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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Kensai7

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This is my second attempt to play the House of Zähringen of Baden, starting from the founding of Freiburg (1st of May, 1120) until I can survive the Medieval times and exit to Europa Universalis IV (if possible). You can read about my first attempt here. The reason I abandoned that game was incompatibilities introduced with the Rajas DLC and the expanded map. Since I just installed the Nomads too, I believe I will be safe enough for the next few months until I finish this game.

There is an importance difference though: this time around I will be playing at Ironman mode. If I fail, I am dead. Since I will be playing my head here, I won't be trying too extreme gambles here, apart from the necessary stuff to create the Duchy of Baden at my own pace, inside the Holy Roman Empire. I am not planing to become king of all or anything, after all.

This was my old post in the old AAR. It is still valid, I guess:

Hello everyone. :)



This is my AAR of the new campaign I am starting with the Zähringer Dynasty. The House of Zähringen was an illustrious medieval dynasty (it is even in the end game score comparison, fairly low) that dominated the Swabian region in the 11th and 12th century before continuing as the House of Baden. Since I live in Freiburg (and a neighborhood of the city called Zähringen) I find it rather cool I can play as them.

In real life the Zähringer of Freiburg died out with the main line of the family in 1218, but I plan to do better than that, establishing a dynasty of a small but respectable demesne. My starting date will be the 1st of May in 1120, to coincide more or less to the date of the founding of Freiburg. Actually the city was probably founded earlier, but at that point in time got permission to operate its market by the local lord, Konrad, the guy I will be playing at the beginning as pater familias of my dynasty.

I have two main goals:

  • survive the Medieval era until the Renaissance, outdoing the historical Zähringer who had their main line extinct
  • start as a nobody (a Count in the Holy Roman Empire at the height of the Investiture Controversy) and grow my demesne and territories until I can form the Duchy of Baden, having no one above me but the Emperor himself

If I manage to reach 1444 I will save the game and continue in Europa Universalis IV as an alternate reality Baden (with the descendants of the original Zähringer in place) trying to become the premium nation of the HRE. But that's story for an EU4 AAR that will come later.

It is important to note that I will not take unnecessary risks, I will play as if my head is at stake. I do not need to grow huge to achieve my goal (of survival), I just have to establish myself. This shall be an epic saga that starts in 1120 and finishes in early 19th century.

Can Baden become the premium nation of Germany?
 

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May 1, 1120

Konrad von Zähringen allows merchants of the area to settle a market by the river Dreisam, essentially founding the town of Freiburg. Historically something similar happened! :)
Although this Zähringen lord has also the county of Schwyz under his possession, he immediately decides to set Breisgau as his primary one and Freiburg as the capital of all his demesne. The idea is to be inside the borders of the Swabian duchy as well as control his first cousin, who own the county of Baden proper, further North. His sister's husband controls the country of Pfalz.

Freiburg was love at first sight! The perfect position for a castle to rule the area!



Schwyz is obviously still a Zähringen possession, but since our interests lie to the North, it might become secondary in role. The county of Breisgau is made of the castle of Freiburg, the city of Offenburg, and the bishopric of of Sankt Blasien.

 

Kensai7

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My councilors are already spread in the realm. Three of them stay in the new capital, Freiburg, but the Spymaster is building a spy network in my cousin's Baden and the Chancellor is trying to improve relations with my direct liege, the Duke of Swabia.



The best possible wife, as I see it now, is one of the many sisters of my Duke. Richilde has nice attributes! I need a woman that knows how to keep a household! ;)



This is my Council and the current situation in Western Europe.

 

Kensai7

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Thank you. To have some ideas how it will move on look at the original (abandoned AAR!) in my link in the first post. But this shall be much more interesting as I cannot reload. Whatever happens stays in Ironman mode! :p

May 1 - June 6, 1120

The Duke of Swabia was not amused with my idea of marrying his sister. Although he appreciates me as his Marshal, he thinks that I am of too low "prestige" to join the family. Konrad is not losing time though. There is another prestigious potential bride: the bastard daughter of the King of France himself: Louis the Fat! She has interesting attributes (including how to keep and thrive a household!) and I might get the help of the French King if needs arises, although no claims to his land (which I don't desire anyway).



Louis the Fat agrees that I marry his daughter, a nice prestige boost. The culture of France is strong nearby.



The year of our Lord 1120, Pope Callistus the II asks for a Crusade to get back Spain's Andalusia from the Arabs. The Muslims had asked for a similar Jihad to regain Jerusalem a few weeks ago. These are holy wars for bigger fish, I am not going to take part directly.

 
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1120-1122

The first year of our conscious rule passes relatively quietly, although by the end of it, Konrad decides to take family matters at hands. His older cousin must go. Although this is not the ideal solution, given he has to male sons, one which has just come of age, Konrad thinks is this best solution to unite the Badish territory. Once we have secured better relations with our liege, we will send the Chancellor to forge a casus belli too.

I am improving the city walls of Zürich as well. Although Schwytz won't be as important as Breisgau, it is still the half of my demesne.



Two years of marriage, a focus in "family life", finally Konrad starts seeing the beauty of Isabelle. And Isabelle responds positively. Konrad wants to father an heir!



Finally, two years into the marriage and the couple seems to get along enough (being in love after all!) for Konrad to get Isabelle pregnant! Crossing fingers for the child to be male so the line will be secure!

We started improving the church walls in Sankt Blasien, the most important church in Breisgau!



The House of Luxembourg feels that the administration of the Salian Holy Roman Empire is not ideal. He starts a revolution, but his plans go awry as few feudal lords join him. The English King comes to help the Kaiser Heinrich the IV. It won't go well for the Luxembourgish claimant!

 

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I look forward to seeing what you can do. Luxembourg's example is a pointed reminder that you shouldn't get ahead of yourself too much. :)
 

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1122-1123

Finally, Konrad's son has arrived! Although the game called him by default Konrad, I renamed him to Berthold in the screen after. Berthold as his grandfather!



I really can't believe it! Have you seen such an unlucky event? Konrad's wife, Isabelle, died from Pneumonia just a few days after fathering his first son! Wow. The medieval times were so harsh. :confused:



Konrad did not stay alone for long. He was already aware that there are women in lands away that are looking forward to marry. Unfortunately, all sisters of the Duke of Swabia have been married by now, thus we had to look beyond the Holy Roman Empire and its immediate neighbors. There is this Urraca, a woman from the De Sousa family in Portugal. The De Sousa are supposed to stem from the Goths, so we can consider them half-Germans.:rolleyes:

Konrad still wants to be a family man and Urraca has some very nice attributes. I love her honesty!



After improving my relations with my liege through my Chancellor, I send him to find and forge old claims for my cousin's lands. Hermann is moving away with his retinues to go help with a disturbance in Bohemia. If I had a casus belli by now I would have seized his lands without meeting serious resistance. Unfortunately, I cannot do it without a proper CB...

 

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1123

My sister, that snake, wants to kill my only son. Of course she is angry he now exists, otherwise she would have inherited on my death both counties!

You can also see I am working on my own cousin's demise too, but the plot power is really low at the moment. I have tried to see if there are Lords I can possibly persuade, I even sent some gifts, still Hermann is still much powerful and loved in his own little realm.



I should not take any risks with my Berthold. He should go in hiding until I deal with this external threat the best way I can. He is still a baby, after all, he won't understand this necessity.

I love it that Konrad's son has royal blood inside him, one of his grandfathers is the King of France himself! :cool:

 

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I love it that Konrad's son has royal blood inside him, one of his grandfathers is the King of France himself! :cool:
Well, maybe one day the von Zahringens could claim the Kingdom of France itself...maybe :p
 

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Well, she was an unrecognized bastard child and a woman, so all her claims are null. I guess the same goes for her descendants. :(

1123-1124

Although it does not interest us directly, it is good to know the Jihad has failed against Jerusalem. And here are the stats of my evil little sister (the youngest one is already dead). She is waiting for a child, so I presume this is why she wants to secure her lineage, especially if it is a boy! But she is a deceptive person.



Thankfully, after getting the message by my Spymaster and talking to her directly I convince her to stop what she is doing. Thus, I can pull my son Berthold out of the hiding. My spymaster, Hesso, also seems to find out scandals about a certain mayor (in Pforzheim), trying to make him lose favor in the eyes of my cousin Hermann in Baden.

 
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1125-1126

Urraca, Konrad's second wife from Portugal, brings him another healthy son: his name Baldewin! With Gavelkind it will mean he will take the second county of the von Zähringen territories, but it is not an issue at the moment.



Damn, Hesso, my Spymaster has been murdered by the orders of the man he had exposed, the Mayor of Pforzheim. I place a new Spymaster, not as good as my poor Hesso, but a necessary step cause he was not very fond of my Konrad anyway.



The previous revolt by the Lord of Luxembourg ended very soon, but another disturbance is in the horizon. It looks a bigger one, this time. The Duke of Savoy wants to lower further the crown authority of the Salian Emperor. A huge revolt is underway. Will the King of England join the fray on the Emperor's side as he did the last time?

By the way, the King of England is now also King of the Christian Spain through his current wife, Queen Urraca of Castille. A powerful couple!



My liege usually does not make mistakes, but this time he might have committed a big one. He joins the Holy Roman Civil War on the side of the Savoy. This might end up bad for him and it could be a huge opportunity for Konrad. As long as he stays low and does not die in combat or wastes his own retinues, that is...

 
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1127

The year of our Lord 1127, Pope Callistus dies. The Preferatus for the Holy Seat is a Cardinal from the powerful Palizzi family that takes the name Leo X.

Bottom right you can already notice that my liege's war with the Duke of Savoy is already not going well... I wonder if my cousin Hermann, who leads armies in Bohemia, how is faring.



Pope Leo has always been a supporter of the "exportation of faith", aka crusades, exactly as his predecessor! :p
He seems a just and diligent Pope. Money from his affluent family will have certainly helped though.

 

Kensai7

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April 19, 1127

The Crusade for Andalusia is finally over, under the new Pope Leo the X. The King of England (and Castille) is the winner. The Arabs have been mostly driven away from the Iberian peninsula! Only two Muslim pockets remain.

 

Kensai7

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July 1127

The battles between the faction of the Duke of Savoy and the Holy Roman Emperor are happening all over the HRE, even near us.



How did I miss this? My cousin, the one I wanted to assassinate, is already dead a year now. He died in the fields of Bohemia, presumably, by an infection of a wound he received in battle. Time to get rid of his kids and grandkids now. (I play this card in my storytelling cause Konrad has the "Cruel" trait).

His useless son is now in control. Well, you cannot call him "uneducated", but as a feudal lord he is not adequate.

 

Kensai7

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September 6, 1127

Our late cousin's son with the same name, Hermann, is such a pathetic piece of lard that even his wife considers to join the plot to get rid of him! In other news, the Duke of Savoy (together with my direct liege the Duke of Swabia) is losing soundly in his war against the Holy Roman Emperor. It won't end well for them...

 

Stuyvesant

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From a few updates back, it looks like Konrad married the wrong Urraca... Spain would've been nice. ;)

The story is ambling along nicely. With your luck so far, I'm not holding my breath that the 'highwaymen' will kill Hermann, but let's see how things play out.
 
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