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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

volksmarschall

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Chapter 1

Before I continue with the Second German War, which will be covered in Chapter 2 on the German Wars as a whole, as these series of conflicts pitting the Habsburgs and the Wittelsbach and the upstart Podebrad Dynasty in Bohemia (like the old Luxembourg Dynasty, becoming a more serious threat to Habsburg hegemony), it would more important to continue with the general trend of the Habsburg proliferation across Europe at the end of the middle ages and at the onset of the Renaissance, in which the Habsburg Monarchy would finally be unified as a unitary state.

As mentioned, the Habsburg line was secured in the Alsace Succession Crisis, and by prodding Burgundy and France into a war, war with Burgundy was averted. The masterful diplomacy of the Habsburgs, and principally Viktor Steinegger, who would be the first of a line of great Habsburg diplomats, should be praised (or perhaps criticized) for the hegemonic politics and constant scheming. The Peasants’ Rebellions, which were so pronounced throughout the western territories of the Holy Roman Empire, managed to topple the city-state of Aachen.

Aachen, like Alsace, was a border region between the Holy Roman Empire’s western boundary with the newly declared Kingdom of Burgundy (upon its unification of lands, despite serious setbacks in two wars against the French).[1] The Habsburgs were now growing cautiously concerned between the House of Burgundy and the House of Valois (in France). France was the more powerful of the two rivals, but the Valois were seen as lacking the ambitions of dismantling or becoming emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. By contrast, Charles I of Burgundy, although defeated in battle more times than victorious, had managed to achieve what his father could not – unite the Burgundian lands (although it is equally true he lost more land than he gained, the lands he did gain made connected Southern Burgundy with their Flemish and Wallonian lands. While the rivalry between Charles I and Louis XIII was beneficial to the Habsburgs, Maximilian I was more of a diplomatic warrior than his father. To secure the empire’s western borders, his uncle – Wilhelm von Schöneck (von Habsburg), a member of the Habsburg Family twice removed, created the Duchy of Aachen to bring stability back to the city-state and again pin the Burgundians in – two of the ideal candidates for Burgundian aggression and expansion were territories held by a Habsburg, who would surely receive the full force of aid from the main line in Vienna. Wilhelm von Schöneck became Wilhelm I of Aachen, and closely aligned himself with his mother lineage back in Austria.

Additionally, when Holstein declared its independence from the Kingdom of Denmark, which was ruled by Christian I, a Wittelsbach, the Habsburgs wasted no times in seeing another of their kin elevated to the throne of Holstein. Peter August, a stepcousin of Maximilian, was invited to take the throne of Holstein by the Holstein nobility. It is widely believed that Viktor Steinegger had a major role in prodding the nobility of Holstein to select a Habsburg ruler. With Bavaria’s ambitions on the rise, and with Denmark (a seat of the Wittelsbach Dynasty) and the expansionist Hanseatic Confederacy two major obstacles for the Habsburgs to deal with – a Habsburg Holstein made some degree of sense.

Although Peter August I was isolated in the far northern reaches of the empire, his connection and familial blood with the Habsburgs, like with Leopold Wilhelm in Alsace and Wilhelm I in Aachen, the weight of Habsburg concern would rest with him. Plus, the move hemmed in the Hanseatic Confederacy, Denmark, and Sweden, all of whom knew that war over Holstein which could very easily be overrun by either of their military forces, would seek and be granted the protection of the Habsburg emperor and beget a wider conflict in Northern Germany.


Wilhelm von Schöneck von Habsburg, the Habsburg duke of Aachen, having restored order to the free city of Aachen after its fall during the German Peasants' Rebellion of the late fifteenth century. The Habsburgs now had associated family members as the dukes of Alsace and Aachen, and soon after, dukes of Holstein.

It should be brought to the reader’s attention that there also seemed to be a very deliberate choosing of the crowns or newly established thrones that the Habsburg sought after – all were border principalities of the Holy Roman Empire. Alsace and Aachen to the west and Holstein to the north, all three important borders states on the periphery of the empire. Alsace and Aachen served as a hedge against possible Burgundian aggression into the Holy Roman Empire, while Holstein served as a forceful reminder to the Hanseatic Confederacy of the ambitions to dominate the northward slopes of the Holy Roman Empire would not tolerated, and also served as a reminder to the Wittelsbach Dynasty, with families on the thrones of Bavaria, Norway, and Denmark – who, like the Habsburgs, were not only bidding for hegemony in the Holy Roman Empire but across the continent – who was Europe’s pre-eminent dynasty!

Viktor Steinegger even remarked to Emperor Maximilian, “The ambitions of Charles [of Burgundy] and the Wittelsbach must be contained by our eternal vigilance. It is by your family’s birthrate, chosen by the Lord our God himself, that you and your children should branch out across Europe and be the stewards of God’s earth…It is important that our diplomatic policy ensure the continuity of your family and their holdings, however far removed from you and your children they become!”

***​

The art of diplomacy through marriage, although most notably associated with the Habsburgs, can be traced back to the Romans of Antiquity. Ever since Charlemagne was crowned emperor of the Romans by the Pope, and with the Habsburgs seizing this title and proclaiming themselves the heirs of Julius Caesar (however illegitimate such claims were, and they certainly had no basis in reality other than as a means of pure political propaganda), the Habsburgs seemed obsessive enough to take this Roman art form, as it was, to perfection.

It was commonplace for Roman princesses, and minor princes, like it became under the Habsburgs, to be wed to enemies – barbarians or otherwise civilized men, to secure their loyalty to Rome (principally at a time when Rome was economically and financially destitute, and its military forces could hardly muster the same forceful loyalty as the chief of king married to the daughter of the Roman emperor would). Thus, the motto:

Let others wage war, but you happy Austria, marry.
...is fittingly appropriate. However, the problem with the wide diversity of marriages and the proliferation of Habsburgs across the continent ensured a decentralized and un-unified political entity. While it is equally true that the power of the King of France hardly travelled beyond Paris, and in the countryside the titular lords of France simply paid homage to the king and wielded the true power – the major difference between the decentralized kingdoms of England or France and the Habsburg Monarchy was that, in times of crisis and war, both the nobles of France and England could be counted upon to muster their forces and answer their king’s call to arms. By contrast, the many Habsburgs seated in minor principalities and kingdoms were less attached to the main family back in Vienna than the Vienna Circle was to them.


A Renaissance painting depicting the fertility of the Habsburg Family and their spread across Europe. This painting depicts Archduke Matthew's love affair with an Italian princess. The fostering of illegitimate children, otherwise a disadvantage for many dynasties, ironically became a strong asset for the Habsburgs.

Even the Hungarian Army, which was part of the Habsburg Imperial Army, was still independent of the German and Italian dominated armies serving under the Habsburg ruler. As I mentioned in my introduction, it isn’t until 1508, with the integration of the Kingdom of Hungary as a unified crown under the direct control of the emperor, in which the Habsburg Monarchy becomes a truly unified and unitary state – like the other kingdoms of Europe. However, to understand this portion of Habsburg history, one must understand how, and why, it took 50 years for the Habsburgs to centralize their rule. In part, the long decades in the leading up to Habsburg unification and centralization are the result of their diplomatic marriages, their position as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire, and the general conservative rank of the Holy Roman electorate and nobility. It made little reason, for mostly political reasons, to annex or unify the Habsburg outlying territories – like Alsace, or Holstein, because of the negative reaction the Habsburgs would receive from the princely caste for such moves, as the princes would naturally like to defend their independent status. Also, Frederick III’s granting of Hungarian semi-independence, de jure allegiance to the empire with the Habsburg Archduke of Austria also to be forever crowned as the King of Hungary, to end the War of Unification – meant that de facto power was still held by the Hungarian nobles, who were less than willing to surrender their autonomy to the Germans.




[1]The “Kingdom” of Burgundy was, again, a duchy, as most of its lands were considered part of the Holy Roman Empire. The move to refer to Burgundy as a Kingdom is a reflection of the political reality of the Holy Roman Empire, the fact that Burgundy (as a political entity in the game) is not a member state, and the rivalry I have with them. Had Charles I, “The Bold,” who I have renamed “The Rash,” achieved his goals in the historic Burgundian Wars (before his death and the Burgundian Succession Crisis), he would have probably of transformed Burgundy from a duchy to a kingdom. With Burgundy’s lands now united (despite some losses to the French), the unified Burgundy is also a reason why I’ve decided to make it a kingdom.
 
Last edited:

stnylan

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Interesting post on the strength and weakness of Hapsburg policy at this time, in comparison to other states in Europe.
 

LeCHVCK

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Charles would be King of Lotharingia, Belgium but not Burgundy because the emperor is king of burgundy and the duchy of burgundy had nothing to do with the kingdom. Good ARR :)
 

Enewald

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What lands were lost to the French? Also Elsaß nor Aachen are not de jure border regions. :p
Any chances of some accident happening to the Burgundian Duke, so that you might inherit some of those lands?
 

volksmarschall

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stnylan said:
Interesting post on the strength and weakness of Hapsburg policy at this time, in comparison to other states in Europe.
It sets the stage for the future chapters in the AAR! :)

Charles would be King of Lotharingia, Belgium but not Burgundy because the emperor is king of burgundy and the duchy of burgundy had nothing to do with the kingdom. Good ARR :)
I'm glad you're enjoying this LeCHVCK! :cool:

However, Charles wouldn't be King of Lorraine (he was after all, the Duke of Burgundy) since Lorraine is part of the empire and is a duchy -- which was always separate from the Duchy of Burgundy ruled over by the Dukes from the House of Anjou and then the House of Lorraine, historically, nor Beligum - since Belgium never existed as a political entity in the empire. Although, Lorraine no longer exists in the game and is ruled by me, thereby making the Archduke of Austria, also HRE emperor the Duke of Lorraine. The Burgundian rulers (as per the duchy since the kingdom has long since been dead), who were never "kings" per the "kingdom" as shown in the game, but were Dukes of Burgundy since the Duchy of Burgundy was, de jure, considered part of the H.R.E. Charles I, Duke of Burgundy, historically wanted to connect his lands to make a contiguous political entity by absorbing Lorraine through conquest -- the Burgundian Wars, 1474-1477. Since that was accomplished in the game, and since the game does not have Burgundy as a whole - as part of the empire, I decided to re-write the history as the newly elevated Kingdom of Burgundy (refer back to my recent footnotes in the last 2 updates). The HRE Emperor only became "Duke of Burgundy", since the only permitted kingdom was Bohemia, only after the extinction of the Valois branch of the family with Charles's death in 1477 historically and was absorbed by the Habsburgs. This did not happen per the game. Thus, the new kingdom of Burgundy has been proclaimed, which is what the Burgundian House of Valois wanted to do anyway.

This convenient re-writing of Burgundy as a kingdom in its own right reflects: Burgundy is now a contiguous political realm (even if it has lost more land than it has now gained thereby accomplishing what Charles historically wanted to accomplish), it is one of my in-game rivals, and that its capital is located in French Burgundy (hence why Burgundy is not a listed member state in the game, even if the majority of its lands were part of the empire - which is why the Habsburgs inherited the imperial territories upon Charles's death). Not to be nit picky but I am being very careful to report the historicity of the HRE over the EU4 base which lists all the duchies of the HRE as "kingdoms". To reflect the developments listed above, and written in my footnote, Burgundy will be a kingdom as long as a Habsburg doesn't inherit or ascend to the Burgundian throne -- at which point, with a proper Habsburg ruling over Burgundy, it will revert back to its ducal status (symbolizing of course, a Habsburg victory over upstart Burgundy). ;)

What lands were lost to the French? Also Elsaß nor Aachen are not de jure border regions. :p
Any chances of some accident happening to the Burgundian Duke, so that you might inherit some of those lands?
Alsace and Aachen are border regions, bordering the Duchy of Burgundy. Lorraine no longer exists. Therefore, Alsace is a border region with Burgundy (at Metz). The free city of Aachen, now a Duchy (kingdom in the game) is also on the border with Burgundy. Thereby it is a westward border region. I felt I was rather clear in my footnote of the new developments. :confused:

I've played well into the sixteenth century. The "House of Burgundy" (the Valois branch of the family) still rules over Burgundy, which is a moderate power sandwiched between the HRE and a very big France (although, the enemy of my enemy is my friend -- and I now have a royal marriage and alliance with Burgundy to ward off French ambitions and they don not have an heir with a 42/43 year old ruler and a Habsburg Family member is slated to ascend the throne if he dies without an heir). France took some of the Lowland provinces, of which I would not know off hand; but I know they hold Ghent and Antwerp and the other ones like Artois and Cambray which I believe, are under Burgundian control at the beginning of the game.
 
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juckil

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A very intriguing AAR! I'm very tired at the minute so I just skim read the paragraphs; but from what I read it seems like a great read, I do like the more historical, realistic playthroughs. I'll read it all tomorrow when I'm refreshed and tell you what I think!
 

volksmarschall

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A very intriguing AAR! I'm very tired at the minute so I just skim read the paragraphs; but from what I read it seems like a great read, I do like the more historical, realistic playthroughs. I'll read it all tomorrow when I'm refreshed and tell you what I think!
Hopefully reading this doesn't make you even more tired when you get down to brass tax! :p
 

volksmarschall

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Chapter 1

It is often said that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. This might be applicable to the later Habsburgs since, as you can imagination, Frederick III and his son Maximilian the Young saw diplomacy not only as a means to secure the borders against possible aggressors – but also to incorporate new territories into the crownlands. The crownlands of the Habsburgs are separate from the ancestral lands (Austria), and include those crowns (political states) that are directly administered by the ruling Habsburg archduke.

The phrase, although untrue, has a particularly truth contained in it applicable to the Habsburgs: tradition is habitual and at times, extremely banal and on occasion – actually harmful for their internal politics and prestige. If practice makes perfect, the early practice of diplomacy and marriage started by Frederick III but reaching its early apex under Maximilian (1472-1494), is one of the reasons for the Habsburg preference to diplomacy instead of war – which is not to say, as many critics have derided, that the Habsburgs were unmanly and effeminate, much like the Greek rulers of Constantinople are (or were) often cast before the Turks captured Constantinople in 1451.[1] The young dog was learning this art from among Europe’s great diplomats, Viktor Steinegger, and it would become so entrenched in Habsburg tradition and policy that even the most militant of emperors would not be able to escape the clutches and natural impulse to wed their sons, daughters, cousins, brothers, and sisters to the far reaches of the European nobility. He was, until his death, one of the foremost diplomats during the Renaissance Era. As for Frederick’s son Maximilian, he had no doubt of his greatness and future success – days after his succession to the throne, the Meteorite of Ensisheim came crashing down to earth. The rock, seen as a wonder and glorious sign from God, was immediately preserved.


The Fall of Constantinople to the Turks sent shock waves through Europe. The Habsburgs were now forced to take notice of the growing power of the Ottomans in the Balkans, who would soon come to threaten Habsburg ambitions in the region. As a result, Charles I, in 1530, proclaimed himself "defender of the Slavic Church." The Ottoman Empire would eventually become the great power of the world after this conquest, expanding even into Southern Italy before being confronted by Emperor Charles Joseph in 1565.

Yet, in a fitting irony, the Habsburgs could pride themselves as being co-heirs to the now extinguished line of Caesars in Constantinople, the city having fallen to the Turks in 1451, as the rightful and only scions of the Roman tradition. After all, the emperor of Rome (the Holy Roman Empire) liked to stylize himself as Caesar Augustus. The many Greek dynasties that ruled from Constantine’s city, like the long line of Habsburgs from Vienna, saw diplomacy not as an effeminate display of weakness – but as the ultimate game of empire building and political scheming, which likely preserved both empires for as long they existed. While the less articulate and rash rulers often went to war, the artful, masterful, and educated ruler went to war with the stroke of a pen – or the marriage of a family member. Although the Turkic Sultan, Mehmed the Conqueror, also stylized himself as Qaysar-i Rūm, the Persian variant spelling of “Caesar of Rome” (having extinguished and taken captive the true lineage of the Roman Empire), similarities between Habsburg practices have always been brought up in relation to the Byzantines (not to mention much of the pomp and symbolism of the Holy Roman Empire and Archduchy of Austria was deliberately based upon Byzantine symbolism, which was influenced by Persian symbolism, etc.). Furthermore, Helena Palaiologina, a niece of the last Byzantine emperor, had escaped Greece and found refuge in Vienna, along with a consort of Greek painters and philosophers. She would later wed Archduke George, one of the sons of Maximillian giving greater continuity and credibility to the Habsburg claim as August of the Romans.

A brief war with the twin Count-Duchy of Provence-Lorraine brought the Duchy of Lorraine under direct Habsburg rule as well as Istria which was also made into a hereditary duchy for the Habsburg Family (1477-1479), but the Duchy of Württemberg which had long been a target for Habsburg control had evaded Habsburg grips during the brief conflict. Maximilian I, who truly pioneered the art of royal marriage – for it was under his reign that the cadet branches in Holstein and Aachen were established, the Habsburg line in Lorraine grew in power and prominence within the Holy Roman Empire, and that the Duchy of Württemberg was incorporated into the crownlands.


An episode of the Lorraine War, in which the Habsburgs took control of the Duchy of Lorraine from the House of Anjou (ruling Provence). The Venetians, who were allied with the House of Anjou, also lost Istria to the Habsburgs during the war. The Habsburgs took the title "Duke of Lorraine" and "Count of Istria" in the aftermath of the war.

The Duchy of Württemberg was a member state of the Holy Roman Empire, one of the manly princely realms that comprised the pseudo-empire. It had found itself on the losing end of the First German War, when it backed Burgundy and the province of Konstantz was seized by Frederick III as a trophy of the war. When the young Duke, George Frederick ascended to the throne, he took Maximilian’s sister – Elisabeth, as his wife, hoping to secure good standing with the Habsburgs in Vienna. For Maximilian, the decision was much simpler – through George Frederick’s marriage to his sister Elisabeth, Maximilian was given cause for the eventual incorporation of Württemberg as a crownland of the Habsburg Monarchy. Unfortunately for the duchy, it had the unremarkable bad fortune of being in a bad geographic location – not necessarily for the portents of its own domestic economy, but for the fact that it lay as a highway, if you will, of the otherwise disconnected Habsburg crownlands along French-Holy Roman Empire border and the ancestral lands of Austria.

During Easter, 1486, the Duchy of Württemberg surrendered its independent status within the Holy Roman Empire to become part of the Habsburg Monarchy. Although Duke George Frederick retained a degree of local autonomy – for example, he remained the de facto noble of power and retained his estate, but the de jure title of Duke of Württemberg was passed to Maximilian. For Maximilian, the incorporation of a Holy Roman state through diplomatic marriage was much more acceptable than by war. In fact, Maximilian attempted to keep order and stability within the empire during his reign. Often warning and sending forceful threats to the more belligerent princes within the realm forbidding them of territorial conquests (unless you were doing it through marriage and diplomacy).

It was during this time that Maximilian’s full title was: Maximilian I, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, etc. Archduke of Austria, Duke of Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Württemberg, and Count of Tyrol and Istria, etc. etc.

The incorporation of Württemberg, and earlier Lorraine, can also have been motivated in reaction to the conquest of Metz and Barrois, a northern province of the Duchy of Lorraine and the Kingdom of Provence respectively, by the Burgundian King Charles the Rash, which brought about a contiguous stretch of land held the Duke of Burgundy, who promptly – without concern for the potential political fallout from the Holy Roman Empire, declared himself King of Burgundy earning scorn and resentment from the French and German nobility. The bold and purely political elevation of the Duchy of Burgundy to Kingdom was something that the conservative aristocracies of France and the Holy Roman Empire saw as a sort of heresy – a direct affront to the divine order of the cosmos instituted by God himself. This would prompt the Kingdom of France, led by Louis XI to declare war on the cadet Valois rulers of Burgundy to put them back in their place.[2] In the eyes of the conservative aristocrats of Europe, dukes were dukes and could not self-elevate themselves to be kings in the manner that Charles I did – the more legitimate means would have been through marriage to a kingly family and inheriting that throne, but a duchy would always remain a duchy. For some, this was clearly could lead a de-stabilizing effect upon France and the Holy Roman Empire. The Habsburgs and Valois both had reasons to fear that their junior nobles: the many counts and dukes within their realms, may follow this precedence and elevate themselves to higher aristocratic ranks.


The integration of Württemberg, which was seen as part of being the "new crownlands" of the ever growing Habsburg Monarchy.

But unlike France, which went to war with Burgundy again, and would emerge victorious in a bloody conflict but ultimately fail in its goals, the Habsburgs consolidated the western boundaries once more with the acquisition of the Duchies of Lorraine and Württemberg as permanent crownlands of the Habsburg Monarchy. Furthermore, the Army of Germany was increased in size, in response to the re-emerging threat of Burgundy. Despite Burgundy stylizing itself as a kingdom, Maximilian refused to acknowledge it as such. Seeing the Duchy of Burgundy as rightfully being part of the Holy Roman Empire, and it was, he always referred to “King” Charles I as “Madam Duke” as a derogatory epithet to the upstart Burgundian King.

More importantly however, one should clearly see a trend in Habsburg policy emerging from Frederick III and Maximilian I – diplomacy would be the ultimate weapon wielded by the Habsburgs throughout their history. The constant tangling of alliances, marriages, and artful craft of diplomacy would – in many ways, be the Habsburgs ultimate key to their success. Not so much in that they had made friends across Europe, but had convinced others that it was in their best interests to have a strong and stable Habsburg Monarchy as the continental balance against France, Spain, or even the Ottoman Empire. As far as the Habsburgs, their court ministers and diplomats were concerned, they would have agreed with the statement, “The pen is mightier than the sword, but the sword can be just as useful as the pen under a given circumstance.” Indeed, as we shall see in the forthcoming chapter, it was the tactful Austrian diplomacy that would inevitably lead to the German Wars which plagued much of Germany.




[1]In-game date for the fall of Constantinople and the destruction of the Byzantine Empire, as opposed to the 1453 date of OTL.

[2]The House of Valois had cadet branches in Burgundy and Spain (Aragon and Castile). The House of Burgundy was the cadet branch of the House of Valois until its extinction (which caused the historic Burgundian Succession Crisis as France (the Valois) and the Habsburgs (rulers of the Holy Roman Empire, which Burgundy was considered a part of in the eyes of the emperor) both claimed inheritance rights. Most of the land passed to the Habsburgs, with some concessions to the Valois. The House of Trastamara was the illegitimate cadet branch of the House of Burgundy, and therefore, an illegitimate branch of the Valois Family by blood lineage. Some scholars speculate this was part of the historic animosity between the later House of Bourbon (France) and the House of Habsburg (Spain and Austria) and the resulting rivalry from the sixteenth century until the middle of the eighteenth.
 
Last edited:

Enewald

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You still hold the ancestral lands of Aargau and Sundgau? Freiburg? Map time? :p
 

volksmarschall

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You still hold the ancestral lands of Aargau and Sundgau? Freiburg? Map time? :p
All the integral lands are still under Habsburg control, and there is a planned map at the end of Chapter 2, the German Wars. Don't get too far ahead of yourself Enewald, I may have a few more screenshots than normal, but that' doesn't mean the typical artful style is going to be replaced! :p
 

GulMacet

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Excellent, expansion in German-speaking lands instead of acquiring that ethnic and religious mishmash that is the Balkans is what the Habsburgs should have done in the first place - and I am glad you are doing it! And smash Venice, those meddling merchants and their Fourth Crusade are directly responsible for the Greeks failing to be the barrier between Christendom and the Heathen Turkish Hordes. They must be destroyed!
 

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This is a thoroughly captivating read, volksmarschall. I have had no trouble following everything.

It was during this time that Maximilian’s full title was: Maximilian I, by the grace of God elected Holy Roman Emperor, forever August, King of Germany, of Hungary, Dalmatia, Croatia, etc. Archduke of Austria, Duke of Lorraine, Styria, Carinthia, Carniola, and Württemberg, and Count of Tyrol and Istria, etc. etc.
You're so modest, Maximilian. :rolleyes:

This would likely be a mean question to ask on a test:

"Recite Maximilian’s full title from memory."
 

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In the back of my mind I cannot help but think, with all these marriages, that some marriages are rather, shall we say, loud and argumentative? I have to smile thinking of a family quarrel on the HRE stage. ;)
 

volksmarschall

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Excellent, expansion in German-speaking lands instead of acquiring that ethnic and religious mishmash that is the Balkans is what the Habsburgs should have done in the first place - and I am glad you are doing it! And smash Venice, those meddling merchants and their Fourth Crusade are directly responsible for the Greeks failing to be the barrier between Christendom and the Heathen Turkish Hordes. They must be destroyed!
Venice chose the wrong side in the Second Italian War...

...although, a huge Turkish presence on my southern border, especially as I'm embroiled in continental conflicts, and since they have me as a rival, is the least bit comforting. Driving them back to Asia Minor would make that southern border more befitting of security, although I have little intention of doing so, also because they have 99 ships according to the ledger, and I have 10! :p

This is a thoroughly captivating read, volksmarschall. I have had no trouble following everything.

You're so modest, Maximilian. :rolleyes:

This would likely be a mean question to ask on a test:

"Recite Maximilian’s full title from memory."
Not even I remember all the titles of the Habsburg rulers... :glare: Just wait until we get into the middle of the sixteenth century and the titles keep on growing! :eek:

And yes, while this work will arguably be just as long (or longer, hopefully -- I might turn this into a "megacampaign" if you will, with "Fall" of the House of Habsburg in Victoria 2 or maybe 3, depending on how long this takes and my general mood to keep a linear AAR history on the Habsburgs) than Decline and Fall, the more basic prose and a generally linear line of history should hopefully be a bit easier read than the prose intensive and narrative-esque flow of D&F.

In the back of my mind I cannot help but think, with all these marriages, that some marriages are rather, shall we say, loud and argumentative? I have to smile thinking of a family quarrel on the HRE stage. ;)
Wait until I get dragged into conflicts with my Habsburg family members calling for my aid against giant superpowers at inopportune times! :ninja:

"We're related so, you [me] can't really refuse..."
 

Dr.Livingstone

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Idhrendur

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All the integral lands are still under Habsburg control, and there is a planned map at the end of Chapter 2, the German Wars. Don't get too far ahead of yourself Enewald, I may have a few more screenshots than normal, but that' doesn't mean the typical artful style is going to be replaced! :p
The one helpful thing for me would have been to place the integration of Wurttemberg popup over Wurttemberg itself. I couldn't remember just exactly where it is, but I know it's not in northern Italy!
 

volksmarschall

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Man, I get that all the time at family reunions! :p
That x10 for the Habsburg Family reunions with half of Europe in attendance... :p

The one helpful thing for me would have been to place the integration of Wurttemberg popup over Wurttemberg itself. I couldn't remember just exactly where it is, but I know it's not in northern Italy!
Yeah, I probably should've done that. It's in Southern Germany. I was obviously busy doing something in Northern Italy when the event popped up and just to the screenshot as a reminder of the date which it occurred (which is the majority of my screenshots of events and random stuff that I don't necessarily take detailed notes with in my notebook for). Although, in 4 updates, as we get through all the German Wars up to through the end of the fifteenth century, I have a screenshot of Austria planned for the end of the chapter. ;)
 

Idhrendur

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Yeah, I probably should've done that. It's in Southern Germany. I was obviously busy doing something in Northern Italy when the event popped up and just to the screenshot as a reminder of the date which it occurred (which is the majority of my screenshots of events and random stuff that I don't necessarily take detailed notes with in my notebook for). Although, in 4 updates, as we get through all the German Wars up to through the end of the fifteenth century, I have a screenshot of Austria planned for the end of the chapter. ;)
Immediately after writing my statement above, I googled it, then facepalmed as I realized I should have remembered it from endless Vicky 2 Prussian starts. Ah well!
 

volksmarschall

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Chapter II: The German Wars

Slingers and archers directing their art against Christians, are anathematized.
-The Canons of the Second Lateran Council, 1123.[1]



The German Wars were a deadly series of conflicts, six in total, from 1450-1492, in which the states and major powers within the Holy Roman Empire were in conflict with one another. Although it was not as grand, or as deadly as the Italian Wars (1503-1555) between Austria and France, a most peculiar conflict that was the German Wars nonetheless laid the cornerstones upon which the future Habsburg Monarchy would be built, with their titanic struggle with France only consummating these stones (even if France emerged as the long-run victors in those conflicts) The sixth and final war, between Burgundy and Austria, is generally considered to be a separate conflict, although it can tied to the First German War and to the larger scope of the German Wars altogether. I have decided to include that conflict in this chapter concerning the German Wars. I alluded to the Second German War in Chapter 1, and it is here, in this section covering the German Wars which is crucial in the centralization of the Habsburg lands, where I will cover the second and fifth German Wars – which are important to the history of the Habsburgs (I will briefly cover the third and fourth German Wars, which are otherwise not too important to this history since the Habsburgs did not take part in them).

The Second German has its roots in the Wittelsbach bid for mastery of Southern Germany. The adjacent German principalities looked to Bohemia and Austria for protection against future Bavarian aggression. Augsburg had fallen earlier without much protest from the greater Holy Roman Empire, and Bavarian expansionism had crippled the Bishopric of Würzburg, who was leadings in forming a defensive alliance between the minor German provinces: Ulm, Archbishopric of Salzburg, and themselves. Rather than reaching out to the Habsburgs in Vienna for their direct protection, they extended their defensive hand to the Podebrad Dynasty in Bohemia.

The Bohemian Podebrad’s were a unique dynasty of kings in Bohemia. They officially followed the teachings of Jan Hus, a fourteenth and early fifteenth century proto-Protestant Reformer. More importantly however, the Podebrad’s saw the rising power of the Wittelsbach in Bavaria as more a danger to their regional ambitions than the Habsburgs did – who could easily have lifted up their finger and squashed the Wittelsbach if they so desired (as evidenced by this war). In reaction to the developments along their borders, and in the lands that Duke John IV thought rightfully belonged to him formed a counter-alliance with Poland-Lithuania, a major power in Eastern Europe that lay on the borders of Bohemia and Habsburg Hungary. Believing that the Bohemians would not intervene with the prospects of an invasion of 20,000 Poles, John invaded Ulm. The Bohemians, surprisingly, marched out to prevent the conquest of Ulm, and the regional conflict with its lines drawn: Bohemia, Würzburg, Ulm and Salzburg on one end, and Bavaria, Poland-Lithuania, and Saxony on the other, prompted panic in the Habsburg Court and Viktor Steinegger used his power to bring Austria to intervene in the conflict.


Left, a portrait of the aging Viktor Steinegger. Right, a portrait of Duke Johann (John) IV of Bavaria. An otherwise largely inefficient ruler, he did bring Bavaria to the height of its power during the late medieval age and early Renaissance.

Viktor Steinegger rushed into the imperial halls to alert the boy emperor that Austria was being dragged into the conflict (in part, Steinegger, who wielded the true power during Maximilian’s Regency, sometimes remembered as the Steinegger Regency by some historians, acted in accordance with the philosophy of his predecessor Frederick III). The entry of the Habsburgs into the conflict titled the war in favor of the anti-Wittelsbach coalition, in which the third and fourth German Wars were also fought to contain Bavarian hegemonic ambitions. In part, for Steinegger, allowing Wittelsbach hegemony in Southern Germany would create a constant and potent, albeit at times, manageable, threat in the form of the Duchy of Bavaria -- something that could not be permitted in his thinking.

During the German Wars, the Habsburgs devised a somewhat brilliant military logistical infrastructure, splitting the Imperial Army into three principle divisions: The German Front, the Hauptarmee (in Vienna) and the Italian Front. Each would be responsible for responding to immediate threats nearest to them. Archduke Johan Karl, commanding the German Army, immediately marched to Ulm to defend the castle and city from Bavarian attack. Of course, the Bavarians were ill-informed, still believing that the Habsburgs, who had not intervened in their conquests of Augsburg, Ansbach, and parts of Würzburg, would remain sidelined during the conflict.

When the Bavarian forces reached Ulm, rather than severely outnumbering the enemy, as they expected, they were slightly outnumbered with the arrival of 9,000 Austrian soldiers under Johan Karl, who turned the numbers against the Bavarian-Saxon army that had marched to Ulm in hopes of a quick and easy conquest. During the battle, the Bavarians lost some 10,000 men and were broken from the field – the Bavarian army was no longer a threat a major threat for the rest of the war, although they did bring forth a serious concentration of the minor powers to pursue and contain them from linking up with the Polish armies marching through Bohemia.

Still fearing the unification of the Bavarian and Polish troops, Viktor Steinegger personally marched with the Hauptarmee into central Bohemia, where, near the city of Prague, they intercepted King Kazimierz Jageillon. The Poles, who, being an eastern power with controlling open plains and vast territories of land – were expert horsemen and skilled in the art of quick mobile warfare. Kazimierz expected the Habsburg Army to shatter under the weight of his knights, but the Free Companies and their halberd infantry, who were placed at the front of the army, halted the Polish charge. The decision was practical on the part of Steinegger, who bluntly said, “Dead mercenaries don’t require pay.” The two early victories changed the dynamic of the entire war, and was the first and last time, that Graf Steinegger would personally command an army during his tenure of service with the Habsburgs.


The early phase of the war went exceptionally well for the Imperial cause. Defending Ulm and preventing the unification of the Bavarian-Polish allies aided the war effort tremendously, especially after the setback at Cosel (see below).

Archduke Karl Johan rushed to the Hauptarmee in Bohemia to take command of the pursuit of the fleeing Poles. Near the village of Cosel, the Poles abruptly turned about to meet their Habsburg pursuers. The Poles numbered about 12,000 men compared to 17,000 for Johan Karl. However, a hidden force of about 2,000 knights, in the nearby forests, was undetected by the Austrians. When the infantry bodies closed in for combat, the Polish knights unleashed their traps. In shining armor, a grand display for all to see, and hoping for a repeat of their victory at Grunwald over the Teutonic Order (the First Battle of Tannenberg), the knights raced forth at full gallop and shattered Johan Karl’s lines. In the blink of an eye, the Habsburg army furled up like a rug and fled the field. Suffering over 5,000 casualties in less than an hour, Johan Karl had no choice but to flee in defeat.

The defeat of the Hauptarmee in eastern Bohemia was major setback for the Imperial cause. Archduke Johan Karl's losses at the battle also highlighted his failures as a commander. Despite being a member of the Habsburg family, which younger members of the family despite their age and experience could not be refused military posts if requested, and despite being a hero of the Hungarian War of Unification -- he was clearly too aged to be an effective commander on the field any longer. Even his victory at Ulm was costly. He was persuaded to retire with all the honors and glories of past campaigns, and was personally exempted from responsibility of the defeat by Steinegger acting on the authority of the too young Maximilian (Johan Karl's nephew).




Above, the Battle of Ulm, where the Imperial Army repulsed the Bavarian invasion and dealt a severe check upon the Wittelsbach army and their plans in the region. Below, the Battle of Cosel, where the Polish Army reversed its loss at Prague and dealt a major blow to the Imperial forces. Archduke Johan Karl von Habsburg was relieved of command after the defeat of the Hauptarmee.

This defeated prompted Ulrich Arenburg, a German prince from Holstein in the service of the Habsburgs in Austria, to encircle the remaining Bavarian forces at Memmingen to ensure the salvation of the early victories. While another Habsburg army moved into Bohemia to prevent the feared unification of the Bavarian-Polish forces, Arenburg decided to take the fight to the Bavarians before his forces were ready. He was criticized by his subordinates for rushing the battle, but Arenburg declared that a decisive victory would bring an end to the war and atone for Johan Karl’s defeat. On March 29, 1474 the Battle of Memmingen was a bloodbath for both sides. Despite superior numbers, the Habsburg general’s rush to the battle ensured the military advantage, defensively that is, rested with the Bavarians who inflicted heavy casualties upon the disorganized attackers. However, the weight of numbers finally prevailed. About 7,500 Austrian and German soldiers were killed and wounded to about 10,000 Bavarians and their allies – which ended the hope of Bavarian war effort.

The final defeat of the Bavarians allowed for the Poles to realize the war was lost despite their victory at Cosel. By May, the two sides were brought to the negotiation tables in Prague, where Bavaria relinquished its hegemonic ambition and forced to rescind its alliance with Poland. This was nothing but a slap on the finger, and Viktor Steinegger left disappointed that the Bohemians, who insisted on taking lead in the peace talks, would let Bavaria go relatively unpunished. Steinegger left, writing a note to the Bohemian Court, “This will not stop Wittelsbach hopes for dominating Southern Germany. You will be at war with one another in five years, mark my words.” He was almost right. The Third German War broke out in 1480 when Bavaria again assaulted Ulm, and Bohemia again came to the defense of the anti-Wittelsbach League. However, the Habsburgs remained on the sideline, rather insisting to watch the bloody conflict between their rival (the Wittelsbach) and their friendly rival (the Podebrads, although an ally, remained as a potential threat among the nobles in the Holy Roman Empire to topple Habsburg hegemony over the ancient order). The Third German War ended with Bohemia containing Bavaria, but nothing more. The Fourth War was fought from 1487-1489, and Bavaria, allying with Poland once more, put up a more serious fight, and managed to break a rift between Habsburg-Podebrad relationships), ultimately leading to the Fifth German War between Habsburg Austria and Hungary against Bohemia.




[1]This is the historical church council, with a direction quote, Canon 29, which forbade the use of bows, arrows, slings, and crossbows. The Second Lateran Council also created the celibate priesthood, which does not date back to the founding of the Catholic Church, as some would believe – this was Canon 6. You can find the full text of the council online if interested.
 
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Enewald

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Well, you need to become Herzog von Bayern to end the Wittelsbacher ambitions. Und König von Böhmen! :p

5 years before the next war, the general was a true medium. :D