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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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The Last With Pagan Blood
1066 - ????
Erik 'The Heathen' af Munsö
Jarl of Uppland


We storm ahead with swords and shields, for victory we ride.
We fight the world on these battlefields, to re-erect the pagan pride.
A wind of power blows from the north, the enemy shivers to the core.
We slay with strength, pushing forth, silence before the storm.
The gates of Valhalla open up, The ground beneath us shakes.
As Odin leads the Gods to war, The Rainbow Bridge cracks.*


Table of contents:



Björn Ironside, son of Ragnarr Loðbrók, first King of Svíþjóð and one of the leaders of The Great Heathen Army

Introduction:

Welcome to my first AAR attempt. I always wanted to do an AAR, and now I will actually try my hands at one. Given that I work and play at very slow pace, expect no frequent updates, I hope to manage one per week, but I will try to push this to the end, and not give up after a few chapters. I will start as Erik the Heathen, 26th of December 1066 start, descendant of Ragnarr Lodbrok and scion of famous House af Munsö. The style of AAR may vary from chapter to chapter, since I only started playing, it will involve lots of improvisation. Ironman mode is off, cheating is NOT allowed, but reloads are, especially at the beginning. I also might edit something, to prevent some dynasties from extinction, or to push events in some direction I fancy for the story's sake, but will generally try to go with the flow and not influence things in 'deus ex machina' way ;)
Also I WILL mix some of the historical facts (well, take the term fact in a very loose sense here) with some fiction. Also, I am neither native English speaker, nor Scandinavian, so feel free to correct me if I make some mistakes, especially if I sometimes use some Scandinavian / Norse words for certain places or persons.



House rules:

  • CKII HIP 2.5.2.2
  • Must remain Norse / Asatru pagan. Reformation of Norse paganism is allowed, conversion to Christianity, or any other religion is not.
  • Concubines are only took if they are of noble birth, from major house, or have exceptionally good trait.
  • Will try to get members from famous houses like Karling, Capet, Welf, Wessex, Knytling, Rurikovich, etc, and convert them to Norse paganism.
  • Will try to convert back and have as vassals, members from af Ivar, Knytling and Estrid dynasties.
  • Will try to be tolerant to other religions, but in regions under my rule, will spread Norse. I will be tolerant to other pagan religions as well, but I think Christians and Muslims are not to suffer that leniency. Nikad Krst!
  • No goal set in stone, but the North Sea Empire / Empire of Scandinavia sounds like a good plan.
  • Will ransom or release all female and children prisoners. Males, especially Christian are Muslims, are going to get invitation for great blots.
 
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Chapter I : The Last Conquest

Dress in armour bring your sword and shield,
and your lucky charm.
In dragonships we'll sail the seven seas,
under guiding stars.
Into battle - we will ride,
Gods will follow - by our side.*

When the tale of Erik the Heathen is told, one must take into account the history that preceded him. He came from the House af Munsö, a dynasty of kings and chieftains that ruled in Svíþjóð and had their seat in Uppsala. Dynasty af Munsö was founded by Björn Ironside, but they are actually descendants of even older dynasties, claiming descent from both Óðinn and Freyr. Björn ironside himself in turn was the son of the legendary Ragnarr Loðbrók, chieftain, king and famed Viking, and his father in turn was Sigurðr hringr. Although later Christian sources would have us believe that many of these famed warriors and proud kings were either just a fancy of a Skald's minds, or tales falsely given greater significance, those tales are not to be trusted, for what can a Christian know about a warrior worthy of Valhalla anyway?



However, several things must be mentioned, that lead up to the events in Winter of 1066, as the Christians number years. Ever since Ragnarr and his sons left Miðgarðr and joined famed warriors in the halls of Valhalla, the Norse people were losing ground in the fight against Christians. Ever since Willibrord, Apostle to the Frisians, Christian kings were trying to subjugate and pacify people from the North through means of conversion and Christianity. More than century after Willibrord, St. Ansgar was spreading the word of the Christ in Denmark and Uppsala and Södermanland. Although they did not met with much success at first, slowly the word of the Christian god was spreading through the Northlands. Although they would often preach of their god as a merciful, kind and benevolent, those conversions for the most part included threats of war and invasion in refused, and grants of lands and titles if accepted. Sons of Ragnarr conquered large parts of England, and their descendants ruled in Denmark, Sweden, on the Isles for the large part of the next two centuries, but soon most of them had turned their back on the gods, and converted to the faith of the cross. And although, at first, some of those who did, did it only for convenience, and were not true Christians, their sons, and sons of their sons had soon forgotten Norse gods, their history and their ancestors. In Svíþjóð, Eric the Victorious was crowned the King of All Sweden, but even his son adopted Christianity. In Danish lands, descendants of Sigurdr Snake-in-the-eye adopted Christianity, and even the famed Cnut the Great, who ruled over North Sea Empire, as king of both Denmark, Norway and England was Christian, who discouraged raids against monasteries, and build a first stone church in Denmark. The rapid Christianization of Scandinavia, led to the events in 1060, when King Edmund the Old died, and the Kingdom of Sweden passed from af Munsö dynasty. Although a couple of his predecessors were Christians, Emundr was pagan, and upon his death, the rule passed to Stenkil, Jarl of Västergötland and husband of Emundr's daughter, Ingrid. This left Emundr's pagan son 'Erik the Heathen' both without a throne, although he still ruled as Jarl of Uppland, and meant that the Kingdom of Sweden for the first time was not ruled by af Munsö dynasty.



Denmark was ruled by Svend, on his father's side, he was a descendant of Björn Ironside, while his mother was Estrid, daughter of Sweyn Forkbeard and descendant of Sigurdr Snake-in-the-eye, which meant that he traced his descent to Ragnarr Lodbrok on both sides, but as many, he was Christian, and not very warrior like. When King Stenkil died in 1060, his crown passed down to his Christian son, and although through their mother, him and his brothers were related to Munsö dynasty, the north of the Sweden still remained dominantly pagan. Jarl Eric was both hurt and angry when the crown, which he perceived as his by right, passed to his sister's husband, and their sons, but knew that he could not win it in war. Pagans, Vikings, were as unruly as ever, still considering themselves as kings in their own lands, and were slow to realize that if they do not unite, Christians will soon overrun them. To the west of Uppland, Harald Hardrada ruled as King of Norway, and to the south, Svend II was king od Denmark. And in Sweden, Erik Stenkilsson.


However, soon an opportunity arose, that gave Eric hope. Harald Hardrade won fame in his youth, after his brother King Olaf, later saint as Saint Olaf of Norway, died in a battle, and the rule of Norway passed to Cnut the Great. Harald spent some fifteen years as a mercenary in Kievan Rus, and in Varangian Guard of Miklagard, before returning in 1046 to Norway. He tried at first to win the throne of Denmark, but in 1065, Tostig Godwineson was deposed as Earl of Northumbria, and fled to Hardrada. This marked the beginning of the most turbulent year in the history of England. In January, the last king of House of Wessex, Edward the Confessor died, childless. Tostig's brother Harold Godwineson was elected King of England. But the Norman Duke of Normandy, Williem 'the Bastard' claimed that Edward has promised him the throne of England if he dies childless, as a sign of gratitude for saving his life. At the same time, Tostig convinced Hardrada, that England is ripe for invasion, and that he could claim the throne of England, restore Tostig to Northumbria, and succeed in what even The Great Heathen Army could not, the conquest of England, and be remembered in history as the greatest Viking. Thus it came that Harold Godwinson was preparing to defend his crown against two invasions at the same time.
 
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Dohaeris

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This is looking good (liking that Ragnarr portrait ;)) Viking AARs are always fun, so consider me a reader.
 
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RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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Chapter II: To Kill and Be King

Harken ye all
Lend me your ears
Words of a raven
Don't overhear
Harken ye all
Here lay the fallen
On the gravel
Shoulder to shoulder*

Several riders rode slowly among the whispering trees, while the sun slowly rose from the horizon. Small hill was behind them, and the forest ahead was full of sounds and light. Trees were numerous, but there was room between, they were not arrayed in a thick, dense formation, and plenty of stumps here and there showed that occasionally some of them were felled. They rode in column, three abreast, all but one dressed in wool, swords at hand and shields strapped upon their backs. The one who rode in the middle, in the second row, had a long black hooded tunic, and a cross that hung from his neck, dangling as his horse moved.

"So you are saying that he is not a prisoner?"
"No," said the one who led them, bearded, his long hair braided, and his helm in one hand. "That Christian dog that named himself King sent him to my lands, to proselytize. Are you sure he's dead? Can the news be trusted, Äke?"
"I'm telling you, the King is dead. He died in his bed, coughing blood. Not even his bloody priests could save him."
"And you're sure that traveller can be trusted? I mean about this other news."
"Eri.. I mean, Jarl Erik, I have not seen it with my own eyes, but I believe the man spoke truth. He said that... "
Another man interrupted him, tall, lean, blonde haired and blue eyed, he wore a great sword on one hip, and great axe on the other.
"This year, the kings have been dying here and there. Best hope it doesn't turn into a seasonal thing. Yes, the news are true, I also heard it. King Stenkil of Sweden, may his Christian god piss on him, is dead, died in bend. It doesn't change much, yet it changes everything. His son is crowned king, Erik the Second, may he soon follow his father to an early grave. His not even the only king to die this year. In last year England has had three kings, and it might have been four. Edward the Confessor died, as you all know. What some of you may or may not have heard, is that Harald Godwinson succeeded him as King of England. Harald lived long enough to defeat one pretender, and what a pretender it was. Even though his brother was Saint Olafr, and he Christian himself, he was the greatest living Viking."


The Battle of Stamford Bridge, 1066 [ by jamienobes ]

He stopped, reached for a skin, took a a large gulp of ale from the skin. Although others wanted to start talking at the same time, he silenced them with one gesture, and slowly continued. "Man grows thirsty from telling tales of dying Kings. Kings are not the only ones who were dying in numbers this year, it seems. Sons of Godwine, must have done something to displease the gods. Which one, I can not say, but not many of them still live. Tostig fell, at the hands of his brother's army. Some would call him kinslayer for that, but it was Tostig who starded the war in the first place. Brotherly quarrels aside, Tostig died, along with many good Norwegians, but with them also died Harald Hardrade. Yes, the great Hardrada is dead. Harold Godwinson might have enjoyed his victory, if it was not his brother he slayed. And maybe the gods still considered him Kinslayer, since both Harald, Leofwine and Gyrth perished in the field of battle against The Bastard of Normandy. Soon he will be crowned King of England. Now that is a man I would follow in battle. He may be Christian, but he is a soldier and a king too. Sons of Godwine fell near Hastings, when William crossed the channel, and landed with his invasion force."


The red haired one, spoke again. "I liked Hardrada but he would be a threat if still ruled Norway. His sons will be less of a danger. I don't harbour any illusions that those Christian Jarls will rather crown every son of Stenkil in turn, than give the crown to me. My sister will see to that. I welcome them to try, I will give each of them to Odin, if that is what is needed. This is not only about the crown, or a birthright. If we don't do something, those cross-kneelers will soon overrun Sweden as well. I must unite those Jarls, such as they are, that still follow the old way, the Norse way."

A slim, skinny man, with trimmed beard and keen green eyes spoke: "My lord, Jarls are unruly as you know. They still live in the tales of Ragnarr and his sons. They might accept you as their Jarl, as their King, but they will never agree to submit themselves to the law, the way the Christian lors do. It may be harsh, but we might need to defeat someone in battle, and we can't afford those battles, if we are to fight the Christians in Södermänland."

He sat brooding, anger flashing in his eyes, for a good few minutes, while silence engulfed everyone. "May the gods damn them all, and never grant them entrance to Valhalla. I hate it, but it needs to be done. Sune, see if some of them will agree to serve me, and give all their troops for our war. If not.. send them to Allfather, or to Hel, or to that damned Christian Jesus for all I care."
"As you command, my Jarl."

Another man from the column spoke, his long brown hair and large beard tangled in huge mess of hair and curls. "And this prisoner, is he to be sacrificed to Odin as well?"
Jarl Erik spoke again, laughing. "The priest. No. He is so young, afraid and worthless, it would hardly be a praise for Odin. But he is learned. He knows Christians runes, letters as they call them. He can read and write. But he also knows things, We would be wise to learn something from him. Also, even if Christian, he will be here to see, to witness. And to write it down. His name is Athelstan, and he will be here to be the chronicle of House af Munsö. He will write an account on how the Sons of Allfather had driven the cross away from the North."

 
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stnylan

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Well that is a suitably impressive scene set at the start. I think it is fair to say our protagonist has something of a grudge :D
 
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Chapter III: The War of Two Eriks
1066 - 1074

In the lands where winter is king,
Where deep forests primeval still
Crown brooding mountain-peaks,
There reign as lords the sons of the North!*


First Phase - the Waiting Game

Since the dawn of age, when gods and men walked in Midgard, descendants of Odin ruled in Uppsala, or so they would have us believe. Weather the tale is true or not, is left to others to debate. What we know for certain, is that after King Stenkil of Sweden died, in the year which saw The Six Kings* die, gods put a shooting star on the skies to mark their passing,** or a a sign of a certain Jarl`s rise towards greatness. Be that as it may, after Stenkil died, Jarl Erik of Svíþjóð, convened a moot, with all the Jarls who still followed the Norse ways, attending. Although most of them agreed to support Erik's claim for the throne of Sweden, they refused to give up their old ways, where each Jarl was esentially a petty king, and ruled as he saw fit, refusing to take orders from the King. Knowing that without truly centralized, and unified rule he can not hope to defeat the Christians in the south, Erik did all he could to spread his rule, and gain as much land as possible under his direct control. The evidence are a bit circumstantial, but in the next couple of years, two of the Jarls who vere nominally unde Erik's rule and who swore allegiance to him died without and heir, enabling Erik to gain control of Gästrikland and Alir.




As the news of Hardrada's death and William's rise to the throne of England reached Scandinavia, Jarl Erik sent messages to the southern, mostly Christian rules of lands of Sviariki and Gautariki, demanding to be recognized as the rightful King of Sweden. As expected, the response of Christians, was to crown Erik, the oldest son of Stenkil and Ingrid. Ingrid was daughter of Emundr the Old, and half-sister to Jarl Erik the Heathen, but as her husband and their sons, she was Christian. Unsurprisingly, both Eriks gathered their forces, and decided to settle the matter in the field of battle. As expected, most of those who adhered to the new, Christian god, put their support behind Erik Stenkilsson, while both Jarls and ordinary people who still kept Norse faith, supported Erik the Heathen. The problem for the pagans, was not only that they were outnumbered, not because Christians were more numerous in Sweden, but because pagan Jarls still kept their custom of being semi-independent, autonomous and thus not providing their king with all their troops. unlike Christian feudal lords. As the war for the Swedish throne became imminent, Jarl Erik ordered the expulsion of all Christian missionaries that were working on spreading the word of Christ. Perhaps he would be inclined to show more tolerant face to them, if he wasn't denied, what he considered his both by the word of law, and by birthright, the Swedish crown. However since most of the Christians, and of course the church and all the bishops supported Erik Stenkilsson claim to the throne, as well often showing no tolerance for pagans, they were either imprisoned, or forced to flee to the South. Even bishop of Denmark, Sigtryg was captured and thrown into dungeon, but was allowed to leave in exchange for a hefty ransom paid by the Svend of House Estrid, the King of Danmark.


While the Christian forces gathered in Södermanland, situation for the pagan Jarl turned to worse. Not only that the Jarl Thord of Ångermanland refused to accept Erik as their king, but he sent forces to raid and pillage in the province of Sunded. It is still a matter of debate if this action was taken on his own, or were he paid by King Erik (af Stenkil) to attack Jarl Erik from the north, while Christian forcess advance in the south. Being quick to grasp the danger of being caught between the two enemies, Jarl Erik gathered his forces, and marched north. In a surprise move that of Thord of Ångermanland wasn't expecting at all, his army marched fast during early spring, replicating in a manner, the march of Harold Godwinson towards the city of York. Not only did Erik had an almost 4 to 1 numerical superiority, but he achieved complete surprise and annihilated the raiders of Thord and secured his northern flank from any further intrusions. Although Jarl Thord would still try to do some damage in the next few years, he only managed to send small raiding troops to plunder a few villages in the north, before being finally defeated.[1]


After swiftly dealing with the raid in the north, Jarl Erik quickly turned his attention south. In a few months that it took him to deal with the northern war, Erik Stenkilsson had managed to occupy Västmanland, Instead of rushing south to meet the enemy, Jarl Erik decided to play a waiting game. After taking control of Västmanland, King Erik led his troops towards the Járnberaland, a forested and mountainous region. King Erik hoped to isolate Thane Tjudmund, and prevent him from joining his forces with Jarl Erik. Mystics, prophets and rumours would have us believe Godi Åke of Uppsala advised Jarl Erik to wait, and let the gods take care of Erik Stenkilsson. For whatever reason he decided to, Jarl Erik waited a couple of months with his army in the north. King Erik, at fisrt tried to take the Tudmund's strongold by storm, but failed, and was forced to try to besiege them and starve them out. While besieging the strongholds of Järnbäraland, faced not only hostile population, which refused any kind of help to Christians, raided their supply lines and their camps for food and loot, forcing them to send troops to forage and drag food and supplies from the south, but also an onslaught of heavy snowfall that came unexpectedly in the late spring, and cut their supply lines. While Thane Tjudmund held out, as the summer came, Jarl Erik marched his forces and recaptured forts that King Erik captured during early spring, which were left behind with only minimal garrisons. Jarl Erik than appeared to make a retreat towards Uppsala, which prompted King Erik to try and come down from Járnberaland, and replenish his troops. As soon as the vanguard of King Erik forces reached Västmanaland, Jarl Erik turned his army, and descended upon the Christian forces as they attempted to take back control of the region.





Thus begun the battle that was to shape the fate of the Kingdom of Sweden, the Battle of Köpinghus.


*Six Kings being Edward the Confessor, Harald Hardrada, Edward Godwinson, Stenkil of Sverige, Konan II of Breizh and Fernando 'the Great' of Leon (last two died in December of 1065).
**In 1066 Halley's comet was sighted, as recorded in Bayeux Tapestry.

My main tactic at the begining of the war was to retread, let the AI attack forts, and take losses from both assaulting he forts and attrition from winter and fighting in pagan lands. In the meantime, I dealt with the treacherous Jarl of Ängermanland. He declared subjugation war on me, but lost all his troops, and was thus subjugated by the Chief of Finland. He ocassionaly sent some troops, but none were numerous enough to siege down anything, and I ocassionaly dealt with them until I hit 100% warscore[1] Sometime later, pagan revolt occured in Jamtaland, so the new ruler of the province became Pagan, but since all his event troops got disbanded after he won the war, he was left with no troops at all, and was soon also subjugated by the Chief of Finland. This is something which should probably be changed, so that the AI event troops do not disappear completely leaving him defensless. I considered to subjugate him myself, but couldn't declare war since all my troops were raised. You can actually se some 2500 Finnish troops in one of the screenshots, crossing across Åland.

I managed to assasinate two Jarls, and inherit their lands, and not be discovered by the end of the war, but my third attempt failed and I was discovered, so I got -10 relations, plus -200 from Jarl of Járnberaland.

I think it's not much of a cliffhanger, when you look at the number of troops in the battle, but it seemed like a good point to end this chapter. I would have done all war in one chapter, but I don't have enough time to finish everything right now.
 
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RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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This is looking good (liking that Ragnarr portrait ;)) Viking AARs are always fun, so consider me a reader.
Well that is a suitably impressive scene set at the start. I think it is fair to say our protagonist has something of a grudge :D
Thanks for following. Will try to make this interesting, given that I have seen a large number of great AAR's which sadly died down.

I realized it will take millennia if I make every chapter a story based narrative,so I will switch a bit between styles.
 

Alizon

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I really such complex AARs and people who are truly dedicated to what they do. My subs is going to this gentleman!
Please, do continue.
 
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AvatarOfKhaine

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RhaegarTelcontar? This heretical mixing of Numenorean bloodline and the Reunited Kingdom(s) with those Valyrians is disgusting.

Also subbed I guess. :)
 
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RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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Chapter IV: The Stenkil-slayer

Into battle we ride with Gods by our side,
We are strong and not afraid to die.
We have an urge to kill and our lust for blood has to be fulfilled,
We'll fight till the end and send our enemies straight to Hell.*

As the Christian army slowly dragged towards Nerike, decimated by the late winter snows, lack of food, disease and ambushes set by pagans, the vanguard of Jarl Erik caught up with them. The exact location of the battle is lost, but pagans outnumbered King Erik's army almost two against one, and were in much better fighting shape. One of the key elements in the battle was the fact that the pagan army was smaller, or at least it was when the campaign begun. Jarl Erik, who fought on his own territory, and had support of local population, was able to fed his army, and to march from one end of his Jarldom to another, without letting Christians know his exact position. On the other hand, King Erik earned the enmity of the local populace, by pressuring them to convert to Christianity, and taking the bishop of Sigtuna with him. It mus be noted, that while many Norsemen claimed that they had converted to Christianity, they continued to worship both Christ and the old gods, at the same time.* Be that as it may, most of the population in the north refused to accept Christianity, and thus allied themselves with Jarl Erik. Thus by the time of the battle, the Christian army lost more than half of its strength, and was hungry, tired and depleted. King Erik positioned himself as good as he could, his back against a river, which was fast, strong and swift, with all the water flooding from the melted snows. Christians held both fords to their back. Jarl Erik sent all of his mounted on his right wing, which were not very numerous, while most of his infantry kept in the centre and on the left, with archers and spear throwers behind them. Although both the cavalry and the ranged infantry were not numerous, already demoralized and outnumbered Christians held the first few salvoes, but as soon as Jarl Erik charged, his húskarlar the centre, and his few mounted troops struck the Christians from the flank, the battle was as good as done. Mostly it was a slaughter of Christians, and very few were captured. As Christians rarely showed mercy to pagans, in the battles past, they now reaped what they sow.


"The Shield Wall Breaks", Battle of Two Eriks, near Köpinghus, 1067
(Pic by Tom Lovell, actually battle of Hastings)

During the battle, several important events took place. One of the good and far-sighted events that happened in those times, was the capture of a Christian monk named Athelstan, by Jarl Erik. Although a Christian, and sent on a mission to spread the word of Christ, he was spared, on the condition to become a writer of the Chronicles of Jarl Erik and the history of House af Munö. Thus we have a certain insight into the events of that time. From the Chronicles of Athelstan, in his own words.


"I was there, during the Battle of Köpinghus, although as a man of god, I refused to take part or carry weapons, I was situated with Jarl Erik's small reserve force, that he kept on the small hill, in case they were needed to close the cap or tip the balance of the battle. They were not needed. Jarl led a charge, his personal húskarlar and the best heavy infantry that pagans had. They slammed into the centre of the Christian army, and even their shield-wall could not stop them. Armed with long spears, as well as heavy swords and axes, they were able to breach the shield-wall while the lighter infantry and some berserkers advanced against the Christian left flank, commanded by one of the Stenkil brothers, Inge. Soon the small cavalry that pagans had slammed into the flank of Inge's flank, and they were routed and fled across the fords. Only few actually managed to get across, but Prince Inge was among them. In the centre the situation was different. The best Christian troops were led by Prince Håkan of Sweden, younger borther or King Erik. As they could not withstand the onslaught of the pagans, Håkan tried to lead a charge towards Jarl Erik, in hopes of killing the pagan leader. Although he could be easily killed by Jarl Erik's húskarlars, Jarl Erik ordered his troops to leave Håkan to him and continue pushing the Christian centre until they rout. Thus they engaged in the single combat, but it was a brief affair. Jarl Erik was heated by the battle, and swung his sword with a fierce rage. Håkan managed to block two strikes, one with his axe, one with his shield, but the third one took him in the side, and although it wasn't fatal, wound slowed him down as he was bleeding severely. The next cut, fierce and savage stroke almost broke his wrist, since the shield was strapped to his hand, and as he tried to cut Jarl Erik with his axe, he stumbled to his knee, and Jarl Erik cut a savage strike, cutting through the mail, ribs and meat, spraying meat, blood and bone, cuting his way right to the Prince Håkan's heart.




As Prince Håkan died, Christian forces routed, and tried to run across the fords. The first ones who did get across tried to hold the fords against the pagans, and give a chance for their brethren to come across the flooded river and take a narrow stand. But it was not enough. The pagans give pursuit, following closely, not allowing the Christian forces to make a stand on the other side of the river.






As the forces of Jarl Erik pushed through the remnants of an Christian army, and across the fords, a band of húskarlar gathered and formed a shield-wall, as best as they could. They realized they were facing imminent defeat, but just for the moment, they outnumbered the attackers, given that the fords were narrow, and pagans had to cross the river under sling and arrow fire as well. Sensing the opportunity, the shield-wall broke for a moment, and several warriors came rushing forward, in a savage, desperate attempt to stop the pagans from advancing. Thus it came that two pretenders to the throne of Sweden, met on the field of battle. Like it was so often the case in the poems and sagas written by skalds and bards, King Erik af Stenkil met face to face with Jarl Erik af Munsö, both armed with a shield and a sword. As they were both enraged by the heat of the battle and the death that surrounded them, they throw themselves at their enemy, parrying and cutting in a series of fast, savage blows. Both Eriks were wounded, but the wounds were light, and it only made them angrier. But the battle was a quick matter, and the Christian god was not with his king on this day. As King Erik parried, he was too slow, and in one savage blow, Jarl Erik cut of his right hand. King Erik stumbled to the ground, falling to his knees, as in that moment the battle halted, for a second, both Christians and Pagans looking at the dying king. With a fierce and savage anger, Jarl Erik kicked at his shield, forcing kneeling King Erik to fall to the ground, put his foot on the throat of King Erik, and plunged his sword into his heart.

It was on that day, that the Christians lost the war. Some say that those who slay their own kin, are accursed in the eye of gods. I do not know if that is also true for those slain in the battle, or in personal combat. And they also say that the traitors and usurpers are cursed as well. Weather the Norse gods cared to take a look at the battle, and to answer the prayers of the warriors, or did the Christian god abandoned his soldiers I can not say. By the dusk of that day, the effort to bring Christianity to the Northern Sweden was lost, the back of the Christians was broken, and a King and a Prince of Christain Sweden lay dead, slain by the pagan sword on the field of battle. Two out of the four sons of King Stenkil died that day, two nephews of Jarl Erik, slain by his own hand."



This was broken any Christian hope of pacifying and subjugating Sweden. The war was far from over, but initiative and advantage passed to Jarl Erik. The road to the south, where most of the thanes and jarls were Christian, lay open. Jarl Erik decided to punish the ones who refused him, in his effort to take the throne. As the armies of the south were routed, there was no one to stop the pagans from plundering, raiding and conquering the south. Of course attempts were maid to turn the tide of the war in Christian favour again, but they all failed. With the cream of the warriors and nobles either perished or taken captive at the battle, there were not enough resources to raise another army. And any help from outside was thwarted, Magnus King of Norway was busy defending his possessions in Skottland, and while Svend of Denmark was busy with internal struggles and a matter of succession, as well as a threat from both Pommeranian pagan tribes, and the Holy Roman Empire. Thus, Jarl Erik was left with a free hand, and for the next sex years, the pagans raided and pillaged all across the Sweden, extorting bribes and ransoms, and sacking and plundering when and where the local Christian rulers refused to pay them to leave.

After the battle, Jarl Erik the Heathen, became known, especially among those who adhered to the Old Gods, as Jarl Erik the Stenkil-slayer.


*This is actually true, to a certain extent. Some believe that Hardrada both prayed and offered sacrifice (not human) to both old gods and Jesus, before he set sail for England. Also there are reports of Vikings wearing Cross around their neck, but inverted, as to resemble the Hammer of Thor. Historical accuracy of many of similar claims is not always certain, and many Scandinavian people probably know it better than I do, but it seems it was not unusual to be both Viking and Christian in a way, in early medieval Scandinavia.

As you can see on the screenshots, actually Håkan and Erik died in two different battles, but for the sake of the narrative I decided to make it one big battle. After I defeated Erik in the first battle, he was virtually left with only a few hundered troops, and given that I had almost 4 thousand, it was only a matter of time when I will be able to push to 100%. I decided to actually raid for plunder every single province that I could (the ones that border me, plus all the others that have sea borders where I raided with ships. I only left Gotland, because they had thousand or so troops, and although I could win that, I wanted Gotland to remain prosperous merchant republic, and did not wanted to risk amphibious assault.

As you can see from the screenshots, Håkan and Erik actually died in two separate battles, but I think it fits the narrative better to make it one decisive battle, given that the second battle was ridiculously easy to win, Erik was left with less than 900 troops.

Again, I wanted to cover more ground, but writing takes more time than I imagined. So, the battle and the hints of the immediate aftermath

Also, I tried and failed, to make a half-decent map:


Also to be quite honest with you, I did a couple of reloads, because randomness, and quite frankly Erik sucks as personal combat. (I tried a few times to take ambition to develop personal combat skill, but it never does anything for adult characters, so I picked become the king of Sweden on day one on this playthrough.


Also, thank you all for the comments, I really appreciate it. Writing a good AAR is not easy, so I really appreciate every comment.

And yes, my nick is a mixture of my two fav books / favourite characters from those books :)
 

Specialist290

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And so the power of the Stenkils is broken on the field of battle. Hopefully Jarl Erik can press the advantage and claim the throne as his own.

The firsthand account of the battle was a nice touch. I think that little things like that help to flesh out the story.
 
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stnylan

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A mix of both elements seems fine. A good account of the battle, nicely dramatic :)
 
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RhaegarTelcontarTargaryen

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Chapter V: Where Silent Gods Stand Guard

I will die with sword in hand,
And then my seat's secured.
When Oden calls from golden hall,
He will greet me at the door.*


She was a pretty woman, when she was young, you could tell. But all the years and troubles that burdened her could be seen now on her face. She aged, looked older than the years she has had. She stood tied to a large wooden pole, decorated and carved with runes. Next to her, three hooded figures stood, dark and silent. Beyond her, loomed a huge structure situated a top of a hill. The base of the structure was stone, but it was made of wood, several stories high with large tower at the back peaking high between the dense treetops. The building was situated atop a hill, largest hill in the close proximity of the temple, although not very high, and surrounded by dense forest and a bit further, hills even higher, forming the shape of an amphitheatre. Two large poles stood near the entrance and were crowned by two large brazier that gave fire and light. Around the building a huge golden chain was hanged, like if it was to chain and lock the building itself in place. Above the entrance a huge snake, a dragon actually, loomed looking down an the entrance and guarding the building. Well, the dragon was carved, mostly made of wood, but remarkably lifelike, painted and adorned, to such an extent, that from afar, those foolish enough, mistook it for a real, live beast. Inside the large wooden hall was a statute of three gods, huge, made of wood and stone, showing Thor, Odin and Freyr, each god having his own priest. Behind the main tall building on the front of the temple, a long hall continued for some hundred meters or so, with smaller buildings on the sides. It was more a complex of one large front building and several shorter but longer halls, connected by halls and underground tunnels. Few miles further from the building, small town, or a large village, whichever you prefer lay, near the coast of the sea. The village was called Uppsala, the temple on the hill was the Temple of Uppsala, the most sacred Norse place, a temple which according to legend, was build by Freyr himself.*


Temple of Uppsala ( Image by Mitze )
Thus was the Princess Ingrid of Sweden, wife of King Stenkil and mother of his three legitimate son's brought back the the place she knew since she was a child, to and ancient Norse temple at Uppsala, where her father Emmundr came to bring sacrifice and pray to the old gods. It was strange for her to be back, after all those years, and even stranger to await her brothers judgement, where once as children they came to watch their father honour the Old Gods.

After the disastrous defeat of the Christians at the Battle of Köpinghus, or "The Battle of Two Eriks", as it became known, the war raged on for more than six years. Most of it was fought in the south, in the Gaetish lands, and although there were several battles, they were mostly one sided skirmishes between numerically superior Norsemen, and the remnants of the Christian armies, that tried to offer some kind of resistance. Jarl Erik, in both an attempt to prove that he is a Viking chieftain worthy of his forbearer's, and to financially recover for paying and maintain his army during the long years of the war, plundered all the Christian lands that he could. Forts, castles, villages and cities, but especially churches and monasteries were looted and plundered all over Sweden.



in the middle stages of the war, after King Erik died on the field of battle, King Halsten Stenkilsson, invited both Chief Ihala of Suomalaiset, and Knjes Budivoj nakonid to his aid, encouraging them to attack and pillage Åland islands, as well as the coastal regions of Uppsala.



Thus the war itself lasted for a decade, but in the end, it proved prosperous and advantageous endeavour for the Pagans. Their lands were not under serious threat, there were no raids and looting, while many goods and treasures were taken from the mostly Christian south, and brought back as plunder. This influx of riches and goods caused a significant increase in trade, as well as boosting Jarl's taxes.

However, not every thing went in Jarl Erik's way without any trouble of obstacles. Staying true to they ancient ways of every Viking being a 'King' in his own land, Thane Olaf of Åland tried to actually rise himself to the status of Jarl, and act as a partner, rather than a vassal to Jarl Erik. Although he was set on trial for treason, being in a state of war meant that Erik was willing to avoid conflicts with his allies-vassals, and was willing to set free Thane Olaf in exchange for a substantial ransom.

It is fair to say that Jarl Erik did not have too many allies in the south. But even although he stayed true, at least in his deeds, if not in his heart to King Stenkil, and King Erik, Thane Toke was a pagan in his beliefs, and a Viking in his heart. However he was the one most inclined to take the peaceful solution to the conflict, and urged both King Erik and later King Halsten and Jarl Erik, to find a solution not only to the war and the matter of throne, but also to find a way in which Christians could leave in peace with the heathens. Weather his death was as natural as it seems, or it was some part of an undiscovered conspiracy, as some would have us believe, is unknown. What is true for certain, is that after his death, last pagan ruler in Gaetlands was gone, and his lands were divided to more fervent Christian supports of King Halsten.




Another heathen who payed the price was Kol af Sverker. His son, Sven, was given the title Jarl of Östergötland. During the war of two Eriks, he refused to convert to Christianity, but in an attempt to pacify the heathens in the south, he was married to Princess Ingrid af Munsö, the half-sister of Jarl Erik, and widow of King Stenkil. However, as the war turned for the worse, and pagans gained the upper hand, and laid waste to the Christian lands of the south, Kol af Sverker was imprisoned by his own son, Jarl Sven, and thrown into dungeon. Sven believed, and probably with a good reason, that Jarl Erik would put Kol in his place, given that he was still pagan, take the lands of Östergötland from him and raise his father to his position. Indeed, from the chronicles of Athelstan, we can understand, that Jarl Erik did plan to take exactly that course of action, and let his half-sister remain his wife, in hope of pacifying the Christians once he was crowned and gained control of the whole realm. That plan was shattered to pieces, when Kol af Sverker died a prisoner of his own son. He was an old man, and not of great health, but weather his death was natural or no, is another point of debate between the Christians and the Pagans, that remains to this day.

Let us return to the famed Uppsala Temple. Adalbert of Hamburg, and Adam of Bremen would have us believe that Norsemen were wild, uncivilized brutes, and savages, more fit for animal den than civilized society. While their opinion is certainly biased and full of prejudice towards non-Christians, and while Christian chronicle of Jarl Erik, certain Athelstan of Uppsala, cast a far more favourable light towards pagans, even he admits that they adhere to certain practices that are considered barbaric - human sacrifices. It is said, that in the woods around the Uppsala Temple, every nine years, nine male specimens of "every living creature" are made as a sacrifice for the Gods. Those sacrifices were usually made during Winter months,

However, on the eve of Midsommar, summer solstice in the year of 1076, several months after the peace was agreed, Jarl Erik was crowned as the King of Sweden, and King of All the Swedes. However one event predates the crowning itself, and that event is important, because of all the consequences that it bears. During the raiding in the south, sometime in 1072 / 1073, Princess Ingrid, Jarl Erik's half-sister was captured.



It was of great luck and value, for the later historians that Jarl Erik was wise enough to spare the monk he captured, and keep him as his chronicler, writer and "keeper of the records". Thus we can have a witness account of the events that happened in front of the temple.

When Princess Ingrid was captured, she was taken north to Hatuna, and then to Uppsala. When she was chained and bound to the pole in front of the temple, they sent for Jarl Erik. Brother and sister met, for the first time after many years, in a place which both used to visit with their father when they were young.

.At first, Jarl Erik offered to give her freedom, if she helps to achieve a peace agreement with her son, King Halsten. She refused, calling Halstenthe only rightful King of Sweden, the one chosen by lord and saviour. She was offered freedom, iin exchange for a small ransom, on the condition that she denounces Christianity, an offer she refused, spitting Jarl Erik in the face, and calling him a spawn of demon, and a kinslayer. Jarl Erik said that he had slain both of her sons on the field of battle, in a combat, and that both of

"I offer you freedom, if you would help me achieve peace with your son, Halsten. If we come to an agreement, and he accepts me as his true King, I will recognize him as Jarl and Thane."
"You are no true King, and almighty God will never allow you become one. You are just an usurper, and a murderer. There is only one King of all the Swedish people, Halsten, son of Stenkil."
"You stand in front of the temple of the gods. Yet you are prisoner. I see your god had offered you no help. But I might be willing to give you some. If you want, I will send a word to your son, asking him to pay ransom for you. You will be held in Hatuna, until word reaches.. " She interrupted him, words filled with anger.
"He will never negotiate with you. You are a spawn of demon, a devils seed. You spoil and befoul anything you touch. God will take you and cast you down to hell, so you can burn for eternity, as befits a murdered and a kinslayer."
"Murderer? Kinslayer? How am I a kinslayer. I fought both Håkan the bastard, and your son Erik, that is true, and I have slain them both. In personal combat, on the field of battle. I offered them to surrender, both before the battle and when I met them with a sword in hand. They refused, both of them. For what it means, Erik fought well and true, with ferocity and courage. I would have spared him, and gladly, had he given me a chance."
"They would have cast you down, kill you and rip your black foul hart out if they had a chance."
"Well, sister, as it happens they did not have a chance, and I sent your son to that lying god of yours. Must I do the same with you? Must I do the same to your other two surviving sons? Do not presume and pretend to me, to be better than I am. A fought your precious Erik with a weapon in my hand. You lot conspired to send an assassin to kill my own son, young Ragnar, while he still could barely walk, and reward the murderer with land and titles. Is that the way your merciful and kind hearted god works?"

By the time he finished, he was filled with anger, but it was nothing compared to her. Ingrid's eyes were cold fire, as if she wanted to cut everyone with her eyes as if it were swords. Her voice was thick with anger, with contempt and venom.

"You and your filthy foul creature you begot on that slut that claims to be Christian yet lays with the likes of you will both burn for eternity. Heathen spawn of demon and a kinslayer is what you are. A foul murderer, whoever slays that brat of yours is only doing a work of god."
"A work of god? So killing children now is a work of god? Let me give you an offer, sister." He spat out the word sister, as if it was a curse. "Denounce that Christ of yours, denounce your god, denounce the cross, and swore in front of everyone, in front of Odin, Thor and Frey inside the temple, that you accept them as your gods, and I will let you go. I will forgive you everything, I will let you go to your husband Kol. I intend to make him a thane or Jarl when the war is done. I will spare your sons if I can, I will even let them keep most of their lands, if they surrender and accept me as their king. This war has dragged for far too long, I want.."
"The war had just begun, murderer. It will only end in your and death of your line. We shall slay all of you, and then bring the word of god to these pagans, and tear down that foul temple. Jesus said 'Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.' So too shall we be the sword that cleanses the earth."
"You condemn yourself with your own words, my dear sister." And with that, Jarl Erik pulled out his sword from his scabbard and buried it deep in her sisters heart, while the Dark Gods looked in silence, her blood fell to the holy ground of Uppsala.

Athelstan of Uppsala, chronicler of Jarl of Uppland and Konungr of Sviariki

Some two years later, at the same place, Erik af Munsö was crowned as King of Sweden, on the night of Midsummer of 1076, in front of the Old Gods. It was on this night that the Chronicler Athelstan uttered the famous words. "My Jarl.. My King. As you know, you have captured me as Christian. And to this day, I have seen that pagans can be just and cruel, generous and greedy, brave or cowards, noble and treacherous. You have warred with my Christian brethren, yet allowed me to stay true to my Christian fate to this day. Thus I will tell you, as I own you more than just my life. You have won the war, you have taken the crown that belong to your ancestors. Yet the Christians will never accept you. They may accept you as they liege, they may swear fealty to you in front of Christ or in front of the Old Gods. But they will never love you, never accept you as their King and their overlord. And they will look for every opportunity to cast you and your heirs down, and take your crown."

*Historical existence of the Temple of Uppsala is undisputed, although the exact location, as well as the size and description of the temple itself is. Best description comes from Adam of Bremen, who, for all we know, never saw the temple with his own eyes. Even worse, the account is very much biased, since it was made by Christians, who had a very ... bad opinion of heathens, to put it mildly, and looked down on them. Given all that, I took that description and some pretty much 'fantasy' pictures I found on-line as a basis for my description of the temple, and added a few details myself.

My tactic was simple, I split forces in two, larger force of ~3k raided, while a smaller, some 500 hundred, would move in after they finish raiding the province and besiege it down, so to capture it and increase war score. I hit 100% as early as 1069 I think, or 1070, but I wanted to plunder all I could, so I can build up a reserve of cash, to build retinues and hire mercenaries, as I expected that at some point Danes or Norwegians would declare war on me. It might not happen, given that Norwegians fought and lost two wars against Scotland, and Danes are busy with some infighting, as well as Slavs from the Baltic and HRE...

Beside all the loot that I gathered, and it was a fairly significant amount (almost as much as I took by ships, and I only have screenshot of one, out of the two loots that I brought in with ships, plus the amount from bordering provinces that went directly to my treasury). I also gathered tithe some 3 times I think, not exactly sure, but I think it was between 2 and 4.

I wanted to show a bit of the war, but most of the 10 years of war, 8 after that first battle was raiding and siege-ing down provinces, and chasing occasional raiders and those few hundred that King Halsten managed to raise. Although there are not many events to show during that time, it was very tense and I was anxious since I expected that some of the surrounding kingdoms will declare war on me, but I was lucky enough that I didn't lose many troops, and Christians were busy fighting, so I was not that much of a tempting target.

Yes it's a dramatic scene and a dialogue. I read way too much GRRM xD She actualy died a prisoner in a dungeon from poor health but I wanted to give it a bit more sense and make a scene out of it.
 
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GoldenShotgun

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Damn, that Ingrid death scene....that is how you write pure unholy HATRED.

Nice tactic with the raid/siege combo; you earned that kingship big time!
 
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Twighlight Array 17

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Damn, that Ingrid death scene....that is how you write pure unholy HATRED.

Nice tactic with the raid/siege combo; you earned that kingship big time!
But all the while wrapped up in pretentions to piety.
 
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stnylan

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A very crimson conclusion, as it were. So, what now? :D
 

Specialist290

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A very emotionally-charged scene there. It seems Jarl Erik was doing everything he could to save his sister, and yet she spurned his every offer. I have to wonder if she hoped she could galvanize the remaining Christians into resistance and rebellion by making herself into a martyr.
 
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