17 August 1083
Consort: Jelena of Hungary


The King at his coronation in 1073

The King was a paternal cousin of King Petar Kresimir IV. The barons of Croatia acclaimed him King upon the death of Petar Kresimir IV. They ignored Petar Kresimir IV's nephew, Stjepan who was considered unsuitable for the throne.

King Dmitri inherited a rich country with finances among the best in Europe. He himself was a great administrator from his experience in Slavonia where he had govern a banate as wealthy and a prestigious court just like that of his liege and cousin, King Petar Kresimir. His beloved Queen, Jelena was seen by many as the power ‘beside’ the throne yet the couple after at least a decade of marriage had no male heir only their daughter aged eight. This meant that the Royal House of Timporovic had no male heirs left except for King Petar Cresimir’s nephew who was widely regarded as unsuitable for the throne but was becoming the serious and only candidate.

King Dmitri carried on the reforms and modernisation programs instituted by his predecessor, Blessed King Petar Kresimir In 1074 he signed a treaty of mutual defence with the increasingly predatory Normans of Apulia. This was an extension of the anti-Roman policy inaugurated by Petar Kresimir IV. In 1075 the Nrmans helped him crush a revolt in central Croatia where they sent 2,700 troops and warily the King noted that they were sending spies and scouts to determine the full geography of Croatia. The King however felt the need of the alliance due to the enmity of Hungary, dangers of Venetian invasion and covetous eyes of the Emperor in Constantinople.

King Dmitri respected the Church of Rome greatly and donated the province of Rama to the Church to create a bishopric which was upgraded swiftly to the archbishopric of Bosnia. In 1076 King Dmitri received the Golden Rose from the Pope as an ideal Christian monarch. He would build the Blessed King Petar’s Church in Krivezci in 1083. The King carried on developing the nation’s economy and royal administration by appointing royal sheriffs to rule in his stead and at his command in the provinces. He also stimulated trade by granting several tax exemptions to to subjects who engaged in foreign trade.

In 1080 King Dmitri sent 2,840 troops to relieve Spoleto taken by the Zirid Moors who were raiding central Italy. He supported the Norman invasion of Tunisia hoping it would satisfy their land lust and keep their eyes off Croatia. The troops sent to central Italy managed to help liberate Spoleto but were defeated while travelling to free other towns north of Spoleto. The king realised the poor level of command and recalled the army sending another one of 4,600 which was more successful liberating Firenze and helping the Normans liberate Lucca. The Moors were defeated in Lucca by a joint coalition of Croatian, Norman and Italian Tuscan troops. After that they left Italy in January 1982 and the Norman invasion of Tunisia had been put aside for now due to the pressing matter of liberating the northern cities.

By 1082 Stjepan, King Petar Kresimir’s nephew who had been passed over for Dmitri was becoming the generally recognised heir. He was however the Bishop of Rama and clergy were not allowed to inherit lay offices since Pope Gregory VII had declared it so. On August 17, 1083 the king died in August at the age of 53 leaving behind one daughter, Princess Lovorka. A short interregnum took place before the next King was crowned.


Issue
Princess Lovorka married Lord Zahumski - had issue

The Interregnum



Upon the death of the King on August 17, 1083, the kingdom had no obvious heir as the old King had left no male heir. There was a short period of less than two months whereby the great men of the realm deliberated over who would inherit the throne. The King had died without male issue having only left behind his daughter, Princess Lovorka. The other two remaining royal blooded heirs were Abbot Stjepan, natural son of Blessed King Petar Kresimir’s brother, Castimir (long deceased) The other was the blessed King’s only daughter, Princess Neda a fine woman in her twenties.

The Queen dowager, Jelena of Hungary summoned all the nobles and great landowners of the realm to the court and they came numbering over 400 and formed an assembly which elected Lord Frankopan, Ban of Veglia as Lord President of the Assembly. Lord Veglia was the wealthiest and most powerful noble and respected by all assemblymen. He asked each of the candidates to present their claims or at least send representatives. The pious Princess Neda appeared at the Assembly and formally dropped her presumed claim reminding the assembly that King Dmitar made her take a vow of chastity and she was formally ordained as a nun.

The Assembly accepted this and the next candidate was princess Lovorka. Her mother, the Queen Dowager spoke for her teenage daughter and pressed her right as she was the closest relative to the deceased King (her father) However the Assembly regarded Queen Jelena as highly dangerous and rumours said she had offered her daughter's hand to a foreign prince who would invade the kingdom and annex it as a province to some other kingdom this prince already possessed. There was also no precedence of a female ruler (other than a regent)

The next candidate was Bishop Stjepan who claimed never to have sworn taken holy vows or any kind of vow of chastity and was a simple lay bishop. The Church proved this with written documents. Prior to the Assembly's meeting, Lord Veglia had met the Bishop, persuaded him to take the throne and offered to help him secure the crown and he did, speaking eloquently on the floor of the Assembly driving several nobles to tears with an appeal to patriotism, stability and the possibility of detested foreign rule. The nobles elected Stjepan as heir unanimously. Shortly after his coronation, Stjepan married Anna, Lord Veglia’s eldest daughter and made Lord Veglia himself chief minister of the kingdom.
 

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There is a lot of role-play and realism involved. Everything however is based on events and creation, absolutely no cheats. The Interregnum part is an example of the realism I'm talking of, a weak, bastard nephew could never rise to the throne easily. I play according to the traits of my characters. A 4 year old king in realm duress will never conquer half of Europe and the Levant. I think CK1 is a unique game, humble, complex and just irreplaceable. Let us all keep it alive!
 

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I am making another aar today. Hope you will like it. And by the way, this is awesome aar.


I think CK1 is a unique game, humble, complex and just irreplaceable. Let us all keep it alive!
You are absolutely right. It's not fair that CK 1 should be forgotten becuse CK 2 is out. I totally agree with you.
 
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Alex Borhild

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Good to see another new AAR in this forum. I really like the history book style. I eagerly await the Stjepan's reign (and, of course, his successors).
 

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The Reign of Stjepan II

Stjepan II the Monk
King of Croatia and Dalmatia, Ban of Slavonia
Reign: August 1083 - 29 March 1094
Consort: Anna of Veglia


A romantic portrait of the King hailing from the 18th Century

Stjepan II was the son of King Petar Kresimir’s brother, Prince Castimir by a woman rumoured to have been either a Cuman slave or a young noblewoman deflowered by the Prince. Prince Castimir died when Stjepan was an infant. He was raised by his uncle and like Princess Neda had been under the religious eye of the pious Queen Miroslava. He had been destined to become a member of the clergy and in 1073 was appointed Bishop of Rama with the donation of lands to the Church made by King Dmitri Zvonimir who decided to get rid of his political enemy this way urged on by the cunning Queen Jelena.

Upon the death of King Dmitri in August 1083, Stjepan a very religious man and reluctant to leave the Church was persuaded first by the all powerful Lord Veglia and then by a letter from the Estates of Croatia to take off the frock and assume the royal duties. Pope Gregory VII proved that he had taken no monastic vows (he was only a lay clergyman) and he was acclaimed King. Tradition holds that the noblemen wept at the future King’s feet and said he would be responsible for the ruination of the realm if he did not take the crown.

Convincing the clergyman to assume the royal title

He declined to marry either King Petar or King Dmitri’s daughters due to the close consanguinity and resisted marrying until Lord Veglai pressured him. He however changed his mind a bit and married Anna, eldest daughter of Lord Frangepan the Ban of Veglia (Lord Veglia). Beautiful, cultured and merry the new Queen found all these qualities ignored by the pious King who was under the spell of the Archbishop of Zagreb, Cardinal Vasily. Queen Anna’s father was named Chief Minister shortly before the wedding and carried on in this role till his death in 1088 whereby the powerful Cardinal Vasily all but took over the title.

The King rarely bothered with his Queen but managed to get his son and heir, Hrvoje the ‘God Given’ off her. The Prince was born in the winter of 1085 and the nearly three centuries old house of Trpimirovic appeared ready to go on. Stjepan II loved religious ceremonies and built several churches all over his kingdom. He would retire to his favourite monastery south of Zagreb for months on end leaving business entirely in the hands of his ministers. These ministers were competent despite high corruption levels in the country which lowered the royal income by half. In 1083-4, the King moved the capital to Zagreb just months after his accession. He largely ignored foreign affairs yet received the interesting Irish house of O’Neill which fled in exile to the court. The court of Croatia resembled a monastery with the King and his clerical advisors shunning merriment and keeping a close clique centered on religion and studying religious texts and prayer.


A portrait of the monarch, found at the Monastery of St. Joseph

In 1083 the King however led an army to crush a rebellion by the Ban of Usora successfully banishing him and annexing the province. Development of the nation continued despite a greater emphasis on broadening Church institutional power. Cardinal Vasily closely aligned the country's foreign policy with that of Rome and sent aid to the German rebels fighting the excommunicated German King Henry IV. The Croats however failed, despite strenuous efforts to get Blessed King Petar Kresimir IV canonized and he would remain merely beatified. The King died on March 29, 1394 at the age of 52 and his son, Hrvoje inherited the throne.


Issue
Hrvoje, King of Croatia married (i) Gerberga of Bavaria had issue (ii) Borislava Babonic had issue
 

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Hrvoje the God Given
King of Croatia and Dalmatia, Ban of Slavonia, Overlord of Ragusa, Margrave of Istria
Reign: 29 March 1094 - 6 January 1160
Consort: Gerberga of Bavaria, Borislava of Varadzin



A miniature depicting the young king at his coronation

King Hrvoje was the son of King Stjepan II the Monk and his wife, Queen Anna of Veglia. He inherited the throne of Croatia at the age of eight in 1094 and his mother, Queen Anna exercised the regency powers with Cardinal Vasily assisted by the King's council of ministers.

The Regency: March 1094 to July 1101


The Regent instructing her son shortly before his coming of age ceremony

Queen Anna was a cultured and beautiful woman who had felt stifled by the religious court of King Stjepan. She immediately livened up the court dismissing many religious courtiers hovering around the court. She also sought a voice in foreign affairs and energetically led the government sidelining her co-Regent Cardinal Vasily. In 1095 the Regent signed an alliance and a trade agreement with Gentilie d’ Appiano, the Governor of Pisa. The trade agreement traded timber in exchange for Pisan expertise in building ports and ships.

In 1096 the Regent commissioned the building of the beautiful monastery of St Peter near the Royal Palace as a polite way of exiling more religious courtiers. A quarrel with the duchy of Carinthia over Istria led some ministers to ask the Regent to invade the duchy. The regent demurred; she was no warrior queen and instead began relieving herself governing by granting much power to the Vukanovic family. They soon occupied the offices of Chief Minister and Stewardess.

The Regent also appointed able foreigners to the Royal Council, for example Laird Maelcholium O’Neill - a veteran of the German civil wars of the late 11th century who became constable of Croatia in 1098. In 1101 the King came of age and the following year married Gerberga, daughter of the Duke of Bavaria . The same year, Mihajlo Kacic, the Archbishop of Rama was elected Pope Gregory VIII as a compromise candidate in a deadlocked conclave in the Vatican.

The young King’s character was majestic in every way. Highly educated and full of energy and drive, he approached everything in a hearty manner. However he donned his armour when necessary. Hearing of the Doge of Venice’s marriage to the Magistrate of Ragusa’s daughter, the King declared his intention to impose ‘benevolent protection’ over the 'threatened republic' and invaded the republic in 1104 at the head of 8,600 troops. He quickly ran over the minuscule republic in a siege lasting just over seven weeks and forced the Magistrate to accept ‘protection’ from Croatia. This act however alarmed the Greek Empire, Venice and Rashka despite the King’s attempt to reassure all these regional powers. Since these three hated each other fiercely, there was no chance of any alliance against the Croat Kingdom.


The siege of Dubrovnik, Ragusa

The King sent heavy subsidies to Ragusa to help it improve its security issues. He did not interfere with its republican constitution and domestic affairs but only demanded military service and control of foreign affairs. The Magistrate had to report to the Croatia court in person three times a year and pay an annual tribute of five horses, fifty pounds of spice and a dozen Ragusan hams.

The need to intimidate Venice completely took over the King’s foreign policy. In 1105 the king led 12,500 troops into Carinthia and annexed the province of Istria about adjacent from Venice. He declared himself Margrave of Istria afterwards in a splendid ceremony at Trieste. These occasional show offs of might had the desired effect on the Serene Republic. Other threats to Croatia were largely inactive – the Emperor in Constantinople, Michael VII was too busy keeping an eye on the Turks and his squabbling sons; Salamon, the King of Hungary was fighting rebels and various intrigues to succeed him on his throne. The Normans were fighting the great Countess of Toscana, Matilda by far the wealthiest sovereign in Europe. In 1082 Duke Roger Borsa had been crowned King by a very grateful Pope for their fight against the Tunisian invasion of western Italy.


The King at his installation as Magrave of Istria

The King ruled well for several years until 1112 when at a court reception for the Venetian ambassador, he in the words of the Ambassador collapsed in a fit and 'gibbered like an ape.’ The King yelled all night that night of March 1112 and madness swiftly over took him. His wife, Queen Gerberga was ill with consumption and thus the old Queen Anna of Veglia took over the management of the realm once again.

Queen Anna took charge of her kingdom and pursued the anti-Venetian policy her son had followed. She also asserted Croatia’s claim to regional super powership and in 1112 smashed a revolt in southern Dalmatia, exiling the lord Mirko Frangepan . An attempt by the nobles to force a ‘constitution’ on the monarchy was repelled when the Queen divided the noble party by granting favours and land to the lesser nobility while marginalising the greater nobles. Queen Gerberga drifted in and out of illness and at times wanted to assert some power but her death in late 1114 effectively cemented Anna’s power. She now took hold of all the grandchildren and took a special interest in the heir, Mihailjo’s education. In 1115 a great wave of dysentery hit northern Dalmatia, decimating much of the populace of Zadar.

The Regent triumphed in diplomacy when she arranged the marriage of her grandson, Mihajlo to the little duke of Rashka’s sister Merima. The heir was now fifteen and the princess eight. Princess Merima was brought to the court of Croatia where she was formally betrothed to the Prince and the Regent took her to raise her in her own household. This move was meant to bind Rashka to a pro-Croatian direction. The Regentess of Rashka, Beloslava Voijeslavina was a cousin of the young Prince and had been the only close surviving adult relation to young Prince Vukan.

Prince Mihajlo reached his majority in 1121 and a coalition of anti-Anna forces rallied behind him and secured his coronation as the junior King of Croatia on August 10, 1121. He held his court at Senj and many flocked there and the lazy King was soon under the spell of his courtiers. He did not challenge Regentess Anna and she carried on organising a series of brilliant royal matches. Prince Domajog was married off to Hedwiga of Carinthia. Princess Klara was still betrothed to Hesso, the heir of Austria. Domagoj, a troubled prince who was a suspected sodomite (since about age 12) was given a seat on the Royal Council as Royal Steward and promised the Banate of Istria.

In 1123 the King had a disturbing psychotic episode where he announced plans to rebuild a tower which would 'put Babel in shade' and gave some architects about 500 pounds of gold without any questions. The tower was commissioned to be built in the banate of Senj. The architects built a few stories and ran off with most of the money.


The Babel Tower of Senj

The Regency remained but later that year, the King appeared to recover and his mother, the Regentess chose a new bride for him. This was Borislava daughter of Cosmas, the ban of Varadzin. The Ban was a great ally of the Regent and supported her continued rule. The King was happy with his new bride and steadily recovered. The young Queen gave birth to four children within the following five years, two of them sons. In 1125 the Croatia crown donated a lot of land in the banate of Croatia to the Church and this would result in a very close relationship with the Church and the King and the Regent both receiving many Golden Roses.

The Regent’s power was destroyed in 1130 when the young King was persuaded to demand the powers of the regency which he successfully did from the ageing Queen Mother. He now controlled more than two thirds of Croatia and the old King moved to Zadar where he reigned largely in the area of foreign affairs. Mihajlo was now the supreme master of nearly all of Croatia. In Zadar, the old Regent Queen Mother ruled same as before but with much less power.

An unusually violent clap of lightning experienced in September 1138 produced surprising results with the senior King recovering his wits after nearly three decades of madness. He assumed his crown once again and began planning an invasion of the Greek Roman Empire. With 25,000 troops, the King marched south in 1142 and took Belgrade easily. He went further south to Nis where he defeated the Roman Emperor and then sacked Nikopolis and Turnovo. The Roman Emperor was murdered by one of his generals and his little son took the throne. A civil war began and it was only in 1145 when the Romans agreed to a peace treaty which saw Croatia keeping Belgrade.

On January 16, 1144 the old Queen Anna of Veglia amidst much sorrow, aged 77. She was buried in a magnificent tomb in Zadar and all paid homage to her wisdom. She was buried with honours due to a reigning monarch, not merely a queen consort. The Chief Minister praised her legacy by calling ‘the mightiest of women, mightier than some men in fact.’ The very nobles who troubled her wept openly at her grave and sighed about the passing of ‘Anna the King.’ Later romantic histories would portray Anna as a monarch in her own right between 1112 and 1138.

The King remained stable and in 1151 sent 5,000 troops to assist his nephew, Otto when he was ousted from his ducal throne of Austria by his vassals. Later the same year, the Prince of Rashka visited Zadar and signed a treaty of alliance. He demurred from paying homage for the banate of Veglia. In 1157 the Queen died and brought much anguish to the King who depended on her a lot. The next few years were quiet and saw the 'young King' steadily gain power and on January 6, 1160 the King died after more than 65 years on the throne at the age of 75. His eldest son Mihajlo the Fat became sole King.



The Kingdom and its new possessions at the end of Hrvoje's reign

Issue
Mihajlo, King of Croatia married Merima of Rashka, had issue.
Hrvoje, Ban of Slavonia married Melisenda of Ragusa had issue
Boril Archbishop of Bosnia then Zagreb, no issue
Klara, Duchess of Austria married Duke Hesso, had issue.
Branka, Margravine of Verona married Margrave Candido, had issue
 

Alex Borhild

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It appears that Croatia is doing quite well. I hope Mihajlo continues in the footsteps of his father and grandmother.
 

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The reign of Mihajlo the Fat

Mihajlo the Fat
King of Croatia and Dalmatia, Ban of Slavonia, Overlord of Ragusa, Margrave of Istria
Reign: 6 January 1160 - 12 March 1173
Consort: Merima of Rashka



A portrait of the monarch, made after his acclamation as sole King.

Mihajlo II was the eldest son of King Hrvoje by his first queen Gerberga of Bavaria. He was educated at court under the supervision of his grandmother, Queen Anna of Veglia. The mighty Queen Regent had him educated largely by observing her do official work and receptions at the court. In 1112 his father went mad and the young prince substituted for his father in many formal court occasions. In 1118 he was betrothed to Merima, sister of Braslav, Prince of Rashka. Mihajlo was an affable prince and got on well with most. He was however too lazy and unimaginative to challenge his grandmother, the Regent even when he attained his majority in 1121.

Liberal 'constitutionalist' rebels who were opposed to Queen Regen Anna surrounded the Prince and convinced him to demand power from her. The conservative magnate camp rejected transferring the Regency to the Prince but a compromise was struck out whereby he was crowned the young King of Croatia in 1121 and took over most domestic administration holding his court at Senj. Like a typical fool, he relied heavily on favourites and abhorred opposition so much that in 1126 he exiled the entire nobility of the banate of Krizevci for protesting a tax hike. He grew more powerful and eclipsed his father for much of his reign as the ‘young King’ When his father regained his senses in 1138, Mihaljo was relieved of most duties and did not seem to mind much. He remaned Banof Slavonia, reigining over the north west as badly as ever.

At age 56, the young King became sole King of Croatia with no opposition. He began negotiations with his brother in law, Braslav of Rashka over Veglia. The two quickly reached a deal – Veglia would return under the suzerainty of Croatia while Braslav’s second son would hold the banate (as Mihajlo’s vassal) It was at Zagreb, that the King got his sobriquet ‘The Fat’ as his extreme laziness saw the once fit prince turn into a bag of fat. He would not literally lift a finger and servants lifted him everywhere in a litter as his corpulence rendered him almost disabled. The only significant act was the building of the royal mint and the first national money currency - the denar was minted at Zagreb by the King himself in 1162. Yet it was his ministers woh took the initiative as they were tired of the unwieldy system of goods, foreign coins and minerals being used as currency


The first coins minted in Croatia in 1162

The King did not get on well with his half brothers, especially Boril, archbishop of Bosnia. Boril’s imperious personality and tendency to lecture his elder brother on morality destroyed relations. He imprisoned Boril after his rebellion in 1163 at a monastery in Zadar. A few months after that, the aged King suffered a catastrophic loss. His only son, Ulfo, Ban of Slavonia died after a wound which he sustained from a duel got infected. The old King was disconsolate but named his half brother, Hrvoje heir and accorded him the title of Ban of Slavonia while marrying him off to Melisenda, daughter of the Consul of Ragusa. The couple went to live in Zagreb where the new Ban held his court. The King had two daughters and ten grandchildren but according to the succession laws of the House of Trpimir, only males could sit on the throne and inheritance through the female line was ‘highly dangerous, unnatural and godless’

In 1168 revolts broke out in Zachlumia and in Varadzin as bans demanded that the kings institute a form of estates where the nobles and burghers would take part in the administration of the realm. The king led his own armies and crushed the rebellion first in Zachlumia where he was severely wounded in his pelvic area. He seized the famous Babonic treasure in Varadzin of around 3,500 talents but exercised leniency with both bans of Varadzin and Zachlumia. The Crown Prince had started the mess in Varadzin as he acted in autocratic fashion against his noble vassals there. He was relieved of overlordship in Varadzin.

In foreign policy the King assisted the princes of southern Germany and northern Italy in maintaining independent states with generous monetary aid. He however largely ignored participation in foreign intrigues and wars and left most things in the hands of his ministers. He let his daughters marry their lovers from Ragusa and was too lazy to exercise discipline on a wild and lecherous court. The King and his Queen lived totally separate lives and hated each other with much passion. At the beginning of their marriage, the two had been good friends but persistent infidelity by Mihajlo and humiliation of the Queen.


The King got a fever by late 1072 and after spending hours standing in the rain at his hated Queen's funeral later that year, he developed pneumonia. His heir, Hrvoje died in the winter of 1172 and was later beatified for his acts of charity and good character. Hrvoje left behind three sons and the eldest, seven year old Branislav succeeded as Ban of Slavonia. The King grew weaker and died on the 12th of March 1173. His nephew Branislav succeeded him as King.


Issue
Ulfo, Ban of Slavonia married Ana Zahumski no issue
Angela married Tugomir, Senator in Ragusa had issue
Cedida married Pavle of Dubrovnik(Ragusa) had issue



Hrjove the Good, Ban of Slavonia

Hrvoje was the elder son of King Hrvoje the God Given and his second wife, Borislava Babonic daughter of the Ban of Varadzin. He grew up at the court of Varadzin and upon attaining his majority, his father called him to Zadar and appointed him Constable of Croatia later on in the 1140’s. He fought in the Belgrade War of 1142 alongside his father with some distinction. The King often accursed fate for giving him a strong second son and a weak indolent first born son.

At his half brother, Mihaljo the Fat’s accession, he was still Constable of Croatia and remained so until 1163. His nephew Ulfo died of an infected wound that year and King Mihaljo declared Hrvoje, heir to the throne and named him Ban of Slavonia. Hrvoje married Melisenda of Ragusa, a daughter of the Magistrate and the two set up their court in Zagreb. Hrvoje was a poor ruler and too autocratic for his vassals who rebelled. He was however a kind man of solid character who donated to charity and sponsored many churches. Legend has it that every morning after tax collection week, he would hand half of his personal revenue to the aged, lepers and orphans.This earned him the sobriquet ‘the Good’ He got on well with his brother, the King who was delighted at the three strong sons born to Hrjove and Melisenda.


Blessed Hrvoje would later be venerated as a local saint in Zagreb

In the winter of 1172 the heir got ill and died a few months before King Mihaljo. His son, Branislav became King in March 1173. He was beatified soon after his death and his son would ask for his canonization several years later with no success. Despite not being a King, he nevertheless was the ancestor of a number of Kings.He was survived by three sons, Branislav the Conqueror, Jerolim, Ban of Belgrade and Milman, Ban of Slavonia.His only daughter, Cloutilda was born posthumously.
 
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The Reign of Branislav the Conqueror

Branislav the Conqueror
King of Croatia,Serbia and Dalmatia, Ban of Slavonia, Overlord of Ragusa, Margrave of Istria
Reign: 12 March 1173 – 20 July 1214
Consort: (i) Emese of Hungary (ii) Aliken of Austria



The young King holding an audience

Branislav was the son of Hrvoje the Good, Ban of Slavonia and Melisenda of Ragusa. He was born in Zagreb in 1165 greatly pleasing his uncle, the old King Mihajlo II who was relieved that the dynasty would survive. Branislav was educated at the banatial court of Varadzin for a few years. His mother Melisenda assumed the Regency of the banate when his father died in 1172. In 1173 the old King, his uncle died and he became King with little opposition.

The Regency 1173 - 1181

Mihajlo II's will had declared that a regency council made up of several prominient characters would rule during the king's minority. It included the young King's uncle, Archbishop Boril of Zagreb, his mother Melisenda or ‘the Ragusan woman’ as many referred to her in disdain was a highly educated, ambitious and sensual woman. The two formed an alliance and emerged co-Regents ahead of the other three members of the council such as Chief Minister Vladislav Kobilic. Together they purged the administration of Mihajlo’s faithful servants who had helped him punish Boril after his 1163 rebellion. Boril was however lazy and did not relish the exercise of power as the heavily pregnant Melisenda did.

The Regents signed a treaty of alliance with the Regent of Hungary Constable Fedorovich. They however refused to intervene in the Hungarian Civil War which was ongoing. In July 1176 a band of nobles presented a Golden Charter of Liberties which the Regents meekly accepted despite great reluctance. It demanded the creating of a diet called the Sabor, yearly convening of the Sabor which would deliberate on national issues and also advise the Crown. Each banate would send two representatives and the Sabor would sit at least once a year. In exchange every ban would maintain a number of knights (depending on his income) to be called for royal use.

Royal power was considerably restricted and the country took on Norman style feudalism. The country became very stable and the Regency went on very smoothly after the Charter's creation. The Church demanded large donations from the hapless Regents who agreed. In 1181 the King was declared to be of age and the Regency ended although the Regents remained highly influential. The King called his favourite Stjepan Babonic to his court and as the court historian Emerik Kobolic said ‘his passion for Lord Babonic was more than any man has for a new mistress’ The relationship purely platonic would define the coursed of the kingdom for years to come. A cruel and ignorant man, Babonic was however a very talented military strategist.

Babonic’s talent was proven in late 1181 when he crushed a peasant revolt in the banate of Slavonia just out of Zagreb. This revolt had risen due to the harsh implementation of the feudalist law. Peasants objected to being ‘bound’ to the lands and the extremely heavy burdens imposed on them with regards to service. After that the King hanged many rebels and later in 1181 married Emese, sister of the King of Hungary. He sent Constable Babonic to help restore the long exiled Babenbergs in Vienna and helped there crush a revolt in Morava. In 1182 he encouraged the King to reclaim Veglia from the prince of Rashka. The King agreed and invaded the banate easily taking it over. He carried out a two front war with 25,000 troops. The principality of Rashka was easily defeated and in the peace treaty signed in Belgrade, it gave up suzerainty of Veglia. The Croats recognised the Prince’s second son as Ban of Veglia. Rashka paid a fine of 885 denars and only then did it regain its captured northern territory.

The victories raised the King’s prestige greatly. He returned a warrior to his capital at Zadar. In 1183 he removed the governor of Belgrade and placed his brother, Jerolim there as Ban of Belgrade. Jerolim married a daughter of the Prince of Rashka as part of the peace treaty terms of 1182. A son was born to the King and his harsh policies continued in Zagreb where hundreds of rebels were still being hanged. The rebellion ended finally in 1185.

In January 1185 the King tore up the 1176 Golden Charter of Liberties citing that he had been a minor when it was signed. He instead proclaimed the Royal Charter which declared that the King’s word was law and named him the fount of all justice and law. The nobles were shocked but found themselves unable to oppose an immensely popular king. His military victory, royal marriage and the alliance with Hungary all wrong footed the great nobles. The final blow was the King proclaiming a law which strengthened the lesser nobility and gentry by relieving them of some taxes and duties while passing laws to limit the accumulation of land by the great nobles.


The King presents his Royal Charter

Thus he governed unlike any heir of Trpimir – an autocrat like the Emperor of the Romans. The Sabor was dissolved and the Royal Council took primacy. An elaborate system of petitioning was inaugurated and through it any person, noble or common could petition right up to the newly created Chancellor. The Chancellor was to be the dominant figure in the Royal Council and replaced the Chief Minister. He would receive petitions from the banates and decide on them in the name of the King. He would conduct the day to day administration and also play a large part in foreign policy. He needed only retain the King’s confidence. The first to serve in this position was Ban Vladislav Kobilic who had served in the Royal Council for several years. Talented and discreet, he had supported all of the King’s moves and used his talents to create the Hungarian alliance and marriage.

The Royal Council also included the Lord High Steward, the Constable, the Censor and the Archbishop of Zagreb. The young autocrat however dominated the government and Ban Kobilic was limited to foreign affairs and directing ambassadors. In 1185 Ban Kobilic died after several years of service and the King appointed his uncle, Archbishop Boril to the post of Chancellor. He had no real talent but the King’s diplomatic zeal saw things continue smoothly. In 1186 the Greek Empire was in chaos again and King Branislav could not resist expanding his own empire. He raised 15,000 troops and headed for Vidin but when he reached Belgrade, a tragic even took place. In the farms outside Belgrade, looting brigands fled as the royal army arrived. Constable Babonic went after them and caught the leader. As he captured him, the man sprayed something into the Constable’s eye and then stuck a sword in the Constable’s neck.

The constable died almost instantly his last words, ‘I want a duel!’ He was only 25 and the King grieved so violently that some believed he had gone mad like mad old King Hrvoje the God Given The campaign stopped with the King angrily stamping out the Archbishop of Bosnia’s rebellion and exiling him. He then went back south and took Vidin in 1187. Some believe that the King wished to create a new kingdom in the south and point out the King’s elevation of his brother Ban Jerolim to Zupan of Belgrade-Vidin and charged him with managing the southern war with the Romans. He returned to Zadar to secure the northern border. The King married his other brother Milman to Reinhard king of Italy’s daughter, Klara. The Italian King’s court sat in Mantua and he was a brother of the German King so his influence could stop Carinthia from any nonsense while the Croat-Roman war went on. Milman was also created Margrave of Istria and sent off to govern the contested peninsula from its capital, Trieste.

In 1189 the war with the Greek Empire ended with Croatia keeping its conquests in Vidin. The Basileus’ Regency council and Senate agreed to a royal marriage between one of his sisters and the Croatian crown prince.The Karandenos family fled to Zadar after it was exiled for rebellion. Many of its members joined the King’s administration in confidential positions such as Lord Steward. They encouraged the King to act more autocratically and brought some of the famously complex Byzantine court protocols to Zadar. The King’s autocracy increased and he expelled the entire nobility of Split after a rebellion in 1192-3 He kept hold of the very rich see of Usora but his ample donations to the Church kept it quiet over the issue. The Ban of Veglia amongst others began questioning this type of ruling and started forming plots. He sent 5,700 troops in 1190 to assist the suppression of a nobility revolt in north western Hungary and sent aid to his brother in law, the King.

Over the next few years, the King carried on forcing his nobles to bow. He rejected a 1196 council of nobles which demanded another ‘golden charter’ and instead issued a decree which mandated automatic dispossession of rebellious nobles. The nobles were threatened, bribed and convinced not to oppose the autocrat. The King issued a charter of tolerance to his orthodox Bulgar subjects in Vidin in 1197-8 and forbade forced religious conversions in that region.

In April 1200 the King moved his capital back to Zagreb after seven decades of the royal capital being Zadar. He wanted to move to the heart of his kingdom in order to discourage far off nobles from rebelling. In June 1200 the King led more than 20,000 troops to relieve the Prince of Rashka as the Greek Emperor Basil III assaulted the principality. The Croats defeated Basil III’s army in Zeta and forced the Emperor to withdraw. He signed a treaty a few weeks later and returned to the Queen City. The King extracted an oath of fealty from Prince Prohor of Rashka and on December 21 in Hum, he crowned himself King of the Serbs later that same week on Christmas Day.


The King's coronation in Hum as King of the Serbs

The King began building the Palace of Zadar in 1203 and expanded the size of the Royal Navy over the next few years in order to match Venice’s Adriatic strength. In 1208 tragedy struck when the King’s only legitimate son and heir, Stracimir was murdered by his jealous bastard brother, Daniil. The King furiously gave the order to execute his bastard and blamed the plotting nobles for the tragedy. His heir was now his young brother, the Ban of Istria and the King named him Ban of Slavonia. The domed Church of St. Joseph was finished later that year.

In 1209 Queen Emese died while the King was still grieving for his dead heir. He mourned his beloved queen but remarried soon after her death to Aliken of Austria. The bride was about 18/19, the King 42. The new Queen gave birth to a son, Filip in 1212 greatly pleasing the King. This was followed by another son, Ljubomir in 1214. A few months after the prince's birth, the King died on July 20, 1214 at the age of 48. His little son Filip, Ban of Senj-Dalmatia inherited his crown.


Legacy
Branislav I's success on the battlefield earned him the sobriquet 'The Conqueror' which he deserved. He served as an able and caring autocrat and was never hated by the people even the nobles who chafed under his autocracy. He was considered to be the founder of the Croatian Empire and certainly extended the realm to its greatest extent in history. His successes however were simply the swan song of the House of Trpimir. Tragedy and strife would soon doom the ancient dynasty.


The Croatian 'Empire' in 1214

Issue
Filip I, King of Croatia and Serbia
Ljubomir, Ban of Vidin
Radica, Marchioness of Venaissin married Marquis Eudes, had issue.
 

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Branislav seems to have had a successful reign in spite of inheriting the throne as a minor - it'll be interesting to see how Filip's reign turns out. It's also interesting that Filip follows in his father's footsteps, so to speak, of inheriting the throne as a minor.
 

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Alex Borhild: It's so strange, so many of my Kings inherit as minors from very old Kings. Thank God for feudalism laws, otherwise it always be chaos.
 

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The Reign of Filip the Last

Filip the Last
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Lord of the Bulgars, Overlord of Ragusa, Prince of Torki, Margrave of Istria
Reign: July 20, 1214 – September 2, 1228
Consort: none



The only surviving portrait of Filip the Last

Filip was the son of Branislav the Conqueror and his second queen, Aliken of Austria. He was born in 1212 at a highly anxious period where it appeared the House of Trpimir was on the brink of collapse. At age two, Filip inherited the thrones of Croatia and Serbia from his father and Queen Aliken was declared Regent despite the misgivings of many nobles.

The Regency 1214 - 1227

The Queen Dowager and her favourites governed on a tight clique flagrantly misusing the royal supremacy. She was a woman of pleasure but given to sudden acts of cruelty and flashes of ignorance. She bribed many nobles and they remained nominally loyal to her son. In 1215 the younger prince, Ljubomir died and the Queen became greatly worried,even paranoid over her son, the king’s safety. In 1217 she exiled Milman, Ban of Slavonia and seized his lands in Istria declaring him a rebel and exile. He had made the error of invading the Greek Empire along with the Prince of Rashka who was not punished being too powerful for the Regent.


Queen Regent Aliken

This move sparked the Civil War which began when the Ban of Belgrade rebelled in July later that year. The Queen Regent built up an alliance with the Church especially the bishop of Usora, Friedrich Luzzatti, the Kingdom of Hungary, the Consul of Ragusa the lesser gentry and nobles in central Croatia. The rebellion was strongest in Serbia and the south of the country. The Church was cajoled with the granting of power to levy extra tithes and the offer of a rich new see in Split. It thus became the Regent’s strongest ally and the Bishop of Usora offered his army freely for the kingdom’s use.

By 1220 the regent’s armies had won control of the entire nation, with a few sporadic revolts noted. The Regent had Ban Milman of Veglia (not the crown heir) murdered and seized his lands after his heir rebelled. This along with heavy bribes struck a powerful blow onto the rebel coalition and it collapsed swiftly. The Regent however panicked in 1222 when the coalition appeared to pick up and demanded a Charter of Liberties. This was duly granted in Zagreb on 4 January 1222 and the Regent signed it on behalf of her son. It was similar to the one of 1176 limiting the royal powers and greatly strengthening the great nobles.

In 1223 Prince Milman died in exile in Dubrovnik aged 53. The Regent rejoiced greatly and crafted a new code of succession. This one named the king’s nephew, Guy of Venaissin as heir to the throne. He was Princess Radica, the Marchioness of Venaissin’s only son. The code formally declared that the Crown of Croatia was hereditary. Upon the death of a king, his closest male heir, son or bother would inherit the crown. Only upon the expiration of all male in the dynasty, could the heir of a female inherit the Crown. Female succession was a topic not touched. The code declared that ‘our most noble nephew, Guy of Venaissin, son of our most beloved sister, Radica, Marchioness of Venaissin is the declared heir to the crowns of Croatia,Dalmatia and Serbia.'


The succession code

In the mid 1210’s a fierce horde had appeared from the east of Russia. A trail of blood, rapine and slaughter followed these ‘Mongols.’ They attacked eastern Poland and Hungary after taking much of Kievan Rus. The Hungarians appealed for aid from their Croatian allies but the Regent demurred from sending military aid. In early 1225 the Hungarian court sent urgent word for aid with the Mongols being just sixty miles from their capital at Pressburg. The Regent panicked and assembled 30,000 troops led by the Archbishop of Bosnia. The army faced several hardships including disease and desertion and arrived at the siege of Heves with just over 12,000 men. It however greatly aided the Hungarians over the next two years and fought all the way to the western bank of the Dniepr River. The Mongols had been defeated by a coalition of the Hungarians, Croats and Poles and the Croats won only the tiny principality of Torki. This was just a group of villages with two or three towns. The victories however took Croatia on the world stage and weakened the Golden Horde considerably. A revolt broke out in Zagreb again over the landlords’ cruel and exploitative behaviour and lasted for several years.


The conquests in the East (in red)

Later in 1227 the Regent suddenly got ill and died a few days later which many attributed to poison. Her son was 15 and on her deathbed she had him declare his majority. King Filip was a docile and pious youth who always interceded for the lesser ones. He was however poisoned by one his enemies at a feast celebrating his coming of age in September 2, 1228. The chief suspect was Josip Vukasin, the former ban of Split, dispossessed by the Crown during the Civil War. He was in exile in Hungary at the time but had gained much influence and wealth as the Hungarian King's advisor. The pious King Filip would be thought of by many as somewhat a saint having done several charitable acts. He was the last King of the House of Trpimirovic and his nephew, Guy of Venaissin inherited the Crown after a short interregnum.



The last male of the house of Trpimir

Interregnum of 1228

This took place after the death of Filip the Last. It was a short period whereby the nobles met and confirmed the King's choice of an heir. They disregarded the claims by Milman's grandson by his daughter, the Princess of Syrj. The nobles assembled at Vegila, the northernmost point of the Kingdom and they awaited the new King, Guy of Venaissin who arrived on the 13th of September and was acclaimed King.
 
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An Introduction

The House of Montbéliard


The coat of arms of Guy Branislav II

The House of Montbeliard originated from the County of Montbeliard and grew in prominence after one of the Counts married an heiress of Bar and Verdun. They were dispossessed by the Emperor Henry IV for supporting the Papacy in the Investiture Controversy of 1069-88. The family regained favour when the kingdoms were split after Henry IV’s death and served in the Kingdom of Burgundy where they received the county then marquisate of Venaissin.

The new King Guy Branislav II was the only son of Eudes, Marquis of Venaissin and his wife, Radica, princess of Croatia. Princess Radica was the daughter of Branislav the Conqueror and his wife, Emese of Hungary. Radica married the heir to the Marquisate of Venaissin in 1204. Her father had tried to marry her into the Burgundian royal family (von Franken) but had to settle for the heir of Venaissin since all of the Burgundian sons were already betrothed or married.

Radica settled well in Avignon and shrewdly advanced her husband’s career. After he became Marquis, she persuaded him to switch allegiance to France and would remain a lifelong Francophone. Her son Guy was born in 1209 and in 1223 he was declared heir to the crown of Croatia and would succeed in 1228 when Radica’s little brother, Filip died of poisoning. Some even accused the highly ambitious Marchioness of poisoning the brother she never knew.
 

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The Reign of Guy Branislav II (Part I)

Guy Branislav II the Spider Marquis
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Prince of Torki and Wallachia, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Marquess of Venaissin, Dauphin of Viennois
Consort: Mathilde d’ Limousin
Kunigunde of Austria
Reign: 2 September 1228 – 15 September 1262



Guy Branislav II holding court in Zadar

King Guy (throne name Branislav II) was the only son of Eudes, Marquis of Venaissin and his wife, Princess Radica of Croatia. Guy was thus the nephew of Filip I the Last of Croatia and also grandson of Branislav II the Conqueror. On his father's side, he hailed from the French house of Montbeliard which reigned over the tiny marquisate from its capital, Avignon.

Guy was raised at the royal court of Burgundy in Saluzzo and returned home to Avignon at sixteen. He married Mathilde Capet, daughter of Aubry, Count of Limousin. He served his father in Avignon as Master of the Armies and developed decent skills. On the afternoon of September 6, a messenger from Zadar,Croatia arrived to inform him that he had been chosen as the new King of Croatia. His father equipped him with 120 pounds of gold and an armed escort and he rushed across the Alps and northern Italy and through Carinthia to reach Veglia on 13 September 1228. At Veglia, a procession of nobles hailed their new King. He chose the throne name ‘Branislav II’ to show off his descent from the great King Branislav the Conqueror.

He carried on with most of the ministers from the previous king. At his accession, he had vowed to uphold the 1222 Charter of Liberties. He signed a new alliance with Carinthia which was under the predatory grasp of the German King. The King called his only sister, Lady Ermesinde to Zadar and married her to the heir of an Italian prince (Lord of Ferrara) He focused almost wholly on the politics of Alps region.

He was a shrewd man who liked scheming and punishing enemies with sabotage. In Croatia, he managed to do some good and negotiated the end of the Zagreb revolt giving the commoners in the city some relief from feudal burdens in early 1234. He introduced a Frankish style of feudalism but made it looser, reducing the power that the nobles had over commoners and strengthening the burghers greatly. In 1231 the King signed an alliance with Hungary’s young King Sylvester I. These mild actions helped stabilise the Kingdom after the chaotic previous reign. In February 1231 the King summoned the Sabor at Zadar and was voted credits worth 250 pounds of gold. The monarchy had grown increasingly poor since the Mongol campaign in 1225-27.

The Montbeliard family had an extended debate over who would inherit the marquisate upon Marquis Eudes’ death. The Marquis’ brother wanted it but the King opposed the loss of his paternal homeland. His mother, the Marchioness supported him but his father wanted to preserve the independence of his people. Guy offered to give his uncle a fief in Croatia but the Croat nobles opposed this vehemently. The King was forced to sign another provision in 1233 stipulating that he would not grant foreign nobles land in Croatia.


The marquisate of Venaissin

In May 1235 the King’s father died and he inherited the fabulously wealthy marquisate of Venaissin. He refused to pass it over to his uncle and it only deepened his interest in southern France - north Italian politics. The fortune was 2,265 pounds of gold. It greatly replenished the Croatian treasury and encouraged the King in his war plans. Later that same year, he invaded the march of Carniola (Krain) leading 20,000 troops. The Carniola War was incredibly successful with the King capturing all of Carniola by November 1235. He then went further west and took Padua by September 1236 and Cremona by March 2037.

The King of Burgundy attacked Venaissin and raised a great force which snuck past the Croats and relieved Padua. The Croatians snuck back and retook Padua. This game of taking and relieving went on for most of the year but as the King’s treasury dried up, he grudgingly agreed to a truce whereby the Croats kept Carniola but nothing else and paid indemnities of 248 pounds of gold for some war damage. The King returned in triumph but acted with great magnanimity and did not install the autocracy like Branislav the Conqueror did after his southern victories. The Archbishop of Rama had been elected Pope in late 2035 and assisted his former liege by excommunicating King Heinrich von Franken of Burgundy.

The Croat nobles who had previously taken their King for a lazy and indolent prince were highly alarmed by his success. They feared the imperial ambition clearly awakened and were afraid of the exactions that imperialist wars brought on them. The King sensing this decided to change tactics but would not abandon his favoured political region. In 1238 the Pope declared a crusade against the Kingdom of Burgundy. Poland, Auvergne, Carinthia and even the tiny duchy of Ferrara all invaded Burgundy. They professed to restore the papal territories in northern Italy seized by the German King Henry IV back in the 1070’s.

The land lust was however clear for all. Guy Branislav II could not resist as well and he aimed at the extremely wealthy Dauphine Viennois. This vast land also included the tiny county of Albon. He raised an extraordinary tax on salt raising more than 2,500 pounds of gold. He then assembled an army of 20,000 and 130 ships at Trieste and declared war on the kingdom of Burgundy. Heinrich of Burgundy was deeply alarmed. He had lost control of the western half of his kingdom and believed that Croatia would take the eastern half. He sent an emissary quickly offering to accede to any reasonable demands that the Croats might have. Guy Branislav II demanded to ‘buy’ Dauphine Viennois and offered 500 pounds of gold. Heinrisch accepted the ‘offer’ and handed over the vast province to Guy Banislav.

The ‘purchase’ was seen as a masterstroke of muscular diplomacy. Guy Branislav, ecstatic, dismantled his army and travelled to Vienne where he was installed as the Dauphin. The Dauphine Viennois was exhausted after at least a decade of constant war and looting taking place over it. The Croatian nobles were pleased at the relatively low cost of the conquest but worried about the trickery and the wealth of the province which would make the King less reliant on Croatia. A few surprises awaited the King in the years ahead. To be continued...



The Dauphine Viennois
 

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The Reign of Guy Branislav II (continued)

In 1242 the King joined his ally, Hungary in declaring war on Poland. The Polish for decades had aggressively expanded their empire in the east and ruled most of Lithuania and western Russia. Disputes over the lands conquered during the Mongol wars fuelled the current war. Croatia’s declaration was largely formal with only 100 denars sent to aid the Hungarians. The Pope demaded peace later in 1242 between the three kingdoms on the pain of an iterdict and all three humbly accepted. More aid was pumped into the new civil war in the Greek Empire. The King received a Golden Rose from the Pope who also in a surprise move canonized the King’s father, Marquis Eudes, a man known for good deeds but not really saint material.

Another surprising event that same year was the embassy led by Prince Bishop Jaromir Bentivoglio from his court in Tirvogiste. The Bohemian nobleman turned priest had conquered the western half of Wallachia with just 300 knights and a little over 3,000 footmen during the decay of the Pechneg empire about two decades earlier. He swore vassalage to the Croatian King and bound himself to pay 12 pounds of gold and 50 cows yearly to his new liege. It is not clear what drove the Prince Bishop to swear vassalage but some supposed that he always feared Constantinople’s designs on Wallachia.


The Wallachian Prince Bishop pledges allegiance.

In 1245 the King married off his daughter, Tiburge to Jakob, heir to the crown of Burgundy. He also aided the old King of Burgundy financially in an attempt to stop Christian crusaders from ripping his kingdom to shreds. The following year the King destroyed his rival, Drizslav Zahumski, ban of Zachlumia. The proud Ban wore silks scarcely less costly than the King’s, the diamonds of his duchess rivalled those of the Queen and he held a brilliant court at Zachlumia where he reminded all of his descent from the House of Trpimir. The King set him up in a plot where he assented to remove the King from the throne. He escaped Croatia but the king’s agents hounded him all over southern Europe. He was caught later in Hum and confined to a prison in Veglia.

In 1249 the King aided the royalists versus the noble rebels in Hungary. In 1251 the King received an embassy from Halsten, Prince of Turnu who swore homage to the monarch. He was a Swedish crusader of the noble house Stenyryka who had conquered southern Wallachia a decade ago. He was vulnerable to Constantinople and thus sought the safety offered by the Croatian monarchy. A German prince, Hugh of Schwaben visited the Croatian court numerous times and asked Guy Branislav to stand as anti-King to Rudolf of Franken. Guy Branislav correctly calculated that this was a useless offer and had no real support. He thus rejected this and another offer to take the throne of Sicily presented by the Count of Napoli.

Stefan, Prince of Rashka had no sons and his heiress, Branimira was of marrying age. The King wanted Rashka and tried to affiance his only son, Raoul with the heiress. Stefan tried to avoid this and hurriedly married his heiress to Janko Kacic, ban of Krizevci. The Prince had underestimated Guy Branislav’s desire to control Rashka but soon understood when the monarch had Ban Kacic assassinated. He then forced Lady Branimira to marry his son and Stefan realised he was defeated and Rashka would become a possession of the Crown.

After the wedding, Raoul was named Ban of Slavonia and sent off to govern the north east. He was also given overlordship on Krizevci where the Kacic family planned to avenge the murder of their lord Janko. Meanwhile in 1253, Andras, Count of Birlad submitted as a vassal. The King now controlled all of Wallachia purely through diplomacy. In 1253 the King’s hopes for Rashka were crushed somewhat when the Prince died suddenly and with no male heir in sight (his daughter had to have a male heir), his brother inherited the principality.

The Queen died in 1254 and a few months later, the King married Kunigunde of Austria. The King’s bribes in the Roman Empire finally sparked the civil war he desired early on in 1255. For the next few years the King prepared for a confrontation with Constantinople gathering vast sums of gold through extortion and trading in saintly relics. In January 1261 the King declared himself champion of the Serbs of Nis and marched down there to defend the city from Roman reoccupation. The Roman Emperor Basilieos V arrived and with a host larger that the Croatian’s – 15,500 and defeated the Croats at the walls of Nis. The King regathered his army in Rashka and created a strong army of 20,000.The Romans took back Nis and decided to go north to take Vidin. The Croats took the chance to take Nis and then went for Vidin where the Emperor was soundly defeated.


The battle of Vidin. Here some Lombard mercenaries are shown battling Roman troops.

With the Roman civil war still raging, the Emperor cut his losses and proposed a truce in June 1262 whereby the Croats paid him 212 pounds of gold for ‘damages’ Guy Branislav agreed and installed a Greek exile as governor of Nis. Despite the nominal victory, the war’s cost was immense and taxed the treasury heavily.

In June 1262 the maverick Prince Bishop Jaromir of Wallachia had been elected Pope after massive bribes to the College of Cardinals. Guy Branislav took over his vacant and immense see which was not properly Church land. These lands were occupied by the Romans but were returned to the Croats after the war. The King returned home highly excited but a few days after his entrance in Zadar, he collapsed at a public reception, clutching to the left of his chest. He died on the 15th of September after a reign of 34 years aged 53. His only son, Raoul inherited the throne



The Croatian Empire in 1162. Light green and brown indicate vassals

Legacy

Guy Branislav II was nicknamed the Spider Marquis because he spent much of his early reign preoccupied with political issues concerning his marquisate and expanding his lands in the south of France. His great talent in intrigue earned him the spider part of the nickname. He won a lot of land purely through intrigue and diplomacy and often used brain over brawn in military strategy as well. He kept Croatian advisors in his Council but French relatives and other foreigners always outnumbered the Croats. His moderation in domestic policy created peace at home and allowed him a free hand in foreign policy. He would be remembered for his expansions north, east, west and south while 16th century politician Ricardo Mallachelli would idolize the King in his famous political treatise ‘The Monarch’ as an ideal ruler following the principles of Mallachellism .

Issue
Raoul Kresimir V, King of Croatia
Tiburge, Queen of Burgundy marred Jakob, King of Burgundy
 

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The Reign of Raoul Kresimir V the Forgotten

Raoul Kresimir V the Forgotten
King of Croatia, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Prince of Torki and Wallachia, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Marquess of Venaissin, Dauphin of Viennois
Consort: Hermine of Sicily
Reign: 15 September 1262 – 23 November 1263



A portrait of the monarch taken shortly before the tragedy of Wallachia

He was the only son of Guy Branislav II by his first Queen Mathilde of Limousin. He grew at court in Zadar educated by the Chancellor, Ioan of Byzntion who gave a thorough classical education. In December 1252 at age 16, he married Branimira, heiress of Rashka. Soon after he was invested as Ban of Slavonia and held his court at Zagreb. Lady Branimira hated her spouse and blamed him unfairly for the violence that had ensured her marriage to him. She died in 1253 in childbirth leaving behind three children. The young Ban had a merry court at Zagreb with many wenches, musicians and practices of courtly love.

Raoul married Hermine, a cousin of the King of Sicily soon after at the urging of the King. He participated in the Hungarian revolt of 1256 where he defeated rebels in the county of Vas. His father granted him the banate of Zachlumia as a reward for this success. He also participated in the Croatian – Roman war of 1261-2 but met failure while attempting to relieve Vidin. In September 1262 Raoul became King when his royal father died. He was 25, high spirited and having inherited a large fortune exceeding 8,000 pounds of gold.


The merry yet short lived court of Raoul Kresimir V

He was popular especially with the merry housewives of the city. The King was skilled and devoted to martial arts and after his coronation in December 1262, he assembled an army of 10,000 at Zeta, Rashka, marched south and invaded the city of Durres in January 1263. The city had been neglected by the Romans when it had rebelled so there was little resistance and it fell by May 1263. The King did not return home but instead marched north east to subdue a rebellion in Turnu. He arrived in September and quickly ran over the feeble defences. He exiled the Stenkyrnka family and annexed the principality to the royal demesne.

The King went on further east to take eastern Wallachia, the County of Birlad. He met the armies of Count Andras Arpady in a small village. The King’s 10,000 man army vastly outnumbered the small 3,000 man army that the Count led. However the King’s horse panicked after sighting a snake ahead and it threw off the monarch to run off. As the monarch fell, his head hit a rock hard and he died on the spot. After just over a year, Raoul Kresimir V, only 26 was dead. Once again a child mounted the throne of Croatia.

The King earned the sobriquet 'The Forgotten' due to his very short reign. The achievements of his father and son completely dwarfed his successes. Nevertheless the city of Durres has a street called 'Raoul Royal Boulevard' while his son, Makarii would later build a a great military academy in Zachlumia dedicated to his forgotten father.



Issue
1)By Branimira of Rashka
Makarii I King of Croatia
Tiburge, Margravine of Osnabruck

2) By Hermine of Sicily
Hrjove, Prince of Wallachia



THE WORLD IN 1266: 200 Years Later


Croatia has gained many lands in Wallachia, Torki and Serbia.


After the Turk conquests of much of Anatolia, the Roman Empire remains a shell of its former self with Croatia taking many of its northern possessions.


The House of Dabrowa has inherited the throne of Bohemia and added to its domains, Brandenburg, Pomerania and western Prussia.


The Burgundian branch of the House of Franconia has strengthened Burgundy with conquest in northern Italy, southern France and the bishopric of Salzburg.


The House of Franconia has seen its domains recover from near anarchy to a unified Germany with parts of Italy and France still attached or added to the Empire through conquest and marriage.


Hungary gained extensive territories in the lands of the Rus as the Mongols withdrew after the defeat in 1227.


The Nordic kingdoms of Sweden and Norway continue to be in personal union and hold vast swathes of northern Germany and Lithuania.


The Dragons reign over their homeland, Wales and parts of Scotland and England along with Irish and Norman vassals.


England is a shell of what it was just a hundred years ago.


The Normans continue to reign over southern Italy in a kingdom known as Sicily. They have a little territory in north west Italy as well. Conflicts with the Papacy have seen the once promising house of Hauteville rapidly wind down its ambitions to defend what it already holds.


After the traumatic defeat of the battle of Garonne, which saw the Moors advance past the Pyrenees to the south bank of the Garonne (in the 1240’s) France remains divided and in civil war as the Houses of Trencavel and Capet fight over the throne.


The Moors remain very strong but deeply divided. They now rule nearly of all Spain excepting some Christian enclaves in the north east. They have advanced north to the south of the River Garonne.



The great Shaheens of Egypt had made vigorous attempts to restore the old Caliphate after ousting the useless Fatimids in the late 12th century. They now rule over most of north Africa, southern Spain, Egypt herself, the Levant and Iraq and eastern Arabia.
 
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The Reign of Makarii the Maginificent Part 1

Makarii the Magnificent
King of Croatia, Hungary, Dalmatia and Serbia, Ban of Slavonia, Lord of the Bulgars, Prince of Torki and Wallachia, Margrave of Istria and Carniola, Marquess of Venaissin, Dauphin of Viennois, Signor of Ancona
Consort: Dorota of Wallachia
Reign: 23 November 1263 - 11 November 1306



The young Makarii

Makarii I was the son of Raoul Kresimir V the Forgotten and his first wife, Branimira of Rashka. He was born in Zagreb and raised in Varadzin as most heirs of the Crown were. In November 1263, his father died suddenly in an accident in Wallachia and he was hailed King at age 10. A Regency Council of five was established and its President was the Constable of Croatia, Kresimir Kacic. The boy King’s stepmother, the Sicilian Queen was completely sidelined and died in childbirth a few months later.

Constable Kresimir Kacic, a fine leader and a man of unimpeachable dignity and devotion to the monarchy was a scion of the bans of Krizevci. He had served as Constable since the later years of Guy Branislav II. A man of action, he ordered the army in Birlad to finish the job, which they did, annexing the county. He appointed governors in Dyrrachium and Wallachia while opening the royal purse to bribe the nobles on the point of rebellion. The King was being educated at the monastery of St.Joseph in Zagreb. The Constable crushed revolts in Veglia and another in Venaissin. He actively yet cautiously interfered in the continuing Roman civil war, supporting the rival Emperor who sat in Samos and recognising him as the legitimate emperor.


The great Constable Kresimir Kacic

In 1269 the young King took the helm but kept Lord Kacic as his top advisor. His character by and large was similar to the old Constable’s. He was pious, cautious, highly intelligent and almost incorruptible. The Constable advised him to safeguard the principality of Wallachia, the greatest security concern by marrying a sister of the Prince of Transylvania, Dorota Zichy. This took place in November 1069 and the good princess proved a worthy consort to a very energetic monarch and an auspicious start to the King’s reign. The two of them were both highly educated and of good nature. They fought corruption together with Queen Dorota acting as steward to her husband, the income of the treasury more than doubled. The Queen was regarded almost as a co ruler and coins were issued with her image alongside that of the King.



King Makarii and Queen Dorota

In 1271 the King attacked the towns surrounding Lake Ochrid and sent the Voivode of Zeta with an army of 8,000 to Ochrid where he successfully took the Ochrid towns. King Makarii also sent the army off to Cyprus where they aided rebels to take over the Governor of Ochrid’s vast holdings in Famagusta. He was forced to treaty and handed over the theme of Ochrid to the Croats. In mid 1272 the King issued a charter granting land for the building of the University of Zadar. In 1273 the King’s first child, a son named Stjepan was born. Several other children were to be born over the years.

The King began building the Shipyard of Dalmatia in Zadar in 1276. It was meant to rival the strength of the Queen of the Adriatic (Venice) and many merchant ships were to take advantage of the shipyard’s great capacity. In 1279 the King married his brother, Hrvoje to Sophia Beck of Pereschen. He then installed him as Prince of Wallachia, sending him to govern the vast principality from Birlad. As a key post in the Roman-Magyar trading route, it flourished very swiftly and thus became a key city in the Croatian dominions.

In 1280 prominent citizens of Ancona sent an embassy to Croatia and pleaded with the King to relieve them of the onerous burden their ruling Countess imposed on them. Makarii, ever an enemy of injustice raised an army of 12,000 and sailed from Zadar to Ancona. Upon arrival the Croatians easily overran the Countess's pathetic Coast Guard. Makarii then took the small castle and exiled the foolish Countess. The citizens acclaimed him ‘Lord and Sovereign’ and ‘Signor’. In 1285 the King returned to Italy with an army of 12,000 and took Spoleto. Fearing Papal anger, he donated the province to the Church and had it named a bishopric. The king now ruled over the entire eastern half of the Italian Marches. A few months later, the Margrave of Vienna rebelled from Austria and declared himself a Croatian vassal.


The landing in Ancona

The King exiled the Jews from Zagreb later that year and seized their wealth. The King was offered the crown of Hungary after its King was excommunicated by demurred. He sent aid to the cash strapped yet warmongering Pope who sent him another golden rose and proclaimed him the ‘wisest and truest monarch in all of Christendom. He exemplified the ideal medieval monarch – pious, strong and illustrious. The King found it hard to replace his beloved former Regent Lord Kacic after he died in 1281 and waited until 1286 to nominate a new Constable. He banned peasants from conducting trade outside church walls. Greater things however awaited this King due to his reverence for the Church.

In 1284 Pope excommunicated Andrew III of Hungary for amongst other things abusing church lands and exiling numerous bishops amongst other things. The angry Pope sent a letter to King Makarii inviting him to assume the royal title of Hungary. The King demurred for some time while his nominal ally was plunged into chaotic civil war as Andrew III’s vassals sought to depose him and chafed under his misrule. In August 1286 Makarii raised 30,000 men and took the city of Székesfehérvár, the traditional crowning place of Hungarian Kings. He declared himself King of Hungary tracing his descent (somewhat weakly) from the Arpad Kings through his great great grandmother, Emese, the first Queen of Branislav the Conqueror. He was crowned by the papal legate, with fake regalia as Andrew III had the Crown of Saint Stephen, traditionally seen as a key conferrer of legitimacy on Hungarian monarchs.


The Crown of Saint Stephen - a symbolic but very important part of being King of Hungary.

The King crossed the Danube in October 1286 and defeated several pathetic Hungarian armies at the gates of Pressburg. Pressburg was the administrative and royal capital of Hungary. In January 1287, the King began a siege of Pressburg and by the end of March, the city fell to Croatian hands. Meanwhile in the east, Prince Hrvoje moved swiftly to take Kiev with the help of Hungarian rebels. By July 1287, the Prince controlled all of the royal towns of eastern Hungary.The campaign went on... To be continued.
 
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The Reign of Makarii the Magnificent (Continued)


In a legendary method of much infamy, Andrew III escaped from Pressburg. He was said to have dressed in a white cape and snuck out of the gates of Pressburg by night just before the siege ended. He ran across the snow covered plains and was spirited to Krakow, where he held much land. Makarii followed him there and besieged the town. Makarii also met the Polish King, Vladislav who signed a treaty of alliance induced by the promise of Krakow. At Krakow, Andrew III tried his luck and attempted to escape by being passed out of the city as a corpse. Unfortunately for him, the city fell to the Croats in mid September before he could leave and stupidly he was identified by his royal ring which he had not taken off. King Makarii took him into custody and demanded the royal regalia. Andrew agreed to hand it over in exchange for his freedom which Makarii accepted and Andrew left for Kiev. He managed to salvage his eastern holdings and ruled in the east.

At Pressburg, Makarii, cautious as ever, confirmed the privileges of the Hugarian noblesand towns while affirming that he would maintain a separate Chancellery for Hungary, appoint a Hungarian Palatine and upon his death, his second son,Gavril would inherit the kingdom. The Hungarian nobles trusted the great King and some submitted voluntarily. The ones who did would give him full support in his zeal of reuniting Hungary under his rule.


The King controlled only 13 of 25 Hungarian counties

After receiving the true Hungarian regalia, the King had another coronation. After this, Makarii’s ruthlessness would come to the surface. He obtained an extraordinary Papal bull which excommunicated every Hungarian nobleman who refused to recognise him as King. The first were the immensely powerful Premyslid scion who ruled much of eastern Hungary from Abauj to Bihar. The Pope excommunicated all of the sons of the great Margrave of Moravia who ruled in their father’s place. Makarii declared their estates forfeit and carried out a brutal two year war which ended in his complete occupation of the Hungarian lands of the Premyslids in mid 1289. He had invested 25,000 troops and some 2,000 pounds of gold but it was worth it as his power in Hungary rose greatly.

Over the next few years, the King continued ‘gathering’ the Hungarian counties. By 1292 all but Marmaros were under his control and the country largely pacified. He could now focus on his next project – reducing the power of Rashka. The mighty principality only paid lip service to Croatia and continued to have an active foreign policy, at times contrary to that of Croatia. The King was incensed to see a Roman-Rashkan detente but the conquest of Hungary took priority. In late 1292 he raised a host of 20,000 troops in Belgrade and invaded Rashka. He took castle by castle firmly refusing any truce. Upon occupying the entire principality in 1293, the King claimed the principality based on his mother, Branimira’s status as a disputed heiress of Rashka. He exiled the Prince Nemanja but allowed a cadet branch of the House of Voijeslavic to continue reigning as Zupans of Zeta. The rest of the principality was annexed by the Crown. This powerful blow at magnates made the Crown even more powerful and weakened all dissenters.

The massive power shift helped speed up the King’s plans to invade the Roman Empire. In January 1297 the King raised a massive host of 50,000 leading 30,000 into Epirus while another 20,000 took Strymon. These provinces were long neglected and fell quickly to Croatia. The Croats then went east and took Thessalia and Thessalonica in July. A month later Arta was taken. The fall of the second city of the Empire,Thessalonica alarmed David II who pushed a truce quickly and one was signed in September. The Romans effectively recognised the conquest of Albania and Strymon by the Croats while recovering Thessalonica and Thessalia.


A portrait of the monarch, currently housed at the Palace of Pressburg

Makarii was happy with the peace and returned to Zadar. The riddle of governing the newly conquered Epirus was solved when Makarii granted the conquered Albania to Lord Almerich von Zahringen and created him Prince of Epirus. He also gave him the hand of his youngest daughter, Milka. In 1300 the King sent his son in la, Constable Giacinto d’Bourgogne to invade Venice with 12,000 troops after the Venetians invaded Spoleto. He pulled his army back after the Venetians paid a fine of 233 pounds of gold. In 1305 the King assisted his allies, the Italians versus the powerful republic of Bologna. The Croats won an overwhelming victory in Bologna and took the city. It was given back to the much favoured Housde of Zahringen who had ruled it before being ousted in a popular revolt. The King took it slow from then on often indulging in pious activities of reflection. He commissioned the building of the Zadar Castle, a monstrosity inspired by the Walls of Constantinople. On November 11 1306 the King died suddenly while signing an official document. His son, Stjepan inherited the old Croatian dominions while Gavril inherited the Kingdom of Hungary.

Legacy


Makarii's empire

Makarii’s sobriquet ‘The Magnificent’ reveals the great esteem that his contemporaries had for him. He was certainly the most powerful ruler in Christendom during his reign. He built several buildings around his empire, most notably the University of Zadar and began the building of Zadar Castle. His conquests in Hungary, the Roman Empire and eastern Italy vastly increased the size of the Croatian Empire. His mild and hardworking character only helped increase the prosperity of the empire. His piety made it easy for him to rule over several Popes although the Pope who gave him rights to Hungary did it out of his own initiative. Makarii knew when to push his nobles, the Church and commoners but he also knew when to give in. These characteristics were the very foundation of greatness.

Issue
Stjepan III of Croatia married 1) Mahaut of Siena 2) Efrosinia of Lyubech
Gavril I of Hungary married Matilda of Italy
Elena married Giacinto of Burgundy had issue.
Petra, Duchess of Courland married 1) Gudliek, Duke of Estonia 2) Imram, Duke of Courland
Milka, Princess of Epirus married Almerich, Prince of Epirus had issue.
 
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