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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

volksmarschall

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Instead of the Turkish menace, the Austrians will now form an empire in fear of the French? Well-played, volksmarschall, well-played.
;) Although I like to follow a form of historicity when conducting AARs and their associated play thrus per the game, convenient re-writes are always permissible. That, and I sort of integrated Hungary during the Second Italian War, and I wanted direct control over Hungary's modest size army, instead of hoping that the Hungarian AI would join me in battle, instead of sitting in the adjacent province with 12,000 or so men...

Bits and pieces of the modern world begin to take shape.

Also, the scale of those wars sounds terrible.
I really screwed myself over in the sixteenth century. I think the longest stretch of peace was between the Second and Third Italian War, on average, probably only a few years of peace before I was embroiled in another conflict. I don't think my manpower ever recovered to over 50,000 (I think I'm sitting around 90,000 in total). I'm pretty sure I took out at least a dozen loans during the Italian Wars and the aforementioned, and still to be covered, 40 Years' War. I had a huge mercenary army to offset the manpower issues, but then they just cost so much money! The joy of being Austria, and the the emperor, who was desperately making sure the prince-electors always favored me instead of a Protestant rival.

Need a secret weapon :ninja:
I need more than a secret weapon. Maybe like 500,000 manpower with another 25% morale bonus to my armies and I think the BBB and I will be on level terms! :p

The amount of Turks in the Balkans is TOO DAMN HIGH!
Luckily, I only encounter the Turks once in the sixteenth century, as part of the 40 Years' War (or I'll write it up as such). The seventeenth century, already by 1601, now that's a different story about Austrians vs. Turks for the Balkans, Southern Hungary, and Transylvania... :confused:

Francia delenda est
I think containment is the only feasible plan. Destroying France is just unfeasible. As it stands, I'm barely able to defeat them, again, they have a +10% discipline and +0.6 morale advantage over my armies (well, +5 in discipline only because for much of the 40 years' war, I had that discipline adviser in military), and there's already an anti-French triune between Habsburg Austria and the HRE and associated allies and vassals, Burgundy, we'll revisit them later in the AAR (hint, a Habsburg is now on the throne), Spain, and England! And France is still colonizing in North America and not being punished with any loss of land. I keep checking the ledger, I get down to less than 1000 men and France still has like 30,000 men still fresh in their reserves! :eek:

Oh, and we are on the same military tech level. It's the fact that France gets good military national ideas on its own, the Elan! (+20% morale I think), has the manpower national bonus, completed offensive ideas, is working on defensive ideas, already getting the defensive moral bonus, gets the bonus discipline upon completing her national ideas, while the only military idea I have (completed) is defensive, because I need diplomatic and influence ideas to keep my hegemony over the HRE! :cool: I think the other national idea I have is Administrative, I'm pretty sure I need to check on that. Don't even know what idea groups I selected! :eek:o
 

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Yeah...it is sad that a real diplomatic game is just impossible. Since DDRJake's Foix run and the huge malus to Great Power alliances (where the heck did that one come from?!) it is impossible to really play a game of alliances and containment. If you get more than one big ally (like I did with Muscovy and England or Austria and England), one of them is usually much weaker than normally. The need to set rivals doesn't help, either.

...Which is a real shame, looking at the history of Austria being one of the main political actors of the time and having been rescued from the Turks by big, last-minute alliances twice!
 

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What does Hungary really provide in this relationship? That is to say, who is wearing the pants in the Austro-Hungarian family? (I'm tempted to say nobody)
:p
 

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Yeah...it is sad that a real diplomatic game is just impossible. Since DDRJake's Foix run and the huge malus to Great Power alliances (where the heck did that one come from?!) it is impossible to really play a game of alliances and containment. If you get more than one big ally (like I did with Muscovy and England or Austria and England), one of them is usually much weaker than normally. The need to set rivals doesn't help, either.

...Which is a real shame, looking at the history of Austria being one of the main political actors of the time and having been rescued from the Turks by big, last-minute alliances twice!
I know! Granted, at least there is some diplomatic game theory involved in EU4 compared to the Total War series, I own all the titles dating back to the original Shogun and Medieval, but Rome II utterly sucked, aside finished... but I've always wished for a game that had a strong diplomacy element to it. Granted, these games are all based on, let's admit it, conquest, the need for diplomacy, peace, and shifting alliances is something that makes the study of history admittedly from my perspective, far more interesting. And since I try to conduct AARs with some sense of resembling historicity, I'll be trying to recreate this. But, as you've mentioned, it can only go too far before the "Too many Great Power" allies negative kicks in. While France is rivaled with Spain, England, and me, I'm only allied with Spain (even if I have a +60 positive relationship with England). In reality, its really just me and all my vassals and allies, of which the most important is Burgundy and another nation that doesn't start in 1444, but I don't want to give the spoiler for that, fighting to contain French ambitions in the Lowlands and possibly the Rhine.

Even so, especially with the 40 Years' War to be coming down the road, I'm going to try and add a flavor of diplomacy and peace and alliance politics that is generally absent from the game mechanics but I otherwise can't pass up in writing! BTW, you might be both pleased and unhappy with the direction that Saxony takes in the second half of the sixteenth century! ;)

What does Hungary really provide in this relationship? That is to say, who is wearing the pants in the Austro-Hungarian family? (I'm tempted to say nobody)
:p
I wanted their men, their money, and to make the borders of Austria look a bit nicer than they would with just Austria or Bohemia and some German territories I decided to add for the purpose of alt history! :p Really, I wanted their army under my direct control of the war to help fight the French! As you'll soon find out, I was really in a dangerous predicament at the end of 1511...
 

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Map 1.1: Italy on the eve of the Italian Wars, 1510.
I'm so used to seeing Italy be green in HOI that seeing Italy here as a balkanized mass of colors is strange to me. Is the entire game like this?
 

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I'm so used to seeing Italy be green in HOI that seeing Italy here as a balkanized mass of colors is strange to me. Is the entire game like this?
Italy will take shape after the wars end, and the lesser states are basically easy prey to the larger Italian states. AI forming Italy is extremely unlikely, at least, I've never personally seen that happen in any of my campaigns. So for much of the EU4 time frame, yeah, Italy is pretty disjointed like it was historically.
 

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I guess their provinces are just too valuable - there is always someone bigger (and with an "Italian Ambitions" mission) after them.

I still remember a game in EU3 where I just formed Italy - and then Purple "France", my long-time (and only useful) ally, got that mission. And declared right away. I could keep them out for one war. For two wars. But I had to cancel their mission manually or they would have murdered me with their hands tied behind their backs in the next one.

And I guess this is what happens in these games, too. Get a little bit too mighty (as the AI) and everybody's grandma is after your ass.

...Which is nice for you, since you don't need to invest time and thought into Italy's well-being during your AAR.
 

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I guess their provinces are just too valuable - there is always someone bigger (and with an "Italian Ambitions" mission) after them.

I still remember a game in EU3 where I just formed Italy - and then Purple "France", my long-time (and only useful) ally, got that mission. And declared right away. I could keep them out for one war. For two wars. But I had to cancel their mission manually or they would have murdered me with their hands tied behind their backs in the next one.

And I guess this is what happens in these games, too. Get a little bit too mighty (as the AI) and everybody's grandma is after your ass.

...Which is nice for you, since you don't need to invest time and thought into Italy's well-being during your AAR.
France is, legitimately in my eyes, the only nation that the AI can be potent with and truly risks beating a human player of a moderately to powerful state, especially if one gets extremely unlucky in a string of battles in a row. Plus, I prefer to play with "historical lucky nations" on since I hope it gives the AI an added boost. Naturally, while I have no gripes stomping the AI in all my campaigns except those I'm going to do an AAR out of -- when taking a game and making an AAR, the historian inside me goes, "400 years of domination, that's just not right..."

It often happens that, in my games forming the Netherlands, France and I fallout after I form the NL and Burgundy has been erased or just holds a few provinces left. Everybody loves the BBB! :p

How is the Reformation going? Or went?
It went extremely well for the Protestants and Calvinists, and therefore, not so well for me as the Habsburgs, leaders of the Counter Reformation, and Defenders of the Faith! :eek:
 

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Chapter 4

Although it may seem odd that I skip the First Italian War, fought 1503-1505 in which Ferrera was added as part of the Habsburg crownlands, I do so because that conflict was small in scale to the Second, Third, and Fourth Italian Wars which pitted France against Austria and the Holy Roman Empire. The Second Italian War, fought from 1511-1515/1516, as I’ve already mentioned, is the war in which Habsburg unity was created in the midst of chaos and the fear of a sudden collapse of their military forces in Northern Italy less than six months into the war with France as the stunning French victories expelled the Imperial armies from the Italian states.

The war has its origins in 1510, when Emperor Matthew I sought to wrestle control of Northern Italy from Milan and Venice, using the pretext of the Kingdom of Provence’s annexation of the city-state of Genoa, part of the Holy Roman, as a cause for imperial liberation. Both the Duchy of Milan and Republic of Venice were allied with Provence, seeing them on more amiable terms than their Italian rivals in Genoa, which had sought Habsburg protection after being expelled from the Crimea and having lost Corsica. Maneuvers were already abounding, and the Habsburg forces were gathering along the border to launch their invasion of Northern Italy, more with intention of conquering the northern Italian territories rather than freeing Genoa.

In addition, Matthew claimed, by his blood to be the rightful Duke of Milan following the collapse of the Duchy under Filippo Maria, the brief Ambrosian Republican period that followed, then restoration of the Duchy by the Spinola family as being illegitimate, jettisoning the legitimacy for war back to the old marriages of Frederick III. The Duke of Milan, Francesco I, scoffed at such assertions. Ever since the conquest of Ferrera, the Northern Italian states had been weary of prospective aggression against them by the Habsburgs, and formed the anti-Habsburg alliance between Venice, the most powerful Italian state, Milan, one of the wealthier Italian states, Naples, the largest Italian Kingdom that was independent of the Holy Roman Empire, and with the Kingdom of Provence – in part because they were rivals with Genoa, a staunchly pro-Habsburg Italian state. Matthew was unaware of this “secret” coalition against him. In September of 1510, Matthew marched out of Ferrera and planned to march his 20,000 strong army into Milan and proclaim himself Duke with the blessings of Pope Julius II.[1]

At first, the invasion, if one can call it that, went smoothly. There was little resistance, and the anti-Habsburg alliance had not coalesced yet, nor even decided to confront the ambitious emperor and his dreams of Italian hegemony. When Matthew and his forces crossed the River Po at Mantua, he embarked along its banks to Cremona. Moving like lightning, he devastated the countryside behind him and entered Cremona on 3 October, 1510, to open arms and great celebrations of the mostly loyal subjects of the city who saw his triumphant entry into the city akin to the old Caesaric triumphs of old. For one week, his men ravished the city, taking advantage of the inns, the innkeepers, and the “hospitality of the city.” Several men of minor nobility even took prostitutes as their “wives.” On 12 October, he left Cremona and marched north to Milan – where expected to crush any opposition that might materialize.

Matthew had split his force into two wings, one marching up along the River Adda, and the second force, himself commanding, marching up to Milan from the western slopes. He had divided the armies into two groups – his command with the larger contingent and the second under Count Leopold Wilhelm Meinl, the aging but still graceful commander of Matthew’s father – Maximilian. South of the town of Lodi, at Socino Castle, the seat of the famous Milanese Sforza Family, who were staunchly loyal to the Spinola Duchy, resisted the Imperial advance. Count Meinl positioned himself against the castle and its 3,000 defenders.

He had been instructed by Matthew to attempt to conquer Milan peacefully, adding to the legitimacy of their claims and political prospects. As a result, he offered terms of surrender to the castle on 18 October, but the Sforzas refused. Francesco Sforza, commanding the Milanese loyalists, rebuked Meinl’s offer, “Take you and your men, and your barbarian of an emperor back across the Alps where they belong! May you leave our homes and women alone, free of the taint and corrupting nature of your filthy hands.”

Needless to say, Meinl was not enthused by his afforded response. He positioned his 9 cannons to bombard the castle into submission. After two days of bombardment, the castle surrendered and Meinl arrested Francesco Sforza and the survivors, who were then held as prisoners in Rome until the end of the war. When the Habsburg forces reached Lodi, the town refused to open its gates, having heard the news of how the “liberators” treated their “liberated” at Cremona. Meinl was again less the enthused by the lack of cooperation. His artillery shattered the walls of the town and his army swept the population of the city away into the countryside.

It was becoming clear for Franceso that he was about to lose his duchy, and two days before Matthew would arrive at the city of Milan, he fled across the Alps where he would take audience before the French King Louis XIII. On 29 October, Matthew arrived outside the gates of Milan. Most of the city was deserted, and his men tore down the gates and he entered the city and promptly crowned himself the Duke of Milan. For next month, stopping only with the beginning of the Advent (Christmas) season in the Catholic calendar, his men looted the city and took as much liberty with those unlucky inhabitants as they pleased.


The Imperial army, outside the gates of Milan, October 1510.

The actions of Matthew and his soldiers, in part, because mainly the soldiers were Italians, appalled Doge Jocopo Toscani of Venice, he boarded a ship and fled to Naples expecting Venice to be the next city that Matthew would target. While in Naples, he cemented the anti-Habsburg alliance with Ferdinand II of Naples. Back in France, Duke Francesco took his petitions to the French king. Louis XIII, who was slowly building the most dominant kingdom in Europe, did not hesitate in jumping at the option of helping the Italians throw off the shackles of Habsburg rule and corruption.

Meanwhile, Matthew returned to Vienna to be officially received as the Duke of Milan. During his absence, Count Meinl lost control of the soldiers and they once again began to ransack the city and the countryside. Italian women, in particular, fled from the city and countryside in terror at the actions of the “barbarous” and “uncivilized” Germans. In March, 1511, Louis XIII had quietly gathered his armies with Duke Francesco and began his glorious crossing the Alps. Observers reported the young king, just 19 at the time, leading the troops from the head of the columns. Machiavelli, the famed Renaissance political theorist, who was travelling with Duke Francesco, described the event:

“It was the most splendid sight to see. Louis was the true embodiment of the human soul, a lofty man of high aspirations and spirit that could not be tamed. He even led his army from the dangerous position at the head of his infantry columns through the small Alpine passes. Surely, this is what it must have been like to watch Hannibal cross over the Alps during his invasion of Italy a millennia and half ago. The King was such a charming, striking, and charismatic figure – far more than the beast of Satan himself, the emperor Matthew. Louis stood over the Alps like a phoenix, a sight for the world to behold in his magnificence – a splendid creature and a wonderful soul if there ever was one.”

While Louis XIII crossed the Alps, a second French army, under the command of the Duke Jules de la Porte, crossed the Rhine and was preparing an invasion of Germany. Matthew got wind of this, and realized his bid to capture Milan peacefully had failed. He wrote to Meinl in Milan, “The French are crossing the Rhine, in a bid to stop my ascension to the throne of Milan. I will meet these dogs and turn them back, and end the war in one swift move.”

Unfortunately for Matthew, he had not been made aware of the large French army crossing the Alps with Louis, and when he met De la Porte at Lake Constance, just north of Switzerland he would encounter an equally viable and large French contingent, much to his surprise. On 13 May, Matthew’s men were shocked to find the French army already across the Rhine in force. The Battle of Lake Constance was an unmitigated disaster for the Imperial Army. Losing over 6,000 men, to less than 2,000 Frenchmen, Matthew fled back to Austria like a whipped dog. At the same time, Leopold Meinl got word of the French Army, along with the Italian allies, crossing the Italian Alps. Averting disaster, Meinl abandoned Milan and was marching back to Istria to await the arrival of the Hungarian soldiers to bolster his forces. On 19 May, the French and their Italian allies re-entered the Milan, only to find the horrors of the Austrian occupation.


Left, a painting depicting the decisive French victory at the Battle of Lake Constance, same painting as used before. Right, King Louis of France enters Milan as its liberator and proclaims himself Rex Italiae, titular King of Italy in the wake of his triumph.

For the French and their Italian allies however, the possession of the French artillery, the most modern and powerful in the world, was a major advantage. Not to mention, the inclusion of the Swiss Mercenaries, some of the most feared soldiers in Europe at the time, gave the anti-Habsburg alliance a major battlefield advantage. Unlike the Habsburg commanders, who were aging and only competent, at best, the French commanders were at the helm of the military revolution of using artillery and firearms in tandem with their knights to great effectiveness on the battlefield – as evidenced by De la Porte’s trouncing of Emperor Matthew at Lake Constance. To compound matters even worse, when Emperor Matthew attempted to halt the French advance south through the Austrian Alps, he lost another battle at Leinz, which was promptly occupied by the French army. The Second Italian War had begun.





[1]As a result of the turmoil that has befallen Milan, from duchy (monarchy) to republic back to duchy (monarchy), with an heir of low legitimacy and with my royal marriage connections – I decided to “Claim the throne.” This serves as the basis for the entry of the Italian Wars, which properly begins as a “War of Intervention” when I declared war on Provence, who is occupying Genoa. They were allied with Venice and Milan, the two states that have the provinces for the “Our Claims on Northern Italy” mission, which I selected before the declaration of war. The idea was – I would roll over Provence, and get the three Italian provinces I needed for the mission. Unfortunately for me, France got drawn into the war (they were not allied with Provence, but with Naples – who was also an ally of Provence and became the war leader before the entry of France, whom Naples must have called upon).
 
Last edited:

Nathan Madien

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23
Machiavelli, the famed Renaissance political theorist, who was travelling with Duke Francesco, described the event:

“It was the most splendid sight to see. Louis was the true embodiment of the human soul, a lofty man of high aspirations and spirit that could not be tamed. He even led his army from the dangerous position at the head of his infantry columns through the small Alpine passes. Surely, this is what it must have been like to watch Hannibal cross over the Alps during his invasion of Italy a millennia and half ago. The King was such a charming, striking, and charismatic figure – far more than the beast of Satan himself, the emperor Matthew. Louis stood over the Alps like a phoenix, a sight for the world to behold in his magnificence – a splendid creature and a wonderful soul if there ever was one.”
If I didn't know any better, I would say this Machiavelli fellow is a rear end kisser.
 

GreatUberGeek

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Ooh! Machiavelli and Lake Constance? You do aim to please volksmarschall. :D What's your next moves?
 

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Still no Saxony...well, of course, they are lacking a capable "shadow minister". Heinrich V. would have made short process with such a weakened Austria...but I guess, they won't fare well in your game. Or create a big fleet. Or kill off Bavaria.

But please: At least hone their legacy!
 

Dr.Livingstone

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It seems to me as though there was a fair amount of upheaval, in both EUs timeline and our own, especially in the 15th-17th centuries (Peasant war, reformation, end of the black death, Ottoman succession war, 30 years war). I have heard several historians claim that this was caused in fact by the so-called "Little Ice Age", and was wondering your opinion on the matter. If this seems too irrelevant to the topic at hand, I apologize.
 

volksmarschall

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That sucks. Better luck next time. :laugh:
Perhaps in the other 3 wars we are still going to fight in Italy? :confused:

If I didn't know any better, I would say this Machiavelli fellow is a rear end kisser.
He has some very nice things to say about certain historical figures in his own writings anyway, so I'm not far off in thinking he would see the King of France, in coming to liberate the Italians from the menacing Habsburgs, as something too far fetched!

Ooh! Machiavelli and Lake Constance? You do aim to please volksmarschall. :D What's your next moves?
Winning! ;)

Still no Saxony...well, of course, they are lacking a capable "shadow minister". Heinrich V. would have made short process with such a weakened Austria...but I guess, they won't fare well in your game. Or create a big fleet. Or kill off Bavaria.

But please: At least hone their legacy!
It was well-played by them, and the German minors. Had they gotten any radical ideas, I would have very easily crushed them. Just because I had a few military setbacks, my army was still over 50,000 with additional reserves from vassals and allies. At this point in the game, Saxony still only had two provinces, they didn't expect until later in the sixteenth century -- and then we get into conflicts a bit later as you'll see. I may taken a severe setback in Italy if Bavaria or Saxony or Brandenburg got any ideas however, but we were still on very cordial terms -- expect Bavaria, who is a rival.

Big Blue Blob is out of control! :p
Francia delenda est! :p

It seems to me as though there was a fair amount of upheaval, in both EUs timeline and our own, especially in the 15th-17th centuries (Peasant war, reformation, end of the black death, Ottoman succession war, 30 years war). I have heard several historians claim that this was caused in fact by the so-called "Little Ice Age", and was wondering your opinion on the matter. If this seems too irrelevant to the topic at hand, I apologize.
As a historian, and from my historiographical background, I try to avoid laying a single cause as the catalyst for a chain of events. There's a lot of other things going on too. The most familiar argument of the Little Ice Age and its impact on history is with Sweden's March Across the Little Belt to defeat Denmark in the Second Northern War, and how the Little Ice Age distrupted agriculture production in France, one of the major reasons for food shortages and an angry populace leading to the French Revolution. Of course, there are a multitude of other facts for each event. I greatly dislike the one-size fits all policy in any mode of thinking since it discredits other events that are going on. Weather in history is a wild card. It may have certainly influenced certain outcomes, but it remains doubtful that one should say it definitely caused a chain of events, at least under modern methodological practices of doing history. Geography may be a better alternative than pure weather, cf. Jared Diamond Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997).
 

volksmarschall

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